Saturday, August 31, 2013

the first five for friday of the 2013-14 school year

I am exhausted!  It does not matter how much preparation I (or any teacher) does over the summer, I can always create a To Do List for the beginning of the year approximately three and a half miles long.  We had a week full of in-service training, meetings and room prep time this past week, and our kiddos start on Tuesday.  While my room looks ready, who knows if I'll ever be ready to begin this new year!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share my Five for Friday this week on Saturday to go along with the busy, busy, busy theme.  And to add to it even more, we're going allllllll the way back to two weekends ago to share!  I have disappeared lately!

On August 17, my lovely, lovely grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  We went to a new casino to eat dinner with most of my family, where I was carded getting in and told I look like I'm twelve.  Anyway--it is such a blessing to have these two in my life and showing Mark and I a grand example of a committed, slightly dysfunctional marriage.  I adore my grandparents--they're a fair mix of loving, crazy, giving, one clown short of a circus people.

Last weekend, we celebrated my Pap Pap's 91st birthday.  I'm willing to bet that my grandpa is cooler than your grandpa.

I've been working very hard at school getting everything ready.  The kindergarten class and my class are going to be doing a modified version of the Daily 5 that we're calling PILOT time--super excited to get this started, but there is so much to get ready!  I also painted a beehive for my new job chart, simply because I was too cheap to buy the $12 one at the teacher store.  I'll be posting a full classroom tour sometime next week--I completely forgot to take pictures on Friday before I left!

We've gone to a couple more Pirate games and have watched quite a few more on TV.  While they're not quite playing well every game, they're doing well enough that we are finally in first place again.  We saw Garrett Jones hit his 100th home run last night!  Scooter and Mattie have been watching a lot of games cuddled up with us as well.

Lastly, I finished C25K again this past week--I started back at Week 4 when we got back from Disney World and now, I'm officially moving on to the 10K Trainer.  I'm running my first 5k race in October and hope to continue my training so that I'm ready to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2015!

I hope that everyone has a relaxing weekend and holiday--enjoy the last few days of summer!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

favorite things: shopaholic (a love letter to target)

The first day of in-service for teachers is only days away now, and I'm starting to feel like I can't wait for school to start so I can rest a little!  There's just so much to do before summer is over!  I've been working on a literature study for the seventh grade curriculum development at my school (we're adding seventh grade this year, and eighth grade next year!) and working on things for my room.  I've been in to school twice already and plan on going in again today.  And teachers technically don't have to report until next week.

But today, I'm bringing one of the last summer hurrahs to the blog before I go back for meetings, trainings and major planning next week.  I'm linking up with Across the Hall in 2nd Grade and sharing some more of my favorite things.

Today, we're talking about my inner shopaholic and my favorite places to spend my paycheck.  If you have read anything in my blog before...  none of these should be a surprise to you.

| ONE | Target
No worries--no snow here yet.  This picture is OLD.

My absolute favorite place to shop is Target.  Do you remember the Black Friday commercials from a couple years ago with the Crazy Target Lady?  My husband and my dad think that I am possibly the real life Crazy Target Lady.  Who am I kidding?  My mom... my grandma...  my cousins...  many of my close friends...  they all say that.

But seriously!  I love the Merona clothing and the Threshold home decor.  They carry all of my favorite Method products and the clearance end caps are almost always full of cheap treasures.  And on top of that?  They let you stack manufacturer coupons, Target coupons and Cartwheel coupons.  I can collect them, shop smartly and walk out feeling like they just paid me to shop.  I love to look for fantastic deals!

| TWO | Half-Price Books
Every time my little sister is in town, we head over to Half-Price Books.  I love looking at all of the books they have--there is always an interesting selection there.  I always make a beeline to the children's section to look for books for school, and since I started college, I've built quite the impressive classroom library for a fraction of the list price thanks to HPB.  I also love looking at the special collection of rare and collectible books.  I have found quite a few books that I loved as a child here (the same edition, even) and repurchased to have in my own collection--my librarian of a mother is holding most of our childhood books for "when she has grandchildren."

