An Ode to My Mini {Van}

This is a sponsored post in partnership with  All opinions are my own.

It's true what they say, minivans. are. amazing!! 🙌🙌

We were definitely "those people" who said they would "never, ever" drive a minivan.  Yet here we are, three kids and one Toyota Sienna later and you know what?  I reeeeeeally love my van!

I mean, the sliding doors, the space, the cup holders, the sliding doors, the DVD player, did I mention the sliding doors?  Just the other day, I was at Sonic contemplating how to squeeze my size 8 body out of a size 2 space when I decided to climb over the console and out the sliding doors.  Genius.  And not a scratch or dent on my pretty little Sienna.

Did you know my van can comfortably fit eight passengers?!  It has a "jump seat," as they call it, which is an eighth seat that can be quickly and easily installed/uninstalled between the two middle row seats.  And what I really mean by quickly and easily - even mom can do it; no dad required!  Let me tell you, those eight seats have come in mighty handy when we, alongside our best neighbor friends, are responsibly making plans and there's only one pregnant DD.  Minivan for. the. win.  (By the way, when not in use, the jump seat straps in nicely in the back of the van.  Out of sight = out of mind.)

Also, we are still a three car seat family.  Try as he might, Brantley is just not ready for a booster.  Three car seats?  Difficult to fit in the back of an SUV unless you buy the "skinny kind".  Even the fattest of carseats will fit in my van!

You may have heard about the famed cup holders in a mini van.  The stories are true.  They are abundant beyond belief.  In fact, there are six within arm's reach of just my driver's seat!  I can have my coffee, my water, my Shakeology (who am I kidding, I don't drink that stuff anymore), and my wine (wait...) and there are still cup holders to spare!

Let's not even talk about the glove boxes and console.  Storage for daysssssss.

Let's do talk the DVD player though.  We have a specific no-movie rule unless we are traveling outside of the KC area.  But let me tell you, when we do allow movies, there's only so much I can handle.  Enter: headphones.  Did you know that, with headphones, kids can listen to a movie while we--the adults--jam out to all the gansta rap we want?!  (Kidding obviously.  But I do enjoy my country music while my kids watch Frosty the Snowman for the 197th time.)

And lastly, but certainly not least, the trunk space.  Is trunk the right word given a minivan?  Who knows.  Anyway, I can fit a full-size stroller in the trunk and $150 worth of groceries and still have room.  I don't know too many SUVs that can claim the same.

Long story short.  I love our van.  Craig loves our van.  The kids love our van.  We took it on its first road trip to Florida in July and it served us well.  15 hours there-and-back-well and now it holds those vacation memories that I will cherish for a long, long time.

Perhaps you are in the market for a new car, maybe even a van?  (I promise you won't regret it!)  You may want to start with  It's a great website--for buyers and sellers alike--to start searching for a new car, list or trade a current car, or just research and read reviews of different cars.  Did you know also conducts carseat checks?  Click here to see how!

One final van story.  Most days, I feel like I'm still 25 years old.  Until I get into my van and the reality of being a mom x3 slaps me in the face.  However, apparently I don't look like a stereotypical "van person".  On the first day of class this year, I played two truths and a lie with my students.  One of my statements was that I drive a minivan.  Every single class assumed that was my lie.  Moral of the story: it's possible to be young and hip and drive a minivan! 

The Daily Dime / / September 2017

I haven't had much motivation to blog since returning to school a month ago (it happens every August/September), but today is our fourth installment of The Daily Dime so here I go!

Date: Monday, September 11, 2017
Brantley is 5 years + 2 months.
Holden is 3 years + 4 months.
Rhett is 9 months old.
Craig left mid-day for a work trip to Nashville so I was one my own with all three kids.
All photos were taken with my iPhone 6.

My alarm goes off at 5:30am.  I lay in bed for a snooze or two and then roll out of bed to go get ready.  I wouldn't call myself a morning person, but once I'm up, I'm fine.  My clothes are laid out because I'm still excited about dressing up and on top of my wardrobe game.  Plus, after being pregnant last year, it's like I have all new work apparel that I had forgotten about!  I decide to curl my hair to avoid having to wash it (if you've been around for awhile, you know I hate showering).  Rhett wakes around 6am so I go get him a bottle and give it to him in his crib in his dark room.  At 6:44am, we are both ready for our day (and the only ones awake) so we take a mirror selfie.

