Week of Giving Thanks: A is for All My Pets

Ever since I was a little girl, I always loved animals.  I think if I weren't a teacher, I would be a veterinarian.   As a shy kid, with not many friends growing up, I was always drawn to animals.  Animals don't judge and respond well to calm quiet people.   So animals were always drawn to me, too.   One of my first memories is of being three years old and getting to pick out a kitten from my Aunt's cat's litter.  I can still picture the litter of nursing kittens.   I picked the calico one.
Here is a photo of me and my little brother Kurt with our cat, Zina. 

Zina was hit by a car when I was five years old and I was devastated.   I begged for another cat or kitten.  It was the only thing on my birthday list and Christmas list for three years!  Then my parents finally caved and got me a kitten for Christmas when I was in third grade.  We named him Max and he was the best cat ever!  I used to push him in a doll baby carriage.   Then when I was in fifth grade, I found a stray Apple Head Snow Shoe Siamese cat, we named him Blue Eyes.  After about 4 months of feeding him, I convinced my parents to take him him and get him vet care.  (I don't have old pictures at my house but I will add some later.) 

Then at 16, I convinced my parents we needed a dog.  My parents like animals, but they don't LOVE them like I do.  My dad never had a dog and was worried that we would not take responsibility for it.  He made my brothers and I sign a contract about the dog's care before we were allowed to get a dog.  I think he still has the contract in a file somewhere.  The contract is often brought up at family functions and we all have a good laugh.  Unfortunately, that sweet dog, a Cocker Spaniel named Hannah, only lived to be six years old.  She died of cancer.    

In college, my roommates and I thought it would be a good idea to get a dog.  So my one roommate Christine, got Maggie Mae.  Then I got Niles to keep Maggie Mae company.    Maggie passed away from cancer, but Niles is still in my care and is a peppy almost 15 year old dog!

I brought him home from college and he joined my Cocker Spaniel and two cats.   By then the cats were old and within a year, they both died of old age.  Then the Cocker Spaniel died of cancer.  Poor Niles was all alone.  My mom and I did our research and decided we wanted a Havanese.    So eight years ago, we got Sophie (though I have custody).

I moved out and got my own house.  I felt guilty for purchasing dogs, when there are so many animals in need of homes.   I then adopted my cat Ella from North Shore Animal League.   The following year I went to drop off donations at the local pound and saw Greta.  The pound said she was a special needs kitten, but had not provided her with any vet care and that no one wanted to adopt her.  Her name in the shelter was "Skull Head" because she came in with a big bump on her head.   So of course I had to save her!   She turned out to be fine and the bump was gone by the time I took her to the vet.

Here is my whole crew.  When they say "Who rescued, who?" it really hits home for me.  I feel like my pets give me a reason to get out of bed and provide me a sense of importance.   I don't have kids of my own or a husband.  No one really needs me, but they do.  I am their whole world.   At times, I do wish had less cats.   I do feel really guilty about this.  It is a lot of work having four pets and most people are not cat people.  It is not something I throw out there when I first meet a guy.   I don't want to be seen as a crazy cat lady.  I also want a house that doesn't smell or look like a hoarder's home.  So, I don't have any carpets in my house, I don't want anything that will hold animal smell!  I have a Roomba to help with vacuuming and I LOVE my Shark steam mop.    Another thing I do, is to put easy to wash blankets on top of my bed and couches.    I also don't have any house plants!  They would just get knocked over.

Niles and Sophie got their picture taken with Santa last weekend.

The past few years, I have been fostering animals.   I have an urge to help all animals in need but I know it would not be fair to them or to me if I adopted any more animals.  Fostering lets me feel like I am making a difference and is a temporary commitment.   My favorite feedback on a product was that I inspired them to foster animals, too.  It really is so rewarding.  I love seeing photos of the happy and loved animals in their forever homes.  

Here are my two current fosters:

Don't forget to link up with Blog Hoppin'.

A Week of Giving Thanks - H is for Help

No, I don't mean "the help."  I actually don't even have a housekeeper.  To be honest, I cannot get my house clean enough to hire a housekeeper!

