#sol18: We Did It!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

#SOL18: March 31st

We Did It!


     There were days when it seemed like the mountain was too hard to climb.

     There were moments when staring at my computer, idealess, seemed like a new way of life.

     There were times when I thought, "Yeah.  That was a good run."

     And yet here I am!  It's March 31st, and I did it!  I blogged every day in March for the Slice of Life Challenge.  I almost did it last year, but missed a few days.  This year, not only did I write every day, but I visited classrooms in our district to blog with them, and I read the posts of the student bloggers pictured about almost every night.  

     We did it.  We did it.  WE DID IT.  

#sol18: Easter Basket Wishes

Friday, March 30, 2018

#SOL18: March 30th

Easter Basket Wishes

     Does the Easter Bunny take wish lists when filling Easter baskets?  Also, do adults get Easter baskets if they fill out a wish list?  Here goes, just in case the big bunny wants to fills a basket of goodies for this kid at heart.  I won't be greedy.  I'll keep the list to 5 items.  

1.  Matching pairs of socks for my kids.  I really don't want to fold all those mismatched socks.

2.  A new pair of sunglasses, just in case I never find the 4 pairs I seem to have lost

3.  Milk chocolate candy that does NOT contain any type of marshmallow or crisped rice

4.  Stamps.  I still need to mail a bill, and I ran out.

5.  Those mint chocolate candies that used to be in my basket as a kid.  Such sweet memories!

   I've got my fingers crossed!

#sol18: Lonely at Starbucks

Thursday, March 29, 2018

#SOL18: March 29th

Lonely at Starbucks

     After school I decided to stop and meet some coworkers at Starbucks.  I was running late, so they were already there.  I figured I would just pop in for a late latte.  Or perhaps a tardy tea.  Or a detained decaf?  That's crazy.  I don't do decaf.

     I parked my car and went in.  I opened the door, and scanned the room.  They were nowhere to be seen.  That's impossible.  They should be already here.  Isn't this Lyons?

      I then realized that I was at the wrong Starbucks.  I suppose when there are so many in one area, there is a danger that you can go to the wrong one.  LaGrange and Lyons start with the same letter.  Yeah, it makes total sense that I would mix that up.  Or, I just need a good night's sleep.

      Hey, at least I had a cinnamon almond milk macchiato to keep me company as I stood there, lonely at Starbucks.  

#sol18: Believe in Yourself

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

#SOL18: March 28th

Believe in Yourself

     I found this on the desk of a wise third grader.  It was sitting out on her table, visible and ready to remind her that she needs to believe in the power she has within.  Today, I'm glad I found this gentle reminder in my camera roll.  She helped me believe in myself a bit, too.  I suppose some days we all could use that reminder.  Thanks, 3rd grader.

#sol18: Peeps

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

#SOL18: March 27th


Reese's peanut butter eggs

Snickers eggs

Malted milk balls

Cadbury creme eggs

Jellybeans (the good kind)

     Those are my top 5 Easter candies.  I could eat them all day, even though that would not be wise.  But Peeps?  Nope.  No thank you.  You won't catch me nibbling even an ear.  They are just not my thing.  Once, I attempted to make a microwave S'Mores out of a Peep and it was somewhat decent, but not something I would actively make again.  The coolest thing I have seen happen to a Peep is when my high school science teacher put one into a vacuum pump.  That was entertaining.  But would I eat one?  Not unless I had to.

     So, the other day I confused my kids when I saw a row of fuzzy plush bunny Peeps and told my kids that we just had to take a selfie with them.

     "Mom, we don't even like Peeps!"

     "Of course we don't, sweetie.  I'm just hangin' with my Peeps."

     Ha, ha, ha.  :)

#sol18: Feisty

Monday, March 26, 2018

#SOL18: March 26th


The day was full of possibility.  The sun was shining, and there were slice ideas all around.  So much beauty and opportunity was noticed by my observant blue eyes.

My fresh cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, flavored to Girl Scout Cookie perfection?
A deep conversation with coworkers?
My pizza at lunch?
My daughter dressed up like her current favorite Star Wars droid?
A kind note from a friend?
Oreos to celebrate a birthday?

The day was filled with stories, but no time to slice.   So, I just kept tucking the ideas away for later.

...and then the school day ended, and Mom duties began

...and then the sun set.

