It’s Been a Good Year…

As my Facebook kindly reminded me this morning, I officially said goodbye to Arizona and moved back to California one year ago today. I know I seem to say it a lot in my posts, but this last year has probably been one of the best.

I was not happy in Arizona. I had a couple good friends (hi Tricia and Jolene!) but aside from that, I had no roots there. ¬†I was there for six years and never really let myself establish anything because I knew I didn’t want to be there forever. My life there was really lonely– my family was in California, my boyfriend was across the country in Connecticut, and my best friends were either back home or in other states (this I am used to though!) I told my mom, time and time again, that I felt like life was just passing me by. I saw everyone moving forward in jobs, relationships, and just life in general, and I was still not even living where I wanted to. Everyone’s life seemed to be in this straight, easy path and mine had zigzagged all over, leaving me still somewhere I wasn’t happy to be.

 

I’ve spent the last year exactly where I want to be and with the people I longed to be with the most (minus some people are still in other states ūüėČ ). That zigzagging road finally took me right to where I wanted it to! Enjoy the picture overload of some of my favorite things from the past year.

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#teacherstats

There is this thing floating around Facebook that I’ve seen several of my teacher friends post. Usually I don’t click on them or try them on my own, but this one was super cool because it was all about #teacherstats! Here is mine:

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It’s insane to me that I’ve been teaching for 7 years! And what’s even more insane is the amount of students I’ve taught. This is obviously just an estimate but for 6 years, I taught middle school (still technically do although 6th grade to me will always be elementary school) which means I taught a crazy amount of students. It’s a wonder how I was able to memorize all those names!

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a teacher. I’ve always loved school and I did well enough (A’s and B’s and graduated in the top 40 of my 500+ high school class– I know, I’m bragging). I can’t even say teaching was always in the back of my mind for a potential career because it never was. I knew I wanted to do something that helped others and somehow it ended by being teaching.

The first 6 years of my teaching career were tough. I taught middle school (already super tough) in a very low-income area of Phoenix. I had kids talking back constantly, kids who failed but were passed on to the next grade, kids who were (maybe) suspended for fighting/cursing at their teachers, kids who did drugs in the bathroom, and even a kid who threatened me and another teacher (a police report was filed; I still get notices and currently a warrant is out for his arrest). Really, to say it was tough was an understatement. And when you pair that with administration that looks the other way and provides no support to teachers, it’s a recipe for disaster. I get mad that I let myself stay in a miserable place for 6 years but it’s so easy to sign a contract (in March, mind you. The school year isn’t even over until May and you have to sign a contract for the NEXT school year months before) over the risk of not finding another job. The district also had the highest pay in Phoenix (even over swankier places likes Scottsdale) and there was no way I could take a pay cut to leave.

During this time, I researched other careers SO many times. But what else can I do with a Bachelors in Sociology and a Masters in Education? Nothing that required more school. And so I kept teaching, dreading each day and coming home absolutely exhausted.

Last March, I didn’t sign my contract. It was the best feeling in the world. I had no job lined up, no definite source of income coming to me in the future, but man, to submit my resignation letter was the best. I remember texting my mom a picture of my name on the school board minutes when the resignation was approved (and um, why does it need approval? Ridiculous) because I was that excited. The first few weeks of summer were¬†stressful; I applied to dozens and dozens of jobs. And if I wasn’t applying, I was looking. Luckily I didn’t have to wait or look for too long. I only did one interview/demo lesson at another school before I accepted the job at my current school.

This past school year has (almost) erased all the poor memories of my previous teaching years. Despite the tough days that still do happen, I love my 6th graders. They exhaust me in a very different way than my previous students. This type of exhaust is a good one– they challenge me to be a better teacher and it’s sad that it took me 7 years to finally start being the teacher I wanted to be. And it definitely doesn’t hurt that my administration is the best. I now take pride in saying that I’m a teacher and don’t have to fake liking what I do. I still daydream about what it would be like to be a travel blogger or an interior designer, but I can happily say now that I chose the best career for me. And while I may not have a ton of money in my bank account or have the funds for all the places I want to travel, bags I want to buy, or shoes I wish I could have, I am fairly positive I have the best job in the world.

