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 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 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 Food, Getting Organized, Getting Started, Planning the Menu

Why You Should Plan your Menu by Type instead of by Day

I’ve been rearranging lately
I’ve come to realize that planning a menu by days of the week is useless
I have done it that way for years
And I usually write down what we are having Monday
And that goes well
And then Tues I follow the menu also
But then Wed, eh I do something else
And then barely look at it the rest of the week
This I think is a reflection
Of my busy days
Weekends are the craziest days
Week days are calmer and more organized
So why do I plan every day the same?
Despite all my best intentions
There will be a day where I’m like:
What the crap? It’s 5pm already? What are we having for dinner?!?
That’s at least once a week despite any well thought out meal schedule
Especially when everything on the menu requires a brain and forethought
And some days I have neither

Or there will be a day I just don’t feel like cooking at all
and just want to eat something and get on with our lives
Why does dinner have to be such a huge event?
(I mean my kids are fed and back to their stuff in less than a minute,
why do I stress about it?)

So here is my new board:
imag3373_burst002.jpg
You can have it here: Type of Meal
I’ve found it’s easier to plan a REAL menu this way
(one that will last us for two weeks)
Because it makes me think of a variety of meals
Instead of planning what I am in the mood for right then
Because then TOMORROW
When I’m in the mood for Tacos
We will only have stuff for Soup
And suddenly it feels like we have to go grocery shopping again
Even though we just went…

On Pinterest I used to have just one board called “Main Dishes”
And it had around 600 pins on it
No kidding haha
So I thought it was time to get a little more specific and make things a little more usable
And lately I’ve been revamping them into categories
Now I have the following “Dinner” boards and it’s been so much better
I know Pinterest gets a bad rap sometimes
But it really is an excellent resource
That probably doesn’t get used WELL enough
It gets used…but using it to help me actually feed my family
And help us not just eat Mac n’Cheese every night
Now that is the trick…

So here are the different categories I made:
(click on the highlighted title to see the whole board)
Dinner: A Healthy Twist
This is a link to all those “sub” lists
And ideas of how to make my diet better
Things I should do more often
Dinner: Casseroles
Who invented these?
Probably big families, right?
A one stop meal
Everything included
Whether you like it or not 🙂
Dinner: From the Crock pot
I love it when I have it together
And those days I usually do the crock pot game
It’s easy, it’s organized
And you have all day to do the dishes before you get tired 🙂
Dinner: Just for Kids
Have you ever made the spaghetti noodle thing?
I have, it’s so fun
Here are foods that are fun for kids
Things I should do more often
Especially when the husband is working late
Dinner: Pasta and Rice
Does anyone else do this?
Pasta or rice is like an either/or
You can interchange them in almost anything right?
So I thought they could be a co-board
Things to make out of pasta or rice
And ingredients could be anything
Dinner: Salad
It’s summertime and so salad for dinner? YES.
It’s cold, it takes some nice relaxing chopping
And there is dinner
And I usually keep it all separate so everyone can just choose their own
Dinner: Tacos
I live in California
And can I just say?
We have the best Tacos in the country
And there are so many kinds!
Easiest thing ever and I am in love
Dinner: Sauces
You ever see those recipes for that amazing BBQ sauce?
Or Alfredo sauce? Or salsa?
I see those and I think of all kinds of things I want to try
And then I forget I have them
So I made a whole board for them
Sauces to try for dinner
I guess it’s kinda like planning an outfit around your new shoes?
Dinner: Sandwiches
Quesadillas count as sandwiches, just so you know
I am the worst at this
I see these ideas for sandwiches
And they look SO GOOD!
So why do I feel like such a slacker making them for dinner?
This could also be part of the Lunch board I guess
But hopefully this will help remind me to make these
Dinner: Something with Beef
This category is sometimes difficult
Technically you could put any of these in other boards as well
I put these here because I thought Beef was the pivotal item involved
No matter how it was cooked
Dinner: Something with Chicken
We eat a lot of chicken and sometimes it feels like we do the same recipe over and over
Again, some of these could be put different places
But the key ingredient here is Chicken
Dinner: Soup
Soup is wonderful in the winter
But so many times for me, it has nothing to do with the season
It has more to do with the fact that you can make soup
Put it in the crock pot
And cook it all day
And your house smells amazing
And you feel like the best cook ever
And it’s the best meal ever
That’s my experience with soup
(at least as an adult)
Dinner: Turn on the Oven
I love to bake
Why do I not do it more often?
And why does it seem like anything you bake involves pizza?
I have no answers to these questions
This is definitely something to investigate
But in the meantime, pizza is good 🙂
Dinner: We’ve got Company Coming
Am I the only one who only does appetizers for company?
Normally, this appetizer is: It’s time for dinner, come sit down
But when company comes
Whether it’s family or “real” company
I always start thinking of something more to do
So this list includes appetizers
And different fun things to do that are extra special

