Archive | March, 2015

Revisiting my one little word #SOL15

23 Mar


The lab results from my annual physical are in. There’s mostly good news. but, there are small problems. Despite eating healthy green the week before I went for the physical, my blood sugar and cholesterol were a bit above where they would be. Not so high we need to intervene medically, but high enough that I have to do something.

My OLW for 2015 is Shift, and my doctor’s prescription is more exercise and healthier eating.

I used to be obsessed with making soup. Every weekend, I would make a pot of soup, divide it into  bowls for the week and freeze the extra. When I did that, I had good labs. So, here it is my first day of spring break and I will be leafing through my favorite soup recipe books looking for things I can make this week so I can stock up and go back to work prepared to be a healthier eater.

Wondering at my two favorite soup cookbooks? Here they are

Twelve Months of Monastery Soups by Brother Victor D’Avila-Latourrette and The Soup Bible by Debra Mayhew.

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2015 Hub Reading Challenge Check-In #6

22 Mar


This week, I finished two books for the HUB reading Challenge. Quite frankly, with report cards to finish, I am amazed that I read any!

First, I read, the graphic novel  This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.


This was FANTASTIC! Here is the publisher’s summary:

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

This book felt so real. I could have been either of those girls, doing what they did, thinking like they thought. I think the Tamaki cousins really captured the essence of girls on the edge of adolescence.

Then, I read the book I’ve picked up & put down a lot this year.


The earlier picking up & putting down did not involve any reading of this book. It involved me, picking up the book and thinking “UGH, a basketball book.” And putting it down. So, I finally opened it and read it. So not what I was expecting. I will be honest, I skimmed some of the basketball parts, but the story of the family really got me. As a twin, I loved the twin angle and I think Alexander really gets the complicated relationship twins can have. It isn’t always Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap. Written in verse, the book moves quickly. At first, I had a little trouble distinguishing which of the two boys was talking, but eventually, I got it.

I highly recommend both of these books.

Should I call? #SOL15

22 Mar


I live in a quiet neighborhood. And the ten-unit condominium I live in is very quiet. Most of us are over 40, and one person has a 3-year old. All the units but one are owner occupied. It’s not Melrose Place, and thank goodness.

Our peace was disturbed a few nights ago, when I was sleeping with my window open. I was awoken just after midnight by a neighbor yelling  and pounding on her door. As I listened to “Open the f***ing door,____!” over and over, I lay in bed trying to figure out what was happening.  There are three couples in our condo. The voice didn’t sound like Jennifer next door, or Sue two doors the other way. Could it be the renter? She and I seem to move on very different schedules and I’ve only seen her twice, What was her name? donna? Debbie? I’m pretty sure it was something with a D.

I listened some more, trying to determine the exact location of the door as she continued. I also learned more as she yelled.  I finally made out the name she was yelling: Duncan. Duncan, inside the home, had stolen her keys and she was locked out. Apparently some jealousy was involved and Duncan had been drinking. I couldn’t determine if she had been drinking, too. her words seemed clear, but she was yelling loudly around midnight on a Wednesday.

Once it was clear in my mind, I wondered, should I help? If so, how could I help? I am 50, short and in no condition to help if this becomes violent, so going outside was not an option. Should I call the police? I should call the police. Just as I came to that conclusion, the tone changed outside. I could hear a conversation. Then I heard a whisper, “The police are on their way.” It seems Sue and Andrew discussed all that was going on in my head and had reached the same conclusion a little more quickly.

After that, the yelling stopped, the police arrived. Discussions, doors opened. I haven’t seen Donna/Debbie  since that evening. Things have quieted down and I hope everything is OK.


Fixing the toilet #SOL15

21 Mar

A year or so ago, my toilet started “ghost flushing”, suddenly flushing on its own. After a quick Google search, I determined I didn’t have a leaking tank and  all I had to do was replace the flapper.


That repair cost less than $5.00 and took about 5 minutes. Yeah me! I felt like I just earned a degree from P. U. (Plumber’s University)

So. when my tank seemed to stop filling this week. I felt pretty confident that I could fix it and added that to my Spring Break “to do ” list.

It’s been coming on gradually. At first, I noticed that there was a 5 second pause between flushing and refilling that hadn’t been there before. Every day, the pause seemed to get longer until, Thursday, it stopped refilling completely. I’ve been filling a bucket in the tub and manually refilling the toilet tank, until this morning.

Last night I adjusted the float adjustment screw on the end of the floating ballcock. I figured it couldn’t hurt. This morning, things were back to normal. Woohoo! I just earned an advanced degree from P.U.

I am cautiously optimistic that the problem is fixed. I suspect that I will eventually have to replace the fill valve, but I have watched the YouTube videos and know that this is a task I can accomplish. I’ll just think of it as my post-graduated work at P. U.

Countdown to Spring Break #SOL15

20 Mar


It is almost 6 a.m and that means:

9 hours

540 minutes

32,400 seconds

10 division word problems

a dozen writing conferences

1 recess

about 10 pages of The Lonely Lake Monster,  our read aloud

1 more sack lunch

1 recess

23 report cards to hand out

until Spring Break begins

but who’s counting?


19 Mar

My love affair with ravioli started early, with the canned variety.


As I grew older and my palate became more sophisticated, I ventured beyond the can.

For fancy dinners my family would go to an Italian restaurant on Barton Street in Hamilton, Ontario called The Trocadero. That is where I first encountered homemade ravioli. It was a wonder and a revelation. They made marvelous cheese ravioli. Delectable  little half-moons stuffed with cheese and seasoned to perfection. The restaurant is still there, still serving Italian food, though I;ve not been there for many, many years.


While attending the University of Toronto, I told my boyfriend about my love affair with ravioli. These were the days before the internet, so we went to the Toronto Public Library  near Bloor and Yonge


and found a book that gave step-by-step instructions on how to make ravioli at home. We bought the ingredients on the way back to my apartment and spent a glorious day making, then eating our ravioli, until we were as stuffed as the ravioli themselves.

Since then, ravioli options have exploded in the grocery store. Cheese, meat, three cheese, four cheese, cheese and spinach, butternut squash,  lobster…. The options are endless, though a simple cheese ravioli is my preference. I judge an Italian restaurant by the quality of their cheese ravioli.

When kids ask, “Miss Gillespie, What is you favorite food?” I always answer, “Ravioli, but not the kind in the can.” I want them to know there is an alternative out there so that, someday, they might have  culinary love affair with a food of their own. Maybe it will be ravioli.

Favorite Names #SOL15

18 Mar


A week or so ago, my brother-in-law reminded me of a student I once taught, named Henry Heppenheimer. The details about him are sketchy in my brain, but his name is not. i have a collection of student names that I like and his is one of my faves.

Another favorite I’ve collected is Oupasong Sisombath, or Oupie, as we called her. How can you not LOVE a kids name Oupie?! She was in grade two and had a brother named Monivong, but that wasn’t as fun to say. They were refugees from Cambodia at the first school I taught at. That’s where I started to learn about refugee kids. Aside from my 3 years in Medellin, Colombia, where I taught the very wealthy, my career has been at mostly  low-income schools, with a lot of immigrant families.

This year, I have three kids in my class from Nepal. And one from Afghanistan.

One of my favorite name stories is from a few years ago. I taught a boy named Nermin. His parents were Bosnian and fled the Balkan war in the 1990’s for Germany, where Nermin was born. When I had him in 4th grade, his mother was pregnant. When he came back to school after his brother was born. Nermin was shaking his head. All he said was, “They named him Ermin!”

There are host of names that teachers collect. Angel, a 4th grader from my first years of teaching, was the first kid to call me the B-word.  There is the “Names I’d Never Name my Kid” list, based on naughty or difficult children we’ve taught. She was the first on that list for me.

I wonder, what names do you remember?

The Kate Greenaway Medal 2015 shortlist

18 Mar

The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. It is named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her fine children’s illustrations and designs. 

Here is the shortlist

The Promise by Laura Carlin (illustrator) and Nicola Davies (author) (Walker Books).


Jim’s Lion by Alexis Deacon (illustrator) and Russell Hoban (author) (Walker Books).


Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill (Flying Eye Books).


Dark Satanic Mills by John Higgins and Marc Olivent (illustrators) and Julian Sedgwick and Marcus Sedgwick (authors) (Walker Books).

Dark Satanic


Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner (Macmillan Children’s Books).


Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell (Macmillan Children’s Books).


 Tinder by Sally Gardner (author) and David Roberts (illustrator) (Orion Children’s Books).



The Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Hodder Children’s Books)

Rules of Summer


The 2015 Carnegie Medal Shortlist Announced

17 Mar

The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals are the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book awards. Often described by authors and illustrators as ‘the one they want to win’ – they are the gold standard in children’s literature.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal is awarded by children’s librarians for an outstanding book for children and young people. 

So, without further ado, here are the shortlistees for this year’s Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals, the award chosen by librarians and famed for being the medal that authors and illustrators most want to win.

The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2015 shortlist

When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury).


Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)



Tinder by Sally Gardner (author) and David Roberts (illustrator) (Orion Children’s Books).


 Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s Books).


The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children’s Books).



Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman (Walker Books).

Buffalo soldier


The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean (Usborne Books)


More Than This by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)

More than this


Knitting projects #SOL15

17 Mar

Today I looked back over the SOL posts I wrote last year and laughed because I made a similar post to today’s on March 6th, when I introduced the project and March 30th, when I finished it. So, today, you get the 2015 version.

My church has a school and the school holds an auction. I knit for the auction. This year’s project is a hat, gloves, scarf set.

IMG_1839 IMG_1840



I used to have an aversion to variegated yarn, but have fallen in love with it recently. I think it is the rhythm of the repeating pattern. Although it is the exact same yarn in all three projects, the colors manifest themselves in slightly different ways.

I was really happy with how these all turned out. I thought the scarf would kill me because it is a boring two-row repeat, for hundreds and hundreds of rows. I made it through series 1-3 of Prime Suspect.

Knitting gloves has become a new passion and some family members might be getting some gloves for Christmas. Might is the operative word. I have two other projects lined up; one for a baby shower coming in late April (I hope) and another will be the sweater I knit each year to raffle off at the Oregon Basset Hound Games. I know what the baby gift will be, but I’m still working out the design for the sweater.

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