Sunday, March 9, 2014

Save the Cursive! And other thoughts and tips on handwriting...

Hello and Welcome to the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!!!!

I have recently had the privilege of taking over a wonderful first grade class in a private Christian school and I was surprised and IMPRESSED that they exclusively taught cursive handwriting...starting in kindergarten! You might be thinking "Whoa! That is fancy, but not practical. Most kids can't even write print." I get it. Trust me, I do. However, I want to challenge your thinking for a second and introduce you to some new ideas.

First of all, in our global world, it is important to note that most industrialized nations teach their students to write cursive FIRST. In fact, they even have children's books that are written in cursive and print because the children are more familiar with the cursive. Secondly, cursive was taught exclusively in our country until the early 20th century. Yes, as a nation we did have a better work ethic then, but that aside, it is a more practical approach to handwriting. Hang with me for a second, I will explain.

What did Gutenberg invent? Yep, that was the PRINTING press. Print letters were invented for a machine. Cursive was invented for human hands. It actually takes less muscles and coordination to write in cursive than print, which is important for little hands that are less than coordinated to begin with.

Cursive writing eliminates several problems that young children are prone to such as letter reversals (b and d, p and q) and spacing issues. The letters B and D in cursive are different and specific enough that most children do not have issues with reversals. Also, all the letters are connected in a word and we do not have spaces until we write a new word or sentence.

Lastly, our pencil stays on the paper for the duration of a word and students are less likely to develop bad habits and teach themselves an alternate way to form their letters.  We've all seen some goofy letter formation and it makes it nearly impossible to read and slows down the child's ability to write. When learning cursive FIRST, the child will develop better habits, be a quicker writer, and the writing will be much more legible.

Now I am not saying students should never learn print. I also realize that this challenges the way that about 99.5% of our schools do business. But let me tell you, I have seen it in action. The school I teach at is not for gifted and talented students. Most of them are pretty average. but their handwriting is BEAUTIFUL and they are pretty good readers too! Let me show you. I included EVERYONE in my class in these photos, not just the best. This way you can see that it works.

Pretty Cool, Right? Now remember, this is FIRST GRADE! I encourage you to start a dialogue with your peers and do a little more research. A great place to look is through the work of Denise Eide. Her work is entitled The Logic of English. She is much more of an expert on this topic than I and the place that I got most of my ideas for this post. Now, on to something you can do NOW...

Yep, those are poof balls glued to an end of a dry-erase marker! Instant eraser cap! Super easy and super cheap! I hope you make your class some today!

 “Next up on the blog hop is Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog. Kristy has a great post for 
you all about Collaborating Using Google Docs! Just click on the button below to check it out! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February and Last Month's Laundry Detergent

Good Afternoon Internet!
I am so glad you could stop by again! Today, I am going to update you on our New Years unresolution, and finally post the tutorial on my version of DIY Laundry Detergent.

It is naptime in the House of Halls. The scent of earl grey tea and peace and quiet are only interrupted by a chirping cricket in the garage and the gentle hum of my laptop fan. Ahhhhh.....  Well, here we go.

Last month I resolved that we would be eating clean and changing our lifestyle this year. I should have known better. My intentions were good, but my chocolate cravings were weak, followed by Flu season  of 2014.  Praise the Lord, my pregnant self did not get it, but baby boy did, and that put any plans to make drastic changes to a grinding halt. When your usually bouncy, crazy, uncuddly little boy just wants to be held by mama, the last thing on your mind is hitting the kitchen for marathon cooking sessions. But Alas, I am not giving up the quest to be better, we are just going to be searching for smaller, more manageable steps to take in the future. Maybe a 5 a day (fruits and veggies) challenge? I think that would be a great place to start. Anyone want to join me? I will see if I can come up with something for the future.

 Ok, Laundry Detergent.

 Also, if you are using milk jugs or some other jug with a smaller opening, you may want a funnel.

When adding cold water to the warm mixture, you may have some lumpy coagulation, that is why I recommend the immersion blender. You might be able to use a hand mixer if you don't have an immersion blender, but I have not tried it that way. Another way to avoid the blender altogether is to use hot water from beginning to end, but this could cause your jugs to separate and leak- use your judgement.

Also, please note that this product does not contain the stabilizers that are present in commercial laundry soaps. If you store your laundry soap in an area that is not climate controlled, it will be a thin liquid when it is warm and a thick liquid when it is cold, this should not affect the usability of the detergent. I have a top load washer and have not noticed excessive bubbles, but I really don't know whether or not it would work in a front load. If you have one and give it a try, let me know!

Also, I have found that this detergent works *wonderfully* as a spot treater! If you have a stain, rub the detergent right on there and let it sit for an hour or two, works like a charm!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy 2014!

