Wordless Wednesday~Summer Vaca

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 No comments
"Mommy heads back to school today." 
Summer vaca is over.
*I should mention, in this photo he is actually using his powers to move things with his mind. 
The quote is my interpretation. :)

Grownups Today

Monday, July 29, 2013 3 comments
As I prep for back to school, I'm thinking about building community, getting to know my kids and their families, and setting the tone for the school year. That tone includes treating everyone respectfully and my famous catch phrase, "kind words, nice face." I developed this highly researched approach after reading dozens of books on management, experimenting with control groups, and, oh wait, nope, I came up with it one day after realizing it is harder to be fussy if you have a nice face instead of a growly one.  :)

I thought about this sense of community today as T and I were at a local family attraction. He was playing, I was watching him. He was having a blast climbing and sliding. I was being stepped on, pushed into with strollers, and jabbed with passing purses. I was having fun nonetheless. 

A mom, dad, and (I'm assuming here) grandmother walked up and stood next to me. Mom, "Look at what he has on. What is this 2002? Get a haircut man." Grandmother, "Ridiculous, I can only imagine what the kids look like." Dad, "It's not just him. Look around." 

Really? I mean REALLY? I looked over and gave them my very best teacher look. I wish I would have respectfully done more. I was so outdone, so disappointed, so scared for our future, so disgusted that this is the example so many children have at home. 

Why do you care what anyone else is wearing? The man was not naked, in fact no parts were showing (just to be clear!) The man was clean, dressed, and playing with his children. 

Do you not have anything else in the world to talk about while in a room full of interesting exhibits/games/rides/toys? I just do not get it. We are grownups. 

I know we all have our days, but here is my plea. STOP being mean. Just STOP. 

Smoky Mountain Wrap Up

Sunday, July 28, 2013 No comments
I could go on an on and on about our trip to the Smoky Mountains, but school is about to start and I am in slight panic mode (hence the no post for like a week!) 

So because I'm a bottom line kind of gal, here is the bottom line. Visiting the Smoky Mountains is a must do family event. Even the most reluctant outdoors type (no comment) will enjoy the natural beauty....even in the summer!

Now for the big question.....where will this family go next?  :)

Smoky Mountain Fireworks

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 No comments
Day one of our Smoky Mountain vaca was fabulous! We loved Asheville and the entire Biltmore Estate, but we.were.tired. The only thing on the agenda for day two (THE 4TH OF JULY) was relaxation and fireworks! 
Check and check!
We drove around Maggie Valley, visited a few stores, ate at road side restaurants and just enjoyed being together. 
The rain continued but everyone kept telling us the fireworks show would go on no matter what. (Of course, N had picked up fireworks just in case the show did not go on!) We loaded the car at 8:55 and drove (again-it was raining!) across the street to the fairgrounds. If I'm being honest, we actually parked behind a vacant bar. There was no crowd and the view was perfect.

We all sat in the car and watched in amazement. There is just something about fireworks and the 4th of July. The oohs and ahs, the boom and sizzle. I love it. They were just beautiful and the show lasted a little over 30 minutes. The kids had their fill and we simply hopped back across the street. Life is good!
The memory making was on overdrive. Maggie Valley's 4th of July did not disappoint. But what in the world would we do the next day? 

Do you have a 4th of July memory to share? Please do! 

Smoky Mountain Summer~Part I

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 No comments
Confession: At a different time in my life, I may or may not have ridiculed others for going to the mountains in the summer. I may or may not have said something like, "WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD ANYONE GO TO THE MOUNTAINS IF IT IS NOT COLD??" I was so wrong!

We loaded the car and the adventure began! My husband, sister, niece, T, and myself headed to North Carolina. The car was fully loaded with enough snacks to feed an army, clothes for a month, and enough stuffed animals to fill a claw machine. 

The roads were winding and the weather was rainy, and the cabin was perfect. Better than I had imagined in fact. The staff was so kind and the cabin was super clean! We love Twin Brook! We crashed the first night and woke up early the next day! 

Friends suggested leaving the kids in the gardens to fend for themselves while we did the tour. Ha! (It was tempting.) They did get tired toward the end of the tour, but they did great and really liked some of the rooms. 

