Sunday, July 13, 2014

What happens in Vegas will NOT stay in Vegas!

Oh my awesomeness!

I am back in Illinois after a
weekend in Vegas!

But I wasn't there for 
the slot machines.
I spent (lost.wasted.threw away)
around $3.00 on the slots,
and I met my quota.
My gambling days in Vegas are over.
In fact, 20 years ago 
(wowzers...I'm dating myself), 
the money used to come out of the slot machine...
but now, the machine prints out a piece of paper
for you to take to the cashier.
And...Yes.  I actually cashed in
my winnings totaling 5 cents.
I want my nickel!
I was there for the first ever
Teachers Pay Teachers conference.
That was so EXCITING to hear Amy announce that
it was the first Annual TPT Conference
at the beginning!  I felt like I was
witnessing a momentous event!
I have been fortunate enough
to go to several conferences over
the past 20 years.
Nothing, I mean, NOTHING
compares to this one.

I'm not gonna lie.
When the lady at the counter
handed me my bag of goodies and said, 
"Welcome to the first ever TPT conference."
I couldn't believe that I was there.
So blessed!

Ater a year and a half
I FINALLY got to meet...

...that's right!
I got to meet my bloggin' buddy,
Regina, aka Queen Chaos.
Hi Angela!
And OMG!
People, Regina has some hair!
Yes. Angela wanted to pet me.
I could NOT stop saying, 
"Your hair!"
(Sorry Regina!)
My hair has always been a real divisive issue.
Either people absolutely love it,
or they hate one is ever
a fence sitter when it comes to my hair.
I've learned to live with it
and accept that I am who I am!
But it is so big, beautiful,  
and naturally curly.

So after meeting a year and half ago on TPT,
bloggin' for over a year,
owning a new store together for a few months,
(Not to mention a joint bank account....
my husband thinks I'm a total nut!
Luckily, he supports me in all my nuttiness!)
we FINALLY met face to face.
And we should both get SQUIRREL!
tattooed on our foreheads!
Our poor husbands!
Just saying...

I traveled to Vegas with 
I loved meeting Becky!
She is so nice and FUNNY!
OK....see Becky's hair?
That's the kind of hair I always wanted...
And Angela's hair....can you say Farrah Fawcett flips?
Jealous much?

While we were there, we met and hung out with
ANOTHER mother of four!
I have four, Becky has four,
and Lauren has four children.
Do you see a running theme here?
I think having children really makes you
get out of your comfort zone
and  get busy figuring out different ways
to have enough to buy those 6 gallons of milk
my kids go through during a week!
  During Happy Hour we got TPT tattoos...
...chill out people.  They were removable!

YES, and I still was the stick in the mud
standing to the side, saying "No thank you".
I'm lame, I know, tattoos are just not my thing.
Funny side note:
While walking through the hotel casino....
(You can't get anywhere in the hotel without going
through the casino. Well played, Venetian, well played.)...
Angela and Becky were stopped by a husband & wife who
had a bet to see if these TPT tattoos were real or removable.
The man was convinced that they were the real deal,
while the woman (probably a mom) said, no way,
those are the fake wash on/wash off type.
Of course, a woman would know.

I was lucky that my good friend, Ma Chérie,
stayed a week with me in Vegas so that we could
go to the I Teach K SDE Conference,
and then I ended the week with the TPT Conference. 
Exhausting....but well worth every minute!


The conference itself was amazing!
The presenters were incredible.
Super smart and sincere people.
Wow.  That's all I've got.  Wow.
I have soooo much homework to do.
No kidding!
I did get the first thing on my list done.
I went to Rachel Lynette's seminar...

so store picture change is for you!
Do you like it?
You inspired me! 
Side Note: My finger is actually pointing
to a sign that says, "Wedding Chapel".
King Common Sense made Ma Chérie
promise to not let me get myself married
in Vegas, so I had to tease him! 
Crop, crop, crop, and voilà! New store pic!

