DIY: Pinboard Map

I originally got this idea for tracking our travels as a couple from Young House Love.  I loved their idea of using a map on a bulletin board to pin all of the places we've traveled together. 

To be honest, I really just wanted to buy one on Etsy, but quickly realized that they didn't exist for pre-purchase.  Then I snapped out of it... I didn't need to buy one, I'm more than capable, I can make one!
Once I decided to make my own I searched and searched for a vintage frame to spray paint white, but couldn't find anything that was the right size and right price.  I then remembered a framed bulletin board that I had purchased from Home Good awhile ago.  It wasn't just what I wanted, but it would definitely do the job. 

The frame was initially ivory, with a grayish antique finish, so I had CAhusband paint it with high gloss white spray paint.  I then found the perfect map at allposters.com, and bought some map pins at Office Depot. 
Once I had the 3 things I needed, the final product took no time at all!

Overall, I really love how it turned out.  Organizing and finishing our office is our project around the house for this fall, so it hasn't been hung yet, but I think it will look great.

The one problem is that CAhusband really dislikes that I am only pinning places that we've been together. I admit we don't look very well traveled this way, but I'm not caving.  His argument is that we've both been to New York; therefore, we should pin it, but I disagree.  This map will only represent the places we've traveled together.  I think it will only encourage us to travel more, and can't wait to add more pins together over time. 

What do you think?  Do you have any fun ways to track your travels?

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First Day = Sucess

Well, 1 day down.... 178 to go! 

I'm really only kidding, and promise I haven't started a countdown to next summer quite yet! 
My first day was great, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a great year!

CAhusband was gone when I left for work this morning, so I asked my mom to take my picture before I left.  Talk about feeling like a dork... "Mom, will you take my picture for my first day of school?"  Haha!

There were no major issues, all of my kiddos were there and happy, and I've decided that my itty, bitty class is going to be just perfect!  They are such a fun group of adorable girls, and sweet and spirited boys, and I must say, their new uniforms are about the cutest things I've ever seen.

It was exhausting, as the first day always is, but I still managed to squeeze in a spin class on my way home.

Overall, I'm happy and tired, but thrilled that my first day went so well.

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Last Day of Summer

Although I've been working at school off and on for a few weeks now, tomorrow is my first official day of school with my students.  That would make today my last day of summer... yikes!

Part of me wants to have a big ugly cry because I'm so sad that my summer is over, while part of me is excited to start a new year.  One of my favorite things about teaching is that it allows you to start fresh every single year.   After my summer off, I feel so much better and am ready to tackle a new school year.

I don't think I can adequately express how wonderful this summer has been.  I got so much done, had plenty of time to relax, and nearly completed my summer to-do list.  This great feeling doesn't come without some reservations though, because I've definitely gotten used to my freedom over the summer.  My days of having plenty of time to read, make dinner, hit the gym, and keep the house clean with no stress are over.  I know it will be much harder to fit all of this into my schedule again, but I've done it before and survived... I can do it again!

So here we go....

-I have 2 weeks worth of teacher outfits ironed and hanging in the closet
-My classroom in ready
-My first week is planned

.... ready or not, the school year starts tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

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Teacher Week: Three for Thursday

This Thursday we're each sharing 3 different things: our favorite font, blog, and online resource!

Favorite Font
I'm not going to lie, I'm not big on downloading fonts.  It's not that I don't like fun fonts, it's just not something I've ever put the time into doing.  Due to the fact that I'm in a primary grade, I use Comic Sans a lot, but all of you teacher bloggers out there definitely have me wanting to change my tune.  All of your lessons and units always looks so stinkin' cute!  I've been looking into it, and I think I really love the font Wish I Were Taller from Kevin and Amanda.  If I ever start downloading fonts, that's the one I'll start with!

Favorite Blog
Oh, how do I choose just one?  There are so many wonderful blogs that I've discovered in the last few months, but I'd have to say my favorite is The Inspired Apple by Babbling Abby! 

I also really love....

Favorite Online Resource
I have picked up more ideas from this website than I can count.  If you teach 2nd-4th grade you'll definitely be able to pick up lots of ideas for your classroom from Beth. 

