Monday, March 13, 2023

What R U Reading? Mollusk Monday!


I’ve become obsessed with octopuses lately. We read Soul of an Ocotpus by Sy Montgomery in book Club. It’s a fantastic view into the world of the octopus. It tells the story of Athena, an octopus, in the Boston Aquarium, while weaving in the facts about the species. It’s led me to watching octopus reels and following the reef doctor on Instagram. I’ve learned about their lifespan, their intelligence and the power of their chromatophores. I once chanced upon one in the wild when I was scalloping in the Gulf. It scuttled away when I disturbed the sea grass that it was camouflaged in. It’s part of the mollusk family and  related to snails which is brings me to another book that we read for book Club, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey. It’s more about a woman’s journey dealing with a chronic disease, but I like how it microscopes into the world of a snail.I can’t say that I became enamored with snails the way I have with the octopus. But if you are looking for something outside your reading comfort zone or are now curious, I would say start with the octopus.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Sunday Seven

 Celebrating the good of the week!

7. My mom..she’s celebrating her 76th birthday this week. We had the joy of a small family lunch at one of our favorite restaurants that’s in the middle. She’s generous and fun. I’m lucky to still have her around. 

6. Our SGA sponsor… she has been tirelessly shifting the culture at our school. She embraces risk. She’s relentless. She’s dedicated and makes positivity happen. She’s an amazing navigator of getting funding with Donor’s Choose. She’s been central to deinstitutionalizing the look of our school with several projects for the past few years, a heady task, since our campus is 95 acres. There are student murals, student handprints, and signs of life all over campus. Our PLC have been able to paint bricks this past week, but the blackout neon pep rally was the most fun this week. I celebrate her work and hope she has a restorative spring break. 

5. My daughter, I appreciate that she takes time for her family, especially her grandmothers, during her spring break. 

4. Florida spring weather, you never know what you will get. After a week of the 80’s, we head into our break week with the low 40’s looming ahead, the coldest days when I will be camping. At least I will sleep well. 

3. The women in my life…it’s I’ve been lucky to have role models, mentors, mentees, friends, colleagues who grace my life, inspire and help me stay strong. 

2. My husband…for being flexible and a good sport.

1. My colleagues…we just closed the 3rd nine weeks. It’s been a year of immense change for us with new standards, new textbook, new state tests, new laws, new superintendent, new principal, new apps and deans and I could go on and on about the new. I embrace change and love the challenges of new, but acknowledge that it can be cognitively overwhelming and physically draining when there is too much new. What you had footing upon seems fleeting and when you feel you are getting your footing, the bottom falls out. It’s my 30th year in this district and perhaps my 18th at this school so what is not new for me is our school, the landscape and most of the staff. Our school is that is not new to us and to the educators who’ve joined us, even knowing where to find a bathroom or how to make copies is a cognitive task. Regardless of all the new, I’m grateful to work with them supporting our students. I loved seeing educators step into spaces and leading the change. I’m certain everyone is doing the best they can and the demands of a high school with 3500 students is harder than ever. I hope all my colleagues have a restorative break.  

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Spring into Saturday: Silver Glen

I didn’t blog Friday. I took the day off to go to Silver Glen Springs with my daughter. There’s no phone service or Wi-Fi there. I’ll be doing the same later this week when I go camping at Manatee Springs.  My brain really requires tech-free resets. I spend a week in the woods in the summer camping at Elkmont in the Smokey Mountains. It’s both tech and shower free. It’s indulgent time wise to move at the speed of slow. It feels luxurious tome. The pace of my work can seem relentless a to me because there’s an urgency and so many to work with. That’s why a spring day is so restorative. 

Florida has the highest density of freshwater springs in the world with over 500.  Silver Glen Springs, a first magnitude spring, is one of a few in the Ocala National forest. It’s my daughter’s favorite. She saw her first mermaid swimming there. She’s had many a February birthday there. It’s where she brought her friends when she could finally drive. It’s where I knew would go when she asked me to take the day off.

Its spring-print is its wide pool that gradually increases in depth. In the summer or on the weekends mom’s will lounge in chairs in the 2 feet edge area while kids lazily float or snorkel around the pool.  It feeds out into the which leads to Lake George. Houseboats often anchor there and it’s the site of day parties. Their pool is ringed by palms and live oaks and the sides are limestone. At the deepest part of the pool is a crevasse from which the 65 million gallons of water a day push out. The water is a constant 72 degrees year round.

