Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I have a new blog!

It has been so long since I have posted on here. I have been so busy because I am going to be moving back to 4th grade next year and on top of that my sweet daddy passed away on January 3rd and that has been so hard on me that I haven't been too focused on much of anything except how much I miss him. I have to say that something very positive has come from my sweet daddy going Home. I have found myself being drawn closer to my God. I have created a new blog where I will be hosting my very first Bible study based on Renee Swope's book A Confident Heart. Please feel free to hop on over to my new blog and join us for our Bible study that begins on April 15th.

The blog address is - http://psalm119105.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching and a Cricut machine for Christmas!

Well, I'm back but not sure for how long. This is such a crazy time of year I don't seem to have time for much of anything let alone blogging. I have had a rough beginning to the school year and I feel like I am finally getting my groove back :-) I have been introduced to Whole Brain Teaching and I am in LOVE!!! I just started implementing it into my classroom last Thursday and my kids have responded SO well! I love how positive it is! I would love to hear how many of you have implemented this into your classrooms as well as how you are implementing it. Would love to hear any suggestions or pointers you may have to share!

I am also super excited that my sweet honey hubby is getting me a Cricut machine for Christmas along with some cartridges! I am NOT a scrapbooker so this is for my classroom! I am super excited because we do monthly name plates in the hall for our monthly family projects and I can't wait to use it to make super cute name plates for my hall displays!! I also want to use it to make some games. I am not very familiar with the machine and what all it can do so I would LOVE to hear about some ways you all use your Cricuts in your classrooms! I would also love to hear any cartridge suggestions you might have! Tell me what your most used cartridges are and how you use them!

Well that's all I have for today. I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend! Have a great Monday tomorrow!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Counting blessings while time flies

Wow, It has been a while since I last posted. I have literally had no time to blog. Just a heads up, this blog post is not going to be much about teaching today.  My life has been a serious roller coaster ride over the last few months and I am going to use my blog to vent, praise, and brag a little today :-)

If you have been following me for a while then you are aware that back in March my sweet Daddy, who is in advanced stages of Alzheimer's Disease, fell down the front steps at his home and broke his hip. He had to be hospitalized and have surgery to replace part of his hip. He then had to be placed in a nursing home for rehabilitation, during this time we came to realize that his wife (not my mother - my mother passed away 20 years ago) was not taking care of him the way she had lead us all to believe. She was elderly herself, 9 years older than my dad actually which means she was in her late 80's. I ended up taking over responsibility for his healthcare by becoming his healthcare surrogate. I am the youngest of 4 kids but I am the one closest to my dad so my brothers and sister decided that I would be the best person to be in that position. It has been a very difficult position to be in but I have a great deal of support from my siblings. Anyway, we decided that my dad needed to be placed in a nursing home on a permanent basis. His health was declining more and more every day.

In May we moved him to a nursing home closer to me and he has been there ever since. About 6 weeks ago I received a phone call from the social worker at the facility, she said that my dad was not eating or drinking and that he was considered malnourished and dehydrated. I had to decide whether or not to place him on a feeding tube. I discussed it with my siblings and we decided not to do the feeding tube because we knew that our father has a living will that says he doesn't want those types of things. So I told the social worker no and she informed me that we would then have to turn his care over to Hospice for Adult Failure to Thrive. That was a difficult day. Putting my Dad in hospice felt like I was giving up. It was hard but I did it.

Then about 3 weeks ago my brother went to see my dad and he found a HUGE wound on my dad's elbow, I had been to see him 2 days earlier and it wasn't there. My brother pointed it out to the nurse and she immediately called the doctor. They put him on antibiotics and put antibiotic ointment on it and wrapped it. The next day I received a phone call from the doctor and he told me that he had looked at my father's wound and he was 100% convinced that it was an ulcerated tumor - basically a skin cancer tumor that has been growing under his skin and then finally burst through causing the huge icky wound. He asked me if I wanted to send him to an oncologist to "officially" diagnose it and find out about treatment options. I told him no, because even if it was cancer I was not going to put my frail elderly father through chemotherapy. He wouldn't know what was going on, all he would know was he felt awful! The whole reason we put him on Hospice was to keep him pain free and comfortable and chemotherapy would not do either of those things. Again another very difficult decision but one that I had to make.

Things started to calm down and then, a couple Sunday's ago my brother called me and told me that my dad's wife had passed away. That was the only time I was thankful for my dad's Alzheimer's because he would have been very upset if he had understood she was gone.

