Sunday, November 23, 2014

Have you ever heard of HELLP syndrome?!

I wasn't sure if I wanted to write a post about this, but I'm filled with so many mixed emotions right now that I thought maybe it was a good time to share these details.  This all started pretty much 2 years ago...

I was almost 35 weeks pregnant and was feeling great!  I really had no trouble throughout the whole pregnancy (barely any morning sickness) and I really wasn't uncomfortable or experiencing anything that was a bit out-of-the-ordinary for being pregnant.  We didn't find out what we were having but everyone swore I was having a boy so I guess I just started believing that, too!  When I woke up on that Friday before Marissa wound up being born, I was really uncomfortable and had this weird feeling underneath my ribs on the right side.  I tried doing things to lessen the feeling but it wouldn't go away.  Even my husband commented to me that morning, "Are you feeling OK?  You look really tired." I said, "Yeah, I'm just really uncomfortable today.  Not sure why."  I went to work and was telling everyone how I was feeling and they all chalked it up to me being towards the end of my pregnancy.  All throughout the day I just couldn't get comfortable and the feeling on my right side was beginning to get worse.  When I had a chance to, I had googled my symptoms just to see what would come up.  Nothing was coming up that matched how I was feeling.  I think I remember seeing something about it possibly being where the baby was positioned so maybe it was his/her foot sitting under there.  I just figured it was that.  I had no idea since I had nothing to compare it to!  So, I went about the school day still being pretty uncomfortable and by then, I had lost my appetite and really didn't want to eat or drink anything.  I wound up leaving school a little early so that I could go home and just lay down.  Little did I know that that would be my last day at school for 5 months...

I went home, changed into some more comfy clothes and tried to just sleep as much as I could.  The feeling would go away here or there but never completely.  The weekend came and went and still the same thing...just this nagging feeling under my ribs.  I was also completely exhausted and had ZERO appetite but I tried to eat since I knew the baby needed that.  Then, Monday came and I was so thankful that I had off from work since it was Veteran's Day and I work on a military base.  I didn't think I would have been able to make it through the day if we had school.  Again, I had the same feeling that I had since Friday but I kept telling myself that I had my next doctor's appointment on Tuesday and that I could just wait until then to get checked out...

Now, throughout my pregnancy, I guess the one nagging thing that I did have was nose bleeds.  I brought it up each time at my appointments and was told they were common and to just use saline spray to try and help.  Well, on Monday, I had gotten a nose bleed but it was NOTHING at all like they were in the past.  This time, blood was almost pouring out of my nose and I had these huge clots that were just coming out one after another.  This went on for about 20 minutes and all the while kept thinking, "Hmmm this isn't normal" but I somehow didn't panic.  The feeling under my ribs was now quite painful and I was getting more and more uncomfortable.  Actually, the feeling under my ribs was starting to burn and I knew that something wasn't right and nothing I did could make the pain go away.  As soon as my husband walked in the door, I immediately started crying (something I don't do often) and told him something wasn't right.  We called his mom (who is a nurse) and told her what was going on. She said to call the office (it was now 8:30PM) and speak to whomever was on call that night.  A brand new midwife wound up being on call and I didn't even know her since she had just started.  I told her my symptoms but she kind of brushed them off because I didn't have more of the symptoms that she was looking for.  We wound up telling her we were going to the hospital anyway just to make sure the baby was OK.  She told us to go to the ER and not the maternity ward because they would need to triage me and check me out there first.  Well, as soon as we got to the ER and they saw I was pregnant, they sent us right to maternity.

Once we got settled in there, they hooked me up on monitors to make sure the baby was OK.  I was having contractions but I didn't even know, but thankfully the baby was OK.  They took blood work and found that I was really dehydrated so they hooked me to an IV for fluids.  They tried giving me heartburn medicine to see if that would help the feeling that I kept describing as being really uncomfortable.  That didn't help at all.  So after waiting for what seemed like awhile, my blood work came back so they knew what they were dealing with.  Since we had gotten to the hospital, I had started to feel better but I think it was just because I knew I was in the best place that I needed to be in. The OB on call (that I didn't know) came in, sat down and said to me, "So Michelle you aren't feeling so hot huh?" I replied, "No, not really.  I just have this nagging feeling under my ribs here." He said, "Well, you are one really sick girl." I said, "OK..."  He said, "Yeah, that nagging feeling that you have under your ribs is your liver shutting down."  I said, "Hmmm..." and he said, "yeah and when you breathe in now do you catch your breath because it hurts?" I said, "yeah actually I do."  He said, "Yeah that's because it's spreading to all of your other organs and your body is basically shutting down." I'm still not really nervous because I was in the hospital and I knew they would help me.  What he said next was something that didn't even cross my mind - "The only way that I can help you is to deliver your baby."  At this time, I flipped out, started crying and kept saying, "But he/she isn't done cooking!  It's too early!!" My husband jumps to my side and is trying to calm me down.  Apparently the doctor had told me that I needed to remain calm because I was at a high risk of also having seizures and they didn't want that to happen.  I don't remember him telling me that at all.  After I calmed down a bit, he told that he was going to have to do a c-section because I would be in great pain if he induced me instead.  I flipped out about that, too, because I didn't want a c-section.  Once I calmed down again, he was explaining more to me about just how bad of shape my body was in at that point.  My platelet count, which in a normal, healthy person is usually at 200 or so, was at 50 or less. This was dangerously low and I couldn't have the c-section until I had a platelet transfusion in order to up my count.  The doctor told me I needed to have the transfusion before he would be able to do the surgery.  I don't remember much after that before I was moved into the OR waiting room...

