Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Visit (SOL19 #30)

I drove up the driveway and saw the blue bag sitting on the stoop. My Old Navy shipment had arrived just in time for spring break! I grabbed my work bag, got out of the car, and made my way toward my package. 
As I approached, I smiled, and bent down to pick up the bag. Just as I lifted the bag something flew into my face. I swatted it away. A moth.
I’ve written about moths before. Since the day we buried my father, moths have come to visit me and I truly believe those ugly, flying insects are him coming to say hello. Though strange, I feel a sense of calm whenever I have a moth visitor because it reminds me of my Dad.
I haven’t seen a moth in a LONG time, but it did make sense that the moth would come when I ordered something I probably didn’t need from Old Navy. He always hated when we would buy something purely because we wanted it. Hence, my most recent encounter with the moth dive-bombing me in the face. 
Hi, Dad. Miss you, too.

Friday, March 29, 2019

"We could actually win this!" (SOL19 #29)

“We could actually win this!” A smile crept across her face as she intently looked at the scoreboard. "We sure can!" I replied, just as hopeful. 

My mind flashed back to just a couple months ago when we first began practicing. Dribbling was tough, and we were just learning how to pass. 
“This is too hard! I can’t shoot!” 
I heard it all. 

Yesterday while watching the Lady Tigers take on the other district teams in the tournament was a moment of immense pride for me. It was great to see how much our girls have grown and have become a team. They looked for the open girl, made the pass, and girls who had not scored a basket all season, made their first two pointer. Although we didn’t win, I could not be more proud of their accomplishments this season. They never gave up, learned about teamwork, and cheered each other on. 

I also am looking forward to co-coaching again next year. 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Schedule Change (SOL19 #28)

My husband has been working in the car service industry for as long as I have known him. He is exactly the man you would want to work on your car because of his honesty and the way he treats his customers. He worked for a long time for a company that didn’t appreciate that and took advantage of his work ethic. He worked countless hours and missed many evenings and weekends with his friends and family. He has since found a different job that allows for more flexibility in his work schedule. He works from home five days a week, and has normal work schedule that doesn’t take him away from those that he cares about. 
Yesterday, while I was at a friend’s house he called me on one of his breaks. “I have big news, Katie. My schedule is changing next week.” I can recall many conversations where this would elicit an immediate feeling of dread. This time was different. It was much more interest than dread. I could hear his smile through the phone. “Well, what’s different?” I asked. 
“Well....” he held the ll’s out much longer than they needed to be. “This is going to be my last weekend working. My shifts have changed so I don’t have to work ANY part of the weekend anymore.”

Now this may not seem like a big deal. But it is. It’s a huge deal. I can count on my hands how many times my husband has had a Saturday off. Now, it will be our new normal. To say I am excited is an understatement. He is elated.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hat day? (SOL19 #27)

As I drove down the road I was feeling pretty accomplished. I made it out the door with a cup of coffee already in, and had enough time to stop for some Starbucks on the way. The sun was shining. It’s sweater weather. Oh, and it’s hat day at school.
OH NO! It’s hat day! 
I recently cleaned out the ol’ Explorer. How good did I do? Did I get that baseball cap floating around the back of the car?
I pulled into my diagonal spot silently praying that I missed it. I was lame yesterday and didn’t participate in crazy hair day. I couldn’t go for two days being a non-participant in Spirit Week.
I opened the passenger door and looked under the seat. Nothing. Remarkably clean. This should bring joy. It did not.
I hustled to the back of the car and opened up the hatch. Still nothing. I flipped up one of the third row seats and there it was. Illinois State Redbirds hat.
Mrs. Suomi would participate after all. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Credits Roll (SOL19 #26)

“Quick, we only have one dish left!”
“Put the lettuce on the plate, Katie!”
“Hold your horses, Steve-o!” 
“Just need to the tomato. Push! Push!”
“Annnnnnd we did it,” I said as I shoved the last dish in the giant, hungry meatball’s mouth. 

