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Sunday, February 26, 2017

IPad Pro Finally!

After Black Friday, I finally bought myself an iPad Pro.

I had purchased a Samsung Notebook 10.1 that I really loved.  However, there was a problem with the power button being depressed and the screen went black. I had the screen replaced by a friend, but he said that it was only a temporary fix.  Samsung would not replace the device so it barely lasted a year.  The major things that I loved about that Samsung was the multi-tasking and the pen.  I need the pen.  I used to draw and annotate as much as I could. I was able to print from it, but I had issues accessing some of my files from my other computers.  I loved watching movies and playing games on that thing too.  When it died, I set it on a shelf with thoughts of buying something more substantial.   I really wanted a iPad Pro when I heard about the Apple Pencil.  I had gotten a few iPads from donations for school. They had held up pretty well for years. Sometimes if something got on the screen of my Samsung, it would malfunction.

So I started looking at the iPad Pro, but the price was just too much.  I really didn't want to spend that much because I had just gotten my Mac Book Pro a year before.  Did I really "need" a tablet?  No.  I really didn't.  I went tablet-free for months.  Then, around Black Friday, I started seeing ads for the 12.7 inch iPad for less than $800.  I knew that I wanted the biggest "canvas" I could have.  I really missed drawing and doing art work on a table. I visualized how organized I would be with the iPad pro.  I would always keep it with me.  I would use it for everything!

So, when I saw a deal on Walmart for $725, I finally bought it.  I also got the Apple Pen for $99.  I was planning to wait and buy the "perfect" case and screen cover on Amazon.  My iPad came very quickly, but I had to wait almost a week for the Apple Pen.  I ended up buying a beautiful leather case  from KAVAJ on Amazon.  (  I really love it.  I also got a case with a separate keyboard from Best Buy that I like, but am not using right now. I find the keyboard on the iPad is fine to use.  I bought a glow-in-the-dark Apple Pen holder for the charger and a magnetic pen hold for when I use my keyboard case.

Now, I can't imagine life before my iPad.  My favorite app is PDF Expert.  I downloaded my language arts curriculum and can annotate my lessons and units. There are times when I just put the iPad under the document camera to go over certain things.  Of course, my nephew had put many of his favorite games on it along side my favorite games.  I love the app Sketches and I am able to keep notebooks for everything from school things to handwriting to ideas.  My niece and nephew like some of the handwriting apps.  However, the large size is too much for them to handle. They prefer the 9.7 inch iPads/tablets.

I really like just taking a screenshot and then altering those images.  I haven't been writing as much as I would like, but I am amassing some ideas.  I still am working with paper and in my other notebooks.  The cost of this was huge.  However, I think I am saving money on "real" art supplies.  For example, I always am tempted to buy those coloring books. However, that is something I can do on my iPad.  (Also, it keeps me in the lines!)  I don't buy magazines or newspapers because I read a lot on my iPad.  Now, my ONLY complaint is that my shoulder hurts from using it so much.  I still read paper books in the bathtub, the day they come up with a waterproof iPad is the day I quit buying paperbacks (yeah, right!) 

I love doing school work in bed and being able to print to my HP printer in the other room.  I'm sure a lot of people don't use the Apple Pencil, but for me, it is a must. I frequently annotate PDFs.  I do need to charge it quite a bit, but I keep the charger by my pen so it can charge at night.  Again, I only wonder why I waited so long to get this device.   Although it is costly, I just cut back on my grocery bill, going out to eat, movies, and buying clothes/shoes.  I've been avoiding Michaels and buying any sewing fabric or supplies.  I wonder if this iPad actually saved me money!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Teeth Whitening

Every time I go to the dentist someone always says, "Wow, you have beautiful teeth!"  I am always like, "Really?" I am glad that I am cavity free, but I'm sure a lot of people are. Due to crowding, my one bottom tooth has moved.  Another thing I always think of is that my teeth are yellow! I guess I have this weird thing about teeth.  I always notice people's teeth.  If their teeth are really white, I am always very impressed.  I went to the dentist for a cleaning and check up this past week.  This is only my second visit to this dental office.  They are very thorough and do a great job.  On my last visit, they told me about the process to whiten.  I was really on the fence and tried another 6 months of store bought kits and home remedies. Nothing really worked!

