February 28, 2013

March for Babies

My dear friend, Kelly, texted me today to ask if I wanted to join her team to walk in the March for Babies. I immediately said yes! I have several personal reasons for wanting to walk. First, I had regular contractions when I was 28 weeks pregnant with Princess A. I ended up in Labor and Delivery (on Labor Day...ironic, no?), hooked to a monitor, and pumped full of terbutaline. Once the contractions slowed down, but before my OB was ready to discharge me, he decided to do a fetal fibronectin test to determine whether or not preterm labor was imminent in the next few days. While I was at work the following day, my OB called to tell me that my test came back positive and that I needed to go back to Labor and Delivery ASAP for steroid injections to help Princess A's lungs develop in case she came early. After my injection, I immediately went home and Googled 28 week-old fetuses. What I saw scared the bejeezus out of me. Thankfully, Princess A hung in there for a full 40 weeks, and she arrived at a (very!) healthy 8 pounds, 4 ounces. I felt so fortunate that my little one arrived on time and in good health that I walked in the March for Babies when Princess A was four months old.

Another reason I feel strongly about supporting the March of Dimes is that my BFF from college gave birth to her twins at 35 weeks. Her little girl was healthy enough to stay here on the Shore, but her little boy had to be taken across the bridge to the NICU in Baltimore. Watching my BFF recover from a C-section, battle postpartum depression, and try to bond with her babies when they were miles away from each other was heartbreaking.  Both babies are now vivacious, hilarious 6 year-olds.

Finally, my sweet friend, Kelly, had her little boy, Trevor, seven weeks early. He was in the NICU at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore for three weeks. He fought hard and grew into a healthy little baby. Sadly, Trevor's story has a tragic ending, but his story isn't mine to tell: it's Kelly's.

So, in memory and celebration of Trevor, Kelly has asked friends and family to walk in the March for Babies. If you're able, I'd be touched if you would be willing to sponsor me as I walk to help raise money to ensure that more babies are born on time and healthy. Please click on the link below to visit my fundraising page.

Thank you!

February 27, 2013

Dr. Seuss' Birthday

Hopefully, Seuss Enterprises won't sue me for using Dr. Seuss' name in my blog title.

I created an entire day's worth of Smart Board lessons (for language arts, writing, and math), using Hoot and Holler's Dr. Seuss Reading and Math Common Core Learning Centers and Lessons. When I just went to TPT to link this post to Hoot and Holler's TPT store, I found that they had removed it (stinkin's Seuss Enterprises...they are ruining everything!).

Even without a link to the bundle, I'm hoping that you might be able to use my Smart Board lessons, and maybe incorporate your own activities. Click below to grab the Smart Board lessons from Google Docs.
Please leave a comment if you find the lessons useful!

February 26, 2013

My Baby Is Growing Up

Princess A is growing up. In the space of one evening, she wanted to (a.) learn how to write, (b.) learn how to read, (c.) read a chapter from a chapter book before bed, and (d.) learn about how digestion works. Um, hello? You're only five, chickadee; you're not supposed to be ready for all of that, particularly all in one night!

As a teacher, I struggle with whether or not I am challenging her enough, or whether or not I'm pushing her too hard. She's a bright, inquisitive little girl (obviously, I'm not biased whatsoever!), but more importantly, she is a sympathetic, caring, and kind friend to her peers. At this point in her young life, I feel like that's the most important thing. You can't teach intrinsic good character (no matter how much we try in school!); you either have it, or you don't.  Still, I also realize the importance of having a solid academic foundation at an early age. Thankfully, Princess A usually lets us know when she's ready for the next step, educationally speaking.

She insisted on writing sentences and reading them to her dad all by herself.

"I see a ball. I love you. I see ice cream. I see you. I see flowers."
As you can probably tell, we tackled the sight words I, see, and a tonight.
Love and you were her idea.

The last thing my little genius said to me before she fell asleep tonight was, "Mommy? Daddy taught me a new word for poop." Awesome. I took a deep breath and replied, "Oh, really? What's that?" "Feeksees.," she said proudly. Way to go, Dad. When she repeats her new word tomorrow at school, I hope the principal calls her father first.

