I resolve to...Carpe Diem

My 60th post! I will admit that I am a bit crazy and have avoided posting over the past couple of days in order to not end with an odd number of posts. I already admitted to being crazy, so don't judge.
I absolutely HEART making goals, resolutions and everything related. You probably noticed by my new addiction to the 5 for 5's.
So I knew my final post of 2012 was simply going to be focused on making goals for the new year.
2012 was an amazing year, I feel completely blessed to have had one year to just maintain a status quo. I didn't move, change jobs or make any life altering decisions. But now that life has settled a bit I am looking to shake things up a bit, hence my word: carpe diem!
Rather than make 3 plus different posts with resolutions, cause that would just be silly. I plan to try and link up to a few linky's all at the same time. This might make my goals seem repetitive, but just said in different ways. Cause an opportunity for me to babble is never passed up.
First I am linking up with Jessica at Fantastically Average's Special NYE Edition 5 for 5.

1. Capture more moments!
I plan to take part in the 365 day photo challenge this year. I was so disappointed that during the holidays I literally took no pictures, so hopefully this will allow me to feel more natural about snapping a few shots each day.
2.  Improve health and fitness!
I want to attend the gym at least 12 times a month and really focus on lighter easier meals to keep me going through the week.
3. Fix/better my finances!
I am horrible at dealing with my money, its CRAZY, how bad I am. So my year resolution is to be $5000.00 less in debt and have increased my savings by $1000.00. I have been reading a lot of different techniques and I really think I found one which can work for me.
4.  Spend more time with family and friends!
I want to make it a goal to talk to at least my immediate family once a month. See a family or friend once a month. And try and talk to at least two different friends a month. So many of my friends no longer live in state, and I think if spent half as much time talking to them as I do blogging I would become better at keeping my connections.
5.  Make a 2-3 plan for the future!
This one might sound vague, but I know that I have talked about graduate school, leaving the state, etc many different times, but I have never bothered to even research one option. In 2.5 years I turn 30, scary! But I want to have made a plan and started on it before time just slips away. I also know that that plan includes making future plans with Mr. B, another scary topic. Perhaps I used the word plan too much.
Next, I am linking up with Step Into Second Grade with Mrs. Lemons.
blessings giveaway
Technology Resolution:
Personal:  This ties in with my 365 day challenge: take more pictures and post them.
Professional:  Also take more pictures, but give up some control and allow my students to help edit the class website so the pictures actually get posted!
Organization Resolution:
Personal: Get my finances more organized so it easier to manage.
Professional:  Make a weekly plan of my conference time so I don't end up staying Friday until 6 just finish lessons or working all day Sunday. It makes me grumpy!
Professional Development:
Look into graduate school options and financing options.
Spend more time talking and meeting up with friends and family.
And break up my routine so me and Mr. B get more adventures and less monotony.
Find free activities to keep me from being the cleaning/running errands freak every Saturday, like painting, photography or hiking, etc.
Try and include some how to's on my blog, I try neat things and then forget to share or just plan forget that I liked something.
Attend the gym regularly, at least 12 times a month. Also I want to try out more weight lifting routines and less cardio activities.
Make meal plans that make sense and are easy to actually follow through come 6:00 Wednesday night.
I am also going to link up with Teaching Madness but I am going to save you the trouble of having to read all of my goals again and just use my previous goals, your welcome!
Teaching Maddeness
I found this really cute printable on pinterest that I printed out and really thought out all of my answers before I made resolutions. I felt like this made my resolutions more realistic because it fits what I want/need/share/succeed for 2013 in general. I plan on posting it above my closet mirror so I am reminded daily of what I am working towards.
Plus with all my link ups I have even more accountability to follow through with my resolutions and share my journey via words and hopefully pictures.
I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve, we are still scrambling to make plans, but hopefully something comes together and we will be somewhere amusing and sharing the time with close friends!
- The Babbling Box

