Sunday Jan 28 2018
M slept through the night! The cats are still waking me up too early, but after a solid night’s sleep, I’m feeling good today.
Yesterday was a relaxing day. After a successful and busy week, I was ready to zone out. M, however, was ready for some fun. So my folks took her with them to visit my grandparents for the morning. I was lazy, cleaned a little, watched some of the PBS series “Victoria,” and ate a stack of pancakes for lunch. Then I tutored for an hour. (The other two students canceled – one was sick and the other had a swim meet. The swim meet excuse is becoming very frustrating.)
My brother and his girlfriend are visiting from NY this weekend, so we hung out at my parents’ for the afternoon. It is great to see them and everyone was in a great mood. The whole family is going out brunch today, which will be nice since Christmas was so haphazard this year. But I’ve noticed in the last 6 months or so – at parties over the summer, at family holidays, hanging out with my siblings, etc. – that I don’t have much to say socially. When my brother asked, “so what’s going on?” yesterday, the only topics I could come up with are:
- Work is awesome. I presented to the Board a couple of weeks ago and am getting great feedback. Lots of new projects and hardware coming in. But nobody is particularly interested in the topic of work, so that line of conversation ends quickly. I suppose I could have gone the conductive paint route and shown some videos. I’ll keep that in mind for brunch today.
- M’s lost tooth count, eating habits, or amazing personality & academics. But, unless the other person has kids (SO thankful my cousin and her husband and 3 year old were at Christmas Eve!), this line of conversation goes nowhere fast. People either think I am boring or bragging.
- I refinanced my loans! I realize that NOBODY wants to talk finances, but this is basically the biggest victory I’ve had in a long time. I’m still trying to convince myself that it’s real. Zero people want to hear about it, though.
And that’s all I got. No wonder nobody reads this blog. Thankfully, M is a good distracter, so it’s easy to deflect my lack of conversation. But I’d like to be interesting. I will say that I brought up the topics of Italy (my brother and his girlfriend are planning a vacation there) and Ireland (where his girlfriend is from) and those topics took off. There’s just a lot of men in the family, so I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. But I traveled a lot for a while there, so I could have contributed in those conversations. Today at brunch, I’m gonna try out the conductive paint topic. And maybe I’ll throw in some augmented reality, if people are into it.
1/2 hour distraction….
….Ok, I just set up another Blippar with links to all my social media. I really like the education safety features on this app. On the education accounts, everything is free and unlimited. When I go to publish a new Blippar marker, I am given a code. As long as the students have the code in their Blippar accounts, they can view the overlays on the marker. No code? No access. A nice way to ensure a safe and authentic audience. I love it.
The only change I’d like to see: allow the student accounts to access multiple codes. Or allow teachers to customize and share the codes. Right now, they can only save one code at a time. So either the whole school has to be loading their AR markers on the same account, or the students have to switch codes for each teacher. Still, this is an easy problem to hack, so we’ll use the tool. Layar is also a great AR app, but it’s built for the marketing world and it is EXPENSIVE at 3 pounds per marker.
So Blippar it is, and I think the kids will love it. Maybe I should do a blog post on it, once we get teachers using it a bit.
Two things I’m excited about at work:
- When I met with the Director of Marketing about the spring issue of the bulletin, she asked if I had examples of student work in edtech or topics we could include. I think I talked nonstop for half an hour. I love people’s reactions when I start listing the amazing work our teachers are doing that nobody knows about! Their eyes grow wide and they are speechless. It’s especially exciting to have the Board or the Director of Marketing in these conversations because they have platforms to share the great work and help us grow our programming.
- We are moving forward on robotics integration. Our head reached out to Barbara Bratzel, who is a leader in teaching with Lego robotics. She literally wrote the book on it: STEM by Design: Teaching with LEGO Mindstorms EV3 (affiliate link). We’re trying to set a date for her to come do some PD with our teachers as we prepare to purchase and build curriculum around Lego Education Wedo Construction Set 9580 (affiliate link), the Lego robotics system for elementary school.
On the finances front, the credit card consolidation already funded and my cards are paid off! I can’t believe that it all happened in under a week! Student loans should fund in the next week or so. I’ve been spreadsheeting like crazy – and then just staring at the new numbers. It’s very calming. I expect that it will take a couple months to really feel relief – I need to clean up some old accounts, get used to the new payment dates, figure out how much tutoring is really needed, and let the dust settle a bit – but I’m hoping that by summer I might be able to start building a savings account again.
And did I mention that my takehome pay increased this past week? My federal tax deduction decreased by about $60 per paycheck. That adds up! I’m still nervous about where we are socially as a country. But after a decade of being nervous about where we are financially, I can breathe again, and I am so grateful for the tax relief laws and SoFi’s support (affiliate link).
SoFi (affiliate link) also has free wealth management and advising for their current customers. I’ve been trying to figure out how to find a financial advisor who is appropriate for my financial situation (that is to say, not rich). I’d also like to invest since the market is really good right now, and my financial situation might be able to handle it. SoFi (affiliate link) might be the answer – I’m gonna look into that.
M is up and watching Brooklyn and Bailey – it’s her new favorite YouTube show, and I love it too. They are twins in a big family who have a YouTube diary. Right now, M’s watching their episode about their gratitude tree. I love this idea. Around Thanksgiving, their family gets a big branch, puts it in a vase, and hangs cutout leaves with pictures of things for which they are grateful.
We’ve been talking a lot about kindness this week since it’s the National Great Kindness Challenge Week. (I wish the Great Kindness Challenge happened during Valentine’s Day week in February – shifting from love to kindness would make the holiday so much easier for little kids!) I made this display on the wall outside the Lab:
The picture makes it hard to read the stickies; the big pink and blue signs say “Leave what you can” and “Take what you need.” The idea is that people can take a sticky note with a kindness act or kind words, or post their own. I’m not sure the interactive piece will happen, but the display is a colorful reminder of kindness. Maybe people will interact if I mount a pen, or move it down to the elementary school (I’m on the middle school and administration hallway.) Here’s a pic out the Lab window – I love looking out the windows and seeing some color now:
I’d also like to add some online=offline language, but I threw this up on the wall in like 20 minutes. This is far and away the simplest bulletin board display I’ve ever created. Sometimes I like low-tech even more than hi-tech, when I think about the hi-tech time requirements and learning curve! Thank you very much, Pinterest!
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