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β€œGet Up And Do Something β€œ Barack Obama

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had an amazing week! For the most part, I did. It was crazy busy, but pretty fun. πŸ˜‰ I will tell you all about it.

Some of the amazing things that happened this week, I was accepted in our schools NJHS (National Junior Honor Society). I am really excited about this! We turned in our applications awhile back. I wasn’t exactly sure of when I would find out if I was invited to be a part of it, but it happened this week.

Also, we had our Cyber Preliminary Competition. This event went really well, I think. In case you are not familiar with how this Preliminary Competition worked, I will explain it for you. Basically, all of the participating teams / schools met at the Advanced Technology Center. We were not supposed to bring anything other than our Raspberry Pi (that is the platform our competition is working around), not any saved code, no additional supplies, just our Raspberry Pi. (Not every team honored that regulation, and my school kind of felt at a disadvantage because we did. I guess that piece of information, is neither here nor there, just a side note. My parents always say “You can’t control what other teams do, so just focus on doing the best that you can and don’t worry about anyone else.” I tried to do just that! I tried to do the best that I could.) We had 2 hours to create a new carnival game. We needed to write a program using either Python, or Scratch, on the Raspberry Pi, and get it running, with whatever craft supplies we used for the game part of it (and most importantly, trouble shoot it your idea to get it working πŸ˜‰). 2 hours might sound like a long time, but my team used and needed every single second. Fortunately, I had a stellar team! I focused on writing the code, and my two teammates focused on the craft part. I am happy to say our idea worked! Yay! We don’t have our feedback from the judges yet, but I felt like our presentation for them, went really well. Hopefully, our judges will agree with that. πŸ™‚ I am really hoping, we will get feedback this week. The challenge for the actual competition is being released May 1. It would be nice to have the feedback from the preliminaries in mind, while we start brainstorming on how to solve the next challenge.

Bock, J. (2016). A Raspberry Pi. [digital image] CC BY- NC

The last awesome thing that happened was, I found out I earned straight superiors on my Solo and Ensemble events. I was super excited about this! So for this event, you can pick out up to 3 pieces to play for judges. They will critique your performance, and tell you what you did well, and what you could improve on. Superior is the highest rating you can get. I picked out a challenging piece for both my alto solo, and for the clarinet (which I am getting better at πŸ˜‚). Also, I played the soprano in a saxophone quartet. I was kind of worried about it all coming together with everything, everyone seems to have going on. I am so happy with the results! Not only am I happy with the results, I am so happy it is over. πŸ˜‚ Yay!

Another really fun thing I got to do this week, was help host the instrument petting zoo. A bunch of us, got to bring our instruments to the school and show them to students that are thinking about joining band. We played for them, answered any questions that they had, and told them what we loved about band. That was a blast!

So, I know you are probably thinking, this sounds like a really successful week, right? It was! It was also kinda of a blur. All week seemed like I had one event after another and I really didn’t have too much time to complete homework, and never anytime to relax. Sometimes, when things seem to be moving faster than you, it might seem like you start to feel hopeless. In the end, after I had completed all of my challenging events, I felt great. How could this be with all of this stress?

I read a quote from Barack Obama, he once that said “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” So, I guess that is the “big idea” of this blog. πŸ˜‚ It might be hard to see what your choices are, especially when you have a lot of deadlines and requirements on you. However, doing something about all of your pressures, will make you feel better! Next time you feel like me, with too much to do and too little time to complete it all, remember this story. More importantly, remember take the wise words from President Obama and spring into action!

Well, I am off to practice the piano. I have one last audition this week, for a recital coming up at a local University. I am kind of taking a risk for my audition. πŸ™‚ Instead of playing a classical piece, I am playing a jazz selection. I will let you know if it works out. πŸ˜‰

Have a great day and go play Acalympics

Dedication Pays Off

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had an amazing week. I did but it was really busy. This next week will be just as busy. I have quite a few events going on. Some of the events this week include, The Cyber Challenge Preliminaries, Solo and Ensemble, and I have an audition for an Honors recital, with piano lessons, saxophone lessons and band practice thrown in there too. πŸ˜‚ These are all fun events, just a lot of them for one week.

