Monday, September 12, 2016

What's In My Purse?

Hello, blog world!  I've recently been obsessed with watching "What's In My Purse?" You Tube videos, so since I don't make videos I decided I'd make a blog post about it!

I recently purchased a Kate Spade Cedar Street Small Harmony tote in the color mahogany.  I'm in love with this bag for fall and winter!  I had an Amazon gift card which helped me get this bag for a steal!  I'd tried to purchase last year's version back in the winter during a sale on the Kate Spade site, but missed out!  Oh well, this was a better deal!  This is my second of the Small Harmony Totes and I love this size.  Don't be fooled by the word "small." It's large enough to fit a lot of essentials without being too overwhelming.  I have a medium tote from Kate Spade and while I love it as well, I use it more for when I need to carry larger items like my laptop, notebooks, etc.  The only thing that would make this bag better is an exterior zipper pocket for my keys and phone, but oh well!

I try not to carry too many random unnecessary items with me if I can help it.  I hate weighing myself down with stuff that I don't need!  

Makeup Bag - I'm pretty bad about letting this bag get cluttered, so I usually do a clean out once a week or so.  My travel makeup bag essentials include powder, mini concealer, a neutral lipstick and lip gloss, lotion, and usually a neutral eye shadow palette.  Let's be real, sometimes I'm finishing my makeup on the go and sometimes I need to do some touch-ups later in the day.  I don't need my whole arsenal of makeup with me, but these basic usually keep me looking fresh throughout the day.

Sunglasses - I'm a sunglasses hoarder.  I don't spend a lot of money on sunglasses because without fail I lose them or break them.  My favorite places to pick up reasonable sunglasses are Loft, American Eagle, and Charlotte Russe!

Flair Pens - Not pictured is my Erin Condren Life Planner...  I don't carry it with me 100% of the time, but it's definitely with me a lot!  With 2 jobs I have to keep my life organized and in order, so my beloved pens and planner help keep me in check!

Wallet - I've switched back and forth between my smaller pink snap wallet and my larger back zip wallet.  (Both are Kate Spade deals that I scored at Nordstrom Rack.)  I like things about both.  I recently picked up a small gold card holder at Francesca's (a similar one from Kate Spade is pictured) and I use that for cards or gift cards that I don't use as regularly that I don't need in my main wallet.  I'm on the hunt for another small pouch for coupons since my old one recently fell apart!

Phone & Phone Charger - I upgraded to a Galaxy S7 and I love it!  I've had an S3, S5, and now the S7 and I really don't regret not being an iPhone girl!  I've also recently started carrying a phone charger with me because I hate worrying about my phone dying.  I had a dual battery case for my S5 and kind of miss the double battery life.  The S7 has great life, but I still like to be prepared!

Orbit Gum - Always Orbit.  Always either Sweet Mint or Winter Mint.  Always!

I've also been into purse charms and accessories.  I found the cutest little tassel in the Dollar Spot at Target for only $3! I'd also like to pick up a cute little poof to attach on there as well!

What's in your fall purse?  What are your essentials for this time of year? 

What's In My Purse?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Journey of a Connected Educator & Why You Need To Be One

Okay, I feel like every few months (or year) I get on here and talk about how I'm a bad blogger who doesn't ever post anything ever and how I'm going to get better at it.  Blah, blah, blah...  I'm not making any promises this time.

Anyway, I've been taking a few awesome professional learning courses this summer through my district and one of the options for my homework this week was to write a blog post.  I figured this would be a great time to give you an update on my new life as a second grade teacher and a little bit about what I've learned in the process.

Bear with me, because this is going to be LOOOONG, but I promise, it'll all come together at some point.  

First I have to give you a little background... 

If you haven't gathered from the name of my blog, I was a third grade teacher.  I spent eight years in the same school, grade level, and classroom and only once in those eight years had a change with one team member.  To say that I was in a very stable position would be putting it lightly.  I was very involved (maybe too much so) in my building and had also become involved in things in my school district.  I was very comfortable and really didn't see any need for change.

Fast Forward:  My seventh year of teaching sucked for too many reasons to list.  I decided to put it all into the Lord's hands and pray about the following school year and where the next chapter might be for me.  I couldn't get out the door fast enough come summer break and didn't want to go back.  I knew I'd be making that decision based on emotion and that wasn't a good way to go about such big thing.  God gave me some peace and I knew that I needed to stay at least one more year to figure out the next steps.

The following school year (my eighth) was so much better than the year before in many ways.  I had a pretty good class, a student teacher that was super fun to work with, and I made a couple of new friends in my building.  It wasn't a perfect year by any means, but it was a lot better overall.

Problem solved, right?

Nope.  There was still that part of me that wondered if leaving might be the next step for me.  I wasn't hating it, but I wasn't loving it either.  Part of me was also craving some change and growth and I wasn't sure this was where it was going to happen.  I continued to pray about it and decided to just see what happened next.

