Pencils, Paper, & Books...Oh My!


It was bound to happen. The bloggy has been a little neglected these past 2 weeks as I've been a busy bee attending countless meetings and trainings, meeting my kiddos, and tackling my new mess of a classroom. I swear...moving into 3 classrooms in 3 years is zero percent fun. And, the only pictures I have are from after I'd been working in there for a good week, so I'm afraid they won't even show the half of what I've been through...yikers!

 Add grad school into the mix and you've got one exhausted and stressed teacher. But I am pleased to report that I made it through my first two days of school fairly unscathed and actually pleasantly surprised. Trust me, after everything I'd heard about some of my students, I didn't know what kind of classroom I'd be walking into! And, when my bathroom sign that Kyle made got ruined before the first day of school from a curious student with wet hands, I was having extreme panic! But, so far so good! They seem like a really sweet class with lots of energy! 
Please imagine wet fingers sliding down the page...should've laminated!
The first days of school always leave me with mixed feelings. I LOVE meeting the kids and learning about them. I HATE going over routines, procedures, and rules. It is all kinds of boring. No matter what I do to try to jazz it's the same thing they hear and do every year...and even by 3rd grade they're done with it! And, I talk so much those first couple of days that I always start to lose my voice! If we could just find some way to skip all that mumbo jumbo and still be able to function nicely and do things the way I want them done, I'd be ecstatic. Luckily we play some super fun games to break up the monotony! And, this year, we're doing a class blog to keep our parents in the loop, so we wrote our first post yesterday! Super fun! 

It's also hard because I find myself missing my old class a ton! They'll pop into my head at random times, like during the random earthquake this week which made me think of my student who is obsessed with weather and terrified of earthquakes! And I'm constantly comparing my new class to them...which is hilarious because I remember the same thing happening the year before! But come November there's always this switch that happens and I'm completely in love with my new class and spend the rest of the year dreading them leaving me. The good news is that I've been really lucky to carry over so many of my relationships with former students! And, I secretly feel like a rockstar when I walk through the cafeteria and my oldies scream out my name and come running up to hug me. It will never get old! 

But, what really made my first 2 days special was an email from a parent yesterday thanking me. They had just moved back to our area and her student was new to school and had a pretty miserable first day because of things being different and not making friends. That same student got really upset two times yesterday morning. But, with lots of TLC and some strategic conversations with other students in the class, we sent that student home all smiles yesterday and the momma was so thrilled and expressed her gratitude in the sweetest email that got my weekend off to a wonderful start! Because at the end of the day, I just want my babies to be happy!

So this weekend I am trying to get some sleep, get my life organized, and get ready for the first FULL week of school! I'm hoping that this will be the only weekend I have to go into school to work...but we all know that won't happen! 

Enjoy your weekends and stay out of Hurricane Irene's way! 

So Long Summer...


Eeeeek! Tomorrow is my first day back to work after a wonderful summer that was totally focused on me, myself, and I...which is exactly what I needed after 10 months focusing on 23 nine-year olds! There really is something to be said for having long breaks because my batteries are recharged, and I am ready to face a new school year! But, talking about all that will have to wait until later in the week because first, I need to be selfish for another hot second and take a moment to recap on Summer 2011...for memories sake! And to get into the school spirit, I decided to do my summer recap ABC style...just in case I forgot them while my brain was on vacation!

A is for Adventures in the Kitchen!
Thanks to reading blogs and Pinterest, I found some amazing recipes to try! S'mores bars, Reese's pie...please and thank-you!

B is for Blogging
I FINALLY had time to put a little more effort into my blog and remember why I loved it and had started it in the first place! I was a much more faithful blogger and blog-reader, and found some new ones to enjoy as well! Let's just hope I can keep it up!

C is for Couponing
This was something that I had been meaning to do for a long time and was able to start doing towards the end of July! Thanks to amazing websites, like Southern Savers and Krazy Coupon Lady and some wonderful tips and encouragement from my sweet friend Feixy and my brother's sweet girlfriend NJ, I've  been off to a great start! I LOVE saving money, and I LOVE free stuff even more! It's a win-win!

