Posted in Cell Phone Apps, Getting Organized, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

8 “Educational” Game Apps for High Schoolers

Part III:
See here for the Intro
See here for the Serious Apps

So here is a list of the Games we played this year
The basic philosophy of playing Games was this:
1. They are going to play SOMETHING
Why not have them playing something educational?
2. Going along with this “training for adulthood” idea that I talked about before, kids need to be introduced to games that are both educational and popular and even beneficial.
I mean just because we are adults doesn’t mean we have to be serious all the time right???
Making them play games gives them some exposure into Other games out there besides the kill-zombies and battle/homesteading games or race car games that I see them play so often.
Not that those aren’t fun but… exposure here is the idea.
Give them an introduction to other things out there

So here is a list of games we played and how they went:
words with friends
#1: Words With Friends

Excellent connection to English, don’t you think?
This game went fantastic
and overall I think this was the favorite for the year
Only a few kids had actually played this game
But most had heard of it?
The rule was they HAD to play someone from class
(That way everyone got to play)
I required them to play 10 games TOTAL
Over a 3 week period

Problems we had:
1.  games can go on for days and days and days…
So don’t expect them to do “a game a day”
But rather be finished by the time the 3 weeks were up
2. I think the 3 week time period was too long.
By the end of week 2 everyone was sick of it
I think they really enjoyed playing it for the two weeks

alphabetty saga
#2: Alphabetty Saga
This game is like Candy Crush and Boggle put together
The goal is to get a certain number of candies to the bottom
And you spell words to eliminate tiles
Again, good English game I thought
And there are an infinite number of levels
And it’s super cute and actually pretty difficult
I had them set a goal to get to level 15 or 20 I think
For the most part everyone did, a few got stuck
Overall good game

Problems we had:
1. Overall it was enjoyable, but overall it wasn’t as “educational” as I would have liked. You don’t really have to come up with big words, you can spell “can” and “be” and “me” and still win. But still, at least it got them thinking a bit?
2. I wasn’t really sure what a realistic goal was.  In the end I said 15 figuring that would be one level a day if we played every weekday for three weeks? Some people had a hard time but overall, it was a low goal. I think next time I will have more of a competition or something so that they try harder to get to higher levels?
3. Same problem as Words with Friends, I think next time two weeks would be fine, the third week everyone is sick of it

.4_Pics_1_Word
#3: 4 Pics, 1 Word
Another favorite of the year!
I think it would be a tie between this one and Words with Friends
This was both challenging and educational
I was very pleased at the new words that kids learned
(like I helped a kid with the word “sliver” and he couldn’t get it because he only knew that word in Spanish! ha! Funny what we learn and don’t learn, huh?)
Basic idea in case you don’t know:
You get 4 pictures and you have to guess what word they ALL show
Seems simple enough but actually kinda hard because they can be tricky
Advice I gave my classes was this: Stop overthinking it!
These are not obscure vocab words, there are common words!
Relax and don’t complicate it!
It was super fun

Problems we had:
1. I set a goal for them to reach 100 or 200, I can’t remember and they BLASTED past it like in a second. I had a kid at like level 300 on the first day we played it! Finally just did a competition for who could get the highest and that went a lot better. The kid who won got to level 900!!
2. Many kids were already playing this: which is fine, but it made it hard to tell them “Get to level 200” when they were already there 🙂

trivia crack#4: Trivia Crack
Another favorite!
This was the first “Trivia” game we played
This game has four categories and it asks you questions from each
So it applies to English
But also History, Geography, Sports and Science
You can play a Random person
Or you can play friends
And most kids had a good time playing each other
And I got to play a few students as well
Questions are kinda random but some are actually hard
To win you have to win all the little icons
Very entertaining to spin the dial and answer questions
I quite enjoyed this one

Problems we had:
1. It is possible to only have one person and then lose.  (this happened to me several times lol) You keep playing until you miss a question so if you miss a question, there is no guarantee that you will ever get another one. haha When it is finally our turn again, your partner might have already gotten all their icons or close to it. You can challenge them and upset them but really you don’t play AGAINST them so much as WITH them.

mindgameslumosity#5: Mind War and Lumonosity
I started out with Mind Wars thinking this would give them a wide variety to choose from
But it didn’t really work at all
Most of the kids were too overwhelmed at the beginning
There are a list of games
And many of them are free
But then of course they want you to buy it to play the rest
I just think this is a game they would have liked later
For the most part, they didn’t play these

th (4)#6: Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
This is another trivia game
Very similar to Trivia Crack
Modeled after the show if you’ve seen that
They enjoyed this one also
But I think that we played this one a little too soon after Trivia Crack
Everyone loved that one
And this one was just okay
Not quite as cute
And not quite as entertaining
Mostly an ordering problem I think?

