Posted in Uncategorized

4 Apps that Help Me Fold Laundry

It’s the ever-present evil: laundry

Everybody has it; it never goes away and it’s constantly building.

When my husband and I were first married we had two loads of laundry a week: one of colored clothes, one of whites.

In those days my husband did the laundry because he said he liked it and I told him “well that’s great you should do what you like…”

I think of those days and I think how cute is that? one load of laundry for 7 days of life…

Now here we are Ten Years Later with four small children in the house and we have a load of laundry EVERY. DAY.

If I miss a day and either don’t run a load or don’t fold a load–for example on Sunday when I take a break and don’t do laundry–that means that on Monday I have two to three loads of laundry to fold.

However, this last year I feel that I have come to be at peace with laundry and this is why:

My main problem when I do laundry is that I feel stressed and I feel anxious that I’m never going to finish.

I sit and fold laundry and I think to myself “how many minutes of my life are being wasted away while I fold underwear?”

And even after the laundry is folded I look at huge stacks of clothes and think to myself “Why do we have all of this and how am I ever going to put it all away?” For years I had baskets in baskets of clean clothes lining the walls of my bedroom that never went away. It seemed as soon as I folded them there was another load that I had to fold and so I thought why put the basket of clothes away when I have all of this to add to it? So I would spend the afternoon folding more clothes and putting them in baskets and then not putting those clothes away either and so it was a never-ending cycle of clothes everywhere piles of clothes to be folded and piles of clothes that need to be put away that never were.

So my main goal this last year has been to completely distract myself and I do that by using either my phone or my tablet and by using one of these 4 apps:

1. Netflix

I know you might be thinking this isn’t necessarily an app,  why don’t you just turn on your TV?
I do that also but I find that a lot of times when I am folding laundry that I am trying to be quiet because the baby is taking a nap.

So I use my tablet or my phone because I can put headphones on them.

(and by the way if any of you are thinking what to get me for Christmas you could get me this new Roku box that you can plug headphones into the remote 🙂 this would solve my TV problem…. I’m just going to put this link right here for you just you know if you were to need it later you know it’s here for your convenience:)

My second problem is that when I’m folding laundry (if I am folding it when someone is not sleeping) and the kids are home I am usually doing it to escape the kids for a few minutes and have someone not be talking endlessly to me and find a little bit of Solitude. I find that I am especially sensitive to sound and so I often don’t like the TV and prefer my phone because the overall volume is quieter and when my kids walk in to ask me a question the volume is not so loud that they feel they have to talk even louder to talk over it ( and they talk loud enough as it is)

Third reason is that I can’t keep track of a remote to save my life. Watching Netflix on my phone means that all I have to do is touch it and it pauses and I don’t have to worry about where my remote went amid my pile of laundry so that when someone walks in or the phone rings I don’t have to worry and scramble to try and press pause on my show so that I can hear them.

And finally besides Logistics of watching TV I have developed what I call Laundry shows. These are shows that I really only watch when I fold laundry and these are also shows that I don’t feel right watching and unless I am folding laundry I am never in the mood to just watch them without doing something at the same time. 

My laundry shows have been a huge list of different things from Drop Dead Diva to The Good Wife to my current show Haven and also include when available shows like The Vampire Diaries or Grey’s Anatomy. Laundry shows are ones that I watch while I fold and that distract me from the fact that I might be folding laundry for the rest of my life.

This way if I need to fold laundry for an hour that’s totally fine with me because that means I get to watch the entire show in one sitting.

2. Audible


This is my second favorite thing to do while folding laundry. The problem with Netflix is that at some point I run out of shows either because I watch them all or because this season has not been updated yet or because my show gets canceled.
Audible is the same thing as watching Netflix only there’s no visual which in many ways it’s a good thing when you’re trying to match socks. A lot of times especially with laundry it’s hard to keep looking at the TV and so Audible is a good alternative because now I can read a book while also keeping my hands busy and not having to look up.

I like Audible also because of the different voices that you get of people reading the stories. I especially like to listen to books where the reader has an accent because it sounds so cool like in this book that I read:

This functions much the same as Netflix because it keeps me distracted from the fact that my entire bed is covered with clothes so I don’t care that this will take me 3 hours to do because my book is 10 hours long so I actually I am disappointed that I don’t have more time to fold laundry now what are the chances that I would ever have that feeling?

I like Audible also because while watching Netflix is entertaining it’s not always intellectual. At least with audible I can say things like oh I just read that book even though I didn’t really read it I listened to it while folding my husband’s t-shirts but it still sounds like I’ve been making good use of my time right? So while I can tell you I just read this book called The Power of Habit and it was so good! you don’t have to be very impressed that I found a time because actually I did it while folding onesies and my husband’s work shirts.

3. Habits


The last app that I like is one that’s just called Habits
This is an app that you can enter something that you want to make a habit and then all it does is put it on a list with the date and every day whenever you get it done you get to put a little check next to it. The app tracks how often you complete your task or rather how often you’ve clicked on it to say you were done.

I like this because it makes me feel like I finish something. On this app I have a multitude of chores that I want to accomplish in a week. Not all of them are daily tasks necessarily; some of them are weekly ones but it’s a good way to keep track of how often I actually do things

I have three different categories on my list for laundry: run laundry, fold laundry, and put away laundry. Those three categories to me are three very separate jobs that require a certain degree of concentration. In my book if I can get all three of those done all in the same day I get a special treat. The reason that I list put away laundry as part of the deal is because I hate it. I hate putting away laundry even though I found it doesn’t really take that much time but whenever I look at a huge pile of laundry I would rather do anything then put it away.

