Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Quick Catch Up

It's Memorial Day! According to social media, EVERYONE else is on summer break...I know...that's not true. I just keep seeing so many happy kiddos and parents. If you're one of those "already on summer break" types, congrats on making it to the end of the year.

As I mentioned before, we're in the middle of testing, which is a sign that the end of the year is near.

I wanted to give a quick rundown of some of my outfits from this week and then I'm off on my own Memorial Day adventure. I'm going to visit a farm for retired thoroughbred horses. I'm kind of excited and completely unsure of what to expect.

I gave you my testing day basics last time, but let me back up and give you Wednesday's outfit and then move forward to Friday/Sunday.

This week I looked super teacher-y all week. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, it's just that some times I'm a bit more of a stereotype than other days. Any week that involves a comfy dress, a cardigan and chinos is a super teacher-y week.

The weather was weird here all week, so I wanted to spend Wednesday in layers that would work no matter what happened to our classroom temperature. I've talked more than once about my love of dresses, but all of those have been a bit more on the dressy side of the spectrum. Wednesday's dress is part of my end of the year collection. These dresses are awesome because they are summer dresses that are fit for work. I wear these dresses when I go out for dinner on a summer night or I wear them with a jean jacket to work during the last few weeks of school--when I am more likely to need to haul books back to the book room or find myself in a rather warm room because the AC can't quite get it together. At the end of the year, it's really hard to motivate myself to put on confining clothes, and these dresses are a good middle ground between my start-of-the-year grown-up outfits and my last week of school "whatever's clean" outfits. I know that some people could wear these all year long and look put together. I'm just short, and I have a rather high-pitched voice, so I do all I can to separate myself from the student population early on in the year, so I save these for later on in the year.

I bought this specific dress from LOFT a few years ago when they had about a million really cute summer dresses. I loaded up, and I'll tell the truth. I wore those 3-4 dresses on repeat for the last month of school. They also have some pretty cute ones this year. Here are a few:
I would wear this one all the time.

Primary Image of Embroidered Split Neck Dress

This one also seems fun.

Primary Image of Floral Drawstring Henley Dress

This one even comes in petite for us short folks.

Primary Image of Crochet Sleeveless Maxi Dress

I paired it with my jean jacket. No joke--I bought a jean jacket when I was in college and just bought its replacement last year. Yay for things that stay in style forever. Here are a few options:

A good basic jacket

Denim jacket

The classic

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And I'm wearing the shoes I've talked about a few times. Here's the link, again.

I am also wearing a long necklace that I'm a fan of. Here are a few options:

Love this layering...
Primary Image of Layered Lariat Necklace

Another option
Thumbnail Image of Color Swatch 6090 Image of Mixed Metallic Drop Pendant Necklace

As I said, I was pretty teacher-y this week. The summer dress on Wednesday, the cardigan on Thursday, and then I went for the chinos and chambray shirt on Friday. I feel like all of these are the things you think of teachers wearing. And I'm okay with that. There's a reason teachers wear these--because they work well with what teachers do all day.

On Friday, I found myself wearing chambray again. I got a new pair of chinos from Gap and wanted to give them a try. I love them. I am not really a camo person, so this is as close to camo as I get. I had worn this shirt before with pants that were less fitted, and I thought it looked less-than-flattering, so I though the more fitted pair of pants would work better.

Here's the top.
But it's not my favorite anymore...
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I actually like this one better.
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The pants are a hit though. I like them a lot, and they come in so many colors. They don't have this pair online anymore, but these are close.
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On a final note, I wore these pants again on Sunday (feel free to judge me). I went a different route (but it still involved chambray, of course). Please note that I look terrible, but that's what happens when a late flight couples with two REALLY early mornings. I just thought I would share another option for patterned pants. You know I care about you, dear reader, if I'm willing to post a picture of my haggard self to show you another outfit option. Feel loved.

Here is the short-sleeved sweater, and you could pair it with any sleeveless collared shirt.

This one has sleeves, but it still might work.

And I think this is the same sweater.
Short-sleeve sweater

Okay--I think that's a quick wrap-up. Have a great start to the week.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sometimes I Really Look Like a Teacher.

This week is the start of end-of-the-year testing. Yesterday I was a proctor, so my day included the following (Note: These are rough estimates.):
1.5 million trips to the bathroom with students who, to be totally honest, probably just needed a chance to walk around during the 3 hour testing window
500,000 stairs climbed to go to and from the testing office to ask questions/get students all in the right place
82,000 "No" responses to a students' post-test questions ("No--you can't have your cell phone yet." "No--they haven't released us yet." "No--you can't go sit by your friend even though you are done with your test.")

