Tag Archives: summer vacation

Muddled Seasons

That blogging resolution I made didn’t last long.  The last time I posted, it was WINTER, and the ground was still covered with snow.  Things started getting crazy busy in March, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t feel very motivated to talk about anything school related outside of school. (Just one of those seasons of life.)

SPRING was consumed by my son’s first year of varsity tennis

and my daughter’s last few months of high school.

Banquets, concerts, graduation, parties, HER party, and then SUMMER was finally here.

 Finally, time to rest.  Rest involves walking the dogs twice a day.

Reading every night before bed.

Practicing my lettering over coffee.

Decorating my Erin Condren planner.

I had one week I went on three consecutive lunch/dinner dates with friends.

After the 4th of July, I started getting some ideas for my classroom. I have been in the same room for six years now, and it is starting to getting a little cluttered.

I decided to set a budget of $100 to revamp my classroom’s decor/vibe/aesthetic. I  figure if I’m going to have to be there, I need it to be a place a WANT to be.  It has been fun perusing Pinterest and Instagram and then bargain-shopping and up-cycling some random finds.

Look for more posts now that I’m back from a short trip down south to visit my cousin and her family.

Until then, enjoy your final weeks of summer vacation!

Ahh, That’s Good Stuff

Finishing a book I am going to read with my class next year and wiping a tear from my eye, I say out loud (and wake the dog), “Ah, they are going to love this!”

Getting to the most exciting part of our novel and watching their faces light up when they realize the truth about the protagonist, I say to myself (so they don’t realize they’ve been fooled into learning), “Ah, this is why I love teaching.”

Looking at the calendar and realizing there’s only seven more days of school and one more Monday, I say to myself (because I need all the encouragement I can get), “Ah, I can do this.”

Making a Summer “To Do” list and purposely including things like read, relax, lay out, ride my bike, walk the dog, I say to the dog (who is, of course, begging to go on a walk), “Ah, Summer….”

Letting my boy be semi-responsible for his diabetes-care and sending him a friend’s house for five hours on a Friday night, I say to his sister (as we shop, eat, and talk in peace) “Ah, this is nice.”

Checking my boy’s blood sugar at 5 a.m. and getting a decent number, I say to myself (so I do not wake him), “Ah, I can sleep a few more hours.”

Waking up late on a Saturday morning to bright sunlight and stretching a good stretch, I say out loud (coming up with no other way to describe my sleep), “Ah, I slept hard.”

Waiting for the Keurig to finish, pouring in my Friendly Farms Vanilla Caramel creamer from Aldi’s’, and taking that first sip of coffee, I say out loud (to no one), “Ah, that’s good stuff.”

Looking at  the sink full of dirty dishes and walking away to grab my laptop, I said “Ah, it can wait. I haven’t blogged in a while.”




Little Garden of Horrors

After a stretch of rainy days and some flooding in the area, and then a heat wave that lasted almost a week, the Little Garden That Could did what gardens do best: Got a little out of control.

You see, late last week we were all down with the flu. Finally, on the third day we weakly ventured outside in the “cool” of the evening.  We knew we needed to  water the garden since it had been days since we had even looked at it.

This is what we found.  Our sweet Little Garden That Could has turned into a monster.

Yikes! Pumpkin takeover!

Let’s take a trip down memory lane….

Day 1

Day 1 This is where we started.


2 weeks old. This is a shot from my bedroom window. I could not resist looking outside to admire the garden at least three times a day!


This is probably about 3 weeks old. I think right around Father’s Day.

7 weeks old. RIP big pumpkins. I had no choice but to sacrifice them when I rearranged things last night.  Lesson learned. Looks like next year we will be expanding! (Insert an "I told you so!" from Ian here.)

7 weeks old. RIP big pumpkins. I had no choice but to sacrifice them when I rearranged things last night.

So, lesson learned.  Looks like we will be expanding our garden next year.  (Insert Ian’s “I told you Mom!” here)

We can now check “Successful Garden” off our Bucket List for this summer.  I made a salad with the lettuce yesterday and I’m having green beans tonight!

And on a related note…. because the kids and I watched the Teen Beach Movie the other night on Disney and talked about why musicals are simply THE BEST…. here is a favorite show tune of mine!  

Bracketing My Time

School starts on Aug. 21st, which means I start even sooner than that!

The past week has been a blur with the flu hitting us hard (Ian was hit the hardest due to the added bonus of diabetes.)

Today the heat seems to have let up, everyone is feeling pretty much back to normal, and we are going to get out of the house! Hooray for that!

This week the kids will be with their dad for several days and I have a lot of downtime.  I decided that I need to come up with some sort of schedule (with a little flexibility of course). I know I need to start thinking about school a bit and I need to catch up on blogging and I want to finish a book and this house is a mess and I want to do some back-to-school shopping and I would like to lay out a bit and catch up on my DVR…..Oh so many goals!

