Friday, July 26, 2013

Why We Chose a HUGE Head Table

Our head table          Photo: Misty Como at Focused Photography
When Patrick and I were planning our wedding, I was a bit at a loss.  I hadn't attended a lot of weddings, so I didn't have much for a frame of reference about traditional weddings.  The more I researched about wedding tradition, the more the norm just didn't really seem to fit with what we pictured our wedding to be like.  Designing the head table was no exception. 

At every wedding my husband and I had both been to, the head table was up front highlighting the couple as they ate.  That was a little uncomfortable to me.  I mean... seriously? You want to watch me as I eat my dinner?  Nothing exciting is going on there.  Plus I felt it was a little awkward to not let couples sit together.  Since we had a fairly large wedding party and almost everyone had dates, it would have made a lot of people uncomfortable if they were not able to dine with whomever they came to the wedding with. 

Patrick and I opted to have a large, double-sided head table.  When I tried to explain it to the person that was helping us set up tables at our venue he more than made it clear that he thought the idea was a little weird.  We went with it anyway and I am certainly glad we did.  The conversation at the head table was a lot livelier than I had ever seen at the other weddings we attended and everyone was comfortable.  We were eating comfortably surrounded by all of our friends - what more could you ask for? 

The head table seated during the best man speech
The head table seated during the father of the groom speech.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

15 Non-Traditional Choices We LOVED for our Wedding

Since I've been a little overwhelmed with the packing and the loading and the preparing for a new job and getting ready to move and everything else life has brought up in the past few weeks, it's been a while since I've written a post about our wedding.

From some of the pictures I've posted before, Patrick and I opted to go for a rather non-traditional wedding- and we loved it.  Here are a few things that we did that were slightly different from the norm.  If you're planning your own wedding I urge you to incorporate a few into your special day, too.


1. Have your dad AND mom walk you down the aisle.  

I never understood why the dads got all the glory with walking their daughters down the aisle at their weddings.  I mean... what about Mom?  She raised you, too!  I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle, but it just didn't feel right if I didn't have my mom there too.  It was a bit of a tight squeeze to get us all down there, but I'm so glad we did it.

Photo taken by Misty Como at Focused Photography

Photo: Misty Como

 2. Opt for a tea-length dress

Most weddings happen tend to take place in the summer - which generally means sweltering heat.  Since Patrick and I decided to get married outside in an amphitheater, I decided to go with a tea-length dress that wouldn't end up dirty, snagged, or damaged while I was walking over the rocks.  Plus it just wasn't my style to have someone carry my train for me or fluff it once I got to the front.  My dress allowed me to move freely, it was cool in the heat, and it didn't seem too overly "princess-y" or high maintenance.  The bonus was my dress was cheaper than a lot of the longer dresses I tried on, too!

Photo credit: Misty Como Dress: Oleg Cassini for David's Bridal

Photo credit: Misty Como Dress: Oleg Cassini for David's Bridal Personalized hanger: etsy

3. Take your mom AND dad dress shopping 

Both of my parents came with me when I went dress shopping - and I'm glad they did.  Trust me, my dad isn't much of a shopper, but I'm glad he was there to offer a man's point of view.  Plus it was another special moment to share with him.  Again, you don't have to fall into the normalcy of taking your mom with you to get your dress and have your dad walk you down the aisle.  Plus, because I chose not to wear a veil - it went back to the seeming too "fussy" issue for me, my dad picked out the accessory to wear in my hair, which made it all the more meaningful.

Photo credit: Misty Como Hair Accessory: David's Bridal

 4. Wear your hair down 

Since my hair was short, there weren't too many options with what I could do with it, but I didn't want a style that was going to need so much hairspray it would attract bugs or would need to be fixed a million times after hugging everyone.  Trust me - there will be a lot of hugs and your hair will take a beating.  Opt for something that you won't have to worry too much about.  I went with a half-up waterfall braid crown that was done at Blaze Salon in Coralville, Iowa.  All of the bridesmaids had their hair done that morning and they did a great job of taking care of us.

