January: After Holidays Slump

2020 has just begun. January is barely half way and how is it everywhere I go teachers are burned out or in a slump?! We just had a break. This post is sort of one big question….thoughts in my head this week.

Is it the break?

Is being off for almost two weeks…or in some schools actually two weeks, just to much? Is it like when you oversleep too much and wake up feeling like crap? I am not sure. I think most teacher friends were trying to rest, relax and recharge.

Of course the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s was part of the time off, so maybe it isn’t such a relaxing two weeks off. I know all of that family time was not relaxing for me. Family dynamics are always stressful.

Is it the weather?

I know where I live the days are gray. The days seem long. The days are cold. I definitely think the weather effects us. Winter blues are a real thing.

Sunshine is a good thing.

Is it the curriculum?

By this time of the year I know I personally feel unmotivated with my lesson plans. I start to think of ways to spice up or challenge myself. My students are progressing, but sometimes I am not. Call me crazy…but teaching about winter, snow, snowmen, snowflakes….when I am putting my coat on six plus times a day is not very fun.

I love to use a theme when I am planning and teaching things that tackle a student’s goal. All of my littles love the cute extras-but I am very much looking forward to some greener and warmer themes for my games and activities!!!

No matter if you are in the classroom or traveling like me, I hope the winter months go by quickly and peacefully. I know I am trying to stick to a healthy home and school routine. It is taking a concerted effort, but I am sticking to some goals I set for myself.

Goals are a good thing.

I’m going to reflect a bit more and hopefully in my next post I will have some ideas to help us all out of the winter slump!!!!

Best Shoes for Itinerant Teachers

This gingerbread girl loves shoes. I always have, even when I was living with gluten inflammation…I just tried to look for the cutest, supportive and affordable options.

Over the years my style, needs and comfort levels have changed. In my 20’s I never cared about comfort. All I cared about was the look. I wore toe pinching, arch aching stylish shoes, but now I know how much I rely on my feet.

In my 30’s I was struggling to make it through the day with minimal levels of pain. I searched for comfort and style. This was difficult in the beginning, but I found and still find a lot of shoe manufacturers do a good job at both.

You only get one pair of piggies!

I need my feet to be happy. It makes the day run better. I look and shop for soul serenity. I have found that comfort can come in a variety of footwear options. I try to have a variety of on trend but realistic and functional choices.

Boots

Sneakers

Slip Ons

Loafers

Flats

Sandals

I am adding wedges, but to be totally transparent these were a shoe I loved, then could not wear all day. My inflammation was really high and a full day was not in the cards for a while, but now that I am pain free I will rock a wedge on a rain free and less crazy day.

Wedges

These are some examples of my actual shoes. I typically like to online shop for shoes. I know my size, have my go to brands and love to shop from the couch. This is the easiest and most time effective way to keep my dogs stylish and bark free.

Favorite Online Brands and Sites

  • Earth Brand
  • QVC.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Kohls.com
  • Crocs
  • Vionic
  • Clarks
  • Nordstrom Rack.com
  • Ryka
  • Coach

If you are on the go like me and have some favorites I haven’t mentioned…please share!!!

Saying Good Bye to 2019

The new year will be here in days. Well the new calendar year. I personally count the years of my life is school year calendars, so this year still has a ways to go. With this being said, I still reflect and try to look forward to the new year.

Looking forward is an easy process for me. Everything is unknown. I sort of like not knowing what will be.

This year has brought many happy changes. My hope is 2020 will be peaceful, positive, productive and phenomenal!

Blogging

Goals for 2020

  • Continue writing
  • Improve my skills
  • Hone my voice

TpT

Goals for 2020

  • Create more resources
  • Improve a few
  • Expand

Yoga

Goals for 2020

  • Keep going to class
  • Practice more often

New Friends

Goals for 2020

  • Continue to connect with these ladies
  • Support
  • Fly their flags

Book Club

Goals for 2020

  • Keep reading
  • Listening
  • Making meetings a priority

Family

Last but not least. 2019 has brought us even closer together. May we continue to be a happy little family.

I’ll always pick these two!!!

Wherever we go, as long as we are together, life will always be an adventure!

Happy New Year to you!!!! May all your goals be fulfilled. Whoot…whoot….2020!!!

Grandma’s Cookies: Gluten Free Makeover

Last Christmas I was very sad…throwing myself the biggest holiday pity party.

Every year I look forward to baking and eating our family cut out cookies. I baked them with my mom, my husband and now with my mini. The smell of them baking in the oven kicks off Christmas for me.

Last Christmas I had no desire to bake. If I wasn’t making what I knew, wanted and expected-I was baking nothing. This was probably terrible for my people because they still deserved their happy holiday. None the less that was my mindset and I did not forget to invite myself to a spectacular party.

My hubs is really a rock solid human. He saw how down I was and paid a very big bill at a GF bakery, for some very acceptable cookies and a yule log. These treats were not our festive favorites, but he and my mini were holly, jolly and supportive. Thankfully they are equal opportunity cookie consumers.

Personally I hate how much anything made GF costs!

Let me just add….they did have plenty of delicious, festive, gluten filled cookies and cakes, because they can and should, but not baked by my gluten free, miserable hands.

So, on to this year.

I did not want a repeat of last year. I try to fancy myself a person who learns from their past choices and decisions, so this year I was determined to find a way to make my beloved cookie safe and tasty.

I do not want a new recipe. I am sure there are many options out there…in fact I know there are, pinterest shows me so, but I wanted something familiar. I want my family recipe.

Thank you Bob’s Red Mill!

I found my saving grace. I found a GF safe flour that has a 1:1 conversion. No experimentation with ingredients. The front of the bag had the magic words! I was beyond pumped. I could use just like typical flour. Cue the angels singinng!!!

Cookie dough was made and seemed ok.

I baked….sort of holding my breath.

Cookies came out…cooled and then it was time to taste.

I was pleasantly surprised. They tasted very close. The texture was palatable. Gluten free happiness!

Time to frost.

These may not be the most beautiful cookie, but they are made with love.

This is what I love the most. We frost and sprinkle together!!

This year I accepted and with this positive attitude memories were made, family tradition continued and calories were not counted!

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Merry Christmas: Time to Recharge & Reconnect

Teachers on break or anyone else on a holiday break….do all the things that reboot your soul.

I am taking some much needed family time to recharge and reconnect. This fall has been hectic…filled with extra bumps and potholes in my itinerant road.

I am wishing you a joyous and peaceful holiday. May you take time to breathe in all of life’s blessings.

Gluten Free Birthday

The Cake

I’m really making peace with being gluten free and with trial and error I have found a cake that has good texture. I am very thankful I have found this mix at Trader Joe’s.

It takes about an hour to bake. This is longer than a typical mix, but it is dense. It does not rise up very high, but moist and small is worth it.

The Frosting

I don’t really enjoy canned frosting, so I decided to look for a homemade option. I went to pinterest of course! There were endless choices, but I decided to use a basic butter cream and cream cheese hybrid concoction. I am terrible at following a recipe.

I am that person that tweaks and adds things. Sometimes it works in my favor and sometimes it is an apology.

Cereal for dinner is always a back up!

I read, in a few online recipes, bakers were adding dehydrated strawberries. I figured I would give it a try. I buzzed the strawberries and added them in…fingers crossed. The result was fabulous.

Oh…and yes I made it all. I used to love to bake. I find it relaxing. Going GF has limited me. I was very happy whipping this up. I was home with my mini me…she needed a sick day, the weather was snowy and I didn’t want something from a bakery-happy birthday to me!

Ta Da

Made a wish….

The Food

I have been trying to eat better and get my yoga on. That being said…. I wanted to slob out!!!

We went and got gluten free pizza and these loaded fries. Total perfection on a snowy week night. Lots of calories and zero dishes!!!

We went out again!!!

Since I have gone gluten free I LOVE wings. Like really love them….crave them. This was the perfect way to wrap my birthday week. It was salty, spicy and satisfying.

My gluten free journey continues. Blessed to have another year to keep learning and expanding my options.

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Thank You for reading!

Holiday Teacher Gift Ideas

As a teacher I know that I am never expecting a gift, but I do love to receive something from my students…something that they put thought into. Some of my most treasured gifts have been made from paper, crayons, stickers and kindness. I think most teachers feel the same way.

I know as a parent I look at teacher gifts from a totally different perspective. I want to make sure I find something personal, budget friendly and useful. I also encourage my mini me to take an active role in the shopping process. I want my child’s teachers to know we see and value their hard work and commitment.

One thing I do in September is look around the teachers room during open house. My mini keeps her eyes and ears open too throughout the first few months. This way we can even make a gift card more personal. Knowing something as simple as a favorite color can be so helpful.

This leads me to the ideas.

Gift Cards

So I know most people love a gift card, but I have a love/awkward feeling about them. They are quick, easy, and practical…so people love to give and get.

They are quick, easy and practical…so that’s why I don’t always love to give. I feel like it says I don’t know you or had no time to shop for you, so I picked up a gift card.

This is where, for a teacher gift, I have to calm down and just do it…most people love them. I try to add something cute to the gift card that is personal and I try to select a gift card that is not just Starbucks-unless the teacher is seen with a cup daily.

A favorite coffee place is simple.

Here are some of my past selections:

  • Target
  • Favorite Restaurant
  • Pedicure/Manicure
  • Movies
  • Favorite Store
  • TJ Maxx
  • Amazon
Movies are a great way to unwind over the holiday break.

Classroom Essentials

Depending on a teachers situation sometimes they need things for the room that they can’t or shouldn’t pay for. Teachers spend a lot out of pocket to make their room a great place for their students. Picking up their favorite pens is the least I can do.

Add some flair to their holiday season!
  • Flair Pens
  • Markers
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Electric Pencil Sharpener
  • Sharpies
  • Inspirational Stationary
  • Personalized Stationary

Mugs and Water Bottles

  • Personalized cups and mugs
  • Themed cups and mugs
  • Inspirational messages on cups. mugs and water bottles

I think these are useful and can be refreshed. I personally enjoy a new water bottle or cup, especially because I forget about them(which means they get gross) or loose them in my travels.

Self Care

  • Lotion and hand cream
  • Soap
  • Lip balms/gloss
  • Nail polish and cozy socks
  • Massage certificate
Candy cane red…classic color

I try to keep these unscented or neutral. Scent can be very personal and powerful. I choose neutral or classic colors as well.

Treats

  • Chocolates
  • Wine
  • Cookies
  • Edible arrangements
  • Favorite snacks
  • Hot chocolate

One observation I have made over my many years of teaching is teachers love a treat, but not ones from a home kitchen. You may make the best fudge ever, but during cold and flu season most teachers will pass. We are looking forward to a happy and healthy holiday break, not one filled with chicken soup and tissues. So, I always purchase a yummy treat.

I like to get a box and put in the office or staff lounge for everyone

With all of these ideas my ultimate goal is to get something useful, personal and something that isn’t cluttering up a shelf or desk. No teacher needs a dozen Best Teacher mugs! And no teacher wants to feel guilty not using the multiple mugs.

Whatever you a purchasing this holiday season I hope you enjoy the process. If you can’t think of anything unique…get the gift card. I know I am taking the pressure off of myself this year.

And if you don’t have the budget for a gift consider:

  • A hand written note or card
  • A kind email
  • Have your child write or draw something
  • Have your child create something
  • A heartfelt “Merry Christmas” at pick up or drop off

I think the key is expressing appreciation. Who doesn’t like to feel respected and appreciated?!

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