Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bye Bye July!


You guys. Tomorrow is August.
Many of you (me) may be asking yourselves "Where did my summer go?"

For me, June was kind of a frivolous month. The end of the school year and finishing my master's degree made the last weeks of school a crazy blur. June was for a little rest and relaxation. I caught up on a couple of house-projects, planted flowers, and purged a TON of paperwork out of my home office. 
June was sunny and full of possibility.

July made us try a little harder to enjoy those sweet summery days. (Well, if you're in Ohio you've enjoyed rain, extreme heat, rain, storms, more heat, rain, borderline chilly fall-temps, and probably more rain before this day is over.)  If you're like me you've been staying up late on weeknights. Sleeping in if you could and you wanted to. Covering the kitchen table with glitter and Mod Podge while you craft away for a Made it Monday project. Feeling no guilt in spending hours on the computer pouring through teaching blogs & getting ideas. Trying out Pinterest dinner recipes that have brought rave reviews & (one time) raised eyebrows (sorry about that weird chicken sauce, babe!)
 (which is sometimes at 2:30 because it's summer and there is FUN to be had)!

We've been watching back-to-school commercials since June. The displays at the grocery-superstores are already looking haggard and picked over. We've trekked to Michael's and Hobby Lobby to see signs of CHRISTMAS for crying out loud! We're doing mental countdowns of how many days are left and what we need to do/buy/make for our rooms this year. 

Mama-teachers, I don't know HOW you do it! Not only is there such TREMENDOUS work to be done to get OURSELVES ready to head back into the classroom, you're getting your sweet LITTLES ready to go, too! School supplies, clothes, backpacks, lunchboxes, hand sanitizer, everything! Big high-fives all around! 

For us, back to school signifies a time of new
New kids, new teachers, new strategies from the new teaching books you bought over the summer. 
Maybe you're teaching a new grade or have a student with a new set of challenges.
Maybe you're heading into uncharted waters by implementing the Common Core. Maybe you're starting the year with your very first classroom. I always get a little excited about the opportunity to start the new year so fresh and so clean clean! 

What is your favorite thing about going back to school? 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord!

I'm linking up with Michelle at Fabulous in First for her Sunday Smorgasbord link up!

My life is NOTHING, if not RANDOM!

This week, I got to spend some time with my SUPERFLY nephew. He is so wonderful. Full of questions, funny comments, and more questions! We went to the public library on Monday since it was raining.
He was set on getting a book about ANTS. We picked a fiction and a non-fiction book, among many others. He was so proud of the books that he chose!

Tuesday night, the Hubster and I set out for an after-dinner drive.
This time of year is so wonderful for cool, evenings in the country. 
The smell of fresh-cut hay and (lately) freshly rained-on fields just smells like home to me.
It began to rain as we left but I knew it would only be temporary. 
I grabbed my camera as we headed out the door.
One good thing about a summer of rain is that I've been able to see so many RAINBOWS.
Call me silly, but I still get a little giddy when I see a big, bright rainbow in the sky.
That evening provided me with some pretty shots of clearing summer skies.

Wednesday night was all about family! My cousin Lauren was getting married this weekend and everyone got together for dinner to celebrate my Grandma's 85th birthday. 
My Dad & Sister. 

There is no shortage of cute kids in my family!

These three. Nothing but laughs. Constantly.

The bride-to-be! Loving on Logan.

Cupcakes were a HIT with the kiddos!

My gorgeous Grandma! Fabulous, as always!

Lots of pretties for her birthday!

There was strawberry pie, too! 


Becks meeting Logan for the first time. Precious!
Thursday I headed to my classroom for the FIRST TIME since school got out!
I must say, the break was wonderful!
Now I'm ready to get back in there. I'm getting excited for the new school year.
This is definitely the "before" picture!
I also made a really tasty, SUPER easy dessert: apple tarts!
I took a sheet of puff pasty and cut it in half.
I sliced apples, really thin, and mixed them with brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little lemon juice.
I piled the apples on the pastry sheets & in about 15 minutes I had THESE little babies:
Add a little ice cream and oh, my goodness! 

Friday was another day with Ian. I love him so!
We went out to lunch and headed to our local bike-walk-run trail for a nature walk.
We saw birds, trees, flowers, and looked for fish and turtles with no luck.
He had a blast!
Love adventures with him.
Saturday was wedding time! Love getting our family together to celebrate! 
How cute is Ian in his little suit!
They brought champagne flutes of milk with cookies on top for the kids for the "toasts".
Such a cute idea!
Lauren was so thoughtful and had so many special touches for her big day!
A beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple!

