Sunday, September 6, 2020

A Game of Clue

 The city where I live has done and OUTSTANDING job of creating activities that allow for residents to get out, social distance, and have fun (I haven't even gotten started with how amazing the Irving Public Library and all that they are doing.. but that is a blog for over at Bee In the Bookends) One of the things that the Irving Parks and Recreation Department did was a game of Clue along one of the trails outside of the city.  The Clues were spaced out a little over a mile through the trail.  Each one had a different Suspect/Item/Place that was NOT the Suspect/Item/Place.  To figure out who did it you used process of elimination  I of course loved walking the trail with 2 of my Awesome Girl Scout Friends (socially distance of course!)

After walking this trail.. and playing the game, I realized I wanted to do something along the same lines.  Our district is currently virtual so teachers are on campus, but teaching virtually.  I know that as a librarian.. I like the chance to get up and move.  I recreated this awesome idea from the Irving Parks and Recreation to be for school! 
We just started using Canvas, so I thought it would be a perfect Clue Game!

Here is what I did:
-Took pictures of 6 different places
-Used Bitmojis for 6 different people
-Used 6 different tech tool pictures
-Uploaded these items into this Google Presentation
-Created a Google Form for staff to fill out when they used process of elimination to figure out who solved Canvas! 
-Posted all the clues around the school on both floors with directions for staff to stay socially distant, wear the masks, don't touch anything but enjoy finding the Clues! I also reminded staff this one was not a race- everyone that filled out the form by a certain date would be entered into the drawing.
-With the email I also sent out the checklist so they could use that as they walked around (very important.. to print off ALL the clues! I apparently missed one and had people emailing me right away!)
-Encouraged staff to post on Twitter using #lmsgame


Love this Tweet from our Dean of Students @CoachBRich 

A huge shout out to Irving, Texas for doing so many awesome things! I even got a special delivery for winning at their game!

Do you play games with your staff? I have this one running for 2 weeks, and can't wait to start the next game! Teaching is tough right now, so anything that I can do to Bring the Sunshine.. I want to do! Speaking of Bringing the Sunshine- be watching.. I am going to start a Podcast soon!!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Virtually Speaking- Taking the Girl Scout Meeting Online

When I left school on March 12th.. I knew that my world was about to change.. but I didn't realize how much! I am super involved in so many different activities both in school and out of school. One of the things that I absolutely love the most is my Girl Scout Troop!  We meet every other Monday.. and when the pandemic started I knew that I was going to need to continue troop meetings.  I am sure the girls needed it..but I personally needed the consistency myself. 

A few things first:
-I know we all say that we have the best troop ever.. but really guys.. I have the best troop ever!!  I have girls and parents that are invested!
-I have Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes (28 all together)
-I work in a school.. and am online a ton- so I understood moving online
-We usually don't meet during the summer on a normal basis, but because of these times.. the girls/parents and myself enjoyed having the consistency of weekly meetings
-I met with the parents via Zoom at the first of April to make a game plan.  They all agreed that they wanted girls to keep meeting so they could earn those awards they had been working on and to be consistent. 
-We use Zoom for our meetings
-When I first started Zoom meetings I would meet with Brownies and Juniors at one time and then Cadettes at another time.. I ended up changing that so we could work on more specific goals
    Monday Meetings (in a normal time it would be meetings 5:30pm-6:30pm)
    -Brownies 5:15pm-6:00pm
    -Overlap time 5:45pm-6:00pm
    -Juniors 5:45pm-6:30pm
    -Cadettes- 6:45pm-7:30pm
-Not every girl is going to make a virtual meeting.. just like a regular meeting

Before I dive into what and how I did things.. I wanted to share this AMAZING resource that GSNETX has put out!  You must check out the Virtual Meetings Playbook.  They broke down everything.. and gave me even more ideas!!  Bookmark the site.. go now.. do it!

Preparing for a Meeting
-I created a Google Slide for each meeting.  This would have my agenda, links, videos, and other information that we would use for the meeting.  
-By creating Google Slides- I could also share these very easily through our Zoom and put into the Google Classrooms I created for each level.
-By creating in Google Slides- I can also have the girls work on collaborative projects (such as for our Junior Journey we are working on right now)
-I reminded myself that EVERYTHING was going to run a little slower.. and these meetings weren't just about me, badges, and Girl Scouts- it was a space where the girls could be themselves.
-Click on this link to make a copy of one of my meeting presentations- Now guys.. these are not super in depth.. it is more to keep us on track!

