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The Week Before Thanksgiving

Next week, the schools in our district have no school. On Monday and Tuesday there are parent/teacher conferences, and then for the rest of the week, we are celebrating Thanksgiving!

Today, I went to see Lily’s fifth grade class perform a play about The First Thanksgiving. They did such a good job, and were so cute! (Yes, fifth graders are still adorable!)

Unfortunately for me (and for you), I have had a long standing policy where I don’t publish photos of other people’s kids online. I was sitting in the front row, and I’d love to show you the pictures I took. But I can’t. *sigh*

Tomorrow, we are inviting the parents to my preschool classroom to perform our version of The First Thanksgiving. It is very different than the fifth grade version, and involved much more singing. Since I am the teacher, I will not be able to take photos, and I will not be able to show you the photos I didn’t take. So there!

Pretty soon, I’ll be writing a post about all the things I’m thankful for. One of those things is that I’ve written 19 posts in November, and I only have 11 more to write. #nablopomo (Just thought I’d stick that hashtag in for fun.)

Don’t forget, we’re talking about Thanksgiving here on The Spin Cycle until the end of the month! Link up your Thanksgiving thankful posts, stories, crafts, and recipes HERE!

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Solo Road Trip: Part Three

When I was growing up, we always celebrated Thanksgiving with my Dad’s family. Now that my cousins and I are older, we’ve taken over hosting Thanksgiving, but with a twist. It’s been hard to get everyone together on Thanksgiving itself, so we have a “Pre-Thanksgiving” celebration. This year my cousin and her husband graciously hosted our family in Midland, Michigan, this past October.

(Read Part One and Part Two)

Midland MI

After our breakfast and during our exploration of Midland, my aunt and I discovered the trail that led to my cousin’s house. It meandered along the river for part of the way, and even though it was overcast, it was a beautiful day. My aunt has always been a walker, but now that she’s 80 years old, she moves a bit slower than she used to. I kept her company and we chatted about books and teaching preschool, while Lily and Emmy went ahead with my dad. When Dad found out that we had about a mile to go, he thought it would be too far, but then he stumbled upon the cemetery that is right next to my cousin’s neighborhood. He and the girls rambled about quite happily, looking at the tombstones.

Fall trees

Towards the end of our walk, it started to sprinkle on us, so we were quite happy to reach our destination. While I started off with another cup of coffee, some time that afternoon my cousin’s husband put a Long Island iced tea in my hand! I wasn’t going to argue with him.

The house itself is beautiful. It’s a big house, with plenty of places to store things. In fact, the house may have too much storage space. My cousin, who is very organized, had bought the perfect paper plates for our Thanksgiving meal. She put them in a very safe place. So safe that she couldn’t find them! I helped her look for a little while, but the iced tea made me quite unambitious. She even sent her daughter’s boyfriend out to buy more plates, when voila! She remembered they were in a salad bowl on top of a dining room cabinet!

The day flew by. I visited with various aunts and uncles and cousins. Lily and Emmy were just beside themselves with joy when their second cousins arrived and the real fun (according to them) could begin. We ate a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. (We almost lost the pies, but I believe they were found in the master bedroom.) We sang, told stories, sat around the fire pit, and played cards.

One of my cousins, telling a family story
One of my cousins, telling a family story

The day had turned dark, and it had been raining on and off ever since we had arrived. When I told the girls it was time to go back the hotel, Emmy looked up at me, a bit worried. “Mommy, I don’t want to walk to the hotel in the dark,” she said, very seriously. I had already arranged for a ride back, and told her not to worry. I didn’t want to walk back to the hotel either!

Our trip to Midland was spontaneous…as spontaneous as I get these days. I had originally decided not to go, since Ed couldn’t go with us. While I wish that Ed had been there too, I was also glad that I had made the trip by myself, with Lily and Emmy. Seeing my family made the solo road trip worth every mile!

Do you have a Thanksgiving post to share? Link it up here!

Have you been sharing what you are grateful for on Instagram or Facebook? Link your URL here!

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Running the Race

I could see her rounding the corner in a group of other fifth grade girls; her steps were flagging as she ran slower and slower, and she was about to start walking. “C’mon, Lily!” I yelled. “Keep it up!” She looked up and saw me, and started running until she reached the finish line. Lily had just finished her first Cross Country race!

