Monthly Archives: February 2019

Birthday Love!


#sol19- February 26, 2019

I never make a big deal of my birthday and that is fine with me. I usually do make carrot cupcakes for my class and colleagues, but after much looking for my favorite recipe, I fear it may have been lost in the move. I have used that recipe for 25 years and have yet to taste a yummier carrot cake, so was unwilling to substitute. Sunday when I was at a favorite cafe and walked away with a delicious gingerbread cookie I had the idea that I could order cookies rather than bake-great plan!

I smiled reading messages sent from friends and received a few lovely cards and gifts (great pens and a lovely coaster with an “E” on it) from friends before school even started. A lovely student and her mom gave me a book and I happily received many birthday greetings from my class.

I was getting ready to eat lunch when a mom came down the hallway bearing a beautiful bouquet and a lunch that took my breath away! She is Korean and her daughter is in my class and knows my love of Korean food. I was treated to homemade bulgogi, kimbap, with fresh strawberries and oranges for dessert. She included a lovely card and I was felt so appreciated. At the end of the day, we enjoyed the yummy gingerbread cookies, my TA slipped me a beautiful card and is sent the class home (5-day break for them, teachers have a PD day tomorrow). As the parent who already gave me a book this morning passed me on the way to her after school activity she handed off freshly made banana bread-mmm.

Tonight I enjoyed a great Italian meal with friends and celebrated quietly. Actually way more birthday then I need, but I am so grateful to have such good friends. I have enough leftovers from the day that I can relive the memories in the days ahead. Today’s slice is way more than a slice- it is a generous serving of comfort, really feeling the love in my new home. When I try to rationalize my lost carrot cake recipe I can see it as an analogy for new ways in a new place (but I will be so happy if I find that card!).


Camping Out Phnom Penh Style


#sol19- February 19, 2019

Friday was the long awaited day- the grade 2/3 sleepover at school. Kudos to Ben who took charge of most of the organizing of the event.


In the end it was about 70 students, 8 of us teachers sleeping over (with several others helping out until dusk). After putting up their own tents on the field (a first for many of them) and setting up their “room” there was a bit of free time before we headed to the pool. Just as the sun was starting to set the lifeguards reminded us that it would soon be dark. Back to the field we trooped and after a bit more play time the hungry masses were fed (everything tastes better grilled- the kids devoured the sausages in baguettes and watermelon). Some of these families will be in for a surprise and a high food bill once these kids hit their teen years!

52372907_1216602098493787_1596851914186686464_o.jpg52281303_1216598165160847_42942341450825728_o.jpgAfter dinner it was campfire time. Karyn led us in a few songs, but it turns out these kids did not know many that we knew and were not really interested in learning. Next was storytime, but Ben had arranged it treasure hunt style, so groups had clues to follow to get to their next story. I was “Near where the chickens hang out.” Next to the chicken coop are two bamboo platforms. I quickly realized the chickens do hang out there too as I sat on mounds of dried chicken poop, oops! I read Flashlight Night- perfect for an outdoor adventure. One of the stops on the treasure hunt was for roasting marshmallows.


52595700_1216603628493634_2007772240216588288_o.jpg52123665_1216603038493693_4961197511944437760_o.jpgThen…bedtime. Of course, that did not go smoothly. One child went home even before the others went to bed- ah well. Some settled quickly but after many trips to the toilet, there were still many wide awake tents. One by one other teachers headed off to bed, while Courtney and I wandered around “shushing” and assuring students that they would eventually fall asleep. It was hot inside the tents and they were all sure that they had 101 mosquitos in their tents (and looking at some of the arms and legs they may have been right).

Some time before 1 Courtney and I went to bed, but neither of us got much sleep. I was up more than a handful of times and had kids visiting my tent to ask for the time (“2:30, Yuki.”).

Everyone made it through the night, but morning came much too quickly. After breakfast we had to take down the tents and fold them so that they would fit back in their bags- happily not too hard of a task, as we were all tired. 8:30 pickup time went off pretty quickly and then we all headed home. 4 hours off before returning to help out at the musical practice.

After my long awaited shower in the time off in between, I noticed my legs- covered in ant bites. I had noticed the stinging while I stood on the sandy area, but what a shock to see the spotted results- stinging turned to itchy and on Tuesday, as I write, the itch continues. I am wondering what I will get over sooner- the bags under my eyes from the missed sleep or the bites. Not the souvenirs I expected.


The things we teachers do!

