Sunday, December 13, 2015

Think Out Be Light

5 days.. 5 more school days until I have a break!
This month I have checked several things off my list...
-completing my application to TWU for Masters of Library Science
-decorating/participating in the Irving Holiday Parade
-Leader/daughter social for the Irving Girl Scouts

BUT.. yesterday afternoon.. I was able to check off the Think Out Be Light Event.
I participated in this event last year, and jumped at the opportunity to participate again.
This weekend made me sit back and remember that no matter how busy my schedule.. no matter what I am doing..that I can be a part of something so much bigger.

Think out Be Light was put on by Elisia Magazine and featured models that had various abilities. I mean.. how can you not love this!?!  All of these beautiful models are from the Notre Dame School

I packed up my Jamberry items and headed to UNT Dallas so I could be one of the vendors.  This time, however, not only was I a vendor... I got to do all the nails for the models!  I had so much fun pampering these girls.  I purchased one of the new Jamberry Celebration boxes which had enough wraps for all the girls to have 2 accent nails... and they all walked away with a party favor.  Now, don't worry, once they had their accent nails done they got to choose which lacquer they wanted to finish up their manicure.

This isn't a Jamberry blog though (well it kind of If it wasn't for Jamberry I wouldn't have ever met Feleceia Benton.. and her amazing friends such as Arian Nicole and the rest of the crew.

This is the season where we often forget how important it is to be good to our neighbors.  To make a difference in someones life. Now, don't think that you have to do something outrageous.. but do you know how far a smile goes?  Have you told the local police officer that you appreciate them?  Have you taken a moment of your day to hold the door open or give a compliment?

The Think out Be Light event was that reminder that every person that you come in contact with is beautiful inside and out.. and deserves every opportunity to succeed and be important.  

I didn't get pictures of this wonderful evening because I was too busy clapping and cheering for these models as they strutted their stuff down the runway.  I also walked away with such a happy heart.

I love being able to support local events, communities and organizations.  I currently have a fundraiser open for The Notre Dame School (where part of the proceeds go to the Notre Dame School)   If you are interested in placing an order this party closes on December 22nd, 2015.

Are you thinking out and being light to those around you?

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
· By keeping us informed.  Have you checked out 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 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.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Extras of Podstock

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the extras of Podstock, but wanted to take a moment to give a little more information. If you are attending Podstock and have ANY questions hit me up on the twitters @akbusybee or email me! Do you have to do these extras.. you sure don't, but they are fun! Even if you don't complete them.. you get to meet new people in the process!

Monday July 13h- #mcdt challenges will be released.  #mcdt- Make, Create, Do, Teach.  There will be 8 challenges.  Each challenge has a special hashtag.  Not on Twitter- not a big deal! You can post to Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Blogger, Youtube.  When you finish a challenge you just need to make sure to tag me in it.. or find me! I am flexible.  For each challenge completed you will get a gear for a steampunk style key chain. Complete all 8 challenges you will receive a special gear to add to your key chain.  Finish all 8 challenges you will also be entered into a drawing for a fun prize! IMPORTANT- #mcdt challenges MUST be finished by 9am on Friday!- Update- Release the Kraken- I mean.. #mcdt15 challenges

Thursday July 16th- NEW- Podstock Exploration
Podstock Exploration challenges will be released on Thursday morning.  These are for teams of 2 people to 6 people.  There are about 12 items to complete for the Podstock Exploration and teams will have until 10pm on Thursday to finish the challenges.  The team with the most points will win!

Thursday July 16th- Podstock Gift Exchange
All you need to bring is a gift that is $25 or less that represents you, your school, or your area.  It is highly encouraged that you actually make your item (you won't be kicked out if you buy it though too :)  This is one of my favorite parts, because it is so much fun to hear about all the different stories on why the items were chosen.  I am already working on mine!  If you join.. make sure that is an item that can travel back with someone that might be flying. This will take place after the last session on Thursday.  More information on exact location and time will be announced on Thursday.

