Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I am not sure where to begin...so much has happened since my last post.

I have had much of this drafted forever now...I mean LIKE forever! And here it is Easter, and after visiting with my family on this beautiful day, I am finally able to take a few minutes to publish this.

So I will start with Happy Easter!

But goodness...what could I possibly share next...?

Hmm....how about

Parent Teacher conferences....

Spring Break...

The last mad dash of practice before for our Benchmark test...

one of my baby boys turned 19,

and last but certainly NOT least...four arduous days of testing!

Hmmmm.....


Guess I will start at the beginning, and well, you know me by now I am sure...most of this catching up will be done in pictures.

We had really great conferences this semester. I have to say that these were my easiest yet.

One of my most favorite things every year during conferences is when my kiddos come back to see me. These cuties come back every time, and Mrs. Whitt and I sure do love them!

After conferences, we were headed into spring break! 

We actually had a bit of beautiful weather during our break! I managed to make it to Petit Jean with Josh and Joshua for a little hike!



 

While we were enjoying our hike, I managed to run into some of my kiddos! I was so excited to see these sweet girls! Such a small world!



We even managed a to drum up a craw-fish boil for the boys during our break. Derrick had been dying for this for a long while now!



After our lovely break, we had one week left before testing. Yuck!

We worked our rear ends off getting ready, and I am sure you know as well as the kiddos just how that was no fun!

Of course we had to make sure to find some fun somewhere! We squeaked out a few fun days in the sun...

 

 





Every spring the field just past our playground turns into a blanket of flowers, and the kiddos love playing in them.

I am sure that by now, most of you know my weakness for hibachi...

Justin and I managed to sneak away for a quick lunch, just the two of us, and he managed to snap this cool pic...

Now, right next to the hibachi restaurant is my second favorite book store in the world...Hastings. 

This place is the bomb because they sell not only new books but used books, too! Check out all those "used" tags! So many to choose from...


Here are some of the fun new titles I walked away with! I can't wait to share some with you soon...be on the look out.




Katie and I walked our first 5K of the season. It was a fun stroll around UCA. Sure brought back memories!

After our 5K, we stopped by the local library for a "Friends of the Library" sale! Holy Moly! Books...I am talking amazing hard back, library quality books, as far as the eye could see for $.50 a lb.  Yes....fifty cents a pound! This little lady walked out with 36 pounds of picture books! Katie Byrd finally told me she was cutting me off, and we had to leave. LOL....



During our week of testing, Justin turned 19. I cannot even express to you just how much want time to slow down. In less than a month from today, I will be watching my boy graduate, and then putting him on a plane to San Diego for basic training in the Marine Corps. Be ready for some tears that week!


Josh and I took Justin out for his birthday. This is him being totally embarrassed that we had the restaurant crew sing to him.


Here are two of our boys and their girlfriends. : )

 


We managed to tough it through testing. Most of us managed to keep smiling. I have NEVER been a fan of high-stakes testing and the stress it puts on my kiddos, but you just have to roll with the punches and do the best you can sometimes. I am so proud of these kids; they worked so, so hard!

Love seeing happy kiddos, no matter what!





We did manage to get some work and reading in, too!

 



After all that testing, we had a Benchmark celebration. The kiddos earned tickets all during testing that they could spend on an afternoon of fun and treats. 



Friday afternoon we all went home crashing from exhaustion AND sugar! 


Well, I actually have tons more to share, but this is forever long already!

Hopefully, I will be much better at keeping you posted... I will have more Critic's Corner soon and tons of great book recommendations!

Happy Reading, friends!



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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Empty Nests, Normal Weeks, and Critic's Corner

Oh my...it is so quiet here this rainy Sunday. The quiet of my house without my kiddos can certainly be just as deafening as a house full of rambunctious teenagers.

This is Joshua after he completed his first job interview...see the thumbs up? He got it!

And this is him, my baby boy, ready to head out to his first day of work. I dropped him off and headed home to an empty house with all of my kiddos at their very own jobs. Goodness, where does the time go? I should be trying to write this amid sounds of laughter or teenage arguments...video games or songs played too loudly...mom what's for dinner or mom can so and so come over...

If anyone has a way to slow time, please, please let me know. I am NOT ready for an empty nest! LOL...



Alright, enough whining about my impending empty nest...on to more fun things!

Mark it on your calendars, ladies and gents, because we had a full AND normal week last week! Can I get a hallelujah? I know I sure was ready to be back to some sort of structure and routine, so I can't imagine how the kids felt. 

It was busy and productive; just the way I like it!

We are truly enjoying The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. You know when you hear a chorus of, "NO! Don't stop!" while reading a book, it must be a pretty good one!


 

 

This is one of my favorite things...walking around listening to my kiddos read and discuss their thinking together. I would have let them do this all day if I didn't have to keep to a schedule!


The habitats in Mrs. Whitt's room are growing by the day! Here is one of the latest additions. Isn't he cute. :) I stopped by this weekend to get some work done and to feed this little fellow...I could have watched him for hours. 

Thank you for sharing your sweet turtle with us!

