Recent Purchases: Fall 2017

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

You're probably going, you've already bought everything for fall? Yep. I have. See, I'm student teaching so I knew I had to be on top of it this year.

I definitely hit up the Nordstrom Sale; however, I saw enough posts on it, so I didn't want to hit y'all with anymore than necessary.

Overall, I haven't really felt like I need to buy too much (more like get rid of instead).

Anyway, I definitely stuck to things I would "need" for student teaching and for my future teaching career. Sometimes, I can be practical.

Everything but the gingham dress came from Nordstrom during the #NSale. The Gingham dress is KJP's Jamestown Picnic Dress.

What are y'all have your eye on?

with southern grace,

Back to School Necessities

7:00 AM

Hi y'all,
It's now August, which means it is officially Back to School season! Fall and Back to School are my two favorite things season wise, so I'm so glad they're right next to each other.

As I am starting to move into the teaching realm and not so much the student realm, I realize what is actually necessary to buy versus what is not.

I sat down to write this post and really thought about the things I used while I was in school. I know that my mom was always the one to buy everything on the list, in reality we rarely ever needed it all.

high school:
-binders with loose leaf paper in it (this was a necessity at my high school)
-pens and pencils (I always preferred mechanical pencils).
-backpack (in my high school, you carried around everything all the time, no one uses their lockers).
-agenda (there are so many great ones out there!).

-textbooks (buy or rent).
-spiral notebooks
-pens (pencils if taking math)
-tote bag (great for looking professional)
-backpack (great for a rainy day)
-sticky notes
-dry erase board and markers
-sticky notes
-agenda (you probably need a bigger one than you did in high school).
-water bottle
-pocket tissues
-ID case/holder (great for keeping your money, phone, and ID all together).

What are your necessities?
with southern grace,

Teacher Prep: Lesson Planning

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,
As well all know, we're getting closer and closer to the start of school (if it hasn't started already for some of y'all!). This means lesson planning time is here! I prefer to start my school year as prepared as I can be.

I am one of those people that gets really excited about the start of the school year and even though I'm still super anxious/stressed out about it. Let's be clear, I'm not anxious/stressed out that school is starting because it's school, I'm stressed out because I still don't have my student teaching placement!

I had to do a unit plan for a class this past spring. We had to come up with 10 lessons and an assessment. I talk all about it here. We were required to use the "WhereTo" model and Backwards Design by Wiggins and McTighe.

In this model, you start with the Essential Understandings and Essentials Questions (essentially what you want students to know). Here in Virginia, we have the SOLs to go by, thus making this part super easy.

Next you decide the assessment aspect. Basically, how do you know your students understand the Essential Understandings and Questions.

After you decide the assessment part, you write out the actual lesson plan (how you present the information to your students).

Last but not least, write down everything you need for the lesson (this includes things like the white board/smart board, markers, etc).

I really like how this works because it makes it super easy for sub plans!

Mint...the Money Making App

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

I am normally not one to rave about an app, because quite frankly I rarely use an app enough to rave about it.

However, the Mint app is one that I keep coming back to. This app helps you with all your financials. It even gives you tips on how to make more money (for instance, it suggested that I look into some online banks for a savings account because I could be receiving a higher interest rate than at my home bank). I ended up doing this, and I'm glad I did!

I love that it helps you create a budget, and alerts you when you're close to/over it. I tried (and failed) at using a google sheet to budget. I always had to manually go in and change it. Then, if I used a gift card somewhere I felt like I still needed to write that down. But, with the Mint app, it doesn't even know the gift card exists and really focuses on your bank account information.

In fact, I love this app so much that it made it onto my bookmarks bar (which has important social media, one of my banks, school, and medical sign in places).

One of my favorite aspects is you can link every account you have. I have two savings accounts, checking, and multiple credit cards that are all kept on track in one place. This also means that the app takes all this information into my budgets so I don't have to do it. 

Plus, all of this information is right at your finger tips, no more toggling back and forth between all your credit card companies, banks, etc. 