Piles of folded laundry sitting there make me think of a hissing snake. I don’t want to touch it but I wanted to just go away and I don’t want to have to deal with looking at it. I found then that putting it away and having my bed and my room clean of laundry makes me take a big sigh of relief every time I walk into my room. I’ve started to even say to myself as I stare at a pile of laundry “you like your room cleared out, you like your bed clean, you want the laundry to be put away.” and then when none of that works I say to myself “just do it and you’ll feel better.” And I am right of course but I still hate putting away laundry so far I haven’t come up with anything to help with that other than just getting it out of the way and forcing myself to do it.

4. Township


This may sound like a silly one but seriously this has helped me.
The basic gist of this game is that you compete to produce things.  Each item has a timer and each item Builds on the next. So for example, in order to make bread,  you have to grow wheat.  Once you make bread,  now you can use the bread to make a sandwich. You compete to make the most of a certain product and to be successful, you have to be prepared.  Some products take hours and hours to produce and if you aren’t prepared,  there’s no way to make what you need in the time limit. So if you’re smart then you make the products that take the longest all the time so that if you suddenly need them you don’t have to wait 15 hours to start from square one: you already have the basic materials there that you can put together quickly.

The basic lesson I’ve learned from this game is that everything has a time limit.  You know that the washer takes a certain amount of time to run.  You know the dryer has a time limit too.  Folding the laundry takes a set amount of time–sometimes a little more sometimes a little less-sbut each load that you do is going to take a certain amount of time to fold,  then it’s going to take a certain amount of time to put away.

Now it doesn’t matter in the end when you do these different parts of the laundry cycle but it sure makes it a lot easier if you don’t have to start from the beginning and it’s also a lot easier if you take care of it a little bit at a time. 

The laundry is not going away. It’s not like your kids are going to stop making messes or stop wearing clothes. You want your kids to have clean clothes to wear; you want clean clothes to wear. That’s definitely an underlying goal overall and so like the game if you can look ahead and plan for things that you know are coming then you’ll be much better off and be able to do the things that you wanted to easier and faster because you planned ahead.

 So not that this app/game helps me to do laundry but I think it’s helped me have a better attitude because I think all laundry is is a game. Laundry is a task and I know the steps and I know that this game is one that’s never going to go away so it might as well be a game that I am good at and that I figured out how to do as quickly and as well as I can so that I can move on to other things. Stop acting like this is something that you are afflicted with or that is so difficult. It’s a basic task and a basic problem; all you have to do is go through the motions and it will be taken care of.

Happy Laundry Day!

Posted in Gardening, Getting Organized, Getting Started, trampolines, Uncategorized

How to dig an in-ground trampoline

 Step 1: find a trampoline that will fit in the space you want to use 

In our case we needed a rectangular shape so that we would still have some yard left for other things

Step 2: ORDER IT right now otherwise you’ll just have a huge hole in the ground with nothing to put in it!

Step 3: order only the trampoline and disregard offers to have it installed professionally because you totally got this and geez, it’ll be cheaper right? Those install places charge a fortune! 

Step 4: rent a backhoe for the day and start digging!

Step 5: have everyone watch and even have them “help” dig so they all feel involved


Step 6:
keep digging and digging…at some point measure to see how deep you really need to go


Step 7:
build the frame for the sides and put the trampoline in the hole


Step 8:
fill in around the tramp with dirt. Call everyone over to help you and then fill some more. Wait for the dirt to settle and then fill in more… repeat over and over for about a week


Step 9:
see that mountain of dirt?  Just get used to that being there

Step 10: call everyone you know and ask them to come over and get some free dirt. Advertise on yard sale sites and talk to everyone you know about taking some dirt away.

Finally, use the leftover railroad ties and dirt and create a gigantic flowerbed thinking this will use up all the remaining dirt

Step 11: that uses a lot but not all of it. Resign yourself to the fact that you have a mound of dirt there and whatever. Let a year go by.

Step 12: get fed up with the dirt one day and just spread it out all over the yard on top of the gravel and then go get more gravel to put over the top of the dirt and give your arms a real good workout until about 1am

Step 13: after the padding completely falls apart 6 months later, order a new one and wonder why you didn’t do that from day 1. This one is so much better!


Step 14:
put the kid’s basketball hoop next to the tramp, why did you never think of this before?

Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized

Anime meet The Babysitters Club

Have you seen these?

My daughter discovered these a couple weeks ago and has read them all.
And I don’t know if these have been around for awhile and I’m just barely showing up at the party or what, but have you seen these?

They are graphic novels….only instead of the Anime type stuff or even comic book theme, it’s just a regular story.

In fact it’s the Babysitters Club! 
It’s the same story, the same dialogue and mirrors the original stories exactly only…illustrated!

My 8 year old is a pretty good reader already but she’s also a very visual person
And as an English teacher I think, how cool is that that she can read these cute little stories (which we had already read together even)  and learn to imagine the characters and the settings of the story.

I just think these are such good reading skills practice and let me tell you, I wasn’t always a fan. I’ve had my students in middle school and high school ask me if they count or not and I’ve always been hesitant.

Do they count? Is that, should that be considered Reading? 

I still don’t know what I think about most graphic novels but these types that mirror an actual novel seem so valuable for those early readers and developing those reading skills.

Posted in brilliant ideas, Cell Phone Apps, church, coping, Getting Organized, Teaching

5 ways to not go crazy with teenagers, cell phones and Sunday school

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I was sitting in a “teacher council” meeting this last week

And we were discussing cell phones…and how they drive everyone insane.

There you are teaching a lesson and suddenly the two girls in the back are giggling over the video they are watching on their phones.
Or the kid who sits there through the whole lesson playing on his phone and being sulky and sullen if you ask him to participate.
Or just trying to get their attention AT ALL, get them to LOOK UP from their phones and act like humans and give educated, interesting, thought provoking responses

(I mean is that even possible??? Even without phones???)

Many in the group offered this solution: Take their phones away.

And that’s not a bad call in some cases really.

And as a high school teacher, I used to do much that same thing.
At the beginning of class, I made all my kids turn off their phones (OFF, not just vibrate)
And I went around and checked them and gave them points for doing it even.
And they were supposed to keep them ON their desk (not under the desk or on their lap)
And keep them off for the whole period.