While waiting for the platelets to get to the hospital (they had to request it from another hospital due to my blood type), I had to just lay in bed and not really do much.  It felt like FOREVER and by now I was feeling the contractions and was pretty uncomfortable.  They wouldn't let me drink anything and I was so thirsty.  Finally, the blood transfusion came and got started.  I'm not sure how long the transfusion was going on for, but the next thing I know, I felt like I was leaking.  I told the nurse just that and she says, "Um...don't tell me your water broke."  She lifts up the sheet and sees that my water broke and I'm hemorrhaging every where.  My husband was standing there and saw every thing and I remember hearing him say to the nurse, "Um, that's not normal, is it?" She says, "Nope!" The next thing I know, all the doctors that were going to be involved in my c-section were walking in and I was signing papers left and right.  The OB that was on call checked to see what my platelet count was since he wanted it to be at 100 before doing the surgery. I don't think it even made it to 70 but at this point, he knew that he couldn't wait anymore...

I barely remember the surgery as this whole situation was so, so surreal (and still feels that way while I'm typing this...) but I do remember them telling us, "It's a girl!" and I said, "What?! It is?!" because I expected it to be a boy.  We had a first name picked out for a girl but not a middle name and that's all I could focus on!  My hubby said to me, "You can pick out any middle name you want.  It can be Christmas Tree for all I care.  Just thankfully you are both OK!"  I really had no idea for a middle name, so while the nurses were cleaning me up, I went through the alphabet trying to come up with a name.  We wound up naming her Marissa Lynn =)

After all of that, Marissa needed to be in the NICU for the week, while I was in the hospital with her to get my body back to where it needed to be.  With all things considering, she was perfectly fine in the NICU, was eating on her own and doing all the things newborns needed to do.  I, on the otherhand, still wasn't quite right but eventually, my body calmed down and I was able to be released with her almost a week after she was born.  I was so happy we were released together because I do know of so many people who have to visit their babies at the hospital every day, and I just couldn't imagine doing that.  

I had many follow up appointments after she was born with the OB that delivered her due to everything that had gone on.  At one appointment, he asked me, "So, how is that beautiful little girl of yours?"  I said, "Oh, she's great!"  He replied, "She better be considering she almost killed you!"  Wow, talk about putting things bluntly!!

So, there you have it.  A crazy story that still brings tears to my eyes whenever I tell people.  Everyone seems to have their own story to tell and I'm forever grateful that my story had a happy ending!  Marissa came into the world in a crazy way, but calmed down soon after and is now the love of my life.  I couldn't imagine my life without her!


Until next time!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Relaxing


I will say having the last 4 days off has been SO nice!  It's been great to be able to spend a lot of time with Marissa and to have time to get ready for her birthday party next weekend!  I really can't believe she's going to be 2 this coming Thursday.  To think back to the things that were going on this time 2 years ago still makes me tear up.  I'm thinking that I'll share the events that happened leading up to Marissa being born sometime this week.  I don't have the energy or the time right now to share the emotional details =)

For now, I need to finish up some things for #TechShare14 in my district tomorrow.  I will be presenting how to use Twitter with a teammate for those who want to begin using it in their classrooms.  Wish me luck!!

Until next time!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

November currently!

I totally missed the boat on the October currently so I'm linking up for the November Currently on Farley's blog!  I really love this idea and I always enjoy reading everyone's posts =)  So, here is my Currently:

To explain it all a bit further...

Listening - it's a chilly day here in NJ and our daughter is just getting over having croup =(  We are basically stuck inside today and getting caught up on things that we weren't able to get done this week.  The hubby has on one of his favorite Pandora stations.  It has some great music on this station - artists such as Patrick Park, Jose Gonzalez, Mumford and Sons and Bryan Adams.  It's some nice music to listen to in the background while cleaning and cooking!

