Posted in Family, Friday Favorites, School

Friday Favorites {#35}

Hey, hey! We made it to Friday. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this week has about done me in. Juggling my school life, the kids (and their activities), multiple appointments (doctor, ortho, etc) and more, I’m just drained. It always takes a couple of weeks to get into the “back to school groove,” and, at this point, I’m the only one actually back to school! ๐Ÿ˜ณ

I’m happy to see the weekend, and I hope to recharge a bit before Monday.

As always, I’m linking up with Andrea and Erika for this week’s Friday Favorites post.

Favorite Pic:

Haydenโ€™s baseball season will be over in the next couple of weeks. I love that Travis helps coach his team. Iโ€™m not sure Hayden knows how lucky he is to have a dad who wants to be involved as well as help him grow as a player. This pic is priceless to me. โค๏ธ (and, yes–they do bump heads sometimes like most father/son relationships…but I tell them to keep it on the field. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Favorite Kid Quote:

Hadley asked Alexa to set a timer for 2:45. Alexa said, โ€œA timer is set for 14:25.โ€ Hadley looked at me and said, โ€œSheโ€™s talking Army time.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜‚

Favorite Show:

Iโ€™m late to the Selling Sunset hype. Iโ€™m almost ashamed to admit it, but Iโ€™ve watched two seasons since last Thursday. I love this show. Just enough drama and friendship…plus they show (& sell) amazing homes!

Favorite Book:

Unfortunately, I havenโ€™t had as much time to read lately, but Iโ€™m loving 28 Summers. Hopefully I will get it read in time to chat about it in my August book post.

Back to School Favorites:

Last Friday, we decided to get school supplies and back to school clothes. I always take the kids to pick out their supplies. It gets them excited about the school year, and it’s always funny to see Hayden pick things out in five minutes while Hadley spends seven minutes picking out the cutest folder.

Then, we headed across the street to Vineyard Vines. Hayden is pretty low maintenance with clothes, but he likes Vineyard Vines t-shirts and polos. I was going to take him anyway, but VV was having 50% off for teachers and students, so I let him pick out an extra shirt!

I took Hadley to Target this week where she picked out a couple of shirts and a jean skirt to wear on the first day.

I told Travis it was his turn to partake in the Back to School “fun”….so he took them for new shoes on Sunday. They were gone a couple of hours, Hadley called me twice and sent me 15 text messages from Trav’s phone. haha!! Hayden is apparently a high maintenance shoe shopper!

This year, the kids’ school had a drive thru “Meet the Teacher,” so we drove through, picked up supplies, and chatted with their teachers. I am bummed this is how they are starting their last year of elementary school, but the school is definitely making these events as special as possible.

Then, last night, they had a Zoom Open House where they were able to meet all the 5th grade teachers and chat with classmates.

There were a couple of treats in the bag…but mostly textbooks! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Another favorite for me (and probably only me) this week has been getting organized. Hayden’s desk arrived, and Hadley already has a desk. My neighbor went to Ikea a couple of weeks ago, and I asked her to pick me up two of these rolling carts. They are perfect for holding their supplies for school, and can easily be rolled to the kitchen or office if the kids prefer to work there.

Favorite Purchase:

There’s a Bath and Body Works by Vineyard Vines, so after that shopping, we stopped in Bath and Body. I knew their three wick candles were on sale, so I picked up a fall scented one. It’s making me so happy!

Favorite Family Fun :

Cousin Wyatt turned 6 on Wednesday, and we got together for his birthday. For his party, he had a huge inflatable water slide. The kids had tons of fun and were worn out.

Happy Birthday, Wyatt!

I got them to pause for three seconds for a picture!

Hayden meant to wear his sports goggles, but insisted on keeping his regular glasses on while going down the water slide. Later, my brother sent me this pic saying Hayden looked like Squints from Sandlot. I’ve thought that since Hayden picked out those glasses, but it was funny to see the pic for comparison.

and here the cute cousins are in 2015 for Wyatt’s first birthday party. Time flies!

Favorite Food:

Last weekend, I made Andrea’s Peanut Butter Pretzel No Bake Bars. Hadley helped me make them; they were so delicious! They provided us dessert for a few nights.

Favorite Mom Meme:

Guilty as charged!

Bonus Fave: Flashback Friday

Hadleyโ€™s prepping for her dance recital. Her studio is going to video the routines next week while everyone is in costume and “dance ready.” This is Hadley at her first ballet class in 2015. So sweet!

2015

I love when this 2012 pic of Hayden pops up in my Facebook memories…PJ shirt, undies, shoes and a shovel. #pinchycheekcute He was helping dad in the backyard!

Weekly Recap:

Now, if you need me, I will be trying to keep my head above water and counting down the minutes to the weekend!

Thanks so much for reading!

Posted in Me, School, Tuesday Talk

Tuesday Talk: Teacher Life

Hello! I can’t believe it, but it’s already the third Tuesday of the month. So, I’m linking up with Ashley and Erika for their Tuesday Talk link up where you chat about whatever you’d like to talk about!

With school starting back up, and eighteen years in education under my belt, I thought I’d chat about why I chose to be a teacher.

To be honest, I always wanted to be a teacher. I played school a lot as a kid…but I remember liking setting up a desk area, organizing my teacher supplies, writing and coloring and then being done with it. No real teaching going on. (I also used to do the same thing as a kid playing with Barbies. I’d set up Barbie’s house, get Barbie and her friends clothed and organized and move on to the next activity!) The creative side of my brain lacked at that point, but my organizational/Type A brain made up for it.