It seemed to me like my life was on a downward spiral I hated my job, I was constantly worried about my dad and I spent a lot of time crying and praying. I lived (and still do) by a part of the Bible that my mother always told me (which are also lyrics of a song now) "He said 'I won't give you more than you can take' He might let you bend but He won't let you break" and "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" I knew that if God had started all this in my life He would be with me through it all. It seemed like every time something good would happen 2 things bad would follow it.

All that started changing though earlier last week when I got a phone call from my dad's doctor. He told me that the wound on my dad's elbow - that was supposedly cancer - was completely healed! The wound was completely gone! Then on Thursday this past week I got another phone call, it was from my dad's nurse, she said that the doctor had come to see him again and that he had his medication changed. She said that instead of receiving potassium twice a day he would only have it once a day. I asked what that meant and he said it meant he was getting better with his nourishment and hydration.

This past weekend I thought was going to be another blah weekend with things not going great! I had to replace my son's broken iPhone so we went to the cell store and I had looked online and was fully expecting to pay $350 to replace his phone, plus another $120 to replace my Otterbox case and buy a new one for my son's replacement phone ($60 for a case!!!! Don't get me started). Well the rep at the store looked at my account and said "Yeah we can do a replacement for his phone for $350 OR we can do an upgrade on YOUR phone and you can get an iPhone 4S for $99 and then give him your iPhone 4" I jumped right on that  deal because I may only teach Kindergarten but I know paying $99 is way better than paying $350 plus I got to upgrade MY phone :-) I also mentioned that I needed to get 2 new cases. Well she starts talking to my husband and I about switching out cable service from Brighthouse to AT&T U-Verse and when my husband was hesitating she said "OK, if you sign up today I'll give you this package (which was more channels than we currently have for $50 a month less), as well as a $100 credit which will pay for the iPhone upgrade, AND I'll give you one of the cases for free!" So we signed up for it!! So in essence I got my phone and $60 OtterBox case for free, my son got his phone for free since it was my old phone, and we only paid for his OtterBox case, plus we are going to be saving $50 a month on our cable/internet/phone bill! Score 1for us!!! It was AWESOME!! I was really excited about that deal. But wait there's more...

On Sunday I went to see my dad, usually when I see him we just go in get him and take him to the courtyard and I don't get much of a chance to talk to his nurses. Well when we got there it was lunch time so I went and sat with him while his CNA fed him, his nurse came in and she said to me "I can not believe the changes that have come over him in the last couple weeks, ALL of his wounds have healed and he has started eating a LOT." His CNA said that he had eaten his entire breakfast the last few days, and that he had eaten the majority of his lunch and dinner on those days as well. I watched her as she fed him and he ate about 3/4 of his lunch where a couple weeks ago he would have taken 2 bites and then refused to eat anymore. His nurse went on to tell me "In the 13 years I have been nursing I have NEVER seen anyone turn around like this! He is going eat himself right out of Hospice!" I am so happy that he is doing well!

I'm not done yet there's more... (I sound like one of those As Seen on TV people) On the way home from visiting my dad, my husband and I were discussing when we would be able to take another trip to California to see his daughter (my step-daughter) and our granddaughters. We wanted to be able to take our 2 sons as well. I texted my boys and asked them if we planned a trip to California to see their sister would they like to come along - they haven't seen her in over 10 years and they have never met their nieces - they both of course said YES! We were trying to decide between Thanksgiving break, spring break or next summer. My oldest son said that the only time he could go was if we went before January because he begins the police academy in January. That pretty much settled it, we would be going for Thanksgiving! We are all SO excited! It is so exciting to have something to look forward to!! My husband and I went in June of 2011 and it was the first time we met our granddaughters and it was the first time we had seen his daughter in about 10 years as well. We had gotten a great deal with Southwest the last time we went so I went to the Southwest website to search flight prices. I also went to a couple of those travel websites to see if Southwest had the best deal, they had the best fare - it would have been $2200 for the 4 of us with 2 stops each way. I decided to wait until Monday to buy the tickets, not sure why but something told me to wait. Then around 9:00 last night I was watching TV in my bed and I was playing with my new phone and saw that there was an app for Kayak, so I opened it up and I put in our travel info and hit search - The first thing that popped up was American Airlines and it said $1404 and I thought "Oh I must not have put "round trip" this must be the price of 4 one way tickets. So I pulled out my computer and went to the American Airlines website and put in the info and it came up again! It WAS round trip and it was only 1 stop each way!!! I couldn't believe it!! I found our tickets for $800 cheaper and for a better flight. Even with the baggage charge that AA has that Southwest doesn't it still came out to be $650 - $700 cheaper (depending on how many suitcases I need LOL) Plus it is a more direct flight. The southwest flight took us from Orlando to St. Louis, then to Vegas, then to Sacramento! This flight we go from Orlando to Dallas/Fort Worth and then to Sacramento and we have the exact same path coming home! I am SOOOOO excited that I waited and found such a great fare! I also got to pick our seats so no worries about making sure we are all together.
My step-daughter is SO excited that we are coming and we couldn't be happier to be spending Thanksgiving with her and her family. My boys (19 and 22 years old) have never flown before so they are both super psyched about that and seeing their sister. The only thing that could make this better would be if our daughter would be able to come but she is practically married and has 2 families, she spent Thanksgiving with us last year so This year they can go to his family's and she won't have to feel guilty.

