30 October 2012

Belated Birthday

I'm so far behind in my posting I don't even know where or when to start.   I will try and do better.
I missed sharing anything about my b-day, but it was a good one.  36 doesn't sound like a big milestone but it seemed like one.  Having my presents picked out, wrapped (and partially opened) by a five-year old made for a lot of fun.  And the gifts were very thoughtful...a set of jacks (can't wait to learn how to play), a box of Cap'n Crunch, a puzzle of the United States, a picture book of a Spanish-speaking, soccer-playing penguin (how amazing is that!), a sweater, and a wonderful handmade, hand-illustrated book telling the story of a boy named Jakee who meets two wonderful girls.  I'll let you read it to find out the rest of the story. 
Maybe the biggest present was getting to pick up Isa from school for the first time on my birthday.  We have so many fun things planned for our after-school adventures together!
We also went out to Centro for a little birthday dinner, which ended with someone in tears and it wasn't me.  I think the combination of eating a large hunk of blue cheese (unaware of what it was) and being very tired made for an upset girl.
The Notre Dame trip was also an amazing amazing trip, and a memory I'll always enjoy and I got some super cool Irish swag for my birthday courtesy of homebase.  And I've got a Scheel's gift card to enjoy spending soon thanks to caboose!  And the fantastic running gloves from the Omaha family make me feel like Tron.  Can't wait to try them out.  Thank you Thank you Thank you!
Overall a super wonderful birthday.  One that makes me excited for birthdays to come.

26 October 2012

Kiva #3

An email from Kiva this morning reminded me that I had received full repayment from Leonora in the Philippines.  Hopefully her pigs are doing well and she is on her way to self-sufficiency.  So I went out and reviewed the loan apps and recycled my $200 for the third time.  This time it will help 19 year-old Charlevoix in Samoa get her food stall dream started.  Pancakes, buns, scones and more!  Good luck Charlevoix!

24 October 2012

Reading Aloud

I came across this NY Times article from 2010 while I was looking at Jim Trelease's website.  "A father-daughter bond, page by page."  I actually got a little watery-eyed at a couple spots in the article!  It just sounds like such a wonderful experience, for both of them. 
I am hoping to start some chapter book read-aloud, beginning with "The Trumpet of the Swan" so hopefully it will be the first step in a saga similar to the one in the article.

23 October 2012

Notre Dame road trip

Finally getting around to posting about homebase & I's AMAZING road trip to South Bend just over a week ago.  After talking about it every fall for who knows how long, we finally pulled the trigger.  Homebase found a hotel, I found some tickets and just like that, it was a done deal!
We packed A LOT into our time there and left no fun opportunity unexplored.  I'm pasting our itinerary here.  There were a couple things that we didn't get to but we made it to a majority of it!
On the way over Thursday after work, we made the very smart decision to drive a little out of our way and overnight with Uncle Dan.  He was thrilled to have us, plied us with food and drink (despite it being 9:30 when we got there) and set us up with comfy beds.  And he saw us off in the morning, having stocked us up with bananas, donuts and cold meat sandwiches for the road.
I would be writing forever if I tried to explain how amazing Notre Dame is and all the wonderful things we saw and did.  We walked down the player tunnel, stood in the end zone, shopped and shopped and shopped in the bookstore, went to mass, prayed in the grotto, walked the quads, cheered & watched ESPN College Gameday live, (Chris Fowler is SO classy!), had great seats for the pep rally, took the tour of the campus, watched the drum line and band play, enjoyed a tailgate meal for $3 (with free ND bucket and frisbee!) courtesy of the Alumni club, listened to a lecture on guardian angels, had a hilarious cheeseburger courtesy of one of the many student concession stands, hid out from the rain before the game, watched one of the most amazing finishes and goal-line stands I've ever seen, and had countless laughs.
It was an incredible trip and a lifelong memory.
Check out my picture set, or homebase's, or our little video montage

