Sunday, August 29, 2010

weekend notes

Nothing special, just a restful weekend.

I made pizza for my parents yesterday. Thanks, Martha Stewart. Lately, my dinners have been so-so. I have realized that I am not a good cook. I can bake, but I'm really not a great cook. The hubs has lovingly started cooking, taking some work off of my hands. His food is a-ma-zing. His secret: fat. He is willing to deep fry things and smother them in butter, and he chooses thinks like pork chops and steak rather than lean turkey and chicken. I close my eyes to pretend that the food is healthy. I refuse to believe the calories count when your husband makes dinner.

Thankfully, my husband is also a fabulous personal trainer, so we headed off to the gym after lunch. I am never excited about going to the gym, but since we've been working out fairly consistently for the past few months, I can see some great changes. I feel a lot healthier, and it's helping our marriage because we're interested in this together.

Today, I think my body realized the Lord set aside this day to be a day of rest. I am completely exhausted. I barely woke up for church, and have had zero energy all day.

Our pastor included a story of a teacher who specially touched a student's life, a boy who had lost his mother to cancer. I realize the story was one often included in email forwards, but I could not help the waterworks. I love a good teacher story. I've seen all the movies. It doesn't matter how cheesy the plot is, how terrible the acting, how predictable the ending: if it's an inspirational tale of a teacher reaching out to her students, I will cry. Every. Single. Time.

It's 8:42. I'm going to bed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy first week of school!

I have never been pregnant, but I am comparing the first week of school to preparing for the baby and then taking care of him. I spent so much of August working on school stuff, and when August 25 rolled around, I realized the work had just begun.

The difficult part about the first day of school is the fact that my third graders come in, for all intents and purposes, as second graders. And second graders who have had two months off. I just forget, is all. I forget that they need to be taught how to sharpen a pencil, and where to keep their markers, and to wash their hands each time they go to the bathroom. I forget that they don't know me, they don't think I'm funny, they are terrified of third grade, and they are definitely not independent students.

I also really miss my kids from last year. I knew them so well, and when they come back to hug me before they head on to the big fourth grade, my heart just melts.

I'll be honest, it's hard to like this new group of kids on the first day.

Day two is a little easier. I've introduced all of my procedures, but they don't remember a single one. I spend a lot of our morning repeating instructions. Over and over. "Please remember to raise your hand." "Remember, your homework folder goes in your bookbag at the end of each day." "We're quiet in the hallway, don't forget!"

Of course, I forgot to turn in those forms to the office...again.

But today, today was different.

Today, I started teaching. I got into some actual content. I set up my reader's and writer's workshop. They worked on some real math. I did running records. I finally got my head above water, and during my planning period, I read through the surveys I had parents fill out during Open House.

I loved their answers. Reading through the responses, I was reminded how special these little guys are to their moms and dads. I loved hearing what they're interested in, and how parents ask me to deal with discipline issues ("no dessert works!"). "We're big goofs at home." "He's very close to his family."

Yesterday, we drafted a "Promise to Each Other." It's a little cheesy, but straight out of Debbie Miller's Reading with Meaning, and she's pretty much amazing.This morning, I woke up early to get vanilla wafers and animal crackers. I got to school early, cut some butcher paper and taped a border around the paper. Before lunch, we had a "signing ceremony." I played Jack Johnson's "With My Own Two Hands" and we snacked while the kids went up, one at a time. Later, I almost fell on my face, standing on a table to tack the promise on the wall.

At the end of the day, we had our first family meeting. They complimented each other, wrestled when I turned my back, and danced to our pack- up song at the end of the day.

All in all, a great first week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Need grocery help!

I know so many of you are coupon masters! I talked with a good friend yesterday (Thanks Mary Kate) and am so inspired again to figure out this grocery thing. The thought of being able to save hundreds is so exciting...but I'm really unsure with how to get started.
Here are my concerns:
1) Does anyone have a coupon for the Sunday paper? Or do you know how I can find one?
2) Do you shop at one grocery store a week? I doubt I have time to shop at more than Target and one other store...I definitely don't want to store hop!
3) Do you still eat healthy foods?
4) How long did it take you to really start saving money?
5) How did you organize all your coupons? And where do you get them?

Please help!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Here are things from tonight:

1) I made a terrible dinner. Really and truly, it was awful. It was good to start with but then I had to let it sit for an hour until the hubs came home, and in that time it turned to mushy yuckiness and not delicious stir fry. But do not fear! I made triple chocolate cookies and Joel ate no less that FIVE donuts. He works out a lot.

2) I've been going to the gym with him a few times a week. Because of these ridiculous things called dead lifts, my back is desperate for pillows. I am not injured. Just lacking in muscle tone.

3) I am starting to get a little bored. This is wonderful news because it means I am ready for school! I made curtains for my classroom that have super cute polka dots.

