This weekend, my sister graduated from dental school. Not just any dental school, but THE best dental school in the nation. I’ve watched in wonder and amazement as she has dedicated every ounce of her being to this endeavor, forgoing sleep to study day and night and become the best possible dentist she can be. She has gone on mission trips to Guatemala, organized local oral cancer benefits, and volunteered in many other dental education opportunities to help keep the community happy and healthy – one tooth and one smile at a time. She has worked so hard for 4 loooooong years, and we are all so proud of her. She is now Dr. Jenn. WOW!
Graduation weekend – yes weekend – was a two day event. It began with a mass and hooding ceremony at the church, followed by a reception at the dental school. The next day was a school wide commencement ceremony, followed by a luncheon at a fancy schmancy hotel. All of the rituals and formalities were really cool and fun to learn about.
After dental school, my sister is continuing on at the Children’s Hospital to do a pediatric oral surgery residency. True to form (and as a teacher, through and through), I put together a pediatric dentistry ‘survival guide’ as her graduation gift. She now has books about oral hygiene, a puppet and tooth brush for demonstrations, a squirt gun to shoot the ‘enemy’ (cavities, pain), temporary tattoos and bandaids, a squishy toy to deflect pain, a personal hand mirror (because watching can be cool, right?), children’s sized schnazzy sunglasses, coloring books and crayons, another stuffed friend for comfort, and various other fun distractions and prizes.
After this long weekend of celebrating, I am truly pooped. A few of my other friends graduated this weekend, too (YEAH Maureen and Lynda!) so I am off to toast them now. I will leave you with these pictures as a window into our fun, family-filled weekend of celebrating my sister’s amazing accomplishments. Here’s to so many more!
Did you know that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week? I smile that we get a whole week 🙂
At school, our principal is treating us to lunch on Wednesday, and the Student Council is treating us to breakfast on Thursday. So sweet!
I also wanted to share with you a few fun ideas about Teacher Appreciation. Are you looking for some fun freebies, deals, and discounts?
Chipotle – In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Day, all educators – teacher, faculty, and staff – bring your valid school faculty ID to any Chipotle in the U.S. on Tuesday, May 6th, from 4pm until close and you’ll get schooled with buy one / get one burritos, bowls, salads, or orders of tacos. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED… I’LL BE THERE.
Applebee’s – Want a free dinner or lunch? Teachers eat free during Applebee’s Teacher Appreciation Day. Choose from any one of these select six entrees: Three-Cheese Chicken Penne, Bacon Cheeseburger, Chicken Tenders Platter, Fiesta Lime Chicken, Chicken Fajita Rollup, Oriental Chicken Salad. I don’t know how I’m going to eat Applebee’s AND Chipotle in one day, but rest assured I will figure this one out…
Discounts – By the way, did you know you can get a teacher discount at the following stores? Just show them your staff ID, or bring in a recent pay stub. Fantastic! * The Limited * J. Crew * Ann Taylor * Loft * Banana Republic * New York & Company * Coldwater Creek * J. Jill * Talbots * Christopher & Banks * Aerosole Shoes
Sale – And now, my favorite sale of all – a Teachers Pay Teachers site-wide sale! Head on over to TpT on May 6th and 7th, and you won’t regret it. This is simply the BEST time to stock up on lesson plans and items for your classroom. If you are like me, you have a wish list a mile long that you’d like to clean up. You’ve also planned out the rest of this school year, and you are already looking forward to the fall. It’s a great time to make a purchase! TpT is offering 10% off site-wide, and I’m also throwing a sale on everything in my store for 20% off. For you math whizzes, that’s a total of 28% off everything in my store. Just use the coupon code above at check out!
Gifts – Do you have a special teacher or colleague in your life that you would like to give a gift to for Teacher Appreciation week? Below is a collection of some of my favorite teacher appreciation gifts (click on the pictures to go to the original webpage).
And of course, any heartfelt idea or even a gift card is always so appreciated. My favorite gifts from students have been sweet notes or letters that I hang up on the wall behind my desk. I’ve also been so appreciative of gift cards, which force me to treat myself to something nice like a coffee or something I wouldn’t have otherwise justified purchasing.