We all breathed a sigh of relief as the Onion King congratulated us. I watched the screen intently wondering how they would end the game. The meatball started to shake and then exploded into hundreds of meatballs.
Credits roll.

That was it?” Disappointed doesn’t begin to cover it. Steve looked at me funny. “What’s your problem?” 
He had probably seen the end of hundreds of video games, but this was my first time beating a game. “It’s just not what I expected,” I added with a definite sound of glum in my voice. 
I don’t know what I expected, but the exploding meatball wasn’t it. Although, I don’t know what would have been worth all the hours of playing this silly game, shouting across the living room, and fear of the next insane cooking challenge. 
We did have fun though. 

Now, on to Overcooked 2. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Pajama Day (SOL19 #25)

I grabbed my keys and headed up the stairs. So many are on break already. Not me. One more week. I say goodbye to Phil and he looks at me like I have three heads.
“You sure you’re ready?”
I looked down at my outfit and immediately understood what he meant.
Luckily for me it’s pajama day. 
“Yep. Jambo day!” 
Relief spread across his face. “Lucky you,” he said back. “Every day is pajama day at the Suomi house.” 
I rolled my eyes. This working from home thing really has it’s benefits. 
“Do you really think I would forget and just go to work in my pajamas on accident?”
“I don’t know. It is a Monday morning, and you look a little tired,” he replied.
Gee thanks. Happy Pajama Day Emerson teachers. Last Monday before break. We’ve got this. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Puzzles (SOL19 #23)

I sat on the leather couch and watched the little boy spin in circles singing and dancing. I thought, if only I had half of that energy. The smile stretched across his face when he stopped and darted toward me. 
He climbed up and sat down next to me resting his head on my arm. His big, beautiful eyes peeked out from under the White Sox baseball hat. 
Giggle ensue. “Auntie, will you do puzzles with me? Yes?” 
His little head tilted as he gazed up at my face.
“Oh geez,” I replied. My face must have made a “oh my goodness how could I say no to that face?” look. 
“Don’t cry. Come with me.” 
I definitely wasn’t crying, and I was definitely wasn't turning down an invite for some puzzles with my 2 1/2 year old nephew. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Claps for Units (SOL19 #22)

“Can we clap once for each unit earned?” 
This morning my co-teacher has each student stand up and calls off their names one by one sharing how many units they have gained in the app, Lexia Core 5, for the week. There have been many weeks that my students have dreaded using the research based app for reading skills, but not this week. 
One by one each scholar is recognized for their efforts for the previous week. The look of sheer pride on their faces as their classmates cheer on their progress was incredible. I am so proud of each of them, but am even more taken aback by the classroom climate that we have created that is focused on learning, growth, and community. Each intentional step that we have taken this year has made a difference.  I have the best job in the whole world. 
Check out all that pepperoni!
 Each week as the students meet their prescribed number of minutes on the app, they are able to place a piece of pepperoni on our Lexia Usage Challenge Pizza. Today we recognized their units gained in the program during Week 3. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Morning Routines (SOL19 #21)

5:00 AM

How is it already 5:00 AM? The sound of the alarm goes off on my phone on the nightstand. I listen for the comforting sound of the coffeemaker coming to life in the kitchen. The smell then begins to permeate the house. I breathe a sigh of relief once I can know that the pot is in fact brewing. I drift back to sleep until the second alarm goes off. 

5:15 AM.

I yank the covers off and slowly descend down the stairs. The cups are sitting out, ready to go. I am so grateful that he didn’t forget to set the delay on the coffeemaker AND that he had the cups out, ready to go. I make the two cups, creamer & coffee, then bring them back upstairs. 

I place each cup noisily on the nightstand. I fiddle for the light switch, turn on the bedside lamp and jump back into the bed. Click. TVs on. Time for the news.  I glance to my left and see him still sleeping.

