Hey Friends!
First of all, THANK YOU for all the kind words about my mojo! You all are just too funny, sweet and kind, especially you, Louise for lighting a candle for me!! As a good Catholic girl, I've lit many candles in my day and just to know that someone thinks enough of me to light a candle? Well, that about melted my heart. And good news: my mojo seems to be back! Keep reading past my rambling travel log below for my last freebie of 2011! 2012's first freebie is also in the works ;0)

So, I've just returned from a few days away with the hubs. First we traveled up to Orlando to see Ice at the Gaylord Palms. If you ever have the chance to see it, don't pass it up. Carvers turn huge blocks of colored ice into amazing scenery and sculptures. They keep it at nine degrees inside, which for this flip-flop girl was a bit too much to take by the the end. I couldn't even bring myself to take my hands out of my pockets to take a picture!  It was all Shrek-tacular this year. It was awesome as usual, but I think I liked the regular Christmasy themes better. This year it seemed like every room was pretty similar, still glad we saw it though. That hotel beautiful, really. Everything was so perfect...until the morning of check-out when there was NO WATER! To the entire hotel!! So, no water = no flushing, tooth brushing, hand washing, showering, coffee making, pill taking. I didn't realize what a major inconvenience being without water would be for two stinkin little hours! The worst part was that it delayed checkout as we kept thinking the water would be back on any minute, then we spent some time listening to other people bitching at talking to the concierge before we had our turn. What can you do though? It's not like they planned for it to happen. Still, it put us a little behind on our drive to Ft. Meyers for our big date with Charity Preston and Tamara Chilver! Surely, you know these ladies. Charity is the author of The Organized Classroom Blog and Tamara is the founder of Teaching Blog Addict! It was so cool to meet them in person! Charity is just as funny and real as I knew she'd be and Tamara was just so sweet, warm and genuine. It really, really made me wish we all lived closer. We were also met by three other fans who made the trip to hang with us. Here we are - my hubs took the pic for us:

After we said good-bye at the restaurant, I got to hang with Charity for a bit longer at the SWEET beach house she rented and party for just a big longer. Such a great night that stretched out into an impromptu hotel stay halfway through the two hour drive home. Better safe than sorry. It worked out well - we ended up spending most of today exploring parts of Fort Meyers we hadn't seen before. Can you tell I love winter break? Love my job and all, but enjoying time off like this makes me the well-rounded, rested and energized teacher my kids deserve...right?

And now, your reward for reading all that ~ a cute lil' freebie for you! There is hardly anything my kids love more than a sharp, new pencil. It could be the way that I guard the sharpener like it was made of gold and encrusted with diamonds. You should see the way my head whips around if I hear the sharpener buzz. Heaven help the poor child who "accidentally" uses the sharpener. What can I say? I'm tired of spending money on those dang sharpeners. This sharpener is the best one I've found by far, and as long as I'm the sole pencil patrolman it will last twice as long as usual. Man, am I rambly today or what? So, here's what the flags look like attached to a shiny new pencil. Just cut them apart and glue-stick up the back, wrap it around the pencil, stick it together and you'll have these lovely little welcome back pencils to help your nuggets get off to a fresh start in 2012:

Click {HERE} to download your flags from Google Docs.

In case I don't post again before the big ball drop - have a great, safe and very, very happy New Year! 

Wait, what?! It's over? For Real? Yes, yes it's true. Christmas has come and gone yet again. All of that shopping, planning, spending, cooking, cleaning, wrapping...and it's over just.like.that. It's always a little depressing when it's over, right? So let's focus on the positive... As usual, my hubs spoiled me (and I hope he feels the same!). It was a hot Christmas this year, even by Florida standards, but we made the best of it and spent yesterday cruising the Intracoastal waterway on my brother-in-law's new boat. And, I have some fun stuff to look forward to this week! We're headed up to Orlando to check out Ice and then on to Ft. Meyers to meet up with my blog buddies Charity and Tamara.

I'm also hoping to find my creative mojo somewhere during the Christmas clean-up. Is it under the couch? In with the cute holiday sprinkles I never used? Is it in the garage with the last minute stuff I didn't know where to shove before my family came over? I hope it's not in the bag of sheets I gave to my sister after I cleaned out the linen closet. Wherever it is, I have GOT to find it! I'm usually brimming over the top with ideas for school, games, centers, units...but I think I must be in a cookie coma because I got nuttin'! I have a few ideas kind of hovering above my head in a little wispy cloud...I can kinda see it mixed in with what's left of the holiday haze, so I'm hoping some blog-stalking will help.

On my first stop over at Miss Kindergarten I found an interesting linky party. Perfect for a blogger with blogger's block <--is that a thing? Did I just make up a new term?? Let's all start using it so it catches on. It's so fetch! Here it is:

My friend Fern is having a cool linky called Top Three. It gives me a chance to reminisce over the past year to a time when I was actually on my game and killin' it (blogwise, at least). It's also a great way to show my new friends here that I really am worth hanging around for because usually I am witty and fun and have great ideas - really, honest!! So, without further ado, here are my top three blog posts of 2011. The number following the post is the number of hits that page has had. Click on the title to read the post if it sounds new to you. I'm going to read them again myself and hope that maybe my mojo might be hiding in there somewhere. Hop on over to Fern's blog to link up your top three!

