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?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Some good news...

Hello, friends!

Things have been exciting around these parts because... I am officially engaged! Two weeks ago Bill popped the question and I said yes!

 I kinda hate pictures like this (and I refused to put one on FB, but I was sure quick to get one up on Instagram lol) but I know you all wanna see the rock! I would...

 So, here's the story:

Back in September while in Ames for the Iowa/Iowa State game, Bill and I began to talk about getting married and it was there that we decided that we would get married and basically became engaged to become engaged. I told him I wanted him to pick out the ring though. He happily agreed (I swear, we're made for each other)

I've always pictured myself being surprised by a proposal and having NO idea what the ring looks like. That is exactly what happened! Although I wasn't surprised that he popped the question, I was however surprised that night because I was expecting him to ask me what I liked before he went shopping. He didn't do that. Instead, he shopped on his own and then went to my friends to get his purchase approved (he's a keeper, and he's all miiiiine!) My friends approved of the ring and knew the actual proposal was coming for over two weeks and they kept the secret! They're the best. :)

He did such a good job picking out a perfect ring for me. I love a princess cut, and I love the thick band and simplicity of this ring. It is perfect for my personality and perfect for us.

Here I am the night we got engaged. I totally forgot he took this picture until I started going through my phone for pictures for this post!

The night he asked was a random Monday night. He texted me around 5pm and asked if I wanted to go get sushi. I was still at school and almost said no because I had so much left to do in regards to report cards and getting ready for conferences (which were the following week), but after about two minutes I decided report cards could wait, and I had done enough that day. I wanted to spend time with Bill.

We ate sushi, then made a random Trader Joe's run for some wine he wanted to pick up and surprised me by picking up a bouquet of flowers for me as well (first clue!). When we got back to my place, while still in his truck, he hands me a bottle of jewelry cleaner. I looked at him like he was nuts and asked him 1. Why does he have jewelry cleaner and 2. Where did he get it?!

All he said was that he just thought I could use it since I just had a Lia Sophia party and I had new jewelry that might need cleaning.

Umm, okay?

My boyfriend is kinda random sometimes, so I just accepted the gift and began to head inside.

On our way up to my door he made a comment about how long we've been together now and started to make a joke about how maybe he should break up with me. I hate those kind of jokes so I kind of cut him off, stormed inside, grabbed Zeke to let him out for a bit. While I was out there with Zeke I began to put it together .... and began to think, uh oh...

I walked back in and he was standing there at the door and says, "I would like to finish my joke..." (haha). Then he says, we've been together 15 months, so ...  I suppose it's either time to break up with you or .... marry you. At this moment he pulled out the ring. It was also at this moment that I feel fuzzy about what was said, and now both him and I remember it differently!!

Sounds like a mean joke, but I think you would need to know Bill and his sense of humor...

I think I was in shock for a little bit. Well, maybe not shock... but, something that rendered me speechless, because I didn't say anything for awhile. In fact, I don't think I ever said yes! I assume my hug and kiss said it all though!

He says the first thing I did was say, "I need to text my mom!" I don't think so though... I can't really remember! It's all kinda blurry! Now I totally see why some people have this moment recorded!! I am glad it was just us though. It was private and just perfect. :)

Celebrating with my group of girlfriends Friday night! This group, in addition to my sister and my childhood best friend who lives in New Mexico, will hopefully be my bridesmaids. :)

We have not gotten far in wedding planning (rightfully so, it's only been two weeks) but we have narrowed down when it WON'T be... August, September, October and November are all a no because of other weddings in our group of friends, vacations already planned, school ... etc. Right now we are debating between May (eeek, I know!) and December. Quite the difference... I know. It will all work itself out though. :) 

I am so happy though, and after watching so many friends meet the man of their dreams and get married, I am so excited to finally have my turn. He makes all of the heartache in the past seem worth it and I cannot wait to call him my husband. ;) 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An overdue update....

Well, hello there! 

Remember me? It's only been... ummmm, almost 2 months since I last posted, but who's counting?! Ha!

I know this is hardly unexpected, but this post will be the classic bullet style. You're welcome. ;)

  • School is awesome! I love my kids. I love my team. I love my school. I love my district. I love my parents... are you gagging yet? Cause I might be. ;) Seriously though, I feel incredibly blessed and I thank my lucky stars everyday. I can see myself staying at this school for many, many years (many of the teachers that are there, have done just that. One of my colleagues has been there 25 years) and I just feel ... blessed. I cannot think of a better word.
  • On the flip side, school has kept me busier than I have EVER been in my entire life. There is hardly ANY time to get anything done. And, just when you think you have time, something comes up. Every. Single. Time. There has not been a weekend that I have not spent in my room at least some time, but I knew this going into this profession and I was mentally prepared for it. I know next year will probably be easier.
  • So, a little about my "kids" (no, I don't call them kiddos, but I do call them my kids). I have 28 students. Four special ed, 5 ELP (talented and gifted) and everything in between. I have a BUSY class. In fourth grade kids have the option of playing an instrument for the first time and there are kids coming and going A LOT due to this and all of the other services they may receive. It is A LOT to keep track of. 
  • I am trying hard to be TOUGH with them. For example, today they spent 100 seconds of their recess at their desks with their heads down (doesn't sound like much, but any recess missed is enough for them to learn some sort of lesson... lol). Some spent longer because they did not turn in homework. I feel like a mean parent, but I know this is what it takes... It doesn't make it any easier though! I just keep telling myself, it isn't MY choice, so I shouldn't feel bad. 
  • Bill and I are still doing GREAT. He has been my rock this past year and I honestly am afraid of what I would look like without him. A giant stress ball, probably. 
  • I am still running. Miraculously, I have turned into a morning runner. I get up most days around 5am and run or workout. This is my stress reliever and I know my body needs it. I am so glad I was able to nail this habit because it has done so much for me mentally. 
  • In October I am running the Des Moines Half Marathon again and next week I am running Capital Pursuit (10 miles). Sometimes the training stresses me out (especially this week), but I know deep down I would be worse off without it. 
  • This weekend I am moving back into a one bedroom apartment again. For the past three years my sister and I have lived together (and for the past 2, her boyfriend has joined us) and although I have really loved growing closer to my sister (we were not close growing up) I am really ready to live like an adult again. 
  • If you would like to follow my classroom twitter, I would love to have you! @msjohnson4j
  • Well, that's about it! Please update me on your life and hopefully I can make it to your blog soon to say hi! :) 
Miss you all! 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tour in the Heartland