“I brought you coffee. Don’t you want to have coffee with me?” 
He groans. “Thank you. In a little bit.” 
“Gosh, it would be so nice to have coffee with you this morning.”
“Whoa. Did you see that?” 
“I can’t believe it’s still so cold.” 
"What a funny video! Phil, look!" 

Every morning the ritual is the same. I get the coffee and make as much noise as possible until he wakes up and hangs out with me before I go to work. No sleeping in on my watch.
Recently my husband has started working from home full time. He starts at 9:15, and calls the time that I leave for work his “morning reflection time.” 
Morning reflection time means- stay in bed, turn on a movie, and rest until he is feeling mentally and physically ready to make the trek across the hall to the home office. 
I call it unfair.
Thus, I have started my ever important Suomi morning coffee time.Wake up early, watch the news, and drink our morning cup of joe together. No excuses. 

I'm surprised he still likes me. My husband has the patience of a saint. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Exact-o-ly What I Feared (SOL19 #20)

I’m a self proclaimed worrier. I can make a mountain out of a mole hill and can come up with the worst case scenario quicker than most. 
“Where’s that exact-o knife?” She was on a mission. A mission to stop the old table from scratching the floor. 
“Over in the cabinet to the right in the black toolbox,” I called from across the room. She walked over and got quickly to work. I looked up and thought, “Oooh. That might end badly.” I thought back to my own anxiety as I tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to cut the same tennis ball a month before.
I heard the audible GASP and saw her immediately put the knife and the tennis ball down on my table. The red blood started to come as she looked at her thumb and sized up the situation.
“Just go,” I said calmly. Inside, I was not as calm. I was instantly queasy. The way you feel when you see someone get hurt and can just imagine how the injury feels. It seemed as though every hair on my body feel like it was standing on edge. Sympathy pain I guess. 
Luckily all was okay. She’s a trooper. It was not nearly as serious as the 8 pages of an accident report that needed to be filled out. Don’t worry, I got to fill out the witness page.
(To read her account of the incident, check out this blog

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Great New Store (SOL19 #19)

“Mrs. Suomi! I went to a great new store yesterday that I think you would really like!” 
Really? I love to shop. What store is it?” 
The student grinned with excitement. “It’s this store called Barnes & Noble?” The inflection at the end of his sentence let me know that he wasn’t completely sure of the name of the store. “It was GREAT! They have all sorts of books and other things too. I think you would really like it.” 
“Books you say? Oh wow! I will have to check it out.” I smiled back and thanked him for the recommendation. 

Now of course I have heard of Barnes and Noble, but it made my day that he was so excited about visiting a store that houses so many books. I told my husband about this exchange later on that evening and he was surprised that the student had never heard of Barnes & Noble. I had to point out to him that many of those brick and mortar stores that are so familiar to us have been closing over the course of his young life. It’s strange that those common experiences like browsing through a book store are changing to the swipe of a finger. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Blinking cursor (SOL19 #18)

I’ve been watching this cursor blink for the last 15 minutes. I’ve got nothing.
The list of things that I need to get accomplished tonight is growing, but not the number of words in the doc.

Tomorrow I’ll be better. I’ll be more observant for that small moment. Today, I need to check some things off this insane to-do list. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A St. Patrick's Day Miracle! (SOL19 #16)

Being a tall, not so skinny girl I have always had trouble when it came to shopping. 
Too short, too tight, you name it. 

Today was different. 
The pants fit just right.
There were tops that were long enough and large enough.
There was a dress in emerald green that was perfect.
It’s a St. Patrick’s Day miracle!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mid-week shopping (SOL19 #15)

I hurried as I put each item on the conveyor belt. I don’t normally shop on a weeknight, but the big day is creeping up and I needed to get prepared. I lifted the cold packages out of the cart watching to see if the cashier gave me the look. She did, but it was accompanied by, “Wow! I want to come to your St. Patrick’s Day party.” 
“It’s going to be pretty epic. We’ll see you at two!” My Irish eyes were indeed smiling.  

