Saturday, July 30, 2011

Two Birds, One Stone

I realized this weekend that time is quickly slipping away from my summer and I need to get some items from my Summer Bucket List crossed off already! 

I've been thinking a lot lately about my friends and how lucky I am to have each and every one of them.  So, I decided to write a few letters and I included a heartfelt surprise in each one! 

I decided to send letters to my friends Katy and Roxy.  They both had been eyeing a piece of the jewelry that I sell so I packaged one up for each of them with the letter.   It's only a small token of my friendship, but I think it's important that we tell the people we love and appreciate that we do love and appreciate them more often!

Summer Bucket List

1.Trip to the beach
2. Read a book, or two, or three
3. Start a new tradition at home
4. Give a heartfelt surprise to someone
5. Give a good report to a manager about an employee
6. Extreme Makeover: Kindergarten Closet Edition
7. Begin writing a children's book
8. Clean out all 4 3 closets (one down, three to go!)
9. Try Yoga again (my friend Kristy invited me to go...I have been a slacker, but am still hoping to go soon!)
10. Write a letter to the editor
11. Write a letter to a friend
12. Go on a picnic
13. Start a blog
14. Learn about Guided Math Groups (meeting twice this week to talk about it)
15. Go to a concert
16. Finally beat my husband at a game of Clue: The Office edition
17. Complete Family Trust Grant (changed from Foundation to Family trust b/c I missed the deadline)
18. Complete and mail in STAR Teacher Application

Friday, July 29, 2011

Partnership Conference

Helllloooo Friday morning! 

I was up and at 'em early this Friday morning to attend the 2nd Annual Partnership Conference for Educator Renewal at Winthrop University.  Last year my school entered into a partnership with Winthrop as they restructured their internship program through the NetScope grant.  Internships for seniors at Winthrop in the College of Ed will now be year long. I think this is a great move on their part and these teacher candidates will greatly benefit from it!  They will get to see the same children in the same classroom from start to finish! 

Since this is the first year of our partnership, this is the first opportunity I've had to attend this conference.  I get to choose 4 sessions to attend after the General Session.  The theme of the day is "Looking Back, Moving Forward."

And wow, what a GREAT day!!  I got to learn about some new motivation tricks, action research, how I can better support a teacher candidate that will be interning in my classroom, working with students of poverty, and co-teaching.

Just to name a few.

The motivation session was all about remembering to celebrate the small stuff.  Not every student is going to score an academic touchdown.  We can and should cheer for just a catch!

I would love to attempt some action research with my new Math Out Of The Box kit.  It's all still "in the box", literally, right now so I've got some work to do!

Co-Teaching is something I never really learned about in college, but am excited to try.  The statistics for impact this model has on student achievement is astounding!

It's days like these that get me really excited to get back into my classroom!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shopping Spree(s) and a Free Sweet Tea!

It's been happening all summer long. 

I try to avoid it.

I try to save my money instead of spend it.

Let me introduce myself.....

I'm Mrs. Lochel, and I'm a kindergarten classroom shop-aholic!

It doesn't matter where we are or where we go, I am always on the lookout for items for my classroom.  It's like a little sensor in my brain that always stays lit.  It's always thinking and helping me see how regular items could be used to benefit my students in my classroom.  My sensor has a "Good Deal" radar on it too!  That's what leads me to the clearance racks and dollar spots!  You all know what I'm talking about!

As I've been unloading all my summer finds into my classroom this week, I've snapped a few pics and wanted to share!

Alphabet stickers can be used for so many things!  I am planning on using these in alphabet books for the children.  I am going to create the books before school begins and the children will add words/stickers/pictures to each page as we learn about each letter. The were only $1 a pack at Target!

Now, I love a good art project!!  I found these dish scrubbers for just $1 a piece at Target.  I am planning on putting paint in them instead of dish soap for the children to paint with!  I hope the paint isn't too thick.  If it works, the texture should be pretty cool!

Much like the ABC stickers, the foam sticky numbers can be used for so much!  I think I will make use of these at the beginning of the school year during our number sense unit.  The children can order them, match and stick them to groups of items, or sort them. Only $1 a pack at Target!

Hooray for number/quantity matching puzzles!!  Only $1 at Target.  I can use these as morning "wake up work" or as a math center!

