Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Little Word: TODAY

It’s December 31st again, what? This year has flown by, and I’m excited to get into the next one. Usually I’ve got a touch of seasonal depression around this time of year, but I’m feeling really good right now about, well, just about everything! Teaching, my students, lesson plans, our photography business, Chris, the cats, my awesome friends, creating projects, and everything else this new year will hold. It all just feels right at the moment, and I honestly can’t remember a time when that’s really been true about everything in life. (Wait, am I jinxing myself? Knock on desk.)

This year I actually chose a phrase for my One Little Word: NO DAY BUT TODAY. The song “Another Day” from Rent is one of my all time faves, and I’ve been getting goosebumps listening to it (on repeat) lately. It’s also a great song to rock out to in the car.

So much will happen this year, so much of it which will take a lot of time, but I’m determined not to let TODAY slip by. Over the last few years, I’ve dedicated a lot of my free time to my job. Like, a lot. Way more than I probably should have, but I’m a perfectionist when it comes to creating and designing for my classroom. Would it be super fast and easy to hand write all my quizzes and tests? Heck, yes, but I just Can’t. Do. It. I have to have them in the same template and format as all my other assessments, and I have to make it professional looking. I just have to. Luckily, after several years of going about lesson planning this way, I’ve got a lot of ready-to-go resources, or at least templates to streamline things. So this is the year I give myself a deadline on planning each night. I’m excited to think of the fun projects (or even just emptying the dishwasher!) that I’ll be able to get to with this extra time.

This is especially exciting because I got a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas, and I’ve already had so much fun with it. Creating with that guy, and really working on Project Life this year to get down our stories as they happen (instead of 3 months later, or over summer break), are my two big creative plans this year.

TODAY also means making time now to be healthy and get my exercise in. I like to play the, “Oh, I’ll go to the gym tomorrow,” game… everyday. Chris got his membership a few months ago, too, and I thought the accountability would be good for both of us, but we’re both just the worst. So we, along with all the other new year’s goal setters in the world, are planning to make more time for the gym this year, along with choosing healthy foods over junk. We’ve slowly over the years begun introducing more unique ideas and foods into our diets (almond milk instead of cow’s, Ezekiel bread, green smoothies, flax and chia seeds, ultimate salads, etc.), so we’ve at least started in the right direction.

TODAY will also mean embracing changes and challenges. I tend to shy away from change. Change scares me. It’s different, and I don’t like it at the time. Yet I always end up loving the “New”, whatever it ends up being. New job, new house, new friends, new cameras, even new office chairs. We’ve got quite the big change coming this year– we’ve decided this is the year we try to bring a tiny human into the world. Yes, the ultimate change and challenge. I am equal parts terrified and so excited, and we’re not even pregnant yet. This is something we’ve been looking forward to for so long, and now that the time is finally right it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. I am hoping by taking time for myself this year, and releasing the “teaching is my whole life” aspect, that I’ll figure out how to balance the work life with the new family life we’ll be finding ourselves in. It will be big changes for both of us, work-wise, but like I said at the beginning, I’m feeling surprisingly good about this year and what’s in store.

So that’s that! My word for this year, my reasoning, my hopes and fears, and all that good stuff. This is the last post of 2014, which was a great year. We worked hard and played hard, took time for friends and families, loved on our cats a ridiculous amount, and came out of it stronger than ever as a couple. Here’s to 2015 being an equally fabulous year, if not more so!

Monday, December 29, 2014


So this was quite an amazing Christmas for me; my husband’s parents got me a Silhouette Cameo! I was not expecting this, so suffice to say I could barely finish unwrapping the box when I realized what it was. I think I just laid my head on the box and cuddled it for a minute while feeling completely overwhelmed.

“Oh, yeah,” my husband says. “They told me they were getting that for you.”

“Why didn’t you stop them!? Why didn’t you tell them it was too expensive?!” This is going on full in front of everyone at Christmas, by the way.

He shrugs. “They do what they want.”

Good grief. I owe them about 5 grandchildren now.

This was the first Christmas I can recall in recent years that I’ve actually had something I’ve been itching to play with all day. As soon as presents were done, I plugged that baby in and got to work. And by getting to work, I do mean setting it up step by step, exactly as the directions indicated and reading every word of the manual. Sadly, even reading the directions insanely carefully didn’t keep me from cutting out giant notches at the top of my cutting mat right off the bat. Sigh.

