Goals: Fall 2016 Edition

Goals. noun. The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.


It’s high time for the next round of seasonal goals! My summer goals were helpful in getting me off the couch and trying new things (see the updates below) – hopefully these fall goals will do the same!

Fun fact: I had one of my classes make 4 simple goals they could accomplish in 2 weeks and blog about it on our classroom site. One girl made a goal to go pumpkin picking. On the night of the due date at 8:00, she realized she hadn’t gone yet and dragged her entire family to a pumpkin patch. Hopefully my own goals inspire the same sort of devotion.

Go for a drive to admire the leaves – Fall is just depressing without this element, and there are places within easy driving distance where the leaves are gorgeous.

Run outside at least once/week (until it gets too cold) – My workout routine has fallen to pieces since school started. This will get me back on track AND outside before the snow flurries begin.

Go apple picking…

…then make caramel apples or caramel apple cake – Because yum.

Go to a farmer’s market – Specifically to buy a pumpkin. And maybe fall flowers. Plus veggies. So basically all the things.

Go to a football game – In my hometown, the entire town showed up at the football field on Friday nights. It’s not quite the same when you’re not in high school, but catching one game a season is still fun.

Read outside – I have a patio. I sit inside all day. I have no excuse not to do this.

Finish one embroidered quote – There’s a spot on my wall that’s been bare and waiting since I moved this summer. It’s time.

Watch a documentary – Learning new things sparks interesting conversation and stretches my brain outside of its usual 7th grade English confines.

Get into a (very loose) blogging schedule – Each month, I aim to post one post about teaching, one What I’m Into post, and one random post about whatever else is on my mind. This sounds boring! and easy! until I look at how much unscheduled time I actually have.


Summer goals – The Official Updated List!

Go to Weisman Art Museum – My sister and I stole an hour here. Modern art is often hit or miss with me, but there were a few pieces I found interesting.

Attend an outdoor yoga class – I definitely took advantage of all the free outdoor fitness classes in my area, and by the end of the summer I could see my abilities progress.

Watch Finding Dory in theaters – It was charming!

Go camping – My sister and my plans in June were thwarted by severe thunderstorms, but I made it to Lake Pepin later in August. It’s such a beautiful part of the state! The effort of camping – the packing up your entire life to sleep on the ground without electricity – is slightly overrated, but it was a fun adventure.

Attempt to slalom – I gave it a valiant attempt at the beginning of the summer, but alas. I’ll do some more balance work and put it back on the list next summer.

Go to concert or movie in a park – My sister and I went to Much Ado About Nothing, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, on the perfect summer evening. It was absolutely delightful.

Read a collection of poems – I picked up Wendell Berry’s This Day: Collected Sabbath Poems, but I only read a few of them before the summer ended. I’m attempting to read one while I eat breakfast, so this is a work in progress.

Eat at Betty Danger’s – We tried to get reservations here twice, to no avail. I got to check out The Copper Hen and Aster Café instead, which are excellent consolation prizes.

Find a new summer TV show – Fixer Upper won the day!

Watch a documentary – Didn’t even attempt. I did listen to a lot of podcasts?

Read Orthodoxy, The Tale of Two Cities, Cinder, and Night Driving – I joined a reading group to work through Orthodoxy, which challenged me to grow in both personal and intellectual ways. The Tale of Two Cities is now one of my favorite books, and I have been able to connect with multiple students over our shared enjoyment of Cinder. Night Driving is still on the list.

Go kayaking or paddleboarding with the ladies from my small group – prevented by a last-minute hiccup. Next summer!


What are your goals for this season?



Hibernate. According to Dictionary.com. “To spend the winter in close quarters in a dormant condition; to winter in a place with a milder climate.” Or wishing to be in a milder climate.

Baby, it’s cold outside.

No, for real.

Well, at this second it’s not so bad. But last week, it was legitimately as cold as Antarctica. And Mars. It was disgusting. I’m trying to forget it ever happened. However, because I am a Minnesotan, I know it will probably happen again.