This app lets you know when you made a big deposit, or if you've got low funds (great if you use a debit card). It also lets you know when your bills are due for all your linked accounts. 

The only fault that I can find with it (and it might be my bank's fault) is that it disconnects from my primary bank. This is obviously frustrating, but it also lets me know via email that this happened. 

Do y'all have any apps that you love? Comment below and let me know!

with southern grace,

Making Money Fast

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

I don't know about y'all, but money is always important. I know that money doesn't make you happy and other things like that, but it definitely improves your quality of life. In fact, I had to get a tax return transcript, I was able to see all of them from when I started filing my individual taxes. I was able to see when I only had my job at school, versus a job at school and another job in the summer, and then when I worked started working full time post grad. Now, I will say I have been very fortunate: I am able to pay for school without going into debt thus far. I know not everyone is that lucky.

While having a job is great, it can also be really time consuming depending on where you work. I'm fortunate that I have down time at my job as well as can ask for days off when I need them. During the traditional school year, I was working two jobs. Granted, one did go with my licensure program so I was able to do part of my school requirements on the job.

However, there is one website I absolutely adore. It's called Swagbucks. Essentially, you earn points (Swagbucks) for doing simple things like surfing the web, taking polls and surveys, and even watching videos. I'm able to earn about 2500 points a month, which equals about $25. This isn't too bad when I'm spending maybe 10-15 minutes a day doing it. A nice perk to Swagbucks is that if you hit your "goal" for the day, you get a bonus and then they give you a bonus goal and even more bonus swagbucks (you get the bonuses at the end of the month).

Wait, only $25? Well, if you take more surveys and spend more time you can earn more. But, let's put that $25 in perspective:
-a little more than a tank of gas (I typically hit around $21-$22 for a tank).
-two meals at Panera
-two+ months of Netflix (depending on your subscription)
-19+ songs on iTunes (at $1.29 each)
-a 20 oz. Yeti Rambler ($24.99)

All of a sudden that $25 is looking better isn't it?

You receive your "money" in gift cards (literally to anywhere it seems) or you can get it in a PayPal gift card. It deposits directly into your PayPal account.

There's several other places like Swagbucks, too. I also use opinion outpost (surveys only), just not as frequently.

Make sure to use my referral code if you want to sign up!

with southern grace,

All the Deets: Shopping Local & Small Business

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

I for one have worked both corporate and locally owned retail jobs. I'm a big proponent of small, family run businesses (both my parents are entrepreneurs); however, both my brother and I work/will work for larger companies/the local government (my brother works in IT and I'm finishing up my teaching licensure). 

There are tons of perks to shopping your local community:

1. Money stays in your community. Often times when you shop with a big corporation, the money has to go to other aspects of the company. When you shop local, it has no where else to get!

2. You know the people. You know who you're shopping with. You have probably grown up knowing the person who is assisting you the in the store.

3. Better customer service. Who doesn't want better customer service? We want you to shop with us, so we're willing to work with you.

4. We can get what you want easier. Since the employees have direct contact with the buyer (or can make suggestions to someone who does) over a company that only looks at numbers. The employees can say things like "I've had multiple women come in interested in this type of product by this company". Then, the owner or the buyer can look into getting in stock. Likewise, custom ordering something is often easier. 

5. Improve your community/Make it what you want. Wherever you chose to give your business will succeed more than a business people aren't buying from. Personally, I've stopped shopping at some local businesses because they've upset me so much.

Do y'all shop local? Or do you chose to go to department/corporate stores?

with southern grace,

Book Review: Sarah Dessen's "Once and For All"

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

This book is all about weddings. The main character, Louna, works for her mother: a wedding planner. Louna's outlook on life can be called skeptical at best after a recent event, and the amount of weddings her mother helps to plan (often the second or third wedding) don't help. This book isn't complete without a bet that with all facts figured in, both are going to lose.

If you're familiar with Dessen's other books, it reads very much the same way: some situation has happened in the past, and overtime that situation comes to light and then you understand why the character acts the way they do. Personally, I've been a big fan of her work since high school (and eagerly checked out her books at both the school and public library).

