Monday, July 9, 2018

Where I've Been

So the past year(ish) has been a little crazy. Not only did I have the toughest school year in to date, but my husband and I started our IVF journey last July. Let's start with the school year.

So the 2017-2018 school year started a little nuts, and I was not in the best mindset. My class and I were not clicking and it took a long time to click. After having an amazing school year the year before, I was taken aback and almost in disbelief in the lack of chemistry I was having with my students, and the lack of chemistry they were having with one another.  I had so much going on outside of school, and really had a challenging time slowing down to really figure out what was going on with my students. As the year went on things improved. We hit a rhythm and got used to the routine and I slowed down and went back to the basics. And luckily, I have the MOST amazing team of ladies to lean on. They're literally the BEST. Things did get better. It took more time than I would have liked, but we made it.
We also got a new math curriculum that I do not love, and was not meshing with it. Math is my jam, so it made me very sad, and made me loathe teaching math.
As I said, it was rough. We did end the year on a high note, and we were able to create some happy and loving memories. We did a lot of cool things, and some of my students really created lasting friendships with each other (which is always the sweetest thing).

To say I was ready for some downtime is an understatement.

2017 came with some heartaches and some goodness though. We began IVF in July 2017, and the sleepless nights, anxiety, bloating, bruises, and all of the wonderful things that come with IVF began.
I had my first egg retrieval on the second day of school (YES, I had a SUB on the SECOND DAY OF SCHOOL!). Five days later my Reproductive Endocrinologist transferred one perfect little embryo. Sadly... It did not take. And that was ok. We still had one little embryo on ice, and we were part of the money back guarantee program at our fertility clinic, which gave us some piece of mind.

September did have some upsides though. My sister gave birth to my perfect little niece, Winnie. 

Later in September, we transferred our second embryo. Great news, this one took! We were overjoyed! All of this work, and it worked! My numbers were looking great, and continued to rise. Then, I started bleeding. And panic set in. Early on October 7 we headed to the doctor's office for another blood draw. We got the call a few hours later that my levels had continued to rise, and that I was in the green. Then Sunday came. Tom was gone all day, and there I was. Passing clot after clot of bright red blood. I just kept thinking, there is NO way this little tiny embryo made it through this. I had my hopes up that it was just an SCH, and that baby would survive. I took the next day off, and headed back to the doctor's offices for another blood draw. A few agonizing hours later, I got the call. Sure enough, baby was gone. Another heartbreak. Another baby gone. And all of our embryos were gone. Our second angel baby was gone. 

That meant another round of meds {and another round of paying for meds}. Another surgery. More time off work, more shots. More. We started our next cycle of meds sometime in late November, and they were able to retrieve 16 more eggs. 15 were mature, and they all fertilized. By day 5, we were down to 3 embryos. I feel like people usually get more than 3 little embryos, but hey, you take what you can get. On December 16, they transferred 2 cute little embryos. We crossed our fingers and waited. I began testing 5 days after the embryo transfer, and surely enough the test was negative. I thought it was over. Threw in the towel, and I was done. That weekend we were out town celebrating the holidays with our families. We drove back to Cincinnati on the night of Christmas Eve, and on the way Tom convinced me to take another test. We stopped at Walgreens and bought one overpriced pregnancy test. When we got home, I took it right away. And then we waited. Three of the longest minutes later, there were two lines. We had hope. Hesitant, trying to not get too excited, hope. That week I took a test everyday. To make sure the lines were getting stronger. To make sure I wasn't hallucinating. And sure enough. Each test was stronger.
On December 28, I had my first blood draw at the doctors office. With my
fingers, toes, and everything else crossed. I waited for the call, and there was my favorite nurse, Heather, on the other end. My numbers were high. strong. They asked for me to come in in 48 hours for another check. The next one was even higher. Then the next one. At 5 weeks 5 days we went in for our first ultrasound. There were two sacs. One was bigger than the other. We could see a heartbeat in the bigger one, but there wasn't even a fetal pole in the second one. Our RE requested for us to come in the next week for another ultrasound to check on the second sac.
We went in the next week, and our bigger baby looked great! But the second sac was now oversized and the doctor told us that this was a typical size for a vanishing twin. Our Third baby. Gone. My heart was breaking for the third time, but yet I was overjoyed for the other baby to be thriving. Two totally opposite feelings to feel. Mourning the loss of one baby, but being hesitantly excited for the other baby. 
Our first miscarriage was in June of 2015, at 8 weeks. That was my goal. To make it to 8 weeks. We made it. We made it to 8 weeks. And then to 10. And then to 12. At 12 weeks we were released from our RE's office, and head to the OBs office.  At 14 weeks we told our families, and at 19 weeks we announced to the world. We have decided not to find out baby's gender, because neither of us know if this will be our only pregnancy. While I have not enjoyed every minute of being pregnant, it makes me so so sad knowing that this could be the only time I have a little one rolling, kicking, and punching me from the inside. It has truly been an honor to grow this tiny person. 

