Sierra's View: 2016

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Friday, December 30, 2016

BEST OF 2016.

Oh 2016, you fell least that's what the world seems to think.
For me, personally, it was a pretty good year. Nothing amazing, though. Honestly the best part about 2016? Living in Maui for a month. Besides that, I'd give 2016 a 8/10. B average. Do I sound like a Diva yet?

But, in all seriousness, I am so grateful for everything I've been given! I have such a wonderful life and I can't wait to look back at the best moments of 2016. This is one of my favorite posts to do every year!

via Instagram. These are my "most liked" photos on Instagram this year. And I think it encompasses my year quite perfectly.

Here are my top moments in life and blogging of 2016 (in no particular order)

Top moments:
1) Hanging out with Saylor. She's my best bud. I love my doggie.
2) Dressing up as the Crazy cat lady for Halloween. It was a hoot.
2) Gorgeous sunset at my cabin in Crescent Lake, Oregon. (And just visiting my cabin!)
3) Visiting the Oregon Coast (Haystack Rock).
4) Meeting Elaine Dalton and working on my spiritual goals. I have been working on my spiritual habits and I have noticed it changing my life.
5) Learning to love the winter here in Utah, despite the cold. I love the views and beauty!
6) Gorgeous Fall hikes and working on my nature photography.
7) Starting my fifth year teaching sixth grade!
8) Utah National Parks for Spring Break: Bryce Canyon was my favorite this visit.
9) Utah Canyon hikes are my favorite! I have done so many challenging, rewarding and beautiful hikes!
10) Living in Maui for a month in July, of course!!!!

Top 10 Blog Posts from this year:
1) Celebrating third anniversary with T-Money in July: His hilarious interview. 
2) Things to Remember When You Feel Like You are Not Enough. 
3) Quotes to Lift You Up. 
4) Monthly Book Reviews (I love these!). June was the highest views!
5) How We Wore It Fashion Collaborations. Workout Clothes!
6) Maui Guidebook posts: Road to Hana.
7) Nature Photography: Fall!
8) Utah Hiking Series: Silver Lake AF Canyon.
9) Why Everyone Needs a Dog. 
10) Ainge Reunion in Oregon. 

Looks like my travels: Maui, Oregon coast, Eastern Oregon cabin, Portland, Utah National Parks are your favorite posts! Well, you are in luck because more travels will be happening in 2017 (including Italy in January!). I am so excited to see what lessons, adventures, and fun will happen this upcoming year. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


These holiday months have completely flown by. Where does time go?
Before I knew it, I didn't even post my November reads and it's the end of December. Ha. So,  you get two months of books. Yay!!!!!!

The Nightingale // Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Despite their differences, sisters Viann and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Viann finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her. As the war progresses, the sisters' relationship and strength is tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

My thoughts: This book was probably my favorite book that I read in all of 2016. I wish I could explain the emotion I felt while reading it. I got teary-eyed about three different times throughout the novel, which is something that is really hard for me. It takes a lot for me to actually get emotional in books these days. I love reading World War II novels and the historical fiction around them. Often times, I get annoyed with World War II novels because there are so many of them, but I love the point of view that this story was written in. It was from France's experience during the war and that is something that I am not too knowledgeable about. Because of that, I loved that perspective. I loved the two main characters. Of course I am all about Team Isabelle simply because of her tenacity and spark and passion towards life. But, I loved Viann in a way. She was endearing and kind and lovable. I love the two stories intertwining together and the theme was portrayed in this novel. This book is 400+ pages and I read it in two nights. It is a novel that you don't want to put down, one that tears at your heart strings, and binds you to the story immensely. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“In love we find out who we want to be, in war we find out who we are.”

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo// Amy Schumer

Genre: Nonfiction/Autobiography

Rating: 3/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is - a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

My thoughts: I love Amy Schumer because 1) I think she's hilarious, 2) Her woman-pride! Yes! and 3) I feel like we would be best friends in real life. With that being said, I felt like this book was trying way too hard. I felt like she was trying too hard to be dirty. The book was a little all of over the place and kind of pointless at times. I laughed out loud at a few things, but it was not as funny as I'd hoped it to be because I felt like she was trying too hard. It was a fun, light read though. If you are sensitive to the F-word then don't read it (or listen to it! ha). 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“I know my worth. I embrace my power. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story. I will. I'll speak and share and fuck and love, and I will never apologize for it. I am amazing for you, not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you.

