My Fitness Pal = new obsession

Hello hello!

First things first . . . I have seriously been slacking on the blog front. The last few days have been crazy at work and we were out of town this weekend. It was fun whirlwind but I’m so thankful to relax and catch my breath!

At first, I was really stressed about trying to fit some blogging in. As my About Me will tell you, I’m a recovering perfectionist and I don’t like not being able to do something well. However, I came to terms with the fact that the whole point of this blog is to simplify the chaos that life can become. It’s about choosing joy and not perfection. It’s about striking a balance and living a life well. So if the blog itself has to fall by the wayside because life happens, so be it! Squeezing in a blog post is not worth it if it sucks my last drops of energy or takes time away from relaxing and recharging with my family. So here I am, ready for action!

My Fitness Pal

Over the weekend, I went into Target (harmless enough) and started checking out their clothes (typically not harmless . . . on my wallet). I found the cutest pair of skinny jeans and I eagerly headed to the dressing room to try them on. Five agonizing minutes later, I left the dressing room not so eagerly. Let’s just say, the skinny jeans went on after a lot of effort, but they did not look flattering at all. Six months ago they would’ve fit like a glove. What happened?!

On my wedding day, I was in the best shape of my life. Yes, of course, I was motivated by that dress! But more than that, my lifestyle was also different. It was easy for me to make salads, work out every day after school, and still have a life. Justin was away at school, and I  lived with roommates (translation: 1/3 of the cleaning, dishes, household chores, etc) so I had more free time to make healthy decisions.

Now that I’m married, I don’t have as much free time. I have a 40 minute commute, so I get home later than before. I cook meals (mostly) every night so I’m eating a lot more. With Justin in med school, most of the household chores fall on me and I also have a puppy to take care of. It’s just busier. I have a friend I work out with a few times a week but it’s clearly not enough. I need a change!

This weekend I discovered an app called MyFitnessPal and I’m already obsessed! It is so simple and really helps keep me accountable. I have done food journals before, but they never last longer than a few weeks because I’ll forget to take the journal with me, or I won’t remember everything I ate, or I just don’t think to write it down, blah, blah, blah. I need something simple and effective, or I won’t be able to stick with it. MyFitnessPal is my solution!MyFitnessPal

This app is ridiculously awesome. It has so many food pre-programmed in to log in my daily “diary” but it also has a barcode scanner so if I have the package a food comes in (like my breakfast cereal), it will scan it and all of the nutritional info comes up! I can adjust the serving sizes based on what I actually eat to make it a little more accurate. I love that it is on my phone, so it’s always accessible, and it’s simple. I don’t have the time to stick with crazy diet plans (and frankly, I love food too much for diets!) and I don’t have the patience to add something complex to my schedule. This is a quick and easy and I can still eat my normal food.

Even though I’m not convinced the caloric count is super accurate, this app definitely makes me more aware of what I’m eating and has helped me make some better choices. I can also track my exercise and it “negates” those calories from my daily intake. Simple–just the way I like it! Learn more about it here.

Happy Monday!

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I’ve got some outfits to catch up on!

Thursday:

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Shirt: Express, Skirt: Laundry by Shelli Segal, Grey pumps: Bandolino, Necklace: Lia Sophia

(Casual) Friday:

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Sweater: Anthropologie, Cami: Target, Jeggings: American Eagle, Boots: CL by Laundry, Necklace: Lia Sophia

Today:

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Shirt: Old Navy, Skirt: Target, Tights: Express, Boots: Forever 21, Jewelry: bought in Africa

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Macie’s Blog Debut!

I just realized that while I have talked about my puppy a few times on the blog, I haven’t properly introduced you to her.

Meet Macie!

  

Those pictures are from the first day we got her when she was eight weeks old. I know I know. Cutest puppy you’ve ever seen, right?

**Side note: When we first got Macie, we decided to announce our “new baby” on Facebook with this:

simplifythechaos.com

Everyone has a cute pregnancy announcement; why not have a cute puppy announcement? This was a simple and fun way to tell friends about our new family member!

Macie is now a 5 1/2 month old puppy and she is a constant bundle of energy. She flies around the house and is the biggest source of entertainment to Justin and I. Some of her favorite things include:

CAR RIDES. On any given day, a car ride with Macie will either look like this…

Or (more often than not) this…

For whatever reason, Macie loves to sit on top of my shoulders when we are in the car. She wants to be able to see everything and I guess she thinks that is the best viewpoint!

Macie also loves finding sticks at the park.

We’re still trying to work with her on proportions. 😉

Other hobbies include running, chewing, fetching, tug-of-war-ing (yup, I made that a word) and invading personal space. The last one is a biggie. Case in point:

   

Things Macie does NOT love: getting dressed up by Mommy and…baths.

  

Needless to say, after her first “bath,” we were both more than a little frustrated.

Since coming into our lives, Macie has cemented herself in our hearts—we adore her! She is the most lovable pup ever and I can’t imagine our family without her! I could gush about her all day (and I am known to whip out my cell phone to show anyone who seems even remotely interested at least 10 pictures of her doing cute things) but I think this was sufficient for her first spotlight on the blog. 🙂

  simplifythechaos.com

Happy “Hump” Day!

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Who actually follows the “no white after Labor Day” rule? Not this girl! Today’s outfit was  perhaps a bit “spring-y” but I really don’t care. I need some bright colors when the weather gets dreary!

Cardigan: Old Navy

Flower tank: Old Navy

White tank underneath: Mossimo (Target)

White dress pants: New York & Co.

Shoes: Fergalicious by Fergie

Here’s one for the alliteration lovers

*Nerd alert*

I’m a sucker for some good alliteration. So when I was thinking about what to post today, the idea of a “Teacher Tuesday” popped into my head and just wouldn’t go away. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to posting a teaching activity every Tuesday, but the idea sure sounds good at least for today!

As a special education teacher in a middle school, I do a lot of remediation. It’s so heartbreaking for me to see the gaps that some students have in their foundational knowledge. I’m currently working with a group of sixth graders who have somehow made it to middle school without knowing their times tables. Since sixth graders in Virginia cannot use calculators on the statewide assessments, it’s essential that my students commit the facts to long-term memory; however, many of them have a disability that hinders their ability to do this without a lot of repetition. Because of this, I am taking the last 15 minutes of my co-taught math class everyday to practice, practice, P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E!

While repetition is good, it can also be pretty darn boring to just repeat facts over and over again. Flash cards are great but over and over again, every single day? Snooze.

One way I keep my students interested is to let them practice multiplication facts on their desk. As in, I let them write on their desks. Like, ON their desks.

Multiplication Practice-Write facts on desk with expo marker!-001All you need is an expo marker, a clean desk, some dry erase board cleaner spray, and a paper towel. Before introducing this to your students though, I would TEST a tiny area to make sure it will wipe off. It has worked on every “wooden” desk I’ve tried but if you have a white-top desk, you may want to proceed with extreme caution.

Ways I use this activity include:

1- Giving students a fact family and having them write all facts 0-12 on their  desks (above I had them write all the “3’s”).

2- Clear 12 desks and number them all 1-12. Each desk is a fact family and the student needs to travel the room and write one (or two) fact for each family on that desk.

3- Call out products and have them write the problem that would go along with that product on their desk. For example, I might call out “21” and the student would write ‘7 x 3 = 21’ on his or her desk. It’s also a good way for them to think about products with many factors (i.e. “24” can be ‘2 x 12,’ ‘3 x 8,’ ‘4 x 6’ so challenge students to come up with all three problems on their own). They should write small enough to have space for several problems and then you can check them over or go over them as a class.

4- Roll dice and write a multiplication problem on the desk with the numbers rolled. (More to come on that in next week’s Teacher Tuesday!)

I occasionally have students walk around and check another student’s desk. They love being able to “grade” and give their peers 100% or stars. (I don’t do this until every student is nearing mastery of the particular fact family).

My students LOVE this activity because it is something different. They never get to write on their desks and, in fact, normally get in trouble for it. Getting to “break the rules” and write on their desks is fun and motivates them to practice. I actually had one student who hates completing worksheets tell me how much fun he was having writing his times tables. Did you catch that? Fun. Writing his times tables. I don’t know about you, but I consider that to be a major success!

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Today’s outfit was bright and colorful–it was our first “snow” (more like a dusting) and the weather was pretty dreary so I needed to brighten it up with my wardrobe!

11-12 Outfit 3

Sweater: Target

White button down: Express

Khaki pants: Maurices

Shoes: Kohls

Necklace: Bluetique

Bangle set: Ruche (shopruche.com)

Sore butt, Happy heart

This weekend, Justin and I had visitors! One of Justin’s best friends from childhood, Caitlin, came to visit us and she brought her boyfriend Ryan. Justin and I both feel like we have been traveling a lot lately so it was nice to get to stay put for a weekend and have people come to us!

Caitlin and Ryan are both active, outdoorsy people like Justin and I so we took advantage of a beautiful (albeit chilly) Saturday to go for a bike ride!

We chose a trail that follows a local river. The river was so calm and still that the golden leaves of the trees reflected clearly off the surface. It was such a fun ride!

Justin and I had to borrow bikes from some friends since we don’t have our own.

We started out really positive and excited but by the end, our butts were HURTING. Our friends are about the same size as us but the bikes weren’t quite adjusted right for us and the seats were not padded at all. By the end of our 7+ mile ride, we were both very sore! We still had a ton of fun though.

We took a break at the halfway point of our ride for a photo shoot. There was a cute little bridge there for us to prop up our camera on and take some pics.