Feeling Crafty

It's day 2 of my winter break and I am in full craft mode. Like four trips to Hobby Lobby this week crafting mode. I might regret my feet first jump into crafting and not taking a bit of time for relaxation, but as the saying goes "I can sleep when I am dead."
Mr. B's birthday was Thursday, it was his 29th birthday so I provided him 29 presents. Because that is something sane people do.
On the crafty side of his presents, I made him a homemade cake which called for fireball in it. And we HEART fireball in our house. So it was sort of a home run.  Mr. B didn't actually have time to try it, so hopefully it freezes well for when he returns from St. Louis. I made sure and do some quality control and it was pretty yummy, though not that attractive. A baker I am not! Full recipe originally came from Cupcake Wars, I just subbed in fireball.
I also crafted him an additional DVD shelf. Three years ago I gave him a six compartment shelf which I painted black and decoupaged the inside with our favorite comic strip. He had definitely outgrown the shelf. So I tracked down one that was as similar as the original, purchased it and painted it black but I wanted it to be unique. So instead of comic strips I ended up decoupaging the inside with newspaper headlines from his favorite sports teams and pictures of us at those sporting events.
So cute!!!
The complete look, we REALLY like St. Louis sports!
I was completely unsure if I would be able to make and paint ornaments before I left for Houston tomorrow but I worked feverishly and have quiet the assortment of painted ornaments. I even have some plain ornaments to paint with my sister tomorrow night. I used clay from Hobby Lobby and rolled it out and cut out circles and different shapes, some I painted before I baked and others after I baked them to set them. If I would have known how easy it was to make ornaments I would have done this ages ago. Full instructions originally came from A Beautiful Mess blog.
This is just a few of my many ornaments!
I painted some purchased Christmas figurines from Hobby Lobby. I really dig how they all three turned out, and considering I purchased them over a year ago its crazy that I was actually able to paint them this year in time for Christmas.
Even if I wasn't able to purchase gifts for anyone this year, I am very pleased that I was able to give them a little something crafty! And for anyone I missed Patrick and I made Christmas cards with our photo's on them, which I know can seem cheesy but we did it in our own unique way.
Who needs wrapping paper when you have butcher paper and stamps!

Tomorrow I will make the 3 hour trek to my Dad's house and I am on mission to find the White Christmas DVD. It is one of our favorites, right past National Lampoon's Christmas, but no place in the greater Austin area seems to have it in stock. So I will brave the crazy shopping traffic to find the DVD when I get to Houston.
I will be without Internet and cable for the next couple of days, so I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-The Babbling Box!

Flexible, Maybe?

Today I am linking up with Jessica and Jenn's Five for Five linky.


I really have been enjoying doing these link ups as a way to keep myself focused during the week. I had some frustrations last week that pretty much messed up my entire 5 days of goals and by the end of Wednesday I was so fed up with everything. I even had a nice little rant half written in my head ready for my blog. But with the events of Friday I felt my frustrations weren't nearly as important as I originally had thought they were.
One of the most important things I think I have learned as a teacher is learning to be flexible. Nothing seems to go exactly as planned when you teach, but dealing with those curve balls keeps us on our toes and makes my job anything but boring. I have had the boring job where each day was exactly the same and I will take teaching any day over monotony.
Regardless of that statement I was less than pleased to learn Wednesday that we would be running a block schedule this entire last week of school. And then to learn that my gradebook had to be locked by tomorrow at noon, added even more stress. The disappointing thing really was the fact that my afternoon classes on Tuesday will basically be showing me their final project for the class with no real grade possible. I have absolutely no clue what I will be doing for 90 minutes with each class for the next three days to keep them entertained, when I can't take any grades and won't be seeing these students when we return from winter break.
But hey that's what its about, right, being flexible?!?
On that note my goals from last week are looking pretty red but to be fair I had to pretty much drop everything and enter grades.
Last Week's Goals
1. Make a schedule for my to do list items.
Definitely have been using the reminders tab on my phone like crazy, its been incredible helpful in making sure I take care of small tasks after school.
2. Print all first week of school items for next semester.
I have one class done. I need to rush the other two out so I don't have to go up to the school Friday.
3. Paint all of the ornaments I made.
I thought it would be wonderful to use ink and stamps for this, yea NOT! Ink just smeared everywhere ruining the nice white ornaments.
4. Stay Positive/Not Stress
Not at all! I actually yelled at a class last week, and I never yell. The fire alarm went off and they actually got out of their chairs and ran around screaming. A kid couldn't keep his hands out of his pants, uncomfortable. They were throwing legos and bullying each other. Grrr...
5. Work out at least 3 days.
Once again only two days.
This Week's Goals
1. Work out at least 3 days.
Putting this at the beginning to put more pressure on myself.
2. Finish Mr. B's Presents.
His birthday is Thursday and I NEED to finish some last minute details. Kind of stressed about finishing the crafty present.
3. Prepare first week of school materials.
This is a must! I also need to decide what I have to do and what can wait until we get back from break.
4. Pack/Prepare for Houston
I am leaving for Houston this weekend and I ALWAYS wait till the last minute to pack and prepare everything I need to take and I really want this year to be a relaxing week there with no stress.
5.  Enjoy this week!
As I wrap up this semester I am saying goodbye to some of my students who I won't have again, and I want to end class on a positive note.  I have received multiple emails from students telling me how much they enjoyed my class or want to have me again and I want to keep those thoughts with me as I deal with the crazy boys with hands down their pants, still uncomfortable.

