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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Beautiful Baby

One day old

My new niece Charlotte was only born a few days ago.  Like all babies, she is so sweet and small.  Luckily, she is very healthy and was full-term. Various family members says that she looks like various family members. I never see resembles like that.  I just see her little fingers and cute feet and darling face.  The other kids already adore her.  

I feel ready to scrapbook again.  Of course, I have a year back log.  I know that I can catch up pretty fast. I don't even think my sister has room in her house for more scrapbooks. I wonder if the kids will look at them when they are older.  Maybe everything will just be digital then?  

I also wanted to get started on making Charlotte some vinyl onesies. Sadly, my Cricut Expressions 2 and Mac were not cooperating.  I have to bring up my huge Asus laptop from downstairs. It's funny because I just brought it down there. That thing is a beast.  

I was able to down the Cricut Craft Room and do a quick cursive layout.  I loaded some soft pink iron -on material to quick, but no luck!  I have to prewash the cotton onesies anyway.  The last time I used the Cricut vinyl, it peeled right off.  I'm going to try to do a better job of ironing it on.  The directions also say to wash it inside out.  Maybe the stuff is better for bags and pillows that don't need washed much?  My sister wanted to order some onesies with baby's name on it from Etsy. I think some she wanted were even from some of the Cricut cartridges that I already had.  
Mother and child

School is almost over for the year.  We have a week or two left.  I can't wait to have the kids here.  We have a lot of plans. I also have a few things that I need to get fixed with my house.  Since I worked practically every single day last summer on my online class, I am going to try to relax this summer.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

It's been a busy year to say the least.  Today is the last day of the break.

It might snow tonight for the first time this year. So hard to believe.  It really didn't feel much like Christmas when it was so warm. The kids had a great one though.  Jackie loved his Legos, Spiderman shooter, and the SWAT team set I got him.  Sydney got a bunch of dolls, play doh, kitchen stuff, and a new Leap pad. Amazingly, #3 is on the way in May.   The kids are old enough to start doing things like baking, building, and writing.  We've even started having "movie parties" and eating popcorn from the machine.  We have all developed an obsession with Alvin and the Chipmunks.  I bought Chipwrecked on demand and we watched it twice.  Sydney even wanted to watch it a 3rd time.

School has been a blur.  Engage NY has been more time consuming than I ever imagined.  I just printed out a lesson for our new unit and it was 31 pages!  It is hard, if not impossible, to keep up with  the copying.  There are so many handouts that it becomes difficult for us to find anything.  This unit, I am going to try to let students use their notebooks more.  If the handout is absolutely necessary, I will copy it. We are starting a new book Lyddie, so I am excited about that. I read this book a long time ago, but I remembered liking it.

In social studies, we are now doing the Nile River chapter. That brings back a lot of memories of Egypt.  Being on felucca rides and watching the water.  I remember all the places we used to hang out along the Nile.  It was so long ago, but some of it feels like it was yesterday.

Teaching online has been more challenging than I thought.  Students are dropped and added quite a bit.  So I end up spending time orienting and email the new student and then they drop.  It feels like a waste of time.  However, I did get a nice email from one new girl telling me how much she loved my online art class.  I thought about doing a second class, but with my sister having another baby this summer, I don't think I will have time.

I did take a day and make some laundry detergent.  It feels great to make that and some basic cleaning supplies.  I really long to make soap again from scratch.  However, the hassle of ordering lye seems too overwhelming. Plus, it's too dangerous with kids around.  I was always paranoid about the dangers of it.  I always wore splash googles and long gloves, but even a sniff of those awful fumes is sickening. I guess I could buy some melt and pour.

I'm reading The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright.  It is one of those books you can't put down.  Our 8th grade ss teacher lent it to me and a couple of other books.  With everything going on in the world, this book seems more relevant now more than ever.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Circus Party

The circus party was a hit!  The weather was great.  People ate the food and loved the popcorn!  The piñata was destroyed. The kids were able to swim.  Prizes and tickets were given out.  Jackie and Syd had a great time. I can't believe they are 2 and 4 now.  It seems like just yesterday they were little babies.  Now, they are little people who love to have parties.  Jackie was blown away but his birthday.  He asked, "Is it still my birthday?" the day after! 

This was the cake table. My sister got the table cloths online.  We made the red back board out of cardboard. The letters were made from the Carousel Cricut cartridge.  