I have been sitting here, staring at my computer screen, with a blank slice that can't be written.   I looked at my phone for photo inspiration, and I found how I must look with slicing block.

Slice done.

 (Thanks, Feisty Seal.)

#sol18: Double Dog Dare

Sunday, March 25, 2018

#SOL18: March 25th

Double Dog Dare

     "Mom, I double dog dare you to take Sealy to work."

     Challenge accepted.

#sol18: Eight

Saturday, March 24, 2018

#SOL18: March 24th


     I used to tell people, before I had kids, that I wished I could have a baby that was born 8 years old.  I had this irrational fear of babies, and would go out of my way to not hold them for fear of making them cry.  I had taught 2nd great for ten years the time, and I felt that I knew that age group well.  So, that was my joke.  Can't I just have an 8 year old baby?  Then I'd know how to take care of it.

     I did end up having two babies who were indeed born as newborns, not as 8 year olds.  While there was a large growth curve, I did hold them and feed them and carry them and managed to not make them cry some of the time.  Many times, in fact, I actually calmed them as they cried.  I guess we figured it out together.

     Today, my youngest turns 8.  Yep, 8. How did 8 years pass so fast?

     If they were born 8, I would have missed so many firsts.  Those first steps, first words, first accomplishments, first dance recitals, first everything.  I know there are so many more firsts ahead, yet she's EIGHT.  I am overwhelmed as my youngest starts to wind down 2nd grade and heads towards 3rd.  How. Is. This. Possible?

     A part of me was on to something, though.  Boy, am I enjoying them at this age.   Still so full of love and creativity, yet beginning to be independent and have their own personalities and interests.  I always said kids at this age are the best, and I have 2 of the best around.  I just can't believe how fast time goes.  I am so proud to be their mom.  Who would have known that babies end up teaching you almost as much as we teach them?

     But... eight?

#sol18: Smiles Found on a Thursday

Friday, March 23, 2018

#SOL18: March 23rd

Smiles Found on a Thursday

I wasn't particularly looking to find reasons to smile, but smiles are often found when you least expect them.

     One was hidden behind a sprinkle cookie from my favorite bakery, near the Star Wars birthday
          candles we purchased with them.

     One escaped when my daughter read Officer Buckle and Gloria to me, and Gloria was so Gloria.

     One snuck up on me when a 7th grader surprised me with a hug.

     One illuminated my face when I put a picture of two former students in U of I sweatshirts on my
          desk, knowing that's where they are headed in the fall.

     One was thanks to Smedley Butler.

     One was the result of a text from a coworker.

     Many were caused by Slice of Life posts written by 3rd-5th grade Huskies.

     One was a smile of relief as the last dose of an antibiotic was measured.

     One was for the moment my son said, "Mom, you look sassy in those."  I guess wearing my
          daughter's sunglasses do that.  :)

Smiles.  They sure do make a sunny day even sunnier.

#sol18: Toys R Us Kid

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#SOL18: March 22nd

I'm a Toys R Us Kid

      I'm a Toys R Us Kid.   Well, I guess I always will be in my heart, as they are closing forever.  Sniffle.

      Just last week, I had asked some kids to do some informal blogging by making a Top 10 Toy List.  Much to my surprise (and irritation) many of the 4th graders replied that they don't play with toys.  I remember reading the posts at home, whining about it to my husband.  I was just so disappointed that the kids didn't play with toys and/or that they didn't think it was cool to play with toys.  I did amend the questions to Top 10 Toys/Hobbies, but 13 kids said they don't play with any toys.  I left the class a personal note before the next blog post, saying: 

Dear 4th Graders, 
I am deeply saddened by the number of posts saying that you do not play with toys.  Your iPhones and video games are indeed expensive toys.  I would also count soccer balls and other sports equipment as outdoor toys for people your age.  I would like to remind you that you are children, and your primary job is to be a kid and play.  So, play.  Also, I'm pretty sure you enjoy some nice toys, courtesy of your teachers, at indoor recess.  Play on, young friends.  Love, Mrs. O'Donnell 

     It just made me so sad that they didn't PLAY. Or weren't aware that they were playing.  Or felt like they had to be too old for toys.

     And then Toys R Us closed.

     I'm just devastated, as is my daughter.  We both have such fond memories of saving up for the perfect toys.  My toys of choice were Barbies, and my kids love Playmobil, Lego, and Star Wars.  I think the Shopkin craze it finally starting to pass.  Oh, Toys R Us, you have always been there to support our play.  My house is a constant mess, because my kids play with toys.  And I play with toys with them. And I'm 40.