Thank you TPT for doing such
an excellent job of choosing 
the presenters and the topics.
Thank you TPT!
Tremendous Presenters Teaching
Terrific People Together
Totally Perfect Trip

Getting to see almost 800 TPT sellers
all in one room was absolutely cray-cray.
I was just one curly haired dot in a sea of sellers.
To see the faces behind
the TPT store fronts was a lot fun.
I actually sat next to a lady who looked
very familiar.  After speaking with her,
I realized that I had actually bought clip art
from her was really cool to figure that out!
 Hi Rebekah!

I also got to meet the fabulous Cara Taylor!
I hunted her down in Nikki's clip art class...
I just knew that she'd be there!
(Hi there, my cyber friend!)
She was sweet enough to send me these pics!
See why I just love her!
Then 2 Super Teachers found
me at the same class!
It was so fun running into people
that I've talked to on TPT!
(Yes, Cara's in the background taking the picture!)

I buy clip art from all 3 sellers....Hi ladies!
In fact, Victoria and Tricia (the 2 Super Teachers)
had a hand drawn picture of Mel 
...another awesome clip art seller that I love)
and were going around having people sign it
for her since she couldn't make it from Australia.
Super cute idea!  Everyone just said, "Aw" when
they learned what these 2 fabulous teachers were doing.
Hi Mel! It's Regina. I signed your pic!
However, as awesome as all of that was, 
I can easily say that my favorite
part of the day was the keynote address.
It was given by the big guy himself, 
Mr. Paul Edelman, 
a.k.a. Everybody's hero.

Being a sap, I sooo appreciated
that Paul's parents and his wife
were in the room to see the
heartfelt standing ovation
when he stood to speak.

Learning about the full history of TPT,
hearing about the current state of TPT,
meeting the staff members
and the board of directors was all so very cool.
So proud to be a part of such an awesome community!
Typically, it's just me and my computer
hanging out on my couch!
This gathering, was an eye opening experience!
I got to put faces and personalities with people...
I found out that Nikki Casassa,
the creator of Melonheadz,

is extremely humble and gracious....
Love.Love.Love her work!
Hi Nikki!  Has anyone told you
that you're fabulous today?
My turn....Nikki.You.Are.Fabulous! 

Paul was even gracious enough
to give selfies, 
over, and over, and over again
with each of us.

Yes. We were shameless.
EVERYONE wanted a picture with Paul.
Thank you are our Number 1 Superhero!

I can only imagine how overwhelmed
Paul was as teacher after teacher
gave their sincere thanks to how
he has positively affected their lives.
I had to let him know how much I appreciated
TPT and how it pays for my kids'
6 gallons of milk every week as well as
putting braces on both my boys' teeth.
I actually missed Golden Boy's birthday
so that I could go to Vegas...
so my kids went to the beach without me.
 See 2 boys?  See 2 sets of braces?
Thank you, Paul!

He just chuckled,
and said that a smile is really important for kids.

Wow....that's all I've got.
I am exhausted but feeling oh so blessed.
Ditto.  Can't function.
But that's just fine by me.
I'm sitting in my post travel stupor
with a smile on my face.

Angela.....we actually
made it to Vegas
and back!
Who would have thought?!?
I know right?!
So blessed!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Books, Books, and MORE Books!

I love to read.
  One of life's little luxuries.
I've read an entire series
this summer.
..and it's only July... 
In fact, I learned how to read on my own
before ever going to school.
My bloggin' buddy is gifted.

We were living in Milwaukee,
and I was supposed to start Kindergarten.
I went to my Kindergarten class one day.
Uh, I'm calling the truancy officer.
That's it.
One Day.
Every day after that,
I would make up a fake illness
and insist that I was in too much
pain to attend school.
Oh, you were one of "those" kids?!
In my five year old brain,
my performance was Oscar worthy.
I was taken to the doctor several
times by my mother,
and finally one day she had enough.
...and so did her insurance company!
She was ready to make a deal.

We were moving to Spain
...because that's a sentence we all say..
right before Christmas,
so she told me that I could
stay home from school until we
moved to Madrid.  Then I would have
to go to school whether I liked it or not.
That seemed like a good bargain,
so I took it!

