Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Puppy Love: Meet Perla

Hooray! We got a new puppy! Although it seems like such a quick decision, we have been looking at getting another dog for a while. We currently now have a little Weimereiner named Perla and a Wheaton Terrier (5 years) named Gus-Gus.

Can you guess the purpose behind the names?

Hint Hint :Think Disney.

Nope...well if you were a frequent watcher of Cinderella you'd know that there is a mouse named Octavius in the movie, where Cinderella nicknames him Gus-Gus. When looking for a name for our new pup, we found that one of the girl mice in Cinderella name is  Perla. So there you have it.

We've been researching different types of running dogs that would also be a great protector. Although we love our sweet Wheaton, the worst damage he would do is piddle on the oncoming intruder due to his excitement. So our options gave us Weimereiners, German Shephards, and Boxers. There are other breeds, but those had qualities that we enjoyed. Luckily, we didn't have to look to hard as a family neighbor breeds them.

We are so glad that our pups have become friends. We are excited about adding Perla to our family.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Must Reads

Here are a few of my favorite books that are a must read if you haven't already:

 The Husband's Secret
This book is quite popular and has been around for a while. A quick read that weaves three women's lives together is an interesting and unexpected way. Moriarty does a great job at developing the characters in the book and it keeps you on your toes. This book is a winner, I'm already ready to read more by her.


The Girl on the Train 
I was eagerly waiting this book as I hadn't read it but have seen it all over social media. It definitely held up to its word. I love stories that don't give you the narrators name right off the bat. It makes it easy to get caught up in this book. A quick read that will have you wanting to be riding the train again.
Brain on Fire
A phenomenal read! I finished this book quickly because not only is it entertaining but it is thrilling. The book starts right off with an intense medical issue that will have you remembering the diagnosis from ER, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs, or what have you. Amazingly informative and I recommend it, if anything just simply to understand the frustration of finding a diagnosis. Cahalan is a GREAT writer!

All the Light We Cannot See
I was startled at first by the length of this book, but with the chapters being short, it makes for a quick read. Doerr does a great job at character development and although it may be slow to start, the adventure is worth it. I was so sad by the end of the book because I wanted more. Set in World War 2 it gives different perspectives of war in France and Germany.

 If you haven't been aquainted with Simsion's writing, do so NOW! His ability to develop characters in unreal. You will quickly fall in love with Don and at often times feel as if he is your friend. Be quick about getting these books as they are sure to be sold out everywhere.

I'm currently reading the Rosie Project and just as I expected, IT IS GREAT.
What books are on your reading list this summer?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Finding Rhythm While Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

Confession Time: I am not perfect.

Wish that was easier to understand as it is to write it. I think as a mother I've learned how each day really is a gift, sometimes that gift is an instant joy and other times it takes a bit to understand how much of a gift it is. As a natural people pleaser (as well as being sensitive) I take on a RIDICULOUS amount pressure when it comes to being a parent. I rarely give myself grace and strive every day to make it the best. On days that crash and burn, I find myself deeply upset and feeling as if I've let Peanut down. It's not enough that I tried because at the end of the day I don't feel successful. One of these days every now and then is fine, but I began realizing that I may be trying to harder to please others than actually be a great mom.

I've found that the best way for me to debrief is either on a run or at my MOMs group. I'm grateful that the women who are able to be sensitive to my feelings and let me unload about my inner struggles. I've always been an open book, probably more like an open door, as I usually pour my heart out too quickly and then often find it hurt.

I'm an over thinker as well, like I mention a people pleaser, and create expectations that I believe others are thinking of me, when in fact, they probably aren't. For instance, when people come over to my house, I clean and try to tidy up as best I can and during their whole visit instead of enjoying time with my guest. It's awful  and it truly takes up most of my day.

The scripture from Philippians 4:8-
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
In the midst of my day when I'm really struggling with this, I'm so thankful that God continues to bring this to light. I have begun to really focus on starting each day with a grateful heart, I truly believe that gratitude is what will combat my wandering mind.
It has been a wonderful gift to have participated in the MOMs  group at my church this year. I am eagerly awaiting next year's adventures as well. I have found that helping out is where I feel fulfilled and know I am using my skills that I was gifted with.
Do you have a community of supportive women around you?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Summer for Teachers: How to be Purposeful

As a fellow teacher, I understand the desire to kick up your feet and just RELAX. And what I'm about to share will still allow you to do that, as it is just as important to be well taken care of as it is to be purposeful. The summer before my first teaching job, I spent most of it looking for a job and then purchasing anything that I thought might make my classroom community-like. As a first year teacher, I think this is very necessary, but there are additional ways to start preparing for the new school year.

1. Relax- It's definitely your vacation as well, so take some time during your summer to do a few things that are both enjoying and revitalizing.

