Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back To School-Do You Have A Reluctant Reader?


I have been busy getting the Media Center in my school ready for those excited young faces who will arrive next Tuesday morning.

Oh.....those books lined up waiting for kids to check them out!
It warms the heart of a "Librarian"


 Then....
I've been reading all the fun "Back-to-School" posts that show all kinds of crafts, teacher gifts, posters, etc.


Well....since I have been "going back to school" for a whole lot of years, I thought I would do a couple of posts about  "Back to School".....but from the perspective of a long time educator and the mom of grown children!

As much as I love crafts, fun recipes and cute school clothe.....that is something you all can find on other blogs!

I want to focus on ways you can  help your child (and you) connect school and home....
It will be sort of your own little Parent Information Night....except you can come in your jammies and you don't have to sit in those little chairs!

This is essentially a repost of something I wrote last year at this time!
I have also written a bunch of posts about children's books!
If you search Sweetwater Style with the search term books you can read them....you will find lots of suggestions for great books with annotations! (WOW....do I ever sound like a LIBRARIAN!!!)

We all want our students to be readers!
We know that the more kids read the more they know!




Some kids naturally LOVE to read....
AND....
if you are a parent of one of THOSE kids....you don't have too much to worry about.
Kids who love to read will read all the time and get better and better at reading!






Some kids DO NOT LOVE to read....if you are a parent of one of THOSE kids....you worry ALL the time!

And I bet all that worrying doesn't help much....


 Your child still fights you about reading!


I KNOW that you are always looking for concrete suggestions to help with the dilemma of the reluctant reader!

Here is my Five Cents Worth of Advice!







1. ....STOP worrying, fussing and begging....When you do these things it makes reading a battleground....and the "kid" doing the refusing....WINS!!! j










2. .... DISCOVER your child's passion and look for books, magazines or Internet sites that are about the things your child loves.
Soccer, Earthquakes, Wars, Legos, Skateboarding.....There are great books about all of these things.
This Reading List Works with Kids Who Love Reading and Those Who Don't
Guys Read a great site with book lists on all kinds of subjects that GUYS (and some girls) will love.
3. .....REMEMBER that reading is reading! Your child does NOT have to read stories or novels!  If YOU are reading this....you are READING and it isn't a novel!
If your child likes the computer....try these sites:
StoryLine On-Line
Celebrities read favorite books to your student....then go to the library and check the book out.


James Earl Jones, Betty White and others...you will love them too.










KOL Jr. Stories 
Lots of stories....listen and read along to lots of favorites including some of the Arthur books





National Geographic Online Edition




Read Articles, play games and enjoy photos from on this high quality site.
The articles are short non-fiction snippets that kids will enjoy!












4. ....Let your child SAMPLE a book using Amazon
This is something that kids LOVE to do....log into Amazon Children's Books
Look through the colorful illustrated book suggestions or search a topic that your child likes and use the LOOK INSIDE! feature....your child will be able to read a few pages of a book to decide if it something worth reading...then off to the library to check it out....if it isn't a favorite....sneaky you....you still got some reading time in.
5.  .....WRITE something for your child to read!
Many of you READING this are WRITERS!  Many of you WRITE on your blogs every day!  Write a personal story about your child or something you remember from when you were little....Read it out loud to your child....add some pictures.
You can even publish it using any number publishing tools like Snapfish, iPhoto, Walgreens! I PROMISE you that your child will read it over and over again!
Now...I have to get some things ready for my last workshop day before kids come to school next week.
AND
I am one of those people who LOVE to read....so I need to find some time to read some of your wonderful blogs....


Have a Great Day!

Link Parties
Potpourri Friday  Happy Hour Friday     Serenity You  A Little Inspiration Trendy Treehouse
Sugar and Dots 



Monday, August 27, 2012

Back To School Table Decor!

I have been going "Back To School" for a lot of years!

First as a student....


Yep...that is me by the teacher with the amazing legs!!!  
I am sure that he reason I am standing by the teacher is so that she could keep me QUIET for the picture!!!

Then as a teacher....

Can you imagine....
20 years old and they let me go in a room and try to "educate" this group of 5 year olds! "What were they thinking?"  At least by this time, I had learned to cover up my "amazing legs"!  Although in these "olden days"....I was pretty "fashion forward" to be wearing PANTS at school!

Now it is "a few" years later and still....going back to school never  loses that sense of excitement and possibilities!

One of the great things about teaching is that you have a "clean slate" and a chance to "start over every September! That is a luxury that is not available in many jobs!

My school is fortunate to have this whole week set aside for teachers to get ready for those kiddos next week!

Lots of meetings....and almost all of them are in the Media Center....(MY SPACE)!



Since the meetings are in "my space"....it just seems like I need to  "decorate" and "entertain"!!!