- The Babbling Box!

Silence For Sandy Hook Elementary

Five for Five

It's Monday again, only one more of this semester thank goodness!  I feel like my to do list keeps growing, growing and growing instead of shrinking, which has left me feeling frustrated.
It is my own fault, I avoided doing any work this weekend both for school or personal and I am definitely paying for it today.
I had lofty goals of getting to school early and getting all my grading caught up by the end of the day. And that did not happen. Arrived to school late, had an actual PLC that was loooong so no time to do anything but fire up the projector. 2nd period made me question why I am even a teacher, got called a "ho" multiple times and I snapped at security. Took a moment to step outside and "cool off" before 3rd period came in. My shining class, which was half absent on a field trip.
Just when I think I am getting my groove back, I get the notice that my only planning period will be subbing for a teacher on said field trip. This was my frustration beyond frustrations last year, elective teachers are pulled during off periods to sub if a teacher doesn't find a sub. Let me tell you, I just love to loose my planning period because someone else didn't follow procedures. And it happened at least once a week starting this time last year and lasted ALL year. So I guess its starting up again. Joy.
After that I pretty much gave up on the day, thank goodness my last three classes were willing to work on their projects with little guidance.

End rant. 

If you are still reading, I am actually doing some linking up to get my week back on track. I am linking up with Jessica and Jenn's Five for Five linky again this week.

Last Weeks Goals
red means I did not accomplish the goal and green means accomplished

1. Finish all three classes materials for next week: lessons, ppts, worksheets, agendas, etc.
Done! And even done with two preps through the end of the semester.
2. Load at least one item on the TPT website.
Done! I loaded up my financial "Game of Life Project" that I will try to find some time to explain in an upcoming post.
3. Purchase all of Mr. B's birthday presents.
Almost done! All the big things are done and I have 25 planned out, I just need to acquire some small things this week for the final five.
4. Decide on at least "homemade" Christmas present for family and buy the supplies. Oh and start!
Started! I purchased clay and began making and painting homemade ornaments on Saturday. I still have a lot to do but happy to have been able to get them molded and baked.
5. Work out at least 3 days.
I made it two out of three days, which isn't bad but I really need to get a better routine.
Now for this weeks goals:
1.  Make a schedule for my to do list items.
I think looking at a long list of to do's is overwhelming during the week, so I tend to save all of my errands until the weekend but with holiday shoppers my patience dwindles so I hope by taking care of some small errands: dry cleaning, gag gift purchases, liquor store, etc. I will feel less CRAZY!
2.  Print all first week of school items for next semester.
Since I teach a semester elective I need to find time to print 3 different syllabus' and all my first week items before we leave for break. Unfortunately we don't get a planning and prep day when we return so unless I want to spend my winter break up at the school I need to get a jump start.
3.  Paint all of the ornaments I made.
I am a big starter of projects and not a big finisher, so I will not allow myself to make anything new until I get my first dozen ornaments painted and sealed.
4.  Stay Positive/Not Stress
This last week of school is rough for our kiddo's they get a little extra crazy, as I am sure they all do. But consequences pretty much fly out the window with only 8 class days left, especially when you won't see them again next year, so my goal is to just stay positive despite their crazy antics. And my PDA's is Wednesday so not stressing over this is a BIG goal.
5. Work out at least 3 days.
Still seeking motivation...
I probably won't be back until after Wednesday, I get so nervous when I am being observed, like voice cracking sweaty palms shaking hands nervous, so I feel like any post I do before the observation will just be more ranting or nervous stressing. So I will be back in a few days, wish me luck!
- The Babbling Box

Currently December

It's that time again!
I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade Currently Linky for this month's edition.
- The Babbling Box!