Shows to Binge

After teaching 6th graders all day and giving directions, answering the same question a thousand times, pulling small groups, grading essays, tutoring after school, running book club, etc, etc, etc, I am all about relaxing in front of the TV. Netflix is great because there are no commercials and you can watch back to back to back (to back) episodes. Here are my favorite shows on Netflix and ones I recommend to binge on:

Friends: Okay, so this is probably a very cliche first choice but I can’t help it. Friends is tied up there for my favorite show and I can watch it over and over again. I love that the episodes are only 20 minutes without commercials and I love that even though the show ended over 10 years ago, it’s still just as funny. I’ve probably watched the series in it’s entirety three or four times. It’s the perfect show to have on in the background when doing some work or laundry. I’m fairly certain most have seen at least a couple episodes, but do yourself a favor and start at the very beginning!

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Friday Night Lights: Friday Night Lights is tied with Friends as my favorite show. This is one that I recommend to literally everyone because it has something that everyone could like. There is a lot of depth to each of the characters and storylines and it does it’s job so well that you’ll be wanting to live in Texas before long. While the show is about football, it’s not necessarily ABOUT football (if that makes sense… ). Give it a whirl for an episode or two and you’ll be hooked! Side note: Michael and my dad both love this show. I have very different taste than them in TV, yet we all still watched this one!

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Broadchurch: SO SO SO GOOD! This British show has two seasons and each is only about 10 episodes which means that you will fly right through. The first season investigates the disappearance and murder of a young boy and everyone in the small village is a suspect. You find out who the killer is at the end of the season and the second season follows the trial of said person. This, behind FNL, is the one I recommend the most to people. It’ll keep you guessing until the very end (and then probably infuriate you).

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The Office: You can’t go wrong with The Office! Like Friends, this is one that is, at this point, easy to have on in the background while I’m doing something else. I don’t work at a typical “office” but this is exactly how I picture it to be… or wish it was! Jim and Pam are my favorite (would you expect anything else?) and as much as I like my principal, I wouldn’t mind Michael Scott stepping in for the day. One person I can do without? Dwight. I know, I said it.

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Gossip Girl:¬†Two words: Chuck Bass. My college roomies and I loved watching this one together. If you love drama, fashion, and New York City, this one is for you! As always with these teen dramas, it’s very unrealistic but I think thats why it’s also really fun.

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Pretty Little Liars: This one will take commitment on your part to make it through but I guarantee you’ll like it if you do! If you love a good mystery (we are in the last half of the final season and STILL DON’T KNOW WHO A IS!), PLL is for you. The show can be very tween-y at times (and extremely unrealistic) but it’s kept me hooked for 7 seasons so it must be doing something right! The season ends in several weeks and I am probably going to re-watch again at some point to see if I can pick up on any clues along the way.

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New Girl:¬†I admit, I am not up to date on New Girl but do enjoy it when I need a break from more intense shows (see below ūüėČ ). Jessica Day’s quirkiness can get a wee bit annoying at times, but her wardrobe certainly makes up for it. And I’m pretty sure Schmitt makes me laugh about 10 times every episode.

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Some other good ones are:¬†Stranger Things, Hart of Dixie, Grey’s Anatomy, Master of None, Freaks and Geeks,¬†and¬†One Tree Hill.

Also, here are some documentaries that you should check out: Making a Murderer, Amanda Knox, Blackfish, 13th, and Planet Earth.

What shows are on your Netflix list?

Life Lately

Happy Sunday! Hope y’all had a relaxing weekend and are ready for the week ahead. I used to dread Sunday SO much because it meant one more sleep until I had to do the whole repeat of the work week. I don’t dread it so so much anymore but am definitely already counting down again til Friday. Here are some of the highlights from the last week or so:

Meet Henry!

Last weekend, the family gained a new member! Henry is an 8-week old Jack Russell and he is THE CUTEST THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD! He and Pippy are becoming fast BFFs which I love the most. She is so gentle with him and he follows her around everywhere. I think my family’s text thread is all dog pictures at this point and I am definitely okay with it. Unfortunately I won’t have the same amount of baby Henry time as I did with Pippa but you can definitely bet that I will be visiting whenever I can to get my dose of puppy!