And here we are! Sunday!
Our plans include yardwork, and maybe a movie. 
It's Sunday funday! Let's GO!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's Throwback Thursday!

I'm linking up with Cara at The First Grade Parade for the Throwback Thursday linky!

My throwback post is from November 13, 2012 and it's about giving thanks.
You know, over the past few weeks I've had quite a few moments in which I have felt extremely blessed. I think it is so important to recognize the times in which life is SO GOOD and for me, I like to take that time to just be still for a moment and offer a "thank you" to the powers that be.

This post reminds me that I am indeed, so very blessed.


Social media, as annoying and ridiculous as it sometimes is, can be kind of neat, too.

I'm really liking all of these "I'm thankful for..." posts I've been seeing. Maybe I'm just glad that they're not yet-another passive-aggressive rant or political statement. Maybe I'm feeling extra-thankful myself.

This post isn't about a cool recipe I've found (even though I AM working on a post for that!). It's not about a new item I've created for TPT (although I AM working on some of those, too!). It's simply to express a few things I'm very thankful for, today, and every day.
My family

 We are usually loud & crazy and all over the place. Whether I'm with family from my Mom or Dad's side- we are always laughing. I can definitely say that I got my sense of humor from my family!

I was so fortunate to have had both of my Grandfathers until my mid-twenties. The memories I have of both of these extraordinary men are precious and plentiful. My Grandpa G taught me how to fish, hunt for arrowheads, tend a garden, and fix things.  My Grandpa Bob was one of the sweetest, kindest, gentlemen you could ever know. A man strong in his convictions, he taught me to always do what was right and just. He always wore a wool cap and smelled of Aramis.

My Grandmothers are amazing, as well. My Mom's Mom is the family historian..she has kept a journal since she was 14 and has every one! If anyone in the family has a question about a date or event, they go to my Grandma Beck. My Dad's mother is the busiest 85 year-old I know! She is glamorous, driven, and always so happy to see everyone! Any fanciness I had growing up is from her. My cousins and I used to joke that she would chase us around only to put bows in our hair!

"A child needs a grandparent, anybody's grandparent, to grow a little more securely into an unfamiliar world" ~Charles and Ann Morse

My Job

I am so thankful to be able to do what I do. Teaching children is a joy. Seeing the progress they make over the span of a year is so gratifying and my 22 first-graders make me laugh every single day. They are eager to hear me explain things like place value and adjectives. They want to impress me with their writing and reading. I do my best to fill their days with love, learning, and laughter. I'm so lucky to be able to do this for a living. I truly believe it is what I was meant to do.

What are YOU thankful for? Meditate on that thought for a few minutes. It makes my heart smile.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Catching up! What a WEEK! (and 2 days!)

It feels like I haven't blogged in ages! I have a lot to catch up on!


I'd started to feel a little guilty for blowing up my friends' Facebook news feeds with pleas for donations & celebratory notifications when donations came in. Luckily, my project for 2 iPad Mini tablets was funded in 6 days! I highly recommend Donors Choose to get projects funded for your classroom.
What a blessing!
It feels really good to know that my friends and family believe in what I'm doing. So much that they're willing to put up some of their own money to benefit my students. So commendable! I want to say something about a village but you've heard all that before. It's just really refreshing & awesome to see something come to fruition before my eyes!
I found out on Friday evening & was absolutely FLOORED!
Seriously, it was 6:00 and I hadn't even got out the SUITCASES for our vacation (we were leaving early the next morning). I wrote a thank-you letter to those who had sponsored me, did a little celebration dance (think Carlton mixed with Pee-Wee Herman mixed with James Brown), and packed my laptop away & begun packing. That night was kind of a blur!
I should be receiving the iPads around the start of the school year. I welcome any recommendations for first-grade appropriate apps & ways to use these tablets. I am SO excited to get started with them!

Like I said, we were leaving for vacation the next morning, and I somehow, amidst the hustle & bustle of getting ready, we made it out the door ON TIME and with everything we needed.
We managed to avoid construction delays & my Dad & Grandpas would be glad to know that we made "good time" and found ourselves at our super-trendy-hotel at just the right time. (What a deal! I used Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" option and scored sweet hotels for cheap on our trip! Woot!)

We were spending the first two nights of our vacation in Maryland at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia at the Saturday & Sunday Phish shows. Saturdays show was sold-out and we were worried that we would't be able to find tickets, but luck was on our side and we got in without a problem! Then, as dark clouds descended and a heavy rain fell over the crowd (it was actually pretty awesome because it was SO HOT out!) we managed to find ourselves on a newly-sodded hillside under some trees that blocked the "raining-sheets-of-water" effect that the clouds produced.

Unfortunately, the running theme of this year's Phish tour has been RAIN. They've had to cancel a show in Toronto because of localized flooding & this-past Friday in Chicago, they had to close out their show only 2 songs into their 2nd set, because of lightning & rain. It would take a LOT more than that to slow down the faithful Phish followers, so, as it always seems to go, people just adjusted to being soaked & continued to embrace the feeling & the flow of the show. It was great!

During the day on Sunday we ventured out around our hotel for something to stock our coolers & a bite for lunch. A recommendation from a guy at the liquor store (travel tip: ask the locals! They know where the good eats are!) led us to a GAS STATION for the BEST tacos I've had in a long time! We went to R&R Taqueria which has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives!

Sunday's Phish show was awesome! We were so tired by the end, but it was the BEST kind of tired! Our super-rad friend Erin stayed with us for the weekend and although we were sad to see her head back to Ohio, we were anxious to get to the BEACH!

We arrived at our hotel on Monday afternoon & were seriously dorking out about seeing the ocean! The Hubs did ALL the driving & took a well-deserved nap while I unpacked & tried my best to make myself look like I wasn't on-and-off napping in the car all day. Monday night we found a great Mexican restaurant near our hotel & then headed to the coast. We took in all the craziness that is Virginia Beach! The souvenir shops, the loud music, the kids,  the families, the different languages you hear as you walk, sometimes shoulder to shoulder, among the crowds. It's summertime and the livin's easy.
I love it.

Tuesday was our first official "beach day" and after a quickie breakfast we were off! We spend the day splashing & sunning (I used SPF 70, Mom!) and just enjoying everything.
I must say, in the last week or so, I've had MANY occasions in which I've made myself stop-- and enjoy the moment. I'd say a little "thank you" of gratitude and smile.
THAT feels good.
Having that feeling on the beach, well, that's REALLY good.

Wednesday, in an effort to stay out of the sun if possible (we were a little sore) we ventured out onto the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  We stopped at a visitor's center and got some directions to a local beach.

We happened upon Cape Charles, VA. What a cute little town!

Lots of sweet & savory balsamic vinegars. We brought some home! So good!

The Eastern Virginia shoreline. Beautiful!

A little rain shower popped up. Luckily, we were under a pavilion on a pier!

My Mr. He gets the participation award for willingly going on all these random adventures!

We stopped at the Brown Dog Ice Cream Co. What a fun little place!

This is a waffle ice cream sandwich! One side had milk chocolate and the other side had peach-blueberry swirl. It was definitely the kind of thing that you have on VACATION! 

Back on the bridge we went. We had plans that evening in Virginia Beach!

We made a stop at one of the "islands" and watched some fishermen at work. We saw stingrays & some kind of GIANT fish swimming near the rocks under the pier.

We headed back towards Virginia Beach and found our destination, just off Shore Drive: a sunset dolphin cruise! What a beautiful night!

 Thursday started out with a trip to O'Doodle Doo's Donuts! A place I'd read about through the Urbanspoon app on my phone. It's a little donut place with some amazing flavors!

We got (top to bottom): toasted coconut, chocolate-banana, rocket ship (chocolate-on-chocolate), red velvet, and 2 maple-pecan-bacon. Holy moly, these were good! We packed them away in the cooler & headed back to the beach for one last day of sun, sand, and surf.

King Neptune statue. A Virginia Beach destination!

What a wonderful week we had! We headed home EARLY on Friday morning! My hubby had golf league at 5 that night and wanted to get back in time. He's nuts!

Again, we managed to avoid traffic & construction on the way home & the addition of some new 70 mph highways made the ride through the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia kind of exciting! 

...and all-too-soon we returned to the land of unopened mail, a cat who had escaped when my Mom was letting the dog out (she finally came back into the house YESTERDAY...crazy cat), sand on everything, and a mountain of dirty laundry. 
Oh! And to a BRAND-NEW nephew! My brother & his wife had their second son, named Logan Benjamin. He's my second nephew and an absolute DOLL!

Stretching! So precious!

Logan's proud Daddy (my little brother) and big brother Ian.


It was nice to get back.
We've slowly assimilated back into day-to-day life with the sweet memories of an adventurous week 
We needed that.

Now my mind is starting to wander into 'back to school' territory. 
I'm almost ready to get back into my classroom
I'll make it in there this week.
I'm going to bring home my rocking chair & stool for a painting-makeover. I'm thinking bright colors!
I'm re-charged and ready to get creative!

Have a great week, everyone!