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That r-word

playgroundLast Friday… I watched as rowdy children, bursting with the anticipation of summer vacation, played on our school playground.  A few hours later I supervised many of them as they waited for their parents to pick them up for the last time this school year.  After most were gone, our principal played Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off over the p.a. system, and the remaining kids danced in delight.:)

last day of school danceI walked through the back hall where the last of the “bus children” were waiting and then sat on the steps outside my building..waiting to see that last bus as it pulled away from the school.

last busAnd just like that a 33 year teaching career was over.

The day before that, all the teachers in the building surprised me by bringing in snacks to celebrate my retirement…everything from olive dip to 3 different flavors of brownies to fruit to apples and Heath Brickle dip and more…lots more!  It was very thoughtful of them (and delicious!)  So over the weekend I got an idea to make one last party for them since this would be my last opportunity to do so. I wanted to thank them for being my “second family” for soooo many years.

I shopped on Saturday, made chalkboard things and figured out serving pieces on Sunday afternoon, and spent Monday preparing the food.  (Monday was a holiday, and we still had 2 days of post planning at the school this week.)

Here is how it all turned out…

snackstreatsjars of cookies and hugs and kissesAs you can see, there were chocolate dipped strawberries, jars of cookies, a jar of hugs and kisses, (I couldn’t resist!) cheese straws, cucumber sandwiches, brownies, pimento cheese and crackers, banana bread, cranberry orange pound cake, red velvet cupcakes, nuts, pecan bars, and tomato sandwiches.

jar of paper pencils

Most of the food came from Fresh Market, but I did make the 2 kinds of sandwiches, the brownies, and the chocolate dipped strawberries.  Those basil tomato sandwiches were by far everyone’s favorite.:) The recipe was on the blog 2 years ago here, but I kept getting asked for it so I am putting that recipe on here again.

tomato sandwich recipe Talk of the House

The little black cards on the table were quote cards I found in the stationery section of Target.

quote cardsI liked them so much, I decided to copy one of them and use it on a gift for everyone.:) (My friends have showered me with gifts and gift cards to restaurants, Lowe’s, a bakery, Pottery Barn and more these last 2 weeks.  All too much!)  So I wrapped up a candle in a plastic gift bag and tied on one of the quote cards with a red ribbon.  I loaded them all in my wagon (that thing has really come in handy this week!) and delivered them to all the staff early Wednesday morning.

wagon full of candles

On Wednesday afternoon, we had our end of the year luncheon (with yummy barbecue and all the fixings!) where those of us who were leaving were recognized.  Goodness what a bittersweet time this has been!  I had written a letter  and sent it to all my teacher friends that morning saying goodbye and urging them to speak up when there are problems in education.  I have been quite….um…opinionated (that’s the nice word my principal used:)) in my career, so I wanted to encourage them to be the same.  I knew there was no way I was going to be able to talk after they had spoken about me at the luncheon, and boy am I glad I wrote it because I think I might have gotten out 2 sentences.  I was just too choked up.

  And then there was this gift from the school ….


What a thoughtful and smart present. It even has my name on a plaque on the back of the chair.:) They also gave me a yearbook with comments from all the staff written in it (that really made me tear up!) and a 10 layer chocolate cake that we have been enjoying waaay too much!

10 layer cake with chocolate icingYou may remember my classroom from a post back in August…

One last look…

number wall and reading center in classroom(I’m trying to figure out what to do with that loveseat for my daughter’s apartment.)

4 a math room

This is where the handy dandy wagon has been all those years (on top of the closet.)

top of classroom cabinetclassroom storage and displaymath room

1 a math room

And this was one last look when I closed the door on Wednesday afternoon.

empty classroomIt felt so much like this scene from You’ve Got Mail.

I made the decision to retire last winter.  If someone had told me then how emotionally hard this was going to be, I would have said they were crazy.  I thought I would be so happy I would be turning cartwheels across the stage! (Don’t worry…I’ve never been able to do a cartwheel.:))  It is a major change in life with a roller coaster of emotions.  At the end of my long letter to all my teacher friends, I included a link to this musical video with lyrics that perfectly expressed my feelings.

I spent yesterday paying bills and feeling drained, but… enough with the sadness and looking back!  It’s a bright sunny summery Friday with a great weekend ahead, and this card is on my desk today.:)


Yes, it is time to start this second chapter…the fun one!  Thank you for letting me share this “scrapbook page” from real life, and thank you for all your super kind comments about retiring in the previous post.  Know that you are such a blessing to me! I’m closing this chapter of my life with one last video… an upbeat one for your Friday!:)


Until next time…

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Doris - May 29, 2015 - 11:11 am

Congratulations and best wishes on your retirement, Kelly! Enjoy every moment of it!
Thank you Doris! I plan on doing just that!

Lori - May 29, 2015 - 11:14 am

I am new to your blog, but I just wanted to congratulate you on 30+ years of teaching and leading generations of our nation’s leaders. My background is in education, and my mother was a teacher, so it is a privilege to see a wonderful teaching career close and another chapter in life open for you. You are truly an inspiring lady, and I wish you much happiness in your retirement.
Thank you for leaving your sweet comment Lori. If you come from a background in education, then you know how many “outside the classroom” hours are put into teaching. Someone said with retirement you get your life back. That is how I am feeling now. Thank you so much for your well wishes!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Town and Country House - May 29, 2015 - 11:28 am

Wow, Kelly! I’m sure it’s been a bittersweet semester, culminating this week. Your party for your colleagues looks wonderful, and I’m sure it was much appreciated. I know that all the students you had over the years were just absolutely blessed to have you for a teacher, and I’m sure their families were blessed as a result. Congratulations on a wonderful accomplishment, a legacy, and being a great role model for new and beginning teachers. I love the Meryl Streep quote. I need to get myself to Target and pick those cards up! I can’t wait to see what your Chapter 2 looks like! Enjoy the weekend–and retirement! xo Paula
I know all the teachers appreciated the tomato sandwiches if nothing else! (They kept coming back for them. LOL) I had several previous students who are now older come by to say goodbye, so that was certainly rewarding and bittersweet. Thank you for your lovely words here Paula. I appreciate them so much. I plan on enjoying the weekend (after we sign a lease for our daughter’s new apartment.) I hope you have a fun weekend too!

Patty - May 29, 2015 - 11:30 am

Kelly I retired two years ago (not from teaching). I am having so much fun I can’t believe how good I feel. I ran into some people I used to work with and they told me if they didn’t know better they would swear I was pregnant because I just glowed (almost 65 so I know that isn’t happening). Enjoy your retirement, you earned it!
Oh your comment made me laugh out loud Patty! Thanks for the giggle! I am so glad you are having such a good time in your retirement. I hope I can be just like you!

Laura Ingalls Gunn - May 29, 2015 - 11:30 am

Oh this post brought tears to my eyes! I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to children and enjoy a wonderfully fruitful retirementidn.
I didn’t mean to make you cry Laura! Taylor Swift was supposed to keep this lighthearted for me. :) Thank you for your kind comment. I am looking forward to having some free time.

Anne from Atlanta - May 29, 2015 - 11:38 am

Hi Kelly–I got tears in my eyes just reading about your last days as a teacher. What a wonderful goodbye to your career. I know that you have enriched so many young minds in your 33 years. Congratulations. Take time to adjust. The best is yet to come!
It WAS a very nice goodbye Anne. I hope I have made a difference in some of my students. It was certainly not an “immediate results” career! I believe you are right about the best is yet to come. :)
Enjoy your weekend!

Donnamae - May 29, 2015 - 11:47 am

Congrats! It might not hit you at first…that you are retired. It might not hit you until that day, this summer, when you would have been going into your classroom to start getting it all fixed up. You might even tear up. But, as you said, this is the beginning of just another chapter of your life…the fun one! 😉
I think you are right Donnamae. I don’t think I will really feel retired until everyone starts back to school. Right now it is just “summer vacation.” Thank you for your congratulations!
Hope you are having a delightful weekend!

Arlene@Nanaland - May 29, 2015 - 11:54 am

Kelly, I cannot wait to see what you will do in retirement because you did SO MUCH while working!! I was talking with a friend who also reads your blog (we were naming our favorite blogs) and we both agreed we wanted to move to your house. It is our favorite in blogland. Sarah’s house at Thrifty Decor Chick would be my second choice. :)
Thanks for sharing that yummy recipe. I must have missed it the first time!! Enjoy your summer, you deserve all the gifts and accolades. Your passion for education came through in your blog. Thank the Good Lord for those teachers who speak up for the children!!
Gosh thank you for such a wonderful compliment Arlene! And I am glad you like the recipe. I hope you have a chance to make it this summer by cutting up those divine summer tomatoes….yum. I had no problem speaking up for the children and for the teachers. :)
Have a great weekend!

Sandy - May 29, 2015 - 12:11 pm

Kelly, again congratulations on your retirement. I cried throughout your post this morning but with a big smile knowing in three hours my husband and I will be reunited with our middle school’s retired teachers of the past three years and those still who are ending their school year next week. Bittersweet moments caught me off guard the summer following our retirement.
I will definitely give those tomato sandwiches a try for several parties in the making. I have a beautiful tray by Don Drumm a local artist, given to us at retirement that will display your sandwiches proudly. Many, many best wishes to you and your family.
Thank you Sandy. I am so sorry it made you cry. I hope you had a fun party with all your teacher friends. You will LOVE those sandwiches. Make them soon! :)

Stacey - May 29, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Aw, bless your heart! I understand. I didn’t teach 33 years but when my time was over because of our move, I was so sad. I loved teaching. I will tell you that you’ll miss it awhile. Then you’ll look back and wonder how you ever did it all. You’ll sleep better at night too. There’s so much to life and you’ll enjoy it!
Thank you so much for the encouraging words Stacey. I do need to hear them! :)

Susan - May 29, 2015 - 12:20 pm

Congratulations Kelly! I wish you all the best. You are such an inspiration to people both young and a little older. :)
Goodness! Thank you for such a sweet compliment Susan. I appreciate it!

Andi Willis - May 29, 2015 - 12:20 pm

Congratulations! You have been such an amazing teacher and a huge asset to the school. I will always appreciate how much you nurtured Lauren when we first moved here. It was a tough year for all of us and under your tutelage you made her into the hardworking, thoughtful high school student she today. I know the Chapel will miss you dearly but you will flourish in your second chapter! Can’t wait to see what develops for you!
I highly treasure your compliments here Andi. It was a wonderful pleasure to teach your beautiful (and smart!) daughter. I know she will do great things!
If my second chapter is even half as rewarding as my first was, I will be a lucky girl. :)

Cheri - May 29, 2015 - 12:26 pm

Congrats on your retirement! It is bitter sweet for sure but you left on a high note with some pretty awesome co-workers. Now on to your next adventure.
It is an adventure; isn’t it Cheri? :) I did leave on a pretty high note, and yes my co-workers are awesome (and some of the hardest working ladies you will ever meet!) Thank you for your congratulations here.

Nancy - May 29, 2015 - 12:35 pm

Oh, congratulations! I’m so happy for you. I have an acquaintance who just retired from her long teaching career, and she didn’t leave in the same way you did. She left after she had long since gotten to the point where she despised the kids and her coworkers and her entire attitude was “good riddance!” to the whole enterprise of teaching. I thought that was so very sad, not only for her but for the kids she’s taught for the past years. You left in a lovely way, with class and joy and beauty. I wish you all the best. :) Also, I’m helping my youngest daughter furnish her first apartment and am looking forward to seeing what you do with your little loveseat!
That IS very sad for your friend, Nancy. Goodness. I hope she finds happiness in her retirement though. Thank you so much for your well wishes, and good luck decorating your daughter’s apartment. We signed the lease on our daughter’s just a couple of hours ago! I took photos but not sure what we are going to do.

Barb - May 29, 2015 - 12:50 pm

Congratulations Kelly! 33 years is an incredible achievement. Loved the entire post, but I especially loved the picture of the bus kids dancing. I think everyone can remember that feeling. My daughter’s principal played the Hallelujah Chorus as the kids ran out of school for the summer. Enjoy your retirement, I’m sure you’ll stay busy.
The Hallelujah Chorus…how funny!! (I know THAT feeling. :) ) It was funny watching the kids (and some of the teachers) dancing on the last day. Yes, I will stay busy. This weekend has already been quite full!
Thank you for the congratulations Barb.

Liz - May 29, 2015 - 12:59 pm

Love the Meryl Streep quote as it applies to this new chapter for you! You have given, given, given it appears to those of us who “know” you through your wonderful blog. Now it is time for YOU! I retired from my teaching life a couple of years ago, and I teared up reading about your last day…my dear team of teachers knew I wanted to quietly leave at the end of that last day, but just when I thought I could get out without breaking down, they came into my room, said all sorts of dear things, and had presents…foiled!! Enjoy all the options ahead of you!
I bet you couldn’t talk either when your friends showed up, right? I know that feeling of wanting to leave quietly. In fact I had told several people I wanted to just fade into the sunset. Thank you for your sweet words here Liz. How very kind of you.

Dawn - May 29, 2015 - 1:17 pm


Thank you for sharing your scrapbook page of life with us. Congratulations on your 33 years of teaching! I know that it is difficult to turn the page sometimes but I know that whatever is next in your life will be great! You inspire all of us your “e-friends” immensely. Keep us posted. Best wishes! Take care!
Thank you so much Dawn. :) I think the turning the page is hard because of the fear of the unknown…just have to step out on faith, right?

Louvina - May 29, 2015 - 1:27 pm

Lovely!! Just lovely! So enjoyable getting to see your last days of teaching!! Your school is really going to miss you especially the students. And you will miss them, too! It has been 4 years and the kids are what I still miss the most. The first video made me “boohoo” ( have never heard that song before) and then for some reason couldn’t get Taylor’s to down load.:( Love the quote ” get started!” So I’m off to decorate with my patriotic theme for the summer!! Watching to see your next post— relax this weekend! Sounds like you are retiring and becoming a real empty nester at the same time!! Mercy— all kinds of changes! Thanks for sharing all this with us!:)
I’m so glad you enjoyed it Louvina. I actually thought very few people would read all of this post since it wasn’t really house related. Boy was I wrong! I think this has been one of my most read posts this year so far! I am sorry the upbeat Taylor Swift video didn’t load for you. Try clicking here to see if it will take you to the webpage: I hope you had fun doing all your patriotic decorating. I have a little done but will get on it big time next week (after I spend my Pottery Barn gift card. :) ) This weekend has been BUSY. We have looked at apartments most of the day but finally signed the lease just a little while ago…glad to have that done!
Take care.

Gina - May 29, 2015 - 1:48 pm

Oh my, I’m sure it was very emotional. I love how you documented it. I’m sure teaching today isn’t what it was when you started. I’ve heard from friends that the decline of the family (morals, etc.), standardized testing and new laws make it a much harder and sadly less rewarding to go into these days. :( It was so nice of you to do something for your coworkers also. I love how you encouraged them to speak out. I am like you…a bit opinionated too. 😉 I like to say I am a”tell it like it is gal.” 😀 Thank goodness as I have spiritually matured through the years I have better discernment of when to speak up and when to let things go!! 😛 Thanks for including the tomato sandwich recipe. They sound delish!! Now, go enjoy your summer and hey, the rest of your life!! 😀
Thank you Gina. You are so right about teaching today not being like it was when I started. Long ago, you could actually do creative things with the students. There is no time for that now, and the administration at the local board of ed is so top heavy, teachers’ thoughts are just not heard. It is a sad situation. I think I have also matured in the speaking out field, but there have also been times when I wish that I had NOT held my tongue.
On a happier note, the tomato sandwiches ARE delicious! I hope you make them soon. :)

Jill - May 29, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Congratulations Kelly!! Wow, such an emotional week you had. What thoughtful coworkers you have and what a nice way to show your appreciation as well before you left. It speaks so much of what kind of relationship you all have and the great environment for learning you all created. Whichever teacher is given that classroom next year will have huge shoes to fill though, that’s for sure! Have a wonderful Summer. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you next!
Thank you so much for the congratulations Jill. I think the job was left to someone who is very capable of doing it. :) (There were a number of people who really wanted my job.) Our school has some very talented and dedicated teachers who work there. I will certainly miss those folks a lot!

KellyinPA - May 29, 2015 - 2:03 pm

Aw, Kelly! Only YOU would be thoughtful enough to give your fellow teachers a party upon YOUR retirement! You are a gem! I know the students and parents will miss you. I always so appreciated the “good” teachers my older children had. I’m sure there has to be some adjustment period for you but oh, what wonderful things await you:) Have you ever considered Instagram? I’d love to follow you on there.
The teachers I worked with deserved more than a party. They are such hard workers! I would love to do Instagram, but you can’t do it without a smartphone. All I have right now is an old slider kind of cell phone. My plan is to get one this summer…if the upgrade fits in a retired teacher’s budget! :) If I do get one, I will do Instagram, and I will let everyone know here on the blog. Thank you for all your kind words here Kelly.

Dana - May 29, 2015 - 2:21 pm

Congratulations! I have been a school teacher and a homeschool teacher so I have a heart for education. I love your classroom and the fact that you make math look inviting even to me:)You’re Got Mail is one of my favorite movies too… touching scene from the movie and a touching post from you for sure. May God bless your retirement.
I love that movie too – everything about it. Thank you for your sweet comments about my classroom and my retirement Dana. Good luck with your work in education.

Laurel Stephens - May 29, 2015 - 2:32 pm

Congratulations on your retirement!
Thank you Laurel. I have waited a long time for it!

Donnie - May 29, 2015 - 2:36 pm

Oh Kelly, how exciting. I’m not far behind you – not a teacher, but still a rewarding career. You are giving me courage, I’m in the fearful stage right now, but the comment about a summery Friday really caught my attention. Blessing to you, enjoy. Can’t wait to read the post retirement blogs, and what fun things you have planned to share with us!
Donnie, yes it is exciting (if I will focus on that!) The fear of the unknown is what seems to make us scared the most. We both just need to think of it as endless summer vacation. :)

Renee Cook - May 29, 2015 - 3:21 pm

Congratulations, Kelly, on your retirement and on completing a 33 year career in education! I have no doubt you will be greatly missed. It’s obvious from the time and effort you put into your classroom, that you are a teacher who cares.

Thank you for sharing and inspiring me through your beautiful blog. I’m always wowed by the way you celebrate everything in such a lovely way, and today’s post is another perfect example. May the Lord richly bless you as you begin this wonderful new chapter in life and may the BEST be yet to come!
What a beautifully kind comment, Renee. Thank you so much! I do hope the best is yet to come (because everything has been pretty good so far!)

Ruby - May 29, 2015 - 4:00 pm

What a beautiful last day of school you had! Donnie (comment above me) and I are in the same boat as far as retirement goes. I’m not in teaching, but I’m thinking of retiring after 45 years of work. But I’m in the “fearful stage” too. What if I retire and hate it? I won’t be able to come back to my cushy job, that’s for sure. They’re not going to hold it for me….lol. This is something we’ve never done before and we just don’t know what to expect. I’ll be watching your blog anxiously to see how you’re handling it. Enjoy yourself!!
Ruby, 45 years??? Wow that is amazing in any profession! But you deserve a vacation after that long! It is the fear of the unknown that scares us. Perhaps if we just think of retirement as a super long weekend, we will be alright. :)

Cynthia Hamsley - May 29, 2015 - 4:17 pm

Oh, Kelly, I am so happy for you. What a wonderful way to retire! You have touched so many students and teachers. I am one of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to work and learn from your creative abilities and vast knowledge of the classroom. I look forward to your weekly blogs. God has truly gifted you in away that touches others. Thanks for sharing your creative ideas with all of us!I can not wait to see what the next 33 years have in store for you and Walter. Blessings, my sweet friend.

Aw…you are too sweet Cynthia. I learned from you girl! After 33 years, it was time. I see you are blessed to spend your free time with twin babies. How absolutely wonderful that must be!!! Enjoy those babies. :)

Garden, Home and Party - May 29, 2015 - 4:27 pm

I was literally brought to tears by your description of the last week of school before “R”. After 33 years, it’s no wonder that you might be emotional. It sounds like you were loved and the celebrations were not only fun sounding, but delicious looking.
I know you’ll find a new adventure after a nice, well-deserved, rest and relaxation period. I’ll be excited to hear your ideas when you’re ready to share.
I didn’t mean to make you cry Karen! So sorry. I was hoping Taylor would lighten the mood at the end. :) We certainly know how to celebrate and EAT around here. I am hoping for adventures in blogging and time to actually read some blogs…I so miss that. I hope things are going well for you and your husband.
You are in my thoughts.

Ruth - May 29, 2015 - 4:39 pm

Having you as a teacher must’ve been like having some mash-up of Mary Poppins and Glinda the Good as a teacher! Your alternative career might’ve been in art direction for films or the theatre, or some field related to visual display. Given your sense of fun, and the joy you take in celebrations and magical places, however, I believe that, in teaching, you found the ideal vehicle for sharing and passing on your gifts in the world. They will be multiplied probably a thousand-fold via the students you have inspired over the years. That was a chunk of life well spent! Here’s hoping the next chunk of your life is thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding! We, your grown-up students, embrace it eagerly! :-) Congrats and best wishes!!!
Ha Ha!…more like Mr. Ratburn from Arthur! I would love a job in visual display, but I am slooooooow. Teaching was a good fit for me when it allowed more creativity, but it has changed so much that it sadly did not hold that same sense of fun that it once did. I hope the “cycle comes around again” soon. Thank you for your well wishes Ruth. I appreciate them so much!

judy - May 29, 2015 - 4:41 pm

Let me offer a big congratulations on your retirement….I can’t wait to see all the things you’ll do now that you aren’t working….well, at least not working a paying job!

When I was forced into retirement 3 years ago I was pretty much a fish out of water that first year….it was all so sudden and quite unexpected (not sure if you remember but I got back from vacation and my married bosses girlfriend had taken over my desk….of course that lasted all of 3 months and he came back begging me to come back to work….that would be a NO!)…anywhoo….my husband said not to worry, I was planning on retiring in another 18 months any way so just enjoy my early retirement. Now, I don’t know how I’d ever have time to work…which is what everyone says.

That was some send off your co-workers did for you and I know the parents hated to see you go too.

I pinned that tomato sandwich recipe to try this summer….it sounds delish!
I do remember all the stress of your early retirement. So not good! I have had quite a few months to think on retirement. Thanks for pinning the recipe. It is such an easy and good one! Thank you for the congratulations too, Judy. I am looking forward to having time to read blogs again soon. :)

Linda - May 29, 2015 - 4:41 pm

Love how you gave yourself time to transition. Enjoy this new part of your life.God Bless
Thank you Linda. I plan to enjoy it!

Ellen - May 29, 2015 - 5:17 pm

What a sweet post! Now it is time to turn the page. You are going to be great, whatever it is you do.
Gosh, thanks Ellen! It is definitely time to move on to chapter two. Thank you for your vote of confidence. :)

Marty@A Stroll Thru Life - May 29, 2015 - 5:17 pm

I so remember that I felt like a fish out of water when I retired. I got up every morning as usual, got dressed, had coffee and then found that since I had no where to go I had better clean house. I almost scrubbed holes in the walls. Life does level out and you will find tons of things to keep you busy and pretty soon you will be like me and wonder how you found time to work.

Congratulations on your retirement. 33 years is a super milestone and just look at all the lives you’ve helped shape. Wow, that is amazing.
I can see myself doing exactly what you did…scrubbing holes in the walls. (Although right now the house could use some scrubbing! LOL) I feel certain that blogging alone will keep my quite busy, and I am hoping to do some yard work…and the exterior of the house needs painting….yes, I will be busy! Thank you for the congratulations…33 years was long enough I think.

cindy hattersley - May 29, 2015 - 5:35 pm

First of all you are waaaaayyy too young to retire! I can only imagine how many requests there have been over the years to have you for a teacher. Seeing all that you do for your students has made me wish I could go back to school. I can only imagine how many young lives you have impacted. Congrats on your retirement. I have a feeling more big things are to come…
It does seem like being in your 50’s is too young to retire, but 33 years in one job is quite long. I am ready to change my focus and move on to something else….so I guess I am not totally retired, right? Education is a very rewarding field when you look at how many people you impact. I know I will miss the children.

Becky - May 29, 2015 - 5:40 pm

I know you have been a wonderful educator! I retired this time last year after 35 years as a university professor in education. It IS an adjustment. I do miss my students and being in the schools. But the days pass quickly by, and I have enjoyed this knew life. Good luck and best wishes! Becky in Soggy Oklahoma
Becky I can’t believe how much rain there has been in your area. The flooding is just awful. I hope it has not affected you. Thank you for your honest words about how retirement has been for you. I don’t think I will really feel like I am actually retired until July when school starts back here. I will keep your comment in mind then as I adjust to this new part of my life.

