Welcome! Join me as I share my experiences as a wife, mom, and kindergarten teacher, and my reflections on them all. Come along as I share my crazy journey!

Friday, January 31, 2014

January Chalk-a-bration and Poem Love

Today is January 31st.  Do you know what that means???  It's Chalk-a-bration day!!


I have linked up with Betsy at Teaching Young Writers to share a little chalk love.

Yesterday, my students were fortunate to have a visit from the amazing Betsy!  She came to share a little poetry love with my students.  They read poetry, shared ideas and chalked a poem with Betsy and it turned out just amazing!  I was very proud of my little kinder sweeties.  They were completely engaged in the poetry, their work, their thoughts.  In fact, when it was time for Betsy to leave, the kids wanted to keep working on poetry!  Score! 

The poem they wrote in partners and small groups was assembled into a larger class poem.  You can see it here on Betsy's blog.  It starts..."In Kindergarten, you get to..." and is a compilation of what they can do as kindergarteners.  It's really quite amazing for their first ever written poetry!

As the rest of the day unfolded, I kept thinking about how excited my students were to try this new thing and how the most easily frustrated students in my room were excited and quick to grab a chalk bit and get started.  This isn't always the case for those little ones when it's writing workshop time.  They are the sweeties to drag their feet, need to find a pencil, "accidently" spill the contents of their writing folders, etc., but none of those kids even thought about it.  They grabbed chalk and joined in with the rest of their peers like writing is the easiest thing in the world for them.  It gave me a lot to think about.  I have found an "in" with those little ones!  I have all kinds of poetry ideas beginning to swirl in my head for the future...beginning with a groundhog poem...assuming we can actually go to school on Monday (so many SNOW DAYS around here!). 

It wasn't just the kids that Betsy had thinking, though.  All afternoon, something kept working in the back of my mind.  I kept thinking about how much the kids had enjoyed sharing ideas about what they do in kindergarten, but we hadn't given any thought to what the teacher gets to do in kindergarten, and that is where my own poem began.  Since I'm not as brave as Betsy, I chalked it on my iPad rather than venturing out into the snow with my chalk.

In kindergarten we get to:
watch eyes light up faces
see grins ear to ear
listen to storytellers
watch readers take hold
see writers unfold
listen to happy songs sung
watch scientists bloom
see math minds grow
listen to problems being solved
watch crayons stay inside lines
see hugs between friends
listen to the wonder
Be sure to head on over to Betsy's blog Teaching Young Writers and check out more chalk today!  To read even more about Betsy's chalk-poetry work, check out her other blog ithinkinpoems today too!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Slice of Story

It might not be an actual "slice of life" but it's a slice of my life today.  I decided to take advantage of yet another snow/cold day to pull up the big file today on my computer.  This past summer I took a leap of faith and began to work on a novel.  It started as a simple story idea that I couldn't shake.  I had to get it down on paper.  From there, it just kept going and I really spent a lot of time on it over the summer.  Once school began, my work slowed down but I continued to plug along.  In November, I had to turn in my school-issued laptop (in exchange for a desktop, what??) and then the writing stopped.  I got a new computer for Christmas but I hadn't yet gotten back into the groove of working on the story until today.  As I drank my coffee this morning I decided that today was the day.  I was feeling the tug to get back into it.  I spent the morning re-reading and getting back in touch with my characters, my friends.  I decided to share my favorite scene today.  I know you don't have all the background...in fact, this is an excerpt from chapter 6, but I like this part and I hope you will too.  I'd love feedback!  You all are the first eyes to see this part!  :)

I woke up before my alarm and was immediately filled with excitement about hearing Ben sing in church.  It seemed like a very personal thing, a big step for us, to attend the service together.  I was entering his world of faith and he was welcoming me in with open arms.  It felt nice!

I dressed carefully, managed to gobble down a muffin with my coffee and was ready when he pulled into my driveway.  Zoey was half asleep in the backseat when I climbed in.  Ben gave me a quick hug and we were off.  I began to wonder about our first kiss as we drove along and I felt my cheeks turn pink when he interrupted my thoughts.

“Earth to Jenna?  Did you fall asleep over there?”  Ben teased.

“Oh, I, uh, was just thinking,” I stuttered.

“It must have been good…your cheeks are pink.” He was smiling, enjoying my obvious embarrassment.

I really didn’t know what to say.  “Yes, it was.” 

“Are you going to tell me?”  Ben asked.

