The Significance of Education

Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to discuss a topic that’s been on my mind as we begin this new school year. Our education here in the USA may have its faults, but I am so grateful to be able to learn the things that I do in school and get the experience of going to a wonderful public school and getting involved in activities through the programs it offers. I figured I could explain how big of a part school has always been in my life and why we should all value the educational opportunities offered to us.

One of the main reasons the academic aspect of school has always been so important to me is because until I started high school, I really didn’t have any extracurricular activities. When I was younger I dabbled in many sports, art, even cooking classes, etc., but nothing ever stuck. I didn’t want to continue doing anything I didn’t like, so I didn’t continue with any of the activities I attempted. The main things I did in my free time were read, write, and spend time online reading articles or watching videos. My whole life when I was little was basically going to school and then hanging out with friends and family.

I absolutely LOVE reading, but I used to do it way more often. I learned to read before I was three, and I would devour books- my personal collection spanned half of an entire wall full of shelves when I was younger; now it’s reduced to three small shelves in my room. I ran out of time and became more interested in spending time with friends once I entered middle school, but my love of reading definitely shaped my perspective on a lot of things as a young child. However, I was able to continue connecting with literature inside of school, as middle school was when we started really jumping into reading full books in English class. Now reading different books in English class is probably my favorite thing out of anything we do in high school classes, since we actually read really good books and some of the classics.

I always placed a lot of importance on my grades, since they were my only way to show some form of achievement; I still wasn’t in activities and I cared a lot about school, so I felt a lot of pressure to excel. Looking back there was no reason to stress so much over middle school classes, but I’m glad that I at least set good habits for myself before going to high school. I always performed well fairly naturally on state-testing and whatever else in early elementary school, but in fifth grade I had to start studying and putting genuine effort into what I did. In middle school I was definitely a bit of a try-hard (again, only with actual academics, not activities); I didn’t choose to try testing into skipping two years of math, but I tested into skipping one year. I took all the honors classes that were available in middle school, and I worked hard to do well in them.

I got my first B on a report card in seventh grade honors English- I was devastated, but not surprised since I didn’t like my teacher and she was known for being a difficult grader. This was a huge blow to my self-esteem- yes, I knew that it didn’t matter that much, and I knew that I couldn’t expect perfection from myself all the time, but I still was very disappointed. If I wasn’t involved in anything outside of school and had all the time in the world to study and such, why couldn’t I have done something more to improve that grade? The next grading period I also got a B in that class, but by the end of the year I worked up to an A; that was one of the best feelings to know that my hard work had paid off.

I complain about the stress of school a lot, but I put pretty much all of it onto myself. School has clearly always been my top priority in life, and I’ve always been driven to work hard while I’m there. When it comes down to it, I think I like the feeling of being challenged and working hard to see the results of (hopefully) good grades. I also enjoy learning a lot; I find something that’s interesting to me about almost every class and subject (looking at you, ninth grade honors biology), and I continue to see concepts from school in everyday life as I grow older. This is the reason I value education so much: because I love to learn, I love to know that I’m growing as a person, and I actually like working hard.

It’s important that we appreciate school and all the teachers/mentors in our lives; you all may have different stories about what education means to you, but the bottom line is that there’s some significance there for everyone. Whether it’s about the activities, academics, the friends you meet there, or just the overall experience, there’s something to appreciate no matter what your interests are. We should all spend some time reflecting on what our school experiences have done for us as far as personal growth in our lives so far; it’s a great thing to consider as we enter this new school year and prepare ourselves to grow more!

I hope this gave you guys some more insight on my relationship with school and academics, as well as helping some of you reflect on your personal experiences with education. Something tells me this school year is going to be amazing- let’s all soak up as much knowledge as we can and make the most of everyday. I’m always here to answer questions and take requests for future content- keep an eye out for new posts!

-Brooke

Let’s Talk: Growing Up in Southern California / the LA Area

Welcome back everyone!

A lot of people dream of moving to California, spending days at the beach, and becoming famous- but what about the people who just, you know… live here? I am one of those people; I live about an hour from downtown LA, but only a half hour from Malibu. My parents were both raised in this area and chose to stay/raise their kids here as well. It’s a beautiful place with nice weather year-round, but it’s definitely not as glamorous as you might think- it’s VERY expensive for even a condo or small house, and we just live in the suburbs. I’m going to talk a bit more about living here, so keep reading if you’re interested!