2. Read- Just like how we encourage our students to read, we should be demonstrating this. Whether it's new books for the following school year that you will be teaching, New York Times Bestsellers, or educational books, pick up something and get to it. It so rewarding to be able to read that book that's been on your nightstand for the past year waiting to be opened.
A few great reads to look at:


Different Learners
ADHD Does Not Exist
The Dylexia Empowerment Plan

The Light We Cannot See

The Rosie Project

3. Professional Development- As I'm writing this I am listening to a webcast for  "Cool Ideas to Teach Independent Reading," put on by edWeb. There are a lot of different resources that are available to teachers that are free. Most won't allow you to get credit, but I find it's better to be ahead of the game and help others understand, then feel frustrated and overwhelmed when new ideas are being discussed. I also took the Google Education Conference over that summer that was wonderful! A few other places to look are

4. Start Planning- Purchase your Erin Condren Teacher Planner and start to it. Of course some of you teachers work in groups and may wait until the first few weeks of August to start planning. I still recommend working on classroom management ideas, book groups, and anything else that you can do. This will make those first few weeks a dream.

5. Remember how amazing this profession is- I understand that year after year of teaching can be physically and emotionally draining, take a few minutes each day to find something that you love about education. You never know, it just might spark change next year.

Hopefully we all relaxing and enjoying our summer, don't let the next school year sneak up on you.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: Different Learners

Book Review: Different Learners

What a wonderful book. This is truly a gift to parents and educators. Different Learners is a book about how students learn differently and also the reasons for what may be causing the increase in students being diagnosed with special needs. I'd say that the book is split up into three sections: (1)About learning styles, (2) How the brain functions, (3) Research on what may cause an rise in special needs.

I really enjoyed reading this book and found the research to be on target. I have found that in my parenting world, I have allowed media to take more time than I'd like. It's a fine line that we walk living in a world where technology provides most of our jobs. How do we teach our children literacy with technology, but continue developing patience and persistence in lifelong skills like with reading books.

As an educator, I found the classroom is no longer just a chalkboard and chalk where students are learning reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic. It seems that the list goes on an on: science, reading, writing, grammar, social studies, art, music, physical education, character development, organization, health, personal management, technology, test taking, and thinking skills. Creating lessons and learning in the classroom can be challenging when we as educators are up against unrested students. Healy addresses this in her book, how adequate sleep and reduced television time can help develop the brain and increase successful learning. This is one aspect that I definitely agree with and have tried to implement into our home.

I enjoyed this book and appreciate Healy's work on informing parents and educators about how environment can have a very powerful impact on our lives. Not just being aware but also taking action will be most beneficial.

Would this be a book of interest to you?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review: The Learning Habit

This week I finished reading The Learning Habit, for a small book it took me a while to finish reading it. It was packed with information, but most nonfiction books take me a week or two to finish. Although I thought this book would solely be about how to learn, I found that it actually was more of a parenting book. I really enjoyed the helpful stories and illustrations the author used to highlight each point in the book.
 The book is titled so because of a study that was conducted on what made "good learners." Essentially the book discusses what the findings were on creating good learners with grit, focus, and structure. An approach called Empowerment Parenting develops kids who are capable and confident. It stresses the importance of having a structured environment: chores, solid 8 hours of sleep, a designated homework time, limited media consumption, and family time. It also encourages parent to praise effort and not the child so instead of saying "Great Job Dana," "That was a great try at shooting the basketball," is a preferred compliment. This way it is encouraging the behavior that you want in you child.
The topic on media consumption was particularly interesting. I have strived to limit the exposure of TV with Peanut, but every so often I give in whether it be due to sickness or me being exhausted. This book really created an impact for how damaging prolonged exposure to media can be.
I found this book to be a great read and full of wonderful information. Each tool that is encouraged is followed with several short stories to help readers understand how to approach Empowerment Parenting.
What is on your Summer Reading List?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Google Apps for Education Seminar Review

A few weeks back I attended a virtual seminar put on by the good people at Google. How wonderful it was to be able to listen to gifted speakers and teachers discuss technology in education. I learned a whole lot and was encouraged by the move that education is making toward incorporating technology into the classroom and school.

It has always been a difficult line to walk advocating online participation with the popularity of social media and privacy issues. I remember as a child practicing my typing skills at home as I created birthday cards for friends. A few times I played online games, mostly Solitaire and Mine keeper, but for the most part stayed out of chat rooms due to their "potential" of danger.

I find now as a parent the hard line of incorporating technology skills into her learning, but also minimizing the addition portion of it. I've been reading several books that link hours of technology use to decline in student's performance and ability to attain to tasks.

I felt that this seminar did a great job of showing educators and others, how to positively set up classrooms that use different modalities of learning and encourage students to have idenpendent learning. I enjoyed a concept where students have shared tablets, but have their own passwords which allow them to have their own 'playlist' of activities that is tailored to their learning style and needs. I find this to be especially beneficial because creating a community where students are all working on different things allows there to be more acceptance in the classroom.

I'm also really excited about the new Reading Rainbow program that is put on by Skybrary.
There are so many exciting things that educators are now able to do and parents as well when blending learning with technology.
What educational apps do you find to be the best (We love Endless Alphabet)?