Sunday, October 20, 2013

I've just been Boo'ED

I woke up this morning to find my Facebook feed splashed with pictures from my sister's Halloween Party she held last night. Sadly, I could not be there since she lives in Maine and I live in Georgia. It got me thinking though, about how the holiday of Halloween has changed.

When I was a kid, I don't recall my elementary school holding costume parades or even allowing us to wear costumes to school on the fateful day. I do remember being pent up the entire day, vividly. That anxious anticipation of all out fun started about a week out when the Halloween shows began. My favorite to this day is It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. There were others like Fat Albert and Scooby Doo Halloween specials. Am I dating myself here or what?

One year I remember sitting on the couch watching the animated showing of Gulliver's Travels and just waiting for my mother to announce, "It's time." That meant I could finally put on my Darth Vader costume and grab my pillow case off the bed to scour my neighborhood for the best candy. We had to wait until it got dark before we could go out Trick or Treating. Then we had to hear the dreaded news whether or not we had to wear our jackets over our costumes because it was too cold outside to run around in paper thin plastic capes. My 'neighborhood' consisted of four streets packed with homes that ran along two main streets. My house was on the front busiest street so we had to start there to hopefully avoid the traffic. But the rest were a free for all as we ran hither and thither collecting sugary goodness until we couldn't carry out pillow cases without dragging them.

Nowadays schools have put a Stop Gap on anything Halloween, canceling all parties, worksheets, movies, and mentioning of the holiday. It saddens me but I understand that we need to respect the religion and beliefs of all the children in our classrooms. My principal has found a way to still throw some fun our way during this time. We are having a Book Character Dress Up Day on Thursday, October 31. My grade level has talked about going with a common theme for the teachers, but nothing has been solidified as of yet. I don't think there will be any candy passing, but there might be a parade through the halls. Should be fun!

That's me as Harry Potter for last year's parade. 

So, here's what this post is all about. I am BOO'ing two of my BBB (best blogging buddies) through their email and challenging them to BOO two others. Then they are to write a post about what they do during this time of year. Now I want to hear all sides, from those that still celebrate Halloween, and those who don't believe in it. I'm really interested in how Halloween is taken around the world.

Once you've BOO'ed and blogged, come back here and LINK up with this thread so I can read all about what goes on for you as October nears its end. Make sure to use my BOO Logo up above in your posts.

As some added fun, however many folks link up between now and October 31 will determine the sales percent I throw up on my TpT store. So if 100 people link up, I'll have a 10% sale from November 1-3. If 200 people link up, it'll be 20%. So make sure you encourage your BOO'EES to link up! Does this mean if 1000 people link up, I'll have a three day long FREEBIE sale at my TpT Store? (Yep, can you see my freaking out face right now?)

Thanks for playing!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday writing - Thank You Letters

Today was the first meeting of our Photography Club. 20+ faces arrived bright and early at 7 A.M. to join me in my room as we started the year off right! I handed out yellow folders and explained that we would be talking all about Light and Photography, so yellow would help them remember how important light is to taking pictures. They all stared blankly at me, which I sort of expected.

Then I sprang the surprise I've been waiting for since August on them. I showed them the four cameras that we were given from I explained how some totally random people, complete strangers to each other and them, donated their hard earned money to help us out with our club. Their little jaws dropped when they heard how much money someone spent on them.

I asked how we could show our appreciation and they immediately wanted to make cards for the donors. I just happened to have some fun photo and film inspired thank you cards waiting to go. They jumped right onto it and managed to complete the cards before our 20 minute class time slot was complete. Yay!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - October Slant Boxes

I came across this little Swap Party on Bloglovin one day and thought I'd throw my hat into the ring. Who doesn't love getting mail that doesn't involve bills? One teacher sends you a box of goodies geared towards you (they kind of have to stalk your blog and social media to get ideas) and then you send a box to someone else. S.L.A.N.T. actually stands for Sending Love Across the Nation to Teachers and it was dreamed up by Jameson over at Lessons with Coffee.

