Friday, April 27, 2012

The One About Teaching

I don't often write about my job on this blog but, since Teacher Appreciation Week is approaching, I thought now would be a great time to mention some thoughts I have on teaching and some things that surprised me about being a teacher.

First, I am surprised to say that I feel so LUCKY to have the job I have! I love my school, my students and everyone I work with! Not many people can say that.

Why am I so surprised? When I first got my credential, I thought for sure I was a future Kindergarten or 2nd grade teacher. Those little guys are so cute! And I knew my soft, sweet style would suit their needs. After a couple years working in elementary, I confirmed one thing: I absolutely was NOT made for and DID NOT want to teach middle school!

But God had a different plan...

When full-time job-time came around, positions were scarce and elementary schools weren't calling - middle schools were. In fact, I ignored 2-3 middle school calls before I finally answered the phone. That last phone call was from the school I work at now. In middle school I was worried that this would have to be my motto:
But the truth is - middle schoolers aren't scary. They are actually pretty cool. {Shhh, don't tell them I said that!} ;-) After one year teaching middle school I knew one thing -- I was made for and loved middle school! My style, my management, my jokes -- all made for middle school. Who knew? {Well, my Master Teachers would say THEY knew.} ;-)

I'm now a middle school English teacher.
I was also surprised how challenged I would be every day - in the best ways! In my class we get to have amazing discussions, be sarcastic {sometimes}, work hard, be real, learn about each other and life, challenge ourselves and have fun {sometimes} :)

 Some signs I use around my classroom to motivate my students {and myself} are:

{All of these quotes I downloaded from this awesome website!}

And every day I want my students to feel like this:

{ShabbyBlog button}

But teaching isn't always fun posters and cute classrooms. It's a lot of real life.
And sometimes I feel like this:

but I always want to remember this philosophy:

I really like this poster. We just can't expect every student to fit in the same little box. And it is a challenge every day to figure out just how to make each kid shine. It is equally hard to see a smart student make bad choices. Or a struggling student think they're not capable. It is hard sometimes to find the right words to say to build them up, since those words are different for every child. But we try. Being a parent, I hope, has made me a better teacher. When a student has a bad day, I think, 'how would I want a teacher to react if this was my  son or daughter?" and I respond that way.

I was also surprised at the variety of issues I would have to 
handle - including more than just the problems 
of not finishing homework or not doing well on the test.

Some of my students come into my classroom with A LOT of real life happening and a lot of REAL problems...

Like the student who stayed after class every day to ask questions and talk, only to eventually share that their mother was just given months to live. And sharing in tears when we found out she passed away...

Like the student who got good grades and came to class with a smile on their face every day
and yet, inside, their body was fighting cancer...

Like the "must place" student who had to be assigned to our class, even if the classroom was full, because they were homeless...

I have witnessed some amazing teachers throughout 
my 9 years in the classroom.

Teachers who have picked up elementary students to take them to school in the rain, because they knew those students walked and if it rained they wouldn't be able to come to school.

Teachers who work through every one of their breaks and lunch to help struggling students.
Teachers who bought morning snacks every day for a student
because they knew they didn't eat breakfast. 

Teachers who paid the field trip fee out of their own pocket for students they knew couldn't afford it.

I am humbled every day to know that teachers like this exist. 

In May, my students will take a national test that CA state and my district will use to measure whether or not they were successful in my classroom this year. I know that most of my students will do pretty well on the test and I'm excited to see the results.

However, I also know that success 
can't always be measured by a test.

And that, for some students, a successful year means they found a place to live.

A successful year means they made it through their first school year without their mother.

A successful year means they beat cancer.

No test can measure or replace that level of success.

And no credential program can prepare you for that kind of support.
It has to be in you, or grow in you. And I am blessed to be surround by teachers that inspire me to be this kind of better, every single day.

As you read this post, I hope it made you think of a teacher you had or your children have that you can appreciate. And when Teacher Appreciation Week rolls around, I hope you take the time to say
"Thank You!"

