The very first thing Chris and I did when we started wedding planning was look for a venue. Good venues book FAST, and even though we started looking a year and a half away, when we actually booked (only a week or two after we started looking!), we had limited dates to choose from.
We discussed where we would generally want it, and then I started looking online from there. We knew we didn't care if it was in the same city we're currently located or if it was the city we were from, etc., as long as it was only a few hours away from everyone, at most. We were very open to the location. Many of our friends/immediate family are in one location, so having something fairly close to everyone was important to us- even if we ended up in another state, we could always buy plane tickets for ourselves, rather than have EVERYONE fly.
We also knew what "type" of wedding we wanted- something more outdoorsy and rustic, not a traditional church wedding. A 'one-stop' location where we could hold the ceremony and reception was ideal.
I searched and found 5-6 places I thought fit the bill that I really liked, then I looked at them with Chris and we settled on one that was our favorite from the first time we looked at it. We called and made plans to check it out in person (which I think is incredibly important- it was smaller than what we saw from pictures, but it still worked for us) and discuss more details.
Once we saw everything and talked in more detail about the venue, what's offered, what the price was, etc., we decided that the price was what we could afford and was reasonable, especially for a place we loved!
The main advice I would give is to do your research and visit prospective venues in person. This will help you narrow down your choices and picture everything. Know what your venue provides, doesn't provide, and what restrictions they have. Our venue has a lot of regulations, so we have to either be okay with it or look elsewhere- I know everyone wouldn't be okay with a lot of rules. This is one of the most important aspects of your wedding day! Don't rush with your selection, but once you know, jump on it, as locations get booked quickly. Another helpful aspect is to be flexible with the date, if you can. Chris and I were very open-minded with ours, and it helped. Our place (and other places may too!) discounted some summer months- like IN HALF- so if we didn't care too much about it being half indoors/half outdoors, we would have taken advantage of it. We just couldn't do it though, since we live in Florida and wanted our guests to actually enjoy our day ;)
The picture above is not our venue, but one of the ones we were considering. I can't wait to share pictures of everything after the wedding!
Do you have any advice for couples looking to book a venue? Tell us about the location you choose!
These are the next couple of books I've been reading... (Check out the first 4 books I read in 2017 here!) and unfortunately, I liked the first set better. I'm so glad I started my own book challenge (going on until the end of June- join anytime!) because it's been helping me stay on top of my reading. I've read more books this year than the past two years combined... and I really hate admitting that.
I would have at least one more on here, but instead of listening to an audiobook, I've been binging on Up and Vanished! It is SO good- right up there with Serial (season 1) for me. Have you listened to it? What do you think?
But anyway, here are my reviews on my recent books-
A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
I had never read a book about anyone who had been kidnapped before, and this was so heart-wrenching. *spoiler* I'm glad that it ultimately had a good ending. I feel like the general population has misconceptions about what a kidnapping looks like or what victims go through, and although this is only one person's story, it definitely made me think a lot more about these situations and what kind of strength it takes to survive.
4/5 stars (304 pages) published 2011
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
It took me forever to finish this. When I first started listening to it when it came out, I could only get through a few chapters because it was SO creepy/awkward and voyeuristic. However, when I returned to it, it got much better and I was definitely hooked after a while. I loved the twist at the end and really enjoyed the last third of the book. This is a book to consider reading if you like darker, mystery novels.
3.75/5 stars (336 pages) published 2015
My Story by Elizabeth Smart & Chris Stewart
I found this book to be extremely repetitive. The end turned out to be better than most of the beginning/middle, but I felt like a lot of this was catered to the rumors that Elizabeth heard about herself- like that she has Stockholm syndrome (because she continually said she never developed any attachments to her kidnappers). I enjoyed A Stolen Life (as much as one could while listening to the horrors of what Jaycee had to go through...), so I thought I would enjoy this one too. It was okay, definitely not one of my favorites.
