My year in review posts are one of my favorite blog posts to write all year. I didn’t blog consistently in 2019 (I had a lot going on, as you’ll see if you keep reading) but I wanted to make sure I took the time to write this post to go along with my 2017 and 2018 years in review.
My word of the year for 2019 was delight. I chose that word because I knew a lot would be happening this year and I didn’t want to take the little moments for granted. Instead, I wanted to make sure I was focusing on enjoying and savoring the many moments of happiness I got to experience this year.
2019 was a tough year because it was a year of transition for me. I completed my student teaching, graduated with my master’s degree, got my first full time teaching job, transitioned into a long distance see-you-twice-a-month relationship from a see-you-every-day relationship, and moved back home. I feel incredibly accomplished as I reflect back on the year, but I’m very much looking forward to what 2020 has in store.
Keep reading to look back on 2019 with me and be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this post with your favorite moments from this year.
In January, I was very gung-ho about the new year (as usual). I created a vision board which has been my phone lockscreen the entire year, set goals (many of which I discarded as the year went on and I realized they didn’t fit my priorities but many of which I achieved), and spent time seriously planning for my future. I knew that this year would see big changes and I wanted to make sure I had my goals in sight.
I also knew I’d have a hard time getting through the year if I didn’t make time for focusing on myself. Part of the reason my word of the year was delight was because I have historically had a hard time focusing on having fun and taking care of myself over just getting stuff done. In January I started some habits that would ensure I had intentional time for fun throughout the year.
One of those habits was getting my nails done. I’ve been a nail biter my whole life and nothing I’ve done has been able to break me of the habit. Even painting my nails has always resulted in me just picking off the nail polish. In January, I decided to give acrylic nails a try and I ended up sticking to them all year. I love the guaranteed me-time of going to get my nails done, I love that it’s literally impossible for me to bite my nails, and I love the put-together feeling having my nails always look nice gives me.
Another habit/hobby I got more intentionally into in January was makeup. If you’re a longtime Honeybee Joyous reader, you probably remember my journey of getting into makeup. Well, in 2019 I got really into makeup and spent a lot of time creating eyeshadow looks and being creative on my face. Doing my makeup is meditative for me, plus it’s the best time to listen to audiobooks.
A last habit I tried to focus on intentionally developing in January was spending time with friends outside of class. My graduate program was stressful and kept me constantly busy and I know I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without my amazing friends and classmates. The way our program worked, we had a couple weeks of essentially nonstop classes in January and February. Then, once those classes were over, we were in our student teaching classrooms full time. That meant that the first couple months of the year were spent away from what I loved most, so I had to try extra hard to stay motivated.
We tried (sometimes successfully) to spend time with each other in evenings or on weekends, just hanging out and being together without doing homework or stressing about school. I loved everyone in my program but Austin, Hope, Courtney, and Kate were what got me through everything.
Favorite book: The Girl Who Drank the Moon
In my past couple year in review posts, I’ve written that February is usually an uneventful and unmemorable month. That was certainly not true in 2019. In February I missed two days of class to take the train home for a job interview. Missing class was stressful because it was during that super packed time before student teaching really started, but it was totally worth it because I got the job!
It was incredible to know where I was headed after graduation so early on and took a lot of the pressure off in grad school. It was especially great because I knew I’d be teaching in my hometown at a school I had a connection to and with a staff of people I really liked.
I kept experimenting with makeup this month and created some looks I really loved. The one below is one of my favorites I’ve ever done and I did it in bad lighting in front of the TV.
As usual, I watched a lot of hockey in 2019. For one of the games, Brendan and I went up to DC for an event called “Caps Prom.” It was a party held in a sports bar in DC where a bunch of Caps fans dressed up fancy, watched the game on the TVs in the bar, ate, drank, and had fun. It was pretty fun, but definitely a lot for this introvert.
Brendan’s birthday is one of the best days in the month of February so of course we had to celebrate his 21st!
Favorite book: Dark Places
In March, I was in my student teaching classroom full time (essentially a full-time, unpaid job) so I didn’t have time for too much besides lesson plans, teaching, work, and recuperating. I lost my voice, came down with a couple of nasty colds, and drank so. much. coffee.
Since my job search was already taken care of, I also spent time making sure I was on track for my teaching certification. Believe it or not, you can’t just take your classes, do your student teaching, and graduate to be a certified teacher. You also have to do all kinds of online training modules, take a number of standardized exams, fill out a million forms, and make sure you’re first aid and CPR certified. I tried to make the best of all that tedious work but also get it all out of the way as quickly as possible.
