Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Cross-Country Podcast Travel Companion: "The School of Greatness"

This summer, I did an annual Jack Kerouacian trek from my home to the childhood homeland. 770 miles, two kids, packed car, snacks galore. And caffeine! Don't forget the caffeine as the 12.5 hour trek is a one-day deal, powering on, with this gal as the solo driver. That makes for a 25 hour round trip cross country tour! It's easier these days now that the kids aren't so little.  Stops are in-out missions and we are on the move.  The things you do to go home to the people you love.

Given this year's adventure, podcasts were my friends while the backseat crew had movies, books, and tablets as their best buddies.  Yes, there were dictionary word games and song-a-thons, but mixed in between was the fortification of a lot of good brainspace.  I've been investigating many different podcasts, but I keep coming back to the same ones:
Plus, I've just recently started listening to "Inside Quest" with Tom Bilyeu.

But this trip was largely brought to me by Lewis Howes.

His interviews were fascinating, and brought many insights.  Plus, it made for some good car companions for when my kids were sleeping or too busy playing to pay attention to me.  (Though, I did actuallly catch them listening from time to time.

Here's a bit of wisdom I gleaned while "on the road:"

  • From Larry King--the importance of asking questions & tackling life through humor
  • From Taye Diggs--the importance of gratitude
  • From Shawn Stevenson--the importance of sleep & ways to improve the sleep you're getting
  • From Lisa Nichols--the power in faith & overcoming your own personal obstacles
  • From Laird Hamilton--the power of breathing & meditating to "get in the zone"
  • From Tom Bilyeu--the power of growth over fixed mindset & achieving self-awareness
  • From Gretchen Rubin--the importance of habits to build happiness

Good road companions and messages along the way. An excellent way to get geared back up with all the back-to-school business as that's the season we are in!

Good brain space always makes for a loyal travel companion--no matter where you go!!

Lewis Howes image from; podcast image from

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Finding Your Inner Selfie: Soul Pancake-Style!

It almost doesn't matter what day of the week you do it: watch the news these days and you see more negatives than positives.  Especially during an election year!

Additionally, narcissism also has taken on a new meaning this year, both with the election and the onslaught of social media selfies.

Soul Pancake & New Age Creators are taking on the front-facing camera.  And, in doing so, building video below.  Good stuff!
kindness, empathy, compassion...and building our "inner selfie."  To learn more about what that is, watch their

My favorite line:
"How do we start using social media & technology to make ourselves more awesome as humans?"
Very excited to see what else the New Age Creators are putting together regarding "creativity, love, home, happiness, and finding the real you."  I love too how there's an implication that getting away from the phone and getting outside is grand plan as well!


Image from; Video from

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The End is Here: Goodbye Summer, Hello New School Year

Here is my view, the last official "day of summer." (Weekends, excluded--hallelujah, I still have my weekend ahead!)

It's always a bittersweet moment.
It feels like the antithesis of the toasting glasses welcoming the wonder called summer ahead!

As I sit here and reflect on the dark, leafy green fullness of my backyard trees, and compare them to the still-newish, hopeful spring trees of June, it's easy to see the passage of time. The cicadas tell me that. The birds that hone in on the known-feeder, tell me that. The ever-growing grass in August heat tells me that (and that it's time to mow again).

So too do the June, July, and August days that have passed. Adventures, vacations, home improvement projects, books read (for pleasure and professionally), workshops taken, games played, decompression time, and even the days of the minutiae and mundane.

For those who are not "in teaching," it's pretty hard to understand. They see the glory in those "3 months off." For those of us who do teach, we know half of June is spent wrapping up the year and our classroom, and half of August (if not more) is spent looking forward to the year ahead. It's more like 6-8 weeks of true summer if we're really truly lucky!

Additionally, people who don't have work where they "bring home homework" also don't understand. We teachers are packing a whole lot of expectations and catching up into our summertime. We are frantically trying to make up for those nights-'til-11pm grading papers, lesson planning, laminating cutting, or keeping the house going in a forward motion by having clean laundry to make it through "tomorrow." We try to repair the ruffled edges where our house has gone awry from the over-busy-ness of the school year schedule.

As I sit here and look at my list of summer goals for around the house (along with school-prep for the year ahead & bonding time with my kids), I see a lot that didn't quite happen. But then that begs the question of whether the list was realistic to begin with? Can "9 months" of undone chores, projects, and more truly get done in those 3 months?  Plus, in the hectic-ness & mess of school, sports, and schedules, can we even sustain on that same go-go-go level that often feels 24-7?  Decompression time is vital.  I for one need to remember that I love to read "real" books, binge watch shows on the DVR or Netflix, and catch up on documentaries or podcasts that are meaningful to me.  It's almost like I need to remember how to play, have fun, and just "be" with the people that are important to me.

Sometimes that all gets lost in the school year.  Maybe this summer I was right where I was meant to be, doing what I needed to be doing!

Herein lies the blessing and the curse, which are all just two sides of the same coin. As sad as it is to say goodbye to summer, going back to school has a rejuvenation effect. Newness surrounds and abounds. The creative flow of new ideas, new curriculum, & new classrooms of students all serve as energetic catalysts. The same holds true with the colleagues next door to banter with & bounce ideas off of.  For a teacher, the swirling ideas and beautiful brain spaces don't or can't happen in the backyard alone.

Yes, there's also a beauty in back to school.  I'm starting my 25th year as a teacher on Monday. Luckily, I have a week of set up time & meetings where I get to get my feet wet before the young lads and lassies come.  I can gradually ease back into that oh-so-familiar groove.  But, there's a year of unexpected surprises ahead that does bring a natural glee with it. 'Tis time to bring on the newness that's married with the familiar sights and sounds of school. 

Hmmm... In a lot of ways, it's not much different than sitting on the back patio, toasting the start of summer with champagne. The feeling is the same, if you're open to it!

Backyard pic from my camera; back to school pic from Amanda Burton at; clip art  from; "solar" image from

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Backyard BFF

Today I reunited with one of my very best friends: my pool! It's not anything exotic, but that 18' diameter above-ground pool is my sacred summer place.

My buddy and I had been on a bit of a break--about six weeks smack dab in the middle of the height of summer. That, in and of itself, is a travesty! With two vacations book-ending July and a hole in the liner (& the time necessary to fix it)... along with a minor surgery recovery, I was in my own personal drought while the pool was out of commission.

But today I was able to return to my happy place. My personal space out in nature where I get to watch the birds visit our feeders and the tree-side birdhouses where they've made their homes. 

It's where I can watch squirrels scampering and scavenging on the fallen seeds from the bird feeders. I dazzle at the dappling light as it perks through the greenery of the tree.

It's where I exercise (which is huge because this kid is NOT "Sporty Spice" and exercising doesn't come naturally to me, unless it's walking to get in my 10,000 steps. 

My pool is where I relax (& same with pool side). Its where I read and really play with my kids and my dog. It's where I actually can be in the moment, doing my version of sun salutations. It's where I'm as close to meditating as this over-thinking girl gets. It's my source of Vitamin D, Vitamin N, & true energy.

And it certainly makes the hot humid summer days bearable!!

Even though the start of school is right around the bend, this happened at THE perfect time. Reuniting with my backyard bud was just in time to get some last bits of rejuvenation right before in back in business!

Image from my backyard!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Another Periodic Table of iPad Apps: STEAM-Style!

Mark Anderson, creator of The Updated Periodic Table of iPad Apps (Vol. 2), is at it again this summer, concocting yet another periodic table of apps.  This time, STEAM based apps!  Thank you Mark Anderson for your brilliance!!

For a higher resolution picture, click here to go to Mark's resource.

Next stop....getting busy at the Apps store!

Image from

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"Sustainable Self" Via The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post's tag line is "Inform. Inspire. Entertain. Empower." Under the leadership of
Arianna Huffington, the Huffington Post has been around over a decade since it originally launched May 9, 2005. For some of us, it feels longer as it has become such a news mainstay as it's popularity has simply soared. Clearly readers are being informed, inspired, entertained, and empowered!

Always pushing the creativity envelop here in the digital age, The Huffington Post once again lives up to it's tagline. This time, it's by way of "Sustainable Self," an online series of original, animated short videos about the importance of making simple environmental choices in our own homes. The shorts first aired July 26, 2016 with 2 trailers introducing "Sustainable Self." (Check them out here and here.) They also aired their first official short: "BYO: Bring Your Own."

Wet your whistle here, then make a date to check out the videos each week!

