“Hi Ho Hi Ho... Back to School We Go!”

Well we have officially started school and needless to say life has been C-R-A-Z-Y crazy!  However, in between unpacking and setting up a classroom, teaching at our county’s New Teacher Institute, packing my son up for college, and squeezing in a few lunch dates with friends, I managed to make my teammates a little something to hang outside their classroom door.  I must admit that this was not an original idea.  Last year, I had the most wonderful parent make me a pencil sign for my classroom and I decided to make them this year for my teammates.  I think they came out cute and they were all so appreciative of this back to school gift.

I started with a ¼ inch piece of plywood.  The original one was ½ inch, but my father said ¼ inch would work as well.  He actually did the cutting for me.  I offered to help, but he had them all cut and sanded before I even got to his house.  He is such a sweetie…gotta love that man!
I bought the paint at Michael’s craft store.  I had the black paint, but they sell that at Michael’s along with the foam brushes.  I am not sure what happened to the color I had picked for the wood tip of the pencil.  When I got home it was not in my bag. However, I used a color I had called “maple syrup” and it looked fine.  I try and stock up on the brushes when they are 10 for $1.00.  The blue tape is just your typical painters tape. 
I started with taping off the eraser and painting that pink first.
 Once that was done, I taped off the “metal” part where the eraser goes and painted that.  
Next, I used a pencil and marked where I wanted the led and “wood” part to go.  It took me a few times to get this part done, so using a pencil allowed me to simply erase my mistakes.  
After that, I painted the rest of the pencils yellow. I used a black paint pen to touch up the led part of each pencil.  One of my teammates has a USA themed classroom, so I painted her pencil red and blue.
Here are a few of them all done.  Don’t they look adorable?  To hang them my hubby drilled holes in them and I strung a heavy gage wire through them.  I used a paint pen to write their names on them.
Here is a picture of my daughter and I wearing our school spirit shirts. This is her first year teaching.  We teach at different elementary schools, but attended a back to school welcome together.  Her shirt is so awesome.  On the front it says be… and on the back it has the words, amazing, passionate, relentless, inspiring, brave, unstoppable, significant, attentional, curious, extraordinary, fearless, grateful, and the difference.  

Pizza with Pizazz

Happy Summer Everyone!
I know it seems like we have been MIA lately, but this summer has been crazy busy! Our intentions were to post to the family blog every week, but as you can tell from the date of our last post that did not happen. This Monday, August 8th, marks the one year anniversary of our mother’s death. It is so hard to believe that we haven’t heard her voice or seen her smile in a year. Time has gone fast, but the pain is still so real.  Hopefully things will slow down a bit for us this fall and we will be able to post more often. To all of our family and friends, we hope you enjoy the last few weeks of summer laughing and relaxing with those that mean the most to you! We are truly blessed beyond words to have you all in our lives.

Pizza with Pizazz

Last winter, my daughter Angelica and I were looking on Pinterest for recipes that we could make and enjoy during a snowstorm. The weather stations were predicting 18-24 inches of snow and we were looking forward to being snowed in while we played endless games of cards and dominos. We came across several flatbread pizza recipes and decided pizza would be perfect! The only problem is the snow was coming down too fast and we couldn’t get to the grocery store for all of the ingredients we needed. Determined we were going to eat pizza, I surveyed the ingredients we did have on hand and created what we now call, “Naan Pizza.” To me it is a cross between a flatbread pizza and a focaccia bread. Seriously, it has become one of our favorite game night dishes. Below is a list of the ingredients and the step-by-step directions on how we made this easy, yummy pizza. We hope you get a chance to try it and as they say in Italian, MANGIA!