I won't get into the whole saga of what actually did happen next, but, to sum it up, some things happened in my building that really made me question if that was the type of school environment that I wanted to work in.  Though it wasn't that bad for me personally, I started to realize that my school was slowly becoming a toxic environment.  I had the most amazing teammates and worked next door to one of my best friends, but outside of a small circle of people, I had become very closed off and isolated from many people in my building.  I didn't know who I could actually trust.  In my own building, I felt like a very UNconnected educator.

Okay, now to jump around a little...

I've always been one of those people who's up on the trends, but not on the cutting edge.  I learned quickly before my first year of teaching that there's an amazing community of teachers online that are ready to share their ideas an expertise and become your virtual friend.  This was back in the days pre-Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, etc.  I made several good teacher friends on the site ProTeacher back during my first year and really came to love connecting with other teachers online.  Over the years that's grown to connecting with other teacher friends on Pinterest, Facebook, Teachers Pay Teachers, blogs, Twitter, and Instagram.

It amazes me to think about how much teaching has changed since I first started back in 2007.  A lot is the same, but there are so many things that make my job a lot easier.  Being connected to others in the education world helps me work smarter, not harder and I'm all about that.

So, why be a connected educator?

I've been reading Matt Miller's book Ditch That Textbook and pretty much everything that Matt says about being a connected educator sums up a feeling that I've had at once point other another.

I've been blessed to work on great teams of teachers throughout the years.  Even if we have different teaching styles and don't always do exactly the same thing, they've all been great people to work with and collaborate with.  I've found, though, that connecting with just my team isn't enough.  It's important to connect with others in both real life and online.

I love getting to go into other teacher's classrooms to see what they've got going on.  I think that's one thing that we sometimes don't get to do enough as teachers.  Remember how I said by the end I was feeling very unconnected at my previous school?  I hated that feeling!  To some of the teachers in my building, it had turned into a nasty competition.  That's not how it's supposed to be!  We need to connect with one another to challenge each other and share how we can be better at what we do.  If I'm a rock star at one thing and you are at another, why not share with each other and encourage one another?!?

Both buildings that I have worked in have been very spread out, so it's sometimes been hard to see what's going on with other teachers.  I am loving the fact that many of my current colleagues have Facebook and Twitter pages for their classrooms.  Sometimes I know more about what they're up to from social media than talking to them in person!  Having that connection with them online strengthens that bond in person when we do actually have the chance to see each other.

Being connected outside of our own "bubbles" is important as well.  I'm a HUGE fan of Instagram and last year I started a separate account to go along with my blog and TpT store.  That account is pretty much exclusively education related and I love it!  I've gained so many awesome ideas through that.  I've been inspired to try new things, found some amazing resources, and made some fun virtual friends in the process.

Another thing that makes it great?  I get to share my own awesomeness with others on there as well!  Matt says the book that it's selfish to keep our ideas to ourselves.  When you think about that, it's so true!  I sometimes wonder how I functioned the first half of my teaching career before Teachers Pay Teachers was around.  That site is genius!  It's the ultimate opportunity to share your awesome, creative activities!  I've always loved being creative and making cute things for my classroom.  My teaching colleague got into selling on TpT a few years ago and suggested that I get into it too.  She noticed what I was already doing and encouraged me to get on there and start selling to others!  She also connected me with several collaborative Pinterest boards where teachers post our own products and awesome finds.  They're just more great ways that we can share awesomeness with others and we don't have to keep those great things to ourselves.

Well, there you have it.

I told you this would be long, but that's my journey in a nutshell.  Making the change in schools and districts has reignited the spark of being a connected teacher and was exactly the refresh that I needed in a lot of ways.  And you know what's also cool?  I've been able to stay connected with my former teaching besties as they've started following my new journey on social media!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A lot can happen in a year...

Yes, I am in fact still alive.

And well.

I realized right before starting this post that it's been exactly one year since my last blog post.  Yes, blogger EPIC FAIL.  I wish I had a good excuse, but life just happened and blogging didn't.  Such is life.

Anyway, without going into every single detail of my life from the past 365 days, I will share the big things that have happened.  That's right, BIG THINGS!

Overall, this past school year was a good one.  I'd had the toughest year of my career the year before and I learned a lot of lessons personally and professionally from that year.  I was cautiously optimistic going into last year and I was very thankful to have an overall good year.  I had a pretty good class, a (mostly) manageable stress level, and I had fun mentoring a student teacher during the spring semester.  Yes, the year had ups and downs and plenty of stress mixed in, but it wasn't anything compared to the year before.

