Monthly Archives: July 2014

6 AirBnB locations in Chicago to try! | Travel Tuesday

where to stay in chicago

Sometimes travel just means getting out of your regular routine and trying something new and fun- even if it’s in your own city! Especially since I’m new to the area, there are still so many exciting places to see and experience here in Chicago. I’ve been doing some day dreaming on AirBnB lately, and here are my top 6 picks for where I’d like to stay in the Chicago area.

Weekend trip, anyone?

6) This is a yacht. I don’t really feel like I need to say anything else, but have you seen that float thing? Perfection. Sign me up!

5) This is just for you and your 11 closest friends. No big deal or anything. You HAVE to look at that bathroom.

4) Want a getaway on a budget that still feels luxurious and like you’re somewhere else? Then this Moroccan themed room is perfect for you. Ahem, me!

3) I love this one because it’s actually in the neighborhood I live in now- which is perfect. This is just much higher up, and has a balcony… and a pool…

2) THIS IS A CASTLE. I don’t know about you but I was once a little girl who wanted to be a princess. Come to think of it, I still want to be a princess so this place would BLOW MY MIND.

1) This tree house getaway. Yep, A TREE HOUSE. If that’s not the coolest thing around then I just don’t know what is.

So far I’ve loved exploring this city I’m living in. What’s your favorite thing to do/see in your city?

Travel Tuesday

Weekly Wishes! I have a secret and I really wanna share it!

CTE Group

Not even a little sorry about the terrible photo quality. We were having too much fun for real pictures.

There’s just something so satisfying about hanging out with people you know love you so completely, despite all your strangeness and neediness and regardless of the fact that you’ve really only known each other for 6 weeks. It’s such a strange feeling to know these people so deeply after such a short time, but somehow it’s been possible. When all we’ve had is each other in a new city and new experience that we’ve been going through together, it’s been so natural to support, love, and draw strength from these friends. Ups and downs and everything in between, these guys (plus a few more that weren’t in this selfie) have been through it all. It’s a glorious feeling.

But I’m guessing you’re here because the title said something about a secret? Well, sorry, I can’t tell you quite yet! Stick around till next Monday’s weekly wishes and I’ll be able to spill everything! Just know that it’s something really really exciting and I absolutely can’t wait to share it!

This past week was the very last week of TFA summer institute. We made it. Now I have about a month off to explore and fall in love with this city before school starts and winter comes. Today is a day of healing- my body and exhaustion caught up with me this weekend but now I’ve got some lovely antibiotics to kick it straight out of town.

This week’s goals are simple, really.

1) Get everything packed up to move into my new apartment!
2) Get rid of some things that I really just don’t need anymore.
3) Explore the city and surrounding areas. I’ve got some interesting day trips planned out this week that I’ve excited for!
4) Feel better! I’m sure with a combination of actually getting some sleep, the antibiotics, and relaxation coming up it’ll be easy to do!

And that’s that! What are your goals for the week? Let me know in the comments so I can cheer you on from my bed between Netflix marathons and soup runs from the Panera downstairs!

Their Success is my Success.


These aren’t, of course, my students. Confidentiality, you know. But these are my co-teachers for the 4th grade and who pretty much got me through this summer.

As many of you know, last week I finished up summer school for my 4th graders. It was a roller coaster process. I taught summer school at a different school than where I’ll be during the school year, so I didn’t know these kids before and will likely not see them again unless they reach out. All of that is to say, establishing classroom culture takes time and that’s one thing we were short on in our quick month of summer school.

There were days when I didn’t think they learned a single thing. There were days when I cried on the drive home because I was sure I failed them as a teacher. There were days when I was pretty sure I wasn’t good enough for this and wanted to throw up my hands and apologize to the kids for not being a better teacher and give up.

But then,

There were days where we laughed together throughout the day. There were days when their observations and connections were so on point that I cried tears of happiness on the way home. There were more days when I was absolutely sure that I am in the right profession and that they learned so much during the lessons. There were days that ended in hugs and excited conversations of what was to come tomorrow. And there were days of bright, shining successes.

Last Friday, our last day, we gave a post-assessment to our kids to see how much they actually learned during our time. A way to measure if I taught well enough more than measuring their scores for perfect correctness.

My kids passed with flying colors.

Grading those was the happiest feeling. The days I thought I had failed and the kids learned nothing? The kids still used the skill/ strategy I tried to teach that day to think about and solve problems.

The days I cried on the way home? The kids wrote about how they knew their teacher cared about them because of how I talked to them and pushed them.

The days I thought I would never be good enough? All pushed away.

My kids learned. They grew. They knew I loved and cared about them.

