Every year, I face the difficult task of choosing only ten books from the many I’ve read to go on this list. I think this year was the hardest so far, as I read so many great books. But, here we go. I’ve included purchase links in case one grabs your attention.
This month we have 11 awesome writers on tour, showcasing their writing ability via short snippets of their never-before-seen written works of art. Each day, one author will be profiled on multiple blogs until the next day, when it will be another author’s turn to shine in our spotlight.
We invite you to check out each piece, no matter which blog you find them on, and then let the author know what you thought of their work via the comments sections. After enjoying the piece, we ask that you visit the author’s RWISA Profile Page here on the RWISA site, where you will find more of their work to enjoy.
Today’s featured author is Heather M. Kindt!
The Insect Incident
By: Heather Kindt
“Good morning, class.” Josie smiled, but her heart beat out of her chest. “Today, we’re going to learn about insects.”
Twenty first graders erupted into a volcano of chatter, sitting crisscross on the floor in front of her.
Mrs. Randall, the principal, sat primly in the rear of the classroom, scribbling something down on a piece of paper. Had Josie done something wrong or was her boss acknowledging her use of a learning target?
While she normally allowed her students to express their excitement, this was Josie’s first formal observation, and she wanted to make a good impression.
She held her hands above the students. “Shhh… I know you all want to see the insects, but we need to learn a couple of things about them first.”
Josie had spent five hours of her Saturday setting up the butterfly enclosures, carefully attaching the chrysalis pods to the top of the netting. Her teammate, Ms. Barker, had been teaching for twenty-five years. She warned Josie about Mrs. Randall’s ability to put first-year teachers through boot camp. Many had left the profession in tears.
Taking in a deep breath, Josie uncovered the poster she created on the floor of her apartment the week before. It detailed the life cycle of a butterfly—a perfect circle on the poster board. She had bought a new package of markers to create the masterpiece.
The students resumed their chatter when they realized they’d be learning about butterflies. Josie glanced at the clock and back at Mrs. Randall. Her pen moved quickly across the paper on the clipboard.
“Right.” Josie smiled at her students. “I need your attention up here. A butterfly is a magnificent creature. It goes from an egg, to a caterpillar, to a chrysalis…”
“Miss Jackson! Miss Jackson! What’s a cri—so—lis?” Hunter waved his hand in the air, sitting up on his knees. He was prone to asking questions without being called on.
“Great question, Hunter.” She paused, looking back at the principal. “Please remember to wait until you’re called on next time. A chrysalis is the place in the butterfly’s life cycle where the magic happens.”
There were a bunch of oohs and aahs from the students.
Josie crouched down to their level and used a quiet voice, as if she were telling them the mysteries of the universe. “Within the chrysalis, the caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly.”
“How?” Hunter piped in again.
“It’s God, dummy.” Elizabeth glared at Hunter. “My mommy told me that’s how babies are born, too.”
Josie stood back up. She expected to see a horrified look on Mrs. Randall’s face, but instead there was a smirk. The old devil wanted to see how the newbie was going to talk herself out of this situation.
Straightening her back, hands on her hips, Josie drew in another deep breath. “It’s a miracle of nature, Hunter. And so are babies, Elizabeth.” To divert any further questions, she hurried over to the counter to the enclosures. “We are going to care for our butterflies until they are ready to be free.” Josie lifted one of the habitats and carried it to the front of the class. She removed the covering. Two butterflies, that hadn’t been there on Saturday, clung to the apple slices she’d placed on the bottom.
Josie pointed out the chrysalis attached to the top of the enclosure. “A butterfly is still growing and changing inside.”
“One of the chrysalises died!” Rachel pointed to a chrysalis on the floor of the cage.
Josie bit into her lip. What was she supposed to do? Ms. Barker had said they needed to be attached to the top to form correctly. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix it.”
Inside one of her cabinets, Josie found a hot glue gun. She plugged it in to let it heat while the students observed the butterflies. If she fixed the chrysalis, she was sure to get high scores on her observations. But what if she took the students outside to set one of the live insects free? That was sure to put an exclamation point on a perfect lesson.
She tapped her fingernail on the counter, waiting for the gun to heat. The children crowded around the butterflies, pushing and shoving, trying to get a better look. Josie unplugged the gun and crossed the room to crouch beside the enclosure.
“Move back, I’ve got a hot glue gun.” She stuck her hands through the netting, careful not to release the two butterflies. Applying a dot of glue to the top of the cage, she reached down and pinched the chrysalis between her fingers then held the tip of it in the glue.
Twenty pairs of eyes watched in awe and it was quiet at last.
In the hushed atmosphere of her first-grade classroom, Josie dared to speak. “Do you think we should release one of the butterflies?”
“Yes!” the students called out in union.
Josie glanced back at Mrs. Randall feeling elated with her performance, expecting to see joy on the principal’s face. Instead, the woman hid all emotion, her lips set in a straight line. Josie would show her. This was going to be her magnum opus—her masterpiece.
Skipping and jumping, the students herded out the side door to the playground. It was a beautiful fall day and Ms. Barker’s class was out for recess. The more the merrier, thought Josie. She was elated to show, not only the principal, but her teammate what she was capable of—providing the students with learning, joy, and excitement.
Seeing Josie carrying the enclosure, many of the first graders stopped what they were doing to witness the culminating moment of her lesson.
“This butterfly will continue its life, by finding a mate, laying eggs, and starting the circle again.” She had to speak loudly over one of the lunch bells.
Mrs. Randall sat at one of the picnic tables; her pen never seemed to stop.
“What shall we call her, class?”
Many hands shot up.
“Betsy—Rosie—Bumblebee—Dora—Emily—Kate.” The list went on and on.
