My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home


Dogs. Ladybugs. Camping. Sports. Owls. Space. Sports heroes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So many teachers do an entire theme in their classroom, some to the point of being ridiculous. Me? I like to keep things streamlined and simple, primarily because I don’t want it too busy for the students. After all, the focus of my classroom should be the learning that is taking place, not the cutesie pictures on the wall!  I also add posters and anchor charts as we learn different concepts, so some walls look a little bare at the beginning of the year.

This year was no different, although I did find some new borders and tags at Target that I really liked, so I thought I would combine that with the black fabric that I’ve been using for years. (It’s so much easier to put up and doesn’t waste paper every year!) Even better, I got it when it was Buy One, Get One 50% off! I did, however, neglect to buy enough so one weekend I went to 3 different Targets looking for more. Luckily, the last one I went to had what I needed, but, alas, it was no longer on sale. 😦


Isn’t this a cool border? Came with gold to go with it, too!

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Pinterest door on the left that I pinned — My door on the right. Need to add another name for the new student I’ll be getting on Monday! I used black construction paper and metallic markers that I already had to make these. I loved the way that it turned out and was very different from years past when I put a pencil on the door with the child’s name!


The view from the back corner of my classroom. I use my Smartboard all. of. the.time.


I’m using a pocket folder that I earned from turning in Highlights  interest forms (FREE!) this year to avoid more file folders on my counter. 


A blurry picture of a portion of my library. The shelves on the left house more fiction and nonfiction books, all categorized by either reading level or topic. I redid the labels to match the colors of the border shown above. My calendar and Today is: poster is also new and matches the border.


Calendar and job chart info (jobs were added yesterday for the new week). I do Class Dojo for a reward system in my room and the prizes will be added to this board.  My classroom houses the Xerox Color Qube printer that is shared for our 2nd/3rd grade hallway. I’m lucky to have it since I’m the Assessment Coordinator and have to print reports in color for testing. Yay me! Multiplication anchor chart was from that day’s math lesson and will be moved to my “Math” wall for our next lesson.


This is my desk area. My desk is not normally this messy but I decided to take these pictures in the middle of my plan time (hmm, a little distracted, perhaps?!), hence all of the papers on my desk (I spread out , A LOT!).  I love the bookshelf with my teacher manuals!  My homey touch this year – an old lamp and clock since I can’t see the other one very clearly!

So, the only wall you don’t see is the one with all of my glorious windows overlooking the courtyard.  I showed a picture of them HERE if you want to see them again. I love my classroom as I spend A LOT of time in here.  I really like the color choices I used this year and didn’t spend a lot of money to update a few things here and there. It truly is my home away from home.

Lazy Days of Summer?

In looking back at a recent email where the sender had asked what I had been up to this week, I thought long and hard.  What have I been up to this week?  Here it is already Thursday and even though the days seems to pass by in a blur, I couldn’t actually say that I had done much.  Well, I did go to a baseball game with all 3 of my kids on Monday night (hey, $1 tickets through KwikShop, couldn’t pass it up!), ran track night Tuesday night (my awesome running group), church group Wednesday night (DivorceCare), did some baking (banana muffins and brownies – yum!), cleaning, watched the latest episode of Zoo, and finished an entire library book (they’re due on Friday) so I did do something, just not as much as I would usually accomplish.

This morning I made sure I was going to do better than that.

So, I hit the weeds.

This was supposed to have been a vegetable garden.  Although I didn’t seem to get around to it this year.  I meant to.


Instagram caption: “My vegetable garden. Hey, at least the weeds aren’t too crazy – yet! #keepingitreal #haventgottentoityet #notenoughtime

Geesh, it had gotten ridiculously crazy.


A third of it was already weeded by this point. And I had a huge blister on the palm of my right hand to show for it!

The dogs were chasing around a humongous wasp the entire time, which was like, 2 hours in the semi hot sun, that seemed to think I was disturbing its area.  It kept landing on the fence around the garden but, fortunately, never on me!  I never found a nest so hopefully it just moved away but it certainly kept my fur boys busy!


Cooper finally gave in to the heat and wasp chasing and collapsed in the cool earth under the bay window in a section that I hadn’t weeded yet.

I had some potted plants that weren’t fairing too well in the heat, despite the constant watering and their location, so I planted them in this really-next-year-it’ll-be a vegetable-plot.  They’re likely going to die anyway so at least it’ll look nice for a day or two. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’m hoping they’ll last longer than that since it took me so long but I won’t hold my breath. At least my neighbors will be happy not to have to look at the overgrown mess that was there before! (You might be asking why is there an old tire in the garden? I saw somewhere on Pinterest that they made a planter out of it so I thought I’d give it a try. I may regret it later . . . )


The finished product, including the fence, to keep the dogs out of it! Granted, Cooper can jump it in a single bound but it does slow him down.