Seeking Motivation

It's Monday, again, and boy am I beat. I never think the first week back from holiday is rough, for me its the second week when I really feel exhaustion setting back in and not leaving the school until past 6:30 tonight really made it all sink in. Or maybe its looking at my calendar this week.

Tonight CAC meeting kept me there until 6:30.
Tuesday new teacher meeting until 5:30(which I might not attend, I am a rebel).
Math/Science Night on Wednesday until at least 7:30.
PBS meeting Thursday until 5:00.

Looking at that schedule reminds me that I definitely need to link up with Jessica and Jenn's Five for Five linky if I want to get anything accomplished past the sleep, work, shower and eat routine. Or that I should of bought more wine for the week.

Here is a look at last weeks goals, red means I did not accomplish the goal and green means accomplished.  I am looking pretty green...

1. Leave work before 5:30 every night this week! Rocked this one out of the park! I love being able to be home before six and actually get some relaxation time in. Some teachers might think that is entirely too late but I run an afterschool program two days a week that keeps me there until 5:20 and I have the worst habit of trying to get one more thing done before I leave, which turns into it being dark before I actually leave. Looking at this weeks schedule I am definitely thankful I took advantage while I could.
2. Go to the gym at least 3 times.  Epic failure! I went one day last week. Nearly all of November I made it 2 days and I couldn't even accomplish that last week, I have no excuse.
3. Make a hair appointment.  Done and done! I can not wait until December 15th.
4. Make a real phone date with Erica! We talked Thursday night for 30 or so minutes and with my schedule this week I doubt we will talk this week, most likely we won't be able to do a skype date until Christmas break.
5. Schedule my PDA's. Also accomplished! Its next Wednesday and I am already super nervous/thinking of bribing 3rd period with oddles of PAT if they perform above par.
Now for this week's goals, they will probably look a little lighter due to my schedule but hopefully they will keep me moving forward this week without a ton of to do's for the weekend.
1.  Finish all three classes materials for next week: lessons, ppts, worksheets, agendas, etc.
I pretty much worked for hours yesterday entering grades and do NOT want to bring home work again this weekend.
2.  Load at least one item on the TPT website.
I have tons of lessons that I have spent hours creating that I would like to share but I never seem to set aside time to put it all together. I blame not having Microsoft on my home computer, but really its just the last thing I want to mess with some days.
3.  Purchase all of Mr. B's birthday presents.
Mr. B will turn the BIG 2-9 on the 20th, and then he leaves for St. Louis for a week so I need to have everything ready to go before he leaves town. Last year was an epic failure on my part, nearly everything I got him had to be returned, so this year I feel like I need to make up. I have a list of 29 presents, which he thinks is crazy, but I tend to be a bit gift crazy.
4.  Decide on at least "homemade" Christmas present for family and buy the supplies. Oh and start!
I would like to make something for my immediate family for Christmas and last years desire to do this is still sitting in our hall closet, so this year I want to get started early. Pinterest is adding fuel to this fire, I just need to make a decision and stick with it.
5.  Work out at least 3 days.
Yes this is back on the list. I just need to find some motivation and get my butt in gear and actually exit the freeway for the gym rather than talking myself out of it everyday.

Pinned Image

I hope everyone has a great week and good luck with your goals!

- The Babbling Box!

Surburbia Bliss

This week has been uber productive, perhaps its my dedication to my 5 for 5, or its just the natural slowing down that seems to happen in December with teaching semester electives. With basically all of my lesson plans written through the end of the year I am certainly feeling a little lighter.
Around the house we have been crossing a few bigger goals off our house list, some of which are a constant reminder of our transition from apartment dwellers to suburbia residents. While Mr. B might disagree that today was anything close to blissful, it certainly is pleasant to be able to make improvements to our little abode.
Our brand new BBQ Pit! Looking forward to making some yummy creations.
Chicken and veggie fajitas, the first of many BBQ meals...