4) I am enjoying the following qualities in my husband from the past week:
-He killed bugs even when I was much closer or he was very tired. I never had to go near them. I could stand on the couch and point and it was just fine with him.
-He did not make me feel bad about my crappy dinner. In fact, he ate it all. That's love.
-He helped me with so many classroom things and even let me talk to him about boring classroom curtains.
-He always makes time to go to the lake with me to "run," even though most of the time we end up talking and walking instead (per my request).
-He has turned out to be a much better cook than I am. Great, 'cause I'm not an Iron Chef.
-He is a great hugger.
-He will always discuss things like our school system and NPR programs and he'll listen to Radiolab with me, but also, we've watched a ton of Simpsons episodes.
-He always reaches for my hand in public.

5) Back to other random things. I love Radiolab. Have I mentioned that? It's a science program on NPR that makes me extremely happy. You should look it up right now. Also, I love the Big Bang Theory. I don't understand half of what they talk about, but it is about the nerdiest, most hilarious sitcom on right now. Netflix it now.

6) I got to spend the day with Laura and her babies and Erin. And Laura, you are such a good mommy. I am floored. And I am just in love with those girls.


Monday, August 09, 2010

Classroom ideas

Because I googled "classroom door decor" ideas for days, I thought I'd add my classroom ideas here in case anyone else wants a little inspiration.

Last year, I did an explorer theme. For my door decoration, I found clip art of an old map and typed their names in old-timey font over the maps. I stretched it a bit by including rainforest graphics on the board, and an island getaway theme in the reading corner. We did things like using Time for Kids to read about different countries, using Google Earth, naming each table after a country that we then "explored", mapping out news stories we had heard for an entire semester, and at the end of the year we mapped out all of the countries we had learned about that year. It was really exciting for them to see so many dots all over the globe!

This year, I'm going with a spy/detective theme. I think it'll be fun, because I have many more boys than girls, but what kid doesn't love a mystery? I totally stole this idea from, but my slogan on the door will be "It's no mystery... third grade is great!"
Their names are written on sunglasses, magnifying glasses, and footprints. For their desks, I made my own nameplates in publisher with the same clip art. The bulletin board will display some "top secret" information and be surrounded with caution tape. Thanks to my good friend Meredith, the caution tape includes the words in English and Spanish, perfect for our Spanish magnet school.

At Meet the Teacher night, I'll have the information for parents in a "Top Secret" manila folder. For the kids, I'll have a cryptogram for them to solve while their parents fill out paperwork.

I'm about to head to my classroom to brainstorm some other ideas. I'm also excited to hang up the curtains I made yesterday! :) To be continued...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The End is Near...

Summer is wrapping up folks. I know, I have a little over a week left of No Responsibilities, but I figure I should start getting myself in the back- to- school mindset.

My birthday was last week, two days after our anniversary. Joel got me this necklace that I have been wanting forever:
It's from, and I love everything she sells! We had a great day of relaxing by the pool, going to see Inception, and eating homemade potato chips and chocolate cake for dinner.

Joel was also very helpful in getting my classroom set up this week! Walking into that room after 2 months is OVERWHELMING, mostly because I have a hard time visualizing where I want everything to go. Boxes are stacked up and books are's no fun. But Joel came in and helped me figure out how to best set up my desks, reading area, bookshelves, etc. I decided to get rid of my desk finally. I've been wanting to do that for a while, so I was very thankful to have a big strong man to carry it outside! I think I'll have to work in my room a bit to make sure I like everything before I post pictures of it on the blog. The biggest change is that now I have rows of desks instead of groups of six desks. This change hurt my heart a little bit. I am a big fan of partner work and cooperative learning; however, the Promethean board in my classroom is in a place that many kids weren't able to see it when they sat at grouped desks. Last year, this was a hassle. It led to many kids having to work extra just to pay attention to the board, or getting up and moving away from their groups (thus defeating the purpose of the group). Joel helped me set the desks up in theater style rows, making sure every student had at least one partner.
I hope this will work, but I'm a little unsure.

We went to Target last night and picked up lots of cheap school supplies: Crayola markers for $1, a step stool for $2.50 and a mirror so I can see the "blind spots" in my classroom for $5. Not too bad.

This summer, I haven't gotten as much done as I had originally anticipated. But I am thankful for so many things. I have loved every minute of this break...I feel refreshed and renewed. I have had time for the things I've neglected, especially going to the gym. I haven't really lost weight, but I feel a lot healthier having gone most days to work out. I've been able to read a couple of books. I thought I'd feel bored midway through the summer, and Joel and I both thought we'd get sick of each other after a while. Neither of those things have happened, to my delight. We are very, very thankful for our time together and haven't taken a second of it for granted. Who knows the next opportunity we'll have for 2 months of quality time? I apologize to those of you who have gagged during this paragraph :)

Keep checking for classroom pictures!