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140: A Book Launch

25 Nov

It is a cold, wet November day in Austin, Texas today but we loaded up and headed downtown for ballet and then to our first book launch party.

A school mom has written a book and her launch party is today. She is English with cousins of our same last name and two beautiful children she adopted from China. This author has been great fun getting to know over the years at school so this was fun to see students, friends and the community surround this mom with love and support on this new adventure. I’m so proud and jealous.





Check out Operation Golden Llama


251: Mother Daughter Book Club

24 Jul

Our new library hosts a mother daughter book club once a month. This month’s selection was The Secret Garden. A classic.


I’m always on the fence about classics. Are they relevant? How do we get kids interested in these stories of yore?

I was surprised by book club with Missy Mack. An hour was a little much for her. She tends to get shy with around new people and adults and mumbly with her words. I learned that this was super good for her. The librarian couldn’t understand anything the said. She struggled to listen and respond to the other girls. The younger girls liked the book better than the older girls. Everyone who listened to the book rather than read the book liked it. The younger girls like listening to the Yorkshire accent.

I’m looking forward to continuing with this book club. We will be out of town for the next one so I didn’t write it down. It was a contemporary selection. September is Anne of Green Gables so we excited about that.

We celebrated with popcorn and watching The Secret Garden movie. Missy Mack was good at picking out the differences between the book and the movie.

Where to start?

6 Jun

So much has happened lately, I am not sure where to start. Tomorrow, I present a training in front of many people in my district, so now that it’s planned, I feel like summer can begin.

The last week of school, Missy Mack and I were both sick. I know people say this every time they are sick, but I swear that I thought I was dying. I went to the doctor and they said, virile so no meds. That sucks. I think I am done going to the doctor.

Anyway, here is the comparison of Missy Mack on the first day of kindergarten and the last day of kindergarten. I can’t believe it!

The end of year has been full of fun parties for Missy Mack. One friend hosted a water gun party. Super cute. One very creative mom create this mural that greeted us as we arrived. So stinking cute!

Missy Mack was one of the few girls that attended so once the boys had moved on from water guns, the girls decided they would have ‘spa time’. Aren’t they cute?

One of the parents gifted the class with matching t-shirts that the class wore on the last day of school. Girls got pink and boys got blue. They were so cute.

Our 5th grade graduation is a big deal and very special to me this year because I just loved this class. The decorations were just darling. It had a Hot Air Balloon theme. They blew up balloons and created several clusters of white balloons to be clouds, a few giant blue balloons with yellow strings and attached to baskets to look like hot air balloons, they made smaller paper ones and paper clouds and hung them from the ceiling by the snack table and they used balloons with strings attached to flowers to decorate the stage, which they later gave the flowers to teachers in the building. Simple. Cute. Fun. Anyway, they did the cutest story during the ceremony. One of the kid’s parents are the people who wrote Spy Kids and they wrote this story of all the things that have happened since these kids were born. Every child had a speaking part or a prop party. They recited the story. It was so clever! They also showed the sweetest slide show that had pictures of the kids the entire time they have been at our school since kinder. Their sweet baby kinder faces and we watched them grow through the slide show, so I went and took pictures of all the kindergarten classes so that I would have those cute kinder faces recorded when it’s their 5th grade graduation.

Saturday, Missy Mack’s daisy troop had an ice cream and slip-n-slide party. The family that hosted this party just moved here from Washington. They had the best yard. Nice and shady. It was funny watching the girls approach the slip-n-slide in the beginning vs. the end. I can remember being nice a bruised up from the slip-n-slide.

What has the rest of the family been up to?

Mr. Mack started a new job. He still has the bike shop and for now is having to work on the weekends there, but we are hoping to stop that soon! He is anxious about this job. From what I can tell, it seems to good to be true, he is waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is an e commerce company that sets up companies online shopping site. We are in the midst of getting used to what Mr. Mack have a job is like. Lots to adjust to. I just can’t wait until we are adjusting to two incomes! Seeing that Mr. Mack has worked from home or at the bike shop for several years, being among the land of people who go to a job everyday has been the biggest adjustment for him.
Me? I have read the Fifty Shades trilogy and it has my mind spinning a little. Not because of kinky fuckery, but maybe the intimacy and how all relationships start that way but eventually something switches. I am going through Ana and Christian withdrawal. I hate missing characters when the books are over. I also sit around and think about how I want a body like Ana’s. I just sit around and think about it though, I am not actually doing anything about it, just thinking about it. I also cleaned and re-organized the pantry. I wish I would have taken before and after photos because I am impressed with myself. I am so proud every time I open the pantry door. I have also been cleaning out things that have been ignored while school was going.

I know, life is very exciting, but here it is. I miss y’all! Hopefully, now that summer is here, I’ll be around more.

