Posted in Teaching Life

First Week Back: 20-21 School Year

I want to say so many things, but I don’t have the words this week. There have been alot of thoughts and feeling. So many things to be thankful for. This week was a success and I know when my brain has time to decompress I will have more to say. So, for now here are some pics and quotes that touch on all the things that a covid back to school can bring.

Got these…. breath in, breathe out!
Google slides coming out my ears.
This is necessary!!!
Posted in Family Life, Positive Life

Patio Views

Trying to decompress can be tricky for me. My mind is always going. This is why I try to be present when I am doing yoga. I also try to be less thinking and more feeling when I spend time on my back patio.

It was a beautiful day. The temperature was perfect, there was a breeze and all the forest creatures were out in full force. I didn’t capture all of God’s creatures that made an afternoon visit, like all the birds and squirrels, but did capture a few.

This one is very persistent and keeps coming back to eat my garden.
These two were waiting in the wings for lunch….and I could see more in the trees.
This furry guest was on a step…must be a thrill seeker.
More forest friends.
I think this is a woodpecker.

These visitors were a lovely distraction from thinking about the upstart of school. We have enjoyed the outdoors more than ever this summer. I hear that from friends and family too. I think being cooped up really effected people and once we had better weather people made the mose of their outdoor spaces.

Feet up. Brain off.

I purchased a gas fire pit for my hubs, for Father’s Day. This is easy and smell free for a cozy night. No post fire shower required. I can not sleep on fire scented hair, so this is the perfect alternative for my prissy self. Also, it is easy to get going for those of us that were never a girl scout.

We still do a wood fire on nights were we need a s’mores pick me up. We have tried smores with the gas fire, but we love the taste of a wood fire, toasted marshmallow better. I love spending family time toasting and eating marshmallows, but I do not love the smelly, post fire hair. So we have a balance of woodsy fire and clean, easy fire pit nights.

I always set up a tray to take out. So much easier when everything is unwrapped.

If the bugs creep you, just cover up all of your fireside treats. I love using these silicone bowl covers. I have had this for years. I have two smaller ones as well. They were a gift and the have been fabulous.

Backyard afternoons and nights seem to be our jam this summer. We added an awning to our patio and this had made our outside time so much more enjoyable. I have loved morning coffee, yoga and just doing nothing.

This guy likes to fly between our yard and the neighbors.

We have really used this space. It is perfect for dinner or summer homework. Sometimes just being in a different space can change something tremendously. It has been easy to loose track of time and stop thinking about the world outside our door. A friend was over for a visit and said it felt like a wonderland. I’m glad she found a moment to take in the simplicity of the situation. I think we don’t realize how wrapped up we get in the hustle and bustle.

Afternoons reading and just sitting out looking at the squirrels prep for winter have been perfect this summer. Summer is winding down, but I think this will still be a family hangout as the temperatures drop and the leaves change. Anything that helps decompress and unwind is a good thing, so I definitely feel patio sweater weather will be a thing!

Posted in Teaching Life

Bring It On September

Whether you are a first year teacher or a 25 year plus veteran, this September is going to hold so many emotions, plans and ideas. The unknown of what will be has been keeping me up at night. Feeling like I can not see what will be is very frustrating. I can typically plan and forecast what I need to do to start up my year, but I too am treading into uncertain waters, not knowing if I going to be able to swim, tread or sink.

My plan is to go into the 20-21 school year with a glass half full mind set. I have been trying to get what I can ready. Planning always makes me feel better, so doing something familiar is helping ease the frustration and lack of mental sight. Small steps feel like I am accomplishing something with control.

Keeping things safe and seperate is my first priority. I have separated out materials per student on my caseload. This seemed simple and manageable. I also wanted to keep these things seperate per building, so I bought craft carts and dolled them up a bit to place in my buildings. I find that the foot print is not intrusive in the spaces I work and easily rolled out of the way if need be. They are also easy to store materials on. One level per student or different materials per shelf. I added positive messages to uplift my students and myself.

This cart was from Michael’s. So easy to assemble and add vinyl words.

My plan book and my “bible” are something I am always reviewing and revisiting. I have gone digital and went back to paper last year. I think I am keeping with a paper planner again this year. This has been a great debate in my mind. Will it be easier? Will it be light? Will it be sanitary? After much consideration I think I am going to try it and if need be I can go digital. I love planbook on chalk.com, but there is something about writing things down, so paper it is. I will also add stickers and quotes. These are purely for me, but every little bit of cute or positivity I can add to my resources and tools makes me feel good.

Picked this up on clearance. I haven’t used a store planner in ten plus years…hope I like it.

I have been working on getting my organizational tools and logs together. I have been creating new dividers to pop into my “bible” binder. I decided to go with a granny chic look this year. I very much enjoy this peony clip art I purchased 2 years ago that has just been waiting to be used. My hope is pretty and fresh flowers will be visually uplifting when the snow flies.

Google classroom is the thing right now. So many of us are using it to some extent. I am dabbling with it and trying to decide what is going in. I know once I have committed more to the process in will share in a post. I am still very new to it. My hope and a prayer is it will be a helpful tool in assisting my students and their parents when they are home following a hybrid schedule.

Found resources on Teachers Pay Teachers. Check out Roots and Wings.

I think the biggest take away as I head into the next few weeks is that I need to give myself and everyone I interact with some grace. Remote, distance, hybrid, in person learning are the key words that seem to swirl around me and in my head, so I know if I am having moments where I need to remember to breathe and accept the new normal, then the people around me are in the same situation. There will be times where I feel like this new way of teaching my students is horrible or just too much, but thankfully my tribe is amazing, I will look to them for support and in turn be a shoulder or ear to lean on.

Small things that are “normal”, things I can control and the familiar faces (even masked) should get me through. I always am looking to change things up or improve how I teach. I think the universe has heard and responded! I need to take this bizarre opportunity and just go with it, control my little bubble and focus on the positives.

1. I will see my students again.

2. I have a fantastic teaching community.

3. This is not forever.

So bring it on September!!!!

We Got This!!!!

Posted in Yoga Life

Sunflower Yoga

I told you I was going to have one more summer yoga event to share. This sunflower yoga class was heavenly. It was hot and happy. Everyone there seemed to be so excited to be in the field.