“Um, no…not right now,” I told him, with a slight nod toward the backseat. 

“Hmmm…well, on another note, Abby called last night and said she would join us at church today.”

“Great!  I haven’t seen her in a while.  That will be nice!”

Abby pulled into the parking lot right in front of us.  We all walked in together. 

“I have to sit in the front so that I will be close for my big number,” Ben joked as he led us to toward the front pews. 

Ben and I sat side by side with Abby on one side and Zoey on the other.  I could feel the looks of others on the back of my neck.

“I feel like people are starring at us but I don’t really want to look to see,” I whispered to Ben.

“Feels like eyes boring into the back of your head?  I feel them too.  Try to ignore it, it doesn’t matter what they think.”

“These are your people.  I feel bad,” I explained.

“Don’t, it’s not your fault at all.  I brought you here, remember?  Just sit back and enjoy the service.  I hear it’s supposed to be a good topic this week,” Ben smiled at me.  “And, just wait until I put my arm around you…it will be scandalous!” he whispered in my ear.

Just then Abby leaned over in front of me.  “Well, you two are creating quite the scene today, aren’t you?” she said with a mischievous smirk.

“Yes Dad, why don’t you just stand up, do a lip-lock, and get the show over with already?” Zoey giggled.

“Well, now that might be going a little too far, don’t you think?” Ben laughed.  “There’s no need to stand up to do it.”

He leaned over and kissed my temple, for the entire world to see, and it felt great!  I’m sure my cheeks turned a little pink but I really didn’t care.  It felt too good to care.

“Outrageous, Dad!”   Abby teased.  “Simply outrageous.”

The service began and the pastor began to speak. 

“In this often negative world that we live in, it is imperative that we look for the rays of sunshine and positivity that are all around us.  They are there; we will find them if we just look for them.  They are there in the smiles on the sweet baby faces sitting among us today.  They are there in the teenagers holding hands as they walk through the mall, enjoying their first taste of love.  They are there in big ways and small.  Sometimes the positive things are easy to see, they seem to jump out at us waving neon signs for us to notice.  But sometimes, we need to look a little harder because it’s smaller, not as obvious.  Just this morning, I was warmed by a phone call from a parishioner who thanked me for the prayers during her illness.  I see it everywhere.  I see it now on the new faces in the pews.  It’s all around us; in new relationships, in old friends, everywhere.  It is our duty and responsibility to look for positivity, to seek it out and to be determined to share it with others.  Be supportive of others who are embarking on their own new, positive journeys.  Share the message of hope and positivity by sharing your kindness with others every day and raise each other up.  I leave you today with a charge, from:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 Now, if you would, please join me in welcoming our amazing choir to the stage.”

Ben stood, smiled down at me, and walked to the stage.  He surprised me by taking center stage while the others gathered in behind him.  His voice began soft and sweet and the rest of the choir joined in at all the right moments. 

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

It was a beautiful solo and all the while, Ben’s baby blues never left mine.  It was like he was singing only for me and everyone else just disappeared.  

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up... To more than I can be.

As the song was coming to an end, I realized that both girls had put their heads on my shoulders at some point during the song.  I thought my heart would burst from all the good feelings!

Ben came back to the pew to join us again.  “Well?” he said.

“That was amazing!  You have a beautiful voice Ben!  That was incredible!”

“Thank you!  I’m glad you liked it,” he beamed.

“I loved it!  I felt like you were singing just to me, like I was the only one in the room,” I confessed.

“I was singing just for you.  I can’t help it if everyone else heard, but it was all for you.  You raise me up Jenna.”

I couldn’t seem to wipe the goofy grin off my face for the rest of the service, but I didn’t care.  Let people see how happy I am, how happy Ben makes me.  After the service, Zoey decided to spend the day with Abby in her dorm (after they made a quick trip to the mall, of course), so it was just Ben and I who headed to lunch.

“Did you know that this is my favorite restaurant?” Ben asked as we pulled into the parking lot.

“Yes, a little birdie may have told me.”


I just nodded.  I started to reach for the door handle but Ben put his hand on my arm. 

“I’m really glad you came with me today.  It’s awfully fun to share the things I’m passionate about with my best friend,” he said almost shyly.

“I think of you that way too, Ben.  I have to be honest.  I haven’t felt this happy in a very long time.  You make my world a better place,” I said before I lost my nerve.
“Ditto pretty lady.” Ben smiled.

