January 31, 2012

Buying Workout Clothes = Working Out...right??

So this is a running and teaching blog...and I haven't really been writing about either!  While I haven't been running due to the ice wipe out that resulted in a banged up knee, I have still been teaching, I promise. :) Let's just say though that teaching isn't my favorite thing to talk about these days!  It's been a bit...exhausting...know what I mean??  Anyways this is going to be a completely random post, so please forgive my melting teacher brain...

After resting my knee last week, it is feeling one billion times better.  Hypochondriac jumps-to-the-worst-conclusion me had convinced myself that I had torn my meniscus and would of course require surgery...
Of course that's not the case, thank goodness!  It is feeling 99% better, and while I'm planning on giving it another week before trying running (hey, after the nonstop injuries I've had, I am overly cautious these days!), I'm trying to get myself to do some cross training this week.  I don't know about you guys, but if I get out of my fitness routine for one week, it's AWFUL for me to get back into it!  I made it to the pool Sunday, but all I did yesterday was curl up on the couch and watch 3 hours of Downton Abbey aka my new obsession...
Have you seen this show yet?  Amazing.

Today I had GREAT intentions to get to the pool again.  See? I even laid out my clothes and stuff out before I left for school, planning to come home and change right away!  Needless to say, they haven't moved...
Okay, okay...I promise I have a great excuse!  Teacher Mom texted me at 7:06am, "FYI Carsons has 60% off boots."  Well, what was I SUPPOSED to do?  Of course I emailed her immediately suggesting we meet for shopping and dinner after work.  Teacher Mom loves shoes too, so she was in!  Behold $40 boots:
Because by this point it was pretty clear that there was NO way I was making it to the pool, I figured the least I could do would be to buy a new swimsuit...and some new crops for running/yoga...before I knew it I had spent way too much money.  (Who am I kidding, this happens every single time I go shopping!  I have a problem!)
Oh goodness.  Even though I didn't make it to the gym, at least I got a stack of papers graded after school.  Tomorrow, GYM!  I swear. (Unless there's a sale on shoes somewhere else...) ;)

One of these days I'll muster the energy to talk about school...maybe...

January 27, 2012

Tagged for 11

Runner-Teacher Michelle at Carpenter's Corner tagged me for the 11 Random Things game that's going around!  Thanks, Michelle!  So here we go...

11 Random Things About Me...
1. When I was little, I was so messy eating Oreos that my parents used to make me go outside.  Until I was in junior high, Oreos were strictly an "Outside Cookie."  My parents love joking about this still.  Just last night at their house, I saw Oreos.  They said I could have one--if I went outside...

2. I have two older brothers who I love like crazy.  They are seriously all sorts of awesome.  Oldest Brother is a fantastic photographer, and Older Brother is a smarty pants rocket scientist.
3. My idea of an exciting Friday night is a trip to Target or Trader Joe's, yoga pants and a fleece blanket, a 312, and some netflix instant.  I know, I'm 24 going on 45.  

4. I have the most addictive personality of anyone you will ever meet.  For me, 10 pages of a book always turns into finishing the last chapter at 2am, 1 episode of a TV series always turns into 15, and don't even get me started on what happens when I get hooked on a new panera sandwich-starbucks drink-you name it...Oh, and the week I discovered Pinterest?  Do I even have to explain?
I seriously did NOTHING ELSE the week I read the Twilight series...I mean, I even added extra "Read to Self" time to our school day so I could read too...don't tell my principal...

5. I am allergic to EVERYTHING in nature, including every cute and cuddly animal.  :(

6. I am pretty much an emotional basket case all the time.  I cry reading children's books, watching commercials, you name it.  It can be embarrassing...

7.  I donated my hair to Locks of Love the summer before last.  I'm glad I did it, but my hair was so scraggly (and out of control!) at the end that I don't know if I'd do it again!
8. I am just not a morning person.  Not only do I hit the snooze button at least once every morning, but sometimes after I'm completely dressed and ready for school, if I notice I have extra time, I curl up back in bed for a quick 10 minute "nap."

9. I've single-handedly destroyed countless electronics.  A couple of mp3 players, at least 3 cameras, and 3 computers... :-/  I promise it's not that I'm careless!  I think I just have bad luck!

10. When I first started my teaching internships and field placements in college, I would get SO nervous before I taught a lesson that I'd make my roommate "play school" with me in our dorm room so I could practice!  She loved it.