Did I mention that the Virtual Meeting Playbook that GSNETX put out is amazing with tons of resources how to get it going?

During a Meeting
-Have an agenda
-Set some expectations.. my big one.. I don't mind our girls not being on mute- I want them to talk and interact.  I do have the expectation that if their surrounding is too loud to mute themselves.. and have their video on (which hasn't been too bad) I also remind them that what they put in the chat (even when they think chats are private) that I can see everything
-Enjoy! Just because you aren't in your regular meeting space.. doesn't mean that you can't have fun!

Things that worked
-Scavenger Hunts- One of the first meetings we did a Scavenger Hunt.  Instead of having girls find a certain thing- they had to find items that started with a letter.  They also had to remember each letter to spell out a word that they would share at the end! 
-Reading a book! I LOVED Sharing Be You by Peter Reynolds (okay.. okay.. I am a librarian.. but still.. it was a great book and reminder!)
-Guest Speaker!  For one part of the Journey, they had to ask questions to a woman that was in a role that you would not normally expect.  We spent one meeting thinking of questions and talking about etiquette... and then the next meeting we had a guest speaker. This was also one of those silver lining things.  If we had been meeting in person.. it would have been harder to do this.. but since we were virtual.. it opened up who we could chat with.  We were able to have Kat Echazarreta who is a NASA Electrical Engineer who lives in California!  (also- this is a time where social media has its perks because the connections you can make!)

-Drawing-the Irving Public Library Youtube page has some super fun drawings that our girls have loved doing!
-Just listening.. everyone is going through such a tough time right now in so many ways.  Sometimes the girls just needed a place to ask questions and "see" their friends.  Sometimes they just want to hang out and be silly.  Isn't that how our real meetings are?

Things I am going to try next year
-Being more consistent on what I post in Google Classroom (speaking of Google Classroom.. you don't have to be a teacher to have one! BUT.. if you want your girls to be in the Google Classroom.. they will need an email address other than their school one- it doesn't cross over)
-I LOVED Richel's idea that I got yesterday about a caddy that has all the GS stuff in it! I am having a drive thru pick up soon.. and I am going to add that goody to it!
-I loved the ideas that Donna gave us about unplugged activities- I am going to dive into some more of those ideas.
-More cooking activities

However you hold meetings..give yourself grace.. I know that my meetings are not perfect.. in person or online.. but think about your why! I know my why is for these girls to have space.. but also for me! Don't see virtual as a terrible thing.. but as a way that you are still growing those girls to be the best they can be. Want to find me on social media- I spend a ton of time over at @akbusbee on Twitter and Instgram!  Good luck this year!!
Want to create your own Bitmoji Group photo- check out my youtube video over it
 What are you doing to continue to offer your girls ways to connect? Have you checked out the Virtual Meetings Playbook? Have you been meeting virtually.. and if so.. what has been your girls favorite thing?

Saturday, July 18, 2020

And to Live By The Girl Scout Law

Back in 1985 (or there very close to it) I joined Girl Scouts.  I joined as a Daisy- and our troop was the FIRST troop of Daisy's in my area.  Every meeting we began with the Girl Scout Promise and Law.  Both of these things have changed over the years, but the sentiment has not.
Me as a Brownie
Girl Scout Law
Girl Scout Promise
The world is NOT an easy place to live in for anyone right now.  Each household is going through something different, having to make difficult choices or not so difficult choices, and figure out how to live and survive right now. Even those people that seem to have life all figured out right now and together are suffering/stressing too, but in a different way.

Do I handle everything correctly, of course I don't! When I am having a tough time.. or don't know what type of decisions to make.. I go back and think about Girl Scouts. I think about how Girl Scouts  taught me to get through tough situations. I think about what Girl Scouts has taught me to be a better person.  I think about what Girl Scouts has taught me about treating other people. I think that the most important thing that Girl Scouts has taught me is to realize that every person is traveling their own road and their own journey-and I can ALWAYS be Considerate and Caring. 

Let's Break it Down:
Girl Scout Promise
On My Honor- hey, that's me!
I will try- I LOVE the word try here.. and each day is a new day!
To Serve God and my Country- Of course.. and I might not always agree with what is happening in my country, but that doesn't mean that I can't do the best I can to make it how I would like to see it.
To help people at all times- THIS ONE IS HUGE! Helping is also encouraging! We also have to remember that helping looks different in different situations.  It might just be listening, offering a smile, or just being there for someone
And to live by the Girl Scout Law- always doing my best and starting a day fresh and new!

Girl Scout Law
I will do my best- That is all that anyone can ask for! Our best might not look that great some days.. we are HUMAN.. but that doesn't mean that we just give up!
To be honest and fair- We are all human and should be fair and honest to those around us.
Friendly and Helpful- I don't always want to be friendly-but I remind myself that everyone has different shoes they are walking in.
Considerate and Caring- This is one that I work on daily.  Even though I don't agree with everyone, I remind myself to be considerate and caring- because people deserve that.  Many people do not get this in their own life- I know that I can do that for them.
Courageous and Strong- It is not easy to always be courageous and strong- there are lots of times that I fail at this.  But I also see courageous and strong as standing up for what you believe in, but being strong enough to realize that not everyone has the same opinions as you.
Responsible for what I say and do- I am responsible for what I say and do in both social media and inside my house.  I might say wrong things, but that doesn't make me any less responsible for them.
and to
Respect myself and others- I work constantly for respecting others, but sometimes I forget how to respect myself.  This year I am doing that by taking a step back and realizing that it is okay to take time for myself.  It is okay to take time for yourself to make yourself a better person! I have started to receive counseling, and I so thankful for this service.
Respect authority- I might not agree with everything that is happening, but I respect that there are people that have to make really tough decisions.  If I don't like the decisions they are making, I can use my right to vote. 
Use resources wisely- This one right now packs a punch! Resources wisely can go from what we are using in our own household to what we might need in school.
Make the World a Better Place, and- The world is NOT an easy place- but by only seeing the bad and no silver linings- we are not doing a very good job at making the world a better place. 
to be a Sister to Every Girl Scout- Give everyone grace.  Everyone deserves that.

I know that I am not a parent.  I know that I can only make a difference in the immediate circle of people that I am able to connect with right now.  But I have a troop that I love DEARLY that I can hopefully instill some of these same values. 

Parents, I know that you are having to handle a whole lot right now.  Even if you are not a Girl Scout... I hope that you take a moment to see how you are handling life in general and what types of values that you are instilling in your own children.  If you don't have children.. what kind of values are you instilling in others? So much of social media right now is reminding people how wrong they are, how to do things better, how life can be better.  COVID-19 has proved that no one is right.. and that nothing is how we want it right now. 

I am a middle school librarian and I worry about my own safety along with that of my family.  I have been following all of the rules as best I can. Our family has also gone down to one income for the most part- so I understand that stress as well.  Life is not easy right now for anyone! I have been following the Girl Scout Promise and Law to remind those around me that they are valued.  I am also VERY involved in my community.  I too am grieving that things are not how I want them to be (I mean.. during school.. I run a Girl Scout troop, Destination ImagiNation teams, clubs and various other activities) I have shed tears over the things that I have lost.. and the things that I will not be able to do.  I hate that educators and school systems are being bashed in almost every way.  I feel for the administrators and Superintendents having to make decisions for SO many people. I hate that there are so many families having to choose a job or a family to make this work.  Remember- people are watching what we do and how we handle ourselves.  Those people also include the younger generation, your children, our students. 

I know that I don't always handle things correctly.. but as the Promise and Law state- I will do my BEST and I will TRY.  Through all the darkness in the world right now, I hope to continue to instill the Promise and Law and the importance of showing Grace to ourselves and Grace to those around us.

Only part of my troop.

What work are you doing today to make our history better?  How are you handling stress?  What are you doing to change the world.

I will continue to do my Best and to Live by the Girl Scout Law.

