Last Minute Girl Gift~Make Your Case

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 No comments
Are you hitting the mall to pick up a few last minute goodies? Me too!! If you are looking for something for a sweet girl in the 8-12ish range, check out this awesome gift!!
My 9 year old niece reviewed this product and shares her honest opinion below! 
A's pros and cons of the Make Your Case~

*You get to design your very own case for iPhone or iPod!
*It comes with great accessories! 
*It comes with premade cases in case something goes wrong!

*You have to wait 4 hours for it to be done. 
*I love my case but can't put it on all the time because it is not as strong as my other case.

A recommends the Make Your Case for ages 8-12 and says the very best part is that you can make it however you want! She also recommends you share this video with the gift recipient! 
Another bonus? This jewel is less than $20 and available at Walmart, Target, and ToysRus if you are feeling frisky this day before Christmas! 

Super Deal from Sears

Monday, December 22, 2014 No comments
This is a sponsored post for my friends at Sears. All opinions are my own, as always. 

While I know no one reading this blog would EVER put off shopping until the last minute (cough, cough) I have an awesome deal to share anyway! 
Sears has a last minute deal on apparel and accessories and it is pretty awesome! I (for real) am done with all of my clothes shopping for Christmas, but I have two baby showers in January so I am putting this coupon to good use! I likely won't be spending $150, but you can save 20% off on purchases up to $99! Woo hoo! 
I also happen to be making a stop at Sears to grab a last minute item for the hubs, so it is a win-win! You can use the code JINGLE to save online, too though!

Head to Sears or shop Sears online and celebrate being #moremerry!

O' Christmas Tree

I love our Christmas tree. It is a perfect little representation of our family. It is a montage of memories, an explosion of color and a blast to decorate. There is no rhyme or reason to it, we just put the ornaments on and where every they land is their perfect spot! 

We have friends who do not bother with trees, friends who have their trees professionally decorated, friends with trees in every room and everything in between! I say, whatever floats your boat and this is what floats ours!

She is a little over 7 ft tall and she is 100% fake. Well, she has little pine cones and things that make her look less fake, but she is fake friends-plastic, phony, bogus, mock, an imitation if you will! We have a fake tree and I like it! T can't handle the smell of real and N would likely sneeze all month, too. So there you have it!
Of course, the best part of a tree is the ornaments! When we remember, we always try to pick up an ornament from our vacations. This one is from a trip to DC in 2009. My big sister, N and I took T when he was 6 months old. We've been back a couple of times since, but this is still my favorite travel ornament!
Our tree also proudly displays team love for the Falcons, the little baby bears for each year (they stop at 4 though) and the little homemade treasures from each year. The blue one though, that sparkly blue one is the only one like it on the tree and it is my favorite one in the universe! My Granny gave each of us a box of her ornaments years ago and each year I hang just one on the tree. I'm so afraid they will break! I love it. It sits front and center and makes me smile. Come to think of it, ornaments are my very favorite decoration!

How do you jazz up your real or fake tree?

What We're Reading Sunday~Wish Lists!

Sunday, December 21, 2014 No comments
T and I are sharing our book wish lists on this Sunday before Christmas! We've been pretty good this year, so here's hoping we will find a couple under the tree! 

T goes first! 
Mommy's Turn
What's on your holiday book wish list?

The Friday Before Winter Break

Friday, December 19, 2014 1 comment
What a week! 
Who are we kidding? What a month--assessments, sick students, assessments, holiday parties, paperwork, crafts, and so on! 

With all the craziness of this time of year, I had the very best thing happen this week. Over the last couple of months, or when I order books from +Scholastic, I have been choosing books for my students. I make a little list with their names and 3 or 4 topics they are into. I mark them off as I find a book I think they will like. It is cheesy, but I do it every year and I enjoy the challenge! 
Photo Credit Broad Horizons
T helped me wrap the books and personalized pencils one afternoon. He's such a little helper and was equally excited to share the books! Wednesday morning, I gathered my class and we sat on the edge of the carpet during morning meeting. I told them I had something very special to give them.  One fun little boy said, "It's probably books." I grinned. Then, just like Santa (especially with this baby belly,) I passed out presents to all the little girls and boys! 

Guys, they opened their gifts and went nuts. 

"I've always wanted this book!" 
"I love it Mrs. S.!" 
"Look, look, I got a Who Would Win!"
"It's a 3D book!"

There were hugs and more hugs and thank yous and "can we go read them now?"

I was speechless and teary eyed. They went off and read their books happily and my heart smiled! They have become quite the little group of readers and quite the little community. Merry Christmas to me! 

Letting Kids Sort It Out

Thursday, December 18, 2014 2 comments
I have a guest post up on the International Reading Association's site, Reading Online Today! EEEK! It's my first one with them and it is a little glimpse into my classroom! The article is all about how my students have ownership of our classroom library. It makes me smile just thinking about it! 

I love the IRA! I attend their conferences (amazing PD,) present regionally with them, can't get enough of their articles, AND love their amazing Twitter chats! 

Click on the pictures or HERE to read the article and share the reading love!! 

Winter Break Funny

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 1 comment
This is funny as a teacher AND as a kindergarten mommy! T is fired up friend! Fired up!! 

Have a great Wednesday! 

What We're Reading Sunday

Sunday, December 14, 2014 No comments
This week I'm sharing our favorite holiday reads. T picked a couple and I picked a couple!
We love the original Pete the Cat books! He loves Pete and seeing Pete in the Santa hat sealed the deal. We are so lucky Santa brought this to us one year! 
Another favorite of T's is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He still gets upset when Rudolph isn't allowed to join the reindeer games. I hope he always has this heart. 

Now for mommy's turn! 
If you have not read Silver Packages, PLEASE do yourself the favor. It is just beautiful. I read it to T every year and to my first graders and I cry every time. They are happy tears though, I promise!! 

We have three versions of this story and I love them all! I even love all of the other books written to follow the pattern of this classic story. I'm a fan! 

This list could go on and on, but I'll stop here! We are busy making our book wishlists and goodies for my first graders! T is such a great helper! 

What is your favorite holiday read for your family?

Caine's Arcade #STEM

Saturday, December 13, 2014 No comments
Did your class participate in Caine's Arcade Cardboard Challenge? If not, it's not too late!

This is our second year creating games with recycled materials. My first graders did not disappoint! They created amazing games that actually worked! Our County video crew came out and taped the engineers in action. I'm proud. I'll just say it....I'm proud! 

We have genius hour every week and I'm learning a lot from my students. They are taking chances, making changes, and becoming problem solvers. 
*Note to self, love that hair!
Learn more about Caine's arcade by clicking HERE and to see our class in action, click HERE

Have you done any fun STEM projects lately? Do tell! 

5 Gifts for Teachers

Friday, December 12, 2014 No comments
My sweet friend called this week and said, "Ok, I want to get M's teacher a gift for Christmas. What should I NOT get?" I laughed so hard!! She explained that in kindergarten, the class collected funds and gave the teacher a $150 gift card to Barnes and Noble. She loved the idea but was excited that this year she could choose something for the teacher.
I decided to do an informal poll of teacher friends and share the results with my friend and you! 

Of course, we all know the best gifts are the thank you cards, hugs and smiles we get every single day! Teachers appreciate every single gift no matter how big or small! This post is for fun! 

Top 2 Gifts to NOT give a teacher:

1. Smelly Stuff
Unless you know a teacher's favorite scent, steer clear of scented lotions, candles, etc. This was number one on the list! Due to allergies and sensitive snouts, this is one to avoid for sure. 

2. Teacher Mugs
This was pretty high on the poll. The one brought up the most was the ceramic mug with A+ teacher on it. Apparently, teachers have enough of those. However, Tervis tumblers and Starbucks mugs were stamped with approval!

Top 3 Gifts to give a teacher! 

1. Gift Cards
This one was number one on the teacher list! Size and location did not matter! $5 to Starbucks~yes! $5 to Subway~perfect! $10 to Amazon~great! $20 to TJMaxx~you shouldn't have! $50 to a favorite restaurant~aw shucks! 

2. Lunch
Another big hit, bringing the teacher lunch. I've had parents do this before and it is pretty fabulous! Share the menu, take the order and let them know it is coming. I'll be doing this for T's teachers when I go on maternity leave! 

3. School Stuff
Everyone seemed to agree that you can't go wrong with sticky notes, fun pens, and fabulous notepads. This one is pretty easy, too! 

There you have it! 5 gifts for teachers this holiday season, for better or worse!! 

As a teacher, I really do love and appreciate every single gift and goodie. As a mom, I love showing my appreciation to T's teachers. As a teacher, I also enjoy notes from the parents and kids. They mean so much. So this year, T's teachers are receiving gift cards, a little something special he picked out, and a thank you note. I wish I could give them the moon!

What gift or goodie will you be giving your child's teacher this year?

Teachers Pay Teachers

Thursday, December 11, 2014 No comments
My friend Kathleen is (finally) on Teachers Pay Teachers! She has been sharing amazing resources with our County teachers for years and is now sharing with the world!! 

Check out her store! 
Here's a little something I picked up during the TPT Cyber Sale! It's awesome! 
Kathleen is an amazing primary teacher and I hope she makes a billion dollars on TPT! Then, I hope she takes me lunch! 

Happy Thursday friends! 

What We're Reading Sunday

Sunday, December 7, 2014 No comments
T has been quite busy reading his books that come home each day from kindergarten. To supplement this, we are sure to throw in a few family reads, too. While it is super important for kids to read, it is equally important for them to be read to! 

We've been reading stories from this fun book Turner's great aunt gave him. He loves it. 

We've also been revisiting our family favorites~anything by Mo Willems. Since T has heard him read this treasure, it makes it even more fun! Especially when he goes, "ugggggghhhh!" 

I'm right in the middle of Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. I'm trying to decide what to read next and what to put on my Christmas list! Eek!
We'll be sharing our holiday reads and maybe even our wish lists next weekend! What are you reading?

Meeting Literacy Heroes

Thursday, December 4, 2014 No comments
My partner in crime and I were chosen to present at this year's Alabama Reading Association Conference. We were thrilled! We were nervous too and those nerves were not put to rest when we discovered that headlining the event would be Donalyn Miller, Stephanie Harvey, and Debbie Miller. Swoon. 

We only attended one day of the two day conference, but we were impressed! The morning started with Stephanie Harvey. I read her book, Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles In Action over the summer and fell in love with it. Hearing her in person though, seeing her passion for reading and helping children "get it" was just amazing! Amy and I LOVED her and hope to have her as a speaker at our school one day! 
Check out her website to find free resources. She said her slides and other info from the conference would be up soon! I AM OBSESSED with her thoughts on close reading. OBSESSED I tell you!
I was just stepping off clouds when the next session began....Debbie Miller. I've been a fan for some time and believe Reading with Meaning should be a mandatory read for all elementary teachers. Our copies are bruised and battered and many lessons we have created originated with her ideas. This is not the first time I've heard Debbie Miller and I hope it won't be the last. I learn something new each time and step away feeling like "yes, I will get through to that reader." 
I'll be posting soon about my plan for the lessons Debbie shared. I have BIG plans my friends, BIG plans!!

Amy and I presented next and it was fun! We had some awesome teachers in the group and we love that! I've been in touch with a few since the conference and am reminded that connecting with teachers makes us all a little better.

Wrapping up the conference was Donalyn Miller. We are Twitter peeps, and I LOVE her first book, Book Whisperer. I had plans to meet her at IRA in New Orleans, but the weather ruined my plans! Needless to say, I was thrilled to meet this literacy hero! 
To say she is an inspiration is an understatement! She is a real teacher and she shares her celebrations, struggles and growth over time an educator. Listening to her speak is like listening to a teacher buddy. She's on a journey to discover what makes lifelong readers, lifelong readers. How did they get hooked? I've just started Reading in the Wild and hope to unlock some of that goodness in my classroom for years to come! 

There will be more ARA love coming soon, but these were by far, the highlights. Our experience was totally worth the drive to Birmingham, totally worth the sub plans, and totally worth putting together packets for our attendees. In fact, the day was amazing and that's the kind of PD teachers need! 

Baby Question #1

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 No comments
I have some serious baby questions and I am the kind of gal who asks for help when she needs it! 
Here is my first one! What is your favorite baby carrier? 

We did Baby Bjorn with T, but that was over five years ago. I am really hoping there is something new and improved! Things to remember here~I'm almost 6 feet tall and curvy. I am also NOT so great with lots of hooks and clips and snaps and so on.

If you have one that you LOVE, please leave me the name or link! Thank you, thank you!

Our First Thanksgiving

Monday, December 1, 2014 2 comments
When you walk into my Granny's house (through the back door because everyone is family,) you cut through the porch, shimmy through the kitchen, slide between two recliners in the living room and you see the loveseat. 

It is black with flowers on it and its old. It still looks pretty new though because my Granny keeps a blanket over the back and she has for as long as I can remember. It is a little throw and there is also a small pillow. Last year, we gave her a blanket with pictures of our family on it. She decided to put this blanket on top of the throw on the loveseat. 

Every time, literally EVERY time I go to my Granny's, I sit on the loveseat. It's almost like we have assigned seats and this is mine. We sat there and opened presents during the holidays, smelled A's stinky baby feet, wrestled with each other, told on each other, and watched Granny open cards and gifts from the best seat in the house. I've held T there, snuggled with N, and knocked the little sister off a time or two. We nap on it, the kids climb on it, and we pick on mom when she can't quite get off the loveseat on her first try. 

Every time, literally EVERY time I sit on the loveseat, I mess up the blankets. They wrinkle into the folds of the cushions, they fall and move to one side revealing the white flowers on the back. The pillow gets crammed on the side or tossed on the floor. It's a mess and EVERY time, for as long as I can remember, I would stand up to fix the blanket and my Granny would lean up from her recliner and say, "Just leave it." I would continue to push and pull at the blanket and she would say again, "Just leave it now." 

I knew no matter how much I straightened the blanket, Granny would redo it when I left. I knew that we would have this conversation every time and I still did it. I wanted to have the conversation and I'm pretty sure she did too. It became kind of a  running joke. 
T's first Easter
This was our first Thanksgiving without my Granny and the first time no one stopped me when I straightened the blankets. I waited for it. I waited for her to tell me to just leave it. I did the best I could and walked away. Every pull and tug hurt a little more than the one before it. 

The next day I noticed that the blankets had indeed been rearranged. I'm guessing my Dad could not stand it either. I guess he misses being told to just leave it, too. 


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