MY THANKSGIVING NIGHTMARE CAME TRUE!!!

Plans. Foiled. Shot. Blown.

I can’t believe it. My Plan A was to go to my in-laws.  Found out 3 days ago that they have to work. So that plan is shot.  My parents had already reached out, but we’d pretty much said we’d be out of town.

My Plan B was to:
1. Order Chinese
(What? Our family LOVES Chinese food. But it can get kind of pricey by the time everyone orders what they want),

2. Order the pre-made meal from Food Lion
(I heard on good authority from some church mothers that they’re “quite tasty!”) or

3. Scavenge
(there’s chicken noodle soup, fried chicken, chili, spaghetti, frozen ribs & frozen chicken in there). What are we cooking for?

But under NO CIRCUMSTANCES was I planning on this plan:

COOK

What the what???! Cook? Ain’t nobody got time for that!! This was supposed to be a Relax-giving. A Chill-giving. A Mommy-ain’t-cooking-so-go-find-something-to-eat-giving. And my husband KNEW IT. But what does he say this morning? At like 8am? While I’m rearranging my ENTIRE office which is full of jewelry, sewing stuff & furniture?

“What are we eating for Thanksgiving? I’m going to the store on my way to work. Y’all make a list.”

Oh my God…the thoughts. The ideas. The terrible, terrible things that I allowed to run through my mind about that man. My face? Nothing but one coldly poised eyebrow ready to strike fear and terror into any who foolheartedly gazed upon it.

But…

I’m better than that. God has been too good for that. So I made up some stuff about not having enough money, not getting paid til Friday, a phenomenally high light bill, trash bill, etc. was paid in advance cuz you said “we would just eat whatever is here” (during the last 2 weeks that I’ve been asking you what we’ll do). Well, that took all the wind out of his sails! So he left for work. Oddly, he didn’t sound sad. He just took inventory of the fridge, said “Yeah, there’s a ton of food in here. Let’s just eat that.” And took off for the J.O.B.

But what happened next will land me some points. The kids & I hatched a plan. A devious plan. I’m hitting the store & we’re cooking today. So there will be NO cooking tomorrow. He can enjoy the yumminess when he gets home today, have food all day tomorrow and even pack lunch when he goes back in on Friday.

Yeah, I had a moment. Who doesn’t? But like those 2 brothers in the Bible: It’s not what you say, it’s where your heart is. And it’s where your heart is that drives what you do.

So y’all pray for me.  I’m about to go brave the Pre-Thanksgiving grocery store aisles.  Pray I make it back alive with everything I need & the favor to get it done before 3:15!  I guess I’ll be using those tips I gave you guys last time after all!!  lol  I pray your holiday is blessed and that you really, really enjoy your family & friends.

Love ya & Happy Thanksgiving!

Tonya

Thanksgiving

Instead of Telling Our Kids to Slow Down

If I believed what the my child’s principal & his former teachers imply, I’d think my middle child has a learning deficiency!  But thank God I’ve been teaching since 1998.  I’ve tutored since 1993 (well actually since elementary when I’d help the other kids with their math).  Anyway, is anyone else going through this common core fiasco?  I’ve sat countless hours with my child explaining math and he doesn’t always get it.  One thing is this:  he’s only being taught one method.  And that method is HARD!  AND SLOOOOOOOOW!  To the point that it almost literally causes me pain to help him at home. I admit it, y’all.  I’ll throw a fit and walk away.  Then have to come back and apologize and try again.  You’d think that 5th grade math was used to hang the sun in the ding dang sky!!!  Why are they teaching our children math theory (“for deeper understanding” I’ve been told) instead of focusing on drilling in the facts which will allow them to be able to compute those problems which require “deeper understanding”??!?!  Let me calm down…WOOOOSAAAAAAAHHHHHHH…still not calm, but I’m pressing on with this post.

