De Nile

August 2 Makes Declaration

Dear Facebook Family,

I, Shawn Wise, being of sound and sane mind, do today, declare that I’m taking a break from the Facebook world.

Please, if you do need to reach me my email is Shawnbwise@gmail.com.

Have a safe and fabulous summer holiday!

August 3 Shares Photo

grammybeaswing
The big swing tree is still standing at Grammie Bea’s on Great Diamond Island!
#neveraquitter

Snowed In

 

cryingsnowdaydrew

January 14 Maryland

Dear Tiny Friends,

 I sit in my car waiting for the cracked windshield to defrost, hoping that an angel from above will actually remove the 6 inches of snow from around and on my icy, rattling Volkswagon. I find my thoughts turning to all 26 of you as a group and as the amaz individual little beings you are becoming. Are you enjoying your snow days off? Are you remembering to fill in your nightly reading logs? How many hours have you each logged in video game/screen time? Are you being mindful and polite and patient with your siblings and parents? Most importantly, are you warm and full? Are you safe. All of these questions certainly prove to me how slyly each and every stinkin’ one of you have secured a permanent place in my heart…..no matter how many times you sulkily glare at me each day and refuse to take control of your own education…you have such a fab team of support at your beck and call. We will work to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity we call free education once again on Monday. Now, go hug your Mamas and Papas and thank them for keeping you healthy and occupied this week (trust me, this will work to your advantage).

Your Defrosting Teacher,

Ms. Wise

“Had To Pass On…”

I received the text in aisle 3,192 of the Super Walmart -my husband informing me that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. We appreciated his shows, Trevor and I. They were part  of a handful that both he and I could sit and watch together-satisfying both of us to be physically close to each other and watch something that appeased both of our appetites. Bordain was easy listening- a voice that was often just randomly playing in the background of this screen-addicted home.

I suppose because his voice was always so immediately recognizable that I kind of just felt it would always be here for us. I thought of that term, here for usI can’t imagine the total amount of perfect strangers that also felt the same way, that Bourdain was simply unstoppable, not in a flashy way- more in a “he’s a fighter way” making his rounds of our globe with such unaffected glibness that it  further endeared him to all. Imagine the burden of feeling that so many people assume you have to be there for them; you are everyone else’s fighter…!

As a plucky gal who suffered Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression with each pregnancy and currently work (ha) with Persistent Depressive Disorder (basically an aberration if you will-of my brain chemistry) , I struggle with “what could have been” if only I had  been treated with depression and anxiety  as a teen rather than  taking so much of my adult life to soothe and mellow my brain waves. My friend “Darla Downer” was an absolutely life-altering and all consuming companion for so so long. Without my amazing therapist and her ability to match me with proper medication, along with my fab fam, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything close to what I have over the last several years (which includes anything from becoming re-certified to teach to making it through the day without bursting into ferocious tears listening to the Edie Breckell CD that is permanently stuck in my car player on my way to the Dunkin Donuts).  Sidekick Darla nearly killed me over the decades in a myriad of wonderfully depressive and potentially devastating ways and my empathy nearly doubled me over right there in the Dorito Dome. I wasn’t ashamed to feel my face burn and my tears begin for his family left behind. Each tear and stomach cramp and deep yoga breath-dedicated to his legacy.

Val Kilmer’s letter to the public regarding Mr. Bourdain isn’t an easy one to read. But read,we must. We have to acknowledge all sides affected from this horrifying rippling effect called suicide. For the Robin Williams’, the Kate Spades, the Kurt Cobains, the Alexander McQueens, L’Wren Scotts, the Scott Hutchisons, the  Annabelle Neilsons-they selflessly  shared their raw and honed talent with the world, sacrificing much for others, yet did not have the POWER  to sustain their own lives. Let their fall into personal canyons from which they couldn’t climb out of be a call of action for better services that can spread awareness and outline the signs of depression for all people, ages, colors, religions, and economic and health care status. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 

 

 

 

My Mom Sells Booze

Before and between my days of being a proper school room teacher, I had the opportunity (sometimes not quite the right word) to engage as an employee for a number of highly regarded job sites throughout the state of Maryland. Posts include Beach 7-11 Hostess, Flapjack Dealer, Steamed-Crabs Hawker, Counselor in Training, Counselor for Real, Math Tutor (had no business taking that job over for my sister-who is a MATH teacher), UPS and Post Office Liaison, Hair Model (lasted exactly 3 days), NatureStore Holiday ELF (in a MALL, natch), Babysitter, Adultsitter, Teensitter, Petsitter, Housesitter, Bank (yes, Bank) Phone Receptionist, and Corporate Binder-Stuffer.

