A Gaggle of Gratitude: Reflecting on Family, Friendships, and Fall Fun

As we gear up for Thanksgiving and the Christmas (in my family) holiday, pausing to reflect on family, friendships, and all of the things we are thankful for just makes these holidays so much more special. One of my pet peeves is the focus on buying the perfect gift and material things, so I am going to link up with my friend, Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second. Jennifer and I have been collaborating since the "birth" of her blog, and my little blog has existed now for about three years. I think this is a good time to say thank you to my readers and followers. After all, it's nice to know that someone actually reads what I post. :-)  


Three years ago, we lost my dad after a long struggle with pulmonary illnesses, and two years ago we lost my father in law. It's left a hole in our family for sure, and when you lose a loved one, it's a reminder to savor the time with each other. These pictures are from two different beach trips, one to Topsail Island, NC and the other to Holden Beach, NC. We have such wonderful memories from these beach trips. The kids (ours and my sisters) had lots of fun playing in the ocean and just plain hanging out. It's hard to believe that our oldest is in college now, and now, my nephew is trying to make his choice. Seems like yesterday these four were jumping in the leaves and playing t-ball.

The friends on the left side of my image have been friends for nearly 20 years. Tama and Nancy are in the front. Nancy is the reason I am a reading specialist. She mentored me way back in 1990, and we shared a special group of first graders that year (or maybe the year after) that truly needed a special teacher. Six little people at readiness level my first year in first grade. Well, I am so thankful we shared those children and a love for teaching reading.

Tama, Sheri and Grayson are special family friends from church. We've known each other for about 20 years too. Hard to believe!  

The "endposts", Kim and Margaret, are our neighborhood friends. We enjoy lots of spontaneous get-togethers, especially in the summer months. 

Finally, the bloggy friends on the right side are gals I've gotten to know the past two years. Andrea, the gal in the very back is the reason I have my store on Teachers Pay Teachers and the reason I blog. We graduated from our reading program together. Her blog is Reading Toward the Stars, and she is our leader on Adventures in Literacy Land

To the left of me is Nikki from Teaching in Progress. She has worked with me to organize Virginia is for Teachers. Also included in this pictures are Karen from Mrs. Stamp's Kindergarten, Erin from Super in Second and Beyond, Melissa from Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late, and Haley from Owls and Lesson Etc.


Wow, there are so many wonderful books, and we would not be able to teach without them. Fall is coming to an end, and we're about to welcome in winter (well, maybe not welcome, but it's coming whether we like it or not), so we may as well be prepared. In the fall, my favorite author to use in the classroom is definitely Cynthia Rylant. I just love the poetic way she writes. You can completely visualize what she shares because of great word choice and voice. Scarecrow and In November are my top picks. I love winding up Cynthia Rylant studies with three books, Silver Packages, Snow, and Christmas in the Country.  My Cynthia Rylant Author Study now includes all of these titles plus five others. 
Cynthia Rylant Author Study

During this time of year, we transition to winter, and that means Jan Brett. The Jan Brett Author Study I created has eleven units for The Hat, The Mitten, Armadillo Rodeo, Gingerbread Baby, Gingerbread Friends, Trouble with Trolls, Annie and the Wild Animals, Wild Christmas Reindeer, Berlioz the Bear, Town Mouse, Country Mouse, and The Three Snow Bears. It has enough material for two full months, and these book options allow you to work through December to February easily.
Jan Brett Author Study


It's hard to believe, but it's been three years ago since we lost our Shadow and gained our Molly. Wow, these two pups are just the best. Shadow was such a great lovey. The kids could crawl all over him, and he'd soak it all up. He had a horrible fear of loud noises and really suffered when storms came through or on the 4th of July, but we sure did love him.

Now, Molly, well, she's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but she too is a lovey. She has a little stubborn streak in her, and when you are walking, this girl is one on a mission (and that is to take you where SHE wants to go!). Making this image was very special to me. I just love the oldies of Shadow in the snow and all dressed up.  

Well, these are the things I am thankful for today, and I honestly could go on and on. I hope you've enjoyed learning a bit more about me too. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving season.

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