Wishing for…

ID-10023106

SNOW!
(image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)

We are supposed to get somewhere between 1 and 3 inches of snow over night.  I really hate when there is snow, but not a lot.  If it snows, I want enough to cancel school!  I am sure it will snow, but I am also sure there will not be enough to cancel school.  Boo!  At that point it just becomes a nuisance and makes it impossible for me to run in the mornings.

Today was actually a fun, relaxing day at school.  We did holiday stations, which means that all the 2nd graders mixed up into groups and went from one station to another station, doing fun activities.  I made an ornament in my room with the groups.  There was a room with partner reading, a movie, board games, computer games, Lexia (reading games on the computer), and reindeer games in the gym.  I think the kiddos enjoyed the fun, and I really enjoy getting to work with all of the 2nd graders.

These two weeks before break are absolutely crazy!  The amount of end of the quarter assessing that we have to get done in two weeks is insane.  It is exhausting for the kids to be assessed so much, and exhausting for the teachers, as many of the assessments have to be done one-on-one.  Here is a run down of assessments I have to get done in the last two weeks of school:

MAP reading (takes an hour to an hour and a half– can be done whole group)
MAP math (same as MAP reading)
DIBELS (takes about 7 minutes per child– can only be done one-on-one)
LARRC assessments (only done on 6 students.  Takes about 10-15 minutes per child and can only be done one-on-one)
Sight words (Assess 224 sight words for each child.  Takes about 15 minutes per child and can only be done one-on-one)
DIBELS math (Done whole group, only takes about 15 minutes)
Math chapter test (Done whole group.  Takes about 30 minutes)

If you think about the fact that I have 21 students, and I have to assess about 15 of them (other teachers help with 6 of them), it comes out to a lot of assessing that has to be done one-on-one.  For DIBELS, we have a sub for an hour and a half that we assess.  That’s great, except that you end up giving the sub work that is not necessarily what you would do.

My LARRC assessments are for the program I am piloting.  Another 2nd grade teacher also has to do it.  This means about an hour out of one of my days to get it done.  We put in a movie, so we can pull kiddos out one at a time.

Sight words end up being over 2 hours of assessing, but it can be broken up into smaller chunks.  This has been getting done while my kiddos silent read or partner read.

On days that we do MAP assessing, brains are fried, so activities are pretty light and fun.

Add into all of this: a speaker (hour and a half out of a day), a full day field trip (arranged by the PE teacher), a pajama day earned by students (do not try to assess on pajama days… it does not go well), a music program later this week, winter workshop shopping for the kids, and everything else that needs to be taught by the end of the quarter, and you have one hectic two week period.

I am counting down until break, and it’s mainly so that we can have a semi-normal schedule back in January.  If you think the crafts and movies are just to get the teachers and kiddos through the week, that is part of it.  The other part you don’t see is the amount of assessing that is going on behind the scenes.  I think assessing is a necessary evil, but I sure hate how much time and energy it sucks out of teaching time and learning time.

Random Ramblings

Looking at the poll that I posted yesterday, it appears that most of the people who read this blog (or at least most of the ones who voted) mainly like posts about my daily life.  That should seem easy enough, but I feel that I get redundant or boring with those posts.  I did get votes for each type of post, so it sounds like I will just keep chugging along with how I have been doing things all along.

There isn’t much to write about on a day to day basis, as my life is not nearly as exciting as you would expect.  In fact here is a picture of what is going on over here at the moment:

*I just finished balancing our checkbook.  As normal, we are about $75 over budget.  This will be taken care of, as part of it was Bandit’s vet bill.  The dogs get money in their “long term savings account” (aka yearly shots, meds, etc.) in about a week.  I just won’t deposit their $82 for the month, and we are covered.

*Christmas shopping is done.  I have about 75% of it all wrapped.  I started with a lot of enthusiasm, and that wore down quite quickly.

*I made pasta toss for dinner tonight.  I was very close to just eating out, but I knew in the back of my mind that I had a thawed chicken breast ready to go in the fridge, and really didn’t have an actual reason to skip out on it.

*The kitchen has been cleaned up.  We keep having too many dishes to fit in the dishwasher each night; therefore, we end up with a few on the counter waiting for the next round.  It bugs me that there are always dirty dishes.  But apparently it doesn’t bug me enough because I don’t plan to hand wash them.

*Rose is currently lying down in a dog bed that is meant for a much smaller dog.

