Sunday, July 12, 2015

Creating a Thinking Classroom

Photo Credit
Most teachers desire thinking students. Those who persevere, think critically, problem solve, self-reflect, and are flexible learners. Today's classrooms are preparing students for jobs that have not yet been created, therefore we have to teach our students these skills so they will be prepared for their futures. 

In order to produce these "thinking" students, teachers must promote a culture of thinking and engage students in the practice by being diligent in the structuring of the learning environment and experiences. The learning environment and experiences that occur within the classroom must encourage learners to act like a 'community of thinkers', sharing their strategies and ideas. In order to promote thinking, classrooms must be student-centered. According to King, Goodson, & Rohani (2009), the student-centered environment "supports the open expression of ideas, provides active modeling of thinking processes, develops thinking skills, and motivates students to learn." For this environment to develop the teacher must be aware of the affect that student motivation has on student achievement.  Of course, "great expectations lead to greater achievement" (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009) so it is vital that teachers maintain high expectation while also expressing positive interactions. To ensure that high expectations are being developed, SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) instructional goals should be set for both short and long term.  Always remember that "there is not busywork in this student-centered, thinking classroom, and student progress is monitored using several methods - not just tests" (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009). 

Just as we take time to teach specific content, we, as teachers, must take the time to teach specific thinking processes. Thinking processes include: context, metacognition, procedural knowledge, comprehension, creativity, insight, intelligence, problem solving, and critical thinking (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009). Each of these processes or strategies must be demonstrated and modeled with ample time allotted for students to practice them. Below are examples of how strategies may be taught within the classroom:
  • Metacognition is thinking about one's thinking. This strategy of thinking includes being aware of your thinking processes, self-monitoring, and application of the steps for thinking. "One's success with metacognition depends, in part, on a belief in one's ability to get smarter as well as the beliefs of others, such as teachers, in one's ability" (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009). Lesson plans should teach self-reflection and self-evaluation and students may practice these skills by tracking their thinking and learning independently. Students should also be encouraged to reflect upon new information, responding in writing or through discussion
  • Creativity "involves divergent and convergent thinking to produce new ideas" (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009). Creativity requires thinking beyond the box to produce new solutions to problems. Not only is it about finding the solutions though, but often it is about discovering the problems as well.  In order for creativity to prosper, students must feel safe in their environment so they may take risks in their thinking and learning. Teachers should share examples of creative thinking. They may offer students choices within their learning so that students may choose how to demonstrate their thinking or learning. These choices may also include a variety of tasks that incorporate multiple intelligences. Providing students with hands on situation also allows them to play while investigating new information. It is also beneficial to assign tasks that are open-ended and may involve several "correct" solutions. 
  • Critical Thinking is "goal directed, reflective, and reasonable thinking" in which "analysis, inference, interpretation, explanation, and self-regulation" occur (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009). Collaboration and communication play an important role in critical thinking as students provide evidence of their reasoning to support conclusions, while listening to others share theirs, which may result in a change in one's views. Students must be taught how to communicate, and more importantly listen when participating in collaborative groups. To foster critical thinking, teachers should provide opportunities for students to collaborate often. Once again, it is also important that teachers have created a safe learning environment where students are free to express their ideas and beliefs and open to listening to others express theirs.

Our classrooms contain diverse populations so when providing instruction and practice, teachers must remain cognizant of the ways students differ in their prior knowledge, or schema. Be aware of the cultural background of each individual when providing support in developing thinking skills. Scaffolding is a way to differentiate instruction as it provide support throughout the lesson. At the beginning, the teacher may take on a dominant role to get the learning rolling, but then gradually removes themselves allowing students to take the lead on their learning. It is often helpful to provide visual representations and break problems into steps to foster success. To meet all students needs, be sure to check often for understanding and provide additional examples or explanations when necessary (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009). 

Feedback is critical in the thinking classroom as it helps to promote self-awareness, self-assess, and self-regulate student thinking. Teachers must constantly be assessing student learning using a variety of formative assessments. When providing feedback, it must be "immediate, specific, and corrective information, using a positive emotional tone" (King, Goodson, and Rohani, 2009). Take the time to adjust the feedback based on the response. For quick and correct responses the feedback can be short and general, for correct, but hesitant feedback make be more encouraging, and incorrect answers may require additional explanation or questioning.  Prompting students who are unable to respond provides better feedback to the child, rather than calling on a peer to answer the question. Be careful not to provide excessive praise as, according to King, Goodson, and Rohani (2009), "praise is effective only when students believe they have earned it." 