Our school recently had a dedication ceremony. We have now been in our building for a year. It took about 3 years to build our school building and it was completed during the school year, last year. All of the teachers had to pack up their classrooms and we moved to the other side of town, for our new school building. It was both a pain and exciting at the same time! So, for our dedication we celebrated. We had a lot of guest speakers, and a really nice ceremony.

Geralt. (2016). Smartphone. [digital image]. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/images/PrxvgW . CC 0

Watching the dedication made me think of how far my school has come. Previously, my school had been two separate schools. We had to figure out how to join the two together. When we first merged the two schools, we had to find a building large enough with enough classrooms, to house us. The temporary building we found was about a 30-45 minute drive away from where the two schools had been previously housed. Then, once we got used to the drive and temporary location, we had to move to the new building. It wasn’t a completely easy, stress free transition. I am sure that things didn’t go as planned a lot of the time. But, I would never had known it. I have an absolutely amazing Principal, Assistant Principals, School Improvement Specialist, Guidance Counselors, and Teachers that handled the move so positively. You would have thought it was an effortless transition, based on their attitude.

I have written about attitude in a blog before, so you already know I think choosing to have a positive attitude is important. I am not going to rewrite that. πŸ˜‰ However, while I was watching the dedication, I remembered something my 5th grade teacher said in class a lot. “Anything worth having, is worth working for”. Our school staff worked tirelessly to get where we are now. Although, it was a lot of hard work, I am so thankful that the administration never quit. Paths that are difficult to walk, often lead to beautiful destinations.

So, this week if you feel like I did last week, where you have too many commitments and too little time to do everything, remember these two quotes. “Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat” Said Ann Landers. “Anything worth having, is worth working for” said Lori Rose. Keep your mind on where you want to end up, and take steps to get there.

Have an amazing weekend! Go play Acalympics

β€œYou’ve Been Planted”

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had a fabulous week. I did, but it sure was busy. πŸ™‚ I know, I always say that. The 3rd and 4th quarters of school always seem to be the busiest for me. I expect to be pretty busy until about June 15. πŸ˜‰

In my Health and P.E. class, we are talking about stress management. I told my family about this and asked them how they managed stress. Wow! I didn’t realize how different all these people were! You would think being in the same family, they would have some similarities, but stress management is not one of them. πŸ˜‚

Janice P. (2016). Switzerland in Bloom. [ digital image ] CC BY-NC

My brother Kaden, who balances multiple Honor Societies, Advanced Placement classes, Marching Band, Advanced Concert Band, and Honor Roll, in an Advanced Academy said that his strategy was to just ignore the stress until the very last minute, and then you usually couldn’t do anything about it anyway, so to just let it go. I am not too sure how solid his advice is, but since he seems to be pretty stress free, I guess it works for him.

Jenifer B. (2017). Kaden in Marching Band Competition. [ digital image ] CC BY-NC

My mom said she managed stress by making a list. (If you don’t know my mom, I will tell you, she makes lists for everything. I am quite certain, she makes lists about the lists she needs to make.) She says she writes down everything that is stressing her out. Then, she reads back through the list and crosses off any item that she has no control over. She says she eliminates about 3/4 of her list this way. For the remaining items, she brainstorms any possible action she could take to reduce her stress about that item. For my mom, having choices and being proactive, are her stress management techniques.

My dad said funny things (that he knew would make my mom roll her eyes). He said “If you are feeling stressed out by all of mom’s lists, you should just take a nap.” Or “Get your mind off of your stress by playing a video game.” I thought he had some great ideas! πŸ˜‚ After he quit joking around, he said seriously the best way he knew to handle stress was to eat healthy, get enough sleep, drink a lot of water, and to take deep breaths. He said that educating himself helped him too. He said especially in his career, the more he knew about whatever was stressful for him, the better he felt about it.

