Monthly Archives: March 2020

#SoL20- Day 31-Wow!


#sol20- March 31, 2020

Well, there you go, 31 days “in the books” for the sixth year in a row.

I actually entered this year with great trepidation. I was invested in the #100daysofnotebooking and felt busy enough with that. Somehow I still signed up (and to be a Welcome Wagon volunteer too). I rationalized that I could do my best and would not be hard on myself if I did not succeed.

I will say that there were many days I was not proud of most of my writing, but I showed up-every single day. I made comments on my new slicers’ posts each day and a few extras too. It felt like a marathon.

I was surprised that I stuck with it (my time zone means that one day I snuck in one just before the deadline). I was also surprised that I did not use any of my old standby favorites (currently, top tens, etc.). I was also surprised that I had views from 14 countries-something I have never looked at before. I also discovered in my stats that this is my 484th post!

So many slicers’ words stuck with me and I value the community here every day. I already know I will be back next year (hopefully better prepared).

For now, I go back to my notebooking- today is day 91 of the original 100. This too will continue. Next Tuesday will find me here on TWT again.

Tomorrow the Classroom Slice of Life Challenge starts and we are not in school. I have no idea which of my students will take it up, but I am ready to be their cheerleader.

Thanks for being part of the community here. It means more than I can say, especially now.



#SoL20- Day 30- I Choose Joy


#sol20- March 30, 2020

Today I choose joy- joy in the form of a bar of soap! A simple bar of “kitchen soap” that has been sitting on my shelf for maybe two months unopened.

When I saw Bumblebee Cambodia Soap advertising dishwashing bar soap I was intrigued. Would it be s good as what was usually found in a plastic bottle? I am all for supporting local businesses and more sustainability, so I decided to order two bars to give it a shot. But still, they sat- I still had my plastic bottle after all.

Finally, yesterday I could squeeze no more from that old plastic bottle and not having another bottle in reserve I had to make the change, so…

I was surprised right away while washing my breakfast dishes. It got my sponge all sudsy. It felt good in and on my hands. It smelled good-not overly scented but clean. I’m sold-this little bar of soap brought me joy today (and that is a good thing, so I do not need to write about my tired eyes, burned soup, or a disappointing meeting decision).

Today, I choose joy in small things.


#SoL20- Day 29- My Virtual Social Life Begins


#sol20- March 29, 2020

The new kind of fun- a Zoom happy hour. A friend in Kuala Lumpur brought us together for our first such event. Friday night I noticed a “home care kit” advertised by a local distillery. I do not drink often, but when I do I like gin and I had finally just tried out this place that happens to be on my street at the start of the month.

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Since we were going to have a happy hour I thought I’d splurge. After making my order a few minutes later I walked down the 10 flights of stairs to pay for my purchase- both of us in masks. Then it was time for a quick shower before our meet up.

My next challenge- I had no idea how to make a gin and tonic, but thank you Google- sorted that. Just in time I slid into my seat and entered the (virtual) room. Linnea and Kim were waiting, but ack, my sound was not working, so I backed out and entered again and all was fine.

We spent over an hour chatting and laughing and catching up. Linnea’s sister who is visiting was in and out. It was all so lovely and made me ever so grateful that technology allows us to be together is a new way.

Next up, Linnea has e-vited us to dinner on Tuesday where she wants us to ogle some new recipes she is trying. Living alone I think I am going to have to start some of these events myself so I have some outlet other than work! It is a strange new world, but today I am grateful for friends!

SoL20- Day 28-Colleagues Across the World


#sol20- March 28, 2020

It is today’s reality- my colleagues who teach with me are literally spread out across the world, but these distances have been bridged due to technology, specifically Zoom.

A few years ago I began following Erin Kent on her Facebook page Reading and Writing Workshop in International Schools. I was lucky enough to meet her in person once and was looking forward to learning from her in person at a conference in Hong Kong that was supposed to happen two weeks ago. But then, Corona.

Not one to sit idle Erin is consulting virtually these days and recently proposed an online book club. I am a PD junky, so after looking at the title (Co-Teaching for English Learners), I was in. Last night was our third and final meeting (confession- I missed the middle session because this online teaching is no joke- I did not have time to do the reading).

There we were, teachers in the US, Albania, China, India, Czechia, Malaysia UAE, and Cambodia discussing common issues and brainstorming the next steps. It was lots of fun to be in a group with one of my favorite people ever, Gina, and learn together once again. We taught together for three years in Malaysia and love to attend PD together.

We ended the session with a few minutes coming up with burning questions for the author because next week Erin and Tonya, the two facilitators will have a chat with her that they will post on Facebook afterward. So there I was on a Friday night after a week of way too much screen time voluntarily spending more time there because that is where the learning was.

Of course this week they announced the next book club book and as soon as I logged out of Zoom I logged in to Amazon to buy the Kindle version (Start with Joy: Designing Literacy Learning for Student Happiness), because really, who does not need more joy?

I already know I am in Gina’s group again and next week when we discuss the first three chapters I will get to learn with her again. Books and a love of learning and teaching connect so many of us across the miles and it is even sweeter when online friends and colleagues are real-life friends too (next weekend I was supposed to meet Gina in Bangkok…). For now, I will have to be content with ling distance learning. I am grateful technology allows for this.

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#SoL20- Day 27-The Important Thing


#sol20- Day 27

This afternoon I read my class Margaret Wise Brown’s The Important Thing via Zoom and then reflected at the end of an exhausting week:

The Important Thing

The important thing about 3EV is that we are a community

We know each other, we like to have fun together, we support each other in our learning,

We may not be together at school right now,

but the important thing about 3EV is that we are a community.


It has been a different kind of week (our second of online school), but I feel like our community is helping to sustain us right now.


#SoL20- Day 26- The Time When I Lost All My Cash


#sol20- March 26, 2020

Last week I transferred most of my money to my US bank account. Having heard stories about life here in other emergencies I wanted to be sure my money would be safe (and really I should have been transferring money all along, but just never did). I also took a large chunk of money out in cash, leaving only a minimum in the account. I have a safe at home so rationalized that the money would be better off in my home where I could access it in an emergency, anticipating that the city might be under lockdown soon.

Last night I went out with the safe door open by mistake and upon returning a few hours later I locked it again and gave it no more thought. Early this morning I was trying to transfer money for my rent payment but needed to check my bank balance to be sure I had enough in the account before being paid on Friday. I grabbed my bank book from the safe to check my account number to enter it on the website. Kind of as a good luck sign I decided to look at my cash–and it was not in the wallet I keep in the safe… It also was not in the US wallet I keep there too.

I tried not to panic and continued on my mission, checking my balance and happily confirming I did have enough in the bank, so made the transfer. Meanwhile, I was engaging in a healthy dose of self-talk. “It’s only money,” I told myself. “If there is an emergency here I have enough people here I know can help out.”

Returning my bank book bank to the safe I unzipped the pouch it had been in and had a sudden flash of insight-the money had NOT been in the wallet, but rather in an envelope in that same pouch. With a feeling of calm I peeked inside and sure enough, there it was. Proving once again I have too many good hiding places and that panicking never solves problems. Phew, what a relief. I told a friend today, “Let me tell you about the time I lost $x000.” I was ready to laugh about it.

#SoL20-Day 25-Just One Line


#sol20-Day 25

Today I got an email, just a few words, a short line…

“I really miss you Ms Erika ­čś×
I might have cried. I hope these kids knew how much I love and miss them too. Today when we met for our second Zoom of the day (we start the day with Morning Meeting and end with read aloud, just like always) one of them said when we were saying goodbye, “That was so short.” I knew what she meant. After spending five days a week together all year to just share a few minutes bookending the “school day” does not seem nearly enough. My heart hurts.

#SoL20- Day 23-Lost and Found!


#sol20-March 23, 2020

I wrote about my beloved carrot cake recipe at least once (well at least three times, it turns out!) Today I got that dreaded message from Apple, that my iCloud storage was full, so nothing more could be saved. How are those two thoughts related you might ask?

Pictures, it seems are my hoarding secret- I never clean out that hidden mess. Well, I merrily deleted away. I really do not need ALL those pictures, although  it was fun to see so many pictures of my class of 2015-2016. Lo and behold my eyes nearly popped out of my head-what was that I nearly deleted???

I paused for a moment and really looked… there was my missing recipe card, nearly complete! I immediately stopped what I was doing to transcribe what I could. All the ingredients are there-really it is just a few steps and the cooking times (which never seem to be accurate anyway).

When a friend texted me to check on my day the first thing I shared was that I “found” my recipe.

“Well, you’ve found your slice for the day!” she answered.

“That’s exactly what I thought, too!” I smiled.

Now there’s a friend who knows me well!

Believe me when I say you should try this recipe too.

#SoL20- Day 22- Why Don’t I Learn What I Teach?


#sol20- March 22, 2020

“Why don’t I learn what I teach?” This has been rolling around in my brain since reading Sally’s post yesterday. She reminded me that I should use the lessons that I teach more often!

Today that slapped me in the face! Just last week I suggested to my students that, as we began online school, they should create a schedule for their day. Did I do that? No!

Last week felt so chaotic, unproductive, reactive, unpredictable.

Today I felt a bit more like myself. On Sundays, I make a schedule for myself because it sets me up for the week ahead. So this morning I made a schedule for the day and I am more or less sticking to it. I am a timetable person- I like being “on time” and I am happy to schedule in free time too.

Last week felt so out of control and I did not feel like I could make any kind of schedule, but I should have listened to my own advice. Now I am and I am okay knowing my plan may change, because life has to allow for surprises, especially now.

Of course, a schedule makes me more productive too. I set timers so that I have to (more or less) get things done in the time I’ve set aside, which ends up being like a series of challenges and I love self-set challenges.

While notebooking today I also listened to Poetry Unbound, a podcast I love- it relaxes me and I love the set up where repetition is built in. Further reminders to me- build in brain breaks and make room for some repetition, as it leads to new layers of meaning. It is also a reminder to me that I better pick up some poetry books from my classroom to add to our read aloud.

I feel like I’m learning more about myself in these challenging times- and for that I am grateful. Now perhaps, I will be more willing to learn what I try to teach…

#SoL20- Day 21- My Treat!


#sol20- March 21, 2020

I had to run a silly errand today and then (even though I probably should not have) I went to the book store because I ordered these books two months ago and they were finally in. My friends, Emily, said, “You should buy yourself a treat while you’re out.”

“I’m buying a stack of books,” I answered (nine books totaling about $200 as it happened). “That’s my treat.”

But her suggestion pulled at me. It had been a hard week- our first week online and so busy! I tried to treat myself to some new sneakers for the indoor exercise I am going to be having to do, and although there were two styles I wanted neither was available in my size.

I really did want to make it a quick trip (so quick, in fact, that I did not even stop at the office supply/stationery store!), so my next opportunity was, no surprise, at the book store. They had the notebook I wanted a few weeks ago, but I had already started another one and even have a few on deck, so I could not rationalize that.

Then I decided I wanted comfort, so went to the cookbook aisle. I do not own many cookbooks, as online recipe searching is so easy. But I do love poring over books in all forms, so pulled out Jamie Oliver’s Veg. Being in this part of the world means almost all books in stores are wrapped in plastic, so I had to decide based only on the cover. I am nearly vegetarian, only eating meat occasionally and the blurb on the back advertised “Easy and delicious meals for everyone” and I am trying to cook more. Then there was its size- it was┬áhardcover and nearly A4 size, so substantial. It was expensive though, $43, what was that all about?┬á Needless to say, I took it with me. I am looking forward to taking some slow moments to spend time within its pages. After unwrapping it I can confirm there are recipes that are drool-worthy, but achievable, however, one thing I had not considered was the measurements I will have to translate (never mind self-raising flour). Who knows, I may even vary from my habitual overnight oatmeal as I ogle a rippled smoothie bowl that looks delicious.┬á So, yes, I bought myself a treat.