My Person!

I have my keys! Today I was able to get my keys back to my classroom and dug right in though my classroom looks worse than when I started so pictures are on hold. Considering I had to physically kick myself out of my classroom, yes I am that invested/excited for school to start, I decided to take a break from classroom talk and do something better: a photo montage!

 On Saturday at this time I will be landing in Orlando for an end of summer vacation with my bestie/person, Erica. I could go on and on, hence the babbling title, about how much I like HEART LOVE her but I thought a photo montage would be better. For anyone who watches Grey's Anatomy they will understand that this quote says it all:
This time last year we went away for the weekend to Fredricksburg and had a wine filled a very responsible time getting to know the locals and scenery. It's shaping up to seem like these end of summer trips might become a tradition that I would whole heartedly start budgeting for, or give it a very good try perhaps after back to school shopping.

 I can not wait until I get there and we already have Sunday planned: playing on the beach! Be Jealous! Followed by two more full days of playing!

 I have not seen Erica since December so we will have tons to catch up on, I already feel bad slightly bad for her boyfriend who I imagine will get sick of our antics.

 That leaves me the next four days to get my classroom in order and pack my ONE suitcase, I should probably get up extra early tomorrow. We shall see...

The Babbling Box!

Pinning Is Just A Version of Hoarding

My sister and I were having a conversation venting yesterday about how frustrating pinterest can be when the projects fail. Yes we are blaming the pinterest: not ourselves or even the person who actually originally posted the idea, but pinterest.

Before I go further, let me reiterate that I like love HEART pinterest and so does my sister, we spend entirely too much a normal amount of time of their each day. Although I do have to admit that pinterest is sort of like hoarding, in an electronic format, then I saw this ecard that I had to include.

I will have to say that I am a selective repinner. I do not repin every pin I sort of like, I spend the time to open the link up and evaluate if it would work in my life then either repin, bookmark privately or close out of it. Yes, I do spend that much time on pinterest, no need to judge me too much. My hope is that I am being realistic about the projects I choose to take on. I am not actually Martha Stewart or Super Woman, so once school starts I won't have the time to make elaborate dinners or use toilet paper rolls to make art (sorry I just find that super gross but to each their own).

Even with my pinterest "rules" I still manage to botch a project or recipe. Um, dried strawberries worse waste of time, energy and money. No one should keep the oven on for 5 hours in the summer time just for strawberries.  Painting clear vases, yea that failed project is now in the bottom of my craft closet. Anything related to painting my nails artistically, should just be banned from my viewing.

But lately I have been hitting a home run with pinterest.

Crayola melting art for my brother's 6th birthday present, so much fun! Someone should probably tell you that the wax splatters A LOT! And maybe even include how to get dried wax out of carpet/base boards, we won't mention this to Mr. B just yet.

Jalapeno and Lime Marinated Kale Tostadas were absolutely wonderful and super easy, my kind of recipe. I added ground turkey to ours for the extra protein and they were finished in two days. And I am already defrosting more ground turkey for this week.

A PVC pipe in the bathroom to hold a blow dryer and straightener, an absolutely genius pin, I wish I recall where I first saw this but it has made me super happy. And it only cost like $5.00.

Pinterest has also been an amazing time sucker meca of ideas for my classroom for next year. The one I am most excited about is including music as a transition at the beginning and end of the period. Obviously this could work in any grade level, but having music be a reminder of its time to clean up or when the song is over you should be already seated and logged in, is something I hope will reinforce my classroom procedures and make them a bit more fun.

T-Minus 6 days until I leave for Orlando, which gives me 5 days of getting my classroom completely somewhat set up. Its going to be a long hot week!

The Babbling Box!

Finding Balance

Ever since I returned from Corpus I have been on a mission: accomplish my ridiculously long classroom to do list before school starts. And I will admit I have become a bit obsessive about the whole thing. Camping out at the dining room table writing powerpoints and making signs in my pajama's watching reruns of Sons of Anarchy isn't a bad gig but I needed to remind myself it was still summer time.