I’m not going to lie; it was a bit of a struggle at first. Turns out my laptop’s CD player has decided to go on strike, so I had to download the software from the Slow Moving Internets of Oak Glen. That took awhile. But finally we were up and running, and I was figuring out how to access the library and hemming and hawing over what my first shape would be. Of course, I picked one a wee too intricate and made it a wee too small and had my settings a wee bit off, so it was crap. Then I switched to fabric, since my mother-in-law had a nice stack of scraps going, and I had to show her how I was going to make cute onesies for those five grandkids soon. (My husband is pretending he doesn’t hear this.)

I was determined to get something workable out of the day’s practice. After much trial and error, I finally got this adorable guy mostly cut. I had to trim up a couple of spots where the fabric didn’t quite part ways. Baby T #1’s (future baby, not pregnant, calm down, people) first handmade onesie will be Christmasy and it will be adorable!

My mother-in-law says, “How will you sew it on the onesie without it fraying?”

Dang it. I really have no idea what I’m doing with fabric. Of course I can’t just iron this on without it actually being an iron-on. But I’m keeping it anyway, and I’ll probably hand sew it on in some weird fashion just to use it because like I said, it was my first real cut-out with my Cameo.

Now we’re back home, and I still have one blessed week off from school, so I busted Cam out again. (Yes, I’ve given him a nickname. And yes, Cam is a him.) This time I decided to keep with my actual strengths, so out came the paper. I was really in the mood to do more than just randomly pick a couple of designs, so I decided to try my hand at my own creations. I recently downloaded the Adobe Shapes app and have been itching to get a sharpie and play with some doodling. Since I’m also trying to plan out some ideas for the start of my next Project Life album, and I wasn’t really finding a fun 2015 shape on Pinterest, I went for making my own.

I can’t believe how incredibly easy it was.

Now to be fair, I have the most updated version of Photoshop, plus a Creative Cloud account (thank you, photography business), and the Shapes app goes hand in hand with both, so I don’t know how easy this is without the Creative Cloud connection syncing shapes automatically, but I can’t imagine it’s much harder.

To make your own Photoshop shape with the Adobe Shape app:

Step 1: Draw your doodle/word/quote on a white piece of paper, using dark lead or ink. I used a thick black Sharpie. You want to use white paper, because contrast is your friend here.

Step 2: Use the Shape app to capture the image. Clean the image up using the app’s instructions and tools.

Step 3: Save the shape. If you have Creative Cloud, saving will automatically sync to your library, and you should be able to find your shape quickly when you open Photoshop. If you don’t have Creative Cloud, I think you can just save the image on your phone, get the picture to your computer with whatever way is easiest, and then open the image in Photoshop.

Step 4: In Photoshop, you may need to fill in the shape. Mine had lots of hollow spots, because the app mostly goes for the outline of the shape. I had to rasterize the shape so I could fill it in with black.

Step 5: Making a custom shape! Click on the Magic Wand tool, then click anywhere on your design. If there are multiple pieces that aren’t touching, just click on the other pieces to add them to the selection. Right click the image and select Make Work Path, and a little box will pop off with the tolerance setting. I set mine to 1, because… why not? Truth moment: I don’t really know what this does. Usually I’d ask my graphic-design-degree husband, but he’s busy playing League of Legends, so I’m on my own for this endeavor. Anyway, Photoshop will create a path around the design. Why do you need this? Honestly, because “Define Custom Shape” in the edit menu will stay grayed out until you do this part. That’s the only reason I’ve got. So now that you’ve done it, “Define Custom Shape” suddenly becomes an option, and bam! It tells you to name your shape and then you’re done! The shape gets tucked away in the custom shapes section for when you want to use it.
Note: you can also make a brush out of your design here, as well. Just choose “Define Brush Preset” from the Edit menu. It’s right above the custom shape option. I did both.

Okay! Man, all that work at the start made me hungry, so in between designing and cutting I did a sushi run for us…which also involved a stop at Costco for our holiday pictures… and a stop at Michaels to check out their vinyl products….

