Friday, August 30, 2013

Running Lately...

Have you noticed that I haven't been that excited about running lately? Well there's a reason for that... it has sucked. That's a harsh blanket statement. What I should say is running hasn't come easily lately. The humidity has been sucking the life out of me. Charlie still sucks as a running partner. Ella's schedule has been throwing mine off. It just hasn't come easily...

I need this shirt...

Let's back up... I ran 4 out of the 7 days that I was on vacation. (Woot! Go me!) Those were rough runs. Even at 6:30 a.m. it was at least 75 & humid as all hell. But I kept thinking back to last year's vacation at the beach when I was carrying around 20 extra pounds of left over baby weight and was just learning to run. If I did it then, I can certainly gut it out now. I have come so far. That kept me going on those runs. Well, that & this song...


Mentally, I was in a strong place when I got home from vacation. I woke up Sunday morning & did 4 miles at a 9:30 pace, which is awesome for me. Then it rained on Monday & I decided that mall walking was better exercise than running. I kept thinking about my awesome run on Sunday though, so when I got home from school on Tuesday I laced up my sneakers and did something unheard of. I took the stroller out running with me. I never do this.... Why? Because it is HARD! My pace hovered at about 10 min/mile though, so I didn't suck too badly. And I felt like a total badass afterwards.

But then I woke up on Wednesday & my calves were absolutely killing me. They are not accustomed to running with the stroller (but oh they will be...) I stretched them out & decided a long walk might be in order for me that day....

And yesterday morning, I did something unheard of. I ran in the morning... before I went to work. I never do that. But, I was awake & Ella wasn't home. Those three miles happened because I was scrolling through Instagram & saw Mama Laughlin pounding it out with Skinny Meg. For Gods sake, Megan is pregnant & still kicking my ass... so I ran. It sucked. My time sucked. Charlie chased every God damn squirrel in the city. It was humid as hell. But, I ran and in my book every mile counts.



What is the point of this post? I have no idea. I'm just letting you know that running isn't always rainbows & butterflies. I definitely experienced a honeymoon stage of running while training for my half marathon. Sticking with it after the race has been a lot harder than I expected. But I continue to make the choice to run. You can too.

**Linking up with Miss Whitney today to #backthatazzup**

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Monogram It...

I have developed a newfound love for monograms... 

It started with this pocket t-shirt that I got in a boutique while on vacation last week in Myrtle Beach. Monograms just scream classy to me, and I had been exploring the many options available on Etsy. I went with this one though because it was less expensive & I didn't have to pay for shipping! I paired it with my favorite Lululemon running skirt for a laid back day of shopping at the outlets. I'm already dying to add to my monogram collection! 


Here are a few of my other favorite monogrammed items right now... 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bri's Fall Must-Haves

Now that I'm back from vacation & school starts in a week, I'm officially ready for fall. That means it's time to pull out my boots, scarves, & jackets. As if I don't own enough already, it also means shopping! Since yesterday was a rainy mess, Ella & I hit the mall to pick our must-haves for fall! 

Must Have #1 - Field Jacket 

I am obsessed with field jackets right now. There is nothing that I want more than to own this beauty... 



However, it definitely isn't in my budget right now. Luckily, I found this budget friendly version at JC Penny yesterday! The quality isn't as high, the material is definitely thinner, but if you're looking for a short term investment, this is a great option. 



Must Have #2 - Burgundy 

I love the color burgundy for fall & luckily it's everywhere right now. I purchased these pants at the J.Crew outlet while on vacation, but I also love these two options from Gap. 


Must Have #3 - Camo Pants 

OK, I'll be honest... I never thought I'd be wearing camo pants. But after reading this post yesterday morning, I decided to take Shaeffer's word for it & at least try them on. I was sold. They're amazing & if you search Pinterest you'll find a hundred ways to style them. Here's how I styled them in the dressing room at Gap yesterday... keeping it monochromatic & adding a comfy, slouchy tee. I will most likely be seen wearing then with brown booties all fall long, so be on the lookout!