A front/side view of the hairstyle I chose for the wedding.  Hair: Blaze Salon

5. Wear flats 

One reason I chose to wear flats was because my husband and I are close to the same height.  Also, I knew I would be on my feet all day and I didn't really want to trip and fall on my way down the aisle.  I searched forever for the perfect flats to wear with my dress and I finally found them on Etsy at a shop called Becca and Louise.  I was able to pick the color I wanted and the girl through whom I ordered them stitched the daintiest beautiful vintage lace on the heel and toe.  I couldn't have been happier with them.  My feet couldn't have been happier by the end of the night that I had worn flats, too.

Photo: Misty Como Shoes: Becca and Louise
Photo: Misty Como Shoes: Becca and Louise

6. Give your bridesmaids some freedom

I wanted my bridesmaids to be comfortable in what they were wearing - meaning their make-up, their dresses, their hair and their shoes.  After much deliberation and consultation with my bridesmaids about what dresses they wanted to wear, they all actually ended up liking the same one in the same color, with the exception of my maid-of-honor, who wore a different dress.  I LOVE how our pictures turned out when all of the girls wore their hair differently and wore different shoes.

Photo: Misty Como

Photo: Misty Como

7. ... And let your groomsmen be comfy, too!

Patrick and I got married in July... and for those of you that have experience July in Iowa it's hot, and it's not a dry heat either, it's a sweat like a pig because they humidity is 80% kind of hot.  There was no way we were going to make the groomsmen die in tuxes... or in suit jackets for that matter.  We ended up having our guys wear white shirts, black pants, black belts and black converses because, according to my husband, no one wants to wear uncomfortable men's dress shoes.

Photo: Misty Como Shoes: Converse All-Stars

Photo: Misty Como

Photo: Misty Como

8. Let your groom wear a suit

Patrick and I got married the summer after I graduated and this was about the time we were both starting to interview for jobs, so Patrick needed a suit anyway.  We decided to buy that he could wear at the wedding and use later on.  Every guy should have a suit that fits him well, and by the time it was all over, the purchase of the suit cost about as much as it would have to rent a tux.  There are usually deals between David's Bridal and Men's Warehouse, too.

Photo: Misty Como Suit: Men's Warehouse

9. Get your flowers through a flower farm 

One aspect of wedding planning that motivated Patrick and I was price.  Purchasing wedding flowers through a florist is pretty expensive.  We found a beautiful little flower farm near us that had exceptional prices.  Plus the bridesmaids and I were even able to go out and have a "flower shower" before the wedding where we created the centerpieces with the help of the florist/flower farm owner.  I LOVED the idea and the way our flowers turned out.  I was even able to pick out what flowers went in the centerpieces and bouquets!   

Photo: Misty Como Flowers: St. Bridget's Flower Farm
Photo: Misty Como Flowers: St. Bridget's Flower Farm
Photo: Misty Como Flowers: St. Bridget's Flower Farm

 10. Have a wooden box ceremony 

Most weddings seem to have a unity candle or sand ceremony.  This just wasn't quite what Patrick and I wanted.  While planning the wedding, I ran across the idea of a wooden box ceremony.  The general idea is that you write each other letters before the wedding and place them inside the box.  We asked my dad to make our box.  He even included a place to hold a bottle of wine for us to drink on our first anniversary -which we did last Saturday.  We're going to continue the tradition by writing each other a letter every year and purchasing a new bottle of wine to place in the box.  Trust me, you'll appreciate the sentiment when you open it a year later.

A photo of the top of the wooden box my dad built

11. Have a first look moment with your dad

This is a moment that I'm so glad I included before the wedding.  My dad isn't one to show a lot of emotion, and a "first look" moment was a great time to share a little one-on-one time with my dad during the hectic day.  I love the picture our photographer was able to snap, too.  It ended up being one of my favorite wedding pictures and we have it framed in our living room.

Photo: Misty Como

12.  Include some of your favorites

I love cotton candy.  So Patrick and his dad, Joe, came up with the idea of having a cotton candy machine at the wedding.  It was a HUGE hit.  We had people from the wedding next door crashing ours just to get some cotton candy.

