Sunday, January 31, 2016

Goal Setting, Revisited

Here we are, 31/366 days into 2016.  How are you doing on your personal goals for the year?

I was recently asked about my goals and vision for 2016, so I decided to get crafty because I'm a visual (messy) person. 

So here goes:

1) Grow my small businesses ({TpT}, {Jamberry}, and {Younique}).  However, I want to do so in a way that feels authentic and genuine, and that means not morphing into one of those super naggy people.  (Unless you're a student with an overdue form...then I shall nag away.  Daily.)  I just get really excited about things and want others to be excited with me.

2) Get married without spending all my money on Etsy, being a bridezilla, and scaring B with the copious amounts of glitter.  I did hide my Joann's bag from him because I don't want him to see all the wedding decor...and glitter.  That poor man.

3)  Strive for this work-life-nap balance.

4) Continue having adventures with B, the fur babies, friends, and family.

5) Find joy in the classroom.  Every day.  Even when they are hormonal, puberty-stricken, hot messes.  I love them. I just don't like each one of them at every given moment.

6) Continue to cultivate loving, healthy friendships where we inspire and support one another.

What are your goals for 2016?


Permission granted

This is a lesson I continue to struggle with.

We had a busy it should be.


In a constant struggle of me vs my allergies, they won.  There was a ton of dust and pollution in the air on Friday, which wrecked havoc on my sinuses.  So while he went out to softball, I graded all that I could, worked on school work, did laundry, and tidied up the house.


The morning started with a walk for Waffles and trying our new yoga work out DVD.  I like it so far! We picked out his groomsmen attire, had a relatively healthy lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, and went to the craft store and Target. I did a little more work before headed out to a dear friend's daughter's sixth birthday party.  There were copious amounts of sugar involved.  Afterwards, me and B met up with some family members to see the Spazmatics, which are an 80s cover band.  It was a fun show with super cheap drinks, but I wasn't used to being up til 2 am.  


Without much sleep, we got up and took Waffles up to the snow.  We met up with some friends at the Mt. Charleston lodge and drove up from there.  We had only one minor skid issue, but found a nice chunk of unaltered snow to play in.  Once Waffles discovered she could eat the snow, she was in heaven.  It started gently snowing while we were up there, which was nice and relaxing.  

We stopped by his parents' house to return their tupperware (from Thanksgiving...sorry Mike and Kathy!).  We picked up lunch on the way home and spent the afternoon half-heartedly working and watching Netflix.  Tomorrow is the 100th day of school and while we don't do much in fifth grade, I wanted to set up a selfie station with props in the teachers lounge, which required a gathering of random supplies from my house.  I completed one state in the next region (slated to start this week?), but then a nap occurred...and then the dilemma hit.

Do I plow through and conquer another state?  Or do I enjoy my evening?

I chose the later.  I put forth a good five hours of work between school ending Friday and now.  That's enough.  That's more than enough.

Am I 100% ready for tomorrow? No.  I know what I'm teaching, but I have copies to make and lesson plans to copy & paste into the online server.  

However, instead of stressing, I'm going to take Waffles for a walk with B, paint my toes, and swap out my nails for a new Valentine's themed jammicure.  I'll pack my lunch for the morning, toss my water bottle in the freezer, and get lots of beauty rest.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Slowly but surely

Slowly but surely, I'm checking items off the wedding list.

The Photo Booth

I've been communicating with the coordinator for our photo booth about the logos we'd like at the bottom of the photo strips.  I'm strongly leaning towards this one:

but wanted to see how it would look in our colors, with our names, and in different color combinations.  There were two other ones that I like as well, but progress!

I'm also going to pick up our wedding photobooth scrapbook album early because I'm customizing it.  This may be my inner bridezilla coming out, but I just don't trust what their idea of "decorating" the album is.  I've been watching the sales at Joanns and using coupons, so most of my album stuff was less than full price.

But yes, I'm going to be type A and trace out where I'd like the photo strips glued.  I'm having one of my bridesmaids do my bridal shower scrapbook (that took a bit of trust, but I know my mom is supervising), so I want to still do something.


I ordered these gorgeous earrings from {etsy} for my bridesmaids:

They have navy (marine) dresses, so this will go really well.  They all picked dresses with fancy necklines, so that eliminated the need for necklaces.  I also ordered myself a pair to wear to the bridal shower & rehearsal dinner, so I can feel close to my ladies.

Thank you gifts

I'm not quite sure if it's customary to get my mom and MIL a gift on the wedding day...but I did! They are gorgeous and I'm sure will be tear-inducing (sorry mom).  I just wanted to show them both my (our) appreciation for their support over the years.

Thank you cards

I haven't technically bought them yet, but I've got my eyes on some custom thank you cards from this {etsy} shop.  The seller has been super easy to work with, so that gives me hope!  I ordered something else from this seller, so depending on the quality, I'll hopefully be back for more!  I wanted thank you from the future Mrs. S cards and thank yous from the new Mr. and Mrs. cards.  I think it's a bit cheesy to send out thank you cards with our faces on them, so I'd rather do more traditional thank you cards.  Our wedding will fall close to Christmas, so we'll be sending out holiday cards with our wedding pictures on them anyway.  And...let's be real, the thank you cards won't get out by the holidays.  Three months is standard, right?