So when creating a thinking classroom, be sure to follow the three steps:
  1. Create a structured learning environment,
  2. Teach the thinking processes and allow practice, remembering to differentiate to meet all your students needs, and
  3. Provide effective feedback.
Do you already have a thinking classroom? Or in the process of creating one?
I'm reflecting on where I am in developing a thinking classroom and setting some goals to help me strive to make it better in my post, "Is my classroom a thinking classroom"?


King, F.J., Goodson, L. & Rohani, F. (2009). Higher order thinking skills: Definition,
     teaching strategies, and assessment. Retrieved from

Elder, L. & Paul, R. (2010). The elements of reasoning and intellectual standards. Retrieved

National Association of Gifted and Talented Children (2013).  NAGC – CEC Teacher
     Preparation Standards in Gifted and Talented Education. Washington, DC: Author.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Last weekend, I wrote my post about making learning count during the last few weeks of school. I was determined to not countdown the year, but instead focus on making the last three weeks of school something my 3rd graders would remember.

Then came Monday.
I had some chest pains on Sunday that were quite intense through Sunday night. I decided that on Monday morning I would run into a walk-in clinic before heading into school. I thought I had pulled a muscle and figured some type of medication would clear it up. When I got to the clinic, I was first diagnosed with some type of inflammation and was going to be prescribed a steroid and higher dosage of ibuprofen. For some reason the diagnosis just wasn't sitting well with me, which I stated in a text to my husband. Then the doctor came back into my room, asking me about our plane trip to Spain and some other questions. I shared with her some strange bruising I had on my leg and asked her if she thought they could be related. Her face immediately changed into concern. She then told me she thought I actually had a blood clot in my lung and I needed to proceed immediately to the ER because I could die.

Yes. On Monday, I was told that I could die.

Needless to say, I was rushed to the ER where every blood test, CT scan, x-ray, heart echo, and other tests were conducted with a diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism. I had a blood clot in my lung. I ended up being admitted to the hospital where I have spent the past four days.

Four days of laying in a hospital bed gives you a lot of time to think.
I thought about my life.
My family.
My friends.
My students.
My career.
My priorities.

I'm ecstatic to share that today, I came home. As I'm typing this, I'm sitting in my front yard enjoying the warm sunshine and soft breeze as my daughter plays and my dog lays in the grass next to me. I can hear my son playing his piano through his window.

On Monday, I could have died.
But, today, I'm happy to say I'm alive.
And I won't be wasting tomorrow!

It's okay to have plans. I will admit that I am one that always has a backup plan for the backup plan. But, remember that sometimes life doesn't necessarily follow a plan. Sometimes we just have to go with the flow. Take time to just be. Enjoy the important things like friends and family. Stop and smell that flower. Walk on the beach. Relish the quiet moments.

This weekend is a long weekend for many of us. I encourage you to make sure to take time to do something unplanned with the people who mean the most to you. Because remember that life is not a guarantee and you never know when you may be told that you could die.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Forget Superwoman, I'm a TeacherMOM!

Mom's have a tough job. They take on so many roles to meet their family's needs and keep their households running smoothly.

Teacher's have a tough job, too. They take on so many roles to meet their student's needs and keep their classrooms running smoothly.

TeacherMom's??!! Well they deserves capes all of their own.

I've been a TeacherMom for 14 years now. While each job has it's own challenges and rewards, I believe each helps me be better at the other.

 I often find myself asking myself in the classroom, how would I want my own child's teacher to react in a situation. What would I want them to say to my child? How would I want them to make my own child feel?

Being a teacher also allows me to be a working mom and have a career where I'm not known as mom, but just educator. I've always known I would be a working mom and being a teacher has allowed me the career I desired while allowing me (most of the time) to put my family first. Best of two worlds! With a 14 and 10 year old with busy lives, our schedules can be quite crazy, but the time we get to spend together is treasured.