Summer plans…

My summer is definitely filling up quickly! With the four weeks of summer school and professional development I’ll be doing, it leaves only 3 weeks of actual vacation. And those three weeks are fully booked, too. Michael and I will be in Washington D.C. for a week for his sister’s wedding, Whitney has her flight booked to visit me, and this past week I booked a flight to visit her in Boise at the end of July. Phew! Busy, busy, busy. ¬†Oh, and a friend and I bought tickets to see Justin Bieber at the Rose Bowl in August! ūüėČ Summer, you’re going to be FUN!

Snowden

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Michael and I rented “Snowden” on Friday night and it was super good! It was slow to start and I was initially really confused with all the technology/government jargon but I’m glad we held out and finished it. I didn’t really play close attention when the documents were leaked a couple years ago but have been reading up on it a ton today. I’m torn with my thoughts on it… obviously it was classified information and he deserves some consequences for exposing it. I know I’m willing to lose some privacy in order for my government to keep me safe. But there is also a line to that and I think he thought it had been crossed and he was standing up for what he believed in. That’s my very surface level thought on the issue ūüôā But anyways, definitely check it out! And put a sticker on your computer camera since you’re being watched…

Teacher Appreciation Week

This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week and boy, did I feel appreciated. My students, their parents, and my school’s admin and operations team kept the surprises coming all week. We had a lunch theme everyday that kept us well fed and my kids spoiled me with gifts. My favorite were the cards and I will forever cherish them. Teaching is not an easy gig. Some days I have absolutely no patience, other days I question my abilities to help my kids grow as learners, but most days I am fairly certain I have the best job in the world.

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Those were the highlights of this past week! Hope y’all have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

City Views

In my year of living in Los Angeles, I’ve been on more “hikes” (I say this with quotes because I don’t use a walking stick and don’t carry a backpack that could sustain me for days, but I still think climbing up a hill on a dirt path qualifies as a hike…) than I ever did during my six years in Arizona. One reason why is because the weather here allows for more outdoor time. But the main reason I’ve come to enjoy hiking so much is because of the views. I’m not a desert landscape type of gal. Give me a city-scape though? Yes, please! Here are some of my favorite places to hike in the area.

Griffith Park

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Ernest E. Debs Regional Park

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Eaton Canyon 

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Stough Canyon

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And these next two aren’t hikes, but two of my other favorite spots to wog (walk/jog, remember?) because the views are great, too.

Vista Hermosa 

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Orange Grove, Pasadena

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April Book Review

This month’s reading included a ton of young adult contemporary novels as well as a couple “thrillers.” I was able to read 8 books this month which brings my yearly total to 18. Here are the books that I read this month. And as always, if you have any suggestions for me, be sure to leave a comment!

Unknown-1Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

This may be the one of the best books I’ve read so far this year*. And the best part is this author has a TON of other books for me to dig into! This book follows Lindsay who left her abusive husband years earlier. Fast forward ten years later when her ex-hubby, Andrews, gets out of jail (serving time for reckless driving and killing the other driver) and weird things start happening. They suspect it is Andrew trying to make her pay for leaving him years ago. The book kept me hooked the entire time and I’ll definitely be checking out other books by this author.

 

Never Never by Colleen HooverUnknown

Yupp, I read another Colleen Hoover book! This one she wrote with Tarryn Fisher. It was a super short read (one of the reasons why I wanted to read it) and was somewhat enjoyable. The book is told by alternating narrators, Silas and Charlie, who “wake up” in the middle of their day having no idea who they are or where they are. Helping each other, they both try to figure out who they are and why their memory got erased. It was a quick read and was decent¬†enough. I didn’t connect to the characters like I have in other Colleen Hoover books but if you’re looking for a super quick read, this may be a winner.

24422492Never Never Part 2 by Colleen Hoover

The first book left on a cliffhanger (or really, it just ended) so of course I needed to read the second book. It picks right up where the first left off and you come to find out that Silas and Charlie’s memories are erased every 48 hours. They have been writing down notes for their “new” selves to remember and try to figure out what is happening to them. I finished this one in about 2 hours. Still enjoyable but still not connecting to the characters like I usually do. Yet right after I finished this book, I downloaded the third…

 

Never Never Part 3 by Colleen HooverB01A2COA88.MZZZZZZZ

…and finished it in about 2 hours as well. These weren’t the best books I’ve very read whatsoever. The whole premise was weird and even in book three, I still cared very little about the characters. If you like Colleen Hoover, I’d say check these ones out. Or if you’re in the mood for a super quick, easy read. Otherwise I’d say spend your reading time on something a wee bit better.

 

 

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Unknown*I thought¬†Never Let You Go was the best book I’ve read so far this year until I finished this one. The book starts with Will and Iris celebrating their seventh anniversary. The next morning, Will gets on a flight to Orlando. Fast forward a few hours later when Iris learns of a plane crash and finds out Will was on board. The kicker? The plane was headed to Seattle, not Orlando. Iris’ life begins to unravel when she realizes how little she knows about her husband and how he had been lying to her for years. There were tons of twists and turns and I gasped out loud at least twice. I also stayed up until 1030 to finish it¬†and if you know me, something has to be really good for me to stay up past by bedtime. I am hoping this author has more books!

 

First & Then by Emma Mills

{84C2BFC3-6FBC-49DE-83DA-01DF25C289BF}Img400The old saying goes, “never judge a book by it’s cover.” Oops. I did with this one. The cover of this book is BEAUTIFUL! I saw it at Barnes and Noble forever ago, took a picture of it, and added it to my E-libary wish list. It took a couple of chapters to get into but I ended up enjoying it. Devon’s family takes in her cousin Foster after his father dies and his mother is unable to care for him. He is different and Devon is extremely protective and worried he won’t fit in. Foster ends up finding his place on the football team of all places and Devon continues to figure out her new life, with her new cousin and new relationships. Overall, an easy read. Somewhat predictable but really, aren’t all YA books?

Steering the Stars by Autumn Doughton and Erica Cope

51+kqM9m-HL._SY300_This book was super cute! It follows two best friends, Hannah and Caroline, and is told from their points of view in alternating chapters. Hannah is a writer and gets an opportunity to spend a year abroad in London at a prestigious school where she can work on her craft. That leaves Caroline in Oklahoma, where she has to navigate her junior year without her best friend. I really enjoyed both characters, as well as all the secondary characters. I read this one in less than 24 hours… because it was super easy and also because I enjoyed it. I sometimes am disappointed when books end because I want to stay with the characters a little longer and find out what happens, and this is one of those books. I would love for there to be a sequel.

 

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

{4EC78560-15E3-4EF2-8432-047F1705B873}Img400Okay, so I only read about 25% of this book in April. I had checked it out several weeks ago but in the middle of reading it, my loan period ended so it was deleted from my Kindle. There was no way I was going to buy the book when I was almost done with it, so back on the waiting list I went. Jessie moves to Los Angeles after her mother dies and her dad meets someone new. LA is totally different from her life in Chicago and the book follows her trying to navigate her new surroundings. Insert SN, an anonymous boy who begins emailing (and then texting) Jessie. There are several people who you think could be SN, but you don’t find out until the very last chapter. This one was a typical YA book, so of course I enjoyed it.

I am currently in the middle of¬†Cancel the Wedding. You’ll have to come back next month for that review. Happy reading!

What’s Up Wednesday

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I am linking up again with Mix and Match Mama¬†for What’s Up Wednesday. I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately so this post falls at a perfect time to cover all the bases of what I’ve been up to.

What I’m eating this week:

I am never eating anything too special. I don’t really cook full-on meals because of my current kitchen situation. Let’s just say that I am excited for a new apartment in July. Until then, it’s pretty easy meals. I did want to share two of my favorite Los Angeles restaurants so if you’re in the area, check them out!

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Home: There are two locations but I prefer the one in Los Feliz simply because of the outside seating area. It’s whimsical! I’ve only eaten here for brunch and but they have lunch/dinner options, too. Come early because it gets crowded!

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Panini Cafe: This is Michael’s favorite (thanks Kelley for the recommendation) and I’ve started to love it too for their breakfast options. I always get a breakfast wrap with fruit. Very filling and very yummy! The patio area at all locations are great for people watching, too.

What I’m reminiscing about:

It’s weird to think that I’ve almost been back in California for a year. I don’t know at what point I’ll stop describing me living here as being “back.” This time last year though I was finishing up the school year and packing up my apartment. I hate to admit that I was mentally checked out at work, but I definitely was. I was just counting down the days until I was done with my old school and was back home. Fast forward about 365 days later, and I am oh so much happier in every single way.

