Friday, March 31, 2017

sol17 #31: perfect timing

I did it. I actually did it. I blogged for 31 days in a row. Yes!

This challenge came at the perfect time for me. My blog had been asleep for almost two years, and I needed something to help bring it to life again. I can confidently say that the dust on my writer hands has been brushed off and I'm eager to share more.

This challenge also ends at the perfect time. Spring break begins at 3 today and we are off on a  family vacation to North Carolina. I'm planning to disconnect for a few days and have some major QT with my husband and son.

I'm looking forward to writing more and making connections with other bloggers through our comments. It really is a whole different world that left me feeling calm, confident, and ready to do more. :)

woo hoo!!! 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

sol17 #30: making a list is on my to-do list

We leave for North Carolina on Saturday, and I've been running around this week like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get ready. I'm at school late tonight for P/T conferences, so Jim texted me earlier and asked what he could do to help (sweet man). I mentioned a few things and told him I had a millions lists. Ha!

He told me to send him my lists (I keep them all on my phone) and he would help. He texted me back a few minutes later and told me he put them all in an app (wunderlist). I downloaded the app, he shared me on the lists, and he checked things off! Now we can both see the lists and check things off as we go!


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

sol17 #29: knock, knock

I hear two soft taps on the glass window of my classroom door. I look up from my group to see a fifth grade student that graduated from my Reading Room a few months ago. I smile and motion for him to come in. Thinking he is asking to borrow a book or just sit and read for a few minutes, I'm surprised when he asks me,

"What level was I at when you saw me?"

I sat for a minute thinking about how to respond. I was hesitant to give him his level (I don't like giving these out without a meaningful conversation about it), but I knew where he was going with this, so I told him.

He smiled and told me the level he is at now and we talked about how much he improved: 2 1/2 years of growth in just over a year! Absolutely amazing.

I've known this student for a few years. He struggles in a lot of areas personally and academically, so having this shining moment with him was special for both of us.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

sol17 #28: baby pictures

I've been back at work for 4 months now and this whole working mom thing is getting a bit "easier" to juggle. I knew that some "firsts" would happen while I was at work, but I wasn't prepared for how I would react.

Jim and his mom brought James to a doctor's appointment this morning and they went out to breakfast after. Around 9:30, Jim texts me a picture of James sitting in a restaurant high chair for the first time!

Of course, I smiled from ear-to-ear, but also felt a little sad that I wasn't there to witness it. I know, I'm crazy because it's just sitting in a high chair, and not his first word. But still, I wanted to be there!

Maybe it was a good thing that this "first" was something as little as sitting in a high chair. It's mentally preparing me for other firsts that will happen while I'm at work.

Thank goodness that my husband gets to see it and I get a sweet picture or video. :)

Monday, March 27, 2017

sol17 #27: chapstick addict backfire

In my typical Monday morning rush to get ready, I sprayed some fabric freshener on my spring coat and threw it into the dryer to freshen it up (#toobusydoingeveryoneelse'slaundrybutmyown). After a few minutes on the med/high heat setting, I opened the dryer door and saw my pomegranate chapstick rolling around with my coat.

I held my coat up, and after a quick inspection, noticed a few splotches of melted chapstick on it. Ugh... Into the washing machine it went.

Note to self: start checking pockets.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

sol17 #26: saving the earth one plastic bag at a time

I'm almost embarrassed to say that up until today, I've never brought reusable bags to the grocery store with me. I've been trying to be more conscious about reusing and recycling, but for some reason, whenever I leave for the store, I always forget our stash of cloth bags.

Before I left for my usual Sunday morning grocery run, I refilled the dog's water. The closet where we keep the reusable bags is right next to the water bowl, so as I was setting it down, it reminded me to grab the bags.

As I was unloading my cart at the cashier, I proudly handed over my reusable bags. Normally, I walk out with 8-10 plastic bags of groceries for the week, but all of my groceries fit into THREE of my cloth bags. Yes, three. I couldn't believe it! They didn't need to bag my eggs separate like they do with the plastic, or double bag my juice/milk containers. Everything fit so neatly into my sturdy reusable bags. Voila. I will be sure to bring them with me every time!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

sol17 #25: therapy

To me, one of the most relaxing things is taking my baby for a walk. There's something therapeutic about pushing the stroller, quietly talking to James, and hearing the various sounds in our neighborhood.