The human brain is a funny thing.  If it’s used to going a certain pace, making it slow way down can be torture! Imagine someone asking you to WRITE DOWN instructions on how to tie your shoes.  You’d just have a time doing that, right?  It may not sound like a big deal, but think about it.  Not just explaining the process, but will everyone agree with the method.  I mean you have the bunny ear method, the bear goes around the tree method, the double bunny ear method, the cool YouTube version where you stick the aglet (the plastic at the ends of the shoelace) in the top hole method.  God only knows how many methods there are to do the same thing.  Therein lies my point.  We are streamlining learning when some kids learn in many different ways.  And different methods work for different kids.  So why torture their little brains by making them LEARN just one “right” way?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I teach math.  Every. Day.  Especially if you count the stalkers who email me all times of the day and night (the students with a 97 average scared they won’t get an A-creepy little people who I fear will have a nervous breakdown before they even land a job).  I make it a habit to teach math problems in multiple ways in my classes.  I tell my students to only focus on the method that works for them.  I don’t make my learn it one particular way.  There are some cases, however (usually where a formula is involved) where they absolutely have to use that method.  But that’s not usually the case.  And for those who’ve taught in elementary & middle school, you know there’s more than one way to skin the math problem cat.

Kids are different.  The kids I teach are mostly freshmen.  They’re from different schools, had different teachers (with different teaching methods, skill levels, restrictions), from different age groups, etc.  But my child shares most of the same issues that the freshmen I teach do.  He came from private school to middle school.  They weren’t allowed to talk, move or anything in private school.  They were very rigorous and his grades were quite good.  Then he went to public school.  That’s when some major changes took place.

There was a big issue.  He had a teacher that would keep telling him to slow down.  I wish she’d never let those words come out of her mouth.  By that time, because he’d been in private school, he’d been programmed to be obedient to his teacher no matter what.  But that obedience has been detrimental.  He slowed down too much.  I know she meant well.  She wanted him to slow down so he wouldn’t make careless mistakes.  But his self confidence was ruined by that.  He would over analyze each step.  He became afraid to make a mistake and scared to ask for help.  She was a yeller.  Yeah.  So you could imagine how that would make a child feel powerless.  And at home, he wasn’t telling us the entire scenario.  So we took away privileges, gave lectures about behavior and focused & pushed him harder to do what she said.  We pushed him to slow down.  What we really did was push him right into a corner.  Well, a trap really.

The next school year the teacher said he was doing his work too slow.  His grades suffered.  For the past year he’d been programmed to slow down, doubt his work, not expect help & if he asked, he’d get yelled at.  He still hasn’t quite recovered from it.  My husband, other parents & even I have considered home schooling him.  Our work schedules unfortunately won’t allow.  But it’s something that keeps crossing my mind.  Anyway, enough talking about this.  I’ve become quite sad & don’t want to relive this.  I just wanted to give you some background on what we’ve experienced.  Let me help you if your child is a speeder like mine used to be.

Instead of telling them to slow down when they’re doing their work, have them do a few things:

  • Check their answers before saying they’re finished.  Make checking part of the assignment.
  • Explain why their steps are correct.
  • Explain why their answer is accurate.
  • Have them do the problem again on a clean sheet of paper (don’t let them look at the first one) to see if it’s their method is incorrect or a simple calculation error.
  • Have them do it until they get it right.

The last suggestion may seem awful, but I’ll just go ahead and admit it.  I am a speeder.  That’s why I can sympathize with (and sometimes borderline enable) my son.  One thing that annoys speeders is unnecessary repetition (spinning their wheels and no change in scenery-the reason why I didn’t join the track team when I was invited by the coach himself).  If your child is like this, don’t fret.  Use it to your advantage.  They’ll do almost anything to move on to the next thing.  And that’s when you explain:

When you get it right, you can move on. 

If you get it right the first time, you never have to do this problem again.

When I was school age, that was my light bulb!  What?  All I have to do is make sure I get it right?  Shoot, why didn’t you say so in the first place?  I will either slow myself down or go back and check my work.  I don’t want to see this problem again.  I don’t want to hear you tell me it’s wrong again.  I’ll ask you how to make it right so we don’t have this conversation again.  Ever.

