Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Beginning

Let me tell you.. my #noexcusesNovember has been SO good for my head!
I mean it started out a Build-A-Bear with the BEST troop ever!

First outing as a Girl Scout troop. Yes.. my bear has 9 hearts...representing each girl in my troop. The name.. Warm Lace.. which is the first letter of each of the girls name. Blessed doesn't even begin to describe my love for this troop and their families! 

Each month I have been setting myself professional goals.. and I still have LOTS of ways to grow, but one of my goals this month was to open my Makerspace.  I have been watching the Twitter feed about all of these amazing Makerspaces.. and I have been reading all of these amazing blogs about their Makerspace.. and I look at mine it is SO different.

I wanted my Makerspace to be book based (by the way.. I am almost done applying for my next masters.. LIBRARIAN!) The big first idea I had was to get every classroom and grade level through the makerspace each six weeks. I was also going to divide kids so it was smaller groups. Then reality set in.. and I realized that those are super lofty goals.  So, I started with 1st Grade... but still book based.  With Thanksgiving and other holidays coming up, I wanted to start with a book that was going to be more about being good community members and see where it went from there.

So, we started with the book Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming.  This is a FANTASTIC book!
Things we talked about:
-Looking and comparing on maps where the two main characters were from
-What might be in the boxes?
-What does Katje do?
-How did Rosie help Katje?
and so much more.

We then had the discussion on how Rosie helped Katje's community by providing things that they might not have (they were amazed that they didn't have meat or sugar.. or chocolate!)  We then talked about how we could help our community.
Our discussion went to
-Does everyone have money to buy food, and talked about canned food drives
-Not everyone gets presents
-How we can help the environment
-Donating clothes to those that don't have money to buy more

The first graders were so involved in how they might be able to make the community better.  With the season I believe they were more passionate about not everyone having toys for birthdays or other holidays.  So.. our first graders will be having a Toy Drive.

I introduced them to the fact that this is an awesome idea.. but they are going to be makers (and I wasn't going to help them.. they were going to figure it out themselves.. which they all got SUPER excited about!) so how are we going to tell our community about the Toy Drive, what do we need to do next?
Things they brainstormed about:
-phone calls home
-notes in our Thursday folders
-making decorated boxes for people to put their toys in
-making announcements
-making posters
Who knows.. I could totally have some students come in and say you know what.. I want to make my own toy or something even bigger and better.

I made this quick little video (I only see these kiddos for 30 minutes this week and next week) for teachers to show their students.  The next time they come in.. they are going to be MAKING!

When they come back.. I can't wait to see what they come up with.  So, I know that it is not like the regular makerspaces.. but who knows what is going to come out of this to help our community.  Even better a group of first graders read a book, made a connection and now want to make a difference. I will be posting the good, the bad, and the ugly (and preparing for my next grade level too!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

No Excuses November

You know those goals you set for yourself in January.. and you might or might not follow through with (mine is more of the latter)

The beginning of this year I took the attitude this year is hard.. and have been easily frustrated and more anxious (those that see me.. might not realize that because I feel like I put on a pretty good front)
One of the things that have been weighing heavy on my heart is the choice to not to continue to pursue any type of fertility treatment.. and do "mothering" things in other ways.  This is a decision that I made this summer... BUT.. Guys.. I started a Daisy troop and I can't tell you how HAPPY this makes my heart!

So, I had chosen my attitude that I wanted others to see.. but I hadn't done a very good job of choosing my "internal" attitude. I forgot one of my goals is to be a Champion for myself.

SO.. Bring on No Excuses November!

I will be a Champion for myself by:
-Choosing my internal attitude.  I am lucky where I am, thankful for the support system that I have, and so very grateful for those that I surround myself with.
-Being more accountable for my own health.  I have the Skinny Minnies.. I purchased the Lose It App.. and I have a wardrobe waiting for me!
-Stepping out of my comfort zone and really working my Jamberry business. Jamberry has already offered me the opportunity to meet so many new people, learn new things, and adds money to my bank account (which don't we all need!)
-Continuing to do things that make me happy.. and do the best I can at everything else :) (more photography/more crafting/more blogging/more movie watching/more enjoying the things I LOVE to do- Have I mentioned how awesome my Daisy Troop is?)

Here's to another great year with BIG plans.. and even BIGGER dreams!

Have you had to choose a different attitude? 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Staying Connected

My favorite picture from my last trip

I recently traveled home to visit my parents. The five-hour drive from the Dallas/Fort Worth area to Canyon, Texas (in the Panhandle), is one of my favorites. It is a time for me to reflect and catch up on my thoughts, as I am forced to disconnect from social media. The 355-mile drive takes me through the many small towns that are sprinkled along 287. 