12.14.2012: Nothing could have prepared us for December 14th. As a parent and a teacher, our world was shaken. This year in Sandy Hook, having a successful year takes on a whole new meaning. I would like to take the time on this post to remember the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, it's children and the amazing teachers who gave their lives in the protection of their students. God Bless. xo

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:13 NIV)

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week 
to all the amazing teachers out there. xo

 “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.” (Romans 12:7 NLT)

Linking up here; The Foley Fam; Tidy Mom and tatertots and jello

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Wellness List

Life gets busy and, let’s face it, stressful at times. That must do “to-do” list just seems to keep growing and growing and the list of things I would REALLY like to do {you know, those things that help me relax?} just keeps getting shorter and shorter. 
I figure, if I am going to try hard to take care of my kids, my job and my schedule, then I should try equally hard to take care of my body and soul.
My mom recently sent me an email about her “Wellness List.” This was a list of things that she wanted to do each week to stay happy and WELL. 
My first thought was, this sounds a lot easier to do if your kids are grown and out of the house! Right? This is not so easy if you still have little ones running around. As it is, my boys are 8 and 11 and it took me almost 2 4 days just to find time to sit down and make a list in the first place. But let me tell you, if I can do ANY of these items on this list each week, I’ll be a happy camper. And just the fact that I even a list, makes me feel better already!
The plan: {insert Mission Impossible theme} to cauterize my everyday to-do list and incorporate each week at least three things from the list below... that's right - THREE! So, here we go…


1. Take a bubble bath with my favorite music and Scentsy warmer burning. {Just adding those last 2 elements makes a difference, don't you think?}

2. Get a massage
3. Learn a new word and incorporate it in my vocabulary {see bolded text above. Lol} And yes, being a word nerd comes with the English teacher territory! ;)
4. Get my nails done at a salon.
5. Learn Chinese/Tagalog so I know what the girls in the nail salon are saying about me. {Okay, this one's humorous, but really, what ARE they saying?}
6. Get a babysitter once a week and have a night out with the BF.
7. Read a superficially fun magazine.
8. Learn a new song on the piano.
9. Take a good brisk walk with my thoughts and the sunshine.
10. Make a date with one (or more!) of my girlfriends.
11. Take a dance class.
12. Curl up and watch a silly show that I like. {Friends? American Idol? What do you watch?}
13. Get 8 hours of sleep in one night. {Hey, it could happen!}
14. Play a board game or any game!

          {This is a Minute to Win It game we were playing at a church function!}

I saved the best one for last...

15. Always make sure I have something to look forward too.

That's important, at least to me.
 Some of these things I wrote because I do them already {See #’s 6, 10 and 12} and others I know I would like to do or need to do MORE. {See #13!} I also made sure that at least half of the items on my list were things that cost no money and I could do spur of the moment! And you know what? I already feel better!
And guess what I bought at the library this weekend to  get me started on this list?
Yep, some sheet music. Nothing major. Just something fun to sit down and learn.

Now, I can't wait! When I have a stressful or busy week, I am just going to pick something off this list and do it!!

How about you? What is on YOUR wellness list?


Linking up here and: The Foley Fam

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Real Woman of Genius {Take 2}

So, earlier I “invented” an embellished wipe dispenser into a chic plastic bag holder. {You really should check out this amazingness.} And last night, I had another 'Aha!' moment!

And the story goes… I was cleaning up from dinner last night, a little frustrated that Little Man just LEFT the empty Pringles can and lid on the counter after packing his lunch. {Okay, but I guess he gets props for making his own lunch, so he is quickly forgiven.} I, personally, left a can half full of veggies on the counter after dinner. Why half full? Because my boys are just the right size where 1 can is not enough, but 2 is too many, and I just popped out the exact amount they needed for dinner and left the rest in the can. Yep. It was that kind of night. I know we’ll finish up this can of veggies tomorrow, but I’m sitting there thinking, do I dirty up a tupperware? Cover the can up in foil? Oh the quandary. When I see the Pringles can lid just sitting there. {Because you better believe I’M not putting it away.}… And, DING! {There go those angels singing again!}

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Yep! Perfect fit!

The Pringles lid sat nicely right on top of my little can of veggies! Problem solved!! Wam, bam, I put that baby in the fridge and called it a night. {FYI – the Pringles lids are NOT an air tight seal, –see the end of this post for a possible solution – but they do work great for an overnight or short term lid. Also they work great if you need to stack open cans!} Can I get a Woot! Woot!