Ideas for MORE:
unnamed (1)7. Fish Grammar!
I thought this was the CUTEST game ever
You are the scuba diver
And the fish/sharks/whales swimming by are parts of speech 🙂
To get points you have to “catch” the right words
And if you catch the wrong ones, you get docked points
Super cute, actually very fun to play
I thought this would be a good starter game at the beginning of the year?
Good review on Parts of Speech, easy to play
But we never got to play it
But biggest problem:
It’s only made for Androids 😦
So if they ever make an iPhone version
We will totally be playing this game!

th (1)
8. Word Ox
I found this game towards the end of the year
And it looks pretty good
It is very similar to Words With Friends
Only you can move and use any tiles on the board
Seems a little more cutesy and geared to younger age
But it could still work 🙂
word ox screenshot
It might be one we will play this next year?

I would love to hear any suggestions for more!!

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Posted in Cell Phone Apps, Getting Organized, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

10 High School Apps your student needs to be using

th (3)#1: Google classroom:
My district bought access to this program this year
so we used it because that was the big push.
(I also really searched a program called OneNote
that I also really liked but the  decision was made for me in this case)
Google Classroom is a nice way to organize assignments,
post HW for kids who were absent
(especially for things we do in class like watch clips or have a handout or even a quiz) because it can just all be “on Classroom” and it’s all easy to access.
image
You can attach documents, links, or post it right there as text
Kids can take pictures of their work and attach them to the assignment
or take screenshots of their work
or just simply write a note that says  “turned this in physically” and turn it in.

image
On their end, the program tells them what they have turned in,
what’s missing
and what has been graded already once I “return” it to them.

I LOVE THIS: At the first of the year it didn’t do this but as the year has progressed, they have done some cool things: the best thing so far is that they linked Google Classroom with Google Calendar so now when I open up my calendar, it says what is due that day (which I don’t need to know technically since I’m the teacher not the student haha) so no need to Enter the assignment, it’s all synced together. Helps to keep everything organized and together

image
Other Options: The Counseling dept has their own “classroom” that they post links to scholarships and such and remind kids of workshops and things.
So far I’ve seen kids have 3 or 4 “classes” on their programs (most of this all being done on their cell phones)

1st Problem:
The gradebook is my biggest complaint I would say.
I’ve heard there is a way to sync it with your gradebook
but so far no progress on that.
So I can “grade” their stuff on Classroom
On my cell phone even
but then I still have to write down their scores
and enter them on my other program to go on their actual grade.
It makes for a lot of in between  time that is irritating.
And I get a lot of “I turned this in on Classroom” claims:
some legit, (this is where the sync problem comes in)
Others not legit from kids who turn in an assignment a month later
and tell me “oh I turned that in on classroom

My idea: I wish there was a way to set a timer on the assignment
Like if they try to turn it in after a certain time it will just be like,
“oh sorry, you have to talk to your teacher about this”
or the window would pop up and say
“thanks for turning this in, but it’s two weeks late so you’ve been docked points”
whatever those points are.
And then if that was synced to enter on my gradebook automatically?
That would be sweet

image
2nd Problem: The program will show you
how many people have turned in the homework
but doesn’t show you how many are already graded
So unless you remember that you already graded 16
and now it says 18
so you have two more? Or did you already grade those?
then you get a lot of kids telling you “oh I turned that in already”
see what I mean?

Lately it has started showing a “returned” amount
image
Which would solve the problem
IF
It worked all the time 🙂
It says the “returned” numbers on some assignments
But then it doesn’t

The other solution is to just go through and delete them altogether
but frankly we get busy and I forget to
and then I regret it later when I’m checking back over stuff
that I “forgot” to enter supposedly.

Google-Calendar-icon-1024x1024
#2: Google Calendar

We use this in our business like CRAZY
Don’t know what we ever did without it
And now Google Classroom will link all the assignments Calendar
And send you reminders for your HW (in red):
screenshot_20160518-145823.png
Different colors for different classes?
You can make as many “calendars” as you need
(one for each class!)
Or show them all at once
At home I use this on the computer LOTS
And it will look up addresses for you
And link it to MapQuest when you get ready to go places
(saved my life many times)
I used many different systems in the course of
High School
College
And my Masters
And I WISH this would have existed
I don’t know how many hours I wasted
Just getting everything organized
And this does it for you!