Last night, we took a long family walk and it was the perfect way to spend our Friday evening. It was 70 degrees, a nice breeze was blowing, and there were so many people out enjoying the weather. We strolled by the park, watched some kiddos climb trees, and pictured James playing on the swings in a few short months.

James, thank you for helping me slow down, relax, and take in my surroundings. <3

Friday, March 24, 2017

sol17 #24: clogging the toilet

"Mrs. Jantz! J is clogging the toilet!" she exclaims, out of breath, at recess.

"What?! How do you know that if you're out here?" I naturally respond.

"No, he's not in the bathroom! He's sitting at the end of the slide and not moving. So everyone going down is stuck behind him!"

Thank you, sweet second grader, for updating my recess lingo. :)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

sol17 #23: teething


stumble across the hall,

reach over the rail,

pacifier, back rub, shhhhh


stumble across the hall,

reach over the rail,

pacifier, back rub, shhhh


stumble across the hall,

reach over the rail,

pacifier, back rub, shhhh


stumble across the hall,

reach over the rail,

pacifier, back rub, shhhh


coffee in hand,

reach over the rail,

pacifier, back rub, shhhh

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

sol17 #22: hangman?

One of my second grade students finished up her lesson a few minutes early today, so she asked if we could play "Hangman."

Of course I said yes because it was one of my favorite games as a child and I haven't played it in years.

As we played the game, it got me thinking...

Why do we draw parts of a stick person hanging from a pole each time we guess a letter wrong? ...  This is so inappropriate... Who invented this crazy game? Oh no, is this game banned? Am I going to get in trouble?!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

sol17 #21: word nerd

I've always loved learning new words. I was the kid in school that looked forward to "word of the day" and whenever there was a glossary, I always read that first. Because of this, I get really excited to teach my students new words. Like, overly excited. I thoroughly enjoy taking apart words, discussing meanings of prefixes/suffixes, and determining parts of speech.

The other morning, my students and I dissected the word 'rediscovering.' We figured out the meanings of the two prefixes, base word, and talked about the suffix. As the students discussed and came up with their own definition, I heard one of them say. "This is so fun!"

After a split-second thought of, "Oh no! He's saying this sarcastically," I asked him, "Really?!" He replied, "Yes! It's so cool how if we know all the parts separately, then we can figure out the meaning of them together."

I love how our excitement for learning and teaching new things can easily rub off on our students. :)

Monday, March 20, 2017

sol17 #20: (non-milk) milk shake

When I was pregnant with James, I craved sweets, specifically milk shakes. I had to practice self-control and only get them every other day, and the people at the little ice cream shop down the block were starting to give me the "she's STILL pregnant" looks each time I walked in.

Three weeks after James was born, we found out he had a milk protein allergy (funny how that worked), so I had to say sayonara to the shakes. He still hasn't outgrown the allergy, and my ice cream addiction hasn't subsided either. So, I've settled on Ben and Jerry's non-dairy, which is actually pretty tasty.

Well, last night, my husband had a genius idea and blended some non-dairy ice cream with some almond milk, and holy cow (pun?) it is delicious!

He made me one again tonight (slurping it as I type this) and I'm officially addicted to non-milk milk shakes!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

sol17 #19: whoa, she exists!

Today, we met some friends and their kids at a nature center, and since it was a whopping 50 degrees, a lot of people were there enjoying the nice weather. After our hike, we walked inside the nature center, fed the babies, and looked at the animals. My friend's little boy was really into the turtles, so we parked ourselves by the indoor pond and talked for a bit.

As we were sitting there talking, I noticed 2 kiddos from my school come around the corner. They made eye contact with me and then quickly turned the other direction. I knew they noticed me because I was watching them as they walked away. They kept turning around to see if I was still there!

I wasn't going to let them get away without saying hi, so I followed them! I asked them if they were having a good time, they shyly replied, "yes," and I told them to enjoy the rest of their day.