Nobody really expects me to do this....but you know me!!!!

I will make the coffee.....

My Marvelous Principal has arranged for the food!!!

And here are the cute little flower arrangements for each table!


 They were so simple and very very inexpensive!

When I was buying flowers at the Farmer's Market for the party that we had on Friday...I knew I could use the "leftovers for these little bouquets!



I took apart a couple of arrangements....
Gathered some other "stuff" from the garden.....
I had the little white pails from another event....
I used floral foam so the bouquets last a long time....
Then it all went together....with some ribbon and raffia of course.....


 I wanted the centerpieces to have a "teaching theme"....
I didn't want to spend money...

So....

Using my My Memories Scrapbook software I created these "mini-posters".
I found some fun clipart and inspirational quotes about teaching and teachers.
I printed them as 4x6 photos at Walgreens.. (19 cents each)





We put the the iPads on the tables for people to take candid photos of each other!!!!
I want the staff to start thinking of the iPads as digital cameras...but any camera will work...even encouraging people to use the cameras on their phones.
At the end of the week we collect all the photos and make a great slide show!


All of this made for a very festive and fun atmosphere as we greeted one another after a summer apart!

We are certainly off to a great start for our year!

and a little decorating and food didn't hurt!!!



Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Last Day Of Summer Vacation for ME!

Tomorrow is back to school for me!
Every year that is good news and bad news!
Good News.....I Love what I do and like getting back to a routine!
Bad News....Not so much time or energy for projects!
 
 
Just a quick follow up on the party Friday night....
It was great....the conversation flowed.....the food was great....the Bridal shower was fun!  
As usual....most of the party took place in the kitchen....some things never change....but that works at Sweetwater because the kitchen is pretty open!
Because I was sorta busy being a hostess....I don't have many photos....but here are a couple!
 
 


The smoked turkey took center stage on the table....


 


This little guy got his first taste of "dill pickle"....I think he is still undecided...









Since I spent most of Friday chasing Marvin off the table and rewashing the platters....I was pretty worried about him getting up there and having a few tastes of the buffet....

Not to worry....the kids with him.....and played and played and played....mid way through the party he went and hid in the bedroom so he could have a nap!!
In fact he spent all day yesterday totally crashed!

Hopefully some of the guests at the party will send me some photos....hint hint!

Have a great day!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Party TIME!


I had every good intention of posting yesterday.....BUT....
Life got in the way!!!

This is going to be short and sweet because.....
Today is the party....people will arrive in a few hours..,
All is set and we can't wait!
 

So....what did I do yesterday?


Shopped for groceries...
Helped Mr. S smoke the turkey....and it looks like it will be the centerpiece of the buffet!
Grilled the vegetables....
ETC...ETC...ETC!

Mostly though I thought about the flow of the gathering!

The buffet will be in the dining room!
The bar will be in the lower level...both outside and in the craft room!
There are tables for people in the backyard, the lower level, the deck and the kitchen!
Hopefully we can  have a fire in the firepit where there is no seating!

The goal is to keep people moving through out the whole house and not just "perching" in one spot!!!!

Mr. S has been his usual amazing self as he runs errands like nobody's business.....seriously I don't know what I would do without all that help!!!  AND....he smokes a mean turkey too!
One little addition to this gathering is an informal Bridal Shower for my cousin's daughter!
Since this group of people won't have a chance to gather again anytime soon....it made sense to do "double duty"!  
We will put the gifts in the family room and find a good time to gather to open them and honor this special young couple!

I will post tomorrow and hopefully have a few pictures of all the fun that is sure to be!

As for now....I plan to

Then tomorrow we are off to Mr. S's High School Class Reunion.....another fun event to look forward to!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting Ready To Party #2



Three days and counting until the day of the party....


I suppose it is time to talk about what to feed all the folks!

You might have noticed that Sweetwater Style doesn't have a lot of cooking posts....



Now...I can cook....I do have lots of great recipes....even some recipes that are complicated and fussy!!!

BUT....my philosophy for party menu planning for any group bigger than 8 is to keep it simple!!!  GOOD....but SIMPLE!
WHY?

Reason #1:  
All that cookin' makes a tired and crabby hostess!!!

Reason #2:  
I think fancy food makes people uncomfortable....you know if somebody has to wonder "what is this?" it might not be the best menu choice! 
(especially if there are kids coming to the party!)

Reason  #3: 
The party is about the people and the conversation....NOT about the food!


For this gathering Mr. S. and I will rely on a menu that meets the criteria for SIMPLE AND GOOD!  We are doing a Make Your Own Sandwich Bar....because everyone likes sandwiches!  We have done this for several parties and it is always a hit!

Reason #1
Everything can be done ahead....
really!
No last minute warming up of stuff....and it can sit on the buffet for the whole party!

