Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy College Football Kick-off Day + Blog Gems 8/26 - 9/1

Happy College Football Kick-off Day!

(Let's be honest, we all know I care way more about the good football snacks and playful rivalry than the actual football games.)

I never thought I'd see the day that I would allow my son to wear a mesh football jersey - and a VT one at that.  But, he does look pretty darn cute, right?  (P.S. Please take note of his cup!)

And now, a few good reads from around the inter-webs this week... Enjoy!

 "I Am a Crappy Mom" by BethAtStructure, reposted on  (Pretty much my battle cry!)

"Reflecting" a great come-back post from my friend Libby, and a good reminder for us all.

My blog-turned-real-life friend Ashley shared a great series titled: "Making It Work on One Income" this week.  (Even though we are both working right now, this offered some great tips, and I love Ashley's honesty and vulnerability.)

"How to Talk With Your Sons About Robin Thicke" by Eric Clapp.  (Sam's a bit young for the birds and the bees talk, but I'm holding on to this for the inevitable future. #shootmenow)

"10 Ways to be a Happier Mom" from Ann Voskamp (a true happiness & holiness expert in my book) posted on Incourage.  

And... for a really good laugh. ;)

Chapman Family Staycation 2013 begins in T-minus six hours.   Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Midweek Confessions 8/28

Happy Wednesday friends!  You know what that means...

- Sam has two GIANT bumps/bruises/cuts on his head right now (neither of which, for the record, was acquired on my watch).  This is nothing out of the ordinary, really, but it seems like everywhere I go people make comments about how "tough" he looks or "what a boy" he is.  The problem? When you say "Wow, he's a real rough and tumble boy," I know what you are really saying is, "Wow, what a negligent mom you are."  Nothing like motherhood to teach you humility.

- On a similar note... Last night, Sam and I met some friends at a neighborhood park we had never been to before.  We parked across the street and had to cross two lanes of traffic to get to the playground where our friends were waiting and waving.  When we got to the curb, the walk sign was showing a flashing red hand which, to me, means "hurry up," so... I hurried up.  Unfortunately, Sam didn't get the memo.  He was just putting along and, sure enough, the light changed and everyone was waiting for us. Naturally, I walked even faster; and, naturally, Sam decided to quit walking all together and went completely limp.  So... Basically, I drug Sam across the street, almost pulled his arm out of socket, and held up traffic while I did it.  #onemoreforthewin

- I was running a tad bit late on the first day of school (go figure) so I skipped making coffee and opted for a Diet Dr. Pepper from the drink machine in the lounge instead.  Like I have done millions of times before, I put my $1.25 (highway robbery) in the machine and waited; but, the drink never came.  CRISIS!  I pushed several other buttons, attempted to get my money back, inserted an additional dollar, and - eventually - complained to the custodian when she walked by and saw my distress.  Then... just as she came to investigate the stealing machine... I actually got down and looked inside and... there it was... my drink.  It had been sitting there all along.  I'm a moron.

- I just wrote an entire paragraph about getting a Diet Dr. Pepper from a drink machine.

- I have physically written the dates for the Parenthood (Sept. 26th) and Scandal (Oct. 3rd) season premieres on my calendar.  It's going to be a wild fall around here people.

- Last week I noticed a small pile of Sam's fingernails in his little trashcan.  This made me realize that I have not cut his nails in, like, EVER.  Apparently, the grandparents and sitter have been quietly taking care of this task and I've been living in a fantasy world where fingernails cut themselves.  #ittakesavillage

I think that's enough dirt for one day!  Can't wait to read what humiliating things you've been doing... You have been doing humiliating things, haven't you?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Teaching Tuesday: Decoration and Organization for the High School Classroom*

*That's fancy-talk for "Classroom Tour," by the way.

Today was the first day back with students.  I am tired and already feel overwhelmed; but, honestly, it's good to be back in my game. All of my new freshman were smiling and eager, and it was really nice to be starting the school year in a familiar place with two out of my three classes being the same kids as last year - almost like we were just returning from Winter break except with suntans (them, not me) and new school supplies (I'm shocked marketing merchandisers haven't caught on and started doing a big push for "re-stocking" school supplies in January.  Anyone else?).

