Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Let Me Hold You Longer

Bedtime stories were read...night time prayers were said.  The princess had been tucked in.  While sitting beside her, in her sweet voice Hallie said, "Mommy?  Will you hold me like a baby?"  I melted.  My answer was "of course".  Then another question..."Mommy?  Will you sing me a song?"  So I began singing the very simple and sweet lullaby I wrote for her when she was just a tiny thing and I was rocking her to sleep.

My beautiful girl, you are my world.
I love you so completely.
Those fingers and toes--oh Heaven knows...I love you so completely.
You are mine.  And I am yours.
My beautiful girl, you are my world. 

As I sang my heart to her, she drifted into her little land of dreams.  Tears prickled my eyes as I realized I couldn't remember the last time I had actually sang and rocked my little girl to sleep.  I was sitting on the bed, holding arms were going numb and my back was aching.  But I just wanted to hold her a little longer.

Then I was reminded of the sweetest book my cousin Stephanie gave me at a baby shower for Hallie--Let Me Hold You Longer by Karen Kingsbury.  It is a precious book...and a wonderful reminder that before I know it, I won't even be able to hold my little girl in my lap.  The book is written from a mother's view point.  It is actually of her and her son...but so much of it is still applicable.  

Let Me Hold You Longer

Long ago you came to me, a miracle of firsts; first smiles and teeth and baby steps, a sunbeam on the burst.  But one day you will move way and leave me to your past, and I will be left thinking of a lifetime of your lasts...
The last time that I held a bottle to your baby lips.  The last time I lifted you and held you on my hip.
The last night when you woke up crying, needing to be walked, when last you crawled up with your blanket, wanting to be rocked.
The last time when you ran to me, still small enough to hold.  The last time that you said you'd marry me (Daddy) when you grew old.  Precious, simple moments and bright flashes from your past--would I have held on longer if I'd known they were your last?
One last adventure to the park, your final midday nap, the last time when you wore your favorite faded baseball cap.
The last few hours of kindergarten, those last days of first grade, your last at bat in Little League, last colored picture made.
I never said good-bye to all your yesterdays long passed.  So what about tomorrow--will I recognize your lasts?
The last time that you catch a frog in that old backyard pond.  The last time that you run barefoot across our fresh-cut lawn.  Silly, scattered images will represent your past.  I keep on taking pictures, never quite sure of your lasts...
The last time that I comb your hair or stop a pillow fight.  The last time that I pray with you and tuck you in at night.  The last time when we cuddle with a book, just me and you.  The last time you jump in our bed and sleep between us two.
The last piano lesson, last vacation to the lake.  Your last few weeks of middle school, last soccer goal you make.  I look ahead and dream of days that haven't come to pass.  But as I do, I sometimes miss today's sweet, precious lasts...
The last time that I help you with a math or spelling test.
The last time when I shout that yes, your room is still a mess.  The last time that you need me for a ride from here to there.  The last time that you spend the night with your old tattered bear.
My life keeps moving faster, stealing precious days that pass.  I want to hold on longer--want to recognize your lasts...
The last time that you need my help with details of a dance.  The last time that you ask me for advice about romance.
The last time that you talk to me about your hopes and dreams.  The last time that you wear a jersey for your high school team.  
I've watched you grow and barely noticed seasons as they pass.  If I could freeze the hands of time, I'd hold on to your lasts.
For come some bright fall morning, you'll be going far away.  College life will beckon in a brilliant sort of way.  One last hug, one last good-bye, one quick and hurried kiss.  One last time to understand just how much you'll be missed.  I'll watch you leave and think how fast our time together passed.
Let me hold on longer, God, to every precious last.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Well...I did it.  I survived my first week in the first grade.  And besides a few little glitches, it was wonderful!  I absolutely love my little firsties.  They are UH-DORABLE!  Seriously.  I can't stay mad at them for too long because they are so stinking cute.  And boy do I have a smart group!  A little too smart, maybe. :o)  Of course, everything is review for the first couple of weeks, but it's definitely encouraging that they have retained so much of the information they learned from kindergarten!  Several of them even remembered how to use tally marks!  That made me smile!  During calendar time one day, I told them that  I had a secret for them...I told them that I thought I liked first grade *WAY* more than third grade, but not to tell anyone.  Well, those of you who know first graders know to never say "don't tell anyone".  Right after calendar time, they had music class...and Mrs. Locke (the music teacher) was the first person they told.  And I'm sure she's not the last!  Too cute!  Now, I have no delusions that first grade will always be a barrel of laughs and fun; but I really do think I'm going to enjoy it!  First week--success!

