Friday, November 14, 2014

For Love of Country

The weekend before Veterans Day my friend and I headed off for a carefree day of adventures exploring the city of Houston. Starting off early so as to jam pack as much fun as possible into one Saturday we made a quick pit stop at Starbucks for a caffeine wake up call. There was a display by the counter as there often is with upcoming Veterans Day paraphernalia. My brother serving this great country for a good many years makes me look at this display intently instead of half-hazardly as is the common  protocol. 

I see "For Love of Country" a novel by the CEO of Starbucks and a writer of the Washington Post. This book delves into a problem that the majority of veterans in our generation face: a disconnect between them and society. They're embarking on a mission to help bridge that gap and help veterans return to the daily grind apart from their uniform. 

I say all that to say it makes me think of my own brother. Of course it does, because if you have family in the military you can't help it no matter how little lingo you know. While visiting him and his family this summer at their latest assignment in Baumholder Germany I remember going on a double date and at one point sitting across the table from him and thinking, WOW, he is so grown up and sophisticated! Now I know that sounds silly since he is 30 years old and an incredible husband and even father of 5, yes 5, kids but it still is striking to me. It's similar to parents when looking at their children not being able to help but see glimpses of their childhood baby looking back at them. So it is with siblings. No matter how hard we try we occasionally still grin and mutter under our breath, yep that's the Zeb I know! 

With statistics being common among soldiers and veterans I try not to bother myself with them however I know deep down my brother is blessed and protected by Almighty God. Serving since 2003 and multiple deployments I watched from a distance the Army shape my brother into an altered version of himself. Not in a weird, sci-fi kind of way but a maturing kind of way. He saw things I pray to never see. He experienced things I wish no one had to and he became a strong, wise, disciplined, honorable man one could only HOPE to aspire to be.

There really are pieces of him I'll never understand or be able to grasp and perhaps that's why the gap between veterans and normal citizens exist. We shouldn't want it any other way. They protect us by giving their lives so we don't have to.

It's the experiences and mysteries of the veteran that make them unique and to be respected. That should never be traded but as non-army peeps we do need to open our eyes and appreciate the beauty of a veteran. Their wisdom. Their capability. Their resilience. Their sacrifice. Their value. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gift in a Jar

Here is a cute and inexpensive gift idea:

1. Round up a large and a small mason jar (if you're like me they're in abundance around my house)

2. Buy inexpensive but cute little gifts you know your recipient will love and enjoy! Ideas include jewelry from Forever 21, tea bags, individual drink mixes, bookmarks, magnets, nail polish... Anything that will for through the top! (I used the wide lid for this reason)

3. Buy either a scarf or handkerchief to stuff halfway down and let the rest drape out the back of the jar. Fill it up with your goodies! 

4. Fill the small jar with a food item they love, be it healthy granola or M&M's or gum just something cheap but yummy!! 

5. All that's left is placing a sweet card in front of it and leaving for them to find!! (And yes flowers are optional but a nice touch don't you think?!)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Folder Magic!

Have you ever wished there was a better way to take last years names off of plastic folders so you can be resourceful and recycle but not have yucky looking tags over them or marker smudges all over?! Now you can!! And it's SO easy!

I started with a clean folder and wrote my name on it with sharpie marker to use as an example.

Step 1. Take an Expo Dry Erase marker (something every teacher has) and cover the name in its entirety.

Step 2. Next take a baby wipe...

And simply wipe the permanent marker name right off!! 

You seriously must try this - you feel like you just saw magic before your eyes!! It's looks completely new when you are done with no marker residue!! Now you can get many more years of use out of your folders, well until Johnny gets it and rips it in half. Enjoy!

Thought I should mention this only works on plastic folders. The glossy paper ones it will ony partially work but not as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Looking for color in a shade of grey...

I grew up as a very black and white person and I still have much of it in me. I don't like complicating things. I want to see them simple and I may even break them down until they are simple and concrete. It could have something to do with the fact that my brother is an amazing debater so we got into some debates growing up and breaking things down to simple arguments really helps when you want to prove a point! (sly grin)

However, when you grow up and live through things, or witness things that you just can't easily place into a category or easily argue for or against it but rather both you are left to face your black and white mentality. After leaving a hard counseling session a song came on the radio that the words FINALLY made sense to me. It was Shawn McDonalds' song, Closer, and the lyrics I am referring to are:

"Looking for color in a shade of grey"

I was like that's what I'm doing! I am looking how to easily define this or compartmentalize it. However I have to admit there are some things that can't fit easily into one category or another. We are complex human beings and are capable of both sides of the spectrum of things at times. My personality makes me want one color to define something however it's not so easily done. And in case you are lost and haven't followed my thoughts I'll give one vague example to make sure you're on the same page: A person who grew up rebellious and has done many horrible and wicked things in their life yet still shows signs of a good kind soul at times. And say maybe he/she has a life altering thing happen in their life and they leave behind the rebellious person. Can you define them as bad or good? Not really. Both coexist within him/her yet it's up to the individual of which comes out. 

Like I said a VAGUE example but I know you can plug in your own stories rich with detail and drama. Humans are never scarce of some drama no matter how bad we try to flee from it. I say all that to simply say it sure got me lost in thought and at the end I decided there really are some grey areas. We are too complex to understand in simple black and white and boxes. We don't all fit neatly and we are not supposed to. God designed us so uniquely and so diverse and that's what makes humans so incredible! We have anomalies and it makes us wonderful for them! Beauty isn't defined in black and white - it's a colorful array that includes colors we haven't seen or named before! God is an amazing Creator and I love being a student of His in this great life!

