Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Power Of Smell

Don't you love when you catch a whiff of something that sets you back in time?!?  There is something about the faint baby powder smell that takes me back to playing with my dolls as a child.  As an adult, I still long for those moments that take me back to a stressless time; I guess that is why I LOVE smelly markers and pens.  There is no denying that as a teacher we love school supplies, but there is something about smelly markers and pens that makes me feel like I am 6 years old again.
We all know about the traditional Mr. Sketch markers, but have you seen the new limited edition scents?  They are awesome and I have to laugh that there is always one stinky scent.

My favorite scent is still grape.  What about you?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Life of a New Mama: Schedule, What?!?!

If there is something that I have learned as a new mom it is schedules are damn near impossible to follow.  I used to be that person that was five minutes early to everything and I hated, yes hated, when people were late.  Well, the universe came back to smack me on the back of the head, because now I am always late.  It is so difficult to get my sleep-deprived-self out the door, let alone my son, too.
Last week, while trying to get out the door to drop the dog off at the vet, my son decided to have a huge blow out (sorry, TMI).  It was just another one of those moments that I had to stop slowdown and remember whether I am 5 minutes early or ten minutes late it is fine.  Right?  I guess I just need to convince the rest of the world that this is the case.

I hope you are having a great week!

Do you have any advice for how to get out the door, on time, once I go back in the classroom?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Monday Meals: A Whole Chicken in a Crockpot; Oh My!

If you haven't figured it out yet, I love my crockpot.  Seriously, I have no idea what I ever did without it.  Now, with a four month old it is a saving grace for actually having a home cooked meal.  This past week, I decided to get the biggest bang for my buck.  I cooked a whole chicken and then turned around and made bone broth/chicken stock.  My crockpot ran for a day and a half, but it was so worth it.

1 medium to large onion
4-5 pound hen; rinsed and giblets removed
smoked or sweet paprika

Roughly slice the onion and place it in the bottom of the crockpot.  Place the chicken on top of the onion.   Make sure you have removed the "stuff" from the inside and rinsed the entire bird.  Generously coat with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Cook on LOW for 5 hours.  Be sure to use a meat thermometer to determine if the bird it cooked since different sizes could require another half hour to hour.
There is no liquid necessary because plenty will be produced while the chicken is cooking.

What are you making this week?

Let me know if you are interested in how to use the bones and juices to make bone broth.  Have a great week!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Teal Pumpkin Project

Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project?  I remember seeing information about it last year, but I didn't think anything of it.  What changed?  My son changed this.  Although he is only four months old, he is a child that is able to enjoy food rich holidays because of projects like this.
Over time, more and more food allergies and sensitives have come to light.  This isn't new information, it is our reality.  We have altered the natural makeup of so many food with preservatives, coloring, sugar, and other chemicals causing many of our bodies to revolt.  I know that this has become a heated topic, but it is true.

As a mom and a teacher, I want to see every child happy and able to enjoy life.  This year, we are handing out LED finger lights in hopes of making a few more Trick or Treaters smile.

Are your participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Sight Word Conversation

It seems that during conferences every year, I have the same conversation with parents.  "Practicing sight words is a very important skill that I need you to be doing every day.  Remember that these are the words that are difficult or unable to be sounded out, knowing them by sight is instrumental to your child's reading ability.  Making this practice engaging will be necessary." Insert head nod from parent/s.  This is when I start listing ways to make this "practice engaging."
Let's back up for a second, why are sight words so important?  Well, they are the most frequently seen words in text and do not follow traditional spelling patterns.  When words do not follow the "sound it out method" you need to be able to recognize them quickly based on sight memory.  When sight words are mastered it allows for increased fluency of reading.  An increase in fluency does not automatically mean that comprehension becomes stronger, but it does support it.
So back to ways to make sight word mastery engaging...

  • pick a word and search for it together at the grocery store or while driving in the car
  • play Oh No! or Race to the Finish or a huge favorite Bust the Burglar 
  • add sight words to games like Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, or Sorry
    • when you land on a square read the word
  • good old fashion flash cards work for some kiddos
  • use magnetic letters on the fridge to practice words or have fun with alphabet cereal or pasta
My students end up making great sight word growth with the practice they receive at home and the learning that takes place in the classroom.

What do your kiddos do to learn their sight words?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Meals: The Easiest Beef Stew Around

As the weather starts to cool down and the trees change my Michigan Blues set in big time.  I was born and raised in The Mitten and still miss it all the time.  This time of year is the hardest!  One thing that seems to cheer me up is a yummy bowl of beef stew.  There is something about the hardy warmth that brings me to the kitchen table I ate at as a child.

Easy Beef Stew
1-2 lbs stew meat
5 carrots
4 rustic potatoes (about 2 lbs of your choice)
 1 carton of beef broth (about 4 cups)
1 bay leaf
3 stalks of celery (optional)

Add stew meat to the crockpot and season with salt and pepper.  Chop veggies and add them on top of the meat.  Pour in the beef broth.  Give everything a quick stir and add the bay leaf.  Cook for 6 hours on low.  About 30 minutes before it is done cooking, remove 2 ladles of broth into a bowl.  Add  2-3 tablespoons of flour (I use Bob's RedMill GF 1-to-1) to the bowl and whisk to make a slurry.  Add this back to the crockpot and once again give everything a quick stir. You can garnish with parsley if you want.

Super simple and ridiculously yummy!

What is your favorite fall recipe?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spreading the LOVE

Even on maternity leave, I am loving GoNoodle!  I may not be able to get my wiggles out with my students right now, but I can still dance my stress out.  I just found out that I have been chosen to be a GoNoodle Ambassador.  I am so honored and excited to be a part of this team.

Expect to see some more GoNoodle love throughout the coming year!

Happy Noodling!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

GoNoodle Blogger Blitz!

GoNoodle has been a staple in my classroom for going on three school years.  It is how I start my students' day, give them needed brain breaks, and wrap up our day's learning.  You may be thinking...How do you have the time in your day for all of these breaks?  Well here are my two cents...take them or leave them...
Giving students breaks throughout the day allows them to have the necessary time they need to process information.  Too often, we talk, talk, talk, show, show, show and never give the time needed to process, process, process.  GoNoodle provides fun interactive breaks to give my students' brains the time they need to take it all in.
GoNoodle allows my students to start their day on a positive note.
Think About It provides a quite way for my kiddos to set an intention for the day.  I often feel like I need this more than my students.
We also use Maximo to start our day.  His guidance allows us to wake up and get that much needed oxygen to our brains.
For those MUCH needed wiggle breaks, I always turn to my favorite duo, Koo Koo Kanga Roo.  We were lucky enough to have them perform at our school last year.  You should swing over to my Facebook page and check out my Pop See Ko moves at 35 weeks pregnant!  These guys know how to get our wiggles out and wake us up!
As I mentioned before, I also use GoNoodle at the end of the day.  I let my students pick which breaks they want to do.  I have found this to be a positive way to bring everyone back together once more before heading home.

I am so excited to be linking up with GoNoodle and so many fabulous bloggers to share how we are using GoNoodle this year!
Plus, one lucky reader gets to win these AWESOME GoNoodle pencils.  Just leave a comment telling me how you plan to use GoNoodle in your classroom this year.  I will choose one random winner from the comments below.

BONUS!!! Have you checked out the GoNoodle shop?!?  There are so many cool items.  Head over and grab some goodies.  Make sure to use the discount code BTSwithGoNoodle for 15% off your purchase September 4th-11th.

Happy Noodling!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back to School Style Part 2 {giveaway}

Comfort is my number one criteria when picking out my clothes!  As teachers we are up, down, and all around when working with our students.  Plus, glue, markers, and paint are constantly coming at us.  Due to these factors, I choose stylish comfort when choosing my outfits for the week.  Yet, I believe that the easiest way to jazz up any outfit is with the perfect accessory.
My go-to accessory has always been handbags.  I would say, I have a bit of an obsession with bags.  It wasn't until I discovered LineaPelle handbags that my world changed.  Instead of buying inexpensive purses that would fall apart after 5 uses, I started saving and splurging on bags that would last a life time.
Just a few of my LP bags!
My favorite accessories though have to be my statement pieces from Paizlee.  They have the classiest necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and let's not forget their garments!  I know that when I want to dress up a simple tee I throw on a statement necklace or gorgeous pair of earrings from my favorite girls!

I am teaming up with Paizlee for this fabulous Teacher Style Giveaway.  Just head over to my Instagram account for all of the details.

What is your go-to accessory?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy Teacher

I am a huge advocate for self health.  I believe that we must take the time to care of ourselves if we want to be productive human beings.  Teacher burnout is a crisis in our career and I feel like it takes a toll on each and everyone of us, no matter how long we have been teaching.  Finding small joys and achieving BIG accomplishments are what we strive for, but getting there can be tough.
I am very grateful for fellow teacher bloggers, like Sheila Jane.  She has taken teacher happiness to a new level.  Sheila Jane Teaching provides a community of "happy teachers" supporting one another.  I personally love being a Happy Teacher Member!

What makes you a Happy Teacher?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School Style Part 1

I know that many of you are already back to school, but for those of us on the west coast we still have a bit more time.  With the first day quickly approaching it is time to put my yoga pants and jogging shorts to the side and pick out my First Day of School outfit.
As teachers, I feel that we are always looking for the following from our clothing:

  • comfort - We are up, down, and all around the place.
  • durability - I need to know that my pants aren't going to fall apart on me as I bend down to work with a student.
  • can be easily cleaned - No one wants to make a trip to the dry cleaners to get out the paint from Friday's art project.
  • stylish - We all want to look FABULOUS!
I have put together some of my favorite Back to School outfit choices to provide some inspiration.
[Linen Pants - Old Navy; Tunic - Paizlee; Long necklace - handmade]
[Pixi Pant - Old Navy; Top - Paizlee; Necklace - ?]
[Pixi Pants - Old Navy; Top - Paizlee; Long necklace - handmade] 
[Black Pants and Tank - Old Navy; Kimono - Paizlee]
[Dress and Jean Jacket - Old Navy; Necklace - Paizlee]

What do you think?  

Be sure to check back for part 2!  I have teamed up with my favorite online boutique Paizlee to bring you some more teacher style ideas and a giveaway!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Life of a New Mama - Let's Get Something Straight!

So I had every intention of breastfeeding once my son was born.  I took a class, I read several books, I talked to friends and colleagues; plus I figured it is natural it will be fine.  HAHA!  Who was I kidding?  For me, it has been nothing close to fine.  Breastfeeding quickly became more difficult than the 51 hours of labor and c-section that I went through.

Here are some things that no one told me that I really wish I would have known:

  • you are encouraged to nurse nonstop (on demand) in the hospital and the first several weeks of your child's life 
  • it can take days, even up to a week, for your milk to come in
  • if you have a bigger baby (my guy was 9lb 9oz) keeping up with demand is even harder
  • you have to drink water like you never have before, but good luck peeing because you will constantly have a little one attached to you
  • your boobs will hurt and I don't mean they will be sore, I mean they will HURT!
  • your nipples will take on a shape you have never seen before
  • modesty will go out the window
  • you may never make enough milk to support your child's needs
I know that not everyone experiences these hardships, but for those that do know that you are not alone.  It wasn't until I started talking about how difficult of a time my little guy and I were having that I learned almost everyone I knew struggled with breastfeeding to some degree.
The most vital piece of information I have learned from talking with others is that there is NOTHING wrong with giving your child formula.  I had the hardest time accepting this, but your child's health and weight gain are the number one priority, along with your emotional and physical health.  If you have to supplement no biggie.  You are doing what you need to do for your child!
To date, I am breastfeeding on demand and supplementing with 2-4 ounces of formula a day.  It took my son almost 3 weeks to get back to birth weight and continue to gain weight at speed that made the doctors, lactation specialist, and this mama happy.  

Did you struggle with this or have a friend that did?  What has worked for you?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Time Travel

If you could go back in time and give your first-year teacher self some advice what would it be?

In the last 10 years, I have learned a lot about my self as a teacher, the world of education, and the needs of children.  I would love to go back and give my first year teacher self some advice.

1. Everyone is doing the best they can!  Often times, I would get frustrated with parents and even coworkers thinking that they were not giving their children and students their all.  Oh how becoming a parent has quickly changed that mentality.  Everyone is doing the best they can.  Life can be really hard, but if we support each other instead of looking down on others we would ALL be better off.

2. Take a breather!  I am a workaholic there is no denying it, but it is okay to stop and smell the roses.  Too often I would commit to one more thing because I was always in fear of missing out.  Guess what...that is perfectly fine.  You don't have to be a know-it-all, what you need is enough energy to do everything with passion and to truly love what you are doing.

I bet there are a million other things that would have helped me my first year, but as long as I continue to learn and love what I am doing that is what matters right?!?

What would you tell your first year self?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Five for Friday - August 21, 2015

It has been way too long since I have linked up with Doodle Bugs for a Five for Friday.  I am so excited to be back!
This week was filled with baby time and well more baby time.  I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around being on maternity leave.  It has become confusing seeing everyone get ready for the school year while I know that I am going to be at home with little man for awhile.
Here are 5 highlights from my week:

Little man is starting to smile and recognize so much.  It is so incredible to watch his development happen before my eyes.

I picked up some new goodies from my favorite online boutique, Paizlee.  Be sure to follow along the next few weeks; I have a fabulous giveaway with them coming up.

I have been on the hunt for these Mr. Sketch markers.  I have a crazy love for smelly markers and these are a must for my classroom.  I keep seeing that people have found them at Target, but no such luck here.

Another search has been for these mini InkJoy pens.  I don't know what the deal is with these pens, but they are inexpensive and write perfectly.  These minis would be perfect to throw in my purse/diaper bag.  Has anyone found them?

I spend a lot of time hanging out on the couch nursing.  I have been searching for a great show to get hooked on and I think I found it.  Have you watched Suits?  It is addicting and very well written.  Donna is the best!  I am always looking for a great show to binge watch, any suggestions?

How was your week?