So today I slept a little later, worked on a personal craft and made Bethenny's Guilt Free Spinach and Artichoke Dip, delicious! It might not sound like the most riveting day but it certainly was a needed break from all my back to school anxiousness.

One of my biggest downfalls is my lack of balancing my work and school life. And while I am working on finding some balance and thinking the hammock is calling my name this evening, I wanted to try and do my first linky party, hopefully I do this correctly.

I am linking up with Mrs. Crouse at 6th Grade All-Stars, I love finding teaching blogs for the middle school age group!

What Grade do you teach?
I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade career electives: Robotics, Career Technology and Web Design.

What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching?
My greatest advice was all about classroom management: teaching, posting and repeating procedures daily. Knowing when to pull something if a class can't handle it; the last two weeks of the semester I pulled up the Robotics equipment and had a class do a written final due to poor behavior. My first semester I would of never had the confidence to do that. Rewards, rewards, rewards. During a classroom management training a speaker compared us as teachers following procedures and getting pay check and students following procedures and getting some type of reward for it.

Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)?
This is my first full year to do be teaching, so my checklist is about three pages long and probably not standard given I rearranged my whole shop. I think just knowing where everything needs to go, labeling and having a system in place is my biggest preparation. I don't want to change where I store lego's multiple times in the semester because the kids would just keep asking me all the time.

What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)?
Labels for computers, chairs, cabinets. Assigned seating, kids hate it but it helps me learn names and know if someone is in the right area of the classroom. Rewards charts, for whole class rewards. Projector, I have the warm up posted daily on the projector, students walk in reading it, sets the tone of getting to work immediately.

What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom?
Some sort of documentation clipboard/binder. I use it to take role, grade warm ups, take daily grades and mark notes about behavior. I hate having to look eight different places to record grades or to enter behavior notes in our ESCT system, I leave my documentation roster out till the end of the day then enter it all in the system.

The Babbling Box!

Classroom Theme

I have to admit something, I am a addict. I have become addicted to reading teacher blogs. I never knew there were so many teachers out there that put so much time and effort into creating a decorated and themed classroom. After finding all of these blogs my mind is going, duh, why didn't I think of searching for these before. I have truly been overwhelmed with the amount of amazing and clever classroom ideas that other teachers have thought of.

The few classrooms I have been in since I became a teacher have had no theme or decorations past the standard student work, TEKS and objectives posted. So it never dawned on me to treat my classroom like another room I could decorate. And now that it has the possibilities are endless, and I have become addicted.

Don't get me wrong I was a SUPER organized teacher last semester, so much so that when another teacher was running a activity camp for the non-STAR testers in my classroom my students were walking out telling me how "trashed" my room was. By the end of the 4 hours at my assigned station, I was anxious, and I walked back into my room and was stumped. Yes chairs weren't pushed in, computers weren't put back in their place and paper was on the floor, but other than that my room was definitely not trashed. Just made me realize how much my OCD is apparent to my students and how high I hold my standards for a clean room. Sorry, that was a bit off topic back to the scheduled topic.

When pondering over a classroom theme I loved what I saw on other teacher's blogs but it would just not work in my classroom. Most of these classrooms were designed for the elementary age group and my students are not in the frog or pirate theme age group. I teach 6th, 7th and 8th graders in various career electives so I knew my theme couldn't be too specific.

After a lot of shopping, the kind of shopping where you do a lot of driving around, looking and leaving, I finally settled that it would be a color theme. Navy with pops of neon colors. It would match my classroom full of navy modules and chairs but with a more teenish appeal.

I was super lucky in the Target dollar bin and was able to find tons of containers, magazine holders and white boards in neon pink, turquoise, green and yellow.