Anyway, today I'm sharing some photos of my classroom in hopes of "inspiring" some of my fellow high school teachers that we don't have to leave all the cute decorations and Pinterest-worthy organization ideas to the primary grades. :)

Step right in...

My "information center" is home to a weekly calendar, a white board decal for each class' announcements, and important details about the school schedule, emergency plans, etc. I also have my Yellow Sheets for missing work, my make-up work binder, and extra pens (that look like flowers to prevent stealing) for the students.

My desk is big and takes up a lot of space in the room.  To try to best utilize that space, I make all kinds of office supplies - stapler, hole-punch, tape, paper clips, pencils, etc. - available to my students on it.  For the most part, they are respectful and mature enough to handle this "easy access."

Behind my desk, I have a large (ugly) filing cabinet with a drawer for each grade level to store their writing assignments all year long.  The white box on top is for class hand-outs that have been copied and papers that need to be returned to students.  (That idea is new this year, and I think I'm going to really like it.)

Completely opposite from my desk is another bright bulletin board (which I made from plastic tablecloths) waiting to be filled.

In the front of the room, I have a special bulletin board specifically for posting my lesson plans each week.  This helps cut down on the "whatarewedoingtoday" drone that will start in about two weeks  (P.S. Would you believe the fancy lesson plan template I made isn't going to work this year because we switched to a new Blackboard?  Ugg.  I hope some of you are using it!)

There are also labeled bins at the front of the room where students can store their journals...

And a large bookcase with all of our supplemental novels.  *New this school year, I've numbered every single book in my classroom.  I have also assigned every student a number that will be used to identify him/herself all year.  The numbers are done in alphabetical order, so they will help me quickly alphabetize assignments before putting them in the grade book AND keep track of who has lost or damaged a book.

And, finally, toward the back of the room, I have a two more plastic drawer sets.  I have numbered each drawer (one for each of the six groups in class) and stocked it with scissors, glue, fresh markers, highlighters, etc. etc.  I found this idea on Pinterest and love it!  The best part? Groups can take their entire drawer back to their desks and return it after class.

Alrighty then, that's all for today.  

Midweek Confessions will be back tomorrow.  Please come join in!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

End-of-Summer Staycation

Earlier in the summer, contacted me about reviewing their 2013 "Ultimate Summer Staycation Guide," and I - of course - obliged.  I love the concept of a staycation - enjoying a relaxing break from the norm without actually travelling.  Not only is this a much more affordable option than big vacations, anyone who's ever traveled with a toddler can appreciate the ease of NOT having to pack, entertain during a car drip, and unpack. Am I right?!?

Unfortunately, we've been so busy going this summer, that I haven't really had the opportunity to plan our own staycation.  Luckily, I'm a big believer in the "it ain't over till it's over" philosophy, so - even though I am officially back to school already - we are going to be celebrating the official end to summer with a Labor Day staycation next weekend.

According to the guide, there are a few "dos" and "don'ts" to keep in mind when planning a staycation:

- DO relax, plan ahead, set a budget, clean your place ahead of time, take lots of photos, try new places and activities, and explore your own community.

- DON'T check your email, voicemail, or do work, run errands or do chores, stick to the "usual" places and hangouts, or be a couch potato.

Considering those things (and the fact that it is a three day weekend), I'm planning for our official staycation to run from about 6PM on Saturday to 6PM on Monday.  This allows me some time to recover from my first full week back at work and get housework done on Saturday, plus have some time Monday night to get organized for the next week while still giving us a solid 48 hours to play and relax.  I am also giving myself a budget of roughly $100.00 for the two days. 

Based off of the great ideas and advice provided in the guide, here are a few things on my staycation agenda...

