Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Outfit Inspiration: Belted Floral Top

found via Pinterest from The Life Pretty Anonymous
I love, love, love this outfit! A beautiful ruffley floral shirt + cardigan + belt + jean skinnies = great combo! I do have a floral top and could create an outfit quite similar to this one. Perfect for Spring (though, if you live in the PNW, might I suggest a pair of boots for this week?).

Happy Tuesday!

P.S. I checked out this fashion blog and it's authored by two sisters who enjoy fashion. They write anonymously with tasteful humor. I think I'll peruse their site a bit more!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Little Bit of Sunshine

found via Pinterest from here
Though much of today was sleepy, gray and rainy there were little bits of happiness. Each day has its own joys of course and all are worth noting. Sometimes I just don't write the details of every day, I think that would a bit too repetitious.

Being that I woke from a bizarre dream that was a combination of "Avengers" and "Harry Potter" (which were super realistic and oddly mixed in with other events in my life) I am glad that the rest of the day was mostly regular. As I was coming to, I noticed a bunch of voices outside that probably had added to the last strange moments of my dream. Groggily, I looked out the window and saw it was the once-per-trimester, 1 hour "community service" high school group (doing SOLV) gathering to go trudge through the creek area behind my house.

In my brightly colored pajamas I scurried through the house hoping no one would see me from the front window, in attempts to find my big orange wussy cat. I didn't want him to be traumatized. Thankfully I found him resting in a flower pot by the house in the backyard.

Unfortunately I had to go back outside within a couple of minutes (yes in a bright red oversized shirt and light pink pants) and entice Cheese out of the flower pot. I had to get him inside because the yard workers arrived and I knew he would freak out. So, with a lot of encouragement and a bowl of food acting as a "carrot" I got the big boy inside the back room. He didn't complain once he was locked in the back-- but why would he when he had breakfast, a warm place to rest his head and a safe haven from the scary things outside?!

Oh yes, in case you're wondering I think I managed to not be seen by the high schoolers but who knows. I did hear an odd whistley noise before going inside. I will assume they were making sounds for fun or to attract birds. Surely they would not pay attention to the red haired, brightly dressed lady calling to "Cheese."

Anyhoo... Around 11 AM I met with one of my girl cousins at a delicious cafe. I devoured a tasty turkey and aged white cheddar sandwhich while having a nice conversation. Though I was partly distracted by the guy behind me bumping his chair next to mine because the tables were too close. At one point I glanced at some part of the cafe and realized chair guy had on Army camo. I was amused. Then that's what reminded me that my all too strange-realistic dream did not include Captain America. Shame.

I am a bit off track now but hanging out was lovely and my tummy was stuffed. I felt energetic afterwards and at peace with the grayness. Thanks cuz :-)

While at the cafe I missed a few phone calls: one from my boss and another for a great friend. My boss left me a message saying I wasn't needed this week for Monday and Wednesday (new schedule starts this week) due to low numbers of kids. So that gives me more time this week to get settled. I am appreciative of this change of plans.

When I got home I called my friend Andrea and helped her out with ideas for a paper. I got all excited for her topic and loved having an in-depth conversation on education topics that are near and dear to my heart. I'm glad that we share similar views on teaching. :)

So, my friends, it's the little things in life that make an ordinary day more colorful. That's probably a cliche but that's okay right?

Sunshine knows how navigate it's way through the raindrops. Hip hip hooray!

Two Days is Not Enough

This weekend went by super fast just like the rest of them! Saturday was our last day of decent weather and now we're back to gray and rain... Sigh. I enjoyed the little visit of spring/summer - those sunny warm days put a smile on my face!

Anyhow, here's what my weekend was like... (via Instagram, follow me @ sincerelyangela1 if you'd like!)

Saturday -- Went to a small Farmers' Market with my B. Loved checking out the fun little produce stands along with other great homemade goods. I always enjoy the soaps and jewelry! We had a great day together which was super nice. Life gets pretty hectic sometimes and it's good to have moments to just BE.

 I almost bought myself a bouquet but decided against it. Perhaps next time! They're so lovely.