mzl_cywklifn

#3: CRAM!!!
This is my favorite app that we use
We use it every week to study for their vocab test
It lets you create your own flashcards
And then helps you study them:
VB#12 Word practice (Friday May 13, 2016 7-59 AM, PDT)
And then there are two different games you can play
That the program plugs in the info from your cards
And puts them in a matching game
Screenshot_20160513-082622
I love this program overall

Only Complaints:
1. The program signs them out: the kids complain about this all the time,
But to me, that answer is pretty simple: sign in again 🙂
2. I had a few kids get their stuff erased, but I would say there was like 2 kids all year that happened to.  We do 6 Vocabulary units per quarter so by the end they have 24 sets of cards but really only need 6 at a time so most of the time it was fine.
2. There are only two games: and they are great, don’t get me wrong,
But after using it all year, I think the kids would love another option 🙂

google-drive#4: Google Drive
It used to be for many years
That at every school the kids were always encouraged to
“save on Their Drive”
Each kid had their own network account
And that was great…
Except once they went home
There was really no way to transfer info
That was where disks, flashdrives, CDs, etc
came into play
And then there were all these rules about what they could use
Because of viruses and things that the kids would come
And now the WHOLE network had some crazy virus
And it was a HUGE hassle all the time
Just trying to get a COPY of their work
File didn’t save right… computer wouldn’t read the file
All a bunch of nonsense really
And this fixes it all
They can type on their phones,
They can type on a computer
And when they finish, they can save it the Drive
And access it from home, their phone or a computer
At school or at home
No need for a flashdrive anything, they just have to log on
The doc opens us, they print
Or they share it with me
And it can all be digital!
No printers, no viruses, no hassle
LOVE

google-docs-02-535x535
#5: Google Docs
I would say this is the other most important app we use
This lets the kids type on their phones 🙂
No more computer lab time
No more computers at all
They can type their paper on their phones
During class, waiting for the bus, traveling, wherever
We had to do a few lessons to learn this program,
But it’s really not a difficult program to learn at all
In the beginning I projected my phone on the screen
And we “typed” a paper together
And showed them how to save and send and such
And most importantly, how to send to Classroom
So that they could turn in their homework
At the beginning they had several “assignments”
And I use quotes because they were kinda fake and kinda real 🙂
Mostly they were to help them practice and use the program
I had them do things like download a doc
Edit it
Share it with a friend
Edit it again
And save it
And finally turn it in.
I would say this program is mostly second nature now

Only problem:
It’s hard to tell where the “pages” are with this program
So I started learning to say not “Write a 2 page essay”
But write a 500 word essay
Which maybe some of you already do?
I didn’t. But I do now because of this program

 

Reading Online:
#6:Kindle
#7: Nook
#8: Kobo books
#9: Goodreads (for book recommendations)
#10: Watt books

Any of the above apps
Are ones I encouraged them to use
Plus giving them links to online books
(Like when we read 1984 I found online links to the book)
If we are doing this whole “digital” revolution
Might as well include reading in that bag as well!
This way they can read their “independant reading” on their phone
And there are no excuses 🙂

There are TONS of books available for free
And then there are other programs
Where you can get SOME for free
And then buy a subscription for more
th
There is a subscription you can sign up for at BookBub.com
That will send you email alerts every day
And tell you when there are FREE or almost free digital books available
And I have gotten TONS of free books that way

BIGGEST Problem:
You have to have a credit card on file
Which is fine for normal adults
And it doesn’t mean you have to buy anything
But try telling that to a parent of a teen
Who “swears they won’t buy anything
Ya… it doesn’t work
So I have an Amazon account
Which means that even downloading FREE books
They treat it like a purchase
Even though you aren’t actually buying anything
Which is fine for me
But not for a teenager
I would say that is our biggest obstacle

Posted in Cell Phone Apps, Getting Organized, Getting Started, High School, Teaching

Tools Not Toys: Getting started on educational cell phone use

The beginning of this year school year
I set out to find some apps that I could use in my classroom
And I don’t teach Elementary
I teach High School
And I don’t teach the sweet little freshmen
I teach Seniors 🙂
(cringe, right? It’s actually really fun)
The biggest problem I found is this:
There is almost no such thing as a”High School app”
(go ahead, trying searching for that, few to none exist in any official form)
There are TONS and TONS and then TONS again
Of “Elementary School level apps”
There are games and sites and things galore
And all super super cutesy!
(Big hearts and smiley faces and emoticons here)
But really, Seniors don’t do cute
I mean they kinda do? Sometimes?
(they won’t it admit it but they will)
But really, after researching pages and pages of Cute Cute Apps
I came to the conclusion that High School doesn’t need High School Apps
They need Grown-Up Apps that they should start learning how to use already
The goal is not to teach them about surviving High School
(Although that will be part of it)
The goal is to teach them how to survive college, a job and LIFE