- Watch the season opener football games for both Clemson and Virginia Tech with friends
- Visit our newly re-opened science museum and butterfly exhibit downtown
- Take an evening boat ride on the lake
- Eat breakfast for dinner
- Make Blueberry Oatmeal Marshmallow Cookies (recipe on page 14 of the guide)
- Pack a picnic and explore a new park
- Have a family movie night

I'm getting giddy just thinking about it; BUT, if I'm being totally honest, also a little anxious... Disconnecting from technology and avoiding any form of work/chores for 48 hours is pretty far out of my comfort zone these days.  Regardless, I think this will be the perfect "end" to a wonderful summer for our little family and a much-needed recharge before a busy busy school year. 

 I'll let you know how it goes. :)

So, what about you?  Do you have plans for next weekend?  Want to join us in the staycation challenge?  You can download the full staycation guide from right here. (Even if you aren't planning a staycation this year, there are still lots of great family fun ideas and recipes.)

*I was given a $100.00 Visa gift card in exchange for my review; but, I really did enjoy the guide & gleaned some great ideas for planning my own staycation!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Saying Hello and Announcing a Winner

Just a friendly "hello" to let you know I'm still here - albeit a bit buried under paperwork and creative ideas that require lots of work to implement.

I hadn't intended to slack on the blog this week, but, I have to be honest with you, this mama is struggling to find the energy to do much of anything after just four days of working full time again.  I know I will get in a groove, and it will get easier, but - right now - I'm pooped.

That's the bad news.  The good news?  I am LOVING being in the classroom and am so excited for the kids to get there on Tuesday.  I really am so blessed to have a job I love so much.  (Lots more thoughts on this... I will get them down soon.  Promise.)

Anyway, I wanted to pop in tonight to announce the winner of my August Sponsor Giveaway...

Congratulations to MEREDITH CATES!

Meredith happens to be a friend-of-a-friend in real life, and she is just the cutest, preppiest, brand-new mom ever.  Girl, you are going to have SO much fun browsing these sweet shops!! (Look for an email from me so we can personalize your prize pack and work out all the details.)

Didn't win?  Don't forget that many of the shops are offering E, Myself, and I coupon codes etc. right now - See my description of each sponsor here.

Interested in sponsoring?  Check out my Sponsor/PR page and email me for more details!  (Invoices will go out next week for September/October.)

And, finally, as a reward for those of you still reading... Here are five quick things I want you to know:

1. Sam got rid of his paci.  It has been totally gone for almost two weeks now.

2. We have started (sort-of) potty training.  It is going better than I expected.

3. Sam is getting his FIRST HAIRCUT tomorrow!

4. I am looking for guest posters for a new series this fall called "Making It Work as a Working Mom."  If you are a working mom (whether you have a blog or not) and would like to contribute, please email me! (

5. We got a new dishwasher.  The fact that this is so exciting to me makes me feel very old and boring.

More soon!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teaching Tuesday: Classroom Organization Binder + Lesson Plan Template for Block Scheduling

Welcome back to the second installment of 'Teaching Tuesday.'  Thanks so much to all of you who commented and/or emailed about the Yellow Sheet in my last post.  I especially LOVED hearing that so many of you are using that idea and having success with it.  Seriously, I think collaborating and sharing ideas with each other is SO important in the teaching profession... I am happy to contribute any way I can!

On that note, this week, I'm talking about my Classroom Organization Binder and sharing the template I use for lesson planning.

You might recall that about a year ago Home Organization Binders were all the rage in the blog world.  And, I admit, I was quick to jump on that wagon.  (I've got a beautifully organized home organization notebook with very little actual home organization right now - ha!)  Anyway, when I ran across the idea for a similar binder to keep up with school-related information at Eat.Write.Teach last summer, I fell in LOVE.   It was an 'Aha!' moment in my teaching career! (Thanks Stephanie!)

I immediately made my own Classroom Organization Binder; and, unlike my home binder, this one I actually used last school year. The concept is so simple, really - just put everything you use on a given day both at home and at school (related to work, that is) in one neat and tidy place.  Seriously, it is one of the best things I've done for my sanity as a teacher, and I will definitely make one every year from here on out - in fact, I'm finishing up this year's version today!

