February 27, 2015

My Favorites from the Week

Happy Friday, friends!
Today I am sharing some of my recent favorites, and I'm so glad you have joined me!

{One} - I can't wait for Melanie Shankle's new book to be released on April 7th!
Have you pre-ordered yet?

{Two} - Do you follow I Heart Crafty Things on Pinterest? Oh my goodness, this gal has over 100 boards full of great activities for little hands! If you love easy ideas to use at home with your little ones (or in a classroom setting), you are definitely going to want to follow along with Rachel.

{Three} - While we're chatting about Pinterest...did you see this No-Bake Reese's Peanut Butter Cheesecake pin?

Doesn't that look dangerously delicious?

When I find a dangerous recipe such as this, it goes on my Pinterest Recipe Board~
Beware: This board will make your mouth water for sure!
Follow All Kinds of Things's board Pinterest Recipes on Pinterest.

{Four} - I loved hearing from so many of you after this post went live:
 If babywearing was a must for everyone...
It has been fun to hear from so many of you who have been able to laugh with me about the silly divisions that exist because of parenting style choices.

{Five} - Have you heard of Failli Knittery?
Failli Knittery is owned by Lauren - an amazing artist with a flair for incorporating unexpected twists of color and contrasting proportions to create an effortlessly chic approach to many classic pieces.

Today, Lauren is giving away one of her gorgeous Tendu Infinity Scarves!
I am such a fan of infinity scarves, and I know you are going to love this soft accessory made of 100% kettle-dyed merino wool.

Enter using the Rafflecopter below - There are a few different options for entering! Visit Lauren on Facebook, tweet about the giveaway, or comment below answering the following question:
What is your favorite kind of accessory? Purse? Jewelry? Scarf? Shoes?

Giveaway ends Wednesday (March 4, 2015) at mid-night!
Lauren will ship anywhere within the continental United States.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay safe (and warm)~

Linking Up With:
Andrea's Friday Favorites
Friday Favorites
Oh Hey, Friday!
Five On Friday
High Five for Friday!

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February 26, 2015

Are you new to All Kinds of Things?

If you are new here, welcome! I am so glad you have stopped by for a few minutes~

I am wife to the best guy for me and mommy to two little boys (with a third little one on the way)! When hubby and I first got married, I was a third-grade teacher. I loved serving in that role! However, when my first little one made his appearance, my role changed from teacher to full-time mama, and I've never looked back!

Our oldest will be four this year, and we have been enjoying doing pre-school activities at home with him. He loves to 'do cool' (do school), and I love being his teacher!
We are looking forward to continuing on the path to full-time homeschooling

Soon after my oldest was born, I began blogging in an effort to maintain contact with out-of-town family. Since that time, my on-line space has grown in ways I could have never imagined, and I have loved crossing paths with so many incredible women who are passionate about their faith and wholeheartedly committed to their families.

Several months ago, I wrote a letter to my readers - explaining a little bit about why I write.

My desire is for my space to be an inspirational place where women can find community and grow together - no matter their stage of life.

As we venture in to 2015, I have been excited to share:

Money-Saving Tips


Whether you're interested in money-saving tips, organizational ideas, recipes, thoughts on parenting or homeschooling, I hope you will continue to stop by and visit with me! 
I would love to get to know you better! Let's connect!

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Each new post I share is pinned to this board:

Thank you for joining us for another "Pincrazy Thursday"~

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February 25, 2015

Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe

It's time for another Recipe Club with Andrea - Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Maybe it's the winter weather...maybe it's a pregnancy craving...I'm not sure, but I have definitely been in to soups lately, and we made one this past weekend that was super yummy! 

I'll call it Vegetable Beef Soup...but I basically took just about everything out of my pantry and dumped it in a stew pot...

...well not everything...but just about everything.

Vegetable Soup

I started by browning a couple of pounds of ground beef. 
(I actually did this the day before I made the soup - just to make my life a little easier.)

Then I added:
1 Jug of Tomato Juice [Drink]
1 Can of Kidney Beans
1 Can of Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 Can of Green Beans
1 Can of Corn
1 Can of Carrots & Peas
1 Can of Garbanzo Beans

Vegetable Soup

Leave what you love - Take out what you don't like - Add a little more of this - and a little less of that. There are no rules with this soup! 

We ate it with slices of crusty sourdough bread, but cornbread would be delish, too!

*This soup is also a perfect crock pot recipe...and if you're in to freezing meals, this one does well in the freezer.*

For more of my family's favorite recipes, check out All Kinds of Things' Recipe Board:

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February 24, 2015

Most Controversial Blog Posts

A few months ago, my husband gave me some blogging advice. You see, he's a big blogger. Just kidding. In fact, if he had a blog, it would probably be called something like "Real Men Don't Blog"...anyway, he gave me some advice about my blog

He said, "Liz, you are being entirely too cautious. For fear of offending people, you are completely avoiding writing about some of the topics that mean the most to you."

And you know what? He was exactly right! (Don't you just love when that happens, ladies?) 

I was avoiding certain topics...I wasn't writing a whole lot about being a stay-at-home mom, because the on-line world can be so ugly about this topic. Most of the world has no concept of what a full-time homemaker's role really looks like on a day-to-day basis.

I wasn't writing much about why we have chosen to faith-based education our children, because once again...there are so many misunderstandings out there about this topic - especially when it comes to homeschooling

You know what the result was? Sure, there have been ugly comments...and rude responses coming from individuals who thrive on being unkind toward others with a different opinion...but there has also been freedom. I have found freedom in my writing - and I have connected with a multitude of amazing individuals who have been an encouragement in more ways than they know! 

While I thought writing about these things would probably be somewhat controversial, I hadn't seen anything yet. 

My Most Controversial Blog Posts

Controversial Blog Posts

I had no idea that the following three posts would receive so much attention:

These posts have encouraged many, but they have also angered many. 
As I write, my goal is always to encourage.

If you are new to this space, I would love to share with you a little bit about why I blog.

Creating controversy is most definitely not an intention that I have for this space. 
However, I have learned that when you share the deepest parts of yourself, your passion will either be met with equal passion from those who wholeheartedly agree or fire from those who wholeheartedly disagree. Some are able to disagree in a kind, resptable manner - while others choose to hide being an anonymous id as they say things that would most likely never say to you if you were having such a conversation in person. 

If you are a fellow blogger, I would encourage you to be true to yourself - Don't be afraid to write about topics that mean a lot to you personally. 

If you are a blog reader, I would encourage you to be kind - even when you choose to disagree - kindness always wins.

Linking up with Women with Intention~

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February 23, 2015

How to Connect with Your Students

Do you want to connect with your students? Beyond the paper and pencil part of their lives, do you really want to impact them personally? Before I became a mama, I was an elementary classroom teacher. This post includes ideas that I found to be great for connecting with the students in my classroom. 

Connect with Students

Attend their events! 
Most kids are involved in some type of extracurricular activity - sports, drama, music, etc. Reach out to their parents and ask if there is an upcoming event that you could attend. I never had a family say "No way! We don't want you there!" They were always excited to pass along football schedules, Nutcracker performance calendars, piano recital dates, and more. In many situations, I coordinated with the parents to surprise the child at their event, and it was so much fun for everyone. It was amazing to see students absolutely shine in their individual elements! In the morning (on the school day following my attendance to their event), I would usually have a note waiting for them on their desk: 

"You were incredible at your swim meet! I am so impressed by your diving!"
"Your art show was out of this world. God has gifted you with such amazing artistic talents."
"I loved watching you sing in the Christmas play! What a gift you are to all who know you!"

Oftentimes, more than one student was involved in the same event, and that made it nice to see multiple students in one place!

Just in general...do you leave notes on your students' desks? Wow! I can not tell you what an impact these kinds of gestures can make! Start giving it a try and see for yourself. Many of your students will begin to respond to you in a whole new way. Why? Because they know that you are for them...You are cheering them on...You see more than just their test scores. You see them.

Write notes on their papers!
In addition to leaving personalized notes on their desks, add genuine comments to their graded papers. Don't just put the number score or the letter grade. Include meaningful comments such as:

"I can tell you've been working really hard on your multiplication facts. Keep up the hard work!"
"I am so proud of the way you stayed focus during this test. Way to go!"
"Your handwriting is absolutely beautiful! Keep striving for excellence!"
"I see big things in your future, because you always give your best!"

Once again...this kind of positive reinforcement can impact your students in a tremendous way!

Just a side note on this: When I was in college, I had a professor who literally covered all returned papers in red ink...When you would receive a test or project back from him, it would look like he had bled all.over.the.paper....even if you had received an A. While in his class, I made a promise to myself and my future students that I would never, ever, ever grade with a red marking pen. On the day I met my student teacher mentor, she informed me that she only graded with green felt-tip markers - in an effort to appear less negative on student papers. I knew right then and there that I was going to love learning from her. What tool did I usually use for grading? Green felt-tip markers.

E-mail the parents!
When parents hear from you, they should not immediately think, "Oh no...here we go again." You want your communication with parents to be more about the positive than the negative. When their child shows outstanding kindness on the playground, e-mail them and let them know. When their child reaches their Accelerated Reader goal, e-mail them and let them know. When their child makes a good choice in the lunchroom, e-mail them and let them know. When their child wins the classroom Spelling Bee, e-mail them and let them know. These e-mails don't have to be long....just simple, short little e-mails that build powerful partnership pathways of communication between home and school.

E-mail pics to the parents!
You know what parents really love? They love seeing their child in their element at school. If you've snapped a picture of their child, include it in an e-mail to them. *See disclaimer below*

Allow kids to call their parents!
If you haven't already decided that I'm crazy, this may be where you make your decision. Yes, I said allow kids to call their parents. Okay, hear me out...You must use common sense here...and you may even want to ask individual parents if this is a good idea for their specific work situation, etc...but I found it to be a great reward for a number of students!
For example, I once had a struggling student who had worked for MONTHS to get a perfect score on his spelling test. He (and his parents) knew that the day he reached his goal, he would call them and immediately let them know! One Friday morning, it happened! This kiddo not only earned a perfect score on his test...but he also earned the bonus points for the extra credit vocabulary words. That child and I immediately stepped away to call his parents. Let me tell you...I was crying...the parents were crying...it remains one of my top ten favorite classroom moments. 

Send snail-mail!
Now that you've already decided I'm a little wacky, I'll just keep the ball rolling! 
Send festive postcards.
Send birthday cards.
Send mementos of praise for good behavior.

Include them in your life!
When I would go away on a trip...or following a weekend away from school, I would usually return with stories, pictures, details, etc. to share with my students. They loved hearing all about anything and everything. Why? Because I was including them in my life...sharing with them what was going on with me personally. They would remember the most random details...and this is what they would share over the dinner table later that evening. In addition, I loved pulling individuals aside and saying things like:

"I thought of you when I went horseback riding this weekend. I know how much you love horses."
"I saw the prettiest black lab while out walking in my neighborhood last night. Isn't that the kind of dog you have?

When I got married, the kiddos were included. They gave their best ideas for honeymoon destinations - hilarious! The families threw a beautiful bridal shower - so, so generous and thoughtful. And are you ready for this one? I invited all of them to my wedding! Yes, you read that correctly! I not only invited that year's class of students, but all of my former students as well. I wanted all of them to be involved in our special day. Prior to the ceremony, I held a "Photos & Treats with the Bride" session for all of them. Yes, they saw my dress early; Yes, I had celebrated a little bit before I even walked down the aisle; But how could I leave out so many special people who still to this day hold such an important place in my heart? Greeting them...taking pictures with them...chatting with them...definitely one of my favorite memories from the day!

The next class of students was among some of the first to know that we were expecting our first baby! They witnessed my belly getting bigger and bigger...They saw ultrasound photos...They voted on baby names...They threw me the sweetest baby shower...It was so much fun. You may find yourself uncomfortable with such excitement, but I loved sharing this with them! 

When it comes down to it, your students are probably not going to remember all that you taught them about state history...or how to classify animals...or how to compare and contrast geometric shapes...When I cross paths with former students, they remember the moments where we connected about things that have nothing to do with academics.

Disclaimer: Before implementing any of these ideas, please check your school's policy manual - especially when it comes to communication with families, photographs of students, etc. Also, use common sense - never finding yourself in a situation that may compromise your safety or professionalism.

Linking Up with A Wise Woman Builds Her Home~

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