But, being a teacher mom can have it's downfalls as well. After answering 500 questions all day, I don't want to answer another 500 at night. After using all my patience on other children, I can get short quickly with my own. And after correcting misbehaviors and poor manners, I have high expectations for my own children's actions. While I think homework projects are great as a teacher, I loathe them as a parent. I speak about being involved, checking the bookbags, and signing papers only to miss most activities that occur during the school day (thankfully others always step in!) since I have a class of students counting on me, glance in the bag once a month when papers start falling out, and have been that parent sending the paper back on the last day it's due.

As all working moms, it's a challenge making it all work. Being the best in both worlds. But, we try! and as we tell our kids and students, that's all we can ask for!

Happy Mother's Day to all the TeacherMom's out there saving the world, one family and one classroom at a time!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Don't countdown, but make the learning count!

The days leading up to summer vacation can be some of the most challenging in classrooms. It is critical that teachers have a survival plan in place. Oh and there is not any place in that survival plan to share a countdown with students. Well maybe in the last 5 days, but not before then.

Instead of focusing on the countdown, focus on making the learning count!

One thing I do to end the year with a bang is to use one of my favorite books for reading. We do a unit on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that includes painting with chocolate pudding, creating character puppets, using recycled materials to create a new candy making invention, taking a virtual field trip to Hershey's chocolate factory and so much more. We end the unit by inviting parents to the classroom to see Mrs. Tuttle's Chocolate Factory where kids show their parents all the activities they have completed over the past two weeks. When I see my previous students, this the first thing they will talk about, our Chocolate Factory Unit, and when my students come in for meet the teacher, inevitably one, two, or a few will mention how they can't wait to do it at the end of the year.

So pick a book that you enjoy and want to share with the students. Then decide how you can go beyond the book and use activities to engage your learners. Think about ways you may be able to mesh subject areas too. Don't reinvent the wheel! Chances are if your book has been around then you can find Pinterest boards, Teachers Pay Teachers resources, or just do a search on Google to find already planned activities. You will be excited because you chose something you enjoy and your students will love it, too!

Usually at the end of the year, the testing is finished and most of the content has been covered so take some time to introduce your students to something new. What is something you wanted to learn more about? Something you want to use in your classroom next year? Let your students be the guinea pigs. Give them the tool, app, game, activity, whatever...and let them explore. Chances are they will be able to teach you something new and you will discover how you can successfully implement it next year.

Some activities I'm doing to wrap up the year:

  • Incorporating games! After a fabulous #satchat on Twitter, I realized that I under utilize games in my classroom. Games can teach life lessons (problem solving, risk taking, perseverance, sportsmanship, collaboration, etc) so why not incorporate them more. I would like to do a few game periods where students just play and learn. So far I'm thinking Battleship, Scattegories, Set, Blokus, Scrabble, Monopoly...what would you add?
  • Exploring and reviewing apps! I am lucky enough to have accessible iPads and I want to find new ways that students can use them to create products. There are so many apps available that I know I'm missing many useful ones that could enrich my students learning. I also know that my students probably use some already that they could share with me. I plan to spend some time letting my students find and review apps. Part of their assignment will be writing a convincing review of why I should download it and use it next year.  
  • Genius Hour! This year was the first year I implemented Genius Hour and my students LOVED it. They would ask every day if it was Genius Hour day. If you are not familiar with Genius Hour, it is simply providing students with time to learn about what they want to learn about. Some of the projects from my class included learning about sea glass, finger knitting, solar system, creating a Lego animation, coding, wolves, school gardens, using a Smartboard as a green screen, tornadoes...the possibilities are endless. Give students the time to learn what they want to learn and trust me you will learn too!
Whatever you do, I encourage you to stay structured, planned, and keep the focus on learning. Make the last days you have with your students count. These days could be the ones that the students end up remembering the most!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Professional Learning and Ethical Practices of a Gifted and Talented Teacher

Next year, I will be taking on a new role within my classroom as the teacher for an accelerated program. In order to be qualified, I am currently working on earning my certificate as a Gifted and Talented Teacher. If you don't know, I absolutely LOVE learning new things and just completing two classes this semester have learned so much about highly able learners and how I must alter my instruction to meet their needs.

