Sunday, November 30, 2014

Miles, Looks, Music, Movies & Books - November

I have not done a MLMMB post (inspired by Lisa) since September. Not because I did not want to, but rather because I forgot. The past few months whizzed by and I cannot believe I have one trimester of my second year of teaching done. I have learned so much and made so many changes to the way I go about my job, but that is a post for another day!

Also, did you notice? I added a new category. Movies!

Zero miles. Yep. Zilch. However, if I had kept track of the number of miles I have done of Zumba, I am positive it would be high! During the month of November I took at least 3-4 classes each week, and with Zumba burning 500-700 calories per class, it is just as good of a workout as running is. I do miss running though and plan to begin again soon.

For the month of November I had a goal for myself to repurpose some of my summer clothes and turn them into winter looks. I only made two outfits, but I got so many compliments on both of them! For some reason, I can only find one photo... I must have accidentally deleted the other!

Also this month I won a free pair of Zumba compression capris and I have been wearing the heck out of them!

I will definitely continue this challenge of Summer-to-Winter outfits into December.

Nothing really new here ... I'm still loving Taylor Swift's Shake It Off (I admit it) and really wish that her new album was on Spotify. I just can't see myself buying an actual cd... Other than that, I'm gravitating towards more upbeat tunes that I can dance to.

We did not see any movies in the theater, but we did watch The Giver at home and we both enjoyed it! There were many differences from the book version, but I think they did a decent job. However, I still strongly encourage everyone to read the FIRST.

November was a little crazy between state testing, report cards and parent/teacher conferences so my reading was a little on the slow side. I finished four books, which honestly, is very good.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (it was okay, but was easy to put down)
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (awesome! Hard to put down)
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (just okay. Easy to put down)
Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella (ehhhh. Very easy to put down)

How was your November? Stay tuned for a recap on my November goals!

Thursday, November 27, 2014


A loving and supporting husband.
A loving and supporting family and new family.
Health and fitness.
A desire for health and fitness.
Close friends.
Knowledge and opportunities.
Twenty-eight healthy, happy children in my classroom five days a week.
A warm bed.
Two furry friends that love us more than life.
A love to read.
Brick and mortar bookstores.
A wedding we will remember for the rest of our lives.
Not being in debt due to a wedding. 
A sturdy and warm home that we own.
Blogging and the people that come with it.
The Internet.
Transportation options.
Clean water.
A career and position I love.
A city that I love.

There is always so much to be thankful for. Of course I try hard to be thankful all year, but it is nice to create a list in this moment of what I am truly grateful for.

What tops your list this year? 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Love that I am off work for five days.
Hate that these five days are going to fly by.

Love that I have today off.
Hate that to get this day off, I had to exhaust myself last week with several double-digit hour work days to prepare and conduct parent/teacher conferences.

Love that I got my new Plum Paper planner in the mail yesterday.
Hate that I have to wait until January to use it.

Love how pretty the snow is during this time of year and am grateful to live somewhere with four distinct seasons.
Hate the ice and slippery conditions that almost 100% of the time come with the pretty snow.

Love that Christmas is coming up and I am beginning to think about gifts for loved ones.
Hate that such a special and significant religious holiday has been taken over by consumerism.

Love that I have so much reading material to dive into over the next several days.
Hate that my attention span is about the size of a gnat these days.

Love that I discovered through a mutual friend (and not on a social networking site) that a dear friend of mine is expecting. Yay, babies!
Hate that so much tends to be communicated through social networking these days. Phone conversations are so refreshing when they do happen.

Love that I got all my Christmas cards from Walgreens for less than $30.
Hate that I now have to address them and send them out (along with all of our wedding thank you notes).

Love that my husband is so frugal.
Hate that my husband is so frugal.

Love that there are so many plates of yummy food everywhere this time of year.
Hate that that yummy food loves to settle in on my waistline (and bum and thighs ...)

What are your loves and hates today?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Club Friday


It has been awhile since I linked up with Heather and participated in Book Club Friday! No better time either, because I just finished a book for my book club last weekend and I ADORED it.

In just a little over 24 hours, I devoured The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. This book was such a charming, sweet novel and it is one that I am definitely sad is over.

The main character, AJ Fikry is a bookstore owner and recent widow. He lives on the fictional Alice Island off the east coast (I believe) and lives and breathes Island Books. He is the worst kind of book snob though ... so much so, that his snobbishness really turned me off at first. However, his quirks become lovable and it did not take long for me to wish I had an AJ in my own community and a bookstore just like Island Books.

Some of my favorite parts of this book were the book references. Everything from The Book Thief to Mark Twain to my absolute favorite book, American Wife was mentioned and I just loved that! It's always a thrill to read a book about books that mentions books you have already read, no? Maybe it's just me ...

If you're looking for something quick and easy to read, but still with a good level of substance, do not pass up this charming novel. I promise you will not regret it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wedding Wednesday

I have the best friends in the world that created the sweetest scrapbook for me documenting our wedding day!

This lovely tradition of scrapbooking started in my group of friends over 10 years ago for birthdays. We were all in undergrad and probably poor, so we began putting together scrapbooks for birthday presents! We do not do it for every birthday, but we do tend to put them together for special occasions. Such as weddings (totally just typed weedings).

Take a look at what they came up with for me! I love it!

Sorry for the glare!

This was my first "Wedding Wednesday" post. I'm not sure if I will post more, but we'll see!

Do you like to scrapbook? I'm not a huge fan of it, but I do really enjoyed the finished product!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mailbox Monday

Earlier in the month I made a goal for myself to purchase less than 5 books during the month of November, and the books I do purchase, they must be used.

I'm doing great with the used portion of my goal, but the only 5 books portion? Not so much.

Between Friday and Sunday I visited Half Price Books twice due to their big 40-50% off coupons that were out. Here's what I purchased ...

First, let me tell you a story...

Friday night Tracey Garvis Graves was going to be at Beaverdale Books for a signing (she's from Ankeny) and I was really excited to meet her! I loved On the Island and it's sequel (a novella) called Unchartered. I didn't love Covet, but it wasn't terrible by any means!

So, I planned to go and get my book signed. Then, I realized that I didn't read OTI as a physical book. I owned the ebook. Can't really get an ebook signed!! So, I hopped over to Half Price Books in hope that they would have a cheap copy instead of dropping $14 on a book at Beaverdale Books that I had already read.

$4.50 later, I'm happy with a physical copy of OTI and headed to the signing with my mom in tow. We get up to Tracey's table and she opens my book to sign it and .... dun, dun, dun ... it's already signed.

Talk about embarrassing. I quickly made a joke about needing a copy of her book because my copy is an electronic copy and could she just sign my iPad instead? I don't think she was too amused. :(

I have been to a lot of signings, and that is only one that I wanted to crawl under the table and just die. Most embarrassing moment in A LONG TIME. 

As you can see, now my book is signed TWICE. Oops. 
Great book ... definitely worth checking out if you want a quick, easy beach read.

They were giving away these amazing cookies!
Yum. I would like another one Right. Now.

What about the second trip to HPB, you ask? Just hold your horses. I'll get there.

Friday I got a notice from the library that Shopaholic to the Stars was available for me to pick up. When I  got to the library, I had two more holds also waiting for me. Will I get to these before they're due? Probably not. However, I am sure I'll read the Shopaholic book. I can't remember the last book in that series that I actually liked, but I can't help it. I love me some Becky Bloomwood and just keep hoping ...

Maybe I can squeeze in The Vacationers over Thanksgiving break. I have heard it's good!
 My second trip to HPB was to find a copy of The Indian in the Cupboard for our next read aloud in my classroom. We are getting close to wrapping up Wonder by RJ Palacio (sob!) and the kids have LOVED it so much. I know I need something amazing to follow it up. They are loving the realistic fiction, but I know I need to mix up some genres, so a fantasy book it is!

The Indian in the Cupboard was huge when I was a kid, but I'm not going to tell the kids that ... I'll let them think it's new. As soon as they catch wind that it is an "old" book, it's like all appeal is GONE. Poof. Just like that.

Makes me crazy.

I also picked up a copy of The Devil's Arithmetic (never read it) and Tatiana  De Rosnay's newest (used my 50% off coupon on that one). I adored Sarah's Key, so I am hopeful that her newest is just as good.

This weekend I also read an entire book (which I will be talking about on Friday). What an amazing, bookish weekend! Perfect for the weekend where we got our first significant snow.

What books have you picked up recently?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day in the life ...

Who doesn't love a good "Day in the Life" post?! Thank you, Kelly for the post idea today. :)

Teachers are crazy. Crazy busy. Everyone has their own kind of busy, but considering teaching has not been my only profession, I'd like to think I know. I have something else to compare this to, and I can safely say, I have never been so crazy busy like this before. I may get some backlash for this, but, it is much worse for elementary teachers. Much, much worse. At least secondary teachers get a padded planning time. When I subbed in secondary there were some days that teachers had 2 hours of planning. TWO. HOURS. That is unheard of in elementary. I am ecstatic for Fridays when my kids have Art and I get a full uninterrupted hour, instead of my normal hour broken up into two 30 minute specials where I have to go get the kids and take them to their next special (therefore, interrupting whatever train of thought, or project I have going on at the time).

Anyway. I'll stop. Everyone chooses their own field, and I love what I do. LOVE. I am exactly where I belong.

This is a really busy time of year for our building. We have Iowa Assessments and report cards to write and parent/teacher conferences to conduct. Life is busy. Here is how my Monday went, and typically most Mondays.

4:50 am - alarm goes off and I finally roll out of bed at 5am. Make coffee, brush my teeth, throw on work out clothes, grab my gym bag (with  my workout clothes in them) and head to Body Pump. My friend Alana and I go to BP every Monday morning. Monday because we just need to get it done.

5:30-6:30 - Body Pump

6:30 - get ready for work at the gym. I do not shower at the gym, I haven't gone that far yet. To be honest, I'm a little afraid of it. I shower the night before and then take a hobo shower in the locker room. I mean, it's BP, it's not like I'm dripping sweat (don't judge me).

7:00 am - leave the gym for work. Stop somewhere for breakfast. Lately it has been for McDonald's oatmeal. If I was more organized, I would have it already made at home because I don't think it's that hard. Maybe someday. For now, I'll spend the $2.11 once a week to eat breakfast out.

7:20-7:30ish - get to work and lug in all the stuff I brought home with me over the weekend. This particularly weekend it was my overstuffed work bag and a box full of math journals that I graded. It took two trips.

7:30 - 8:55 - Get some word work packets ready for my co-teacher, work on a report card (I have a conference later), get supplies ready for a math lesson on the metric system. Make an anchor chart about converting units in the metric system. Preview a Scholastic Study Jam video (and love it), then get it ready to throw into my lesson for the day. Check email, pass back graded papers, review report cards again. Look over my lessons for the week and make sure I have everything ready to go.

8:55 - first bell rings. Kids begin streaming in. The whirlwind begins.

9:05 -second and final bell rings. Kids should be in their seats. We say the pledge. Kids get started on their math assignment. I turn in attendance, check in homework, send lunch count.

9:15 - 10:15 - teach math. The lesson on the metric system goes very well. Kids are still confused about the decimal jumping when we go from meters, to decimeters to centimeters to millimeters. Good thing we're working on it again tomorrow.

10:15 - Kids have Spanish. Spanish teachers uses my classroom, which  means I have to find somewhere else to work. I choose the back of the classroom, where I am working on prep for our first Mystery Powders lab experiment. Kids are so excited when they see I am getting powders ready for experiments. I give them the Look which tells them to be respectful to their Espanol maestra. They listen (they rock).

10:45 - Kids have PE. I walk them to PE and give them a reward for walking through the hall without talking, which is a tally. Tallies are good. Tallies earn the kids classroom parties.

11:15 - Kids come back from PE and work on more math until lunch time at 11:40.

11:40 - We leave for lunch. I get them through the lunch line.

11:45 - I have lunch (school lunch because I forgot the lunch I packed in the refrigerator at home. Luckily school lunch was chicken patty on a bun. It wasn't bad). I eat in the teacher's lounge to make a short appearance.

12pm - Head back to my room. Freshen up. Brush teeth. Head to the special ed room to coordinate a meeting with the two special ed teachers.

12:20 - kids come back from recess. We spend a few minutes reading and chilling out from recess. I take attendance.

12:30 - Usually we have writing at this time, but this week we have Iowa Assessments (formerly ITBS for all you locals) so we are doing test prep. We do two practice tests.

1-3pm - Usually this is my literacy block, but due to Iowa Assessments, we are testing. I get my kids started on their first of three tests today. Today they are tested on Vocabulary, Computation and Reading. While they are testing, I am recording what time they finish and also grading math journals. Every few minutes I get up to walk around and make sure that everyone is bubbling their answers in the correct space (they are).

3pm - Finally. We have our Mystery Powders lab. I put the fear of God in them and remind all kids that if they taste or snort the powders up their nose (one of the questions asks them to smell the powders) they will not participate in any more labs and will instead watch all labs. Luckily, this class is so good, they look at me in horror at the thought of something going up their nose.

3:30 - We clean up our lab materials, set aside all substances to use tomorrow for a similar lab experiment. We fill out our planners and work on our homework. Most students get their homework done (math homework, measuring to the nearest 1/2 centimeter and converting it to meters).

3:55 - Dismissal.

4:00 - I get a few things ready for my 4:30 conference, tidy up the classroom. Wash my hands (I always feel grimy at this time of day). Check the office for anything in my mailbox. Get my take home bag ready because I have to jet out of school right after my conference for a grad class.

4:30 - Parent conference.

4:45- Leave school and head to my school's district offices to a professional development class that earns me graduate credit (which moves me up on the pay scale. Woo hoo!)

5pm-7pm - Sit through a class about Microsoft Office 2013. It was actually pretty interesting! If I wasn't so tired, I think I would have paid more attention.

7:30pm - get home and Bill has cooked dinner (isn't he the best?).

8:00pm - begin typing this post (after reading Kelly's and therefore getting inspired!)

9:00pm - predicting I will be in bed reading.

That's it for me! Besides the standardized tests this week, that is pretty much my day. Go, go, go. All day. No time to really breathe because kids are always in front of you and you always have to be on. Between Iowa Assessments and Parent/Teacher conferences, November is insane and I am definitely not a fan. I cannot wait for Thanksgiving break. It has definitely been earned.

What is the busiest time of year for you at your job?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November goals

Wow, November. Already? Time is flying, which, every time I say those three words I just feel old! Before I know it, I know Christmas is going to be here and gone.

I have some pretty big goals for the rest of the year, so I thought it might be a good idea to set some goals for myself. Here goes.

  1. Finish writing all of my thank yous for the wedding. I ended up having to order over 160 thank yous (wowza) and I have been slowly writing thank you notes every night. Breaking a project like this into chunks not only works for me, but also results in more personable thank you notes. I ordered photos that have a message from both of us on them, and I know technically I could get away with just sending that without personalization on it. However, I just don't want to do that. I am actually enjoying hand writing notes to everyone. 
  2. Participate in MOVEmber and move every day in November. Even if it is just a walk. The past two weeks have been very hit or miss for me in the working out department and I would like to get a solid routine going again. 
  3. Get at least half of my professional portfolio done. In Iowa, you have to complete a professional portfolio that proves you have met all the teaching standards. There are several standards, with many sub-standards below that. Each one requires artifacts, which amount to over 40 artifacts. Luckily, I am the first to create an electronic portfolio (I get to be a guinea pig!) and I think that will make the process much smoother. It is not due until spring, but I want it DONE. 
  4. Plan a party. Bill and I have been wanting to have a party all year now to show friends and family our new home. We would like to have a couple more home projects done though. Right now we're tossing around different ideas for when ... this time of year is always so HARD to plan stuff. 
  5. Spending FREEZE. NO shopping for unnecessary items. Especially clothes. I would say books too, but I bought two books yesterday, so I would have already failed that goal. I am going to limit myself to 5 books this month and they must be used books. Anything else I buy must be gifts for others. No gifts for myself.
  6. Going along with my spending freeze, I am making a goal for myself to repurpose some items in my closet. Example: yesterday I paired a floral summer dress with black leggings, cardigan and scarf with boots and it was adorable (IMO). It also felt very "new" to me. I am hoping to do that several times this month and then show off all my "new" outfits in a blog post. Hopefully this doesn't turn into too much of a train wreck. 
  7. Finish 4 books. Right now I am reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult and am only half interested. I don't think it's the book. I think it's me. My attention span is ridiculous these days and my head is just too full of mumbo jumbo to focus. 
  8. Blog 8 times. That is twice per week. I. Can. Do. This. 
  9. Put myself on a Facebook diet. Well, all social media diet, to be honest. Facebook is the biggest robber of my time though. My new phone tells me the amount of time I spend on all my apps and it is SICK how much time is spent staring at my FB feed. Sick, I tell you. It's time for an intervention. I am not taking a full break though, because that is just not realistic. To start off, I am allowed to check Facebook 3 times per day. Just three. No more. Once I hit three, I am thinking I might delete the app from my phone. I cannot be trusted.
Well, that's a lot ... but, I think it's all totally do-able What are your November goals?