This may work for some children.  But don’t think there won’t be a backlash (the eyeroll, big sigh, stomp, head bang on the table, whatever you let them get away with to express their frustration).  Be patient.  Stick to your guns.  This may be just the strategy you need to help your speeder excel without crushing their acceleration.  On the bright side, my middle child is still quick.  He still makes me feel some kind of dumb (with Bachelor’s & Master’s Degree in Math in hand) on the regular.  He still is super creative & wildly imaginative.  But he’s nowhere near the same when it comes to his studies.  He’s still moving too slow.  His teachers still don’t get it even when I explain it.  But forget them.  We are his family & we have his back no matter what.  Now to find him an advocate at his school who doesn’t try to railroad him into some special ed program.  But I digress again…

The secret to getting your child back on course is this:  really super boost their self esteem.  Encourage their socks off.  I don’t care how small the victory.  Celebrate them.  Reward them for the period in the right place, when they carry the one correctly, they finally put their funky socks in the hamper.  Gas their heads up!  The world can try to crush our children, but we cannot let it.  When they hear from us how wonderful & beautiful they are, they won’t buy the world’s crap!  (there’s that word again)  Many of my students who’d taken the same course 2-3 times have the same thing to say.   They were successful because they finally realized that THEY COULD DO IT!  But no one had told them they could.  We can do this, guys.  We can turn the school system around.  We can undergird our kids to the point that the system will think they did it.  Who cares who gets the credit.  I’m here for the kids.  Their success is in our hands.  Failure is not an option.  But let’s redefine what failure is.  Failure is a lack of regard for who, what & how are kids were made.  Let’s not fail them!

I hope this helps, guys.  Feel free to ask questions.  Let me know what you do to help your “speeders”.  And if your kiddo needs math help, I’m here!

 

Tonya

My Favorite Holiday Dinner Timesaving Shortcuts!

Hi guys!  I really think you are going to enjoy this post, but because of the timing of it, I do not have many or any pictures of most of what I’m talking about! So you would just have to trust me this time. I’m not even sure if I will be cooking this year, so I can’t even promise that I’ll have any of my pictures to share later. So sorry!  But for those who are cooking, I want it to help you out. Thanksgiving is less than a week away and I thought I would share some of my favorite tried and true holiday dinner shortcuts. It is very close to Thanksgiving, so I’m going to cut the fluff! Here is what you will need.

1.  2 crock pots (the size depends on your particular needs-can be 1 dial or programmable, won’t matter)
2.  A ham
3.  A turkey breast
4.  2 large cookie sheets
5.  French toast ingredients

I don’t know if you have connected the dots yet, but if you haven’t I’ve got you covered! For the last few years I have cut my cooking time down by almost 75% just by doing one simple thing. Putting the ham in a crock pot and putting a turkey breast in a crock pot. Now, everybody does their ham and turkey different. Some people don’t eat ham, some people don’t eat turkey. So you just modify this to fit your family.

Basically, we use a shank cut ham. I think that’s what it is. Maybe it’s a shoulder. Either way, just soak the thing in your sink in cold water for at least one hour to pull salt from the meat. If you like, you can soak in 3 hours or even overnight. This next step is very important! Be sure that the ham will fit into your crockpot. If you have to, cut it in half, throw half of it in the freezer for Christmas and throw the other half into the crock pot for Thanksgiving! It will be so tender that it will start to fall off the bone anyway, so you won’t really know that you butchered it before you even started cooking it. Cook it on low for 10 hours or you can cook it for 6 hours. Either way, you don’t have to babysit it! No buying tons of foil, no cooking yourself half to death, no running up your electricity bill!

Same thing for the turkey breast. Make sure that it will fit into your crock pot. Put it in there and season it heavily. I mean heavily. Like two to three times what you usually use as far as seasoning. When I was young, my mom used to put the turkey in about four or five layers of aluminum foil .  It’s only been recently that she started getting those turkeys in a bag.  I don’t use the bag turkeys that much. The one time I did it I didn’t have  a good experience.  So I went back to using the foil method. If you use the foil method, a turkey is in the oven and you have it all wrapped up, you have usually put seasoning on top of the bird and because of the foil, the seasoning will infuse into the meat. Well, it’s a little bit different with the crock pot. Condensation occurs and a lot of times the seasoning can end up at the bottom. So, if you like, you can turn the turkey breast so that the breast side is down and the ribs are facing up. That way, you know the seasoning will be in the meat. Just be careful when you pull it out because if its super tender, the whole thing will fall apart! But if you leave it right side up, season it heavily and he should be fine. So, that in total makes two items that you don’t have to worry about so far.

Up next is breakfast. I do not enjoy cooking breakfast on Thanksgiving morning or Christmas morning. Call it selfish if you want, I just dont. I would rather be doing other things with my family. Also, I like it when we can eat at the same time and everybody relax! So I came across a recipe from one of the members of a networking group that I used to belong to. It was oven baked french toast. Now for some reason, I thought I share this recipe on the blog before, so don’t be surprised if you read about it before. But in 15 minutes you can have about 20 to 30 pieces of baked french toast. & I mean it is good. No, I mean gooood!!! I have seen the recipe on Pinterest and some other places, but it’s a slightly different spin. I have seen the recipe on Pinterest and some other places, but its a slightly different spend. This recipe is a no fail. And understand, I can really screw up recipe! Lol so I can get it right every time, there must be a whole bunch of Jesus in it!!

As of now, this is all I can think of to help you guys out. Like I said, I might not even be cooking this year. We have a plan B, which is to either eat Chinese for Thanksgiving or to buy one of the premade dinners from Food Lion. I know I just rocked some of your worlds, but please don’t think that we are doing it for some reason to be pitied. It’s because we just want to rest and enjoy each other.  And I will be going all in for Christmas!

So what do you do to save time?

Family Room Entertainment Center Makeover

Hi guys!

This post is a little weird.  Like the other ones are normal, right?  Anyway, our family room has a massive Thomasville entertainment center that we’re not using.  Why aren’t we using it?  Because the people I live with are “special”.  Ok, full disclosure, the TV fits inside, but the children couldn’t see the tv from the kitchen island where they ate.  So my husband opted (much to my protest) to put the tv on top.  Yeah, it solved the problem, but to me it’s an eyesore.  Don’t worry, I’ll get my way eventually. (mwah ha haaaaa!)  Since it was left as an empty shell, I was very frustrated.  I only paid $35 for the thing so I had every intention of using it.  And on a side note, who pays only $35 for a Thomasville piece like this?  God’s kids, that’s who!  Ok, back to the entertainment center.  It had a ton of space that wasn’t being utilized.  I mean, the bottom shelves were, but there was only a Jenga game sitting in the vast 3 x 3 x 4 or so cubic feet of space inside.  Wasted space drives me nuts, especially when there’s an abundance of  clutter sitting around!

So I decided to go all gangsta on this piece.  Lol!!!!  I took all of my daughter’s & my craft supplies and sorted them out.  Then I considered that all of our Wii stuff needed a good home.  I was going to use 3M hooks, but I was being cheap & lazy.  I tried to draw a layout of how all of the Wii remotes, Wii steering wheels, the golf thing, the tennis racket and the baseball handles were to go.  Yeah… instant headache.  I teach math, not engineering, people!!  So I sipped some tea and realized that I had baskets & bins sitting around that I’d begun to hate.  I got some off the counter, filled them with Wii stuff, grabbed an old basket & filled it with scrap cardboard & pulled out some old wire shelving that I’d chucked in the hall closet.  After all that, I came up with this!

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I especially love the shelving because all our scrapbook paper fit perfectly.  I even gave my daughter her own shelf.  The grey hardware storage (the thing with the labels on the front of the drawers) house beads, blue, paint, yarn and all manner of tools & stuff.  This is not too bad I think.  Much better than before.IMG_20151117_072336

And it all neatly fits inside this big, brown behemoth!IMG_20151117_072359

So, on to part 2 of this makeover.  We used to house snacks in dollar tree bins beside the fridge.  It was nice at first (cuz that area was super messy & they served their purpose).  But I’m not playin’ about classing this place up, y’all!  So I took some stands from my store & filled them with good for you goodies.IMG_20151117_072218 IMG_20151117_072201 (1) IMG_20151117_072144

I found the stands from Christmas Tree Shops for $5 each.  They didn’t come with the plates.  I got a huge haul of  about a dozen clear plates & saucers at a garage sale for about $3.  It was crazy!!!  But I know you can get clear plates at Dollar Tree.  I may see if the white, square plates from Dollar Tree would fit.  I plan to get rid of all of our old kiddie containers and organization & upgrade it to the “grown folk” look.  I’m also upgrading the silverware and possibly the place mats.  I’ll keep you in the loop.  So let me know what you think about my mini makeover!

 

Tonya

Introducing My Friend: Squit Squit

Today, I must reveal one of my big cleaning secrets.  I keep it hidden in plain sight because it’s just too cute.  He blends in with my decor every time I refill him.  Who is it?  Squit Squit!