Everyone was spaced out, of course, because social distancing is becoming the new normal. We decided to be in the front row. I think this was a fantastic idea because all we could see was the field ahead of us. No downward dogs to look at, just the sunshine and flowers.

This event has become an annual event for my yoga studio. I think this will become an annual event in my life. It was truly spectacular. I was super pumped to be there. I felt like I could push myself and go a little further. I think it was the magic that the space generated.

These are two women that are so supportive and pure sunshine to be around, so I was beyond thrilled when they were available to come to this event with me. Both are very new to yoga, you wouldn’t know it. They looked beautiful and kept up with a very flowy class. Doing things with people that fill my bucket is priceless.

After our class we were permitted to pick sunflowers from the field.

I love that there are different varieties of flowers to cut and enjoy. It was very relaxing to walk the rows and see the bees working their magic.

This just such a happy flower. When I see sunflowers I just think and feel summer. I am not ready for this summer to end. The weather has been beautiful. We have had a slower paced schedule and I’m not mad about that!

Don’t you love how tall these get?! I know being a petite person many things are taller than me, but this stroll among the flowers gave me an Alice in Wonderland vibe. It was definitely a golden evening.

I hope if you are ever able to experience something like this….you jump on it. I thought I might be a little nervous in the field as the sun was going down, but with good friends and all the magical vibes I had not one instance of stress. If you read my posts regularly, then you know it is my mission to be sure with who I am-fears and all, but never be to stubborn to try to be a bit brave.

Watching this sunset, as we made our way back to the car, was the cherry on top. Nothing but gratitude for nature, beautiful friends and myself. The summer of 2020 has been pure yoga magic.

Posted in Yoga Life

Plant Yoga

Plant themed yoga was a fabulous night out. Burning calories and plant shopping is a total win! This is my second special yoga night this summer. If you want to look back in my Yoga Life posts, you can read about Lavender Yoga. There is something about practicing in a beautiful place that gives all the zen like feels.

The location was very green and lush. I am getting used to outside locations for class. I wasn’t an outside yoga gal until covid forced my hand. I had ideas of what it would be like. I was certain last summer I would not like it, all the while people were flocking to outside summer classes. I was so wrong. I have pushed past the little ants that join me on my mat or anything that buzzes by. One thing hasn’t changed-I still do not love being hot, in the full sun with humidity. Thankfully there was a breeze to keep me cooler, because it was a tad warm in the sun. It felt good to be there.

How great is this!!! Sunglasses were totally necessary, but I noticed as I was flowing, the sun and heat were definitely helping my poses. I appreciated the boost.

My teacher is the best. I love how she keeps thinking of ways to support us and other local places. These special locations always offer more than just yoga. We get to flow and the location gets positive exposure. I had never been to this local greenhouse, so I was thrilled to shop someplace new.

This event allowed us to plant shop after class. Yes please! No one had to twist my arm to look at all the plant babies that need homes. I very much enjoyed talking and shopping with my yoga peeps. It seemed sort of normal…except for the mask on my face. This is still not a normal feeling or behavior, but trying to be positive. I try chewing minty gum, it helps me wear the mask and feel refreshed after class.

Shopping with plant minded gals was super easy.

There were so many beautiful plants and accessories to look at. Sorry no pictures, I was trying to be living in the moment. I was honestly having that awesome after class happy vibe, my phone was not a priority. I was very impressed with the pot selection. I often have trouble finding a pot I really like, but no problem this night. I have to pump the breaks and limit myself to the pot and plant I purchased. All the more reason to visit again.

I found this beauty and of course could not leave it. The pot is beyond pretty. The little succulent was a take away from attending the class. I have ZERO green thumbs when it comes to succulents. Crossing fingers and toes this little guy survives. I would love to report the succulents I bought in the winter are thriving, but sadly I can not.

I am not a quitter, so I will try again!

This new leaf baby is currently residing here in our living room. I figure it will be one of the first things I see in the morning and perfect to look at when I am working from the couch. The location could possibly change because I see a plant stand in my near future, just a few clicks away!

If you enjoyed this…stay tuned I have one more special event class to attend this summer!!!!

Posted in Teaching Life

Back To School 2020: 10 Itinerant Tips and Ideas

Let me just start be saying I am trying my best to wrap my head around what I need to do to get myself ready for the 20-21 school year. If you read my blog regularly you know I am very transparent about being a teacher that never wants to be in a rut or stale, so I welcome revamping my routines, outlook, approach and materials, but a pandemic is a tad bit different and difficult. This list is what I have been thinking about. I am sure as the weeks go by there will be even more things to to consider.

Being an itinerant teacher has it’s pros and cons. Traveling can be exhausting some days or completely liberating, but thinking about traveling lately has really made me stop and think about how I am going to protect myself and everyone in my multiple buildings. Going in and out will look and feel different for sure. My hope is with some thought and tweaking I will be able to do what I enjoy. With these adjustments and accommodations I think I will eventually settle into a new normal.

One

Depending on your set up, travel and caseload I think no matter how you think about putting materials together this year, everything needs to be seperate for each student.  This will be work in the beginning, but once you have everything divided and contained it will offer you better control and peace of mind.

I know that at a couple of my schools I am able to leave materials. I love this because it saves time, pressure off my back and allows my kiddos to feel like I am part of the day… not just this woman that flies in and out. This being said, and I know I have said it in previous posts, leaving things can not be just one bin this year. I am going to have to have seperate containers or ways of keeping individual materials and tools safe for my students.

Two

Seperate bags for seperate schools may be a healthy option if you can not leave materials and tools. I would consider bags that can be laundered or wiped down. Have one bag per building or per student. I had one bag per student maybe year two or three of itinerant teaching. I liked the ease of just grab and go, knowing everything I needed was in each bag.

Three

Masks for a day. I know that going back will require wearing a mask. I have been stockpiling some cute fabric masks. I personally do not enjoy the disposable masks. They don’t fit right, which makes me anxious when I wear them, so fabric is my personal preference. I recommend trying out various sizes and styles before you head back to school in person.