February 25, 2013

Listen, Love, Learn Linky

I follow Karen's An Apple a Day in First Grade, and when I found out she was participating in a linky, I decided to join, too (who doesn't love a good linky party?)?

Here's how it works:

1. How do you get your students to listen
2. Do you have a secret love?
3. What do you want to learn more about? If you were able to attend any professional development with no money limit, what would it be?

I have found that a teacher's voice is her best tool. Volume, tone, and intonation are all essential. I rarely use bells, whistles, chimes, etc. I do, however, count down from five quite a bit, and with the group of (awesome!) firsties that I have this year, it works like a charm!

Oh, I have so many guilty pleasures (but none of them are secret!). I adore reality television, particularly anything that airs on Bravo (I could watch Real Housewives reruns for days on end!).

Entertainment news is also an embarassing vice of mine. I have US Weekly, People, and E! apps on my phone, and I check them (way too) frequently throughout the day. 

And then, there's Target. I don't know how I lived before Target opened in Easton. I regularly joke to KShaf that I should just have my paycheck directly deposited there, since I spend all of it there, anyway!

I feel like this whole school year has been a learning experience! The advent of Common Core in our county has forced me to completely change the way I plan and teach. I feel like a first-year teacher all over again (even though I've been teaching for more than a decade!); I have spent countless hours planning and creating this year, and although it has been a lot of work, my students are reaping the benefits. I am really looking forward to next year when most of the work will be done, and hopefully, I'll just need to tweak a few things here and there.

Happy Monday!

February 24, 2013

Birthday Parties and Other Fun Stuff

This is what my kiddos were doing on Friday evening:

They spread their sleeping bags out on our bedroom floor, watched Mulan, and ate popcorn. What a great way to end the week!

Yesterday, we made the trek across the Bay Bridge to go to my niece's birthday party in Baltimore. Her birthday is in mid-January, but the poor kid had the stomach flu on her birthday (for the second year in a row!). There was plenty of pink, balloons, and dress-ups, and everyone seemed to have an awesome time.

On our way back home, we decided to stop at the Outback Steakhouse in Annapolis to spend a gift card (we don't have any Outbacks on the Shore, except down in Salisbury). We stuffed ourselves with steak, shrimp, and lobster. Yum! 

Today, I've been trying to get my behind in gear for the upcoming week. I downloaded a great Dr. Seuss bundle of Language Arts and Math activities, and I'm really excited to use them on Friday. Speaking of Dr. Seuss, did you hear that Seuss Enterprises is actually suing Scrappin Doodles for her Cat in the Hat clip art pack? That might be the goofiest thing I've ever heard; she creates them for educational use, for crying out loud! Ridiculous.

Warning: another shameless plug for Iowa Girl Eats is ahead. I made her BBQ Chicken, Apple, Bacon, and Cheddar Quesadillas for dinner tonight. Another huge hit! Deedle went back twice for more! So simple and so stinkin' good.  

Enjoy what's left of your weekend!

February 22, 2013

Five for Friday

Tired people shouldn't blog. More importantly, tired people shouldn't attempt to link up with other blogs. I totally screwed up my link to Doodle Bugs linky party, so I apologize in advance if anyone got the run-around! 
I love Doodle Bugs Five for Friday linky party...always a good time!

1. I have had a red-letter week when it comes to cooking. My week began when I won rave reviews from the fam for the Pistachio-Crusted Quick Greek Chicken, and it ended this evening with a very successful Southwestern Chicken and Rice Skillet. Yum!

2. My kiddos at school have been all about writing this week. I am constantly impressed by what they are able to turn out. Today, I gave them the opportunity to share the writing that they have been working on for the past two days. I realized that I needed an "Author's Chair" sign for my rocking chair if I'm going to continue to give my firsties the chance to read their writing aloud, so I created this:

Click on the pic above to grab your own copy from Google Docs!
Clearly, I am currently obsessed with red polka dots. 

3. My new pair of sunglasses arrived in the mail from Zenni Optical. I can't decide if I love them, or if they look a little too much like the glasses that older people wear after cataract surgery. Either way, for a whopping $16, I can't go wrong!