So now here I sit. VERY pregnant, VERY uncomfortable, but so so so so happy, and so in love.
So this year, I will head back to school quite pregnant. My leave will start on September 4, unless baby decides to make their grand debut before that. I will return to school after the holiday break in January. 

Thank you for reading this long, drawn out, story. If I can help just one person have hope, than I have done my job. If you're going through this awful fight, entrust in someone. Share. Talking about it really helps. And know you're not alone.

Thanks for reading friends!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

FIVE Back to School Tips

Hey Guys!
With back to school at the forefront of my mind I thought I would share some things I have learned over the years. Now don't get me wrong. I am NOT a veteran teacher by any means. I am going into my fifth year, but with a staff of mostly new teachers, I am leaned upon {happily} quite a bit!

1. Think about your procedures, a lot.
No one ever told me this in college, and I student taught with an amazing teacher, but in third grade. I never thought that I would have to teach my students how to get a pencil, or how to wash their hands. Here are some basic procedures you will want to think about, and then model, and practice with your students:
-bathroom breaks outside of class bathroom breaks
-how to turn things in
-how to get a new pencil
-using the drinking fountain
-class restroom break procedures
-walking to the carpet/meeting space
-behavior at meeting space
-how to line up
-lunch count
-passing things out
-attention grabbers
-how to throw tissues away
Obviously this is not an all inclusive list, but it is a good place to start. Once you know what you want to do, practice, practice, and practice again. And if it doesn't work how you thought it would, it's ok! Change it and try again.

2. Plan more read alouds than you thought you would need. They are seriously a life saver, and give your kids, and you, a well deserved break. Did they get through something really quickly? Great, read a book. Did they doze off during your lesson? Great, read a book. Do they seem bored out of their minds? Great, read a book. Do you have ten extra minutes? Great, read a book. Read alouds give the kids so many opportunities to practice procedures as well. Walking to the meeting space, practicing sitting on the carpet {NOT touching anyone!}, walking back to their seats, responding to questions, raising their hands, and stamina to sit for that amount of time. Plus, read alouds usually have great lessons in them. Here are some great back to school read alouds:
-Wemberly Worried
-First Day Jitters
-The Night Before First Grade
-If You Take a Mouse to School
-No David
-Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon
-Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun
-How Full is Your Bucket?
Once again, this is not an all inclusive list, but a great place to start!

3. Now, by no means am I a big craft person. Cutting, gluing, pasting, scraps, it's just not my jam. And not to mention, copies. Ugh. BUT, during the first weeks of school, craftivities are invaluable. Students are practicing following directions, cutting, gluing, pasting, where to throw scraps {not on the floor}, making connections with stories, and the list goes on. There are a TON of great resources on TpT for craftivities, just search for the book you want to connect it with! Some of my favorite craftivities for back to school are No David, and Wemberly Worried.

4. Have some teacher treats around. I don't know about you, but a piece of chocolate at 1:30 can really give me some motivation to get through the day. Those first weeks are tough! You are trying to establish a routine with not only your students, but as a professional and a spouse/parent/furparent/whateverelsetheworldneedsyoutobe. I have been off for 10 weeks and have basically no routine, it is tough for me to get back into it, and I am an adult. Imagine how our students are feeling. Many late nights, movies, video games, bon fires, etc. The list goes on on why summer is a blast, but we all have got to get back into a routine. So if a piece of chocolate, or an iced coffee gets me through the afternoon, then so be it. Just be sure you have something that you love and look forward to. That way even if you want to cry on the inside you will have a smile on the outside.

5. Seriously. Go home. Leave your computer at school. Don't take anything. You cannot pour from an empty cup. I have been there. I know what it feels like to drown. But! I made myself drown. Nothing has to be perfect, or just so. They are children. They do not care. They are worried about other things, like pulling the large booger out of their nose, or what they are going to play at recess. They won't know if the anchor chart isn't from Pinterest or if the graphic organizer is perfectly centered. Or if your classroom looks like the one from that teacher who has been teaching from umpteen years. They do not care. They care that you are kind, warm hearted, and cheery in the morning. You know how you are when you are stressed and don't sleep enough. Make the list, make a goal to cross a couple off of it in the morning, or before you leave. Then, go home, pour the glass of wine (or tea, or water, or whatever), watch some Netflix, and go to bed. Come back in the morning well rested and ready to take on the day. 

And that's it folks. Those are my five tips that I have learned over the past fews years, and will strive to achieve this year! What are your tips??

