Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Reading Rocks.

This pic is a few months old (sent it as a thank you text to my aunt who recommended the book in M's hand), but it certainly shows M's enthusiasm for books.  We read every day, but it's extra fun in the summer because of summer reading programs.

We've done the summer reading program at the public library since M was six months old (most programs are designed to be started when a child is just a baby). Last year we read about 1800 pages, but this year we're shooting for 2500. Summer reading's fun because of the prizes and programs associated with it.

While those are all tangible rewards, the intangible rewards are the real benefit here (especially once a child reaches school-age):   Here are the facts:  
  • Children who have been exposed to library preschool programs showed a greater number of emergent literacy behaviors and pre-reading skills. 
  • Summer reading programs provide quality learning activities that are fun, and encourage some of the best techniques identified by research as being important to the reading process.
  • Numerous studies have shown that reading over the summer prevents “summer reading loss.”
  • Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children don’t “catch up” in fall because the other children are moving head with their skills. By the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates.
  • Participants often return to summer library programs in successive years, which helps children build reading into their summer routine.
  • 8 out of 10 studies indicate students who read recreationally out-performed those who don’t.
  • Free, voluntary reading is essential to helping students become better readers, writers, and spellers.
The research goes on and on.  

The first couple of years, we just did our library's program, but last year we did the Barnes and Noble summer reading program, too (you read eight books and get a free book as a reward).  This year we may add one or two more (which is easy since the same books can go on different lists).  It's fun seeing your kid(s) be rewarded for something they already do. 

Here are some other programs out there.  They all work differently, so I've included links.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Friend, Dresses, & Cake


My dear friend E is getting married!  Though she lives in the Atlanta area, she came home to start her wedding dress hunt.  I was so glad to share in this special time with her and her family. 


I loved watching her try on each dress.  She's so tall and graceful and beautiful. (Neither of these dresses is THE one, so they were safe to post.)


We had a seafood lunch after her dress appointment, and then someone brought cake.  Seafood + cake = the real reason I went (I kid)! 

I love so much about E.  She's my cool, calm, and collected friend.  Always cool no matter the situation and always so well put together.  We've been friends for a long time.  I remember when we were roommates in a summer-long  program back in high school, and used to eat cereal every day and wait for 
Ginuwine videos to come on TV (oh, teenage crushes...and do people still watch music videos?) - ha!  Though distance and busy lifestyles keep us from seeing each other as often as we'd like, we've stayed  in touch.  Even back in college when she was busy at Kentucky and I was at busy at 'Bama State, we did AKA around the same time and supported each other.  And today, she's the type of friend that would read my blog, read between the lines that I'm stressed, and send me an encouraging email/text.  And there was that time that I put something on my blog about needing fun, educational things to do with my little for the summer, and she sent me this list of stuff she does with her own elementary school class. It's the little things...

I was so thrilled she came this way to start her dress hunting and that I got a chance to see her.  Her getting married means I'll get to see her at least two more times this year (shower and wedding day) -- thrilled about that!

Have a good day, y'all!  

~ G

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Banquet, Picnic, & Swimming

We're officially two days into our summer vacation, and it's started off very much like the last two summers.  Fun with the little one (awesome) and air conditioner issues in our house (soooo not awesome).  We were thinking about a taking a mini-trip soon, but I'm pretty sure our air conditioner issues have knocked that right out of the budget. We've got repair guys coming AGAIN in the morning to add to an already costly repair.  Why does our air unit hate us so much?

Anyway, this past weekend got off to a busy start as we left school Friday and drove to my husband's hometown to attend a banquet.  Two former 'Bama players from there are now in the NFL, so the banquet was held in their honor.  

I wasn't sure we'd be going since I wasn't sure it'd be okay to take M, but it turns out it was.  I knew taking a three-year-old to a banquet was not that great an idea, but we actually made it halfway through before she got antsy -- which I thought was pretty good.  I'm pretty realistic when it comes to that kinda stuff -- I never expect my three-year-old to switch gears and all of a sudden act like an adult.  I can't expect her to be quiet and listen for that long -- I mean, she's three (she wants to move and play).  So when it was clear that she was ready for that, she and I walked out as quietly as we could, drove down the street to grab some dinner, and ate it at a nearby park (where she played afterwards, of course).

Quick pic before the banquet started.