So this is the part where I had to do some research to figure out how to get my shape into the Silhouette Studio software. The instructions I found were to save the image as big as possible, make a jpeg, then open said jpeg in SS. I did this, and my jpeg opened up about 5 sizes bigger than the 12×12 mat. Could’ve probably gone smaller. I zoomed way out to see the whole thing, selected the Trace option, then pulled the traced shape out of the jpeg and moved it onto the image of the cutting mat. Send to Silhouette.

And look how cool it came out! Even my husband was impressed, and that takes a lot. :)

PS- using an xacto knife instead of buying the expensive spatula = win.

After all my not-so-good attempts from before, I wised up and cut it out first on scrap blank paper before putting in the real deal. This is my last black and white dotted card from the Midnight kit, and it is a card I love, so I couldn’t sacrifice it lightly. The trial went great, but in true Me fashion, I didn’t pay close enough attention to the cut marks on the mat when I stuck down my card. The “t” is falling off the left side. This is why it’s a terrible idea to sing along with Rent (the filmed, Broadway version) while trying to do detailed work.

I take it back. The filmed Broadway version of Rent is the best thing to watch/sing along with while crafting. It narrowly beats out the Les Mis 20th anniversary live show, but it does beat it.

Anyway, I made it work. Just tucked the word right up to the edge of the paper so it looks like it wraps around the edge. Like I intended to do it all along, right?

And now I have my title card for the first page of my 2015 album! (Card and gold dots are from one of the Heidi Swapp Project Life value kits I bought at Michaels.) Yes, it took extensively longer than any card normally does, but I’m so happy with all the things I learned along the way. Now I’m super confident about making my own designs in the future. Or at least, this future week. Once school starts up again I seriously doubt I’ll have too much time to do longer craft activities like this one.

Ooh, speaking of school… I was supposed to spend today lesson planning… whoops.

Anyone want the design? Like I said, I couldn’t really find any 2015 title designs when I went looking this morning, so maybe this will help someone else who’s on the same mission. :) I’m putting up the links for the Photoshop brush version (an abr file) and the Silhouette design (a studio3 file) into Box for easy downloading.

Merry Christmas! Back to inequalities and exponential functions I go!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Christmas!

From the T family! We’ve had a scrumptious time eating delicious food and enjoying each other’s company and thoughtful gifts. Lots of creativity-enabling gifts all around this season, so it’s sure to be a crafty year for all of us!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

This & That #1

1. I have been trying to catch up on NCIS lately. Finally made it to the part of last season where Ziva’s replacement shows up. I really, really wanted to hate her, but darn it if they didn’t come up with the most ridiculously awesome and entertaining character to take the sting out of Ziva’s loss. Emily Wickersham, you’ve made me a fan.

2. Man, gift wrapping is becoming more and more complicated.

3. I really want to make these coasters. That means I have to re-learn how to crochet. And how to read crochet directions. And how to crochet properly.

4. That first link from #3 is on Green Wedding Shoes. Also on Green Wedding Shoes? Next to Me Studios! That’s us! Chris got Jon + Laura’s wedding featured on GWS on Thursday, 12/4. Woot!

5) In between my NCIS binges, I’ve been rocking it out musical style to Rent. (The live Broadway version, not the silly movie.) My laptop recently stopped playing DVDs, which was a bummer for my Rent disc, but luckily for me the whole dang thing is up on Youtube.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fall is for Football

It’s gotten a bit crisp around here. Perfect for going out to the field after school and watching my 8th grade boys play flag football! Man, if you want nostalgia, watch a middle school football game. You’ll wonder how in the world you suddenly ended up an adult, because wasn’t it just yesterday you were that little?!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

1. Where in the world does all my time go? I just want time to sit and do nothing! (End of rant; if I let myself continue, it’ll take up the other 9 items.)

2. What we’re learning in class: In Math 8 (8th grade math), we’re in the middle of our statistics unit. We just learned about strong vs weak correlation, and we’ve moved from that right into estimating the correlation coefficient. Is it on the Common Core standard for 8th grade math? Not really… (though the CC standards are so vague it probably can’t hurt)… but it’s in our Connected Math books, and so we do it. My kids are doing wonderfully on it any rate. I’ve been baby stepping them toward the idea of guessing the strength of a scatter plot’s correlation with a sliding scale (as strong as possible, very strong, pretty strong, not very strong, etc.), so the jump to using numbers to describe the strength wasn’t too much of a stretch, thankfully.