I know clear panel masks are what most of us consider a great option for our students. Lip reading is essential. Make sure the mask fits, your can function and is anti-fog. I purchased shields for myself. I still waiting on the complete school plan about what will and will not be allowed. I am just trying to be prepared for my options.

Four

The idea of materials for each student started to overwhelm me. Paper resources can obviously be per student, but what about my games and hands on manipulatives? I started to think of ways to divided up a game or deck of cards. I am with only one student at a time, so I obviously don’t need 30 riddle cards or 20 listening comprehension cards, so taking some and storing in little containers or zip bags will work. Germs will be separate. When I am ready to switch materials it should be easy to sanitize and rotate.

If you play games with boards putting some Press n Seal wrap over the board can protect the paper surface from sanitizing between students. Clear contact paper is another option for covering and preserving materials.

I recommend laminating anything that may not survive constant sanitation. I have a home laminator that I use when I am working from home or have the genius idea to laminate at 10:30 on a school night. I have purchased various weights of lamination. Sometimes I want a light, flexible hold and sometimes I want a heavy, strong hold. Lamination at school typically tends to be a lighter level , so needing the heavy stuff is why I did some Amazon clicking.

Five

Sanitizer or alcohol is an obvious thing to have. My hope is wherever you are working schools will provide this. I am sure there will be something distributed, but if you are fussy about smell….like me, maybe consider getting sanitizer that agrees with your skin and sense of smell.

Six

Cleaning Supplies are most likely not going to be an issue at schools. Be sure you find out what is being used or acceptable if you want a personal stash. I know I intend to have a zip bag with small sized cleaning products in my car incase I need to manage things to my liking. We all are going to come at returning to school at different perspectives and comfort levels. I am not a germaphobe or scared to return, but I know I need to be mindful and respectful of my peers and students who do not have the same feelings or outlook I have.

Seven

In a secondary zip bag I am going to have for myself: baby wipes, alcohol spray bottle, tissues and tic tacs. I know on a typical day o like to refresh. Depending on the students you serve or the amount of buildings you enter…I normally just feel like I need to scrub up, so I just want to be prepared for new feelings or the new reality of being itinerant.

These items will be just for me, especially the tic tacs. I have found a mint or mint gum helps my anxiety when I am wearing a mask for and extended time. I am not sure if it the smell or the oral stimulation that distracts me from the gross dislike I have for wearing a mask. I despise anything touching my face. This mask wearing will be a challenge, but my hope is I become a more relaxed wearer and also smell minty fresh!

Eight

One thing I am considering is ditching the big binder. I always look for way to be lighter. I change data collection, notes and organization almost yearly. Having things in a digital planbook is the lightest, but it has pros and cons. Last year I went back to a paper planner and data collection. I wasn’t planning on changing it up, but I started to think about taking it and setting it down in multiple places. I know I can try to keep it clean, but do I want to is my current dilemma. I think the right answer is choosing what you feel most comfortable doing. If changing your process seems like just one more thing and might stress you out don’t change.

Post it notes or a small notebook might be a long option to carry in to use for data and notes. Then this information could be added at points in the day to your big binder or plan book. This could easily be done when you return to the car.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Data-Collection-and-Progress-Monitoring-Sticky-Note-Bundle-4337356

Nine

Procedures and rules for each school may be slightly different. Be sure to know what your expectations are. Where you will be able to safely work with your students is key this year. I know I have had random and inconsistent work spaces, so be pleasantly persistent for what your students need. With social distancing going on workspaces will be at a premium, regardless you are important too.

Ten

Remember to sanitize your vehicle. I keep a small spay bottle, in my cup holder, filled with rubbing alcohol. I like to mist the wheel and my dash area for a quick clean between stops. My vehicle is my partial work space, so I want to make sure it is safe for me and my family.

Starting out may be a bumpy road, but hopefully these ideas help. I looking forward to being in my buildings and seeing my students. Getting back on the road will be a welcome change. Safe travels and happy teaching.

You can always like and follow me. Be sure to look back into my archives if you are looking for any other Itinerant Teaching ideas.

Posted in Uncategorized

Harry Potter Marathons

Not sure how you and yours are getting through these days at home, but we are living the magical life. Our love for everything Potter has kept us entertained and grown over the past months. Harry Potter marathons have kept us grounded, connected to eachother.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” ― Albus Dumbledore

We can start at the beginning or turn one on midway through and just settle in for mischief and magic. I love that these films are something we all enjoy. Finding family fun can be a challenge at times. We started out positive and were great at keeping busy, but as time has gone on, we have settled into a new normal and thankfully that includes Harry and friends.

“But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” ― Albus Dumbledore

Seems only right to post and share how much these stories are getting us through, on Harry Potter’s birthday.

Friday night family fun…boarding the Hogwarts Express! Not sure which film we will choose, but the popcorn with be popped and house colors will be on. If you are a Potter fan, I hope you take a few minutes today and spend some time with the Gryffindor trio.

“And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” — Albus Dumbledore

Happy Birthday Harry!

Posted in Family Life

A Week In Pictures

This has been a busy week prepping for a party. It was a very socially distant and sort of differently planned party, which required alot of thought and physical labor. Thankfully I have a fabulous hubs who made our yard look fresh and pretty. I am also an excellent online shopper, so party planning was just a few clicks. Thankfully our guests seem to have had a good time and respected the new dynamic of getting together, so I am calling that a win for this emotionally drained teacher/mom.

I am still waiting to see what is going to happen with school, so I feel like I can only focus on what is in front of me. Which happens to be my family and house! Taking this summer day by day.

I know I am not alone with feeling anxious and conflicted about the upcoming, new school year. I have had ideas of what I want to write about and tips to share, but without knowing what I will be doing come September, I can’t write about something that isn’t authentic, so I hope you can just scroll and enjoy some pictures from a great week, where the focus was on things one can control and make nice.

Posted in Yoga Life

Lavender Yoga is Summer Magic

Beautiful night for a vinyasa flow.

Breathe in. Breathe out. This is heavenly in a field of lavender with the sun setting and the good vibes flowing.

