Blogmas Days 11 & 12 (Just a Little Behind…)

(Soooooooo, I’m a little behind on posting my final 2 blogmas blogs so I apologize for the delay!) 

Blogmas Day 11 – Favorite Present Received:

If I’m honest, I am pretty hard to give gifts to. I would prefer to just spend time with the people I care about rather than receive anything physical. Looking back at Christmases past, the best present I ever received was a donation towards a volunteer teaching trip I took 4 years ago today.

At the start of 2015, I kicked off my new year by teaching English for a week to students down in the Dominican Republic. It was an expensive trip because I had to fully pay my way down there and I had to make a large donation to the foundation in order to volunteer. For that Christmas (a week before the New Year) my grandpa helped me fund my way down. That donation was the best gift I’ve ever received because it gave me one of the best and most humbling weeks/experiences of my life.

The non-profit I volunteered through was called Outreach 360. It’s an amazing organization with sites in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. If you are looking for a life changing adventure, I highly recommend looking into this program!! Ya’ll, I literally taught outside on a slab of concrete, it was incredibly humbling.
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Blogmas Day 12 – New Year’s Eve:

I’ve never really had any New Year’s traditions. Every year I’m usually doing something completely different. (The most common thing I do is to stay at home and go to bed before midnight….I’m lame.) This year, however was a little different. A childhood friend of mine and I decided to go out for a change. We’re both single and in our 20’s, so we figured why the heck not? It was fun but it also ended in a bit of disappointment when neither one of us got a New Year’s kiss.

 

Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.
  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!
  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

Blogmas Day 10 – Favorite Present Given

Blogmas Day 10 – Favorite Present Given

I LOVE Christmas because I LOVE giving gifts. I tend to pride myself on my gift giving skills. I love to find the perfect gift for each of my friends and family. My favorite site to look on for gifts is Etsy. I love finding personalized gifts that you can’t get or find anywhere else.

I can’t think of any specific gift that I have given that is my favorite but I do have a favorite gift giving tradition. I love to give my parents and sister the same thing but personalized to them. I first print off an 8×10 picture for each of them representing something we did together that was special that year. I have them framed and wrapped. I love pictures and I think giving pictures for Christmas adds a special touch without paying too much or trying too hard.

I also give one another gift to each of them that I find awesome and hilarious at the same time. Each year I give them a customized/personalized mug that fits their personality. This year, I think my dad’s is my favorite.

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Click Here to Buy on Amazon

I found some pretty fun ones for my mom and my sister as well.

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Click Here to Buy on Amazon

 

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Click Here to Buy on Amazon

I love giving gifts to anyone and everyone in my life. I just LOVE this time of the year!!

 

Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.
  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!
  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

 

Blogmas Day 9 – Candle Scents

Blogmas Day 9 – Candle Scents

There’s nothing more relaxing than just laying on the couch with some candles lit enjoying the sweet smells that fill the air. I especially find this extra enjoyable during those cold winter nights. This always starts around Christmas time.

No matter what time of the year it is, I typically light the same candles because I love the scent. My favorite (year round) candles are anything vanilla or lavender related. Even though these are not exactly related to Christmas, I still can’t get enough of them.

My favorite scents of the season are usually more fall related but I think some of those smells can translate to the Christmas season. I don’t want to sound like a classic 20-something year old girl, but I love the smell of pumpkin! As much as pumpkin spice is an October/November scent, I think it’s just as much of a Christmas scent as it is a Thanksgiving one.

I also love the scent of peppermint. I’ve had the same peppermint scented candle for years because I only light it during the holiday season. It may be a stronger scent, but it still brings the Christmas feeling into whatever room it’s in.

 

Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.
  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!
  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

Blogmas Days 7 and 8 – Nutcracker Ballet and Board Games

Blogmas Day 7 – Nutcracker Ballet

Like most Christmas lovers, I have always been a fan of the Nutcracker and the music that goes along with it. When I was little, I was given a Nutcracker snow globe from my grandparents. It has a statue of Clara holding up her toy Nutcracker inside and plays the Nutcracker’s March. When I was younger, so I wouldn’t break it, my mom would put it away with our Christmas decorations. Every year when I saw my favorite snow globe come out I knew that it was time for the Christmas season to begin.

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It was always a goal of my sister, mom, and I to see the ballet in person. When my sister and I were little, we would watch the Barbie Nutcracker movie all December long waiting for the day we could see the real thing. A few years ago, we finally got to go together. It was a beautiful and entertaining show. My sister wasn’t a fan but my mom and I had a blast and can’t wait to go again. I love the Nutcracker.

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Nutcracker Ballet 2016 with my sister!