If you have never been to the Biltmore, GO! It is beautiful and full of history. Bonus: Kids are free all summer and if you book online 7 days in advance, adult tix are only $44. Woo hoo!
A few raindrops did not slow us down!
T taking notes about what he sees.
Did I mention we did a wine tasting? YUM!
The gardens were breathtaking.
No caption needed. :)

We loaded our 24 cases of wine into the trunk and headed to Asheville in a true downpour. Seriously, the rain would not stop! 

P and I had a chocolate sipper at French Broad while N stayed behind with the sleeping babes. It was quality sister time!

We finished our Asheville toured and wrapped up the day with dinner at a delish Mexican restaurant. It was a great day!

Stay tuned for more about our family vaca! Have you been to Asheville? What did we miss because of all that rain? Do tell!

Ten Frame Fun!

Sunday, July 21, 2013 No comments
Holy Moly! I love, love, love these magnetic ten frame answer boards and you will not believe where I got them!!! Smilemakers! You know the company kind of known for stickers and pencils? They have school supplies and teacher resources, too. I had no idea! 

This set has 4 boards, 100 magnetic counters, and a guide. My class is going to be thrilled! They are also magnetic. That's right-MAGNETIC!
So, like any good mom, I put these through a trial with my 4 year old. T has decided they should stay at home with him. We started counting on the side with one ten frame, then moved to the back. He is working on one to one correspondence, so we filled one board and moved them from one board to the other as we counted. 
Smilemakers has way more than I thought they did-including Despicable Me stickers (and other hot, new movies,) organizers, pocket charts, decorations, holiday goodies, craft supplies, and candy. I just didn't know! Even better, for the whole month of July you get FREE shipping and 25% off arts and crafts with code JUL13. If you are broke until August, that's ok! The August deal is 25% off classroom helpers, pocket charts etc and FREE shipping with code AUG13.

Back to school shopping has officially started in the S household. 

What have you bought so far? 

Nonfiction and Fabulous!

Saturday, July 20, 2013 No comments
I could write an entire post about how much I love Steve Jenkins' books, but I think I have done that before. Instead, I'll introduce you to a treasure that I just happened to stumble upon during a recent visit to my favorite independent bookstore-Little Shop of Stories. Had.to.have.it. 

It's all about siblings in the wild-how they communicate, play, survive, etc. The artwork (as usual) is breathtaking. There is a short sentence with the big idea and additional information about each family. The back (as usual) has BONUS information about the animals.

I thought this was the perfect book for T to read with A, and it was.  I had preread the book so I could be prepared for T's questions (thank goodness!) and was able to read parts and ad lib the rest. I mean, the information is too good to miss! My 4 1/2 year old son and 8 year old niece equally enjoyed this book. When we put it down, my Dad picked it up for a read. He loved it. When he put it down, my Granny picked it up for a read. I'm serious. This book is like informational candy and everybody wants some!

If you have a 3-93 year old, you want Steve Jenkins' books in your library. Here are a few more of our favorites:

Let me know which one (or ones) you choose!

*Teachers-the mini lessons for both reading and writing are practically endless!

WW~Stealth Ninjas

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 No comments

Feeling safe with these two around! 

Brotherly Love

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 No comments
My brother would have been 41 yesterday. He's been gone seven years now and I miss him terribly. I miss him answering the phone when I called, listening to my classroom stories, and most of all-I miss his smack talking every chance he could. He was a pro!

I've missed him since day one, but having a son of my own makes me miss him even more. My brother would have loved T. He would have cracked up at his silliness, understood his need to build and create with anything, and most of all-he would of loved how he talks nonstop. 

I tell T stories about my brother all the time. My sister does the same with my niece. We exaggerate the stories and that would make my brother proud. Seriously. 
When deciding what to do for my brother's special day, T decided on cupcakes. Baking is not my thing and I laughed out loud when they turned out a little more crispy (er, crunchy) than they should have been. My brother would have run with that for days!

My brother gave great advice. Two of my favorites are 1) if you get a chance to go, GO. 2) if you keep leaving your makeup bag places why don't you just get two sets of makeup? Sounds silly, but I think of these two little tidbits every time I travel. I can picture him saying them to me. 

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Life is short. Live like there is no tomorrow. If you can't do that all the time, cherish the moments when you do. My brother would love that! 