Loving - we have a 2.5 day week this week!  Well, actually the students have a 2.5 day week since we have an early release day on Wednesday since we have conferences afterwards until 3.  Teachers technically have a 3-day week but that's OK!  In NJ, we also have our Annual Teacher's Convention that is held in Atlantic City this coming Thursday and Friday so we have off for that as well!  This will be a great week to get caught up on some things.  Plus, I have to finish planning my daughter's 2nd birthday party.  I still can't believe she's going to be 2!!!

Thinking - I really need to start preparing for conferences!  While I do feel that I can sit down and discuss my students' progress, I still like to have things written down and ready to go.  I also jot things down throughout the week before conferences so that I don't forget anything!  Is it just me or do you remember random things throughout the week at the strangest times?!  Maybe it's just me...but I tend to remember things while I'm in the shower or while I'm exercising...not sure what that's about!

Wanting - the weather to hold out for Marissa's 2nd birthday pictures next Saturday!  I love how her 1st year pictures came out and the weather was PERFECT!  I'm hoping it's the same way this year.  Fingers crossed!

Needing- some winter clothes!  I think this is self-explanatory but now that the weather is getting cooler, I definitely need to start shopping for a few outfits to help my wardrobe out a little.

Reading - blogs on literacy ideas.  While I have felt that I do a pretty good job teaching guided reading, I am trying to find ways to incorporate word work, sight words and phonics in most of my activities during the day.  I'm trying to find ways to work smarter, not harder!  I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to teach the students all that I want to, so I'm looking for ways to do this where we can get more bang for our buck =)

Well, that's all for now.  I think I need to start preparing for conferences now - I'm getting a bit nervous!  I would love to gain a few more followers - maybe I'll try and do a giveaway of one of my Younique products if I reach 30 followers soon!!

Until next time!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Younique makeup!

I have mentioned before that I started selling Younique makeup over the summer.  I absolutely LOVE doing it and really love all their products!  I'm not just saying that because I sell it either! There hasn't been a product that I have ordered that I haven't fallen in love with right away!  I just thought I'd share some of the products that we sell in case you were interested in ordering something.  You could always begin your holiday shopping a little early as well =)

Our BEST selling product is our 3D Fiber Lash Mascara.  They look like false eyelashes but it goes on just like regular mascara.  I get a TON of compliments whenever I wear this mascara - I LOVE it!!

We also sell some gorgeous eye pigments!  They aren't pressed like eye shadows, but they are loose powder that stays on all day and lasts for a really long time!!  Check out these amazing colors:

Another big seller is our lip gloss.  What girl doesn't love lip gloss?!  They even have a little mirror attached so that you can use that to help you apply it!  My favorite colors are loveable and luxe =)

The last product I'll talk about tonight is our eye liners.  They go on very easily, last all day and don't smudge or run off.  The colors are really pretty as well!!

 If you are interested in checking out these products and all the other ones we sell, visit my website: www.youniqueproducts.com/mmkinsella

Until next time!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars=delicious!


Tonight is not a school post, but it is to share a recipe for something delicious that I easily made gluten free!  I tend to look for recipes that don't require too many different kinds of flours when making something GF because that tends to get expensive and I don't keep all sorts of flours in my house!  I have regular flour for recipes that I won't be eating (it's SO MUCH cheaper!) and then I keep an all-purpose GF flour in the house for when I'm making something that I will be eating.  Today I made these pumpkin chocolate chip bars that were delicious!!  Here is the recipe from Averie Cooks that I followed:
YIELD: one 8x8 pan, 9 to 12 generous squares
 
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: about 32 to 33 minutes
 
TOTAL TIME: about 70 minutes, for cooling
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 large egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten free flour here)
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don't scramble it. Add the egg, pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the flour and stir until just combined, don't over mix.
  5. Stir in 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips.
  6. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  7. Evenly sprinkle with 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, smoothly the top lightly with a spatula.
  8. Bake for about 32 to 33 minutes, or until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. The moisture content in pumpkin varies, as do climates and ovens; bake until yours are done. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. I find the bars taste better on the second and third day after the flavors have married. Bars continue to get softer and moister for about 3 days after baking. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
I meant to take a picture of what they looked like coming out of the oven, but I forgot, so here is what's left after bringing them to Ed's parents' house for dinner:
So good!  If you try and make them, please let me know what you think!  My post tomorrow (or Tuesday) will be about the Relaxation Station that we have in our classoom =)

Until next time!


Friday, October 24, 2014

TGIF!

This picture just sums it up so I had to share!!

