Thursday, December 31, 2009

15 weeks - update

I know, I know. I'm a horrible blogger! But since Christmas Break started, I've barely even logged in to googlereader to read anyone else's, much less put effort into my own! I even have some Christmas posts that I had started way back when that I need to finish off and post.

Just know that I have been busy. Busy laying around all day and enjoying the holidays. Busy spending time with all of my family and getting some much needed rest.

Besides staying busy with all of that, I did make it to another prenatal appointment yesterday. This time our little one's heartrate was 10 beats slower, but still a solid 156 beats a minute. My weight and blood pressure and everything else is still fine too. The only big thing the doctor advised me of for right now is not to lay flat on my back. No problem, I thought, I'm a side-sleeper anyway. Actually, problem. Last night I couldn't fall asleep for anything. All I wanted to do was lay on my back! Which is weird, because I never remember doing it. Oh well. If that is the only thing keeping me up at night, I feel like I am doing okay! Most of my bad symptoms are starting to slowly disappear. I'm actually starting to feel a little more human again!

Oh, and our ultrasound is scheduled for the end of January. Can't wait!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

School Angel Tree Gifts

I want to take this chance to publicly brag on my students. Well, actually their parents, I guess.

Our class went together and adopted an angel from the Angel Tree at our school. I sent letters home asking parents to send in anything on the list, even hand-me-downs would work. I did this last year and had a pretty good turnout. But nothing prepared me for what these kids and their parents would do this year. This angel got so much stuff! These families gave and gave and gave some more. 

Now I know that of course my kids could not have done this without the help of their parents. But I have to think that maybe some of my kids stayed on top of their parents until they sent something? And even if it were all parents, good for them. What a great way to set an awesome example for your children! I even had some families send in money and toys who I know are having to make cut backs this year. Yet they still made room to give to others. I am so proud of these kids and their parents!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ramblings About Teaching and Book Review - No Fear in My Classroom

I read this book as part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge.

This book originally caught my attention because I was interested to see what the book had to say about handling parental problems. As a first year teacher, this was one of my biggest struggles last year. I guess I had always idealized being a "teacher." I wanted all of my kids and parents to like me, ya know? After all, I was responsible for their education 35 hours a week. I bust my butt and make sacrifices just so these kids will know that I love them and gain the knowledge they need to help them be successful not just in the fifth grade, but in life. I dedicated four years of my life just to learn how to do this and will probably spend the next thirty years or so doing it. Why wouldn't they like me??

It didn't take me long to realize that not every parent was going to like everything I did. It even seemed that some of them didn't like anything I did. I struggled with this daily. My heart was broken. Luckily I had an entire support system, without which I would probably have been committed to an asylum:
1.) a common sensical, supportive husband 
2.) fellow interns who were going through the same thing 
3.) an awesome mentor teacher to give me reality checks
4.) two really amazing co-teachers to help me through each and every day
5.) a great principal and caring staff members

Even though my skin is a lot tougher this year, I am still learning how to deal with this issue. My parents are also much better this year, which helps a lot, and they all know that this is not my first year. One year of experience makes a big difference, especially to parents. I'm also realizing that of course some of them are going to watch me like a hawk. They send their babies to me everyday and have to trust that I am treating them like my own and giving them the skills they need to complete fourth grade. I would watch me like a hawk too! And I've accepted the fact that even if I have tried my best and made all of the "right" decisions based on my training and experience, there are still going to be parents who don't agree with me or who feel like I have not done enough. Oh well. As long as I know that I have done my best, I can't sweat it. 

So now, back to the book - 

This book was divided into four parts: Personal Fears, Student Fears, Parental Fears, and External Fears. I did gain some understanding from the Parental Fears section, but that was about it. A lot of the Personal Fears didn't apply to me and most of the stuff from the Student Fears section was pretty much common sense. 

Another thing that I don't agree with is that I think some of the right kind of fear is actually healthy in a classroom. A reasonable amount of fear that I am not doing my best keeps me working hard. Students should fear consequences, or else do the consequences really work? Students should fear not learning what they will need in life, that way they will see the importance of the knowledge and pay attention and actually care to learn. 

By the end of reading the book, I was just skimming for good stuff. I can see keeping it as a resource for future use, but that is about it. Don't really recommend. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Belly Laughs - The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth

I read this book several months back when Jeff and I first started thinking about trying to have a baby. I am one of those really weird people who reads books way ahead of time. (I was reading marriage books before we were even engaged. But hey, I wanted to know exactly what it was I would be agreeing to!) A good friend from school had mentioned that this book was hilarious so I decided to give it a try.

First of all, she was right. This book was extremely funny. But you have to remember that this book was written by Jenny McCarthy. So yes, there were some not-so-nice words and parts that were a little on the vulgar side. Scratch that. Very vulgar. But if you can handle that kind of stuff, then you would love this book. She is brutally honest about the highs and lows of her pregnancy. Some of the chapters had me literally laughing out loud and some have me really, really hoping I don't have some of her troubles!!

I enjoyed her book enough that later on in my pregnancy, I plan to read Baby Laughs - The Naked Truth About the First Year of Mommyhood.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Splendor (A Luxe Novel)

I wrote about the Luxe series originally here. This book is also part of my Fall Into Reading Challenge you can read about here. For the Luxe website, click here

Having enjoyed all three of the other books in this series, I was really looking forward to this one. I couldn't wait to see how Godbersen would wrap everything up. It is such a good series that I don't want to give away any details at the risk of spoiling any of the books. I would definitely recommend this series to anyone.

