June 23, 2016

Now that the longest day of the year is over...

I can say that I'm 99% ready for fall.

I'll go ahead and just turn in my basic card early this year. I'm ready for cool air, dark nights, colored leaves, and bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils.

I know.

Summer is just starting this week, officially. I've been on summer break since May 26th, and it seems like "spring" comes later and later each year. We have maybe one week of pleasant 70-degree weather in May, then a day of 45-degree weather, one more 70-degree day, and then it's 95-degrees for two months.

Or maybe more than two months. We're only 2 weeks into this 90-degrees every day thing. At least it's not humid, but I don't know that I've disliked summer more than I've disliked it this year.

Every time I walk past the outside shed that has all of the fall decorations stored away in it, I get anxious for the day when I can get them out. That's completely insane, right?

Also completely insane is that it was kind of momentous that I had to put on actual clothes yesterday because I had somewhere to be.

I haven't taken a picture in awhile. Note the farmer's tan. 
*The purse is new from Nordstrom Rack. It's Marc by Marc Jacobs and is the perfect size for everyday use. I can also just stuff it in my big tote bag if I'm going to work (not that I've been to work recently). I love it. It was worth every penny.
*Sandals are Target, last year. 
*Shorts are Old Navy, 3 years ago (buy Old Navy shorts, they are the best shorts)
*Tank is Gap, this spring, and this was the only color offered (blue/red...that I'm wearing with black shorts) and I would have ordered 7 more if they had different colors. I love it. 

I suppose I'll miss the opportunity to wear gym shorts every day when mid-August comes around. But real clothes is a small price to pay for having something to do each day.

How about you? Ready for summer to be over?

June 22, 2016

Updates and Such

Sometimes I feel like I keep a lot to myself. I didn't used to, but I just kind of do now. I'm not sure where this has come from. I share a lot on this blog, but not as much as I used to, say, four years ago.

Here are some things I thought of sharing, didn't, and then wanted to share before I forgot.

Scott lost his wedding ring. He told me via Skype one day I was going to kill him and I thought it meant his stock crashed in the market (he likes to play the market). He said he lost his ring at the gym. Which is sad and depressing and it wasn't an expensive ring but obviously has a lot of sentimental value. 7 years, 4 deployments, etc. He said he was going to order some of the rubber rings (more than one because he does tend to lose things) and we'd just get him a new one when he got home.

Then he said he found his ring, almost two weeks later. I asked where and he said he asked the attendant at the gym one more time and the guy said Yeah! I just found this! and pulled it out of his pocket. I asked Scott if he was sure it was his and he was like Yeah, it is because it is so scratched and nicked and bent that, seriously now, it couldn't be anyone else's.

I think he might be getting a new ring for Christmas anyway.

The township we own a house in in Pennsylvania...sorry, that sentence sounds weird. Scott owns a house in Pennsylvania and the township sent me a letter saying that ordinance something-or-other was being violated because there were weeds over 8 inches high. They sent me a picture of the violation.

I gave this major side-eye because, if you knew the neighborhood, weeds 8 inches high are the least of the problems. However, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt (as my mom told me to do) and assume they're trying to clean up the area. My parents graciously went over to the house and cut down all the weeds and then I took the new pictures and watermarked them with the address and date and passive-aggressively sent them to the township.

After all of this was dealt with, I told Scott about it. Because that's how deployment works: you keep a lot of things to yourself so as not to stress out the soldier and you attempt to deal with everything you possibly can without having a discussion about it. He doesn't need my questions because I'm an adult (sort of) and my power of attorney proves it.

Anyway, I was not very nice to the township about it. I have 18 million things to worry about right now and they're not one of them. They had addressed the notice to him and I responded back with He is currently deployed to Afghanistan and will not be receiving your letters. Address your notices to me. I don't think my bitterness snuck in too much, right?

When I eventually told Scott about it, he said I've got 99 problems and Decatur Township ain't one. I agree.

I was looking around the house the other day, wondering what I could do with my time and I decided I didn't like the yellow bathroom anymore. I painted this bathroom yellow less than two years ago. I really wanted a yellow bathroom. I still like the idea of a yellow bathroom but not in this house. In fact, at this moment, I want this bathroom to be not-yellow. And I like gray. Most of our rooms are painted gray, and I particularly like the shade Valspar Rocky Bluffs that's in the kitchen. So I found the leftover paint and went to work.


I adore this new chair from Homegoods and just wish, so badly, that I had new carpeting in this guest bedroom. Every time Scott asks me what I want for a birthday or anniversary or something, I say new carpeting in the guest room. He offers up anything else (even tiling the bathrooms) because he doesn't want to do the carpeting because it's an annoying task.

The other day Scott asked me what I would do with a windfall, should we come into one (again, he plays the market).

I told him I would hire someone to put in a carpet.

June 21, 2016

Why I wouldn't use these Pinterest "tricks" in my classroom

First, the clip chart. I don't like clip charts and I don't use them. I could write an entire chapter on the "why" of this, but to keep it short: they didn't work for me. 

1. Every time a student does something good or not good, you tell them to clip up or clip down. That is dozens of times a day you are breaking instruction or pausing in your train of thought to tell a student to clip up or clip down. 

2. These students are getting up out of their seats, breaking their path of learning, to clip up or clip down. It's distracting for everyone. 

I took a class a few months ago and someone suggested a clip chart as a great method of student accountability and everyone ooed and awed and I thought Is this 2006? 

I feel like this paper plate version would fall apart by mid-September, especially if the students are the ones moving the clips. 

I really do have many thoughts on management systems because I've used some really bad ones and some really good ones. It's trial and error every year with each new group of kids. But I will be elaborating on this in the future. 


I can't even with this. Maybe in a center-based learning primary school. Maybe in preschool. I can't even imagine what would happen if I set something like this up (if I were allowed to...I wouldn't be allowed to).


I have a homework folder system too. It does not look like this. 
I would like to know who has the wall space for this kind of system. It looks like they probably have 30 folders up there. I could think of 30 other things to use that space for. Also, how are they attached? I feel like they would fall down. 


Speaking of homework turn-in, I'm all about listing reminders next to the turn-in tray. However, if you put your reminder on the bottom of the tray, the only student who sees it will be the first one to turn in their work. The first one to turn in their work either doesn't need the reminders because they are incredibly on top of things, or they rushed through it and won't read the reminders anyway. It's like a law of physics. 

As for the clip part (what is it with teachers and clips?), I've never tried it. I initially think it may only work if you're doing one assignment turned in at a time, but maybe you could tweak it to work for you. You'd have to train the kids well, though, on how to use it. 

And we need to consider that the source of the above picture is Buzzfeed (worthless.com when it comes to teaching ideas) and the source of the idea is photobucket. I give that the side-eye. 

But I have seen this in classrooms before, so maybe it does work?


Obviously, what I've been doing with my spare time is perusing Pinterest and picking out all of the stuff I would never do or use. Stay tuned for a list of Pinterest tricks I would definitely use! I've been writing Pinned It/Did It posts for years now anyway.

June 20, 2016

Currently (June)

These are a few things I'm loving right now.*

This Starbucks beverage is very yummy and much cheaper than stopping for iced coffee when I get the urge. I pour the 8 oz. serving over ice and top it off with skim milk. I find it in the refrigerated case, next to the milk.

The Himalayan salt lamp I got about a month ago. I don't know that it has actually done anything because its effects can't really be measured, but I like the ambiance. Right now, I have it on the kitchen island because, in our open-concept living space, it's the center of things. I feel like it might be too bright to keep in my bedroom. Thoughts?

I never, ever thought I'd pay $30 for lip balm. But, as luck would have it, I wore out my stand-by that I used for 10 years; Carmex just stopped working. And every time I try to use beeswax-based lip balms, I pay for it later. They work for about 2 weeks, then my lips get super dry and sore and sometimes I get a cold sore. 
So I bought this Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment from Sephora and it is pure magic. Worth every penny. 

The Shopaholic series. I re-read these books each summer. If you haven't yet, I highly recommend falling down the Becky Bloomwood rabbit hole. You won't regret it. 

*No affiliate links were used in the writing of this post. 

June 17, 2016

Seasonal Goals Link-up

I started writing this post last night and then the internet went out. This morning, I spent an hour on the phone with CenturyLink, killed a snake, and then the internet came back on for like 20 minutes. Then it went out again and I'm stuck here all day waiting for the repair person to show up. We'll see if they actually do. 
I'm going to post this while I have a connection. Thoughts and prayers while I survive this first-world problem, please. 
I'm kidding. I'm going to go back to my book after I hit publish.

This was my list of things I wanted to accomplish in June. I'm a month by month person; setting goals for a whole season would be setting myself up for failure.

Halfway through the month, let's review...

1. Actually work on my ebook. This was a New Year's Resolution. It's time to get on that. I'm setting a timer for 20 minutes a day and I must work the entire 20 minutes and I'll keep going if I'm making progress.  ---I've worked on it more days than not, so that's good. Progress is better than perfection. 

2. Read 10 books in June. I did it one month last year. I can do it again. ---I'm at about 6 or 7 done.

3. I have a list of TV shows to chip away at. I already crossed one off by catching up on the end of this past season of New Girl yesterday.  ----Nope. Of all the things to not be succeeding at, right? I've been watching True Blood because it's oddly comforting. Oh well. 

4. Find some more furnishings and such for the house. I need a nice armchair and some odds and ends. ---Hey, I got an armchair! My mom bought it for me (us) as an anniversary gift. I kind of want to get another one and am debating a run back to Homegoods this weekend. 
If odds and ends means "new shoes", then I also got some odds and ends. Still working on this I guess. 

5. Continue organizing the basement. ---Uhh no. But I did chip away at landscaping and cleaning up outside so that is a huge win. 

Life According to Steph

Linking up with Steph!

June 16, 2016

Things Military Wives Shouldn't Actually Say

This graphic is hard to see because I just took a screenshot when I saw a fellow military wife post it on Facebook a year ago. This is the original site, which is a bit easier to read than the text that was posted on Facebook. 

There are things we think and things we say. Lists like this are prolific on the internet. Whether or not this list is written for fun, vocalizing thoughts like this is exactly what gives military wives a bad name. I have my few years of experience so I feel, honestly, that I'm qualified to speak on the subject. I'd give specifics about what that experience has entailed but this is a public blog and OPSEC is important. I will say that, in 7 years, we've spent exactly half of our marriage apart. 

1. I am a dependent. I like that I know I'm taken care of. So if you don't want to fall under the category of "dependent", be prepared to give everything up (medical and commissary privileges, etc.).
2. Being a military wife is not easy, but the last thing I would do is try to compare it to being in the army. Have you seen the signs that say "Wife: hardest job in the army"? NO.  It's a lifestyle that you get used to. I don't deploy. I don't keep crazy hours.
3. I think any human being would feel this way sometimes.
4. I have a career. I don't want to say "it's not that hard" but...buck up and find something (anything!) to do that will keep you busy and is semi-enjoyable.
5. This is valid.
6 and 7. Hmmm....let's not call people names. It will get you nowhere and will greatly affect the way people view your spouse.
8. I think I hit a point, around age 26 or so, when I realized life wasn't fair and neither was how things worked in the military. I don't think I would ever complain enough to cause Scott to say that to me. I mean, I complain about lots of stuff, but rarely throw a fit because he has to work late or something because there's nothing he can do about it.
9. This sounds valid enough, I suppose, but sounds a little power-trippy too. I'm sure your husband doesn't need you saying that you are *the* parent.
10. The dogs love Scott and tolerate me. I'm used to it.
11. This is valid.
12. It's nice to be noticed and appreciated by anyone. But.. I'm not even sure what to say here.
13. This is valid. But some of the loveliest people I've met have been military wives. You won't click everywhere or with everyone, no matter the circumstances.
14. This is valid.
15. Let's not throw stones.  Maybe we could all use some PT. ("Stones" as in a measurement of weight...get it? ha   ha    ha)
16. If there's a 0.000001% happy feeling, it's because the stress leading up to a deployment becomes so awful that I'm just ready to have the worst, first days over with already. I can't imagine saying "You're making me mad. Just deploy or go into the field or something."
17. This is valid.
18. This is valid too. A lot of this comes from me thinking I don't know where/if I'm going to work if we move again. And I'm, I admit, used to being a dependent.

Thoughts? How do you feel about lists like this? 
Stereotyping at its finest?

June 15, 2016

How I get kids to read

As part of talking about teaching, I want to share how I get kids to read. I'm not a parent, so I don't have foolproof strategies for at home. But I do have the advice I give to parents and I've managed to create a few non-reluctant readers over the years.

Let's just jump right in.

1. Give them books. I use Scholastic Book orders and accumulate points when parents order. I also throw a lot of my own money in there. Usually there's one book per book order that's $1. Or maybe $2. I'll buy one of those for every kid a few times a year. Or I use my discount codes and coupon strategies to get a lot of books for a cheaper price. Many come in assorted packs.
The point is that I give kids books for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and at the end of the school year. Sometimes for Halloween. I'm not allowed to give them candy, and I hate buying plastic toys and such. Books don't cost much more than that.
Truly, the only thing I ever give them (aside from a mechanical pencil on their birthday) is books. They learn to value it.

2. Let them read whatever they want. ...as long as they can read it and comprehend it, and as long as it's not well below their reading level. I couldn't care less what they read as long as they read. I know what their ability levels are so I just scan covers to make sure the book is in that range.

3. Read aloud (even if it goes against the curriculum). Currently, I have to carve out time for a read aloud by taking away from other things. I prioritize everything that needs to get done and is required, but I also add in a read aloud for 10 minutes a day.
If they see that I value books, they value books. My read aloud strategies are posted here and this is where I secretly persuade them with my own beliefs to introduce them to books they'd probably never choose. If I read one Gary Paulsen book to them and tell them there's a dozen more, they're more likely to look for another Gary Paulsen book.

Which leads to...

4. Talk about books. I talk to kids about books all the time. I ask them what they're reading. I tell them what I'M reading. I even keep my own reading calendar where I track minutes read each day and I show it to them so they can see how seriously I take reading (it's all mostly made up statistics, but you all know that I do read).
I never tell them they have to read a certain book, but I do make suggestions. My feelings aren't hurt if they don't take me up on the suggestion, because at least the conversation about a book happened.

5. Provide time in school (even when it goes against the curriculum). We don't have silent reading time. However, sometimes you just need a break between the intensive afternoon of 90 minutes of reading instruction and 60 minutes of science/social studies. So, again, I'll carve out some time. Instead of DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) or SR Time (Silent Reading Time), I'll just say "Find a book, find a spot" and they can sit wherever they want and read until timer goes off. They have one minute to get settled and then 15 minutes to read.
When I taught 2nd grade, I read with them for 30 minutes, as it was part of the curriculum. If they saw me reading a book, they were more likely to read and not talk.
Now, I often use that 15 minutes to DIBELS test, but sometimes I do read with them also.

6. Give them accountability for at home. I have a calendar that I send home at the beginning of month. It has a place to track minutes read, a place for parents to sign, some basic guidelines, etc. I don't like doing this, but if I didn't provide the structure, some kids would never ever read at home. And even as it is, some kids never ever read at home. I tell them it's graded (and it is) and sometimes that doesn't even make a difference. This calendar will not turn a child into a reader but, like spelling homework, I've found that it kind of strengthens the home-school connection because it's something that parents are familiar with and know what to do with (in this world of Common Core and DIBELS testing...ugh).

7. Give parents tips. Parents always say that their kid reads and I can tell who reads at home and who doesn't just in the same way that the dentist can tell when you don't floss regularly. This is the list I usually rattle off at conferences in October (I should type it up this year and just hand it out).

*Have your child read out loud. The15 or 20 minutes will fly by while you're cooking dinner, driving to practice, etc. If it's hard at first, set a timer for ten minutes to start off.
*Ask questions about what your child just read. Focus on characters, setting, prediction, drawing conclusions, and sequence. Important: Drawing a conclusion is a learned skill.
*If your child wants to read silently, try this first: Have them read a page of the book out loud. They shouldn't make more than 5 mistakes (I'd stand over their shoulder so you're reading it too). If they make more than 5, the book is too hard.
*Don't let them read the same book over and over again. I've had a couple of students insist that Charlotte's Web was their favorite and I'd see them reading it again...and again. That's fine for your spare time, but we don't learn anything if we reread the same book over and over. Plus, that's a 2nd-3rd grade book. A 4th grader, at a 4th grade reading level, who has already read that book just needs to put it on a special shelf and move on.
*Model. Read a book while they read a book. Burn through those 20 minutes together. They don't need to be read to always, but they need to see good habits in reading as they do with nutrition, exercise, good behavior, etc.


Any tips to add? 
Parents, what do you do at home? 

June 14, 2016

May Books

May was an awful month for books. I listened to two. I had 3 on my Kindle app and I just kind of plugged away at them every once in awhile. It was just too much work to read at the end of the day. 

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
(courtesy of NetGalley)
I don't know what this says about the book itself, but I've been trying to finish this book since mid-April and I just haven't.
I can't grade it because I haven't finished it and I don't hate it enough to not finish it.
I'll let you know next month I suppose.

The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson D+
This was kind of boring. It was a good idea for a murder mystery and I enjoyed the way it kept jumping back and forth between past and present. That, to be honest, was the only thing that kept me interested. Each chapter left off with a cliffhanger of sorts.
But the end was awful. The first half of the book held promise and the ending did not live up to that.

Pines by Blake Crouch B
This is the first in the Wayward Pines series and I enjoyed it. It bobbled back and forth between time periods and there were some more confusing sections (it gets kinda sci-fi-ish and I had Maze Runner flashbacks), but it all came together at the end. I'll probably read the rest of them.
I started watching the show as I was finishing the book, so I could compare the happenings.

Thirty-Six and a Half Motives by Denise Grover Swank A
The latest in the Rose Gardner series. I pre-ordered it for Kindle and while I desperately missed my narrator, books don't come out on Audible for quite awhile after they're released in print. Waiting was not something I could do.
The first half drug on a bit here and there but the second half did not disappoint. I'm officially #TEAMSKEETER because he's the most dependable/useful in the bunch.
I hate Mason. He's like a wet blanket or mop or something. Worthless.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown B+
I downloaded this in a two-for-one deal and assumed it'd be pretty self-helpy but I had heard of Brown's work through The Balanced Life, so I decided to give it a try.
What I like about it is that Brown actually has a story. She's not telling you what to do without trying it herself first. I appreciate that.
Since it was an audiobook, I couldn't highlight/take notes, but here's a few things that stuck out to me:
Authenticity is a practice, not a thing. It's something you focus on, not something you are.
Not everyone is meant to hear our story. We don't need to tell our story to everyone because it's a privilege to know other peoples' stories.
Perfectionism. She has some really good thoughts on this and how we can stop letting it rule us.
If you ARE looking for a self-help book, I do recommend this one.


I started Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. It failed to pull me in by 10% and I decided it wasn't worth the hype. The library snatched it back. Oh well.


In an effort to motivate myself, I've set a goal of 10 books in June.

Linking up with Jana and Steph!

June 13, 2016

Monday Phone Photos

On Wednesday, I chipped a tooth. No idea how. That pretty much colored the rest of my week.

I went to the dentist on Friday and, praise be, Tricare actually benefited me for once and I just had to pay $22 for a filling. Though the popular opinion is that the filling may not stay put because it's on the top of one of my front teeth. But, gold star to Fountain Modern Dentistry. I like them.

Onto phone photos...because does anyone actually carry a camera anymore?

Scott told me to "plant something" when I told him I was bored. "Buy some of those nice clay pots" he said. Then, when I did, his response was "Those plants survival is about as good as me winning the jackpot."
Clearly he knows about my non-green thumb.

Exciting times here. I'm rewatching it all. 

Cripple Creek, Colorado. I think this is a gold mine (I spend so much time doing Colorado history stuff during the school year ...and it's boring...so I couldn't be bothered to read the placard).

Tourist trap.

Rainbow, clearly meant for just me since it's on my property only, after last night's storm. 

I was going to take my mom for pedicures this week, but she didn't want to spend the money (even if I was buying), so I painted my own toenails (like a peasant or something).

And two wet, muddy dogs. And at least one plant that is still alive. 

June 9, 2016

My Rodan-niversary.

I've been on board with Rodan+Fields for an entire year now. I've been using it for two years and selling it for one.

This week, I didn't really think about that when I posted this color run photo on Instagram but, truthfully, I wouldn't have done a color run two years ago without putting on, at least, powder. On this day, I just slathered on a ton of sunscreen and went at it.

The point is: good skin provides you with a freedom you didn't know you could have. It might be like losing an excessive amount of weight. You didn't know how good you could feel until you actually felt it.

Here's the vlog I made last year about not wearing makeup. I fully support wearing makeup to work, when out and about, and whenever you want to. I wouldn't really say you shouldn't wear makeup to work or certain places because #professionalsetting and all.
I do not support feeling like you should HAVE to wear makeup. It should always be optional.

If you're ready to go #foundationfree this summer, let me know....I promise there's something that will help you get there!

Here's the link to the Unblemish regimen that I use and then there's Reverse, which can get rid of the past damage many of us try to cover up.

Here's to another year of clear skin and helping others find the same relief!