Ahhhh....January. A New Month, A New Day and a New YEAR!!!! I love the new year. The disappointments and failures of the previous year fade into the anals of time, while the endless possibilities of what lies ahead welcome you to plan and dream without prejudice. Usually by this time of the new year, I have a list of how many pounds I want to lose, how many dollars I want to pay off and how clean I want to get my house. All in measurable, unrealistic, numeric goals. This year, I am not planning on setting myself up for failure. Don't get me wrong, I still want to be skinny, debt free and living in an immaculate house, but I am starting to learn that those things are not how I want to measure my success or failures. Life is a process and what we learn and become along the way is what holds true value.
   This year, I simply want to love and care for myself and my family better than I ever have before. For so long I have just survived, barely making it to the weekend, the next break or the end of the school year. Just squeaking out the door to make it to work, church or the store on time. I am ready to thrive. To embrace what matters and really, really love my family.
   There are several areas that my husband and I have really felt needed some adjustments. Our diet being a main one. I am not going on a diet. Although I am considerably overweight, I am also 3 and a half months pregnant with my second baby and don't have the desire or nerves to diet. We also have an almost 2 year old at home and his cute little self doesn't need to diet either. However, there are some things that we have gotten slack with. Fried foods, refined sugars and flours, eating out. Those are all coming to an end. Going back to loving and caring for myself and my family, we need to change the way we eat. I love the blog 100 days of real food. My husband went to high school with the guy whose wife started the blog. That is the reason he started reading it originally and I started reading it because he started reading it.
 They really have some good ideas about eliminating unhealthy, processed foods and replacing it with nurturing, real foods. We are going to start with their 10 day challenge, and go from there, hopefully make it all the way to 100 days of nurturing, wholesome, vitamin rich eating. I can't wait to see how great I will feel when its all said and done. Right now (although pregnant) I am tired, cranky, and sickly feeling and its not just the pregnancy, I have felt this way for years.
   We will be following a modified version of their plan. We have monetary restrictions and can't afford to throw everything out of our cabinets just because it has more than 5 ingredients. We have purchased a lot of organic, healthy items that are full of different seeds, grains and a number of other approved ingredients. That will be our main compromise. Also, gmos are stealthy little critters. We are going to eat what we have in our cabinets, and slowly replace them with non-gmos. Those are very concerning to me, but we will have to take baby steps on this. One example is our corn masa- my son is gluten intolerant, so I like to make corn tortillas. We will use up what we have and replace it with something better. Our improved way of eating will start tomorrow. I am also working on decluttering and organizing or home. I will be blogging about both of those things in the future. Also, I pieced together several recipes for homemade laundry detergent and came up with our perfect mix, I will let you know exactly how I did it later this week! Take care, happy new year and here's to your dreams for what lies ahead!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Coffee, Books and Ribs, OH MY!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Congratulations on surviving August! That is always a big deal to me. It doesn't feel like the school year has actually started until you get to September. Maybe I am hearkening back to the days of my youth when we did not actually start school until after Labor Day. But Alas, my calendar days run together now and are marked by my husband's school days, my baby boy's milestones and Mary Kay parties.

I enjoyed the 5 for Friday Linky Party that I joined a couple of weeks ago and so, I am participating again! 5 things that really highlighted my week.
1.) My Coffee Clip Art Set! I had so much fun with this set. It was really quite self indulgent and if I don't sell any sets, I still enjoyed the heck out of it. As all my sets, it is an evolution of art and the style changed slightly with my mood through the course of its creation. I started with the realistic coffee cups and french press and ended with a stylized cup and saucer and carafe. Perhaps a little Ikea-esque. Maybe I flatter myself. But, here it is. (:

2.) On the same vein, bean, This FRENCH PRESS!!! Can I say, this is the coolest thing ever, although maybe a little more than I would want to pay personally. They totally turned a MASON JAR into a french press. For all of us real coffee drinkers, that is pretty cool beans. In my opinion, its not coffee unless it comes out of a french press and I HAVE broken the pitcher part of mine before and had to replace the whole thing. This sucker has a lifetime (yours) warranty and if you break the mason jar, no biggie, just replace it for a whopping  70 cents. 
3.) This BOOK!
Has been revolutionary for me. I am going to shoot straight here. The last 5 years have been rough. The last year was really, really, really hard. REALLY hard. I left a job that I had poured myself into for years and emerged feeling very defeated and confused. I knew deep down that God had His hands in it, despite how unfair it was, but I did not know what to do with all of the emotions. I hurt. Bad. But, God in his infinite mercy and love led me to seek counseling at my church. They paired me up with an amazing mentor and we are working through this book together.  The author takes you through the parallel passages of Psalm 57 and 1 Samuel 22-25. An innocent David is running for his life and hiding from the bloodthirsty King Saul and cries out for God's Mercy and Comfort.  If you are going, or have gone through something rough, or know someone going through something rough and don't quite understand what God is getting at or what the point of it all is, this book will make things deliciously clear and help direct you to peace, even in your storm. I hope someone else can get as much out of it as I have. This book is a cool drink of water and a sanctuary from life's hurricanes.