The other boys' clocks turn green (and Craig's alarm goes off) at 6:45.  I lay out some clothes for the boys, give everyone kisses, grab my things (coffee, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and purse) and head out for school shortly before 7.  Craig is in charge of drop off for all three boys; I do pick-up.  I have a short drive to work, only about eight minutes away.

On this particular day, I have to be at school for an NHS meeting (I'm a co-sponsor) at 7:20 so I arrive around 7:10.  Normal days start at 7:30.  I do like going to work before the masses; it's mostly peaceful on the roads at 7am and I get to see some great sunrises.  Here's a picture of my school upon arrival.  My classroom is just outside of view, one or two windows to the left.

School starts at 7:50.  This year (and for two second year in a row), I have five blocks of Honors Math 2 (Geometry/Algebra 2) and one block of Math 2 Support (a remedial class where I review, reteach, and help students better understand the material).  It's a pretty sweet schedule, I'm not going to lie!  This was a blue day (block scheduling), so I teach first block and have second block plan.  I use my plan time to grade, make copies, respond to emails, plan upcoming lessons, attend meetings, organize NHS files, etc.  I love teaching, but I really love plan time, mainly because I love thinking about how to adequately teach particular topics.  I always eat a mid-morning snack, lately it's always an apple!

The rest of the day is business as usual.  Third and fourth blocks (with lunch in between), then seminar, which is like an end-of-day study hall.  My contract day ends at 3:30, but I hardly ever leave at that time!  I would rather stay later and get my work done at school than have to take it home.  Plus, I'm a perfectionist and everything has to be just so before I leave.

I did pack up to leave at 3:36 on this day because I had scheduled a Walmart grocery pickup for between 3 and 4.  One of my favorite parts of our new daycare/preschool situation is the proximity to our house/my work, which allows me to swing by the grocery store on my way home.  Still, to save time, I generally order my groceries online and schedule a pickup for the following day.  (Sundays/Mondays are grocery days in our house.)  Also, grocery pickup (and delivery) is the next best thing since sliced bread.  If you're not using it, you should be.  (Click here to save $10 on your first-ever Walmart order.)  

I try to always get the kids by 4:30, but I can leave them until 5 (Rhett) and 5:45 (older boys) if need be.  Once home, the older boys unpack their backpacks.  We all love their new preschool, but holy moly, the amount of papers that come home with them is crazy!  Most end up in the trash...what can I say, I don't like clutter.

The moment I'm home, my work clothes + heels come off and my hair promptly goes in a mom bun. #duh

The boys go outside to play football, while I get dinner ready.  Since Daddy is out of town, dinner consists of corn dogs and leftover mac & cheese for the kids and a leftover Asian skillet meal for me.  (Ain't no cookin' when I'm solo.)  By the way, football is the current sport of choice in our house.  However, it literally changes with the season.  Since football is on t.v., that's what they play!  Give it two months and the basketball goal will be in the middle of our dining room floor.

Dinner for Rhett.  At nine months, he's eating a mixture of pureed baby food and finger foods.  Tonight he ate some diced banana, diced peas, diced watermelon, and puffs (to keep him occupied while I did a few things).  Then, I fed him rice, pureed blueberry/carrot mixture, and meat while the boys ate their dinner of champions.  He's such a happy, fun boy these days!

After dinner, I cleaned up (which took forever, despite the meal of leftovers😩...boys are messy!) and washed/prepped bottles for the following day.  The older boys had gone to play with some neighbors.  It happened to be 9/11 and there was a Royals pregame tribute for the victims of the terrorist attacks.  Taps is what drew me in so I watched while solemnly thinking about that day 16 years prior.  It is still so incredibly sad, yet it absolutely blows my mind that those attacks were so many years ago.  (On a side note, most of the students I currently have in class were not even born then!!  A kid I had last year was born on that exact day.)

Shortly after, it was already 7pm (solo evenings seriously feel like a marathon) so I put Rhett to bed--along with another bottle--and sat down for a few moments.  Around 7:25, I walked to the culdesac behind our house to get our boys.  The sky was gorgeous and I'm a sucker for a pretty sky.  It was a struggle to drag home the boys (they love their neighbor friends), but they were finally in bed at 7:55pm and I had some quiet time to catch up on social media and watch the Royals, my normal nightly things.

