First Two Weeks of School + Happy Labor Day Weekend

Well, I have officially made it through the first two weeks of school. Our Open House was on Thursday. I was not too keen on having Open House the second week of school. However, it makes sense to not have it too much later so that parents aren’t expecting an individual conference 🙂 My Open House went well. I don’t know how other teachers feel, but it always feels like I have to cram so much information into a very small amount of time. And then do it all over again. (Our school has two sessions in case parents have students in other grades.) I hope they think my jokes are as funny as I do!! 🙂 I think I am a riot! But, sometimes I have to check to see if Ryan heard me or not when I make a joke. He forgets to laugh sometimes, so I have to remind him to be a good audience.

ANYWHOO…

It is Labor Day weekend and time to relax after a hectic couple of weeks. We have minimal plans this weekend so we can truly enjoy the extra day off. Today, we went to our current usual spot—Firehouse Subs.  They have the BEST hot subs.  I am not even a little ashamed that I inhale a whole large sub.  Every time.  And yes, that is the same amount as my boyfriend.  It is so good.   Now, I am getting the look that it is time to shut down the computer and watch the Gator Game!!

GO GATORS!!!!!!:):)

 

 

My routine has been altered. My Mondays no longer are spent catching up on Netflix and taking Titan out to play.

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Summer, Don’t Go!

I can’t lie.  I get VERY excited for the beginning of the school year!!!! At the same time, I have had a much needed and very relaxing summer.  It is so typically human of me to feel nostalgia for the summer which hasn’t completely left yet, but anxious to get back into the school year groove.  I get a little stir crazy towards the end of July, but I’ve worked on many personal projects this summer, including: this blog,  my personal writing, my TPT store, and Netflix. 😳

Nonetheless, yesterday began my transition back to the school year (math training😳).  My friend and I laugh about how a new school year for us is really like the official “New Year” rather than January 1st.  I think I might wear my Happy New Year party hat for the first day of school 🙂  Seriously.  I was joking about that, but I think my kids would get a kick out of it AND one of Lucy Calkins’ first lessons in her new Common Core 3rd grade writing units of study is setting goals for the New Year.  I think this really might happen in my classroom.   I will be sure to write a post…with pictures:)

Although many people think teachers have the dream job of having summers off, -okay so I was going to point out how we work so hard, etc.  But I need to say  YES! It is fantastic having the summers off.  Sometimes when I wonder what else I could be doing in my life, what other career…I then remember I would probably have to work during the summer.  Then, I forget about the new career entirely (unless it involved writing full time😀).  However, the past 2 summers have been the first real summers I have actually had off and not been teaching, working at a summer camp, working a second job, or in school myself.

I have still done a lot of school work the past few months, which I would NEVER get done during the school year.  So, yes-teachers need summers off.  I left out the part of the mental regrouping which is essential for this job.

What I have enjoyed MOST about my summer would be spending time with Titan.  Speaking of Titan, he was selected by our vet as the Boarder of the Month for July & we received a gift certificate for 2 nights of free boarding!! WOOHOO! Time to plan a vacation!😄 We are so proud of him! Of course, Ryan and I act like it is our child bringing home the Student of the Month award.  It kind of felt like it.

Nice Work, Titan🎓

Nice Work, Titan🎓

To celebrate our star student and the last few days of summer I have left…we enjoyed some Chinese food, plus Ryan brought home Divergent (movie) fresh out of Redbox! I’ve been waiting to see this!!

I hope this Tuesday has treated you kindly!

 

Habits & Routines

Yesterday, Ryan & I went to Barnes & Noble in search of a book I accidentally left at school, but wanted to do some work with over the summer.  We didn’t find the book, but I sure did enjoy my trip to the bookstore!  There is something so magical about walking through a bookstore, especially Barnes & Noble.  I know we have an endless amount of knowledge at our fingertips via the internet, but there is a big difference between an article about a topic and a book about a topic!  Plus, I had a gift card from my birthday 🙂  Barnes & Noble  had a lot of books on clearance & I came home with some well-priced quality reads.

My Bookshelf:)

My Bookshelf:)

Ryan also surprised me with the book on the bottom (Night Road by Kristin Hannah) later when we were at home.  I was looking at it earlier and decided not to get it because I already had a few books in my hand and more at home waiting to be read.  While I had my nose in any and every book, he bought it and ran it out to the car.  He is so thoughtful 🙂  One of the many reasons I love him so much!