Carol Liebst - May 29, 2015 - 5:54 pm

Congrats on your retirement Kelly!, and I will add my thanks for you years of devotion to your students! I can only imagine the life you will create in your retirement – I am sure it will be an amazing time for you. All my best!
Thank you so much Carol. You don’t have to thank me for being devoted to students…It was my pleasure and such a rewarding experience!

Paula B. - May 29, 2015 - 6:33 pm

What a lovely “au revoir” to your many years of teaching. Your teacher spread looked amazing, food and tablescape! I remember that “last day of school lunch” only too well, and how the retiring teachers including myself were recognized. Where had the years gone that I was one of them??? Like so many here, I understand very well all that you must be going through. Yet, I think we are all eagerly awaiting going along with you as future endeavors/adventures present themselves. Wishing you all the best, enjoy!
Yes, where have all the years gone? They did just fly by. Maybe they will slow down some in retirement. :) Thank you for understanding the mixed emotions. I am sure with a little time it will all be pure joy!

JenniferinVA - May 29, 2015 - 6:37 pm

Super EXCITED for you!! Those kiddos were blessed to have such an inspiring and creative teacher. Well done, thy Good and Faithful Servant!!

Hugs to you, and Happy Retirement!!
Thank you so much Jennifer. I appreciate your sweet comments here. :)

Cindy - May 29, 2015 - 11:20 pm

Congratulations on your retirement! It looks like your fellow teachers gave you a wonderful sendoff. The luncheon you prepared was well thought out and looked delicious! I, too, retired after 30 years of teaching in 2003 and it was bittersweet. Now I teach part time as an adjunct professor at the community college so I still have one foot in the door.
You have a lot of interests so I’m certain you will love retirement. Now is your time to kick back, take it easy, and spend more time on you! Happy Retirement!
My teachers and our administrators gave us a wonderful catered lunch, and there were certainly plenty of sweets in what I took to school.
Yes, I do have many interests…just hope there is plenty of time for all of them! LOL

Patty in Michigan - May 30, 2015 - 6:29 am

I was doing okay til I saw the empty classroom! I’m sure this was very bittersweet. Congratulations on your retirement. Being a teacher is one of the most giving professions. Just knowing you through your blog I am sure you poured your heart out to so many students. Congrats!
It wasn’t real easy in person either Patty…definitely bittersweet. Thank you for your congratulations. It was a job that took over my life…which may be why teachers in a school are like family.
Hope you are having a great weekend.

Frances in England - May 30, 2015 - 6:29 am

Happy Retirement! I am rather jealous of all the freedom of choice you will have now – as Cindy says above you have a lot of interests so it is rather unlikely you will get bored! Possibly more of a problem to decide what to do first?! You are obviously very loved at your job – what a lovely send-off/start to the next phase :)
Thanks Frances! Yes, you can be jealous of all of my free time. I am sooo looking forward to sleeping late for a change!!

Linda Strickler - May 30, 2015 - 7:17 am

Congratulations!What a opportunity you have had for 33 years,to be able to impact your creativity on those lucky little children. Now as you enter the second chapter, how lucky us readers become, hopefully you will share all that creativity with us readers. Please keep inspiring us!
The blog is definitely going to be my second job now that I am finished with my first one. Thank you for reading and leaving your kind words here Linda.

Amanda Fricks - May 30, 2015 - 8:20 am

Congratulations on your retirement! I used my post planning days to make all the bulletin board patterns you sent me in the fall. I couldn’t agree with you more about speaking up about the state of our schools. After finishing my first year being back in the classroom after fourteen years, I am astounded and dismayed at the changes in curriculum and common core! I felt guilty most of the school year for what I was asked to teach my second graders (many of whom were special Ed. And ELL). So crazy what is expected of them and the crazy math that to me is developmentally not appropriate.
Enjoy your new phase! I look forward to seeing all the exciting things you will be doing. I’m sure your school and students will miss you. It is evident from your classroom pictures you cared deeply about teaching and were a passionate educator. Best wishes!
Yay! I am so glad you could use the patterns for next year. Gosh, I wish I could have sent you all I took off the walls in my room in the last couple of days. You certainly understand the problems in today’s education…especially the math. In our county practically everything is word problems from kindergarten on. I think we are doing them all an injustice not letting them master basic facts first. When I rule the world I will get that changed. LOL
Enjoy the rest of your weekend Amanda.

Debra - May 30, 2015 - 9:15 am

Awww…Kelly. :( Bitter Sweet, and understood! Your post even really hit my heart this morning, by the time I reached your picture of the empty classroom with all the “Cute Kelly” touches taken away. :( Love the movie, You’ve Got Mail. Good comparison Kelly. Oh, and look at you, upon your parting, still throwing a little “Kelly party” to those you are leaving. Love the chair they got you. How sweet. Happy retirement Kelly!
Wasn’t that chair just perfect for retirement?! I thought they were so smart with that gift. That scene from You’ve Got Mail just popped in my head when I was standing at the door for the last time. Thank you for your happy retirement wishes, Debra.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Kim @ Vintage Pretties - May 30, 2015 - 9:21 am

Happy Retirement! And THANK YOU for devoting so many years to the education of our children!! I’m with the other posters — that empty classroom photo got to me. It just shows how much you as a teacher added to the student’s experience. As an educator (middle school librarian), I know how different this career is from others — you get so emotionally involved. Let this summer be your transition time :)

On a lighter note, look at you, giving a party when you are the retiree! Such a sweetie. The set up was adorable. I’m excited to see all of your creativity in your retirement!
Thank you for your sweet words here Kim. Yes, you do get emotionally involved with your students…making goodbye extra hard. I am glad you liked all the party things. It certainly was yummy. :)
Enjoy the weekend!

Caro Ann - May 30, 2015 - 10:58 am

Great post. I am an educator too and I will be retiring next year. Thanks for sharing your last day of school with us. You mentioned the “R” word…..I think that now stands for RECESS….you get recess everyday ….all day long now! Enjoy! Thanks for being an inspiration in all that you do.
Love it! You are sooo right…recess all day long! What a great way to think of it. :)

Amy O'Quinn - May 30, 2015 - 11:37 am

Okay–tears! I haven’t been in the classroom for many years myself now, but this post made me very emotional. I loved the ‘party’ you created for your second family, and I’m sure they loved and appreciated it too. :) I know you made a huge difference to so many children over the years since teaching is a calling and a gift you used it to help shape and mold those young lives. I also realize your new ‘normal’ will be very different now. After 33 years, how can it not be? However, I can’t wait to read about and see the things you will be doing at TOTH now that you will not be teaching full-time. Since you’re a Disney fan, I think you’ll appreciate this quote:
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
~Walt Disney
Enjoy your new paths! And we’ll all enjoy hearing about the journey!
Thank you for all your sweet words here Amy, and thank you for Walt Disney’s words that are so fitting. Many of the students kept asking me why I was retiring. That was a hard one to answer to children. I do think I am ready for this change, and you are so right. It will be a very different normal from now on (although this week has been super busy!)
Happy Friday to you! :)

Benita - May 30, 2015 - 12:30 pm

I know this was a bittersweet time for you. You have wonderful friends and have left a wonderful impression on these children that will last their lifetime! Congratulations and I look forward to reading all about your new adventures! Have a great day!
It was definitely bittersweet Benita. I will miss the teachers and the children but not all the darn paperwork! There has got to be a way to stop all of it.
Hope you have a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Cindy - May 30, 2015 - 3:46 pm

Congratulations! When I retired 5 years ago they threw me a party and I said, I didn’t think it would be so hard. But you know what I got over it real quick. I have loved retirement and never looked back. Now it would help if you had some grandbabies. Heehee.
PS only you would throw a party for your coworkers when you retired!!! Beautiful, I might add.
No grandbabies any time soon here. (None of mine are married or even engaged!) I am glad to know you get over the sadness quickly. I’ve been so busy the last week, I haven’t even had time to think about it! :)
p.s. Glad you liked the party Cindy. :)

Lynn A. - May 30, 2015 - 8:22 pm

Congratulations on your retirement! I too find change hard. Wishing you all the best in this new adventure. (((HUGS)))
Thank you for the congrats AND the hugs too Lynn! It is a new adventure for sure.
Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

heidi sapa - May 30, 2015 - 10:40 pm

Kelly! I am also retiring this next week from 38 years of teaching music in an elementary school near Minneapolis! It will be exciting and fun and wonderful! Let’s not over-think it and just go for the gusto!! Good idea? Good idea! Best wishes from one hard-worker to another!
Congratulations on your retirement Heidi! 38 years….wow!! I know you will be missed. Best wishes to you too!

Lisa @ Shine Your Light - May 31, 2015 - 8:17 am

Kelly, congratulations on 33 years of teaching!! Wishing you lots of enjoyment in this new chapter of your life!!
Thank you Lisa! I believe there is much to enjoy in this chapter as well! :)

Brooks - May 31, 2015 - 4:07 pm

Congratulations on your retirement Kelly! I’m curious, where did you source those giant pencils? They’re wonderful!
Thank you Brooks! I made the giant pencils from the rolls inside of wrapping paper, covered them with yellow bulletin board paper, made the point out of a semi-circle of manilla tagboard, rolled a red strip of construction paper into the “eraser” part, capped that with a circle from the construction paper, and then put a thin strip of aluminum foil at the base of the “eraser” to look like the metal on a real pencil.
Glad you liked them! There were also a couple of very large ones in my classroom made from the rolls inside upholstery fabric.

Debbie w - May 31, 2015 - 9:12 pm

You will love retirement!! You have lots of interests that will keep you busy. I retired after 33 years of teaching also!
I think I will too Debbie…especially when I don’t have to go back to work in July and I can actually have a full summer! (And maybe even go to beach in!) Congrats on your 33 years of teaching too!

Shirley@Housepitality Designsi - May 31, 2015 - 11:02 pm

Kelly….I am sure you were counting down the days to retirement…however, it must have been so bittersweet for you….what a grand send off from those who truly appreciated you and those that will miss you….Happy Retirement Kelly!…I can remember the greatest part of being retired is sitting in front of the TV watching my favorite morning show and drinking coffee still in my PJ’s….
Thank you so much Shirley. It was much more bittersweet than I had thought it would be. I have had something to do every day since I have been off so the morning tv watching has not happened, but I am sure I will enjoy it when things slow down some here.
Enjoy your Friday!

Kathy - June 1, 2015 - 12:57 am

What a wonderful post! And, what memories it brought back! I read it three times and cried every time. I remember those last days of school, packing everything up and saying goodbye. Your empty classroom…that was tough…but so was the classroom all beautifully decorated because it looked like such a happy, safe, fun place for children. You had to have touched so many lives in such a positive way. The scene in “You’ve Got Mail” was so appropriate…and that song! Oh, my! How thoughtful of you to have a party for your co-workers! I know they are going to miss you…as will the parents and children. Everything looked perfect! Somethings you are going to enjoy (that only teachers will understand)…. going to the bathroom when you need to, eating when you want to, chewing slowly, going out to lunch, staying in your pjs as long as you want, watching a schoolbus go by and knowing that you don’t ever have to have bus duty again. I will warn you that in retirement, time speeds up. You are going to be so busy and I can’t wait to see what all you do. Congratulations, Kelly! Have fun!
Thank you Kathy! (But I am sorry it made you cry. :( ) Yes, I did have the opportunity to touch a lot of lives, but on the flip side, I have been touched by so many lives as well. :) You are so right about all the things I am going to be able to do now that I am not in the school setting…the freedom to go to the restroom and the luxury of a long lunch time will be at the top of my list!! How in the world does time speed up?? I was so hoping it would sloooow down.
Let the fun begin!

Colleen - June 1, 2015 - 6:28 pm

“The Best is Yet to be”…
I sure hope you are right Colleen! :)

K in MO - June 1, 2015 - 9:22 pm

I just stumbled upon your blog and I had to write. That “R-Word” really hits home as I just retired from my classroom days ago. I spent 30 happy years educating first graders and it was a blessing! It’s an emotional time, isn’t it? Our precious memories will always be with us. Enjoy your new chapter in life!
Congratulations on your retirement! Yes, it certainly is an emotional time. And kudos to you for teaching first grade! I have always said that is the most challenging grade to teach because they are still babies, not independent, and you don’t have a parapro to help you in the classroom as they did in kindergarten. I hope your second chapter is filled with fun and new experiences!

Cindy - June 2, 2015 - 3:10 pm

Have a long, healthy and wonderful retirement!
Thank you so much Cindy!

Leslie Anne @ Fairhope Supply Co. - June 2, 2015 - 11:11 pm

I’m just now getting to read this post and . . . gasp! It’s a tear- jerker for sure! I never got to finish my teaching career because I quit to have children and moved and . . . and . . . it just never worked out. I’m sad about that, but deeply appreciative and understanding of those who took it all the way to the finish line.

I’m so thrilled to know you were the “outspoken” one. That was always my title, and one I carried over to being a parent in the school system. There are so many things that need to be changed, but people and schools get in ruts because they’ve “always done it that way.” What a shame. I’m sure you will always be remembered by your students and fellow teachers.

And now, on to new adventures!
I think your career took you into a much more creative area Leslie Anne – not that teaching is not rewarding, but if you are creative it can sometimes be frustrating to be in a more restrictive environment.
Yes, I was the outspoken one…both verbally and in writing. At my retirement luncheon I could only get out 2 sentences because I was too choked up. Our assistant principal piped up with, “That’s the least she has ever said!” :) I am glad you were vocal as a parent. You are right about things needing to be changed, and they certainly don’t get changed unless someone speaks up about them. Good for you girl!

Katrina - June 3, 2015 - 8:57 am

So thoughtful of you to prepare such a nice spread for your teacher friends. Teacher friends are the best ever. When you count the hours you spend as much time with them as your family. Bittersweet to watch that last bus pull out.
Your future has endless possibilities.
They are like family, and I have probably spent more waking time with them than my family from August through May. (sad huh?) It was definitely bittersweet to watch that last bus. I was sitting alone on the steps and our newly hired teacher (who will start work next year) came up and said, “You doing okay?” (She was really concerned.) I just shook my head because I did not want to cry.
I hope you are right about the endless possibilities…or at least a few new possibilities. :) My retirement check is going to need some help!

Sarah - June 3, 2015 - 10:31 am

Kelly – Congratulations on your retirement. I am sure there are a lot of emotions going on for you – both happy and sad. I am sure that you were a wonderful teacher and will definitely be missed. Selfishly I am happy though….because I have become such a fan of your blog and you that I am hoping this means more time for “us”. :-> Good luck with everything! Sarah
Thank you Sarah. Yes, I hope to get more done with the blog now that school is no longer occupying my time. I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog!

Ocean House in Rhode Island

Ocean House exteriorHappy Friday!  Are you looking forward to this holiday weekend? Perhaps you are making a trip to the beach. As much as I would like to, I’m afraid we are not traveling anywhere close to salt water this weekend.  But I do have a gorgeous hotel to share with you today.  Then at least we can take a virtual trip there.:)

Ocean House beachside exterior

This is the Ocean House Hotel in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.  Doesn’t it look like one of those grand hotels from the turn of the century?  In a way it is, and in a way it isn’t.  (You’re totally confused now, right??)  Well, it was a grand hotel at one time.  It opened in 1868, and it had 159 guest rooms.  People traveled from all over to stay at this beautiful place overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean House living roomBut then somehow, over the 135 years that it was in operation, it became run down…too much to keep up, and the old beauty was closed in 2003.  Obviously, that was not the end of her story though.  Happily, in 2004 a plan was designed to totally recreate her.  Over a 5 year period, they took Ocean House apart and reused those old parts in a brand new building.  Even the rocks in the fireplace above were removed, numbered, and rebuilt into the one that you see in the hotel’s living room today. And would you believe the 247 windows from the former hotel are now in their original location in the new Ocean House?  (That was amazing to me.)

Ocean House hotelThe hotel has won several very prestigious awards over the years…Travel and Leisure’s #1 Top Resort in the U.S. last year and #5 in the world. Forbes ranked it among the top 10 beach resorts in the world.  The hotel has many amenities, including a spa and a number of restaurants.  I believe the one above is called The Bistro.

Wouldn’t you love to be dining at the table there by the window below?!

Ocean House restaurantThey continue the old hotel tradition of cabanas on the beach.

Ocean House beach cabanasThe suites in Ocean House are fabulous.
This is the Morgan Suite.

Morgan Suite living area

Ocean House stairway

Morgan Suite bath

Yes this is a suite.  Note the bunkbeds built in the wall there, and you can see a small view into the bedroom on the back wall.

Ocean House suite

Here is another one.

Ocean House accommodationBesides the rooms in the hotel itself, Ocean House offers villas and five “cottages” for rent as well.  (Some of these “cottages” are quite large with 6 bedrooms.) This is the 5 bedroom Salt Spray Farm.