First of all, there’s obviously the proximity to so many cool things. The city, the beach, Santa Monica Pier, Disneyland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, Mammoth; the list goes on. Surprisingly, most of the people in my town actually don’t go to Los Angeles that often. Melrose is probably the most popular place because of all the restaurants and the trading post on Sundays, but I probably only go to LA a few times a year.

Obviously if you’re older and can drive or if you go to events/concerts a lot, you would venture out there more, but for me there’s not many reasons to. Personally, I prefer Third Street Promenade (Santa Monica) to Melrose because you can go to the Santa Monica Pier or the beach there, but both places are fun. Malibu beaches are a lot closer to where I live and everyone loves the beach anyways, so that’s the most popular weekend hangout spot if anyone’s driving anywhere.

Another thing is the general availability of tons of restaurants, things to do, shopping, etc. Even without driving to the city, there’s lots to do in the suburb I live in. It’s a pretty wealthy area for the most part (not everyone is wealthy, but a lot of people are- especially people who work in the city but live here), and there’s a lot of malls, food options, and shopping centers. There will always be a Starbucks in a 2 or 3-mile radius wherever you are in my town and the neighboring towns, and there’s a combination of pretty much every chain store (affordable and luxury) and little boutiques in the shopping centers/malls. New restaurants open up often, but there’s also quite a few places that have been here since my parents were young.

California is known for the nice weather and lack of cold- there’s lots of things to do outside and there’s beautifully maintained parks everywhere. I love taking walks with my friends through their neighborhood parks/my neighborhood park. It lightly rains a decent amount of days in the winter, but that’s the only time you’ll really need a jacket besides chilly nights. Days in the winter/spring months will often start out chilly in the morning, until the sun comes out in the early afternoon and heats the temperatures up.

As I mentioned before, everything is REALLY expensive- food, housing, going out, etc. My parents both work “normal” jobs, and we would have a way more luxurious lifestyle in cheaper states than we do here; that’s just the cost of living in this nice of an area. We don’t take vacations very often (I wanted to give a disclaimer about my Europe trip: that was actually paid for in part by my dad’s Rotary club, we ended up taking that trip due to his required presence at an international Rotary convention for club presidents, and there was plenty of time to save for it since it was planned over a year in advance), our house is in a pretty nice neighborhood but a bit farther from the school I attend, my parents both have modest cars, and we overall just have to be conscious of spending. I guess if you don’t have kids/a family it’s easier to manage, but it’s still kind of insane.

The public schools are very good in my area- this might just be because it’s in the suburbs and not the actual city, but I still thought I would mention it. I go to a fairly well-ranked public high school and there are tons of sports/activities/other programs, and I think our statistics as far as average SAT and such are higher than the state or country average. Lots of graduates from my school go on to attend prestigious universities like the UC schools and Ivy Leagues. That’s another thing- living in California, the UCs are amazing public universities that we get in-state tuition to! I know lots of people from out of state dream of going to these colleges, but it can be very expensive; being in-state is still expensive because college just is, but it’s nice to know that these great schools are slightly more affordable for us residents.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention the importance of driving and having a car. If you’re in the city there’s public transportation and Uber, but where I live having a car is definitely still essential. I guess that’s kind of obvious because I live in the suburbs, but still; everything is sprawling (even in LA!) and there’s tons of traffic. I spend so much time in the car- the traffic in my area has gotten worse as more people have moved here for work. In my county, there’s not a real central location. Most people end up driving from town to town for work, to see friends, to shop, etc., and because of traffic, all the towns are about 15-20 minutes away from each other!

I hope this gave you some more insight on what it’s like to live in Southern California, near all the LA hustle and bustle. I honestly don’t take advantage of the amazing location as much as I should, but that’s just what happens when you grow up here. I’m always here to answer questions and take requests for future content- stay on the lookout for new posts coming soon!

-Brooke

High School FAQ

Welcome back everyone!

Today I plan to answer a lot of common questions that I hear or get asked about starting high school. I’m currently a sophomore so I’m not exactly an expert in all things high school, but I think I actually have a good perspective since I’m not a freshman now, but I was only a short time ago. My answers are based off of my own personal experiences from last year so they may not be relatable to everyone, but I think for the most part they are fairly universal/general.

