Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#YorksGoOrlando - Part 1

At the end of September, my husband and I celebrated two years of being married. During the summer there was really no time for us to take a vacation; while I have the summers off from teaching, my husband was super busy at work during this time. Instead, during the summer we planned to take a trip for our anniversary. You see, we did the whole beach all-inclusive resort thing for our honeymoon, and it just wasn't US. While I could lay on the beach forever and read, my husband cannot. He wants to boat and do things in the water, which I'm terrified of once I get more than waist deep. Needless to say, it was not the place for us to enjoy together. So when choosing our anniversary vacation, we knew that there was one place we could definitely agree on - Hogwarts.

My husband had already been to Disney a couple of times when he was younger, but he had not been to Universal Studios. I had not been to anything like it, unless you count Six Flags (which I don't), so I was really excited about the idea. Even better, the changes to the Harry Potter parts of the park had been finished, and it seemed like the right time to go. So, we booked our hotel and flights, and I took some time off of work (and missed Meet the Teacher night. Oops!).

We left on a Wednesday, so I will start by sharing how that day went. I took a million pictures, so I think that it will be best to break down these posts day by day so I don't completely overwhelm and bore you all. Without further ado, here we go!


Fun fact: I HATE flying. I am terrified of heights and suffer from anxiety, not exactly the best combination. I just don't GET how the whole airplane thing works, and I often spend too much time thinking about it. To avoid doing just that, I downloaded my digital copy of The Fault in Our Stars to my iPad and watched that on the flight out; it actually went quickly, which was a relief.

Upon arriving at the airport in Orlando, they had these boards everywhere, which just got me excited. We got in around 1:15 or so Orlando time, so we were looking forward to having that evening at one of the parks. We had already scheduled a shuttle to the hotel ahead of time, so we did not have to wait too long to get picked up from the airport (in the pouring rain. Really, Florida?). And then it was only about half an hour to the hotel.

We stayed at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which is the newest of the hotels that is actually part of Universal Studios. We looked at prices for different scenarios, and ultimately it had made sense for us to use one of their resorts; plus it got us into the HP part of the park an hour before the park opened. The only slight downside was that we were put in building six...at the far end of the hotel, so that walk was fun. They did have an awesome pool area, though we didn't swim.

The hotel shuttle took us back and forth from the parks, and a new bus came every five minutes, so we did not have to wait around too much. We didn't waste much time getting to our hotel room, getting changed, and then heading out. We decided to go to the Universal Studios Florida side first, so we headed there, where I was super excited to see the Universal globe. It might be silly, but I had only ever seen it on television, so it was exciting!

Once we were in the park, we just kind of walked around and went to things as we saw them. While we did pick up a map, we did not stop to look at it just yet and decided to wander around. We started with the Twister "ride" which was supposed to simulate a real tornado. It was okay, except there was very little wind involved, which drove my husband crazy. He hated it, and spent the rest of the trip joking about how it was is favorite ride.

It did not take us long to make our way to the HP area of the park, after all that's what I was most excited about. I loved how they had the buildings so that it actually looked like you were walking through the wall into Diagon Alley, and then things got wonderful from there. We did a lot of wandering, and I did a lot of smiling like an idiot because it was so awesome (I'll stick looots of pictures at the end of the post, once I'm done chatting!).

Since we were on the plane during lunch hours and then went straight to the hotel and then to the park, we decided to have a late lunch around 3. We were near the Leaky Cauldron, so we decided to give it a try. Neither of us had Butterbeer. Instead, I tried the Fuzzy Otter's Orange Juice (delicious), and M tried some lemon thing (that I hated). The lunch was actually really good, and I so enjoyed the decor of the building. So realistic, I felt like I had stepped into the books/movies.

After having lunch, we walked around Diagon Alley and checked out all of the buildings and shops.They had SO many shops to look at, that it was pretty awesome. Then we went ahead and did the new Gringotts ride, which was absolutely amazing. Just the line leading up to it was amazing and so well done, and the right itself was so much fun. We ended up going on it three or four times during our trip because we enjoyed it so much.

