Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Help a teacher out!

It's that time again. I am gonna use my blog to beg you loyal readers for your help. As another school year starts, that means one thing is on my mind...BOXTOPS!

Thank you Apple Photo Booth for helping me out with this post!

I have come to you for your help before (and again!). And several of you have been a HUGE help! If you're new to the blog, let me do a quick intro to the wonderful world of boxtops.

On top of many of your favorite products (Pillsbury, Ziplock, General Mills, Huggies diapers, Fiber One, Betty Crocker) there is a box top. He looks just like this....

Every time you cut one of these out and donate it to a school, the school can reimburse it for ten cents. TEN CENTS! When a whole class brings in 300 of these, that's $30 for your school! And if you school has 30 classes, that's $900...it adds up!

At my school, it's a big competition, and we use the money to buy all sorts of things for the classroom. This is a great program that benefits students and teachers and communities. So here is my plea: If you don't have a school to give to, would you save them for me? I hate to think that people throw these away just because they don't have kids or a school to give to. I would love to take them off yours hands! Even if you just collect 5 boxtops, that's fifty cents. And if 10 other readers collected 5 boxtops for me, we're looking at over $5. It adds up!

If you're interested, email me at
and I'll send you my mailing address.

Thanks wonderful friends!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Monday (can you believe it?!)

I go back to work today for teacher work week...let the fun begin! The next five days will be filled with fighting the copy machine, abusing the die cut machine, labeling text books, sitting in services, and eating all the junk they provide for us for breakfast. Fun times for all.

But, as promised, I am back with Menu Monday now that life is back on a schedule. My fabulous husband has picked up the fifth meal this week since he knows my life is gonna be ca-razy for the next two weeks. He'll also probably take that fifth meal next week since it's the first week of school. Have I mentioned how much I love having a husband who loves to cook as much as I do? And....get this...he almost always does the dishes too. How did I get so lucky?

My Meals:
  • Fajita Salad, adapted from NHerShoes
  • Corn on the cob (gotta enjoy it while it's still in season!), baked sweet potatoes with chili powder, and chicken sausage with grilled onions on hot dog buns
J's Meals:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Enjoying my last few days of summer

Here's a peek at my life as I enjoy the last week of summer...

I've been using these pretty cloth napkins...a lovely gift from my two friends, Rachel and Laura, who came to visit me a few weeks ago.

Eating donuts....even when they are melty. I just think it adds to the flavor!

Finishing The Hunger Games Trilogy! I mentioned last week that I started and finished the first book. This past weekend I finished Catching Fire and I picked up Mockingjay yesterday. Guess what I'll be doing all day?

Filling out 21 postcards for my 5th graders! I am sure they'll be thrilled to hear from me.

We have been working on putting together a guest room this summer. I have one more thing I need to buy, and a few things to hang before I share it with you all, but this picture will serve as a little sneak peak. I am loving the look of it!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What do you use Wednesday?

I'm curious friends...what household products do you loooooove? Hate? I am only so-so about the products I use in these categories. Anything I must start using? Feel free to just share about one if there's something you want to rave about.

What kind of laundry detergent do you use?

What kind of dish soap?

Kitchen cleaner?

Bathroom cleaner?

What do you use for dusting?

And because I'm nice, I have one recommendation for you all...I absolutely love this body wash from Trader Joe's. It's cheap and smells so good. Even on my grumpiest morning, this stuff makes me happy when I take a shower. (And that says A LOT because I am a big ol' grump in the morning!)

And great news! Even if you don't have a Trader Joe's, I see that you can buy it on Amazon! Here's a link. Now we can all smell like Tea Tree Tingle! It's more expensive on Amazon, but worth it for the smell!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fall Wish List 2010

Summer is quickly coming to an end (this is where I shed a tear), and in a matter of days I'll be back at work. I like making money and having an income, but I'll be honest with ya...I really prefer getting those pay checks in the summer when I'm home enjoying my time off. Is that so wrong?

Last week Kate posted about some things on her wish list for this fall. To cheer me up and take my mind off that terrible four letter word (WORK), I have come up with a little autumn wish list of my own. Care to see?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where did the time go?

#1 - I am a failure at my Menu Monday posts. I swear that I'll start posting again when my life has some sort of normality in it from week to week. Promise!

#2 - New questions and posts are up over at Book Beginnings and Bookends! Erin and I would love for you to join in!

And #3- The real reason behind this post. Today is move in day at my beloved alma mater! I can't believe it's been 8 years since I moved out and started college at JMU.

My college memories are all so fresh, 8 years just seems so far away. Here I am on my move in day, sad to be saying goodbye to my little brother...

And just for fun, a few other college memories...these pictures make me feel so old today! Anyone else feel that way?

Friday, August 20, 2010


A few weeks ago our two older nieces came to stay with us. Their three year old sister, Izzie, did not come, but we got our share of her at the lake this past weekend. This girl is a sassy, talkative, adorable, ball of fun.