D is for Date Night
Kyle and I had some amazing Date Nights this summer! We took advantage of the amazing restaurants in the triangle, went to a couple of baseball games, had dinner & a movie in (thank you Redbox & Netflix!), visited the Farmer's Market and more! It was so nice to be able to just enjoy each other and not have to stress about what I was teaching the next day or needing to get a good night's sleep! It was even more amazing to get to have date night more than once a week! Happy sigh :) 

E is for Exercise
As usual, this past school year I totally didn't do enough to focus on my health. Which is why I had the most amazing summer working out at my gym, Empower. I only go there during the summer's because they have this awesome deal called the "Fit Club" where you can get personal training & go to small group classes (4-6 people), as well as have full access to their gym! It reminds me a lot of the Biggest Loser because they don't have a ton of machines. They have things like a lawn-mower that you push or huge balls that you smash. Being there 4 days a week definitely made me a lot stronger and more toned. I am so incredibly sad that summer is over, and my time there has to end, but I at least feel like I am 100% committed to keeping it up! 

F is for Friends
This summer has been wonderful for catching up with friends! 

Early on, I caught the tail end of a beach week with my bff growing up, Kristen (all the way from Michigan!) and my other high school loves, Jan and Ally! 

I got to catch up with another HS bff, Becca, during another beach weekend. We did our typical play date, which always includes girl chat while walking the Loop at Wrightsville & visiting Port City Java! And, of course, we ALWAYS forget to get a picture!

My college bestie, Beebs, came down for a weekend visit, which was SO wonderful considering I'm still not over the fact that we don't see each other EVERY day anymore! We had a great time shopping and visiting all our old stomping grounds, including a dinner with A. Stew at 411 West followed by oreo milkshakes at home...Delish! And, we tried a new German restaurant called, Guglhumpf, that was delicious! 

Typical Beebs...goofing around with the baked goods!

Speaking of A.Stew (some of you may know her better as According to Ash), we took advantage of us both being off for the summer & in grad school together and had some good girl time together! We did some dinners, a lunch at Which Wich, AND volunteering at the Food Shuttle for our grad school project! I even got to meet her host-sister from Mexico, Miriam! Good times, good times!
Ash, Me, Miriam, and Emily after dinner at mi casa!
Yup...we got to ride in the truck while volunteering! This was right before it started POURING!
G is for Grad School
I survived my first (and only!) summer of grad school! Luckily, next summer we don't have any classes before our final fall & spring semesters! I wouldn't say this was how I loved spending my Tuesdays & Thursdays this summer, but it helped that I had a bunch of friends to commiserate with! And, I ended up doing well and was super proud of myself! 

H is for Harry Potter
I, along with the millions of other HP fans, watched and cried during the final installment of the films. Kyle and I wished that we could have gone to the midnight showing (or the 2:30am one like his brother!), but we just couldn't do it with Kyle having to work the next day and me wanting to be alive for my weekend with Beebs! I personally loved it and thought that they did an amazing job. It has been so fun to be apart of the HP craze, and I'm super bummed it's over! Maybe JK Rowling will change her mind about not writing more!? One can only dream!

I is for Ice-Cream
Ice Cream was the treat of choice for me this summer! I FINALLY got to try Maple View ice cream after an unsuccessful attempt a few years back when I was in college and got WAY lost! It was worth the wait! And, I may or may not have taken the girls I sat for last week 3 times...whoops!

J is for Junk...Yay for Purging!
If you've been following, you know that I've been helping my parent's purge after seeing how much stuff my grandparents accumulated after 30 years in their house! I decided that Kyle and I should get started...ya know, just in case we win the lottery and get to move into our dream house soon! Goodbye Junk! 

K is for Kindle
I finally put this puppy to good use! I read lots of books this summer, but my faves were The Help and The Art of Racing in the Rain. The good news is I still have Water for Elephants left on my Kindle! I guess I'll just have to make some time for reading this school year...I wouldn't want to be a hypocrite and all, forcing my kiddos to read & not doing any myself! 