Ever had one of these self-timed jumping picture fails? We had several! They were all pretty hilarious to look back through though.Bike 6Success!! What a great weekend with some awesome friends!

Happy Monday!

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We had such a busy weekend that I was exhausted last night. I got to bed early and woke up feeling refreshed! I chose bright, refreshing colors for today’s outfit.

Shirt: Express

Pencil skirt: Express

Shoes: Maurices

Necklace: Premier Designs

Bracelet: Gift from South Africa 

Casual Friday Lovin’

I have a new fall obsession. Trader Joe’s Spiced Cider! Oh. My. Goodness.

Trader Joe's Cider

Normally I am not a warm drink person. I like my drinks to be cold. I don’t drink coffee or tea and when I do have “hot” chocolate, I actually prefer for it to be room temperature. I put tons of ice in all my drinks to make sure they stay cold. I know, I know. I’m weird.

Every fall I look forward to a big glass of apple cider but I always drink it cold. However, the last time I was in Trader Joe’s they had this out for samples and it was served hot. I decided to ignore my freaky-weird cold drink obsession and try it anyways. So thankful I did! It is the perfect blend of delicious spices and one sip warms my whole body! Fabulous! We served it warm at our Halloween party and it was a huge hit. Luckily, I bought enough from TJ’s that we still had a gallon left for Justin and I to enjoy. Perfect warm drink for this chilly evening!

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This week at school seemed extra long but Casual Friday finally came! Am I the only person who looks forward to wearing jeans at work?    There’s something about it that just makes me happy!

    

Shirt: Express

Black skinny jeans: Maurices

Flats: Fergalicious by Fergie

Necklace: Bluetique

Bangle set: shopruche.com

It’s beginning to look a lot like . . .

Today I opened my mailbox and instantly felt my mood lift!!

 My first holiday magazine arrived!

I love all holidays but I have to admit that I have a special place in my heart for Christmas. It’s just so gosh darn jolly! I love the decorations, the lights, the merriment, the food, the festivities . . . I could go on forever! Justin actually told me at the dinner table last night that he is ready to consider putting up decorations! I was shocked. Normally he is not so big on decorating but I think I have rubbed off on him a bit. 🙂 I am still going to wait for decorations but I may start some Christmas music soon!

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I adore maxi dresses and love finding ways to transition them from summer to fall. Today I added boots, a bright scarf, and long sweater to make the look appropriate for cooler weather.

11-07 Bracelets

Maxi dress: Modcloth

Sweater: Express

Scarf: Bought in India

Belt: Bluetique

Bangles: shopruche.com

Operation Stress-Free Christmas Card: Step #2

Last week, I wrote a blog post about my attempt to have a stress-free Christmas card this year. I can officially say that I am getting closer!

I wanted a simple, but cute set-up for our card. Justin and I are fun-loving people so I wanted the picture to reflect that part of our personalities as well.

First, I set the scene. I found an old lace curtain in storage in our basement (we are renting and the crawl space has a ridiculous amount of stuff left over from previous tenants. Sometimes it’s annoying, but in this case, it was very helpful!)

I hung the curtain against a cream colored wall with small push pins. The tacks left very little trace and since the curtain was light, they were strong enough to hold it up. Then I strung two strands of white lights in columns across the lace background. The tacks came in very handy because they also held the light strands up.

Tacks up close

I then put our teeny pre-strung fake Christmas tree (I got it for $7 at a yard sale in college!) by the edge of the lace for a little extra festivity. I put a green comforter on the ground and voila! (Pardon the dim picture . . . these were taken on my camera phone which does not adjust to light well)

Christmas Card Background Lights up close

Our Christmas photo-shoot was set up! It took 15 minutes tops and cost me nothing. I count that as a very successful stress-free step!

The lights in the basement are not super bright, so we kept them on while taking the picture. It kept our faces well illuminated but still showed the lights on the tree and background well. We set up the timer, put our camera on a chair at our eye level, and got into position!

P1040963What do you think? I personally love how it turned out! I bought Macie’s puppy hat here and already had the elf hat and antlers from previous years. I think they added a touch of fun, which was perfect for us!

Not gonna lie, taking a picture with a puppy was far from stress-free. She was not a big fan of her hat and it took about 30 takes to get her to pose. In the end, we had about 3 good ones  to choose from (most were blurry fails) but the rest were pretty funny to see. We ended up having a lot of fun!

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Please mom, are we done now??

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Ahhhhhh I can’t even handle her cuteness sometimes!! She did a good job for a puppy. Proud of my girl!

Step #3 will involve actually putting together a card, but for now, I’m happy with my progress!

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Today’s outfit was simple with a touch of flair in the jewelry. I love pops of color!

11-06 necklace 11-06 Outfit

Drape-neck sweater: Express

Lace cami: Express

Casual khaki pants: Maurices

Brown flats: SO* (they are old…possibly bought at Kohl’s?)

Necklace & earrings: Lia Sophia