She does this once a month and for October the theme is: Teaching can be Scary. That's another reason I jumped all over this. I'm having a scary time this year and I still feel knocked off my game of late, but hopefully a friendly chat with another teacher will help smooth the road ahead.

I've already been assigned and gotten email contacts from both  my person and my recipient. They are definitely eager beavers and I can't wait to find out more about them. My recipient actually lives in Australia. I'm sorta tempted to ask her if I can hand deliver the box to her, but it would be WAY passed the due date. Oh well.

The SLANT Box Exchange

Monday Mentor - Math Lit Connections

Today was a teacher workday, which translates into we were in meetings all morning. First we had an ESOL check up to make sure we were following our little darlings closely and adjusting curriculum to hit their weak areas. A lot of mine have problems in listening and speaking. I don't see much of a problem with their talking, they do that very well. But I digress.

Our next meeting was with our Literacy and  Math coaches to plan out the next nine weeks. I can hardly believe the first quarter is done and gone. This second one always flies by. This year is going to be even worse because I literally will by flying by on Week 8 to Australia!! But I digress. The math coach did an awesome job collecting a ton of books for each teacher to have in their classroom. Each title addresses some math concept in fun new ways.

We had to pick from the bucket of goodness and come up with ways that we could use the book in our classroom. We could make mini lesson, whole group instruction, or station idea suggestions from our book. I grabbed this neat little book called Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra by David A. Adler. It's October and this cover had all those perfect little ghosties and ghoulies on the cover. I used to love Halloween growing up but it seems to be squeezed out of the school system now.

This little nugget starts off teaching students what an equation is and why the two sides of an equal sign need to be balanced. Then it goes into variables and how to find the solution to algebra equations using all four mathematical operations. Mandy and Billy foolishly stop by a haunted house and have to solve the algebraic riddles to make it through. They count ravens on the wires, bats inside the belfry, and the obligatory skeletons in the closet. It's done in a simple and manageable style that I can't wait to try out on my students and make this a station for them to design their own story problems.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friday - Spraguers Takeover Atlanta

Thankfully my brain was not on school time this morning and I was able to sleep until 8. Kelly, Ann Marie, and Sabrina had already left for their VIP tour of CNN. The rest of the group met downstairs in the lobby for the continental and then hopped onto the Marta. As we were going through the day I said we would be 'jumping on Marta' and Jess expressed a hope that Marta was not in fact a person. She soon found out the loveliness that is Marta as we rode it three stops to the Peachtree Center. Then, typical of Atlanta, we had to walk a mile to get to the Georgia Aquarium. It was a bit chilly this morning for wearing shorts, but I powered through.

We had our group shot done outside and then wandered in to feel the stingrays and sharks. Two fingers please, no poking. Kristen almost got attacked by a feisty little number who liked to wave on top of the water. I think what saved her was definitely her sailor inspired garb; she was simply too cute to maim so the stingray floated away.

The group moved en masse through the circuit of the aquarium, stopping to ooh and ahh over the lion fish and oggle the electric eel, as well as snap pictures of the albino alligators. We had to hold Jana back when she discovered that the penguin exhibit was closed for maintenance. But she was placated by the super adorable sea otters who showed off for us. Then it was onto the belugas before lunch.

We spent an entire block of time just simply enjoying the Whale Shark exhibit. The soft lighting, the cool blues of the tank, the serene music all combined to make it a wonderful experience. If we had had some hot chocolate and a blanket, we could have stayed in there all day. The manta rays were having a ball inside the tank. We all wanted to join them as they did back flip after back flip. Jess provided voices for each and every fish that floated by. It was totally hysterical as she provided running commentary for the manta ray, "Away!"