I bought the book 90 Days to Your Novel in hope for a little inspiration.   I’ve already read 35 pages and come across some key points which are impertinent to succeeding in this project.

  • The secret to success , after all, is not your inspiration, remember, but your habits.  (pg. 15)
  • Writers do not wait around for inspiration to give them an idea.  “Instead they rely upon routine, upon self-determination.” (p. 16)

And I just wanted to add on something Roy Peter Clark said, which has stuck with me.  We may not be able to write a whole book in a day (or at all) simply because the enormity of the task paralyzes us, but we can write a page a day.  Breaking projects down into small parts will help us feel more successful because we can actually  accomplish small chunks.  These chunks will later lead to the bigger projects, but you may be more likely to complete the big project.  This is a huge realization for me.  And it’s not even that I didn’t know it-it’s just I don’t PRACTICE it.

The book really got me thinking about  my habits and routines.  Sure, I know I have them, but what are they?  Truth be told, it is currently difficult for me to label my habits and routines because I have been on Summer Break for the last couple of months and my “routine” is typically more of a question of: What am I in the mood to do?  This has been extremely nice, but I am a girl who LOVES routines and NEEDS them.  However, having  a dog requires some form of routine & I have a typical exercise routine, as well as a daily routine during the week when Ryan is at work.

Carving out real time for writing will require me to make some decisions  & sacrifices in other areas.  ESPECIALLY, when the school year starts.  Being a teacher, I do not think it is realistic for me to expect to have a novel written in 3 months.  But, if I’ve got a good chunk written and have a direction -I will be ecstatic!  I love to write and this has been a dream of mine since I can remember.  As I get older, I realize that soon other parts of my life will require more attention and I may not be able to focus on this dream goal as much as now.  So…NOW is the time.

 

Happy Monday!

Monday, here you are!  Our weekend flew past!  I am NOT complaining at all because I am not the one in our household who actually has to work today. BUT…I am the one who will be cleaning our house! Top to Bottom.  It is that kind of day.  And I cannot lie, but I am excited.  I love to do some deep-cleaning.  There is something so therapeutic and orderly about it that tickles me inside 🙂

We left for Orlando late Friday night because I had a long day in downtown St. Pete at the Poynter Institute.  So much more to say on that.  We spent the weekend with the family.  Lots of Family Time! Titan received some much needed attention from Cody and Jayla, our neice and nephew; as well as a HUGE yard to run around to his heart’s content.  I am not going to pretend that I don’t enjoy when this guy is exhausted 🙂  Oh, how I love when he follows us around the house, lays on top of us, and uses our body parts for chew toys. 

June 2014 Ryan's ipad 760 June 2014 Ryan's ipad 528June 2014 Ryan's ipad 745

Saturday was a pool day.  A glorious one at that.  Cody, Jayla, and I played our regular game of Marco Polo.  When that got old, Cody asked his mother to look up “Cool Pool Games” …without much success.  I remember when I was a kid we had all kinds of games we could play in the pool, but for the life of  me I couldn’t remember them.  I recalled two names-Alligator (did I make that up?) and Categories.  Don’t ask me how to play those- no idea. 

We tried once again to get Titan into the water and swim.  Well, Ryan tried because last time I got some serious scars because it was like putting a cat in bathwater.  This time, though, Ryan held him and he was very calm.  He seemed to be okay as long as his dad was holding him:) Aren’t they cute!

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Titan had a fun time with everyone, as usual! He thinks he IS the party.

What I’m Reading:

I also finished another Jodi Picoult book this weekend, Plain Truth.  I’ve read a lot of her books and she is by far one of my favorite authors.  This one was not disappointing.  I always like to take something away from a book I read, and this one made me think a little deeper about my faith.  This book is about an Amish girl who is accused of neonaticide and her lawyer/cousin going through her own life hardships like wanting a baby more than anything in the world and being too old to conceive/in the wrong relationship.  There’s the plot for the book right there- enough said 🙂 This book is one of Picoult’s older books and I am glad I decided to pick it up 🙂

I started a new book yesterday by Kristin Hannah-  the things we do for love. (I didn’t capitalize that because this is how it reads on the cover:)  This one is about a woman who cannot conceive and it breaks apart her marriage, as well as a 17 year old girl, who has an alcoholic, negligent mother. 

