You Know It's Spring When....

You know it's spring when Upcycled Education gets hundreds of hits a day from Crafterhours and their amazing Tee-to-Tank Tutorial with yours truly as the model.  Ha!

But seriously, how easy and fun are those tanks to wear, right?  I loooove them and who doesn't have a spare t-shirt in need of a revamp.

Go make yours now!


Rainbow Loom Project Update

Did you ever wonder what $1400 looked like all stacked up in cash and checks?

Did you ever wonder what 3,600 Rainbow Loom bracelets looked like all together?

Wonder no more.  You all rock.  Really, you do.   In fact, I think you are way incredible.  

Thanks to kids and families from all over the US and Canada, we collected over 3,600 Rainbow Loom bracelets and $1400 in cash/checks.  Many people donated online - I don't have those totals yet - but, my guess is with the online donations, cash, checks and coaches' pool from yesterday's blog post, we raised well over $2,000 for AHOPE.  $2,000!

The generosity and creativity in the packages that arrived was fantastical.  I mean, look at that "hugger" bracelet above?

There were so many bracelets, Mr. UpCyclist had to wrangle them.

At one point, I made Lil O a Rainbow Loom bed.  That's how many bracelets you all made and donated.

There were Rainbow Loom creations for as far as the eye could see.  Like a sea of color and love.

I now know how many Rainbow Loom bracelets can fill a gallon-size Ziploc bag.  Around 300 - give or take a few - in case you were wondering.  Your donations filled 12 of those gallon-sized Ziplocs.  12!

The packages.  The hand-written notes from kids.  The dollar bills crammed inside - like kids had donated their allowance.  The $100 checks from total strangers.  The love for kids halfway around the world who are orphans, HIV+, and who need the support of AHOPE. It really was incredible to see the giving.

When I gave Julie from AHOPE all the donations.  She cried.  I cried.  These are the kids that aren't adopted and are left behind.  These are the kids who struggle to stay alive, have lost their parents, have no abundance of toys, books or things.  

Now, these Rainbow Loom creations will find their way to Ethiopia in early April with the 15 AHOPE volunteers who will be visiting there.  These gifts of love will adorn the arms of boys and girls, children and teens, and their adult allies - a reminder they are valued and important.

I've never used social media for anything like this - anything with such purpose, impact, and selflessness.  Thank you for showing what can happen when we do and when kids relate, create and donate.

A gigantic thank you to these amazing, blogger moms who joined me in launching this project:
Susan from Crafterhours
Ashley Ann from Under the Sycamore
Stacy from Kids Stuff World

And huge thanks to these supporters who continued to carry the torch for us:
Marie from Make and Takes
Amy from Mod Podge Rocks

Forever grateful for all of your support,

If you missed giving to AHOPE and would like to, you make a donation on their webpage here or buy a pair of shoes for the kids/teens at AHOPE using this Amazon wish list (and AHOPE's address: 104 Hume Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301).  Lil O and I picked out two pairs yesterday - one for a girl and one for a boy.  The girly pair was full of sparkles :)  

19 Strangers, 3 hours, and $500

On Tuesday of this week, I blogged about my recent coach training.  Remember how every part of me has changed?

Well, I am not alone.  There were about 20 other people with me.  Twenty other people studying {life} coaching, too.  19 of them were strangers to me; I only knew Julie from AHOPE.

Those 19 aren't strangers anymore.

It just so happens I was bringing to Julie all the Rainbow Loom Project donations on the last day of our class.  I won't share the specifics of how many bracelets were donated at this moment, but tomorrow I will.  Let's just say, it is incredible.  You are incredible.

To make a long story short, our coaching classmates wanted to see the bracelets as most of them weren't familiar with Rainbow Looms (they must not have school-aged children, right?).  Julie and I shared the bracelets and the story behind them and AHOPE and the Rainbow Loom Project.  So much to share.

Then, something magical happened.

Our classmates started writing checks, diving into their wallets for cash, and visiting the ATM at lunch. By the end of class - three hours later - our classmates had given over $500 for AHOPE.


Those 19 strangers.  Those 19 people that neither Julie or I knew 48 hours before.  Those 19 new friends - coaches - showed what can happen when you give and care and want to change the world.

I am grateful for them, their giving, and for Julie - my passionate, talented friend,


Coming for You

I just spent three days at a {life} coaching training in Washington, DC.  Seriously, I don't even know where to begin.

After my last three days of training, I wrote this post and shared how every molecule in my body had changed.  I think that happened again.  Every part of me has changed.

