Thursday, October 27, 2016

Being "THAT" Mom

My kids quarter grade report cards came in earlier this month. I was very happy with their grades but was shocked to see that my oldest daughter's lowest grade was in Art. It's weird because it is an art class and should be a fairly easy grade and my daughter LOVES art. Of course I asked her why, she told me her the class was boring and she didn't like it. Her friends in class were backing up her story.

Now, not that I don't believe my daughter, but I needed both sides of the story, so I set up a day with the teacher to sit on on the class. After sitting there for the 2 hour class I had to agree with the kids, the class was SO BORING!

For the first hour and a half was spent on 2 short videos and filling in a worksheet. They watched each video twice through. I have to admit, it was 1st period and I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open. As I sat there I took notes, notes for the big parenting lecture I was going to give my daughter.

The bottom line was that, yes the class was boring, yes there are much more interactive and fun way to teach art, but tough cookies. Not everything in life is going to be fun and exciting. Not everything in life will be catered to her likes and interests. The class topic was color as a element of art. The teacher was teaching on the subject so there was no grounds for me to complain to the school.

This was a life lesson for my junio higher, but I do hope that the next time she takes art the teacher is fun and creative. Or even better, if she grows up to be a teacher she is fun and creative.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How I let my team "SLACK" off!

My office now minimally deals in dreaded emails with overflowing inboxes and missed assignments. Slack is a team FREE communication tool that revolutionized how we do business day-to-day. There's quite a handful of reasons to use slack (available on mobile devices and desktops), and here are some of my favorites:

#1. Say no to long emails: Slack is much like the old school AOL IM model in nature only it's organized by channels and topics and is much cooler than the static AOL IM. Everything you need to discuss with team members in organized in open or private groups with one or more team members. You can also share files in channels which is a great way to share/store important documents. I no longer comb through email search results to find that one email I needed or to remember something essential.

#2 Reminders: In Slack you're able to use simple "coding" commands to program different functions. My fav. it the reminder function. The system programs reminders, do not disturb settings, and so much more. The reminder tool (quick command /remind) keeps me organized in a way that helps this CEO keep her team accountable.

#3. Organized chaos: important attachments live in one simple place organized in the most appropriate channel using the pin or star feature. Easily pin or star a file or even a conversation to later find what you need without scouring through old emails. 

#4. Mobile-friendly app: Slack has the most effective mobile interface I've ever used.  The desktop and mobile app are identical, fast, and straightforward enough to remain plugged in while on the go. This tool makes working remotely a breeze.

#5. Other useful apps can be easily integrated to work well within Slack. My team, for instance, creates spreadsheets using Airtable (another amazing tool) and changes made there get automatically synched on Slack to notify the team a.k.a team members on a channel based on a topic.

Costs? Slack offers 4 pricing options, but we’ve been on the free plan and loving it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

My oldest daughter cannot get enough of graphic novels. Her favorite author is Raina Telgemeier. Miss Telgemeier has a great bibliography of some really fun and thought provoking books. Of course my kid has all of them. When we found out that she would be releasing a new book in September we didn't just order it, we PRE-ORDERED it.

When the book finally arrived my daughter devoured it in just a few hours. After she read it a few more times she left it on my bedside. That is the sign that she wanted me to read it.

I settled in and I was pleasantly surprised at the plot of the story.


Yup I was completely shocked to find that the story revolves around one of my favorite holidays. 2 young sisters move to a new town near the coast. This town just happens to be the perfect place for ghosts to meet.

As the girls and their new friends deal with trying to get their heads around mortality they learn all about the beautiful traditions of Dia de los Muertos.

I highly recommend this book for anyone! The images are gorgeous and the story is heartwarming.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fun and Easy Halloween Treats

Chocolate and pretzels are just a sure fire winning combination! It's one of my favorite because it combnines the classic sweet and salty. And I was surprised how super easy it is to make at home!

Your basic ingredients are...

  • melting chocolate (you can find it at craft stores in all kinds of colors)
  • pretzels
  • wax paper
  • a fork
And the basic recipe is...
  • Melt chocolate per instructions on the bag.
  • Dip pretzels in the melted chocolate
  • Use a fork to remove pretzel from chocolate and place on wax paper
  • Chill
There are some great way to personalize and turn this simple recipe into something for any holiday or occassion. 

Make cute little jack-o-lantern ones by using orange melting chocolate and adding a green M&M as a stem, Apply when the chocolate is still wet! 

Turn your pretzel treat into a zombie or alien. Use white or even green melting chocolate to cover the pretzel. Then after you placed it onto the wax paper, fill the holes in with different colors for the eyes. You can even add different color sprinkles or candy eyeballs!

These fun treats are sure to go fast. Like scarey fast! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Chinese Tents of Love

They sound like something a couple would rent for a romantic getaway.  They are so not that.

In China these "Tents of Love" are starting to show up on university campuses. And no they are not for students. They are for parents.

Yes the parents. As a way to help students and parents transition to living away for the first time, colleges are allowing parents to stay on campus, in a tent so they can be near by. Is this the ultimate in helicopter parenting?

I remember when I left home for university. This was the first time I was moving away from home. I went to UCSB and my parents drove up in my Dad's truck and I drove my little white Dodge Neon. I remember singing "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks. It just felt right.

We moved all my stuff in and by the later afternoon my parents said "later" and drove home. There was hugs, kisses, advice given but they left. No part of them wanted to stay in a tent in the parking lot and I didn't want them to,

So why is this idea of "tents of love" popping up all over China? One theory is that thanks to laws that limit the number of children families can have at 1 it's harder for parents to let go. And because they are growing up as only children it's harder for students to let go!

As a college student would you have wanted your parents to stay on campus for a few days? As a parent would you sleep in a tent in the gym when your child goes to college?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kindergarten Blues: Embracing Homework

My almost five year old began transitional kindergarten wanting nothing to do with homework...

A few things that worked for us to turn this attitude around:

• Pick a usual spot to do work and keep work - this spot they may dread for a little while but before you know it they independently gravitate to this space at homework time. It helps to pick the same time of day to do homework daily.
• Have a cooperative older child set the example - the key here is having an independent child work in front of the child and not distract the apprehensive little one.
• Celebrate even the smallest wins - my husband would chant excitedly after all small victories. He'd say "you got this" and suddenly my little one would say to me "don't help me mom... I got this!"

Those tips seem simple enough and yet they may not work right away.

Keep in mind, a child will be frazzled if you are. The most important thing here is to keep your cool and stay patient even when you find yourself frustrated by homework woes.  It is most critical  that they enjoy homework time eventually and this will happen at whatever speed works best for them. Plus, you don't want to create a mood of resistance for homteurk year after year based on how the time was set early on!