Finally a ceiling fan in our master bedroom. It hasn't fallen down yet, though the highest speed is SCARY...
As per normal pinterest has been both inspiring me and causing me to be a procrastinator. I have so many ideas for homemade Christmas presents that I hope to try out and share. I also have a ton of recipes planned for the next two weeks that I will share if they turn out worthwhile. 
One pin that I did find and tried is a shower cleaner. If you have a glass standing shower you can relate to my frustrations with streaks. I had never been able to find a cleaner that really worked so I pretty much just avoided thinking about the shower during my weekly bathroom cleanings. Until now! This is pretty much the best pin idea ever and so CHEAP!  All you need is a kitchen sponge, vinegar and dish soap. Mix them in the kitchen sponge and wipe down the walls every couple of days and the shower will stay streak free. I keep my sponge hanging in the shower with some zip ties and just wipe down while I am showering. Its almost like magic how clean the shower will be!

As I sip on my glass of wine and wish for another weekend day to do the unmeasurable amount of grading I still need to do before tomorrow afternoon for progress reports, I will end the post with one last pinterest pin I found:

if you are a frequent pinterester as I am, I am sure you have seen this pinned before, but the message is very meaningful this time of year and something I certainly wish I could better teach my students.

-The Babbling Box!


I HEART to do lists. And they must be on paper, a pet peeve of mine is not being able to cross off completed tasks. I would share my weekend to do list and daily school to do lists but I don't for fear you all think I am a crazy person. Though it is probably true.
I follow blogs besides teacher blogs, one of which is A Beautiful Mess, they are both amazingly crafty and have some really neat tutorials. And over the holiday weekend I was telling Mr. B that I would like to set like four small goals to accomplish before the end of the year, similiar to what I have seen them post on their blog. And the holiday weekend came and went and my goals have not been set, I blame pinterest.
I came across Five for Five Linky on the Fantastically Average blog and thought that would be the perfect way to set a few goals and actually chronicle my progress, and of course cross off accomplished items!
So here goes...
1.  Leave work before 5:30 every night this week! Day one was a success, just have to keep it up.
2.  Go to the gym at least 3 times.
3.  Make a hair appointment. I have a love hate relationship with this, which means I only cut my hair at a salon twice a year. I also heart avoidance.
4.  Make a real phone date with Erica!
5.  Schedule my PDA's. I have a new PDA's administrator, our emails have been crossing, add my natural instinct to avoid stressful issues and I am nearly the only teacher who hasn't had one in the school. Epic failure on my part.
I wrestled with my last goal, I have loftier goals like "do something fun with Mr. B" or "make plans to see friends" but I know myself and I doubt that will happen in 5 days so I figured start basic and work my way up.
The Babbling Box!

Liebster Award

I feel like the last 5 days have flown by, could certainly use another five days. As I sit here and weigh the pros and cons of putting off school work and enjoying the last bit of the holiday weekend I decided to blog, such a great way to procrastinate.
I was SUPER honored to be nominated for a Liebster Award by Marie at Beach Lovin' Teach, I started this blog as a place to chronicle all of my thoughts/photos and ideas and never would have imagined people would actually read it or even enjoy it.