However, I cannot say that the ending did not disappoint me. I LOVED this series right up until the last 15 pages or so. I just plain did not like how it ended. There was only one story line that I actually liked the ending to. I went to the official website of the series to check out the author's blog and found that I am definitely not alone. There are over 156 comments on her post about the series' end, most of them from outraged or disappointed fans. However, after reading her reaction and reasoning behind her ending, I don't feel so upset about it anymore. Yes, if I had written the series I would have ended it very differently. But I didn't write it. Where I am more of a hopeless romantic, Godbersen is more independent and free spirited. Of course her ending is going to be different from mine. 

But no matter which personality type you are, you can still enjoy the series as a whole. Lots of twists and turns and suspenseful endings. Beautiful details. For more on why I love the series, check out my original post

I also found this site with pics of the cover dresses. Really pretty! I think I was born in the wrong century! 

Monday, December 14, 2009

1/2 Price Living

I bought this book for the obvious reason - I wish I could live my life for half the price! 

But I was kind of disappointed in this book. I was hoping it would have lots of good shopping and saving tips, but it really didn't. The only tips it gave were really obvious ones - like get your clothes from consignment sales, meal plan before you grocery shop and use coupons. Seriously. That was all. Most of the book seemed to be helping women justify staying home and not working. That is fine for those women, but I am not one of them. In places it almost seemed as if I should feel guilty for not wanting to do it. I don't deny the benefits of staying home, but it is just not for me for a lot of reasons. (Which is a whole other post in itself!) I really don't need a book to try and guilt me into it - I have a mother for that! 

I read this book as part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge.

Friday, December 11, 2009

2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge

Yep, another challenge. Over the next few days I will be joining several. What can I say? A LOT of good challenges start in January.

Today I am joining the 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. I am signing up for The Mini Challenge - check out and read 25 library books. The next size up is 50. That's almost a book a week and probably too much for me. But who knows? Maybe I'll get there. And I love the idea of supporting local libraries. If it weren't for the library, there would be no way I could read all of the books that I do. Books are expensive! Also, I will be counting books I check out from the library at the school where I teach. I am not really sure if it qualifies, but you can't get much more local than right down the hall! To visit the official challenge page, click here.

So Far, So Good: (date finished) library

1.) Nancy Drew 1: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (01/03) AES
2.) Nancy Drew 2: The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene (01/06) AES
3.) Blubber by Judy Blume (01/16) BGPL audiobook
4.) How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else (01/22) BGPL audiobook
5.) The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (01/29) BGPL
6.) Nancy Drew 3: The Bungalow Mystery (02/01) AES
7.) Front of the Class: How Tourette's Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had by Brad Cohen (02/08) BGPL
8.) Nancy Drew 9: The Sign of the Twisted Candles by Carolyn Keene (02/16) AES
9.) Julia and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell (03/06) BGPL
10.) How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (03/10) BGPL
11.) The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis (03/25) BGPL
12.) Nancy Drew 5 - The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene (03/28) BGPL
13.) Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (03/30) BGPL
14.) Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (03/31) BGPL
15.) A Journey to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (03/31) BGPL
16.) Baby Laughs: The Naked Truth About the First Year of Mommyhood by Jenny McCarthy (04/04) BGPL
17.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (04/08) BGPL
18.) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (04/13) BGPL audiobook
19.) Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz (04/15) BGPL
20.) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (04/30) BGPL
21.) The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (05/09) AES
22.) The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (05/18) BGPL
23.) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (05/28) BGPL
24.) The Second Short Life of Bree Tanner (08/19) BGPL
25.) Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar (09/30) BGPL audiobook

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Heartbeat : )

Last Wednesday (12/02) I had my first doctor's appointment with my actual doctor (before I had just seen the nurses). Other than the ultrasound, this appointment was one that I had looked forward to the most because we were supposed to be able to actually hear our baby's heartbeat. I was so nervous that something would be wrong and they would not be able to find it. I know, I know, I'm a worry-wart, but I can't help it! Everyone keeps telling me that if something were wrong, my body would tell me. I know this in my head, but it is still very hard not to worry! 

But as it turns out (as it usually does!) I had nothing to worry about at all. Dr. L had no problem at all finding the heartbeat. It was a solid 166 beats per minute! It was such a great moment for us. Our baby has a heartbeat. Our baby. It's actually in there! I know this may seem silly, but up until now, it's been pretty hard to wrap my mind around. Don't get me wrong, it's still mind-boggling, but a little less so. I mean, it's not like I look pregnant yet, just a little flabby around the middle. And even though I have been pretty sick, it still just feels to me like I am sick and tired all the time. I don't necessarily "feel pregnant." And even though I still don't physically feel pregnant, my heart definitely feels a little more like a mother. Just hearing that tiny, fast heartbeat makes me want to eat better, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. I cannot even bring myself to drink any caffeine now either because every time I think about it I hear that little heartbeat and I think about making it beat faster than it needs to be right now. 

