Saturday, November 28, 2015

Five for Friday dressing or stuffing style

Happy Saturday!

I love Saturdays because normally they mean my first day off from the week but this Saturday is also a sad reminder that this wonderful break is coming to an end.  It's been a great week and I'm excited to tell you about it. Here goes....

First I spent hours this week binge watching all my favorite morning news shows.  Is that sad? I can't help it.  I love being informed.  I've been addicted to the news since I was in fourth grade.  FOURTH GRADE! Anyway one of the big discussions this week was stuffing vs dressing.  The today show flashed a map of the US and highlighted all the states where the majority refer to everyone's favorite Thanksgiving side dish as either stuffing or dressing.  

The results?  About 75% of us say stuffing as opposed to dressing.  The area of the country that says dressing was mostly in the south.  Interesting huh? So I decided to ask around myself and get my family's take on the topic.  I'll leave you with a quote from our wonderful Thanksgiving host.  

She said "It is dressing! I don't stuff anything!" And there you have it.

I finally uploaded my first pack of mini readers to my TPT store.  I've talked about them several times and planned on uploading them last Friday but as you can see that didn't happen.  You can read about my inspiration for creating these little beauties HERE.  My students really enjoy reading these books.  I loved the first time we tried them out.  I passed them out during reading group rotations and they all looked at me and said "I can't read."  About three minutes later they were all reading and overjoyed with their accomplishment.  It was pretty cool.  You can check them out and have that experience for yourself HERE.  They will also be on sale this coming Monday and Tuesday!

We started our string of Thanksgiving events last Saturday with dinner at my grandmother's.  It continued on Thursday with two more Thanksgiving stops.  I'm not going to lie.  The holidays with my family is exhausting because we literally see EVERYONE.  It's also wonderful at the same time. These traditions begun long before I was in the picture and I'm incredibly thankful that they have continued since I can remember.  I'm thankful for so many years o tradition, lots of really good food, and my endless amount crazy, loving, and hilariously funny cousins.  I can only hope for many, many more years of this! 

I saw the movie Secret In Their Eyes with my cousin this week.  I wanted to see Creed as I love all things Rocky Balboa but we settled on SITE because Kait's boyfriend also wants to see Creed and he had to work that night.  We didn't want to leave him out so we decided to wait.  SITE was really good.  I thought it might be creepy but it really wasn't.  Just interesting.  I would definitely recommend it.  
As if we needed to eat ANYTHING else this we, we also shared a tub of popcorn.  I know.  Shameful.  I hate myself.

Finally. This week was another round of chemo for my mom.  This is how I spent the first half of black Friday.  Normally she has treatment on Thursday but due to the holiday they moved it to Friday.  This process is grueling to say the least any my mom is definitely handling all of it so much better than I am.  The good news is this treatment makes the half way mark.  Pretty unbelievable.  It continues to be challenging, eye opening, and humbling.  Here is a picture of my mom and I at treatment.  She looks amazing for having been through three rounds of chemo.

And this is how your teacher spent her Thanksgiving Break.  Well..for the most part.  Our first few days back to school next week will consist of Christmas program practice, a lesson observation by way too many people for my liking, the introduction of our elf on the shelf, loss of planning periods and no end of the Christmas madness in sight!  I'm excited though.  I say that now while I'm watching the news and drinking coffee.  You'll have to stay tuned to see how well it really goes.  Let the Christmas madness begin.  Be safe if you're out shopping this week, get lots of good deals, and ask yourself one question.  Dressing or stuffing?  Have a great weekend!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Five for Friday 1st day of break style

Happy Saturday!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Thanksgiving Break!

For the first time since school started we have NINE days off so at this point it's just happy everything!
I feel like this week's Five for Friday should be titled "Party Like It's Already Thanksgiving Break Style" because well..that's exactly what happened this week. So much so that I forgot to take pictures for half of my activities.  I'll have to improvise a little.  Here's what happened.

My neighbor teacher came over during lunch the other day to tell me that her husband thought it was a good idea for she and I to go out for Mexican that night and he would watch their kids.  I KNOW! Pretty great right?  Totally unexpected but without hesitation I said "let's go!!!" This was one of the events that I forgot to take a picture of.  Sorry! Here's my replacement image.
Have you made your googley eyes yet?? I talked about these in last week's Five For Friday.  I made these to use with my reading groups as a way to help them focus on each individual word as they are reading.  They've been really successful other than the fact that I find myself multiple times a day saying "no we can't take the googley eyes home" and "take that eye out of your mouth." Check out last week's post if you want to know how I made them and my rookie mistake.

