Friday, December 31, 2010

2010...A Banner Year

Or was it, "the year of the banner?"

My love affair of all things Vista Print is no secret. As I've mentioned before, my motto is, "If it's free it's for me!"

I have such fun designing new things and just about pounce on the mailman when my boxes of goodies arrive. I heart the postcards and shirts and magnets and posters and yard sale signs and key chains and lions and tigers and bears oh my!

But, my mostest favoritest of all the items is the banner.

Oh, the banners! Oh, the possibilities!

Thanks to the free banners, I got to be that over-the-top mother who has banners printed for her kids' birthdays. Because seriously, who does that?
People who get free banners that's who!

Thanks to the free banners, I have recently implemented the all-time-numero-uno-super-bestest thing ever to grace my classroom. Well, next to Find it/Fix it. It's "the clip chart" and you'll have to come back tomorrow (or maybe the next day) to read about that.

And thanks to the free banners, I have made bulletin board creation super quick and simple and yet oh-so-colorful and wonderful and kind of even professional-looking.

A commenter (That's you, Amy) had asked about sign in the center of my board. And I realized that I had never posted about my new addiction to banners as bulletin board time saver accessories. So here goes.
Vista Print is always offering amazing deals that allow you to get a whole heaping helping of freebies for super cheap. Yeah, I know the free and cheap part can be confusing. See, you pay for shipping. Or not. Sometimes, you can can spend $30.00 and get free shipping and up to 10 free items. Those are my favorite promos.


While you can get up to 10 free items, you can only get 1 of each type of item (i.e. post-its, postcards, magnets).


Vista Print views banners that are designed vertical and banners that are designed to print horizontal as two different types of items so you may get one of each.

You can use their easy templates and create major cuteness. Or, you can design and upload your own image. If you do that simply rotate the image 90 degrees and print it as a vertical banner. That way you get 2 horizontal banners in one order.

They fit perfectly in the center of a typical bulletin board with plenty of room to display student work around it.

You could also design just titles for boards and print several onto one banner and cut them apart.

The options are endless and there are lots of creative folks who have uploaded images of what they have made for you to find for inspiration.

As an added bonus, teachers often pop in to comment on the banners. It's nice to have adult contact. :)

FYI: At the time of posting this, the following links were working and offer great deals.
Giving Away the Farm (free shipping with $30.00 purchase)
and this is my personal favorite because it offers FREE 7 DAY SHIPPING with a $30.00 purchase...and uploads count towards the $30.00)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Intentionally Disheveled

Since I noticed the lovely portrait of me looking all disheveled with my shiny new iPad was appearing in the "people I follow" section of some of your wonderful blogs, I was inspired to put up a new post quickly.

And I figured I would find inspiration in being disheveled to share with you my favorite way to do a bulletin board.

All disheveled-ish.

There was once a time that I made myself crazy trying to create symmetrical, straight boards. I used rulers. I used yard sticks. I even had a little level to aid in my attempts at perfection.

It never worked.

Something would always be off center or at an angle that was a few degrees from where I had wanted it to be.

And it made me crazy to look at it.

I would cringe each time I walked by.

Then I adopted the "just go with it" philosophy and started slanting my letters left and right. I put up the kids' work with a zig and a zag.

And in its own messy way it was perfect.

My new favorite thing to do is to add creative interest by stapling the corners of the papers and adding a little wiggly-wave in the middle.

Isn't it fun?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beat the Clock

The first few days of this vacation were lovely in the laziest of ways.

I wore the same pajamas for 48 consecutive hours without shame.

I sat on the floor and played with the littles without ever feeling like there was something else I needed to be doing.

And when they slept I played with my own new toys.

Excuse the bedhead...I would love to wake up with Super Model hair, but there isn't an app for that ;)

Our holiday food traditions include shepard pie on Christmas Eve, egg casserole on Christmas morning and roasted pork and veggies for dinner. This leaves us with tons of reheatable leftovers making the need to cook for several days obsolete.

Lazy! Lazy! Lazy!

And then the leftovers ran out and my pajamas threatened to start walking on their own and I had to give up the lovely lazy ways and that's when the real holiday chaos started.

I mentioned that the tree came down on 12/26 and that the holidays always leave me feeling the need to declutter and reorganize.

And oh, how I've done just that.

I'm playing beat the clock.

As in...beat the trash truck on Thursday.

As in...beat the tax benefit deadline of 12/31 by donating 6 large boxes and counting.