4.) Sale, Sale Sale Sale!!!
To honor the conclusion of this August, both of my stores are 10% off today and tomorrow.
5.)Labor Day
Per Wikipedia:
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September, that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers. It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike. With the decline in union membership, the holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbeques and the end of summer vacations

I get to see my dad only for a few months spread throughout the year. I miss him lots and am so grateful for the time that I get to spend with him. This time has been especially fantastic because my little boy has really had an opportunity to bond with his grandfather. I also have been home while everyone else is at work, which has allowed me a few opportunities to have my dad all to myself, which is a rare treat. Well, mom is off doing a half marathon this weekend, so I get 3 of the most special guys in my life in one place this Monday, awesome hubs, crazy baby and glob trotter dad, and I don't have to share! We will be trying this recipe:
I will let you know how it goes. (:  I hope you cherish the extra time you get to spend with your loved ones this weekend and have a chance to catch your breath before the year starts rolling full force. Happy Labor Day Weekend!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hey There Friends!
Sorry this is so late in coming...but we are having a sale!!! I am adding 20% on top of TPT's 10%, soooooo......everything in my store is 28% off with the combined discounts!!!! For those of you that didn't know, I am a former 2nd grade teacher and had a blog/store under the name secondgradespin. I will have items in that store on sale as well.
I have been in busy, busy with my little boy, Charlie and have spent every evening the past week with my brother, sister in law and their little baby girl. It has been wonderful! I am going to miss them so much!  I will work on something more substantial later this week, but this is all for now. Well, happy shopping and I will talk to you soon!!!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Joining my First Linky Party! Five for Friday- better late than never!

Hi there!
 I have been snooping around some really awesome blogs today and ran across the Five for Friday at :
I thought it sounded like loads of fun, so here we go!

This place is awesome! Hubs and I took little guy this afternoon to play, play, play, with the unspoken desire that he would then, nap, nap, nap! It worked! He We had a blast! I can tell that this is going to be the first of many trips to the Playground to top all playgrounds! This place has a handicapped playground area with wheelchair access, a tots playground, a water-mister area and a BIG kids playground, all nestled in the middle of an awesome walking track and disc golf course. As a one job family, we are definitely keeping the peepers peeled for free fun!
I am sooooooo excited that my buddy Mrs. Hunter is celebrating her 500 follower milestone! I am also excited that my Animal Print Borders Pack is featured in one of her prize packages! Go check out her blog and enter to win!
3. Baby Abigail!!!!
I just have to share the sweetest story. I am an Air Force Brat. I have lived all over kingdom come and believe it or not, one of my favorite places is Clovis, NM! I was there from 6th grade through 11th grade. My baby brother, who is 4.5 years younger than me met a sweet little girl in 3rd grade and developed a bit of a crush on her.  He asked her to be his Valentine, she said yes.   Sometime within that time frame, he also told my mom that if he ever had a little girl, he wanted to name her Abigail. Fast forward a dozen or so years later and my 21 year old brother is on depolyment in Afghanistan. We had long since left NM and he lost touch with many of his old childhood friends. He came across his sweet little valentine on another friend's fb page and they got back in touch. They started to talk and get to know each other again. He arrived back in TX, where he was stationed, and where SHE just happened to live. They started dating in August, got engaged in September and married in October! Well, almost 2 years later, sweet little valentine has given birth to a baby girl, naming her Abigail! Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it! And you know what else? She did not find out she was preggers until he had left again for Afghanistan, and the baby was supposed to be born before he could get home, but wonder of wonders, he got home 2 weeks before she made her little appearance! Praise God!!! So, bringing it full circle, brother, sweet little valentine and baby Abigail are on the road RIGHT NOW to come and visit!!!!!! I will get to meet my beautiful little niece for the FIRST time!!!! I am soooooo excited!!!!!!
3. Iron On Transfer Onesie
In this picture, she is wearing a little onesie that I made for her using one of my elephant graphics. Maybe I will get a better pic of the image later, but it is super easy. All you do is make the image that you want, and if it is words, be sure to flip it backwards. Print the image on T-shirt transfer printer paper (Yes! They make, AND sell it!!!) and carefully follow the directions to iron it on your fabric of choice. Now, it may not last through a million washings, at least not the type I used, but it is cute for a few pictures. (: Go try it for yourself. Anyone thinking: Class T-shirts???!!! Teacher totes? FABRIC BUNTING BANNERS?!!?!?!?!?! Knock yourself out!!!