I know....all of your teachers
out there are just rolling your eyes, and thinking:
I were THAT type of a child!
LOL!  See above!

Don't worry,
I've had plenty of time to make up my
childhood Kindergarten loss...
I've spent 8 years teaching it!
How did THAT happen?
Karma, people....Karma.
It bit you firmly on the butt....
...while you're on the class carpet
with a lot of short people.
As my older brother and sister
got up every morning to take a ride
on the yellow school bus,
I got to stay home with my mother
and the baby.
You realize they secretly plotted
to get you right?
Can you say jealous much?
I remember watching Sesame Street,
Mr. Rogers, Zoom, and The Electric Company
daily.  My mother would read to me every day, and
she'd follow my 5 year old directions of how to
make playdough that I learned from Mr. Rogers.
I remember watching all of the phonemic clips on
The Electric Company and Sesame Street
with great interest.  Remember the double-sided screen
with two people's mouths facing each other...
SH......IP = SHIP
H......OT = HOT
P.....OP = POP
Remember it?  Girrrrrl, they still do that!
Check out my Reading Video board

on Pinterest for a walk down memory lane.
I can't find the OLDER version....but here's
a new cooler version with  silhouettes
from The Electric Company.
AW SNAP!  I guess I should read
your entire post before I add my 2 cents!
Can you say great minds think alike?
I decided to list ALL of the ones I found so that
I can access them easily this year!

 Short "i": Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
e/ee: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 Long and short "u": Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
st: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
ight: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
aw: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 ink: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 mb: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 br: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 ell: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 Silent "e": Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 Bossy "r": Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 ou: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)

 ao: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 oo: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
sh: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 lt/ld: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
mp: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 ly song: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
br: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
 ing song: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
mp: Silhouette Blends (The Electric Company)
After watching these type of activities
on The Electric Company: young brain thought.

Then we moved to Spain.

I was taken immediately to  a 
Private British Montessori School
and enrolled into Kindergarten.
I remember a meeting that the teacher
had with my mother about 2 days later.
She let my mother know that I could read
and was far past what she could teach
me in Kindergarten.
Put your hand in the air
and pat yourself on the back!
My mother just looked at me.
I just looked at her.
She was surprised.
Very surprised.

So off to First Grade I went.

To the class of Mrs. EYE.

Looking back now,
I'm sure her name was Mrs. I
(short for a longer name beginning with that letter),
but for years I thought that it was "Eye" like "EYEBALL".
As in: I'm Always Watching You!
She was evil.
I walked in and all of the children were sitting up
straight and tall, no backs were touching their chairs.
Slouching was not allowed in Mrs. Eye's classroom.
Good golly, I just sat up straighter...and I'm 44 not 6!

Unbeknownst to me (and my mother),
there was a good reason why everyone
had such great posture.
Mrs. Eye did not like slouchers.
She didn't like them....not one little bit.

She had a long, thick, brown, leather belt
with a huge, clunky brass buckle at the end of it
that she would use to smack
the back of your small, wooden chair.
It was her husband's belt,
and she handled it like a
professional bullwhip cracker.'t?!
The first time I witnessed
her cracking her belt buckle,
saying I was completely freaked out
is an understatement.
Uh, that's a memory tattooed to your brain
She never hit the back of MY chair
(thanks to my countless hours
of pretending to be a regal princess),
...believing you're a pampered pooch
can come in handy...
but I witnessed her whip the backs
of several children's chairs.
I can still hear the crack of the belt
and the heavy thud of the belt buckle striking
the wooden chair of an unsuspecting child
who would jump a good 2 feet in the air
when his/her chair was thwacked.