4. I took Jennifer's advice over at First Grade Blue Skies, and I organized my fonts on Monday (while I should have been planning for the week...oops!). So helpful!

 This is only one page...there are more, believe me!

5. Thursday was Jumprope for Heart at our school. I had to get in on the jumproping fun. Sadly, SpurDog's camera wouldn't take quality action shots, though, so I had to pose for a few, like the one below:

 I am such an athlete. Can't you tell?
I look like a top-heavy flamingo. But, hey, I had fun!  

That's my crazy week! Thankfully, my week just came to a close with a big, sloppy kiss on the cheek from my littlest guy and an "I love you, Mama." Can't ask for much more...

February 21, 2013

Sequence Word Posters

My teammates and I have been teaching writing this year, using the 6+1 Writing Traits curriculum. I  taught the traits (what seems like) many moons ago when I taught first grade for the very first time. Then, our county moved to the Craft Plus writing curriculum for several years. This year, we are using both programs, and I can honestly say that I can see the benefits of both. I like the language that 6+1 consistently uses, and I appreciate the way the daily lessons are presented in Craft Plus. Regardless, whatever we're doing seems to be working because our students' writing is out of this world this year!

At the beginning of the third quarter, we introduced the Organization trait. We talked about the importance of using sequence words when organizing our writing. Today, the students were writing about a place that they have visited and would like to visit again (and why). Several of my children asked me to write sequence words on the board for them to refer to as they were writing. I told them I would create posters for them to use instead. So, here they are!

I am selling them on my TPT store for $1.00, but I'll send them FREE to the first 2 people to leave a comment and email address.

Presidents' Day Recap

It took me two days to get through my Presidents' Day writing lesson; my students were really into it! Their writing was both hilarious and inspiring.

Exhibit A:

"If I was president, men and women would have to get married on a beach. If I was president, I would help people that had lost their homes and let them live in the White House."
(Notice the swirling purple tornado, destroying peoples' homes.)

Exhibit B:

"If I were president, I would be like Abraham Lincoln. I would read and I would be tall. I would make school a half a day. I would be a football player. I would be on the Ravens. I would not lose any games. I would be rich. Harper will be on my team. He likes the Ravens. I would build the White House on a beach. My cousins and friends will be friends."

P.S. I get to wear sweatpants to work today. Try not to be jealous. We have Jumprope for Heart today, and I am going to join my students during my planning time. I hope they're ready: I can jump some serious rope. I don't want to brag, but I used to double-dutch like no one's business.

February 18, 2013

Presidents' Day Writing Lesson

Phew! I finally finished my Presidents' Day 6+1 writing lesson for tomorrow (better late than never, right?). Click on the pic below to head over to my TPT store to purchase!

Finally...A Dinner That the Whole Family Can Enjoy!

As you can probably tell, I am totally obsessed with Iowa Girl Eats. Her recipes are easy and delicious, and the best part is that most of them can be thrown together in about thirty minutes (which is a darn good thing because my children and husband all come home starving at the end of the day!).

Tonight, I made a recipe that Kristin posted a link to on her blog: Pistachio-Crusted Quick Greek Chicken. Sweet. Mary. Jane. It was delicious. The best part? KShaf commented, "This is as good as something that you'd order in a restaurant." Victory! Thanks, Kristin!

I had the best sous-chef on the Eastern Shore helping me out.
She loved tossing the tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Going in the oven. Looking good!

Deedle enjoying the fruits of Princess A's labors. He asked for seconds!

I had every intention of posting about President's Day, but between grocery shopping and dentist's appointments*, I am just now sitting down to do some work. Maybe I'll actually get myself planned for the upcoming week at some point!

* Random dental trivia: Do you know what an extra cusp is? Thanks to Princess A, I do! She essentially has a teeny tiny bonus tooth growing on top of one of her upper front teeth. The dentist said it's actually pretty rare to have one on a tooth other than a molar. As I said to Princess A, we always knew that she's special; this is just added proof!

