Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Layout

In case you are someone who comes here often to read my blog (there's not that many of you..lol). I am sorry about the layout and font changes. I am still trying to find something I like and I don't enough enough about Blogger so I am stuck with the templates they have available. Hopefully, one day I can learn to make my own template/ background.

Disappointment, Mud and Tears

Football playoffs. In the rain. In the mud. With 11 sad girls.

My football team had our playoff tournament yesterday. We left the school at 11:30 to travel to the tournament site. The girls were in very good spirits to start the day considering that 1) it was pouring down rain 2) it was quite cold, and the big one 3) they were going to have to miss the Halloween dance! Gasp! Shock! No!!!!

We made it to the tournament site, I attended to coaches' meeting and the tournament was underway. This was my fourth year coaching football and every year I end up divided on whether or not it is enjoyable or miserable. Usually there are equal parts for both. We had a rocky start this year, and a little bump in the middle with the administration but overall I have really enjoyed coaching the girls. I think they were the best team I've had in 4 years. This was especially demonstrated to me when we won the first game in the playoffs to remain on the championship side!! That has never happened before.

It was a great game too. The other team was comparable to us in most ways, except maybe our speed on the offence. Towards the end of the game they started to catch on and their defence improved but we won quite easily. There is always a break in between the games so the girls ate hot dogs, played on the swings and boy watched. All things that serious athletes do! ;)

Our second game was against the team that was hosting the tournament, their coach is the convener of the league and THEY ALWAYS WIN. A win against them would have been amazing, AND it would put us into the championship game. However, they had a monster on their team. In case I hadn't mentioned it before, this is middle school flag football. So we are talking 11, 12, and 13 year-old girls. This team had a girl who was well over 5'11". Huge...and slightly mannish really. (I know that is bad to say about a child, but my girls were actually kind of scared.) To make a long story short, we lost. WE had some fabulous defence in the 2nd half and even though they scored 2 touchdowns in the 1st, we held them in the second. Our offence couldn't move in an inch, however. Girl's football is often all about handoffs and speed down the field. Not yesterday. They were on to us, and throwing makes our girls nervous. (Note to self: work on that next year)

So even though we were out of the championship we would still play for the bronze. This game was AMAZING. The best game of the year. The girls played brilliantly, our defence often didn't even let them move past the line of scrimmage. There was even a sack in the end zone for a 2 point safety. It came down to the last 3 plays of the game. We have just scored the safety to make it 8-12 for them. A touchdown for us would win the game. First, a throwing play. Snapped by the centre, who then runs a hook pattern and wrestles the ball out of the air. Awesome. Second, a handoff to our star running back. She spins, and spins, and spins. We are now about 20 yards from the end zone. One play left. A hail mary throw. Everyone just get to the end zone. The ball is snapped, a fake handoff, and the throw...the centre leaps in the air, tries to gain possession...and comes down empty handed. The season is over. We have lost.

You know when you watch the March Madness basketball on TV how the college players who lose in the important games end up sitting on the court in tear? That's what our centre did in the end zone. On the day before Halloween there were 11 crushed little girls. Sad about losing a football game. I am so proud that we ended up 4th out of 16 or so teams. But I am more proud that the girls wanted it so bad, tried so hard and really threw their passion into the game. It's one of the reasons I love football so much. If you don't leave it all on the field, it's not really football is it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chats

Today has been a day of chats. Conversations. Tete a la tetes. Conferences.

I have been frustrated and upset about the behaviour of one of my Grade 8 classes for the past week or so. I believe in giving students time during school to work on their assignments and start on homework. Teenagers today have enough pressures on them to succeed to make choices about college and university at such a young age, that a little down time after school goes a long way. However, one of my classes has been abusing the time I've given them to work, they have been taking advantage and using the time to chat and things reached a head on Monday afternoon when they were rude and disrespectful during an assembly about the regional arts program offered to high school students in our area. When we got back to the classroom I lost it. Not something I do very often, and not something I am very proud of.

Luckily, yesterday I was on a field trip and got a break from them for a day, however, it meant that they were with a substitute teacher for the entire day and took full advantage. I abhor when children misbehave for a supply teacher. My philosophy is that the substitute is a guest in my room and they should treat that person with the same respect or more that they give to me. This does not usually happen.

