Category Archives: School

My Own First Apartment: Tour!

This first weekend back in Burlington has been the absolute best of the entire summer!  It all started with one hectic weekend full of cleaning the apartment, moving in, and making all those finishing touches on the house so that it could really feel like our home.

Right before Hannah’s family left, they helped us put together a little garden out front.  We were working on it well after sunset!  Hannah’s mom worked hard to get the dirt loosened up while Hannah and I pulled out the grass.  We planted some perennials like Black Eyed Susans and Echinacea.  The next day, we added some mulch to set it all in.  We plan to extend the garden along the front of the house and maybe make a rock border.  Expect to see a scarecrow soon! 😉

But that’s just the front yard!!!

We have a great coat hook right inside the front door that was left behind by the old tenants.  It seems to be really sturdy and its definitely convenient!  Wool, fleece, and down coats will be hung here in a matter of months!

I have three roommates, Hannah, Becca, and Melissa, who each have their own bedroom upstairs.  We decorated our foyer a little bit with Christmas lights–mostly the light the way at night since our only bathroom is downstairs–and a vintage painting Hannah found at an antique store.  Those kids in the painting are walking to school, so its the perfect decoration for a house full of future teachers!

My room is the only one downstairs, but it is like a dream come true.  It’s the first time I have ever had my own room, and it’s already my sanctuary.

The most important part of my room is my bed!  I feel like a princess because I have a queen bed all to myself 🙂  I have used those ghetto Target blue shelves as a bedside table for the past two years, but I love them just the same 🙂  That shelf above was there when I moved in, and it is perfect for displaying special photos and trinkets.

On the wall to the side of my bed, Hannah gave me the idea to make a collage with my posters.  The collage in the middle is made of a calendar I got in Cinque Terre, Italy after I graduated high school.  I love the colorful paintings of the coastal villages.  My sister gave me the frame at the top, with pictures inside that spell my name.  So creative, right?

My closet area is at the foot of my bed.  The rods and shelves were set up when I moved in, and it’s really a great way to maximize the storage in that corner!  Essentially all of my clothes are there, plus some linen storage on the top.  (I know I won’t be skiing for a few months, but my skis are so beautiful that I like to display them all year round!)  Although I am lucky to have three big windows, I don’t have any built-in lighting in my room, so that lamp provides most of the light at night.

My desk is my brother’s from when he was growing up.  I love that it has shelves so I will be able to easily store all my books and school supplies while still having a lot of workspace.  This chair was in our living room, but we decided we didn’t need any more seating in there.  It makes a great little reading nook in my room!  Isn’t my carpet lovely, too?  It’s really soft and has a pretty design.

Here is my great-grandmother’s dresser (full of wintry stuff and bags, lol).  That framed Guinness poster was a gift from Hannah for my birthday 🙂  She knows me too well.

The room came with a full-length mirror on the back of the door, and the handle is a great place to hang my reusable shopping bags.  Seriously, I can’t believe I have that big room all to myself!

Our living room has already hosted a lot of get-togethers!  I adore that pink couch – it’s full of character – and the brown couch is a pull-out.  Those curtains are from Wal Mart!  It’s hard to tell, but they are lavender and white striped.  Hannah brought all sorts of cool tapestries and posters to hang, as well as two rugs she got for free.  The white rug has already suffered some stains 😉

We have a two great storage units in the living room – a big closet under the stairs that would have seemed a palace to young Harry Potter and a some built-in shelves.  Those shelves were actually behind a door, but we removed the door and Hannah worked hard to spray paint it blue.  It adds some (however darker than we’d planned) color to the room.

Our little dining area was completed when we found three folding chairs from Recycle North for $1 each!  I thought they were just plain black, but when I opened them up, they had a cool turquoise swirly pattern on the seat!  Melissa’s rocking chair is really cool, too, but it has to be treated gently since it is old.

Here is our little TV corner (we just got cable last night!) and the twin chair to the one in my room.  Dominique knit me that UVM-colored blanket as a high school graduation gift.  ❤  Isn’t that ottoman so cool!?  The Paces almost took it back with them, but Becca and I just couldn’t part with it.  We found a spot for it easily!

My parents bought us a sweet storage bench for inside the back door.  With more Wal Mart curtains, it makes a great spot for untying your snow boots!