Sustainable Self logo and "Bring Your Own" Video from; Arianna Huffington pic from 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sesame Street Tugs Our Heart

It's hard to believe the start of the 46th Season of Sesame Street is just around the corner.

Though the intro has changed visually over the years, that song still rings true.  All of which probably make last week's news of the restructuring of Sesame Street & the loss of three of their key and
longstanding actors even more ground shaking for those of us who grew up on the wholesome diet of Sesame Street.  Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when "Bob," "Gordon," & "Luis" feel like old friends. (Actors McGrath, Roscoe Orman and Emilio Delgado, respectively.)

Even when you haven't watched the show in maybe 10 years (and that "you" would be ME due to my children outgrowing it), you feel the loss.  It's the loss of "the good stuff" that has stood the test of time.  It's the loss of knowing and taking pleasure in the fact that it was out there. And it's also that secondary loss of losing something that was a part of my childhood that I grew up with.

There's some controversial conversation that maybe the backlash was not well received, and the "Powers That Be" over at HBO may be reconsidering this decision. Time will tell.

In the July 28th article "Five Times Bob, Luis and Gordon from ‘Sesame Street’ Taught Us to Be Better" by Gabe Meline, we take comfort in where this trio of gentleman have taken us.  It seems especially contradictory to this election year when it seems we haven't an empathetic "gentleman" in the race. (Though half of the reason is because we have a historic election year with our first female to be a major party candidate nomination, so kudos to Hillary Clinton for that!). The 5 video clips in the article are throwbacks to how great these 3 gents were at serving as role models for young viewers. Gabe too shows how these messages stay with those of us who are now adults.

In thinking and reminiscing about the cast of human and muppet characters on Sesame Street, I'm thrown into a meandering down memory lane--many of which are accompanied with their songs and my own Sesame Street soundtrack.  Cookie Monster. Big Bird. Elmo. Snuffleupagus. Maria & Susan. Bert & Ernie. Grover. The Count. Kermit. Oscar the Grouch. Sesame Street always took the big and small life lessons and peppered them in amidst the ABCs and 123s. Sometimes with big name stars along the way.

Take for instance this music parody video with Macklemore from January 2015 as he and Oscar take on trash.  Oscar's been in that trash can for 45 years and counting....and he's still there.  But, at least he is enlightening us along the way

For more trips down memory lane, here you can find "11 'Sesame Street' Videos for Earth Day."

If you still haven't gotten your's a collection of 99 environmental videos from Sesame Street!

Thank you for all you've taught us these 45 years, Sesame Street. Cheers to your 46th year ahead--may it be the start of many, many more.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Climate MidMonth Manifesto: "Now Is the Time" During This Political Season

In this post-season of both Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and the current season of political campaigns everywhere you turn, it is no surprise to all that it's going to be some noisy months between here and November 8th.

For anyone who's been paying attention, one political party's candidate supports the imperative need to focus on climate change, while the other still denies that concept of even exists.

Here in this video is Leonardo DiCaprio, a long time environmentalist, speaking on how "Now Is the Time."  When record temperatures hit month after month, along with other environmental issues brought upon by human choice and human destruction, he's telling us all, now is the time indeed.

Let that be a part of your decision-making strategy this November 2016.

Video from

Saturday, July 30, 2016

San Fran Styrofoam Ban

Anyone who has been following along over here for any amount of time knows that I am NOT a major fan of Styrofoam (aka polystyrene). In fact, I have my children well versed to know that "evil" and "styrofoam" are two words that are locked together.  It's an environmental and health nightmare:

Good news earlier this month comes out of San Francisco. Starting 2017, San Francisco becomes the first city to ban polystryrene as part of their 2020 Zero Waste Goal.  Let's all raise our non-Styrofoam glass to toast this great eco-win!

To learn more about the polystyrene ban, check out this article from LiveScience and watch the video below.

Image from, Video from

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Building a Wall: With Brik Tiles & Legos!

Who doesn't love Lego's?  In fact, a year ago, I wrote about 11 ways why Lego's are downright awesome!

Well, thanks to a new Kickstarter that's out there, we can bump it up to 12 or more!  Who out there, especially anyone who has played around with the Maker Movement, hasn't dreamed about a Lego wall?]

