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Friday, July 31, 2015

Fermata Fridays: July 31, 2015

Welcome to this week's installment of my weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href=""><img border="0" src="" /></a></div><br />

2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one other link to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!

The linky will be open every Friday starting at 4:00am EST and will be open for links all day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: Getting To Know You Blog Hop!

Welcome to the final stop in the GTKY blog hop! If you haven't had a chance to see all of the other posts, make sure you follow the link at the end of this post to go back to the beginning and hop through all the wonderful blogs! I am collaborating with several other music teacher bloggers to have a little online mixer! :) We are each answering some questions to introduce ourselves, and we're asking you, the reader, to answer the questions as well. We want to both give you some insight into us as teachers/bloggers (and hopefully introduce you to some awesome blogs you hadn't discovered yet), and also get to know you as colleagues. We truly want our blogs to be places to share ideas and collaborate- we get so few chances to talk to others in our profession when we are often the only music teacher in our building(s)! 

OK, so I'm going to answer three questions to introduce myself, and then ask you to answer the final question (highlighted) in the comments below. The best part is, if you answer the questions on each of the blog posts in the hop, you can enter to win a basket full of teacher goodies (see picture below- tons of awesome stuff to make Back to School a little easier!), You'll need to leave your email address in the giveaway box below before August 4, and then go through the hop and answer each of the questions on the other blogs (if you haven't already). Ready?

1. What state/region you are in?

I am currently in Connecticut. My school is a Title 1 school in an area that is somewhere between urban and suburban. I have only been here for 3 years though- I grew up mostly in Japan (with some time in Scotland, Nashville, TN, and St. Louis, MO thrown in for good measure) and spent the first 7 years of my teaching career in Seoul, South Korea. This is my first time teaching in the U.S. and it is very different but very fun! :)

2. What is your background education/experience?

I have a Bachelors in Music Education from Wheaton College in IL, and a Masters in Music Education from Boston University in MA. I am certified K-12 in all music areas, but I have taught elementary general music for most of my teaching career. Most of my jobs have included a choir or two, one job included an orchestra, and in my current position I also teach a drumming ensemble and a step group, and while I enjoy my ensembles, my heart is in general music class. I love encouraging children to explore all aspects of music and helping them find their strengths and passions!

3. What is your favorite part of the teaching day?

It will come as no surprise to many of you that the earlier in the morning it is, the more I like it ') But yes, my favorite part of the school day is my morning duty- my job is to stand in the front lobby, just inside the one entrance to the building, and greet students as they come in. Being a morning person, I am happiest at that time of day, and I love being able to talk to students as they come in! Because we're all so busy during the school day, if I ever need to talk to a specific student about something, I usually try to catch them in the morning. I often bring down a sticky note with names of students I need to catch and what I need to talk to them about. I also like having my small ensembles perform every now and then before school in the lobby. The teachers and students love it when they come in hearing upbeat music! It's a great way to start the day :)

OK, that's it for me! Now it's your turn: What is YOUR favorite part of the teaching day? Make sure to leave your email address in the giveaway entry below, or we'll have no way of contacting you when you win! :)

Once you've left your comment on this post and entered the giveaway with your name and email, make sure you head back to the beginning of the blog hop if you haven't been through all of the posts yet. Your giveaway entry won't count unless you've commented on all of the posts, and there are a lot of other awesome teachers to meet! Click on the picture below to start back at The Yellow Brick Road and get to know Jennifer! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mommy Monday: DIY washi tape dispenser

It should come as no surprise to my faithful readers that I love washi tape. I use it to hang pictures, label things, and of course in my planner. I always admired with envy the beautiful dispensers and displays that people had for their washi tapes- they just looked so pretty and organized, and seemed to make it so much easier to find and use the tape that they had! But I just could not bring myself to spend money buying something that, realistically, is not at all necessary, and the homemade ones all involved woodwork. So I sighed at the beautiful pictures and moved on. Then one morning I pulled out one of my straws (which had come as extras with some old water bottles the girls had and are made of thick plastic) to use in my coffee and I realized they were the perfect shape to hold rolls of tape! No wooden dowels needed! And thus, my completely free and does-not-involve-any-woodworking DIY washi tape dispenser was born :)

*sigh* Isn't it beautiful?!? It makes me happy just looking at it! Let me show you how I made it- it honestly took about 10 minutes to make!

