Tag Archives: #SOL18

Car talk

20 Mar

Thank goodness modern cars have warning lights. I no longer have to remember when to schedule my next oil change – my light will tell me. I felt really on top of things because as soon as the light appeared, I scheduled an oil change for the day and time I wanted. I paid $100 for “Lifetime Oil Change” service when I bought my car in 2006. The dealership  doesn’t offer that anymore.

Yesterday, when I started my car, though, a new light appeared.



Just last year it had come on and I needed a new catalytic converter. Ka-ching!

When I got to school, I scheduled an appointment for this morning. Drop off at 7. Shuttle to school. 7:45 appointment. I might even know the verdict before noon!

In the meantime, I searched online and saw this handy advice:

Possibly the silliest reason that your check engine light is on, a loose, damaged or missing gas cap may cause your check engine light to come on. The gas cap seals the fuel system, maintains pressure and will reduce emissions. A faulty gas cap will increase harmful emissions and can negatively impact efficiency if not replaced.

Before starting the car after school yesterday, I tightened the gas cap, hoping I could cancel the Tuesday morning appointment. Nothing changed, so I will follow through with Plan A.

I am hoping it is something small but fearing I will be shopping for a new car next week during Spring Break.




Ogden Nash in my kitchen

19 Mar

One of the poems my dad recited was “Reflections On Ice-Breaking” by Ogden Nash.

Is Dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

It wasn’t until I was older that I really understood what sort of ice-breaking Mr. Nash meant.

He did however write a number of other reflections and other short poems on rather mundane objects. There are an inordinate number of poems about fruit and vegetables. Here’s one about parsley.

Further Reflections on Parsley

Is gharsley.

Looking in my fridge and around my kitchen, I wrote these poems inspired by Ogden Nash.

Some people find your soapy taste
Reminiscent of toxic waste
I enjoy your cleansing flavor
Sad so many feel disfavor.


Delicious sliced.


Carrot sticks:
Salad’s quick fix.


Mandarin Orange
A few slices


are obscene.

are good fellows.

have rotted.


Hail, kale
You taste stale.

Lean green
You taste clean.

Food fad
You taste bad.

Kale chips












Of course I said yes

18 Mar

When the email came asking me to present at the Spring mini conference for local school librarians, of course I said yes. I’d once been the person coordinating that conference and knew how hard it could be to find someone to present on a Saturday.

When I saw the schedule I balked.

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Who would want to see my presentation when they can see a Newbery honor author? I wondered. I was half hoping and half fearing everyone would want to see her.

Regardless, I spent the week getting my presentation together. I put a link to our Sibert phone calls into my Powerpoint and then wondered about embedding the video right in the presentation. I was surprised to see there was no “download this video” button on YouTube. A quick Google search informed me I didn’t need to download an app, there was an easy way to do so. I was glad because I wanted the clip, just in case I ran out of things to say. By Friday night, I felt ready for whatever Saturday was going to throw at me.

I could have just arrived in time for my presentation, but, presenters attend the mini conference for free. As a morning person, it just made sense to show up early. I drank coffee and reconnected with some former colleagues. I attend a Makey Makey workshop for the first session to keep my nerves at bay. In the break between sessions, I set up my computer and books in the lab.

And then Saturday threw all it had at me.

“Adrienne, our author is running late. Is it OK if we start the second session later than planned?” one of the conference organizers asked me.

Of course I said yes.

And when she came to me again to explain that a communications snafu  had sent Ingrid Law to the wrong school, I was asked to present to the whole group. Of course I said yes.

Like most teachers, I am totally comfortable in front of a room full of kids. Not so for adults. I moved everything into the library and presented to the large group. I was a little nervous starting out, but was okay by the end, I think. I was maybe a little sweaty. I managed to fill the hour, and it was a good thing because although the video ran fine, the speakers didn’t work. In case you’d like to see the video, here it is.



15 Mar


I worried no one would walk out.

I figure a lot of 8th graders, and many 7th graders, would. But 6th graders are on that funny cusp. It is one of the things I love about teaching 6th graders.

The Walkout was schedule for 10:00 a.m. My first class began at 9:50. To my relief, kids came in talking about it. I acted all stern, insisting they sit quietly and read, which is our custom, but inside I was doing a happy dance.

At 9:58, I caught the eye of a girl looking at the clock and gave her a “two-minute” signal.

I got weepy at 10:00 when the majority of my class got up and left.

And then I laughed when, at 10:01, the announcement buzz sounded, not in a call to arms, but in a call for band and choir students to go to their field trip. Two more left.

I was left with 5 kids in class and a heart full of hope for the future.

Good intentions

14 Mar

You know the old saying: The road to H- E – double-hockey sticks is paved with good intentions.

Well, I took that road yesterday.

Last week at our union meeting, we were given the opportunity to purchase orange shirts to wear today and at a rally on the 24th. I ordered and paid for one that evening. I took an order form so the next day at work, I could ask a few colleagues if they wanted one too. I got their particulars (and their money) and sent in the form.

Today we got this perky message:

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I sent an email saying I’d pick mine up that afternoon and was told my school had a bag.

Cool,  I thought, some of the other reps must have ordered shirts, too. So, at lunch, I sent out an email to the two other people who were at the meeting and found out a third person had also emailed them. Trying to be helpful, I sent another email offering to get the bag. Lunch ended and classes were underway and things were busy. The third teacher sent two students to my room with a cheque in an envelope. I didn’t really have a chance to check my email before leaving, and that was when I ended up on that road.

Of course, the third person hadn’t pre-ordered and we had to guess on the size. The only shirts in the bags were the ones I had ordered. I stopped at the library on my way home and checked the time on my phone on the way out to see if I had time to swing by the grocery store. There was a message from one of the other two people asking me go get a shirt for her. Oops.

Definitely double hockey sticks.



Congrats — You are a Giveaways Winner!

13 Mar

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This message appeared in my inbox yesterday morning. Yes, I was a Goodreads Giveaway winner of a copy of this book:


I am not much of a gambler. I don’t buy lottery tickets. When I drive past the highway sign advertising the Powerball  and MegaMillions,  I like to imagine what I’d do with the money if I ever won. Just for the record, last Friday, when I turned in my glitter-covered shamrock, I got a scratch-it lottery ticket. I scratched, but won nothing.

The only real gambling I do is on Goodreads. Sometimes, I like to go into my Goodreads account and click on the Giveaways. I only ever enter giveaways for books I can put in my classroom library. And I never win, until now.

Maybe that shamrock was lucky after all.




The team to beat

11 Mar

Despite the beautiful Spring-like day outside, four students, their families and I spent the better part of the day inside. It was the Regional Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB) tournament.

Last year, this same team were the Middle School State Champs!


This year, we were the team to beat. Maybe you remember that old Avis advertising line, “We try harder”, when they were consistently #2 behind Hertz. Well, we were Hertz. Everybody else was Avis – just a little hungrier than these four.

Our practices the two weeks leading up to the tournament were spotty. One book (Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson) seemed to be their nemesis. It was such a weak point that I kept making a joke out of it as I quizzed them, calling it their favorite book.

They started off a little rocky in their first battle, winning the match, but not with a brilliant score. Fortunately, they had boned up on Rebel Mechanics and got every question about that book.  By the end of the 4 battles of pool play, their mojo had kicked in and we were tied for 5th place and assured a spot on the next “Sweet Sixteen” round. Only Sixteen of the 40+ teams got to continue on.

Their “Sweet Sixteen” battle was probably the hardest fought – a come from behind victory that moved them into the “Elite Eight”. That battle was quick and they were a well-oiled machine again, easily defeating their opponents and jumping into the “Final Four” pool. A nice place to be, but only the top three teams get to go to the State OBOB tournament.

By now, six battles in, they were humming. They took an early lead in their “Final Four”  battle and never really looked back (except for that one answer…).

Their final battle for the day was to determine who got first place and who got second. The pressure was off for both teams. Both would go to State. Across the hall, the two teams battling for the third spot were, perhaps, a little more stressed. Despite the certainty of their place at State, my students did a superb job and triumphed.

The end was almost anticlimactic. Some hurried photos, alone and with the top three teams. Two of my students had also qualified for the next level at tour school Science Fair and had to rush off to take make their presentations.

I’ll give them a break next week. We have parent teacher conferences and only three days of school anyway. But, the following week, we will be back to practicing. There are a few new candidates for nemesis book, I have a brilliant idea on how to comb through each book for details,  and we have a title to defend.


Just another day at USPS

10 Mar


Having assembled the large box, I started packing it, only to realize it was too large. I went over to the stand in the small USPS grocery store outlet and grabbed a medium box.

This was my first time using a priority mail box. I’ve always saved boxes, packed them and wrapped them in brown paper. But the cost of shipping this way has gone up and, over Christmas, I realized that using a standard-sized, priority mail box would be cheaper that a random box, beautifully wrapped in brown paper.

Setting aside the large box, I taped the bottom of the medium box and filled it. My contents fit perfectly – snug, but not squished. I wrote the address on top and began taping the top shut. Dang! I cursed silently when I realized I’d left something out.

Using my keys, I cut the tape, added the missing item then retaped the box. The upside of this setback was that the line, which was five people long when I started, was now only one!

I lifted the box and it felt pretty light. I bet this is under 4 pounds, I mused and I grabbed the smaller of the two customs forms used for shipping to Canada, the parcel’s final destination. I carefully filled out the form and walked between the stanchions whose belts led to the counter. Surprise – I was the head of the line!

As soon as a customer left,  I was called up and I placed my package on the counter.

“Canada,” said the clerk. “Did you fill out the form?”

“Yes,” I replied, smiling and waving the small form. The clerk furrowed her brow.

“It feels pretty light,” I said, hopefully.

“Hmmm, let’s see,” she replied, setting the package on the scale. “Four pounds, five ounces. You’ll need the other form.” I groaned inwardly.

She pointed to my left. “Just fill it out over there, then step back here when you are ready, as long as no other customer is here.”

Grumbling a little, I wrote the exact same information from the small form onto the large form. Maybe I grumbled a bit. Once done, and back at the counter, the rest of the process went smoothly. Despite the small obstacles I had encountered in mailing it, I drove home happy in the knowledge that the package was finally on its way.



Lucy’s Seven

8 Mar

I’ve never had a dog that liked any kind of citrus, but Lucy loves mandarin oranges. She has mastered the art of getting what she wants à la Steven Covey.

1. Stephen Covey says: Be proactive.

Lucy says: Always be in the room where the mandarin is being eaten.


2.Stephen Covey says: Begin with the end in mind.

Lucy says: Visualize that tiny morsel of deliciousness sliding down your throat and into your tummy.


3.Stephen Covey says: Put first things first.

Lucy says: It is important and urgent that I get a slice of that mandarin.


4.Stephen Covey says: Think win-win. 

Lucy says: A piece for Mommy, a piece for Lucy. Sounds like a win-win, to me!


5.Stephen Covey says: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Lucy says: You want me to to sit. Look, I am sitting for the next slice.


6. Stephen Covey says: Synergize.

Lucy says: Together, Mommy and I can polish off that mandarin in no time.


7.Stephen Covey says: Sharpen the saw.

Lucy says: We’ve had a snack, let’s take one more walk before bedtime.

Lucy's Nose.jpg


Discombobulated and covered in glitter

7 Mar

I woke at my regular time, that Tuesday morning, and went through my usual morning routine. Except it was a Tuesday. And I’d been watching the price of airline tickets. And  I had a feeling today was the day to place my order.

It was and I did. I felt relief and triumph, until I looked at the clock.

Oh, crap! I bolted to my feet and hurried through the rest of my pre-work ritual.

Lunch packed? Check.

Coffee pot unplugged? Check.

Teeth brushed? Check.

I got dressed, took Lucy out for a shorter-than-usual walk, then exited the house. By then, I was running 15 minutes late.

And, of course, there was frost and I had to scrape the car. Add five more minutes to my lateness. Could this day get anymore more discombobulated? I wondered.

Of course it could!

I gained five minutes on my drive and was, once more,  only running 15 minutes late. We had a PLT meeting. On my way I found and picked up a few sparkly Shamrocks that were hidden around the school, for prizes at our staff breakfast on Friday. Maybe my luck was changing.


Thank goodness. I had a first period plan. As I scrambled to get my morning together, I noticed little dark flecks on my papers. I blew them off unsure where they had come from. Just before the kids came in, I finally made a cup of tea and ate my banana. In my haste, I dropped a piece of banana. As I bent to pick it off the floor, I noticed sparkles on my top. Oh man, those sparkly shamrocks left a mess on me! I brushed off what I could see and got ready for the onslaught.

I felt shaky through my first class and warned them that I was off my game. They are a great group of kids and just rolled with my discombobulation. I laughed out loud when a student asked me why I was wearing glitter. I simply told them that today,  I was just “discombobulated and covered in glitter”.



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