#sol17: Reflections

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day 31 of #sol17


     And, suddenly, Day 31 is here.

     On the 1st of March, I really didn't think I would make it to March 2nd in this year's Slice of Life Challenge.  It has been an incredibly busy school year for me, and I did not think I would be able to commit to writing every single day.  Yet, when I set my mind to something, I really try to follow through.  This year, I had some classes joining me, and it they were going to do it, I was too.  

     We did it.

     Well, just about...  I did miss 2 days right around my daughter's birthday.  I remembered at 11:30pm CST (which is past the deadline here in the midwest) so I didn't post.  Rather than make it up the next day, I skipped writing again because birthday festivities got the best of me.  But, other than that, 29 days were blogged and posted on the correct day.  I can be proud of that.

     I'm even more proud of the student writers who blogged with their classes!  We had 7 classes blog: Ross/Waszak, Carrillo, Flowers, Ivnik, Harvey/Bludeau, Milford, and Haar.  Perhaps not every child blogged every day, but they wrote and commented on most school days.  Some classes did more, some did less, but all committed to giving their students a voice.  We saw their writing stamina grow, their sense of audience increase, and their feeling as writers become established.  I am so proud of our student writers!  For the past 2 months (thanks to One Book, One School and Slice of Life) my phone has been getting over 200+ email notifications a day from Kidblog for post approvals.  I'm going to miss all that writing, but perhaps not all the emails.  :)

     One special shout out is to +Kathy Ross for writing every day in March, too!  She has been writing on Facebook and her blog, with such great memories and stories from the heart.  Thanks, Kathy, for becoming a writer yourself this month.  You have a voice that wants to be heard (and read) by others!


     We ended the month by recognizing our classes at a PBIS assembly.  Here is a representative from each class receiving their award!

     My one BIG regret?  I did not comment nearly as much as I wanted to.  I usually wrote 2-3 comments on teacher blogs, and wanted to do more.  It was the student blogs, though, that I really want to comment on more next year.  I was approving posts more than commenting, so I read them but just couldn't comment on that many kids.   That's my regret.

     Overall, I feel like a writer!  

     Until next year, or next Tuesday, slicers!


#sol17: Charlotte's Web

Day 30 of #sol17

     There is just something about that pig...  Or, maybe, just maybe, it's the spider that gets me every time.  I bet it's a combination of the two.

     I have always had a problem reading Charlotte's Web aloud.  I had to pass the book to my co-teacher once mid chapter, and then again to a co-worker when I was a guest reader in a classroom.  I just can't make it through the book without crying.  The tears, however, don't always come at the same spot.  The sentimental sap that I am sometimes cries at the loss of a friend, the growing older of a young child, the selflessness of a friend, or the choice to stay by new friends.  There is just one guarantee: I will cry.

     My children came home with Charlotte's Web for their One Book, One School title a month or so ago, and I immediately knew I might be crying in front of my own kids.  I secretly hoped that my husband would end up reading those heartfelt chapters, just to spare my children the ugly tears that might be shed.  No such luck.

     Last night, we had three chapters to go.  We settled in, and I made it through the first chapter.  I then felt the tears start to well up.  My voice started to crack.  My kids both stopped and looked at me, suddenly curious.  I tried to continue on.  It just wasn't going to happen.

     "I just can't do this," I said between tears.  "Brian?"  No response.

     "Daddy, Mommy needs you.  She can't read anymore."

     My husband came into the room, awoken from his sleep, to find his crying wife.  He looked slightly confused, yet sat at the end of the bed and continued the story to the end.  My hero.  I could quietly cry in peace.

     Today we went to the family literacy event celebrating Charlotte's Web, and I am happy to report that I did not cry during the crafts or the activities.  It seems that the words of E.B. White alone are the cause of my tears.  :)

#sol17: Spaces

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day 29 of #sol17

     I am frustrated.  I  was typing a blog post the other  day, and  when I was done I  reread it back. I thought  I  was going  crazy, but there  were a lot of extra spaces  between my words.  I  thought it was pretty odd,  deleted the spaces, and went to sleep.  I figured I was just typing too fast, too late at night.

     Funny thing is, the next day the spaces were still there when I typed.  Randomly there were just extra spaces between my words.  Not all the time,  but enough to drive  me crazy.  Like that extra space between "drive" and "me" in that last sentence.

     Today, when I was working on curriculum documents, the  plans in Google Drive had more space in them than outer space.  OK, that might be a  slight exaggeration.  

     By process of elimination, I narrowed it down to my spacebar.  I think it is mad at me.