My intention was that I would get back in the classroom this week and begin putting my room together and have pictures today of projects/progress. But my plans were dashed short today when it became clear that no one was really at my school to provide keys. So in attempt to make this week worthwhile I have been working hard at making matching labels, updating signs and doing prep work. Combine this with rewatching all of the Sons of Anarchy episodes on Netflix, this week hasn't even felt like work.

While I don't have any real projects to share I can share the logo for my classroom I designed that incorporates all of my color themes.

Me and Mr. B are off to watch the new Batman movie, this evening. More classroom updates to come.

The Babbling Box!

So We Fled...

We have returned from Corpus Christi, or in other words we fled the city and most likely we would need to be paid large sums of money to ever go south of San Antonio again.

WOW! That sounds really negative, and following my last post I feel like I am coming off a little pessimistic. Mr. B and I have had some really amazing vacations together and some not so amazing (both being extremely sick as soon as we landed in St. Louis or driving to and from St. Louis in a four day weekend full of tornado's). But I don't think anything could of prepared us for Corpus.

I think from the moment we arrived I had an unsettling feeling and if I would of gone with my gut (and Mr. B's pleadings) we would of left that Tuesday. But I am stubborn, shocker. And I wanted to stick the conference out, but by Thursday we had had enough. Mr. B packed up my car and we fled (me driving anything close to 90 miles per hour is definitely considered fleeing).

I mostly feel guilty, Mr. B rarely gets a week off and I feel like I treated him to the Money Pit of vacations. And so you don't feel like I am exaggerating: he got so bored he counted the number of stripes in the hotel room wallpaper.

We did have a few moments of enjoyment; we explored the USS Lexington in the hot humidity, spent 30 minutes of the only sunshine all week at a beach and spent a whole lot of time watching ESPN and some show like Ice Road Truckers. Jealous yet. 

We are now back among the land of the living and getting back to life. Mr. B had his last shift at the Hula Hut last night, insert celebratory applause. And I was able to spend a relaxing day boating and floating today on the Lake.

This week I hope to get back in my classroom and start organizing and decorating; my stalking of teacher blogs grew exponentially with all the down time in Corpus, so hopefully I will have good pictures of my classroom to share soon.

The Babbling Box!

Expectation Let Downs

This post was originally supposed to be titled The Week We Spent In Corpus, and I had expectations of filling the post with pictures of beaches, cocktails and fun with Mr. B. And then we arrived in Corpus and well it wasn't exactly the beach vacation of our dreams, or even mediocre expectations.

I had the opportunity to come to Corpus for a week long teacher conference and we decided to turn it into a little mini-vacation for the two of us. I had never been here, being a closer to Galveston growing up, and had little expectations of the Gulf Coast town but was hoping for a week of relaxation and fun. We had a hotel room on the bay and while Mr. B would have to find small ways to amuse himself while I was in the conference, I figured we would still be able to explore and enjoy Corpus.

But so far there has been little, really little, to enjoy. I hate being that pessimistic and I had hoped that by just ignoring our surroundings we could make our own fun but it just hasn't been happening.

The Downs of the Trip:

1. The beach is gross.
2. The wifi in the hotel is $10 a day per computer and hardly stays connected.
3. The weather is only humid, making being outside miserable.
4. The highlight of Corpus is the USS Lexington, actually super cool pictures to follow, followed by a two story Whataburger.
5. There is no real bars to hang out at or be around people are own age.
6. The people here are really really special.

Hopefully our trip will turn around as we still have two more days here and after spending this much time in a 300 square foot hotel room Mr. B and I don't kill each other.

A bonus is that the sun has literally not come out in two days and doesn't look likely to the entire trip.

The Babbling Box!

The Journey to Teaching

Since it is summer time I haven't spent much time talking about what takes up about 3/4th of my life: teaching. To be fair this is my first summer off since I was 14 so I have been trying to enjoy it without planning for next year. Though my addictions to pinterest and to reading teacher blogs has made that difficult as of late.

