Friday, September 26, 2014

Why I Love Plexus...


So, a LOT has changed in my life in the past 6 months. The best thing to ever happen to me... having our baby girl. Becoming a mom has been the most amazing, challenging, yet rewarding experience of my life and I would not change it for anything. She is the most beautiful little thing I could ever imagine!

Anyway, today I wanted to share with you my personal experience with Plexus. Before you stop reading, let me tell you what Plexus is NOT:
-A diet
-A meal replacement
-A fad

Plexus Slim is an all-natural health drink powder that you mix into water once daily and drink (like Crystal Light). It helps keep blood sugar, cholesterol, and lipids at healthy levels, which can result in weight loss. 

Now I want to share MY story with Plexus, because hearing all the facts isn't always enough. People want results! Long before I was pregnant, long before I was married, long before I graduated college... all the way back in high school (about 11 years ago), I became highly addicted to sugar. I'm talking, HAD to have a Wild Cherry Pepsi every day. My friends and family can attest to this. It got a little ridiculous. After that addiction subsided (Pepsi overload!), it was Caramel Frappuccinos as often as possible. After that, it was White Chocolate Mochas. After that, Cinnamon Dolce Lattes. I'm not kidding, I would go from one sugary drink to the next, all the while acting like it was no big deal, because I was a teenager who didn't care and had a fast metabolism. Well, as we all know, it catches up sooner or later! In my first year of college, I gained the "freshman 15" that everyone warned me about. I had never had a weight problem, so I didn't expect it. Buying jeans a size bigger was not a good feeling. As time went on, I didn't make many changes in my diet. Between 3 hour labs almost every day, endless projects, staying up until at least 12 every night... my eating habits were far from good. I was always eating at random times of the day, whatever I could quickly grab while heading out the door to class, or worse, whatever was cheapest (like McDonalds or Taco Bell). My sweet drink addiction only got worse while working at a local coffee shop where we invented new sugary concoctions daily. The weight kept adding on. So I would go on little diets here and there, lose the weight, and then it would creep back.

Fast forward several years to last summer when I found out I was pregnant. I was obviously ecstatic! Everyone told me, "Eat whatever you want! It's the only time in your life you'll have a good excuse!" So I did. My sugar addiction was at an all-time high during pregnancy (after the nausea went away). I could not help it. Men, just know that when you hear women talk about the intensity of cravings during pregnancy, it is NO JOKE. But, I will say that my cravings were not that out-of-the-ordinary for me... the same ones, just amplified. So maybe if I'd exercised self-control years prior to becoming pregnant, it wouldn't have gotten so out of hand. Anyway, I gained 45 pounds during pregnancy, and had been told by my doctor that I should only gain between 25 and 35 for my size. Yikes!!

Losing the weight was a struggle. The first 25 pounds seemingly fell off. The next 20, not so much. I was stuck at the same weight for about 2 months. I kept reading people's posts on Facebook about something called Plexus. It annoyed me for awhile (probably because I was unhappy with my weight), but finally I asked a friend about it. I started reading and researching the products, and the more I found out, the more intrigued I became. I signed up as an ambassador because I knew it was a legitimate product line, and I wanted to get wholesale prices. I am not one to pass up on a deal!

Sure enough, after the first week, I lost 6 pounds. I had lost several inches as well. My appetite was changing--suddenly, I was getting slightly grossed out by sugar. Every day, the cravings became less and less. Then the weirdest thing happened. I started wanting healthy stuff. When I was thirsty, I went for a water instead of caffeine or sugary drinks. When I wanted a snack, I reached for a banana instead of chips. I also didn't have that crash in the afternoon like I used to. 

It has been almost two months since I've been doing Plexus. I have more energy than I've had in I don't know how long... and I have a 6 month old! I've lost 8 pounds, 13 inches, and only have a little more to go. I plan on sticking with the Slim because once I hit my goal, it will keep my blood sugar at a regular level. I don't EVER want to go back to where I was. It's so, so much more than the weight loss. My skin has been much better (I've had mild acne for years). I used to have oily patches on my scalp that are GONE; this I attribute to the ProBio5 and BioCleanse... which I can talk about in another post. The keratosis polaris on my arms has significantly decreased. I'm not having mood swings like before. The list goes on and on. I only expect to see even more results with time.

I tell you all of this because I want others to experience the feelings of freedom that I've felt. I want you to have the energy that I have. This is not a miracle product (meaning you have to stick with it and still make healthy decisions), but Plexus helps with cravings and can increase will-power over food. 

If you're interested in more information about the products or the company, please let me know. You can visit my site as well: Thanks for stopping by and reading my story!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Planning for a Long-Term Sub

Good morning!

Today finds me with 4 work days left before maternity leave. Baby girl could come any day now! I am so excited. I thought it would be an appropriate time to show you how I planned for a long-term sub, and hopefully put your mind at ease if you are in panic mode. :)

Planning for a long-term sub can be a daunting task, so I've included some of the information I gave mine. After scouring a lot of blogs and writing out a lot of lists, I knew I wanted her to have as much information as possible when I left. Maybe I went overboard, but I want her to feel well-equipped for the task at hand!

