When A Series “Jumps The Shark” #sol19


The phrase “jumping the shark” is often associated with television shows and was prompted by an episode of Happy Days when Fonzie jumped a shark while on water skis.  From that time, opinions suggested that the show began a downhill trajectory.  I think the same can be said for some series books, and I recently had an experience that convinced me that one series in particular had “jumped the shark.”

Last night, I received a notification that one of my library holds was available.  This e-book is part of a series that I’ve followed for years.  However, the past few titles have not been particularly engaging.  I think that I’ve only read them to check in on the characters.  In fact, I haven’t purchased something like the last five or six books in the series, but instead wait for them to be available through the library.  When I first started reading the series, I couldn’t wait to purchase a copy.  Over time, though, the series began to drag and what initially made the series an enjoyable read no longer seemed to work.  The plots seemed contrived and at times I wondered if someone else had really taken over the series.  The characters stopped evolving and growing.  In addition, several of the characters became unrecognizable.  I found myself confused by many of the characters and the books became filled with all of these details that really didn’t matter to the story.  Characters had conversations that did nothing to drive the plot and I often felt as though I was drowning in unnecessary details.

I think that last night, though, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.  I downloaded the book, settled down in my recliner with a bowl of popcorn, and began to read.  I kept waiting for something to happen.  This series is supposed to include a mystery, but nothing was happening! I kept waiting for something to happen, but it wasn’t until late in the book that the crime happened and it was solved entirely too quickly.  This book was such a disappointment and even the “cliffhanger” didn’t entice me because it was so obvious.  Looking back, I’m not sure why I finished the book because it was such an unsatisfying experience.  I had so many positive experiences with this series of books that it saddens me to let go, but there are so many other books to read that I don’t need to saddle myself down with something unsatisfactory.


Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh #sol19


Monday was one of those days.  When I went out to unlock my car to go to school and tried to unlock my passenger-side door so that I could dump my bags in the front seat, the door wouldn’t unlock.  I made sure that I had pressed the unlock button on the key fob, but still nothing.  Okay.  I went around to the driver’s side, and after several attempts, finally was able to get that door open.  I slung my purse and bag over the console into the passenger seat, stuck the key into the ignition, and nothing happened.  It took a moment for my brain to process the situation and to determine that the battery must be dead.  I was a little surprised given that I’d just had a battery replaced last month and my car is only three years old, but shrugged it off.  Maybe I’d left a light on or didn’t completely close a door and ran down the battery.

After texting my principal that I’d be a few minutes late and arranging for my Mom to give me a ride to school (boy did that take me back in time!), I finally arrived at school.  During my break, I contacted AAA to have my battery charged and asked Mom to hang around until the car was good to go.  I assumed that everything would be fine and continued on with my day.

Then, I got a series of texts that indicated that something more was going on.  The mechanic from AAA jumped the car and suggested letting the car run for at least thirty minutes.  However, after switching off the ignition, my car wouldn’t start again.  I contacted AAA again and they sent the mechanic back to check on my car.  After jump-starting the car again, the mechanic suggested taking it to a local auto parts store and connecting the car to their diagnostic tool.  Thankfully, Mom was able to do this for me, since I was sitting in my classroom at school.

Unfortunately, no one could determine what was going on.  After contacting the dealership, the service manager suggested bringing it in for them to check it out.  The problem is that the dealership is at least a 45 minute drive down the interstate and I didn’t feel comfortable driving it that distance if something was wrong.  Again, I contacted AAA and arranged to have the car towed.  Mom (bless her) drove me to the dealership to pick up a loaner car to use while they diagnosed my car. 

At one point, as we discussed the situation, I burst out laughing and couldn’t stop.  Mom wasn’t sure what to make of this and once I was able to stop laughing, I explained.  The situation was so crazy and frustrating that I could either laugh or I could cry.  I chose to laugh.  I also chose to focus on the positives: No one was hurt or in danger.  The car was parked in the driveway when it wouldn’t start, so I was in a safe place.  Mom was able to serve as my driver for the day.  The rental provided by the dealership was a cherry-red truck that I had to climb into and slide out of (I’m sure it’s entertaining to watch).  The mechanic from AAA was great to deal with and had so much patience through multiple calls to the same address.  After we picked up the rental, Mom and I had a nice, relaxing dinner out and had some great mother-daughter time.

Now, I just have to wait for the folks at the dealership to figure out what’s going on with my car.  Hopefully, the solution will be simple (and covered by a warranty) and I can focus on other things!

Poems For A Championship #sol19


Last night, I was able to watch my beloved Virginia Cavaliers win the National Championship game.  In honor of National Poetry Month, I decided to work on poems about the team and their quest for the title.  I wasn’t sure what this would look like and questioned myself because I’m finding my way as a writer of poetry.