Of course, we had to pick up wands. I picked an interactive version of Hermione Granger's (it was awesome, they had certain places at the parks where if you had an interactive wand you could wave it a certain way and things would happen). M decided on Dumbledore's Elder Wand.

To end our night at the park we decided to check out The Simpson's Ride. We have been watching the show a ton lately, ever since they did that crazy long marathon on FXX, so we thought it would be fun. AND IT WAS. This was, by far, one of my favorite rides during the whole trip. I think we ended up going on it a total of six or so times, and it never got boring!

The park closed at seven so that they could get ready for their Halloween night (which we did not do, at all. I hate scary things and M isn't a Halloween fan). We ended up heading to the City Walk part of the park where they have a lot of restaurants and everything. We weren't super hungry since we had a late lunch, so we decided on Burger King's Whopper bar. $19 for two burgers and a medium drink to share, not even any fries. Crazy! The food was even more expensive than I was expecting!

Well, that concludes day one. I will add some extra pictures below this if you want to check them out, and I will be back soon with Part 2!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Around Here [1]


This week was all about me going back to work, and saying goodbye to summer break. Since I'm working in a new district this year, I had to attend new teacher orientation, and it was quite long. A lot of it was stuff I already knew (as I am not a brand new teacher like some were), so it made it a bit more difficult to patiently sit through some very long sessions.

One plus was that I got to start working on some outfits for work. I've been able to pick up a few new clothing pieces here and there, so it will be fun to start styling them as I get back into the swing of things. I found this top at Plato's Closet for about $5. If you have one of these near you, I recommend checking it out. You can find very nice pieces for not much money. Win win. 

Wednesday I got to spend half of the day at my own campus where I met my mentor plus some other great teachers for my school. They even made us this cute little gift basket that included some nice desk essentials - post-it notes, pens, highlighters, paper clips, and what not. It was very sweet, and I really don't even want to take it apart!

Thursday was all about getting my hair cut (see two pics above for a before picture). I had grown it long over two years ago and kept it that way. While I love long hair, my hair gets super thin when it's long, and it just didn't look too good anymore. I decided to go with something new, and it looks so much healthier this way. It's already so much easier to take care of, so I'm enjoying that as well!

Other than that, my week was not too exciting. This next week is all staff development again, but I hope that it will not be too long. I will also try to come up with some more interesting content to share at this blog! I know it's been a little slow, but I'm working on it. To leave you for now, here is a picture of my adorable niece!

Happy Sunday! :] 

Friday, August 8, 2014

2014-2015 Classroom Decor: Superheroes

As some of you already know, I have taken a job in a different district this year. I was at my previous school for my first two years of teaching, but it just was not a positive place for me to be working. Based on my own feelings, I knew that I needed to get somewhere different. While I would eventually like to work in the district where we live, I understand it might be difficult until I make some connections. Until then, I will now be working in the district that I attended school and graduated from, and I am thrilled to be back. As I begin new teach training on Monday (marking the official end to my summer), I decided to spend this week getting my classroom decorated and mostly put together. I had a lot of help from my parents and sister-in-law, too. I thought I would share some pictures and ideas to help out with my fellow teachers who might want some different decor ideas.

This year I decided on a superhero theme. I am teaching seventh grade, and with all of the new superhero movies out lately, it seemed like a great idea to incorporate something that they would enjoy. My parents helped a lot with these buildings. My dad drew and cut them, and my mom and sister-in-law helped me put them up on the wall. The original idea came from THIS picture on Pinterest.

I am not thrilled with the placement of my desk this year. When we got there, it was actually facing the back wall, so I knew that was not going to work. Since it has to stay in the back based on where my computer plugs in, I decided to turn it sideways so my back would never be to the students. Of course, one of the legs of the desk is broken, so the desk pretty much fell on my legs before my mom managed to grab it and help me put it back together.

