Monthly Archives: March 2017

Three Years Later


#sol17- Day 31/31- March 31, 2017

As you know, today is the last day of the Slice of Life Challenge-whether it was your first year or your tenth, I am sure that you have grown as a writer this month. I did not think I would write a reflection for a last slice, but my slices have a way of just showing up on my computer screen (#pantser) , so here I am.

This I Believe (after a NPR podcast a friend just shared with me helped to change my format)

This year I only wrote one poem (or maybe not even one)- in past years I wrote more poetry. I did not vary my slices enough this year- I tend to write like a reporter-boring!

This year I did not make an idea list, but I saw that several people did and I saved them in case I ever needed an idea- turns out I never looked at them.

This year I was one of the welcome wagon commenters, as I was last year- I was lucky enough to have such a varied group to follow- several of whom blogged every day:)

It was great fun (and often very inspirational) to slice with my third graders and a few former students. Some of them are going to keep slicing.

It was great to have some colleagues try it with their classes for the first time.

I did not comment on as many slices as I read and I feel badly about that, as I know how important comments are.

I know from past experience that I will not feel like I suddenly have more free time tomorrow, just like I know that next March I will magically find time to squeeze the chaos in again.

There are a lot of amazing writers in our community- I know in the future I will read books and say, “I remember reading her/his slices.”

What starts out feeling like a chore, becomes a habit, and I have to try to maintain the momentum and write more regularly.

I will see you here next Tuesday.

I Don’t Want to Write a Poem Today!


#sol17- Day 30/30- March 30, 2017

One of the things I struggle with in teaching is when kids “have to” do something. I LOVE the TC units of reading and writing and know they allow for lots of student choice, but somehow kids yearn for even more choice at times. I reconcile this in my own head by trying to have “Free Choice Friday” where students can have class time to read or write the genre of their choice.

Today was Thursday and D. said, “I don’t want to write a poem today, I just want to write a story.”

We talked briefly about what he saw as the differences and then I suddenly said, “It sounds like you have a beginning of a poem.” We had just finished a mini lesson focusing on rhythm and repetition, which had included some “back and forth”. I suggested he could start with “I don’t want to…, then go on to I just want to” and then see what came next. He liked this idea and then started brainstorming all the things he didn’t want to do, but what he’d rather do instead.

A few minutes into his drafting his friend came over to remind him that they had started a poem in two languages that they wanted to finish. They huddled together drafting in English, then Russian and Serbian.

When writing time was over and I called them to the carpet D. was the last one to come. “I just have three more words I want to write,” he said.

Sometimes getting started is the hardest part and for him, it was then hard to stop.

Tomorrow is Friday and there will be some time for Free Choice Friday. Who knows what he will write.

Last Slicer Lunch


#sol17- Day 29/31- March 29, 2017

Our elementary campus runs on a 6-day rotating schedule (although we only have 5 days of school a week), so when I decided to do a weekly lunch with my third grade slicers I went for “Day 2” rather that a day of the week, so I would not have to reschedule when I have duty.  Today was our last slicer lunch. The thrill of slicer lunch is that they bring their lunch to the classroom and we talk writing. We have had as many as all students there to a low of 12/19 of the students attend. Today we reflected on the challenge and contributed to the class slicing share that Kathleen Sokolowski is putting together. They wanted to know if they could keep slicing, and I answered, “Of course!”

Today we reflected on the challenge and contributed to the class slicing share that Kathleen Sokolowski is putting together. They wanted to know if they could keep slicing, and I answered, “Of course!”

I showed them a few former students who still slice occasionally and are nearing their 100th slice. They know that I slice on Tuesdays throughout the year and asked if they could too. “Of course you can, but there is no special link up page, ” I answered. One quick thinking student suggested, “When you post your blog you could add a link to ours.”