  • Are the upperclassmen mean? – I feel like a lot of people are scared about this one because of stereotypical bullies in teen movies, but you probably won’t even see the upperclassmen that much unless you’re ahead in your classes for some reason or are in activities with them. Some of them will be slightly rude/just indifferent, but some will actually be pretty nice! It helps if you have older siblings or older family friends.
  • Will I get lost? – It depends on how big your school is; either way, you won’t get lost beyond help. Make sure you have a map of the school and figure out a general idea of where your classes are beforehand, but even if you wander a little bit you will be fine. If you have a small school, I wouldn’t even worry about it. No matter what school you go to, teachers will be understanding if you’re a little late on the first day and people may even be out in the halls to help you find your way.
  • Are the teachers meaner/harder/etc. ? – This really depends on what types of classes you are taking and what teachers you actually get. There are some WONDERFUL teachers and some less than desirable teachers at almost every school; you just have to cross your fingers and hope you get the good ones. I found that high school teachers were actually a little bit more chill- even if they gave a lot of work, their personalities were a lot more laid-back in the classroom than middle school teachers.
  • Will I be able to handle AP/honors classes and should I take them? – It’s kind of a personal preference; if you want to be challenged and are okay with a heavier workload, I would TOTALLY recommend taking them. It’s great to boost your GPA and it will be helpful for college admission later, but I find that the classes are a lot more interesting and stimulating as well. If you have a lot of activities or school isn’t really your thing, that’s totally fine too- focus on what you like.
  • What if I have problems with my schedule or anything of that sort? – Go see your counselor! They are there to help you and make this transition easier whenever you need something. It’s easier than you think to get a schedule change or fix something like that, and your counselor will usually be able to accomodate most of your needs within just a few minutes of explaining your situation. It’s also nice just to get to know them and drop in so there’s another friendly face on campus- they can help you a lot later on with college.
  • How do I find out about school events? – I would suggest following your school’s social media accounts if they have any, or just keeping up with their website and activities/athletics calendars (whether those are online or posted at school) if they don’t. Flyers will often be posted around school for various events, and if your school does morning announcements they will be broadcasted there. I would definitely recommend attending rallies and sports games (especially football games!) plus any other interesting or traditional events/shows your school puts on.
  • How do I meet new people/make friends with them? – Just make the effort to get out of your comfort zone and talk to them! I would start with the people in your classes since you already have one thing in common- taking the same class. You’ll need a homework help/study buddy eventually, so strike up a conversation with the people who sit near you and exchange numbers. Eventually you’ll probably do some sort of group work/projects and some friendships will stem from there. Also, mutual friends are great to become close with- as your friends meet new people and introduce them to you, be friendly and make an effort to get to know them.
  • Do I need a lot of supplies? – You only need the basics, honestly. Teachers will tell you up-front the first week of school if you need anything extra/out-of-the-ordinary or they prefer you to use something specific for their class, so don’t buy a lot before the first day. Get pens, pencils, paper, folders/notebooks, highlighters, etc. I actually wrote a post about high school school supply essentials, so go check it out if you haven’t already!
  • How do I get involved? – Join whatever you’re interested in! There’s most likely tons of organizations/clubs/programs/electives on campus, so there will be something for everyone. If you don’t know where to start, ask your friends what they’re joining- don’t make your decisions based on this, but it definitely is comforting to have a friend there as well. Try things out and attend a couple events/practices/meetings before committing though; you never know what you will or won’t like.
  • What should I do if I start feeling super stressed and overwhelmed? – It depends what level your feelings are at. If it’s right at the beginning of the year, it might just be the general new school adjustment and it’s best to wait it out a bit. If you’re farther into the year and things are still too crazy, you might want to look at your commitments. Maybe drop a difficult class you don’t enjoy, or quit a club you’re not that dedicated to. If you’re struggling with time-management in general, start using a planner and cutting down on procrastination.

I hope this Q&A type thing answered a lot of your guys’ questions. I know it’s a scary transition from middle school to high school, but I promise it’s not that bad and you’ll be adjusted in no time. I’ve been pre-writing these posts and I actually am writing this one on my second-to-last day of summer, but by now I am in school and most of you guys probably are too! After the next couple posts go up I will probably start posting in-real-time again, and I will let you guys know what my new posting schedule is. I’m always here to answer more questions and take requests for new content- keep an eye out!

-Brooke

Summer 2019 – Reflection

Welcome back everyone!