It worked great.
My lower level kids had a harder time with it sometimes, 
But let’s be honest, they had a hard time following directions period. So hey…

This last year though, my attitude changed.
I still miss the days of “turn off your phone when you come to class”
But my attitude now is: Let’s teach you to USE that phone instead of just PLAY with it.
If ANYONE is going to do that, it should be ME, your teacher, the school
This should be part of your education.
Because phones are not going away
And if anything they are getting better and better

And we can use them in more ways to make our lives better

But I’m sorry, if all they know is how to work Snapchat, Instagram and FB
I don’t see their lives being enriched at all.

In fact most kids only use their phones as very expensive toys 

So where will they learn to be better?

They will just magically wake up one day and be so?
Ya no…. welcome to YOUR calling 🙂

So these are some ideas of how you could USE phones in your Sunday School/YW/YM class to teach them to be GOOD with their phones. Hope it helps 🙂

1. Have them put a quote into their “Scriptures” as the class is starting or as their “ticket” out

Let’s say hypothetically that you weren’t teaching lesson 3 and you chose to discuss the topic of the godhead



Included in these materials are several scriptures and also some references to some talks by General Authorities about the subject

To start off the class one thing that could be useful for them is to give them something to keep in their “scriptures”

It used to be that everyone had physical scriptures and so to give them something to keep in their scriptures all you had to do was print out a quote on some cute paper and hand it out to them. Now though if you do that chances are that those little pieces of paper will not be saved by anything other than the trash can because now everything is digital.

But there’s no reason you can’t do the same thing with the same intention in the digital age. You want them to put something in their scriptures that later in life they might find and be inspired or motivated or comforted by.

So you go to one of these articles that the lesson provided and you find a quote for them. I trust one from the article “Godhead” in True to the Faith.


Copy and paste that onto a paper with some instructions. For example I would put something like this, either that I wrote on the board or that I printed together with the quote to just hang up like a sign on the board:
Go to Matthew 3:13

Highlight the first phrase “Jesus, when he was baptized”

Now at the top of your screen click on what looks like a paper and pencil.
This opens up a note (what would be a sticky note if you were using physical scriptures)

Title this note “the nature of the godhead”

Type the following quotes in as a note:

At least for once their little fingers moving fast on the keys will not be irritating 🙂

Now the next time they read this verse (which is a pretty good example of the time in the scriptures when all three of the godhead were present together and also scripture that often misinterpreted) they will have this part of the first highlighted and also have this quote there either for their own enrichment or to share with others, just like the cute little bookmarks and inserts that we used to get in our scriptures.

Below this quotes you could also have them write a response (including the date) of how they feel about this or an experience with it or a comment about it or a question any type of thing that could go along with this.

Also when you want people to respond well and with some kind of thought to their words it’s often helpful to have them write down their responses first and this would also be a good place to do that as well if you wanted to have them discuss it later in class.

2. Have them memorize and pass off “scripture mastery” verses or choose verses that go with the lesson for that week for them to memorize.

This app is super GOOD and it’s one they would also use in Seminary 

(And no complaints from your kids’ seminary teacher I’m sure, they can use all the reinforcement and help they can get.)

It helps them to memorize the word by progressively taking words or letters away as you memorize it

See the scroll thing at the bottom? That is how you make more or less words appear as you are memorizing it

You can also have them take a quiz or take a quiz on the Scripture Mastery tags or references

Overall a pretty good app for memorizing the scriptures and you can also change it from Book of Mormon to Old Testament or new testament or whatever

3. Have them watch the corresponding video that goes with the lesson that week

It used to be that in order to watch a clip for your lesson you had to look in a huge TV and also check out a DVD or a cassette tape or a VHS tape

Now you still might have to do that if you want…

or you could actually have the students watch it themselves on their phones

One very quick and very easy option are the scripture stories these are in an easily downloaded app and they don’t take a lot of space a very common complaint from from my students these days: memory is a hot commodity) They don’t need a really good connection very simple also and to the point so they won’t take up a lot of time.

They might think this is a little childish but they do have a very basic summary of whatever it is that you’re talking about that week so at least when you say “Who is Enos?” For example you won’t just get blank stares. Well you might still get blank stares but at least you know that it’s because that’s just the way their face is…LOL

4. Make a KaHoot! Game 


You can do a quiz, a discussion,  a survey and they are really easy to make. It’s something that you could do the night before and then do during class without too much effort

All you need is a “base” computer for the game–probably easier with a tablet or laptop but phone works too. In order for it to work the kids have to enter a code that you give them to be part of the game so it helps to be able to just show them the screen but you could just write it on the board it’s not that complicated.

All you have to do is log on to your account and make your quiz ( you type in the questions and the answers then click to do the next question. Easy.

Once you go to start the game their phones now become their buzzers and as soon as they answer the program will show that they did and it will show the results of who answered what but it won’t say specifically which answer was whose so as not to embarrass anyone (It shows how many people have answered not who has answered). The program will tell them the correct answer was after a certain time. Usually 10 to 15 seconds and then it will move on to the next question.

5. Have them Define some words:

 I am always shocked at how many words my students don’t know the definition to. Words that I think “Of course they know because they’ve heard them a million times” and so I assume that they know what they mean! …and they don’t.

In my English class sometimes I have them go through an article before we read it and highlight words that they don’t understand and I am always floored at the words that they highlight. Now maybe they’re picking random words but in most cases I don’t think they are.

Like the other day we are reading an article and it use the word “bigot”I would say 99% of my students did not know what it meant and the one kid who guessed said that it meant a b**** and I guess that’s close to the definition? At least it’s getting to the general connotation of it but the fact that it had a female Association to it Disturbed me a little frankly. Do you see what I mean though? They kind of know what certain words mean but then at the same time they really don’t at all.