This course was on balance - life, work, relationship, any balance - and how to help myself and others achieve that. The tools and my new skills are incredible - which may sound completely arrogant - but, I am not kidding.  What I learned is life-changing and because CTI is masterful at teaching (more on that in a moment), I completely had the opportunity to hone my new skills and grow them.  I even used my new skills & tools on a coachee already; the coaching session was transformational for that person and I credit my CTI training.

Now, you know I am a trained educator - a teacher.  I take teaching, learning, and instruction VERY seriously.  Probably my highest compliment in the world is to say a training or class is well done and valuable.  CTI takes "well done" and "valuable" to a level that is nirvana-like. Never in my life have I attended not one, but THREE trainings/classes so thoughtfully crafted and 100% valuable to me and every single person I come in contact with in life.  I am not exaggerating when I say I can use these skills and tools at my college, with students, in my classes, with colleagues, with my family, in my parenting, in all my relationships, and the best part, I can assist others as they move forward in their own lives.

I cannot thank my college enough for supporting me in this training.  Lil O and Mr. U for giving me the thumbs up for taking off every few months for the three-days.  And for Sue, my incredible coach.  Oh, Sue.  I told you over a year ago I wanted your skills - I wanted to be a better listener, communicator, professor, wife, mother, family member, and friend.  You said, Go!  Go take the CTI classes.  You don't have to be a coach to take them.  

I am so grateful for you saying GO!  I am becoming a better me.

....Oh, and World, I'm coming for you!


Honoring the Voices of Others

I just finished a weekend-long coaching training, I'll blog about that another time as I am still digesting it.  In the meantime....

I was driving recently and asked Mr. UpCyclist to make me a food shopping list and text it to me. I suggested he and Lil O plan out the meals for the week; something I normally do for the entire family.  After blogging about the Principles of Legitimacy, I thought, what better way to honor someone's voice - ask them to participate in something useful like planning our menus for the week?

The photo above is a version of the photo Mr. U texted me.  What I love about the menus he and Lil O planned is they are doable, family friendly, and honored their voices in such an easy, carefree way.

In case you can't read Lil O's handwriting, it looks like we will be having grilled cheeses (for lunch), hotdogs and sausages (for dinner), burgers, tacos, steak sandwiches (we all love Trader Joe's packaged "shaved steak"), breakfast for dinner (a family favorite!), pizza, and soup & dumplings.  I like to use the recipe from here for the dumplings - we sub in chicken instead of shrimp.  Wonton wrappers are my new best friend.

Another bonus when you honor others' voices, the buy-in and excitement from them is tremendous.

Whose voice will you honor today?  Yours?  Others?


What Would Jedi Do?

Sometimes when I am stuck on something in life and Sue, the {life} coach, is coaching me, she'll ask....

What would Jedi do?

The answer is like magic, right?  You know what Jedi would do.  He would go with the flow, be in the moment, not fret or worry or try to predict the future.  He would shake things off and then go about his day.

Life lessons from Mr. Furry Pants.

I'll be at a {life} coaching training for the next few days.  Catch up with you soon!


Kennedy Krieger & Feeding Disorders

Kennedy Krieger Institute Logo

I always tell my students that we live in a fantastic area of the country for medical care.  My students and I are literally a 20-40 minute drive to Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, Children's National Medical Center, the National Institute of Health, Mercy Hospital, Sinai Hospital, and Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Recently, in class, my college students and I were talking about feeding disorders - disorders that include either not eating at all, the inability to eat (or swallow), the refusal to eat certain textures, and tube feeding.  One of my students, K, had tremendous experience with feeding disorders as her sibling experienced feeding disorders as a child.

K suggested a practical activity to help children with feeding disorders become more accustomed to solid food and eating.  She said she learned the activity at Kennedy Krieger's Feeding Disorders Program - which is world-renowned for their feeding disorders care and training.  In a five minute time span, encourage the child to:

  • Touch the food five times.
  • Pick up the food five times.
  • Kiss the food five times.
  • Lick the food five times.
It sounds like a game, doesn't it?  If the child doesn't choose to eat the food after that exposure in five minutes, then K was taught to move on and take a break from encouraging eating (or accept the child is not hungry at the moment).

I was wondering if the "five times" strategy might be helpful to kids without feeding disorders, too. Kids who are either picky eaters or hesitant to try new foods.

What do you think?  


Birthdays, Salsa Dancing, and Star Wars

As you know from yesterday's post (and the post before the weekend), we celebrated two birthdays this past weekend - Lil O and my mom's.  Now, it is time to wish my mom a very happy birthday!  Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you more.

