Be Careful of Loaded Questions

This morning, I was teaching a kindergarten reading group of four adorable students. We all sat on the rug in the corner of the classroom. As we previewed the book we were about to read, one of the students commented on the pictures.

“Mrs. McGowan, this lady looks like you when you were a young lady.”

In fact, the drawing bore some resemblance. She had brown hair and brown eyes, just like me.

The other students all shook their heads in agreement, indicating that I did in fact look like the lady in the book.

Playfully, I replied, “Are you saying that I am not a young lady?”

“No. You are now an old woman.”

This student’s honesty had me chuckling inside, but I couldn’t help but be slightly offended. I am old enough to be his grandmother, but the amount of money that I spend on hair color should take away the appearance of a few years. Right?

Determined to change his mind, I tried to persuade him that I was not an old woman. Thinking quickly, I said,

“Do you really think I am an old woman? How many old women do you know that can sit like this on a rug with you?

“Just one!”

The moral of the story is…

Always be careful of loaded questions!


No Regrets

I am not going to lie. I woke up this morning with a stinging feeling of regret. You know that feeling. The one that finds you repeatedly questioning (with disappointment) your decision to do or not to do something.
Usually my regretful decisions include food, but this time my regret was not for eating the cheeseburger last night at the school fundraiser. That was delicious and worth every calorie. No regrets here on that one!

My regret is around the commitment I made again to join the Slice of Life writing challenge. Why do I do these things to myself? It’s not like I don’t have plenty of other things to do. Seriously…what was I thinking?

Okay, enough with the rhetorical questions. I know what I was thinking. I was thinking that I love writing, but I never do it anymore because other things in life have taken precedence. By deciding to participate in this challenge, I will now need to push myself to find the time every day to do something that I absolutely enjoy. So, whether I like it or not, I am back to share 31 days of stories with you because I don’t want to regret the decision not to do the writing challenge.

What do you think about regret? Have you ever regretted something? Was it something you decided to do or not to do? 

My SimpLISTic Life

My family is a list family.  We make lists for everything from groceries to household jobs. I think it is satisfying to be able to cross something off a list.  It is a sense of accomplishment!

But, not everyone in my family loves the lists the same way I do.  So, I’ve had to be creative over the years.  

For my husband, I found this list on Amazon

Every Saturday morning, I wake up, make a cup of coffee and begin filling out this list under the tasks, appointments, people to contact and errands column.  Then, I leave it on the kitchen island and go about my business.  When he emerges from his evening slumber, he is greeted with his Adulting To-Do List.  

My husband is a great sport when it comes to completing the list.  He checks off each item as he finishes it.  He also marks off the checklist section indicating to me if he “wore pants” today and “didn’t set anything on fire.”  His mood and how he “adulted like” are usually colored in for me to review too.  

For my children, I had to offer choice for their “To-Do List”.  If I made a list like my husband’s for them, they would just moan.  So, enter the “You Pick Two” list.  (The title credit goes to Panera Bread …the original menu choice offerer.) 

I would write down 8 household cleaning jobs that needed to be done.  The first one awake got to write his/her name next to the two that they wanted to complete.  Then, the second one would choose. My husband and I would put our names on the remaining jobs.  

My son is a hockey player, so he tended to be up and out early on most weekend days. This meant that he was usually able to pick first.  My daughter would accuse him of taking the “easier” jobs and it became somewhat of a competition in our family.

I honestly didn’t care who did what job, just as long as they were getting done.  The fact that my kids were arguing about who would empty the trash or clean a toilet just made it that more interesting!

Menu lists are also a part of my list making routine.  I list what we will be eating for each meal during the week.  This list is done on paper and can be found hung in my kitchen.  We make this list based on food that we have already in our home or recipes that we would like to make.  We don’t always stick to the exact menu, but it serves as a guide to help eliminate the “what should we make for dinner” question.

Another list that I complete on a weekly basis is a grocery/household items list.  I can never remember what I need when it is time to go to the store.  For years, I would write down what we needed as soon as we ran out on a pad of paper, but recently we began using an app on our phones.  This way, we always have the list with us when we go to the store.

I also keep a Christmas card list, a monthly budget list and writing ideas list.  On Amazon, I have a wishlist.  

One list that I need to physically write down is my Bucket List.  I will say places that I would like to visit or things I would like to do, but have not written them down yet. I guess it is time for me to begin writing that list too!

Do you use lists to help you too?  What kinds of lists have you tried over the years?  What is on your bucket list?

It’s March the Last!

This morning, I was conducting an online meeting with my Kindergarten students.  As a part of our daily morning meeting routine, we figure out the date.  After I highlighted the number “31”, I asked my students if someone could tell me what today’s date was.  One student, very excited that it was her father’s birthday, raised her hand.  Figuring she most likely knew the date, I chose her.  She confidently replied, “It is March the last!”

