Fitness Resolution

31 December 2012
Do you remember my post about this?  *Click on the picture to read that post.
Yeah...well I fell off the exercise wagon this summer.  I hurt my ankle and I could not take my beloved Pump and Jump classes.  My ankle still hurts and I went to an orthopedist and he x-rayed it, said it was fine, and gave me pain pills.  It is very frustrating and I hate taking pain meds. So what started as taking it easy for my ankle, slipped further into gym slacking when everything happened in October.  I was going to try getting back into it this week and my grandmother past away.  Yes, these are all legitimate excuses but I was forgetting how good exercise made me feel and how it helped with stress.  I think I am afraid all my gym friends will judge me and I am embarrassed of  how I look now (which really is just flabby and a few pounds heavier).

So, I am going to take my own advice and stick to it.  Maybe I will try to run a marathon or enter a fitness contest.  I am so flattered that my blog follower/friend, Ashley of The Teacher's Treasure Chest, read my post last year and embaracked on her own fitness journey!    Way to go Ashley!  I am proud of you.

For some fitness ideas and tough love quotes, check out my Fitness Pinterest page.
source Health-Bent

To link up, enter an awesome contest, and read about other fitness goals, hop over to the ever fabulous DeeDee!  I am so proud of her and her fitness goal.  I know you can do it DeeDee!  Love Ya!

New Year's Resolution: Downtime

30 December 2012

I am linking up with my amazing friend, Amy of Step into 2nd with Mrs. Lemons for Downtime.

My resolution is to do Yoga.  I never do it because I feel like it is a waste of time at the gym.  Like I could spend an hour burning tons of calories instead of laying around.  Also, at the end when you just lay there - I cannot not stop my mind from running through my To Do List or from thinking up new TpT things.  Then when I do try and clear my mind, I just want to go to sleep!  I am so afraid I will fall asleep and they will have to kick me to wake me up.  So as you can see, Yoga is going to be a big challenge for me but I think I really need it.  I need to de-stress, find my center...yada yada yada!

What I do now in downtime:

Read!  I don't read nearly as much as I would like to during the school year.  In the summer, I fly through books.   I just finished Gone Girl this week.  I loved it.  My friend and I have a little book club of sorts.  She and I read the book and then go see the movie.  Just saw Twilight: Breaking Dawn and loved it!

Sleep!  I am a sleeper.  I could nap at a moment's notice.
Yes, they all want to nap with me!  Click here to check out the pillows on Etsy.

My pets!  Love spending time with my fur-children: Niles, Long Haired Chihuahua, 13; Sophie, Havanese, 6.5; Ella, long haired black cat, 5; Greta, tiny brown tabby, 4

Boating!  In the summer I am always out on a boat.  I have my own 17 foot Key West. 

My friend Diana comes with me when her husband is working.  She brings her dog, Chewie!  We look like the puppy party boat!

Hop over to Amy's blog to link up!

If you want to do something in your downtime...hit up the YouTube video of Sweet Brown.  Love that lady!!!!

New Year's Resolution: Professional Growth

29 December 2012
Thank you Amanda for hosting today's resolution.

Hmmm...professional growth.  I am going to be honest with you, this year, professional growth has been the last thing on my mind.  I usually teach courses for our local teacher center and that forces me to do a lot of professional reading.  With everything going on in my life, I decided to take a break from teaching courses.  So that also meant a break from professional reading.

Since, nothing in my life seems to be back to normal yet, I am going to make my resolution to work on professional growth over the summer.   My goal: master the Wilson Fundations program.

I think it is a great program, I just don't feel I have the proper training or know-how to use it to its full potential.  The reading teachers and special education teachers are certified in Wilson, but not the regular education teachers.  We received only half a day's training from the company.   Please, don't think I have not been teaching my students phonics!  I do teach phonics and I incorporate tapping out words and the Fundations tiles and word cards.   My goal is to follow the Fundations manual more closely.  My only struggle with this will be that the program follows a strict sequence and does not follow what the Common Core says our children should have mastered by the end of first grade.   Like for example, r-controlled vowels?   So maybe I shouldn't read the book?  Haha...just kidding.   Ideas and suggestions are welcome!  

Please, link up and/or blog hop with Amanda by clicking the image below!  She puts me to shame with all her professional reading.  

Organization New Year's Resolutions

28 December 2012
I have to say, I am pretty organized in my classroom.  (Expect a HUGE organizational packet this summer!) It is my home that is bad!  I think it is because I live alone and no one really sees it.  Or it is just always the last thing on my "To Do List."