But back to the chats. I sat the class down today and we talked about what had been happening. I was totally, brutally honest about how I was feeling. I explained that I felt like I couldn't trust them, we wouldn't be able to continue with my plans for the rest of the year in terms of group work, literature discussions, etc. How could I sit with a group of 5 students and discuss a book they are reading if I can't trust the other 20 to work silently and diligently on what they have been assigned?

I do think the kids got it, and they will improve. However, their actions do have consequences and tomorrow they will be spending an entire class in silence. While I believe that talking to teenagers openly and honestly is the only way to solve problems, I also believe there should be consequences for their actions.

My second chat tonight was a lovely 5 hour long chat via text messaging. I have fallen in love with text messaging this summer. Such a quick and convenient way to pass along information and surprisingly a fun way to chat with someone who is a fair distance away. My BFF and I often had text messaging chats throughout the summer. We are both teachers, and actually work at the same school so the summer is a bit strange because we go from seeing each other everyday, all day- to almost not at all. So text messaging is a good way to stay in touch. Since we have started back to school, and coach the same sport we talk all the time so text messaging has dropped off as a communication method. But tonight was different. We chatted all evening. As I wrote novel reviews for the board office, marked reading comprehension papers and as I watched TV. What a great communication tool for multi-taskers!

Sigh...chatting is good. Hopefully, tomorrow will bring good things both with my class and more chats as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Everything Come Together...

Did I mention that I coach football? I think I did in a previous blog, and it wasn't going well. Sometimes the kids are so frustrating, but...

Today was our last game of the regular season, playoffs are on Friday. We are pretty sure that we are in the playoffs no matter what but we still wanted to win this last game. We were playing against a team that we are pretty comparable with, however we have not won a game against them in 3 years! 3 years!!! All that ended today. My girls knocked it out of the park...for real.

The things I like best about coaching over the course of a season is that you can really see the athletes grow. We have been working on our fake handoffs, and passes with the girls. Today we threw them into a new style of faking a handoff and they did it PERFECTLY! At one point one of the girl's on the defensive side had no idea what was going on, who had the ball on our team and just stopped dead on the field because she had no idea where to go. It was magic.

The girls have grown in other ways as well. The girls cheer each other on more, try to keep each other's spirits up and really work at staying happy during a game. There are a few who are still visibly upset or angry when they don't play, but I think that is an important lesson that sports can teach you. Not everyone plays all the time. Not in sports, and not in life. Also, that not everyone's skill level is the same. A few of the Grade 7 girls are on team more as a growing experience and to learn for next year than to be starters and to play every game. This year's Grade 8's who are starters were not starters last year.  I think that is one big difference between coaching boys and girls, as the boys seem to just instinctively get it. Girls often want it to be "fair" and "even".

Now we move towards Friday and the playoffs. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather, a sunny day and happy girls. Otherwise, it could be a long afternoon of cranky girls losing football games. I would love to bring home some medals and a banner to hang in the gym, and to see the excitement of the girls. What a way to start a weekend that would be.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why is this cold hanging around?

I have felt sick for almost three weeks now! Seriously, enough is enough!

I feel a break in the sinus congestion at this moment, but who knows how I will feel in 10 minutes? An hour? When I wake up in the morning and am about to embark on a field trip with 30 teenagers...yikes! I bought more tissues, and am debating the neti (spelling?) pot. Have you heard of this or seen it?

The first time I saw the neti pot was on Oprah when Dr. Oz was still come on as a guest. It looks like a small tea pot. You can use this device to pour water into one of your nostrils, with your head tilted and then the water goes through your sinus, cleans everything out and the water runs out your other nostril. It sounds like a recipe for drowning if you ask me. A colleague at work who got sick around the same time as I first did swears by it. She has used it and as far as I can tell is not drowned, nor does she still have her cold. Unlike me. Maybe there is something to it?

My husband thinks the reason I am sick and he is not is because he take a multi-vitamin everyday and I don't. Not that I am against it, I would actually like to take one. I just forget a lot and there are really big and hard to swallow. I think it has less to do with the vitamins and a lot more to do with the 50 teenagers that parade their gross germiness into my classroom for 6 hours a day. I must say though that I put out Purell for them and they actually do seem to use it quite a bit, so maybe my husband's theory has some merit?

