SOL 2016, D 30 Weather Vanes

They say that if you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait a minute.  It will change.  Today was one of those days.  I left for work at 10am wearing a lightweight jacket and no socks.  It was beautifully sunny, warm enough to not button up.  Two hours later we went out to recess and the skies were grey, the wind was blustery and my toes were quite uncomfortable.  By the time we went in, it was snowing.

Sometimes my students are the same.  One of my kiddos apparently had a really rough lunch hour.  When he came back from lunch he was a little riled but settled in and within a few minutes of class, he was laughing and engaged.  The principal showed up late in the day to pull him for a chat about what happened at lunch.  She was sure he would still be in a mood.  Not at all.  I think he had all but forgotten the lunch conflict.

I wish I could be more like the weather and like 10 year olds.  I wish I could change gears that quickly and more importantly, forget that quickly.  As quickly as my students can be defeated and down on themselves, they are up again and looking ahead.  I could use a strong dose of that – especially as we head into weeks on end of standardized testing.  It’s hard to find that positive attitude these days.

Tomorrow is another day and it is supposed to be sunny again.  I hope I am too.

SOL 2016, D 29 Coming Home

We love to travel.  We spent 2 months backpacking around Europe for our honeymoon.  We spent 6 months backpacking around the world as a post graduate degree celebration.  And when we both started working full time, we swore to each other that we wouldn’t stop.  When we had kids, we promised to keep it up.  We have taken our kids on some pretty remarkable vacations and have managed a significant trip almost every year including another 3 month stint with kids in tow.

We have fallen in love with some pretty amazing places in and out of the U.S. When we look back at the past 27 years, we are in awe of what a National Geographic journal we have.  From beaches to mountains to cities, towns, and guest houses, we have been lucky to touch some truly remarkable corners of the earth.

There have been many,many times when we were dragging our feet onto a plane or back into the car because we loved where we were.  We have spontaneously extended trips and have come home late, late at night stretching out the vacations to the last minute.  But as we near the city limits and finally crest the hill to look over our city, we never cease to sigh and say, “Ah, it’s good to be home.”  We have talked from time to time of living somewhere else, one of the many perfect places we have found in the world.  But we always come back here and it always feels good.  The only thing better than traveling is knowing that the place where you have set down roots is worth coming home to at the end of the day, or week, or month, or maybe someday the year.

SOL 2016, D 28 PIem

Well, this was a real challenge!  Back on Pi day, my students and I read about PIems, poems that have the structure of Pi.  Here’s my attempt.  It was way harder than I expected. I have included Pi.  You can check my letter count.


A lean
A dream



Implies adult

Yet child


disguises desired readiness

Not to man


SOL 2016, D 27. Wealth of disparity

We have been driving around the Yucatan peninsula for the past week and the similarities and disparity have been more than striking. Here are just a few.


high rise hotels with air conditioning in every room, often running when no one is in the room or when the patio doors are wide open

the man on a three wheeled bike collecting fire wood along the highway, kilometers from the nearest hint of a home

sushi, filet mignon, soft serve ice cream with sprinkles, croissants, cupcakes

cold coconut served with lime – hacked out of a coconut by a 70 year old vendor with a machete from his makeshift food stand

Gucci, Chanel, Roxy, RayBans

plastic flip flops, too small torn t-shirts, children’s clothes on adults

white rental cars with a/c and seat belts for all

Pickup trucks, rusted out and colorless, 4 passengers up front and 8 more in the open air back, one holding a sleeping child

trusting tourists

local police walking with automatic guns at the ready

cell phone glued to hips, selfies and snapchats, google maps and Siri

walking the beach selling friendship bracelets, earrings, Mayan blankets

This gaudy winter playground for the northerners, reality ignored for a tan line


SOL 2016, D 26 jelly beans

You never know what traditions your kids will really connect with.  Apparently in our house, it is one associated with Easter.  When I was a kid, my mom would ‘hide’ jelly beans in the living room. On Easter morning, we had to avert our eyes when we walked past as the hunt wasn’t on until after breakfast.  Once we were released into the room, we would each have a basket and frantically scoop jelly beans onto it.  I am pretty sure we counted all the beans to see who ‘won’ when it was all over.  My favorite places to find the cache were along the back of the couch and in the window sills.  Both were good places to grab a lot at one time.

We started a version of that tradition with our own kids.  Instead of a hunt, the kids would wake up Easter morning to find a trail of jelly beans from their bed to their Easter basket.  It was just a fun way to start the morning but apparently for them, it was much more.

We were in Spain for Semana Santa when my kids were 11 and 13.  I don’t know, I was thinking that a trip to Spain was celebration enough for the holiday.  We attended a midnight Maundy Thursday processional and a Easter Sunday church service in a 16 th century cathedral.  But what my kids mostly remember is that the Easter bunny did not put out the jelly bean trail.  Really?

This year is the first time we have not all been together on Easter.  My husband, son and I are in Mexico while our eldest is in London doing her year abroad.  She just sent me a photo of the jelly bean trail she put out for her boyfriend.  The tradition continues.

SOL 2016, D 25

So, my 20 year old daughter and I have become quite accomplished at snapchatting with each other.  It’s amazing how a three second peek into her day can bring so much more than three seconds, thus inspiration for today’s poem.


“The North Pole” is her tagline from her adventures at 60 degrees north

“The equator?” is mine from under the palm trees of our spring break

Once connected to me inches, now half a world away…or more.

I held a little hand, teaching her of evening stars and then in a breath

we are watching different sunsets.

SOL 2016, D 24 the good and the bad

The day started off nicely.  We had a perfect island breakfast of fresh fruit and homemade chai.  We took a bike taxi to the ferry for the short shuttle back to our car on the mainland.

And then we needed gas.  We pulled into the station but could not figure out how to open the gas tank.  The attendant could not figure it out.  The guy in the car behind us could not figure it out. We left the station hoping we could make it back to the city.  Things were looking grim.

As we drove inland over ‘sleeping policemen” and potholes, the gas cover magically opened!  Good news!  Things were looking up. We stopped for gas on the outskirts of town and got back on the road.

After rather obsessively following the speed limit through about 6 hours of driving, my spousal driver started to fiddle with the gas cap button while drinpving and we were promptly pulled over by a policeman.  Not looking good.

being Holy Week, al police stations were closed so we could pick up my husband’s driver’s license on Monday and pay the full price of the ticket then.  But we were going to be on a plane on Monday.  We explained and explained our situation in broken Spanish, the officer called in for the jefe.  Things were looking really, really bad.

And then  Jefe decided to be nice and said we could go if we paid half the ticket now.  But we only had $20 and change.  Looking so bad but he took the offer.  And thankfully gave the license back.  We drove way under the speed limit for the next 2 hours.

We stopped at a hotel to pick up our son.  We parked the car out front.  Son took 2 hours to take a final swim, eat a final meal, and say goodbye to his buddies.  Good news was that our car was still there.  It had net been towed.  Phew.

Things were looking up.  We fought the traffic out of the city and headed to our new hotel.  We happily settled in for dinner after watching Villanova win their Sweet 16 game.  And then ate dessert while watching the Jayhawks move on to the Elite 8.

Things are looking real good.  Time for bed.

SOL 2016, D 23

We walked the beach for hours this afternoon, far from town  with only a few footprints and no one to be seen for long stretches.  We came across so many birds as the sun set at feeding time.


He stood in the water just off shore

a stately heron searching for his dinner

“I hope he doesn’t mind if we walk past,” I whisper

we slow our pace, he doesn’t look up

suddenly he takes flight

just skimming the surface of the placid water

and lets out a long, loud squack

“I think he minds”

but he lands all of ten feet behind us

and resumes his hunt

but his long skinny legs planted a little farther apart

as if to say, “Don’t bother me again, I have work to do.”




SOL 2016, D22. Callita

We adopted a puppy from the local pound last November and have spent countless hours debating her genetic lineage.  She was billed as a German shepherd mix but we quickly ruled that out.  She looks nothing like a German shepherd.  She has the coloring of a Rottweiler but her build is lanky.  We finally gave in and had her genetics evaluated by the vet.  It came back saying she was part Rottweiler with some Staffordshire terrier – we can easily see both of those in her.  And then she is also part Great Pyrenees.  There is NOTHING about her that hints at Great Pyrenees.  Nothing.  So we settled on her being a good old average mutt.

And then we came to Mexico for spring break.  Around every corner, at every restaurant, on every beach we see clear relatives of our pup.  Great Pyrenees? Not.  Mexican street dog.  Definitely!  We think we might nickname her Callita, little street.


SOL 2016, D 21

He had been trying to add some levity to the conversation when he said, “You say that sometimes you feel like you aren’t part of this world.  Well, what if you aren’t?  I mean, what if there is like a parallel universe or something and you really aren’t part of this place?”

She didn’t answer right away.  Not because she was thinking of an answer, but because a heavy sob came so suddenly to her throat and she needed a moment to keep it at bay.

“Then I want to go home,” she said.