15 pounds of corned beef
5 HUGE heads of cabbage
Big ol’ bag of carrots.
Fixings for my famous Dilly Corned Beef Dip
 a plethora of green, shamrock filled plates and napkins. 

This Irish lass is SO excited.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

I should have known (SOL19 #14)

I should have known.

I drove to the local Dunkin' Donuts to get my morning vat of iced coffee. I rolled up to the window and saw my favorite barista. We always smile and exchange pleasantries, but today was different. She looked shocked to see me. I looked at the red numbers to tell me what my damage was. $7.10? Far too much for my iced coffee. She smiled and said, “Large iced, cream only.” Ahhh, my order. “I don’t know how we missed you.” To be honest, neither did I. This had never happened before. 

I should have known.

Driving away from the window, I took the wrapper off the straw and stuck it in the plastic Dunkin' Cup. I lifted my beloved energy juice out of the cup holder and took a big gulp as I drove toward the school. 
If I could have spit out the coffee, I would have. Instead of the creamy, refreshing coffee, I had overly sweet, hazelnut syrup. I couldn’t turn around at this point. I had to get to work. No coffee for me.

I should have known.

I wish I could say that the day turned around.
It didn’t. 

I should have known.

Today will be better.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Facetime Session (SOL19 #13)

I took out my phone and hit the FaceTime button to call my mom knowing full well she was not the person I was intending on talking to.
“So, where is he, Granny!?” 
Giggles erupt from the other side of the room. He runs full speed toward the screen. 
“Hello, handsome boy!” The smile exploded across his little face. 
“Where Uncle Bill?” (He can’t quite say the Phil yet.) 
Phil motioned to me on the other couch and mouthed I’m not here. He has no idea how lucky he is that this two year old WANTS to talk with him over FaceTime. 
“I don’t know? Where is he?” 
“He playing.” 
Huh, didn’t see that response coming. “Blake, what is he playing?” 
“Numbers.” (He answered so matter of factly that it made it seem like it was a ridiculous question.) 
“Where Maiden?” He loves our dog. I secretly wished that he wanted to see me on FaceTime as much as he wanted to see his uncle and my dog. 
“She’s right here.” I turned the camera to face my dog who was making groaning noises on the ground. “Maiiiiiiiiden!” 
Immediately the dog started to bark and lunged for her large stuffed hotdog. (She recently stopped pulling all the stuffing out of her MANY toys. We are elated.) 
“What that?” 
“It’s her hot dog, buddy!” 
“She need a fork.”

I love our FaceTime sessions. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Sleep, glorious sleep! (SOL19 #12)

In the past few months I have been waking up pretty tired. This even happens after I go to bed early. Earlier than a lot of my students in fact. Still. So. Tired. Coffee wasn’t helping. It’s been rough.
I started to do some research about ways that I can improve my sleep. 

There was lots about using meditation and deep breathing. I downloaded the Calm App using their free premium subscription for teachers (try it out by clicking this link). I’m still working on shutting off my mind, but I’m sure that will come with some more practice. For the last two weeks I have I used a different mediation or breathing technique to unwind before bed. I’m still working on shutting off my mind, but I’m sure that will come with some more practice.

I also read about how weighted blankets can help with anxiety and getting a good night’s sleep. After a lot of back and forth along with hours reading countless reviews I decided to order one on Amazon. It has taken some getting used to, specifically not fighting the weight, but embracing it.  However I think I may have struck gold. The combination of meditation and my SUPER heavy blanket made such a difference. 
Turns out Maiden is enjoying the blanket as well.

This morning I awoke with the weight of the 20 pound blanket over me and realized that didn’t wake up once last night. No tossing and turning. No water breaks. No bathroom breaks. No pacing the house. My alarm went off, and I hit snooze. Not because I was still tired, but because I was so comfortable. I turned on the news, cozy under the slight pressure of the new blanket. The added weight helped me to feel this sense of calm that I have not felt in a while. Maybe a little too calm, but I’ll take that over feeling exhausted any day. 
We made it with a few minutes to spare! 