Well, she was not wrong.  I am sure her father told her that his birthday is on the last day in March. To her, today is “March the last.”

But her father’s birthday is not the only “last” she is experiencing today. It was also our class’s last fully remote day as all of the children will begin full-time in person school on Monday.  We have been counting down the days to this much anticipated occasion.  

Then I personally began to think more about her claim.

It is my last week as a hybrid teacher, who teaches fully remote on Wednesdays.

It is the last day of the 10,000 step fitness challenge that I have been competing in this month. I sliced about this challenge earlier in the  month. I am proud to report that I hit the 10K step mark 25/31 days.  (Technically I hit it 26 days, but I left my Fitbit at home charging on one day, so I was unable to track it. But whatever!) I am competing for skin care products, which is almost as motivating as ice cream. I will find out tomorrow if I had the  most days, but honestly it doesn’t matter.  I was able to shed 5 pounds of winter fat and I feel better for being more active.  To me, I am already a winner!

And…it is the last day of the Slice of Life  Writing Challenge.  I was able to write every day for 31 straight days, an accomplishment that rivals my walking goal.  I managed to comment on at least three posts almost every day.  One day, I participated in a virtual wine tasting in the evening and completely forgot to comment.  Oops!

But with every end, there comes a new beginning: 

  • Tomorrow will be April 1st and I will be told about 100 times that I have a spider on my head. 
  • My Kindergarten class will be all together for the first time this school year and I will begin teaching to just in-person students again.
  • I will start a new fitness challenge that involves drinking more water, which means more than one trip to the bathroom a day!
  • My writing hobby will continue on in the form of the Slice of Life Tuesdays.  Instead of writing daily, I will commit to post once a week to the same online community.   I look forward to reading the stories of fellow teachers who write.  There are so many talented people in this community and I hope to learn and grow as a writer with their modeling and support.

So, “Happy March the Last” everyone.  Cheers to new beginnings.

Short and sweet…Go Gamecocks

My new favorite pastime is watching Women’s College Basketball. My hobby began last year, but unfortunately, COVID cancelled the tournament so this year is my first time watching it all the way through. And, what a tournament it has been!
I meant to write today’s slice last night, but I was up late watching games. I am scrambling to write tonight, because there are more games on. Not only that, my favorite team is playing for a chance to play in the Final Four.
So, I am keeping it short and sweet….Go Gamecocks!

It’s Mommy and Daddy

For my readers who may not know me personally, I need you to know something to help you better understand today’s story. 

My husband and I are a comedy act together.  We spend our days trying to outsmart the other with our quick wit.  We find humor in self-deprecation, especially when it involves the both of us. This keep us entertained and in love!

So, the other day when we went to visit our daughter at her city apartment building, my husband rang the buzzer to let us in.  I  anticipated that he was going to say something humorous to try to make her laugh, so I my fast thinking skills were activated.

He did not disappoint me.  When the automated voice said to state your name, he replied with his male voice, “Mommy.”  

I quickly added, “and Daddy!”

My daughter laughed and buzzed us into her building.  

But, what neither my husband nor I knew at the time, was that her boyfriend also received a phone call alerting him to the arrival of “Mommy and Daddy.” He was at work at the time, in a lab at a prominent nearby university.  Unable to answer on his phone, he took the call on his Apple watch…on speaker phone.  Everyone around him heard our misgendered voices saying, “It’s Mommy and Daddy!”

One very confused co-worker asked him if he was receiving a call for “adult dirty conversations”  (He actually used another term, but I am trying to keep this post G-rated.)

Her boyfriend completely forgot that we were coming to visit, so he was baffled beyond measure.  He knew it wasn’t a solicitation, but he had no idea who “Mommy and Daddy” were.  So, the befuddled boyfriend called up my daughter to ask what the heck was going on. She quickly explained the situation to him and he laughed at our immature humor.

After that, my husband, daughter and I all had a good chuckle when we pictured him trying to convince his co-worker that “Mommy and Daddy” are his girlfriend’s wisecracker parents.  

Fortunately, her boyfriend has a sense of humor too. Although he may think twice now before answering his phone on speaker!


Happy Hip-iversary!

Caitlin in the Pre-op Clinic waiting room at Boston Children’s Hospital

Author’s Note…

Ten years ago today my daughter, Caitlin had a total hip replacement at the age of 14.

During a two-year span prior to her THR, she underwent many surgeries and tests to determine why she lost the blood supply to her left hip.  The ultimate diagnosis was idiopathic osteonecrosis. A total hip replacement was the only viable option.

