Friday, August 5, 2016

5 for Friday!

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week!  We went back to school on Monday so it has been a l-o-n-g, busy week.. a good week... but a very, very busy one!
Last weekend my parents had a huge family party at their house.  My sister and her family came into town, which is always fun!  They also had my aunts uncle, cousins and all of their kids over.  It was a really great "family fun" day.

The kids spend the entire day outside.

Most of the day was spent in the pool.  However, they also spent lots of time fishing and enjoyed a huge water balloon fight.

At the end of the day, someone got the idea to have the kids dive for pennies at the bottom of the pool.  Somehow, the "pennies" turned into a ton quarters, dimes and nickles. 
As we started laughing about how expensive this game was getting, my cousin started throwing in dollar bills.  This was a huge hit with the big kids!
At one point he hurled a credit card into the pool too. It was so funny.  All around, a perfect day.

Monday was the first day back to school.  I have made lots of progress in my room... but you will have to trust me until next week since this is the only photo I took of my classroom all week.

 I saw this on Facebook last night and couldn't stop laughing.  SO funny!
 (Thanks for the laugh Teaching in Progress!)
We have actually had more time in our classrooms this year than any other year.  It has been wonderful... but I think most teachers can relate to this feeling at one time or another ;).

Last night a huge group of teachers from school got together to go see the movie Bad Moms.
I think there were 23 teachers that went.  We figured out that we had teachers from every grade level and every team.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  The movie was hilarious.  There is some off color language but it is hilarious!  We have never had such a big group get together outside of school before and it was awesome!  We are hoping to make it a monthly thing this year.  

 If I wasn't tired enough this week, after I got home from school Monday I read about a grant opportunity through Target and Donors Choose. It sounded exciting and I was inspired. I tend to get things done quickly and do pretty good work... but I do it all at once... and it can be a little exhausting.  (Especially during the first week back to school!)

 Anyway, I wound up writing two Donors Choose grants for my classroom!
Kindergarten Kids- Wiggling Our Way to Healthy Learning and
Tiny Teachers: Playing and Learning Our Way to Healthy Habits, which only needs $97 more to be fully funded!!

All donations made to my projects before August 9 will be matched by Donors Choose when the code LIFTOFF is used... in case you know anyone who might be interested in donating.  :)

Finally, I am putting my #1 seller on sale this weekend!  

It includes 40 different character traits!  So, you can focus on a different trait each week... or you can just pick and choose the traits that your school focuses on.  

There are 2 different posters, a writing prompt, and "caught being good" slips included for each of the 40 character traits.

You can grab this on sale through Monday HERE.

Have a fabulous weekend!!

Friday, July 29, 2016

5 for Friday!

Happy Friday!  I am linking up with Doodle Bug Teaching for another Five for Friday post today.  I am trying hard not to think about the fact that this is my LAST week of summer vacation!  Next week's post will be full of classroom photos and "back to school"... hard to believe!  
My identical twins are going to be a little less identical for awhile!

My sweet Matt had his "Phase 1" braces put on this week.  He was super nervous... but he did great!

Isn't he cute?
My husband and I laugh (so we don't cry) because we keep taking kids to the dentist and getting great reports but there is ALWAYS a very, very, very expensive catch.  
Here is how it tends to go:
"No, cavities, looks great!  But it is time to pull these 3 teeth to put in spacers for his adult teeth." OR
"These teeth are coming in great!  Let's get a retainer put in to make sure they stay in place." OR
"He is doing a great job taking care of his teeth... but it is time to see the orthodontist for that cross bite."

I swear, we must be the only people who can leave the dentist with no cavities and a treatment plan for over $3,000! Oh well, what are you going to do?  He's totally worth it.  We've gotta keep that heart melting smile in tip-top shape! 

Kirsten went away to cheerleading camp this week.  I was a nervous wreck... I know this is what kids do... and lots of kids do it much younger... but I like keeping my kids close.  She has never gone "away" where she wasn't with a family member before.