I wrote this post on Sunday and meant to put photos in and then post on Monday. Obviously that did not happen because somehow it is already Wednesday evening and this post is still sitting in my drafts. Better late than never! :) 

Ahhh! What a fun weekend I had! Just what I needed after most of July being a bummer.

Friday after getting off work, Bill and I headed about 2 hours north to Clear Lake, Iowa to see a couple of 80s bands play at The Surf Ballroom. Due to The Surf being historic, the entire weekend turned into a mini history tour and I LOVED it!

Why is The Surf historic, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

The Surf is the last place that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens (lalalalalalala bamba!) and the Big Bopper played before they met their untimely death in a tragic plane crash in 1959. I was always aware that these three musicians died in Iowa in a plane crash, but I did not realize the details. It was very sad!

The day after the concert (Saturday) Bill and I, plus his hilarious family which included his uncle and cousins, deemed the day "Adventure Day" because on the way up to Clear Lake Bill asked me if I had to be back to DSM before Monday and I said no. After that he suggested going on an "adventure" (which means, "let's go do something other than go home) and I latched on to this idea and would NOT let it go. Ha!

Everything we did was "adventure!" What can we say, we like to make things fun cause we're fun people! :)

Saturday morning, Bill and I woke up, went on a nice 4 mile jog around the lake area (one of the only runs I have ever done with Bill because he is faster than me) and then headed back to his grandma's house to get ready and head over to his uncles house for lunch. After lunch, we were trying to decide what to do and it came out that his uncle had never seen the crash site! We all decided then and there that it was absolutely NECESSARY that we go see it!

After some gravel roads, a few detours and then a walk through fields (surprisingly not a cornfield!) we found the site!

Marking the trail to go to the actual site is a statue of Buddy Holly's glasses. After posing with them, we made our way about a quarter of a mile through the field to the site. The sky was absolutely gorgeous with big fluffy clouds meeting farm fields on the horizon

The actual site was a little anti-climactic and we were disappointed that there wasn't something a bit more memorializing than glorified garbage! There was cheap movie theater 3d glasses, beer cans, credit cards, latex gloves, coins, t-shirts... just random crap! You can tell some people left nice things like flowers, but most of it was junky and gross. There were four small headstone type things that someone left (a fourth for the pilot), and those were nice. We couldn't leave without a few tears shed from Bill and his uncle... it was very traumatic for these two old(er) men. :)

After leaving the site, Bill's family decided I need a more appropriate tour of Clear Lake because I had never been there, so we headed down to the beach and park area and found a small art festival going on. So, we looked around for awhile, and resisted our urge to buy stuff! I was SO close to buying a spoon ring, but ultimately resisted since I am on a strict no spending freeze! 

After leaving the festival, we checked out a new meat shop called Louie's Customer Meats and More, where we bought some bacon and hamburgers to head home and grill bacon burgers. Gosh, I wish I had taken more pictures of the food we ate, because we ate WELL this day. Grilled chicken for lunch accompanied with corn (what else?) and enough cheese, crackers and summer sausage before the meal to last us a long while, then grill bacon burgers for dinner. Mmmm, it was all so delish!

Oh, and I didn't mention the ice cream we stopped and got while their cousin was working! This day was so indulgent, lol! Good thing we got in a run at the beginning of the day...

The rest of the day and night we just laid around, relaxing, talking, reading (well, I was the only one reading. I'm weird) and playing games until it was time for Bill and I to head back to DSM. We got home pretty late, but it didn't bother me one bit because we had such a good day! I had so much fun with his family and in a new part of Iowa that I quickly fell in love with!

Do you have friends that can make everything fun and never seem bored? I am so grateful to have found a guy that seems to do just that. He makes everything a good time! :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mid Summer Update

Hello, hello! It has been quite awhile since I have posted. I am still very unsure of where I want this space to go in the future, but for now I hope that you are following me via Twitter, Instagram and even Facebook. I tend to update those accounts regularly, so please feel free to follow me or request me as a friend. :)

I am not going to lie, July has had its ups and downs. Well, I should say ups and one down. That down being that I have been sick all month. Literally, I have been sick the entire month so far. In late June I started to come down with something and had the basic sore throat, stuffed up sinuses and cough. I tried to remedy it on my own (as I usually successfully do) and it did not work. On July 4th I was in urgent care and just miserable. I ended up having bronchitis and spent my 4th of July holiday week IN BED. They gave me amoxicillin and it did NOTHING. Five days later I called back and said I thought I needed the Zpack, which I have never taken before, but knew it would be effective. Thank god I did that because the Zpack did wonders right before I went on vacation to Miami. I was so close to canceling my trip and I am so thankful that I didn't!

My girlfriends and I went on a vacation to Miami, and it was fantastic! We spent hours sitting on the beach soaking up sun and it was just what I needed. I was still blowing my nose and drinking Alka Seltzer like it was my job, but I still had a fantastic time and cannot wait to go back!

My friend Kristi and I doing a jumping pic... I have some work to do before I master the art form of the "jumping pic" :-/ 
I totally ordered pizza on the beach. It sounded good! 
 View from the jetty at the very end of South Beach. I still cannot get over how clear the water was!

Other things that have been going on ... I got into my classroom and did some work. Yes, I got a job! I am the newest fourth grade teacher in a suburban district and a school very close to where I live. I am SO excited and feel so fortunate and blessed!

The main entrance of my building. I love how my school is tucked back behind houses, if you didn't know it was there, nobody would have any idea! :) 
This is where I will spend a ton of time for the next year! I have a lot of work to do, but I could not be more excited! 
 I am so proud of this book collection that I have been collecting for the past two years!

I am juggling three jobs. Yes, three. I am still at the agency and am still on call status so I am choosing my shifts and hours (which, is SO nice). Two days a week I also nanny (ok, babysit) for a friend of my boyfriends from his running group and I the other three days I am working for another friend of a friend that runs an in-home daycare and wanted to move up a level, for which she needed someone with a teaching degree. She has anywhere between 13-17 kids a day and they are ALL under the age of 5... I (lovingly) refer to it as "Toddler Town" because ... well... it IS! I love it :)

I wish I could post pics, but I just cannot because this blog is not private. If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or even Facebook you will see some pictures of my newest friends under the age of 6 :)

Things with Bill have been going great and our one year anniversary is coming up! I can hardly believe it. That year has flown by and I am so grateful to have him in my life :)
 A little grainy, but this is us at the Art Festival a few weeks ago

I am not sure what will happen with this space. Only time will tell! In the mean time, tell me how your summer has been going! What has been most memorable so far? For me, it has definitely been Miami and setting up my classroom :)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Dam to Dam 2013 Recap!

My one year running anniversary has come and gone, and I now have two Dam to Dam 20k's under my belt!

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4am, and I got up without hitting the snooze to get ready and be out the door by 4:40 to head to Bill's and then head to Merle Hay where our bus would take us to Saylorville lake and drop us off at the dam to only run back to another dam in the downtown area...

(See those buildings on the horizon?? That's where we're running to...)

Last week I mentioned that I had some super secret goals that I was hoping to accomplish with this race. Sadly, I did not accomplish either of them. I wanted to run the entire time, and I wanted to finish within 2:30, which would be a 12:00 minute pace. 

I would post my splits, but Runkeeper went pretty haywire for the last half and the app thinks I ran over 13 miles (the race was 12.4) so my splits are pretty inaccurate - perhaps it is time for a Garmin?? Here are my first 6 miles, which look like they're right. 

Mile 1 - 10:46
Mile 2 - 10:27
Mile 3 - 11:11
Mile 4 - 11:36
Mile 5 - 12:11
Mile 6 - 12:29

I know I got started too fast. I have never held a pace in the ten minute range, and although I could feel myself going too fast, I just couldn't make myself slow down. Maybe this is why I hit a wall at mile 9-10 and just did not want to run anymore?? 

My final time was 2:39, 9 minutes slower than what I was hoping for, but it was an 11 minute PR from last year. So, success! Although I did not run 100% of this race, I did run for about 90%, which is much better than what I did last year.

(Bill and I right before heading up to the dam and beginning the race)

Overall, it was a good race. I had fun, I ran a lot and beat my time from last year. I think that if I am this concerned with time, I need to start working on that. I have not worked on speed at all, so I think I need to start figuring out what my goals really are now, since they have obviously changed a little bit from last year! 

Next up for me is a half marathon with See-Us Run Des Moines and then probably the Des Moines Half Marathon in October. Other than long distance races, I am doing a 5k next weekend at the zoo! Can't wait for that :) 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Meals, Miles, Books and Looks of May

Wow, how is it May 31st and I am done with student teaching, my master's degree and am looking for a job?? Time freakin' flies.

I always notice awesome recap posts from a lot of my favorite bloggers, but for some reason the beginning and ending of months always seem so busy for me, and blogging is on the backburner. Not today!

I'm subbing at a middle school, and the end of the year is c-r-a-z-y. I found myself praying that they would be watching a movie as I drove in today. Instead of a movie, I got the next best thing. They're playing with ipads! I will take it.

Plus, it's a half day, so I'm off at 11:30. This means I can meet my dear friend, Lesli for lunch since she is in town today!

Anyway, on to my recap. I'm going to do this recap Lisa style and reflect on meals, miles, books and looks of May.

Last night was our May Books n' Bars meeting and we met at a new(ish) restaurant downtown called Gramercy Tap. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of my meal... I was positively starving when I got there right after a run with See-Us Run Des Moines, so I was not very conscious of health food when I ordered. I got the Gramercy burger, which had blue cheese and bacon, with a side of fries. Not the most elegant meal, but it sure was tasty!

Other memorable meals this month included a delicious brunch (after a beautiful wedding) at Americana, and cooking at home a couple times with Bill - including one amazingly delicious grill out. The first of the season!

(Our eyes were a tad bigger than our stomachs when we shopped for this meal... we've got asparagus, corn on the cob, bacon wrapped sirloins, stuff peppers and mushrooms. Omg, this was so good.)

This month I have logged 70 miles, and I am pretty pleased with that! I wish I had a little more under my belt, but I haven't been tracking my miles as closely as I did last year. I would say I'm doing the bare minimum in preparation for Dam to Dam (which is tomorrow! Eek!) but, I am confident I will pull off a PR. I have a few goals for myself, but I honestly am keeping them to myself... when I recap my race next week I am sure I will clue you all in on what they are!
(after Dam to Dam last year. I cannot wait to see what the race holds for me tomorrow!)

I am so thankful I have kept up with reading this spring. Reading really keeps me calm and centered. It's my "me" time and I am not willing to give it up!
Here is what I read, with a link to my Goodreads review:
  • Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler - I really enjoyed learning more about Zelda Fitzgerald. This book will make you not really like F. Scott Fitzgerald though - I think that's pretty common though from all biographies of this couple.
  • Slammed by Colleen Hoover - Love, love, loved this book! Definitely recommend this book to almost anyone, but especially fans of John Green
  • Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham - this book was just "ehhhh" for me. 
  • Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover - the 2nd book in the Slammed trilogy. This book wasn't as good as Slammed, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
  • The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - I literally just finished this book, and haven't even written my review on Goodreads. But, OMG. It was fantastic. I loved it. I don't know why I keep putting myself through the sadness of books profiling the Holocaust, but I do. This was such a memorable story and I absolutely recommend it.


I didn't take too many OOTD's for the month of May, but I did have a few memorable looks including graduation, my best friend's wedding and a few teacher looks!

 (after my graduation ceremony with my boyfriend, Bill)

 (Such a beautiful, surprise wedding!)

 (I finally succumbed to the leggings under dresses look. Leggings are so necessary in the classroom!)

(The photo from my teaching portfolio - so teacher-ish! Ha!)

How was your month??

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another great running week!

Last week was an okay running week for me and this week is race week! Dam to Dam is Saturday and I am excited to run this "dam" race!

For those of you that are new to ALPITC, I ran Dam to Dam (20k) for the first time last year and I absolutely loved it. Since then I have definitely been bitten by the running bug, and signing up for races really keeps my body moving!

Here's my workout recaps from last week:

Sunday - Quick 3 mile morning run before all the festivities of the day. I knew a run would energize my day and get me through the wedding, brunch, graduation and dinner with my family!

Monday - Practice with SRDM. We did two laps around Roosevelt (about 2 miles) and then strength training. I was SORE for days... Note to self: quick slacking on strength training.

Tuesday - Active rest. This was an active rest day because I spent 30 minutes walking Zeke and then I spent 40 minutes on a walk with a client (who is young and can walk at a moderate speed)

Wednesday - 10 mile long run. Most of this run was in the rain, and I actually enjoyed it so much! However, I did have an old man shaking his head at me when he offered me a ride and I declined. Seriously, it's 2013. The offer is nice, but... no, thank you.

Thursday - Practice with SRDM. 3 mile run - I forgot my phone so I had to estimate on the time... This run was about 30 minutes long

Friday-  Rest day. (FULL rest day) (besides dog walking)

Saturday - I was supposed to run 5 miles with SRDM for their long run day (they're training for the marathon in October) but it got rained out... At 7am Saturday morning it started pouring down rain and lightning... Back to bed, I went! Unfortunately, I did not do much later that day besides dog walking. :-/

As always you can find my runs and walks on Runkeeper and if you're interested in joining Gympact and get paid for your works, use my referral code "frontAmber" to get $5 automatically!

How was your week of training? Anyone local running Dam to Dam this weekend??

Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Club Friday

Hellooooo, Friday! TGIF, riiiight? This week has been a kind of long week. I am back into subbing full time and, as any teacher will tell you, the end of the year is the WORST. The kids are just restless and done. The end is in sight and they are Checked. Out. It took me a couple days to just finally give in, and decide not to fight this battle with them.

So, I am glad it's a weekend, and a holiday weekend, too!

Today I am participating in Heather's Book Club Friday for the first time in what feels like ages. I am reviewing Slammed and Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover. Molly sent me Slammed in a book swap quite a long time ago and it has been taunting me ever since. I am so thankful I finally picked it up, because it was SO good!

Almost immediately after finishing Slammed I went to my Netgalley account because I was pretty sure I had a copy of Point of Retreat (the sequel) for review. Huzzah! I did, which I devoured in less than 24 hours.

Here is the synopsis of Slammed from its Goodreads page:

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

Colleen Hoover's writing really reminded me of John Green. I noticed that from that start and I knew immediately that I would end up devouring everything she has written. There were a few things that I found unrealistic, but this is young adult fiction. I quickly reminded myself that this is a story to get lost in and I promptly got over it. Slammed is full of quotes that are just amazingly rich and make you stop reading to think about it or read the quote over, and over, and over... 

Here are a few I loved: 

“Question everything. Your love, your religion, your passion. If you don't have questions, you'll never find answers.” 

“Don't take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it.”  

“Imperfections define perfection” 

“Respect the hand that I was dealt. And to be grateful I was even dealt a hand.” 

Point of Retreat was also pretty good. I won't say it was as good as Slammed, but I definitely enjoyed it and read it very quickly. There is a third book in the series called This Girl. For some reason none of my local libraries have it, so I am probably going to have to buy it. Darn.... 

 If you are a fan of John Green, I definitely recommend this series! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Run, run, run!

Yesterday I ran my last long run before Dam to Dam. I was a little nervous because all of my long runs during this training season were not going well at all. Last week I went out to do my 10 mile long run and by mile 6 pain was shooting up and down my back from my left shoulder. I was determined to finish the run though.

2 1/2 hours later I was hobbling to my car...

I'm still not sure what the deal was, but I foam rolled the heck out of my body, iced my shoulder and back and tried to do lots of stretches throughout the week to take care of my muscles.

What is suspicious is a few weeks ago I was at one of the women's expo things where there are vendors set up everywhere and we stopped at a couple chiropractor stands. One was offering free massages, seeing as I have never had a professional massage, I accepted.

Yep, I have never had a massage. I know I am probably missing out, but I don't think you understand how ticklish I am. Bill can barely touch me without me jumping practically out of my skin. Obviously I get used to after a minute or two, but I am ridiculously ticklish. Pedicures are practically painful for me! Anyway, I got a quick massage from this chiropractor (and I controlled my jumpiness) and when she got to my left shoulder she goes, "oh!"

Ummmm. What?

She said she would talk to me after. Great.

Afterwards she said that I need to be adjusted, specifically in the left shoulder area. Fast forward two weeks later and I am suffering from pain in that shoulder. Coincidence? I'm not sure.

Well, yesterday the pain was okay, and it didn't bother me too much. Thank goodness. Last week though? Oy.

I needed that good run yesterday. I am so thankful it went well. I am feeling even more confident for Dam to Dam on June 1, and I know I will have a huge PR. Last year it took me 2:50 to do 12.4 miles and I hit a major wall at mile 9 and pretty much walked the rest of the way. This year my goals are to run as much as I can, finish with a smile, and hopefully that smile happens around 2:30... :)

Have you ever had a massage and/or been to a chiropractor for an adjustment? Do you believe in chiropractors and/or visit them regularly?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weekly fitness recap

Awhile back I promised a running/fitness update, so here it is! I recently hit 100 workouts this year and so far through Gympact, I have made $32.43. Not exactly rolling in the dough, but hey, I got paid that just for working out, which I was going to do anyway! Why not?

Anyway, on to the update.

Throughout student teaching I have had some highs and lows with fitness. During my first placement I did awesome. The building I was in was full of young teachers that made fitness a priority (not that my second placement didn't - I'll get to that) and there was a para educator there that was a fitness instructor at the YMCA. She organized a group fitness class every Wednesday in the building and any teacher was welcome to join. I jumped on this, and so did my mentor teacher. It was such a great bonding experience with the other teachers to run through the halls and do circuits together. I loved it!

During my second placement Dam to Dam training began. Luckily, this school was very close to my favorite place to run, Grey's Lake in Des Moines. It's a 2 mile loop around the lake with connecting trails that lead out into Des Moines or into the downtown area. I love it! I spent many afternoons after school trying to running around that lake.

Then, my good friend Emily suggested me as a mentor for See Us Run Des Moines, a local running group that mentors high school students for the Des Moines IMT Marathon in October. I thought this was just the boost I needed, but I was not planning on running a marathon this year (or maybe ever!). I decided to still go and see if I could still mentor but run the half as I had planned on. So, now that student teaching is over, I am running with SRDM 2-3 days a week and I will hopefully be able to mentor students either as a volunteer or actual mentor. We'll see!

Something that really fuels my running and fitness in general is social networking. I use the app Runkeeper to keep track of my runs and the site is linked to Facebook and Twitter. If I choose, I can post my runs on there for all my friends and followers to see. Friends on Runkeeper can already see it no matter what it is. Knowing that this run is going to be seen by others, is motivating for me... it is a little shallow (maybe?) but it works for me. Have you ever seen those signs along race courses that say, "Don't stop now, someone is watching?" It's kind of like that!

Another motivator is this here blog. I like when other bloggers, such as Amber or Chandra, recap their weeks and what they did. So, I think every Monday or Tuesday I am going to recap each day and what I did to benefit my fitness level. Here is last week:

Sunday: Rest, driving home from Spencer, IA

Monday: Rest again (oops)

Tuesday: Long run, 9.25 hard miles. I planned to take this run slow, and I took "slow" to a whole new level. This run was the hardest run I have ever done. I ended up with pain in my shoulder (???) and was practically hunched over and limping by the time I left. When I got home I foam rolled like crazy and hopefully this week my long run goes much much better.

Wednesday: 2 mile walk with a client

Thursday: 2.5 mile morning run

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 4 mile "long" run with SRDM. This was my first Saturday workout with the group, and I *almost* didn't go. I am SO glad I did. We ran from Roosevelt down to the Ashworth Trail (which is gorgeous and feels like you're in a forest). The route was hilly and probably just what I needed. I left feeling fantastic and so glad I went!

Wow, writing all of that out like that was a little surprising. I ran a total of 16 miles. I felt like I did more than that! This goes to show how beneficial it will be to recap here what my training has looked like. Although I write things down in my planner and Runkeeper and Gympact have a record as well, nothing can replace reflecting on the week later.

I am looking forward to recapping my workouts each week!

How do you keep track? What are you training for these days?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

13 little things

I am sure there are not very many new readers here, but if there are, welcome! I am so glad you stopped by.

I saw this cute little 13 question meme on Jenn's blog and I thought was a perfect way to dive back into blogging. Meme's are quicky, easy and a great way for reader to get acquainted (or reacquainted!) with you.

13 Personal Questions:

1.  What do you order at Starbucks?
I am super boring... I get plain coffee and doctor it up myself, or I will get an iced coffee with a little Splenda and milk. I hate spending money on overpriced drinks, so I rarely buy coffee at Starbucks. Sorry, Starby's!

2. What is one thing in your closet that you cannot live without?
Dresses! It is ridiculous the number of dresses I have! I just feel so comfortable and feminine in them, I could not live without them, especially in the summer.

 (One of my favorite sweater dresses! I was trying to find a good picture of one of the many sundresses I own, but I got lazy)

3.  What's one thing most people don't know about you?
Hmm... I think most people don't know that I started out (13 years ago. Oy) in journalism. In high school I loved working for the newspaper and was features editor my junior and senior year. In college I wrote for the newspaper and began a major in journalism, and just... got sick of it, I guess. I switched to fashion and figured I could always try to combine the two later. That never happened. I still love to write though, hence this here blog!
(One day when I was subbing in my high school, I went through the old school newspapers. I found a feature I did on the treasures hidden away in the 100+ year old school's archives)

4.  What is one thing you want to do before you die?
Be a mother.
(Me with my good friend's newborn baby back in October)

5.  What's one food you cannot live without?
Cheese. I could not be a vegan. Ever. I could give up meat, but cheese? Never.

6.  What is one quote you live your life by?
Oh, there are so many! Here's a few that stand out... 
"Fake it till you make it."
"Whatever you are, be a good one."
"You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

7.  What do you like and dislike about the (You Tube) Community?
I'm going to follow Jenn's lead and talk about the blogging community. I love all of the amazing people I have met through blogging and some have turned in close friends that I am so blessed to have in my life! I dislike how blogging has become a way to make money, get free stuff, etc. Not that I do not enjoy those perks, I just miss the way it was before. The bloggers that do not care about the monetary value in blogging are out there, but they are much fewer and farther between.

8.  What's your #1 song on your iPhone/iPod?
I don't use iTunes... I use Spotify or Pandora, and my music tastes change daily with my mood! These days I have been in a classic rock or oldies phase. When running I love to listen to the DJ Girltalk, so they're probably the most played!

9.  What kind of style would you describe yourself as having?
Classic pieces that will last years. As I have gotten older I have noticed that I do not buy into trendy items that will not be in style the next year. I get all of my clothing pretty much between Kohl's, Gap, and Old Navy. I wear a lot of dresses, skirts, leggings and tunics, and cardigans with a cute tank underneath.

10.  Favorite number?
9 was my soccer number in high school, so I'll go with that one!
11.  Two hobbies?
Running and reading
 (Lisa and I after she ran the full Des Moines Marathon and I ran the Half Marathon last October)

12.  Two Pet Peeves?
Snobby people - why can't you just be nice and smile?! People that leave their shopping carts out anywhere in the parking lot - just take it back!

13.  Guilty pleasure?
Fountain diet coke every once in awhile (okay, maybe every other day...). Either way, I have cut pop (yes, it's called pop around here!) significantly from my diet, so now it is a treat every once in awhile.

What is your guilty pleasure? Or, what song has been your #1 lately? I need some new music. If it's running music, even better!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Moments Marked in Time Forever...

Good morning!

This weekend was one of those epic, whirlwind weekends where there is so much good going on, you can barely contain your excitement and might just burst!

On Saturday my best friend had her bachelorette party and then the next day was supposed to be her engagement party. Instead, she surprised everyone with the actual wedding! Then, later that day, I graduated from Drake University with my Master's in Teaching!

Us girls at her backyard bbq bachelorette party - it was so perfect and relaxed! 

You might be asking why my friend decided to get married three months early (and no, she's not pregnant!). The wedding planning was quickly growing into something she did not originally vision, so she took control and did it the way they originally wanted it to be. What she did was so admirable, and I love how she kept what was important, important and remained true to herself. It was such a beautiful day and it reminded me that things like a cake, flowers, pretty dresses and rings are nice, but they're not most important on the day you say vows to the person you spend the rest of your life with.

The happy couple sealing the deal!

All of us girls before the ceremony

 Someone took some pictures for me... :)

I am a girl, so of course I think about my wedding day, and this wedding got me really thinking about what my priorities would be when I plan my wedding.

Later that day, my boyfriend, parents and I headed to the Knapp Center at Drake University to watch me receive my Master's in Teacher. I was not sure I wanted to sit through the ceremony and walk, but I am really glad I did. It is such a relief to be done and feels so good to have worked so hard. I have met almost all of my goals (including that coveted 4.0 grade point average!) and am so proud of myself!

 Just before walking across the stage!

Couldn't have done it without the love and support of my amazing parents.

Bill and I, after the ceremony

Hopefully now that school is done and all I have going on is subbing, working at the agency and job searching, I will find my blogging mojo again and be back regularly! We'll see. Only time will tell. 

How was your weekend? Tell me what you did or something that you are really looking forward to happening soon!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Looking Forward: Books Edition

Hi! It has been ages. I know. March 25th, to be exact. Crazy times. I'll be back though, don't you worry.

I have exactly three days of student teaching left and I will receive my Master's degree on the 19th. It is all so surreal! I am so grateful that I have had this opportunity, but I will save that kind of gushing for another day.

Yesterday I went on a massive book holding spree at the three public libraries I frequent (don't judge me) and today on Twitter, Lisa suggested I blog about what books I am looking forward to reading over the next few months. I thought that was a great idea and I found myself with some extra time today (a rarity), so, here I am!

Now, I must admit, I am extremely lucky with the public libraries in Des Moines. Between DSM and West DSM (two separate cities right next to each other) there are lots of different libraries I can use. So, I do.
I pretty much have them figured out and I stalk Amazon author pages to figure out release dates and I put all the books on hold. Works like a charm (and saves me a ton of dough. I'm a poor college student. Soon to be a poor teacher).  If I catch them in time, I'm usually pretty close to being one of the first people to check out the book. Takes organization, but it's worth it for me.

So, without further ado.. here is what I have on hold currently:

1. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
  •  I've loved Lauren Graham since Gilmore Girls, and I adore Parenthood, so of course I want to read her book!
2. Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Ahhh! I have been waiting for something from this author for YEARS now! American Wife is my FAVORITE book and I really liked Prep, so I cannot wait to get this one when it comes out this summer.
3. World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family by Josh Harnagarne
  • I am a big fan of the Book Page publication that I pick up at my local library (one of them, ha) and I get lots of great recommendations from it. In this month's issue there is an ad for this book and I was immediately drawn to it. I loved books about books, so this is right up my alley. I believe it is already out, I'm just waiting for it at the library. 
4. The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen
  • Sarah hooked me with her first novel, The Opposite of Me a few years ago and I will read anything she produces! Her books are great summer reads!
5. Waiting To Be Heard by Amanda Knox
  • This is a no-brainer. Amanda, I want to hear what you have to say!
6. Always Watching by Chevy Stevens
  • I really really liked Still Missing, and I liked Never Knowing. I'll probably always pick up Chevy's books as well. They're great mysteries that keep you turning the pages!
7. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
  • I haven't even read the Sparks' release last year. In fact, I bought it and it has been sitting on my desk since then. Oops. I still reserved this one though. It does not come out until September, so perhaps I will get to the 2012 release this summer. 
8. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand
  • I've read a few of Elin's books and have loved each of them. These are perfect for the summer because they're always based on Nantucket or Cape Cod. Each of her books make me itch to visit one (or both!) of those places!
9. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
  • I think I have outgrown Sophie Kinsella, but I just can't give her up completely. I didn't really care for her book last year, but maybe this one will be better. I didn't get it reserved early enough at the library to get a copy soon, so I think it'll be awhile before I get my hands on this. 
10. Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman
  • Another author that I have been anxiously waiting for to release something new! I adored Saving CeCe Honeycutt and cannot wait to read her newest book! 
11. Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger
12. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
  • I have heard this is a total cheesefest, but I do not care. The title and the cover sucked me in. I'm a sucker for cheesy YA romances!
This should keep me busy this summer!! I am not completely sure what I am doing this summer (besides reading, ha!). I might be nannying. I might be just working at the agency (God, help me). It's kind of up in the air.

I'm still looking for a teaching job. And trying to be patient.

The patience is waning.

I know that many other people across the country have been looking for much longer than me, so I am for sure keeping that in perspective, but I am so nervous that I won't have a job. Luckily, I can always sub, but I am just ready to move on to more responsibility.

Anyway. That is all boring talk. I'll be sure to clue you all in when I get a job offer! :)

To conclude this somewhat random conclusion (lol) tell me, what are you looking forward to reading? What are you reading now?

Hope you're doing well!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Virtual Coffee Date

Recently Lisa and a few other bloggers have written a "virtual coffee date" post and I have been meaning to write one for awhile now. No better time then the present, no?

Photo courtesy of Lisa's condo in Minneapolis when I stayed with her in August 2011!

If you and I were having coffee together ...
  • I'd tell you that I am feeling extremely anxious these days. Anxious about getting a teaching job. Anxious about student loans. Anxious about relationships. Anxious about completing my portfolio Anxious about time. Just, anxious. Pray I'm not on meds by August, ok? 
  • I'd tell you that despite being extremely busy juggling student teaching, completing as many teaching applications as I possibly can, taking advantage of every possible meet and greet with district representatives, working on my portfolio and working part time at the agency, I am still making sure to keep up with my favorite past time - reading. Last night I started the 21st book of 2013 and tonight my friends and I will meet at Dos Rios for our third Books 'n Bars meeting of the year. I am always available with a recommendation for a good book!
  • I'd tell you that I started student teaching today at a new placement and I would tell you how excited I am to be teaching at a school that seems to be everybody's favorite school.
  • I'd tell you that having your classmates turn into competition for teaching jobs is a very weird feeling and I do not like it. There is one friend in particular that is ... particularly catty. I am not sure if she realizes that it comes across that way, but I am not willing to participate. Gives me the sads. 
  • I'd tell you that despite the stiff competition, there are still some very nice people out there. On Saturday when I was in Cedar Falls for the UNI Teacher Fair a girl that interviewed for the same position I did a few weeks ago remembered seeing me and stopped to say hi. We chatted each time we ran into each other at the fair and it was nice to make a new friend. :)
  • I'd tell you that speaking of new friends, I met Kristin from Single Mama Life and it was so nice to meet her! I will never forget how she reached out to me and sent the nicest email after I posted about not getting the job I interviewed for. 
  • I'd tell you that despite being very busy, I miss blogging very much.
  • I'd tell you that I recently registered for Dam to Dam, the race that sparked my interest in long distance running last year and the race that I am hoping will ignite that spark again this year... now, if only it would stop snowing so I could comfortably run outside...
  • I'd ask you, speaking of snow... when is it going to stop? And, I would hope that you give me an answer I like. Or offer me a beach vacation to somewhere tropical!
If we had coffee today, what would you tell me? 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My wild and crazy Spring Break...

Good morning!

Well, I am on Spring Break and it is quickly flying by. I wish I could say it's been wild and crazy and I've been relaxing on a beach somehwere... but... that is not the case. At all.  Even so, I cannot believe it is already Thursday and it is almost over. I had big plans for blogging and running and both got pushed to the bottom of the list each day.

Instead, this week I worked a ton at the agency and worked on my electronic portfolio. The agency is driving me a tad crazy. Organization is not a strength with a lot of human services employees and this place is no different. I also feel that I find many of the people in the industry burnt out and spread way too thin. Sometimes they make the job harder instead of easier. Since I am on call staff I work for many different people, but I report to one person. These days I am so thankful for the person I report to because she is always very consistent in her moods and how she treats her staff. If it wasn't for her, I do not think I would have lasted as long.

Moving on...

Do you have a portfolio for work? For teaching, we have electronic portfolios, but honestly, I do not think that very many administrators have the time to really look through it. Right now I am in the process of printing off all of the documents and artifacts and putting it all into a traditional portfolio format. This weekend I am attending a large teacher recruitment fair about three hours north of Des Moines and I although my portfolio is not finished I want to have something to show, so I'm printing everything off. It is kind of a big job, but hopefully it will be worth it.

I feel like once I get out of a good habit, I have the hardest time getting back into it. I have slacked majorly with running and blogging and I just cannot get back into it! Yesterday I registered for the Dam to Dam 20K, so hopefully that light a fire under me. I have two months to train and I better get on it!

What have you been up? If you had Spring Break what would you do with your time?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Club Friday + and an overdue update!


Yesterday was my last day at my first student teaching placement and I cannot believe it is already over. The class surprised me with a TON of goodies and a surprise party! My teacher put together the cutest baskets of goodies, the kids wrote notes and everyone had snacks and went around and said something nice to me. I was fighting tears the entire time... as soon as the kids left and I had to say goodbye to my teacher, I cried. I admit it. Twice now I have cried in my cooperating teacher's room (she probably wants to change her final assessment of me to, "cries too much!").

It was sweet though, and as one of my Instagram friends said, I will never forget this. Luckily, in today's age, keeping in touch is simple with Facebook and Twitter and I know my teacher and I will keep in touch. I could not have been blessed with a better teacher! She was wonderful and so easy to work with. Having all the kids shout out what grades I should teach permanently was also such a rewarding feeling, because they were all grades where I would see THEM again! They were such a great bunch and I loved working with them.

But, after the past 7 weeks of trying to be on my toes for 8 hours and constantly ready to impress, I am exhausted. Luckily, I have a fun spring tradition ahead of me for this weekend!

Today I am headed up to Minneapolis for the Jodi Picoult book signing and my friend Lisa's going away party. This is the fourth year in a row that I have gone north for the the JP signing and to meet up with my other close friend, Lesli! It has definitely turned into more than just a "book signing" that I am going to Minneapolis for and more of a tradition where I get to see my good friends to the north and have a great relaxing weekend.

In the past I have come back from this weekend refreshed and rejuvenated and I am expecting nothing less than that from this weekend! I know I have a grueling spring ahead of me of job searching, so making sure to get in some mental health is extremely important.

Speaking of the grueling job search, I have had two mock interviews with two local superintendents (or reps/assistants for the interim superintendent if the district did not currently have one) and they have gone TERRIFIC! I do not want to jinx myself, but I have to say, they both made me feel so good about my accomplishments in the past two years and that could not have come at a better moment! I was still feeling down about the opportunity I did not get with the first interview and a "good" interview experience was exactly what I needed!

Next weekend there is a big teacher job fair a few hours north of me that I will be attending and I am hoping to meet more officials there. I really feel good about this and am confident I will have a job in the fall if I can keep up this momentum!

Completely switching gears here, but it IS Friday and I have not participated in Book Club Friday in aaaages, so why not today?? ;)

I just finished a book I cannot get off my mind. It is a book that most teachers or people in education will know... It is called Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell. This book had me in tears, had me laughing and had me completely enamored with Esme. This book is her diary of her first year teaching fifth grade in a very urban Chicago school.

She was gutsy, confident and completely in charge of a class that could have easily steamrolled her. Instead, she earned their respect and they respected her back (most of the time). A skill I have learned many times while subbing in rooms with kids just like hers. Respect is huge with this demographic.

We need more teachers like Esme that will work in the urban schools. This book inspired me and quickly reminded me of where I want to be. There are kids in need at every school, but our urban schools across the country are in trouble. As a student that attended all urban schools from K-12, schools that were not considered "at risk" when I was there and were traditionally good schools for years and years (one for over 100 years!), this hits home majorly for me. To hear current teachers say they "won't teach at this or that school" breaks my heart. I know it's hard. I completely get it. But... those kids need more people like Esme.

Getting off soapbox now.

Read it. You will love it.

So, tell me what you have been up to. I have been trying to keep up, but these days that is not always happening. What is going on in your neck of the woods??

Sidebar about the line "neck of the woods": Figurative language will forever remind me of the class I just left because we did a unit on figurative language and it was hilaaaaaarious!

Today I am linking up with Heather for Book Club Friday. If you're a reader, you should play along!