**All clipart was purchased and created by Melonheadz and Educlips

Thursday, June 1, 2017


I know. Once again. Long time. Whoops! As teachers know, we're busy... and that's totally ok! My goal this summer is to spend more time in this space! Because of my long time absence, I want to start things off with a new *pretty* product that I am super excited about! I am trying to be more creative and think outside the box. While I do not think that my "specialty" is print and go like the Moffatt Girls, or curriculum like Amy Lemons & Hope King, I do think I could totally get into this kind of thing. You never know until you try right? But seriously folks. These are so pretty. They pretty much blew my mind.


And can we talk about Amy Grosbeck's new fonts? How amazeballs. It's like she knows what fonts I want before I know I want them.

I am going to use these for not only my calendar, but also as a station for ordering the days of the week  and the months of the year at the beginning of the year, and in my writing station! I am going to use the small column ones to label my file folders, and organize my tubs and containers of supplies.

There are over 140 pages of months, days, and numbers! There are black and white, ones with decorated backgrounds, and all that jazz! These month and day cards are just stinkin' pretty.

So folks, don't miss out! Enter the giveaway below, or if you just can't wait check these P-R-E-T-T-Y cards out on TpT!

Giveaway closes on June 11!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Literacy in Math

Hey Folks!
So I have been seriously into math and reframing my pedagogy surrounding my math instruction.  I am participating in the revision of Ohio Department of Education's Model Curriculum. I have to say, I am working with some amazing people. Like not kidding. Amazing educators who have worked tirelessly to restructure teacher's thinking, and GET OUT OF THE WAY. My biggest takeaway has been to get out of the kid's way, and let them work. Let them explore and learn and ask questions and work cooperatively and talk to each other {and you!}.  And I have been working on doing this in my classroom. Let me just say... It's HARD! I have had to put down the Expo marker and let my students go. I have had to restructure my instructional framework, and put our tools at kid level. And boy... Have I watched them soar!

Over the past couple weeks I have been trying to incorporate more literature focused math mini lessons that required my students to solve a problem, use a series of skills, or solve multi-step problems. One of the literature pieces we used was a poem from Shel Silverstein called Band-Aids.

As you can see, this is a super fun poem that you could obviously use to teach lots of literacy elements, but for our purposes, we used it for math!

Here's what we did:

  • Day One 
    • Read the poem and discussed the literacy elements
    • Acted it out
  • Day Two
    • Read the poem {repeat, choral, boys and girls, etc}
    • Underlined the number words and discussed the meaning of the number word
      • Actually, the students suggested we do this! We talked about how number words mean the same thing as the numeric representation as well as the quantity the number words represent.
    • Discussed how we could figure out the quantity of Band-Aids
      • The students decided to number the lines
      • Divide the poem 
        • Each pair of students ended up getting two lines, and had to figure out the quantity within each line
      • Students used LOTS of strategies to figure out how many bandaids were in each pair of lines
      • Students presented how they found their quantities to the class
  • Day Three
    • Students worked in pairs or teams to figure out how to add all of the numbers together!
    • Students shared their strategies

We had stuff everywhere! But it was fun, and engaging, and challenging, and cooperative, and all things good. I know I have a long way to go, but dang, I have got to be on the right road at least!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Long Vowel Sorts


Guys. I have been so. stinkin. busy. But only in the best way. For serious. I have been a workin' woman. No but for real. I have been clicking and dragging until my fingers are sore! I just FINALLY finished these awesome long vowel sort activities that are going to benefit my firsties so. much. Long vowels are HARD ya'll! Specially long U. There's UE, EW, UI, U-E, and the list goes on and on and on and on. But! That's why we're here! Cause I'm a problem solver!

I know that long vowels and vowel teams are quickly approaching in our curriculum and I wanted to be sure that my students have a go-to practice, hands on, activity. I usually have these task cards set up by a pocket chart, but sometimes my students like to lay them all out on the floor and sort them. There is also a recording sheet to have for accountability and to use as a progress monitoring tool. 

I have these set up in task car boxes, and my students get to choose which word sort they practice. I also use them as a quick formative assessment, and as an intervention tool! 

I hope your students have as much fun with these sorts as my students did!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Walking in a Rainy Wonderland

I know. I know. I stink at this during the school year. I just really struggle with this. So right now I am home sick with some sort of awful stomach bug, but I think I am on the tail end of it and am getting over it. Of course I had to miss the first day back with my babies, but I would rather keep whatever this is to myself. Over the past few months I have been working on a Calendar Math Journal and am finally putting the finishing touches on it! That's what I enjoy the least- the cover page and the instructions! But I know that for this particular product it HAS to have printing directions, and that they will make life so much easier for teachers!  When that is finished I PROMISE I will post about them!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Long Overdue