Must Have #4 - Tortoise Shell 

I don't know what it is about tortoise shell, but it just screams fall to me. Don't get me wrong, I wear it year round, but I'm most likely to purchase it in the fall. The piece that I'm coveting right now? This Michael Kors Runway Bracelet Watch! I tried it on in the store & was smitten. Obviously it's gorgeous, but it's also practical. You ask me how a $295 watch can be practical? So did my husband... Here's my answer. This watch doubles both as a watch AND a bracelet. Thus, it's multi-functional & therefore, practical. 




Must Have #5 - A Neutral Bag

I was a huge fan of brightly colored bags for summer, but now I'm all about large, structured, neutral handbags. I'm absolutely loving this classic from Coach. Especially the tassel. I'm loving tassels right now... 




Are you inspired yet? Get out there with your pumpkin spice lattes & shop! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Road Tripping with a 1 Year Old: A Survivor's Tale

We're home! Thank sweet baby Jesus! I really & truly wanted to kiss the ground when I climbed out of that minivan after 16 hours...

Ella & Aunt Britt hanging out... 
If you're crazy enough to road trip with a toddler, you know you're in for it. We had taken her to DC with us for my race, which was an 8 hour trip, so we knew that our upcoming 14 hour trip was going to be a struggle. I decided that the key was to strategize ahead of time, then brace myself & control the crazy when the whole thing started falling apart. Here's what worked for us, plus what I learned through experience on Ella's first serious road trip. 



1. Have Help 

We drove to South Carolina with my sister & her boyfriend, Matt. Eric & I never would've made it without them. Ella slept a lot, but she still needed someone to keep her occupied, pick up all of the stuff she threw, feed her snacks, and just entertain her in general. If it had been just Eric & me, there would've been no rest. One person would always have been driving, the other on Ella duty. With help though, we were able to take turns so everyone got a break along the way. 

2. Get a Bigger Car 

As previously mentioned, we had 4 adults + Ella in our car. My sister drives a Rogue, but we knew there was no way that would be big enough. So, we rented a minivan for our trip. Luckily, both my sister & Matt work for a car rental company, so we got a sizable discount. Even if we'd had to pay full price, it still would've been worth it. We were able to fit all of our luggage, plus Ella's stroller & toys without having to bust out a car carrier. It was a full house, but it would've been far worse if we hadn't rented. (Plus, our rental had satellite radio & DVD screens! #score)

3. Travel by Night 

On our way down, we left on a Friday night at 9 pm. Ella slept 80% of that time & the boys stayed up to drive while Britt & I slept. We met my parents for breakfast with only 5 hours to go. That's where I took over the driving while the boys got some rest. At the time, we thought it sucked & decided it wasn't worth it for the drive home. By the time we got home on Saturday night though, we were all singing a different tune. Driving through the day was far worse. We hit traffic. Ella was up over 50% of the time. We had to stop a lot. It added two hours to our trip. Never again. We're traveling vampire style from now on... 

4. FOOD! 

This is a must. Pack a cooler & have enough food to feed an army. We packed string cheese, fruit, puffs, and lots of milk. I didn't try to follow our normal schedule, I just went with what she needed. Relying on fast food restaurants & gas stations would have been a chore (and expensive) & I would've felt like I was stuffing her with junk. I'm telling you, pack it ahead. You'll be glad you did. 

5. Don't Be Afraid to Stop 

I know all you want to do is get home & your husband may or may not be a road warrior, but you've got to stop. That's especially true if your child is walking. Ella is very active, so we gave her at least 15 minutes every 3 hours. It definitely added time to our trip, but it's what she needed. Thinking ahead to the future, I'll probably be inclined to stop at restaurants with playgrounds. I just think that taking the extra time to let her run around is worth it to preserve my sanity. 

6. Step Up the Entertainment 

This was a fail on my part... I only packed her normal toys. Things she's familiar with - i.e. things that don't hold her interest for very long. As a result, everything & anything became a toy. Gatorade bottles. Straws. Bookmarks. We were desperate. Next time, I'll buy cheap, new toys that she's never seen before specifically for the car ride. 