I have also gotten tons of ideas from Pinterest lately!  I never imagined Pinterest would spark so much creativity in my classroom when I joined, but boy was I wrong! 

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Teacher Week: Where It All Goes Down Wednesday

Today is the day that we each showcase our classrooms, which is by far my favorite day of Teacher Week!  I love to check out other classrooms, it's amazing how many wonderful ideas you can find!

We don't start school until next Monday, so my room isn't really finished yet, but it's close enough to share.
My room was just painted on Monday, my permanent teacher desk and media cart for my ELMO aren't in yet, and my Smart Board isn't completely installed.... so it's looking like it won't really be officially ready until much closer to Monday than I'd hoped.  There are still some sparse walls too, but I'm not going to worry about that now... they'll be full of student work and anchor charts in no time! 

First, I want to share a link to my classroom last year.  I absolutely loved how I organized the space, it was a pretty perfect classroom all around. 
Now for this year, be aware.... you are entering a very small classroom for a very small class!  Being that we're a new private school in a tough private school market, my whole class size is similar in size to centers groups in my first classroom.  It will be a growing year, and I'm just fine with that.  I'm just so thankful to still have a job, and am looking forward to being able to accomplish so much with my kiddos!  They are a great group, and I think we'll have so much fun together.

Let's begin our tour (please remember it's not finished)...

I stuck with my dog theme again this year. All of the materials I had held up really well and I liked it so much that I figured there was no point in starting all over again.

  • This is the front wall.  The Smart Board should be finished tomorrow, and I will then have a cart on wheels with my ELMO up here too. 
  • The bulletin board is for calendar, and our TOP DOG of the week. 
  • The storage shelf below is for pencils (sharp and dull containers), turning in work, and other odds and ends.
  • This bulletin board will house our seasonal work.  Our project that we complete on the first day of school will go on this board until October when I will switch it over to Fall/Halloween. 
  • The tall bookshelf houses small sets of books for reading groups, some centers materials, and learning games.
  • The short bookshelves holds extra textbooks, dictionaries, and puzzles and board games for inside recess. 
  • The drawers on top hold additional student supplies (erasers, rulers, glue sticks, etc) that the students can access as needed.
  • My behavior chart on the side is one of me favorite classroom discoveries.  I used it last year, and it was just perfect.  Let me know if you have any questions about my behavior plan or how I use this and I'll be happy to explain it to you.
  • I will use Beth Newingham's Common Themes in Fiction posters again this year, and really love them.  As we read various picture books throughout the year I print off a color copy of the cover, and we add it to the board with the theme it fits best. We then compare books throughout the year with common themes.  Once these posters fill up with book covers it looks really great! 
  • These cabinets are pretty jammed full of supplies, and I'm going to try as hard as I can to keep the counter clean.  The binders house my various reading and math units, and I will keep my teachers guides here as well.
  • These drawers are how I sort my work for the week.  Once I make my copies for the week, I add it to the drawer for the day it will be used. Very simple, and effective!
  • This is my classroom library.  I have all picture books and readers sorted by AR level.  My chapter books in a series are all kept together, but the bin label also notes to overall AR level span for that series.  
  • The small red bookshelf on the far right holds seasonal books.  I will add the books for the current theme or season in the top, then out of season books are kept on the bottom.  I currently have "Back to School" themed books on top, but will change them to fall books in a few weeks. 
I think that's pretty much it for now.  It's a cozy and colorful space, and I think it's going to be just great for my incoming class of second graders.  I might add some more pictures next week once it's completely finished, but wanted to share as much as I could today in honor of Teacher Week!

Now I'm off to check out all of the other posts, maybe I'll get some more last minute ideas!

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Teacher Week: Teacher Talk Tuesday

Today, Teacher Week continues with Teacher Talk Tuesday, where we're all sharing advice for new teachers out there.  I'm not sure I'm really qualified to be giving out advice in this area, given I'm still the youngest and newest teacher at my school each year, but there are definitely some things I wish I'd known for my first year.

I love how Rachel organized hers, so I too am going to share 5 things I wish I had known during my first year of teaching...