L is for Lulu-Time
Y'all, I married the most amazing hubby in the world. Wanna know why? Because he encouraged me to really take this summer for myself! He didn't ask me to cook more and clean more like he could have since I was home every day. He really wanted me to focus on myself! And it was SO wonderful! I took his advice and never looked back! 

M is for the Mafia...Sopranos Style!
Kyle and I literally just finished the Sopranos series after watching all summer long! We had so much fun sharing this together and spent many a nights with Tony & the gang. I have a weird fascination with the Mafia and loved it, despite the violence and blowing off of heads and such! 

N is for Naughty Words (Cough, cough, Beebs!)
So, I just had to share this because it's one of my favorite summer memories. Let's just say that I forgot to dust off the headboard to our bed before Beebs came to visit. And like a good friend will do, she didn't criticize me for not dusting. Instead, she starts writing naughty words and drawing naughty pictures ALL over the headboard! We died with know, the really good laughter, where your stomach hurts afterwards! The best part was that we made Kyle come up to the room and search for the "change" to the room! It took him a while but he found it! Luckily I remembered to dust it before my parents came the next day! This is just typical Beebs/Lulu shenanigans that had us laughing our way through college! 
I so wish I had taken a picture of this!

O is for Outlets
Yes, I shopped this summer. Shocker!!! 

P is for Pinterest
I blame Ash for my addiction to Pinterest. Luckily, she didn't introduce me to this until the latter part of the summer or else, I may not have done as well in grad school! All I have to say are 2 words. LOVE IT! 

Q is for Quiet
Yup, that's right. No kiddos yelling at each other over markers. No one calling my name 50 times a minute. No screams when a spider was discovered on the floor. Peace and Quiet. Ha-Le-Lu-Jah!!!

R is for Reunion
We had a family reunion back in June for my mom's side of the family! We had it in Wilmington and the 3 families in our little part of the clan piled into our house while the rest of the clans piled into other houses or hotel rooms all over town! The beach was a perfect place to catch up! My only regret is that we didn't take more pictures because I didn't get one with Kat :(  Shame on us!
 You should have seen Addison in bathing suit...presh!!!
Me with Sa...last visit before she left for Peru for the year :(
S is for Sun & Sand
3 weekends in a row at the beach in Wilmington = my kind of summer! And, we're going to squeeze one more in veryyyy soon! 

T is for Trashy T.V.
Guilty as charged. I watched it all, peeps! Thank you Bravo, E, Style, ABC and MTV. Special shout outs to my homegirls from Real Housewives of NYC & NJ, Ashley H from the Bachelorette, Giuliana, all of the Kardashian sisters, & Snooki! 

U is for Unplanned
I love being able to be spontaneous during the summer! And Kyle especially loves it when I love to be spontaneous because he is not a planner! Ahh to be flexible and carefree!

V is for Veggies on the Grill
We LOVE to grill in the summer and definitely had our fair share of kabobs! Yum, yum!

W is for Weird Pick-Up Lines
True story. Last night of grad school called for drinks at Top-O. I'm sipping my Amaretto Sour chattin with the girls, when I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turned around expecting to see one of the gals. But no. It was a guy. And he said, "Hey, uh, I think you dropped your toothpaste"with a weird grin on his face and proceeds to pull out a full size bottle of Crest and hand it to me. Come again? I was so taken aback I didn't even no what to say and just turned around! The best part was that my friend Alex totally wanted to keep it and put it in her bag, despite our warning that it might be roofied! 
Amy shows off Crest in the parking lot! 
X is for X-Tra time with Kyle
I loved those extra moments I got to squeeze in with Kyle that I miss out on during the school-year, like lunch at home when he's making runs over our way or that extra 15 minutes in the morning! I will definitely miss that for the next 10 months! 

Y is for Yogurt
Yes, I know I already mentioned ice-cream. So what! Yogurt was also a big part of my summer, what, with all of the trillions of Yogurt Chains popping up all over! We now have 3 right at our very fingertips...Local Yogurt, Tutti Frutti, and Sweet's a girl to choose!? 

