Monday, December 30, 2013

Nashville Blogger Meet-Up 2013

I took a mini-vaca last weekend to spend some time with one of my blogging "best-ies," Elizabeth from Kickin' It In Kindergarten.  {We met in Vegas at the "I Teach K" Conference, had a GREAT time, and became fast friends!} She and Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard were hosting a Nashville Blogger Meet-Up and I just HAD to go!  I hopped in my black Suburban, tossed on the shades, and acted like I was a secret service agent on a mission! Now folks... I live in northern Indiana, so it was quite a drive.  (6 1/2 hours to be precise!)  But soooo worth it!   I mean truly.  I went by myself.  No babbling darling kiddos in the backseat.  No hubby flipping though sporting events on the radio. Just me... Oh, and my 2 friends "peace" and "quiet!"  LOL. But seriously, I mean if you are a momma like me you probably haven't had 6 hours of peace and quiet in years!  Are ya' feeling me on this one?

We started off the weekend by meeting at Nashville's Amerigo's.   Mmm-Mmm! Yummy food and a great atmosphere!   Most importantly... The sweet tea was to die for!  #SweetTeaAddict  #igottaproblem

Just look at the amazing group of bloggers...and stalkers!  LOL   Seriously, I always find it amazing when you meet teachers at blog meet-up events.  Every time, the people you meet there are THE best of the BEST!  Teachers who blog are always the strongest in their districts, without fail.  They are the ones seeking to improve themselves.  They are the ones going above and beyond.  They are the ones doing what's RIGHT...not what is easy!  I mean FOR REAL... have you ever met a blogger who is a closed-door, ditto master, non-sharing, out-dated dullster??  I think not!  If you are a blogger yourself, you know blogging is not necessarily "easy."   It takes time.  It takes dedication.  If you are looking to build yourself a support team of the highest caliber... Start by going to a meet-up!

Or better yet... start with these bloggers, who joined us in Nashville:

Misty and Kristy-Teaching Times Two
And ME!
...And we can't forget our followers (stalkers!) extraordinaire:  Asha, Kristine and Danielle

Saying that Elizabeth and Greg had been busy would be an understatement!  The prizes these two collected and prepared for the meet-up were phenomenal! Just look at all the goodies that were won!

After LOTS of chatting (which in my opinion is always the BEST part of these meet-ups!), we broke for some time to digest. {Literally!}  Then, later met for dinner near Opryland.  {You know you are in good company when an hour wait feels like 2 minutes! GREAT conversation and idea sharing!!!}  I was so honored to sit next to Misty & Kristy, the identical twin duo who bring you the Teaching Times 2 blog!
LOVE.THESE.GIRLS!   #puttheminmypocketandtakethemhome  These ladies were not only stunningly beautiful, you angelic, but incredibly smart and filled with Tennessee charm!  I mean, I think I learned more from them that hour at dinner than I do at most PD events!  Smart cookies!  However, I gotta admit... Their sweet Tennessee accents were mesmerizing!  They could have been speaking alien language... and I would have hung on every word!!!  Did I mention that these girlies teach at the same school?  Can you imagine such double-sweetness in one building?!

Onward....   Next we ran (literally) to Opryland Resort for the "ICE!" event.  We suited up in our giant blue parkas and headed in to view 2 million pounds of specially carved and colored ice.  2 MILLION POUNDS.  FOR. REAL.   

Uh. Huh.   Rockin' the parkas.

They even had a quadruple ice slide!  SLICK!  Check out these action shots!  
Note:  This place was FREEZING! Like sub-zero.  By this point in the tour my fingers were COMPLETELY numb!   When they say to wear gloves....they mean it! Ouch!  (We looked for gloves briefly at the mall before running over to the event, but couldn't find any quickly.  Had I have known the degree of chill...THIS girl would have bought socks to wear on her hands!  Yep!  Socks on the hands.)

After the "Frosty" section of the ICE tour, they had a very "cool" New York ice display.  I stopped to snap a couple pics of the host and hostess in an ice cab...but I gotta admit, I was trying to high-tail it out of that place.  I was an icicle!  BRRRR!

I HAD to stop to snap a few last photos though as I headed for the door.  
How can a girl, like me, who loves Jesus pass up this photo opportunity???  
Uh-Huh.   The Christmas Nativity in ice.  
Took my breath away... and not just because my lungs were frozen.

A few of our friends had to depart at this point, so we gave lots of hugs and headed back to thaw out and get some sleep.  I don't have pics of this...but all  I can say is Elizabeth makes a mean hot cocoa!  
Secret ingredients:  Bailey's and marshmallows.  Oh yah.  #knowyouarejealous

We wrapped up our weekend meet-up with breakfast at Monell's.  Oh My.  How do I use words to describe this yumminess???  I'm talkin' homestyle, home-cookin' of the finest southern style!  When the sweet waitress said, "Pace yourself,"  she was NOT kidding!  Ugh!  Let's just say that I learned what "meat sweats" were that morning.  LOL!   Let me just authenticate this little description a bit by adding that half of the Vanderbilt football team was eating breakfast right next to us.   #seriousgrub #gained3poundsin30minutes

Whew!  What a weekend.  It was such an incredible experience. TRULY.  A HUGE thank you to Elizabeth and Greg, our hosts for the weekend.  Elizabeth has been one of my blogging-besties for a while...but this was my first opportunity to meet Greg, the man behind the "stache."  Let me just say that this man is such an incredible teacher.  Seriously, one of the most hard-working kinder-teachers I know.  I stand in amazement of all he can accomplish on a daily basis.  He is sincerely one of the most genuine, devoted educators I have met... yet so down-to-earth.  I am so honored to call him my friend.

I guess I will wrap up this post with some 
"What I Learned from my Nashville Blogger Trip" 
bullet points...

* Elizabeth has some SERIOUS car horn skills!  Note: Do NOT cut in front of her in traffic!!!  
{I love you, girl!  You are the BEST!   #pickinguponyourhashtagskills}

* If you have mad-style like Dana ( you can rock polka-dot socks with flats!  That girl is SO stylish... AND smart!  She actually heeded the "socks and gloves" warning, unlike me.  #frostbite #sorrynopicforthisone

*Personally chosen children's books make great and thoughtful gifts!  Thanks for the tip, Catherine (TheBrownBagTeacher).

* If you eat at Monell's ALWAYS wear stretch pants!  (Or a long sweater so you can unbutton the top button!)  YUMMY!

*But MOST importantly..... Life is about RELATIONSHIPS.  Don't pass up opportunities to connect with others.  We can all use more support and encouragement in our lives.   Drive the 6 hour drives.  Save the pennies to fly to Vegas for the summer conference.  You'll never regret it... and that's a promise!

Me at the beginning of my trip home....            Now half way home.....                              6 1/2 hours later, in my driveway and dead tired!!! 

So blessed to have made the connections and bonds that I did last weekend!  
Blogging is a blessing!

Teachers of Instagram Linky Party!

I'm teaming up with one of my bloggin' best-ies,
Elizabeth Hall, on her "Blog-iversary" linky party!

This linky invites you to post your top 3
Instagram pics of 2013.
Here are MY top Instagram pics! 
BTW... my Instagram "name" is @hollyehle
{Follow me!}
 #1 Family Pic
 This picture SOOO tells the story of us.  The pic was taken out by our grandpa's old barn here in "Ehleville."  (For about a 3 mile radius out here in the country, every house is an "Ehle" house. After Grandpa quit farming, many of the family members built on the land.  We have our own "Ehle Compound" out here!) "In" the pic is my hubby, me, Hunter & Lexi (the twins), and Colton.  The "photo bomber" is my nephew, Garrett, who lives with us when he is not at college.   #ThatFamily   #DreamLife
#2 Vegas "I Teach K":  Pool Side
If you've been there...'nuff said!   If you haven't been... GO!  Save your pennies now, people. 
Best personal/professional investment ever! 
#3 Blogging Buddies
 Ahhh!  Couldn't just post one!  I love my Blogging K-Team! 
Ya'll make me a better teacher and challenge me every day! Love U!
Ok... It's your turn now! 
To join in the fun, all you have to do is link up your top 3 favorite Instagram pictures from 2013.
The only rules are:
1. That you can’t link up a product (That’s just tacky…).
2. Make sure to check out at least three other linker-uppers (it’s a word).
 Hopefully, this will be a great way for more of us to connect on Instagram! Make sure to link up to your blog but let us know what your Instagram name is so we can follow you! 
Link up by clicking the "Teachers of Instagram" graphic above!

Can't wait to see your Instagram Linky Post!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thirteen in '13

I'm linking up with some of my blogging friends to bring you my....
What a fun-filled... and FAST year it has been!   I think I could list 1300 things that happened in 2013 if I had time...but "time" is definitely one of those things that I'm ALWAYS short on.... so I'll stick to the first 13 that pop into my head!  In no particular order, here they are...

#1  Being Awarded "Lutheran Teacher of the Year!"
So humbled and honored to have been presented this award.  I LOVE my job!  I feel so very blessed to have the opportunity to work with these little ones each day and share the love of Jesus with them all! I also loved that my family was able to join me in Wisconsin at the National LEA convention to be with me when receiving the award.  {After the convention, we celebrated by spending the rest of the weekend in Wisconsin Dells with some of our best friends.  So fun!}

#2  "I Teach K" in Vegas

How can I even put this experience into words?!  UN-BE-LIEVE-ABLE!  The professional development was great...but the friendship building was AMAZING!  Already planning my 2014 trip!

#3  Family Vacation:  Washington D.C.

We packed up and headed out on an awesome road trip to D.C. with our best friends.  My kids were the perfect age to visit D.C., having just learned all about American history.  And to my surprise, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I had my own "celebrity sighting!"  THE Kim Adsit! LOL!   I kid you not... Kim just happened to be visiting at the same place/time I was!   So weird!  We now laugh about me being her stalker-fan!

#4  Summer!!!  
Ahhh.. Nothing "special" to note on this one, just time to relax with the family.  I love spending time with my kiddos.  Love having the opportunity to be a full-time "Mommy" each summer.  We fill our days with CrAzY adventures! 

#5  Watching my kiddos grow up...{Bittersweet!}
 My twins turned 12. (Alexa and Hunter are the twins.)  My "baby" Colton turned 9.  My nephew (semi-adopted "son") went off to college. (Thank goodness it's not too far away! We suffer withdraw weekly, even though he comes "home" to us almost every weekend!)  My niece, 20, also regularly a staple in our home, has been ultra busy this year with college, then working 2 jobs!  I gotta make that girl slow down and spend more time with us!

(Yes... Garrett is making a goofy face!  That's how we roll!)

#6  Blogging Buddies

Oh, how blogging has changed my life... and teaching!  I have met the BEST friends through blogging.  Friends who are "in the trenches" just like me!  I LOVE having kinder-blogging-buddies to share ideas with and bounce ideas around with! Blogging Meet-Ups have been so much fun too!  Meeting up with the ladies (and gents) that challenge me to be a better teacher is just THE BEST!

#7  Kings Island with our "Best-ies"
For my twins' birthday, we invited all of our best friends to make the road trip to Kings Island with us!  It was so much fun!  We spent the day making some incredible memories!  Love these people!!!

#8 Kindergarten Art Show

 At the end of the 2012-2013 school year my K-Team held our own "Kinder-Gallery" Art Show. It was our year-end celebration of our self-made "Artist of the Month" program.  It was awesome.  The kiddos each chose their favorite artist from the year and in small groups made their own artist mini-movies on the iPads. Take a peek HERE.  We served grapes, cheese and sparkling grape juice in "fancy" glasses.  We invited friends, family, and upper-classmen (our school goes to 8th grade) to view our artist mini-movies, then our k kiddos hosted tours of all the master artist inspired art.  What an experience for the kiddos!  {And me too! A local philanthropic organization is currently considering funding an all expense paid trip for me to go to Paris this summer with my instructional assistant to learn more about the master artists...and therefore improve our program!  Wish me luck!!!)

#9 Under Construction: Prepping my classroom in 24 hours!  Ugh!
 Our school was undergoing a renovation project this summer, and let's just say things "got delayed."  I ended up having about 24 hours to prep my room for parent/child visitation visits.  Talk about an all-nighter.  When my co-workers and I ordered pizza and had it delivered to our classroom window, the pizza man said it was the strangest delivery he had ever made!  LOL!  But God is good!  We finished "enough" to welcome the kiddos!  Did I mention I have 37 little kinders this year?!

#10 Sponsoring Adonis
As my son said in our family Christmas letter, we don't have everything we "WANT"...but we have everything we "NEED."  For that, I am so very thankful.  God has given us enough to help others as well, and my family receives so much joy from being able to sponsor our sweet Adonis who lives in the Dominican Republic.  For $35/month, we are able to provide Adonis with the opportunity to go to school, have food to eat, receive medical care, and most importantly learn about God.  If you want to help your children understand how blessed they truly are and want them to learn how NOT to take what they have for granted, considering sponsoring a child through Compassion International.  We exchange letters and photos regularly and now can even email Adonis whenever we want.  It is a life-changing experience.  Check out the video below, made by Christian musician, Jeremy Camp.
Jeremy Camp & Compassion International Sponsor a Child! from Compassion International on Vimeo.

#11 Knowing Evil Didn't Win
My twins, who are 12, wrote to some of the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook school shootings last year.  They sent them pictures they had drawn and also wrote to tell them that our family, our school, and our church were all praying for them.  Hunter received a letter back from one of the victim's family. Such a life changing experience for us, reminding us how important our faith is to us...and reminding us of the power of God's love and prayer.  There is much evil in the world, it's true.  But if we keep God first in our lives, and share His love... Evil DOES NOT win.

#12  What does the fox say??  
Ok... Everyone knows this song, right?  Well... this year I have had the opportunity to watch my daughter further develop her hobby of movie making.  Check out my favorite of the year!  (She is 12...and made this absolutely completely on her own.)  Cracks. Me. Up.

What does the fox say? By Lexi from holly ehle on Vimeo.

#13  Christmas "Jay All Day" Day
This year we invited my family over on Christmas morning for our family get-together.  It was at my I made the rules.  The rules MUST wear FOOTED pajamas... and bring food.  LOL! {Ok.. In all honesty, the PJs were my sister's idea!} After we made it over the hurdle of finding enough adult footed PJs, the rest was cake!  We had a great time! Every one was happy, festive...and COMFORTABLE!  I LOVE "Jay All Day" Christmas Day! It's my new tradition!   {The pics above are my 3 kiddos...then me, hubby, Garrett & Erin (my niece and nephew), and my kiddos.}

Whew!  What a whirlwind year!  
I'm sooo looking forward to finding out what 
adventures 2014 will bring!  
I'd love to know what your 2013 was "link up" using the "Thirteen in '13" logo at the top of the post!