Supplies: I used two of those thick plastic straws, a piece of scrapbook paper, scissors, double-sided tape, a wooden box (that used to hold my girls' bead set that they got for Christmas), and of course, washi tape.

I was lucky to have the wooden box on hand. When I consolidated the girls' toys and organized them, I kept a couple of the original containers because they were just too nice- I just KNEW I would find a way to use them! I still have one more nice wooden box sitting in my closet waiting to be used, but I'm glad I found a use for this one! Both of them were from Melissa and Doug toys, actually- they package their things very nicely :) So before I started, I checked to make sure the straws were long enough to go across the box (they were). I could have just used the box as-is and it would look perfectly fine, but I decided to make it a little more fun with some scrapbook paper on the bottom. I laid the paper in the bottom and used the highly-scientific method of folding it over at the edge to measure where to cut.

The paper I chose didn't go all the way to the edges on the long side, but that was fine with me because I didn't want to mess with the slanted corners and I knew that part would be mostly covered by the rolls of tape anyway. Since I knew the paper wouldn't be getting much wear and tear, I took the lazy route and stuck it down with double-sided tape.

Once that was in, I needed to figure out how to place my tape on the two straws and fit them all in. What I should have done in this step (but didn't realize until later) was also make sure all of the rolls were facing the right way so that the tape would come off towards the edge of the box.

I decided to put all of the solids on one side and the patterns on the other. Those thinner, solid colored tapes are a great buy if you're wanting to start a stash, by the way- I got them here.

I stuck the straws through the rolls of tape with the ends laying across the top of the box. I had originally thought I would hot glue the straws to the box, but then I realized I wouldn't be able to take off old rolls or add new ones very easily, so I decided to use some of the washi tape to hold the straws. I was a little bit worried about the durability so I put a long strip all the way down each side of the box (it was during this process that I realized I needed to check which way each roll was facing and had to take some rolls off the straws to turn them... oops). I actually have a roll of thin tape with a wood grain look, so I used that one. The only trick was to cut the second piece long enough and put the roll back on the straw before taping it down.

Voila! Once everything was taped down, I just pulled a little piece of tape off of each roll and stuck it to the edge of the box to make it easier to see each tape and easier to grab a piece when I need it (don't you hate twirling the roll of tape round and round in your hands trying to find where the tape starts?!?). The nice thing about this particular box is that it's long enough that I have space in the middle where I can keep other supplies. See how nicely my scissors fit?

So there you go- my DIY washi tape dispenser made from stuff I had on-hand in under 10 minutes. And makes me so happy just looking at it. Do you have a stash of washi? How do you organize yours?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fermata Fridays: a music education linky party!

Welcome to the first installment of my new weekly linky party, Fermata Fridays! This is a chance for music education bloggers to share blog posts with readers and bloggers alike, so we can all mingle and learn from each other. Readers, you are going to love all of the awesome blog posts that are out there- I hope you discover some new blogs to follow and get some new inspiration for your teaching! Bloggers, make sure you read the directions carefully before linking up to make sure we keep the party fun for everyone. Thanks! :)

Here are the rules for the linky party:

1. Add the linky image to your blog post, blog sidebar, linky party roundup, or other similar location on your blog and link it back to the party. Copy and paste the code for this button, or use the image above and link to the label "Fermata Fridays".

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href=""><img border="0" src="" /></a></div><br />

2. Add up to two blog post links to the linky. The posts can be old or new (but no posts that have already been linked up to Fermata Fridays in the past), on any topic related to music teaching, but must not be primarily featuring a product. It's fine to have a link to a relevant product within a post, but that should not be the primary focus of the post. I reserve the right to delete a link that is too product-focused. If you're not sure, just ask! :)

3. Leave a thoughtful comment on at least two other links, including the one right before yours. Add #fermatafridays to your comment so bloggers know where you found them!

4. Pin at least one other link to one of your Pinterest boards.

5. Make sure you are following me on Pinterest. I will be pinning every link to the Fermata Fridays board each week.

6. Make sure you are following me on Facebook and check back next Friday- I will be featuring one of the links from the previous week's linky on my Facebook page each Friday!