A few more additions included quite a few tiny, tiny crawfish!. They were added to the tank with the tadpole eggs  (or we are thinking possibly fish eggs) and fellow crawfish. I am curious to see how all these little fellows enjoy each other's company. And secretly, I am just wondering who will get to take all these lovelies home at the end of the year....haha.



Our kiddos got to take home the sculptures they did in art. I cannot say enough how amazing our art teacher, Mrs. Lashbrook, is with all of her kiddos. Kudos to her for sure.

Students were to combine two different animals and here are a few really cool examples...



This one is a cat and a fish...haha
catfish



Ahhh....just look at that...nothing more gorgeous than a new shelf full of books. Well, this one isn't exactly new. It is one borrowed and returned. I didn't have the heart to get rid of it, so I made room for it. It sure didn't take me long to fill it!

With over 10,000 (and growing...yes, I have a problem) books in our room, I could not make it without an awesome library assistant.



These silly boys stayed behind to help me clean one day... I think they spread more dust than they actually picked up, but goodness they are so sweet and cute...and well, I know they created a fun memory for always!






And now what you've been waiting for...

Critic's Corner!



This little cutie is the ultimate horror fiction fan, and she wants to share with you one of my all time favorite Mary Downing Hahn books!

"In Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn we meet 12 year old Molly and Michael. They have never liked their step-sister, Heather, because she makes their lives miserable. Molly and Michael try to put up with her, but it is very hard to get along with her because she is always telling lies. When Heather starts talking to a ghost, Molly feels she is in danger. My favorite character is Molly because she is fearless, and she saves Heather. I don't want to tell you how because that might spoil the ending. I loved this book because it gets you on the edge of your seat. I liked everything about it because I love horror fiction. This is one of my favorites by Mary Downing Hahn, and it was hard to beat The Doll in the Garden! I recommend this book to Emily, my best friend. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!" ~ Genna


This is my adventure lover! He is all about survival and adventure. In all honesty, I have been meaning to share this book with you for weeks, but he asked if he could be the one to share it. I think you can tell by the smile on his face just how much he loved this story.

"Endangered by Eliot Schrefer is about Sophie, a half American and half Congolese girl. Sophie visits her Mom at her bonobo sanctuary in the Congo. On the way there, she is riding with one of her mom's workers when she sees this scrawny man leaning on a bicycle with a crate attached. Sophie was curious and yelled for the driver to stop. Sophie opens the car door and runs to the man and the baby bonobo. Sophie buys the bonobo and names him Otto. My favorite character was Otto with his cute little face and soft, kind murps. I loved this book enough that it made me cry. Plus, I'm the guy who loves adventure and survival books. I recommend this book to Georgia with her love for fast paced books. This book is definetely 5 out of 5 stars." ~Austin


This beautiful girl is our historical fiction lover! She immediately knew just which book she wanted to review and knew just which basket to pluck it from.

"Kristiana Gregory's Across the Wide and Lonely Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell, 1847 is  all about a girl named Hattie, and her life on the long Oregon trail with her friends and family. The ride is very long and many people die. If they didn't die, they got new land. My favorite character is Mrs. Big because she is caring to everyone, especially Hattie. The story begins with Hattie having to leave her best friends. Hattie forgets about her friends when someone in the camp steals pots and blankets. See which camper does it in Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie. I loved this book because you get to see the lives of the Lonesome families. You will love this book. I recommend this book to historical book lovers. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars." ~Olivia


Now...one from me!

Oh my how I have become a big fan of Kathi Appelt...I already shared this one with you...


My latest chapter book venture has been a precious little fantasy fiction by Kathi Appelt. I actually picked this one up for a former student because I knew that Ms. Appelt was one of her favorite authors. Then I picked it up for myself and started reading... The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and I am so glad that I did. This is the colorful story of the myths and legends of Sugar Man Swamp and its true blue scouts, raccoons Bingo and J'miah. Lots of beautiful language in this beauty!

You can read the entire post here. 

This weekend I finished up this beauty....


Again, this was a recommendation from my last year's Savvy...thank you sweet girl. I loved it.

Kathi Appelt has a way of weaving the past and present, her characters, many myths and legends, and amazing fantasy into one beautiful and moving story. You can't help but root for Ranger, Sabine, and Puck as they struggle to make their way back to each other after being separated from each other and the Underneath. And even more, you can't wait to see exactly how each piece will come together to be the perfect story you know it will be.

And get this...I mean just check out the illustrator...I know right....the one and only David Small. LOL...I promise you I am not a stalker, but I couldn't believe it when I saw this. You already know my love for this illustrator if you have read this, this, or this.  Again, not a stalker...I promise.

But check these illustrations out...

 

 


Ranger, Sabine, and Puck are in the last illustration, and I promise...you will be rooting for them!


This is just for fun...we got such a kick out of this video. The kids are all about Disney's Frozen right now, much like these cute parents. The dad reminded us of one of the boys in our class. :) If you need a giggle, just watch his great expression as he lip syncs. 




Well, with that I am going to say goodnight...I just picked up my boy from his first day of work, and I am off to find out all about it. Oh...and fold all the laundry I have been piling on the bed all day! Night Night...


Happy Reading, friends!



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