I guess these are all pretty good strategies, but I think I have the best stress management. The way I handle stress works to reduce stress every time! I sit down by Chena or Bella, and I pet them for like 10 minutes. I tell them how sweet they are, and how glad I am that they are my doggie, and /or kitty. Sometimes, I brush their coat. I don’t really tell them about my stress, because that would make them feel sad. I just love on them. If I still feel stressed after that, I found out that talking to people help. I talk to my parents. My mom comes up with crazy ideas that makes me laugh. (But, I am totally going to try to tell her that I feel stressed and I need to play a video game and see if it works.πŸ˜‚).

I read something on Twitter this week that was completely related to stress. It said “Sometimes when you are under so much pressure, and you feel like you are in a dark place, you feel like you have been buried. But maybe, you have not been buried, you have been planted. So rise up, and bloom!” Wow! I am going to write that down, so I can remember it! That is an amazing way to look at stress!

Have a great week! Go play Acalympics

Spring Break

Hello and Happy Weekend!

Over the last few days of spring break, I have had a normal week. Yes, even though I am on break, I am still very busy. πŸ˜‚ This week, my mom decided it would be very fun to put down new mulch all around or yard. In addition to putting down new mulch, we would do our yard’s spring cleaning.

On Tuesday we measured all day and tried to figure out how much mulch we needed. We also did most of the trimming and other parts of our spring cleaning on Tuesday. Finishing all of this encouraged us to go to a local garden center to buy mulch.

At the local garden center, we asked if we should get 19 cubic yards of mulch. The guy there looked at us as if we were crazy! He advised us to only buy one truck load at a time (10 cubic yards) in order to not have to much. Agreeing to this plan, as we did not want to wish to spend to much money on mulch, we bought rakes and wheelbarrows and prepared for Thursday.

On Thursday, the delivery service arrived with our mulch. The pile was colossal and it took forever to deplete. In fact, we had to finish the pile on Friday! Since the pile was unable to give our team motivation to work, we had to use cooperation and teamwork to aid one another.

For cooperation, we gave each other assigned roles (the wheelbarrow driver, the spreader, the retailer, the shoveler, and of course the dog lover πŸ˜›). If anyone became fatigued or bored of their job (or their job was currently unavailable as there was nothing to detail), then someone would switch with them. Cooperation is key to getting ginormous tasks done.

Teamwork is a big part of cooperation. In this case, we looked for each other’s strength and weaknesses, and the carried out our part. For instance, my grandmother was the dog lover and detailer as she enjoyed doing these things. I was the wheelbarrow driver and spreader. We all were able to do our part and we eventually got the job done.

Janice, P. (2018). Mulch Duty. [digital image] CC BY-NC

No matter how large the task, everything can be done with a team. Sure, no one in my family wished to work over break, but a nice lawn does not maintain itself! I know I am very thankful I did not have to do that by myself.

Over the next week in Acalympics, think about how you and your teammates can help contribute to your overall score. One person does not have to accomplish a feat (like beating the Sea Stars or Dragon Fire) by themselves!

Have a great week and go and play Acalympics

An Unbreakable Spirit

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope that you had an amazing week. I did! And yes it was busy! πŸ˜‚

Guys, I read about an incredible story on Twitter this week that I want to tell you about. However, I need to be completely honest. I don’t think I can capture the true essence, struggle, or determination of this person’s life. I think he is going to need to write a book about his life. I just know it will be such an inspiration to others, because it inspires me. So, here is my attempt to tell a little bit of his story.

Mr. Kelly was born into a harder childhood than any kid should have to face. I can’t even begin to list the unfortunate events that happen to him. Reading about his life, it seemed to be one hardship after another. I am not going to make a list of all of the struggles he had, that is his story to tell. But I will say what ever terrible circumstances you could imagine for a kid to face, Mr. Kelly faced. Halfway through his junior year of high school, he dropped out of school and joined the Marines. Now, at this point of the story, I would have not blamed Mr. Kelly one bit if he was mad, angry at life, bitter, and had a huge list of reasons why he had not done productive things, could you? However, his story does not end at this point! That is the important part of this blog! If you only get thing out of this blog, remember that! You get to write the ending for your story, because while you can’t control your circumstances, you can control your responses!

