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Five Minute Friday :: Five

I am linking up with Kate for her Five Minute Friday writing prompt. It’s a weekly challenge – for me anyway – being the wordy girl that I am.

I like this exercise, though, because it’s good for my brain. It helps me think quickly and more concisely – skills that I definitely need to improve on.

So, without further adieu, let’s go!

Today’s word is five.


Five. Wow. The first phrase that comes to mind when I hear the word “five” is five more minutes.

I used to say this a lot to my kids when they were growing up.

There was always one more task that needed five more minutes before I was ready to move on to the next thing. This often put us behind in wherever we were going, much to their chagrin.

I’ve been on the receiving end of the phrase.

I believe it started when my sweet Chicky was a wee thing and wanted five more minutes before bedtime.

It’s funny how we want to stretch time out a bit more sometimes.

Ironically, we’ve been given lots of “five more minutes” with the quarantine we’ve all be under the past few weeks.

Needless to say, I haven’t said or heard that phrase very often lately.

I can’t help but reflect on just how much one can accomplish in such a short amount of time.

I can:

  • Have a quick conversation with a friend (despite my wordiness – I talk fast).
  • Wash the few last dishes in the sink.
  • Move seven boxes to the car as we try to clean out in preparation for people coming to fix our house.
  • Play two Words with Friends games – priorities people!

Time is still, despite the abundance of it, such a precious commodity that I don’t want to waste even five minutes of it.

STOP (with five seconds to spare)

Wednesday Hodgepodge – Survivor Style

It is currently 3:10pm, and I am only now able to write my post for the Hodgepodge.

This week – well, every week – is definitely about surviving. Seriously though.

So, here’s how the Hodgepodge works. Joyce posts her questions on Tuesdays. You answer on your own blog, visit hers on Wednesday, link up with Joyce, and visit other people. Easy peasy, unless you’re me and had a hectic Tuesday so you couldn’t write, much less schedule a post, and then are left to doing so in the waning hours of Wednesday.


Let’s get to the questions.

1. What’s something you resolved to do this year? Have you done it?

Let’s see . . . I’m not big on making resolutions really, so this is a little tough. I guess something we, meaning the hubby and I, resolved to do was clean out our house. We are in the process of fighting with our insurance company – a very well known company that shall remain nameless until the day I write an angry post about them – to get repairs paid for from Hurricane Michael, which hit over eighteen months ago.

We are making headway in the cleaning – not with the insurance lady. I better not talk about that too much because I’m still angry.

We have thrown out a lot of stuff and have been moving things to a storage unit so the house is uncluttered when we get new flooring (among other things).

2. Where do you go to find quietude?

Right now, quietude exists on my back porch. It’s screened in and catches a lovely breeze. I spend hours upon hours on the computer each day because I am teaching online. Being outside is my respite from the craziness of the decluttering that is happening inside.

3. A friend asked this question on her Facebook page and said I could borrow it for the Hodgepodge…you’re only allowed to buy 5 things at the grocery store, and all must start with the first letter of your first name. Whatcha’ buying?

Since my name is Nathalie, I guess I need to think of things that start with the letter N. This is a difficult letter, by the way.

Nut butter (I cheated here)
Nerds (I do love this candy)
Nutritional Yeast (a vegan’s go to for all things cheesy)
Nuts (because the hubby likes to snack on them)
Nutmeg for flavoring all of the things.

4. The television show Survivor, the Gloria Gaynor song ‘I Will Survive’, survival mode, survival of the fittest…pick one and discuss.

I think it’s fitting that I have an EASY question after the previous one. I see what you did there, Joyce.

Hands down, the show Survivor. I love this show and have watched almost every season. I think I’ve missed one.

This season has been the absolute BEST because they brought back some of the most famous winners and have pitted them against one another. Every single week is full of twists and turns, and the tribal councils have been shocking. I like to text my daughter-in-law during/after the shows (she’s two hours behind me) so we can discuss the happenings.

5. Share a favorite quote or saying about strength.

I’m not always good at the laughing without fear, but this verse speaks to my heart every time I see it.

6. My Random Thought

I have to share the most random discovery I made recently.

