Monday, September 29, 2014

No, but really...

I'm still working on The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. 

 The final in the Heroes of Olympus series was just released and I'll be purchasing myself a copy from our Scholastic Book Order or our school's book fair.

However, I just wanted to take a moment to share the dedication page of this novel:

Yup. Rick Riordan has solidified his place in my top five favorite authors with this dedication (which quite frankly, may be my all time favorite).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Year

While it's a few days late, I was inspired to be reflective with the blogtember task of how I've changed in the past year.

Change is good. Change is sad. Change means leaving things behind. (paraphrased quote from Lowry's Gossamer.

A year ago...

I was living in an apartment. It was a cute set up and by far my favorite of the several I've lived in post college.  It was close to the freeway and major shopping areas. I had fairly nice neighbors and maintenance was always friendly.  

I was teaching fifth grade and loving my grade level.  But the issues were starting, which would only get worse in the coming eight months.  I was starting to think about moving schools in September.

I was eager to see Wicked with my best friend when she came to visit.

I was stressed beyond belief with work. 

I was just starting my store on TpT.

I was surrounded by friends getting engaged, married, or pregnant.


I have my first home which I'm loving.  It's very close to work, which saves easily a hundred dollars a month on gas.  Hooray for that!

I am still teaching fifth grade and adore my new grade level.  There are some learning curves but nothing is making me want to leave.  In fact, I don't ever want to move my classroom library again! 

I'm eager to see Wicked with B. This will be his second musical (the first being The Book of Mormon).

Now I'm managing my stress. I'm working hard at work, but also taking time to enjoy my weekends.  I'm savoring my time off and treating myself to rewards. I'm making time for me as a person, not just me as a teacher. 

I'm continuing to build my TpT store. But I'm also pleased to announce I am a Jamberry consultant! As part of my treat myself, I'm going to have pretty nails. All the time!

I applied these a week ago.  168 hours of teaching, cleaning, cooking, and well, life later...they look the same! I love them.  I'll be hosting my first party in November but you're welcome to shop now.  Our special is buy 3, get 1 free!  So for the cost of a mani/pedi at a salon, you get 4 sheets of your choice.  Jams last 2 weeks on your fingers and up to 4 weeks on your toes!

I can't wait for my new ones to get here:

(You can shop here!)

And...I'm still surrounded by friends getting engaged, married, or pregnant.

Sometimes things change.  Sometimes they don't.  It's crazy what a difference a year can make. I do know that I'm much happier now and that's what matters.

Flash Sale

Spread the word!

Highs and Lows

With September's Blogtember challenge nearing its end, I'm a little bummed. I liked having these daily reflective tasks.  I did about half of them, which is admirable considering my work schedule, the shared laptop, and that this was my first time participating.

For those who are visiting from Brave Love, hello! Hopefully you'll pop back over once in a while after this challenge ends.

Today's prompt: What are your highs and lows for the month?


1) My new school is amazing.  I feel supported. I feel like I have the freedom to make instructional decisions that benefit my students. I don't feel like every choice I make is questioned.  Everyone is super supportive. 

2) My students are excited to be in school and eager to learn.  They want to read.  They ask questions.  There are a few hallway chats each day about being on task and being nice, but it's nothing major.  It's such a refreshing change.

3) My new grade level is so welcoming.  I'm able to be honest with them about the things I'm unsure of (procedures, RTI expectations) and not feel judged.  They're willing to help and allow me to contribute (without expecting me to do more than my fair share).  Plus they're really awesome ladies and since no one plans on leaving, I think I've found a new group of friends.

4) My morning routine is so much more relaxed. I have time to eat breakfast at home, not at the copier.  I have time to blog, check emails, and relax in the morning. I have time to do stretches and a few household chores before leaving for work. I bought fruit and yogurt, so I'm going to start making smoothies in the morning.  Last year, I'd get up at 5, be out the door by 5:30, be at work at 6, and have until 7:10 to get work done before meetings started.  Now I wake up around five, leisurely take my time getting around, leave at 6:50 and am at my computer by 7:10.  The shorter drive gives me an hour of my life back each day. 

5) Our class weebly is getting a lot of positive attention and responses.  This year, my new school purchased weebly accounts for everyone. It's a classroom blog where I share information about our classroom with students and parents. I've given them homework to do online and put up polls and pictures.  I've gotten parent responses on it as well.  It's just nice to have a positive, open line of communication with my students and their families.

6) I tried Jamberry nails and I'm hooked! A week later (and a week of teaching and cleaning no less!, there are no chips.) I ordered my first set, am going to host a Jamberry/31 bags party in November (with an online component where you can order) and going to be a consultant. I've decided that having my nails look nice makes me happy and Jamberry is an inexpensive way to do that.  It may seem shallow, but having pretty nails makes me feel put together and on top of things, which is a message I want to convey to others.

7) I also tried doterra oils and love those as well.  I have occasional migraines and frequent joint pain from years of sports and I like how the oils helped with those. I'm excited to try a natural remedy to common ailments. 

8) I felt appreciated by those closest to me.  My birthday was at the end of August and for several reasons, I didn't really do anything special.  However, a few close friends made the effort to make me feel special on my birthday.

1) I didn't see my friends as much as I'd like. We all have busy schedules and our own lives, it's just a rough adjustment going from seeing them daily to seeing them monthly. I need to get better at calling and texting them. It's also becoming apparent who will remain a friend now that we are in separate schools and which friendships are fading.  That's life. It's just a sad situation when friendships dissolve because everyone is too busy.