Looks like the Brik Tile is going to make it. With only a few weeks to go in their Kickstarter campaign, the Jolt Team (creators of the BrikBook) are well over their $30,000 goal. The best part--estimated production and delivery, October 2016!

I see a world covered in Lego tiles! If anyone is going to "build a wall," this is the best kind of wall to build!

Image from; Video from

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Eco Tips on a Dolphin Trip

It's exciting for this li'l eco-warrior when I'm trekking about and happen to see environmentalism in action.  One of our favorite day was our dolphin excursion. We got to pet, kiss, high 5, and kick-board swim with the dolphins.  I discovered they are incredibly, surprisingly strong creatures as they pushed our feet and kick-boards went zooming.

While meandering about at the dolphin center, I ran across some signs detailing some eco tips.  So, of course the camera came out, along with the poster-making apps. 

We are one world--let's all take care of it together.

Photos from my camera at Dolphin Discovery.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Think Eat Save: Reducing Your Food Footprint

It's always interesting when you are living life for a week in another country.
In addition to immersing yourself in a little bit of relaxation, you get the great opportunity of seeing the sights of another culture.  Not only seeing their history, but the little things as well.

One of the very interesting sights I saw was at a buffet on a catamaran day trip we took.  Posted above the pans of amazing food dishes was the following sign:

Anyone who is a mom knows that these are the little messages we all share with our kids.  Especially at a buffet.  That whole "make sure your eyes aren't bigger than your stomach" thing.  I like that here it is a posted message of environmental awareness to help us all reduce our food footprint.

Speaking of which, here's a good video highlighting that same importance in the grocery store. It shows the journey that food goes through to get to your fridge.  Therefore, once it gets there, make sure it gets eaten and does not go to waste or compost.

Photo from my vacation camera, Video from

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Effects of Food On Your Brain

In the summer, I'm always thinking about health, fitness, and nutrition. I think it's that thing called "the gift of time."  That, and there aren't the fast food runs that seem to happen on busy nights of school events or soccer practices.

Here's one of the many gems over at TED-Ed.  My latest discovery of their treasures is "How the Food You Eat Affects Your Brain" by Nia Nacamulli. This video analyzes how food affects our mental functions. Why we might be sluggish after lunch, why we peek and drop after a sugar fix, and how protein, fatty acids, carbs, and more affect your brain in different ways.

For lesson follow-up activities to use in class, be sure to check out the video over at TED-Ed.

Video from, infographic from

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Getting Away: The Secret of Life

I'm getting away.

Getting off the radar.
Getting out of the country.
Passports are packed!
I'm sleeping in.
Getting up early.
Lounging and adventuring.
Sitting by a pool and perhaps even drinking yummy fruity concoctions.
Or two.
Seeing exotic sights.
Seeing sunrises and sunsets.
Taking advantage of the best parts that summer has to offer.
Getting away from the rut, the homework, the chores, the papers to grade, the people you love in your own house to go visit other people you love.
Doing the kinds of things that you should do in the summer.
Especially teachers.

Can't wait for the rejuvination!

Reminds me a bit of a Faith Hill Song:

"The Secret Of Life"

Couple of guys sittin' around drinkin'
Down at the Starlight Bar
One of 'em says, "You know I've been thinking"
Other one says, "That won't get you too far"
He says, "This is your life, and welcome to it
It's just workin' and drinkin' and dreams
Ad on TV says 'Just Do It'
Hell if I know what that means"

The secret of life is a good cup of coffee
The secret of life is keep your eye on the ball
The secret of life is a beautiful woman
And Marilyn stares down from the barroom wall

"You and me, we're just a couple of zeros
Just a couple of down-and-outs
But movie stars and football heroes
What have they got to be unhappy about?"
So they turn to the bartender, "Sam, what do you think?
What's the key that unlocks that door?"
Sam don't say nothin', just wipes off the bar
And he pours them a couple more

'Cause the secret of life is in Sam's martinis
The secret of life is in Marilyn's eyes
The secret of life is in Monday Night Football
Rolling Stones records and Mom's apple pie

Sam looks up from his Sunday paper
Says, "Boys, you're on the wrong track
The secret of life is there ain't no secret
And you don't get your money back"

The secret of life is gettin' up early
The secret of life is stayin' up late
The secret of life is try not to hurry
But don't wait
Don't wait

The secret of life is a good cup of coffee
The secret of life is keep your eye on the ball
The secret of life is to find the right woman
The secret of life is nothin' at all
Oh, it's nothin' at all
The secret of life

Couple of guys sittin' around drinkin'
Down at the Starlight Bar
One of 'em says, "You know I've been thinking"
Other one says, "That won't get you too far"
"That won't get you too far"

Lyrics from, image from

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Straws: Sipping & Stirring Up Major Eco Issue

Here are some interesting visual factoids about the hidden environmental impacts of something so simple that we all use with probably every fast food run we make: straws.