Finally, after such an awesome weekend I thought, it can't get any better, but I was wrong! I woke up this morning to an email saying that my DonorsChoose project had been funded!!! I am getting 2 iPod Touchs for my classroom!!!! I am SOOOOOOO psyched and so happy right now. I am trying really hard to enjoy it and not worry that something bad will happen LOL

Sorry to have rambled on and on and provided nothing of real educational value.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I'm back!!

Wow I can't believe it has been almost a month since my last post. I have been so busy with my father and adjusting to my new school, my new team, and being back in kindergarten. We just completed our first week of school and it was a good but stressful week. I have 17 littles and they are a challenging group. I have 11 boys and 6 girls. 6 of my littles just turned 5 and one of them is actually turning 5 today so I have a young class and it definately shows.

I have been working hard to adjust to a new school, new team, and new principal. My principal has requirements that I have never had before so it has been interesting to find ways to accomodate. For example our kiddos have 3 or 4 workbooks they use throughout the day, those workbooks cannot be in their cubbies, they must be within reach of the students so that no teaching time is wasted passing out or going to get their workbooks. We are required to have a bin on the table or chair pockets to hold their workbooks. Plus we do community supplies so the supplis have to be on the table as well, and when the kiddos are doing a benchmark assessment or math quick check (which is a mini asessment that we do every day after our math lesson) the kids have to use a privacy board. Oh and a bin for them to put their finished work, as well as a book bin for early finishers. That's a LOT to have on/near  a table so I have been working to try to figure out how to keep all these things within easy reach and yet not overwhelming the tables. Here is what I have come up with:

 Workbooks - I have baskets from Really Good Stuff that fit the workbooks perfectly so I have a basket for each table and their workbooks are in the baskets - each workbook has a label on it with the student's name so they can easily find their own workbook.

Finished work - I have some "flat" bins I got from Lakeshore many moons ago, so I have one of those on each table for completed work

Books - I bought the skinny book bins from Lakeshore and I put one on each table with easy reader books. They look like these.

Supplies - I have always loved the Lakeshore Carry All Caddy with the colored cups like these:

But I didn't want to spend $20 each for 3 of them (1 for each table). One of my teammates said at the beginning of the summer, she found some at Michael's that were just like the Lakeshore ones (except they had 2 red, 2 blue, 2 green and 2 yellow cups instead of 8 different colored cups) but they were only $15 instead of $20. Still a little more than I wanted to spend but figured that saving $15 was better than nothing so hubby and I went to Michael's today to see if I could find them. I was getting disappointed as we walked around and around and couldn't find them. As we were about to leave I saw them! The best part was there were only 3 left - exactly how many I needed AND they were on clearance for $5!!!!!!!!! I was SO excited!! I grabbed all 3 of them. Then I got to the register and showed my teacher ID to get my 20% off and the cashier asked me if I had the latest email coupon, I said no, and she said "You're a teacher and teachers always spend their own money, I'm gonna give it to you anyway" and she gave me 40% off one of them! So I got ALL 3 of them for less than the original price of 1!!

Finally, one of my teammates came up with an AWESOME and VERY inexpensive way to create chair pockets for workbooks that won't fit in the basket, and it makes a great place for my kiddos to keep their library book - Kinders aren't allowed to take librarybooks home - Check out the pictures of these GREAT chair pockets!