I came up with two types of Apps:
Serious Educational Tools Apps and
Fun Games with Hidden Educational Goals Apps 🙂

High school kids I decided, needed three things:
1. Ways to use their phones in the Adult world to work and to study better
2. Games and fun things to do on their phone that will make them smarter and more prepared instead of well…the opposite effect that most social media has.
3. Ways to use their phone well in a way that will BENEFIT them in the end and they need to learn to make it do that, not just use it waste time and get into trouble
Those were my basic goals when I chose what we would use

Once I had this in hand, my basic problem was this:
What now?
How do you teach kids to use their cell phones in class without it being a disaster?
How do you teach kids to WORK and now just PLAY with their phones?
Where do you even start?

So below are the problems I ran into and mostly how I fixed them:

1. We have to Download what???
Hand out A list of “Things to Download” from Day 1!
Lots of kids in and out, lots of craziness at the beginning of the year
And lots of questions
So make a list and tell them: please have this downloaded by tomorrow!
There were lots of raised eyebrows, lots of surprise even
And a lot of hesitation and responses like “okay…I guess?”
Games can be downloaded as they go and uninstalled when we are done
But the stuff we use constantly, they need all those ASAP
At the end of the list of “Apps to Download”
The last thing to do was to make a Folder on their phone and put all these things in the same folder so they had easy access.
They did it, but I think most of them probably thought I was nuts 🙂
Now at the end of the year, kids use their phones constantly to hand in work
And now it’s all more instinctual than anything

2. A Wifi Connection:
We were promised this at our school this year
YAY!
But ya…didn’t really happen completely
It kinda did in some areas of school
But not in mine 😦 Would have been nice…
This caused some problems as the year went on (see C and E below)

3. Data Usage Negotiating: What do we need???
A. For some kids it doesn’t matter: they have unlimited data, they use it however much they want, and whatever
B.  Some kids have limited Data, so they can’t do the assignment there but they can do it at home later (which has Wifi) and turn it in that afternoon (something to warn about and plan for)
C. Some kids have a phone that could log on to WiFi and work fine if such a thing existed… but alas…
D. Some kids don’t have phones or data: I had ONE kid in my CP class and ONE kid in my General that didn’t have a phone and now at the end of the year, I have one kid that has never gotten a phone.(out of about 100 kids) To me the whole “But what if they don’t have a phone?!?!” argument is pretty much void these days as most kids own the best phone money can buy.
BUT, even if they don’t, most apps are accessible from a normal computer (one of my kids had to do this for awhile because his phone got ruined and didn’t get replaced for about a month) but now the question is whether they have a computer with internet at home? Maybe, maybe not. I would say in general this is not a problem and I just worked out the work on an individual basis
E. Data Overload: I would say that number one “complaint” I have had this year about my class is the amount of Data the kids use (mostly by parents who call to whine that THEY cannot use any Data because their kid is using it all for “educational purposes.”LOL) I think much of this would be solved by the Wifi actually working, but other than that, YES, using Apps uses more Data than…doing nothing. Again, I would say nothing to really be done about it other than try to provide WiFi? I don’t have a solution to this one, guilty as charged 😦 🙂

4. Space on their Phone: I think one of the other “First” conversations we have to have is “what you should delete to make room” talk.  Most kids have tons of pictures, videos and etc etc on their phone and are like “I can’t download that, I don’t have room” to which I answer, “Well, go ahead and just delete Snapchat and I’m sure you’ll have room!” They roll their eyes and smile because the message came through: you have room, you just have a  bunch of crap on there and I need you to download something educational, get your priorities straight!” 🙂 It’s a hard thing and I even had a kid tell me he deleted Google Classroom because he was “making room” for all his Snapchat storage (Ya, guess what his grade is, haha)

5. Backing Up your Info Already!!! This conversation topic inevitably follows next and includes a talk about things like Google Drive and Dropbox where MAYBE (I dunno, you know, you could think about it) you should be backing up all those pics and videos instead of just keeping them on your phone waiting to get ruined when you ruin yet another phone…???
I dunno, think about it….
And if you did, which would be SMART of you….
you would have room for what you can really use on your phone :)|

6. HOW-TO: You’d be surprised what kids really DON’T know how to do with their phones.  They know all the social media stuff, sure. But outside of that? It can be scary.  So a few basic lessons that they will need to do all that needs to be done with their phones:
*how to take screenshots,
*attaching files (docs, pics, screenshots),
*FINDING where their documents are :),
*Taking GOOD (readable) pictures of documents,
*using apps to type assignments (on their phones vs. a computer),
*How to edit/make comments on a document on their phone
*How to share documents with each other (peer reviews, turning in work)

7. iPhone vs. Android: When I was choosing Apps I realized that despite that it makes sense, and despite that you would think they always would, there are Apps that are only for one type of phone.  Major Apps will have both “versions” but smaller ones will not.  Mostly this was frustrating when choosing Game Apps because I’d find a KILLER AMAZING game and ya…only for Android or only for iPhones. Why would you only make ONE VeRsIoN??? I don’t get it but it’s true. Make sure you TEST and CHECK that your Apps work for both types of phones.

