Friday, May 30, 2014

Five for Friday May 30, 2014

Is it Friday already?
Amazing how your perspective changes when you are out of the classroom! 

I am excited about my first summer Five for Friday link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching
Love lounging at the pool with my boys each day. They really need the exercise and time out of the house and I need the opportunity to lounge in the sun. Once the water warms up, I will be sliding and swimming alongside them. 

For now, I am hanging in the shallow end with my favorite 4 year old inventing different ways to play with his pool toys. He loves having me throw the dive sticks through the dive rings as he holds them high in the air. 
Our adventures are not always a walk in the park because sibling rivalry, tiny tantrums, and boy battles often join us on our trips. Each day it gets a little better, perhaps because they are figuiring out that when I say we will really leave if I have to say anything "one more time."
There are some good things that come out of public discipline, I work on not yelling and I am perfecting that "I am serious" face. 
A kid's perspective on things is amazing! My oldest son asked if I used to play games like dominoes and Operation when I was a young girl. I told him that I did all the time. He then turned to his brothers and said, "Hey, let's turn the TV off and play games like mom did when she was young. You know, when she did not watch TV." 

I loved his attitude and desire to play, but had to laugh, you know TV was around when I was a kid, right? 

If you are looking for a game for the summer, for your classroom, or as a gift, I completely do not recommend the game Domino Rally by Goliath toys. 
Look closely, the red piece is supposed to be on the bottom of the bigger red piece holding the rubber band in place. This piece is what makes the really cool; too bad it did not last beyond a few trials. 
The game was about $16 at Target, and is not worth the money since one of the components broke after a few trials. 
Guess we will be taking another trip to Target, you can hear my crying right? Well, really if you hear any crying it is because my oldest is really upset that his domino plans were busted. Sure we could keep the set and use the dominoes, but I know I could buy a plain set for much cheaper.  
I just love the craziness of this kid! He loves to dress up and often mixes up his costumes, (monkey, Jake the pirate bandana, and Captain America mask) this day he called himself, King of the Monkeys!  

On to a much more serious topic. This week our neighborhood had police and news crews hanging out investigating a homicide. 

One of my neighbors shot his 30 year old wife and his 13 year old daughter was the one who called the incident in to the police. He is now in custody. The wife died, and the girl is without both of her parents. 
We were all in shock, they seemed like nice people. 
Ok, I am getting on my soap box. Domestic violence can happen anywhere, even in a small suburban neighborhood with hard working people. We were shocked and I really wish we could have helped her. If you are in a situation where you and/or your children are in danger, please talk to someone; find a friend to confide in, have a safe place you can escape to. Do not become a statistic and do not accept abuse as being ok, no one deserves it ever and you are not at fault! 
Sorry for that brief lecture, it has been weighing heavy on my mind this week. 

Hope you are doing great and are happy it is Friday. For those of you already on break, hope that it is going well for you! For those of you still finishing out your year, may the final days go smoothly and quickly! 
~Happy Friday~

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My List for Summer

The last month of school was a tough one, totally wiped me out! I have been recovering by catching up on my sleep and taking care of my family. 
I know that other teachers totally understand where I am coming from. The end of the year to a teacher is not all about parties; throw in file reviews, test results, packing, cleaning, and finishing up all while trying to instruct kids who are ready to hit the road to vacation, and you get a small glimpse of the craziness.
School has been out for the kids for 1 week now and last Friday was my last full day. I allowed myself a few days of doing nothing, and have promised myself not to return to my classroom until mid-June when I take my son to a special math program. I also promised myself not to do any planning until I meet with my professional learning team in June.

While I take a break from the classroom, I will be working on tackling my summer top ten.    
First on my list is fun with the boys. During the school year, life is busy. This past year, my oldest 2 spent too much extra time with me in my classroom while I mentored a student teacher, took care of teacher responsibilities, and served as grade chair. Now it is time to give them all of my attention. Play, play, and play some more!
Spend lots of time swimming. My oldest are great swimmers and really love swimming and sliding at the pool. It is a great place to help them burn all of their boy energy.
One goal, is to help my 4 year old earn his sea legs. He loves all of the "mom attention" in the shallow end and it is a great time for us to bond and play. 

Work on my blog. I would like to do a facelift and plan some posts. I needed the break from the computer, but have really missed connecting with my blogging friends. 
Work on my core. 
I am reading this as part of professional development through my school. I will be teaching only math and language arts next year, so I plan to immerse myself in language arts strategies and planning. I am excited about working with the team that volunteered for this book study. 
I am also planning to work on my core with Jillian Michaels. I fell off of the workout bandwagon in March and want to get back on track. I ate horribly during May as a reaction to all of the extra stress and need to get my core strength back. I am determined to work hard on my core so that it is part of my routine when I return to school. 