The initial set-up/organization takes about an hour (depending on how OCD you want to get)& will help you restore some peace and purpose to the mass of paperwork, etc. that (unfortunately) surrounds the classroom these days.  Plus, it totally gives you a great excuse to go "school supply" shopping! ;)

I'm a big proponent of NOT re-inventing the wheel, so this is when I'm going to kindly direct you back to Stephanie's blog where she wonderfully outlines exactly how she uses her notebook/ "Sanity Saver" AND provides FREE templates for everything right here.

But, just in case you are interested, here's how I set up mine (in a nutshell):

My binder has eight sections (which is nice because the tabs come in packs of 8) and each section has a different color divider/folder and a "cover sheet" if you will.  My sections are as follows:

1. Weekly To Do & Lesson Plans with my complete 'To Do' list, my checklist from administration, and copies of the week's plans for each of my three classes (see below for a lesson plan template)

2. Calendars & Schedules with the school calendar, a bell schedule, and a blank monthly calendar to keep track of 'A' and 'B' days, important deadlines, etc.  (Although, I'll be honest, I'm mostly just going to use my Plum Planner for all that this year.)

3. Rosters, Attendance, & Emergency for my class lists, attendance records, and fire-drill/safety plans etc.  (P.S. I've gotten a lot of questions about how I manage attendance and make-up work... Look for that topic on a Tuesday SOON.)

4. Missing Work Logs & Parent Contact where I keep used Yellow Sheets and a list of all parent communication.  NOTE: Some teachers may need to use a whole binder for this; but, generally, I don't have a ton of missing work.

5. Syllabi & Course Outlines for... you guessed it... syllabi & course outlines. ;)

6. Testing & Standards with printouts of the state standards for each grade (which I use when lesson planning), test blueprints, and prognosis results, and scores.

7. SPED for student IEPs and other special education resources.  (Generally, I don't have many of these anymore; but, in my old position, I always made an easy 'at a glance' checklist for each class so I didn't miss important accommodations etc. too.)

8. Other for everything else.

And that's it!  This goes home with me every evening and is a "one stop shop" for pretty much anything I might need when I am away from my classroom.  It keeps me from lugging home three big binders every day and helps me keep my head above water in the sea of constant paperwork.  *This would also be super helpful for a teacher who travels between schools and/or classrooms.

So, what do you think?  Do you have something like this?  Please share your ideas!

As a bonus, I thought I'd share my lesson plan template and technique today since I've gotten a couple of questions about that lately too -- 
I have always used a simple table/chart in a Word document to write up my plans each week.  Although sometimes the formatting gets a little wonky, for the most part, I find that it is easy to just copy and paste that table for each week into Blackboard where I post weekly plans for students and parents every Monday.

This year, I am doing something a little different and attempting to plan for two-week spans (that's five 90 min. class periods on a standard A/B block schedule) to help make life a little easier if there is a snow day or some other interruption that changes the course of things.  

Here's a look at my blank template (which will be customized every two weeks with specific dates, standards, activities, homework, and reminders)

and a sample lesson plan so you can see what it looks like "in action."

Download the blank Word document/template here.

*A quick note about size: I have tried to make this template a size that will easy tranfer (copy/paste) under Announcements on Blackboard; however, I think this is different on every computer etc.I recommend trying out the blank template on your BB and then adjusting the size to one that works best for you.

I am, by NO MEANS, an expert at this.  I've been changing up my form a little each year trying to find something that works well for my specific class needs... I'm really hoping this will be a good fit this year; but, if you have any suggestions or a link to a great lesson-plan template, please feel free to share below!

Hope this was helpful!

P.S. If you haven't already, be sure to enter my August Sponsor Giveaway here.  It ends tomorrow night and, so far, odds are only 25:1.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Kick Rash (+ $100 Visa Giveaway)

It's not every day you get to use a play on "bad" words like that, folks. Even better, I really am "kicking rash" - think little bottoms in wet swimmie diapers for hours at a time - thanks to Boudreaux's Butt Paste. ;)

First of all, how much does Sam look like that "funny looking baby" on the label?!?!