What I’m loving:

I am loving the spring weather! I’ve been spending a lot of time outside. Michael and I went hiking last weekend and checked out the LA Times Festival of Books at USC, where we ate lunch and read outside for a bit. My new school is all indoors so I don’t get to enjoy the weather during the day, but make sure to do a wog (walk/jog because let’s be honest, I don’t run) a few days a week after work. The picture below is the view on one of my walks this week. I love finding hidden gems like this one. The time change also helps and I love that it stays lighter later. Ask me in about 3 months if I’m loving the weather and I’ll probably say it’s too hot. I am enjoying it for now though!

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What I’ve been up to:

Most days seem like Groundhogs Day: wake up, traffic, work, traffic, work out, make dinner, watch tv, read, sleep, and repeat. With the events (aka stress) of the last month or so though, I will take Groundhogs Day!

What I’m dreading:

I don’t really think there is anything that I’m really dreading at the moment.

What I’m working on:

I am working on some (potential) travel plans! I have a few trips coming up (roomies, we need to start planning for our next Roomie Weekend) and I think I can talk Michael into a weekend trip to somewhere like Santa Barbara or San Diego. I’m also hoping to take a bigger trip over Winter Break. I have three weeks off so it would be the perfect time. I am throwing out ideas to Michael and the latest thought was Costa Rica. I went in high school and loved it. I remember it being really affordable too, and I’m not against traveling to places I’ve already been. I’ll probably look into some other Central/South America destinations. Europe is at the very top of my list, but I’ll save that until I have plentyyyy of time to see it all.

What I’m excited about:

SUMMER! With Spring Break behind me, I am now looking forward to summer. We have 7 weeks off, but I will be doing summer school for a majority of it so 7 weeks off turns into 3 weeks off. I know I shouldn’t complain; teachers get time off/holidays off/breaks during the year, but teaching is a hard gig and I look forward to my time off! But I also can’t complain about summer school either– I basically make a full days pay for only half a days work. My three weeks off will be spent relaxing, traveling to Washington D.C., and hanging with my bestie when she visits. Whitney hasn’t booked her flight yet, but it’s been discussed so I am counting it as a done deal ūüôā

What I’m watching/reading:

I am, of course, watching my usual shows. Pretty Little Liars started back up again and I am anxious to see how it ends. Married at First Sight is back on and The Bachelorette is also back next month! And not long after that, Bachelor in Paradise!

During break, I binged on¬†13 Reasons Why. I thought it was really well done and definitely worth a watch. It’s way heavier than I thought it would be though. I read the book years ago and definitely didn’t remember most of what happened. Some of the scenes are really graphic and I wanted it to have a happy ending (spoiler: it doesn’t) but still enjoyed it and found myself rooting for (some of) the characters even though I knew how it would end. If you need a new show, check it out. And then find something happy to watch after!

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As for reading, I am currently one book 9 for April with¬†Cancel the Wedding. Not sure if I will be done with it by the time by April Book Review post is up, but at the speed I read, it’s pretty likely.

What I’m listening to:

I heard two really good songs while watching 13 Reasons Why:

The Only Boy Awake by Meadows

The Night We Met by Lord Huron

And I also heard this one during the movie,¬†Gifted¬†(highly recommend!). I know it’s old but I’d never heard it before:

The Wind by Cat Stevens (the video I found for this one is super weird…)

What I’m wearing:

If you are a reader like me and want to share your love of books, check out these t-shirts from Book Shelf Tees.¬†I found the online store via Instagram and fell in love with the adorable prints. I’ve ordered one shirt and have sent another as a gift. And you’re in luck because right now, everything in the shop is 20% off with the code MOTHERSDAY.

What I’m doing this weekend:

I will be enjoying an after-work hike and happy hour with co-workers on Friday followed by spin class the next morning. On Sunday, Michael and I will go out to Corona for a birthday lunch for my grandma and to meet a new member of the family (stay tuned for that post soon!). I’m not sure what the plans are for Saturday. We haven’t been to Disneyland for awhile so that will probably happen soon and we also have a Groupon for The Museum of Tolerance that we need to use at some point. And of course, some work because lesson plans and grading never seem to end.

What I’m looking forward to next month:

There are no special plans for May yet, but it’s just that much closer to summer!

What else is new:

That’s about it!