1.  SPELL CHECK EVERYTHING A MILLION TIMES: I know this seems like common sense, but twice throughout my first year of teaching I sent notes home with students that had typos.  I was sure they were perfect, but they weren't.  One mother even sent it back into the classroom with my typo corrected, I wanted to die!  They were both pretty small typos that I'm sure 75% of the parents missed, but I was still mortified.  Teachers can't send notes home with typos in them, it just makes you look bad.  I'm sure I might have let a few slip between now and then, but there is nothing that made me cringe more during that first year. 

2. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP: Who was I kidding?  I had no clue what I was doing when I got my first job 72 hours before school started, but I sure faked it well.  The problem was that I wanted to come across like I knew what I was doing so much that I didn't ask for help.  I had a great staff of teachers at my disposal that would have been more than willing to help me, but I wanted to act that I had it all together, so I didn't.  About half way through the year, I got over this and started utilizing my 3rd grade team more, but my life could have been so much easier if I had just asked for and accepted everyone's help early on. 

3. BE STRICT: I know this sounds harsh, but as a blonde, 22 year old 3rd grade teacher, the parents and kids walked right into my room thinking I was just going to be "just the sweetest thing."  I loved the fact that they liked me so much that I let them (mainly the parents) walk right over me.  As the year went on, I realized what I'd let happen and instantly tried to put up a stronger front, but it was too late.  The parents and the kids didn't quite like the stronger and stricter young teacher nearly as much, and I had myself to blame.  You can be nice, but I was too nice.  Teachers need to be strict at times to have a successful classroom.  I've learned since that it's much easier to start super strict, and loosen up, than the other way around.

4. STAY AS ORGANIZED AS POSSIBLE: I'm sure everyone participating in Teacher Week will offer this exact same advice today, but it's because it's true!  Being a teacher comes with LOTS of paperwork, record keeping, etc. and if it's not organized you'll quickly be buried behind your desk!   Having a system in place for how you want to keep things organized before school starts makes a huge difference.  Also, as a young teacher if you're lucky enough to be able to teach the same grade 2 years in a row, it will make your life so much easier the second time around.

5.  RELAX, IT GETS EASIER: Teaching is a draining and exhausting job, especially those first few months, but it does get easier.  I came home really late, and crying nearly every day my first month of teaching.  My to-do list was never ending, it took me hours and hours to plan what I was going to teach, and I started to feel extremely defeated.  I didn't think I could do it, and was constantly stressed to the max.  Then, all of  a sudden though I found my groove, and it suddenly wasn't impossible anymore.  I knew my abilities, I knew my students better, and I knew I could teach.  Although I don't think there's anything that can take away that first month or two of extreme uncertainty in what you're doing, I promise it get better.  Once it gets better, it becomes so much fun!

Also remember, Diet Coke is your friend, and a fully stocked supply of chocolate in your room will help you become fast friends with the rest of the staff! 

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Teacher Week: Meet the Teacher Monday

This week I'm foregoing my usual blogging to participate in Teacher Week, which is hosted by some of my favorite teacher bloggers over at Blog Hoppin'.  Although I'm not a teacher blogger, I'm a blogger who teaches, so I thought it would be fun to play along.  I really enjoyed participating in Teacher Week last year, and am really looking forward to reading the posts from all of you fellow teachers out there!

*If you're not a teacher, I promise I've got a week full of non-teacher related posts coming next week! : )

Today is Meet the Teacher Monday, and even if you aren't a teacher, this might help you to get to know me a little better.

I couldn't find any teacher pictures of myself without students in them, of course! 

Random Facts About CAwife:
  • I was born and raised in Indiana, and attended Purdue University. 
  • My husband and I have known each other for what seems like forever, and were even in the same fourth grade class.  We've been together ever since our freshman year of high school.
  • I am obsessed with carbs, and could make a meal of pasta, bread and potatoes any day of the week.
  • I love to read, and enjoy a little bit of everything!
  • I am already building a hardback picture book library for our future children.  I keep them at school so I don't scare my husband, and I don't let my students read them. (This totally makes me sound crazy).
  • I would give almost anything to be able to take my dogs to school with me.  They're crazy, so it would likely end in disaster, but I think they would be awesome classroom pets.
  • Although I enjoy life in CA, I can't wait to move someday.  With my parents moving away from our area, our closest relatives will now be in Indiana.  I can tolerate living far away from family for now, but am already scheming about ways I can get CAhusband to move further east eventually. 
Here is the rundown of my teaching history:

I did my student teaching in Kindergarten, and then taught 3rd grade in Indiana right out of college while CAhusband (then Indiana fiance) finished up his degree at Purdue.

