14 in 2014... it just keeps getting better

2012- I got engaged to my high school sweetheart
2013- We tied the knot
2014- So many awesome things happened and special news that will carry into 2015... I can't wait! But first, a look back at this incredible year

It hasn't been until recently when I think about major milestones and daily occurrences over the last few years and my attitude about them. When I think about how amazing some of those have been, I can't help but imagine all the milestones yet to come, and it makes me excited to live in the present, but look forward to the future. 

Scarves- any kind of scarves... infinity, fashion, knitted- you name it, I wear it. I feel like it can add so much to an outfit and can be used with some many other options... definitely my go-to accessory.

I really don't have a favorite movie. Me and movies- don't really mesh. I typically get bored too fast so I basically just like to watch chick flicks from the 2000s where I can recite it word-for-word. But, if it has to be during this year, I'd say Mockingjay- it was better than I expected.

Don't hate me... but I'm a little obsessed with anything reality. It's not a secret amongst my friends and family and I no longer try to deny it. But I thoroughly enjoyed Are You The One? on MTV. Great mix of drama and love and silliness. My other go-to-watch-every-night is Law and Order: SVU- Oliva is my TV role model.

Ooooo A favorite I discovered this year was Pizzaria Lola on Xerxes in Minneapolis/Richfield area. The atmosphere, the adorable mis-matched plates and of course the food is all top-notch. SO! Good! Especially the chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with salt and a shot of milk. All day.

It has to be food! I finally feel like I'm creeping a bit out of my picky shell and trying some new foods and loving them! Don't get me wrong- I'm still picky and judge foods based on how they look, but I'm slowly getting better. Some of my new discoveries...

I love goat cheese now, especially this garlic and herb version from La Bonne Vie. And who knew!? Guacamole is actually very delicious, especially when it's on my burrito bowl from Chipotle. This homemade version was delicious too. Check out Natasha's Kitchen's version!

I got THE BEST gift on Christmas Eve this year.
My sister and brother-in-law are expecting IDENTICAL twins! I'm going to be an aunt for the first time ever! Now I'm just sending oodles and oodles of prayers to keep them all safe while still trying to contain my crazy excitement over this news! Let's just say I screamed and cried for a very long time (all due to happiness of course).

I pinned quite often- typically if I was bored. So I found a lot of things I liked... it just depends on the topic. Here are a few:
It was this lesson that really helped shift both mine and my students thoughts on inferring and metacognition (and inspired me to replicate it to fit my classroom needs here). It also launched this "I need to do what's best for my students" drive within to make more adjustments, include more hands-on activities, and praise the crap out of my students to motivate them and help them grow.
After visiting Italy, I actually started to like tomatoes. Now, tomatoes in Italy are INSANELY good. Nothing compared to ones here in my little opinion. But this recipe was a great fix when I was missing those Italian tomatoes. 

I  have yet to do this- but it's a plan I have once I get a Cameo cutter- someday.

Hmmm that's hard. Perhaps this one... because it was an impromptu lesson that turned out really great and is applicable to lots of things/content areas. Higher order thinking, nothing fancy, 100% kid created (ok 95%- I had copies made of the circles and the ribbons for them to cut out that I made over my prep).

It was probably the fact that we saved up enough money to bite the bullet and buy a brand new car! I love driving it and it gives me piece of mind knowing that is reliable.

I can't just pick one- our entire Italian getaway complete with over 500 photos are all tied. Should I upload them all here? No? Ok, well here is one photo from each of the amazing cities we visited during our late honeymoon this year.
Island of Capri


Lake Garda


Porto Venere




Cinque Terre

See number 4. I'll never forget this trip and am so thankful I got to spend this quality time with my husband as we checked this major bucket list item off of our list. Also, we got to celebrate 9 couples get married this year... so much love, so many fun memories with friends and families!

Me. I'm focusing on me.  I'd like to start taking care of myself more. Selfish huh? Physically, I need to change. I'm going to work on meal prepping and planning more. I'm running in my first ever race (a 7K) in March. Mentally, I need to relax. Stop sweating the small stuff- think before I react- and just chill. Emotionally, I need to make time for things that matter most. As much as I love my job, I need to invest that same amount (and even more) energy into my relationships. I'm hoping 2015 will be the year when I can really start seeing these changes and the pay-off of putting energy into myself.


I want to be present. From my work, to my health choices, to my relationships. With purpose. And passion. My 3 P's for the year.

Here's to 2015- I can't wait. 



Snow Day 2014...a.k.a. Straight up Exhaustion

So. Winter break is finally here! I had to go strong all the way through the 23rd of December people! It was hard, but I tried to make it as fun as possible since we rarely get days like this. The focus wasn't so much on academics, but more "social skills" (or at least that is how I tried to play it). I scoured the world of Pinterest to find some Minute to Win it games to play and renamed them for our Snow Day theme. Check 'em out below!

Here was our game list. I did this all using SMART Notebook so I linked each game to game details with the snowflake.

Once I clicked the snowflake, we came up to the game details which included materials and task. I did this so that students could see that they can play these types of games at home by searching their house for similar items. I also added a timer for each game to keep track of the minute. I added our CARES acronym for each game and we discussed what each of the CARES would look like/sound like/feel like during that game.

Some games, like Do You Wanna Draw a Snowman, I added "requirements" that they needed to have in order for it to be complete. This one showed what parts to a snowman they had to include.

What did these games look like? Take a look below!

This game required me to spend the most $, but it was one of my favorites to play and watch. However, the Dollar Tree still made it very affordable, and I can reuse all the materials for other things. For this game, students had to build an 'iceberg' out of plastic cups. They had to build it on top of a floating bowl. The goal was 5 cups.

 No one got it- including me. So I let them problem solve/engineer a bit. I told them they could remove one item (the bowl or the basin of water) and try to complete the challenge. I also said they could flip the bowl over and/or change the way they stacked the cups. After this, they all found a way to get all 5 cups stacked. It was a great game for teamwork and communication!

I had to have a Frozen reference! For this game, they simply had to draw a snowman on their plate. Catch was, they had to keep the plate on the top of their head and had to include certain snowman elements (see above). We did it once on our own and then we got with a partner and they tried to direct us. Snowman turned out better when we had help, but no one completed the challenge with their partner. 

We put the plates down on our desk and did a gallery walk to see how everyone did. It was really funny to see everyone's drawings!

This was a great game because it involved strategy. For some, it proved pretty easy, for others- a challenge! The goal was to blow (using a straw) 3 snowballs (cotton balls) across their desk and into a cup taped to the side in under a minute. I put two cups on each set of desk for more options.

I'd say only a handful completed it, but all had fun trying!

This was the favorite of the group. I think it's because they got to throw things. But it was very simple and allowed me to reuse materials from other games. This was a partner game where one was the thrower and one was the catcher. They had 60 seconds to try to get as many snowballs (cotton balls) into the cup on their partners head. It was non-stop laughs!

This game was great because students could set how much they wanted to be challenged- they moved farther back to challenge themselves or closer if they were getting upset.

This one was a quicky! I cut out some snowflakes out of tissue paper and reused the plates from the "Do You Wanna Draw a Snowman?" game. The snowflakes were easy to cut as I just opened the tissue paper pack and cut once and got 10 snowflakes! The object of this game was just to get your snowflake from one end of the room to the other by just fanning it with your plate in under 60 seconds. We did another challenge where they had to keep their snowflake off the ground as well for 60 seconds.

By the end of the games, energy levels were dropping and I was exhausted. Luckily- it was time for them to go to their intervention time and then to P.E. before coming back and doing our book exchange!

I wrapped up 25 books that I bought through Scholastic Book Clubs and we played a couple exchanging games before they got to open them up. They could either keep their book or try to trade with someone else. All seemed pleased with their book choice, although there was some complaining that their favorite series wasn't included. EVEN AFTER WE TALKED ABOUT BEING GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE GET! We talked about getting gifts. We did our classroom mantra- "You get what you get, and you appreciate it." I even shared how excited I was to give them a new book and I'd write a little message in their book while they watched Frozen. And we still had a complainer (and yes, it really was just one kid that is standing out). I have to be honest- it was a little disheartening. The large majority were grateful- one boy in particular could not stop hugging his book he got. It did make me think of changes to next year... I'm leaning towards creating a gift and giving it as opposed to receiving one- we'll see. I also made them some "Snow Dough" from this recipe here thanks to Tara's suggestion

Lastly, we made some "Snowman Soup" to take home while watching Frozen and then called it a day. We had some great moments and lots of fun together on our last day before break. Now- I'm off to continue to enjoy mine!


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