     I just saw my  cursor jump an extra space when I was indenting.  

     It didn't do it that time when I was indenting.  Weird.

     Just looking at this post with random double spaces between some words is driving me crazy, but I can't delete them because then I would really look insane.  (I typed a whole sentence with no double spaces.  Make that three.  Trying four...  I'm on a streak!!!)

     I googled it, and it suggests I might need to try canned air, or to replace the keyboard.  Just the thought of sending my computer off to get serviced gives me anxiety.  

     Also, this is kind of weird, but it seems like some people spell it spacebar (compound word) and others spell it space bar (with a space).  Doesn't the second one seem more fitting, since it has the word space in it?  Now I am just ramble typing, just waiting to see if my spacebar/ space bar sticks.

     Well, for now it seems to have stopped adding spaces.  I think it is because I am now typing very deliberately.  At least it gave me a topic for day 29.  :)


#sol17: Dunkin

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day 28 of #sol17


There is nothing quite like you,
my comfort in a styrofoam cup.
The days just seem more doable with you in my hand.
A medium with cream,
a present from a friend,
delivered with a smile!
Appreciation and caffeine fill my cup. 
Oh, how I love you, Dunkin.  

#sol17: Speaking Narrative

Monday, March 27, 2017

Day 27 of #sol17

     The experiences in our life are just like the pages in a novel.  Each event that happens, every relationship we have, every success or failure we experience, all contribute to the bigger plot line of our lives.  Our story is being written as we spend our days, and only when we choose to reread our past do we see how those parts connect to our present.

     I started my day speaking with a teacher about the idea that we don't just move on, because those experiences shape us.  I somehow then spent the day finding random moments of my past, and reflecting on how they have somehow affected me today.

     It's days like today that you may want to avoid me, as simple conversations turn into narratives.  Small moments of my life spilled out of me.  Stories of my aunt's school experiences, unit lessons that spoke to me, my manager days at McDonalds, college loans, my experience with CAT tests as a student, and my past weekend.  Today I spoke in narrative.  I just can't close the book once it has been opened.  

     I'm going to blame #sol17.   This slicer now slices orally, too.  Was that part of the challenge? :)

#sol17: Gratitude Tired

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day 26 of #sol17

     Today I am filled with so much gratitude that I have too much to say.  The ideas are floating in my mind so quickly that I can't really grab onto just one of them to write about it.  My daughter turned 7 on Friday, and the whole weekend was spent with family and friends celebrating her.  It truly makes you grateful when you are surrounded by other's love for your child.

      So, this little slice is one great big slice of gratitude.  I'm sure I'll take moments from this past weekend to write more about the moments we had, but for now I am just sitting in a quiet house, listening to the hum of the dishwasher and the tapping of the keys on my computer, embracing the quiet moment to reflect on it, but also tired enough where this will be good enough for now.  I think I am #GratitudeTired.  You know, that state where you are mentally and physically drained because you are so filled with appreciation for the moments and people in your life that you can't do much more than sit and ponder it all.  That's where I'm at.

       In a few moments, I will be #GratitudeSleeping.  If that's such a thing, of course.  :)


#sol17: A Purse Poem

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Day 25 of #sol17

Dumped Out...

Dum Dums: 3 mystery, a bubblegum, a root beer, a blue raspberry and a sour apple
A  cherry Tootsie  Pop (which I'm now eating) 
One lone burgundy glove
A dentist appointment reminder for next August
3 writing utensils: a yellow highlighter, a broken pencil, and a hot pink Paper Mate
2 ponytail holders
3 apple strawberry GoGo Squeezes
2 bags of Goldfish (rainbow)
1 bag of animal crackers
Lotion samplers:  2 CeraVes, 1 Aquaphor, 1 Aveeno
#25 of The Baby-Sitters Club: Mary Anne and the Search for Tigger
My wallet
2 random school IDs from past years
A Hot Wheels toy
5 crumpled up receipts
A smashed up peanut butter sandwich from Friday (my forgotten lunch)
2 things of sanitizer
An orange and blue pipe cleaner, twirled together to make a friendship bracelet
A dime
A birthday cake order receipt

I was looking for that last thing, and ended up finding a bunch of unexpected items in my purse in the process.

#sol17: #d100literacy

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 22 of #sol17

     I spend today with about 30 teachers working on our vertically aligned ELA Curriculum, and we wanted to create a philosophy statement.  To gather all our ideas, we did a mini Twitter chat answering 3 questions:

Q1 What is/are your non-negotiable(s) in literacy instruction?

Q2 What should our purpose be in literacy instruction?

Q3 What makes our literacy unique in D100?

     We will use those tweets to develop a philosophy, with the three questions asking for different perspectives.  Q1 is about what we as an individual find as a non-negotiable.  Q2 was more about the purpose of the group, and Q3 was more the values of our district as a whole. 

     The activity made me think about more that just literacy.  Life is full of things that we personally feel strongly about, and yet within a system or structure other things might be valued more.  I know I personally want to remember to hold true to what I believe, while also being respectful of the perspectives that others may have.  It's tough to do when the world gets busy and we just try to keep up.  We either forget to remember what we value, or we lose sight of our purpose, or we just remember the vision others want us to see.  I am personally going to make a better attempt at remembering and valuing all three.

     Thanks to all the talented teachers who spent time collaborating today!

#sol17: Whistle Pops

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 21 of #sol17

     It's funny how a picture can bring back a flood of memories in an instant.  

     I saw this lollipop image on Google one day, and was whisked back to my music making candy eating days.  I remember blowing on my whistle sucker and making a tune that was probably sweeter to the tongue than sweeter to the ear.  After a while, the top of the sucker would get so filled with saliva that you'd have to slurp it out to return it to it's musical glory.  Eventually, the lollipop would start to cave in at the top, and your whistle would just become a regular sucker.  It was at this point that I would often toss it into the trash, the novelty gone.

     Isn't it sad that generations of children won't know the joy that is caused by having lollipops that are also musical instruments?  Fear not, it turns out that many of my old favorites are just a click of a mouse away.  

     My next thought is, now I know why I have so many cavities.  :(


#sol17: A Phone Poem

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day 20 of #sol17

I'm going to borrow the format of a "phone poem" from this blogger!

7- Jet's Pizza, how I love you so!
8- Square pizza with crust that makes me smile

2- Hawaiian Pizza?
6- Or do we order BLT again?
3- Seriously, it's good.

1- Tomorrow.
5- I just planned our dinner.

(Ok, I feel like I cheated with a number that has so many zeros, but that's the right number!)

#sol17: Little Red

Day 19 of #sol17

     Little Red, walking down the path to her grandma's house, or so the story goes...  

     This Little Red was just taking a walk near our house on an unusually warm winter day.  I had long forgotten that skirt I had bought years ago at a fest, and the sweater I bought a year ago because it reminded me of Little Red, and the book that I bought who knows how long ago.  But on this unusually warm winter day, I happened to find the two pieces of clothing lying on the floor near each other.  They had been pulled out of the drawers during dress up and forgotten again.  On most days, I would have just put them away.  Today, though, we decided to spring into a story.

     It took me but a minute to find the book, and then we drove to the lake.  We stopped for a quick read of a classic tale, since she was dressed the part.  Then off we went down the path, not on our way to grandma's, but just on our hopeful way towards spring.  Well, at least for the day...  The Big Bad Wolf of winter was hiding, it turned out, so I'm glad we had this day in the fresh air.

#sol17: Mario Kart Lessons

Saturday, March 18, 2017

     I hear joyful shrieks paired with angry yells as my children and their friend play video games downstairs.  The moment changes from celebration of a digital victory to a volcano of defeat, spewing its disappointment all over my family room.  Who knew Mario Kart could be such an emotional rollercoaster?

     Growth mindset is a hard thing to have when your neighbor is better than you at video games.

     It makes me think about all the things that I am willing to do in front of other people, and the things I refuse to have an audience for.  I have no problem teaching lessons or giving PD to staff, but I will never parallel park to get there.  I mean, what if someone is watching out the window and sees me fail?  Worse yet, sees me fail while damaging some unsuspecting car?  That fear of failure with an audience can make us fail before we even start.

     My family room once again returned to a more stable climate.  Polite conversation and teamwork have returned, and their shouts are more comedic in nature.  I feel proud, like my son may have learned it's ok to lose sometimes.

     And then I realize that our neighbor is intentionally letting my son win.

     I guess some lessons are not going to be learned today, but I now realize just how much empathy my neighbor has.  Here's to losing and growing another day, during yet another Mario Kart race.

(I did, however, tell my son that the next time he cries over coming in 2nd place, I'll just turn off the game.  Maybe I'm just too used to being in 12th, but that's just crazy. 2nd place tears get no empathy here.)

#sol17: Gold

Friday, March 17, 2017

Day 17 of #sol17

     Today is St. Patrick's Day, so I was on the lookout for little green footprints.  Streaks of green and pots of gold were on everyone's mind, and emerald was the fashionable color of the day.  Did I find any gold?  You bet I did!  While I did not find a rainbow, nor the pot of gold that should be at the end of it, I did find treasures all day.  Here are the pieces of gold I found...

     -A teacher whose voice and courage will help our students battling immigration issues

     -A donut covered in coconut and chocolate

     -Kinders who found the leprechaun tracks and explained their traps to me

     -Administrators working together to be the best they can be

     -New sketchnoters sketchnoting!

     -Teachers willing to have honest conversations at difficult times

     -Random St. Pat's day greetings from my coworkers

     -The promise of the Baby Sitters Club movie, purchased today for a student

     -Corned beef and cabbage with my family

     -The excitement my kids had for Liam the Leprechaun

     -My iced coffee after school

     -My dog allowing me to dress her up in green

     -My daughter's book order arrived!

     If I had a pot, it would be full of gold.  Perhaps not the kind that could fill my bank account, but certainly the kind that fills my heart.


#sol17: 10:55pm CST

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 16 of #sol17

The ideas are not coming, and it is 10:55 CST.  

I have 5 minutes to find inspiration before my deadline arrives.  

And now I only have 4 minutes.

It was a 






I think this is as good as it's going to get for right now.

Perhaps tomorrow my ideas will be found in a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Will I be that lucky?

#sol17: Food Pets

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Day 15 of #sol17

     A few weeks ago my kids and I went to the bank, which was located inside of a grocery store.  I made my deposit, and we went on our merry way.  

     When we got outside, I saw that my daughter was holding a little orange.  We did not actually go shopping, so I was a bit confused.  

      "Where did you get that orange?"

      "It was on the floor at the bank.  I kicked it."

      "So why are you holding it now?"

      "It's my new pet orange."

      That's great.  A pet orange.  My strong willed daughter took it home, and washed her new pet.  She gave it a name (which I do not remember) and carried it around the house for a few hours.  The next day she probably greeted him again, but there were no big, elaborate bonding experiences between the two.  In fact, I think my husband tossed him in the garbage when she wasn't looking.  

     Weeks went by, and bedtime arrived, and that's when she suddenly remembered her pet orange.  She came running down to the kitchen on a mission to find him.

      "Where is my pet orange?" she demanded.

      "In the garbage,"  replied her dad.  "You would have had to call him Moldy if we had kept him."

      She burst into tears.  She is always one disappointment away from a face full of tears.  In this case, I had no sympathy.  

      "K, it was an orange."

      She looked up at me through those big tears, and just stared.  I could tell she was thinking of her comeback, and then said, "Fine.  I'll just find another pet that is food."  She walked around the kitchen, inspecting the various options that were at her fingertips: a cookie, an apple, a fruit cup.  She finally made her choice (only because I kept reminding her that it was bedtime) and a new family member was born.  Welcome to the world, Lollipop O'Donnell.

     She took her pet, dressed him up a bit, left him on the kitchen table, and promptly forgot about him forever.  Kids.

#sol17: Word Problem

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Day 14 of #sol17


Word Problem of the Day:

If I drive 22 miles to work one way, traveling an average speed of 45 mph, and it only snows 3-4 inches but no snow plows are in sight, how long will in take to arrive at school?

2 hours

#sol17: My Math Autobiography

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Day 13 of #sol17

My Math Autobiography (format borrowed by Terierrol)

1.  One dog: Snoopy
2.  Two kids: a 1st grader and a 2nd grader
3.  Three: the number of lenses I have for my camera, which I take everywhere
4.  Four: the number of leaves on a 4 leaf clover, and I'm a Walsh O'Donnell
5.  Five dollars in my wallet makes me feel rich
6.  Six: the number of inches of snow forecast for tomorrow, and I really don't like snow!
7.  Seven colors in the rainbow, and I call myself a rainbow spotter
8.  Eight nieces and nephews, if you count my puppy nephew Payton, too...
9.  Nine: The number of years I worked at McDonalds and The Undergrad Library combined
10. Ten fingers on my hands, one of which wears my wedding ring of 14 years and counting
11. Eleven: my target bedtime on a school night
12.    12:12, and it's cousin 2:12, are always on the clock when I look at it.
13.    Thirteen is my birthday, my wedding date, the day of the month I passed National Board twice, and the 13th time I saw Tim McGraw in concert I touched his hand!  :)

#sol17: I Love You More

Day 12 of #sol17

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you more."

"I love you more than an elephant." (my son)

"I love you more than 1,000 cookies." (my daughter)

     I guess now we are measuring our love comparisons in tons, and calories consumed.  Either way, I'll take both.