Being outside, doing yoga, was something I have always been shy about. I hate being hot and do not love bugs, but this summer I am embracing it. Inside yoga is not an option, so I stepped out of my comfort zone and I am so happy I did.

We were given instructions on the cutting and varieties of lavender to cut.

My beautiful yoga teacher held a class outside in a lavender field. This was a ticketed event. Worth every penny! So many wanted to attend, she opened a second session. She is a lovely human and the farm we were at was equally as giving.

I placed my clippings on my dashboard for the drive home…heavenly.

We picked before we flowed. This was lovely and relaxing. Everyone seemed at peace. Conversations were quiet and appeared to be happy. I think many were happy to be in a tranquil location and able to socialize.

People really respected the space and eachother.

Masks were required for check in and close group socialization, but when it was time to flow mats were 6 feet or more apart. The field offered natural barriers. This made it easy to find a spot to practice.

I learned there is white lavender.

I left feeling and smelling fabulous. I hope she makes this and annual event. With the sun setting and the lavender breeze filling my lungs, it is yoga like no other.

Bees were everywhere but they wanted nothing to do with us. Maybe it was all the positive vibes!?

Just another way I am trying to enjoy summer and practice some selfcare.

I hope you liked this post…kind of a mini post. You can always follow me to see what I am up to or drop me a line!
Posted in Family Life

Teacher Momma With A Semi Green Thumb

Summer is here and enjoying the season is a priority. Winter seems incredibly long-with spring feeling like a blip on the calendar, so getting out into sunshine that does not have an icy glare is at the top of my summer to do list. Making the most of summers off is always important to me. Finding ways to recharge before September is vital for me and my students.

Being outside in the heat and humidity can be overwhelming, but being cooped up for months during a pandemic has proved to be more overwhelming and I am trying to embrace all summer has to offer. One way I like to chill out is basic gardening. I plant flowers and veggies every summer, this summer is no different. That actually feels good to write-up considering nothing about the last quarter of school felt normal! My semi green thumb is exactly like it was last summer and all the summers before.

I say semi green because I love the look and feel a garden brings, but I am not willing to weed and roast for it. We keep a garden that is easy and comes back every year. I like low maintenance plants the older and busier I get. Before our daughter I had more time to putter and fuss, but in the last few years her summer schedule has kept me busy, so easy peasy plants are right up my alley. I am not running around for camps and playdates, but that seemed to be validate my rational even more for a peaceful, zen like summer.

Pop of color on a patio table is very manageable.

I look forward to my perennials. They are consistent and I love those first signs of spring/summer when they start to pop out of the soil. This year many of my hostas have been night time snacks for the deer….possibly other critters as well. I think we need to invest in some sort of repellent next summer and take pics before there is nothing but stems!

I see baby leaves trying to make a comeback.

We planted a few new things in late May. We are hoping all of the new plant babies will flourish and provide a colorful border between us and our neighbors.

I always get potted flowers for pops of color. I know many people plant annuals, but I stopped doing that a handful of years ago. It looks pretty, but with a busy schedule and summer trips it is difficult to maintain….especially water, so I just do pots and hope for the best.

Super easy splash of color on the front porch.

This summer we decided to keep veggies to a minimum. We are only growing tomatoes. I can always snag some herbs if I want, but as for other veggies we decided to just not. We have grown beans, peas, onions and peppers in the past. It is fun to watch everything progress, but we are keeping it super simple this summer.

No idea what variety of tomato this is….we will see in the weeks ahead!

Tomato plants are very low maintenance and we plant ours in containers, so there is zero weeding. I can’t wait until these little babies are full grown and ready to be picked. We sort of went a little tomato plant crazy, so I think our neighbors will be getting a homegrown taste of summer.

My summer garden is a wonderful, visual way to decompress through the summer months. Taking the time to plant, weed (a little) and water gives me a clam purpose before I start running and following the school schedules in September. Also having a low maintenance garden gives me time to do other things that I consider summer fun.

Posted in Family Life

4th Family Fun

Sparklers, fireworks and bbq. The 4th of July is one of our favorite holidays to celebrate with friends and family.  2020 has proved to me a most interesting year and because of social distancing this holiday is not our typical event, but we are embracing the new normal with all the red, white & blue we can muster.

Patriotic Prep

This snack mix has been on my summer to do list. I needed a sweet treat with a splash of red, white & blue. I looked to Pinterest for some ideas and I found a few different versions of this mix. My version is gluten free, of course!

  • Rice Chex
  • Corn Chex
  • Mini marshmallows
  • M&M’s
  • Gluten free pretzels
  • Frosted Cheerios
  • White chocolate wafers
  • Sprinkles
This snack was a hit. Crunchy and just sweet enough!

Super simple to toss together. I didn’t measure. I just poured what I wanted in a large bowl, added melted wafers, tossed and spread out on wax paper lined pans. I left it to firm up for about an hour. I first put it into a container, but then I remembered we are living in covid times, so I decided to bag it into individual portions. The bags I used are super easy to use and affordable on Amazon. They self seal and are food safe, bakery bags. Here’s to patriotic calories!

Prepped the piggies for America’s birthday.

Thankfully we could go out and get our annual schools out/holiday pedicure. Typically we select a more Americana look, but we were feeling the bright colors and a bit of nail art. It was super nice to get out and have some self care, even if we were wearing masks. Anything a little normal is a mood lifter these days.

Lakeside

A day at the lake is always a nice invite. We had a great time taking in the sunshine and lake breeze. A day of taking it easy and enjoying the company of family and friends can almost make a person forget how stressful things have been.

We decided to take an afternoon walk…to enjoy our surroundings and tire our four legged princess out a bit. While we walked I spotted this adorable gnome situation. We have a little gnome garden, but this was so cute and a great way to embellish a tree stump. Our gnomes need an upgraded location! This little scene made my day.

There Will Be Fireworks

The typical fireworks displays that we normally attend were not happening this year, so we luckily saw many home displays on our drive back from the lake. People really put on good shows. All of the home shows inspired us to dig out some fireworks we had…that were sort of old, but they did not disappoint.

Morning Glory

Even though we had a modified, socially distant celebration it was surprisingly festive. This was our first big holiday embracing the new normal with modifications and positive attitude. Star spangled fun was had by all….looking forward to what the rest of summer will bring.

