Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Review

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend, and that you get to also enjoy a day off tomorrow!  I can't believe it's the last day of August already.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Here is the summary from

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?” 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but I can't say that I loved it. I did have a few quiet chuckling moments, and I'm glad I read it. I definitely liked Mindy's voice and humor in her writing. I'm thinking I might have given this 4 stars if I knew more about Mindy beforehand and/or watched "The Office".

View all my reviews

I will also note that I bought both this book AND Bossy Pants with the intention to read and sell.  If I had really truly loved either of them, I would probably keep them to read again.  To me, neither of these are books I will reread (though, I would listen to the Bossy Pants audio book).  This one sold on Amazon pretty quickly.  Bossy Pants is still listed if you're interested.

Have you read this book?  What did you think?  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stuff & Things- Slow Cooker Edition

I really do like making slow cooker meals.  Whether I'm using my Crock Pot or my Bean Pot, I find that slow cooked meals come out so well!  They're also usually incredibly easy.  You just throw everything in, turn it on, and let it go.

I've decided that I need to make up some crock pot meals to keep in the freezer for easy access.  With the school year under way, I plan to adhere to a good schedule.  It is my goal to go to work and then go straight to the gym.  Two nights a week, I will be giving voice lessons after work, and I will go to the gym after those.  I am thinking that those nights will be perfect for slow cooker meals.  I can toss them in before I go to work, and there will be food when I get home.  (This will be especially good for when Scott works nights because there's no way I'd be home in time to make him anything decent for dinner.)

Of course, Pinterest, has been a big help for me to "research" this a bit.  I found a few pins with many meals listed:

Here's my plan:

1. Find at least 10 crock pot recipes that I already love or want to try.
2. Shop for any ingredients I need.
3. Spend an afternoon preparing the meals to put in the freezer.

Have any of you prepared and frozen crock pot meals?  Are there any recipes you really love??  I'd love to hear your favorites.  You can share in the comments or e-mail me at  Since this is a long weekend, I'm going to take advantage of it to get some meals ready. :)

I will definitely share my experience with you all!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What I'm Watching Wednesday

There are pretty much only two shows that I can't get enough of right now: Gossip Girl and Big Brother.

Thanks to Kristin, I started watching Gossip Girl on Netflix this summer.  Oh, the drama!  I have been totally and completely sucked in, and I just can't get enough.  I'm bordering on obsessed.  In fact, the other night, I'm pretty sure these characters invaded my dreams.

While falling asleep one evening, I was actually trying to think about all of the different dating combinations of these characters.  It's pretty complicated.  I considered making a chart.  I realized that this would be 1) almost impossible 2) a sign that I have some kind of problem.

I'm currently on season three, and there are a total of six seasons.  When all of my other shows kick back in this fall, I don't know how I'll manage it

Before I met Scott, I thought that Big Brother was so stupid.  I just didn't get the idea of why anyone would want to watch a bunch of people that had to live in a house together.  Why would that be exciting?

Little did I know what it entailed.  And just in case you don't, here's how it works.  A bunch of people (16 this season) are selected to live in isolation in the Big Brother house.  Each week, they compete to become the Head of Household (or HOH).  The HOH nominates two other house guests to be evicted.  The nominated house guests, the HOH, and three other house guests get a chance to compete for the Power of Veto (POV).  Anyone who wins the veto can take someone off "the block" (aka remove a nominee) or keep the nominations the same.  Once the final nominations are set, the house guests vote someone out.  The last two house guests left at the end receive votes from a jury of evicted house guests.  One will win the grand prize of $500,000, and the other wins $50,000.

They are doing the HOH a little differently this season.  They compete for two HOH spots.  Each HOH nominates two house guests, and their nominees compete in the Battle of the Block competition.  Whichever team wins, dethrones the HOH who nominated them, and they are no longer nominees.  Things then proceed to the veto as described above.

I don't know why I love it so much, but I do.  It's especially fun because it gives me some sort of TV to look forward to three nights a week.

What are you watching this summer??

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

I can't even begin to tell you how long Scott and I have had frozen blueberries in the freezer.  When Scott and I went shopping at Sam's Club a couple of weeks ago, I decided to pick up some fresh spinach.  It's a pretty large tub.  I like to toss it in with some zucchini and spaghetti sauce to use with pasta.


Sorry.  I'm back.

I decided to try to find some blueberry spinach smoothie recipes.  Of course, I turned to Pinterest.  At first, I was looking for ones without yogurt since I don't keep it here in the house (because I don't like to eat it).  But then I broke down and picked up a tub of vanilla yogurt to try this recipe.

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

  • 3/4 c. frozen blueberries
  • half of a banana*
  • 1/2 c. spinach
  • 1/4 c. yogurt
  • 4 oz (1/2 c.) nonfat milk
  • 1.5 tsp. honey
  • 1 T flax seed
  • 2 ice cubes
*My banana happened to be VERY ripe, but it doesn't have to be.  This was just another great excuse to use up over ripe bananas.  It probably also added a bit more sweetness than a less ripe banana.

Toss ingredients in a blender, and blend until well mixed.

Serves 1, serving size: approx. 1.5 cups
Calories: 271
Protein: 9.5g

We have a Magic Bullet-type blender with single serving cups.  This fit perfectly, and it's extra great because then I can just drink it out of the cup it's made in.  This was definitely quite yummy!  (You can trust me.  I'm super picky about healthy things, and the fact that I like this is a good sign!)  You can check out the original recipe here.  (I halved the recipe, and made a couple of changes.)


Monday, August 25, 2014

Music Monday: My First Song

This Music Monday will be short and sweet.  One of the first songs I can remember actually learning from beginning to end, word for word was the song "Red Rubber Ball" by Cyrkle.  Somewhere in Ohio, there exists a video tape of a three-year-old Becky singing this song.  Since I obviously don't have that, here's their version.

The song was released in 1966.  (And as you know, I LOVE the 60s!!!)  My dad used to have this single on a record.

On the flip side, was their song "Turn Down Day"

I also remember really liking this song.  Apparently, video also exists of me reacting to a sound effect in the song, and saying, "I heard that!" (as if it wasn't supposed to be there).

What songs do you remember from when you were little?

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Comparison

All this week, I've been sharing school-related things.  On Monday, I shared the Top 5 hits from 1988--the year I started Kindergarten.  Tuesday was my classroom set-up for the 2014-2015 school year.  Wednesday was my book review of The Chronicles of Narnia, and yesterday, I shared some tips that parents should know about teachers.  Today, as I'm mere days away from returning to my 6th grade classroom, I thought that I would share some of the differences and similarities between being a first grade teacher and a sixth grade teacher.

Note: ALL of the following pictures are from Pins I've pinned to my "The Life of a Teacher Board" on Pinterest.  You can find the links to their original homes there.  

Some things are true of teaching both 1st and 6th grades:

Yes, this happens to me, and yes, it happened in both first and sixth grade.  And yes, I usually immediately regret this decision.  Therefore, I almost always pick partners FOR my students, thereby crushing their hopes and dreams.... ;0)
Here are some things that are true of teaching first graders:

Celebrating the 100th Day of School is a BIG deal in first grade!  It was always a day of fun activities.  In sixth grade, I acknowledge the 100th day of school, but the day continues as usual.  I do, however, start my end of school countdown on this day!
That would be "hand sanitizer" in case you don't know.
I loved doing cute and fun science lessons with my first graders.  I thought this one about the butterfly life cycle would have been really cute!  I am not (and do not want to be) the sixth grade science teacher.
This was one of my first grade pet peeves.  I would often tell students that I would call on students who were sitting in their seats quietly with their hands raised.  In contrast, sixth graders would prefer that I stay as far away from them as possible.  ;)
I do miss teaching first grade sometimes.  I miss how excited they are at Christmastime.  My last year in first grade, I had an Elf on the Shelf, and I had so much fun placing him in the classroom for the kids to find when they arrived.  I miss that I could use the simplest gifts as rewards, and they thought they were absolute treasures.  I miss that they loved me unconditionally!  But I don't miss runny noses, the reading curriculum, or how I had to go-go-go to be "on" for these little ones.