So if you want them to do something to help on the lesson have them choose some words to look up the definition for…

Maybe they have heard them a million times but it doesn’t mean that they understand them…at all…

On some words maybe just dictionary.com ( which most of my students use at school on their phones on a pretty regular basis) would work well for just like the Webster’s Dictionary type of a definition. For example, this is what the word “Meek” means:

It’s not a bad definition and it even gives you where it’s from? That’s kind of interesting but as far as the gospel I don’t know about you but I’m still not entirely clear about what it means.

Other times you could encourage them to use things like the Bible dictionary or a new feature in the digital scriptures called “Guide to the scriptures.”

This is a new addition and it’s kind of a combination between the topical guide and the Bible dictionary. For example if you look in the topical guide under “Meek, meekness,” you get this:

And if you look in the Bible dictionary? It’s not there.

But then if you look in the guide to the scriptures you get this:

This gives you an actual definition and it also gives you the references that the topical guide does as well.

Here’s to a Happy Sunday!  Good Luck!

Posted in Halloween, Painting, photography

Painting a photo backdrop

Standing at the Regional Sterling Scholar awards ceremony my Senior year, I realized something:

I had not done enough “community” art.

Looking at binders of portfolios that my fellow competitors had made showed pictures of hours of hours of time spent decorating floats and painting backdrops for school plays.

I had done neither. And up until that point, I had never even thought of doing it? 

Where were my priorities?? As an accomplished Art Sterling Scholar Applicant, I felt my art career was ill-spent suddenly. I had not painted for the Drama Club in their production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, I had not stayed up all night stapling sequins onto the Homecoming float! What was I thinking?

After this realization I walked to take my seat on the stage for the awards assembly, certain that my artistic talents had been wasted in drawing and photography and my smarter-fellow-artists had known how important floats really were.

I ended up winning the entire competition–Regional Visual Arts Sterling Scholar for Sevier County–and let me tell you, there was no one more shocked than me.

So now here we are, years later when I still have had no experience at all at backdrops or float making. *sigh*

So for our Halloween party this last year, I really wanted to have a photo backdrop during the party. (Reclaim my ill-spent youth and all that) I thought of just doing some decorations OR….I could paint a backdrop!?

Crazy right?

I used one of my photo backdrop white sheets…one that was torn at the bottom anyways so no loss if it was a huge disaster. Lol…

It went pretty well?

First I did a basic outline:

Tried to figure out where things would overlap and such…

Next it was mostly a coloring project…fill in the spaces w black because this was a straight black and white….not complicated (baby steps, right?)

And finally, paint some faces on these little guys 

I painted the two-front-teeth missing one in honor of my two toothless girls 🙂

The idea of it being that you would be standing in a crowd of ghosts, get it?

Total I think this took me 3 hours to complete? Mostly in my garage, after my kids were put to bed, laying on the ground trying not to kneel on the wrong spots of the fabric 🙂

I will totally do one next year…I saved this one but who knows if it’ll keep for a year or not?

The actual photo shoot at the party left a bit to be desired (backdrop should have been higher, lighting was too harsh but hey, still cute) 

But overall, idea was great 🙂

Posted in brilliant ideas, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

12 basic abilities I use every day as a teacher

To anyone going to school to be a teacher: this is for you.

I have a friend my age who recently went back to school and is doing her student teaching to be an English teacher (like me) and I thought, “Wow to be a first-year teacher again… Wait I would never go back to that…”

Being a first-year teacher is kind of like being a teenager: it’s awkward and difficult and it’s a lot of trying to prove that you have it together when you really have no idea what’s going on.

So I’ve been thinking lately about my friend and about learning how to be a teacher and the things that I do everyday that I probably do without thinking now I have been teaching  for 14 years and it really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long at all…

There was my first year  teaching 7th grade in Utah

And then there were the three years after that at another school while also trying to be the head coach of the debate team.

And then there was the year before I got married where I didn’t coach at all and realized that I had gotten used to prepping my entire day in 15 minutes.

And then the years ever since that have included four pregnancies and going from full time to part time where I learned that I was very grateful that I can prep my whole day in 15 minutes because my life was a whole lot busier.

And somehow during that time, and those years, and those different schools, I have learned to leave it all at work. Where I used to think about my classes all the time and where I used to be constantly planning units and doing lesson plans in my head as I woke up in the morning and during every spare moment…..

Now I forget sometimes that I am a teacher at all. Monday rolls around and I think “oh yeah I have to go to work…”. Not joking! 

Part of that I attribute to going from being single and fresh out of college to being married with four children under the age of 8. My brain is occupied with many other things besides school but still I think even without the kids and the lack of brain cells, I have learned to take care of work at work and have things handling  themselves. 

So how did I do that? That’s what I’ve been asking myself because not to say that I’m some perfect teacher but I feel like of all the areas of my life, teaching is something that I have figured out. Again not that I’m perfect but for the most part teaching is not something that I stress about or worry about or wonder if I’m good at anymore

I got this. I have it figured out and it’s not that I’ve taught the same thing for years necessarily either but there are some things that I have taught many times before and constantly improve so I’m not making up things from scratch but then again I am, I do do new units all the time and add new stuff to the stuff I already have done so it’s not like I’m just leaning on past years either, but yet I am…

So I’ve been thinking about what things I do that make it so that my job flows easily and this is what I’ve come up with and this is what I wanted to share to my friend who was starting out teaching and to anyone who starting out teaching that hopefully in the busy craziness of those first couple years of teaching, you can figure out some kind of order and a way to stay sane in what normally is a pretty crazy time.

1. Learn to type crazy fast

I don’t know how many times I have had to come up with things at the last minute or type up a quiz or enter grades or type an email or write a note super fast and being able to do it super-fast has made such a difference it has saved my lessons my life and my sanity 

However fast you type right now? double it because that will be your salvation.

2. Develop cycle systems

School involves paper.

No matter how much we are going digital it still involves paper and the transfer of information from teacher to student so you need to develop Cycle Systems 

The kids need to have a constant way to turn something in 

You need a constant way to keep the work cycling through and being corrected (Yaya for TAs!)

You need a cycle to manage the paperwork and then from there you need a way to enter it into the computer so that the kids can know what their grade is and what they’re missing.

and then from there you need a way to hand it back to them and do it without losing things 

and then  hand it back to them again  after the kids who were absent are back 

You also need a system for keeping track  of what people missed while they were absent.

There needs to be a way to cycle paper, tons and tons of it everyday every class. Every second you need to organize the paper that will be flowing in and out constantly.

I have 4 different sets (one for each class period) of bins that I fill and empty and fill and empty on a regular basis. 

I also have a file cabinet, two file drawers, a cabinet full of binders and two bookcases that hold all of my copies for the year, not to mention the table for the TAs to correct work and two different sets of file boxes to hold the kids work:one that they use and one that I use.

The kids have a daily folder that they use to organize their work and that they hand in to me once a week.

I have a folder for each unit that we are doing up front, plus a main file back at my desk.

And that doesn’t include all the papers that I get from the office about upcoming events or themes or rallies or fundraisers or news or even advertisements.

Paper in school is no joke. Come up with a system or you will drown in it.

3. Learn to Shake It Off

No matter how crazy one class is and no matter how awful your lesson was: it doesn’t matter.

Learn to be able to shake it off and to become new when your next class of totally innocent kids walk in the room and have no idea that you wanted to kill all the kids that were just sitting in those seats haha

That next class deserves your full energy and your whole attitude and they don’t deserve to be yelled at or to have a grumpy teacher and besides you being a grumpy cheer for them will make them worse because you set the weather so if you want your life to get harder then be grumpy! (And that’s not always a bad thing your kids need to know that Mom has her limits)

but if you want your kids to be happy until work harder for you you have to be happy which means you have to Shake It Off and you have to learn to not let one thing lead to another 

you have to be able to smile and fake it and not be in a bad mood over one kid or one experience or 1 lesson going bad

4. Learn to read super fast

I don’t know how people do it when they read at a normal speed I read between 1000 and 1500 words per minute which is like 10 times as fast as most people just because I don’t know how to not do it

I have to read essays

I have to check papers as they leave the door

I have to read emails 

I have to read assignments 

I have to read so many things and I don’t have all day to do it 

I have a lot of students and I don’t have a lot of time. 50 minutes! That’s it!

I read Crazy Fast all the time and not because it’s uncomfortable and not because I’m stressed out because I don’t want to take all day doing it! I just don’t and it saves me so much time to not have to take all day to correct essays or to grade papers or two great assignments. I can read it fast know that they did it or not and get on about my day.

5. Follow basic lesson plan structures

When you first become a teacher they always make you type your lesson plans and plan them out and I always thought it was the biggest pain because I hated typing everything out and I hated planning because for the most part I do things well in my head 

But it was good to always be practicing doing that structure because it really is effective 

You always need an introduction to the class: if the kids just walk in and you’re like so today we’re going to talk about…. that’s stupid. Everyone’s going to be like that is going to be horrible lesson you have to have an introduction 

You need to have a activity for all of you to do together to show them how 

you need to have specific structure an independent study and partner work all of that needs to be something that’s included in every lesson and even though maybe it’s a lot of work sometimes and maybe it’s something that you don’t think of when you first become a teacher 

As an older teacher that’s how I plan all my lessons just naturally. That’s how they all are and even though I don’t write them anymore they still have that structure and its better

Things go better if I consistently have all the pieces that way they’re supposed to and if I slack off and forget and think I won’t do a conclusion today that’s when I become more irritated and more bugged with my students and with their performance when really in the end it’s actually more my fault than theirs.

6. Keep them busy and keep them challenged

The worse the students the busier they need to be and the more specific you need to be in your goals and expectations.

 Higher level kids will work well on their own and basically set their own goals for getting things done. 

Lower level students will not in fact they will do what seems to be like the opposite of Common Sense 

You need to set goals for them and set specific expectations of when the work needs to be done and how they will give it to you

If you want them to write a paper you can’t just say it’s due next week and same thing if you want them to write a rough draft you can’t just say it’s due at the end of the period because for a lot of kids that means that they’ll waste the entire time and then try to write it in the last 2 minutes 

There’s all kinds of ways to motivate them to get a little part of it done at a time: games you can play, competitions you can run, things that aren’t wild and crazy and running around that are in their seats but still motivating and ways to keep them on track 

but keep them after, threaten them, bribe them, any way to get them to get more work done in one class.

But whatever you do, dont let them just sit there. 

7. Be Human

Be the person you are teaching them to be.

I heard one time that you as a teacher may be the only person your kids know that has a college degree.

I’m not saying be their best friend, but they should LIKE you, they should want to be someone who is like you, who has what you have. They should like how you are.

And if all you are is a stuck up jerk who yells at them all the time and after 10 months together still acts like a stranger, why would they want a college degree? So they can grow up to be an jerk like you? Probably not.

I’ve found that the more I tell stories, the better things go. The more the class knows about me as a real person, the more we can all relax and get to work. As a person, I share less with strangers than I do with friends. So if I get so concentrated on the work that I don’t ever stop and tell them about how I  (the teacher) work into all this info, they don’t really care about me or the work in the end. 

8. Show More Movies

When I was in college I worked at a middle school as an “Advocate” is what it was called, but basically like a teacher’s assistant? or an instructional aide? but instead of assisting the teacher, I assisted the students so I went in and out of classrooms depending on where my students were that I was helping, not based on the teachers if that makes sense. So one day I could be in math and the next in Science for that class period. In a 4 hour time period I was in and out of probably 10 different classes.

One of the teachers that I went in and out quite a bit was a science class for 7th graders. I always liked going and helping in her class because she did the funnest lessons ever.  As an adult I always wished that I could just attend her class because it was always so interesting and fun. They watch video clips, they cut and pasted, thet colored, they put things together, they did labs, they did all kinds of fun things. 