Blogmas Day 8 – Board Games

When I think about board games and Christmas I think about Monopoly! Growing up, Christmas Eve was a day full of traditions in my house. One of those traditions was to play a full days worth of Monopoly together as a family. This game was always intense! Each one of us had our own strategy and some years it got pretty heated. The more my sister would lose, the more heated the year. We haven’t played in a few years but I hope the tradition comes back because it was always a fun (and crazy) family bonding time.

 

Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.
  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!
  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

Blogmas Days 5 and 6 (PLUS Hot Chocolate Craft!)

Blogmas Day 5 – Tree Skirt

This is a hard one for me. I know some families have a tree skirt that they may have used forever and it has sentimental value….not our family. We would usually buy a tree skirt every few years from Target, but they’d always be the cheapest one they had. My mom always said that it’s better to focus more attention decorating the tree itself than buying something expensive to go underneath. We also would have a ton of presents for friends and family under our tree, so we never really could see the tree skirt.

When I moved out into my own place, I wanted to buy a nicer looking skirt for my tree because I wanted it to have a full and finished look. I got a pretty white and red one from Hobby Lobby last year and have it again this year.

Blogmas Day 6 – Anti Wish List

This one is hard for me!! I usually don’t even have a wishlist for myself on Christmas. I’m a lame person who prefers giving gifts rather than receiving them. I am appreciative over anything I get. Being a teacher, I get a lot of amazing gifts but I also get a lot of gifts that I don’t really have any use for. I am grateful for anything and everything I get. Because of that, I don’t really have an anti wishlist.

Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.
  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!
  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

 

School Fun – Warming our Hearts

In school yesterday we did one of my favorite projects of the year that I wanted to share. It is one of my favorites that we do during the holiday season. The project I got off of Teachers Pay Teachers a few years ago from Counselor Keri‘s shop for $2.00. It was totally worth it! We start the activity with a mindfulness activity that gets them thinking about what makes them happy. They pretend they’re holding a cup of hot chocolate and think about the warmth they feel. We talk about how that warmth is like how our hearts feel when we’re happy. After the activity, I hand out 4 paper marshmallows and ask them to write something that makes them happy on each one. They then cut them out and put them on a hot chocolate (paper) mug they already have colored. They always turn out so cute and sweet.

 

 

For more day to day action and activities, go follow my class’s Instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

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Blogmas Day 4 – Opening Presents

Blogmas Day 4 – Opening Presents

This is one of my favorite topics! As much as I’d love to say, “I don’t care about opening presents,” that would be a total lie. I love opening presents! There’s something so sweet and exciting opening a gift that contains a surprise just for me. Who doesn’t love that? I will be honest and say, however I LOVE watching others open gifts that I have purchased for them. I love buying and wrapping gifts for my friends and family and I love watching them open them.

In my family Christmas Eve is spent with my parents and sister. This is the day we open all of the gifts we have gotten each other. When we were little, my sister and I opened all of our gifts first because of the little patience we had. As we grew older, we started to enjoy taking turns with our parents. We now take turns from oldest to youngest opening gifts. My dad always starts, followed by my mom, then myself, and finally my sister. I love watching the three of them open their gifts.

I’m not going to lie, I think pretty highly of myself when it comes to gift giving. Ha, I take my sweet old time picking out the perfect present for everyone in my life. My favorite resource is Etsy, AKA the BEST personalized gift giving site to exist. There’s something so fun for me watching them open the gifts I spent so much time picking out.

On Christmas day we follow a similar pattern. We celebrate Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. We take turns (from oldest to youngest) opening gifts. It is always a family joke that my youngest cousin has to go last because, even at the age of 20, she constantly wants to open all of her gifts first and hates to wait. In recent years, with everyone getting older, we have started a new tradition where instead of buying gifts for everyone individually, we buy one gift at a certain price cap, wrap it up, and then play the dice game together. It’s a new twist on our family tradition.

This year I am so excited to watch all of my friends and family open all of the gifts I have gotten for them. They are all sitting underneath my tree waiting to be opened.

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Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.

  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!

  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

Blogmas Day 3 Advent Calendars

Blogmas Day 3 – Advent Calendars

I LOVE advent calendars! There’s something so fun and special about counting down to Christmas and seeing the dates get closer and closer. Growing up, we never used the advent calendars that included mini gifts on each date/number. We simply would use them to count down to the big day!

Now that I live alone, I go all out when it comes to decorating for Christmas. Because of that, I have 2 fun advent calendars that I use just to look at (similar to the ones I had when I was younger.) Both calendars that I have I bought at Target a few years ago. I love them! They add an extra smile to my face when I see them everyday.

Recently I’ve become a HUGE fan of the “12 Days of Christmas” advent sock calendars that you can get at Target. I love socks, especially cute and fun socks. Last year I got the Harry Potter and Game of Thrones 12 days of Christmas socks (because I am the biggest nerd in the world) from my family for Christmas and they were honestly my 2 favorite gifts. This year, I bought myself a cat version that has 15 pairs of cat socks and I got my mom a pack of Elf socks because it’s her all time favorite Christmas movie, and again, who doesn’t love socks? I can’t wait to see her open it on Christmas morning.

 

Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.

  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!

  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

Blogmas Day 2 “Books of the Season” AND Reindeer Writing Fun!

Blogmas Day 2 Books of the Season: 

Oh boy, when I think of books of the season all I can think about are my favorite Christmas picture books that I read daily to my students at school. I have SO MANY favorite books of the season that I have enough books to read 1-2 different picture books everyday to my kids from Thanksgiving until Christmas break. I’ll share the list of books (and activities) I do with my class below.

When I think about the books of the season I also think about a single author who holds a very special place in my heart…Jan Brett. Her books were always ones that my mom would read to my sister and I every night until Christmas. When I see her books, I instantly begin to think about the holiday season.

I know that some people are probably going to share their favorite novels or adult texts, but Christmas isn’t Christmas without some good old picture books and lucky for me, my job lets me read them on a daily basis!

School 15 Day Holiday Picture Book List:

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Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.

  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!

  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

 

Reindeer Writing: 

Speaking of Jan Brett, her books always inspire my favorite December lessons/activities at school. On Wednesday I read one of my favorite of her books, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, and then did a fun creative writing project. If you’ve never read this story before, it’s a great book to teach kids about how to be respectful and how being “bossy” doesn’t always work out well.

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The main character in the story is an elf who has to get Santa’s reindeer trained and ready to go for the Christmas Eve flight. After our story we brainstormed ideas on what they would do if they had to train a reindeer, whether to be one of Santa’s or to just train them as a pet. They had the best ideas!

After they wrote out their ideas, they drew a picture of them training their reindeer and then they colored and cut out a reindeer head and hooves to mount their writing on.

They all turned out so cute! I love this project. It gets them to practice their writing while also incorporating art and Christmas, some of my favorite things!

Oh man it’s been a crazy, long, and exhausting week. I am ready for the weekend but I’m even more ready for Christmas break to begin one week from today! We’re almost there teachers, we can do this!

 

For more day to day activities and live action, go follow my blog/teacher Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

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Blogmas Day 1 – Wintery Breakfast (PLUS Kindness Month has Begun!)

Last December was the kick off to my blogging life. Within a few days of joining the blogging community I stumbled across an amazing idea known as Blogmas, or the 12 Days of Christmas Posts. I was fortunate enough to connect with the founder of this idea and joined her, along with other bloggers, writing about different Christmas topics to get in the holiday mood. I copied and pasted the rules to the bottom of this post if you want to join in with the fun! Speaking as someone who LOVES and is OBSESSED with Christmas, this is a super fun thing to do!

Day 1 – Wintery Breakfast

When I think about December (or anything in the winter) and breakfast together the first thing that comes to my mind is a nice large hot cinnamon roll! Growing up, my mom was a teacher, so over Christmas break from school she would always be home with us. During those 8-12 days of break, my sister and I woke up every morning to the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven.

My mom is not the best cook/chef so these were just your run of the mill Pillsbury rolls but they always added something special to our wintery mornings when we were home on break.

Christmas morning was always extra special because with our cinnamon rolls, our mom would also provide us with peppermint hot chocolate with a candy cane on the side of the mug. This was usually our Saturday night treat in the winter, but on Christmas morning we got to add it to our breakfast.

My mouth is watering just thinking about those cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. When I think of a wintery breakfast, that is immediately where my mind goes.

 

Want to participate in Blogmas 2019? Check out the following guidelines!

Last year you might have followed along with the 12 Days that I did with some of the gals listed above and we had such a good time that we decided to celebrate again together this year! So without further ado here are the guidelines for my 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. use the image provided in each post, so that way anyone who might jump in later can see what the plan is for the month.

  2. for sure link back to me, Abbey@ThreeCatsandaGirl, so that way I can celebrate your Christmas with you and maybe get some ideas of how to create festive enjoyment!

  3. spread Christmas cheer in the way you know best!

 

Kindness Month Begins

Last December I shared with all of my teacher friends my projects and activities I like to do in December. I love to have the theme of kindness during the month of December because it’s always good to teach kiddos about being kind and generous but it’s also the time of the year when they start to act up. Having daily kindness activities keep them in check with who they are and their behaviors.

On Friday morning we did one of my absolute FAVORITE projects of the year! We made our kindness light bulbs to hang on my whiteboard.

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Each light bulb has the sentence starter “I can light up the world with kindness by…” and then they share their ideas on what they can do. I LOVE doing this activity and so do the kids. It brightens up everyone’s day and their ideas are so adorable and sweet.

 

 

For more day to day action and activities, go follow my teacher instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. I truly believe that’s true. Christmas is the most magical and peaceful time of the whole year. Sometimes I think the whole year is one big build up for this amazing day.

My Christmas was wonderful, just as it should be.

Our Christmas starts on Christmas Eve. My little family of 4 spends the whole day together. This is the first “full/official” year that I’ve been completely moved out of the house, so we had to adjust some of our traditions but it was still special. I went over to my parents’ house around 11. When I got there, we hung around the living room together talking and just enjoying each others company. My family LOVES to play cards. We played a few rounds of a game my great grandfather invented along with a few games of 500.

We then sat around and started opening our presents. My family opens our presents from one another on Christmas Eve. I think it started because my younger sister and I were so impatient when we were little, our parents gave in but it has turned into our family tradition. Now that my sister and I are in our 20’s, opening gifts is more of a fun affair for all of us. We all choose fun gifts for one another that match our personalities. I was pretty proud with what I purchased for my family. I bought each of them a mug that matched their personalities but were also funny.

I found each of them a mug on Etsy. (I swear by Etsy. I buy 90% of all of my gifts there so I can find special gifts personalized to ever person in my life.)

My dad’s mug was from the shop, DreamteesUS, my mom’s from the shop NovemberandMae, and my sister’s from the shop inkyandindigo. I was seriously so proud of them (my family lives for lame jokes/puns)!

Once we had opened all of our gifts we played some more cards before we went to church. Once our service was over, we came back and had a plethora of appetizers for dinner that we snacked on while we watched our traditional Christmas Eve movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation! Such a classic! (My mom also made us some chocolate fondue for desert which is another normal tradition!)

Unlike most Christmas Eve’s, I ended up going back to my apartment to spend the night. This was very hard for my mom to accept but I wanted to sleep in my bed more than anything! (I also wanted to sleep in and my family does NOT sleep later than 6:00am, no joke.)

Christmas Day was amazing. I woke up and found that Santa came for my kitty Lucy. I promise I’m not a crazy cat lady, but she is my baby and Santa knew how great she is. We opened her catnip Christmas toys in her stocking and played with them for quite some time. I had a relaxing morning watching more Hallmark Christmas movies before heading back to my parents’ house for the day.

We spent a few hours together as a family and then headed to my grandpa’s house for the day. This is another major tradition, we ALWAYS spend Christmas day with my mom’s side (for as long as I can remember!) My mom’s side is very small. We have our family of 4 and then she has 1 brother who is married to my aunt and they have 2 girls, so also a family of 4. Once we were all at my grandpa’s we had 9 people there. I’ve always loved how small and intimate our family is. My grandma, and great grandma, were always there with us but they both passed away around 6 years ago, so now it’s just us.

We spent the first few hours just catching up and eating. I’m the oldest cousin, so the other 3 girls are all still in college. We’ve always been SUPER close but with college it’s very hard to see one another, this made catching up last longer than normal.

We have a tradition in my family that my grandparents’ started. All of us granddaughters and our parents each have our own specialized stocking our grandma had made when we were born. Our grandparents fill the stockings every year with our main Christmas gifts. It was always my grandma who orchestrated the stockings but since she passed, my grandpa has done great carrying on the tradition. We always start with the youngest opening hers and work up to the oldest (which is my dad.)

For the rest of us, a few years ago we decided it would be much easier (and more fun) to play the dice game for our presents. We have enough gifts in the middle for all 9 of us and play the traditional game (when you get doubles you pick a gift, then everyone opens theirs, followed by 2 minutes to steal if you role doubles again.) This has been one of my favorite traditions we have started! My whole family gets into it and I love it! (My dad is a very introverted person and usually “observes” games but with this game he gets so into it!)

We then spent the rest of the day playing games and enjoying each other’s company. My cousins, my sister, and I are very close (it helps that there’s only 4 of us). We are all sisters so anytime we get to spend together as we get older is a treat!

My family went back to my parents’ house for a few hours to spend more time together before I went home to watch the Grinch and go to bed.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are my favorite days in the entire year. I love being with my family and sticking with the traditions we’ve had since I was born. To this day, December 26th is always the saddest day of the entire year for me. I hate knowing I have to wait 364 days before Christmas Eve comes again.

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas!!