     I don't know.   This slice is just a rambling post to somehow document that I think kids should play more.  Whether they get toys from to a toy store, or play outside in the fresh air, kids should play.  And they should know that they should play, and embrace it.  Hopefully, that playful side will never be lost.


     OK, I'm off my soap box.  I'll end with a song that is etched in my childhood memories, and pictures of my mom taking my kids to Toys R Us for my son's birthday.  I guess we will file these memories under the good old days.  Goodbye, Geoffrey the Giraffe.

I don't wanna grow up
I'm a Toys R' Us kid
They've got a million toys at Toys R' Us that I can play with

I don't wanna grow up
I'm a Toys R' Us kid
They've got the best for so much less
You'll really flip your lid

From bikes
To Trains
To Video Games
It's the biggest Toy Store there is

I don't wanna grow up
Cause baby if I did
I couldn't be a Toys R' Us kid
More games, more toysOh boy!
I wanna be a Toys R' Us kid

#sol18: The Blue Bomb

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#SOL18: March 21st

The Blue Bomb

      This is not my Blue Bomb.  But I did have a Blue Bomb.

      I turned 16, and my parents gave me their old car, as long as I got a job to pay for the car insurance.  I applied to McDonald's, got my driver's license, and hit the open suburban roads in my 1976 powder blue Ford Maverick.  I was able to drive that car because my dad keeps such care of everything he buys, and my mom saves everything.

***Important Note:  I was born in 1977.

     I was the first person in my friend group to turn 16, so the Blue Bomb (as we nicknamed it) became our ride.  It was fully equipped with Rustoleum spots and an 8-track player in 1993.  That car was built like a tank with blue vinyl seats. We jammed out to Abba and early Billy Joel as we went to the movies or the local Denny's.  Mostly, though, I drove that car to McDonald's and saw it parked and patiently waiting as I worked the drive thru.

     This year, I started taking a new-ish route to work, and now I get an almost daily reminder of that car and my 16 year old self as I drive near Route 66 and see this mint condition Blue Bomb.  Perhaps because it is Slice of Life month, or possibly because the sky so perfectly matched the paint on this particular day, I found myself parked on the street, taking a picture of a stranger's car.  That stranger's car, though, is almost like a window into my past. If I could do it again?  I'd totally get a decal like his for my car: Blue Bomb.  Other than that, I'd keep everything the same.

#sol18: Snoopy Tears

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

#SOL18: March 20th

Snoopy Tears

     The tears come on suddenly, and without any warning.  It could be a picture on Timehop.  It could be when I go to put food away that my kids left out so that she won't get it.  It could be when I see Snoopy merchandise out in the world.  Sometimes, it's the ringing of Christmas bells like the ones she would hit with her nose to go outside.  Finding her hair on my scarves does it, too.

     Snoopy, I miss you.

     I hide my tears so that my kids don't get upset that I am upset.  But how do I not cry, when my fur child has left us?  It's been a few months, and those months have had holidays, and normal days, that have made me think of her.

     I miss the dog sitting under the dinner table, hoping for a snack.  I miss the dog who followed me around the house, just because she wanted to.  I miss the tail that would wag hello as I came home everyday.  I miss the dog laying next to me.  I miss finding her in her spot in my closet.  I miss the moments we had that have now become Timehop memories, even though they make me cry.  I miss her.

#sol18: Picture Day

Monday, March 19, 2018

#SOL18: March 19th

Picture Day

     There I was, standing in the stairwell at Heritage right as the bell rang.  Immediately, seas of students washed down the stairs in a wave of hunger as they headed to their lunch period.  This happens to me a lot, and I have learned that the best thing to do is avoid getting swept into the wave. I stand clear on the wall and wait for it to pass.  Today, though, the wave wasn't a normal sea of navy blue and khaki.  Today, it was all dressed up and ready to party!  There were bow ties, dresses, heals, t-shirts, and everything in between.  This could be a dress down day, but they seemed more dressed up.  When I saw Michelle Brezek, the teacher I was coming to visit, all dressed up in her fancy red dress, I knew my inference seemed right.  It was 8th grade picture day!  