10:00 am - 5:00 pm (except during team walkthrus) - Stadium Tunnel Tours. North Tunnel of ND Stadium. 
10:00 - 5:00 pm - Football Fridays at the Eck Center.  Tailgating ($1 hot dogs!), ESPN tv, raffles, food, performances, etc. Hospitality tent, NW corner of Eck Visitor Center.
11:30 - 12:45 pm - Mass. Basilica of Sacred Heart.  
Noon - 5:00 pm - Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Basilica of Sacred Heart
1:00 pm - Public visitors tour. Eck Visitors Center.
4:00 - 4:10 pm - Trumpets under the Dome.  Marching band trumpet section plays 2 songs inside Main Building rotunda.
4:20 - 4:45 pm - Marching band warm-up and step-off from outside Main Building.
6:00 - 7:00 pm - Pep Rally. Purcell Pavilion @ Joyce Center.

10:30 - 11:30 am - Saturdays with the Saints lecture. (On Angels)  Lawrence Cunningham, chair of theology emeritus.  Andrews Auditorium (lower level), Geddes Hall.
10:00 - 3:00 pm - ND Experience, fan fest. Games, giveaways, samples. North Dome, Joyce Fieldhouse.
11:00 - 12:00 pm - ESPN CollegeGameday live broadcast
2:40 - 3:00 pm - Marching band step-off.  Trek from Main Bldg to stadium. 45 min before kick.
3:05 - 3:20 pm - Band pre-game performance.  On field, ND Stadium.
3:30 - 7:00 pm - ND Football vs Stanford.  Notre Dame Stadium

19 October 2012

Too Early....but I can't wait!

Even though I strictly stick to my rule of no holiday music until the morning after Thanksgiving, I still need to share the news of  this new holiday compilation, "Holiday Rules", that comes out on October 30.  After listening to the full version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Von Etten, I am definitely going to be downloading this album.  Throw in The Civil Wars, Punch Brothers, The Shins, and Fun. and this is a no-brainer! 

18 October 2012

Highlights & Notes from ITEC '12

Just finished wrapping up my thoughts & notes from the ITEC conference the past two days and wanted to put them out here too.  Some great sessions, great resources. 

Two Highlights from the Vendor Fair:
- I had heard a little about DisplayNote a few weeks ago when it was released, but it was VERY helpful to see it demonstrated at the Tierney Brothers booth.  I think it could be a fabulous tool for personalizing learning in tech-rich classrooms.  A little pricey at first glance, but if you compare it to the cost of an interactive whiteboard and consider all the options you get with it, I have to say it may actually be a bargain.  (~$695 for a teacher license/$3200 site license)

WiPad Pro
- This is a wireless HDMI transmitter for the iPad.  It does not use & is not reliant on your wireless.  Supports 1080p, streaming audio, no latency, is simple plug and play.  ($299 Educator pricing)

Three Sessions I didn't go to but wish I would've:

"Creating Coursework in iTunes U"  - Very excited to try this out, thanks to some great note from my friend Katie who went to the session.

"Gameification of PD" (
site) - This innovative & fun model for tech pd by Bettendorf sounds like something we should definitely check out and consider replicating.  Can't wait to learn more as I discuss with my coworker J, who attended this one.

"iPad Workflow for Educators" (
presentation) - Didn't get to see it live but even just the presentation notes got me excited.  Straight-forward and split into Assigning work, Recieving work, Grading work, there is a TON of great ideas here yet they are laid out sensibly and easy to follow.

Session Notes:
"Getting Big Results from Just a Few iPads" (presentation)
Adam Nidey, WDM

Good session sharing how he uses a few iPads, a few computers and a few creative classroom design ideas in his classroom station work.  App suggestions for word work, reading, and writing as well as web tools and Twitter ideas from this year's ITEC Educator of the Year.
: In his district, to get 3 classroom iPads, teachers had to write up how they were planning on using them AND attend 15 hours of training & integration sessions.

"Quit, Complain or Innovate"
Marco Torres, Keynote presentation

This guy has been interviewed for Edutopia and was entertaining as well as inspiring.  He's from a tough school with lots of turnover yet he says we have three options, "Quit, Complain or Innovate."  I like that.  He also talked a lot about not forgetting what question it is we are trying to answer, and thinking outside the box in solving it.  "People who do amazing things can not live without their networks."
: Regardless of your situation, if you build a strong PLN, you can grow, innovate and be amazing. 