I’m obviously a huge fan of my makeup looks, but believe it or not, I wasn’t even my biggest fan. My second graders loved my makeup looks and always had requests for colors and textures I should try. Since I was in their classroom full time, I often tried out their requests and they loved seeing their ideas on my face. One of the biggest perks of living in my own apartment was that I could take my time getting ready in the morning and walk around my whole apartment without worrying about making too much noise or bothering anyone.
In March, I also made what felt like a very adult purchase to me — I bought a new laptop. I’d been using a big bulky laptop my parents bought me for my freshman year of college. My priorities were a lot different back then and that computer just wasn’t fitting with what I needed anymore. I needed something a lot lighter and I realized I didn’t actually care that much about processing speed, storage space, and all that. I decided on a Chromebook because it’s light, portable, and I do everything on Google Drive anyway.
I also decided to deck out my new computer in stickers I got from Redbubble, some of which are obvious and some of which are more subtle references to things I love.
Favorite book: Sharp Objects
April was the month where my student teaching became full time. The way my program worked, it was a gradual takeover. The first couple weeks that I was in the classroom full-time, I observed and assisted. Then, I started teaching one lesson a day. Then, I added on a couple small groups. Pretty soon, I was planning and teaching every lesson for four weeks. After my four weeks of full-time teaching was over, I shed responsibilities the same way I gained them.
I loved this part of the program because it let me experience teaching full-time in a way that wasn’t too overwhelming all at once. I really felt ownership over my lessons and felt connected to my students. I also loved that I’d been in the same classroom all year. It made it way easier when I transitioned into full-time teaching because the students already knew and respected me.
In April, my class also took a field trip. We went to the Virginia Living Museum, which is an environmental museum where students were able to see live animals, learn about their habitats, and learn about conservation. It connected to the habitats and adaptations unit I was teaching in science and it was so cool to really get to experience some real-life learning.
Favorite book: The Roanoke Girls
In college, May is always one of the best months of the whole year because it marks the return of warm weather, the end of classes, and the start of summer. I’ve written before about how much I love finals week, but student teaching made everything a little more complicated this year. Instead of a week and a half of finals before graduation with no classes and just papers to write, I actually taught all the way until two days before I walked at graduation. This meant I missed out on some of the best parts of finals week, but I also didn’t have any papers to write or actual final exams so that part was definitely great.
I still managed to have a ton of fun in May, even though I had to say goodbye to my second graders and goodbye to living in Williamsburg.
Brendan and I spent a lot of time having fun together because we knew it would be our last few weeks of both living in Williamsburg. We did all of our favorite things and even tried some new things. We went on a double date with our friends Kelsey and Sean. We took them to one of our favorite little dives — a seafood restaurant on the James River. It’s the perfect place for a date at sunset and we loved getting to catch up with our wonderful friends.
Bren and I also had the chance to spend a whole day at Busch Gardens. When we ran the Christmastown 8k back in December of 2018, we got discounted tickets to Christmastown as well as free day tickets for the regular season at Busch Gardens. We were so excited to use them to ride all the roller coasters and explore the beautiful park when we could wear shorts instead of bundling up.
The picture below is from when we got to the park. We got there at opening, what theme park buffs call “rope drop,” when we had to wait behind a rope to be let back into the park. We left just a bit before the park closed. We walked 11 miles that day and we must have circled the park a million times. It was incredible and we rode almost every ride. Our favorite was by far Apollo’s Chariot. Probably my favorite roller coaster I’ve ever been on and I highly recommend it if you’re ever at Busch Gardens.
May also marked my second graduation from William & Mary. This time, I graduated with my M.A.Ed. I loved the people in my program and so many of my professors so much. I was so happy to graduate and take my next steps toward my career, but I miss so many of the people that I worked alongside to get this degree.
I decorated my graduation caps for both my bachelor’s and my master’s degrees and I loved the way this year’s came out. I put a quote from teaching icon Ms. Frizzle and I had all of my second graders sign it since they were such an important part of my journey to get this degree.
In May I also finished up my final year working for William & Mary Residence Life. Since I was a Hall Director this year, that meant I had to stay later than everyone else to help close our buildings. I had to make sure each and every key worked (yes our campus uses actual keys, not swipe cards, for the doors), check to make sure every resident moved out and didn’t damage their room, and triple check inventories. I also had to make sure the books balanced, get after people to cash reimbursement checks, and finalize ordering a pool table for one of the halls. It was a ton of work, but I truly loved my time working for Residence Life, especially those times before and after the semester when it was my main focus.