The hour is late

a moment in history

worth a sleepless night


basketball swishing

through the net to shouts of joy



Humble and grateful

a passionate persistence

through adversity






Surprise #sol19


Last night, I had a board of directors meeting for the Shenandoah Valley Reading Council.  I’ve been a part of this group, which is one of the chapters of the Virginia State Reading Association, for several years.  This is the group that really encouraged me to explore leadership opportunities at the state level and they’ve always been my cheerleaders, whether it’s been conquering the final steps in my dissertation or serving as the VSRA conference chair. 

Before we started our meeting, my friends presented me with flowers and cheesecake to celebrate the success of the 2019 VSRA conference.  I had no idea that they had planned to do this and was so overwhelmed and appreciative of these thoughtful gestures.  I had a hard time starting the meeting!





The beginning of March/the end of March #sol19


In a previous post, I wrote about everything that had happened to me since last March.  I decided to do a spin-off on that format today.  Today’s slice also reflects the Yesterday/Today format that I also enjoyed.  However, today I’m writing about everything that has happened to me since the beginning of the month.

At the beginning of March, I was eagerly anticipating the 2019 Virginia State Reading Association conference.

At the end of March, I was proud of the amazing conference in Norfolk and the opportunities for professional development provided at the conference.

At the beginning of March, I wondered how my Virginia Cavaliers would fare in the NCAA tournament.

At the end of March, I watched the ‘Hoos make it to the Final Four after an unbelievable game with Purdue.

At the beginning of March, I wondered if the cold weather would ever cease.

At the end of March, we had a couple of days of 70+ degree weather.  However, I think the cold temperatures will be back tomorrow:(

At the beginning of March, I had just started teaching a five-week online class.

At the end of March, the class is coming to an end and it was another wonderful experience.  I loved the insights shared by all of the students and I enjoyed watching their posts on the discussion boards evolve each week.  They really did a fantastic job of exploring the topic of dyslexia and how they could use the information from the class in their own classrooms.

At the beginning of March I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the challenge with everything else that was going on. 

At the end of March, I achieved my goal of slicing every day.  Some days were better than others, but I wrote every day.  I managed to show up even on those days when the words were hard.  I also discovered so many folks who inspired and encouraged me throughout the challenge. 

As I reflect on March, I realize that it’s been a pretty awesome month!

Author Visits and Teacher Writers #sol19


On Thursday, I wrote about Ginjer Clarke’s visit to my school.  During the visit, I scribbled a note in my notebook about how author visits are not only good for students, but for teacher-writers, too.  This idea has marinated over the past two days and I think that it reflects another reason why it’s important to invite authors into our schools and classrooms.  As a teacher-writer, I was inspired by Ginjer’s presentations and throughout the day, I added ideas to my notebook.  I made sure that I had my notebook handy during each session and wrote along with the kids as she guided them through workshop activities.  There were times when my pen couldn’t move fast enough as I scribbled across the page.  Ideas seemed to flow out of my pen and I couldn’t wait to sit down and flesh out these ideas.  I started to develop my spring break writing plans.  So, although we know that author visits are powerful for students, they also are powerful for teachers who write!

Hello there! #sol19


I was reminded of the following format when reading Elisabeth Ellington’s slice today.  Elisabeth’s slice was inspired by Aggie Kesler.

I am now officially on spring break! There are books to read and words to write over the next week!

I keep digging through this March challenge.  Some days have been harder than others.  Some days have been easy when the words have jumped onto the page.  But that’s what I love about this challenge.  No two days are ever the same.

I wish that I’d straightened up my classroom before I left school today.  Maybe I’ll slip down to school one day and organize things before we start back.

I love my new bullet journal.  This is my first month using a bullet journal and I can’t imagine not keeping it close.

I dance only when I have to.  It’s not a pretty sight!

I sing only when I have to and if nobody’s around.

I think that this format is harder than I remember or anticipated when I started writing.  I really had to stop and think long and hard about how to finish some of these statements.

I really hope that my Wahoos make it through the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament.  I stayed up late last night to watch their game with Oregon and there were some moments that had me worried.

I need to be better about watching my carb intake.  I was doing well, but it’s been challenging recently.  I discovered Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn (a friend has a store in Harrisonburg) and haven’t found a flavor combination yet that I don’t love.  The mint chocolate chip is amazing!

I should have walked on the treadmill for a full thirty minutes today.  While I walked for almost twenty minutes, I really needed to walk longer.  I’ve been “cheating” a lot recently.

I can be quiet and shy until you get to know me. 

I like to crunch the ice in my water and tea.  I don’t like ice on the rare occasions when I have a soft drink, but any other time I’ll be crunching ice.

I make a mess when I attempt to cook.  I think that’s why I hate to cook.  I know that the mess is not going to be worth whatever I prepare.

I always have my notebook and pens ready in my purse.  I never know when I might need to write something down.  While I love technology and use digital tools a lot, I’ve rediscovered the power of a notebook and pen.