I’ve been advised to bracket my time so I don’t get too overwhelmed or consumed by any one thing.

So here is what I came up with:

7:00-8:00 Rise and shine, Breakfast, Coffee and Words with Friends

8:00-9:00 Shower and clean up the kitchen/bedroom/bathroom – One room per day.

9-10:30 Work on school work.  We will be reading all new reading selections this year since I have the same students as last year.  I am also doing two new novels (When Zachary Beaver Came to Town and Crispin).  I won’t be reading Crispin until the 3rd nine weeks and will do so in conjunction with the other 7th grade teachers I’ll be doing inclusion with, so that can wait.  I already read both books but I need to come up with a general plan and start a file. If you have any great ideas or links, please leave a comment!

10:30-11:30 Run any errands and/or take care of weeding and the garden.

11:30-3:30 (Nice solid chunk of time, huh?) Read, eat lunch, lay out,

3:30-4:15 Work with the new iPads!  I get to pick them up on Monday and then the fun begins!

4:15-5:30 Dinner outside while catching up on blogs

5:30-8:30 Whatever I feel like doing….bike ride, walking, more reading, shopping, calling my sister…..

8:30 – Probably gonna need to shower again!

9:00 – DVR time. I ‘ll shamelessly admit to my three guilty pleasures: Big Brother, The Bachelorette, and Days of Our Lives

11:00 – LIGHTS OUT, PHONE AWAY!  If I am getting up at 7:00, I’m going to need to be strict with my bedtime.

Do you think I can stick to this plan? I’m going to try. I don’t have another chunk of time like this the rest of the summer. I need to make the most of it.

The Little Garden That Could

Ian has been bugging me for years if we could make a garden.  This will be our fifth summer here and I finally said yes.

First of all, our yard is on a corner lot with a very small back yard so it is not the most conducive to a garden (or sadly, a trampoline, or sadder yet, a pool.)

Secondly, I figured I would be much like the Little Red Hen and “do it myself.” (Dee doesn’t do hard labor any labor and Ian bails on me sometimes.)

Thirdly, it’s a lot of work and summer is for relaxing.

Lastly, he doesn’t even eat vegetables! (Not a good reason, I know….)

So, on June 1st (our first day of summer vacation together), I picked them up from their dad’s and the first thing out of his mouth was “Can I dig a hole today?”

I sat on that idea for 24 hours, considered my options, and on Sunday morning, around 10:00, I gave that boy a shovel.

We picked a spot behind our garage (which needs painted really bad and will be by the end of the week!)

Ian wanted to “Go big or go home”  and was shooting for the world’s largest garden, but I limited it to a 6 x 6 foot space (with a lesson on perimeter and area).

Fortunately, we were blessed with a lovely day – partly sunny, mid 70s, low humidity and good attitudes from both children. (Dee even helped with this project!)

This took us about 3 hours to dig and prepare (the best that amateur gardeners prepare a garden). Our tools were limited…two tiny shovels, a rake and a garden weeder.

After the ground was all dug up and we were fully committed to planting vegetables, or replanting grass, we took a break and relaxed. “Relaxed”, if you have a 10-year-old Ian for a son, means playing 1-on-1 soccer and riding our bikes.

After dinner, we headed to the store to buy the vegetables.  There was a big debate if we should get seeds or if we should get plants. Dee was not very interested in the selection process but Ian studied the seed packets and the days to maturity and the directions for planting.

He based his decisions on the following questions:

  1. How long until we see results?
  2. How much digging will I get to do?
  3. Do you think I will eat this?

We ended up leaving with 2 tomato plants, 4 pepper plants, and seeds for carrots, lettuce, green beans, watermelon and corn. We also bought some seeds for decorative pumpkins and sunflowers which we will plant somewhere else.

We were still planting at almost 9 p.m. but it is pretty much a finished garden. (I will need to go back in and do a little more digging of grass today.)

Before bed, Ian said, “Do you think we will have to pull weeds tomorrow? I bet we will!”

But the quote of the day was when he said, “We so own a part of nature now!”

This should be a fun experience and adventure.  Stay tuned for more pics and updates on “The Little Garden That Could.”

Keeping with My Theme


“S” is for summer vacation, sea, sand, seagulls, staying up late, snacks at the pool, and snoozing in the sun.

Oh yeah, and “See ya!”

We will be at the beach all week.

I have already promised myself to be “blog free.”

(Who knew blogging could be so addictive?!?)

A Happy Ending

Today was our “graduation” for the 8th graders and I just have to share the most special moment because, honestly, it’s been on my mind all day long. I can’t stop thinking about it and smiling.

One of my students came through the line to shake hands with all the staff and receive his certificate. Bless his heart, he was not dressed up like the others and he was trying to hide behind a nervous smile. He reached out, looked me in the eye, shook my hand with a solid handshake, and said, “Good luck next year.”

Here I am shaking hands with 100 kids, many of which have no idea how to shake hands and I’m saying things like:
“Nice job, bud.”
“You look so nice today.”
“Have a great summer.”

And this boy….this boy who’s driven me just short of crazy many days this year…..
This boy who randomly makes me shake my head, roll my eyes, breathe deeply, count to ten, pray for sanity, silently chuckle….
This boy who has surprised me with answers, delighted me with questions, made connections I didn’t dream students in my Resource Room could make, and even made me question myself at times….
This boy who came back to say good-bye two more times before he finally left today….
This boy wished me good luck….

I so didn’t see that coming. It made me shake my head, blink back a tear, and smile. It made my day.

My 16th Last Day of School

I originally wrote this 3 years ago but I felt it was worth sharing here on the last day of my 16th year.

As I end my 13th year of teaching and I head back to the regular classroom next year, I asked my students who the best teachers were this year and why.

My favorite student quickly responded with the name of her government teacher. I asked her why and she said, “She made things hard to forget.”

That is a profound statement from an average girl.

Think about it.

She could have just as easily said, “She makes things easy to remember.” But she didn’t. And I believe there is a HUGE difference between the two. It speaks volumes about not only the kind of teacher this woman is, but the impact any one person can have on another.

It’s been a hard day today, saying good-bye to students who have touched my life in so many ways. I told someone recently that I figured out there are some weeks that I spend more time with some of my students than I do with my own two children.

There are those students I will remember, those I will want to to forget, and those I will never forget.

Who Would You Rather Be?

Each and every thing we do
can be remembered
or forgotten –
big or small,
life changing
or seemingly trivial,
as the first day of the rest of someone’s life,
or as the beginning of someone’s end.

Each word,
or lack thereof,
can be forever etched
in someone’s mind
or heart
or soul.

Or simply brushed off
as an annoying buzz,
a flicker of movement,
or a passing glance,
immediately becoming part of the past,
never to be thought of
or spoken of

A time will come
when you remember something
or someone
and you will smile.

A time will come
when you forget about something
or someone
and you will smile.

“Worth remembering”
gives something value.

can bring peace.

“Never forgetting”
is infinite
and unending…

Who would you rather be?

Someone who is easy to remember?

Or someone who will never be forgotten?


Hello Summer 2012!!
(A beautiful day spent hiking with the kids last summer –
a day that I won’t soon forget.)

Non-Bored Games (Board Games in the Classroom)

I play board games all the time with my kids at home. We have at least two dozen board games in our downstairs closet alone. I always buy card games for their stockings. My step-mom who is a retired speech therapist buys my kids games every Christmas and on birthdays. To be honest, we did not own a video game system until this past Christmas when I finally broke down and bought a Wii.

I remember playing Uno with my Grandma P., Yahtzee with my Grandma R., and croquet with Grandpa R. (Ok, so it’s not a board game but it’s old school and he deserves credit). We always played games at my dad’s on Friday nights. (Kerplunk, Clue, and Pig Mania a.k.a. Pass the Pigs were a few favorites). I guess games continue to be a tradition in our family.

Right now, at home, my kids’ favorite game is Boggle. What teacher doesn’t love that?? When my 9-year-old son comes up with words like “value” and “peace” I am quite impressed. Just last night he asked if we would count “homophones.”

There isn’t much time for such fun at school, but today was our last full day of school. With no homework and all our assignments wrapped up, what could I do with my 1st period study hall? Seems like the perfect time for a board game!

I love to see how kids (8th graders) handle themselves in these situations.

Do they read the directions?
Can they take turns?
Do they use strategy?
Are they sore losers?

Many of my students don’t play board games at home with their families. In an age of video games and hectic schedules, this should not surprise me. And it really doesn’t. It just makes me a little sad.

Today we played Pictureka! Six of us gathered around a table and right away, based on a little apprehension and a few grumbles, I knew that they had never played this game before. By the end of the first round, we were laughing and having a great time. Everyone was bummed when the period ended.

Do I need to justify that this game can be educational? I don’t think anyone would actually question my choice on the last day of school in a study hall with with six 8th graders and all our work turned in. (At least I wasn’t showing a video or letting them run wild in the halls!?)

But just in case:

  • This game is great for visual processing as it requires students to scan for objects and match pictures.
  • It also requires students to find items which fit into particular categories. (Ex. Stinky Things, Things in Space, Things in a Game, etc.)
  • And like all board games, reading and following directions, social skills, and strategy all apply.

Maybe this is what I’ll look like tomorrow on the last day of school!
(Taken from the actual game Pictureka!)

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