After the aquarium, the group split up with half onto the World of Coca-Cola and the others to head back to the hotel. I hadn't been back to the World of Coke since they opened up the new location so it was all new to me. With Kelly's suggestion us GA residents were able to secure two entries for $20 and got everyone in. We could have done without the little entry video with crazy weird characters apparently living inside the Coke machines, of which I'm now a little afraid to approach. But we did enjoy the bottling plant and the vault. Very few of us, okay me, was brave enough to sample all of the drinks. Even the 'Beverly' from Italy. Uck! All hopped up on caffeine we walked back to Marta.

Dinner was going to be tight if the whole group was to meet, eat, and then head out to our prospective movies. We had planned on attending the IMAX and martinis showing at 9 called the Hidden Galaxy, while Jess and her crew went to watch Sandra Bullock being assaulted for 90 minutes. I tried getting reservations for 16 at Mary Mac's Tea Room but they wouldn't take them on the weekend and said their space was large enough we wouldn't have a problem. However when we did arrive, they said the wait would be 45 minutes. Crushed, we had to juggle the opportunity costs of the evening. IMAX was let go as we opted for a nice calm dinner with the group.

That was before we realized that Mary Mac's would LOAD us up with tons of food. We each got to try some Pot Likker (try saying that without a Southern Accent). Then they placed bread baskets full of yeast rolls and cornbread on the tables. THEN they bring out the baskets of the tastiest cinnamon rolls ever. Unfortunately, food arrived after this and it was all so good we had to eat it! Did I mention we each ordered desserts? Uh huh, I had to force myself to down that Peanut Butter Pie. It was horrible.

Tired, fat, and happy we all headed back to bed.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Spraguefest #6 - Let it begin


The second day of SpragueFest #6 is coming to a close. What a whirlwind, as always. It was so great to pull into the hotel and trudge upstairs to the room and see the door wide open just waiting for me. I called out to my normal roomie, Meg. The door across the hall flies open and out pours Ms. Jana and NanaJeanne. Seeing their smiles just made all my daily cares just wash away. The Hugging Time has begun. This is what I needed right now.

We immediately all gathered in the small couch and living area with a glass and just caught up. Hearing how Jana is enjoying her retirement, or, how she refers to it, her retarded time, and living it up without missing too much about working the grind. Also, hearing about how Meg's daughter is doing with her diving and how amazing she's gotten to the National level. I told them all about my new class and the daily struggle that entails.

By this time the sunlight is fading from the room and we get a text from the head group of that they are stuck behind an accident on 85, so we decide to head out for some pre-dinner food and spirits. We decide on the Prickly Pear right next to the scheduled dinner place. On the way we bump into four other Sprague Avatars coming up to the restaurant. They were going to drop off their fruit in the room and join us. Our giddiness of seeing each other did nothing for our usual restraint of menu ordering as we pile on the cheese dip, taquitos, BBQ chicken nachos and pitcher after pitcher. We totally took advantage of the gorgeous October weather and sat outside so we could keep an eye on the other restaurant in case another Avatar showed up.

It was getting later and colder but the laughter didn't stop. Around 8:30 I spy that familiar smile bebopping around the corner. Jessica Sprague had arrived. She saw us and set a beeline right for our table. Everyone jumped up and the Hugging Time began again. We paid up at the Pear and piled into Dressed, Salad with Style who turned out to be rude and told our friends they could only order something if they took it to go. Wow! Welcome to the Atl. The whole group skips back to the hotel and plunk ourselves out on their patio and just chill. The conversation was flowing so much we had to stop Jess so she could eat her sandwich after driving 8 hours to see us.

11:30 was our bedtime.

The next morning I was still on school time and was wide awake by 7A.M. Meg, however was not. I lay there staring at the ceiling debating whether or not to get up and blog, or pop open my tablet and read The Cuckoo Calling. But if I do that, I don't have the sound off my tablet and it would wake poor Meg up and that girl needs her sleep! Suddenly this tone starts building across the room. Her phone alarm is going off. Yay! I watch her reach for the bedside table then realize her phone isn't there, chuckle over her stumbling across the room to turn off her alarm. And watch her head right back to bed and throw the sheets over her head. She wasn't getting up.