Bud, Not Buddy// Christopher Paul Curtis

Genre: Historical Fiction (YA)

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud's got a few things going for him:1. He has his own suitcase filled with his own important, secret things.2. He's the author of Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!Bud's got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him--not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

My thoughts: Because I teach sixth grade, I am always trying to read a young adult novel. I read this book back when I was in elementary school, but I wanted to re-read it because I am participating in a book challenge with my fellow teachers and students. This book is such a classic. I love Bud's character so much. He is spunky, intelligent and relatable on many levels.  The voice in this novel is strong as it talks about a young black boy in Flint, Michigan during the Great Depression. It was poignant, well-written and an enjoyable young adult novel. I would recommend it to my students (and their parents!). 

Favorite Quote from the book: “There comes a time when you're losing a fight that it just doesn't make sense to keep on fighting. It's not that you're being a quitter, it's just that you've got the sense to know when enough is enough.” 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child // John Tiffany, J.K. Rowling, & Jack Thorne

Genre: Fantasy (play) 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My thoughts: Everyone has their opinion on this "new" Harry Potter book. However, I'm not sure I would even consider it as Harry Potter #8. It is witten as a play, which was a little difficult for me at first to read, but once I got into it, I kind of loved it. I loved that I could picture the actual play in my mind as I read. (I tend to do this anyway when I am reading. I picture it as a movie). It is not even written by JK Rowling fully, so I wouldn't even put it in the series, if that makes sense. All in all, I enjoyed the novel/script. It was not my favorite, but it is always enjoyable to re-visit that magical world that I loved as a child and still love today. 

Favorite Quote from the book: "DUMBLEDORE: Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”

Rain, Reign // Ann M. Martin

Genre: Realistic Fiction (YA) 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)
Summary: Rose Howard has Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

My thoughts: This was such a fantastic novel. I loved it so much! Having a nephew with Aspergers and students who have it yearly, I feel that I am pretty knowledgeable about it. I was curious to see how Martin’s character would be written. She definitely did her homework, or has previous experience/knowledge on the subject, because she hit the nail on the head with this character. So many of Rose’s characteristics were familiar to me, and I love that Martin wasn’t just writing how she thought a character would be, this character was spot on for Aspergers. The relationship that Rose has with her dog Rain, who her father brought home one rainy night, is more than your average child/pet relationship. They have this really amazing bond that goes above and beyond a normal friendship, and I loved this bond so, so much.

Favorite Quote from the book: Talking about her dog: "I wrap (rap) my arms around her and feel her soft fur (fir) against my cheek. "I love you," I tell her.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

These are the best pictures we could get this year. 

This year was a whirlwind for us. We didn't send out a christmas card because I'm sure people are sick of seeing Tanner, me, and Saylor. Ha. I tell Tanner that I will send out a Christmas card once we have one of those children things. Either way, receiving Christmas cards is one of my favorite traditions, so keep 'em coming, guys. 

Without further ado, here is our "online Christmas card." 

Tanner is still attending Utah Valley University studying Business Marketing. He has one more year left! The end is in sight. T Money hates school, he'll be the first one to tell you that, but he is working hard to get done and get that degree! He works part time at a marketing company called 180 Fusion and is loving it. He is loved by all animals and all kids and it absolutely melts my heart (and it sort of pisses me off). He plays on a soccer and basketball team and is a baller on the field and court! Ha. 

I am still teaching sixth grade. After five years, you would think that I wouldn't be shocked by hormonal twelve year olds, but, alas, I am. I am on a pretty strict workout plan and I have learned to love working out and hiking like crazy when the weather is nice.  Now if I can just get myself to start love running! There is something so peaceful to me about nature.  I am still taking nature photos part time and creating cards. I really hope to get that underway as a business one of these days. For now, I do it for a hobby and I am totally okay with it. I am still loving blogging and writing on here, but like usual, it has kind of taken a back seat to some other things in my life. Sorry, blog. I am still reading like a fiend and love book club. (look for my "Books Read in 2016" post--also my 2016 year in review post). I am missing singing and am looking into doing a musical in 2017. You know, with all of my spare time while teaching ;).

We are teaching sunbeams together and actually kind of love it. Those kids say the funniest things in church. By far our favorite memory of this year is living in Maui for a month in July and it was absolute heaven. We have done lots of fun adventures throughout Utah, including visiting Bryce Canyon for Spring Break. We are still in the process of updating our adorable first home and we love it. Both of us love having our little puppy child, Saylor. 

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas time and Happy Holiday season. We are grateful for all of our dear family and friends. Even more so, we are grateful for the Birth of our Savior and all the blessings he has bestowed upon us. 

All our love,
Tanner and Sierra 

Friday, November 11, 2016

On Setting Boundaries.

A few years ago, when I would hear that word, I used to cringe. The idea of having boundaries made me sick to my stomach. I was not good at setting, giving, or explaining my boundaries to other people. When I heard the word "boundaries", I, in my brain, imagined a fence, literally and figuratively fencing me in. Boundaries, in my opinion, meant that I had to a "brat" or that I was being selfish.

