Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 29

Today, March 29th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

A little sanitizer now slathered on my hands, I rubbed vigorously, then carefully removed my shoes and hung up my coat.  An unexpected trip to the bank to replace a hacked debit card had forced me out of the house, and now, having completed the reentry process- removing rubber gloves, Lysol spraying the new debit card, sanitizing hands – I was ready to join my family, safely in the house again.

Suddenly, I heard the voice of my four-year-old from within the house, “Daddy?! Are you home?”

“Yes, honey, I’m back home,” I responded casually.  “How are you?”

Then, “We have friends here!”

Wait, what did she just say?

With the shelter-at-home order still firmly  in place in Connecticut, I knew no one should be in the house.  Who could possibly be here? I wondered.  Slightly unnerved, I cautiously proceeded through my wife’s studio-office toward the main living space.  Before this time, the words ‘friends are here’ would have stoked a joyful curiosity.  Interesting how not it created a silent panic, a fear now familiar to all living through this period.

Then, turning the corner, there she stood. “See?” she said, greeting me with a huge, impish smile.  “Friends are here!”  In her delicate, little hands, my daughter held up her brightly-colored, plastic toy laptop- the one that counts and sings nursery rhymes.  She held the “laptop” to face me, so that I would look at the nine-paneled display (that lights up to the rhythm). My daughter then shifted her gaze from me to the toy screen. Clearly, she was indicating that we were on a zoom call using her device.

“See?” she repeated. “Friends are here!”

“That’s great, honey,” I said, relaxing.  “It’s always so great when we can visit friends, isn’t it?”

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 28

Today, March 28th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

The countdown begins.  Wait, didn’t it?  Let me start over…am I recording? Was I recording?  I wonder to myself.  But where is the stop button?  Frantically, my eyes crawl blindly around the computer screen.  Oh wait, there it is.  Bottom left hand corner.  Got it.  Stop.

Okay, I say quietly taking a breath, let’s try that again.  Repositioning the tattered book in front of me, I prepare to read aloud again.  With right hand on my new mouse, I navigate back to the first slide of the presentation.  Here we go.  3, 2, 1, “Hi, readers!” I begin.  Suddenly, from outside my nearby window, a thunderous chopping noise invites itself unwanted into the room.  At first, I endeavor to continue reading the story.  Then, no.  It is just too loud.  Pause the video.  I rise from my “desk” (which is actually a rectangular dining table), walk over and, stepping through the legos and dolls on the floor, peer through the glass.  Outside, tree workers climb into their truck.  Looks like they’re moving down the road now, towing their heavy mulching equipment behind them, away from my house.  Okay, well that’s good.

So let’s begin again, I think.  I settle into my chair, reposition the book, sit up straight, and . . .lights, camera, action!

Then the phone.  Unable to help myself, I glance down at the caller idea screen.  It is my 81-year-old father.  “Hi, Dad,” I say.  He needs help with his email.

Perhaps I’ll try to record this read aloud tomorrow.

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 27

Today, March 27th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

In today’s post, I venture beyond my comfort zone. But inspired by fellow slicers like Kevin Hodgson and others who bravely pen their thoughts in verse and post them for the world to read, I share these thoughts as a poem today.


A whirlwind of change
like a net
cast upon fish
we are pulled abruptly
from the world we knew
Not our wish

But as spring sprouts
burst forth
from the once-winter soil
so, too, new learning
the fruits of this toil

Let this not be
a journey
of sorrow
but one of renewal 
and hope
for a better morrow

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 26

Today, March 26th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

“Daddy, can we please, please go outside? I wanna go sledding!” 

I popped the final bite of my tuna fish sandwich into my mouth and looked out the window.  Clear, bright sunshine reflected off the once-budding but now snow-covered ground.  Pulling my gaze back from the window, I met the hopeful face of my four-year-old daughter.  Lunch now finished, she was insistent.  “I’ve got to take a call,” I heard my wife say as she exited the room, reminding me that our work lives are now a constant balancing act.  My turn to watch the kids. Maybe we should go outside?