Sugar Rush

22 Feb

I have known teachers who take off the day of Halloween or the day after in order to not be caught in the sugar rush or crash, but this year, this could be said for Valentine’s Day. The energy was crazy all week at school. I have never been so happy to see a Friday since I am not sure when.

Maybe everyone’s grandmother sent a package that contained this amount of sugar in it:

Then a friend dropped off these handmade chocolate marshmallow treats. These are what is left:

Honey also sent new lovies. Meet Burger and Snowball and Hello Kitty chopsticks.

At lunch it was like a sea of pink, red and hearts and crazy.

I am impressed with Missy Mack’s free hand cut out heart.

I also received this drawing from Missy Mack. I am certain the giant things in the center are my boobs. I am afraid to ask. The truth hurts.

Missy Mack’s class made books for their Valentine cards and they were could glue the cards in the book or they could not glue the cards in the  book if the kids decided that the card was special. Missy Mack did not want to glue Kolten’s card in her book because he is special.

Missy Mack requested homemade heart shaped pizza and chocolate mousse. We liked this idea but we added cherry slurpees and candlelight.

She was full of it during dinner.

Not sure if you can see in this picture, but she has a massive red mustache on her upper lip that started earlier in the day and got brighter red throughout the day.

Missy Mack has learned to read The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss and she really wanted one of her own, so that was her Valentine’s gift.

I have video of her reading it but it was pretty boring so I will spare you.

I got my favorite flowers of daisies. Mr. Mack got an iTunes card and I made chocolate mousse but we ran out of time. We promised that if she woke up early she could have chocolate mousse for breakfast. She was up at the crack of dawn and I wonder why I had students bouncing off the walls the next day. I hate it when I am a contributor.

It’s V-Day

14 Feb

Oh, how I love Valentine’s Day!

I am not sure why. I don’t have high expectations of the day. I just like it.

Maybe it’s the pink and red and the hearts that make me happy.

We have a ridiculous amount of Valentine’s Day books and our collection was increased this year. If you don’t have any of these, check them out. I went to Barnes and Nobles over the weekend and I really had to hold myself back. I had a $25 gift card and needed to get a baby shower gift so I resisted, but I really wanted more.

My new favorite:

I found this cute activity on Pinterest:

This book, I found my first year of teaching and I just love Gilbert. He is so cute. It has a great message.

My all time favorite Valentine’s Story:

I am all ready for the big day. I love the way our school does things. At the beginning of the year, you sign up for a list of activities that will need to parent volunteers from the Holiday parties, to library weekly helper, copy helper, you name it. I signed up for Valentines with another mom. We worked like clockwork over e mail and made it fun for the kids, easy on us and simple. Our school does two parties; one a semester (Holiday and end of the year) and two treat days; one a semester (Halloween and Valentines). The state limits the amount of days you can have non-nutritional days at school. The other mom is doing the snack, chocolate dipped marshmallows and I did the drinks; my love juice from last year. This year, I found these Martha Stewart stickers that worked perfection.

Mr. Mack is buying fun straws to go with as we speak.

As far as our own family Valentine’s Day, I am not sure what’s on the agenda. Missy Mack as requested heart shaped homemade pizza and chocolate mousse. My mom always made the same kid friendly, yet fancy dinner on Valentine’s by candlelight. Very cute and sweet. I have zero ideas for my husband. Why are guys hard to find ideas for?

I hope your Valentine’s Day is full of hearts, and pink and red.

Praising Your Children

24 Jan

Recently, I was asked to write an article for a message sent out to our staff. It was well received by the staff so it was sent out to the school. Since  this is a mommy blog of sorts and it was about parenting, I thought  I’d share here:

I invited parents of my students into my classroom to discuss Fixed vs. Growth Mindset. Last year, I became interested in Carol Dweck’s work from Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. This book has many things to ponder about parenting, business,Psychology of Success. This book has many things to ponder about parenting, business, school and relationships. I am particularly interested in the parent/child relationship, not just for myself, but for the parents of my students. Carol Dweck has done many studies on the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait leaving children to be concerned for how they are judged and less likely to take a risk since their intelligence is what it is. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence is malleable and can grow with effort leaving students more agreeable to take on challenges because with effort comes success.

Now, this book brings about a very uncomfortable battle within my belief of gifts and talents, which is intelligence is not born, but it grows. Can we teach intelligence or are we just born that way? The book brings up several examples of well known people with gifts that were taught and nurtured, not just being born that way, such as Michael Jordan, whose basketball coach in high school told him he would never amount to much. This is a deep and complex thought for me that I still wrestle with because of the way I was taught. The book also has examples of studies that
have recently been discussed on television and NPR about a social experiment with two groups given a test. For the study, researchers divided 128 fifth-graders into groups and gave them a simple IQ test. One group was told it did really well and must be very smart. The other group was told it did really well and must have worked hard. One group was praised for intelligence, the other for effort. Asked if they wanted to take a slightly harder test, the kids praised for their intelligence were reluctant. Of those praised for their effort, however, 90 percent were eager for a more challenging task. And on a final test the effort group performed significantly better than the group praised for its intelligence. Many of the kids who had been labeled “smart” performed worst of all. The “hard workers” got the message that they could improve their scores by trying harder, but the “smart” kids believed they should do well without any effort.