Here are the rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

11 Random Things About Me!
- I have never lived anywhere besides the state of Texas.
- But I have lived in 10 different places since moving to Austin in 2003.
- I have a younger brother who is 21 years younger than me.
- My sister was secretly married for close to 2 years before anyone found out, not really about me but I was the first to know and the one who spread that gossip like wildfire and its just random.
- I dislike cats and dogs. I am just not an animal person, my fish killed it self.
- I like really bad television shows that my students watch, like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
- But also DVR really good shows with Mr. B and get entirely too invested in them, like Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Shameless...
- I dance around all the time, humming weird beats in my head or out loud.
- I hate driving, and I am pretty terrible at it if I am honest.
- I have crazy weird food issues, I hate bananas but love banana nut bread. Hate anything with lumps or strings...I am just ODD.
- I have a serious addiction to the justified setting when typing ANYTHING.
Questions asked by Marie...
1. How long have you been blogging?
I started officially blogging in June. 2. What is your favorite type of music?
I like every type of music, I could never pick just one. I am perfectly at home at a 3 6 Mafia concert, Luke Bryan concert or Drop Kick Murphy's concert.
3. Where would you go on your dream vacation?
Travel through Ireland, Greece and Spain. I am a bit of a history nerd when I travel and love to see old historical sites. And throw in some boozing we would have the perfect vacation.
4. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spending time with Mr. B and friends. Crafting, shopping, blogging, cooking and pinteresting.
5. Do you have any siblings?
One brother, one sister and a half brother. One brother in law. I did have three step siblings, but I think I don't anymore. My family is a bit odd.
6. What's your favorite type of dessert?
Cheesecake. Turtle or pumpkin.
7. What would you do if you won a million dollars?
Pay off my debt. Give some to my family and take an amazing vacation with Mr. B, see number 3.
8. What is your favorite color?
Black or Gray.
9. Coffee or tea?
10. What is the last book you read?
Fifty Shades Trilogy.
11. What is your most embarrassing moment teaching?
Panicking during my first fist fight. Didn't know what to do and pretty much just froze until another teacher intervened.
Questions for my nominees...
1. How long have you been blogging?
2. Why did you start blogging?
3. If you weren't teaching what would you be doing?
4. How long have you been teaching?
5. Pepsi or Coke?
6. What is your favorite recipe or thing to cook?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What are your favorite TV Shows?
9. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
10. If you could have one superpower what would it be?
11. What is your most embarrassing moment teaching?
Blogs I am nominating...
Thank you again to Marie for nominating me, and if you have already been nominated no reason to do this twice just leave a comment on my post so I can check out your answers!
The Babbling Box!


Yesterday during our harvest luncheon some of the teachers started going around saying what they were thankful for, and then of course everyone had to participate. I dislike being put on the spot and am absolutely terribly awkward speaking in front of groups of my co-workers, so I mumbled something quickly and passed the attention along to the next person. I do realize I teach and am "on the spot" all day and speak in front of groups all day but I do better with middle schoolers, don't ask me why.
So I started thinking I have TONS to be thankful for this year, here is my top ten.
Mr. B, he is my favorite person!
Words are really meaningless when describing how I feel about him. He is such an amazing sport through all of my antics, even remembered to get me flowers on one of our anniversaries last week. We have three, which he thinks is a bit silly, but regardless he plays along. Over 5 years with him and I still get excited by his texts and when he arrives home. Too cheesy I know!
AWOLNATION! We love good concerts.
I HEART this man!
The card said "happy 71st anniversary" but really its only are 15th, thats not odd at all..
Our home.
It might be too large for us, require too much time to clean and be way out of my teacher salary but we HEART it and some how we make it work.
My job.
Teaching certainly has its ups and downs but at the end of a day or week I am very thankful to have a classroom to go to each day, where hopefully I am making an impact.
My students.
Without them I would be incredible lonely in my classroom, or a bit more sane. Regardless of how some of them act towards me or in the room at the end of the day they are mine and make my job worth going to. They challenge me, annoy me and sometimes even thank me and on days when you get an "oh i get it" or "thank you" or "have a great holiday" I feel like its all worth it.
Having AC in my classroom. Enough Said.
This year my sister and I managed to work out being able to see both of our parents in one day. As I get older being able to spend time with my family becomes more and more important to me, so despite the 6:45 departure time in the morning and the 4+ hours of driving around, I am blessed to be able to spend time with both of my parents. And get to spend a little time with my grandparents, Aunt/Uncle, cousins and my brothers and sister. And whoever else might show up, my grandparents have an open door policy and generally tons of booze!
We probably need some better pictures together...
 Holiday time off!
I know some districts got the whole week off but I am not complaining about getting a five day weekend at all! At the law firm I had to plead A LOT to even get the day after Thanksgiving off for family time, so being at a job where time around the holidays is time off I feel very grateful.