 AND…I am starting to notice a theme in my recent reads.  All I can say, is Ryan bought them for me:) LOL.

What I have begun doing in these two books, as I was taught in my recent stint at Poynter, is writing in my books.  When I notice phrases, character traits, words, or anything the writer did- I underline, jot in the book, make notes, etc.  I teach my kids to do this all year long on typed up copies of stories. But, if I’m buying the book and own it-why have I not been doing this?   I usually do so when reading nonfiction or documentaries, when I am trying to learn something. Even the novels I use to teach.  If I want to write a book someday, why am I not doing this already?

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Yea…that’s me:)

Well, I am glad to be home and need to get this cleaning party started!! 

Question 1: How do you feel about cleaning?  Do you find it as therapeutic and enjoyable as I do?  Or do you think I have a little bit of crazy going on?  (I won’t be insulted:) )

Question 2: What are you currently reading?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After School Snacks & Technology Tools

This summer has been very relaxing!  Though I have enjoyed my time reading, watching TV, movies, and spending most of my days with Titan- today marked how close it is to the upcoming school year.  I can tell I am semi- ready to go back to work, but not quite yet.  Over the past few days, I have driven Ryan crazy with the amount of time I have spent on the computer just trying to learn how to do some techie stuff and getting some lessons ready for this coming school year.  I came across 2 wonderful teacher blogs which have been so helpful for doing educational STUFF.  If you are a teacher blogger or a seller on TPT, these are two wonderful teacher blogs which I found very helpful for some of the technology logistical kind of stuff.

Mrs. Stanford’s Class.

 

 

I’ve put a few new products on TPT and revised some of my existing products after finding these 2 bloggers.  I know I am only touching the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many teacher blogs out there & I love finding those little gems! My brain has been on overload learning some new stuff, plus trying to organize my pictures online and I’ve started using Dropbox.  LOVE IT!  PLUS, over the next 3 days I am attending the Florida Core Standards Summer Language Arts Institute at Poynter. in downtown St. Petersburg.  I have learned so much today that my brain literally hurts!! I am reminded of how I feel during the school year, especially the first few weeks/month.  It’s so funny because when I get home on days like today I am STARVING!!!!!  On the hour (yes, hour.) drive home I was dreaming about what I could make to eat when I got home because even though they provided a wonderful lunch today, I did not eat enough protein.   The love of my life has taught me enough about nutrition, but I have learned the hard way how the lack of protein can affect your brain functioning.  Sad, but true.  So, I tried to have a plan of attack on the way home in order to not eat the entire fridge.  Yes, that would happen.   The most likely meal of choice for me would be cheesy eggs because they are the perfect meal to me.  On a side note, Ryan assumed I would be having eggs and vodka for dinner since he will not be home tonight.  As horrible as that may sound to you, it’s been done before!  ANYWAY, to make a short story long…I actually whipped up a very delightful snack/meal.

Introducing…

Honey Chicken with Grapes!  #iCANcook     (if the chicken is precooked😉)

I didn’t want to include a picture because it tasted a lot better than it looked. Plus, keep in mind this is NOT a cooking blog:) I leave that to the experts! ☺️

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If you ever find yourself in a what-can-I -do-with-chicken predicament:

 

Sautee on high in a pan:

  • chicken
  • grapes
  • honey to your desire
  • white wine vinegar
  • apple cider vinegar
  • walnuts

We eat a LOT of chicken in our household and Ryan is always trying to find ways for me to actually eat it because I get real tired of chicken real quick.  I have a friend who loves to cook and I love to eat her food.  She has made a chicken and grapes dish a couple of times, but I have yet to ask how she makes it.  Today, I was so hungry and there was chicken in the refrigerator and there was grapes and somehow I started eating the chicken and the grapes. And so, I needed a chicken and grapes type of meal.  My new favorite chicken dish is born.  I am certain Ryan could doctor this up & make it better, but I must say I was impressed with myself:) Tonight, it is back to the Booty Burn class because I need a Brain Break!

