Friday, January 3, 2014

preparing for the worst, knowing the best is yet to come!

Today I am an OCD planner. No, I am not preparing for a zombie attack or the end of the world second anniversary... it is something much larger and needing much more preparation. I am preparing for weddings!

In the past couple of years it feels as though I cannot check Facebook without another wonderful announcement of an engagement. I just am addicted to seeing the excitement and love surrounding these announcements and events. However, I know that some people think of weddings as huge balls of stress. As long as you keep the focus on the couple, let their love shine, and you have a well prepared bridesmaid, nothing can go wrong!

I have been lucky enough to have been chosen by two of my very best friends to be a bridesmaid in their weddings. Even though the day has come and gone I still feel honored that I was able to stand next to them on one of the biggest days of their lives. Aren't they just stunning!?!

One gift I was able to give to my brides was to be prepared in case of any emergency. I wanted nothing to go wrong on my watch! I scoured the Internet, thought about my own experience, and wandered the aisles of grocery stores until I knew I had everything an emergency kit could need. Since being in these weddings I have been asked by other friends who are preparing for their own wedding or a friend's wedding as to what exactly my Mary Poppins emergency bag included. So, with the holiday engagement season and wedding season approaching I thought I would spill the bag details to those out in the social media world preparing for their own zombie attack wedding. 

Here is the bag and its contents all in one shot. I purchased a tote that was large enough to hold all of these items. You can find cute totes in make-up sections at larger stores, however you tend to get a better deal looking in the purse/ bag section. I tried to organize the items into zip lock bags to make it easier to find things when digging in the larger tote. I also kept a few extra zip lock bags in the tote. Three things that are not pictured are water bottles, candy and snacks (granola bars, apples, trail mix, and other snack foods). Things that you should note that are in this larger overview and are not documented below are: nylons, socks, straws, pens, sharpie markers, scissors, nail clippers, cash, my cell phone, and feminine hygiene products. Other good items to include are paper, note cards (for the speech), gas-x, tums, earring backs, matches/ lighter, vendor list and phone numbers, crochet hook for wedding dresses with button backs, and a picture of the groom. I also had my hair dryer, straightener, and make-up on hand that are not pictured. I carried the Kleenex and the bride's lip gloss on me throughout the event. As well as the cash mentioned above.

Mouthwash, hand sanitizer, body spray, static guard, baby powder, deodorant, clear nail polish, polish remover, shaving gel. You can also include nail polish that matches the color the bridesmaids will be wearing to help with day of chips.

Band-aids (regular and blister), Pepto, Visine, Neosporin, Cortizone 10, allergy medicine, pain reliver, and migraine medicine. I also had a small first aid kit that included sting wipes and other items to help with cuts. This was also where I had tums, gas-x, those kinds of things mentioned above.

Combs, hair brush, bobby pins, tweezers, chapstick, make-up remover wipes, facial cleansing wipes, hair keepers, razors, nail files, toothbrush and paste, and floss. You can also buy those clear plastic hair keepers.
Sunscreen (both for the face and spray for the body), bug repellent spray, burn relief spray, and aloe. Basically my emergency section thank you fair skin and red hair...

Emergen-C (or Airborne), gum, mints, cough drops, and throat lozenges.

Lint roller, sewing kit, duck tape, Krazy glue, tide to go pen, scotch tape, and safety pins. White chalk should also be included as that works stain wonders! You cannot see my lip gloss spill on my wedding dress in any of my pictures thanks to that chalk, phew!

Kleenex, cotton balls, and cotton swabs

I hope that this list is helpful for those blushing brides-to-be and their beautiful bridesmaids. I hope that you are prepared for the worst, but I truly hope that none of these items are needed on the big day. My mom was cute for my wedding and created a bag for the boys as well as baskets for the guest bathrooms. Apparently I get my planning side from my mother.

Oh, and if you have something that you have included in your emergency bags that I have overlooked, please share in the comments!

Enjoy that big day and eat an extra slice of cake for me!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Some call it "nesting"...

Today I am preggers. Well, I guess I have been preggers for 35 weeks now, but who is counting? I like this crazy feeling of baby bouncing around in the belly and I am not really ready to let that go, but I am BEYOND ready to find out if we are having a little girl or boy. Not knowing has created some challenges (which are heavily out weighted by how happy it makes my wonderful husband). The first was simply what color scheme do we do for the baby room. It seems as if you are not doing pink or blue you get two other choices: crazy land of too many colors or jungle. We opted for something a little more modern and a little more us....

She is 100% positive the room was created for her...

Dresser  from Ikea. Andrew repainted it to match the room better.

The books are filled with the most amazing thoughts from people that have loved Andrew and I for years. It makes me tear up with happiness.

