Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An Unexpected Phone Call

I got a phone call from the boss today.  That's always a bit troublesome as he's the kind of principal who, if he could, would forbid us to do anything teacher related during our vacations.  So the last thing he would ever do is call me over the summer unless it was important.  Uh oh.

This is my boss...the one patiently letting me shave his head last fall as we celebrated our CST results. He takes his job seriously, but not life.  He dresses up for Halloween, is an active participant in our water ballon fest, and loves to celebrate both his staff's and his students' successes - big and small.

Back to the unexpected phone call.....

A half dozen possiblities raced through my mind as I said hello.  All of them plausible.  New position to fill, class to collapse, someone resigned last minute.  I held my breath.  But once I heard his voice, I knew.  He is leaving us. I saw it coming.  I've had the pleasure of working for this man for a few years now both as a teacher and an instructional coach.  I was thrilled when he was honored with a regional Principal of the Year award earlier this spring.  But the writing was on the wall and I've just pretended not to notice it.  He's a great leader and great leaders aren't left at any one site for very long.   They are needed elsewhere.  In this case, it's as our district's Program Improvement Coordinator.  It's a job he's well suited for and I wish him the best.

So, the next hold my breath moment came when he started talking about who would be filling his shoes.  Breaking in a new principal...ugh.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear him say a name I knew well!  Heavy sigh of relief!

His replacement will do just fine.  She's taking lead of a strong, cohesive staff and a school with an undeniably rich culture.  Best of all, she knows us well as she's served as an instructional coach at our school for a few years.  She's compassionate, approachable, and has a good grip on the Common Core waters we're diving into this year.  We are lucky to have her at the helm. She will do well.

And we will be fine.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

100 Follower Giveaway and an Itsy-Bitsy Little Freebie

I'm not sure when it happened, but it did! Somewhere along the way, I've gathered 100 followers through Bloglovin'.  First, I want to say THANKS!  I've obviously not paid much attention to the numbers or else I might have noticed that little milestone sooner, but I really do appreciate those of you who take the time to visit my little blog.  I think it's time to celebrate with a giveaway!

I'll be choosing two winners.  Classroom Friendly Supplies is graciously supplying Prize #1!  Yep, that's right!  The first lucky winner will be choosing their very own incredible pencil sharpener just in time for the new school year.  You never know, it could be you.  So hop on over to to choose your favorite color.  I've just ordered three of them myself!  I'm getting black because, well because it's slimming.
(Please note that the Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener can only be shipped within the U.S.)

Prize #1 is pretty amazing, but Prize #2 is not so shabby either.  My second lucky winner will receive a $10 Target gift card.  Perfect for finishing up that Back to School shopping!  

Thanks again to my followers, both old and new!  I'm looking forward to starting a new school year with all of you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I promised a little freebie...  I have to start with a disclaimer here. First, I have very little in the way of artistic talent.  I am, quite possibly, the undisputed Queen of Stick Figures.  So it comes as no surprise that people never ask for my input on anything remotely art related.  My parents were artists. My children are artistically gifted.  Sadly, the gene skipped a generation. Second, as the title of this post states, this is a 'little' freebie.  A very little one.  An itsy-bitsy one.  Don't get your hopes up.  I'm not giving you the secret to get your students begging to learn about the periodic table of the elements.  I'm still working on that.  No, this is just my first attempt at making clipart.  See those little flowers up there in my giveaway button?  Yep.  I made those and I'm darn proud of them.  They are a step up from my usual stick figures and I'm giving them to you!  You feel blessed now don't you?  Honestly, they may very well be my first and last attempt at making clipart so cherish them.  If nothing else, print them out and hang them on your fridge for a day or two like you might a piece of student art work.  Then, for the first time in my life, I could honestly say that I have pieces of my art hanging somewhere.  You'd do that for me right?

Click on the happy little flower below and they're all yours!
For those of you heading back into the classroom, I wish you all a wonderful first day with your new kiddos!  For the rest of you, enjoy your last days of summer!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It!

I just realized that this will be the last Monday that I can sit around in my jammies until ...oh is it really 11:00 already?  Next Monday will be the first day that we're allowed back in our rooms and you can bet that I'll be waiting at the front gate to get in.  Despite my less than formal attire this morning,  I've been productive.  Enough so, that I've decided to link up with 4th Grade Frolic's Monday Made It.

I've decided to get a little bit more color coordinated in my classroom this year.  Could be all the pressure from seeing so many adorable classroom set-ups here in blogland the past week or two. Could be that I'm having fun watching my daughter get her first classroom set up.  Whatever the reason, it's contagious.  I just purchased a classroom decor bundle (and the matching paper pack) from Amelia over at Where the Wild Things Learn.  Here's what I've got going on so far:

I am revamping the signs in my classroom.  First stop:  cards for my job chart.  I'll be making student name cards once I get my class list.

Next up:  the other signs in my classroom.

I haven't used my teacher toolbox yet but I've decorated it.... twice.  Once I bought the matchy-match papers, I just had to redo the drawers on my toolbox.  And that leads, of course, to the need to paint the cabinet.  If only the wind would stop blowing for a few minutes, I could have this thing painted!

There will be more to come with my new coordinated paper but I need to give my printer a break and quite possibly more ink. I also printed and laminated these 7 Habits bookmarks from Little Lovely Leaders.  Not only are they adorable, but they are free as well!  Still deciding whether or not to add some ribbon.

And finally, my brag tags.  I'm having so much fun designing them for my grade level team.  Cutting them out is another story.  I still need to do some trimming and find my hole punch.  My goal is to have the entire set finished so we can show the kids all the different tags to be earned throughout the year.  I'm about a third of the way done.  I'd be on track to finish on time except I keep adding to my list of tags I want to make.  

So that's my Monday Made It.  I've got to turn the laminator off and get some packing done for our last camping adventure of the summer.  Head over to 4th Grade Frolics and see what everyone else has been up to.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Snapshots or Making the Most of Summer's End!

July 27. . .Can it really be the end of July already?  That means I have this weekend and next before it's time to kick my Back to School routine into full gear.  It seems that I've conveniently misplaced that To-Do list I wrote up a month and a half ago which means I might as well just focus on having fun these last 9 days of summer break.  I think I did a pretty job of it this week so I'm linking up again with Miss Nelson for her Saturday Snapshots.  I apologize in advance.  I got a bit carried away with picking photos this week!

My husband and I took Aggie (wild one #2) out for lunch.  A year ago this wouldn't have been possible with all her anxiety issues, but she's almost a 'normal' dog now and actually seems to enjoy going out in public.  After lunch, we walked down to the waterfront, but it was blustery cold so we cut our stroll short.  I know what you're thinking...blustery cold in July? You've no doubt heard the quote: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."  Trust me.

This is one of our dog beaches.  Um, where's the beach?
Monday was spent in Sausalito visiting with my long lost, very first teaching partner from back in my Texas days. Fourteen years is far too long between visits!  Here are a few photos from our day:

Fort Baker's view of the Golden Gate. I never get tired of seeing this.

We didn't actually see the One Million Acts of Kindness guy, but it serves as a good reminder.

We're still eating salt water taffy.  The cake batter flavor is amazing!

Buddies with the One Million Acts of Kindness guy?
The owner of this bike was riding 9,000 miles to stomp out bullying.
Left to right: My daughter (the newest member on my teaching team), moi in the middle, and Jeanie (first teaching partner from Texas).

Tuesday found me at the Lakeshore Learning Outlet.  Who knew such a place existed?  You have to hunt for the good deals, but they are there! Hours later, my daughter and I managed to fill two shopping carts with goodies for her new classroom.  

Shopping cart #1
I did do some work this week.  Okay, it's not really 'work'. It's fun. I'm hooked on making brag tags for our fifth grade team.  Here's just one of the MANY that I've made this week:

And what would summer be without MORE camping?  The husband and I decided to try taking all three wild ones for a night up on the river.  It went great, not at all what I had expected!

The Wild Ones: Tucker, Aggie, and Gus. We NEVER get a picture like this with all three just chillin'.
Getting these 3 to sit next to each other without wrestling is nearly impossible.
It looks like Tucker (background) has fallen asleep while standing.
Actually, he just hates being wet more than being gritty so he dries off in the sand.
Lucky us.
Gus handled all the water retrievals.

Aggie taking a much needed break.
Departing is such sweet sorrow.  They're pleading for just one more toss.

Tuck obviously isn't ready to head back up to the campsite.

This little guy crawled through our site.  Loved his enormous shadow.
Phew, you made it to the end of my week.  One more week of summer fun coming up and then it's back to Room 24.  Which isn't a bad thing as I'm itching to get back in my classroom. For now though, I'm off to see what everyone else has been up to this week.  Hop on over to Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! and take a peek for yourself.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Snapshots!