After the math part of the assessment, the child I had the most struggles with was chatting with me. He talked of baseball and books, his brother and mom. Then he paused and said, “I know sometimes I don’t think I acted like it, but I really do like you. I’m going to miss you.” And then continued on talking about other things 9 year old boys like. Such a simple thought and sentence for him. A HUGE win and impact for me.

As we got ready to say goodbye, it was a simple hug, high five, and wave as we walked out the doors. Inside, it was so much more.

It was a sign of success. Of their success. Of how much more prepared they are for next year because of summer school. Because of me.

It was my success, too.

Week’s End.

Wait, but it’s just the beginning?

I know, but this week I’m mixing up my normal Monday blogging and trying out a new weekly link up. I figure it’s time for a little something new. I’m sure at some point I’ll go back to Weekly Wishes, I just want to throw in a little something different.

So, without further ado:

weeks end


Katherine, my co-teacher for the summer. We had a lot of good times in room 205!

From a training session, some ideas involved in living out our core practices through teaching.

Roommates and friends, on our last weekend living together and marking the beginning of our post-training Chicago lives. We are all SO happy to be moving out of the dorms that we’ve been in these past few weeks, but we’re definitely not looking forward to living separately. Of course, we’ll all still be seeing each other regularly, it just won’t be the same as living together.


Oh friends, this weekend was wonderful. Absolutely full of fun times and relaxation. Friday night I spent celebrating the end of summer school with my group of teachers at dinner, and Saturday night after finishing grad school classes for the term we all went out to celebrate with dancing till our feet hurt and our faces hurt from laughing so much.

Today started with a long walk by the lake with my roommates, running over to Chinatown for Dim Sum and to walk through the festival happening today.

At some point of course I had to come home and finish up some last licensure requirements for my Special Education certification, and now I’ve just had a relaxing evening spending time with my roommates and chatting about the days to come. We have one more week of intensive training until I’ll be free for a month!

3 things I’ve been thinking about lately:
– The idea was planted in my head today that I might want to go home for a couple weeks, but money sucks and that might not quite be possible. It’s worth checking out flights though.
– I think I want to redo my “about” page. The one I have now is outdated and not as fun as I’d like it to be
– I am so excited to be able to get back to blogging more now that the bulk of summer training and summer school are over! I’ve missed keeping up with blog friends and sharing things with my readers!

3 posts you might have missed:
Oh hey, Friday!
Top 3 Travel Destinations (and my future plans!)
Dear 17 year old me,

3 posts from other favorite blogs:
Why You Should Book That Ticket byt one of my favorite travel bloggers.
How to Beat Writer’s Block from a new bffl who’s both super nice and super smart.
A Coffee Date post from a friend who I wish I could sit down and chat with in real life too.

I’ll be linking up today with Oak and Oats! If you’re stopping over here from Madison’s blog, welcome! I’m so glad to have you here today. Follow along and say hi!

Oh hey, Friday!

Friday Color Run

This picture really has nothing to do with anything other than it makes me incredibly happy. So there’s that. I miss this girl!

1) Today is my last day with my summer school kiddos and I could just about cry. I feel like we just barely started and have gotten to a point where we understand each other and things work well in my classroom. Now I have to send them off into the world and that makes me sad. I know they will be fine but I’m just going to miss them!

2) Tomorrow is my last day of grad school class for the term! It’s so weird to think how quickly it has gone by. Masters degree, here I come!

3) I’m still super excited about this post about where I’m heading next. Solo travel has such a huge space in my heart. I just can’t wait to get to planning and setting up for another trip. My heart needs a good adventure and Vietnam just seems more and more like the place to go that the more I think about it. Now that’s in writing and out in the world it seems so much more real.

4) I am absolutely the MOST grateful for the sweet friends I’ve met since arriving here in Chicago. I’ve written about it before but the relationships I’ve formed thanks to Teach for America- I wouldn’t change them for the world. They are such amazing and kind people and I just feel so overwhelmingly lucky that this is the life I’m living.

5) That’s really all I can think of. My brain can only go as far a field day this afternoon and trying to think up ways to keep Popsicle stickiness off of kids’ clothes. Yeah… right. In my dreams, I know. I’m off to get one more day’s learning into these kids and then off to celebrate making it through summer school with some fellow teachers.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! I have a really fun post coming up on Monday that I’m super excited about, so I hope you’ll come back and see what’s going on!

Weekly Wishes- Over halfway through summer institute!

Week 5 is here! It’s my last week with actual students and I’ve already started missing my kids. We’ve had a bumpy road along the way but we’ve all grown so much and these kids really mean so much to me.

This weekend I took an impromptu road trip to see my friend Laura in Louisville, KY! It was perfectly timed and totally needed. We had a blast hanging out and going out and ordering in food and catching up on life. Now I’m back in Chicago ready to take on a whole new week!

Last week, my goals were to:

1) Have a better week.

2) Blog more! 