As in...beat the arrival of my mom and dad on Friday so that my uber-organized and clutter-hating mother doesn't need to feel that she has failed me as a parent when she sees the content of every cupboard and closet sprawled about.

It turns out, Santa could have easily skipped landing on our roof because my son is thrilled to be entertaining himself with whatever I am finding in the nooks and crannies of our home.

And on that note, I probably should log off and continue to face the mess I've been making while "cleaning." I do this a few times a year and am truly baffled by the fact that there is more stuff to donate, trash or recycle.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Extreme Makeover...Classroom Edition

Maybe it's the New Year a coming and the desire for a fresh start that it brings.

Perhaps it's the fact that you can only log in so many hours in a jungle themed classroom surrounded by animal prints before you start feeling like you are the lost cast member from Jersey Shore.

I got it in my head that I needed to makeover my classroom.

This isn't a new concept for me. In fact, I typically start from scratch with a new theme for each school year. I have not, however, made over my room midyear.

Oh the excitement.

Surely you have scooted to the edge of your seat in eager anticipation for the unveiling of my new theme. If not, I'll give you a second to get your scoot on. :)

Actually, it's not a theme.

Unless being a crafty Goddess of all things paper and rocking a Cricut is a theme.
I'll explain.

I used to scrapbook. Hubby even let me have an entire room in the house dedicated to my lovely hobby. It rivaled any scrapbooking store with the hundreds of papers and die cuts and funky scissors and stickers. I would spend hours designing layouts and even more hours shopping for supplies.

And then I stopped. knows? I just got busy and stopped making the time.

But, I missed chronicling our family history. So I recently designed a digital album using Photoshop and had it printed through Shutterfly.


That baby is beautiful. It includes hundreds of photos all bound neatly into a hardcover, 12 x 12 album. While I did spend an absurd number of hours working on it, I was able to do so just about anywhere my little MacBook would go. I worked on it in the car, during my lunch, and even in the waiting room of the doctor office. I'm hooked.

There were two problems though. I missed the creative outlet of getting all messy with glue and I have an entire studio stocked with supplies.

And so I've decided to create a bunch of projects for the classroom and thus the idea of a makeover was born. There is no real theme. I'm simply going with bright colors (mostly aqua and lime) accented with black.

I'm looking forward to dusting off the Cricut and having some fun this vacation being creative.

As you can see in the photos, I got a head start on the day before vacation.

I had hoped to get in there this week and do a little work, but a pesky blizzard kept me home yesterday and prevented my free, I mean my parents, from visiting until next weekend.

So into the little basement studio I go with my 5 year old assistant to spend the twins' nap time cutting, adhering, and embellishing some to be determined projects. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 27, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

The OTHER 11 months of the year.

You know the "normal" months.

The months where you don't have access to an abundance of baked goods in the kitchen 24/7.

The months where there isn't a large tree in your living room.

The months where scented candles don't waft evergreen aromas throughout the downstairs.

The months where there are not boxes wrapped in mismatched festive paper cluttering the home.

That's right. I called it clutter.
Because as much as I like to hop on the holiday bandwagon early each year, I am also the first stop to get off.

The tree came down on December 26th. It's not as Grinchy as it sounds. It had been up since the week BEFORE Thanksgiving and it encompassed 50% of our cozy (read: small) living room.

Oh, it's not that the tree that is the problem. It's the fact that 2/3 of the wee ones who take residence here did their best to "undecorate" it daily and eat the needles and ornament hooks which resulted in us needing to fence our tree in with an expandable baby corral. It almost looked as if our tree was a pristine display that we wanted to showcase by the way it was confined to a "no humans allowed" cage.

I am really very festive.

I baked weekly.

I made reindeer food.

I hosted a gingerbread party for 12 kindergarteners.

I crafted.

I wrapped.

I sang Dominic the Donkey in the off key way that only my tone deaf self can do for the better part of December.

We attended gatherings and tree lightings and Polar Express rides and laser light shows set to holiday ditties.

But, come 12/26 I pull the plug.

I pull the plug on the lights and the music and the oven.

I package it all into it's red and green rubbermaid totes and stuff it into the back corner of the basement until next November when I'm feeling "merry" again.

Am I crazy? Does anyone else view the holiday hoopla as festive through 12/25 @ midnight and then view it as clutter and chaos and overload after that?

