Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On the Road Again....Holiday Style

Back in the day, flying solo, I used to adore the space in-flight, on plane, 
between here and there.  Point A and Point B.   Destination & Arrival. 

It was a no-man's land where time sort of stands still... especially if you are traveling between time zones.  Some peaceful solo time.  Don't talk to me mid-flight: this is my time!  On paper, time even seems to cease to exist, because sometimes you arrive, in that other time zone, at a time that just reasonably doesn't make sense (due to the time zones!).  At the very least, it's the perfect time for reflection.  And possibly even a nap!  (Anyone who knows me knows I love a good nap!)


At this point in life with 2 kids, a spousal unit, and two dogs, the mode of transportation is a four-wheeled, non-flying vehicle... largely due to stuff to schlep, Christmas gifts to give, and the expense.  (Though thankfully, we are at least able to locally offload the pups!) 

Now that the jaunt is the highway versus the flyway, the path is 12-14 hours on the road to get from Point B to my old homeland of Point A. 

Point A is my alpha home of days-gone-by, where you remember the original nuclear family where you were 8 or 12... despite the fact that you are now 40-&-change.

Yes, there is still reflection time trucking along in the driver's seat & also while "riding shotgun." Moreso with Papa Bear's book on tape, and the teenage and tweenage Bears all headphoned-&-hooked-into their electronic games and movies.


With New Year's ahead, thoughts of "one word," holiday hopes, annual reflections, and future goals, there certainly enough to think about. And, half a nation of countryside to admire. Sparse in its no-snow winter wonderland, still lovely in its rolling changes across the miles. 

It's nice to see what life looks like outside your typical daily circle of scenes. Reason #347 why travel opens your eyes and helps you see the vastness of what's out there. Even if it's a road you have traveled once before, to a place you once lived, it is still different for seeing it with new and current eyes. I have never seen it all in this light, the light I am seeing it in today, at this age I am at now, with the vision and wisdom (or perhaps lack there of) that I am at now.

Reminds me a bit of lines in two songs:

Sheryl Crow's song "Every Day is a Winding Road" 

"These are the days when anything goes...

Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine."



The Beatles: "Long & Winding Road."

"The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear.
I've seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door."




Makes you curious where you own road will wind and take you for 2015. 
May it take you to new places, old places, memories in your heart and mind, exciting new adventures ahead, and places of reflection along the way.




Song lyrics from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/sherylcrow/everydayisawindingroad.html and http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/thelongandwindingroad.html;  Song covers from  http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Winding-Road-Sheryl-Crow/dp/B00AYNDM80/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1419986670&sr=8-4&keywords=sheryl+crow+everyday+is+a+winding+road and http://www.amazon.com/Long-Winding-Road-Beatles-Story/dp/B00005YA92/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1419985960&sr=8-10&keywords=beatles+long+and+winding+road
All other photos from my roadside, carside camera.









Sunday, December 28, 2014

Battling Food Overload from Christmas into the New Year

Cookies with sprinkles
Cookies without sprinkles
Chocolate bits, bites, and bars
Candy canes, cupcakes, pies, & pastries
Fudge, feasts, festivities, and frenzies

The further into the holiday season, the more packages you unwrap... inevitably, the more pounds you can pack on.

Last December (the 20th, 2013) the Guardian came out with the post "How Much Weight Will I Gain at Christmas and How Long Will it Take to Lose It?"  Depending, you may still be wrestling with last Christmas' holiday weight gain, still attempting to lose THAT bad boy, while successfully piling on this year.   Yes, the seasons are rich in many ways (with some of the wealth being rather unforgiving!)

With New Year's Resolutions on the horizon (& weight loss always being a biggie in that department), perhaps your goals include being healthier, cutting a few calories, or shedding some of those seasonal pounds. If that's the case, these health links may be for you.

At the very least, they will shed light on some of your favorite sweet treats, and some healthier habits.

Your Teen's Brain on High Fructose Corn Syrup

John Oliver's Takedown of the Sugar Industry is Pretty Sweet
Love me some John Oliver!

Berkley Versus Big Soda
In the category of "Must See TV. (Let's face it--they all are!

This is what a More Sustainable American Food System Looks Like

How Much Sugar People Eat Around the World


And in an attempt for a healthier new year, here are some thing to look into eliminating....

10 Toxic Products No One Needs
From Vinyl shower curtains to oil based paints, to bottled water, pesticides & more!

Styrene Officially Linked to Cancer: 4 Things to Ditch Now
Best plan: ditch out Styrofoam plates, cups, takeout containers (all of which especially so if they hold the hot stuff) and #6 Plastics (that don't necessarily look like Styrofoam).