In the mornings, I always think about the few errands that I will run after school before heading home.  It usually winds up that I run one errand, or none, and as soon as I get home, I immediately change into some comfy clothes and try and relax for a little bit before cooking dinner!  Well, by relax, I mean chasing an almost 2-year-old around the house =)  I would definitely love to be able to take a nap once home but that doesn't happen anymore!  Does this picture above remind you of you!?

Until next time!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wow...it's been a long time since I've posted.  I'm sorry!  There's been a lot going on and some nights I just don't have the energy to post.  I also really need to start taking pictures of what we do in my classroom so that I have things to blog about!  That will be my goal from here on out! =)  Promise!

One thing we have been working on in math is making 10.  It is so important for students in the early grades to know the combinations to make 10. This helps them add larger numbers and teaches them various strategies on how to do so.  I did not realize just how important it is before I began teaching it more in-depth.  I grew up learning just how to add numbers, not really knowing what it meant or really looked liked.  This is something I try to really stress to my students and try to use as many visuals as I can when teaching all sorts of concepts.  One thing I came across last year was this cute idea from Jessica at The Littlest Scholars. Here is what we did during our Math With the Teacher station =)

Most of the students understood the concept of using the rainbow to help them figure out the number combinations.  It will be work in progress for those students who struggled with it!  I was using colored bears for this concept as well so that seemed to help my neediest learners.  

Well, I will definitely take pictures of things that are going on tomorrow, although we do have MAP testing going on.  Does your district take part in MAP testing in the younger grades?  It starts in 1st grade in my district and continues on up.  Anyway, that will take up a chunk of the day so we will see what is picture-worthy tomorrow!

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Class pledge


I know I have spoken about my year last year and how it was quite difficult.  One thing that I was constantly reflecting on throughout the year and over the summer was my behavior management.  While I have always felt confident with managing behaviors, I found myself questioning some of my techniques last year with such a challenging group.  It was also a tough mix of students that I feel even the best behavior expert would have had some trouble with managing them, too!  

The management aspect has been at the forefront of my thoughts this year.  During a workshop I attended one year, the presenter stated, "You can't teach a class that you can't manage."  How true that statement is!!!  With that being said, I wanted to start off this year with making sure that the students knew the expectations of our classroom and that we were going to hold them to those expectations.  We are constantly talking about being respectful of others and making sure our students are being treated fairly by all of us.  

At the beginning of the year, we made something similar to this for our class rules:

I make this with my class every year. The middle is different with each class, but the beginning and end is always the same. We put it on posterboard and the kids all sign it.

This is such a cute idea and the kids really enjoyed doing it and participating in it!  Our wording is a bit different and we shared the marker so that we wrote some words and the students helped write some of the words, too.  All of their self portraits came out quite interesting, too!!  I think we might have one devil-looking portrait on our wall ;)

After that, we started learning our class pledge that we say every day after our morning announcements come on.  I feel like this is a really nice way to start our day and our learning!  Here is what we say:
Our morning announcements usually consist of the Pledge of Allegiance and any news that we need to know for the day.  Once they are finished, my class stays standing and we raise our right hand and recite the pledge together.  I feel like it really sums up the expectations of the day, today and every day!  (anyone get that Lucy Calkins reference?!)

Until next time!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Interval timer and math workshop

Something that I changed this year during math was doing math stations/guided math instead of whole group lessons.  Well, I guess I never really did whole group lessons in math (or maybe when I did, I wanted to rip my hair out because I've always had groups with SUCH a range of abilities that I felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off!) and so I quickly decided any other way was better than whole group!  I've tried a few different ways but could never find something that felt manageable to me and I would wind up changing things up after awhile or changing everything all together...

This year, I decided that our math time would be spent doing math stations/guided math (I use these terms interchangeably) so that I could see every student every day and differentiate as much as needed.  For example, our focus the past few days was adding and subtracting on a number line.  I was able to use the same number line in wipe-off sleeves but I changed the addition or subtraction sentences depending on the abilities of the group that I had.  It worked really well!  

To explain the math stations and what they are and what the students do:

Math With the Teacher - I will either repeat the mini lesson or continue on from where we left off the day before...I also do assessments during this time when needed.

Math With a Buddy - Students work with their group to play a game that has been introduced before.

Math With Technology - Students use either iPads or the computers in our class.

Math By Myself - Right now, we have the students doing Number of the Day journal pages but plan on doing different things throughout the year. 