Question:

When you get home from school or work, are you famished? What is your snack (or meal) of choice? Or do you just tough it out until dinner?  …I would if I could!! 🙂

Recharge & Regroup

Our 4th of July weekend was fun.  A little too much fun 🙂 Our trip to West Palm Beach was pretty much our “big” summer vacation, but a million memories were made.  That’s what matters.  It’s not where you go, but who you are with.  I LOVE West Palm anyway<3  Needless to say, after 5 days of all out vacation- we needed to detox and recharge.  Yesterday, Ryan went to our local produce stand, which we are forever thankful.  He whipped us up one of his lovely green Kale Concoctions & that’s where we’ve been at the past few days.

Kale Concoction

And then for dinner: fresh salads and chicken.  Sounds boring, but feels great.  When he got home from work today, we went to Publix to grab more fruits and vegetables.  We decided to try Naturally Fresh’s Ginger dressing and it was fantastic! It really tastes like ginger dressing you would find in a restaurant.

My Colorful Salad

My Colorful Salad

After 2 days of pretty much relaxing and trying to get Titan back into the groove, I decided it was time for a Hot Yoga class.  The studio I go to offers a class on Mondays and Wednesdays called Booty Burn.  I rarely go to this class because it is NO JOKE and not for the faint of heart.  My legs were shaking the entire time and the class started with nonstop multiple repetitions of plank.  The yoga instructor rocks it!! The music is upbeat, motivating, and keeps you moving.  Every time I attend this class, I am astonished at why I don’t make it there more often.  After dinner I was, as usual, still hungry.  Before we went on our trip, I had a nightly couch habit of movie butter popcorn.  I’ve been trying to kick the habit because it becomes an EVERYDAY thing.  YIKES! So I am replacing my buttered popcorn for edamame.  At least for now 😉

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July, friends! Smile It has been quite the fun-filled couple of days.  On Wednesday, Ryan & I dropped off Titan at the vet to hang out for the weekend.  It is our first time leaving the little guy for a vacation.  We were absolutely the nervous parents!  Then, we drove on out for 4th of July to West Palm Beach.  I spent Thursday shopping at the Palm Beach Gardens Mall.  This was my first experience and I absolutely LOVE this mall!!!!  PLUS, it was the best day to shop because stores are having their “semi-annual” sales and extra percentages off of clearance.  Needless to say, I scored some deals! My favorite would be these Ralph Lauren sneaks for $12!  I cannot tell you how excited I was!  I needed some anyway Smile

Ignore the smudges 🙂 Couldn’t help but to wear them A LOT.

 

Today, I have already witnessed a live eating contest with burger sliders(Seriously.) and enjoyed possibly the most delicious homemade macaroni and cheese I’ve ever eaten in my life paired with a fantastic wine I am enjoying at the moment while typing this post and enjoying AMC’s Dead, White, and Blue aka The Walking Dead marathon.  What luck Smile Happy Fourth! I hope you are spending  America’s birthday with your family, friends, and loved ones Red heart

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What does your Fourth of July consist of? Smile

 

Habits of Readers & Writers

Over the summer,  I have really and truly been working on MY writing.  What this means to me is to take time away from all of the extra work that goes into teaching and instead focus on myself as a writer.  I have this crazy, lofty dream to actually write a book, actually BOOKS.  One day I hope to have a second career as a writer.  This dream feels far away sometimes; but any teacher of writing knows that you would never let your students feel this way, which I try to remind myself of when I get that “I can’t do this” feeling.  All writers have things which hold them back and I have two:  1) confidence- which is a popular fear of a writer, especially kids  2) I have so many dribbles of ideas, not really ONE completely focused one.  I think these are obstacles which can be overcome…in time.

What I have found through teaching writing, learning from other marvelous teachers, and observing behaviors of myself as well as others are some habits to help build your life as a reader and writer.  I say reader and writer because one is incomplete without the other.  I initially began to build this list in order to set my students up at the beginning of the year, but I also believe it is a nice reminder for myself:)

Habits of Readers & Writers:

1)  Keep pen/pencil & notebook or paper handy. Wherever you go. You never know when you’ll need it and mostly you never know when an idea will pop up.  I truly get random story ideas or character ideas or setting ideas, even envisioning scenes when I am not trying.

2) Read! Take notes.

3) Enjoy the reading, but think also…”What did the writer DO?”

4) Study those books that you really enjoy.  I have a handful  truckload of books which have inspired me to write.  I love the story and I love how the book makes me feel and I always think. I want to do that!

5) You have to write.  Everyday.  It doesn’t have to be the masterpiece novel you’ve been dying to write your whole life (I wish it was though!).   But, you can’t expect to get there if you are not writing at all.  Journal your day, write an email, read a good book and take notes.  I find that I actually become more frustrated when I want to write something amazing because my expectations become too high.  Which leads me to my next habit…

6) Write to discover.  There are so many times when I have no idea where my writing is going or even what I am going to write, but if you find a way to get started you might end up with a “neurocaine”!  This is far beyond the regular brainstorm:)  I had one last night and it was fabulous 🙂

This list is an ongoing process.  I found several blogs last night dedicated to writing (which I need to share the links-I’ll get on that!), which had wonderful inspiration for writing and success in general.  Plus, we all come from different backgrounds and experiences…

Do you have any habits to add?

Happy July!! 🙂

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Introducing…Titan!

Mommy & Me

7 Weeks 🙂

In March, Ryan brought home our new baby: Titan. He is a beautiful black and brown Doberman and the love of my life (second to Ryan). Currently, he is all kinds of on top of me trying to eat my pencil, change the channel (yes, I know I am too old to be watching Pretty Little Liars, but I have a secret addiction to ABC Family), and using the computer cord as a chew toy. Did I mention licking my ears and fingers while I type? He does not seek attention-he demands it.  He is the best cuddler and simply a lover! At 6 months old and 60 pounds, he still thinks he is small enough to sit in our laps.   I think he will always believe he is a lapdog 🙂

It is amazing to me how much I love and adore this dog.  I have never been much of a dog person because I thought they : a)  were not that smart b) were too much work and  c) pooped and peed everywhere.  Boy, was I wrong.  Maybe it is because he is ours or because he is a Doberman.  Either way, I think I have been transformed by this beautiful creature! He drives me bonkers, but he also provides me daily with love and affection.  My mother has been telling me this about her dogs for years.  Now, I get it 🙂

Writer’s Workshop Wednesday

So, my school district has decided for whatever reason, we no longer have Writer’s Worskhop  at the elementary level, we will teach Reading and Writing together as Language Arts.  “Oh, this is wonderful!,” they say.  “Reading & Writing will finally  be connected as they were meant to be all along.”   And I agree.  Wholeheartedly.  I’ve been trying forever to tie the two together and teach Reading & Writing side-by-side.  But the way THEY mean it is that we write in response to Reading.  Our Writing is based on text.  On someone else’s ideas and words.   I am appalled at this decision and believe there is the need for students to write about their own life’s experiences, events, and things they know about .  Research and all of the Writing Elders (as I like to think of them) such as Fletcher, Graves, and Calkins along with MANY others have shown not only the value, but the  significance of having a daily Writer’s Workshop.  I inquire regurlarly, “Where is the research that states students do not need Writer’s Workshop, but they need to daily respond to the text and then write a response, then an extended response, and then a culminating task, and then a literary analysis….?” You get the idea and sense my frustration.

I have carried my anger, frustration, and sadness about this all school year long, as well as most of last year.  I have come to realize that in the end, I need to do what is best for my students.  What I know is best.  I don’t like to throw around degrees and experience, but I DO know what I am doing.  This is not my first ELA rodeo! 🙂  It just saddens me when I know kids are missing out on the joy and love of writing. 

Over the Thanksgiving break, I did a lot of running and a lot of yoga and a lot of reading and a lot of thinking.  I had to do something different for my kids.  I had to make this work.  I have to come up with a way to balance what they think I should do with what I know is best.

Writer’s Workshop Wednesday is born.

I have been teaching Writing when and where I can in our tight schedule, but I felt students need at the absolute very least one day dedicated to Writing Workshop.  Today I introduced the simple, yet super exciting idea.  They’ve heard me grumble about writing all year & they get just as excited as I do about writing! (Hear,hear to their teachers before me!)  We are working/trying to finish up All About Books/Texts that Teach.  My students are super excited about WWW.  (They totally got the alliteration!  I love my little writers:) )  So, I taught my lesson, put on the classical music for studying radio station on Pandora, and we wrote!  🙂 As any good writing teacher knows, the most important part of writing is to get them excited about it! Step 2: talk to them about their writing. 

We had some wonderful conversations and I am eager to see where this may go!