The only other interesting thing that came from this appointment was that because of a pre-existing heart condition, my doctor wants me to see a cardiologists. I've had surgery to correct the problem, so I don't really foresee any problems, but my doctor wants me to have an echo done just in case. She says sometimes pregnancy can make past problems sneak up again. I'm supposed to see a cardiologist every year, but I don't think I've been since I went to college! I know, I know, I should definitely take better care of my self. I don't have an appointment yet, but definitely be in prayer that there are no problems. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Telling the Rileys

November 01, 2009
The day after we told Jeff's parents, my parents came down with Mark and Heather, two of my siblings, just to visit. We all hung out at our apartment and my mom made some awesome chili.

My mom has always said that whenever I became pregnant she wanted to take one of those cute sideways pictures of me every month. I have always adamantly refused. The reason? During these early weeks, you don't really look pregnant. You look normal. But you feel pudgy. And fat. Well, I don't know how everyone feels, but that is definitely how I feel! So no. I do not want sideways pictures taken of me until I actually have something to take a picture of.

But, of course I caved. I went out and bought the cutest baby picture frame I could find and then put a sideways picture of me in it. But for the record, I will not post these pictures anywhere the public can view them. Maybe after I actually look pregnant. Maybe.

Anyway, I handed the picture frame to my parents. They knew immediately what it was and of course were very excited. Probably no one was more excited than my sister, though. She cried like she was having a baby!

Once both sets of our parents knew the big news, we went around town visiting some of the people who are important to us. We visited Jeff's grandmother, the Ayers, and the Borders. And of course we called a lot of people too. Like my grandmother, my brother Tim (who is having a baby boy in April), and a few of my close friends. Yes, I did enjoy the secret while it lasted, but it sure did feel great being able to tell all of the people who love us!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

10 Reasons...

10 Reasons I Love Thanksgiving Break (in no particular order)...

1.) The AMAZING Food
2.) Getting to eat said food with the Borlands and Grandmother on Thursday
3.) Getting to spend a few days in Georgetown with all of the Riley's and Mamaw
4.) Dogsitting for Bella (a big back yard for all three dogs to play together and run around in)
5.) Being able to sleep in past 5:20am
6.) Having an excuse NOT to go to the store on Friday
7.) I can start decorating for Christmas (I just can't start before)
8.) A Flip-Flop week of school: 2 days of school and then 5 days off
9.) Having some time to catch up on school work (If I'm a good girl and actually do it!)
10.) Having the excuse of "eating for two" - even though I really shouldn't be!

Did I already mention the AMAZING Food??

10 Reasons I Have to be Thankful (once again in no particular order)...

1.) Jesus Loves Me and he is my Savior
2.) Most of my family has accepted Jesus as thier Savior
3.) I have a really great husband
4.) We are having a baby!! (And I am almost out of the dreaded first trimester!)
5.) We have two of the best dogs ever and they are both healthy
6.) I have a job that I LOVE, even if it is often stressful
7.) We have a pretty nice apartment (even if it's not really clean!)
8.) UK's season looks promising
9.) We have a nephew on the way
10.) We are having a baby!! (Definitely worth mentioning twice)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Telling the Borlands

Even though Jeff and I found out on October 11th, we waited a while to spread the news, even to our families. This was just something that I have always been nervous about. I know how things can so easily go wrong in early, early pregnancy. Plus, it was kinda nice to enjoy the news with just Jeff for a while, you know?

Anyway, the weekend of Halloween we were going to have the opportunity to see Jeff's parents Saturday and my parents on Sunday. What better time to tell them? So after Trick-or-Treating on Halloween night, Jeff and I headed over to the Borland's. His parents were taking me out for a birthday dinner to Red Lobster (my fave!). Before we left the house, they gave me my present (a really cute travel bathroom bag with my name on it). Then Jeff hands his mom, Paula, a green apple. She just says thanks and thinks it is a Halloween gift. Jeff then tells his dad, Mel, that he has something for him too and hands him a miniature grandfather clock (the kind you can find at HobbyLobby, made for dollhouses). Mel is grateful, but you could tell he was still trying to work something out. Jeff and I stare at them until they realize they are missing something. "What kind of apple is that?" Jeff asks. Granny Smith. "And what kind of clock?" A grandfather clock. I think even after they realized they were still too afraid to come out and say it. Somehow though, the truth was realized and there was a lot of hugging and even some crying. This will be their first grandchild and I know they are so, so excited. We did still go to Red Lobster, but it became a celebration of so much more than just my 24th birthday : )

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Bit of an Explanation...

I don't know if anyone has noticed or not, but my blogging has slacked off a bit. I haven't posted about any new books in quite a while and even announced a MealPlanMonday hiatus. The reason for this is that my life has been turned upside down. Literally. Wonderfully, Miraculously, Completely turned upside down.

Ready for it? Jeff and I are going to have a baby. : )

We are so stinking excited and cannot wait to meet our little blessing. I know this may sound extremely corny, but that really is exactly how we feel! We both feel so blessed that the Lord has allowed us to become parents. We cannot wait to see what His plan is going to hold for us. It is amazing and scary and humbling and just plain ol' life changing.

