Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 7 #sol19

Birthday moment…

The lights out and candles lit, I watched as the cake wobbled in.  As my oldest daughter, the carrier of the cake, initiated the singing of the traditional birthday song, I watched as she worked to balance the beautiful (but heavy) plate in front of her.  Step.  Step.  Whoa.  Step.  Two other daughters and wife soon joined in the singing.

I basked in the moment.

Celebrating at our own marred, paint-stained dining table (rather than the lovely and rustic Village Restaurant in town), I sighed…and silently gave thanks for my three year-old daughter’s improved health.  Only 18 hours prior to this cake-and-singing moment, my wife and I had been huddled with the toddler in the soft glow of a blue whale nightlight, as she vomited in the upstairs bathroom.  With her temperature soaring over 101 degrees, all plans for dining out were dashed.

So here we were… making the best of plan B.  And she felt better, I could tell. No more fever.  Using her new-found strength and pulling her chair close to mine, she said, “I’m gonna sit by you, Daddy!”

So sweet.

Someone once said, “There are people in the world who would give anything to have what you have.”  I guess I lean on that phrase for perspective.  To remember that I truly am so fortunate.  So fortunate.


Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 6 #sol19

Snow Day

Snow day

Snow play

A time from school to be away

Hillsides so bright

No lessons to write

Just reading, sledding, and snow cones to bite

A snowman we built

On nature's white quilt

No worry, no hurry, no stress nor guilt

"I'll get a carrot for a nose!"

And up the hill she goes

Up to the house, running in joy, 
my daughter wearing her 
warm snow clothes

Back she ran

Carrot in hand

A girl with a mission, a storm-inspired, child-like plan

And two stones for eyes

To look up at the skies

Snowman complete, returning inside we decide would be wise

So to hot cocoa we go

In a house where we know

Our beautiful snow day will continue to flow


Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 5 #sol19

Hands at her sides, she moves close to me.  The movement feels familiar, the request a silent one.  Pick me up, Papa, she says without saying it.  Although she is nine now and a big girl, she still issues the request from time to time.  The request to scoop her up off the floor and whisk her upstairs to bed.

Bending down, I oblige, kissing the top of her head as I do so.  My first baby, I think.  Such a big girl now, but still little.

Daughter securely in my arms now, we pivot toward the stairs.  “Wait, Papa, my book!”  Using a left hand, she points to the thick Harry Potter book on the coffee table.  So I bend my knees, allowing her to gather her beloved text.  So silly of me, I think, never would she want to go to bed without reading.  Now with an armload of precious cargo, we head up the stairs.

As a parent, many times…many times, I feel I’ve failed on multiple fronts.  Should have done that better.  Shouldn’t have done that.  Need to get to this.  Haven’t taught that yet.  Did that wrong.  Parents reading this likely know what I mean.

But tonight, I feel success.

Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 4 #sol19

One by one, we made our way in.  The day had felt long, and everyone seemed to be exhibiting quiet relief as they entered the room, books in hand.  Small conversations, friendly banter, gradually and organically began to bubble up as more of my colleagues sauntered in from the hallways. The aroma of cheese pizza, two of them resting at the center of a table now adorned with a red and white checked tablecloth, permeated the room.

Today would mark our second book club meeting, and I will admit to feeling slightly uneasy.  The book I had selected for us to read, a young adult novel aimed at middle school students… well, hadn’t really ‘grabbed me’ yet; and I worried that others I’d invited to join the club may now be feeling similarly. They may be also regretting their decision to join the club.

Everyone settled in, grabbing a slice of pizza. As they did so I silently marveled at the cross section of our school staff who occupied places around the table: a math teacher, a history teacher, a Spanish teacher, an English Language Arts teacher, a French teacher… “So lovely to see this convening of such an unlikely group,” I thought to myself, even though five others had said they were unable to attend today’s meeting.

But I worried.  And I tried to read faces. Did they regret the decision?

Suddenly, someone said, “I really like this book!”  Another person agreed.  And slowly, it came to be revealed that all but one of them genuinely did like the book.  I breathed a silent sigh of relief.  And as the conversation about the book ensued, I noticed my own tepid affinity for the book began to grow and expand.  Listening to others’ perspectives, ideas, and interpretations of the story– along with the emotion my colleagues were expressing– helped me see the book in a new way.

But not only did I begin to appreciate the book in new ways, I also began to appreciate my colleagues a little more.  This conversation, this unique way of coming together around a common text, seemed to forge new connections between us and broaden our understandings of one another.  Talking about this book allowed us to step out of our typical roles and known personas and relate… differently.  And in doing so, I felt as if all of us in that room not only deepened our thinking about the book, but each other.

Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 3 #sol19

Life lessons from the Wigwam Challenge

The door closed.  We were locked in.  Looking around, I could immediately see that all of us- my wife, five friends and I- had clearly passed into another world.  The murals, the foliage- and, of course, the wigwam– that adorned the interior of the “Wigwam Escape Room” stunned all of us with their authenticity.

But it was time to get to work.

“You’ll have sixty minutes to complete your task,” our guide, Lauren had said before we entered.  “And you’ll need to work together. No cell phones are allowed inside.  You’ll only be able to gauge time by the light and the birdsongs you hear.”

Once inside, and at first without speaking, my team fanned out.  Suddenly to our left, an animal appeared.  “A deer!” someone announced.  Lauren, chief designer of this “Wigwam Challenge” at the Institute for Native American Studies Museum and Research Center, had told us we would need to “hunt” animals. “But be careful,” she’d warned, “they ‘scare’ easily.”  Spotting the deer, all of us quickly crouched to the ground, not wanting to “frighten” the fake deer now illuminated in LED light from above.  A quick and unanimous vote established that my friend Patrick would be our hunter.  (Personally, I have never had the stomach for this activity in real life.  Even if the deer was make-believe, I knew I needed a different job in this challenge).

As Patrick grabbed a faux spear and began to creep toward the pretend deer, my eyes scanned the room.  At this point, everyone seemed to be doing the same– exploring, taking it all in.  Finally, over my right shoulder, I promptly noticed something significant.  The Native American backpack!  “Your main job,” our guide had instructed, “is to find and fill the Native backpack with the four items you’ll need for the journey your tribe is about to embark on.”  So this must be that pack, I thought, as a smile crossed my face.

Quickly, while recorded Warblers sang in the background, I motioned for my friend Jamie to join me.  I showed her what I’d found, and together we removed the replica of a Native canteen from the backpack and began searching for a way to fill it.  To my left, I noticed that in short order, my wife and Patrick’s wife were engaged in a different puzzle of some sort.  Something to do with cooking meat. And our other two friends seemed to working on “harvesting” some type of crop.

In the end, our team completed the challenge in 57 minutes.  Success!  Afterwards, we were asked by the staff (who had been watching us through hidden cameras) what we learned through this experience.  Someone said, “Collaborating and working together made the difference.”  Another said, “We played to our strengths to accomplish the overall mission.”  Still another person answered, “When something became hard for one person, another would suggest a different approach.”

Great life lessons from the Wigwam Escape Challenge.