A Tale of a Few Words...

We are almost to the end of 2013 and I have to say I am not completely sorry to see it go. It hasn’t been the worst of year, but it has not been the best of years either. There have been things to celebrate, but also things to forget or tuck away to dissect at another time.
Not as epic as Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities-
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . ."
But at times I could feel as muddled as the quote relates. Not only in my personal life but in school, writing and learning. When I look back of course these ups and downs were apparent to only me, and maybe of only my doing. As I’ve often written before I seem to be in search of somethingmoreor maybe less. I’m not sure.
So now that the year is at last near its end I am looking into the horizon of the new. New Year, new experiences, new thoughts, plans, hopes, dreams, and of course like many of you a new “word.” My One Little Word that will hold me and guide me throughout our new year.
I have tried out many. As usual I want it to be just right. I always seem to put a lot of importance on my word. So much so that it almost seems it should be known as One BIG Word. THE word. A word to keep in my head, hold in my head, and live in my heart. So much to ask of one little word.
Like so many women I have a multitude of items I juggle day in and day out. It was these I thought of when I tried out my words. The first one that came to me was “Build.” I thought of building new relationships, building a new learning community, a new writing area, and maybe build just something new. But it just didn’t feel right.

So then I tried out “Mindfulness.” I want to be mindful of my life, home, job, growth. I just want to be more mindful. But it just didn’t fit.
I needed Drive. Drive to exercise consistently. Drive to get things done, and follow through. Drive to find new roads and discover new ways. I needed drive to find my word. But I was getting nowhere, because even Drive didn’t feel familiar.    
I tried out choices, discover, insistent, strive, purposeful, and serendipity (which is really fun to say), and yet none of them seemed like a good fit for all areas of my life.
And then it hit me. What I have been looking for. What maybe I have been searching for this past year is what I want to start my year with this year Balance.

Balance in all areas. School, work, home, mind, play, family, pleasure, experiences, purpose, building, writing, blog, creating, exercise and diet, choices, drive, and yes serendipity.  

So my One Little Big Word for 2014 is Balance. What is yours? 
Join up with Sunny Days in Second Grade to tell us the truth

about your OLW!

13 For 13 a Linky Party!

Good gracious it’s hard to believe it’s been three weeks since I’ve blogged. It hasn’t really even been on my mind until my mom (my most faithful reader) mentioned it to me the other day. It has just been a crazy busy few weeks that have come and gone in a whirlwind. I’ve not only not had time to write I’ve also not had time to read other blogs. Tonight I decided I’d do a bit of catching up and found this fun linky party from 3 of my favorite bloggers! Kristin, Hadar and Traci It’s called 13 for 13 and we’re supposed to link up with 13 things from this year. I’m not sure I can even remember the entire year but I’ll do my best!

Well that’s a tough one right off the bat. I don’t buy myself a lot of clothingso I guess I’d have to say the pair of “boyfriend” jeans I got at Maurice’s this past spring. They fit just right and every time I wear them someone asks if I’ve lost weight! Woo hoo that makes anything good.

Hmmmm favorite movie? From this year? This decade? Hmmmmm let’s see I liked Frozen the other day. We went as a school for a reward for those kids that passed the principal’s math challengeI can’t remember what movie I saw before thatbut it was really cute!

Favorite TV series? Well I do like the Big Bang Theory, Suits is good, and Justified is mine and hubby’s favorite winter show. But I really like the new comedy The Miller’s it cracks me up. Did you know that it is written by that kid that won Survivor last year? The nerdy one with the weird nameanyway it is fun-ny!

We have TWO new restaurants in our town count them TWO it is way exciting. One is a sit down place called the Ground Round. I guess it’s a chain of some kind. They have FRIED Oreos. I don’t really like Oreos but my hubby does! They are really rich I took a bite of one. That was enough. The other new place is FREDDY”S I love Freddy’s I could become addicted. I try not to go to town!

A favorite new thing I triedhummm I’d have to say Whole Brain Teachingin the classroom. I did some reading about it this summer and tried a few things at the start of the year, and I have to say I really like it. I’m not an expert, but I do think I’ll do a bit more research on it this summer.