Before heading to bed, I got everything ready for the next morning - lunch packed, coffee tumbler ready, Keurig prepped, water bottles filled, boys' breakfast laid out, dog food ready to go, etc. etc. etc.  I don't typically do all of this, but since Craig was out of town, I needed to get up extra early and drop off all three kids en route to work so I over-prepare myself for a smooth morning.  

Once upstairs, I hopped in the shower and made sure to shave my legs (dress/skirt season).  I put my wet hair in a messy ponytail/bun to sleep so that I could just get up and go in the morning.  I didn't take a photo, but I was in bed shortly after 10pm and ready to do it all again the next day!  So there's my day in 10 13 photos.  I can't seem to do it in ten...

Now, tell me about your day and link up below.  Link-up will be open for two weeks so you have plenty of time!  I would especially love to read about other teachers' days!  And fyi, next month's link-up will go live on Wednesday, October 18 so mark your blogging calendars now!

 Kristin // Taz + Belly
Kristy // Seven Graces
Kerry // XO Kerry
Chelsea // Binkies and Baubles
Courtney // Our Alabama Life

Guest Host this Month:
Jacqui German // Drink the Day

Classroom Tour

A couple of years ago, I gave people a little peak into my classroom.  Although much of it has remained the same, I decided this August that it needed some sprucing up.  2017-ifying, if you will.  Until this year, I hadn't done much to my room for about eight years.  Mainly because of #babies and #unmotivated and #otherpriorities.  This year, however, I returned to school with a pep in my step (after mourning the end of summer), ready to make some changes.  I decided that if my classroom was a place that made me happy, then it would make my attitude towards teaching that much better, and if I could win over a few students with a cute classroom, maybe they'd go ahead and give math a fair chance.

Before, my classroom was bright and colorful--and very teachery.  You know, full of motivational posters from the teacher store.  (Even Einstein Asked Questions.  This is a Positive Thinking Area.  Believe in Yourself.)  Although there's nothing wrong with that, I was ready to get rid of those posters (most of them) and replace the neon brights with some trendy decor and calming colors.  A month into the school year, and I love how my room turned out!  So without further ado, here's my fresher and happier classroom!

The view upon entering...

The view from the front of the classroom...

And the view from the back of the classroom...

One update was this pennant banner that spells my last name.  Initially I bought this to hang across the front of my teacher's desk, but I decided to span it across the front of the classroom instead.  Back in the day, I would have hand-made a sign like this.  Three kids later + the beginning of the school year, however, buying > making, especially when the pennants were 50% off at Hobby Lobby.  I also added the framed art above my whiteboard.  The frames were $2.50 each at Ikea.  They are lightweight and do not include glass, which is extra nice so they don't shatter if/when they fall.  The images were part of Target's Dollar Spot (three for $1, three for $3...I can't remember?).

I couldn't resist buying one of these since it was on sale at Hobby Lobby.   The sale price made it $13.50!  I can't wait to come up with google witty and nerdy math things to write!

It's hard to read, but that small black sign says "Math is hard. So if life. Get over it."  I anticipate myself pointing to that a number of times this year.

These magnets have my seminar (study hall-like class) students' names on them.  When my students sign out to go see another teacher, they write their destination next to their name and erase it upon their return.  I printed their names and double-sided taped them to the magnets, but the magnets can actually be written on with dry-erase markers.  Last year, the students would scribble their names all over my whiteboard, but I like organization and order, so this seems to be the perfect solution.

I bought these two cork boards from Target for $10 each and stuck them to my wall with command strips.  They are 2x3 feet and provide for just enough room.  The TODAY chalkboard is from Hobby Lobby and I use a magic eraser to change the date each day.  And see those gold marker baskets on my whiteboard?  They used to be pink and green, but like I said, I was done with the bold colors, so I spray painted them gold.

If you zoom in, you'll see all kinds of math funnies on that bulletin board.  (Stay tuned for more of those!)

