The Best Teacher Gifts EVER Linky Party

Merry Christmas everyone!!!! I'm so excited to be linking up with Katie from Little Warriors: Kindergarten Blog with the Best Teacher Gifts Ever! As I look back over the past 10 1/2 years now, several gifts come to mind like the old stuffed animals, homemade cards, pieces of their own candy, etc. Being at a school for 10 years now that has a high poverty rate, I've received some of the most thoughtful gifts ever! However, one always sticks out in my head as my top gift ever!!!

During my 3rd or 4th year teaching, I had a little girl who didn't have the best home life, but she had a grandma that cared for her and loved her so much. She literally was my little clone during school, always wanting to be by me and do things like me. She was a teacher's dream student. Well, I always keep one of my guitars at school so I can play with and for my students! I love it. They love it. It's a win-win! :) So, this struck a chord with this student. She loved it even more than the typical. When it came time for our Polar Express Day and Holiday party, her grandma came in to help out. While this student was with her classmates, I spoke with her grandma a bit. She proceeded to tell me how all her granddaughter talks about is "You and your guitar, you and your guitar. We bought her one for Christmas and lessons to go with it." I wanted to cry right then and there!! It was the best gift I've ever received!!! To actually know the impact you have on a student is far more superior to me than any tangible gift. To know that something so simple I loved to share with EVERYONE (I used to play and sing for anyone in my sorority in college that would listen to build up confidence! hah) made my student happy was the best gift ever!!

To top it off, the next year when she was in 3rd grade, I asked her if she would play with me. I actually told her when she was with me that I wanted her to bring in her guitar the next year. Well, she did! She brought it in for my class and me and played a few songs she had learned! Then we played together!! I ended up developing one of the pictures of the two of us, put it in a frame, wrapped it, and gave it to her that year. Years down the road after I coached her in basketball and her moving on to the middle school, any time I saw her grandma, she would tell me that she still has that picture front and center in their living room on their TV. Gives me chills to this day!!!

Last year, I had the absolute privilege of being invited by this student as her guest to the academic awards banquet for getting all As and Bs throughout middle school. I was beyond thrilled and honored! Everything came full circle!

Some of the best gifts don't come wrapped for sure!!!!!!!

I want to wish all of you the Merriest Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!! Enjoy the traditions, food, and memories being made with your loved ones!! Embrace the magic!! :)

Don't forget to take a look at all of the other best gifts ever back on Katie's blog, Little Warriors!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!!

Freddy's Back and a Gift Tag Freebie! :)

Let's start with the incredibly cute idea from Amy over at Step Into Second Grade!! Amy made gift tags for her neighbor that go with soda that are adorable!! Definitely check them out!!! I know I would love something like that as a neighbor! :) 


Since I loved her idea so much, I thought I would extend it to different members of our school staff that my kids work with as a little Christmas gift/gesture! So I made some gift tags for custodians, nurse, secretary, principal, asst. principal, cafeteria workers, one with a broader saying and 2 empty spots to write who it's for! I found the super cute, round Coke bottles at Walmart for $1.00 a piece! Today, we went as a class to deliver these little gifts with a huge THANK YOU and MERRY CHRISTMAS! I let kids who I saw making good choices this week so far carry them. Oh boy, that changes things for the rest of the day because they knew we had more to deliver! It was really cute! They LOVED delivering them! So I hope you all can use them too! Click here to download the google doc! 

OHHHHH...Freddy's BACK!!!! 
Freddy has not visited our classroom since last Thursday when his magic was taken away.  Today, when we came back from performing for our school in our Holiday Program, we found him sitting on our Listen to Reading area with a note from Santa and Hershey Kisses for everyone! :) The screams and surprised looks were priceless!!! I was even surprised too! Santa said Freddy saw some students working so hard that he wanted to give us another chance. So today we were reminded that we're not going to get a 3rd chance so we need to make sure to take care of Freddy. 

