Math = Love: 2016: Year In Review

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016: Year In Review

I had planned to start this blog post with a short blurb about how this is something I do every single year.  But, I just went back to read last year's "year in review" post, and I apparently didn't write it.  Oops...  I guess this is something I do *almost* every year.

At the end of 2016, I read soooooooo many tweets and facebook posts about how 2016 was the worst year ever.  But, for me, it was the best year ever.


January began "down under."  I traveled to Australia last December to spend Christmas with my then-fiance.  During that trip, we journeyed to Sydney for Shaun's K-1 visa interview.  This was a really big deal because if this interview didn't go well, we wouldn't be able to get married according to our plan.  Thankfully, we had all the right paperwork, and we were approved!

We said a teary goodbye on January 2nd, and I set out to fly from Adelaide to Melbourne to LA to Dallas to Tulsa.  When I landed in LA, there was a problem with the cargo hold on our A380.  It would not open which meant we could not get out our luggage to make the trek through customs.  When the problem was finally solved and I had made it through customs, I had missed my flight from LA to Dallas.  After waiting in line for 2+ hours to get on another flight, I was told that they would have to put me up in a hotel in LA since the next flight out was such a long wait.  This began my first and only experience of California.  I walked out of the airport to catch a bus to the hotel, but I quickly became overwhelmed and burst into tears.  At this point, I was ready to go back in the airport and just wait it out there.  Eventually, I got over my fear of the the crazy LA traffic and found the bus.  I went to my hotel room to take a shower and have a nap.  Then, I had pizza and took a bus back to the airport.  I ended up having to fly from LA to Atlanta, then I flew from Atlanta to Tulsa.

It was a mess getting back home, and I have no desire to ever go back to LA.  My parents picked me up at the airport and brought me my car so I could drive home.  Within a few hours of getting home, my legs started hurting like crazy.  I was convinced that I must have developed a blood clot from all of my flying.  The flight from Melbourne to LA is almost 15 hours alone all by itself.  My parents took me to the doctor.  Luckily, I didn't have a blood clot, but I did have both a sinus infection and pneumonia.

My students participated in the 2016 Challenge (updated 2017 Challenge posted here).


I also continued the annual tradition of Universal Letter Writing Week.

Australia. Flew back to US. Stranded in LA. Atlanta. Pneumonia. Bronchitis. Shaun's visa arrived. 2016 Challenge.  Universal Letter Writing Week.


The most notable happening of February was that Shaun moved to America!

This meant that we had about a month to prepare for our March 12th wedding.  Thus, February consisted of buying wedding rings, a wedding cake, wedding flowers, supplies to make wedding programs, and a zillion other things.


Shaun's family flew to America at the beginning of March.  They were a huge help with lots of last minute wedding prep.  I ended up taking off school the week before Spring Break in order to get everything ready for our wedding which was the Saturday before Spring Break.

And, here's the reason why 2016 was the best year ever!

My necklace featured the digits of pi, and it was made by the lovely Katherine.  I took a huge risk and ordered my wedding dress from Amazon (affiliate link).  I ended up LOVING it!

After the wedding, we had a mini honeymoon in Bricktown.  We had a lot of paperwork to get done on Spring Break before I had to had to head back to school, so we decided it made since to take a mini honeymoon right after our wedding and a longer trip during the summer.

I came back to school as Mrs. Carter.  This was a hard adjustment for my students.

For Easter, I tried my hand at making an Australian favorite: Hot Cross Buns.  I had never eaten one before, but I ended up LOVING them.

Another thing that happened in March was that Shaun and I had our minds blown by James Tanton and his exploding dots.


April was consumed by grad school.  I had to finish my literature review for my action research project (you can read my finished research project here) and start my last class for my master's.  My students were busy taking end-of-instruction exams.


In May, I finished both my 4th year of teaching and my master's program.  Shaun and I made the trek to Arlington, Texas so I could walk across the stage and receive my diploma.  Since I did my master's program entirely online, I wanted to do something in person to make it seem more "real."

We took time to do a tiny bit of sight-seeing on our way back home which was nice.

After school was out, more excitement happened.  Shaun was offered a job working at Drumright.  It was such a relief for us to be done with the job hunt!  And, this meant we would be working at the SAME school!

I designed my own teacher planner for the new school year using the Arc System from Staples.

Shaun and I also volunteered at a golf tournament for our local education foundation.  Our job was to verify if anyone got a hole-in-one at a certain hole.


In June, we took a road trip that we dubbed our "summer honeymoon."  We spent time in Missouri and Arkansas.

Shaun got to have his first-ever theme park experience at Silver Dollar City.  I even convinced him to get on a roller coaster or two!

We spent a lot of time hiking and swimming.  It really was a great vacation!

My diploma came in the mail which was super exciting!


Shaun and I attended two workshops in June.  We spent three days at the Math Teachers' Circle Summer Immersion Workshop.

We also attended the OCTM Summer Workshop.  I blogged summaries of almost all of the sessions we attended.

At the beginning of June, we celebrated Shaun's 29th birthday with the best chocolate cake.  We skipped the icing, and instead I made homemade whipped cream to go between the layers.  Yum!

Shaun's family got him a bread machine (affiliate link) for his birthday.  We have used this bread machine SO much this year!  I love being able to put in the ingredients at night, set the timer, and wake up to fresh bread in the morning.



Shaun and I attended an OERB Workshop in July so he could receive three free graphing calculators for his classroom.  I roped him into helping me make stellated icosahedrons to hang up in my new classroom.

We also made two life changing purchases.

The previous tenants in my classroom had a habit of stapling stuff to the wall.  There were hundreds of staples that would need to be pulled out.  I had remembered some #MTBoSers talk about the magic of flat staple removers (affiliate link) a few years back.  I ordered two off of Amazon (one for me and one for the husband), and we were SO happy with ourselves.

If you spend any time at all pulling staples out of walls or bulletin boards, you must buy one now!  It is magnetic, so the staples you pull out stick to it.  It is truly magic!

We also bought an Amazon Basics Shredder (affiliate link).  It makes going through our junk mail so much easier.

We also finally got around to putting together our guest book from our wedding in July.  We used an album (affiliate link) that held 8" x 8" papers.  Guests at our wedding were invited to write a message or draw a picture for us on pieces of card stock (cut to 8" squares) to be put in our guestbook album.  It ended up turning out super cute!



In August, I started my 5th year of teaching.  Our district had to combine our middle school and high school into a single building due to huge budget issues at the state level.  This meant I had to decorate a brand new classroom!  You can see pictures of all of my new classroom decorations here.

I won a free document camera (affiliate link) from Ipevo.

I was making so many new activities for my classroom that I decided to order a second laminator (affiliate link) to keep at home.

After so many years of playing Witzzle with my students, I finally found a used copy on ebay to buy.

Shaun and I kept up our trend of making adult purchases.  In August, we bought electric toothbrushes and a laser printer to replace the inkjet printer I'd been using since I started college.


In September, I attended another OERB Workshop.  This was a science workshop, however, because I am now teaching a physical science class.  This was never in my plans, but we had a science teacher last year retire who was not replaced due to budget cuts.  I got loads of free science supplies for my classroom!  I blogged about the workshop and the supplies I received here.

ThinkFun sent me a set of MathDice (affiliate link) to use with my students.

Shaun started playing the guitar at church which has helped us get more involved.  The other exciting thing that happened was I got a new phone.  I wasn't planning on getting a new phone, but I accidentally dunked my old phone in a glass of water.  :(


Thankfully, October brought with it a 3 day break known as Fall Break.  I became a bit obsessed with the Great British Bake Off.  I started watching the original first season on YouTube.  I tried out some of the recipes including a Victoria Sponge and a Cobb Loaf.

I got part of my grant stuff in the mail.  I ordered giant, group-sized dry erase boards and hundreds of markers.

My SmartBoard projector died.  The school ordered a replacement bulb, but after it was installed the projector would not stay on for more than 30 seconds.  So, I spent almost two months of the school year without a projector.  This was TOUGH.

I introduced my students to the 5-4-3-2-1 Challenge.

ThinkFun sent me some games to test out in my classroom and write reviews of.  I reviewed both Shape Logic and Brick Logic.

Probably the biggest thing that happened in October was that Shaun and I bought a new (to us) car!  When Shaun moved here, we were waiting on him to get his green card and driver's license straightened out before we bought a second car.  Then, when he got a job at the same school as me, it became much less of a priority on our to-do list.  Over Fall Break, we finally decided to make it happen.

We ended up buying a 2015 Toyota Corolla from Hertz.  It was a former rental car, and we are completely happy with it! It's the newest car either of us have ever owned.  And, we're kind of in love with the reversing camera.


I celebrated my 27th birthday in November.  We celebrated by trying a new to us restaurant: Pie Five.  We also went to downtown Stillwater for some yummy gelato.  I got lots of new kitchen gear for my birthday which made me super happy.

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family.  This was Shaun's first ever Thanksgiving.  We ate waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy too much!  It was suprisingly warm for November, so Shaun taught my family how to play bocce (affiliate link).

I continued my baking obsession by baking myself a birthday cake and making crescent rolls.

The rest of my grant materials (science and measurement supplies) arrived!

 Cake pans. Flour and sugar containers.   Thanksgiving.  Bocce.  Grant materials finally arrived!  Baked crescent rolls.


My physical science students grew "Chemistrees."

As my students were working on semester tests, I worked on organizing my classroom and sorting all the activities I had created during the first semester of the year.  I blogged more about my organization system here.

Almost as soon as Christmas Break had began, I came down with Strep Throat.  This was definitely not fun.  Antibiotics took care of my sore throat pretty quickly, but I was plagued with a mild cold over Christmas.  :(  We celebrated Shaun's first American Christmas with my family.  We got lots of games for Christmas which kept us super occupied.  Our favorites have been Mobi, Three Up Three Down, Don't Take My Word, and Tic Stac Toe.

My parents got Shaun a disc bocce set for Christmas.  Lucky for us, the discs are in the colors of America and Australia!

Shaun asked for a cricket bat for Christmas.  We bought PVC pipe at Lowe's so he could make his own cricket stumps.  It was warm enough one day in December for us to play an afternoon of backyard cricket.  I'm definitely still learning how this whole cricket thing works.

For Christmas, I asked for an exercise bike (affiliate link).  I haven't used it very much yet due to battling what seems like illness after illness after illness.

We had my parents and sister over to our house for New Year's Eve.  We made pizza for lunch and pavlova for dessert.  We spent the afternoon playing games and watching the Great British Bake Off.

I realize now why Australians make pavlova in the summer!  It was super hard to find fresh fruit to decorate with in the middle of winter.

And, that was just some of what happened in 2016.  It turns out that doing life with your best friend/husband is pretty amazing.


  1. Wow Sarah you have had a great year. Your summary was interesting to read. So many life changing things! Can you suggest to Shaun that he write a post about the differences between US and Aussie schools and teaching. Cheers, Jeff@webmaths

  2. Sarah......I just found your blog today after looking through your Interactive Student Notebooks on Pinterest. I literally missed the entire Cowboys/Packers playoff game this afternoon because I was so intrigued with your ideas.

    I live in Tulsa and I am a pre-service student at NSU (Secondary Math Ed). I would love to come observe your class sometime and talk with you more about ISN's.

    And I agree......flat staple removers are where it's at!!!!