My road to teaching wasn't traditional and it certainly wasn't without its bumps or mountains, but if ever there was a time for the motto "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," it was the last year of my life.

I graduated from the University of Texas in 2007 with a degree in Public Relations. Insert lots of celebratory cheering. Then I had to figure out what I was going to do in the real world. Insert screeching halt to celebration. I was perfectly content working at the sports bar and playing around in Austin. But I am not wealthy and that degree wasn't going to pay for itself.

Fast forward one year later and about 1,000,000 resume submissions later and I landed my first job outside of the service industry at a law firm. It was scary, challenging and allowed for tons of creativity all at the same time. I was able to develop an amazing skill set and learn to take praise and criticism with some sort of grace. And then as with every office setting our office administrator left and my take charge attitude left me with all of his responsibilities. I will never complain about the amazing opportunity I was handed: I had someone who believed in me, I had incredible experiences to add to my resume and I was making a really nice salary. I went from being the owners assistant and in charge of newsletters and marketing materials to running a staff of ten assistants, handling AR and AP, dealing with vendors, HR issues, and any and all tech issues. My new title should of been Jack of All Trades.

The enormous amount of responsibilities also had its drawbacks: vacations were difficult to manage, I basically worked 24/7 and I took a lot of heat from the owner for any issues.

I recall a point two years after being hired that I was driving home from my brothers 4th birthday party completely burnt out. My unhappiness at not being able to stick around Houston to spend time with family, my annoyance at my lack of ability to maintain any of my friendships or relationships properly all for a job I wasn't even fulfilled by made me a depressed mess. I know for a fact that I wasn't exactly the funnest version of myself at that time.

That same weekend a girl I went to high school with had posted on facebook something about her life: she was teaching, getting her masters to be a counselor, getting married and having a baby. And frankly I was jealous, none of those things seemed feasible with my current job. I certainly had never considered teaching but I always knew I wanted to get my masters and counseling at the high school level was something I was very interested in.

Never one to dwell too long, I got my butt into gear and by the following weekend I had registered for an alternative certification program. And three weeks later I started my first class.

Honestly that first Saturday getting up at 7:30 when I had already worked a 50 hour work week left me second guessing my decision. But I went and boy was I excited, after the first class I wanted more. I felt for the first time that I belonged in that classroom and in the field of education. I spent much of the day taking extra notes and jotting down ideas, a sure sign I was invested.

While trying to maintain my current job I somehow finished my 27 classes, 40 hours of internship and passed two state tests in less than 7 months (I might be an overachiever.) I started to apply to every job within a hour of Austin. With massive budget cuts going on I knew it would be tricky to get a job, but failure is something I have never dealt with well. That summer I went on only one interview (it wasn't a good interview either) but it did not stop my dedication, my life pretty much looked like: work, gym, apply for jobs, see Mr. B or Erica, sleep. Repeat.

In August my life changed even more, I moved out of mine and Erica's apartment into storage and Mr. B's tiny apartment, and Erica moved to Florida. My stress levels at the law firm were out of control, I completely understood their nervousness at me possible leaving but I didn't really need to be told daily I was making a poor decision.

On the last Monday in August school started and I still had no job, that Tuesday I applied for my 175th teaching position. Yes, I am so OCD that I counted every application. And then I told Mr. B, that I would need to revise my plan, possible sub for a year, because I didn't want to start my first year of teaching in the middle of the school year. Because things always go how we want them to.

That Thursday I received a phone call from my 175th application and set up an interview for the next day. The interview went well I thought (I have had less than 7 interviews in my life so I have little to actually go on) and I went straight into work trying not to spend too much time pondering and by 4 that day I was offered the position.

The position was exactly what I wanted: a middle school in South Austin and a technology teacher. I believe I jumped up and down after that final phone call. Oh yea, I did!

Monday and Tuesday of the next week I wrapped up as much as I could at the law firm and on Wednesday I went in for training at the school and started teaching the next Tuesday following Labor Day Weekend.

