DD Minus 28 - The Countdown is ON!

So, after another quiet fornight around these here bloggy parts, i intend on returning with a vengeance! So, if you couldnt tell from the title of this post, I am now 36 weeks pregnant which means there is 28 days til my due date ( hence the DD Minus 28 ). And, as i attempted to do when pregnant with Flynn, i am going to try and post every one of those days, until i hit my due date or the baby is born, which ever comes first.

To be honest, i hope the baby follows in Flynns footsteps and arrives before its due date. Its not like i'm in intense pain or suffering from complications, or feeling any more aches pains then any other pregnant lady, its just ... well... by this stage in the game i'm a bit over it. I'm tired of the waddling, the stiff joints, the pregnancy itch, the Braxton Hicks, the waking at night to either roll over or pee and the wriggling/stretching movements that make it feel like this Little Miss is about to pop right through my skin. I'm just super keen to meet our little bundle and bring her home to her family!

So with the countdown officially on, and with 28 days left to go, i'm not really sure that i have all that much left to get ready: all 3 bags are packed ( mine, babies, and Flynns in case he has to stay overnight at Grandma and Poppies ); the bunting, wall art and quilt i made for room are completely finished and all i have to do in there is vacuum; the car seat will be going in as of this weekend; and this Sunday just gone my parents came and gave us a hand to spring clean the house top to toe, ready for bubby to come home. I'm sure there is probably something small that i'm yet to do but i cant quite think of it right now.

So - what to post about on DD Minus 27? I might explain where i was for at least part of the last two weeks.....

Bankin' the Duck


I meant to link to this a while ago, but then my little head got distracted by something shiny. I apologize for that, but here we go:

Banker has another PKNA-related project lined up: Bankin' the Duck, his new blog where he'll be going through the comic series while commenting on them in his own personal style. His own style being highly sarcastic, extremely rude and quite hilarious.

If you enjoy PKNA solely for their friendly all-ages charm, this may not be the blog for you. But if you don't mind seeing quite a lot of cuss words and having your favorite comic series lovingly torn to shreds before your eyes, I very much recommend you check it out.

Teacher Pay Teacher Feature- Whaaaat?

So I woke up this morning, after a stormy, non-sleeping night in metro Detroit.... I opened my email to see some feedback on my TPT free item.  I was like, okay- that's nice that someone took the time to make suggestions for me.  As I was reading, she mentioned that she was helping me out because I was the Featured Teacher-Author.  Whaaaat?  How did that happen?  I only have a few things posted?  I'm not kidding... look!

Anyway, I am taking her suggestion about adding a copywrite thing at the bottom of each page and such.  I must be too trusting.  I never thought someone else would want to pass off my ideas as their own.  I thought my name at the bottom of a PDF was good enough.  (Sorry- I got side tracked!)  She also mentioned that my freebie needed more details- fixed it already.  This is what I love about teaching-- so many people are willing to help and encourage other teachers!

Although I appreciate the money (it funds my own TPT purchases), I don't go out of my way to produce items to sell.  Teaching is still my #1 professional priority.  I 'll only post things that I have or will use in my own classroom.  As I develop more things for my classroom kiddos, I'll add more freebies and other bigger items, I promise :)

Daily Agenda & Schedule

Having a daily schedule/ agenda posted in the classroom is so important.  At the lower elemntary grades, it helps teach the students the concept of passing time, sequencing, and gives them a sense of security in knowing that we have a plan for the day (although it may change sometimes!).

I've had the same schedule cards for a while and wanted to update the look.  I use a long pocket chart to house the schedule.  That way, I can move things each day, if needed, or make adjustments throughout the day (we all know that math just takes longer some days!).  Here is what my calendar area looks like (photo from last year).

The pocket chart on the left has my daily agenda.
Since I thought others may like a little updating, too. . . .  I just uploaded the files to my TPT page.  You can get it HERE.  If there are other items that you'd like to see added to the schedule cards, just let me know and I can update the file :)

I know some are also getting ready to start school (or at least plan).  Here is my schedule from last year for 1st semester (readers and writers workshop gets longer as they build stamina).  If you are new to first grade, this may help you figure out how to get it all in throughout the week.