When we were looking for apartments last year, one of our favorite parts of this house was the breakfast bar.  I have coffee while sitting on the stools almost every morning!

We even have a walk-in pantry!  It’s closed off by another one of Hannah’s lovely tapestries.

Here’s where all the magic happens!  For a small kitchen, the layout is actually very comfortable and functional.  Just last night, I was cooking stir fry and Hannah was baking cupcakes with ease!  I am loving my first gas stove, by the way.

Here’s a look at our fridges and basement door.

Just off the kitchen is the bathroom.  We have a relatively new toilet and my Dad got us a spiffy shower head, so it’s really comfortable with just enough luxury 😉

The bathroom is nothing too special, except for the mat from my mom and the wall decoration we added.

We bought a wall decal from Home Goods and it was super easy to apply.  I love how it stands out against the white wall.  And don’t those birds and falling leaves just come to life?!

There you have it!  I am so in love with our first place.  While living on campus and visiting apartments downtown, I always longed to be that cool and wondered what it felt like to live in your own place.  Now I know!  It just feels so natural!

What was your first apartment like?




Filed under Life, School

DIY Magnetic Chalkboard

It’s just a matter of hours now!

I’ve got everything packed and ready to squeezed into the car…

[not pictured: my desk, dresser, and bike!!!]

Tomorrow morning we are officially moving me into my apartment and I am so excited that I almost feel brain-dead.  It’s all I can think about!

Last night we did one of my favorite Doylestown summer activities……


The past two weeks I have gotten PEACH flavor.  They make the ice cream at the local creamery, and I can only assume that those peaches are freshly picked from their orchards.  Because it tastes AMAZING.

Ghia usually gets some cone 😉

A few weeks ago, while prowling the town for free roadside furniture, I picked up this beautiful “chalk board.”  I use quotation marks because the board was really just wood painted black.

I decided that I could get some magnetic chalkboard paint and transform it into a functional decoration for my apartment.  Michael’s didn’t carry anything magnetic, so I went to Lowe’s.  The guy at Lowe’s told me there was “no such thing as magnetic chalkboard paint, but there is magnetic primer and chalkboard paint.”  Okay…. He showed them to me (both cost $7) and said that he wasn’t sure the magnetic field would go through the chalkboard.  I had my doubts, but when he walked away, I looked on the side of the magnetic paint and it had a little ad for their chalkboard paint, boasting that they made the perfect pair!  Lowe’s didn’t carry any Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint, but they had valspar!  I made my purchases, excited about the outcome.

First, I cleaned the board and allocated paint stirrers, brushes, and lots of paper towels.  That was a good foresight.  Upon stirring the magnetic primer, I realized they weren’t kidding that separation occurs.  The bottom was basically solidified magnetic fibers, and it took all the strength I had to break them up.  It took so much strength, in fact, that I broke the paint stirrer in half, splattering grayish paint all over me.

After a brief breakdown, I pulled myself together, wiped myself off with those handy paper towels, and resumed stirring (with a new stirrer).  After many many many many many more stirs, it still seemed a bit chunky, but as good as it was going to get without an industrial Kitchen Aid Benjamin Moore mixer.

The instructions recommended 3 thin layers for best results.  They also claimed that it took just 30 minutes to dry.  Liars.  3 + hours later and three thin layers, my tester magnets didn’t stick.  At all.  So I had a hissy fit and stirred until absolutely all clumps were gone.  Not even exaggerating, this took 5 whole minutes.  (Good thing I’m strong! ;))  I had time to add two layers of properly mixed magnetic primer and wash the brushes so they wouldn’t be ruined.  Bent over our utility sink, my hands turned into Peter Pettigrew’s.


Now remember that my legs and feet are covered with paint too from the stirrer incident AND Dominique and I had mani-pedi appointments for that evening.  I did manage to rub, scratch, and scrub most of the paint off, losing the top layer of my skin in the process.

The next morning, I tested it with refrigerator magnets and they slid right off.  So I threw in the proverbial towel.  I did add a layer of blackboard paint (using a new brush as I had ruined two others) which went on very smoothly.  It dried in no time, but sadly the surface had become very lumpy from the magnetic primer massacre.  But you know what, it will suffice 🙂

Have you ever worked with magnetic primer or chalkboard paint?  What was your experience?