#sol17: Stuffed Animal School

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Day 11 of #sol17

     Bins are being overturned.  Chairs are being moved.  Name tags are being made.  Stuffed animal school is in session.

     We were supposed to go to dance class thing morning, but overslept after their big grade school talent show last night.  We might have been able to make it to dance, but the kids didn't want to go.  They were tired.  I was tired.  But I was still grumpy.  We could have made it.  Maybe.  I took away all technology, because you don't skip a class that makes you healthy to play on some mindless device.  I think those were my frustrated words when my son requested his iPad.

     I retreated back to my own room, ready to blog an angry mom blog about my frustration with keeping up with life.  But then, I saw the movement between their rooms begin.

     "Mom, I need your phone to play music.  My teacher plays calm music."

     "How do you spell Annie?"

     "Evan, can I use one of your desks?  I don't know how they are going to sit at these desks."

      A complaint came that the basket I gave them wouldn't be a good desk, because it was wicker and bumpy.  I reminded them that stuffed animals don't actually write, so it would probably be fine.

      Then, school started, and morning announcements began.  "Be the best you can.  MAP testing will begin on April 1st, so get a good night's sleep on March 31st.  Now it's time for joke of the day:  Why would a kid talk to his stuffed animal?  Because he's weird.  Ha ha ha.  Time for the Pledge: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Stated of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Go Bulls!  Go Patriots!  And, like we always say, GO BOBCATS!"

     GO BOBCATS was shouted from both rooms in unison.

     My son just came in and informed me that his kids were working on writing.  Good choice, Mr. Evan.  I think my daughter's class is currently in art.

     Dance class would have ended now, but school is still in session.  No more need for an angry mom blog, but perhaps next Saturday morning we will set our alarms clocks.  They can play school after dance next week.


#sol17: Plans

Friday, March 10, 2017

Day 10 of #sol17


It's great to have them.

And then you make new plans, because life happens.

Or you just forget your old plans.  

But you still have plans.  

Because plans are important.

Or maybe they aren't that important.

At least not this week.

Oh well.

#sol17: Crossing Guard Greetings

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day 9 of #sol17

     I rarely get to drive my kids to school or pick them up, except when someone is sick or our school calendars just didn't line up right.  Today, someone was sick.

     After we got my daughter and she buckled herself in, we headed for home.  We were talking about her day, and she suddenly yells out:

     "Stop and roll down the window!"

     "Why on earth would I do that?"

     "It's Miss Audrey!"

     Yep, my kids wanted to roll down the window and stop and talk to the elderly crossing guard.  The irony in this is that they NEVER walk to school.  Ever.  This makes one think, how would they know the crossing guard if they never actually cross the street?

     It turns out that my mom is the friendliest woman on the planet.  I discovered this when my son was in kindergarten, and they got a valentine from the crossing guard.  My daughter didn't even go to the school at the time!  I probed for more information, and found out that they stop at the corner, roll down the window, and have conversations with her twice a day, just because.  They now exchange presents for all the major holidays, too.  She even sends them thank you cards via the post office mail.  Not quite sure how that happened, either...

     And that, in a nutshell, is my mom.  She has a heart of gold, and know more humans than most.  I just had no idea how much my daughter was like her, until today.

#sol17: Tears and Coffee

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Day 8 of #sol17

    "Can I help you?"

    "A med- medium coffee coffee with um cr cr cream."

     Was I just barely able to order my coffee through my tears?  Well, that's a first.

     I have always been known as a crier.  Or is it cryer?  I don't even know if that's a word.  What I do know is that I cry.  A lot.  It's just the unexpected tears at a Dunkin Donuts that took me by surprise.

     This morning, I listened to the new Ed Sheeran album for the first time.  I always find it rare when I can listen to a CD the whole way through, especially on the first go around.  But today, track by track, I found myself making connections to my life.

     No, I don't think I am Ed Sheeran.  But, I did find myself  thinking about my days as a child, playing with my neighbors.

     And I remembered how much I love Tiny Dancer, like my mom.
     And I felt myself picturing my daughter falling in love someday.

     And I pictured the early days of dating my husband.
     And I found myself thinking about the lessons my family have taught me.

     And I agree that love can change the world in a moment.

     And I decided that I am his Gallway Girl.

     And then I got to track 12, and just LOST IT thinking about so many things.  And, just when I thought I had myself together, I rolled my window down and was barely able to order my coffee.

     I quickly put my sunglasses on over my eyes, got to the window, paid for my coffee, and cried for 5 more minutes before putting my game face on.

     I think, for the benefit of others, I might be skipping track 12 on my commute to school.

     What a talented man...