Decorations Are Up!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 2 comments
Our decorations are always a work in progress, but this year we were a little later than usual (which is late,) and did not have them up until more than a week after Thanksgiving. In our defense, Thanksgiving was early this year! :)

T chose a shorter, chubbier tree than usual. He said it just spoke to him. How could we say no to that? 
Our tree is a crazy mix of kid made ornaments, gifts from students and family, keepsakes from our favorite places, and treasures A made for us over the years. M has only pulled ornaments off 5 or 6 times and the entire tree itself only once. I am feeling pretty good about that. 

My favorite ornament on the tree is this one. A few years ago, my Granny gave the little sister and I a box of her oldest ornaments. Each year I hang one on the tree. I tell the boys a funny story about Granny as we hang it. I still cry though. She is missed and the holidays always make it a bit harder.
As for other decorations, my second favorite spot in the whole house is our fireplace. Our family tradition is to decorate it with books. The books do not last long before being grabbed. Sometimes they read them. Sometimes we read the books to the boys. Sometimes they build with them. Sometimes we find them in the kitchen, on the floor when we are walking to turn on the lights and almost slip and fall on our face. Sometimes... :)
Another tradition we have is the big reveal. We do not reveal our Christmas card until they have been mailed. So silly, right? I know! 
In the meantime, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


12 Days of Christmas, Teacher Gifts

Sunday, December 18, 2016 6 comments
People usually remember I am a teacher around this time of year. How do I know? They say things like, "So...what do teachers really want for a gift?" 

I like to keep my responses varied and fun depending on the audience. 

Sincere
"Gifts really are not necessary. We really do love what we do."

Silly
"Nothing. Please, no gifts or goodies or notes."

Snarky
"I think the pay we deserve would be a great place to start." 


Serious
"Anything you give your child's teacher will be appreciated. You might also want to throw in a handwritten thank you note." 

With any response, people usually go to question 2 and ask what I give T's teacher. This is an easier one for me. Our family is all about gift cards. We find out our teacher's favorite place or places and along with a beautiful note or favorite candy, send a gift card. You can't go wrong with a gift card. You just can't.

Last year though, my teacher BFF had an amazing parent give her a 12 Days of Christmas gift. Each day as they counted down until winter break, the parent sent a note and goodie to go with it. For example, on the 5th day of Christmas, her student gave to her (sing the tune!) 5 golden pineapple rings! Soooo cute! Susanne reminded me this year so I could do the same for T's teacher. Wanting to keep it personal for his teacher, we sat together and thought of items for each verse. Here's what we came up with! See if you can make the connections!

We included a cute note each day. Here's an example- "On the 1st day of Christmas, my 2nd grader gave to me... a partridge in a pear tree." On the back, we wrote, "or in our case, a super cute bird ornament." We also contribute to the class gift because well, our teacher rocks! 

Click the picture to download a set of free, blank cards to print! 
Your child's teacher really will appreciate whatever you give him or her for the holidays! As cheesy as it sounds, it truly is the thought that counts! 

Being Brave

Monday, November 28, 2016 2 comments
Oh friends, it has been awhile. Too long in fact. I've been busy. I've been really busy. 

I survived back to school, fell hard for my awesome new class, rocked fall break, dove headfirst into conference week then wrapped it up with a quick trip to Disney World. Then I looked up from life to see that November is coming to a close. 

I do feel like time is going too fast, but I do not think I am missing anything. You know what I mean? I've put a few things on the back burner (mainly housework and the blog) and tried hard to be present, be myself, be the person I want to be. Wait, I think that is called being brave. I'm trying more of that these days. I am being more brave. It's true. Just call me brave brave mcbravey pants. I'm the Queen of Brave. Braverita. Brave on the rocks with a dash of sparkly something! I'm brave! 
It's brave when you forget balance and deal with what comes head on. Juggling mom, wife, teacher is no joke. I thought about taking a year off. I thought about doing something else. I thought about what I could always be doing better as a mom, wife, teacher, daughter, sister, etc. I thought  and thought myself into more worry and strife than I deserve. It's brave to be trusting and here I am. 
Brave presents itself in funny ways. When you have to stand up for what is right, it is brave. It is uncomfortable sometimes especially when you are standing against the norm, whatever that norm might be. I am not shy and I am passionate about a few things. While I have always been brave in talking education, I've upped my brave game for my other passions, too. It feels good. I want my own children to be brave in this way maybe more than all the other ways. I want this type of bravery for my students, too. Brave is no joke. 
It's brave when you try new things and put yourself out there. I did it though. Order my brave shirt and put that puppy in the mail! Later when I am feeling a little more brave than tired, I'll give you the details! 