Posted in Teaching Life

Summer Reading: Diverse Fairytales

The Little Red Fort is diverse and has lots of girl power!

Fairytales can be fun ways to teach and entertain students. I personally love to use them for listening and teaching compare and contrast. I love looking for different versions, so we can break down the similarities and differences, but often titles are told with animals or caucasian characters. I am going to be looking for titles that represent and offer diversity.

Books and Activities to enhance your library.

Of course I decided to head to Pinterest to see what books might be options to add to my library or wishlist. I love that I can always tap the app and find what I am searching for. If you are looking to expand your fairytale collection I reccomend checking out pins and start a list.

These adorable books seem to be popular. I saw multiple pins and posts about these. I love the illustrations and I know we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but these are beautiful. I checked these out on Amazon. Each book seems to cost about 8-9$. There is the option to purchase them as a boxed collection…which saves money and I love to save. All of these appear to be board books. I love that these books are intended to be read by and to little ones. Starting our youngest readers looking at these is where small changes can start. I would totally use these with school age kids. Going in an out of my itinerant bag can be brutal on paperback books, so these would represent what I want to instill and be incredibly durable.

Our Beautiful World

These are stories that are have African characters and an African setting, as opposed to the typical European tale. Rachel Isadora is an award winning author and illustrator. I found these titles on Amazon, but I know I will be looking for these in my local book store. I would love to turn all the pages before I buy.

Why does Little Red Riding Hood have to be a girl?

I love that these stories have children of color, are fairytales with boys and look modern. Jack and the bean stalk is typically set long ago, but with this version it is set in a city which is most likely more relatable to kids these days. I think that flipping the gender for a fairytale is equally fantastic.

I have never read this story where she wasn’t a girl. Frederico and the Wolf is a refreshing change. A boy with a bike trying to get to grandma. I find there are more stories told with a female main character, maybe more authors will flip the gender, so boys can see themselves in the pages.

This Mexican-American version also has a salsa recipe included. How fun would this be as a math or cooking extension? Students could use the same ingredients Frederico brings to his Abuela?! I am sure that with some research you can also find activities to support and connect to the culture depicted on the pages of these diverse tales.

This book had conflicting reviews. I would have to read it before I bought it.

Not the Same Old Story

How about this title?!?!?
I love a good spin!

There are so many fantastic titles out there. I am going to continue to search for titles that tell classic tales with a twist and diverse representations. I am sure there are titles I will love and ones I won’t. I think checking the book out, cover to cover, is key and be sure the books will engage your students. I’m not just going to get books that look different-they have to be quality stories. My hope is the more students see stories with characters that might not look or look like them, so we can build a more inclusive and open minded school community. I am excited to start doing my part. I know I will make mistakes and I have things to learn, but moving forward is how we grow!

***Most of these titles I found when searching on Amazon. Check out the reviews and summaries to see if they would work in your classroom.

If you have any recommendations I would love it! Share away!!!! You can send a comment.

Last thing-I started a books for kids board on Pinterest. If you want you can always look there or follow my Pinterest to see what I have most recently discovered. My Pinterest can be found under The Listening Ladybug❤

Posted in Teaching Life

Summer Reading: Expanding My Library and Myself

As an educator I find myself always looking for was to grow and expand what I know and how I can better serve my students. Watching the news and seeing posts on social media has compelled me to dig a bit deeper and search for new tools to broaden my teaching scope. One place I always like to go for ideas is Pinterest.

https://pin.it/157eKf3

I love how I can always find ideas and perspectives to add to my boards. The picture/pin above summed up what I was looking for. If you follow this pin you will see it leads to a simple and clear post about building ones home or classroom library with diverse titles. She offers up 8 tips to think about when adding to your shelves. I say thank you…well done.

https://pin.it/2DXMShf

This pin caught my eye because I have some of the titles shown. I am going to be looking further into the others and determine what ones might be helpful for my collection. I very much enjoy how each book has a mini review. I recommend looking at this collection and reading the blog post.

https://pin.it/4oWzuGv

Seeing that this is pride month I couldn’t ignore looking for a collection of books that would support and educate my students and myself about people and families that wave all of the colorful flags. I know I do not have any books on this subject matter in my collection….my basement library, so I will definitely be looking at the above highlighted titles. I appreciate that the pin has summarized all of the books. Hopefully when I get out to my local bookstore I can see and touch the pages before I purchase.

https://pin.it/4CE5XLm

The collections in this post are mostly unfamiliar titles and with this unfamiliarity comes an obvious lack of full understanding and knowledge. This is where I need to do the work and put my summer days to good use, exploring and expanding my knowledge base. I know I have so much to learn and my hope is with this knew knowledge I will be a better teacher.

https://pin.it/uuhZZrg

One thing I have always loved and appreciated about education is we are a group of sharers. We pass on our knowledge and experiences not just with our students, but with eachother. We can support and lift eachother. I very much recommend exploring these collections and searching for others. As I state this I am also generating a to do list for myself.

Digging Deeper Research Tips

  • Look for more collections and individual titles online
  • Ask other teachers for recommendations
  • Revisit and dig through my personal books
  • Make a trip out to local bookstores
  • Look for new titles and authors
  • Actually read the books…not just gloss over
  • Start small
  • Keep questions written down
  • Recognize this is a process
  • Be a learner
  • Think about how I can infuse new titles organically into my lessons
http://www.feministbooksforkids.com

I am very thankful to all of the people who have put together all of these pins/collections. Sometimes when I think about researching anything I am looking for I have a moment or two of feeling overwhelmed, but I know there are smart and helpful people out there that have had the same questions….and have done great work. A friend of mine keeps reminding me Pinterest is a search engine, which I often forget. It can be so much more than a way to relax or fill time, so I will put my scrolling fingers to work and do my homework.

Here’s to turning pages!

Posted in Family Life

Sunshine Patrol

Our little lady is bringing joy to the streets. Taking our daily walk has turned into a totally different experience. We are loving this change.

I love the outdoors!