7. Rent Baby Equipment 

If you're renting a house, you're expected to provide your own baby equipment. In our case, we would've been packing our high chair, pack n play, baby gates, and stroller. After doing my research though, I discovered I could just rent it! It was $50 for the week & the only thing I had to bring was her stroller & a crib sheet. Definitely worth it! 

We take this trip every year, so I'm sure that I'll continue to learn as Ella grows. If you have any additional wisdom to share, I'd love to hear it! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Comparisons...


I came across this pin yesterday afternoon while browsing Pinterest by the pool. It resonated with me, as I'd spent the morning at the beach.... which basically means that I spent the morning comparing myself to others.

Thoughts like....
"She is so thin." 
"Oh wow, I wish my ass looked like that." 
"We'll, at least I've got her beat..." 

But in reality, does judging myself against other people do anything to actually make better? No. I shouldn't be scoping out other women & judging their bodies, their husbands/boyfriends, or their parenting. I'm not even close to perfect. I could spend that time running, playing with Ella, reading a book - all things that would make ME better. 

As I move into a new season, I'm going to try to save judgement. Everyone is dealing with their own shit... 

Unless you're on reality TV because then it's my God given right to judge you...

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Day at the Beach

Greetings from Myrtle Beach! I'll be sharing a full vacation recap next week, but for now I just couldn't resist sharing these pictures from Ella's first encounter with the ocean! Be sure to follow me on Twitter here & Instagram here to keep up with our vacation shenanigans... 










Friday, August 16, 2013

I Should've Been a Spice Girl...

I am a child of the 90's. I rushed home every afternoon to drool over Carson Daly on TRL. I know my boy bands - all of them. Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, NSync, BBMac, and even O-town. I wore baggy jeans in middle school & I could have been a Spice Girl. 



You wouldn't know all of these things if you observed me teaching a lesson, saw me out on a run, or popped into one of my practices. But there is one place that I cannot hide me 90's inspired awesomeness... the shower. 

I belt out tunes like no one's business. I'm not just talking Genie in a Bottle people, I know the deep tracks. If you're looking to sing Hanson's "Madeline" at kareoke, I'm your girl. Need a duet partner for "From the Bottom of My Broken Heart"? I'm the next best thing to Britney... 

Lately, I've been using this as a microphone... 



It's the perfect size for shower singing. It also happens to be amazing body wash. Yes to Blueberries is perfect for dry skin because it's loaded with Shea Butter to alleviate dryness. I feel like a cross between a marshmallow & Ella's butt after using it. I'm packing it for the beach because it can also be used as bubble bath & we just happen to have a huge soaking tub in our room! 

If you're interested in packing it on your next vacation, using it as a microphone, or just giving it a try in  general make sure you click here to take advantage of exclusive savings! It applies to all of their scents, so if you'd rather have Carrots, Grapefruit, or Cucumber - you're in luck! 

**Thanks to Yes to for sponsoring today's discussion. While I have been compensated for this post, all opinions of the product are my own.**

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Advice to New (and not so new) Teachers...


1 - Have a Great Website

When I first started teaching, I was at a rural district and there was no school policy on updating your website. Many of the teachers I worked with were old school and didn't even have one. I created one, but it was mediocre. I'm quite positive that no one ever actually used it, as it took the computer services guy (yes, it was 1 person) forever to actually link it to the school's page. Now that I'm at a bigger district, we are required to have at least a homework website. GO BEYOND THAT!

A website is a great way to introduce yourself to your students & your parents. I post homework, extra practice resources, as well as copies of any and all handouts. I also have a link to my classroom Twitter & Instagram accounts that keep parents involved in our daily classroom lives. It doesn't have to be fancy - trust me, my personal blog is far cuter - it just needs to be effective! It may take a little bit of time to develop up front, but parents love it. Administrators love it. Do it.