Well, I am going to go off into my evening (plenty if marking to do, it's almost report card time) and hope that this break in the sinus pain continues. I would love to be cold free...just for a little bit.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friends

I have great friends in my life.

Have you ever hung out with someone and realized that you are always, deliciously interested in their opinion? Everything they say has meaning and makes you think, makes you question your own ideas and makes you wish the conversation could go on forever. I have a friend like that.

I am so glad that I do.

I adore hanging out with friends when all you want is for time to go on forever. Everything is fun, or funny and the topics of conversation never run out. You can talk about everything and anything and know that they will never judge you or your opinion. They may not agree, but they won't judge. Everything is comfortable and easy. I love it when all you need is a look between you in order to communicate your thoughts with your closest friends. You can share a joke with a small crinkle around the eyes, convey disbelief, acknowledge that someone said something neither of you agree with and that you will discuss it at length later on. Your friend is a person that you could talk to forever, but a lot of the time you don't even need to talk.

Sometimes I wish I could spend more time with my friend. Everyday, all day. But the way life moves a long, and we all go to work so that isn't always possible. If we could though, what a great life that would be, eh?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Finishing a Good Book

I had a horrible, delightful, awful experience last night.

I am reader (which I have posted about before) and I delight in reading many, many books. My favourite series of books is written by Diana Gabaldon. The first book in the series is titled Outlander and is amazing! I must credit my best friend Sara for introducing me to this series back in the days of living on Kipps Lane. Anyway.... there are now seven books in this series, the latest book having just come out this September. The newest book is called "An Echo in the Bone" and it continues to story of Claire and Jamie Fraser during the time of the American Revolution.


http://theinnerdoor.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/echo-in-the-bone-an-3.jpg

I love these books!! First of all, they are VERY long (I'm talking 800 pages +), which is great for me because I am a fast reader and a long books gives me time to really get into the characters and feel like I am a part of the action. The description is fantastic. I can read one page and already feel like I am transported back in time. The characters are real people, and Gabaldon's description makes you love them, hate them, cry for them, want to meet them, etc. I have re-read the series a number of times and every time it's still just as great.

So you are probably asking yourself why I started this post by saying I had a horrible, delightful, awful experience last night. Well....

I finished "An Echo in the Bone" and I was happy and furious all at the same time. Why? For many reasons, such as:

1) It ended in a cliff hanger which is great because it means there will be more to read about Jamie, Claire and all the Outlander characters.

2) It ended in a cliff hanger after I had been waiting three years to read it and now I will probably have to wait three more years to read the next one.

GRRRRRR...I actually woke my husband up when I finished the book because I grumbled out loud quite loudly. (Sorry, hun!) Sigh...so now I am left here wondering what will happen in Jamie and Claire in the midst of the turmoil that is the American Revolution and at this rate I won't know until 2012.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Alls Well That Ends Well in the World of Pickle Trays

Whew!! No big scene, no blow ups, not even an angry word.

My pickle tray lending friend wasn't the least bit upset about the chip in the side of the tray. She said she didn't remember her mother ever using it, and wasn't even sure if it was her mother's due to the star pattern; which looks like the star of David, and they aren't Jewish.

When she heard about my 5 store hunt for a replacement tray she even offered to let me keep the borrowed tray saying she had many others from her mother. Ten to be exact. That's a lot of pickles!! So now I am the owner of the chipped pickle tray, and a smaller one that she had no attachment to. I am already planning a dinner party where I will invite them for dinner and serve a glorious pickle tray in her honour.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Search for a Pickle Tray

So last weekend was Thanksgiving and I was put in charge of bringing a pickle tray to my husband's family's Thanksgiving dinner. I do not own a pickle tray so a friend lent me one that had been her mother's. Now, her mother passed away from cancer last winter so this felt like a big deal that she was letting me borrow something of her mom's.

I made the pickle tray, took to family Thanksgiving, it was a hit, many pickles were eaten.....however, when my husband's aunt handed it back to me after dinner I noticed there was a chip on it. A chip I did not see before when I was loading up the tray with pickles and beets, etc. Did the chip happen at dinner? Am I responsible for this chip? Or was it there beforehand and I just didn't notice? Aaaaargh!