     After lunch ended, the students returned to Andrea Bortscheller/Brezek's room, and they did their 7 minute write about how they could do 17 things to honor those lost at Parkland.  I watched these dressed up students write, and then share their writing with a peer, as they reflected on a skill that is far more beautiful than heals and sequins.  They then came to the carpet and had a classroom conversation, where 7th and 8th graders sat in a circle and shared their honest thoughts and wonderings about the world we live in today.  The conversation began with Andrea's calm opening, and ended with Michelle telling her students that she loves them. It was beautiful.

     I found myself adding to the conversation as well.  I was moved by a former students' honest wondering why the constant shootings in Chicago don't get attention, and then I looked across the circle and saw her shirt.  Love wins.  I couldn't help adding my own comment, to many students I was meeting for the first time, that it's conversations like this one that can change the world.  Love wins, always.  In so many situations, love wins.  

     I am so grateful for being a part of this class for a small chunk of time on a day when I got to see not only how they want themselves to be seen on the outside (thanks to picture day) but also who they are on the inside (thanks to their writing and conversation, and some of their clothes choices too.)

#sol18: Great

Sunday, March 18, 2018

#SOL18: March 18th


     I took this picture on March 1st to remember to slice about our conversation.  Today, 18 days later, I finally remembered.  So, I am going to give a word of caution that my quotation marks might be more paraphrase marks by this point.  I'm not sure my memory works that well.  

     Me, to former student A:  "How are you doing?"

     A:  "Great.  I'm doing great!" he said in an upbeat, confident tone.

     Me:  "Really?  Why great?  That's a strong response."

     A:  "I don't know.  There's nothing bad going on, so I'm great."

     His response just surprised me.  I ask so many people how they are, and most people don't sound as great.  Perhaps they are equally as well, but he just seemed upbeat and happy.

     It was such a quick conversation that reminded me again of A's positive nature.  They say surround yourself with positive people, and he sure is one of those people.  I was reminded of a time when he thanked me for teaching a lesson in his class, and his sincerity just stood out.  This day in class, his "expel air from the lungs in a sharp manner" blessing after a sneeze reminded me of his humor.  Yesterday, a video on Twitter of his class playing a vocabulary quiz with his optional dancing reminded me of his joy.  Today, I see that being around him is what that saying is all about.  Surround yourself with positive people, and you see the good in the world.

     I hope to be a positive person for others, too.  Thanks, A,  for being a model of having a joyful mindset, a caring heart, and a positive outlook on life.  You seem to have perspective at a young age.

     Thanks, A.

#sol18: Limerick

Saturday, March 17, 2018

#SOL18: March 17th

A Limerick

There once was a gal named Leah Marie
Who wanted to be a leprechaun, you see.
So she went to a kindergarten class
And snapped a picture real fast...
With Photoshop's help a leprechaun she can be!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

(Thanks, +Lily Gelacio, for the use of your project!)

#sol18: Half

Friday, March 16, 2018

#SOL18: March 16th


Half of a square is a rectangle.

Half of a Reese's Peanut Butter Egg is something to share with my daughter.

Half of a sandwich is about all my kids seem to eat during lunch at school.

Half an hour is 30 minutes.

Half of a glass is half full.

Half of a marathon is something I can't accomplish.

Half of a pot of gold is still treasure.

Half of a pot of coffee is more than enough.

Half of a cup of coffee is not nearly enough, unless it's a second cup.

Half of 31 is 15.5. 

It's March 15th at noon.  

Half of #sol18 is over, and I'm still writing!

#sol18: Bedtime Play{mobil}

Thursday, March 15, 2018

#SOL18: March 15th

Bedtime Play{mobil}


All Hail the King of Egypt!  Egypt!
All Hail the King of Egypt!  Egypt!
All Hail the King of Egypt!  Egypt!
All Hail the King of Egypt!  Egypt!

      Here we are, sitting in a darkish room, lit only by the Christmas lights that seem to have become permanently affixed to our wall, and the light of my computer.  The kids are playing with their Playmobil figures.  My son is putting on a dance show, singing the song above as he moves his figures.  My daughter is digging through the people, looking for the skeleton figures.  I am pretending not to listen to them as I type, because I don't have a story to write for tomorrow.  It must be March.

      My daughter announces that she is turning the lamp on so that she can find her characters easier in a giant bin of toys.  My son then turns it back off.   She turns it back on.  They love to do that sort of thing.