Now to figure out how to get out from under the blanket after a great night’s sleep. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Adventure (SOL19 #11)

“I’d like to get rowboat back on the water. We could take it to Horseshoe.” Year after year I heard those same two sentences. Phil and his dad scheme about all the projects and activities that they would like to do at the cabin. To him, rowboat was a thing of beauty. To me, it was the old boat that had been lying against a tree for the last twenty-ish years. It was full of spider webs, and lord knows the animals that were probably living under it. Lichen had begun to attach to the sides of the vessel and the once shiny aluminum had become dingy and unimpressive. Truly, I didn’t have much love for the old rowboat. 

Low and behold we made it up for our week at the cabin and there was the rowboat, gleaming in the bright Minnesota sun. Something he had dreamed about for years had happened, and he was determined to get me as excited about it as he was. 
“Let’s go on an adventure.” He attached a small motor on the back of the boat and declared that our boat was ready for a voyage to Horseshoe Lake. Long Lake, our lake, is attached to Horseshoe Lake by a small creek. We have never been able to get to the other lake because we never had a boat small enough to not get stuck in the mud. Enter, rowboat. 
We buzzed across the lake using the small motor until we made it to the shallow creek. He pulled the motor out of the water and said, “Now we row.” I wasn’t really expecting to get this exercise, but I obliged knowing how much this adventure meant to him. As we rowed the branches extended into our path, overgrown from the many years that it was not disturbed. “It’s like we’re going back in time,” he said excitedly. Bugs swarmed. The boat kept turning off course with the current beneath the hull. Apparently my poker face was broken that day and he could tell that I was getting irritated. “Let’s stop for a minute to look around.” We took a break pulling the old wooden oars from the water and tucking them inside the boat. 
“Take a picture!” 
I grabbed my phone and clicked to capture the shot. Though it wasn’t an adventure I would have taken without his encouragement. I’m so glad that I didn’t miss this view or our journey together.

Now the rowboat has a new life and makes a great subject for a picture. We had this one printed on canvas to remind of our the great, sturdy old boat and our adventure on that hot summer day.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Day After (SOL19 #10)

We had company over last night to celebrate my husband's birthday. I spent any spare moment I had this week prepping, deep cleaning the house, and getting all of my other work done so I would not have to worry about it later. I love entertaining and spending time with friends and family, but more than that, I love the day after a night of entertaining.

The house house is super clean and there is a plentiful amount of snacks leftover from the night before. I love that the entire household “can’t even” and we spend the day together on the couch lounging snuggled up under blankets. That quality time makes all the prep work getting ready for a party worth it. Today was one of those lounge days and it was perfection. 
It also didn't hurt that it fell on the day that we switch our clocks and lose an hour. 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Honored (SOL19 #9)


I watched my nephew sing and dance his little heart out on stage last night. This same kiddo who refused to walk down the aisle with our rings on my wedding day. He needed his mom to hold his hand. Now he’s a little older, wiser, and much more confident. Last night, all he needed was to have his people in the audience. 

I’m honored to be one of them. 
Honored that I got a personal invite. 
Honored that I was able to watch him practice in his living room. 
Honored that his face lit up when he saw he saw us in the crowd. 
I am so honored to be his aunt. 

I’m also pretty stoked that I got his autograph. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

iSWAT (SOL19 #8)

“We’re making a robot!” The excitement in her voice was contagious. The group picked up the tiny circuits and put them together to create a motor. “Look, Mrs. Suomi, we made it move! It’s alive!” They continued by assembling the body of the droid. Watching them work together to make sure that each piece was assembled just right made my heart swell.