Sunday, July 12, 2020


Being a teacher- my years run June-June.  I know that is crazy, but that is just how my brain works. I say this, because many people in January choose goals, resolutions, or a word of the year.  My word of the year goes with my school calendar.  It is also so interesting how my word of the year just starts showing itself in my every activity that I do.  You can find my other blogs about my various words here.

My word this year is Grow.  There is so much going on right now.. that I realized for me to be in a better mindset I was going to need to grow mentally and physically.  As I said before, my word just starts popping up in different places. 

In the picture below (that is now my phone background) the flowerpot head is me! It was colored by one of my Girl Scout troop members.  Her mom sent me a text message one night "Miss Andrea, if you were a flower pot, what colors would all of your pretty flowers be?" I answered purple and yellow (because purple is my favorite color!) but I got back this beauty and message.  "I asked your favorite colors for the flowers in your pot, but I thought you're not just purple and yellow.. you are the whole rainbow!"

Current lock screen on my phone
I had not told anyone of my word.. it just sort of shows up. 
On July 4th we went to an absolutely BEAUTIFUL sunflower field about an hour away from our house and I grabbed a few shots.  This one is now my background for my computer.

As I said.. this year.. I want to grow. Growing is not easy.. and is not all fluff. 

What I am doing right now to start this growth:

-I went to my well woman visit at the end of June- everything is fine.. but she did point out that my triglycerides are a little high as with my cholesterol. So, I joined Weight Watchers again, posted my goals on my @healthyakbusybee account and sharing my journey there, and I am moving more! I am also doing Camp Gladiator (virtually and also in person... when I am in person- I make sure to keep LOTS of distance between others) I will also be blogging over at Healthy Akbusybee

-I think we can all say that we have some major anxiety going on because all that is happening in the world right now.  After working with middle schoolers and living with an amazing husband who is also bi-polar, I have realized how important mental health is. I am always going, going, going..and I enjoy everything that I do.. but I am not very good at taking time for myself. I learned of the Family Advocacy Center in Irving.  Because I am an Irving resident.. I qualify for free counseling.  I have now been seeing a counselor for almost a month (it would have started earlier.. but thanks Covid)

These are only a few ways I hope to GROW this year. I know we are facing some major hardships.. but I hope to grow within myself to take on anything that is thrown my way.  Do you have a word a year?

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Oh The Love...

As soon as this new way of normal began back in March, I  was blogging daily about all the things going on during this crazy time.  Then "school" started back... and I have been trying to find my way! Usually during April I also blog about National Infertility Week.. and usually I also blog about what I learned from Texas Library Association.  I did just share what we did during Lamar Teacher Appreciation Week

I am SO lucky to be a librarian! Librarians are even more important during this time where there is SO much information that is being pushed out, but also important with all the resources that we have!

April is also Library Month- and my staff was AMAZING and surprised me with a parade for School Librarian Day!

I love being me.  I love being quirky. I love overextending myself to do activities. I love coming home tired, but knowing that I have accomplished things. I love reminding others that they are important. I love showing others that they are important. I love yelling at people.. "Love you Sunshine!" I love being around other people (even when I need a break.. I need people!) I love helping students find books. I love giving students a place to try new things.  I love giving people the place to get out of their comfort zone!

All of the things above require actual physical humans.  I am lucky to live in a world where I have technology so I can see faces or hear voices.. but that doesn't take the place of actual physical interaction with people.

April is usually hard because I share my own story about infertility awareness.  You can find past blogs here, here and here.  Mother's Day weekend is usually a little tough too.. because I am human.  It is hard to know that I will probably never here "I Love You Mom"

Usually the sunny weather also makes everyone happier too, but this is such an odd time. I am also that weird person that is a people pleaser and needs words of encouragement.  I am one that takes initiative and gets things done, but I also like to make sure that I am doing things correctly.  Do any of us know if we are doing things correctly? I have felt so out of sorts.. and have felt that I am not doing enough.. or being enough. So I have been questioning myself a ton lately (which I can almost guarantee that many others are doing the same!) I also know that each of us is mourning and grieving different things right now for so many things from graduations, proms, weddings, get togethers.. and life in general.  I also am always hoping that I am showing enough love to others.