And those curls...they just add to her charm! On Saturday night all of her sisters, her mom, and other uncles went to the county fair in town, but J and I stayed behind and had some fun with her at the house. These pictures (most of which J took), show her personality so well!

We think she's pretty cute, but we may be a little a biased! When the sun started to go down, we went in and read some books. But someone (I'll let you figure out who), was not happy to have share her own mommy. Can you say jealous?

She's practically sitting on my toes here. She is an only child and doesn't like having to share!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mountain Climbers & Raspberry Sauce

On Saturday of our Westport vacation, J and I decided to go for a hike. This took some convincing on his part after last year's hike. Last summer we hiked Giant Mountain in the Adirondacks and it kicked our butts. We did make it to the top and back down, but just barely. I was on the ground crying. He was puking. It was all around a horrible situation.

So this year when he suggested a hike, I was hesitant. But, like always, his charm won me over and I was off to another mountain. This year we hiked Coon, a much smaller and kinder mountain than Giant. I am pleased to report that there was no puking and no crying. I'd call that a success.

Oh, and Layla came too! Living at the beach, poor Layla has never climbed anything bigger than a small hill (and I mean small!). So a mountain climb was new for her, but she was a champ. Naturally!

Here's our view before reaching the top...

And another view from the top. I love that we could see the lake from here!

And proof that we were really here! (Oh, and also check out my awesome FNL tshirt my mom got me at the NBC store in NYC!)

We took a break, ate some chocolate chip cookies, and admired the view...

And then before we knew it, we were back at the car. A quick, easy hike. Just the way I like 'em!

I made J promise to stop by the marina in town on our way home so I could get my favorite snack, mozzarella sticks! Their mozz sticks are pretty average, but the sauce is really what I go for! Instead of a marinara sauce, they come with a raspberry sauce, sort of like a watery raspberry jam. Amazing. And they make the perfect snack after a hike!

And then, because I like you all, here's one of hot, sweaty, gross, mountain hiking Rachel indulging in her delicious snack.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Westport Vacation 2010

We had a wonderful time up in Westport, NY at Lake Champlain this past week. Something about the Adirondacks and the lake that just make it the most peaceful, relaxing spot on in the world.

While there, we sunbathed, water skied, read books (and read and read and read!), cooked and ate great food, spent time with J's family, did some hiking, and of course we played Nertz! For just three full days of vacation, we soaked it all in and enjoyed every minute of it.

Our 3 nieces (J's sister's girls)

My books of choice on this vacation...I couldn't put either one of these down!

I have a few more tales and stories of our adventure that I'll share later this week!

Monday, August 16, 2010

CeeCee Wilkes: Chapters 1-10

Today is the first "official" day of our book club over at Book Beginnings and Bookends!

Erin and I have a set of questions over there that you can respond to, and we've set up a Linky so you can respond to the first ten chapters on your own blog. I can't wait to visit your blogs to see what you've thought of the book so far!

We asked some questions on the blog this morning and I responded over on the blog. you can read my answers here.

As I have read through this first chunk of chapters, I have quickly decided that Erin and I have chosen a great book. I knew very little about this book when we chose it, and now I am so glad that we did. I have been quickly drawn in to this story. I really wanted to keep reading, but I have forced myself to stop so I can write this post without knowing what happens next.

Here are some of my main thoughts after finishing this first group of chapters...
  • The character CeeCee is endearing. I love the way Tim adores her. I think she’s a likable girl. And she truly speaks and thinks like a sixteen year old. Diane Chamberlain has created a main character in these first few chapters who has depth, a broken background,, and although she seems timid and afraid to go through with Tim and Marty’s plan, she is courageous and will rise above her fears. I like that about her. I think we’ll get to see a big change in her over the course of this book.
  • I found it interesting that Chamberlain began the book today (the present) with Corinne. It wrapped me in quickly and after that first chapter I knew the book had a lot of space to grow into.
  • I thought it was funny what an organized neat freak CeeCee is. I would not be cleaning someone’s home the way she was after just knowing him for a matter of weeks. But maybe that’s because I have issues being in other people’s messy homes?
  • I hope we see more of Naomi. When we learned a little about her background in chapter nine, I was itching to know more. What did she and Forrest do that put them in hiding? I hope we learn more about them.
  • Was anyone else slightly bothered by CeeCee being sixteen and Tim being twenty-two? She seems much too young to be involved in this sort of thing with him. Do I doubt that he loves her? No. He seems like a great guy. I just think that they are in two different worlds. But as I type this, I am beginning to think that she has more in common with Tim than she has with a sixteen year old boy due to her background. Either way, I do think their age difference adds an interesting element to the story.
Can't wait to hear what you guys have thought so far!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Teacher Week: Favorite Websites

Today is the final day for Teacher Week on Babbling Abby's Blog. I have gotten so many ideas from different teachers all week. I have loved it!

Today's theme is Favorite Websites. Even if you are not a teacher, but you are a mom of an elementary aged student, some of these sites may be helpful at home.

I use a free online tool called PortaPortal to store all my favorite websites in an organized fashion for my kids. Your PortaPortal is basically your bookmarks or favorites, but yo can access them anywhere. And the best part is, your whole class can access them by using your username and entering into Guest Access. This means they can see your favorites, but they cannot edit them

I don't want to post a link to my PortaPortal Page because it has my school info on it and I don't feel comfortable putting that up here, but I'd be happy to share it with you if you send me an email with your blog. (email: innosimplelanguageATgmailDOTcom) It's full of good stuff, so don't hesitate to email me!

Here are just a few of my favorite sites, broken down by topic...everything I've listed below is a FREE resource!

  • Harvey's Homepage: Harvey was one of my favorite college professors at JMU. He is a wonderful man who not only knows how to teach and engage children in math, but he's a whiz with a Smartboard. On his site, you'll find tons of FREE Smartboard lessons that you can download for math. His site is like a goldmine! Harvey also has his own PortaPortal full of helpful links...check it out here.
  • National Library of Virtual Manipulatives: They took all your math manipulatives and put them on a website. Such a helpful tool!
  • BBC Numbers: This is a helpful site to give good concrete examples for things in math. One thing I use every year from this site is their fraction page. I think these images demonstrate comparing fractions better than anything else I've found.
  • Worksheets Work: I use these all the time in math for extra practice with my students when we do times tables. They get a mixed practice page every night with their regular math homework. If you're a parent to an elementary student, these can be great practice at home if you notice your child needs extra help....and again, it's free!
Language Arts:
  • Reading Quest: Lots of great graphic organizers and reading strategies can be found here
  • Story Online: This is basically different celebrities reading books to kids online. This makes a great center for a small group while you are doing reading groups.
  • Spelling City: AMAZING! I used this site this past year for my kids to practice their word study words. You create an account (it's free) and then each week you put the words on here. I had 4 word study groups, and each group had their own section. The kids could go on and play games and practice their words. Many of the parents commented on how much they loved this site. The site will even give kids a practice test and check it for them. There's no excuse for misspellings if they practice on here all week.
  • Read, Write, Think: Just browse through here. TONS of reading and writing tools.
  • And 3 more sites I love for Graphic Organizers - 1 and 2 and 3!
  • Free Technology For Teachers...if you don't read this guy's blog, it's time for you to start! He shares some great things on here. Many of my favorite sites have come from his blog.
  • Glogster: A free online interactive poster maker. This is a very fun way to engage your students and it's a great tool for them to use to present what they've learned at the end of a unit.
  • Ever need a quick worksheet on a sub day? Or some type of busy work for when Johnny gets sent to the office and they say to send work? GO HERE!!! It is full of free printable worksheets for those times when you need something quickly.
  • Build Your Wild Self: My students loooooove going here. It's great if you're studying animals or just fun if they've earned a free day in the computer lab.
  • Create your own certificates....the title says it all!
  • Classroom Timer and Music: I found last year that my kids would work so much harder if I used this goofy timer and music. No idea why it worked so well, but it did! They especially loved the Indiana Jones music.
  • If you teach 4th or 5th grade in Virginia and you do Virginia Studies for Social Studies, Virginia Trekkers are fabulous!!
  • And this is one for Christmas Time: Make-A-Flake...we love playing around on here during that crazy, hectic, and insane week before Winter Break!
I hope that these will help someone! I am a technology junkie in the classroom and love coming across great new websites. These are just a few of the ones that have made a big difference in my teaching career!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teacher Week: Classroom Tour (Kinda!)

Today for Teacher Week on Abby's Blog (which I am loving, btw!), the theme is Classroom Tours. Unlike a lot of the teacher bloggers out there, we don't start until September 7th, so my room is still a big ol' mess/work in progress.

Since I am switching to 5th grade this year, I also have to switch classrooms. I have now put in close to 15 hours in my new space, but almost all of that time has been dedicated to cleaning out the JUNK (yes, 4 giant trashcans full of it) of the previous teacher in this room. It's been a pain, to say the least, but I'm slowly making progress.

So, instead of a tour of my new classroom, here are some pictures from last year's room when I was in 4th grade. Last year I taught all subjects, but in 5th grade I'm teaming and only teaching math and science. I probably won't have the big reading corner like I did last year.

Here is the place my room is in now. Keep following my blog, because I promise to share the finished product in a few weeks once I've completed it all! Also, you'll notice the Smartboard isn't up yet. However, we've been promised that they'll be up by the end of September. I had one at my old school, but this will be my first time with one at my new school. I've missed it so much!

I have a long way to go! But give me a few weeks and it'll look darling!