We got married and moved to California the summer after my first year of teaching.  The job search was fruitless my first year out here, and I ended up subbing and working at J.Crew to stay busy.  In case you haven't heard, the teaching job situation out here in CA was/is abysmal.

Luckily, I met my friend Amy who worked at a private school in the area that fall.   She helped me land a part-time job at her school that spring, which turned into a full time 2nd grade job the following year. 
I taught 2nd grade at that private school last year, and had a wonderful year.  It was my first year teaching at a private school, and I loved that I still had access to a similar curriculum as public schools and a very small class size.  I won't say it was challenging at times, but it was a great experience.  At the end of last year; however, the church associated with our school decided to shut it down. This was due largely to the fact that the economy hit the private school market pretty hard, and this was putting a financial burden on the church. 

This year, I am going to teach 2nd grade again.  I will teach with the same curriculum, and mostly the same staff and families, just at a new school.  Basically, another church in the area was interested in expanding their current preschool and kindergarten, and worked with our staff and parents to add our grades 1-5 to their existing school.  I was asked to stay on as the 2nd grade teacher, and was so relieved to not have to begin my job search AGAIN! 

I think it will be a great opportunity to start a new school, and I'm really excited to get the year started.  For the first time, I will get to teach from the same curriculum for the second time.  I will obviously implement lots of changes, but it's so nice to be familiar with what I'll teaching this year.
Aside from teaching, I love to spend time with my husband and our 2 boxers, Piper and Reilly.  I love crafty projects, am trying to learn to cook, and have a serious shopping problem habit.

I'll be back tomorrow for the next installment of Teacher Week, Teacher Talk Tuesday!

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5 Friday Favorites

Here are 5 of my favorite things this Friday...

1. Tracey and Dylan are Engaged!
Two of my favorite people finally got engaged, and I am over the moon!  I have been waiting for this engagement for awhile now, and am thrilled that I have a wedding that I get to add to my calendar for next summer already.  Tracey and Dylan make the perfect couple, and I'm so incredibly happy for them both. 

2. Boggle for iPad
This is my new game obsession!  I've always loved word games and the original Boggle, but right now I can't stop playing Boggle for iPad.  I'm not sure how CAhusband will feel about me taking the iPad to school, but I'd love to teach my second graders how to play.  I think they'd love it!

3.  Mom is Moving In!
As I've mentioned before, my parents are moving.  My dad has already moved, and my mom is staying here through the end of September.  Well, it has been hectic sorting it all out, but she has to be out of their house this weekend, which means she's moving in with us tonight!  Some people might not be so thrilled about their mom moving in, but I can't wait!!  I'm really looking forward to getting in some more quality time with her.

4. Bachelor Pad
Oh my, I'm embarrassed to admit how much I'm entertained by this show.  The rose ceremony with Jackie and Ames this week was beyond perfect, and the overall drama is intense and ridiculous all at the same time.  One thing I'm sure of... I hate Vienna and SHE. MUST. GO!

5. House Rules by Jodi Picoult
 House Rules tells the story of Jacob Hunt, a high school senior with Asperger's who is fascinated with forensic science.  When Jacob's tutor is murdered, his inappropriate affect and obsession with the crime ends up looking an awful lot like guilt to law enforcement officials. 

I tend to space out my Jodi Picoult books, because although they're great stories, they also tend to leave you a little depressed afterwards.  I hadn't read one in over a year though, so I decided to take House Rules on our family vacation last week.  I instantly fell is love with the story, and couldn't put it down.  I highly recommend this book!

What are your favorite things this Friday?

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Guest Posting Over at SCOUT!

When one of my favorite bloggers, Melanie, from Scout asked me to do a guest post for her while she is away this week I was thrilled.  I absolutely love her style, and was so flattered when she asked me to share.