They rotate through all 4 stations each day.  We usually wind up having about 45 minutes of math so this works out perfectly.  Something else that has made things SO MUCH EASIER was setting up an interval timer that we use every day during math.  I set it up using www.online-stopwatch.com.  Here it is:

While it's not the best picture, if you look at it closely, you can see that the intervals are labeled and it just automatically runs through (with clean up time added in!!) so that I don't have to worry about setting a timer after each station!  The students know that they have time to clean up and head to their next station.  They all have pretty much gotten it down pat and know that they need to get to that station before the chime goes off to begin the next interval.  Does that make sense?  We use bookmarks that help us know where to go next.  I can share them tomorrow.  I hope something from this post was helpful to you!

Until next time!  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Younique make up line...

Ok, so I said I was going to post more frequently but that didn't quite work out this week!  I also need to get in the habit of taking more pictures when my class does activities, because there are definitely things I can blog about that have worked in my room...I promise to take pictures this week and blog a few times about them!  To give you an idea of what I will be blogging about...1) Math stations, 2) Word study and 3) Classroom Management.  

Maybe one of the reasons why I haven't blogged more is because I essentially have a 2nd job (well 3rd job if you count being a mom and wife as one, which it definitely is a job!)  I have started selling Younique makeup and I LOVE it!  It's so much fun and is so rewarding to have people buying the products and loving them!  Our biggest seller is our 3D Fiber Lash Mascara and I can't seem to keep it in stock!  











I buy a few sets, post about them on Facebook and I've sold them within a few days.  Some ladies at work have gotten on the bandwagon and LOVE it!  I figured I would share the good news with you, too!  We sell more than just mascara but this is our biggest hit.  If you have any questions, or are just curious about the other products, too, feel free to browse my website and see if anything else interests you!  

Until next time!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Writer's Workshop-ish

It's been a few days since I've blogged last, but the beginning of the year is always so crazy busy (and exhausting!) that I just can't seem to find the time or energy to blog as much as I would like.  I promise that I'll do my best to write more often!

This past week was quite busy, as my coteacher (Allyson as I'll start referring to her as) and I are trying to get our students on a schedule that works for all of us.  Our schedule each day is pretty much the same and looks like this:
8:15-8:30: Morning Meeting
8:30-9:15: Readers Workshop
9:15-9:30: Brain Break
9:30-10:15: Writer's Workshop
10:15-10:30: Snack
10:30-11:15: Math Workshop
11:15-11:45: Project/Read Aloud
11:45-12:30: Recess and Lunch
12:30-1:15: Special
1:15-2:00: Word Study/Shared Reading
2:00-2:30: Science/Social Studies
2:30-2:45: Pack up and dismissal

Geez, when I type it all up like that, I realize why my students are pretty spent by the end of the day.  It's a lot for these little ones to be able to keep up with all of this each and every day!  Some days are busier than others but we somehow seem to get it all done!  

One subject I would like to talk about is Writer's Workshop.  We are working on building our students' stamina during this time, as they seem to struggle to keep on writing even after they think they are done.  Here are a few anchor charts we have made so far to remind them of the expectations and what they can do during writing time.   We frequently refer to the charts to let them know the great things we notice them doing, and some of the things we haven't noticed, but would like them to start trying. No judging on the drawings!  I'm not too bad with my illustrations if I have something to look at and copy.  The drawings still aren't the greatest, though!

Speaking of my own illustrations, one book I love to read to my students at the beginning of the year is the book titled Ish.  The story is about a little boy who loves to draw and thinks his drawings are good, until his older brother starts teasing him about them.  He crumples up his drawings but doesn't know that his little sister has been collecting them and putting them on her walls since she thinks they are wonderful!  When he finds out that his sister has them on her walls, they start talking about how the pictures don't need to be perfect and how they can be "ish" drawings.  They point to a few and call them "a tree-ish" or "a sun-ish" because the drawings are close enough!  Throughout the year, when I'm trying to draw in front of the class, I always refer to my drawings as "ish" so that they learn their drawings don't need to be perfect either!  It has seemed to work the past few years as I'll hear students refer to each other's drawings and say, "well, it's a car-ish" when they are conferencing with each other.  Too cute!

Let me know if there are any books that are a must for you to read to your class each year.  I'd love to get some other ideas!!

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

School stuff and a gluten free crockpot meal!

We have gotten through a whole week of school and are beginning our second full week.  It has been going pretty good so far! Our schedule is beginning to take shape and the students seem to be getting the hang of it all!  

What was really cool today was during Readers Workshop, I was teaching the mini lesson about how readers will go back and reread if they get distracted while reading.  A bunch of my students gave me the connection sign (or the "me too" sign, which is using your thumb and pinky and pointing to yourself and then towards the person talking...not sure if you can picture that!) and they had all remembered learning that in kindergarten!  They were experts at rereading!  Then, during Writer's Workshop, the mini lesson was about things you can do when you think you're done.  The anchor chart looks like this, and while I was making it, the students were telling me everything to add to the chart before I had a chance to write it down! Again, they were experts about continuing to write and work the whole time during Writer's Workshop!  How awesome is that?!  What a great job the kindergarten teachers are doing, especially when the students are remembering mini lessons that most likely happened about a year ago but clearly have stood out for the students.  