Those cakes, by the way, were made by my uber-talented mother-in-law.  She even handcrafted those fondant flowers herself.  If you missed her KFC cake, check it out here.  I mean, really?

Not to divulge too much steamy information, but Mr. UpCyclist and I met salsa dancing.  To get back to our roots, we are taking the "30-Day Salsa Challenge," which we totally made up.  We are going to dance one salsa song a day for 30-days - no matter the time of day or our energy level.  Gone are the days where I'd dance in heels and slinky outfits and Mr. U in button down shirts and his favorite Banana Republic pants.  Now, we embrace slippers, socks and pajamas.  Ha!  Here's to 30-days and honoring what brought us together.

Is it just me or do you think there's a lot of confused Lego people at our house?

Enjoying my spring break from home,


PS - We are still sifting through the Rainbow Loom Project packages.  I will share a full update on the blog next week.

Dear Lil O

Dear Lil O,

It is incredibly hard to believe we've been together for nine years, plus one tummy year together.  You bring such joy to my life and to our family.  It is 100% because of you that Jedi joined our family two years ago - remember how you relentlessly kept asking for a dog?  It is because of you that I strive to be a better person.  How can I be the best parent to you if I am not the best me?

Sweet Lil O, your smile captivates me.  Do you see the photos in this blog post?  They are you.  They capture what I get to see and experience on a daily basis.  Your energy, to me, is contagious.

And that soul of yours.  Oh, that soul.  It is wise, intuitive, and compassionate.  Your teacher says your classmates flock to you; they all want to be around you and collaborate on work with you.  I know why. You put others at ease, fervently embrace kindness, and confidently - yet quietly - lead.

Thank you, Lil O, for making each day as your mom a gift.  A gift of laughter, love, happiness, and some days, total silliness.

I treasure you, Lil O, and love you to the moon and back and then to infinity.

I know Daddy and Jedi join me in wishing you a very Happy Birthday.

With so much love,


PS - In case you are wondering who is in the photos with Lil O, that is Annie, my dog-sister, the newest addition to our family.  My mom adopted her a couple of months ago.  She is a four-pound delight.

This Weekend

There's going to be big celebrations happening this weekend in our neck of the woods.  We've got Lil O's birthday.  My mom's birthday.  And the due date for all the Rainbow Loom love.

Catch you on the other side of the weekend!  Have a fantastic one!



Missing This Place

Every once in a while (and maybe more often than that), I miss this place - Breckenridge, Colorado. It's where we have our fun ski condo and where my soul resonates with the Rocky Mountains.  I was too happy, but not the least bit surprised, when Emma from A Beautiful Mess declared her love for Breckenridge, too.  That mountain town is delightful.

Like magic,


PS - Those letters are magnets.  I bought them at Joann's using as many coupons as I could muster as those magnet letters never seem to go on sale.  Our ski condo has a gigantic magnetic board in it; the metal letters will hang there.  You can see them when you visit Breck (wink, wink....even though I'm totally serious).

Send Your Rainbow Loom Creations Today

It's time!  Send all your Rainbow Loom creations today.  Remember to throw in a check made payable to AHOPE for Children.  Remember every single dollar counts, so any amount - $5, $10, $25, $50+ - will do!

I can't wait to see your stuff!  All the details are below and the original post can be found here.



Favorite iPad Apps of Lil O {for Tech Tuesday}

Lil O spins the tunes using edjing

After dinner at our house (and sometimes before dinner) can be a true mix of randomness. Well over a year ago, Lil O saved up and paid for half of an iPad.  Mr. UpCyclist paid the other half.  Sometimes I totally despise that piece of technology.  Other times, when Lil O is using the following apps, I enjoy it as the apps below encourage problem-solving, creativity, and music:

Video Star - Lil O is a music lover.  Really she is.  This app allows her to create the coolest music videos.  You should see the videos she produces.  They are time-consuming, creative and totally entertaining (to me, her and just about everyone else she shares them with).

Edjing - This app allows Lil O to mix, edit and spin her own tunes.  She's like a mini-deejay in training.  Plus, I like how this app makes her think ahead, pay attention to beats & rhythms, and be musically creative.

Sing! - For karaoke lovers, this app is hysterical.  You partner up with people from all over the world to sing duets.  I was concerned about the safety of this app, but so far, I'm not seeing anything fishy. I'll keep you posted if I do.

And just in case you want to see the randomness that happens sometimes all at once at our house, here you go.  An annotated photo....