I created this video as part of a project in which I was to present my understanding of the professional learning and ethical practice as a gifted and talented educator. After much research and reflection this is what I created...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pretty Much the Best Vacation Ever

This spring break we went big. European vacation BIG!

My brother and his family have been stationed in Rota, Spain for the past three years. We've always planned on visiting and since they are preparing to return stateside this summer it was now or never. So off to Spain we went!

We started on a plane...

Then switched to a train...

We had 10 days of action packed adventures and the best part we got to share it all with my brother, sis-in-law, nieces, nephews!!

The day after we arrived in Spain, we jumped on a ferry and actually headed to Africa. My sister-in-law had booked us a trip to visit Tangier, Morocco. We had an amazing time with Jamal our tour guide showing us around. We got to take a camel ride along the beach which was incredible. We got to enjoy mint tea and a delicious cake with argon oil as well as a lamb tangine. The rug shops and markets were interesting as we bartered our way through purchases. I don't know what I expected Morocco to be like, but it was different than expected. My sis-in-law wrote a great blog post about our experience visiting Morocco and she shares some great pictures too so check it out!

One day we went in to the town of Sevilla, Spain to hang out at Isla Magica, an amusement park. Anybody who knows our family, knows we LOVE amusement parks. Every spring break we hit some type of park so we searched to see if one would be anywhere near where we were staying and voila, there was. The best part was the amusement park had different "lands" and we got to visit the land of America. Too funny!

On Easter, we headed to Arcos, Spain for the annual Running of the Bulls. WOW! What an experience. My brother was the only one brave enough to actually run. The rest of us sat behind a nice metal fence that was bolted into the ground. The streets were crowded and boy do the people know how to party! After the bull run we climbed the steepest hill I've ever seen to reach the castle at the top. The views were incredible! We also found some birds to hang out with way up there.

We took one day and made the trek to Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory. It was nice to hear people speaking in English. We had a fabulous lunch of fish and chips before heading up the rock. Of course the monkeys that live at the top of the rock were a huge hit. One friend tried to steal my glasses!

After Gibraltar, we headed to Portugal to spend two days in Lagos. It was spectacular! We rented a house since we had a party of 10 and spent the time exploring in the old city. The shops and restaurants were adorable and everything was so clean. Unfortunately, it was very windy and gray while we were there so we weren't able to check out the beautiful water that we saw in pictures. According to Dave though we are going back one day so hopefully we can see it then!

Finally, we ended the vacation actually exploring Rota, Spain where my brother and sis-in-law live. We braved the streets on our own without my SIL who had played tour guide all week. It was another lovely day of exploring castles, churches, and quaint restaurants and shops.

How's that for a vacation?
Four countries...Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco!
Two continents...Europe and Africa!

The whole family now has an itch to travel more. We're already thinking of where we should go next. Everybody was so friendly and helpful. I felt very safe traveling and making our way through all the towns. Now that we have our passports, watch out world!

So now after many planes, trains, and automobiles rides, oh and a ferry boat ride too we are back home getting ready to head back to school tomorrow.

We went, we conquered, and we made incredible memories!!

We took lots of pictures so check out my facebook page to see the albums.

Changes Ahead

This year is my 10th year of teaching. Where did the time go? I've taught both 3rd and 5th grade throughout the years and enjoyed both.

Next year though I'm trying something new! I've been hired as the teacher for a brand new accelerated program within my school. I will be teaching an ELA and math class of mixed 4th and 5th grade students. Since the program is new there is much to be done, which is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

As the teacher of this program, I have to go back to school to earn my certificate as a gifted and talented teacher. Being a lifelong learner, I could not wait to start my graduate classes and I'm happy to say that I'm halfway through the first two of five classes I must complete. I have already learned so much!!

I won't lie though. It's been quite challenging balancing being a graduate students, college teacher, and 3rd grade teacher along with wearing the mom and wife hat. But, I know it will be worth it. Change is good!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Assigned School Projects for Home

As a teacher, I like the idea of projects for families to do with their children. Projects provide connections between home and school and are a time for the kids to share what they're learning and for parents to spend quality time with them.