Now, to switch gears, I thought I'd share another gluten free recipe with you!  I don't like making things that require so many gf things that I need to buy, so I tend to look for recipes that can just be tweaked with one or two gf ingredients.  Here is the recipe from The Sweets Life:

Ingredients:
-2 1/2 lbs (or 3 cups) chicken breast cut into 1" chunks (I just buy a package of chicken breasts and chop them up.  I don't measure this out!)
-1 cup chopped onion
-1 cup chopped celery
-1 cup chopped carrots
-4-5 cloves garlic, minced
-2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained
-1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
-1 cup chicken broth (This has to be GF because many broths have wheat flour or some other flour that is off limits to GF folks.  I like Swanson's Organic Chicken Broth)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp cayenne (1 tbsp for major spice!)
-1 tsp paprika (1 tbsp for major spice!)
-1/2 tsp cumin (1/2 tbsp for major spice!)
-1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
-blue cheese crumbles, for topping

Directions:
1. Add chopped veggies and garlic to the crock pot. Pour the two cans of (drained) tomatoes into the crockpot. Add black beans, chicken, broth, and spices.
2. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours (may be done sooner than this!). Before serving, stir in hot sauce. Divide among bowls and top with blue cheese.
*keeps for several days, or can be frozen!

SO good and very easy and one that is frequently requested by the hubby!!  I hope you enjoy it if you try it!!

One more thing...if you are interested in trying out this awesome new 3D Fiber Lash mascara, check out my Younique website to learn more and order!! 

Until next time!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back to School Night...


We had Back to School Night (or Open House as some districts call it) on Thursday night.  It always makes for such a long day but it's worth it to be able to meet with the parents and let them know what the routine and expectations are like in the classroom.  We had a decent turnout for it so I was happy! 

I thought I'd share two little things we made for the night. My coteacher and I both made something to put out on the students' desks for the parents when they came in.  The first thing was the lifesavers complete with the saying "Supportive families are a LIFESAVER!"  This is so TRUE in so many ways!!  Having families that are supportive and open about their own child makes such a difference when trying to work through a variety of things throughout the year.  I hope parents know that we truly appreciate them!!

           
Another thing we put on their desks was a bag of popcorn with the saying, "Welcome.  Thanks for popping in!"  I have done this for a few years now and it's always a big hit with the parents and the students, too!  I think it's a nice gesture just to have a little something extra for the parents, although it is definitely not necessary!
Overall, the night went well, although I was super tired the next day!  I'm happy we were able to hold it on a Thursday night so that all we had to get through was Friday.  There were a few years when it was held earlier in the week and it was just so tough to get through the rest of the week because you never truly felt like you caught up on sleep or just relaxing.  

Until next time!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

First 2 days!


Well, the year has officially begun since my students started this past Thursday.  I will say that my group is a really good one, full of really sweet kids!  I am super relieved because the group I had last year was a really, really tough mix which made for a VERY long year.  I can already tell, even after only 2 days, that this is going to be a good year!  I'm also excited that my co-teacher is wonderful!  This is her first year teaching but she really knows her stuff and isn't afraid to jump in and do what is needed.  That is a big relief, especially when teaching in an inclusion setting.  Both teachers need to be strong in order for it to truly be beneficial for the students.  

I thought I'd share a few pictures from our second day of school.  I didn't have a chance to take any pictures from the first day since it was a busy one!  You always forget just how busy that first day is and just how little you feel like you accomplish...or am I the only one who feels that way?! 

One procedure I feel is a must at the beginning of the year is teaching the students how to handle the math manipulatives.  We use these A LOT for learning and often the students feel like they are math toys instead of learning tools.  We spoke about the correct way to use them and then let the students explore the different things they could do with them... 

This group enjoyed making shapes with the base ten blocks! 

This group loved just connecting the cubes together and then taking them apart!

And this group was so excited to showcase all the pictures they were able to make using pattern blocks.

I forgot to take a picture of it, but after we finished exploring the math manipulatives, we made an anchor chart about Mathematical Practice #5 about using appropriate tools strategically.  We had the students think about what they could use the math manipulatives for and they wrote their idea on a post it note and then placed it on our anchor chart. Doing quick post it note activities (you can call them stop-n-jot) are a good assessment for multiple reasons.  One thing I could see was how the students were able to write independently, and how their spelling was.  Another was just to see if they even understood what they had to do once they got back to their seats.  We have a wide range of learners in this class so this stop-n-jot was a great informal assessment.  Most of them said to help them count, make patterns or learn more about math.  Those are all great answers!