Do not ask me how I came upon this YouTuber. I started out by watching a video about how to improve your Zoom meetings.

Well, you know how YouTube “suggests” other videos, right?

So I saw another video by the same girl that had tips for the “mature woman” on how to apply eye shadow.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I’ve been doing things wrong.

All of my life.

This lady’s handle is HotandFlashy, and she’s amazing.

Look her up for more videos.

She’s good. I’m serious.

Here is a selfie I took last week – for comparison purposes . . .

Here are a couple of pictures of me the first day I tried some of HotandFlashy’s tips.

Excuse the hair. I’m sure she has videos for this as well – videos my crazy life hasn’t let me have time to watch.

I got better with my second go. Here are pictures from today’s application . . .

My world has been rocked. I will never apply eye shadow the same way again.

Have a great rest of the week! Thanks for visiting!

Five Minute Friday Link-up: Another

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s time for the weekly Five Minute Friday writing prompt. To play along, write on your own blog and then link up here. I’ve been visiting some amazing bloggers recently. The talent out there is incredible!

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: ANOTHER


When I think of the word another, I can’t help but think of how we are living Groundhog Day every single day.

We wake up to another day of being at home (which I don’t dislike in and of itself, mind you.)

I sit down to another day of checking email, responding to students’ questions, grading, and trying, haphazardly, to take attendance for invisible students.

I think of my students who are facing another day of endless online assignments and, if they’re lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective), jobs.

It can seem like an endless line of monotonous days because it’s always another of the same that went before.

For me, though, I’m not minding this.

I crave the routine. The familiarity of another day gives me comfort because I know how to approach my day.

I’m not one for frenzy, so I’ll gladly welcome another day in comfortable clothes, hair not straightened – barely brushed in fact.

Sometimes another is actually okay.


Karaoke Hodgepodge

Good Wednesday morning! I cannot tell you how glad I am that Joyce restarted her weekly Hodgepodge posts because they have helped me get back into the blogging game and keep at it during hectic teach-from-home days.

If you want to play along, answer on your own blog and link back up with Joyce.

I’m going to try to do a better job of visiting other bloggers. Last week bit me in the rear, let me tell you, so I apologize if I did not reciprocate.

This week’s theme is karaoke, and y’all, this is going to be interesting.

1. In Monday’s post I mentioned I would incorporate the word I was given for letter K into this week’s questions. That word was karaoke. On a scale of 1-10 how excited would you be to find out there was karaoke happening at your next gathering/outing with friends? 10=gimme that microphone!, and 1=I suddenly remembered there’s somewhere else I need to be. Have you ever actually done karaoke? If you had to perform karaoke what would be your ‘go-to’song?

I have been to a karaoke thing once while on a cruise several years ago. I did not, however, sing. I’m not brave that way, so I’d put myself at a 3 as far as how excited I’d be if there was going to be karaoke happening at my next gathering. With that said, I have to rave about my Chicky girl. She bravely did karaoke during one of our cruises, and it was hysterical. She and one of my nephews did a Grease duet, and we were rolling. I’ve decided to save the world by not doing it. Ever. I once heard my voice that I’d accidentally videoed years ago when we were singing happy birthday to Chicky. It took me years before I sang out loud at church after that.

Now, if I suddenly developed a voice, I’d do the song Part of Your World, from the movie Little Mermaid. I don’t know why. I’ve just always loved that song.

2. How do you listen to music these days? Favorite app or do you listen the old fashioned way? Do you have music playing often in your home? Is there still a CD player in your car?

When I’m in the car, I listen to XM Radio. I believe that I have a CD player in my car, and I do have CDs in the house, believe it or not, but I don’t listen to them in the car. When I’m out for a walk, I listen to a cardio playlist from songs I’ve downloaded. When I’m at home, I’ll play music through Alexa or the Pandora app on my TV.

3. The HP lands on US tax day this year. Or what used to be tax day before everything including filing your taxes was cancelled, delayed, postponed or extended. FYI- filing your taxes has not been cancelled, only delayed for a bit.

Besides staying away from anyone and everyone, what have you found taxing lately?

Honestly, this stay-at-home thing hasn’t been too hard for me. I am an introvert and have been struggling with anxiety since October, so staying in has been fine with me. The most taxing thing about being home is shutting down the computer at the end of the work day. I love, love, love working from home, but I am trying to learn how to balance myself a little more.

3. You’re without power so no oven, and you can’t open your frig or freezer in order to keep what’s in there from spoiling. And you don’t have access to take out. What will you make us for dinner?

This question immediately reminded me of what we went through after Hurricane Michael. We had no electricity for twelve days, so we had to get creative – or rather not. I ate soup straight out of the can. I also ate fresh fruit, which I picked up from donation centers. So yeah, we’d be eating real fancy around here. 🙂

4. I’ve seen this exercise going around Facebook and thought it would be a good one to include in the HP…what are five things everybody seems to love and go crazy for that you personally don’t care for?

This is so easy for me and will probably surprise people given that I’m a vegan. I personally do not care for avocados, sweet potatoes, coffee, blueberries, and beer.

5. Insert your own random thought here.

I am so glad that we are working from home right now because yesterday, I woke up with a headache. This, in and of itself, isn’t unusual for me with my allergies being as they are right now. But, the headache ramped up to a 20 on a scale of 1-10, and I found myself in bed with an ice pack on my head. It was one of the worst headaches I’ve ever had.

Gambit was pretty concerned and snuggled up super close.

The Mr. took good care of me and even, at one point, brought me a thermometer. It’s sad when you can’t even have a migraine these days without worrying.

I read my temperature as 99.6, and we were nervous . . . until the Mr. walked out of the room for a second and then returned to tell me that he thought I’d read the thermometer upside down.


So we took it again, and it was 96.9, which I later read is actually okay.


By early evening, I was able to return to the den and watch a little TV.

The headache is gone this morning, thank heavens, although I am walking on eggshells a bit.

Have a great day and thanks for visiting!

Five Minute Friday: Patient

Good morning y’all!

I’m so proud of myself for my consistency in participating in the Five Minute Friday Prompt Linkup. Of course, being sheltered at home has played a role in that by clearing out my otherwise-busy work schedule, so there’s that.

Regardless, I’m actually glad for the challenge of this weekly prompt. It’s making me think a little quicker on my feet – something I’m not necessarily good at because I like to chew on my words a bit, which the challenge of writing for only five minutes doesn’t allow.

But enough about that. It’s time to queue up the timer and get busy.

Today’s prompt is patient.


What a loaded word, eh? As an overachieving gal, being patient can be tough.

I want things done ASAP, and I don’t have a lot of patience for people who take too long to complete tasks or make me wait to complete mine.

I am a check-it-off-the-list kind of gal.

However, Hurricane Michael, which hit us exactly 18 months ago today, primed me for the patience I need now, during this pandemic.

I am learning to be patient while we wait for the insurance company to approve our estimates to get our house fixed.

I am learning to be patient while subcontractors add us to their lists to visit our home to give us said estimates.

Currently, I’m trying to learn to be patient while students I can’t see perform tasks I can’t be with them to work through.

Being patient is hard . . . especially when it involves connecting with parents who previously took a hands-off approach to their children’s schooling and expected teachers to do the grunt work.

I’m learning to be patient in other areas as well . . . waiting for grocery deliveries . . .

Waiting for the mailman to deliver my Amazon packages. I mean, such moments are highlights of my day.

Being patient is an art form, I’m discovering. It’s one I’m slowly learning, sometimes not too easily.


Y’all, I did it. I have no idea how coherent my thoughts above are, but I actually finished my prompt when the timer went off!

Whoop whoop!

I hope you have a blessed day on this Good Friday.

I pray that you take time to rest and remember that it was today that our Lord, Jesus Christ, surrendered His will to His father’s and laid down His life for ours.

May we never forget that no matter how life looks, especially now when things can seem so dreary, there is an eternal good that happened so many years ago and is waiting for us when Jesus returns.

A Faith-Filled Hodgepodge

Happy Easter Week, y’all!

It sure doesn’t feel like Easter does it? I’m so glad that Joyce’s questions are pointing our attention this way though. It’s so good to focus on this most holiest of holidays.

You know the drill (or do you if you’re new here?). Answer the questions on your own blog and link up with Joyce here.

