A Slice of Life

Archive for March, 2013


My Own Slice of Life on Hands

I have very clear pictures in my mind of certain people’s hands. It seems odd to me but at different times in my life I can picture different people’s hands. For example, I can picture my Grandpa’s hands so clearly even though I haven’t seen them in many years. Two fingers shorter than the rest because of an accident, a cigarette in between his fingers, wrinkled knuckles, working hands, tired hands. I can picture a pastor’s hands, Pastor Reed, specifically at a wake for one of my grandparents. He apologized for coming so late and put out both of his hands, palms turned upward. I remember studying them for that split second. I can still see them today. I have no idea why certain images like these have stayed with me. I know that my Grandpa was always working so if I was around him I was probably watching what he was doing – hammering, drilling, building, smoking, touching the back of his hand to his forehead, always using his hands. I never paid attention to the pastor’s hands during church services but I will never forget his hands at the wake. I can’t figure out why.

So I started thinking about my parents’ hands. The ones that held mine as a child. My dad’s working hands, know how to fix everything hands, holding tools hands, opening jars hands, catching a ball hands, holding his pipe hands, rough hands, pinch my face hands, hold my kids’ hands. Then there are my mom’s thin hands, with pink polished nails hands, smell like lotion hands, doing the dishes hands, holding a baby bottle hands, rings on her fingers hands, holding my kids’ hands.

And then the most precious hands. Johnny’s grasping toys hands, pulling on my hair hands, rubbing my husband’s beard hands, touching the side of my face hands, holding on to my hand when I help him hold his pacifier in his mouth hands, with a thin line to separate his arm from his hand because a wrist is not yet visible, chubby-sweet-little hands holding my hand. And Evie’s expressive hands, used when she tells me a story a sings a song hands, finger nails polished – “colors please mom” hands, bracelets dangling from her wrist, raising her hands up to me to ask me to “hold you me please mom” hands, thanking God for everyone that she loves folded in prayer hands, chubby-sweet-little hands holding my hand.   



We Call Her Evelyn

My Own Slice of Life on Calling her Evelyn

When I was little I spent a lot of time at my Grandma’s house. My mom would take my sister and me over there to help care for my Great Grandma. I always felt close to my Grandma and I think it was because of all of the time we had together. I remember watching my mom and my Grandma together. My mom is one of four children and the only girl. When I was younger, I watched their exchanges and I listened to their conversations. I remember thinking that someday my mom and I would have a relationship that looked like this.

My Grandma had emphysema and died when I was too young to lose my Grandma and when my mom was too young to lose her mom. I guess there is never an age when it is easy to experience loss but I have always felt like my Grandma was taken away from us too soon.

As an adult, I think about my mom and how she handles this loss. I cannot even begin to imagine how horrible it would be to go through each day without my own mom. I see my mom almost every single day and we don’t go a day without having at least one phone conversation. I recently moved much closer to my mom. I am now about a seven minute drive to my mom’s house. That is just the way my mom and I like it. I now have the relationship with my mom that I watched my mom have with her mom.

The memories I have of my Grandma are somewhat foggy. I sometimes have to ask my mom or my sister to clarify how something really happened because I can’t remember the memory exactly right. I know her name was Evelyn and she had short curly hair. She was so tiny. So thin and very short. She liked to lie on the couch and have me rub her back. I can hear her laugh and the hint of sarcasm in her voice. I can picture her in my mind. I can see her smile. I can see the clothes she used to wear. Some of my other memories, I think, are based on photographs that I have seen. I remember for sure that she was adorable and sweet and she always had candy on the counter and cookies in the drawer. And I remember that she was my mom’s daily phone conversation and my mom’s best friend.  

Two years ago, my daughter was born. We call her Evelyn. She was named in remembrance of my Grandma, but also in honor of my mom. My best friend.

A Few of My Favorite Things

My Own Slice of Life on a Few of My Favorite Things

I love to hear

  cooing sounds from Johnny,

      giggling sounds from my kids,

        the guitar being played by my dad,

          my dad singing,

            my mom’s voice on the other end of the phone,

              my sister’s laugh,

                 “I lubba you Mama” from my Evie,

                    “Sagapo” from my husband.

I love to see

    my daughter’s face at my bedside with her sleepy eyes first thing in the morning,

      my son’s bright blue eyes that light up his whole face,

        my husband’s gorgeous smile,

          my family together in church,

            my niece and nephew playing with my kids,

              my sister’s belly housing my nephew that we will get to meet very soon,

                my Evie’s hand in mine.




My Own Slice of Life on Hinges

Today my husband and I attempted to assemble a piece of furniture that required hinges to be attached. We vowed to not get into an argument this time. We both consider ourselves to be smart people but when it comes to hinges neither of us can wrap our brains around how to attach them. We look at the picture, we read and reread the directions, and we fail every time. Today it took us at least a half an hour to get the hinges in place. During this thirty minute time period, we both raised our voices, we threatened to throw the screwdriver, we got up and walked away, and we mumbled a few choice words.

This must be what it is like when I demonstrate how to add fractions, draw pictures of how to add fractions, use manipulatives to show how to add fractions, and some students still don’t get it. They can’t wrap their brains around it. Sometimes they do raise their voices and throw their pencils. Maybe they need to get up and walk away. Maybe fourth graders need to get away from their fractions for a minute because they are too frustrated to even begin to understand no matter how many different ways I try to explain it.

Today I vow to share this experience with my students. I promise to reassure my students that they are smart even when certain content is temporarily beyond their grasp. I am going to let my students get up and walk away and recollect before we try again. We will try again. We will get it.


My Own Slice of Life on Being a Parent

My husband, Billy, and I were talking about parenting after a long few days of being home with our kids… all day. We are both teachers and we are both enjoying our spring break at home with our kids. I asked him to write with me about parenthood so that I could share our different perspectives. We sat down together and wrote for a few minutes and then shared what we wrote and laughed about what we wrote as it reflected so much on our day.

Billy: There are so many responsibilities that come with being a parent. It has allowed me to see not only that it is my job to care for my children, but to also teach them how to become good human beings. Since my wife and I have become parents, we have tried to find a balance between being firm with our children and at the same time offer a loving smile.

Jill: Parenting calls for complete selflessness. Not a loss of my sense of self, although at times I do feel like nothing more than Evie and Johnny’s mama, but a change in my every action and thought. I am no longer concerned with just me, or even just my husband, but I am responsible for taking care of two little kids that are extremely dependant. Nothing compares to parenthood. I’ve never felt love like this, exhaustion like this, pride like this, frustration like this, or happiness like this. Being a parent is hard work and there is no one that I’d rather experience parenthood with than my husband, my children’s “Baba.”

At the end of another very long day, my husband and I are very grateful to have each other to be a parent with. We are very thankful for our little kids and for these very long days together.


Stains on Monday

My Own Slice of Life on Stains on Monday

A blue stained rug from a work of art created while lying on her stomach in the family room with a small piece of paper and a huge vision of a blue masterpiece.

A purple stained cheek from a silence upstairs while I was downstairs, a make up bag left open, and eye shadow used like blush to make her “boo-tiful.”

A purple stained face, neck, and bib from a struggle between a spoonful of pureed blueberries and an angry little boy that prefers to eat his food out of a bottle instead of off of a spoon.

A brown stained smile from a chocolate chip cookie so enjoyed during a quiet car ride to the store with her parents and her brother.

A tear stained face from a tired little baby that resists naptime until he cannot help but close his heavy eyelids and give in to a peaceful slumber.

A white stained couch cushion where milk dripped out of an overturned sippy cup for several minutes before anyone even noticed.  

The marker scrubbed out, the eye shadow rinsed off, the blueberries washed up, the chocolate wiped off, the tears kissed away, the couch cushion cleaned. All before noon on Monday.

Learning How to be a Better Teacher

My Own Slice of Life on Learning How to be a Better Teacher

I’ve learned lots about teaching sitting in undergraduate and graduate classrooms. I’ve learned by researching and reading about best practices. I’ve learned by watching other teachers in action. I’ve learned how to be better from my students. I’ve also learned new teaching techniques from a few of my favorites…

When my niece was about three years old she started saying “Whatchu think?” after she shared every one of her very imaginative ideas. We would ask her to finish her dinner and she would suggest that she only eat five more bites instead and then would look at us very seriously and ask “Whatchu think?” It was adorable and humorous and it was hard not to smile and agree with her suggestion. This phrase was usually used to get an extra cookie or delay bedtime and most of the time it worked. Because she said it so much, everyone in my family started saying it back to her. Every time I had an idea I would turn to her and say “Whatchu think?” It seemed to carry over into my classroom. I would give directions for an activity and then I would follow up with “Whatchu think?” and the kids in my class started answering me! They started sharing what they thought and countering my directions with their own ideas about how to approach their learning. Discussions were breaking out in my kindergarten classroom about how my students prefer to learn. It was so enlightening and I owed my new learning to my three year old niece.

A new teaching strategy implemented and effective and I didn’t learn it in a book, in a college classroom, or in a professional development seminar. I learned it sitting across the kitchen table from my niece and sitting in a rocking chair in front of my kindergartners. I have to say, those are some of my favorite teachers and they sure did teach me a lot.

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