Out of the Notebook and into the blog

Thursday, April 16, 2015

College is Competitive And Common Core can Help

Photo by myself, more at Reyna Meinhardt Photography 

College is, and needs to be competitive.  

Things I've learned as a student at the University of St. Thomas, a competitive private college:

1) You must have a strong tool kit of critical thinking skills

2) Real life "soft skills" are crucial. 
3) A common core knowledge in maths and sciences is critical to success.
4) Classes aren't just about memorizing and getting the right answers every time.  
5) Classes are more about applying skills to real life situations, critical thinking, analyzing, and learning how to work with other people. 
6) Being competitive and competent in college is crucial to getting a great job after college.

The kids that enter college without these skills struggle, their grades suffer resulting in a low GPA that is hard to get back up, they end up having to pay more to re-take classes, and often drop out. 

Photo by Joy Prouty 

I was homeschooled and in Minnesota, a homeschooler isn't required to take the yearly  success competitive required exams.  One of the big critiques of these exams for parents was that teachers were teaching just so their students would get good grades on the exams - memorize, memorize, memorize.  My mom worked hard to not teach my brother and I in a memorization only way, but rather in a life skill gaining, tool box, curiosity filled style.  As a result, I feel that I was actually more prepared than my peers in college and I am excited that high school curriculum is making a change in this direction.  

I can vouch that memoriziation isn't going to help in real life - it's about the soft and critical thinking skills.  The new common core assessments are  replacing the previous end of year assessments (!!!) and are great because they ask students to demonstrate and apply what they know, instead of just picking the right answer from a multiple-choice question. (according to Be a Learning Hero)

Photo By myself, more at Reyna Meinhardt Photography

The new common core standards are setting higher standards and using better tests to see if students are reaching the goals needed to put students on a path to success.  It is exciting that we have already seen resulting in improved student performance!  Be a Learning Hero states that "In Kentucky, the first state to begin using the Common Core State Standards, the percentage of high school graduates ready for college and careers has increased from 34 percent to 62 percent in four years."  

Change is hard and it takes time!  Adjusting to new standards, new tests, new homework, etc. is a process, but it's what's best for students.  Be a Learning Hero, partnered with national PTA, is an amazing resource available to parents.  They have a bucket full of wonderful videos to watch that fill you in on the common core and answer questions that you likely have.  They also have some great apps that are approved by teachers and help supplement the common core!  A great tool to get your child ready for next fall.  There is also a homework help section which is a great tool to take advantage of.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Live Refreshed: 5 Non Toxic Candle Picks

Photo: William Sonoma

Burning candles are such a simple way to refresh your life, and a simple reminder to be more mindful.  As a downside - many of them are actually toxic.  

Scented candles often have paraffin wax in them (check the labels!), which creates extremely toxic pollutants.  Relaxing in pollution doesn't sound attractive.  South Carolina State University published this research on candles:

"The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air.  For a person who lights a candle every day for years of just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma. said Massoudi a chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences." 

Yuck!  Luckily, there's a few great alternatives.  

Beeswax candles are my new obsession, because they actually release negative ions - which means they are actually GOOD for the air and help clean and refresh the air in your apartment and homes.  Plus, you don't have to give up yummy smells, just look for ones that are scented with essential oils.  

Here are my favorite healthy candles for you to try: 

William Sonoma's lovely pink grapefruit (Hello Spring scents!) natural essential oils candle.  Plus it's only $15.96

The Smoke Ash candle from Baxter is to lust after.  It's meant to be a men's candle, but girl's, we'll enjoy it's yummy scent just as much. It's a soy candle, healthy for the environment, and healthy for our souls.  

Mrs. Meyer's soy candles are perfect if you are an avid candle burner - they are $9.99 and still healthy (soy) so you won't feel guilty splurging on all of her refreshing Spring scents, like the Geranium one pictured here.  Plus, how cute are the containers?!

Well, I had to picture this one for kicks.  A cannabis scented BEESWAX (yay for beeswax!) candle.  Better to light a candle than to smoke it! Plus your actually making the world healthier by indulging! Malin+Goetz also has some flavors on Amazon such as mojito, or dark rum.  

One of my favorite online places to shop is Nordstroms - free shipping and free returns. They have this lovely Malie candle that has a 100% cotton wick (always look for cotton wicks!), and completely soy, petroleum free candle.  Drift peacefully into the Hawaiian State of mind!

Have you tried any beeswax or soy candles? I want to try them to!  Leave a comment to give me the details, and let's start a discussion! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Insta Monday - SeanGaleBurke

Sean Gale Burke

Sean Gale Burke.  Let me tell you.  There's nothing like following a preppy boy instagrammer that also happens to be an amazing photographer.  His stream smells of Polo Ralph Lauren, bow ties, and everything summer dreams are made of.

Take a peak into his life with me on Instagram here: https://instagram.com/seangaleburke/ or view his photography work on his website here: http://www.seangaleburke.com

1) leave your Instagram name in the comments so I can follow your pretty accounts!