Salt Spray Farm exterior

Salt Spray Farm interiorAnd this is Echo Lodge with 6 bedrooms for you and all your extended family.:)

Echo Lodge exterior

Echo Lodge living room

Echo Lodge bedroomThis bedroom is from the charming Old School Cottage.
(It is more my size with only 2 bedrooms.:))

Cottage bedroom

If you really want to go all out luxurious, you should stay in their 7 bedroom Windvale Cottage, complete with its own pool and poolhouse.  This “cottage” was built at the turn of the century and has been wonderfully restored.

Windvale exteriorsource

Love that clawfoot tub in the bathroom.:)

Windvale Cottage bathBeautiful living room.

Windvale Cottage living roomBut as lovely as all those cottages are, I still think the best place to be is back at Ocean House…

Ocean House hotel exterior

sitting on their porch, overlooking the Atlantic, and listening to the waves.

Ocean House porch


Today is my last last day of being a teacher.  I have found myself with tears in my eyes several times this week, so I know today will be bittersweet.  I just have to keep reminding myself how wonderful retirement is going to be.  (Thank you to those of you who keep reminding me of it in your comments.:))

Here’s to a great start to everyone’s Memorial Day weekend!
May we all find someplace special to relax and rejuvenate as the summer season begins.

Until next time…
a signature

(All images (unless otherwise noted) are from the Ocean House website.)

Peggy Bryant - May 22, 2015 - 7:24 am

Congratulations on your retirement. As one door closes another one will open. I know with your amazing talent you will put your energy elsewhere. Have a wonderful holiday. Peggy

yarlette - May 22, 2015 - 7:35 am

The hotel is just beautiful. It would be a real treat to stay there. You find the best places. Congratulations on your retirement. I am sure it is bittersweet and that you will miss everyone but just think of the fun you will have. We love being retired. We stay so busy doing the things we enjoy. Not having to worry about schedules. Life is good and make the most of this phase of your life.

Paula from Holland - May 22, 2015 - 7:37 am

Dear Kelly, congrats on your retirement! And good luck with your new life. Ofcourse it is difficult to leave but there will be new adventures, just waiting for you around the corner ;-)) Paula

Emily - May 22, 2015 - 7:54 am

Kelly, have a wonderful last day at being a teacher at the school I know you will miss it and they will certainly miss you. Realize that you are just “changing your hat”. Thank you for sharing yourself and home through your blog. I have learned so much.

I wish you the very best!

Cheri - May 22, 2015 - 7:59 am

What a wonderful place Kelly. I am ready to pack my bags but unfortunately we are remodeling a bathroom and so a vacation is on hold. I love how you describe even the smallest of things that I would never have seen if not for you. Love those stairs in the first suite, they did a FANTASTIC job restoring this place.

Leslie Anne @ Fairhope Supply Co. - May 22, 2015 - 8:10 am

First of all, congratulations on your retirement. Even though I only taught school for a few years, it was hard when I stopped, and I cried the next year when I heard the school busses picking up the children. You’ve had a great career and I’m sure you’ve touched the lives of so many children in a fabulous and positive way. And now, on to new adventures!

As for this wonderful resort, I don’t even know where to begin! What an enormous thing of perfection! I have a friend who has been restoring old windows for a historic home in Georgia, and each one is a major job. Over 200 windows? WOW.

Angela - May 22, 2015 - 8:14 am

Congratulations Kelly, have a wonderful last day. Thanks for these pictures, what a beautiful place.

Louvina - May 22, 2015 - 9:04 am

Just gorgeous! I love each picture more than the one before!! Will go back and study each one on my iPad. Thinking of you on this the last day with your students! So excited for you–great adventures ahead!! I’m at ocean condo and have spied a little yellow and green bungalow 3 doors down that just came up for sale! SO– I’m calling about it!! :) cross your fingers !

Kim - May 22, 2015 - 9:21 am

Oh,my I would not want to ever leave this place. Just gorgeous. Congrats on the retirement and yes, I’m sure there will be tears today. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

lynne@lynnesgiftsfromtheheart - May 22, 2015 - 9:23 am

Happy Retirement. fondly ~lynne~

Kim - May 22, 2015 - 9:29 am

Well, my visit will just be virtual. I checked their site to see if we could swing it in September, but seeing how the cheapest room is over $1200 a night that won’t be happening. Poo

Kaye Ann - May 22, 2015 - 9:55 am

Happy retirement……
Hoping for retirement next year.

Love the Ocean House!

Susan - May 22, 2015 - 10:33 am

You will enjoy your retirement. Having been a teacher myself, I know that you have earned this! If you find yourself missing the classroom, you can always go back and sub. Several of my friends do this and really enjoy it.

Sandra - May 22, 2015 - 10:38 am

Last day of school, first day of the rest of your life.
Hey! You can always sub!!!

Barbara H - May 22, 2015 - 12:25 pm

What a happy, bittersweet time for you, but congratulations. A big thank you on behalf of all the parents and children whose lives you touched. I am fortunate to live just 4 miles from the Ocean House in one of the most beautiful, unsung parts of the country. We are right on the Connecticut/Rhode Island border. Beautiful Mystic Seaport is ten miles in the other direction. In addition to Ocean House being the wonderful resort that it is, the owners have made the commitment to stay an important part of the community. Many local charities benefit from their support. I don’t have any affiliation with the hotel at all, other than to enjoy dining there occasionally and dreaming of a chance to stay there. By the way, Taylor Swift’s summer home is four doors down from the hotel, high on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic. I wish all of your readers could come here and enjoy the beautiful Rhode Island shore…it’s heaven.

Dawn - May 22, 2015 - 12:57 pm


This looks like a lovely place to vacation. I love the beach and vacation has to include water for me. I love the “cottage” with the pool behind it but I would want to see the ocean. I wish you all the best in your retirement. I know you will fill it up with wonderful things for us to see, enjoy and cook! I understand the bittersweet moments you are experiencing this week…we had three teachers retire this week too. There comes a time to move on and only each of us knows when that is for us. I am sure that you know yourself well enough to make the correct choice for you. We are here watching and waiting to see what you do next. We know your retirement from teaching is just the beginning of what you will do next! Congratulations!

Nan, Odessa, DE - May 22, 2015 - 1:13 pm

Bittersweet, yes. But a new season in your life.
Be open and enjoy it! You have earned this time.
Besides NO ONE ever stops teaching and learning.
Have a safe holiday and do make a memory!

kathy - May 22, 2015 - 1:57 pm

My favorite photo is the last one. I want to sit on that porch! How fitting that you would do a post on Rhode Island today. Katrina, Josie, and their husbands flew up there just yesterday!(Have fun, gfs!) And, my son’s girlfriend went for her first ever teaching job interview today. (She just graduated from Ole Miss.) And, it is YOUR last day at school! Congratulations!!! Kelly, you are going to miss teaching but you have so, so many talents and I am excited that you will most likely be blogging even more! Enjoy your summer and not ever having to go back!

Sandy - May 22, 2015 - 3:23 pm

Ok, I just wiped the tears from my eyes reading that it was your last day of teaching. Boy, that sure brought on an emotion and I don’t know where it came from. The 31st marks my third anniversary of my last day as a teacher. Luckily, I’m surrounded by my grandchildren who constantly ask questions and have introduced me to amazing games such as Mindcraft.
Congratulations, a new path in your life is ahead of you. Enjoy each step.

Mimi - May 22, 2015 - 3:34 pm

Congratulations on your retirement, Kelly! An exciting new chapter begins tomorrow… :-)

Garden, Home and Party - May 22, 2015 - 4:01 pm

Congratulations on your retirement, but I believe, with your talent, this is only the beginning of a new chapter. You will always be a teacher, as is evidenced by your educational posts…just not in a formal classroom setting.
This is one of the best places you’ve shared. I’m certain it’s out of my price range, that is the beauty of your virtual tours. I can appreciate the wonder of such a hotel without going into debt to experience it! :-)
Enjoy your weekend.

Sandy - May 22, 2015 - 4:40 pm

I retired last year after 31 years in the classroom. Letting go is definitely a process. I felt out of place for awhile, but I must say I am loving it now. Just takes time to get in a new routine.

Becky in 'Bama - May 22, 2015 - 5:36 pm

Jealous on two levels: that I will never get to go to that hotel..too much cha-ching for my budget, but thanks for the virtual tour. Heavenly. Second level of jealousy: you’re retiring! I’m sure your principal is as teary-eyed as you. Reading between the lines of your posts and seeing your creativity I’d say that your school is going to miss you!! Congratulations and enjoy your new freedom. Unfortunately (although I am FORTUNATELY employed) I’ll not see retirement until age 68 – but don’t want to rush my life away. Keep up the great blog; it’s a real treat to the eyes and a unique way for some of us to see the world (in pictures). Happy summer!

Vicki - May 22, 2015 - 5:46 pm

If you think you are emotional about retiring then I hate to know what your administration is feeling! If you need something to fill all that free time just let me know…. I have 5 more years until I retire (late starter) and my to do list has plenty on it for the both of us! Congrats!

Anne from Atlanta - May 22, 2015 - 6:13 pm

Best wishes for your retirement! I know it will be wonderful to have the time to do the things you want to do! You can be proud of all you accomplished as a teacher and now go on to do many more things. I hope this wonderful blog will be a part of your retirement for many years to come. Thanks for another great post! xoxo, Anne

Marianne in Mo. - May 22, 2015 - 6:24 pm

Best wishes on your retirement! I know you will enjoy your leisure time, and remember, if you get bored, I’m sure you can volunteer!

This post is lovely. That view – awesome! But I’m more the Tybee Cottage type.
Have you ever seen Mystic Conn.? A darling sea town. We visited there many years ago, and saw the restaurant where the movie Mystic Pizza was filmed. I could easily live there!
Happy Memorial day! We will be planting a shrub bed for my brother in law’s birthday gift this weekend!

Ellen - May 22, 2015 - 7:26 pm

Cheers to your fantastic retirement! Loved seeing this grand hotel, and it looks like just the place to unwind.

Peggy - May 23, 2015 - 1:07 am

I have no doubt the end of the day was a rough one. You will be missed, but I am sure you have made some very dear forever friends too. Somehow I think you won’t be idle very long for this next part of your journey and I am very excited to see what it will bring for you. Best wishes for the summer and the next step!

KellyinPA - May 23, 2015 - 7:05 am

Congratulations on a job well done! I am positive the parents and children at your school will miss having such a wonderful teacher. You are beginning a new season, excited to see what path you take. Blessings on your day!!

Debra - May 23, 2015 - 8:13 am

Wow, what a grand stay that would be. Just Gorgeous! Best wishes to you again on your retirement. I have no doubt you will find many things to keep you busy, content and at a self appointed pace you will come to enjoy. Have a great holiday weekend Kelly!

Linda - May 23, 2015 - 8:26 am

Lovely place! Wishing you god’s best for the future.

Paula B. - May 23, 2015 - 9:59 am

Happy, happy retirement! I know that you will not be still for very long and that many exciting adventures await you as you start this next chapter in your life. Finding and enjoying your blog has been so much fun for me that I want to say thank you so much for starting it. I know this time is bittersweet because teaching is not just employment in a job, it is a calling that challenges every aspect of oneself as you give your best so that others will learn not only the school subjects but the important life lessons! Enjoy the summer and the time that is now your own, and keep us posted on what lies ahead for you. All the best, Kelly! And, a post on the Ocean House located right here in my home state, oh my! Might I just add that this resort is even more breathtaking in person. The décor set against the backdrop of a secluded stretch of the Atlantic, is simply breathtaking. Oh, and the ladies rooms are so beautifully appointed that a visit is definitely suggested. Oh, and the food: amazing. The Sunday champagne brunch offers not only a choice of entrees but access to numerous stations including an expansive raw bar, charcuterie table, and an array of breakfast pastries as well as numerous desserts. (To mane only some of the options.) The champagne is unlimited so bring a designated driver. And, save time to walk the main street of this venerable and historic town, it is charming, contains a turn of the century carousel, some lovey shoppes, and a great place for homemade ice cream. Watch Hill is truly a hidden gem of the Ocean State!

Donnamae - May 24, 2015 - 5:39 pm

This has got to be a bittersweet time for you…but…congratulations…you made it! And, thanks for the tour…beautiful place…have you booked your reservation? Hope you are enjoying your weekend…it is raining here…but flowers are planted! 😉

Lisa - May 25, 2015 - 9:13 am

Congratulations on your retirement, Kelly! I understamnd completely your mixed feelings, but how wonderful that now you will have more time to pursue your hobbies! I’m semi-retired at 50 because of arthritis in my hands, and am totally enjoying myself!

This hotel is completely amazingly! The amount of detail that went in to recreating a new hotel is so impressive. We have been to the Rhode Island coast many times and it is truly unique–breathtakingly beautiful and charming, but definitely exclusive.

Have a wonderful day. I’m sure you will be missed by your students! And as another commenter mentioned, substituting is an option. I did that for a while, and it is nice to choose your own schedule. :)

Joan - May 25, 2015 - 10:15 pm

This was lovely. The original hotel reminded me of the movie, “Somewhere in Time”. And the first fireplace stones reminded me of my grandmother’s lake home in Michigan. Such lovely tours you give us.
You must have many mixed feelings about no longer teaching. But you must have made that decision for a reason and you will use your many talents to bless lots of people, just like you do now.
So many of us are enriched by the words and photos you share. Many times over this past year or so as many difficult things needed to be taken care of I would open your posts and they would transport me to places far away. Places of beauty, and culture, and peace, and loveliness. And afterwards I would be refreshed to deal with the next challenges in my days. So see, you never know how you are touching people out here in blogland. Most all of those issues and illnesses in the lives of people that needed my time and energy and abilities have been dealt with. For that I am most grateful, but your regular posts played their part in blessing me and reminding me that a beautiful world still was ‘out there’ as I walked through that time. So thank you, dear Kelly, smile through your tears….you have been a blessing to many.
Joan, it has taken me awhile to get through my back-up of emails from the last couple of weeks, but I wanted to thank you so much for your very kind and uplifting comment here. You are right. We never know how many people we are touching in our life in what we do. I am so thankful (and blessed!) that whatever it is that I do here was helpful and a blessing for you – especially in what must have been a stressful and difficult time. I hope that all that stress has been resolved for good and that you can simply enjoy the posts here without having to go back and deal with issues. We are all just pebbles tossed in the water and our ripple effects just go on and on. I hope you have a fabulous Friday AND a wonderful weekend! :)
Take care!

Katrina - June 3, 2015 - 9:10 am

We drank Bellinis at Ocean house while gazing at Taylor Swift’s home which is two mansions away. We ate lunch at Castle Hill Inn after sitting in their white addirondack chairs and watching the sailboats. While both are breathtakingly beautiful, we liked Castle Hill Inn better….. The atmosphere just seemed more low key and friendly there.
By the way, how fast ’til you paint the addirondack gift chair red? When my husband retried his office gave him the LL Bean red one with a brass tag attached with his name and “after 33 years this old Fart deserves a rest”. I kinda doubt yours says that… Heehee.
Great post…. You gotta’ go to Rhode Island. It is the prettiest state I have ever been in.
I do believe you are trying to make me jealous…and you are succeeding! Thank you for your input on the two resorts. When we travel to New England late this summer, I know our time will be limited. What a hilarious thing to put on the back of the chair. Mine says something that could be funny too. Our school mascot is a cougar, so it says I will “always be a cougar!” :) I haven’t decided what color to paint it yet, but red has been in my head for it awhile now.

A Graduation Weekend

graduation party centerpieceWhat a fun weekend we’ve had here!  I mentioned to you on Saturday that we were so happy that our Disney daughter had made it home from her internship at Walt Disney World.  She arrived just in time for her boyfriend’s college graduation.


 So we spent Saturday afternoon watching a graduation ceremony.

graduation in the arena

After 3 hours of waiting, his name was called, and he received his diploma.:)


Later that night, the graduate and almost all of his family came over for dessert and coffee. My mother made a pound cake for us, and we enjoyed it with fresh peaches, strawberries, blackberries and whipped cream.  My mother-in-law baked Swedish gingerbread for us, (recipe here) and I prepared apples and Heath Brickle dip (recipe here.) You can’t see it in the photo because it’s behind the chalkboard. (And yes, I know.  I also made it a couple of weeks ago, but it is sooo good.:))

graduation dessert party table(Sorry for the weird lighting.  I hate taking photos at night!)