My kids got me this super cool pair of Ray Ban sun glasses for Mother’s Day. I love them and wear them always. I get a lot of compliments on them they are sooooo fashionable. That’s me a fashionista!
 Yikes pinning I do. A LOT. I have been some really great recipes and tons of school ideas. It’s hard to pick just one. Here is my page of just Christmas ideas. I wish I had enough time to do them all. http://www.pinterest.com/bloggygal/christmas-ideas/

Favorite blog post.I have not had as many as I’d like this year. At times my usually wealth of gab seemed to be dry this year, especially since school started. I really enjoyed my month long challenge of classroom smiles and think I will redo it as a weekly post in the New Year. I guess my favorite would have to be the one of my slices (from the Slice of Life Challenge) that made me think about my life, future, and directionmuch like this linky party is doingJ It's a Tough Question

My best accomplishment this year and every year since 1989 has been my children. They never cease to amaze me with their generosity, love and beautiful hearts. And this year I got to add one more to my flock, and sweet girl my son will be marrying in 2014. My cup forever runneth over with an abundance of pride I have for these young adults that came from the love of their father and I.

Ahh so many pictures of these kiddos as well too many to choose just one. Each one shows a glimpse into their personalities and lives. Here are just a few.

I have two. This summer Hadley and I took a road trip to Dallas and her cousin from Arizona surprised her at the hotel it was priceless. And then when my son sent the picture of the ring he had just placed on my daughter in law to be’s hand. We all cried.

So many goalsso little time. One is to tone up for Kanten and Deanna’s big day. Another is to blog more. Another is to find something productive to do in the evenings for these long winter months. Another is to learn something new. And another is to be more giving and grateful. That is just a drop in the bucket of the goals I haveI’m not sure the year is long enough!

I’ve been thinking and thinking about my OLW for this year. I want it to be relevant and useful. Something that is not easily forgotten and in the forefront of my mind each day. It has not come to me yet. You’ll be the first to know when it does I promiseJ  

Your turn! Jog on over to one of the blogs and link up too! 

Celebrating The Love of Innocence

Discover. Play. Build.

Today is the day to celebrate and I am of course linking up with Ruth at Discover, Play, Build to do just that. I know that a lot of my blogging friends are at NCTE this week and I am not, so I am NOT celebrating that. But I am celebrating the anticipation of reading all their posts about the amazingness of it all.
This week we had the REACH3 coaches come for a quick visit and to talk to us about writing in our classrooms. They are state department coaches that visit to help schools succeed. They opened with a big congratulations to us for once again being an “A+” school. I don’t really believe in all this school grading stuff, but I do think we have a great school and staff so I am celebrating our school and the amazing people that work there, along with the families that attend.
Yesterday was “teddy bear” day in our class. We wore our jammies, brought our favorite bears and read stories, learned bear facts, wrote interesting details, and graphed about bears. 
The highlight of the day was when I noticed the snow flurries outside.
Our windows are too tall for the kiddos to get a good look out of,  so I had them line up without telling them where we were going just that they had to be very quiet and sneaky. I took them to the front door and had them look out the quiet did not last long. There is nothing more fun than the excitement of a child’s sighting of the first snow fall of the yeareven if it only lasts about five minutes.

This week I sliced about my dilemma of Christmas gifts this year. I’m afraid some of you that don’t know my personality and my smart assiness  sarcasm may have miss understood ( and maybe some that do know it). I by no means think my kids ruin any part of Christmas or anything else in my world. 
They’re just a bunch of fun suckers I’m Kidding!!! They are the most amazing, giving, loving young adults and I am so very proud of them today and always.
We as a family have always found a family to give to at Christmas and I will continue to do so.  I have found a special one this year.  
Sometimes (ok a lot of times) I just wish I could squish my kiddos back into my babies this time of year and relive the excitement of Christmas morning. The want of it all are my issues. YIKES! I have turned into my mother! J
On a sadder more serious note I was talking to one of my kiddos yesterday about the bear he’d brought and asked him if Santa had brought it to him. He said no. I asked what he was going to ask Santa for this year this was his reply- “We don’t get to ask Santa for anything.” “The firemen bring us things for Christmas like food for the winter and stuff.”
I asked if he got to ask the firemen for toys knowing full well he didn’t because my husband happens to be one of those firemen.
He shook his head no he said they just bring us things (it’s him, his dad, and an older brother). Well I said if you could ask Santa for something what would it behe just looked at me unsure what to say. Finally he whispered “well there is one thing I would like.” “What,” I asked as I held my breath. “A scooter,” as he quickly ducked his head as if in shame.  
Guess what this boy will be getting from a special fireman this year? I wish I could be a fly on the wallI am celebrating his willingness to confined in me every day until then. 