I am still going to continue blogging, of course. However, since my life has changed so much, my blog will have to change with it. I will continue talking about the books I read, they just may change a bit. (I've already read a pretty decent-sized stack of pregnancy books! And a lot of the books on my Fall Into Reading Challenge list are going to be ignored for a while! Maybe a Spring Challenge??) I will still try to keep up with MealPlanMondays, but those too may be a little different. (The reason for the hiatus was that my morning sickness and general blah-ness kept me from wanting too much of anything to eat! It's also really hard to plan ahead for meals when something sounds good one minute and then repulses you the very next. Not to mention the smells! Don't even get me started on those!) And of course, you can look forward to plenty of posts about the highs and lows of our journey through this incredible time! There have already been so many things that I have wanted to blog about, but haven't been able to because "the word" wasn't officially out yet. Some of these things seemed important at the time, but now not so much. But some of those things I probably still will blog about, you'll just have to understand that the events happened several weeks ago.
I am excited about getting back to blogging, since now I can actually "talk" about what is really going on in my life!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Author Visit and Book Review - Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different

Today the fourth and fifth graders at my school were lucky enough to have, as the kids say, "a real live author" come to visit. The author was Kristin O'Donnell Tubb. She has written several books for commercial characters (think ScoobyDoo, Bugs Bunny, Holly Hobbie), but also has a new book out that is all her own, Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different. She was great with the kids. She gave them several good revising strategies to use that will spice up their pieces. Not to mention she was also as cute as a button! Very stylish, but still in a down-to-earth way, you know? 

I ordered Autumn  when I first heard Mrs. Tubb was coming for a visit. The book tells the story of the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a place almost everyone who lives in this part of the country has been at least once or twice in their life. The story is told through the eyes of an eleven year old girl named, you guessed it, Autumn Winifred Oliver. Her family lives in Cades Cove, Tennessee, a town where things never change. But changes are surely on the way. It seems the town will either be lost to loggers stripping the mountains, or to the "Not So" Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And Autumn and her family find themselves stuck right in the middle. You can read an excerpt here

I read this book over Fall Break and loved every bit of it. Here's why:
  • Some of the messes Autumn gets herself into are so hilarious they literally had me laughing out loud! From riding a coffin down a flooded river to using sticks to prop open the mouths of geese, she definitely does things different! 
  • The book is loaded with mountain culture, sayings, and superstitions. It reminded me a lot of Appalachia. Some of the stuff I actually had to look up because I had no clue what it meant. Like, did you know you weren't supposed to burn sassafras wood in your house? It's bad luck and means someone is probably going to die. (You better run straight home and throw out all that sassafras, ya hear?) I also had no idea what a dogtrot was. (Check out the picture at the bottom.)
  • Parts of the book made me cry. No, not cry. Sob. Openly. But in the good way, you know? I just felt so close to Autumn and her family that when they suffered, I experienced it to. I LOVE books that do that. A mark of a really good writer.
I read this book aloud to a group of fourth graders who read at a pretty advanced level. The dialect did make it kinda challenging, but fun to use for a read aloud. We did have to stop a lot to talk about a lot of the phrases and bits of culture that they(we) did not understand. What I ended up doing was having the kids take notes on the phrases or words that they did not understand or just plain liked. Every chapter or so we would stop and discuss. And then at the end of the book they will have a list of really neat phrases and words that they could borrow for their own pieces. The kids also laugh out loud at the book, even more than I did. They have started using "Autumn" phrases and commenting that they "do things different." It's always neat to watch them have fun with a book as a group. 

How'd you like to have a dogtrot in the middle of your house?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Can Finally Start Buying Clothes...

This week, Jeff and I found out that in April we will be getting a nephew! That's right. Timothy and Katie had an ultrasound this week and found out that they are having a baby boy! My brother said that the baby was very active and was kicking like crazy the whole time. He did two full somersaults during the ultrasound! Everything looked good and the due date is still set for April 07. We are so happy for Tim and Katie and cannot wait to meet their beautiful baby boy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!!

Yesterday was my birthday. Now, I'm not the kind that likes a lot of attention on my birthday (but a little sure is good!). But I do want to take the time to brag on my husband. Even though he is suffering, and I mean suffering, from the flu, he still made every effort to make my birthday special. He gave me not one, but two of the sweetest cards I have ever received and he dragged his sick self down to B&N to buy me all three of the books that I wanted for my birthday, two of which did not even come out until the actual day of my birthday! Yep, he's pretty much the best.

  • Splendor is the last book in the Luxe Series, one of my guilty pleasures you can read about here.
  • American on Purpose is a memoir by Craig Ferguson, my favorite late night guy (although I am too lame to stay up that late and must DVR!).
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks is the first cookbook by you guessed it, The Pioneer Woman. I read her blog and love her recipes! Check out her website here.
I will update more on these books as I have time to sit down and actually read/look through them! I also got some very nice gifts from my team teachers, but that will have to be saved for another post.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

This is the second Gregory Maguire book I have read, the other being Wicked. This book is not as deep and dark as Wicked, and although it was mildly vulgar in parts, it was not nearly as vulgar as Wicked either.

As made obvious by the title, this book tells the story of Cinderella from the perspective of one of the Ugly Stepsisters. While I did enjoy this book, it was not exactly what I had hoped for. I guess I expected it to be more like the Disney version (silly, I know). The story lacks fairy godmothers and enchanted talking animals and spells that break at midnight. It is not so much fairy tale as real life that has been elevated to fairy tale status over the years. It tells the story of a woman and her two daughters (one painfully plain-looking and one who seems to be mentally handicapped) and how they flee England after the death of their husband and father and try to make a new life in Holland. All of the female characters are very strong and willing to do whatever it takes, even though they live in a culture where women are not truly valued and even repressed. I also liked the little twist at the end that I really did not see coming. 