| THREE | Trader Joe's

The first Trader Joe's near me opened a few years ago and it isn't in the most convenient of locations for us to shop there on a regular basis... but I love to go there.  Since it's not our usual grocery shopping, I usually go in more in the mindset that it's a treat trip outside of our usual food budget.  I love the wall of cheese, the hummus and the cookie butter. The selection of vegetarian frozen food is a delight to this overworked teacher during the school year, too.

| FOUR | Old Navy
I mentioned that I love looking for good deals.  Old Navy is a wonderful place to look for those good deals.  Old Navy carries some great clothes that can go from school to home to weekend at a price point that I can usually swallow--and if I can't, I can always try waiting for things to go to the clearance section.  I have raved and raved about their workout clothes (see my "Get Fit" favorite things), but I also love their flip-flops, summer tank tops, basic layering pieces, and quirky puppy items.

Thanks for taking a break from all the Back to School Crazy with me.  We can do it!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

classroom digs {teacher week '13}

Teachers report back at my school two weeks from today.  I haven't been able to get back into my room to work on it yet (they're cleaning and waxing the floors yesterday and today), but the kindergarten teacher and I are hoping to get in on Thursday.  We are looking forward to knocking out some of our projects for back to school.

My biggest goal for this Thursday, besides hashing out schedules and discussing ideas for implementing the Daily Five in kindergarten and first grade (what!?), will be to get the big furniture pieces in place.  I'm thinking about switching some things from last year, and I'm trying yet another position for my desk.  I'm hoping that this last change for my desk is the perfect place.  I moved my desk three times during last school year, and this new place is only a slight change from where it was at the end of last year.  I'm also looking forward to putting down the new area carpet I got at Target last week ($15!) in my reading area to see how it looks.

I'm getting really excited to get in to my room and get everything ready.  I will post pictures as progress happens and a finished tour of my room will be coming before the kiddos come (think probably Labor Day Weekend).

Am I the only crazy who draws out a map for her room before she can even get in to the building?  Someone comfort me that I am not nuts!

After you do that, check out the other blogs linking up over at Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week '13!  I'm sure you will find some fabulous inspiration and a lot of great pictures (I know I'm looking forward to stalking through some blogs in preparation for Thursday!).

Monday, August 12, 2013

let's talk about me! {teacher week '13} and some crafty fun!

I hinted on Friday that I had completed one thing off my to do list last week--and I promised I would share it today!  If you recall from one of my entries from the beginning of the summer (oh, it seems so long ago!), I took pictures on the last day of school of my kiddos with this oh so fancy (cardboard) picture frame.  While I had been planning all last summer to make something lovely for this purpose, I threw this frame together during before school care on the first day of school (yikes).  With the kiddos in the frame (and not me) it was totally cute...  but the cardboard was not holding up at the end of the year, so I trashed it.

I needed something fantastic for this school year.  I was pleased to find that we had some leftover wood from when Mark built my desk shelves, and combining that scrap wood with some craft paints I already had on hand...  I created something that I am super excited to use in my classroom a lot this year.  And not just for pictures either!

I painted the board with four coats of chalkboard paint--I used a couple folded up paper towels because I couldn't find my sponge brushes in my disaster of an office.  After that was dry, I painted the white frame (another two coats).  When that was dry, I added the turquoise circle dots (free handed them...  beyond trying to make it perfect!)...  more drying time... and I outlined them with the black permanent marker.

The last thing I needed to do was prep the chalkboard paint to be written on--I rubbed a piece of chalk all over the chalkboard paint and wiped it off.  Then, I wrote my message to get ready for the first day of school!  Ta-Da!

As if my Liebster Award post last week wasn't enough about me, I am also super pumped to join the Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week 2013 and today's topic is "Let's Talk About Me!"  While most teachers are posting a list of ten things about them...  I pretty much exhausted that last week.  So instead, I'm sharing with you the letter I mail to my kiddos over the summer to get them excited about first grade (and if you want to read my random fact list, go check out this post).

Friday, August 9, 2013

five for friday {one of three until the end of the summer}

You can tell summer's getting close to being over--Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday is back (since last week!) and I am way too excited to get back on that boat.  I will make you wait no longer!