Being financially stable.
I know that that statement seems odd coming from me, a teacher. But when so many of my students won't be having Thanksgiving, don't have winter clothes and can't just go shopping for things they want when they want, I feel blessed to not have to make those hard decisions. Yes I need to budget and watch my money carefully but I always have an option. Or make buying a new pair of shoes a completely justified expense.
To all teacher friends out there, the brand Reefs, are amazingly comfortable...like walking on foam!
Erica aka friendship.
I might do a pretty shitty job at keeping up with my long distance friends sometimes but over the past two months both myself and her have been willing to drop everything for a quick weeknight chat to regain some form of sanity, I use the word loosely, to our lives. I am saddened that she won't be coming to stay with us over the Christmas holidays this year but I know that means I just have to work harder to schedule more skype/wine dates with her. (Or our first one, just the thought of that over a normal cell phone convo sounds amazing!)

 Gym Memberships and pinterest/blog motivations!
It might feel like a slow start, two days a week in the gym, but just having the opportunity to try and push the habit back in my life is very nice/stress relieving. I also HEART all of the amazing teaching ideas, cooking recipes and decorating inspirations that exist out there, I feel like our every day life can sometimes be dictated by technology but with so many positive things being shared it can be completely worthwhile.
All and all this post was completely cheesy and way mushier that I ever tend to be, but having the luxury to sit at home today browsing the Internet and snacking on sausage balls reminded me that I should be thankful for the opportunity to be such a large bum!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Babbling Box!

Financial Responsibility... Say What?

Back again and made it to the gym again, I feel like it might be too early to call it but this week is looking like an success.
First and foremost I must share the most wonderful dinner recipe. This evening I decided to venture from the menu plan and make something I saw on pinterest this morning. Yes I check pinterest at 6 am everyday. Don't judge me!

Momofuku Miso Butter Poached Eggs and Green Beans
First I take no credit in this photo, its straight from the pinterest link, mine sort of looked like a sloppy mess. But doesn't it look amazing! So I threw the recipe together in like 20 minutes tops and it was finger licking wonderful!  Holy moly, where has miso butter been all of my life. Its salty and yummy, and even better when poured over toast with a drizzle of honey. My willpower of just one piece is diminishing as I write this. Definitely a new recipe to throw in the mix. 
Here is the recipe if you are interested: Poached Egg and Green Beans with Miso Butter.
A couple of small notes, I didn't have Sherry Vinegar so I substituted rice wine vinegar/sherry wine combo. And if you dislike salty I would suggest a 2:1 ratio of the butter to miso, it was pretty salty. But I HEART salty flavors.
Back to the post at hand. A good chunk of my TEKS are directed at financial responsibility/literacy. When I first read the TEKS last year my response was pretty much, SAY WHAT?!? I am pretty sure I didn't know what a credit score was until I was in my early 20's and you want me to teach it to 11 year olds and keep them interested. Phew, you crazy.
And truly it was the hardest section for me to teach my students last year. 
I have three really good projects that incorporate the TEKS, which I will share in my next couple of posts. But it was the day to day teaching of the topics that was difficult.  But then after way too much time searching the google lesson planning
I stumbled across a few sites that are really amazing tools to assist in teaching financial literacy. 
So I thought I would share!
1.  http://themint.org/  this website can be geared at any grade level and can work in a few different subjects as it incorporates relevant tools for calculating, managing and understanding money and fiance.  Today we practiced writing checks and balancing checkbooks, there is also a neat exercise that will show students how much they would pay over time if they purchased something on a credit card. What I like about this website is it is written in kid friendly language with activities that are quick and are great for warm ups.
2.  http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/  this website is AMAZING and also geared at all grade levels. It has financial football and soccer games which my students really get into. The games will ask questions about financial topics and they have to answer to get a new play in the game. There are a bunch of over fun games on the site, as well as lesson plans, worksheets and powerpoints. One thing I saw this year was the Spiderman comic which deals with financial responsibility. Can't wait to read this with my class.
3.  http://www.moneyskill.org/  this website is my last new find for the year. It is geared towards high school and middle school and its crazy easy to use. All you have to do is set up your students, which you can do by mass import, and they can log in and take a pre test, complete assigned modules for grades and final a post test to see what they learned. There is sound combined with written words, great for my ELPS and questions along the way to keep them engaged and applying what they are learning. I feel like it is really able to offer my students real world examples in a much more meaningful way than me just talking.
My students this year seem to be more engaged and better able to discuss the terms than my students last year. A sign my resources are paying off! Proof, students were able to tell me the difference between a debit and credit card today with very little prompting from me.
And that is it! I swear I don't mean to write so much! I have some fun projects to share that incorporate financial literacy, my "angel" class actually jumped up and down they were so excited about the project. But another post, another day.
The Babbling Box!