This time, I found myself thinking about the special bond that educators share, and how much I appreciate my colleagues at ATPE. Please check out my post on the ATPE blog!

Irving ATPE's Back to School Mixer in September.
By the way, this blog post was sponsored by ATPE, but the words and opinions are 100% mine!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Staying Organized with Calendars

I recently had a chance to write an article for a magazine (and I am forever thankful for great editors!) You can check out the article here with the ATPE News Online Magazine.

Number 4 on the list was staying organized and keeping up with important dates.  After getting a few emails I made this quick video (now.. don't judge too much as the video quality is not the greatest..but I will share all my links!)  Now, I want to preface this whole blog post.. I am a technology addict! I have almost every app on my phone for listing and calendars.. and I still go back to actual pen and paper.

For the past 2 years I have been using the Uncalendar.  I am a HUGE lister so I loved all the space that the Uncalendar gave me.  The price was fantastic as well.  There are 2 different sizes. I bought the small size the second year, but ended up buying the full size as well (have I mentioned that I love making lists?)  But, if I am going to be organized, I am going to have space to make different notes on the items that I need to do.  Check it out here
Reasons I loved the Uncalendar:
-Had monthly calendars along with weekly calendars and lots of pages for notes and other important information.

This year I jumped on the Erin Condren bandwagon.  This is a great company and has lots of different things you can add to your calendar.  I chose to get the lesson planner (but it was really because I couldn't wait for the Life Planner to come out.. apparently patience is not one of my virtues)  In hindsight.. with my position the lesson planner was probably not the best option.  You can check out Erin Condren here.
Reasons I loved the Erin Condren:
-I do like the size
-It does have space for listing.. and I think that if I had waited for the Life planner it would have been a much better fit for me
-It does have monthly calendars along with the weekly calendars.

Those are the 2 main ones that I have used.. and then a sponsored post for the Happy Planner came up in my Facebook feed.  Guess what.. you don't have to order it online! You can of course.. but it was so nice to actually pick it up and feel it before spending the money (little secret.. I love organizing)  You can get this at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  I knew that the planner I had was not the best fit for me.. so I decided to go ahead and grab this one.

I have had my Happy Planner for a week.. and I LOVE IT!
Reasons I love it:
-The size is great and I bought the expanders so it fits even more items
-It is easy to organize- I bought the extra folders, notepads and stickers
-I think that it goes back to my #makingofamaker where it offers me a chance to be creative when I am listing
-The price is fantastic! I ended getting mine at Michaels and had a great coupon.

Do you have a favorite planner?  How do you stay organized?

Sunday, September 20, 2015


We just celebrated International Dot Day at school.  If you have not had a chance to read The Dot by Peter Reynolds, it needs to be on your list!  It is all about making your mark and seeing where it takes you.  Every year on September 15th ish people around the world celebrate International Dot Day!

To prepare for Dot Day this year we made Dot Themed shoes. Super easy! Found my shoes at Wal-Mart (just need canvas shoes) and used puffy paint.  I also bought circle dobbers, but you could also use a ton of different dot shaped items.

For the past 3 years we have celebrated Dot Day at school.  There were a ton of awesome dot themed shirts that came to school that day, and our event was a success!
We had several stations that students could work through:

Participants grabbed an old cd and a paperplate.
Put the cd on the paperplate and painted both the plate and cd
Once dried participants could take off the cd and there would be negative dot on the paper plate

Participants took a die cut plain dot and decorated it in the style of
Van Gogh or Piet Mondrian

Download the Quiver app (android and iphone) and print off the Dot coloring sheet
participants were able to color their own dot and then have it come to life by using the Quiver app

-Dot Photobooth
I mean, how can you pass up a photobooth!
-Pasta Jewelry
Our amazing art teacher dyed a ton of pasta! (and got everything set up for this event!)
Participants had a chance to rotate through this station and make necklaces or bracelets that had dot shapes in them

I love watching students and parents create together.  What better way to do that then with the reminder that we want everyone to make their mark.

To get our administration ready for Dot Day we had some Dot Day shenanigans in their office!

This week I had a fellow teacher bring me this beautiful piece of artwork.  She told me that she watched my #summerofcreating and decided to do her own.  She did a few pieces, but after doing this one she wanted me to have it. (not going to lie.. had a few tears.. and I now have it displayed in my room!)
Have you celebrated Dot Day?  What are your favorite things to do?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Champion for Educators

New routines, new students, new teachers… can only mean a new year!  I recently began my 14th year (oh my goodness... only 14!) in a school district. At the beginning of the summer I chose my word for the upcoming year. Champion.  I blogged about it here I rewatched one of my favorite Youtube videos by Rita Pierson: Every Kid needs a Champion, and I started my school year.
And, I just published a new blog post about how important I think the word, “Champion,” is to our students on the Association of Texas Public Educators (ATPE) blog. Check it out!

