From kindergarten to college drop off...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

I feel like I'm a pretty balanced, strong person.  I've overcome many obstacles in life at various times and have always come through stronger.  I rely on my faith a lot to get me through difficult times...( and swimming ) I've even been told by others when I was going through the most difficult time of my life: " Wow, how do you do it?" "You're so strong!"  My answer has always been - it's not me, it's God or the Lord is getting me through this trust me.
Well I'm hitting the biggest milestone of my life right now and let me tell you two things:  It SUCKS and it's very difficult.  Honestly, there's a HUGE range of emotions I'm dealing with every day.  
My oldest, my daughter is headed off to college!  I didn't realize how emotionally unprepared I was for this.
Last year as she experienced her senior year there were lots of events that I always imagined tearing up at.  But...somehow I was fine. I surprised myself each time.  I teach at an elementary school and every year the seniors walk through in their caps and gowns and give the kids high 5's.  I thought I would be the one with the ugly mom cry going on. NOPE, I was dancing and smiling and gave her the biggest hug ever.


When she painted her senior parking lot.... no tears either.

Even her senior pics!!!!  I could go on and on - I document pics as I go.

Each time I surprised myself and my close friends with no tears.  I mean I had a few moments here and there like the first time she backed out of the driveway to drive herself to high school.  That definitely gave me a lump in my throat and a whole NEW SET of daily prayers. 
 Other milestones made me cry like when she promoted from my elementary school to middle school.  Prom, academic signing all those things I imagined being a basket case at but I was able to just enjoy the moment. Surprisingly,  I have held it together fairly well.

OK so I did cry when she gave her testimony at a Young Life event in front of a crowd...

Even college visits although bittersweet were more exciting than sad.

GRADUATION - guys I didn't cry!!! WHAT!?!?!  

Who is this person???  Anyone that knows me well knows that I'm VERY EMOTIONAL and wear #alltheemotions on my sleeve.  I cry at Hallmark commercials.  I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes but my waterproof mascara I made sure to use didn't even budge.  I was excited and proud at her graduation, smiling from ear to ear as I was at all her volleyball games, softball games and Young Life events. #proudmom
this summer when I was planning her going away party I had a good cry...a solid mama cry.  It hit me pretty hard, I had such a spectrum of emotions.  

I was sad, excited, anxious, proud and mad.  The anger wasn't about her leaving it was more about my own mom not being here to experience this with me.  I lost my mom when my daughter was in first grade.  Milestones have been extremely difficult for me ever since.  

One thing I don't like to hold onto is guilt of any kind.  It's just so unhealthy...thankfully I don't have any real regrets - I really don't.  I think it's inevitable to have 'second thoughts' as moms. 
 I had trouble getting pregnant and have had my share of 'female' issues.  I think that really made me cherish every single stage of motherhood.  I can vividly remember building forts with my kids and wondering as they got older will this be the last time they will want to do this?  I remember the very last time I nursed her and knew I would miss that special bonding time.  My 'second thoughts' include things like:  should I have made her do more chores around the house, should I have had her take a self defense class even though one is being offered at her college first semester, have I put fear in her that wasn't necessary or have I sheltered her too much?!?  All these thoughts come rolling in at this moment...

I came across an article recently that really resonated with me.  The mom talked about how NO ONE prepares you for this.  When your child is a baby - you get advice from everyone about putting them on a schedule, letting them cry it out, how to burp them.  People are more than happy to give you advice about the toddler years and tantrums.  When they are headed to school you get advice about what to pack in their lunches or how to resolve playground issues.  Where is everyone now?!?!  No one gives you any kind of advice when it comes to sending your child off to college.  No one tells you how to navigate these uncharted waters.  It's just a simple, congrats, how exciting, best of luck to ______ ( fill in the blank. )
I have 4 more nights of her sleeping in her childhood room right where she has always been for 18 years.  18 glorious years that have brought me so much joy.  Yes, those years have brought me gray hairs, worry, tears, joy, laughter - I could go on and on.  But what a joy it has been to be her mother.  It has truly been an honor and I thank God daily that he choose ME to raise her.  It humbles me.
Yesterday when we were packing up her room I held back tears, I needed a break.  Luckily, I had to leave to get my son from his SAT.  Later I shared my sadness and it's fine.  I was told by a few friends to not cry in front of her, others told me go ahead and cry and let her see my emotions.  I try to balance both, it's good for her to see how much I'll miss her but I don't want her worrying about poor old mom either as she's gone.  Again, it's about having a balance.

Instead of joining in the masses of people that just wish you well and say congrats I've decided to do something more.  I've had it on my heart to start a support group for moms that are going through this stage of life.  If you are in this stage of life and want encouragement, real talk, advice, laughs and inspirational quotes etc. feel free to join us at the fb group I started just for you.