This book (like many others in the market today) tries to talk about a difficult societal issue. Dessen keeps the information to a minimum throughout the majority of the book. I liked this slightly hidden plot element because it allowed for the rest of the plot to really shine through.

Overall, this was definitely a well written book (like all of her novels have been). However, I feel like this one was captivating unlike any of her other novels. This story has a different mix of characters (a mom, a deceased father who never played a role, and a gay father figure). Of course, we have our usual trouble maker. My only real complaint is that I feel like the ending is very obvious.

with southern grace,

A Letter to my Freshman Self

7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

I have seen on overload of new college freshman headed off to their orientations. This, of course, has left me super nostalgic as I think back to mine that was *gasp* 6 years ago. Now, that I'm feeling slightly oldish, here goes nothing:

Dear Lindsey,

It's going to be alright. I know you decided to move 3 hours away from everything you know to an area that you were told never to venture into. However, CNU really is as worth it.

You're going to struggle. But, you'll learn from it. You'll have to ask professors for help (and you'll get much better at it-don't worry). You'll also learn how to kill it in your classes and impress your professors (helpful hint: take all the classes you have to write papers, not take tests). Don't skip the classes, it isn't worth it (good news, all classes take attendance). Be thankful for the strict technology policy. You'll be grateful later when you learned how to take notes by hand instead of on your computer. Also, no cell phone in class equals actual attention on the professor and not on whatever is going on in your life (and that's nice for an hour and 15 minutes).

Parties aren't all what they're cracked up to be, and you'll be thankful for the nights you stayed in, just as you will be for the nights you went out. You don't need a date to have fun, either. Truthfully, you'll have more fun without one.

Your roommate doesn't have to be in your best friend, but she can turn into your best friend. Starting out, roommate situations are often sticky, but don't worry, it'll get better. You'll get the best roommate ever, and somehow you'll keep each other (barely) alive.

On that note, you'll also learn who your true friends are and who is willing to turn their back. That's okay. You'll learn how to stay out of the drama you don't need to be in (and somehow sleep through the biggest drama all year). Keep in mind, your friends will change. Be (very) thankful that housing isn't until February.

You'll learn how to handle going to the doctor by yourself, including a trip to the ER. It's okay, you'll survive, and you somehow will learn to advocate for yourself.

You will learn what is important, and what you can live without. Your priorities will change, and you'll focus in on the more important things (or at least what you consider more important).

It's okay that you stick with your major that you chose coming in. Everyone around you might be changing their minds, but it's okay to stick with it. It's also okay to throw in a second minor on signing day.

Get a job, and treat school like a job. You'll be thankful for the money when you graduate. Volunteer (at more than one place) you'll be thankful for the experiences later. Be thankful for the work ethic that becomes ingrained in you.

Go to the gym. More than once. It's a great stress reliever and time killer. You don't need to watch Netflix all the time.

Don't mind the construction. At the end of your time, you'll be thankful you saw CNU's campus change and grow. You'll really be thankful on graduation day when you can say you were part of the first class to graduate in front of Christopher Newport Hall.

This goes along with spend time in each building. You'll love them all and find a purpose for each of them (even if you remain confused how some your leadership and Communication classes end up being in Forbes).  Also, the walk to the third floor of McMurran is killer. Wear comfortable shoes.

Make friends with your professors. Also, take Connable very seriously when he wants to know your weekend plans/what you did during your weekend. They want you to have a life! Don't be afraid to go see them for no reason.

Be on top of your advising appointments, always. Go prepared and you'll end up getting to know them instead of having to deal with things that you could have looked up on your own.

PLP Speakers aren't that bad. Well, at least not all of them. You'll hear some cool stories, and your views on leadership will definitely change. 

Last, but certainly not least, your four years will go by far too quickly. Enjoy each day as much as you can.
with southern grace,

Teacher Prep: Making a Unit Plan

7:00 AM

Hi Y'all,

Since I'm finishing up school to be a teacher, I figured I would share some of my insights on what I've learned from my program thus far (after all, teachers learn from each other).