Overall, a good read. I recommend it if you like fairy tales, especially ones where things are not always what they seem. I enjoyed it enough that I do plan on reading another of Maguire's books, but I'm not yet sure which...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Meal Plan Monday - Hiatus

I know there are hundreds (okay, maybe just two or three) of you out there who log in to your GoogleReader each week just to read my Meal Plan Monday posts (or rather, you happen to see that it's there and skim past it). It is to you that I must apologize. I am going to take a hiatus from MPM posts for the time being. Yes, I will still be doing my best to plan, plan, plan, but I feel that some other things have recently become more important to me and require more of my time and effort. I know, I know, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Trust that I am still planning, just not publicly. I do hope to get back to MPM's soon, but until then, you will just have to get your fill reading everyone else's!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dog Sitting

This week, two of our good friends, Brittany and Dale, are out of town. I was excited to dog sit for them because I love their boxer, Bella, and because they have a fenced in backyard. My dogs don't get the chance to just run free very often, but they love it when they do. They especially love it when they get to run free with a friend. For more of Bo and Allie's adventures with Bella, click here to see Puppy Paddle pics (whoa, say that three times!).

Sorry, Bo was refusing to look at the camera. Unlike these two attention hounds, he hates paparazzi.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Meal Plan Monday (or lack thereof)

Since I am on Fall Break and will be out of school all week (YAY!), I am not planning my meals. I do have a few recipes that I want to try, but I don't really want to commit to anything. Over breaks, I just like to cook what I want, when I want. Breaks are the only time I am able to do this since I am usually in no way crunched for time! So this week, who knows what we will be eating? If I get into any big cooking adventures, I will surely let everyone in blogworld know!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

You know me, anything Harry Potter and I am all about it. So when I saw this package of two books that complemented the series, I couldn't pass them up! And it helped that 20% of the retail sales price goes to ComicRelief, an organization that helps three groups of children: 1.) Young people with mental health problems 2.) Young people with alcohol problems and 3.) Young people exploited through prostitution, trafficking, and the Internet. I am so glad that JK Rowling did this.

The books themselves should be hilarious to any Potter fan. I found that I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts more than Quiddith simply because it belonged to Harry and had his and Ron's comments scattered throughout. Quiddith was a library book, so no comments there, just a list in the front detailing who had checked it out most recently. Both books include passages from Dumbledore, which are funny and sad, given what we know about Dumbledore's fate.

If students are Potter fans, they will enjoy these books. If not, some may enjoy Fantastic Beasts, but probably not Quidditch.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Won, I Won!

As you know, I love reading blogs. One of my favorite things about reading blogs is all of the giveaways! I comment all the time to qualify for prizes, but I've never managed to be "randomly selected"... until now! I won a copy of The Listeners from a blog called 5minutesforbooks. They give away books all the time, often reserving one or two prizes from each giveaway specifically for educators/librarians. I was one of these winners. I cannot wait to introduce this book to my kids and include it in my classroom library. You can click here to see the post where the winners are announced.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Work in Progress...

I love to cross stitch! But the problem is, I never know what to do with my creations after I am finished. And I don't want to spend money on things that just sit in our junk room after they're finished. So imagine my excitement when a lady at school asked me if I would like to finish one of her projects. She apparently started it years ago and would like it finished, but doesn't want to do it herself. Enter, me!

This is what the project looks like now...

And this is what it is supposed to look like when it's finished...

Maybe if I post it here I will actually make myself finish it and won't put it off. I do love to do it, I I am just honestly crunched for time. Hopefully I will make myself relax and work on it and maybe, just maybe, it will be finished by Christmas!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

  1. Chili - I heart this fall weather!!
  2. Chicken Noodle Soup - my mom gave me this soup mix I really want to try.
  3. Three Cheese Baked Mostaccioli - a new recipe for me! We'll see how it goes. I found it at, a site started by the Pioneer Woman, one of my favorite blogs to read!
  4. Shepherd's Pie - also a new one for me! I don't think I will make it quite like the one linked here. Once again, we'll see!
  5. Grilled Chicken (cooked in Italian Dressing) Possible sides - salad, mashed potatoes, (because I will probably have left overs from the Shepherd's Pie!) green beans...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

1.) Chicken Tetrazzini (recipe to come later)

2.) Cheeseburgers

3.) Breakfast for Dinner

4.) Leftovers

5.) We'll see... Maybe something new. I didn't try a new recipe last week like I wanted to...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We're Just Like You, Only Prettier Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle

We're Just Like You, Only Prettier:

Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle

Absolutely hillarious! This book is not at all plot-driven - each chapter talks about something different. I like to read books like this when I am in between books, don't feel like thinking very much, or want a bit of light reading. From start to finish, it took me over a year to read. But each time I picked it up, it left me in stitches. And no wonder with chapters titled: Stop Watching Your Plasma TV and Start Selling Plasma - How to Become Honest-to-Jesus White Trash and Stamp out Gossip? - My Best Friend's Mama's Sister's Hairdresser Won't Like This a Bit. If you grew up in the South, most of the chapters will seem very familiar to you. Rivenbark also has a few other books out I may read off and on over the next year. But I can't decide between Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits or Bless Your Heart, Tramp. You can check out her website here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baby Allie and Roxie

I found this video on my Dad's memory card this summer and love, love, love it! Just wanted to share it for the fun of it. This was filmed before we got married, so Allie is between 3 and 4 months old. Roxie is my Dad's German Shephard and is a member of the K9 Unit of the Bluegrass Search and Rescue Unit. She is the sweetest thing!