With 2 days with kids left and 1 teacher day, things are wrapping up! It's so hard to believe a semester is almost finished! Tomorrow we make our ornaments for parents from Falling Into First's blog post! I cannot wait to do these! Definitely check them out if you are still pondering fretting over parent gifts! I found the ornaments in 10 packs at a Walmart for $2.97 each. I bought the set with red, green, and gold ornaments, but there were other choices too. Then we have our Holiday Program tomorrow night for the parents. My awesome 2nd grade team will be having some wonderful Mexican food to do our gift exchange and relax before the program begins! 

Lots going on just like I bet you all have! However, I just LOVE this time of year so I hope you all are able to really enjoy every second with your students, your own kids, pets, families, etc.! It truly is a magical time of year! Good luck with the rest of this week! As I said this weekend, I "surrender" to the childlike holiday spirit! Time to simply take it all in and ENJOY! 

Random Acts of Kindness for Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  

Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook. #love4sh

Christmas Questionnaire

Merry Christmas everyone!!! I'm so excited to link up with Michelle over at Fabulous in First with her Christmas Questionnaire!!! I really made me excited for the next couple weeks! Christmas is such a special time of year, and I'm so glad I get to share it with all of you! :) Here's a little glimpse into my Christmas! 

Hot Chocolate or Eggnog? 
Definitely hot chocolate!!! I can drink hot chocolate daily starting in the fall through early spring! I LOVE it!! I even have a hot chocolate maker even though I use Starbuck's more now! :) Eggnog and I don't mix! 

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them underneath the tree? 
Santa has always wrapped the presents, and I must say they are always perfectly placed in a strategic pattern in front of the tree! Sometimes, I think the elves and Santa may have gotten sleepy and dozed off as they were wrapping when they forget to write who the present is for! :)

Colored lights or white?
I love both!! My upstairs tree and decorations are all in white lights since the upstairs has more of a modern look. My basement has the colored lights since it's more traditional and cozy down there! :)

When do you decorate? 
Since I'm usually out of town for Thanksgiving, I have been trying to decorate the weekend before Thanksgiving so I can return from Thanksgiving with everything already decorated and ready to enjoy! It has worked out great! :)

Real or Fake Tree? 
We always had a humongous fake tree growing up, and I still look forward to going home to my parents to lay on the couch next to the tree watching Christmas movies with my family!!! My parents make Christmas even more magical! I've had my own house now for over 3 years, and I found the most perfect tree a couple years back! It has a little of the fake snow and berries on it! I absolutely love it! :)
What Tops Your Tree?
My tree has a big, silver, sparkly bow on the top! I never was a bow fan growing up, but I absolutely adore it on my tree! My basement tree (my old apartment tree) has a country looking star that says BELIEVE! I love that word! My parents' tree has a beautiful angel!

Favorite Christmas Memories or Traditions?
This is such a hard question because there are truly sooooo many memories and traditions surrounding the greatest time of year! I am just in my glory around Christmas time as was my grandparents as I was growing up. Being half Croatian, we always had customs and traditions my mom and grandparents showed us. My mom would always have a white candle burning on the kitchen table because in Croatia they would have it as well as hay (I know, fire hazard, right?!?) under their tables to welcome baby Jesus. Then my grandpa would get so excited for us to come over on Christmas Eve. We would pick them up for Christmas Eve mass to return to their house for dinner and gift opening. We would have ham and Croatian potato salad, and my grandpa made sure that we all had enough food before he would even eat! Then he would put on his Santa hat as we opened gifts. We knew it was time to go home when we saw Santa on the radar on the news! We would venture home half asleep just in time to receive our first gift from our parents...a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed!!! My mom STILL gives us all pajama pants on Christmas Eve!! It makes me feel like a kid again! :) 

Then in the middle of the night, my brother, sister and I would always tiptoe out to the tree to check out the gifts! Santa even left a picture once of my brother and me asleep on the couch. I was in my lovely Pound Puppy nightgown! I loved Pound Puppies! As we looked at the gifts, we would be the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story on to watch a bit. To this day and until my sister and I get married, we still get up (a little later than the younger years ;) to go look at the beautiful tree! With 2 nephews around, I love seeing the toys and gifts for them bringing back all of those memories each year. We'll still watch a few minutes of A Christmas Story as well! This year we even checked out the Christmas Story exhibit in Hammond, IN around where I'm from and parents still live. It's so cute! 