Up to this point in the story I am sure you are thinking, well lucky you, thousands of teachers were out of work and you got your dream job with no experience. I am nothing but honest, and I will flat out say that that first semester was closer to a nightmare than a dream. I cried a lot those first few weeks, at night away from the kids and I questioned my decision to make these life changes. On top of all of this we were going through a lot of issues finding a place to live and ending my job at the law firm, a story for another post.

I had fist fights in my room, was called the B word in two different languages and pretty much felt like I had a classroom running me. There is a silver lining to this story, I only teach a semester class so I was able to start fresh in January in a room that I could slightly organize and that wouldn't of had a sub the first two weeks of school. I am nothing if not determined, did I mention the 175 applications, so I worked with administrators and professional development to create a classroom management plan that would work for our specific demographics. And the spring semester went by so much more smoother and I seemed to find some sort of rhythm. I even enjoyed teaching, shocking! That's not to say there weren't mishaps: a stolen cell phone, shaving cream fights, etc, but I didn't doubt that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in life.

As summer dwindles away I look forward to my 2nd year of teaching, with a new energy and focus because I know that this year won't be about surviving but about thriving.

This post was extremely long and if anyone is actually still reading I apologize, to me it is important to document where my journey started and as you can tell blogging was close to the last thing I was thinking about last year.

The Babbling Box!

The Week It Rained

Mr. B's brother came to town this week and it rained. Everyday he was here, even on his drive from Dallas, I swear he brought it with him. Of course we need the rain but it still put a damper on some plans. I believe that Mr. B and his brother are genetically scared of camera's, I never could get a picture together and rarely was able to even capture Mr. B.

It's been a fun couple of days, though I think my body might need a break from the rough week of eating out, staying up late and drinking a tad too much. It's back to gym time and smooties tomorrow.

We played darts with Luedde, I lost both times, which seems to be the standard as of late for any bar games.

We went on a boat party, which was cut short due to the massive storm coming in, I tried to get pictures of the incoming storm as it was a great view out on the water though a photographer I am not. I was able to capture lightening in one of the pictures, a proud moment for me. In reviewing the pictures I realize I took very little of people and more of scenery, but to be fair I knew hardly no one on the boat.

We went to Red's and watched the All Star Game for Mr. B's brothers birthday, another night cut short due to the massive storm coming in, my pictures were less than stellar. Last night we watched Ted, much funnier than I imagined and stayed up late drinking and talking.

Hopefully he enjoyed himself, I always worry people will either be completely bored or annoyed when staying with us, I over analyze too much. (Shocker!)

Right now I need to start making lists and getting things packed for our trip to Corpus on Sunday, but I have become slightly obsessed with this website it allows you to edit pictures way better than instagram and create collages. Note, the cool effects and collages above. I found the link on a fellow teacher's blog during my very productive morning of classroom research. And by research I mean hours spent on pinterest and teacher blogs, I feel like a bit of stalker, but I have some great ideas for decorating my classroom.

The Babbling Box!

Wash, Fold and Repeat

One of my goals of summer is to reorganize/decorate some of our house. So much of it was put on the back burner in an attempt to just survive my first year of teaching.

I hated our laundry room, it basically had become Mr. B's changing room. While I shouldn't complain, he did give me 3/4th's of the closet but still I shuddered when I went in there for anything. Mr. B put up a good argument for me to not actually decorate the laundry room, that would be just silly (though my addiction to pinterest told me otherwise). I am learning this whole concept of compromise so I couldn't resist giving it a more functional feeling and decided to be lean on any decorations. A place where I know where everything is at: wash, fold and iron clothes and close the door til the next weekend.

I will post pictures of our before laundry room, it is really just a mess (don't judge).

And here is the after! Ta Da!

I was able to reuse extra baskets we already had and put labels on all of them with Velcro and added a old curtain rod in order to have a place to dry clothes. A totally free project.

