Sunday, July 5, 2015

Choosing Joy in the Mundane

If you were to ask me what brought me JOY, the immediate answers that come to mind are fun outings with my family, reading a this-is-so-great-I-can't-put-it-down novel in the backyard, baking something delicious, coffee dates with girlfriends...you get the picture.

Notice what did not make my list: laundry,
unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming the baseboards,
laundry, cleaning the Keurig, scrubbing the shower,
laundry (did I mention that already?)

As I sat folding what felt like my 100th basket of laundry this week, I decided that a definite perspective shift was needed. While these tasks may not be riveting nor fabulous, they are important. And my attitude plays a great role in changing how I view these items of my ever-growing to-do list.
Joy is not a fleeting feeling.
It's not something that should be dictated by my present tasks or day-to-day surroundings.
It's a contentment that comes from knowing that God has placed me in my current situation. On purpose. For a reason.

Joy is a choice.

And one that must be made again and again. A choice to seek after God with my whole heart, even as I'm up to my elbows in dish soap, scrubbing at bits of scrambled egg I knew I should have rinsed sooner. A choice to see the good in everyday, even when I have spit-up in my freshly-curled hair. A choice to live with gusto, even when I'm running on little sleep.

Jesus Christ is our ultimate source of joy.
Who wouldn't want inexpressible and glorious joy?

Jesus is not only the source - He's also our role model.
Jesus wasn't filled with the emotion joy when approaching the cross because he was having such a wonderful time. On the contrary, he knew he would experience excruciating pain and anguish caused by separation from God. He CHOSE to be joyful because of what was to come: redemption and restoration.
I pray that you would join me on this daily quest to CHOOSE JOY.
We were called to live lives of JOY, that we might experience lasting peace and hope in a fallen world.

Well, I gotta run - the buzzer on the dryer just rang :)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Becoming an American Citizen

Happy 4th of July, friends!
Happy 4th of July Pinners! Hope you all have a safe, fun and blessed Day!  {Enjoy this Free printable via Cottage at the Crossroads} ♥ kimm
Today I want to share with you one of my stories:
I am a Canadian, born in Montreal, Quebec.
Growing up in the States and marrying an American, I knew that I wanted to apply for dual citizenship. Exactly one year ago today, that dream became a reality!
 Like most things in life, the process of becoming an American citizen begins with paperwork. I filled out the document with information such as my point of initial entry as well as the specific dates of EVERY TIME I had left the country since becoming a resident. Let me tell you, that as a seasoned traveler, that took some digging!
Once my paperwork was processed, I received an appointment for fingerprinting. Now, this was quite an ordeal because one month after I submitted my application, I moved across the country from New Jersey to Washington. I kept receiving notice after notice about getting my fingerprints done in NJ - only for me to call,
e-mail, and send snail mail with my updated address. Finally, after 3 months of back-and-forth, I heard from an agent that I could just go to the Seattle Immigration office and get my fingerprints taken on the day of my appointment (even though my notice said NJ). 
"Why has no one told me this?" I thought!
So, I took a day off of school, drove through crazy Seattle traffic at 6am, walked up to the counter and was told, 
"WRONG!" 
Apparently, you can't just show up without the correct appointment paper. But they told me I could wait and they would fit me in if they had time before they closed at 4pm.
I waited.
and waited.
...and waited.
at 3:55pm my name was called.
Boy was that a long day.
But at least my fingerprinting was done and I was one step closer.
When I received home that day I had a letter in the mail with a fingerprinting appointment.
In Seattle.
Go figure.
The next month I was called to the Immigration Office for my official interview. I sat in a large room with people from all over the world, waiting to be called in. *At the fingerprinting appointment, they give each candidate a booklet with 100 possible questions in it. At the interview, they choose randomly from the list and you must answer 6 out of 10 correct. People spoke in hushed tones, going over possible questions and talking about their experience getting to this point.

The man who interviewed me was the kindest government employee I had ever met and he put this nervous girl at ease. 
He explained the process to me, asked me a series of questions, and I was good to go!

Here are some sample questions:
How would you do? :)

Normally a new citizen will be sworn in at the Immigration Office, but if you get processed in the months of May or June, you are sworn in at an official Naturalization Ceremony on July 4th. 
Each year they host them in major cities around the nation. 
I was there with 500 of my closest soon-to-be-naturalized friends. 
See that red circle - that's me! :)
It was quite an impressive ceremony, filled with speeches, song and dance performances, and inspiring stories about those who worked so diligently to make their dream of becoming an American come true. 
For me, the best part of the ceremony was when they announced each country that was represented. They would call out a country and anyone who was from there would stand and the crowd would cheer. Some countries - like Azerbaijan - had one person represented while others - like Canada {woot woot!} - had 41 people becoming citizens.
At the end of the ceremony, we all stood and recited this oath:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

And voila!
My dream of becoming an American citizen came true: 
I'd love to hear from other naturalized friends! 
Anyone else have a story to share? :)

To celebrate Independence Day weekend, I'm joining some fantastic sellers and putting my TPT store on sale! EVERYTHING is 20% off through Sunday :)
www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/jessica-lawler

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pick 3 Pinterest Picks: Home Decor, Recipes, and Summer Reading

My name is Jessica.
And I am a Pinterest addict.

There, I've said it.
It's true.
And it feels so good to get that off my chest :)

I'm sure none of you can relate, right?

Pinterest is a wonderful resource for finding creative teaching ideas, crafting projects, and recipes. I use it for all of the above - plus I've recently hoarded a huge collection of baby pins!

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Here are three of my most favorite recent pins:
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I love Mason Jars - they are so cute and functional! This pin has TONS of ideas for practical and decorative uses:
50 Crafts Ideas with Mason Jars. I love all of these ideas…which one to do first
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Looking for a power snack for when you're on the go? Well, look no further - these are delicious!
No Bake Energy Bites - Diane from Fifth in the Middle says, "I like to make these for those long afternoons when I get a food craving and it's not time for dinner."
The best part? These are no-bake, so you don't need to turn on that oven in this summer heat!

My friend, Diane, from Fifth in the Middle, has started a new Pinterest board of food for teachers - check it out!
Collaborative recipe and idea board for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between!

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Lastly, as a book/quote lover, I found this post interesting:
Awesome bible quote, and this is very true for me! My mind gets the best of me sometimes.
It's a collection of proverbs that you could use in your classroom. I love the idea of bringing the Bible in the Christian classroom more than just during prayer request time or when the kids are filling in their workbooks. My creative appetite is whet and I think a product is in the works :)

Looking for more PINspiration? Check it out:
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's Currently JULY!

 Happy July everyone!
Here's what I'm CURRENTLY up to:

Listening:
My husband has been playing this fun CD to our little Hudson.
Rockabye Baby - U2. Yep :)
They have taken classic U2 songs and baby-fied the melodies. They're quite fun and it's good father-son bonding time :)

Loving:
My sweet little Hudson is 8 weeks old - and being a mom is the best. thing. ever.
Thinking
I took some time off of blogging & TPT when Huddy was first born, but I've recently gotten back into it and am motivated to tackle my ever-growing TPT To-Do list. I've got big plans in the work and can't wait to get these products posted!

Wanting
My new favorite thing at Starbucks is the 
Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher
Very Berry Hibiscus Tea Refresher – http://hip2save.com/2014/07/25/very-berry-hibiscus-tea-refresher/
YUM! My mouth is watering at the thought :)

Needing
In Seattle, our average summer temp is 75 degrees - however, this past week we've been in the 90s and we are feeling the heat! I've been working hard to keep the little mister nice and cool - lots of ice cream stops and walks through the air-conditioned mall :)
since you may not be able to control the temperature in your dorm...good to know!!

All Star
I believe a couple of my strengths are being extremely organized (lists make my heart happy!) and an efficient multi-tasker. I love to make a plan and then work hard to get it done quickly. I pride myself that, in an hour, I can work on a blog post, watch a Kdrama, curl my hair, and create a TPT sample. Now, having a newborn to take care of has definitely improved my skills - I can now do all of those things one-handed :)

Hop on over to "Oh Boy 4th Grade" to read other people's Currently posts


Summer Share & Prepare: Author Study FREEBIE

I love stories.
I love unraveling mysteries and
learning about other parts of the world.
I love traveling through time and going on daring adventures.

I also love hearing about the authors behind the stories.
I love to learn the background that inspired their grand tales.
And I seek to instill that love in my students.
One of the ways I do that is by assigning them a short research project on an author of their choice:
It's a simple one-page assignment that gets them used to researching a specific topic and reporting their findings.
I assign my students this project at the beginning of the school year. Throughout the year, I display their Author Study pages
(for one week at a time) in the Author's Spotlight section of the classroom library. 
If I have any books by the author that they choose,
I pull them to be featured:
The students love seeing their Author Study page on display - they look forward to "their week" all year long!

*Note: I usually prep two or three during the summer to use the first few weeks of school. It gives the students an idea of what I'm looking for and allows me to highlight some lesser-known authors that I have come to love. Download the packet now and make your examples while you're enjoying some downtime this summer, so you're all set to go in the fall.

You can snag this Author Study project
for FREE from my TPT store:
While you're there, become a follower to be alerted when new products are posted!

I'm linking up this idea with Marie from "Once Upon a Classroom"
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Hop on by to check out other products that will help you prepare for next year!

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day from this little cutie!

We're looking forward to our first road trip since Hudson was born - we're taking him to Vancouver later this month!

Any Canadian bloggers out there? :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2 For Tuesday: Fun & Engaging Book Studies

Happy Tuesday!
It's a lazy summer morning in my neck of the woods: I slept in (hence the late posting of the blog post!) and am now hanging out with this sweetie, watching some KDrama.
Any other Korean drama fans out there? :)
How to cure your drama fever in 5 easy steps .. waita minute...

Now it's time for...
Today I have two of my best-selling
book studies on sale for 50% off!
The first packet accompanies this great book:
School Days Around the World Find out what an average day of school is like for children in seven different countries on wegivebooks.org.
The story follows seven kids from different countries around the world and looks at a typical school day. I have created a fun & engaging packet to supplement your study:
School Days Around the World Multicultural Book Study
The packet can be completed in 7 school days (one country per day) or you can spread it out over 7 weeks (doing on activity per day, one country per week)
Complete directions and answer keys are included.
This book is the perfect thing for back-to-school as you bring your students back in the routine of being in the classroom. There is also an emphasis on Earth Day, so you can use it in April as well :)
Normally $5, this packet is $2.50 TODAY ONLY!

The second book study on sale is my second best-selling product:
Looking for a print-and-go packet to help with your novel study or literature circles group? Well this 75-page packet is the perfect thing for your upper elementary students! Normally $7, you can purchase this packet for only $3.50 - TODAY ONLY!

Hop on over to "Chalk One Up for the Teacher" to see other awesome products on sale!