By the way, this blog post was sponsored by ATPE, but the words and opinions are 100% mine!

The first week of school I reminded myself to think about my word for the year, “Champion,” as I worked with new teachers.  I wanted to be a Champion for them and help them realize how important they are to our school.  I wanted to be a Champion for the returning teachers to help them see their value to the students and the classroom.  I also wanted to be a Champion for myself and do things that were going to make me perform better and feel better. While I am working on being a Champion for those people around me, I know that I am a part of an association that is being a Champion for Texas Educators.
Fourteen years ago I began my teaching career in a small school district.  I joined the ATPE because you are supposed to make sure that you are covered by a professional association… right?  I made sure that I signed up every year knowing that if I was ever faced with a need to be covered legally I would be.  As I have grown in my profession I learned that ATPE was so much more than legal coverage.
Here are a few of my favorite ways ATPE is a Champion for Texas educators:
· By always having Texas Educators in mind.  ATPE advocates for Texas Education! Check out the ATPE Advocacy page http://www.atpe.org/en/Advocacy.
· By keeping us informed.  Have you checked out teachthevote.org to research the education stances of candidates for the State Board of Education and the Texas Legislature? (Even better? There are no endorsements--just information!)
· By having a huge amount of resources availabe.  This includes online trainings and book studies.
· By having amazing benefits and discounts for just being a member (did I mention there are matching funds from DonorsChoose.org available too???)
ATPE encompasses the word Champion in so many ways, but it also consists of Champions.  
ATPE is a member-owned and member-governed association that is full of passionate educators.
When people hear the word Champion many automatically think of sports or winning a competition.
I prefer: Champion: a person who fights for or defends any person or cause. My word for this year is “Champion.” I am going to be a Champion for myself and others and know that ATPE is my Champion everywhere else!

Are you a member of ATPE? Do you have a power word each year?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Finding Me through #summerofcreating

The summer days are slowly slipping away.. and I have learned so much about myself through my #summerofcreating
These are only a few of the pictures from my #summerofcreating
I made it through 37 days (continuous days) of my #summerofcreating plan.  I created anything from new cooking items, sewing projects, blog posts and so much more.  What I discovered about myself through this summer:
1. I LOVE creating! Figuring out how to upcycle items, create new things and share what I am doing made my brain and my heart SO happy!
2. I LOVE where my life is right now.  I am grateful for the opportunities that I have to do the things I want to do.
3. I can't wait to continue this through the year #makingofamaker I know that my schedule will be busy, but I don't want to stop what I am doing!

This blog was posted Finding Me.  I ended my summer with attending a wonderful Bridging Ceremony for a group of girls that I have had the privilege of watching grow over the last 10 years. 
Amazing young ladies!

Friendship Circle

As the leader was talking.. it reminded me of my own Girl Scout memories with my amazing leader.  If you look up there at the #2 reason about how I discovered myself through #summerofcreating.. it is that I am happy where I am right now.  I have written before how my husband and I have tried off and on for the last 9 years to start a family.  I realized this summer.. that maybe I am not going to be a biological mother, and I am ok with that.  I have the opportunity to touch lots of lives through the various activities that I do. I like having the opportunity to travel, present, and overload my schedule (which I am very good at doing!) Watching that troop bridge to adults made me realize that I might not ever be a mother.. but I could easily have the opportunity to grow and help shape some young people.

My own troop leader growing up did not have kids of her own, but I considered her just as much a part of my family as anyone else.  She might not have had kids of her own, but Nuglet (Nancy) was a one of a kind woman.  A wonderful leader, person and friend.  My relationship with her extended outside of our Girl Scout meetings and into adulthood.  The opportunities, adventures, and friendship that Girl Scouts gave me made me who I am today and I am forever grateful for that.
A Troop 209 Reunion!

The bridging of Troop 1810 (shown above) had me thinking that maybe... just maybe forming my own troop of Daisy Girl Scouts that I could help mold, shape, and learn with would be the perfect thing for me.

Receiving the Gold Award

The day after the bridging I had a chance to attend a Gold Award ceremony for a young woman that I had the chance to nanny for.  At that moment.. I knew what my next adventure was going to be.

I am SO excited to be beginning a new journey of creating the 3rd Generation of Troop 1810.  If a child of my own comes along the way.. then great.  If not, I am okay with that too..because I know my next adventure is going to be helping some little girls grow into amazing young women through Girl Scouts.  I am thankful for my parents for raising me to be the person I am today, but I am also thankful for Nuglet in showing just as much love, pride, and understanding to make me who I am as well.