Switching hats, as a mom, I confess that projects can be annoying. Finding the materials, finding the time, pestering the kid, and being tempted to just do it yourself can ruin the fun of any project. That quality time with your kid becomes a nightmare.

Currently, Zoe has a book report project due for her ELA class and a project display board for her academic challenge class. Yes, we have known about both projects for about a month. One project was due this week and the other deadline right around the corner. No, we had not started putting anything together before this week. We had talked about what she was going to do, but the actually doing part was lacking.

This week though with some unexpected snow days, I have had a blast working with Zoe on the projects. I LOVE the book summary assignment where they had to choose a container and include 5-6 objects that represent the book, write a summary, and be prepared to present their book. Zoe chose a mystery book that took place in a replica of the Titanic so this is her finished project...

We had so much fun spray painting, discussing the story elements, choosing the objects, and putting it all together. Even Dylan got in and helped us making some of the Titanic's elements work. I'm amazed at Zoe's creativity. She has such great ideas and I love listening to her thoughts. Oh and as a teacher-mom I was thrilled with her book summary. She is such a great writer too.  That probably comes with her ability to tell such great stories!

Enough bragging.

Today, we are conquering our second project. We started yesterday and realized we were some glycerin and paint short.

Thank goodness for snow days!!!

How do you feel about homework projects??

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Teachers have bad days, too

It was one of those weeks.

If you are not a believer in astrology, or at least how the natural world impacts life, please feel free to come visit my classroom, or pretty much any classroom, during a full moon. You will believe!

Between the full moon, report cards, new standardized assessments, evening trainings, teaching college class, being told you just weren't good enough, family drama, and the heater at home dying, let's just say it was not my week.

From early college days, teachers are ingrained with the mentality of "fake it until you make it". You can't let the kids see your emotions. Whatever happens in your life, it stays outside the classroom door.

Usually, I'd say that I'm pretty good at doing this. I'm pretty good at putting on a game face. I'm pretty good at smiling and staying positive on the outside while the inside is frowning and discouraged.

That was not the case this week.
I failed at the faking.
I was boring.
I was impatient.
I was sarcastic.
I was unkind.

I was discouraged on the inside and it showed on the outside.

As I've been writing this post, I've went back and forth if I will hit the "publish" button. I like to keep it positive on my blog, sharing my passion for teaching and education. But, I also want to be real and the truth is that teachers are real people too. Real people who sometimes have bad days weeks.

This morning, I participated in #satchat, an educational twitter chat that takes place on Saturday morning. As I was chatting with people in my PLN (personal learning network) I could feel myself becoming inspired. These are people who "get" what I do. As I listened to all the amazing things that were happening in classrooms/schools around the country and the world, I became encouraged. I started sharing the positive of what happened in my classroom this week (because even though there were some doozies, there were also some awesome things that happened in room 1201) and felt like a weight was being lifted.

So this week I'm ready to go back in.
I will be enthusiastic.
I will be positive.
I will be patient.
I will share my love for teaching and learning!

Because teaching is my passion!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mother's just know

Always follow your mother's intuition. I finally understand what my mom meant when she would tell me she "just knows things." This week, I just knew. 

Dylan received an iPhone at the beginning of the school year. He comes home by himself and we don't have a home phone so we agreed he would get an iPhone for his 14th birthday.  That way Zoe could get his hand me down phone to have in the house in case there were times when she would get home and Dylan was not already here. While I know some parents who actually have written contracts for cell phones, Dave and I just agreed on some boundaries with Dylan. First and foremost, the phone belongs to us. It is our property. At any time we can take the phone for a random phone check. We can (and will) look at messages, photos, apps, and anything else we want. Because after is OUR phone. Over the last 6 months we've had frequent phone checks. Dylan would laugh because he said he was always nervous even though there wasn't anything to be nervous about. And there wasn't.

Skip forward to this week:
I had a feeling. I knew it was time for a phone check. So I went in, said "random phone check" and saw an absolute panic come across my teenagers face. A look that made my stomach sink. I knew this wasn't going to be just an ordinary phone check. And it wasn't.

As a parent blogger, as my kids have grown older I've had to decide what to share and what not. They deserve their privacy. So to protect my son's privacy I'm not going to share his story, but only mine.

