2015! What a year. So much happened, I think it's time for a re-cap of the year I got the nerve to make one of the biggest changes of my professional life and see what I have in store for 2016!

2015 began with a new blog design for me. I love my darling little Mini-Wheat.
I still have A LOT to learn about blogging and in 2016 I hope to finish Blog Traffic School and post on a more regular basis. I'm also loving my collaboration with some very talented teachers at The Primary Punch Bowl. 

In 2015, I also got up on my soap box and spilled my guts about my thoughts and frustrations with the New York State Education system. This post also solidified my resolve to continue pursuing a job change.

I had just returned from maternity leave, during which I had begun to get my professional life in order: resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation. I didn't know if it would "work". I mean, there are 22 year-olds coming out of college with 3-4 certifications and here I was with ONE. But, I decided I would try.

After MONTHS of applying and waiting for phone calls, none came, I started to lose hope and pretty much decided that it wasn't going to happen. The school year came to end and I took this, now ironic photo:
Little did I know that in a few months I'd look back on this photo with big, fat, sentimental tears. 

In mid-July I received THE phone call offering me an interview with my dream district.  Not just any district, MY hometown, the district I graduated from. A district with TOP ranked elementary schools. To say I was nervous is the biggest understatement of the year. lol. I spent the next 6 nights video taping myself answering interview questions I found online and designing, printing, and organizing my portfolio. I plan to do a blog post on this soon- seriously my level of preparation was almost military grade. I look back on that now and I'm kind of amazed by myself. 

The interview went well and three days later they called and offered me a job....a long-term subbing job. I was devastated. I was a little mad. I of course, had to turn them down. I was a 14 year veteran with a good job and young family. It was not a risk I wanted to take. 
So, I accepted that I was meant to be a city school teacher. To be honest I was kind of relieved. No more sneaking around, no more insane stress and prep, no more guilt. I LOVED my school, I LOVED my kids, and my colleagues are/were my best friends in the world. As for my district, well, I'd make it work. I'd done it for 14 years and I just had to keep believing I was part of the solution, not the problem. And then.....I went to Cape Cod.

While renting a small cottage with my little family, steps from the beach, I decided to head out one night and catch the Persioid meteor shower. It was supposed to peak at mid-night and I couldn't think of a better place to watch then at a bench on the Atlantic Ocean. I posted this picture to my instagram that night:

You see, I fancy myself a bit of a profession star wisher. I'm not superstitious, just a little 'stitious. Hahahaha!  I'm also not traditionally religious but I did offer some thoughts up to the universe that night. I wished that my job situation would make itself clear and if I was meant to be a city school teacher for life I would ROCK it. The next morning, 11 hours later, my phone rang. It was the HR director of my dream district and she offered me a permanent 1st grade spot. The rest is history.

That night my hubby and I toasted to a new adventure while I texted furiously with my best friends (and colleagues) in the world. Through it all they supported and encouraged me.There were lots of tears, lots of smiles, a real night to remember. 
I'm really proud of 2015, the year I grew up, professionally. I set a goal and although it was a TON of hard work, lots of second guessing, and no guarantees, I stuck with it. I'm sooooo happy at my new school. I feel energized and appreciated like I haven't in a long time.  I look back with such fondness at my time in my old school. That school will always be my family and I don't regret one second of the time I spent there. It made the teacher and person I am today. 

Okay, enough reminiscing- time to look forward! My resolutions to make 2016 just as memorable!!

1. I have been SEARCHING for balance for the past 2 years. I'm so hopeful that not that my kids are a little older- 1.5 and 5, I'll start to have more time and consistency. I can see veteran moms laughing right now. Being a #teachermom is tough enough but then throw in blogging and TpT? Oye. I don't ever want to look back and wish I'd spent more time with my kids. I think having a dedicated creating and blogging schedule will help. I NEED to have my time. TpT isn't just a business for me- it's a hobby. The creative outlet is so necessary to my mental health. I'd welcome any tips!

2.I have been trying to get back to my pre-baby #2 fitness level. Before I got pregnant the second time around, I was in the best shape of my life. I did the Tough Mudder, I was running 10-15 miles a week, I was eating right and feeling great. Then...baby #2. Its a game changer!! A wonderful game changer, but one that takes some real adjustment.  I've recently started running again on a regular basis and I'm hoping to get my eating under control after this holiday season. We're going to Naples, FL for February break and I'm hoping that'll be good motivation for me. Click on the picture below for my Pinterest Board dedicated to Health and Fitness. I'll check back in in a few weeks and tell ya how I'm doing. Bikini in 7 weeks?? 
3. ORGANIZE. Listen, I'm not talking just school- I'm talking about ALL the things. Home, financial, school, my purse...lol. I'm hoping to do a series of blog posts on how I keep myself organized at school because i SWEAR I use up all my 'organizational energy' there. The rest of my life is a hot mess. Please tell me you can relate. 
Well, that sums up my resolutions for 2016. I hope you'll check back with me as the year progresses! Have an amazingly fun and safe celebration tomorrow! I know I'll be partying it up because this weekend will be crunch time- back to school and planning. My entire store will be 20% off through the weekend and I have a lot of new products for New Years Activities in the classroom. I hope You'll check them out. 

Thanks to my pals at My Day In K and Teach Talk Inspire for this awesome linky!

I'm sorry. This post is completely NOT teacher related. My son is turning five tomorrow. FIVE. I'm just sitting here wondering how life passed us by so quickly. The old saying is true, "The days are long but the years are short".  I dreamed of two things as a child- being a teacher and being a mommy. In fact, being a teacher, I believe, is one of the very best jobs for being a mommy. I've been blessed to have both. My eldest son is sweet, sensitive, creative, and inquisitive. He is everything I could have hoped for and more. Here's a video I made for his first birthday. (be warned, there's a short snippet of my c-section, he was breech.)

Thank you for indulging me and allowing me this sentimental moment. I promise more teacher posts soon!
For parent gifts this year I wanted to go ALL out. I'm so thankful for my students' families and all the support they've given me. I saw these snow globe ornaments on Pinterest. I wish I could give credit but it was to a dead link! (If you know where the original idea came from I'd love to give a shout out!)
Anyways, I'm so stinkin' THRILLED with how they came out!!

The hardest part of this ornament was getting the fake snow in the bottom. Oye, worse than glitter! I kid you not, I got a piece in my eyeball and I thought I was going to lose my cornea! This is not a project to do with kids. Don't even think about it. BUT, it was simple and man they're cute!
All you need are plastic globe ornaments, I got mine at Michael's for super cheap with my teacher discount. :) You'll also need a bag of "fake snow". I got mine on Amazon but you can find it anywhere and you can use a variety of different things! Ripped up paper could work, especially if you want to avoid the whole "torn cornea" issue! LOL 
I used a funnel to get the fake snow in my globes.
Next you'll need pictures of your kids. I took mine right in the classroom. I called them over one at a time and asked them to throw their hands in the air, free, and give me and excited face. I used one hour photo and snipped around their heads and arms. From there, all you have to do is stuff them in and add some ribbon and a tag. You can grab my tags for FREE by clicking the picture above!
Wa-La! Super Adorable Christmas Ornaments- Achieved!

For more Christmas ideas and holiday tags you may want to read this post
Have a great last few days of school! Enjoy your holiday!

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!"
Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. It's also my favorite time to teach my students one of the most important lessons in life- How to be kind without expecting anything in return. There's just something about the magic of the season that inspires kindness. I strive to teach my students to carry that feeling with them all year long.

The Secret Snowflake Club was inspired by a game we used to play at my old school. Teachers would buy a small gift and leave it on the "doorstep" of another teacher's room. If you received a gift you then had to buy a gift for someone else. Before long everyone had received a fun little gift and you never knew who it was from. Some folks call this being "elfed". I've even heard of some neighborhoods doing it with decorations. I made this fun little pack called The Secret Snowflake Club  to help carry on the tradition.

I was excited to bring this little tradition to my new school. You can find everything you'll need to start your own Secret Snowflake Club here. My students have been loving our secret missions. I wasn't sure they could handle keeping the secret but one of my little boys said to me yesterday, "My friend was telling me about the surprise treat someone left for his class and I was so excited, Mrs. Wheat! But you'd be proud, I just smiled and said, 'Wow, that's really cool!'"

But, the most exciting thing we've seen since we started "snowing" on classes is that it's starting to spread! We walked past a class that had a snowflake and a gift bag outside it and WE DIDN'T do it. My kids about lost their minds and in that moment it was clear, they got it!
Today I showed them this video:

It's a great example of the mission of the Secret Snowflake Club- to do good without recognition or immediate reward.
With all that is going on in this world I realize that the job of teachers could not be more important. Of course we educate the brain but we also shape the heart. I'm afraid to say that there isn't much hope for some of the adults of this world but I have made it my mission to constantly encourage kind, thoughtful, accepting, and empathetic behaviors in my own classroom with the hopes that it will carry over. Be the change, ya know?
In the spirit of giving and kindness I have a couple of new freebies in my store...

I whipped up this Letter to Santa for my students and thought others might enjoy it, too. I'm in love with that Santa head!

These Holiday Grouping Cards were inspired by my lazy need to stop picking partners for my students and to avoid the drama of allowing them to pick partners on their own. Sometimes you just have a quick activity to complete, ya know? Well, now my kids BEG to use these. Simply print, cut, and pass out the cards. Students need to find their match and whamo, that's your partner. 

Lastly, I've been hard at work at getting all my "gifts" together. This year I've put together an easy but totally adorable gift for all those "I just don't know what to get for ..." people. 
I spotted those adorable little spatulas at Target. Squeal! Tied together with some cookie mix and a cute tag, they make the perfect anytime, any person gift. Think bus drivers, room mom, neighbor, secretary, TA, "person who gave you a gift and you didn't buy them anything"... lol.
You can find all the gift tags pictured by clicking below to download.

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