2) I lost my planner. I've meticulously cleaned my car and home, so I know it's not hiding anywhere. I'm pretty sure I left it at a math training at a high school in the early parts of the month, so I don't have high hopes of it returning home. I bought a replacement, but since it was September, my options were severely limited. I'm just irritated that I have to go back through and enter commitments again. I've also felt very disorganized without my planner, which is frustrating.

3) I still don't feel like I have everything in my classroom under control.  I know as a teacher, I will never accomplish everything on my to do list.  I just finally built another filing cabinet insert (the metal part to put the folders on) to organize student data. I have five weeks' worth of filing awaiting me Monday...yikes!  

4) My students didn't do as well on their first math test as I would have liked and that's disappointing to me.  I haven't taught a traditional math block in a few years since we were departmentalized and I know the concept is difficult.  There were just a lot of careless mistakes (skipping problems) that I'll need to address as a class.  I know that they need more review and that I'll be giving the test again.  I just hope parents don't freak out. I know they don't have it yet.  We have until June to master the concept. Learning takes time.

5) The gradebook.  The entire district is trying a new gradebook and needless to say, it's a learning curve.  Last year, I only entered summative assessments (end of unit tests) and nothing else.  This year, I have three categories: summative for 90%, formative for 10% (quizzes, exit tickets, assignments during the unit of study) and a not for grade category (obviously worth nothing).  I'm used to entering grades as emerging, approaching, meeting, or exceeding and having each assignment broken down by standard.  With this new grade book, my standards are clumped together which I don't exactly like.  For example, in reading, RL 1, 2, and 3 are grouped together, then averaged.  This means grades for quoting accurately and making inferences (1), determining the theme of a story, drama or poem (2), and comparing and contrasting story elements (3) are put together.  I don't like this, but I don't have any say in the matter.  I just think it gives a misleading picture to parents.  Students may be struggling with one particular standard, but if several are linked together, the numbers are skewed.  Hopefully this problem is addressed soon by those higher ups.  We also aren't allowed to enter any grade lower than 55%, with the mindset that it's still an F, but students won't have as far to recover from a failed test.  We are to make notes of the actual score for parents to see.  I agree with this idea, I just wish I'd known before I started to enter grades because I had a good dozen assignments to go back and revise.

6) I haven't been to the gym...and feel really guilty about it!  I want to start going more, it's just hard at the end of the day. I need to start taking my gym clothes to work with me and giving myself permission to leave on time. I get there early, so it's okay to leave when my contract time is up.

7) My new crockpot recipes failed :(  Not failed persay, but definitely not a pinterest win.  The first one went awry because I used the larger crockpot and the sauce spread out, thus burning and not flavoring the chicken.  The second failed because it's a recipe that needs to be stirred a few times while it's cooking.  Perhaps we'll try that again on a weekend day when I can attend to the crockpot.

Overall, not a bad month.  It's strange to think it's almost October!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Engagement Strategy

I usually type my lessons for the day into a smart notebook.  While this takes a good twenty minutes each morning, I think it helps our day flow smoothly.  I like to start my morning with everything fully prepared and loaded, leaving my prep free to conquer any numerous tasks or handle unforeseen emergencies without panic.

However, sometimes when I have a lot of instructions typed on the board, my students zone out.  They're ten, I get it.  I still go over the purpose for each activity and imbed some spiral review to remind them what they're learning and why.

So I switched up my strategy:

I read what's in black font and they read what is in another color.  This way they're actively engaged in the directions and if they forget what to do, the key parts of the instructions or directions practically jump out at them.

Plus, by only giving them a few words or a phrase to read, they aren't shouting over each other and they are able to read together (most of the time).

Anchoring Our Learning

It's time for an anchor chart update!

My walls have quickly been overtaken by colorful anchor charts to guide our class discussions.  This year I'm trying something new and color coding my charts.  My math ones are pink, my reading ones are blue, my reading foundation skills (fluency, phonics) are yellow, and our read aloud mentor text ones (for The Lightning Thief) are white.

Our close read poster:

They're doing a really good job with this skill this year!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Today's prompt: Your fall bucket list. What do you want to do before winter rolls around?

For those of you hopping over from Brave Love, good morning! (Or afternoon, or evening).

As a native of the Southwest, the whole season concept is a bit murky.  However, I like to pretend that when we are in 90 degree weather, this counts as fall.

Plus, I LOVE making lists, so I was eager to blog about this topic.  It must be the teacher in me :)

My Fall Bucket List:

**Purchase some jamberry nails because in the long run, it'll be better for my budget.  I got a free sample from a friend Amy and applied them Sunday night: 

(The accent nail is the jamberry one. The rest are Sally Hansen Miracle Gel.)  It took maybe five minutes to do both hands and as of Wednesday, no chips!  They're supposed to last three weeks and come out to be about three dollars an application.  I can treat myself to that little girly indulgence.

**Fully clean my house.  I've still got book piles in the living room and the guest bedroom/craft room is in need of some attention.  Since I'm having people over Saturday, I guess I'd better get on that!

**Return to the gym.  Now that the beginning of the year chaos is settling down, I need to get into the routine of going a few times a week.

**Try new recipes, especially crockpot recipes.  I hate to cook.  Luckily B went to culinary school and does most of the cooking (I do other chores, it evens out).  However, I want to put the crockpots to good use! I'm really good at dumping ingredients in the crockpot and ignoring it for hours on end :)

**Carve pumpkins, or at least be supportive while B does it.  Disclaimer, I hate carving pumpkins.  I don't have any happy childhood memories of it and this always seemed like a chore rather than a fun holiday activity. I don't really like anything pumpkin flavored or scented (the horror, I know!) and the insides always grossed me out.  However, B flat out asked if we were going to do it and seemed so excited about I should be supportive.  Apparently that's what you do in adult relationships. (I'm kidding, I love him and will happily watch him stab the pumpkin into an intricate shape while I enjoy some tea and grade.  Or I will happily buy fake pumpkins and paint them with polka dots while he carves real ones!)