“Okay, let’s do this, girls!” Speaking loud enough from the dining room that my two eldest in the living room could hear, I resolved to embrace this moment.  “This may be our last chance to sled!”

*      *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Outside, the air felt crisp.  All of us, now covered in January snow gear (did I mention it was late March?), turned toward the expansive sea of white that was now our backyard.  “You girls think you can still all fit on the sled?” I asked.  One by one, each of them arranged herself onto our purple plastic sled, proving to me that they could.  Looking down at the three of them, I felt myself suddenly gripped by nostalgia.  Would this be the final time I could pull them – all three of them – down the hill? I’ve realized it is true what people say: They grow up fast.  Indeed, they do.

I grabbed the yellow rope in my gloved hand and turned to face the snowy downgrade.  “Okay girls, here we go!”


Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 25

Today, March 25th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Carefully, I dialed *67 on my iPhone, then the phone number.  I checked the time.  Eleven a.m. Earlier in the morning, I had sent an email, inviting a check-in with me.  Just to see how things were going.  Her mom had responded quickly, replying that her daughter would be happy to talk.  That she missed me.  Could we talk today? I wrote back- yes, today would work just fine.  How about eleven?

After dialing the number, I heard the ringing begin on the other end of the line.  Then an answer.  “Hi, Mr. Ball!” We chatted for a little while.  Yes, she has been reading.  Everyday.  Yes, her parents are trying to work from home.  Yes, she has already finished her assignment in science.

During this time, I have begun to realize all we have been taking for granted: A handshake or hug from a colleague or friend; a night out at a restaurant.  A ball game.

Or just a simple chat with a student.

Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 24

Today, March 24th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

Pandemic Journal - Day 12

How will this go?

How will I do?

What will they learn

when this is through?

The quiet chimes of the iPhone alarm bring me forth from sleep.  It is 4:30 a.m. Immediately, I realize I am awakening from a restless night. Dreams filled with Google classroom, distance learning thoughts, and anxiety. My room remains pitch black, as it did when I slipped into bed the night before.  The darkness, thick in its presence, seems to symbolize how I feel. Where I am. Where we all are now.

I am really not sure.  Of a lot of things.  Like the room in which I now lie, many things are present, I know they are there.  But I cannot see them.   What could those things be? I wonder in desperation.

Someone once told me, life is a bit like driving through a dark tunnel.  Headlamps only show us perhaps 200 feet ahead.  Now, I feel as though one headlamp has been smashed out, leaving only the other.  Which is covered in debris.

As silently as possible, I don warmer clothes, fumble for my glasses, and make my way downstairs. Time for day one.


Slice of Life Story Challenge 2020 Day 23

Today, March 23rd, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

“We want to read this book!”  I stood in my dining room, now alit with bright sunlight streaming in through the sliding glass door.  Taking the book gently from my oldest daughter’s hands, I read the title: Bed-knob & Broomstick, by Mary Norton.

I felt my eyebrows raise, just a bit.  This is the book you want to read aloud?” I asked, placing great emphasis on the first word.  I had tasked my two oldest daughters to run upstairs and, among the hundreds of books we own, to choose a book Papa would read aloud to them while schools remain closed.  I expected the girls to select something . . . well, more modern, perhaps?  But I suppose this made sense since our previous read aloud (last summer) had been The Phantom Tollbooth, another older title.

Looking up from the cover, I saw two two hopeful faces. I could tell there would be no changing their minds.  I flipped quickly to the copyright date, and a new worry suddenly arose.  1957.  Hmm, yikes.  Now, I had heard of this book but had never read it.  What if it didn’t pass muster in regards to cultural sensitivity?  What about representation?  Or diversity of characters?  Now I could feel my eyebrows furrowing.  Back up to their faces.  “You’re sure?” 


Well, I thought.  These are my children.  I’ll navigate this with them.  Try to address whatever comes up.  The book is a bit of a ‘classic’, isn’t it?  

“Okay, girls,” I said.  “You want to start right now?”  They did.