What I mean is help from family and friends.   I am a very independent person, but even I need help.  I am thankful for my parents who pick up my dogs when I have to work late.   I am thankful for my family for helping whenever I need it.  I have two brothers and two sister in laws.   My aunt and uncle live next door to my parents.  I am close with my cousins! I am lucky we all live within a few towns of each other.  We are even close with second cousins who live a bit further away.   Christmas Eve is a favorite tradition where we are all together at my parents' house.  I feel very lucky to have a supportive, kind, helpful, family.

I am thankful for the help I get from friends.  We all know friends are the family you choose.   I am thankful for my blog friends and our support circle.

I am thankful for the help I get at school.   We are all a team at school.  There are math specialists, reading teachers, O.T. teachers, P.T. teachers, speech teachers, psychologists, social workers, special teachers, resource teachers, ELL teachers, aides, office staff, and more.  All together we do everything in our skill sets to help the students.

I hope you check out the linky over at Blog Hoppin' and share what you are thankful for.

Week of Giving Thanks: T is for Teachers Pay Teachers

I am linking up with my friends over at Blog Hoppin' for a week of thanks.   Today's letter is T and I am thankful for Teachers Pay Teachers.  Here is my TpT story:

In 2007 I purchased a tiny home on Long Island.   It was at the height of the market and $325,000 was a lot for me to swing on one income.  I did not budget in groceries, emergency pet surgery, and furnishing my home.  I was slipping into debt, transferring one credit card balance to another.  I was stressed and trying to think of another job where I would still have time to make things for my classroom.  Then, I took a course called Teachers as Authors with Mary Beth Spann.  She told us that Scholastic had recently purchased an online company called Teachers Pay Teachers and that it was founded by a former teacher named Paul Edleman.   I decided to check out the site and in October 2008, I posted my first item and a freebie.   Sales were very slow then.  It seemed to be more of a market place for upper-elementary teachers.   I put things on anyway as I made them for my own classroom.  At the same time, I was offered a contract with Scholastic to write a teacher resource book.  I quickly accepted and got to work on my 50 Just Right Reading Response Activities book and then the next year, my 20 Super Spelling Activities book.   Then in 2010-2011 TpT began to pick up.  I remember reading the newsletter about Deanna Jump hitting her first milestone and I was floored.   She was a new seller to the site, so how did she make so much money so fast?   I did some research and saw what she was doing that I was not, she was using commercial use clip art and font instead of Microsoft Office clipart and fonts, she was also creating products like they were teacher resource books, and she had a blog.   I revamped the way I made products and started a blog.  My sales started to increase.  I got out of debt.  I fixed a hole in my bathroom ceiling that I had been living with for 2 years because I could not afford to fix it.  I could breathe again!  TpT continues to provide me with financial security.  I purchase so much for my classroom, my classroom library rivals our school's library.  I am even able to give back!  I foster animals and cover their expenses with my TpT money and I donate to charities.   
My foster puppies for Save a Lab.


Some of my former foster kittens for Bella Bast Cat Rescue:

I just got two new foster kittens last night.   Fostering is such a rewarding experience.  I know that I am an important part of saving their lives, either from a terrible life on the streets or from being put down in a kill shelter.   

Besides financial security, I have found the best of friends through TpT and blogging.  I have traveled to meet them and to go to events and conferences.  I even met and became good friends with Deanna Jump.  I just love all of my TpT friends. 

TpT has also opened avenues for me.  I started presenting for SDE.  I designed a classroom for Carson Dellosa.  TpT has truly changed my life!!  So, thank you, thank you TpT!

TpT has helped me connect with and help teachers all over the world.  The feedback I get on products keep me motivated to create and blog more.   One of my customers even told me that they started fostering kittens because I did.  That was just a WOW moment for me.  I don't want to sound like I am bragging but wow!  I am reaching teachers on all different levels and I feel like I am making a difference in their lives, too. 

If you are interested in getting started on TpT, check out this post:

What are you thankful for?  Click below to link up over at Blog Hoppin' and to read more posts.

First Grade Visual Plans for 11/24/14 and Thanksgiving Freebies

This is a short week of school for us and we have half days for parent teacher conferences.  I am so jealous of all of you with the week off!

Click here to download my plans for the week!  Since it is a short week with an odd schedule, I am mostly doing Thanksgiving themed centers with the students and then pulling them for Fountas and Pinnell testing.  

I am utilizing these packets this week:

Here are some freebies:

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving!
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