Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review Because I Have To!!!

Have I mentioned that I'm a book hoarder.  I love books.  I love to read.  I love to escape into another world and get to know that characters! As a teacher, it's hard to find the time to read a non-school related book or to be accomplishing the 5 million other things on my to-do list for school and home.  Well one of my goals this year was read more and to find time to get my hoards of unread books read.  With that said, I finished one of the books that have been half read sitting on my corner desk in my room.

I was so captivated with this book, but it was taking me forever to read.  When I read of an evening, there really isn't any point because I nod off after two pages no matter how good the book is.  Well, recently we had a three-day weekend + 3... yes, 3 snow days.  So one day was dedicated to reading my book and I got hooked again.  Last night I didn't even look at the time and it was 3:15 before I knew it.  Whoops, good thing today was Saturday and I didn't have to get up too early.  Needless to say I HAD to finish this book, it was driving me nuts.  I needed to know who or what the mystery killer was.

The Book: In the Woods by Tana French
(Warning: Some Spoilers)

So I've never done a book review, I honestly feel weird about this, but I felt the need to express my feelings.  I invested a lot of my time and anxiety (haha) to reading this book.  So here it is...

When starting this book I was completely drawn in by the vocabulary and sentence flow.  The pace of the dialogue and character's thoughts were something fresh and new.  This may be because I tend to read more young adult books because of my career.  I am trying to expand my genre of book hoarding, but it's hard when there are so many GREAT books in YA sections.

As a 6th grade ELA teacher, I focus a lot on character development and analysis.  This book.  Wow!  Tana French, you knocked my socks off.  These two main characters; Rob and Cassie are fantastic!  There backstories, their many issues, their connection/relationship with each other... I loved it.

The suspense in this book is what caused me anxiety.  I had so many questions I wanted answered.  I thought the most intriguing part of this book was this mysterious woods, the ancient background, and this creature that a few people kept witnessing and hearing.

I loved Rob's mysterious childhood and the fact that he had this memory loss from the whole incident.  This itself would have been a great story on it's own.  Then to have the child grow up and actually be apart of a murder investigation in the same area where his friends vanished.  The potential of this story had so many possibilities!  So so many possibilities... then at the end we are left with what?!?!?!

 Those last few pages, I waited for something..... anything... even at the very end.  It was like it was this huge build up for days and days all to kind of fizzle out and just go blah at the end.  There are so many questions still that I need answered! What was the creature that was so obviously there? There were too many that had heard or seen this thing for it NOT to exist.  What REALLY happened out in the woods with Rob when he was 12?  Are his friends really gone or are they still out there?  Why couldn't Rob get over himself and just go back to Cassie and at least be friends again?  Seriously what is up with that ending????Does he reappear in another book or what?? I need answers!

I was so disappointed by that ending.  Usually at this point in other books I imagine how differently I would have ended the book myself.  Here's several possible endings...

#1. Resolve this stupidness between Cassie and Rob.  Actually have a real relationship or go back to being BFFs, one or the other.  They are so flipping awesome together.  No, I wasn't expecting some fairy tale ending but at least get over yourselves and make up.  It's all Rob's fault because he was so stubborn and soooo prideful or whatever you want to call it.

#2. Do more with this mysterious creature.  I love a good mythological creature killing people.  I would have definitely ended it with Rob finally "seeing" what had happened to Jamie and Peter.  This was really what I wanted more than anything.  Did this creature lure them into its lair and Rob escaped somehow?  I also could have done with this dramatic morbid ending where the creature finally finishes the job and kills him or maybe it kills Cassie and then Rob kills the creature.  Something with a little more grit.

#3.  Peter and Jamie turn out to be -in this crazy twist of events- Cassie and Sam. I thought maybe they did run away after all.  Perhaps they didn't go back to the woods, but Rob did because he had 2nd thoughts about leaving his parents, but like the text said, he couldn't run as fast as the other two, so he didn't get as far as they did when..... he actually saw the creature.  Then he froze but the creature was distracted by the teenagers (Cathal, Jonathon, Shane, and Sandra) in the woods.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I at least thought Jamie could somehow be Cassie.  Well, I thought that would be a pretty cool twist.

Of course, I know I could keep going with my gazillions of other ways it could have ended, but it just really really bummed me out how it ended on such a blah note.

If you've read this what did you think of it?  Did you expect it to end this way?  Tell me what you're "dream" ending would be.

I saw there is a second book and it's about Cassie, so my hope is that Rob comes back in this one, but I have a feeling this is going in a whole other direction.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Year, New Rules, New You

I love the thought of a refresh!  It always makes me feel good.  I especially love this quote.

I seriously love this quote!  I actually love it so much I think this may be a writing prompt for my kids on the first day back.  

So my new year rang in with me being the sickest I have been all year long.  So technically this is the sickness brought on by 2017.  Actually I made a decision yesterday that I needed a second opinion about what was going on with me.  I went to urgent care and saw a nurse a few days ago and it was a very impersonal experience.  She basically said, "It's just a cold and you probably just have a tension headache.  I will prescribe you some muscle relaxers."  Ummmm.... yeah.  So I tried to go with this, but she also said that I could just take DayQuil and NyQuil for my cold.  I stopped her and said, but you don't want me to mix the muscle relaxers with the NyQuil right (just a little common sense)??  For a brief moment I think I caught her off guard "Ohhh of course not, just if you go to coughing a lot after 4-5 hours of taking the muscle relaxers, then you can take NyQuil...  but really you probably won't notice your coughing, because the muscle relaxers should put you out."  Well then.  So I gave it a go.  Ummm yeah, so I took it, still coughed my head off and it kept me awake all night.  Oh and yeah my headache didn't go away.  So two days past and I'm getting worse, like the coughing honestly feels like someone pounding on my chest.  Then with the headaches... lately it became migraines, it was unbearable!  I finally decided yesterday that I was done, I was going to go to the other urgent care facility.  I'm glad I did because they finally told me that I had so much sinus pressure that was what was causing the headaches and it just became a bad sinus infection.  I had to trudge through Walmart with a fever and a migraine just to get my prescription, but it was worth it.  Anyway, today was the first day in a little over two weeks that I didn't wake up with a headache! I'm still coughing my head off, but I've only started on my antibiotics. 
Update:  So yeah, I went back 5 days after this because my ribs were in so much pain every time I coughed.  I ended up with Bronchitis and pleurisy (inflammation in my lungs).  I would not wish this on anyone EVER.  This has been horrible.  Luckily, two weeks later I'm finally feeling better.  Seriously though, it took three times to urgent care to get this correctly diagnosed.  RIDICULOUS!

My mantra this year is; I'm just going to go with my gut and JUST DO IT!  Yeah, Yeah I know that's what NIKE said. Also I WILL be more realistic about things (I'll always be a dreamer up in the clouds.)  

Now on to other goals...


This sounded better than the same old, "Oh I need to lose weight this year."  This sounds much more fun!  I don't know what has happened to my body?!?! I honestly think I was destined to be a really big girl or something because JEEESHHH...  I go a diet loose a few pounds and nothing.  Then gain 20 back.  I don't know.  I look at a donut and gain 50 pounds.  I swear!  So this time around I decided I would try Weight Watchers.  I actually kind of like their style on the app, it makes it really easy.  So fingers crossed this will help me and my flubber gut.  I actually worked out yesterday... twice! Once was more of a... "how much can I do without hurting myself?"  It was a 20 minute core video.  I had to be very careful with my left side because even though I'm feeling much better, I'm sore.  In the afternoon I went for a 30 minutes Cardio video and I did much better with that one.  I think if I make a routine of doing the cardio videos MWF and maybe Sat or Sun, then doing my own weight trainning ( I really do remember a few things from when I had a personal trainer) on T and Th, I think I can make this work for me.  I am determined to be skinny! I want this for myself this year.
I think I should print this out and place it by my bed.
So here it is.
205lbs me.  This is a pretty accurate picture of my body right now.

Maybe I should take one of those actual pictures where I have a tight fitting shirt on to show progress.

Next Goal: Hair
Oy. I can't leave my hair alone for nothing, but I'm done with the blonde for awhile.  I'm gradually going back to my ombre hair.  I absolutely loved it.  I kind of like the darker hair on me.  I just needed a change bad, my poor hair looked and felt pretty rough anyway.  So what did I do first...
Turn my hair purple.

Just because...
This was back in December and I loved it!

Then recently...  I went darker with a little purple.

Next time I'm going to have my amazing hair stylist add more blonde to the ends and keep going with this dark purplish.  LOVE IT!

Someday I will go back to my natural red hair.  As for right now I'm loving this darker look.

Next Goal: READ!
I am determined to read all of the books that are in piles around my house that I have bought but haven't read.  I have issues.  I just love buying new ones all the time.  The book that I'm reading right now is so good and I've never read one quite like it.  The main characters are so intriguing I want to jump into the book and become their friend and have these spectacular conversations and witty back and forth banter they have with each other.  Don't you love books that grab you like that? 
Books.  They make me happy.
Next Goal: MAKING MEMORIES; living in the moment.
Last year seemed like a lot of stress because of our house and I was finishing up my thesis.  So this year it's all about my family.  Jett turns 11 in a month.  I just want to really do more with them this year.  Even if its just staying at home and playing Boggle.  Hah! Seriously that is our game we play at least once a week. It's even a little more special because it's the same boggle game that my grandma use to play with me.  I can just see it.  Her making those little personal pan pizzas and us playing a several rounds of boggle.  We have a really tight budget right now, but I just want to really LIVE this year and make some great memories.

Next Goal: Do something with my spare room.
It's honestly a junk room right now.  It has a plethora of boxes, books (surprise surprise), unpacked boxes, a lot of randomness, my Silhouette Cameo, my printer, and basically a bunch of trash from using it.  I need a table or desk in there for that.  I also thought about putting some of my exercise stuff in there but... I just don't think I want that stuff in there.  I'm okay storing it in there, but I really like using the living room to workout.  I thought about making it into a cute little sitting room with books everywhere.  My own personal library.  That really makes me happy.

Next Goal: Do More.
This is with everything in my life.  This is to push me.  This is to challenge me.  I know I can do so many more things.  I can write more, cook more, organizer more, teach/learn more, listen more, talk more, be more present (dreamer remember), save more, laugh more, play more, think more, blog more, take pictures more, dance more, create more, and .... love more. 

So there it is. My Goals for 2018.
I have a great feeling about this year.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Eating Healthy As A Family

So it's pretty obvious that I have gained a CRAPTON of weight this past year.  There are a lot of excuses I can give you on why this probably happened, but they are just excuses.  The main one was I haven't really maintained any sort of healthy eating habits and there was pretty much... no exercising.  Just the occasional walking every now and again.  I've always been the yo-yo dieter, but this time it's crazy how much weight I've gained.  BLAH!

Well my husband wasn't too happy with himself either and suggested that we diet as a family.  Believe me you have no idea how happy this made me!  I have been trying to do this for years, but he was so picky, he wouldn't even give it a chance.  Now... he is totally on board! Whoop Whoop!  I'm more motivated when I have someone else dieting with me, so I'm stoked!  

Soooooo this our first week.  We are going on a KETOGENIC/PALEO type of diet.  Basically no bread/pasta, low carbs, high protein and fats, lots of veggies.  I can deal with that.

First concoction.  Pepperoni and Cheese Cauliflower Bread (We just called it a pizza.)
I used this recipe from Joann's.
It wasn't too difficult.  I just got cauliflower EVERYWHERE!

This. LOVE LOVE LOVE💗💗💗💗!! Seriously I'm going to just go crazy with my awesome new veggie spiralizer!  I had a lot of fun using it and once again my kitchen was a complete mess.  This was Chicken and Zoodles (Zucchini noodles) Stir Fry!  Not to shabby.  We both decided next time it need more heat added to it, like peppers or red pepper flakes.  Just a little something.  I found the main recipe for this one here.  This one my hubby loved a lot!

If you want a little something sweet.  Mmmmm.  These are delicious and super chocolaty!
No flour was harmed in making these.  They are black bean brownies.  I was really skeptical, but yummmm!!.  It was Monday when I made them.  They are still super tasty 2 days later!  Here is the recipe for this yummy one.

So I'm hoping with this new change in our lives that we will get into a more healthy state.  I need to lose A LOT of weight!

If any of you have some favorite gluten free and/or low carb recipes, feel free to share! I'd love to try them out!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Look Who's Back... Back Again...

Shady's back tell a friend... look who's back...   look who's back....    Okay I will stop.  Sometimes I start and I just can't control the epic tunes that just busts out. 

Sorry for the almost 3 month hiatus.  Life happened.  Also I didn't have the ol' internet either for a month and a few weeks.  Gahhh... that was rough.  I missed my blog and I missed my Netflix a lot!  Then again I did get a lot of reading done.  Honestly it was good for me. So I have A LOT to discuss with my BLOG-A-ROO.  Lots has happened! So I will do what I do best....


1.  My last post.  Holy Cow Batman.  What????  I remember writing it and honestly putting a lot of effort into that post, but then I thought.... hmmmm maybe I should pin this to Pinterest?!?! 8000+ views later.  Wow.  Before I would get maybe 20 views per post, but nothing even came close to my flexible seating post.  Looks like I need to do a lot more posts like that and start using Pinterest more! I just checked the status of my "Flexible Seating" Pin.  It has been pinned 2,100 times.  CRAZY!

2. NEW HOUSE!!!!!  We finally moved in.  That was a ride I would rather never take again.  It was worth it though! I love every part of our house.  I don't have many pictures yet, partly because I don't have EVERYTHING done.  Basically my walls are bare, I need a few little things here and there.  We just got our major furniture a couple of weeks ago.  I love it!  The sofas are my favorite!  I fall asleep on them almost every night because they are so comfy.  I'm also in love with my kitchen.  My island.  My view from my kitchen windows.  Just everything!  I will eventually take good pictures of everything and do a separate post just for my house.
The View.

My Kitchen. The island is one of my favorite things about my kitchen!!

3.  Books.  I have a serious problem.

I started reading The Iron King Series, to see if it would be a good fit for my incoming 6th graders because I wanted to tie it in with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Little did I know, that I would get sucked into this faery world and NEED to read the other books that went along with the series.  I just finished the 3rd book today.  It changes perspectives in the 4th book, which I want to start, but at the same time I feel like it's a great stopping point so I can get some other stuff done around my house.  Then there is school stuff I need to prep.  Then I know there are other books I feel like they need read as well.  Ahhhhh!  Tell me, I'm not the only teacher that their mind is like this during summer!

4.  Family + Snapchat Filters (I know it's been around forever.)
Jett is such a goof.  We have been having lots of fun with this!

 Awwww!!! My hubby so cute!

Why can't I look this decent without filters!  I need to learn to apply my makeup better.  That and widen my eyes a few inches.

5.  I graduated!
Master's Completed! Boom! 3.909 GPA baby yeah!
I'm so happy I decided to start taking classes right after I received my Bachelors.
So happy about this! Not so happy about having to pay that giant bill. If anyone has any great ways to get it paid off quick let me know.

6. This Lady.
I loved this lady so much!  This is my Grandma.  The one that held a special spot in my heart.  Jett just adored her and their games of cards.  It hits hard when he brings her up and says stuff like, "I wish we could just go over and see Grandma Donna like normal, I'd really like to see her again."  As an adult, I'm already an emotional mess even just looking at this picture.  You throw emotions from your own child on it... and I'm a complete mess.  That last day with her was hard, because it was obvious what was happening, but no one was ready for it.  I was happy that Jett and I went to see her as often as we could when she was her normal sassy self.  I always loved her honesty! No matter what came out of her mouth it made me laugh!  I will hang on to those precious memories forever and I know Jett will too.  I'm sure everyone has experienced this in their extended families as well, but with her passing came a lot of selfishness and greed from a few family members.  It made me just sick to my stomach.  Material things are just that... things.  Time and memories are so much more to me.  She was a phenomenal lady and I miss her greatly!

On that note, I will end my list.

Posts I will most likely write in the future...
My house, obviously.
My Classroom/School/What I'm working on...
Jett (a whole post just about him).
My closet and my struggles with my wardrobe...hahaha!
and probably lots of other stuff!

**If there is something that you'd like to hear my opinion on/tutorials/ or just rambling.... or what not, just let me know.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Flexible Seating Classroom

Come right in and take a seat.  A comfortable seat.

Why are kids made to sit all day at a desk or a table in school?  I know as an adult I can't stand to sit still for that long.  I am so much better on my feet and then every now and then sitting down.  Kids today need to fidget, to wiggle, and to be able to move.  We can't keep them just "sitting still" all day.

   I can't tell you how passionate I am about this topic and honestly this way of life in the classroom.  I felt so strongly about it, I ended up researching and testing it for my master's thesis.  I absolutely love everything about it.  I've wrote down a few things that using flexible seating has taught me over the last year.

What is Flexible Seating?
   If you have stumbled upon my blog and don't know what flexible seating is, it's a way of arranging a classroom that has a variety of alternative seating.  The most common flexible seating tools are yoga mats, exercise balls, lowered tables, standing tables, cushions, crates, floor pillows, a plethora of different chair options, bean bags, bar stools, and wobble stools.  When you start really looking and planning, the options are endless.  You can do a lot of DIY flexible seating too.  I think sometimes it's more exciting creating the pieces then just buying everything.

When did the "flexible seating" bug hit me?
I was first intrigued by "something different" in the classroom when I was observing a teacher for one of my practicums in college.  I noticed that the usual "sit down in your seat" didn't quite apply in her class.  She actually had a few students stand at their desk while they worked.  That is when a light bulb went on in my head and I started to think about other ways to incorporate different seating.  

Why does it help?
It helps kids that have trouble sitting for long periods that need to move around and fidget.  I've had different levels of autism in my room the last four years.  Each year I see a need for more sensory inspired seating; fluffy chairs, bean bags, and exercise balls.  I've seen having different areas to work in my room change the climate in my classroom to a more calming area.  The students get excited about working in a space they are comfortable in.

Common Misconceptions
           1. You don't have to go all out the first time you try it.  I would actually recommend trying just a small amount at first, then build on it.  This will also help your wallet as well.
           2.  VERY IMPORTANT: Not every student will be able to work well while working in flexible seating.  There are a handful of students that work best at the chair and desk.  There are some who actually prefer it.  This is something that I found really interesting while conducting my study.  Make sure you watch to see if students' grades drop if they start using flexible seating.  It may be they just need that predictable seating area to completely focus on their work.

My Classroom
The first couple of years I just started with a couple of bean bags, rugs, and a director's chair.  I let students stand or sit around the room.  The third year of teaching, I went a little more into it and added a couple of tables, crates, a fluffy chair, and more rug areas around my room.  This year....
I went with a lot more.... not as much as I would like, but enough to REALLY get started.

My favorite items this year were my tall cafe table, futon, coffee table, and my wobble stool.  Other items in my room include, 6 exercise balls, several metal stools, 2 swivel stools, 3 fluffy chairs, 2 bouncy bands, several seat crates, and several pillows and rugs.  Here are several pictures of my classroom this year.  
This was my set up at the beginning of the year.  I may have to go back to this again.

Futon and coffee table

 Exercise balls, fluffy chairs/pillows, and a giant rug.
 Cafe Table w/ swivel bar stool
  Bouncy Bands
 Wobble Stool   Honestly I would love a lot more of these!!

One thing I love about flexible seating is that I can change the arrangements anytime.  I love a spacious flow to my classroom so it's easy to walk through.

What I do in my classroom....
Everyday I draw sticks (usually 6-8) with names of students that get first choice.  Then I let the remainder of the class choose what is left.  Then the next day I will draw 6-8 other sticks so that all of the students have had a chance to sit somewhere they'd like.  I'm honestly at the point now in the year that I don't have to draw sticks, they have their favorite places in the room and they will take turns or trade with their classmates.  If they want a new area to sit or a chair they ask me in the mornings if they can switch their spot.

The only problem, or I might call it a pet peeve, is 
the balls sometimes get really noisy bouncing on the floor.
That is seriously it.  I don't really have any other problems.

Amazing Things
Honestly, I've only seen fantastic benefits come out of using flexible seating.  It's a game changer.  More importantly it's something that is GREAT for the students and for the teacher.

My Wish List
Next year, I'm hoping to have another sofa/futon, more wobble chairs, some camping chairs, and maybe something new I haven't tried yet.

If you are thinking about trying flexible seating, I definitely recommend it.