My summer has officially come to an end, and it was definitely one for the books; from my Europe trip to pool days to cheer practices to my 15th birthday, I definitely experienced a lot of different things. I’m sad to let go of so much relaxing free time, but I’m grateful for all of the amazing times I had. I want to acknowledge all the memories I made this summer as a final goodbye, now that I’m saying hello to the school year and becoming a sophomore!

This summer immediately began with my mom, my brother, and I packing our things and heading to LAX to meet up with my dad in Europe. It was my first time going out of the country and Paris had always been my dream destination; landing there and getting my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower was so surreal. We saw all the main attractions in Paris, but we were only there for a few days; soon we were off, flying into the Naples airport to begin our journey through Italy. One of my favorite parts of the trip was our two and a half day excursion in Sorrento (on the Amalfi coast) where I got to swim in the Mediterranean Sea. We spent a few days in Rome, then two days in Florence and Venice each. The trip was 16 days, but it felt longer and shorter than that at the same time- soon we were home bound. I would go into more detail, but I dedicated a blog post to each day we were there- go read them if you haven’t already!

Speaking of my European vacation kicking off the summer, I also started this blog. I had been planning on starting a blog for a while, but I waited until departing for my trip since I knew that would come with a bunch of built-in content. I signed up on WordPress and came up with my blog name and all that stuff as I waited at the gate for our flight to Paris. I’ve been posting almost daily since creating it, and it’s been such a fun experience; I’m so glad I bit the bullet and finally did it. The content I’ve been writing has definitely fluctuated a lot- at first I solely wrote about my trip/travel, then random parts of my life, then academic advice, and now I post a bit of everything. It’s been such a fun journey, and I love having an online space to express my thoughts.

As soon as I got home and unpacked my suitcase, things got busy again. I started to take a summer school course to get ahead in credits (AP Psychology, to be exact- go check out my posts on this!) and it was fully online. I was still working on my blog, I helped out at some volunteer events in my community, and I was spending some time with friends since I had missed everyone while I was on my trip. My grandparents unexpectedly came to visit my family and stayed at our house for almost two weeks; it was quite cramped and chaotic at times, but it was nice to see them. We went to the movies, had a lot of family meals, went swimming, spent the 4th of July together, and I had a girls’ day out with my grandma. They brought their dog with them (for reference, my dad claims he’s allergic to dogs so I’ve never had one) and it was fun to have a dog in the house- miraculously, my dad had no allergic reactions! My grandparents’ dog is also not hypoallergenic, in case you were wondering…

When my grandparents left, I had a few days of peace before going to yearbook camp. In those days, I went to the beach twice (both for friends’ birthday parties) and got a ton of my psychology course completed. I then headed to yearbook camp with two of my closest friends and the 11 other attending staff members that I didn’t know yet. It was a four-day camp at Chapman University, and I had the best time. I posted about each day, so you should check those posts out if you haven’t already! I learned so much about yearbook as a newbie on the staff this year, and everyone was so nice and welcoming. Plus, living in the dorms with one of my best friends as a roommate was pretty cool- we had a ton of freedom inbetween classes and there was a Starbucks on campus.

Right around the time I returned from yearbook camp was when my high school cheer team began practicing again. I had missed a bunch of practices while I was in Europe, and as soon as I had returned our dead period (scheduled break from practicing) started. This made me a bit nervous to return since I figured I would be even more out of shape than everyone else, but it ended up being fine; there was just a lot of conditioning. Cheer camp was the next week, so we had two practices a day the weekend leading up to it in order to prepare. Before I knew it, I was packing my suitcase again to head to cheer camp.

It was another four-day camp, held at the Knott’s Berry Farm resort hotel in Buena Park and hosted by USA (United Spirit Association). There were four girls in every hotel room, and it was based on your stunt groups. It was definitely a grueling experience since we were outside in the heat for about 10 hours a day and the food wasn’t the best, but it was a huge bonding experience for our team. Additionally, there was one night where camp sessions ended early so we could go to the theme park, and we all had so much fun. By the end of the camp, I was definitely ready to come home though. I also covered this whole camp on this blog, so check those posts out as well!

Since the end of cheer camp, my schedule has gotten a bit more regular. We still had cheer practices most weekdays (getting halftime routines ready for football season!), but I still had lots of time in my day to finish my Psychology course, go back to taking tumbling classes, keep up with my blog, do my summer reading, and become an editor for Polyphony Lit (a teen literary magazine). I’ve also been volunteering at my local animal shelter, which was something I did during the school year as well, and I got to spend more time with my friends. My 15th birthday was on August 14th, so I got to have a day of celebration as well. I had cheer and sophomore orientation for school on my birthday so I didn’t do anything that special, but I still got to choose restaurants for lunch and dinner.

Now that summer is over and my sophomore year has begun, I’ve just been looking back at everything I did these past few months. In the moment it didn’t seem like much, but I now realize I did a LOT, some of it unexpectedly. At first I regretted not being able to spend more time at home, recharging before the next school year, but I now realize that having a productive summer was exactly what I wanted (and needed) all along. First of all, my trip was amazing, but once I came home I still had so many other opportunities waiting and so many plans set in place. I’m grateful to have gotten to explore places as beautiful as France and Italy, and I’m also grateful for all the other experiences I had this summer once I was back home.

I hope you guys enjoyed this type of summer-in-review post. Maybe it will inspire you to reflect on all the wonderful memories you made this summer! I’m always sad to leave the warm months behind, but I’m actually really excited to dive into sophomore year. This past summer in addition to everything I experienced freshman year have taught me a lot, and I’m ready to use that knowledge to my advantage going forward. As always, I’m here to answer questions and I’m always taking requests for future content. Keep an eye out for new posts, and I’ll be figuring out my school-year posting schedule soon!

-Brooke

How I Study – High School Study Tips

Hello everyone!

Now that I am back in school, I’ve had to get back into my study routine. Last year (my freshman year), I learned a lot about effective ways to study; I had always just done basic review of material for big tests in middle school, but in high school I needed to study everything, and there are many quizzes/tests a week. If you guys are trying to figure out what works for you and the best ways to approach studying, keep reading for some tips!

  • Use Quizlet – Quizlet is an absolute lifesaver; since it’s on your phone you can study anywhere, anytime. If you’re taking an AP course or a popular course at your school, there might even be Quizlets already made for your tests. I like using the Learn feature and then testing myself over and over, it’s the best for vocab.
  • Use physical flash cards – The classic way to memorize vocab terms and such, physical flash cards are always great. Writing things out helps you remember, and you and your friends can use them to quiz each other.
  • Look up practice tests/questions online – This is especially helpful for bigger tests or AP tests. I also do this a lot for tests on literature; there’s always tons of multiple choice tests you can take out there to review the material, and they might end up being similar to your actual test.
  • Watch YouTube summary videos/videos related to topics – These are good refreshers that present the information in a new and exciting way. I like John Green’s Crash Course videos for different history concepts (I’m not sure if he does other subjects) but you can search anything and some videos will come up.
  • Read SparkNotes and/or LitCharts – Don’t substitute reading the actual text for these websites, but they can aid in your understanding of more complex books. They also are an easy way to brush up on the plot and characters before a test.
  • Call a friend and quiz each other – Sometimes you just need to talk everything out and go through your notes/other things you’ve written down with someone else. Whether over the phone or in person, quiz your friend and have them quiz you in return- this works best if you have some sort of study guide to go off of.
  • Make your own study guide with questions, formulas, etc. – Study guides are a wonderful tool, and writing out your own can help you remember the information in the process before you even start studying off of it. Put all important dates/formulas/characters (it depends on the class) and other concepts, terms and definitions, all that good stuff!
  • Rewrite the most important parts of your notes – As I’ve stated before, writing things out really helps you remember them. Rewrite your notes neatly but try to make them even more concise, similar to making a study guide.
  • Redo homework problems (mainly math/science) – Working through the trickiest problems from a unit will prepare you for your math or science test. It’s best to do problems from your already-corrected homework because you’ll have the correct answers and work with you.

I hope these tips help you study for all of your tests throughout the year and possibly inspired you to get ahead on your studying right now. Once you settle into a routine and familiarize yourself with the general class material, it will become easier to keep going throughout the rest of the year. You’ll quickly discover what works for you and develop specialized study habits for each of your classes. I am confident you will all study hard and pass your tests with flying colors! Remember, I’m always here to answer questions or take requests for future content ideas.

-Brooke

How to Utilize Your School’s Resources

Welcome back everyone!