Photo: Misty Como

13. Don't make dinner too formal

At our wedding we served pulled pork, baked potatoes, mac and cheese and salad.  It was simple, it was summery, and it was tasty.  People enjoyed it and we ended up only spending about $7 a plate, way cheaper than the $20-$30 for a more expensive meal that people will enjoy just as much.  For catering we went with A Guy and a Grill based out of Muscatine, Iowa and the food was fantastic.

14.  Capture the imperfections 

Some of the pictures that I love the most from the wedding are when things went wrong.  An entire room full of women couldn't find the clasp on the back of my dress, then during the first look Patrick asked "Why didn't you clasp this?" and clasped it without a problem at all.  Capture the awkward comments, laughs, and the bride and bridesmaids stuffing their faces with bagels.  They're the parts of the wedding you'll remember.

Photo: Misty Como
Photo: Misty Como
Photo: Misty Como

15.  Get your outdoorsy man a wooden ring 

Patrick is an environmental scientist and he loves anything and everything outdoors.  He was intent on getting a wooden wedding band.  At first I was pretty skeptical - we sized his finger, sent in the custom order, and when it arrived it fit perfectly and was beautiful.  Plus, they're more sturdy than you think!  A year later Patrick's band still looks brand new.  He gets compliments on it constantly.

Photo:Misty Como     Bride's Ring: Helzberg Jewelers     Groom's Ring: Stout Woodworks

Highly Effective Readers

In new news, I heard back about my job interview and I am now gainfully employed!  I am so excited that everything seems to have fallen into place beautifully with our move back to Iowa.  Starting August 5th I will begin subbing for Language Arts 10 and Composition classes at my new school until the end of the summer session.  Once the fall session begins, I will take over these classes and truly make them mine.  I cannot wait.  Also, I LOVE that I will be teaching in a more alternative school setting.  I can't wait to meet the boys I will be working with.  I am looking forward to having a lot of fun with them. 

Since I have been hanging out for the past week in our apartment with no furniture and since I lack transportation because we sold my car I've been getting a lot done in the teacher preparation department.  I was elated to find out that I would be teaching LA10 and Comp, which means this little pack will come in handy!

This pack was inspired by the article "Teach the Seven Strategies of Highly Effective Readers" on  You can read their article here.  Ever since I took my Approaches to Teaching Reading Class at the University of Iowa before graduation, I have put a LOT more emphasis on teaching the strategies that students need to become better readers.  So - behold - a bundle that will help every teacher do just that. 

This 64 page pack includes:

-1 "7 Habits" poster
-7 individual habit posters with definitions - activating, inferring, monitoring/clarifying, questioning, searching/selecting, summarizing, and visualizing/organizing.
-4 differentiated activating connections graphic organizers for helping students make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections.
-4 differentiated inference activities including: 1 inference match-up activity with cards and discussion organizer, 1 scenario inferencing activity with cards and discussion organizer, 1 setting inferencing activity with cards and discussion organizer, and 1 what's in the bag large-group inference activity
-1 making inferences graphic organizer
-1 page of monitoring "thinkmarks"
-2 differentiated questioning graphic organizers
-1 finding and revising schema graphic organizer for searching and selecting
-2 differentiated summarizing graphic organizers
-1 visualizing and organizing graphic organizer

*All graphic organizers included contain two copies- one with provided examples and one without examples.

I can't wait to see my new classroom and put these posters up on a bulletin board so I can reference them year round  I'm envisioning lit circles with these graphic organizers, too.  What do you think?  What will you use these documents for?  

An extended preview is posted below for your viewing pleasure.  Like what you see?  Pop on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store  to purchase this download for yourself!  

Monday, July 22, 2013

One Year Later

Happy one year anniversary to my amazing husband!
The pod is finally loaded... and there is literally nothing in our apartment.  It looks like the cat, dog, and I are going to be pretty bored for the next 9 days until we start our trip back home.

We were really lucky that my husband's family was able to help us load the pod.  Otherwise it would have taken FOREVER!  Our pod was 8x8x16 and it was packed almost to the brim.  I guess we forgot last year when we moved we had no furniture...  It took a lot of finagling, but I think everything is finally secure.  My body and my brain hurt by the time we were done.

A picture of our pod right after delivery.  The loading and unloading system is pretty ingenious! 
After loading the entire day on Saturday, we finally decided to complete the last two loads on Sunday.  Since the pod is a little inconvenient to place in one of the coveted parking spaces near the apartment, we had to put it at the end of the parking lot, load the vehicles, and drive the boxes down to the pod.  Usually someone would ride on the tailgate of my husband's truck to make sure we wouldn't lose anything on the way.  We loaded the last few items into the truck while it started to sprinkle and we were hoping we wouldn't get more than a few drops.  We were wrong.  About halfway down the parking lot those sprinkles turned into a full fledged monsoon downpour and I was drenched.  Patrick ended up pulling into a covered spot at the end of the parking lot where we waited an hour until the rain finally stopped.  Luckily all of the items in the truck were lawn chairs, patio furniture, and bikes - all items that can get wet without being damaged.

Me after being completely drenched by the rain on the last trip to the pod.
Saturday was also our anniversary so we didn't necessarily celebrate in the traditional sense, but what is better than spending the day with your husband surrounded by family that was there at your wedding?  Plus we're loading everything we own so we can move back home.  I think it sounds like a pretty great way to honor our first year of marriage.  Besides, the day before our wedding last year we loaded everything into a U-Haul so we could leave the day after our wedding to move to Arizona.  Maybe in a few years we'll find ourselves not moving on our anniversary again.

A picture of the cake topper I created for our wedding last year. 
Saturday morning Patrick and I were able to open our wooden box from our wedding.  I referenced our wooden box in my post about my dad.  (You can read about it here.)  As a brief explanation, our wooden box was an idea that I saw online and my dad created for us with some adaptations.  The general idea is that my dad crated this beautiful oak box with space inside for letters and a bottle of wine.  Before our wedding, Patrick and I wrote letters to each other, which we placed in the box during our ceremony (kind of in lieu of a sand ceremony or a unity candle.  My thinking was honestly, what am I going to do with those after the wedding?)  My dad also created a space to put a bottle of wine that we would drink on our first anniversary.  I am so glad we decided to go with the wooden box.  This year we had it placed on a table in our bedroom so I got to see it every day and once Saturday rolled around I was so excited to open our letters.  We opened them right away in the morning before we packed the box.  When Patrick handed me mine he confessed that he had re-written his letter.  Before the wedding, he had been too stressed to write a letter that included everything he wanted to include so he re-wrote the letter three days ago, back-dated it to 07/17/2012, placed it in an envelope and put it in the box.  I did get to see what he had written last year - a list of some of the items he wanted to include in the letter that had been so difficult to write.  It is true, though, in the hustle of everything before the wedding, it's hard to clear your mind enough to think of exactly everything that you want to say.  I wasn't upset that he had re-written the letter, but it was classic Patrick to try to make sure everything was just right before I saw it and a reminder of another reason why I love him so much.  We've decided to write letters to each other and purchase a new bottle of wine every year to continue the wooden box tradition.

A few of the items we kept in our wooden box, including our letters and wine. 

After the day was over, we ordered some Dominos and enjoyed our bottle of wine.  The only dishes we opted to not pack were the plastic two-person set in our picnic basket, complete with two little plastic wine glasses.  We were getting a kick out of "clinking" the glasses together.

"Clinking" our plastic glasses together.
Sunday evening we did have a chance to drive around for a bit and enjoy some of the scenic parts of Tucson again before we leave.  I snapped a through shots as we were driving through Saguaro National Park and we even saw a little wildlife.  

Photo taken in Saguaro National Park

Photo taken in Saguaro National Park 

Can you spot the deer in this picture?  Sorry for the blurriness... I had to zoom in and increase the color intensity to make the deer more visible. 
Now I'm off to clean the apartment to make sure everything is spotless for the next tenants.  You would not believe how many dust bunnies, or clumps of cat fur, there are in your apartment until you move all the furniture.  I'm excited I get to enjoy my beautiful flowers and pumpkin scented candle from my husband.  I created a mixed pack of beer for him last week and he made me promise we wouldn't get each other anything else for our anniversary.  What a stink to go and get me something anyway.  I'm in love with these light lilac daisies though!

Anniversary gifts from the best husband ever.
Have a great day!  