Z is for Zzzzzzzzz's
I slept more than 7 hours and past 5:30 every was awesome! 

So long, Summer! It's been fun!

Who Put the Tissue Box on The Toilet Lid?


So, I had a pretty interesting night's sleep. I'm going to even venture out on a limb here and say that it started out as one of the best night's of sleep in a long time. All was peaceful in dream land until I was forced from my slumber from the annoying alert on my phone at 5:30am reminding me that I needed to put out the donations for the TWO DAYS, thank you very much. So, naturally I'm annoyed and mad at myself for not realizing that my phone was not, in fact, a mind reader, and would not know that just because that's what time I scheduled the calendar event for Tuesday (a workday, where I would, in fact be up at 5:30!) did not mean that 5:30am was a good time to remind me on a gracious! And, to top things off, I had to pee. Anyone who knows me knows that I have to pee. A lot. I begrudgingly get out of bed and make my way to the the contacts in, so I'm blind as a bat. But...I do at least manage to see that the tissue box is on the toilet seat...which is generally never down. Weird. Very weird. So I put the tissue box back in it's place and when I sit down, I realize that the seat is wet! Kyle would probably kill me for saying this, but the first thought that came to my mind was OMG...Kyle totally did the lazy man's pee and didn't put the seat up...what the bleep! And, a tissue box, really? Was I supposed to know that was a warning! I am not a happy camper, but I clean up the mess and go back to bed. I considered letting it go, but I just couldn't, so I woke Kyle up to ask why he couldn't just take the extra second to clean off the seat as opposed to just putting the tissue box on the lid. And he had no clue what I was talking about! So now I'm just completely weirded out by this situation and convinced that Kyle must be a Sleepwalk Pee-er! But at least he was a semi- considerate one because he did leave the tissue box out as a warning! 

Luckily, he later remembered that he had, in fact, been the one to put the tissue box on the lid. But not because he'd peed on the seat as I  originally thought! He had gone to check the tank before bed because it was making a weird sound and squirting out water. Which is what I sat in. Not that tank water is that much better than pee. But I was at least relieved to know that I wouldn't need to be worrying about my late night bathroom trips! Hopefully, this was just a one time fluke! And, you'll be happy to know that I did fall back asleep until 9:30am...happy sigh!

Happy Sunday!

A Must-Read


Reading is one of my great pleasures in life, but it's one that I don't have a ton of time for until Summer! If only they would let the teachers read while the kids did...sigh! I just had to get one more book read before Summer moved on to bigger and better things and left me high and dry to start working again on Tuesday. I know, I know...tough life and all getting to take a 2 month vacation for myself, but I promise it is totally warranted!) I am SO glad I did get to squeeze this one in because it was wonderful, fabulous, and all things good! I know I'm a little late  on this, but if you're like me and hadn't read it yet, stop everything and purchase/borrow/check-out The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein immediately!

It's a beautiful story told from the perspective of a dog, Enzo, as he shares his thoughts/insights about his human family. Enzo is so lovable, and it is wonderfully refreshing to hear a story from his point of view! I won't tell you much more because no one likes a spoiler, but it will tug at your heart strings, even if you're not a dog-owner, like me! And, much to Kyle's excitement, it really made me think seriously about having a dog, especially if it could be a super smart, compassionate companion like Enzo! In fact, I would maybe even consider naming our dog Enzo...that's how much I loved him!

So, I have just a few days of Summer left, which means if there are any other amazing books I've been missing out on like this one, you must tell me now! I could MAYBE squeeze another in!

Happy Reading, Friends!

Summer Lulu


You know on Jersey Shore how they talk about "Single Ronnie"? He's apparently WAY better than "Locked Down Ronnie" aka Ronnie when he's dating Sammi! 