Favorite book: Holes
If you know me, you know summer is far and away my favorite season. In May and June, when I moved back home I spent a lot of time substitute teaching. Our public schools get out in early to mid June so I didn’t get to teach for too long, but I spent a couple days in the school I knew I’d be working at in the fall and I also got to teach in around 10 different elementary schools across the county. It was great to experience so many different schools in just a couple of weeks and every minute I spent in a classroom just reinforced that teaching is what I’m meant to do.
In between teaching random elementary school classes, Brendan and I drove back down to Williamsburg for a couple of weekends over the course of the summer. He is living in an off campus house for his senior year and since his lease started over the summer, we figured we could take advantage of that and have some mini trips.
One of those mini trips was to attend Hope and Zach’s wedding. Hope is one of my best friends from my grad program and it was so wonderful to be there for her marriage to her best friend. I also loved getting to see my other wonderful friends Kate and Austin. We’d only been apart for about a month but after being together so much during grad school, it was good to catch up.
In June I also started fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine — having red hair. I got some Arctic Fox semi-permanent hair dye and went red until it washed out. More on this hair journey later in the year.
As always, my talented sisters were involved in making a musical happen. The first of two this summer was Shrek the Musical through Faquier Community Theater. Abby was the choreographer for the show and Elizabeth was the stage manager. They did an incredible job and the show was so much fun. Brendan, Callie, and I went to see it together and we absolutely loved it.
The thing I missed most in 2018 was having summer adventures with Brendan since he was taking classes and interning in Washington, DC and I was taking grad school classes in Williamsburg. In 2019 though, we more than made up for that lost time. We did some of our favorite things, tried all kinds of new things, and had an amazing summer.
One of the newer things I tried in June was going to a Washington Nationals game. They were having a Star Wars themed day and the first several thousand people got an “Obi-Sean Kenobi” bobblehead of one of the players dressed like Obi-Wan. Of course, we had to get to the park super early to make sure we got the bobblehead. We also had pretty fantastic seats and saw a lot of home runs hit (even though the Nats lost).
In June Brendan also shared one of his favorite somewhat odd pastimes with me. Bren loves going to airports, even when he’s not going on a trip, just to walk around, explore, people-watch, and take in the ambiance. We visited an airport together just for fun and I have to say, it’s definitely a great time. But we’re probably in the minority as people who really like airports!
In June I also subscribed to Book of the Month (referral link gives you a discount and me a book credit!) and I’ve been really enjoying it. I choose one book each month from a curated collection and receive a lovely hardback copy. So far I’ve tried a number of new books I wouldn’t have tried otherwise and I have enjoyed most of what I read. This was a great decision and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a reader like me.
Favorite book: Troubling a Star
July was filled with more fun and adventures. Brendan and I knew this would be the last month we’d be able to spend a ton of time together before my teaching job started and he went back to school in Williamsburg so we tried to do both exciting and mundane fun things, from mini-golfing in town to spending days at the beach.
I also got my first glimpse of the room that would become my classroom. It hadn’t been cleaned yet, was full of all kinds of junk, and was missing any cute touches, but I was so excited to see it and start planning how I’d turn it into a room I loved.
(Keep reading for the “after” picture in August!)
I mentioned in June that we saw the first of two musicals my sisters were involved in over the summer. July brought the second one and wow oh wow how amazing it was. Upper Room Theater Ministry is a cut above when it comes to community theater and their production of Mary Poppins was absolutely incredible. Abby was an ensemble member (her best part, in my opinion, was as a chimney sweep during the huge dance number “Step in Time), Elizabeth was assistant stage manager (and the show truly wouldn’t have happened without her hard work), and my dad was a master carpenter who helped build all the incredible sets (he wouldn’t get his picture taken for the cast and crew wall because he’s too humble).
We also saw yet another Nationals game this month. This time, it was for William & Mary Night at Nats Park, a special collaboration the team does with a number of colleges in the surrounding states. We got to sit in a section with other W&M students and alumni and we got special Nats/W&M co-branded hats. Bren and I went with our friends Josh and Alyssa, but we ran into a bunch of other friends while we were there.
This game is when I learned I’m not such a good luck charm for the Nats. Every game I watch, they lose. So Nats fans, you can thank me for that World Series win because after this game, I stopped watching Nats games altogether.
In July I also read soooooo many books, cleaned out my childhood bedroom, and took a lot of time to relax before my big-girl-job started. Bren and I also tried new restaurants and breweries. One of the best new places we tried this month was 2 Silos Brewing Co., where I discovered that I have a favorite type of beer and it’s hard to find. It’s called a Gose and there’s all kinds of fancy words beer people would tell you about it, but all you need to know is that if you like lime and salt, you’d like this beer.
