I wonder if I could take a sabbatical?

I used to make resolutions for the new year when I was younger because I thought that was the thing to do. I don't remember what they were (get a boyfriend!) or if I kept any of them.

Nowadays, I feel like the New Year starts in September with the return to school. Except on the eve of that new year, I'm not counting down to midnight and celebrating. More like.... going to bed at nine o'clock and crying about it (kidding! Kind of...).

This year for the first time in many, I have quite a few resolutions or, as I should call them: "things-that-I'd-ideally-like-to-accomplish."

They include but are not limited to:

*write more of that novel thingy I started
*use my sewing machine in more daring ways (buttons, and zippers, oh my!)
*keep better track of my etsy business dealings (have I made a profit yet? Who knows?!)
*make more items for my etsy store
*read more great novels (recommendations anyone?)
*volunteer somewhere local over the summer
*take an art class of some kind, just for fun!

But do you see the problem here? The one little thing that might prevent me from accomplishing all of those lovely resolutions?

It's called a day job.

yeah, someone might notice i'm missing

I'm too lazy to upload the pictures I currently have in my camera, so I thought I'd share an older picture of the cathedral in my parents' little French town:

We are still having fun with family here! Between braving the snowy roads to go on day trips, eating out at fabulous local restaurants that serve all my favorite dishes, and hanging out at home with board games and movies, I may just never return to Texas. My first graders won't miss me.... will they?

merry christmas

I hope you're all spending a wonderful day with family -- I know I am!

I wanted to share my favorite Christmas picture with you, back from 2008. We were trying to get a nice shot with me, my brother, and my sister. Right on "three", my brother reached around and tickled both my sister and me, resulting in this lovely spontaneous snapshot:

Hope your Christmas is filled with as much merriment and JOY!

"bored" games

Are you bored yet?

Sometimes it's easy to get bored on vacation. I used to, but now I have too many hobbies to get bored! If you're searching for things to do with family, there are always board games!

Here are some of my favorites to play with family:

Apples to Apples - so great for a crowd!

Settlers of Catan - a bit more complex, but addicting nonetheless.

Balderdash - even if you don't think you're smart, you can totally win this. And even if you lose, I guarantee you'll be too busy laughing your head off to notice.

Pictionary - an oldie, but a goodie. Brush off the dust from your old copy-- you'll be surprised at how much fun it STILL is!

What are some of your favorites?

where in the world is sarah?

I haven't been around the blogosphere all that much, but I did want to pop in and say that we're enjoying ourselves with my parents here in France.

Instead of picturing me in the classroom, you can picture me here:

Local village in Alsace, France 

The vineyard trail behind my parents' house

I hope you're having a lovely holiday!

i'll be home for christmas

Tonight, our flight leaves for France, where I'll get to see my parents for the first time in 2010.

When I was little, I would always annoy my parents with "Are we there yet?" when we were on long car trips. Since I couldn't conceptualize time well, my mom would calculate hours in episodes of Sesame Street. She would say: "Almost honey, only three more Sesame Streets." And that would maybe shut me up for one more Sesame Street before I had to ask again.

It's going to be 16 hours of travel time, folks. That's 32 episodes of Sesame Street.

Christmas craziness

The days right before a school vacation are always rather chaotic and stressful. I always have a million things to do, like make sure my lesson plans are ready to go for the week we get back, and clean my desk off so I don't feel overwhelmed with clutter in January.

Oh, and in my infinite wisdom, I decided to schedule two IEPs this week so that I'm EXTRA busy with a whole boatload of paperwork right before the holidays. Smart, huh?

And of course, I want to be a happy and fun teacher this week, scheduling special holiday projects and reading special seasonal books with the kids. I even have a little craft planned (a photo frame project I picked up last January at 90% off -- gotta love those sales!).

But the coup de gras is going to be when we come to school in our pajamas for a special showing of "The Polar Express" in the auditorium!

What about you? What craziness do you have planned with your kiddos this week?

i'm tired too, kid

I have the first grade Winter Program songs stuck in my head.

If you're a Kindergarten, first, second, or even third grade teacher, you most likely know the special hoopla that I'm talking about when I say "Winter Program". The rehearsals. The hand gestures. The lining up by  height. The repetitive music. The crowd control.