Friday July 17th- Podstock Photowalk
The photowalk will take place on Friday July 17th. We will meet in the Old Town Hotel foyer at 7am.  Although this is early it is the PERFECT time to walk around and be a tourist.  Have you been a part of the photowalk before.. this year we are putting on an extra twist to those that attend!  I can't wait to use my new camera for this one.  It is a great way to be a tourist, meet new people and stretch your legs before the day of learning. Everyone is invited.  You don't need a fancy camera your phone will work!

I finished up my costume for the dance on Thursday.  I even created 2 shirts for during the conference itself.. and finished up my Steampunk top hat today! AND.. if you are interested in trying Jamberry I will have ALL of my stuff (plenty for you to try an accent nail or 2)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

#elemaker The Making of a Makerspace

For the past year I have been percolating how to get a Makerspace in my elementary school.  I am now READY to take on the challenge!

For the past 6 (well.. maybe it is 7) I have been a Team Manager and Co-Team Manager for several Destination ImagiNation teams.  Destination ImagiNation gives students a chance to create and solve a challenge.  The best part as a team manager is I can't interfere and the students have to come up with their own solutions.  What I have discovered; however, is that not all students have the opportunity to be on a team (now granted.. we are going to have 6 teams next year!)

I want to reach more students.. and next year my principal is giving me the space (AND more importantly the TIME!)

My parents posted this quote today on the Buffalo Bookstore page today, and I knew it was time for me to get my ideas on "paper"

In reading the Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and in conversations I find it interesting how varied the ideas on what makes a makerspace.  But the great thing about makerspace is that it really can be ANYTHING!  I work with so many kids that when they see a piece of construction paper they often wait for instructions on what to do with it.  They don't always have a chance to "think outside the box"  Makerspace can be building with electronics, but it can also just be seeing an item and thinking how you can use it differently.  Isn't that we want our students to do? To figure out how to see things in a different light?

Here are my beginning thoughts:
-I want everyone to be able to go through the Makerspace and have a chance to be a creator.
-Although I want all students to have a chance to create I also know how students in the elementary world need a little more structure (not step by step of course with expectations of what the end product should look like, but some guidance)
-I would love teacher buy in

Here is my "plan"- PLEASE remember that this is in the works.. and it is going to take some work.  I want to share my ideas so this way I can get ideas as well.
Best part of this "plan" so far- My principal is not only on board.. but she came up with this idea because she knows that kids need it!
-Since we have 6 weeks- The first week of the six weeks would be welcoming ALL the students into the room. The first week students would hear a book, then see the materials and have a graphic organizer to PLAN what they are going to do. 
ie- Read Where the Wild Things Are- students will then have the opportunity to plan either their own monster or a boat that has to do a certain task.  If those don't fall into what they would work on then they will be able to work on something that entertains them.  I want to do this type of structure because I want to make sure that all students can start seeing objects/items/materials in different ways.
-Weeks 2-6 each grade level will rotate through during a specific part of their day.  Week 2 will be 5th,  Week 3 will be 4th, Week 4 will be 3rd, Week 5 will be 2nd and Week 6 will be 1st and kinder.  Each class will have a certain day (ie 5A- Monday of the 2nd week, 5B-Tuesday of the 2nd week and so on) and to cut down on size A-M the first 30 minutes and N-Z the second 30 minutes during their slot.  The first six weeks everyone will rotate through, but after that it will be based on perfect attendance.
Now you might be saying.. 30 minutes! That is not enough time to create anything! BUT If you think about it.. this is a guaranteed 30 minutes each six weeks.  The makerspace room will be open at other times that will include before and after school. I am hoping to even have some teacher buy in so they can work on their projects at other times as well.  The first week of the six weeks as they all rotate through will be the time for me to get them started, the next time they come it will be for them to create.

Did I mention that I am a planner?