Now, come MARCH, I am going to be all set!!  Target has gone all out with Dr. Seuss materials!  I got cups and plates!!  I am stickler for recycling and reducing waste whenever possible.  When I realized how much trash my class was creating using disposable snack cups, plates, napkins, coffee filters, etc, we immediately switched to reusable.  I can't wait to break these out in March!

Only $1 at Target!

Mr. Lochel took me to lunch today after my last shopping spree and come to find was FREE SWEET TEA day at McAllisters!  Lucky us! 

Happy Shopping, my friends! 

What good deals have you found? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Here is what I'm loving on this last wonderful Wednesday in July:

I'm loving that I get to teach the Lunch and Learn program at my school for this week and next.  I don't have to be there until 9:30 each morning, but I feel like it's helping me get back into the routine of getting up!  School is starting soon!

I'm loving that my Search Team at church is narrowing down the field for a new Associate Pastor for Christian Ed/DCE.  We are meeting tonight to hopefully plan some initial phone interviews.  I am so grateful that I get to be a part of this process. 

I'm loving Target's Dollar Spot!  I have found the coolest things for my classroom there....for only $1!!  I have a "Shopping Spree" post in draft right now and will post all of my fun finds soon.

I'm loving the flexibility of Mr. Lochel's new job!  It is awesome!

I'm loving this new book I'm reading.  Not loving the's a little heavy.....especially for a "Young Adult" book, but, I am reading it for my book club.  I couldn't put it down last night.  Got half way through in one sitting.  It already has a powerful message about how what you say and do can affect others directly and indirectly and the impact that it can have on their life.  It's called Thirteen Reasons Why.

I'm loving that I am actually trying out some of the ideas found on Pinterest!  This was my goal instead of just pinning and wishing and hoping!  Here are two pins that I've already started on my own.....

This one for my home.....

And this one for my classroom......

I'm loving that I have so many wonderful things to love

Link up with here with Jamie at This Kind of Love and tell me about what YOU are loving today!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A True Summer Fun-Day!

If you asked 100 teachers what they missed the most during our 180 days of work with the children, the response I bet you'd get the most is...........LUNCH OUT!!  It's the first thing we do when a workday rolls around and it's something I love to do in the summer time.  It just always amazes me to see all the other people "out to lunch" on weekday.  Makes me wonder what they do that allows them such flexibility. 

Today I got to have a lunch date with three of my most favorite people! 

Lori, Colin, and Landon

I met Lori 2 years ago when her oldest son, Colin, was starting 1st grade.  I knew instantly that Lori was not only an amazing mom to her two sweet boys, but that we would be friends beyond our professional relationship.  I could "joke" with her in the first minutes of our time together at "Meet the Teacher".  She had come prepared with a list of questions and after the first five I even said to her, "You're gonna be trouble aren't you?"  We've been friends ever since.  I was so blessed to learn that Landon, Lori's youngest son, would be in my Kindergarten class the next year.  Lori has laughed and cried with me about the children, my fear of the dentist, the loss of my brothers, family, jobs, and just the ups and downs of life in general.

We had a yummy lunch at Don Pedro and of course, shared a lot of laughs.  In the same shopping center was a place called "Parrot U".  This place was full of squawking, beautiful, colorful, squawking birds! We talked and danced with them all. 

The boys got to pick out a feather to keep. 

From there, I headed straight to the grocery store.  I had to prepare a side for Supper Club tonight!  The hosting couple planned to take us on boat ride first and then come back to their home for supper.  I knew instantly what I wanted to make!  A few years ago I found a recipe in Rachael Ray's magazine.  The May 2008 issue focused on a Block Party and what to make.  Loaded Baked Potato Salad was calling my name! 

I do not consider myself a good cook by any means, but this recipe is really, really easy.  And, for me to say that, you have to believe it!  What makes this so easy for me is the amount of ingredients.  I can count them on one hand and one finger: potatoes, bacon, cheese, sour cream, butter, and green onions.

GET READY......I am going to share the only kitchen trick I know.....

After you chop up the green onion, you can save the bottom half, put them in some water and guess what??? 

THEY WILL GROW BACK!  Have you ever tried this?  I remember hearing this from the winner of one of the cooking shows on Food Network.  I've tried it before and actually used what grew several times. 