A mutual friend of mine and the pickle tray owner has lead me to believe that the pickle tray is a matter of life and death and that I need to return a full and complete pickle tray or the friendship is over, finto, capute. So today I went in search of a pickle tray to offer as a replacement in case I am responsible for the chip. I went to 5 stores. NO PICKLE TRAYS. Not one, not even ugly ones. Just nothing.

So now I have the entire day to sit a wait because the lender of the pickle tray and her boyfriend have been so kind as to OFFER to pick me up and drive me home from a party tonight. When they arrive to do this amazing good deed I have to tell them that their previous good deed (lending the pickle tray) was not so good because I am a ruiner or pickle trays and there no pickle trays left in existence to replace what I have ruined.

My head, and my heart, hurt just thinking about it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Stories from a Grade 8 Classroom

Best..BEST..question of the week.

Student: "Do you need to know every country in the world to be the Prime Minister?"

Me: "Maybe not every country, just the important ones to us. There would be staff to help you with the rest."

Student: "Important ones like the US?"

Me: "Yes, they are pretty important."

Student: "And Canada?"

Me: (disbelieving face with wide eyes trying to control my giggles) "Yep, Canada would be a good one to know if you were the Prime Minister."

Now a lot of people say there are no such things as dumb questions, I'll let you judge for yourself.

I have a small dry erase board outside my classroom where I post morning notes to my students to read as they come in the door. Today's message read: Day 6- There is a new seating plan- find your seat and SIT IN IT!

One student walked in this morning and said, "Is there a new seating plan?"

To which I replied, "What do you think?"

He answered, "Yes."

"And why do you think so?" I asked.

"Because it says so on the sign," he responded.


"So did you need to ask?" I replied with a shake of my head.

His answer?... "I guess not."

Lord help me!! Sometimes my head hurts just thinking about it. Monday is already looming so close on the horizon!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thinking...

It's only been 5 or so weeks since school started and I finished off my summer. Today was a little glimpse back into summer...no, it wasn't warm and sunny out. Well, sunny yes, warm no. But I had the entire day to myself and didn't talk to anyone.

It's amazing how fast time gets filled up with stuff. All of my weekends from now until the middle of November are filled with things to do, people to see and places to go. I should feel popular and happy to have so many friends that want to do stuff with me, but sometimes I just wish I could have a weekend with nothing! You know what I mean? I am excited about all the things I am going to be doing and all the people I will be seeing but I also know that by the time November gets here I will be tired and wishing for some along time. A little like what I had today, minus the sinus ache and fever!

Kiddie Germs

I have officially gotten sick. The kid's germs have jumped onto me and I am home today in bed. My throat is scratchy, my sinuses are full, I am cold and then I am hot. I hate being sick. The worst part of it is that I was supposed to go on a field trip with my class today, but it was an outdoor trip and I didn't really think that spending the day in the woods would be the best thing for me. But I do feel bad about sending my kids on a trip with a supply and a supply out into the woods when they weren't expecting it.

Being sick really sucks. I do like staying home and sleeping...except for the whining dog. Kahne does fine everyday when we are at work but it seems like he has a hard time when we are home. I think because I am here he wants to do more, go out more, etc. Whereas when we are at work he just lays down and sleeps waiting for us to get home. I just feel so unproductive when I am home sick. I have some marking and planning I could be doing, but if I do school work does that negate the fact that I stayed home from work to rest today? On the other hand I now have a full day in which there are no interruptions so I could get a lot done. Quite the dilemma.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving



I spent the weekend at home for Thanksgiving with my family and it was a full house. My husband and I were there with our dog Kahne. Kahne is a puggle (pug x beagle) and only 34 pounds. My parents also have a dog, a rottweiler/ chocolate lab cross named Sebastian who is 72 pounds...and for the first time, my sister and her boyfriend brought home their new puppy at the same time we were there. Simon, their dog, is a golden-doodle who is already over 50 pounds. So altogether we had 150+ pounds of dog in one house with 8 adults..wow!


Simon, the golden-doodle puppy.

All in all, it was a great weekend. We started at my husband's family's for our first of 3 turkey dinners....ummm turkey! I love it. It is often that we have 2 turkey dinners on a Thanksgiving weekend, but 3? That was just heaven. Although I am pretty sure that I will need to be rolled into work tomorrow.


My uncle carves turkey #2 on Saturday night.

