And remember, wherever you go, there you are.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

Elf on the Shelf.

I decided to go ahead and do Elf on the Shelf with the girls this year. But, I wanted to do a little something different with ours. I wanted to tie Jesus into it somehow. Since we are really working on Jesus's birth and the true reason for Christmas and what we should be celebrating, I figured it would just be best for us to tie this in with our Elf on the Shelf tradition!

So, I started with getting the book, the movie, and the little boy elf. (Just because he's my favorite one!) I had typed out a letter from Santa but due to a goofy printer and my lack of preparing before hand, I got to HANDWRITE the WHOLE thing in my disguised Santa handwriting. ;) LUCKY me. 

So, I put all of the items together, wrapped it up and put it in a package. Sienna is a very observant squirt, so I decided to suck it up and use real stamps to make it even more realistic. So, below is the elf before he went out on our front step to wait for the girls to find him.

In the morning, Sienna went to check our mail to see if we had any because we "forgot to check it" when we got back from Grandma and Grandpa's house (SILLY US!!).  


She found something. With their names on it!!! It was from Santa Claus at the North Pole. She brought it into the kitchen for all of us to open and see what was inside!

Here is a copy of the letter that Santa Claus wrote to the girls. 

All of the things they woke up to this morning. Both are kind of excited. They have a lot of questions about it. We will read the book tonight and watch the movie some other time when we have a little more time on our hands to do it. 

Another thing I changed about our elf tradition, is we can play/talk to him during the day. 
The girls opening the package from S.Claus/St.Nicholas/"The Boss". 

Sienna holding our elf.

Isla holding him!

(She was pretty nervous about him after the letter. Even a little "scared", maybe??. She did warm up after the story and after we hung out with him tonight, though.)

Then, it was time to head to daycare and school for the day. SO, we discussed name possibilities all the way there. We thought about Zeke, Silly, Trouble, Oogle, Buddy, etc. None of those really rang for all three of us. The one name that we came up with that everybody seemed to like was....

So, meet Mick.
Our Christmas Elf sent to us from the North Pole.

We can't wait to see what goes on in our house over the Christmas season!!

Mr. Mick

Our last page in the book!! Welcome, MICK.

Mick sat here doing this (watching over my hot cocoa) while I read the story about Elf on the Shelf to the girls. Loved all of their questions and comments.

"I'm glad we can play with our elf. I wonder if Santa made that rule before we got Mick."
"I hope Mick doesn't forget to come back tonight."
"Mick heard me say that, didn't he, Mom...... *sad face* .." (After Sienna talked back)
"So, will he go to the North Pole every night?"
" I might not sleep tonight. I want to see if I can watch him come alive."

---and OUT.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent Idea!-- BOOKS

Advent Idea

I mentioned before how I love love love holidays. Another favorite of mine is Christmas. Because.... well, why wouldn't it be?!!? So much warm fuzzes are found throughout the Christmas season. I've got a few ideas for this time of year. Some are carefully thought out for a l-o-n-g time, and some are spur-of-the-moment. All are a part of the true meaning of Christmas. Time spent together with the ones you love. Remembering the reason for the season is not in the fancy packages or getting/receiving. 

I came across an idea earlier on in the year (from pinterest) that I knew would be something I'd want to do for my girls.
One thing we do a lot in my house is read stories. I love reading with my girls and books are a huge part of our every-day lives. 

My job is teaching preschool. I am a scholastic book teacher, too. Therefore, I have access to amazing deals right at my fingertips. But I still knew money was a little tight and that I didn't want to spend a TON of it to do this project. Thank God for the fact that I had such great access to these books.

(p.s. any family/friends that want to order through me, let me know and I'll get ya hooked up! ;)) 

The idea was: 
Collect 25 books.
During the month of december, your family opens on book per night.
Every night until Christmas, there's a new story for your family to enjoy.

I went a step further and got strictly Christmas books.

I did not order them all from Scholastic. Because, even though this is a great money-saver..... I am a Barnes and Noble addict. So, there'd be no way (at all) of keeping me out of that store if I was planning such a wonderful activity that involved BOOKS.

I started collecting in August/September. Every time I went to Barnes and Noble, Every time I placed orders for my class, Every time there was a Books Are Fun sale at school.... I was ordering a couple/buying a couple books for our collection.

Some of the books I collected.
I added a few more books about the Nativity and the story of Jesus.

Stacked books, right after wrapping.

Books spread out.

Books under the tree, waiting to be opened

I put the books under the tree tonight! The girls were very excited to see their advent activity! :) We will begin to open on December 1st. 

I can't wait. We don't have very many Christmas books right now in our home, so this collection will continue to bring us joy every year. I know of some books they will be thrilled to read, and I know of some illustrations that I can't wait to be looking at!!

Merry Christmas Season, everybody! :)

Thanksgiving Post

My Thanksgiving (A few days late)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I will probably tell you that about almost every holiday, though. But I love holidays! I love reasons to be excited and with family and friends. Give me something special and I want it EXTRA special. :)

My girls and I begin our Thanksgiving with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (OBVIOUSLY!!!) How is it complete without the floats, balloons, marching bands, etc. And Santa Claus at the end?? It's timeless.

(History Lesson: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade began in 1924. It consisted of floats, marching bands, and some animals from the Central Park Zoo.)

*I and S watching Santa on the t.v.*

*cousins table downstairs!*

*Another table for the kids. NOTE: The awesome activities set out for the kids to make. :)* Mom does such a great job with this! I love it.

*PIES!!! My Aunt does these. :) They are WONDERFUL!!!-- these are three of the MANY she made.*

MY Favorite is the pumpkin pie *Pictured BELOW*. What's your favorite pie?!??

Mmmmm... and these delicious French Pastries made by another aunt. :)

My Dad's family all came over for the Holiday (except my Grandpa who had to spend it in the hospital-- BUT DID GET OUT FINALLY!! :)) We had so much fun visiting and hanging out. It's so much fun.

I also love how people throughout the month of Thanksgiving would do the whole month of what they're Thankful for. 

When the girls and I would say our prayer every day before dinner, we did our own version of this. It makes me smile what they come up with sometimes. 

And since I didn't participate in it on Facebook, I'll share some of what I'm thankful for right now:

My family who has always been there for me, My parents who have always been super supportive of me, My sisters and brother who are always a joy to be around, My two beautiful daughters who mean the whole world to me and give me a reason to wake up in the morning and smile, My faith which continues to grow every single day, a job because even if it isn't the best-paying job, at least I can get the bills paid. I am also thankful for our two pet hermit crabs, they've entertained us while they've been with us. For living in Iowa, it's taught be to be grounded and enjoy the simple things in life. I am thankful for my education. (Both growing up and college- I'm glad I had a great education and a foundation for being a life-long learner. I am thankful for books because I love to read. For a comfy couch, it's great for snuggling and for sleeping on if I can't sleep in my bed. For my friends because they have always been there for me. I am thankful for the people I work with because it makes it enjoyable to go to work. For slippers on my feet because I love soft things on my feet when I'm moseying around my home. I'm thankful for my camera and my phone because I love to take pictures all the time and look back on our memories. I'm thankful for my positive attitude because it makes life easier and happier. For sunny days because it makes me happy. And cloudy days because it makes the sunny days even more enjoyable. I'm thankful for my Summers OFF because I love to spend time with my family and to do a LOT of amazing things. I'm thankful for malls because shopping is so much fun and because the girls and I love to go to them even if it's only window shopping. For Subway in Ida Grove because it helps me when I haven't made dinner yet. :) I'm thankful for a car that works, I don't know how I'd make it in a small town in central Iowa if I didn't have one. I'm thankful for the decorations on my wall that make it a fun place to come home to. For my two daughters when they are playing nicely because it's so fun to listen to them play house and school, etc. For them to be able to take dance lessons. They love it and I loves watching them. And for so many more things that aren't even crossing my  mind right now!!!! And this goes way past November. I think it's important to thank God for these things, even if they seem small at the time, because it is through him that it is all possible. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Portable SANDbox!