Filed under Food, Life, School

Starting Fresh: Setting Goals

I knew my life would never be the same when I went to New Zealand; I was going to gain new experiences and further develop my perspective on the world.  And don’t get me wrong, all of that happened, but I never realized how far I would stray from my mental and emotional norms.

Though my life was insanely busy and hectic, it never really changed when I was at UVM.  I was always busy, and I loved it: I pretty much embodied the common collegiate advice, “work hard, play hard.”  But, as soon as that fall 2010 semester was over, all of my usual responsibilities and activities–class, FeelGood, work, campus life, friends, Ashtanga–literally vanished.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime break (where I got to explore new hobbies, like blogging!) from the stresses of reality, but I felt a bit depressed since the things that had occupied all my time, and everything that I defined myself by, were thousands of miles away.

I learned how to “cope” and slowed down a lot, but I was always secretly pining for that exhilarating lifestyle and somehow fretting over taking so much “time off”… and I never completely felt like myself.  When I got home for the summer, I was eager to begin transitioning back to normal, but I’ve felt as though I am struggling to climb out of a hole – except I don’t remember which way is up.  I have felt completely overwhelmed by jumping right back into it all, and absolutely blind to any sensible starting point.

Yoga has always been the cure to all my problems, but since what I need is mental clarity and I have fallen so far behind on my meditation, that only perpetuates my confusion.  With the idea of yoga in the back of my mind (isn’t it always) I asked myself what I used to rely on the most to help me manage it all.

My planner!!!!  I need to plan!  While trying to think of a good blueprint, lululemon came to mind.  I remembered discussing goals and visions with an employee there once, and receiving a great layout for goal-setting.  For me, the best way to get a hold on my life is to clarify what I want, and develop manageable steps to get there: starting today until I get what I want.  By creating a plan of action, I feel less stressed about getting things accomplished because I know that I am doing my best to get there.  Most importantly, I will have already decided where to start 🙂

I began to set goals for my classes, my job, FeelGood, my apartment, my health, my finances, and my personal life.  I only managed a rough draft for each, plus some brainstorming, but now I’ve got a game plan for life in the works.  Bring. It. On.

Are you a planner?  Do you set goals?  cuz you should.  it helps.



Filed under Life, New Zealand, School, Yoga

Bronze Trivia Medalist & International Potluck Kai

I am thrilled to announce that last night at Father Ted’s trivia, Hannah and I came in 3rd place!!!!  That’s much better than second-to-last and it a heck of a lot better than DFL!!!  I thought it was pretty easy this week, but it was also helpful that our knowledgeable Mexican friend was there playing pool for a bit and kept popping over to give us answers he knew.  Regardless, it’s pretty impressive just the two of us were able to snag 3rd place.  We got a massive 40 points (we usually get about 22, lol) and here is just some of the stuff we knew:

  1. What TV shows takes place in the hospital Sacred Heart?  (becca ;))
  2. Natalie Portman won an Oscar for her role in which 2010 movie?
  3. What is the family’s last name in the Home Alone movies?
  4. In golf, what is it called when you score 2 under par?
  5. Who originally sang the song “Hotel California” (this was the luckiest guess of my life)
  6. In which decade was the electric hairdryer first seen?  20s, 40s, or 60s?
  7. Who did a 2003 cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi?”
  8. Who’s song “I’m Yours” is rapidly becoming one of the best-selling song on iTunes?
  9. In what year did Green Day’s album “American Idiot” release?
  10. What is a traditional song played by trumpet or brass instruments?
  11. In what century was Abraham Lincoln born?
  12. Who was the lead singer of No Doubt?

But the big picture round really put us to the over the top.  We were able to identify teenaged pictures of:

  1. Julia Roberts
  2. Kathy Bates
  3. Jamie Foxx
  4. Anne Hathaway
  5. Taylor Swift
  6. Jessica Alba
  7. Queen Latifa
  8. Bradley Cooper
  9. Ashton Kutcher
  10. Patrick Dempsey
  11. Jennifer Garner

and we also guessed the common link between them all.

We squealed with pleasure after each one of our correct answers was called and we felt SHOCKED to get third place.  We are essentially Bronze Medalists of Pub Quiz now!  Not only did we come in third, but we were served my favorite complimentary snack to share between the two of us:

POTATO WEDGES!!! They were great brain fuel; I can probably attribute 75% of my victory to these bad boys.   The red wine helped to.  And I do owe the Mexican some credit.

My super fun night was followed by an uuber busy day.  All before 11:30, I made flashcards for my Maori final, cooked a pot of chili, and wrote 4 heart-felt thank you notes in preparation for my last day of school tomorrow.  Whew!

At noon I was rewarded with a yoga class!  I went to a Beginner’s Ashtanga class at Auckland Yoga Academy and used up the last class on my 10-pass card.  😦  It was with my favorite teacher, who isn’t very warm and fuzzy, but she gives the BEST adjustments ever.  Seriously, they are heavenly.  I can’t believe that it was my last class in NZ.  That means, the next class I go to will not only be in Doylestown, but it will be on June 26th!!!!  That time’s gonna fly.

I had class for the rest of the afternoon, which was really quite fun.  We had a lecture on Maori education by an ex-Maori Primary school teacher (who also reminded me a lot of my Nanny), so obviously I was wrapped with attention.  It really sounded just like education in the US in those times (what with corporal punishment and such) except they rode horses to school and being forced to assimilate to European, or Pakeha, culture.  It’s amazing how resiliently they held onto their culture and customs.  Auckland positively shines with Maori culture, and I’m really gonna miss it.

After our lecture, we were given a mock final exam to study from (can you guess what I’ve been doing all evening????) and then we had an international potluck kai.  (“Kai” basically means a celebratory meal.)  Everyone (most of us are international students) brought in a dish that is traditional to our home culture.  I made chili (which came out spicier than I’d planned) and Hannah made brownies.  Check out my plate, Round 1, without touching anything “American!”

The most delicious potato salad, fruity pasta salad, spinach quiche, feijoa muffins, clam cakes, fried dough, jam flatbread, dressed mussels, Dutch breakfast loaf, some kind of meat with a German name, and some kind of tasty-cake-like Korean cookie.  I ate waaaaay too much, but when else am I going to have access to all of this home-cooked, authentic, international food at once?

In addition, everyone has to prepare a song from their home culture.  Hannah and I performed “The 5 Little Pumpkins.”  We explained about Halloween at this season back in the states, and how we are teachers and often sing this song to our class.  We got lots of smiles, which is all I care about.

The Maori students performed a wonderful Maori song.  It’s so cool how nonchalantly they pulled out a guitar and sang in perfect harmony, with so much soul.  They were raised that way, and it’s a beautiful thang.  Another notable performance was by two New Zealanders who sang the NZ national anthem (which is SO PRETTY) first in Maori, then in English, and doing the NZ Sign Language signs both times, too.  Too cool.  Other Americans did “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” and “I’m Gonna Let it Shine.”  The Germans did their national anthem–very bashfully, I might add!  Another New Zealand guy said he didn’t have anything prepared, but he is in a reggae band and he gave us his CD.  Sweeeet, bra!!  There is lots of reggae in NZ (with all the surfer dudes, you know), so I’m excited to have some authentic jams in my iTunes!

Then, my professor sang for us and I cried.  The traditional Maori music is so beautiful, and it really hit me how much I have grown to love the Maori culture.  I have been sung to in Maori countless times, and that was probably the last time I’ll get a personal performance.  Good thing I’ve learned a few songs to take back 🙂

At the end of class, they put out tupperware so that we could each fill one up with whatever leftovers we wanted and take it home!

But for now, back to studying…

Know any of the trivia answers?



  1. Scrubs
  2. Black Swan
  3. McCallister
  4. Eagle
  5. The Eagles
  6. 20s
  7. Counting Crows
  8. Jason Mraz
  9. 2004
  10. Fanfare
  11. 19th
  12. Gwen Stefani
  13. Celebrity link: roles in the 2010 movie “Valentine’s Day”


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, School, Student Teaching, Travel, Yoga

Tomato Carrot Risotto

I woke up bright and early this morning to run, and guess what??? Run, I did! I was gone for about 40 minutes and though I had to walk a lot (it’s amazing how quickly I fall out-of-shape) I think I ran for at least 15 minutes of it.  My muscles were tired, but there was absolutely no joint pain.  I’ll take it!  I would also like to share that I was very hot and sweaty.