In 2011, in order to keep family and friends up to date with her medical saga, I started my first “blog” on  Today’s “slice of life” is excerpts from her page during her stay at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Sorry…it’s long!

Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — March 28, 2011

Caitlin is now in her surgery, which should last for about 4 hours.  She was a bit anxious to go into surgery, especially when she found out that I wasn’t going with her.  After a tearful good-bye, she was pleasantly surprised by a visit by Auntie Jen in the OR.  Luckily for Caitlin, she was able to stay with Caitlin until she fell asleep.  According to Auntie Jen, she was talking about the beach as she drifted off to sleep.

Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — March 28, 2011

Caitlin is now out of surgery.  The surgeon says that it was a success!  We will be going into the PACU soon to see her. 

Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — March 28, 2011

The Pros and Cons of a Total Hip Replacement…

We are now settled into our room on the 10th floor.  Caitlin is doing very well all things considered.  I think the pain medicine is more than doing the trick as Caitlin is providing comedic relief for us and the staff here with her brutal honesty.  She has managed to tell the nurse that she is “amazing” for providing her with a foam pillow for her backside, accuse me and Jim of “abandoning her” when she went into surgery and call her brother just to tell him that she loves him! 

We also heard the pros and cons of having a “hip replacement”.  Some pros include “different pain, a new hip and the ability to wiggle her toes”.  The cons include “awful pain, lying in a stupid bed all day in a stupid Johnny and butt pain.” Not to mention, “her stomach is rumbling and she can only eat ice chips, her throat is dry, she can’t get up to go to the bathroom and she has to go pee automatically (catheter)!”

Fortunately for all, she is sleeping peacefully now.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring a few more pros and a lot less cons! 

Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — March 29, 2011

Out with the old…In with the new

Day Two with a new hip!

After a busy morning of OT (brushing her teeth) and PT (moving her leg with support), Caitlin was having some difficulty with pain, and nausea.  Some adjustments to her medications seemed to do the trick and she was able to get washed up this afternoon and enjoy several catnaps.  I use the term “catnap” loosely though.   Each time she wakes up, she requests a drink because as she says, “My tongue feels like a cat’s tongue, all dry and scratchy”.  She has also awoken from her slumber to ask me if I was able to get my roots done (of course the answer is yes!), if I am wearing my dog tags (my hospital badge) and if those people were going to stand by her bed and watch her all day?(??? It was just me and Jim in the room!)  The answer is…yes, she is on a Morphine drip.

We have put on an x-ray on someone’s hip replacement that we found on the internet so you can see what her new hip may look like.  Caitlin’s new hip has a ceramic socket and metal ball.  We hope to be able to see her x-rays at some point this week. 

Please keep posting on this site.  Caitlin says reading people’s comments are the best part of her day!

Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — March 30, 2011

Day 3…. Thank Goodness for Barbecue Sauce and Milk Duds!

Today was a big day for Caitlin.  In PT, she was able to get out of bed and sit in a chair for a while.  She has also switched to oral pain medication.  For dinner, she was able to keep down some chicken fingers and fries with barbecue sauce.  I knew if I ordered something with BBQ sauce, I could get her to eat!

We are so lucky to have a family who continue to love and support us so much!  Auntie Jen stopped by and visited with us on her break.  Uncle Sean, Uncle Kevin, Auntie Jenny, Colleen, Uncle Dave, Nana Bruce, Auntie Heather and Kristina also came to visit.  It was a great distraction for us tonight and we really enjoyed the company.  Caitlin Skyped her brother before he went to bed.  He is coming in to see her tomorrow afternoon.  Although they won’t admit it, they have really missed each other.

Thanks for checking in on Caitlin and an extra big “thanks” to the family member (Jenny?) who brought the Milk Duds.  I am about to break into them now…it is the perfect late night hospital snack!

Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — March 31, 2011

Hello Everybody!

I am warning you that my entries are definitely not as good or amazing as my mom’s but I wanted to do an entry because I believe we need to spice it up today:]

This morning I was feeling very nauseous and felt uncomfortable but one I got some magical non-nausea medication from my lovely nurses, I felt like a QUEEN. They care so much about me. The amazing thing is that I was able to pass half of the P.T. requirements in just a little under 1 hour!  I set a new record for myself. I will be heading off to P.T. in a few minutes and if I pass that then I will definitely know I’m ON THE RIGHT TRACK TO RECOVERING AGAIN!!!!            

My days are full of dreams and laziness. At lunch time today, Marcia McGee came to visit and gave me a huge bear that my church family has given to me.  It is amazing and I love it. Thanks for everyone’s continuous prayers for me. But I would also like you to pray for my cousin Rosie who has had a terrible skiing accident.

