Sunday, September 28, 2014

How to throw a Mustache Bash!

Kellen turned one this week, so we had to ring in his first year with an awesome party this weekend!
I was going to do something super fun like a construction party or dinosaur party. My wise old 7 year old, pointed out that her first party was a luau and she wished she would have remembered it. So she suggested a mustache party, since they are all the rage (I don't even think people say that any more)and might not be for much longer. So 'staches it was!
The decorations were super simple and the food was pretty much already made, thanks to my sweet sister in law, who is an entertaining genius, it was a cinch!
I found old baby pictures of Brien and I and we posted them on the ever-so-handy kitchen chalk board and we asked our lovely guests to vote for who Kellen looks more like! For the record, I won...
I also found a really sweet book for bed time and we had all of our family and friends write a message to Kellen. I meant to do this when he was born and have everyone who came to visit us in the hospital sign in, but I escaped the hospital with only a few visitors, so I busted out my idea for this occasion instead. 

Now, we can look back and see all of the sweet things everyone wrote to him! I love this!
We had this right as you walked in the front door with a bowl filled with a variety of mustaches! It was a bit hit!

During the week I printed out all of our favorite month pictures mixed in with a few from his photo shoot. We strung them up in the living room with twine and clothes pins for everyone to see how the Mr. has grown this year. I need to something like this but more permanent.

The dessert table!

How great is this cake?! The same lady that made the ninja turtle cake for our nephew's birthday made this one. It was absolutely delicious!

Grandma Sue! Always a willing participant in the fun!

The drink station! I found this little printable online and enlarged, printed it and framed it, super fun!

Kellen loved his Cozy Coupe!

and balloons!

Baby tread socks, now that he is walking!

His Manning jersey complete with tie, ready for the Broncos!

Cake was enjoyed

Really, really enjoyed.
Overall, I would say it was a success! I love a good bash and so does this party animal!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kellen is One!!!

We made it! How is it possible that a whole year has passed since we met you little baby?!
I was hard pressed to get ONE picture of you on your first birthday that you would actually sit still and pose in your chair for!! It was like wrestling a pig!

This month has been wild and crazy you are on the move in a serious way! I can't believe how much you have grown and how much that you have changed and become such a sweet little baby. It's truly incredible to see pictures of you when you were first born and see you now! Wow!
The first time I got to hold you! It was little rough, you had a low oxygen level and I had to wait hours to hold you...I was bound and determined to snuggle with you, I made a fuss so the nurses had  me  wheeled down to see you in the nursery. It was totally worth it, love at first sight!

Sweet tiny baby!
Now you are my huge toddler boy. I didn't think I would be emotional at all about you turning one year old. Yesterday, on your actual birthday, I was just fine. But today, now that you are officially one, I was folding up one of your smaller onsies and the tag said "just one year" and I totally had a melt down. That's really it?? Just one year and now you are not a baby any more? I had to ugly cry it out for just a minute...

So this month, where to start?
You are loving you some daddy right now! He is your best buddy! 

The Kellen finger... You touch everything, but just with this one finger. We call it the "Kellen Finger" It's kind of your seal of approval. 

The strangest things make you happy. Wearing a diaper on your head for example... Weird. 

Balsamic vinaigrette, you carried this around for most of the afternoon one day...Weird.
Playing on the fridge, for extended periods of time...Weird (also explains your salad dressing obsession)
More struggling...

struggling and crying...
I gave up...

Other news, you can walk!! You started a little bit last month, but kind of stuck to the furniture and walls and now you are taking like 10 or 15 steps and then you sit down where you land! But you still prefer to get what you want by being carried to your destination, usually by me.

We had a photo session with Ms. Adriane this month for your year pictures. She just finished editing them and sent me a little sneak preview...
How great is this?? My fat little farmer!

We had to do some major cropping because the overalls you were wearing were only 12 months and the crotch buttons kept bursting open...It was pretty entertaining.

You still love some Jake and he is so good about letting you climb all over him.

Watching the Broncos with daddy on Sundays has become quite the adventure!

All silliness aside, I am so blessed to be your mommy and you are so precious to me, my love. I am sad you are getting big, but so proud of what a sweet, smiley, happy boy you are! Happy birthday baby man.

Friday, September 19, 2014

What I wore this week!

What a fun week! The weather was beautiful and warm, not quite fall-ish though! We had our annual student/teacher dodge ball tournament, guess who won that?? Callie's Texas grandpa came for a quick dinner visit on his way to hunting, Kellen took his first few real steps! It has been a wild one!

I wore this Sunday to church, still trying to wear up all my summer dresses! 
Dress: Old Navy (old)
Sweater: Target
Shoes: Target

Tunic: VeryJane
Capris: Taget
Nude heels: Target

Tee: Old Navy
Skirt: American Eagle (I got this in high school and it is still in the rotation!)
Red peep toes:Dillard's
Necklace: Target (maybe?)