Favorite book: The Last Time I Lied
In August, we took our family vacation to Walt Disney World. As always, I had an incredible time and even after going so many times, I still managed to try some new things. Elizabeth and I found a new best place to take pictures of Spaceship Earth (in the corner by the bathrooms), we tried new all kinds of new foods, and we even got to go on the Keys to the Kingdom tour, where you go behind the scenes at Magic Kingdom and earn a little bit about how they make the magic happen.
Disney World will always be my happy place and I’ll never get tired of visiting.
I ended up flying home a little earlier than the rest of my family because I had to get to work. As a brand new teacher, I had a few days of orientation I had to attend. Plus, I wanted to make sure I had time to clean out and set up my classroom. That was a huge undertaking because I hadn’t met my students yet, I’d never taught fourth grade, and I had only vague ideas about what our schedule would look like, what kind of systems and routines I wanted to use, and how each day would go. I eventually decided I would just set things up fairly minimally to start and then I would add or tweak as we went along.
Teachers go back to school a couple weeks before students do and while so much of that time is physical labor sweating while setting up the classroom or yawning trying to get through meetings and trainings, some of it was also spent getting to know my coworkers and learning about my school’s culture. I love my staff and I felt welcomed right from the beginning.
When I was a kid, school never started until after Labor Day. That rule has been changed now, so the kids come back to school in the last week of August. I was so nervous on the first day of school, but I (of course) loved my students from the moment I first met them and since that first day we’ve been building a caring, hard-working classroom community.
Favorite book: Big Little Lies
September really saw us getting into the swing of things in school. I was getting to school before everyone else and leaving after everyone else (I’ve gotten better about that!). I was putting so much effort and detail into every single lesson plan and I was trying to make each day go perfectly.
I didn’t take a whole lot of breaks from thinking about work during this month, but I made an exception for my birthday. Brendan drove up from college and spent the day with me. We went out to lunch at Cracker Barrel, had take-out pupusas at my house for dinner, and ate the most delicious Costco sheet cake for dessert. It was a great day and a wonderful way to celebrate turning 23.
My school does a “house system” for positive reinforcement and behavior management across the whole school. (It’s kind of like Harry Potter!) Every student and teacher in the school was randomly assigned to one of four houses. Teachers can give out house points to students who are “caught being good,” following our schoolwide expectations. Each week, the house that’s in the lead gets a shoutout on the announcements. At the end of each quarter, there is a celebration where everyone cheers on the winning house. At the end of the year, the overall winner gets their house name engraved onto a trophy.
The whole school gets really into it and it helps students feel connected to the community in a way that’s bigger than themselves or their class. In September we had our first house assembly, where all the students new to our school were assigned to their houses. It’s a great time and everyone gets decked out in their house spirit. I’m a proud member of the Blue Owls, who represent Kindness.
Another teaching accomplishment for this month — my official teaching license came in the mail! I’d already been teaching for a month and all the paperwork had been filed right after I graduated, but there was a backlog in the state department of education, so it was exciting was it finally became official. With the arrival of these documents, I became officially licensed to teach elementary grades preK-6 and English as a second language grades preK-12.
Favorite book: Leaving Time
October is a tough month for teachers. We have basically no days off, we’re trying our best to get into the swing of things, and everything is getting colder and darker each day. This was another month I focused a lot on work, but I started to get better at stepping away at the end of the day. I got myself into a rhythm of getting to work early, not staying late, and not bringing very much work home.
This month, we took our first field trip. Our county puts on a special event for the elementary schools called “Farm Field Day,” where the kids get to learn about Virginia agriculture, livestock, and industry. They get some hands on experience with farming that most of them would never have the opportunity to otherwise. It’s a super cool trip but oh my goodness I was so stressed out. It was pouring rain, kids and animals were everywhere, and everyone was hungry. But, we all survived, had a great time, and learned a lot.
My sisters’ involvement with theater just keeps going, so in October I went to see yet another musical. This one was at Elizabeth’s high school, where she was the assistant stage manager for Sweeney Todd. I didn’t like the show itself too much, but the students involved did an incredible job with it!
I also got to see Brendan quite a bit in October, which was much needed as it was a stressful time at work. He came up for his fall break and I went down to visit him for William & Mary’s family weekend and homecoming weekend. I’ve always loved homecoming weekend and it was cool to see it from a different perspective. Last year I was technically an alum, but since I was still in graduate school it didn’t feel much different than any other homecoming. This year though, I was truly “coming home” and I loved catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a while and continuing my tradition of having the best time at a tailgate and skipping out on the actual football game.
Of course, the end of October brings Halloween. I’ve never been a huge Halloween fan, but it becomes way more fun when you interact with kids every day. Seeing kids get excited about Halloween makes the holiday way more fun for me.