Classy Cards - FREEBIE business card templates for teachers

As a child I thought one of the coolest aspects to being an adult and professional was having your own business cards and the cards I presented during interviews last year were... let's just say boring.  Or utilitarian?  I suppose utilitarian is a better way to put it.  This year I wanted a business card that would stand out a little more.  I'm kind of quirky - it's OK for my business card to show that, right?  At least I think so.  So here is a link to some editable little cards for yourself.   After interviews, why not change the cards up a bit and add your school contact info and hand them out to parents at the beginning of the year?

Here's a sample:

You can pick up your copy of the document here.

Let me know what you think!


Credit Shout-out:

Thank you to The Hazel Owl for the cute apple graphics.  Check out her other adorable graphics on Teachers Pay Teachers! 

Check out The Hazel Owl's Teachers Pay Teachers shop here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Little Classroom Love - Poster FREEBIE

Packing is done!  Happy dance!  Well... pretty much.  There are just a few things left to do requiring assistance from my strong and helpful husband.  But... now that leaves me with not a whole let left to keep me busy now that my car is sold and everything when own is in boxes.  So... that means more freebies for you!  Exciting, right!?! 

Below is a little classroom poster that I created.  How cute would this sucker look with a colorful frame? 

Let me know how you use it in your classroom! 

Grab your free copy here

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Just a few... more... boxes... and another teaching FREEBIE

There are just a few boxes left to back... and this is the second teaching document I've created today.  Can you tell I'm procrastinating?  Plus the apartment is growing less and less exciting the more items I have to throw in boxes.

I guess this just goes to show that when you add Katie waiting for an interview with avoiding more packing and utter boredom because almost all of her possessions are stowed away you get more items on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Lucky you, because this one is a funky little freebie to use while teaching your kiddos how to ask good questions while reading.

I found that working with my second grade kiddos the art of asking good questions needed to be a little more... developed... and thinking back on it, some of my high school students could have benefited from a mini-lesson/reminder, too.  Hey!  It's an important reading strategy!  (Or what I like to tell my students an activity that "good readers do.")

This freebie includes reminders about why readers should ask questions and how to ask good questions as well as an interactive portion where students are asked to ask a question before reading, during reading, and after reading as well as answer their question to show their mastery of the topic.

This activity would be great during literature centers for students in middle to upper elementary grades, middle school students, and appropriate in even some high school courses as well. Don't forget- the vibrant design makes it fun to post in your classroom or display on your overhead projector with an example that students can reference.

Enjoy this freebie!  Don't forget to send me some feedback and tell me how it goes!

There is a preview picture below and a link to my Teachers Pay Teachers page where you can download a copy for yourself!  :)

Getting Organized

While I wait to hear back about the results of my job interview, I can't help but start to want to prepare for the classroom that I may end up getting.  (My fingers are still crossed.)  One item that I wanted to adapt from last year was an organizational binder.  It's just so much easier having all of that information in one place, being able to flip to the correct tap and viola!  The info you need is right there! 

So, with the help of some ADORABLE NinjaWoman graphics, I made this whimsical woodland organizational binder, complete with everything you need to keep yourself organized throughout the year.  Plus, it's suitable for any age and subject!  

This 49 page document includes:

Class information divider
Daily schedule sheet
2 hour delay schedule sheet
Early dismissal schedule sheet
Half Day Schedule sheet
Class roster sheet (made to print multiples)
Seating chart (made to print multiples)
Lesson plan divider
Monthly calendars
Weekly plan outline sheets (made to print multiples)
Student information divider
Student birthdays sheets
Important medical info sheet
IEP at a glance sheet (made to print multiples)
ELL at a glance sheet (made to print multiples)
Parent contact info divider
Student log-in info sheet
Parent contact info divider
Parent contact info sheet
Parent contact log sheet
Common core divider
Standardized testing scores and data divider
Standardized testing scores sheet (made to print multiples)
Reading level sheet
Teacher info divider
Important contact info sheet
Teacher log-in info sheet
Professional development notes divider
Meeting notes sheet (made to print multiples)
Professional evaluation divider 

The best part is you can print only the portions that you need.  Lucky you, blog readers!  You get an extended preview!  If you see what you like, hop on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and pick up your own copy!

Let me know how you like it!

Happy teaching!