But it happened again only 15 mins later. This time she puts her glasses on and I know she is up. I call out a cheery, "Morning" as I rush into the shower. I wanted to get downstairs and see how they had set up the Magnolia room for us to do our Speed-Spraguing. Plus, I needed coffee. I was dressed and ready in no time and came out of the bathroom to check on Meg.

She wasn't ready just yet. I head on down for some breakfast of waffles and blueberries with Britta. Then I checked into our meeting space and see the tables lined up in neat rows.This is not conducive to what I had in mind for Speed-Spraguing - think Speed Dating but with people you already know and love. It all worked out because as soon as we were all assembled you couldn't keep us quiet. We all introduced ourselves for poor Tristina who was the newest member of the Sprague Family. Then we all got caught up with each other's lives. We've been busy little beavers.

Around noon, we all headed out for a brisk little 17 minute walk to The Varsity for a little lunch. It was such a beautiful day and I got to chat some more with my favorite Tori in the whole world. We arrived to find the rest of the bunch already adorned with paper hats and wondering over their Frosted Oranges, or "F.O." Everyone agreed that the onion rings were awesome and this was a great choice for lunch.

We headed back for another walk down to Piedmont Park for our Photo Walk. I was leading this tour, so I was a little nervous. I dragged those poor ladies all over that place. We started at the 14th Street entrance and the Runner's Statue. They forced me to stand up on it for photo ops. Poor Jana thought the homeless man on the side of the base was part of the art and leaned over to take a picture. The look on her face when he moved was priceless.

We toured the circular recreation area and strolled around Lake Clara Meer. We crossed the foot bridge for some fun photos by the gazebo and then headed back to the hotel, very pooped. The hotel provided us with dinner vouchers at Marlowe's, which was our next destination. Had to start with the fried green tomato sliders and Kelly and I swapped out on some chipotle and bbq ribs. I recommend the Georgia Peach Lemonade.

The night was capped off with a little hangout session back in our conference room. Jess surprised us all with some really cool Basic Grey photo albums and plenty of embellishments to fill it up. She thanked us profusely for rearranging our lives to come and visit her. The gratitude was evident as she struggled mightily not to cry. We all hugged on her and thanked her in turn for all she has given us.

It was a great night.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Monday Mentor - Goal books

I've been meaning to start this since the summer, but haven't thought of the perfect way to do it. I want my students to set weekly goals for themselves. It can be anything from finishing their AR goals, to bringing their SS grade up, to staying in their seat. They get to pick, but I try to guide them into choosing things that I have to constantly remind them to stop doing. I repeat the same instructions to the same children over and over that I should bring a tape recorder to school.

But, like the good man says, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It's time to shake things up.

It came to me out of the blue as I was walking around during math class on Friday. What about small individual notebooks that they can keep in their desks? Then I can write in the goals and make notes or do little punchouts on the pages for each day they are successful during the week. It will keep them on track and hopefully keep me sane.

I found all these cute little notebooks at Target and Jo-ann's. I now need to figure out how to let them pick their notebooks. Do I let the frequent flyers in my room go first so they they buy into the whole idea? Do I do it by the best behaved kids? Or pick names from a hat?

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tuesday Tried It - Goal Weight

If you follow me on FB or have been reading my post blogs lately, you are going to be tired of hearing about this. But I am so freaking excited, I can hardly believe it.

I met my goal weight!

Back in March of this year I weighed in at my highest weight ever, 220. My family has issues with weight and I got complacent about watching it. Then finally I stepped on that deadly weapon, the bathroom scale, and my jaw dropped. It just got to that point where I said, "NO!"

Sitting with a friend in a bar snacking on buffalo chicken wings drenched in blue cheese I caught an infomercial about a weight loss program. They were doing the ubiquitous before and after shots and I turned to her and said, "I want to look like that!" She replied that we would make the perfect Before models.