Now, let me back this thing up a little bit...  ;)

I wouldn't say that Sam had terrible diaper rash as a baby, but we've definitely had our fair share of red booty bumps thanks to colic, lots of antibiotic rounds, and just general baby stuff.  (I even vividly remember texting my friend Lea - who is a pediatric physician's assistant - pictures of his behind for advice on some of worst days!)  Anyway, we found relief in Boudreaux's Butt Paste and quickly learned to apply it very generously at the first sign of a rash.  Diaper rash is NO fun for mom or baby, but Boudreaux's made it so much better... Typically, one thick application of cream and a good night's sleep was enough to see a MAJOR improvement.  Basically, Boudreaux's kicks rash. :)

Last month at Blogher, I was invited to meet the founder of our favorite diaper rash cream, Dr. George Boudreaux, and hear some of the butt paste story... I was delighted to find him so friendly and down to earth - a real grandpa kind-of a guy! Even more, I was really impressed by his "average Joe" success story!

In a nutshell, George started his career as pharmacist at a small-town pharmacy in Louisiana in the late 1970s. As the father to four kids himself, he had seen his fair share of diaper rash and was never completely happy with the options he had for treating it.  After hearing many of the same complaints from the parents he saw in his pharmacy day after day, he decided to work on creating the perfect formula himself.  Soon, his babies had happy bottoms and customers were asking for some of his 'magic butt cream.'

I loved listening to George describe his path from small-town pharmacist to big-name brand.  He said he started out by going to trade shows and handing out t-shirts with the "funny-looking baby" on it and a case of his cream with a 100% money back guarantee.  Soon, big-name retailers were carrying Boudreaux's Butt Cream.  My favorite part of the story?  George said that in the early 2000s (honestly, he knew the exact date, I just can't remember it), he went on OPRAH, and the next day the product COMPLETELY sold out across the country.  Wild right?!

Now, two years into this parenting gig, I think we've got the diaper rash thing down - butt paste, lots of butt paste.  Recently, at the beach, I found that a good layer of cream before the swim diaper was an excellent way to prevent the ugly rash from coming up in the first place. 

Speaking of "ugly rashes," allow me to introduce you to Rashadon - your child's arch nemesis.

Now, for some fun (and a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card)...

- Post a funny Boudreaux's Butt Paste related photo on Instagram (like mine below) and come back here to leave a link to the photo in the comments.

- Leave a comment telling your own story of success defeating diaper rash with Boudreaux's Butt Paste (George might even choose your story to be featured on his brand-new website  

- OR, post a video on Twitter telling your Butt Paste story and comment with a link.

Do one, or do a couple!  Each Instagram link, Boudreaux's story, or video share link posted in the comments enters you to into a random drawing for one of fifteen $100.00 Visa gift cards, readers can enter up to two times.

.... Because a Boudreaux's butt is a happy butt (and a happy butt = happy momma).

Good luck!

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
Leave a comment in response to the Promotion prompt on this post.
Tweet (public message) about this Promotion, including a link to the video located here and exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that Tweet in a comment on this post.
Post (publicly) a Boudreaux’s Butt Paste-related picture on Instagram, including exactly the following unique term in the image description: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that Instagram photo in a comment on this post.
Blog about this Promotion (including a link to the video located here and a disclosure that you have received a sweepstakes entry in exchange for blogging about this Promotion), and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner  will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 8/19/13 - 9/15/13.
Be sure to visit the Boudreaux's Butt Paste page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

5 Must-Have Supplies for High Schoolers (and a Way to Give Back)

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

Remember the good old days in elementary school when every WalMart in town carried freshly printed supply lists from every school?!?  Oh how I loved picking out my new pencil pouch and Lisa Frank folder that I absolutely HAD to have because "the teacher said so."  It was, truly, Christmas in August.