*Bandit is sprawled out all alone on the couch, with plenty of room for Rose, if she wanted to join him.

*Miss C is lying in her crib, sucking her thumb, but not sleeping.  She enjoys unzipping her jammies at night, so we now have to put a safety pin on the track of the zipper, on the inside of her jammies, so she does not unzip them or take them off.

*I haven’t run in 3 days.  I have set my alarm to wake up early the past two mornings, but I went back to sleep instead.

*I cut about 4 inches off my hair on Friday (well, not me personally, I went to someone to have it done), and either no one noticed or no one thinks it looks good.  I have only had 3 people mention anything about it.  This is bothering me much more than it should.

*I am so beyond ready for this week to be over with.  The kids are bouncing off the walls, and I am just over it.  I am tired of the assessing that goes with the end of the quarter.  I am tired of the disaster that is my desk.  I am tired of herding cats.

*I honestly  have the best friends ever.  Coffee with two very wonderful friends this afternoon was so good for my soul.  I need that more often.

I am sure there is much more happening, but that is a bit of what went through my brain this evening while my fingers were on the keyboard.  I really need to snap out of my gloomy mood that I have been in lately.  That is usually my clue that I really do NEED to run tomorrow.  Wish me luck, and let’s hope I don’t just turn off my alarm when it screams at me in the morning.

Time

ID-10055125

(photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)

I seriously can’t believe it is halfway through December.  Time is just flying by.

It seems like just yesterday I did a recap of my November goals.  I honestly haven’t even thought of goals for December, and at this point I probably just need to start thinking about new year’s resolutions (my favorite time of year)!

Things are still going well, but I just can’t seem to keep up with my to-do list.  By the time I have a moment in the evenings, I am exhausted and all I want to do is veg out.  I have gotten quite a few things done this evening, but I am up later than I wanted to be.  I really wanted to get up and run in the morning, as I have not run since Saturday, but between being tired and the horrendous wind happening outside, it may be a good day to try an indoor cardio workout.

I did manage to get some laundry done and get the kitchen cleaned (minus the dishes that couldn’t fit in the dishwasher).  I also *finally* got our fall decorations put away.  Yes, mid-December and we still had pumpkins hanging around the house.  I am not getting out Christmas decorations this year, and I am quite happy that I don’t have to deal with putting them back.

Well, hopefully I can find some time later this week to write an interesting post.  I need to update you on some financial things, and I would like to get into more of a routine of my blogging.

In order to help me figure out my blogging routine and what I want to focus on, please take a moment to respond to my poll.  If there is any extra information you would like to add, feel free to leave it in a comment.  Thanks!

Busy

Today I…

*Got up early and ran 2 miles
*Got to work an hour early and still didn’t feel ready for the day
*Got a lovely gift from a co-worker: a beautiful dozen farm-fresh eggs (which I left at school)
*Repeated myself a billion times
*Tried to remain calm in the face of children brimming over with holiday excitement
*Did not use my plan time as effectively as I should have
*Forgot to pick up milk in the town I work in, so I had to take Miss C out in the cold
*Am happy I even remembered that I needed to pick up milk
*Started a load of laundry as soon as we got home
*Tried a new recipe and actually had some success with it
*Cleaned up the kitchen while Miss C played after dinner
*Bathed the munchkin
*Folded a load of clothes while the munchkin played in the bath
*Snuggled with Miss C and Bandit during Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
*Completely fell asleep while snuggling during Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
*Read a story with Miss C before “tucking her in” (She doesn’t lie down when you put her in her crib.  She just wants to stand… she will lie down when she is ready.)
*Sectioned out and put some meat in the freezer so it wouldn’t go bad (I have meant to do this each evening since Sunday)
*”Lesson Planned” for next week
*And now I have blogged for the evening

Thank You

ID-100291413

I don’t know if you have ever seen Jimmy Fallon’s clip on his show called “Thank You Notes.”  They are humorous little notes that he writes as thank yous to miscellaneous people, things, or places.  They are quite funny!  Here is a link to a clip if you have never seen them before.

Anyways, I feel like I need to write a few thank you notes this evening… Here we go!  (I apologize up front that they will not be as funny as Jimmy’s.)

Dear Crock Pot,
Thank you for all of your hard work all day.  It is so lovely to come home to a house smelling of a wonderful dinner and knowing that I don’t have to cook!

