December 30, 2012

New Project

I've been wanting to add some things to my TPT store over the holiday break, and I've found that my lesson plan bundles seem to be selling more than anything else. So, I decided to edit and update the Houghton Mifflin science lesson plans that I created when I returned to first grade three years ago. I'll be interested to see how/if they sell. I'll update as soon as I have them finish and posted!

UPDATE: Houghton Mifflin Science Unit A, Chapter 1 is now posted on TPT. Check it out!

December 29, 2012

Holy Comfort Food, Batman!

The cheesy ham and potato bake was exactly what we all needed on this cold, rainy night. I originally planned to serve it as a dinner dish (with a side salad and applesauce), but KShaf convinced me to turn the meal into breakfast-for-dinner. I paired it with fresh fruit (blackberries and blueberries) and whole wheat toast with homemade jam. Um, yum. Filling and delicious.

Best Laid Plans

I had every intention of going to Target later this morning to pick up a few things with the gift cards I received from my family for Christmas. But it is cold and rainy, and all I want to do for the rest of the day is snuggle up in my PJs and make comfort food (like the cheesy ham and potato bake that I'm planning to make as a means of using up the leftover spiral ham I made about a week ago).

We had a great second Christmas with my family yesterday. We ate a delicious dinner of ham, baked potatoes, and green beans, followed by birthday cake (Happy Birthday, Mom!). The kids opened presents in front of a roaring fire and then disappeared for the rest of the evening to play with their new toys. As you can probably tell from the pic below, Princess A's new doll and horse (named, respectively, Rose and Ruby) were a huge hit, and Deedle made me go out the KShaf's truck before the sun came up this morning to retrieve his new bulldozer (that makes sounds and moves by itself...thanks, Mom and Dad!).

I got a text from our daycare provider yesterday that her sewage pipe burst, and as a result, she will be closed on Wednesday (my first day back to work after the winter break). I'll be taking a personal day, and I'm planning to have my sub teach The Gingerbread Man lesson that I never got to before the break.

Off to put my PJs back on!

P.S. Thanks, SpurDog, for motivating me to get the Desk Fairy phenomenon started in my classroom after the start of the new year! I found some adorable freebies on TPT, like this one!

My Two Guys

This is my new favorite picture. It's just too bad that in order to get Deedle to sit still for such a cute pic, he had to be running a fever!

December 28, 2012

New Year, New Blog Template

OMG, I am totally and completely in love with my new blog template! KShaf's comment when I showed it to him? "You have too much time on your hands."

Thank you, Julie, at Leelou Blogs!

Christmas Redux

Last night, I made Iowa Girl Eats' recipe for Skillet Chili Mac and Cheese, and it was fantastic! Sadly, Deedle didn't have much of an appetite, so he ate toast and applesauce instead (much to Princess A's indignation). But KShaf and I loved it! I'll definitely be making this again.

One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was from my sister-in-law, Heather. Heather was a teacher for many years in Texas and New Jersey (her husband was in the Air Force, so they moved around a lot), but she and her family recently relocated to Pennsylvania to be closer to KShaf's fam. She decided to take a break from teaching, and she started her own scented candle and tart business. I am a huge fan of anything that makes my house smell warm, comfy, and snuggly, and Heather's candles do just that! Check her out on Facebook!

Another holiday favorite? KShaf's Aunt A and Uncle D gave me an insanely generous gift card to Old Navy, so yesterday, I took Princess A to the outlets to do a little post-holiday shopping. I found some ridiculously good deals!

KShaf outdid himself this year and bought me a pair of medium-sized pearl studs. I love them! Now, my earlobes won't turn a sickly shade of green from the cheap Target faux-pearl earrings I've been wearing for the past 6 months!

But the best gift of all? Hearing Deedle sing "Silent Night" at the top of his little lungs in church on Christmas Eve, while gripping his lit candle (there were several scary moments when I thought he was going to singe my eyebrows, but, thankfully, I came out of the experience unscathed). There was something about hearing his sweet, innocent three year-old voice singing that particular Christmas carol that brought tears to my eyes. Was it pride? Maybe. But, more likely, I think I was feeling enormously grateful that I had the opportunity to share Christmas with my little babes, and there are 20 families in Connecticut that won't have that chance again.

In a few hours, we'll be heading to C-town to celebrate Christmas with my family. I'm looking forward to sitting around in my Minnetonka slippers and drinking red wine in front of the fire, while the kids tear through even more presents. Merry Christmas, Part Two!

December 27, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

After ten (extremely long) hours on the road, we finally made it home yesterday around 4:30. In retrospect, KShaf and I agreed that we probably should not have tried to make the drive, knowing that a winter storm was on its way. Hindsight is, however, 20/20. It was nice to sleep in my own bed last night, and I know that the kids felt the same way!