Here is what Rachael Ray's final product looks like.  Mine wasn't as pretty, but, it sure was good!

So here's to a true summer fun-day......and here's to many more!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

# 10 Write a letter to the editor

So I am finally able to cross off another item on my Summer Bucket List! 

#10 Write a letter to the editor my favorite columnist

Ok, ok, so I changed it a little bit.  However, since I am the sole proprietor of this list I reserve the right to alter any entry I wish at any point in time. 

Here is my email that I sent to Craig Wilson after the July 20th edition of his column "The Final Word".

Dear Mr. Wilson, 
Good morning!  I am an avid reader of your column- first turned onto it from a 3 day workshop spent talking and thinking about writing with Katie Wood Ray.  I so enjoy when Wednesday finally rolls around again and I get to delight in your stories!  It is my husband that makes use of the rest of the paper. 
Today, I happened to score a free copy (making this Wednesday EVEN better!) because I am in New Jersey serving on a multi state educator panel for ETS. 
The first thing that popped into my head after picturing your "altercation" with the man in the fancy foreign car was a poster I recently "pinned" to my boards on Pinterest that reads: I'm not bossy.  I just know what you should be doing. 
I am a teacher, a kindergarten teacher, and, when you spend the majority of your time, well, bossing around children all day it can sometimes make for a slightly troubled transition back into society.  Everyone should listen to me, obviously.  I've spent all day requiring 24 five year olds to.  It is hard to fight the urge to not tell others what to do when I am outside the four walls of my classroom. 
So, here's what I'm wondering, Mr. Wilson, what is your excuse? 
Now, don't get me wrong.  I have seen it all before.  The whole scene.  I know people do wrong and get upset when they know it and are being called out on it.  But, I can't help but wonder if some of that anger is based on the fact that YOU, or whoever is doing the calling out, is not the enforcer of the law! 
Because of your previous experience, I can empathize with the fact that you are a bit more sensitive when it comes to crossing the street.  But, I'm just saying I bet the rage filled driver wouldn't have had that reaction had you been in a nice blue uniform with a shiny badge. 
Maybe you were just doing your job as a citizen of D.C., or maybe you were just looking out for this man's safety, or maybe, just maybe, you were channeling your inner teacher and being a little bossy. 
Looking forward to next Wednesday, 
Lauren Alexander Lochel
Kindergarten Teacher
Sugar Creek Elementary School
2010-2011 Fort Mill School District Teacher of the Year

I was very excited that he not only wrote me back, but also found the humor in my email!  Here is how he responded:

I'll go with my "inner teacher!" Thanks for the laugh, Lauren...All too true...

Summer Bucket List

1.Trip to the beach
2. Read a book, or two, or three
3. Start a new tradition at home
4. Give a heartfelt surprise to someone (purchased said surprise, in search of the receiver)
5. Give a good report to a manager about an employee
6. Extreme Makeover: Kindergarten Closet Edition
7. Begin writing a children's book
8. Clean out all 4 3 closets (one down, three to go!)
9. Try Yoga again (my friend Kristy invited me to go...I have been a slacker, but am still hoping to go soon!)
10. Write a letter to the editor
11. Write a letter to a friend
12. Go on a picnic
13. Start a blog
14. Learn about Guided Math Groups (professional book in hand!)
15. Go to a concert
16. Finally beat my husband at a game of Clue: The Office edition
17. Complete Family Trust Grant (changed from Foundation to Family trust b/c I missed the deadline)
18. Complete and mail in STAR Teacher Application

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Here is what I'm loving today:

I'm loving that instead of having to go out and purchase my own copy of the USA Today, a fresh Wednesday copy was left right outside my hotel room at the Chauncey Conference Center.  Now THIS is the way to start off a Wednesday!!

I'm loving that my hubby and I get to make our way home from a little summer get away today.  We've been traveling since Saturday and nothing feels as good as the safety and comfort of your own home and bed! 

I'm loving a YUMMY treat that we found on the way back home today.  We were somewhere in Pennsylvania and had stopped for gas and snacks.  Mr. Lochel found some Chex Mix, not too excited until I saw what kind: 

I'M LOVING THIS!!!  We've made this on our own before.  We've called it "Puppy Chow".  But the fact that it was already made and in the bag made it even better! 