This year to make myself more organized, I changed my home office into just a home office.  No more home office/guest room with an itty bitty corner desk.  I went and splurged on the Ballard Designs Original Home Office.  It has so many drawers and shelves and I have a huge work area.  Have I done anything with those draws and shelves?...not so much.

Here is a photo and I purposely hid the area to the left of the computer which is just a pile of papers and books.
My goal is to put things in those drawers and those lovely gray wood crates I purchased at Marshall's.  Can I just digress for a second?  I LOVE Marshall's, Home Goods, and TJ Maxx.  Those places are like going on a treasure hunt and coming back with this awesome find.  Even the little gray Cynthia Rowley wood box frame is from there.  Unfortunately, the picture in the frame is the one that came with it.  Don't you love how I have Fifty Shades of Grey mixed in with Nonfiction Mentor Texts? - classy :).   The pretty Mixed Bag Designs bag is holding more books that I have to put on the shelf.  I am also on the hunt for a spin-organizer that matches the white wood.   To the right is a a cute print that needs to go in a frame along with some scrapbook paper that needs to be put away.  I have two humongous  printers.  The one hiding under the desk is an economy Epson color printer.  The one above the desk is a Brother b&w printer/scanner/copier.  

Here are some bad iphone photos of my old desk.  The desk now resides with my friend Diana.  The deal was she could have the desk if she got it out of my house.  Her husband and brother came and amazingly got that thing down the stairs and out the door in one piece. 

On to how I am organized!  Just click on the photos to check out the packets the labels come from.  Yes, I am a label queen!  You have to emerse those students in environmental print!  Plus, it makes my classroom perfect for Read/Write the Room.


Do you want to link up with Chicago Roomie, Hope King?  I laughed so hard at the ecard on her post! Click below to check it out and enter to win some awesome prizes?

New Year's Resolution - Technology

27 December 2012
Today, I am linking up with my buddy Kathleen of Growing Kinders with my technology resolution.

Use the SmartBoard more and not just to show movies!

I have had my SmartBoard a few years and I do love it.  I use it everyday with our math series (Go Math) and attendance.  Yet, I don't feel I am using it to it's full potential.  I think I just get a bit overwhelmed with all that is out there for it.  So my resolution this year is to take baby steps and start utilizing it in a more interactive way.

How I use it now:
  • Attendance - one of my fellow first grade teachers made a cute practical file, which has the kids move their name to what they are getting for lunch.  It was so generous of her to share, I just changed the names of her students to mine.  I love how easy it is to edit a SmartBoard file!
  • I use it for my math series by logging in through ThinkCentral.  It is a great visual for the kids and they love the Curious George Videos.
  • I take little screen shots of my TpT products and insert them into SmartBoard files.  I do this for Venn diagrams especially!
  • Brain Pop Junior!  I love this site.  You seriously need to ask your district to buy a membership.  My students love Moby!  I love that the videos are short and educational.  I also love the little quizes at the end. 
  • Spelling City - This site is great for computer lab, but also a fun whole class way to play a game with spelling words. 
  • YouTube Videos - This is my favorite penguin video!!!

Please, link up with Kathleen by clicking here!  I hope to snag some more ways to use the SmartBoard.

There is also a flash giveaway where you could win my New Year's Unit among other awesome goodies!

A Hero's Tradition - Merry Christmas

24 December 2012
Disclaimer - This post is not education related and it contains photos of me holding alcoholic beverages and in a bathing suit.  If that disturbs you, move on. 

This is the ornament my best friend, Diana and her husband Mike, sent for Christmas along with a beautiful letter.  Here is the story behind it.  

Our friend, Artie Lopez, was killed in the line of duty in October.  Our world was forever changed.  He really was one of the sweetest, kindest guys - just like they said all over the news.  He would do anything for his friends.

In their letter, Diana and Mike asked for us to pass on Artie's tradition of popping in and hand delivering thoughtful gifts at Christmas "just because."  He would do this for his neighbors and friends. His acts of selflessness each year made him a "Christmas Hero" to many people.    Diana and Mike asked everyone they sent the ornament to, to be a "Christmas Hero" to someone "you just want to say thank you to."  And when you do, to tell them a little bit about Artie, the Christmas Hero.  

I think this is a beautiful way to keep his spirit and tradition alive.  He will always have a special place in our hearts. 