This girl has my heart and the best thing I can do for her now is : pray for her, support her and encourage her.  AND yes I'm that crazy mom that will send her and her roommate care packages often.  
She is ready ( even though I'm not ) and I know she will do amazing things in her life.  I've given her her wings...she's ready to fly!

To all the moms that are going through this:  it's okay to cry and your tears might pop up at the most unexpected times and that's okay.   Ask any mom if they would trade in their sleep, dirty diapers or gray hairs...not one of them would do it.
 Be proud of all you've done to help your child be where he/she is at this moment and bask in it.  Great things are to come...


Get to know you Snowball Fight

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Happy back to school my friends....I know a lot of you are back at it and a few of you have until September.
Join me here each week for my 

weekly posts!

  I wanted to share a really FUN idea with you that my new 2nd grade team shared with me this year.
We had a get to know you Snowball Fight on the first day of school.  The kids LOVED it!  It is literally NO PREP and tons of fun.  So much fun in fact that they all were super motivated to write about it in their journals as well.  #winning

get to know you activities first week of school

So this is how you 'play'.  Give each child a plain, white piece of paper - I prefer whole piece so the snowball is bigger.  Have them write 3 facts about themselves ( can be done in 2nd and above )
I modeled it so it would be easy for someone else to read.

The facts had to be obvious - like brown hair, freckles, glasses, plaid shirt.  So it would be easy to figure out.  If you teach an upper grade you might be able to get away with more character traits if your class knows one another fairly well.
Then I said, "Time for a snowball fight!"  The kids THREW their papers ( which they loved of course ) and THEN they had to pick up a snowball.  Next, they sat back down and opened up their paper snowballs to reveal what was written inside.  Then they took turns reading what was written aloud and guessed who their person was sooo much fun!!!

get to know you back to school activities

{ especially in Southern California }

back to school get to know you

This was a very simple activity, took a while and the kids were totally engaged!  Add it to your plans if you need a fun first week activity!
Happy teaching! 


Teacher hacks to save your sanity

Sunday, August 19, 2018
We could all use some fresh new teaching ideas right!?!?  I don't care how long you've been teaching when you come across a newish, brilliant idea you know you get excited - c'mon admit it!

back to school hacks

I wanted to share a few that work really well for me - these ideas have saved my sanity over the years and I hope they are helpful to you too!

This teacher hack has worked beautifully so far this year and I'm thrilled with it.  I got rid of pencil boxes!  For real folks!  On my supply list I put down pencil POUCHES!  Why you ask!?!?  Well... if you have been teaching for any amount of time you know the struggle.  A child bumps a pencil box and the entire class jumps up to 'help' pick it all up.   Sweet, yes...necessary no!  It's more of a headache to have 22 students up collecting #allthethings.  Pencil pouches don't fall as much, they are much quieter when they fall and they don't spread #allthethings every which way.  They fit crayons, pencils and a small sharpener and scissors what more do you really need?  Seriously give it a try ~ it's been a game changer for me.

back to school hack


This has been a life saver for me!  I started this several years ago and it's been awesome.  Whenever a child leaves the classroom they take a labeled cone and place it on their desk.  I used to ask everyone where Johnny was when I scanned the room quickly.  Now I just look at the desk and know immediately who's out of the room.  ALSO it reduces the questions for bathroom use.  If one of the restroom cones is gone they can't ask to go.  It's a wonderful, cheap and easy to implement hack that you'll love.  ( I purchased the cones at Dollar Tree )

back to school hacks


I got so tired of finding places to store the TE's I use most often.  They looked cluttered stacked on my desk and when I set them down on a counter I was frustrated that they weren't easily accessible.  So, I brought in a desk file organizer from Target and it stores my most frequently used TE's perfectly.  Once I use them and am done with them I put them right back in the organizer.  The stay put and look organized on  my desk.  Also, it's so easy to trade out TE's for my Wonders ELA program ( I store the rest of the TE's in a cabinet )

back to school hack


Ok, let's be honest.  In August/September kids come in with sharp pencils and brand new crayons.  Give them a few weeks and 1/2 of the crayons are broken or lost! #truestory 
So about 6 years ago, I put my no homed or broken crayon collection into these drawers.  I use to hear kids say who has a brown crayon they can share while they were working on a project.  Now, they just quietly walk up to my storage spot and put out what they need.  They have been trained to go right back up and return what they borrowed and my storage for them hasn't diminished once.  It's organized, easy to access and cheap because the collection is either from old crayons, donations, broken ones, etc.  