We had a little more than coffee to drink.:)

graduation dessert party drinksThe graduate’s family returned home, and he returned to the college to pack up, but the next morning he was back at our house…this time for a graduation lunch.  (I did not even think of the dessert party until Saturday morning, but I had been planning this lunch for awhile.)  We really had to sneak around to get everything set up upstairs without our daughter or her boyfriend knowing we were doing it.  (I wanted it to be a surprise.)  I had even set the table in our dining area by the kitchen as if we were eating in there to throw them off.:)

graduation lunchWe had our traditional grilled steaks, baked potatoes, fresh bread, our daughter’s favorite salad – the romaine and ramen one, (recipe here) and leftover shortcake for dessert.  My husband grilled the steaks.  I baked the potatoes and bread, and our daughter and her boyfriend prepared the salad.  I was able to sneak the potatoes upstairs in a thermal insulated bag, and my husband managed to get the steaks (wrapped in aluminum foil) up there too without anyone seeing him.  So when they finished making the salad, our daughter started to carry it to the table and asked, “Where’s all the food??”  That’s when we told them to go upstairs.  It was a fun surprise.:)

graduation party decorI can’t seem to break away from using school decor for graduation parties.  It just seems to work so well. (But I will have to come up with something different for our daughter’s graduation next year…I think I’ve used the theme enough.:))

graduation lunch table

The school’s colors are black and orange- so that was my color scheme.  I changed out the pillow covers to orange ones, and our black and white drapes worked well with all the black and orange balloons. (Our middle son was home for the weekend, and thank goodness he was able to make a secret run for a new helium tank!)

graduation lunch balloonsWe had a great time and were all totally stuffed when we finished.  I am going to really have to think hard to come up with an idea for our daughter’s graduation party.

chalkboardAt least I have a year to plan for it.:)

Thank you again for stopping in for a visit here.  Fingers crossed, I will have some pretty houses for you to see this week…our last crazy week of school!

Until next time…

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Sheena - May 17, 2015 - 10:50 pm

Hi Kelly,
All these recipes look delicious! I’m hoping to make the Brickle dip for Memorial Day. Can you tell me how many ounces of pineapple juice go into this? Thank you!

Louvina - May 17, 2015 - 11:07 pm

What a great finale to a fabulous fun weekend! Mercy, Wonder Woman! How do you do ALL you do?! LOVE has a lot to do with it, right!! PS what a cute couple!! Enjoyed seeing it and yea for orange and black– my school colors back in Ky! :)

Ruth - May 17, 2015 - 11:11 pm

What a gorgeous young couple! Oh, to be young and attractive, with your whole life ahead of you, a supportive family behind you, and so much to celebrate!

Decorations and menu looked great — I don’t think anyone would be disappointed with a rerun of that a year from now… or a WEEK from now, for YOUR “graduation”!

Are those Coke “grad” bottles the real thing (sorry, I truly did not notice that pun until it was on the page), or did you make those labels? Haven’t seen those here, but what a fabulous idea!

Ellen Martin - May 17, 2015 - 11:31 pm

Two wonderful, colorful celebrations for your cute daughter’s handsome boyfriend’s graduation! I agree…….how do you manage your blog, while having such fun, well done parties and teaching school? You’re amazing and we, your readers, are the beneficiaries of your hard work. Thanks for the glimpse into your family’s special occasion celebration.

Donnamae - May 18, 2015 - 12:00 am

Oh…what fun…a surprise party! Great decorations! What a fun year you’re going to have planning your daughters party! 😉

Kathy - May 18, 2015 - 12:55 am

Oh, wow! How fun! And, how sweet of you to have a graduation party for your daughter’s bf. What a beautiful couple! (Have they dated a long time?) We went to my son’s precious gf’s graduation party last night and it was so much fun…wonderful friends, decorations and food. (She graduated from Ole Miss.) Kelly, you are really a Wonder Woman. I can’t believe you are doing all of this with the end of school. I am sure Louvina is right, love has a lot to do with it. I have been away and am just catching up on several of your posts. Are you doing an end of your teaching career post? You are not going to believe how much you love retirement.

Frances in England - May 18, 2015 - 5:46 am

So sweet! Congratulations Sean, and also Kelly for what sounds like a wonderful surprise. I too cannot see anyone objecting to a theme ‘re-run’, but on the other hand I look forward to seeing what you come up with!!

Cindy - May 18, 2015 - 7:10 am

Such a great job! I love your theme parties.
Enjoy your last week of school!!! It will really hit you next school year when the buses start rolling out and you don’t have to.
Congrats to you and Sean, Cindy
PS I know you are glad to have you daughter home.

Kris {Driven by Decor} - May 18, 2015 - 8:39 am

Congratulations – looks like so much fun! Can I tell you how much I love your party table decor – the stack of ribbon bound books and globe are perfect!

Katrina - May 18, 2015 - 8:56 am

I agree with Kathy and Louvina…… You are a Wonder Woman! Congrats to your daughter’s bf! Your food looks delish as always!
We had a big high school graduation weekend in Memphis for my nephew. His mom also had the dessert party idea! In addition to graduation, they were also celebrating the first year of a brand new school system! Since my brother in law is on the school board my sister in law had a huge champagne/ dessert celebration party! The graduates all got ginger ale.. Ha ha! She made all the luscious desserts except for the main cake which came from her favorite bakery, Oh My Ganache. Don’t you love that name. It had pics of cute children painted all around the side and the symbol of their school system painted on the top.
Thank goodness for big celebrations with the ones we love….. Makes life so special!

Garden, Home and Party - May 18, 2015 - 9:10 am

What a cute theme for a graduate. I love the black globe and the black and orange spots of color. Your daughter and her boyfriend are so cute.

How exciting to have a year to plan your daughter’s graduation celebration, I can’t wait. You always surprise and delight!

Vicki {If It Were Mine} - May 18, 2015 - 11:37 am

Love all those little touches and how you make it look so effortless. You have a good eye that keeps your themes from being too themey- just pulled together and always so charming!
Enjoy this week!

Gina - May 18, 2015 - 1:09 pm

What a wonderful weekend! I think you could go into event/party planning. 😉 :) You have a gift. I’m sure you enjoy it too. Your daughter is so lovely. Enjoy your summer with her. :)

Dawn - May 18, 2015 - 2:43 pm

I love how you can change out a few accessories and easily customize your colors to match the celebration! I also can’t wait to try the Heath brickle dip! Yummy!

Tricia - May 18, 2015 - 7:01 pm

Kelly, what a delight to read your posts. Thank you for including us in your wonderful family celebrations!

Barbara P from Ma - May 18, 2015 - 9:02 pm

Sounds like a busy but wonderful weekend! As usual, your decorations and food look perfectly fabulous! Definitely want to try some of those recipes!

Cindy - May 19, 2015 - 1:37 pm

What a wonderful surprise graduation party! Your daughter and her boyfriend are adorable.
I have been reading your blog from the beginning. I love your decorating and party ideas. I don’t know how you do all that you do and teach school. I taught school for thirty years and retired from teaching twelve years ago. I have a part-time job as an adjunct professor at a community college. You will love retirement!

christi in ma - May 19, 2015 - 2:15 pm

looks like a great party, Kelly! The school colors is a perfect theme/decorating motif.

I clicked through to your salad recipe and saw you made Ina’s blondies with fall mix M&Ms. They’ll be perfect with red, white and blue M&Ms for our Relay for Life team, the Stars & Stripes.

Design Chic - May 20, 2015 - 8:42 am

What an adorable couple and know you are thrilled to have your daughter home and that Sean is excited to have reached this milestone in his life! The party looks amazing as always. Just the right touches!

Debra - May 20, 2015 - 12:44 pm

Your daughter and boyfriend are too cute! How sweet of you to have a celebration or him. Always some kind of doings with Kelly and her gang! You should just about be approaching your retirement. Can’t wait to read of your farewell. The leaving of so many years of such hard work and devotion, to a new life full of new adventures…. :) P. S. Just asking too, how many oz. on the pineapple juice for your Heath brickle dip recipe. Will have to try it. Can’t believe Memorial Day is almost here.

phyllis - May 20, 2015 - 9:30 pm

Both of them have adorable faces!

Shirley@Housepitality Designsi - May 21, 2015 - 9:55 am

Congrats to Sean and glad that there was a great surprise in that wonderful room so beautifully decorated for the occasion. Loved the dessert table you served the night before too!…I am sure you are counting down the days for retirement!

Caroline Mudd - May 21, 2015 - 6:37 pm

I love all of the care you put into everything you do! I really enjoy your blog!!

Dawn - May 21, 2015 - 9:44 pm


You win Mom of the year in my book! Wow! What great parties and surprises! Could you do a Disney themed Party for your daughter next year? Kind of like the Mickey mouse one you did recently just expanded a bit or more girlie? Thanks for sharing! Take care.

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