As well as these boards:
What’s for Breakfast?
So many times we just have cereal
And I would say more often than not
We have Breakfast for Dinner
So this is for Breakfast…
But it’s also kinda one of my Dinner boards 🙂
What’s for Lunch?
Usually we all eat at school or work
But during the summer?
Suddenly I am wondering what in the world is for LUNCH???
So this is a lot of School Lunch ideas
That I’ve been using to think of ideas here at home too
(and I’ll use them later for school lunches too)
What’s for Dessert?
Need I say more?
We all need more ideas for cookies
You can never have too many… 🙂

So…. what’s for dinner???
This is what our next two weeks looks like:

Casserole: 
Ravioli Lasagna
Ravioli-Lasanga-41


Crockpot: 
Pineapple Chicken Verde
pineapple-chicken-verde-v-

Kids: Animal Sandwiches
funkylunch_7


Pasta/Rice: 
Ham Fried Rice
c69c9ed067d18356f5dd369f07842f87


Tacos: 
Chalupas
7eacf79ae690e6835ec2d42d4d28a2f4


Salad: 
Skinny Tuna Salad
Healthy-Greek-Yogurt-Tuna-Salad

Sandwiches: Bacon Monte Cristo
Bacon Monte Cristo Finger Sandwiches


Beef: 
Meatball Subs
crock-pot-meatball-sub-recipe


Chicken: 
Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
8d67a5190a9617759030c9337ffc703f


Soup: 
Posole
(only I use green sauce, not red)
ed7e306f85179f0297b39a7c20e4dd9b


Oven: 
Sliced Baked Potatoes
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Company: Chicken Enchiladas
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Posted in Decorations, Getting Organized, Getting Started, Throwing Parties

8 Ways to Make your Party Better

When my husband and I were dating
One of the conversations we had was this:
Let’s be the people that have parties all the time
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Now we don’t drink, do drugs or “party” in the “traditional” sense
But we do have great parties anyway
And I can honestly say that now 10 years later
We are the people that give parties all the time
And since we have four young children
These are not cocktail parties 🙂
These are birthday parties, Halloween parties, and BBQs 🙂
Someday I imagine we will graduate to “Older” parties (lol)
But until then, we throw an amazing birthday fiesta 🙂

Since I have four kids, I also ATTEND lots of birthday parties
And lots of other activities and events kid related
And so next is my list of things that I think make up a good party
These are things that I do WELL when the party goes well
And these are things I have NOT DONE and regretted it later
So please don’t think this is a “I do these perfectly” list
But rather a “This is what I SHOULD do” list
And maybe what YOU should do and learn from my mistakes and successes?
Right?
Alright, here we go:
costumes
1. Prep the Venue
My house has permanent nails on the patio ceiling
What are these for?
These are for hanging lines of balloons and sparkly hangers
They have been there for years
You know why?
Because I assume I will have a party this week
And again in a few weeks or months
And I plan things/adjustments for my house
Based on “This will come in handy at the next party”
Do you?
Having a party go well is actually much dependent on the history
The first time it’s an experiment and everything is unexpected
But the next time it should get easier
And especially if your venue is your own house
As many parties are?
You can build on prior parties! Lights, decorating, flow of people
Those are all things you KNOW about your house and your yard
And planning for those things gets easier if you build on the past

Every year (except for last year) we throw a Halloween Party
And every year I get asked: How do you throw a party like this?
The answer is simple: I don’t.
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I threw an OK party the first year
And a better party the next year
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A slightly better party the following year
And at year NINE, it’s becoming more and more of a process
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The party is a built thing
And something I construct and add to every year
I didn’t buy all the decorations the first year, or the second…or even the third
I didn’t USE certain areas until many years later

So you’re saying: But I don’t throw a Halloween Party every year
Yes, but do you have kids?
Do you plan on celebrating their birthday every year?
Then you have years of parties to plan
Welcome to the party planning club 🙂

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2. Plan your Time
The clock is ticking
The party is in an hour
And the reality is you can only do so much
At some point, the guests will arrive
And prep time will be over
So you need to work out a list of priorities:
What can be done DAYS before?
For example: Balloons can be blown up the day before and hung
(As long as the weather is not too windy)
What HAS to be done the DAY OF?
It’s probably not recommended to make the cupcakes a week in advance…
And if you clean everything a week before, it’s probably not going to last
But buying the cups and plates can be done anytime?
And the hot dogs/hamburgers can be frozen…but not the buns…
The difference between a good party and an OK party hinges on these things
And I think so many times
(And I include myself in this group)
we think “Eh, it’s just a birthday party, no big deal”
But again, great parties hinge on planning
Even small ones

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3. Plan for Anxiety

Your guests are apprehensive about coming to your party
Some of them don’t really want to come
But they will anyway.
Some of them will want to leave early
And some will
And some people won’t be attending a party of yours ever again
Because of the last time they came
And I’m sure there are people who say this about my parties too
So the best thing you can do is this:
Plan for Anxiety
Think of what makes you feel nervous about parties you attend
And think what the people coming to your house will need
Are there little kids in attendance?
(their parents will be grateful you provided them with something to do)
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Are there young parents coming?
(they might be grateful for appetizers, swim diapers and sunscreen they forgot)
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Are there older people coming?
(they might appreciate a soft chair and a quiet place to watch)
Will there be nursing mothers or diapered babies?
(at some point they will be asking you for a quiet room alone to take care of business)
You as the host need to plan and EXPECT these issues from your guests
And be ready to handle them,
Even to handle them up front
Your guests will be relieved.

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4. Plan the Entertainment

Again, this sounds silly. Entertainment?
It’s a party, of course they will be entertained!
It’s a party! Everyone will be….partying!!!
But seriously:
How are you really going to ENTERTAIN your guests?
Say we are having a swim party
Not everyone will want to swim
What will they do?
And not everyone will want to swim ALL the time
What will they do for a break?
Not everyone likes the noise and chaos of a party
Where can they go to escape the craziness?
You got a bounce house and games for the kids
What will the parents be doing? (besides being bored to death)
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Dinner is in an hour
But my kid is starving and cranky, what do you have now?
I’m being supportive but I really don’t know anyone
Introduce people. It’s a dying art. People need this so many times…

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5. Plan for the Baggage

We all know that kids require a lot of STUFF
When attending a party, the first thing I worry about is:
Where is our “CAMP” going to be?
Where will I put my bag/our towels/the diaper bag?
So that I know where it is and my kids know where it is
(so that we don’t lose shoes, underwear, toys, etc at your house)
Where will we sit comfortably?
Where will I change clothes?
Where is the bathroom?
Where is the food?
Where can I sit so I can talk to people and enjoy myself?
These are all problems that I think very often take a backseat to the cake and decorations but are some of the most important aspects of your party
People need to know there is a place for them
Both physically and socially
At your party
So often I’ve been cramped into some bench or a hot corner
Or turned around awkwardly on a couch corner trying to talk to someone
Thinking to myself: When will this party end???
Plan more seats, plan nice cool corners
Plan spots where parents can sit and watch
And myself, I have never thought I do the best job on this
I ALWAYS think I could do more
And at every party I am eyeing different areas
Trying to figure out how to make the seating and gathering better
And it’s never perfect
Because people are awkward and weird
But the better the atmosphere caters to comfort
The better everyone will get along

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6. Plan The Decor:

It sounds silly to say this
But your decorations should scream:
PARTY!!!
And if they don’t
If all you can manage is a few streamers?
Your party will instead scream:
I don’t really feel like partying and neither should you
I have been to very few parties that I felt had enough decorations
Very few….especially birthday parties…which is sad really…
Most of the time the decorations say:
I don’t want to have this party, but I guess we have to…
Party people!!! Blow up more balloons!
Get out the dangly things!
Run lights!
Make it seem like a HUGE DEAL
And everyone will follow your example
Be happy
Play loud music
Have lots of balloons
Eat a piece of cake
And enjoy yourself

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7. Plan to have things handled

When people come in the door for a party
They want to know a few things almost instantly:
Where do I put this (thing I brought)?
(In my experience, it’s like it will burn their hand off if they don’t have a place to put it the second they walk in. So have the “drop off” very close to the door so they can set it down and move on with their lives)
The next things they want to know are these:
Where is the food? (Appetizers help lots)
Where can I get a drink? (coolers front and center)
Where is the bathroom? (arrows or signs?)
Where is the party? (sound easy but you’d be surprised,
many people will feel “lost” in your house
even though common sense would tell them
to just walk toward the party sounds.  
Also, people don’t want to just walk into your house,
they feel they need permission so this is where you come in
(even though you’ve already invited them to the party))
These are all issues you need ready answers for when people walk in
If you don’t, just fake it
No one wants to feel like asking for a drink is an inconvenience or an annoyance to you
Nor do they need an apology from you about the state of the bathroom
Clean your bathroom, don’t make excuses, handle it.
And while you are at it, make sure there’s enough TP in there 🙂
(thanks ahead of time from all of us)

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8. Plan for a Contingency Plan

What happens if something happens?
What if the food isn’t ready?
What if you run out of drinks?
What if something catches on fire? (lol)
What if someone gets overheated/too cold?
What if someone gets hurt?

Now outside of calling 911 for emergency
And a ready first aid kit
The minor emergencies are going to be handled by YOU
And every party needs an errand runner
Be careful about who you choose
(the birthday boy can’t go run errands or that messes up other things)
And be careful what you assign out
(if your assign someone who is super late to bring the appetizer you’ve just defeated the purpose of appetizers)
But be ready to handle issues and disasters and last minute needs with ease
And remember that as HOST
You cannot be the one to run out for ice
Someone had to be the Captain
And you can’t be both Captain and Errand Runner at the same time
(unless you want to run away from your own party…)

And most importantly…. Have fun!
The Host sets the tone
Enjoy what you have created 

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

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#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!!

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.
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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.

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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

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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

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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
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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.

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#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):
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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!

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#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
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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

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#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
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(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

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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)

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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
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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

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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
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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!)
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My front walkway is all Daylilies and they are so pretty
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They are hardy, LOVE the heat
And big pretty flowers most of the summertime
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And even when there are no blooms
You get nice green “grassy” plants to accent the garden:
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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
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(took me 3 weeks to come up with that title, be grateful!)