I am looking forward to Podstock next week as it is over Maker where I hope to gain even more ideas! I am very excited to start on this journey.  I also have lots of thinking, learning and collaborating that I want to do.  My #summerofcreating is now going to turn into helping students have a #yearofcreating I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

BrainPOP Pointers- Make-A-Map

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@akbusybee) you might know that I am a tad bit obsessed with BrainPOP

There are SO many great features in BrainPOP that is more than the movie! I am going to be sharing some of my favorites throughout the summer on my blog!

If you have never heard of BrainPOP before-
"BrainPOP creates animated curriculum- based content that supports educators and engages students-in school, at home and on mobile devices. Our resources include movies, quizzes, games, mobile apps, experiments, activity pages, and much more covering hundreds of topics within Math, Science, Social Studies, English, Technology, Arts & Music, and Health. All content is aligned to and searchable by state standards including Common Core."

One of my new favorite features is Make-A-Map
For the screenshots I using a Free Movie and have not signed in.. HOWEVER.. signing in allows you to do so much more (such as save your work and students can share it with their teacher or work on it at a later time)

With each BrainPOP movie there are tons of extras that are below the movie.  Click on the Make-A-Map Feature

Once you have clicked on the Make-A-Map it pulls up the Concept Mapping Tool (did I mention that right now I am working on a Chromebook)
In this work space you have the movie, keyword, images and the ability to add extra nodes.

Students (or teachers- you could do this as a group) begin playing the movie.  When they have found a piece that they want to add to the concept map they click on the camera button to snap a picture.

What the what! That piece is now on my Concept Map.. and even better.. by pushing the play button it takes you back to that part of the movie!

As you can see this is a fantastic tool, but an even better tool when a student can save it and work on it later and continue to add to it.

Ideas for the classroom:
- Summarizing information over a topic that has been discussed in class
- Researching a topic deeper
- Taking notes

As soon as I saw this tool I also thought about those special education students and the ELL students who we are always trying to reach.  What a great way for a student to easily show what they are learning and also quickly and easily go back to review what they have done.

The videos replay in the work space, but so do the keywords!

Other great features:
- Connect the findings and add information in between
- change the color of the different nodes (how great would this for students to color code the word depending on what you are doing)

As I noted I am not currently signed in and using the free feature.  Signing in allows SO much more!
-You can Add Movies!  Often times when we are researching although we are looking at one topic, there are connections that can be made.  By clicking on the add movie piece it brings up other movies that would be associated with current movie.
-You can save your work
-You can turn in your work!

Are you a BrainPOP or BrainPOPJr user?  What are your favorite tools?

I will be sharing another one of my features next week!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Baked Parmesan Squash

I have actually really enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone and trying some recipes.  This is one from Pinterest. I said it was a win.. my husband thought it needed more salt..but I was happy with it!
I found this recipe at
Now.. it called for 4 squash and that is too much for just 2 of us.

-2 squash
-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
-1/4 teaspoon of pepper and salt (I kept this the same)
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

-Preheat oven to 450 degrees
-cut squash into slices
-Mix squash, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl
-spread out on pan and top with the Parmesan cheese 
-Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly brown on top

I was very pleased with how it turned out and will be trying it again.  What is your favorite squash recipe?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bandana Dress

Today is day 18 of my own #summerofcreating challenges. Not only that..but my amazing friend Todd Nesloney asked me to do a challenge for his awesome #EduLS series I had to challenge others to share their creating. You can check it out here!

Yesterday for my day 17 I made a bandana today I wanted to share how I made it.

I have really tried to make my #summerofcreating items be things that I could use or gift to a friend.. so this dress is my second prototype for some cutie twins that I will be making Julu 4th ones for! The first one I made.. I tried to just use one bandana.. it would be a Pinterest fail in size!

