Friday, July 20, 2012


I've spent quite a bit of time refreshing my heart and mind for the upcoming school year and the classes of little ones I will be given.  One of the most surprising ways I've done this has been through pinterest. I've spent so much time being inspired by the 'education' boards and I've sifted through pin after pin.  In doing so I've stumbled upon a couple gems and have gained some WONDERFUL ideas and free printables to freshen up my classroom walls and my lesson planning. 

If you look to your right you'll see three new blogs added to my reader:
1)The nesting effect- a blog written by a teacher primarily about home life organization. She has written quite a bit about teaching and her classroom as well.

2) The learning effect- a blog by the same author as "The nesting effect" and is strictly dedicated to her classroom life

3) Pink Pistachio- This is just a fun lifestyle blog. I love the authors transparency, style and lifestyle tips.  I'm especially appreciating her hair suggestions and tutorials as I am determined to grow out and have long hair.

I can't believe the summer is almost over! Somehow my family has managed to keep things really low-key this year. Sadly, we haven't camped in the glorious mountains at all this summer. At first, we just simply wanted to lay low but then wild fires ravaged the area right outside our city late last month, and they continue to blaze all over CO, we are thankful for the simplicity of togetherness at home.

However, we are currently gearing up for a little travel to see family. R's big birthday milestone continues as he, Mountain Man and Grandpa (Mountain Man's Dad) head up to the north woods for some male bonding. MM bought R his first pocket knife which he will present to him on night one in the woods. The three of them will spend several days backpacking and canoeing in the beautiful Northern part of our country. I'm so excited for our little wilderness, animal loving, boy and I'm even a little jealous wishing I could go too. H and I bought him a special journal to draw pictures and write about all his adventures. 

In the meantime H and I will be spending some quality time with Grandma, Aunt, and Cousins . We will bake "Pinkalicious" cupcakes, scrapbook, garden, playing in the sandbox, sprinkler run, shop, go see butterflies, have a teddy bear tea party and watch plenty of princess movies. 

Overall Mountain Man and I are so looking forward to quality family time and a little change of pace.

Once we return it'll be full speed ahead with school countdowns and school supply shopping.

Additionally I'm unbelievably excited about a little something I 'splurged' on.  Its a real treat for someone with my temperament and wanting to have everything 'just so' in my teacher brain. 
That's right it's a teacher planner. But this sucker has EVERYTHING. I teach two grade levels in two different classrooms and am forever carting multiple planning binders, as well as a separate calendar for appointments and meetings. My hope is that with the beefiness of this planner I can leave the binders in my perspective classrooms and just transport this. As many people have reviewed and said in other blogs, this planner is pricey (it starts at $50) but in my situation I feel it will really help keep me on track. Plus the personalization on the cover as well as the 152 pages inside make it worth a shot this year.
I am really anxious to get it in the mail and start digging in. I promise to take photos as the website lacks thorough detail shots and when I image search this planner I only get a handful. 

Thanks for re-capping the past few weeks with me. My present is catching up though and that means laundry and dusting off suitcases. 

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!

Monday, July 9, 2012

R's 8th Birthday

About a month ago Mountain Man and I decided to put together R's first really big birthday party, with friends, party favors, decorations, games and an elaborate cake. We typically keep holidays pretty low key. We tend to not have many people over (just family and close friends who are family) and we keep the the gift wish list small. With it being his 8th birthday this year and little H's 5th we decided that this year we'd go a little 'bigger' on birthday parties.   Since R is now 8, the years of at home simple-themed birthdays are probably starting to fade.

While scrolling through pinterest I saw this tablescape and was given some inspiration.

So with the brilliant minds of my mom and sister to help brainstorm we put our own spin on the theme for our fun-loving son's birthday!

As you can see primary colors were still the plan. I wanted something relatively in-expensive to decorate and also something festive and fun. To the right you can see some old fashioned lollipops. My mom got them for us at the  Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. Each child selected one when they left, and to display them I placed crumbled up tissue paper in a vase and stuffed the lollipops amongst the paper. The effect was a bouquet of candy.

Here is the cake table with R's favorite candy bar to the left. At other strategic places around the living room and kitchen we placed some of R's favorite snacks. Things like, pretzels, watermelon, grapes, carrots, kid sized cans of sprite and cheese puffs.

I found these free printable labels here. Instead of buying a bunch of cheap toys that are either lost or broken within a day I bought all the kids gum balls for their party favors. Also, as I already said, they each picked out a lollipop when they left too.

My sister is a cake genius and duplicated a cake that I found online. As you can see we used the lollipops and the gum balls to tie it all together.

For hanging decorations I bought different patterned scrap paper that coordinated with the colors. I simply cut the paper into pennant triangles and hung it with twine. 

Additionally, right in the middle of the pennant I bought three beach balls from the Dollar Store and hung them together like a mini chandllier. Sorry I didn't catch a picture but this is what it looked like essentially.

Several adults hung around for the party so I decided to not just have kiddie drinks. I made a couple flavored waters and some lemonade. It was the first time I had ever tried making flavored water and it was delicious, I highly recommend it. You can find some great flavor suggestions here.

To keep with the bright summer colors for our theme. The kids all headed out to the back yard for a massive watergun fight and sprinkler running. And then to finish things off we had a pinata waiting in the garage.

It was a really fun summer birthday party for our little man and probably the last one we'll be able to get by with at home and with such a simple theme.

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A more thorough book review

Several months ago I gave you a list of the books I read in 2011. Well I'm re-reading one of them right now.
Don't judge me. 'Count of Monte Cristo' was good... but 1200+ pages in 3 weeks (which was when it was due back at the library)?  I got through about half of it and had to move on. I'll come back to it but I needed to switch things up.

I've told you about 'Bittersweet' before. I've told you it's a book that is WELL WORTH IT. I decided to give it a 2nd try, to verifiably see if I should purchase the book. Plus I was wanting a book with three page chapters full of things to think about and gently fill the space in my mind. I'm going to buy it.

Rather than repeat word for word what I said back in December here are a few excerpts to give you a simple taste of how stinkin' great three page chapters can be. Especially when they are sprinkled with love, reality and humor.

"Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness."

"Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul."

"When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow."

"Pray to be redeemed not rescued."

"Change is not a function of life's cruelty but instead a function of God's graciousness."

"Sometimes the most spiritual things we do are the most physical, the most tactile."

"... That's why travel is so important among other reasons: to get far enough away from our everyday lives to see those lives with new clarity."

Get thee to your library and soak some of this up. Summertime for me is a season of pausing. I need words like this to help in my reflection, they are life giving and grounded in the grace of Christ.  Perhaps you aren't a reader who likes 'mushy'. I'm not either and really do dislike books that say "Girl, wear those heels and strut your stuff!" This book has nothing like that in it anywhere. I truly feel like I'm sitting at a coffee shop with a friend sharing stories about life and what has been learned along the way. You will be surprised at how 'light' the reading is but then you will be equally surprised at how much the words challenge you to think and reflect.

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!