1. My younger sister was hired at the beginning of the summer in a school district down in Virginia to be a middle school German teacher.  Her dream job!  This past weekend, she officially made the big move, and my parents, other sister, Mark and I all went down to help.  The pups stayed with my grandparents while we were gone--and when we got home Sunday night, Scooter made it clear he was not happy with our decision to leave him behind.

2.  I fell off the getting ready for school wagon this week and really only accomplished one project this week (I'll be sharing that on Monday!).  I worked bits on my planner, class website and bought more supplies for my room (oops).  Here's a sneak peak at what I'm sharing on Monday!

3.  How about them Pirates!?  Mark and I went to our fifth game this season on Wednesday night--and  the Buccos brought home another win!  For this girl, this season has been magical.  The last time my dear Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season was twenty years ago!  I was almost six years old!  My whole family
  has always been huge Pirate fans, despite the less than stellar record, and we've been doing a lot of knocking on wood and shushing people (the Pirate Broadcasters!) when they start talking about October.  No matter how the Buccos are doing--you have to admit PNC Park is GORGEOUS.

4.  On Tuesday, my mom and I went shopping.  That's a bad idea.  She's known in our family as the "Coupon Queen" and since getting married, I've been designated the "Coupon Princess."  We can get pretty competitive when it comes to who is getting better deals--and even when we're getting a ton of really good deals, they add up to big spending!  On the bright side, I found a dress at Kohl's that I think I'm going to wear for the first day of school this year and I got a $15 area rug for my reading area at Target!

5.  I've been fighting with my Keurig the past couple days.  When I saw my gram over the weekend, she mentioned hers was starting a brew cycle and then shutting off before it did anything.  I told her I didn't know what to do...  and then got home, and mine promptly started doing that very thing!  Mark, my mechanical engineer who can fix almost anything, hasn't gotten a chance to look at it, so I could be completely overreacting.  I cleaned it (and the vinegar ran through no problem!) and now it won't work again.  I'm grumpy.  Girl needs her coffee!

Until Monday, have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

i just feel so gosh darn special.

How excited was I to discover a comment from Melissa over at See Bean Teach had nominated me for the Liebster Award.  The Liebster Award is for new, up and comers in the blogging world--blogs with fewer than 200 followers.  At fifteen, I surely fit that bill!  Upon further researching, "Liebster" is German for "dearest"--so someone must like my blog at least a little bit for me to get this!  Anyway.  The rules to accept this award are as follows:

1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions from your nominator.
3. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 5 more blogs with less than 200 followers.
5. Pose questions for your nominees.

I'm a sucker for random facts.  My apologies if this gets to be rather long winded.

| ONE |
The lovely Melissa from See Bean Teach nominated me for the award.

| TWO |
1. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?
I love my school.  Like, really love it.  It's hard for me to think of things that I would actually want to change.  For one, the ceilings in our classrooms are this awful popcorn textured plaster stuff that is probably quite old--there's holes in it in places, and it just looks really bad.  We can't really hang things from the ceilings, so I can't even try to direct attention away from it.  I also wish I had air conditioning in my classroom.

2. How/when did you decided to be a teacher?
Both of my parents are teachers.  I started playing school even before I had gone to school.  I think I "officially" decided in first grade that I would be a first grade teacher when I grew up.  My first grade teacher was spectacular.  She taught us sign language, was always singing, and showed us the most perfect way of coloring with markers.  I thought she was amazing, and probably wanted to be just like her.

3. What is your favorite pinspired project/recipe?
My favorite "pinspired project" that I have been working on isn't finished--my office area.  I've been pinning things for the past couple years for what I wanted for my "dream" office space, and we're currently working on that.  Check out my Office/Guest Room pinboard to see what I'm picturing.

4. How did you come up with your blog name?
I didn't want a name for the blog that screamed "Home Blog!!!" or "Teacher Blog!!!" or "Craft Blog!!!" or "Nutcase Writes Stuff Here!!!" so I went for something simple.  I know that the blog is going to be about what ever I'm doing...  whether that is things for first grade, organizing the closet again, baking Christmas cookies or going to Disney World again, I know I can write about those things because all my blog name tells you is who is writing.

5. What was your favorite summer job?
I worked as an Aerie Girl the entire time I was in college.  Looking back on that...  I actually really enjoyed working retail!  The Aerie I worked at was connected to an American Eagle, so when I was tired of pushing bras and undies (or organizing an undie table), I could always float over and fold denim or do a little browsing.  The discount didn't hurt, either!

6. How do you drink your coffee?
I drink my almond milk and sugar with a little coffee.  Or I get a peppermint mocha (hot or iced) at Starbucks.

7. What is your favorite children's book?
Oh, goodness--children's literature is my soft spot.  My mom has her masters in library science, and she really, really developed a love of books in me and both of my sisters.  I love the Arthur series by Marc Brown, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, anything by Dr. Seuss...  especially Horton Hears a Who! and Horton Hatches the Egg!  I'm probably forgetting something terribly dear to me as well.

8. Where do you like to buy "teacher clothes"?
Target, Old Navy, Kohl's...  I'll head to the Banana Republic, J. Crew and Gap Outlets a couple times a year to see what I can find.

9. How far do you commute to school?
Only about twenty minutes.  I used to drive an hour and a half both ways to my old school (that was NUTS).

10. What's been your favorite linky party so far?
Probably Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday.  Something so nice about being able to blab about five random things on Friday and have other people join you!

11. Do you bring home work on the weekends?
I try not to, but it almost always happens.  I'm hoping I can be better this year.

1. I have been to Disney World six times...  but the first time was when I was 15.
2. I need 7.5 hours of sleep every night to fully function well.  Six to seven hours will have me functioning.
3. I have been a vegetarian since the 7th grade.
4. Really sweet iced tea (with any combination of flavoring) is my biggest weakness in the summer.
5. My youngest sister is a food blogging pharmacy student.  The rest of us are teachers.
6. I listen to Christmas music when Mark isn't home in November.  And July.  And March.  Confession:  Year round.
7. I tutored a sweet little brother and sister in math when I was in college and cried on my last day when I had to quit to student teach.
8. I love organize things--but it takes me a really long time to get it just the way I want it.
9. The old Herbal Essences Shampoo coming back was one of my highlights of 2013.
10. My dog, Scooter, tries to protect me from things he is scared of--loud water, thunder and tall, skinny men.
11. I love chocolate.  Like, looooove chocolate.

| FOUR |
I nominate:
| FIVE |
Questions for you:
1. Who was your favorite teacher?
2. Why did you start blogging?
3. Do you have any pets?
4. What is your favorite cleaning product?
5. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
6. What is your favorite holiday to celebrate at school?
7. Which subject is your favorite to teach and why?
8. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be doing?
9. What is your favorite kind of cookie?
10. What is your favorite school supply?
11. How far do you commute to school?

Monday, August 5, 2013

if i were a rich man... shopping for my classroom

I mentioned last week that I went on a Teacher Store Date with my kindergarten teacher friend from school.  That adventure was a great success!  We had such a blast trying to find the exact things that would save us time and improve our classrooms.  Armed with a $100 budget, the two of us headed to Monroeville, PA to go to the Emperial Parent Teacher Store to shop to our hearts' contents!

This is what I bought at the teacher store.

1.  Desk Calendar - I wouldn't count this as a purchase, as I got it for free for spending $50.  I'm really excited to have one of these again--I have already filled in all of the important dates for the school year.  Hoping that this will also encourage me to keep my desk a little tidier!

2.  Wall Calendar - I needed to replace my old Target Dollar Spot calendar--it served three years for me, and was looking a little tattered for it.  This one is simple, while still being really fun!

3.  Dr. Seuss Manuscript Alphabet - This was something that I did not go to the store looking for, but when I saw it, I just knew I HAD to buy it.  While many schools are getting rid of handwriting, we're putting a renewed focus on it this year.

4.  Lost a Tooth Stickers - I have a lost tooth graph in my classroom, and these will add more fun to losing a tooth.  I intend to stick one on kiddos when they lose a tooth any time this year, as well as place one on the envelope we send the tooth home in if they lose them at school.

5.  Holographic Star Stickers - These are my new gold star stickers for my clip chart.  They are so pretty!

6.  Bees - These are to recreate my Mrs. B's Busy Bees job chart.  I'm going to make a new hive and try to set it up in a more organized fashion--and now, I don't have to make the bees!

7.  Lined Poster Boards - I bought three of these to laminate and use dry erase markers on to model writing during handwriting and write our class journal entries on.  My kindergarten teacher friend has one in her room that I have been jealous of since day one!

8.  Blueberry and Lime Scented Stamp Pads - Last year, my first graders loved anything scented.  I use Mr. Sketch Smelly Markers for checking papers, and I loved using smelly stamp pads for reward stamps on hands and papers.

9.  Smen - This was my impulse buy...  a Mocha Scented Smen (smelly pen, made by the Smencil company).  It smells delicious, and it makes writing stuff down just that more exciting for me.

10.  Birthday Pencils - I bought enough for each of my new first graders to get a fancy "Happy Birthday" pencil for their birthday.  One part of birthday presents done!

11.  Month Cupcakes - As I mentioned before, I am planning on redoing my birthday board this year.  I had settled on just making cupcakes exactly how I wanted them to look and was gearing up to do that, when I found these at the store.  Bought these, and saved me quite a bit of time!

All in all, including sales tax, I spent just over $60.  I'm aiming to not spend more than $150 on back to school stuff for my classroom--but I've already spent some more at Target and JoAnn Fabrics.

While the teacher store is a really great one stop place to get stuff for our rooms (and limited to our classrooms), I think I would rather do most of my BTS shopping at Target or JoAnn's.  The only downside is it is so much harder to stay on a budget, because I can always find things just for me, or for home, that I have to buy, too.  My favorite upside?  Coupons!

I bought a bunch of stuff at JoAnn's with a 25% off coupon this past weekend (including cardstock for my planner and bulletin board headings, some fantastic borders and fabric to back a bulletin board).  This weekend, JoAnn's is having a Teacher Weekend--you can get 25% off your purchase by showing your school I.D.  I've also been stalking the Target BTS sales, and ended up getting six pairs of scissors for less than a few dollars and four boxes of crayons for $.07.  Love it.

Everyone knows that teachers put so much of their own money into their classrooms.  During Back to School, do you set a budget for yourself?  Do you try to limit your spending?  Share in the comments!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

monthly goals: august!

It's August.  No longer can I say, "Oh, I go back to school next month."  I go back to school THIS MONTH.  I'm super excited to go back, but also dread getting up with my alarm clock and not being able to wander up to bed whenever I feel tired.  Today, I'm linking up with I {heart} Recess to try to increase my excitement level some more (I just need to remind myself I can still lollygag on the weekends) and share with you my goals for August and Back to School.

Personal Goal:
Run!  I've gotten pretty good at my running routine this summer and have done a pretty good job of running at least every other day.  I finished up C25K and have since started a 10K training program (and I'm still loving it!).  The Color Run is coming to Pittsburgh in October, and I'm getting really excited about that.  I'm also thinking about doing a couple other 5Ks.  

Organization Goal:
Our home office is almost done.  I just need to kick it into full gear, spend about a day in there, and we'll have a beautiful, functioning office/guest room/laundry/everything space.  My classroom library is about 90% finished, and my plan book needs to be printed out and bound.  Then, I will be "officially" organized.  Or something.

Planning Goal:
I've been slowly working all summer at getting everything ready for my first two units for the year.  It's time to get into high gear and get that done.  Then, I'll be able to move on to my other units.

Professional Goal:
We are getting a lot of new teachers this year at my school.  We also got a new principal at the very end of this past school year.  I loved everyone who moved on from our school, and I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone and working with them.

Student Goal:
This is my goal every year at this time:  Get my first graders loving school and asking if they have school tomorrow on Saturday nights.  The way I see it...  they have plenty of time when they get older to not like school.  First grade is not the time for that.  I'm going to make their learning fun, relevant and exciting.  It's better for me that way, too.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34  Confession:  I am a worry wart.  A big fat worry wart.  It's not a good look on anyone.

Head on over to I {heart} Recess and link up with your August and Back to School goals!