February 17, 2013

Date Night and Day Trip to DC

I ended up keeping Deedle home from school on Friday with a croupy cough and low-grade fever. With some rest and a cool mist humidifier, he seems to be on the mend.

Since he was feeling better, we asked Gram and Pop Pop to come down last night to watch the kidlets so KShaf and I could go out for a belated Valentine's Day dinner. We went here, and it was, without a doubt, one of the best meals I've ever had. They had a special Valentine's Day menu, and I had an amazing Caesar salad, a flawless lobster and Maryland crab risotto, and a perfect apple and blackberry crumble for dessert. It was so nice to have the chance to reconnect with my husband; all in all, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect date.

Today, we decided to take a day trip to Washington, D.C. We drove to New Carrollton and picked up the Metro, only to discover that they were doing work on the track, so we ended up taking a bus for a good portion of the trip. Once we arrived in D.C., we realized that the museums don't open until 10:00, so we had to kill a half an hour in the bone-chilling cold (that wind was brutal!).

I adore this pic.

Once inside the museum, nothing would do but that we go directly to the dinosaur exhibit (Deedle is currently obsessed with dinosaurs).

The T-rex skull was his favorite. Obviously.

We bought tickets to visit the Live Butterfly Pavilion, and honestly, it was the coolest thing ever. There were butterflies everywhere, and the kids got to get a really good, up-close look.

Next, we went to the Insect Zoo. KShaf really wanted to see the live tarantula feeding (uh, no thanks!), but thankfully, we missed it. Instead, the kids got to hold some live insects, including an enormous grasshopper and a beetle that plays dead when it is touched. I was really proud of how easily the kids handled the insects; they had absolutely no fear (if Princess A had been handed a spider, however, it may have been a different story!). 

Check out those insect handlers! Such pros.

Admit it, Gram. You're proud of them, too.

We ate lunch at the Atrium Cafe. Good God, the food is expensive there! It was worth it, though. I had a bowl of chili and cornbread, and after being in the cold all morning, it really hit the spot! We trekked over to the Air and Space Museum after lunch, but by that time, we were all getting a little tired of the crowds. So, after checking out a few exhibits, we started the long hike back to the Metro station. On the way, we walked by the merry-go-round, and despite the insane wind and cold, Princess A insisted on taking a ride ("But, Daddy, they're horses, and you know horses are my very favorite. Daddy, please?? I've never even been on a merry-go-round before!").

They. Loved. It.

We didn't get back to the Shore until almost 3:00, and by that time, Deedle was out like a light. He slept on the couch for almost two hours until I woke him up for dinner (the only thing grumpier than a tired Deedle is a hungry Deedle).

Tomorrow, I might start thinking about work. But until then, I plan to lounge around the house in my PJs, drink tea, and read. Best. Weekend. Ever.

February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Fun!

Has anyone else noticed that Valentine's Day has become an awful lot like Halloween? Candy, candy, and more candy! I am going to date myself when I say this, but I remember when I was little, I was perfectly content to open my little (usually handmade) cards and maybe have a special small snack. These days, Valentine's Day is one big sugar fest (I partook in my fair share of chocolate and cookies...good thing I ran yesterday evening!).

Instead of teaching a "typical" math lesson today, my teammates and I decided to have the students play Valentine's Day games. One of the rotations included a hundreds chart puzzle, which was a tad tricky for some of my kidlets, but they all enjoyed the challenge!

One of my hard-working firsties

The finished product. Cute, right?

I'd write more, but I think I'm coming down off my sugar high, and I am suddenly exhausted! I made my kiddos heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner (KShaf has to work, so it's just the three of us tonight). I was hoping that a comfort meal would help the snooty nose and croupy cough that Deedle has developed, but I don't think it worked. He sounds like a seal at the zoo. I'm debating whether or not to keep him home tomorrow. Maybe a hot shower will help?

February 13, 2013

Frustration Station (AKA Freakin' Annoying Technology!)