One quick thinking student suggested, “When you post your blog you could add a link to ours.” I agreed that I would if they remind me. They also remarked that they could send their blog out to everyone they know. These kids have developed a taste for writing knowing that they have a real audience. It is funny because not as many kids have blogged as regularly as I would have guessed, but still, they like sharing their voice and what more could I ask for? I love our writing community.

*** Here is the link to our SOL blog.




#sol17- Day 28/31- March 28, 2017

At the start of January, my friend Linnea visited Thailand with her sister. There they met a kind man, who happens to be a Buddhist monk, who has set up a training program for 26 young woment to train as nurse assistants each year. These women come from difficult backgrounds and knowing the odds, he believes that many of them otherwise would have ended up being trafficked. Linnea was so moved by her visit with the women that she decided she wanted to make a change. After they leave his place they move to a hospital for a two year internship, but for the first month they receive no salary. Linnea decided to start a fund so that they could have at least one week’s wage ($30) to get their start. Of course others of us were moved to help in our own small way. I had leftover Thai baht from my last trip there that I donated happily. Linnea is going to attend their graduation ceremony later this week and will present them each with a handwritten card containing the graduation gifts. Tonight I wrote my card and I know that words can not truly express how brave these women are, but I tried. “Sun” will get her card and know that a stranger cared.


Today I am grateful that Linnea shared the great opportunity she saw to help some brave women have a better start to their new careers.

Measuring Time


#sol17- Day 27/31- March 27, 2017

Looking at the blurb at the start of today’s  SOL call I was struck by how we measure time.

27 out of 31 days feels like a LOT of time for the SOL challenge, yet a colleague just remarked how quickly her 2-month maternity leave has gone by and how grateful she is that she has decided to take 2 1/2 more months unpaid leave to give her a total of 6 months of leave (including summer). That seems like such a short time when I consider I took “off” 7 years when my children were young.

We are starting our last quarter at school tomorrow (although not mathematically, because this last quarter is much longer). It has hard to believe how quickly the year is going by, yet it feels like forever ago that I was in the US.

I am waiting to hear if I got into Teachers College this summer and it feels like I have been waiting forever, but realistically I know it has only been just over 4 weeks. It will be just about the same length of time longer until my older son comes to visit- which he says is coming up soon, so he wants to start planning.

I know my third graders feel this same fuzziness in measuring time- waiting for things to happen seems to depend on how eagerly we anticipate it. I don’t know about them, but I can’t wait to see them again tomorrow- Spring Break was great, but I missed them!

Easy to Know Me


#sol17- Day 26/31- March 26, 2017

I had a whole different post written when I got the text… “There’s a great book sale on at x, super good discounts.” I tell you what, this is someone who knows how to get me interested in shopping! So I already book shopped yesterday, but you can be sure that as soon as this thunderstorm ends I will walk on over and check it out. To know me at all is to know the few things that will always make me smile- and one of them is books (now books on sale is a bonus!). Nobody can accuse me of being a person of mystery- you have your vices and I have mine.

Easing Back to Routines


#sol17- Day 25/31- March 25, 2017

Today was my day to ease into reality. I arrived back yesterday afternoon. After beginning to unpack I threw a load of laundry in and read and watched another episode of Downton Abbey before making a move. Once it was afternoon, I could feel a familiar pull- time to check out the book store. I came away with nine books and one pen. Three books are more copies of books I already own, so partners can read books together, three are from a series I only had one of, and three are “stories around the world” versions of fairy tales, so that each book contains three or four versions of the same fairy tale, each from a different country. Next week we finish our character book club unit and all students should have finished their last book club book over break (hmm, will they really have done that…?), so I thought that with the remaining days they could choose any book or series in the class to read with a friend or two. The fairy tales are for the writing unit that will start in a few weeks.


I then made a visit to the store where I buy my stationery- another addiction. I wanted to buy some more pens and a few things to surprise a few of my slicers with- pens, stickies, and small notebooks.

