Sunday, January 20, 2013

Keeping It All in Perspective!

Life is one big CRAZY TOWN when you stop to think about it.  In our society, we're always rushing around trying to accomplish 456,826 things at once.  Bare minimum.  It's so easy to get swept up in all of the hoopla, so this post is devoted to real life.  All of it.  :)  I'm talking about those moments when your computer dies right in the middle of report card week and you find yourself on the verge of tears every time you think about it because your gradebook is online... your assessment data is online... and basically your whole life is on that stinkin' machine.   Okay, so maybe that was just one recent example from my own life, but truly, it's so easy to get caught up in everything and freak out!  I seriously just had one of those weeks.  Literally, last week,  I was the walking billboard for Murphy's Law.  Now, trust me, I took the time to count my blessings too, and I know that all of my obstacles were minor in the grand scheme of things, but I felt like I would NEVER get everything done and that technology was somehow out to get me! Once I slowed down enough to breathe, I realized that my life would, in fact, go on without my computer.  It would, in fact, go on if I had to install every file, program, and font all over again once the hard drive was replaced.  I would, in fact, get my grades and comments done on time, and LIFE WOULD GO ON.  So, in the meantime, I checked all of my non-technological things off of the list, spent more time with my hubs, and I enjoyed quite possibly the most beautiful, most vibrant, reddest sunset I have ever seen.  I don't know about you all, but I know I don't slow down enough to enjoy the simple things in life nearly enough.  My technological nightmare helped me really think about teaching, blogging, TpT, and life in general, and I suppose I have a lot to say about it today!  Buckle up, friends! ;)

Let me start by saying that I owe my friend Rebecca a nice big bloggy write-up because in the midst of my computer fiasco, I was unable to participate in the Product Swap last week.   Okay, and first of all, if you don't follow Darlin' in First, you MUST!  Rebecca is a fabulous teacher, and she makes adorable and creative products!  I have also had the pleasure of meeting her in real life, and she is quite possibly one of the cutest and sweetest people in the whole world.  For real.  :)  Anyway, we paired up for the product swap, and I was very fortunate to be able to review "The Case of the Mystery 100th Day Bottle" project.  It is just way too cute for words!  I am actually pretty excited about using this packet with my kiddos this year, because I think it's another great way to integrate drawing conclusions in a really tangible way to (once again) tie it back into what we do as readers. !  Let's check it out, shall we?

The packet comes with lots of printables to get the project off of the ground.  They come in color or black and white.  :)  I chose color, because it's just so much prettier, but considering that I have 56 kiddos, I will most likely use black and white with them!  Here's a shot of some of the contents.  I realized now that I forgot to print the parent letter, but it is super detailed and cute.  :)  It explains the purpose of the activity and includes instructions to help the parents assist their kiddos as they put their 100th Day bottles together.  The project is intended to be completed at home.

The following photo is a close-up of the mystery bottle and the bag.  Essentially, the kiddos fill their bottles with 100 beads or pebbles or whatever, and then they use the printables from this packet to decorate their bottles and bags.  All of the materials needed (except for the bottles) are sent home with the kiddos when the parent letter goes home.  I added ribbon, because I LOVED the way Rebecca added ribbon to her version, but it's totally optional, of course!  :)    ( NOTE: I used a small bottle, because that's what I had on hand!)

I read that Rebecca sends envelopes home with her kiddos and has them slip their clues inside.  Then they attach a label to the outside.  (She also includes photos in the file to show you how she organized the materials.)  I decided to give this component a little bit of a spin. Instead of using an envelope,  I glued the three clues to a regular-sized piece of construction paper, spacing them evenly.  Then I cut the paper into thirds.  I used a different color for the cover, and I attached the label to the front of it.  I also cut a blank piece of paper to use as the backing.  Next, I stapled the strips together, hot-glued ribbon down the side to cover the staples, and  glued an additional ribbon to the top to tie it all together with the adorable bag and the bottle!

To make a long story short, I LOVE this resource, and I will definitely be using it with my kiddos this year.  :)  It's just precious!

NOTE:  This product was recently removed, so it is no longer available!  Sorry if you missed it!

In other news, I have been trying to finish my Valentine's Day centers.  I started them before Christmas, and then I pretty much spent two weeks fighting the flu and sleeping, so they took a back seat.  Then school started, and they took a back seat again, because it was time for benchmarks and report cards and my computer crashed.  Now I am finally in a good place to resume working on them.  Thank goodness!  My kiddos are already asking, "Did you make any new centers yet?"  and "Are you making new centers for Valentine's Day too?"  Seriously, they keep me busy! :)  I am so happy they enjoy the activities though, and for that reason, I'll keep chugging along!    Here's your proof that it's coming your way soon-ish.