For one of my classes in college, I was supposed to talk to a few teachers and ask for advice and so I asked her what she would advise new teachers to do and her response was: “show more movies.” 

I thought that was the oddest response knowing what I did about her class and how amazing it was but she went on to explain:

When I was a beginning teacher I thought that every lesson had to be perfect and that I should be attending to my students every second of every class. And I finally came to realize that it’s ok to show a movie so that I can get things ready for the next event or it’s ok to show a movie so that I can get my grades done or a unit put together for them.

It’s not cheating to do work at work and I don’t need to be up here doing a circus performance every second of every class. It’s ok to show a movie, it’s okay to have some down time where the show is not all about me. Plan to have time to plan and get things ready for them: show more movies.  

From one overachiever to the other, I thought that was pretty good advice.

9. Keep shoes under your desk 

You laugh but this has saved me over and over.

Lessons can be faked, classes can watch a movie, things can be made up at the last minute but no matter what, at some point, you are gonna need to stand up in front of class with SHOES on. 🙂

High School doesn’t have the highest standards as far as dress code this is certain but no matter where you are and no matter what day it is that’s still the basic rule: you have to wear shoes and there have been several times in my career where the shoes I was wearing broke and of course they broke about 2 minutes before my class was about to start.

Keep spare shoes under your desk or in a drawer. Just trust me. You’ll be grateful for this advice one day.

10. Make a decision already

I’ve heard also lots of times that teaching is about making decisions constantly. Every second of every day someone is asking you a question and you need to come up with an answer:

Do you want this in pen or pencil? Do you want their class period underneath their name? Can we write on both sides of the paper? Do we need to write in full sentences? Do you want us to write the question? When is this due? Can I turn it in tomorrow? What happens if I don’t finish? Do you get points if it’s late? Do you have another copy? Can I go to the office? What are we doing today? What are we doing tomorrow? What are we doing all next week? I’m going to be gone. What’s the homework? Do you have a pen I can borrow?  Do you have any extra paper ? 

Most of these questions are easy to answer…the first time.

The key here is to answer them the same way every time even though in one day you will be asked these questions a dozen times. Just because it’s the 50th time that someone has asked you if they should put their name on their paper doesn’t mean that it’s ok to snap at them even though it is obnoxious.

The kids are going to ask you questions and a lot of them are going to be really stupid ones. I know they say there’s no such thing as a stupid question but believe me there are a lot of stupid questions

But in order for you to keep the environment and the mood that you want in your class, you have to be able to smile and answer the same question again in the same patient wonderful manner that you did the first time.

Make the decision to be in a good mood and to be nice even when you want to wring their little necks 🙂

11. Stop acting like this is High School 

Anyone can be a teacher, that’s true. A college education helps and it helps to prepare you so that you have more of an idea of what to do.But when it comes down to it, anyone can be a teacher at any age and a college degree really doesn’t matter. 

The good teachers are the ones that can manage relationships and can manage different types of students. 

Growing up you had a certain type of friend. I’m sure you were maybe in a certain type of group of people in high school but now that you’re a teacher. You’re supposed to be a part of every group. You’re supposed to be able to relate to every type of person not just the ones that you liked in high school.

You need to be able to have a relationship with the Geeks, the Stoners, the jocks, the pretty girls, the shy girls, the band members, the overachievers, The Slackers and the people who have no group. Because the thing that all of these kids have in common is you and you have a unique opportunity for them to listen to you and to learn from you and if they think that you are one of “them” they’re not going to even give you the time of day

12. No one cares.

One afternoon after a shoe  incident right before class, I was in the copy room with some other teachers telling them about how terrible my experience had been and how I was wearing flip-flops that day and a couple of them of course laughed and commented to make me feel better and consoled me I guess. I wasn’t that upset but it was a funny story

As the story ended, one of the teachers came and stood right next to me and told me very quietly: “Can I tell you something? nobody gives a s***”

I was kind of shocked at that response but she went on to explain:

“Chances are that no one noticed your shoes at all today. The students don’t care what you’re wearing. You could be wearing anything up there. High school students are not observant and they don’t care. 

When it comes down to it it doesn’t matter what you look like and it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. What’s important here is the students and their education and getting them to learn and to understand better.”

Throughout my career as a teacher I’ve had several times when my skirt was on backwards, my shoes were my slippers that I only wore at home that I forgot to take off, I had one hair sticking straight up all day or I only did my makeup on one eye. 

There was a time once when I was pregnant and for some reason I couldn’t walk because I had this piercing pain in my side and so I sat ob my stool up front  all day and just ordered my students to bring things to me.

I have been so nauseous from morning sickness that I felt green to my toes. 

I’ve hung things from the ceiling as decorations for holidays and had no one even look up or notice them for days and days at a time.

One day I developed an ear infection and by 3rd period, (about 10:30am), I was completely deaf. I went all that period And the rest of the next not being able to hear at all. In fact I heard a really loud feedback everytime I spoke.

And you know what? In every single instance I don’t think that anyone noticed at all. I had a kid look at me funny the one time I was Deaf from the ear infection but he didn’t say anything. No one noticed that I’m aware of and I don’t think anyone cared either.

So stop worrying about what you look like, stop worrying if your outfit is perfect or if your shoes match your dress. 

No one cares. 

What they care about is your relationship and they care about whether or not you care about them; that’s all.

Posted in Uncategorized

7 reasons you should decorate for Valentine’s Day right after Christmas

Number 1: January has no holidays. So unless you have some Martin Luther King jr. Day decorations to get out? It’s time to get out the hearts and crepe paper

Number 2: It’s fun and I got to tell you January isn’t very fun. You put the Christmas decorations away,  your house feels clean and spacious for like a day and then it’s not so clean, it’s just empty and bare and sad and  it’s snowing or raining outside and you know, its a lot more fun to decorate than it is to stare at empty walls.