Naan Pizza
-4 large pieces of Naan bread.
-4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
-1 can of diced tomatoes
-8-10 pieces of bacon cooked well and crumbled
-2 cup package of mozzarella cheese
-Olive oil
-Buttermilk ranch salad dressing
-McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning (you can also use a chicken seasoning, but we love the flavor of the steak seasoning)
-Avocado (optional…I am the only one who likes avocado in my house, so I rarely have them on hand. However, if I know ahead of time I will be making this pizza, I will buy one)

Lightly brown Naan bread in olive oil
Chop chicken breasts into small chunks and stir fry slowly on medium heat in olive oil. As the chicken is cooking, I sprinkle the Montreal seasoning over it and let it lightly brown. I also cook the bacon, chop it, and set it to the side during this time as well.
After the chicken and bacon are cooked it is time to build your pizza. We start with the tomatoes and then add the chicken. Next we sprinkle it with bacon and mozzarella cheese.
Next, bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted well.
Remove from the oven and drizzle buttermilk ranch dressing over the top. If I have avocado, I add small bite size pieces before topping with the ranch dressing.

Get Your Teach On!

Last week, my daughter Angelica and I had the opportunity to attend the most amazing conference. For those that don’t know, I am a second grade teacher and Angelica will be teaching fourth grade in the fall. It was held in Grapevine, Texas and was called Get YourTeach On! We flew to Grapevine on a Sunday and spent the next two days being inspired by some of the best educators around. The trip was a graduation gift for Angelica and seriously worth every penny. As a current classroom teacher it was just what I needed to motivate me and remind me of what is so amazing about being a teacher. For Angelica, it confirmed in her heart that being a teacher is what she was meant to be. We laughed and smiled as we sat on the edge of our seats waiting to hear what the presenters would say next. We even cried when one of the presenters, Wade King, told us the story of why he chose education as his profession. There were make and takes and of course some pretty fabulous freebies. Thank you Astrobright, Teachers Pay Teachers, ESGI and GoNoodle for your wonderful support. The presenters for grades 2-3 were Hope and Wade King and Amy Lemons. Hope and Wade are educators at the Ron Clark Academy and Hope is also a blogger at Elementary Shenanigans. Amy Lemons is a blogger at Step Into Second Grade and if you don’t follow these two on social media, I highly recommend you do! We also had the opportunity to meet Cara Carrol from the First Grade Parade and Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump’s Class. Hope King is seriously one of the sweetest and most inspiring teachers you could ever meet and she has a passion for education. If you are a teacher and you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these conferences, you won't be disappointed! 

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Magnet Board

Well thank goodness I have today (Memorial Day) off because now I have a chance to type the next “teacher tip” post! As a classroom teacher, I am always on the lookout for clever, cute and functional ideas to make learning fun. Let’s face it, gone are the days of sitting at a desk and completing a worksheet and I couldn’t be any happier. I love to see my kiddos engaged in an educational activity and laughing at the same time! The “magnet board” is one of those stations that they beg for and to tell you the truth, I am tempted to put one (smaller of course) on the wall of my home office, to hold papers I need.
The board itself was bought at Walmart. It is actually an oil drip pan, but hey it works great as a magnet board as well. These boards can be found in the automotive section.
I used Command Brand Strips by3M to adhere the board to the side of my large rolling coat closet. Ok, Ok, so my husband used Command Strips to hang the board, but I supervised! (wink, wink) I have also seen people turn it long ways and adhere it to the back of a teacher’s desk or low bookshelf.
The alphabet letters are stored in a container that I purchased at our local hardware store. It was purchased so long ago that I can’t remember if I got it at Home Depot or Lowes, but I know I have seen similar ones at both stores.
I made the words “magnet” and “board” out of card stock and laminated them so they would last. I then used double sided tape to hang them across the board itself.
There are so many uses for a board like this. Do you know all of those adorable centers that you have purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers? Well, all you have to do is stick a magnet on the back of them and you have yourself a great center. The possibilities are endless. If you have a great suggestion, let us know. We would enjoy hearing your ideas. 

Teacher Tip Tuesday

Welcome to “Teacher Tip Tuesday” at Our Amore Blog!

One of my passions in life, besides my family, is education! I am an elementary school teacher and could not imagine any other job. Seriously y'all, I simply love my job. Of course there are days when I feel a little… umm STRESSED, but that’s usually because I bring that on myself! I tend to be a perfectionist and I like my days well planned out. I also like organization and for lack of better words, I am a “NEAT FREAK!”

This past week, my oldest child Angelica, graduated from Longwood University with honors. I could not be any prouder of how my sweet little girl has grown into this beautiful young lady. She too is going to be an elementary school teacher. This fall she will begin her first teaching job here in Stafford County. GULP! I honestly do not know where time has gone. I feel like it was just yesterday that she was starting kindergarten.