Now that I've gotten all of that off of the plate,  I want to get back to the meat of this post.  :)  Keeping it all in perspective is sometimes hard to do.  I know that I am my own worst enemy, and I struggle to keep my Type A tendencies in line.  I fuss over details, and I sometimes work myself up way too much about things.  This blog has, at times, become one of those things.

I've been blogging on this site for two and a half years, and I used to contribute to a collaborative blog and run a pretty elaborate classroom website before that.  I don't consider myself an expert, but I feel like I've gone through my own peaks and valleys when it comes to the whole blogging song and dance, so with all of the recent posts to newbies about dos and don'ts and everything in between, I figured I would offer my own nuggets of wisdom to all of the new bloggers and sellers out there.

First of all, I started blogging to share ideas and learn from others.  This remains my goal, first and foremost.  I would be lying if I said that TpT hasn't been a huge BLESSING, but that's not why I started this journey.  I started this journey to share what I am doing in my classroom, to share the resources I have created for my kiddos, and to keep up on what others are doing.  It's not about having the most followers, making the most money, or having everybody know your name.  It's not a competition.  It's not a life and death situation.  Blogging should be FUN... and you should write for yourself.  When you worry too much about what your "audience" wants, sometimes it's easy to lose yourself in the process.  I think the same thing can be said for products.  If you are making things simply for the sake of making some moolah, are you making them for the right reasons?  Do they jive with your own educational philosophy, or are you just selling them because you saw something similar on the Top 100 list?  I think we all have to be careful not to get caught up in the rat race.  I sometimes get discouraged, but personally, I would rather see myself fall down that list than sacrifice my own principles and ethics.  Hands-down.  :)   I also realize that there's much more to life than that.

Secondly,  I try to be cautious.  I am very careful not to cross any lines with my blog or my store.  I will not sell anything that is associated with my school's curriculum out of respect for my administration.   I don't want any gray areas to develop.  The same can be said about other sellers' products.  I think we all need to be cognizant of the fact that we should not be making money off of the backs of other people or other programs.

Lastly,  I also try not to let blogging consume my life.  Honestly, it's hard not to get caught up in everything, and I admit that I spend a lot of time on school stuff, but if you are going to be happy, healthy, and balanced, you need to find some time away from the computer too.  My work-friend Jenny recently asked me, "Do you sleep like 40 minutes a day?  How do you get everything done?"  The answer is... you know what?  I don't always get everything done, but I never lose sleep over it, because it will eventually get done, just maybe not that day.  As neurotic and Type A as I can be, I never stay up late to work.  I am always in bed by at least 10:30, and I actually require a LOT of sleep to operate! Ha!  So,  when I am awake, I really work hard to manage my time wisely and prioritize tasks because I can't do it all, nor would I ever want to.  I try to focus and get my work done without distractions so that I can enjoy life outside of teaching too.  Lately, I've really enjoyed spending extra time with Mr. Wonderful and decorating our home one detail at a time.  I've also been working on some professional development pieces for teachers in my area, which is a nice change of pace for me too, even though it's still teaching-related.  :)

For me, any time I start to beat myself up for not blogging enough or not making enough products, I just think about the fact that I also have a home and a husband and a dog.  I also have a life.  It's great to be passionate about your job, but it's healthy to have other passions too.  For me, I'm going through a season of my life where I am shifting gears.  I am realizing that if I keep the pace I've been running for the past seven years, I am going to burn out before I even get CLOSE to retirement!  I don't want to look back on my life and feel like I've missed out on anything because I was too busy working.  I want to act silly with my husband.  I want cook amazing dinners... and travel... and sometimes... I just want to relax.  Since I'm turning 29 this year, I'm also starting to think more about starting a family in the next few years.  Of course,  in addition, I want to shop for bargains and immerse myself in my other love... home decorating.

Recently, I fell in love with drapes, and I lucked out because they were on sale!  Score!  So, I spent the evening hanging them with my hubs and goofing off by the fireplace.

Another day, I found three cute little mirrors on-the-cheap at Marshalls, and then I went on a little trip to a hardware store with the hubs to hang them with drawer pulls.

Just like the sunset I mentioned earlier in this post, it's about the little things.  It's about the beauty that is all around us... the beauty that you can sometimes miss if you're too busy working.  Don't miss it, friends!  ;)  Have a good weekend!


  1. You took the words out of my mouth! You are simply amazing.
    It's hard to keep yourself grounded and keep things in perspective, especially when you see others around you succeeding in so many things.

    I {seriously} just had this intervention with myself a couple weeks ago. I don't want to loose sight of why I began my blog 2 1/2 years ago! I have gained so much from so many teachers {YOU} and am a better teacher because of it!

    Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom!
    I loved it!!!!
    Beg, Borrow, Steal

  2. Very good advice. And what a BEAUTIFUL sunset!

    Ladybugs Lounge

  3. Great advice! I've had similar thoughts and have struggled with comparing myself to other bloggers and creators, but I'm not them! I can only be myself!

    Learning is for Superstars
    FB page

  4. Hi Amanda! Thank you for your take on new bloggers. As a new blogger myself, I was feeling "unwanted" in the blogging world from so many of the bloggers I had loved to read, when I just wanted to do what everyone else was doing! :) Share ideas! I had been blog stalking and taking ideas for about a year and just wanted to start giving ideas back! I realized that I will just have to write how I want and what I want and if people like it and my ideas they will follow me and come back! On another note, I purchased your Strategy Songs and LOVE them! We have played the inferencing song EVERY single day since I bought it! Thank you for blogging about Rebecca's Mystery Bottle 100th Day Investigation! I love that kind of stuff and already put it in my cart to buy!
    Thank you for all you do and your POSITIVE outlook on new bloggers and TpTers! :) Kim

    1. Kim- I completely understand what you mean! But you know what... I don't have a lot of money, so I don't do the giveaways and and try to gain more followers. I just blog about the fun stuff we do and share most of what I make for free. (I've got a few things up on TPT that I worked really hard on this summer... but not much!)
      Just be yourself, and post what makes you excited about your class! That's what I do... and 3 years later, I'm at 960 followers. I never post about how many followers I have either- but just for you to know- it took me 3 years to get there... But even if I only had 10... it wouldn't matter to me b/c I love sharing what I do and make! Keep it up girl! That's why we all blog--- b/c we enjoy it!

  5. Great post! Please savor every moment with your husband!!!!

  6. Thank you for your advice. I also had the flu and it whipped me out. I'm glad you are feeling better.

    The Teacher's Backpack

  7. What a curious pic the first one. Love it. Thanks for the piece of advice.

    Fonts 4 Teachers
    Fonts 4 Teachers in TPT

  8. Amanda- I can't believe what a breath of fresh air you just gave me! I have been struggling with managing my time for the past 4 years and this year I started my masters on top of everything else! I've been taking a little "hiatus" from blogging since I started school this year because it was getting to be a hassle to post anymore. As much as I miss it sometimes, I still felt guilty and bad about myself because I wasn't doing all these amazing things like all I see on pinterest and my favorite blogs! And then there's all the nitty gritty stuff that comes along with creating freebies and packs to sell on TPT. I've been so discouraged lately b/c it seems like I was stepping on people's toes that I didn't mean to be, or something I created is similar to another person's I had never seen before. I just haven't been enjoying it like I used to. I kind of miss how it was a few years ago before everyone and their mom had a blog! I get overwhelmed by the amount there is on my blog roll now! But you expressed your feelings to beautifully and I couldn't agree with you more! So thank you for posting and sharing all your wonderful work you have so far! =) Have a wonderful week!

  9. You just blew me away with what you wrote. You nailed it for this Type A wants to do it all person :) Anyway, love your heart and if my blog/TPT ends up even a little like yours then I know I've done well. Not because of the hits or followers, but because to me you have heart and are extremely thoughtful of others and that should be our ultimate goal :)

  10. Wow! This was exactly what I needed to hear! I am a new blogger, but I already feel like it is consuming too much of my time. Like you, I started blogging to share my ideas and to hear from others. I want it to be a fun creative outlet for me at the end of a busy day, not another thing on my to do list. I can already feel myself getting stressed out about how many followers I have and about what I am going to post. I don't want to feel that way. I need to find balance, so I can have time to serve God, spend time with loved ones, and relax. Thank you for the reminders and helping me achieve perspective.

    Compassionate Teacher

  11. Amanda, LOVE your reflection and love reading your blog. I too feel like every time I start to write for my blog, I need to start with "Sorry it's been a little while." Why do we put these expectations on ourselves? I guess I feel like any of my 100+ followers will forget about me if I don't share something weekly, but for the top blogs I follow, I don't feel that way. I just check my blog roll whenever I have time (like today :) And stalk away...I always try to read older posts from my favorite blogs to see what I have missed since I checked out.

    I say today, we all commit to STOP APOLOGIZING for it being a while...we are ALL busy people who work our petuties off! And, I think everyone will just be happy when we have the time to share something new.

  12. I really admire your work and your willingness to share. However, I respect you as a a a friend even more.

  13. This blog is very helpful and important for student who loves read online. And want online assignments and finance assignment help. Thanks and Keep continue help.

  14. Hey Amanda! Just wanted to let you know that "The Case of the Missing 100th Day Bottle" was removed by the seller from her TPT store. From her comments, it doesn't sound like it will be reposted.

  15. Found this cute book and you tube video called Good night ipad. Just thought it went well with this reflection.