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Of course, I couldn’t just leave mine alone. Once I figured this phenomenal coincidence out, I had to kick it up a notch! So, I got out my Mod Podge and fabric and made over that little veggie can into a craft can!

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Um, yeah, we ate the veggies first and I cleaned it out. {Come on, I know SOMEONE was thinking that!} lol

So now the possibilities are endless!! It turns out these cans are just the right size for hot glue gun sticks:

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Some gift tags or maybe my “Created by” stamp and stamp pad that I always lose….

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The lid actually sits on quite nicely {but doesn’t ‘snap’ on} so if you are still thinking of a tighter sealed solution --- let me recommend – a band of hot glue around the inside lip of the rim.

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Again, not airtight, but a little better seal. And either way, these make great little containers that, thanks to Pringles, you can now store and stack to your little heart’s desire!

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I think it will be a new home for my hot glue gun sticks. How about you?
What will you use this little trick for??

Linking up here; and here

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Plastic Bag Holder {Tutorial }

Have you ever had one of those moments where you see an organization problem in your house and then a light bulb comes on {sometimes angels sing} and the solution comes to you instantly? Well, I had one of those moments! {Singing that commercial “Real Men of Genius” song in my head.} I was cleaning my house {which alone deserves some applause} Thank you! :o) I used up my last disinfecting wipe and as I was ready to throw away the container, I noticed my stash of plastic grocery bags. I don’t have a lot of bags as I try to use the recyclable ones, but I do have a use for them. In the past I kept them in empty tissue boxes, but those cardboard holders don’t last very long. So this version, I expect, will last a looong time!

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So, yeah, I was excited when I put two and two together! Wipes dispenser + Plastic because = a match made in heaven. I thought – I’m a genius! I’ll be famous! lol UNTIL I looked online and saw some other versions here …and here (this one's for puppy bags.)… but still...Sigh… Are there any NEW ideas anymore? No, probably not. lol BUT, if you haven’t seen one of these before, I thought you might be interested in a quick little how-to. Besides – none of the other versions have a cute little ribbon and flower on their container. {wink}

So, let’s start with the supplies:

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You’ll need:
  • An empty, clean disinfecting wipes container
  • fabric scraps (one large enough to cover the container and one smaller one to roll a flower if you want!) I got that sweet hounds tooth fabric from the Penelope Lane Boutique last month!
  • Mod Podge
  • paint brush or foam brush
  • scissors
  • ribbon (optional)
  • hot glue gun (option – if you want to glue ribbon or flower on)

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1. Cut your fabric to the size of your container. I just laid my container down and drew a pencil line & cut since my fabric pattern helped me keep my line straight.

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2. Glue down  the first seam with Mod Podge.

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I put some extra Mod Podge on top of the fabric as well to ensure it was secure. You can do this throughout if you need your container a little more waterproof or durable; otherwise the glue seeped through the fabric a little anyways and kept it pretty strong.

3. Continue to Mod Podge the fabric around the entire container - carefully pressing down to keep the fabric smooth. When you’re done, you can be done OR you can add any other embellishments! I added ribbon and a small flower, just because. I hot glued the ribbon:

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And then added the flower:

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Done! And now, my plastic bags are all pretty!! Woot! Woot!

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Have you ever had one of those moments? Where you created something and thought “Aha! I’m a creative genius!” and then seen your idea all over Pinterest? Well, maybe this container can be added to the Pinterest mix too. Thanks for checking this tutorial out! Have a great {and organized} week!


Monday, April 9, 2012

The One With All the Cupcakes {And Easter too}

Happy Easter friends! We had a fabulous day with our family and I hope you did too! Our morning started with a hunt around our house for the boys' Easter baskets! {Hiding them never gets old!} :) And I'm glad that the boys still enjoy searching for them!

After our morning, it was off to see my family!
My family lives near L.A. so I knew one stop we had to make on our way to their house...

The Sprinkles Cupcake ATM

That's right! There is only ONE Cupcake ATM in the world and it is minutes from my parent's home! Need I say more? Why bring flowers on Easter Sunday when you can bring a cupcake? :):)

Here are some fun photos of our mini adventure. 

I have seen pictures of 50-60 people at a time waiting in line to get a cupcake at this ATM. Today, there was only ONE person! (Yeah!)

