Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year in review in pictures

2014 In Review... In Pictures.

In January, we went snow tubing. It was awesome.

Because it snowed...

and it snowed.....

and it snowed!!

We missed so many days of school that they made up an extended day schedule for a whole month to make up the extra hours. It was nuts.


I was feeling blue from all the wintery stuff, so i painted my toes brightly.
Yeah, so I didn't do so hot on the hearts.. but I tried! What else are you gonna do when you are snowed in?


We replaced the throwout bearing in my clutch.

And went bowling.


We took some cousins to the park.

 I worked on a big puzzle for Spring Break.

And I started my pond up for the season.


A frog moved into my pond.

I planted a tulip tree.

We flew kites.

We went to Nashville, IN.

I made a nicer entryway to my home.

I bought a fire pit. Whoopee!

We went to the fair.

We had a Hot Wheels car wash.

And we watched baby robins leave the nest for the first time.

School FINALLY let out.
 My oldest left Elementary School behind like Truffula Trees, but he is not an angry Lorax about it..well, this picture seems to say otherwise!
 We did some art..
These perler beads and an iron were a hit. We made robots!
 In an effort to encourage outside play, I made a mini croquet field in the backyard. We played once, and then it sat. Hey, we tried!
 Discovered this pest on my tomato plant. Grrr. Tomato Horned worm. This made me rethink my garden plans for next year.
We hosted the niece and nephew several times, and once we painted some fun shaped boxes. Art with Aunt April!

 I had a free bracelet 3-D printed. It's pretty cool to think about how they did this.
As a last Hurrah, we went to play mini golf. I am pleased to report I got 2 Holes in One! The boys were not as impressed.

It finally got hot out, and the dog dug himself a nice cooling hole. We could only see his head though, and we thought it was hilarious. He's like a zombie dog! Half his body is gone! Run!

Boys insisted we carve this Jack-O-Lantern. It's supposed to be a gargoyle's face. 
I didn't take any pictures in November. It was a nice month, full of Family what with Thanksgiving in there. 
 The barn at my parent's house collapsed. No snow for Christmas here. It was actually kinda warm.
My mother contemplates the fallen vestige of American history.
It's harder and harder to find old barns like these.

So, that was my year. Sure, there were plenty of other things that happened. My Grandmother passed away. She was 95. I can only hope to live that long! I began to think about spending time with family, leaving a legacy behind, and being smarter as I age with my time, money, and efforts.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Racism - Wrote a Post About It - Here It Go

En Vogue's song "Free Your Mind" is the inspiration for that blog title and is what I think of when I hear about the riots in Ferguson, MO. I've been trying to wrap my head around the whole thing, but mostly what I can do and share with others about the process to check myself and rewire my brain and help re-engineer my brain to think differently about skin color than my culture or mass media has groomed me to believe.

Firstly, let's be clear on what Racism is.

Racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.

"the belief that one's own race is superior"

I'm better than you because I am part of the dominant group.

Race is the dominant group. It is a:  a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock

or b :  a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics
I am white. Not everyone in my family is white. Some of my relatives have married into a different race and/or have children that are biracial. Do I love them less? No.

But the issue is not family, it is strangers.

When you walk down the street and see a person walking toward you that belongs to a different race, how do you react?

I watched the interview of Toni Morrison by Stephen Colbert and Toni, in her wisdom, says:
"There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race -- scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct... it has a social function, racism."
When we are the top dogs, we have a sense of pride and accomplishment. It is ingrained into our children. We made it. We beat everyone else to this spot. We own things. We make decisions for the greater good. We are portrayed as the heroes, the good guys, the prettiest, the sexiest, the richest, the ones to idolize and look up to.

We get a little cocky. We begin to snub those we feel are below us. We teach our kids that they can be anything they want and then we let them watch programs and movies that demonstrate that the dominant culture gets the happiest ending.

This is not a good thing. It does not promote peace, goodwill, teamwork, or forgiveness.

How do you break down the barriers? You promote kindness. You teach kindness. You show movies with kindness. You raise awareness for acts of kindness.

I'm sad that Secret Agent L is leaving as she did so many wonderful acts of kindness and touched people all over the world with her blog project.

It is up to us to carry on the traditions of those such as she. It is up to us to volunteer, pay it forward, and just do random nice things. It is up to us to talk about them, teach them, and demonstrate them.

Do them across races. A smile, a hug, an open-ended question, or a donated treat can make someone's day. Don't do it out of pity for their skin color, that's tactless and crass. Do it out of love.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Coexist: Shift Your Thinking

I was behind a car with the Coexist bumper sticker, you know, where every letter is a religious symbol? Yesterday as I sat there, I realized that it's not saying that we should all change and become a Giant Cult.