We ended up taking the little ones to the doc this morning to get their coughs and fevers checked out. Dr. KShaf had diagnosed Princess A with bronchitis days ago, but I  thought that it would be a good idea to have an actual medical professional take a look. Sure enough, Princess A has a virus that has developed into bronchitis, and Deedle is fighting off the same bug. Poor babies!

Despite being sick, though, the kids had an awesome Christmas with Aunt A and Uncle D. Deedle was thrilled to receive a Lionel Polar Express train from Santa (among other things), and Princess A was beyond excited to get a HUGE (not sure where it's going to fit in my house) stuffed horse from Grandma.


In other news, I'm pretty sure that Femster roped me into running a half-marathon in the spring. Uh, a 5K is a pretty big deal for me; I'm not sure that I'll survive a half-marathon! If I'm going to have a chance, I'd better get out there and start running (especially since I have spent the past month eating my way through every holiday gathering I've attended!).

December 26, 2012

On the Road Again

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and we're on our way back to Maryland. On our road trip so far, we have dealt with a sick child (regurgitated smoothie from Starbucks is twelve different kinds of gross) and a major snowstorm. We made the decision to leave today instead of tomorrow because the weather forecast in Pennsylvania called for a winter storm. We thought we'd leave early and get ahead of it. We thought wrong; we are driving an average of 30 mph and the snow is coming in sideways. It is downright dangerous; we are all very grateful for our four-wheel drive!

I'll update about Christmas when we're home safe and sound.

December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve!

Thankfully, Princess A was feeling well enough yesterday morning to go see the Christmas tree display here.

The kidlets standing in front of the Grinch display

Princess A standing in front of a HUGE stuffed horse...her idea of heaven!

This morning, the kids and I were the first ones up, so we decided that it would be a great time to bake cookies to leave out for Santa. Considering how many times Princess A coughed into the cookie dough, I'm hoping that the heat from the oven killed all of the germs. Otherwise, Santa is going to be one sick puppy in a few days.

When will the day come when my children smile genuine smiles? 

I Won! I Won! I Won!

I am new to this bloggy awesomeness, and already, I'm obsessed. So obsessed, in fact, that I was blogstalking last night (while simultaneously watching The Good Wife...that is an awesome show!), and I found some UH-mazing things out there. I was already a big fan of A Cupcake for the Teacher, but now, I'm an even bigger fan. She posted an awesome Martin Luther King craftivity and printables, and she was giving away a set...and I won! I'm super excited to use it with my firsties in the new year. Thank you, Teri!

Sicky McFeelscrappy (Princess A) seems to be feeling better. Even though she is still coughing like she has consumption, her fever broke over night, and she is much more energetic this morning than she has been in days. G-ma promised that she could go over and check out the horses today, so we'll probably get her bundled up in a little while and take her over. She'll be thrilled!

I'll post pics of our trip to see the Christmas decorations and the kids baking cookies for Santa in my next post.

December 23, 2012

I Am Lost...Without My Laptop Charger

Clearly, someone doesn't want me using technology over the holiday break. An hour into our drive to Pennsylvania, both KShaf and I realized that we had forgotten our laptop chargers. Catastrophe! Then, KShaf had the brilliant idea to stop at the Apple store in Pittsburgh. We found ourselves in a cute, artsy area of artsy, in fact, that when we wandered into a quirky little coffee shop for a caffeine pick-me-up, all of the patrons stopped their conversations and looked at us, as if to say, "Children? Really? You're bringing children in here?" KShaf took my laptop into the Apple store and asked for a charger to fit it. Five minutes and $88 (say what???) later, we were back on the road and hurrying to make it to KShaf's family's house before the snow really started coming down. I sat down yesterday afternoon to blog in earnest, only to discover that the charger that KShaf was handed at the Apple store doesn't fit my flippin' laptop. I stopped myself from uttering some really colorful expletives in Aunt A's lovely house, but I was some kind of frustrated; I had really been looking forward to blogging and creating some things to add to my TPT store. The silver lining is that the charger (that we went out of our way to buy...clearly, I'm not still bitter) does fit KShaf's laptop, so I am able to get some things done, after all.