Mmm-mmm. Nope. Not this guy.

I went home and bought the program called Tapout. It promised a slimmer and trimmer you in only 90 days. It wasn't a diet pill or involved ingesting chemicals into my body. It was just a good old fashioned workout program that would take the weight off naturally. I have a aversion to medicines and worry about taking the wrong ones, so I opted for buying this program hoping it would do the trick.

It's a dvd workout program where you follow an MMA style fight training for an hour a day six days a week. It was hard and I sweated a lot. But I kept at it.

By the end of the 90 days I did lose weight, 42 pounds. I was also noticing some muscle definition that I had never had in my entire life. I was pleased with the results but wanted more. I went through the program for another 90 days, but didn't lose a single pound. It wasn't until my third rotation that the weight started coming off again.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 was the day. I stepped on the scale and saw that implausible number I set down almost seven months ago. 175 was the lowest I ever remember being in my adult life and that was some 12 years ago. And I did it.

My next goal? To get to my suggested height weight BMI number - 165.

Currently - October

I have actually been looking forward to linking up with Farley at Oh Boy! Fourth Grade again. It means another month has slipped away and the holiday season is upon us. October is like the gateway to non-stop holiday fun. I love me some Halloween and spend the entire month shivering on the couch watching horror movie after bad horror movie. My idea of F.U.N.

Farley had her newest Currently already up and running when I checked in this morning, so here is my version:

Don't you just love the spooky color palette of the background? Shiver!

Listening: So, G. informs me that we aren't in for our usual Saturday routine of laundry, groceries and the occasional haircut. He had to work. For two hours! I plugged away on the computer playing catch=up with my blog reading. Then he sends me off on my own to do the grocery shopping since he'll be another hour. Ugh.

Loving: Bath and Bodyworks had a coupon recently for a free small candle. They had some great new scents for Fall, like Leaves and Autumn Road. But I chose Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin. It is so yummy! I find myself just walking by, popping the lid and taking a whiff. Am I weird?

Thinking: I need to go shopping! I met my implausible goal weight of 175, down from 220, on Wednesday. Now even some of my skinny pants don't fit. In a good way!

Wanting: I have 38 wonderful online friends trooping into Atlanta this Wednesday. And to welcome them to town I wanted to make little goodie bags filled with treats. One is going to be a Savannah inspired pecan turtle. But I need a candy thermometer to make sure I reach the 240 degree stage to set up my caramel. Somehow it's going to be difficult to keep my hands off these treats.

Needing: Currently all of my belts are wrapping around my body and all the way to the back. I've had to drill holes in them in order to continue using them. But I want a real belt, preferably something cool. See Thinking above.

Trick or Treat: I live in my school's backyard, literally. And there are tons of kids in my neighborhood who attend the school I teach in. I see them occasionally, but would rather they not know which house is mine. I've had to turn many away when they want to come over and 'visit.' Halloween Night is tricky. Normally I go out to dinner and avoid the whole scene. I got started doing this because I had two crazy dogs that could never handle so many visitors at the front door. Imagine trying to hold a bowl of candy and restrain a wild beagle from attacking small children. Awkward. But this year, my pups have passed onto the Rainbow Bridge and I am free to open my doors wide. Will I? We shall see.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Life's a Beach

You would think that the week of parent conferences would knock me off my blogging track. Nope! It was the week after. Life's been sorta crazy over here. And next week is going to ramp it up a notch, but for a completely happy reason.

My annual get together with the most amazing online community will begin next Wednesday. The people at are so cool and I love hanging out with them. This year they are all coming to ME! Needless to say I offered to help coordinate activities and funstuff for the weekend. So if you are reading my blog next week and see recaps of cool digital scrapping ideas and loads of trouble from Atlanta, you know what it's all about.

Hopefully life will be back to normal the next week and I will have more teaching life to share!