Of course, somewhere along the way, the universe decided that this was far too easy and decided to get rid of supply lists at the secondary level.  As a result, by the first day of school, the supplies will be picked over and thousands of teenagers will be swarming the aisles scrambling to find college-ruled paper, a black & white composition book, etc. etc. some time between the first and second day of school.  It's a sad sad situation.  ;)

In an effort to be "part of the solution," I've put together a little list of school supplies that I recommend for high schoolers... Excluding the standard paper and pens, here are five organizational tools for students that I consider "must haves" so you can get a head-start on the crowds:

(1 & 2) Whenever a student asks me for help in a class, the first place I start is organizing their class materials.  This is SO important and a great skill for teens to learn before they graduate.  It is as simple as a three-ring binder and a five-pack of tab dividers.

(3) There are a million resources online to make flash cards etc., but I'm a firm believer in the "write it to remember it" philosophy. I LOVE good, old-fashioned flash cards to student vocabulary terms, literary concepts, etc. etc. 

(4) We do a lot of annotating in my class, so highlighters are a must.

(5) At my school, students are actually issued a laptop at the beginning of the school year; but, even still, they are CONSTANTLY 'losing' assignments to the great unknown space of the computer and/or 'unable to print,' etc.  You can find flash drives just about anywhere, and they are very affordable now.  

Speaking of Back-to-School, I'm excited to tell you a little bit about a way YOU can help the Boys & Girls Club of America and Disney support students by participating in their online supply drive...

It's super easy... Just take a fun pop-quiz style game, and Disney will donate school supplies for each correct answer to local BGCA chapters!  

You can get more information about this and other BGCA Back-to-School initiatives, as well as access to a plethora of great back-to-school tips etc. here.  Please take a few minutes to support today's youth and education!

What are you doing to get ready to go back to school?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blog Gems 8/10 - 8/18

We'll call this the "Back to School Edition" of Blog Gems.  SO many good things on the web this week...  (Just imagine very emphatic "YES"es from me next to each of the below posts.)

"Embracing Public School as a Christian Mom" from Fancy Little Things

"What I Want the Parents of My Students to Know" from Petals of Joy

 "Why Teaching Is So Doggone Hard" from Enjoying the Journey

"It Gets Better" on Momastery - A re-post from Glennon (well, technically her sister since she is taking a 40 day internet break *copy cat*) of the letter she reads to her kids every year before the first day of school.  Powerful stuff.

"A Sending Prayer for College Freshmen" from Chatting at the Sky

"Worst End of Summer Mom Ever: A Sequel" from Jen Hatmaker - a HILARIOUS update after this "viral" post back in May

I told you there was good stuff out there right now!  Enjoy your weekends friend!

AND... If you haven't already, please take a minute to go enter my August Sponsor Giveaway for a chance to win $25.00 to spend in any of my sponsors' shops + a prize package from all seven worth more than $100.00.  (Go to the original post to enter HERE.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beach Trip 2013 in Photos

Today is my last official day of summer break.  I'm not sad really, but I do feel extra lazy and simultaneously feel the nagging to actually DO some of the things I've put off for the last two months.  In reality, I will probably take Sam to the new science museum in town, eat lunch out, and maybe fold a load of laundry or two.  #IhaveuntilSundaytopanic

Anyway, what better way to honor the end of an amazing summer than to share some photos from one of the biggest highlights - our family beach trip to Seabrook Island, SC. 

This year was extra special because Jeff and I were able to spend the week with BOTH sets of our parents, and Sam was 100% spoiled by all FOUR grandparents...  When I told people all seven of us were staying in one house, they looked at me like I was totally crazy; but, I knew it would be wonderful - and it WAS...

Sam ADORED everything about the beach and seeing it through his eyes and watching the joy of his grandparents getting to experience it with him was absolutely PRICELESS.  One of the best vacations we've ever had.

Alright, I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking --

I think it's pretty obvious who ran this show! ;)

- BIG thanks to our family friends, the Thompsons, for sharing their BEAUTIFUL home with us!

- Sam's adorable anchor outfit is from Lil Sweetie Designs.  Thanks Cameron!!

Already dreaming about next year...

P.S. If you haven't already, please go check out my wonderful sponsors and enter to win $25.00 to spend in their shops + an awesome prize pack!

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