**Enjoy my fall wardrobe.  I'm excited for the scarves/boots/cardigans parade that will be escaping from the closet in the next few months.  My winter wardrobe is essentially the same except lightweight cardigans are replaced by sweaters and hoodies, thus limiting the scarf potential. (Scarves and hoodies is just silly).

**Have a crafting day. I've been wanting to make a burlap wreath for our front door basically since we moved in.  Now seems like an excellent time!

**Refinish the bathroom cabinets.  All our cabinets are builder grade oak, which is fine if you like the light color. I don't.  One bathroom is done in shades of gold, white, and mother of pearl, so the cabinets will stay oak in there because it matches.  Our living room has a cherry red hardwood floor, so the cabinets looked awful until I repainted them over the summer:

Yes, that was my summer task...all 37 cabinet doors and frames.   Now that I seem to have forgotten how time consuming the task was, I want to tackle our master bathroom ones.  Our house is an open floor plan, so the master bedroom and bathroom connect.  We painted the walls a slate blue color with a gray accent wall behind the bed.  I want to paint the cabinets Seaside, Meadow, or Federal Gray:

We used rustic on our kitchen and the whole process was pretty easy, it just took a lot of time.  However, I redid kitchen counters, the island, and an entry way cabinet for under three hundred dollars so it was definitely worth it if you have the patience for a DIY project.

**Have a picnic.  One of our first dates was Panera in the bed of his truck, watching little kids play softball.  I'd love to recreate that.

**Enjoy our patio.  For the first time in years, I have a backyard.  My three apartments all had various sized patios which could comfortably fit two people and folding chairs.  That's not the case with our house.  We have a wrap around back patio and oversized yard.  We're waiting for our tax return to do anything with the yard because right now, it's desert landscaping...also known as rocks.  Lots of rocks.  But in the mean time, I want to enjoy the patio with some dinners outside.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll take my tea and laptop outside to blog!

**Enjoy time with friends.  Now that I've left my previous school (as many others have), I don't get to see my close friends on a daily basis.  I want to see them more.

**Switch out our scentsy for apple cinnamon or other fall scents.  This will be an easy task, but I just need to remember to do it!

What's on your fall list?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Falling for Fall

Today's prompt: Fall Favorites. What do you love most about this season?

For those hopping over from Brave Love, welcome!

This prompt is a tad tricky for me.  Being born and raised in Arizona, then moving up to Nevada, this whole seasons thing is a vague, hazy concept.  Seasons are dictated by the weather: is it triple digits outside or not?  Trees don't change color and there's no white powder snow on the ground.  This is year six of living in Nevada and we had one snow day.  One.  However, that doesn't mean I don't get ridiculously excited about decorating for the seasons...even when the weather isn't cooperating.

Since I moved and started packing up my house mid April, I missed decorating for a few holidays.  I was itching to make our new home cute, but had to be practical and get the every day stuff out first.

However, once Labor Day weekend hit, I couldn't stand it any longer.  I got out my storage bin of fall items and got to work.  I switched out the place mats and center piece to a pumpkin filled with flowers.  I put white ceramic pumpkins on the TV stand and moved regular decorations out of the way, making room for fall ones.  A few weeks later, they're still up (meaning my furry helpers haven't readjusted my decor, which is a huge success!)

I love decorating for any season, but there are some things I love about fall.

Fall means I can wear boots with fuzzy socks and not worry about the state of my pedicure.  I throw on boots and a cardigan with a dress and tada, fall appropriate.

Fall means I can layer and enjoy my cardigans. (As a teacher, I think the love for cardigans is somehow my love of post-its and Expo markers.) 

I love that fall means scarves on a nearly daily basis as an accessory piece or statement.

I love that fall means football.  Football means B helps me grade or cut out laminate on Sundays during commercials and half-time.

Fall means we can go for walks around the neighborhood in the evenings and eat dinner on the patio.

Fall means soups and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.  Fall means easy soups in the crockpot and coming home to a wonderful aroma.

Fall means warm, earthy tones like forest green and maroon, which look great with my Irish heritage.  Fall is my best season, colors wise.

Fall means the occasional thunder storm and cuddling up on the couch, watching a movie and listening to the rain.

Fall means the back to school craziness and meeting a new bunch of fifth graders.  Mine this year are amazing.  After the difficulty of last year, I couldn't be more pleased with 27 happy students and their supportive families.

Fall means changes and getting ready for the holidays, which means family time with those I love most.

What are your favorite parts about fall?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Reading Rangers

As I've blogged about before, our school is pretty adament about Reading Rangers and the WIPR block.  It's my first year, but I like it.  My kids have great reading stamina coming into fifth grade and are self-motivated to read.

Last week, I had to convert a bulletin board from this:

To this:

To make space for their badges.

I also wanted to make a count down to graduation board to indicate how many books they needed to read (and pass an AR quiz on).  I looked at my other grade level members' ideas, but I wanted to put my own spin on it.  I wanted something that was portable that we could take with us to assemblies or to the pod.

So armed with a folding poster board, tape, and velcro dots, I set out to make our boards.  I color coded the count down cards and laminated them so hopefully they'll last a few years.  I can handle remaking the board each year, just not the cards.

Here is the end result:

I'm excited how it turned out. I conferenced with all my kiddos (that were here) to see how many books they had left.  Most of them were bumped up to a higher reading level after our beginning of the year conferences, so they started over.  I am fine with it (and they are fine with it) because it means more of a challenge.