So I finally made the decision to professionally whiten. They had a card of teeth colors and mine was C2, which was yellowish. They said that these colors whiten faster.  It was $295.  A technician came in and made a mold of my teeth.  She kept saying that I was easy to take impressions from and that she got the most beautiful molds she's ever gotten. That was weird because using all those whiten at home molds always made me gag and dry heave.  This was easy.  Later that day, the office called and said that my kit was ready.  I stopped in the next day.  I got a quick lesson on how to whiten. I started as soon as I got home. 
Original teeth color before whitening

Day 1 after first whitening

Day 2 

Day 3

The procedure is pretty easy.  They gave me a prescription sensitivity toothpaste that I brush with. I don't rinse after brushing.

 I have these syringes with the whitening gel.  I put a thin line of it in the clear molds of my teeth and put them in.  Then I am supposed to suck in my breath, so they seal.  Then, I take a wet toothbrush and clean my gums so the whitening stuff doesn't get on it.  I set my cell phone timer for 30 minutes.

That's it.  I have always had sensitive teeth, but I am not noticing anything too different. I keep going about 7-10 days until I reach my ideal white color.   They also told me to rinse after drinking coffee (or red wine, but I don't drink that).  I was also told to go to every other day if my teeth start to hurt.  The worst thing is that I feel like my teeth were worse than I though.  I now look at them and think, "Why didn't I do this before?"  I'll keep updating.  
Day 4

Before                                                     Day 5

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Washi Tape Pringles Can Ruler Holder

So I have a lot of colored duct tape and washi tape.  My new policy of "shopping at home" means that I can only craft with items I have. I am buying absolutely nothing. I no longer step into Michaels.  I do not darken the door of Dollar General.  I don't shop online at Amazon for chalkboard paint markers.  
Is scented duct tape something I really needed to buy? Probably not.  Okay, now the glitter duct tape is pretty amazing. I mean, it is glitter. However, there is a very small amount of it on the roll. The old me would probably try to hoard this amazing product. The new me is using it!

I saw something on Pinterest about up cycling Pringles containers. The truth is that I never particularly liked or disliked Pringles. However, I bought a can of the salt and vinegar.  Would I ever eat them? I didn't think so.  However, one day when my niece and nephew were here I decided to bust them out.  Strangely, they both (especially Syd) loved them.  So I guess I'll be buying them for a while. I did buy the sour cream, but Syd really liked the salt and vinegar!

After several years of hiding my rulers at school due to sword fighting,  I decided to put them out again.  Students were working on a book project and kept asking for them.  So I started to wrap various tapes around the cylinder.  I had a lot of washi tape to fill in any holes left by the duct tape.  

This was fun and easy.  I did tape on a "Ruler" sign on it when I took it to school.  I now just painted two more Pringles container. I know they will come in handy soon!
When painting them, I did sand them a little first so the paint would stick better!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Stickers and Labels for Erin Condren Planner

I've had this Xyron machine for many years. It can laminate, make magnets, and make stickers depending on what cartridge you buy.  The cartridges are about $30 each, but I often bought them using one of my Michael's or Joanne's coupons.  
I was on Pinterest and found a bunch of websites for free Erin Condren planner stickers.  I started going to the website and printing them out.   I thought I'll give them a try and see which sizes and colors I like. 
I quickly ran them through my Xyron in full sheets. Normally, it is better to trim them a bit.  The first one I do usually comes out a bit wrinkled. The second run is usually fine.  I had two unopened cartridges of the adhesive. Wow, I could make thousands of stickers.

You just peel off the plastic cover.  
Then, the hard part is cutting out your new stickers. This is the type of thing that I do while watching TV.  I usually just get in a zone.  Peeling the bad off of your new stickers can be a pain.  I store the little labels in a pouch in my Erin Condren planner.  These turned out well, but I also had some Avery "Return Address Labels."  I basically just went to the Avery website, typed in the info., and then printer.  It was great not to have to cut the stickers out.  I need to get more Avery labels soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Erin Condren Teacher Planner Obsession

I'm in love with my Erin Condren teacher planner!  I was on the fence about ordering one because I was wondering if I needed it and would use it.  To answer that, yes, I need it and I'm already using it. I actually just brought my laptop and planner over to my mom's to show her.  Guess who is getting an early Christmas gift this year? Yep, I ordered her an Erin Condren life planner.  Sadly, my sister is claiming that she doesn't need one.  (Hmm...we shall see!) I now feel like everyone needs a paper planner.  
It only took about two weeks for me to get my planner. It comes in a lovely box and is wrapped in tissue paper.   I got free shipping because I went over $100.  Okay, the planner itself is $60-70 depending on your add-ons. However, I ordered a lot of other things like fun pens, stickers, and some dry eraser dividers.  I'm so glad I did too, because that is what makes it really interactive.  I just ordered more of that stuff, too.  You get 15% off on accessories if you order three. 

The teacher planner has a lot in it.  It has both a month calendar and a weekly lesson planner.  There are all types of grids, student lists, substitute information, and absentee tracker.  Some of that is more for elementary teachers.  However, I really need the weekly planner. I love the password section in the beginning. It's a small thing, but I am always getting locked out of my computer.  This will definitely be a big help.  I teach two subjects.  I also have four sections of language arts. I am really particular about marking where I left off in each class. Also, with assemblies and special events coming up, I need to know what is coming up.
The stickers are beautiful.  There are a variety of stickers in the back of the planner. You get some free ones.  I also love the ones I ordered. They are not just beautiful, but inspiration.   I am already using them, too.  The beauty of the planner is color coding and using the stickers to highlight things.
Pockets and folders!  This is the main reason I had to have this particular planner.   There is a pouch for pens, etc. I got two clear folders and one colorful folder.  I can shove a ton of stuff in here. As any teacher will tell you, we get a ton of paper on a daily basis. I get notes from kids, parents, administration, other teachers, fundraiser, and papers I need to fill out and return.  It is a real pain to keep all these papers together. Now, I am going to put them all in this planner.  
Okay, another thing I felt like I "had" to have was the wet erase boards.  I even ordered the cute wet erase markers.  I have so many places to make lists. I love and need lists to function. I have so many things to do.  Now, I can keep that list in ONE place.  I typically have five different lists going.  Yep, that is not good. 
I love the cover! It is a thick laminated plastic.  I spent a lot of time picking out the perfect cover.  My name is on it.  Hopefully, I will never left this planner out of my sight.  I do tend to leave things all over the place, so the name on the cover is a good thing. Weirdly, the planner also matches my new Mac Book Pro cover.  Now, if I could just dress as carefully, I would be much more stylish.
Calendar stickers.  You do have to stick on the days on the monthly calendar.  I didn't mind doing this.  However, I am still on summer vacation (until tomorrow!)...In my mind, stickers are pretty much always a good thing. 
Inserts.  For some reason, I wanted the weekly meal planner wet erase sheet.  I realized that I can use it to plan out my school lunches.  I always bring my lunch unless it is an inservice day.  However, at the grocery store, I am often just rolling around randomly buying coffee and bags of kale I never eat.    Now, I will have to have some sort of notion of what to pack.  I guess I could also eat it for dinner.  Most of my dinners are pretty much: frozen pizza, eat at mom's, Chik Filet, can of soup, slim jims, etc. 
I also ordered some really adorable post-it notes.  There are great because I can start adding things I know we will do that I am not sure when. For example, in language arts, we give a beginning of the year reading diagnostic exam.  I don't know what exact day so I can just write it on a post it note and move it to the correct day when I know.  There is always so much going on at the start of the year, that I want to make sure I don't forget anything important. With this planner, I am already off to a great start thanks to my new planner.  Well, goodbye SUMMER 2016!  It's time to move into School Year 2016-2017.  I believe that I can stay organized, calm, and inspired this entire year. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reading Rainbow Bulletin Board

For the last few years I had a loose theme of tie-dye in my classroom. This year I decided that I wanted to change that into a rainbow chalkboard theme. Last year I did a book recommendation board. I was considering doing a procedures book, but decided to stick with promoting reading.

The title is "Reading Rainbow." I played around with doing a curved rainbow.  However, since I was alone at school, it was really hard to get it "equal." So I decided to just go with a straight rainbow.  I like all of my bulletin board to be interactive. I still need to photocopy my book recommendation forms. Student are to take a blank slip,  write about a book they loved, and staple it under the correct genre.  At times, we also just use post-it notes that can be easily removed.
 The cloud says, "Share books you love on the rainbow." I used Microsoft Word (chalkboard font that I got online) in black on white paper. I use a glue stick to glue on the titles onto colored paper.  I really try to avoid using colored ink because it can be hard to see (plus expensive.)  I did not laminate the newer signs I made.  I probably should have.
I used part of last years bulletin board with the "This book is so..."   I have some adjectives that might help describe books on the top and genres on the bottom. 