Now, on to my own answers.

1. How will you celebrate Easter this year?

The Mr. and I will celebrate Easter by watching church online – on our smart TV, because we are smart that way. We’ve been watching two services – our home church’s and the one my in-laws started attending after they moved to Auburn last fall – ever since this pandemic started. I’m not planning a special dinner. I’ve never been about that. We’re pretty chill in these here parts.

2. Is it easier for you to receive grace offered or extend grace to another? Explain.

I think it’s easier for me to be the person extending grace. The Mr. might argue about that though.


My overachieving nature demands that I do things perfectly, and when I don’t, I have a hard time forgiving myself – much less accepting when others do. Teaching has taught me the lesson of extending grace. I’m not perfect at it. I am, after all, human, but over the years, I’ve begun to see my students’ choices as things that are usually unrelated to my classroom but factors at home. This makes grace a little easier to extend.

3. Do you say grace before meals? If so do you have a standard dinnertime grace or is it more ‘off the cuff’ ? Do you say grace when dining out? Do you have a favorite grace? Any special memory associated with ‘saying grace’?

I always say grace before I eat. We taught our children to do this too. We’ve always given thanks for our food whereever we are eating it. We do it at home, in the car, and out in restaurants. Sometimes it’s a solo mission, but we don’t mind saying it aloud either. Our prayer isn’t fancy, but it is sincere. I pray that my children, although grown now, take time to pause and give thanks as well.

I can’t say that I have a favorite memory associated with saying grace, although my kids will tell you that my prayers always turn into long-winded affairs. I mean, heck, since we’re all sitting in one place, might as well throw in a few extra things too, right?

4. What are some challenges you think the next generation will face? (Generation Alpha-born between 2011 and 2025)

Oh, this new generation. Bless their hearts. Obviously the economy is going to be a challenge given the effect the pandemic has had on it. I think the next generation will continue to struggle with all things related to social media. Perhaps they will also struggle with ethical dilemmas related to artificial intelligence as science advances and hard choices have to be made. I cannot imagine what life is going to look like when Generation Alpha gets older. I don’t envy them.

5. Share a favorite quote or lyric featuring the word faith.

I’m a fairly simple girl. A quick Google search led me to this verse:

2 Corinthians 5:7  For we walk by faith, not by sight.

I think this verse sums up a Christian’s life. We certainly must walk by faith. I simply do not know how we would be able to find our way out of deep pits of despair if we lived our lives based solely on what we saw.

Faith means trusting God no matter what life looks like. It means trusting in His perfect plan and that He is working everything for our good.

It’s not an easy walk, but it’s more steady than one led by our eyes, which shift focus about as often as the wind changes direction.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Yesterday, the Mr.’s parents celebrated 57 years of marriage.

I’m sure it’s an anniversary they will never forget thanks to the pandemic.

Let’s focus on them though.

I think their anniversary coincides perfectly with the theme of faith in this week’s Hodgepodge.

This precious couple has always modeled an attitude of faith.

They’re amazing human beings who have loved the Lord all of their lives.

They’ve had good times and bad times. I think you can’t avoid the bad when you’ve been married this long.

I’ve known them for 33 years, and I’ve never once seen them question their faith.


I hope that one day, my children can say the same of me.

It’s a beautiful legacy worthy of passing down from generation to generation.

Truth be told, it’s the only legacy that matters.

Week 2 of Distance Teaching

It’s Monday, just past 6am, and I’ve been awake, off and on, since 3.

I finally threw off the illusion of sleeping and gave up at 5.

Foremost on my mind has been school.

Today marks the beginning of Week 2 of distance teaching.

Unlike last Monday, when nerves were on edge because of the unknown, this morning feels a little different.

Although I don’t exactly have a daily routine in place, I do have a better feel for what my weekdays will encompass.

There will be phone calls to check up on students I haven’t “seen” online.

There will be the usual flurry of emails – mostly from administrators reminding us of all of the behind-the-scenes minutia that must be done. There’s a lot more of that these days since everything we are doing is “behind the scenes” now.

In fact, even as I sit here composing this post, I can hear the sound of my email notification going off on my phone.

I dare not check . . . just yet.