This says so much about me…of course, I actually like the teaching part too!, but I make my classroom feel like home. I want students to feel comfortable in my classroom while learning and interacting with their peers. I always feel so much better about school starting once my classroom is unpacked and organized.

classroom the past few years
until I moved down the hall last October

I always generally liked school. I understood the importance of getting good grades and having a plan for the future. I struggled in school with math, but I always loved reading and writing.

My mom was a middle school Language Arts teacher for 31 years. I remember visiting her at school, drawing on her classroom board, and helping her grade papers. Her best friend taught Reading right next door to her. They even shared a wall that opened, so they could co-teach their classes.

My love for reading and writing combined with strong role models as teachers set the tone for my future plans.

I loved elementary school, and had wonderful teachers. Once I got to middle and high school, my English/Language Arts teachers always stood out to me fostering my love for learning and my desire to be a teacher.

I remember sitting in my first education class in college and the professor asked us to introduce ourselves and share why we chose the field of education. I shared that I’d always loved school and had so many wonderful teachers who made an impact on my life. I wanted to do the same for my future students.

I was shocked when so many shared about wanting to be teachers because they’d such a negative experience in education. They had teachers who weren’t passionate about their jobs, didn’t take the time to get to know their students, or were uninterested in helping students achieve their goals.

I realized right then how truly blessed I was to go to the schools I went to and have the teachers that I had throughout my educational career.

I hoped to create lessons that excited my students, build caring relationships, and provide opportunities for young people to grow and achieve in my class.

Also, I’m a planner. Even when I chose my major in college (and never once switched majors), I knew that some day when I was married and had kids how great it would be to the extra time in the summer with them. My mom was always home with us in the summer, and we rarely had a sitter. So, I knew those summers off would be necessary to recharge, but they would also be a good set amount of time to have quality time with my family.

Of course, experience is key. You can only read so many textbooks or plan so many lessons, but it’s the experience of being in the classroom, tweaking lessons, working with students, differentiating instruction, and thinking on your feet that really helps your classroom and your students feel like yours.

Every single year, in March, I make notes in my lesson plan book of what I want to do differently or strategies and activities I want to implement the next school year. Not that I can’t try some of those strategies or activities at the end of the year, but in August, teachers set the tone of their classrooms. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m forever learning. I want to know more and do better each and every day.

College and practicum opportunities didn’t prepare me for the heartache and worry that comes with being a teacher. Sometimes, your lesson plans shift because teenagers need to talk. There are kids that are more resourceful than you are because they’ve had to bounce from house to house. There are students who are sad, angry, and lonely…and school is the only place that soothes those worries. There are students who are hungry, and their only two solid meals of the day are the breakfast and lunch that the school cafeteria provides.

Through the years, I’ve gained perspective and sympathy. Also, it didn’t take me long to realize that most class periods needed to include time for interaction, and that sometimes the class content needs to wait. It’s more important to meet the students and their needs where they are because they deserve that.

Of course, I feel an immense amount of pride seeing my students overcome obstacles, master content, and succeed at their goals. I love nothing more than seeing a student walk across the stage at graduation, tell me about their post-high school plans, and come back to visit me and fill me in on what they’ve been up to in the next chapter of their lives. I hope I’ve made an impact on my students while encouraging them to try their best and be life long learners while keeping a plan for their future in mind.

I think we all know and agree that educators everywhere came together last spring when the country was (and continues to be) in crisis. Teachers packed backpack meals for students who would otherwise go hungry, made phone calls home, visited students (from a distance) to check in on them, created curriculum and provided instruction for a variety of learners who did and didn’t have the resources to learn from home. I feel blessed to be in a profession that comes together through thick and thin for the sake of our students.

Through my 18 years in education, I’ve earned one Bachelor and two Masterโ€™s degrees. I’ve taught at four different high schools. I’ve been a teacher. I’ve been a literacy coach. I’ve been an interventionist. I will always fight for my students, work with my peers, and take pride in my profession.

Oh…a couple more things I’ve learned through the years…

to always write my lesson plans in pencil…and there’s no tired like teacher tired (especially during the first few weeks of school!)

I know it may be a school year like we’ve never seen before, but I have faith in the teachers, the students, and the parents. We’ll get through this year together, and we’ll make the most of it.

Other School Related Posts:

I hope everyone has a great school year!

Posted in Let's look, School

Letโ€™s Look: Your Desk

Hello! How’s your week going? I’m getting in the back to school groove myself this week (in a very 2020 way!) Yโ€™all, today should have been the first day of school. Real talk: Hayden and Hadley aren’t mad about having a couple extra weeks of summer ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s the second Wednesday of the month, so I’m linking up with Shay and Erika for their Let’s Look series.

So far this year, we’ve looked at…

  • January: your bed side table.
  • February: your winter wardrobe.
  • March: what’s inside your purse.
  • April: Easter at your house.
  • May: your weekend.
  • June: what’s in your carry on bag.
  • July: your summer wardrobe.

**I must have skipped March and July.

The topic for August is, Let’s Look: at your desk.

Of course, my first thought is my desk at school. On my desk at school, I have:

  • Files and folders with school info, lesson plans, committee notes, and more.
  • Desk calendar: My lifeline. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have appointment and meeting dates and times as well as things I need to remember to complete.
  • Supplies: Tape, stapler, paperclips, binder clips, scissors, and more.
  • MU pencil holder: This used to be my brother’s (I think!) and I’ve had it on my desk for many years. It’s where I usually keep extra pencils for when a student needs one.
  • Family photos: I like school to feel like home, so of course, I add a few pics of my loved ones. (Fun fact: that smaller photo of Travis has been on my desk for all 18 (this is year 19!) years of my educational career!)
  • Books: I keep a couple of my favorite books that I reference from time to time on my desk.
  • Inside my desk: I keep more supplies in my top desk drawers like: pens, my favorite Paper Mate felt tip pens, my hall passes, notecards with student names for easy group sorting or calling on students at random, sticky notes, Expo markers and more. In my larger drawer, I keep file folders with school and student information.