2 - Make Yourself Visible

You need to get out in the hallways & make yourself visible. I know it's easy to get tied down to your desk - answering emails, creating lesson plans, stalking Pinterest because your brain is mush... But if there is one thing that my administrators notice (and complain about) is the visibility of teachers in the hallway. It's a quick & easy way to make a good impression, as well as develop relationships with students. I have learned a lot in the three minutes between classes!

with one of my favorite students on Valentine's Day

Visibility isn't just for the hallways though... show up & support your students. Try to make it to a few sporting events each season, the school musical, or honor society induction. There are always parents and administrators at these events & they love to see teachers out supporting kids. More importantly, the kids will notice that you're there! Every time I'm at an event, I have at 10 kids make a comment about it the next day. They love seeing me out there supporting them!

3 - Be Positive


pinned here

The current state of education isn't exactly happy-go-lucky. I avoid the teacher's lounge because it's a rather negative place and I try to keep a positive attitude. Do things annoy me? Yes. Do I wish that I got paid more? Yes. But everyone that I work with is facing the same issues. I'd rather get some work done & be the change in our school than cultivate a culture of hostility. Your students & administrators will thank you... no one likes a grump!

4 - Steal Things

Do not kill yourself your first year of teaching! You don't have to recreate the wheel for every lesson! This is the 21st Century - we have the internet! That means you have all sorts of opportunities to steal things! Make sure to stalk Pinterest's education boards & check out all of the freebies you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers. There is a lot of amazing stuff that is already out there!





That said, the internet isn't your only resources - talk to your colleagues! I was so afraid to ask for help my first year because I thought they'd take it as a sign of weakness. Turns out, they took it as "she thinks she knows everything." Not the case... Make sure you take the time to converse with colleagues, ask for help, & co-plan whenever possible.

5 - Communicate


source

Parents used to scare me. I was always afraid that I was going to get chewed up one side & down the other. For what? I'm not really sure. I've never actually had this happen to me, nor have I ever given a parent reason to do so. Nevertheless, I was timid and communicated with parents as rarely as possible as a result. HUGE MISTAKE! Parents can be your biggest ally. They will rally around you & sing your praises. They may not always like what you have to tell them, but they appreciate (gentle) honesty. 


Best Wishes for an Amazing Year! 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Transitioning to Fall...

The weather in Upstate NY has been a little cooler this past week, which has been perfect for breaking out some of my new fall pieces! This is the time of year that I start to mix them in with my summer favorites, creating outfits that help transition my closet from summer to fall. 

This is my favorite outfit from the past week.... 

sweater - Gap // shorts - Gap // bracelets - Alex & Ani
(apologies for even worse than normal photography, but I was at my parents' house!) 

I wore the outfit to a very low key rehearsal dinner on Friday night. It was a rainy day, only in the low 70's, so I opted to wear shorts and a sweater. I am head over heels in love with the slouchy, loose knit sweater & I think I'm going to order it in another color because I'm just that obsessed with it! (No surprise considering my love for slouchy tees this summer...) Since the sweater is so neutral, I was able to pair it with my favorite patterned shorts! I'm hoping I can wear it at least one more time before I have to pack away my shorts... 

This morning I woke up to what felt like fall, only a high of 60 degrees. I got dressed & am wearing my favorite mustard blouse from Banana Republic & Matchstick Jeans from J.Crew. It is August though, so I threw on my flip flops - it's just too soon for boots! 
again, another horrible photo but we were running really late this morning!

And because the weather is putting me in the mood for this... 

hot chocolate... no on the vacation mode detox plan 

I just had to share these... 
via Dreaming in Cashmere
 
via Pinterest
 
via The Fashion Column
 
via gap.com



Monday, August 12, 2013

Vacation Mode Detox




I'm leaving for vacation on Saturday & it's crunch time people! I don't really need to lose weight per say, however I want to ditch the bloat and reduce the jiggle as much as possible. It's human nature, everybody wants to look their best at the beach! I am not ready to do a full on cleanse, I'm not that disciplined. But I am ready to scale back and make some sacrifices to feel my best in my swim suit. I'm calling this week my "Vacation Mode Detox" & here's my plan...