3. What we’re learning in class: In Algebra, we’re finishing up our Properties of Real Numbers unit. It’s been a relief for my kiddos, who started out the year with a full blown unit on functions (including function transformations, sequences, recursive and explicit formulas, and all kinds of other crazy stuff that was never in Algebra 1 before Common Core). Today was gloriously beautiful, so we agreed if they could handle it, we’d go up to the lunch tables to work on the practice test. It was a wonderfully peaceful fifth module, and my kids found some random places to hunker down with their work (one girl balanced–for the whole module, mind you– on the metal handrail that leads down the stairs to the 6th grade classrooms. Wish I could post that picture, but the girls around her are facing the camera and recognizable, so here’s a farther away photo of the kids at the tables.

4. In business news, we have been ridiculously busy this month. October ended up being out craziest month of 2014, with I think 5 weddings total. We’ve still got 2 more to do before the month is out, so relaxing weekends (ha!) are definitely not happening around here. We’re looking forward to having most of December off, save a couple family shoots really early in the month.

5. Two weekends ago, we had a double header weekend, where we had a wedding on Friday, followed by a wedding on Saturday. This was the first ever time I’ve asked for time off at my school, and I’m still shocked I got the go ahead. Normally I don’t ask for time off for Friday weddings–Chris will just hire a second on those occasions–but this wedding was in Palm Springs, so it would have required us to pay a second shooter for a hotel night and travel costs. Way too much. So I was able to leave my lovely kiddos in the hands of a substitute, and Chris and I left Thursday night, stayed the night with his parents, shot a gorgeous wedding at the magnificent ACE hotel, crashed at his parent’s house again, and took off Saturday morning back to San Diego, going straight to the hotel where Bride #2 was getting ready. It was a whirlwind for sure.

6. And before I forget, we had the Amigo Booth for both of those weddings, and you know I love photo booths. ;) I’ve already posted a few from the ACE hotel wedding, but here’s one from the Karl Strauss venue from Saturday. I was feeling sassy that night.

7. This picture. I die. That cat loves Chris way too much, to an annoying amount most of the time, where he has to be put out of the office so Chris can get work done (or play video games). On this night, Jack curled right up against Chris’ chest and just contentedly watched his human play.

8. I am really looking forward to fall break next week. Just two more days to go! I’ve got big plans to work ahead on my next few units, so let’s cross our fingers this actually occurs, yes? Breaks have a way of making you think you’ve got all the time in the world, then the Sunday-before-the-Monday-you-go-back comes out of nowhere and slaps you in the face.

9. Oh, yeah! Speaking of fall, we’re gearing up for our Fall Mini-Shoots soon. (Because we aren’t doing enough shooting already, right?) These are fun because they’re short and sweet and they bring out all our fave clients who want Christmas card pics. Win for everyone!

10. We did my sister’s engagement shoot on Saturday. The night before, I literally had a dream that she was only four-years-old. But look at her, all old and marriable! Just a few more months till the #davisidos!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

4 Years.

Today one of my 8th graders asked who my best friend was. “My husband!” I said. (Obvi, As the 8th graders say.)

Who else is going to cheese ball around with me like this?

Or this?

Or how 'bout this one?

Four and a half years ago he asked me to marry him, and I said yes with absolutely no hesitation. He is my amazing best friend, my scruffy faced hotty. The only other person who cracks up with me every time  Blurred Lines, Royals, or Get Lucky comes on because we sing the Jimmy Fallon/Rashida Jones/Carrie Underwood Christmas lyrics instead.

I sure love that guy. We celebrated four years this week, and I think we’ll keep this BFF thing going for quite a while more. ;)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This week in 8th grade...