I made the curtains (thanks to Kelly at View Along the Way), the pillows, and the crib bedding (thanks to my amazingly talented mom this summer!).
Chair and crib from Ikea... see a theme yet? We are a little bit obsessed with Ikea. (Total side note: that is the chair Andrew gave me as a birthday present as the distraction for my engagement ring which came right as I sat down on that chair for the first time).
Andrew my amazing painter not only matched the paint colors perfectly; he then proceeded to paint the whole room better than I originally imagined.
While searching for my perfect teal fabrics I found this gray print with the alphabet. It was too cute to pass up and turn into a large pillow. The cute lamb was a baby shower gift. The best part? It says the Lord's Prayer.
The letters are a mix between wood and sturdy chipboard. Each one (except for the "o" mirror) was painted and crafted by Andrew and myself.

The letters are a mix of paint, yarn, and scrapbook paper modge podged on the front.

 My favorite times in life have been when Andrew and I have worked together through every detail. I am one lucky girl to have a man that is as active in the process as I am. We planned it out, bought and built Ikea furniture, painted the room, sewed the textiles, created the letters, and added our love of children's books where ever we could. We are in love with our teal, gray, white, and purple nursery and just hope Baby Long loves it even more.

Oh, and they "helped" too...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

ipads: shifting from one to ten

Today I am a busy teacher. Actually I feel like I have been an overly busy teacher since October (hence the hiatus in postings). But, I have been enjoying my busy life. One thing that added hustle and bustle to my classroom was the gift of nine iPads! I'm not too sure who was more excited, my students or myself... However this shift from sharing my one iPad under the document camera to nine iPads, a teacher iPad, and an apple TV created the need for me to seriously think about how this whole system was going to work and function in my room.

The first step I took was searching out other teacher blogs that have created rules and a visual representation of those rules to get an idea of what guidelines I would need in kindergarten. A lot of rules and permission slips were geared towards the upper grades, but a lot of those ideas still applied. I thought that I would have to compile my own rules page and switch into my graphic designer mode until I found this: Heidi Songs Ipad Tips.

created by Heidi Songs
I have used Heidi Songs in my classroom the last two years and my students love learning with the DVDs, so you can tell how pumped I was when I found a connection to iPads through her site as well. The image is wonderful and sums up the basic rules I wanted in my room. The visual is fantastic for my little ones. Of course we had lessons and discussions on the rules before the iPads were touched. I then posted the sign on the cupboard where the iPads are kept, making it right in their sight line everyday when pulling out and putting away their iPads.

Now that they had the rules, I had to work on which iPad would go to which student. I wanted to assign iPads so that certain games that required/ allowed name sign-ins would match the specific students (instead of student one or guest). Some of the apps I use grow with the students as they accomplish certain goals. I did not want a high student to go in and raise the difficulty for a lower student. I wanted it to be more individual. Also, if there was an issue with the iPad I had a limited number of students to address, verses the whole class. Obviously this would be much better if I had one iPad for one student, but we made it work within our center groups. I made the background screen image a giant number. And then wrote the number next to the student's name on their center group list. They knew that was their iPad and not to touch any other iPad without teacher permission. It worked wonderfully. No fighting over iPads and always being able to track who was on the iPad that day.

Sorry, kind of blurry... but you get the gist.
My last step before teaching some basics of how to use them and the apps they would like was to kid-proof the iPads. By this, I went into settings and controlled the content and accessibility of the iPad. In settings> general> restrictions you can prevent students from accessing everything on the iPad. For example my young non-readers see a pop up in a game talking about "in app purchases" and they are to click yes or no. Frequently those fingers just click boxes until the game they are playing reappears. This could get costly on my personal credit card if all 100 apps on all 9 iPads started charging me a dollar or more. I have things like the internet, inappropriate content, camera, and in app purchases restricted on mine. You can also restrict things such as volume limit, deleting apps, and more. The best feature is that if you would like to alter these restrictions you would have to go back into settings and type in the passcode before given that option. I found out that it takes zero time for these sharp five and six year-olds to learn how to move apps around the screen, delete them by accident, and spend their learning time taking pictures of their group mates. I will possibly remove so many restrictions after some time and more teaching, but for the start this was wonderful to have it all locked down.

The last couple issues that we delt with when they appeared (and now I know what else to include for the next class) is communicating when iPads were about to die and have zero battery left so I could charge them in time, communicating any technical issues like apps not responding, and how to control the brightness and volume. I wanted the battery life to last and their eyes not to burn, and one of my kiddos learned how to adjust this by double clicking, so we had to talk about what level of brightness is okay and how to fix it if someone has messed with the brightness; along with loud and quiet volumes.

I also kept the iPads in a locked cupboard so they were safe and only accessible when I wanted them to be.

 If you think you are going to include iPads in your classroom environment or you are not sure about this I have three big BIG pieces of advice: 1. DO IT! iPads have added a lot of success in my classrooms. 2. Explore and know the piece of technology and the apps you place on it. Be one step ahead of those smart brains in your classroom. 3. Everything in moderation. We might use iPads frequently and I am constantly expanding their use, but I am still an advocate of play-dough, real books, and everything children need to experience in real 3D life.