3) Keep on, keeping on. 

These goals are sticking around for yet another week as I have some thinking and some healing to do around here. Though I’m not quite ready to write about it yet, there have been some events lately that haven’t been the greatest around here. I promise to fill you all in soon! Having said all that, any extra positive vibes, thoughts, and prayers you could send this way would be totally appreciated.

I hope you all had a great weekend and are getting a fabulous start to the week!

5 on Friday!


1. I HAVE A REAL WEEKEND! And that is one of the most exciting things that could happen! It’s my first (and only) weekend off during the summer and it’s so needed. I’m gettin’ out of dodge as soon as I get off work and heading to Louisville, KY to see one of my best gals. I’m so excited I could dance. In fact, I may or may not have done a giant happy dance this morning.

2. My kids will learn, darn it. This structure makes classroom management a bit interesting but it’s definitely a good experience to be ready for the fall. All my kids are on different levels so we are very individualized right now.

3. I bought the audio version of a book I need to read for my grad school class and right now I’m super excited for the drive so I can listen to it the whole way! 2 birds, one stone.

4. Institute is worth it. In a heartbeat I can tell you all that it’s worth it, but it’s hard beyond words. Which sounds so whiny to say but it’s so true. More than money, more than time, it’s hard.

5. I feel like every store in the world right now is having sales. This is happy for my soul but so so dangerous for my wallet. What are your favorite online stores? What’s the latest sale? Fill me in!  🙂

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back on Monday with lots of updates and fun things.

Top 3 Next Travel Destinations | Travel Tuesday!


Vietnam- Looking into doing this in 2015! Or maybe 2016. I’m waiting to see how this year goes and how I settle into life in Chicago before doing any hard planning. I’m not sure where in the country I want to see/stay, so I’ll be doing more research here in the coming weeks!


Istanbul, Turkey- This one is also in the running for 2015-2016. I keep going back and forth and can’t decide! We’ll see what happens in the coming year to really make a decision. I can only imagine the beauty that I’d find here and how fun it would be to experience.


Greece- Greece has been on my list for as long as I can remember. This is a trip I must take with my mother. I know it’s been her dream and I couldn’t imagine going there with anyone else. The blue and white buildings are something I feel the need to see in my lifetime.

There we have it! The next 3 places on my travel list. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to get planning on one of them!

Where else should I add to my list? Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been? I’m always looking for more places to experience and see!

Travel Tuesday

Weekly Wishes!

Weekly wishes

Isn’t D’s little niece the cutest? I had a blast hanging out with her this weekend!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! Mondays are never fun and especially a Monday after a holiday weekend leaves a lot to be desired. However, I’ve got high hopes for this week despite having work and class all 5 days (plus again on Saturday). I start my classes on teaching math this week and I definitely need them. Math has never been my strong suit but I am determined to still be great at teaching it by the end of this.

This weekend was spent celebrating and enjoying time with D’s family and exploring the city a little bit more. We had a blast spending a day on the beach and then a day out and about walking and seeing what we could see. I LOVE fireworks, so seeing them was definitely a plus! D and I have already made plans to go back out to Navy Pier next weekend to see more fireworks!

Last week, my goals were to incredibly similar to what I want to keep doing this week. With that, I’m going to keep my goals from last week and roll them on over to this week.

1) Have a better week. I definitely did this, teaching wise. I feel like I was more clear on expectations and my students responded well to that. I tried a few new things to help adjust to their learning styles and it all seemed to work out! I really want to keep this momentum going and build better relationships this week.

2) Blog more! Well, um, ya know. I tried. This one is going to be a continuous goal throughout this summer. By time I get home after 14 hour days, it’s all I can do to text my mother, much less write blog posts. But I’m trying!

3) Keep on, keeping on. This week has been a bit of a roller coaster with low lows and high highs. I think that’s kind of the deal with summer training. Everything is multiplied. It’s so hard to remember that life outside this little TFA world exists sometimes, until something happens that makes it all too real. We lost my sweet Capone this past week and it’s hit me harder than even I thought it would. That baby dog had my heart and was the best dog he ever could have been. Though I know he’ll still be with me, it’s unbelievable how much I miss him.

I’m set to have a great week this week. This weekend I get the FULL weekend off and I couldn’t be more excited! Plus during the week I’ve got some great lessons planned for my kids that I think they’re going to really like.

Here’s to a great week!

Happy 4th of July!

4th of July Nails

I’m off to some beach time with the boy and his family, then it’ll be time for a cookout and fireworks!

I hope everyone has a great (and safe) 4th!

And for those of you outside of the States- have a great day!

I’ll be back around Monday after enjoying my weekend off! I get ALL of Friday and Saturday off, so I’m definitely going to be loving this time. I go back to training on Sunday so I’ve got to make the most of my time while I can!