Dear Kohl’s,
Thank you for sending me $10 coupons all the time.  I just got another one in the mail.  It makes me so happy that I don’t have to spend a certain amount to be able to use it.  I can use it on anything that is at least $10.  I can’t wait to stop by soon!

Dear Miss C,
Thank you for being such a light in my life.  After a grumpy day a work, it was so nice to come home and see your smile, hear your laugh, and play with you.  You make my heart sing!

Dear Christmas,
Thank you for being such an awesome holiday!  I love your real meaning, and all the extra fun that comes with you as well.  I just have one request: Could you get here a little quicker?  The kids in my class are very distracted by your impending arrival.  Thanks!

I am sure there are more, and if I come up with anymore, I will share!

Do you have any thank you notes that need to be written?

Sunday Night Chit-Chat

e586626c8bea0939727470b5254a6e69

Found this verse on Pinterest and I love it!  I am a worry-wart!  I am always worried that something bad will happen or something will go wrong.  This is not good for my brain or for my life.  I need to stop worrying about what could happen and focus on what is happening right now.

It has been a while, but here is my chit-chat for today!

What are you…

Working on? This evening I spent a lot of time working on our budget.  I got our Christmas budget finalized, which feels good.  I also got January’s budget done (in pencil of course).  I also worked on our debt repayment plan.  We should be debt-free (aside from our mortgage) in May of 2018!  We will be using the snowball method, made popular by Dave Ramsey.

Reading? Nothing really.  I did get all my blog reading caught up last night.  Now I am sure I have some to catch up on tonight, but it shouldn’t take too long.

Cooking/Baking? Tonight I made French Dip sandwiches in the crock pot.  Last night I successfully baked my first loaf of banana bread.  I have tried to make it before, but I failed miserably.  This time it went well and Miss C loves it!

Looking forward to next week? I think I am going to try and get my hair cut sometime next week.  It desperately needs to happen, and I want to get it done before things get really crazy with holiday stuff.

Are you hoping to accomplish today? Well, I was hoping to get laundry done, but I think I will still have 2 loads to go by the time I go to bed.  I did get through quite a bit, so that is a plus!

Are you watching? Nothing right now.  Hubs is watching some survival show, but I am standing at the counter in the kitchen so I can’t really see the tv.

Are you thinking about? That I would like to go to bed in about an hour so I can get up and run, but I have so much lesson planning to get done.  I guess this is my attempt to put off planning a little bit longer.

Wearing today? Skinny jeans, a long, striped sweater, knee high brown boots.  Typically on Sundays I stick to my sweats, but since I went out to lunch with a friend, I made myself look presentable.

There ya have it!  If you want to join, answer in the comment section, or you can link up your blog at Carla’s!

Update

ID-10010665

I don’t even know where time has gone.  I know I have been a little hit or miss with the blogging, but I am finally getting over the cold/cough/lost voice/etc. that has keep me down and out for about 2 weeks.  I am happy to say that I am back to running.  It killed me not to run this whole time.  I did force myself to go out last weekend because we had such beautiful weather, but I barely made it a mile and a half, and was coughing so hard the whole time.

It is still pretty chilly around here, although it has been milder than it was a few a weeks ago.  It rained most of the day yesterday, so I ended up running on my parents’ treadmill.  I used to love running on a treadmill, but I was not enjoying it as much as I have in the past.  The treadmill and my running app were not even close to having the same data.  According to the treadmill I barely made it over 2 miles.  My running app had me at 2.83 miles.  Either way, I was happy to know that I hadn’t lost all of my distance that I had built up over the past 6 weeks.

Today I ran 2.93 miles, and I am happy to say that I only stopped to walk twice, and both times it was less than 30 seconds.  Apparently our house is at the top of a hill.  It doesn’t matter which way I end my run, I end running up a hill.  I haven’t quite been able to conquer the hill, which is what killed me at the end of my run today, and forced me to walk both times.  I did manage to run straight for about 2.75 miles.  I never imagined that I would be able to do that!  I have actually found that the first mile is the worst for me.  If I can trudge through the first mile, the rest of the time I am on autopilot.  I am getting so close to that 5K distance!

Today I did some more Christmas shopping, along with some grocery shopping.  I stocked up on a few items, and found some really good deals.  I ended up going to Target for everything, because they had 10% off their generic brand food using the Cartwheel app.  I haven’t taken a tally of everything and how much I saved, but I think I did pretty well.  I was also able to stack some savings to get some good deals!