Here is my story of how Artie, touched my life.
We met years ago when Diana and Mike tried to set us up.  They kept telling me to look for him in the gym; that he went there all the time.  I ended up going up to a guy that I thought was him and said "Hi, I'm Erica, are you Artie?"  He said "No, but I could be if you want me to!"  Then one day this guy with a mega-watt smile came up to me and said "Are you Erica?"  I told him my story of mistaking him for someone else and he said he had done the same!  We became gym friends and eventually he asked me out on a date.  He was such a gentleman and we had a great time.  He told me that he wanted to be honest with me and that he was not looking to get married or have kids.  He did not think it was fair in his line of work.  I told him I appreciated his honesty and that I was looking to get married and have kids.  I was sick of dating guys that never wanted to get serious.  So, I suggested, "How about we just be friends?"  

As friends we had good times.  He would come sit by my parents' pool during the summer.  He knew I loved to read, so he came with a book - Everyone Poops.  He joked that he was only halfway through but was getting to the good part.  He had also become friends with my mother at the gym and she would fawn all over him -serving him snacks and giggling.  She had a major crush!

He would always check on me and whenever I needed help he would come. We bonded over both being single homeowners, who bought houses at the height of the market.

He was so proud of all my accomplishments, yet he never flaunted his own.  It was not until I was at his wake, did I see all of the awards and achievements he had accomplished.  I had no idea that he was the youngest officer to be on the ESU (emergency services unit).  He had told me about one of the tests he failed (treading water for five minutes- he could not swim), while taking the test to be an ESU officer.  I never let him live that down and he was a good sport about it.  Still, he never bragged about all his amazing accomplishments.

He was very protective of me with the guys I dated and I would give him appropriate space when he was dating someone.  At times, it was really hard just being friends with him - look at him!  And now looking back, I have such regret.  Why did I have to be so hard-headed?  Isn't better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all?  Maybe it was just not meant to be.  Or maybe it was a life lesson that I needed to learn.  Either way, I am grateful that he was in my life, even if just for a little while.

What I take from knowing Artie and loving him as a friend:

  • Life is short...tell everyone how you feel and that you appreciate them
  • Smile!
  • Be generous
  • Laugh
  • Work your ass off at the gym! (he was always at the gym and I think he motivated me to go more -just so I could stop and chat with him)

Artie and I boating - He and I just got our own boats this summer 
(That is my dad's little boat that I used to drive in the background.)

Thank you for reading this and letting me share with you about Artie.  I carried on his tradition this year.  I hope you will take the time to randomly thank someone and tell them that you appreciate them.  Life is way too short.

I appreciate all of you followers.  Every comment and/or feedback note gets read.  I love knowing that in some small way, I make a difference in this world.  Merry Christmas to you and your families!!!

Twas' the Week Before Christmas

20 December 2012
This week has been full of so many emotions.  My heart breaks for everyone in Sandy Hook.  I know I would put my life on the line for my students.  I also know that every teacher would do the same.  The students become our own children.  It just becomes an instinct -we would not have to think twice about it.  I look at my first graders and I cannot imagine what that town is going through.  Good bless you Sandy Hook!  We are sending you snowflakes (see the letter below).

This letter is being passed around facebook:

With one week left before Christmas break, I decided to make this week more about fun and less about meeting standards.  I told myself on Monday morning, that I was going to go in and hug each and everyone of my first graders and that we were going to do fun and even messy things!

Well, we did!  I tried to hug them all, but some of them gave me those side shoulder hugs.  You know the "eew, my teacher is embarrassing me hug." Then I made fun literacy themed centers and threw in some Play-Doh for spelling center.  They have really had a blast!  One of my students told me it was the best day ever!   That made me smile.

I snuck in some learning and crafts, too.  Here are some photos of our week.

 This is included in my Common Core Based Gingerbread Activities Packet. 

This is happening tomorrow, in conjunction with pajama day! Click here to download this free packet.

We used the letter in Michelle Oakes' Santa's Little Helpers Packet to introduce him two weeks ago.  Perhaps, next year he will only come this last week before Christmas :)

Other activities we did:

We wrote letters to Santa after reading Dear Santa.  This book was a hit and they all wanted it.  They really loved the little tiny letters in the pockets of the book.  I told them I would post it on my blog so they could show their parents the book. 

We made Magic Reindeer Food and Snowman Poop at our holiday party. 

As a gift to the parents, we make hand and footprint reindeer and a Santa handprint card.  Directions and printables for these can be found in my Have Yourself a Very Common Core Christmas Packet

While the students are watching the Polar Express tomorrow, I plan to type up personalized thank you notes.  This year I bought cute borders from Pink Cat Studio (click here).  I have to use the fonts the school computers provide me with, but if I had my choice, I would use a font by Kimberly Geswein.  I LOVE her fonts.   Here is a sample thank you letter. 

I hope you have a wonderful last day with your kiddos!  Or if you are already out of school enjoy the much needed time to decompress!  I will be back soon with some Holiday Cheer...we all know we could use some. 

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