She was a little nervous when she was leaving but I got a text that evening that said "This is the most fun day of my LIFE!" so I think she got over it pretty quickly ;)  

She and her high school team went to camp at a nearby university.  They got to sleep in the dorms, eat in the campus cafes, and cheer from 8 am- 10 pm.  It was her version of heaven!

My friend sent this to me this week and I just about died laughing. 
I wish it wasn't one of those "It's funny because it's true" deals... but... it's funny because it's true.
It has been a bit of an indulgent summer... I am not looking forward to "real life" starting next week!  

As much as I am wishing summer didn't have to end... I am being reminded that I like routines... a lot. At the beginning of the summer I am always so happy to have no (or less) obligations.  The idea of "open" days is so freeing!  However, after about a month, I am craving a bit of "normalcy" and routine.  I am NOT saying I am ready for the back to school rush, everyone having tons of homework, carpooling around town non-stop... But, I AM saying that we can no longer all be in the house for more than an hour or two.

The people that I adore and love with all of my heart are driving me up the wall.  I have NO MORE PATIENCE for the arguing about nothing, the whining (about nothing), the mess everywhere I look, the 7,000 cups that are being left out all over the house... WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY CUPS?  I am seriously at the point of the summer where I am ready to throw away all the cups.  I guess that's extreme... maybe I will keep 6... then everyone can have 1 cup.  That sounds perfectly reasonable doesn't it?

Anyway, I am combating the end of summer cabin fever by getting everyone OUT OF THE HOUSE. It is about 900 degrees out, so that isn't exactly easy... but we are managing.  

When we haven't been at the orthodontist, or pediatrician, or ophthalmologist #alltheappointments we have enjoyed the free morning movies at the local theater. (The MOVIE is free, the popcorn is still the equivalent of a mortgage payment.)

We have also been spending TONS of time in the water... We don't have a pool... but we go out and find water all over town... the beach, grandparents' houses, town pools, club pools... we aren't picky!

Yesterday I was hit especially hard by the "we can't all be in this house" feeling.  So at about 5:05 I yelled for everyone to put on bathing suits and we would go "find water".  It wasn't great planning on my part since my tiny kids eat their body weight in food at every meal and decided they were "starving" as soon as we left the driveway.  

Luckily, the grilled cheese sandwiches at the club were delicious and only $3.95 each!  I was so excited!  Taking these guys to eat ANYWHERE usually costs a fortune.  This was the perfect answer. They ordered their food, swam until it arrived, we ate in the shade, and then they jumped right back in the pool.  It was the nicest "family dinner" we've had all week!   There wasn't one argument... no one complained about anything!  It was heaven!

I worked on a HUGE update to my Nursery Rhymes unit this week!  First, HERE is the Jack and Jill portion of the unit (which is a FREEBIE)

The complete unit includes 16 more nursery rhymes.  
Each section  includes :
-Poem with colored illustration to be used for a class display/ teaching poster
-Poem with black and white illustration to be used for student poetry journals, partner reading, fluency practice sheet, etc.
-Crown for students to color, cut, attach to a sentence strip and wear (adorable!)
-Student booklet for reading and/or sequencing practice
-Colored and black and white retelling/ puppet pieces- The colored pieces can be used for a class center and students can color their own to keep.  These pieces can be used to sequence/retell the rhyme OR they can be attached to a Popsicle stick for a fun, simple puppet.

I LOVE using this unit with my kiddos.  The little puppets and crowns make them so happy.  It is so cute to see how excited they get about the little touches.  

I added over 60 pages to this unit this week.  However, I am not going to raise the price unit the end of the weekend.. So, if you need some nursery rhyme materials for the beginning of the year, they are on sale HERE this weekend! :)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

How Teachers Relax

My friend Laura from A Grace Filled Classroom told me a few weeks ago about this great idea for a linky party.  I thought it was a fun idea and told her I would love to link up.

Then, yesterday I sat and stared at a blank computer screen for wayyyy too long.  While I did not actually get anything written during my 2 hours at Panera, I did have time to figure some things out.  Lately, I keep asking myself why I have a hard time blogging... I have lots of ideas.  I enjoy sharing them.  It seems like it should be easy enough.  1/2 way through my delicious tomato and mozzarella flatbread (which I highly recommend) I figured out that the issue is that I am "overthinking it".  It is ridiculous that this had to be a "light bulb moment" because I overthink everything.  I am sure that I would have been given the "Most Overthinking-est" superlative in high school if that was a thing.

