Posted in art projects, craft projects, Decorations, Getting Organized, kids, Painting, Teaching, Uncategorized

Day 6 of Beginning Art Class


See here for details:
Teddy Bear Party:

Missed a Day? Check out these also:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Apps that Help Me Fold Laundry

It’s the ever-present evil: laundry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Netflix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Audible

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

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

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

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

3. Habits

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

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

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

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

4. Township

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Laundry Day!

Posted in Uncategorized

Anime meet The Babysitters Club

Have you seen these?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Dear Garden

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

Much Love,
The Gardener

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Important Factors in Amazing Photos

The Number One Factor

Here’s the reality: I’ve seen people with REALLY nice cameras
Take some really awful pictures
And I’ve seen some really amazing pictures
Taken with a phone
And I’ve seen a lot of people
Buy “a better camera”
(or have a loving relative gift them one for Christmas)
Thinking that will help them take better pictures
(which is KINDA will, but not really)
(and by now it’s probably collecting dust in a closet somewhere)
And I’ve heard people apologize for the quality of their pictures
Blaming it on their camera/phone
And saying it’s because their camera is not as nice
And that’s why their picture is not as good?

And in my head I always say two things:
A better camera wouldn’t help sweetie” (LOL sorry but it’s true)
And: “I take the picture, not the camera

So here is the first principle:
Hold up one finger
YOU are the most important factor
YOU are the one that determines the quality of the picture
And while Photoshop and high tech cameras HELP
(And correct many mistakes)
In the end, they always come second to YOU
This finger you are holding up
Presses the button and takes the picture
And that is the most important factor there is

2. The L Factor
Remember that finger you are holding up?
(What? You aren’t still holding it up???)
Now extend your thumb as well
Now you have an L
(you did that with your Left hand right?)
The second most important factor is Lighting
Diagnosing and assessing the quality of light
Is the number one reason your pictures will be poor or amazing
It’s the difference between a picture like this:
And a picture like this:
Light should be EVEN
It should be BRIGHT
But muted at the same time
Bright light makes people look like raccoons
And it makes them squint
None of which are very attractive 🙂
A good picture should show details
You should be able to see people’s eyes
And they should have a good smile
Or at least a good look on their face
(or whatever you are going for I guess)

3. The Dual Factor:
Hold up TWO fingers
There are two reasons to take a picture:
Recording and Art
Now the problem is that too many times people mix these up
Below is an example:
This is a picture of me and my daughter Kelsey shortly after she was born
It’s blurry
It’s too dark
But yet I still have it
Because it’s the only one I have of her and I at this time
The camera I had at the time was a piece of crap
And if you didn’t prefocus it and didn’t hold deathly still
You ended up with pics like this
And this is what we ended up with
So I will always have this picture
But it’s not something I will ever hang on the wall
And it’s not something I SHOULD put on the wall either
This picture is a RECORD of this event
It’s not Art
But that’s okay.

There are two reasons for taking a picture.

The second reason we take a picture is for Art
We take it to record
But we also want this Record to be on the wall for all to see
Pictures are a poor man’s murals 🙂
So do yourself a favor
And pay attention!!!
Record Photos are whatever they are:
Records of the event, EXACTLY as it was
Art Photos though are different
Art Photos should be of the subject
Which means that it should be one step higher

One of my biggest pet peeves is this:
Cute right?
But do you see anything wrong with this picture???
If this was simply a RECORD
It’s fine as is.
But if you want to hang this on the wall
You need to pay better attention to the BACKGROUND
background 3B
If you intend your picture to be ART?
You have to think like a Professional Photographer
You have to think like an Artist
Your picture should have not have:
*Trash Cans
*Or Random People (lol)
*weird awkward spaces
In the background
Crop it closer
Edit it out
But please FIX YOUR ART
Otherwise when someone walks into your house
And there you have your HUGE family picture on the wall
They are going to tell you how cute it is
And in their head they will think:
Whose car is that there?” and
Nice Trashcan
Why the space here? Is that where the ghost is standing?”
(all things I’ve thought to myself haha)

The W Factor
In a world of a million pictures
A world where we could literally record every moment
WHY record this one?
WHAT is so interesting about it?
Is it the kids diving for candy when the pinata breaks?
Zoom4Or is it the one kid that draws your attention?
Zoom4BWHERE should you take this picture from?
If I take it here, does it really show what I thought was cute?
zoom1AOr would it be better to get closer?
Zoom1CWHEN is the best time to take it?
Does your timing matter?
RecordsThese are things you have to ask yourself
And getting it RIGHT is what will determine
If someone says WOW or WHATEVER when they look at your pictures

IMG_8014The Fifth and Final Factor:
Have you ever gone to take a picture of a group of people
And they all lean in towards each other?
Why do they do that?
They are assuming something aren’t they?
They assume the picture will be of them
And specifically of their faces
So they lean in so their faces will all be together
They ASSUME that You, the photographer, are composing the shot
And that you are not also taking a picture of the ceiling, the floor, the 10 people behind them and the table beside you
Are they assuming too much?
They probably are.
So please, next time, STOP
Take a step forward
Zoom in
Crop closer
And compose the picture right

And lastly, do us all a favor:
SToP saving everything!
Delete the ones where people have their eyes closed
Delete the blurry ones
Delete the ones where people are making goofy faces
(Or save them for blackmailing later)
Click on auto-correct
We do not use film anymore
You can delete pictures folks
It’s okay
Delete delete delete
Your posterity will thank you for culling the herd

I read once in a photo tutorial
(And this is from the film days)
That if you save more than 2 good pics from a roll of film
You aren’t editing very well.

How many pics do you need of your granddaughter blowing out her candles?

(One good one that is)