Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Photos 12: Sweet Sixteen

Happy Friday, everyone, and Happy Sweet Sixteen, Cardinal Fans! 

I don't think I'm alone in saying that this day took forever to get here. It probably didn't help that I had the countdown going for Spring Break and Louisville basketball; but at any rate, we finally made it.

The anxiousness has set in. It's excruciating & exhilarating all at once to cheer on my Cards during March Madness and I do not want it to end. I love this team and I want nothing short of the National Championship for them. 

I've thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Louisville's postseason, primarily because they've been winning by such large margins. But I don't think for one minute that they are untouchable and am grateful for the fortune this team has found on their Road to the Final Four. 

Keep it up, fellas. Beat Oregon. GO CARDS!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Teaching With Technology

I don't often use my blog for teacher talk, but I recently learned about two programs too great not to share. If you aren't already using Edmodo & Subtext in your classroom, you're gonna want to read on.

After hearing that a few of the teachers in my school were using Edmodo, I wanted to see what it was all about. At first glance, it reminded me of a Facebook page. 

But further investigation showed me what a great (and FREE) communication tool Edmodo really is. I've just recently started using it with my class, and I know I've only scratched the surface of possibilities.

To set my class up, I assigned each student a username & password, and created a Group. Edmodo gave me a Group Code, which I used to "invite" each of my students. Easy as that. Edmodo also assigned each of my students a Parent Code, which allows parents to see what their students are writing. 

You know my third graders were pumped when I took them to the computer lab to first introduce it! I asked them to sign a pledge promising to use our Edmodo page with kind words to communicate about school-related topics only; they are fully aware that should they break this pledge, their Edmodo use will be suspended. 
The great thing about Edmodo is that students can only post to our class page or directly to me. They cannot send separate messages to one another, which subsided my fears of inappropriate use or cyber-bullying. 

Subtext is a great extension of our classroom. I've used it to post homework, daily reminders, videos, and discussion questions. You can create quizzes, take polls, use apps and much more! Speaking of apps, you've got to check out the Subtext app.
You can download the Subtext app for free on your handheld devices, or you can download it free through Edmodo. I would recommend the latter if you're going to use Edmodo because you can sync your class' Group easily with the Subtext. 

Subtext allows you to download e-books (some that are free), as well as to turn any online text into an e-book for free! When I was planning a lesson on idioms, I Googled "idioms for kids" and found an article that I liked. I saved it to Subtext and this wonderful little app turned it into an e-book.

What's really cool, is that it will read any of the books or documents you download out loud to the children! Furthermore, once you sync your class via Edmodo, Subtext allows you and your students to have a virtual discussion about what they are reading. They can highlight a section and comment on it or pose a question about it to their classmates, as I did above. They can also highlight a word and Google its meaning if they're unsure. And you know the kids love getting to choose from six different highlighter colors (their teacher does too). This app is seriously amazing!

Again, I've only just begun to discover what these awesome technology tools can do, so if you have any tips or pointers about Edmodo or Subtext, please leave a comment. Happy teaching, y'all!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Friday Photos 11: We Are The Champions

Cue Queen:

By now you already know that the Louisville Cardinals won the Big East Championship. I've watched the game 5 times now and I still can't believe it. Down by as much as 16, the Cardinals dominated the Orange in the 2nd half to win their 3rd Big East Championship. 

Therefore, this week's Friday Photos are dedicated to my Champion Cards. Here are some of my favorite pics from folks lucky enough to be in NYC for the big night.

These Champions aren't done yet, though. With a 31 point margin of victory in their first game of the NCAA Tournament, the overall #1 seeded Cardinal team is just getting started. Here's to another Championship in 5 more games. Go Cards!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 20

Yes, this year March 20 is the first official day of Spring. But it also marks the birthday of a very special person. 

24 years ago, I woke up to find both of my parents sitting in the living room, which was odd because normally my dad would have been at work and my mom would have been getting our breakfast ready before taking me to school. My second grade self wondered just what was going on. "It's time for Mom to have the baby," Dad explained. I wanted to go with them, but they said I needed to go to school. 

When I got in my classroom, I told my teacher & classmates all about how my mom was at the hospital and that I would have a new baby brother or sister when I got home. I was hoping for a sister. 

My aunt picked me up from school, and not only were there McDonald's cheeseburgers waiting for me at home, but so too was the news that I officially had a new baby sister. Needless to say, it was a pretty exciting day.

My parents decided to name her Jillian, but we called her Jill. "Now we have Jack & Jill," my mom said.

I don't remember going to see her in the hospital, but I do remember that once she was home with us, I would try to wake her up whenever she was napping because I wanted to play with her.

I remember loving to pick out matching outfits for her to wear, only to have to bribe her with candy to wear them because she would have rather worn her red baseball cleats and basketball shorts.

I remember when she cut a chunk out of her hair because she didn't want anyone to brush the knot out of it...

...and when she did a dance solo at my cousin's wedding to Will Smith's "Miami". It was epic.

I remember those bangs...

...and when she came to visit me in the dorms...

...and the year she graduated 8th grade, Micah graduated high school, and I graduated college...

...and helping her get ready for prom...

...and all our trips to the lake...

...and taking her out for her 21st birthday. She was "so full of liquid and so happy."

I remember how much fun we had as bridesmaids in Micah & Kate's wedding...

...and how we found the pickles...

...and when she graduated from our alma mater.

I remember many games spent cheering for opposite teams...

...and fighting over who got to change our niece's diaper...

...and I remember when Snooki needed some ketchup on Halloween.

I don't remember much before March 20, 1989. But I sure am grateful for all that has happened after it. And I look forward to all that will happen for "Jack & Jill" in the many years to come.

Happy birthday, Lil' Sis! Love you!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Photos 10: Big East Champs

I've been hearing it all week on ESPN: It's the end of an era. The Big East Conference, as we know it, will be no more after this season. The non-football schools are going their own way, and taking the Big East name with them. 

It's been a fun ride, and while I'm sure the teams will find success in their new homes, there's no doubt they'll miss the tradition of the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden. 

So on this Friday, the eve of the final Big East Championship that my Louisville Cardinals will (hopefully) be a part of, I'd like to give a shout out to the teams who brought home the trophy.

Regular Season & Tournament


Regular Season...

...and let's hope Tournament too.
Go Cards!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Photos 9: What a Difference a Year Makes

It's hard to believe that a year ago this week, we were about to find out what the little McNugget was. 

I really thought it was a boy...

But boy, was I wrong! 

I didn't waste any time picking up plenty of pink apparel. But it seemed like it took forever for her to get here!

Photo by Bella Baby

She sure was worth the wait.

And yet here we are, 7 months after her birthday and a year after the day we found out she was, in fact, a she, and time feels as though it has done nothing but fly by.

365 days ago, I knew she was a girl, but I did not realize how much joy being her aunt would bring--or how precious she would truly be. 

Photo by Kriech-Higdon Photography

What a wonderful difference a year makes.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Healthy Chocolate?

You may or may not have heard, but for the last 6 weeks I've been on a quest for a healthier me. And I'm happy to say that by following a modified Weight Watchers eating plan, I've been able to shed nearly 20 pounds! I'd also like to note that Zumba on the Wii has helped this effort as well.

Needless to say, I feel like a new woman--but I'm not done yet. I've been on the hunt for healthy recipes that also meet the needs of my palate (which really hasn't changed since I was five years old by the way). 

If you were anything like my brother, sister, and I, then you spent your childhood loving some chocolate milk. We should have bought stock in Nestle back in the day because I'm pretty sure we kept them in business with our dedication to Nesquick. Who didn't love that bunny? 

At any rate, the child in me would still love to drink chocolate milk everyday, but the (healthier) adult in me knows that I gotta rein it in a bit. So you can imagine my joy upon finding a recipe on Pinterest for natural "Nesquick". Via the "One Good Thing" blog, here's the homemade way to make chocolate milk & hot chocolate with the following natural ingredients:

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 pinch of salt

Yum-my, you guys! No more store-bought mixes for me! 

Just so you know, everything tastes better in my I heart Jim mug.

A while ago I stumbled upon this next recipe on the "Edible Perspective" blog via Pinterest. It sounded like a sweet way to get some protein so I was thinking breakfast or dessert.

1 cup Greek yogurt (I used plain--don't recommend it)
2-4 Tablespoons Hershey's Cocoa 
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons dark chocolate chips

I have to admit that this wasn't as "sweet" as I'd hoped. If you don't like Greek yogurt, then this isn't for you. I ended up adding more maple syrup in an effort to sweeten it up but it didn't really help. Had it not been for the dark chocolate chips, I wouldn't have been able to eat it. Next time I try it, I'm going to use vanilla Greek yogurt and see what adding honey does for it.

Please share any recipe suggestions that you have! Happy healthy eating, y'all!