I'm loving that the countdown for back to school is truly on! Just about 4 more weeks until I get to continue doing what I love love love

I'm loving  that I have a super busy schedule from now until next Wednesday-- a movie with friends, Supper Club, a friends dinner and pool party, and the start of another week of Lunch and Learn. 

I'm loving all the blessings that I see and have in my life each and every day.  I am blessed to have my mom, my husband, my friends, and all the opportunities that I've been able to experience this summer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

No "Fist Pumping" Allowed

I'm not at 'The Shore' but I am in NEW JERSEY!

A few months ago I was nominated by my State Department of Education to serve on a multi-state standard setting study for ETS.  The purpose of this study was to help determine a passing score for the Elementary Multiple Subjects Praxis exam.  From here on out, pre-service teachers will need to pass each section individually and our recommendations for that score will be sent to our State Departments.

I felt very honored to be a part of this and had a big responsibility to represent not only my state and our pre-service teachers, but what is MOST important to us.......our students. 

This was my chance to advocate for what THEY need to learn and be taught.  This was my opportunity to declare what makes a beginning teacher qualified.

As we began our introductions, our panel leader jokingly declared, "There will be no fist pumping in here!" 

Mr. Lochel and I got in early afternoon yesterday and took a bike ride around the ETS campus.  It had been gloomy weather our entire drive up so we were thankful for the sunshine!  The campus is beautiful.

Tonight, we went into downtown Princeton to explore. 

We walked on the campus of Princeton University. 

Talk about "Ivy League"

Then, we ate dinner at a local pub.
 I was channeling my inner Liz Bridges here by snapping a pic of my delish dinner. 

Tomorrow promises to be another challenging day on the panel.  I am looking forward to the professional discussion and the growth that I am experiencing from this!  I am not looking forward to the drive home on Wednesday!  But, until then, I will focus my thoughts on teaching candidates and the sweet, smiling faces of those I love the most---the children!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Intense Training

Don't get too excited.  I am not talking about physical training (The only way you'll ever seen me running is if someone is chasing me!)

I'm talking about mental training!  I seriously have not worked my brain this hard since school ended! 

The past 3 days have had me holed up in my school district office for SAFE-T NET training.  This is training to be an evaluator to second year teachers in South Carolina.  Come to find out, SC has some of the highest standards out there when it comes to evaluating teachers.

Our training leader was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable that it actually made these three days fly by!

I learned some new words while I was there...see if you know what any of these mean:

Dossier (pronounced doss-ee-ay): a French word meaning a collection or file of documents on the same subject.  We create a dossier for each classroom teacher going through SAFE-T.

Preponderance: superiority in weight, power, numbers, etc.  We learned to base our judgements on the preponderance of evidence; to look at the teacher as a whole and not judge based on one specific piece.

Iterative: repeating; making repetition; repetitious.  Teaching, in and of itself, is an iterative process--meaning that we do things over and over again.  We plan lessons, teach lessons, reflect on those lessons, modify those lessons and then start back again planning! 

All 16 teachers in my training had to take and pass a test at the end of our three days together to officially become SAFE-T certified.  Good news.......we all passed! 

All this training took me be in time to when I was just a 2nd year teacher.  It was a good reflection tool for me just being able to see how much I've grown and changed as a teacher.  I am lucky to work in a district that provides these opportunities for me. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Supplies and Schedules

Yep.  It's only the beginning of July and my kindergarten team and I are already talking about "Back to School."

I mean, why not?  Walmart already has all the beautiful new supplies out and up for sale!  There is nothing better than the look and smell of brand new crayons and pencils and notebooks on display and ready to be used.  It's like they call my name and fill my thoughts with the potential of what the new school year will bring.

This year my team will include one brand new teacher and one 'new to K' teacher.  We are all eager to get thinking and talking about the beginning of the year so that was our topic. 

And, what, you may ask, is the best way to get anyone to come to a meeting?  Food, of course!  Mrs. Swigunski was our "Dessert Diva" and the brownie fruit pizza she made was delicious!

Dessert.  Yum.

One topic that we all wanted to talk about was: Supplies!

Here is what we request from the children:

24 pack crayons
6 large Glue Sticks
12-#2 Yellow Pencils
8 Pack Fat Crayola Markers (Classic Colors)
1 Book Bag (Large enough to hold 1” 3-ring binder)
Quart & Sandwich Ziploc Bags (Girls)
Gallon & Snack Ziploc Bags (Boys)
Scissors (Fiskar’s Brand Recommended)
Hand Sanitizer

Optional Supplies
1 Adult Size Cardboard Shoe Box
1 pkg White 8 ½” x 11” Copier paper
1 pkg Colored 8 ½” x 11” Copier paper
1 2.5 Gallon Box Ziploc Bags


We try not to ask the parents for too much......but there is SO much we still purchase on our own.  I'm sure you teachers out there all do the same.  One of our biggest purchases are binders for each child.  Many of the teachers on my team use these for homework/take home/communication purposes. 

The next big topic we wanted to tackle were our schedules.  I have decided to try and create a "page" for my schedule at the top of the blog.  Hopefully I can get it up soon so be ready to check it out!  I hope it will be helpful for my parents when the year begins. 

Let me know about your SUPPLIES or you SCHEDULE!!!

What I'm Loving Wednesday

What I'm loving on this HOT HOT Wednesday, the 13th of July.........

I'm loving that the sun is shining.  No matter how hot it gets, I am thankful for the daylight and warmth.

I'm loving the support that my town is showing for a fallen soldier and fellow graduate of Fort Mill High.  Members of my town lined the street today for his homecoming in preparation of the funeral service tomorrow. I'm loving that I know God will wrap His gracious arms around TJ's family in their time of loss here on Earth.  I'm loving  that I am allowed to live and walk free because of what soldiers like TJ are fighting for.

This photo is linked to the local newspaper story. 
May God bless TJ and his family. 

I'm loving that my husband got a job offer from The Boy Scouts of America a few weeks ago.  He'll be a District Executive and the only professional scouter in our county.  He is super excited to start with them next week!  I am excited too because the hours will be much more flexible.

I'm loving that I get to have dinner with a friend tonight!  Lisa and I haven't dined in a while, but we are the type that can pick back up wherever we left off....and we always share lots of laughs.  I'm loving that I have sweet friends that I can truly be myself around.  And, we are going to the best place ever to eat........


I'm loving that I'm seeing an afternoon thunderstorm roll in!  Maybe it will cool things off.......

I'm loving my Wednesday edition of the USA Today, of course!  If you know me, you know I love me some Craig Wilson and The Final Word.  Today he charms his readers with a tale of grilling out.  I literally laughed out loud reading it to myself, picturing my sweet husband who used to let hot dogs fall through the grates or drop burgers on the ground while trying to transfer them to a plate.  While Mr. Lochel's grilling skills have vastly improved since we said "I do" over 4 year ago, Craig Wilson admits to not even owning a grill and rejoicing that everyone lived after eating his food.

I'm loving that ETS is sending me on a little road trip next week.  Check back to find out what exactly I get to do! 

What are you loving today?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Classroom Jobs: My Perspective!

Whether it be first, last, or by their friends where they desire to be, let children have a free for all in lining up and be prepared to see some strong personalities come out.  

"He CUT!!!!"  "She CUT!!!!"  "THEY CUT IN FRONT OF ME!!!!"

Those dreaded words you hear from children as they run to position themselves in the most ideal place in line. 

This is where it all started for me.  This is where I gained my entire perspective for classroom jobs.

Most things (cubbies, supply tubs, clipboards, etc) in my classroom are labeled by number.  The biggest benefit is that they can all be reused without having to change them year after year. 

The children in my classroom have numbers too!  And this is the way we line up in line. Always.  No matter where we are going to or coming from.  We line up in order.  I don't even need to describe or explain to you how much this cuts down on the rushing and running and complaining and arguing. 

So how did this lead to my unique perspective on all my classroom jobs? 

It only took one year of changing the jobs weekly for me to know that it WASN'T helpful for me because I could never remember who was supposed to do what.  And, neither could the children. 

When I began the number system, I realized that our line leader (#1) and door holder (#2) and the caboose (last # child in line) would keep these jobs all year long. I very soon decided that other jobs in classroom would be year long ones as well! 