2020 at Home Desk:

Well, I’m going to be working from home 2-3 days a week, so I needed an at home desk situation.

We actually have a desk in our “office,” but it’s where we keep Trav’s work computer and the kids’ schoolwork and laptops. So, I try to move out the way and set up my own space.

When I sprawl out at the kitchen table, I have:

  • My laptop: of course, I need my laptop most of the day to check and respond to emails, complete work tasks, and engage in Zoom calls.
  • Pad of paper: I love colorful notebook paper. I usually use my blue one for meetings and notes and my pink one for my to do list or casual notes.
  • Paper Mate felt tip markers: I use the markers daily in my lesson plan book and for taking notes and writing down ideas and to do lists!
  • Pencils: I prefer to write in my lesson plan book in pencil (besides dates and appointments)
  • Sticky notes: These come in handy for quick to do lists. Once I have a longer list of tasks, I usually break those tasks down onto sticky notes for morning and afternoon.
  • Lesson plan book: As an interventionist, I don’t have my usual schedule of English 1 and English 2, but I still use a lesson plan book to keep a schedule of what students I need to work with, which teachers I need to contact, meeting dates, and my own kids’ activities.
  • Coffee mug: (or something to drink). Coffee in the morning and water in the afternoon. Maybe a Diet Coke as a treat!
  • Glasses: if my tired eyes need them.
  • Pictures: Like at school, I figure a few pics help my space feel more homey…even at home! (I probably won’t put the pics out every day, but it makes the space feel more official ) ๐Ÿ™‚

I was able to unpack my room at school this week which always makes me feel better about the start of school. I sure hope I get to use it soon!

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts. Next month’s topic is Let’s Look at Your School Pics.

Thanks so much for reading! Have a great day.

Posted in School, Traditions

Not Just a Mom: Back to School Freedom

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Ours was actually pretty laid back with only a baseball game on Saturday. We started our weekend early on Friday by going for a family hike (more about that tomorrow!). Saturday afternoon, Hayden had a baseball game, and Saturday night we had a patio get together with neighbors. Sunday had me soaking in my final day of summer.

Speaking of which, today is my first day of school as far as teacher responsibilities go. For now, I’m working from home as much as I can until we get in a groove with the kids once they start back virtually.

I’m linking up with Lauren, Ashley, and others for their Not Just a Mom series.

This month’s topic is “Back to School Freedom.”

Well, I donโ€™t usually gain any freedom when school starts back as I swap my two kids for about 150 high schoolers ๐Ÿ˜‰

This year, those two kids are starting the 5th grade virtually as I work mostly from home as well. So, understand these pandemic circumstances I donโ€™t think I will have much freedom.

That being said, since we are talking about back to school, I thought Iโ€™d share a few more in-depth details about our traditional Back to School Breakfast on the first day of school.

Iโ€™ve mentioned this tradition a couple times recently, and I know it may seem like a lot of work, but I wanted to take a minute to share the methods behind my madness, and that really the cute breakfast set up only takes a few minutes.

Back 2 School Breakfast 2019 (4th grade)

Decorations:

Hayden’s breakfast place setting:

Hadley’s breakfast place setting:

I have a couple of these chalkboards from Hobby Lobby that I use for their first day of school photos.

The kids have had these clipboards since preschool, so I use one to display the Back to School Breakfast sign which is glued on to wide lined writing paper. We had pads of that paper when the kids were learning to write.

I have this basket as a decoration on our built ins, so I just borrow it and add a few apples for decoration. I put the muffins on a cake plate for decoration but also for them to grab and eat before getting ready.

Specifics on a few decorations:

A: Years ago, I printed the Back to School Breakfast page from Pinterest. (And, as I mentioned above, I just glued it on a piece of wide lined paper.)

B: I purchased the paper apples from Amazon. There are quite a few in the pack, so I just use one each year to write their grade.

C: I also got the This School Year Will Be the Best! book from Amazon years ago. When the kids were little, we’d read it together the evening of the first day of school.

D: Again, another Amazon purchase with the red and white checkered napkins. There are many in the pack, and I just fold one in half to sit on their plate each year.

E: The best pencils around. Dixon Ticonderoga! I just keep this same pack of pencils to use as a decoration in a mason jar for the breakfast.

F: I think last year was the first year I started using a folder and sticky note for a placemat after getting that idea from Andrea (which is where I also got the Back to School Breakfast idea. She does a “brinner” the night before school starts.) I had the sticky notes on hand and picked up the folders while back to school supply shopping with the kids.

G: The black plates and colorful cups I picked up a Target a couple of years ago.

Food:

My kids like these Betty Crocker chocolate chip muffins. I make them occasionally, and when I do, I usually make two packs and freeze some.

So, I make these the night before and serve with strawberries and yogurt. So, nothing fancy, but different than their typical waffle or cereal bar.

Goodies:

I’ve lucked out the past couple of years with these cute cookies from Maddie’s Cookie Co. here in Lexington. The mini cookies are perfect for a decoration on their placemat, and the perfect lunch or after school treat.

Amazon always comes in clutch with a book with the kids’ grade. This year, I found Tales of the Fifth-Grade Knight for Hayden, and President of the Whole Fifth Grade for Hadley.

Then, everything goes in this storage tub until the next school year! I truly am able to decorate in ten minutes because I just store everything in this tub.