You know me. I love to organize any day of the year, but there is something about ringing in a New Year that makes me want to purge and clean like no other time.

I hope your holidays were filled with fabulous memories and like our Christmas card said..

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Be Prepared

Some of you are already 2 days into your winter break.

Color me jealous.

Are you wondering when my break starts?

I'll tell you.

It begins on Thursday.

Thursday, December 23rd.

Yeah, the December 23rd that precedes Christmas Eve.

At 3:10 p.m.

I know, right?

Oddly enough, I've managed to keep the chaos to a minimum and have banked two productive days. The key to keeping the sugar plums dancing in their heads at bay is to keep the structure and routines going.

We're hanging in there. I'm actually really impressed with how typical our days feel. I feel like a Grinch for making them draft open responses and solve 3-digit equations while the elves are putting the finishing touches on their loot up at the North Pole, but we can't spare to lose any time.

Even though many of you are chillin' in your jammies and sipping coffee while I'm still in the thick of things, there are others counting down to that last day before break too.

That day is typically a whirlwind of baked goods and gift-wrapped trinkets. Ultimately, someone unexpectedly gives you a gift. You didn't anticipate it and so you have nothing to give back.


Here's my holiday tip for handling such situations. Purchase a few gift cards to Starbucks or Dunkins or whatever local coffee shop allows you to get your caffeine on. Write out a nice, but generic holiday card and slip the gift card inside. If you are presented with an unexpected gift you can reciprocate by quickly sharing the love. If you don't need to distribute them...well, then that is just more coffee for you to enjoy in your pjs next week.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I had a professor in college who ended every class by saying, "The teacher's greatest obstacle is the clock."

I thought he was nuts.

Now I would like to go back in time and give him a high-five.

Or an "Amen Brother!"

Because it. is. so. true!

It really is hard to fit everything in. I do love having the students illustrate their writing, but sometimes you just can't justify 30 minutes of coloring.

One solution I have found is to add a photo to their work. This is especially useful if they are writing about a school event (field trip, science experiment, math game, etc).

In the photo featured in this post, I took it a step further and used the extra photos as part of my bulletin board title. This can easily be done with straight letters (E, F, H, I, L, T) and with some creativity you could really do any letter. The 3rd through 5th graders at my school get to ride Trikkes in PE. It was a VERY exciting event for them and one that they were really motivated to write about.

I noticed a few other teachers at my school have been using actual photos on their hallway boards this year and I love that! It's so nice to have a little window into their classrooms. As a parent I would be thrilled to have a collection of my child's writing with photos. What a keepsake!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Bad Case of the Stripes (cute book, cuter bulletin board)

Do not adjust your monitor.

And don't judge my picture-taking abilities.

This photo is intentionally blurry as a result of my mad photoshop skills. I'm crafty like that. I'm just not comfortable putting my little friends' faces online, but I think you can still get the idea.

I loved this bulletin board. It was fun and colorful and easy and included a sample of their work. What's not to love.

A Bad Case of the Stripes is a great book. It lends itself to so many discussions and writing activities. I did this the first week of school and since I wasn't yet too familiar with my students' abilities, I kept it simple.

I gave them the prompt of: "Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but I love..."

We used the opportunity to remind them of their second grade skills (webbing, supporting details, etc). Their direction was to select a favorite food and compose a paragraph that stays on topic.

I had taken close-up head shots of each student for an in-class display. I simply photocopied those on an enlarged setting and cut them out. The students used water colors to paint on their stripes and we glued them to the bottom of their writing sample.

I wanted to display the book with it, but hadn't had the time to scan and print the cover.

Remember, this was the first week of school. There is barely time to breathe that week.

I solved my problem by stapling a large ziploc bag to the board and slid the book inside.

I'm SO doing that again with other books.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Plimoth Rocks

I'm tone deaf.

Dogs located several blocks away howl when I sing.

It's such a waste too because I know the lyrics to basically every song ever written.

Simon Cowell would have a field day with me.

And so I live vicariously through my students. Some can sing really well. Others are like me. But, when you are 8 it really doesn't matter because as long as you look cute in a costume on stage Gramma is happy.

I've done many performances over the years. It's stressful. It's time consuming. But, oh my gosh is it rewarding.

I'm so not a sappy individual, but seeing a student on stage beaming with pride and having a blast brings a tear to my eye. To provide a child who struggles academically with an opportunity to shine in front of their family and peers is priceless.