Yes, I broke down and wore the clown wig.  It was only $3.99 from Oriental Trading but I thought someone should wear it.  
Sys and Jax taking a break!  It was also the Fourth of July so the kids were wearing their red-white-and blue outfits here.  I had a lot of popcorn containers that I've been getting from various places since I got my popcorn machine.  I also gave some away for kid's to keep their prizes and tickets in.
Family photo.  Note the popcorn decorations on the window.  We just used some cardboard popcorn containers that we did not assemble. 

The tent in the yard and the kids' table.

Kids eating cake made up a "cake lady."  We also got mini-cupcakes from the grocery store. I was going to make the cupcakes but just didn't have time as I had to concentrate on the decorating.   Kids are wearing birthday badges.  

Everyone loves piñata time!  The clown piñata that my sister ordered never showed up.  She got this donkey one at Walmart. 

As always, the candy was a huge hit.  I tried to give the kids cardboard popcorn containers for their candy.  One thing I do is only get "soft" candy.  There was some hard candy in this mix that I worry kids could choke on.  Also, we didn't use a blindfold because the kids had a hard enough time opening the piñata as it is.  

The only major snafu of the party was the balloon!  For some reason, the balloon tank this year was a fail.  The helium balloons only lasted about an hour or two.  My sister was able to take the tank back to Walmart and get a refund.  It's funny because I've used the same brand of tank several times and never had a problem. 

The lolipops were ordered online and my sister's mother-in-law printed up the clear labels.  I made the "For Clowning Around" bin that housed the form clown noses.  She got the idea from Pinterest.  I just re-used an old pretzel container and added a chalkboard contact paper label.  For the "white" chalk look, I used white sharpie.  I am tired of actual chalkboard paint markers, they just dry up and fray too quickly.  

The games were few.  We had a small duck pond, a ball toss, and a few other "easy" toddler level games.  It was hot and it was hard to get all the kids to participate at once.  That's why I don't teach younger kids! I did give out tickets but I think most of the kids were too young to "get it"....In retrospect, I should have just made favors out of popcorn containers!  We did have a lot of prizes left over that I will just throw in my school prize box for next year.
 I spent the day before the party filling water balloons for the annual battle.  However, I didn't have a covered bin this year and they ALL burst in the sun except for one.  Well, at least it didn't make a huge mess in the yard.
A terrific party overall.  However, next year, we have vowed no party!  We will see.

Friday, June 26, 2015

DIY Laundry, Dishwasher, and Cleaning Caddy

I had been meaning to make more laundry and dishwashing detergent for a while now. I finally had some time yesterday.  I had a bunch of little soap pieces to re-use.  I threw that in with the Fels-Naptha.  I actually find it better to use some bars of ivory because the Fels-Naptha is harder and creates more dust.  

I made a huge bowl of soap that I ground up with my old food processor.  I used a small food scale to just weight the soap that I would need. About 450 ML.  I just dumped in one cup of borax and super washing soda. I stirred it and broke up the clumps in the borax. Then, I individually re-ground this in the food processor.  The step is optional but makes the consistency more even.  The ivory soap really tends to clump together.

My borax and super washing soda had a lot of lumps and was very hard. I ended up having to rip the tops off the boxes and digging into them with a huge knife. I had extra boxes of borax and super washing soda, which I used.  

My mom and sister also wanted some natural cleaning products. I decided to just put the recipes on the labels so they could refill them themselves. Really, do I need to do everything?

I made two of Alvin's cornstarch glass cleaner, a shower cleaner, and an all-purpose cleaner. I would have made more but I ran out of spray bottles. I also made a bathroom cleaner with vinegar, dish detergent, lemon juice, and baking soda.  Wow, that really foamed up. I thought it was going to explode but it didn't.  

Put everything in a cleaning caddy. I added a rag, a blind cleaner, and a sponge.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Online Teaching Videos

I have been on this "whiteboard" video kick for months now.  I watched a few really amazing geography videos for middle school kids and I knew that I had to make some myself.  I didn't just want to make them for my language arts and social studies classes but for my online classes that I hope to be teaching next year.

I have been working on my art appreciation elective for months now.  It is almost like a full-time job. For each week or topic, you need to have some type of video.  I made a few videos but I found them a bit boring.  In real life, I can always write on my electronic whiteboard or ELMO to show students what I am doing or writing. How could I do that in an online class?  I tried to investigate how those teachers did it to make those amazing geography videos.  I didn't get much information but I found out one used a mac.  I still tried for weeks and weeks on my Asus.  I used Power Point and screen-cast-o-matic but I couldn't get the Inuos Wacom pen and tablet set to really work with it.