I know, family, that I just warned you about how cold and rainy it would be when you arrive. I guess just be prepared for the unexpected!

Since my run was successful and I was feeling pretty on-to-of-the-world, I cracked down and chugged out my final reflection paper on my practicum.  I’ve copied it below, in case you are interested 😉   Then, continuing the productive-ness, I went to the library to print out my Maths assignment, which occurred without a hitch (well, on my part.  Hannah had some difficulties.  There’s always something at that place!)  Now I am that much closer to being on summer vacation!  I just need to study for and take my Maori culture final on Friday….

It’s 10:30am at this point and it hits me: I had not had my coffee OR oatmeal yet!!! I guess my early AM dates gave me all the nourishment and power I needed…up until then lol.  Not one to skip I meal, I whipped up a simple bowl of apple oatmeal…without peanut butter!!! Shocking, I know.  Our tub is dwindling and frankly, I didn’t need it.  It was deliciously simple.  I might even try oatmeal without any fruit soon!  But that seems just a little too carb-y.  I feel like I’ll need fruity nutrients?  Rambling.  Sorry.

Very soon after my fundamentalist bowl of oatmeal, I had lunch because, well, it was lunchtime!  And I was hungry!  Running makes me hungry 🙂  I quickly sauteed some of the leftover chopped veggies (mushrooms, peppers, and onions) from last night, which I plopped on top of a piece of toast with sundried tomato hummus.

That hummus is to DIE for.  Seriously, the taste is out-of-this-world.  I can’t right now, but I’ll snap a photo of the package tomorrow so y’all can go buy it.  Of course, and of it was all on top of some lettuce!

Scrumptious!  After lunch, I had my last education class, during which we talked about Montessori schools (a type of schooling system that, at least for maths, uses solely tactile materials to teach concepts).  Several unbelievable things happened during class today.

  1. We had a guest speaker talking to us about the Montessori schools, and at times she would ask us to gather around a table to watch a demonstration.  Well, some of the NZ biddies just stayed in their seats, chatting and dicking (language–sorry but I am disgruntled) around on their laptops.
  2. I was watching a demonstration from my chair, and one of them stood DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME.  Literally, his ass (again, pardon my French) was in my face.
  3. We had to read a handout and then discuss with out groupmates what we thought were the most important things.  Well, as my group started discussing, one of the biddiest of the NZ biddies shushed me!!!!

Unbelievable on so many levels.  What did I do?  Continued to be the good student and respectful classmate that I am.  And felt very righteous for it.

On the bus home, my friends Rose and Becca told Hannah and I about this awesome pancake place they discovered, right by the bus stop.  I didn’t need much convincing to tag along for a post-class snack 😉

For just nz$3 a pancake, Hannah and I decided to split a chocolate one.

There they are, sliding about in the oil!

Rose, Me, Hannah, and Becca

Hot + ready = excited girls! 😉

Imma eat-chooo!!!

Two words: yum and wow.  It sort of tasted like funnel cake-meet-chocolate chip pancake.  I can only pray that this doesn’t become a habit.  Thanks for introducing me, Rose and Becca!

When I got home, I did some logistical work on my computer, then promptly started cooking.  Dreading another night of stir-fry, I convinced my self that I could make tomato risotto with brown rice and the (ghastly) tomato paste still in the fridge.  I started by sauteeing two cloves of garlic with as much of the Italian Herb Paste as I could squeeze out (running on empty!).  Then, I added the tomato paste and some soymilk.  There was WAY too much garlic!  I never thought I’d see the day.  Hannah had the great idea of adding some veggies, so she shredded half a carrot as I added more and more soymilk.  We just kept adding and tasting until finally, we nailed it!

With the rice, it made an nearly perfect combination!  For a few minutes there, I thought the meal was a destined failure, but with a little teamwork, we made it happen!

What was your latest triumphant kitchen experiment?


Here is my final reflection on my NZ school placement, in case you are interested.  It’s a sorta formal write-up for my professor back at UVM, so it focuses mostly on the technical teacher stuff. 

I have learned a lot from my placement here in New Zealand, but there are two things that will leave a lasting impression: grouping by ability and Guided Reading.  The entire numeracy and literacy programs in my class have essentially been set up with ability groups and small-group instruction.  There are rarely mixed-ability groups, which at first I thought would create a stigma of the “lowest” or “best” group, but the instructional benefits outweigh those issues.  It is much easier to create lessons that are geared toward individuals, it is easier to track progress, and it provides developmentally appropriate instruction.  All of which benefits their learning.  In literacy, the teacher-guided small ability-group lessons are called “Guided Reading” sessions.  Guided reading is a great way to teach literacy by ability because you can read a book together at the students’ level and take the time to go over the bits you want to focus on.  Plus, in the small group, students will feel secure enough to take risks and ask questions.

Dominion Road Primary school had a very effective and well-developed behavior management system that I learned a lot from.  The vice principal, Brenda, taught me everything in our interview.  They use antecedent strategies to prevent behaviors, which I think is key to preventing bad behaviors from happening.  By making the behavior expectations clear and setting up a positive, supportive environment, then students won’t need to act out.  Behavior problems will always occur, and I have learned two strategies for dealing with them.  For menial misbehavior, it is good to ask the students if they are making a good choice.  This gives them the power to change their own behavior and show you that they know what is good behavior.  A major conflict can be solved by debriefing the situation with the student(s) involved.  A fair, supportive conversation about a management issue is the most diplomatic way to address problems and it gives students tools to use those same strategies to solve their own problems in the future.  In addition, I learned the importance of balancing the lesson and school day with individual work, group work, whole-class instruction, and free time so that students stay on-task.  Even better, I did not find any discrepancies in my research and Responsive Classroom readings about American styles of behavior management.  Kids are kids, anywhere in the world.

Though my mentor teacher has given me a lot of praise, I still would like to work on a few things before student teaching.  For example, I want to make sure that I am continually planning what my next steps will be.  It is not only important to assess how the students did with a certain lesson, but it’s even more important to know what to do next to help them move on or get more instruction on something they don’t understand.  I also think that I can always be working on understanding the standards and keeping my lessons aligned.  It is so difficult with a diverse class, but it’s important to stick to the objectives and make sure that you are teaching the students the appropriate skills and/or content.

Pre-planning my lessons has really helped me feel more confident as a teacher.  It helps me to keep the learning objectives in mind as I am teaching, and it gives me an opportunity to plan for my behavior management.  When I have prepared the strategies I want to use, it prevents behavior disruptions from getting in the way of my class’s learning.  I also think that I need to do a lot of background research when I am planning a lesson.  I need to be prepared for the types of questions that my class might ask me about a certain topic we are reading about.  I want to make sure that I have enough background knowledge to contribute to their learning and inspire their curiosity.  I would also like to work on planning what to do if a lesson takes a completely different turn.  For example, if the students are completely lost or over-confident during the warm up, I would want to plan some alternative activities to do in case I feel like the lesson would not be worthwhile.

It has been really exciting to notice my role as a teacher change throughout the beginning of this semester.  I am doing more full-block teaching than I ever thought I would be allowed to do at this stage.  At first, I just lead parts of a lesson or a transition into a break.  Now I am doing all of that and more!  Its been really helpful to feel that independence, and the corresponding responsibility, because now I have much more of an idea of what it will be like to have the class for the entire day.  I have also become much more of a legitimate assessor.  I used to think that I could just observe assessment because I wasn’t qualified enough to actually conduct them and have the results count for something; but now, after the TGMI and all of my running records, I feel like I am equipped with the knowledge to make comprehensive assessments on students.

When I think about the past semester, I feel really good about my overall style of teaching.  I think that my priorities really shined through.  My number one goal to being a good teacher is to get to know each of my students as a person, and I feel like I really did that with my class.  It certainly helped my instruction to be more individualized since I knew their interests, weaknesses, and gifts.  My teacher gave me a lot of feedback about how my caring, compassionate nature and positivity created a non-threatening environment where students felt comfortable and even excited to learn.  That was my main goal, so I’m glad that I accomplished it!

My next steps in my process of becoming a teacher is to really look at inquiry learning and how to integrate it into my numeracy and literacy programs.  I want to do more research about science and social studies that I can easily incorporate into my literacy programs (with things such as magazines) and my numeracy program (with things such as science experiments).  My school in New Zealand focused a lot on fitness, music, and art, but the core curriculum was rarely tied into it.  I’m excited to discover ways to make for more wholesome, realistic learning experiences.  I also think it would be helpful to get to know the US standards like the back of my hand, since, compared to the New Zealand standards, they are really logical and essential for driving instruction.

Honestly, the most important thing that I will take away from this experience is my class.  I will never forget my little class full of Kiwi children.  I will never forget their little accents and how they “corrected” my pronunciation and spelling.  I will never forget about how eager they were to learn more about America and to teach me about New Zealand.  I will never forget how sweetly nurturing they were when they learned that I lost my grandmother.  I will never forget the relationships I made with them, and it makes me sad that in a few weeks, I will be half a world away from them.  But, as they remind me with song, we all live on “Just One Earth” and we will always be connected.


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running, School, Student Teaching, Travel

How to Use Rice Paper

Happy Birthday, Queen!  sorry the party’s so lame.

It’s officially been the most stressful day of the semester.  I spent the entirety of it trying to finish my Maths project.  Please tell me: how am I supposed to describe and justify 40 different maths activities, ensuring that they all are aligned to the learner’s level, using literature support, and IN ONLY 2000 WORDS!?  It’s simply not possible. That equates to an average of 50 words per activity.

My Maths Week's Outlined Plans

Yep, it is simply not possible.  To do at what I consider sufficiently detailed.  So, I do what apparently “level six” students are supposed to do to prove their academia: cut corners.  It was SO painful to delete all of my creative activities in lieu of brief description.  At least now I can proudly say that I am DONE!

Just under the absolute max: 2200

As long as the library printers don’t condemn me in the morning……please pray for me :-/

I couldn’t print it out today because it is the Queen’s Birthday (not actually Elizabeth II’s bday) and though it is “finals” time, the library was inevitably closed.  I also did not have Reading class because of the jolly good holiday, and my yoga studios were closed, too.  Thank god your highness because apparently I needed every moment of today to produce and acceptable finished product.

I did get a nice break in the morning to chat with the family and discuss our Scheduled Fun for their upcoming visit.  I won’t spoil the details, but here are a few highlights:

  • Rugby
  • Kapa Haka
  • Zoo
  • Aquarium
  • Devonport
  • Sky Tower
  • Rangitoto
  • Auckland Museum

I can’t wait!!!!

Last night’s dinner was–you guessed it!–stir-fry!  With rice this time.  And soy sauce, onions, carrots, bok choy, and green bell peppers.

And sesame seeds!!! Exotic, I know.  But I what really made things exciting, was that I divided mine into a few rice papers.

And wrapped ’em up!

Asian burritos ❤

I bought a package of small round rice papers for nz$5 from an Asian market a few months ago, and its a great way to add variety.  You just need to soak them in water for a few minutes before you can use them, add a large spoonful in the middle, and wrap it up like a burrito.  They are great fresh, like I had last night, but I’ve also baked them and fried them 🙂

Today my banana oatmeal was a little bit special because I decided on a whim to add a spoonful of mixed fruit jam.

Doesn’t that picture look slimy and gross?! That’s why I made it small 😉

For lunch, I had a PB&J in the midst of my stress.  It was quick, easy, comforting, and filling!  It even held me over until dinner, which actually was pretty different!  I tried to make omelets for Hannah and I, which promptly fell apart, but they were still delicious.  I beat 3 eggs with a splash of soymilk and mixed in onions, mushroom, and green peppers.  I was obviously very spaced out from my day because I forgot to take pictures!  ososorry!!  We also ate salad on the side.

I’m about to go do some yoga to calm my mind.  I didn’t have enough time or energy today for a proper practice, which I had planned on, but I was not expecting today to be quite to torturous.  So just some gentle, restorative stuff tonight! I’m looking forward to it!

Last night I finished “Something Blue” by Emily Giffin.  It did insult my intelligence (you needed NO inferencing skills to comprehend this book, #teachernerd) but I certainly enjoyed it.  It was so quick and easy to read, plus the ending was so delicious!  It was exactly what I needed: something light, something sappy, something uplifting.  Tonight I’m starting “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan.