I got a new border called Paint Chips from Really Good Stuff.  I simplified my classroom guidelines board.  I really want everything to look uncluttered.
As soon as possible, I invite students to share their favorite books and check out books from my classroom library.  For me, creating a culture of reading starts on day one.  We always make time to talk about books.  I try to provide some fun pens to write with and time so students can share their books and favorite genres.
This bulletin board is only effective if students get time to share.  I will probably give students a few slips to keep in their binders.  I will also make a folder to store the other slips with a stapler.  I would then like to transition over to a book recommendation on post-it note system as we will probably need this board for class. I try to stress that life-long readers try to have their next book lined up while they are reading their current book.  We try to maintain "Someday" lists of books they someday want to read. The idea is from Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer.  A book I highly recommend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer's End

Well, I'm back in school mode.  I'm in the process of rewriting all my beginning of the year handouts and procedures.  I usually do a lot at the start of the year.  I follow a lot of the advice from the Wongs.  I even bought their new book on procedures.  I love stuff like this.  As I'm reading it, I am looking for  ways to streamline my procedures.  There is so much that I want to do, that I feel like I have no room for.  For example, keeping up with make up work is difficult.  Even after all of these years of teaching, I struggle with a way to catch up kids who miss class.  I've tried every method and I think this year, I will try again.  So far, I haven't found a whole lot of new things in this book.  I might even return it because it was $36.  Then again, I have a lot more to read.  
I'm excited to go back to using Edmodo, which is a safe online website where I can post things and kids can respond.  I didn't do it last year and I was going crazy.   I love being about to post polls, quizzes, links, videos, and even pictures that relate to class topics.  I can put all of the handouts there for students to download.  

I am excited to go back to school.  I guess I always have been my whole life.  Has there ever been an August since I was 6 or 7 when I wasn't buying new school supplies and clothes?  Either as a student or teacher, August has usually meant "getting ready." This summer has been so strange.  I spent so long cleaning out my house and getting organized.  Yet I really had no inspiration to start new projects. I haven't paint, sewn, or scrapbooked at all. I really haven't baked much.  I guess I need to go back to collage and make a huge mess.  Where is my inspiration? I have 10, 000+ pins on Pinterest.  Why haven't I made anything?  Am I in a rut?  Plus, once I get my inspiration back,  it will probably be for school things. Did I waste my summer?  It seemed too hot to garden most of the time.  No one was really around to eat if I cooked or baked.  I cleaned, but again, so what? I tried to get rid of my clutter and I physically can't lift most of it.  Waiting, wanting, and getting nothing done.  The border in the bedroom needs steamed off, so we can repaint. The front of the house needs painted and sanded (not in that order), but it is too humid.  So much needs done!  

I did relax though.  I guess that is more than I've ever done.  Oh, I read.  I really didn't even write that much this summer.  So I organized, read, dreamed, sleep, and watched tv.  I ate what I wanted and skipped the gym.  I played Civ 5.  I ordered things online.  I really didn't go out that much.   The kids were here and I was there, but where did the rest of the time go.  I gaze out the windows a lot.  The rose of sharon's are blooming. The woods behind my house were cut back a little by the company that owns them, they look different. I look at the sky and remember being 15 and painting with watercolors outside. I take long baths and read for as long as I want. I FaceTime with the kids and hear about their adventures.  I sometimes walk outside and find boxes of things I ordered and wonder how long they were out there.  I tire of watering my plants. Some of which look dead already.  This was my summer.  No, I didn't lose 100 pounds or make a bunch of money online.  I guess I just took it easy, for once.  The truth is that it is harder for me to relax than it is to be working on ten different things.  Relaxing is good, but you get nothing done.  It is intoxicating to watch Netflix on the couch, eating bad things, and not having a worry in the world.  This is my summer life.  Now, my work life is starting.  I will be stressed at times. I will not have enough time. I will dread certain things. I will worry again. However, I will awaken.  I will feel useful again.  
I go back to a box of wires that I must sort out.  A lot of work needs done.  Now I can stop the pretense of relaxing and recharging and do again. I need to make, I need to cut, print, laminate, and glue.  Without stress, I am a blob who can't function.  I can't wait until my Erin Condren planner comes. I am starting to get busy and I need it asap!