     Here we are, 2 minutes until bedtime, and they are still locked into their play.  I'm too tired to do much about it, so I sit and listen to them.

     My daughter is now crawling around the bin, which is somewhat clear, rather than digging through the basket.  She then decided to just take handfuls and dump them on the floor.  This seems really productive.  I mean, bedtime in near.  Efficiency is key.

     "OK, guys.  We can finish this tomorrow.  It's bedtime."  They walked up stairs, brushed their teeth, and went to bed.  It was almost dreamlike.

     Wait, it was a dream.  I think I dozed off for a minute.  The reality getting to bed version was not so dreamy.

#sol18: Snow

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#SOL18: March 14th






Hey, Mother Nature, it's March.  Just giving you a heads up.

No snow.

#sol18: Sick

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#SOL18: March 13th


You can tell when they open their eyes and look up at you...

Something isn't right.

What's it going to be?

A sore throat?

A general "I don't feel good"?

Do I get the thermometer, or does she just seem tired?


Not terribly high, but that's in the no school zone.

I guess we are both calling in sick.

Do I call the doctor?  It's hard to decide when/if it's just a virus...

I'll call the nurse and double check.

That's a wait and see.

Wait and see how many times I'll need to clean up the floor?

(Twice, it seems.)

Wait and watch a movie with my girl.

Star Wars trivia becomes the agenda.

Yet another day in a mom's life, filled with a mixture of worry and love.

And it's strep.

Thank goodness for antibiotics.

Where is the Lysol?

#sol18: Sealy Stories

Monday, March 12, 2018

#SOL18: March 11th

Sealy Stories


      My daughter has a stuffed seal that we call Sealy.  He is member of the family these days.  My daughter can't go anywhere without him.  So, when I was putting a prompt up on the blog for some of our Hiawatha bloggers, I saw this pictures and knew I had to use it!
     Some of the students had previously heard about K and Sealy, so even though the prompt didn't mention him by name, they wrote it that way.  My daughter and I sat in front of my computer, with Sealy in her arms, and read some posts.
     "WHERE ARE YOU SEALY!!! K was looking everywhere for Sealy, her little stuffed animal that's a seal.  "WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING K!?!?! Mrs. O'Donnell was confused why her daughter was shouting and screaming.  "I LOST SEALLY!!!!" Yesterday K was playing Sealy and she accidentally put it in Mrs. O'Donnell's bag.
      This one got a frown at first, but a sense of relief at the end.
      One day K was looking for Sealy because tomorrow was show and tell day and she wanted to show him to her class.  She looked everywhere but then she remembered she left him on the airplane when her family was going to Hawaii.  
     This story brought on the tears, until I reminded her that we have never gone to Hawaii, and she was holding Sealy.  Tears stopped.  We then read a story about how there was a dog seal that played with a laser, and when Seal the Dog got close to K's toy Sealy and Keira pointed the laser at them: 
It fused them together and now it's a real seal.
     "Mom, wouldn't it be cool if that could really happen?"

     "Yes, dear."

      And then we read another one.  This one wasn't even about Sealy.  It was about a seal named SpongeBob.
      There once was a seal that's name is SpongeBob and his last name is SquarePants and a mean polar bear came and ate SpongeBob and the white snow was covered with red BLOOD.
     She lost it.  She began to full out sob.  Tears streamed down her face, and she held Sealy tight.   She began to talk about how terrible polar bears are (because they eat seals) through the sobs.  I once again had to remind her that this wasn't really about Sealy.

     I quickly scanned the stories that were left, and skipped a bunch that would not return K to a happy state, but found just what I needed.
     Once upon a  time a baby seal named Marshmallow lived happily in Antarctica.  He was going to his friend's house, Frosty.  Marshmallow was at Frosty's year.  Marshmallow and Frosty played tag and hide and seek.  Then Frosty's mom took Marshmallow and Frosty to the ice cream shop.  Marshmallow got vanilla ice cream, and Frosty got chocolate but Frosty's ice cream fell and he started crying but Marshmallow share his ice cream.  Finally Marshmallow went home.
     She looked happy for a minute, but then paused and said, "What if he really doesn't like vanilla ice cream?"  I could see the tears about to start, and gently reminded her that sharing was a really nice thing to do.  She agreed, and I decided to stop reading, just in case.  Instead I suggested that she write her own story, so she did.