2.5/5 stars (320 pages) published 2013
I would be curious to see how you liked these books if you've read them! I know The Girl on the Train was very popular a few years ago, but it took me a while to finally get to it. I haven't seen the movie, but I heard it was worse than the book (is any movie better than the book, though?!).
This post was inspired by Carly at The College Prepster. She recently wrote about her ideal weekend, and I loved this idea. I read a few of the comments on her post, and it's amazing how everyone has a different idea of their perfect weekend. One of the comments I read was about someone who wanted to fill every second of their Saturday and Sunday... that is definitely not my perfect weekemd!
I am a serious homebody, but I do like to go out! It honestly depends who I'm with and what we're doing. Sometimes people and activities are recharging, and sometimes they're super draining. I think I'm more sensitive to this as an introvert.
My ideal weekend is a mix between staying at home relaxing and being productive, and doing something fun out of the house. So, doing something out of the house could be waking up around 7:30/8, getting ready quickly, and taking the dogs to the dog park for an hour. On the way to the park, we like to grab slushies from Sonic. Another thing I'd love to get out and do would be going to a nice restaurant with an outside seating area with a live band (if it's not too hot). Also, getting a coffee/tea or lunch with a friend and talking for an hour or two. At most, I would do 1-2 of these things for a well-rounded weekend.
As for my time in the house, I would want to relax and catch up on shows (Scandal, some reality TV, maybe a movie, etc.), and play some games on my phone (Hay Day, Hearthstone, etc.). I also love to browse Bloglovin', read a little bit, and perhaps create some posts.
But, I also don't like it if I'm too lazy, so I would make sure to clean up the house (sweep, mop, tidy up, do the laundry, some other cleaning), work on some outstanding projects for work (like online professional development courses, some lesson plans, or creating for teacherspayteachers). I might also throw in a nice home-cooked meal for Chris. ;)
Ideally, I'd have a nice balance between time with Chris and time to myself to make sure I can do what I like and be productive, and he can get time to himself as well. Obviously there would be plenty of snuggle time with our puppies, too!
When my weekend is too hectic, it feels like I don't get a break- I am not one of those people who can constantly be on the go, making several plans a day. I need time to relax at home and not do anything, but have some time leftover for responsibilities that can get neglected when the workweek gets crazy.
What does your ideal weekend look like? I would love to hear how others like to spend their free time!
If you haven't heard about the ABC Countdown before, it's a fun way to count down to the end of the school year! The last 26 days of school are themed- one letter-themed day for each of the 26 days. You can make this as elaborate or as simple as you want/need! Also, this does not have to be an all day thing! Some of mine will only be 1 hour or so.
I've included some ideas for each letter/day, and I bolded the days that I'll be doing, with some resources for my choices. If you like the theme that I picked for a day, feel free to use the same links. If you only like a handful of my days, use what you'd like! Hopefully this helps both teachers and students get through the end of the school year...
These are all FREE resources that I found through TeachersPayTeachers.
A- Art, Awards, Author, American, Addition
B- Beach, Books, Bingo, Buddy reading
C- Cookie, Camping, Crazy hair, Crazy socks, Character
D- Drawing, Donut, Dress-up
E- Earth, Eric Carle, Extra recess, Exercise, Eat lunch in class, Experiment
F- Finger painting, Favorite, Future, Fitness, Flashlight, Fruit
G- Game, Go Noodle
H- How-to, Helper, Hawaii
I- Ice pop, International, I (share about you), Indoor recess
J- Joke, Jersey, Jammie, Journal, Jelly beans
K- Kettle corn, Koo Koo Kangaroo, Kindness
L- Lollipop, Lights out, Letter, Legos, Lunch with teacher
M- Music, Memory, Mismatch, Movie, Minute-to-win-it
O- Outside, Outrageous outfit, Origami
P- Play-doh, Poetry, Picnic, Popcorn, Pajama
Q- Quiz, Quiet read, Question, QR code, Quiver, Quilt
R- Reading, Recess, Rainbow, Running, Rotation
S- Stuffed animal, Story time, STEM/Science, School spirit, Sports
T- Twin, Teacher, Time capsule, Treat, Toy, Tye dye
U- USA, Used book, Under (desk), Uno, University, Unforgettable
V- Video, Vacation, Visitor
W- Water, Walk, Weather, Wacky, Watch a movie, Wild, Wild, West
X- X marks the spot, X & O (tic tac toe), eXtraordinary awards, eXtra fun, eXercise
Y- You (celebrate each kid), Yoga, Yarn, Year end (party)
Z- Zoo, Zero, Zoom out of school
Have you ever done the ABC countdown? What are some of your favorite resources?