But even with the stairs climbed and the trips to the bathroom, proctoring isn't terrible. It's just a long day. Because I knew this would be the case, I made myself a survival kit--okay--it was really just a stop at Peet's before school. Caffeine and pastries are what keep me going on a long testing day. And, for some reason, I decided last Thursday was the right time to kick my diet soda habit, so I needed a replacement for my usual caffeine source.

When I was picking out what to wear the night before, I knew that I wanted to be comfortable. So I went for my grey jeans that I would live in if that were socially acceptable. I would be like Tobias from Arrested Development, but instead of jean shorts, I would just wear these jeans.
These might be my pants--I can't promise!
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Anyway. I've also been trying for weeks to make an outfit work with this cardigan, but every time I tried to build around it, it just didn't work. I bought this one a bit big thinking that I would want to wear a long-sleeve shirt under it, but that means that it's a bit big for things like throwing it over a dress. I decided that on testing day I didn't really care that much about everything fitting perfectly and that I was more concerned about being warm and comfortable. This cardigan was perfect for that. It's really soft, light and stretchy. (That's probably not the right term, but I can't think of a better one.)

It's also been raining most of the week, so the bright color was nice for a rainy day.
I can't find the exact same one I have, but I think I like this one better.
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I went for my super-comfy sandals to make sure I wouldn't be too noisy and to make sure that I could survive the walking I knew the day would require. Here's a link!

We're heading into about another week and a half of testing, so you'll probably see plenty more of these types of outfits over the next few weeks. Let me give a brief overview of my approach to wardrobe choices during testing:
1. Bring layers--even if you are testing in your room, there's always a chance that the AC will work too well or not enough. If you're going to be in the same place for hours, you want some control over how comfortable you are.
2. Don't wear noisy or uncomfortable shoes. Between kids needing to use the restroom and active monitoring protocol you'll get your steps in for the day. You don't want to have to worry about distracting a kid every time you do a lap or not being able to make it all the way down the hall when you take the 32nd kid to the bathroom.
3. I highly recommend pants with stretch in them. Especially if you aren't going to be in your own classroom, you don't really know if you're going to end up sitting in a student desk, perching on a stool or standing around. It's nice to have on something that adapts to anything.

And here are the things I've learned about proctoring in general:
1. Try to work out a schedule with the other proctors in your room so everyone gets a break during the test and no one feels bad for asking for a break.
2. Bring sustenance if allowed. I'm sure some school districts have different expectations, but if the students are allowed to eat and drink during the test, I'm a firm believer that you can too. Not having a grumbling tummy will make the time go by much faster.
3. Ask ahead of time what the expectations are for proctors AND ask about how many adults will be in the room/how many need to be actively proctoring at all times. It may be that there are 3 assigned to a room, but only one needs to be walking the floor/staring at kids at any given time. Knowing this keeps you from spending the whole time wondering if you are doing too much or not enough.  

Okay--well that's my testing post. I'll have another with Wednesday's outfit and today's installment of "How Many Chambray Shirts Can One Person Have?"

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday...okay...Just Monday and Tuesday...

After a fun-filled weekend, I'm back to my normal life this week.
On Monday, two of my debaters were giving a showcase debate at a local organization. They were brilliant and amazing, and it was the kind of moment when you remember that you really are working with future leaders. I think extra-curricular activities get a bad rap for being time suckers for teachers, but in my experience, working with students in these settings is what keeps me going. I get to work with motivated, thoughtful and kind students, and I love knowing that I'm enabling them to participate in something that is good for them. Obviously, it's important to have boundaries so that all of your time isn't consumed with school, but when chances come to give students opportunities to shine, take them.
I'll get off of my soapbox now and move on to my clothing choices for the day.

Because we had this showcase, I knew I would be going from school to this event, so I wanted to wear something that would transition well and would still be comfortable by the end of the day. As a teacher, at least a few times a year I need to go straight from school to a school-related event. Monday was one of those days. I used to live about half an hour away from school, so it used to be even more important that my outfits transition well since I really didn't want to have to go all the way home just because I had worn an uncomfortable skirt or pair of shoes.