Now, Hallie has been having a little trouble adjusting to Mommy being back in school.  She so desperately wants to be at school with me.  But I'm not going to pay *more* money for her to be in a room full of 4 year olds (by room full, I mean 22) for 1/2 a day with a teacher and then 1/2 a day with an aid than I pay for her to be in a room of 16 with a full day teacher.  No thanks.  Next year we're seriously thinking about her coming to my school.  I think she'd love it...and I know the teachers are fabulous!  For now, she's very sad for much of the day...and that breaks my heart.  I'm sure she'll adjust...and she does love school.  It's just hard for her right now.  But I know that her second year of Pre-K and my first year in first will be over before we know it!  Goodness...let me savor every single day of her being little...even if it makes my hairs gray!  LOL!

Hallie got a "Nonna-Pop Treat" for completing her first week of Pre-K!  Don't you love her get-up?!  HA!  Too bad she's not standing so you could get the full effect. :o)  She's such a mess!

Hallie's first homework project--create a paper Hallie!  We had so much fun doing this!  Her teacher traced all the students' bodies and then they took them home to decorate them.  I wish I'd have taken a picture of all the little paper littles hanging outside their classroom door!

Hard at work.  Mommy and Daddy helped very little creatively--we did the hot-gluing and some of the cutting.  The rest of it was Hallie's idea.  I suggested the fabric shirt.  But she said she needed yarn for her hair. :o)

Ack!  I can't tell which one is the real Hallie!

Can you see the face she drew?  The brown eyes with eyelashes?  And a tiny smile with rosy cheeks.  lol.

And every afternoon Hallie gets to come to Mommy's school.  She always finds something to get into.  And I'm going to be honest.  I spend probably an hour (out of the 2 or so I stay after school) chasing her down.  Thankfully our school is fenced in, so I know she can't go too far...but goodness...she's not old enough to want to roam around all by her lonesome!

And a goody basket for Mommy! (Picture taken by Hallie with my iPhone!)  Oh, I have *the* sweetest momma in the whole-wide-world!  Seriously.  She did the curtains in my classroom, she helped stock up my first grade room, and she has given me countless pieces of first grade wisdom.  And now a basket filled with goodies.  And I mean goodies--Kit Kats, Butterfingers, chips, Fiji water (since J does PR for the city water department, I never get bottled water anymore--lol), gum, fruit!  Delish!  My sweet momma has sent me a goody basket the first day of school since I started teaching. :o)

This weekend has been wonderfully relaxing!  But momentarily I'm going to have to shift gears and get ready for Week 2 with my firsties! :o)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


After many weeks...many long hours of working this week (in-service week, no less...meetings from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm and then working on my classroom until 8:00 pm) classroom is *almost* completely ready. :o)  There are still a few things here and there that I need to work on, but it is *just fine* for tomorrow's Meet the Teacher night.  Hopefully our meetings tomorrow won't last until 4:00 since our Meet the Teacher starts at 4:30...I still need to put papers out on students' desks and sharpen a few pencils. :o)

Come on in and take a peek...

In the foyer outside my classroom (Room 1)--each grade level is in a separate building, and we all have a huge foyer among four classes.  It is *wonderful*!

Pop into First Grade!!

View of my classroom as you walk in the door...

To the right, just as you walk in, I have pails for "Runaway Crayons" and "Runaway Markers".  I can't claim this idea as my own...though I can claim it as "Man, why didn't I think of that"! :o)  I found this super cute idea at Flipping for First Grade.

View from my small group table.