But honestly? I really don’t need or expect gifts or lunches or anything – a simple ‘thank you’ once in a while goes a looooooooong way. Former students visit me and tell me how they are working really hard at high school, and this is the BEST feeling of all. Material things come and go, but the feeling that we have worked hard and made a lasting impact is a bright light that can never be put out.
Take some time to thank an educator in your life that has made a difference!
I’m back from our staycation! It was one of the most fun and relaxing Spring Breaks that I can remember. If you’ve ever wanted to have a fun, affordable, and relaxing staycation, I’ve got some tips and ideas for you!
Tip #1: Start out with a plan. My husband and I made a post-it wall of ideas that we could try over our break. No ideas are bad ideas!
Tip #2: Prioritize. If you’re like us, you will have a tendency to be overly ambitious. You can’t do it all. Rearrange the post-its from most to least important to you
Tip #3: Don’t overcommit or overbook yourself. We do that. We have one week and hundreds of friends and we want to see them all! Remember that your friends will be there next week. We decided to visit with out-of-town friends and friends we haven’t seen in a long time during our staycation.
Tip #4: Plan some down time. We had ‘big plans’ days, and we also needed some ‘down time’ days in-between. ‘Go-go-go’ isn’t relaxing or productive. I suggest alternating out-of-town days with in-town days.
Tip #5: Set a budget. Most of our ideas were practically free (i.e. take the dogs to the park), and some of our ideas were kinda expensive (i.e. spend the day in Chicago).
Tip #6: Don’t plan anything for your last day of staycation. You’ll want to wind down.
Tip #7: If it isn’t fun, DON’T DO IT!
So here are some highlights from our Team Dembro staycation. At the end, I’ll also give you a list of our ideas (of which we did about half!)
Madison – Ryan and I are both UWMadison Alumni. We got engaged at the Humanities Building 🙂 We decided to visit Madison for the day (about a 1.5 hour drive from home). On the day we visited, they were putting out the terrace chairs at the Memorial Union for the summer – a BIG event on campus! We walked up and down State Street, and I got to visit my favorite shop, Art Gecko. We also purchased some much needed Badger Gear at the University Bookstore. Then, we had a lovely dinner at the Old Fashioned and got to catch up with our besties Joe and Erin (also UWAlumni, and our friends for over a decade!). It was a lovely day filled with happy memories.
Family – I spent Easter visiting with family. We started the day at Ryan’s mother’s house, and ended the day at my mother’s house for dinner. Above is my sister, Jenn, my brother, Stephen, and me. We had lots of great food and laughs! I love that my family all lives so close – we’re only about 45 minutes away from each other.
Divergent – Ryan and I FINALLY got to see the movie that has been on my calendar for MONTHS! I enjoyed it very much. I couldn’t help comparing it to Hunger Games, though, and thinking that I enjoyed HG more. But I definitely am psyched for Insurgent to come out! Who doesn’t love a saga?!
Down time – So after ‘go-go-go’ for a couple of days, we also needed some down time. Here are Ruffy and Rocket spooning. They are totally tuckered out after spending a day at Grandma’s house and my sister’s house! Too cute!
Museum of Science and Industry – Ryan and I headed down to Chicago for the day, about a 1.5 hour drive away. If you haven’t ever been to the Museum of Science and Industry, you are missing OUT! Don’t be afraid to NERD OUT! It was a good time. You know how most museums have a ‘look but don’t touch’ policy? Not this one! They want you to touch everything. It’s all interactive! There is a room where you can learn about storms and weather, which was my favorite. We also went on an elevator to the center of the earth to tour a coal mine, and then we got to go in an actual German U-Boat captured during WWII. They have a scale model of downtown Chicago, a Whispering Room, the history of Aviation and Bicycles, and so much to explore that you’ll wish you had a whole week!
Babysitting – We also spent some time catching up with our little niece (age 6) and nephew (age 3). We played real-life Angry Birds (this involved building towers and smashing them to smithereens, watercolor painting, and making window art (as seen above). We watched Phineas and Ferb, read bedtime stories, and that’s all folks.
Dog Walk – The boys loved having us home for the week. They got lots of exercise and activity. Zoooooooom!
Zoo – A visit to the zoo is in order during a staycation! I saw every single animal, but penguins are one of my all time favorites. And sea otters. They just have so much fun!
Food– Last but not least, FOOD. Most of our plans had to do with food. On the left is a bacon burger with an egg and avocado, yum! We also went out for froyo, made lasagna and root beer floats, got sushi, and grilled out. It’s nice to give yourself a break from cooking, too!
I won’t lie, we also did some important things this week. I worked on my dissertation, graded some papers, and cleaned the house. We picked out carpet and paint for the upstairs, which we are remodeling. There’s also laundry, grocery shopping, and paying bills. I know it’s a staycation, but life does move on. It’s just nice to not be in the ole’ routine and to have the flexibility to have some fun at home!
So here were our ideas for staycationing. We only got to about half of them. Let me know if you have any new ideas to add to the list for our next adventure!
1. See a movie
2. Go bowling
3. Visit Madison / Chicago / Door County
4. Go hiking
5. Bike ride
6. Plant some herbs and flowers
7. Rent scooters
8. Take the dogs to the park
9. Donate time / food / items to the Humane Society
10. Grill out
11. Make root beer floats
12. Get froyo
13. Dress up and go out for an expensive, fancy-schmancy dinner
14. Visit friends
15. Buy plane tickets / plan a vacation
16. Fly a kite
17. Paint a room in the house
19. Go to the mall
20. Binge watch a new TV series
21. Visit the zoo
22. Visit a museum
We had our final vote on Friday, and we elected our own school-wide book champion: Divergent!
Our March Madness Book Bracket has been a very fun adventure. I have decided on my favorite outcome of this book bracket. I love that we could celebrate our reading culture at our middle school. Some ‘closet readers’ finally felt like they have a voice and that it is okay (and even fun!) to talk about books. Suddenly, the well-read students are the heroes in the classroom because they have the knowledge and opinions to contribute. I’ve just loved the past few weeks! I hope you can use this bracket to help compile your summer reading list!
You can scroll down to see how each of the votes turned out:
For a full list of the 16 most popular books at our school, click here to read the original post.
Many of the sellers on TpT are having a Spring Cleaning sale to help you clean out your wish list this weekend! I am also participating, and everything in my store will be 20% off. What a great way to end the month!
I hope you’re all having a wonderful St. Paddy’s Day! I’m showing off my green, the color of the day!
Our middle school did something really cool today – the Student Council put a lucky ‘gold’ coin in each student’s locker. At 3 o’clock, they announced the lucky winning numbers. Winners received prizes including candy and gift cards. How cool is that?
I also wanted to take a moment to point out the awesome Google homepage today. Neat!
My students really got into the spirit of the day. I saw green clothes, hats, socks, shoes, scarves, bandanas, stickers, makeup, jewelry – you name it! How was your St. Paddy’s Day?
I was just nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award by Katie from Teaching Voracious Learners! On top of it being my Birthday Weekend, which is always filled with fun, I get this wonderful news as well? Pinch me! I feel so undeserving, but equally as grateful! Thanks so much, Katie! This completely made my day!!! 🙂
The Sunshine Blogger Award celebrates blogs that – of course – bring a ray of sunshine to the blog community. There are 4 parts to the Sunshine Blogger Award:
1. Post 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you
3. Nominate 11 bloggers who you think bring sunshine to the world
4. Make up 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
Well…. here I go!
11 Random Facts About Me
1. I hide chocolate all over the house. From my husband, and from myself. You’ll find it just about anywhere, especially hidden behind books. Please come visit.
2. I feel like I have worked just about every job there is. In no particular order: cashier, waitress, telephone operator, property manager, retail (twice!), clown’s assistant at parties, babysitter, nanny, camp counselor, actress, secretary at a law firm, reading tutor, trade show representative, worked at the lemonade stand at state fair, test center proctor, summer school teacher, adjunct professor, and of course, teacher!