My last stop was to start a new routine. I have started to learn a bit about essential oils and while my new electronic diffuser sits unused I decided to buy an aroma pot with small tea candles because my hotel in Luang Prabang had lit one each evening in my room and I enjoyed it. While I was there I picked up a set with rattan sticks too, that I may bring to my classroom. This new routine is my attempt at stress reduction, so I am hoping it works.

Now on to an attempt to get a bit of work done, so that I have an easier day tomorrow (trying to get in one last massage over break tomorrow). Here is to routines that soothe me and routines that help me get things done!

Living More Bravely


#sol17- Day 24/31- March 24, 2017

In choosing “brave” as my word for 2017 I knew I would be uncomfortable at times, but I felt I needed to push myself. These last five days have been an example of me trying to live more bravely. I wanted to travel over break and had no ready travel companion, so I did it alone. It is hard to believe, but at my age, this was the longest time I have been on vacation alone, ever. I love exploring new cities, but I tend toward lazy, so I also knew that alone I might not see and do as much as I should. Traveling back to KL today I feel a bit proud. Of course, I could have done and seen more, but I did push myself outside my usual comfort zone and it was okay! In fact, I am confident that I can do a solo trip again.

Choosing brave is a good reminder to me that there is always a choice and sometimes I need to remember that I can do more alone. Here’s to a peaceful few days ahead getting things done at home, with more brave ideas already swirling in my head.

Lao Cooking School


#sol17- Day 23/31- March 23, 2017

Several times while traveling I have taken a cooking course and I enjoy them as a way to learn more about local culture and cuisine, but also to meet fellow travelers.

Today I signed up to attend class at Bamboo Tree, a restaurant I had eaten at earlier in the week. There were 6 of us- a couple from Spain traveling indefinitely, a young man from Brazil, and a couple my age visiting from the UK. Our bonding experience was that we had to agree on the five dishes that we would cook for our meal.

We had many choices but with some compromises, we settled on: fried spring rolls, chicken in coconut milk soup, stuffed lemon grass, ginger fish, and banana and pineapple in coconut cream. Before we started cooking we went for a visit to a market (further outside town than the one I had explored on my own and much bigger).


While there I bought myself a bamboo basket and cover for steaming sticky rice (a long process I learned, as you have to soak the sticky rice for about 5 hours before steaming. The rice does not get cooked in water but is steamed over boiling water. I also bought two serving baskets to keep the rice from drying out. It remains to be seen if I will actually do all this work, but nice souvenirs.


We then returned to the restaurant to chop, slice, dice, and prepare our meal. The chef, Linda, was our instructor, and she taught us the basics of Lao cooking.

A few hours later as we ate our creations we were impressed with our efforts, but questioned what we would make on our own again, but I know that I have more chance, as the ingredients are easy for me to locate.


Aside from full tummies we got a cookbook and a certificate to take away to remind us of our attempt as Lao chefs. Another fun day in Luang Prabang.


Add Luang Prabang to Your Travel List!


#sol17- Day 22/31- March 22, 2017

 I am in love with this city! I woke up early (by chance, not on purpose), so caught the morning almsgiving routine by looking out from the balcony of my room. Locals (and tourists) give sticky rice and other food to the monks who are on their way to their temple for the day.


I later headed out to the morning market nearby. I was amazed at the variety of food available, as well as the other services offered (including manicures).


Alive, and leaping about. 



This poor guy was alive, but bound. 








On the street manicure. 


From there I headed to the royal palace to get some history in (no pictures allowed).

As I walked back toward my hotel I ran into the woman, Angela,  I had met on the van shuttle to my hotel the first day. She and a new acquaintance were heading to the waterfalls for the afternoon, so I quickly booked myself in too. Being there you realize how small the city really is as we saw people we recognized from walking around for a few days.




After a lovely afternoon Angela and I dropped by a French bakery for a quick snack and then she was off to do a cooking course (I will likely do another one tomorrow- we shall see).

Now it is time to look for a place for dinner. I could get used to this!