Honestly, I think a lot of this is common sense if you're trying to lose weight. However, it never hurts to have a little reminder! This can be tailored to your own needs, but as far as exercise goes, I plan to increase my plank times and get in a minimum of 4 miles a day. I'm also going to drink at least a gallon of water and a lot more vegetables - which I've been slacking on. Finally, I'm a carb-aholic, so I'm planning to cut way back on those as well. I'll be updating throughout the week on Instagram & Twitter to let you know how it's going! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Must Have Bracelets


I've become a bit obsessed with bracelets lately... 

Follow Me On Instagram! 

Eric isn't thrilled about it, but Ella & I am! I love pairing them to create new combinations. Ella loves playing with them - the more the better! I will definitely be adding more to my collection & here are some of the contenders... 

Square Stone Bracelet by Coach

Plume Feather Wrap by Alex & Ani 


Spade Hinge Bangle by Kate Spade 

Mosaic Souk Wrap by Alex & Ani
To see more of my favorite bracelets, check out my Pinterest board! 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back to School Buzz

Throughout the month of August, I'll be highlighting my favorite pins for back to school. Whether you're a teacher, or a parent, you're sure to find something awesome! 

source

I have been into school every day this week, and I just can't help myself, I'm heading back in today. There is a buzz in the air. Which is refreshing, because at the end of last year, we were a pretty ragged group. The people who are working at school right now are a lot like me. We're positive. We know that we can make a difference. We've spent the summer thinking about ways to be better. We're good teachers. 

One secret of amazing teachers is that we steal a lot of shit from Pinterest. I seriously don't know how I taught without it. Oh wait, it involved a lot of extra work on my part. I still create a ton of my own stuff, but sometimes the perfect item is already in existence. Why recreate the wheel? Here are my favorite stolen pins! 

1. The M&M Game 


This is a fun & tasty way to get to know your students! M&M's are my favorite candy, and I've yet to find a kid who is allergic to them. Here's how it works - you pass out a handful of M&M's & display the key above on the SmartBoard. If I have 4 red candies, then I tell you 4 things that I like to do in my free time. Get it? I'm sure my middle schoolers will love it! Find it here.

2. Binder Cover Templates



I like my binders to look pretty & I have about 30 of them that are lined up and toted to various meetings. This website has templates for pretty binder covers, so I don't have to depend of my prehistoric clipart skills! Definitely not just for teachers, and you can find it here


3. Perky Labels



I am not an elementary teacher, but I'm envious of how awesome their rooms are. I do my best, but I just don't have think I could get away with having a reading rug at the 7th grade level. Nonetheless, I still love to label my classroom & these labels are awesome. You can find them here

4. Snack Ideas



I loved this chart for smart snacking ideas. I see so many kids show up with absolute crap in their lunch pails. I'm talking Monsters, huge bags of cheetos, and no fruit or veggies. Or better yet, they go in & buy a Nestle Chipwhich from our ice cream line and eat that instead of lunch! Do us all a favor & print this list! I know I'm going to use it to help me keep healthier snacks in the classroom so I don't wind up buying PopTarts from the vending machine! Find it here

5. Non-Sandwich Lunch Ideas



I cannot eat a sandwich every day of the week! I don't know many adults who do. So why do we pack one for kids every day? Because it's easy? I don't know... But here are some awesome alternatives to packing sandwiches for your kids! Again, do us a favor & keep it nutritious. Find them here

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Metallics & Michael Kors

I have fallen in love with metallics lately! They have this fabulous way of dressing up any outfit & I plan on transitioning them right into the schoolyear as part of my fall wardrobe. 

Yesterday, I used metallic gold to accent my Michael Kors tank. I bought the tank at TJ Maxx for $10 off the clearance rack! It's a size too big, but I solved that by recreating a Pinterest knot trick & belting it with my favorite braided belt from J.Crew. I paired the top with white jeans & then added more gold accents - earrings, watch, and sandals. Here's how it turned out... 

top - Michael Kors via TJ Maxx
belt & jeans - J.Crew


metallic accents!
watch - Coach // sandals - Forever 21

Also, I just had to share my new favorite sandals, which just happen to be metallic. I've been wearing them non-stop! They're completely sold out online, but you may be able to find a pair on sale in a Gap store like I did! 