I have explained my love for Brene Brown on this blog many times. I have read her novel The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong numerous times. Brene is a researcher who studies the idea of vulnerability. That idea then transformed into boundaries, confidence, and relying on oneself to be successful in this life. I am so fascinated with her research and this idea of boundaries and vulnerability as well. I think the reason why I am so entranced with it is because those are both things that are extremely prevalent in my life.

My friend sent me this quote that she wrote awhile back about boundaries and relationships: "I hope you understand that when I'm trying to be your friend I'm sharing your pain by choice because we are all here together so no one should hurt alone. I will defend you, uplift you, be a helping hand, motivate, appreciate and validate your existence. I will nurture you. I will, also, despite hardship,  appeal any wrongdoings unto you. That is my vow, those are my words. This is my promise to you as the most sincerest of love and devotion to a person."

I believe that a good friend is one who helps someone else see their potential and his or her BEST SELF. If you truly love someone, I believe that it is imperative that you are forming a relationship where you are uplifting them and not consistently tearing them down. I have quite a few people in my life whom, it seems, subconsciously tear me down. I don' even think that these people are even aware that they make me feel self conscious or uncomfortable and not completely myself. And, ultimately, that's not their fault. It is my choice how I feel. Ultimately, I determine how I feel about myself, regardless of the actions or comments or thoughts from others. With that being said, setting boundaries will always come into play in any relationship: platonic or romantic. If a relationship is no longer for you, it is okay to walk away. It is okay to say, "This relationship is not fulfilling me in the way that is healthy."

However, you cannot, obviously, walk away from every relationship that hurts you. That is part of being human and part of growing. This is where setting boundaries comes into play.  Those relationships that you cherish and want to keep around are important. It is imperative that you set up boundaries in particular circumstances. And stick to them. Whatever those boundaries are, regarding bringing up certain topics (finance, body image, religion, politics, etc.), you need to clearly state them  to these people. And from there, you need to remind them, if so be it.

Boundaries are crucial for healthy relationships and this is something that I am working on. Recently, in a book club with some friends, we were discussing that difficult part of transforming from "Best Friends" to "Acquaintances." Obviously, this is something that is inevitable for all of us. There doesn't need to be any reason for this happening, often times it just happens. There are times when we cannot and will not have the same relationship with someone as we did a few years earlier, and that's okay. Distance, age, and life circumstances causes this to happen all of the time.

Allowing yourself the ability to distance yourself from others is imperative in the process of setting boundaries. It is okay to say no. It is okay to not be as close with past friends. It is okay to move on to the next phase of life. Setting those boundaries, saying no, will, ultimately allow you to open your heart to new friends, new hobbies, and new experiences. Setting boundaries is not a fence, it is a door, that allows you to free yourself of any guilt or pain that others may cause you.

I challenge each of you to set a boundary this week. It will empower you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hi Friends.

Via Instagram 
Hi friends. It's been awhile since I've just written, huh? 
Here is a selfie of me. It is hard for me to be in pictures because I hate my double chin and my stomach and my imperfections. I look at pictures of me in high school and I want to laugh out loud because I thought I was fat. HA. If only my stupid 16 year old brain only knew the struggles of PCOS I would have later on. Sometimes, however, it is so important for others to see your imperfections because it helps them connect with you. Sometimes it is important for ME to see them, so that I can remind myself of the good things about myself. Does that make sense? I don't know if it does. My brain is a little scattered right now. 

Life has been good. I wouldn't say it's amazing and I wouldn't say it is terrible. I just feel content. In my mind, that is a perfect way to be. Because I tend to feel things so deeply, I tend to have "Extreme" time periods--where things are terrible or wonderful, there doesn't seem to be any in between. (Which is one of my vices. I am working on it!). So the feeling of just being content makes me happy, if that makes sense.  
It has been abnormally warm here in November. Today, as I am typing this, it is 70 degrees! In Utah! And it's almost winter! I am not complaining though, if I'm being honest. I am a sun worshipper, so I will do anything to have warmth stay as long as possible. However, it is a little difficult to feel the "Thanksgiving and Christmas feeling" when its warm, I have found. How do you Californians and Arizonans (Arizonians?) do it? 
I have been working out like crazy. My BMI has gone done 5 points since last October, which is awesome, but my weight is not going down! It's frustrating, but I am trying to exercise to feel better. I am a better wife, teacher, friend and person when I exercise regularly, even if it's just a 30 minute walk. 
I am reading like crazy as well (what's new?). I have this terrible habit of avoiding things and reading books. It's not good. I spent all Saturday cleaning my house an going on a gorgeous hike though, so I'm not completely negligent to my responsibilities. Ha! I am currently reading the new Harry Potter, Bud, Not Buddy (sixth grade book for my students), and Big Little Lies. I can't wait to share with you my monthly reads at the end of November. 
I am learning to put myself out there and continue to make new friends. I tend to get stuck and want to keep the same friends that I always have, but I have learned that it doesn't necessarily work that. I love my college friends, but It's time to find other friends, new friends, to relate to and connect with as well. I am loving my monthly book club and Bunco group with other fun, intelligent, beautiful women who get my crazy sense of humor and deep thoughts! 
I am working on my scripture study and trying to really take to heart what the prophets and apostles of my church are saying. I am not a perfect Christian, but I am working on trusting my leaders and taking what they say with a positive outlook. This is hard for me because I am a stubborn one. 