My son grabbed me and gave me a hug of somebody who was fighting for his life. I could feel his desperation. As we hugged, everything came out. I knew everything I would find on the phone.

I couldn't think. I wasn't ready. 

I sat and listened. I cried. I didn't let him go. He didn't let me go.
After about a half hour we finally parted and I left with the phone.
As I did the usual phone check, I felt sick.

My son who I had worked so hard to protect had been put in some situations that I did not think he would be in. At least not at 14. Nothing that was earth changing and thankfully nothing that would have consequences beyond embarrassment. To be honest, to some it may not have even been a big deal at all, but to our family it was big enough.

It was parenting showtime. Time to have some more talks. Deeper talks.
So we did.

It's been an awkward week. I know my son is embarrassed and I am sad. We had a couple quiet breakfasts and evenings. But, I didn't let him shut me out. I hugged him. I told him I loved him and that nothing would change that.

As the week has gone by, things are getting back to normal, thankfully. I'm getting my boy back. A little older. A little wiser. But, I'm getting him back. As things have settled I can't help, but think he wanted us to know. He wanted advice. He wanted us to help him. I'm glad that I just knew.

It would have been easier to not look at the phone. It would have been easier to not have the conversations. It would have been easier to just ignore. But, I love my kid too much. 

So for all my friends who are in the same boat with me of parenting teenagers, STAY STRONG! Stay involved. Keep talking. Keep being a parent. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kid Conversations

The radio was playing a song which led to this conversation with Dylan...

Dylan: "Hey, this song is on my iPhone. I never ordered it, but when I got my phone it was already on there. I like it."

Me: "Huh. Who sings it?"

Dylan: "Some band I've never heard of...U2. It's just a 'U' with a number '2'. I actually have a few songs of theirs that was on my iPhone. They're not too bad."

Me: "Oh U2. They've been around for awhile. Pretty popular"

Dylan: "Oh I thought it was a new band or something."

Dare I ask about Paul McCartney?

Friday, January 16, 2015

When did I get old enough for my kid to go to high school?

I feel like I'm still 18.
So how can I possibly have a kid headed to high school next fall?

One of my first posts was my little boy beginning Kindergarten.
Now I'm writing about him getting ready for high school!
Somebody stop the time!

This past December, Dave and I attended a parent information night at the high school to learn about the pathways that students are expected to choose in 8th grade to follow throughout high school. Pressure much? 

Dylan had visited the high school that day and came home very overwhelmed with all the choices. He was extremely nervous thinking this was going to be one of the most important decisions of his life. We assured him that really it wouldn't be. Not even close. So we started by eliminating pathways; performing arts acting and vocal, nursing, construction, vet, sports medicine, etc.

That narrowed it down to three: Performing Arts Instrumental, Communication Arts, and Pre-Engineering. We then started discussing career interests.  Dylan has always said he wants to eventually create the music for video games. He's also expressed interest in teaching music, which I'm sure is due to the amazing band teachers he's had during elementary and middle school. We discussed though how this is a very focused major.  We explained that if he keeps up with his piano lessons and is part of band he will still keep progressing in music. He decided to cut Communication Arts as he was not too interested in graphic design, which was the focus of the classes. That left us with Pre-Engineering. Of course this pathway only accepts a limited number of applicants so now we are keeping our fingers crossed.

He has gathered the recommendations, completed the applications, wrote his essay, and submitted it all this week. Now we wait.

Next up, attending the scheduling meeting at the end of this month.

Who knew that high school planning started in the middle of 8th grade?
Exciting times as I know Dylan is off to great place, but this is one nervous mama!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I don't feel like a kid anymore...

...that is what Zoe told me last night and it brought tears to my eyes.

On the way home from gymnastics, out of the blue, Zoe asked if I was the one that moved our elf. I asked, "why" and she said, "just tell me the truth." I evaded the question. She again said, "just tell me the truth." So I did.

Through the sobbing, I could hear her saying, "I should have just kept it a wonder. I didn't want to really know the truth."

Then came the other questions. What about Santa? Easter Bunny? Tooth Fairy?  So I told her.