Learner Profile bulletin board.  We are an International Baccalaureate school, so we have to have a lot of things on our walls.  This is one of them--students will share when they see someone showing an attribute of the Learner Profile and we'll write it on a little slip of paper and put it on their clothespin.  I'll either write their name or put a small picture of each student on a clothespin. :o)

 Close up of the board.  Hallie walked in the day I completed this and said, "Mommy!  I just LOVE your sunshine!" :o)  Now that I have her approval, I'm feeling pretty good. 

Reading Station
(I absolutely must remember to nail the back onto the little mailbox system!)

View from the math corner...

Problem Solving Strategy--I have used this visual since teaching for Northside ISD in San Antonio, TX.  It is an excellent way to get students to slow down.  I've tweaked it slightly, but overall, the process is the same.
*RR--Read the problem two times
Oops...I have them out of  The ? should be next.
*?--Underline the question
*Circled F--Circle the facts...we talk about circling information that will help us answer the question.
(In NISD, we also crossed out extra information...I don't put that visual b/c I learned that kids would just scribble on their word problems which drove me nuts!)
A key with + - x and division symbol--What is the key action?  What action will we use to solve our problem?
#S--Number sentence...write a number sentence that will solve the problem
Light Bulb--Think about it...Does your answer make sense?  Does it answer the question?
I know first graders won't totally understand this concept, but if I can get the vocabulary in their brains, then when they go to second and third grade, I hope problem solving will be much easier for them!

Calendar!  I am *so* excited about Calendar time!
*Dress for the Weather
*Weather graph
*What do you say, dear?--This will be like classroom news.  I'll choose two or three kids each day to share a sentence.  This will be a visual of writing a good sentence with puncuation (including quotation marks).  For example, Hallie said, "I was so excited about coming to first grade!"  My mom did this when she taught first grade, and her students loved it!

Calendar--I'm going to make little signs that say "last month, this month, next month" and talk about sequencing.  You can almost see it in an above picture--I have the same months in sequence above the calendar.

Our math calendar station.  I am not quite sure what I'm going to put on the rest of this board.  Suggestions?
We'll practice our Key Concepts, Money (in the pink pocket chart) correlating to the Number of the Day, Even and Odd, and place value.

Closet Doors--Key Concepts (part of IB) and my Helper chart.  I don't have my jobs listed yet.  I think I might talk with the students about what types of jobs would be helpful in our classroom.

Behavior Chart.  Students will begin on lime green (looks more yellow to me).  For exceptional behavior, they'll get to move up to pink.  After a warning, students will move to "This is my last warning"--orange.  Then to blue...a partial loss of privilege and a note home.  Yellow will result in a loss of privilege and/or an office visit. Students who stay on green will get a hole punch in their punch card.  If they move to pink, they'll get a hole punch and an immediate treat.  Any student who has 5 hole punches will get to go to the treasure box on Friday. :o)  Eek--just realized I haven't added my clips!  Oops!
**If you like this, you can get a free download HERE at Life in First Grade's blog.

Another view of my classroom.

Word Wall and Life Cycle posters.  I'm quite annoyed that the frog poster is lower than the others.  It fell down and I had to quickly put it up today.  And now I can't get it off b/c I put it up with hot glue (shh, don't tell).  The others are up with either Carpet Tape (amazing!) or Glue Dots (Zots--also amazing!).  I haven't decided how I'm hanging the Word Wall Words...probably on ribbons.

Right side of Word Wall with Scientific Process posters--one of our planners (part of our IB program) is on the scientific process.

The front of my classroom.  Can you see that *fabulous* media cart in the center of my room.  Can you just say LOVE IT?!  Well, I can...and I do love it!  It's from Lakeshore and absolutely, wonderfully, twelve kinds of perfect!

And there you have it.  My first grade classroom all ready for my very first group of Firsties!  One of the blogs I read calls her first graders "Firsties" and I've decided I'm going to adopt that phrase as my own.  I am NOT a fan of the term "kiddos".  I don't know why, but I detest it.  Hate the way it sounds.  Yes, I'm a teacher and recognize all on my own that it's weird.  I prefer students, kids, and now Firsties. :o)  There's going to be a whole lotta learning going on in this classroom!  I can't wait for my year to get started!  I meet some of my sweet Firsties tomorrow night!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our little STAR!

