Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reality TV Junkie Confession

Am I ashamed to admit that I am a reality TV junkie?  Nope!  I am certainly not a Kardashians fan or a Jersey Shore fan don't get it twisted.  But I am however, a GIGANTIC fan of The Hills and Lauren Conrad.  In fact, Lauren Conrad is my #1 girl crush!  Yep!  I said it.  Hear me out.

She is a style icon for me.  Classic.  Sleek.  Beautiful.  Fashionable.  I love her!!  Let me prove it.

A page from her Style could you not obsess over this beauty?!
Several years back, my friend Ella and I drove out to an Indie bookstore when I found out online that Lauren Conrad was coming to Phoenix for a book signing.  I wish I had a picture of me with her, but we weren't allowed to stop atnd take a picture when she was signing our book.  Sad face!

I am ridiculous! When it was my turn to come up to the table to get my copy of Sugar and Spice signed by Lauren, she looked me straight in the eye, said hello, asked me how I was which I WAS able to say hello back.  But...when she looked at me and told me she loved my necklace, I froze and couldn't think of what to say back, except thank you.  Even then, I stammered that out.  How embarrassing!  She was so gorgeous in person (could have done without the crazy pound of makeup on though...figure that's a public appearance thing).  Sigh.

My autographed copy of Sugar and Spice
If I were to tell you how many times I have watched all of The Hills episodes, you may have a laughing fit.  And...that's fine.  I seriously have no shame!  It's just one of those shows I have an obsession with. It bites that it is not on anymore.  MTV has been showing all the episodes back-to-back this summer and of course, I am watching them (they were on last summer and I watched all of them then too).  My husband makes fun of me and shakes his head when he walks in the room.  But he knows the channel isn't getting changed anytime soon.  Who doesn't love also seeing all the beautiful views of Los Angeles and Hollywood as well? another confession!  When my husband and I went to Los Angeles to be tourists (kind of weird to do after growing up in San Diego) a couple years ago, I looked up several of the restaurants they went to on the show and we ate at them.  They were all delicious places too, so don't hate!  And as we were driving back to the airport, we drove around to find the Teen Vogue building, People's Revolution, and Bolthouse.  Just know that we also stopped at LA Ink (High Voltage) and a few other places from other favorite shows...since I'm an all around reality TV junkie and don't discriminate (except against the Kardashians and Snooky).

But I still get my fix of Lauren Conrad through her books, website, and wearing her gorgeous affordable clothes from Kohls!  Every piece I have bought has gained many many many compliments every single time I wear them.  I may own 3 different pairs of her shorts, a tuxedo jacket (favorite!), super nice blouse (okay, this is almost my favorite), flowery tanks, a dress, denim vest, white pants, sweaters, and a seriously awesome pair of platform sandals.
LC Lauren Conrad dress and super duper awesome platform sandals
That favorite floral tuxedo jacket I mentioned....loooooove it so very much!
One more of my favorite tuxedo action
So, have I proved my point that I'm a super fan?  This goes beyond just loving her on the show. I look to her for fashion inspiration over and over again.  The best part is being able to buy clothing she designs for that classic look that I love.  Oh and this may have happened a couple months ago...

It took me forever (months and months) to find a similar sweater to Lauren Conrad's that I loved.
#1 Girl Crush.  I mean look at her!  Classic!  (another image from her Style book)
Have you met a celebrity you have a crush on or obsess over? What reality TV shows are you addicted to (and even watch reruns of)?

Monday, July 29, 2013

There Goes My Summer!

**Warning:  This is a picture heavy post...but entertaining all the same!**

I feel like summer vacation zoomed past me at light speed!  But when I stop to think about where I was when I went home on that last day of the school year back in May, I realize...I did get to enjoy a nice two months off. By that I actually mean this...

No really!  When everyone else was going home and truly celebrating on May 24th, I was freaking out knowing I had one more week before my National Boards portfolio entries were due.  For that first week out of school, I worked like a dog to finish up final edits, do major reflections on myself as a teacher, scanned documents, pictures, letters, and more like a mad woman, and sat at my pretty little iMac uploading and watching a status bar move across the screen.  Many deep breaths and hesitations (pressing that "Submit" button was trickier than an outsider would think) I submitted two days earlier than I told myself I would!  

Proof and memorialization of me submitting
Then, I got to enjoy my life for a few days before I had to go back in to the classroom for a special math lab school (AKA summer school).  Meanwhile, I was stressing out about having to take my 4-hour assessment at the Assessment Center in 3 weeks on June 21st.  There was no time for rest as I read up on some math techniques and how to interpret and diagnose reading errors (since it had been awhile since I'd delved in to that).  You see, I was working towards a Middle Childhood Generalist certificate, which means all subjects (including fine arts and health and wellness) ranging from 3rd to 6th grade.  There were quite a few things that I needed to get back on the bike and practice riding for.  So those 3 weeks looked a little something like this...

A little bit of light reading, highlighting, and going post-it flag crazy!'s honestly a really amazing textbook, really.

I was even boring my furbaby, who nicely held down my papers for me so they wouldn't blow away.

I even went old skool and used flash cards to help me nail down all the accomplished teaching standards I would have to use in my essays.
To keep myself focused on the day and how I'd live through it, I...okay, before you read this next part, I ask you not to laugh at me...I scheduled my DVR to record the Jodi Arias movie on Lifetime.  It kept advertising to premiere on June 22nd, and I knew that would be the day after my tests.  So to me, that was like my target, to live to see June 22nd.  Okay, stop laughing now.  I enjoyed sitting on my couch that night with no responsibility but to watch this made for TV movie!

Did anyone else get excited about this debuting like I did?
When June 21st came around, I was a ball of nerves and didn't think I'd make it through the test alive.  I was afraid more than anything that I would get in there and forget everything I knew as a teacher or I, especially, would not be able to find the right words to answer the mutli-step questions.  All of them. But, thankfully, I got through it and survived to tell...

I proceeded to celebrate in a HUGE way by going out to Buffalo Wild Wings with my supportive husband and friends at my favorite place to unwind.  I CANNOT describe in words how amazing it felt to be able to actually take a breath and enjoy my summer and my free time for the first time in 2 years!  

Honestly, when people asked me if I was going to travel or do anything once I was finally finished, my answer to that was  I wanted to just be able to sit on my couch, read a book or watch T.V. without having to worry about what I should have been writing, typing, or reflecting on.  And you know what?  It felt fantastic!!!  Hence the meme I posted at the top of this blog.  Sure, I won't find out my results until the end of November, but I couldn't be happier to have several months not to think about it anymore...until maybe October when it creeps up on me.

But being the ridiculous Type-A person and teacher that I am, several days later, I was back to my kitchen table working on school items for the upcoming school year.  I couldn't help it!  There were all sorts of ideas I had because of completing National Boards, and frankly, a lot of things needed to be changed in my classroom to improve the impact on learning for my students.

I did get to enjoy more time with my friends though and it felt really good to join them and not worry about what I should have been doing back at home.  Bunco. Book Club. Day trips. Yelp Elite pool parties. Ceramics painting.

A few more shots of my "boring" summer vacation, just so I can remember I wasn't a total vampire!

In fact, I did lots of shopping and movie-going as well...two of my favorite pastimes!!  Who is with me when I say this was one of the BEST movies this summer?!

Anyone who lives in Arizona knows, its better to just hide inside like a vampire until the weather cools off again.  So, to some my summer probably seems like a total bore...but sweet freedom was all I tasted!
Heh. So true when you live in the desert.
Tomorrow (today, when this post goes up) my summer ends.  My alarm clock will go off at 5am.  I'll have to join the morning commute.  Day-long meetings.  Eventually that leads to lesson plans on the weekend again.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  Someone pinch me so I can make sure this is all a dream...that I don't have to go back to being a working stiff already!!!  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday!

I'm joining up with The First Grade Parade for my first Friday favorites this week...Pinterest style! Since I've been a crazy pinning machine this summer, I have plenty to share.  It is going to be rough trying to keep this from getting out of hand with pins after pins to show, but maybe I'll cheat a little and pick 5  We'll see about that.

Click HERE to follow my Pinterest account.

Favorite Photobomb:

I love a good photobomb!  It is the new planking, if you will.  While I have attempted a few, this one is just plain perfect because of how accidental it really was.  Even better?  The Imagine Resource link shows how many have used Photoshop to put this poor unassuming Disneyland goer into very very important historically photographed moments.  Hilarious!!

Favorite Teacher Humor:

I really don't know if there is another profession that steals things from home and takes them to school.  If there is, let me know!  Only at my house do we not have a tape dispenser (I only ever have tape available during Christmas when I pull it out of our tubs) and I never have a rubberband or paperclip when I need one.

Favorite Nails:

Despicable Me is one of my all-time favorite animated movies from these past few years and I absolutely loooooved the 2nd one!  It would be pretty neat to try this design I found on Jamegackie's nail blog, on my my nails (but I'm a little spastic, so I might have to just do it on an accent nail).  

Favorite New Snack:

I love spicy food and especially spicy snacks.  This is one that I have had several times in the last couple weeks.  Super tasty, super easy, and perfectly spicy!  Plus, it's edamame, which makes it healthier than chips.  Just use less butter if you want to feel less guilty.

Favorite DIY/Home Decor:

Quirky yet pretty things intrigue me and this is one of them.  I'm not a fan of Anthropologie...their prices make me vomit inside.  Pretty things, but not pretty prices.  In fact, I have only been in to that little store of theirs once.  I saw something I liked, looked at the price tag and definitely pulled away as if it burned me.  Yikes!  I would be willing to give this quirky item a go, especially because I can make them in any color I fancy.

Favorite Fashion Inspiration:

I have a pair of very bright mint skinny jeans (bought them last summer) and am always looking for different ways to pair them with other items.  This pin was love at first sight.  If only it was a little cooler outside, I would rock the living daylights out of the second look in the middle of the top row.  I have a chambray shirt but it always seems too hot to covet it on instead of in my closet.

Favorite Makeup Look:

Oh how I would love to ROCK this some day soon!  It is a tiny bit too much for work, maybe...I do love to wear bright lips and heavy eye makeup to work a couple times a week.  Yes, I wear a full face of makeup to work.  Just because I'm a teacher doesn't mean I can't have fun with my looks...I don't do it for the kids. I do it because it's fun and I feel good! Makeup is part of my routine and it makes me feel purty.  

Now it's your turn to show me your favorite pins from the week or past couple weeks!  What are you pinning and loving?  If you aren't on Pinterest, I'd love to still know what you are pining over.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I Read Wednesday: Summer Edition

I'm finally getting trying to get back in to my reading groove after finishing up a 2-year long journey through National Boards!  It's a slow going process, almost as if I have forgotten how to read or sit and read for a long period of time.  My brain and body may have misplaced its ability to sit and relax without thinking I have something else I need to be writing or typing (FYI, I finished my Boards work officially on June 21) maybe I'll be back to normal in another month?  

Despite having a rough time getting back to reading for enjoyment, I have read several good books in the last month and a half.  So, this is a perfect time to share them in case someone else is looking for a nice book to settle into.

Doll Bones by Holly Black | Many of my Twitter friends were talking this one up quite a bit.  Since I'm always looking for a book my 5th graders will find freaky, I wanted to find out for myself if this one was just as scary as people were saying. definitely had its moments, especially if you get frightened by haunted dolls.  This would have been perfect for my group of kids last year who taught me all about a haunted doll island in Mexico for one of their Unsolved Mysteries projects!  I an adult, Doll Bones didn't have me shaking in my boots, but I want to read it to my kids to see if it scares any of them.  I'm thinking this will be my next October read-aloud.  Normally, I switch between The House on Hackman's Hill or Wait Till Helen Comes. Let's get to it...

I have never read any other books by Holly Black, but she is a great writer of her creepy craft. This one comes with a ghost story from East Liverpool, Ohio in which a father supposedly creates a porcelain doll out of his deceased daughter's bones and somehow this doll ends up in a display cabinet in Poppy's house. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have wild imaginations (the kind I wish so many more kids still had these days) and are very good at creating and weaving a story in which the doll is The Queen and creepily rules over their story. But one night The Queen apparently voices her "story" to Poppy and the kids set out to help put her to rest so she won't haunt them anymore. The kids go on a quest and encounter many roadblocks along the way until they eventually learn the truth about the ghost story.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars  ||  Goodreads average:  3.82 stars

Drinking & Tweeting by Brandi Glanville | I'm not ashamed to say that I am a fan of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Mindless TV makes me happy after working all day!  Feel free to hate on me for reading such a fluff book...but it's my summer break and I looooove me some Beverly HIlls Housewives literature. Out of the 3 who have written books, Brandi's was the best. She may not be my favorite housewife, but I can definitely appreciate where she has come from way more. All in all, this was a great fluffy summer read that I enjoyed reading! While I sometimes hate her candor on the show, it was very very fun to read in this book. Thanks for the entertainment Brandi!  Beware for those who aren't into people with potty mouths or dirty minds though, because Brandi goes there over and over in this one.  

Here's the synopsis from Goodreads to give you a little more on this fine memoir:  Brandi Glanville tells all in this hilarious, no-holds-barred memoir. Fans have been waiting for Brandi’s scoop on one of the biggest divorces of the decade, since her husband of eight years abandoned her and their two sons to marry country singer LeAnn Rimes. Not only does Brandi spill the beans about her side of the split, the lovable housewife shares the incredible wild ride that took her from a life in the ghetto to Hollywood’s most elite circles. For the first time, Brandi talks about how she escaped a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Sacramento and stumbled into a successful modeling career that swept her into a world of Paris Fashion Weeks, private jets, and uncircumcised penises. Before she knew it, Brandi was the perfect Hollywood trophy wife—at least until her marriage exploded.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  3.56 stars

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb | You may have 
read one of Wally's more well-known books called She's Come Undone.  I have read one of his other books, and I can definitely say that he is very talented at getting his readers to be invested in the characters.  He really knows how to develop the plot through crazy minute details, but not in a way that will bore the living daylights out of you.  This one has been on my to-read list for 2+ years and I have put off reading it because,'s 800+ pages. But I decided...I'm on summer break and I finished an insanely grueling process!  I thankfully got the e-book version of this because come on...who wants to break their wrists holding up what seems like a paper weight?  

Lamb does such a nice job of detailing out his characters' lives, that this lengthy style works for him. Poor Domenico, the main character, went through so many ups and downs in this one, starting with his twin brother of course (I won't go into details, because it is part of what reels you in). But because of the catalyst, what happens in the library, he is able to grow so much and learn way more than he ever would have thought possible. I did find myself skimming through all the pages of his grandfather's "legacy," which were extremely detailed and extremely boring and anger-inducing. What a bonified jerk! He has a real knack for writing endings to his books though and like his other two that I have read, just when I was starting to get sick of the length of this one, he reeled me right back in with the wrap-up of all the loose ends.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  4.12 stars

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore:  A Novel by Robin Sloan | I read this little treasure for my book club's July pick.  Not sure if I would have picked this one up if it had not been for my book club, but I am definitely happy I did.  Fans of books, bookstores, and even Google will really enjoy this one!  And don't even THINK of getting it as an e-book!  Just kidding, even this book endorses e-readers in its own little way.  But really, if you do get the e-book version, you won't be able to take it into your bathroom, turn off the lights, and check out the glow-in-the-dark cover...really!!

It is in fact an intriguing read that reminds me of Angels and Demons or a trek to find the holy grail with Monty Python (or maybe even Nicholas Cage in National Treasure). This was a book about books and a bit of a "treasure hunt" with a lot of Google weaved in, which I loved! It takes place in San Francisco and eventually travels to New York into the bowels of an ooooooold library.  Um hello!  Book nerds unite!  I haven't met someone yet who did not enjoy this tome.  You'll have to read this one yourself if you want to go on the journey with Clay and Mr. Penumbra...because I don't want to take away from your treasure hunt of sorts.  

In case you don't believe me, or want to know a little more than I'm willing to give up, here is the synopsis from Goodreads:  The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone—and serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has landed him a new gig working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days on the job, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead “checking out” impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore.

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  3.79 stars

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass | Have you ever finished a book and not wanted to pick up another one because you don't want to spoil the feelings or thoughts you have roiling around in your head?  That's what The Elite did for me.  I know a lot of dystopian fiction people aren't keen on this series because it doesn't necessarily follow the "rules" of the genre, but I was looking past that when I read these.  The 2nd book does, however, hint more at the dystopian side, in case someone who hated the first book is reading this.  For those who have not read the first book, this series is a mix of The Bachelor and The Hunger Games (without the killing).

It's been awhile since a series had me wanting to read the next RIGHT NOW! I did not want to put this one down even though I had all kinds of other tasks I had to get to. The last 2/3 of the book were devoured by moi in one day and when I got to the end I slammed the book down on my lap in a hissy fit...because I probably have to wait another year to read the final book! Nooooooooooooo!!!  Without giving away too much, I have a pretty good idea of who is responsible for all the rebel battles in this one.  Ah yes, this book involves a castle, secret rooms, and rebel attacks.  The ups and downs of the characters in this one had me wanting to read and read and read. Gah! Why can't the next one be out already?! The killer cliff hanger of this 2nd book is way more harsh versus the first one.

My rating:  5 out of 5 stars || Goodreads average:  3.96 stars

I have so many books I still want to devour before heading back to work in a week.  Yes, a week!  Waaaaaaaah!!!  I haven't run into any horrible books this summer, so it seems here like I rate all the books I read 4 or 5 stars, but I purposefully picked books I knew I'd like this summer, since I anticipated not having much time to relax and read.  

Please feel free to add me on Goodreads or follow my reviews there.  I absolutely love discovering new and interesting books that I may not have found otherwise.  

What have you been reading lately?  Any standouts or duds?  Tell me about them!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Crossing off My Bucket List!

About a month ago, I was able to cross off one of my top items on my Bucket List, participating in a flash mob!  It was one of the most fun and exciting moments I've experienced in quite awhile.  I'm addicted and can't wait to do another one.  I would post the video, but we did the flash mob for a company who filmed it (rather than Flash Mob America, who usually films them) and they have a copyright on it and won't release it.  Laaaaaaame!

So, onto my 2nd bucket list item that I started to conquer yesterday.  I'm sort of cheating and spreading it out over 2 days, but my adult onset ADD won't allow me to watch it all in one day. Maybe I should actually tell you what it is...

But as I'm watching these movies back to back, all kinds of thoughts are running through my head. Just call me a HP Nerd.  And frankly, I'm curious to know what other HP Nerds think as well.

Me, an HP Nerd getting her mind-blown by just being here...finally!
My least favorite movie is Chamber of Secrets and while I can't quite put my finger on it, even after watching it lsat night, it's one that sort of lags for me towards the middle.  As a book, Chamber of Secrets, is my 2nd to the bottom on the list of which Harry Potter book I like the most.  The bottom being Order of the Phoenix.  It seemed to move the slowest out of all the books in the series...but don't get it twisted, I still loved it.  I remember it taking me a lot longer to get through than all the other books though.  Then again, I was knee-deep into student teaching at the time.

My two favorites are by far Goblet of Fire and Deathly Hallows!  Sorceror's Stone comes after that...and might I add that I have a copy of Philosopher's Stone, bought when I was London!  I had to have it.

No matter how bad the special effects were in Sorceror's Stone, it was still one of the most magical movies out of the bunch.  Everything I imagined Hogwarts and Diagon Alley to be came to life for me in the movie.  Not to mention, I'm now watching these after visiting and devouring The Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter last year in Orlando when I was at the Kagan conference.

Don't be jealous! I felt like I was in a hazy dream the whole day.
Mmmmmmm...Butter Beer!  Soooo worth it.  I had it once at The Three Broomsticks and a second time from Hogsmeade.

My chocolate frog didn't leap away and I got a Dumbledore card.  Sweeeeet!

My favorite picture of all...Hogwarts.  The parting clouds and sun MADE this perfect.
I can't help but giggle when Harry gets the Marauder's Map from the Weasley twins for the first time and think of my gigantic mug I got and love to drink out of.

Favorite souvenir...because I couldn't afford a cape and scarf on this trip. :-(
All this and I really really want to read all the books back to back sometime soon.  Why not?!

So what I want to know, from one HP Nerd to another...Which book AND movie is your least favorite?  Which book AND movie is your most favorite?

On a Teacher's Deserted Island...

It's time for my first link-up!  She over at Sprinkle Teaching Magic just posted about some of her celebrity Teachers Pay Teachers members and I wanted to follow suit...since I have quite a few that I'm awestruck by.  You can watch her YouTube video about her favorites and her answer to the question, If you were stranded on a deserted classroom island and could only teach with one TPT teacher's curriculum, who would it be and why?
This question totally isn't fair for me right now!  I discovered Young Teacher Love (AKA Miss Nannini) this summer and am starstruck, if you will.  So, I'm going to cheat a little for this one.

1) Teaching in Room 6
She has some of the most amazing materials that can completely change your math instruction and student achievement!  The biggest and most favorite item in her shop is by far her Calendar Math for 5th grade (she also makes it for other grades, so check her store out).

In fact, she just finished an all-in-one product that makes Calendar Math even more user-friendly and set for your's 300 pages!!!  I plan to purchase this one soon (come on pay day!) and cannot wait to better implement this spiraled AND scaffolded program in my classroom this year.  Last year, it sort of fizzled out due to some confusion on my part and plain insanity.
I also just purchased her spiral homework pack for the entire year (this is another product that she makes for multiple grade levels) and am truly appreciative of having something I do not have to make I did in the past years with my fellow teammates.  I look forward to having something extremely CCSS based and balanced for my student and families.  I was lucky enough to win a $50 TPT gift card from Sprinkle Teaching Magic and this is what I bought with it (along with a few other goodies that had been on my wish list...but I'll get to that next).

2)  Miss Nannini

And here is the new store I discovered earlier this summer when I was reading one of my favorite teacher blogs.  I found Young Teacher Love through a linky party and it was love at first sight.  Since I discovered Ms. Nannini's blog, she has exposed me to The Dream Class book as well as her Procedures checklist.  And most importantly, this teacher is an expert on CCSS and has created some of the most in depth and incredible classroom resources for multiple grades...all based on what she needed and used in her classroom this past school year.  If you haven't already bought them or added them to your TPT wish list, then you are missing out!

The first item below are CCSS based assessments that teachers can use as often as they wish.  They coincide well with the 2nd product I am posting from her store as well.  I am in awe of how in depth she went into with both these items (for both Math and ELA).  Both are available for such inexpensive prices as well.
Miss Nannini also makes this for ELA CCSS

Miss Nannini has put together CCSS checklists and more in this product in order to allow students to keep track of their progress and goals as well as reflect on their learning multiple ways.  I found this when I was searching for a new and improved way to implement data binders in my classroom.  There are a ton of these CCSS checklist systems on TPT, but this one is the most student-friendly (and teacher-friendly) that I have found.  I especially love the rubric/scale posters she includes to allow students to label their learning for you and themselves.  Check it out!
This is also available for Math CCSS
I could go on and on about several other of Miss Nannini's products, but these are two of the most essential items I would take with me to the deserted island.

There you have it...evidence as to why it would be way too hard for me to choose just one store to take with me to the deserted island.  I don't think I could have one without the other...after all, the reflection and assessment piece goes hand-in-hand with the Calendar Math.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

If you'd like to participate in She's linky party, you can link up to it here.  She has 3 questions you can blog about, in case you'd like to blog about your own store or a product you have had major success with in your own classroom.