Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back to School Craziness

Wal-Mart and Target have their large glue and pencil displays at the front of the store beside the large stacks of college ruled paper. There is a kiosk of back to school lists for the elementary schools. Parents are budgeting their time and money in preparation to send their little ones back to school after a long and busy summer vacation.

I loved this time of year as a kid. I would be so excited to return to school in my new clothes with my new unused school supplies. I would pack and repack my book bag the night before in giddy anticipation of the morning bus ride.

As a teacher, I see this time of year with new eyes. I too have lists of needed supplies and things that
must be done before the first day of school. I look forward to seeing my colleagues again and catching up on the summer happenings or discussing the latest news or changes that were brought up at one of the pre-planning faculty meetings. As a full time mommy during the summer, I yearn for adult conversation because I have been speaking "toddler" and watching cartoons for a good part of my days.

Chit chatting is one of my down falls during the preplanning days. I do enjoy talking and sometimes I get distracted from completing the more necessary tasks at hand like lesson planning, cleaning, running copies or decorating a bulletin board or two.

Of course, back to school pre-planning is not all socializing and decorating. As a teacher, we usually "loose" planning time to meetings, trainings and such. I am all for a good training, but sometimes I feel like it is such a waste of time when there are so many or other "important" (to me) items to check off my to do list. My Type A personality likes to have everything I could possibly do done so that "I think" my first couple days will go smoothly.

I will be teaching 6 preps this year! Wowsa. For the first time since I started teaching, I will
Be teaching a majority of Social Studies classes: Government/Economics, Regular Psychology, AP Psychology, and Sociology. My remaining preps will be one section of Pre-AP Advanced Reading for 9th graders. Luckily, I have taught most of these classes before (except Gov/Econ) so I don't have to make lesson plans from scratch for everything....just tweak my LPs as needed!

Here are some of the things I did this week during pre planning. I created a "readbox" book display for my classroom library. I found this cute idea on pinterest. I redid two of my bulletin boards, beautified my student work file with labels, hung up and moved around posters, and I reframed and displayed my college diploma and awards.

I still have one more room makeover to accomplish for students arrive. I am painting an accent wall! My classroom got painted this summer by the paint crew, but they did not paint on of the partition walls where I have a display. I took the display down and I am going to paint it red for some "pop color." Luckily, my local ACE hardware had their annual free quart of paint promotion so I was able to get my paint for FREE!
The only remaining time I have to paint is Monday in between meetings and 9th grade orientation. I only teach one 9th grade class this year so I don't expect a lot of visitors. Fortunately, it's a small area which I am going to paint with a roller so I am hoping it will be a quick makeover project. I will post before and after pictures too!

As I finish my FIRST cup of coffee this morning, I will leave you with with this: A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.(Brad Henry) but first a good teacher must get through pre planning! 


Monday, July 29, 2013

Farewell Summer Vacation

As another summer comes to a close, I realize that I have mixed feelings about going back to work. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and look forward to the begining of school (it's one of my favorite times of the year), but I will be missing my Little Miss something fierce!

Little Miss and I have had a nice time together. She is growing up so fast and becoming her on little person with a very distinct personality. It is a joy to behold.

I will miss our morning jammy and cartoon sessions on the couch each morning. It's a special mommy daughter time because neither of us are fans of the "waking up" part of the day. She drinks her milk and I finish my coffee.

Most weeks, we ventured out of the house for some shopping. Mommy and little Miss both like getting out of the house. This summer we went to the parks and usually got rained out thanks to Florida afternoon showers. We've had play dates, pool time and races around the house.

She is starting  to talk more and more. It seems like there is a new word or two each week. Plus, she's starting to incorporate two word phrases like, Bye Dada, Night Night and All Done! She's dancing now too! It looks more like surfing with a butt wiggle, but it is so stinking cute!

The hubby took time off of work too this summer so we all could have family time. We took her to the Florida Aquarium so see the animals and play in the kid's water zone area. I think we had a good time looking at the animals and playing. We'll make an effort to go back as she gets older.