I worked very hard this morning to accomplish this, then went inside to change clothes and headed to the Y for a treadmill workout with my daughter, who had missed her cross country conditioning this morning (likely on purpose because it was early!).  After getting in my miles (our group run was scheduled for 6 pm tonight, but I haven’t been doing well with the heat/humidity and the heat advisory was brutal today – 108 degrees – so the treadmill had to suffice), a quick drive to MacAlister’s for their free iced tea day (free drinks! Yay!), lunch at home, then preparing for book club. Book club is always fun (a post on that coming up soon!), then dinner, which my son didn’t want to eat.

I feel quite accomplished with today. Is it time for bed yet?


And Just Like That, Another School Year Is Over

I honestly can’t believe that another school year has come and gone.  My mother once told me not to wish time away as before I’ll know it, it will have just zoomed by.  Well, maybe not exactly in those words but you get the point.  Granted, due to budget issues the school ended a couple of days early for the students, which might have made it seem a little shorter but it didn’t shorten my days by much! I still have at least 1 1/2 days next week. Now dreams of summer are a reality.

So this morning I awoke to put my 8th grader on the bus for the last time before he became a high schooler and my 10th grader finished up her finals.  They have grown SO much this year!

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Pics on the left are from August 2015, pics on the right from May 2016.


My 2 handsome boys















Can I brag a moment about my son’s promotional clothing?  He had a hard time deciding what to wear but finally decided on something simple and classic.  I paid $12.99 for the shirt from TJMaxx, $5.99 (not including the 10% discount) for the pants from Goodwill, and $3.48 for the black dress shoes from the DAV. He already had the belt (required dress uniform from school) and borrowed the black tie from big bro.  We had picked out another one but didn’t realize it was navy so the navy/black combo didn’t look good.  Not to worry, the tie was only $0.95 from the DAV. He looked just as handsome and polished as the fellow student whose parents spent over $500 for their son’s attire. My son was very happy with his classy wear, and so was I – and my wallet!


Being goofy with the dogs photobombing in the background before going to school


My beautiful daughter and I before she went off to finish her finals.

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The above Bible verses say it nicely – a blessing from Numbers and one of my favorites, Jeremiah 29:11. Many blessings to you and yours today on this special day/season of promotions/graduations and always!



Weekend Projects – Successes & Failures

It never fails. I go to the project stores and get super stoked about getting projects completed from my to do list yet, alas, something that I’ve bought doesn’t work out. For example, the sliding back door lock decided it was going to break. I’d worked on it before and the latch was sticking and I managed to fix that but this time it wasn’t to be fixed. So I bought a new kit. Who would have thought that the stupid holes wouldn’t have matched up with the steel door? Figures. That’ll have to go back. Strike 1.


The door with off-center holes.

I know it’s February but I hadn’t turned on the two gas fireplaces yet. The upstairs one worked fine once I figured out how to turn on the pilot light again. The downstairs one has an issue with the pilot light and the flames seeping out in the wrong direction. Not good as this will require a visit from a technician. That will have to wait now. Strike 2. Bummer, as we really needed the extra heat downstairs. And my Dad has a blower that will fit in ours after they redid their fireplace!


At least one works!

Next up, ceiling fan. One weekend it randomly decided to drop from the ceiling. Upon further inspection, the entire METAL bracket had split and it was hanging by 3 of the 4 wires.  Yikes! The rest of the fan worked just fine and I really didn’t want to have to replace the entire thing. Luckily, I found just the bracket for $4.97 at Menard’s (11% rebate, too! Score!) It’s been driving me batty walking through the living room with loose wires and a gaping hole. . . Figuring out the wires with the 2 circuits was a new experience but I learned something new and the fan and light now works again. Yippee!


This is what our 13 year-old fan decided to do one Sunday morning.


The new bracket.

Our gable vent has had several mishaps over the years with children.  Who would have thought that a baseball could get lodged in it?  Or a lacrosse ball could wipe out an entire piece?  I finally bought a new one ($45 at Menard’s with 11% rebate) and used some left-over house paint that the builders must have left many, many years ago.  Now all I have to do is climb in the attic and get it attached. Hate the way it looks at the front of the house with the gaping, missing sections. The new one will look so much better!

  20160130_092302           20160205_175606.jpg                                                    Painting the new vent.  Our old vent, with missing slats. 😦

So I managed to get some projects worked on last weekend, which makes me happy. I also managed to do 2 short runs, help my son buy a car, watch a church service, clean the house, grocery shop, and clean the garage. The one thing I didn’t do this weekend? School work! A successful weekend, if I do say so myself, regardless of a couple of setbacks with the projects!

My Running Goal for 2016


My 2016 frugal Training Log aka composition notebook and my 2015 Runner’s World Training Log.

I was happily tracking my workouts in 2015 with my Runner’s World Training Log (a freebie when I renewed my magazine subscription) when I noticed that my accumulated miles (elliptical, running, hiking, biking, etc.) were 666.914. Hmmm. That’s awfully close to 700.  Is it possible with only about 10 days left of the year that I could squeeze in those extra miles??  It was worth a shot.