I had painted flags for Mr. B a long time ago and they were just sitting in a closet so I couldn't resist giving the room a bit of color. I also added two shelf's from Home Depot and hooks underneath for all of Mr. B's things that he brings to and from work everyday. I added a small shoe rack as well and solved another issue in the house, the pile of shoes at the garage door that I was constantly giving the evil eye.

Of course, Mr. B came home and didn't really get the transformation, but I now feel like we have an organized and efficient laundry room, and cost wise it was an under $20.00 transformation so it was a win for both of us.

The Babbling Box!

Can Time Please Slow Down...

Week 3 and 4 of my summer have quickly disappeared and we are well on our way into July, and all I really want is a minute to stop and breath. I feel like the last two weeks have flown by and I know that it will go quicker as we approach the start of a new school year. Secretly, I am excited for school to start and to set up a new classroom and such (yes I know I am a dork) but I also want to be able to be cherish and capture all the fun adventures this summer still has left.

Some hits and misses of the last two weeks:

I spent close to a week in Houston and was able to spend time with my family and see my old friend, Allison.

  • I love being able to catch up with Allison it might be months in between us seeing each other but we are always able to pick up right where we left off.
  • Family time was both wonderful and exhausting at the same time. My little brother, Daniel, is almost six so I cherish being able to spend time with him as he becomes more of his own person.
  • My mother and I saw Magic Mike together, perhaps not a movie you would normally see with your mother, but I enjoyed being able to give her a break from constantly being at her place.
  • My Dad and I made plans for brunch my last day, a belated Father's Day and birthday meeting, and my other brother Jake was able to make it out with us. A rare occurrence.
  • As I left Houston, it rained the entire drive back to Austin. Of course we need the rain, but I am already not the most confident driver and it made for a stressful drive home.
  • The rain seemed to fit my mood though, I think as you become an adult you spend more time dwelling on if your parents are fulfilled than you did as a child. When you come from a family of divorce I think it is easier to dwell on it more than not. You don't want your parents to be alone and grow old by themselves and you really want them to enjoy their life as much as they want you to. Perhaps it is some sort of sign that I have gotten to a less selfish place in my own life, or that my parents have also become my friends (something as a child you doubt would every happen) but I either way I left Houston in a somber mood as I hope the next few years will bring more happiness for both my parents.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I am addict. I am addicted to Pinterest, cooking and crafting. I should also mention that it seems like lately I have had more misses than hits with trying out my pinterest finds. It also has made me incredibly indecisive in making any decorating decisions (a story for another post).

  • Dried strawberries do not work, they just cause you to run your oven for five hours to find blackened mushy berries.
  • I have no skill at painting my nails creatively, so repinning lots of fourth of July nail designs and attempting them was in fact a waste of time.
  • Cutting up old shirts into cute tank tops also doesn't work for me, even if I purchase the $20.00 special fabric scissors. I am too impatient and too much of a perfectionist to actually wear the cut up shirt. 
  • On the positive side, zucchini and sweet potato chips are AMAZING! Especially on the river, as are most snacks I found, why I didn't think of this when I was 21 is really beyond me.
  • Stir fried asparagus and pork turned out awesome, and Amber, Mr. B and myself enjoyed a lovely evening of great food, reminiscing and too much fireball.

This week we went floating with Mr. B's coworkers and had a great time on the river. Even at Donn's Fish Camp, my least favorite place to float. And then we spent the Fourth of July shooting fireworks at Gina and Tom's house a low key but relaxing evening.

I definitely didn't take nearly enough pictures, spent entirely too much time at Target and Ross, didn't spend nearly enough time on the hammock (though with three books already read this summer I am probably doing ok) but as fast as it is speeding by I am certainly enjoying my summer so far.

I imagine the next two weeks will go by just as fast: Mr. B's brother will be in town, boat party, Tom's birthday party and a trip to Corpus Christi for a week. I can't wait.

The Babbling Box