Welp, all Summer, Kyle and I have been talking about "Summer Lulu," which would be me, only 10 times more fun! It's amazing how much more energetic, goofy, and exciting I am during the summer, which I can only credit to the fact that a) I'm not waking up at 5:30 in the morning b) I actually have time to exercise (hello endorphins!) c) I can watch my trashy TV in peace, blog, read, shop, and do whatever the heck else I want, and d) I'm not exhausted by the numerous responsibilities that teaching entails. 
 Do not get me wrong. I heart teaching. I heart my kids, and I genuinely enjoy going to school every day. But, I give so much of myself that there's just not a ton leftover when I get home. Especially on Fridays. It is embarrassing how early I go to bed on some Fridays during the school year. But, Summer Lulu can stay up late! Summer Lulu is up for spontaneous drinks on a Friday night. Summer Lulu can even make it through a 9 o'clock movie. Summer Lulu can play trivia on a weeknight, can go to lunch with girlfriends on a weekday, can actually write more than one blog post a week! Summer Lulu can go away for a weekend and not feel stressed about coming back on a Sunday because of all the prep that needs to be done for school that week.  So, being that Summer is about 1 week away from over for me, I have GOTS to find a way to prolong the existence of Summer Lulu! I want to be footloose and fancy-free AND an amazing, hard-working teacher! Can't a girl have her cake and eat it too? I'll let you know how it goes! For now, enjoy this last leg of summer! I know I will be!

My Ipod Just Got 10 Times Cooler!


I like to say that when Kyle married me, his fashion sense got better. He likes to say when I married him, my taste in music dramatically improved. And, I'd have to agree with him! You can't be married to my husband and not be exposed to three things: music, movies, and the Yankees (well, let's just go ahead and make that all things sports related!).  I actually think it's quite adorable how excited he gets about these things, and I think it's pretty normal to want to learn about the things that people you love are passionate about! And, thank goodness I've been an open book because otherwise, I would have missed out on some of the most amazing bands & singers. Don't get me wrong, I'm never not going to love my pop music-- my Katy Perry, my Ke$sha, my Gaga, etc! But, it's been so amazing to welcome some new, different kind of music onto my Ipod that I definitely think is worth sharing with my bloggy readers (all 21 of you!) in case you, too, needed some musical enlightenment!

My current obsession, courtesy of Kyle, is the band Oh, Land. I cannot get enough of them! I could seriously listen to their songs, "Rainbow," "White Nights," and "Sun of a Gun" on repeat all day long and STILL not be tired of them!  Random connection...totally just heard their song "White Nights" on a Hershey's Bliss commercial! Happy sigh!

I can't imagine not having the band Mumford and Sons in my life, and I actually got to see them in concert back in May (the night before our end-of-the-year parent breakfast, might I add...yes I wore glasses to school the next day, and Kyle cut up fruit for me at 6 in the morning, but I would've done it again in a heartbeat). Just to hear them say, "We love you Raleighhh, Raleighhh we love you" in their cute British accents was enough to complete my life! And...if you're lucky and do get to see them in concert in NC, they may just bring out Joe Kwon from the Avett Brothers to play with them! Unless you've actually been living in a cave, you've probably heard their most famous song, "The Cave," which is beautiful and all things amazing. Actually, all of their songs are amazing, but I especially love "White Blank Page" and "Winter Winds."

What you can't tell is how freaking hott it is, but we were still happy as clams!
Horrible pic, but I promise it's them!

Of course, we could not have a post on great musicians without Florence and the Machine being mentioned. I do have to credit Kyle with discovering this band long before their hit "Dog Days Are Over" was playing in the trailer for Eat, Pray, Love! Which only made it that much more exciting to hear! Her voice is truly mesmerizing, especially when she sings "Cosmic Love." Please go download her songs right now!

Kyle also introduced me to the band,
Beach House, and I heart their songs, like "Norway," "Zebra," and "Walk in the Park." Check it...

And lastly, I was reintroduced to the singer, Robyn, who I remember from ages ago when I was in like middle school with her song "Show Me Love," but her latest album is AMAZING. Love, love love her songs  She is so creative, and is truly genius! "Call Your Girlfriend" and "DanceHall Queen" are my absolute faves!

Some other bands/singers worth noting that you should definitely check out as well would have to be the Flaming Lips, Sufjan Stevens, and Andrew Bird!

Happy Listening!

How to be a Fashionable Yet Thrifty Shopper


I have a confession to make...I'm pretty easy! But not in the sleezy sort of way! You know how they say food is the way to a man's heart. Well shopping is the way to mine! Cue adorable pinterest quote...

Per request from my beautiful cousin Kathleen, who is mommy to my favorite baby in the world, Addison, I am writing a post to share some of my tricks of the trade for finding cute steals while shopping...just in time for tax free weekend... score! I worked at the Loft every summer throughout college and then some, and saw some people get some amazing deals...which I of course immediately bought for myself at my even better employee discount! But the moral of the story is I realized that there is NO reason to pay tons of money to look good on a daily basis. Now, if you've been following, you know that I've been contemplating splurging on a pair of boots, and thus, do feel that there is a time and a place to splurge...just not every time you shop!
No Leighton...we don't have to shop at Gucci to look fabulous!

 Let me preface this by saying that these are things that have worked for me, but I in no way profess to be the world's expert on shopping for deals! If you are, in fact, that person, then let me know so I can learn from you! Also, most of my shopping is done at stores like Loft, Gap, Banana, the Limited, and JCrew, so my tips mostly work at stores like these. I wish I could say the same for stores like Anthropologie...but hey, you win some, you lose some!  Here are 3 simple tips for building a tres chic wardrobe without breaking the bank:

Tip 1-- Don't Pay Full Price for Anything! I repeat Anything! Most stores are constantly running in store or online promotionals! I have even gotten to the point where I won't shop at most stores unless it's 40% off (or more!) because I know the second I buy something at 25 or 30% off, it's just going to be discounted more in the next few days! The best part is that a lot of stores will let you use a coupon or other discount on top of the in-store promotions! Ummm hellooooo good deals! If you're a teacher or a student, this can really work in your favor! I know for a fact that Loft, Banana, and JCrew all offer student/teacher discounts! Recent Example-- this weekend I shopped at Loft. The whole store (including sale) was 40% off! Great! And then, I had the luxury of choosing between my Teacher Discount (15% off) or my coupon (25% off) question there! To get clothes 40% off and then an extra 25% off of that price is just too good to pass up!

Tip 2-- Speaking of coupons...they should be your best friend! Some stores hand them out once you've made a purchase to get you to come back. Others will email them out to you. Places like Tanger Outlets offer certain discounts for AAA members, and I was super stoked to see some coupons from them in the News & Observer on Sunday! I keep my coupons constantly on me, and always try to use them on top of another discount! Yes, it may be annoying to give out your email address or get emails daily, but I promise it's worth it because there are some great deals you can out there with the help of those babies! Coupons are our friends. Say it with me now!

Tip 3-- My next weapon of choice for getting a good deal may not be for everyone because I know everyone's not comfortable with or in a good place to use credit cards, but if you are, then I would recommend opening one at the store you shop at the most (if they offer it), and particularly one that you can use other places.

 For instance, I have the Loft Mastercard and the Gap Visa (Well, in an effort of full disclosure, I have quite a few more...but these are the only ones I really use!). Not only did I save extra percents off my purchases when I opened these accounts, but I have also continued to save tons because of them! It's the best way to get special deals at your favorite stores. And, most of them will reward you in some way when you use store and out! For instance, Kyle and I just purchased our plane tickets for Thanksgiving, and i used my Loft Mastercard. From that one purchase I will get a $20 dollar reward card to Loft that can be used just like a gift card! It's very simple...I use purchases on every day expenses and use a credit card that rewards me in the best way possible for money to my favorite stores! NOW...I will say that you have to be super careful with credit cards. I never charge more than I could afford to pay at that very moment and often will go right home and pay it off online. And, I always pay my credit cards off in full. Credit card debt is no joke, and I don't mess with that! 

Welp, I hope this post has been helpful in some way! Happy Shopping, friends!!!
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