Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Laundry Room Makeover

“Hey Mr. R we should redo the laundry room” was something I muttered around 10 weeks of pregnancy. He was all for it when I showed him the Alexa-enabled washer and dryer I wanted. Our machines were on the fritz and seriously about thirty years old, so it was time to be grown ups and buy a new set anyways.

Here’s what our laundry room looked like before:

We had a little bit of everything in here. Once we got the new appliances we started storing the dog food in our pantry. All of the other mess is now nicely organized where it belongs.

Once school started back, I just didn’t have any time to plan what I was wanting to do in this space. Then nesting happened and I decided that it wasn’t enough to just remodel a spare room into a nursery. Nope I decided to go ahead and remodel the laundry room... at 36 weeks pregnant. 

Many trips to Home Depot were made for this project. I used Behr White Lie for the paint (don’t worry, I used a paint mask and took frequent breaks.) The cabinet is Hampton Bay and that was Mr. R’s job to install. I really wanted floating shelves but couldn’t find a design that fit the space and didn’t require a Kref Jig. Then I found the plans for adding the little support on the sides and putting the shelves on top. Gives the illusion of a floating shelf, but was an easy install! Home Depot cut the shelves for me. After some caulking, the project was all finished! We love how it turned out: 

I’ll post nursery pictures soon! I still have a couple of little things to do in there. I’m just so darn happy the laundry room is done that I had to share it!

Friday, August 10, 2018

A Letter to all First Year Teachers

I can’t believe I’m about to start my ninth year of teaching. I feel like each year goes faster than the one before. This summer has flown by even faster and as I'm working on items to get ready for the school year, I realize how far I have come. My classroom has changed, my planning has evolved, and my confidence in teaching has increased.

I wanted to take this time to write a letter to my former “first year teacher” self. Including things I wish I would have known or done during that school year. Thankfully you’re only a first-year teacher once and then the rest of the years go by much easier.

Dear me during the first year,

You’ve just spent at least four years learning what it looks like to be a good teacher. You took classes on child psychology, method courses for math, and how to incorporate literacy into lessons. But what they don’t tell you (even in student teaching) is how to handle all of the unique things you will witness as a first-year teacher. Students going through tough times at home, students who have not received the differentiated instruction they need and are now three grades behind, and the list goes on. That’s one of the best parts of being a teacher- you are the one that gets to make a difference in their life. Here’s my advice for gracefully surviving that first year:

1. Ask for help. This is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you want to learn everything you can about being a good teacher for your students. Go to your mentor, go to the teacher next door, just please don’t suffer in silence.

2. Have a trusted colleague (or administrator) proofread e-mails when dealing with a hard situation. We’re human and sometimes people can forget that. You will get a not-very-nice email at some point in your career. It’s easy to type a response and hit send, but always take a moment to cool down before doing so. Find a colleague you trust to read your response to make sure it is appropriate. Just remember not to forward emails to others without the sender’s permission. Dear Aunt FERPA is always watching and you don’t want to get in trouble for sharing confidential information. 

3. The work you need to complete will still be there tomorrow. Now don’t get me wrong- it’s never cool to miss deadlines or just flat out not be prepared for the day. But as teachers we tend to be perfectionists and therefore are very self-driven to complete everything ahead of time. I can’t tell you how many nights I was the last to leave school that first year. I would even come in on Sunday afternoons to try to get ahead. You’re only in your early-twenties for a few short years. Enjoy them (safely of course).

4. With that said- block your social media. Back in my day all we had was Facebook. Now I'm filtering what I post/like on all sorts of accounts. Be careful of what you share and who you share it with. That picture you posted your sophomore year of college may not be as cool when your new set of parents are googling you. ;) We all know the story of Roseanne's negative tweet, and the recent let go of James Gunn for something he posted ten years ago.

5. Find your tribe. Hopefully your new team will welcome you with open arms, but unfortunately it’s not always like that at schools. Find people that you can trust at your school, other schools, or even through Instagram and the blogging world. Use these people to share ideas with. The idea is never to try to outdo each other but to find ways to thrive in this crazy world we call teaching. I met some of my BEST friends my first year of teaching. I really don’t think I could have survived without them.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, just remember "this too shall pass." Before you know it, it'll be winter break and you'll find yourself recharging and ready to return in January.