Here's my sub binder:

Inside, I used tabs to separate my schedule, school/classroom procedures, miscellaneous helpful info, student info, and lesson plans.

Here's a look at some of the info in the "Helpful Info" tab. Obviously, this is going to look different for everyone. But these are things I thought of throughout the year that would be helpful for my sub to know-- things that are specific to my job, like carpool, hanging artwork, picking up 5th graders from across the parking lot, etc. Run through each day in your mind, and think about what makes that day different than the others. You'll be surprised at how busy you are, and how many little things there are to tell your sub! Other things in your binder might include: where the printer is located, which keys work for which door, how to log on to your computer, morning meetings, grading, storing assignments, passing back assignments, etc.

Being an art teacher, I know my sub might be a little overwhelmed with some of the everyday duties that have become second nature to me. So I included a page on clay and how to use the kiln. If you work in a special subject, you may be the only one who knows this valuable information and need to share it!

The pink tabs at the top of the binder mark where we are in our lesson plans. I have had these for several weeks, because you never know when a baby is going to come. That way she will know exactly where we are and what we are doing. I've also made tabs on the side to separate each grade level's plans.

In the front of the binder, I wrote a note with a few last-minute details and end of year duties.

In the back, I added extra blank lesson plan copies.

A few more things to consider:
-Be in touch while planning for your leave; chances are your sub needs to know some things before he/she comes. It will give them peace of mind to hear from you.
-Send them an outline of assignments so they can have a basic idea of what to expect
-Send them a list of links to assignments if you have found them online, or if it has pictures of examples. As an art teacher, I use Pinterest often. I click on the website connected to the assignment we are doing, and copy the link for my sub. You also might want to bookmark these on your computer.
-Change your homepage from your school email if that is what it immediately opens to... Mine is automatically signed in, but I don't really want someone else to have access to my email.
-Label anything and everything. A lot of us label drawers and cabinets for our students, but it's helpful for a sub too. I have a storage closet full of random things that had to be labeled, and it really didn't take much time. They don't have to be fancy.
-Come up with more emergency sub plans if you don't have many. I made bookmarks on my computer for alternate assignments, in case my sub isn't comfortable doing certain projects, or if one class gets too far ahead. This may be easier in a subject like art, but it could work for your subject as well.

Hope this information was helpful to you, and please comment if you have any questions or other ideas!

Mrs. E

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 Your New Best Friend

Happy Tuesday!

I wanted to share some information with you that could change your life. It's called It costs $1/month, and it is the most helpful tool I use on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis as a teacher. This image was taken from the main page and gives you an idea of what to expect:

Whether you teach Kindergarten, a special subject, or 12th grade, this is an amazing tool. You create your schedule according to the day/week, and fill in what each class (in my case) is working on at that time.

The website has tutorials for everything you need to know. You can add events like holidays, snow days, etc., extend lessons, push back or move forward lessons, add attachments, and a lot more. 

I use the website to fill in lessons several weeks in advance and make changes as needed, since each class works at a different pace. Every Monday, I print off my schedule for the week and put it at the front of my binder so I know what's coming. Hope you try out this extremely helpful tool!

Mrs. E

Thursday, February 20, 2014

3rd Grade Spotlight: Coil Pots

Good afternoon! I wanted to share some photos of 3rd grade coil pots and hopefully inspire you to try them with your classes.

Teaching clay projects can always be a challenge. Here's what I like to do:

Go over rules of ceramics. I have the students take turns reading them out loud and we discuss each one. Since my K-4th classes are only 25 minutes long, we spend one whole class discussing rules of clay and doing a demonstration. Here's a Clay Rules PDF if you want to use it!

To start the coil pots, I give each student a small round slab of clay (pre-cut). This will (for the most part) help their pots stay similar sizes. Of course, some of them may flare out and turn into plates, but oh well. I show them how to make a coil, and always score and slip. Here's a handout I made this year that seemed to help! **Note: I decided to let them choose whether or not to smooth out the coils as they go. I found they prefer both ways.

Here's my example of a basic coil pot (no flaring out or in). This year, I let them play around with the shape by adding coils that go in and outside the existing coils.

Here's an example of a student who really embraced the project and created his own unique shape... I was so proud of him!

This student did a good job staying consistent with their coils.

Coil pots after first firing and about to be glaze-fired...

 Coil pots are easy and fun, especially once the students get the hang of it. Give them a try!

Mrs. E

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Deal with 4th and 5th Graders...

Hi everyone!

Today I wanted to talk a bit about those children who seem to change overnight in 4th and especially 5th grade. They can be a challenge!

Last year was my first year of teaching. I had a hard time keeping the older grades focused, and therefore felt disrespected a lot of the time. I tried turning off the lights to get their attention, raising my voice over theirs, standing silently ("I'm waiting..." anyone?), and nothing seemed to work. While some of the techniques I've used this year work great, I can't promise that every single time you will see success. Which brings me to my first point...

1. Understand that you cannot control their hormones. Puberty is a real thing, people. These kids are experiencing changes that we all went through, and I often have to remind myself of that. Know that it is not always their intention to be disrespectful. Respecting them in this way has helped me to stay sane in moments where I want to pull my hair out.

2. Expect the best. Walking into the classroom with a tense demeanor, even if you think you can hide it, never helps. Children can pick up on your cues, and they often feed on your negative energy. Many times when I feel like I am being run over by their loudness, interruptions, etc., I look back and realize it all started with my mood when class began.

3. In light of this fact, begin class with confidence. Err on the side of being strict, because with older children you have to set boundaries and standards from the get-go. Sometimes I'm tempted to be more lax and "fun," but I've realized they need to see me as an authority figure long before we can laugh together. It may sound extreme, but my best classes have been when I remained calm, yet assertive and confident, rather than laid back. (You can still be sweet and respectful, though!)

4. Show grace. You needed grace when you were in 4th or 5th grade, or any age, for that matter. Give students the benefit of the doubt, because the majority of the time, they mean well. They want to please you. And the more you show them grace and respect, the more they will reflect it back to you.

5. Repeat yourself. Many times, we teachers think we only need to say something once for it to stick. It is only going to stick in their minds when you repeat it. Sometimes I feel like a broken record with the older kids, especially during clean up time, but the truth is they need those reminders. It all comes back to expecting the best of them, but showing grace when they need it!

Hope some of these simple tips will help you to stay calm and feel in control in your classroom!

Mrs. E

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Power of Words

This post is going to be a bit more serious... just to warn you. It is written from a teacher's perspective, but I am also a wife and soon-to-be mother who deals with these things in many scenarios. Lately I've been thinking a lot about the way we, as teachers, have so much power in words. I often fall short in my weariness, impatience, etc. (basically, my selfishness), and it comes out on my students. This is not a call out. This is a personal issue that I believe everyone struggles with, but not many people talk about for fear of judgment.

The truth is our words have incredible weight. Whether it's in the classroom, in the home, or in the grocery store, I believe words can be just as harmful as actions. Whoever said "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never harm me" was just plain wrong.

There are things my teachers said to me as a child that impacted me, for the better and for the worse. Now, as a teacher, I find myself in situations where all that comes out is sarcasm or a feeble way of saying "I don't appreciate what you are doing"... Instead, it may sound like, "STOP! RIGHT NOW!" As the minutes and hours in the day pass by, I look back on that moment and see that student's eyes... nothing but fear or shame is reflected back into my own shameful heart. My reaction to their outburst was equally ridiculous and uncalled for. And my intention should never be to shame anyone or make them afraid of what may happen. My intention should be a gentle nudge to do the right thing and to have integrity. It is in those moments that I am fully aware of my own lack of integrity. I am brought to my knees asking my Savior to give me the right words to speak.

The tongue is a tool to be used for good, but I believe we are all too messed up to do so on our own. Without Christ, my words are harsh, unkind, or can come across that way even if I wasn't planning on it sounding that way. James tells us that the tongue has to be tamed, that it is like a fire. If we don't try to quench that fire, our words become nothing but empty, hateful, and meaningless.

I am pleading with all teachers, mothers, and wives here. Please, please, please think before you speak. Think before you use that tone of voice that implies you know more than the person you're speaking with... even if you do. Use wise judgment. Some situations call for a response, and many do not. And the ones that do require a response should be carefully formed, not reactionary. Isn't this what we all struggle with?

The only answer I have for this tongue-taming process is the Holy Spirit. Each class period, we pray before we start on our project. When I am focused on the prayer and on Jesus, I've noticed a STARK difference in my tone and words. However, the opposite happens when I am focused on myself, on what needs to get done, etc. Friends, God is in control. He does not need you to be a control freak. He wants you to surrender your life -- every part, every moment, every word -- to His will. You will be free, joyful, and grateful when you let the Lord take control.

Mrs. E

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5th Grade Spotlight: Value Studies

Good morning!

It's a blustery day here with snow falling at a steady pace. I'm enjoying a nice cup of coffee on my hour long (!) break. Would've been perfect for a snow day, but I am wondering if Thursday and Friday might stand a better chance. :)

Thought I would share what we are doing in 5th grade. I've taught five other classes and always struggled with value. For some reason, a lot of the 5th graders don't understand the concept of tints, shades, and tones... and painting with those three became a challenge for about half of the students. I think the projects I tried were a little too difficult for many of them to grasp.

So I decided to come from a more basic approach by not using paint on this project, and not using color. I ordered some Prismacolor pencils from Blick in various shades, and showed students how to layer and blend with them.

We looked at examples of Renaissance artwork first, and how Raphael in particular used value.

Next, I explained the concept of chiaroscuro. We looked at this example that I found on Google. I like that it shows a value scale underneath as well.

When I felt like everyone had the concept of value down, I had students draw practice sketches of still life objects. The next day, we started with the Prismacolors and used graphite-colored paper as a middle value (this confused some). Overall, I think this project was a much simpler but successful project on value! 

Student example:

What do you think? What are some value lessons you've done that were successful?

Mrs. E