Here is a LINK if you'd like a closer look!

That's all for now... I'm off to ANOTHER baseball game.  Between the 2 boys, we've only had 6 baseball-free days since school got out.  However, I do have one wicked farmer's tan!

PKNA BONUS #32 and #33

Banker returns with a couple of back-up stories, featuring everybody's favorite murderous Xerbian.

I am Xadhoom: Arena:

I am Xadhoom: Abyss:

Manic Monday Freebie !!!

Here is the 5th installment of the Connect 4 games that I created for short vowel word families.  The rest of the games are available there, too.  I use it as one of the games to compliment Words Their Way.  My kiddos LOVE it.  Best of all, once they know the game, they can play all of them!  You can get it at mt Teachers Pay Teachers store today (and every day!) for FREE!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be sure to check out other great FREE items at:
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Fifty Shades Of Should I Care?

Alright - so anyone who is anyone has either written a blog post, a Facebook status, or a Tweet about the " Fifty Shades " trilogy last week. I swear to you, everywhere i turn on the internet there it is, that " mummy porn " series that is supposedly titillating women everywhere. I, however, havent succumbed yet and i'll tell you why - everything i read, whether it be a professional review or just the opinion of one of my Facebook friends says that yes, its a little bit raunchy but that the writing is terrible. That the prose itself is not well written but that the erotic sex scenes make up for it. And i just cant bring myself to read something that is terribly written, no matter how sexy parts of it may be.

So does this make me a book snob? Am i really missing out because i cant bear to spend hours of my precious freetime trawling through pages of rotten prose? Am i one of these pretentious wannabe literary types who will only read " proper " literature, and not just any old pulp? Like i said, i only have a few precious hours a week free to just sit and read, and i just can bring myself to waste them on page after page of bad writing so i can read a few paragraphs about anal sex and BDSM. 

So - thoughts? Reviews? Should i read it, or shouldnt i ?

Cafe Melba

I got pretty excited when Ailing told me about this new cafe over at Goodman Arts Centre. It is right in my hood - would have been the perfect place to chill over nice weekend brunches at... Haiz.

Anyways.. so I arranged a double date for B, myself, Sis and hubby to have saturday brunch and on first impression it looked great - place looked lovely - nice comfy seats and a cool vibe. Unfortunately, the food and service left much to be desired.

My eggs florentine was served without spinach and when I asked about it, they told me it does not come with spinach. "It's written on the menu" I said. The waitress just shrugged. WTF. The portions were miserable and whilst the eggs were well poached, the hollandaise sauce was erm.. tasteless.

B's "big" breakfast looked pathetic. $24 for this?? The picture says it all.

The pancakes we had to share did not fare better. At $18 (or was it more), I could have gone to Macs for better pancakes. Seriously a massive letdown.

I think my bro-in-law's roast beef might well be the best dish for that afternoon. But again, portions were too small. What kind of business are they running?

Not happy. Over-priced with unenthusiastic staff - they better act their act together or else.. Such a good location, I'm hoping a new better-run cafe with (at the minimum) DECENT food takes over the spot.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

You know you want to start singing in you best Julie Andrews voice!  I'm not making kids clothes out of ugly curtains, but I am exploring the artist side of me this week.  Little known fact- I went to art school and have an Art History degree (I was young and actually though I could survive being an artist/ researcher!).  As I paint, my mind wanders and I was just thinking about my favorite things (hence the bad Sound of Music reference).  This is my self-involved/ self-indulgent post :)

These are a few of my favorite things...

I am an avid list-maker, so as I work/paint/read, I always have a notebook next to me.  I hate losing a great idea just because I'm without paper!  I love notebooks!  I go through a lot of them- sometimes just doodling or random thoughts.  I have a few go-to items for this.  I order the FREE and personalized ones from VistaPrint.com.  You can get them with lined or plain paper inside.  I always have one in my bag!