2)Tell me who's Instagram accounts you've been drooling over?!

3) Follow me at: http:/instagram.com/reynagirl95

Friday, February 20, 2015

If you miss Serial...

Serial Podcast swept the world by storm in October and recently came to an end…leaving me with serious withdrawal.  I finally said enough is enough and looked up some new Podcasts that are worth listening to.

My favorite so far has been Invisibilia which resulted in me binge listening to all 7 episodes in a matter of two days.  Invisibilia looks into the psychological strangeness of life and us as beings.  It is interesting because it uses research to delve into the why's and what's of strange things we experience that we don't realize are even happening.  One of the episodes focuses on why people feel better in "categories" and other's explore fear, what would happen without it and why we experience it.

Photo: Invisibilia 

What Podcasts do you love?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Action 2015: OUR year to make the world SHINE

When there are so many huge issues facing someone that want's to do good in the world, it's hard to choose just one.  How do you decide if you should fight poverty in America, or poverty in Africa?  Or you could save sea turtles, promote sustainability, fight for equality, fight cancer, give shoes to poor, there isn't one right answer to "what should I do?"  Do what comes to you first, the opportunity to help that is right in front of you, and I believe it will lead to more.

In 2014 we heard Feminism being sung loud and proud, Taylor Swift, Keira Knightly, Emma Watson, the book "Lean In," all examples of equality being spoken up for in the past year.  We've taken leaps and bounds to the awareness of inequality, but now, 2015, is time to DO something about it!  

The other day I was babysitting a 5 year old little boy.  We were coloring pictures, and he said he was going to draw me a picture.  He grabbed a pink marker and said he had to use pink because pink is every girl's favorite color.  I asked him if he liked pink and he said "no, ewww, it's a girl color."  Inequality starts at such a young age, he hasn't even started preschool yet!  Children are learning inequality from their parents, media, and music, and it needs to stop spiraling.  Everyone should be allowed to love pink.

Action 2015 is going to work together, with us: citizens, and organizations to change the world.  There will be two summits with the sole purpose of solving three key issues: Poverty, Inequality, and Climate change.  They are honestly going to change the course of the world, and make it a better place for you and me, and the millions of other people on this planet.  There's no purpose on waiting, and Action 2015 realizes that, which is why this is the year for change.

Some of the highlights of things they are working on:

.A transition to 100% renewable energy

.An end to inequality and discrimination

.An economic system that benefits everyone, rather than just a few.  

The best thing about Action 2015 is that everyone can support it, you can step up to fight discrimination and inequality, you can make changes to your life to help climate change, you can even fight poverty, YOU have the power to make a change.

In 2015 I am going to find ways to fight against inequality.  They may be little, but if everyone does something little, it will make a huge impact.   

 How are you going to support Action 2015?  Leave a comment and let me know, I'd love to share your ideas and photos!  If you write a blog post, or leave a comment with what your doing and a link back to your blog/twitter/etc.  I will write up a post here, and on instagram/pinterest/twitter/facebook with your amazing ideas!

Also to learn more about Action 2015 and how to get involved visit their website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend Trip: San Diego

We took a look weekend vacation to San Diego (from Tucson Arizona, 7 hours), and it was really a vacation from a vacation for me, but was perfect in every way!  

We arrived late Friday afternoon and went down to old town San Diego, there were a few cute shops open, but all in all it wasn't to exciting.  We stopped at a little thrift store that was full of vintage finds and bought a few books, and a collectible clock to sell on Amazon...

On Saturday we woke up early to find the ocean, we went to a national monument that overlooked the ocean, and saw a whale which was pretty thrilling to me.  (I'm a huge fan of everything whale related). Whales travel for 5 months south to give birth, not eating anything in that time period, until they get back to Alaska! I can't imagine..

This is a cute little fella I found hanging out in a tide pool, waiting for the tide to come back in...

About 3 minutes after this picture was shot, I was jumping up to a higher part of a beach, and my toe hit a rock and started bleeding profusely.  Bubbling blood…I'll spare you a picture.  My toenail was ripped off and our beach trip for the day was over!

Did you do anything fun/relaxing for the weekend?

DIY: Preppy Cape/Cloak

I was inspired by this DIY cape tutorial, and endless hours of re-watching Gossips Girl and seeing how gorgeous Blair's classic style truly is.  At first, I envisioned creating a cape like the one in the tutorial, longer, more of a winter style, black and white.  Life is full of surprises though, and I fell in love with this flannel fabric at Joanns, and my vision took a 360, I wanted a color, regal cranberry velvet, a classic "preppy" look.

DIY Tips:

I definitely recommend this pattern for the cloak, it is extremely easy to follow and you can modify it to your liking!  For some more inspiration, I curated a few different ideas onto a pinterest board.

If you want your cloak shorter, as mine is, look for 45inch fabric!  It says the width of the fabric on the label by the price on the bolt.

The velvet I found for the trim was in the by the yard ribbon section at Joanns!

Blairs take on  shorter cape: