My goal for this school year is to keep life as low stress as possible.  I set some goals for myself, so the trick now is sticking to them.  So far, the first week went well.  I stuck to my morning routine of waking up at 5am so I could drink coffee and eat a little something in the peace of the morning (although I have to admit that this was hard to do on Thursday).  We went away for this long Labor Day weekend, so I made sure not to bring any work home so I could really rest and enjoy our trip to Maine.

I have to say, the trip was so restful and relaxing.  We had rented an apartment in Cape Elizabeth, and while we were there, I found myself thinking about how life could be simpler with less clutter and “stuff.”  I could also be happier with less distraction.  With that in mind, I made some decisions about separating my time and school time.  I removed my school email from my personal devices so I can’t mindlessly check them, which at times has been a cause for stress.  Realistically, I have a school issued chromebook that comes back and forth with me, so I should be able to do all my school related communication on that if I need to – this will just force  me to be more thoughtful about when and how I engage in school communication during my time.

Back to school 2017

As August comes to an end, I am in my last week of summer vacation and thinking about going back to school.  As always, summer is, for me, a time of rest and reflection, in part about my experience as a teacher.  The last school year felt overall very stressful for me.  I’m not sure exactly why.  Was it because I was doing too much?  Was it because of things happening in the world around me?  Was I not making enough time for myself?  Maybe it was some combination of all these things.

Every year, I make new school year resolutions, with varying degrees of success.  This year, of course, will be no different, except that I am hoping this is one of those years where I succeed in the things I tell myself I will do.

Here are my plans to ensure a less stressful and happier school year:

  • No committees.  I even made sure I will follow through on this by sending emails indicating that I cannot fulfill these time commitments.
  • Stick to as most 2 after school days per week.
  • Go home on time on the other days.
  • Take at least one hour per week to work on something creative – whether this be writing, drawing, or crafting.  And of course, more than one hour is even better!
  • Read a little at night before bed.
  • Be ok with doing some school work at home if it means I have more time in my house.
  • Keep the weekends as fun time.

We’ll see how successful I am!  I think it will help to remember that I am a better teacher and human when I take care of myself.

What would “Jack Rudy” do?

I have always been a gin and tonic fan.  Early in my adult life, it was the drink I used to order when I would go out – it made me feel sophisticated and worldly.  It felt classier than a beer and not as lame as a cosmo.  “Bombay Sapphire please, and yes, I do want the lime.”

As I have gotten older, I have gotten more into trying different kinds of beers, which has been a lot of fun, partly because of the taste, and partly because it’s a fun thing to share with Ed.  Plus, there is so much delicious craft beer available now.

Also, as I’ve gotten more into healthy eating, I find that most commercial tonic waters taste too sticky-sweet to me, what with all that high fructose corn syrup.  It just ruins the whole experience for me.

I’ve developed this habit of listening to podcasts in the car lately, as a change from my normal NPR, and one of the ones I enjoy is Alton Brown’s, titled the “Alton Browncast.”  This weekend, I was so excited to listen to the latest episode, in which Alton interviewed Brooks Reitz, who created Jack Rudy’s tonic.  Reitz talked about how he worked in a restaurant and created a tonic based on the more traditional recipe, one that would not ruin the taste of good gin.  As I listened, I could almost taste what would surely be the best gin and tonic ever.

I had to try it.



We were able to track it down at the Crate and Barrel in Hingham.  Then we hurried home, so I could pair this tonic with Death’s Door gin, a recent find from Washington state.

I have to say, it did not disappoint.

I opted for no lime and three ice cubes, and it was delicious.  It was the first time in a long time that I have not been disappointed by a gin and tonic.

I think I’m going to need more gin!

Happy New Year!


I love the beginning of a new year! It’s a time that encourages me to try to new things and  focus on what’s important to me. Plus, it offers some rest and quiet after a busy holiday season.

Rather than making resolutions that I MUST start on January 1st, I like to take the first few days to think about my goals and what I feel is realistic for me.

Here’s what I have come up with:

1 – read 1 book per week – this is pretty important to me, I just feel like I don’t read enough.  Plus, I have this bad habit of buying books that I am interested in, then letting them sit on the shelf.  I am looking forward to actually reading some of these.  My first book for the year the The Jungle Effect by Daphne Miller.

2- exercise 4 – 5 times per week – I would like to be in better shape, and I feel like this is a realistic amount of exercise for me.  I have my exercise schedule for this week made up – I am particularly excited to try something new, a Body Pump class at my gym.

3 – drink 1 cup of green tea per day – because I know green tea is good for me, but I just don’t drink it enough.

So those are my goals!  I am excited to see how it goes!

Pumpkin season!

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the weather – so crisp and cool.  With the great weather and the changing colors of the leaves, it is the perfect weather for long walks or runs or driving, or pretty much anything, in my opinion.

I also love fall flavors – apple pie and, of course, pumpkin.  Oh, my obsession with pumpkin!  Even as a kid, the thing I looked forward to most at Thanksgiving has always been pumpkin pie.

I love that people have jumped on the pumpkin bandwagon – you can pretty much find pumpkin in anything.  My Friday afternoon treat the last few weeks has been the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.


I have been putting pumpkin in my morning smoothies, and I have big plans to make some pumpkin muffins this weekend.

But my favorite is pumpkin beer. I started the pumpkin season with a Shipyard Pumpkinhead – with the cinnamon sugar rim, of course!


Not one to limit myself, I enjoy trying all kinds of pumpkin beers.  We recently tried the Cambridge Brewing Co.’s Great Pumpkin Ale.


It was good, more pumpkin than pumpkin spice.  And it’s local!

But one of my favorites lately has to be Jacko by Traveler.


Traveler makes these great shandies that I enjoyed during the summer, and Jack is just as good.  So yummy and sweet, and with that great pumpkin spice flavor.  It has been a little difficult to find, so we made sure to buy a case!  So I think I am ready for fall!

Komen run

Since school started, I haven’t been able to run as much as I would like, especially during the week – I just feel so tired at the end of a day at school!

I have at least been running on the weekends, and I was able to do three 5k’s this month, with the last one being Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5k in Boston, last Sunday.

Here I am after the finish!


It was a really good morning.  The race started at 8am, which was very early, but it was nice and cool, and there was a great turnout.  I also ran my fastest 5k to date, 36:47, which I know is slow for some people but is pretty good for me.  It’s fun to see myself improving now that I am really paying more attention to my running.

Ed ran his fastest 5k too!


It must have been something about the positive energy, with all those people running with a loved one in mind, or just to support a great cause.

So all in all, a great day!  Plus we raised money for a great cause.  Definitely one of those perfect Sunday mornings!

Being reflective

The first month of school has flown by, and the year is off to a good start.  I am loving my classes.  It’s exciting this year because I am teaching some new courses (Statistics & Economics) and teaching a course online.

There has been some stress too – this is our first year with the new evaluation system for teachers, and it is definitely overwhelming.  I am sure it will be easier once we are all used to it, but for now, it’s a huge change, there are so many forms, and there are so many questions.  I guess every new process has its hiccups.

While the beginning of the school year has been a lot of work, I always want to make time to learn more about things I am interested in outside of school.  Recently, my husband and I have been taking a class that our town’s police department offers, the Citizens Police Academy.  It has been very interesting, learning more about our town.

Last night was the taser demonstration.  I couldn’t believe how loud the “bang” was!  But even more surprising was the fact that the two guys who volunteered to get “tased” were fine five minutes later – who knew the effects could wear off so quickly!

The officers who put on this class are really great, and they have all kinds of stories.  What most interested me, as a teacher, was that more than one officer talked about reflecting on incidents they were involved in and thinking about ways they could have handled the situation better.

I can see how being reflective is important for them in their jobs.  Although police officers have a much harder job than I do, our jobs have that in common.  I generally think this is a strength for me, that I often think about how I taught a particular lesson or handled a certain situation, and I think about what I did well and what I could have done better.

It’s probably true of many jobs, and true in life, that if we all could reflect on our actions more often, we would become better at what we do.  Reflecting on our actions is something we probably could all stand to do more often.


Goodbye summer!

As August comes to an end, I am getting ready to say good-bye to summer.  I think most people wait to bid summer farewell until after Labor Day, but for me, saying hello to the beginning of the school year also means saying good-bye to summer.

I love teaching, and I am looking forward to new students and teaching some new courses.  In terms of school, I have some exciting things to look forward to.  I am teaching AP Statistics for the first time.  I am teaching my first online class, AP Economics – my first online teaching experience and my first time teaching this topic.  I am also mentoring a new teacher for the first time.  In my seventh year of teaching, it is a year of many firsts.

Every year, on the first day of school, we have a welcome back breakfast.  Teachers meet and mingle and re-acquaint themselves with each other.  Every year, someone will say that this is one of the special things about our profession, that we have this yearly opportunity for a fresh start.  New students, new pencils, and shiny clean floors remind us of this new beginning.

I am looking forward to school, but I will miss summer.  So I wanted to take a moment to say good-bye to some of the things I love about vacation:

Good bye to waking up whenever I choose.  Good bye to morning runs, morning yoga classes, and morning Zumba classes.  Good bye to afternoon conversations with my husband during breaks from his home office.  Good bye to lunch time walks with the dogs.  Good bye to 2:00 appointments with the residents of Port Charles.

Ok, I’ve said my good-byes – I think I am ready to start!

Reflections on why I teach

Last week, during school vacation, I had the opportunity to go back to my old college and speak with students about careers in teaching.  I went to a business school, so my path to teaching was non-traditional – this would probably be the case with these students as well.  Leading up to the day, I was very excited about visiting, and it was fun to be back, to remember how pretty the campus is, and how much I enjoyed my experience there.

The students I spoke to had a lot of questions, but one I found myself thinking about on my way home was about the pay difference between my previous career and this one.  Prior to teaching, I was a mortgage underwriter.  With six years of teaching experience, I now make as much as I did when I left my previous job – in other words, it took me this long to do it.  When I told the students the number, many of the students made some very interesting faces.  In truth, many of them could make what I do now right out of college if they decided to do something else, and they know it.

I thought about their reactions, but the truth is, for me, it doesn’t matter that much to me.  Doesn’t it reflect on us as teachers that most of us do what we do, and not for the money?

Because really, there were two questions that stuck with me.  One was about the pay – the other was: would I ever want to go back to my previous career?  My answer: absolutely not.

Because I love my job.  I love that my job has a purpose that it meaningful to me.  I really enjoy my students.  And I really appreciate how my job challenges me in different ways every day.

I know there are certain kinds of people who find money a huge motivator in their careers.  And although it is odd, considering I did  go to a business school, I just am not that way.  Do I ever wish I made more money?  Sure – but not enough to leave a career that really matters to me.

Even with all the difficulties we face in our careers, I am sure most teachers would agree.

How could Zumba make me a better teacher?

In an effort to take better care of ourselves, my husband and I recently joined a gym.  It’s a pretty standard gym, and they have some classes.  Originally I didn’t think I would take any of them, I figured I would just use the treadmill and weight machines, but then a few weeks ago I thought I would give the Zumba class a try.

Let me point out – I am not coordinated.  I can’t even clap along with the beat at a concert without watching other people.  And I definitely can’t dance.  It’s a little sad, actually.

I guess I avoid dancing like some kids avoid homework.

But I do tell my students that it’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time, and to try new things, and to not be afraid to fail.  So I figured I would try it.

The first time I went, I was not great.  But the instructor did say, “There’s no wrong moves, as long as you’re moving” – so I took her at her word.  Partway through the class, I wondered if I was feeling what my kids sometimes feel, like I was not quite getting it.  But I looked around, and I certainly wasn’t the only one messing up, so I kept going.

And  I went back.  And  I will continue to go back.  Each time I go, I feel like it does get easier.  I am still not great, but I get better, and I am having more fun.

I think it helps me relate to my students better.  Most dance-type situations do not come easily to me – I get self-conscious, I make mistakes.  I am sure some of my students feel like this sometimes, and I have been trying to remember this feeling when I have students that are stuck or frustrated or want to quit on a problem.  I hope this increased empathy on my part helps me be better able to help them, and helps me remember to keep telling them that it’s ok to try and it’s ok to make a mistake – just keep trying!