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Another favorite, but pricey-er is the awesome mole-skin line of notebooks.  I feel very fancy and writer-ly (think Hemingway) when I use these.  I used to get them at Borders (insert sad music here), but now Target carries them.
Moleskine Classic Mini Ruled Notebook (2.5 x 4)
Another item I use at home and the classroom is my label maker.  I like to create the illusion that I am organized!
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I have a thing for office products in general, but I REALLY love me some flair pens.  The more colors, the better (although I think yellow should be for highlighters only- mine never gets used).

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I use a lot of music in my classroom for cues and to stimulate learning (another post for another time!).  During Readers Workshop, my kiddos and I like to listen to "our reading music".  What they don't know is that it is actually baby lullaby CD's that I bought when my own children were born.  The cool part is that the lullabies are music from a few of my favorite bands.  There are over 20 to chose from on Amazon.  I will warn you.... I'm a HUGE Nirvana fan, but the Rockabye version creeped me out and I can't listen to it (think demented clown music!).  However, Nine Inch Nails is on my list for the fall.  Seriously.... (we all have a past, right?).  Last year, these were in our rotation:

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I also L.O.V.E my camera.  I have been nick-named the "Moma-razzi by my son's baseball coach.  He laughs all season long, but can't wait to see the awesome shots I can capture with my mac-daddy lens!  I also have a smaller camera, just for school.  So much learning takes place that isn't represented by paper/ pencil.  I like to share it with the kids (recounting their learning) and parents.

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I also have a strong relationship with my public library.  They let me check out 30 books at a time!  This is how I get books for my social studies and science units.  It keeps my classroom library fresh and well-stock with nonfiction options.  If you haven't tried this avenue as a source, please check it out.  Public libraries are always there to help!

Well, I'm off to read (a Kindle book lent from my public library!).  Happy Friday the 13th!

Amphibian sex-change

Got some startling news today...
I was concerned anout one of my red-bellied toads, so when I went to pick up crickets this morning I asked the guy working about it. I told him Oddball's symptoms (as if he were WebMD), then he looked at the other guy working- then looked at me again.

PetKid: Ma'am... he's not sick, he's just fine. This happens.
Me: What? They change colors?
PetKid: He just became a she.
Me: Wha, what?
PetKid: It happens if there are only 2 in the tank. The less dominent will adapt, as if to carry on the species.
Me: That's weird.
PetKid: That's nature, ma'am.

Apparently, Oddball was perfectly named by me little student!
Rosie, on the other hand, is a boy. 
Hmmm.... Even the class pets are weird! 

I checked on the internet (because EVERYTHING you read on the internet is TRUE!), but only found one study done.  Nothing on pet store sites.  The kid was probably feeding me a line. 

In the end, I just want my toads to be happy with who they are and that they are comfortable in their own bumpy skin.... even if it means that he becomes a she. 

Masa Steak and Hamburg

B is a big fan of beef so for our 8 month non-anniversary (it's a long story), we decided to check out this relatively new steak place at Robertson Walk. It's just beside Orihara, the sake bar, so when making reservations I made it a point to ask about corkage - it's $20 for wine and $30 for sake (per 750ml bottle).

The decor of the place was simple but welcoming - soft lighting, dark panelling and cosy booths. The price of the steak was not cheap so we both decided to just go with the hamburgs plus some appetizers. B popped next door to buy a bottle of his choice of poison - sake. I had glasses of the house red and white wine which were quite palatable. The red wine - Three Rings Baroosa Shiraz in particular, went well with the hamburg, portions were generous at $12. 

We settled in quickly and waited in anticipation. Luckily, the food did not disappoint. The Masa salad and steak tartare were perfect for starting the meal off with. B has a high standard for beef tartare (I am indifferent) so when he says it's good.. well, trust the meat man.

The french onion soup we had to share was also very tasty. I loved the cheese flavour and the soup was robust, full of onion goodness. Definitely will order again.

The star of the meal were of course the hamburgs. We both had ours with a sunny side egg and B added garlic chips as an add-on. I had the demiglace sauce and B had the traditional. We compared sauces - definitely go with the demiglace. We didn't try the ponzu though.

At $28 for a 200g patty and $38 for 300g,  this was definitely good value hamburg. The hamburg was perfectly done and it was just such an enjoyable meal (excellent company aside). I am definitely going back to Masa!