On Christmas Day, my dad acts as Santa to pass out the gifts, but we always start with our gifts to each other first. Stockings are always last. Once we finish opening gifts, my dad makes breakfast for everyone while my mom checks on the sarma (stuffed cabbage) and sausage and sauerkraut in the oven! I can smell those smells as I type these words! Such wonderful traditions and memories that my parents have helped make in my life! It makes me a little choked up thinking about it! I wish my grandparents were still around to enjoy it with us, but the memories have filled me up with so much joy to last a lifetime!

Do you remember your favorite gift as a child?
Gosh, there are so many! However, I must say that the teddy bear that my grandpa (my mom was my grandparents' personal shopper :) gave me in 1991 that I STILL sleep with every night has to be my all time favorite. The happiness in his face as he gave it to me will always be in my heart and next to me when I sleep!! :) I hope my future husband understands! hah 
Do prefer giving or receiving? 
Definitely giving!!! I absolutely love finding the perfect gift!! I'm that person that sits in the card aisle at Kroger or Hallmark FOREVER because the card has to fit the person and our relationship!!! I can't just get any card or gift for that matter! It has to be right! :)

What is your favorite Christmas song? 
This is REALLY tough!!! I LOVE Christmas music!!! In church, I absolutely love Sweet Child Jesus and Carol of the Bells when the choir plays it with the dulcimer. It is so beautiful and pure. I also love Oh Holy Night and What Child is This! In the car, I love All I want for Christmas of course to belt it out as loud as I can so I can get some looks from the cars around me! hah 

Candy Canes. Yuck or Yum?
They are fine. I'm not really crazy about them, but I don't mind one every now and then. However, I probably only eat 1 whole one over the course of the holidays. 

Favorite Christmas Movie? 
Ahhh another tricky one! :) I LOVE CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!!!!!! Hallmark Movie Channel, Falalala Lifetime, ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas are pretty much on my TV every day or any time I watch TV from Thanksgiving on! For instance, I'm watching a Hallmark movie right now that I've probably seen 3 or 4 times since Thanksgiving! I'm addicted to all movies Christmas. I still have a special place for the classics like White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, I Love Lucy Christmas episodes, Jack Frost, Home Alone, The Holiday, A Christmas Story... I could keep going, but I think you get the picture! 

Do you shop online or at stores?
I'm a store shopper with the occasional online purchase. I love the hustle and bustle at the malls and carrying around my hot chocolate. I just love it! I love carrying all the bags and going through them at home to wrap them. Now, I won't say that every trip to the mall at this time is the most pleasant hah; however, there is always 1 day that is Christmas shopping bliss! 

Photo Cards, Letter or Store Bought Card?
I'm a store bought card person; however, I can see myself becoming the photo card person when I have a husband and children of my own. I mean, I could send out a photo card with my Gracie girl and me, but I think we'll wait till our family expands some day! :)
Don't forget to click on the linky button to get to know about other bloggers at Christmas time as well!!! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing in my Christmas! 

CYBER SALE Monday & Tuesday!!!!!

YAY for CYBER MONDAY AND TUESDAY!!! :) Today and tomorrow you can get up to 28% off of everything in my TPT store!! Who doesn't love a sale?!? My entire store will be 20% off PLUS add an additional 8% when you type in the code CYBER at checkout! I'm also extending the 20% off of my entire store through Wednesday!!! Make sure to stop by and check out my new holiday center activities along with my newer sets!! Here is a peek at some of my new and favorite products!!

I hope you all have a BLAST shopping away tomorrow and Tuesday!!! Don't forget my entire store will continue to be 20% off through Wednesday as well!!

Happy shopping!!! :)