I do realize the school year just ended (or is ending for some districts). However, some teachers have to switch grade levels and have to start coming up with lessons and units for their new grade. New teachers also have to do this.

For one of my classes (Elementary Education Methods), I had to learn Backwards Design lesson planning and create a lesson plan. Now, I'd made lesson plans specific to language arts and reading groups before; but I had never done the Backwards Design model before.

For my class we turned in two lesson plans before working on our actual unit plan. Our unit had several requirements (like you had to have a technology lesson, cooperative lesson, and a lesson you found on the internet). Quite frankly, I found most of them on the internet, but I wasn't afraid to switch some things up.

I have the good fortunate to be getting my licensure in the state of Virginia, which means that I have the Standards of Learning (or SOLs) to follow.  Most (if not all) states have something similar.

Since I already knew I had a guideline, I picked out first grade citizenship as my focus for my unit. Citizenship is super important, especially for the younger grades as they're learning about society (gives them background knowledge they might now have) and it also teaches them about being nice to each other.

I took each standard, and put it into Google Sheets (I don't have Microsoft on my computer). I then had a column for each lesson (I had to have 10 lessons). Each time I completed an SOL, I put a check for the lesson plan.
(c) withsoutherngrace

This way, I knew exactly what I needed to accomplish in my lessons. I also thought about how I wanted to assess my students. Something I've noticed is there is way to many papers. I'm glad that students have stuff to take home to their families, but come on, no one needs that many papers. 

Therefore, I thought about ways I could ask questions to the students and do check lists instead. That way, I could write out the responses and be able to watch what they were doing instead of having 15 plus worksheets to grade throughout the unit. 

In Wiggins and McTighe's model of Backwards Design, after you figure out how you're going to assess, you have to figure out what the Big Idea/Understandings and Questions are (these are also known as Essential Understandings and Questions). Luckily, in the state of Virginia, it's essentially the SOLs, just reworded. This allows the students to have something to discuss. 

I then wrote out the lesson plan using the WhereTo format. I also typed out what materials were needed (worksheets, technology, pencils, markets, erasers, etc.). This way, when I pull up the lesson I know exactly what I need and can have it ready to go!

For some of the activities, I found them online (I found ideas on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers). However, some of them I had to tweak to the Virginia SOL specifications. I've even been thinking about putting them on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

How do y'all lesson/unit plan? How do you find your activities? Do you use Teachers Pay Teachers?

with southern grace,


7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Passion. The word that so many people are trying to find. I can't tell you how many times in college I was asked, "what's your passion?" or "what are you passionate about?". I get it now because that is what helps you figure out your potential career. However, what I'm passionate about now is much different than it was two years ago when I was fresh out of college.

When I was in my last semester, I thought about starting my own social media business. Then I realized I would have to do all the things I don't like: work all the time and live in a big city. Now, my hometown is a college town, thus about a quarter of the population isn't here four months out of the year.

Now, I can fully say my passion is in education. Both myself and future generations of children. Knowledge really is power.

After working a job that I lost my passion for, finding it again has been key to my success. I have maintained a 3.9 GPA in my program and have passed all of my tests so far on the first try (still waiting on the last one).

When I was thinking about my passion and how I found it, I also thought to myself you know what didn't prepare me for this? High School. I never took a career aptitude test, ever. The only time I took one was when I was already considering going back to school and I took one on the community college's website. Sure enough, teacher was the first suggestion.

I won't say my passion was easy to find. I did struggle and it took some time (and two bachelor's degrees, but who's counting?). However, I'm grateful for my story and I know that I am more passionate about teaching than anything else and I will continue to be thankful for my journey even when I have my own classroom.

What's your passion?

with southern grace,

Last Day of School Anxieties

7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Well, it came so fast (as it does every year), but tomorrow is the last day of school.