There will be the inputting of grades – lots of them in my case because the online program my English 4 students are using has a lot of activities.

There will be exactly 5,794 Remind101 messages exchanged back and forth – my primary means of communicating with my students and answering their panicked requests for assistance.

I’ve always wanted to teach from home, but last week taught me a few things.

Lesson #1: It’s a little harder to unplug when your office happens to be the place where you live.

The overachiever in me has a hard time looking at my makeshift desk next to the TV and not thinking about the to-do list written in the notebook that sits beside my laptop.

That list is a siren beckoning me to do more.

And I did . . . do more . . on Sunday . . . because my face had makeup on it (I “dressed up” for online church), and I wanted to go ahead and make my weekly videos for my students while I was looking my best.

Lesson #2: Last week taught me that parents also have a hard time unplugging. They, like us, seem to be struggling with separating out school hours from home hours, as evidenced by the emails I received Friday night after 9pm and Sunday evening.

I chat frequently with my friend, Megan (I’ve mentioned her a time or two or a hundred on this here blog). We teach together, and she literally saves my brain from the stresses of the job because of the way we talk things out.

I love something she told me last week. She said that the sheer magnitude of dealing with craptons of messages didn’t allow her to instantly respond to her kids’ requests for help and, guess what?

The kids started figuring things out on their own.

Y’all, that’s not to say that we aren’t supposed to help, but why jump immediately?

I’m the kind of gal who likes to deal with things instantly. I do not have 500 unread texts and emails.

I just cannot live that way.

BUT, and that’s a huge BUT, I learned, like Megan, that because I cannot jump immediately due to being on long phone calls with parents, the kids DO figure things out.

Heck, four of my classes are reading classes. The kids are learning to read directions – to take advantage of the resources I’ve included with their assignments (lots of instructions and homemade videos) – to navigate real websites.

My kids are finally starting to take ownership of their learning. It’s hard for them – figuring out how to pace themselves in seven classes – but they are beginning to do it (not very well, in some cases, but the attempt is applauded).

Last week taught me some other things.

I have always been known as a teacher who calls home. A lot. These phone calls have usually been about behavior issues because when you teach the preps I do, less-than-stellar behaviors accompany the children.

But you guys, I’ve been making at least twenty phone calls a day just to connect with parents – to check that phone numbers work (most do not) and to grab good email addresses.

I’ve added more parents to my Remind101 rosters than I’ve ever had in the ten years I’ve been teaching, and the parents are loving it!

Last week taught me to go the extra mile for my ELL parents – those precious people whose first language isn’t English.

I remember getting a hold of one mom who, I quickly discerned, spoke NO English.

Talk about an awkward conversation!

Because I finally had her on the phone, my mind raced with what to do.

I tried using Google Translate’s audio feature to play my translation over my computer where the mom could hear.

That didn’t work.

She hung up on me.


Then, I noticed a handy feature in Google Voice, which I’ve been using so I don’t give out my cell phone number. There was a text option.

So, I plugged in what I wanted to say in Google Translate, copied and pasted the text from Translate to Google Voice’s texting option, and voila!


Google Voice translated her words to English for me.

It was absolutely the most incredible thing ever!

That moment right there humbled me.

These sweet ELL parents love their children as much as everyone else, but they are stymied by many things – primarily language barriers.

In that moment of connecting with this mom, I had to ask myself how hard had I really tried, for all of these years, to reach ALL of my parents?

I was able to reach out to several of my ELL parents in this manner, and let me tell you that the feeling of amazement was incredible each and every time.

I know this post is long, and if you’ve read all the way through it, you have my thanks.

This pandemic, as awful as it is, truly does have some blessings.

One of them is the opportunity to grow as a person as I continue to hone my craft.

Please continue to pray for teachers as we start to settle in. Please pray for wisdom as we address ongoing technical issues. One of my students emailed me last night because she has been going to a friend’s house to try to get online since the at-home wifi connection the school provided hasn’t been working very well (how many of our students are having the same issues?).

Most of all, pray for our world and that this virus will be eradicated sooner rather than later.

Learning new things is fine; however, the context in which we are being forced to do so isn’t okay.

Have a great week, y’all!