I know it's only mid-April, but it's never too early to make a to-do list! They're honestly one of my favorite lists to make, and it's such a great feeling to be able to cross things off once they're done... especially if it's something important and/or it's taken forever to get crossed-off.
1. FINISH WEDDING PLANNING / SECURING CONTRACTS
This gives me such anxiety. I haven't secured my photographer and DJ yet (even though I've spoken with them several times and drafts were sent back and forth). It's mostly just the cross-communication that I have to do and all the thinking ahead- there are just WAY too many details to iron out. I feel like it's hard for me to explain, but I'll try my best... for example, in order to secure the photographer contract, I have to know what time to schedule her- the standard 8, or longer if I want her to shoot everyone getting ready, etc. So, in order to get that straight, I have to contact the venue to make sure times are straight, but the venue is restrictive in many cases, so Chris and I have to many several 'small' decisions before getting back to the photographer and it's just taking up too much brain space right now with the end of school year insanity and all the other regular life demands. I know this isn't a huge deal, but it's definitely weighing heavily on me. I need to just get everything FIGURED OUT ASAP.
2. CREATE / FINISH / POST PRODUCTS FOR TPT
I must've started and neglected about 5-6 products by now... for some reason not having the drive or energy to finish them in a timely manner (or at all, it seems). I FINALLY uploaded my first product, which has to be a freebie, so that's a serious step in the right direction. Also, I am currently working on something that I am proud of both content-wise and aesthetically, AND I'm trying it out in my classroom first to iron out the kinks and to make sure it's the highest quality before putting it up. Because of all this, I am only slowly creating content, and I still don't really have anything up or finished- summer would be the perfect time to get things completed.
3. EXERCISE REGULARLY / EAT HEALTHIER
Not only do I want to be physically fit for the multiple health and wellness benefits, but I also want to look my best on my wedding day! I am not focused on losing weight, rather, getting stronger and fit in general. I need to figure out if I should commit to going to the gym a few times a week or trying something like Dailyburn so that I don't have that added travel obstacle. Or, should I just commit to something 'small,' like walking my dogs twice a day, every day? I don't walk them as much as I should, so this is a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. I have been trying to cut added sugar, drink more water, and make healthier eating choices, but I need to maintain what I'm doing, and even make better choices more regularly. I hate feeling lethargic after eating junk food!
4. FOCUS ON THE BLOG
I really want to put more time and energy into this blog! I already commit a decent amount to it, but I really only get the posts done, and I don't focus on the promotion or growth (as far as 'how can I improve what I'm doing?'). Not only do I want to keep improving content, I also want to improve everything else- SEO, how the site looks, taking better photographs, etc. Summer would be a fantastic time to catch up on getting posts written to keep in the queue, take courses I've paid for but haven't gotten around to yet, and researching/improving.
5. DEEP CLEAN THE CAR
I'm pretty good at staying on top of keeping things running smoothly under the hood (regular maintenance), however, with daily life and transporting the dogs mainly in my vehicle only, it's gotten messier than I would like. It needs an inside AND outside deep cleaning. Ideally, I would just go to a really good hand wash car wash, but in order to get everything I want done, it wouldn't be worth spending the money right now... I am hardcore trying to save for the wedding/honeymoon. This just means that I have to carve out some time to be thorough with my car- maybe a few hours for the inside on Saturday, and a few hours for the outside on Sunday.
Do we have any of the same or similar things on our to do lists? I could come up with more... like deep cleaning/clearing out our apartment, but I have faith that it'll get done anyway.