Had dinner with my parents at Mongolian Grill and then Baskin Robbins after... Yum!! Nothin' like some chocolate chip cookie dough as the finishing touch :)

Sunday -- Rainy, rainy day. Mom and I had several items we needed to pick up from stores so we putzed around town. We found some fun decorations for the bathroom and for outside the house, as you can see with this fun patriotic star. We'll probably keep it out until 4th of July!

Yesterday was a good day to get some running around done and it also included Starbucks. Yum!

 We went to a gardening center near home to get vegetables and flowers. We got three herbs (french thyme, basil and dill), two tomato plants, two varieties of corn and lots of seeds for different veggies. We planted the seeds in small containers so that they can start to sprout. I sure hope we get lots of vegetables out of our garden! :)

Once again.. here is to hoping for a good week!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fill in the Blank Friday: Cheerful

It's Friday! It's Friday! I have had one busy week of subbing and tutoring. So thankful it is the weekend -- my last few days of freedom before Summer semester starts. Ahh! 

Lauren @ the little things we do
I haven't done "Fill in the Blank Friday" for quite some time and thought I would join Lauren today. You can too -- she has an easy link up on her post! :) She was feeling happy today so her blanks reflect her mood.

1. Something that is very near and dear to my heart is teaching. There have been days where I questioned my choice but experiences like the one yesterday remind me that this is exactly what I am supposed to do. It's an honor to be an advocate for children and guide them along.

2.  Friday is a good cause to celebrate.

3. The most fun I ever had was hmm.... I have had lots of great times! I loved my trips to AZ but for overall fun --- probably my years at WOU getting my undergrad. I loved living in a small town and had a blast being "on my own." I also had some great goofy times with my girlfriends! I miss those days.

4. True friends are (Oh brother, I could write another post on this!) genuinely interested in you and accepts you the way you are. Good friends make each other better in the long-run but they do not try to change one another.

5. A good way to spend a sunny day is outside gardening, taking a walk or being totally lazy like a cat.

6. My favorite celebratory food is ice cream/frozen yogurt/chocolate. Yum!

Outfit Inspiration: Blazer + Shorts


A trend I am loving right now is the blazer and shorts combination. I like the mixture of casual and professional put together. I love all of the pieces that J. Crew combined -- a chambray shirt, a lighter blue (striped I think) blazer and navy blue/black shorts. With the weather being quite warm, this is good for errands, going out with friends or hanging with family members. Unfortunately, shorts are not a appropriate for teaching but this could be modified for that type of environment -- such as a skirt (knee length at least) or trousers/capris.

Three cheers for warmth, sunshine and blue skies! :) I am hoping this lovely weather continues....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We've Come a Long Way

"Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown." -- Anonymous

Found via Pinterest on "Wake Up in France"

I knew this day was coming for the past few weeks and have had mixed feelings. Since the school year began, I have been working at the tutoring center Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I teach children of different ages, most of the time I instruct reading but also do some math. I really enjoy working with children in such an individual way and love being able to get to know them.

In January I started working with a middles school girl every Tuesday and Thursday. I didn't add up the hours tonight but I am sure that was about 75 +. We spent lots and lots of time together working on the craft of writing. She has lots of great ideas but struggles to get them on paper in an organized manner. She's smart, talented and extremely creative. With all these wonderful things to say about her, I have to tell you-- I didn't feel this way in the beginning. Sure, I knew my role was to help her improve her writing skills and to push her along. However, I didn't realize that we were in for a journey and that we would arrive at this point.

The first few hours I worked with this girl were some of the most frustrating moments I have had since student teaching. She had a poor attitude, did not want to be at the tutoring center, and frankly, could have cared less about me. She refused to do the assignments and preferred to read her dark humored descriptive anime comic books. Some nights she would muster up the "strength" to get one spelling page done and maybe scritch down a few words on the assigned essay. There were evenings she came in super depressed and would completely shut down. I found myself unsure of what to do and allowed her to throw her fits. I did everything I could to encourage her but I wasn't going to continue to fall into the power struggle. I felt defeated. I'm an elementary teacher! I had no idea what to do with a middle schooler! I had anxiety and low motivation to tutor during that time. Needless to say, the beginning hours were awful and I kept hoping she would not always be at my table.