I hope things are well for you. I know that I have not written in awhile, but it's mostly because I don't really know what to say. Come follow on Twitter and Instagram for more daily updates! 

What's new with you? 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Things That Make Me Happy.

via Instagram 
I absolutely love the quote that is posted above. I feel like it encompasses my view on life perfectly. More comfort does not bring more happiness. I have come to find that to be incredibly true. Right now, in my life, I feel like I am at a little bit of a crossroads. I am trying to figure out what the next step is going to be. A family, changing jobs, etc. I sort of, in a way, feel stuck. I don't want to go into too much detail because I'm still trying to figure out why I feel this way, this "stuck" feeling, but I think it's time for me to do a little soul searching to find out what needs to happen. 

With that being said, there are so many things in life my that make me happy right now. Because it is the month of Thanksgiving, I wanted to talk about all of the little (and big!) things that make me happy (I really need the gratitude bug right about now! Ha). 

-T Money. He just got a new job and is working part time and going to school full time. I love watching him do things that he loves and learning to "find his thing." He wants to do well and I am grateful for that. 
-My job. I love teaching sixth graders. I love all of their personalities, funny things that they say, and their insights into things. They are smarter than what they give themselves credit for, sometimes. 
-My adorable house. I cannot believe the amount of leaves that are falling on our house!!! We have so many gorgeous trees which is amazing for privacy and beauty, but the leaves in the Fall are absolutely terrible. We will spend 3 hours cleaning them up and literally one week later, our entire backyard is filled with leaves again. I'm avoiding it until it gets cold and then I'll just clean them all up before it snows. Ha. Even though home ownership is a ton of work, I am so grateful for my little home and my backyard and that I have a space that is mine! 
-Saylor the pup, of course. She's the best doggy. Even if she does need a bath right now. 
-The crisp Fall air. Even though it's hot right now, I love the crisp Fall mornings, where it's not too cold to do anything, but it has that chill in the air. 
-Ice Cold Dr. Pepper. Duh. That's all I have to say about that. 
-Photography and taking gorgeous photos of nature!!! 
-the gym (so I can get strong and skinny! haha). 
-My amazing bed. 
-When my student brings me cups of just plain pebbled ice because he knows I love it. 
-Laughing so hard playing cards with friends the other night that I *literally* almost peed my pants. 
-Sunday naps 
-New downloaded music. 
-Well written books. 
-Crunchy fall leaves. 

What are some of your favorite things? 

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Benefits of the Common Core (!!!).

via Instagram 

Common Core. Some people hear this phrase and instantly freak out.  Before you have a heart attack, I wanted to explain my input from a sixth grade teacher's mindset. I understand that others disagree with this and I appreciate thoughtful responses, but, just as I teach my sixth graders, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Or, in this case, if you cannot state your opinion or thoughts respectfully, than please don't comment. I think some adults need to learn this on social media, don't you think? ;)

The other night, I was reading a post on Facebook (I should know not to do this during the election! Haha) about how Hillary Clinton is for the Common Core so that makes her evil. I am not here to talk politics (although, I so want to, I won't. It just breaks my heart to see that this is where we are as a country with our leaders....), but I don't think people really understand the common core.  Now, I realize that the common core has some flaws. I will be the first one to admit that. However, with that being said, I have seen, over my five years of teaching, some wonderful benefits and positive aspects of it. I have seen positive changes particularly in the enhancement of critical thinking skills in my students, the benefit of students in every grade learning the same thing across the nation, and the opportunity for students' to challenge themselves and grow academically.