Speaking of mini readers.  I wrote about my mini reader dilemma a couple of weeks ago.  I've been making my own take home readers for my students to practice their sight words.  I wasn't sure how the books would turn out or what my students would think of  them but they LOVED them and we've been using them ever since! You can try out my first book HERE.  I will be putting up more books later today.

It's very rare for me to go out and do anything on week nights.  I usually have tons of work to do for school, a meeting, training, or workshop to attend after school, and if I have time I like to leisurely catch up on Scandal as I have been embarrassingly behind on both last season AND this season.  I'm working really hard to catch up so please don't tell me anything that's happened.  Especially this week's winter finale.  
Anyway I don't normally go out on the week days however it was almost Thanksgiving break and our week at school was literally CRAWLING and I decided I needed a break so I went on not one but THREE outings.  One for Mexican and two sushi outings.  I love sushi and I've been harassing my sushi girls to go out with me for some.  Earlier this week we went for sushi and it ended with me feeling pressured into getting a hibachi dinner instead and it was most definitely NOT what I wanted.  Last night we had another round of sushi and this time I actually had sushi like I wanted.  We also celebrated the upcoming 9 day break.  It was great.  Here's a picture of me with my sushi girls.  It wasn't from last night but at least you can still see them.  One is my cousin Kaitlyn and the other is our friend Jess.  Kait's boyfriend also came with us last night.  I don't have a picture of him but I wanted to mention that he was there because we love him.

I've been feeling especially thankful this year and I decided to write about them this week.  I thought it would be fun to give others a chance to participate too.  You can check out 8 of my very special thankful thoughts HERE AND there is still time for YOU to participate too!  Take a look at my Thankful Thoughts post and link up yourself.

There you have it.  My week leading up to Thanksgiving Break.  I'm excited for this coming week but I'm pretty sure it will be anything but a break.  Lots of family, dinners, shopping, doctor visits, another round of chemo, and getting ready to go back to school.  So much going on and I am thankful for ALL of it!
Happy Thanksgiving! Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thankful Thoughts

My original plan was to do this on Sunday but in typical fashion by Sunday I meant Tuesday.  Today was a long day.  I think we're all in need of a break and the closer it gets to the end of the week the slower the week seems to go.  I decided last week I wanted to host my first link party.  I have a lot to be thankful for every year but this year especially I have feel like I have even more to be thankful for and I wanted to give others a chance to join in.
Here are the rules:
                                                           1. Copy and paste the image into your post
                                                           2.Link it back to this page
                                                           3. List 8 things you're thankful for this year
                                                           4. Add your link!

Okay here goes.

1. First I'm thankful for my family. I went to graduate school out of state and it was a great experience but I also learned to appreciate my family so much more.  You don't realize how much you take people for granted until they are no longer just a quick 20 minute drive away.

2. I'm thankful for my job.  teaching is without a doubt an exhausting and stressful job.  There's so much to think about and do and juggle.  There are also so much that goes on during the day that threatens to take time away from what we really need to get done and that's really hard sometimes.  Without this job though, I would have never learned to see the world through the eyes of a 5 year old again and I'm so grateful for that experience.

3. I'm thankful for my cousins. That they are fun, they come visit my class, that they let me talk them in to doing just about anything, and that they have big, gigantic hearts.  They are amazing girls and inspire me to be a better person everyday.

4. I'm thankful for my students.  Most days, they wear me out.  They make me wonder whether or not I have what it takes to give them what they need.  They don't always listen to me or do what I say but they all continue to teach me very important life lessons every day.  My view of the world changed when I started working with kids.  Their logic still makes me laugh and makes me think and I love that.  Kids can teach you a lot if you let them.

5. I'm thankful for my friends.  Who listen to me, who tell me when I'm being way too dramatic, who travel with me, and also let me travel with and visit them.  I'm grateful to have people that I can laugh and have fun with.

6. I'm thankful for teachers.  I come from a family of teachers and several friends that are teachers.  Teachers are some of the few people left that believe it's important to have a high standard.  To set expectations and expect that someone else meets them.  They believe in self discipline, doing what's right, and earning everything you have.  They keep the world spinning and I'm grateful to be one of them.

7. I'm grateful for modern medicine and the growth of cancer treatment.  Every time I go to a doctor visit with my mom I'm overwhelmed by how much they've learned about cancer and treatment side effects.  It's unbelievable how they are advancing and I can only hope that one day they will find a cure for these horrible diseases.  I'm thankful for the doctors and researchers who continue to find ways to treat and make the treatment process a little more bearable.  I'm grateful to all of the cancer patients that have come before my mom.  Who participated in studies and experimental treatments so they could learn more about the different ways to treat cancer.  I am truly humbled by your bravery and courage.
8. Finally, I'm thankful for my life.  It has not at all happened the way I thought it would.  Some days I wonder how on Earth I ended up here...doing this...but I'm so fortunate to have learned the lessons that I've learned in the process.  It has brought me more blessings than I could ever imagine.

