Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The battle of a creative mind

I haven't slept much this last week. Lots of things running through my brain. It's hard being a natural "fixer" and creative person. I am constantly evaluating and wondering and processing the world.

It's hard to sleep when your brain doesn't shut off.

Like this morning. It is currently 5:18am.

And I have already spent an hour working on my graduate classes. In fact, I just turned in my final exams for this semester! Woohoo!

That is a huge relief.

I'd like to go back to sleep. But I can't.

And I can't go run as I ran 8 miles on Monday and did a 6 mile track workout yesterday.

I guess I'll paint. Cause I sure can't clean house at 5am!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Our new Kids Room CLEANING strategy!

I am so very tired of fighting my children about their bedrooms and how filthy they are. It is an absolute constant battle. And I refuse to clean their rooms for them while they go outside and play. It is way easier to do so, but what am I teaching them when I do that?

Anyway... becuase I totally understand the overwhelming nature of a messy room, I'm been trying new approaches. 
  • I've tried designated tasks. .. make your bed.
  • I've tried designated colors.. just picking up things that are blue.
  • I've tried threatening.. if I pick it up, it goes to Goodwill.
  • I've tried... you get the picture.

Well, I think I have finally found something that WORKS!!! OH MY GRAVY!

At least it works this week. :)

I had Kylie take pictures of her room.

She then looked at the picture and identified a section that she wanted to focus on and went back and took a close up of that area.
We then analyzed the picture and identified where everything in that picture went.

Then she went and cleaned that area and took a new picture of it.  TADA!!

Oh my word she was so excited!

Talk about celebrating small wins!

She then went back and looked at the original picture and we talked about what to work on next. She identified the area, took a picture of it and came back to me.

We discussed the poor state of her stuffed puppy dog and identified where everything went.

And off she went. A few minutes later she came back with a replacement picture.

And then she was ready to tackle THIS. Oh my.

She made it this far.

And so we stopped for the day.

No tears, no drama.

Would I have liked the entire room clean? Of course. But I really, really liked the fact that she did the work herself and that she was PROUD of herself!!!

that is a WIN people.

And what about Lexi. well.... let's just say the pictures we have of her before reflect hoarding practices and worse... She started working on her mess last night. She already has some dramatic changes!!

And maybe that is what is needed. A visual reminder of the progress.

Anyway, for now, we have a winner room cleaning strategy!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Nontraditional Baby Gift

One of my friends is having her second baby girl. This friend is not a traditional baby pink and frills kind of woman. Nor does she concern herself with what others think or say about how a nursery is supposed to look like.

I love that!

She really likes sugar skulls and the traditions and family stuff that go with the Day of the Dead.

I have no knowledge about this stuff at all. I really had no idea as to where to start when I wanted to paint her a gift.

So I took a good look at her bedding, did a little Etsy research and found some ideas and a starting point.

Here is her bedding.

And a couple of baby gifts.

You get the idea.

Vibrant and bold colors.

So I did some searching on the web for a cool skull drawing that would work to paint. Truly, while I hate stealing someone else's artwork to paint, I had NO frame of reference. I'm just thankful that there was something cool for me to copy!
So I took the drawing and drew it onto my canvases.

Then I used sharpies to color in the drawings. I made a truly rookie mistake here. I forgot to put a layer of paint down first! UGH!! I realized what I had done after I had already drawn all of the skulls. I was NOT going to redo this work.

I used 3 black sharpies and rotated them around in order to keep the ink flowing well. Sharpies work really well on canvas for a project like this!

Here are the canvases before paint.

Ad then I started painting. I painted one color at a time for the most part.

After painting the skulls, I went back over the black again to clean up the drawing portions.

And here is the completed set. I really, really enjoyed painting these. I learned a lot about the process and what I would do different should I create something like this again.

And here is what I did with the left over paint.

A little more my "style" huh.

but I have to say, I'm really thinking about painting another set of these skulls! Maybe make my own this time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A side benefit (and drawback) of healthy eating!

Yesterday Maddie had a visit to her Rhumeatologist then we went and visited a friend in the hospital. 

Then we went to lunch.

So many choices in the big city.

So many healthy choices. So many bad choices.

We ate at In and Out.


It was yummy! But left me feeling a little greasy and queasy.  

