A Pick-Up Line

Walking into Walmart for my weekly grocery shopping finds me looking at my list of items I want to price match, thinking about what I will fix for dinner this week, checking to make sure I have my bags for my groceries, and reminding myself of what coupons I have to use today. All this multi-tasking preoccupies my mind as I am pushing my cart through the double doors. The friendly greeter is there with a welcoming smile. I smile back while I am organizing my “stuff” in the cart.

A male voice behind me says, “So this is where all the good looking women hang out.”

I look left, then right, to see who he is talking about. There is no one around. Inwardly I roll my eyes and mentally say “Really?” I make the mistake of looking back at the speaker.

He continues on, “My mother always said I should go to the laundry mat to find a good woman. I think she was wrong. Walmart is the place. There sure are a lot of good looking women here.”

I shake my head as if to say “You’ve got to be kidding. I’m not buying your line.” I continue to push my cart in a different direction.

He also continues on his way but his final line makes me laugh, “You just missed the chance to be my next ex-wife.”

Thanks for the offer, buddy, but I am perfectly happy with my choice of a spouse. Besides I didn’t find him at a laundry mat or Walmart.

Books, Books, Books

It puts a happy smile on my face when the county library announces the dates for their annual spring book sale AND I will be in town to attend it. A preview day is always set for the Monday evening for patrons of the library or you can pay an admission fee. I decided to wait until Tuesday morning to attend.

I planned my arrival to be about fifteen minutes after the doors open, hoping to avoid the crush of people. As I approached the building with my tote bag in hand, I marveled at the number of people scurrying into the double glass doors. There was no crush, but there was a constant stream. Once inside a decision must be made, head to the “better books” section or the cheaper books area. I turn towards the “better books.” The entrance is guarded by several senior citizens, but they do not interfere with me.

The tables are filled with small boxes of books waiting to be flipped through. Each table has a sign designating the type of books in the boxes. Picture books is my first table to begin the browsing. Flip, flip, snatch and drop into my bag. This process is repeated box after box. My eyes look down, there are more boxes below the tables! Gingerly I kneel down to flip through these boxes. Mothers with young children in-tow bump into me causing me to lose my balance. Some are pushing strollers between the tables. There really isn’t enough room for that. My bag is getting heavy as I move on to the poetry table, then the nonfiction table. I stop, look over the tables in the Children’s section to see if I’ve been to every box. Yes, I think I have.

Now I take my bag to a side table away from the crush of people to look carefully at the treasures I have tucked into my bag. Some of the books are unfamiliar, I dropped it in because of the author. Slowly, I read through each book assessing it. Does this book meet my criteria to make it a mentor text for reading or writing? Several do not pass the test. I put those books back into boxes.

My bag is still heavy as I make my way to the table where the ladies tally the cost of your books. Once you have your tally paper, you get in line to pay. Fortunately I put cash in my pocket so I was able to get into a “cash only” line. After paying I leave my books at the “holding” table so I can look and see what is available in the other section. The pickings are slim, but I do find two books. This line is much shorter. I return to the “holding” table to reclaim my bag and head out the door. A smile is on my face as I greet those who are just arriving because I have a bag of treasures. I wonder, “What did I miss by not being there the first day?” Check it out and see what I found!

All this for just under $30!

Free Day!

What do you do when you find yourself with a day that has no requirements or restrictions? You play!

Step one: Plan to meet up with friends, T and J,  to have  a long overdue pedicure. The feet have been enclosed in socks and shoes all winter long. They have suffered through dry skin and quick foot/toe maintenance.  This part of the body does not get  the attention it deserves. Why bother, no one will see them. That is about to change as the sandal season has begun.

Oh, the luxury of relaxing in a chair while  someone trims, shapes, and removes the dead skin from the feet Plus there is the quick massage of each foot and calf. Oh yes, this is a creature comfort that has been missing from my life for too many months. Ahhh! One hour later, the toes are shiny jewels that catch my eye as I glance down.

Step two: Head out to the outlet mall that is about 35 minutes south of town with the friends. We discuss our mental shopping lists and the “must go-to” stores. There are not too many items on the shopping list. My goal is to find sandals or shoes. I discover that I am not alone with that shopping item. T needs some cute golf clothes, and we know  the perfect store to meet her need.

Before hitting the stores, we stop for a quick bite to eat at Subway. After all, one needs nourishment to supply the stamina for the shopping ahead. Turkey sub for me, veggie flatbread for T and J. Let’s hit the stores!

T finds many possibilities in the store that carries golfing clothes. After a period of trying on and deliberating, she walks away with several outfits, plus a pair of slacks for her husband. She will be quite the fashionista of the golf course this summer! On to the shoe store!

We each head down the aisle to match our particular foot size. Quickly I discover a sandal that I have in bronze and it is available in off-white. The box is tucked safely under my arm as I scan the other shoes. Yes, this looks like it will be just what I need. It is taupe and it will be very versatile as it goes with everything! I have made my way to the end of the aisle where they have put the sale items. Hmmm . . . this black sandal looks interesting. It has a zipper in the back, I try it on. I like the way it feels. It hugs my foot and I don’t have to worry about walking out of it. T comes along, “What do you think? I ask.

“It’s okay, not loving it, but it’s okay,” she replies. I begin to doubt my choice. I really think they are comfortable. As I am pondering, several women comment, as I am studying my feet. It has become a free for all on opinions. Carefully, I consider all opinions, where I will wear these, what I will wear these sandals with, and I make a decision. I want them!