Mr. Kelly had a pretty serious accident happen to him, that he said changed it. It was painful! However, in order to recover, he started setting goals for himself. They were really hard, almost realistic goals, but you have probably figured out Mr. Kelly is one tough man. In the excerpt I read, he talked about getting ready for a 100 mile bike challenge on a borrowed bike. He said his legs hurt and there was no fanfare to congratulate him, but he did it! He conquered a situation that seemed impossible. That win, lead him to set more goals, and accomplish them time and time again. It is about at this point in the story that I start singing the “Rocky” theme song in my mind.

Anyway, Mr. Kelly ended earning his GED after boot camp, and his BA, his Masters, and doing work on his PhD. He is now teaching kids with learning disabilities.

Say it with me, “Wow!” I asked Mr. Kelly what advice he would give to people that are on their metaphorical 10th out of 100 miles. People that are tired, in pain and want to give up, what would he tell them? He said “Time passes with or without you. We truly only fail ourselves. I was comfortable being a failure for only so long. If you want something different, you have to change, not others.”

I am so inspired by his unbreakable spirit. I often say “you need to find a dream bigger than your excuses”. Mr. Kelly lives just that!

Have an amazing day and go play Acalympics !

β€œI Fail Over and Over Again, That Is Why I Succeed” Michael Jordan

Good morning and Happy Weekend! I hope you had an incredible week! For the most part, I did, and it was really busy. πŸ˜‚ It wasn’t all great though. Keep reading, you will see why. πŸ˜‰

I read a quote last week by Michael Jordan. In case you aren’t familiar with Michael Jordan, he is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The quote I read was “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. 25 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I have to be honest with you. I was kinda puzzled by this. I mean, what was he saying exactly? Did he mean that he practiced so much basketball, he had encountered every situation one could come across in basketball? Did he just miss all of those shots in practice, and that when he came to the real game he was successful? When I think of Michael Jordan, I certainly don’t view him as someone who has failed EVER.

I did a little research on Michael Jordan. Did you know that he tried out for his high school varsity team when he was a sophomore, but didn’t make it? Michael Jordan said every time he looked at his school’s varsity roster that year, he was embarrassed and kinda mad about it, (because his name wasn’t on the varsity list). Do you know what he did about it? Michael’s high school P.E. teacher said that every morning when he got to school early (because he liked to get to school real early), he always was greeted by the sound of the basketball. Every morning when the teacher walked in the gym, there was Michael practicing. Michael did not quit basketball.

Geralt. (2016). IPad. [digital image]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/basketball-net-score-rim-hoop-2099656/

So, here is what didn’t go so great this week, I had a chair audition that didn’t go too well. In fact, it went about as bad as it could. I messed up everything. I was pretty mad about it, because I practiced a lot for it, but I just kind of got myself all nervous for the audition, which obviously was a mistake (and a whole other blog topic). When I found out my result, I was absolutely humiliated! I took last chair. I immediately started trying to figure out how to get out of playing for the Ensemble. I mean, I love music, but I decided I really only love music from 1st or 2nd chair. πŸ˜‚ Last chair stinks!

Here I was, mad and embarrassed, and like anyone would do, I started planning my escape from this situation. I started trying to figure out how to get out of playing the saxophone from last chair. My first idea was I could come down with an illness, like some type of lung disorder that meant I couldn’t play in last chair. Or maybe I just found out I was deathly allergic to last chair. If the illness thing wasn’t believable (because it wasn’t πŸ˜‚), I started thinking of what excuse I could come up with to not be in horrible spot. I could say, I had a new part time job that meant I was not going to be available for rehearsals anymore, so the next to last chair guy could be last chair, and I could just quit. However, you will not believe what hit me in the midst of my plans!

In the middle of my scheming to get out of last chair, I heard Michael Jordan’s quote in my head. “I fail over and over again. And that is why I succeed “. All of the sudden his quote made sense to me! He wasn’t saying he succeeded because he practiced sooooooo much that he knew every basketball scenario known to man, and he never messed up in games. He was saying he succeeded because instead of quitting when he failed, he got back up. He let the failure go, and tried again. Yes, last chair seemed pretty awful when I am used to taking 1st or 2nd chair, but I decided it would be pretty awful to be counted on to score the game winning basket and miss.