4. Rice Krispy Treat Fire
Yes, I almost just set my house on fire trying to make rice krispy treats. I have a lot on my mind righrt now. THE BIG PROJECT is coming along, you know the build-a.....crap!!! I almost gave it away! It's a SECRET!!! But, I think you are going to like it...anyway, consuming brain power...Started heating a pot to put the butter in, got distracted, forgot what I was doing, put squirtles to bed, came back down stairs, hubs had turned the eye off. I did not realize how HOOOTTTT the pot was, the burner was off. I threw in my 3 tablespoons of butter aaaaaannnnnddddd..... it started to sizzle, it started to smoke and POOF!!!! The whole thing caught on freaking fire!!! I am not talking a little candle flame! I am talking a FOOT OF FIRE!!! I brilliantly went into hero mode, picked up the flaming pot and hurled it into the sink, it continued to burn and I geniusly thought to turn on the water, and when it died down a little, I used the spray nozzle to douse it completely. Only after I had extinguished the out of control flames did I realize that I have CURTAINS ABOVE MY SINK!!!! It could have been bad. bad.bad.bad. I just have to give a little shout out to God, Thank you God for keeping me from setting my house on fire. So, near death experience over. I got the treats made and this very thankful, distracted gal is going to pay closer attention next time! YIKES!!!

Recipe for Good Old Fashioned Rice Krispy Treats

3 Tablespoons of butter
1 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows
6 cups of rice krispies
sprinkles or any other desired add-ins

1. Turn your eye on LOW and watch it carefully the WHOLE TIME
2. With fire extinguisher in reach, very gingerly place your butter in the almost warmed up pan.
3. When the butter is barely melted, add your marshmallows and stir frequently to make sure the bottom doesn't BURN.
4. When you have a loose, liquid, buttery marshmallow mixture, mix it in with the rice krispies.
6. In a greased, or wax paper lined pan, carefully spread out your mixture and smooth out. Put sprinkles on top.
7. Let the pan hang out until its all firm, stuck together and fabulous.
8. Enjoy your rice krispy treats and thank your lucky stars that your house is still standing and you did not get one of those embarassing visits from the fire department...(which I know nothing about...*cough*cough*)

5. This Stuff

Is magic. I have eczema. On my hands and my lips. I have started using this in place of my normal soap everytime I wash my hands, and they feel like a BABY'S BUTT!!! No joke, and I know what a baby's butt feels like first hand, from daily interaction. This stuff definitely smells better! If you want your own baby's butt hands, go here. Mention A flower in the Weeds blog in the memo box and get it 25% off! I know the gal personally, she lives in my mirror.
Well peepsies, that is all for now, I have to go work on my TOP SECRET project. But no worries, you will be the first to hear about it when it is ready for some public exposure.
Happiest of Sundays! Go rejuvenate your soul!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Finally Finished!!!

Ok folks, I have had a (*cough*) lot few technical difficulties this summer. Between computer issues, adjusting to life at home, trying to find a time efficient way to produce quality graphics and how to use blogger, I have FINALLY FINISHED my Welcome to the Jungle Clip Art collection!!! I am so proud of these babies! I feel like I am finally a real graphic designer! I was going to list the set for 10.00, but that number scared me, so the price is 8.00, which really is a good deal considering the time I poured into it. You can sort of see the evolution of my art in this too!

 I started with the zebra and giraffe (Phase one: wow! I can use shapes and build pictures!),
 the next was the elephant (Phase two: designer's secret, I am blushing...Wow! I can trace a photograph to create realistic images and then color them in gimp) and then, finally,
 the frog, toucan and monkey (Phase Three: Yeah, I got this, I can totally look at a picture and ad lib, and look at me using this curvy line tool! Yeah, baby!)

I am also so grateful that my sweet husband sat at Computer Direct Outlet ALL DAY yesterday trying to fix my computer. I have a toshiba, my son likes buttons, he pushes every button that his grubby little paws can find, he also likes to bang on the piano...sometimes he likes to pretend that buttons are the piano, so he banged on my computer and it...broke. But thankful, DH got it fixed, saved the day year and has earned his little self a foot rub and a couple of complimentary powerpoints. Here is the future little mozart himself:
Squirticus Maximus is 17 months and keeps me busy. Very busy. I love him to death though and can't imagine my life without him...but tonight, tonight,  I am going to try because Nana and Poppy kidnapped him for the night! So that is all for now. I hope you go check out my new work at:
And follow me kindly if you will! Happiest of Thursdays and Here's to Friday-Eve!