My sister-in-law spoke her well wishes to the guys at the banquet -- in front of like 600 people (something I would have been terrified to do). She did great, and I was able to snap this quick shot of her up there.

The next day a community picnic was held for the same guys.  I'd driven back home the night before because I had a friend coming to town, but M stayed back with my sister-in-law and went to the picnic.  They had fun stuff for the kids to do, so I know M enjoyed it.


My SIL sent me a pic of M with J. Harris, who went to the Falcons.  The other guy, D. Kirkpatrick (not pictured), was drafted to the Bengals.  These guys have a very supportive family and community. They have a history of success (two national championships), so I hope they get that and even more at the next level.

After the picnic, M went to swim with her cousins. 


I KNOW she had a blast.  She'll be asking me if she can go back soon.  She came home the next day and took a loooooong nap.  The weekend wore her out!

Anyhoo, I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about my friend E who was in my area on Saturday.  She's getting ready for a very special day! :)

Hope everyone's having a good week so far!

~G

Monday, May 28, 2012

Closing Another School Year

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  Ours has been steady.  Between M, DK, and me, our weekend consisted of a banquet, a picnic, swimming, a dear friend, wedding dresses, seafood, barbeque, and cake.  (Not as busy as it sounds since at one point, we were all three in different places.)  I'll be posting about a couple of these things soon.  

It's a weird feeling not having to get up this morning to go to work.  And not just because it's the holiday remembering the men and women who gave their lives for our country, but because the school year officially ended last week. 

There is something I love about every group I teach.  Most of my past groups can be described as sweet and hardworking, but this last group -- they were HILARIOUS.  Of course it's like one or two in each of the class periods that are really the clowns, but that's all it takes for the class as a whole to be SO MUCH FUN.

They were still hardworking kids (in fact, they may have been my hardest working group ever), but they were so dang funny.  I wish I would've written down everything they did and said so I wouldn't lose the memories...

I've taught mostly freshmen since I've been a teacher, so when I look up and they're all of a sudden seniors, it's crazy!

(Thanks for this snapshot, G!)

Graduation was Thursday night.  Seriously, I felt like these kids were just in my class.  

Our graduating classes are typically around 600 to 650 students, which you would think makes for a long, painful ceremony. (Yes, painful.  I'm not a fan of sitting in one spot for too long.)  But it's actually not that bad because of they way they've done the ceremony.  They skip the guest speaker, so you really only hear from a few people (including the val and sal).  Then the names start rolling. My kinda ceremony!

Six of the nine business teachers.

(Ignore my different color sash.  I haven't updated it since I got my masters...three years ago...  Maybe next year I'll respond to the school-wide email from our graduation specialist -- sent several weeks before graduation -- taking requests for updated graduation stuff. And not do like this year and think about that email again on graduation day.)

Anyhoo, special shout out to two of my youngest first cousins who graduated from high school this same night (X from LHS and D from OHS)! 

Let the summer fun begin!  I may even schedule a post for every day this week.  See you again tomorrow probably.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Where did my easy baby go? And who is this crazy little three-year-old living with me?"


I recently ordered M's very first baby book - a collection of first-year pics. I've been so spoiled by the instant sharing done through this blog that I've never just sat down and added pics of my kid to an album.   

I ordered this one through PhotoBin (actually it was a Groupon deal), and it was on my doorstep a few days later.   And I love it so much that I'll probably get her a book made for every year of her life.  It only took an hour or so to create since all I did was go back through my blog and grab some of her first-year pics. (Isn't that cover pic adorable?  I actually took that pic!)

It's hard to believe those two kids are the same person.  That baby was so sweet, easy, and happy.

That three year old?  Well, she's definitely happy. And she's sweet for the most part.  But easy?...

While most of the time, M is sweet and spunky and lots of fun, she is also sassy, dramatic, and very testy at times. Like two mornings last week we had SO much drama getting ready for school (absolute worst time of the day for drama, of course).  She didn't want to take off her skirt and leggings (that she puts on every morning when she wakes up) to put on her regular school clothes.

She cries and cries and resists like I'm forcing her to wear hot metal to school.  "I don't like those paaaants!"  "I don't like that dreeeeeeess!"  " I want to wear my skirt and tiiiiights!" I mean big, fat tears, y'all..