 It's back to school time at our house!  I have been super busy getting my classroom in order, and Hallie started Pre-K today!  She is at the same school as last year, and she is SO excited about her new teacher and "new school".  The elementary school joined the middle and high school in their building, so now everyone is a family again.  She is thrilled to be going to the same school as the big kids (though it really isn't the same school).  Last night, Hallie and I picked out her first day outfit.  Actually, she picked it out.  I thought it was cute, so I went with it.  Anything to avoid a morning meltdown as no one in our family is a morning person. :o)  Today was a half day, so I picked her up and took her to Mrs. Becky's house so she could spend the day with Becky and Audrey.  So thankful for Mrs. Becky!

We are looking forward to a super school year for Hallie!  Today her owl has stayed "wise in the tree". :o)  Evidently, if they make bad choices, their owl gets moved down.  She doesn't want her owl in the grass!  Ha! Hallie loves school, and I'm so thankful for TCA because not only is it preparing her academically, but it's preparing her heart to love Jesus big!

Here's our big girl heading to her classroom!

She doesn't even need us! :o)

Ready to go in!

Hallie's class at circle time. :o)

Hallie and her new teacher, Mrs. Beaudin. :o)  
Hallie had a GREAT first day of school!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Faith of a Child

This is the face of a little girl who believes...believes that God answers our prayers.  She experienced that first hand this afternoon.  And I'm not sure who was blessed more--Hallie or me!

On the way home from school (yes, I was at school today working in my classroom), there were lots of gray clouds in the sky.  As I've mentioned before, it hasn't rained a good shower in a while here.  I said to Hallie, "Look at those clouds!  Why don't we pray that God would make it rain because it hasn't rained in a long time!"  She excitedly cheered, "Yeah!  OK!"  Here's her sweet, little prayer:

"Dear-a God...please let it rain.  Please let it rain so the flowers can grow.  Thank you.  Amen."  

And while she was praying, I silently prayed that God would listen to her and let it rain so that she could see first-hand that God does, in fact, answer our prayers.  We have had big, heavy clouds recently, and they produced nothing but a little relief from the blazing sun.  I'm the one who doubted it would rain...not Hallie.  So about 10-15 minutes later when we saw drops of wet stuff on the windsheild, I was the one who was surprised.  Not Hallie...she was *thrilled*!   I mean, she was beyond excited.  After a couple of raindrops, I figured it would stop.  Again, I silently prayed that it would pour rain.  By the time we pulled into the garage, it was pouring rain!  Hallie couldn't contain her excitement.  When she got out of the car, she exclaimed (and I really mean exclaimed), "Mommy!  God hear-ed me!  He understood me!!"  She ran inside as fast as she could to tell Jonathan that God listened to her prayer.

For the 20 minute rain shower, we all stood outside and simply watched it rain (well, Hallie went inside and put her swimsuit on to enjoy the summer shower)...thanking God for the rain, and thanking Him for answering our prayers.  I was blessed today by the faith of a child.  And I was blessed by her excitement of recognizing that God heard her prayer.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


While working in my classroom yesterday, we got a wonderful visit (and much needed break from cutting out lamination!) from two sweet friends--Mrs. Becky and Baby Audrey!  We've all been out of town this summer, so this is the first time we've seen them since the end of the school year (Becky and I taught 3rd grade together, but she'll be staying home with Audrey this year!). We both commented on how both girls have grown in just a couple of months.  And of course, Hallie had to hold Baby Audrey. :o)  Aren't these two the cutest?!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Work in Progress Take 2

Yesterday's sedation experience left me feeling...well, nauseated.  Extremely.  So much so that I was certain I would throw up about every 30 minutes.  I was also certain that if I would just throw up, I'd feel twelve kinds of better!