Hey Friends!
It's been a long time. Life has been more than busy though. This summer I spent countless hours preparing my classroom and materials for my kiddos. Like... countless. Sometimes I ask myself... why? Why do I spend my whole summer prepping for the next year? Well... It's because at the end of every year I see something that was missing, something I need work on, or to do better. I see things that can be more engaging, more meaningful, or better differentiated. So that's what I did this summer. I spent hours researching things that would not only work for my students, but for me. I looked for materials that would be multi-purpose and allow me to easily differentiate. Then I stumbled upon the jackpot. I found Brown Bag Teacher. I found myself wondering how I didn't find her sooner, and how she figured all of this out even after working in an intermediate grade.  I found myself wondering how did she do this, and when did it just click for her? Catherine inspired me through her blog, and her TpT products to be a better teacher. To allow my students to create and work at their own level, all while being silly and rigorous. So I dove in, head first.
I started small, making math centers (that took forever and a day to make, but now I never have to do it again), and then I made Dolch word cards (which also took forever, and made my hand hurt), and I invested in these Sterilite containers that changed my life. Then I went crazy and bought a TON of them when I saw them on Amazon 6 for $19.00 (seriously... I think I bought 24 MORE than I already have). Then I made Word Work Centers from Catherine, and then I thought, now how on Earth do I get this up and running. Slowly, but surely my students are working at differentiated levels. We began with Show Me the Number from TBBT's math centers, and we practiced 3-4 times as a class, and then I let my high students go and worked with just my little people. 
Then MAGIC happened. I began to see my students talk about numbers, ask each other questions, and use all of the visual spatial skills they have all at once. My teacher heart was about to burst. We continued to practice and I am happy to say that next week we will learn about our second station. 

I did make BBT's word work stations as well, but I don't have any pictures. We have learned how to do Pyramid Words, and are working on getting our writing journals up and going. 

This summer was all about growth for me. All about growing as a teacher, as a leader, and as an instructional specialist. I came into this school year with the goal of differentiating my instruction, and making it more meaningful to my students, and I feel like I am well on my way! 

What goals did you set for yourself for this school year? Haven't set one yet? It's never too late!

P.S.- Don't forget to check out Catherine's blog over at Brown Bag Teacher. And no, this was not sponsored, or anything. Just one teacher supporting another awesome teacher.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to Make Labels!

Hi Friends!
So I got really into this tutorial making business. I think that these are just skills that teachers should have though- the ability to do things themselves! This afternoon I recorded this quick 5 minute tutorial on how to make labels for your classroom! We have all seen them, and contemplated buying them, but now you will know how to make them! Watch below and leave a comment with anything that you would like to learn how to make!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

2 for Tuesday!

Hi Friends!
I wanted to quickly link up with Chalk One Up for the Teacher for her 2 for Tuesday Linky!

Each week she features two products in her TpT store that she has on sale! How awesome, right?! Well this week I wanted to feature two new products that I have created.
I am working on creating NEW short vowel activities, and I finally finished short A!

There are 50 pages of activities for your students to complete, all while practicing short A! This is perfect for centers, quick assessments, and interactive activities, and is 20% until Friday July 1!

The second product I have on sale this week is another phonics activity which focus' on digraph CH!

There are 48 pages of interactive CH activities that are perfect for quick assessments, spiral review, and centers. This product is also 20% off through Friday! 

Check out the rest of the sales these awesome ladies are throwing at:
Chalk One Up for the Teacher

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Google Drawing Template Tutorial

Hey Guys!
I created another Google Drawing Tutorial! This one is all about using Google Drawing Templates that have already been created. These templates make it super simple for your students to work collaboratively on a device through the classroom.

I have really enjoyed creating these tutorials, and want to continue doing them! If there is anything YOU want to learn how to do, or if you have any questions, comment below!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Google Drawings Tutorials

Hi! I haven't been by in a while but life has been a little on the CRAZY side! But now that things are finally normalizing and I am finding a routine with it being summer break, I wanted to be sure I popped in! As you may or may not know, I am finishing my LAST semester of grad school, and am getting my degree in Curriculum and Instruction. One my of my last classes in an independent study and my prof. and I thought it would be cool to explore GAFE (Google Apps for Education). So I did, and she suggested exploring Google Drawings, which is a platform I haven't ever really played with before. We collaboratively decided to do a series of tutorials on how to use Google Drawings in the
classroom! I have published my first two videos and am really proud of them, and oddly, I really enjoyed planning and creating them. This was the first time I have really done anything with Google Drawings, but I feel like it's kind of like Microsoft Office Powerpoint, but compatible with Google Classroom, and better for collaboration and sharing digitally.

I wanted to be sure to share the tutorials with you guys, and get any feedback that you have! Is there something else you would like to know? What kinds of things would you like to be able to do with your kiddos digitally?

So here is tutorial #1.
and here is #2!

Questions? Comments? Ideas for other tutorials? Leave me a comment!