It’s a compilation of short stories about various issues in Africa: hunger, slavery, religious conflict.  I have a huge interest in hunger, so I am excited to learn more about it.  Education is KEY!  And I think I’m emotionally stable enough these days to handle it 😉  The weird thing is that I found this in the fiction section…is it fiction?  I feel like they are true stories?  I shall find out.

Have you ever worked with rice paper?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, School, Travel, Yoga

Quinoa Stir-Fry & The Ekko Park Show

Though I claimed all my dinners henceforth this week would be boring and predictable, last night’s dinner was actually quite interesting!  It was, indeed, stir-fry, but we had some cooked quinoa on hand to use instead of rice 🙂 Wild and crazy, I know!

Here’s how to make Cheater’s Quinoa Stir-Fry

  1. Chop one carrot and some mushrooms, green beans, and broccoli.
  2. Saute the carrots for a few minutes first.
  3. Microwave the broccoli for a minute to soften it up.
  4. Add the rest of the veggies (broccoli, mushroom, and green beans) to the pan.
  5. Add a few dashes of soy sauce.
  6. Add the cooked quinoa.
  7. Pour in a lightly beaten egg.

Try it, you’ll like it!

Our quiz master from trivia at Father Ted’s is in a band, Ekko Park, and they played a free show last night, so of course we were there!  I enjoyed Alex’s leftover Tui before we left:

In the spirit of trivia, here was my Cap-Fact: What is New Zealand’s largest inland city?



The show was AWESOME!  It was late, but short and sweet 🙂 We had such a good time.

That’s our quiz master in the center.  Not only did we feel so cool to know the lead singer, but he’s also really friendly and nice, which makes the whole situation that much cooler!!!  And their music is good, to boot.  This is a music video of my favorite song by them, which happened to be filmed in the very same bar!

So the show was basically just like that!  But in color.  Lol. Except that sadly, there wasn’t a big crowd becuase 1) it was raining, and 2) it’s the Queen’s birthday weekend.  Lame, I say.  Nevertheless, they put on a fantastic show.  We were there and had an absolutely fabulous time!  We also stood right behind their biggest fans, and it was so fun to watch them dance like mad and sing along to every word.  I’m so glad that we got to see his band live before we left.  We have seen the videos so many times and we’ve known Joe for months, so it was about time!

I woke this morning, ready to run in the sun, but guess what? That’s right: hip pain!  So I settled with just taking a 45-minute walk around the domain and photographing ducks and trees.

(The answer to your question, David, is yes, the leaves have fallen and the trees are bare.  I guess I just haven’t been very observant. ;))

When I came home, I realized something that may or may not end up being a crisis-type situation:

That’s a dangerously dwindling supply of instant coffee.

Here’s hoping it lasts the week!!!  I do NOT want to have to buy a whole other package before I go home.  I only use a bit at a time, but I don’t knowwwww….

Fingers crossed!

I am really lucky because I got to talk to my good friend Tara this morning for so long!  She’s back in the states from her semester studying in Ireland.  It was sooo good to see her, but such a tease.  I can’t wait to see her in a few weeks, for REAL!

For lunch, I had a large salad of lettuce, carrots, peppers, and mushrooms, all lightly drizzled in light Italian dressing so that it didn’t taste so….raw.

This is the salad I’ll be eating for the next five days straight.  YUM!

Then, for protein and grains, I made a microwaved egg with S&P, and put it on top a piece of toast with sundried tomato hummus spread on top.

The hummus was new-to-me and it gets my hearty stamp of approval!  YUM!  Lunch left me so satisfied! And it kept me full for ages.

Today, all day, I have been working on my final math project.  And it’s officially whooping my a$$.  My rough draft is done, it’s at over 2500 words, and both my examples and references are weak as.  I’m not sure I can bring myself to do much more today.  So yes, tomorrow will be hellish.

You might already know that I love inspirational videos by children, such as Jessica’s Daily Affirmation, and my brother David sent me another one recently that I just can’t get enough of.

Seriously, I’ve already watched it like 5 times!  It’s helping with the project: I can do it because I believe in myself!  This video might make tomorrow slightly less torturous….

At least I have some pure joy to indulge in!

That’s right, M&M brownies (Rose, you created a monster!)

It’s the perfect pick-me-up.  And necessary for finals.  Well, my final week of school, that is 😉

Have you been to a good concert lately?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running, School, Travel