I like that sixth graders are independent.  They don't need me every single second of the day.  I like that they can work independently with mostly guidance from me.  I like that we can carry on great conversations and that they understand my sarcasm.  I do wish they cared a little more about their grades, and that I didn't worry they may call me nasty names behind my back when they're unhappy with me.  But overall, I am truly happy to be preparing these students to head off to junior high.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Stuff & Things: Teacher Edition

My last week of freedom summer vacation is almost at an end.  As I head back to work next week, here are a few things that teachers want parents to know and keep in mind!

1. Teachers are HUMAN.
This means that we will make mistakes.
We can't see and hear everything that happens every minute of the day.
We can't read minds.
We care about your child or we would not be in the teaching profession.

2. Teachers DO have your child's best interest at heart.
We know that your child is the most precious thing in the world to you.  We know that you are trusting your child to our care, and we will do our best to be kind, courteous, respectful, and to teach them what they need to know.  In return, we expect that your child will be kind, courteous, respectful, and to work hard to learn what they need to know.  We also need your support.

3. If there is a problem, let the teacher know.
Remember up there in #1 where I stated that teachers are human?  Remember where I said that we can't see and hear everything that happens?  It's really, really true.  If something is going on with your child and he or she doesn't tell the teacher, how can the teacher help?  Please don't assume that we are just ignoring the problem or not doing anything.  Contact us and let us know about the situation.  Odds are good that we don't know about it.

Did we make a mistake?  (See #1...again)  Let us know.  We have a lot going on.  Mistakes are bound to happen.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Make us aware, and give us time to fix the situation.

4. Please, please, please, don't go over the teacher's head!
If there is a problem, ask yourself the following question:  "Did I talk to the teacher about this?"  If the answer is, "No."  See #3.  If, and ONLY if, the answer is, "Yes," should you go to the principal.  Talking to the teacher's boss is the same thing as a child tattling to a grown-up before trying to resolve an issue on his/her own.  If you haven't spoken to the child's teacher about the issue, please do so.  If you have spoken with the teacher, and you are still not satisfied with the results, then it's ok to take it to the next level.

5. Be respectful! 
If  you come into a conference with your mind set on raising hell, no good will come of it.  Did your child fail a test or a class?  This is not the teacher's fault.  We don't fail people for fun.  We don't like to see our students fail.  Students fail as a result of not doing the work required of them.  Please don't be these parents:

If you are respectful, your child will be respectful.  If you are respectful, WE will be respectful.

6. Together, we can help your child to have a successful school year!
Teachers and parents are NOT on opposing sides.  We ALL want your child to have a fun, successful, and wonderful school year.  We ALL want your child to learn what is required.  We ALL want your child to feel loved, safe, and to be happy.  If we work together, communicate respectfully, and remember that we are all human, this school year can be amazing!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Review: The Chronicles of Narnia

I've been wanting to read these for a long time.  I remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 5th grade, and I loved it!  It's obviously taken me a really long time to read the entire series.  I got the series from my school's book fair last fall, and it's taken me most of the summer to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia.

For some insane reason, the numbering of the books on is all messed up, but here are my ratings in the correct order:

The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #6)The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia, #2)Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3)The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #4)
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7)The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I won't lie to you.  Some of these books took me a really long time to get through.  Before I read the last two, I took a break to read Bossy Pants.  The Magician's Nephew was hard at first, but I loved it by the end.  I gave it, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe, and The Last Battle all 5 stars.  I may have even given the others 3 or 4 stars because I felt like I should, not because I truly felt that they deserved them. Most of the books (including the ones I loved) were really slow moving at the beginning of the story, which made it really hard to get into reading each one.  Then things would pick up, and sometimes, it was enough to make me change my mind about how I felt the book.

I'm actually going to be taking these to add to my classroom library because I would definitely like my students to read them.  I'm very glad that I did.  But I can truthfully say that I don't think I'll be rereading these.

Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia?  What did you think of them?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Transformation Tuesday

As I mentioned yesterday, this week is my last week of summer vacation.  To "celebrate" going back to school, this week is full of school related posts.

For Music Monday, I shared some songs from 1988, the year I started Kindergarten!

Today, I'm going to show you my classroom set-up.  I was chatting a bit about school with my friend, Ashley from A Party of Four, and she mentioned seeing my classroom set up.  So, at the very least, I know that she will appreciate this post!  Haha

Just in case you're new around these parts, last year, I moved from first grade (after 6 years) to sixth grade.  I will be continuing in 6th grade this year.  I will teach one math class, a language arts (writing) class, and all of the sixth grade reading classes.

Let's start in the hall...

I like to start the year with a welcome back bulletin board.  I just think it's fun, and frankly, if I didn't, this bulletin board would be blank for awhile.

This bulletin board changes each month.  For this one, students will write (and color/illustrate) the title of a book they read over the summer on a blank picture of a book.  In October, they'll do a book they recently read on pumpkins.

This welcome sign is on a support pole outside of my classroom.  The circle and stripe design is a theme in my classroom.  Last year, I became obsessed decided I really liked the idea of my classroom accents matching.  This theme is called Calypso.  It's from Carson Dellosa.
This set-up is right inside my door to your right.  It's all taped to the wall, and it's cleverly covering all of the ripped off paint spots that they never seem to fix.  The calendar, birthday chart, and class chart (that I'm using to keep track of AR- Accelerated Reader points) are from the Calypso Bulletin Board Set.  Students actually start school on August 27th, but I just go ahead and set up the calendar for September so I don't have to change it on the first Friday back to school.  The border is orange on the back.  
When you enter my room, and turn left, you will see these pencil punctuation guys!  This wall also has unsightly chipped paint spots.  Since I'm teaching Language Arts this year, I decided that they would be useful for more than one reason.

Above the cabinets next to the wall with the punctuation pencils, I have some storage boxes.  Some of them are empty, and others hold holiday decorations.  I was so tired of looking at ugly cardboard boxes so I bought some fun duct tape, and voila!
This blank poster was part of the Calypso Bulletin Board Set.  I decided to use it for writing the classroom rules, and I took down the one I had that didn't match the theme! :)
This is the only thing in my classroom that isn't totally finished yet.  I have to create the chart that I'm hanging here.  It will be a classroom reward system.  Students who earn a 100% on a test or receive a good behavior slip will get to sign their name in a binder, and choose a square from a 10 x 10 square.  Each square will reveal a small individual or class prize.  When they get 10 in a row, we will have a big class reward like a pizza party or a 30 minute extra recess period.  The border is purple on the back.  (You will see this shortly).

Here is the view of the front of my classroom.  (The 100 Club bulletin board is cut off on the left.)
The smart board from the above picture used to be on this side of the room for some insanely stupid reason.  I requested that it be moved to its current location for this school year.  To cover up the horrible mess of a wall now that it's moved, I taped white paper to the wall, framed it with the purple side of the polka dot border you saw before, and hung up this reading strategies set.  Below this is my mail center.  The white paper has my students' names with their assigned number.  The mailboxes are numbered from 1-20.  I used black binder clips, cut white file folder stickers to fit, stuck them to the binder clips, and labeled them with numbers.
I learned a lesson last year about the classroom computers...particularly during recess.  The same students use them all of the time, and I can't keep track of it.  Therefore, I created a sign-up sheet.  (And at some point, I hope, my monitors will be returned....)
Here is my classroom library.
Here's the striped border AND its reverse side.  This is my supply station.  When I started 6th grade, I wanted to still have students do classroom jobs without them seeming baby-ish.  Student earn points that they can use in my classroom store.
The bottom shelf has items that students can "buy" with their points in my classroom store: erasers, notebooks, pencils- regular & mechanical, pens).
I used my fancy panorama feature on my iPhone to take this view of the seating arrangement and front of my classroom.  I decided on this arrangement so students can easily see if I'm teaching from the smart board or from the white board at the back of the room.
So there you have it!  What do you think???

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