Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Fortunately, because we have been in a drought the last few years in Colorado, we had six inches of snow in Denver on Saturday night.
Unfortunately, the snow was really heavy and wet.

Fortunately, I have beautiful shade trees in my backyard.
Unfortunately, the snow was so heavy, it brought down a huge tree-sized branch from one of those trees.

Fortunately, the dogs were not outside when the huge, tree-sized branch fell.
Unfortunately, the tree hit the power lines and pulled them down.

Fortunately, the downed power lines didn’t spark or start a fire.
Unfortunately, the downed power lines meant I had no heat or electricity.

Fortunately Xcel Energy has a 24-hour emergency hot line.
Unfortunately there were six or seven thousand people without heat and electricity, all trying to call the emergency hot line.

Fortunately, I finally got through.
Unfortunately, because there were six or seven thousand people needing help, the wait time of 3 hours was probably going to be extended.

Fortunately, it was Sunday and I didn’t have to go to work.
Unfortunately, it was Mother’s Day and I had planned to go to brunch with my mother and sister at 11:00.

Fortunately, I called after I had waited for almost six hours, because I discovered that I didn’t need to be there for Xcel to restore the power.
Unfortunately, I had already missed our brunch reservations.

Fortunately, I had finished teaching my last adult class on Saturday morning.
Unfortunately, I still had a “Training the Trainers” presentation to do on Monday afternoon from 4:30-7:30.

Fortunately, I had finished teaching the adult class on Saturday.
Unfortunately, I had spent so much time responding to their work that I had not yet spent much time on the Training the Trainers session.

Fortunately, because I had not gone to Colorado Springs for Mother’s Day
I had most of the day open to work on the presentation.
Unfortunately, I needed internet access to do it.

Fortunately, the library is open on Sunday and has free internet access.
Unfortunately, I had only gotten through about half of what I needed before the library closed at 5.

Fortunately, about 4:30 I got an automated call that my power was restored
Unfortunately, when I got back to my house, I discovered I still did not have phone service, or internet, or cable.

Fortunately, Comcast has a 24-hour hotline.
Unfortunately, you have to enter your ten-digit phone number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, your Comcast account number, and your underwear size at least five times before you get to talk to a live person.

Fortunately, Comcast already had my house on an emergency list and were planning on coming out that night between 7 and 8
Unfortunately, no one showed up.

Fortunately, I had Comcast’s number and could call again.
Unfortunately, when I asked to speak with a supervisor, I was mysteriously disconnected.

Fortunately, I had time to repeat the process one more time. .
Unfortunately, I had to enter my ten digit phone number, fourteen digit account number, last four digits of my social, and underwear size all over again.

Fortunately, they had an appointment available on Tuesday morning
Unfortunately, I have to proctor for PARCC and can’t take off school.

Fortunately, there are also evening appointments available.
Unfortunately, Comcast’s idea of “evening” is 4-6 p.m.

Fortunately, my principal is understanding and will let me leave as soon as the kids are gone.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much faith that Comcast will really show up. 

Fortunately, I live fairly close to a copy shop and was able to print the documents I needed for my Monday presentation.
Unfortunately, it cost over $50 to do it.

Fortunately, my power was restored.
Unfortunately, it was a temporary fix, which involved temporarily connecting my house to my neighbor’s power line, and did not remove the downed power liens from the backyard.

Fortunately, I have two great dogs to keep me company
Unfortunately, the dogs need to go outside several times each day.

Fortunately, I have a dog door and the dogs can go in and out at will.
Unfortunately, there are still power lines stretched across the ground in my back yard, which means that the dogs can’t use the dog door and every time they have to go outside, I have to put them on their leashes, and walk them around the block.

Fortunately, I found five minutes yesterday to call and ask about the downed power lines.
Unfortunately, I learned that it could be up to five days before those lines are removed from my backyard.

Fortunately, I have internet at school.
Because it’s Tuesday, and in spite of everything else, I’m determined to post my Slice of Life.

Monday, May 11, 2015


Another new book about reading! This one comes from Belgium!

Roger is sitting in his apartment, enjoying the peace and quiet, and attempting to read a book. Unfortunately, his next door neighbor, Emily, has much noisier pastimes, e.g. bouncing a basketball, moves on to singing, playing the drums, and juggling. . Roger knocks noisily on the walls, more than once, but each time, the noise steps for a minute and then starts again. Finally, Roger goes out and buys Emily her own book. The noise problem is solved, but just for a minute.

Great, great, great story! Sparse text with wonderful repetition and terrific sound effects! Really fun and different illustration style!

Sunday, May 10, 2015


A little girl named Bella is taking her giant dog for a stroll across the page of a book, when all of a sudden, the dog disappears. Her friend Ben tries to help, as does a dog rescue truck and several other emergency vehicles, but they disappear too. Bella decides she will have to solve the mystery herself.

A super simple, really fun picture book, that's sure to be a hit with preschoolers and early grade readers (and their teachers!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slice of Life

At 3:50 on Saturday morning I am wakened by the phone.

My heart pounds when I see my Son #1's number is in the caller id.

"I need you to help me," he says.

My mind immediately goes to a dark place. We have been here before.  I suspect that he is high and wants money.

He doesn't.

"What do you need?"

"I can't find my car"

"You can't find your car?" I repeat stupidly, trying to shake the sleep from my foggy head. "Where are you?"

"I'm downtown. Eighteenth and Market. I just got off work and I can't find my car. Will you help me?"

I mentally map out my options.

I could just leave him there. I could call him a cab. I could call the police and see if his car has been towed. Any of those would be appropriate, especially given our current situation.

But there's the Baltimore thing. Where a black man was severely injured while in police custody.  and later died.

And then there's the gang stuff going on in Denver right now. There's a shooting almost every night.

I cannot bear to leave my son standing on a corner.

I cannot bear to imagine what might happen.

I am afraid.

And so I go.

Throw on my jeans at four in the morning and drive twenty minutes to downtown.

Find my son sitting down, leaning against a building.

Pull over and let him into the car.

Drive around for thirty minutes and finally find his car.

Discover that he really wasn't working, but was, instead out with friends.

Who left him somewhere.

And so he called me.

His worst enemy.

His mother.

He called me.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Phew! I survived thirty days of writing poetry with the incomparable Mary Lee Hahn and several others! Mary Lee wrote some incredible poems this month, and you should really head over to one of her blogs, YEAR OF READING or POETREPOSITORY, to read them.

When I'm not writing (bad) poetry, I'm a teacher at a Dual Language school (English and Spanish) in Denver. (I'm not fluent in Spanish, not yet anyway, but I do speak enough to get by). We struggle constantly to find high quality materials in Spanish. Recently, I've come across two terrific new bilingual poetry books.

Poet/artist Maya Christina Gonzalez fell in love with trees when she was thirteen, and  moved from the desert to Oregon. CALL ME TREE/LLAMAME ARBOL is an extended metaphor comparing the growth of a tree to the growth of a child. Each page includes a gorgeous illustration as well as several lines of the poem, in both English and Spanish. Young children will love the sound of the words, but it would also be a terrific book for studying extended metaphor with older students.
Llamame árbol/porque/soy alto/soy fuerte/ y como un árbol/ soy libre 
(I apologize for not setting this up like a traditional poem. I'm not sure why, but Blogspot keeps making it run altogether. I've typed it three times and am out of time!)

Call me tree
I am tall
I am strong
And like a tree
I am free. 

Pat Mora has written many books-- two of my favorites are TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY and ! Mmmm! Mmm! Qué Rico! (I apologize- Exclamation marks in Spanish are a little different, but Blogspot is being ugly this morning). Pat's newest book celebrates the movement and power of water, around the world and through the seasons.

Water rolls, water rises,
water rests, water plunges,
Water swirls, water slides

El agua rueda, el agua sube,
El agua descansa, el agua se sumerge,
El agua gira, el agua resbala

Mora's poetry is accompanied by artwork by Meilo So (PALE MALE, WATER SINGS BLUE). End pages include not only a bilingual author's note, but also references to what part of the world served as the inspiration for the art. I love this!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

PO-EMotion #30- RELIEF

April is National Poetry Month. Every year, my dear friend, and Poet Extraordinaire, Mary Lee Hahn, chooses a theme and writes a poem every day. She blogs and posts at two different places- YEAR OF READING and her fabulous new poetry blog, POETREPOSITORY.

This year's theme was PO-EMotions. Mary Lee promised, "I will write a poem a day that either evokes an emotion, or uses an emotion word in the title or body of the poem. Her list of emotions is here

Today is the last day of April! And we made it! Phew!


I am relieved to know
I do not have to write a poem 

I do not have to rise 
long before the sun 
and stare at the computer screen
hoping words 
will magically appear.
And I do not have to
sit there after 
a zillion hour teaching day
cursing myself
for ever thinking 
that I might have thirty poems
to put out into the world.

I am relieved to know
I do not have to write 
a poem tomorrow. 

I do not have to feel guilty
because I am not doing school work
or house work or yard work
or any kind of work
because I am poem-ing.
And I do not have to scramble
around the glove compartment
desperately searching
for a writing implement
as the light changes 
and other drivers honk
but still I sit there
knowing that I must capture 
that one perfect word or line
before it is forever gone

I am relieved
to know 
I do not have to write 
a poem 

At the same time
I will miss 
our poetry community
Mary Lee's surprising images
her ever exquisite choice of words
the way she packs so much
into  so little space

And I will miss 
Kimberly's classroom vignettes
Kay's faith
Steve's prose poems
Linda's haiku
Carol V's glimpses of nature
Jone's "ll" words
Kevin's technological creations
and Heidi's surprising connections

Even so
I am relieved
to know 
I do not 
to write 
a poem 

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PO-EMotion #29- PRIDE

April is National Poetry Month. Every year, my dear friend, and Poet Extraordinaire, Mary Lee Hahn, chooses a theme and writes a poem every day. She blogs and posts at two different places- YEAR OF READING and her fabulous new poetry blog, POETREPOSITORY.

This year's theme is PO-EMotions. Mary Lee promises, "I will write a poem a day that either evokes an emotion, or uses an emotion word in the title or body of the poem. Her list of emotions is here

Today's emotion is pride.


it's such 
a delicate balance
that constant teetering

taking pride in one's work
and being prideful

being someone's pride and joy
and being an approval monger

being proud as a peacock
and the pride that goes before a fall

bursting with pride
and having to swallow your pride

 I wish the scales 
didn't tip
quite so often. 

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2015