Princess A is fighting a nasty virus. When we left home on Thursday, she just had a nagging cough. By last night, she was running a 103.9 degree fever. She fell asleep on the couch at 5:30 and spent the next three hours, alternately shivering and sweating. We finally got her settled down for good by 8:30, but she was up and down several times during the night. We know she's really not feeling well when she doesn't ask (500 times a day) to go to Grandma's to ride her horses; she has been looking forward to doing that since we last visited Pennsylvania over the summer. We had planned to make our annual trek  here to see the Christmas tree display, but as I'm typing this, Princess A is running a 102 fever again. KShaf and I have briefly entertained the idea of taking her to the local ER to make sure that she doesn't have flu/strep/ear infection. If this fever doesn't break soon, we might need to. I feel so sorry for her; what a bummer to be sick at Christmas time.

December 21, 2012

Living the Good Life

We arrived in PA safely this morning, despite the dire weather report. We stopped last night around 8:00 at a Hampton Inn (in the midst of torrential rain), and the kids couldn't have been happier to take a break from the road. They took a nice, hot bath and snuggled up into warm, smushy beds. Doesn't Deedle look comfy?

We were back on the road early this morning, and even with a detour to the Apple store in Pittsburgh (I forgot my laptop charger...major trauma!), we made it to KShaf's family's house before lunch. It's a good thing we arrived when we did because it has been snowing steadily for the past eight hours!

Both kids ate huge dinners tonight (you can't beat Aunt A's hamburger patties in gravy, mashed potatoes, pickle-and-olive tidbit tray, and Jell-O salad), and they're now tucked into bed for the night. I smuggled Snowflake into my suitcase before we left yesterday, and now, he's resting against Aunt A's Christmas tree. Princess A is going to flip when she sees him in the morning; as she was falling asleep tonight, she asked, "Mommy? Do you think Snowflake knows how to find us here?"

On a work-related note, I posted a Gingerbread Man lesson and activities to my TPT store. Check it out!

December 19, 2012


Deedle was supposed to be taking a nap. I walked into my bathroom and found this:

Notice Snowflake directly above him. Clearly, Snowflake is not doing his job.

Holiday Extravaganza

Yesterday was the last day of school in 2012. Hard to believe! KShaf and I went to the kidlets' holiday parties, and I was struck by how lucky I am, considering the recent events in Connecticut, to have the chance to listen to my babies sing holiday songs and celebrate with their friends. I'll be the first to admit that I teared up as I listened to twenty-one 4 and 5 year-old children sing "This Little Light of Mine." My little angel is third from the left in the front row. She was positively petrified to sing in front of people; she spent the entire performance, looking at her BFF, and she rarely looked out at the audience. I can relate; I get awful stage fright, too.
Princess A and her Pre-K friends
Deedle making a Kwanzaa kinara
Princess A and her BFF (love the matching pigtails!)

My own party at school was complete holiday chaos. I think I had more parents than children in my classroom! Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I'm sure that there were lots of little first graders who crashed hard and slept well last night!

Today, we are wrapping up some odds and ends in preparation for traveling. KShaf is at Walmart right now, picking up rubber boots for the kids (for horseback riding and cold weather hikes in the Pennnsylvania woods), Christmas gifts for the kiddos, and a battery for the truck. The kids and I are all going to get our holiday haircuts this afternoon; I don't think Princess A or I have gotten a haircut since August! This afternoon, Gram and Pop Pop are coming by to pick up Kin (our pup dog); they are kind enough to watch him while we are in Pennsylvania (Kin and Aunt A's beautiful house are not a good mix!).

I'll be sure to update regularly over the holidays. I am planning to get a lot done for TPT...I am eager to add some things to my store!

December 17, 2012

Snowmen at Night

These snowmen turned out so stinkin' cute! I blogged about them here, and you can also head over to my TPT store to pick up the lesson, link to the craft, and writing paper!

I was super excited take a half personal day today to go to Princess A's and Deedle's holiday parties...and we woke up to thick, dense fog. Since they are both in morning classes, school was cancelled for them. Judging by the forecast for tomorrow (and by the fact that I can't make out the large highway that is behind my house), we'll probably have another fog delay tomorrow, in which case, the babes will miss out on their holiday party all together. They probably won't be nearly as sad as I will be. I'll console myself by taking the kids to school in the morning to drop of their teachers' presents. I promised them that we'll (OK, fine, KShaf) will download the old school version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (who needs Jim Carrey when you can have Boris Karloff?) to watch tomorrow evening to celebrate our first night of vacation.

I have a handful of gifts to finish wrapping, so I'm going to go take care of that. It will be nice to only have the kids' presents left to wrap!

December 16, 2012

Cookie Hangover

This is what Deedle looked like at 6:15 last night. He fell asleep on KShaf while watching Toy Story. I was able to get him undressed and into bed without waking him small feat! The combination of staying up late the night before to make cookies with the girls and refusing to take a nap yesterday afternoon caught up with him!