11. I love polka dots.  However, the last time I was packing up at the gym I started wondering if my obsession has gone too far...and trust me, this is only very the beginning:
Now, for Michelle's questions...
1. What is the best vacation you have ever taken?  Oh gosh, how can I pick just one??  I was privileged enough to spend a summer in France while in high school, have traveled all over the US and to the caribbean a few times...but I think my favorite trips are the ones I've spent with my family in Florida. :)  
2. What do you want to do when you retire? READ!  And sleep.  And travel.  And relax relax relax!
3. How many siblings do you have? Two brothers!  See question 2!
4. What is your ideal job? WELL, teaching is my one true calling and truly my passion.  But I'll admit there are days when I want to leave it behind and work at Trader Joe's or something--I bet those employees don't stay up at night worrying!!
5. Do you play the lottery? Gamble? No way.  If I feel like I have money to burn, I SHOP!
6. What's your favorite beverage? Soy lattes, diet coke, 312, and pinot grigio
7. Toilet paper over the top or under? Do you even have to ask???  Top, duh!
8. Have you ever been arrested? Should you have been? No, my record is crystal clean :)
9. What time do you go to bed? Usually around 10:30 or so...unless I get distracted by pinning or something like that!
10. Do you have pets?  No...they make me sneeze...
11.What's the last thing you ate? Jimmy Johns veggie sub and chips

Now I get to tag 11 people:
Jen at Running with the Girls
Vanessa at Gourmet Runner
~Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6
Kate at To the Square Inch
Marisa at The Pace of My Life
Stephanie at Run for Fun
Claire at the Country Mouse Tales
Lauren at Sweat Junkie
Julia at Pain Pride Perseverance 
Lauren at Forward is a Pace
Megan at Fit Crafty English Teacher

Ladies, post 11 random things about yourselves and answer these 11 questions:
1. What food are you craving right now?
2. Biggest guilty pleasure?
3. Go-to Saturday outfit?
4. What's your Starbucks order?  Or, if you're not a Starbucks junkie like me, your favorite pick me up beverage?
5. Best book you've ever read?
6. What's one thing you're really loving lately?
7. What were you like in high school?
8. What's one thing you don't mind splurging on?
9. Where would your dream vacation be?
10. Favorite song?
11. What's your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

Have fun!

January 25, 2012

Banjee Review & Giveaway!

Since I became a "grown up" and left the sweet sanctuary of living my parents house and all the wonderful things that came with living there (heated garage, stocked fridge, veg meals simmering away in the kitchen, a never-ending supply of white wine and diet coke...), I have been plagued by one unexpected little annoyance: KEYS.  More specifically, dealing with my keys while out running.  For some reason, not a single pair of my running tights or capris has a pocket (at least one that actually HOLDS the keys in)!  So, I've been turning to my trusty SPI belt to hold my keys...except I actually kind of REALLY hate the SPI belt.  I know so many runners who love their belts and say they can't even tell they're wearing them, but honestly I am tugging at that thing from the moment I get out the door.  Not fun.  

So, when I heard about Banjees wrist wallets, I thought this might be just the thing to solve my problem!  Banjees (made by a company called Sprigs) are a band of stretchy material with a zippered pouch designed to be worn on the wrist to hold keys, ID, whatever!  From the Sprigs website:
Banjees wrist wallets are always the extra pocket you wish you had. In regular size for cash, cards, and keys, and in Big Banjees size for smart phones, our patent pending Banjees combine the perfect durable stretch fabrics with guaranteed YKK zippers to make the perfect accessory for your active lifestyle. Check out our fresh prints, organic cottons, and solid to solid reversible styles. Keep your valuables close at hand and easy to access with Banjees wrist wallets, and you'll understand what all the fuss is about.
Julie from Sprigs was kind enough to send me a Banjee to try out!  They come in so many fun colors and prints, I had a hard time choosing one!  In the end, I ended up with a polyspandex reversible banjee with a black and white print on one side and solid black on the other. (Since sometimes when I put together running outfits I look a bit like Rainbow Bright, I figured black and white was a safe option...)  I have to say, I love the banjee already!  Size wise, the regular Banjee is just what I need.  It's not huge, but it is the perfect size for my keys, ID, even a Gu or two.    
After!  A perfect fit with room to spare!

The banjee is nice and stretchy, which makes it easy to adjust up or down on your arm for a good fit.  While I think they are meant to sit down on your wrist by your hand, since my wrists are teeny tiny I pushed it up higher on my forearm where it fit comfortably without sliding around.  The best part is, it is COMFORTABLE to wear even when getting your sweat on! Because I am super cool and needed to test out my banjee immediately upon getting it, I tried wearing it while on my bike...yes, on my indoor bike trainer.  No, I did not NEED to carry my keys while biking in place in my apartment...I am happy to report, though, that it stayed put and was comfy even when I got nice and sweaty!  The banjee stayed in place and comfortable on a test run too.  The long and short of it is that the banjee is, in my opinion, way more comfortable than carrying something or wearing a belt.  Period.

Obviously this is the perfect accessory for a runner, but I can see it having a ton of other uses if you get creative.  It'd work great for holding your $$ and tickets at a theme park, for example!  I could also see having a kid wear it to hold their lunch money--my kids are always complaining about losing their quarters on days when school sells lunchtime treats.  This would be perfect for them.  