Today I'm linking up with Laura for Trend Spin!


Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer in Rochester

This weekend was the epitome of summer in Rochester. We went to a festival, ate dinner on the water, did some shopping at Wegmans, and visited Bills Training Camp - among many other things. Let's get started... 

Friday...
I spent the day working in my classroom, getting things set up & organized. The room is far enough along that I was able to take Ella with me, which proved to be quite the adventure. I packed a ton of toys for her to play with, but inevitably curiosity got the best of her & she was into anything and everything she could get her hands on. I did get a ton done though & should only have a handful of trips left before school starts one month from today. (Ahhh! Where did my summer go?)  



Eric got out early on Friday, so we were able to go out to eat on the water. We decided to go to Hose 22, which doesn't have seating directly on the water, but you can see the water from its main patio. My sister came along with us & we drank sangria as we all talked about our upcoming vacation! We all had fish & it was impeccable. We will definitely be going back again soon! 

Saturday... 
I got up with Ella around 6:30 & decided that we should just get the day going. So, we had our Cheerios for breakfast and got the stroller ready to roll. I did an easy 4 miles with her & ran into many running groups along the way. Whenever I see a running group, I get a little jealous. I really want to join one. Luckily these people had guides wearing t-shirts with the local affiliation on them. I'm getting on that! 

Once we were back home, we got ready to go to the Park Avenue Festival. (Please note: Rochester has TONS of festivals. This is one that Eric & I really enjoy, so we always make a point to go together.) It took us forever to find parking, which is new to us because we have always lived within walking distance before. Looking on the bright side though, I got in at least another 2 miles of walking because of our spot's location. 

Ella's outfit for the festival... 
We had lunch at the festival. Eric let me pick & I chose Sticky Lips BBQ. We shared the combo platter - ribs, chicken, cajun corn, and beans. SO FREAKING GOOD. Sticky Lips is one of my favorite restaurants and their festival food was just as good. Seriously, if you come to Rochester - eat at Sticky Lips



We left the festival after sharing a cheesecake brownie & headed to the mall to find Eric a new pair of shoes. That meant we had to go to Dick's, which is dangerous for us. We could spend so much money there, but we didn't. We found Eric's new sneakers on sale & went on our way. However, I will tell you that I am in love with the whole Nike fall line & I will be back for more! 

You have no idea how badly he needed these...

Sunday... 
Ella let us sleep in until 7:30 yesterday morning, which was exciting. We all got up & had breakfast together. Ella & Eric had French Toast while I stuck with cereal and a banana. I really dislike French Toast, which is strange because I love all of the ingredients separately.
Anyways... it was another gorgeous morning so I took Ella out for a long walk in the stroller. She just loves to be outside & it gave Eric a chance to mop and vacuum. (Yes, my husband does those things. I'm responsible for childcare while he does them.) 

After lunch, we all got ready to go to Bills Training Camp. It's the first time I've ever gone with Eric & I had a great time. Ella liked it too, mainly because it was all outside and there was a ton to look at. I didn't really get to watch much of the practice, because I was keeping tabs on Ella. However, I did notice that our new QB was actually throwing the ball to people's hands, which is a solid improvement. 





The best part of training camp was shopping for new gear! We found Ella a sweet new shirt & Eric got a very nice new sweatshirt. Then, Eric got me these new sweatpants... 

What I look like every single Sunday in the fall...
They're Nike Dri-Fit & insanely comfortable. I am in love with them & am wearing them right now. I had a lot of items picked out, but decided on these because 90% of the time I'm in sweatpants while watching the Bills play. It's just we do at our house on Sundays in the fall. I'm pretty sure Nike is making these for all of the teams, so no matter who you root for, you'll want to get one these! 

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