What does your summer to do list look like?
So it's been a little over 3 months since I posted about my one little word for the year: passion. I am embarrassed to say that I had to look up what my word was... so that lets you know where I am on this journey so far this year.
When I did OLW in 2015, I felt like I was on top of it and constantly thinking about it. I'm not sure what's changed between then and now- maybe because I was much more in on the blogging scene- reading about everyone's OLW, writing about it monthly, planning to skydive (which fit my connection to the word perfectly), and still doing project life fairly frequently. Today, I am much more withdrawn from this world (unintentionally!). Being so new to my career and getting used to being an adult, I'm having to learn how to juggle everything... hence the reason why I chose passion for this year- I felt like I lost it in a lot of aspects.
Doing these check-ins help me stay on track and keep me accountable. Even though I forgot what my word was for this year, I think I'm doing a decent job trying to fill the void. I got back into blogging, I am trying to jumpstart my TPT store, and got back into reading a bit. Slowly, but surely, I am making positive changes!
In regards to being passionate about a career, I believe I'm getting there. The first half of the year was still tough for me, even being in a drastically more positive environment, however, the last few weeks have been pretty great. Not in the sense that they've been easy, but just that something has shifted- likely my mindset, and I've realized that I do love a lot of aspect of my job, and that maybe if I keep sticking with it, I will grow to love it that much more. As of right now, I've strayed from trying to find another career. I want to make this work!
While I certainly won't be doing monthly updates, checking in every few months will be helpful, and I hope that if you're doing OLW, you're doing something similar. I know quite a few people journal about it every month, and that would be a wonderful thing to work up to (or a great possibility for next year!).
How are you doing with your one little word for the year?
[For the most part...] 1. One purely fun activity each week
I'm doing mine on Fridays... and in case admin comes in, I can justify it as a 'fun friday' activity. I asked my students to take a few minutes to jot down suggestions for class dojo prizes when we 'redeem' our points at the end of the week. Some of the suggestions included coloring/drawing time, so I figured a coloring sheet for 30 minutes would be a great way to end our first Friday back while I help students with their dojo point choices. I used this one (pages 2-3, I did a front/back, 1 page copy).
I've also been doing more fun, hands-on projects like shape monsters and incorporating more games, although they aren't purely fun- they've still got an academic purpose with those.
[Not Yet!] 2. Parents write 1 goal they have for their child to accomplish before May
Honestly, I forgot about this one. Can I say I crossed this off since our school participates in APTT? During APTT, parents come up with one reading and one math goal for each child. But now that I'm thinking more about this goal and whether or not I want to do it, I think I want to write something up to send home (something quick for both parties to encourage participation-which I will share with you all!). Having the kids focus on one goal will hopefully push them during these last few months.
[Trying my best!] 3. Give each child a compliment daily
This one is hard to keep track of, but I think I've been trying more to implement this. Whether it's because someone is trying their best, have made improvements, or I really like their shoes, I try make sure these kids feel loved! (I try not to focus on complementing their appearance, but I have to make note when someone gets a new haircut- it's a big deal to them!)
[Yes!] 4. Try at least 5 new motivators for behavior (like reindeer games, etc.)
The first day back, I started using table points (tried and true... not a unique one!). However, it seems to be working fairly well. I reward the table (or tables in case of a tie- I have 5 tables total) at the end of each day with something small- they get to pick a GoNoodle brain break, 7 dojo points, or a small piece of candy, etc. After a few weeks, I stopped using this and strayed from this one. But, I'm about to introduce a new one that I've been thinking about/working on for a while- a month of kindness! Be on the lookout for a post with more details soon!
[Pretty on top of this one!] 5. Try at least 5 new lesson/review ideas (like plickers, etc.)
I still haven't tried plickers with my kids, but I've been trying to introduce some lower maintenance things (at least to get started), like some strategies from Making Thinking Visible (another blog post coming in the future on some takeaways and strategies I loved). I also want to try a review bingo since my kids are alllll about the bingo!
[I still want to do this] 6. Make a class picture powerpoint
I want to do this, but I'm also thinking about having the students create scrapbooks as a really long, last-month-of-the-school-year project- just dedicating a few minutes each day for the scrapbook. I would have to print a bunch of photos, but I could probably do that for relatively cheap. Maybe create a class powerpoint for the parents (mostly), and have the kids create the scrapbook for themselves (mostly)... especially since they don't have yearbooks.
[Not yet, but definitely happening...] 7. Feature a student photo wall
I forgot about this! But, Mother's day is next month and I'm still keen on having the class do this for a gift. It's powerful and would make any mom/grandma/caregiver so happy! Plus, I know the kids will have fun with this. If I do this in the next few weeks, we can hang them up first before giving them as gifts, which will increase the excitement.
[Didn't happen- but could later?] 8. Host a march madness book tournament
Okay, the last two years, I've wanted to do this and guess what? It's still not happened. I guess I should've done this update sooner to catch this!! March is just a crazy month- spring break, testing, and end of the quarter... So unfortunately, I can't really do this, unless I do a similar book tournament but change the name. We'll see! ;)
[On the to-do list] 9. Make the last week of school the most memorable
I still have a while before school is out, even though we're finally on our last quarter. So, for that reason, I haven't been paying too much attention to the last week of school, but I think I want to do a reading camp similar to this where students read most of the day in a really fun atmosphere.
[Bringin' out the big guns soon!] 10. Emphasizing positive behavior
My idea for kindness month has come just in time! Taking a month to really focus on kindness will definitely check this off, and that will be in addition to my already positively-phrased reminders to make good choices, and really paying attention to the good that everyone does!
[Not so much...] 11. Cultivate a warm atmosphere
I haven't investigated how I can create a warmer atmosphere (I already use a wax warmer, dim the lights, and play some classical music), but it's next on my list! Anything to help combat the end-of-year wiggles!
[Lately, YES!] 12. Focus on the joyful parts of the day
After the last week in March, it should be pretty much smooth sailing. I had a few rough patches with this one, however, I feel like lately I've definitely found my groove and I almost DON'T want this year to end! So instead, I'm going to be intentional about my time with them and make it the best! It helps to incorporate more fun learning activities that both the class and I look forward to.
[Check!] 13. Go all out for the 100th day of school
I definitely had a big celebration that you can read about here. We read a lot of books, completed 100-themed activities like worksheets, and anchor charts, and 5 themed centers- it was a blast! I want to keep doing this every year and incorporate more treats.
[A fail so far, but hope is not lost] 14. Try at least 10 pinterest ideas
Oh man... I was super excited about this one but I still don't think I've really done any Pinterest research. I might've accidentally done one or two things, but not intentionally so I need to keep this in mind when the class and I are really feeling the end of the year blues. I need to keep them on their toes, and I think Pinterest will help!
[I've been getting so much better!] 15. ORGANIZE
It's crazy that I had to make this a point on my list because I love being organized, but it's taken me a while since I'm new to teaching. Along the way though, I've been slowly finding what works for me and I've found a love for subject binders with a tab for each child, and a 'catch-all' binder that has conference papers and important things that were signed. I still need to come up with a better system for MTWRF papers, but at least I've been better with printing papers out and keeping them somewhat organized!
[In due time...] 16. Try PBL (project based learning) once
I am on my way to making this one come true! I should have something at least started this month! I'm not sure what it will be yet but I'm very excited to try this and see how my students respond to it.
Let me know if you're trying the 16 before 16-17! It's not too late, especially if you don't get out of school until June! I'd also LOVE to hear any ideas or suggestions you have for any of my categories.
What do you want to incorporate in your classroom before the end of the year?
I would LOVE to see your own 16 before 16-17 lists! If you make one, please share it with me via comment below and/or on instagram @oshirodesigns #16before1617 - it would make my day :)
We had our engagement pictures taken a few weeks ago and I chose something from my closet... because I couldn't find the right dress that would arrive in time, and when I went in person, nothing looked good. So, to potentially help avoid that for someone else, here is a round-up of dresses worthy of engagement photos! (or for date night, a night out with friends, anything!)