One area is currently closed off because they are trying to capture a rare species of crayfish, unique to that spring. They have also restored part of the basin by increasing the fencing around the rim of the spring by bringing it about 10 feet back. There’s still plenty of room to lounge in the sun, throw a frisbee and picnic. We did all three. If you’re inclined, you can rent a canoe and paddle the run, Juniper Creek, which flows into Lake George. I’m content to swim and read and recharge. 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Hanging with Hope

My favorite kid is home for spring break. It’s easy to have a favorite when you only have one. No one else has spring break right now. I made sure I left work earlier than my usual stay late. I skipped my workouts so we could hang out. We started watching Daisy and the Six. We read by the pool. And tomorrow we are going to go to here favorite spring Silver Glen. No matter the weather, hot or cold, it will be swimmable. It won’t really matter it will be a family day together. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

10 Things

10 things about today not necessarily in order….nor all the things of import from today!

10. Bought supplies before work to make salad and meatballs for my reading peeps. 

9. Had a brilliant planning day with the ELA grade 9 team. We outlined our first two weeks of instruction after spring break.

8.  Celebrated March birthdays with the reading team.

8. Ran into a teacher and fed her since she had no lunch. 

7. Helped a teacher find some titles for her class to read.

6. Wore my Stevie Nicks shirt to work since it’s 70’s day for spirit week and International Women’s Day.

5. Ate dinner as a family at my kiddos favorite restaurant. 

4. Tried banana pudding ice cream, but ended up with my current favorite a scoop of coffee and baileys ice cream. 

3. Cleaned out the work fridge in prep for spring break and left dinner for two friends who work night school.

2. Hung up every single item of work clothing that had been waiting for the past week or so.

1. Remembered that I had to write and post something after I already laid down to sleep and actually did so. Found a mentor blog that led to this post. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Spring Break

Spring Break Past 

It’s my daughter’s first spring break as a college student. She’s made the best of it because all her friends have different breaks. I worked in my family’s tax business every college break so I think she has it good. She said she was going to spend it like a retiree. She went to hang out with her grandma at the beach for a few days where she learned how to play pickle ball and got schooled in our family’s notorious card game, hi-lo-jack. Today she went to her other grandmother’s place to clean her house. I love that she does family by choice and not obligation and genuinely has a good time. Although it’s the first time in over 12 years that we don’t have a spring break together, I told her I would take a day off to spend with her. We will spend a restorative day together as a family at a spring. I am looking 

Lately I’ve been getting plenty of rest, but little restorative opportunities. Too many hurricane created makeup long Wednesdays and holidays transformed back into work days.  Hurricane days aren’t vacation days. I’m looking forward to my spring break next week, driving my kid back to college, camping, and yoga things that will restore me. I’m also looking forward to some days with no obligations. Those days too will restore me. I’m hoping my fellow educators will have that opportunity soon too. What are you most looking forward about spring break? What do you do to restore your mind?

Monday, March 6, 2023

What R U Reading? Book Club Bests

 I’ve been in a book club that has met for once a month since my daughter was born. She is now nineteen. It’s mostly educators and mostly English teachers. It grew out of a way to stay in touch when we followed new paths, different schools or retirement. Currently we have a retired science and retired English teacher, a retired tax preparer, a computer science teacher, a school counselor, an athletic trainer and two English teachers. Book Club pushes us to read against ourselves and read books we normally wouldn’t pick up. Currently I indulge in urban fantasy mystery series, but I apparently have the distinction of choosing the long books, my science friend, nonfiction etc. Three books that we read this year are hits and I recommend them if you are getting ready for spring break reads.

My pick this fall was Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. You will have to stick with it initially because it’s a little confusing at first due to the multiplicity of stories that weave together. It’s historical fiction, Greek mythology, science fiction and contemporary fiction and well worth your time. It’s a story of libraries and makes you think hard about civilization. 

My next suggestion is When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. It’s another genre bender as it’s written as part scientific journal and historical fiction with an element of magical realism.  I can’t say much, but it’s a good companion novel with my final recommendation, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, a book that I resisted for awhile. 

Book Club forced me to read Lessons in Chemistry. I assumed it was some kind of love story and it is, but it’s much bigger than that. It’s a love story and a reminder of what life was like for women in the past. It lead to a much larger discussion about our mothers and grandmothers and although I’ve been reading and taking books with this group of women for a long time, I learn so much more every time we meet.

What reading do you recommend? 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Sunday Seven

Taking time to reflect on the good of the week.

 7.  My book club- which has been meeting once a month for the past 19 years. The only rule is that we

want you to come even if you didn’t read the book. We meet tonight. I’ve known some of the members from my first year teaching. They bring a care that keeps me strong.

6. My daughter- she is home for Spring Break. She says she’s spending the week like a retiree, currently at the beach with her grandparents. She’s starting to thrive at college and I’m proud of her.

