Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Review

Wow, 2013 was quite a year and I can safely say it has been the best year of my life! Here's a few highlights ...

  • First of all... I got engaged to the man of my dreams! Bill makes everything make sense. He makes me laugh and truly makes me a better person. I am so lucky to have him and cannot wait to call him my husband after July 19, 2014 (yes, we picked a date!)

  • I graduated with my Master's degree in teaching in May! In 2010 I decided to change careers from merchandising and retail management to education. This was a risky move and I doubted my decision many, many times but now I can safely say that I know I made the right decision and am much happier with my work life than I have ever been! 

  • About a month after graduating, I got a teaching position in a suburb of Des Moines! This accomplishment was so hard and I do not go a day without feeling blessed and thankful. There are so many AMAZING teachers out there looking for jobs right now. 

  • My sister and I parted ways after living together for THREE years. We never thought we would live together that long, but we did and although we had our ups and downs, we ultimately grew much closer after living together as adults. Some days I really miss living with her!
That is about it! Although I didn't take any vacations in 2013, I kept very busy and I am looking forward to what 2014 holds for me! Here's a preview to my 2014...

A wedding, a honeymoon (hopefully!), moving in with my husband (may happen before we are husband and wife), my first summer break as a teacher,  and beginning a new school year with a new name. 


Did you write a 2013 recap? I would love to read it! Leave a comment and I will do my best to visit your space and read about your year!! 

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Club Friday + a tiny update

Hello, hello!

It is an icy Friday here in central Iowa and shockingly, school is delayed two hours! I have grown up in this area and have NEVER seen a two hour delay! Everyone is pretty surprised, but I am proud of that decision. Better safe than sorry!

This week has been the loooongest week eeeevvver. Maybe the fourth graders are rubbing off on me? I don't think so though, because usually the weeks fly by and by the time it is Thursday, I am scratching my head in awe that the week is already almost over. This week, however, that did not happen. I think I am just overly excited about the long break.

I will be doing a lot of work over the break though... My to do list is pretty lengthy with things I want to get graded, lessons I want to differentiate, and junk I need to get organized.

We leave for Spencer tonight, which is a 3 hour drive to NW Iowa, and we will be there until Christmas Day. I haven't packed yet, and I have some cleaning I need to do, but laying in bed a little while longer and blogging beat out all of that stuff. :)

Today I am going to link up with Heather for Book Club Friday and tell you about an AMAZING book that has been on my radar for awhile that I read over the Thanksgiving break.

The book is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

This book, oh my, this book... I cannot even begin... I loved it so much. I heard someone else compare it to Twilight, but I just .... cannot .... even do that...

ADOW is so much smarter than Twilight, and much sexier in a very subtle and classy way. This book has a similar plot to Twilight, but the plot is developed further and an example of writing that just leaves me in awe of the stories that phenomenal writers have floating in their heads and their ability to take those stories and put them on paper for others to enjoy.

This book wasn't historical fiction, but it wasn't just fantasy either. There was some European history weaved into this story that made it so interesting and magical. I was impressed with the the research that Harkenss must have put into this and/or the knowledge she possesses of a continent so old and rich in history. 

Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

See? You have to read this. The recommendation for this book came from my Dad, and I resisted for awhile because it is a very large book (over 500 pages) but once I got started, the pages flew for me. It read very quickly and is one of those books that is on your mind when you're not reading, and all you can think about is when you can go settle in again with Diana and Matthew. 

I need to start listening to my Dad more. He is the one that pushed me to read Harry Potter and now this ... I think he knows what he's talking about. ;) 

ADOW is a trilogy, and the first and second books have been out for awhile now. The third book comes out in July. I picked up a copy of the second book at Half Price Books the same week I was reading the first one, but I am actually considering waiting until closer to July to read it... I am worried I will be impatient and want the third NOW if I read the second too soon.... 

We'll see if I can resist reading it. It's been on my nightstand since the day I purchased it so I look at it everyday. ;) 

What have you read lately that has blown you away?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A post about crying.

Dear Blogworld,

I have a confession. I am a crier.

I cry when I'm sad, mad, glad, embarrassed, stressed...  it is just the way the emotion comes out, I guess. The problem is, I really hate this about myself. I have tried to come to terms with it, and I have even tried to change it. Heck, I am still trying to change it!

I think I need to learn to accept this about myself, though.

I told myself back in August that I WOULD NOT cry at school in front of my grade level team (or, anyone for that matter). Now that I am in my fourth month of teaching, I look back and realize that I really set myself up for failure with that goal. I have cried in front of both of the other two fourth grade teachers and one first grade teacher. Pretty sure I will add more to that list before June, too.

I really don't think crying is that big of a deal, it is just how emotion comes out of me, but ... it's embarrassing. It's especially embarrassing when the final straw that makes me cry, is something minute. For example... 

Today we had a shortened day and were out at 3:10 (as we are every Wednesday) and in the afternoon all the fourth grade teachers had a professional development to attend about our new reading system, so we had subs in the afternoon. Every little thing had been wearing on me and stressing me out beyond belief, and before I knew it, I was crying.

Today, I burst into tears (ok, burst is a little dramatic. Teared up...) because my mentor teacher told me not to bring a lunch, that we would all stop at Subway on the way there and eat at the beginning of the meeting. Come to find out, right before leaving for the meeting, both of the other teachers brought their lunch to eat in the car on the way. I was annoyed because I was worried I would be one of the only people eating lunch at this meeting.

See? Dumb.

It didn't help that my sub didn't show up and I was stressing over that too... My sub was supposed to be there at 11:30, so she could take my kids to lunch at 11:40 and I had to be at the meeting across town at 12pm. At 11:40 when the sub wasn't there, one of the other teachers told me to go and she would take care of the class for me so I would have time to stop...

This year is really no joke. There is just. so. much. that. is. new.  It really is very wearing. Not to mention my district has adopted a new reading system, so all of the teachers are trying to navigate that and nothing is set and it just seems chaotic and unorganized ... it's just... yeah.

Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I feel so so so blessed to have it. I am not entertaining ideas of not coming back after summer or looking for another job. Nothing like that at all. I want to stay where I am at, but I want the constant lump in my throat to go away. I want the feeling of being able to help other people to come back. I want to know what I am doing and not constantly ask others for help. I want the unknown to be the known again. I always kind of scoffed at teachers that said their first year they almost had a nervous breakdown, but.... I get it. I really get it now.

Are you a crier? Have you ever cried at work or are you one of those freaks of nature that can hold it and save the tears for when you are safely at home? If so, what is your secret?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Intentions

After reading Kelly's Music, Books, Looks and Miles recap for November, I got a little inspired to set some intentions for myself in December. Kelly really inspires me, because she is a teacher that does a great job at setting aside time for her own personal hobbies such as reading and working out. Teaching does not consume her like it does so many people. I am trying very hard not to be one of those people.

Granted, this is my first year of teaching and everyone says the first year is the hardest and, as far as I can tell, that is definitely true. Not only am I learning a new job, new colleagues and a new setting, but I am also learning content before I teach it. You're probably thinking, "you teach fourth grade, what do you mean you're learning content?!" I mean, yes, I am learning academic content. Especially in the areas of science, social studies and math. Tomorrow we begin a unit on Russia. So, what do you think I did all Thanksgiving break? If you said, "studied Russia," than you would be right... So far this year I have also taught a unit on mystery powders (kids study the reactions of 6 different powders when exposed to water, heat, vinegar, bromethymal blue (btb) and iodine), and a unit on the glaciers of the Ice Age in the Midwest. And math? Let's not get started. Math is taught differently these days. No wonder parents are so flipping confused when kids bring home their homework! I really need to stop myself from thinking about how "great next year will be" because I will have taught all of this stuff once before.

So, anyway, I'll stop cause I could just keep going!

I wanted to set some intentions for the next three weeks until winter break. I know the three weeks are going to fly by, but I want to get better at taking care of myself while also in my first year of teaching. Overall, I think I am doing a great job, but I know I can do better. I am nowhere near a nervous breakdown, as I have heard some teachers say about their first year of teaching, but I am letting it consume me some days.

Here is where I would like to improve.

Books: My reading time has been reduced significantly and that is probably not going to change much, but I want to finish 5 books in the month of December. Yep, FIVE. Sounds a little crazy, but with 11 days in a row off of work just in the month of December, I should be able to knock some books off my TBR shelf.

Blogging: I really miss blogging. Many of my friends that I have made through blogging I keep in touch with other ways, such as texting, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but there are a few people that I haven't talked with very much and I miss the daily contact!

Looks: Create 5 new looks from items currently in my wardrobe and document them. I am trying to take pictures of my daily outfits so that when I claim I "have nothing to wear" I can look through that photo album and hopefully be inspired.

Miles: My running motivation is pretty non-existent right now. I ran on Thanksgiving day when I woke up randomly with the itch to run, but other than that I hardly ran at all in November. I would like to change that and run at least 30 miles in December. Doesn't seem like much, and I debated about setting it at 50 miles, but I don't want to set myself up for failure. I would also like to make it to a yoga class 5 times this month and strength train 5 times (once a week).

Wedding: Set a date.

What are you goals for December?