I want to create more items for my classroom and my TPT store. I have a bunch of ideas swirling around in my head, and am really looking forward to taking some time to develop them. 
I finally uploaded a new item to my store today. 

This Fishing for Facts game was sitting in my "Products in Progress" folder on my computer and am thrilled to have moved it off the to-do list. It was inspired by my son and he loves playing it with me. It will be a great way for us to practice math skills over the summer.
I will celebrate my 1 year anniversary blogging and selling on TPT this summer, and plan to have some giveaways and post some products at reduced rates.   

I would love to take a small trip with the family. We are thinking about a trip with our dog, Bandit, to a dog-friendly beach and plan to stay in a dog-friendly hotel. My husband found this great website (Bring Fido) with links to dog friendly places. 

Sinking my toes in to the sand is the most relaxing activity! The boys will really enjoy playing with their best friend in the sand and water.Here is a picture of Bandit with my son and husband at the minor league baseball game this past weekend. 
From rescued dog to beloved and spoiled! 
Clean up and organize the house. I have some projects that really need to be finished and now is the time to do it! 
Make some trips to see my sister and her family. I am really lucky to have such a wonderful relationship with my sister. Summer is a great time to relax and reconnect.
Summertime is also a great time to take some day trips and explore our area with the boys. Museums, and parks are on the top of my list. It has been a while since we have been to some local museums and I think it is time to explore again. 
Fernbank Museum

One of our favorite annual traditions is to attend the $1 movies at Regal Cinemas. We have a theater down the street and it is an inexpensive way to take my boys to the movies to see their favorites on the big screen or see ones we missed when they first came out. Click here to see the list of movies in your area. 

So, what are your plans for the summer? Check out the other posts on Mrs Jump's class blog

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

May is the month I feel like I am standing in the middle of the highway dodging cars. Way too much going on, as the year winds down!
There are not too many jobs where you set goals, work hard to achieve them, only to wind down, wrap things up, pack up, to restart. 
Unfortunately teachers have a million things to do to wrap up, yet from the kids perspective all they see is the finish line and months of vacation! 
By the time I make it to the finish line, I need that vacation to recover from the sleepless nights, the frantic hours I spent running around wrapping up. 
Yet, as a teacher you also know, that vacation is short lived, because you start planning for the next year before the current ends and spend all summer planning to restart with the ambition of it being the best year ever! 

Because I understand what goes in to the job, I truly appreciate what teachers do. I appreciate all the teachers I learn from, and the teacher friends I have! 
Thank you to all of you for all of the great things you do for the kids each and every day of the year! 
Being that I am a teacher, you would think I would LOVE teacher appreciation week. Well, it might surprise you, but it is a tough week for me. 
I appreciate the love and support, but it is turning out to be a crazy event. What happened to saying thank you, recognizing phenomenal efforts without the crazy crafts and gifts? What happened to the simple end of the year gift to wish the teacher a relaxing summer with a genuine/heartfelt note?
I feel that as we "pin" cute gifts and try to keep up with the Joneses, the true meaning gets lost. 