I spent the better part of last evening, wrapping presents and watching Transformers with KShaf. When Princess A stumbled out from her bedroom this morning, she said, "Mommy! Santa came!" I had to break it to her that, no, Santa had not come, but that Mom has no place to stash all of the wrapped presents, so she had to put them under the tree. None of them are hers, don't worry. I'm not that much of a Grinch!

Also, in case you ever need to know, when your 5 year-old attempts to "warm up" her brother's oatmeal in the microwave, it's best to have a fire extinguisher handy. It was really hard to get angry at her, though. She said (with all the sweet innocence of a 5 year-old), "But, Mommy, I was just trying to help." This from the same child, however, who managed to spill (what seemed like) a 5,000 pound bottle of silver glitter all over the house yesterday morning. Again, it's really tough to get mad at her when she says, "Mommy,  I just wanted to make you and Daddy a Christmas picture." Siiiiigh. Between the burned oatmeal smell and the carpets covered with glitter, I've decided to just give up on cleaning. What's the point?

December 15, 2012

Cookie Party and Rememberance

Princess A, Deedle, Femster, SpurDog, SpurDog's lil' sis, and our good friend, Miss S, all got together last night at Femster's house to make sugar cookies. We had the lovely idea to give the cookies as gifts, but baking with small children never goes according to plan. The kids had a blast, rolling out and cutting out the cookies. By the end of the evening, they were wired (although I think Femster's dog, Charlie, was just as hyper as the kids), and they came home and crashed. I am so grateful to Femster and Spur Dog for being so good to my kidlets; I know they can be a handful (especially on a Friday evening at the end of a long week), but Femster and SpurDog always treat them with so much kindness and patience, and as a result, my kids absolutely adore them.
You can tell how fast Deedle was rolling the dough...
his hands are a blur in this pic!
 SpurDog and Deedle rolling out sugar cookies
Princess A took her responsibilities very seriously!
Check out the flour all over her face!
I copied the following graphic from First Grade and Fabulous. I hope she doesn't mind, but it really sums up how I think everyone (particularly teachers of young children) are feeling right now. I've been giving my own children extra hugs and kisses these past 24 hours...I'm just so grateful for them.

December 12, 2012

Mother of the Year

I had grand plans to make dinner tonight. No, really, I did! But once I got home from work and actually started looking in the fridge for the ingredients I needed, I realized I was missing some essential ones (honestly, what is a grilled cheese sandwich without cheese?). So without any argument from KShaf, Princess A, and Deedle, we set off for dinner at the local Chinese Buffet. I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture below, but Deedle chose only orange foods for dinner: peaches, orange slices, cantaloupe, and sweet and sour chicken. Clearly, I am the front runner for Mother of the Year for allowing my son to eat such a bizarre meal.

Before we went to dinner, though, Princess A insisted that she address her holiday cards for her classmates. All I did was spell her friends' names for her, and she wrote them without any help. The teacher in me is proud, but the mom in me is even more proud. I love the studious expression she has on her face in this picture!

I've barely started my interims, so I'd better get to it. I created some cute free gift tags to attach to small gifts for classroom volunteers; they are in my TPT store!

December 11, 2012

Poinsettias and Post-Bathtime Nuttiness

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, my students will be spending the next few days, learning about holiday traditions in other countries. Tomorrow, we'll be reading The Legend of the Poinsettia and making our own flowers. Usually, I don't enjoy crafty-type activities in the classroom (I'm too much of a control freak, and crafts are just so doggone messy!). But I love the idea of learning about another country's customs and making a Christmas ornament to give parents as a gift at the same time. I made this model this evening to use tomorrow as an example for my students, and I asked KShaf what he thought it was. He studied it for a moment, and then replied (very hesitantly), "Um, a flower?" Hello! It's clearly a poinsettia. I mean, right?

I couldn't resist sharing this goofy pic of Deedle after his bath the other evening. Clearly, he gets his gift for wacky faces from me.

Things To Get Done Before December 18th
  • second quarter interims (haven't started them, and they go home on Thursday...yikes!)
  • grade Unit 4 math tests (giving Unit 5 test tomorrow...guess I'd better get on that!)
  • finish planning Holidays Around the World unit
  • wrap a bazillion gifts (including ones for my Room Mother, my children's teachers and teacher's assistants, bus drivers, and daycare provider)
  • make and package Chex mix to give as gifts
  • hang ribbons on the super-cute ornaments the kids made over the weekend
  • have Princess A address 21 holidays cards for her classmates (yes, I'm lazy and I don't want to address them, it's great fine motor skill practice!)
  • wrap Deedle's gift for his class holiday book exchange
  • buy chips for Princess A's holiday program/party on Monday
Holy Mary, looking at that list exhausts me. As soon as I get everything on that list done, it will be time to start packing for Pennsylvania.

December 10, 2012

I Can't Wait to Blackmail Him With This Some Day

How I Spent My Weekend (and Other Monday Musings)

I think I'm officially holiday-ed out...and Christmas is still 15 days away! I spent my entire weekend getting things ready for the holidays. I assembled 22 bags of reindeer food (and they turned out even cuter than expected!), made two dozen apple-cinnamon Christmas ornaments (see below), and Christmas shopped for close family and acquaintances (I still have some odds and ends to pick up for Princess A and Deedle). I have gobs more to do, including wrapping everything and squirreling it away in trash bags to take to KShaf's family's house in Pennsylvania for Christmas, but I feel like, at least, I have a head start on things.

Princess A mod podging (yes, that's a verb) her little heart out
The ornaments turned out great! I used this recipe, but I ended up having to add almost an extra cup of cinnamon to the dough to make it manageable. My house smelled uh-mazing, though, while the ornaments were drying in the oven. Today, the kidlets covered the ornaments with mod podge and sprinkled them with glitter. They can't wait to give them to their bus drivers and teacher's assistants as gifts!

At school, we are working on a mini-snowman writing unit. On Friday, we made the snowmen, using Elmer's glue and shaving cream (who knew, right??). This Friday, we'll be adding eyes, mouths, noses, arms, buttons, and scarves. We'll be writing about them, too! I'll post a pic of the finished product this weekend. Head over to my TPT store to pick up the lesson, link to the craft, and writing paper!

I also grabbed this great unit to teach my students about holiday traditions around the world. It's a little pricey, but trust me, it's well worth it. I'll be teaching my students about traditions in Mexico, Germany, Israel, and the United States. The best part is that the lesson about Mexico includes a great poinsettia craft that can also double as a Christmas ornament...two for the price of one! I bought (what seemed like) 3,000 squares of felt at Walmart after work today (with two small children in times!), and I'm planning to spend my evening, cutting out poinsettia flowers and leaves, while catching up on The Real Housewives on Bravo. Ah, the life of an elementary teacher is glamorous...try not to be jealous.

December 7, 2012

Fa La La La La

'Tis the season...for holiday parties, programs, and presents! Last night was our school's holiday program. SpurDog, Femster, Kelly (U.), Kelly (M.), and I performed SpurDog's original rendition of "Presents, Maybe?" It was a blast (but, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to top it).

I'm looking forward to a weekend at home with Princess A, Deedle, and KShaf. We don't have any plans...yay! TGIF!

December 5, 2012

Just Because...

It has been one of those weeks. So, I took this pic of my favorite time of the day to remind me what it's all about. There is nothing better than two clean, sweet-smelling kids tucked into flannel sheets, waiting eagerly for a story before bed. Deedle's expression kills me.

Spur Dog got me hooked on some cooperative learning strategies. So, I made these job labels for my blackboard, and I find myself using them all the time. Click on the pic below to visit my TPT store to grab them for free!

It's a hot-chocolate-with-marshmallow-fluff (thanks for the idea, KShaf!) kind-of-night. G'night!

December 2, 2012

Birthday Baby and...Snowflake Has Landed!

Happy birthday to my favorite little girl in the whole world! I am in denial that my baby turns five years old today.

Princess A, five years ago today

Princess A's pony-themed party was yesterday, and judging by the raucous tea party that was taking place in her bedroom with her biffles, I'd say it was a success! I have determined, however, that while I can do many things, piping frosting is most definitely not one of them. On Friday evening (after having been awake since before 5:00 that morning!), I attempted to make chocolate cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting. They were so not cute. Finally, on Saturday morning, after eyeballing my disasterous cupcakes for the last 12 hours, I decided that I couldn't, in good conscience, serve them to Princess A's guests. So...we ended up going here and ordering a dozen and a half delicious cupcakes. They were worth every dime. All of the kids seemed to have a great time, and everybody (including KShaf and me!) slept very soundly last night.

Meanwhile, look who has arrived! When the kids got up from (a much needed!) nap, this new little friend was waiting for them under the Christmas tree. Princess A was hilarious; it took her a good ten minutes to realize he was there, and once she did, she asked me a million times where he came from. I made her wait until Deedle was up to read the story that came with the elf. They agreed to name him Snowflake (I gently vetoed "Snowgirl," "Snugga Mugga," and "God"). I just overheard Princess A say to her little brother, "Deedle, you have to be good all the time. Snowflake is watching!" I think Snowflake is my new best friend.

Princess A and her new friend, Snowflake