The linky will be open every Friday starting at 4:00am EST and will be open for links all day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: why I listen to the radio every day

As a music teacher, people often want to know what kind of music I listen to for fun. In the past my answer was always, "nothing. I enjoy listening to silence when I'm not at work", and it was the honest truth. When you spend all day talking about music, listening to music, performing music, and basically embodying music for hundreds of children, and you are going home to listen to children's songs, sing lullabies, and chant nursery rhymes, sometimes all you want is a little palate-cleansing silence! I'm also a quiet introvert by nature, so my drives to and from work and daycare used to be completely silent. But in the last couple of years I have started listening to pop radio in the car at least once a day, and I now consider it an important part of my job. Here's why.

Connecting with students is such an important part of my job as a teacher, especially in the high-poverty area where I teach (but really, anywhere). The students learn so much more in my classroom when they feel that they have a real relationship with me, they respect me, and they feel included in the classroom community. One of the things I found when I came into my job 2 years ago was a huge chasm between what the students saw as "music class" and "music in their world", especially with my older students in 5th and 6th grade. No matter how much I tried to tell them that I was interested in the music they listened to, it didn't even register in their minds that I knew what kind of music they were hearing on their headphones every day. I had more than one conversation that went exactly like this:

me: What is your favorite thing about music?
student: I don't like music.
me: That's not true. I see you come into school with headphones on every day. What do you listen to?
student: That's not music. It's... like... rap and stuff.

It wasn't until I randomly quoted some lyrics from an R&B song in a conversation in class that students started to understand that I really did "live in their world" enough to relate to them and value their experiences with music. Students now eagerly recommend songs and artists to me all the time, and they always follow up to find out if I liked it. The two most surprising things? The students are always very aware when a song is inappropriate. They will either tell me the specific language that is in the song so I can avoid it, point me to a "clean version", or find another song by the same artist to have me listen to. And they don't mind my honesty. If I don't like a song, I tell them so and give them a reason. They still love that I listened and it actually makes them more eager to find a song that I will like!

I'm not advocating an entire departure from classical music, substituting Beyonce for Beethoven and rhymes for sonatas. But when you are versed in the music, it's amazing how often current music can pop up in lessons. My favorite tactic is to include a current song as one of several examples when we are listening for a specific musical feature (such as major/minor, syncopation, or arrangements/ variations). It is just so much fun to see their faces light up when we go from a classical symphony to a Barbershop quartet to rap! And I can practically see the light bulbs turning on. Because they know the music already, it is easier for them to focus on the particular feature we are discussing. 

I communicate to students that "their music" is my music too in subtler ways as well, like the first time I quoted the lyrics from a song. It's like having an inside joke with them whenever you can make a quick reference to a song or artist casually in conversation. This past year, I more than once belted out, "why you gotta be so ruuuuude?" to a rowdy class (if you don't know that quote, there's a good place to start!). I'm pretty sure that went over a lot better than a traditional reprimand. It got their attention without starting a conflict. 

It's easy for me to get jealous of other music teachers or feel guilty when I hear about all of the workshops and training other teachers are attending over the summer. With a very tight budget and an even tighter schedule, workshops are generally just not in the cards for me right now. But listening to the radio? I consider that free professional development that I can do every day! Don't get me wrong- I still need some quiet time in the car most days. But after a few minutes I turn on the radio and crank up the tunes- I enjoy it because I can picture the students smiling and dancing along!

Do you listen to music for pleasure? How similar is your musical experience outside of school to your students'? Do you think it's important to be familiar with the music the students enjoy outside of school? Leave a comment!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mommy Monday: potatoes with rosemary and coconut oil

One of the great things about summer vacation is that I have time to try out new recipes and experiment with my cooking. During the school year I don't have time to think about meals- it's just whatever strikes my fancy from my meal planner. Today's recipe is the result of one of those summer, "hey why don't I try putting some of that in there?" moments and I am so excited about it, you guys!!