Five Minute Friday

I’m taking a few minutes out of my day (let’s call this my lunch break) to join the Five Minute Friday linkup.

The rules are this (somewhat paraphrased from the site): Each week a one-word writing prompt is shared, and anyone who is interested may freewrite for five minutes flat – no overthinking, no editing . . . just write!

This week’s FMF writing prompt is: NOW

So, now is the word of the day, eh?

Well, right now, I am sitting at a blue card table surrounded by papers, folders, and a notebook.

Right now, I’m dressed in sweat pants, a sort-of-matching Auburn shirt (War Eagle!), and a red plaid robe (because it was a chilly 55 degrees when I got up this morning).

My to-do list is a mile long. Teaching online has added exponentially to my already-hectic profession.

So, for right now, I’m doing my best to focus on the tasks that matter the most – connecting with students and parents to ensure that they understand class expectations and can get online to fulfill them.

I am usually a big picture kind of gal, but I’m finding that looking at the big picture is a bit overwhelming.

I’m trying desperately to focus in on the smaller things I can do – tasks that give me small victories throughout what has become a line of frenetic days.

For this overachieving gal, it’s a tough lesson but one that will prove beneficial for days to come.

Springing to My Feet for the Hodgepodge

Hello everyone. It’s Wednesday, which means that it’s time for another round of the Hodgepodge. Joyce has cooked up some fun ones for us, so let’s jump in. Post your answers on your own blog and link up with Joyce here.

Oh, and thank you for visiting today!

1. Has spring sprung in your part of the world? How can you tell? Did March come in like a lion where you live? Going out like a lamb or something more ferocious?

I live in the Florida Panhandle, so spring has definitely sprung! it always amazes me how quickly we go from frigid 50-degree weather to blistering 80-degree temperatures. Talk about going out like a lamb!

Here’s a sign that spring is doing its thing . . . the revival of one of my plants.

I’m really enjoying watching it come back to life.

2. The last thing that caused you to spring to your feet?

Yesterday morning, I was out on my back porch and minutes into my first Zoom meeting of the day with my students when all of a sudden, my sprinklers came on. I figured I’d be okay, aside from the noise, but then I noticed that the sprinkler closest to my porch was actually spraying into the area where I was sitting. I had to grab my laptop and paperwork from my table and run inside.

I need to go back, at some point, and adjust that sprinkler.

3. Do you have a spring clean to-do list? What’s one chore on the list you’ve already managed to accomplish? What spring clean chore do you most dread?

This question made me chuckle because I don’t do spring cleaning. I clean when and what I can, and right now, that’s not much.

Now, I will say that the Mr. and I have already been cleaning out closets and cabinets in anticipation of the repair work that will need to be done in our house – repairs from Hurricane Michael.

I’ve also been selling stuff on Facebook Marketplace, so my house is a disaster. I’m choosing to turn a blind eye for now.

4. Tell us something you’ve learned about yourself or the wider world as a result of social distancing/the virus crisis.

Gosh. There are so many lessons I’m learning through this pandemic.

I’m learning that I can make do on much less than what I thought.

I’m learning just how much stuff I have wasted over the years and how rewarding it is to find ways to make things stretch.

I have learned that it takes much less toilet paper to get the job done than one thought before this pandemic made the good stuff so hard to find.

5. Something you love that’s the color pink?

I am having a hard time with this question. I guess I’d have to say that I like certain fingernail polish colors that are pink.

Baby Pink

6. My Random Thought

I am on Day 3 of online teaching, and I don’t mind admitting that I am slap worn out.

My end-of-the-day face

Monday, I got up early, put on makeup, and sort-of fixed my hair because I had an online training to attend.

After my training, I spent at least three hours on the phone with students and parents.

In between, I was averaging between 25-30 emails an hour.

Yesterday, I hosted five or six Zoom meetings with my students to give them an overview of class and how their online instruction would proceed.

It was great to see their faces. In fact, at one point, I had about fifteen kids in one meeting, and it was chaotic and noisy, much like class had been some days.

It was wonderful.

Many students expressed the wish to return to school. They are overwhelmed with the magnitude of actually having to manage their education from afar.

Teachers are feeling that way too.