This past Christmas I read The Truth About Santa and I thought about how when the time came I would totally steal the letter. So I did. When we got home I held her tight while she read the letter and more tears came. I told her how we were all Santa and by helping her believe we were able to share in the Christmas magic. She was surprised to hear that her brother knew the truth, but still shared in the elf antics and Santa stories. We talked about the Christmas magic comes from seeing other people happy. Giving. Sharing. Caring.

Then, my sweet little girl, said "Thank You." As she realized where the Santa presents really came from she said she couldn't believe we would do all that for her. She gave me a big hug and told me she loved me. Both of us were crying then.

I will confess that through the ordeal I wondered if we had done the right thing. Was it right to "lie" to her all those years? Did I cause her pain that she didn't really need to ever encounter?

Then I think about all the love, magic, hope, and happiness that was shared each year. That was priceless.

It's going to be different this year. It will be interesting.
But, rest assured Santa will be stopping at our house again!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I stumbled. I fell. But now I'm up and moving forward.

Along with getting back to blogging, there are a few other goals I've set for myself this year. I loathe the term New Year Resolutions, but I guess if the shoe fits!

I have started another blog (private for now) to use as a journal of sorts. I'm not quite sure where I'm actually going with it, but I had read an article about the importance of journaling and thought why not. My goal was to write daily, just a quick good, bad, and ugly sort of post. But, after 4 days, I stalled. Totally stumbled. Totally fell.

Along with journaling, the same article had mentioned beginning every morning by doing a 1 minute plank. Now the first day I tried, I got a whole 12 seconds in, I think, before I face planted. The next day I made it for 20 seconds though and I was up to 40 seconds on day 5. Then I stumbled. Totally fell.

Oh and then this blog. I had the intention of posting relatively often. Probably not daily, but often. But, the one post I did post this week? Yeah, I had written that one last weekend and then scheduled. So once again no blogging this week. Stumble...and fall!

But, you know what?
I'm good. It's all right.
What has happened won't define me.
Last week is over.
Today is new.
This week I move closer to my dreams. To my goals.!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Let the Year Begin

While we are 4 days into 2015, my New Year really doesn't begin until about 8:20 tomorrow morning when I welcome my 3rd graders back to school. While many parents are jumping for joy I go from being a mom of 2 back to teacher of 24. It's a good thing I LOVE my job.

Vacation has been PERFECT! We are very lucky that Dave is off between Christmas and New Years so the whole family is on vacation together. It's been relaxing with lazy days of sleeping in, staying in pj's, and following our noses. We saw more movies in the last two weeks than all year. My reviews? Two thumbs up for Annie and Mockingjay. Into the Woods? Not my cup of tea. We've went bowling, ice skating, shopping, played games, and just enjoyed being together. I always like rediscovering how much I love my family!

Now it's back to the grind. The house is as good as it's going to get (with Christmas decorations still on display), lunches are made for the week, dinner for the next two days are planned and the slow cooker for Tuesday all ready, lessons planned, backpacks cleaned out...I'm feeling pretty ready.
Of course at 8:35 in the morning I may be singing a different tune!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Back to the Basics

Way back in 2006 when I started the blog my focus was my family and sharing stories of our adventures. This blog's first title was even "Tuttle Family Adventures"! I loved writing and sharing our stories with pictures...lots of pictures!
One of the first photos I shared on this blog in 2006.

Over the years, the blog transformed (as most things do over time). I shared personal stories, my weight loss journey, anecdotes from my life as a teacher, anything that popped in my head.

But then I found my purpose start to change. As I gained readers, my focus was not on writing for me or sharing my story, but trying to write to please them. I craved their comments. As I watched other bloggers who had began at the same time gather sponsors, advertisers, receive fabulous products, and collect readers I was envious. I wanted the sponsors, advertisers, opportunities, products, and above all the readers! I began writing what I thought others wanted to hear. I said "yes" to products that I did not give a hoot about. I started posting less family stories and pictures and replacing them with memes so I could link up to get more readers, product plugs so I could get more advertisers, and lots of fluff. After a bit I found my passion for writing, for blogging, begin to fizzle. Blogging was not fun anymore...It was work...A job that I did not need.

So now that I'm giving blogging another go I only have one goal...Blog for ME!
I want to enjoy writing again and sharing my story. I want to keep creating the digital scrapbook that has been waiting TO BE CONTINUED...

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