Address stamp

Okay, I haven't technically bought this one either.  I'm waiting for my paycheck from {TpT} to order a {stamp} with my new last name.  I ordered one for our invitations (bridal shower, engagement shower, wedding invitations, save the dates) and it's already worth it.   Plus I have a 10% off coupon for being a repeat customer, so that's super convenient! 


Um...there's a few I like on zappos.  I'm having difficulty narrowing down my like list...

Flower girl basket

I asked our flower girl's mom if it'd be okay, but we haven't formally asked our flower girl yet.  I did, however, find an adorable dress and already have a craft vision!

I want this:

Without paying the etsy price. Armed with wine, coupons, and a hot glue gun, I'm sure I can make this for half the cost.  

Cake topper

The last initial ones are cute.  But we're leaning towards a custom one incorporating Batman.  Our wedding should feel like us.  He gave me the full go ahead on this purchase.  It's the same price as the generic craft store ones, but personalized.  Our wedding should reflect us.

Next up?

Scheduling engagement pictures.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Conquering the Wedding, one task at a time!

For one, I am absolutely loving having a long engagement.  There's no pressure on things!

Last weekend I found THE DRESS and even though it won't arrive for months, there's still plenty of time for alterations (which means plenty of time to tone my arms and back!).  

We decided on favors and I was able to find part of it for super cheap on Etsy.  By super cheap, I mean half of what it would cost at Michael's (and I didn't have to get dressed).  We don't have our favor idea 100% finalized, but I have months to play with it.  I'm not worried.  Once I finalize the design, I anticipate a wine and craft night with my girls.

I've got a solid idea on what to do for favors, found some gorgeous thank you cards, and am enjoying getting to savor planning.

Up next?

I'll be painting our guest book.

Yes, painting.  I picked up two large S wood signs to serve as the guest book (and one in photos).  We'll be using it in our engagement and wedding photos, so we need one to serve as the guestbook as well. 

It will be gold with a bronze edge (to make it look vintage).  Guests will be signing with black sharpies.  It will hang as a focal piece in our gallery wall.

Second task?

Photobooth scrapbook.

We are doing a photobooth and they print and assemble the scrapbook.  However, I didn't necessarily trust their ideas of customization, so I awkwardly asked for my scrapbook early to decorate the background pages, then will give it back to them before the wedding.

Amazingly, they said yes and reassured me I wasn't the first bride to want to do this.  It will be a white album with gold and black embellishments (a timeless look).  I'll be doing background ideas, then adding more embellishments after the pictures are glued in.  I'll possibility meet with the photobooth attendants before the wedding and just make sure we are on the same page in terms of my scrapbook hopes.



Currently in January

Sigh...January seems to be kicking my caboose.

Reading... Yes Please! I love her shows and her quotes on feminism, so this was a natural purchase.

Playing... the which {Jamberry wraps} shall I wear next game.  There are too many cute ones!

I think love letters is my favorite!

Watching... well, listening to New Girl reruns on Netflix.

Trying... to be positive.  This continues to be a struggle at time.

Being a grown up really stinks sometimes.

Cooking... nothing.  We had left overs for lunch and need to make a grocery list and meal plan for the week.

Eating... nothing. I'm hungry, but that could also be task avoidance (because I'm supposed to be doing laundry and working on a states powerpoint).

Drinking..water.  Lots and lots of water.

Calling... no one. I just got off the phone with my mom a little while ago and am seeing B's family later.

Texting...about dinner plans.

Pinning... teaching ideas, always.

Going... to be insanely productive for an hour, then take a nap. I love naps.

Loving...Etsy.  I found my {bridesmaid earrings}:

The seller was amazingly prompt at answering my questions, gave me a discount because I was ordering more than six, and I love that I'm supporting small businesses (because I love when others support mine).
I also treated myself to an adorable new make up bag, tulle for our favors, and a few other wedding surprises.  We also found some thank yous that we love and our cake topper.  I just need to spread out my wedding expenses. 

Hating... the uncertainty game.  Will my masters +32 be honored with a pay raise? Will the classes be released so I can take the last one at UNLV by May? Will I have to jump through hoops? Will I have to appeal the process? Will I have to join the union to have a better chance at it being approved? Is that even legal?

Discovering... Etsy's wedding section. Oh vey. It's amazing.

Thinking... about the lesson plans I should put into curriculum engine.  We have to post our lesson plans...and it's the last thing I want to do.

Feeling... like I can never catch up. 

Hoping (for)...a drama free dinner.

Listening (to)...Neflix...and Waffles snoring.

Celebrating... progress on wedding planning.  Oh, and that the Cardinals play the Panthers tomorrow.  Regardless of the outcome, they've had an amazing season.

Smelling... nothing. Thank you allergies.

Thanking... B for being so patient and picking up dinner.

Considering... trying to find a job that lets me craft things, read books, plan weddings, and drink mimosas while wearing pajamas and/or yoga pants.  Where is that job?