No sandbox? No yard? NO PROBLEM!!!!

Here's how we overcome that in our nice, little apartment. We get ourselves a simple clear storage container/tote (Sold/found at your local Wal-Mart, Shopko, Dollar store, Kmart, etc.) *In our house/in my classroom, I always have a nice collection of these in various sizes for activities such as this... and MANY more!)* 

We then got a box of sand. It's so fun! This stuff was SO soft. I've only been to a white sand beach once in my life, but this is what it was like. LOVELY. This is what I had, you can get it at AMAZON. *BUT you can definitely use whatever kind of sand you want. ;)*

We decided to put seashells in our sandbox THIS time. We've used many other objects, too. We've put dinosaurs, shovels, little styrofoam letters/numbers, etc. Be creative! 

Here are some pictures of Miss I playing with her sand. There was a while there where her little baby was playing in the sandbox with her. She loved playing with the seashells and digging for treasure.

In fact, wouldn't that be fun?! She was a pirate for Halloween, I think it'd be neat if we'd get some of her "booty" (necklaces, bracelets, jewels, etc.) to dig for. We could make a pirate sword, a treasure map, and go to TOWN in a sandbox activity. MAYBE next time. ;)

Sifting through the sand! 

*SO SOFT!* She was closing her eyes trying to see how many seashells she could find "WITHOUT looking"!

* Here she was trying to find a perfect seashell to "listen to the ocean" with. :) She's such a ham!! Love it.

Au Revoir,

Miss Becker's Preschoolers Voted!!! Have You?!?


Today is a pretty BIG day here for our country. Adults in our country are voting from coast to coast! But what about our little squirts! Do they  know what is going on? Do they know the presidential candidates?  What IS our country? Where do we live? How do you vote? Who gets to vote? What does a president do??? Who was the VERY first president of the United States?

So many questions! Such little kids. :) So, why not educate them as soon as you can! Today in my 4 year-old preschool class we got our "ELECTION ON"!! We talked about the two presidential candidates, what they are running for, and why it is important to vote.

The first thing we voted on though, just to practice, was which book to read today! We haven't voted yet in our classroom so I needed to make it clear that you get to chose one book. You get one vote. You stick with your one vote, and the book with the most votes is the BOOK WE GET TO READ!!!! Sounds fun, right?! It sure was!

THEN, we got to vote for the "REAL THING". 
Presidential CANDIDATES.
Will it be Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?? 
Barack Obama has been our president the past four years. He gets to run again to be the president.
Mitt Romney wants to be president, too.
We need to vote who we think will make the best decisions for everybody that lives in The United States of America. We need to be good citizens. We need to practice our rights.

Each student wrote their own name (because we also need to practice writing our  names, right?!) in BLUE on a WHITE piece of paper. You got to go up to our voting poster and put your name on the side of the candidate you want to be president.

Barack Obama got 7 votes.
Mitt Romney got 10 votes.

Who won in Miss Becker's class?
Mitt Romney because he had MORE votes. 10 is bigger than 7. 7 is smaller than 10.
We are doing our duty and being responsible citizens.
When we turn 18 and are "REALLY BIG" we get to vote for real! :) 

And for us responsible voters, we got to enjoy a beautiful RED, WHITE, and BLUE "I VOTED!!!" bracelet. :)


Monday, November 5, 2012

List ONE: Travel to

Here is an ongoing list of places that this girl (ME!) would love to travel to before it is too late. I'm a huge list-maker. Which would surprise a number of people I'm sure (mostly my mother and probably a few others who think I'm a very big scatter-brain..... which I'm neither agreeing with NOR denying). 
But I do enjoy my sticky note lists, my lists on my palm, the ones on my phone, and wherever else I have a place for a list. The problem with my lists is they usually get lost shortly after being compiled. THEREFOR, losing their purpose. :/ 

The good thing about this list is it'll be saved right here. And I can add to it whenever I feel the need. :) And if you have any wonderful suggestions, please, DO TELL!!!