The Binder-Stuffer program took place in a creepy warehouse with about 10 others who all seemed to know each other from a local prisoner-work release program. I owe this opportunity all to the gals at the local Job Placement office, a typing test (on a real typewriter, vintage!)  and my habit of not reading the fine print before signing- (Oh, me? Why, yes, I ALWAYS wear houndstooth mini skirts and WHITE Buck Shoes when dealing with large, heavy, cardboard boxes as white bucksfar as my near sighted eyes can see).  Fortunately, I had occasion to stare blankly at pallets for long stretches of time while my cohorts smoked cigarettes by the back door every 11 minutes. Another job included short order cook within a wine and coffee bar (yet another misguided attempt in self-preservation within a college- that would be college number THREE for me). I fibbed a bit on the application and was stunned when I was called to train so soon after posting my availability. The beautiful, young entrepreneur that ran this show walked me through the kitchen for 8 hours until I realized that they expected me to actually, well, fill food orders! Whoopsie. I thought short-order cook meant garnishing and delivering.

I even went as far to go on an interview in the far corner of my state to see if I was interested in selling rehabbed vans to people in WHEELCHAIRS. WHAT? Had absolutely no background or business selling vans to people in wheelchairs. I don’t think I could even complete the survey that they had me do in yet another cubicle-one designed to aide companies in determining appropriate pairings between employees and employers. I remember thinking, why in GOD’S NAME am I here? This is embarrassing. I think this is around the time my parents were looking up BIPOLAR DAUGHTER on WebMD.

By far, the most highly regarded position was as a Sales Representative for two highly-competitive Wine and Spirit Distributors- which, for me and my fabulous- past- decision- making- skills regarding personal intake of liquor and beer, seemed horrifyingly natural at the time (alcohol damages a gal’s brain in that way). Well, you guessed it, seems I got myself into yet another situation that I didn’t necessarily need to be in. I wasn’t stopping at this one, however. I knew my job-experience capers needed to settle down to prove I could succeed professionally in SOMETHING (hey, why not stay a friggin teacher- LIKE YOU WENT TO ALL THOSE

wine

Me (l) and Jenny M. at Louis M. Martini pawing the OLD VINE.

COLLEGES FOR, MORON). My stories as a wine and spirit representative are the juiciest (no pun intended). Mostly, my kids rode around in a car that smelled like spoiled Tuaca Italian Liqueur  and was stained with gorgeous hues of Merlot and Cab Franc of varying price points and mouth feels. My kids also had the sweetest swag a toddler could wear from my liquor suppliers-I mean, what’s not appropriate with dressing a 2 year old up with a Jack Daniels Official Taste Tester cap on? Cute, right? (Paging CPS).

Each job deserves its’ own entry. This is just the beginning. Look for my flashbacks throughout the blog and enjoy.  NO JUDGING JUDYS ALLOWED.

 

Not a Chance-Growing Up a Teacher’s Daughter

Growing up in a family of teachers is quite unique and taught me many things.  Several episodes of my past attempts to sneak my way past any necessary extra work to spare both of my parents any more stress or additional emotional pain never-ever-ever-ever-EVER worked (phew!).

It’s like they had a Sixth Sense, a Spydee vs. Spidey Sense-

Trying to copy another’s paper? Busted- Mom was my 4th grade teacher for a bit. Nothing slid past her. Learned this the hard way. Also went for passing notes. Was humiliated. And grounded. This is a story that lives on today in my history of poor decisions regarding my education.

Interested in skipping school? Busted- My anxiety and fear of being caught by my parents generally overruled any fun that may have been had. The thought never even crossed my mind…until I realized we were able to sign ourselves out at 18 from the front office. Even then it was only to run home to grab a sports uniform or a snack because, well, what did someone DO when they skipped school? #naive #catholicschoolgirl

Looking to sign FOR your parent? Busted- Pencil, purple crayon, 6th grade. Weekly grade sheets for some reason were thrust upon the scene.  Most likely a poor math grade, I had been diligently practicing my mother’s specific teacher-scrawl for years for occasions such as this. Quelling 11 year old panic (as only the child of a teacher can do), tried to cross it out via a purple crayon-because what Math Teacher DIDN’T correct any signature requests with a purple crayon? Dang it. That signature just poked right on through the back of the sheet.