"Integrating Web 2.0 and eBooks into Curriculum" (presentation)
Shannon Miller, Van Meter

I've seen her present a couple times before and I love her passion, fresh ideas and vision.  Active twitter presence, photo nut, and librarian extraordinaire.  Her presentation has an amazing list of tools & apps to support literacy.  This lady is seriously a rockstar.
:  Hard to choose a highlight since elem literacy is not my strength, but she mentioned quickly a project they did to encourage and increase usage where they helped students set up a "Library in My Pocket" on their personal smart devices so they can access all the tons of free resources that she's compiled.

"Evernote" (presentation)
Leslie Fisher

I've been an avid Evernote user for a couple of years now so this session was pretty much mostly review for me but it did reinforce my belief in how great this product is.  I want to do a lunch & learn session on this for my dept sometime soon.  It was nice to see Evernote Peek and Evernote Clearly demonstrated. 
:  Evernote is the greatest note-taking & organization tool.

"Gadgets"  (presentation)
Leslie Fisher

I am a Leslie Fisher fan so I stuck around for her session on what is new and trending in the tech gadget world.

Takeaway:  I want a Parrot AR Drone.

"iOS Apps" (presentation)
Leslie Fisher

I started Tuesday off with more Leslie and the apps came fast & thick.  A good mix of things I was familiar with and things new to me.  Some paid and some free.  It got me wanting to take another look at Rover and also check out Zine.
: HaikuDeck.  A new, free app that allows for the creation of sharp-looking presentations on the iPad that can be exported to PPT if you so choose.

"What's new, What's next"
David Pogue, Keynote

A very entertaining speaker.  Tech-saavy and still super easy to understand.  I didn't take a single note during his talk but I was engaged through the whole thing.
:  I would like to have his job (Tech columnist, reviewer for NYTimes, host of Nova)

"Good Principal, Bad Principal"  (presentation)
Andy Crozier, Andrew & Brian Downing, Okoboji

A great session that I wish all principals would check out.  This was one session that I definitely wish could've gone on longer. Looked at a few common situations that divide school leaders into "good/bad" categories and discussion on tips that can be taken to make sure you are in the right category.
: If there are administrators (or leaders of any kind, really) who are not tapping into the wealth of knowledge, resources and support via Twitter, they are not doing their job properly.

"Tech Training That Works" (site)
Mary Trent, Nancy Peterman, Carroll Kuemper, Tech Integrationists

This was great to hear how Mary has honed her tech training ways over a 12 year period.  In the end it was an admin-mandated, $25/hr compensated, schedule of Saturday mornings and after-school times that people could choose from that worked the best.  Lots of great tips in this session.
: I loved the requirement that each teacher has to put together one tech-integrated, core-aligned lesson plan after each training.  If you do this, you will end up with a nice library of shared ideas.  I also loved her statement about when people say, "Oh you're just know so much more than me" or "You are an expert at this".  She just explains to them, "It's not that I'm smart or know more than you, it's just that I've made all the mistakes before." 

"Free & Easy Screencasting Tools" (presentation)
Tony Amsler, Grant Wood AEA

A good simple demo of a few free screencasting tool options.  Useful for beginners.  Personally, I love Jing and was surprised how little time/attention he gave it.
:  Umm...I kinda tuned out once I decided that Jing would still be my tool of choice.

17 October 2012

Email Disclaimers

I have never really understood why some may people add that boilerplate disclaimer text to the bottom of their emails.  I've never believed that they have any sort of legal value (to be fair my knowledge of legal matters is 90% speculative).  So I did a very short search of the web this morning to see what I could find.  This article from the Wall Street Journal is a nice summary and shares some of the problems I have with disclaimers. And another one from the Chicago Trib.
A teacher at the last high school I worked at had a satirical disclaimer at the bottom of his emails and it always made me smile.  Although this one takes the cake for satirical. 

16 October 2012

Ireland Soccer Sinking

In case you wanted a concise, insightful and seemingly unbiased report on what has been going on with the Republic of Ireland football team since the World Cup, this ESPN article should fit the bill.  Trapattoni's tactics have been scrutinized from the beginning.  When they were qualifying for the WC, they weren't a problem.  When they are tanking and team morale is plummeting, it most definitely is.

09 October 2012

Great Horned Owl

...in my backyard. 
caboose & I heard him a week or two ago but by the time I stuck my head out, he had moved on. Tonight, I heard the hooting and quickly went out the front door to see if I could pinpoint his location.  The next hoot led me to my backyard.  As I was standing, hoping for another hoot to hone in on, directly above me by about six feet came a very loud hoo-hoo-ho-hooo.  I looked up (and cursed myself for forgeting my flashlight) and saw his sizable silhouette on a branch right over me.  We shared a few moments and then he silently took to his wings and slid into the darkness.
I am totally hoping he is a regular visitor so I can try to sneak a peak at him at some point. 
Thrilled to be able to add this species to my "yard list."

08 October 2012

Gameday Cooking

How good did the Irish look on Saturday night?!  Man, I was expecting a victory but not anything as lopsided as that.  It made looking at those crazy helmets & uniforms almost bearable.  It is totally crazy to think that I am going to see them play this weekend against Stanford and they are undefeated!!!
For the game I made a Rick Bayless (Rick & Lanie) recipe for Creamy Corn Soup with Roasted Chiles.  I had made it before and noted "Simple but good flavors" beside it.  Well this time it was definitely simply but the good flavors were completely absent.  It was the blandest soup ever made.  And I made Emeril's Jalapeno Corn bread to go with it, but I let out the jalapeno so Isa could have some too, but they turned out super blah also!  Not a great night of cooking.  Luckily there were OREO's for dessert.
On Sunday, minovia took over and made Carne de jugo or what her family just calls 'green soup'.  It has bite-sized chunks of meat and bacon in a fantastic pureed broth of tomatillos, green & jalapeno peppers and cilantro. It was out of sight.  I went back for seconds and this will be one that will have to be shared when we are all together sometime.  Top notch!
We also had another round of our college football picks challenge and you can view the results.  It has been a new, fun addition to my football Saturdays.

05 October 2012

Lincoln Football: Investigation released

I have bit my tongue on this story several different times and decided not to blog about it but I am giving in today.  The investigation report was finished, and subsequently released to the Des Moines Register by the claimant's attorney. 
If you are unfamiliar with the story the very short version is...freshman football player tweets about how awful the varsity team is, coach makes him say it to their face in practice & also do extra conditioning drills as punishment, player's mom pulls him and enrolls him at Dowling Catholic, coach is put on leave & investigation ensues.   Read the report for full details. 
Since I don't have any inside or personal knowledge of the situation I can only go by the report.  And I can't help but side with the coach.  At what point did it become wrong to reprimand your player, make them say things to people's faces, take responsibility for their mistakes and use extra conditioning as a tool for discipline?

03 October 2012

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Didn't even know this artist a week ago but I've heard two great songs (and great videos) from two different sources since then.  They are on totally opposite ends of the spectrum.  "Thrift Shop" is a bouncy, hilarious, sassy celebration of looking fantastic on a very small budget.  "Same Love" is a heartfelt, intimate portrayal of a young gay man.  Enjoy them both.

02 October 2012

Beer & Politics

My first reaction is like the one the article said most people probably have when presented with this data, thinking "What a load of crap," or more accurately, "where did they get this data from?"
That aside, it is sort of fun to look at.  A couple observations...
  • I wasn't surprise that Bud Light is right on the Democratic/Republican fence.  If there is a beer to represent the bland, middle of the road populus, that is it.
  • With that in consideration, it is surprising that Coors Light and Miller Lite skew so far toward the right.
  • It was interesting for me to plot out my life's progression in beer and see if it correlated in any way to my political leanings or voting activity.  Busch Light > Miller Lite > Guinness/Stella.
  • Shiner Bock is seriously for the extreme right.  Too bad, it's good beer!
  • I've never heard of Henry Weinhard's. 
  • Curious about why Molson and Labatt's fall on different sides of the spectrum.  I don't really know how they are viewed in Canada, I guess.  Maybe one is seen as more high-end.