Yes, it's a very special time of year.

Tomorrow evening, my class will be taking the stage to sing their little hearts out (loud enough, I hope) for their family members. We only have two songs, and for days they've been lodged in my brain - right between the Christmas-countdown-cortex and the Are-we-there-yet-lobe.

I try not to get too worried about singing loud enough, remembering all the gestures and pauses, and standing completely still between songs. I have a theory that parents kind of relish the cute mess-ups anyway!

I just hope that no one calls out in a loud and whiny voice: "I'm TIRED!" like someone did during the last rehearsal.

Counting down

As a teacher, I feel like I'm always counting down to something. Thanksgiving weekend. Christmas break. Spring break. The last day of school. The next potty break.

I think this is partly why I love advent calendars so much... not only for the chocolate, but for the counting down! I remember my first year of college, I bought myself SIX chocolate advent calendars. I felt so rebellious. I know... you're scandalized.

Right now, I'm counting down until I get on a plane to France and visit my parents who I haven't seen in over a year!! We're skipping out of town a full day early. I don't like to miss all the Christmas parties at school, but my own celebration takes priority. Plus we're saving hundreds of dollars just by leaving on a Thursday instead of a Saturday!

Anyways, it's only FIVE MORE DAYS until we are on our way here:

What exciting plans are you counting down to?

the fat cat sat on the mat

We have three cats, and ever since we've moved to Texas into a house with no stairs, we've watched them steadily get fatter and fatter. It doesn't matter that they each get half a cup of food total per day. Somehow, they're still packing on the pounds.

So, Santa came a little early for them and brought them a five foot tall cat tree in the hopes that it would provide them with a bit of exercise. (Santa got a bit of exercise trying to fit the cat tree in the car, let me tell you!).

Thankfully, all three of them took to it right away:

And here's my favorite shot:

Does Santa bring your pets anything for Christmas?

it's funny because it's true

My father-in-law is a high school teacher and he passed along this video to me. If you've EVER been a teacher or if you've ever had to deal with less-than-competent administration, then you will find this video hilarious! I promise it's worth five minutes of your time:

Is this what meetings are like in your school? :)

Field trip fail

Usually, I'm a fan of field trips. Usually.

But I wasn't a fan of Friday's field trip. We took 45 first graders to the IMAX to see "Bugs in the Rainforest" and the kids were beside themselves with excitement!

I'm not sure which IMAX worker billed this experience as "perfect for grades 1 through 5" (maybe someone with no kids), but it wasn't at all appropriate for our first graders. Somewhere between the ultra-close up of a frog feasting on a fly in all its gory glory, and the two praying mantises doing it, I started hoping that none of the children would be haunted by nightmares.

At the end of the film when the caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly whose life we'd been closely following ended up getting eaten by the praying mantis (again with the close ups of every bloody detail), we gave up hope for any redeeming quality of the movie.

How did the kids handle it? They all came up to us afterwards and bragged about how NOT scared they were. Which we all know in first grader-ese means: "I almost cried and peed my pants but I'm saving face in front of my friends."

boo! sight word game

No, this isn't a belated Halloween post, this is a sight word game I've been meaning to share with you for a while!
I first started playing "Boo!" about three or four years ago. It's a very simple game that kids CLAMOR for. All you have to do is write down a bunch of sight words, one per note card. Or you could be all savvy and just print out the mini-cards from the Dolch kit website, and then cut them apart. On two separate note cards (or mini-cards), write "BOO!". Mix them all together in some sort of box or bag (preferably not see-though).
Then, the kids take turns picking one card out of the bag. If they can read it, they can keep it (or in my case, I'll help them read it if they're struggling - you can be as cut-throat as you want with this game). The person with the most cards at the end is the winner.
The catch? If you happen to grab a "Boo!" card out of the bag, you have to put your whole pile of cards back in!
It's so fun to watch my first graders play. I let them play on Friday (after we've practiced the week's sight words) and they count down the days until they can play again. I just love that they are obsessing over a game that reinforces their decoding skills!!
Do you have any sight word games or activities you like to play in your classroom?
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