Have I sold you on this product yet?  Well, you're in luck because Sprigs was kind enough to provide me with an additional banjee to give away to one of my wonderful readers!  One of you can win this purple tie dye big banjee:
"Big banjees" are about the same size as the original banjees, but they also have a cool little outside flap in addition to the zippered pocket.  The flap is pretty nifty--it expands enough that it can hold your phone, even bulky smart phones.  If you'd rather not run with a big phone on your wrist, it's also a great easy-access pocket for gel, etc.  Oh, and if purple tie dye isn't your thing, it reverses to plain black on the opposite side. ;)

Here's how to win (Leave a separate comment for each entry):

  • Become a follower of Juice Boxes + Crayolas, and leave me a comment telling me why you want   (Mandatory)
  • Like Sprigs on Facebook (+1 entry)
  • Follow Sprigs on Twitter @SpriGsville (+1 entry)
  • Post about this giveaway on your blog, facebook, or twitter! (+1 entry each)
That's up to 6 chances to win!  I know you will love these products as much as I do, so hurry up and check them out!  
This giveaway will end Wednesday, February 1st at midnight.  Good luck!

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Sprigs was kind enough to provide me with one banjee to review, as well as one banjee to give to a reader.  I was not compensated to give a particular opinion.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own! :)

January 24, 2012

An "I should get outta the classroom more often" Kinda Moment, and Exciting News!

Do you ever have those "Seriously, I am SUCH a teacher" kind of moments?  The ones where you find yourself reprimanding strange children in Target, neatening up shelves at the grocery store, or telling friends and loved ones, "Great job!" or "I can tell you did your best"?  Hopefully it's not just me...Well, listen to this one:  When I got home from school a little bit ago and was (immediately) changing into comfies, I was thinking how my skirt needed to be dry cleaned, and how I could drop it off at the cleaners Thursday after I tutor...then I caught myself thinking, "I'll stick it in my 'Thursday Bin' so I don't forget!"
Thursday Bin?  As in the spot I stick my Thursday copies at school?  Last time I checked I don't have a day of the week bin system in my home...The thing that makes this an even BIGGER face-palm moment, though, is that a tiny little part of me totally wishes I had a day of the week bin system at home...seriously, you know you do too... ;)

Believe it or not, that geektastic moment was NOT the most eventful thing that has happened since I last blogged--this time last week my beautiful new niece was born!  I know everybody says this about their own family, but this baby is seriously gorgeous.  I am beyond thrilled about her and so happy for Older Brother and Sis in Law.  Unfortunately, they live in Florida so I won't be able to meet Beautiful Niece until Spring break... :(  It can't come a moment too soon!

Other than that news, my life has been pretty darn uneventful these days.  My Sunday 7-miler was foiled because I had the *brilliant* idea to attempt to run through 5+ inches of snow on an unplowed bike path...I made it ONE mile away from my car, thought I was going to pass out from exerting so much energy WADING through snow and fighting wind, and barely made it the mile back to my car.  Fail.  Also, later that day I managed to have an epic wipe out on an icy sidewalk, smack my knee on the pavement, and seriously jack up my knee.  It's still hurting and just not working right!  After a friend's 2 cents and some web MDing (obv), I convinced myself that I had torn my miniscus...which I still think might have happened, but it's feeling a little better every day so hopefully whatever it is is healing on its own!  Anyways, the long and short of it all is that this has become a spontaneous "Rest Week"--and it's given me an excuse to rock my Tommie Copper knee sleeve 24/7...  #attemptingtoseethegood...

Continuing with the random theme of this post, let me just share the beautiful piece of writing I had the pleasure of reading this week...it darn near brought me to tears.  Grab the kleenex.  Prompt: Write about a place that is special to you.

Check back soon for a new product review/giveaway and a post on persuasive writing/anchor charts!

January 16, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to Pat, the winner of Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun!  Pat, email me at juiceboxesandcrayolas AT gmail DOT com to claim your prize!
Be sure to check out Maria Dismondy's website to learn more about this book and her other picture books.  Also, Maria Dismondy asked me to let you know that she will be giving away other books on the blog tour for her newest book.  Check out her blog here.  Thanks for participating!

January 15, 2012

Toughin' It on the Treadmill + Tommie Copper Review

Yesterday I wrote about the straight up bribe little deal I'd made with myself to get my lazy butt back on track. If I completed my planned workouts for the week, I got to buy myself some new "presents" (i.e. workout gear).  Well, I did it--and placed my amazon order!  ;)  I made it through my planned 7 miles on the treadmill this morning.  I know, I know.  I swore that this winter I would persevere through the cold and ice and get those long runs done on the roads.  Buuut between several inches of snow that froze over to ice and some freezing winds, the treadmill won out today.  Oh well!

The good news is that despite some lingering tightness in my hips lately, my legs felt pretty much okay on this run!  That's always a pleasant surprise for injury-prone me.  The bad news is that I was dragging the ENTIRE TIME.  I don't know what it was, but I was just exhausted on this run!  Oh well, I made it through!  I owe a big thanks to Running the Sahara, an amazing movie I re-watched during the run.  It's not quite as inspirational as Hood to Coast or Spirit of the Marathon, but it's still pretty darn awesome.


When I got back up to my apartment I was so exhausted that I promptly collapsed on the floor in a pile of my running gear:

Besides Running the Sahara, another thing that helped me on my run today was a brand new pair of Tommie Copper compression sleeves! I am so excited that I have the opportunity to try out and review this cool product.  Y'all know my affinity for compression wear--I mean, recovery socks are featured in my blog header for goodness sake.  Anyways, when I heard about Tommie Copper I knew it was definitely something I needed to try out.  The folks at Tommie Copper were kind enough to send me a pair of calf compression sleeves and a pair of knee compression sleeves.  While I fell in love with calf compression wear last year, knee sleeves are something I'd never tried before.  (Tommie Copper makes a whole bunch of different compression products in addition to the ones I tried, including sleeves for ebows and ankles, gloves, and even compression shirts.)

Here's what Tommie Copper has to say about their products:
This unique compression uses multi-directional support and proprietary copper-infused yarn to provide relief from arthritis and other joint pains, promote muscle recovery and reduce inflammation all while being comfortable enough to be worn throughout the entire day.
The most important thing to remember is that compression products are only beneficial when they are being worn. If they are uncomfortable, bulky and can only be worn for short periods of time, they will not be very effective. That is why all Tommie Copper products are manufactured using a proprietary compression fabric combined with copper infused yarn that by design is so comfortable you may forget you are wearing it.  

When I first opened the package and took out my new sleeves, I was so surprised--they weren't at all what I'd expected!  I know the website said they were comfortable, but the word "copper" kept making me envision something thick and...I don't know, metallic-y maybe. That couldn't be further from the truth!  The sleeves are super thin and have a silky feel--way different from my CEP sleeves and Recovery Socks.  I loved the smooth feel of the fabric, and the sleeves were so thin that they were easy to fit under a pair of skinny jeans.  (Not that skinny jeans have ever stood between me and my compression sleeves before, but I didn't have to YANK my jeans over them with the Tommie Copper sleeves the way I do with my thicker sleeves!)  I will definitely rock these sleeves under my jeans or even under my dress pants at school.  They are for sure comfortable enough for everyday wear!

I wore the calf sleeves on my run this morning, and I loved the feel.  My calves felt great the whole time, and I could barely tell I was wearing the sleeves!  Double win.  I think they would be especially fantastic for a hot summer run.   One thing that surprised me was that the sleeves don't have the same *super tight* feeling as some of my other sleeves.  At first I worried that they wouldn't be as effective because of this, but since I didn't feel any calf tightness after my run, I'm thinking they did their job!  After the run, I pulled on the knee sleeves--and if that's not classy enough already, I layered my recovery socks over them...beautiful, no?

I don't have any joint issues when it comes to my knees (knock on wood!), but have been dealing with IT band issues on and off for the past year.  I know that knee pain is just a symptom of ITBS, but I figured that a little knee compression couldn't hurt!  I hung out in these all day, and my knees feel great too (although I don't know if the sleeves worked any miracle there, or my knees were just in a good place today).

My only complaint is that after wearing the knee sleeves all day, the elastic at the top of the sleeves was a little uncomfortable.  To keep both the calf and knee sleeves in place, there is a band of "grippy" elastic (<--technical term...).  While my sleeves fit fine, that part felt a little tight and uncomfortable on my thighs after several hours of wear.  I didn't notice this with the calf sleeves as all, and I'm wondering if my skin was already a little sensitive there after wearing my IT band straps on my run.  Either way, it's not enough to make me ditch the sleeves.  I will probably wear the calf sleeves for both running and recovery, and the knee sleeves just for recovery.  In my opinion, these are great products all-around, and I look forward to wearing them plenty more in the future (and hopefully reaping some of these magical copper benefits)!

Thanks again to Tommie Copper for giving me the opportunity to check out their products!

January 14, 2012

Straight Up Bribery

As teacher's we learn in our education classes that it's important to intrinsically motivate students, to teach them to want to do the right thing without dangling carrots over their heads because that's what real life is like.  I'll admit it, I try my very VERY best to use intrinsic motivation in the classroom more often, but let's be real: sometimes carrots help.

Last week was one of my laziest weeks in terms of fitness in a long LONG time.  During the entire week I did make it to two yoga classes, but other than a pitiful 2.5 mile "run," that was about it!  I decided that I was going to get back on the wagon this week, and just to make sure I didn't back out, I thought a little bribery might be in order...So, I planned out my workouts...

...and perused my ever-ongoing Amazon Wishlist for a few fitness related items that I've been wanting...
...then posted a little "motivation" reminder by my desk:  
The deal is that if I complete every planned workout, I can buy myself new goggles, bike gloves, and a new swim cap (actually 2 new ones--I'm having the toughest time fitting my BUNCHES of long, thick hair into a cap.  I have a silicone one, but am planning on buying a latex cap and a silicone "long hair" cap in the hopes that one of those works a little better!).  Can you tell I've got triathlons on the brain?? :)

Anyways, it's Saturday and so far has worked like a charm!  This little deal is the ONLY thing that got me to pull myself off the couch and out of a delightful nap yesterday afternoon and got me to the gym for a treadmill run and vinyasa yoga class.  It's also what got me out of my COZY bed this morning and to the pool.  I'm also pretty confident it's going to be a big part of what gets me through a 7 mile dreadmill run tomorrow--between freezing wind and a bunch of snow, I'm thinking the treadmill is going to be the lesser of two evils...

I for sure can't afford to buy myself little "presents" every time I make it through a week of workouts, but it's something to keep in mind for when I'm lacking a little motivation!!

Do you ever "bribe" yourself to workout, etc.?

Okay, I need your help.  Movie/TV recommendations to watch on netflix instant on my phone while on the treadmill tomorrow?  I already watched Spirit of the Marathon this week... :)

January 11, 2012

Take a deep breath.

The past two days at school have kinda sucked.  Let's just say the pressure is on like whoa to get our kiddos ready for state testing, and I've basically been feeling like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders these days.  I'll get into the gritty details another time, but to make a long story short after school today I was kind of losing it...so I'm making my mission tonight to relax, get some rest, and go to school calm and energized tomorrow--just in time for a marathon afternoon/evening of parent conferences.

Of course a truly relaxing evening involves my favorite things...
 Way more chocolate than pictured here...
Mani/pedi followed immediately by a glass of wine :)

And last but not least, before I curl up on my couch in the fetal position watching Glee, a reminder courtesy of Pinterest...

January 9, 2012

Beginners Guide to Falling in Love with Yoga

Reminder: Make sure you check out my anti-bullying picture book review & giveaway!

The first time I tried yoga, it was with a VHS (yes.) of relaxation yoga.  I was crammed into an 8 ft x 4 ft space in the living room of the family I babysat for.  My little kiddo was napping and I was getting bored, so I popped in one of his mom's yoga tapes.  I loved it, but mostly because my lazy self loved any "exercise" that mostly involved breathing, gentle stretching, or laying on the floor.  For quite awhile, I thought that was all yoga was.  This past year, I realized I was so very wrong and fell completely head over heels in love with yoga.  

It turns out, like most fitness activities, there are MANY levels and styles to yoga.  My brief introduction had been to basic relaxation yoga, but that's really just the beginning.  Two of the most common styles of yoga (at least that I'm familiar with--remember, I'm no expert!) are hatha and vinyasa, variations on these being things like bikram/hot yoga and ashtanga yoga.  My absolute favorite is vinyasa yoga, which flows with the breath through series of poses(vinyasas or "flows") stemming from the traditional Sun Salutation.  You might think it would get boring going through the same series of poses over and over, but there are about a billion and a half variations on the sun salutation.  It starts simple, but you can add in many different, challenging poses to flows that greatly increase the difficulty of practice.  Hatha yoga typically involves holding traditional poses with less "flow" than vinyasa.  (I made the mistake of going to an ashtanga class once when I was just starting out...I was sore for like four days.  After consistent practice for the past several months, I think I *might* be ready to try it again, but that is for sure a challenging class!)  I love vinyasa yoga best because it is fast paced (I get antsy with anything too slow!!), a great strength workout for your whole body (I can see a noticeable difference in my shoulders and arms since I started consistently doing yoga!), and an amazing stretch.

I was super intimidated when I first started taking yoga classes, but the great thing is that almost all of them are multi-level.  That means instructors will provide variations throughout the class that give you a chance to modify or challenge yourself.  If you get lost or have a hard time during your first class, don't worry!!  It happens to absolutely everyone.  Give yourself permission to take lots of breaks in child's pose, permission to lose your balance and fall (more than once), and come back for another class.  You will be absolutely amazed at how quickly your body adapts and how you are able to do more and more challenging poses with less and less difficulty.
Child's Pose (source)
If you are new to yoga and interested in trying it out, dvds, podcasts, and online videos are a great place to start!  I know Comcast also has some on demand yoga workouts, and hulu plus and netflix both have a few.  Also, most gyms or yoga studios will let you do a free trial if you're curious and would like to try out a class. I actually learned a lot of basic yoga poses on my parents' Wii Fit!  Practicing individual poses at home was a great way to get comfortable with them outside of yoga class so that when I was at class I could better follow along with the flows.  Another great way to familiarize yourself with poses is youtube!  I actually plan to look for a video on youtube of an arm balance pose I was struggling with tonight when I finish writing this post.  (Some good poses for beginners: downward dog, cobra, warrior 1, warrior 2, triangle pose, tree pose [<--my FAVORITE], and the Sun Salutation sequence.)
Triangle Pose
Forgive me for this terrible photo.  You have no idea how long it took me to even get this passably decent one.  Taking pictures of yourself in yoga poses ain't easy when you live alone, yo!

Another nice thing about yoga is that you need almost no gear to practice.  Most gyms/studios will provide mats and props, but trust me when I say that if you have ANY interest in doing yoga you should treat yourself to a mat.  I am DRIPPING with sweat after most vinyasa and hot yoga classes, and there is NO WAY I'd want to lay my face flat on a mat covered with someone else's old sweat...and foot germs...gross. The good news is that you can pick a pretty mat up at target for a reasonable price.  That's about it!  No fancy shoes or random gadgets, maybe just a block and strap if you need the help of props, but like I said most classes will provide those. 
If one of your new year's resolutions is to try a new type of cross training, give yoga a shot!  I hope you love it as much as I do!

January 8, 2012

Picture Book Review & Giveaway!

I'm excited to have the opportunity to review the book Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun: Having the Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy, illustrated by Kimberly Shaw-Peterson.  Dismondy has this award-winning picture book and others, all focusing on the important messages of being yourself and standing up for what's right.  Read more about Dismondy and her books here.
 I think I loved this book at first sight, partly because I am passionate about peace and acceptance in the classroom (I even did my senior research project in college about building peace in the classroom), but also because the main character, Lucy, eats weird food and has out-of-control curly hair.  Sounds like a certain teacher-runner I know...(thank goodness for my CHI straightening iron...)

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun is a sweet story about a little girl named Lucy whose grandfather teaches her that while everyone is different on the outside, we all have a heart and feelings on the inside.  Lucy is teased at school by a boy in her class, Ralph, for having poofy hair like a poodle and for eating spaghetti in a (you guessed it) hot dog bun for lunch.  One day, when Ralph gets himself stuck on the monkey bars, Lucy sees her opportunity to tease him right back, but, realizing how scared he is, she helps him instead.

Both Lucy and Ralph learn an important lesson in this book, and it would make the perfect read aloud in an elementary classroom to set the tone for the year, introduce conflict resolution strategies, or stop a bullying problem before it gets out of hand.  The story is simple and easy to understand, and the pictures are beautiful and full of color.  This picture book would best suit primary grade-aged kiddos.  A follow up activity in a first or second grade classroom might be for the kids to draw a picture and write a sentence about what makes them special and different from others, like Lucy is different because of her favorite foods and hair.  Even if you're not a teacher, this would be a great family read aloud and discuss starter!

Now, the best part--Maria Dismondy was kind enough to provide me with TWO copies of Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, so I am giving one signed copy away to a reader!
Yikes!  Sorry about the awful glare!
To enter to win your very own copy of this special picture book, simply leave a comment below telling me why you'd like to win or what you'd like to do with this book.  Are you hoping to share it with your children?  Read it as part of a bullying lesson in your classroom?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!  This giveaway will end at midnight on Sunday, January 15th.  I will choose a winner using random.org and will post the winner the following morning.  Thanks for entering, and be sure to stop by Maria Dismondy's website!

Disclaimer: I was provided with one copy of the book to review and one to giveaway.  I was not asked to provide a specific opinion, and all thoughts expressed in this post are my own.

Thank You! The Versatile Blogger Award

A big THANK YOU to the following people for naming me a Versatile Blogger!!!

Literacy Teacher @ Reading Really Rocks
Jordan @ Life is Better Messy Anyways (sorry it took me so long, Jordan!)
Heather @ Loose Shoelaces
Sorry if I skipped anyone!  Thanks ladies!  You are too sweet. :)  
(Now go check out all of those awesome blogs!)

The Rules: Share seven things about yourself.

1. I hate cooking but LOVE watching cooking shoes, especially any that involve a competition: Top Chef, Chopped, Throwdown, Next Food Network Star, you name it...

2. When I'm stressed, I like to organize everything in sight.  Sometimes when I'm not stressed too...I'm notorious with my custodian for rearranging the furniture in my classroom several times a year! 

3.  I love post-its, pens, and paper.  (But really, what teacher doesn't?)

4. I'm a vegetarian and tried being a vegan for 30 days in October.  It was way easier than I thought, but a gigantic pain anytime I traveled, went out with friends, or was a guest at someone else's house.  So for now, I'm just a regular old veggie still...although I'd like to try another 30 day trial sometime soon.

5. I feel like I have learned more random knowledge about history, science, and the world in general from teaching 5th grade than in my 17+ years as a student combined.  I like to throw random "5th grade facts" into conversation sometimes, my favorite being how rattlesnake fangs fold back on hinges when they close their mouths!  (Come on, how awesome is that??)

6. In real life I am 24, but I put the old in old soul and feel like my personality is at least that of a 35 year old.  

7.  Last but DEFINITELY not least, I am about to be an aunt for the first time!!!  My wonderful Older Brother and Sis-in-law are expecting their first baby any day now!  I. cannot. wait.

I'm supposed to pass this award onto 15 newly discovered blogs.  I will do my best!  I know several of these have already received the award, so sorry to double up!  (Oh, and some are not exactly newly discovered for me, but I love them anyways and wanted to share...I break the rules like that...)
Stop by them all anyways to check them out because these ladies are FAB-U-LOUS!