My green table

My red table

My yellow table

Close up of my "chair pocket" - Can you figure out what they are made of?
We bought the stretchy, Jumbo Book Covers for $1 each at Target and put one end over the back of the chair and the other end is the pocket! How super easy and cute are these??? They are stretchy but durable! If you are going to do this you HAVE to get the JUMBO ones (I could only find them at Target) the regular size book covers were too small. I know this because I accidentally grabbed one regular sized one instead of a jumbo one and it kept coming off the chair.

So I am feeling pretty organized and the only thing I haven't figured out yet is how to store the privacy boards so they are easily gotten out and put away.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Had a tough day so I made some stuff

Having a father with Alzheimer's disease is very difficult and this past 6 months it has gotten even more difficult. I knew this day was coming but it still hit me like a ton of bricks when my sweet daddy, who I see multiple times a week, looked at me on 2 separate occasions today and asked me "Who are you?"
Those 3 simple words broke my heart and have been haunting me all day. When my dad was first diagnosed 7 years ago I knew this day would come, I even tried to prepare my own kids for it. My daughter, who is very close to her Grandad, was very upset with the diagnosis and I told her "Baby girl you're right Grandad will some day forget us in his brain but he will never forget us in his heart" today I had to draw on those words myself and they were really of no comfort as I cried all the way home from his nursing home, and still tear up when I think about it.

So to try to take my mind off this whole thing I decided to work on things for my classroom. It was inspiring when I saw that Stephanie at Falling into First had posted a packet that matched my classroom perfectly - Owls and polka dots! Here I am thinking I am being all original but combining owls and polka dots, turns out its a pretty popular combo this year LOL

Anyway I bought her pack and downloaded it, mostly for the Word Wall Letters - Look how super cute these are!!

The kit had these in pink, purple, blue, and green. I did green for vowels and blue for consonants

And the desk tags! They are SO cute! 

I also spent some time making my "Name Necklaces" that are part of our reading program and my students use the first few days of school.

Finally, I saw a super cute idea on Young and Lively Kindergarten. She has "Tying Teachers" in her classroom. She has a display where she posts the names of the students in her class who can tie shoes, that way if you have a kiddo whose shoes are untied they know which classmates to go to for help. AND it gives them an incentive to learn to tie shoes so they can have their name on the Tying Teachers board. So I made a quick little sign and bought some cute little sneaker accents to put the kiddos' names on and I will be doing this in my classroom tis year as well.

Now, if I can get away from blog stalking and Facebook long enough I need to fire up my laminator and get these things laminated. 

Have a great Saturday night!

Friday, July 27, 2012


The closer we get to the beginning of the school year the more nervous I am becoming. I am worried about this coming school year. 2 years ago I found myself hating my job and just being miserable and not giving it my all. I figured I was burned out after 8 straight years teaching kindergarten, and I thought I needed a grade level change. I went to my principal and told him I wanted to change grades and that I wanted to teach 4th grade. He was shocked to say the least - he was expecting me to say 1st or 2nd maybe, he never expected me to want to change to 4th grade, but he gave me the change. I taught 4th grade the past 2 years and was still not happy. This past year was the absolute worst year I have had in teaching and I actually thought it was time for me to leave the profession. My saving grace was my team. I taught with several amazing teachers and they were just as miserable as I was so that helped me feel like this wasn't just me. In April, after a member of the administrative team referred to me and my team as a "toxic group" I realized that the toxicity in my feelings about teaching were not based on a grade level assignment, they were based on the fact that, to use her words, a toxic environment. I made a very difficult decision to leave the school that I had opened 6 years ago. I was part of the opening staff, I walked through that school with a hard hat on while it was still being built. It was SO hard to send out those resumes but I had to. 3 years earlier the administration changed and the environment of the school went downhill. I rarely felt appreciated or valued and when there is no appreciation or value then why bother giving it your best. Anyway, I submitted my resume to about 25 other schools in the district that are close to my home. We are a VERY large district, there are 5 elementary school, 1 middle school, and 1 high school on the ONE road that my school was on.