We thought it would be fun to post cute classroom ideas and things that “work” in our classrooms. Please remember we are HUGE Pinterest fans and most of our ideas start with things we have seen on this incredible site. However, we like to add our own little “twist” to things and enjoy letting our creative side come out. Our goal is to post a “tip” every Tuesday, but let’s face it, there will be some days that life will get in the way and we might need to post a day or two later.
We have decided to start with what I call my “Camper of the Week” bulletin board. This board is very special to me because my mother helped me plan it just weeks before she passed away. It’s the first thing people see when they enter my classroom and each morning as I walk in and flip on the lights, my heart smiles thinking of my incredible mom! I hope you enjoy it and that it brings inspiration for you to create a board of your own!

The “Camper of the Week” is my student of the week. It is where I highlight all the favorites of one student. Students can bring in photos of themselves as well. However, I have removed them from these pictures. Students love sharing what they like and it is a great way to find something in common between classmates.
I like to use fabric as a background on my bulletin boards. Paper does work, but fabric tends to look neater and it doesn’t wrinkle as much. The fabric on this board is flannel because I could not find this print in cotton. I was hesitant to use flannel, but I am very pleased with how well it has held up and how it has resisted fading. I purchased it at Joann Fabric.  NOTE: There is no need to wash fabric before using, but I usually iron it to get out the fold lines.
For the trim, I used two types of solid borders. One is corrugated and one is flat. They can be found here on Amazon. The ribbon trim was purchased at the Dollar Tree.  The yellow frames are wood frames that I purchased at Michaels and painted myself. I tied small pieces of ribbon around the frames just to add a little something and glued the wooden apple and tree to add dimension. I then stapled the fabric behind the frames several times before I hot glued the frames to the board. This prevented the frames from pulling forward. The wood disks are pieces of real tree branches that my sweet father cut. I painted the black circles to give them a chalk board look and used a white paint pen to look like chalk to write, “Camper of the Week.” My husband drilled holes in them and I strung them on a piece of jute. I used the extra wood disks to make push tacks by simply gluing a thumb tack to the back of each wood piece. 

Choo Choo Mekai is Two!

Birthday parties for children are always so magical. However, they can be bittersweet because that means your baby is growing up. My “baby” turns 19 in September and is just finishing up his first year in college. Please tell me where time went. I feel like it was just yesterday we were having his 2nd birthday party and now he is all grown up. Oh how I long for those days when he would sit on my lap and watch Thomas the Train. Sigh…

Well now I get to celebrate this little one’s birthday instead. This train themed party could not have been any cuter. My niece is talented. No, make that incredibly talented. Not only is she an amazing photographer, but she is also a fabulous graphic design artist who works for Minute Man Press. 

Check out all of the adorable ideas below. 

Isn’t this idea sweet? My niece took a snapshot of all of Mekai’s favorites and other facts about him then created this fun display. 

“Two Two” Mekai is Two! These themed napkins were purchased on Amazon.

“Baggage Claim” This is where guests dropped off Mekai’s gifts and also picked up a thank- you treat bag. “Chugga Chugga Thank Choo” These themed conductor hats and Thomas the Train whistles were purchased on Amazon as well. 

Mekai’s mom, Lindsey, made this train out of cardboard boxes. 

The “Water Tower” and “Diesel Fuel” area were where guests picked up drinks. 

A simple Chick-fil-A tray was turned into a plate of “Coal.” 

These peppers where hollowed out to form “Produce Carts” that sat on a real plastic track. The wheels are made out of cucumber slices and held on by toothpicks. 

The traffic lights are pretzel rods dipped in chocolate and topped with M&M candies. 

The cupcakes were purchased at Wegman’s and my niece made the cupcake toppers. Similar toppers can be purchased off of Amazon here!

I think these two pictures speak for themselves. Mekai has to be one of the most precious babies I have ever seen! Carley designed the shirt, but similar ones can be purchased off of Amazon here!

Children are made great readers in the laps of their parents. Can you tell I am a teacher? I just love books and Scholastic has some great books.