5. My friend Lee Ann who has been an accountability buddy of many sorts for the past 25ish years. We’ve shared many many firsts together. 

4. My colleagues who have been spending their Saturdays paid planning since December. We’ve been granted 7 additional paid planning days this year by our district. I love the thoughtfulness and care that emerges from the work each week. It doesn’t, however, leave much of a weekend.

3. My friend Kristin, our former testing coordinator, who has been promoted to AP at another school, but always has time to answer questions. This is key because no one really has a clue about every moving part of testing unless they’ve done the work from beginning to end. It’s a beast. 

2. The Alexander’s, I’m grateful every day that these siblings, our ELA tutors for the past three years, show up. I don’t know how I could do the work. Their calm, can-do presence is a blessing.

1.  Gorgeous spring Florida weather and making time to enjoy it.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Food for Thought: Local Eats

I like to share my food thoughts on Friday since Orlando is such a destination for tourists and I use this post as a way to encourage you to explore where the locals go. I’m currently obsessed with a kale salad at my new favorite place, Black Rooster Taqueria. I know I missed the kale bandwagon by a few years, but, honestly, I could eat this salad every day. It’s the light whisper of dressing that makes this salad shine. It is loaded with kale, queso fresco, sliced radishes, carrots, grapes  and lightly candied pecans.

You have protein options too. I prefer to add the crispy fish, but shrimp is a strong second for me. I’ve even been able to make a close replica. 

A side of guac is must here and is made fresh with each order. I’m not crazy about tacos and feel they’ve become ubiquitous in this city. My husband, however, is obsessed with tacos, especially here, and rightly so, these are worth every bite. We’ve still not figured out our fav. The chorizo one is his, but I’m holding my vote until I try their smoked greens one. If you are thirsty, their agua frescas are a great option. If you are really thirsty, the margaritas made with agave wine are a good complement to any item.

Bobble-heads accompany your order while you a wait for your meal to be delivered. It’s a unique numbering system. I prefer sitting in their outdoor area where you can hang with friends, play cornhole and enjoy the Florida spring. Apparently they’ve also won a best bunch and been featured in the New York Times 36 Hours feature, but I learned that after the fact. There are two locations, but the Curry Ford one is my personal fave. It’s become my favorite place to decompress with friends and family after work. Eating brunch here is next on my list. 

What are some of your local favs?

Thursday, March 2, 2023


My friend suggested Thursday posts be a throwback. I think she’s right. I’ve used this blog to reflect on my one little word, Brave or  Well. I chose my first word Brave, in 2013.  I chronicled here over the course of a year. 

A school-wide focus in 2021-22 led teachers and students to their one word. I loved wandering the school and seeing the signs as students entered the room. I loved seeing the students’ vision lining the walls. My word that year was Love. 

We were challenged this January to choose our word on our leadership team. I chose Well again. It reclaimed me. Our leadership team did a check-in with each other at the beginning of February and hopefully we will make time for another check-in on Monday. I am working on well and from the inception of this blog I’ve been doing so.

Apparently writing is and has been a path toward well for me. It was my initial intent when I first created this blog and wrote my first and only Post in 2011. That intent is part of my choice of title’s. ReReading that post made me realize that I have been working positively toward well for a long time and I hope to for more. I know now that Seven is actually my magic number and moving from a diagnosis High A1C of 14 in 2009 to a 2011 A1C of 8.67 to a current 7.3 staying on the path to well.

What’s your word? What’s your why?




Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Who I Am!

Three hundred ninety-one posts later, it’s hard to believe I first participated in the Slice of Life Story Challenge SOLSC 2023 on March 1st,  2012, over a decade ago.

It’s my ninth year participating, of which, I’ve met the challenge goal of posting ever single day in March 8 times and missed the mark one year. I’ve always had the intention of writing weekly on Tuesdays throughout the year, but fall short. My most prolific year was 2014. My favorite posts to write are The Sunday Seven, where I reflect on my gratitude for the week.

I’ve had the joy of writing with teacher friends, Lee Ann Spillane , Lee, Kyle, Kristin, and Erin, and my college students, and I’ve participated with ninth grade students with the classroom challenge. I’ve even had the joy of writing with my daughter with her blog. I prefer reading over writing, which is why I love the commenting aspect of the challenge. I’ve provided tech support and been part of the welcome wagon. I’ve also had the joy of meeting up with slicers at NCTE. I don’t write for an audience, but love when my writing resonates with others. I like crafting a writing plan for the month because I need the planned-for since the unplanned often pops up routinely in education and life. I consider my posts first draft writing. 

Thank you to Stacey Shubitz and the SOL team for their work hosting this challenge! I look forward to the  writing ahead!