I have to go to P.T. now so I’ll let you all know how the outcome goes…

I have just gotten back from P.T. and I PASSED!!!!! It is totally awesome because I could be heading on home tomorrow, sooner than expected!

Thanks again!


Caitlin 🙂

Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — April 1, 2011

Day 5…We’re still here!

It looks like tonight will be our last night here in the hospital.  If all goes as planned, Caitlin will be able to go home sometime tomorrow. 

Today’s highlights included OT where she learned how to dress herself with the precautions that she has in place and a shower!  It was so nice for her to be able to get washed up and have her hair shampooed.  It only took two conditioner applications to get all of the bed snarls out.  Thank goodness we braided her hair before her surgery otherwise it would have been an easy 3 or 4 rounds of conditioner.

We have had some lovely company over the last two days.  Yesterday, Caitlin’s friend Sophie came to visit with her mother. Susan and Heather also came to spend some time with us.  Today, Lee and Auntie Jen stopped by for an afternoon visit and Ryan, Auntie Heather, Kristina and Nana Bruce came to spend some time with us tonight. 

It is hard to believe that this is probably my last night staying at Children’s Hospital.  On our last two visits, I knew that I would be coming back at some point.  Tonight, I am pretty sure that this is it.  When Caitlin gets her next Total Hip Replacement, she could be married!!  Worse yet, I could be a grandmother by then!  If I can’t look forward to staying at the hospital with her again, I guess I can look forward to taking care of her kids.

Next post…from home (hopefully!!)

 Journal Entry by Julie McGowan — April 2, 2011

We’re home!!

MicroPython — OTA Updates and GitHub, a match made in heaven | by Ronald  Dehuysser | Medium

Not found on…

September 2019

Caitlin’s healthcare experiences greatly resonates with her and inspires her to enter a career focused on supporting children and families in healthcare settings. Caitlin begins graduate school at Boston University to become a Child Life Specialist.

“In both healthcare and community settings, Certified Child Life Specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. They provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain.” – Association of Child Life Professionals –

January 25, 2021

Caitlin graduates with a Master’s degree in Child Life and Family Centered Care. She accepts a full time Child Life position at Boston Children’s Hospital in the Pre-Op Clinic (yes – the same clinic where the above picture was taken many years ago!) and in the Phlebotomy Outpatient Lab. Today, she begins her career supporting children and families who are scheduled for surgeries with subsequent hospitalizations, as well as children and families who have blood draw appointments.

March 27, 2021

Caitlin passes the Child Life Certification Exam and becomes a Certified Child Life Specialist, ten years after receiving her total hip replacement.

Spring Fever

Most Fridays during the school year, I work late. I like to have everything in place and ready to go for Monday morning before I leave for the weekend. I am usually the last car to leave the lot.

But today, I developed spring fever and had to leave work about an hour and half earlier than I typically do.

How do I know that I definitely have spring fever? I have all of the symptoms.

Spring Fever Cartoons About School (Page 3) -

I let my students eat snack outside today and gave them an extra recess.

I was feeling restless.

I was yawning.

My mind was distracted. I couldn’t focus on anything I needed to do. It was hard for me to sit down and concentrate on planning lessons for next Tuesday. I kept getting out of my seat to go and clean something.

My body was filled with excitement. I was looking forward to being outside in the warm sunshine on a walk with my husband and dog.

My mood was happier than usual.

So, in order to treat my illness and take care of myself, I turned off my computer. I left a pile of papers on my desk and I walked right out the door.

I think spring fever must be contagious, because all of my colleagues had gone home early too.

Spring Fever Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStock


As I wait, I watch.

It makes the time go by.

I ponder why each person is here.

Are they here to support a  family member or friend?

Are they on a break from work?

Are they a patient?

It is a Sociology study.

Different genders, races, ethnicities and ages brought together at this exact moment in time.

Some stare into space as if in a trance.

Others bury their faces in their phones.

A man who closely resembles Stephen King reads a novel.

Another man types furiously on his laptop.

A few women are eating.

One woman is asleep.

Masks cover their faces, but I feel as if I can see their thoughts.








Employees chat with each other at the desk, but the people in the chairs are silent.

One by one they leave.

On to wherever it is that brought them into this building.

For them, the waiting has ended.

Encouraging Words From A Six-Year-Old

“I will persevere and do my best even when I need help. I still am happy when I make a mistake. I do not quit.”

Our school motto is:

Have no fear…Mulready Cougars persevere! This student wrote me a note and left it on my desk. It makes me so proud to see my student not only learning the motto, but demonstrating an understanding of what it means.

Not only that, but I think we can all benefit once in a while from her growth mindset, don’t you?