Its All In The Perspective

Its funny how things effect you differently after you've become a parent. Things that might have just slipped under your radar when yoiu're child free just seem to get at your more once your own children are in the picture. Case in point : Mick sends me a text today telling me that a young man who was king hit by a stranger in Sydney on the weekend has had died in hospital, and " that shit hits home " with him now - I mean, what if that happened to our Flynn? It snot like either of us were unfeeling bastards before we had children, but a story like that might have illicited some sympathy when initially seen on the tv, and be forgotten about by the next day. But now that we have a son of our own stories like that dig in deeper, hang on a bit longer, and when the outcome isnt so good it hits home that one day that could be our child. Its upsetting.

I've been feeling the same way about the child molestation "scandal " hitting the Catholic church in the past week or so. In the past of course i was upset for children who had fallen victim to paedophiles, and angry that justice just never seems to be served. Now that i have my own children ( or at leasti will have very shortly ) i'm not just upset and angry, but find myself full of vengeful rage when reading these stories. I like to think myself a calm, rational personal, not especially prone to violence - but i swear to you if ANYONE ever touches one of my children inappropriately i will hunt that person down and castrate them my bloody self. All my humanity would go straight out the window and the ferocious MamaBear would come out in defence of my children and their dignity.

Even things as small as the way young girls seem to be dressing and acting these days ( gawd, i sound like i'm 80 yrs old! ) evokes more of opinion that it would previously have had. I already feel a strong urge to protect my unborn daughter from all the bullshit of the world - from the bullies, from the societal pressures to " fit in ", from the nasty boys who might break her heart. I couldnt see the harm in some things before that i can most definately see now, from a mothers perspective.

Kind of makes me want to go and hug my parents and say " thank you " for rasing me the way that they did.....

Target & July Currently

It is well known in these parts that I LOVE me some Target.  I don't mean a casual love, either.  I'm there about 2-3 times per week.  Some may think that I'm just disorganized or should plan better, but... it's my happy place.  Seriously, if you can't get it at Target- Do you really need it?   My boys just shake their heads when the security guards at our two Targets (I have 2 stores within 3 miles of my house) say hi to me.  Again, not like a WalMart greater hello, but a genuine "Hey, how's it going? We missed you yesterday."

As I was killing some time while my sons were at baseball practice, last night, I noticed something a bit disturbing- yet exhilarating and breath-taking at the same time.  Now that July 4th is over and on clearance.... the back to school items are out in FULL FORCE.  For those who go back to school next month, this isn't so crazy.  However, Michigan cannot start school until after Labor Day (by law).  You're killin' me Target!  Why?  Why?  Why, I ask. 

So of course, I wandered up and down the isles.... noting what was there, but I did NOT touch.  I know me pretty well.  If I touch it, it will end up in the basket and take up residence in my home office until school starts.  There are tons of cute things in the dollar bins, too.  Very SchoolGirl Style!  Definately check it out.

I also finally got around to filling out my Currently to link up with Farley at:

Here's what else is up around here:
P.S.  Truth must be told.... I did touch the black Sharpie 2-pack for $1 and it did come home with me.

Manic Monday FREEBIE !

In honor of Manic Monday over at Classroom Freebies, I'm sharing a freebie with you all! Here is another Word Work game- Connect 4 (with short I  families).You can get it FREE today (and always!):

For more great freebies and to explore other blogs, please visit:

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wiggle It!

Twice in the last week i've been sent up to our local hospital to be checked over - once because my blood pressure was way too low, although i felt fine; the second time i felt dizzy, hot and short of breath but my blood pressure was fine! I'm happy to say that on both occasions i was monitored and found to be okay, and sent home after an hour - it just i cant wrap my head around this whole pregnancy gig sometimes! I had no complications at all with Flynn ( unless you count need my appendix removed... ) but after these two minor " scares "i'm being paying extra attention to how i'm feeling from day to day.

Not me - i totally stole this from weheartit! ( http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=430427890322276&set=a.218950... )

The other thing i've been asked to keep on is that Miss Jelly is moving around - i have to admit, thats the fun part! This girl child moves around a LOT more than i remember her brother doing. I swear half the day she's in their doing tumble turns, or dancing, or just generally punching around. I've been told she's head down, bum under my ribs ( back along the right hand side ) so i get of little punchy movements and the hiccups down low, and bum wiggles above the belly button. Sometimes they're mor than a tad uncomfortable but at 32weeks and 3days i guess the poor little thing is almost running out of room!

I keep saying to everyone that i'm more than happy for Miss Jelly to arrive a bit earlier than her due date, the same way her brother did - but i will admit it will be a bit lonely without the wiggles and jabs that have been keeping me company the last few months. However i console myself with the fact that (hopefully ) by the end of August i will have a squirmy, wormy, beautiful pink bundle to keep me company all hours of the day instead!

eReaders.. and Beginning Readers

As I was cruising through my blogroll of teacher-authors that I enjoy, this awesome post on eReaders popped up by Keri Powell from the Sweet Life of Teaching.  Keri reflects on an article recently published by The New York Times, Why Books are Better than eReaders for Children.

LINK to eReader blog post
Please visit her at her blog and read her thoughts on how eReaders are affecting beginning readers (and their family experiences).  Keri is so insightful.... like, I wish I had written her post :)  This has been a hot topic in my family (my nephew is entering 1st grade this fall) for the last few years.  Don't get me wrong, I L.O.V.E my Kindle Fire, but I'm a pretty good reader already :)  I can't wait to share Keri's thoughts with my lower el team (and family!).

Seating situations...

I've posted before about my seating arrangement (ball chairs).  This year, I want to take it one step farther and give my students more choices.  I want to try open seating and allow them to chose their learning spots within the room. 

I had the great experience of having my friends and coworkers' sons in my room. I loved them both for different reasons... One could melt me with his big blue eyes (Z) and the other had me with his sense of humor and dry wit (K). Both boys enjoyed talking... Sometimes to each other :).  Open seating might be a challenge for these personalities. What continues to amaze me is that firsties know and fully understand the expectations.

One day, K and I had this conversation:

K: Ummm.... Mrs. Smyth, I have a problem.
Me: What's up?
K: I need to switch seats because I can't get any work done. I just want to talk to the kids at my table. Me: Okay, where do you want to sit? (K looked thoughtfully around the room.)
K: I don't know. I would pretty much talk to everyone here.
Me: Well, no man is an island, K. Pick a spot and get to work.
K: I have no idea what you are talking about half the time. (shaking his head)
Me: Most people don't, honey!

Although this conversation speaks to the relationship I have with K (we share the same sense of humor!), I share this because part of growing and becoming responsible is making choices in learning and the environment that each of us chooses to be a part of in the room. K understood his needs and his temptations. He ended up working with a clipboard by the front of the room. THIS is huge for a little person. Not everyone will come to this on their own. That's where we come in :).

My favorite question is: "How do you think your work is going while you sit here? Is this spot working for you and the people around you?"  But, is this enough to prompt responsible choices?  I have always given my kiddos the choice of moving to an empty table or the floor... but this would be HUGE.  I'm not sure how to make them feel secure in their space, but still allow them to choose.  Many students want a space of their own.  Coming from kindergarten, they will still be a bit timid in regards to the norms of school.  I think for the first week, they will have an assigned spot.  This will give me time to get to know them and learn their needs.  After that... I'll be ditching the name plates.  This part isn't new for me- they have always bugged me (another rant for another time).

I know another teacher in my district who doesn't assign seats to her first grade class.  My plan is to email her and ask to meet up the week before school starts.  We share many of the same teaching philosophies, so I believe this would be a good learning fit for me (See how even teachers need to make responsible learning choices?  Hee, hee!).

So, I'll put it out there.... do you assign seats?  If not, how did you start the year off?

Manic Monday FREEBIE!

In honor of Manic Monday over at Classroom Freebies, I'm sharing a freebie with you all! Here is another Word Work game- Connect 4 (with short A families).
You can get it FREE today (and always!):

For more great freebies and to explore other blogs, please visit:

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday