Vegas, TpT Style

In February 2012 I was about to start teaching the novel The Hunger Games for the first time. I decided to do a Google search to see if I could find anything online about teaching the novel. That was when I found Tracee Orman’s blog which led me to TpT, and her amazing unit for the novel. In March 2012 I set up my own store. In the beginning I didn't know what I was doing and I asked Tracee for help and she helped me. She even accepted my friend request on Facebook. I started becoming online friends with other TpT sellers (Danielle Knight, The Superhero Teacher, Addie Williams, Teaching FSL, James Whitaker, and All Things Algebra to name a few). Although many of us are “competition” on TpT we never treated each other that way. We would give each other advice and learn from each other. In fact we often shared resources. In the past I've had colleagues who wouldn't share resources and I never understood that. Here I was sharing ideas with people I’d never met in person, and they were more helpful than some people I've known in person for years.

When TpT announced they were going to have a conference in Vegas I got really excited. I wanted to go to the sessions, and learn more about building my business. I was an English major, not a business major. I was even more excited about meeting some of the teachers that I've talked to for the past two years. I was really nervous that first day when I arrived in Vegas. I was rooming with Tammy from Teaching FSL and we had never met before. What if we didn't get along?

One of the TpT sellers created a Vegas group on Facebook and people started sharing ideas about money saving and other helpful travel tips. One of the cool things I learned about in that group was a game called My Vegas that you can play on your phone or through Facebook. You earn coins in the game and you can turn them in for prizes. You can cash in up to 3 prizes in 90 days. I ended up going to the shark aquarium for free, getting buy one get one tickets to The Beatles Love (it was awesome) and getting buy one get one free for a lunch buffet in the hotel where the shark aquarium was.

Some TpT sellers knew each other already. It seemed like every state except for NY had done blogger meetups. The day I arrived in Vegas I knew no one. I had just arrived when Tanja from Journey as a Substitute Teacher posted in the FB Vegas group asking if anyone was free to get lunch.  We met in the lobby of the hotel and we had lunch. We talked like we had known each other for a long time. Who knew it was this easy to make friends? After lunch we went upstairs where there were booths set up for a kindergarten and 1st grade convention. That’s where I met Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasbord who is so funny. Even though we teach on opposite ends of the spectrum (kindergarten and 12th grade) I follow him because I admire his enthusiasm and creativity. I also finally met the other Tammy and we got along like we’d known each other for years.

There were many lunches and dinners with my fellow teachers where we laughed and it felt like we were a group of old friends. The day of the conference I got to meet Paul (TpT founder) and Amy (from the TpT newsletter). I also got to meet Deanna Jump who is the face of TpT and she’s so sweet. She made everyone cry when she told her story.  I could go on and on but I thought it would be more fun to share some pictures. Oh and we did finally have a NY blogger meetup but that’s a 
story for another day..

                                                                        Our Hotel

                                                               Addie, Tammy and I

                                                           Gina, Tammy, Addie and Myself

                                                     Secondary Teachers Having Dinner

                                                                 James, Tammy and I


                                                            I met Kimberly from KG Fonts

                                                                           Amy Speaking

                                                                         Paul Speaking

                                                                   Secondary Teachers

                                                    We met Paul during one of the sessions.

                                                            Later in the day we met Amy.

                                                                        Paul's Gift

                                                                   Paul holding his gift.

                                                                     The TpT Way

                                                                   Greg's Photo Booth

                                                                  Brunch On Our Last Day

                                                               Making New Friends

                                                                The Beatles Love

I hope you enjoyed the pics. I had many more pics but I just wanted to highlight this fun and informational trip.

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New Me, New Blog

I'm Tammy and I'm currently in my 15th year of teaching ELA. Well my 15th year will start next week because I'm currently still on a medical leave. I don't want this entry to be sad and depressing so I'm going to give you a cliff's notes version of my illness.

In May 2012 I had a lot of stress in my life. My school I had worked in most of my career was closing and my husband and I were trying to have a child. We had been trying for about 6 months when I started having issues (I don't want to get graphic) and I went to the doctor. I tried various tests and medications. Not only could my doctor not solve the problems, he didn't even know what was causing them. That's when I switched doctors.

In August of 2012 I had my first surgery which left inconclusive results because I had a lot of medicine in my system. We redid the surgery a couple of months later and I was diagnosed with complex hyperplasia of endometrial with atypia which is a long name for pre-cancer. That was scary enough but just two short months later I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer stage 1. That's when I left this second doctor who couldn't solve my problem but at least he found out what the problem was.

After the cancer diagnosis I went to a famous cancer hospital in NYC where I was treated by a famous oncologist. He put me on a heavy dose of hormones and told me to get surgery every 3 months. He said that with a lot of women the hormones can balance things out and the cancer could go away. I trusted him but every time I had the surgery performed the recovery time got longer and the way I felt worsened. I was at a point where every time I had a break from work (Christmas, Spring Break, etc) I had surgery. I used to go on nice vacations once or twice a year. All that ended. I also starting gaining a lot of weight from the hormones and the stress.

I always knew that I had another option but it was a last resort. In April 2014 I had my 7th surgery during Spring Break and it took me 2 1/2 weeks to recover from it. That's when I decided I had enough.  In July 2014 I had a total hysterectomy. Just 8 days after surgery I got the news that I was 100% cancer free. No more hormones, no more surgeries but it also means I will never have my own child. I know there are other options out there right now it's too soon for me to think about it.

For the first time in years I am on zero medication. I have an appointment with my oncologist 6 months after the surgery and if that goes well I can say goodbye to him. He's a nice guy but I'm glad I won't have to see him again. I feel like a whole new person. I know that I wasn't giving 100% to my students while I was ill. I was showing up and teaching but I wasn't the same as I was before. I wasn't as energetic or creative. I was wasn't myself.

Now that I'm cancer free I'm going to be making a lot of changes in my life. I'm going to start exercising. Next week I'll be 8 weeks post op and that's when I'm allowed to workout. I'm going to have to start slowly because I'm completely out of shape but if I can beat cancer, I can do anything. I also love to write. I had an old blog and I decided to start this new one as part of my new self. I'm now Tammy version 2.0.

I'm not going to make promises about how often I'll write because I don't want to disappoint anyone (including myself). I'll write when I can. I actually have a couple of things that happened this summer that I just never had time to write about because my health consumed my days and nights. Btw if you like the blog design Danielle from Crayonbox Learning did my blog design.


Welcome to Juggling ELA!


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