It took quite a while to decide what I wanted to do with this bulliten board. It's attached to one of the white boards, but the projector screen will cover it whenever it is down (which in middle school, will be a lot). Since we have an AVID program that focuses on encouraging students early to plan to go to college, I decided to use this space to put up some college pendants left behind by the teacher previously in my classroom.

This is the side board, so I knew I wanted to dress it up a bit more since I probably would not write on it as much. The top is bulliten board, so I put up some superhero banner. On this one, I used posters that talk about root words, prefixes, and suffixes. I also added the banner on the bottom. On the front board, there is also superhero banner, but it has reading strategy  posters instead.

The bookshelf I bought for my first classroom ended up getting broken by my students last year, so I was worried I would have to spend the money on a new one. When I got to my new room though, there were already two metal ones like this. The other is empty, and will be used for textbooks, but here is my classroom library. This year I decided to label all of the books so that I could use a check out/in system if students wanted to borrow my books to read at home.

This is, by far, one of my favorite things in my classroom. I saw THIS picture on Pinterest, and decided I wanted to try to make it. However, my mom had a better idea. We have a friend that is amazingly talented. He made a Winnie the Pooh and Piglet for my parents grandchildren nursery, so we decided to have him make a Hulk for us, instead of making him out of tissue paper. He looks better than I had imagined, and I think that my students will love it. I also purchased and added the black table by the door for students to pick up assignments and turn in homework.

Well, that's the majority of the decor in my room. There are a few smaller things that cannot be seen in these pictures, but I don't want to bombard you all with a million classroom pictures. I still have quite a bit of organizing to do, but for now I am feeling pretty good about everything.

Monday, August 4, 2014

50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind

While looking through some blogs this morning, I found this list of questions. This blogger linked to the original list of questions, which can be found HERE. Since I am trying to get back into this blog, and I am not quite sure what to share yet, I thought that I would go ahead and try to answer these questions. Some of them are difficult and take a lot of thought, and that's what makes them so great. I would challenge you all to attempt them as well. Here we go, 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind: 

Q1. How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are? 
A: I have always been told that I have a pretty old soul. I like to use strong vocabulary, and I spend most of my free time reading. I care deeply for people, and a lot of times I struggle to get along with people my own age because I've always been a little more mature. Because of this, I would assume I was at least in my thirties, if not close to forty.

Q2. Which is worse, failing or never trying? 
A: I would say never trying is certainly worse. You never know how you will feel about something unless you give it a try. Sure, failing can be painful and difficult, but I feel it often encourages us to try harder to make something happen. Never trying could cause us to miss out on some wonderful things.

Q3: If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don't like and like so many things we don't do? 
A: This is so true! I guess we just try things because other people tell us to, and we can be highly affected by peer pressure. I think sometimes we are very nervous and skeptical to do things we might really like, too, something I still do not understand. I think we like the idea of things we don't do, since we can't be sure if we actually like them or not. 

Q4: When it's all said and done, will you have said more than you've done? 
A: I would like to think that I will have done more than I have said when everything is said and done. I work very hard to make sure that my students feel important and cared about, and I do like to think that makes an impact. I tend to put others before myself, which I think is a sign of doing more than saying, too.

Q5: What is the one thing you'd most like to change about the world? 
A: Abuse in any and every form. I see it so often at work, even if it's just emotional abuse, it's so horrible. Our world would be a much better place if everyone could just treat each other right. That is unfortunately not the case, though.

Q6: If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
A: Oh, this is such a good question. How much easier would things be if we could pay for things with happiness? Spending time with my family would be the best kind of work for me, if we are getting paid in happiness. There is nothing better than simply spending time with the people that we care about most.

Q7: Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
A: At the moment, I am a little unsure. I want to love what I'm doing, and I strongly believe in what I'm doing, but it has not been what I had hoped for, either. I do hope that being somewhere different and new will change these feelings, though.