Summer Bedtime Routine

Monday, July 15, 2013 No comments
I need to be honest here. This summer, our bedtime routine has been lax. When I say lax, I mean, we still brush our teeth, read a book or tell a story, say our prayers and sing a night night song. What time does this occur? No comment. 

Our top choices are the traditional lullaby (my mom sang that to me,) Amazing Grace (my Paw Paw's favorite,) or You are My Sunshine. 

For the last 602 nights, T has asked for You are My Sunshine.  I love the song too and we substitute his name where ever we can. He smiles as a I sing. Melts.my.heart. Sometimes, when I'm super lucky, he even sings it to me. :) 
Thing is, I only know the first verse and after singing it for the last 602 nights, I'm struggling! So like any good mother/teacher, I googled the song! I read the words then I listened to the words, discovered there is a ringtone and like a billion youtube videos of people singing it, dancing to it, mocking it....whatever. 

There are different versions, and I have simple decided that my version is best. Just ask T

What is your child's favorite nighttime song and are have you thrown routine to the wind the summer? 

If I have it, my son wants it

Saturday, July 13, 2013 No comments
So, I am assuming this is normal and if I was really being honest with myself, I think I might recall doing this to my own mother, but whatever. (Her drink of choice back in the day was TAB!) 
If I grab a snack, T suddenly becomes hungry. It doesn't matter what I'm eating-blueberries, almonds (though with this one he would want a trade,) popcorn, even kale chips! He gets the munchies!

If I grab a drink, he quickly becomes parched (even if he just finished his own beverage.) If he hears the bottle pop, cork snap, or pitcher pour, he comes running, "May I have something to drink mommy?" (Kid also has manners!)  If he hears me shaking my ensure.ca or breakfast concoction, he will stop what he is doing and explore the situation. 
Kid looks innocent, but he is a player! I guess we all do it, but I kind of miss the days of enjoying my own snack or beverage.

Something tells me others do, too. 

and I'm sorry mom for not letting you just enjoy your TAB! :) 

Walking the Walk

Friday, July 12, 2013 No comments
T and I were snuggling on the couch when my cell phone rang. I did not answer because, well, we were snuggling. I checked the message later and it was Jordan from Senator Johnny Isakson's office returning my call for a meeting. That's right, I walk the walk. 
I first met Senator Isakson while in DC for Parenting Magazine's Mom Congress two and a half years ago. I talked to him about education and my role as a teacher. It went well, but brief and not really focus driven. I still patted myself on the back and reclaimed my title of advocate extraordinaire. 
Things I think about this picture-I am tall. I look much younger for this to only have been about 2 1/2 years ago. I really want to wear that shirt again! Washington agrees with me! Whatever happened to that Flat Stanley?
The next year, I met with various Senators and representatives as an advocate for children with my pals from Shot@Life. I smiled a lot, learned a ton, but said little. 

In February of this year, I, along with my fellow (and fabulous) GA advocates met with Isakson's staffers in DC. I should also mention that we met with all of our GA reps. Impressive, right? 

Our go to guy in Isaskon's office was Chris and we were very impressed with him! He was knowledgeable, receptive, and a seriously nice guy. I learned about Isakson's role in international affairs, and Chris learned of our passion for helping children around the world. 
With encouragement from friends, I decided it was time for me to go this alone. I needed to meet with a staffer and represent ME. So I did just that. I set up my meeting with Jordan here in Atlanta. T asked why I was going to a meeting when school is out. :) I explained (way too lengthy description of our democratic system) and he asked if he could go. I said yes. Actually, I said YES

We had our meeting yesterday and it was amazing! I expressed my thanks to their staff, my appreciation of Isakson's concern for issues outside the GA borders because things happening outside of GA very much impact....GA! I also talked about my favorite topic-children. I shared information about Shot@Life and the importance of vaccinating children in developing countries who simply do not have access. He too was saddened that every 20 seconds a child dies from something so preventable (diarrhea.) 

I then shifted gears and talked education. I told Jordan that I would love to have Isakson visit my school-all schools in our area-and see firsthand the AMAZING things that are happening in classrooms. In retrospect, I think I should have invited Jordan, too. My kids would love him! I'll keep you posted on how that invitation goes. 

T was very sweet during the meeting. He whispered in my ear (so nervous) and asked that I tell Jordan "we should donate money to help kids." I was so proud. T also very much loved the pack of GA peanuts and business card he received!

I left the office feeling so empowered. It is the craziest feeling. I felt like in some way, I had made a difference. I expressed my thoughts and feelings to a representative of my state-someone who will make decisions that impact my family, students, community. Ah! It is geeky-but powerful. I'll say it...I'm proud of myself.

Wordless Wednesday~Rainy Day FUN!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 No comments
Duct Tape Obstacle Course from We-Made-That! So cool!
My friend Emily's son put his Hot Wheels on the tape and made a cool track, too. Thanks for sharing Emily AND WeMadeThat

Back to School < GASP >

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 No comments
I gave myself the entire month of June off. This was a first for me in a really long time. I went to TC the last two summers (a much better teacher for it) and just overall did too much the rest of the time. The school year ended a little crazy for me (not the kids!) so I decided to recoup during the entire month of June.
So I've traveled to the Bahamas, the Smoky Mountains, and to my home sweet home-Mobile. I have gone on playdates, date nights, puppet shows, long walks, short hikes, and even tried sleeping late. I've gone to the pool and not worried one little bit about what I look like in my bathing suit. I'm playing with my kid, not entering Mrs. America. Who is this new me?!? We've been staying up way too late, too~way too late.

I've read 5 just for fun books~chick lit, mysteries, absolute fluff!  FIVE I say!! I've read all of these, too. Not because I had too, but because I wanted too. I love that feeling!

I'm reading this one now thanks to my PLN.
So while I officially return to school on July 31st. (Yes, I'm serious.) I am celebrating the summer I have had and the remaining two weeks of it! 

I have always loved back to school, since I was a kid. This year though, I'm heading back with an even bigger smile~did not even know that was possible!

What fun have you had this summer?

Sweet Proverb

Monday, July 8, 2013 No comments
So while I was flipping through channels last night after T went to sleep. I came across a show called Breaking Amish. The mother of one of the girls preparing for her year away was talking about how she was angry and disappointed at first, but now understands why her daughter needs to get out and see the world. It was sad and beautiful. I went to change the channel (another group was heading to a club) and then the grandmother said this. I just love it. I love that channel surfing brought this to me! 

Gooney Bird Miracle

Saturday, July 6, 2013 No comments
I'm just back from a week in the Smoky Mountains with my husband (N), son (T), sister (P), and niece (A). We had an AMAZING week! 

We also had a rainy week. I'll be posting more about all the fun we had later, but I had to share one of reading adventures right away! 

It was raining cats and dogs while we were in Asheville. We had been to the Biltmore, walked the city, had a chocolate sipper (YUM!) and needed to kill a little time before dinner. Hmm...what to do? BOOKSTORE!

We went to Barnes & Noble and the whole family was excited! P ditched us to look at grown up reads. N went to travel then business. The kids and I hit the children's department. I thought this would be a grand opportunity to booktalk with my niece (quite the reader.) I grabbed several books but my heart was set on Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry. A is like Gooney Bird. A loves silly but is grownup in some ways, too. These two needed to meet. I looked at her and held the book close to my chest. I did the booktalk of my life. I'm serious. I put it all out there. She nodded and walked off. 

She picked up a My Little Pony chapter book and went on her merry way. Icing on the cake? T chose another movie based book about Turbo the snail. At least they like to read....

Knowing Gooney Bird Greene would NOT be left behind on my watch, I bought it and the next one in the series, too. 
The night before we left, I decided to read her the first chapter. She was on the couch, way more interested in anything else. As I read, she got closer and closer and then was in my lap. She was asking questions, making connections, and acting out parts. I stopped after chapter one on purpose and simply hoped for the best. 

As we loaded the car yesterday, she tossed the book into the front seat and said, "Sorry you didn't get to read chapter two." To which I replied, "You get to take it home and read it if you want to." She smiled and said, "I read chapter two last night when Gooney Bird...."

Ah, a miracle. A Gooney Bird Greene miracle. If you have a 6-8 year old, this is a great book to read and laugh together. If you have a 8-9 year old, this is a great independent read-but I would still make sure they "get it." I.love.this.book and am eternally grateful to my friend Jayne for introducing me to it!

Have you had this moment? Do tell!


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