There is a plethora of resources at your fingertips during high school, all at the courtesy of your school. Some of these resources can really help you figure out how to plan for the future/for college, so it’s important to utilize them. Besides, they’re free! I’m going to give you a few of my tips and recommendations for how to take advantage of some of the things available to you at your school. As a disclaimer, I go to a public high school in southern California that is ranked fairly well; different types of schools in different locations may have more or less resources in comparison.

  • Use websites such as Naviance that you are given an account through your school for – Naviance is a college-planning website that has lots of surveys you can take, search tools for finding your perfect fit school, and a personal profile area where you can build a resume, plus much more! If your school gives you an account, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out. Any other websites or special software programs that your school has you use are great to use at home as well.
  • Go talk to your guidance counselor and the designated college & career counselor as much as possible – These people are there for a reason; they (should) have knowledge about the college admissions process and everything your high-school self may need help with, so talk to them while they’re there! Getting to know them is great for your personal comfort, but also for furthering your academic career.
  • Use your student ID for any discounts or benefits available – Being a student can get you discounts at lots of places, with both local stores/restaurants and chains. Also, they usually get you into all of your school’s sports games for free. Keep your ID with you all the time so you can take advantage of these benefits.
  • Apply for scholarships through your school’s scholarship foundation or through other organizations that your school has partnerships with/promotes – My school has a scholarship foundation as well as a yearly list of local scholarships seniors can apply to. I would recommend applying for as many as you can, and asking your counselor if there is a master list for your area similar to what I described.
  • Go to school/district sponsored college fairs and/or career fairs – These events are great opportunities to get in touch with different schools/companies in a way that you couldn’t otherwise. It’s super important to go if you can; talk to as many people as possible to soak up all the information.
  • If your school offers online classes/summer school, take those courses at your discretion – I know some schools/districts/states have free online courses (even higher level ones like APs), so if you need a GPA boost or something to do over the summer, sign up for one! My school district has a similar program but it’s not free, so it’s not as beneficial.
  • Use the library!! – Between being able to check out books, use the computers, and print papers, there are so many ways you can take advantage of using the library. It’s also just a great place to study and get work done whenever you’re stuck at school but don’t have anything else to do.
  • Join clubs/programs/sports/electives that interest you – Obviously these programs come with added costs sometimes, but it’s usually a lot less than if you did the same activity outside of school. There are so many ways to get involved at your school and so many classes available, so take advantage and do whatever interests you the most.

I hope this guide gave you an idea of what types of programs and benefits your school may have available for you (maybe even some that you never knew about before!). If you go to a large school like I do, there’s definitely a lot going on and it’s easy for certain opportunities to go unnoticed. As always, I’m happy to answer further questions on this topic or take requests for future content. I’ve been writing and scheduling posts in advance for a little while, but I have to figure out a school-year schedule for blogging once my pre-scheduled posts run out- that will be announced soon.

-Brooke

My Braces Journey

Welcome back everyone!

Today I’m going to be talking about something exciting and a little bit more personal: everything about my braces! I just got them off today and I could not be happier.

I got my braces on at the beginning of eighth grade (September 2017); I had known since I was little that I would need them since I had a huge gap between my two front teeth that I hated, but I had to wait a while to get them on because I lost most of my baby teeth pretty late. I was always very insecure about my teeth and my huge gap, so it was difficult waiting around while more and more people around me were getting their teeth straightened to perfection already throughout middle school. My last baby tooth had just fallen out when we went to an orthodontist consultation in the summer, and they told me it was finally time. I actually love my orthodontist’s office- all the people who work there are very kind and there are two amazing official orthodontists that switch off days.

When I first got my braces on, I expected things to move quicker than they obviously were going to. I was still unhappy with how my teeth and gaps looked, and it was inconvenient with the pain after each tightening appointment, food getting stuck, and difficulty brushing. My teeth got a lot yellower as a result which was frustrating as well. My dentist started scheduling appointments every three months instead of six as a pre-caution for gum problems that happen with braces (luckily I didn’t have any). I eventually learned not to notice them, and time flew by. In January 2019, I got four of my brackets removed and re-positioned in addition to two new brackets towards the back of my mouth (I’m not sure what teeth specifically), and that was the only recent time that I felt a lot of pain. At that appointment I got to see what the teeth with the re-positioned brackets looked like without braces, and it was SOO strange.

By that point, I figured my teeth wouldn’t change too much up until I finally got my braces off; my orthodontist said I should get them off by the end of summer. I kept going for my regular appointments every six weeks or so (just band and wire changes), and in May they started having me wear rubber bands. I wore them all day and night at first, until my appointment in July when they told me I only had to wear them at night. Finally, at my appointment in early August, they told me it was time to get them off! We scheduled an appointment a couple weeks out- it was the day of my cheer pictures so I could get them off right beforehand.

When I arrived at my removal appointment, they took my braces off right away- it took all of one minute to peel them off. They then polished my teeth to get the glue off, and took X-rays as well as pictures of my teeth to compare to the ones they took before I got my braces on. I did an impression of my top teeth (not as bad as people say!) so they could make me an Invisalign-like retainer for my top teeth, and they scanned my mouth to make the rest of my retainer that I get to pick up in a week. My orthodontist gave me a card and basket of candy/foods you shouldn’t eat with braces which was really sweet, and I was on my way!

Here’s a picture of my teeth now, after braces (I hated my teeth so much before braces that I don’t have any pictures to compare):

My two front teeth still have somewhat of a gap, but it’s just because of their shape. The Invisalign-like retainer and my other retainer are going to help close it as much as possible, but it’s kind of just my teeth. My gums are also still a little puffy but that will go down, and my teeth are really yellow- I plan to use Crest Whitestrips and whitening toothpaste to fix that. Overall, I’m so happy with how my teeth turned out and so thankful to be done dealing with braces! It was perfect timing for cheer pictures and the beginning of the school year.

I hope this gave you some insight into what it’s like to get braces, live with them, and get them off! I’m happy to answer any questions as always, or take requests for new content.

-Brooke

My Sophomore Year Goals (2019-2020)

Hello everyone!

Now that the school year is finally beginning, I wanted to figure out what my goals are for this upcoming year. I’m now a sophomore in high school so things are starting to get more serious as far as planning for college/the future, and I tend to have high expectations for myself in general. That being said, it’s important to have general life and well-being goals as well, so not all of these will be academic.

  1. Get straight As – The basic goal of most students, but still important to me! I was successful in this last year, and I want to keep it going.
  2. Actually learn and get immersed in classes – Grades are important to me, but I want to make sure I’m genuinely engaged in my classes and applying the information to real life. I think as we grow up it’s important we do this; we won’t be in a school environment forever so it’s important to take advantage of our classes and teachers now.
  3. Find something (a class, activity, field) I really enjoy – I’ve been looking for that special something that really stimulates me and that I LOVE to do forever. Now that I’m getting a bit further into high school, I hope that brings me closer to finding it.
  4. Get more involved in extracurriculars (possibly leadership roles or starting my own projects) – This is a priority for me this year since my activities were a bit lackluster in freshman year. Similar to my goal #3, I want to find more activities that I love and enjoy doing, and that I’m good at. I also would like to be a bit more comfortable taking on leadership roles and initiating things when I have my own ideas.
  5. Improve my confidence in all aspects – I want to work on self-love and being confident in my own abilities, just being nicer to myself in general. I’m really hard on myself, especially when it comes to school and achievement, so hopefully being a little kinder and focusing on the positives will give me a confidence boost.
  6. Find a better balance with time management – This year I have a lot more on my plate with different activities, harder classes, and other time commitments. I’m a dedicated planner-user, but I’ll need to really schedule my time well in order to manage everything and still maintain my sanity. I don’t want to be a stress mess, so I want to find a routine that works for me.
  7. Make more time for fun/social things – Going along with time management, I still want to have time to do things with my friends. Last year whenever things got too busy, I easily got overwhelmed and would cut off social activities before anything else. I want to make memories with my friends and enjoy the year, so I want to make a lot of fun plans with them.
  8. Travel more (college tours!!) – I LOVED my Europe trip and although I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere abroad anytime soon, I definitely want to go on more adventures. Mainly, I would like to start touring colleges so I can figure out what type of school I would like to go to and just to see more of the U.S., as I haven’t been to that many states.
  9. Get a better idea of what I want for the future – This goes along with the college tours thing, but I’m a huge overthinker and planner as I’ve stated previously, so I hope this year brings me closer to finding what I like and what I want to do. Planning for college is very important to me, and finding my genuine interests is also something I really want to do.

I hope this list gave you some ideas of goals you may have for this upcoming school year and inspired you to make your own list! This year is definitely going to be a busy one, but I have a good feeling about it and I think there are a lot of good experiences coming our way. Let me know if you have any requests or questions as always, and stay tuned for more content.