Q8: If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
A: I would stop spending so much time complaining about how bored I am, and force myself to get up and actually do things. Time would go so quickly (it already does), and I would figure out how to live each day to the fullest more than I do now.

Q9: To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
A: Uh, to a decent degree, I suppose. I had to choose my friends, my focuses, my priorities. If I would go to college, what I would study, how hard I would work to get a job with my degree. I would say that I have had quite a bit of control over where my life has gone.

Q10: Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
A: Eek, both? I am really OCD about doing things the right way most of the time, if I am being honest. However, I also find it very important to make sure I am doing the right things. This is tricky, I still choose both. There are no wrong or right answers, so that can't be cheating!

Q11: You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
A: I would definitely stand up for my friend that they are talking about. This is a big part of why I don't have a lot of female friends my own age, honestly. I can't stand the drama and gossip, and I try to stay away from it as much as possible. 

Q12: If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Stay innocent and young for as long as possible. Life gets hard, so cherish the moments where it can be easy for awhile.

Q13: Would you break the law to save a loved one?
A: Yup. I know that is probably wrong, too. I would do just about anything for someone I love (of course, I would prefer to do so without breaking the law!). 

Q14: Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
A: Um, I don't think so? I have seen a whole lot of creativity, but I don't think that I have really seen much insanity at this point...not that I can remember, at least.

Q15: What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
A: Um, I guess read? I am pretty strict about some things when I read. I can't stop in the middle of a chapter, so even if dinner is ready or something, I have to finish a chapter before I can go eat. I also cannot stop reading a book before it's done, no matter how much I dislike it. It's something that drives me crazy if I try to. I guess it's a bit of OCD or anxiety or something. 

Q16: How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
A: Everyone is different, and we all enjoy different things. Happiness is different for everyone. I can easily lay around and read a contemporary love story and be completely happy, but my husband has to be active and busy to be happy. Everyone is different. 

Q17: What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
A: Applying for my Master's degree. I have already passed my GRE and my scores were good, but I'm worried about applying to graduate school. I'm worried I will pick the wrong major and it will hold me back in the future.

Q18: Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
A: Um, yes. It's something a bit personal, and that I need to get over, though those things aren't always easy. I am working on it, though. 

Q19: If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
A: I think that it would be wonderful to live in London. It seems so lovely, and everyone seems so nice and social there. I am sure I would be happy in a couple different states, too. Maybe Colorado, it would be nice to have the snowy mountains and everything. 

Q20: Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
A: If I am by myself, then yes I will press it more than once. I know that it doesn't make it faster, but I'm still impatient. When I'm with other people I only press it once though because I don't want them judging me for being so impatient! 

Q21: Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
A: Definitely a worried genius. I don't think I could be a simpleton, even if I was a joyful one. I love to learn, and would probably continue to always take college courses if I could afford to do so. I am a natural worries, something I get from my family, so it would not be too different than normal (I'd just be a genius, no big deal). 

Q22: Why are you, you?
A: Everything that I have done/decided throughout my life has made me who I am. I am who I am because of the choices I have made.

Q23: Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
A: I like to think so. I always put others ahead of myself, even when they might not deserve it. Actually, I have helped out a lot of friends when they have not deserved it. I have not always had the best of luck with friends, and I guess I always assumed this was better than not having any friends at all (this was clearly a wrong thought, though). 

Q24: Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
A: When a good friend moves away. I have experienced both, and this one is definitely worse. Technically, I guess I'm the one who moved because she lived by our college and I did not, but it's hard to be so far from someone you're so close to. 

Q25: What are you most grateful for?
A: Family. 

Q26: Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
A: Wow, this is really, really tough. I wouldn't want to experience either of these. I guess I would rather lose all of my old ones because then I have all of the future to make new ones. It would still be upsetting, though.

Q27: Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
A: I don't believe so. It seems that you have to look at all possibilities before deciding what is really the truth. I think that is human nature. It's at least that way for me. 

Q28: Has your greatest fear ever come true?
A: No.

