Day 24 Slice of Life – Language Divide

“Denise’s turn to write the minutes.”

“OK, I got it,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic and able. At least I only have to do this once in two months.

Today our weekly meeting was in a large classroom, nine of us spread out at a safe distance from each other. The back and forth of Arabic voices bounced off the walls. Fortunately, I was near enough to my English coordinator counterpart from the lower grades.

“Just tell me if there is anything I should write down,” I told her from across our two-meter divide. At a typical meeting, I would have just looked over at her notes. 

The meeting was largely in Arabic, as I was the only one of the nine who didn’t understand, but there was enough translation for me to write three pages–some of it with my usual intuitive interpretation and plenty of question marks.

It’s been a few hours since that meeting, so I better get back to typing up the minutes so I can send them back to my sweet partner to read and edit. 

Day 23 Slice of Life – Me

Today’s inspiration came from Margaret Simon. Lanny Ball shared it on today’s Slice of Life post. I’m glad I ventured over to Louisiana to take Margaret’s challenge. I wrote a poem about me, inspired by her sweet “Peep Eye” poem in Bayou Song: Creative Explorations of the South Louisiana Landscape.


Same for walking







Just Me
Trying to be

Day 22 Slice of Life – My Sweet Husband

I’m lucky to be spending extra time at home with a husband like mine. I love him in a lot of ways and for many reasons, but this week a couple stood out.

I love to cook and he is a creative and capable cook too. We have always gotten along famously with meal times. His initiative in the kitchen is one of the things I like about him. The last couple days I’ve also been reminded about another endearing quality about him.

Yesterday I made a delicious dish that has become a family favorite.  It’s from Lauren Hartmann’s Rabbit and Wolves blog, and it’s called Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Ramen. (Just writing the name makes my mouth water.) We made it for Christmas Eve this past year when all my kids were home for Christmas; they loved it too.

Day 1

We enjoyed it for dinner last night and planned to have it again tonight. At lunch, my husband ate his normal lunch, and then he went in and warmed up a bowl full of this soup (without the noodles; I add those just before we’re going to eat it). He was slurping merrily away, and I said, “I thought we were having that for dinner.”

He said, “Oh, we are. This is just a starter. I’ll have it with noodles for dinner.”

Then tonight we warmed up more of the soup, added noodles, set out the same toppings, and ate it again.

Here are some of the things I heard at dinner, some multiple times.

  • This is a winner of a dinner.
  • Wow, this is amazing.
  • I could eat this every night.
  • This recipe is a keeper.
  • Is there enough to have it again tomorrow?

While I was working on this blog post, he said, “That dinner tonight was really awesome.”

He is really quite enthusiastic about life, not just Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Ramen. He has taught me to be more grateful for little things. You might be able to see why.

Copy-Paste the Next Night


Day 21 Slice of Life – Happy Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day in the Middle East and northern Africa. This unofficial holiday started in 1956, introduced by Mustafa Amin, Egyptian journalist, and was gradually adopted in about twenty other countries. It coincides with the beginning of spring, which I think is an appropriate day to celebrate birth and motherhood.

This year, in celebration of Mother’s Day, there will be no large assembly, no cards made in art, poems written in English and Arabic, and no flowers passed out to those sweet moms in the audience.

This year, in celebration of Mother’s Day, our sweet moms are home with their children–teaching, entertaining, feeding, and caring for them. Many of these moms are also still going to work.

In 2020, they really need a day to honor and bless them. I hope my students do so. God bless them!

Day 20 Slice of Life – Monster Cookies

“I need to bake cookies,” I told my husband. It’s Friday, a day for rest and baking.

“Make some for the nurses. They are overworked these days,” said my husband. He’s the chaplain at the hospital.

I had all the ingredients for monster cookies, plus two liters of Baskin-Robbins ice cream in the freezer. We were supposed to have a small dinner party tonight (well under the ten-person suggested limit for gatherings here), but it got cancelled in an abundance of caution.

Cookie dough

When the dinner was cancelled, having recently started Weight Watchers, I was in a quandary about what to do with all these sweets! Do I bake these cookies and risk eating five of them today? (That’s my modus operandi when there are freshly-baked cookies around.) Or do I make another plan?