We know, though, that we will adjust. I’m sure that give or take a week, we’ll have our new routines figured out and will be able to breath a little easier each day.

Right now, it feels like we are running through our days at a full-out sprint. We are ready for the foot to come off of the accelerator as we ease our way back into the slow lane.

Back to School 2.0

Today is our first day back to school since March 13th, the Friday before Spring Break. That afternoon, after we’d left school, we received notification that we would be out an extra week after Spring Break and that when we “returned,” it would be for online classes until at least April 15th.

So, today is Back to School Day.

I really should have titled this post Back to School 5.0 because y’all, we here in the Florida Panhandle have had to go through the Back to School experience five times since 2018 (the year we got hit by Hurricane Michael).

I went to my classroom last Monday to grab a few things I thought I would need to work from home, and let me tell you that walking up to the school on what should have been a loud, busy morning, was weird.

There weren’t many people on campus. In fact, we weren’t allowed to visit without permission from an administrator. I wound up seeing two people that day – all from afar.

The only gate that was unlocked was the one past our cafeteria, so I had a bit of a hike.

I walked through the courtyard where students are usually occupying tables – either eating breakfast or visiting with their friends.

I saw a random pencil on the ground and exhaled a deep sigh of sadness. It’s funny how a small object like this can bring about a strong feeling of wistfulness for what was, once upon a time, normalcy.

As I entered my building, I first noticed the stale smell of unmoved air.

We had, after all, been on Spring Break.

It was also dark. We usually have both sets of lights turned on.

Walking into my room reminded me of the first time I got to visit it after Hurricane Michael.

I saw the things that had been left sitting out before the world as we knew it changed so completely . . . the game of Uno that my students had played on the rare free day I’d gifted them with . . .

The thing that got my heart so much was seeing the calendar that hangs from the bulletin board beside my desk.

I always have the days crossed off in anticipation of when I’ll be entering my room again, and seeing March 23 all ready for me was so sad. It reminded me of the date that was hanging there when we got back from our hurricane “vacation.”

PTSD y’all.

It is a real thing.

Oh the feelings of deja vu from that 2018 post-hurricane return to school . . . such as the agenda on my whiteboard . . .

The saying on my letter board (unchanged from the first day of school, I’m afraid) . . .

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Teachers live for their routines. Truth be told, so do students.

I gathered what I knew I needed – the stuff I’d already added to my “pick-up-from-school” list on my phone – and what I thought I might need (not stuff on my list).

I know I took stuff I probably wouldn’t need, such as the boxes of yarn and knitting needles under my cabinet. They’re specifically for kids (I used to have students who knit during lunch), so I’m going to offer them up for grabs in my neighborhood’s Facebook group.

My take-home pile included some of the lesson packets I’d copied before Spring Break. Of course, my district is having us follow their own scripted curriculum, so most of my plans are out the window now, but last Monday, everything was still fluid.

I stayed about thirty minutes before deciding to leave.

Y’all, this is my home away from home, so it was bittersweet. As much as I love being home, I’ve created a space that is comfortable to work in, and the knowledge that I wouldn’t be in it for who knows how long was hard in that moment.

See you laters are never easy.

On the wall in the hallway outside of my room, I noticed the list of test dates I’d taped up – dates that no longer mattered (do I hear clapping?).

I also saw the prom poster I’d hung up, and oh word, but I felt so badly for my students.

As of this writing, the prom is still up in the air. Honestly, nobody is holding their breaths, but our kiddos – especially this class of seniors – has been through SO MUCH since Hurricane Michael, so they’re not giving up hope just yet.

One could say that this doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and you’d be right; however, it’s one more thing for our kiddos to deal with, and I think it’s okay to admit that it’s hard.

And so we move on to the next chapter – one that will be fraught with more highs and lows as we begin the process of educating our children virtually.

I’m a bit anxious because I like to anticipate issues that might crop up, but I’m also smart enough to know that no matter how much I plan, this will ultimately be a learning process for all of us.

I pray that we would all be mindful of this, and that we will be quick to grant grace to one another as we will surely make some mistakes along the way.

Please pray for those of us in education as we begin to establish a new normal for ourselves and the students we serve.

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