Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 in 13 {Linky Party}

I'm joining The Colorful Apple and several other teacher bloggers for this fun little 2013 wrap-up linky party...better late than never!!

Crud!  This is going to be a lot harder than I thought.  Favorite. Article. Of. Clothing. 2013. Got it!  I fell in love with wearing button up blouses this past year, mostly to work, but in general...you will find a lot of button up blouses with sleeves, without sleeves, embellished collars (see my above Instagram photo), plain collars, high-low in my closet. You name it!  I actually just bought 2 new ones for my return to work after vacation.  There's something about wearing new clothes out after Christmas that I've always loved.  Weird.  I know.

My hubby and I have been chatting about this for the last couple days actually.  We are movie buffs and always have been, so we always see a lot of movies each year.  But this one, by far, was both of our favorites.  We saw it in 3-D, so I don't even know if it will be as amazing when it comes out on Blu-Ray.  It was a nail-biter and a major tear jerker.  Fantastic!

We just started watching Big Bang this year...I know, I know.  Yes, I have been living under a rock.  But, we (my hubby and I) are GIGANTIC fans and were since the first minute of the very first episode.  My favorite is Sheldon of course...must I even explain why?  Have you seen my shirt I got recently (it's a bit of a combo with Grumpy Cat too).

One would think this would be a hard choice for me. I'm a Yelp elite, so I like to try all sorts of different restaurants around town, especially homegrown varieties.  LOLOLOL.  I'm fairly certain my Chicagoan friend would agree when I say my favorite restaurant I discovered this year would be...Portillo's.  It's not exactly a restaurant, but it works and I'm obsessed with it!  I have never been to Chicago (have always wanted to go though), so being able to have the real deal Chicago-style dog and a few other bites that are famous there is seriously awesome!  I've already been 3 times and it's more than a 30 minute drive from my house.  It's soooooooo worth it.

Hmmmmmm...this is a tricky one.  I would have to say my outing for my birthday this year to Art of Merlot (in Scottsdale, Arizona) with a large group of really good friends was something new and it was definitely fun.  Apparently, I can paint when someone else tells me how to do it and gives me the basics of what I need to paint.  Ha!  Yeah right.  Have you tried one of these types of places before?  You get to bring your own wine and they basically give you the supplies and step-by-step directions on how to paint your own canvas.

Oh goodness.  My favorite gifts were those that I didn't ask for.  This Christmas, even though I did a wish list for fun, my husband and family got me things that weren't on the list.  I especially loved that my hubby took some things he remembered me mentioning during the year or already knew I liked and grabbed those up for me.  He even went to Charming Charlie's and picked out a necklace he thought I would like since he knows my favorite color and that I like statement necklaces.  I don't have pictures loaded from the holiday yet, but there are two Instagram shots (above) that show slippers that I really love and the game my hubby got me on his own accord.  I loooooooove any sort of dancing game.

I couldn't even begin to tell you, but my LOLOLOL board is one of my favorites.  Here it is in case you'd like to look at the pins and grab them up yourself...for a good laugh!

Well, since I technically just started up a blog again (after several years of not keeping one), I don't have a ton of posts quite yet.  But it seems my most popular on the Internet is my first Stitch Fix post here...it's kind of crazy to see how many views it has received.  It even made its way on to the official Stitch Fix review blog.  On the other hand, I really love my blog post from the Day In The Life linky party where I got to take pictures of my typical day at work and post them.  What's cool is, I used those photos I took to enter myself in to a Stitch Fix contest...and I won a runner up prize!  I cashed in my $50 credit last week on my 2nd fix (that post will be up soon).

Well, by far would be my shining moment of completing and fully submitting my National Board Certification portfolios and assessment center exercises.  While I missed it by 6 teeny tiny points...it was a HUGE accomplishment to even take on the process and to complete it as well.  I am retaking this year and hope to make up those 6 points through a retake of 1 entry and 2 assessment center exercises.

Along with my National Boards journey, I got some really amazing pictures as I documented my 2-year process.  But this one, which I took during a weekend working retreat was by far my favorite picture of the year.  It is one of those pictures that shows clarity in more ways than one.  It was taken in Tubac, Arizona.

Oh my.  This is way too hard.  2013 was an insanely memorable year.  But then again, so is every single year.  There is no way I can pinpoint a single memory except to say that a lot of the above mentioned and show pictures tell a lot about it.  I had a lot of really amazing moments with friends and family this year, so there isn't really one thing I could choose.  Sorry...I'm chickening out on this one.

Hmmmmm...I would say I want to definitely get healthier and I actually want to participate in the 52 week money saving challenge!  By the end of the year, it will be nice to have an extra $1,300 saved up.


Easier said than done.  But with having to do my retake for Boards and dealing with one of my hardest and trying group of students, I am being way more mindful of relaxing in my work life and home life.  It's something that takes a lot of work though, so it will be tough.

So, how was your 2013?  What is your favorite memory?  Pick one of the categories and let me know what your answer would be.  I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Showing Our Love for Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.

Monday, December 9, 2013

R.A.C.K. In Our Classroom | Day 1

So today I introduced Random Acts of Christmas Kindness to my students.  We had a quick little share-out about the Sandy Hook events last year.  They were all extremely open to embracing this R.A.C.K. opportunity to support the Sandy Hook community....so we were off with a bang this morning.  In case you missed my blog post from yesterday, I linked up to What the Teacher Wants blog post and Teachers Pay Teachers product here.

I chose today's R.A.C.K. and it happened to be for our administrators.  We have 3 on our campus and we love them!  So, the kids had an absolute ball getting their first R.A.C.K. ready for them.  Part of this one was secretly delivering it to the ladies who take care of us on our campus.  We sealed their finished products up in 3 envelopes and included the anonymous "You've Been R.A.C.K.ed" cards to the envelopes.  I sneakily dropped them off outside their office doors.  It made me giddy doing so and the kids were way ecstatic when I came back to the classroom and told them I was successful in not being discovered.

At the end of the day, I reminded them they would be able to deliver another Random Act of Kindness and they actually cheered!  I looooooove it!  I'd say this is already a GIGANTIC success.

Random Acts of Kindness in Support of Sandy Hook

Image from What the Teacher Wants | Click image to visit her post
The community of Sandy Hook is asking the nation to remember those precious lives lost almost one year ago by giving through random acts of kindness.  I don't know about others, but this was something I took especially to heart last year when I stood in front of my students and imagined what I would have done if this had happened at our school.  I can't imagine the sadness and loss the community members of Sandy Hook felt.  But we did our best from our side of the country to show them we supported them and what they were going through by making and sending them handmade paper snowflakes for when the students returned to school.

How Can You Show Your Support Today?

With the approaching one year anniversary of such a tragedy, I want to make sure we take the opportunity to make the random acts of kindness part of our school life and in turn help my students see how they can pass it on outside of our school walls.  With the help of What the Teacher Wants R.A.C.K. product sold on TPT and 4th Grade Frolic's blog post (where I found out about this request from Sandy Hook)...we will be kicking off RACK in our classroom the rest of these 2 weeks leading up to our winter break.  We would like you to join in with us, whether you purchase the pack from TPT or come up with your own way to show random acts of kindness, please take this opportunity to remember and honor those 26 precious lives lost and the community who continues to heal.

On sale at TPT for $3.00 via Rachelle @ What the Teacher Wants | Click on image

Do you plan on using Random Acts of Kindness in your classroom or at home?  Let me know.  I'd love to hear how you spread the support and kindness.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I Read Wednesday: Of the Soul Variety

I really need to get my rear in gear!  I still have about 8 books I need to read by December 31st to meet my Goodreads reading goal for the year.  It's kind of sad seeing that I have not even read 75 books when my goal the last 2 years was over 100.  That whole National Boards thing definitely is the culprit.  In this case...I can't wait for winter break so I can read all kinds of books I've had on my to-reads list for ages (I had a load of fun doing that during my fall break).

In the meantime, I've only read one book since the last WIRW post.  Whoops!

Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Oh how I wish this sequel was as good as the first.  Since Unwind, the first in the series, was all about how unwanted teens are unwound for organ donation purposes, this one had to somehow follow-up with the immorality behind it.  Imagine taking parts from a ton of Unwinds and putting them all together to make a new human.  What happens to the soul?  Will it have one?

Depending on what you might believe yourself, you might really love or hate what begins to develop in this human project one "company" attempts.  

Meanwhile, the characters from Unwind are struggling with what happened to them at the end of the last book.  They all survived but seem to be more damaged or lost than before.  One is battling with an arm he was given while unconscious as well as his past anger issues, another is battling with her choice to not be given an unwound part to help her live fully, and the other is battling with his choice to be a Clapper.  

I really cannot seem to put my finger on why I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as Unwind.  It certainly covers the kind of topic so many people argue over today (just like the first book).  But Shusterman did not spend as much time on the "Frankenstein" character as much as I had hoped he would.  Also, I hate Nelson.  That is all.  Let me know if you agree after reading it or if you already have read Unwholly.  Here's hoping the 3rd installment pick sup the pace a bit and brings in all the political issues the first one had.  

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars ||  Goodreads average:  4.29 stars

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.  

I'd love to know what you have been reading or have read lately!  Care to share?

Link up with Amy (last week's) to share your latest reads or what you are reading right now.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Currently

It's December 1, which means I can officially start celebrating Christmas.  I already tuned my car radio to the 24/7 Christmas music station.  The Christmas tree has been put up (not finished though...I'll get to that down below).  My girlfriends and I had our favorites party today too.  Thank goodness!  I'm sick of covering my ears and eyes when I walk into stores who have been playing and putting out stuff since the beginning of October.  Yeah!  You probably think I'm a scrooge now...but I'm really not...in fact, I'm quite the obsessed Christmas fan.  After all, it is my favorite holiday!

The spread from our favorites party earlier today...my favorites is at the bottom of this photo.  I brought my favorite pampering items (Freeman's masks, nail polish, and cupcakes from my favorite local bakery)


Nope, I'm not afraid to admit that I am a fan of RHOA, or reality television in general.  Actually, my favorite set of housewives are the Beverly Hills ladies.  But I absolutely love Nene and can't get enough.  I could easily do without Kenya though as she is quite irritating.  For those who are fans...what do you think of Candy's mom being incredibly crazy and psychopath-like with Todd.  She's a bit overbearing and up in her business?  Trainwreck!


Technically, I didn't actually score fantastic deals...unless you include the 3 or 4 Blu-Rays we found at Target for $4 each.  It was just nice to go out with my husband and do a little fun shopping together.  I cheated and bought the pair of black boots I just put on my Christmas wishlist the other day  (see picture below...and check out the best part on the back of the boot).  Whoops!  The thing is, I didn't want to miss out since I wear a pretty typical size shoe.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  So, I also scored myself the 2 seriously gorgeous Essie nail polishes from their winter 2013 line.  Check 'em out!  Need. To. Wear. Soon!

Image from Pinterest - Target


The 5-day break I am just finishing up here was a really nice relaxing one.  I was able to get cleaning done along with some shopping and lounging as well.  Not to mention, I got to hang out with friends and enjoy some time without worrying about work or my classroom.  So, I am dreading these next 3 weeks because they are sure to drag even though 3 weeks sounds like such a short amount of time.  In fact, the 3rd week is our 2nd quarter district benchmark testing week and that means testing all day long in a silent testing environment...think state testing.  Yep!  Dreading it.


I was really looking forward to getting my tree put up along with some of my many many many decorations.  We have one of those fake trees that comes in what seems like a million pieces, so it takes almost 2 hours to put up!  That is without even putting on the lights or decorations.  Okay, so I actually got it up in a record amount of time and when I plugged in the 2 strings of lights, I remembered that one of them has an entire color that is burnt out.  Of course, this happened last year, but I was too lazy to toss it and buy a new set.  I went out to Target to grab a new string, got home, plugged it in, started to wind it around the tree, and what happens?  It is too short!!  Gah!  Luckily, my nice hubby grabbed another string while he was out on his dinner break.  


We always get our performance check (for passing the state test the year before) about 2 weeks before Christmas.  In the past, I have lovingly used this to buy my family their gifts.  My favorite part of Christmas is being able to put in some creative thought to find the perfect gift for everyone.  So, I relish that check and always chomp at the bit waiting for it to be passed out.  It needs to happen soon!!  My palms are itching.

Favorite Tradition:

Since this is my favorite holiday, I tend to have quite a few favorite traditions.  I'll probably have to do a whole other blog post on this.  But I'd say the newest tradition is something my husband and I started doing last year.  We each stuffed the other's stocking with goodies and then before our family comes over for Christmas morning festivities, we sit down in our Christmas pajamas and open them up.  It's even more fun than opening up our regular gifts!  I couldn't believe all the little items he stuffed in there. Plus, it was a ball being able to stuff his stocking with little gadgets and man-cave type stuff.

Link up with the many other teachers on Farley's blog.  What are you currently up to?