I'm really pleased with how this year is going!

(But now it's time to plan math. Yes, it's six am on a Saturday. My team teacher and I are focused and too stubborn to give up our other weekend plans)

Happy Saturday!

Friday, September 19, 2014


For today's blogtember challenge, we are asked what advice we would give to a large group of people.

I'm going to hop on my teacher soap box for a moment:


Read daily.
Read to your children.  Read to them before they start kindergarten.  Read them bedtime stories.  Read with them all the way through elementary school.  Ask them what they're reading. Take them to the library.  Set aside family reading time. Make reading a positive, daily habit.  

While I can throw out every statistic in the world, from a teacher's stand point, it is really, really hard when a child starts school and has never seen a book.  It's really hard when a family doesn't support reading. It's hard when parents say they don't like to read. It's hard to get them interested in reading if they don't see reading at home.  Once they hit middle school, they probably won't learn to love reading if they don't have a strong foundation.

Let's change this.  Be excited about your children's books.  Take advantage of scholastic book orders (because seriously, it's way cheaper than a store).  Go to the library. Read to them, read with them, daily.


They'll be better off for it.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Blogtember Challenge: Mood Collage

Today's blogtember challenge:

Make a mood board. Are you brainstorming a room re-do, or are you dreaming of glamping with gal pals? Share a collage of any kind!

We just moved and are slowly unpacking the last little bits.  We have a three bedroom, 3 bathroom, single story home for us and our two fur babies.  One bedroom is obviously the master, which we just painted a slate blue with a gray accent wall.  There are white and silver accents with gray ombre silk curtains.  Eventually we'll upgrade to a king-sized bed with a matching bedroom set, but that's not a high priority.

One bedroom is currently a box fort, but will eventually be a nursery (in three to five years).  I don't really like the guest bath that's closest to the box fort, but that's also not in our budget right now.

I do love my den. I've got a fuzzy shag carpet (that won't show snags from my fur babies) and a big window. I've got lots of bookcases in there and hope to soon put in an oversized lounge chair.

So with that dream space in mind, I made my polyvore mood collage:

Now, I'm a realistic person.  White is the worst possible furniture choice, especially with seating.  Not only would I get it dirty very quickly, B would or the kittens would do something to it.  Plus I want to be a mom some day and white furniture screams canvas! 

I do like the tranquil feel of this den. I like a decorative rug, but worry about spending so much money on something that will quickly be outdated.  I am trying to steer away from trendy pieces, rather focusing on timeless investments.  I love pillows, blankets, and book shelves.  Amongst the chaos of back to school, I think I'm seeking a calm, peaceful place to escape.  For me, that's usually books and a blanket.

I think I need to carve out some me time soon to just nest and read.. 

Um...what did you say?

Fifth graders say the weirdest things sometimes.

They're researching Native American Indians in reading/writing and learning how to create multimedia presentations.  Today we were working in the classroom and in the pod (on the computers) when one group of (rather giggly) girls called me over.

This same group had confused "Pablo" with "Pueblo" last week, so I was concerned about their question.

I was asked "what's a butt skin?"

Yes, butt skin.

Struggling to keep a straight face, I racked my brain to figure out what on earth they were talking about.  Luckily, it dawned on me: buck skin.

So, I asked if she meant buck skin.

She said yes because that's what she'd said.  I went on to clarify that buck and butt are two different words and that a buck is an animal.  That seemed to please her but I had to struggle to keep a straight face.

Naturally, I immediately told the rest of my grade level.  There are no butt skins during our project.

Oh fifth graders.

Today's (Work) Challenge

My school follows WIPR and is part of the Reading Rangers program.  This is my first year teaching with it, so I don't have enough evidence to make a sound judgment either way.

I do know that my kids have awesome reading stamina from years of following this program. I know they want to read. That in itself makes me very happy.

Today I had to do some classroom revisions.  Since I don't have any more bulletin boards, I shrunk the size of my "vibrant vocabulary" board.  Instead of an outdated word wall, this is where students take ownership over the interesting words, phrases, and vocabulary that they're encountering in their reading.

I dedicated the other portion of the board to Reading Rangers.  

(On a side note, I'm highly irritated that I'm short blue border! Off to Target I must go!)

I gave them paper plates to decorate as their badges.  Every time they pass a quiz (with 90 or 100%), they get a neon star to add to their plates.

I'm also in the process of making a count down to graduation board, which will be up soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2014


I have a lot of changes I'm adjusting to at my new school.  I spend my mornings remembering to collect lunch money and fill out agendas together before we leave at the end of the day.  I don't have to check for standard student attire and have an off prep period once every six days.  I have no classroom computers, but 28 in the pod right outside. I have five iPads in my classroom. My students want to read.  I have one or two stinkers and a few I'm worried about academically, but my students are great.  My coworkers are supportive. My school supports students' entire wellness, not just academic success.  There's a daily "moovin' in the morning" session that the PE teacher leads.  Walking out to the playground to see several hundred students playing kickball or doing zumba just warms my heart. The stress I'm feeling is from the beginning of the year adjustments.

But most importantly, I just feel happier when I'm there.

(This is the view from outside my pod's door.  How can you not be happy with that view?)


After going through my students' beginning of the year forms, I noticed many of them said they struggled with reading multisyllablic words and spelling.

To confirm my suspicions that they lacked phonics instruction, I gave them a syllable sort.  You can read the whole story here, but basically they were completely stumped.

So I started instruction with closed syllables and progressed from there.

They had their quick check on Friday and most of them did quite well.  I know that some still need more instruction, but I'm excited to move from syllables to word chunking strategies during RTI time.