3. I have 3rd degree scars that used to completely cover my left palm (since age 1 when I touched a self-cleaning oven and my hand stuck. ::shudder::). As I grew, and my hand grew, it started to spread out like Pangea.
4. I love to travel. I’ve been to most of the 50 states, plus Canada, Mexico, Scotland, England, Spain, Italy, Greece, and France.
5. I can also speak several languages. I speak Spanish, German, and a little French. I can mimic almost any accent (okay Scottish and Australian are hard, but I can do Russian, Spanish, German, Minnesotan, Italian, Southern – you name it).
6. I have a 5-year plan that I wrote 5 years ago. I’ve almost finished every goal on the list. I have no idea what to do after that!
7. I am allergic to oranges, grass, dogs (not my guys though!), and horses.
8. The only thing I drink is water. Seriously. No coffee or soda, but I may have some juice on rare occasion.
9. My family calls me Keka (Kee-Kah). This began as all great childhood nicknames, of course, when my younger sister Jenn couldn’t pronounce ‘Kristen.’
10. My biggest fears include: BEES, the basement at night, and getting lost while driving. I’ve had panic attacks, and I DON’T like them!
11. I have a very calming effect on babies and animals. I often wonder if this is due to my extremely low blood pressure, or perhaps the fact that they know I love them unconditionally, without judgment.
11 Questions from Katie @ Teaching Voracious Learners
1. If it was your birthday and you could do ANYTHING you want, what would it be?
My birthday was just this last Friday! I had to work, but if I could do anything, well – here goes: SLEEP IN, make my husband and myself a delicious breakfast, go to the gym, shopping, get my hair/nails done, probably a massage while I’m there for good measure, sushi dinner, make a frozen yogurt masterpiece, then walk the dogs together before bed. Ahhh, heavenly!
2. What’s your #1 favorite book?
My favorite book is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book absolutely changed my life. Essentially, you learn that we all express and receive love in different ways. This helped me to better understand myself and others, as well as how to show them love in their own language. I think about it constantly!.
3. If you could play any sport, what could it be?
In high school, I played soccer and volleyball. In college, I was on the crew team. I’ve always wanted to try something with swimming – diving, synchronized, anything!
4. Could you not watch TV for 1 month?
Only if you double-dog dared me. Can I watch it on my laptop? 😉
5. Who is your biggest role model in life?
I think it’s a lot of pressure to have only one role model. I model myself after many people. My husband, for one, is extremely generous and kind-hearted. My sister is a tirelessly dedicated hard worker. My mother is very social and knows how to have fun and be a great friend. My brother is hilarious. My coworkers are brilliant and gifted at working with children. I know so many real life role models.
6. What are your nicknames?
In middle school, I was teased constantly for my blonde hair. I was called Whitey, Bleach, Powder, Albino. Once, some kids even dumped pen ink in my hair. But on a positive note, I had good friends who called me Cheerio (I am very positive!), my coworkers call me Pickles, and my family calls me Keka as explained above.
7. What did you want to do with your life when you were 7?
I wanted to have my mother’s job. She was a buyer for a major retail corporation. She got to fly around the world and go shopping! She filled several passports, and she had the best fashion around!
8. If you could have ANY superpower, what would it be?
I would love to be able to cure cancer by touching people.
9. If you had to wear pants or a dress for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Pants. All the way. Can’t run or workout easily in a dress! Plus I never sit like a lady.
10. Why do you think there are so many women bloggers but not a lot of men?
What a tough question. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that women talk more than men. We say more words in a day, and find more things to discuss. I’m sure we just have more of a desire to share!
11. What or who made you want to teach or work with children?
I’ve been working with kids as soon as I was old enough to pass the Red Cross CPR and Babysitting course. I love the equal parts of fun and challenge!
1. If you weren’t in the field of Education, which other job would you pursue?
2. What is your dream vacation?
3. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
4. What is the most dangerous or bravest thing you’ve ever done?
5. If you had an extra $1,000, how would you spend it?
6. Rank these in order of importance: sleep, food, friends, technology, exercise
7. If you could time travel, which date would you visit?
8. What is the farthest you’ve ever been away from home?
9. Describe yourself using only 3 words.
10. What do you miss most about being a kid?
11. What would be the hardest for you to give up for a month?
Good luck, Sunshine Bloggers! I can’t wait to read your posts!
It’s been 2 months, and that’s a great time to check in on the ole’ New Years Resolutions. How are yours going? By March, many people I talk to can’t even remember the resolutions they made. That is why I am so glad I wrote mine down! Either this will help me to stay accountable and on track, or make for certain embarrassment when there is tangible proof that I failed!
This weekend, I was able to check 2 things off my list (You can view my full list here):
11. Use our wedding china
14. Cook an entire dinner for my family
These were important goals for me because a) We’ve had our wedding china for 4.5 years and they still have stickers on them! b) I have never cooked a complete meal from start to finish. Might as well practice on my family, right? And since I’ve been doing so much cooking lately to educate myself, I figured this would be a true test of my skills.
Well I am happy to report that it went perfectly. It was a LOT of planning and preparing ahead of time, but I learned a lot, too. For starters, I washed all of the china, crystal, silver, (and yep, removed the stickers!) and practiced setting the table:
Doesn’t my house look like Downton Abbey? It made me happy 🙂
Then I had to clean my entire house from top to bottom. And I mean I cleaned thoroughly – up to Mom’s standards!
I remember at one point, my husband says, “This is so much work to entertain people! Next time, let’s just go to their house” Haha!
I also did all of the grocery shopping and food prep. The meal I planned to make couldn’t be cooked ahead of time, but I did wash, cut, measure, and set out all of the ingredients.
* Cheese plate – bacon cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese with crackers
* Fruit plate – strawberries and blackberries
* Veggies – green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
* Stuffed mushrooms – recipe here, but I substituted sausage in for crab
* Baked Sweet Potato Chips – sliced with a mandolin, then shake in a bag with olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then leave them in the oven while it cools so they crisp up.
* Dipping sauces – chipotle dip, balsamic ketchup, and spinach dip
* Mixed nuts
* Veggie Salad – spinach, avocado, red onion, tomato
* Thai Pad See Ew – chicken, broccoli, carrot, egg, and coconut aminos
* Rice & Bread to pass
* 2-layer Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream frosting
* Ice cream
March is definitely a big birthday month in our family, so we celebrated my brother’s 24th birthday, my birthday, and my late grandmother’s birthday. It is also birthday month for my brother-in-law and mother-in-law!
We had a very good time, and I would be happy to do it again. I love my family, and I’ll make any excuse to hang out with them!
Did you eat a Paczki? Have you even heard of Paczki? I got to enjoy one this morning from the one and only National Bakery in Milwaukee. I mean, people line up early and wait outside in the cold for a loooong time to get their hands on these! Just read this and you’ll see what I mean.
According to the National Bakery, they sell about 36,000 Paczki on Fat Tuesday.
“People may not agree on how to pronounce them, but all are gathering to gobble up PACZKI on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Emigrates of Poland pronounce them “Pooch-key” or “Punch-key” or even “Poonch-key”, all are correct.
These Polish pastries were served up annually on the day before Lent, a period of abstinence observed by some Christians. Originally, PACZKI were made to use up the lard and eggs which were prohibited during lent. Now, they’re more of a last-minute indulgence of sweets before lent begins. Whatever your past, all enjoy the tasty treat of PACZKI, which means “little package” in Polish.
The new world version, like the old, is a rich dough deep fried, just like a donut. National Bakery offers a rich regular dough and an extra rich butter dough. The Paczki are filled with raspberry, or the traditional prune. Raisin Paczki have the raisins mixed into the dough. Toppings include a smooth sugar glaze, granulated sugar, or icing. It’s 100% quality or it’s not PACZKI!
PACZKI on PACZKI DAY are becoming what chocolate is to St. Valentine’s Day and what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving, as many people share them with friends, families, and co-workers. In previous years, bakeries claimed Halloween as the traditional season that sold the most donut treats, now areas of the country show that “PACZKI” slaes surpass even their #1 bakery holiday of Christmas.”