Dress: Old Navy
Cardigan: Loft (thifted)
Pearls: Target
Nude heels: Target

I am so sad! This top was getting a little pill-y so I took a razor to it to shave off the little cotton balls and I ripped a hole in it! I need to be more careful!
Top: Walmart
Skinny cargos: Old Navy
Camo flats: Target
Bracelet: gift

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Classroom behavior management

I love being a middle school teacher. Not something I thought I would ever say! I am by no means an expert in classroom management, but I know kids can't learn and I can't teach, if we don't have structure. Especially with middle school, they can be tough...
This year has been especially challenging. You see, I have this class, (we all have had this class or been in it) it's a very interesting dynamic. There are 17 boys and 6 girls. The gentlemen in the class are what they call "frequent flyers". Meaning they are frequently flying into the principals and deans office. They have reading right after lunch. It's also a class that has new students added daily, because of scheduling issues. Individually, I really enjoy all of them as learners and as young people. But, together they are a hot mess. And, they don't. Stop. Talking. Ever. 

After lots of prayer and digging deep into my repertoire of experience and resources, I have some tricks up my sleeve. Given, they don't always work, but I had great day with them this week and I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I hope some of these strategies are working. 

Here goes:

1. Establish high expectations!
The first week of school I create a presentation that outlines everything. procedures, homework, behavior and consequences. I revisit these frequently. They are posted in my room. I ask students to help their classmates when someone forgets or doesn't know. If kids know what you want them do and how you want them to act, they can do these things.

2. Create consequences and stick with them!
 When kids can't figure it out or choose not to meet the expectations they know what will happen to them. I have mine posted for the kids to see.

3. Build relationships!
I debated with putting this one first. It's so important! If kids know that you care about them and you show it,  they are much more willing to learn and produce work for you. No kid starts their day saying "I am going to make my teachers life a living hell today!" At least I hope they don't!
Who knows? Your class might be the only place where they feel safe and like someone wants them there. A handshake, a pat on the shoulder, praise for good work, caring for who they are outside of school, these are powerful! I had so many conversations this week about being a leader, setting a good example, having confidence, challenging yourself ... I was feeling drained, but I know that they need it.

4. Be real and be honest! 
Sometimes you have to have real conversations with kids about where they are at. Be gentle, but honest. If they are not making the cut academically or behavior wise, let them know!

5. Focus on the positive
We start off every class with "Good things" I set the the timer for 2 minutes and the kids get a chance to share good things that are happening in their lives inside and outside of school. It's a great way to for me to get to know them as real people, not just as students. Students love it and definitely remind me if I forget to do good things

6. Keep them busy!
Kids who have work to attend to, ideas and questions to think about, discussions to be had, don't have a lot of time to misbehave. I always post an agenda of the class period on the board. I also post a
"success criteria". It's basically a "what am I going to learn and how I am going to show that I learned it" statement about what they need to accomplish during the class.

7. Use your strategies
If all else fails. I have a few things that have worked in the past. If a student is repeatedly off task, talking or disruptive, and I have asked them to stop, I write their name on the board. This is a warning. If they continue, I put a check, and keep adding as necessary. If a student reaches 3 checks, it is a phone call home and a lunch or after school detention. This has worked pretty well in the past and kids usually don't get past the first check before getting their behavior back on track.

Also, during independent work time, if a students is struggling to stay on task, I will pass out a treat to the students who are working and on task (a skittle or m&m etc) This is a good motivator for kids who are doing the right thing to continue, and the kids who aren't, get a motivator to do so.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Home Made Pretzels

Who loves carbs? I do, I do! I always want to make my own bread and dough and such, but you see, I have this irrational fear. I am terrified of yeast. I mean, it's alive and you eat it! YIKES! Plus I always mess it up. This recipe was calling my name, pretzels, yum! Even though it called for yeast, I decided to just try it anyway. It's a little involved, but so worth it! Mine didn't come out very pretty, but they tasted delicious and that's what really counts.
Here is the original recipe

You need:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 packet of yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup baking soda
2 quarts water
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
course sea salt 

First make the yeast according to the package. 
Let it get all foamy...
It's alive!
Then add in the flour, salt, baking soda and butter. Then knead it and form it into a ball. Then put the dough ball into a bowl and let it rise some where warm for about an hour covered with a towel. This is the part that I was afraid of, so I went to the store and prayed that it worked. When I got home it was a fluffy, puffy, dough ball, success!

Next cut the dough ball into pieces on a floured surface. Then line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray. 
Not very pretty...but it will do!
Then cover with a towel again and let them rise for another 30 minutes. There was a lot of waiting during this recipe. I am glad I had things to do!

After they are all puffed up again, preheat the oven to 425 and put the rack in the middle of the oven. Next boil up some water in a sauce pan. Then here is where it got a little hairy. The recipe calls for adding in 1/4 cup of baking soda when the water reached a rolling boil. Well, I dumped in the whole cup all at once and it was an explosion on my stove of foamy baking soda-y water!

 I would suggest adding it very gradually and stirring while you add. 
Then turn down to a low boil. Next, here's the weird part, you add the dough right into the boiling water for 30 seconds, then flip and let it boil for another 30 seconds.
My baking soda mess!

 Place the dough rolls onto a paper towel to dry off a little and then transfer them back to the greased baking sheet.

 After all of the rolls have been boiled, brush the top with a beaten egg/water mixture and top with salt. 

Make slits in the dough (I guess to let the yeast breathe??)

Then bake them at 425 for 20 minutes. They make all kinds of popping and bubbling sounds in the oven, but when they come out it's magical!
They were amazing! The dough was a little dense, but I shared them with my family and I am pretty sure they were a hit! Next time we are going to experiment and try actual pretzel shapes, we shall see how that goes! Happy baking, yeast lovers!