When it was time to face the music, all my Mom had to do was hold it up to the light she was sitting next to and out came the indentations of my misguided attempt to spare her any pain. Her bullsh*t meter didn’t even tremble. I was rewarded for my brave foray into the world of forgery by being one of the few who had to continually use a grade sheet longer than any other child in the history of the 6th grade.

Invited to an after-prom-party? Busted. Spent the night out after a dance with a bunch of others and LIED about where I was actually spending the night ( I know, right? Super original). All they had to do was pretend they had seen the parent of the supposed-parent-chaperoned-overnight at the local grocery store and out came  my story.

Practicing to be a race-car driver in your parent’s station wagon? Busted. My parents seemed to have spies out for me whenever I drove that tan and brown gateway to my (limited) freedom. “I spoke to Mrs. Daniels and SHE said she saw you driving WAY TOO FAST on Montgomery Village Avenue. Give your Dad the car keys.”  SH*T! BUSTED!

Now that I am a teacher and the parent of two strikingly different boys in regards to general awareness of WHAT NOT TO DO when you are the child of a teacher, I try to remember those good old days of generalized paranoia and give them one or two chances in addition to many stories of my growing up. Because the time is rapidly arriving that I, too, shall demand return of those keys to freedom- to keep my boys safe, to keep others alive, to keep pushing for self-restraint where necessary. It’s tough, being the child of a teacher.

Now, go back and re-do sentences 7-19 and correct those wonderful mistakes I just found on your homework, sweetie. Also, we will expect you to know your 9’s in multiplication tables by the end of dinner tomorrow night. Love ya! 😉

 

 

 

Countdown to Summer

I try to conjure days of yore, the days before my work and family and turning 47 consumed my own “so-called life” life. I yearn for my younger days as an elementary student- waiting for the last days of school; counting down with large, crossed out numbers on the side blackboard. These numbers greeted us daily. When the number came to show 10 days of school left, we instinctively slipped into nautical time keeping mode. (A period from noon of one day to noon of the next, used in reckoning time aboard ship.)

The realization that the end is nigh is directly related to  the “switch out” of our school uniforms. Spring uniform policy dictated that our long sleeved, stiff,  white oxfords be exchanged for the short sleeved stiff, white oxfords.  Dark, stiff tartan skirts were tossed into space to be frantically searched for in the fall and replaced by lighter colored stiff skirts. Lighter sneakers or shoes were now permitted. No more ankle destroying penny loafers to slip on down the carpeted school stairs with!

The space between May and June is a tricky one to fill for both students and educators. I attended the same school with the same kids from 1st to 8th grade. We knew exactly how to fill that space- whether it be “Heads down, thumbs up!”, or nerf ball games that required us to stay seated in our chairs, or maybe a little paper-football tourney?

How about that amazing thing called outdoor recess. Once those recesses hit 4 days in a row without pouring rain we knew we were in it to win it.

Outdoor recess  is when we realized that the saddle shoes STILL weren’t scuffed enough to provide a gal any traction. Traction for games such as  Rounders or Run-Across or, God forbid, Red Rover-the violent game that would cause chaotic response from current day teachers.  Recess is when we watched the gym teacher lazily perched on the side wall with a whistle and a bag of Fritos (so unfair!) , chatting with another teacher who was grading literally a 2 foot pile of assignments, as we ran carefree and often policed our own fun.

The best part about that playground was that it was an empty church parking lot.

When it wasn’t filled with cars, it was absolute nirvana. BOYS CHASE GIRLS! Someone always screeched and yelled and ran. Everyone immediately scattered to find their own gender to make a plan. The goal is to bring the other team members to “jail” situated at the base of the ancient, ginormous tree at the corner of the asphalt. Watch out for someone beaming golf-ball-sized acorns at ya!

We had Playground Mothers- I found myself stranded  4 feet in the air on top of the metal bars of “The Spider”.  Our  antique and enormous hand bell rang to signal the end of recess. As everyone bolted towards the doors to be allowed back in the schooo, I remember tentatively yelping out , “Mother?” “Mom?” I can’t remember now if we were told to just call them Mom or what, but eventually one would see me and haphazardly lift me down and I was really embarrassed every time.

I watched with jealousy as other girls and boys who were clearly more gymnastically inclined spinning- spinning- spinning with one leg wrapped around the bar, arms hooked, never stopping. I cringed and was almost sick when another student flew off the swings on swingjumperthe “jump-off” swing game and broke his leg.  I remember one unfortunate 1st grade event in which a school mate peed on the swing seat and wouldn’t move until a Playground Mother swooped in to save the day.