So, those are just a few details of our traditional Back to School Breakfast. Do you have any back to school traditions? I shared how we prep for back to school in a post last week.

Enjoy these last few days of summer! I know we’ll make the best of this school year no matter if it’s in person, virtually, or a hybrid schedule.

Also, moms of little ones…don’t blink. I clearly remember taking this first day of kindergarten picture five years ago. (and wiping away tears as I dropped them off in their classrooms.) ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Now, my kids are on their last year of elementary school. How is that even possible?

Don’t forget to check out the other ladies’ posts and link up next month to talk about your skin care and make up routine.

Thanks so much for reading, and have a great week.

Posted in Me, School

Enneagram Backpack

Hey hey! We made it to Friday. I guess it’s technically my last Friday of summer before my teacher responsibilities start on Monday! I’m hoping to have a fun day with the kids today leading into a pretty relaxed weekend (with one baseball game).

So, back in the fall, I took an Enneagram test because I’d heard so many people talking about it. I posted a bit about my results and thoughts about the test in an About Me post in September.

I’m a 5w6. Type 5 means that I’m an “Investigator” and I have some 6, “Loyalist,” tendencies. I don’t live or die by these descriptors, but when I see something about Enneagram references, specifically with 5’s and 6’s, I usually like, “Yep. That’s me!”

Recently, I started following @cathartic_word on Instagram. Erin is an artist and her graphics are fun and beautiful! She creates various ones specific to Enneagram types focused on ideas like, “Road Trip Essentials,” “Step Inside My Mind,” and “Enneagram Colors.”

Recently, I saw her “What’s in My Backpack” series, and thought , with school starting soon, it would be fun to look at 5w6 graphics. They are pretty spot on for what would be in my backpack!

Type 5:

graphic c/o @cathartic_word July 9, 2020
  • Headphones (noise canceling) :I don’t know that I need noise canceling headphones, but I do like quiet when I work. Headphones are perfect for drowning out extra noise.
  • Notebooks: I heart notebooks. I can’t ever have too many. I tend to use one notebook (or colored pad of paper) for meetings, another notebook for lesson plan ideas, etc.
  • Books (old and new): Give me all the books! Y’all I know I love to read. I also love to re-read some books and even mark them up with pen and pencil or dog ear pages!
  • Laptop: I need my laptop for all the things.
  • Phone (for research): Can’t leave home without my phone. And, I do use it to look up many things as well!

Type 6:

graphic c/o @cathartic_word June 8, 2020
  • Water bottle: I have been working on drinking more water ๐Ÿ˜‰ I do prefer to have a refillable bottle to use for my daily water intake.
  • Planner: I must have my planner. Always. I have my lesson plan book (with dates, meetings, appointments) as well as my desk calendar and my calendar on my phone to keep me organized.
  • Travel mug (or 7!): If I’m leaving the house in the morning (for school, early game, workout class), I always have a travel coffee mug.
  • Phone charger: I’m the type of person who panics if my phone battery is less than 70% ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, a phone charger always comes in handy.
  • Snacks: I often have snacks on hand for myself and the kids. You just never know when you’ll need something to tide you over until the next meal!

Weekly Recap:

That’s a wrap on this week!

Go check out Erin and @cathartic_word on Instagram! What would go in your backpack for your Enneagram type?

Have a great weekend!

Posted in School, Traditions

My Back to School Prep

Well, it’s August which means it’s definitely time to start thinking about heading back to school. Of course, 2020 “back to school” looks so different for everyone this year. To be honest, in times of uncertainty, I cling to routine and traditions which is what this post is all about.

Also of random note…Today is my 200th blog post, and Tuesday was my one year anniversary of my very first Show Me and Sweet Tea blog post. Time sure flies! So did the summer! ๐Ÿ˜‰

I saw this on an Instagram story and LOL’d ๐Ÿ˜‰

And this one…#truth

As a teacher and as a parent, I have routines and traditions for myself as I prepare to start a new school year. I also have the same for my kids as they start a new year too.

As a Teacher, I…

  • Buy a cute lesson plan book and Paper Mate felt tip markers. I’m pretty loyal with my Blue Sky Planners that I usually buy, but I bought this one from Amazon this year to try. I always purchase new colorful pens to write down dates and tasks.
  • Write down important dates. In my planner, I always take some time to write down dates that we don’t have school, meeting times, and kids’ activities. I always feel overwhelmed at the start of the new school year, but having everything written down helps easy that anxiety.
  • Complete small tasks each day. I will be the first to admit that once the calendar turns to August 1st, I kind of panic. August 1st means summer is almost over and school is close to starting. So, to make myself feel better, I try to tackle a small school task or two as I can per day. So, one day I write down the dates in my lesson plan book. Another day, I might update my syllabus and go make copies. On a different day, I may set up all my Google Classroom and Remind text codes. Crossing those small tasks off starting early August makes me feel like I have a huge chunk of my day left to enjoy time with my kids, go to a movie, or hang out at the pool.
  • Finish my professional development hours. Teachers in my district have to have 24 professional development hours each year. Every summer, I knock those hours out before starting the school year. That’s usually pretty easy, as we typically have a 6 hour district day to focus on curriculum, a 6 hour English department day in August as well as a 6 hour school professional development day a couple days before school starts. Typically, I get the other 6 hours by going to a technology conference that the district usually hosts in June. This summer was different, but I was able to do the tech conference online, we will still have our school PD, and I completed a technology requirement for Canvas that’s 6 hours. So, the past week or so, I’ve been crossing off an hour at a time with online PD hosted my our media center specialist. Anyway, the point is that I don’t want time to catch up with me getting those hours and put off doing something I have more time to complete in the summer.
  • Get prepared for first week, so I can leave school ASAP. After setting up my classroom, I always plan the first three days of school, make all the copies, make sure technology links work, etc. The first couple weeks of school are so exhausting, and I’m always anxious to hear about my kids’ first few days as well. So, I like to be as prepared as possible in order to leave as soon as I can after school to get home.