Without going into too much detail (since most of it doesn't deal with me directly), several events in the spring lead me to look for a new teaching job.  This wasn't by any means 100% of why I decided to do this, but it kind of was what pushed me over the edge.  It'd actually been something I'd contemplated and prayed about for nearly a year...  I knew after my crappy year that leaving for another teaching job would be a decision based on emotion and that I wasn't in the right mindset to make a big move like that.  I needed to seek God's guidance, be patient, and give it another year to see how things went.  And, like I said, I really did have a much better year all around.  But, despite that, by mid-April I knew that it was time to move on and begin the next chapter in my teaching career.  It was incredibly scary (and time consuming) going on the job hunt after 8 years in the same place, but I knew it was the move I needed for my own personal happiness and growth in my career.  There were a lot of things I loved about my school and my AMAZING team, but I just knew that God was telling me that this was the time to trust Him and seek out the next adventure.  I needed a change in environment.  I wanted to seek opportunities to grow in my career and I knew that with the direction I would like to eventually that my current district didn't hold those opportunities.  And finally, I just wanted to be a little bit closer to home.  I hope to purchase a house in the next year or so and wanted to try to find a job somewhat in the vicinity of where I would like to live.  That cross-town commute each morning wasn't bad, but it does wear you down over time.

My job hunt all happened very fast.  I submitted applications late on a Monday night, had an interview the following Monday, and a job offer less than 24 hours later.  It was honestly a bit overwhelming, but I truly felt like the Lord was guiding me every step of the way.  Neither of first 2 jobs that sparked my interest where the one that I interviewed for and accepted, but at the same time I had a HUGE sense of peace when I made my decision to accept that position.

So, what will I be doing next year?

I'll be teaching 2ND GRADE!!!

(And no, I won't be changing my "name."  I've decided at this point not to rebrand myself quite yet.)

It's not a crazy move, but the whole concept of moving down a grade is scary and exciting all at the same time.  I'll be much closer to where I currently live and will be teaching in a community that I would potentially like to move to in the future.  I've heard many positive things about the school and district I'll be teaching in and really think I'll enjoy working with my 2 new teammates.

Is it incredibly scary leaving everything I've ever known in my teaching career?  HECK YEAH!

But, I am putting my trust in the Lord and letting Him guide me as I start this new adventure.  I don't know what I could be getting myself into, but I am hoping for the best and I am optimistic that I am heading in the right direction personally and professionally.

I've learned a lot in the past year...
  • Time heals all wounds.  People will hurt you, but it doesn't have to stay that way.  Everything happens for a reason and we have to learn from those experiences and move forward.
  • Stand up for what you know is right.  Sometimes you just have to be bold, step out of your comfort zone, and stand up for what you believe is right.  Sure, there may be risks and it may be uncomfortable, but follow your heart and what you know you need to do for those you care about.
  • Accept that you can't make everyone happy.  I'm a major people pleaser and I always want to make everyone happy and like me.  Ya know what?  That's not going to happen most of the time.  I've just gotta do my best and accept that I may not make everyone happy in the process.
  • Trust in the Lord.  This isn't a new concept by any means, but I always feel like when I've been the most stressed or have to make big decisions that God has been the one to provide and lead me in the right direction.  Lots of prayers and tears...
  • Be kind...  However you find it necessary.  There will always be people in your life that just plain piss you off.  It's not very Christ-like to punch people in the face, even if that's the feeling you have at the moment (or for a lot of moments).  You don't have to go around being fake nice to people, but you do need to be kind.  And sometimes kind is just plain not saying a word.
  • Find your support system.  I'm very blessed to have a couple circles of friends that supported me through this journey.  I didn't open up to a ton of people at school about my job hunt (for obvious reasons), but the ones that I did share this with gave me amazing support even though most of them didn't want to see me go.  Hugs, prayers, recommendations, encouragement...  You name it, that circle was there for me and still are!
  • Take risks.  I was very comfortable in my job.  I liked so many things about where I was working, but I knew that in order to grow personally and professionally I couldn't stay put forever.  I'm not the best at putting myself out there, but I knew it's what had to be done.
So, there you go...  A little piece of my heart and what's been going on with me for the past year!  I don't know how much I'll be blogging, but I'll try to be better about it.  Hopefully there won't be another 365 days before my next post!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

*christmasinjuly* Sale on TpT

I hope you're having a great Wednesday!  

I'm joining some other Tpt'ers for a Christmas in July sale!  

Click here to check out the sale!

You can check out the sale by clicking on the picture above or search "christmasinjuly" in the search bar on Teachers Pay Teachers.  There are a lot of great participants of all subject areas, so it's definitely worth checking out because all products are marked down to only $1!

Just checking in...

Happy Wednesday!

I've been MIA for the past couple weeks, so I thought I'd just check in with a quick post!