Our school does a “Book Character Day” on Halloween so of course, I dressed like the main character from one of my students’ favorite books — Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of Stripes. This book is a classic and I loved pulling this costume together. (Also, I let each student try a lima bean, which they had way more fun with than I was expecting.)
Favorite book: Only Human
Teachers often refer to this month as “No-Teach November” because there’s only one full five-day week of school in the whole month. That was fine by me, but it definitely made it harder to keep up with routines and behavior management.
I had my first ever Parent-Teacher Conference Day in November and it went incredibly well. I was really nervous but all my conferences were productive and I was able to meet with most of my students’ families.
November also brought the addition of two new friends to our classroom community. We now have two little painted turtles living in a tank in our classroom. We take care of them every day and measure them each month. Their measurements get sent to one of my family friends who is a biology professor and he uses them for his research.
My students got to vote on names for our sweet turtle friends and I was so happy with what they ended up choosing — Sunshine and Shelley.
When I dyed my hair red in June I told you there’d be more to that hair journey later in this post. Well, here it is. I decided to do something I’ve always wanted to do and get myself some low maintenance ginger hair. I ended up spending around four hours getting a beautiful balayage that I am still absolutely obsessed with. It was so much fun and I still love the way it looks.
I’ve gone down to visit Brendan at least once a month this whole semester and every time I do I’m so thankful for that time. I usually take the train down and back so I have about three hours each way to just sit and read. When I’m down in Williamsburg, Brendan and I do some of our favorite things like walking around in Colonial Williamsburg or exploring the woods near campus, we hang out with our friends, we try new restaurants, and we go to sporting events. Whatever we do, I never focus on work and I always focus on that word of the year — delight. It’s restorative, joyful, and has been some of my favorite time this year.
One of the things Brendan has gotten into in his senior year is our campus’s radio station. This semester he had a show every Saturday evening and I loved listening while I was away and sitting with him in the station while I was in town. A couple of times I even got to talk on the radio, which was a super cool expereince.
The last musical I attended this year was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, put on by Fauqier Community Theater. Abby was once again the choreographer and once again the show was wonderful. This one was about the true meaning of Christmas and being kind to everyone, so it was obviously a hit for me.
Favorite book: The Sea of Monsters
So much has happened in the month of December that those November events I just wrote about seem incredibly far away.
Teaching in December is absolute madness but my students and I got through it together. They earned a special reward through their good behavior (we were working hard on not talking while the teacher is teaching) and they decided they wanted to have “Blanket Day,” a day where they got to wear their comfiest clothes, bundle up in their blankets, and cozy up with stuffed animals to read some books. They also took a math test that day, which they absolutely rocked. Moments like Blanket Day make some of the harder times so worth it and this day really reinforced the importance of having students invested in their own rewards.
I felt so accomplished after running the Busch Gardens Christmastown 8k last year that I immediately signed up for the 2019 race. This year I trained a lot more, but I was battling some pretty nasty shin splints, so that evened out to almost exactly the same finish time as last year. I was incredibly proud of myself and I definitely want to run this race again next year and maybe even try a 10k sometime in the near future.
While I was down in Williamsburg for the race, Brendan and I also went to Christmastown using our discounted tickets. As always, it was magical and perfect. We saw all our favorite shows, admired the beautiful lights, and drank some of the famous hot chocolate.
A new Star Wars movie came out this month and while I don’t want to talk about Rise of Skywalker (not my favorite), I had a great time seeing the movie in a fancy looking theater with some of my favorite people.
If I included photos of all the fun things I did this month, my website would probably crash. I participated in the “12 wacky days before winter break” spirit days at my school, bought and received gifts from my staff Secret Santa, went out to happy hour and made new friends from work, went to our staff holiday party at my principal’s house, took my students on a field trip to see The Nutcracker, supported my students at our school’s chorus and strings winter concert, went to a few basketball games, went to Kate and Daniel’s wedding, celebrated Christmas, and bought my first car. Wow!
Favorite book: Thirteen
2019 was an incredible year. I had a lot of accomplishments, tried new things, had a lot of fun, and grew a lot. I’m ready for 2020 and I’m excited to see what the new year brings. 2019 was a transition year for me and I’m hoping that in 2020 I’ll start to feel more settled and at peace rather than constantly on the go and constantly changing like I did this year.
Stay on the lookout for a post about what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2020 as well as my vision board and word of the year.
How was your 2019? What was your biggest accomplishment this year? What was the most fun new thing you tried? What are you most looking forward to in 2020? Leave a comment down below and let’s chat about it!