So we shopped it off! :) 

I was looking for a new outfit for an important meeting. I didn't find what I was looking for.. BUT, I had to try on SMALL dresses!! WOOOHOOO!! (That was super fun!)

We got home and for dinner I ate the leftover Lobster Mac-n-Cheese that Doug and I made at a couple's cooking class. I hated for it to go to waste!! I ate lots of healthy veggies with the pasta, but oh my....

I was hurting by bedtime and this morning.

With Eat to Live's lifestyle, you don't eat dairy or fat. Well, you can guess what made the mac-n-cheese so yummy. Yeah, lots of dairy and fat.

Ugh! I feel bloated and bleh.

So this morning I got up, had a great workout (even though I wanted to throw up at times!) and decided to enjoy a detox day!

It's back to fruits and veggies for me!

First up a green smoothie. So good. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Environment as Third Teacher

In the quest for education rigor, academic performance and high stakes testing, the educational environment is easy to forget.

I'm talking about the actual brick and mortar building.
The classrooms, the playgrounds, the hallways, the bathrooms.

All of it.

Sure, it has to be safe. Everyone is aware of that.

No one (or at least I'm not) is going to send their kids to a school like the one in Matilda!

But if we want to reach students and help them to achieve all that they can be. Or let's face it, to just ENJOY the journey, we have to stop and ask what their daily environment looks like.

I really, really appreciate the Reggio Emilia approach of Environment as the Third Teacher. Interested in learning more? Click here is a fantastic pdf article on our teaching environments. What I see in this approach, besides acknowledging that the environment we live in is important, is that it levels the playing field a little between teachers and auxiliary staff members.

In fact, I bet the custodial team at my campus has never been given articles on environment and how all team members are CRUCIAL for successful schools. Sure, people are quick to stop these hard workers when something isn't done, but when was the last time I stopped Lilly as she is organizing the cafeteria and told her thank you and that she MATTERS! Shame on me.

So what am I going to do?

Well, I'm going to start by saying thank you and telling our maintenance/custodial team that they matter. Then I'm going to work on changing MY environment. A really good article on creating quality environments is "How the Environment Inspires Curriculum." 

And then I'm going to...

1. De-clutter. I'm going to look for and get rid of "unintenional knick-knacks."  (man just typing that and looking around my dining table, I'm like oh man. How about the Easter basket that is on my china cabinet? It's July. Talk about an "unintentional knick-knack")

2. Walk around the room/building and ask "What is the purpose of ___?"

3. Remember that the environment needs to be balanced. If I break the room into sections, have I balanced the space or will all of the students be forced into one area so that I can create a cool space that looks fun but rarely used. The idea of taking a section and placing it on a mental scale has me rethinking sections of my classroom. I have a ton of space designated for rarely used stuff, but for every day life with students, we end up crowded.

4. Create more FOOT space than SHELF space. (Boy this another ouch for me. I have shelves, shelves and more shelves. Both at home and at school.  I really need to get rid of some of my junk to make room for life!)

And once I've done that. I'm going to stop and brainstorm about the places that I like spending time in. And figure out what I can do to bring that about into my daily environment.

Here are a few of my favorite places.. these are just representative pics from google. I haven't necessarily been to Starbucks on at Downtown Disney. :)


So what do I notice about these places.. I love the contrast between light and dark. I love the different textures. I love the see-thru containers.

Stopping and brainstorming about my teaching (living) environment is pretty fun. I would have said that the lack of windows to the outside world was the hardest thing for me to overcome. But after some visual brainstorming, I have so many ideas! And ideas that I can implement! I can't cut a hole in my cinder block wall and put in a window for my classroom. But I can add contrast and texture!

This is where I am starting.  These are pictures from my classroom at the start of school last year.  It's pretty much the same.. maybe even less cluttered right now!

First up. Moving the big front table from the dominate position in the classroom. We use it primarily for holding supplies. So why does it get soo much space?? If I move the monster table to take up some wall space, I can open up a large section of the classroom for feet space. This would really help the traffic jam of students trying to get in and out from their tables.

And the half painted wall of cabinets? It bothers me, but I got used to them. Like we all do. We get complacent in our daily life. I'm not sure what color they will be painted, but something for contrast!

And that's one of the best things about summer. It's a time to rejuvenate our minds and bodies AND our environments!! Because I want my environment as the third teacher to be a ROCKSTAR.. not a teacher in need of assistance plan! ;)