Walking fast and easy is a temporary thing of the past. Our pint size princess needs leash training. She walks and stops to smell everything she can! This exploration if the neighborhood is cute, but not burning the quarantine calories. As you can see below she has a deep love of sticks, so finding the perfect one is essential. If she can carry it….she will.

The next thing I have noticed is we have a little celebrity. Because of the current situation more neighbors are outside walking and in their front yard. So many people are moving family fun from the back yard to the front yard and because of this social shift we have seen more of our neighbors in three months than we have seen in three years! We have always said hello or made pleasant eye contact, but now there is 6 feet of leash, social distancing conversation happening.

If you think I am cute…and need a daily pick me up you can follow me on Instagram. Little_Miss_Maisel_Mae

There is no denying she is adorable, but once we answer puppy questions we are talking about more….actually getting to know eachother. We have some very lovely neighbors who seem to be doing their best getting through this unprecedented time. From the outside, the only thing we are allowed to see, yards look beautiful, cars are getting washed, and celebrations are happening, but because we are stopping to chat we are learning more about them and their experiences.

It is totally great how Little Miss Maisel has spiraled into so much more. We are definitely taking this time to care and train her, but I love how such joy and happiness can be felt and seen from such a tiny creature. I feel more at home now, in my neighborhood, than I ever expected. The hustle and bustle of our old normal lives never really gave us time to do more than a power walk….no time gotta race to the next scheduled thing.

With slowing down, staying in and adding to our family we have grown so much. I love how happy our newest member makes us, but I think it is priceless how much happiness has been spread by four tiny paws. Seeing the smiles on peoples faces during a sort of scary, crappy and bleak time has made me rethink about this time and why we are going through this period of isolation.

If this wasn’t happening, being at home, I do not know if I would have felt confident in adding to our family. I am glad I listened to my gut. This whole experience just reaffirms my belief that everything happens for a reason and good things come in small packages!

You can always drop me a line, comment, follow me here or on Instagram. ❤

Posted in Yoga Life

Home Yoga During Quarantine

I don’t know about you, but I miss my yoga teacher and studio. Being at home all these months has been challenging on so many different levels. Since I started this blog I have written many posts about how yoga is my jam….how it has enhanced my life since going gluten free. How it balances me and has given me a new sense of accomplishment.

Going to class is something I very much enjoy and look forward to. With the current changes due to the pandemic, going to the studio and interacting with all of lovely people that attend classes has been put on pause. My teacher, like many others, has tried to still teach classes and connect with her students. Logging into a Zoom yoga class has been ok. I love that she adapted to the changing times and offered something. Everyone has been on a learning curve, using different platforms to connect and do their job.

I got some socks to help improve my grip.

With all the positives of taking an online class….I still miss going to class. Taking class in my family room is not as fulfilling. I can hear her voice, follow her instructions and turn up the playlist, but with all of that it is not as motivating. I used to tell people I loved a home workout. Home was easier. I could have flexibility, I don’t have to go out in the winter, and I didn’t have to feel self conscious.

These socks totally help when I wear smooth yoga pants.

I believed that until I started to make time and show up for myself. I discovered I truly enjoy being surrounded by like minded people and I need to be present to push myself. Being at home is fine, but I think I am not doing as good a job as I was in studio. Yoga, in my opinion, is for the self. There isn’t a level of competition or who can be better than another. So with that being said why am I not pushing as hard during a Zoom class??

Obviously still working on this…setting new goals while being at home.

I think it is the vibe and energy that happens in a class. This level of engagement that supports and encourages is not present in my family room. I typically focus on myself when I go to class, but I love it when I see another student doing something incredible with their body. Maybe it is not cool, but I have quietly clapped and cheered people on for trying something new or take a pose to a personal new best. I find it inspiring.

I miss that level of support and community. I am counting the days until we can all practice together….in the same space. Until then, I will show up on my mat and try. I will continue to support my yoga tribe via a screen and microphone.

I have created a home yoga checklist to keep myself accountable.

  • Plan to attend class
  • Register for class in advance
  • Get dressed for class…no pjs
  • Turn my camera on
  • Use the playlist

This list can apply to any home workout. If you Zumba, dance or attend a pilates class maybe these tips will keep you on track until you can go to class and interact with your tribe.

Posted in Positive Life

Shine Bright

The world is in a place of uncertainty due to the pandemic. America is definitely in a place of uncertainty and civil unrest today. This blog was never intended to be something to express political concerns or opinions….and with this post I am staying true to myself. So, no matter where you live or what political affiliations you have I hope you read on with an open mind and accepting heart.

I above all things promote positivity and compassion….love and peace….kindness and respect for all things living, so with my voice I am hoping and praying that people can come together, because what is happening in the streets is so far from anything I believe in. I have words, but at this moment I don’t have the words about what I am seeing and feeling, if that makes any sense. Violence is always difficult for me to process.

With this I say……

Choose to live in the light.

Be the light for others who are struggling.

Use your voice for the good.

Speak up for the oppressed and the powerless.

Educate, reflect and reevaluate how you participate as a citizen of the world.

To me everything here is just human….basic life foundations. These foundations need to be taught, promoted and internalized inorder to make real change. As a teacher I think I am doing ok at teaching and supporting my students. I need to do even more….we all can do more…be better. As a mother I know I do a solid job at teaching and instilling these basic fundamental principles, but I know I can do more, explain more and expose my child to more realities of the world. We always want to protect the children in our life, but age appropriate exposure to reality might help educate and foster a deeper understanding of real issues and struggles.

With the light comes the dark…we can not close our eyes and hope that everything will be ok. Let’s open ourselves up to being that bright light…and know there will be dark days where we need to shine our light a little more for others. It may be difficult, all the more reason to press on. It will be worth it. How could it not?

Be Well. Be Brave. Be the Light.

Posted in Family Life

Little Lovie

During everything that has been happening…or better yet not been happening, we decided to add a new level of happiness to our family. We were ready to move forward and let the pint sized chaos begin.

There has been a lot of conversation going on for the last couple of months. Do we? Don’t we? Are we ready? How will this change us?

That was Then

We used to have dogs. After last spring and the passing of our second dog we were in no rush to get a new dog. There was no replacing him. It was very hard watching our 13 almost 14 year old pet pass- it was life changing. We needed a bit of time to ourselves, to just be pet free for a while. If you have a dog you know it is almost like having a child and there is a level of responsibility that is your normal.