-2 bandanas
-sewing machine (but.. this could easily be done with just a needle and thread
-ribbon (for my July 4th ones... I will be adding a white bandana to the bottom for some ruffle

-fold over one edge of each bandana about 1 or 2 inches (depends on the thickness of your ribbon) and sew across. This will be where you thread your ribbon.
-pin your two bandanas together with the seam from the ribbon edge facing out (this way once you have sewn together you can flip it inside out and all seams are on the inside)
-sew up the two sides of the pinned bandanas leaving about a 2 to 3 inch space between the ribbon edge and the edge of the side seam (this will be for the arm holes)
-once sides are sewn flip bandanas out. Cut 2 pieces of ribbon and thread through the top. The ribbons can now be tied into bows.
-you can also use the ribbon to edge the bottom of the dress.

There are lots of Pinterest ideas out there.. and I already have plans to extend on this one! Super easy and super cute.. and the price is fantastic as well!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fiesta Chicken

When I shared about my #summerofcreating with my Academic Liason  (Vanesa Asbun) she shared one her go to recipes. I knew that I wanted to try it.

Ingredients for the Fiesta Chicken:
-2 boneless chicken breasts
-a can of corn
-a can of black beans
-a can of rotel
-package of chicken taco seasoning

-heat oven to 350
-coat the chicken breast with the chicken taco seasoning
-combine cans of beans, corn and rotel in a 9x13 casserole pan (I mixed them up a bit)
-put the coated chicken breast in the casserole pan
-bake at 350 for an hour to an hour and thirty minutes- use a thermometer to make sure it is done (I had mine bake for an hour and thirty minutes.. and it was a little dry..nothing life changing but I could have removed it earlier)

There are lots of ways you can eat this. I chose this evening to have it as chicken soft tacos. I made the pico de gallo myself too- you can find the recipe for that here On that recipe I added a bit more lime juice and only used one jalapeño. Not going to lie.. pretty yummy meal ;)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Podstock 2015

Summer time is the time where I get rejuvenated and inspired at the various conferences I have the chance to attend.  My favorite conference of the summer is Podstock!

I write about Podstock every year, because I always come away with new learning, new friends, and new excitement for my the year.

Want more information about Podstock.. check out the website (and register.. you won't regret it!)

Preconference- July 15th
Conference July 16th-17th

The conference is one of the best ones yet.. but there is so much more that goes on with the conference than just the conference!

Are you attending Podstock.. check out these extras:

July 16th: The annual Podstock Gift Exchange.
Back story on the Gift Exchange.  The first ever Podstock Kevin had tweeted or Plurked out to bring something for a gift exchange. My mom helped me make an awesome Texas Gift Basket (that first year.. there were only 3 Texans that came) BUT.. no one else brought a gift to exchange. The next year began the official gift exchange.  All you need to bring is a gift that is $25 or less that represents you, your school, or your area.  It is highly encouraged that you actually make your item (you won't be kicked out if you buy it though too :)  This is one of my favorite parts, because it is so much fun to hear about all the different stories on why the items were chosen.  I am already working on mine!  If you join.. make sure that is an item that can travel back with someone that might be flying.

Another extra is the Podstock Photowalk.  The photowalk will take place on Friday July 17th. We will meet in the Old Town Hotel foyer at 7am.  Although this is early it is the PERFECT time to walk around and be a tourist.  Have you been a part of the photowalk before.. this year we are putting on an extra twist to those that attend!  I can't wait to use my new camera for this one.  It is a great way to be a tourist, meet new people and stretch your legs before the day of learning.

The Make, Create, Do, Teach (MCDT) Scavenger Hunt will be up and running again this year.  More information on that to come!

Tips on Surviving Conferences:

- Wear clothes that you are comfortable in.  I always love meeting new people and I love wearing cute clothes, but I try to remember where I am.. how is the weather.. what kind of activities will I be doing.  I have discovered that I am okay wearing t-shirt and shorts, but I still want to be somewhat professional- you never know who you will run into.
-Pack snacks and water! I often times drive to the various conferences that I attend.. so I pack my own and leave in the room.  If I have to fly, the first stop I make is to a local convenience store to grab water bottles, breakfast bars and snacks.  I also try to take a reusable water bottle.  (Podstock is one of those different conferences as they always have the BEST brownies, sodas, and water between sessions!)
-Be okay with missing a sessions.  I have discovered that I am an introvert.. and I need a little down time between sessions.  If you feel like you are going to miss something follow the Twitter feed.
-Be okay with meeting new people and inviting yourself to sit with people you don't know.  With most people wearing a badge or a certain shirt.. you automatically know that you will have a topic to talk about.  This is a great ice breaker and a way to step outside your comfort zone.

A HUGE TIP I HAVE- conferences are a fun place to be.. and there are lots of fun things going on.. just remember your social media usage.  If you are enjoying different adult things.. be careful what pictures you post.  Take a moment to frame your pictures so you can still show you are having fun.. but you are doing it "appropriately"

Just a couple of friendly suggestions and reminders.  My favorite part about Podstock.. is that I get to put on a costume one evening.  This year it is Steampunk! Who knew that the Victorian costume that I used when volunteering at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum Christmas Open House would come in handy again! Still needs work.. but it is a great start! I can't wait to start sharing the other things I have up my sleeves for the conference!

What are your tips and tricks for surviving conferences?  Do you have a favorite conference?

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Today I had the privilege of seeing my best friend get married. It was BEAUTIFUL!  So super happy for them both.  I have lots of pictures to share...but I think that will have to wait until I get home and there is a bit faster internet.

I was driving to my parents house when Roar by Katy Perry came on. I love how she talks about being a Champion and you are going to hear me roar. This is when I decided I knew what my new word for next year is going to be! Champion!

This year my word was strength. I had strength in so many ways and now it is time to use that strength to be a Champion.

Champion (as defined by the dictionary) noun- a person who fights for or defends any person or cause

Now you might ask...why champion? I chose champion because I know that we are in a time of need where there needs to be champions. But, when I think of Champion I am reminded of the Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs A Champion TEDtalk.

I will remind myself to be a Champion:
-for the students that need extra opportunities that they might not get at any other place
-for the teacher that needs that reminder that they are valued and worthwhile. That I understand that they have a tough job..but I notice the difference they make
-for the administrator that might not get that encouragement in other places to let them know they are on the right track no matter what a score is.
-for my friends and my family  that put up with me. They too need to know the importance and impact they have on my life.
-for the stranger that crosses my path. Every person has a value and a strength.
-for myself. I have strength,  compassion, influence and heart.

This year.. I will be a Champion for others and myself.  We have so many systems that are broken in so many ways. I will strive to be the person that stands up and and reminds those around me the importance of the contrabutions they make.

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Do you have a word of the year?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Library Lessons

This week I spent my time playing librarian for summer school.  I have had way too much fun in the library!

I wanted to share what I did with the kiddos.. because I think for a short 45 minute lesson they have had a good time (I know that I have!)

Kinder through second grade I read the story Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack.  This book is FANTASTIC! The students loved it and it was a great way to teach cause and effect.  During the lesson we talked about the characters, the setting, and what might happen next.

I showed students the Sock Puppets app
Students were then tasked with creating their own Good News Bad News using the Sock Puppet App. I was impressed in how creative the students got.

Not the best video production on my part, but the Good News Bad News was HILARIOUS!
Good News- we are in the studio today, Bad News- we don't know any jokes.  I still get a kick out of it!

For my third through fifth grade classes we worked on poetry.
I found this great post about Teaching Deeper Thinking with Poetry and she had a Freebie download at her Teacher Pay Teacher Store!  I loved the Victory poem that was in it.  For the first part of the lesson we analyzed the Victory poem and chatted about the different meanings behind it.  Students then were tasked with creating an I am Poem.  Super easy "I am" Poem website where you fill in the blanks.  I put this on the big screen and we did the first 6 lines.  After the poems were written students used the Chatterpix Kids app

Students took a selfie (which.. they seemed to love for some odd reason) and then read their poem.  Once finished they could add filters, stickers and text.  One thing that I do love about Chatterpix Kids- you can export to your camera roll (and then do some app smashing and add to another app like Thing Link)  I don't have any to share for this one, but I was very impressed in how open some of the kiddos were in creating their I am Poem.

Super fun times in the library.. I need to start planning for next week! (Oh, by the way.. my #summerofcreating is off to a great start!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

#summerofcreating Day 4!

I am loving my new camera...but I am not digging the strap. There are lots of tutorials out there for creating your own strap...but I decided to go simple. I found a tutorial here I found the materials at Micheals... but was pretty excited to find sad keychains that had the clasp and ring on it that I wanted. I looked at several different places for the infinity scarf. I ended up at the dollar spot of Target (was thankful I had Robin there helping me out!) Although the tutorial said one scarf.. I realized that was not going to be long enough. We combined 2 infinity scarves together. Downfall of it is too long. After adding a few knots (and it still looks cute) it is the length that I like. Another plus.. now that the ring and clasp has been added to the camera I will be able to easily change out the straps. I see more camera straps in my future!

Monday, June 8, 2015

#summerofcreating Day 3 Chicken Spaghetti

Will this be a Pinterest fail.. or will it be good?
There are lots of recipes on Pinterest for Chicken Spaghetti, but I liked how this one looked
Recipe from website:
Chicken Spaghetti
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
3 cups cooked spaghetti
4 oz. Velveeta (or more), melted
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can green chilies (or a can of tomatoes with green chilies)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all together, put in a greased 9x13 glass pan, add shredded cheddar cheese to the top and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees (or until bubbly on top)

Now, let me preface this (in case you already didn't know) I don't cook. I am super lucky and married a Classically Trained Executive Chef.  But to go along with the #summerofcreating I knew that I wanted to throw recipes in there!

As you can tell.. I didn't have spaghetti.  Also, I ended up using this whole box of Veggie penne and added some elbow macaroni.  I also used Ro-Tel. Oh, and the cheese is not velveeta..but cheese whiz 

Other than that, I followed the recipe (but I used Mexican cheese on top of the pasta at the end)

Other than that.. I followed the recipe!

End Product

So, I will have to put this one as a Pinterest WIN! Even better.. I changed it up a bit and it was still tasty (my friend came over as my guinea pig.. and I told her I would buy pizza if it didn't work) We both ate 2 servings!

Are you doing anything fun for the summer? Is there a Pinterest Win or Pinterest Fail that you have done?  I can't wait until #summerofcreating Day 4!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer of Creating

Yay! I have officially finished another school year (well... still working at school..but it is summer let's go with I have finished school!) It was a year of ups and downs and craziness, but I some how survived!

With the summer months upon us I have decided that I am going to dedicate this summer to Summer of Creating! Each day this month I will be creating something. It might be a blog post, it might be taking pictures  (with my new camera!), it might be Pinterest projects  (and Pinterest fails), it might be cooking. In otherwords I am going to create something EVERY DAY this summer!
I can't wait to share here on my blog or through Twitter and Instagram. Be looking for #summerofcreating

What are your plans for this summer? How do you plan to document?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ATPE Summit 2015

Are you a Texas Educator? Have you marked your calendar for ATPE Summit?

Educators have spent their year changing the lives of the various students that have walked in and out of their classrooms and schools.  With it being the end of the year educators are still working hard to make sure that their students have every opportunity to succeed and the Association of Texas Professional Educators is doing the same thing.

One of my favorite times of the year is the ATPE Summit.  This year the Summit takes place July 7th-10th in Austin, Texas.  It is important as professionals that we grow with other educators and professionals.  The ATPE Summit provides this opportunity.  ATPE provides a wealth of great keynotes, information, and even more importantly connections with other like minded people.

Although the information that I have learned at the Summit over the last 2 years is impressive, the most notable part of the Summit is the House of Delegates. The House of Delegates allows members of ATPE from across the state to have a voice.  This is a time where we can vote, discuss, and collaborate with what we would like for our lobbyist to work on during the year.  It is a chance for Texas educators to have a larger voice outside of the classroom.

My favorite part of ATPE?  Many times as we get frustrated at what is going on our professionalism is questioned.  ATPE continues to be professional in all matters and looks at all of the different views.  The Association helps educators and professionals see all sides of a story.

As educators we are constantly changing lives.  As legislators they are changing educators lives.  As ATPE members our well being is advocated for.  I look forward to the ATPE Summit.  I look forward to the Summit for collaborating with like minded educators, having a voice when often our voices seem to be lost, and making a difference for all educators.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Rocking The 80's- Teacher Appreciation Week

We celebrated Teacher Appreciation this year by going back to the 80's. (get ready for picture overload!)

Each day was a different 80's theme.  With the help of our administration and my over achiever partner in crime Mandy Madden.  With that, follow along with our week of totally rad good times.  I have linked some of the various websites that I found ideas from, but honestly I enjoyed using more to search ideas and then recreate them myself.

Monday- Who you Going to Call? Elliott Teachers!
We pulled several of our Destination ImagiNation students and remade the Ghostbusters Theme Song. (I am an 80s movies fan anyway.. but it was SO much fun pulling out some of my faves!)

How did we make the costumes you ask? They are painter suits that you can find at Home Depot (and.. our Home Depot in Irving is the BEST!- We always take our DI kids to Home Depot and their staff is always the best with our kiddos)
Our awesome Ghostbusters

Check out our remake

Like, this video was way fun to make, but we had to give out goodies to start the week.
So our administrative team dressed up as Ghostbusters and passed out colossal cupcakes that Kroger had made (these are my FAVORITE cupcakes by the way-90 of these good things!) 

Tuesday- Back to the Future Breakfast
We asked each grade level to bring a different ie. kinder- juices, first grade- donuts and so on.  We set up the teacher lunch room with a large breakfast buffet. 
Bright table clothes and cut out eyes out of paper and taped on

Added various movie posters around the lunch room- but of course we had to add this to a corner!

Wednesday- Was a surprise! Staff was invited to wear their best 80s duds (and there were some great outfits!) The principals had lunch provided to us by food services catering. But that afternoon we had a staff meeting where at the very end our principal directed us to go to the gym because she was so disappointed that she had to show us what happened.  Before school let out (and with the great help of one of our awesome PTA volunteers Heather) we had decorated the gym to look like an 80s prom.  There were balloons everywhere, lots of snacks and drinks, 80s music and a photobooth.

Part of our Rocking Leadership team

Elliott Teacher of the Year through the years

Photobooth- backdrop is a bright green table cloth with 80s streamers on it.  Rubik's Cube made out of boxes covered in black paper and then construction paper.

Of course I didn't get pictures of the whole gym, but I do believe it turned out pretty awesome.

Thursday- This where the Pac-Mans came into play.  The giant Pac-Man began the game. Throughout the school there were 3 other Pac-Man ghosts (all of these were created out of post it notes by the awesome Madden) Coming from each ghost was a certain color of dots (those dots took forever to put up, but there was not a hallway wall that was untouched) Teachers were instructed to meet in their team leaders room for their conference period.  I then gave instructions to go a certain ghost and follow the dots. The dots led out a door and to a waiting car where our admin was waiting to take them to Sonic for drinks.  Thanks Josh Workman with Capitol Wealth Strategies for taking good care of us!

Friday- We offered a VIP Badge (new badge lanyard and nice acrylic badge holder) and a Rockstar VIP lunch.  
We started the day with remaking the Breakfast Club commercial

VIP Badges

26 pounds of brisket, corn, beans and bread

Thanks Eat_Catering_Service for the awesome lunch. Chef William always does a great job

So, the power went out during lunch- I continued serving- however, I am the worst meat cutter EVER.. and I don't really like brisket.. but I knew the staff liked it :)

We survived the week, and as soon as I left school on Friday Madden was already calling me about planning for next year (yes, we know our theme and we have ideas!)  What did you do for teacher appreciation?
A few extra pictures:
Filming our Breakfast Club remake

each Mixtape had a teachers name on it

My partner in crime!