It's a Wrap! A Non-Toxic Substitute for Plastic Wrap, That Is
An oldie from the summer, but a nice alternative to use instead for food storage & something to keep an eye open for!


Images from our kitchen this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Joy to the World This 2014 Holiday Season

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Customize your own digital greeting card
Created by me for Christmas 2014, GTG Style 

Monday, December 22, 2014

An Ode to Winter Solstice 2014


The winter solstice brings....
Mystery 
Delight
Darkness
Turning points
Season change
Celebrations of nature

In thinking about this year's December 21st Winter Solstice, I felt inspired to write a tributary ode:

Smallest smidgeon of daylight
Offering the turning point and official start to the winter,
Leading us into the longest day of  darkness.
Sacred seasonal celebrations honoring the circular nature of nature.
Tagged also as Yule, Midwinter, Longest Night, the Winter Solstice
Includes rituals, festivals, & celebrations such as the Stonehenge sunrise gatherings.
Coming from the Latin words of sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), the sun's path (while
Equatorially distant) seems to stand still this day before reversing.

This Winter Solstice & the season ahead, may you be filled with the beauty of nature, the crispness of winter, and...
Solitude & Silence
Optimism & Openness
Love & Laughter
Sincerity & Simplicity 
Thankfulness & Thoughtfulness
Innocence & Intelligence
Creativity & Curiosity
Energy & Effervescence 


Images:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas is A-Coming, Bow Box, Reused Ribbons, & More!

On the 9th Day of Christmas Blogging....

Today, we had one of our first adventures in gift giving and receiving. Family fun & festivities in front of the lighted tree....after full family photos with 16 people!  Fully day indeed!  (And even relatively pain-free!)

A day of gifts...a day of memories.  Part of my long-ago family tradition, as far back as I remember, always included the "bow box" (most of which was reused), the box of tissue paper (most of which was reused), and the box of gift bags.  Yes, you guessed it, most of it reused.  That tradition continues, in a nicely-wrapped box so it can live under my tree, at the wrapping ready.  Decorated gift boxes, bags, and tissue paper were heavily used on our side of the gift giving for the festivities of today.

But what do you expect from an eco-warrior?!



It was in the memory of my Christmas Pasts and Christmas Present that this picture of percentages spoke to me.  I saw it first on a Story of Stuff's Facebook post that showed up on my news feed.  They attributed the image and stats to PLAN:  The Post Landfill Action Network's FB page.  They in turn attributed the stats to EcoATM.  All great FB follows, if you are looking for some!

So the season is upon us and in full swing.  May you be in the 52%...the 17% or even the ├╝ber20%.  No matter what....may you be happy, healthy, and do what you can to carve out a sustainable holiday season! 




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

National Tree! Christmas Tree! Coding All the Way

A week before Christmas Eve, as I'm watching a recording of the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree, I'm in a singing mood....I think you know the tune (with a touch a variation):

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
To know tech coding is so cool.
O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree!
These skills are such a current tool.
Not only reading & writing here,
Let's also code computers this school year!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
To know tech coding is so dear!


What I've discovered is this: I'm not only a sap for a good Christmas show, but you totally have me if you throw in an educational component. Especially one with a 21st century skill of creativity, critical thinking, and computer coding! Google's Made W/Code has done an excellent job of pairing with the National Park Service this year with the televised lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Their goal: to help bring girls into the beauty, power, & importance of coding & computer programming. Just check out this video:



To watch the lighting of the National Christmas Tree (which happened December 4th), click here.

To see the state/territory ornaments on the National Pathway of Peace, check out this link..

Click here for Made With Code projects (including the ability to code your choice tree on the Pathway of Peace).  In just playing around, I discovered that I really & truly programmed the Florida state tree for December 22nd at 7:55 pm.  I also used code to make the little green avatar guy below.


For Made With Code Mentor videos, click this link. (Go Girl Power!).  Or, click here for the Code Makers.  (Again, all girls!)

And by all means, don't miss the Resources!

And whatever you do...don't forget to go code the Christmas Tree!!
Then sing it with me (to the tune of "Jingle Bells"):

National Trees, National Trees,
Coding all the lights.
Oh! What fun it is to make
A tree that's quite a sight!
National Trees, National Trees, 
Coding all the lights.
Oh what fun it is to make
A program to delight!




Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XenuKouUHM; 
Song parodies & lyrics:  my own invention!
Coding creations made using the https://holidays.madewithcode.com/ website, and saved after creating!

Monday, December 15, 2014

16 Holiday Life Hacks

John Green is one of my new all-time favorites.  Here's his "16 Holiday Life Hacks" from his Mental Floss.  Many of which are quite eco-friendly, putting the 3R's to heavy use!




Video from http://youtu.be/eNHCJOQsN4A

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Cornucopia of Commentary on Climate Change

A collection.
A bounty. 
An abundance. 
A cornucopia!

Most certainly, this is it! At least on the subject of Climate Change. In my new job stockpiling of articles these last few months, a major wealth of my finds were on this still-controversial topic. Why it's even still a question, is beyond me. But, perhaps after this wealth, it might open some still-shut/blind eyes.

Debating A Climate Denier:  It's OK to Be Smart
The place to start, no doubt, is here: From PBS Digital Studios' "It's OK to Be Smart" Series: "Climate Science: What You Need to Know".


8 Climate Change Clues for Kids
This article highlights the website:  A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change.  "Student's Guide" is a great student site that encourages students to both think like a scientist, get facts, and also be part of the solution!

10 Failed Climate Change Denial Arguments
This features another great video, this time from Hank Green (brother of John Green--author of "Fault in Our Stars" and the sarcastic Crash Course History videos).  With John Green's sarcasm (family trait, obviously), Hank fights out all of those "typical" arguments that come up in the climate change "debate"


Will Climate Change Make Men Extinct?
An interesting look at fertility and rising global temperatures.

A Warmer Planet Means Boozier Wines.  Trust us, That's Bad
Like species of animals that could become extinct, so too could certain varietals of vino.

Red States More Likely to Be Burned By Climate Change
The Breadbasket of America might be one of the hardest hits, regardless of politics and whether or not the politicians there believe in climate change or not.

Emma Thompson Just Won Our Hearts With Some Straight Talk on Climate Change
It's always good seeing a famous face speak from her heart on issues of importance.

Screenshot from PBS Digital Studios' "It's OK to Be Smart" Series:
 "Climate Science: What You Need to Know"
.
Jon Steward Reminds Us Its Climate Change That'll Kill Us, Not Ebola or ISIS
Political satire always brings smiles.

This Graphic Novelist Tells the True Story of Climate Change
The story of "Climate Changed:  A Personal Journey Through the Science" by Philippe Squarzoni.

Climate Change Threatens National Security, Pentagon Says
The ills and effects of climate change become "threat multipliers" and "its impacts do not respect national borders."

Paul Ryan Thinks Humans Might Not Be The Cause of Climate Change
Huffington Post Live has a good time with this one.

They Took a Camera to a Remote Area in Greenland & What They Recorded is Simply Terrifying
Glacier watching, and watching the glacier calving.

Robert Reich on the Importance of Putting a Price on Carbon
Makes sense:  hit companies where it counts!  The wallet!


Teaching Kids about Climate Change?  Read them a Classic Story
A list of some great family favorites that put the importance of the environment at their heart

The Inventors of a 'Revolutionary' Climate Solution Just Won a Nobel Prize
Amazing what a Clean LED light can do!

If These 35,000 Walruses Can't Convince You Climate Change is Real, I Don't Know What to Tell You   This is what a crowded house looks like!

Antarctic Ice Melt Causes Small Shift in Gravity
Small, but there. Noticeable. Potentially problematic over time.

Can Farmers Outsmart Climate Change?
Climate Smart Agriculture could be a plan for the future.

How Climate resilient schools Serve Students & Communities
A peek at how green-focused STEM schools can make plans for a more sustainable future

12 Views of a Warming World
Proof indeed that a picture speaks 1000 words!

This Map Shows How Climate Change is Screwing Over Your Immediate Area
Program in your location to see how significant the effect and rise of climate change is over the last century.




Santa/North Pole image from http://www.azhaguboomi.org/Cartoons.html
Video from http://youtu.be/ffjIyms1BX4
Climate denier pic, screenshot from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffjIyms1BX4
Invalid Arguments: Climate Change video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HF9LNuH3IpU
Robert Reich video from http://vimeo.com/105254387
Infographic from http://newint.org/features/2012/05/14/451-26-infographic-72ppi-2000x1414b.jpg

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nurture Yourself By Getting Out More In Nature

As my quest for the #12BloggerDays of Christmas continues, thoughts du jour turn outside. Maybe because one of my crazy canines is barking his bloody head off in a total attempt to show us how "indoor cagey" he feels.  Clearly, an outdoor adventure needs to come...and probably soon!

As the weather turns chillier, we all find ourselves indoors more.  Layers and bundles are needed. That requires effort!  In the Christmas Chaos, maybe time is the key missing feature.  Add in that earlier sunset each night as we careen closer and closer to the week-away winter solstice.  At least after that, the days start getting longer!  

With that in mind, here is a list of the nature-centric finds I've stockpiled the last few weeks:

The Last Generation of Kids that Played Outside
This has got to be one of the most interesting articles I've read in a long time.  Especially as both an environmental and a technology teacher, the base of this article is about how all our current-day tech geniuses (who created the tech gizmos and gadgets of today) may possibly have gotten all that creativity from playing outside as kids, observing how nature works, and putting that natural "education" into creative practice.  With all our indoor tech-head kids these days, what will that mean for the future of innovation and creation?  A superb article in the Huffington Post by Nate Hanson! Definitely, food for thought!

The movie was just too good and needed to be shared here:


  1. You'll burn more calories.
  2. You'll strengthen your heart.
  3. You'll drink more water.
  4. You'll build a tolerance for the freezing elements.
  5. You'll remember the importance of warm-up and cool-down routines.
  6. You'll get a dose of Vitamin D
  7. You'll feel happier and more energized.
The Natural Teacher:  10 Ways You Can Add Vitamin N to Your Classroom & Beyond
From Children & Nature Network guru Richard Louv (who coined the Vitamin N: Nature & Nature Deficit Disorder), 10 practical ways to help create more environmentally connected kids.

Nature Connection Will Be the Next Big Human Trend
More commentary in this Huffington Post article by Daniel Crockett on what's amiss amongst us, in this hurried, frenzied, tech-connected yet isolated world in which we live in. The answer:  finding the wild & the wide open spaces.  Only through that connection to nature can we truly be connected.

Thinking Outside the Lucite Box: A Case for Experiential Education
Ben Klasky's Huffington Post article about how getting dirty and outside the traditional classroom leads to real learning!

All Children Need Nature:  12 Questions About Equity & Capacity
Richard Louv over at Children & Nature Network is at it again, with 12 poignant questions that remind us that when it comes to nature none of these matter:  gender, ethnicity, & socio-economic status.

The Uncommon Core:  Schools, Wilderness, & Supporting the Natural Resilience of Young People
Posted by Mark Phillips on the Children & Nature Network, His final quote sums it up:  "There is something about being in the woods, encountering wildlife, dealing with ice on a mountain climb, feeling rain on a trek through new territories, that can be life changing. Let’s make sure we give our kids that opportunity."

The iNaturalist App
Yes, there's an app for that!  By recording your natural findings, you can become a citizen scientist, and your data will help connect you to other naturalists.

32 Magic Pictures of Kids Playing Around the World
32 amazing pictures collected by Hugo Moreno showing play in action across the globe!  Striking;  the simplicity of the tools and the toys, and the smiles on the faces!!  Most certainly will bring one to your face as well!  My favorite (though there were many) was this one from Indonesia.

Amazing Map Shows Every Tree in the United States
From the folks over at Inhabit, check out the map created from Woods Hole Research Center in conjunction with US leaders in forestry & geology.  It's a pretty cool map that shows the tree density in the United States.


Quote picture from http://piratesstilly.com/2014/03/22/nature-as-teacher-quote-series-3/
Video from http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/383642/nature-deficit-disorder/,
Richard Louv quote pic from http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/75/d9/e2/75d9e232499be8ec8947ba7fec874403.jpg
Winter pic from http://intermountainhealthcare.org/~/media/Images/Modules/Blog/Posts/2013/1/EnoughVitaminD.jpg?h=407&mw=612&w=612
Fishing picture from http://www.upsocl.com/mundo/32-magicas-fotografias-de-ninos-jugando-alrededor-del-mundo/

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

One Word: What's Yours?

Earlier in the year, I saw the book "One Word that Will Change Your Life" by Dan Britton.  I bought it for a young friend of mine moving from one stage in her life to the next.  True confessions:  I will admit--I got wrapped in and did some reading before I did some gifting.

It's an interesting concept.  What one word will you choose to define your goals and direct the year ahead?  Well, I must admit:  I don't remember what word I choose.  But, in looking at the year in retrospect, I have determined what my word was:  Change.  2014 brought a lot of change for my family, in terms of the closing of a beloved school, new jobs, new roles within my career, new schools for my children, new friends, and old friends moving away to new jobs or new locales.  Change!


With only a few more weeks left of 2014, and here, midst my #12BloggerDays personal challenge, I still see "change" at play.  Especially midst these very busy days of holiday prep and planning.  I noticed it in the extra long bedtime hugs my kids gave me--showing me some of my timings of things (including making time for writing, and homeworking, and laundry & other "home" work) might also still need some tweaking and changing.  I'm not sure what my 2015 word will be, but I still have those weeks to work on even more "change."


If you are knee-deep in thinking of your "one word," here are some resources from their website.  A good thing to take a peek at it this NBC interview with author Dan Britton's friend Phillip Kelley.  What is your "one word" for either this year, or the next one ahead?


Snowy image from my digital Christmas card created using "Smilebox" and inserting the above quote.  Red image created for my digital Christmas Card, using the iPad app "Scrap It:  Christmas HD"  Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_XtL91XSVE

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hour of Code 2014

5-Reasons-to-Teach-Kids-to-Code-Infographic
Infographic from
http://aesgators.org/academics/technology
/
This week (December 8th--14th, 2014) is Computer Science Education Week. [For anyone paying attention, I wrote about it last year.]

A major part of that is computer coding, and the "Hour of Code" (over at code.org) is heavily promoting that anyone can learn.  They've been running on on-growing counter of the number of people who have tried coding on the Hour of Code site, as well as a running tally of the number of lines of code written.  Both numbers are astronomical: and growing!

To the left is a super infographic that shows the reasons it's important to teach kids coding.  Of course, it came in either super-sized or teensy, so click on it or this link to see a full size, readable version!

Hour of Code has many resources for Students & Teachers alike, including the statistics image below from last year's Hour of Code.

Additionally, they have a mix of user-friendly tutorials, including some very iconic & familiar ones with Angry Birds, Plants versus Zombies, and even Elsa & Anna from "Frozen."  Some are more complicated than others, but the Hour of Code folks advertise that anyone from 4--104 can do it!  We'll be doing it in Kindergarten Technology this week!



For another wealth of resources, be sure to check out Michelle Green's Hour of Code post, including a Symbaloo webmix of a boatload of coding links.

Stats from http://code.org/images/fit-960/stats-hoc-2013.jpg


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas: BlogStyle

The merriment of Thanksgiving is now officially behind us. So is Black Friday, if that's your thing. I used part of my holiday weekend to get my house in order, some "decking of the halls" in order...and some life in order. With starting a new job this past August, it seems there's a lot of that "order" to be "re-ordering" as I learn new curriculums, new school cultures, new people, and new job expectations. Even more when my own kids started new at this school as well.

Given that, one of the area of "dis-order" this fall has been my blog here.  Green Team Gazette.  It seems to be the last place I get, further down on my priority list than I want it to be. I haven't felt as focused as I'd like, and I have a stockpile of topics just building up, patiently waiting for me to get there... all the while my own patience is rearing its ugly head!

So the best way to combat that is to build a plan and find that focus. Which all got me thinking of Christmas; namely, the twelve days of Christmas.

What if I aspired to write the 12 blog posts of Christmas? GTG style: a dash of self-reflection, a heavy dose of environmental finds and facts, a touch of EdTech, a glimmer of the Christmas seasons, and a bit of nature & health factored in. #12BloggerDays.

In the course of a month, it's a pretty hearty goal. 12 posts, here in this 12th month, before we hit 2015.  This is really a hefty push--especially given the nature of December. If this is a goal that I decide to take on, that means I'll be challenging myself to a post every 2-3 days (given I push it to New Year's Eve).

But... if I try to revolve around he number 12--much like months, hours in the am, hours in the pm, eggs in the dozen, inches in a foot, jurors on a jury, animals on the Chinese calendar, or even signs in the zodiac--then maybe that will help me renew my own focus in my own blogosphere.  What do they say:

And luckily, since I make my own rules, this serves as #1 in my 12.

Only 11 more to go!




I challenge you this month to do 12 things that are important to you. 
I would love to hear about it.



Images from:  Home decorated pics from my camera; 12 Days of Christmas from http://blissfullyorganiccoop.org/12-days-of-christmas-giveaways/Lightbulb pic: http://blog.outsourcing-partners.com/2013/09/16-inspirational-quotes-for-the-entrepreneurs/12 Days of Blogging from my iPad, a creation using the Scrap It app.