Again, I haven’t added it all up or figured out how much was grocery shopping versus how much was gifts and other items, but I will try to do that tomorrow.  I did end up raking in over $10 in rebates on iBotta.  The awesome thing about that is this month if you get $10 in rebates, they give you an additional $10.  That means that just today I got over $20 from iBotta.  I am over $40 on that app that I can put into our paypal account!  Woo-hoo!

Another awesome deal was that I had a coupon for save $10 on a purchase of $150 or more, so I got to use that today as well!  And because my total was over $75, I got a coupon for 20% an entire purchase next week.  I don’t think I need anything else from Target this coming week, so I will pass the coupon on to my mom, who will probably be able to use it.  As always, my red card (which is linked to our checking account… no credit card for us to pay off!) saved us an additional 5%!

So that is a quick update for my loyal readers.  December is just crazy busy, and I honestly don’t even know if I am going to be setting any goals for this month.  The new year is coming, and that is always a big goal setting time for me!  I may just start focusing on what I want to try and accomplish in the coming year.

I hope you are having a great weekend!

Christmas Budget

ID-10019686

Christmas spending is underway!  I have never done much online shopping, especially for Christmas, but it seems like that has been a big draw for me this year.

To bring up up to speed, we have been putting $75 away each month since January.  We have put it in a special savings account, that is not easily accessed.  This brought our budget for Christmas to $900.  This year we are going to be traveling for the holidays, so we knew that travel expenses had to come out of this budget.

Right now we know our hotel expense will be $220 (we are staying for two nights).
Here is how the rest of our budget seems to be playing out:

Miss C (Shopping is done): $64
Friends: $50
My Co-workers: $68
Hubs’ Co-workers: $10
My Secret Santa: $20
Parents (both sides): $125
Nieces and Nephews: $90

Total: $422

If you are keeping up, that leaves us $258.  I also budgeted an additional $250 just in the month of December for additional travel expenses (gas, food, etc.)  That means we have over $500 still!  That is crazy!  I really thought we were going to be stretching to stay under budget.  I have been able to find relatively frugal gifts for Miss C, friends, and family.  I did buy one item for myself so far (it was $17).  I think that is going to be my hardest struggle.  I have a few things on my wish list, but I am really trying my hardest to be good and not spend on myself.

As far as gifts for us, Hubs and I are asking for money.  We would like to buy a new microwave.  I think we will be able to do that with the money we receive from family.  We would also like to get a treadmill.  I have some money on a gift card from the program I am piloting.  I haven’t spent any of it.  We should have another payment ($200) coming this month.  That will bring the amount up to $300.  If we continue to stay under budget, then the extra money from Christmas along with the $300, should be more than enough to get a treadmill!  We don’t need anything state of the art… just something to run on.

So far, so good!

How is your Christmas budget looking?

November Goals Recap

ID-100200994

I cannot believe December is here!  Is it just me, or has this year FLOWN by?  I honestly am just in awe that it is almost 2015.  Crazy!

Now that it is a new month, it is time for a recap of the last month.  I honestly haven’t made goals for December, as this month is always so busy.

Finances

Balance checkbook each evening- I think I have done pretty well with this.  The checkbook is currently up to date, and I haven’t had to spend a long time going back over statements to get it that way.  I really have been trying to write down expenses as soon as it happens.
Put $150  into savings (not including Christmas savings and vet savings)- Done!  We are almost to our goal.  We do have some of it earmarked for a Christmas gift for Hubs, so it wont’ stay as high as it is now.  I am really looking forward to December, though, because it is our first month of being able to save our newly freed-up money.  Last month we used it for new tires, but this month it is going towards debt repayment and into savings for a down payment for a car for me someday!

Marriage

One date night/afternoon this month- Hasn’t happened.  I have been tossing around some ideas in my  brain about a date night for December.  I just need to get the details figured out.

Family

Complete Ali Edwards “Week in the Life” Challenge – Nope.  I honestly forgot about this one, and am not as interested in completing it at this point.  Maybe some other time.

Health

Continue Couch to 5K program- I was rocking this goal until about a week ago… then I got sick :(  (Which is why I have been absent from the blog for a while.)  I am still suffering from an annoying cough.  I did run a little bit this past Saturday because it was so nice, but I am not completely healthy enough to get out there in frigid weather at this point.
Complete Tone Up For Turkey Challenge (focus on guns, buns, and abs)- Again, the sickness struck me down on this one.  Boo being sick!
Drink 4 cups of water a day- I did not do well tracking this one, but I am sure I did not succeed at this.  
Limit sugar intake- I was pretty proud of myself on this one… until Thanksgiving break.  Then everything went downhill.  I am hoping to jump back in on this one, as I do know I need to get better with my eating.

Recreation

Blog 5x a week- I did ok with this until I got sick.  Seriously, this sickness rendered me useless!
Finish reading the book I started last month- Haven’t even looked at it.
Daily, simple journaling in my planner- I haven’t done the journaling I set out to do, but I did start a gratitude journal.  I have stuck with the gratitude journal and am really enjoying it!  I write down 3 things each night that I am thankful for from the day.  I am trying not to repeat anything and am trying to get pretty specific.

Home

Start cleaning schedule and keep up with it- Did not happen.
Stay on top of laundry for the month- I think I did ok with this one.  I did get behind for a while, but I am trying to do at least one load a day.  I got one load folded earlier today, and now I am down to having 2 loads to fold.  I just have to find the motivation to do it.

So, I think I did ok with my goals.  This is actually one of my more successful months.  I think most of my goals were reasonable, which made them easier to reach.  I need to work on a list of goals for this month.  Wish me luck!

Sunday Cents

ID-10094404

Well, I had a lovely post about saving money all ready to go last night, and then it disappeared into the deep, dark interwebs, never to be heard from again.  I could have rewritten it, but I just didn’t feel up to it.  I figured I would talk about finances today, so I would just weave the two posts together.

I have been lucky enough to catch a few breaks this past week with saving money and the upcoming holidays.  Since I have some of the best friends ever, we have all decided that instead of giving gifts, we are all just going to get together and have a lunch date.  This will end up saving us about $75-$100, since I would have been spending about $15-$20 on 5 individuals.  I will instead have to just spend about $20 on a meal for myself.

Another way I have been able to save some money is by using our Pampers Rewards to get 50 free photo cards from Shutterfly.  If you are not familiar with Pampers Rewards, each Pampers item you buy (wipes and diapers) there is a code on it that you can enter online.  You then earn points that you can trade in for different items.  Each year I save them up and use them for our Christmas cards.  I also do want to address the issue of brand loyalty here.  I realize there are cheaper diapers out there, but we have not found any that fit Miss C as well as Pampers do.  Because of this, we have stuck with them.

Finally I am going to be able to cash in two of my rebate apps.  I have about $40 to cash in.  $20 will come in a check form, and the other $20 I will deposit into our Paypal account.  I don’t have this $40 earmarked for anything, but will probably use it for travel expenses or gift expenses when we need it.

Today I was able to *almost* stay on budget with our groceries.  I ended up going over by $0.31.  I think that is pretty good considering how expensive groceries have gotten recently.  I would have stayed on budget, but there were a few deals that were too good to pass up.  Here are my best ones:

Schick Disposable Razors (x2)
Original Cost: $8.49 (x2 = $16.98)
On Sale: $6.49 (x2 = $12.98)
e-Coupon: BOGO: -$6.49
Final Cost: $6.49
Total Savings: $10.49

3 lb Bags of Tyson Frozen Chicken Breasts (x2)
Original Cost: $12.99 (x2 = $25.98)
On Sale: $4.98 (x2 = $9.96)
Final Cost: $9.96
Total Savings: $16.02

Cinnamon Toast Crunch (x2)
Original Cost: $3.19 (x2 = $6.38)
On Sale: $2.99 (x2 = 5.98)
Super Deal: Buy 2, save $3.00
Final Cost: $2.98
Total Savings: $3.40

I also got a couple of other good deals.  Milk was on sale 2/$5.  Milk is usually $3.54 each, so I saved $2.08.  Not too bad, when you consider we go through about 2 gallons a week around here.  I was also able to stack some sales and e-coupons with rebates from my apps.  I did this with trash bags and orange juice.  Before rebates I ended up saving $2.58, then I got an additional $2.00 from iBotta.  Not too shabby!

I have to say that I was pretty darn proud of being so close to staying under budget!  The bags of chicken were not on my list, but everything else was.  If I wouldn’t have bought those, then I would have been under budget.  But honestly, I couldn’t pass up a savings of over $15.00 on something that we will definitely use.  Thank goodness for our deep freeze in the basement!  We now have 3 bags of frozen chicken, all bought on sale.  We shouldn’t have to buy chicken any time soon!

Did you find any good deals today?