Kids are so funny when they see their teachers outside of school! No kids, I don't absorb into the school walls, or camp out in my classroom at night. I like to get out and enjoy things around the neighborhood just like you do, so don't be shy! Say hi! :)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

sol17 #18: the dreaded black hole

As I was putting my chapstick on in my car, I hit a bump. I fumbled my chapstick, tried to catch it, but failed. In slow motion, I watched my beloved chapstick fall between my seat and the center console: the black hole of my car. UGH.

I said a few choice words under my breath because as a chapstick addict, I couldn't be without it, and we all know that when things fall between the seat and the console, they are almost always gone. Forever.

At the next stoplight, I peeked into that teeny space and could see the red cap. It was visible! Which means, I may be able to reach it. Yessss!

Not wanting to wait until I got to my destination, I smooshed my arm into the crevice, and got it. I couldn't believe I actually retrieved it! Then it got me curious as to what else was lost down there.

A pink starburst, skittles wrapper, receipt, half of a pretzel, some change, a brochure, and a cap to a baby bottle.

Does anyone else get as mad as I do when stuff falls in the dreaded black hole of your car?!

Friday, March 17, 2017

sol17 #17: it looks like a butt!

I drew two overlapping circles on the board, all ready to discuss the similarities and differences of house cats and lions with one of my second grade groups.

"Has anyone seen a chart like this before?" I asked.

"It looks like a... like a...." she says, hesitantly giggling. "Like a butt!"

Hahahaha! I never thought about that before, but a Venn Diagram really kind of looks like a butt.

I totally appreciated the "laugh so hard 'til you cry" moment this morning!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

sol17 #16: a couple of wrongs, but so many rights

My husband, Jim travels to Seattle for work once a month, and this was his week to be gone. Of course this is the week I had my summative evaluation, it snows 9 inches, and my dog's been keeping me up at night with his horrible cough (he has bronchial issues - poor thing). Jim comes home tonight (yessss!) and even though this has been a rough week, I'm super grateful for these things:

-My dad and mother-in-law coming over at 6:30 am to spend the day with James (and they even emptied the dishwasher for me). I seriously have the best family!

-Leftover meals in the fridge so I don't have to cook

-A wonderfully happy baby that I get to race home to and spend my evenings with

-James recognizing and smiling to Jim on FaceTime (the cutest thing ever)

-CJ, the man that came to shovel my sidewalk and driveway

-Ben and Jerry's dairy-free ice cream (I've gone through 2 pints this week - don't judge)

-The mani/pedi appointment I have tomorrow after school. (I know it hasn't even happened yet, but I peeled off my no chip nail polish this week due to stress, and my nails need some serious help)

-A job that I love coming to (waking up was hard, but knowing I have the best students and some amazing co-workers made my days easier)

-That Jim gets to work from home when he doesn't travel (more time spent with us - win!)

A hard week, but so much to be grateful for (and lots more that isn't listed). The point is, it's sometimes easy for me to get wrapped up in everything going "wrong," and sometimes just a simple list like this can make me realize how much "right" is happening in my life. :)


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

sol17 #15: there was a cool plot twist!

Typically, my students enter the reading room quietly. We exchange "hellos" and they take out their books to whisper read for the first 2 minutes of our group time. 

Yesterday was a little different as one of my third grade students came barreling through the door exclaiming, "There was a cool plot twist!" 

I immediately smiled for lots of reasons. One, I knew he had done his homework of completing the book. Two, he used the word plot AND knew what it meant - yay! And three, he was so excited to share about the book that he couldn't wait!

This little boy started an amazing book discussion and it was one of the best parts of my day. I love authentic learning moments like this one. :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

sol17 #14: you were pretty for 2.5 seconds

Woke up to a few inches of snow on the ground. I peeked out the window and thought to myself, "Oh it's so sparkly and pretty!"

Then I pictured my slow, slushy drive to work. Blah.

Ok, blizzard. It's the middle of March. My daffodils and tulips are coming up. You would have been perfect in January, maybe even in February. But March, no way.

You were pretty, for like 2.5 seconds. Now melt, please.

Monday, March 13, 2017

sol17 #13: we almost kissed!

On Friday at recess, a second grade student came running up to me...

"Mrs. Jantz! Mrs. Jantz! J pushed me and E so close together that we almost kissed! We were like an inch away from each other!"

I just stood there. Not knowing whether to laugh or ask him another question about the situation. So I did both. I let out a little giggle (because it was just so cute the way he told me), then asked him if they really did kiss. Ha! They didn't. Thank goodness, because I don't even know how I would respond if they really did. Seriously, kids are hilarious and I love that there is never a dull moment at school!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

sol17 #12: before the sun comes up

Call me weird, but I enjoy waking up early on the weekends. The house is peaceful, I'm usually pretty productive, and I like watching the natural light pour through the windows as the sun rises.

It's currently 7:18, the sun is just coming up, I'm on my second cup of coffee (yum!), laundry has been started, dishwasher done, and I'm about to knock out an hour or two of work so I can enjoy the rest of the day with my family. Perfect start to my day :)

Beautiful sunrise this morning from the kitchen window.
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

sol17 #11: It has memories!

E - "Mrs. Jantz, I just finished the last page in my notebook!" 

Me- "Wow, E! You've done so much writing, you should be proud!"

E - "What should I do with it?"

Me - "Take it home and show your wonderful writing to your family."

S - "Or you could just throw it away." 

E - "I'm not going to throw it away! It has memories!"

Right on, kid. Or should I say, write on, kid. I love that his little 7-year old self knows that there are great memories in that notebook that he can cherish. And hopefully, he taught his friend a small lesson about not throwing away all his hard work. :)

Friday, March 10, 2017

sol17 #10: thawing out

Normally, I like going out for recess duty. It's a chance to get some fresh air and chat with kiddos I don't normally see. Well, today was a different story. The wind chill temp was 20 degrees at noon, and that's just plain cold. Chicago has been pretty mild this winter, so I'm not as used to this frigidness as I would be in years past.

As soon as I stepped outside, the burst of cold air immediately made my eyes water, the wind was going through my down jacket, and I could feel the ice cold cement through the 1-inch rubber sole on my gym shoe. All I kept thinking was, "Stay in the sun, stay in the sun."

I've been inside for 15 minutes now and I'm still thawing out...

had to make the best of it and take a selfie with these happy boys!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

sol17 #9: work can wait

I've been feeling super overwhelmed this week with a million things I need to complete before my summative evaluation meeting in a few days. I got home from work yesterday afternoon and charged up my laptop with the intension of working for an hour or so after dinner.  We ate early and got everything cleaned up by 5:30, so I was actually feeling pretty motivated to get some paperwork done!

However, James was being super adorable in his walker - going back and forth from the kitchen to the family room, crashing into furniture, backing up, and figuring out how to get himself out of his "traffic jam."  He was smiling, giggling, and feeling super proud of his newfound driving skills.

After playing with him for awhile, I picked him up out of his walker and laid him down on his blanket. I took a peek over at my charged up laptop and decided instead that I would lay down next to my baby. So, instead of working, I played and snuggled up with my boy. Knowing that I won't get these moments back with my son, my work can wait. :)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

sol17 #8: and the reading ribbon goes to...

At the end of each reading group, I write a positive statement on a strip of construction paper and award it to a student. This statement comes from an observation I made during our 30 minute session, so it is specific to that student. I read aloud the statement, we all clap, and the strip of paper is stapled into a bracelet that the student can wear on his/her wrist. Pretty simple, and we (not so) cleverly named it the reading ribbon :)

After a few weeks of handing out the reading ribbons, one of my little second graders asked if I had a blank one. While I was writing one out to a student, she was thoughtfully writing one out to me! It was adorable and totally made my day.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

sol17 #7: best friends?

For the last few weeks, James has been SUPER interested in our dog, Willy. James reaches out to "pet" him, squeals when he walks by, and tries to chase after him in his walker. Willy, on the other hand, wants very little to do with James. He will give him the occasional kiss, but other than that, Willy pretty much leaves James alone. 

Until tonight, we got the bumbo seat out for dinner, strapped James in, and started feeding him his butternut squash. James LOVES his food. And Willy, well, he loves food too. So a friendship was formed tonight. Over a shared love of butternut squash. 