I am so proud to be the leader of a techie group of students called iSWAT. iSWAT stands for I’m a Student Willing to Assist with Technology. I’ve been the teacher leader of this amazing club as long as it has been my school district. I love it.  These students choose to wake up early and come to school at 7:15 in the morning to be part of this club. They consider it an honor and a privilege. As I worked with the group this week I started thinking about all the things I love about iSWAT and being their teacher leader. 

-I love giving students an opportunity to create with their technology, not just consume.
-I love providing students with a chance to hone their leadership skills by teaching other students and teachers about technology.
-I love the looks on their faces as they explore with a robot or different tech tool. 
-I love teaching students about a new language through coding. 
-I love when my iSWAT leaders work together to debug a line of code that they took so long to write. 
-I love hearing them problem solve and think through each line of code to make sure that they are achieving their goal.
-I love watching them teach others about their passions by creating their own presentations and speaking at technology conferences. 
-I love when they take such pride in their work while they are creating. 
-I love hearing from coaches across the district how great our iSWAT kiddos are when they are representing our school.

I don’t love waking up early on Wednesday mornings, but the second I am with this incredible group of students, it makes it all worth it. 

If you want to watch our journey in our iSWAT club, please check out our website. We have presentations from each of our meetings, and examples of student work. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Unexpected Greeting (SOL19 #7)

The ride home was a blur. I turned on my turn signal just before turning in to the driveway. Click. Click. Click
I was trying to listen to my mom talk about something. School buses? Work schedules? An upcoming concert? To be honest, I don’t even remember. My brain was feeling fried from spending the day as a student at a professional development. I slowly drove down the long driveway toward the gate but stopped short, remembering that I still have some errands I need to do this evening. 
I put the car in park and start to grab my things. 
“Okay Mom. I just pulled in. Yep. Yep. Gotta go. Love you too!” 
I hit the button to hang up the phone and took a deep breath. This might have been the first moment of silence that I have had all day. I continued to collect the rest of my bags. 
Why do I have SO many bags? 

I turned to the passenger seat to grab the final, most important bag. My purse. After picking it up I looked out my passenger window. What I saw made my heart feel like it was going to jump out of my chest. 
2 sets of eyes staring right at me. 
Its not that the thought of seeing my husband and dog is terrifying, but this greeting was totally unexpected. Have I mentioned I don’t like to be surprised? 
This surprise greeting was okay though. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

I'm a wizard (SOL19 #6)

I’m not very handy. I don’t enjoy trying to fix things that are broken. I don't want to take things apart. I don’t tinker. I just don’t. Until now anyway.

I like a cold beverage. Ice water. Iced Coffee. Iced Tea. Diet Coke with ice. Icy cold LaCroix/Bubly/Spindrift. 
Are you noticing a trend? Ice! I love anything that I’m drinking to be icy cold and refreshing. 

Recently, something terrible happened at my house. I went to go and fill up my Hydroflask (another blog for another day) with some ice and water before bed. The ice came out of the dispenser, but much slower than usual. After that, each time I visited the ice maker, the same thing happened until… NOTHING. 

I informed the tinker-er of the problem. He said he’d get to it. I asked again. Kindly reminded. Nagged. Begged. Nothing. 
Apparently an ice cold beverage is not essential to his happiness. 
It is to mine though. Incredibly essential.
Enough was enough. I became desperate. I had to tinker. 
I would love to explain the steps to you that I tried… but I don’t have the technical freezer jargon down. I will tell you that it involved a metal kabob skewer, and hair dryer, and a can-do attitude. 

Not even an hour later. 
Beautiful ice. 

I am indeed a wizard. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Poker Face (SOL19 #5)

Meet Maiden. She’s our sassy, full of personality pup. 

My husband recently started working for a company that allows him to work at home. I’m so jealous that he gets to spend the day in his pjs working alongside our pride and joy, Maiden. He calls her his supervisor. 

We were always curious what she was up to when we go to work, and now he gets to experience it first hand. We used put on the radio for her each day so she has something to listen to and to drown out any of the noises going on outside. If not for the radio she would bark all day long at any car door closing or passerby. Now we keep the radio on for her so she doesn’t disturb any of Phil’s phone calls. 