This year’s planner and new pens! They make my teacher heart happy.

My classroom:

I make my classroom a comfortable place to be, so that I want to be there as well as the students. Itโ€™s warm, inviting, organized, and tidy.

This was my classroom last year before I moved down the hall. It was all set up for homeroom on the first day of school 2019.

2020. Right? ๐Ÿ˜‚

As a Parent, I…

  • Start back to school tasks a couple weeks before going back to school. Tasks like getting hair cuts, finishing summer reading, ordering backpacks, and getting school supplies always creep up on us if I don’t start crossing them off the list around the beginning of August.
  • Look at the Summer Fun list with a couple of weeks left of summer. The kids and I look to see what we haven’t incorporated into our summer yet and plan a few more fun activities. By early August, trips are usually completed or we don’t have any more time, but we’ll squeeze in a movie or an ice cream date.
  • Take the kids back to school shopping for supplies. I take my kids, each with their list, to Walmart to get their school supplies. I find that this gets them excited about school starting. They usually cross items off as they find them, and they each choose their own color folders, notebooks, pencil boxes, etc. Then, if we can’t find something, I still have time to order on Amazon.
  • Have a positive attitude. This is mostly a reminder for myself ;), but I find if I’m excited about school, the kids are too.
  • Start adjusting bedtime/wake up time. During the school year, we’re pretty firm with the bed time, but it tends to get pushed back in the summer. Starting the beginning of August, I start making the kids come in from playing outside earlier than in the summer. Then, I try to get them into bed a little earlier each week. Also, as much as I love that my kids sleep in past 9 am, I start waking them at 9:00, 8:45, 8:30 and so on leading up to the start of school.
  • Plan our back to school breakfast. I have all the breakfast decorations in a box, so that’s easy to get everything situated when they go to bed. I just make sure to bake the muffins and buy extra fruit, etc. for a special breakfast. Starting the second day of school, I’m usually throwing a Poptart at them while they make their beds ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Plan a fun activity for after school. The past few years we’ve lucked out with no practices or anything on the first day of school. So, we’ve made a point to hang out at the pool, eat dinner out, or go get ice cream as a way to be together and hear all about the first day!
Back to school haircuts and supplies, 2017

Our Back to School Breakfast is always something to look forward to. Next year, middle school starts later, so I may move to a Back to School Brinner the night before!

2019

I’ve already said that I can’t believe it’s the last year of elementary for my kids, but I also can’t believe that I will be starting my 19th year of teaching! Crazy!

Soak in these last days of summer before we head back to school in 2020 style!

Posted in Books and Shows, Currently, School

Currently…

Hello! How is your week going? This week has been filled with activities (baseball games and dance classes) as well as many hours of learning for me (online professional development). In some ways, it feels like life is kind of normal again. BUT…I know that it’s not. We are living in far from normal circumstances, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. For me, some days, that can feel overwhelming. That being said, I know the day will come where I don’t have to remind the kids to bring a mask or stress about what school will look like.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written a Currently post, so I thought I would do so again. These posts are a way to share what’s going on, but are also a way to to share a little bit of what’s on my heart or in my mind.

I’m Currently…

Marveling:

I’m marveling at the fact that yesterday was my blogiversary! I posted my first ever blog post on August 4, 2019. This week, I will write my 200th blog post. Writing three days a week was pretty manageable for me, but since April, I’ve been writing a post almost five days a week…Once we get back to school, I may have to scale back again, but while I can find time in the day, I’d love to write as much as possible.

In my first post, I mentioned wanting to start a blog as a way to do something for myself and have a creative outlet to share about family, recipes, books, and more. Show Me and Sweet Tea as provided me with just that…and so much more.

I’ve “met” so many people along the way. I’ve read a few blogs (Mix and Match Mama, A Little Bit of Everything, Momfessionals, Bev Cooks and more) for a few years. BUT…interacting with other bloggers, finding new blogs to follow, and reading comments on my posts from readers has been so rewarding for me.

I don’t get all caught up in the stats of my site, but WordPress makes it easy to take a peek at site activity.

  • This is my 199th post that I’ve written.
  • This year, I’ve had 12,400 visitors and 27,800 views on my site.
  • My most read post had 694 views.

My mind is just blown by those numbers. Again, I don’t get too caught up in the numbers game as there are people who have thousands of views every single day, but again, it’s just gratifying to be a part of this blogging community.

Thanks for following along on this journey!

Planning:

I’m currently thinking about and planning our back to school breakfast. I started this tradition a few years ago, and even though we start from home, virtually, on August 26th, I will still make that first morning back special for the kids.

I always luck out and find books on Amazon with the kids’ grade (5th) in the title.

Last year’s books were Fourth Grade Rats and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

This year, I found Tales of a Fifth-Grade Knight for Hayden and President of the Whole Fifth Grade for Hadley!

Reminiscing:

I’m reminiscing about the kids when they started kindergarten. How in the world will they be in the 5th grade already? That means next year is middle school. Start praying for me now, y’all.

This pic popped up in my Facebook memories…Hadley with the crossbody purse and Hadyen’s toothless grin…โšพ๏ธ

I clearly remember taking them into their school, having them meet their teachers, and praying that they’d remember how to count to 20 and spell their name, so I wasn’t a total failure as a parent who is an educator ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now, flash forward to today when I had to watch a You Tube video to help them with their math in their summer workbook.