We're all overwhelmed with curriculum and pressure and tests. It can be challenging to justify fitting "something extra" into your already over-scheduled day, but I highly encourage you to find a way to give your kiddos the opportunity to perform.

Over the years I've done elaborate productions. There have been full sets constructed and 1st graders memorizing detailed monologes. Our most recent production was not the case. It was a super simple (though not without stress...there is always stress), highly educational performance. The outcome was the same: proud parents and kids oozing with confidence and a sense of accomplishment.

Last week my kids took part in a performance that I titled, "Plimoth Rocks." It was at the opposite end of the elaborate spectrum. In fact it couldn't have been more simple. The entire 3rd grade stayed on stage throughout (on chorus risers). Everyone had a small narrative. They could read it from a card or memorize it. My partner teacher sat in front of the stage and whispered the names of the kids who needed to come up to the mic when it was their turn. I played DJ.

There was some basic basic in fact that we introduced it the day before of the performance. We collected $3.00 from each child and bought them either a black or a tan tshirt at the craft store and they wore either black or khaki pants. We paired this with macaroni necklaces or paper collars. I hot glued (because not only can I not sing, but I also can't sew) a rectangle of white fabric on the girls' shirts to make "aprons" and cut fringe on the tan tshirts. They looked adorable.

We showed a slide show of pictures from our field trip. iMovie makes it very easy to throw something impressive together in no time. Add some fun music and you've got a show.

I should add that although I played elf #4 in my own 5th grade class play, I have no drama experience. If I can do it then you can do it.

The key for me is that I write my own scripts. It is time-consuming, but doing so allows me to create custom parts for individual children. I play to their personalities and talents. I also like to add fun music.

Because if there is anything Gramma likes more than seeing her little lovey in a cute costume it is seeing that little lovey in a cute costume rocking it out and shaking his groove thing on stage.

When I did a fractured fairy tale production we used Brick House (3 Little Pigs), for Charlotte's Web we used HoeDown Throwdown and for Plimoth Rocks we used classic hits from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s (Sail Away/Mayflower, Here Comes the Sun/surviving the winter, Lean on Me/Squanto's role in helping the Pilgrims).

Because of time constraints, you do need to tie it in academically. In this case, I included every detail they were required to know into the script. By reading the script over and over and rehearsing together, the children learned all the facts from the unit.

So give it whirl. Have fun with it. Break a leg.


Not literally.

It's how us drama folks speak. ;P

Monday, November 29, 2010

When Organization Backfires

I recently received an email (waving to Sue in TX) that read, "I may have to stop reading your blog. While I am in awe and inspired, I also feel like an organizational failure. I bow to you. You really have it together."

There was more, but I couldn't read it because at that point I spewed an entire mouthful of coffee onto the screen of my MacBook, held my belly and laughed at the irony.

So for Sue in Texas and for anyone else who may have read my blog and mistaking thought, "wow, she's got it all together" I present to you two episodes from this weekend alone.

Exhibit A:

It was super early in the morning. We call my son the "Rooster" because he is up before sunrise each day and then wakes up the entire farm. Since we were up and I knew the grocery stores would be crazy with Turkey Day shoppers later, I did the organized, well-planned thing and decided to go shopping.

I attempted this without caffeine.

I even took one of the Twinkies with us.

We stopped at Dunkins for a muffin for the Boy and hit the dreaded grocery store just as they were unlocking the doors.

We went up and down each aisle and filled the cart higher and higher. At some point between aisle 4 and 6 the Boy gave the Girl a taste of his coffee cake muffin. She went crazy for it. And by crazy, I mean the sweet face you see in the photo above turned into a shrieking mess who NEEDED more muffin NOW!

So aisles 6 through the produce section were a blur of throwing things in the cart while girlfriend shrieked and twisted and attempted to free herself from the confines of it's belt while Big Brother beg, pleaded and whined his demands for various cookies, crackers, and other sweet treats that were at his eye level and marketed in packaging designed to allure 5 year olds. We were more entertaining that any float in the Macy's Day Parade. We were a sight to behold.

And much like marathoners who have the finish line in view, I rallied when I saw the check out lines. I tossed the contents of our heaping cart onto the belt. I gave the people behind me the look that reads, "Don't judge me, pity me because karma will get you." And that's when I realized my wallet was not in my pocket. Nor was my debit card. Nor was my credit card. Nor was any wampum or trading cards or anything else that I could barter with.