So... I am thinking that the key to successful blogging, for me, is going to be thinking less.  That sounds like a terrible business plan, doesn't it?  Seriously, how unprofessional is that?  But, I am going to go with it for awhile and see where it leads me...

Wow, that was a lot.  So, in case you forgot why you were here,.. Here's the recap: I told Laura that I would be happy to write about how I relax.  Then I got writer's block and starting overthinking.  Here's how that went 'Hmmm... how do I relax?  Do I relax?  Maybe she means hobbies... what are my hobbies?  This shouldn't be hard... I like to do things... WHAT DO I LIKE TO DO?!?!? I like to read.  Reading is a great hobby... but I never have time to read.  I haven't gotten to actually read in a really long time.  I can't write about that.'  This went on, and on, and on.  I came up with a list (an actual list!!) of what relaxing might look like.  (Told you I was overthinking it.)  

Here is the list:
  • pedicures
  • naps
  • long lunches
  • shopping
  • visiting a spa
However, those list items are not crossed off because they were completed (like a normal list).  They are crossed off because they are totally unrealistic and things I have not had any time to do this summer... back to overthinking...

THEN, I had another "light bulb moment"!  I am a kindergarten teacher during the school year, a TPT author, and a full time mother of FOUR children.  I don't relax.  BUT, that's okay!  I am at a moment in life that is very, very, very, very busy.  "Relaxing" as I have pictured it in my mind is not going to happen right now.

However, I do A LOT to rejuvenate!  During this season of my life, rejuvenation is so much more important!  I don't want to miss anything!  If I "relax" through a spa day I miss a full day at the beach with my kids.  If I "relax" wandering through beautiful department stores by myself, I don't get pulled through the mall by my teenage daughter.  Right now, I need the rejuvenation, the fun, the "good stuff" that fills up my heart and soul SO MUCH MORE than I need a nap.  (And that is saying A LOT because I love naps!)

So, here is a little recap of my fabulous summer of rejuvenation with my beautiful family!

We started the summer with our annual trip to Ft. Lauderdale with my parents and my sister and her family. It is my favorite thing to do every summer.

This is a sneak peek into "Phase 1" of packing for 4 kids... it is a 3 phase process... I heard a quote once that when you have kids you don't go "on vacation" anymore.  Instead, you go on "family trips".  Funny and accurate.  I LOVE our family trips!  They fill up my heart... but I leave tired and I come home tired.  ;)

 This year we scheduled our trip over Father's Day, which was super fun.  Here is my crazy crew.  (You can probably see how there isn't much "relaxing" with this gang around... but they sure do rejuvenate this teacher-mom's heart!)

I tried to get a quick photo with my girls... Don't you love my silly photo bombers?
There is no napping in a lounge chair when you are watching these 3 in the pool for the afternoon... but there is A LOT of laughing!
Most of our summer was spent at the beach.  It is A LOT of work to keep my little red heads sunscreened and to get everyone packed up and ready for the beach!  But when we get there... heaven!

Something about this photo melts me.  I think it is the way she is conquering her fears this summer.  She started the summer afraid to get her face wet... now she tells everyone she is a mermaid because she never wants to get out of the water!
My "big girl" is still fun to watch at the beach too.  She gets her talent from her mom ;)  (Ha!  No, no she does not.  Unfortunately I don't have her talent or her abs!)

Since we have hit the parenting "sweet spot" where we have grown our own babysitter ;) I was even able to fit in a few nights out with my favorite guy.  Given the choice between resting and enjoying some music and wine on the beach... I will always choose to stay tired!

So, while I might not have had a spa day this summer, I have laughed until I can't laugh anymore. I have loved "my people" and spent my time soaking them up... and there is nothing that rejuvenates this teacher-mom's heart more!
How about you?  Do you relax?  Is relaxing a real thing?  Sometimes I wonder if it is just a myth!  Whether you have been relaxing or not, I hope that your summer has been filled with laughter and rejuvenation! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Five for Friday (My First!)