On this particular Wednesday I got a text message from Phil that made me laugh out loud. 

I had to replicate this. I went home and pulled up a YouTube video with Poker Face playing. Low and behold… 

This dog. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

New Soundtrack for Fortnite (SOL19 #4)

My husband has recently started playing Fortnite on the PS4 with my brother-in-law and 11 year old nephew. They have marathon gaming sessions together complete with headsets (microphone included), strategy planning, and lots of laughing. On this particular night the other players took a dinner break but Phil continued playing. He was doing pretty well, better than usual and was one of the last 12 people left in the battle. Since his teammates were on a dinner break, Phil took his headphones off until he saw or heard that they returned. 

All of a sudden we hear it. Singing coming through the speakers of the tv. It was pretty loud, but we couldn’t quite tell what he was being sung. I grabbed my phone and recorded the exchange and sent it to my sister in law on Snapchat with the caption “New soundtrack for Fortnite!”  My nephew continued to sing completely unaware that he was putting on a show for his amused aunt and uncle. 

In the background we heard his mom call for him and then uncontrollable laughter. 
“YOU COULD HEAR ME?!” The giggles continued and included more laughing from his little sister. 
“Yep. I was doing pretty well in the battle while listening to your beautiful singing voice.” 

I’m so glad I captured this and will always have the video evidence! 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Happy Feet (SOL19 #3)

Disclaimer: This is a heavy one. But a story that has been in my heart for a long time that I do need to get down on “paper.”

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. I sat in the room with all the medical equipment with my mom and my dad. I had just finished my junior year of high school, enjoyed all the end of the year activities, and yet here we are. I sat in the uncomfortable chair thinking about the words that the doctor had just spoken. “It won’t be much longer.” I had heard those words for a week now, but here we sat. This time, it seemed like it might be true. My dad was lying motionless in the hospital bed with lots of wires attached to him. The wires that let us know his heart rate, oxygen levels, and whatever else the doctors needed to know. 
“Do you think he could hear us?”
My mom sighed and said, “I really don’t know. Maybe? I’ve heard sometimes that people who are in a coma can hear things, but we can’t be sure.” 
We sat there quiet for a while, but the silence was becoming deafening. I couldn't handle sitting in the quiet anymore so I started to talk to my mom about the required summer reading before senior year. “I’m going to have to buy the books soon. Do you have cash for them?” His foot moved. Not just moved, wagged back and forth, like a dogs tail would. It was slight, but it happened. Just as quickly as it happened, it stopped. 

My dad had a spot in the house. A prized spot. A reddish brownish drab-ish (in my opinion) Lazy Boy that had a prominent spot in the living room. It was positioned in perfect spot to hear all the goings on in the house, while also in a direct sightline of the tv. He loved that Lazy Boy and spent more time in the reclined position than I care to think about. His feet would hang off the edge of the foot rest in the perfect position for peak comfort. Now in order to understand Tom Hull (my Dad), you need to know a few things. He loved his family. I know he did. He did not like to outwardly show that. He was serious, a little grumpy, and didn’t say too much unless it was lecturing us on how to play sports better or how that “B” was not an “A.” He was a tough guy to please, and he liked it that way. He prided himself on being a before his time grumpy old man. 

There was one thing that he could not control. His feet. It was especially evident in the recliner. When he was talking to someone that he was fond of (in person or one the phone) his feet would wag back and forth. I remember calling him on it after he got off a “dreaded” phone call with a gentleman that he used to work with. “What with the feet Dad? You excited to talk to Wayne?” “Oh come off it!” (A famous Tom Hull line) After I noticed it, I couldn’t unsee it. It would happen all the time. 

  • Armchair coaching sessions
  • Phone calls
  • Christmas morning
  • Hearing every detail about my day

He couldn’t help it. The feet would go back and forth. Sometimes it was slight, but other times it was undeniable. That small movement showed that he was enjoying the conversation with that person, no matter was his face or voice was telling us. We would call them his happy feet. When his “happy feet” were pointed out to him he would try his best to make it stop, but he couldn’t do it. 

I stared at the edge of the bed hoping it would happen again. It didn’t. So I continued my conversation with my mom. Senior pictures coming. What package should we get? 
The feet started up again. This time wagging pretty fiercely. I motioned for my mom to look. She smiled. She mouthed to me, maybe he is listening. 

“Dad, don’t be so cheap. I need to have senior pictures.” 
There went his feet again. Maybe he didn't like being called cheap.
“Are you really hearing this?” 
The feet stopped.
“One shake if you love us.” 
The blankets moved with that one strong shake of his feet.
Happy feet. 

Now I don’t remember if he responded with his feet more times that night, but he had already said everything that he needed to say with that one shake. Also, I had heard everything I needed to hear from him. That was my last memory with my Dad. He passed away before we made it to the hospital the next morning. 

A couple years after he passed I got a tattoo on my ankle of two footprints. Those footprints remind me of my last memory of my Dad, but also of all the conversations we had with his feet wagging back and forth, despite his best efforts to stop it. I miss him immensely, but am glad to have a small reminder of him whenever I need it.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

20 Seconds (SOL19 #2)


She counted aloud as her little arms wrapped tightly around me. She giggled as the countdown continued.


"Tell her! Tell Aunt Katie why." 

"Yes, please. Tell Aunt Katie why." 


She still hugged me tightly. I was starting to catch on to the counting and decided to finish the countdown with her. 

As soon as she hit zero, she released her sweet little grip and moved on to Uncle Phil.

"What was all of that about?" 

"Well Aunt Katie, I read on the internet that people seek hugs at least 13 times a day. But short hugs don't make people feel good. I read that a hug that lasts 20 seconds sets off endorphins or things that make you feel good. Do you feel good?

"You know... you're right! I'm feeling great. Thanks, Leah!" 

"Good. I read it on the internet, so it must be true." 
She winked at me and moved on to the next person. 

Now I haven't fact checked this and I don't usually recommend people to believe everything that they have read on the internet, but this was pretty sweet.
 20 second hugs. Try one! 

Friday, March 1, 2019

But I don't remember my phone number (SOL19 #1)

Mrs. Suomi, can I call my mom? 

Almost every day in our co-taught classroom we have a student that needs to call home for some reason or another.
I forgot my iPad. 
I forgot I have musical practice after school. 
I need my basketball jersey. 
My lunch is still in the car. 
I left my permission slip on the counter. 

Immediately following their request the words spill out of my mouth without even thinking. 

Do you know your phone number? 

Sometimes they do. Most times they don't. While looking up their number on our management system my co-teacher and I always explain the importance of knowing the phone number of a parent just in case of an emergency. The kids nod, but wait patiently to get the phone number written on a post it. They make the call, then throw the post it away. 

Yesterday, a student approached my co-teacher, Kim. Kim had the same conversation we always do, but then added one of our across the classroom talks. 

Mrs. Suomi? 

Yes Ms. Van Wyk? 

Do you still remember phone numbers from when you were a little girl? 

I do. I memorized all of my friend's phone numbers In fact, I can remember my father's work phone number and he RETIRED when I was in 5th grade. And THAT was a long time ago.

I can even remember the sounds that the keys made when I dialed. My best friend Kathleen's number went... Boop boop booop - boop boop boooop boop. 

Just hearing those boops brought me back to running to the phone to call my best friend, or my dad, or my uncle, or ANYONE that could possibly answer. 

I don't think of myself as old, or at least I don't try to... but there are some moments where I can't help but notice how different kids have it today than it was even 10-15 years ago. It's crazy to think that "kids these days" may not have those same types of memories but a whole different experience. I can't help but wonder what they will notice is different with "kids these days" as they become old like me.