She asked me to read a passage
from "Dick And Jane".
I remember looking
at the page full of words,
and I could read it.
I could read it ALL.
But I was so frightened,
that my tongue wouldn't move.
I just stood there.
I just stood there holding
the book...the book I could read...
without saying a word
while the clock ticked,
and Mrs. Eye's eye watched me.
I stood there,
until a very brave soul
whispered the words to me.
It was a chubby, dark haired boy
who was sitting next to me.
I never knew his name....
so thank you, whoever you are,
you rescued my backside
or at least my pride (believe me
when I say that I would have
peed my pants if Mrs. Eye
started toward me with her
heavy belt buckle).
Wow....let's hope that
"those" teachers have
all retired!

I lasted for a day and a half in First Grade.
That's it.

I started crying uncontrollably.
As in, wailing, and sobbing.
Mrs. Eye was in a panic.
She had no idea what to do with
this American child

Remember me?
I'm the one who didn't go to school for 4 months?
If I start something....I'm all in!
That's dedication my friend.

She called my sister over from 2nd Grade
to console me and see if she could help.
She left us alone in the hallway,
so I was able to tell my big sister
in between gasping sobs
what was happening in the classroom.

When my mother found out.
She pulled me out.
She insisted that the school
send me back to Kindergarten.
She didn't care if I was academically
ready for First Grade,
obviously I wasn't emotionally ready...
especially for a psychopathic teacher.
Go, Mom!

Back to Kindergarten I went.
Thank you very much.
Back to crafts and naps and snack.
...and the freedom to slouch...

Maybe THAT'S why
I've stayed
in Kindergarten
for the past 8 years...
I consider it a safe haven!

I never saw Mrs. Eye again.
She no longer taught at the school
when I moved up to First Grade,
so I'm hoping that they fired her. 

I do sometimes wonder
what The Evil Mrs. Eye would have 
done if she ever came across a student
such as the little boy in the
No David series by David Shannon.
I would hope HIS mother would pull him
from her class as well!
Buh-Bye To Mrs. Eye!

Here's to children everywhere who
don't always fit the mold....
and to teachers who love them
and teach them anyway.
...and sometimes they even grow up 
to be famous adults that give those
teachers props for being so patient with them.
Just saying...

Davis Goes To School:
Alphabet Handwriting Practice

Dang girl!  That'a TON.
Thanks for sharing...
You're good like that.

Davis Goes To School:
Beginning and Ending Sounds
Create cvc words by writing in
both the beginning and ending sound.
 Here's a little harder version with blends:
If you'd like some other No David
freebies....check out our post: Have You Ever...?????

Talking about books....
and reading books in a classroom...

I am so excited to say that we have our
first Back To School Level B, Level D,
Level G, and Level I Guided Readers ready!
I am so geeked about these!
Every time I check out the completed product
I am SUPER excited to use them myself!
Teacher created, Teacher tested,

Teacher approved!!!

Back To School B-2 Guided Reading Book
Back To School D-6 Guided Reading Book

Back To School G-12 Guided Reading Book
Seeing these books get progressively harder,
just makes me smile!

Level L is coming! 

I am going to love me some
guided reading this year
as I print these bad boys out
and let my kiddos keep
their individual differentiated readers
in their book boxes.
Confessions of an
overworked reading teacher:
Last year, with 54 students
...before you all think she has 54 kids
jammed into a small classroom, 
Regina actually taught Reading
to ALL of the Kindergarten students
in her building.
Can you say pressure much?!
I TRIED to keep book boxes
 for my kids, but with SO many students
it was a complete disaster.
Trying to trade out books
into their 54 book boxes
was a nightmare. 
By mid-January my attempts were over.

Now that we're making these amazing sets,
I'm so, so, so excited to try out
the 54 book boxes with a different angle.
We used the Mom set

for more than a day or two.
We jammed the set with so many
activities that we really
got a lot of use out of them!
I can't wait to see what the
rest of the teaching world thinks!
There's not going to be any
trading out books on my part...
each child will just receive
and keep his/her guided reading books
for their own reading level....
I can't wait to try this out in September!
Now to save up my pennies
to buy 54 $ Store boxes...
First comes our Vegas Trip!!!

I'm so excited!
I get to meet my bloggin' buddy
and a whole bunch of TPT peeps.
Me=SUPER excited

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