Thursday, November 26, 2015

Stuff & Things: Time for Thanksgiving

Stuff, Things, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you are all enjoying time today with people you love, good food, and full hearts!

I decided to link up with Kristin and Joey today for Stuff & Things, and I thought it was a perfect day to share some things that I'm thankful for.  BUT rather than the regular, boring, "I'm thankful for my husband, family, etc..." (You all know that I am!), I thought it would be fun to share some other things I'm thankful for this year!

1. My cell phone
Seriously, I don't know how I ever survived in life before I had a cell phone.  It is my endless source of connection to the outside world, entertainment, and boredom buster.  I never leave home without it....and if I do, my whole day is off kilter.

2. My FitBit
I love that this validates my life by proving that my daily steps are actually meaningful and that the endless laps around my classroom really are helping me to burn calories.

3. My blankie
I still sleep with my baby blanket, and I'm so glad that I have it.  That blanket brings me comfort and helps me to sleep at night.

4. Books
In both audio and paper format, I love, love, love books.  I love that I can "read" more than one book at a time because one I can listen to as I go about other things in life (like driving to work) and the other I can curl up with on the couch or in bed.

5. Television
Whether I'm binge watching TV shows on Netflix, watching a movies or other TV shows, doing my PiYo workout, or just need some background noise, I would not be able to survive without my TV.

6. Christmas Music
I think it's pretty special that the Christmas holiday has it's own genre of music.  There is a special quality to Christmas music that other songs just don't have.  I don't care what people say about it being "too early" for Christmas music.  I started listening to my collection on the first of October, and I still haven't gotten through all of it yet!

7. Cheat Days
I am doing my best to keep my food intake within my daily calorie limits each day.  With exercise and watching my calories, I have actually lost about 16 pounds and was able to get back into clothes that had gotten too small.  As proud as I am of this, I also really love food, and I simply refuse to be picky about what or how much I eat on Thanksgiving.  :)

8. Boots
Enough said.

So what things are you thankful for this Thanksgiving??

Monday, November 23, 2015

Teacher Thoughts- 1st Edition

Thank you for joining me for my first official Teaching Thoughts post!

Last week, Kristin posted this article that listed things parents do that drive teachers crazy.  You should take a moment and look over the list.  I'll wait....


Now that you're back, she and I agree that this list is completely asinine.  Most of these "problems" are not real problems, and if my problem was that someone brought me a mug on the first day of school, I would be thrilled.  Do I need another mug?  No.  But the simple act of someone welcoming you to a new school year is what really matters.

Would you like to know some things parents do that actually drive teachers crazy?  I'd be happy to share some real world problems with you, in no particular order.  (While I have mentioned some of these things in previous posts, it appears that they need to be shared again.)

1. Take their child's word for it.
Parents love their children.  They should.  But you lied to your parents, and your child probably lies to you.  Who WANTS to tell their parents that they got in trouble at school?  I am willing to bet that if you think the teacher did something unreasonable, you better check with him/her first.  We don't just give consequences to students just because we like it.  Just as you don't like to have to punish your child, neither do we.  Ask your child's teacher for the other side of the story before you get upset.

2. Complain/argue about their child's consequences.
In sixth grade, my team and I send home a 6th grade handbook (in addition to our school district's student handbook) with specific rules and consequences for sixth grade.  Parents are required to look over the information with their child, provide their contact information, and sign a sheet stating that they have seen the handbook.  A copy can be kept for their reference.  At my district, our students leave 6th grade and go to the Jr/Sr high school.  We are preparing them for more responsibility.  If they do not follow the rules, they receive a consequence.  The end.

3. Go over the teacher's head.
If there is a problem, please talk to your child's teacher.  If you are not satisfied with the outcome, then talk to the building principal.  If you are still not satisfied, then go to the Superintendent.  If you continue to remain unsatisfied, take the issue to the school board.  If I don't know that you have a problem with something, I cannot make changes to the situation.  I am human.  I will make mistakes.  I will apologize when I mess up, but I cannot do this and work to resolve the problem unless I know that there is one.  Skipping over us and going straight to our bosses makes us resentful.  I doubt you would like it if I went to your boss and complained about you without talking to you first.

4. Blame the teacher for the child's bad grade.
I don't like to see kids fail, but the reality is that sometimes they do.....even the best students!  We all have "off" days.  If I know that many students failed because I didn't teach something well, I will reteach and give the test again later.  I am doing everything I can to help your child to be successful.  I can't give them the answers to the test.

 5. Expect teachers to be infallible.  
Sometimes, I have to be firm.  Sometimes, I have to give a failing grade.  Sometimes, I have to give a consequence.  Frankly, sometimes, I have to yell.  I am certain that as parents, you are not always perfect, please don't expect me to be.  I will mess up.  I will say the wrong thing.  I may upset your child because they don't like their consequences, or they didn't like being corrected.  But it's my job.  It's my job to prepare your child for the next grade.  It's my job to provide correction when it's needed.  I wish I could be 100% perfect all the time.  Sometimes I'm sick.  Sometimes I'm tired.  Sometimes, I'm all in and completely focused.  Sometimes, I'm annoyed at the behavior of another student or class.  In all, I am a human being with emotions, and sometimes they get the best of me.

These are all things that I have experienced at one point or another in my career.  I take things very personally, and it's hard for me when my character is being attacked.  It weighs very heavy on me, and it makes it hard to stay positive.  The students rarely know that these things are taking place.  They may be mad at me for taking their recess on Monday, but by Tuesday (or even 5 minutes later on Monday), we're good again.  There are times I think parents could take a lesson from their children.

Fellow teachers, what do you think about this list?  Is there anything you would add?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Teacher Thoughts

I've got a lot to say on the subject of teaching and education.

As a teacher, I feel that I am highly qualified to discuss the subject.  I've got so many thoughts floating around in my brain and topics weighing on my heart, and I've decided to make an effort to blog more in order to share my thoughts with all of you.

With that being said, these posts will NOT be just for teachers!  If you've ever been to school, know someone who is in school, have a child in school, know someone who has a child in school, will have a child in school, etc. etc. etc. these posts will be for you, too!

I hope that you will join me as I share what's on my mind regarding teaching and education in today's society.  I'm going to call my little segment "Teacher Thoughts."

As I begin this journey, here are a few of my past posts I've written along these lines...

Things to Remember about Teachers
On Being a Teacher
What Not to Say to a Teacher

"See" you tomorrow for my 1st Edition of Teacher Thoughts!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap...Reveal!

I am honored to have hosted The 4th Annual Pumpkin Swap again this year with Kristin!  She is a MUCH better blogger than I am, and I'm thankful that she still hosts this with me because who doesn't love a good swap!?

This year, I was partnered with Joey from HodgesPodges.  As always, I have loved getting to "know" my swap partner and reading her blog.  As it turns out, we both have a deep love of nail polish!  Be sure to hop on over to her blog today to see what I sent to her in the swap!

Package immediately upon opening

Sweet little note from Joey

Burt's Bees Cuticle Cream, Sparkly silver nail polish, journal, and colored pens
I think Joey hit the nail on the head.  There are few things that I love more than pens and nail polish!  The cuticle cream and journal will definitely be put to good use! :)

I didn't mind that the package wasn't specifically fall themed, but truthfully, I'll be using these items IN the fall, so that counts, right?!

Thank you to everyone who joined us this year for The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap!  Link up below, and visit the other bloggers who joined us!  It's always fun to see what others received from their partners!

Happy Fall Y'all!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October Books

The good news is that I did better with books in October than I did in September!  

So here's what I managed to read....

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book more than I did. I listened to the audiobook on Audible, and I'm glad that I listened to the story instead of reading it. (Although, it was over 20 hours long...)

Overall, I liked the story, but I felt that the story went on and on, and sometimes the changes in point of view were confusing. To me, this was mostly because I sometimes forgot what was going on with the other characters by the time the story returned to them.

In the end, after so much build up, things resolve so quickly. I didn't feel that the ending was as satisfying as it could have been after A LONG story leading me there.

Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am officially hooked! I love the concept of time travel, and this novel does not disappoint. I was captivated by Claire's story, and I didn't want to stop reading! There were moments of this book that moved me to tears, as well. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Teaching Gifted Kids in Today's Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use (Revised & Updated Third Edition)Teaching Gifted Kids in Today's Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use by Susan Winebrenner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been a tremendous help for helping me to understand options for teaching gifted (and advanced) students in my own classroom. While it is SO important to help our struggling students to grow, catch up, and fill in missing pieces of knowledge, gifted and advanced students are often ignored. Because of this, they do not grow to their full potential, nor do they make any real progress or truly learn.

I have already begun implementing some techniques in my classroom, and I will continue to add more. I want these students to be challenged and to have meaningful learning just as much as the students who need more assistance.

This book was the text for a class I'm taking through Learner's Edge.  I really needed to get it finished this month.  I was looking over my work list the other day, and it turns out they recommend you return your work a month before it's due.  I'm quite behind schedule.  Whoops.

The even better news is that I met my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for the year!  I set a goal for myself to read 30 books this year, and by finishing these last two books, I have hit my goal right on the nose!  There are still two months left to go, and I have MANY more books on my "to read" list.  My goal for next year will be based on how many books I actually finish this year.  Subscribing to Audible has been a HUGE factor in allowing me to read with limited time!  I can listen at the gym, on my commute, and when I'm working around the house.  I highly recommend using Audible if you've got a lot going on!  :)

What did you read this month?

Also, don't forget to link up with Kristin and I on Friday, November 6th to reveal your Great Pumpkin Swap Packages!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Through the Years

Happy Halloween!

Growing up, we were not really into trick-or-treating or Halloween in my family.  As an adult, though, Scott and I enjoy putting together good couples costumes and hitting the town with our friends!

Here are some of our past costumes!

Halloween 2008- Joker & Robin: This was the first Halloween that we got dressed up and went out together.  We were invited to a party by one of Scott's co-workers.  The co-worker had a family member that was remodeling a home.  They went all out with the decorations!  It was a really good time. 
Halloween 2012- Daphne & Fred: Scott's brother and his ex-fiance used to have a party at their house each year.  There was always good food and fun!

Halloween 2013- The Mad Hatter & Alice:  We were headed to the aforementioned yearly party and then to meet friends.  I was miserably sick with tonsillitis for the SECOND time that fall.  But we already had the costumes, and I wasn't wasting the money!  haha

Halloween 2014- The Riddler & Bat Girl:   This is my favorite!  We had SUCH a fun night out with friends.  
This year, we weren't even sure if Scott would have to work or not.  As it turns out, he does have the weekend off.  So we'll be scrounging around for what's leftover in stores for costumes tomorrow!

What will you be for Halloween this year?

What's your favorite Halloween costume?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

So you're going to Universal Studios??


I have some tips for you!

(I began writing this post MONTHS ago.  Scott and I visited Universal in early March.  I just finally got more of my pictures off of my phone for sharing.)

1) Wear sneakers.
Yes, I know it's hot in Florida.  Yes, I know that you may not like to have your feet stuffed inside socks inside of shoes when it's upwards of 80 degrees.  But trust me on this.  Your feet, legs, back, and entire body will thank you.  And me.

2) Make sure you grab a map.
On our first day there,  we left the parks a few times.  Every.  Single.  Time we left, we said, "We need to make sure we grab a map when we go back in."  Not until the end of the day on the first day did we remember to grab a map on our way OUT.

3) Speaking of which, that map will help you to do this step: Make a plan.
We had park to park passes for Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.  I had an idea of what I wanted to see HARRY POTTER WORLD .  I had been to Universal before, 14 years ago, and wanted to revisit some attractions that (recent high school graduate, me) enjoyed before.  However, it would have been helpful that first day to know where all of those things are actually located.  This would have saved us probably at least a couple of thousand steps and maybe would have helped (at least a little) my nearly dead body after walking around in flip flops our first day.  (See #1)

By the end of our first day, my FitBit stats had me at just under 20,000 steps.  If I could have moved at all, I probably would've taken a walk around the Marina where we were staying to hit that awesome goal.  

4) Two days is plenty.
We had park to park passes for two days.  Universal was running a deal that if you bought tickets for two days, you got the third day free.  We did not go back the third day.  The Universal parks are MUCH smaller than Disney's parks.  We actually did most of what we wanted to do on the first day (which we figured out after we looked at our map when we got back to our room....see #2), but there were still a few things we missed.  Some we missed quite literally.  In Universal Studios, we actually missed an entire section of the park!  Others we didn't want to wait in line for the first day and decided to hit up the second day.

It is possible that if you have kids, you may need that third day.  We were two childless adults so parts of the park (like the Dr. Seuss area of Universal Islands of Adventure), did not really have anything for us.  (Although, I would've ridden The Cat in the Hat ride if Scott wouldn't have made fun of me.... ;) )

5) Harry Potter World is CROWDED.

That's me.  With my interactive wand.  It's a replica of Hermione's.

Ok, you all know that I'm a Harry Potter nerd.  I thought that some of the hoopla (especially for the Hogsmede park, which has been open for quite some time) would have died down by now.

I was wrong.

These small sections of the park are fascinating, breath taking, and exciting, and you can barely move or do anything without someone being in your way.

In Diagon Alley (the dragon escaping from Gingotts)

Diagon Alley shops

It would also have helped if Scott appreciated it as much as I did.  He enjoyed the rides. (We rode Escape from Gringotts in the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Hogsmede in Universal Islands of Adventure.)  While he rode terrifying roller coasters, I was able to go back and explore the shops a bit on my own...again, hard to do with the insane number of people crowded into these small spaces.

This is the entrance to Dumbledore's office.  It is in Hogwarts in the Hogsmede Park as you wind your way through Hogwarts to the broomstick ride.

Gringotts chandelier as part of the line for the Escape from Gringotts ride.

6) Sometimes, it's worth being a "single rider."
Universal does offer express passes.  BUT you have to purchase it.  They do not offer an express pass for individual rides.  You pay an extra $80 for two people, and you can get right on rides.  I'm sorry, Universal, but after I paid you over $300 for tickets, I'm not giving you more money.  I'll stand in line thank you.

I tend to be a scaredy cat.  So even though I love all of those rides that make you feel like you are in the thick of the action, fun, and danger, I tend to jump and scream like a kid.  I am not a huge fan of riding a ride for the first time alone.  After I know what to expect, I'm much better.  So when we went back to ride a few rides for a second time, we took the single rider line.  This cuts down wait times tremendously.  We essentially got right on a couple of rides.  The single rider line helps the ride workers fill rows.  For example, if the ride seats a row of three and two people are riding together, a single rider will fill the final seat in the row.  Scott obviously used this option when he went on the roller coasters, too.

If you're not a big baby, and you don't like waiting in line, go for it!

7) There really is something there for everyone!
While these parks seem to be geared more toward adults, they do have areas and attractions that are great for kids.  If you do have kids, be sure to check size recommendations before you get their hopes up.  (I have a student who went to Hogsmede when she was in third grade and was not tall enough for the Harry Potter ride...).

I am NOT a roller coaster person, as I have already stated, but they do have a couple of (what looked to me) like absolutely terrifying, death defying roller coasters. So Scott was happy.

We both LOVED the Transformers ride.  Our first day, we walked in, and the wait time was only 10 minutes.  We actually wanted to ride it again before leaving the park, but our first day, it was shut down for the day when we went back (it was near closing time), and the second day, the wait times were insanely long.  They didn't have a single rider line, or we obviously would have taken advantage of that (see #6).

So there you have it!  My super expert tips to maximize your enjoyment of your Universal vacation!

Have any of you been to Universal?  Any tips or favorites things to share??
Don't forget that your Pumpkin Swap packages should be mailed to your partners today!  :)

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