Usually solid colors are a good choice, but depending on where you're having your photos taken, florals, stripes, and other prints could be a good option, too! I tried to add a mix of casual/flirty with more upscale/romantic.
You can click the pictures to go to the product or click on the links below! Let me know what you think of these dresses.
Green Maxi Dress - $64 - Lulu's
Blush Maxi Dress - $113 - ASOS
Tank Dress - $25.97 - Nordstrom Rack
Leggy Maroon Maxi - $49 - Venus
Dark Below Knee Dress - $61.97 - Chicwish
Semi-Sheer Floral - $27 - Forever 21
Casual Blue Stripe - $35.99 - Modcloth
Floral Exposed Shoulder - $29.97 - Hautelook
Would you wear any of these? What did you wear to your engagement shoot?
I am finally, FINALLY, attempting to do a creative project again! I've been feeling that it just takes so long to get everything together and started that I just haven't made it a priority. Well, when I remembered A Week in the Life a while ago, I looked into it and saw that it didn't start until mid-April, so in my head, I knew I could probably swing it. Now, as I'm writing this, a little over a week away, I still feel that way!
A Week in the Life's official start and end dates are: Monday, April 17th - Sunday, April 23rd. However, you can do your week in the life at any point you want to- start on a Wednesday if that's best for you, or only do M-F- this is your own project.
Since I still have enough time to prepare for it, that's exactly what I'm going to write about - how I'm preparing and what I want this documentation to look like. Hopefully this inspires you to do your own week. I love what Ali Edwards said in her post here, that no matter who you are and what stage of life you're in, it's worth documenting! Even if you're single, no pets, living at home, doing your daily grind, versus someone who has a whole family, a career, a side hustle, etc.- both stories, and all those in between, are worth telling.
Ali Edwards has a great shop that has digital and physical documentation items specifically for this week... take a peek here. The great thing about these products is that you can use them for this project and reuse them for other crafts or for Project Life- their usefulness doesn't have to stop on Sunday, April 23rd.
I don't think I'll be buying anything for this year's go-around, and I don't think I want to prep the pockets or cards ahead of time because I think that's the most fun and effective after I have all the pictures in hand.
Here's what I'm using:
Ali Edwards' Daily Planning Sheets (free!)- there are 14 pages overall, 2 dedicated for each day. One is an hourly breakdown to add important things that happened during the day, and the other is for noting things like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and gratitude, favorite moments, etc. I really don't think I'll fill everything in, especially each day, but it's there if I need it, which is a huge weight off- less I have to think about.
This is all I'm using because I'd rather do all the other stuff on the back-end, after I see my photos. There is no right or wrong way to do this, so prepare what works best for you!
Are you attempting to do a Week in the Life? How's yours going to look?
As summer draws near, we know how the kids can get- restless, lazy, and cranky! To try to combat that a little bit, I've created a one page letter to send home asking parents what they would like to see from their child by the end of the year, in roughly 2 months' time. (Having students focus on only 1 goal) Hopefully this will appease parents by asking what they would like to see improvement in before the long break, and will drive students to accomplish this goal.
Another reason why this is a great time to do it is because most of us just had our parent conferences, so parents are refreshed with what their child is succeeding in and what they need extra practice with.
I'm thinking about hanging these goals up so students can be reminded of them when they're getting a little out of hand. I've never tried this before, but I have high hopes! Have any of you done anything similar? Did you get a good response from parents and children?
This letter is in both English and Spanish, and is a free download at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It's a Word document, so it's easily customizable if you would like to alter some of the goals/verbiage.
I am new at creating products and am hoping to expand my store, so any feedback is very welcome. I'm currently working on a kindness project to put up, so be on the look out!
If you download this letter, let me know what you think! How was your experience?
Blog posts from 2014-2015 were transferred from my original blog on blogger, Oshiro Design, to my updated website, oshirodesigns.com