  • My last class surprised a birthday girl who came late by pretending to be deep in thought on the warmup when she came in, only to start playing Dora the Explorer’s happy birthday song insanely loudly over the speakers when she was about to take her seat.
  • I left my purse in the Language Arts room at lunch. Twenty minutes into 4th module, one of our burliest 8th grade guys walks into my room, my purse swung over his shoulder, and waltzes through all the tables to deliver it to me. I didn’t even realize he had my purse till he reached me.
  • “I’m wearing a skirt today!” from a gymnastics lover who’s always pulling her leg over her head. She was taking a chance with skirts (totally remember feeling that way when I was that age!) and was feeling proud of it.
  • “I’m wearing a skirt today!” the other gymnastics lover who’s always pulling her leg over her head. Same exact same thing. Why are 8th graders so cute when they’re so pleased with themselves?
  • I asked for the gentlemen in my first module to pull down the empty chairs in our room (I have a half class there in the mornings), and on Monday a couple girls ended up just doing it themselves. One of the boys: “Well, they’re already getting it.” Me: “A real gentleman would take the chairs from them and say, ‘No, ladies, allow me.'” Every day this week, two of the boys have made sure to take down all the chairs before the girls get a chance. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Life of a Photographer

It ain’t easy being a photographer…

But sometimes there’s a photo booth.

(This one specifically is the fantabulous AmigoBooth, which we offer in our wedding packages. I’m not biased in the slightest when I say, the pictures from this booth blow all other rinky dink photo booths out of the water. It does have one downfall though… Your photographers may disappear for a few minutes to have some AmigoBooth fun of their own.)

A September Day in the life

7am: Wake up!

7:40am: Arrive at school. On this particular day I was all set to prep some stuff, but a parent came in to chat and I just barely got the warmups passed out before my kids showed up at the door. (Oops, I was supposed to get them before they gave up hope that I was coming for them.)

8:10am: First module, which is my 14 kid module. This year those 14 kids are pretty quiet, which is vastly different from last year’s 14. But I also have some low kids in that class, so it’s nice to be able to give more individual attention then. Today we learned functions.

9:25am: Second module, where I do the same lesson again, but with 28 kids who are much more enthusiastic about it. They LOVE functions! They especially love that I teach them to recognize them by the x values that are “cheating” on their y boyfriends/girlfriends. And they are just as outraged that the y values are “allowed” to cheat on their x boyfriends/girlfriends. Sometimes math isn’t fair. In this class, Stinson and his sixth graders filtered in to get Chrome books (I am keeper of the quad Chrome book carts this year, huzzah!), and Stinson decided to steal one of my kiddos’ lunch. Said kiddo chased him out the door and ended up on an errand for the principal after that.

10:40am: Third module, where I do the same lesson again with a different 28 kids, who are equally enthusiastic about functions. My “intern” stopped by to observe today (a future math teacher who’s putting in observation hours), and I put him to work helping me throw awesomesauce cards around the room when someone correctly explained to me that the table we were looking at was not a function, before I’d even explained it. (My kids are geniuses!)

11:55am: Lunch. I went to Subway today and got my usual turkey sandwich toasted. I mention this now because this is totally out of the ordinary for me. The toasted part, not the going to Subway part, that is a regular part of my life.

12:25pm: Prep period. A parent volunteer came in today to make copies for us, so I spent the module going through next week’s lessons and gathering the papers I need copies of. She made ALL my copies for next week for me, what a great day! :)

1:45pm: It was my day to run snack shack. No one really bought anything, probably because water’s gone up to fifty cents and non one wanted to leave the shade of the lunch tables. So I spent the twenty minutes talking with Mikayla and Sarah about In n Out (Sarah’s never been!), Chipotle, and slurpees.

2:05pm: Fifth module, which is my Algebra module. We surprised Christina, who turned 13 today, by playing Dora the Explorer’s Happy Birthday song when she came in to class late. We talked about and graded the practice problems from yesterday… finding the domain and range of graphs, not an easy topic, but they seem okay with it so far. Then we had fun making an extensive foldable about relations, domain, range, and functions. This class is actually my loudest class, which is funny since they’re also my most advanced class. Last year’s equivalent class was so quiet while dutifully doing their work; these kiddos are SO loud while dutifully doing their work. Oh, and Mr. Keough came in to pass out licorice to all my kids; I requested him to go around the room a second time so they’d be chewing and I could explain our next activity. (Like I said, they’re loud kids.)