 I'll admit it's sometimes difficult trying to find stuff to do as a family with an almost two year old. My hubby and I weigh the pros and cons of different places. I would hate to go somewhere, spend  money and be absolutely miserable you know what I mean? It's not like she'll remember it. I'm am glad we have some friends with some older kids who can suggest places to go to or visit.

I've feel like I've struggled with early parenthood and adjusting to the first time parent lifestyle---maybe that's just the way it goes sometimes, but this summer my confidence has grown with her and I have found joy in being her full time mommy this summer. (I am always her mommy, but I am not a stay at home mom). The thought of having another child has started to float through my mind again. I don't think I am ready just yet to commit to that idea, but the idea of it is less anxiety filled!

This summer is jut another smll step in my simple, but significant journey on the road of parenthood.The lesson being (I think) about finding joy in the little things and treasuring the small moments you are gifted in life.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Duckin' Book Review

As summer winds down, I find myself with the reading bug yet again. It is nice to read a good book and get away with new people and places.
My most recent read is "The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty." I have been wanting to read this all summer and I am so glad that I finally downloaded it on my Kindle!

I like the show Duck Dynasty. I've heard about the show for a while, but since I don't have regular TV or Dish I don't get that channel. Now that there is an A&E app, I can watch this show and reruns each week on my Ipad.

I love the family, humor, and faith that this show embodies and it carries over in the book. Each chapter has a catchy title and a bible scripture which support the chapter theme. While reading this book, I got jokes and gained insight into the Robertson family. I learned how their past struggles built the foundation for who this family is and what the show is today.

Personally, I felt spiritually uplifted reading this book. I want to create a similar foundation and principles in my family. I see how their ideals, beliefs and faith has guided and protected their family. I think I might read, Phil Robertson's book, "Happy, Happy, Happy" next! 

I am glad I read this one. I will continue to recommend it to others who are looking for a fun read or book recommendations.

What's next on your reading list this summer?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 30: Writing Challenge Finale

I did it! This is the last official post from the 30 day writing challenge I started back in June. The focus of this post is review the highs and lows of the past months.

I suppose my "low" is the fact that I didn't complete the writing challenge in 30 days. I took time off on the weekends to transfer my blog to a new domain or to write. I will be honest that some days I just didn't feel like writing. I was just too tired or disinterested. I think you might agree that mommy needs a break from "obligations."

Another "low" would be the fact that I haven't really done much by way of "work" for school. Ideally, I had hoped to do some more PowerPoints and lesson plans for my new social studies prep, but again my priorities and mommy obligations came first and not as much has gotten done in that regard.  Will just have to buckle down during the teacher work days.

Speaking of work, I found out yesterday that my teaching schedule has probably changed and I will be teaching at least one 9th grade reading class. Ugh. When I left for summer vacation, I was told I would be full time social studies! This has been the goal for the last 4 years. I feel very jerked around and dissappointed. SMH. (I going to wallow about this one).

Highs for the past 30 days include:

  1. Finding out my AP Psych class had a 71% pass rate on their national exams! #proudteacher
  2. Spending time with my Dad and my sister's family
  3. Hosting a family get together at my house back in June.
  4. Finishing the coffee bar repurposing project
  5. Getting my classroom painted (I didn't do the work, but I am happy it got done!)
  6. I purchased a new diploma frame for my college diploma. When I framed, it it looked more prestigious and I felt proud of my accomplishment again.
  7. I was able to buy some new shorts and pants since my weight loss (dropped 30 lbs! This past year).
  8. Reading a good book, The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty. If you like the show Duck Dynasty you will enjoy the book! I found it to be very uplifting, light, funny read! 
  9. This may seem small, but I was excited to get two new USF shirts this summer!
  10. I am so happy that I finished the 30 day challenge and started writing the blog again. It's a little liberating and scary to put yourself out there for your friends and family to read. 
I am happy of course that I have more highs than lows. It could also be me trying to find the positive in most things. The 30+ days of working on and modifying this challenge were a nice part of my summer.

I wonder what my next summer project will be?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 29: Goals

I believe in having goals, but I've never been the person to actually write them down. I suppose wrapping up a writing challenge on your blog will have a way of changing that.

My goals for the next 30 days include the following in no particular order:
  1. Keep up with my blog once my summer vacation is over. I would like to write at least one post per week ( seems reasonable and doable in my opinion)!
  2. Keep doing devotionals and maybe crack my bible open a little more.
  3. Redecorate my classroom before school starts (I don't have a lot of time on this one! I am thankful that the paint crew was able to squeeze my room in this summer).
  4. Complete at least one more repurposing or painting job for my home. I love that homey feeling don't you?
  5. Take more pictures
  6. Start thinking about or planning Little Miss' birthday party.
  7. Go out to the movies. I can't remember the last time I went to the movies!
  8. Start making tests for my AP Psych class. As long as I start them in the fall, I won't feel behind or overwhelmed in the spring.
I only have 8 goals as of today which is perfectly fine. A list of 30 goals in 30 days would be a little unrealistic don't you think? Nobody got time for that!

Are you willing to take a chance and put your goals down on paper or the blog in my case? Will you join me on this short term goal journey?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 28: Crafty Coffee Bar (Part 3)

When I first purchased the dresser for the coffee bar project, I thought I would simply but new handles for the piece, but my friend Melissa who helped me with the beginning of this project said, "Don't waste your money, just repaint them." That is exactly what my hubby did (for me)!

Before he painted them, he scuffed them up with sand paper. For this phase of "project coffee bar," we bought Hammered Silver spray paint. The idea was that this paint would closely match the nickel like hardware on the kitchen cabinets that were already in place.

He did about 2-3 coats of spray paint and then he set them aside to dry. Easy peasy. The last and final step of this part was to put the handles back on and ta-da!

Here is the most recent picture of the project. My last post on the coffee bar will be when I get the shelves and rack up for the cups and décor!

I can't wait for that day! Can you?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 27: Pantry Repurp

So now that coffee bar project s nearly complete, I wanted to continue on this "repurposing" journey by using the remaining paint from the coffee bar redo my pantry door to create "pop color" effect. Here is what it looked like before in it's used manufactured state:

You can definitely see the wear and tear around the handle, but overall it's fine. I mean it's a pantry door, not the wardrobe to Narnia! LOL.

Well, the hubs took it down and sanded it. Then, this little lady got busy painting it. However, we had to get the door back up before Little Miss got back from her visit with Nanny and Papa because this momma was not going to deal with a toddler getting into the pantry every 5 seconds because there is no door.

Once, the door was up (mind you it isn't finished) I could see right away that is was more blue than the coffee bar. Ugh. Now what do I do? I was really kind of hoping that they would match.

After my mini freak out reading online, I realized I probably should have done a base coat of brown, but I also read that all is not lost. I don't have to throw in the towel or go out and buy paint stripper yet.

I am going to sand the edges and try a brown glaze to get the desired distressed effect. I've pinned and read some "how tos" on Pinterest and feel confident I think this might do the trick as long as I don't rush. Here's hoping....

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 26: Crafty Coffee Bar (Part 2)

Welcome back to my journey into home improvement and repurposing! I am lovin' it! My first big project for my home décor "up do" is a coffee bar.  Part one went very well. I am extremely happy with how it is looking.
The second phase for me was to let the paint dry and cure. Next, we followed the drying process with a couple coats of polyurethane. I sent my hubby to the hardware store to pick it up. I feel awkward in a hardware store...maybe it's my lack of testosterone.
The hubs came back with a spray paint poly with satin finish. After the first coat, I didn't think it was coated well . The first coat took the whole can. I requested another coating so back to the hardware store. I am happy with the two coats and the coffee bar is ready to move inside into its nook!

Now, we are not done yet. I still have to repurp the handles of the dresser so be on the look out for part (3) of the Crafty Coffee Bar Series!