So last week, I broke down and got the Mac Book Pro.  I got the 13 inch so I could use it on my lap.  Amazing!  I started using Keynote right away to make a presentation on prehistoric art.  I then finally found the software I needed: Ink2Go.  I can use the pen and tablet AND record at the same time.  I found it impossible to use on "slideshow" mode but it is exactly what I needed.  I can now write on the slides and add notes as I am talking.  I love it.  It is 19.99 but right now I am using a trial version. There are a lot of editing software apps out there that I will probably need to try in the future but right now, I am happy!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Back Up and Blogging

I'm typing this off my new MacBook Pro-again!

 For some reason this morning, the Keychain iCloud password thing started going crazy.  All these pop-up messages kept coming up and then nothing else worked. I called the Geek Squad. The guy was really nice but couldn't do a remote access or even get my system into safe mode. I got a Geek Squad appointment for 12 pm, which was great because at that point, it was 11:30 am. To make a long story short, they couldn't fix it and I got a new Mac!  Well, the other was only three day old and the guy thought that maybe something was wrong with the operating system.  Yay, I'm so glad that I got the Geek Squad protection.  It really worked for me this time. 

I am so glad to be able to blog again and access my iCloud pictures.  I did not sign up for the Keychain thing on this one!  Just say no.  I couldn't blog for so many months because my Asus was just not letting me get to my pictures. Plus, that beast is over ten pounds. Its great for some things but really needs cleaned out.  I did like the Google Drive backing up everything automatically. I did originally buy the Microsoft 365 but I realized that I just do not need it.  The Keynote on Mac is supposed to be better, I am learning Pages, and I just plain do not need it.  

Right now for my online course I am teaching, I am playing around with ways of using my Intuos Wacom pad and pen when creating videos.  I might need some type of "whiteboard" or "draw over" software. I love the fact that I can just go to the app store to get it.  So much easier! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Carnival Party Planning Continues

One thing people always say to me is, "Don't overdo it!" Hello, I can't help it. I overdo everything.  My circus/carnival party preparations are going way overboard.  I am supposed to be taking it easy due to my wisdom teeth. Yet I feel a feeling of frenzy. Like the party is going to be here and there will not be amazing signs for everything! First of all, I love the Cricut cartridge "Carousel." The images are great and easy to cut. For example, you only need to cut two colors and they look great.  I also am blown away by the font.  It is perfect.  I am using the Zip glue pen or spray adhesive for the glue because there are some smaller parts.

I ordered prizes, a game, a clown's wig, and giant sunglasses from Oriental Traded.  I also got a roll of tickets and little popcorn boxes so the kids can keep there tickets in them.  I really love the prizes.  Even though I teach 7th grade, I still have a prize box. I throw pencils and pens in there for kids who aren't into those parachuting guy toys or hamburger erasers!  I also have some prizes left over from Jackson's first monster party.  I may or may not hang onto to those.

Since the party is on the 4th of July, I got a box of red, white, and blue prizes and regular kid type prizes.
When I was a kid someone bought me those huge sunglasses. I loved them. I remember running around in them and they make you feel like everything is bumpy.  I always wanted another pair. Ha.

I have had those cardboard popcorn containers for years.  My sister wants to borrow my huge popcorn machine for the party.  It really needs cleaned.  I bought a popcorn cleaning kit last summer on Amazon but never brought myself to the task.  Ugh, I can delay no longer.  You really have to be careful when cleaning out the machines to not get certain parts wet.  
There are many silhouette type designs in the Carousel cart.  I'm randomly cutting some to use as party decorations. 

Is this clown creepy? Most people think yes!
As I said, I love the font.  This is a single word that comes with the cartridge.  Should I add glitter? I am so tempted to.

I used this circus ticket that I picked up somewhere as an inspiration for the party colors.  I am trying to stick with red, yellow, and black primarily. 

I am searching for my air pump everyone. I dread blowing this up. 
Please note the rubber duckies! This are for the matching game.  
I still have a bunch of signs to make.  I am also making some random decorations that we tape to the windows and doors. We never actually have time to put up all the decorations.  I still need to clean out the popcorn machine and get that ready for transport. 

 On Sunday, I'm going to make cupcakes and maybe experiment a little with different colored icing.  My nephew Jackson wants brown (or maybe white?) icing.  

I really wanted to make those soap fish bags but I feel like I might run out of time.  I might try to run into Michaels and see if I can buy the soap part there.  Where can I get little fake fish?

Better get back to work!