Q29: Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
A: Um, no, I can't really remember any specific time 5 years ago when I was that upset. I guess that would mean that it definitely doesn't matter now. 

Q30: What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
A: Anytime spent at my grandma's house. I used to love playing with the magnets on her fridge (she used to have dozens of them on there!). She and I had a very close relationship, and now that she is gone it makes those memories even more special to me. 

Q31: At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
A: I think I have felt that way for this summer, just because it was a much needed break. Now I'm definitely not feeling it. I'm just feeling quite a bit of stress, actually. :/ 

Q32: If not now, then when?
A: Now. Definitely now.

Q33: If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
A: It feels like everything, but I know that's not true and very dramatic. There isn't much to lose, really, but I'm still afraid of it. It's something that I need to work on.

Q34: Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
A: I feel like my husband and I can do this all of the time, actually. We can just sit together, without talking, and it will make for wonderful moments. I don't think that you always have to be talking in order to enjoy time with someone you care about. 

Q35: Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
A: I don't talk about religion on the Internet. It makes for a lot of drama. 

Q36: Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
A: No, I don't think so. We all have good and evil in us, and it's out personal choices that decide which way we go and what we do. I feel like circumstances can change how someone reacts, too, so it could easily switch from one to the other without much warning. 

Q37: If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
A: This is tough, but probably not. I would probably take time off once I have kids, but I don't think that I could ever stop working completely. I think that I would be way too bored sitting around home every day and what not. It's not for me.

Q38: Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
A: More work that I actually enjoy doing. I like to be doing something instead of just sitting around because then I become incredibly lazy, which is not something I should let happen as much as I do.

Q39: Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
A: This day, a little bit. The summer did drag on a bit, though now I'm dreading that it is almost over. I guess that is how it works every summer once I'm on break, though. There were quite a few days this summer that I was pretty bored, though, so the days do feel much the same.

Q40: When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
A: I tend to go into things pretty blindly when I believe that they will work or have positive outcomes. I do this with my work all of the time, as I want to try to do whatever I can to make things the best for my students. Sometimes this means trying new things that scare me.

Q41: If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
A: Yikes, that's a very sad thing to think about. I would get all of my family together and spend the day with all of them together, that way I would have a chance to spend time with most of the people that I love.

Q42: Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
A: Absolutely not. There is more to life than looks and fame. 

Q43: What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
A: Being Alive = breathing/heart beating
Truly Living = making a positive impact with what you do. 

Q44: When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
A: It's always time to just do what's right, at least I believe so.

Q45: If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
A: Because we're told that it's horrible to make mistakes, instead of being told that it's okay to do so as long as you learn something from them.

Q46: What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
A: Everything. I worry way too much about what people think of me, which is sad. I am sure things would be very, very different for me.

Q47: When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
A: Um, probably the other day when I was working out. I have to focus on the way I breathe when I work out since I get out of breath so easily. 

Q48: What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
A: My husband, family, Sirius, friends, my students - I try to do things every day to show this love, even if it's simply telling them "I love you." 

Q49: In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
A: I might, this weekend was a busy one in which we spent every evening/night with family. Those are usually my favorite times, so I am sure that I will at least remember them a little bit.

Q50: Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
A: I think that I need to be better about making them for myself. It's a work in progress.

Whew, that was long! While I enjoyed it, I'm also glad to have finally made it through! If you bothered to read through all of these, then I applaud you! 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Have Returned!

Hello all! I have returned! :] I am so sorry that I was so awful about keeping up with this blog. In early February I decided to finally start a book blog like I had been wanting to for a very long time, so all of my focus has been there since that point. However, I have quickly realized that I need to have a place to talk about non-bookish things as well. What better place than a blog that I have already created and enjoyed? I have updated the background and made it look better (at least in my opinion), so I'm ready to roll.

Here I plan to share things about my personal life, some fashion and makeup posts, things about teaching and how my school year is going, and other random things I decide I might want to share. I would love for you to follow along as we see where life takes me from this point forward. Here's to blogging about the random things that I enjoy! :]