So...let the feedback flow!  What did you think, feel, notice?  Recommendations?
Join the ladies at the Two Writing Teachers blog, our hosts for more slice of life stories.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Manic Monday Link Up FREEBIE

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
I'm linking up with Classroom Freebies today for Manic Monday!
Today I'm sharing my Doubles Facts Game.
My students, as kindergarten kiddos, are just beginning the addition/subtraction mountain.  However, I have a friend who teaches first grade and was looking for math materials for her students.
I came up with this game that would meet the doubles facts needs of both of our students.
To play: spin the spinner, land on a number, record the doubles fact for that number in the correct location.  For example, if you spin 6, you would record 3+3 in the "6" column.  There are also fun spaces on the spinner.  For example, you might lose a turn, spin again or write in a fact of your choice.  Students can play this in two ways: either on their own or with a partner.  Either way you play, the object is to spin and record doubles facts until one column is filled to the top (or you can have students play until the board is filled if you prefer).  Below you will see one of the game boards (the other is 12-20) and both spinners.  As you can see in the top picture, the first doubles fact is included in gray so that students can trace the first one for practice.

In my classroom, I have students play the game with a partner.  Once one player has a column of doubles facts that is filled to the top, the game is over.  The work, however, is not!  At this point, I ask students to either choose a crayon or colored pencil and continue to write in the remaining doubles facts in any empty boxes.  This way, they get to play the game (using a pencil) but I get to ensure that they get lots of practice with facts even if the game ends quickly.  Using a different color allows me to see what happened during the game and what happened after.
My students love this game and I know yours will too!
Click the picture below for the link to download the game and thanks for stopping by my blog!
I'm also linking up with a great new blog that I just found for a Patch-Up Post!
Have a great day!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Miss Maddie

Discover. Play. Build.
I'm joining Ruth Ayres to Celebrate this week at her blog Ruth Ayres Writes.

Today I'm celebrating my daughter Maddie.  She is currently attending her first friend birthday party/play date.

Before I tell you about this, I should back up a little.  Maddie is my third child to go off to school.  They all attend school in the district where I teach, which is by choice.  Both of my older children had the same kindergarten teacher, which we happen to love and who happens to be one of my best friends.  However, as this school year approached, we were faced with a dilemma at school.  We needed to reduce our 5 sections of kindergarten to 4.  My friend took the opportunity to save the rest of us who didn't want to leave kindergarten to loop with her class and move to first grade with them. 

Talk about a bittersweet deal.  It made the reduction to 4 classrooms much less messy than it could have been, however it meant that my third child would not have her as a kindergarten teacher.  Keep in mind that Maddie has severe food allergies.  I was already nervous about her starting school and now the teacher of choice for us is out of the question.  Anxiety.

So, after much careful consideration, we decided that Maddie would be in my kindergarten classroom.  Deep breath.  Yes, I was going to be her teacher.  I had reservations about it but was also relieved to know that I would be able to supervise her first year of school with food allergies. 

It's really been a lot of fun to watch her grow and develop literally right in front of my eyes.  I've been able to watch her make new friends, grow from a quiet little thing to someone who speaks up for herself and isn't afraid to tell the "big bully guy" to back off (proud mommy moment!) and everything else that happens in kindergarten.

She has truly blossomed this year.  She has become great friends with another child (who also happens to have similar food allergies, very cool that they found each other) in our class.  J is about as sweet as they come and her parents are really great too.   She is having a birthday party today and she invited Maddie to come.  Maddie was so excited!  I am pretty sure she spent the last 5 days or so bouncing around and telling everyone about how excited she was to go. 

My husband took her to J's house this afternoon for the party in the 4-wheel drive because the weather is pretty nasty.  We were not about to disappoint her by not taking her but now we are dreading the trip to pick her up! 

Anyway, I am celebrating the fact that my quiet little lady is enjoying herself at her bestie's birthday party.  I love that she has a great friend, that I trust her parents who are very aware of how serious food allergies are, and that more and more every day, she is becoming a beautiful, independent little lady.  I'm so proud of her and so happy for this new birthday party/play date adventure for her.  I can't wait until she gets home so I can hear all about the fun time she had.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Join the ladies from Two Writing Teachers for a Tuesday Slice of Life!  Come on over, read, write, join in and enjoy a slice or two.

She calls my name
laughing, taunting

She calls to me
wanting, waiting

She quietly demands
blinking, shining

She stares at me
blank, unwavering

She feels it
clicking, tapping

She smiles at me
my computer, my friend.

I had no idea what I was going to write today.  Today was the kind of day at school that made me wish I could become a Wal-mart greeter.  It was the kind of day that made me sigh, made me remind myself that  I could start over again tomorrow, yet almost makes me dread tomorrow a smidge.  It's crazy town...a two week winter break turned into three weeks, all learning fell out of 90% of student brains, behavior is in an out-of-routine deadly spiral, AND it's almost report card time.  Yes, that means I'm trying to get assessments done during all the chaos.  I know I'm not alone.  I'm not the only teacher who has ever experienced this mess.  I know tomorrow will be better because I will make sure of it.  I know I will get all the assessments and report cards completed, and probably on time too, because I always do, even when I think I won't.

So, when I sat down with an empty, fried head and stared at my computer screen, my friend began to look intimidating and cold.  That bright expectant wide-eyed look was beginning to turn into a scowling glare.  I decided that today would not win.  I would not end the day without a slice just because it was a less than stellar kind of day. 

So I wrote about my computer!  I actually like the poem that fell out of my fingers today.  I guess when my head is empty I can count on my fingers to pull through for me.

Here's to tomorrow's light bringing a better day!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Slice of Motivation

Join the ladies at Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life fun today! 

I had a staff meeting before school today.  I don't really mind meeting mornings.  It's the one day of the month that I get to leave the house by myself, listen to whatever I want during my drive, and I get a few minutes of alone time.  My husband takes the kids to school and does the daycare drop-off on staff meeting days.  It's nice!

Today we were asked to bring something of sentimental value to our meeting.  This is an unusual request from our principal so my interest was heightened!  I was very curious about what was about to take place.

It was a really nice meeting.  He started by sharing an analogy between our Michigan State Spartans getting to the Rose Bowl and our classrooms and school.  The coach of the Spartans had an end goal in mind and made sure to plan and prepare and work hard toward that goal each and every day.  But in the end, it is more about the people than the win.  The same is true for our school.  Test scores are important, sure, but it's really all about the kids we touch each and every day.  It's about the families in our district.  It's about us, the staff, as people who lead lives outside of school each day as well.

After getting a few business items out of the way, we were asked to move our chairs into a large circle.  We each took a turn showing and talking about the sentimental item we brought.  There were many interesting things we learned about each other.  I learned that one co-worker used to paint rocks with her grandma and brought a special one to share.  I saw pictures of weddings, children and families.  I heard stories of a special hat, a letter from a mother to her children and a letter from a child to her parents, charm bracelets, hospital/birth mementos, special books, and much more. 

I shared a robin bird pendent that my dad bought for me on the day I was born.  When he went to pick out an outfit to bring me home from the hospital in, he also found the necklace.  (He also was the one who chose my name, so I think it's pretty neat that he happened to find a robin necklace...I mean, they aren't exactly common.)

It was a nice time together as a staff.  I learned some new things about my colleagues and shared a little too.  It was something new and outside of our usual box.  It was a staff meeting that left me feeling motivated, ready to take on the day, and ready to meet my students with a smile. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Attitude Adjustment

Join the Two Writing Teachers ladies for more slice of life stories today!
This morning, as I was lucky enough to be still snuggled in my warm bed, my husband sent me a text.  He had just arrived at work and told me that we had been vandalized by the snow plow yet again this morning!

Last Thursday, our mailbox post was completely snapped in half by the snow plow.  We were irritated, of course.  I called the city and they assured me they would send someone out to look at it and get back to me.  As of this morning, I still hadn't heard from them.  In the mean time, my husband had managed to prop what was left of our post and mailbox in the snow bank so that at least we could still receive our mail.

This morning, it was knocked down again!  This time, the box was completely ripped off what was left of the post!  So, again, he propped the box in the snow bank with the hopes that we will still receive our mail.  (In our town, the post office closes at 5...we are rarely home from work before they close and neither of us work in our town to be able to pick up the mail before they close.  See the issue here?)

So, I called the city AGAIN!  The woman I talked to this morning informed me that if the snow plow had actually hit our box, they would help us.  If the snow (from the plow, mind you) had pushed it down, we were responsible.  She also let me know that my homeowners insurance should cover it.  Does she understand we have a deductible?  Hmmm...

I asked her if she had any suggestions for fixing my mailbox.  It's fairly obvious that with the 15" of snow we just got and the -30 degree temps we are having that I will not be able to dig a hole for a new post until...oh, maybe July?  She suggested I let the post office know.  (Sure, but since their phone number only rings busy all day long every single day, that's a little difficult.)  Her best thought was to get a 5 gallon pail, fill it with sand, and stand the mailbox up (which I'll remind you is not in three pieces) up in it...after we clear the ridiculous amount of snow around the mailbox enough to do that, of course.  "Just be sure to let the post office know that it's the best solution you have until the spring thaw," she said.

She said she would have someone come out and check it soon to be sure it was the force of the snow and not the plow. 

My response?

"Be sure to save yourself a little time and have them check the other 6 mailboxes that were also knocked down on my street at the same time."

I'm not usually one to rant publicly.  I understand that the people plowing my city streets have been working very hard and I really appreciate all that they have done and how quickly they have done it.  However, I have lived in my house for over ten years and this has never happened, much less to this magnitude.  Six at the same time in a one-mile stretch?  I find it a little hard to believe.  I guess that's why I'm a little bitter.

And then came the attitude adjustment that I needed.

Not even a half hour after all this drama...I received word that a friend and co-worker's (whose young daughter is currently battling cancer) home had a fire.  They have extensive damage to their home, maybe a total loss, but they are all safe and unhurt.  I can't even begin to comprehend what they are going through right now on top of everything else they are already struggling with in their lives. 

I'm pretty happy to have issues with my mailbox today.  If I could trade my mailbox getting hit every day for the rest of the year in exchange for fixing their home or their daughter, I would do it in a heartbeat.

I'll happily stand my mailbox in a 5 gallon pail until spring and be very thankful I have the home that goes with the mailbox.  I'll happily stand my mailbox in a pail and be very thankful that my four children are healthy, happy and warm in our home.

So...if you've read along this far, please say a prayer for my friend and her family.  They need all the prayers and support that they can get.  Thanks :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunshine Award

I was surprised and honored this morning to receive a nomination for the Sunshine Award from Linda Baie from TeacherDance.  Linda is someone I have only met once in my life but I count her as a friend.  She's a faithful reader/commenter on my blog and always has an uplifting word to share.  I also enjoy reading her blog very much and rarely miss reading a post!  Thanks Linda for nominating me today!
I was also nominated by my real-life friend and fellow blogger Betsy from Two Writing Teachers, ithinkinpoems and Teaching Young Writers.  She is an amazing friend who has always encouraged me to grow and stretch my wings.  In fact, she's the one who encouraged me to start a blog in the first place!  Thank you Betsy for the nomination!

Here's a little info on the Sunshine Award:
This is a way for bloggers to get to know each other and one of the cool things about it is that there are limitless "winners"! The Sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger and then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know! Here are the "official" rules:
  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
Ok, so...on to the questions!
From Linda... 
1.  If you could eat any dessert, what would it be?
This one is easy...cheesecake!  I love it even more with some sort of chocolate in it/on it/with it!
2.  Are you an avid reader?  What is the influence that led you to be one?
I love to read but with a full time job as a teacher, wife, and mom to four, I don't read as much as I would like to.  I recently read the Divergent series and LOVED THEM ALL!  I also just read The Book Theif and loved it.  I'm currently reading Looking for Alaska by John Green...I'm not far enough in to know what I think yet.  I received the new Mitch Albom book for Christmas so that's the next one on my list.  As a child, my mom was probably the biggest reading influence on me.  She was always reading something and I was always in awe of how quickly she could read a stack of books from the library.  We went weekly or at least every other week, sometimes more often during the summer.

3.  What is your favorite season?  Why?
My favorite season...is all of them!  I live in Michigan where I honestly think we get the best of every season.  I love the fall with it's crisp, clean air and the beautiful colors all around.  I love the winter with it's beautiful white snow...there is really nothing prettier than seeing the snow-covered trees.  I also love spring with the feeling of renewal and freshness that is all around, seeing flowers bloom and green buds on the trees.  I also love summer!  I enjoy a blue sky full of sunshine, but I prefer the warm, dry days to the muggy, hot days.
4.  Tell about a mentor in your teaching, or in your job?
I have been fortunate to work with Geri Williams, a literacy coach and lover of writing and words.  She taught me about teaching writing, living as a writer and believing in myself.  She is the reason I have the courage to have a blog and the reason I am confident in my teaching ideas, even in the face of adversity. 

