Saturday, May 25, 2013

End-of-Year Teacher Gifts...Thanks for Making 2nd Grade a "Piece of Cake"!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I hope that your weekend is off to a great start. I know that the weather is not cooperating for a lot of you in the Northeastern parts of the United States, but maybe you can at least relax and spend some time with loved ones...even if it is indoors!!!

My kiddos officially started "Summer Break" on Thursday morning at 11 AM, but from the feel of it around here, it's obvious that "Summer" is still weeks away!  Still, nothing says summer like late nights, sleeping in, and flip flops and we've experienced all three already.

I've been working on some fun projects for around the house, but before I share those next week, I promised to share my "End-of-Year Teacher Gifts" that I created as our way of saying thank you to Mary and Ben's teachers.

While I wish I could take credit for coming up with this idea on my own, I really need to 'fess up that I borrowed and expounded upon the idea from Pinterest.  (In Education we call this "sharing" of ideas!)

I saw where a mom purchased a really cute cake plate, gussied it up with some polka dot ribbon, and attached the message, "You really made 1st Grade a Piece of Cake."  And while I tried to find cute cake plates to gussy up with polka dot ribbon, I was out of luck (and maybe a certain someone had explosive diarrhea while out shopping, but we won't talk about that!  LOL).

So, in my panicked I was perusing the baking aisle of my local Walmart...I found these beautiful Spring green Bundt pans on sale for $5.00 each.  I quickly snatched up three!  (I just love the color!!!)

Although a cake plate would be cute, I could come up with cute too!  In fact, I could include dry ingredients and a recipe for my often-requested Inside Out Cake all packaged neatly in the Bundt pan and keeping with the "piece of cake" theme!!! Brilliant, I tell you!  ;)

Of course, I could still include polka dot ribbon...just on the outside of the package.  :)

As Mary was in a combined 1st Grade/2nd Grade classroom this year, I made sure to create the Bundt Pan gift package for both teachers as well as Benny's Kindergarten teacher (who is leaving...sniff sniff!).

And in case you are wanting the Inside Out Cake recipe,  it follows:

Inside Out Cake

1 Box of Devil's Food Cake Mix
1 4 oz. Package of Instant Chocolate Pudding
2 Eggs
1 3/4 Cups of Milk
1 12 oz. Package (2 cups) of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

  • Grease and Four Bundt or tube pan
  • Mix together all ingredients by hand and pour into Bundt/tube pan
  • Bake for 50 to 55 minutes at 350 degrees
  • Allow cake to cool, then turn out. 

Wishing you a relaxing, safe, and blessed Memorial Day Weekend!!!

Schools out for Summer!!!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

End-of-Year Thank You's

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is the last day of school! Hooray for Summer Break!

To say "thank you" to the incredible teachers that Mary and Benjamin had this past school year, I put together a little gift basket with a "cake" theme for each teacher.  I found these "sweet" photo "thank you" cards from Hallmark through Walmart's 1-Hour Photo Lab. They turned out really cute.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what I was able to "whip up".   These gift baskets were really a "piece of cake" to put together!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kindergarten Graduate

Meet our newest Kindergarten Graduate... did this happen?  I swear I was just taking my first born to Kindergarten and now my middle child is ready for First Grade???!!!

I was a mess this afternoon.

By nature, I'm emotional, but I'm certain that watching a video of Ben's school year to "You've Got a Friend in Me" (Toy Story) and "Forever Young" (Rod Stewart)  combined with all the devastation down in Oklahoma had me feeling particularly melancholy.

Oh, and did I mention that our much beloved "Ms. Herrick" is not returning to teach next school year????  She's moving to Colorado.  Ben's sad, but taking it in stride.  I think I'm sadder!

Of course, silly songs with body movements are always good for a laugh!!!

Ms. Herrick worked so very hard with Ben to help him to learn to read.  It took him a while to figure it all out...but now he is on his way to being a successful reader.

In addition to giving each kiddo a traditional kindergarten diploma, she also gave each student a "candy bar" diploma.  Ben's been anticipating this for days!!!