I couldn't go to sleep last night because I was thinking about all the things I didn't get to do in my classroom while I slept August 10th away.  So when I finally went to bed around 1 am, I just lay there awake...thinking...for almost two hours.  After blocking out my sweet Hubs's snoring, I dozed off.  Probably 30 minutes later, I awoke with a start to a little face staring at me.  She scared the snot outta me!  I guess she had had another bad dream...I didn't even question her when she crawled up into bed with us...again.  Bad dreams--that's what's been going on here lately.  Sigh.  So when I got comfy again, I had to drown out two little snorers.  Geez.  I think it was 5 am when I finally fell asleep...only to hear "Clocky"--Jonathan's *obnoxious* alarm clock.  Didn't I say I was going to throw that thing out a window?  Dang it.  All our windows are sealed shut.

Anyway.  Hallie and I laid around most of the morning.  I wasn't feeling well, so I wasn't in any hurry to get to school to work in my classroom.  She and I met my sweet mother-in-law for lunch around noon, and then she graciously took Hallie with her to school (she's also a teacher).  She teaches 4th grade, so there isn't quite as many manipulatives for Hallie to get into in her classroom.  I was *very* thankful to her for taking Hallie, and Hallie had a ball!  I got so much accomplished in my classroom today...I'm very proud.  I still don't have anything on my bulletin boards (except for the calendar wall, and it isn't complete yet) because I'm just not sure of what I'm going to put where.  I have to put my PYP stuff somewhere, so that'll take up a lot of space. Then my helper chart--which is much bigger than I enjoy.  And since my lovely alphabet is MIA, I suppose I'll go buy a new one tomorrow.  And then I'm certain to find the missing alphabet.  Oh brother.

Look *HERE* to see what it looked like before today.  And here's what I got accomplished today:

 The calendar area...slowly coming together.  I'm thinking of doing a number of the day.  I'm not sure.  Being a third grade teacher for 9 years, I'm having a hard time switching gears.  If you have any ideas for my calendar time, let me know!!  Thanks!

The real star of my classroom. :o)  lol
This is after RahRah dropped her off from spending the afternoon at her school.
Star Student!

This will be the math station.  The bulletin boards above the windows will be my word wall...they are supposed to be replaced before school starts; that isn't looking hopeful.  I think I'll put our daily schedule with clocks on the blue bulletin board.

Reading Station--not sure what to put on the bulletin board.  The blue one will have our Essential Agreement...I think.  

The Partner Reading Station.  I added the Big Books Station to the side of this, and the little cubbies.  I'm going to put a white board, a dry erase marker, and an eraser in each cubby for every student.                                                                   

 My Listening Station.  I need to add some pillows or something.  But this is the only space (with plug access) I had for it.  I love my new Lakeshore box. :o)  The drawer system holds all the books/CDs.

And because I want to keep it real...this is hiding behind my filing cabinet and desk.  After cleaning everything out, I had ALL these baskets and surge protectors (I don't know if you can see those, but they're under there)!  Now I don't know what to do with them. :o)

Maybe you can't tell a difference...but I can.  I think it's all going to come together.  Hopefully!  I'll work tomorrow and then Monday is a work day.  Now...I'm going to head off and cut out all that laminated stuff that didn't cut itself out yesterday while I was sleeping. :o)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Picture It...

I spent almost an hour yesterday laminating about 15 file folder games and laminating my little alphabet people because I thought maybe I'd have a minute to cut them out today after the dentist since I couldn't go anywhere for 24 hours.

Here's the story of my day:

(This is not an actual picture of the medicine I took this morning.)
Took this at 8:30, I was feeling a little woozy.  

Then we got into the car and headed to Dr. Locke's office.

Once there, I was taken straight back by a very sweet nurse.  She put me in the chair, laid the chair back and then she covered me with a lovely, white hospital-grade blanket.  Haha.  Then came the following:

Blood pressure/heart rate monitor
(Not actual picture from office.)

Goggles--Eye and Full Face Sheild--only mine were pink :o)

Ah...the "laughing gas" mask (not the actual picture).  First it flowed with beautifully clean Oxygen.  Five minutes later, I couldn't feel my body.  It was flowing with lovely Nitrous Oxide.  The.  Entire.  Time.  I remember telling her about going to the dentist when I was little...the dentist called it the "Mickey Mouse Nose".  And it clicked each time I breathed in or out.  I loved that.  At least, that was the story I was trying to tell her.  Who knows if that's what I actually said to her before I told her "good night".  Haha.

