Monthly Archives: November 2019

Ready, Set, Go!


#sol19- November 26, 2019

I can not believe that we have two and a half weeks until the first semester is over! Somehow this feels like the fastest year ever, yet as I sit and stew over reports I am amazed at how far these kiddos have come. I was watching them in the library today:

“Oh, Erika, look here is another one of those dragon books- I know who will want to read this after me!” said TH excitedly as he pulled a Dav Pilkey book off the shelf- this from a boy who really did not read much at all (and the same boy who recently received an email from Steve Jenkins responding to his gushing email admiring his nonfiction writing skills).

“We’re reading this out loud together,” M said, “but I want to check it out!”

“So do I!” said A.

“Not me, you two can decide who gets it,” answered Z, as they read on in All’s Faire in Middle School.

A’s mom had expressed worries at a conference early in the year that she was not much of a reader- no longer a worry.

“I found another one!” K brandished his find (another in the Notebooks of Doom series that several of his classmates are also devouring), “It’s really long, but I can read it!” He then moved to a couch to read part to a friend.

There were also others scattered across the space, all happily settled in with good books.

So, how do I share that kind of growth in a report? I love seeing the love of reading burgeoning in these third graders- it is a special kind of magic and today while report card stress may have me down I know how lucky I am to see it all up close!

Now I Remember


#sol19- November 19, 2019

Many weeks ago when I scheduled this haircut it seemed reasonable. Today, leaving school at 3:30 I felt a little guilty- why does leaving an hour after the students feel a little sneaky? It was nice to get the hair wash/massage and catch up with my hairdresser, and I even started to relax and enjoy this mid-week treat.

I used my app to call for a tuk tuk and enjoyed waiting in the still bright sun. “I’m going home,” the caller said (ugh, that was the tuk tuk driver). “You cancel,” he added.

“YOU cancel,” I replied, as I always feel it reflects badly on me when I cancel, but in the end when he did not, I had to cancel so I could call another tuk tuk.

I decided to walk a bit- maybe I would have more luck in a different location. I walked to a grocery store and quickly walked the aisles only to pick up some oat milk.

At the exit, I again called a tuk tuk, and after a few minutes, I had a driver. Except I didn’t- on the map he was clearly driving in the opposite direction. After waiting a few more minutes I admitted defeat and hit cancel again. I tried once more and finally, it looked like I might be successful. The driver came quickly and he made a quick u-turn to point us in the right direction. Traffic was slllooow. The pollution seemed bad and I regretted not having my mask at the ready. In the end it took me 26 minutes to travel the just over 2 km- in reality, I could have walked it quicker, but here where every walk seems like a game of chicken, with few sidewalks and motos that see any remaining sidewalks as a short cut, it just was not going to happen.

There went my plans of making lentil soup- it would be too late by the time I finally got that done, so just before we pulled onto my street I used another app- this time to order some daal (their lentils tonight, mine tomorrow). Now I remember why I so rarely go out of my neighborhood on a school night. Ah, well!



Travel Is Weird (and Wonderful)

#sol19- November 12, 2019

When my older son moved to S. Korea just over three years ago we both envisioned we’d see lots more of each other now that we were on the same continent, but it turns out life is busy, 6+ hours of flight time makes it less likely, our holidays infrequently aligned, etc. He last visited me a year ago August (my first weekend in my first apartment in Phnom Penh, so not ideal timing, but we made it work). So, now it was my turn. We thought about the summer, but his free time was not going to work for me.

So here it is Water Festival in Cambodia and a 5 day weekend so I ventured off for a visit, careful to keep my expectations low, because I knew things are never straightforward when visiting with Jason as our body clocks could not be more different.

Traveling solo continues to stress me, but I knew all would be well.

“I’m going to pick apples with friends on Saturday, so maybe we can meet up for dinner,” he said.

So I found the “airport limousine” (aka bus) that would take me to my hotel, managed to buy my ticket, find the bus, ride, and find my hotel with relative ease.

Via text he assured me he would let me know when they were leaving the orchard. Time passed and since I had missed lunch I was hungry, so I took the easy way out and ordered room service.

Sure enough a bit later he wondered if I wanted to get dinner “soon”- it was 8:20 and I was tired, so no. Originally he was going to share my hotel room Saturday and Sunday night, but he said he’d be over for breakfast Sunday (which meant about noon).

We had a good afternoon and evening- chatting, playing Phase 10, sightseeing, and eating. He’s applying for a new job, still teaching English, but more like real teaching and less like getting kids to fill in workbook pages so we also talked about teaching:)

Monday was back to work for him, so just a quick lunch and a belt purchase (yes, mom could not have him go to the job interview coming soon with the best up beat up belt being the only one he owned). Happily he took me to the bus ticket booth so I could sort out my ride back to the airport and know exactly where to pick it up across the way.

After a little late afternoon shopping for an upcoming baby shower I made the easy choice to buy kim bap to take back to the hotel for an early night (my son does not finish work until 10PM, so we said our goodbye after lunch).

So now I am on my way back home- Seoul- Hong Kong (where I currently wait)- Phnom Penh. Two flights, two time zones, and a who knows when we will next see each other. This parenting adults is a series of heartbreaks- I miss my sons more when I have just seen them, is that weird? Son #2 comes to see me in just over a month…

Challenge Completed! What’s Next?


#sol19- November 5, 2019

Last Friday was the first day of November and consequently the completion of another 3EV challenge. I had heard about Inktober  in the past and talked about trying it out way back in August when the school year just began. As I got to know my class I knew it was a challenge many of them would like and so September 30 I finally got around to talking about it with the class- no surprise many were interested. We have 10-15 minutes of Quiet Time each day just after lunch, so I proposed that time as a time people could work on the prompt of the day if they wanted. That night I hurried off to a stationery store to buy a bunch of pens (and later in the month I bought a few more widths). I made plans with the art teacher to have a book binding celebration when the month ended.

It turns out that every student tried it at least a few times so once we walked across the hall to the art room last Friday we spread all the papers on the floor and the kids gradually collected and ordered their pages. Dana taught them five different ways to bind their books and invited them to use their own way if they were so inclined. We spent a glorious 40 minutes putting together our own books with time spent admiring each other’s work and interpretations of each word. The words themselves had been fun vocabulary builders and really allowed the kids to try out new ideas. Our EAL teacher was amazed when a group working on long vowel sounds offered “frail” as an example- they really remembered the words they had illustrated.

It was heartwarming to watch them tuck their books inside their backpacks with pride.  As for me, it was a challenge indeed for me-art does NOT come easily to me, yet I stuck with it and every single day in October I gave myself permission to try something new (and hard) for a few minutes. My book is now at home on my bookshelves- my first ever Inktober souvenir. I feel like the Inktober experience might make more of the kids willing to try out the SOL Challenge this year- we shall see!