3:15pm: Pickup in the hot, hot sun. Put 8th graders into cars, chatted with some parents, chatted with Keough about how funny it is that my Algebra kids are so loud.

3:45pm: Back to the classroom to clean up and set things up for tomorrow.

4:00pm: McDonald’s drive through for a blessed coke.

4:15pm: Home! While I was gone, we had our house cleaned top to bottom, and boy does it look and smell nice right now! Gave Chris a good bear hug and told him about my day, while he told me about his.

4:30pm: Checking emails, sending out reminders to parents, updating the class blog, etc.

5:30pm: Made some canned chili for dinner; Chris went to meet some old co-workers for drinks.

6:00pm onward: And now I’m here working away at future lessons, with Jack fast asleep on the desk beside me. Well, technically I’m breaking to blog, but in about thirty seconds, I’ll be back at the planning.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Around Here

Just to show a few things going on currently….

Hand cutting classroom decor

Seeing Once in a giant group, including Daniel and Jackie.

A new baby Holz! Seen at the beginning of year school barbecue.

Chris getting to sleep in with our own adorable babies.

Finally, they are getting used to just coming in the office to hang out, instead of reek havoc.

Be still my heart; baby Cowen is insanely cute. And on the blog!

Also on a blog, this time RusticWeddingChic, you can find Marc and Allison’s wedding from last summer! Hurray for being published!

First day of school friends dinner, because the Cowen’s happened to be down here. We went to Miguel’s for dinner and drinks Monday, then watched the kids play in the fountain while we hung out.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Beginning

It’s that time again!

Pull out those uniforms, kids, and make sure you’ve got yourself enough pencils to the last year!

(No, seriously. Please make sure you get enough pencils to last the whole year. I’m so over running out by January.)

Last minute, hand cut classroom decor/inspiration.

Wowzers, my homeroom parents came through this year on Kleenex and wipes. I got more this year with my class of 14 than I did the year my homeroom size was 34.

This year’s classroom setup, which is the same as last year’s because I don’t like change.

First day of school outfit

Drawers literally bulging with math journal supplies. (If only they didn’t dwindle so fast…)

Here’s to a fantastic 2014-2015 school year!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's that time of year again...

T-1 days until school officially starts. And once again I’ve a mix of feelings. These feelings include:
  • excitement
  • devastation
  • creativity
  • disappointment
  • energetic
  • exhausted
  • thinking, “yeah, I’m the best teacher ever!”
  • thinking, “holy crap, how did I ever get hired to teach children?”
I don’t know why the looming thought of the beginning of the year causes so much doubt and despair, but it always does. I never feel prepared. I never feel adequate. I never feel like I want to get to know 130 new thirteen year olds, even though I said that at the beginning of last year and I ended up loving those kids so freaking much.

Summer was just too fast this year. I worked too hard to really enjoy it. And even though all that hard work is paying off now (I actually feel like I’ve got a real handle on these Common Core math standards now), man, it just feels so daunting.

All right. It’s time to man up. I’ve got some more wall decorations to cut out.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Texas: Day Four

Lunch at Stubb’s, sunbathing at Barton Springs, happening upon an Austin summer concert at Zilker Park, and sushi takeout and drinks to finish up the day. Oh, and lots of Studio App love. ;)

Barton Springs was freezing. Even in July. We couldn't wade in more than mid-belly without wanting to die. So we contented ourselves by sitting on the hillside reading.

Across from Barton Springs was Zilker Park, and there just so happened to be an outdoor concert series going on. We wandered over to look at the booths, listen for a bit, and have a chocolate dipped banana!

For our last dinner in Austin, we decided to order takeout sushi to bring back to the condo for a little dinner and a movie in. It was just the thing after being out in the sun all day. While we waited for our order to be made, the waitress convinced us to try some cocktails. I don't remember what was in mine, but it was yummy!

This was our last day in Austin. Tomorrow we wake up bright and early and head to Fort Worth to spend the rest of our vacation with Chris' cousin Hunter and his wife.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Texas, Day Three

Still in Austin. Today we did lunch at Hillside Farmacy, went to the LBJ Museum and the Capitol Building, watched the bats fly from the South Congress bridge, and finished the night off with Thai from a food truck circle.