Think about the family struggling to make ends meet, now throw in a request from a room parent to send in a snack on Monday, a fruit on Tuesday, a flower on Wednesday, something purple on Thursday, and a donation for a gift on Friday. Now multiply that times the number of kids they have. Now throw in the stress of adding a pun filled note, then add in the stress of remembering which day to send it and hoping the kid remembers to take it out of their bookbag! Yikes! Stressful and that can be pricey, especially when you are dealing with more than 1 child. 
So let me give you another perspective. What about the class who does not have a room mom? That teacher does not receive the "cutesy" appreciation. Is she less of a teacher? Is she less deserving? 
What about the parents who are unaware that there is such a thing as teacher appreciation? Then their kid sits in class and sees friends bringing in gifts daily while they sit thinking up a reason why they do not have anything to give the teacher. They worry that the kids might judge them or worse yet, the teacher might not like them. 
The cute, pinterest-inspired gifts are sweet. The attempt to shower the teacher with gifts is a great gesture. The idea of appreciating what a teacher does has good intentions. But since when, did we have to remind people to simply say, thanks? Why do we have to assign appreciation to a day? Why can't we appreciate and be thankful daily? 
I write this, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I know what I am talking about because this is the week that I go a little nuts trying to keep up with the Joneses, try to make sure I send in something cute, and make sure I let the teachers around me know I appreciate them. 
In addition, I deal with the emotions of being the unappreciated teacher. I console the kids who see friends bring in flowers, treats, and gift bags, yet they are empty-handed. I experience the, "I left your gift at home." or "I wanted to get you something." I even received a gift that was taken from mom's drawers and re-gifted to me. One year I received a can of deodorant.
This year, I received nothing. 
Does that mean I am less of a teacher? 
No, but with the lack of gifts and not having a decorated door it might appear that way to the ones bringing breakfast or lunch in daily.
What instead it means is, I had too much pride to send a letter home telling my parents that it was teacher appreciation week because this year I AM the room mom, no one volunteered. It means that I have parents who do not know what teacher appreciation week is or that it is this week. It means that I have parents working their tails off to make ends meet. 
Today, as I helped the kids create a card for my co-teacher, they raised their hands to tell me that they left my gift at home, they will bring me something another day, and their parents meant to buy something. I know that for many, it was a way to make themselves, and  me, feel better. What I told them is that I do not need gifts (no seriously, I can do without random candles and pieces of fruit) and that I felt it was more important to tell my co-teacher how important she was to us. I know she will appreciate the cards and their words more than any item.
Here is an idea. Why don't we try to appreciate teachers, parents, nurses, grocery clerks, parents all year long? 
Instead of a week of trinkets, how about writing a letter to your child's teacher or their principal to brag about all of the great things they do? 
I plan to do exactly that for my sons' teachers. I have yet to do that because I have a total of 7 thank you letters to write (2 of my sons have 3 teachers). Those letters are on my to do list! 
In the meantime though, I gave in to the requests of the room moms. I know their hearts are in the right places. They spent time planning the week out, and want to make the teacher feel special. So I helped them out by supporting their requests, in a way that financially fits me because I am lucky enough to be able to. 
Here are some pictures of the gifts I sent in. Yes, I am guilty of making them extra cute, but I could not resist. I also have some awesome clip art that I wanted to use. Thank you to Krista Wallden (Creative Clips) and Mel (Graphics from the Pond) for the great clip art that made these extra special. 
It has been so stressful, I almost ate these!
Reused Starbucks Iced Coffee bottle (painted the top), taped the papers on the sides, filled with Lindt truffles. My son's teacher said, "Thank you, I already ate the whole jar, yep, had a day like that too!"
"Thanks for helping me Bloom." 
I also made some relaxing bath salts and a salt foot soak for the teachers. 

The boys thought it smelled fantastic and even helped me try it out. With boy approval, I knew it was a perfect way to pamper the teachers. The effects lasted in to the next day, softer feet with a great aroma, not something you often hear about feet. 
With some epsom salt, baking soda, lemon or lime zest, peppermint essential oil (ordered from Amazon), and rosemary (only for the bath salt) you can make a simple and relaxing gift to pamper the teachers (or mom(s)) in your life. This recipe is so simple, it would even make a great Mother's Day craft to make with your students. 
I found the recipes on TidyMom and altered them slightly because I only had the peppermint essential oil. 
Lime Mint Foot Soak (ingredients: 2 cups epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, zest of 1 lime, 4-6 drops of peppermint essential oil) The recipe calls for lime essential oil, I omitted it and the mixture worked well. Mix together and add to bag or jar. 
Lemon, Rosemary & Mint Bath Salts (ingredients: 2 cups epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, 2-3 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary, zest of 1 lemon, 4-6 drops of peppermint essential oil) The recipe called for lemon essential oil; I substituted the peppermint. Mix together and add to bag or jar.  (I doubled this recipe in order to make enough for all of the teachers - 13 total)
My boys were able to help, and like I mentioned, love trying the soaking salts out in the tub. They also loved presenting them to their teachers, one commented that she was hopping in the tub as soon as she got home! 
Another recycled Starbucks iced coffee jar. I filled up 3 jars with one recipe with a small bowl left over to try it out. I used  snack bags above and was able to make enough for my teammates and sons' 7 teachers. 
If you were racking your brain about something to make, I highly recommend the recipes for the bath salts. They smell phenomenal and provide relaxation, who can't appreciate that? 
I am thankful for Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesdays. Check out her post and the links for other great ideas! I am also thankful for Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It linky party. Check out her post and the great ideas shared in the links. 

I am thankful for you , my follower and reader! Thank you for making it all the way to the bottom of this. I know this was a long post and somewhat all over the place. Even though part of my post was a little negative, I hope you got the gist of what I meant. It is important to appreciate, simple gestures mean a lot, I worry about all of the emphasis on the material items, and want to go back to some simpler times when simply writing a note was the best way to show appreciation!
I hope you have had a great day and have felt appreciated.