#sol18- March 20, 2018 Day 20 of 31

I have found myself feeling frustrated recently about change (and/or lack of change) and rather than just grumble I am trying to inform myself. I have read several books by Dan Pink and always find him interesting, so when I saw When-The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing talked about recently on Twitter (by several people including my future principal) it seemed like a good book to add to my (endless) to be read pile. Listening to his January interview on NPR convinced me to move it up my pile. Maybe I can help myself make change more effectively.

Then a friend mentioned Immunity to Change: How to Overcome It and Unlock Potential in Yourself and Your Organization. Hmm, this makes me wonder more about whether I am as receptive to change as I would like to think that I am.

I am definitely planning on reading When sooner and I get the feeling that it will be the kind of book that I will want to talk about with other people who have read it. This is when I really need a book club or at least a few people who will talk books with me. My Nerdy Friends Voxer group sometimes has side Voxer groups for books people really want to discuss. Every summer I also participate in #cyberpd (a fab online book study organized by Cathy Mere and Michelle Nero)- maybe there is an online way I could gather a group… when?



Counting Up Instead of Down


#sol18- March 19, 2018 Day 19 of 31

I am not usually the count down kind of person, preferring to stay in the moment and not get sucked into daydreams of the future, but Spring Break is so close, and it may be more longed for than I can recall, so today I count up all the things I do to prepare fore break (in no particular order):

  1. I started planning this break in October- a good friend (and former colleague and I agreed that we would meet in Bangkok for the EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) conference that was scheduled over our break. Knowing that I would need to be in Bangkok on Wednesday meant that the rest of break would likely be spent in Thailand too-ideally a beach!
  2. I booked a hotel (there is a cheap one near the conference site that I have stayed at before).
  3. In November I got word that my school would pay for the conference for me- yahoo!
  4. In January I found out that a good friend here also had signed up for the conference- along with 2 other mutual friends we planned to beach it for part one of break.
  5. In early February we met to plan part one of break. We did not have any real ideas- I threw out Khao Lak as a place I had heard good things about and it fit our criteria of not being too far from Bangkok (a one hour car trip from the Phuket airport which is only 1 1/2 hours from Bangkok).
  6. The four of us sat on our computers looking up hotels then found this – did you look at the pictures? Not sure what kid free means, but…we are in!
  7. Tonight I checked in for all my flights and will print the itineraries in the morning.
  8. I have already loaded up my Kindle (and will charge it before I go).
  9. Because we leave for the airport straight after school on Friday I will pack on Thursday (easier in hot climes and with a packing list on my phone). Before then I must also get some Thai baht, pay some bills, figure out what school work I must bring (I arrive back Sunday afternoon, so there is no escaping it). It would be a great idea to read up on the Khao Lak area too.
  10. Surely I am forgetting a few things- ideas???
  11. Counting up the things to do before break makes it all seem possible- a perfect combination of relaxation, friends, and a bit of work.
  12. Ah, break is coming fast!

Noticing Similarities and Differences- Dollar Street


#sol18- March 18, 2018 Day 18 of 31

This morning scanning Facebook I saw a friend had posted a TedTalk advertised to “See how the rest of the world lives, organized by income”. It was a fascinating 12 minutes, where a Swedish woman has a photographic database of more than 264 homes in 50+ countries organized in many different ways. Her main points were that we need perspective when comparing and that the power of data visualization helps us better understand the world. Of course “seeing” data makes it feel more real and it was interesting to see what was compared and how that impacted my thinking. She ends up by saying that the differences we imagine can be challenged and be both a “call to action and a reason to hope”.

Now I am thinking about how this visual data (and other visual data) can be used in our third grade classroom. Sometimes seeing is believing.

Order from Chaos (or Controlling What I Can and Continuing to Buy More Notebooks)


#sol18- March 17, 2018

Whenever my life starts to get crazy busy I look for ways to control what I can. Although summer seems far away when you live many thousands of miles away from family you book your summer tickets early (at least you do if you are lucky enough to work at a school that pays for a trip “home” once a year, that has not always been the case for me).

I booked my flight a week and a half ago and I am already stressing about everything that needs to get done between now and then and have already started my “things I need to do/buy while in the US” list. I am a big fan of keeping lists on my phone, then they are always with me, but since this summer has the added adventure of moving to a new city (in a new country) I decided I needed something a bit more complete…

Enter my new Kinokuniya Mossery Planner. IMG_6866.JPG

Ideally, I would have purchased something purple, but aside from the boring color scheme, it had everything else I could have wanted.



An inspiration board.



More space.



More ideas for jotting.


Values, goals, purposes.



3 Things (I want to improve, change, or achieve this year).











12 months of blank calendar pages.









It also has plenty of lined notebook pages and some squared pages too. This planner will hold special memories of this transition time and will remind me of my time in Kuala Lumpur (after all, it is even from my favorite bookstore). I know it might seem like a rationalization for yet another notebook in my collection, but…I think it will be a stress reliever too.

Today Was Very


#sol18- March 16, 2018

Today was very…

hot- we had “Track and Field Day” this morning (I know, day/morning) and while I was glad to be in the gym (not enclosed, so no ac, but still not in the sun) with the high jump it was still hot!

long- no PE class after the event meant while half my class was at World Language the other half was with me- luckily they were great

funny- kids make me smile

frustrating- found out a student is being really unkind to someone on his bus- he has so much to offer, but self control is so variable

companionable- our team eats lunch together and we had a good laugh today

rewarding- I announced the next round of March Book Madness books and hearing kids cheer for books they love melted my heart

stormy- the school day ended as perhaps the wildest thunderstorm I have ever seen started- it took off the roof of one of our art rooms and the rain poured in through the ceiling

But now it is Friday evening and I will soon be ready for bed and a quiet weekend ahead!


Baking Therapy to the Rescue


#sol18- March 15, 2018 Day 15 of 31

Today was a hard day- a very hard day in a hard week (think specials cancelled, extra duties because of absent assistant and you will have a glimmer of an idea of the day). Obligations do not always care about the day you’ve had, so I knew I had a busy night ahead, as tomorrow is my turn to supply Crunchito.

I had two leads as to where to purchase the finishing sliced almonds, so I headed to the shop of recent sighting. After wandering the narrow aisles for a few minutes- I found them! A bit of a wait in line to pay, then I was out the door. After a sweaty walk home, it was time to put the stress of the day behind me and indulge in baking therapy. The Peach Melba Shortbread Bars recipe looked pretty easy, but without a food processor it meant getting my hands messy and it turns out working the butter into the flour mixture also melted my cares away. With the soundtrack of Hamilton blaring in the background the necessary crumbly texture was achieved (twice, in separate batches as my oven can not manage two pans at the same time) and that was enough to relax me. I decided to make the bars in muffin form, so we shall see tomorrow how that works (I have a feeling the crust may be a bit thick, but…). So here I am, first batch in the oven, second batch mixed and ready, with time to slice (eat dinner, and make tomorrow’s breakfast). Baking therapy has me ready to tackle the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow is Track and Field Day in the morning- another exciting day for the students, so I know I will earn my Crunchito treat. Luckily my baking therapy has me feeling ready for an early night!



Definitely not Pinterest worthy, but…


Crunchito- How Can You Say No?


#sol18- March 14, 2018

Three years ago we got a new literacy coach, and while she has been amazing in so many ways, in addition to her literacy skills she has also spread a new tradition- Crunchito!

As soon as the new school year started she sent an email, describing this wonderful idea. She said:
“This email is an important one. It is an invitation to participate in a schoolwide chocolate lovers club that will ensure great pleasure every Friday. 
What: Crunchito was formed many moons ago by a colleague of mine at the American School of Barcelona.  The idea is that one person a week bakes or buys a special sweet treat to share with the participating colleagues on Fridays, which inevitably leads to making Fridays so much more satisfying. 
Who: Anyone may join that has a love of baking, sweets, or simply, something to look forward to on Fridays. 
Where: The designated spot for Crunchito is in the Curriculum office. 
How: If you would like to participate, please send me an email by next Friday, August 12.   I will take note of the people who would like to join and create a temporary schedule for the year of whom is required to bake and let you know the number of people participating. 
Why: Love of chocolate, community spirit, and more.”
Somehow our list was manageable because not everyone is as motivated as me by the promise of a sweet treat most Fridays. The tradition has continued since then, with the group varying a bit from year to year. Before sign up day there is some stress for some. People may ask should we really have a treat that often? (My answer is yes!) What if I am not a great baker? (Some people buy treats and there are no complaints- yummy is yummy.) What if I forget? (Some people have and a treat is just as welcome on a Monday we have learned). 
So here it is year 3 and my turn for the semester is tomorrow. I have some go-to recipes I could bake, but I hate for people to think I am a “one trick pony”, so I  wondered what I would bake. To be honest, Crunchito stresses me out, because I want people to like their treat and since I only have a chance to bake for this crew twice a year it should be good. A few weeks ago as I scanned the Washington Post headline summary email I saw a recipe that caught my eye (Peach Melba Shortbread Bars- promoted as having a buttery crust like a pie, but without the fuss). 
So, job one done– a recipe chosen. This weekend from memory I tried to buy any ingredients I would need. Raspberry preserves were easy to locate, peach a bit harder. I had butter, but when I translated the recipe into metric it turned out I needed more. So, here we are Thursday night and I scan the recipe once more- it looks easy, but wait- I did not read carefully. I need unsalted butter and sliced almonds, so back to the store I go. I decide to buy a second jar of peach preserves as well because it is hard to estimate if I have enough. Now onto almonds. I know that almonds may hide in many aisles, so I look. Organic aisle, nope. Snack aisle, only whole almonds. Baking aisle- nope. Ugh! 
Arriving home I text a few friends who seem like likely sources, after all, I still have 24 hours until baking time. Turns out, none of them has sliced almonds, so if I do not locate them tomorrow after school Crunchito will have to go without (the almonds). Then on Friday afternoon I can relax and know that I have made it through my last time making Crunchito. Having said this, I think Crunchito is something I may want to introduce at my next school if there is not something similar. 
Thanks, Heather, for promoting a love of chocolate, community spirit, and more.