A couple of days ago on Facebook, a friend wrote that she was just so tired, felt so old, and had been through chemo. She just wanted a good night’s sleep! I could relate to her so well. I remember lying awake at night after chemo was over, not able to sleep, struggling with insomnia and getting up in the morning to go to work exhausted. I’m sure you’ve felt the same way at times. Exhausted, overwhelmed, and just plain tired.

A couple of weeks ago, Ed was feeling that way, too. He had so much on his plate. His aging father has been in and out of the hospital recently. He is the elected president of our church, which as always has financial problems. It seems like he’s never home which is frustrating to both of us. We talked about it, and a little while later, I asked him how he was. “I feel much better!” he said. “Why?” I asked, because just a little while before he seemed so stressed out. “Because I talked to you,” he said. Letting it all out somehow made the situation seem better, even though nothing could be solved at the time.

Sometimes all we need is an encouraging word; a safe place to vent; someone to listen. That’s all we need to put one foot in front of the other. To just keep on swimming!


What keeps you going? Be sure to read all our bloggers who linked up, and give them some encouraging comments! When you read their posts, I’m positive you’ll feel encouraged, too! Do you have a blog post about encouragement? Be sure to link it up here!

NEXT WEEK: Stay tuned for a special month of the Spin Cycle! We’ll be writing about being grateful and Thanksgiving. Are you on Pinterest and Instagram? You’re not going to want to miss November on The Spin Cycle!

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When the Going Gets Tough…

…the tough get going! But what if the tough are tired, stressed, or overwhelmed? What if the tough one (me) discovers that a blog post she started writing on her phone disappeared because she forgot to save it?

Well, I quit writing my Spin Cycle post about Encouragement because I felt quite Discouraged with a capital D. It was easier to give up than to try to rewrite the paragraphs I had lost.

But then I remembered that it’s November. What does that mean? It’s National Blog Posting Month, y’all!

NaBloPoMo November 2015

I’ve participated in NaBloPoMo every year since 2009, and I’m certainly not going to let a little writer’s block get in my way!

And so our continuing prompt this week is Encouragement. When do you need encouraging? Who gives you encouragement? Or how do you provide encouragement to others? (I’m going to need your encouragement for the next month!)

Write a post about encouragement and link up here any day this week!

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Discovered in a Drawer


I really don’t know why I keep this thing; this mop of hair that insurance paid for and that I hated from the moment I put it on my head. I wanted a fun blond wig, but the hairdresser thought I should match my natural, mousy color. I thought it would be fun to have a shoulder length bob, but my mom thought I should match my current short hairstyle. So I ended up with a wig that wasn’t really my choice. When I started running my fingers through my hair and it drifted through my fingers, falling to the ground, I began to wear hats. My favorite was a baseball cap I bought at Princeton when I visited my sister there.

Princeton hat
After my first chemo treatment, summer of ’96

While I was teaching, I wore dressier hats. But I never wore my wig, and I never took my hat off while I was teaching second grade. My students knew why I was wearing hats, and as 7 and 8 year olds, they accepted it easily and without many questions. To them, my hat was a part of me. I, however, dreamed of a time when hair would once again brush my cheeks as I leaned forward; to a time when I could run my fingers through my hair again.

breast cancer hat
A picture drawn by a student

The chemo nurses told me about wig burning parties some of their patients had had when their hair started to grow again. I really didn’t feel like burning a wig I never wore. It would have been a useless gesture. (I was also never going to burn my beloved Princeton cap!) And so the wig was thrown up on a closet shelf, moved around a few times, and came with me to a couple of apartments before my husband and I bought a house. In the back of my mind, I kept the wig in case I needed it again. But if I hadn’t worn it the first time, would I really wear it a second time? My wig finally ended up in my top dresser drawer among spare shoelaces and fuzzy sock-slippers, buried away and forgotten.

straw hat
On a field trip with my students

Forgotten, that is, until Emmy rediscovered my wig. As any eight year old would do, Emmy tried it on for size and then kept it on. She began walking around the house saying in a deep voice, “I’m Mommy!” She even wore it outside when she was playing with the neighbors.

My expensive wig, reduced to a plaything. Am I okay with that? Yes, I am. After 19 years, I’m pretty sure I won’t need it again. If I ever do lose my hair to chemo, I’m getting a wig that I choose. Maybe it’ll even be pink.

Maybe it'll even be pink.
Maybe it’ll even be pink.

I started this post last week for the prompt “discovery,” but I didn’t finish it in time. Since October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m using this as my fall post. Link up your Fall post below, and be sure to visit our other Spinners!

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