Guys.. the love that I have felt this week has filled my heart.  Irving ATPE allowed for us to have have a free grande coffee drink.. 2 times!  Although it is hard, I was able to visit my library for the first time since March 12th (I also discovered the reason that students were making TikToks in one of the corners- it is a perfect spot!) I have been able to continue to have my Girl Scout meetings (man do the look different!) I was adopted and had an AWESOME family that I have known for years deliver goodies to me.  I had one of the moms of one of my awesome Girl Scouts send me a text message with porch and when I looked outside I had had a basket full of goodies. I have a great new sign thanks to Mary Anne to hang in the library when we do go back to school. I was able to physically distance and see some of my favorite work friends for teacher appreciation. Friday  We also had the Irving Muslim community provide us with lunch.  Friday evening my husband walked out to get something from his car, and came back in asking why there were so many flamingos in our front yard.  My Girl Scout Troop 6458 had Flocked my yard, not only did the is make me laugh so hard I cried.. I loved my personalized sign

Sometimes, you just have to share the super happy things and the ones that make your heart feel full of love when you are going through a tough time.  I am thankful for those that I have in my life that continually show me love, give me words of encouragement, put up with my antics.  I know that another National Infertility Awareness Week has passed and another Mother's Day where I will not hear "I Love You Mom" is coming up.  More importantly though.. this is a reminder to myself that even though I might have tough times and I might not ever hear certain words.. my heart and life is full of love in so many different ways.

Thank you to those in my circle that give me so much love! If you ever need anything, please know that I am here for you as well! May we all get through this crazy time together.. while apart!

I love you Sunshines!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Friday March 20th, 2020

This is the last Friday of our Spring Break.  We have off Monday as well, but official distant learning will be happening on Tuesday.  I moved SUPER slow today.  I got half of the kitchen done, a little bit of laundry and then watched a whole lot of Tik Tok.  I did set my alarm this morning to send the hubby off to work!

I watch the news.. I know how scary it is outside the house where I can't control things.  However, we are in a situation where my husband needs to work.. not just for a little bit of financial stability (which we DESPERATELY need) but for himself too.  I know how I already feel day 7 of not leaving my house.  Sent him off to work with VERY strict instructions on what to do.. and then what would happen when he came home :)

Before I go any farther- HUGE shout out to ALL of the medical field, first responders, store workers, and restaurant/food places! You guys all deserve a medal!

I do have to admit, this might be my favorite Tik Tok I have made so far

Hubby got home, we followed protocol (thank goodness that in the past I had bought Lysol almost every month) talked about bills.  If you are in a spot where you are saving, already live on one income, manage your money better than we do... awesome!! About 4 years ago I finally started putting money in a 403B. It isn't a ton.. but at least it it is there.  But, that doesn't mean that we don't live paycheck to paycheck. We do pretty good about not living too much beyond our means.. but man, when you go to one income it gets hard and there is struggle.  My husband is a Chef- and these are very uncertain times.  So.. when we talk bills, we talk about what we are going to pay right away (I only get paid once a month) and who we were going to call to get extensions.  But, when he got home, we were able to talk about  bills this with a little room to breath because we knew that we were not going to be single income.

About 3 hours after he left work.. he got the phone call that the building he had just started working in was closing due to COVID-19.  His job that he had just started.. completed his first day today.. was no longer there right now.  The company is taking good care of its employees.. so he has been furloughed.  Silver lining- he has a job ready when this all passes.

As always- I do not write any of these for pity.  I know that we make our own choices for what we spend money on and how we spend money.  Sometimes we are smart.. sometimes even being smart it doesn't always work out. I also write this to remind myself of the hard things we are going through and how much better we are going to come out on the other side (and cleaner too!!) When we went to one income we started loosely following Jordan Page- check her out! She also has some great shelf cooking ideas.  I also know I am VERY lucky with all that I have- I do not take that for granted.

Happy Heart for Today
-Fun Tik Toks
-text messaging
-A roof over my head and a fridge full of food
-Talking about ideas for activities for the Girl Scout virtually
-The reminder that there are SO many awesome things happening right now.
Also- have I mentioned how much I loved Frozen 2?
-Work on a presentation with one of my awesome librarian friends

My plans for this weekend
-Finishing cleaning the house and make myself a spot in my office for actual work
-update my Google Keep
-planning a BINGO challenge for school
-working on the latest Installment
-plan those virtual activities for my Girl Scout troop
-Hopefully mow my lawn soon! It looks TERRIBLE.. but at least we have gotten a ton of rain!
-Finish up my YouTube videos for Girl Scouts
-clean out my car (which I haven't touched since last Friday)

I hope that whatever troubles that you might be going through- you find those silver linings.  Although it is super tough right now for many, I can't wait to see what the world looks like on the other side of this COVID-19.  I am sort of ready for it to already be the other side.  I also hope that you give yourself grace.. and remember it is okay to be upset, but it is also okay to talk through it... take a deep breath.. and decide what you can control.  I see you and I can honestly say I understand! These are uncertain times for so many people.. but we got this with love, compassion, understanding and grace.

One last thought.. I consider myself an Introvert/Extrovert. I put on a very extrovert face most of the time.. but spend my lunches and evenings "recharging" my introvert self. I can say.. I am recharged.. and ready to go actually see people. We got this!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Thursday March 19, 2020

I have started only watching the news in the morning and then again in the afternoon.  The COVID-19 is on every news station, every Facebook story, almost every tweet/Instagram/Tik Tok.  However, what I also see a ton of is teachers curating resources, librarians sharing where to find books and read alouds, families reaching out to see how we can help each other (by keeping a 6 food distance), and the reminder to help small businesses that are now facing some major uncertainty.  

Today, without an alarm, I was awake by 7am (remember.. I am still on spring break)  I didn't watch Frozen 2 last night.. so I made myself a cup of coffee and muffin and sat down to watch a movie.

I loved every bit of it Frozen 2- I do believe I will be watching it again. Also, Olaf is my spirit animal.  I could totally be Olaf, I am not as funny.. but I am totally that awkward friend that is always happy even when I am not. I loved it! I also think that much of what is going on in Frozen 2 had good reminders that we can make it through right now.
This was one of my favorites of Olaf (although.. there were SO many more!)

I didn't get any Tik Toks made, but I did get a video created and shared in one of my Girl Scout groups.  I am a Girl Scout leader for a multi-level troop that has Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes (I have 30 girls!) I sort of love it.. and I am really missing my normal routine of leading them. Our next meeting wasn't going to be until March 30th, but we have cancelled that and are unsure when our next meeting will be.  One of the members posed the question if as leaders we were sending information/badges/things to work on home.  I emailed my parents and asked them these three questions:
1- Would you be interested in a virtual meeting?
2- Would you be interested in some badge work/patch work that you can do at home?
3- Would you be interested in joining a Google Classroom where I can house all of this?
I got a huge YES! Now, I also prefaced the email with I will post stuff and send stuff.. but it is completely optional and you and your family can do as little or as much they like.  This morning I created 3 Google classrooms and then recorded a video to share how I created these to the Girl Scout group.

After I posted the video I got so much feedback about sharing it, I asked if they would be interested in other how I organize my meetings and life through Google (because that is where I live!) So, it looks like I will be creating some more videos.  I used to make videos all the time, so today was nice to get back to that.  

Happy Heart for the Day:
-Creating Google Classrooms for my Girl Scout troop
-Creating a useful video for others to use (that made me feel really good)
-Finishing the guest bedroom- the closet and bedroom look amazing! 
-Watching Frozen 2
-Organizing my closet

Plans for tomorrow:
-send hubby off to work and not stress all day about this
-Tik Tok
-Kitchen is on the agenda for tomorrow!
-Record videos for using Google Drive and Girl Scouts- how I stay organized

I have also seen many teachers reminding students to write down how they are feeling and create journals of what they are seeing. This blog is a place for me to share what is on my mind, news, and reminders of our current situation.  I am also using this as a place to help with my own anxiety. There have been many breaks where I have decided that I am not leaving the house (because I am not good at slowing down)  I do always end up leaving.. but right now with no choice of leaving the house, funds are low, and there is so much uncertainty makes it hard. I am thankful to my friends that I get to chat with through various messaging apps. I hope that if you are reading this, you are doing things to take care of yourself too!