As the need for jobs arise, I ask the entire group of children who would be interested in having this job. No, I don't have a set list of jobs to fill.  I do know that there will be some ahead of time.  But, I pretty much go with the flow.  When I realize that there is something I've been doing that a child is perfectly capable of, a new job is born! 

Some examples from this past year were:
Light Helper (lights on and off when we needed the SmartBoard)
Music Helper (music on and off for reading/writing/center time)
Clipboard Helper (hold up board for children to retrieve)

You could run yourself ragged trying to do all this yourself!  Give the children some responsibility and let them help you! 

Help them, help you!

I have always known that whatever job I created for a child in my classroom, it would be done to help me.  My boss (the principal) creates jobs for teachers to help out him and our school (duty and committees).  So I, the boss of my classroom, will create jobs that ultimately help ME and our classroom. 

Link Up and let's share more ideas about Classroom Jobs! 

Meet The Teacher

The day we first lay eyes on each other - teacher and student - has to be one of the most exciting times that we'll experience all year.  As the waiting and the nerves and the anticipation all come to fruition in an instant, we are, in that same moment of time, soon calmed and filled with shy handshakes, smiles, hugs, and laughter.

This year our Kindergarten team will be doing Meet the Teacher differently than any other grade level at our school.  Meet the Teacher happens in our district on the elementary level the Monday before school begins on Wednesday.

We decided that since many of our parents will be bringing their first child to school, they deserve a little more time and attention than other grade levels that have "been there, and done that" before.  And, we love the idea of making the parents feel more welcome and comfortable in this place where they'll be sharing their children with us for the next 5 years. 

So, instead of having three "drop in" sessions from 4:00-6:00 that have become quite informal, we will be holding 4 or 5 scheduled, sit down, sessions. When our families receive their placement letters, they will also see a time scheduled for Meet the Teacher.  Sessions will be on the same day as the rest of the school but will be at either 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00.  This way, we can ensure a small group of parents to sit and talk with.  Parents will be encouraged to bring their kindergartner(s) in with them!  Our assistants will take the children on a tour of the school (playground, cafeteria, etc) and work with them in the hallway. 

I will go over my "ABC's of Kindergarten", share my procedures and expectations, and answer any questions.  I will also share all the elements that make up my "Shark Files Notebook" which includes a weekly newsletter, behavior sheet, reading log, homework, notes and money pouch, etc.

This is also a GREAT time to get parents to fill out name tags for their own children for the first 4 or 5 days of school.  This saves me a lot of time AND since they are writing down how their child will go home those particular days, there is less room for questions and confusion.  There are always some that will be bus riders for the year, but that want to be car riders for the first day or two. We also encourage them to bring in any supplies this day so we have another workday to sort them all out before school begins. 

Do you have a "Meet the Teacher" type day before school begins?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Patriotic Lunch and Learn

If you've been a follower for a while, you may remember that I am teaching at a program for 4 weeks this summer called Lunch and Learn. Since this week began with Independence Day, our Lunch and Learn program is only two days. I racked my brain and did some searching to find some educational, fun, and creative ideas to share with the children centered around- you guessed it- the USA!

Now, what could be more fun than bags of red, white, and blue marshmallow stars?  The possibilities were endless!  Found these at Walmart and couldn't resist. 

My second graders used them to multiply. 
My first graders used them to add and subtract.

My kindergartners used them to sort, count, and make and extend patterns. And, yes, I even let them eat a few too!

Our day continued and I read aloud a few patriotic tales.  I have many song books like America The Beautiful and Oh Say Can You See.  The children respond well to these and it boosts their confidence because they can "read" along too!

We charted and then graphed our favorite USA symbol.  Which one would be your favorite?

And if you know me, you know that I couldn't let these kiddos leave without painting some handprints!  We did American flag handprints!  

 In hindsight, I should have done these on a color paper other than white.

These two days flew by!  I guess the old adage is true! 

I won't be back teaching at Lunch and Learn for two weeks...but I've got lots to do to keep me busy! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday!

Link up here for another round of "What I'm Loving Wednesday!"

Here's what I am loving on this first beautiful Wednesday in July.......

I'm loving that I got to start off my day at my school's Lunch and Learn program.  I am only teaching two days this week, but taking full advantage of the opportunity to be patriotic with the children and learn more about our amazing country. 