Today I am sharing my 5 dream items for fall over at her blog, so stop on by and check it out! 

I'd love to hear what items you're dying to add to your closet as the temps begin to drop.

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Lust/Must Missoni Flats

Must: Missoni for Target Ballet Flats, Target (available Sept. 13)

Ever since Natalie posted about the lust-worth Missoni flats above, I've been in love with them!  I think they'd be a perfect addition to any closet, but the price... not. so. much.  I absolutely love the new option that Missoni has recently unveiled for their upcoming Target line, and can't wait to snatch them up.  I'll definitely be waking up early on September 13th to buy these babies.

Are you looking forward to the Missoni for Target line? 
I'm not so sure I can pull off most of the pieces, but these shoes are a definite must.

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Erin Condren Life Planner Link Up

Unless you've been absent from the blogosphere lately, you know all about everyone's recent love for Erin Condren and all of her colorful paper products.  After receiving mine a few weeks ago, I've decided that her Life Planners are my new favorite must have!

Erin's Life Planners are adorable, well made, and perfect for organizing everything!  When Meredith decided to do a link-up so that we could all share our new planners, the school supply loving, planner obsessed, teacher in me couldn't resist participating. 

I ordered the Zig Zag in Multi, and love how it turned out. 
I love all of the colors, and am a sucker for the chevron trend. 

I got Paper Mate Flair felt-tip pens at Target to use in my planner, and am really happy with them. 
They make my handwriting look nice, the colors coordinate well with the pages, and they don't bleed through!

I've chosen to color coordinate my pens for different things...

Pink: Everyday Things
Blue: School
Orange: Gym/Exercise
Green: Blog

I love how this planner is divided!  There is one monthly overview page at the beginning of each month where I put big dates and important things to remember. 

One of my favorite things is that each of the month-at-a-view pages has a tab.  The tabs are great, and make using the planner even easier.

Behind each monthly divider is a week-at-a-view page.  I really like how it's broken into Morning, Day, and Night, and there is plenty of space to write.  My weekly pages are pretty sparse right now being on summer vacation and all, but I have no doubt they'll fill up quickly once school starts.

Lastly, there's this fabulous pocket in the back!  It came filled with surprise goodies from Erin, including personalized stickers and labels.  This is the perfect place to keep my "special" planner pens, stamps, and other odds and ends I want to keep at hand.

Overall, I'm in love with my Life Planner!  It was a great purchase, and I highly recommend it if you're in the market for a new planner or want to get more organized. 

If you have a Life Planner, don't forget to head over to Meredith's blog to link-up with how you use your fabulous new planner! 

Do you have a Life Planner, which one did you get?  Do you love it as much as I love mine?

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Happy 50th Birthday Mom & The Help Movie Review

Today (Sunday) is my mom's 50th birthday! 

My dad had to move for his new job already, so he wasn't here to help her celebrate, which made me even more thankful that I was close by the spend the day with her.

My mom and I have always been close, but living so close to each other again over these last 2 year has made us even closer.  I can truly say my mom is my best friend out here in the desert, and I don't know what I'd do without her.  My mom cares so much for other people, and would do anything to help you without even batting an eye.  She also happens to be one of the strongest women I know, while also being loads of fun. 
I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to spend the day with my beautiful mom.  Although I know she will have another celebration once she moves to Virginia and meets my dad, I feel so lucky to have been able to have a day with her. 

Today we went to see The Help, and then got together with some family friends for a celebratory Italian feast at their house. It was a great little day together!

The Help is definitely one of my top 10 favorite books, and my mom loved it too, so it was perfect that we got to see it together on her birthday.  Movie versions of books typically tend to disappoint, and although I was so excited to see the movie, I was also hesitant that the emotional impact of the story might be lost.  The previews of the movie looked so fun, and I was a little nervous that they maybe left out some of the substance.

I'm happy to report that we both absolutely loved everything about this movie.  The casting was perfect, the story was spot-on, and I definitely want to see it again.  If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend you do (only if you've already read the book first, of course).

Did you see The Help this weekend?  What did you think?

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