Practicing What I Preach- Reality Check Time


#sol19- February 12, 2019

So, we are just over two months into 2019, so I thought that this week was a good time for my students to check in on some of the goals they set just before the end of 2018. Today we checked in on reading- where were they? Many realized they had met their goal and were ready to take on the next challenge, but what about me? Tonight I am reflecting on my own goals.

While I did set a reading goal on Goodreads (and I am currently ahead on that) I really feel like I need to oomph up my reading life! I am reading for several book clubs -(The Culture Map for our elementary leadership team, Atomic Habits for Colby Sharp’s online book club, and Educated¬†for our school social book club. But here’s the thing- I feel like I am really falling behind in my reading that helps me recommend books to my students, so I have to get more intentional about that (uh oh, there is my olw for 2019 calling out to me. This weekend I am due for some marathon reading time, but I will spend at least 20 minutes a day this week doing some extra reading) in my living room – Atomic Habits taught me to be really specific about the what, where and when, so it will be right after dinner for 20 minutes in my living room.) I realize as I write this I should have shared this when I spoke to my students. I did tell them I needed more reading time, but I should have shared my own specifics to help them try that too.

Later on this week we will check in on other goals, but I already know where I stand on a few of mine. Already I know I have not been writing enough. I am grateful that March is coming as I will again participate in the Slice of Life Challenge. In past years part of that challenge for me has been a break interrupting my routines and the fact that I have been supporting my students in their own challenge. This year I have no break and the student challenge has moved to April, but the school musical that I am helping with is March 22 and 23, so that will add a new layer of complexity. Whoever said challenges were easy?! Just yesterday I decided to go back to setting a 7PM alarm to remind me to write. Note it is 6:50 as I write this, so I am ahead of schedule, but last night I did not write… My goal before next Tuesday is to share the SOL Challenge with teachers at my new school and try to recruit a few new slicers. I did check back in with a teacher at my last school last night and he plans to join in again this year. I am putting together a message with some links to help others learn more about the challenge. I have already signed up to be a part of the Welcome Wagon so I know I will have some new slicers to cheer on for sure.

I am of the opinion that I should never ask my students to do anything I would not do, so this chance to check back in my goals has been a great time for me to walk the walk with my own goals too. I know I have other goals I still need to get working on, so I am glad to have this nudge push to check in-.

Striking Fear in the Hearts (and Heads) of Teachers Across the World


#sol19-February 5, 2019

Sunday I got the email. I might have ignored it, but the smart mom must have known that, because in the subject she had her daughter’s name and “important information”, so although I have already been burned once this year by opening a parent email on a Sunday I broke my new (unwritten) rule about opening such emails on the weekend. Little did I know…

Let’s be honest- there are many subjects you might prefer not to read about, but one little word struck fear in my heart- and the word? You guessed it- LICE!

As I read on I noted the mom had done everything right- treated her daughter, combed, retreated, combed more, and was on a rampage to clean everything in the house. But the power of the word is so strong that across town my head was itching. All I could think of was all the extra work there would be if I had lice- no mom here to lovingly treat my hair and comb nits out- it would all be on me. I wrote a sympathetic email to the mom, forwarded her email to the school nurses, and scratched my head, while I contemplated the extra chaos that lice would bring in the morning.

C. showed up at school in the morning and I had her check in at the nurse. The students were not going to be in the classroom for lice checks when the nurses could check them all until after lunch, but I snuck in a quick check for myself while the kids were at snack. In spite of my itchy head, I was clear. The mind is a powerful thing and I am easily influenced when it comes to doom and gloom. Here’s the thing, any time I hear the word “lice” I itch- I know that. Every time one of my students has lice I am convinced I have it too. So far (knock wood) I have not had them. In my head I know really they are not that big a deal (and no reflection on cleanliness), but all I can imagine how much of a hassle it would be to really eliminate them- especially since I have not owned a clothes dryer for about 12 years.

The students took the lice check in stride- many had prior experience. It revealed two other students had lice-ugh! The first girl still had them too. By then it was too late in the day for the notice to go out, so today all elementary parents were notified about lice and the two sets of parents got personal notes informing them of what the nurses had found. Of course, my head is still itching and all day long I was worried about sitting too close to students, skeeved out by picking up hairbands, and all the other paranoid things I do whenever students have lice. After school today I got a hair cut, so my hairdresser gave my scalp another look and so far I am clear. But that does not mean I will relax.

So far the lice seem contained in our classroom-but a colleague had me laughing when she relayed that one of her students thought they were having a mice check. Hopefully, it’ll e over without too much spread and I hope the lice know how unwelcome they are. Scratch, scratch, scratch.