Friday, April 25, 2014

EARTH DAY Jump-rope Project

Do you have just short of a million of these lovely balled up plastic bags like I do hanging around your house? I may stuff them into a cutesy cloth bag that neatly hangs in my coat closet where they are easily pulled out the bottom one by one but it doesn't make the fact that I have way too many of these laying around!

So when my daughter's school sent home an "optional" earth day project I was more than excited! I ran to Pinterest to find something a little off the beaten path for recycling projects and loved this jump-rope idea! My daughter will jump-rope through the house when she goes to brush her teeth, or goes to the table to eat dinner, or just to try new tricks and combinations. She jump-ropes outside, she jump-ropes at school and I think by now you get why I loved this project for her! The directions where I found it were a little vague so I thought I'd make my own little post with what I found out.

You first being by cutting off the handles. Next you cut down the sides of the bag stopping when you reach the bottom so you can unfold it into a big rectangle. Then just cut strips. Make them a couple inches because we learned if they are too thin they tend to rip apart and tear during the process.

Once you have lots of little strips tie about 6 or 7 of the strips end to end. Repeat this until you have 9 long strips. My daughter is 7, a little short for her age and we did 5 strips and it was a little short. Still useable but short so depending on the age and height of your child add or take away strips. You need the strips to be quite a bit longer than needed because you will braid them together and they will shorten. Remember you can always cut extra off!

Once all the long strips are made gather all the strips even on one end and tape with duct tape to secure. Next tie it or rubber band the end on the top of a chair, similar to how you would safety pin friendship bracelets to make it easier to work with.

Once secured to a chair gather into three groups of three, and braid. This is where I realized that although this project boasted it was for little kids (my daughter is seven and very crafty) the strips were so long that I had to braid it slowly to keep all the strips seperated and from tangling. And be careful not to step on the strips - they will rip easily!

Braid it all the way down as tightly as you can, tucking in as many tied ends as possible. Don't worry, some will escape but you will just cut those escapees off when you are done.

Once you reach the end fold over the plastic a couple inches to make it nice and thick and secure and duck tape ends to resemble handles. Finally snip off those fly-aways and voila! Homemade jump-rope that cost you a couple strips of duck tape!

So good luck, have fun creating and Happy Earth Day! (a couple days late)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I'm two days away...

I am incredibly pumped because tomorrow I will load up with white clothes and head to Dallas for my first ever 5K race!! Why the white clothes you ask? Well it has something to do with neon colored powder...that's right, The COLOR RUN! It has been an interesting journey as it started out with friends my age and turned into girls that have recently come out of our youth group instead but they are a blast to be with and I'm super pumped!

May I just stop to ask, is it wrong that one of my first questions was "Can we find a cool cupcake shop while we are there?!"

Anyway we will talk of my cupcake issue later. We (and I say we because we are running as a team) started training back in February using the Hal Higdon's website. He provides training schedules and tips for any length and type of race! Wonderful site and dummy-proof! We started at 1.25 miles and worked our way up over two months to the full 3 miles and it felt great towards the end of our training to reflect back on my week and say proudly "I ran a total of 8 miles this week!"

I know for runners this is no big deal but for a beginner who hasn't run long distance since high school it made me feel so good and it is in the tiniest way becoming infectious! I feel better and have more energy. I feel motivated and have a goal to work towards. It has just been a wonderful experience overall.

And this weekend ends the journey. Well the first of many that is (wink). I've been pa-rousing through photo ideas and researching tips so the experience is enjoyable and I think I'm pretty prepared for a first timer anyways! If you have ever considered it or found yourself saying one day I want to don't wait until someday becomes no day. Just decide it's now or never - baby steps! Take a deep breath and sign up for one, as big or small as you want and go make yourself proud!

I'll be posting my "colorful" photos later for you to see!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Read like a Detective" Anchor Chart

 We Are Teachers

I took this idea from a handout provided by WE are TEACHERS and ReadyGen of

I loved the detective and the theme of proving a case for reading comprehension! Hope you like it and can possibly use it in your classroom too.

(Click the above link to see the original print out version for your classroom)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Comparing Characters

Here is an anchor chart I created for a 4th grade classroom. After reading the story, Moon Runners, they will use context clues (students filled out grpahic organizers during the reading of the story that listed the characters thoughts, actions, and words) to infer character traits! I laminated the chart so the teacher can write the traits the kids come up with in the silhouette of that character.

Students can work in pairs or groups and using their own silhouttes write in what their character traits would be in colored chalk. At the end when they share their character traits with the class have them give an example of why that trait fits them or describes them. These would make a pretty hallway display!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Persuasion Anchor Chart

This would be a fun lesson to reward students with double stuffed Oreos, no?? 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Totally Cute and Clever Printable Valentine's!!

 Skip To My Lou Blog

This blog captured some of the cutest Valentine ideas I've seen in awhile and the best part is they are all free printables!! I found two for my kiddos this year, maybe you can find one too! In case you aren't sure here is a couple of the ideas they have there:

Just click the big pink logo at top to go see them!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Amongst my crazy schedule...

Amongst my crazy schedule I finally made my way back to a scrapbook crop!! My long time love affair with Creative Memories has come to a crashing hault as the news that CM is going out of business. However God is good and just happened to place me under a Close to My Heart consultant, LaJeania Hicks, at my new job this year!!

So feeling slightly out of place but accepted all the same I entered a new dimension of scrapbooking tonight. We shall see where this new journey takes my crafting but in the meantime I wanted to share a couple layouts I completed tonight.

The first was the "teach" the consultant did and she had the kit all cut and ready for us to attack:
 Scrap Till You Drop

You can find a better picture of this layout and follow her amazing blog chock full of ideas and beautiful designs at "Scrap Till You Drop".

The second one was a layout I did for an album my mom is actually working on:

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Compare & Contrast Anchor Charts

Just a couple more charts I have done recently for Reading and Language Arts: