The Perils of Blood Orange Soda

It was supposed to be an innocent shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.  Joey and I had just finished another errand – to buy a container of the coveted Super Lava putty – and needed to grab a few things:

  • drinks for my last session of grad class
  • flowers for my neighbor’s ill mother
  • a card to send to my daughter, Julia, who was at sleepaway camp.Image result for hot lava putty

An easy, fast trip, right?

It seemed that way until we came to the drinks aisle.  (Remember how I needed to bring something to my class?).

“I’ll get the pizza and Lisa, you buy some soda,” Dr. Portman instructed last Thursday night.

So here I was, following directions as usual, in the sparkling soda section of Trader Joe’s.

Should I get the Blood Orange variety or the Sparkling Pink Lemonade?  Or would they prefer Limeade?  As I pondered these unimportant – yet difficult questions – I casually placed the glass bottle (note – the packaging is important to remember) of Blood Orange soda back in the front basket of my red cart.

Image result for picture of trader joe's blood orange soda

If you’ve ever been to Trader Joe’s (or any grocery store, for that matter), you probably know that there is a plastic rectangle that you can push up to keep your groceries in.  Then you put it down if you want to seat your child in the cart.  Up equals secure, down equals open.

Image result for trader joe's shopping cart

Well, I thought the rectangle was up.

But alas, it wasn’t.

As I placed the soda bottle in the cart (and watched it fall quickly to the ground), I felt like I had entered a slow motion movie.  I remembered a moment years before, when Julia took a tumble down our back porch steps.  As she flew through the air, I envisioned the ensuing trip to the emergency room and all that would involve.  The mommy guilt took immediate hold on me, like a cloud of smoke filling up a room. miraculously, Julia emerged the episode unscathed, her blond curls a bit tousled but that was it.  Amazing.

But here I was now, as the aforementioned soda bottle crashed to the concrete floor of the drinks and condiments aisle in the Ardmore, Trader Joe’s.  Smashing into a million pieces.  Soon, the space around my feet had transformed into a slurry of glass, orange soda and…you guessed it.


At first, I didn’t think it was much.  The glass hit the floor, right? Not my body.  But nonetheless, tiny gashes dotted my legs.  Three on the right and two on the left, to be exact.

“I’m okay, ” I said to the cluster of employees that quickly gathered around Joey and me, like paramedics in a crime scene.  “I’m more embarrassed than anything, really,” I said to no one in particular, forcing a fake chuckle.

“I told you to get the plastic apple juice, Mommy!” Joey chimed in and although I couldn’t agree with him more, it wasn’t what I felt like hearing right at that moment.

Image result for trader joe's apple juice

Soon though, as often happens in times of crisis, the employees had cleaned up my legs and the floor, with a myriad of first aid items (band-aids, antiseptic ointment and wipes), a mop, sudsy water, and an old-fashioned broom.  During that time, fellow shoppers walked past, peering discreetly (and not so discreetly) at the “accident scene.”

“Do you want to fill out a report?” the friendly store manager asked, her notepad and pen at the ready.

“Of course not,” I answered truthfully.  “This was a freak accident; I don’t hold any blame on Trader Joe’s.  Really.”

She took my information anyway, to follow-up with a call the next day.  In the meantime, as always happens during embarrassing moments, someone that I knew strolled past.  (Julia’s former after-care teacher from years back).  We stopped and chatted for a briefly and I couldn’t help thinking about how surreal the whole situation felt.

Before I knew it, the helpful employees had whisked us up to the cash register, opening a new lane just for us to circumvent the three and four deep lines in each row.  They also dropped two bouquets of fresh flowers in our shopping bag – a small (but much appreciated) get well token.

Wanting this embarrassing ordeal to finally come to a close, I rushed home with Joey.  To be on the safe side though, I decided to make a quick trip to my local Urgent Care, so that I could rest easy that evening.

That visit turned out to be more than I had bargained for: stitches in three out of the five cuts!!  All from a seemingly normal jaunt to TJ’s on a glorious June afternoon.

Oh well, things could be worse, I told myself.

And in the future, I will take Joey’s advice:

Choose plastic.


Teacher’s Note: You might be wondering how this post relates to Literacy with Lisa. Here’s how:

As teachers, one of the most powerful things that we can do for our students is to share our own stories. To let them know that like them, we are also writers.  That we draft, revise, edit and publish.  That we make mistakes during the writing process, get frustrated sometimes and keep going anyway.

Most importantly, we let them know that the stories of our lives are worth writing about.  That they matter. And that their stories do too.

To quote from The Fabulous Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore:

 “Everyone’s story matters.”  

Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Image result for fabulous flying books of morris lessmore

So, what story from your own life will you write and share with your own students?

Editor’s Note:
For more tips on writing for our students (and creating a writing community in your classroom) read this post:
Building a Community of Writers from TWT

Got Grit?

It sounds simple, right?  I’d like to think that this is common sense.  But sometimes I think that kids – and adults – are so afraid of failing that they don’t even try.

“Falling down is part of life.  Getting up is living.” (anonymous)

The word “grit” is a hot topic of late.   Maybe it’s a buzz word in your school, district or community.  You might have watched psychologist Angela Duckworth’s inspiring  Ted Talk or even read her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

A few months ago, I attended a book singing/speech that she gave at the University of Pennsylvania, where she works.

When I listened to her speak, I felt newly motivated to live a “gritty” life, as a parent, teacher and human being.  To follow through with my hobbies and other personal interests.  To instill a sense of dedication and “sticktoitiveness” with my own children.  (Is that a word??)  To inspire my students to “keep at it” and believe in themselves.

This sounds great in theory, but sometimes life gets in the way.  Sometimes I realize that I haven’t posted anything new to my blog in months.  (Although in my defense, I have started many blog posts in draft form!).

How would Angela rate this, I sometimes wonder to myself?  Would she think I’m not gritty?

But then I think of the times when I have followed through in my life:

  • moving to Florida without knowing anyone to start college
  • attending grad school while working full time
  • improving my water-ski skills by dedicating three days a week to the sport – even when it meant driving an hour and a half before work one day per week (and eventually participating in the national championships)
  • more recently, applying over and over again with my local school district (for two years!) until I finally got a job

When I water-ski, sometimes I fall.

Often, it’s just a casual drop to the side, like I’m momentarily stopping to rest on the water.  As if I had planned it.  Other times, it’s choppier, abrupt.  Unplanned.  And occasionally, I’ll take an extra hard one, where I wonder if it’s all worth it, question why I devote so much time (and money) to something that’s so difficult.  But then I’ll swim to the boat, climb inside, reach for my towel.  I might be sore, tired, or frustrated. Maybe all three.  But eventually, I get back out there again.

As teachers, we do this every day.

Some days, I leave school on the high of a well executed lesson, a special connection with a student, the feeling of hard earned accomplishment.  I’m riding my slalom ski with ease, slicing through the water as if it’s butter.

But other days, I’m falling again, anything from the casual spill to the massive wipeout (an “out the front” or “header,” as water-skiers like to say). I leave work wondering if I made the right choice with my profession.

But when I drive home, I’m already reflecting about the day, about what will come next, about how to make tomorrow better.

Because tomorrow will come.  

It always does.

And I will dip my ski back into the water, grab onto the handle and take another set.

And if I fall again?

I’ll get back up.

So will you.


We have a sign posted in our classroom that reads:

Keep at it!

I can’t say for sure, but I think that Angela would approve.