Michelle @ Carpenter's Corner
Steph @ Run for Fun
Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner
Stephanie @ Teaching in Room 6
Mrs. Kennedy @ Reading is Thinking

January 6, 2012

Running Music: When you just need a song to keep ya goin'

I used to listen to music on every single run, but after my ipod died on a run last spring, I discovered how amazing a quiet run can be.  I find myself focusing on my breath, my pace, random worries and problems, prayers, or good mantras.  But I won't deny it, there are times when music really is necessary to make it through.  I bring music on almost all of my long runs.  Here are some of my absolute favorite running songs that, without fail, can get me through even the toughest miles.
10. Dynamite by Taio Cruz (This one probably would have been higher up on the list over the summer, but since it's my morning "pump up" song in the classroom, I've been getting a little sick of it these days!  Still a great song for running though!)

9. Price Tag by Jessie J: I just really love this song and it always puts me in a good mood.  Sometimes I need a true pump up song when running, but sometimes I just need a song to put a smile on my face.  This is one of those songs.  I swear, as soon as I hear it I want to break into a dance party.

8. Born This Way by Lady Gaga: Great beat AND great message? Yes please! "I'm beautiful in my way cause God makes no mistakes, I'm on the right track baby, I was born this way.  Don't hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you're set, I'm on the right track baby, I was born this way."

7. Dog Days are Over by Florence + the Machine: "Run fast for your mother run fast for your father, Run for your children for your sisters and brothers, Leave all your love and your longing behind you, Can't carry it with you if you want to survive..." DUH!  Amazing, right?

6. ET by Katy Perry: Love the beat on this one, plain and simple!

5. One Day by Matisyahu: Fell in love with this song during the Vancouver Olympics a few years ago.  "Sometimes in my tears I drown, but I never let it get me down, so when negativity surrounds I know some day it'll all turn around...one day.." This is the perfect for a post-injury run--a great reminder that while you're not where you once were, you'll get there soon.

4. Lose Yourself by Eminem: This one is totally a throw back to high school...Don't worry, I still know every word and sometimes like to rock out in my off-key voice while on the trails alone.

3. All These Things That I've Done by The Killers: Absolutely love the end of this song when it just repeats over and over again, "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier."  Amazing!

2. Firework by Katy Perry: "Cause baby you're a firework, come on, show 'em what you're worth, make 'em go oh, oh, oh, as you shoot across the sky..." YES.  Come on.  When you're about to quit, tell me that THAT won't get you to push on for another mile (at least)!

1. Till I Collapse by Eminem: This is the ultimate pump up song.  I swear, awhile back I would listen to this song before and about 5 times during every run.  "'Cause sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.  But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength and just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up."  SO. GOOD.

So, I'm dying to know...
Do you run with music or without? 

What are some of your your go-to running songs?

January 4, 2012

Zipfizz Review

I recently had the opportunity to review Zipfizz energy drink.  Zipfizz is a powdered energy drink mix packaged in single serving tubes.  It is low calorie, caffeinated, and chock full of vitamins and electrolytes.  From the company's website:

Zipfizz is an all-natural, great tasting energy drink-mix powder that delivers a powerful charge of micronutrients to the body's fuel system. It contains no ephedra or other artificial stimulants. Most
people experience an immediate, revitalizing burst of energy after taking Zipfizz.  
Zipfizz is healthy energy in a tube! Give your body a rush of vitamins, minerals and key amino acids to protect the immune system. Zipfizz has created an advanced formula that provides a significant amount of vitamins, fewer calories, lower carbohydrates, superior taste, variety and unique packaging! Simply put, it's different because it's good for you!

Zipfizz sent me this cute sample package:
I learned VERY quickly not to get overzealous with the water bottle shaking!  Cut to me exploding Zipfizz all over my classroom...at least it was before school! :)
Overall, I have mixed feelings about this product.  I tried it a few times before school in the morning and once before a cross training workout when I was really dragging.  I did feel energized, but I don't know if I'd go so far to say that I felt a BURST of energy.  Of course, I definitely didn't feel a crash afterwards so that's a plus!  I've read a few reviews from runners who tried it before a run and noticed an improved speed.  I haven't tried this yet, but plan to use one of my last tubes for this purpose.
Things I liked:
  • The mix dissolves super quickly!  I hate when drink mixes have chunks--ugh.  Thankfully I learned there is actually minimal shaking required. ;)
  • The powder tubes are convenient to throw in a purse or keep in my desk
  • I enjoyed the light carbonation in the drink.
Things I didn't like:
  • I found most of the flavors just too sweet.  The pink lemonade was pretty good, but the berry was WAY too sweet.  I'm not a big fan of super strong/sweet flavors in drinks most of the time.  I guess I could have tried using less mix in the water bottle...
  • Maybe it's just me, but I noticed a weird aftertaste that I wasn't crazy about...a definite negative in my book.
Final thoughts?  Good, but not my favorite.  I'll try it again for sure, but so far I think I prefer coffee or nuun. :)

Disclaimer: Zipfizz sent me the sample package pictured above to review.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

January 3, 2012

Back to School, Back to School...

Happy Tuesday!  To those of you teachers who are still off...well, I'm jealous. :)  I have to say that I loved my two weeks off.  This break was hands down the laziest break of my teaching career, if not my life.  Several pajama days. :)  I have to tell you that I was completely dreading going back to school today.  You know how Mondays have been pretty rotten in my classroom this year?  Well I figured that the Monday after a two week break would be just that much more rotten...I'm happy to say I was wrong!

To convince myself to leave my warm cozy bed and pjs at an ungodly hour, I made myself a sinfully delicious bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter, brown sugar, and a spoonful of mini-chocolate chips...every bite was ah.maz.ing.  Seriously, I know this bowl was just LOADED with sugar and wasn't exactly the healthiest start to the day, but it was good for my soul (and probably still a healthier choice than a big starbucks muffin!).
I made it to school super early to prep for the week and get my brain back in Teacher Mode (nothing worse than scrambling on a Monday morning, except maybe scrambling on a Monday after a break!).  My kiddos, miraculously, weren't too crazy and our day went relatively smoothly!  (Except for when I told them a little white lie that lunch recess was going to be cancelled...my "hook" into a new unit on persuasive writing, more to come on this soon!)  Everything went smoothly, that is, until I BANGED my knee on the corner of a low cabinet in my classroom this afternoon.  My god.  That one stung...actually, it is still REALLY sore.  This job is just plain dangerous sometimes!  Anyways, I nixed my plans for a treadmill run and came home to, believe it or not, cook myself dinner.  Shocked?  I am too. 
Three "pots" (well, 2 and a blender), 20 minutes, and the easiest dinner ever was done!  I had quinoa with (frozen) sitrfry vegetables smothered in mmmm sauce (find the recipe at mamapea's here!).  Easy, yummy, and vegan!

Now, faced with a rare free evening, I'm putting up my feet, icing my swollen knee, and watching my newest guilty pleasure, Breaking Bad.  Have you watched that show before?  Holy intensely awesome.  Thank you, Netflix instant!! 

Teachers, how was your first day back?

What's your favorite quick-cook meal?

January 1, 2012

2011 Reflections &2012 Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I love New Year's Resolutions. I know they're kind of silly, but I am all about the whole clean slate feel at the beginning of a new year.  Last year I tried to make "SMART" resolutions instead of the general ones I've always made in the past like "Take better care of myself" and "spend more time with friends"...you get the idea. Here are last year's resolutions and how I did with keeping them:

2011 Resolutions Review
School Goals
  • Research grad school programs and select a Reading Specialist Masters program that works for me, both financially and logistically; DONE!  I applied for and was accepted into a reading masters cohort this fall.  It starts in February.  Although I have NO idea how I'm going to fit another thing into my busy schedule, I'm going to at least START and see how it goes...
  • Make time for Read Aloud in my classroom at least 4 days a week, if only for 5 minutes; DONE!  This year I built 10 minutes into my schedule every day to read aloud to the kiddos.  Hands down, it is my favorite part of the day.
  • Spend no more than 1 night per week at school until 6 (at the latest!); DONE! I stay until 6 Tuesdays, but I made commitments for myself Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (tutoring, yoga, tutoring) to get myself outta there!  Of course, once grad school starts I won't even be able to stay late on Tuesdays...oh gosh...
  • Use a formative assessment strategy like Exit Slips at least once a week; In Progress...My team and I are TRYING to do a weekly exit slip in literacy, but I'd really like to use them more frequently in math and science too...
Fitness Goals
  • Continue following and complete Hal Higdon's 1/2 Marathon Novice training plan, and subsequently complete the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon; DONE!
Being a Grown-Up & Living a Happy Life Goals
  • Set aside at least 1/2 an hour every single day just for myself, and use this time for reading, exercise, or just relaxing with some music; DONE!  I typically spend at least 1/2 hour a day reading or working out.  So important!
  • Develop a budget, and stick to it! NOT EVEN CLOSE!  This is definitely a goal for 2012...
  • Find & move into an apartment that I love and can reasonably afford; DONE!  Love my little apartment!  
  • Cook a healthy meal for myself at least once a week (and by cook I mean actually prepare, not just assemble on a plate.  And no, oatmeal doesn't count... :-/ )   NOT EVEN CLOSE!  Another goal for 2012...
  • Take my vitamins every day :) Mostly Done!  I was doing really good for awhile, but fell off the wagon recently...oops!
source: postsecret.com
2012 Resolutions
  • Figure out a schedule to help maintain balance in my life and keep up with my training schedule even after I've started my masters program...this may involve a 4am run Tuesday mornings... :-/
  • Religiously foam roll my IT bands and don't get any new injuries... (Fingers Crossed!!)
  • Set a half-marathon PR 
  • Run a sub-30 minute 5K. (This is a lofty goal!!!  I think I can do it though!)
  • Try a sprint tri this summer!
  • Try out being vegan again for another 30 days.
  • Spend time on weekends from time to time preparing meals for the week.
  • Create a budget...help please, Dad!!!
  • Finish decorating my apartment! (almost there!)
  • Use exit slips in math and literacy once a week (each).
  • Keep a "just for fun" book in progress at all times to help me keep my sanity.
What are your resolutions for 2012?

New Years Resolutions--love 'em or hate 'em?
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