I'm loving the new slushie flavor at Kangaroo.  It's Pink Lemonade!  I missed my Mountain Dew slushie this morning, but thoroughly enjoyed the Pink Lemonade. 

I'm loving that my husband is on "vacation" this week and is finishing painting our home office today.  He is going to be needing it soon for his new job!  The color is called "Sassy Green"

I'm loving my sweet cat who is patiently waiting for her office to be put back together.  She is the true queen of this castle!

I'm loving the Wednesday edition of USA Today!  If you've never read Craig Wilson, give him a try!  His writing consists of little "slice of life" stories.  Today, his column was called "You can't turn back now..."  He shares a story of being on a narrow mountain trail.  Seeing oncomming trafic and nervous about how to maneuver, another man called out, "You can't turn back now. You've come too far!" We all find ourselves in situations in life when we want to give up and turn back.  Craig shares a quote from author Brian Peterson: "If there's no wanting, chances are there won't be much growing and certainly no arriving."

I'm loving my Kindergarten team!  We got together today to talk about the beginning of the next school year.  I am so lucky to be on a team of teachers that willingly get together over the summer to talk professionally.

I'm loving that I got to take an afternoon nap when I got home from school today.  Funny how we hated those as children and now long for them as adults. 

Until next Wednesday.............

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thank You GCADA!!

The minute I was named District Teacher of the Year last September, blessings started flowing my way and they have yet to cease!  I couldn't be more humbled or grateful for the honor and the many accolades that have come with it. 

I put to use one of the BEST prizes this weekend!  Thanks to the Greater Charlotte Automobile Dealers Association, my husband and I enjoyed a 2 night stay at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.

Our mini vacation began by sleeping in on Saturday morning.  We had breakfast in bed then went out for pedicures. Yes, Mr. Lochel did too.....I hope the news that I blogged about this doesn't get back to him!  Hoping the holiday weekend traffic wouldn't be too bad, we slowly made our way into Asheville that afternoon.

Welcome to the Grove Park Inn!

The view from the front porch looking down

Our package included two tickets to a concert on Saturday night!  We had an amazing time, AND, I get to cross this off my Summer Bucket List!  Better yet, I actually recognized the singers.  I figured it would be a local band, which would have been great, but this was even better.  It was Joey and Rory!  They are a country singing duet who were discovered a few years back on CMT's "Can You Duet" show.

Mr. and Mrs. Lochel with Joey and Rory! 
They were much taller than they looked on stage!

We had an amazing breakfast on Sunday morning and spent the day by the pool.  We both got "sun kissed."

From the breakfast buffet......

Our dinner at one of GPI's amazing restaurants was also included in our package. It was an Independence Day buffet.  We had shrimp and lobster and potatoes and salad and local roasted veggies and so on and so on. 

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out in the Main Hall listening to a swing band.  We also enjoyed a tasty beverage called "Patriots Punch!)

We hated to leave on Monday morning but we LOVED getting to have lunch with my Aunt Lillian and Uncle Max who live in Asheville.  We also got to see my cousin Leslie, her husband Barry, and their son Bruce (the most well behaved and focused almost 3 year old boy that I have ever encountered), who were all in town visiting. 

So, as I blog today, I am thankful for many things; I am thankful for the GCADA, my husband, my family, and my country. 

Happy 4th of July!

Summer Bucket List
1.Trip to the beach
2. Read a book, or two, or three
3. Start a new tradition at home
4. Give a heartfelt surprise to someone (purchased said surprise, in search of the receiver)
5. Give a good report to a manager about an employee
6. Extreme Makeover: Kindergarten Closet Edition
7. Begin writing a children's book
8. Clean out all 4 3 closets (one down, three to go!)
9. Try Yoga again (my friend Kristy invited me to go...I have been a slacker, but am still hoping to go soon!)
10. Write a letter to the editor
11. Write a letter to a friend
12. Go on a picnic
13. Start a blog
14. Learn about Guided Math Groups (professional book in hand!)
15. Go to a concert
16. Finally beat my husband at a game of Clue: The Office edition
17. Complete Family Trust Grant (changed from Foundation to Family trust b/c I missed the deadline)
18. Complete and mail in STAR Teacher Application