I thought it was in the car. After all, I had purchased a muffin at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru en route to Hell, um I mean the grocery store. I told the cashier I would be right back. I gave one last "don't judge me glance" to the heavy-sighing Bachelor behind me. I took the kids and jetted to the parking lot only to find some loose change that I had received at the drive-thru on the passenger seat.

Because I had found 2 dollars in the center console of the car and had paid cash there. Of course I forgot that part until I saw the change.

One quick call to my hubby alerted me to the fact that the wallet was on the table.

Where I had left it.

After I had taken it out of my pocket to make sure that my credit and/or debit card were in it before leaving that morning.

You know, because I am organized and well-planned like that.

Exhibit B:

We spent Thanksgiving at my sister's. She makes Martha Stewart look like a slacker-hostess.


She bakes the bread from scratch to make the stuffing.

Me...I open a box of Stove Top and call it a holiday. But, I digress.

We had decided to stay the night at her house and since she was putting out an elaborate feast for us on Thursday, I figured the least we could do was supply breakfast on Friday.

I bought fruit and hubby planned to make crepes. So as to be well-planned and organized, he cracked 20 eggs, mixed them with milk and vanilla and funneled it into a gallon milk container for easy transport and easy cooking in the morning.

We went to NH for Thanksgiving.

The raw egg and milk mixture spent Thanksgiving back in our fridge in Massachusetts.


Until a baby woke in the week hours and said mixture was poured into a bottle.

And 4 ounces of it were consumed before the mistake was noticed.

According to our pediatrician most US eggs are free from salmonella. That's a good thing.

She's now on 72 hour "symptom watch" though.

You know it's going to be a rough week when Hubby starts the morning by writing a note to the nanny and asks, "How do you spell diarrhea?"

And so my friends...I am organized. I am well-planned. But, by no means do I have it all together.

Happy Monday! Hope you all enjoyed the extra long holiday weekend.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shades of Grey

I've created a new daily blog specifically dedicated to classroom organization and management. Please visit me there at: The Clutter-Free Classroom

I got my hair did last night.

And today I'm a new woman.

Not really. I'm still the same old me, but with darker hair.

As a kid, my hair was super dark. Then 15 year old me discovered Sun-In. And in my teenage logic I deducted that since the directions called for sun or a blowdryer then the necessary ingredient for developing sun-kissed tresses was heat. So I tested my hypothesis and sprayed the heck out of my hair and then slid a curling iron slowly through it.

Oh, the heat activated the color alright and I had streaks of orange hair. As in Sunkist oranges and not sun-kissed. It was awful.

After that I retired from the role of Beauty School Dropout and ventured into salons where I entrusted the pros to work their magic. This summer I went out on a limb and had it highlighted. It was borderline blond.

Blonds don't really have more fun in case you are wondering.

Last night I had her darken it.

Today I went to school and overheard this conversation while I was doing a running record:

Student A: Mrs. D needs to spend more time in the sun. Her blond streaks are fading.
Student B: That's not from the sun. She dyes it to cover the grey.
Student A: She doesn't have grey hair.
Student B: That's because she buys brown hair with highlights.

Dear Student B, I'll be working on your report card this weekend. Just saying. Love, Your Teacher

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

I have a love/hate relationship with field trips.

I usually love to plan and organize events, but when it comes to field trips...not so much.

They are so much work to plan. You often have to track down paperwork. There is a healthy amount of stress. It's challenging enough to keep tabs on 23 kids within the confines of the classroom. Trying to do so out of your element in the big wide world can make your head spin.

This week my class went on two field trips.

They were polar opposites on the field trip spectrum.

Tuesday we went to Plimoth Plantation.
The Good: It was an amazing educational opportunity. We've been studying the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags for the past month and this truly made the history come alive. They were able to see, hear, smell, and experience all that we had been learning about in books. That's priceless.

The Bad: We didn't have as much time there as I would have liked. There were over 1900 students visiting on the day we went. When you dress kids in outerwear they all start to look alike. There was a lot of head counting going on.

The Ugly: Two plus hour bus ride through Boston way!

It was worth the ride and I would do it again, but man did it make me appreciate today's field trip.

Today we boarded a bus much like we had done on Tuesday.

However, there was no sitting in bumper to bumper traffic with a chorus of "are we there yets" while hoping and praying nobody wet their pants...including the chaperones who had boarded the bus with extra large Dunkin Donuts coffees.