You can snag the syllable overview and syllable sort here.

The Story of Us

Today's prompt (for the blogtember challenge): Your current relationship status. If dating/married, give us a glimpse of your story! If single, share about this special season.

For those hoping over from Brave Love, hello!  A majority of my blog is related to teaching things, but I'm loving the blogtember challenge and my chance to share about me as a person, not just a teacher :)

I was a serious dater.  I had long term boyfriends throughout high school, college, and grad school.  After one particularly devastating break up, I decided enough. I decided I needed to stop looking for emotional fulfillment from others and be happy with myself first.  I sought professional help from a therapist, which I have no shame in admitting. We all need a little help from an unbiased, educated, outside perspective.  I talked about a lot of emotional baggage, read a lot of books, and came to a decision. I was going to be single for a year.  12 whole months in my mid twenties.  

That was a great year.  I started going with my friend M to Gilley's to line dance on a frequent basis.  I read a lot. I started going to the gym and trying zumba (trying being the key word).  I spent more time with friends (and their adorable children).  I tried new things, I went to new restaurants with friends, I went to baseball games. I used that year to strengthen my friendships and time with family.  I was happy.  The idea of dating began to creep back into my mind, but being out of grad school and working in a profession where the majority are women (elementary school), I was limited. M and I decided that come March of 2013, we'd try online dating with Match meet ups.  That was the plan.

I didn't make it the full year.  

We went out to Revolver, another country bar, to celebrate M's birthday in the beginning of February. I wasn't really feeling like going out, but my friend Adam was driving myself and Christine, so I agreed.  There was a special on whiskey, my preferred drink.  (I'm legal and was responsible enough not to be driving.)

We met up with the birthday girl and some of her high school friends, including B.  He asked what I was drinking and I replied Jack and Coke.  He made some smart aleck response about me getting his drink and I gave some snarky, sassy response right back.  I'm pretty sure there were curse words involved on my behalf.  I don't share my drinks, especially if it's whiskey.

The night proceeded in a typical fashion: line dancing, chatting with friends, and having a good time.  

I thought he was cute, but I wasn't out looking for a man. I was focused on celebrating M, our mutual friend. I said yes when he asked if I wanted to dance and in my slightly uncoordinated state, stepped on his feet more than once.  He spent most of the evening playing bar games with the boys in the group while I was line dancing with the ladies.  We hugged goodbye and that was it.

The next day, I got his number from M and texted him an apology for stepping on his feet.  We started talking and he asked me to get food. I replied no because I was watching the Super Bowl and had school the next day.  He laughed and said he didn't mean right then.  I said I wasn't looking for anything romantic but would be fine hanging out in group settings.

So we talked for a few weeks.  My friends are all super busy, so we didn't have an opportunity to set up a group hang out.  I agreed to a dinner but we had to cancel because he had to work late and well, as a teacher, I don't want to do dinner on a Wednesday at 8 pm. 

We ended up breaking all social taboos and had our first date on Valentine's Day.  He showed up thirty minutes early with flowers. I was still in the process of doing my hair, so he got a nice bonding session with my couch and one of the fur babies.  

We had our next two dates with the week and well, the rest was history. I met his family two months later for his birthday and he met mine the following month when we went to a wedding in Arizona.  He started going to college within our first month of dating, so we've been tackling that together.  

We celebrated a year and a half last month in our first home.  He knows where my grandma's ring is and that I'd like the center stone reset as my engagement ring. He knows I'd like him to ask my mom's permission first.

We've talked about parenting and baby names.  We've talked about the must-haves at our wedding and what we definitely don't want.  Our friend M, who we met through? She'll be officiating the ceremony.  Jack & Cokes will be available at the reception (I'm finally able to share my whiskey with him. Must be love!)  We've talked about our future and the only thing I want to change is to have matching last names and joined bank accounts.

He's like no other man I've ever dated. He's the youngest, which is a nice contrast to me being the oldest.  He's very laid back and a true type B personality, which mellows my type A one.  I motivate him, he calms me down.  He's helpful, supportive, and calls me on my sass.

That's the story of us. It's still unfolding but I'm excited for this journey.

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Today's Blogtember challenge:

Tell us about a favorite tradition. It could be a family tradition or from a holiday, university, you-name-it. What makes it so special?

Growing up, holidays weren't always the happiest of times.  Bickering parents and a dysfunctional family dynamic meant that more than a few days of alone time would lead to lots of fighting.

However, there is one tradition I love: Christmas shopping with my mom.  It wasn't to indulge in mass consumerism, it's just a time for her and I to spend a lot of alone time to catch up.  It's nice to pick out gifts for others and spend time bonding.  We aren't burdened with having to entertain or accommodate the grouchy, non-shoppers in the family.  As I've grown up, I've used our long time in lines to share life news like my first tattoo and about boyfriends.

I am excited to start new traditions with B.  His family doesn't really decorate for holidays, so last year was our first Christmas season together.

We started our own tradition of decorating his and her football trees:

Yes, we didn't want to compromise so we have a Cardinals tree and a Broncos tree.

This year will be our second Christmas together, but our first one in our new home.  My family is coming up to celebrate, so I'm excited to host my first holiday with the family members I actually enjoy!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Today's blogtember topic definitely speaks to me.

We are asked to reflect on what fuels us.

Well, I love collages.  Pinterest and the polyvore app definitely capture some of my precious free time.  Before pinterest, I was cutting out magazine pictures to decorate notebook covers.  

I love inspirational art.  I love meaningful quotes. I love surrounding my space, wherever it may be, with pictures and pretty sparkly things.  I love flowers and picture frames with happy moments.  