Anyway I sent out about 25 resumes and I received a call from the school that is just down the street from my old school, and that was built and opened the same time as my school. I had heard the principal at that school was tough, but that was the complete opposite of what I had currently and was what I need. So I went on the interview, I interviewed for a 4th grade position even though after 2 years I still felt completely out of my element in 4th grade. 2 days later - on my birthday no less - I got a phone call and the principal offered me a kindergarten position and said that if she had a 4th grade position open up she would move me up if i wanted. I said ABSOLUTELY sign me up!  I started getting very excited about teaching kindergarten again and started planning for my year ahead. about 2 weeks later my new principal emailed me and said she had a 4th grade position available for me, I emailed her back and told her that I would rather stay in kinder and she said fine, the best part was that one of my teammates (from the "toxic group") was able to get the position I had turned down! Actually in total there are 5 of us moving to this one school, 3 are going to 4th grade, 1 to 3rd grade, and me in kinder. My new principal is AHHHHMAZING!!! I have felt more complimented, valued, and appreciated since being hired by my new principal in early May than I have in the past 2 and half years! I am thrilled to be working for such an amazing administrator.

SO now by now you are probably wondering what I am so nervous about (as my post title suggests). Well I am nervous that I will have another awful year, what if it really is me and not the environment? What if I really am burned out? I don't feel like I am but when I think about school starting in just a couple weeks I get really nervous. Maybe I am just a bit gun-shy after the last few years I have had. I am just feeling anxious to be going back to kindergarten and being at a new school. AGGHHHH am I ready for all this again????

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My classroom is kid-ready!!

I spent another day in my classroom today and I am amazed that I am pretty much finished with my classroom set up! I got SO much work done yesterday and today. I was SO worried since I was changing schools and changing back to kindergarten, after teaching 4th grade for the past 2 years, I just thought it would be so much to get done. Don't get me wrong it was a LOT of work but it went so easily! I am pretty much finished, I just need to put some finishing touches on once pre-planning begins. I need to put names on stuff when I get my class list. I also need to put up a hallway bulletin board of some sort. Oh well, I'll figure it out during pre-planning. Now I can relax the rest of this week. Next week I am working on a planning team, then I get one more week off before I go back.

I gotta admit, I have been having some mixed emotions lately, wondering if I did the right thing... moving to a new school and moving back to kindergarten. Every once in a while I get really nervous, I start feeling like "What have I gotten myself into?" Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my new principal - she is everything my old principal was not, and I am thrilled to be teaching littles again. When my daughter taught first grade last year I was a little envious and was kind of missing the littles. Now that she is teaching Kindergarten I couldn't be more happy for both of us. It's just that I have been at my old school since we opened the school 6 years ago. I knew everyone there, I knew all the routines, procedures, and all the rules. Now I'm the "new guy" and I have no real clue what to expect. I feel like a kid getting ready to start a new school, I find myself asking "Will they like me? What if they don't? Will I know anyone? Will anyone want to be my friend?" I am glad that there are actually a total of 5 of us from my old school moving to this school. 3 of them will be teaching 4th grade (all 3 of which I taught 4th grade with the past 2 years), 1 will be teaching 3rd grade, and then little ole me, back in kindergarten :-) That helps a lot knowing that I do have friends there who are going through the same thing. Also I think being back in kindergarten is helping a lot too. I looked around my classroom today before I left and felt really good, it just felt right, I felt like it was where I was supposed to be.

I'm still dreading the first day of school and I am dreading even more so, the first fire drill!! Ugghhh those are the worst at the beginning of the year! The last time I taught kindergarten my daughter had not started teaching yet and she ALWAYS came to help me out the first day of school and she would also come for the first fire drill (when we knew in advance when it would be). She was awesome, how many college kids would come in at 8am on a Monday when they were still on their summer break to help their mom with a group of crying kids and parents LOL. This year I'll be on my own and so will she! Hey, I do have my "baby" my 19 year old kinda likes hanging out in my classroom, maybe I can bribe him to come in and help me, at least on the first day. As for the fire drill, I will be practicing with my kiddos the entire first week. We usually have our first fire drill the first week of school -BOOOOOOO!-

Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures of what I accomplished today - mostly decorating but that's the fun stuff right??

The view from the front door
This is my teaching area with my calendar and you can see the polka dots on the wall above my desk
(around my degrees)

My small group area with my rotation charts in the background and my shape accents on the cabinets 

My cubby area with my favorite saying! Oh and a view of my READ PLAY LEARN wall too!

My color/color words display 
Our morning check in - when they arrive they move their owl to the school side. 

My polka dots!

My transportation ribbons

Up close of my transportation ribbons - I have noticed I seem to have a bright, colorful, polka dot, owl theme going on LOL