Well, I'll share some other activities that we did tomorrow.

Until next time!



Monday, September 1, 2014


This is my first Currently post!  Woo hoo!  It took me a bit to figure out how to do this, but I'm excited that I was able to make it work!  To explain it a little:

listening...I always turn on a sound machine for my daughter Marissa whenever she goes to sleep. Her machine has different sounds on there but I chose to use the ocean sound. It has become part of our "night night" routine and she often looks at me funny if I happen to forget to it.  She's 21 months and I can't believe how much she has changed even just since the summer began! 

loving...I really am grateful to have a job that allows me the summers off.  This summer I have especially enjoyed it since I spent the entire summer with my daughter.  She is talking up a storm, on the go all.the.time. and just a joy to be around.  Whenever we go to a store, people are constantly stopping me to tell me how her smile has made their day.  What a nice compliment to receive all the time!  She's the best!

thinking...that it is going to be tough to get up, get ready and out the door tomorrow morning.  I know I'll get to school on time after dropping my daughter off, but I can't help but worry that I won't be able to spend my time wisely!

wanting...for my Younique business to take off.  I have been looking for something to do on the side and came across this new crazy lash business.  They sell more than just mascara, but they sell this 3D Fiber Lash mascara that is a HUGE hit!  It is amazing and people can't resist buying it. I've had some good sales already but I'm hoping it continues to pay off and be worthwhile.  Fingers crossed!

needing...there are always things we want but often not many things that we need. I truly don't feel like I need anything right now.

3 trips...they are all self-explanatory I think!  Hawaii and Bora Bora would be to see the amazing sights and beaches, and Vegas to see the craziness that goes on!  

And that's all for today.  This is my 2nd post so I'm done for the day!
Until next time! 


New look...

So what do you think of the new look?  I L.O.V.E. it!!  Thanks so much to Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs!  I contacted her on Tuesday and she finished my blog makeover already today!  She was amazing and answered lots of my questions =)  If you were looking for a blog makeover, I would totally recommend her! 

I'm trying to get ready for the first day back tomorrow.  While we don't have students tomorrow, it is still tough to get back in the swing of things.  Plus tomorrow will be lots of mandatory training and things like that when all we can think about is setting up our rooms to be ready for the little ones to walk through the door.  I'll keep you posted on how the first few days go!

Until next time!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Back to school

On Wednesday, we have our Meet the Teacher Day at school.  This is when the students and the parents come in to meet the teachers and see the classroom. (I will say it's often telling to see the students with their parents before the first day of school, if you know what I mean =)) It's always nice to have something on their desks for the students to take home.  Last year, I gave them baggies full of Lucky Charms and a label of "I'm lucky to have you in my class!"  I wanted to change it up this year and do something different.  I have used glow bracelets in the past for holidays but didn't think to use them for the beginning of the year!  I found this idea on Pinterest from Jodi at Fun in First and I love it!  I went to Michael's today, got two containers of the glow bracelets (12 in each container) for a $1 each, printed out the labels from Fun in First and put them together. I hope the students like them! What types of things do you do for the beginning of the year?

Until next time!
Michelle

Blog makeover!

I'm currently undergoing a blog makeover...stay tuned to see the results!

Plus, I'll share how the first few days of school went =)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Getting ready


Here in New Jersey, we don't begin school until after Labor Day.  I know some schools have already started, but we don't have our first official day (for teachers) until next Tuesday, the 2nd.  The students begin on the 4th and have just Thursday and Friday that week.  Sometimes I'm not sure how I like such a short week for them to come back, because I feel like all the routines and things that were taught those two days get lost over the weekend.  However, it is nice to have two days with them and then have a weekend to recover from trying to get back in the swing of things!  I'm crossing my fingers that my class this year is a bit easier than my class last year.  Last year was FULL of learning lessons and I'm hoping to take a lot of what I learned into this year and all the years to come.  I will talk about some of those lessons in another post =)  

Below are just some ideas of what I've been working on for my room. Yes, I do have a personal laminator that I use at home. I wasn't all that keen on buying it at first but I am SO, SO glad that I did.  I don't use it all that much during the school year but I use it a lot during the summer time.  It comes in handy to have things laminated right away and I do like the fact that the lamination is thicker than what we have at school. Tonight I was laminating a WELCOME sign (hence the large E that you see!) and labels for my math bins.  I changed where I house all my math manipulatives and thought I'd get new labels for them, too.  In the past, I just had the label on the shelf where they were supposed to go back, but this year I decided to label the bin AND the shelf.  We'll see if it works any better. I will take some pictures tomorrow of my classroom and share them on here.  Maybe you can get some ideas =) 


Also, I can't finish out a post without adding in my new "business."  
If you are interested in trying the mascara (I know you want to!), visit my website: www.youniqueproducts.com/MMKinsella/party/467649/view

Until next time!
Michelle

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Have you heard?