I'm having a TPT/technology issue. Please help, if you can! I posted a lesson plan bundle on TPT a few weeks ago that includes three Smart Board lessons and two PDF files. I zipped them into one file for convenience. I've had two customers purchase the bundle, and they've both commented to let me know that the file is corrupted and they can't open it. What the hey is going on?? I asked KShaf for some guidance, and the only thing that he could suggest was to rename the file and upload it to TPT again. I create all of my files on a Mac; could that be the problem? If you have any insight, I'd really appreciate it!

I am trying to stick to my goal of running more during the week. This afternoon, I raced home from work so I could go for a run before dinner. It was raining. And cold. And windy. And miserable. But it felt good to get some exercise (before I stuffed my face at the China Buffet, that is).

I am hardcore. Also, when did I get those wicked crow's feet?

KShaf had to work last night (plus, it was Fat Tuesday!), so we had breakfast for dinner. Happiness is a plate of chocolate chip pancakes!

Check out those cheeseball smiles!

Once I finish making dice for a Valentine's Day roll and graph activity that I plan to use as one of my math rotations tomorrow, I am going to take a long, hot shower, and snuggle up in bed with my Kindle. I'm reading Nicholas Sparks' The Wedding. Not my favorite of his books, but it's definitely worth finishing.

February 10, 2013

100th Day Fun!

Friday was our 100th day of school (and as Femster pointed out, only 80 more to go!). The students were allowed to dress like they are 100 years old, and the little guy below outdid himself!

Honestly, this getup kind of unnerved me!

Then, there were the teachers who got in on the act...

I can see these two shaking up the old folks' home already!

This week, I'm looking forward to celebrating Valentine's Day in a low key way. We didn't invite parents, which always reduces the stress and chaos. The kids made their Valentine's Day bags on Friday afternoon, and they look so stinkin' cute, (thanks to Cheri fonts, red lunch bags from Target, and heart foam stickers)! I'll have to take a pic. I plan to have my kiddos complete A Cupcake for the Teacher's "Love Is..." writing activity. Her ideas are so adorable!

Friday is an early dismissal day, and as tedious as professional development meetings can sometimes be, I'm excited to have the chance to sit down for a few hours! And, of course, I am super pumped for a three-day weekend. Who isn't?

Princess A and Deedle were up early on Saturday morning, playing quietly (which always makes me suspicious). When I checked on them, I found that they had plastered their bedroom doors with "Keep Out!" signs. The irony was that they were helping each other make the signs!

Princess A's creation: "Keep Out. Alice. No JD."

I ran today for the first time in almost three weeks in an effort to shed the funk I've been in  lately. The run, a hot shower, and a quick nap helped. I ran five miles (the longest I've ever run!), and I thought I was going to die toward the end! It felt so good, though, to get some "me" time and some exercise. I am going to try to make running a priority again, like I did during the warmer months, and I'd like to get at least one mid-week run in so I'll be ready to run the 5K (or even 10K) in St. Michaels in May (SpurDog? Femster? Poodle? Are you with me?). I am counting the days until the time change kicks in!

February 6, 2013

Just Call Me Oscar

...the Grouch. I have been a beast this week. I don't know what has gotten into me. I mean, the Ravens won the Super Bowl. KShaf is home from Pennsylvania. Both kids are healthy. My house is somewhat tidy. Taxes are done. Bills are paid. So, what gives? I think I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed at work right now. We had a snow day last Friday, and I feel like I've been playing catch-up since; I just can't seem to get ahead of the pile of work that I have to get done each day. Plus, report cards went home on Monday, and parents have been calling and emailing like crazy to arrange conferences (mostly just to "check in"). Add to that 100th Day of School on Friday and Valentine's Day next week, and I feel like a hamster on a wheel! Arrrrrgh! Presidents' Day will be a welcome break.

Princess A sat down last night to address her valentines. Let me tell you, addressing 21 valentines (with minimal room to write!) can be a bit of a challenge for a 5 year-old who likes everything to be "just so!" Nonetheless, she persevered, and her valentines turned out great!

I love the raised eyebrows in this pic.

This morning, Princess A was drawing a picture of a snowman, which she proudly shared with Deedle and me. Nothing would do but that Deedle draw a snowman, too. How flippin' cute are these??

Obviously, Deedle's is on the left. I helped with the hat and mittens, but the rest of the (kind of ghoulish) creation is all Deedle's!