This outfit is a pretty standard one for me on days like this. The skirt is like the floral one I was unsatisfied with during the first week of blogging, but it's a size smaller, and I think that makes it look much better. I love these J. Crew Factory skirts because they have a stretchy waistband and come in different colors each season. In the spring, they come in a linen-ish fabric, and they are wool in the fall. These skirts are my go-to when I want to be ridiculously comfortable but not look like a mess.
Here are a few from this season:
Printed linen-cotton sidewalk mini skirt
Printed linen-cotton sidewalk mini skirt

Printed linen-cotton sidewalk mini skirt
Here's the link that has all three colors. They come in solids as well.

I'm, of course, wearing a chambray shirt because it's me, and that's what I do. I also hold firmly to my belief that neutrals with a little bit of color make for a happy day.
The exact shirt. I may own two of these...
Classic chambray shirt in perfect fit
As for the shoes, these sandals are forever old. I actually think, every year, that I'm going to have to replace them, yet they just keep holding on. They're like the dog I had in high school who lived to be about a million years old in dog years but just kept going. I used to be rather opposed to non-neutral shoes, but I've since been convinced that purchasing a few bright-colored sandals/flats gives you some fun options for making a basic outfit more unique.
Here are a few bright options:
Lovely blue...
Gannon Flat Sandal

A Fun Pattern
Camrie Flat Sandal

Here are my tips from Monday's outfit:
1. Skirts with stretch will make any day, especially a Monday, much better.
2. Chambray goes with everything. Much like Wednesday's white shirt, it really helps to have something to fall back on. It's great to have a shirt that will go with almost anything in your closet so you can pick a skirt and be ready to go.
3. I used to think I should only own shoes in neutral colors, but I've since decided that it's really great to have a pair or two that are fun colors.

I'm going to go ahead and tack on today's outfit just to wrap up my week of being behind on posts. I actually really liked my outfit today. The pants are my birthday pants--not to be confused with a birthday suit. I asked my parents for pants for my birthday (a sign I am officially old). After wearing these today, I'm in love with them. I think I not-so-secretly wish to be Diane Keaton from Baby Boom, at least fashion wise.

I probably have this desire because so many of the movies I saw as a child had a woman in 80s business attire. So today, I got to live the dream...at least as much as I can since it's not actually 1988. Anyway--I love these pants. They survived a ruckus in my hallway and a fire drill. I don't really feel bad about admitting there was a ruckus at school today since you'd be hard pressed to find a high school that never has such an occurrence. Hello--it's a building full of hormonal teenagers; of course there are altercations. I think this might have even been a near miss. I'm not sure. I heard some noise in the hallway, asked one of my students who had just walked in the door if I needed to go in the hallway, and she took so long deciding that the event was over and everything was fine that I declared her to be the worst reporter ever, especially since when I went in the hall, there was still a bit of ruckus going on. Anyway--soon after that, we had a fire drill. Good thing my birthday pants were up for quite a bit of activity.
Here is the exact pair. I love the fit. I like that they make my legs look less stumpy than they are, and I like that they held up well throughout the day. I'd say you should go buy these immediately. I think I'm also probably a fan of these because they come in "short" lengths. I'm not truly a petite because the rest of my frame is average--it's just my legs that are petite, so short pants are perfect for me.
My new favorite pants
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The shirt is from the fall, I believe. When I bought it, I thought I would wear it all of the time. I don't wear it that often, but I do love it. I feel like it has a pretty feminine look, but can be paired with a blazer and jeans or a pencil skirt.
This could serve a similar purpose.
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I'm now in love with this one...
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Much like Monday, I kept it pretty basic and just added a bit of color. Here I went for a necklace. Orange is probably more of a fall color, so next time I might go for a pastel. Here are a few options for that:
Crystal petal party necklace
Triple opaque gemstone necklace

Bubble stone necklace

All of these can be found here.
The shoes are indeed the Dak Prescotts of my closet. I'm officially more fond of these than the shoes that I thought would be my basic brown shoes. They made it through all the chaos of the day, and my feet were perfectly happy. Here's the link to them again:
My new best friends
Frankie Wedge Pump

Okay--sorry to be so brief--but here are the tips for today:
1. A good pair of pants will make any day better. Since pants styles don't change that dramatically that often, it's safe to spend a bit more on them. Also--since you can (and probably will) wear them more often, it also makes sense to invest a bit more.
2. Know what makes you happy to wear, and go for it. One of the things that makes the end of the year work better is knowing you  like what you are wearing. I know that sounds silly and trivial, but for me, it's true.

Hope this helps!

And Then the Weekend Happened...

I don't typically write about my weekend clothing choices, but Mom and I were a little fancy over the weekend, so I thought I'd include these outfits.