We needed to embrace a bit of emotional freedom-get a new normal. In the end he was a little aging grandpa and he took up alot of mental space, but with time we mourned and moved into a level of freedom we hadn’t had in a decade plus. We went on vacation without a dog sitter plan. We just became people with fish.

While we have been home and taking daily walks it became apparently obvious that we were ready. We were missing something….four paws. So, with a bit of reaching out to friends and online looking we found a little girl(from a litter that was living a home) that seemed to be a perfect fit for our family, especially now with plenty of time to train.

This is Now

This tiny little girl has completely adjusted our daily routine in a blink of an eye. We are puppy people! We are doing all of the things…..it’s almost like having an infant. We maybe sleep deprived, but it will all be worth it once she is house trained and acclimated to our family.

We are embracing this new normal with gusto and coffee. I will definitely be sharing more of our journey and plenty of pics! This is our unofficial kick off to a summer of puppy love.

Posted in Positive Life

Shopping Local: Supporting Small Businesses

I think now more ever it is very important to shop local. Supporting small businesses in the community is essential.

Essential Items

Every Saturday we do a local produce box. I order it Monday and we grab it Saturday. Well, we don’t actually grab it, someone who is gloved and masked puts it in the back of our vehicle. It is a you get what you get kinda of situation. Every week is different and no substitutions. I like it. I have been getting creative with the weekly selections.

Essential for the Soul

When life gives you lemons….well or when you buy the two little cuties! These were a happy little must. A local store has really been using Instagram to promote their merchandise. These two caught my eye and I knew they needed a home.

The online ordering and curbside pick up was easy, germ free and stress free. They have made a home on a shelf that we all see everyday. Super cute visual reminder that we got this and there will be an upside.

Essential for a Sweet Tooth

These are heavenly. If you read my posts you know I am celiac. This gluten free bakery makes me happy. They had a promotion I jumped on. These little beauties were wrapped in plastic wrap and popped into our freezer.

I recently took one out for Mother’s Day and it was very good. So happy this store was able to stay open and provide GF options. I love baking, but I also love easy, so this fits the bill!

I ordered this cookie kit from another local bakery. These were not for me…sadly, because they were made with regular flour, but my people had fun decorating and munching a sweet treat. Cookies for days!

Essential Self Care

I ordered this really great facial kit from a local spa. Everything was labeled with complete and simple instructions. I love how I was able to order and she dropped it off on my porch. So many small businesses are going the extra mile to keep customers or get new customers.

Essential Messages

This is a tee I ordered from a local boutique. I think this message is very important right now. So many people are trying their best. The owner of the shop had these designed by a local tee shirt maker and then she posted them in her store.

I love this message….and I truly believe miracles can happen everyday!

Buying just a few things from local places or even online etsy shops has made me feel like I am helping out a small business. It is very easy to shop from bigger online retailers….and don’t get me wrong I do, sometimes that’s needed, but don’t forget about the little retailers and entrepreneurs. Buying small and local has made me feel good and hopefully helped those businesses during this very odd time are living in.

Posted in Family Life

May The 4th Be With Us

Since things are a bit different now, I wanted to write a quick post today about our most recent visit to Star Wars Galaxies Edge in Disney World. It was a fun experience-as usual and we are very blessed that we visit Disney annually. Not sure how a 2021 trip will look like if any, but is was fun to do a little look back this morning and how perfect on May 4th.

He did not like my tee.

I love how this calendar day is now connected to a little bit of fun and fantasy. I have been a lover of Star Wars since I was a wee person. I am not an over the top fan, but it is enjoyable and I have good memories watching the movies with my brother. I even had those blue star wars sheets as a kid. Not exactly sure where they are now….my Mom’s linen closet or long gone, funny how that works.

On our trip my hubs and I had fun looking at all of the details and what Disney Imaginers create. This isn’t a Disney review, so I won’t overshare what we saw. You can see from out pics that is was well done, fun and crowed. We enjoy Star Wars, but our little lady tolerates it….or so she says. I think she secretly loves it, but it is fun being oppositional sometimes. Jedi mind tricks for sure.

We stood in the hour long line….it was worth it to “fly” in the Millennium Falcon.

Just needed to add some whimsy to this day as I work from home and attempt to do some 5th grade math!

I feel a family movie night in our future! In these quarantined times I am glad we have eachother.

May the 4th Be With You…..and all of us!

Posted in Teaching Life

Boom Cards & Distance Learning for Deaf /HH Students

I don’t know about you, but since life has changed a bit, I am trying to keep up and keep going. Teaching is definitely not what it looked like months ago and because it is such a drastic change I have had mixed feelings about everything.

Trying to to the best I can for my students has been a driving force. I am obviously not seeing them face to face. Being one to one with my students is vital and because of where we are…home, I can not deliver the same level of instruction.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Home-E-learning-Suggestions-and-Resources-for-Family-Support-5326320

Meeting goals and keeping my kiddos engaged has been a focus. In the beginning I was sending home paper based activities. I also had website suggestions and app ideas for my students and parents to support my goals and what the classroom teachers are doing. It has been wonderful that many online companies offered free subscriptions.

After a few weeks of teaching I started to settle in and so did my students. This is a great thing, but I still felt like I needed to do more. A good friend dipped her toe in the Boom Cards pond and I was intrigued and inspired by her process, so I decided to look into making some.

https://wow.boomlearning.com/store/authorId/WNNmzcKExv4npGZAd/1

My objective is to make materials that will help my students grow, practice skills and have fun. I focus on listening in a typical session, this is something that is not happening with distance, so I wanted to create decks that focused on listening-hearing my voice.

I decided to jump in with both feet. I needed to figure it out, which thankfully Boom is easy to navigate and I am blessed I have a friend who is willing to answer my calls for help. Putting my decks together was fun and got me pumped for distance learning. With this platform I feel I am spicing it up, meeting IEP goals, offering variety and providing interaction.

https://wow.boomlearning.com/store/authorId/WNNmzcKExv4npGZAd/1

I created my classroom, made the activities and BOOM….learning is happening. I love that there are options to track progress and assign decks for specific students. It is very customizable.