Watching:

I’m watching Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi. Travis found this show, and I’m hooked. I love food and learning about other cultures and cuisine. Padma explores food and culture across the United States. It’s on Hulu and most episodes are 30-40 minutes long. I’ve seen the first few episodes which focused Mexican food in El Paso, hot dogs and German food in Milwaukee, Indian cuisine in New York, the Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina, Chinese food in San Francisco, and Persian food in Los Angeles.

Every episode is so informative, interesting, and inspiring.

Ordering:

I’m ordering baseball and dance photos. I don’t always order the photos, but I’m realizing how big my kids are getting, and I loved the pics. With that combo, it was hard to say no to placing a picture order!

Laughing:

I’m laughing at this meme that I saw on Instagram. I have a “note” on my phone where I keep a daily schedule and “to do” lists. It’s become really easy for me to move some of my least favorite “to do” items to the next day!

Trying:

I tried something new at Sonic last week. I always get a Cherry Limeade or (diet version) at Sonic. This time, I had them add in Nerds candy because Hayden and Hadley get that option in their Sonic slushies. Yโ€™all! It tasted SO good!

Snuggling:

We are all snuggling with Homer any chance we get. I know Homer loves having us home so much!

Reading:

I’m currently reading Maid. I’ve had this book on my list for a while, and I finally started it. In Stephanie Land’s memoir, she shares about being homeless, a single mom, and working to do whatever it takes to provide for herself and her daughter. This book explores poverty in America and shines a light on the inequities of working, middle, and upper class societies.

I’m about halfway through with the book, and it’s an interesting and eye-opening read so far.

Praying:

I’ve been (worrying and) praying about the start of the school year. At this time, our district is starting with virtual learning on August 26th. Usually, our first day of school would be a week from today. Teachers will start back August 10th and prepare for the start of the year.

I’ve had to let go of some of the things I took for granted like walking my kids to school on the first day which is what we’ve done every first day of school since kindergarten. This is my kids’ last year of elementary school, and it saddens me that this year will look so different for them. Kids are resilient, but honestly, they shouldn’t have to be.

Last year, I realized all the fun privileges the intermediate grade level students receive like being in chorus, on academic team, and so much more. My kids are going to miss out on some of those opportunities, not to mention simple pleasures like lunch and recess with their friends. It hurts my heart just thinking about it.

Parents are having to make decisions about school that they never thought they’d have to make. Classmates that Hayden and Hadley have had for five years may be educated virtually when we go back to face to face instruction. Some friends may enroll in private school for this year. It’s heartbreaking to me that elementary school will look so differently for them compared to what they’ve experienced in previous years.

And, of course, there’s the weight, worry, and burden that teachers carry thinking about their students and preparing for the school year with so many unknown factors.

I’m always positive when talking about the upcoming school year with my kids, but some days it is hard to put a smile on my face, answer all their questions, or wipe away a tear when they are sad or frustrated.

That being said, I’m trying to keep this in mind moving forward…

So, that’s a bit of what’s been currently going on. As always, thanks so much for reading.

Posted in Kids, School

4th Grade Wrap Up

Well, yesterday was the last day of school! It was certainly an emotional and fun last day for Hayden and Hadley.

Of course, we’ve been distance learning since March, but I was so impressed with the extra opportunities the teacher provided their students in the past week.

Last week, the music teacher hosted a Virtual Talent Show. Hadley (with the help of Hayden) had Homer do some tricks! Hadley filmed Hayden’s pitching in the backyard. They had a great time seeing what other students shared as their talents.

Also, last week, the school hosted a virtual International Week. Usually, there’s an International Night in the spring, so they modified some of those activities and students learned about different countries and continents each day and there was a video of a “Parade of Nations” with pictures of students representing their various home nations.

On Tuesday this week, the teachers provided a link for a virtual field trip to Ft. Harrod which was a trip they were to have taken in April. They viewed the video and interviews and had a discussion about colonial Kentucky. Of course, it wasn’t the same as actually going on the field trip, but I appreciated that they still planned the experience for the students.

Yesterday, the last day of school, they each had their final Google meeting followed by a virtual field day. Honestly, both my kids were pretty sad, Hadley in tears and Hayden pretty quiet, when their meetings ended. Hadley was so sad not to have a normal goodbye, and I think Hayden felt the same way, but in his own quiet way. While my heart hurt for them, I am proud that they care about their school, their classmates, and their teachers to miss what’s “normal” to them.

Transitioning to the field day fun helped them ease into summer! I think Hadley’s class ended up “winning.”

Here are my traditional end of the school year pics!

Hadley has grown (literally taller!) but also has matured so much this year!

Hayden continues to push himself out of his comfort zone and tends to be a quiet leader.

First day of school vs. last day of school. They look so much older to me with the comparison!

In kindergarten and first grade, the kids went to after school care. I remember picking them up on the first day of kindergarten and “making” them take a picture in front of the school. Then, they naturally high-fived each other…so now I make them do that every year! Hadley appreciates a tradition…Hayden grumbles at my requests! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Then, it was time for field day. On their Google Classrooms, there were links posted on the pics (the graphic in the middle of collage) with activities. Then, we took a pic of the kids doing the activities, sent the pictures to their teachers, and that’s how their classes earned points. All the activities took about 45 minutes or so. The kids definitely had fun! (and, of course, Hayden accused Hadley of cheating! ๐Ÿคจ)

Then, a few moms got together for some social distance silly string and water balloons for the kids. The activities definitely brightened their mood and were a great way to kick off summer.

This year was the first year our school has used the Dojo app. Who knew at the beginning of the year how much we would rely on it for communication?! The teachers and administrators did an amazing job communicating with us throughout distance learning and the sweet messages from the teachers yesterday had me tearing up.