Have you heard of this new mascara that is being made by the company Younique?  If you haven't, you must check out my website and learn more!  I just decided to become a presenter for the company and I am so excited!  The 3D fiber lash mascara is AMAZING and there are noticeable differences between regular mascara and this fiber lash mascara.  I thought I'd share some pictures over the next few days so you can see what I'm talking about:
Come check out my website: Michelle's Younique website and learn more!!

Until next time,
Michelle

Sunday, August 17, 2014

GF dessert

I thought I would share a quick dessert that I made tonight. It was really good and made from scratch!! Here is a picture of it before it baked:
I completely forgot to take a picture of it when it was done but it went very quickly!! Everyone really enjoyed it!! I used GF all purpose flour in place of regular flour. Everything else (including the vanilla) is GF. If you would like the recipe, here you go: 

http://www.barefeetinthekitchen.com/2014/06/blueberry-snack-cake-recipe.html?m=1

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Picture directions

Something that I have found to be extremely helpful when working with any students (general ed. or special ed.) is to use picture directions to remind them what to do next.  How many times have you had students come up to you and ask, "Ok, now I wrote down my name and colored.  What do I do next?"  This problem can be easily be solved by using picture directions!  I had made my own when I first began teaching (they are in one of my file cabinets at school and I have yet to step back in my room yet...we don't go back until September but I know I need to get a move on it!) but I found these when reading A Cupcake for the Teacher's blog.  They are super cute and so much better than the ones I made almost 9 years ago!  If you'd like your own, you can find them here


This past year I had students who really struggled to read and who also had trouble following more than one direction at a time.  If they came over while I was working with another student, I would just remind them to look at the easel to see what to do next.  It helps all students to use these types of directions, not just the struggling ones, especially if there are a few steps to follow before completing the assignment/project.  Hope you find these helpful!

Until next time,
Michelle


Monday, August 11, 2014

Gluten free dinner

I thought I would share a crockpot meal that I made today that was super easy and gluten free! All you would need are chicken breasts (or any cut of chicken would work), brown rice (I made that separate), 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn and a red pepper. I cut up the chicken and red pepper, drained and rinsed the black beans and then the corn and threw it all in the crockpot. I added some water, salt, pepper and garlic and set it on low for 8 hours. Yum!! You could use chicken stock or veggie stock, too bit just make sure it is gluten free if needed. Once everything was done, I added the rice and that was our meal! Sorry that the picture shows me already diving into my plate but I was hungry!

Let me know if you try this out!

Until next time,
Michelle


Friday, August 8, 2014

Gluten free snack idea...



One of my go-to snacks during the day and sometimes at night as "dessert" for me, I choose to eat a granola bar.  I often throw one in my school lunch bag to eat either during lunch or later on in the day. I LOVE Van's GF Peanut Butter Chocolate bars, but I will say they aren't cheap!  You only get 5 bars in the box (does this odd number bother anyone else, too?!) and I usually find them at Shop Rite or Target for about $3.99.  If they are on sale, I have found them for $3.50 so not much of a savings. They also make them in other flavors and I like the Chocolate Chip ones, too.  

While on Pinterest the other day, I decided to look up recipes for some GF granola bars that I could make myself.  I haven't really been one to make a lot of things from scratch but lately, I find myself wanting to do this a.) to save a little money, and b.) to know what is in what I'm eating.  Do you ever look at the ingredients on the boxes of what you like and wonder what some of them are?!  I don't have a choice but to read labels if something isn't labeled gluten free, and I often put items back just because I have no idea what some of the ingredients are.  Anyway, I thought I'd share the recipe for homemade granola bars that I found and then made tonight!  Here's the picture of them before I put them in the freezer to "settle".  
Of course, I had to try them once they had been in the freezer for over an hour and OMG, they are DELICIOUS!  I did tweak the recipe a little bit (I used honey like suggested instead of the corn syrup) and I added sunflower seeds as well just to give it a little more crunch and something else that was healthy.  While I was mixing the chocolate chips in with everything, they did begin to melt.  I don't notice a big deal with that as you still get the chocolate flavor in the bars but maybe just not as much if they didn't melt within the batch.  I'd highly recommend this recipe if you were looking to make granola bars from scratch!!  Super easy to make!  Let me know if you try these out and let me know what you think!

Until next time!
Michelle