They look so friendly and inviting when they come to us at the restaurant, greeting us there in our soda on the table.  

And yet...

Linda Booker wants to do something about this straw situation that's in front of us.

Linda along with Blair Johnson, who also produced the documentary Bringing It Home: Industrial Hemp, Healthy Homes, and a Greener Future for America, are the masterminds behind this next eco-documentary-in-the-making.  They have developed a whole Kickstarter program to help fund this next documentary all about the perils of this slim little sippers.  Check out trailer and Kickstarter plee here for Straws: A Documentary Film for a Sea of Change:

If you are feeling the straw-impact after watching this, please donate to the film.

Here are other places to learn why you should take a stand against straws:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Updated Periodic Table of iPad Apps

I love infographics, and this may just have topped the list of best one ever--especially related to the edtech world!  Behold, the iPad Perodic Table of Apps, Volume 2 created by Mark Anderson.

I love the color-coded highlighted skills of creativity, demonstrating, learning, workflow, teaching, collaboration, numeracy, and literacy. The only thing that could possibly make it better is if it were ThingLink hotspot-activated. Maybe that'll be a summer goal of mine.  On top of all the other personal agendas I have!  (Insert wink emoji here!)  Or, if anyone finds THAT one (or Mark Anderson, if you make one!), please let me know!!

For high definition image, you can find it here.

Then, go forth and send it to all of your #edtech buddies and pals who coexist with you in iPadLandia! Your next stop after that may just be your App Store!

Images from, periodic table image from

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Park Match From "Funny Or Die"

Leave it to "Funny or Die" to take a twisted turn on the National Parks #FindYourPark and the many National Park Service apps that are out there. The comic geniuses created a fun tongue-in-cheek video comparing the app to a dating app where you can find "love....exciting and new" at a national park near you!

It's a fun way to get inspired to go to your nearest app store and check out one of the following apps to help you navigate to your nearest national park.  (All listed below are free!)
Then, once you #FindYourPark...perhaps it will inspire you to grab your hiking shoes or your camping gear to get you outdoors, moving and grooving and enjoying nature.  What a great plan for the summer ahead! Plus, humor is ALWAYS a grand companion! Might be a great way to celebrate America this 4th of July weekend!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Tale of An Environmental Teacher

Once upon a time,....
there was a girl who taught at a very "green" school where they recycled, composted, built rain gardens, had green roofs, raised oysters, grew butterfly gardens, had an entire week dedicated to Earth Day, hosted Earth Hour events, and much much more.

She taught there for a very good long time. There, she was quite in her element, integrating curricular topics on the side of sustainability.  Her students were mesmerized by books like Operation Redwood. They graphed light usage and how long it took different items to biodegrade.  They did biographies on environmentalists such as Jacques Cousteau, Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall, and John Muir. Her students weekly cleaned and counted Capri Suns to send back to Terracycle to reduce landfill waste. She was even rumored to have a majestic dress made entirely out of Capri Suns. Oh yes! They all ate and breathed the "green" scene.

Until one day....this wonderfully special school closed.

It was at this point the the friends/teachers/colleagues/families/students were quite saddened that they had to scatter like seeds in the wind.  Scatter they did.  They all landed well and started their next phase of happily ever after at brand new schools, public and independent, spread all over the community.

As would not be surprising, our one, same teacher gal also found a new school to call home. Here she got to embark on being the "iPad Lady," bringing new and innovative ideas to classroom teachers at her new school, helping her colleagues find ways to integrate technology and the curriculum.  And all was very good for her first new year at a new elementary school.  Not as "green" as where she'd been, but a good place to land all the same.