The final outcome is three friends went into a shoe store. They each exited the store with three new pairs of shoes. This is the way to spend a free day!

I Say Goodbye . . . for Now

Every month of this school year I have made a trip to the opposite side of the state from where I live. I travel this distance to work with teachers K-4 to develop their understanding of writing workshop. I spend three days working with different grade levels each day. The days are busy with discussions, discoveries, and modeling lessons in classrooms. But after school I am on my own. The teachers return to their busy lives and I am left to my own devices.

I create my own entertainment. I have discovered a place I must go every time I am here. It is called Hastings, it is a book, music, video store. Some of the books they get are discounted, deeply. I plan my trip there very carefully. I need a lot of time to comb through every shelf, looking for a title or author that I don’t have, but need to have.

First, I check the bin of bargain books. Today I found Necks Out for Adventure by Timothy Erring. I already own this book. It will be perfect for a person completing their student teaching. This one will be a gift. Next I go to the bargain shelves. I moved Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett to the small cart the store so conveniently provides. This will be use for voice and it shows how you can weave facts into a story, plus the format is unusual (postcards).  I have worked my way around several cases of the bargain books.

I move to on the nonfiction section. This has been a treasure trove of books by Steve Jenkins (I love his books!). Again I win, but this is not for me. The board book Move is perfect for my friend to read to her grandchild. On the next shelf down I find another board book that I must get for my friend, Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. She was just complaining that she was tired of the same old books, so this will give her some fresh material.

Now, I move to the shelves where new and used books are intermingled. With Love, Little Red Hen by  Alma Flor Ada is on the shelf at a great price. Score another one for me! This book uses fairy tale characters writing letters to tell the story, perfect for inferring and letter writing. What’s this? Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray. I have Mud by her, so this could be a companion book, but it is also a great model for a slice of life story. Kindergarten kids will relate to this.

The most expensive book ($8.49) is on the next shelf. Help Me, Mr. Mutt by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. Another letter format book and so funny. I can see kids using this as a mentor for creating their own letters to an advice column. I decide to splurge on this one, usually I don’t go over $4.99.

Do you see why I love this place? Sigh . . .  this is my last visit this year. Hopefully, I will be back working with the teachers again next year. I will miss my monthly visit to this store. The good thing is they will have five months to stock the shelves with new titles for me to comb next year. Cross my fingers that this was not the last trip forever.

My treasures!

I Went in for a Buddah Hand But . . .

I walked into the Hy-Vee store determined to get a Buddah Hand. However there were none to be seen. A young man was stocking the produce department. “Do you have any Buddah Hands?” I asked with a wistful note in my voice.

“No, we haven’t been able to get any lately,” he replied with a sympathetic look in his eye.

He could see that I was crushed. “Can I help you find something else?”

I explained that I needed some kind of strange food item to share with teachers to demonstrate the strategy of questioning. It had to be something no one would know. He picked up something that looked like a sweet gum tree ball, but it wasn’t a gum tree ball. It was a rambutan or otherwise known as a hairy lychee. Even though it looks prickly, it’s not.  He squeezed it and the shell popped open revealing a shiny white fruit. It looked a little like an eyeball. He told me to taste it. It was juicy and sweet with a large seed in the center. Well, it’s not a Buddah hand, but it’s weird enough to intrigue the teachers I thought. I selected ten and hoped that would be enough for the second grade teachers.

I decided to experiment with something different for the first grade teachers. They will be getting a pepino melon and a black radish. I am curious about these two items since I didn’t get to sample them. I will be anxious to see the teachers reactions.

pepino melon

I was introduced to the idea of using an unusual  food to encourage questioning in Tanny McGregor’s book Comprehension Connections.  It is a wonderful resource for introducing  comprehension strategies. She suggests that students experience the strategy in a sensory way before applying it to text.

black radish

So, I arrive at school with my treasures eager to see which teachers will have an adventurous spirit with the sampling of these items. Most of the teachers took the challenge to try the food they were offered. We charted the questions that they had. They discovered that once they tasted the food, they had more questions. It was a great learning experience for all. There were surprises to learn who was willing to take a risk and who wanted to observe. They were introduced to something new, a strategy and a food.

So if you can’t get a Buddah hand, you might be able to find something just as intriguing.

More to the Strawberry Saga

I’m back to Sam’s. Will they be there or will I be crushed, disappointed, left with a bad taste in my mouth? The first case is overflowing with . . .  grapes. Uh oh, this is not a good sign. I have blinders on as I make my way to the back of the store (at least I get some exercise, that counts, right?). No cart for me today. It is strawberries or bust. First case, more grapes. My heart is thumping with anticipation as I round the next case and a beautiful sight greets my eyes . . .

Have you ever seen anything so wonderful? (Okay, don’t answer that.) Now the process begins, which box will go home with me? I pick up the first box, visual scanning skills are in hyper-mode. That box has a couple looking over ripe. Sorry, you are going back. Next box passes the visual check, but now I sniff near an opening. Does it have the scent of strawberry? Hmmm . . . .this is looking like a winner, but never take the first one. I check several more boxes to determine if I have the best box. I do. I turn to leave, but then I stop and think of all the things I could do with the berries on this very day. Repeat the above process. I now have two boxes, this is going to be a very berry-licious day!

Mmmmm . . . spinach, strawberries, and almonds
Mmmmm . . . spinach, strawberries, and almonds

”Aren’t