back to school hack

back to school hacks


This one I'm sure you've heard's been a popular one the last several years.  Purchase a wireless doorbell from Amazon - plug it in and watch the magic happen.  This doorbell is amazing because it has like 50 different bell tones to choose from so it makes it very easy to get and  keep the kids attention.  Hearing different tones keeps them on their toes.   My students know to freeze when the doorbell goes off.  I can easily carry the remote in my fun teacher apron which leads me to my next hack.

back to school  hacks


Teachers are busy people, we wear a lot of hats and need about 10 more hands then we currently have right!??!  This teacher apron from Hadar's  - ( Miss Kindergarten ) mom is wonderful.  I've had it for about 7 or 8 years now.  I put my keys,  my phone, hall passes, pencil, etc. in it.  I bring it out when we teach PE or have recess duty and it has everything I might need.  I even wear it in the classroom for easy access to stickers, grading pens, my reading glasses etc.  It comes in so handy AND most importantly it's SUPER CUTE!  You can find her here:  

back to school hacks

back to school hacks


I just created this kit this past summer so it's new for me to implement this year.  I have the RSP cluster this year which I haven't had in about 12 years.  I thought having a cool down kit might be helpful for any of my students.  Several times over the last couple of years this kit would've come in handy.  I'm hoping it can  meet the needs of one of my littles if they become super frustrated or anxious about something.  

back to school hacks


This may not be your cup of tea and that's okay!  But let me tell you I had student 'jobs' for years.  Every Monday morning I would waste lots of instructional time moving kids around for their jobs and naming them off.  NOT ANYMORE!  I have one helper every single day with an easy clip rotation and cups to keep  me or a substitute organized....this helper picks ONE classmate to help them and they do IT ALL.  They are paper passers, door holder, line leaders etc.  I use to have to say like who's our door holder?  BUELLER, Bueller????  If the child was not paying attention or paying attention but forgot ( happened a lot surprisingly ) I would be standing there and someone else would volunteer to help so we could move on.  When the child that really had that job realized they weren't doing it they would be all upset.  Recognize that problem???  Well, you can thank me now because that problem has now been eliminated.  My helper of the day and helpers helper has NEVER forgot to do any of the jobs and they are totally on it all day.  They realize they have to wait another 23ish days to be the main helper again so they work really hard.  Simple little hack but saves tons of headaches I promise!

back to school hack

Hopefully these back to school classroom hacks will make your life a little easier this year.  Happy teaching xoxo


Re think how you welcome your students into the new school year

Friday, August 17, 2018

Summer is over, you start to go back into your classroom and start working 15,0001 hour days to get everything done.  You start having teacher nightmares and can barely function because you are so tired...but you keep on keeping on.  Before you know it the school years rolls around.  You can barely keep your head above water but you are ready for the new school year.  New nails, new hair, beautiful classroom, new class list, sharp's all so exciting!
Well - let's go back a few months to June.  It wasn't all that long ago let's be honest.  Summer was like 5 seconds long right?!?!  I saw this meme in June and it made me kinda sad...

back to school idea

We get it, in June we are tapped out, tired and ready for our summer.  But this meme got me thinking about the message we send our kids.  Yay you're gone - don't let the door hit you on the way out.  That's what it looks like according to this meme.  I want my students to understand their value completely.  The relationships I build in my classroom are the most important things I do all year long.  I get it guys, some years are harder than others. Some years/days are much easier.  Back when we had a 20:1 ratio in So. Cal there were days I felt like I didn't deserve my paycheck.   But trust me when I had 28 or 32 first graders back in the day I definitely earned my paycheck.  BUT STILL they look to us for our reactions, emotions, etc.  I want them to remember me with #allthelove #allthehearteyes
So, I was thinking this summer how can we show how excited we are to start the year off with our littles?!?  
Then I thought why not gather up some cheerleader pom poms and have the parents line the hallways as we walk through the doors into our classroom on the first day? So, at Meet the Teacher night we sent home letters ( telling them to keep it a secret ) and told the parents to line the hallways the next day and high five the kids, cheer them on and shake the pom poms.  It was amazing!  My team partner and I had tears in our eyes.  It was motivating, inspirational and encouraging.  Our kids felt loved and excited about the new year.  Our parents took pictures and videos and were just as was magical!!!

If you want to see a sample of the note I sent home - here it is below... (notice how I mentioned say your goodbyes ) after the cheering. Haha - sometimes we have to 'kick' our parents out so we can start our day and that's okay.

back to school ideas
It was the perfect way to start off our year and it is a sure fire way to get the parents 'on your side' right off the bat.  There are no questions what your intentions are or how special you want their child to feel after that I promise you!

It was truly the most amazing first day I've ever had and this is the start of my 25th year of teaching.  If you are able I highly encourage you to get your team on board and give this a try.