So I have to give credit to my friend Rebekah for inspiring this recipe. She had us over for dinner several months ago and served potatoes cooked in coconut oil- something I had never tried. I nearly fell out of my chair after the first bite! I already had coconut oil at home to use on my nails or as a lotion substitute (go look it up if you don't know about the many benefits of coconut oil- the stuff is awesome!), so when the girls brought home some potatoes they had picked one day, I knew I had to try to recreate those magical potatoes!

Unfortunately I couldn't remember what other seasoning my friend had used in her potatoes, or even how much oil she had used, so I just kinda made up whatever sounded good. And yes, they were heavenly! I don't know why but the sweetness of the coconut oil is just perfect on the pan fried potatoes. I settled on rosemary because I like rosemary on my corn on the cob, and I figured that was the same kind of sweet flavor... does that make any sense? Anyway, here's the recipe. It is fast and easy (would you expect anything else from me?), so I will definitely be adding this to my school night meals from now on!

Potatoes with Rosemary and Coconut Oil
(serves 3-4 people as a side dish)

2-3 large potatoes (I used red potatoes but any kind should work)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
*adjust seasonings to taste- I eyeballed everything so these are estimates

1. Slice potatoes into thin slices (the thinner the slices, the faster they'll cook).
2. Cook all ingredients in large non-stick pan until potatoes are cooked through (5-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
3. Try not to eat them all at once!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: planner tag video!

OK, I promise I'm not going to spend all summer blabbing about my planner... but it is definitely a passion of mine and I get so excited setting mine up for the new school year over the summer! Today I'm excited to be linking up with several teachers for a planner tag. This is a great chance to get ideas for setting up and using your planner from lots of different teachers- we all have different styles and different needs, and I've enjoyed learning from everyone already! This is a pretty detailed look at the inside of my planner and how I use it. I love seeing how others use their planners in real life, so I hope you enjoy this tour of my planner!

Make sure you check out the planner tag linky below to see all of the other video tours! There are some amazing ideas linking up! And guess what? This party is open to everyone! I'd love to see your planner too, so if you'd like to join the planner tag too, just click on the picture below to see the directions. I can't wait to see all the planners! :)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mommy Monday: 4 easy (and delicious!) summer drinks to keep in your fridge

Ah, summer. OK actually I'm not a huge summer fan. I'm just not that into sweating. Or getting sand stuck in places it shouldn't. Or sunburn.

With that said, I am a fan of fun drinks, and this summer I have not one, not two, but FOUR drinks that I have been keeping stocked in my fridge for whenever the mood strikes. The best part is they are all pretty healthy, they are all super-duper easy to make, and you can make a big batch of it and keep it in the fridge for a long time (OK, so that's the one advantage summer has over winter- cold drinks can be made in big batches to last several days and hot drinks really can't).

The first one is a favorite for many: iced coffee. To make mine, I brew a full carafe (12 cups) in a drip coffee maker. I first pour some into an ice cube tray (no need to wait for it to cool- I pour it in while it's still hot) and stick that in the freezer, then add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the remaining coffee and let it cool down a bit before putting it in a pitcher to keep in the fridge. When I'm ready to drink some, I pop out some coffee cubes, and pour some cold coffee and some milk into the glass. Done!

The great thing about having coffee ice cubes is that I can add ice to my coffee without diluting the flavor. And, if I run out of coffee, I can just pour some milk straight over the coffee cubes! Plus it just looks nice.

I also have two types of cold tea in my fridge. The first is mint tea. I brew a big batch of decaf black tea with 4-5 tea bags, pour it into a pitcher once it's cool, and add some mint leaves still on the stem straight in the pitcher. I'm lucky to have some mint growing in my parent's yard nearby that I can pick whenever I need some. If you're not so lucky, you'll be happy to know that mint is very easy to grow- in fact it can often be difficult to get it to stop growing! You can buy a small plant to grow indoors, add some to your garden, or just buy a few sprigs at the grocery store. It's the perfect refreshing drink to have in the afternoon!

The second tea I have is barley tea, which is called mugicha in Japanese. Some of you may know that I grew up in Japan- I grew up drinking this all the time! The great thing is that for kids, it's a milder, non-caffeinated version of iced tea so they can feel included in the festivities. The other great thing is that it's cold brew! So I just throw a tea bag into a pitcher of cold water, stick it in the fridge, and take it out a few hours later. If you've never tried barley tea, I would encourage you to try some. Depending on your location you may have to go to an Asian market to find some tea bags, but one package will last you a long time, and it's cheap. Or you can get them online here.

The last drink I keep stocked is some store-bought lemonade, but with my own fun addition: lime and mint ice cubes.

I freeze mint leaves in an ice cube tray with lime juice. These ice cubes make that way-too-sweet lemonade from the store so much more refreshing! I even put the ice in plain water sometimes. If I'm feeling really fancy, I blend the ice cubes and the lemonade in the blender- yum!

What are your favorite summer drinks? I hope you'll try some of these recipes to keep cool this summer!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Teacher Tuesday: small goals for July

Today I'm linking up again with Jennifer from The Yellow Brick Road blog to talk about my small goals for July! Click on the picture to go see all of the linkups from other teachers, and get some inspiration and ideas to set goals for yourself this summer too!

I think setting small goals is always good practice- it helps keep me motivated and focused on my priorities. In the summer this is even more true. It can be so easy for to get sidetracked by a million little projects that I have been wanting to accomplish over the summer break and before you know it, the summer is gone and I never got to the main things I needed to do!

I linked up with Jennifer back in June to share my goals last month too. Here's a quick follow-up on how those went:

1. Survive the rest of the school year: Check! Actually the end of the year wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I even got my percussion group to perform a piece they put together themselves using cups for an assembly on the last day of school and they did great!

2. Stay positive on father's day: I think I did pretty well. I was a little mopey when I was sitting in church by myself looking around at all the families sitting together, but overall it was a good day and I was able to stay focused on the positive.

3. Finish setting up and start filling out my 2015-16 planner: Check! Well, I think I'm done setting it up but I'm always tinkering so you never know. I made a pretty and functional dashboard and a back cover with pocket to hold papers, and filled out a good chunk of my TPT/blog section in my planner. I also printed my holiday planner and added that to the back. I actually wrote about my latest DIY additions (dashboard and back cover) on Sunday (here) and my holiday planner yesterday (here) if you're interested :)

OK, so now on to this month's goals...

I'll be flying with the girls on a short trip to visit my grandmother for the first time since they were 6 months old! That means my first flight with two preschoolers. My sister will be coming along so it should be a fun trip, and I can't wait to visit some extended family for the first time in a long time. Still, I will need to do some serious organizing and planning before the trip! So I guess my goal is for the trip to actually be successful (as indicated by the number of tantrums from both children and adults over the course of the trip). 

Yep. I'm taking the plunge. I've been wishing I could get rid of this giant metal monstrosity from my classroom for a while now, but I've never been able to figure out where to put everything. I am always trying to find ways to free up more space in my classroom so we have more space for movement and small group activities, and this will definitely do the trick! Before the end of the school year I started sorting through things and finding new homes for them, so I think I can manage it this time. We'll see!

I have actually been quite pleased with how many get-together's I have managed to plan or attend already this summer. I'm a true introvert- I need a certain amount of alone time each day to properly function- and during the school year I'm pretty busy. I really want to continue to develop the wonderful friendships that I have been forming since moving here a few years ago, so I want to keep organizing and attending get-together's with friends- both playdates with the girls and grownup time with small groups of adult friends! :)

I think I'm going to stick with those for July. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself! What goals do you have for July? Head over to the linkup on Jennifer's blog and link up your own ideas, or leave a comment below! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Planner Tag!

This blog is just bubbling over with excitement lately! Today I'm excited to announce that Jennifer from The Yellow Brick Road and I are starting a planner tag next week!

What is a planner tag, you ask?

Basically it is a "get to know you" activity for our planners! :) If you don't know by now, Jennifer and I share a love of paper planners. Planners can come in all shapes and sizes- whether it's the free one your school gave you, an expensive designer one, or one you made yourself, we love them all! In this planner tag we invite YOU to make a video answering some basic questions about your planner and then taking us on a tour through the whole thing. Share your video with us and link up with the tag by adding your video to a brief blog post and adding that link to the planner tag linky party, which will go live on July 14th, 2015, at 5am EST.

We hope you'll join us! We can't wait to see how you organize your life and get some great new ideas from all of you.

Planner Tag questions:
  • Is your planner DIY or did you purchase it?
  • If DIY: how do you bind your planner and where did you get the pages? If purchased: what type of planner did you buy?
  • What planners have you tried in the past and which one is your favorite (including your current one)?
  • What is one planner accessory that you couldn’t live without?
  • What is one tip/trick that makes your planning easier?

Questions? Leave a comment or email or and we'll be happy to help!

Mommy Monday: holiday planning- Christmas in July!

OK I know it's sounds crazy to be talking about planning for the winter holiday months right now, but hear my out! Today I want to share with you the new system I started using last year that made the holiday season a little bit easier for me.

So let's start with why I begin planning for the winter holidays in July. The main reason is my job as a music teacher. I'm just so busy around the winter holidays, between the end of the semester and trying to prepare and perform all of the holiday performances! Add on additional programs at church, and it can be really hard to enjoy the season with family and friends! Plus I realized that I so often think of great gift ideas during the year, based on comments someone makes about something they want or just something I come across online or in a store, and I just *know* I'm going to remember the idea for the next holiday or birthday, but then of course when I get super busy and I'm trying to find gifts for everyone at the last minute (because yes, I've procrastinated again), I can never remember most of those awesome ideas! 

Enter the latest addition to my planner:

Last year I made some printables for planning and organizing everything related to Thanksgiving, Christmas / Hannukah, New Years, and everything in between, and I found it so helpful! I recently went through and updated the pages, and I've printed out the new pages for the back of my planner (if you're interested, you can get the set here). Most of the pages I won't be using until it gets closer to fall/winter (things like party planners, baking lists, donations tracker, Thankgiving / potluck planner etc), but some of them I want to have ready now, so I wanted to share those with you now to give you some ideas. You definitely don't need this exact organizer to use these tips to get organized now- these are very simple ideas that you can use to make your own organizers on the computer or hand-write in a notebook! 

The first thing I wanted to mention is that any time I am printing planner pages that I am only using seasonally (like the holiday pages or the summer organizer pages), I generally print on regular (thinner) paper and only in black and white. I just can't stand wasting any extra money on something that I'm not going to use for long or keep after I'm done I guess. So to make up for the lack of color and slightly-flimsier cover, I added some gold tape to the edges. So much more festive! As always, I'll use different colored pens to make the inside pages more fun too :)

The main things I want to get started on during summer break are gift ideas, cards I want to send, and my own wishlist. For the cards, I want to start making a list of people that I want to continue to stay in touch with and make sure I have their addresses. Last year I failed at this- I had great intentions but ended up just sending a mass email (sorry friends). This year I'm hoping to get things organized sooner so it's not so overwhelming when it's time to get them in the mail!

I feel a little weird about making a wishlist, but this is an area that can ironically be stress-inducing for me. People want to give me something I will like and use and ask me what I want, and I find that usually I have a hard time thinking of things! Last year I did a little bit better job of writing down some ideas when I came across things that I liked but wouldn't buy for myself, and it made everything much easier for me when Christmas rolled around.

The main reason I want to get started organizing for the holidays, though, is to start writing down gift ideas for other people. Although going to a secret Santa system in my immediate family helped a lot last year, I still can easily get overwhelmed trying to come up with ideas for everyone that I want to send a gift to. My goal is to have all of the names filled in for people I want to consider, along with 1 possible gift idea, by the time school starts back in August. Then no matter how crazy the school year gets, at least I know I have something planned for everyone!

I used this setup last year and loved it. It's a little hard to see in the picture, but basically I have space to note the person's name, when I want to have the gift ready by, gift ideas, and then a checklist for buying/making, wrapping, and delivering the present. 

Are you doing anything to get organized for the winter holidays? Do you think I'm completely nuts? Share your thoughts in the comments :)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Plan With Me Sundays

Well hello there, everyone! Today I'm linking up with Kreative in Kindergarten and Keeping up with Mrs. Harris to share an update on my planner set up. Make sure you check out all of the linkups below to see all of the other amazing planners. And *cough* make sure you read all the way to the end for a special surprise that rhymes with "biveaway" *cough*...

If you are new to these parts, welcome! You can read my previous post on the basic setup for my planner, with links to all of my supplies and tips on how I print, in this post:

And you can get a quick tour of my planner in its just-assembled state in the video tour below: 

Basically I have created my own planner that is a combination teacher planner, music teacher organization binder, home management binder, TPT planner, and blog planner (You can check out the full sets, in 6 different lesson planning formats, here in my TPT store. You can mix and match whichever parts you need). I use a disc-bound system to bind my planner and DIY most everything else. 

So you can read about the basic arc/discbound setup, my DIY laminated tabs, pen loop, and more in my previous post. Today I wanted to show you some of my new additions! The first is a dashboard that I made to hold some sticky notes and also function as a ruler and bookmark:

Isn't it beautiful?? I just love it. I use sticky notes when I want to write something down that I know I'm going to want to move from one week to another for reference, or when I want to add something to my calendar but the plans are still tentative. Now instead of keeping sticky notes in the zippered pouch at the back, I can keep them here where they are much slimmer (I only have 5 of each color so it stays thin, then I can add more as needed)! Here's how I made it:

I had some pieces of scrapbook paper leftover from a previous project, so I grabbed those and stuck them in on of the laminating pouches, cut it, then punched it. Then I stuck some sticky notes on it. See, wasn't that easy?!? :) Here is a look at the whole front side, in my months section for now:

On the back I wanted some bigger paper to use for shopping lists or bigger sticky notes, but I wanted something a little bit cuter than the plain square ones. I happened to stumble upon this magical product recently: 

 It is repositionable glue, which means I can turn any piece of paper into a sticky note!! Did anyone else hear the sound of angels singing as the clouds opened?? I took some paper from a little notepad I had on hand and put a line of the glue on the back of each one, then stuck it on the other side of the dashboard.

My head is spinning with the possibilities- I will have to post an update when I have a chance to go to town with this stuff. For now, though, this paper is a good size for grocery lists and things and I like the saying on it ("Don't forget... to be calm in a storm"). Pretty cute, and appropriate for summer! I'll take it!

The second update I made was to the back of my planner. Last year I used one of the covers that comes with the basic arc notebook I bought as the inside back cover (inside the clear poly cover). There happened to be one option that had a sorta-paisley design that was similar to my printed front cover, with plain black on the other side, which was perfect for camouflaging my black pen loop that I stuck to it. I really wanted something to match my new front cover, and I liked having a thicker back for holding my pen loop but the covers included with my notebook just weren't the right design to make it work. I was about ready to stick another piece of paper over one of the covers when I was going though a store and saw the pocket folders and realized I could add some functionality by using one of those! And then I saw these two-toned folders, including one with brown and pink, and I knew we were destined to be together.

Basically I cut out one side of the folder and trimmed it down to size, then hole punched it and added my pen loop. This was a true test for my cheapo hole punch. I had to punch through 2 layers of pretty thick cardstock at once on the pocket side. But guess what guys? I got it done. I'm not gonna tell you it was without some extra elbow grease and slick maneuvering, but we got it done! Now I officially see no reason for anyone to buy the expensive hole punches ever.

I've had the zippered pouch since last year but I found that it was getting to be too difficult to find things in the pouch because I had everything from postage stamps and stationary to papers from staff meetings that I hadn't filed yet... and then stayed in the pouch for a very long time... This way I can keep my stationary and supplies in the pouch and use the pocket for random papers that I need to stuff somewhere temporarily. And the colors match perfectly! I thought the black pen loop would bother me but for now it doesn't. If it starts to make my eye twitch later on I can always cover it up or something...

OK that's it for this update. Now on to some exciting news!!

1. I will be posting another video tour, with a look at all of the updates to my planner setup as well as how I use the inside pages of my planner now that I've had more time to fill out this new one, so stay tuned for that! It's going to be a really in-depth one, so those of you who are planner fanatics like me will enjoy it :)

2. You have TWO chances to win a $50 giftcards for Michael's, where I got the notepad for my DIY stickies and some of my washi tape, as well as a printable planner file from either 3 AM teacher or Mandy Gregory!! Enter one or both of the giveaways below.

Giveaway #1:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!

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