If you are looking for something to enhance what you are doing from home I recommend looking into Boom Cards. I created a store once I had a handful of activities made. My store is under my blog name and my TpT store. There are lots of resources out there to support you as you are trying to support your distance learners.

I know this can be hard and sometimes frustrating. We are teaching in unprecedented times. None of us are perfectly getting this right, but my hope is as a community we can support and share what is working for us!

Posted in Positive Life

Bring On The Spring

I haven’t been super motivated to write this past week. Times are strange, I miss my typical routine and the weather has been iffy. However today is looking up!

The weather is beautiful and it was easy to head outside for fresh air and sunshine.

I have some ideas I am working on for school. Distance teaching has been very interesting. It has been an adjustment, but I am trying to roll with it! My hope is this week I will post my new resources and strategies for distance teaching and itinerants.

Until the words hit the page…I am wishing you a week of peace, positive vibes and productivity. Remember we are in this together and there is strength in numbers!

Posted in Positive Life

Sunshine and Crafting

The sun is out! Thought I would try to motivate myself and finish a project I started….well purchased a while ago. These are organizational bins for a little crafter I know. My mini and I shopped for the items in February, when we could push a cart in peace and safety.

Today we finally added the vinyl labels. She picked the font and colors. I used my Cricut to cut them. That might be one of my favorite techie items.

Now that these are packed and ready they just need to be dropped off!!! Seeing that we can still do drive bys and leave something on a porch, I figure it is now or….June when we can take them over.

These should help keep him organized and busy!!! Finding things to do can be a struggle these days. Kids need things that are not screen time.

I hope you are finding ways to fill all of the home time.

Posted in Positive Life

Tell Me Something Good

30 days. 30 days of social distancing. It has been an experience and it continues to be an adjustment. One thing that seems to be a weekly take away is people need people.

A small message can mean so much. I have been trying to reach out and be present with my tribe. Some people I naturally communicate with more, but for people I would typically see at my schools and places I frequent I am making a concerted effort to check in.

Ways to Check-in

  • Text
  • Call
  • Video
  • Meme
  • Pictures
  • Group thread
  • Email
  • Card
  • Letter
  • Care package

Be that person who makes an effort to connect.

I know it is tough to be positive, to be present, and to be productive when you are staying safe and staying home. Maybe you can’t be that ray of sunshine everyday, but if you can…shed your inner light on your tribe, your people. Doing good feels good. You’ll be feeding two souls at once.

Something to consider. I hope you are well. I hope this makes you stop and say hmmmmm??

Posted in Positive Life

5 Ways To Cope With Being Inside Right Now

Since work and home are not exactly normal these days I am trying to find a balance in how to make this the time positive, productive and peaceful. As a mother and a wife I am looking for things to do and ways to stay grounded for my people and myself. In this post I really wanted to focus on the five things I feel are working and pulling me through these weeks.

Reorganizing

In my last post I shared my newly reorganized closet. It took up some time to do and now when I step in, to put on a clean pair of yoga pants, I feel calm and can see everything. I am not getting dressed for work everyday, so putting things I am wearing, at home, in easier places to reach has been a help.

However fast or slow you go….you will get there and what gets done gets done.

I recommend starting small. Try one cupboard or drawer. Maybe that junk drawer needs a tidy. Even just rearranging the refrigerator can help. Seeing things the same day after day can be mind numbing. Switch up what your looking at.

Yoga

So many of us are finding ways to get fitness in. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know yoga is my jam. I have been doing my own home practice and hopping online to take a classes from my teacher. This has been great for my mental health more than my physical. If yoga isn’t your thing maybe search to see what local gyms or studios are doing to keep going forward in this bizarre time.

This speaks to me on so many levels……

Netflix and Chill

I am trying to take this time at home in daily bits. Some days I have the energy to clean and organize. Some days the only thing I want to lift is the remote and a snack to my mouth. While trying to resist the snacks I will indulge in a bit of binging. Time clearly goes by and seeing that I was a bit behind on watching TV- finding the silver lining here, I am happily catching up on suspense and drama.

Here are a few things I am watching ….

  • Outlander
  • Jack Ryan
  • Harry Potter Marathons
  • Ozark
  • Key House
Chips and TV it is!!!!!

Walks

This has become our family exercise. We try, weather dependent, to get out and walk. It is basic, we are blessed we can still do this simple activity and it seems normal. It is not unusual for us to get out and walk together. My hubs likes to make sure he has gotten his steps in, so he is usually the catalyst for this time. We typically just do 1-2 miles in our neighborhood.

These messages of hope keep me looking forward.

Since this staying in, staying home and staying safe situation has become our new normal, we have been trying to kick it up a notch. I think many other people have been too. I have always thought we lived in a quiet and dull neighborhood, but with this current situation I have seen more people out than ever. Families with kids, couples, dogs and even a cat are getting as much fresh air as they can. Step counts are up!

Daily Connections

This is the thing that I think is important. So many of us are attached to our phones. We mindlessly scroll Instagram or Facebook. We use our phones to do work-emails, research and video calls/meetings.

I am choosing to stay as positive as I can…there will be crap days for sure, but they will pass and I can breathe knowing that.

I was almost getting really sick of my phone and I definitely think a daily timeout is healthy, but another thing I find to be helpful at this time is making sure I text or call atleast two people everyday….and not about work. I want to know how they are doing and possibly hear something funny. I have had a few great conversations lately, that made me laugh and remember why I love my tribe. Normally we are to busy to invest that amount of time, but we have time, so I’m using it!

Ways to Connect

  • Text
  • Phone call
  • Pictures
  • Group threads
  • Video calls…whatever format works for you. Facetime, Skype or Zoom.
  • Cards and letters
  • Send a gift or package
I see you. I know you are doing the best you can….keep doing that.

However you are getting through this time, I hope you are doing well and able to see the light at the end of this tunnel. Take time to breathe and do what feels right. If you feel like a mass purge or just sitting and hibernating know both of those things are okay. We are all in this together and there is no right way to feel or react. Be well and stay safe.