Saturday night was spent at my aunt and uncles from my mom's side. All the kids are now grown up and have significant others so family events have gotten more crowded and more fun and we all have more in common now. My cousins are quite a bit younger than my sister and I and we weren't particularly close growing up, especially since they are both boys. But now that we all have jobs, houses and etc we have more to talk about and laugh about. Especially with my one cousin providing the entertainment after drinking a magnum of homemade wine, seriously homemade, like in his basement homemade!!


Sebastian and Kahne playing.

We also spend some time every year at the memorial forest where we have planted trees for family members who are no longer with us. We took all three dogs along with us this year and had our usual rum and coke out by the trees to remember my grandparents. It's one of my favourite Thanksgiving traditions.


Kahne "sits pretty" for a treat.

I am thankful for many things this year, it's been a more difficult year overall than other and I am happy to be where I am, with the people I love. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Friday, October 9, 2009

First Holiday of the "Year"

It's weird, when you are a teacher your year consists of September to August, so in actuality your "new year" starts in September. That makes Thanksgiving the first holiday of the year. Now we have had a few 4 day weeks already between PA Days and the first week of school only being 4 days, but there is something about making it to Thanksgiving relatively unscathed and still alive that makes you feel like you have started the school year off right.

There are a few things I would change, however:

1) I wish my class could enter the room without sounding like a thundering herd of teenage elephants.

2) I would help Grade 8's to understand that if they use the class time I give them for their work they would rarely have homework.

3) When you are 13 it is not necessary to yell everything you say because your friends are still as young as you are and they can still hear just fine.

4) Huh? is never the correct answer to anything.

5) I would also like 30 hours in the day.

I have felt like I am running 15 steps behind all the time since school started. There is a lot on the go for me right now with planning a new grade, coaching football 4 days a week and running the Me to We team. Not to mention that curling started last week. This conflicts with football so I just end up with some really long days. But I have made it. It's Thanksgiving. I have 3 days off, 3 holiday dinners to eat and a smallish pile of marking. Now the amount of planning I have to do....that pile is pretty big. GRRRR

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coaching Football

This is the fourth year that I have coached the girls' flag football team at my school. Every year I say it is my last and then every year the fall comes around and I agree to do it again. WHY???

I enjoy working with the girls and seeing them grow. Football is my favourite sport and we usually do pretty well each yeah during league play and end up in the playoffs.  Yet the bus ride to and from the games is horrible. The students yell, jump around and throw stuff...no matter how much we yell at them, every bus ride is the same. Every year is the same. This overshadows any good things that come out of coaching because it seems like such a small thing that we ask of the kids, yet they can't show enough respect to do it.

Please, someone, anyone.....don't let me coach next year!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

We Day 2009

I spent the entire day at the ACC today with 13 of my own students and 16 000 other students from around the GTA and Ontario.

It was amazing!!

There were many motivational speakers and musical performers all designed to motivate the students to tap into their own power to change to world. It's such a positive message for students to hear, that they can do it. They can be the ones to change the world, make it better for all. I am lucky to play such a little part in it all.

After today I am excited to dive back in and get working with my students. My goal this year is to have the kids take more ownership over the events and the activities that we run and to step back into a facilitator role. Can't wait.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Not Everybody Has To Be Friends

So last night after work some colleagues and I went out for drinks to our usual establishment. This has been a pretty regular Friday evening ritual for the 3+ years I have been at my current school. People come and go each week, there are the regulars who go every week and the surprises that show up once in awhile. The conversation is good, the bar manager gives us free appetizers and we have a few laughs.

Last night it was a medium sized group of us just sitting around. Now I know that at work not everybody sees eye to eye or agrees with each other's teaching methods, but for the most part we get along and things work smoothly. Now if I have a major problem with someone I'll talk to them about it, but, like all people, I have known to vent my frustrations to my friends. Note that I said my friends.

While out for drinks last night one of my colleagues proceeded to dump on two of my very good friends, including calling them unprintable names. He was sitting across the table from me. Me. I don't begrudge him his opinions, even if I think they are juvenile, stupid and filled with jealousy about other people's abilities. But I do cross the line at having to hear two good friends, and great teachers slammed because this guy is a pompous ass. If you want to vent and spew your idiocies, please go talk to your own friends. Not the friends of the people who are vent about. Even the kids know that.

Last Words...

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe