Shhh! It’s a Surprise!

Two Writing Teachers Today

Oh, my! I am really inexperienced with throwing surprise parties. Especially on Zoom.

Carrot cake, with its spicy and sweet aromas wafting throughout our flat and hallway, ensures that I can’t bake his surprise birthday cake here at home.

However, I figured I would be able to mix the batter here, but even that got a little complicated. My husband works in the same building where we live, so he is known to pop in during the day to retrieve something or take a quick break. There is only one fail-proof safe time when he is in a meeting and that is 7:30-7:50 a.m.

Seven to 7:30 is also pretty good, but if he gets to his office and has forgotten something, even that 30-minute period is at risk. I stayed up late the night before and woke at 7:00, so I jumped into action.

I got out 8 eggs, hid them in a pan with a lid on it. Broke them one by one into a big rectangular Tupperware. Then poured in two cups of oil. I was always a bit nervous and concocting a believable lie should he pop in. Relief. I was safe so far. I took a quick shower and got dressed.

At 7:30, I was finally safe for 20 minutes. I got out the food processor, quickly peeled some carrots, grated them and measured out 6 cups into the tub with oil and eggs. Then I buried it in the fridge among all the other similar tubs.

Next was clean-up! Oh, the ubiquitous carrot gratings! I kept wiping and cleaning, picking them up off the floor. The orange spots of carrot juice and tiny orange shavings screamed, “See me in all my fluorescent glory!” I was supposed to be getting ready for Zoom school not finding another shred of carrot. “Why in the world are you grating carrots?” I heard my husband ask in my imagination where he came home for coffee and saw carrot remains.

As I watched the clock, and kept finding more evidence, I felt like a nervous criminal trying to clean up a crime scene. Finally, I thought I had it all picked up. I even went into the bathroom and checked my smile to make sure all the end pieces I’d been munching on were not wedged anywhere conspicuous. I grabbed my bag of carrot cake trash–eggs shells, empty oil bottle, carrot residue–and went down to the dumpster.

There when I returned back to my flat was my husband in the clean kitchen, thankfully with absolutely no question about carrots. I began to make myself a cup of tea, and he said, “Wow, thanks for emptying the trash…” (It had been sitting by the front door since last evening.) “…and before your tea even!”

This adventure happened twice this week–double recipes of carrot cake mixed up surreptitiously and then taken to a friend’s on the way to school to bake and freeze at their home.

Finally, on Sunday evening we had the successful and sweet party! Several times over the last 24 hours, he has said “Thank you for last night.”

I waited until yesterday, his official birthday to deliver the small cakes I had baked. Between school and time with my husband, I hadn’t had enough free time to bake, thaw, frost and delivery before the party.

I wrote about this party and carrot cake in my Sunday poem for #Verselove and below:

Carrot cake:
our family recipe for 
births, weddings,
baptisms of
Shredded carrots
freckling the kitchen
So many fluorescent flecks
threatening to spoil the
into the meeting at 6:50 p.m.
Bahrain time,
8:50 a.m. Pacific,
for this
pandemic party
Carrot cakes
stealthily baked
with love
in tiny
aluminum pans
delivered to
to celebrate
the anniversary of
the birth of my beloved–
this man,
so good
and kind
and passionate–
with carrot caky goodness

Little Big Cat

Today’s post at Two Writing Teachers

Walking along the busy road, I heard crying that sounded like a distressed child. I was heading toward school, and there at the crumbling corner of the building next to my school was the crier. It wasn’t a human.

A small cat who seemed like a mini wild cat was attempting to intimidate and dominate another. It stood up on a curb to boost its dominance over the harassed cat. I watched for a while while it howled and yowled, as the filthy feline below, even though larger,  calmly waited. The players never changed their positions, actions, or rhetoric.

I’m not sure why I was fascinated with this big talking cat.

KidLit Progressive Poem 2021

Greetings and welcome! It has been a privilege to participate in this written-for-children progressive poem this April. Here’s what was decided for the first six days:

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.

I’ll spread my joy both far and wide,
As a force of Nature I’ll be undenied.

Words like, “how can I help?” will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!

Rose then offered two sweet lines for me to choose from:

We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.


I spy Mrs. J toting grocery bags.

So, like Rose, I wasn’t ready to let the new girl go. I decided to get them together, and chose Rose’s first line.

I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.

I’ll spread my joy both far and wide,
As a force of Nature I’ll be undenied.

Words like, “how can I help?” will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!

We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.

Now, what will happen with this new girl? Perhaps the two children will join together on a kindness mission, or this new shy girl may be won over by the “case of kindness” child. Or likely something else entirely! It’s exciting to see where this meandering poem will lead by the end of April.

For now, Margaret Simon is invited to choose one of these next lines:

Over, under, jump and wonder, touch the ground


But she was shy when greeted; she didn’t make a sound.

I look forward to following the rest of the Kidlit progressive poem journey for 2021. You can too, here at these blogs:
  1. Kat Apel at katswhiskers
  2. Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
  3. Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
  4. Donna Smith at Mainely Write
  5. Irene Latham at Live your Poem
  6. Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
  7. Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
  8. Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
  9. Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
  10. Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
  11. Buffy Silverman
  12. Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
  13. Jone Rush MacCulloch
  14. Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
  15. Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
  16. Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
  17. Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
  18. Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
  19. Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
  20. Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
  21. Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
  22. Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
  23. Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
  24. Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
  25. Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
  26. Tim Gels at Yet There is Method
  27. Rebecca Newman
  28. Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
  29. Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
  30. Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All

Acrostics and Shadow Poems

Two Writing Teachers Blog 🙂

Today I had the opportunity to finally put one of the Ethical ELA poetry prompts to use with students! It was a rewarding and engaging lesson in the long-term substitution I’m doing in grade 11 sociology.

I wrote an acrostic with its shadow earlier this week.

Today in sociology, we were looking at social problems because they are going to develop a charity proposal. The teacher had me do that. He’ll be back the week after next, so then he’ll do something with it. I just had two more classes with them, so I stretched out this charity proposal. Since it’s (Inter)national Poetry Month, I thought we should write some poetry. Here is my sample for them.

First we brainstormed a list of social problems they were concerned about and how and by whom the solutions would come. (We didn’t dig very deeply, though. It’s been millennia and the world hasn’t figured out how to solve them, so I guess 11th graders in Bahrain can’t be expected to in one period.)

Then they collectively wrote an acrostic using the words SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

n danger of


I told them about shadow poems, as Stacey Joy had taught us this week, how they could take the foundation of the acrostic and search for the deeper shadow poem within the acrostic. They were to find the shadow poem of one of the social problems they had chosen to explore. One pair chose teenage smoking, others: sexual harassment, racism, mental health, unemployment, malnutrition, poverty. The poems are becoming beautiful, as they are continuing to work on them. Here are a few lines from some of their poems:

The constant danger is rising and everyone is not speaking about it. No one is aware; everyone is blindfolded.

We are all In danger of being harmed or harming others. Why is my mental health overlooked, why am I not heard nor seen?

How many people were shunned by society because they are unemployed? How many were overwhelmed with pressure from others to get a job?

It was so great to be able to bring the joy of poetry into the social studies classroom. What a great writing assignment, as opposed to their regular  written paragraphs and essays. I’m sold! Thank you, Stacey!

We are still in the first week of daily #verselove poetry prompts on Ethical ELA for the month of April. Do come along for the joy found in this writing community. (Did you see Dr. Kim Johnson’s poem about what writing communities bring?)