Ready, Set, GO!

Ashley's List of Places She Wants To Go/ See/ Visit AND The Reasons WHY!

1. Japan - From a young age, I have had a love for Asia. Asian food, Asian decor, Asian fashion, just.... Asian culture, as a whole. I took a class in college called "Japan" and therein lies my want/desire to visit this fascinating, beautiful, country rich in EVERYTHING I find attractive!!!!

2. Ireland- DUH. Do I really need to explain this? Can you say BEAUTIFUL?!?! And Irish accents?! and... red hair... and leprechauns.. St. Patrick. Sheep. The amazing history of this country. It all is so appealing to this girl right here.

3. Egypt - Something about those wonderful ancient tombs. The pyramids, the sphinx. I want to see the desert and the everything. It's full of history. (Are you beginning to see that I'm sort of in love with places with a rich history?!?!) I remember reading about this place in my little weekly readers in elementary school. Reading about King Tutankhamun.... etc. See a camel not at the zoo, and ride on it. People, can it get any greater than that?!?!

4. Disney World - Isn't it every little girls' dream to go to Disney World?? Well, I had that dream and I have never been there to this day. I'm a young ALMOST 27 years old and I want to see the Princesses, go on the rides, see Mickey and Minnie, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, etc. I want to experience all that is Disney and get the autographs to go with it. See a show, do it all. Sounds like such a magical time, and I want to do it now! :D 

t.b.c. 'cause you know there's A LOT more!!!!!

Sight Word Practice/game

Sight Word Practice.

Somewhere on Pinterest, I had seen somebody use sight words in cupcake liners which I thought was a faBULOUS idea! However, it was getting close to bed time. I didn't have time to put them in sentences, and we were just doing it at home so my daughter could get some practice in! 
So, we wrote out her words on the cupcake liners, skipped putting them into the cupcake pan, and just worked with this. It was a couple of days before Halloween so we had PLENTY of those little pumpkin candies floating around... ;) I decided that we would make our own game up with this.

First, I would say a word. Then, Miss S would find the word and put a pumpkin in it. After she found the first word, I'd move onto the next. Soon, Miss S had covered all of her words with a pumpkin. 
Then, we switched roles. Miss S would have to read the word, and I would cover it up. This way she was both recognizing it visually and then she also had to go back and read it to me. 

Soon, Miss I wanted in on the game. I knew it wouldn't be long before we had some extra help in this game!!! So, We all took turns reading and covering with pumpkins. *Little squirt is only 3 years-old, so she was on "mommy's team" and we worked as a pair*. 

Note: Her word list was longer than the 12 words we had set out, so when we were done with 12 words, I would keep the more difficult words on our "game board" to make sure she would get more practice with those. 


Note also: we used pumpkins this time, but you could use candy corn, small rocks, poker chips, pom poms, or any other small item you can find!!! It really is a fun game, and gave her lots of practice. It was quick and simple. But very helpful. 

Colorful [glue] Art!

Colorful Art!!!!

 The other day in PRESCHOOL, I wanted to do something new. I wanted something a little bit different and definitely WAY fun!!! I thought gluing would be fun since we hadn't really gotten the younger kids (my three year-old classes) as "into" the glue as my fours.

Now, I don't know if you've ever "introduced" kiddos to a bottle of glue before, but it is FUN!!! Way fun. They love squeezing. They love globs. They love messes. They just love it all. Such a big gooey bunch of FUN.

And thanks to Pinterest (duh).... I had come across a few different ways to make this happen in a fun way. I loved all the ideas about how to change glue into a colorful masterpiece.

I took six of our almost emptied bottles of regular, white Elmer's school glue. Then, I had some Colorations Liquid Watercolor Paints!!!((Here))
I put a few drops of the liquid water color (And I wasn't shy about this, either ;)) into the half-empty or so bottles of white glue. I used the stick end of a paintbrush to stir my watercolor into the glue. Then, I refilled the glue bottles and added more watercolor as needed until it was all mixed together and made the pretty, bright, wonderful colors I was trying to achieve.