The sticker is saying we should be peaceful.

There is a push for peace out there. I think there always has been, but why hasn't it happened?

In order to truly live and coexist with your neighbor in peace, you have to be willing to do two things: Love, and Forgive.

Now, first of all, when I say love I do not mean that you are bubbling over with affection and care, I mean that you have to not hate them with a passion.

This takes Like, Teamwork, and Cooperation.

Liking someone means you have to put aside your differences, find common ground, work as a Team, and Cooperate when necessary. If you put this in the perspective of a community, there is no gate, but there is a Housing Authority and it's rule is: whatever your neighbor does, accept it, forgive them, and help them if they allow you to.

It begins by understanding that not all people are out there to hate you.

It begins by knowing that people of other religions are mostly peaceful. Just because they worship a different God doesn't make them evil.

Religion is a big part of being healthy, because it makes you think outside of yourself. No matter what God you pray to, you open up to something bigger; you hope, you thank, you count your blessings; and then you begin to think about your family, your loved ones, the problem with your neighbors; and then you think about what you can do to fix that problem, and maybe the solution is for you to stop hating them.

They need to make a Coexist bumper sticker with people of different skin tones and nationalities using their bodies to make the letters, because racism is still epicly abundant.

You can't love others, in a general, you-would-serve-the-homeless-soup kind of way, if you are afraid of someone because they have skin of a different color.

Or if they are lesbian, gay, or transgender.

I am supposed to love everyone. We are supposed to leave the judgment for Judgement Day. I don't truly know what is in someone's heart until they tell me, and to do that, I'd have to have a relationship with them that includes opening up, sharing, and trust. Faces, attire, hairdos can all hide the true feelings inside a person and show the world only what the person wants you to see. I can dress up fancy to feel fancy, but inside, I may hold hurts, hate, and fear.

The way to accept others is to get to know others and begin to see them as PEOPLE instead of as a stereotype. It's easy to love an imperfect person with feelings and things in common with other people. It's hard to love a religion, a color, or a lifestyle. Those are inanimate things.

Shift your thinking.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

I'll Just Put These Here: Random Links

When I browse the internet, I often end up with a bunch of tabs open for sites that I want to share with others, remember for later, or maybe write something about them in a blog post or story.

I can't leave them up for long because Windows 7 HATES to sit and hold them.

One option is to bookmark them all, but without folders labeled by category, I will never want to slog through the list and take care of them. They will sit forever unused.

Then, inspiration strikes. I will post them in a blog for myself and others.

While reading a blog full of random links is not my cup of tea, and I feel really hypocritical for doing it, I am going to have to change my thinking from slogging through a list to creative journaling. After all, this link dump is pretty much a history of my brain's entertainment and changing focus. It's a snapshot of my current interest. What better place than a blog for link dumping?

Ugh. The idea makes me frown, but, here goes:


This is really making me regret two things: 1. that I didn't homeschool when I wanted to, and 2. that I don't live in an area rich in experiences like this kid has, as well as rich in my own children's interests.

This post has been circling social media and is a letter from a teacher to parents to address the questions they have about bullying. It also addresses the extreme confidentiality that governs schools and daycares alike. It reminds me that I cannot tell work stories to anybody, nor trust anybody to maintain confidentiality.

If you have a passion for creative pursuits, do it. This motivates me to drop everything and do what I love. Though I can't do that and survive at this time. Sadface.
This link was shared with me by a friend who bought a calendar of these works. As he points out, many of them can be inspiring for a story. (Hey ficlatté dot com, can we have photo challenge yet?)

My youngest is nearly at the age where someone quashes his belief in Santa, so this:

The Autopsy is out on Robin Williams. I know this is a morbid switch from Santa, but mental health is kind of an interest of mind. I mean, I work with disabled kids and I see a lot of different mental health issues. I have lots of friends with mental health issues. It fascinates me. The brain is an amazing organ. Awareness and change in perception is key to understanding.

I want to bake Christmas cookies!
I'm getting links from here: to recipes.

After I eat them, I need to do these bodyweight exercises:

Healthy Cookies so I feel less guilty:

You can comment your fave recipes if you want, or even links to your recent interests. Can't say I will read them all... but I will try!
Oh, and I will be thinking about them from my indoor inflatable spa while it snows outside!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Writer's Rambling

It's officially my favorite time of year: Fall!
It's also my favorite month: NaNoWriMo.

At this point I'm so far behind in writing, I need over 2,000 words a day to meet the deadline.
Not. Gonna. Happen.

Unless I am dishonest.

I am working on the novel I started last year and didn't win with. I was in college and barely had any spare time to write un-college-related words. This year I have become more social and barely have any time to write words.

My career is all official and my classroom is all set up in a newer, more efficient way, but I am still finding that many things are taking up my time. I still have to plan lessons. I still have to plan events. I still have to learn to say no. Sometimes things are suggested and I like to try them, but sometimes change rubs me the wrong way. I have to deal with pushy people, jump through hoops, and do things the way I feel most comfortable; which may mean changing slowly. Emphasis on slow.

That's not all that has taken my time..

My sister called me up to use my mad organizing skills (which apparently accompany my control issues but do not go far enough into the 'cleaning' realm to satisfy my co-workers) to help her dig out from under piles of girl-child toys and artwork. It took 2 Saturdays to do two rooms. It was therapeutic.. for both of us.

Thursday nights Hubby and I have taken up a new hobby.. Trivia night. We go to a local restaurant and so far, we have kicked butt. Well, he has.. I have been able to answer one question out of..60 since we started. But that is not the point. The point is to get out and have adult conversations with people who *gasp* Don't Have Children and who *double gasp* don't understand our jobs enough that it is not worth talking about them.

Trust me, talking about your work is not the way to a healthy relationship. Sure, you have to vent, but if that is how you spend EVERY evening.. not cool. He was totally right in getting me out of the house to meet new people. Thanks, Hon!

Then there was the movie we went to see this month.. and another I want to see coming out. This has been the Year of the Movie for my family. We have seen more movies in theater this year than ever. There were some good ones! It is a luxury that is finally in our price range and we have run with it. It is good family time.

Movies and movie trailers can be inspiring...

I did get a few ideas spinning off of them...

But I didn't write them down in the dark theater, so they are gone forever. *sigh*

I also am still doing a second job tutoring because I love working with Autistic kids. I also love the extra money. It has funded the changes in my classroom, my wardrobe, and even "Awesome Christmas" which will be coming this December. It takes about an extra 2 hours (with drive time) 3 days a week. I find it rewarding, even when the progress takes months or a year. It is a break from the rigors of the classroom. It is a place where I have almost total control. It is usually fun.

I guess writing, like any job, is not always fun. There are days when things don't go the way they should. The muse could be out. The outside comes into your head space or work space. Sometimes non-fiction, blogging, is the only thing that can be written because it is in the way of the creative, fiction side.

Hey, maybe I should do a more non-fiction novel...hmm, confidentiality..

As long as it never gets printed, who cares?!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Parenting: 12 Ways To Have Happy Kids

We all want happier children, but how do we do it? Here are 12 ways you can raise happier children.

1. Stop Yelling At Them.

Children live what they are taught. If you yell when you get frustrated with them, they will yell at you when they get frustrated.
They will also yell at teachers, principals, grandparents, and all the people you will be completely mortified to have your children yelling at.

2. Praise Them.

Praise them because they want your approval and attention and happiness. It makes them feel secure and loved.
Focus on anything, even if they brushed their hair or teeth on their own, and tell them it makes you happy. Tell them you appreciate it when they pick up their things. Tell them you love it when they help you clean up.

3. Play with them.

Play allows them to get out stress and anxiety. Active play keeps them in shape. Role play helps them learn to handle situations. Imaginative play helps them learn creativity and problem solving.
Get out your favorite board or card games. Fire up the video games. Take them to the park. Spend just 15 minutes a day playing with your child. You've got 15 minutes for your own child, right? Teach them how to play chess, or tennis, or how to jump rope. Show them you can hula hoop, or roller skate, or have fun, too.

4. Routines.

Children need the security of routines every day. It also prepares them for the future. Think about how you get ready for the day. Do you get up, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, grab your keys and coffee, and head out? That's a routine that keeps you organized and on track. Your children need routines for the same reasons. Tackle the hard stuff, the things they hate, like brushing teeth, getting dressed, or cleaning their room in a routine with a set time limit or task limit, and a reward at the end. You'll see a vast improvement in their behavior.

5. Model Behaviors.

Be their role model. Hold open doors, thank people, return your shopping carts, offer to help a neighbor with your children there so they can see what kind and compassionate people do.

6.One-on-One Time.

No matter how many children you have, make a point to spend time with each of them one-on-one. Take them out to eat, just the two of you, or play a two player game, or hole yourself up in their room and just listen and talk. Make their time with you meaningful. You don't have to be your child's best friend, but you can be a listening ear. For that, you can't be the yelling, domineering, avoiding parent.

7. Share Your Own Emotional Struggles.

Open up to your kids about things make you feel and how you deal with them.
Guy cut you off in traffic? Tell them that when people drive recklessly and endanger your life and those of your children whom you love, you feel very angry. Instead of showing it by tailgating, honking maliciously, or cursing, you could accept that he is in more of a hurry than you are and that driving defensively will save your life.

8. Let Them Fail.

Don't do your children's homework for them. What good does it do them of you are up past midnight covered in glitter and paint while they wake up to a magically created project? What happens when they have to describe what they did in high school and they didn't do half the work?
As a teacher and parent, please do me this favor and let them do what they can on their own. It's their grade. They need to learn to earn it. Besides, chances are, one day they will take a math class beyond your ability. What then? :)

9. Don't Compare Them to Others.

I know it is easy to fall into the trap with other parents where you ask about school and how their kid is doing because it is small talk and the only thing you have in common, but don't start comparing kids.
Your child hears that he or she is not as good as another, or that you want them to be better. They feel less loved, and useless. That is not a happy child.

10. Keep Adult Issues Behind Closed Doors.

Please do not talk about how you need to skip paying this bill this week in front of your child. They have enough stress in their lives without having to worry about adult issues, too. It's okay to tell them if you lose your job and will be looking for a new one, that they won't be able to take that vacation or go to camp. But issues with family members, money, or adult topics need to be behind closed doors. Children pick up on things and take things to heart way too easily.

11. Give Them Responsibility.

Teaching them responsibility is the biggest, next to accountability, lesson we can teach. Reward them with money, treats, or special things when they do show responsibility. Take away money, treats, or special things when they fail to do them. Having to hand back dollar bills that they have earned because they failed to cooperate with a sibling will make them think twice about fighting in the future (for example).
Please give your child chores to do, deadlines to accomplish tasks like telling you what they want to put on the grocery list this week or they don't get it, and have them help you do things around the house.

12. Give Them Choices.

Please give your child choices from what to wear, what to eat, and what outings to go on. Making decisions is a huge part of adult life. If you keep telling them what to do, they will be frustrated and also never learn the freedom to exercise their decision-making abilities.

Focus on one at a time or many of these 12 to improve the relationship between you and your children. Sit down with them and discuss as a family the areas to work on. Including them in this decision making process holds you all accountable and establishes a sense of community rather than an 'adults change the rules again and don't follow through' situation. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

How I Enjoy My One Full Month of Summer

I have finally settled into the one full month of summer and I made a few promises to myself.

1. Do as little school-related as possible.  Sure, I am looking for great bargains on supplies, and I always have my classroom to-do list in the back of my mind, but overall, I am pushing those thoughts aside if possible. If the urge to research something or jot down a note comes, I am doing it, however I am limiting myself.

2. Make a point to play with my kids. I just made them a mini croquet field out of pool noodles. We used play golf clubs and little kick balls to navigate it. It was fun. We are going to the county fair later to ride rides. We just spent 2 days with family eating, playing, and talking. July is going to be about parenting and taking breaks/time for myself.

3. Do something creative. I was looking up art yesterday on pinterest for inspiration and I found the picture that is inspiring the color palette for my living room overhaul.

Autumn Fog — PALETTE KNIFE Oil Painting On Canvas By Leonid Afremov - Size: 20" x 36" 

Click on the link to see more of his work, as I LOVE it. Also, I want this painting if anyone is feeling exceptionally generous! :)

I am in the mood to paint something. I might also do some doodling and art journaling. I might have the boys paint with me. Whatever I do, or if I do them all, I will do them because I am free to do them.

July is also JulNoWriMo, and I am writing. That takes creative energy, too. So when I am not painting, I may be writing.

I may also be doing some cross stitch. I have a counted cross stitch I have been working on for oh, 12 years. :)
Here you can see my progress, and how large it is.

4. Do something active, or a workout, every day! I can't go back to work all flabby and tiring easily. I may have to wrestle with students whose muscles don't cooperate when dressing, lift students who can't sit up, help support a student in the middle of a seizure, or hold back students who want to run off. I may also be challenged to a relay race in the gym. :) Plus, it helps me feel good about myself. That's the whole point, really.

We have a park nearby, relatives with a nice pool, and there are plenty of videos on Daily Hiit to show me some new and fun exercises. The elliptical is always ready to go, not to mention the yoga mat.

Let's Do This, July!