The folder that says Silver 1 is where I put handouts for any students who are absent.  I have a clear tray for my blue classes and another for my silver classes (we're on block scheduling) and a folder for each block inside.  The flowers are pens inside a mason jar that I also spray painted.

And then there's my clock.  I showed this last time, and I still love it!  I bought a cheap clock at Walmart, took the cover off, and added the paper with the square roots.  I love it.  Kids hate it.  (But I've learned through the years that they can't tell time on these types of clocks anyway, not just because of the numbers.)

This next group of pictures is of the outside wall of my classroom.  It includes my favorite new feature - the gallery wall!

I purchased a few framed signs from Hobby Lobby, but most of these are just free printables from the Internet.  Some are laminated, some are not, and I stuck them to the wall with cute washi tape.  (The framed art is attached with either nails or command strips.)  I also bought a caddy for cell phones on Amazon.  The students are required to put their cell phones in there before the start of class and they can only retrieve them at the end of class if they show me their completed assignment.  So far, it's working really well!  (My cell phone policy has changed so many times through the last ten years, but I've realized that high school students--even honors level--are addicted to their phones and can't not look at them if they keep them at their desks.)

Lots of lots of printed Instagram pictures, which I printed at Walgreens.  Another spray painted mason jar filled with flower pens for the students to borrow.  And a cute (fake) plant from Ikea.  (I've had that white flower for ages.)

This is not my main whiteboard, but the whiteboard on my outside wall.  I list out our two-week schedule so they students always know what's coming.  Also, that arrow thing is new (Hobby Lobby) and includes three clips that I can attach things to.

Not sure if you can see it, but I have a Scenty wall plug in below that side whiteboard.  I want to start diffusing oils in my classroom (this diffuser would be perfect!), but I haven't gotten to that just yet.

The back corner.  I got this cute paper lamp at Ikea and paper lanterns from Hobby Lobby.

And then there's my desk area, which is in the front corner of my classroom.  I hung my diplomas (both undergrad and grad), got a couple more fake Ikea plants, and moved some things around.  Lots of Tigerhawks to remind me of my college years and lots more photos of my kiddos.

Here's my view from my desk.  I have my desk at an angle so I can see the students while they are working/testing.

This mug actually came from a blog exchange (though I can't remember who sent it).  I usually keep a k-cup or two for those days I need just one more cup of coffee.  (The teacher next door has a Keurig.)

My desk is always very, very tidy.  I can't stand piles of paper everywhere.

Those magnetic photo strips are from The Container Store (a long time ago).  I also spray painted them gold.

Next, is the opposite wall, the wall that faces the hallway.  I haven't changed that bulletin board in years, but I do like my Iowa Hawkeye fabric.  There are a few teacher-style posters, but only my favorites.

Here's my student station.  Pens, a stapler, tape, three-hole punches, the pencil sharpener, pencils, and tissues...basically anything the students may need.

I saw this idea on Pinterest.  Need a pencil? Take a pencil. Share a pencil.  I never used to loan pencils, but they are so cheap so I decided why not!  Teaching is like parenting, you pick your battles.  I'd rather my students do their homework in pen than not do it at all; however, I prefer pencil, so why not give a pencil to someone in need?!

The gallery wall is my favorite part of my classroom, but this window is a close second.  Memes galore!!!  I spent an entire planning period finding, saving, and printing funny teacher/math memes, had them laminated, and taped them here.  I pinned most of them to this Pinterest board for anyone interested!  I was literally laughing out load at most of them!

And finally, my back wall.  These are some really fun student projects.  The students have to draw a picture that includes at least seven circles and write the equations for the seven circles.  The projects are so much fun because I get to see students' creative and artistic sides!

These are really old projects, but I can't bare to take them down!  Students used to have to enlarge the design on a small square and then we'd put the squares together to reveal the picture.

Last thing.  It seems I've changed the arrangement of my desks every to every other year in my ten years of teaching!  I just can't find anything I truly love.  Back to groups this year because I can move around the room more freely.  Which poses a problem on test days.  Desk dividers to the rescue!  I bought these (I don't even know what they are?) from Home Depot and our drafting teacher sliced them so that two fit together like so.  Problem solved.

So there it is!  Where I spend 40+ hours each week, nine months of the school year!

Linking Up With Andrea from Momfessionals for Teacher Tuesday (on a Saturday)