First, the common core is beneficial to students because it allows them to work on their critical thinking skills. One of the biggest struggles that I have seen in my classroom is the lack of critical thinking from my students. In our society, we have a tendency to shut down when things aren't given to us immediately. Some people have a sense of entitlement of having things here and now (which I am guilty of). These students are being bombarded with technology. They are overtaken with instant gratification. They want things given to them now and they don't want to figure things out on their own. The other day I had a sixth grader (a 12 year old!!!!) come up to me and say, "Uh, I broke my pencil." I looked at her and simply said, "Okay, I want you to problem solve. Where do we go for a new pencil? What do we do in this situation?" I wanted her to learn to problem solve on her own. I wanted her to learn how to critically think. In the past, we have taught our kids in just plain simple answers (2+2=4).We haven't taught them to THINK. We need to teach our children to think and to process. The common core takes a problem and expects the students to be able to explain it further then just a simple '4'. It asks them, "HOW did you figure that out?" When you are able to explain WHY you are doing something, then you are able to truly master it. Instead of a simple 2 + 2, it gives you real, applicable circumstances in which you would use that. For example, it will say: "You have two apples, you need two many total apples do you need?"  Isn't that more beneficial to the students? Our students are being overtaken with everything being handed to them instantly. They don't want to think about anything. They want the internet to work right away, they want the answer instantly, they want someone else to solve their problems. Aren't we, as adults, guilty of this too? The common core allows those critical thinking skills to still be a part of this "Instant Gratification" world that we live in.

Second, the common core allows students to learn the same thing across the entire country, no matter what grade they are in. I have 9 new students in my class this year (Where I teach is a growing area). NINE. That is such a large number. Because of that large number, I have had to try to figure out what these students know and what they don't know. Because of the common core, I know that they should have learned a specific thing in fifth grade, whatever state they were in. I will give you two examples of this. I have a new student, let's say, from Georgia. He came to me with an understanding of multiplying and adding fractions, which is exactly what he should know. He was ready to learn what was in sixth grade, even though he just moved here. I have another student, let's say he's from Iowa. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but he has come to me not knowing much about adding, multiplying and subtracting fractions in fifth grade. At all. So, I know, his fifth grade teacher didn't help him master this concept. I am not blaming the teacher in this circumstance, but I am showing that these two examples help us see that having the same common core, and having teacher's know the core, helps these students as they progress through the grades, no matter where they are at throughout the country.

Third, the common core allows for a higher level of standards in these students. I have had, this year and in years past, students come to me in sixth grade without knowing their multiplication tables. This makes it difficult for them to master sixth grade math material. The common core material is, actually, very similar to the material in the past. Most of the differences with the new common core its that it challenges the students to THINK about they are doing, as opposed to just solving the problem blank. The common core material is very similar to years past, with an expansion on the WHY,which is what my students need. The common core allows for students to, in a way, "raise the bar." They are expected to be able to know more material and challenge themselves in positive ways academically. Isn't that something that parents want? Don't they want their students to succeed academically?

I have heard parents claim that their child is coming home crying because the work is too hard or too challenging. I get that. But there could be many factors affecting that. It could be the way that the teacher is teaching it. Perhaps the teacher is not understanding what the core is saying, or the teacher is not fully teaching the concept. I think it is important to remember that teachers are human ;). I am not a perfect human and definitely not a perfect teacher. I am guilty of this.  Also, it could, perhaps, simply be the child. That particular child could struggle without the common core being a part of the equation (no pun intended).  It could be the child that would struggle with the topic regardless of the core, it could be the teacher, or it could be lack of skills that your child possesses. It's not JUST the common core.

I think part of the reason why people are so against the common core is because it's new and different, which scares a lot of people. Parents tend to be afraid of 'new' --a new teacher, a new principal, etc. But, as the common core has progressed and teachers are starting to understand the material more, I think that it has shown a higher level of thinking in the children.

Also, I believe that it is important to remember that it could specifically be teachers coming about it could be wrong. The books they are choosing is NOT the common core. There are plenty of scholarly, well written, good texts that the child can read. That is a teacher flaw, not a common core flaw.

Yes, I understand that there are parts about the common core that are not perfect. I'll be the first one to admit that. I have experience with it...I'm TEACHING it. But, I do think that maybe instead of just sitting there and bashing it, it is beneficial to remember that so many of these skills are helping the students' critical thinking skills, level of ability, and overall understanding of the material.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. I have a biased, different opinion being a teacher. These are just some of the things that I have noticed. What are your thoughts on the common core? What parts about it do you love? If you struggle with it, why? Are there certain aspects that you just personally disagree with? I am geniunely interested.

Remember, there are always two sides in an argument. Comment away! But, please, be kind :) 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


via Instagram 

October books were either super amazing or incredibly boring. Yikes. I had a combination of lots of different types of books. Are you ready for this?

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand // Helen Simonson 

Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Rating: 1/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

My thoughts: Uh, I'm not entirely sure where to begin with this. We read this book for book club this month and I stopped after chapter five (and it was difficult for me to get to chapter five!). Yikes. The author was so incredibly descriptive that it was too much description. I kept wanting this book to get better, but, alas, it did not and I had to put it down. That is really saying something, because I really have to not like a book in order for me to just give up on it. But, as I have learned, life is too short to read books that you don't like. Other members of the book club that it was endearing and I could see that. Personally, I found Major incredibly negative and boring. I also found the author's writing to be way too detailed. You know those times in English class when your teacher told you to erase out a million "extra details?" That's what I wanted to do to this novel. Like, I'm pretty sure we don't need a two page description on Major's tea. Ugh. Any who, yes, so boring. I love British culture--I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice; anything old English, but I could not get into this book. My book club mentioned that it did get better in the last 75 pages, but that is entirely too much work for a reader to put in in order to get to the "exciting part." Nope. Blah. 1 star.

Note: I could see this being an adorable movie or mini series on Netflix. I am all about that Old English television. One of those stories that would be good Sunday TV...boring Sunday reading, though. 

Favorite Quote from the book: "You are a wise man, Major, and I will consider your advice with great care—and humility." He finished his tea and rose from the table to go to his room. "But I must ask you, do you really understand what it means to be in love with an unsuitable woman?" 

"My dear boy," said the Major. "Is there really any other kind?"

After You // Jojo Moyes 

Genre: Realistic Fiction 

Rating: 2/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await. 

My thoughts: Let's just start with my two least favorite books of the month. I loved "Me Before You." Even though I didn't necessarily agree with the ending of the movie and the novel, I loved the writing and the story. This was supposed to be a sequel to it, but like many sequels, I was nervous to read it. I had an incredibly hard time finishing this book. I felt as if the author was trying way too hard to make a story out of nothing. The story was raunchy and read like fan fiction, which I do not like enjoy. I did not enjoy Louisa in this novel at all...I felt like although she was trying to deal with the death of Will, it was extreme and uncalled for in many regards. Very disappointed. The story itself was okay, but definitely nowhere near the first novel. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “You never know what will happen when you fall from a great height.”

More Than the Tattooed Mormon// Al Caraway 

Genre: Biography 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: Being baptized and following the Lord has made Al's life harder than it ever was before. She endured criticism from friends and family for becoming a Mormon. She faced harsh judgments from Church members for her appearance. She gave up everything and felt more alone than she ever had in her life. All because she chose God. Now she shares an up-close look at how trusting God has led her to places she never expected. As a blogger, YouTuber, and award-winning public speaker, her message has reached millions. Sharing her love of the Savior, Al goes beyond her own conversion and encourages readers to choose God above anything else. This uplifting book inspires readers to build a true relationship with the Lord that will bring them real, lasting happiness.

My thoughts: Although the writing in this was not incredibly academic or brilliant, Al has a way of saying things that completely speaks to my heart. I am normally incredibly cynical about novels like this because I feel like these types of novels aren't authentic, but I did not feel this way while reading. I truly enjoyed reading about her conversion story and the experiences that she has had throughout her life. Some of the aspects of the LDS gospel that she talked about were things that I definitely needed to hear (or read). Although the writing felt more like a blog post and it was a little sporadic, it didn't seem to matter, in my opinion. She was writing things that were insightful and close to my heart. I was moved by many of the things that she had to say, and if there is anyone who is struggling with their faith in the LDS gospel, this is one book that you need to read. I follow Al all over social media and I loved to hear her experience. This autobiography helped me understand and love her more. 

I encourage everyone to read this, Mormon or not. She has great insights to the hardships (and wonderful aspects!) of being LDS-- and many aspects taught and believed in the church. Some thoughts regarding this novel will be on my blog later, but these are my thoughts on being offended. I can't stop tweeting this book!
Anytime you feel offended by something someone else says or does, ask yourself: "Is this worth giving up my eternal salvation?" YOU CHOOSE to be offended. You choose who you want to follow. Don't let anything get in the way of your relationship with Heavenly Father. As she states, "God is for us, so it doesn't matter who is against us."

Great read and super easy. Read it one night (I couldn't put it down!)

Favorite Quote from the book: "Is this worth giving up my eternal salvation?" YOU CHOOSE to be offended. You choose who you want to follow. Don't let anything get in the way of your relationship with Heavenly Father. As she states, "God is for us, so it doesn't matter who is against us."

Ready Player One// Ernest Cline  

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy 

Rating: 5/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

My thoughts: I don't know where to begin with this book!! I was entranced with it from the very beginning. This book is very well written, captivating, and exciting. I felt like I was a part of the story and wanted to figure out the game myself. The novel was hilarious--the main character is, especially. It was a novel that I was not expecting to love, but I absolutely LOVED it. Great book for all people to read. Although it has some inappropriate material and swearing, a book that seriously most people would love. 