I've had children be "hurt" more than usual this week, seen more tears and fits, and overall general anxiety about the school year ending than I ever thought possible. I've also gotten more "I'm going to miss you" and hugs than I ever though possible. 

I work in two grades (first and second), and one of my first graders was telling me how he wanted to stay in first grade forever. Have his summers but every year go back to first grade every August. I looked at him and told him "that's awful silly". "But if we go to second grade we get Ms. Martin again!" shouted one student.

...except maybe not. I'm leaving behind my TA job to student teach this fall. While the main university in my hometown has already had their student teaching "match day" and know where they'll be (and most have already met with their mentor teacher), I have no idea where I'll be. I don't know what school, what grade, teacher, nothing. I might not even know something until late July. 

It's hard. Come tomorrow at 2:20, I'll be leaving behind a school that has literally raised me. My brother started there when I was around 2 1/2 turning 3. I went to school there. Most of my teachers are still there. It's hard to believe that this place has been around that long, but I'm super glad that it has. It's taught me how to be a good student and a great teacher. 

I haven't quite figured out how to tell them (my students) that I don't know what my plans are for the fall, and it's making it harder to tell them. I also know they're attached. Probably just as attached to me as I am to them at this point.

I'm hoping that I'll be put in a classroom at the school I currently work at. I'm checking my email religiously, hoping that I can find out something (literally anything). 

This was when I realized, I feel the same way my kids do. I have the same anxieties because I don't know what will happen come August. 

While some of my kids are excited for what the summer brings (camp, vacations, unlimited tablet playing time), others want the structure of school. 

I have two math methods classes to finish up this summer and one licensure test left before student teaching. Plus I have some other fun plans in the works. 

with southern grace,

Worth it...or Not?

7:00 AM

Hi y'all,

This is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart recently.

Not everything is worth it, others are worth more than their weight in gold.

I recently told an old friend about some stuff that was going on in my life. Her response was "wow that is a lot" and promptly stopped contacting me. Like, duh. That's why I didn't want to tell you, and quite frankly why I haven't told a lot of people.

But then, I remembered thinking back to how I felt in January and February of 2016. I had already started taking classes for my teaching licensure through the community college and was working full time. And by full time, I mean literally working all the time. I had maybe two days off a week (sometimes that was pushing it) and often worked long stretches (like 7 days without a day off). Also, I wasn't being treated that great at my place of employment. As many of you know I already knew I needed a change, so I took a leap of faith and applied for a job that could have only lasted from start day through the first week/week and a half in June. Luckily, that job continued for me through the next school year (my last day is Friday, and I'm  already super sad about it). I also have another job that has fulfilled my time during the summer and during school breaks (and makes it so I work 40+ hours during the school year most weeks).

I have friends like my college roommate and my best friend who are willing to talk to me about things and lend me a shoulder (or a cute puppy or kitten) when I need it.

I've also been looking at my spending habits. Especially since in August I won't have a paying job for most of the time, since I'm only going to be able to work a few weekends a month (instead I get to pay to work, yay student teaching). Even though, this means that I'm at the end of my teaching licensure path, I know that I will have to make my money stretch further than I'm used to.

Obviously I've done some soul searching recently. It became important to me to look at what I really need (and what I don't).

How do I know if it's worth the leap of faith?

Well, if I think it will benefit me in some way shape or form. I was willing to take the job in education because I thought it would help me really recognize it as a goal (and the experience doesn't hurt either). On the same token, I haven't bought a new computer yet because mine is still functioning and meeting all my needs (minus the fact that Microsoft Office doesn't work on it, but I've managed without it).

If it doesn't hurt anyone, its okay. This includes emotionally. I'm not so much of a go-getter that I will do anything to reach my goals, they have to be pretty reasonable actually. I do try to make it so that everyone (within reason) is taken care of. I would never buy a house that I knew would take me forever to pay off or that I wouldn't be able to live comfortably. I would make sure my family is taken care of. Why would I go on some ravish vacation if it meant something else was neglected?

However, I've also realized it isn't worth it if I'm emotionally drained all the time. I'm an important human, too. I (and everyone else) deserves to be listened to. We all deserve just as much emotional attention as everyone else. Believe me, I've been there. It goes along with if someone is always asking for your advice and then doesn't follow it and complains the entire time. When the situation is over they go "oh I should have listened"...why did you ask for my advice in the first place? Sometimes, that relationship needs to be ended unless there is a conversation about the changes that need to happen. A friendship or relationship or any sort is a two way street, it does take two to tango after all.

Moral of the story, the pros and cons of the situation need to be weighed before the metaphorical cutting of the cord or the jumping blindly into the abyss.

This doesn't mean that it isn't a mistake to cut the cord or jump blindly into the abyss. It also doesn't mean the relationships can't be fixed. Sometimes, it takes some soul searching and you have to be willing to be wrong.

with southern grace,

Working in Retail

8:00 AM

Hi y'all,

Is working in retail worthless?

I'll be the first to say, that sometimes it feels that way. We often get paid too little, and often aren't given the respect we deserve (from both customers and our employers).

It's often easy to find a job in retail (they're one of the most frequently hiring businesses around). However, it is a lot harder to know if you'll keep your job. Often times, I've found that management is not open about your performance. Plus, some people aren't afraid to cut you from the schedule without any explanation (often it is simply because they don't like you).

While there are definitely childish and tasteless tactics being used, you can also have your bff or your next great recommendation as your manager. This has really only happened to me three times, with about 6 different managers, in the three stores I have worked for.

Depending on the type of store you're working for you're voice might not be heard. I found it much harder to work in a chain retail store compared to boutique retail. I will say that often times it depends on the owners in boutique retail in how much they listen. Not that anyone asked my opinion, but if I think it is wise to take advice and suggestions from the people who work on the sales floor every day.

I will say that if you don't have a servant's heart, working in retail will be very difficult. You're goal as a sales associate or a manger is to make sure the customer is pleased. This can sometimes be hard to do. Customers can be hard to get along with and sometimes even impossible to get along with. However, they can also be your best friend. But you definitely have to be okay with getting the customer what they need and sometimes talking to a brick wall.

Each company has a different structure (and if you move between stores, you might even find a different structure between stores). I have always found it hard to understand how a company functions when one store does something one way but others do it a different way.

It is also entirely too easy to spend your entire pay check at your place of work. Retail stores give their employees a discount (most don't disclose it to the public; however, some retailers are very open about it). Some even allow a certain number of employee "gift" purchases. I think setting a budget (which is something I need to work on) is important.

I will say that working in retail bettered my people skills (I'm still awkward, but  I make it work for me). It helped me become better at technology and explore a field I considered going into post college (I currently run the social media for my location of the store I work for). Working in retail helped me create new friendships. One of my friends I reconnected with (we had gone to preschool together and were admitted to the same college), but we really became friends after working together for almost a year in retail. It helped me create new friendships and encourage people to look at CNU and ADPi. It really is shocking how much colleges and greek life come up in conversations (then again, I live in a college town so maybe I shouldn't be so shocked). Working in retail taught me to value my goals and to make sure I am always working towards them. I think it is hard for some people to understand and I know a lot of retailers refuse to talk about goals outside of their store (because obviously their store is the only place you can work). I think it is important for people to understand their goals are valued and that they're supported (but again, no one asked me).

Working in retail taught me that I will definitely stick to my style. I can't say I've really ever branched out from it. Working in retail taught me that it is okay to believe what you do, and not everyone is going to value you at the rate you should be valued (whether monetarily or as a human being). It taught me to stand up for myself and that change can be for the best (I wouldn't almost be a teacher if I hadn't quit my last retail job). I value people more, and I am far more patient when shopping (that doesn't mean I won't get upset if the employees are simply not doing their job). I value my free time, and the nights and weekends I do get to spend at home.

I will never say working retail was a bad thing. It was never demoralizing or horrible (minus a few time periods where management was truly awful). Working in retail gave me many life lessons, and at the end of the day that means I don't have many regrets.

with southern grace,