Christmas Really is About the Gifts!

It's Tuesday and time to slice you should take the time too! If you go there today make sure and check out the new page with all the 4-1-1 about the yearly and March challenge! 

When you have adult kids they tend to ruin Christmas. They just aren't a lot of fun in their pursuit of Christmas spirit! They want money for Christmas, but I still want to buy gifts. Money is not a gift to wrap and place tenderly under my tree. It's stuffed in an envelope and have no ribbons or bows...My kids think I have a problem. They think I am too materialistic when it comes to Christmas and only care about the gifts that come with it. They don’t understand my need to find the perfect gift to make their Christmas special and one to remember. I don’t know if I understand it either.
I think it started at a young age. I can remember begging my dad to take me shopping to find just the right gift for my mom, and vice versa for my mom and brothers. I can still remember sneaking into the store my mom was working at just before she got off to buy her the shiny gold key chain flashlight. I had been saving my money to get it for her. I just knew she would love it. She had mentioned it was hard to see the car door to unlock it when she had to work nights. I don’t remember how I felt when she opened it, but I do remember how I felt picking it out and buying it for her at the tender age of seven or eight.
It’s really not the gift that matters. It’s the fact that someone has taken the time to go out and find or make something they think you will really enjoy or like. It's the suspense and anticipation of seeing their faces of Christmas morn. It's the ribbons and wrappings and staying up late to get it all done. It's the sneaking and hiding and trying not blab what you have done. And it's the knowing that because you took the extra time you've made someone's Christmas day happy and maybe a fond memory. 
I usually have my kids make a Christmas list because let’s face it no one wants a bunch of things they already have or don’t like. I try to get some of the things on the list. But I also try to find something they hadn’t thought of, something they had mentioned in passing, or pointed out sometime throughout the year. I like the looks on their faces when they tear open their packages and find just what they’ve been wanting, or surprised by something they had never thought of.
The joy on their faces when they were young made me teary every year when they walked into a room filled with treasures from Santa. It was never a lot. But always things they had dreamed of or I thought they would love. I can still remember the squeals of the newly discovered puppy, the riding of a new bike in the house because it was too cold to go out, a son’s first shot gun, and my daughter’s first bow (the hunting kind).  
Money will not produce this gratification I’m afraid. At least not for me. I will try. I will have to be content in the fact that they are home, healthy and happy and still enjoy being here for Christmas. I believe I can live with that. 
That really is my favorite gift- but I wouldn’t want them to find out!   

So Much to Celebrate!

Discover. Play. Build.

So much to celebrate this week! 2013 is quickly dwindling and I am feeling that added rush to try and fit everything in.
I'm linking up with Ruth Ayers at Discover, Play, Build to celebrate! You should too! 

My teacher friends and I went to OKC this week to a conference about iPads and helping struggling readers. I didn’t learn a whole lot about the iPad but I did learn how to make a cute little book and discovered a new children’s book. So I am celebrating that! I always say a conference is worthwhile if I come away with at least one new resource or activity to use.

This week I took a few moments to redo my classroom door. My friend and I attended a state conference this summer where the Keynote speaker said if you can only do one thing this year to make you feel better decorate your door, at least do that. So bestest buddy and I decided that would be our thing. We would keep our door decorated this year. I have combed pinterest to find inspiration and came up with this for November. The kiddos love it. I had one kindergarten cutie stop, peak in, and say-“your turkey is hilarious!” Such big words for a small guy.

Another turkey project we did this week was these beautiful gobblers! We sketched, outlined, used pastels, and finally painted. It was great fun and they turned out so nice. Such talented kids!

Lookee what came in the mail for me this week!! I can hardly wait to have a cold rainy day so I can crack it open and not be interrupted. I am for sure celebrating this gem.