-Brooke

Let’s Talk: Having an Affinity for Childhood TV/Movies in High School

Welcome back everyone!

I’ve written a few blog posts giving some Netflix/TV show recommendations, and I wanted to discuss something related to this topic that I hadn’t previously. In case you’re new to my blog (welcome!!), I’m an incoming sophomore in high school, but I often have a child-like taste for many different things. One of these things would be TV shows and movies; I was always a big Disney fan when I was younger, but I honestly still enjoy watching a lot of my childhood favorites.

I think a lot of this has to do with my parents being strict about TV habits when I was little. I wasn’t allowed to watch Disney shows until I was about 6 or 7 because my mom thought a lot of the teenage/tween girl characters were bad examples because they were “sassy” and “talked back to adults”. Her words, not mine. Since I had a late start getting into those types of shows (and it was the same for Nickelodeon), it makes sense that I held onto watching them for a bit longer than other people.

Nostalgia also plays a big part; there aren’t many things I did when I was little that I still enjoy doing, but for some reason I still love to watch cheesy shows. Shows like Wizards of Waverly Place, Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Hannah Montana can entertain me just as much as more typical teen/adult programs. I think watching them just reminds me of simpler times when I was young and actually had the time to sit and watch TV all day.

The last thing that I think contributes to my love of shows aimed at younger kids is that not so long ago, they were all easily available on Netflix. Most of the Disney things aren’t anymore since they’re creating their own streaming service (which I want really badly!), but I used to rewatch them on there all the time. Having anything available online makes it more accessible and people are more likely to watch it as a result, so people often return to their old favorites when they’re bored if they can watch on a streaming service.

Here’s a short little list of all my favorite childhood TV shows and movies, no explanations needed since they’re all pretty basic/mainstream:

  • Wizards of Waverly Place
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody + The Suite Life On Deck
  • Hannah Montana
  • Good Luck Charlie
  • Shake it Up
  • Big Time Rush
  • H20 Just Add Water
  • ~ANY~ Barbie movie
  • Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse
  • High School Musical (all 3)
  • iCarly
  • Victorious
  • Spongebob
  • Gravity Falls

I hope you enjoyed hearing my random ramblings about my inner child. I feel like it’s actually pretty common to watch throwback shows- I follow an account on Instagram that just posts little anecdotes about all the old popular Disney/Nick shows. Either way, it’s just something I’ve accepted that I like to do. Let me know what your old favorite show was and of course, if you have any requests for future posts! I’ve been posting pretty much everyday throughout all of summer, but I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do once school starts.

-Brooke

Self-Care / Relaxation Ideas: What To Do Before School Starts

Welcome back everyone!

Today I’m going to be giving you a fairly simple list-formatted type of post, chock-full of different ways you can pamper yourself before the school craziness begins. I’m not going to justify each idea since most of them are pretty self-explanatory, but I will explain how to do something when necessary. I know we all want to take advantage of the last bits of me-time of the summer, so treat yourself and do a few of these things before life gets too busy again!

  • Use a face mask (Peel-off, mud mask, sheet mask, all are great!)
  • Take a bath and use a bath bomb
  • Do a full spa-night (you can do both of the things above plus other at-home treatments you can find on Pinterest or elsewhere)
  • Use a meditation app such as Headspace or Calm
  • Take a long walk or hike through a pretty trail, park, or neighborhood
  • Get yourself your favorite food or treat (mine is an acai bowl)
  • Do stretches or yoga poses at-home – look up some on YouTube or Instagram if you don’t know any
  • Sit outside and listen to relaxing music/your favorite music
  • Watch your favorite movie
  • Do a short social media cleanse (as short or long as you want)
  • Light a bunch of candles
  • Have a day of fun- whatever that looks like for you, go wherever you want and eat whatever you want, stay home and relax if you want
  • Go to the beach and watch the sunset or sunrise

I hope this gave you some inspiration on how to utilize the rest of your fleeting summertime and make sure you are ready for the school year. I’m sure you’ve all had a mix of relaxation and productivity in your summer thus far, so now’s the time to really enjoy the rest and relax during the calm before the storm. Let me know if there’s anything you think should be added to this list or if you have any requests for new posts! I know this was a short one, but I’ll be posting lots of new content soon.

-Brooke