8. TOOLS NOT TOYS!!!! Inevitably, I give a speech about this and even have a handout if I remember right: Use your high tech computer for your BENEFIT not just as a very expensive TOY! All of these things we learn are supposed to HELP you—help with homework, help with doing things faster, doing things easier, becoming better, learning, growing and being a better student! That is what I want them to learn about—their “education” in how to use technology to waste time and pass on meaningless non-stop information is fully complete!! Let’s use phones as TOOLS, the Toy portion is when you get home! haha

Stay Tuned for Part 2:
Educational Apps we can’t live without

and Part 3: Educational Game Apps for High School

Posted in Gardening, Getting Started, Plants

Top 7 Plants for Hot Hot Summers

Here in Bakersfield, we have year round plant growing weather
We have winter but no snow
And it freezes, but not every day
And only during about a 2 month time period
(if at all)
(which means surviving winter is simply having a tarp handy to throw over the garden when the times comes)

This means a couple things:
1. Some plants that WOULD be annuals can be perennials
IMG_2138
(For example: these are alyssums I planted two years ago)
2. You can garden year round if you plant right (more later on that)
3. Here we don’t battle the snow, we battle the HEAT! The concern is not making it through the winter, it’s making it through the summer!

So based on these facts
(and sorry if you don’t live here and this doesn’t apply to you)
These are the plants that I have found are the BREAD WINNERS
These are the NO FAIL,
I can survive the worst gardener
I hold on with almost nothing
Plants for your yard 🙂
(and they look good too)

Alyssms
HERE are some perennial yellow ones
Or just your local Garden store

IMG_2159
Small white or purple flowers they seem so small and delicate but they can handle some major heat
They need good consistent water
But put these right by the sprinklers and they are GOLDEN
They get bigger and bigger
And if they are under some sort of overhang
(like under a tree or palm)
They will last for years
And they make you look like some amazing gardener 🙂

Lantanas
(Order pink/white and white ones HERE)

IMG_2151
These are another huge favorite
They come in purple, red/orange
And my favorite but I only have one
(the rest I have maybe 6-8 lol)
are the pink/yellow/purple ones
SO PRETTY
These are ALL over my yard
They love the heat
They grow bigger and better every year
They will come back every year easily
IMG_2144

Cannas
These are bulb plants
You can buy them at any garden store at the beginning of the year as bulbs
And then later as plants as the season goes on

IMG_2147

These are a little too hardy in some cases 🙂
My friend told me once that they had a small fire in her yard
And their whole yard went up in flames
The only thing to survive? The cannas 🙂
So beware of where you plants these maybe?
They will multiply 🙂
But as long as that’s what you want, it’s good
They will be full and beautiful
These pictured are the green leaf ones
There are also purple leaf ones
And the flowers on top are either red or yellow
Very pretty, very nice broad green leaves
And a good filler for hard places.
They need water but not tons and once established
Good luck EVER killing them off entirely 🙂
Good lazy gardener plant
They can get very tall–12 ft tall one year but average probably about 6-8ft

Peppermint
IMG_2148

This is another plant you will have a hard time ever killing 🙂
It multiplies
It can survive on little water
And it will multiply…and multiply….and multiply
Careful where you plant this!
I use this as a ground cover:
IMG_2141This flowerbed is often shaded and often has a lot of crap dropped on it from the palm trees
Most plants don’t like this area but my peppermint loves it!
Nice solution to a potentially hard spot
And every time you bug it, you will smell it!
Good scent I think, I always enjoy them

Furman’s Red Salvia
(Order some here)
IMG_2140I wish I had a dozen of these plants!
I have one main one that is now 3-4 years old
And it just gets better and better every year
It blooms almost constantly
And it’s a nice big bush now
It’s in one of the hottest places of the yard
Needs water but will take a hard day or two if it has to
Super pretty and super tough: LOVE

Purple Fountain Grass
(Order some HERE)
IMG_2143I have two big bushes of these and they are great
They cover up a big problem area in my yard because they get HUGE
And I think they are super pretty
Word to the wise though: these do need to be hacked down every year
And the “blades” are like tiny little papercutters
Wear gloves or you WILL get “papercut” type cuts all over your hands
Other than that, they are wonderful

Daylilies
(Order some HERE:
This site has 21 different kinds/colors so have fun choosing!)
IMG_2167
My front walkway is all Daylilies and they are so pretty
IMG_2166
They are hardy, LOVE the heat
And big pretty flowers most of the summertime
IMG_2164
And even when there are no blooms
You get nice green “grassy” plants to accent the garden:
IMG_2150

Posted in Gardening, Sprinkler Systems

Ways to Water (besides sprinklers)

They say that most sprinklers are completely ineffective
And that actually, your sprinklers are making your grass worse:
you water too often, too much and you’re making your grass into cement
And most of the water isn’t absorbed anyway

Around here we have been in a drought for about 3 years
That’s changed this year gratefully
But in that time I’ve come up with a few new ways to water
And I think to water BETTER than before
Ways to “Conserve Water” better and
really just to water better so that things grow better
Because here’s the number one factor in watering:
No Water=Dead Plants

So besides Traditional Sprinklers, the ones that just spray your grass
Here are some other options for your flowerbeds and gardens

Bubblers
These are pretty common I would say
Many houses come standard with these
And they are good, better than nothing right
But in the end, the problem is that the water goes where it wants to
IMG_2131So if you have bubblers, this is the solution: Trenches
12804667_10207923436458219_7706123950155093967_nUnless you want your water to just pool in the middle
And go no where
And for half your garden to die
You have to trench it and give the water a place to FILL
And a way for it to do all this BY ITSELF

IMG_2114(This is my lever to turn on the bubblers in my garden)
In flowerbeds, although not so square, the same rule applies
Give the water ROADS.  Tell it where to go
And your bubblers will do the rest
Next to my lawn I have small bushes
The sprinklers there are sprayers
And that’s fine except the bushes in certain sections get more water
So I dug a trench all along the base of them
So that when the sprinklers run
Any excess water will just run down the line to the dryer plants

Soak Systems
Now if you have bubblers
And want something more efficient
These are my next favorite:
IMG_2125Bubblers can be replaced with these heads
Or these heads if you have a larger area
And then you attach Soaker Lines
(like Soak HOSES but smaller and they attach to your sprinkler)
IMG_2133Which makes it nice because they will still run on the “schedule”
But will soak the bed instead of spraying it,
Which makes the water go directly into the dirt
IMG_2124And then if you put these UNDER a layer of mulch?
(This one is pulled out so you can see it)
All your water will stay with your plants
Not spraying, not evaporating 🙂
IMG_2126

Plant Circles
Fancy name right? Made it up myself
Don’t know if these have a name for real
Because I created them (patent pending! lol)
These are good to use if you have individual plants to water:
IMG_2130Or if you have potted plants on a patio
Use this method when you don’t want to water everywhere
Just a SPECIFIC spot

It’s still set up with a head like this:
IMG_2133Only now it’s just regular tubing
And then when you get to the place you want the water:
You put a joint (comes in packs of 25! happy jointing! haha)
in like this of soaker line:
IMG_2129IMG_2128So what gets watered is JUST the plant, not all the other stuff
(Which would cause weeds or a soaked patio)

Soak Hose…on a timer!
Soak hoses are the go-to for no sprinklers
They do the same thing as the other systems
But soak hoses require very little setup 🙂
IMG_2136The only problem is that if it’s just a hose
You have to remember to turn them on!
And if you get sick…or go on vacation….
Dead plants

So this is my solution:
IMG_2132Put the hose on a timer
It runs every day just like sprinklers
Or wow, look at this one, fancy and high tech
Put that on the wish list for me…

The year I used this, my back flowerbeds did the best ever
Only problem I had was in order for this to work?
You have to have the faucet on ALL THE TIME
Then the timer lets the water actually FLOW
Whenever you set it to
But the line is still ON
And in the case of the faucet the hose was on
That meant it leaked and sprayed
Not the product, MY faucet
I mean it’s outside, it’s older, of course it leaks!
And so after awhile I started turning it off during the day
Which if i have to do that, the “automatic” factor is out the window
But it definitely helped to just get the job done
And I didn’t have to “remember” all the time
it just happened just like sprinklers.

Now final words of advice:
Soaker lines only last 1 year, two years tops,
so you will have to replace them every other year
Mostly they break off the head, or they break in half
I’ve had gardeners wack them in half or kids pull them out
But for the most part, the plants hide them
Andthey work great so hey
Same with soaker hoses
Bubblers work for years
But you have to redo the Trenches pretty regularly also

Happy Watering!!!

Posted in Painting, Small Business

Why You Should Give your Painter a Break…

In honor of my namesake, here’s a Painting one for you: 🙂

2014-04-22 17.36.39
Why should you give your Painter a break?

  1. They have a life: the painter you call to paint your house is not a huge company. They are most likely their own boss and a small business.  They are not waiting around all day just to do bids, they have to do bids before/after/DURING the jobs they are already doing.  And most painters don’t charge to drive out to your house and chat for an hour.  They HOPE they get your business but if they don’t? They are out money. So when you call for a bid? That’s not the only thing they do in a day, that’s the MILLIONTH thing they do in day. And you know what else they have? A FAMILY.  They have bills, birthday parties, family dinners, kids in school and they have to go to all that also.  So when they need to reschedule? Maybe it’s not because they are so inconsiderate or unprofessional but because they are human? We aren’t the cable company that you are paying to come fix something, we get nothing to come talk to you, and true, sometimes it’s a complete waste of OUR time, not to mention yours.
  2. They have to make everything look good in the end: Painters are the last step in a long process of anywhere from 4 to 5 different trades.  All those other trades? They get to just do their thing and leave and never have to make it perfect.  Why is it not perfect? Because they know the next person down the line will be able to fix their mistakes and they are right. Carpenter’s work gets covered up by drywall or paint or lacquer.  Drywall work gets covered up by mudd and texture and paint.  Mudd is covered by paint in the end too.  The only thing that DOESN’T get covered up? The Paint.IMAG0483
  3. Your House was Never Perfect: Want to see a good example? Get a chair and take a look at the top of your interior door jambs sometime.  Go ahead. What most of you will find on the tops of your doors/closets? (especially in new homes) They aren’t finished.  Why? Because you’ll never see it and unless you know, you’ll never look or check or notice. Building a house is combining a million different factors and most of the mistakes you will never even know about. That wall? Ya, it’s not really straight. That wall? There have been patches in it but you can’t see them now. And in fact if you think about it, most of our houses are held together by nothing more than paper and mudd and some good wood supports. It looks solid and it will keep standing, but the details that make it one thing are many and until you start remodeling or renovating, you will never know the things that happened behind those nicely painted walls.
  4. New Paint doesn’t make everything new again:  Paint DOES make things look so much better. I’ve seen houses that I thought “Just tear this down, there’s not saving it” become these new amazing houses.  But it doesn’t make them new. SO many times we have jobs where the main complaint is not REALLY the paint, it’s the fact that the house is made poorly or the structure is falling apart. If you aren’t willing to FIX what is wrong, the paint can’t do the fixing.  Again, there are details wrong with your house that you don’t even know about or have not noticed until painters come and put a new color on.  Now suddenly you notice that poorly done patch, or you notice the line in your stucco wall where the wall was done in two separate passes.  The painters didn’t do this, it’s always been there and sometimes new paint can make it more obvious that there are problems.
    IMG_0007
  5. Making one thing nice makes everything else look worse: Unfortunately it’s true. It’s pretty standard in our company to always paint walls AND baseboards and trim and we even encourage strongly that when you paint the interior, you need to paint not just the walls, but the baseboards, the doors and the door jambs. Why? Because once you paint the walls the nice new clean color, you will suddenly notice that your doors, jambs and baseboards that you thought were wonderfully clean and spotless before are suddenly DISGUSTING.  Happens every time without fail.  Once you start, it’s hard to stop 🙂 (which is good for our business but bad for the budget, right?)
  6. Your Painter did things for free on your job: You know how I know they did? Because they want their final product to look good. So if you are happy about your paint job, you got free work.  Your painters cleaned up all the small mistakes, they scrubbed and swept up everyone else’s messes: the spills from that stucco patch, the sawdust from the carpenter, the lines you messed up last time you did this job yourself, the windowsills and ceilings that were overpainted by you or your last painter, the drips and mistakes they sanded off, the drips and stains in the cement where a patch was done, the trash, the hauloff, the litter even.  If they left it clean and nice, they did it because they wanted their job to look good and if they DIDN’T? Maybe they didn’t feel like cleaning up after everyone else (who don’t care).  99% of the time, none of these things are on the bill, they are just done because we know they need to be done or you will not be happy with your paint job.
  7. Everyone thinks they can paint…but they really can’t.  A real Painter makes it look easy right? They paint and voila, it’s beautiful.  They magically have all the right tools, the right equipment and they get it done fast and easy.  In reality, it’s a constant problem solving mission.  If you don’t know your paint, if you don’t know your tools, if you don’t know what you are doing, you can mess up a job with grand flair.  And just because YOUR job turned out well, doesn’t mean there weren’t problems. 🙂 But your painters took care of it, they fixed it, they did their job.  So while it looked like they were just going on about their merry way—and maybe they really were because your job was the small minority that came off without a hitch—but really, they were fixing, they were solving as they went–they figured out your paint, your house, the texture, the lines, the overspray, the yard, the wind, the animals and even the weather that day.  And in the end, we smile and there you go, thanks for the work! 🙂

So maybe you could give your Painter a break,
he’s working hard for you in ways you don’t even realize 🙂
Oh and PS?
The best way to say thank you? 
Have their payment ready to go when they finish 🙂
(not next week when you get around to it
or when you get back from your month in the Bahamas)
Thanks!

Posted in Getting Started

Getting our Eyeballs Right

gracies-calf
When I was young we always had animals
Horses, Cows, chickens, pigs later and of course dogs and cats
And because that’s the way of life
They would uh…reproduce
And I remember once sitting on the fence
Watching a calf being born
And thinking: This is so gross!
And although they are cute
I think I spent a large portion of the time
Thinking: This is disgusting.
Hair is all messed up
Poor thing can barely wobble around!

And I am the second of nine children
So I remember 5 of my siblings coming home
And I didn’t say “gross”
But I remember having a similar reaction:
Wow, look at this poor thing:
Hair is crazy, eyes all swollen
Skin peeling off, and eyeballs every which way

They say we have certain chemicals that are released
When we see babies so that we feel endearment
sympathy even, and feel the urge to care for them
Which is great, but doesn’t make the reality any different
Still crazy hair, weird eyeballs, and wobbly limbs
and crap everywhere….

I started a blog my first year “on my own”
I had my own job, my own apartment and lots of time 🙂
I wrote every day, buckets and buckets
And 6 years later, it’s FULL of “stuff”
And now I want to start a…ahem…”REal” Blog
And ya, I’m having the same sort of newborn experience.
Crazy headers, no categories, no archives, no history
This poor little baby site, all new and cute
And ya…not the most attractive thing is is?
But whatever
Here we go big world, it’s time to get our eyeballs right
And we’ll be up and running in no time…
….right?

And suddenly I’m remembering those newborn nights
Up every other minute
And thinking “What was it those people always said?”
“It goes by so fast”????
This NIGHT is an eternity!
Can we speed up to where this goes faster?
Because breakfast seems a really long way away…
So here’s to the night
And here’s to crazy hair days and wobbling beginnings
Welcome to The Painter’s Wife
IMAG2659

(took me 3 weeks to come up with that title, be grateful!)

Posted in Cleaning, Getting Organized

Tracking Daily Chores

IMAG2839
This is my favorite chart: Daily Chores

KEY:
DO Dishes: Run, Empty, Put Away
Wipe Down Kitchen:
Counter, Sink, Oven, Microwave, Door (pantry)
Floors: Sweep, Mop
Laundry: Run, Fold, Put away
Bathrooms: Straighten, Wash!
Make Beds: Master, Bedroom, Bedroom, Loft
Clear Table: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner
Vacuum: Master, Bedroom, Bedroom, Living Area
Pick Up Rooms: Master, Bedroom, Bedroom, Living Area
Weekly: (things that I need to just do once a week)
Create Meal Menu, Straighten Backyard,
Gym? (how many times), Grocery Shopping
Lunch Stuff (make things and freeze for faster mornings)
Garden? (spend some time weeding, upkeep, etc)

This is the thing that keeps my house cleaned up
I used to just “clean” and whatever got done, did.
But the problem is that I have a limited amount of brain cells these days
I think to myself: when did I last vacuum the living room?
Psshhh.. I did that just yesterday!
Um…. no, actually it was a week ago…
This helps me keep on track
Helps me focus when I clean instead of just going from thing to thing
Sometimes I’m not finished
I’m just tired of cleaning right?
And I get a special kind of thrill at checking things off
And getting my to-do list done for the day
These are My Chores as I call them

I put them in a plastic cover on the fridge
At the end of the week I just rinse it off under the faucet 🙂
Dry and reuse, it’s easy.

It also helps me NOT clean so much
I vacuumed the whole house yesterday?
Cool, day off today
And no matter what, I know that things are still getting done
I set a goal to vacuum every other day
And to mop at least once a week 🙂
And to sweep every other day

What chores need to be done on Saturday?
The whole list!

I’ve modified it several times
Putting in things that need to be done more often
Taking things off, putting others on
I have a 3 bedroom home as you can see 🙂
So modify it as you need and depending on what you have
I’m telling you, this chart keeps me SANE
And I highly recommend Sanity to anyone 🙂