Favorite Quote from the book: “Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.” 

Increase in Learning // David Bednar

Genre: Nonfiction/Self Help/Religious

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary: The overarching purpose of Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness is to provide His spirit children with opportunities to learn,” writes Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. But how can we best learn the things we need to know and do? Elder Bednar emphasizes concepts, patterns, and processes that invite each of us to act and learn fundamental truths for ourselves. Declaring that answers to our questions always are found in the doctrines and principles of the restored gospel, he provides a framework in this book for learning those doctrines and understanding with our hearts.

My thoughts: This book was not one that was a quick read for me. If you know Elder Bednar, the LDS apostle, then you know that he is very doctrine-minded, which, I am not. I loved to read his thoughts on how to learn and process the information in the scriptures. This was a novel that I read over the course of a few months because I could only handle a few pages at a time, due to its intense doctrine and gospel-oriented material. Alas, Bender's thoughts and words were fantastic and incredibly helpful as I continue to grow in my studying and learning when it comes to Gospel topics. Great book.

Favorite Quote from the book: “Each and every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears a personal responsibility to learn and live the truths of the Savior's restored gospel and to receive by proper authority the ordinances of salvation. We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us all of the things we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end (see Doctrine and Covenants 121:29). Rather, our individual responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become what the Master would have us become. . . .

The Homework Myth // Alfie Kohn

Genre: Nonfiction 

Rating: 4/5 stars (see more on GoodReads)

Summary:  In The Homework Myth, nationally known educator and parenting expert Alfie Kohn systematically examines the usual defenses of homework--that it promotes higher achievement, "reinforces" learning, and teaches study skills and responsibility. None of these assumptions, he shows, actually passes the test of research, logic, or experience. So why do we continue to administer this modern cod liver oil--or even demand a larger dose? Kohn's incisive analysis reveals how a mistrust of children, a set of misconceptions about learning, and a misguided focus on competitiveness have all left our kids with less free time and our families with more conflict. Pointing to parents who have fought back--and schools that have proved educational excellence is possible without homework--Kohn shows how we can rethink what happens during and after school in order to rescue our families and our children's love of learning.

My thoughts: There is a lot of controversy regarding homework, especially in the teaching world. I am a teacher who does not believe in bombarding my students with homework. I do think that it is important for them to work on material a few hours later and to spend time going over math, reading and spelling. However, I do not believe that it is imperative for a child to succeed in school because they do their homework. I know that not all teachers agree with this mindset, but I think its important for me to remember WHY I am giving homework and this book helped reiterate that with me. I loved the thoughts of pushing your students while int he class and going over material a few hours later WHILE in the classroom. (example: do math at 9, then do a review at 3 before they go home!). There were few ideas that were a little "liberal" for me, but I loved this idea that he talks about regarding not wasting your students' time. Do not give homework JUST TO GIVE HOMEWORK. But if you are going to give homework, give a small amount and do not overburden the child. 

Favorite Quote from the book: 
“But as I mastered the material, homework ceased to be necessary. A no homework policy is a challenge to me," he adds. "I am forced to create lessons that are so good no further drilling is required when the lessons are completed.” 

What books did you read in the month of October? Have you read any of these? What did you think? I would love your thoughts! 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween < Teaching


I would like to simply leave THIS POST here for you, just for old times sake. 

Oh man, it's going to be a long week ;) 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Little Notes (Fall 2016)

Hi, friends. It's been awhile since I've written one of these letters. I have had a crazy few months. I've been overwhelmed with my sixth grade classroom and it seems to have taken over my life. I'm aware that my life is wonderful, I'm just trying to get a hold of it! Haha.  Because I have so many photos on my phone, I wanted to share with you a glimpse into my life via my phone and Instagram with my little letters. Without further ado, here we go:

Dear Fifth Year of teaching: Where did time go? I began my school year teaching sixth grade and you would think that I have never taught before. I was stressed, overwhelmed and completely exhausted from the 33 students. I missed the gym way too much. I can't get wait to get back into the routine (yes, after 2 months of school) and get strong again.

Dear Elaine Dalton, Thank you for incredibly wonderful and life-changing fireside. Your words were exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for your candidness and goodness. Thank you LDS General Conference for affecting me positively and telling me things that I needed to hear.

Dear Coldplay, you had me crying when you sang "Fix You" and dancing the entire night. Thank you for being the best live concert that I've ever been to.

Dear Swiss Days,
This was one of the first years that I did not want to go back. I love all of the cute shops, but I could not handle the heat. However, it was a fun day with my sister in law and mother!