Brave is admitting that you can't do it all. I.can't.do.it.all. Even though I really, really want to. I can't. and that's ok. I'm going to rock (or at least attempt to rock) this mom, wife, teacher thing and see how far it gets me. :)

What We're Reading Sunday

Sunday, July 3, 2016 3 comments
Summer means extra reading time. Wait, summer should mean extra reading time. That obviously does not apply to moms! I have read maybe, MAYBE 1/4 of the books on my summer reading list! 

T on the other hand, has been reading. He has finished The Dragon Masters series by Scholastic and anxiously awaits the next book. We also read The BFG by Roald Dahl together. He's diving into some nonfiction about spies at the moment and has another Branches read lined up after that one. 
We have also been reading to M. He is going through a phase where he doesn't listen at all, takes the book, blabs for a few minutes and throws it on the ground. So sweet. So, very sweet. We are hoping he will fall in love with Eric Carle's Have You Seen My Cat? as T once did. Let's just say, we are going to keep hoping. :)

I am reading and rereading these books. Mindset and it's classroom buddy are great (the book more than the resource guide) and they deserve revisiting. The chapter books are new to me and I wanted to read at least one in each series before putting them in my library. I always read the first in the series. No pressure first book, but it is pretty serious. I enjoyed both.
But....time, I just need more time. That's something I usually say during the school year, but it is even more true in the summer. I need more time to read. I need more time to read to the boys. I need more time to pretend I'm reading but really sleep. 

Here's to making time, finding time, and reading time! What are you reading this summer?

Washed Ashore: Georgia Aquarium's Newest Exhibit AND Giveaway!

Monday, June 27, 2016 2 comments
Our little scientist really keeps us on our toes. He is the first to remind me to put the paper in recycle and sometimes he even lets me know he turned out of the lights as he left my room. Hint hint, mom.

T loves nature, animals, and all things outdoors. At Dauphin Island last spring, he collected shells but also picked up litter as we walked along the shore. I love him. I just love him. 

As you might imagine, he was THRILLED when I told him our family is renewing our dedication to reducing waste by partnering with Georgia Aquarium. After our recent trip, he declared "I love that the aquarium is not just about the shows mommy." He's right. There's so much more!

Through September, the Aquarium is hosting a very special exhibit-Washed Ashore:Art To Save the Sea. The exhibit offers an artsy twist on the global problem of ocean pollution featuring 13 larger than life pieces all created from ocean debris. Now T loves art almost as much as he loves nature, so he is very excited about this exhibit! 

Since June is World Oceans month and this awesome exhibit is so close to home, we decided to create our own piece of art using a few recycled materials.
T and "Elephant's Dream"
Now N and I have no idea where he found all of these bottle caps (obviously our neighbors,) but we were so happy he found a good use for them! He painted his cardboard with watercolor, placed his caps into just the right elephant shape, then added a newspaper scrap tail. 
This masterpiece is now proudly displayed on our mantle. I can't even tell you how much we love it. It shows his creativity and passion for animals. I have no doubt the Washed Ashore exhibit will leave me feeling the same way! 

Would you like to see for yourself by winning 4 tickets to the Georgia Aquarium
(Admission to Washed Ashore exhibit is included with general admission!) 
1. Use at least 3 items that you would normally throw away or recycle and turn them into art! 
2. Post a picture of your creation on Facebook or Instagram! 
3. Tag @mymommyreads, @georgiaaquarium, and tag #TrashtoTreasure and #SavetheSea.
4. Proclaim your family's commitment to reducing ocean debris!

One winner will be randomly chosen by midnight Friday, July 8th. 

Looking forward to seeing your art! 

The BFG Freebies!

Sunday, June 26, 2016 1 comment
Have you read The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) by Roald Dahl? I'm going to be really honest and tell you that we have had the book on our shelf for maybe three years and I had no idea what it was about. When I read the blurb, it gave me the hivvy jivvies. (I am such a wimp!) 

When T saw the preview for the upcoming movie, he said, "Hey, don't we have that book?" Yes, yes we do. I tried to change the subject, but he went to look for it and then he said, "Can we read it?" 

