A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.

LOL!!!:

Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4:

My 2016-17 Classroom: AKA Home Away From Home

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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. 😦

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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!

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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!

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

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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!

 

 

Illuminations and an Old Tradition

I think they used to call it The Festival of Lights but it’s evolved over the years from brown bags with plain white candles in an eerie silence to hundreds, if not thousands, of all kinds of  lights, a big screen, Santa, and lights choreographed to music. It used to be a tradition of ours but over the past couple of years,  it had been dropped. Why not try it again this year? Besides, I LOVE Christmas lights!

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On the first evening of my Winter Break (because I think ours was the only district in the entire state of Kansas that still had school this week!) and an evening off for my eldest son, we did something as a family with dinner out (Chick-Fil-A) and then came here, to Illuminations, with what seemed like the rest of the entire city. Crowded was a major understatement.

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After paying 4 – yes, 4! – adult tickets even though I was there with my 3 children (okay, okay, so they’re 18, 16 and 13), we joined the lines of people viewing the lights. The weather wasn’t bad but there were plenty of cranky people, that’s for sure. You could easily overlook that, though, when you could hear the sweet voice of a little girl singing Let It Go when they saw the Frozen characters  on this humongous screen, small children on the shoulders of their Dads, little babes fast asleep in strollers, and the squeals of delight from wee ones from sheer amazement of what they were seeing.  And we’ll try to forget the area that smelled like an extremely bad case of B.O. although we thought we had identified the individual and avoided him like the plague. Turns out it wasn’t him after all. Whoops! Sorry, Dude!

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The hot chocolate in the Children’s Farm area was reasonable ($1 a cup) and absolutely delicious. My youngest was, however, getting annoyed that I kept getting the camera out to take pictures. But even though I’m not the best photographer, I like to take them.

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Spazzy look! Daughter wanted us to wear the Santa hats. The eldest son refused. And I’m well aware that my red and green scarf I got from the Santa Run didn’t match the faux leopard Santa hat.

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Eyes half closed? Who cares!

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My oldest son said that was the worst lighting with the worst background to take a picture. I took it anyway. 🙂 Besides, their red eyes match the red tree and lights. 😉

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This area, on the grass by the tables there are some steps by the person wearing red (left side of pic), was where my husband and I exchanged our wedding vows in 1992. It makes me sad to see it now.

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Reflections on the water

I had a good time last night seeing the lights, even if it was crowded. I didn’t let my son’s cranky attitude ruin my night. We were all together and doing something as a family. That has to count for something, right? And we can restart or make new traditions on our own as we see fit. Or not. But enjoy life? ABSOLUTELY.

My 2014-15 Classroom

I went back to work on August 5th for in-service meetings and putting together my classroom (aka home away from home) for new school year. Today I put the finishing touches on it the best that I can as I always add things to the wall the entire school year in preparation for the first day of school tomorrow. The biggest thing I did was buying new fabric in black and put my dot border up.  My teammates did a space theme. Am I rebel to not go along with them?!  Here’s my classroom in pictures:

I love, love, love these windows looking out into the courtyard. I even signed up for the courtyard committee this year!

I love, love, love these windows looking out into the courtyard. I even signed up for the courtyard committee this year!

To the right of the windows in the corner is my classroom library. I spent A LOT of time organizing my books into categories and fiction labels.

To the right of the windows in the corner is my classroom library. I spent A LOT of time organizing my books into categories and fiction labels.

This continues my big whiteboard from my library along the side of the wall. It's nice to have my own sink. Don't know why I didn't move the book holder as it's in the way!

This continues my big whiteboard from my library along the side of the wall. It’s nice to have my own sink. Don’t know why I didn’t move the book holder as it’s in the way!

My teacher desk and technology corner. Don't know what I'd do without my SmartBoard and document camera!

My teacher desk and technology corner. Don’t know what I’d do without my SmartBoard and document camera!

This is also a change from last year as this big ol' piece was blocking my gorgeous view of the courtyard. By putting it by the door it holds all of the students' textbooks so they won't be cluttering up their desks. I'll be using a crate for their "mailboxes". Much neater!

This is also a change from last year as this big ol’ piece was blocking my gorgeous view of the courtyard. By putting it by the door it holds all of the students’ textbooks so they won’t be cluttering up their desks. I’ll be using a crate for their “mailboxes”. Much neater!

Rockin’ the Days Away

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Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend Ron and Nancy Brown’s “Rock Your Math Class” workshop by Creative Mathematics.  My principal had some extra $ available and that always makes it easier if I’m not paying for it!  I am a learner anyway so taking a couple of days during my time off in the summer is well worth it if I get something back to use in my classroom.  Originally I was going to use this class for college credit to go toward my re-certification but I decided against it as I still have time.  That and who knows how things will change with this due process mess?!  But anyhow, this workshop was phenomenal!

I LOVE playing music in my classroom and last year’s class could identify Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and general classical favorites,  just to name a few.  I also try to incorporate melodies and videos to help students learn different concepts from multiplication to bones to senses. It really helps them learn the concept!

Now I’m truly fired up on how to use more music in my math class, not only for use in my core curriculum but also for intervention time.  I have a great book from the workshop with more masters and samples available on-line. Yay for freebies!  From telling time, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, science concepts, and brain breaks, my CD player will be working overtime!

If you’re interested in checking out the music, their website is www.intelli-tunes.com.  I’m anxiously watching my mailbox for the 3 CDs that I have ordered!

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