Here is what the coffee bar looks like in the house without wall décor:

I am super excited at how awesome this looks! By my calculations, we have about $75 wrapped up in this project so far (not counting the paint for the hardware)! Not so bad considering what we would have been charged to purchase a ready made piece!

Until next time, keep calm and enjoy a cup of coffee!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 25: Mommy's Angel, Daddy's Nightmare

Little Miss is going through a phase right now and it's no fun for Daddy or me for that matter. Since I have been on summer vacation, I have been her all day care giver. Yay, for mommy daughter time; however, Daddy is kind of being shunned right now.

If Little Miss gets the slightest notion that mommy is leaving, she practically goes into hysterics. My hubby tries to hold and love on her (or even pick her up) and she crises "No!" And goes all limp noodle on him.

I know this is very hard for him because when she does this his feeling are hurt and he can sometimes
let the negative thoughts creep in like, "I'm a bad parent." Of course, the frustration rubs off on Little Miss and me too which doesn't help things at all.

His parental frustration, like most frustration, masks fear or disappointment of not living up to expectations. My hubby has the best of intentions. He was watching her so mommy could get a little break and run to the store by herself or with a friend and I love him for it because he is a great parent. It's just sometimes chaotic when I get multiple phones calls while I'm out or hear her crying as I am trying to jet out the door. It usually leads to a "tiff" or small argument between us because our patience has worn thin too. But what do you do?

Parenting isn't easy. Most people would agree, but we are sometimes reluctant to talk about the "hard or difficult" times out of fear of being looked upon poorly. I don't get it, but that's what I have observed. I don't think that there is an easy answer the this "phase," but it is something we will have to deal with for now. My inner psychologists says condition her response to be different while my inner spy is trying to find a better way to sneak out of the office to avoid a meltdown completely.

Parenting is a labor of love and it isn't always "cookie cutter" or simple. As I reflect on this post, I keep being reminded of the Darius Rucker song, "It Won't Be Like This for Long." I think this song accurately reflects what the hubby and I are currently dealing with here. She won't always care if Mommy is gone (heck, she might one day prefer it) or one day she'll be more of a Daddy's girl.

Sometimes as a parent, all we can do it just breathe and take it one moment or day at a time. Some things you just get through. I am not sure we could do this parent thing without each other.
Babe, you are a great father! I love you. Thank you for all the simple and significant things you do for me and our Little Miss!

CVS Run 7/13/13

I had another great day of savings at CVS today that I wanted to share with you. I went into the store with no ECBs looking for deals that would award me ECBs because I needed to buy some diapers. Here is what I did in two transactions.

Transaction #1: (1) box of Always Radiant priced at $3.99 and (1) Gilette Profusion Razor priced at $9.99. I used a $2/1 Always Q and a $8/1 Razor Q I got in the mail from the Gilette. My subtotal was $4.89 (tax included), but I got back $3.00 in ECBs! So my OOP on Transaction #1 was $1.89!

Transaction #2: I purchased (2) Huggies Jumbo packs for $9.99 each. The deal that CVS was running was WYB 2 you would get back $5 in ECBs. So that's why I went for the Huggies over Pampers. I rolled I rolled in the ECBs from my first purchase and used (2) $3/1 Huggies Qs. After ECBs and Qs my OOP was $7.28 for the two packs of diapers (or $3.64 each)! Not too shabby!

Altogether my OOP at CVS today was $9.17 for an savings of 73%! Now that's what I call simple, but significant!

Happy Couponing!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 24: Favorite Movie

I. like many people, enjoy a good movie. When my husband and I were dating, we used to go to the movies once a week. Now, we are lucky if we can rent a movie off Amazon! I am not personally a fan of shoot 'em up or gory horror movies, but I don't mind a good action flick with an interesting story line. I prefer Rom-Coms, Chick Flicks, Action Adventure, tear jerker dramas and the occasional cartoon.