I remember warning others to BACK IT UP!!!! WAYYY UP!!!! when the athletic stars of our class were up to kick during kick ball. We knew everyone’s kick style. We knew the “faker” – one that acted as though that ball was gonna soar over the building onto Frederick Avenue and instead  stopped the ball with the foot and ran like hell for first base.

We knew which girls had the hardest shoes and the fastest, strongest legs and the boys who were tough and the those who would never ever actually connect with the ball throughout the game-those whose legs seemed to whiff right over that incoming ball. Awkward. There’s one in every class.

We had water fountain lines and no-buttsies. We had a bell ringer and dark heavy oak classroom windows that opened out for a view of the playground. No screens.  We only had to navigate two levels, two hallways and two sets of heavy wooden swinging doors. We knew where the school vacuum and cleaning supplies were located-underneath the great big giant stairs in front of the teeny tiney principal’s lair. It was like Narnia! We had warm chocolate milk boxes. The kind that were so difficult to open properly and you usually ended up stabbing the box repeatedly with a pencil to get to that salmonella.

St. Martins

The author’s school from Grades 1-8. St. Martins of Tours, Gaithersburg, Maryland

We knew on Wednesday we had confession. In that church on those freezing, ass-numbing-pews some of us would carefully paw through the hymnals stuffed into those tilted shelves. Some would stare straight ahead at Jesus on the cross in a hypnotic type state waiting for their turn. Others would utilize this time warp by cleaning out their noses or flicking the person’s shoulders in front of them. Still one would continually lightly paw the hair of those seated in front and act completely offended and annoyed when blamed for the intrusions.

Most would wait, their limbic system on high alert, destroying nail beds while waiting for their turn. Just coming up with sins to confess when you are in 5th grade was an emotional and confusing battle.

We would finally be ensconced in the cool, darkened confessional and confess things like, “I told my Dad I turned the TV off when I really didn’t” “I ate the rest of the ice cream and blamed it on my brother”.

I dutifully counted off my penance prayers on my fingers while watching the rest of the class enter and exit the booth in which our sins would be cleansed.  Our biggest scandal was having the priest snoring on the other side of the mysterious grate.

I could use that confessional now…

So the countdown to last day of school continues. My sons didn’t have the opportunity to bond with classmates for 2 years due to the pandemic. I hope for that to change so they can gather memories such as mine from their first years in school.

It may be with masks on our faces greeting our teachers or saying goodbye to my sons’ classmates this year that makes this countdown all the more amazing. This is a countdown that I’ll never forget. Get out the paper footballs.

As I write, it’s officially 30 days until summer vacation. Let the countdown begin!

The Landscaper’s Wife

After 15 years of marriage this year, I’ve compiled a list of phrases I’ve been honored enough to hear over and over from my husband, a small business owner of over 25 years…check out his site so I can continue hearing them in my sleep. Environmental Landcare Maryland

10. The rain just won’t stop.

9.  We need rain so badly.

8. The flowers are all confused.

7. The yard could use some weeding. (Uh, isn’t that YOUR job?)

6. Who left the hose on?

5. I’ve got a truck broken down on the side of 97 N.

4. It’s just my busy season.

3. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

2. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

1. The last thing on everybody’s list is to pay their landscape bill.

Lucky me.

Where It’s At-The Privilege of Living Where I Live

blueangels2018The East Coast is where it’s at.  Maryland. Annapolis. Even sweeter.

Growing up on the water, my two sons are the LUCKIEST DUCKIEST kids alive.

Growing up with friends who have boats? Priceless! They have NO IDEA HOW GOOD THEY HAVE IT.

Fab Facts:

  •  A big chunk of the Bay came from space. “An asteroid or huge chunk of ice slammed into Earth about 35 million years ago,” reported the Washington Post, “sending tsunamis as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains and leaving a 56-mile-wide hole at the mouth of what is now the bay.”
  • The scientific name for the blue crab is Callinectes Sapidus, which means “beautiful swimmer that is savory.”
  • Blue crabs will eat almost anything, including each other!  The older crabs often eat the younger ones…which is what I tell my kids will happen to them if they don’t just chillax at times.

FACTS ABOUT OUR BAY

  • Plant a Tree!Trees help to clean the soil by absorbing harmful nutrients.  Trees also help prevent erosion, keeping harmful sediments and nutrients out of the Bay.HOW? Environmental Landcare-Small Business

Just a little shameless self promotion above 😉