5.  What is a favorite book from childhood?  Why do you believe it's a favorite?
I think my most favorite is The Night Before Christmas.  I have the Little Golden Book version that was my mom's when she was a young child.  I read it now to my own kids every year.  It's a Christmas Eve tradition...along with The Bible Story Little Golden Book (a new Little Golden Book we bought for our kids) and Rudolph (which was my own Little Golden Book).  I also have to say that my Goldilocks and the Three Bears book is another childhood favorite.  It's the first book I ever remember reading on my own.  My mom said that I used to ask her to read it over and over until finally, at about age 4, I began to read it to her.  I still have that book too but my kids have never really taken to that one.  :)

6.  Where would you most like to be found on a Sunday afternoon?  What are you doing?
On a Sunday afternoon, I can usually be found putting away the groceries I just bought or at my kitchen table planning for the following week at school (and helping with homework or the laundry).

And from Betsy...

7. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in mid-Michigan but also in northern Michigan where we had a cottage on a little lake in the woods.  Both places hold good memories!

8. Who was the most influential teacher in your life?
My most influential teacher was my orchestra teacher.  I had the same teacher for orchestra from fourth grade thru twelfth so we knew each other well!  He set his expectations high and demanded that we put the time into practicing but he also encouraged us to be our best every day and work hard to reach our goals.  He taught me how to manage a classroom...our orchestra was anywhere from 12 kids in elementary school to 50+ in high school and he managed both with a quiet, relaxed manner.   

9. What is the best thing you've ever written? What was it about?
It's funny to say that they best thing I've every written isn't finished yet, but it's true!  I'm working on a novel (I still can't believe that one!) that is about a wife who passes away but leaves behind a year's worth of letters to her best friend and her husband.  Through these letters, the two become close and are able to move on with their lives together. 

10.What do you want to be when you "grow up?"
I have no idea!  I would love to be more of a writer.  I would love to still be teaching.  I am interested in teaching teachers in some way...I've loved having student teachers, so maybe something along this route?  I am interested in literacy...maybe a coaching position some day?  Who knows...time will tell, I guess.

11. When was the last time you wrote someone a letter?
Before Christmas I wrote my children's babysitter a letter to try to tell her just how much we appreciate her and the WONDERFUL care our children get every day because of her.  She's been such a blessing to our family in so many ways.  I guess you could also count the Christmas letter I wrote at the end of December.  I write one each year...it goes out to our families each year in the Christmas cards (or via Facebook this year because I was a little too slow with the writing!).

12. Did you ever learn to play an instrument?
Remember #8?  I know how to play the violin.  I also dabbled in the piano and the viola a little bit.  I started out taking piano lessons in early elementary but never really made it past learning how to play the right hand.  In high school, I taught elementary and middle school kids violin lessons.  My orchestra teacher would arrange a handful of students who wanted private lessons each year and I would happily meet with them after school each week.  One year, there was a viola player who wanted to take lessons and there was no one to teach her.  So, he approached me about it.  I was very hesitant - I'd never played viola before!  He gave me an early music book and a loaner instrument and said, "Here, practice a little bit...you start giving lessons in three weeks."  And so, I began to dabble in the viola!  But, my one true love is my violin...even though I rarely play it anymore.
Now on to my questions!
1.  What quality do you value most in a good teacher?
2.  What is your favorite song and why?
3.  Do you have any classroom traditions?  Things you do every year with your students without fail?
4.  What are you most proud of in your career?
5.  What is your favorite color and what do you think it says about you?
6.  What is your best snow day story OR what do you like to do on a snow day?
7.  My OLW for 2014 is light.  Tell about something that brings light into your life?
8.  You sit down at your computer.  What is the first thing you are likely to do?  (Turning it on does not count!)
9.  As a teacher, what part of the school year do you enjoy most?
10. What is your favorite quote?
11.  What are your top three favorite movies and why?
Ok, I realize I am supposed to nominate 11 people for the Sunshine Award.  However, many of the people I would nominate have already been nominated!  So, I'm going with 5 and one has already answered but maybe will reply to my questions anyway?  :)
I nominate...
Ruth Ayres from Ruth Ayres Writes because she's been a tremendous influence on my teaching and writing.
Betsy at Teaching Young Writers because I want to see her answers to my questions...I'm nominating you again!
Elsie at Elsie Tries Writing because she is a faithful reader and commenter on my Slice of Life posts.
And because I faithfully stalk their blogs, whether they know it or not...
Maria at Kinder-Craze
Two of these great kindergarten bloggers and teachers are fellow Michiganders!  I have learned so much from reading your blogs and using your creations from TpT in my classroom.  I just had to nominate you three as well.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Celebrate This Week - January 4