I know this is just the beginning of many meals they will be sharing. :)

Monday, March 6, 2017

sol17 #6: I said I would never be THAT mom

Pre-James, I said I would never be THAT mom that has a wall of baby toys in the living room. We live in a ranch with an open floor plan, so you can basically see the whole house from the front door. I wanted our living room to remain somewhat free of baby clutter, so at the end of the day, Jim and I could sit down, as adults, and not trip over a million toys. Not to mention, if a guest were to walk through our front door, they wouldn't be greeted by a mound of primary-colored, noise-making things.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. Jim is bringing up another large toy from the basement and sets it smack dab in the middle of the living room floor. It's a sitting/standing piano thing with so many musical attachments that James can do a 360 in it and have something to play with the whole time. It's pretty cool and James LOVES it!

While sitting on the floor and playing with James, I took a look around the room and felt so incredibly grateful to have this wall of full of baby things. It means our child is healthy, growing, and able to play and have fun. It means our home is filled with more laughs, family, friends, and love. 

I looked back at James and thought to myself, "I'm so glad to be THAT mom." <3

Our play zone :)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

sol17 #5: you're teacher-voicing me!

My husband and I were on our way home from Indiana last night and we swooped through a drive-thru to grab a snack. I have many pet peeves, but one thing I despise most is when you don't get napkins in a take-out bag.

Pulling away from the drive-thru window, I ask Jim to check the bag for napkins. None. Usually we keep some in the glovebox, but our stash was depleted. 

Fearing a greasy steering wheel, I turn to Jim and say sternly, "I just don't get how that's not a routine thing - to put napkins in a take-out bag!"

His immediate reaction, "You're teacher-voicing me!" 

Whoops... didn't mean to teacher voice my innocent husband. 

By the way, Jim let me use his sleeve as a napkin on the way home. #superherohusband

Saturday, March 4, 2017

sol17 #4: girls night

Friday night plans are hard. Just plain hard. Any teacher knows that by Friday at 3pm, all you want to see in your near future is your bed.

Well, I knew I wasn't going to see my bed until well after my usual bedtime. I had plans in my calendar for a while to go to my friend Sara's for a girls night and even though I was exhausted, I was very much looking forward to a night out with my great friends, and some I haven't seen in a few months!

After sitting in traffic for almost 2 hours (insert large eye roll emoji), I walk into her home, grab a plate, and fill it with some yummy apps. I took a deep breath, sat down, and just relaxed - ahhh... Girl talk and good food was exactly the type of calm and relaxation I needed after a long week. :)

Friday, March 3, 2017

SOL17 #3: victory dance

One of my 3rd grade students has been working so hard on retelling the important parts of a book. About four weeks ago, we set a goal that he would score 3/3 on the retell part of his next running record. Two weeks ago, I sat down with him to check his progress and his score was 1/3, the same as it was when we started. I modeled a new strategy for him, he practiced it for a few days, and I assessed him yesterday.

After he finished reading, he confidently and enthusiastically told me ALL the important parts of the story IN HIS OWN WORDS! Cue the clouds parting and sunbeams shining down on this kiddo :) As I finished up my notes, I look up to see him dancing. 

I asked, "A, what's the cool dance for?"

A - "It's my victory dance! For reaching my goal." 

Ugh, my heart melted. I love when kiddos recognize their successes and celebrate them. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

SOL17 #2: time of your life

This morning on my way to work, Green Day's "Time of your Life" came on (which, by the way, I actually found out is NOT called Time of your Life, but Good Riddance - I'm terrible with song names).

Anyway, this song reminds me of my 8th grade dance. It was the last song that the DJ played, and as the lights came on in the gym, everyone was crying and hugging like we would never see each other again. Typical 8th grade drama since we'd all be back at school the following Monday!

I love how songs can instantly bring you back to certain memories in your life. :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

SOL17 #1: flooding the kitchen (spoiler alert: cute baby in the tub)

James LOVES his bath. I mean his arms shake, feet kick, and he makes crazy noises when we set him in his tub. This is one of his favorite times of the day, and who can blame him? He gets to chill out in warm water, enjoy his favorite book, and splash around.

The other night, James was splashing around so much that water was flowing out of the bathtub, over the counter and onto the floor. Of course as I'm trying to clean up the water, he just splashes more and it's everywhere! Maybe it's time we throw in the towel and switch him to the actual bathtub :)

Seriously though... he just makes me smile :)

sol18: it's okay to cry

Being a parent requires an insane amount of patience, love, and understanding. It's the best and hardest job in the world. It means mis...