Then one summer day about 2 weeks before school started before her 2nd year there, our teacher was asked to do a favor. Would she kindly take on a homeroom classroom due to an unexpected leave of absence by a teacher on staff. This was quite a surprise, but of course she said yes. She embarked on both the hurry and scurry of setting up shop for the incoming students, as well as the "hurry and worry" on mentally getting her game on. She had to switch gears and go into classroom teaching mode versus just teaching tech with an office and classroom visits. It was supposed to be a short-term fill, but as often happens in this tale called "Life," more unexpected things happened, and she stayed in this spot for the whole school year.

There, with her students, she did what she knows how to do best.  She shared the importance of caring for our planet through student-driven tech investigations. She shared the concern of marine debris through mockumentaries and ocean cartoons. She read some of those same books as read-alouds that she had always read in the past. She embarked on a journey with a team of 3 other teachers to help the school become a Maryland "Green" School.  They triumphed and the designation was awarded!

Of course, as happens, the school year came to a close.  In addition to all of those eco-things, our girl helped her students prepare for the next step, write their end of the year speeches, and wrap up the year.  In return, her students surprised her with a very remarkable gift.  Based on her love on the environment, and their love for her, she was given a sizable donation in her name to a local environmental charity, promoted to conserving the Chesapeake Bay.  A gift was given that will keep on giving. The donations will continue forward to help further more environmental programs.

As her son once said in Kindergarten:  "Mom, it's all physics.  The world loves a circle."

A circle indeed. Those seeds that scattered to the wind with the closing of a school, had been sown. More environmental stewards had been grown. The circle of conservationism and environmental sustainability continued to grow outwards.

A circle indeed.  For the love shared and the love spread was more touching than I can describe.   I should know.  I know that girl, that teacher, very very well.

Thank You! Which, of course, is a most delightful way to "End."

GTG logo from; Capri Sun dress from; Michael Recycle costume image from; CBF image attributes noted above & from

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Nemo Nursery

AJ+ is a mecca of informative, fun, insightful videos.  This latest video of theirs struck a chord as the natural follow-up to may last post "Finding, Not Buying, Dory." In it, I was moved by the phrase in the following AJ+ video "Nemo Nursery."

No, not this:

...which you can apparently get for $170 through Disney Baby.
But rather, baby clownfish breeding center.  THAT kind of nursery. And the best part, it's in a school in Townsville, Queensland, Australia, where the primary students are doing the hard work. It's literally a school raising a school (of fish)! How neat is that--especially given it certainly is a one of a kind school and unique learning opportunity for these children.

Students of Belgian Gardens State School are learning some real world education and the importance of being stewards for their environment.  Their proximity to the Great Barrier Reef no doubt helps strengthen their commitment and sense of responsibility.  In 2015 alone, students raised 100 clownfish.  The school has been doing this as a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef Guardian Program for the past 6 years.  Why are they doing it?  To minimize the number of clownfish taken from the Reef every year.

These are the lessons of school that will stay with these students for a lifetime!

I love the way the AJ+ video ends:  "WWDD:  What Would Dory Do?"
I think we all know the answer to that!

Video from , images from,  kids and clownfish image from 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding, Not Buying, Dory

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the long-awaited sequel to "Finding Nemo" came out this past Friday.  That movie sequel, 13 years in the making, was of course called "Finding Dory."  We were away camping opening weekend, so we are still behind the times.... but we are so ready to see it!  Especially given we used to have a dog named Nemo, and due to that fact "Finding Nemo" was the first movie we took our daughter to go see, then still wee. Given that, this movie is truly on our bucket list.

After the first four days, "Finding Dory" made $154 million, which is far from chump change! Given that and it's frenzied fans who have been eager to see this blockbuster for years, Dory is going to be swimming in some cash--or at least her human producers and participants are.  With anything like this, the desire to own exotics goes up, crafting a dangerous imbalance on the delicate species.

Likewise is the same for the blue tang that Dory is.  Here's a great mini-clip on why we all should "watch" Dory, rather than "buy" her.  Don't let your desire to grab hold of nature put this li'l gal and her family in a perilous state.  Maybe that's where you need to "just keep swimming" and make more realistic choices for your fish tank!  For more help in finding a "just-right-fish" for you, check out the info page over at Disney's "Finding Dory" website to help you select the perfect fish for you.