I made yellow, red, green, blue, and purple.  The kids had so much fun with this. I got out my stack of paper plates for them to do their art on. They had such a wonderful time with it!!! 

Later, my daughter came in to the room and saw it right away. She's in first grade and she had a great time drawing more elaborate pictures with it. I've seen many people use it for other, more structured art projects in their classroom. 

For my three year-olds, though.... without a lot of experience with glue, I would say it was a HIT!!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Back into it.

I have had a thought on my mind for quite some time now. Actually a few thoughts, but all are related to one topic. The topic: dating. 
I have been divorced "officially" for a year now. We have been separated for two years. Which is longer than we were together, so I'd say I'm pretty much on the "ok" to date now. I'd say that I've had enough time to be upset about it, to be sad about it, question it, whatever else you need to do to get over a broken marriage. 
I have dated a couple of people that were sort of more serious than a couple of dates. But, I know I wasn't ready for it. I know it probably wasn't right for the girls. But now that I feel the time is right, I'm a little nervous. 
Isn't that crazy?! I should want to at this point, but I'm nervous to step into it again. 
Well, what are any pointers out there or experiences you've had with young children and stepping back into those "dating waters" again? Either yourself or friends/family of yours. 
Au Revoir,

Friday, November 2, 2012

Art Board for the Classroom

Here is a photo of the bulletin board in my classroom right by our art center. I love this art board. I'm sitting at my desk right now during a teacher work day. I'm at one of those times of the day where I have done most of my "to do" list, and my  mind is just a little frazzled. I'm taking a moment to listen to my pandora radio and regroup. Looking up, I see this board, with a wonderful Picasso quote to enforce that yes, "every child is an artist". 

Even my daughter has a couple art pieces up there that she adds when she comes to my classroom after school.

I love sharing art in the home and at school. What are some ways that you show off your little one's art either at home or in the classroom?? 

Please, do share! We would love to see all of your ideas.

My Blog Intro

I thought I would begin my blog with a little introduction of myself. I figure you might all want to know a little about my background. This would help in understanding where I come from, some of what my beliefs are, and an appreciation for what I am doing.

First off, my name is Ashley and I've grown up in the midwest. Most of my life has been in Iowa, but I have lived also in Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska. I have made many wonderful friends and memories that will be with me forever.
I have always had a deep desire for learning. I am always curious about why things are the way they are, and also have a curiosity for other people. 

I spent my first year of college at Northwest Missouri State University (GO BEARCATS!!) where I pursued my degree in Elementary Education. 

After my first month home, I found I was pregnant with my first child. I never expected in a million years it would happen to me. But it did, and with the help of my family and friends, and a huge jump into my faith, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

My daughter was born when I was only two months in to my twentieth year of life. She ( Miss S) changed it for the best, and she was truly a gift from God at a time when maybe I needed it.

I finished going to school to attain my degree (which was, in the end, a double major in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education with endorsements in English and Social Studies!), only I moved home to do it. I got a job working full-time at a local daycare. I put in 40+ hours, had a full-time student schedule, lived by myself with my daughter, and even had to work a part-time job to make ends meet and make sure it was all possible.

Throughout the next few years, and a few bumps in the road, I was engaged, married, had another daughter (my second, beautiful, wonderful, lovely ..... Little Miss I), and also divorced.

Two years after my Little Miss I was born, and when my Miss S was only 5, I landed my first job opportunity. It was to teach preschool in a small school district in Iowa. I took it without hesitation. I moved an hour away from my family in order to conquer my dreams, and to start a life with my two daughters.

I love learning. I love challenges. I want to do so much in life, and yet I want to share it with others. I figured that blogging would be a great way for me to do just that.

Here I will share recipes I enjoy and do not enjoy. I will share activities I do in school and at home. I'll just give you a little insight on what is the life of Ashley. :) And please, feel free to comment and share with me your opinion.

Au Revoir,
Miss B

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