Friday, September 18, 2009

My "Baby" Brother

Today, my baby brother is turning 15. I can't believe it! And as bad as this year is, I don't even want to think about next year's birthday! Every time I see him he is taller and thinner and his voice is deeper!

Happy Birthday, Mark! I love you!

Back in the day!

Me with both of my brothers last summer. He looks so much older just from a year ago! But, it's the most recent picture I have.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Puppy Paddle!!

Last Saturday, the waterpark here in Bowling Green had a fundraiser for the Humane Society. We took Bo and Allie and joined my friend, Brittany with her Boxer, Bella. Paula (Jeff's mom) met us there too and helped keep up with Bo, who hates the water. (Notice how he isn't in any of the pictures!)

Check out all the dogs! You can see Allie trying to beat another dog to a tennis ball. For the most part, she played nice. The only dog she completely ignored was Radar the Weather Dog from WNKY. Radar kept trying to play with her, but she was having none of him!

Brittany and Bella!

So Cute!!

This pic cracks me up! She has a tennis ball in her mouth and you can see her fur going two different directions from shaking herself off.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wedding Gifts...

Our most recent purchase...

Why am I blogging about new tv trays??

Two Reasons:

#1 We've wanted them for a while now and I really enjoy them.

#2 I purchased these puppies with the last of our Target gift cards from the wedding. According to my site, we have been married for 458 days now. I think we've done pretty well to have held on to that $$ for so long! We've used our wedding gift cards from different stores for things like a silverware box, groceries, bakeware, home organizers, shelves, gifts for others, etc. We are so thankful to our friends and family who blessed us with almost $1,000 in gift cards! We still have a few cards left to Kohl's and Bed, Bath and Beyond! I'm thinking maybe a bread maker or maybe some home decor???

Monday, September 14, 2009

Honey-Teriyaki Pineapple Pork Chops

: ) For Sabrina...

I actually got this recipe out of a Biggest Loser Family Cookbook, but I found it on this site for anyone else who wants it. Of course, I have kind of changed it and made it my own. Especially the cooking time. It takes much longer in my oven than what the recipe calls for. I just kind of flip it so it cooks evenly and take it out when I know it's done. And I definitely don't own a sprayer, i just lightly brush with olive oil.

Here's the recipe:

Makes 4 servingsOlive oil in a sprayer (not store-bought spray that contains propellant) 4 (4-ounce) trimmed boneless pork loin chops (3 1/2-4 1/2-ounce chops are OK), about 3/4" thick1 teaspoon garlic powderSalt, to tasteGround black pepper, to taste8 teaspoons honey teriyaki marinade and sauce (such as Ken's Steak House Marinade and Sauce)4 slices canned pineapple slices in juice, drained

Preheat the broiler.

Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray the foil with olive oil.

Lightly mist both sides of the chops with olive oil and season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place the chops, not touching, on the prepared baking sheet and broil about 3" from the heat for about 2 minutes (be sure to leave the oven door open a crack when broiling).

Turn the chops and brush or spread 2 teaspoons of the teriyaki marinade evenly over the top of each. Top with pineapple slices.

Broil for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the pineapple and glaze brown lightly and the pork is barely pink inside. Serve immediately.

Nutrition at a GlancePer serving: 199 calories, 26 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 75 mg cholesterol, trace fiber, 234 mg sodium

Meal Plan Monday!!

In an effort to better organize my life, I am trying to plan out my meals further ahead of time. I used to be much better about it, but have slacked off A LOT lately. If I plan in advance, I can make less grocery trips and save $$. I am not so organized that I know what we're having on what night, but I think that's okay. Sometimes I get home and am just not in the mood for what I had originally plan. So, here are some of our choices this week:

1.) "angel" pizza - what jeff calls my semi-homemade pizza (sausage and pineapple)

2.) grilled chicken in italian dressing and a vegetable side

3.) honey-teriyaki pineapple pork chops and a vegetable side

4.) pizza-mac casserole

5.) salsa chicken & rice

6.) some new dish - my goal is to find a good recipe I want to try this week, hopefully a good one : )

Possible vegetable sides: corn, green beans, potatoes (baked, mashed, or twice-baked)

Have a good week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wicked - The Book and the Musical

So even though I am not one of those kids who really, really likes musicals (you know, the ones who know all the words to every current popular musical), I do enjoy a good show. I have seen a few in New York that are just plain awesome and I enjoy movie musicals like Chicago and Phantom. So when Jeff's parents asked if we would like to go see Wicked in Nashville, I was really excited (Jeff - not so much). To prepare for the show, I decided to read the book the musical is based on.

This book was really interesting. The author, Gregory Maguire, reveals the true story of the Wicked Witch of the West and shows that as usual, things are not always what they seem. Maguire gives the "witch" a past and a name, Elphaba. The reader also gets the back story of Glinda the Good Witch, a one-time friend of Elphaba's. Some parts were a little vulgar for me and, I thought, unnecessary. However, they were not so bad that I was not able to look passed them. In fact, the book left me wanting to read the second book in the series, Son of a Witch, which, you guessed it, tells the story of Liir, the son of the "Wicked Witch." He also has a third installment which tells the story of the Cowardly Lion. But first, I may take a break from Oz and read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.

After finishing the book, I looked online to read a little more about the muscial and discovered that the two were very, very different. I did not want to be disappointed in the show, so I decided I had to go in with no expectations and promised myself that I would not spend the whole time comparing the show to the book. And I have to say, I was not at all disappointed. I enjoyed the musical just as much if not more than I enjoyed reading the book. The muscial was much more funny, happy, and upbeat - three things that the book is not. If the musical had been done like the book, it would probably come across as long, boring, and depressing. The writers of the musical did an awesome job. The actors were also amazing and the two leads had AMAZING voices. I would definitely recommend that anyone who had the chance to see the show definitely take it!

The whole night was awesome. We went to Nashville early and ate at an Italian place called Maggiano's. The food was served family style and tasted great! It was so rich, I could hardly eat more than a few bites of one thing! So thank you Mel and Paula for a great night out! And also, thanks to my husband, Jeff, who is not a musical fan and who missed the first night of college football season without too much complaining. Thank the Lord for DVR!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Dog's Life - The Autobiography of a Stray

Being the dog person that I am, I was instantly interested when I saw this book in a scholastic catalogue. And when I noticed that it was written by Ann M. Martin, I knew it was definitely on my wish-list. (Yes, I grew up in the era of The Babysitters Club series. I was the proud owner of #'s 1-100. Yes, seriously.)
I really enjoyed this book. Many parts made me cry and a few made me laugh. It made me want to go home and love on my dogs. It also made me want to adopt every stray dog on the planet : ) I would definitely recommend this book for all students intermediate and above. It will expose the student to death and grief in a serious way, but not in a way that is too heavy for their level of maturity. It is unique and well written so that adults could really enjoy it as well. has a great site with more resources related to this book, including a really great message from Martin about writing. Find it here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jodi Picoult Book Deal

Yes, you heard right. Jodi Picoult books are buy 2, get 1 free at Barnes and Noble. I am not sure how long this has been going on, or how long it will last, but they are sitting out on a table at the B&N here in BG. I am not sure if all of the titles are buy2,get1, but they did have several to choose from. I chose Salem Falls, Mercy, and Second Glance. Any ideas on which to read first??

(If you are a JP fan and want to make a suggestion, it may help if you knew that I have already read Nineteen Minutes, My Sister's Keeper, and Plain Truth and enjoyed them all)

Deep and Dark and Dangerous

I read this book because a lot of my fourth grade girls last year loved it. Some boys are even into some of her other books too. I thought this one was okay, but I would definitely not have liked it as a ten year old girl! I am not going to lie: it did freak me out a little bit. Yes, it was very predictable and you can tell that it was written for tweens and young teens, but it was still just a little bit creepy. But you have to remember that this is coming from someone who doesn't watch scary movies anymore because even the corny ones keep her up at night. So take this review with a grain of salt. But, if you do have a younger child who is interested in this author, please proceed with caution.

Even though it was spooky, I think I will read MDH's Wait Til Helen Comes next. I read this book in sixth grade and don't remember a thing about it except that I liked it. I don't even think it scared me then (but neither did the movies at that time - it's amazing what living alone will do to you!). Plus I have a boy in my class who is reading a copy from my class library right now. He is a bit of a difficult student and maybe, just maybe, we could make a connection through this author/genre??

Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire... and my ramblings

I just finished reading the above book Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by Rafe Esquith. I love reading books that I think will inspire me and give me ideas on how to be a better teacher, but the truth is, most books for educators are a huge snore fest. However, this book was different. At times I felt very inspired and it was a very easy read. His writing style was not boring in the least. He also had lots of good ideas that I could maybe use in my own classroom. I may post more on those later. And his kids really are amazing. You can view their official website here.

That being said, I am still undecided on whether I am a fan or not. Yes, at times I did feel inspired, but at times I also felt very discouraged. A lot of his ideas are really, really great, but putting them into practice is a whole different story. His world is completely different from mine. I would like to hear his take on RTI and the time constraints it puts on all other subjects. Sure, I would love to spend time teaching my children art and baseball and guitar, but when??And yes, he has a lot of minority students, but not the kind I have. I will stop there at the risk of getting myself in trouble. He has supportive parents who do not care if their kids stay at school for twelve hours a day because that is how much they value education. My kids value baseball practice. And I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. When I have children, I don't want them to spend twelve hours a day at school either and if they want to play baseball I will by all means let them!

Also, it is clear that teaching is this man's LIFE. Yes, I love teaching. I really love my students. And while I do want to be the best teacher I can possibly be, I do not want teaching to become my whole entire life. There is no way I would want to be at school from 6am to 7pm everyday. I feel that would be totally unfair to my husband and one day to my own children. My family has to come before my career, even if my career is teaching. And does that make me a bad teacher? I don't think so. What kind of teacher would I be if I was neglecting all the other areas of my life? And even if it does, I think I would settle for being just a 'good' teacher so that I could be a good wife and mom. It's not worth it to me to be a bad or even an average wife and mom just so I can be an amazing teacher.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Gonna be an Aunt!

This is a picture of my brother, Timothy, and his lovely wife Katie. Until Saturday, I thought they were both just okay. But then, I found out they are going to bring my very first niece or nephew into the world and I instantly loved them a whole lot more! (not really - I actually already loved them)

Anyway, I am so excited for them! They are due the beginning of April. I know they are so excited. We all are. It is so hard to imagine my little brother being a daddy, but I know he will be an awesome one. They are both very Godly people and I have no doubt they will do the best they can to raise their children according to the LORD's perfect will. And I cannot wait to love on the little one and spoil it like crazy!

CoNgRaTs TiM aNd KaTiE!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back to School Update

I know I've been back in school for almost two weeks now and have not posted an update, but hey, I'm back in school now! Who has the time??

Anyway... the school year is off to a great start! Life is as smooth as it possibly could be considering all of the changes. I feel so much better right now than I did this time last year. The difference is unbelievable. It's crazy how much having a year's worth of tips under your belt can help you! The first few days of school are so critical and can really set the tone for your whole year. I am so glad that I have focused so much on procedures. I tried to do this last year, but I feel that I have done a much better job this year. I have a feeling it is going to make a big difference! That, and the fact that my kids are so stinking sweet! Serioulsy. Yes, they're are a few sour ones in the bunch, but they are kind of that sour-sweet type, ya know? Kind of like sweet'n'sour sauce. I love that stuff.

Here are some of my "teacher" goals for this year:
1.) Love first. Teach second.
2.) Stay on top of filing.
3.) Respond to emails ASAP instead of putting them off.
4.) Grade and record papers ASAP so they don't pile up on me.
5.) Make better use of my planning time. (this is when I am going to try and make most of my copies, since the line can be bad in the mornings and afternoons)
6.) Umm, it seems like I had so many more than just these five... oh well!

I will let you know how these go. I'm doing pretty good so far! (And yes, I know it has only been two weeks!) More updates to come on how our new students and our refugee students are doing. For now, I have papers to grade and plans to make. Can't slack on Goal #4!

Monday, August 3, 2009

First Day Jitters

I thought this year my stomach wouldn't flip as much the night before the first day of school, but I was wrong. I am just as nervous as last year, my first year.

Because of redistricting, this year my school has around 115 more students than last year. The new students will add to our school's culture in ways that are scary and exciting. Thirteen of these students are refugees from Burma (more info later). My school is predominantly white, middle class, country kids. It is definitely going to be interesting, that is for sure. I know we will continue to be a great school where children are safe, happy, and thriving. All the change just makes me anxious.

Please pray for all of the students who are starting school tomorrow. Whether they are at their same old familiar school or a completely new one. Whether they speak English or Spanish or Burmese. Please pray for their teachers. Pray that they will love first and teach second. Pray for all of the administrators, secretaries, and counselors as they work to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be.

Just Pray.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Books, Books, and More Books

Just for fun...

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - READ
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - READ 1
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - READ
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling - READ - LOVE THEM!!
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - READ
6 The Bible - READ EVERYDAY (but have never read the entire thing : / )
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - READ (and want to reread)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell -
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - (no desire)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens -
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott - READ
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy -
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller -
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - SOME, BUT NOT ALL
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier - READ (and currently rereading)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien - READ
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk -
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - READ (not really a fan)
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger - (want to read)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot -
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell -
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald -READ (and enjoyed a lot!)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens -
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy -
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - (it's on my list)
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky -
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - READ
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll - READ
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Graham -
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens -
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - READ
34 Emma-Jane Austen - READ
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen -
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis - READ (and isn't this part of #33?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini -
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres -
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden -
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne - READ
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell - READ
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - READ
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving -
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - READ
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood -
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding - READ
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan -
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel -
52 Dune - Frank Herbert -
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons -
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - READ
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth -
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon -
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens -
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley -
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon - READ (good insights into the world of autism)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez -
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck - READ
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov -
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt -
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold -
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas - READ (and want to reread)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac - READ
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy -
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding -
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie -
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville -
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens -
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker - (really want to read)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - READ
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson -
75 Ulysses - James Joyce -
76 The Inferno – Dante -
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome -
78 Germinal - Emile Zola -
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace -
80 Possession - AS Byatt -
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens - READ
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell -
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker - READ
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro -
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert -
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry -
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White - READ
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom - READ
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - READ SOME, BUT NOT ALL
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton -
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad -
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - (i think i read this in french??)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks -
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams -
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole -
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute -
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas -
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare - READ
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - READ
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo -

I don't really think this is the best list in the world, but like I said, just for fun!

So what about you? Are you a reader? How many have you read? What do you think of this list? What books would you add?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am leaving my husband for the weekend. He will be very very lonely and sad. He will also waste away with nothing to eat in the house other than rice crispy treats and fruit snacks. Poor Jeff.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Luxe Series

If you know anything about me, you know that I love to read. I'll read just about anything, but one of my favorite genres is young adult/teen fiction. I know, I know. It's like a guilty pleasure. Anyway, my most recent journey into this genre has been The Luxe Series. The series is set in New York City in 1899. It follows several teen girls of various social status and explores how complicated and intertwined their lives are. From lavish balls and Florida vacations to secret midnight meetings and backstabbing best friends, things are never quite as they appear to be in this series. Each chapter begins with a newspaper clipping, a note from one character to another, or an exerpt from a book on ettiquette of the time. I have read all three books and cannot wait for the fourth and final book to be published in October (the 27th - my birthday!). If anyone knows of another good young adult series that can satisfy my addiction while I anxiously await for October, please let me know!!

PS - I would definitely not recommend this series for any of my fourth graders. Not for several years even. The books are very tateful, but they do get a little racy as the series progresses.