Today we simply had to travel 5 minutes to our destination which was another elementary school in town. There we walked down one hall and into the gym. We enjoyed a presentation on woodwind instruments and then we hopped back onto our bus for the "don't blink or you'll miss it commute" back to our school. Easy Peasy!

My week of field trips got me thinking. Organizing for a field trip would be blog worthy.

And so I will do just that next week. In the meantime I have my usual Saturday morning field trips planned. Grocery store and post office here I come.

Happy weekend!

Instant Downloads

I've been wanting to switch to an automatic instant download option for awhile now and have played around with my options. I had started to set up a site of my own, but have decided that for the time being I'm better off going through Teacher Pay Teachers.

It's got a great reputation and at this point it's the easiest choice for me.

I've already uploaded most of the products that I already had available along with some great freebies. They are all instant downloads so you don't need to wait.

Check it out by clicking on the button.

I still have tons of inventory from my online store (teacher resource books, leveled libraries, guided reading sets, etc), but I plan to box it all up and store it until next summer. I will post some seasonal items on here when appropriate (i.e. Valentine's books in February), but for the most part I'm just going to focus on the digital files.

Please let me know if there is anything you would like to see.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Where Does the Time Go

Holy Cow! 2010 hit fast forward. I've been running at full speed since the school year started. I've been meaning to blog. I've composed many a post in my head while driving or showering or sitting at my son's tennis practice, but something always comes up. You know how it goes. You fully intend to do something...

And then you wake up one Monday morning and step outside with your school bag and cup of coffee and you realize, "I'm holding a travel mug of hot coffee." And you ask yourself, "when did I make the switch from iced coffee?"

And then you notice that squirrels have eaten through your pumpkins because Halloween was a week ago. So you take out your camera because you want to blog about how time has slipped away.

And you snap a photo of the leaves that have all fallen from the tree and are covered in frost. Which makes you bitter because you know that means...
...that your car will be covered in frost. So you get inside and for the first time in the season... turn the heat on. And you sit in your car and sip your hot coffee because it beats scraping the frost off manually. And while you sit there you mentally compose a blog post about it and promise yourself that you are going to put it online that night because you miss blogging and you miss the people and you have been meaning to get back to it.

And then you get to school and you get busy and the next thing you know it is 11/18 and all the pics are still on your camera and three weeks have slipped away. Yikes!

Hope you are all doing well. I've missed you and am happy to be back.

My head is above water. I have the holidays under control. Seriously. Shopping is done and wrapped. I even got Hubby to put the lights up already. Now all we need is a tree and some cookies. I have an amazingly awesome student teacher who is gearing up for her takeover week. I am going to my sisters for Thanksgiving so I don't need to cook or clean a thing.

I'm back baby!

What's new with you?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Alive and Well

Hey All!

When I am teaching writing I tell my kids not to string together the word "so" over and over and that one "so" is all they need.


I have been so so so so so so so so busy.


School started last week and it's great. Thrilled with my class. Adore my student teacher. Having great fun reconnecting with my long-lost coworkers (when you typically see people daily, ten weeks is a long time being apart). LOVE having my favorite little Kindergarten kid at school with me and getting winks from him as we pass in the hall.

All good stuff.

I do miss my babies and am trying to spend as much time with them as I can when I'm not at school. Which means I am a bit of a juggling act at the moment and have been finding myself falling asleep on the couch with a pile of spelling assessments on my lap as soon as the littles go to bed.

I've started getting concerned emails from my wonderful readers. So sweet.

I assure you I am alive and well. I've very well in fact. I'm just getting the new year kicked off and settling in to some new routines at home. I had great routines going as a "working mom" last year, but the difference between 9 month old twins and 12.5 month old twins is amazing. They used to nap from 4-5 which gave me just enough time to come home, change into comfy clothes, make dinner and play for a bit with the Boy. They no longer enjoy their cages, um, I mean excersaucers and pack n' plays and are in to EVERYTHING.

For those who are curious...

My goal is to resume daily blogging soon. I've been taking lots of pictures and making notes of things to share. I'm a bit more giddy than I should be about blogging about my new bathroom procedure.

Hope you are all off to a great start with your new years!

Monday, September 6, 2010

New Year Resolutions

I don't make New Year's Resolutions on December 31st.

Because I NEVER stick to them.

I do make New Year's Resolutions in September for the new school year though. I also make them at the start of the summer.