 Happy Friday!  I am really excited to be linking up with my very first Five for Friday post today!  I love reading these blog posts every week and I have had intentions of writing one for a very long time.  Today I am "biting the bullet" and making it happen!  I had a fabulous week so it seems like a great time to start.
I got to attend the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando!  (Technically this was last week, so I guess it doesn't really "count"... However, the last 2 weeks have been an exciting blur... so they are going to be blurred together in my recap too!)

The conference was so much fun!  It was inspiring, exciting and overwhelming (in a good way).  Teachers Pay Teachers has been such a blessing in my life.  It was great to have three days to celebrate, ask questions, learn, and collaborate with amazing teachers from all over the world.  (No exaggeration! I had the chance to meet an amazing teacher from New Zealand... how cool is that?)  I also got to spend lots of time with my sweet friends Laura, from a Grace Filled Classroom, and Reddishann, from The Reddish-Brown Crayon.  It was a fabulous 3 days and I can't wait until next year!

(FYI: I am both proud and totally embarrassed about this one.)
I started this little blog just over 2 years ago.  I have yet to hit my blogging stride... I have not mastered the "juggling act" of teaching, parenting, writing, running my TPT store and blogging yet... And it always seems to be the blogging that gets the short end of the stick!  I am really going to try to change that.

ANYWAY, after over 2 years of procrastinating quite some time, I have finally written the "About Me" page on my blog.  For some silly reason this has been stressing me out for a really, really, really long time.  I couldn't figure out how to start it... I wasn't sure what to write... so I decided to "sleep on it" (for 2 years apparently).

Now, this is starting to feel like a lot of build up... it's not amazing by any means... but it is also not blank.  I think that's a pretty big improvement.  So, let's get to know each other!  Click HERE to meet me.
I had a birthday this week.  A big, round milestone birthday.  The one that many people pretend isn't happening.  However, I am totally owning it!  A few years ago, when my 4th child was still a baby I was sleep deprived and overwhelmed when I returned to teaching.  In passing a friend, who was  just a few years older than me made some comments about how life gets so much easier in your 40's.  She had this theory that in your 30's you do the "work" of building your family and your career.  These are the years of new babies and new jobs... it is "the good stuff" for sure... but not "the easy part".  When I was in a sleep deprived haze she convinced me that in a few short years the pace would change a bit and I would get a chance to LIVE this life I was building in my 30's.  It probably sounds silly and overdramatic but it was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.

So, I am entering this new decade of my life feeling excited.  I am making a conscious decision to stop "sweating the small stuff".  I am going to spend more time enjoying my beautiful family.  I am determined to get a little more sleep... and I am going to count every single one of my blessings...  because there are so very, very many!  Life is good.

 To kick off my 40s my husband and I went to the beach with some of my best friends for the weekend.  Believe it or not, this is the first time we have ever gone away without our kids!  It turns out vacationing without 4 children is kind of awesome... who knew? ;)
 It was a quick trip but it was SO much fun!  We went with some of my very best friends from college.  We haven't had a weekend together like this in YEARS and we enjoyed every moment of it!  When we got home my legs were sore from paddle boarding and my sides were sore from laughing.  It was perfect.

So, as I mentioned earlier, I now have a completed "About Me" page on my blog.  Unfortunately, I do not have a completed "Freebies" page.  In fact, that page is glaringly empty.  I know, I know... I am now officially a 40 year old "grown up"... time to stop procrastinating and figure this stuff out!  I'm going to do that one of these days... However, it's not going to be today.  (I'm blogging today... I can't do everything all at once!  Balance, right? ;) 

ANYWAY, I wanted to share a fun, little freebie that you might be able to use as you get ready to go back to school. 
 These are the cute little class rules that I use with my kiddos.  Guess which one is my favorite?
Ha!  You can grab this set for free HERE

... and SOMEDAY this will show up on the "freebies" page of the blog... I don't know when... but it will happen eventually ;)