I think we know what happened next! While I still got the hivvy jivvies a few times, we both enjoyed the book. The language is amazing and the silly words from BFG are fun to read and play around with. "Am I left or am I right?" has become a common phrase in our house. 

Will I be reading it to my first graders? Nope. Am I so glad I read this with my son? You bet! 

I know older grades read the book in class and I know others read it just for fun. Maybe you are going straight to the movie though! That's cool, too! No matter how you choose to enjoy The BFG, I have something to share! Our friends at Disney have given us a couple of very cool FREEBIES! Click on the picture below to download several BFG coloring pages and some totally awesome two sided bookmarks! 

Disney's The BFG hits theaters July 1st! Click here to follow the fun on FB

Summer Lovin'

Thursday, June 16, 2016 3 comments
Let's be honest. When summer rolls around each year, teachers are happy, really happy.

It is not because we do not love our students, we do. I do. I really do. There are other reasons out there you know? 

Here are a few of mine:

1. I have two, super cute little boys and one pretty cool husband at home and I love them, TOO.
2. I want to go to a workshop to learn something new and not have to do sub plans. UGH! Sub plans!
3. I want to stay up late reading a book-any book I want, and not have to teach small people the next day! 
4. I want to shop for my classroom and future students. It's true. I've already started.
5. I want to plan stuff that might not ever happen and dream up big, elaborate lessons and make lists that will never be completed and jot down ideas that might not ever come to fruition. I want to write! 
Teachers love summer because it is a break. It is a much needed break. We need to recharge, not only for ourselves, but for our students. 

With that, happy summer teachers! Cheers to you and whatever your reason is! 

A First Grader, A One Year Old, & The Georgia Aquarium

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 No comments
We were invited to the Georgia Aquarium over Spring Break to celebrate their 10th Anniversary. What a treat!
I knew the area would be packed with out of town visitors, so we arrived early on a Sunday with a plan in mind! T and I visited the Georgia Aquarium site and put a loose schedule together for our day! High on his list was a visit to see the NEW Sea Lion show and of course, all of the touch tanks! 

We started with trips through River Scout and Cold Water Quest. We were watching the clock though so we could be in line for the Sea Lion show! 
While only about 20 minutes, the show was great. The trainers spoke about the sea lions, their habitats, their food choices, their strength (WOW!) and the Aquarium's conservation efforts. But was it T's favorite part of our full day? Keep reading!
After touch tanks, more touring and oohing and ahhing, we took a walking break with the 4D movie-Happy Feet! Again, the length was perfect for our seven year old and the content was fun and educational. From here, we decided it was time for a snack! The aquarium has added several options for snacks since our visit last year. We were impressed! 
Our next stop was a trip back to the belugas we had seen earlier in the day. T needed to see them "one more time mommy." I don't blame him. They are so beautiful and playful. I am a fan. We then went back to see the Africa penguins, because really, who couldn't use a little more penguin in their lives? Did you know you can check out the penguins from home on their webcams? My class is super excited about this Georgia Aquarium feature!
We went through the tunnel o' fish (not the real name, but that's what T called it) and M was mesmerized. Watching the boys watch the animals was a highlight for me. It's just sweet. While this was big hit with both of the boys, it still wasn't T's favorite part! I was shocked!!
Do you see the diver giving a thumbs up behind him? T thought that was soooo cool!
We went on the Ocean Voyager and saw the belugas being fed, visited even more touch tanks, and learned several new fun facts about some of our favorite creatures.  But was this our little scientist's biggest hit of the day? Not quite.
Another fun feature are these little "mini-experiences" around the aquarium. You can take selfies and have them emailed to yourself of shared on social media. Needless to say, we took advantage of this activity!
We really wanted to see the Dolphin Show because it has been revamped for summer, but M was maxed out! I have heard rave reviews of the new performance that really showcases the dolphin talent! Next time!


As you can see, they have really made some upgrades to the Aquarium. I have always enjoyed our visits,  but I feel like our customer experience (including the super friendly staff inside) was so amazing this time. They are ROCKING their 10th Anniversary and they want us to help them celebrate! Check out their special offers page for deals and start planning your visit now! 

Learn more by keeping up with the Georgia Aquarium on FB, IG, and Twitter!

But really, what did T say his favorite part of our day was? 
My favorite part was the Sea Lion show. I've just never seen anything like that before and I learned why they are in danger. It was really cool and Scout made me smile. 

There you have it! I wonder what your favorite part will be? 


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