I tend to stick to the summer ones. The September resolutions rarely last. That's because they involve professional clothes and blowouts. Let's be real. I'm a simple girl.

And blowdrying my hair with a round brush and a collection of hair products is not simple. It's fancy. I'm not fancy.

So...What are your New Year's Resolutions for the 2010-2011 school year?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Coming Up For Air

Wow! What a crazy week it has been.

On Friday my internet went out which in many ways was a good thing. It allowed me to focus on the family and the house and all that good stuff.

Not so good for running an online business though. It all worked out.

We celebrated the twin's 1st birthday on Saturday with a big ole backyard party. I must thank our guest of honor, Mother Nature, for providing us with a gorgeous day. It was a fabulous shindig and I really enjoyed visiting with family who I had not seen in forever.

My mom and dad were in town for the birthday and stayed with us Saturday through Tuesday. We totally took advantage of having the extra hands.

On Sunday morning we took the Big Brother sans babies to the beach.

It's amazing how vacationish it felt. I love the beach any day of the year. However, after a crazy week of traveling out of state, working on the house, party planning and executing, entertaining, etc. it felt SO GOOD to sit with my feet in the sand and not have to worry about diaper and sand-eating babies.

It wasn't all fun and games though. I had work to do.
I'm a teacher. It was the month of August. It's how we roll.

On Monday the reality slap came.

I had received email clearance to go work in my classroom. Translation: the cleaning crew had finished "doing their thang" and I could go piece together my classroom. Since my mom was visiting and could hang with the Littles, I put on my scrubby clothes and headed in to school.

Luckily I brought my big, strong, Hubby with me. (Actually he was bitter and disgruntled about needing to do manual labor, but he sometimes reads this so I thought a few flattering adjectives would be appreciated).

The good news is that I had a blank slate.
The better news is that my rugs were cleaned.
The bad news is that this is the scene I walked in to find.

Why yes, that is the entire contents of my classroom piled high into a jumbled heap. I managed to sift through the rubble, get everything back in order and things are looking good for the 10-11 school year.

We don't start back until next Tuesday.

Tomorrow I'm taking the Boy to a water park.

Since it seems like every school in NH, ME and parts of MA have already started we should have the place to ourselves.

Which is exactly how I prefer anywhere I need to sport a swimsuit to be.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Bugs You?

I don't have pets.

Unless dust bunnies count.

But, I do have pet peeves.

Here's the thing. I've LOVED being home with my kids this summer. Like, LOVE, LOVED it! My son is freaking hilarious and the twinkies are just so much fun. I like lazy days. I like being a shut-in. I do seriously believe that I could be a hermit as long as hermits are aloud high-speed internet access. I also believe the world would be a better place if everyone wore their pajamas all day every day.

Yesterday was "one of those days" though. It was my own fault. I put too much on my plate. We're rocking project "paint and move four rooms around in two weeks or less." But, it's been a ton of work. Operation "First Birthday" is culminating tomorrow which means lots of crafty projects. The straw that broke the camel's back was the large group playdate that I had scheduled at my house.

Let me complete that statement.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the large group playdate that I had scheduled at my house...2 days before we host a huge party and as we are undergoing house renovations. It was a crazy day around the homestead and the part that would have been filmed in s-l-o-w motion with enhanced sound had my life been a movie was when I stepped on yet another Cheerio on my freshly swept floor.

It was at that point that I, for the first time all summer, thought to myself, "It's time for me to go back to school."

What I was thinking was..."it's time for me to go back to school so I can finish my lunch in peace, go more than 63 minutes without having to change a diaper or flush the toilet for another human being and not need to crush Cheerios under my bare feet.

Then I remembered.

The Goldfish! Those damn Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers. I hate how they lie there all belly up on the classroom rug just waiting for a foot to come crashing down upon them.

I actually think snack time in general is my pet peeve. I like things neat. I don't like sticky. I don't like crumbs. And I think the creators of Gogurt and Crush Cups should be shot. I get the fact that it's a long day and kids need to replenish their supply of feed their brains and energize their hard-working little bodies in order to complete their day of learning at their maximum level of potential. I do get that.

Which is why I find it all the more annoying when they break out the Doritos and brownies at 9:15 a.m. It counteracts the purpose.

So there you have it. My number one pet peeve as a classroom teacher.

What drives you absolutely insane?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

In many ways, this time of year is the most wonderful to me.