I really thought this kinda stuff didn't start until the kid reached middle school.  I can picture it now, 10 years from now:

"You will wear what I buy because I'm the mama and I make the money.When you get a job and buy your own clothes, THEN you can wear what you want."

The last time I told M something like that, she thought for a second then turned to her daddy and said, "Daddy, can I have a job?"

**sigh**

Someone tell me this gets easier.

Have a good one, yall. :)

~ G

Monday, May 21, 2012

Relay for Life & a Birthday!



Friday evening the fam and I got together for my hometown's Relay for Life event. Did you know that this year alone, 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer? About 570,000 Americans will die from cancer this year.  That's about 1,500 people per day.  Not sure about you, but those numbers rattle me.

I'm actually pretty optimistic about cancer research because survival rates have gone up quite a bit in the last 20 years.  And most people I know who have been diagnosed are actually okay today.  But I still feel we have a long way to go, which is why I continue to support organizations like the American Cancer Society.

This year I Relayed with a small team of family and friends. I really appreciate the family and friends who teamed up, and those who made a donation to support our efforts. Your support and donations mean so much to so many.
Survivors Lap

My aunt's friend (white shirt) was the only cancer suvivor on our team.  She is three years cancer-free! :) 


Our theme was "Glowing Away Cancer" (like blowing away cancer?  Get it?).  We sold glow bracelets to raise money at the event.


Team Lap


It was so touching watching these families release these.





I missed getting a picture of a couple of others on the team, but we had a great time for a great cause. 

If you'd like to donate to the American Cancer Society, you may do so here (or you can find your local Relay for Life event here). It doesn't take long to form a team or raise money, and the efforts and funds go to saving lives.

******************************************

Also over the weekend, I attended a birthday party for my Aunt D.  She's the one that usually has a hand in our family get-togethers (and is the reason I love party/shower games).  I couldn't miss a celebration in her honor.
W/the Birthday Girl

My Mom and Me



My Aunt D and her daughters (who put together this celebration of their mom). 

It was a great weekend.  I left the little one at home with her daddy (and my sister-in-law, who helped him out when he had to also be somewhere).  By the time I got home Saturday night, the little one was asleep.  When she woke up the next morning and realized I was home, she told me, "Mommy, promise me you'll never leave us."  Haha - I was gone for two days and one night!  While my child is quite dramatic, I do understand that in her little three-year-old world, that was a long time to be away from her Mommy.

Hope everyone's having a great week!  I'll probably be back Wednesday or Thursday.

~ G

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just a few more days...then SUMMER!

Happy Friday!  This is actually the last Friday I'll see my students.   There are only four days left of school. Where did the year go? ? ?

I'm excited for summer - there's so much to do with M. We had a blast last summer going to the theme park, children's museum, festivals, free shows, etc., and I can see us doing it all over again this year -- and probably even more.  Summer reading starts soon, too.  We're shooting for 2,000+ pages this year. So much to look forward to...

I'll probably teach summer school again this year (it'll depend on whether there is enough demand for the class).  Most teachers would rather not teach in the summer, but I happen to like it.  It's very laid-back, it's only part-time, and it's an advancement class (students take it to get ahead).  I think of it as my "side" job - a fun way to make extra income. I'll find out next week if the class makes. (If it doesn't, I'll be a stay-at-home mom for a two and a half months.  Hey, that works, too.)

Hey, remember these words from back in January?

I wanted that degree for ME. And I still do.  I'm okay with not finishing it right now.  I'm 100% okay with my decision to take time off.  But I'm pretty sure I'll go back.  Probably sooner than later to finish what I started. I'm only three classes away from being done.  Totally doable. 

I could have continued with it semester, but I know it's not in my heart right now.  I just need to step back and get myself together.  Prepare for the extra challenge.  And that's what I'll be doing in the meantime.  Along with focusing more on things that I believe are more important at the moment. 


But I'll be back.  Trust me.  I'll be back.
  


Well, well, well -- I'm BACK.  I'm taking one class this summer (which actually started yesterday).  I'm on track for having my third (and LAST!) degree by the end of the year. That is, of course, if there are no more hiccups.