Number 3: pink is a very cheerful color and I gotta tell you I think the number one month where people feel depressed is January. Christmas is over but winter is still here; your bank account doesn’t have near as much money as it did before because of Christmas, which is over by the way. And you know pink is just happy! So don’t go painting your walls this color or anything but scattering a few hearts and flowers around the room isn’t going to get anyone upset

Number 4: there is no reason why you shouldn’t. Valentine’s Day is like the most unassociated holiday ever. It has no religious grounding that I’m aware of, it has no real reason at all to be celebrated. There is no “real meaning” of Valentine’s Day or any deep psychological evaluating that needs to happen in order to celebrate. We’re talking we made up this holiday where all we do is give each other chocolate and gifts and go out for a cool date. I mean that’s it! That’s the whole holiday: gifts and a night out which frankly doesn’t sound like a bad idea in the middle of winter. 
Number 5: Valentine’s Day is roughly six weeks after New Year’s which means that if you started your healthy new regiment and you do well, this can be your reward for doing so good on your diet and exercise for the new year. And they say that the best way to motivate yourself and to remind yourself of your success is to have things around you that remind you of your goals. So hey Valentine’s Day decorations should remind you to exercise and eat right so that you can have that super cool night out to celebrate your hard work

Number 6: that kindergarten assessment is coming up and one of the things that they need to know how to do is use? scissors. And do you know what one of the easiest shapes to make with scissors is? A heart. It’s really hard to screw up a heart. It really is! Even mangled lopsided hearts can be endearing and even creative. So sit your little kids down,  have them cut out some hearts to decorate with and pat yourself on the back for your educational assimilation of the holidays into your child’s development.

Number 7: making roses boosts your self-esteem. Do you know how you make paper roses? You cut red paper into like 2 or 3 inch strips and then you roll them together. Serious.

Posted in brilliant ideas, Christmas, gift giving

My favorite Christmas Presents of 2016

Have you ever gotten your kids something….

And afterwards thought: I’m never buying that piece of crap again?

Happens all the time to me

I have 4 Kids 2 Girls and 2 boys so we get a wide range of toys between Christmas and birthdays and relatives and hand-me-downs

So I wanted to share the toys that my kids got this Christmas that I felt the opposite about for once

These are toys that instead of thinking “I’ll never buy that piece of crap again,” I thought “I wish I had bought 10 of these!”

1. Wearable horses!

My husband did this thing at Christmas where they dressed up as Wiseman and he got this camel to wear along with another guy in their group:

And that got me thinking….
The kids thought his camel was the funniest thing and the coolest thing they had ever seen

And so I took a look to see if there was a kid version of this?
And there was of course but I guess it’s used mostly as a costume accessory around Halloween?

Most of the reviews were from people who had used them as Halloween costumes

But I thought, hey my kids have tons of dress up stuff that they play with all the time and they have nothing like this at all and I think they would be tickled to death with them– I mean what better to go with your princess outfit than a real unicorn to ride it in right?

Some of the reviews talked about how the material or the construction of them was poor quality and my reaction to that was, well yeah have you seen all the dress up crap that they sell these days??? it’s made out of the crappiest material there is?

So I ended up getting 2 regular horses and two unicorns and they love them to death

2. Superhero capes and masks

When I bought this I don’t think I was really paying attention because I remember it being just the capes but when it came it came with all of this and it is the coolest stuff ever!

I felt like this was an amazing deal!!!

I want to buy 3 or 4 more and just give them as birthday presents because they would be the most amazing present ever even just by themselves just give a kid a mask and cape and a wristband and they would be thrilled!

The masks were amazing! super super cute and the boys just went crazy over them

And the price was super good! that was my favorite part. $25 bucks for all this?! I don’t think I could even buy the material for these at that price much less have them turn out so good and perfect

3. Magnetic Hangman

My daughter has been super in two hangmen lately for some reason

She even downloaded a game on my phone for hangman so that she could play it more often

So I thought I would try and get her some kind of game for the car 4 trips

Or I thought maybe I could find something that she could play at church?

I gotta be honest I didn’t have very high expectations I just figured there was probably something out there and whatever it was would probably be cheap and whatever

This game though is the coolest thing ever

The hangman has individual body parts that are all magnetic and then the whole board has places for you to keep score and keep track of what letters you use and play against someone

I started with really low expectations and this is over the top best quality best start out game ever

4. Paint by sticker

I like the trends in just the last couple years where they have started coming out with sticker books that are more like puzzles
I bought my kids a lot of them over the last couple years and they’re super nice where the kids have to take a sticker and match it on a page or solve a puzzle and a sticker is the answer that kind of thing. It’s a lot better than the traditional “here’s a sheet of stickers put them anywhere” approach

So I found this for my daughter who is very into art and I thought that this was a good next step for her? It’s not only stickers and following directions but it also shows different kinds of shading and artsy type principles like that

Add to that that it takes a bit of concentration to do and she is 8 years old and this is a gold mine

And then add to that… Did you know that the rest of these existed? So in that same trend of products are not only paint by number but build by number and constructing different things with stickers

I never knew about these before but hello these will be birthday presents for my kids for the next year… Brilliant idea…

5. Mermaid and Shark blankets

It seems like a lot of people got these mermaid blankets this year and I don’t blame them
I think these are a super cute idea and even though I think the mermaid tails are super cute I thought that the sharks and fish we’re just as funny

It’s almost like a sleeping bag because they put their feet inside of them and they are super soft and nice and hey also pretty funny to walk by and see your kid watching TV with his feet inside a fish….

6. Headphones!!!

This was a present that I thought to myself why in the world have I never bough t these before? I mean seriously where has my brain been on vacation that it never occurred to me to buy headphones for my very loud little boy to be very loud with without being loud at all?
This kind sits right on his head he doesn’t have to try and put them inside his ears which for those of you with kids that’s like an impossible feat and they do super good sound and are very durable

7. Small battery operated piano

The reason that I got the idea for headphones was because of this toy!
This is the coolest little keyboard you’ve ever seen. It runs on batteries only (which is actually kind of odd I wish it came with a power cord and I thought that it did but there was none in the Box?)

But here we are a week after Christmas and he’s played it lots of times and it still doesn’t need new batteries so hey whatever…

This is the perfect little keyboard for my little piano Enthusiast thoughb it’s mobile, it looks fancy and it can do all kinds of Beats and different things and he can take it wherever he wants!

And the best part is that he just plugs in his headphones and he can jam out and be as loud and crazy as he wants and his mother doesn’t go crazy

I bought stickers for the keys that show what the notes are that was an extra thing what makes the keyboard look extra cool, don’t you think? And hopefully it helps him learn the notes and all that of course…

7. Amazon Echo

And finally my last favorite thing is this product
I feel kind of like I’m jumping on the bandwagon here but this is the coolest thing ever 

You can ask it questions just like you would on Google on your phone or you can have it play music from either Pandora or your own personal albums, you can ask it the weather, you can ask it funny questions. it’s a lot like Siri on iPhones only just sits on your table at home.

My kids actually use it a lot they ask it questions they ask what the weather will be and they even use it to play their favorite songs

I like it for two reasons number one because I can just ask it to play music for me without having to be on my phone. I can just tell it to play a certain type of music and there you go, easy. I don’t even have to touch anything.

Number two reason is that my husband actually uses it and for  things that he usually would ask me 🙂 nothing complicated but questions like is it going to rain tomorrow? Or random facts or we’ve used it to look up movie times for our date night. It’s nice that is easy enough to use that he can use it as well without having to stress about it being complicated.

Posted in Cell Phone Apps, Food, Getting Organized, Getting Started, Planning the Menu

The best trick to making Pinterest work for you 

Has this ever happened to you?
I see something on Pinterest or I read something in a Blog

And I think “wow I totally want to do that! That sounds so good”

The holidays are coming up, or someone’s birthday is in a few weeks…
Or when I see a recipe that I think I really want to do….

And then that time comes to use it and I either have already forgotten all about it 

Or if by some miracle I do remember

I go to look for it on Pinterest and either can’t find it at all…

or I’m horribly distracted by 20 other things….

And in the end I either don’t have time to do it or realize that it’s too late

Or realize that this requires some specific item that I don’t have

So enter my new favorite trick:

This involves two different things:  one you already know how to do and the other is an app that makes it all possible

The app is nothing complicated it’s called business calendar and it looks like this:

And it will sync with Google Calendar (which I use constantly)
Google Calendar though does not have this feature which makes my trick possible

Also I like business calendar better because it allows you to switch between calendars easier but that’s a different story

Okay so say that you see something that you like

It doesn’t have to be on Pinterest technically this could be anywhere on the internet

But Pinterest is probably a very good example to use

You see something you like and you think “hey I want to use that”

And when do you want to use it?

Let’s say that you decide to make this amazing recipe next Monday for a snack for the kids:

So all you have to do is highlight the portion that you want:

For example if it’s a recipe most sites have a feature to “print recipe” and it makes it a little easier to get just the text for the recipe (without ads or a million pictures)
So you highlight the part that you want to keep either instructions or even pictures, whatever it is

And now here’s the part that you are already know:

Right click or hold down and go to “share”

Now normally you’re used to sharing things to social media but in this case instead of sharing it to Facebook, you’re going to share it to business calendar:

Business calendar will then open up an event for you on your calendar:

And look! All the info you highlighted is already there! This is exactly how it comes up! I haven’t typed anything yet!

And now you have the option to set the date for this event and even the time because now this is something that you have scheduled on your calendar that you can also do everything you would normally do with an event on the calendar: set reminders, set alarms, whatever.

Like…. set an alarm to go get certain craft project products in order to do the project in the first place (that’s always my problem)

Or maybe set a reminder to buy a specific food product maybe that wouldn’t normally be on your shopping list so that you can make those special cupcakes you saw on Pinterest

Business calendar will also, if you highlight this portion, (which is usually at the bottom of a recipe for example) it will also put a link to the site that you got this information from so if you go to do a project or a recipe and want to go back to the original site all you have to do is click the link and there you go

This could be very useful in doing things like Advent calendars? Or birthday ideas? Or I like to do it with planning my menu when trying to use new recipes that I see on Pinterest
This way when it comes time to do it, there is information I need right there and I don’t have to search or get distracted or look around for it it’s right there when I need it all the information together

It’s the best trick ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

Dear Garden

I love how you have been growing this year
The lantanas have expanded and have amazing flowers
The cannas are getting big and healthy
The peppermint is spreading and I can smell it as I move around
And all our new additions this year are growing and love it here
It makes me happy to be here
You are really so beautiful
And so many times we say something is beautiful
And somehow that means it’s perfect
But that really isn’t true
I look around and I think to myself:
You need me to come mulch the other half of the bed better
Your roots are getting too hot
You aren’t holding in the water like you should
And the weeds are springing up too fast
You are fighting fights you don’t have to
And you are working hard in ways you shouldn’t have to
In fact, in some ways it seems you are getting too used to fighting
Let me prune you back some
Let me give you a little extras food
And I think you would feel better
You would grow easier
You would have to fight less
You would be cool and calm
You would be even more beautiful than you are now
But change is hard
Even as I do these things, you sulk, you wilt
And in the process, I’ll admit, branches and stalks will be broken off
You might have a few difficult days after I am done
But in the long run things will be better for you!
You won’t like me getting into the details of your life
You don’t like me rearranging your branches
But just trust me, this is a better spot
And if you’ll let me, you’ll get more sun this way
You’ll have it easier
And you’ll be happier.
Trust in the process

Much Love,
The Gardener