The schedule did not change.

She kept being at my table and all I could do was learn to go with the flow. I learned to deal with her moods, which was much like dealing with typical Oregon weather. Unpredictable. So, I did the best I could in approaching her each evening.

Somewhere in the middle of all this she decided I wasn't so bad and maybe..... just mayyyyyybe.... tutoring wasn't so bad either. I have no idea when the shift of attitude occurred but it took a big weight off my shoulders.

Once she started being an active participant, we accomplished so much together. We created a healthy relationship and a routine. As soon as she arrived she knew she had to complete a spelling page and then we would work on writing an essay. She learned that I truly cared about her and believed in her. Oh, I was passionate about seeing her succeed! I learned how to communicate with her. I learned how to sincerely compliment her so she felt valued and respected. She wasn't invisible to me. 

One of my favorite parts of seeing her grow was her realization that she could be anything she wanted. She is a gifted writer and has many many interesting stories. I truly think she could be a book author someday, if that's what she desires. It's humbling to have been a part of this process; all of the ups and downs. I saw her potential and wanted her to see it too.
This was my last Tues/Thurs night schedule because of a conflict with my summer courses, which starts next week. I broke the news to middle school girl (as Shannan would say -- homegirl) and she responded with disappointment and proceeded to tell me this, "...I like you."

I told her I liked her too.

And "We've come a long way...."

Oh yes, we have. I do hope our paths cross again soon.

Thank you girl, you have made me infinitely richer than a millionaire for that compliment. That means more to me than you can possibly know.

New Superheroes for Schools: Arts & Music

Credit: Scott McDowell (?)/Mercedes Benz
I recently read an article by Brett Zongker (Associated Press) about Sarah Jessica Parker adopting a Portland, Oregon school. SJP and two others are taking on "some of the nations worst-performing schools." How so?! Well, they are going to improve these schools with an arts education. Perhaps you can tell by the tone of my writing but that previous sentence was lathered in sarcasm and a hint of irritation.

First of all, I want to say that I think it is good that these schools are receiving this type of help. My issue is that the arts and music should never have been taken out in the first place. Yes, I am well aware of the budget cuts and demands of high stakes testing (thanks to NCLB).

I just find it odd how there has been such a switch in perceptions of these programs. Music and the arts have consistently benefited students for years but have been some of the first programs to be put on the chopping block due to financial stress on educational systems. Now, after forcing these programs to hide behind the curtain, they are brought back in a new light-- seen as the cure that will help rescue children in impoverished communities. They're like the new Superhero, one that fights off the surrounding enemies (such as drugs, gangs etc...). In some ways the music and arts programs are like the "Avengers." In the movie, Nick Fury says this, "There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people. So when we needed them, they could fight the battles that no one could." Like the Avengers, music and the arts are powerful. Together they positively impact many lives. We just don't value them enough to integrate them as a permanent component of education. [Of course, this is rooted in political wars. These programs get caught in the middle like a ping pong ball.]  It's when there are massive problems like severe drop out rates that we call on them to save us. We forget how wonderful they are to have around, which is a shame. Shouldn't we be in the presence of greatness every day? Shouldn't we encourage greatness every day?

There are lots of qualitative and quantitative data that supports the benefits of integrating music/arts in the regular curriculum. In some ways, it's just good common sense that music and art are important in the development of children. Here is what some have advocates have to say:

      John L. Vitale (2011) says this about the importance of music education, "....musical study increases general cognitive abilities (problem solving skills and out-of-the-box thinking)" (p. 335).

     Lang Lang International Music Foundation (2010) states that:
  • Music is a universal language -- it fosters communication among students, breaks down language barriers and is a "medium for exchange." (p.3)
  • Music education improves science, math & reading performance
  • Music education and brain development -- "The Rauscher/Shaw report suggests that the study of piano actually impacts brain function and transitions not only to academics but all skills that involve higher thinking" (p.4)
  • Music education improves 21st century workforce skills -- promotes habit of excellence, develops quick mind, & promotes cooperation and teamwork
  • Music education develops discipline and reduces anti-social skills-- "Students are more willing to stay in school if they are enrolled in music courses because even when they are struggling academically, music gives them something to look forward to" (p.5) As a result, drop out rates are reduced significantly. 
   National Association for Music Education (2007) made similar claims about music/arts benefits:
  • Success in society
  • Success in school and learning
  • Success in developing intelligence
  • Success in life
A favorite quote from this resource -- "When people put on a ply or a dance together, they learn to cooperate-- and find they must go beyond tradition and authority if they are going to express themselves well. The sort of community created by the arts is non-hierarchical -- a model of responsiveness and interactivity that a good democracy will also foster in its political processes. And not the least, the arts can be a great source of joy. Participation in plays, songs and dances fills children with happiness that can carry over into the rest of their education" (NAME).

These are just some resources I could access easily. There are multiple studies that support music and the arts in education. That is because it's not new news that these programs are needed in schools. I'll be honest, I fear how many children that will fall through the cracks because of the changing views of these programs (and for those that already have). Music and arts provide a place for everyone and gives children the opportunity to express themselves. The right brain needs the left; the left needs the right. 

We must not let schools be without these beneficial programs because the consequences become overwhelming. Once we cut out music/arts, the cord begins to unravel and it all gets out of hand. That's when we call for help-- we create a crisis and expect someone or something to save us. When really, the most simple thing is to preserve and protect. For the sake of ALL children, we must save these programs.

Vitale, J. (2011) Music makes you smarter: A new paradigm for music education? Perceptions and perspectives from four groups of elementary education stakeholders. Canadian Journal of Education, 34(3), 317-343.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Recent Target Finds

When you least expect it.... and then it leads to a little more.... Oh Target, sometimes you really surprise me!

Oh how I love clearance tags.... So satisfying seeing the 'Was' and 'Now'
Alright so here is the deal (or story- I apologize for the rambliness), Mom and I were out and about on Saturday doing errands and miscellaneous stuff. To my surprise-- I found a leopard belt! Yippiiiie!!! You have no idea how long I have been searching for a leopard belt. Now, it isn't the world's best quality but for $16.99 I couldn't pass it up. Also I had to get the pink belt because I have been looking for one as well (thinking of accessorizing my polka dot dress with it). Then we came across that gorgeous colored scarf, which was on clearance for $7.98. The fabric is lightweight and well.... you know my love of blue (I am seriously working on that! haha). Mom was convinced it belonged in my closet so I also blame her. Eventually that led me to trying on a pair of Mossimo patent high heels but they didn't have my size in the camel color..... (btw, they are the most comfortable high heels ever)

After doing a couple things on Monday morning, I gingerly took myself down the road to a different Target and found them. Yeah! AND look at that leopard purse!!!! My friends, for about two months I have gone back and forth on getting that darn purse. I saw it was online still but for $29.99 and just couldn't seem to hit the check out button. So I am over-the-moon that I not only came across it unexpectedly but that it had that beautiful clearance tag - yes, I scored big time! 

Then.... I gave in to that pretty mint green satchel. I'll admit it was $24.99. But isn't it lovely?! haha

Oh man I sound like a crazy consumer and I do think it is important to be careful when buying like this. One item often leads to another. I will say though that I am not always shopping and am able to afford them. Sometimes it's okay to treat yourself with goods and most of the time it is good to keep away from stores. It's all about moderation with a few indulgences here and there ;-) 

And I will be totally honest in that I am doing everything I can to resist these....

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Style: Using What I Have

It's been quite awhile since I did my last outfit post and Sunday provided the perfect opportunity to take some pictures (Thank you Mom for taking these for me!). I do put together super casual outfits during the week but I don't always get a picture of them. Anyhow... This is what I wore for Mother's Day! I was thoroughly enjoying the fact that I was in a SKIRT (as I am in pants like 98% of the time). Best part too-- I used items that had been in my closet for awhile. I had been mulling over this outfit for a few days and then put everything together. I am quite pleased with this and also love that I got to wear that beautiful cream shirt. I don't wear it enough since it is short sleeved and not typically warm like it has been. Now that I have more cardigans and blazers I am going to try and wear it when I sub/tutor.

Not to copy J's Everyday Fashion (she often asks a question w/ her posts) but.... Do you think this is classroom appropriate? * 

Cream Top: Forever 21 (~ 2 years old)
Spaghetti strap underneath: Aeropostale
Skirt: H & M (1+ year old)
Shoes: Airwalk / Payless (1.5 + year old)
Necklace: Handmade from Silver Image- saw it at Farmers' Market last year and received it as a gift later on

*fyi, I would not wear this w/ kindergarten where you are constantly bending over.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

Hundreds of dewdrops to green the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.
--George Cooper

As I said in my previous post, it was an awesome weekend! Yesterday was absolutely delightful. I love it when special events are lovely like this! :) We had a small family gathering at my aunt and uncle's house. We enjoyed sitting on the deck eating our meal and chatting. After dinner, we toured through my aunt and uncle's gorgeous garden. I just had to share a few pictures! The sunshine put a lovely spotlight on the flowers and made the colors so vibrant.

It was a great day to celebrate mothers!!

A cookie Mom and I thought was appropriate for Granny -- "The Queen" :)

With my momma

Hope that you all had a lovely weekend...whether it was celebrating that special woman in your life or remembering or doing the usual.

Instagrammed Weekend

This was a fabulous weekend!! Hot weather (80 + degrees!) and fun times. Here is what I did via Instagram (you can follow me: sincerelyangela1)...

On Friday -- I got my present for Mother's Day, a hanging basket. It's tradition now for me to get her this. It's the gift that keeps on giving too! They last from May until October usually.

Saturday-- Most of these pictures were from that day.
Silly kitties
A nice picture of happy pansies on the porch
My amusement with people at their convertibles -- on days like this you see a lot of them
A picture of the big blue sky
Dinner at McMenamins. :)

These warm days make all the rainy ones worth it. I am pretty sure that here 1 sunny day = 10 rainy days. So I guess it's about right that we are having a week of awesome weather! Totally puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step! haha (yes pun fully intended)

Happy Monday ya'll!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Born to Fly

And how do you keep your feet on the ground
When you were born
You were born to fly, fly, fly, fly.... 
--Sara Evans

A week has gone by since the major change at our household. On Friday 4th, my little sister moved to be with her husband. I knew she would be moving at some point but when the day came it hit hard. After 20 years of living with my sister, it was strange to have the house weighted down by the quietness. We always laugh about my sister being the spice because she is full of chatter and spunk.

Now, she is on to life of being a soldier's wife. She has been anxiously awaiting this change. So, last Friday all her belongings were gathered, put inside a U-Haul truck, along with her beloved green chair, coffee table and the love seat.... and by noon, they were off.

Goodbyes came with floods of tears. I cried because I would miss the evenings watching TV with my sister and mom. I cried because I would miss hearing my sister's radio playing in the night and her usual loud kick on the wall with her leg while she sleeps (she has done that consistently for years and it always jolts me). I cried because I wouldn't see her everyday. I simply cried because this was a big milestone in our lives. The kind that makes you think, "How did we get here so fast?!" Those hit to the core because it reminds you how fast life continues to move along.

Tasty Cinnabon rolls as a moving treat
Wide open spaces -- Mom and I now have resorted to using a Igloo cooler for our coffee table.

Since moving out a week ago, my sister and her husband have gotten settled in their apartment. She's managed to cook him some meals and they have organized their belongings so it feels home-y. We've been enjoying getting pictures.

Home feels like a "new normal." The emptiness is still quite noticeable (doesn't help that half of the living room is not there!) but the sadness has dissipated. It's good to know that my sister is with D. Being that they have been married since December 31st, it is about time that they live together!

Someday it will be my turn to leave home but till then I am going to grow a garden, enjoy my kitties and hopefully redecorate my room one of these days. I am hoping for all kinds of adventures- big and small!