Starting... to realize I have to make wedding decisions, for real, soon.  More immediately though, thinking of ideas to turn our pod into Africa for multicultural week... (#elementaryproblems)

Finishing... Virginia, then West Virginia, then a test, then starting the next (FINAL) region.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Oh, we're having a sale (?)

I try to log into my TpT {store} every few days to review feedback and check my sales.

When I logged in this morning, I saw that the site was having a back to school year sale on January 20th and 21st...ya know, tomorrow.  Good thing I checked!

So I jumped on board and my whole store is 20% off for the TpT flash sale.  Happy shopping!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Back to Reality

This past week was a blur at work.  I had a surprise IEP meeting due to a date mix up, duty, a counseling lesson, Battle of the Books, a staff meeting, report cards, and teaching.  I rushed to get everything done by Thursday because my mom was coming in for the weekend!

Let's recap:


 She had a late flight (after nine pm), so I took a nap after work.  We picked her up, chatted for a few once we got home, and crashed.  I had work the next day and need a full night's rest when dealing with teaching three dozen ten year olds long division with decimals, without the algorithm.  


Friday morning we walked Waffles, I put dinner in the crockpot, and we headed to work.  A colleague was super chatty that morning, so I wasn't as productive as I would have liked.  It was also my off prep day, but that made for a quick afternoon.  We were able to Skype with my bestie at Yale.  We'd just learned about Connecticut, so it was academically appropriate.  She gave the students a walking tour of Yale and answered their inquisitive questions.  I also gave my students question time to ask my mom what they wanted (I was sure to set a timer!).  We had a pretty standard day with no ridiculous student behavior.  

We headed home and B brought home Redbox movies.  We enjoyed dinner, watching Minions and the newest Mission Impossible movie, looked at bridal magazines, wedding planned, and enjoyed bonding time.


Once again, our day started with a walk with Waffles.  Isn't she precious?  (She's 10 months, so she may get a little bigger.  She's from ARP (Adopt a Rescue Pet), so we aren't entirely sure of her breed.  We think collie-shepherd mix, but who knows.  More importantly, who cares?)

She still isn't aware that dogs go to the bathroom while on walks, but wasn't scared by passing vehicles, so progress!

From there, we headed to {Babystacks} and it was amazing.  If you're ever in Vegas, go here.  Plain and simple.  Since it was a cheat day, I devoured an omelet, seasoned potatoes, and two of the most wonderful pancakes I've ever encountered.  They were German chocolate with peppermint and white chocolate chips.  I could have died happy on the spot.  As a silly twist of fate, we were right next to my coworker Mrs. O, her hubby, and their precious two year old, so that was fun to chat over pancakes.  

We headed to Alfred Angelo for our noon dress appointment.  I went in with eight styles picked out from their website, but ended up falling for a brand new one on the mannequin.  

(Read the full dress shopping saga {here}).

We were 99% sure that was the one, but had a 4 pm appointment at another store just to be sure.  The consultants totally understood and wished us luck!

From there, my mom and I parted ways with my future MIL and one of our maids until later.  We picked up some items at Target, hit up a local craft store for ideas, then stopped by the Cannery and Sam's Town so she could get a feel for the locations and report back to my aunts.  We had a little bit of time to kill, so I showed her the super awesome dog park where we take Waffles and she got to admire little dogs in sweaters for a few.

We went to the second appointment and it was simply alright.  I really only liked one dress out of six and it was quite similar to the other one at Alfred Angelo, except more expensive and with a super awkward seam in the middle of the dress.  The store was also filled with lots of teenagers buying their prom dresses and if I have a group with me, sitting in chairs, because I have an appointment, I kind of get first dibs at the podium and the big mirrors.  I shouldn't have to stand to the side, in a wedding dress, waiting for hopeful prom queens to move from my spot.

(Seriously girls, move. Wedding trumps prom.)

It also irked me that another bridal party was offered champagne and we weren't.  The sales woman did her best and I left my contact information, but I won't be back.  Going to the second store that day really solidified that the other dress was it.

As soon as we left that appointment, I said the other dress was it.  All of my bridesmaids agreed and well, it's quite the feat if ten women all agree on something!

We headed to my favorite {pizza and pasta joint} for dinner where we met up with B and a few more friends.  Dinner was delicious and afterward, my mom and I headed back to Alfred Angelo to officially say yes to the dress.

I posted on social media that I'd said yes to the dress and I'm floored by how many people are genuinely excited about it.  I have such an amazing tribe. Thanks friends! 

Of course, we also watched the Cardinals defeat the Packers and I had a lot of loud words about that amazing ending.  


Because it's Vegas, we started our day with brunch at {Crepe Expectations}, which is another family owned shop and is amazing. My mom, B, and I each got our own savory crepe and shared a sweet one for dessert.  Because it's brunch, a white peach mimosa was also involved:

We then went to {Popped}, a gourmet specialty popcorn store that's conveniently right next to breakfast.  I've gone there for popcorn for baby showers and other events.  Thank goodness for their loyalty program!

We then headed to Green Valley Ranch for Bingo.  We'd never done it before, it was more expensive than I expected, and we won nothing.  I'd do it again, but not on a weekly basis.  We were the youngest in the room by decades and the woman next to us was loudly praying to the Holy Spirit that her husband would win.  That got old quite quickly.

Afterwards, we headed to Target to complete our wedding registry, then headed to {Cream}, a specialty ice cream parlor where you make your own ice cream sandwiches.  Or in B's case, ice cream taco!

Alas, after enjoying fine foods and wedding gowns, it was time to take my mom back to the airport.  I talk to her almost daily and we'll see her in March when we're down for a close friend's wedding, so the goodbyes aren't that hard when I know it's seven weeks until I see her again.

When we got home, I napped on the couch while B enjoyed his team (the Broncos) defeating the Steelers.  We both play next week and if both teams win, the Super Bowl will be incredibly awkward.  We already decided if it's a Broncos-Cardinals match up, we're watching separately, for the sake of our relationship.

The rest of Sunday was devoted to grading (I set a timer), laundry, and watching a movie.  Today we have off to celebrate Dr. King and my day will be spent grading and working on work stuff.  My bridal glow is dimming, thanks in part to reality.

Naturally, I have helpers for grading essays:

So I'll be heading to Panera soon since I'm clearly not going to be productive at home.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Photo shoot

Last weekend was a blur of finalizing report card comments and a family photo shoot.  My friend Chelsea organized a hair cutting fundraiser a few months ago and I won a photo shoot from an awesome local photographer.  Instead of using this for pictures of me, B, and Waffles, I decided to gift it to his mom as part of her Christmas gift.  She doesn't have any nice, formal pictures of the whole family and I thought she'd appreciate it.  (I was right).

I worked with the photographer and the rest of the family on coordinating dates, location, and a color scheme.  Since we had a relatively large group, I did end up having to pay a bit out of pocket for the shoot.  There were nine of us, so that made sense.  We went with an afternoon shoot at Calico Basin, in Red Rock, on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

The whole process took a little over an hour and the photographer had an amazingly fast turn around time.  B and I will probably be back to that location to shoot our one year anniversary pictures because it was gorgeous.

We'll be using shutterfly to order some gallery wrapped prints for his parents after his mom finalizes her choice.  I'll also be ordering a 5x7 print of this one:

(Photo credit: Kelsey Correa)

I was a little bummed that she didn't take more of just me and B, but then I realized this was about his mom, her mom, her two sons, the wives (or wifey to be in my case), and the grandkids.  We'll have our "just us" photo shoot in a few months at a super secret location.  We'll use those pictures in our save the dates, which should go out around Easter.  Our formal invitations will go out around Labor Day for our November wedding.

The photographer was also able to capture some sweet moments of my niece and nephew, as well as a four generation picture.  

This was my first experience doing a family photo shoot, period.  It was such a great experience and I can't wait to do this again with our future kids and family.


The search is over

It's official.

I said yes to the dress.  When my mom and I went back to purchase it and say yes, tears ensued.  Let's recap the experience.

Long before there was my sparkling ring on my left hand, I searched high and low on pinterest for potential dresses.  

I went to a bridal show a few months ago and won $50 off a dress, so I made my first appointment at Alfred Angelo.

My maids (the ones who were in town) and my future MIL went in the middle of December. I think I had "The ONE" and I tried it on.  It was okay, but wasn't it.  It was very sparkly in person, but I was told that wouldn't translate well to pictures. The top part was very structured (think vertical lines) and did not flatter my hour glass shape.  It's pretty...but it's not for me.  That was a little difficult to let go of the idea of that one, considering how many times I'd pinned it to my board and showed my maids. There were a few I liked and made a second appointment for the middle of January when my mom was coming up for the weekend.

We also popped into David's Bridal because it was literally right around the corner.  The sales woman stopped her previous appointment to greet us, which I didn't think was fair to the customers she was working with.  Since we came in with a large party, she must have saw dollar signs for her potential commission check.  She was incredibly pushy and insisted that I needed to try on and order a dress that day...for a wedding that was 11 months away.  I refused and said the walk in was to look at bridesmaid dresses.  She then argued with me that I needed to narrow down my fabric choices because giving my maids the option of mesh or chiffon would be devastating and ruin my wedding.  Some of the dresses my maids picked were discontinued and not able to be ordered, a simple fact that should have been disclosed before they zipped those dresses up.

Alas, I gave David's Bridal another shot by making an appointment in Arizona.  The second chance was also ruined.  The new consultant told me, over and over again, for an hour, that I was too curvy and dresses I liked (A line gowns) weren't available in my size.  Their locations service women size 0-30 and I'm right in the middle.  I was in tears, my maids got the managers involved, and I switched consultants.  The second consultant was better, but it's difficult to feel gorgeous and want to spend money on this once in a life time moment when you've heard, for an hour, that you're too large for what you like.  

Her lack of tact has been incredibly motivating for work's biggest loser weight loss challenge!

(These appointments were awful enough to warrant my first ever {Yelp Review}). 

Flash forward a few weeks.  My mom came up to visit and we had two appointments, one at Alfred Angelo (again) and a second at Celebrations, which came highly recommended.

I went into Alfred Angelo with eight styles in mind and ended up falling in love with a brand new one that was on the mannequin.  It wasn't on my list and was a little out of my budget, but that didn't matter.  I wanted a headpiece (instead of a tiara or a veil, because those reminded me of itchy mosquito nets) and because I bought an accessory, my dress was $400 off (SCORE!).  I tried on a few before I came to THE ONE.  I tried it on in white, but my amazing consultant pried the ivory one off the mannequin for me to try and that was it.  All seven of my maids, myself, my mom, and my future MIL agreed that it was it.  When ten women agree, that must mean something!

I said I'd think about it because I had a second appointment later that day and wanted to be sure.  They were gracious and completely understanding. 

(Second {Yelp Review} of the day regarding Alfred Angelo)

After running a few errands, I went to the second appointment.  The store was crowded and had lots of girls trying on prom dresses.  I had my entourage (my mom, my officiant/bridesmaid, and my future MIL) in the chairs and I had to wait for other girls to get off the podium so my party could see the wedding dresses.  Sorry teens, but wedding trumps prom.  There were also random customers who kept giving their feedback on my dress choices which was awkward and not appreciated.  I tried on a few that were quite similar to THE ONE, but were several hundred dollars more and did not fit as well.  I know alterations would occur, but one appeared to have a seam running horizontally across the middle of the dress, making it appear to be a top and a skirt.  For a two thousand dollar dress, that was a terrible decision.  The consultant was nice at the second appointment and I said I'd think about it, but I could tell from my entourage's faces that none of the dresses were it.

They kept asking how I felt and I said we'd talk about it at dinner because I didn't want to hurt the consultant's feelings.  The dresses were nice...but they didn't compare to THE ONE.

We had a lovely dinner at my friend Gina's parents' {restaurant} (and it was amazing, as always.  I very much enjoyed a cheat day filled with garlic knots, cannoli, pasta Susan, salad, and a slice of cheese pizza.)  From there, my mom and I went back and purchased the dress.  Tears ensued and it was a very special mother-daughter moment.

Naturally, I'm giving B a hard time regarding the dress.  I've told him it has feathers, sequins, puffy sleeves, a corset, and a hoop skirt.  None of this is true, but I'm enjoying teasing him.

I shared pictures with my hair stylist so she can start brainstorming ideas for the headpiece and how to compliment the dress's neckline (strapless, sweetheart).  I showed my aunts and my best friend's mom (because her parents graciously gave me money toward the dress as my wedding gift, which was another tear-inducing moment).  I showed a few close friends and am going to do my best to refrain from showing anyone else because I want it to be a surprise.  

Next up? Wedding shoes and bridesmaid jewelry...

One task at a time!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Looking Ahead...

2016 is shaping up to be the busiest year yet!  Besides you know, my own wedding (and bridal shower, bachelorette party, engagement pictures, and rehearsal dinner), there are lots of other events that are happening this year.  

I tend to self identify as a teacher first and a person second...and that script needs to be flipped.  One of my resolutions is to take care of myself first and prioritize me.

2016, as of right now, brings:

Olivia's Bridal Shower....this month! I RSVPed and am picking up her gift today.

3 weddings...I swear I can make my own TLC special!  Two are in March, are eight days apart, and in two different states.  Thank goodness the out of state one is on a Saturday that coincides with spring break so we'll be able to make it. The other is here and my academic coach at school is covering my class for the last hour and a half of the day so I can leave, shower, change, and be gorgeous for a late afternoon wedding.  This saves me from having to take a half day sub and save my sick days.  (If I use none, I get 4 personal days for next school year...which I'll need for my own wedding weekend!)  The last is over the summer and requires travel.  We'll budget and make it work.

The big 3-0...not for me! Both B and my bestie turn 3-0 this year, so epic celebrations will occur.  B's is in April and hers is in December.  Time to start planning.

Waffles turns 1!  Yes...she'll have a barkday party in March.  I'm not ashamed.  She'll get a massive bone and we'll go to the dog park.  Friends with pups are invited!

The cats turn 5! Yikes, my first fur babies are five.  They'll have a more low key celebration...meaning extra turkey snacks and ear scratches.

DENSI...maybe?  The date and location haven't been released yet (nor have I applied), but there's a possibility I'll be spending a week learning this summer...somewhere!

East Coast Winter...over President's Day, I'll be visiting my bestie at Yale.  I am not prepared for what this "winter" looks like in New England.  However, I have awesome work friends who are lending me winter attire since it appears a cardigan just won't do!

Escape Room!  We got a groupon for an escape room at our engagement shower and added six more people to it for Christmas gifts!  I'm looking forward to testing the bounds of friendship with the added stress of puzzles, competition, and time limits. 

As of right now, there are no pending baby showers on the horizon...unless any of my friends have something to share?

What's in store for you in 2016?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

...I was not ready

I wasn't ready for what this week brought in terms of classroom instruction.  Biggest Loser at work started, which meant a weigh in first thing Monday morning.  After eating like a queen for two weeks, that was a little devastating.  But there's only one way to go (and that's down in terms of weight loss!)  Going cold turkey on caffeine didn't help the week, but I'm just glad it's the weekend.


Almost every other teacher in the lounge spent Monday's lunch period praising how quiet their students were.  Mine? Mine came in noisy and we had to have not one, but three different reminder conversations to re-establish classroom norms.  The biggest struggle?  They wanted to talk over me when I was giving instructions.

I gave them catch up time with their tables after break.  We shared out as a group and welcomed one another back.  We spent Monday reviewing concepts learned before break.  We didn't start division with decimals until Tuesday, finished our novel The Lightning Thief,  made these adorable foldables for goal setting during writing time:

(A free download from a fellow TpT seller, available {here})  

Despite planning a relatively easy review day with fun activities, they were still extremely loud and a tad disrespectful.  I tried to shake it off and frame my thinking as they were having an adjustment period.  After two weeks without the classroom structure, some of them were a bit off in terms of behavior.

Monday ended with Battle of the Books and several more students dropping out.  I think they expected it to be's not.  They have 8 books (they have to read four) and will have to answer trivia questions.  It's a little disheartening that over half the students who initially signed up have quit.  

I'm also trying to be positive and keep in mind that it's the first year (in about eight) that we are competing.  Next year, hopefully, will be better.


Tuesday brought this surprise:

I requested a kit months ago and it finally arrived!  Inside is a teacher kit and enough track components to playfully test velocity, speed, force, and friction.  

Of course, my students wanted to play with it immediately.  I said we're finishing our social studies unit first, then will switch to science.  I explained that we needed to know science terms first and have some background because this wasn't for play time.  This was for science.  That explanation calmed a degree.


Wednesday was rough in terms of student behaviors, so instead I'll share two positives:

This was the view Wednesday morning from the playground of my school.  My phone doesn't do it justice.

We also had an IEP meeting where we exited the student from special education.  She made enough growth this year and met all of her individual goals.  This doesn't happen often and it was quite the cause for celebration.  Her dad cried tears of joy.


Surprisingly a super productive day, possibly due to afternoon prep.  I always seem to get so much crammed into the morning when I have three straight hours with them.  We conquer social studies, math, reading, and RTI block.

We also had a guest speaker, Ms. L, come in to talk about upstate New York.  She's a neighboring kinder teacher and my kiddos loved hearing about other places.  We'll have more guest speakers soon. I'm super blessed to be at a school where so many colleagues are willing to give up their prep periods to come talk to the fifth graders.  

 Half a dozen students stayed after school until 5 pm retaking summative assessments, since report cards are due next week.  That made for another long day, but I left when they did!


Friday morning, I learned some devastating news.  I thought I was at Masters +32, but I'm only at +29.  That means I need one more class by May for a substantial increase on the school district's pay scale.  Totally manageable.'s not.  We will be getting a new contract in March.  This does not count education credits the same way.  Since my previous 13 grad credits were completed before the new contract, they won't count toward advancement.  Since I didn't finish the last class before September of 2015 (because I had the goal of May, 2016, because that's when credits are due), I won't be earning the pay raise.  I was told "bummer" by the HR representative, that there's a tentative appeal process, but that I should be pleased the last class I'm taking will count as 15 hours on the new payscale.  15 of the 225 I'll need for salary advancement. 

I tried to keep back the tears because nothing is set in stone.  Still, it's hard to feel valued as a teacher when I'm so completely screwed over by my employer.  Let me make that clear: my school is amazing.  My school district is disappointing.

Behaviors escalated.  I wrote two citations on Friday.  One student did nothing during math time, then when confronted, tried to say it was my fault because he didn't have a pencil.  He didn't ask to sharpen a pencil, nor did he ask to borrow one.  He just decided to assume I'd so no and that it was better to sit and do nothing, then try to say it was my fault.  This nonsensical back talk is not needed.  I flat out told him it was his fault, to accept responsibility, and stop trying to place blame on others.  He then continued to be rude and argumentative.  After lunch (and the fourth hallway conversation), he once again tried to tell me it was my fault he was talking to another student because I wasn't clear with my directions.  Holding back laughter, I flat out asked how "separate, find a different partner, and stop talking when I'm talking" could possibly be misunderstood.  Again, instead of apologizing, he spat arguments and attitude, so  was removed to another classroom.   A second student, who'd tried to pull the fire alarm earlier in the week, wrote "thug life" all over the thank you card I wrote his mom, and was absent two days, decided to back talk our new paraprofessional (support staff, or teacher's aide).  They were outside reading and she shushed him because it was reading time.  He shushed her right back and when confronted, claimed she started it and refused to apologize.  

Needless to say, I left school at the bell on Friday.

The weekend

I cranked out a 41 page report in a little over twenty four hours.  I worked for two hours on Friday and wrote the rest this morning.  It's being peer reviewed before being sent into the district.  I also finished my report card comments (27 pages)...all without the help of caffeine.  If I could bottle that type of productivity and have it constantly, I'd be unstopable.  When I needed a break, I turned to chores.  The Christmas tree is now un-decorated and put away, along with all the other winter decor.  Laundry also got folded and put away, in addition to making a new crockpot meal and cleaning the house.

Then I took a well deserved nap.

Tomorrow brings family pictures with B's side, working on a regions powerpoint, and finishing grading retakes.  This week brings a lot of different activities...but I'm counting down until Thursday night when my mom arrives for the weekend!

How was your first week back? Hopefully less traumatic than mine!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

I'm ready, I think...

I woke up early this morning with the admirable intention of working on the next region for social studies, which is slated to start in about two weeks.  I poured myself a bowl of cereal, made a mimosa, and gave it a good thirty minutes worth of effort.

But then I decided that no, this wasn't how I was going to spend my last day of winter break. 

Instead, I went back to bed for a leisurely two hour nap.  From there, I tried out my new make up and had a nice long lunch with B, his cousin, and her husband at Buffalo Wild Wings.  We stayed for the whole Cardinals-Seahawks game (tough loss today) and had appetizers, our meal, and dessert.  Since my school is doing Biggest Loser starting tomorrow (which I fully intend to win), I viewed this weekend as Mardi Gras.  We lived it up food-wise.  But tomorrow, the healthy choices start.  Now, don't get me wrong, there will be cheat days, but I'm aiming for good choices 90% of the time.  There's also healthy, friendly competition at work, so that'll be a great motivating factor.

As for that whole work thing...

(This is what my admin posts on Facebook.  They're amazing.)

 My lesson plans are ready. I have a to do list for the morning detailing both what I must do and what I should do if there's time (an important distinction in the world of teaching).  I just cut up pineapple chunks for my water bottle and have a crock pot meal picked out to make in the morning. I think I know what I'm wearing and it's supposed to rain, so there's no point in straightening my hair. I've got a game plan and am only focusing on Monday. I've got Battle of the Books after school, then will enter writing grades.  

I read this {awesome article} this evening:

Then found this online:


I'm ready to start the new year on a positive note.  Who's with me?

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, New Goals

Welcome, 2016.

I have some big goals for you.  Twelve in fact, so let's get started on this new year.

1) Make healthier life choices.  

I'm competing in my school's "biggest loser" competition, so I'm enjoying my last weekend of glorious, fattening foods.  Starting Monday, healthier habits will ensue.  I'll be giving up soda.  We'll be cooking more at home and eating dinner before six pm.  There will be less chips and more veggies and fruits.  I'll hit my 10,000 steps a day and Waffles will get more walks.  When we're watching television, we'll do stretches and lift on commercials.  Smaller, healthier changes are in store for both of us. Both financial gain (biggest loser) and appearance (hello wedding dress in November) are huge motivators.

2) Be more the kitchen.

Anyone who knows me knows I hate cooking. I hate it.  I always come up with a variety of excuses (it's hard to cook for one, I hate left overs, it's time consuming, etc).  So, we're taking baby steps to counter act this.  B and I will be trying one new recipe each week.  We're starting with some crock pot meals and branching out from there.  We're planning ahead and making grocery lists, together.  

3) Be more organized.

I wrote about my first steps towards organization {earlier} and am looking forward to making small, purposeful changes.

4) Work smarter

Just small tweaks at work will make a huge difference.  First, I'm going to print out rosters for each subject.  Second, I'm stapling answer keys to the back of the rosters.  Third, I'm setting a timer.  I work best in the morning, so that's when I'll complete my tasks.  Instead of grading at night, I'll grade in the morning.  I wake up early enough to be able to set aside an hour before work each day (if needed) and still have time to get ready.  I need to shut my door and be more focused when I'm at work. I'll never get everything done...and that's okay.

5) Stop Comparing Myself to Others

This one is self explanatory, but crucial.  I'm not like my coworkers and I'm only in competition with myself. 

6) Read more

I've got five more books for Battle of the Books by April, but I also want to make sure I'm taking time for myself to read each day.  I've got a stack of books that I'm dying to dive into!

7) Take more "me" and "we" time...without feeling guilty

There's a running club at school I'd like to visit after school on Wednesdays.  Some of my students are in it, so I think it'd be a nice way to build up a relationship with them.  I also want to limit technology time and do more fun stuff as a couple, not just simultaneously work on things in the same room and call it together time.  I'm also giving myself permission to leave work on time and do fun things on the weekend.  For me, this means craft time, nap time, and reading.  For B, his "me" time is soft ball (which I'll try to go to more games) and video games.  We also want to go hiking and do more couple activities with friends.

8) Focus on the right people

I set ridiculously high expectations for myself.  I often invest too much energy and emotion into friendships, which when not reciprocated, leaves me devastated.  So this year, to the best of my ability, I will not focus on those that don't want to be my friend and instead cultivate the relationships that matter.

9) Work Less, Live More

As a teacher, I far exceed forty hours a week.  With three side businesses ({Teacherspayteachers}, {Jamberry}, and {Younique}), I often feel pulled in several directions at once.  I'm going to set small, purposeful goals and then spend the rest of my time doing things I want to do.  Sure, I'd like to hit promotions within my small businesses, but I'm also not willing to be that annoying, crazy sales lady.  I hope my friends know that I'm all about girl time, mimosas, and bonding.  Essentially, my business motto is this: If you want pretty nail wraps or make up, let me know!  If you're just here for the brownies, that's cool too.

10) Fiscal Responsibility

News flash: weddings are expensive.  I'm blessed to have help from my mom, B's family, and loved ones.  While we're both seizing opportunities for overtime, I think we need to curtail our spending.  Part of this will come from planning ahead for meals, so we aren't tempted to pick up take out on the way home.  Part of this means focusing on big expenses (security door, new couch, new bedroom set, new flooring, vacations, and so forth) rather than short term items.  We're couponing (thank you Cartwheel app!) and B's been doing a better job of comparing the prices of items, rather than just grabbing something off the shelf.  In 2015, we paid off our new dishwasher, our security door, a new water heater, his wedding band, and his truck.  We'll have our credit cards paid off in February and my car will be paid off before the wedding.  I'm already funding my 403b at work on a monthly basis, but I'd like to be more serious about funding my Roth IRA and saving for the future.  Luckily, most of our friends are feeling a bit poor after the holidays (you know, like the rest of the country) so we're all in this fiscal responsibility thing together!

11) Find more joy

Teaching, at times, is the most disappointing of careers.  There's a lot of politics involved and I'm not paid enough, plain and simple.  But instead, I'm going to focus on cultivating joy and authentic learning experiences in the classroom.  

This extends outside of work.  I'm excited about my wedding.  But there's lots between now and November to be thrilled about as well.  Waffles will turn one in March and have a Barkday celebration.  The cats will turn five in April (how did that happen?), B and my bestie both turn 30 (uh oh!).  I've got two other weddings (that I know of...), engagement shower(s)?, and engagement pictures.  We bought our close friends an escape room ticket, so a group of 8 of us will be doing that soon. 

I want to make my weekends mean something, and that means adding more joy (and less work) into my life.

12) Use the internet with intention

We've all been there.  I sit down to check facebook real quick, but then I'm reading things I don't need to.  I'm checking up on what other people are doing instead of living my own life.  Then pinterest calls, and soon enough, an hour has gone by with nothing to show.  The internet is crucial, but I want to set time limits and use it with intention.  A large part of this means to stop multi-tasking.  Yes, it seems counter productive, but I need to focus.  If I'm working on a region ppt, I should have open ppt and only internet tabs related to what I'm working on.  It seems simple enough and ties right in with working smarter.

What are your goals for this new year?

Goal One: Organization

It's a new year and for most of us, that means new resolutions and a fresh start.

I'm not quite ready to sift through my thoughts in terms of resolutions, but I will share one:

Be more organized.

I struggle, at times, to stay organized.  I have the best intentions, but follow through can be tricky.  I'm working on it!

But, I've already made a few significant gains in this area!

First, I bought a {new calendar} and put all the crucial dates on it (math trainings, days off, our wedding, and so forth). 

More importantly, I showed B where it is (same place as last year) and asked him to write his extra commitments on it instead of just telling me.  I also made sure pens are nearby, so there's no excuse!

There were lots of cute options, but I went with the cheapest and smallest...still fun! I'm trying to be considerate of his feelings and not have polka dots on everything we own...

I think part of my struggle with calendars and planners is which option to go with.  It seems silly, but it's a debate in my mind each year if I want to organize my life from January to December or August to July.  I think I've finally settled on January through December for the house, and August to July for my school calendar.  I always tend to fall in love with new planners in January, but I'm not going to get a new one for half of a school year.

Teacher problems, people!

Also, I realized my gift wrapping containers were getting a little full, which brings me to my second area of organization: the guest bedroom.

See, I save gift bags and reuse them.  I stock up on gift bags and wrapping paper after the holidays when it's on sale.  I'm also not ashamed to snag cute bags when they're on sale, because I hate spending full price on wrapping supplies.

So, yesterday I bought this gem at Target (save $5 when you spend $25!)

...and used it to organize my gift wrapping supplies this morning.  The top drawer has gift labels (which I love finding cute options in the Dollar Spot), the middle is assorted tissue paper, and the bottom is for bags and gift boxes.  

The whole project took about ten minutes, but I feel so much better now!

Task three: the fridge

After returning from vacation, we threw away left overs and half-used jars (mostly sauces).  I looked up new crockpot recipes on pinterest, made a grocery list, and we went shopping.  We're trying to eat healthier and try new foods (more on those resolutions later), so this was the first step.

Our fridge is not packed full of food.  There is what we plan to eat for the next few days and lots of fresh fruits (bananas, pineapple) and veggies.  We stocked our freezer and pantry, but the fridge will be about half full.  We want to do a better job at making sure we eat what we buy.

I'll spend the next few days slowly putting Christmas and winter decorations away.  I'll tidy up the house as I go.  My desk at work is a little scary when I think about it, but that's a Monday morning problem!

I'm excited to start the year organized!  

What are some of your new years resolutions?