What randomness looks like at our house

I so love this kid and all the randomness.


These Packages = Love

We are in the final week of our Rainbow Loom Project.  I say "our" because several people from around the globe have contacted me.  Others want to do a Rainbow Loom Project, too!  How awesome is that?

Lately, going to my PO Box feels like Christmas morning.  It is laced with lovely, soft packages of Rainbow Loom creations and monetary donations for AHOPE (which if you click here, you can donate to AHOPE, too...which would be amazingly lovely).  Each package contains a note - usually a handwritten note from a child - a child reaching across the globe to another child in Ethiopia.  How awesome is that?  Totally, totally, unbelievably awesome. 

It is amazing to me how one project and one incredible organization like AHOPE can bring people together - especially bring kids together.  I've received packages from Missouri, Maryland, Ohio, California, Florida, North Dakota, South Carolina, to name a few.  Some folks have just sent me a check for AHOPE - no Rainbow Loom anything - that's how supportive people are being.

I'm in awe.


Leadership Lesson {Principles of Legitimacy}

Today, I am presenting at a leadership conference.  Though, I don't think I will have time to cover today's leadership lesson, I think it is highly important to anyone in a position of power, which includes leaders, parents, teachers, and employers.

Malcolm Gladwell in his most recent book, David and Goliath, (affiliate link) describes three principles necessary to lead others effectively.  Without each of the three, you might as well plan for defiance, mutiny, or some really crabby children, teens, employees, or college students.

Do you include the following Principles of Legitimacy in your leadership, teaching, and/or parenting style?  People will follow your lead when.....
  1. Laws and rules are predictable and consistent.
  2. All groups and people are treated fairly and equally.  That means, no playing favorites.
  3. The people you lead have a voice and their voice is heard.
It sounds so simple, right?  I know when parenting Lil O, I often times will leave out #3 and make a decision for our entire family.  I'm learning that she has a voice and desires to be heard - just like an adult.  

When I look back at my favorite bosses and supervisors, they honor all of the Principles of Legitimacy.  I call this the leadership trifecta and it is soooo lovely to work with them.

How will you honor the three Principles of Legitimacy?  With your colleagues?  Students?  Children or teens?  What about your partner or significant other?


Reflection Tools - My Ace

Last week, I taught a parenting class.  We talked all about the staying in the growth mindset and how to help others anchor to that mindset most.  I just realized I haven't blogged about that concept. Maybe soon?  I'm actually talking about that topic again today at a tech conference.

One of the best ways to anchor to the growth mindset is to be curious and reflective.  There's a problem with that.  Actually, there are two problems.  Problem #1:  Most public schools, college classrooms, and families are too hurried to allow enough time for curiosity and reflection.  To be curious and/or reflective takes time.  Unhurried time.  Problem #2:  Many adults aren't great at knowing how to encourage curiosity or reflection without being judgmental.

That's where reflection tools come in like the ones from Jennifer's website.  You can pepper in the tools at school or at home.  You can allot a small or large amount of unhurried time.  And, they keep us adults from being judgmental as the tools do most of the guiding and prodding.  Added bonus: They are tactile and colorful - lovely and didatic.

The Quotable cards pictured above are a new favorite of mine.  I used them recently with colleges students.  They brought out curious and reflective dialogue that class.  I think the same would be true for children and teens.

Do you have a favorite reflection tool you use?


Love. This. Quote.

This quote totally speaks to me especially because of my 50 rejections goal and other life events.  It is in Malcolm Gladwell's newest book David and Goliath (affiliate link) - a book I'd recommend, though it wasn't as upbeat as Gladwell's other reads, but still super interesting and eye-opening.

Inline with my {life} coaching training, this quote is absolute truth.  You decide.



Life Updated: The Road Edition

Today is bittersweet.  I'm celebrating all those lovely images above and what they symbolize.  The images are from my Instagram feed.

Today is also my step-father's birthday or would have been.  As you know, he passed away this past May.  I must say the road described in this post doesn't feel as dusty as it did back then.  However, I still sit down on the road, look at the landscape, and take a deep breath when I just need to do so. Though, the road isn't as dusty for me, it still is for some of my loved ones.  Their day-to-day living brings new meaning to the word Brave.

Hug your loved ones tightly today including all those sweet pets.

With xoxo,

Loomed Love

Over the weekend, Lil O and two friends loomed love for the Rainbow Loom Project.  Their focus, creativity, and these photos, say it all, don't you agree?

How was your weekend?