Saving my sanity

Spring in Duke Forest

I have not posted since October 6, 2019. Shame on me. Could that be one reason why I am stressed? Feeling guilty? Writing is a stress reliever for me. I write for myself and am thrilled if anyone else takes the time to read my posts. So, thank you in advance. Merci beaucoup en avance!

We are in a weird time. I never thought I’d be living in a pandemic world. But here we are and I am adjusting. My school has shut its doors until at least May 1. Restaurants and bars are closed. Every day a different store locks its doors at the end of the day, unsure when they will be unlocked. All necessary moves. Some mandated by the government, some voluntarily, at this point in North Carolina. I only hope that those who can will support local restaurants and businesses so that they will be able to reopen those locked doors in a few months.

I have set up a little office for myself in the bedroom reserved for my darling Miss K. I don’t think she will mind. Her mommy and daddy are trying to explain to her why they all stay home now. No preschool. No playgrounds. No eating french fries and ice cream at her favorite restaurants. How well does a 3-year old really understand? At least her mommy and daddy are there with her. Along with the two pups. But then again, how well do any of us really understand this world we are living in right now? When my school cancelled my Spring Break trip to France, a week before our departure, I admit to being angry and frustrated. Okay, a virus is making the rounds, mostly in Asia. But within days the Louvre shut its doors. I had a cough left over from a cold that I needed to have checked out before getting on an airplane. I quickly realized, however, that the head of our school made the right decision. We would not have been able to visit the school our pen pals attend. Restaurants and cafés closed before we were due to come home, and we would still have been there, trying to get home after the ban on travel. My 23 students and 2 fellow chaperones and I are still disappointed, but hopefully we will make that same trip to Paris and Provence next March. I did get to go to Paris and Villeneuve-le-Avignon in January (merci, ACIS), so I am very grateful that I got my France fix. Before the shelter in place restriction that France is under now. Thank goodness for email, Facebook, What’s App and all of the other ways I can keep up with my Frenchies.

I am teaching on-line now. Three days in and learning something new every day. Leaning on the wonderful work of fellow French teachers posted in Facebook groups. Leaning heavily on a few of my colleagues who are way more tech savvy than I am. It is a time for leaning on others. I just wish that it would be possible for all students to have access to the technology that my students have. We are a one-to-one iPad school. We already had Google Classrooms in place, using them for assignments, links, communication, etc. Before our spring break, we met to talk about the possibility of closing down for a couple of weeks and what we would do in place of bricks and mortar school. I still worry about whether or not I will be able to meet my students’ needs and keep them from worrying too much. I know that we will all learn to be a little (or a lot) more resilient. Maybe my students will learn some practical life skills… baking, cooking, helping clean the house, working in the yard or garden, helping neighbors (from a distance), making phone calls so that they can hear their friends’ voices, sending real letters in the mail. I mailed pen pal letters to my 6th graders. I had received them from Mme P, my English teacher French dear friend, right before our spring break. I also stuck a copy of a Scholastic magazine, Allons-y!, in the envelope. Real mail! I intend to stock up on stamps and send notes to some of my peeps. I have hundreds of postcards from my trips, especially to France, and I need to start sending them out. What am I waiting for??Anybody else out there want to do this? Go for it! Bless our postal workers.

I have great access to walking trails- Duke Forest, American Tobacco, Eno River. The Ex-Ex is out walking the trail with me, recording his steps so that he can report that when he checks in with his PE classes, encouraging them to get some exercise every day. Walk on!

I also stocked up on butter, sugar and flour. I’ve made two batches of cookies so far. Some are stashed in the freezer. Some are calling my name from the cookie jar that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas.

You’d best believe that Miss K is well-acquainted with Humpty! Just like I knew there would always be a treat waiting for me in the Humpty Dumpty cookie jar that my Grandma Bell had!

So, my friends and readers, here is today’s recipe- a variation on Quaker Oatmeal’s Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I didn’t have much oatmeal on hand, but I did have some envelopes of microwavable instant oatmeal so I used a few of them.

Confinement Oatmeal Cookies

makes about 3 dozen, depending on size

10 Tbsp. softened butter (take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before making the cookies)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 cups oatmeal (I only had about 1-1/2 cups so I used four envelopes of raisin, date, walnut instant microwavable oatmeal)

1 c. raisins (I did not add them since the oatmeal envelopes had some- next time I would add more, though, because I love lots of raisins)

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Stir in oatmeal and raisins, using a spatula or wooden spoon. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

Heat oven to 350˚F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets.

Bake 8-11 minutes or until light golden brown, depending upon if you like chewy or crunchy cookies. Cool one minute on baking sheets then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Taste-testing a warm one is perfectly acceptable!

Bon appétit, mes amis et mes amies! Keep in touch with your friends and loved ones. Even if we can’t hug (and that’s tough on this self-proclaimed extrovert) and are minding the 6-foot social distancing rule, we can still reach out to each other. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let’s lean on each other. And wash your hands! Lavez-vous les mains!

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