I'm breaking my own rule and adding one more thankful thought because..well...I can. I'm also incredibly grateful for all of the people who serve and protect our country.  After the recent events in Paris this week I hope that we all remember that our country is strong because we are united and unity is what will continue to keep us strong and safe.  We could all benefit from practicing some very basic Kindergarten rules:make good choices, be respectful to each other, work hard, and work together.

Okay! Now it's your turn.  Follow the rules at the top and add your link at the bottom.  Happy Tuesday.  Three more days til break!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Five for Friday count down to break style

Happy weekend!
We are on the downward slope to Thanksgiving break.  I'm really excited because this year we have a week off for Thanksgiving.  Last we had two days off for "break."  Did you hear me?? TWO DAYS! We had Thursday off for Thanksgiving Day and also Friday.  We had an OKAY break for Christmas but a couple of random snow days wiped out what would have been our spring break so essentially we went from January to June with NO BREAK.  It was tough. With all of this talk of increased "rigor" and challenging students' developmental abilities it's important to remember we still need to pace ourselves.  It's not enough to say that we were physically present at school for a certain amount of days if our students mentally shutdown the last 10 or 15 days.    Quality over quantity people!  That's all I have to say about that.
Over the weekend my cousins and I went to see a musical production of Alice in Wonderland with my cousins.  It was performed by a group of local students of the Academy of Arts.  It was mostly middle school aged students and they did a pretty good job.  This is us before the show. 
We were off on Wednesday for Veteran's Day.  I wanted to do something other than just enjoy the day off because I think it's important to remember why we are blessed with these holidays so I wrote a special Veteran's Day post.  You can read it HERE if you like.  I will worn you that my mother, who some days may be the only person who reads this, informed me that it was a little"lengthy."  I don't know how I feel about that comment.  Apparently I had too much to say.  You be the judge.


We tried something new this week during reading centers.  We are learning sight words and it involves a lot of memorization.  I'm trying to get my students to not just memorize the sentences they are "reading" but also look at the words as they're saying them.  So I made googly eye pointers for them to use during their reading group.  
It's very easy to do.  All you need are Popsicle sticks, googly eyes, and hot glue.  I tried to skip the hot glue step and the first day I attempted to use them all of the eyes fell off.  Ooops! So word to the wise, hot glue the eyes on your Popsicle sticks.  They work wonders now, the kids love them, and they are looking at the words and reading at the same time.  Problem solved!
As part of our week/weekend of surprise fun over the weekend we had a little birthday celebration with cupcakes from The Cupcakery. It's my favorite cup cake bakery.  This is a picture of the red velvet but they also have amazing chocolate, pumpkin, and all kinds of other different flavors.  You can also customize you favorite flavors with different colored frosting and edible decorations.  They are DE-licious!
This is a first for me. I'm hosting my very first link party.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I always like to do activities with my class that involve reasons to be thankful.  I also wanted to post some things that I'm especially thankful for this year and I thought there may be others who want to do the same.  I'll be sharing my post tomorrow and I'll add a link up if you want to join. 
And that's it.  Remember to stop by tomorrow if you want to share your thankful thoughts!  Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Symbol of Freedom..and a thank you

Happy Veteran's Day everyone!

I've seen so many posts today on social media today in honor of our Veterans.  We are off from school and I have to shamefully admit that I was extremely giddy at the thought of not having to set my alarm last night and knowing that in the morning I could leisurely sip my coffee and watch a few hours of morning news shows.  If you've ever read my blog before you know that I am a total news junkie.  It was so nice to see so many stories of people who are working to give back to our veterans.  As someone who works in a service industry I know that when your job description includes giving to others that often means giving A LOT and sometimes not always getting much in return.  So today, I could say a quick thank you to all of the veterans for my day off, my coffee time, and my morning news fix but I like to share one of my favorite experiences as a thank you instead.

I went to graduate school in Baltimore, Maryland and one of my favorite memories from that time was seeing the Air Force band's annual Christmas concert in Washington D.C.  I say this like it's been decades since I was a graduate students but it's only been a couple of years.  Stop trying to age me! Anyway, every year the bands performs a free concert. It's a bit challenging to get tickets, I wouldn't know because I was never in charge of getting them but I know it involves advanced planning. It's well worth it though.