It's filled with excitement, fresh starts, newness and flawless school supplies (which you know I adore). There's the promise of apple crisp and football and pumpkins looming. It almost makes the passing of my beloved summer seem bearable.

But, today I am here to talk to you about the time of year the song was actually written about.


You know...that most wonderful time of year when you are stressed over money and to do lists? Our conferences and report cards also fall in December. Let's not forget the crowds. Aren't crowded malls fun? Don't they add to the wonderfulness of the most wonderful time of the year?

In case you didn't make note on your calendar today, we are exactly 4 months away from Christmas. Four months is nothing.

Here's the thing. I started to loathe the month of December. I was overwhelmed by the chaos and the waste and the bills and the wrapping and the chaos of it all.

And that made me sad.

I wanted to enjoy the holiday season and make memories with my son. I wanted it to be an experience and not a burden.

So I took charge.

A few years ago I started to give myself official deadlines for the holiday "to dos." People make fun of me and call me names (much like poor Rudolph), but I think it is because they are jealous. My deadlines are as follows:

Columbus Day weekend: all gifts must be bought
Halloween: all gifts must be wrapped
Thanksgiving Weekend: all cards ready to mail

I know you are flat out crazed with school stuff right about now, but trust me on this. It is one of the best things I have ever done.

I started by dwindling my gift list. I LOVE buying gifts for people when I find the perfect gift. I hate buying gifts for someone just to fulfill an obligation and "trading gift cards" seemed silly. So hubby and I had some heart to heart talks with some of the people on our lists and we agreed to stop swapping gifts and instead make a plan to spend quality time together.

As you know, I hate clutter. This comes in handy when the holidays roll around because I've worked hard to not add clutter to other people's lives. I try to give "experience" gifts whenever possible. If buying a gift card, I avoid cards that will be used to buy more clutter and instead aim for an experience:

tickets to a show
a gift certificate to a class, amusement park, museum, spa, etc.

Start by making a list of all the people you need to buy a gift for. Brainstorm some ideas for gifts. Acquire said gifts. Then wrap and deliver. Done! I made you a printable to help with the process.

Instead of running around stressed and bitter during the holiday season (which is where I was at), I enjoy the season and take it all in with the simple things. We bake cookies. We get together with friends. I host a ginderbread party for the kids. We watch holiday specials. I read by the light of the tree in my festive jammies while sipping hot cocoa. You get the idea.

So, it's August 25th. Hop on my bandwagon which is doubling as a sleigh, print my cute little organizer and get started. Stagger your purchases and I'll check in on you around Columbus Day.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This summer has been amazing.  I've loved spending so much time with my 3 little people.  I've managed to tackle a whole bunch of home projects. Writing this blog and connecting with so many teachers has been an absolute blast.

Littlest Learners has been more successful than I could have ever hoped and I am grateful to so many of you for that.  I am excited about taking it in a new direction and am doing a little experimenting as I prepare for a big announcement next week.

Below are a few links to some of my best selling products.  You can still purchase them through my store, but they are now also available for instant download.  These links will also allow those of you outside of the United States to purchase them. (My store only allows for US purchases because it is set up to also ship actual items and the default is set to US only).  

Feel free to try it out.  I experimented with it last night and used my hubby's email and credit card to try it out and I am giddy with excitement.  You'll be able to instantly access my files via an immediate download link. Good for you.  Good for me.  

As always, the price is staying at $3.00 each.  My goal is to supply teachers with quality products for a very reasonable price. 






Monday, August 23, 2010


Raise your hand if you LOVE playing ice breaker games.

I thought so.

I personally loathe them.  Finding out what kind of animal someone is like and why is kind of like when people try to tell you all about a dream they had.  It's boring and silly.  It makes me feel awkward.  

Not a fan.

I try not to subject my kids to too many of these types of activities on the first day of school and strive to find activities that will "break the ice" in more interesting ways.  Hence the playdough idea. Today I bring you another fun activity for the start of school. 

I also plan on using it for movement breaks and as a reward.

It is Bop It!

It's a bit addictive.  My son received one for his birthday.  I'm proud to say I am the high score holder in our house.

When you start it it plays a funky little rhythm and instructs you to bop it (hit the center button), pull it (pull a handle on one end) or twist it (turn a knob at the other end).

You can play as an individual or as a group.  When playing as a group you need to "pass it."  

They sell them at Target and Walmart and the like.  They are under $20.00.

Good times people, good times!