I like to buy movies too. They are usually cheaper when they are first released or sometimes ordering them online is a good way to go. Of course, I have been known to wait for Black Friday sales to scoop up a good deal or gift!

Some of my favorite movies include the following:

Harry Potter Series--I love the books and the movies were great. I own them all and I am not  To me, these characters epitomize th idea of love comquers all and good will conquer evil. Overall, I was happy with the book to movie adaptations, which is not something I can say about all book to movie attempts.ashamed to admit that I have the occasional movie marathon. I've laughed and cried with the characters as they grew up and faced danger.

The Wizard of Oz--this is a classic movie. If you have never seen it or watched it there is something seriously wrong with and we probably can't be friends!

I own one of the anniversary edition DVDs. This tale of Dorothy and her adventure on the hello brick road drives home many important themes for me like friendship, family, bravery, and the idea that there's no place like home.

I could probably add more to this list, but this are the two that came to mind first! Do you agree with my two selections? What is your favorite movie?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Free Dryer Sheets

Today, I had the pleasure of tagging along with my friend Janeen on a coupon run to Target. This store is about 35-40 minutes from our house so it was nice to have someone to ride with and chit-chat about this-that and coupons! You know we coupon freaks got to stick together!

Anywho, our objective on this coupon trip was to get in on an Always deal and score the Bounce dryer sheets. Unfortunately for us, the store was out of the lower priced Always so our OOP would have been higher so it wasn't as good a deal as a result. Target does not give rain checks for "when you buy" gift card promotions.

So here is the deal we got: (9) boxes of Bounce Dryer Sheets for FREE from Target. I just paid tax 59 cents!

Priced at 1.97 each. I used $3/3 Target Q from 6/16 RP paired with the $3/3 PG Q from 7/7. Buy 3, use the store and mfr Qs and you got a freebie! Limit four like coupons per transaction.

I think I will be good on dryer sheets for a while. I still had two boxes left from the last stock up deal I did through Dollar General....but hey, I am good with free!

Happy Couponing! Saving with coupons....simple, but significant.

**UPDATE** after I made this post it came to my attention that I accidentally misused the Target Q because it stated excluded 34 ct Bounce which is what I purchased. Oops! Honestly, I didn't read or catch the fine print, but neither did the cashier. She rang me through without hesitation and just clucked through her computer. I would never intentionally set out to misuse a properly labeled Q but it is what it is. Lesson learned ALWAYS read your Q no matter how excited you are!** 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 23: Crafty Coffee Bar (Part 1)

I have never attempted any sort of repurposing job. I love the décor look of it though and it can sometimes to more pricey to buy a piece already done rather than do it yourself.

Thanks to Pinterest, I got the wind under my sales to attempt to recreate a coffee bar like one seen here.

I've mentioned previously that I am trying to make my home feel more homey through decorating. This project for that reason, plus I love coffee and tea! Luckily for me, I have a great friend, Melissa, who is a pro so with her instruction and help I will attempt this project.

Here is the dresser I purchased at a local Habitat for Humanity. I paid $40 for it. Other supplies I needed: (1) Quart of paint (satin interior), Palm Sander with sand paper, and brushes.

Our first step was to take off the hardware on the dresser and sand it down because of the laminate coating. After we sanded down the dresser, we dry dusted and damped dusted off the particles.

Next, the fun part--the painting. You can use a paint brush or a roller. We decided to use the paint brush because the paint lines would help add to the distressed look I wanted.

After the paint dried, we used the palm sander to begin the process of adding age and distress through the paint. We also went over with sand paper ourselves and did handmade touches.

Lastly, we left the dresser and drawers to dry. We are not done yet! Stay tuned for the final touches!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 22: TV Time

I'll admit that I like to watch TV. There is nothing better than veggin' on the couch and watching an entertaining show.

Now, I don't get to do it that much nowadays unless I am watching my toddler's favorites like "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" or "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse." As a parent, there is only so much of that you can take before you begin to loose your sanity! Luckily, I have nap time, me time and those days where my mother in law whisks Little Miss away for Nanny time.