I was lucky enough to see the show twice while I was living there and if you're looking for an experience to inspire you, brighten your holiday, and give you a reason to be grateful then this is your kind of show.  Beautiful music and singing and always a very special guest arrives.  I sat in amazement on both occasions as I watched these talented musicians and tried to wrap my head around the fact they were also service men and women.  I gained so much more respect for them that day, as if that were even possible, because I saw for myself that there is no limit to their form of service.  If THESE are the men and women representing our country...I want to know more about them.  I want to support their cause.  They truly personify the word service.

In my classroom we are working toward mastering the Pledge of Allegiance and it's been a little challenging.  Kids are so amazing in that they understand that something is important even if they don't understand why.  One of my students started repeating my daily directions of "everybody up, hand over your heart, look at the flag."  He makes that announcement every morning after hearing the announcement "good morning, please stand for the pledge."  It makes me proud to know that if nothing else right now they know the pledge in important and that the flag is a symbol of importance. One day they will know that it stands for all our freedoms in this country and the men and women who serve and protect us.

So thank you to all of you who have served our great nation in the past or present.  Thank you to your families who also sacrifice for your service.  We can not even begin to understand what it takes for you to do your job but know that in Kindergarten you will show the utmost respect to you every morning.  So in the words of my little pledge announcer "everybody up, hand over your heart, and wook at de fwag pwease!"

Happy Veteran's Day and thank you!  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Five for Friday Surprise Style

Happy, HAPPY Weekend!
It's been busy week as usual.  I was wondering if my little minis would return from their Halloween weekend just in time for a sugar crash but they were bright and ready to go on Monday.  No sugar crash!
Of course Saturday was Halloween.  The neighborhood I grew up in, in my opinion, is like the holy grail for trick or treating.  I'm sure there are many places that are great for trick or treating but I'm just saying a kid can get some serious loot in about an hour in this town.  Especially if you know the good routes to take around town.  My parents' house is a little further back from the main road and their street is usually blocked off my the town police or fire trucks so they usually don't get trick or treaters but the neighbor kids always come over to show off their costumes and my mom makes them a Halloween treat bag.  I don't have a picture of us because we didn't take any with my phone but trust me they were cute.

This week was also my mom's 2nd chemo treatment.  She has 4 more treatments to go.  Each day brings a new challenge and something to learn but we are moving through it.  I can't say enough about her team of doctors and nurses at the breast cancer center along with the team of nurses at the infusion center.  They are all so knowledgeable and patient and friendly.  They make this experience a little less painful every time.  Here's a picture of my mom and I at treatment.  Notice anything different about her?
Like I said before every day with cancer is a challenge.  This week we've seen yet another ugly side of cancer.  Hair loss is one of the many and probably most noticeable side effects of chemo and it's something we've all been dreading.   I did some research and found a hair replacement center that has program for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.  We took my mom for a consultation last week and made a plan for what would be best for her.  We took her back this week and I felt like I was watching a miracle worker.  I'll let you be the judge of what you think he did but in the mean time here is a picture of my mom with John the owner/miracle worker and his very cool assistant Jessica.  Not only do they do amazing work, they also have a way of giving life back to a person in the face of a disease that works so hard to strip them of their identity. 

Here comes the surprise part.  Were you wondering why this was titled "surprise style?"  Well.  Here you go.  We had an very unexpected visit at my mom's chemo treatment on Thursday.  My cousin, Alana, is currently living and working in Honduras.  She had visited the country several times through mission work since she was a teenager and told us all with utmost certainty that she WOULD be living and working there one day.  She is a girl on a mission with a gigantic heart.  She, her gigantic heart, and best friend planned the ultimate surprise this week.  She flew in unannounced to surprise her mom for her birthday Thursday morning and surprised my mom at the hospital during her chemo treatment. It was impressive and she was proud of herself. 

On Friday Alana came in to visit my class.  Part of her duties in Honduras includes living and working with young children.  She loves kids and wanted to visit.  I also wanted her to share a little bit about living in different part of the world.  She read my class a story and taught them how to count to 10 in Spanish.  I think she enjoyed my class and some of them had some good questions to ask her.  I told them they had to call her Miss Alana otherwise they would have to call us both Ms. Neptune.  I don't know what they enjoyed more, calling us both Ms. Neptune and Ms. Neptune or the purple tips in Alana's hair. 

So that's it.  A little surprise fun during a tough week.  I'm so grateful for the wonderful people around us and how much love and support my mom has received.  I'm also grateful for the new people that we continue to meet through this journey.