Image via sewlikeinparis.com

And when it does happen, I personally don’t want my Facebook feed to look like a whiny version of Accuweather, nor do I want to inflict my woes on the people around me. They, too, cannot leave the house without freezing their butts off, and you can only say “I’m so dang cold,” so many times before there is no more frozen-butt solidarity to be gained.

So here’s the plan: I underwent a major Project Distraction throughout break. I plan to continue it until I thaw out sometime in the spring. Want to join me? Here are the activities that I have found make hibernating a smidge more tolerable. Granted, these are tailored for a homework-less Christmas break in small-town Minnesota, but the general principle applies anywhere.

Make stuff. Like a scarf, or a canvas slathered in acrylic paint, or cookie dough. Especially cookie dough (you need an extra layer of fluff to keep you warm, remember?)

DSC_2451My first knitting creation ever. Focus on the scarf, not the subpar picture of me.


Acrylic on canvas, created by me

I would post a picture of cookie dough, but none of it survived long enough to be photographed. Use your imagination.

Read books. Though please, skip the only okay ones and use winter to treat yourself to the hold-your-breath and stay-up-until-2am books. If you’re on break and slightly nocturnal like me, you’ll be up until then anyways.


Image via Goodreads

My favorite break read. Definitely worth staying up until 2 am.

Memorize the song “Let It Go,” from Frozen. Randomly belt it out and feel no shame. While you’re at it, contemplate how in the heck the girls from Frozen survive without wearing gloves. (The easy answer: they’re animated. But really. This is a movie about winter. I would appreciate a speck of realism.)

Watch lots and lots of What Not to Wear and marvel at how many atrocious outfits there are in this world. For the overachievers, do your own What Not to Wear on your mom’s closet, tossing the sweaters with saggy armpit syndrome and creating outfits with actual accessories.

Wear some really atrocious outfits yourself (because you are never leaving the house and do not need to cultivate a professional vibe or even look attractive). This look can include such as flannel pajama pants that drift above your ankles and charmingly showcase inches of fuzzy socks. This look fits best if you have extra-long legs, and is most suited for environments with really chilly wood floors.


Do a workout video. It will make you nice and warm (and sweaty). YouTube has free ones, so you don’t even have to venture outside to buy one. (And don’t even think about running outside, even if you do miss it.) If you’re brave, try one from Blogilates, my winter workout go-to. Warning: the workout lady is chipper and talks incessantly even when she should be wracked with pain because she’s made you do a ridiculous number of wacko Pilates moves. However, as my sister says, “At least she’s nicer than Jillian Michaels.”

Sit in the snow and read a book. Just kidding! Only crazy people (ahem, like my family) do that.


Pray really, really hard for spring to come soon. This is my favorite option of all.


December. Derived from the Latin word for ten, December is the twelfth and final month of the year. It is also often considered the first month of winter.


Image via Pinterest

I’m linking up with Emily Freeman and sharing What I Learned in December. Keep in mind, I spent December preparing for finals. And procrastinating for preparing for finals. Evaluate this list accordingly.

1. I am weirdly fascinated by Internet personality quizzes. Without them I would not know interesting tidbits such as my Disney villain alter ego is Maleficent, who’s power hungry and hates being left out. You should be terrified of me. Also, of all of the Friends characters, I am most like Monica. Translated for the Friends uninitiated, this means, “You’re a little uptight, but you’re a great cook, a great host, and a great friend.”

2. Blasting One Direction is fabulous motivation to finish studying for one last final. I know. I succumb to catchy pop beats and boys with ridiculous hair. It’s official. I have no taste.


So. Much. Hair.
Image via Google Images

3. Speaking of hair, girls’ hair is gross. To the lovely women who live in my hall: I like you a whole lot, but it took half an hour to cut all of your hair off the bottom of the vacuum. That’s sick. There’s one downside of being an RA that I never anticipated.

4. Knitting is a fabulous hobby. As a preteen, I made one very lopsided dishcloth and have neglected the needles since then. Man, have I been missing out.


Yes, this is our family’s Christmas picture, and yes, I was actually knitting.

5. Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games, uses the adjectives drunk, last-ditch, and lethal more than most authors. (If you’ve read the books, this should not be that surprising.) This information comes from this article, which looks at the variation between words and sentence structures in The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter. If you’ve read the books and actually like English, it’s fascinating.  If you think word choice and sentence structure are snooze-worthy, I’ll share one more fascinating point with you: It’s scientifically proven that Twilight is emotional drivel.

6. Netflix is both a wonderful and very dangerous thing. One episode of a show ends, and you have a whole 14 seconds to decide if you will be a productive person or waste your life watching a screen. I am a slow processor! It takes me longer than 14 seconds to make good decisions! Since my discovery of Pinterest, procrastination has never been so easy. It may be a good thing my free trial runs out soon.

7. The creators of Frozen, the cute new Disney animated movie, really nailed the older sister/younger sister dynamics between Elsa and Anna. My younger sister is a melodramatic sweetheart who does not excel at long-term planning, just like Anna in the movie. Of the two of us, I am more likely to be icy and isolated. Though I don’t have any magic powers that I know of.


The famous Frozen sisters.
Image via Google Images


The not-quite-as-famous parallels. Can’t you see the similarities (even though this picture is more than 5 years old)?

8. Methods are survivable! For anyone who is not a “teacher candidate” at my school and has no idea what I’m talking about, methods is the semester of intensive classes that instructs future educators how to teach their specific subject areas. Normal classes all get squished into Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while Tuesday and Thursday are dedicated to observing and teaching in a real classroom. Nasty rumors get circulated about this semester. Younger Ed majors, I regret to inform you that most of them are true. You will be sleep deprived and have little free time and stress-eat chocolate late into night. But you will survive. One of my lovely classmates compared completing methods to running a marathon: you’re always exhausted, everyone is cheering you on but doesn’t really understand the pain you’re going through, and your prize for the months of training that got you to the finish line is a crappy t-shirt. I feel a little ripped off that I didn’t even get a t-shirt. But I did cross the finish line, at least.

This concludes the final What I Learned of 2013! As a learner-type girl, I love tracking my cool discoveries outside the academic world of college (and it makes my random Internet surfing seem much more justifiable). I plan on keeping it going in 2014, so watch for more What I Learned next year, too!


November. proper noun. According to Google, the eleventh month of the year, often considered the last month of autumn. Also the code word for the letter N. Originates from Latin, in which it means nine.

Now presenting What I Learned in November. This is part of a link-up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky – head to her blog to see what other people are learning.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest


1. This list just reminded me how introverted I am.

2. The Anne of Green Gables movie is so dang precious. How have I, a lifelong kindred spirit to Anne-with-an-e, missed out on such delight?

3. Holy moly, I nerd out over books. And reading. And English in general. Exhibit A: I got incredibly excited and actually enjoyed my homework when I had to find five picture books that I could use to teach big kids. Exhibit B: I found a blogger who reads a picture book every Monday to his big kids to get them to enjoy reading and to think about something other than texting. Genius. I will totally do this. Exhibit C: Recently, my roommate showed me a badly written sentence in her philosophy book, and I immediately began mentally treeing (which is like diagramming) it to see how it went so wrong. During this conversation, I also uttered the phrase, “That dude needed a better editor.” Exhibit D: I actually believe the statistic in #6. Exhibit E: The fact that I would totally call the author of this awesome note.

4. There is a gene that determines whether you will be a night owl or an early bird. My most productive hours are between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. I rarely fall asleep before midnight. I make angry faces when I wake up. Guess what I am? However, this is not, as I had previously believed, due to laziness or lacking ambition. This is something I can’t help! I can stay up late and hate mornings without guilt!

5. Catching Fire is an awesome movie. This, I expected. I enjoyed watching it in theaters. This, I did not expect. I am not good at watching intense movies. When I was little, I used to watch the scary parts of Aladdin from behind the recliner in my grandma and grandpa’s living room, claiming I was in the Cave of Wonders. I still pace in the living room when my family watches anything action-y. However, Catching Fire was worth all of the anxiety it caused. Some high points: the movie is incredibly well-done (and this is coming from the girl who is passionately champions that books are better than movies), the existence of Josh Hutcherson and whoever plays Finnick Odair and has those gorgeous dimples, and Lydia from the Pride and Prejudice movie plays Joanna Mason and she rocks it. I am also developing excellent coping mechanisms for intensity. Though there wasn’t a Cave of Wonders in the theater, I only had to pace in the aisle once. I also read the book so I could anticipate the terrifying moments, took strategic bathroom breaks, and hid behind my jacket whenever people started dying. You should go see the movie. Even if you need to pace or hide.

6. This statistic. My personal, highly scientific studies confirm its reliability.

Image via Pinterest

Disclaimer: I have no idea what Read It Forward is, nor have I liked them on Facebook. Your call there. Image via Pinterest

6. I really like teaching middle school. I think the kids are amusing and awkward and awesome. I can also teach grammar to five periods of said kids and survive, though I now understand why my teacher parents need naps after school.

7. Brene Brown is awesome. She researches shame and vulnerability and has amazing insights such as “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” (Think about it. She’s so right.) Her message is slowly changing my life. Check out her TED Talks if you have 20 minutes and want your socks rocked off.

You can also check out her blog.

8. Christmas is coming. I love Christmas. You can bet your Christmas cookies that I’ll be doing some holiday-themed writing. The goal is once a week, which may or may not happen due to this little phenomenon called finals. At any rate, come back soon for a little Christmas cheer.


Captivating. adjective. According to whatever dictionary comes on the dashboard of Mac computers, “attracting and holding the interest or attention of; charming.”

I have spent this past week romping through the glamorous locales of England and New York. All without leaving the confines of my decidedly unglamorous house in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota.

You see, I have recently rediscovered the wonders of reading.

During the school year, I read. Oh yes, I read. Scanned subject lines of emails, gobbled textbook pages, scrolled through Facebook statuses, skimmed random articles I stumbled across. But rarely deep, luxurious reading, the kind where vivid characters flit through imaginary conversations as you wash the dishes, where you untwist plots as country roads slip beneath your tires. Now that it’s summer and I’m no longer encumbered by mounds of homework, I’ve begun reading real books again. And it has been captivating.

Thanks to The House at Riverton, I’ve bounced back to Downton Abbey-esque England, complete with huge manors and ladies maids and surprise engagements and scandalous affairs and footmen named Alfred. I’ve unraveled a mystery, too, one where you know that something dreadful happened but you hang desperately until the last page to see exactly how events pan out. In The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler, I spent the night in a musty old bed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I bathed in the fountain in the restaurant, scurried into bathroom stalls to hide from the guards, marveled at the mysterious Angel sculpture, and learned about the slippery business of secrets from an eccentric old lady with a wacky last name. Right now, I’ve decided to adopt Major Pettigrew, a crusty English gentleman with a delicious sense of sarcasm, and his new friend Mrs. Ali, a charming Pakistani woman with excellent taste in books, as an extra set of grandparents. It matters little that I’ve only met them through the novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

By now, you have probably realized a few things about me. First, I have had way too much time on my hands. Not to worry; I do have a summer job that simply had not started yet, and my reading has been balanced by mindless grazing of kitchen cupboards, extended browsing of social networks, and completing a variety of crafty projects. Clearly, I use my free time quite productively. You have also probably realized that I am a very serious bookworm. About that, you are also quite right. I won’t even try to deny it. But I also hope it’s clear that above simply loving books, I also love a good story, with rich settings and delightful characters and plots that would make me incredibly anxious in real life. I love stories’ ability to teach without inducing eye-rolling. I love teasing out threads of deeper meaning, things that I can see reflected in my own life. These stories do not have to be relegated to books. I love the real-life stories too, the snapshots my family shares when it’s way too late at night or the catch-up conversations with friends you haven’t seen in weeks.

So this summer, I have decided to be captivated more. I will throw myself headlong into books, checking novels off my neverending to-read list, meeting eccentric, exciting characters, and voyaging to new places. I will grin at myself when I realize that I’ve been trying to figure out how a story will end for the last fifteen minutes. And I will listen more to real-life stories, the shared plots and characters and places of those around me.

Now if only these stories could take me to England and New York in real life.


Books referenced in this post:

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Koningsburg

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

If you really want a further look at my latest books completed and the ones I hope to read before I die, check out my Goodreads profile.