“I think we should name our butterfly, Ann.” Josie put on a huge smile and looked directly at Mrs. Randall. “After our principal.”
The children cheered. What a perfect ending.
Josie reached into the enclosure, coaxing one of the butterflies to the opening. It flitted to the outside of the netting then took flight above us. Tears threatened to fill Josie’s eyes with the beauty of the apex of her lesson.
But just when she was ready to take a bow, a bird swooped down from above and swallowed the butterfly whole. The wretched creature flew off with her A+ lesson in its mouth.
Students were reduced to tears around her. Ann was dead.
Knowing the perfect lesson was reduced to a pile of bird poop, Josie managed to calm the students down. She gave Mrs. Randall a half-smile and said, “Tomorrow, we’ll learn about insect adaptations.”
Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Profile on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.
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RWISA Author, Heather Kindt joins me here today to share her post for the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! I hope you enjoy!
By: Heather Kindt
Have you ever lost someone? The pain is unimaginable, ripping through you like an express train. But what if you lost that person again and again? The agony of the loss knocks you off your feet until you’re numb. That’s what it’s like when you lose someone to dementia.
My mom was my best friend.
She was my shoulder to cry on, and I told her everything. On summer mornings, she’d lie in bed thinking, so I’d hop in next to her and we’d talk about everything or nothing at all. She was there to hold me when I lost my first love and to celebrate with me when I found my last. We spent an entire summer planning my wedding and finding ways to keep the costs within my measly teacher salary. Rummaging through bargain bins at the Christmas Tree Shop, we found the perfect, gold-trimmed ribbon to don the pews at the church.
After I was married, I moved to Colorado and being two thousand miles apart put a dent in both of our souls. But, she was there when my babies were born, helping me figure out the tasks of new mother for the few weeks she was able to be away from home. She was always there, even if it had to be over the telephone wires.
Until she wasn’t.
It started off slowly—spoiled milk in the refrigerator, aluminum foil in the microwave, and accusing my uncle of leaving tiny, recording devices under her couch. She’s getting forgetful with age…paranoid. That’s what I told myself.
But then things weren’t so small. When my mom and dad finally moved to Colorado, she and my brother took separate cars to church one night. Matt followed my mom back to their house but instead of turning down their road, my mom went straight. I received the phone call from Matt frantic, explaining the situation.
“Why didn’t you follow her?” I thought it was a reasonable question.
“I don’t know?”
I lived an hour and a half away, and it was eight o’clock at night. Pulling on my coat, I waited by the phone. There was no way I’d be able to find my mom in a city at night, though I’d search all night if I had to. Before leaving out the door, I called Matt one last time. Why wasn’t he searching?
A pair of headlights turned up our driveway. Impossible. We lived in a housing development in the country littered with dirt roads and deer. I rushed down the stairs to greet my mother. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her whole body shook as she melted into my arms.
“He left me,” she sobbed. “I found a road that I recognized that went to your house, and I kept going.”
I wrapped her in a blanket and lay next to her on the bed in the spare room, her body heaving as she fell asleep.
As time went on, the incidents became more frequent. My parents moved back to New Hampshire because Dad couldn’t handle the altitude. My sister insisted they live in a retirement community. My mom didn’t like the price tag, so six months later she found an apartment in the town I grew up in. I was their telephone caregiver, calling every day on my way to work.
That summer when we visited, it was becoming more and more apparent that Mom couldn’t care for Dad, who was eighteen years her senior. He fell a couple of times, and she called the ambulance because she couldn’t lift him. Being there, I learned it was because he was malnourished and dehydrated. A local independent living facility provided them with at least two meals a day, and they could make friends. It worked for a while. Mom accused the maids of stealing her things, but it was her paranoia setting in again.
But then Dad got sick.
My mom insisted on coming to live with us. It was always how I imagined things would be. When Dad passed away, Mom would come live with us and help me with my children. But Dad wasn’t gone yet.
We moved her out to Colorado, and she lived with us. Frequent plane trips to New Hampshire drained my bank account. She missed him and in less than a year she wanted to move back. Things were different now. We hid her car keys, we arranged for her to go to a local senior center while we were at work, and she became severely combative.
For three years, my mother lived with us as I lost her day after day. At times, it felt like she ripped my heart out and stomped on it. I lashed out at her in my own frustration one day when she helped me clean out a closet. I missed our conversations, our comradeship and the love we’d always shared. It was as if someone reached down to Earth, snatched my mother and replaced her with a stranger. After three years, my husband and I made the decision to place her in a nursing home on a memory care unit.
I lost her again.
It was the most difficult thing I’ve done in my entire life, but I had to do it for her safety. Mom would get angry with me for no reason at all and storm out of the house. My husband followed her in the car until he could coax her inside. Her leaving also saved our marriage. The strain and stress it put on us those three years isn’t something I would want anyone to go through.
Have you ever lost someone? I lose my mom everyday, but it’s not as painful now. When you lose someone to dementia, at least for me, it’s like you’re going through the pain of losing someone suddenly again and again over many years. At some point, the pain numbs because it has to, or the stress will eat you alive. I love my mother, but the disease has stolen precious years of her life. It’s in the small glimmers of her spirit—a smile, an mischievous eye aimed at my husband, a hug from recognition—that I find hope that someday we can be together fully again.
Please take a moment to visit Heather Kindt’s RWISA Author Page!
Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site. For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA”RISE-UP” Blog Tour page! Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well. Thank you, and good luck!
Today I’m traveling. Well, not literally, but RWISA author, Heather Kindt, has featured me in an interview on her blog site today. I’d be thrilled if you’d stop by and leave a comment!
Heather is the first graduate student from RWISA University! Congrats to her!
I’ve closed comments here and hope that you’ll visit her site and read my interview! Thank you!