Ben loves school...and Ms. much.  And even with all of his struggles in mastering sight words, he never lost his enthusiasm for learning.  I credit Ms. Herrick for that.

She is a gem and will be truly missed next year.

So now we just finish up the week.  Last full day of school is tomorrow.  Thursday is All School Mass, Yearbook Signing and 11 AM Dismissal!

Summer's coming and I can't wait!!!  I love having my kids home with me all day!!!


Pray for Oklahoma

My thoughts and prayers are with all of Oklahoma this morning, but especially those who reside in the city of Moore. 

Anxiety, than relief, flooded my heart as I was able to quickly make contact with loved ones in Oklahoma City. Google Maps helped me to quickly discern that family members were not involved in the chaos and devastation of Moore, but it was definitely a relief to speak with them via "Facebook"!!!

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear? The Lord is my life's refuge; of whom am I afraid?" 
~ Psalm 27:1~

As I was searching for Scripture passages that offer words of encouragement, Chris Tomlin's "God of Angel Armies" lyrics popped into my head.  I love this song, and Mary and Ben love it too! We always "crank it" loud when it comes on K-Love Radio in the minivan.

And as I was tucking my daughter into bed last night, I overheard this conversation between Ben and Luke (who share a bedroom).

Ben:  "Are you scared, Luke?"

Luke:  "No, I'm not scared."

Ben:  "Well, if you are scared of storms, you don't have to be.  You know why?"

Luke:  "Nope."

Ben:  "Because Jesus is with you.  He's always with you.  He's in your heart."

I died just a little!!!  So very grateful for the gift of faith during times like this.  I can't imagine getting through life, otherwise.  And to think...we didn't allow our kiddos to watch any direct news coverage of the Moore, OK devastation.  They're getting really good at "reading between the lines".


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sneak Peek...Upcoming Dance Recital

Last weekend was a busy one. It included a professional photo shoot at Mary Catherine's dance studio.

As this is our first year with Miss Amanda's Dance Academy, everything is new to us.  Including how super-duper organized Miss Amanda is!  We paid for recital costume fees last November, had fittings in February, and her in-house seamstress had alterations done by April.   (No fabric glue or safety pinning for this recital mama!)

So, no surprise, (but a new experience for us!), Miss Amanda has professional recital portraits taken at the studio.  It's a totally no-sales pressure deal (IF, you can resist the cuteness of your own kiddo!) as in,   you show up at your scheduled time-slot, pictures are taken, and you leave.  Individual and group dance shots are then available on the website for purchase...meaning you don't have to make an on-the-spot decision and end up buying more pictures of your daughter in the Nutcracker than any one mama needs.

While the professional shots aren't ready yet, I captured a couple of Mary Catherine with my camera phone between takes.  So.Stinkin.Cute.

First up...Blackbird. (Ballet)

And next up...Pink Cadillac.  (Tap)

Again, really cute.  I especially love how appropriate the costumes are...believe it or not that can be a challenge within the dance community... so I really appreciate the fact that Miss Amanda goes with age-appropriate, modest costumes.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Mary's "Lullaby League" Solo

UPDATE #2:  Thanks again to my sweet friend Bille Jo.  She provided a suggestion that I have tried.  (I went into Facebook, changed my privacy settings on these 2 videos, deleted the original link that I had embed and copy/pasted the public link.  Hope it works.  If not, no big deal.  I just thought their sweet angelic voices were a beacon of light in a sometimes crazy world!)

UPDATE:  So, my sweet friend, Billie Jo, emailed me to let me know that she can't view the video?  Is anyone else having this problem?  I can view both of them from my end.  Strange!!!  I'm not very tech savvy so I'm not quite sure what the problem might be.  Billie Jo mentioned something about privacy settings????

Such beauty and grace in this tiny, pint-sized, ballerina!  

As I promised, a snippet of video I took at Mary and Benjamin's school Spring Musical.

Mary was given a bit part as a "Lullaby League" girl and a small solo.


So very grateful to Grace (left) and Logan (right) for taking Mary under their wings and working with her on their Lullaby League trio.

Mary's very talented music and art teacher has brought her passion, love, and gift for music and art to the students of this tiny parochial school.  A former Broadway actress and opera singer, she encourages and nurtures music in EVERY student!!! She also taught music education in both New York City and Washington, D.C.  We are so blessed to have her return to her native roots...she grew up in a tiny Kansas town out west.

She has created and taken the non-existent "student choir" to exciting heights and has big things in store for them this summer.  And although, Mary and a couple other 2nd graders are too young to officially be in choir, she is allowing them to participate in a summer singing festival that is sure to be a big deal.  Can't wait to share down the road!!!

In the meantime, Mrs. E. used all student talent to create the scenery for The Wizard of Oz with only a bit of help from parents.  During dress rehearsal, as I was setting up an "Art Gallery" for her, I heard only grace and kindness come from her mouth!  She was gently explaining to the 7th and 8th graders (middle schoolers, OY!)  :)  that typically during dress rehearsals, "directors" are screaming at their actors, but she didn't adhere to that philosophy.  (Although I did hear her raise her voice a time or two to get some silly-acting boys and girls in line!)  What was amazing though, was how much the kiddos listened to her...they love her and want to perform for her.  Proof positive that you really can catch more bees with honey than vinegar!!!

As the evening wrapped up, parents were treated to one more surprise!  Mrs. E. had been working with the students on their own rendition of Phillip Phillips' Home.  As I had no idea the kids were going to break out into a non-Wizard of Oz song, I didn't have a recording device ready, but I did manage to catch about a minute of their performance.  Check out the Tin Man on guitar and Uncle Henry on the drums.  I think these two young men have quite the future ahead of them!  Oh to be only in 8th grade again!!!

Video quality is not the best as I was using my iPhone, but you can hear them really well.  Not sure if you can fine Mary or not, but she is to the left (behind) the Tin Man.  At certain points during the song, she really begins to rock out!  So funny!

Anyway, thanks for indulging me!!!  I claim no credit for Mary's talent...that is all God-given....but I do try to nurture her love for music and direct her towards age-appropriate activities (dance classes that focus on the classics of tap and ballet, piano lessons, summer theater, etc.).

She's currently teaching herself piano using our piano and the iPad.  Time to seek out a music teacher!!!


We're Off to see the Wizard!

Last Thursday night (May 2nd, in the midst of a freak winter snowstorm!) Mary and Benjamin had their school Spring Musical.

The theme:  The Wizard of Oz.

Only our most favorite movie of all time.  HELLO...we're from Kansas!  LOL

Mary started to watch The Wizard of Oz around age 3 and had no fears!  Not of wicked witches...talking apple trees...or flying monkeys.  She may have a small issue with tornadoes...HELLO...we're living in Kansas!  LOL  :)

Anyway, the entire school, K-8th grade participated in the musical.  It was pretty incredible for a tiny school...with almost no fine arts budget...and limited parental resources.  But it came together and was a  treat to the ears and eyes.

I am planning on doing a couple of posts on this topic.  Stay tuned for sheer cuteness!!!

First Up...Benjamin!

The Kindergarten Class (all NINE of them!  LOL) were the Poppy Munchkins.  

Next, we have Mary Catherine.

Mary was invited to be part of the "Lullaby League"!  This thrilled her to no end!!!  She was all about her bit solo part and dancing trio!!!

Can you guess which kiddo takes ballet???!!!  

Finally, random pictures of the cast!

These kiddos did an amazing job...and the parents, too! It took a lot of work rounding up and/or creating all these costumes on our own!!!

Finally, a few last pictures of Mary Catherine and her best friend, Ella.  As I mentioned, Mary Catherine was invited to be part of the "Lullaby League" where she danced and sang with a 5th grader and 8th grader.  Quite an honor in her opinion!  :)  Well, Ella was also given a bit part as narrator at the opening of the story.  These two 2nd graders were tickled pink to get to be "special" munchkins!

Best Friends Munchkins!

Next  up, Mary's singing solo!  (Don't's only about 10 seconds long!!!)