When we picked up the kids’ supplies, each teacher had put a little gift in the kids’ bags. This sweet gesture made both of them smile.

My kids are far from perfect. I promise…but of course, they make me proud. Third grade was a huge adjustment last year as it was the first year of them earning grades, there’s state testing, other assessments, etc. Fourth grade felt like an easier year as they were used to the expectations but they also had more opportunities as older kids in the school.

Both kids ran for their school’s cross country team this year (coached by their dad!) and earned awards for their Science Fair Projects. Hadley joined Academic Team for the third year in a row and as a 4th grader, she was able to join chorus. Both kids ended the year on the Honor Roll…which earned them the red plate for dinner and breakfast at home!

That being said, I’m the most proud of them for trying new things, being a good friend, being respectful, and trying their best. (The last one is a work in progress…๐Ÿ˜‰)

Honor Roll dinner
Honor Roll breakfast

I’ve chatted with other mom friends about while this time has seemed surreal, and at times overwhelming, I will forever look back on this time and cherish it. I never stayed home with the kids. I chose to continue my teaching career (which was best for all involved!), so I’ve always treasured my summer time with them…and now I can add this time to my memories as well.

I have the best seat in the house to watch them dream, believe, and achieve.

I can’t believe in a year they will be in middle school #omg and then I will blink and they will be graduating high school!

Here are their thoughts on the 4th grade.

I hope everyone has had a great end of the school year wrap up and an even better summer.

Have a great weekend,


Posted in Kids, School

End of the School Year Interview

I can’t believe the kids only have one week left of the 4th grade. I also can’t believe how the school year is ending! I thought I’d ask the kids a few questions about how they felt about the 4th grade, and share some of my thoughts too!

I found these questions online, and loved how they were organized to allow for both kid and mom responses!

Hayden’s Thoughts:

August 2019
  • What was the best part of this year? Recess (#realtalk)
  • What was your favorite thing about your teacher? She pushes us to do our best.
  • What was your favorite thing to learn about this year? I learned more difficult math like how to divide fractions.
  • Who was your best friend? Graham
  • What did you like to do at recess? Play football with my friends
  • What is something hard you did? Playing the recorder in music class
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Basketball player
  • What was something that made you laugh this year? When my teacher would mess up, she’d say, “Oh man!”
  • What was your favorite specials class this year and why? Art because I like to draw.
  • What was your favorite school activity or field trip this year? Science Fair

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because…you push yourself out of your comfort zone when necessary.
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you grow as a runner on the cross country team.
  • It has been fun to watch you: become more confident as a learner.
  • Three things I love about you: your inquisitive nature, your loyalty, and your perseverance
  • An area you grew in was: your speaking skills.
  • You strengthened our family by: your smile and your affection (You give the best hugs!)

Hadley’s Thoughts:

August 2019
  • What was the best part of this year? Being accepted into the Gifted and Talented Program for dance
  • What was your favorite thing about your teacher? She worked hard for us and had special activities for holidays and other parties.
  • What was your favorite thing to learn about this year? National Parks
  • Who was your best friend? Stella and Maggie
  • What did you like to do at recess? Run on the track
  • What is something hard you did? Math (#shegetsitfromhermama)
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Elementary teacher
  • What was something that made you laugh this year? My teacher’s jokes and sometimes my teacher would call me Hayden (Hayden had the same teacher for 2nd grade.)
  • What was your favorite specials class this year and why? Music because we learned how to play the recorder.
  • What was your favorite school activity or field trip this year? Winter “Snow Biz” Chorus Performance

Mom’s Thoughts:

  • I’m proud of you because: you are enthusiastic about all that you do!
  • One of my favorite memories of you this year was: watching you sing and dance in your chorus performance.
  • It has been fun to watch you: continue to blossom into a confident young lady.
  • Three things I love about you: you are kind, inclusive, and fearless
  • An area you grew in was: dance performance and math.
  • You strengthened our family by: your intuitiveness (You know when I need extra help or a cup of coffee!)

I’d say that 4th grade was one of the best years for both kids. They are fairly independent with their school work, they have tried new activities, they continue to work on their confidence in areas of growth, and thankfully—THEY STILL NEED ME!!!

Cheers and high fives to a great school year!….even if it ended in quarantine!

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Take care,

Posted in School

Home โ€œSchoolโ€

Home “School” #fortheloveoflearning #andprayIkeepmysanity

Well, we are one week into this home school situation, so I thought I’d check in and share what we’ve been doing and hope to do during this extended time off.

First things first. Y’all, just because I’m a teacher, doesn’t mean this home school life is for me! This is a big adjustment for all of us. Also, I’m continuing to work on finding the balance of accomplishing learning with having the kids play outside and even have some independent time.

My kids were sent home with books and their chrome books. They can use the chrome books for their online math and reading learning.

Also, I donโ€™t feel like I need to come up with grand ideas as the kidsโ€™ teachers have provided the school work. I just thought since we have a bit of extra time on our hands, I could incorporate things the kids would like to do anyway….or activities we don’t typically have time to do. #nowwehaveallthetime

For me, (and the kids!) a schedule and a routine are important. My kids are going to bed just a bit later, but then they are also sleeping in. Instead of being in bed by 9, I’ve let them start getting ready for bed at that time and then lights out by 9:30. Thankfully, my kids have always been good sleepers and will sleep in as late as needed for them to feel rested. Of course, on a regular schedule, I’m more strict about it. And, actually, I don’t feel like we are too far off course of our normal routine.

So, I’ve basically told them that once they wake up they have an hour to have breakfast and do whatever they’d like (watch tv, text with friends, play xbox, etc). Then, the schedule begins…

  • Get dressed, brush teeth, make bed
  • Read for 30 minutes (me too!)
  • Play outside if possible/play inside (Legos, drawing, etc)
  • Lunch
  • Math for 30 minutes
  • 1 hour free time
  • Chore
  • Snack
  • Other learning (all the ideas I’m sharing below)
  • More independent play (or hopefully play outside)

Again, I’ve seen lots of schedules with specific times, but I’m just going with more of an order of events structure.

Hadley decided to type the schedule out (I think a few of her friends have done this) to keep in her room.

Or this schedule may work for you. ๐Ÿคฃ

Math/Science

Hadley had given Hayden this crystal kit for Christmas. So, we took the time to put it together last week. We found it at Michaels. *disclaimer: so far, nothing is growing! haha Probably user error.

Update: the crystals did grow! Took about 10 days or so.

We’ve also taken the time to bake a few treats. Hadley’s pretty independent with baking. She’s really good at reading the directions, measuring, mixing, etc. Baking counts as math and science, right?

Art

I’ve shared about these Sticker by Number books before, and they’ve come in handy for a little break in the academic learning. I even ordered myself one a few months ago.

Here are a few sticker books we’ve ordered in the past.

I read Andrea’s blog faithfully, and she always has really great educational ideas. She’s a middle school math teacher, but she also has a super creative side, so I love seeing what ideas she has to offer.

On Friday, we did this watercolor art project based on art by Wassily Kandinsky. Real talk: I’ve never heard of this artist! Well, maybe I learned about him in my college art history class twenty years ago?? Anyway, Andrea included three videos in the lesson. My kids watched all three and really enjoyed them and learned from them. Also, my kids also said their art teacher had taught them about Wassily Kandinsky. Yeah for prior knowledge ๐Ÿ˜‰

After watching the videos, I drew the lines on the paper. Together, we found circular objects around the house and traced them using pencil. Then, they traced them using crayons and then used water colors to paint. From start to finish, this probably took us 45 minutes to an hour. It was a great way to spend our Friday afternoon.

little artists
Finished products! I did one too.

I also saw people post on Facebook about Mo Willems, children’s author and illustrator, who is posting a Lunch Doodles series each day. The kids were excited to watch his episodes because they know his books. Plus, Hayden especially, loves to draw.

Lunch Doodles with Mo

Also, in an effort to support local small businesses, I bought Easter cookies from Maddie’s Cookie Co. for us to decorate this week. We love these cookies and want to support her business.

Social Studies

When I was tidying up my classroom last week, I found these books. I’ve had them forever as I’ve used them for years with some of my struggling high school readers. They are high interest, lower leveled reading. Thankfully, my kids are skilled readers, and these books are perfect for them to learn a bit more about these regions and topics.

The regional books have short passages about travel, folklore, environment, culture, people, and pastimes. After reading a passage from the book, I’ve just had the kids share with each other about what they read or write down three things they remember from the reading. They could also draw a picture or a map if they wanted to include some art in their learning. They aren’t reading the whole book in one sitting; they are just choosing the chapter that interests them.

I also picked up a few of the graphic novels in my room as well.

Experiences

Again, I’ve seen posts about various virtual field trips and online resources.

  • Zoos and Aquariums with safaris, live cams, and virtual tours-Cincinnati Zoo, Georgia Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Diego Zoo, and more!
  • There are museums with self-guided tours – Smithsonian, Van Gogh Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, among others!
  • International landmarks like Buckingham Palace, the Galapagos Islands, the Great Wall of China, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia with videos and virtual tours.
  • Theater, Film, Symphonies, and Operas live streaming recorded performances and music.

Of course, I haven’t checked all of these out, but I plan on using this link as a resource for some of our “other learning” time.

Hadley watched the daily 3:00 Facebook Live of the Cincinnati Zoo yesterday. The focus of the live was showcasing Kris and Remus, a cheetah and her companion dog! She really enjoyed watching it.

Also, the kids don’t know how lucky they are. Travis took them to the horse farm this past weekend to check out some of the baby horses!!

“Recess”

We’ve had lots of rainy weather recently, but thankfully, with each day, there’s been a break in the rain. The kids have ridden bikes, played basketball, had batting practice with the hitting net, walked Homer and gone for runs around the block.

We haven’t done it yet, but I know we can use side walk chalk to draw or even play Hop Scotch!

Also, maybe we can take a “field trip” and go for a hike soon.

Amy at Coffee and Cocktails at the Casa also had some awesome ideas! I love the idea about driving around and playing I Spy.

A Few Funnies

I wanted to leave you with a few laughs during these uncertain times. I hope these provide a giggle or two.

Real talk: Hayden and Hadley may want to schedule an appointment with their counselor for a schedule change due to a mean teacher ๐Ÿ˜‰

Are my kids probably still spending too much time on electronics? Yes. Do they still grumble at me when I ask them to brush their teeth? Yes. Also, you wouldn’t believe the number of times I have to ask Hayden to change out of his pajama pants in a day! Simply put, implementing a schedule and providing a bit of a routine is good for all of us…even if some days I feel like we get nothing accomplished ๐Ÿ˜‚

Also, I do try to be “present” in the learning with them. Except for math. I do my chores during math time ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just mean that when they are reading, I read. If they do an art project, I do one too. Also, I make a point to go outside with them for a bike ride or a walk.

I’m going to try to keep this routine over the next couple of weeks. Starting April 6, the kids will have more online learning, so I may adjust the schedule if needed.

Please share your ideas. How are you keeping your crew busy ?

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Take care,