Then that same sweet nurse placed these headphones on me.  From them flowed lovely classical music.  She turned lights off and left.  But, not before crushing up one more Lorazepam and putting it under my tongue.

**After I had all the above "attached" to me, I remember saying to the nurse: This would make a great Facebook profile picture."**  LOL.

In came Dr. Locke to check on me.  He told me I was doing great...and that's about all I remember.  I was feeling pretty good.  I was in and out of sleep.  I remember fighting it and thinking "this is what Hallie does every single night when she's totally exhasuted"!  haha.  I remember giving in b/c I thought "when else am I going to get to sleep *this* well?!"  But even though I was "out of it", I wasn't unconscious.  I heard Dr. Locke and the nurse talking.  I remember him giving me the shots to numb the areas where he'd be working.  But I also remember not having a care in the world that he was doing this.  I also remember thinking "this is how they should get terrorists to talk" b/c I would have answered any and all questions with pure honesty b/c I didn't care. lol.  I remember wondering how they were keeping my mouth open b/c at the time I wasn't even sure I had a mouth.  But then I realized that there was some type of little prop that held my mouth open.

Dr. Locke worked least I guess he did. :o)  At one point, I remember feeling a little pain when he began working on my root canal.  I also remember *trying* to ask what happened to the laughing gas.  Because my once-completely-relaxed body was beginning to tense just a little bit.  He checked it and said he didn't realize it was off.  About 10 seconds later, I was happy again. :o)  And the drills.  Oh, how I hate the sound of the drills.  But you know what...I heard them...and I closed my eyes and went to sleep. :o)

When I was done, Dr. Locke told me I did a wonderful job...there was some talk about other teeth and different work I need done with the nurse...but I don't have a clue what it all was.  Then I was given two Tylenol and two Advil and a bottle of Gatorade (with a straw).  I had some great difficulty trying to take those four pills...and drinking from a straw.  But with lots of fumbling, and laughing, I eventually got them swallowed.  I drank the Gatorade with great pleasure, not realizing how thirsty I actually was.  At some point, Jonathan was called.  An intern with TSTC came in with a wheelchair and whisked me to the front door...backwards, actually.  I remember saying thank you...and I don't remember much after that.  Evidently, Jonathan drove me home and I went to bed.  I do remember asking the time--12:00 pm.  I had been there 3.5 hours.

The next thing I know, I'm waking up at 7:15 pm.  Wow.  I stumbled into the kitchen and saw the Gatorade bottle sitting there from earlier...there was *maybe* a sip left in it!  I had no idea I had drank the entire bottle. Jonathan brought me two Tylenol and two Advil (doctor's instructions) and something to drink.  I managed to eat some supper...but not without accidentally using the tooth that had a root canal.  Talk about PAIN!  Thankfully the meds started kicking in, and along with an ice pack, I was starting to feel OK.  Let's just say the rest of my meal was eaten with extreme caution!

To our surprise, Dr. Locke called to check on me around 8:30.  He is a super nice guy (and the husband to our super sweet music teacher at my school!), and he has wonderful "dentist-chair-side manners"!  His staff is exceptional, and I don't think I will ever visit another dentist office.  My fear of the dentist, however irrational, isn't completely gone.  But he and his staff totally understand that.  And they do everything possible to make your dental experience a pleasurable one.  Hmm...the dentist pleasurable?  I never thought that phrase would come from my mouth!

Today's experience--very pleasurable.  There, I said it.  And I really mean it!

If you have a fear (irrational or justified) of the dentist, and you live in the Waco area, I *highly* recommend Dr. Corbet Locke.  If you don't live near here...I *highly* recommend sedation dentistry.  Click *HERE* to read about it on Dr. Locke's website.  You can also read testimonials about it on Dr. Locke's website.  Maybe I'll be the next testimonial!  Ha!  I'm kidding. LOL.

Oh...and that first picture?  Yeah...that was taken about 20 minutes ago. Obviously since I slept *all* day, I didn't cut out any of the laminated goods.  Oh well. :o)