Discover. Play. Build.
Wow!  Four blog posts this week?  There is a celebration in itself!
Today I'm linking up with Ruth Ayres to Celebrate this week!  Check out more celebrations big and small on her blog today.  My first celebration should be that I finally was able to spend some time on Saturday linking up to Ruth's wonderful celebration but instead, I'll share my top five celebrations from the last week of winter vacation!
 My first celebration this week? Easy...I went shopping this morning.  I usually go on Sunday and get groceries for the week.  Why am I celebrating this?  Well, several reasons really.  First, I beat the rush of people who are in a panic about the snow we are supposed to get hammered with starting this evening (maybe up to 14" they say).  Second, I saved $50 using mperks...the digital coupons from Meijer...and BOGO sales they were having on items I was going to buy anyway...and the $10 off coupon I earned buying diapers...and the 5% off groceries promotion they were running today!  See why I'm celebrating this now?  :)

I have had two weeks of vacation.  I love my job but I needed a break and this one was a nice, relaxed, mostly refreshing one.  'Nuff said.

I was able to create a HUGE Winter Math Pack this week.  I created with my students in mind and to post on my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  It's my biggest and (I think) best creation yet.  I was feeling creative but couldn't get going with any of my writing projects.  So, I sat down and began to play with clip art and math concepts that my students need now or need soon.  I'm pretty proud of it!

Did I mention the snowstorm we are supposed to get?  I'm not gonna lie...I wouldn't mind an extra day or two off.  Extend my vacation?  Sure!  It's already going to be a weird first week back because we have parent presents (that were supposed to be for Christmas) that we need to wrap, oh and we have to make that wrapping paper first!  I also owe my kiddos a Polar Express/hot cocoa/popcorn afternoon because our last day before break was a snow day.  It's not that I really WANT 14" of snow...a few would be fine, but 14" is really just over the top...and I certainly don't want the frigid air that we are supposed to get after the snow, but if it means a little bit longer at home?  I'll make an exception!

And finally, because we had that snow day before break, I was able to plan my math and literacy lessons through the month of January and into February!  I'm feeling like I'm going to back to school with a head start!  And even better than that?  I was able to work ahead a little bit and I have the laminating and cutting out of materials done for at least the next three weeks of school too!  That never happens and certainly should be celebrated!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Poetry Friday - Generating Light

Whew!  Three posts in one week!  Hang on to your hat!

Anyway, it's Poetry Friday and my fabulous friend Betsy at ithinkinpoems is hosting!  She takes us on a beautiful journey through the Michigan's splendor.  Be sure to check it out!  She also shares a picture taken by friend that is just magnificent!

For my contribution this week, I write about my OLW - Light!  About a week ago, I saw a friend's post on Facebook that was asking for some inspiration to get the writing juices flowing.  Many people responded with thoughts and ideas, but one really hit home for me in many ways.  As I read the phrase "generating light" I fell in love.  I went on about my day, days really, but I couldn't shake that phrase from my mind.  It ended up igniting both my One Little Word for 2014 and a poem.

As I sat down to cut out an enormous pile of laminating, the words kept bouncing around in my head.  I was sitting next to the computer so I opened a document and began to type the bits and pieces that came to mind as I cut.  By the time my pile was finished, so was my poem!  I love multitasking and it turned out to be a nice sampling of things that bring light into my life.

Generating Light

A smiling babyface opening Christmas presents.
Generating Light

A child’s laugh erupting from the belly.
Generating Light

A sparkle of stars in the midnight sky.
Generating Light

A leg-hug from a two-year-old.
Generating Light

A hot cup of coffee on a cold morning.
Generating Light

A long snuggle by a crackling fire.
Generating Light

A neck squeeze by child-sized arms.
Generating Light

A sunshine walk in the woods.
Generating Light

A comfortable conversation with a friend.
Generating Light

A tasty meal with easy fellowship.
Generating Light

A pudgy hand holding on tight.
Generating Light

An uplifting melody stuck between the ears.
Generating Light

A faithful memory that holds the heart.
Generating Light

A collection of treasured pleasures throughout the day.
Generating Light

A feeding of the soul.
Generating Light