Clip it Up   16,987
Ready Confetti 9,121
There's an Elf on my Shelf 8,124

Oh, and PS I'm having a sale at my TpT store though Wednesday - 20% off everything. Click {HERE} to see the fabulousness I'm capable of when my creative juices are fully flowing! Ah...the good ole days...
Hello, my friends! Here's a little holiday wish to you from me here in sunny South Florida. It will be about 80 degrees here on Christmas day. I'm trying to pretend like that's great, but really I do wish it was cooler. Oh well, my flip-flops and I are best buds, so it does make me happy that we won't be separated this Christmas. I hope you all have the most fantastic time with your families this weekend. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for hanging out with me here at the blog. It really, truly means the world to me! And if you'd like to hang out with me for real and you'll happen to be in the Ft. Meyers area on December 29, I'll be there with Charity from The Organized Classroom Blog and Tamara from Teaching with TLC and the founder of Teaching Blog Addict. Leave me a comment if you'd like to meet up with us!

Hey everyone!

Just popping in to link up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade.
I loved her template for this month's sharing, so I had to find time to join in!

I have to explain that last one. As you know, I am ALL about Elf on the Shelf, but this woman wrote the funniest post about the "overachieving Elf on the Shelf mommies" that had me cracking up. Don't venture over there unless your sense of humor is firmly intact. Her posts are steeped in sarcasm and are pretty gritty, but I think they are (mostly) hysterical. Other people must too, she has gained 1,000 blog followers and 19,000 Facebook fans since she posted about the elf just one week ago!

Well, I'm now going to attempt to do something meaningful with the rest of my day. Although I did go shopping and that kind of pooped me out. Maybe a nap first. See, I'm really good at that procrastinating thing...
Ahh...the first Saturday of winter break. The only other day better than this one is the first Saturday of summer vacation! Now, I love my job, but the days leading up to these two breaks are enough to make a teacher reallllllly enjoy their time off. Can I get an amen?!

We actually had a lot of fun this week, but I think I tried to squeeze into too many things I found while blogstalking and Pinterest-ing. I've got all kind of ideas about how to better organize these ideas for next year which I will hopefully write down before I forget what I was thinking..

One thing I will definitely do again is this great game I found on Pinterest. The kids hold a paper plate over their head and follow oral directions to draw a Christmas scene. Then they earn points if their tree was on the floor and if the star was actually on the tree, etc. I think next year when I do this I'll have them use a certain color for each direction because it was little hard to tell what was what. I also let them do it a second time after they realized what they were supposed to accomplish. The drawings weren't much better the second time around, but they had fun and that was the whole point.

In elf-related news, CC has returned to the North Pole until next December. This morning, he rearranged the letters on our Boggle board to send the kids a secret message. It took them a few minutes, but they eventually got it. Can you see it?
There were actually lots of "Aww's" when they read the message. They were blowing kisses to him and saying their good-byes. It was very cute. Here's a little wrap-up of all the places CC ended up:

One of the best parts of the whole elf experience was the journaling from my Elf on a Shelf unit.  It took the place of morning work and they really got into it. Below is a slideshow with a picture of CC sightings and one of my student's journals. Enjoy!
11/2013 UPDATE: Sadly, I've been notified that materials directly related to Elf on a Shelf can not be sold on TpT. I'm working on an update that would allow me to repost this unit with no copyright conflicts before the holiday season. And even worse - Picnic, the service which held my slideshow below,  went out of business, taking my slideshow with it! :(

11/23/ update - the unit is back~ with a new name and new look. Check it out here and be sure to redownload if you had the original!

Edited 11/28/12 - My slideshow is just a black box because sadly, Picnik, which was hosting the slideshow went out of business taking my slideshow with it. Sadness. However, you can see lots of pix on my Pinterest Elf on the Shelf board HERE and I'll be adding new ones from out adventure this year!

For even more ideas, visit Mel's linky party!

I'm not sure I have the words (or the strength to string them together) to describe the strange behaviors I'm seeing this week. I've all but thrown in the towel. Last week of school before break + full moon + tired teacher = crazy bunch of kids. I actually watched one of my kids jump up and down really fast, while shaking her LONG hair all over and repeating loudly "BoingBoingBoingBoing" in the HALLWAY on the way to lunch. Wha?? This is a kid who is usually an angel among children. I mean, at this point is there anything to do but laugh (and get them in that dang cafeteria as soon as humanly possible, of course.)

Moving on...
This morning, our elf CC left a note on the globe to show us where he's been traveling to and even brought back some snow. Perhaps it was not my his most creative visit, but it was Friday people and I was able to leave 30 minutes early! And it's harder than it looks to make a snow angel with hollow little felt legs!

This one is a bit better. Can you spot him?

He's sitting on the lamp in our library with a balloon bubble behind him. He even left us a special note! And gifts!! There's a bottle of bubbles on each student's desk. I'll be at a team leader meeting all day tomorrow - my sub is going to looooooove me!!

 Here's a close up of the note:

These are the snowman projects that CC was referring to - another Pinterest find. I may or may not be a *teensy* bit addicted...
Well friends, four more days until the real madness begins. Have I mentioned that I have done NO shopping yet AND I just found out today that Christmas Eve is at my house this year (and I may or may not still have Thanksgiving decorations out)?? Hanging out with the BoingBoing girl sounds easy in comparison!

I've been thinkering and tinkering (and perhaps reading too much Seuss) and I redesigned the blog a bit. What do you think? It feels so *bam* in your face big to me, but I think before it was a little to subtle. I tend to overthink these things...

In the elf update category, CC made me some coffee on Friday. An elf after my own heart. I guess they do have Starbucks at the North Pole, complete with little itty-bitty elf sized cups!

Monday is the last week of school before break. I'm guessing most of us are on the same schedule, so I thought this would be a great time to make sure you've seen and downloaded all the freebies from December. Just click on the pic to download if you see something you'd like:

I've also got some fun stuff for sale in my TpT store if you care to take a peek.

Hanukkah Activity Pack:

Elf on the Shelf Classroom Resources:
Edited 11/22/13 This resource is currently unavailable, but should be back in my shop soon with a slightly different twist!

December Writing Center Task Cards:
Whew! That was a lot of linking! Hope you enjoy, my friends. I'm off to shop for my Secret Santa gifts.  Have a great weekend!

Check out TBA's Freebie Friday for even more goodies!
Freebie Fridays

Our Elf on the Shelf classroom experience is rolling on like a runaway snowball! We've been journaling the mischief of our elf C.C. (I nicknamed him because I was not diggin' the name Christmas Chris that the kids came up with). These pages come from my Elf on a Shelf unit at TpT. (P.S. The unit also comes with a more primary version of the journal.) We put the journal together inside a construction paper folder and glued the introduction page to the inside cover. Then we've been keeping track of C.C.'s mischief each day with the investigation pages.

Here are some shots of where C.C. has been found so far:

Then we made the elves from First Grade, Blue Skies. Seriously, how cute are these? 
Are my kids the only ones obsessed with mustaches??
 I mean, they don't even know Tom Selleck! I had plans for a whole writing activity that was going to go in the middle, but between field day, a field trip and an unexpected day off to have my tooth fixed,  time was running short. Instead, we used this elf name generator that Tamara shared over on TBA to find their elf names. Happy Fluffy-Paws, Sparkly Tum-Tum and Mistletoe Monkey-Buns were big favorites!  Click {HERE} to download the sheet if you'd like. 

I'm home from school today. Apparently my teeth are made of a substance only slightly stronger than chalk and are no match for macadamia nut cookies. I don't blame the cookie, but it did cost me half of one of my incisors. Heading to the dentist soon, hopefully just a crown will do the trick.

I'd love to see what your elves have been up to, click {HERE} to add some pix to my facebook page!

Big, Big News!! Congrats to Manakans!
 (Mankans please email me at ShopSunnyDays@me.com!)
Thank you so much to everyone who entered and for the truly lovely comments. I big {super, puffy, pink heart} all of you!!  Now before I get my mushy on again, I'll forge ahead with another great craft/gift idea. With the holidays approaching I'm sure we're all looking for thoughtful inexpensive gifts for the many people at school who make life a little easier, a little more fun or just a little bit brighter. I think I've already make everything I know how to make so I've been hitting up Pinterest pretty hard for this year's gift!  I've made tons of these both as gifts and for my own personal use and they are as useful as they are cute.

Back in September I wrote about how I use these plastic envelopes as my weekly work folders:

But there's actually another way I use them that is so much more fun and so pretty! These are amazing gifts for your other teacher friends. These are dressed up with rub-on transfers and paper flowers from the scrapbook section of the craft store. The transfers in these pictures are from Stampin' Up, but I'm pretty sure these exact ones are discontinued. Click {HERE} to see some from EKSuccess on Amazon that would work nicely. You can also find them at most craft stores mixed in with the stickers, just look carefully for rub-on transfers. Sometimes they're over by the wood crafts for some reason. Just lay the rub-on where you want it to go, rub it with your fingernail or a popsicle stick (don't bother with the fancy tool they sell, your fingernail will be fine). Then attach the flowers with colored or rhinestone brads. I usually use an exacto blade to make a tiny slice to stick the brad through so I don't mutilate the folder in the process. You would think that the rub-ons would rub off, but really they hold up well! You can also use the colored plastic folders, especially if you can find some light rub-ons - look how pretty these are:

This next one is actually a 12x12 scrapbook paper holder:

And this one is a small one they called a "bank wallet".  I used some extra rub-ons from the same set to decorate a few notecards and a matching notepad. I also added a little keychain with a charm to fancy it up a bit.  I real life all the purples are the same. I need some photography lessons...
This would make a great room -mom gift, right?
I've been having a crazy few days (looong days, a broken tooth, field day, field trip) but the highlight of each of the last few days has been checking in here and sharing new ideas with you. Thanks again for hanging out with me!

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