Reason #2
This menu can meet the needs of any guest's dietary restrictions!
Vegan...no problem....!
Gluten free....no problem...!
Picky kid eater....no problem!
Big eater....NO PROBLEM!

Reason #3
Almost everything is "no cooking"
If you need to....you can buy it all at the grocery store ready to go!!
(we do a bit of our own cooking....mainly because we like to)

Reason #4
You don't need a lot of other stuff!
The sandwich fixings and potato chips can serve as appetizers for the "grazers"!
 a couple of people on the guest list for this party are bringing favorite pasta salads...
but it really isn't necessary!

Reason #5
Clean up is a breeze....and leftovers are no problem!

SANDWICH MAKINGS

Sliced Smoked Turkey
Sliced Ham
Egg Salad
Grilled Vegetables-peppers, onions and mushrooms
Bacon
Sliced Tomatoes
Lettuce-sprouts-basil
Cheese Tray
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Mustard-Horseradish-Mayo

Sliced Bread -Croissants

SIDES

Chips

Fruit Tray

Pasta Salads 

DESSERT

Cake

Beverage Selection includes free refills!

I think Dagwood would be proud of us!



The turkey is in the cooler defrosting....Mr. S will fire up the smoker tomorrow and take care of that....
The eggs for the egg salad are hardboiled and ready to go....
I will head to CostCo for the rest of the stuff tomorrow....
Seriously....what could be easier?

I still have 3 days.....if you have an idea for something to add to the sandwich buffet....IF it fits the do ahead or buy ahead criteria....let me know!

Stay Tuned for tomorrow's post.....Staging and Planning the Party Flow! 

Have a Great Day...I might just have to hit SUBWAY....
all this sandwich talk has made me hungry!






Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Getting Ready To Party Series! #1

This is the front of the invitation we sent inviting our relatives to come celebrate the end of Summer.
I can't wait.....and it should be fun....because....

Wouldn't YOU want to party with this stylin' group!

Mr. S and I love to host events here at Sweetwater!
We have it down to a pretty good system....and it is pretty stress free!
I thought I would share some of what is going on behind the scenes as we get ready for our party on Friday evening! 


My friends will tell you that I am not much of a list maker....in fact if I had to check things off on a list....that would stress me out!



I always laugh when I see those handy check lists for planning a party....my word....most of them have you planning for months to have a simple party! 



 but if you WANT a check list....

For heaven's sakes.....other than deciding on the date/time/theme and sending invitations....you really shouldn't need to start preparations for a party more than a week ahead of time!

The party is four days away....and this is what I am doing today!

  • Defrost the turkey so it can get smoked on Thursday!
  • Hard-boil some eggs for egg salad....
  • Clean the deck....
  • Hide some clutter....
  • Polish the furniture and get rid of some cobwebs....
  • Get out the trays, baskets and other serving items 
  • email people who have volunteered to bring food to share....
  • decide on the "flow" for the different party areas....food, beverages, dessert
I think I can handle this and still find time for a nap!!!


Since the weather forecast promises a beautiful summer evening, I know that people will be out on the deck.




 I did some pretty brutal dead heading of the flowers in the planters....

Why!!!

By Friday they will be back to fresh blossoms....


I also bought a couple of $2 mum plants to fill in the spots that looked sad.....

hey....I am worth it!




 Come Friday....I will flip the chair covers over....this side is faded and dirty.....and
oooh....I looks like I need to do take a couple of minutes to disguise the pots in the planters on the deck.... 

 





I dug out the old fabric from the bedroom drapes.....








 











cut it into squares.....tucked it around the nursery pots with some spanish moss....





 


and in 10 minutes....no more ugly nursery pots.....
Now....did I do this just for the party?   
NO.....but the party was the motivation!  And I will get the benefit for days to come!!!

Here is my new favorite thing on our deck.....

Since the only way we can have herbs and lettuce at Sweetwater is on the deck because all the bunnies and deer would love it if we planted in the garden.... refuse to be their suppliers!

.... Mr. S. gave me this awesome Triolife planter for my birthday....I have been wanting one for a long time....





A tiered planter is a wonderful space saver....the one we had been using was plastic....and definitely showing it's age.....you can imagine how happy my new planter makes me!






I suppose a clever DYIer could make one...but they have them at Amazon if you are interested!
Back to party prep....

We moved the bench to the seating group....I will move the rose bush on Friday.....and now with a little bit of cleaning and sweeping, the deck is all set....


The solar twinkle lights will recharge and be all ready to set the atmosphere for lovely conversation area at the party!

Stay tuned for Getting Ready to Party #2....tomorrow will be menu planning.....don't be expecting a lot of recipes....remember....this is a stress free party planning series!!!

Have A Great Day....I am going to go sit in the sunshine on my shiny clean deck!!!!