Dear Utah Fall, are you for real? You are seriously so incredibly gorgeous and I cannot stop taking pictures of you.

Dear Saylor, you are not supposed to lay on Kaydie Jo's hair, silly dog. 

Dear 2 year old Sierra, you are a piece, man. That scowl can move mountains. 

Dear 26 year old Sierra, you were cuter when you were scowling at age 2. 

Dear blogging events, I have been going to quite a few of you . I love meeting new friends and other bloggers at this event. Thank you for the outsource and wonderful world that I get to be apart of.

Dear Me,
Take a deep breath. You get the opportunity to teach wonderful sixth graders, write a great blog with amazing reader, read a ton of books, be in lots of clubs, an enjoy your physical exercise. SMILE. Also, get rid of that cold that is overtaking you. Have no fear though.. IT'S FALL BREAK!!!

All photos via Instagram. 

What little note would you write to yourself? 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

50 Date Night Questions.

The other night T Money and I were on a date and we were trying to ask each other some of the funniest, interesting, intriguing questions to get one another thinking. I thought to myself, "Everyone needs this list!" So, here 50 of the best date night, road trip, walking, late night pillow-talk questions to ask your spouse. 

1. What is your favorite story to tell people at parties to impress them?
2. What are you most insecure about? Why?
3. If we had one boy and one girl right now, what would you name them? 
4. What is one thing that you always wished you mom or dad would do, but they never did?
5. Do you believe in spanking your children?
6. If you were any Disney Prince or Princess, who would you be? Why? 
7. If you could meet one person from the Bible or Book of Mormon, who would you choose?
8. What language would you like to master?
9. Where is one place you would NEVER move? (Realistically...) 
10. What is the funniest thing that I do?
11. What's the dumbest thing that you have ever cried about?
12. What time do you think your children should go to bed?
13. What is my favorite article of clothing to wear?
14. If you were to buy clothes somewhere for me, where would you go?
15. Have you ever pooped your pants?
16. If you were to change one thing about our wedding day, what would you change?
17. Would you like it if we switched jobs?
18. What is your least favorite thing that I watch on tv?
19. What is your favorite tv show or movie that we have watched together? 
20. If you were to describe me in three colors, what colors would you choose?
21. Who, of my friends, is your favorite? 
22. What did your teachers say to you when you were child?
23. What's your favorite social media? (Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat)
24. What is your favorite age to be around for kids? 
25. What is your favorite cereal?
26. If you were to decorate or re-decorate our bedroom, what colors would you use?
27. What is your biggest pet peeve?
28. If money was automatically no object, what is the first thing that you would buy right now?
29. If you could focus on one talent that you do not have, what would it be? 
30. What are you most physically attracted to? 
31. What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon? 
32. If you could have an animal (or another one), what would you be? 
33. What makes you angrier than it should?
34. What is one thing that you wish your parents would have taught you?
35. Do you really like to read? If so, what's your favorite genre to read?
36. What are two things that you do to help you calm down when you're angry or stressed?
37. What is one thing that I wish you would do when I'm anxious, angry, upset. 
38. Where is somewhere you really want to travel?
39. What area in your life do you feel like you constantly need to work on? Why do you think it is such a struggle for you?
40. What is a date that you want to go on together that we haven't done?
41. What is your favorite thing that I do sexually?
42. When is a time that you have felt the furthest from God (or a higher power). 
43. What is one thing that you expect me to do with the kids (besides cooking, dressing them, the basics)? 
44. What superpower do you wish you had?
45. What is your favorite song to listen to in the car? 
46. Tacos or cheeseburgers?
47. If you could choose one snack food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
48. What's your favorite Halloween costume you've ever been? 
49. If you were a character in any sitcom, what sitcom would you choose? 
50. What do you love about me most? 

Whew. We did it! You made it! 

What are some questions you would add? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

In-Laws, Am I Right?

remember how I look more like my in laws than my own family? 

Yes, I am aware that I go to a lot of weddings. And yes, I am aware that I post a lot of pictures. The past few months have been so insane!!! This past week, my brother in law, Jack got married in the Logan temple. It was a fun weekend with the family and so many great memories with family! Some say that in-laws can be difficult, and yes, my Charlesworth fam is not perfect, but I love them (and they love me, even if they won't admit it). I got lucky with the in-law department. Huzzah.


He's super happy. 

Beautiful Logan temple! 

My hot date. 

What a nerd. Preppyyyyy. 

The whole Charlesworth gang. 

T Money and Me with the Bride and Groom. 

Charlesworth cousins! 

The view from the reception! 
Not the best picture of the kids. Haha. 

singing their little hearts out! Haha!