I was so yucked out by last semester that I was sure that I'd take a year or two off.  But then a few weeks ago, common sense just hit me in the forehead. It's time to start thinking about Baby #2.  And in order for me to even seriously consider that, I need to finish this degree.  I don't think my sanity could handle working, going to grad school, AND being a good mama to two little ones.  So putting off my EdS for another year or two would put off a sibling for M another year or two.  I want that to be my decision when the time comes - not a decision based on the fact that I still have professional goals to reach.  (My second reason for wanting to finish?  I'm going to need a RAISE to afford a second baby! Sheesh - these little people are expensive!)

Speaking of little people, I found these snapshots of M from a couple of months ago (totally forgot I had them).  We were just outside in the yard one day, and I wanted to capture some of her nature-loving ways. Love my girl.




Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend (Family, Food, & The Hunger Games)


Our Mother's Day cake from my favorite bakery.

Hope all you mamas out there enjoyed Mother's Day.  I'm still not used to people saying Happy Mother's Day to me, and this is basically my fourth Mother's Day.  I guess I only think of my own mom when it comes down to it.


Speaking of that, I realize how incredibly blessed I am to still have my mother.  I hear people say all the time to enjoy your mother while you have her, and I really try to do that.  Not only am I thankful that she's here and healthy, but I'm also thankful for the person she is.  She's so caring and understanding, yet she's spunky and funny.  I know I've said this many times, but she is THE most genuine person I know.  And she puts up with me, which says a lot.

On Mother's Day, I woke up to the funniest little girl in the world who, after telling me "Happy Mother's Day" and that "they (she and her daddy) love me," that it was actually Valentine's Day, not Mother's Day.  I'll take it.  I guess that means she really loves her mama.

 I then got to spend a couple of hours with mom, grandma, and aunts...


...all women who helped raise me.  I'm tellin ya, I come from good stock.  Loving, hardworking women.


Grandkids (+1 Great Grand)

We had just a small lunch at my grandmother's house with her four (of five) daughters and four (of her 12) grandkids.  It was simple and sweet...and then we all went home to spend the rest of the day with other family/friends.

My in-laws were in our area this weekend, too.  We went to a baseball game, DK's spring football game, and went to dinner a couple of times.  My mother- and sister-in-law offered to take M to soccer Saturday morning so I could have some "me" time.  Wasn't that kind? I was SO grateful. Time alone to do something for me?  I'll take it.

So I pulled up my movie app and found a local theater that had a morning show for The Hunger Games.  The timing was perfect because I'd just FINALLY finished the book and was hoping I'd get a chance to catch the movie before it left theaters.  I've had students for the past few years rave about The Hunger Games book and I honestly didn't have any interest in it until they made a big movie out of it.  And if I go see the movie, I HAVE to read the book first. So I did, and I was surprised that I really liked the book.  And I thought the movie was pretty awesome, too (Jennifer Lawrence was GREAT).  Two and a half hours of watching a movie with nothing or no one calling my name (like a messy kitchen or a three-year-old who calls me every five minutes from her bed) -- just what Mama needed.

So Mother's Day weekend was a perfect mixture of activity and "me" time.  And lots of little reminders of just how very blessed I am.

Hope you guys are having a good week. May has been busy, and I still have a few more things to do.  Looking forward to a more relaxing June.

~ G

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

M & Me & Fashion



M is so very aware of what she wears every day.  I dress her in classic little girls clothes -- mostly jumpers and dresses.  She likes most of what I dress her in, but she prefers skirts and leggings (which I think is too "big-girly").  There have been quite a few mornings where M has flat out told me she doesn't like what I've chosen for her.  Just this morning she cried because she had to wear jeans.  She hates jeans. (I don't blame her.  I do, too.  But it's raining today.) That girl.

Speaking of fashion, I have a love/hate relationship with it (when it comes to dressing myself).  I'm a very blah dresser unfortunately.  I don't care for trends.  If everyone's wearing it, then I don't wanna.  When I do find myself in one of the latest trends, I feel like such a follower -- which falls in the same category as blah to me.  I prefer a carefree, choose-your-own kinda style.  The only problem with that is I'm not brave enough to wear the cute outfits in my head.  So I live through people like Kendi, an everyday girl who throws simple pieces together to make magic.

I'm a little better with accessories, though.  I love unique, handmade pieces (like the kind from my favorite Etsy shop).  That courage just doesn't carry over into my wardrobe.  If you can even call it that.  Add the fact that I hate shopping PLUS I'm super frugal when it comes to clothes, then you have a very sad case. The show What Not to Wear calls me every week.*  I turn them down.  I don't do reality TV.

