Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lucky Heart Beat

My heart has been beating more rapidly than it should for a long time. Trying to ignore it, I move faster throughout my day to drown it out. Finally I listened to my new cardiologist and scheduled a procedure that would hopefully make my heart comply with normalcy. Trembling inside, I approached the hospital today with my husband as my designated chauffeur to guide me home in the anticipated post anesthesia fog.

Trying to overcome my active imagination and mounting anxiety, I made polite conversation with the nurse as she showed me to the prepping area.  With the hospital gown on and my clothes stored in the stylish plastic bag, I waited for the nurse to return with the EKG machine. I casually mentioned to her that I thought that my heart felt calm today, beating its intended rhythmic beat. Much to my surprise and total delight, the EKG tape showed the proof of my heart behaving! I guess the new meds started two days ago had started their magic! As she went to confirm that I could gain an uneventful and early release, I noticed on the curtain defining my cubicle words embroidered into random panels. I know they are of the bumper sticker caliber but I wrote them down. To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. (Before the March challenge I probably would not have even had paper and a pen with me at this time!)

After a visit from the doctor, we were on our way! What a pleasant and unexpected change of events for the day with time to go out to lunch to celebrate!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SOL Jackpot!

Being more materialistic (wanting something tangible for my money) than a risk taker, I only infrequently purchase a lottery ticket. If, as I am paying for my groceries, I notice a loose dollar or two in my wallet, I might wheel my cart over to the lottery machines.  That is exactly what I did on Saturday. My dream is of the prize of a thousand dollars a week for the rest of my life. What a difference this sum would make to my life, I imagine! So I slid my two crinkled dollars into the machine. Rats! All my dream come true tickets are missing from the machine and the machine does not even think about giving me my money back. I pressed a random button, the title of which I had never heard. At the risk of sounding desperate, after loading my groceries into my car, I sat and read the directions for this unfamiliar game. Grabbing a dime, I started scratching away. Eight games, eight chances to win. One, two, three, four, five, I knew I should have saved my two dollars. Hmm??? Let me read those directions again. It said 5K means 5 times the indicated prize and I have a 5K. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. Maybe it means two like figures and the 5K win. Well, I think they may have written the directions incorrectly. I decided to look at it again later. I drove home, put the groceries away then later headed back out. I really needed to check it out. Thinking I'll probably be embarrassed, I walked up to the lottery counter. When the girl's eyebrows went up and she said, "Wow!", I knew I had read the card right. I won $250! I was so excited as I left the store. It surely was better than the $2 prize I would normally have gotten excited about. I can't even imagine the reaction I would have if I ever won my dream prize. For now I'll just spend my winnings over and over in my head until I find just the right one! Several of my family members have offered to help. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


It seems that the sugary marshmallow treat known as the PEEP has become a part of our culture. I’m not sure why I chose to write about them since as of April I have only one day a week to slice! Maybe it has tickled my brain because it is silly and fun.

At lunch today one of the random turns of the conversation was to PEEPS. Colleagues were recalling their fond memories of these treats that seem to be either loved or loathed. Apparently someone’s mom opened the end of her many packages, letting the PEEPS dry out on the outside so as to emphasize the chewy marshmallow inside. After several months of this drying process, she passed some of these packages to her daughter who welcomed the treat! She even got thinking that she might still have some stashed at home from last year, which she was going to check out tonight. Another recalled serious experimentation where the PEEP was placed on a plate and put in the microwave for various amounts of time. We were assured that the resulting gooey, stretchy mass was delicious. Around the table we found that the “point” value had been calculated so that this faux poultry could be added to her daily food log.

After school I made a stop at a local store to add to the chocolate stash I keep for those in my building. The long aisle of pastel rainbow PEEPS caught my attention. I thought slice, phone, camera, picture…look what only one month of blogging has led me to do!

Purple, yellow, blue, pink, dipped in dark chocolate, sugar free; bunnies and chicks, the boxes were lined up in rows down a long aisle waiting to be taken home to add excitement to Easter baskets.

Doing a little Google snooping, I found that PEEPS have their own website filled with lore, recipes, toys, apparel and serenading music. Videos have been created about these creatures and diorama contests promoted.

So as not to be seen at only one time of year, these cuddly to the teeth treats have been molded into assorted seasonal shapes so that aficionados can enjoy them year round.

Maybe I should buy myself a package and see if I love them more than I remember. I certainly don’t want to miss out on a piece of our culture!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

SOLSC 31 of 31!! A Slice for You!

A Special Slice For All

I offer to you a slice of a multilayered chocolate cake
To celebrate the last 31 days of sharing by new found friends.
Baked to perfection, the layers of our lives offered to all,
Held together with decadent gooey  frosting, the carefully crafted words.

Garnished with fresh fruit dipped in a glaze, the details to be savored by all.

The whole creation finished with a flourish of chocolate curls, a taste of everyone’s uniqueness while recognizing a familiar sameness.

I look forward to sharing another slice, filled with new flavors and surprises!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SOLSC One Day to Go The Wait for Weight

How many times can a person lose 20 pounds or so? Unfortunately I am finding out for at least the third time.

I have been writing down what I eat, weighing and measuring portions, counting the points, drinking the water, watching the scale. Each week I formally weigh in. Down .2 of a pound! Are you kidding? Just planning healthy meals, writing it all down and fretting should have reflected at least a 5-pound loss on the scale.

Why is it so easy to put the pounds on? Without any journaling or planning I have on occasion successfully added 5 pounds in a week.

Just this last week, I passed up hors d’oeurves, dumplings, a mountain of cheese and even wine at a reception. No problem. I turned my head at two kinds of cupcakes with gooey frosting, dips, snack mix and pizza at a shower at school. No problem. The problem is that the scale won’t work with me, reflecting all my effort and sacrifice.

After putting on my lightest weight workout clothes, shedding my (I’m sure it’s heavy) jewelry and taking just a sip of water on my way home, I went for the weekly weigh in. I was rewarded with .4 of a pound loss this week. Euphoria crossed my mind and then reality told me that the weight wasn’t even that of two sticks of butter.

I know the eating is healthy too and that counts for something. But I don’t know if I can stand the wait to say good-bye to this weight.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SOLSC Day 29 of 31 In Awe of Fifth Graders!

Over half my day is spent working with students in Kindergarten through third grade who need extra help with reading and writing. I have always loved the challenge of working with these kids who need support to become effective readers.

Though the rest of my day is spent doing other miscellaneous literacy focused activities (not the point of this slice!), the last few years I have also added two groups of fifth grade students who are extremely capable readers to my week. Their exuberance and quickly generated thoughts help to balance my week.

With each group a book is selected and together we decide the length of the reading for the week. Since we only meet once a week, it takes several weeks to complete a book. The weekly discussions revolve around the questions and wonderings they have had for the week. We strive to have it interactive without raising their hands as in the larger classroom setting.

At the end of a book we recently completed, I asked them to take two weeks and choose a way to reflect on their reading. Though I offered some suggestions, they were encouraged to put their self-motivation and creativity to work.

The day they brought their “projects” to school they charged into my room, most pleading to share first. I had to control my jaw from dropping as they began their sharing. The first girl whisked her memory stick out of a pocket, placed it into my computer as if it were her own, turned on the smart board and was good to go. She very confidently presented her PowerPoint complete with bulleted highlights while perched on my stool. Next was a boy who accessed his home personal website and opened his project from there. He had created a portrayal of his favorite parts of the book and an aerial view of the train station from the description in the book. He used virtual Legos from a website he knew to do this. Next came the student who asked where the electrical outlet was. He had brought sections of his train set and characters designed from actual Legos which he used to reenact favorite scenes. Another girl developed an abbreviated version of the story written as if an important character had not been in the story. She wrote extensively about how all the other characters and events would have been effected. 

Each reflection presented was so individual and filled with thought beyond most 10 year old students. What a pleasure it was to observe! None of these depictions had been on my suggestion sheet or discussed in our conversations (hooray!). I felt such admiration for their creativity, ingenuity and self-motivation. I have little doubt that their success will continue as they head to the Middle School next year.

Monday, March 28, 2011

SOLSC Day 28 of 31 Best Not Judge

After a doctor appointment at the hospital, I was waiting in line in my car to pay for parking. The line was long, seemingly never ending due to the time. I must admit I was starting to grumble in my head about how much I might be paying for not only the parking time but the wait in line, in addition to burning expensive gas! My head was still grumbling as I approached the payment booth. Stopping to pay, I took a hard look at the attendant. He looked familiar.

I heard you speak at my church a few weeks ago.
So good to see you.

Very few words were exchanged but my head went into gear as I pulled away.

How many times do we entertain the thought of the attendant and how underappreciated their job might be, wondering if there was a job they might rather have. How long have they had this job and how much longer would they have it? Maybe even a stab of sympathy is felt.

Having previously heard Sebastian speak certainly made me smile. He was in this job to earn money to put toward finishing his college degree. He is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He had an unimaginable personal journey in Sudan and has continued on another for many years in the U.S. He is now a U.S. citizen and is planning a trip to the Sudan this summer to make arrangements for starting the construction of a school in the town of his birth.

Clearly he has aspirations and has worked unimaginably hard to achieve his goals. This job is just a brief road stop. He has high aspirations and ambition beyond belief.

It really reminded me not to judge anyone in the booth. Who knows what their personal journey has been or what it might be.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SOLSC Day 27 of 31 Dream

Though the temperatures still hover at the freezing point, the sun warms me inside and out and ignites dreams of a short April get away as well as outside moments to come this summer! It’s like holiday visions of sugar plums; visions of sun, warmth and breezes (hopefully from the ocean!) dancing in my head.

The bowl captured while shopping yesterday had me grabbing books from my shelf that wander like my mind and plant the seeds for ideas of small adventures we might take over the next few months.

The planning and dreaming are an important part of the adventure!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

SOLSC Day 25 of 31 Retail Therapy

Since the announcement card arrived in the mail, I eagerly awaited the reopening of a favorite gift shop that is about 25 minutes from where I live. The store closes after the holidays to again open their doors at the end of March. 

This was the weekend!! As I drove through back roads, I kept imagining this wonderland with its newly displayed treasures that could help me transform my home from snowman land to a fresh spring meadow. This shop has so many unique items and a unique owner. She has the talent of displaying things so that they take your breath away as they draw you into the I think I have to have it frame of mind. There are no simple purchases; it is hard to leave behind any one of the half dozen items nestled together creating the perfect display. I am definitely speaking from experience here.

Picking up my pace, I walked up the long driveway to the converted house. My anticipation heightened as my eyes soaked in the spring flags, tin flowers, butterflies and bunnies lining my path. Walking through the familiar door provided a feast for the senses. Beautifully scented country candles greeted me. Which should I choose?  Oh and the moss to match and how can I leave the ribbon covered eggs behind? Maybe the little fence around the candle would be the finishing touch to create my magazine like display. Breathe deeply, I kept reminding myself, and wander through all the rooms and then decide.

Much like a child in a candy shop I had to show some reserve, as I knew that I had previous years’ treasures waiting in still packed away boxes at home.

I did however make several purchases to feed my spring awaiting soul; a tonic for the senses and the creative side of me. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

SOLSC Day 25 of 31 I Know You Can!

This is a small tribute to a first grade student who has been struggling to unlock the reading code. I read with him one on one today in the remedial setting since the rest of his group was absent.  He selected some books and as he got to the middle of one,  he looked at me and said, "I can read!" It must have felt right to him today as he put his strategies to work. What a treasure it was to have been there when he made this discovery!

I know you can.

You pick up the book
Point just right
To the parade of words
That is in your sight

Your mouth is ready
Out come sounds
Blending so perfectly
Saying words you found

You keep on going
See your look
It’s coming together
Marching through the book

“You know, I can read!”
I know you can.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SOLSC Day 24 of 31 The Circle of Life

I am grateful everyday that the circle of my life includes my beautiful 14-year-old granddaughter. Since her birth we have shared a special bond that is a treasure I hold close. One of the things we look forward to and share is going to plays. Tonight we twitched in our seats as the animals of The Lion King gracefully made their way to the stage, creating their own poetry. This was my third time seeing this performance over many years, her second. With escalating excitement, our hearts drew close and we shared an excitement that added another stitch to our bond. We both love all the music from this performance but these lyrics from A Circle of Life seem to speak loudly to me tonight.

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

It's the Circle of Life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SOLSC Day 23 of 31 Blame It On The Snow

I think I’ll blame it on the snow.
Driving home in a blustery white swirl
seems to have smeared white out
        on any creative thoughts
 that might have been
              sprouting in my head.
       Renewed slush,
                    cars in roadside banks
                              stole my focus.
I think I’ll blame it on the snow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SOLSC Day 22 of 31 Chocolate Soothes Most

Chocolate. It seems to be the universal mood lifter, stress reliever, and calming agent contained in one small foil wrapper. A number of years ago I started the tradition of having a candy (98% chocolate filled) box in my room for teachers to partake of as needed. Word quickly spread and it has become part of a new teacher’s orientation to learn that this box filled with chocolate delights exists in my room.

I can gauge the tone and stress level of the building by the amount of chocolate that is consumed. Prior to vacation weeks I can hardly teach and refill the seemingly self-empting box. Those weeks I contemplate getting a second job to afford the refills. Other weeks I can tell calm is about the building, the box stays quite full for 3-4 days.

On one occasion, an otherwise quiet teacher came into my room and shouted, “I’m so glad you’re not testing. I NEED chocolate!” That sentiment has been repeated over and over. Many have been known to tiptoe in before the kids even arrive to pop the magic tonic.  I work in a building of hard working teachers but if peppermint patties, a favorite of many, are put in the box, by some soundless drumbeat people arrive throughout the day to mine the treasure.

Many a good professional conversation has also been started over the crinkly unwrapping of foil. The size of the mountain of foil generated is often indicative of the intensity of the concern. 

I feel it is a good investment in the well being of my colleagues.

Monday, March 21, 2011

SOLSC Day 21 of 31 Hemmingway

My mother never liked cats. I thought I didn’t like cats either. Flashback eight years and we are the happy owner of an only dog who was 11 years old at the time. My daughter had moved out on her own and found that she couldn’t take her kitten with her without paying an additional fee.

On her way to take said cat to the humane society, she happened to stop by with the cat literally in hand. Remember, I don’t like cats. She set the cat down and instantly the dog found a new friend. Soon they were curled up together on the dog’s bed. I wondered what one did with a cat who was often at eye level, wrapped himself around your leg when you didn’t want him to and tiptoed away.

Later as she scooped up the cat to head out the door, I yelled, “Wait!” I knew the cat would be history if it went to the humane society in the spring. “I will try it for two weeks. If it doesn’t work, YOU have to take it to its fate.”
As the saying goes, the rest is history. Hemmingway easily bonded with the dog and us. The dog trained him to greet us at the door (like all good dogs do) and to stand by the treat cupboard and look cute. The dog did most of the talking for him, he meowed very infrequently.

Hemmingway has now been an only pet for a few years. He still greets us at the door and has found his voice as he demands treats (while still looking cute). He cuddles on your lap, purrs you into a smile and in general is quite perfect. I can’t even imagine him not being a member of our family. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SOLSC Day 20 of 31 Ladies Night Out

A dear friend and colleague started a tradition eight years ago that guests enthusiastically look forward to each year. One Saturday evening in March, she invites female friends from school to her home for dinner. The best part is that she does none of the cooking! Though the guests offer to bring something, her husband insists on doing all the cooking. Each year we eagerly await learning what the entrée will be since it is kept a guarded secret until that evening.

Last night marked the eighth annual Ladies Night Out event. The younger teachers eagerly enlist their husbands or parents as babysitters for this can’t wait for event.  The food was amazingly delicious, starting with the beef tenderloin stuffed with REAL crab and finishing with assorted fresh berries swirled with REAL whipped cream. Definitely not an evening to count calories, but so worth it!

Equally anticipated was the wonderful camaraderie that was shared. Before dinner, during dinner and long after the table was cleared, stories were shared of families, school related incidents and slices of life in general. So much laughter was generated that our sides literally ached by evening’s end. 

Grateful to be included though not one of the younger teachers, I had the added pleasure of reflecting on how the lives of these younger teachers had changed in those eight years. Many went from being single, to be being married, they bought houses, and started and enlarged families. A lifetime of experiences! What a gift to be a part of it.

Four new guests were added to this shared evening out this year. As they were leaving, they were already making it known that they would be available this evening next year. They quickly found that delicious food, friends and sharing made it a perfect night out.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SOLSC Day 19 of 31 It's a Stretch for Me at the Gym

Saturday morning.
Off to the gym to try and stretch out a week’s worth of tension.

Stretch forward and down

I’ve been trying to stretch forward all week

Right hand down, then left

One foot ahead of the other Monday to Friday

Go down into plank

Hmmm…maybe I could cook a steak on a plank

Up into downward dog

Maybe I should have come to the gym more this week

Hold the pose and rotate to the left

Flexible? I try to be

Down into child’s pose

My favorite position, no balance involved

Warrior position

I like these standing positions; clear my mind, clear my mind, focus

Down to the floor, to work our abs

I hope I can find them; how many more?

Breathe in, exhale

Yikes, I even have to think about doing that

Ok, I’m focused.

Quiet music

We’re done?

Friday, March 18, 2011

SOLSC Day 18 of 31 Haiku

The Slice of LIfe Challenge has totally grabbed me, making me gravitate more than once a day to the two writing teachers' blog site, waiting to see the pieces of life people have shared. Though my days are very full, I've added to my day the search for the words to add to this community. I want to belong! Reading and hearing about the Japanese tragedy and thinking of the poetry form often associated with Japan, here is my first time to share a haiku.

Words now awaken
Slow germinating journey
Coming into light

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SOLSC Day 17 of 31 Ready to Go...I Think

Our district's Superintendent's Conference Day is tomorrow. A change in pace is good, time to stretch in new directions. But tomorrow I will be doing some of the presenting and facilitating. It's in my building with colleagues I know well and respect. I've done this before (presenting and worrying). So why am I so apprehensive? The smart board presentation, which will be my guide is ready, complete with its links to videos and charts. Handouts are in colorful two-pocket folders. My common sense side says there will be good discussion which will carry us into the coming weeks. Settle down, I know. Cookies are cooling on the table and I've purchased a big bag of chocolate. That's my insurance, I'm ready. I hope.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SOLSC Day 16 of 31 And They Lived Happily Ever After

Last April we happened to find a few beautiful early spring days to visit Nantucket as it was awakening from the blanket of winter. Few tourists were around which gave us an easy opportunity to poke and explore.  I had all but forgotten some of the fascinating signs that we found on the buildings in the town.  Though a little corny, they seemed to weave together to form a simple story.

Nan and Tucker met while strolling down 

during their sophomore year. They shared their days, their dreams and had a romantic

After graduation and the thought of going their separate ways was too hard to bear, they decided to become

They knew their life would be a perfect

of a shuttered house with a white picket fence, flowers in a row and a dog and cat. When it was time, they would add to the picture a son and a daughter to make their life a 

The years went by, the children grew and their love held true. Indeed they could say that their life had been

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

SOLSC Day 15 of 31 Waxing Poetic

While at the mall this weekend I stopped, stuck to the floor, as I spied a box labeled "Poetic Waxing"! I wanted to shout, "Where are the slice of life bloggers? They won't believe this!" It seems that by purchasing Poetic Waxing you will also receive bliss. I can hardly believe I left it on the shelf. Reading just a little further, it seems it also takes away.

But if you wax poetic, I've found it gives back to the heart of who you are and to your soul.
It keeps you thinking and playing with words.
Tonight alone, I wonder if I should wax poetic about my day at school that continued until 8PM with pj's, popcorn and paperbacks.
Should I wax poetic about our first actual day of warmth and sunny skies?
Maybe to wax poetic of the joy I feel about this blogging community I've so recently joined.
It would be easy to wax poetic of friends and precious family, using words yet to be grouped.

More bliss it seems in waxing poetic that poetic waxing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

SOLSC Day 14 of 31 Please Read With Me Tonight

Working with young readers is a pleasure and a challenge. I have the good fortune to work with small groups of children who need extra support with their reading and writing. They work hard in the moment of the 30 minutes we're  together; I want them to develop a LOVE of reading, the real success, that will take them beyond our time together. Each night I send home at least one book that they should be able to read independently. It is placed in a special cloth bag for easy identification. Letters have been sent home asking for the parent's support of their child's reading by setting aside a little time to practice with them each night (or as many nights as possible).

Each day when I meet with the students I begin with, "Who can celebrate what they read last night?" Often the students say that they have not read and that neither the bag nor the book has come out of their backpack.

Time to try another approach. I purchased an inexpensive photo album, removed the pages and designed an insert promoting the cause for reading at night. I then had the student sign the note and attached it to their backpack with a large notebook ring. The plan is that the parent will see the tag on the outside of the bag leaning against the wall at home. It will serve as a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder of the pleasant time they can spend with their child. I hope we do some celebrating tomorrow!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

SOLSC Day 13 of 31 Time

Time. Today is the day of time. Time "lost". Time that needs to be reset. Making time. Precious time.

Peanut butter cookies with peanut butter and chocolate chips

to bake cookies
to revise a recipe for a favorite peanut butter cookie
to add peanut butter and chocolate chips
to bake
to inhale the aroma
to package cookies.

Precious time well spent.

Time to celebrate an only nephew's 19th birthday!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SOLSC Day 12 of 31 There Will Be Ringing in the Air (and not helium)

Can you guess what this is? Many years ago it was my birthday present--a refillable helium tank! I desperately wanted it so I could blow up clouds of balloons for my then young children's birthday parties, special events or for when the mood hit. The ceiling was filled with bouncing colorful spheres for those parties, single ones attached to presents for friends. When word got around that I owned a large tank, it was often loaned out for others' celebrations.

The kids got older, balloons not as fascinating. My tank sat in the closet for several years. Recently I thought I might try to get one more refill. There are now increased regulations on the "certification" of a home tank before it can be refilled; it seemed like too much red tape.

As I was contemplating how to dispose of, or recycle, this well used vessel, my husband thought of an idea of how to repurpose it. On vacation a few years back we saw a large metal cylindrical bell that would have been really cool for the yard. (The price tag matched its coolness.) His eye saw that bell in my scratched brown helium tank. He took it to his friend who does welding and much to my surprise, my tank with its make-over returned this week.

Several inches of the bottom were cut off and a wooden clangor was attached to the inside, now making a deep melodic sound. A matching hook was added to the top and all was then bathed in a fresh coat of black paint. A bracket was also designed for the edge of our deck where this new treasure will be hung when spring arrives.

Friday, March 11, 2011

SOLSC Day 11 of 31 The Slice Without Its Picture

This slice was going to look very different but I can't seem to figure out how to magically get a picture from my phone onto my computer. As the time approaches the magic hour of midnight, an imagination is necessary so I can post on time.

Picture a pile of books, about 18 inches high. Included in this pile are books which, if I had  a scale, would probably weigh 30 pounds. This pile should have gone into my school bag since next week I have to present to a group of teachers at my school for a portion of Superintendent's Conference Day. The morning is sketched out but the "meat" is not in place. This pile of books are to be my resource.

This towering pile didn't make it into the bag. The week had overwhelmed me and I was tired. So, one resource book and a file are all I brought home. Next week I can go into panic mode.

I wonder if I will regret this decision on Sunday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SOLSC Day 10 of 31 I think I saw my husband!

As I'm traveling home from school, much later than I had hoped, I discarded the idea of a stop at the gym. I was thinking that I'd better get home and decide what we would have for dinner. My husband is very flexible as to what he eats and when, but this is tax season and he is an accountant. The only break for food that he takes during the day is for dinner. So I have a pang of guilt if it gets too late. The dinner "in and out" escalates from this point to mid April. He calls or texts me for my suggested ETA. He enters the house, greets the cat and me (most likely in that order), peers into pots and the oven, sits at the table and almost patiently waits.

He is only home to eat, have some conversation (which shortens as the April deadline approaches) and dashes back out the door to more taxes, papers and deadlines.

Time elapsed: 35 minutes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

SOLSC Day 9 of 31 A Garden Club that Doesn't Garden?

Many years ago I joined the Eastside Garden Club. It sounds very official. However, the truth is that though the members generally enjoy gardening and flowers, rarely do we meet to discuss them or to do any planting. Many federated garden clubs follow strict membership guidelines and parameters for their service  to the community. That's not us. We call ourselves the "not too serious garden club". Each month we do meet to listen to a speaker or do an activity that is enjoyable. Truth be known, more often than not, it is not remotely connected to gardening. The constant is that there are always delicious treats and beverages.

Last  night we met and actually had a program related to our group's title! We gathered at a very chic florist owned by a delightful young woman. She showed us how to prepare beautiful flowers such as snapdragons, enormous-headed roses and tulips for making a beautiful and lasting arrangement. She skillfully took her special knife and  scraped unnecessary thorns and leaves off the 2-foot long stems. It looked so easy. I could only imagine the fingers I might lose as I perfected that technique. She shared a few tips for preparing flowers for a long vase life that I thought I would share. If you're not in a real garden club you might find them helpful.

  • If you put a penny in the water of a vase of tulips, they will stand straight.
  • Daffodils should not be put in an arrangement with other flowers since they release a toxic sap that will destroy the other flowers. If you want them to be a part of another arrangement, first put them in a vase by themselves. After about a day, the sap will be released and they will co-exist with other flowers.
  • if you have roses that come with a droopy head, it means they are not adequately hydrated. Float them on the surface of tepid water in your bathtub to revive them.
  • For flowers with a woody stem, like lilacs, hammer about 7 inches of the bottom of their stem to help them get the water they need.
This evening's presentation probably went a long way to fulfill the quota of our group's garden related programming for the year. Want to join?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SOLSC Day 8 of 31 The Honey Is Sweet

I am savoring the honey in my cup of tea. Each night I spoon out a little bit; this is no regular honey. It is  "Doctor B's Estate" honey. You won't have seen it at any grocery or gift store. It is special honey. The honey was taken from my son's hives in Nebraska. Though we live 18 hours away, my husband and I had the delight of visiting him and his wife this summer where we were introduced to the two hives that he had just built and the industriousness of those winged insects. As I donned the borrowed netted hat, I was able to see up close the black cluster of bees beating their wings as they provided temperature control at the entrance to the hive.

At the end of the summer, he harvested and bottled the honey. My daughter and I decided that we would like to give a jar of this family produced honey to special friends for Christmas. My son sent the carefully packaged jars to us and as industriously as the bees, my daughter designed the personalized labels. The name and design was decided upon after numerous emails, phone calls and texts across the miles.

My son is "Doctor B" (PhD, says proud mom) and the nectar for the amber treasure was gathered from the midwestern flowers around his new home. The honey is sweet and the warmth of the connection is as soothing as my cup of tea.

Monday, March 7, 2011

SOLSC Day 7 Chicken With the Gas

I have a 19-mile commute to school and not far from there is my gas station. The gas is usually a little cheaper and they actually pump the gas for you (a rarity in our area!). Sure, I am capable of pumping my own gas. But in the cold, snow, wind, heat or I'm too tired, it's great to smile and have someone else do it.

So when the little beacon of light shines on my dashboard, I take a deep breath and check the numbers that indicate how many miles I have to go until empty. Here comes the confession. I've been known to see it indicate 38 miles or so until empty as I am heading home. Doing mental calculations, I figure I can make it home and back to school and the extra mile to reach my gas station. Roughly. I have figured that the dashboard numbers must be an estimate and merely a gentle warning. The next morning, on several occasions, I have glanced down at the taunting dial still shining. With school in sight, I have seen 1 mile until empty indicated. My heart pounds, I make promises to the maker of my car and hope I don't have to call AAA for gas. I hold my breath that I don't have to wait too many minutes to pull into the station because I might not make it.

Today as I was driving home I realized, as I was about 5 miles from school toward home, that I had forgotten to get gas. In a weak-brained moment, I almost turned around toward my gas station. I toyed with the idea of returning there in the morning, my mileage indicator said 25 miles and after all it was probably only an estimate until the ultimate empty.

Common sense returned and I pumped my own gas at a "foreign" station 4 miles from home. I bet I could have made it. It appears that I play a game with my car called chicken.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

SOLSC Day 6 Not Spring...But Warmth!

While yesterday hinted of Spring, today's slushy snow blanketed the ground yet another time. After running  those weekend errands, I settled in and created my own warmth that nature didn't provide. I started a roaring fire in our wood stove. (How I love that stove!)

One of my responsibilities as Reading Teacher at my school is to purchase books for classroom libraries and the book room. In addition, I search for professional development materials and miscellaneous language arts materials (sand timers, vue rulers, whisper phones, etc.). So when my principal came to me last week and said, "SPEND", I was ready! The week flew by but today is good. So with a pile of catalogues and a mountain of sticky notes of accumulated ideas on my lap and the warmth of a fire by my side, I think I have Spring in my eye! What a great job that certainly isn't work.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

SOLSC Day 5 of 31 Three Generations Stretching

Going to the gym is something I try to do frequently, though it doesn't happen as often as I would like. My exercise of preference is water aerobics. I'm not sure if that is because I get a good workout or if it is because under the water no one can see my moves!

A few months ago my daughter suggested we go together to a "body flow" class, which is a combination of yoga and Pilates. I do feel good when the class is over but the hour process is not always pretty. Recently, when my granddaughter turned 14, she became old enough to take classes at the gym.

So became a time of three generations stretching together on Saturday mornings. Where else can you go and have a beautiful smiling young girl run to greet you, throw her arms around you and tell you she loves you? My yoga mat is already in place and we're ready to go. (Well, as ready as I can be!) We stretch, pose, do downward dog, child's pose and more. At times she struggles to bend just right. I'm glad I'm not the only one. While creating healthier bodies, we're also creating special memories. I'll stretch for that!

Friday, March 4, 2011

SOLSC! Day 4 of 31 Lots of Blocks!

Alphabet blocks
Building and bristle blocks
Concrete and city blocks
Did you know
Every block is square?
Four-block writing
Geometry blocks
Handmade heirloom blocks
IP blocks
Just any blocks.
Knife blocks
Lego blocks
Marbled glass blocks
Nesting blocks
Opaque blocks
Puzzle blocks
Quilt blocks
Stacking blocks
Towering blocks
Unit blocks
Wooden blocks
X-tra piles of blocks
Yoga blocks

Writer's block no more!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

SOLSC! Day 3 of 31 Three Late Thoughts

Three late thoughts on a Thursday night about my newly named blog, Keep In Touch:
...a friend who is in constant battle with cancer, another with a beautiful and now healthy baby who just came home after arriving in this world three months early
...the needs of my mother who just moved into a new home, the excitement of my grandson's move into the toddler room at daycare
...long-time friends and friendships yet to be made

Looking forward to the weekend and writing before the clock is thinking about striking midnight!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SOLSC! 2011 2 of 31: A School for Sudan

This summer I ordered Linda Sue Park's new book, A Long Walk to Water. I was eager to read it because Ms. Park is a local author (hometown pride!) and I've been interested in the unimaginable stories of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. These children, young children endured conditions that hardly seem possible to have survived. This book is based on the true stories of some of these "Lost Boys" and their eventual journey to the United States. Last night I had the good fortune to hear one of these "Lost Boys", who is now a grown man, speak. His story rolled through my head all day. Though he overcame great odds, his story last night was of the school that he plans to build in the Sudan. When he returned to the Sudan for a visit after many years in the U.S., the children he spoke with had a plea to him to please help them go to school. With the support of the non-profit organization he has helped to start, bricks will be formed, a contractor hired and an eight room school  built. The children will go to school, the materials to aid teaching will be minimal, but this small building by our standards will be received as a great institute of learning. We have much more in our schools but take it so for granted. Though this young man has great pride in his citizenship in the United States, his commitment to his land of birth is strong.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SOLSC! 2011 1 of 31

It looks like I'm actually going to do it! For months it's been my nose on the windows of literacy lover blogs, looking in wanting to open the door, but not able to knock. I have been inspired by the sharing that goes on in this community, already benefitting by the generosity of ideas that I have used with children and have shared with colleagues. I am not usually shy, but as I anticipate my participation in the slice of life challenge I actually have a nervous but excited anxiety. So, here's to March and the opportunity it brings!