My parent discussion focused on praise. Part of my interest started because I have a close friend who recently was promoted to a managerial position in his large well known corporation. Part of his training was about how to deal with the new generation of hires in their company because they come from the ‘Praise Generation’. You know the type, they have never been a loser at anything, their teams never kept scores, they were raised to believe that they were fabulous, smart, wonderful, brilliant and above all, a winner! Because of this mentality, these types don’t handle failure well, they don’t take initiative in a challenge and have little problem solving skills.

How did we get this way? How have we managed to grow a culture of belief in brilliance with
little effort? It is all about our mindset.

Here are two videos that are short, sweet and help with an understanding how to change our mindset in the way we praise.

I’ve said it a thousand times to my students and my own child; ‘You are so smart that you figure that problem out! Way to go, you are brilliant’! What is so harmful about positive praise?

Here it is, the truth, every word and action a child receives from a parent, teacher, coach, friend sends a message. Tomorrow, listen to what you say to children and tune into the message you are sending. Are they messages that say: You have permanent traits and I am judging them? OR are they messages that say: You are a developing person and I’m interested in our development?

Of course, I have a twitter reference because as I was writing this Friday Focus, I read this link on
twitter: The Trouble With Bright Girls. Intriguing? Yes. Here is the article the tweet sent me to
and it is very related to the praise messages, but this time it is focused on gender.

When you praise a child’s intelligence or talent it is from a fixed mindset. Instead, focus on the process they used- their strategies, their efforts or their choices.

Go forth and praise thoughtfully.

Summer Reading

16 Jul

So, summer is for fun, sun and reading. I have to admit that we haven’t been as diligent about reading as we were last summer. Last summer, I started reading chapter books to Missy Mack. We read a child’s version of Alice in Wonderland, The Molly American Girl Books and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. This summer, I decided to introduce Missy Mack to my next favorite girl in the world,

Ramona Quimby. So far we have read, Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave and next we will start on Ramona and Her Mother and continue with Ramona and her Father, Ramona, Age 8 and Ramona’s World. Do you know about Ramona? She was my favorite growing up. Beverly Clearly does such a great job describing what most likely goes on in the mind of a precautious young girl. Find out about her here and here is a great site with tons of fun stuff all things Ramona and Beverly Clearly. I told a friend this week that she should read these books with her daughter because her daughter reminds me of Ramona. Later that day, this interesting article arrived in my twitter in box about Ms. Clearly, who is 95! It mentions that she has written two memoirs. I may need to check those out.

Today, we are checking out Beezus and Ramona the movie. It is a combination of all the books. I have to say, I am very impressed with the cast of characters: Selena Gomez, Josh Duhamel, Ginnefer Goodwin, John Corbett, & Sandra Oh. Missy Mack was disappointed that it didn’t have her favorite parts in the movie, ‘I’m Having a Party’ & cooking her doll in the birthday cake. That Ramona! Overall, cute flick.

Recently, we went to a local bookstore, BookPeople, to see Mo Willems read and promote his two new books:

We love Mo! He is even better in person. So funny!

We got a poster and Missy Mack’s favorite book, Cat the Cat, Who’s That? signed. Missy Mack can read this book all by herself. First one ever! Mr. Willems has a great website, too, and the pigeon tweets!

There is a teacher, who I following on my teacher tweeter account, that is doing a summer tour of independent bookstores. What a fun idea! I want my child to have him as a teacher. He is super inspirational! Check or Mr. Schu Reads.

At the library, we are participating in their summer reading program. Missy Mack has filled up her first reading log and got her picture taken to hang up in the library. She is really proud. We are really proud. This time I checked out an audio book for Missy Mack to listen to in the car while we are running errands and such. Missy Mack’s grandmother also sent us all the forms for Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Half Price Books summer reading program. If you meet those requirements , you get a free book! Score!

I, myself, have had trouble getting motivated with my summer reading. I read a great young adult book that is a first in a series about a different perspective on Alice in Wonderland

and read Bossy Pants

And now I am stuck. I have started and stopped a few books. I usually eat in the summer. One a week. Not this summer. I checked this one out from the library in hopes I will be hooked.

Are you planning on seeing the last Harry Potter movie? They are always my favorite. These books go way back with Mr. Mack and I. I am sad for the whole thing to be over. Of course, the summer announcement tells me that maybe someone else doesn’t want them to be over.

I am also very excited to see The Help! Best book ever!

I’d love to hear about your summer reading.