Data Management Part 2...Behold the Rubric

I am back. Two days back to back, I am pretty sure there must be some sort of apocalypse. Actually it was just a day of professional development, so I feel less exhausted beat down, worn out which leaves time to blog and gym.
I am not sure about other teachers out there but I despise grading! I can plan lessons all day, make worksheets, create powerpoints, design projects and even look at data, but give me grades and I cringe.
This could be because grades in an elective class tend to be a bit of a ongoing joke. At the middle school level students do not have to pass an elective to go to the next grade. And while this was something I just learned last year, this seems to be something that every middle schooler knows. Especially the disruptive students. It's like someone pulled the kid aside and told him, "hey don't worry about anything but your core those electives do not matter!" So the kid passes this little nugget of info onto his friends, throws in my face a few times and then sits back puts his feet up and watches the dishevel.  Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic but that is certainly how it seems.
I learned my lesson though, the hard way, last year. Just because a student doesn't have to pass your class doesn't mean that you can fail them. I have about a 10% window of students that can fail and past that I have to make the rest of the students pass or I am stuck doing a intervention report on each student. And those suck! Really, why should I work harder than the students to get said students to pass!
So last year I spent soooo much time trying to plan project rubrics that would ensure student success. I should add that I am a project based class and we don't do testing. I would try and say like 10 points for your name, 5 points for turning it in correctly, 25 points for 5 pictures, etc. with a hope that a student could somehow make it to a passing grade with minimal effort. 
But this year I said no more!

A way to ensure that each student will pass my class without me making up grades.
How will I grade your  ___Project?

Game of Life Template
X 50
Budget has less than 75% of the parts complete
Budget has most (75-84%) of the parts complete
Budget has almost all (85-89%) of the parts complete
Budget has (90-100%) of the parts complete
Budget Calculations
X 15
- Budget has less than 75% of the calculations correct.
Budget has most (75-84%) of the calculations correct
Budget has almost all (85-89%) of the calculations correct
Budget has (90-100%) of the calculations correct
X 10
- many words misspelled
- many grammar errors
- formatting makes budget difficult to follow or read
- several spelling errors
- several grammar errors
- formatting makes it difficult to follow or read
- few spelling errors
- few grammar errors
- some formatting to help make the budget easier to read
- all words spelled correctly
- no grammar errors
- formatting makes the budget more informative and easier to read
X 25
- no multimedia or links
- one piece of multimedia
- several pieces of multimedia
- several pieces of multimedia
- multimedia adds to the understanding of the budget

 I started using this rubric this semester and it has been an amazing tool. I like that it doesn't box any of my creative students in by limits on pictures or information but ensures that the lowest grade will be a 70. Unless they turn nothing in, which does happen. Shakes head and large groan.
For each elective class and project I make a few small edits to the rubric and stick with the same grading type scale and language. And within minutes I have a project grading scale without a ton of effort on my part. This also makes grading a breeze, either they did or didn't meet the expectation of each category and I circle where they stand and then just average all four categories together.
I also HEART the language of the rubric: novice, practitioner, apprentice and expert tie in so perfectly with career based classes. I will also periodically use this language to ask students to rate themselves.  I borrowed this from a pinterest find and have made a large poster for my room for consistency.
Great way to get the kids to assess themselves and their learning.
Don't get me wrong I HEART teaching CTE classes, it was pretty much the vision for my teaching career, but the whole grading thing was really making me despise the design of electives in middle school. But with the rubric I ensure that I can get nearly all of my students a passing grade each six weeks.
Also on the super positive side, my students understand the effort they need for a good grade according to their standards early on, and are always amazed at themselves when they get that grade or higher in my class. With so much focus on testing data and core classes I like that my class gives students a chance to shine and really do well. Everyone needs that moment of happiness!

The Babbling Box!