While it seems like it would be much easier to quit, and not have to go take my place at last chair, I am going stick it out. I am going to keep focused on the fact, that even Michael Jordan had failures, not just in practice, but in the big games. And then, I am going to succeed just like he did.

Plus, now I get to hear the French horns, which are actually pretty good. πŸ™‚ You can’t hear them in 1st or 2nd chair.

What this blog boils down to is, yes it is humiliating when you fail (you can insert a mental picture of me waving at you, from last chair πŸ˜‚. Go ahead and pull out your binoculars because you will need them to find me ) but don’t quit! I know, I just wrote about sometimes you win and sometimes you win a totally different way. I guess, sometimes you learn too. (I can’t think of a win for last chair, yet, but if I think of one, I will be sure to let you know πŸ˜‰). In the meantime, sometimes you have to pick yourself up, and let go of your failure to succeed.

“I fail over and over again. And that is why I succeed”. Michael Jordan and Karstan 😊

Have a great week and go play Acalympics

Take Your Goals Seriously, But Keep Your Sense Of Humor

Good morning, and Happy Weekend! I hope you had an amazing week. I think I did. πŸ˜‚ I was really busy this week, and will be again next week. I think it was a good week, but looking back on it, it kind of all runs together. πŸ˜‚

Someone asked me this week how I could do so many things and not have burn out. That was an easy question to answer. πŸ™‚ You have to keep yourself looking for the humor in all situations. If you are guessing that I have a story to tell you about keeping your sense of humor, you are right!

A couple summers ago, my family went on an European vacation. We had some good friends that were stationed in Stuttgart Germany, and we went to visit them. With our friends, we decided that we would rent a car and drive from Stuttgart Germany down through Switzerland, to Milan Italy to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting “The Last Supper”. My family had never been to Germany or Switzerland. While driving is driving, and that is not too different than in America, the street signs are different, the roadways are different, and when you travel in between countries there are different rules that you need to follow. So for my dad, this excursion was a new learning experience.

Well, we reserved our rental car and when we went to pick it up, we were quite shocked. Instead of the smallish Volvo we reserved, we were presented with a van (definitely not a mini van) that was the same size as the vans, hotels use as a shuttle to and from the airport. The rental car company explained they ran out of the smaller cars, and that is all that they had to offer us.

Bock, J. (2016). Airport Shuttle. [digital image] CC BY-EU

Now, it might not sound too bad to have a car where you can taxi 14 of your closest friends with you, wherever you go. However, have you ever tried to park a car in Europe? The parking spots are not too much bigger than my lunchbox. Plus, the roads in Europe are really little, so driving was challenging too.

My family had a choice. We could be nervous and unhappy about this car situation, or we could try to see the humor in it. We decided to see the humor in driving the airport shuttle van everywhere. I mean we were on vacation, and we decided to not let challenges with a car ruin that. We had all kinds of problems with this car, but you know what? Looking back at this trip, my family laughs so hard about this situation. We don’t have bad feelings about it because we MADE A DECISION, to approach the situation with humor.

I have blogged in the past about the importance of attitude. Attitude makes such a difference in everything that you do. Attitude can cause you to feel excited about learning and have a lot of energy for it, or it makes you feel stressed out, and burned out. Attitude can take you from an “I get to do this, Yay!” to “I have to do this, Sigh!”. The really awesome thing about attitude is, YOU GET TO DECIDE what kind of attitude you are going to have.

So just like my family decided driving a cruise liner sized vehicle was not going to ruin our trip, I decided that all of my rehearsals until 9 p.m., club meetings, homework, and music lessons were not going to stress me out. I decided to look for the humorous events instead. Finding the “funny” in my week, makes busy weeks easy to take. Looking for humor is not always an easy choice to make, but trust me, the more you do it, the easier it will become.πŸ™‚

Have a great week! Go play Acalympics

Oh! We did make it to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper, and it was incredible because it took up the entire wall.

Bock, J. (2016). Last Supper. [digital image] CC BY-EU