It must be Saturday because it's time to link up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! for her Saturday Snapshots linky.  I know I say this every week, but this is my favorite linky.  It was wonderful that Miss Nelson started it during the summer.  We're all (well almost all) out of our classrooms and our cameras are focused on the other half of who we are. . . the non-teachery half.  It's been great getting to know everyone through the snapshots of their lives.

Okay, on to my week in pictures. . .

This was my view with coffee cup in hand this morning.  It's a quiet morning on the Strait.  Starting off a little bit gray with the marine layer, but that will burn off in no time.  It's supposed to be in the mid 80's today.

For the moment though, the temperature is a comfy, cool 50 degrees! 

We spent Thursday with the grandkiddo.  We went to the carousel and Little Farm at Tilden Park and had a picnic in the Berkeley hills.  Check out that look of pure adoration on my husband's face...she has him wrapped around her little finger.

School stuff is slowly starting to creep its way into my days now.  Which is really okay as I'm starting to feel that itch to get back into my classroom.  I picked up these cute tins at Michael's for about a dollar each.  Love them! 

My order from Pick Your Plum arrived this week.  I got one set of these for my daughter and one for myself.  

I recently bought all three mentor sentence units from Ideas by Jivey.  I've decided to make a binder for each ten week unit.  The first one is done.  I made copies of everything I need for the kids and it's all in here.  I can't wait to give this a try!

And finally. . .  Gus has been waiting patiently for me to finish this post.  He and the other two wild ones need some play time.  Experience has taught me that a tired Aussie is a good Aussie, so it's time to grab some frisbees and the Chuck-it and walk down to the beach.

Have a fabulous Saturday and be sure to check out this week's edition of Saturday Snapshots!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sweet Deals

One of my earliest memories of Back to School Shopping (I'm capitalizing it because it's like a holiday season for me), was picking out my new lunch box.  I was so excited, but a bit overwhelmed by having to choose only ONE of those shiny metal lunchboxes.  This is the one I settled on:


Well, it's now MANY years later and I still love Back to School Shopping season!  This season is even more fun as I'm helping my daughter set up a classroom of her very own.  She was a reading intervention teacher last year, but is joining the fifth grade team this August.  

Here are a few sweet deals we found yesterday:

This week, Staples has a couple of 50% off coupons.  One is for Paper Mate writing products.  

These Paper Mate medium point Flair pens are a personal favorite of mine.  They were $14 in the store (I will say I would never pay THAT much for them).  With the 50% off coupon in hand, I can now grade papers with a bit of color for only $7.  

Next on the list was Avery labels.  I hand out 10 labels to each of my students and have them label their consumable folders, notebooks, and workbooks. If you're an Avery fan, the 50% off is a great deal.  I bought the Avery 8160 White Inkjet labels.  With the coupon, I paid $6.50.

Staples also had a dollar deal that I grabbed.  I need this frequently:

The last deal was from Amazon.  My students use their individual white boards constantly, so they go through dry erase markers like crazy.  We're given 3 class sets of markers during the year which is wonderful, but that isn't often enough for us!  Amazon is offering a dozen Expo chisel tip black dry erase markers (low odor - yay!) for $6.99.  If you have Amazon Prime, there's no added shipping cost, so that's just over fifty cents each.

And finally, I'm planning on making some punch cards and magnets for my classroom.  I recently bought another Groupon for Vistaprint ($17 for $70 of product).  From now through July 22nd, Vistaprint is having a 50% off sale.  I haven't read the fine print yet, but wouldn't it be nice if it applied to everything I want?  That would mean that I could get $140 worth of awesomeness for only $17!  Add the 7 Day Select free shipping to that and what a deal!  You know where I'm heading right now!

Happy shopping!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Snapshots!

Back again for another link up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! and her marvelous Saturday Snapshots.  It's so much fun getting little peeks into the lives of fellow bloggers!  There are some great pictures posted by everyone this week.

I'm going to start with someone I adore. This is the little being that calls me "Gan-ma". She'll be two years old in September. 

Next stop, the beach.  I LOVE the beach.

I have this thing about taking pictures that include reflections in them.  I'll have to dig a few out to share sometime.  This is me taking a picture of, well of me, in the reflection of my husband's the beach of course.  

Another of my favorite subjects to

My daughter and I went camping up on the Russian River again this week.  I only took a few pictures while there, as we were too busy having fun.  

I love watching the fog roll in.  In California, they call it the marine layer.

We played cards for hours!

... and we ate plenty of these!

Tucker the camping dog came along of course.

Alrighty, that's my week in pics!  Run over to Miss Nelson's and feast your eyes on some fabulous photos.