On Friday, Mom and I had, probably, my favorite day of the trip. We did my absolute favorite thing to do when she's in town: we went to school. I often tell stories about my family or pass on my mom's advice during the course of the school year, so it's always fun to let her meet my students and let them ask her questions. My students were so fun and kind, and my mom was really happy to meet them. It worked out really well that my former intern and my former co-teacher were both in my room at one point, so my mom got to meet two people that have been encouragements to me during my time at TC. I took her around to some of my other favorite places in the building, and then we took off.

Since I wasn't technically at work on Friday, I went for a more casual look. I threw on (okay...I did have to iron the shirt the night before...darn you cotton fabrics!) a navy shirt I bought a summer or two ago and paired it with some jeans (no--I don't like these either...I'm still hunting) and a green cardigan. As always--I had mostly neutrals with a colorful item. It's my signature I guess...is that sad?

Here are some similar options for the shirt:
This one is much cuter than mine...

Embroidered linen-cotton tank top

Another option
Eyelet tank top

One final option

Embroidered placket tank top

Here are a few long cardigan options:
A summer color
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The one I wore on Wednesday

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The Birks made another appearance mostly because my feet chant "Birks! Birks! Birks!" every time I start to pick out my shoes. My mom and I were also planning to hit up the mall, so I wanted some comfy shoes.

The highlight of the day was tea at the Ritz. It was ridiculously good and SO fun. Since we don't normally go to tea, especially at a nice hotel, we took full advantage of the opportunity to be girly...and we documented every moment. I'm sure the other patrons mocked us, but we don't know them, so I'm not that concerned.

Given my love of The Importance of Being Earnest, I felt required to document my eating of a cucumber sandwich.

Saturday we hit up DC. We went to my mom's favorite restaurant and took advantage of rush tickets to Macbeth. One of the things you figure out quickly as a teacher is that you aren't poor, but you also have a tight budget. If you live in/near a great city, it can be disappointing to know that there are all kinds of cool cultural things to do, but you don't have the money to do them...probably because you spent it on glue sticks and Crayons at the beginning of the year. Here are some of the ways I do things even though I'm a teacher:
1. Know who has teacher discounts. J. Crew, Loft, and plenty of other stores offer a teacher discount; it's not much, but every bit helps. And the money you save there can help you pay for other things--like concert tickets or speeding tickets acquired from a trip to the orchard...just sayin'.

2. Know who offers free or discounted experiences. In DC:
 --The Shakespeare Theatre Company has discounted tickets for people under 35. And, for old people like me, they have $25 rush tickets 2 hours before the show.
--Some of the museums have a free day once a month or have a yearly pass that is discounted for teachers. The Phillips Collection offers a $50 pass for the entire year--basically the cost of visiting 4 times, and it comes with free entry to all kinds of special events and some guest passes.
--The Kennedy Center has a free concert every night of the year (although some are more interesting than others).
I'm sure there are others--these are just the ones I know.

3.  Know where the cheap tickets are. Gold Star (www.goldstar.com) has discounted tickets for all kinds of events. I'm sure there are other discounted ticket companies. I think I got my Clippers/Wizards tickets on Stub Hub for a pretty good price.

4. Know the parks, community centers and other places in your town that offer fun things to do. When I was home last summer, my parents and aunt went with me to learn to shoot a bow and arrow at the nature center. I was completely amused...but maybe I'm easily amused. There's a park in DC that has a group of African Drummers that just get together and drum every Sunday. Dupont Circle is full of fun people watching, and there is a Krispy Kreme near by. Sometimes on a mellow weekend, I'll pack a book, buy a donut and sit in the park.

5. Be willing to sacrifice "good seats" for fun company. While you might not be able to afford the best tickets to the baseball game, cheap tickets can make for a fun night with the right people. It's still a night at the ballgame...and there are fireworks on Fridays.

Anyway--as for clothing choices. I took the opportunity of going to the theatre to break out my new denim dress. I'm kind of hoping that the 90s comeback means I can wear dresses like this all the time. It's so comfortable, and I'm convinced it kept me warm during the play. That might not be backed by science. I had a 50% coupon for Gap, so I picked this dress up on super sale.

This picture is in front of my favorite president (John Quincy Adams). We stopped by the Portrait Gallery after the play.

Here's the link.:

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Okay--So, that's the highlight reel of dressing for the weekend. Just thought I'd share my wisdom about being cheap in the city and show you a dress that survived an entire day in the city.