Sunday, August 24, 2014

Our First Week is in the Books!

Yes...summer is over. Not only do I have to remember the day of the week, but oh my...I have to wake up to an alarm! Those that know me well know that this is certainly something that is NOT in my wheelhouse. Goodness...there were a couple of pretty violent snooze punches this week. 

Ah well... early or not, I have genuinely enjoyed our first week back! Every year I think that it is just not possible for me to love what I do any more than I do, and every year I am proved wrong. This new round of kiddos has me excited for all the possibilities. It is going to be an awesome year, and we have certainly started off productively!

As always, we launched our Reading Workshop with a huge, and frankly quite messy, book frenzy! Stacks of books were given to each kiddo - this is when I love my huge library. Each stack contains books just below, comfortably within, and just above their reading levels and lots of their favorite genres, subjects, and authors. Watching them make their final selections and conferencing with them clues me in to just how well each kiddo is at making appropriate book choices.

Garrett checking out blurbs to create his
"to read" pile in his cubby

Stacks of "to read" piles in we conference and work
together on reading, adjustments will be made to help kiddos
continue growing and motivated in their independent reading
Of course, my ultimate goal is to get them reading and responding to the books they love as quickly as possible.... AND to do as much of that as possible WITHOUT unnecessary interruption from me.



I am a big believer that kiddos DO NOT get nearly enough uninterrupted independent reading throughout the day. So I definitely try to give them as much as possible in my room. It is always my goal to guide each student as unobtrusively as possible, but we do need time to talk about our reading as well. 

A quick round of Mix-Pair-Share to discuss
our book choices :)

I certainly couldn't launch a crazy book frenzy
without my awesome new librarians...
not sure if they know the enormity of the task
they have agreed to take on :)

Our writing workshop is launched right along side reading workshop... getting the kiddos comfortable and established in the routines and procedures of writing workshop can be challenging, but we are on our way to some fun writing!

We created our writer's notebooks!


Some of my favorite personal notebooks

And our heart maps...



Of course I had to read some of my favorite picture books....


This year's kiddos were overwhelmingly impressed with the engravings of Barry Moser in What You Know First. Such a beautiful book!

We had a surprise visitor in our first week new Marine stopped by to say hello! He took a few minutes to talk to the kiddos and answer questions. So proud of him!  They seemed to get a kick out of it, and they had some great questions for him. 


He stopped by after visiting another teacher at our local high school... this sweet, sweet lady had the opportunity to visit the MCRD in San Diego and small worlds of small worlds, she was able to meet and eat lunch with Justin. After not hearing from him for months, she called and delivered precious news about how he was doing in bootcamp. I will forever be grateful to her for such a simple act of kindness. :)

I also had a couple of former (and present lol) kiddos come back to visit me after school. They were totting little sister around with them as they visited teachers. The expression on his face is cracking me up, and that is not even HIS little sister...she belongs to the boy on the left....haha. 

I am sure you will all be surprised, but I made a stop by my fave book store this weekend. Whoop whoop! Ah... the feeling of peace that comes from walking into a good book store! It's like coming home!

Well...even more surprising... I found a new favorite picture book.

Little tidbit here...I am a sucker for a picture book that started as a song... I have quite a few, and I just can't help myself when I find a new one. 

Jon J Muth did an AMAZING job painting this beautiful song by Bob Dylan. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Oh...and it has a CD... happy dance! I cannot wait to share this one!

I also finished reading the sweetest and most skillfully written little book. Sheila Turnage has such a beautiful way with words, and more than once I caught myself stopping and rereading a certain part just to wallow in the magic of it. It is no wonder that it was a Newberry Honor Book, and I cannot wait to read it to my kiddos. I am in love with Mo Lebeau and all of her southern stubbornness! Such an unforgettable character!

I guess that's it for now, my blogging peeps. I will say goodnight until next time.

Happy Reading, friends!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pride and Prayers

Look at that handsome boy! I am home from a whirlwind of a weekend where I watched my very own little boy graduate from Marine boot camp. Yes, I am THAT obnoxious mother that refuses to call her son anything other than my little boy, but as grown as he is and after all that he has endured for the last three months, I still cannot see him as anything other than my sweet little pumpkin head. 


This was honestly such a crazy, busy time of the year to trek across the country, but I couldn't miss it for anything!

I was lucky that my principal was understanding, and I even got to meet my classroom kiddos at an early open house. 

But from the moment I left school....the wild rush began... Mr. Dunn and I traveled with Justin's girlfriend, Ellysa, to San Diego, with all of us nervous and excited at the same time. Of course that made for nauseating travel...oh that air turbulence sure can do a number on you.
But we made it...beautiful, sunny San Diego!

Before we hit the MCRD (Marine Corp Recruit Depot), we met Katie Byrd and hit the beach. 

Mission Beach was gorgeous, and we managed to have fun and unwind a bit.

Not a lot of people know this about me, but I love a good roller coaster ride! Not the new crazy throw you upside down rides...nope, not this girl. But you give me a good old fashioned wood roller coaster, and I am in heaven. A very loud, screaming, giggling heaven, but heaven just the same!

The Giant Dipper at Belmont Park on Mission Beach fit the bill, and the girls and I had lots of fun and giggles before trying to get some rest for family day at MCRD.

MCRD is a gorgeous post, but all I really wanted to see was Justin.

One of the MCRD photographers captured this...we
were all crying by the time it was all over!



Family day was the first time in over three months that we got to see our boy. He has grown and changed so much, and I couldn't fit enough "I love you" and "I've missed you" into the day!

A whole lifetime ago, Josh and I were both active duty Air Force, and as time and distance have moved us away from that life, I had forgotten all of the tradition and ceremony involved with events like this. I have to say that I truly enjoyed every minute of it, and if watching those boys march across the parade deck, brave and handsome in their uniforms, does not bring out the patriot in you, nothing will!

Even though they all look alike without their hair, I could see my baby right off. 

I have no doubt that Justin is proud his accomplishments and ready to be the best Marine ever, but I can promise you he was more than ready to leave the MCRD as soon as possible to start his 10 day leave. Hmmm...I guess I don't have to wonder why. :)

At Justin's request, we hit the beach again!

He looks so happy!

Look, look, look...I managed to get almost everyone on to ride the coaster!

We had tons of fun, shared lots of smiles and hugs, and hated to leave. The journey home was long and frustrating with late flights and lost baggage, but arriving home with Justin, made it all worth it.

No sooner had we made it home when Justin was approached by a gentlemen that asked him to join him for a minute. He introduced Justin to his mother-in-law, and she preceded to tell him that her husband was a Marine. Justin ended up helping her out to her car. She could not have been more excited to have her Marine escort. I couldn't help but smile and burst with pride watching him.


Justin is embarking on a journey that I would never have pictured him taking. From the beginning, I have prayed for him, hoping that he was making the right choice for him and that he would be safe from any number of things that a young infantryman might encounter. I have prayed for his father and give us strength as he moves away from us to a life that is so far from all that we know. 

I can honestly say that I have never been more scared and proud for him in his life, but I would say that pride and prayers covers a lot of what we are feeling.

Well blogging friends, I am off for now. I have a first day of school to get ready for...can't wait to see my new kiddos and begin my own new adventure tomorrow.

Happy Reading, friends!

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