{It was a sunny morning, so they even had a girl standing outside with an umbrella to shade the guests!} :)

After you purchase your cupcake, the ATM video screen shows how the machine magically grabs your cupcake of choice and delivers it right into your hand! {Almost - it feels that magical! :)} If you want a video of how the ATM really works, click here!

Here is the ATM:

That little round tube turns around and opens up for you to get your cupcake!

Be careful though -- if you stop to take a picture you'll be fine. But if you don't like the first picture you took and stop to take a SECOND picture, you might almost lose a hand as the cupcake turnstile begins to move with your cupcake still in it and then you try to grab that little box before it disappears... {ahem} yeah, so be careful! ;-)

I think I'm a little TOO happy to have a cupcake in my hand! lol

{Hello! I just noticed someone's head is ABOVE my shoulder. Whaaaat?}

Of course, you could also go INSIDE the Sprinkles cupcake shop like a regular person ;-) There's lots of eye candy in there too!

My boys got the S'mores cupcake and the Milk Chocolate. I got the Chocolate Marshmallow cupcake for myself and the Black & White and Red Velvet cupcakes as gifts! I really can't recommend a certain flavor because they were ALL good!!

{Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcake}

If you want to find a Sprinkles Cupcakes near you click here: Sprinkles Cupcakes!

But the only one with an ATM is in Beverly Hills. :)

{PS - Sprinkles Cupcakes is actually on Santa Monica Blvd. about a block from Rodeo Drive; I just loved this picture!}
After our little cupcake detour - we spent the rest of the afternoon with my family. We had delicious food {thanks mom!}, more Easter treats, movies and just a GREAT time! My boys and I talked about Jesus and the Easter story and why it's not all about candy and Easter baskets. Each year they get older, I think the story starts to sink in a little more. :) I also love that what we remember from Easter and days like this is not just the cupcakes, or the Easter baskets and treats. Our favorite moments are always the TIME we get to spend with the ones we love. TIME is more valuable than any cupcake or Easter basket could ever be. Especially when you spend your time like this!

Happy Easter friends!

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.{Matt.28}


Monday, April 2, 2012

Bowling Birthday Party!

This weekend we celebrated my son's birthday! He has been wanting a bowling party FOR-EVER and he was so excited to finally have one!

Here are some pictures of his fun day:

Of course, every good party has to kick off with some yummy snacks!

These were bowling ball and bowling pin cookies I made for the party.Those are chocolate covered oreos and white chocolate dipped nutter butters! :)

"How many 'bowling balls' are in the gumball jar?" Winner takes all! The kids had fun playing this guessing game while we were setting up to bowl! 

In between bowling, I also set up a photo backdrop I made out of PVC pipe & fabric. It ended up being one of our favorite parts of the party!!

The props just couldn't stay in the photo booth though! In case you didn't know -- bowling is TWICE as fun if you dress up!!

{Who said only the kids could have all the fun?}

{We had some creative bowling moves too!}

After bowling the kids enjoyed pizza and cake! Little man wanted an alligator cake... sooo, how do we make that go with the bowling theme? We make our alligator eat a bowling ball cookie! :)

{PS - This isn't a homemade cake this time - I ordered this cake from a local bakery!};)

After the cake the kids got to take home their goodie bags --

{The ribbon was from Michael's and the tags I made myself.}

Inside the goodie bags were a free pass to come back and bowl (woot! woot!), silly bands, a silly straw, a tootsie pop and bowling erasers!

I was so fortunate to find these bowling themed erasers at Michael's Arts & Crafts!

How do I know Little man had fun? Well, these pictures say it all!


I took pictures of each guest with my son & this chalkboard sign 
so we could send them as thank you cards to his friends. 
This pic was by far my favorite of the bunch! xo

Thank you so much for looking at all our bowling party pictures and sharing in our joy! It was just an amazing day filled with friends, family and fun! I can't wait until next year!

Happy Birthday Little Man. I Love You. xo

Sharing this project up at the CSI Project - Kids Birthday Parties

Linking up here and Vintage Wanna Bee; Tip Junkie; Today's Creative Blog; Nest for Less; The DIY Dreamer; The Lady Behind the Curtain; A Turtle's Life for Me; Tatertots and Jello; The Crafted Sparrow; Cheap Crafty Mama;
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