And finally today I am celebrating the birth of my amazing baby boy. Who is 24 today. I never knew how wonderful life could be until he (and later his sister) were placed in my arms. Happy Birthday Kanten!  

Day 4

Today is day 4 of the 30 days of thanks.
Today I would like to say thank you daylight savings time I so enjoyed the extra time this morning.
Thank you for allowing me to arrive at work in daylight instead of dark.
Thank you for giving me a reason to shower and put on my jammies by 7:00PM every evening.
Thank you for giving me a reason for going to bed by 9 and not feeling guilty.
Thank you for the earlier sunrise to help get me out of bed, and not hit the snooze button three times.
Thank you daylight savings time I appreciate you every year around this timeuntil about January!

Currently November..the 3rd but Still November!

I am linking up with Farley today for the November Currently. It has been a long time since I’ve linked up a Currently so I thought I would once again. I am thankful for Farley and her Currently she connects so many blogs and bloggers. Thank you Farley.
The hubby is watching the Pirates of the Caribbean so I’m listening as I write this.
This was a busy but good weekend. All three kids came home (I now claim daughter-in-law to be as one of my own). It was nice. They got a few things for the wedding and tasted a few cake flavors for the cake. I just love my cake lady she has made ALL of our cakes since Hadley turned 16. She is super talented and super sweet. She treats Hadley like one of her own. I can hardly wait to see what she and the kids come up with for the wedding. If you like looking at cakes you can find her creations here- https://www.facebook.com/asweetsuccess
I really want to get started on Christmas shoppingreally need to.
I found this yummy creation this weekend. I love anything pumpkin! 

Here is the link! 

Day 2 of 30 Days of Thanks-Thankful for Hubby's Shorts!

Day two of 30 days of thanks brings me to thanking my hubby and celebrating my new wall color.
It’s not every wife that has such an “easy” hubby. And by easy I mean easy going, easy to please, and easy on the eye!!
This morning I woke up early went to the store, stocked up on groceries, headed home and started putting them away. As I was putting them away Mr. Husband walked through in a gray pair of shorts. 
It is November remember and 34 degrees out but my hubby will wear shorts all year if he has his way. As he walks through I think I really like that colorit would look good on my two walls that are now red.
SO what’s a girl to do? Ask Mr. Hubby to take her to the paint store. And what does Mr. Hubby say? OK.
So off to the paint store we go. Match the paint to shorts. Buy paint. Come home and start painting!
I am thankful my hubby lets me paint or decorate at my every whim. I am thankful for himJ!
I am not only thankful for him I am celebrating my new wall color!

Link up with Ruth at Discover, Play, Build for her weekly Celebrations!  

Discover. Play. Build.

Thank You November

Today I’d like to say thanks for November. It’s one of my favorite months and my favorite time of year. 
It’s the month my son was born and the month I get to gather my family close.
It’s the month that conjures up the feeling of home and hearth and the lyrics “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go” brings to mind the most wonderful memories of grandpa’s farm and grandma’s cooking.
November brushes the leaves gold and sweeps the fallen ones back and forth in my yard day after day until they still and pile in the crevices of my porch.
November is warmth and chill all bundled into one glorious month for us to gather, welcome, and give thanks every day. 

From Smiles to Thanks

Today is the last day of the 31 day writing challenge. I made it almost the whole 31 days. I started a few days late and missed a couple of days throughout but all in all I did pretty well. And I feel better.
I feel back to my old self where I wrote just because... not for the purpose of entertaining, enlightening, or entangling. Writing is my outlet- my way of letting go after a long day or trying week. I’m glad I did the challenge to remember and reflect. It is empowering.

Now that I have this challenge down I am on to one I am super excited about. 30 Days of Thanks. I can see so much coming from this. I skimmed the surface with this challenge last year on Facebook. But this year I want it to be more.
It is going to be a thought provoking, soul deepening challenge and you can find it here if you’d like ride along.

For my last smile I’ll leave you with a peek of the spread that my room mother put together today. Wowser are these kiddos lucky! It was a great party. One of my kiddos asked me what I was dressing up as tonightI told her a mean teacher. She paused and looked at me not sure what to say. I told her I was practicing right now. She grinned and said noooo you’re not a mean teacher. Whew! Glad I’ve got her tricked!!