IMG_20151111_050248

I can’t believe I never introduced him to you before!  Well, here he is!!  No guys, I haven’t lost it this time.  This little dude is just my LIFESAVER!  I wrote a post this past summer about cleaning & organizing my countertops.  Maybe you remember these pics (aka I can’t find my own post where I originally wrote about it):

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counter view 1 counter view3 counter view4

Do you notice my little guy?  See those counters shine?!  That’s his handiwork.  So, let me give one little confession.  Even though the bottle says Windex, it’s not Windex any more.  It’s Lysol!  Yes, with a little effort & maybe a broken nail, you can screw off the top, rinse it out and refill with the cleaner of your choice.  It even has a lock feature so the little ones can’t spill it or go bananas squirting it at each other.  You may wonder what happened to my other cleanser.  It’s still our main go-to.  I still use my hubby’s secret cleaning mix everywhere else, but it’s all about Squit Squit on the counters (for now).  Here’s the type of Lysol I’m using.  There are other scents, but I’m traditional.

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It’s working well so far on pretty much everything.  Well…except one thing.  The catch tray for the water/ice dispenser.  I’ve tried some of everything (short of straight bleach) but not luck so far on getting the perfect clean I’m looking for.  But that’s another post…

So, I hope you enjoyed my little hidden gem!  Go grab one for your kitchen, bath or classroom (works great on removing dry eraser-spot test first, though!)

Until next time, take care!

Tonya

My Crazy Idea of the Week: Make Money By Paying Your Bills! (This isn’t a Sales Pitch, Promise!)

Hey guys.  I’ve been mulling something over & I want to know what you think.  I own a business & have a PayPal debit card that I use for it.  Now, I love it when my email dings telling me I’ve earned cash back from using my card.  But one day (a particularly broke day) I was like, “Man, if I could pay my bills with this card, I’d make a killing!”

Wait.

What did I just say?

Could that work?

Could that actually work?

I bet it would work!  Shoot, that’s free money!  Maybe not a ton, but it would pay another bill!  (Or buy some shoes, a purse, a hairdo, some clothes, a maid for a day, a Christmas gift or two, gas in the car…)

Where’s my calculator??!?!??!

So this is where I went into “due diligence” (research) mode.  I checked out their site and saw this:

Cash Back Program.

  1. Cash Back. The Debit Card provides 1% cash back on the net amount of your eligible monthly purchases. Net amount means all eligible purchases minus reversals for any reason including returns and refunds. It may take up to forty-eight (48) hours after enrollment for you to begin accruing cash back.
  2. Eligibility. To be eligible for the cash back program:
    1. You must have a PayPal Premier or PayPal Business Account.
    2. Your Business Debit Card purchase must be an online or signature-based purchase that does not require a PIN (personal identification number). Some merchant locations offer you the option of choosing “Credit” or “ATM/Debit” when making a payment. To qualify for cash back, you must choose the “Credit” option.
      1. Transactions eligible for cash back include: purchases you sign for; purchases from online merchants; and catalog or telephone purchase.
      2. Transactions that are not eligible for cash back include: purchases that require your PIN and cash withdrawals.
      3. Merchants may process your Debit Card payments as PIN-less debit transactions. If processed in this manner, the transaction will not be eligible for cash back.
    3. Your Debit Card must be in good standing at the time you make an eligible purchase and when PayPal makes the cash back payment. Fraudulent transactions are not eligible for cash back.
  3. Payout. The cash back will be calculated at the end of each calendar month and added to your PayPal Account Balance. Payouts must be at least $1.00 USD per month for the amount to be added to your PayPal Account Balance. Otherwise, $0.00 USD will be added to your PayPal Account Balance for that previous month.
  4. Your Business Debit Card must be active (used for at least one eligible online or signature based purchase) in the past twelve (12) consecutive months or your account will no longer be enrolled in the Cash Back Program. You must re-enroll in Cash Back to be eligible to begin accruing cash back again.

Well…I don’t see any reason why I couldn’t do that!  Especially if I used our bill paying account as the backup source for the card.  So what do you guys think?  Crazy or no??

Tonya

Disclaimer:  I didn’t make any money from this post.  PayPal hasn’t paid me to promote their product.  This is just an idea that popped into my head.  I’ll make money if I decide to try it, though!  But it was not as a result of any communication/payment/promotion from or with PayPal.