“Perfect!” I told my husband. “That’s what I’ll do.” I hope it’s safe! Good God, we are in new territory. I’ll wear gloves when I package them.

Anyway, that’s what I did. My husband delivered cookies to several departments.

And I only ate one for five WW points.

Monster Cookies
1 stick butter
1¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 2/3 c. peanut butter
1 T. vanilla
4 ½ cups oatmeal
2 t. soda
¾ cup M&Ms
¾ cup chocolate chips
4 ounces nuts (optional)

Cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add and blend eggs, peanut butter, and vanilla. Add oatmeal and soda. Then add M&Ms and chocolate chips. Add nuts, if desired.

Bake at 350⁰ for 10-12 minutes.

Packaged cookies to take to the employees

Day 19 Slice of Life – Birthday Wishes

Before we left on our Corona distancing holiday, the teachers and admin chipped in money for a birthday celebration for our vice principal. Then about a week before her birthday, we had to leave school. We celebrated during a virtual meeting and sent her with a virtual birthday card on her special day. But today, we surprised her with the gift we had bought for her last month.

The few supervisors, coordinators, and teachers who were on campus gathered in the room next door. Then we went into her room singing, “Happy Birthday.”  We were all spread out around the room, no hugs, no kisses, no cake. Just a VP who was touched and thankful for the gold necklace we got for her.

Everyone said goodbye and filed out of the room.

Celebrating in our new way.

Day 18 Slice of Life – Poignant Uncertainty

Today I finally found a few minutes to get to a pile of notebooks, neglected since January 29.  These are our dialogue journals, and the students and I write back and forth to each other weekly. Until January 29, that is.

So much happened in February. We had a field trip cancelled and rescheduled. We went on the rescheduled trip. We spent a week reading all around the school in what we called the Reading Marathon. We started a big project of writing 120 stories about people at Al Raja School, and we were trying to finish writing our novels. Since I only have seven periods a week with the children, it might not be surprising that we neglected our dialogue journals for three weeks. Then during the fourth week, on February 25, school was cancelled to help stop the Coronavirus spread here in Bahrain.

This morning as I sat with each book, I would see the face of the child, wonder when I would see her again, say a prayer for her and the family at home, and write a serious letter back to the child. I wrote things like, “I look forward to seeing you again.” Instead of what I would normally write, “Have a great weekend! See you Sunday.” I couldn’t even write, “I look forward to seeing you again next month when we get back from our Coronavirus holiday.” Chances are there will be no school next month either.

I felt the weight of the leaden pages as I thumbed through the emptiness of the back half of a boy’s notebook. His last entry had ended with making a challenge to fill the whole hundred-page dialogue journal before summer, “I’m sure we’ll be able to fill up this notebook with our letters this year,” he enthusiastically wrote.  Not likely, Mohammed.

We are living in an unsettled time now, to be sure, a time osadness and uncertainty.  There were poignant times when I felt this loss today, like the examples above. However, the entries were also fun and playful and silly at times, because that’s what they had written to me, so I answered their queries and listened and responded and celebrated with them about what they had chosen to tell me–a Captain Underpants book review, a detailed game in Roblox, a description of the lunch at sports day, a child who was able to score from a high pass during the sports day soccer tournament and much more.

What better way to spend these days than doing what I love most? Teaching, helping, encouraging, and giving hope and comfort to children. 

They are giving me the same.

Day 17 Slice of Life – Too Much Computer

I am exhausted, and my eyes are crossing. I thought I would have more time to do the Slice of Life this March because school was called off on February 25. I expected to have some quiet.  Unbelievably, I thought maybe some boring times. Instead, I feel I am sitting every waking minute at the computer.

Today I was reminded to turn in a report about the project my students did this year. I needed to send the rubric, the unit plan description and photos. For the life of me, I couldn’t even remember what quarter we did it (there was just 1 and 2), what the project was or if I had taken any photos. The project is 100 points and we spend a good chunk of time with it. Finally, I had to look at my year plan to remember anything about it.

That is really, really unlike me. It is time to take rest!