I've been in my Common Core math grant course for the past week and a half.  I'm almost finished with it!  Our focus this year has been on geometry and measurement, so I'm gathering up all sorts of new ideas and resources.  I'm working on ideas for a BIG geometry unit for my TpT store!  I'm hoping to get that created in the next couple weeks.  I'd love to have that done before school starts!

Speaking of school...  I am slightly depressed to announce that by this time next month I will be back in school with my students.  I'm actually quite excited to meet my new kids, but I wouldn't mind summer lasting a teensy bit longer!  This whole getting up early and being a functional human being all day long is cramping my style.

Finally, I'll hopefully be able to share some posts about some of my school purchases!  I bit the bullet and ordered my first Erin Condren lesson planner and will hopefully be getting that in the mail in the next week or so!  I am really trying to keep my costs to a minimum (especially since I found out we may not get our usual $100 from PTA), but I have picked up a few things to keep me organized and to spruce up my classroom!

I hope you're all having a wonderful Wednesday!  I'll be back with regular posts soon!

I'll leave you with this eCard that my friend, coworker, and TpT mentor Lindsay (from The Pursuit of Joyfulness) created for me based on a recent Facebook status...

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of July Sale!!!

Click here to go to my store!

I mentioned on Tuesday that I'm running my first sale on Teacher's Pay Teachers!  I'm offering 10% off all products over $1 (over 10 products total)


I posted a patriotic FREEBIE in my store as well!

So, go on and do some shopping and grab yourself some new goodies for the upcoming school year!  The sale runs through Sunday, so if you're occupied with cookouts and fireworks today you'll still have time to shop the sale though the rest of the weekend.

Have a wonderful and safe 4TH OF JULY!!!  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How to Save Money When You're Shopping

I pride myself on being a pretty awesome bargain shopper and I love a good deal.  While some things are worth a splurge, it's always nice to save money when you can!  I wanted to share some of my favorite ways to save a few extra bucks and get the best deals.

Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs.

There are so many stores that have rewards programs these days and most of those are free to sign up for.  Some programs are definitely more rewarding than others, but my theory is that if it's free, why not join?!?  Many stores that have programs that you do have to pay for do make it worth your money if you shop there often. 

Sign up for e-mails.
I know that many people are hesitant to give out their e-mail address to stores, but being in the know about current sales and promos is worth it.  I have one e-mail account that is almost exclusively for this kind of stuff.  It's an account that is totally separate from my blogging stuff and my work account.  Yes, I get a TON of messages each day, but I have made it a habit to only read the messages of stores that I am interested in purchasing something from.  For example, I get messages from Bath & Body Works almost daily, but I only open them on days when I know I will be going there or when I know I need something.  Otherwise, they go straight to the trash so that I avoid potential temptation.

ALWAYS use Ebates when shopping online.
I learned about Ebates a few years ago and was a bit skeptical, but this site is 100% legit.  You can earn a percentage of cash back from your online purchases.  To date I have received about $90 cash back!  There are so many stores that work with Ebates and I really have found very few that aren't on there.  They've also recently added a toolbar icon that notifies you when you can get cash back on a site that you are shopping on so that you don't miss out of deals.  

If you'd like to join Ebates, you can click my referral link here!  It's free to sign up and they typically send you a gift card with your first purchase through them!

Take time to compare prices.
If you have the time, take the opportunity to compare prices of items from store to store.  I do a lot of "pre shopping" online to compare items that I am interested in.  Not only does this sometimes eliminate the temptation to make an impulse buy, but it also can save you a lot of money!

Learn about special discounts.
As a teacher, there are so many discounts out there!  Most of these are limited to shopping in store, but occasionally you can use these special discounts online.  One of my favorites is J.Crew / J.Crew Factory's teacher discount because they let you stack it on top of other promos in store!  There are also a lot of discounts out there for students and military, so do your research and see if you qualify for any special savings!

Learn the sale patterns.
Get to know the sale patterns at your favorite stores.  I've learned a lot of this just from subscribing to e-mails.  Most stores have a pretty consistent schedule for when they get in new items and when they do markdowns.  Many sales also do semi-annual sales and this is a great time to stock up on items.  I love B&BW's shower gels and hand soaps, so I usually stock up during their semi-annuals to cut down on trips throughout the year.  Many times you can also get great deals on off-season items.  I am known to snag Christmas gifts during the summer semi-annuals.  

Make friends with the sales associates.
Maybe it's just my personality, but I love chatting it up with the sales associates at my favorite stores.  I think I got this from my mom...  She ended up inviting some of the girls from her favorite store to her wedding because she'd known them so long!  It's fun to talk to people and get their input on items that you're considering purchasing.  This ultimately led me to my part-time job at Aerie!  Making friends at your favorite stores is a great way to be in the know and get some of the best deals.  I've learned as both a shopper and a SA that being friendly gets you a long way!  SA's will go the extra mile to help friendly and regular customers (even when they're not on commission).