I pin up notes from my students around my desk so I can look to my previous successes in moments of struggle. 

I'm fueled by internal motivation. I give myself goals and reward myself when those goals are complete.

What fuels you? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Last year, I struggled as a teacher for a number of reasons.  In a nutshell, I didn't feel supported at my job. I didn't like teaching and there were many, many moments I simply wanted to quit. Crying was a frequent thing and I didn't feel my instructional decisions were approved. 

My end of year data was amazing because my students made awesome growth.  But there was no acknowledgment of that.

So I made a change. I switched to a school that's about eight minutes away from my new house and a later start time. 

The school climate is so much better and for that I'm thankful.

Am I having some struggles adjusting? Yes, of course.

I'm not inclusion anymore, so it's weird not co-teaching. I don't have anyone pop into my room anymore, unless it's to watch her class to solve the mystery of why the kinders were gone for ten minutes. (They were having a party in the bathroom, obviously.  That two minutes of watching the rest of her kinders was enough to convince me I never want to teach the little ones.  Bless her heart though, and those who are brave enough for the littlest ones.)

I"m struggling to adjust to new procedures.  My last school was nearly 100% free and reduced lunch and this one isn't.  I have to remember to ask for lunch money every morning and make sure lunch cards get passed out.  Luckily I delegated this task to students!

I'm struggling with cutting writing short to make sure we have time to fill out our agendas together. I'm struggling to figure out how to track homework, since it's not for a grade.  I haven't quite figured out how I want to keep track. 

I'm struggling with pacing. Math and whole group reading are both running a little long because of different reasons.  My students have some gaps in their number sense, so we're trying to fill those gaps by using hands-on manipulatives and scaffolding lessons.  This takes time away from the fifth grade standards.  However, I think we're seeing results.  There's a lot more discourse in the lessons and their exit tickets are improving.  I can't wait to see how they do on next week's math test!

In reading, I'm struggling because I'm trying to teach too much. I know I am. I want to do phonics and fluency (which are happening during RTI time) as well as our lesson. I also want to do a read aloud.  I would love if there was just a little more time in the day!

However, all of these struggles pale in comparison to last year.  These struggles are a learning curve and I know that. I just need to be patient with myself because this is a new school with new expectations. I have to allow myself time to adjust and be okay with making some mistakes.

I just love that my administration and grade level are so supportive.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Today's blogtember challenge was related to personality typing and strengths and weaknesses.

I've taken this before, but not in a few years.  I wasn't really surprised to see a change.

As of the test this morning, I'm an INFJ.  This makes me a rare unicorn :)  This combination is the rarest, coming in around 1% of the population.

Basically an extroverted introvert with confusing emotions.

When I need to be, I can be the most extroverted person.  Since I'm a teacher, this is natural. I have an outgoing, happy face and am talking almost all day long.

However, I also need my alone time. I need my down time. I need my time to just sit and reflect. I am on the go so often that I need time to just sit and be.  This desire, coupled with my (at times) outgoing personality is a weird concept to wrap my brain around but I'm glad I'm not alone. As I've grown up, I've accepted that it's okay to say no to social situations and it's okay to turn down things when I need recharging time.

The gist of my personality test:
-takes a disproportionate amount of responsibility
-deeply concerned with my relationships with others
-appear outgoing, but emotionally introverted
-need withdrawn alone time
-difficult to convey complex emotions
-strong writing skills
-academia and teaching
-liberal arts over sciences

Recommended careers: teacher, librarian, lawyer

Umm, yup.  Pretty much spot on.  I was pre-law before joining Teach for America.  I would love to be a librarian.  My college degrees are all in the liberal arts. 

It was a nice, self-reflective day. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Marathon Days

With the third week of school steadily approaching in a few hours, I finally feel like I've had a moment to breathe.

The first week of school is always jammed packed with teaching procedures, establishing classroom culture, setting up notebooks, and integrating fun activities.  I think I did a pretty good job of that this year, but man was I tired!

Luckily we had a three day weekend (Labor Day) followed by a staff development day.  

However, I think my grade level (myself included) tried to plan a week's worth of instruction into three days.  It didn't go very well.

We overplanned, which was far better than the alternative.  We had a conversation about clarifying our expectations and I think this week will go better.  There were two 12 hour days, one of them due to my date with the copy machine and the other due to open house.  By Friday afternoon, a rather unpleasant migraine hit and I was beat.

My students must have been feeling it too.

I had a low turn out to open house, but I appreciate those families that did come.  One wanted to have a conference, which we held after school on Friday.  Because the open house was shortly after school ended, our administration bought us dinner so we wouldn't be hangry.  (Side note, hangry = hunger plus anger. I suffer from this affliction frequently) The fact that dinner was Olive Garden was a delightful bonus!  We had three rotations and a fake announcement about a staff meeting was made at the end to get the parents to clear out so we could go home on time.  It's so nice to be at a school where I feel administration has my back.  I got home and was most definitely asleep by 7:30 that Thursday night.

Friday, 4 of my students were absent. Two more went home in the afternoon from being sick and a third left for early dismissal.  GATE kids were gone and there was an announcement about turning off the technology because the server was getting too hot.

So, with a third of my class being gone, I made a judgment call not to teach the writing plans.  Yes, it puts me behind. But it didn't make sense to me to teach new material without my students.  I am more than happy to teach if a few are gone (obviously, we do this daily) but when I have ten students out of the room for various reasons...that'd be a lot of reteaching.

So instead, we built up our reading stamina with an extended silent reading time.  I got through all my conferences for Reading Rangers and my students all set up their data folders.  

With the remaining time, I started reading aloud The Lightning Thief. I had my class split up into 4 categories and keep track of character details while I read.  They did a pretty good job of listening for information about Grover, Mr. Brunner, Percy, and Mrs. Dodds.  I haven't explicitly taught this standard, nor did I have them make a graphic organizer.  I just wanted to see how they'd do and I was pleasantly surprised.

My weekend was spent looking over their pre math tests, which confirmed what I saw in classroom observations.  I had a rather long math training Saturday morning, but lunch with my mentee made it better.  I texted frantically with another teacher as we tag-teamed the math lesson plans for the week, which was a lot of prep work.  I'm pleased with the end result because I think it's broken down enough the students will grasp the material.  Add in some laundry, some football, and some napping and that was my weekend!

Week three brings a counseling lesson, the start of Aimsweb, hopefully getting at least my teacher iPad (for Aimsweb), modeling fluency and buddy coaching with Reading A-Z passages, place value, our Native American reading/writing unit, and possibly a schedule change for rainy weather.

Sigh.  I've had some marathon days.  I'm ready for things to calm down and me to be more on a schedule.  I've been getting to work early and staying late. I'd prefer to do only one of those!

Bring it on week 3!

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Today's blogtember challenge was supposed to be an easy one about my favorite books.

However, as a teacher, this is a seemingly impossible challenge.  I can't pick just one.  

I grew up in a pro-reading household. We went to the library frequently and I'd save my money for the Scholastic book fair.  I still remember the question that got me out in the Battle of the Books.  Books are currently overflowing on my floor and I'm sure I will need another bookshelf soon.

Currently reading:

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan.   
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  

Currently re-reading:

Divergent by Victoria Roth.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.


Harry Potter series. Always.
The Fables graphic novel series (alternative fairy tales for grown ups).
Sloppy Firsts and its sequels.
The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Life of Pi by Yann Martell
I Thou by Martin Buber
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My challenge is finding the time to read for pleasure without feeling guilty about it. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Day six and holding strong to the blogtember challenge!

Today we are asked to reflect on things we are currently doing, so here goes!

Currently reading...the House of Hades.

I love Rick Riordan and have read almost a dozen of his books.  I'm just struggling with finding the time to sit and read because of the back to school craziness.  Next week starts week 3, so I'm hoping things will slow down a bit!

Currently procrastinating...going to a math training.

I have a 4 hour math training at a nearby high school.  It's paid and I appreciate the opportunity to learn more.  However, training means I have to get dressed because oddly, pajamas aren't acceptable for school functions. 

Currently excited about...a lunch date with my mentee afterward!

Last year I had a few mentees, but really clicked with one.  She's a wonderful gal and I'm so excited we became friends.  She's also going to the math training, so we're grabbing Panera afterward.

Currently loving...Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish.

It's not as great as getting a gel manicure, but it's WAY cheaper.  A week in and my nails still look great.  Plus, there's no UV light needed to set the gel and it comes off with regular nail polish.  

Currently ignoring...the cleaning that needs to be done (sorry mom!)

I'm hoping my fur babies will clean it while I'm at work!  But weirdly...that's not happening.

Currently feeling...hungry.

This is easily solved, but the couch is really comfy.

Currently mommy and brother.

They live in a neighboring state, so I don't get to see them as often as I'd like.

Also currently missing...East Coast friends.

My best friend is doing post PhD work at Yale, which is far, far away.  I miss her terribly and can't wait to see her at Christmas.  Another friend is getting married next weekend in Florida, but it wasn't financially feasible for B and I to attend (moving is expensive).  Another friend and her family also recently moved to Florida and I'm missing them too.

Plus my old work friends, for the most part, are all at different schools and I don't see them as often as I'd like.  I miss being able to pop my head into the hallway and see their faces.

Currently listening to...the fan and an intense game of soccer with a pom pom.

The house is quiet...kind of.  Chloe found a pom pom (again) and is quite loudly playing soccer with it on the hardwood floors.

Currently appreciating...that I could decorate for fall.

Since we moved, I missed decorating for every holiday/season between Easter and now.  So that was my Labor Day task: getting out my fall decorations.  B is still learning to get used to my nesting and fall decorating, but I love it!  I like changing out the table decorations and scentsy scents.  I like putting cute seasonal pillows on the couch...although our current "fall" pillows are football ones.

Currently concerned...about what crinkling noise I'm hearing from Chloe.

After investigating, it's a rice krispies wrapper.  Yum?

Currently feeling...a tad overwhelmed by work.

It's an adjustment. I appreciate my new grade level.  We just tried to teach too much last week and need to take things in smaller steps.  We were all just so excited to jump into teaching!

How are you feeling?

Friday, September 5, 2014


Continuing with the blog-tember challenge, today we are asked to reflect on what lights our fires.  What makes us passionate?

I get excited about a lot of things.

For example, books.  I was that person that needed Harry Potter, at midnight, on the release date.  I would not share with my brother and I wouldn't talk to anyone until I was done reading. I will passionately defend Harry Potter because it wasn't just a book series, it was my childhood. I will always find my home at Hogwarts.

Sometimes books make me angry (looking at you Rick Riordan, Lois Lowry, and Victoria Roth).  In that anger is a passion and investment in the characters.  Books don't always end the way I'd like and that's something I'm still learning to be okay with.  That passion, that frustration, is a good thing because it means I've connected with the characters.

This is a lesson I'm working on with my students.  Being emotional and passionate about books is a wonderful thing.

I'm also passionate about teaching.  The paperwork and playground duty? Eh, not so much.  But the conversations with students, the opportunity to watch them grasp a concept they've been struggling with for weeks is amazing.  Watching them fall in love with literature and learning is the best part of my job.  I love kids and I love watching them learn to think for themselves. I'm passionate about teaching my fifth graders.

What are you passionate about?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dear self

B had class last night (with the computer) and I had a long day at work, so I'm playing catch up with the blog-tember challenge!

Day 3's question:
"When I grow up I want to be..." Answer as your 5-year-old self or as you are now.

At five, I wanted to be a lot of things. I wanted to be both a ballerina and a fairy princess for Halloween, so my loving mother gave into my whining and combined costumes, much to the confusion of my neighbors.

The dream to be a princess never really faded.
I wanted to be a ninja or like Kimberly, the Pink Ranger from the Power Rangers. The same loving mother put me in gymnastics and dance instead.  A year later, I was still wanting to be Pink Ranger, so she let me start martial arts.

At 17, the day before an AP test, I earned my black belt.  I don't think my mother has fully forgiven me for not pursing her ballerina dream.

At five, I was also obsessed with Wendy from Peter Pan.  I tried to fly by leaping off a picnic table.  I met concrete and a hospital visit. I told my new Sunday school teacher that was my name. I got away with this deception for a few weeks before my lie was unraveled.  Apparently you're not supposed to lie at church...oops.  We kept the artwork.  Sorry mom.

At five, I also wanted to be in charge.  I didn't know quite yet of what, but I knew I liked giving directions and having other people listen.  This sometimes unyielding desire to be in charge was documented on my kindergarten report card and more than one parent teacher conference was held about me needing to learn to listen to my classmates.  At five, I guess I'd decided their ideas were silly and we should only do mine.

Sometimes I still feel like I struggle with this.

At five, I wanted to be a flying, fairy princess ninja who was in charge of everything.

Today, I am a teacher.

Pretty close, right?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blog-tember! (day 2)

I stumbled upon my dear friend Katie's blog and saw she was doing blog-tember, linking up with Bailey from Brave Love.  I'm really pushing myself to focus on the positive things this year, starting with today's challenge!

Day 2: Write about what makes you happy, from the little joys to the huge game-changers.

I'm a sucker for small, sentimental gestures.  I like private praise and meaningful notes. I save cards and love scrapbooking.  I've started making smashbooks about my relationship with B (we are in the second album). I'm a list-maker, so here goes:

Sweet notes from loved ones. Fresh, pink flowers. Polka dots. Coming home to my fur babies, who are wonderful cuddle buddies.

Pedicures. Girl talk. Sangria. Whiskey. Pineapple. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Panera Bread. Line dancing. Decorating for the holidays. Fuzzy blankets. Sharks. Puzzles...even when I have a helper.

Harry Potter, always.  New books. Re-reading old books. Naps.  Being organized. Thank you cards. Sharpies and office supplies in general. Sale shopping. The fact that I'm now officially a home-owner.

My family. My friends. My B, who is the most supportive boyfriend ever.  Game nights. Crafting. Movie marathons.  The relaxing feeling after yoga or a nice work out.  Taking off my shoes at work, curling up at my desk and checking emails.  Adding joy into my classroom.  My fuzzy area rugs. Quilts from my mom. Hugs...from non-creepy people. Batman. Comic books. Sparkly things. My scentsy or scented candles. Memes. Parks and Recreation (because Leslie Knope is my spirit animal).  Home design magazines.

It's the simple things that make me happy.

What makes you happy?


I'm fresh out of my first staff development day of the year and well, I'm annoyed.

I'm in no way frustrated with my grade level, because they're great.  I'm in no way annoyed with my administration or a majority of the other teachers at my school, because they're amazingly supportive.

I'm annoyed with teachers from other schools.  

I'm new to my school and the WIPR model, but I'm in no way new to teaching.  This is year six, which puts me in that veteran teacher category.  However, I don't look my age.  Perhaps it's not having kids, perhaps it's because I try to get enough sleep each night and eat my veggies.  Perhaps it's just good genes (thanks mom!).  I have to put a conscious effort into my appearance to look like a teacher.  Today it was our school shirt, a knee length denim skirt, and flats...standard teacher attire. 

We had a long afternoon session with unwrapping the standards.  I've been doing this for years now, so it's a tad frustrating to go through the process yet again.  However, I understand not everyone has the hundreds of hours of professional development that I do, so I let that go.  We were working as a grade level (both my school and other schools in my district) and sharing ideas for one standard.  Some of the other teachers were very vocal about their lesson plan ideas, which didn't align to our standards.  If I'm teaching informational text, I'm going to try to double dip and incorporate social studies content as well.  It just makes sense to merge content areas to provide a more authentic learning opportunity.  I'm not doing an entire unit on Nevada history (a fourth grade standard) or dinosaurs. (Yes, dinosaurs.  That's what this other teacher was obsessed with.  Every lesson plan idea related back to dinosaurs...for fifth grade.)

I love professional development opportunities where I get to talk with other teachers about instruction.  I like hearing their ideas and learning from others.  Thus, I was really excited about this afternoon...but left severely disappointed.

However, my ideas were not heard.  I shared several strategies that I've used, with great success, but none of them made it to the poster.  My ideas weren't even considered because I'm the youngest one in the room.  I was interrupted and shot down, numerous times.  Ageism is a rather frustrating occurrence in teaching and it reared its ugly head today.  I had a nice conversation with the other teacher from my grade level.  She is on board with actually teaching the standards.  

I'm just frustrated that this afternoon was not productive.  I'm frustrated that I was shut down because of the way I look.  I'm irritated my ideas, which have been proven effective in the classroom, were disregarded but an older gentleman's ideas were put on the chart, even though he's never taught fifth grade.  What happened to being open minded and hearing all ideas?