I've had my nightly cup of decaf Chai tea, so it's off to bed for me!

February 2, 2013

Five for Friday (Saturday Edition)

I'm linking up with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs for her Five for Friday linky party.
Here are five (totally random!) things from my week.

1. While it was snowing yesterday, I got inspired to do a little baking. There is nothing better on a cold, blustery, winter day than a batch of freshly baked pumpkin muffins!

Please ignore the state of my oven. I hate cleaning my oven (therefore, I try not to do it very often!).

2. My glasses finally came from Zenni Optical! (I may or may not have made my children wait to go to their sleepover until the mailman came...I am so mean!) I am officially hooked on Zenni. You can't beat two pairs of prescription glasses for less than $25.  Up next? Sunglasses!

 Check out that ridiculous hair!

3. KShaf is in Pennsylvania for his Aunt A and Uncle D's 50th wedding anniversary (!!!) dinner. The only wrinkle in his plan? He was hit with the stomach bug on his way there, so it took him more than 24 hours to reach his aunt and uncle's house. I felt awful that he was so sick and by himself in a $49-a-night hotel room. My guilt, however, did not stop me from doing a little shopping for the kidlets and me after work on Thursday.
What girl doesn't want a pair of silver, sparkly faux-Uggs?
These shoes crack me up...and Deedle loves them!
I didn't necessarily need another pair of Minnetonkas, but I heart my brown pair so much, I had to get a gray pair, too.

4. My mom has been wanting to get Princess A and GBear (my niece) together for a sleepover at Gram and Pop Pop's for awhile now. The girls are less than a year apart and have been the best of friends since birth. So, since KShaf is away for the weekend, we decided that it would be a great time to finally have a sleepover.  The girls had a big dinner of spaghetti and garlic bread, followed by brownie cupcakes. After changing into their jammies, they headed downstairs to watch a movie and eat popcorn. They didn't make it to bed until 9:30, but they went right to sleep, and when we went in to check on them, they were asleep in the same bed! So doggone cute.

Love the bedhead.

5. Yesterday, my class was supposed to go on a field trip here to see Queen Nur: Sweet Potato Pie and Such in celebration of Black History Month. I had planned to have my firsties work on Heather's adorable groundhog-related (FREE!!) math activities when we returned from our field trip. I had also planned to teach this Groundhog Day Smart Board lesson:

 I originally found this lesson on Smart Exchange, and I tweaked it a bit to meet my needs.
Click on the pic to grab your own copy from Google Docs!

Then, I created this writing page to accompany the lesson:

Grab yourself a copy!
Hey, if I can't use it, hopefully, you can! Drop me a comment if you're able to use any of these documents.

Happy Saturday! Stay warm...

February 1, 2013

Snow Day Fun Graphing

It's snowing in Maryland...again! When I went to bed last night, they were predicting "snow flurries and snow showers." By the time I woke up around 5 this morning (yes, my children wake up at an ungodly hour), we had a Winter Weather Advisory, and they were calling for 2-4 inches! It is coming down like crazy right now, and the kids begged me to go out and play in it. Princess A lasted about five minutes (she is now snuggled up on the couch under a big blanket). Deedle is still outside, pushing his fire rescue truck through the snow. As soon as he wanders inside, we'll make hot chocolate. I love snow days!

I love the expression on Princess A's face in this pic.

Deedle loves that doggone helicopter. He sleeps with it every night!

Notice that Princess A and Deedle are wearing our shoes. 
When I asked them what they were doing, Deedle replied, "We're playing 'Mommy and Daddy!'"

It's kind of ironic that we got this unexpected snow today. Yesterday, in Math, we were creating snowy day fun bar graphs.

We spent the day before, learning how to construct a bar graph:

1. Think of a question that you would like to have answered.
2. Survey your friends. Gather your data, using a tally chart.
3. Construct your bar graph.
4. Interpret your data.

Check out my lean, mean, graphing machines!

They were really into this activity!

I'm off to pack a bag and rustle up Deedle's sleeping bag; we are headed to Ctown this afternoon for a sleepover with my sister and niece!