So, anyway, I think it's hilarious that M has such an opinion about her outfits.  She usually comes home and immediately finds a skirt and some leggings.  Here's one of her simpler looks:

This Girl

Just in case you're interested in these looks, I've included the details below (like on the fashion blogs).  I crack myself up.

{{{Top Outfit: Snow White costume top. Skirt: Handmade (not by me - it was a gift). Leggings: OshKosh. Bracelet, Earrings, and Headband: Disney Princess Treasure Chest.}}}

{{{Bottom Simpler Outfit:  Top: Carter's undershirt.  Leggings: Really just some old Gap PJ pants I got at a consignment shop.  Skirt: JKhaki. Bracelet: Children's Place.  Socks: Target.  Shoes:  Speedo POOL SHOES - haha!}}}


Have a good day!

~ G

* They really don't.  But when I see an unknown number on my caller ID, I think it's them.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mama.

We had a great weekend.  I got a few things done around the house, M had another soccer class, and we went to a baseball game.  The sweetest part of our weekend was my mom's birthday dinner.  We got together with some family and celebrated her 50 years.


All of a sudden, 50 isn't as old as it used to be.  I've always seen my mom as young, and I still do.  I just hope she's passed those good genes down to me...


She got some great gifts, but her favorite was thrift store gift certificates.  Not kidding.  You should have seen her reaction -- it was hilarious -- you would've thought it was a million dollars.  I know thrifting is a huge blogging trend right now, but my mama's an old school thrifter.  I'm willing to bet everything she has on in this picture is thrifted - down to the earrings.  And she always finds this great stuff.  Just this weekend, she gave me a bag with 10+ dresses for M.  And the dresses she gets aren't just regular ol' dresses -- many times they're high-end/smocked.  She's a pro.     


Anyway, my mom is the sweetest, most genuine person I know.  She's funny and sassy, yet she has the most gentle soul. I'm pretty lucky she's mine.  

I hope everyone has a great week!  I'll be back in a day or two.

~G

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

M's First Soccer Class


M had her very first soccer class on Saturday!  DK and I have our own list of things we want our kid(s) to try or be a part of at some point, and soccer is on both our lists.  (DK played as a kid.  I didn't, so I'll be learning about the game right along with M).  

We're trying a couple of classes at a local soccer center.  There are just so many to choose from around here, we haven't yet decided where we'll settle.  But we've got a while before we make the decision.


This class focuses more on motor skills, coordination, balance, flexibility, and confidence.




M did great for her first time -- and she LOVED it!


So much that she was NOT happy when it was time to go.  So I'm excited about taking her back. Maybe she'll like soccer -- who knows, it could be the first thing to which we'll make some kind of commitment.  We'll see...

Hope everyone's having a great week! :-)

~G

Stuff I Talk About

2011 30 day shred age update AKA animals anniversary appreciation aquarium around the house art museum Atlanta baby/toddler sleep issues baking bama football beach birthday birthday party blog awards blog buddies blogher books camping causes celebrations celebrities cheer days childhood children's museum children's theater Christmas christmas card class reunion college days concert conference cousins crafts dance date night dating days deals decluttering dentist Disney dk easter engagement facebook faith fall fun family family fun fashion father's day favorite blogs field trip field trips football friday flashback friends fun event funny pic Gaylord Opryland genealogy girl scouts goals god grad school grateful graves' disease Halloween health holidays Hollywood honeymoon instagram Iron Bowl key west kindermusik learning letter to my daughter library Los Angeles m me miami mlk day morgan is three museum Nashville national championship game natural hair nature new look new orleans New Years nyc out on the town parks parties phone fun pinterest play days at home playdate playground action pregnancy professional development Race for the Cure raleigh ramblings reading Recipes relay for life school program shows singing skating snow soccer social networking sorority spring break spring fun stress summer summer fun summer reading summer to do list teacher life technical difficulties terrible twos Thanksgiving the girls the park theme park thomas and friends three thyroid tragedy trains traveling tricycle trips twitter valentine's day video walk for autism water play we love being outside wedding wordless wednesday work wrapup Yo Gabba Gabba zoo
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