"Watch Dory, Don't Buy Her" video from, image from

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Hallmarks of a Good Father's Day

Step into the Hallmark Store at this time of the year and you will find the Father's Day cards sandwiched between graduation and all the other special occasion cards.

The cards fall in a variety of emotions, but often feature dad as the handyman, the grill master, the rugged outdoors man, the sports enthusiast.

With our li'l family of 4, we welcomed our Father's Day weekend in the woods. A-camping we did go. True tent camping, for the first time in years. For 4 days & 3 nights we were riverside in the woods of Harper's Ferry, WV.  3/4 of our long weekend, the weather couldn't be more ideal. Even better, we survived the torrential downpour of the first night, staying dry and with a good sense of adventure all hunkered down inside our tent.

Falling right after my teacher meetings ended, this weekend was a symbolic kickoff to summer--not to mention, a great way to decompress. A way to be sure to slow down, appreciate all that surrounded us. A way to breathe a little easier, take time more in stride and on its own time table. A way to gasp in the sunrises and embrace the sunsets over the camp-side Potomac river. We got lost in the flames of the campfire (& a good book or two), got absorbed in the fun of the conversation, while basking in the beauty and green all around.

I got a great dose of Vitamin N.  Nature!

I also got to see the my husband, my kid's dad, in his Hallmark Card element:
• He was the handyman who took the lead in prepping our campground with protective tarps both above and below our tent to keep us dry from the rain we knew was coming.  He patiently showed the kids how to hammer the stakes, creating quite the trio of tent builders.
• He was the grill master at work, baking bacon first thing in the morning to start our day with the tasty yumminess and sustenance that only bacon (or steak) can bring.  Watching him guide my daughter in flipping burgers to perfection made me smile, and thankful that he was tackling all the cooking.
• He was the rugged outdoors man who built our fires, trekked the trails, and 4-wheel-drove us down the rocky hillside to our campsite.  He romped in the river with the kids to splashing about with them.  Their giggles crossed over to where I was sitting, and I found my heart filling with love for my family.
• He was the sports enthusiast who spurred us on to try new and different things, encouraging family fun and bravery while zip-lining and white water rafting. He helped us all step outside of ourselves to try something new, but was also playfully pushing me out of the raft in flat water, but also grabbing hold of my son when he almost flipped out as we hit a wave hard.
In addition to seeing my husband in these "Hallmark" moments, I also had many memories this weekend of my own father, who passed away 5 years ago. We never went camping together when I was a kid, but my family always went on adventures and annual vacations. Some exotic, some rustic, and many of them were ones where the mini grill often came out of the trunk for a hotel side cookouts. There were playful times together including outdoor outings with a bit of hiking and some stream investigations where Dad and I would skip stone after stone. Where love, laughter, good times, and togetherness are all a part of the memories in the making.

These are all the hallmarks of a good father... 
and the hallmarks of making good memories.  

May you make some wonderful memories with your father today and children today, 
or celebrate the memories made in the past 
with your dad in days gone by.  

Happy Father's Day.   

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Collection of Commencement Speeches

Today was my first official day of summer after all of the end of year events with kids--from the annual field trip to Hershey Park with my 5th graders to the final 5th grade promotion speeches as they gear up to move ahead to the middle school.  We had our days of meetings to wrap up and time set aside to pack up. Moving from one classroom to another, I did a lot of overhauling of things hidden away in closet boxes where they had lived a long time.  So files are now tidy, the closet is ready for its new recipient, and my new space is now ready for me to return in the fall.  We finished up with the end of year faculty luncheon where everyone celebrated accomplishments then bid adieu for the summer.

In this season of wrapping up, it becomes exhausting and overwhelming at times, but it brings about a good sense of closure and accomplishment. Like tying up the year, a package with a bow. 

In this season of speeches, I wrote one of my own to serve as inspiration to my students that we all had something to say, here at the end of the year.  As my students delivered their speeches on that last day of school, I found myself grinning to such a degree that by the end, my cheeks hurt from smiling! 

Given all of that, I think I've become more aware of all the viral commencement speeches that swirl about on social media.  I've found myself collecting them, much like someone would collect precious stones, commemorative stamps, or beautiful shells.  I've already shared Matt Damon's 2016 speech he delivered at MIT.  Here are my 3 other favorites this season.  May they fill you with wisdom, and may they make you think!

Historian & Documentarian Ken Burns:

Harvard's Dean James Ryan:

Mike Rowe's Practical Advice
(a different slant than the typical commencement speech!):

Pictures from my promotion &, Videos from,, and

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Our Hearts Break Once Again: Not Another Mass Shooting.

I'm saddened, hugely so, by the news du jour.

Orlando, I am soo, soo sorry.  For your pain, for your loss, for being here once again.

It just isn't right.  And there aren't words enough.  It is just. plain. wrong.

My heart goes out to all of you who were at the Pulse and witnessed this first hand. My heart aches for the family members who were struck with middle-of-the-night fear and fled to the scene of the club or the hospital to find your people. I hope you were in the 5/6 that found your people alive.  Life is meant to be filled with love, not this.  Why are we still judging people because they find safety, security, and comfort in a place that welcomes LGBTQI? Everyone, no matter who, should have a place they can go where they feel comfortable.

End of story.

I find it all so horrific, so sad, so pointless. All this hatred. I'm so sorry we are witnessing yet another perilous public crime that has dramatically & brutally changed the lives of so many and their loved ones.

I don't like to get political (more than eco-political, I should say), but today I am urged, nudged, spurred to go there.

There is not a word "enough" to describe the sickening feeling I get for this. "Horrific," which I have used in my own world, isn't even enough. Slate posted video with Chris Leinonen's mother who was still awaiting the news on her son earlier today: was he hurt? injured? or elsewhere with a dead phone, unable to connect?  On the original Slate post on Facebook that I saw, a few people were slandering this mom and Slate for theatrics. ??!! Really?!? Anyone who is a parent, anyone who has the wherewithal to put themselves in another person's shoes would never EVER say such an idiotic thing. What is wrong with people in this nation?!!?

Add in, I predicted to my husband that people would start coming out saying its Obama's fault. An hour later, true to point, I saw on Twitter that Trump thought Obama should resign on this. Because hate crimes only happen on certain party's watch!?! No. Hate is hate. And unfortunately these mass slayings have been happening more and more, not just over the last 7 years. A trend over the last 20+ years. All parties considered. All partied connected. All parties implicated. It's not just a "party" thing or a "Democrat" thing. It's a sad thing that is completely out of control due to assault weapons, mental illness, and more. We need to come together in this pain. For the 50 who died tragically due to one person's evil and the 50+ who are injured. Pointing fingers, name calling and more are pointless and get us nowhere.

There are so many who are saddened here by the events and the new reality in their personal lives.  When, in the midst of tragedy, will be the turning point?!

To visit the GoFundMe page to donate & help today's tragedy, click here.

Video from; Images from; Pulse ribbon:; Meme from

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Learning Through The Launch Cycle

'Tis the season of graduations... I've lived through a few of my own this week!  Between hearing the speeches of my many 5th grade students, and feeling the pride watching my own daughter walk across her 8th grade stage, graduation reflection is all over my mind:

Students are launching into that next step in their journey. Thinking about it, you can almost envision the Life Launch Cycle, as students jump through the hoops of growth and graduation, making their way through all the important milestones:  Kindergarten graduation, 5th grade graduation, 8th grade graduation, high school graduation, college commencement, to weddings, parenthood, and then their kid's own personal achievements.  And the circle continues on.

Since life certainly seems to have a synchronicity, it seems just the right time to happen upon The Launch Cycle, a book by John Spencer and AJ Juliani about the Design Cycle in the K-12 classroom.  On their website on the Books & Resource Tab, they have other videos like the one below, which are tied to chapters of the book.
"Something happens in students when they define themselves as makers and inventors and creators. They discover powerful skills-problem-solving, critical thinking, and imagination-that will help them shape the world's future ... our future." ~From The Launch Cycle Website

For some great ways to "launch" into some of your own design projects (or to fill that summer slump of bored kids in your own house), check out the Global Day of Design's Website.  (As an aside, this year's Global Day of Design was April 26, 2016.  Stay tuned as next year's may very well next April!)

And "circling back" to graduation... isn't that what graduation is all about?  We go through life in a design cycle, coming to one end, which leads to a new beginning.  The proverbial "When one door closes, another one (or a window) opens." We go through personal design and redesign all the time.

Life IS the ultimate design process.

Video from; "LAUNCH" cycle image from; grad cap pic from