The week of Christmas I enjoyed a long run mid-week as well as a Christmas Eve run to see the lights at 10 o’clock at night and a Christmas Day run in the morning. I traveled to Colorado where I counted my skiing and snowshoeing miles on top of my running miles. As soon as I got home, I re-added my miles – 696.744.   Geesh! Really?? I needed 3.56 miles and my 5K for New Year’s was 3.1. Okay. So I’ll jog a warm-up.  I thought I was covered but since the race was short (my Garmin measured 2.91 miles), my total came to 699.914. NOOOOOOOOOOO! Well, I’m going to count it as close enough anyway as there were some hikes/walks that I didn’t include in the book for the sake of 0.086 of a mile. And doesn’t rounding count in this situation?

But that got me thinking of a goal for 2016.  It would be super cool to run 2,016 miles in 2016 but that would be nearly 39 miles per week, something that my schedule just won’t permit me to do. What about 800 miles – a little over 15 a week? Or 900 miles?  Or better yet, what about 1,000 miles? That’s definitely manageable – a little over 19 a week – but would still be a challenge at times.

I settled on 1,000 miles. Bring it on!


run with purpose pic

Miles, Moose & Memories

I think my Honda Odyssey knows the route to Keystone, CO, where I love to spend as much time as I’m able.  I saw the weather forecast for our fair city and thought, uh-oh, I can’t be stuck for a miserable sleet/ice-y long weekend! I made it out before the weather came in and back in as it was over. Perfect! Food was prepacked so our only expense is gas and hot coffee while traveling. (Yummy Mighty Mocha Latte from QuikTrip set the trip off to a great start!)  Oh, and Adele’s new CD – 25.

So we left early - 6 am - but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So we left early – 6 am – but still ran into a bit of funky fog. But all of a sudden, poof! It was gone! Weird KS weather!

So, there’s no back yard where we are when we’re in Keystone which means when the dogs need to potty, we have to take them out on leashes.  I was up early Thanksgiving Day, maybe due to the time change, maybe due to the fabulous silence of being in the mountains or not wanting to waste a moment being inside in Colorful Colorado and God’s gorgeous mountains. I leashed up Buddy and Cooper and headed out.  I was walking through the parking lot when a large shape caught my eye by the tennis courts. By golly, there were 2 HUGE moose meandering up the walk!  I fumbled for my phone in an attempt to get evidence but alas, for such large animals, they move quite quickly. I went in search of them to be sure my eyes had not deceived me and saw them again by the townhouses before they likely headed back up the mountain as a loud bus taking skiiers to the slopes rounded the corner.  WOW.  Majestic moose were the words that came to mind as I marveled at their sheer size.  And the fact that I’ve been coming here for YEARS and only just saw this by the homes!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts!

No, REALLY! There were 2 moose by the tennis courts! (center of the pic kind of by the brown house)

Our first full day there consisted of a Turkey Day Fun Run in Frisco, supposedly a 5K.  My Garmin measured it at 2.68 miles. No timing, just for fun (really!). I ran with my daughter. We did it for the first time last year.  Fortunately there wasn’t anywhere near as much snow as there was last year (knee high and mushy. Think mashed potatoes!) and only some ice. We enjoyed watching all of the dogs dressed up and running with their owners. Dogs are so accepted everywhere there.  LOVE.

By the "start" line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

By the “start” line. Me & my fellow runner/daughter.

The Finish Line banner - perfect for Turkey Day!

The Finish Line banner – perfect for Turkey Day!

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Got a pic like this last year with just my daughter. Had to get one with both of us this year.

Our "official" finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter's hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

Our “official” finish picture. Yes, I grabbed my daughter’s hand so we could finish together. I know, too sweet.

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

My parents walked it. Not too strenuously as my mother had just had her 2nd cataract surgery 3 days earlier!

A Thanksgiving tradition we've been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

A Thanksgiving tradition we’ve been doing since 2008, a balloon launch in memory of my sweet nephew,Weston, who went home to be with the Lord at the young age of 22 months.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

Always loved, never forgotten. We write messages on the balloons.

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the "Back Mountain".

A glorious sunset during an evening hike up what we call the “Back Mountain”.

We took the dogs out several times a day to run and we hiked the “Back Mountain” several times as well, almost getting caught in the dark once! Cooper scared me on one of these hikes as he came toward me, crying, then trying to bury himself in the snow.  Great, I thought. He’s having a stroke of some kind and I’m going to lose him. Not to mention we’re over a mile up the mountain! Fortunately, he had a drink from my water bottle, cooled down in the snow, and then took off like nothing had happened. Geesh. Now to calm my beating heart.

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

Salmon for Thanksgiving dinner since 3 out of 4 of us are vegetarians!

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

My dogs love Colorado and playing in the snow! They particularly enjoy running without their leashes.

We left to go home very early Sunday morning as not only did I have to go back to teaching and the kids to school, my two sons were back home. My youngest hates the long drive so we compromised this trip.  I can’t help but feel sad each time I leave there. I feel so at peace and more in-tune with my body, feelings and spirituality. Maybe some day this will be my home. In the meantime, I’ll visit as often as I can.