Netflix is a wonderful invention! My husband and I don't pay for dish or cable. We use an antenna to get FREE TV. So, much of what we watch is streamed. I am totally the person who waits for a series to be released on Netflix so I can watch the whole season ASAP!

I will limit this post to shows that are still TV. I've already admitted to my love of teen dramas like Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. Don't judge! Some of my other favorites include:

Grey's Anatomy--I've been watching this show since the beginning. I even own all the seasons on DVD before Netflix started to aired all episodes. I am a little behind on my purchases of the DVDs, but that's okay because I have seen them.

Once Upon A Time--I love this show! It's a whimsical adventure that I look forward to each Sunday. My hubby and I watch this one together! I think that it is one of the more family friendly shows out there.

New Girl--I think Zoey Deschannel is hilarious and this show is super cute and super funny. I like the lightness of it.

Dr. Who--this show it cool and confusing. The twists and turns can be mind bending if you are not paying attention. I am so glad I came across this one on Netlfix and jumped on the nerdy, sophisticated bandwagon.

Other shows worth mentioning as a fav include: Castle, Scandal, Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, Master Chef, Raising Hope, Drop Dead Diva, Revenge, Sherlock, and  Hart of Dixie.

Now, please don't think I sit for hours and hours and watch TV. If you know me, you would know that I like to sleep and sleep trumps TV most nights! LOL. I usually play catch up on my TV via the computer or Netflix.

What are your favorite shows?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 21 Hubba, Hubba

For today's writing challenge, I am supposed to post 5 pictures of gentlemen I find attractive! OKAY! (insert smiley face). I have chosen celebrities because odds are I will never meet them so I can safely admire them from afar with little embarrassment! Plus, I know I am not alone in my admiration.

Ian Somerhalder

 Ryan Gosling
Tom Hardy
Zachary Levi
Ryan Reynolds
Who is on your celebrity Top 5? Do you agree with any of my picks?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rainy Day Homemade Soup

I live in Florida and we are no stranger to rain during summer time. So as life would have it, it's been raining off and on the last few days. This past Sunday was quite dreary as I was trying to figure out what to do for dinner. And then it hit me....homemade soup!

One of my favorite homemade soups is a copycat recipe of Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana so this is what I went with because I had almost everything I needed it get it going at home. I did have to do a quick trip to Winn Dixie in the rain, but it was worth it!

Here is what you need:

  • (1) package or roll of mild Italian sausage (ground, not links)
  •  Bacon (I used precooked bacon salad pieces because it was easier not to cook something else)
  • crushed red peppers flakes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 32 oz box chicken broth (this is 4 cups as well)
  •  approximately 10 small red potatoes, skin on, cubed
  • 2-4 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 medium onion – diced
  • 2 cups chopped kale (some sites offer kale in a bag. That is what I used. It is chopped already but you could give it another rough chop later)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used half a cup because I planed on freezing half of the soup)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Combine broth, water,  potatoes, onion and garlic to a large pot and cook until potatoes are tender. Next, cook and drain sausage at set aside until potatoes are done.

    Once potatoes are done cooking, you can add sausage, crushed red pepper and salt and pepper for preference. You may wish to add a little more chicken broth if you want because some of the liquid has been absorbed or cooked off at this point.

    I like my soup to be a little chunky, but not overly chunky so I used a potato masher to break up the potatoes a little bit. I let the soup simmer for a little while longer because it was too early for dinner but if at this point you are ready to eat you can after the final steps.

    Add you kale and cam and let them heat through for approximately 10 minutes.

    Tip: this recipe make a lot for just me and th hubby, so I usually separate out half the soup (before adding cream) because I will freeze this portion for another meal. If you freeze the soup with cream, it will break apart during the defrosting process.

    To round out the meal, I cracked open a Pilsbury French bread loaf and cooked it as directed so we had some "fake homemade" bread for our meal.

    I hope you enjoy this recipe! I do each time I cook it! What's your go to rainy day meal?