Enjoy this adventure.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Monthly Book Raffles

I'm addicted to children's books. There I said it. I'm even more addicted to Scholastic Book Orders. The amount of personal money I spend on Scholastic books each year is not going to be disclosed here because my husband reads this and well... there's just some secrets you need to keep.

Last year I shifted the focus on parent-driven reading logs to student-centered ones. Meaning that I stopped the whole "your mom must sign your reading log each night" to a "you're learning independence" approach. Students are asked to read 20 minutes each night and quickly jot down "20" on their agenda's reading log.

For the first month I check it weekly, just to give feedback on how they are doing with remembering to fill it out. I give reminders before the end of the month to make sure that each night is completed (Honestly I only check for Monday- Thursday and if a few nights are missing, that is fine... they are only seven).

Then on the last day of the month I check to see who has completed their monthly reading and it's time for the Mrs. Rider Book Raffle. I pass out my raffle tickets and they write their name on it.

Then  I show off the five books up for grabs. These were the choices for October:

This is also a great way to teach probability... if there are ten tickets for one book and none for another book, which book are you more likely to win?

I keep a list of who wins each month to ensure that each student has a fair chance. I also will start to give out tickets for other reading incentives (finishing a series, finishing a long book, etc.) just so everyone is able to win a book at some point.

The idea behind this is to increase their love for reading. And who doesn't love a new, free book?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Classroom Updates

I can't believe we have already had THREE days of school. Technically 2 1/2 days because of the eclipse, but I'm totally okay with an 11 o'clock dismissal. Especially if it means I get to watch the eclipse with the hubby! I might have sorta taken a nap during the first part (beginning of the year teacher struggles) but I saw it when it mattered! We also had to drive through it to an appointment. The streets were so clear! But the drivers on the road may have still been wearing their eclipse glasses because they were driving like maniacs. Luckily we survived #eclipse2017

I didn't make too many changes to my classroom this year. I'm still loving the cupcake theme (although considering a pineapple theme for future years), but I updated my bulletin board to hold the CUTEST reading concepts posters. I'll post about those once I've finished the board. I also did some organizing, completed some things I've been meaning to do for a while, and rearranged some of my desk area items. I also have a goal to set as much stuff up for the beginning of the next school year so I'm not running around like a crazy person (which is how you could have described me this year).

BUT! I redid two classroom items that hold a special place in my heart. My nanny and pawpaw always had the best furniture. I loved everything in their house. When they passed away I received some very special items to me- a director's chair that I would always sit in and a table with chairs that I loved to play with. I wanted to incorporate them into my classroom so I fixed them up a few years back but they were in need of some TLC.

I painted the director's chair and got new canvas seating for it. I want to start by saying that I am the worst spray painter EVER. But when I get a bottle of the Rustoleum Satin (Paint and Primer), I can make miracles happen. This white was sprayed over black paint. It only took a couple of coats (which was really just for evening out). Then I used my Sillhouette Cameo (and my trusty iron) to make a personalized decal for it. This is my chair I use for read alouds, so it gets a lot of use! I picked the color to match my classroom rug and the carpet.

The little table and chairs I have are originally yellow with some scratches. I had covered it a few years ago, but lots of kiddos have used these chairs, so they needed a little redoing. I picked a light blue quatrefoil pattern to use. *love* The best thing is that I didn't have to SEW (by the way... I can't sew). All I had to do was iron, cut to fit, pull it tight and hot glue.

I hope everyone is having a great start to the school year! I can't wait to really get working with my new class of students. It's going to be a terrific year!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Patio Redo

It seems as though my teacher blog has turned into a little home renovation blog for the summer. I guess that's what happens when HGTV and the DIY channel are constantly on in your house. I promise I'll get back to school stuff sooner than I would like (in fact I have some district training tomorrow that has got me wondering how in the world it's already July 10th.)

Our newest project was redoing our back patio. We've known that we wanted to change it since we first moved in. We thought about building a low deck over the patio, and we also found some faux deck pieces at IKEA that we liked, but this summer we finally decided: let's just add on to the existing patio. After a couple of estimates for concrete that made our jaws hit the floor (sorry- we're not paying thousands of dollars for a few feet of concrete), we decided to do DIY patio pavers.

Here's how it originally looked:

Our previous set up involved a lot of "oh hey that's on sale let's get it now" which is why there is a random gazebo for the grill in the grass. We had lots of trips to Home Depot, a long conversation with an employee, and watched quite a few videos to finally get the steps down.

We started with shoveling out all of the grass and digging down 2 1/2 inches to include room for all of the materials in order for it to be level with our existing patio:

Then we put down a weed barrier to prevent any weed growth from getting to the pavers.

(Forgot pictures for the next two steps)
We put down about a half inch of paver base sand and tampered it down to make it flat and slope away from the house. Then we found these awesome paver bases that would take the place of having to use a lot of gravel. You just slap them down and lay the paver right on top. You can find out more about these miracle bases here!

After the setup, we finally laid down seventy 17.5 pound pavers. Y'all this was hard work. We don't have a truck so we loaded down my SUV and Mr. R's clown car with hundreds of pounds of material. We made over 10 trips to Home Depot and met a nice couple along the way who were doing the same project as us. I have to give it to Mr. R for this project. I can't tell you how tiring it was to do this work in 91 degree heat. When I would throw in the towel and go in for a rest, he stayed out there working so we could finish in our two day goal. You da real MVP, Mr. R.

After laying the pavers, we filled in the gaps with permasand, sprayed it with water to harden and then had to wait 72 hours for it to cure. Today was the day to move the furniture on it and I am IN LOVE!

(Yes that is a pet cot and canopy because basically our pups are real children.)

We have space for our furniture, space for our grill gazebo, and a little extra space for just moving around... basically:

Shopping List:

Home Depot:
-Transfer shovel
-Hand Tamper
-Weed Barrier with pegs
-Paver sand (9 bags)
-Paver bases (16 rectangles)
-Pavers (70)
-Edging (3 pieces with yard nails)
-Black and white outdoor rug

-Patio furniture
-Dog cot

-Grill Gazebo

Home South:
-Outdoor pillows

-Patio umbrella

The lesson I've learned is that I'm not made to be outdoors unless I'm sitting on my patio furniture, under the umbrella, with a lemonade in one hand.

My next project is redoing the foyer: storm door and light pennant coming soon.
Mr. R's next project is an ongoing one of making our yard actually grow grass. May the force be with you on that one.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

HGTV... Where Is My Show?

So basically my HGTV show would be called "How To Make The Junk in Your House Actually Worth Using." I think it's safe to say that we all have a little bit of junk... and if you're reading this and thinking "well I don't" then I'm here to say nobody likes a liar. ;)

But seriously... everyone I know has a junk drawer full of random items... we have one now filled with batteries, wax melt refills, and chip clips. But we may also have had a little bit of a junk closet. When we moved into our three bedroom house we knew that we wanted our master (of course), a guest room, and an office. The guest bedroom closet just sorta became filled with junk. I'm not talking about junk yard items, I mean things like holiday decor, the vacuum, bags for trips, and other random items. I always knew I wanted to redo the closets... just wasn't sure what I wanted to do.

Then one day Pinterest sparked my idea- instead of having a whole bedroom to host our two separate desks, when I really don't even sit at mine because I'm a laptop-on-the-couch kind of girl... I decided I would turn the guest room closet into a closet office.

Here's what I started with... just remember... it was our junk closet... A lot of my teacher friends say that I'm organized, and I'm here to say that nobody is perfect:

I had a goal to finish it by June 30. Of course life happens and things get in the way... but a July 2 end date isn't too late. Remember- nobody is perfect.

Here's the final product:

Just because I stalked other blogs to find how to make it... I'll give a little overview of how I built this:

Desk and top shelf area: This is from a large white melamine panel from Home Depot. They cut it according to my measurements. And then when I realized I measured it incorrectly, Mr. R ran to purchase a Zigsaw for us while I stayed at home and practiced using a measuring tape (nobody's perfect). I loved the melamine because I DIDN'T HAVE TO PAINT! I just laid it on top of the wire racks and secured it so it wouldn't move.

I brought in some storage to hold my many craft supplies and (remember I'm a teacher) so I have 40 times the amount of office supplies that a normal person would have. #buyallofthecutepens

I also needed a place to store my wrapping paper/gift tag/bow obsession and I found an amazing door holder from a certain store that would cost 150 dollars. That's just not how I roll so I made this one out of a Closetmaid organizer for 30 bucks.

The best thing is that THE DOORS CLOSE! When we're not using the office, we can close the doors and no one has to know. So what did I do with all of the stuff that was in there? Finally organized it. I took advantage of extra space in our laundry room and hall closet. I bought containers for our holiday decor. I feel a sense of zen over my new organization.

Another bonus is that this is totally removable. Meaning if we ever move, we can take everything down and there is no damage (besides the diplomas being hung up and let's just say I'm a pro at covering up oopsies.

Here's my shopping list:

Home Depot:
Melamine panel
Long white wooden piece on top shelf
Iron On Tape to cover melamine edge
Closetmaid Door Organizer

Lamp (I had to have it because it comes with a built in USB port... perfect for dorm rooms!!)
Pen Hoder
Right Storage Drawer

Desk Chair
Chair cushion
Left filing cabinet
Blue storage bins

White vase

Silhouette Machine (on top shelf)
Surge Protector that very sneakily blends in with the room

Trader Joes:
Pink peonies *swoon*

What's next for the Riders? This month is full of house upgrades: custom made storm door installation, fence for the flat part of our backyard, and DIY patio pavers. I'll update you soon!

I love summer.

Friday, June 9, 2017

T.G.I.S (Thank Goodness It's Summer!)

I can't believe I'm about to write this:
I've already had TWO WEEKS of summer.

Why is it that school days last 246 hours but a summer day lasts 32 minutes?

I chose today to write an update because it's a special day for me. One year ago today I walked into the best interview I've ever had. I knew the moment I pulled into the parking lot that this would be the school for me. My interview went great and I felt as though I was having a normal conversation with the interview team- I wasn't nervous one bit. I remember leaving the parking lot and calling Mr. R and telling him "That was the best I've ever felt in an interview and I pray that I get this job."

We can all figure out how the story ends... a few days later I received a voicemail from my principal (I still have it saved on my phone). I called him back and he offered me a position. We were in the Old Navy parking lot and I cried and cried and cried. Happy tears, thankful tears, hard-work-finally-paid-off tears...

You see, this was not my first interview. The summer before I had applied to over 20 jobs and had 3 interviews... all ending with a no. I'm not even going to mention all the no's I received when I first graduated in 2009. I didn't understand why I wasn't being picked. Two weeks before this interview, I went on another one and heard yet another no. I was heartbroken. But what I realized afterwards, was God had a plan this whole time. I had one dream school in mind the entire time I applied for other jobs and after two years of trying and a whole bunch of let downs, I finally got the job I prayed for.

I'm writing this today because God always has a plan. I know it's so cliche to say "everything happens for a reason" but it is SO true. I have to remember this myself throughout the various seasons of my life. I know I have a lot of friends who are in a season of waiting or a season of change, and I'm here to tell you that things are going to get so much better.

I miss so many people from my old school, but this has been a very positive change for me. My love for learning has returned and I finally figured out what I wanted my Masters in. I have more planning time at school, which in return gives me more free time at home. (Y'all... I'm done with dismissal everyday at 2:45. It doesn't get any better than that.) I have seen so much support this year- from my teammates, specialists, administrators, and parents.

I want to thank my new school family for a fantastic year. You guys are stuck with me now ;)

So what am I up to this summer?
- Trips to Rocky Mount, Charleston, and Savannah (for our anniversary)
- Random other road trips (because you can do that sort of thing when your husband is also off for the summer!)
- House projects: getting a fence!!!!, building a closet office (blog post to come), organizing the house
- straight chillin'

Have a great summer!!