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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reading Blogs

I have been reading a lot of blogs about reading lately. My two favourite things: reading and reading about reading! I started clicking on the "Next Blog" link which it claims sends you to blogs that are similar in topic and theme to yours, and even though mine is about thinking (or so I claim) the "Next Blog" link sent me to many, many blogs about reading.

So I am thinking that maybe I will start chronicling my reading here. I have posted in the past about the 999 challenge that I have been participating in for 2009. You can check those out here, and here.  But I am thinking that maybe for 2010 I will go more in depth with my discussions of what I am reading.

I enjoyed tracking my reading this year and actually seeing how many books I can read in a year, but I did not enjoy being pigeon-holed into different genres and having to read only (or I suppose I could read more, but...) 9 books from each. I filled up my Fantasy and Science Fiction category in the first 2 months and then I didn't read hardly any of my Re-Reads. I still have a desire to read Emma again soon, but then there are so many new books that I haven't read yet at the same time. Oh the dilemma!!

I think next year I will create a spreadsheet (oh the joy of organizing) and use it to track my books. I can still track by genre, but not limit myself to only 9 books. Plus I can use my blog as a way of tracking my thoughts and ideas about what I have read. Similar to a Writer's Notebook, but electronic and for reading. I found this blog Marks In the Margin that has a similar concept and that I have really enjoyed reading since I found it.

So you are probably wondering what I have been or am reading? (Maybe not and I am just bathering on to myself, but anyway...). I re-read Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer last night (yes, in one night). I went to see New Moon with my sister on Saturday and it has been since last summer that I read all 4 books in the Twilight Saga so I wanted to re-read the last two books in order to refresh my memory about what had happened. I did enjoy the 2nd movie much better than the first, and then reading Eclipse when I got home was pretty satisfactory as well. I may just move on and re-read the final book, Breaking Dawn, as well. I know that many people do not think that the Twilight books are well-written or even interesting, but I ask that you look at it this way:

1. How much "great literature" were you willing to read as a teenager?
2. How much did you even read as a teenager?
3. The kids who are reading these books are reading vast amounts of the written word in just the 4 books, and then usually moving on to the recent knockoffs and other vampire stories. Who are we to say "don't read"? Reading is reading.
4. At least these kids have a taste for reading, better than those who read nothing at all. Their taste may improve when they get older, it may not. But right now they LOVE reading.
5. Edward and Jacob are hot.

So, yes I will continue to read YA and great literature as it comes along. There are worse ways to be spending your time. And starting soon, I will talk all about it here!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Longest Week in the History of the World

This feels like the longest week there ever was. My to-do list getting longer by the minute and I can't seem to even find time to sit down long enough eat. I hate the end of November.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanks...I think?

A friend came over yesterday for a pre-holiday get together we were having (hence having all the Christmas decorations up in November) and this is what was said:

Friend: "I knew you would be the type of person to have knick-knacks all around your house."

Me: ?

Friend: "I mean, I knew that you would have little decorative type stuff in every room."

Me: ?

Friend: You have lots of little figurines, and knick-knacks."

Me: "Thanks?"

I am not sure if it was a compliment, or an insult, or nothing? Hard to say. But I am sure if the phrase- "I knew you would be the sort of person that" ...  isn't followed by

"and I like it", or

"it looks good",

it really shouldn't be said.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas...At My House!

Christmas has arrived at my house. The decorations are out. The tree is up and decorated. We have food, and lots of it in the fridge. And...we are having a party tomorrow! I love the holiday season. I love shopping for decorations. I mean seriously, LOVE IT!

Our tree.

As far as Christmas trees are concerned, I really only like white lights. So you many ask why our tree has coloured lights? Well, we were given it as a gift from my husband's parents a few years ago and there you have it. I do, however, plan that as soon as we have a bigger house to buy a bigger tree with ONLY white lights! This tree can then be our secondary tree.

I fully believe that Christmas and decorating is a deeply personal thing. You can dictate to someone else what their tree should look like, and so, have two trees may seem crazy to some people, but I will do it!

Snowman. I love him.

My husband new ornament contribution this year. Very Canadian.
We love our Tim Horton's coffee!!

Moose.

A gift from my in-laws a few years ago. It says "Teaching is a Work of Heart".
I really like ornaments that have a story attached to them or personal memories.
I have one that is from Kuwait! My best friend brought it home for me last year after she lived there for a year teaching english.

More Snowmen.

I really like snowmen decorations because even after Christmas has ended I can keep them out all winter and a little of the holiday magic stays behind. Plus snowmen are just cute little things.

My family has a lot of holiday traditions, and I am not big on change so I really like when things are done the way they are always done. When my parents still lived in the house where I grew up, we always had our tree in the big front room and had huge, live trees for the whole holiday season. When my mom redecorated the front room as a dining room our living room was moved to the basement, and even though we still got a real tree because it was in the basement it was SMALL. We couldn't even put all the ornaments we had on it! We had to leave some in the boxes. Oh no, this was not going to work for me. I may have actually boycotted decorating the tree that year! I like my traditions, and nobody, NOBODY, better get in the way of them!

 Stockings! Me, Hubby, and the Puppy.
(Obviously, the puppy's is in the middle)


This is my FAVOURITE new decoration this year.
(Well, I also got a bathmat that is a snowman's face)
It's a cluster of bells with mistletoe on top...so fun!
We hung it in the doorway to the kitchen because so many people walk through that door.

This is the snowman cookie jar, but we don't eat cookies. I use it, instead, to hold the puppy's treats in the winter. He likes it a lot too.

See. Happy puppy.


Almost time. I can't wait for the holidays to be here officially. I have already had an Eggnog Latte from Starbucks so Christmas Eve is just around the corner.

New tattoo

So I got it! And I love it...but it has hurt more than any of the other 2 I got before.

I was very touched and happy that my aunt's friend wanted me to get a tattoo from her tattoo artist and that she wanted to give it to me as a birthday gift. To me, a tattoo is a piece of artwork and they can symbolic of   hurts and pain that have occurred in your life. They can also be symbols of happy times and good memories. So to be given one has a gift is a pretty special thing indeed.


This is just after she finished the entire tattoo. As I described in an earlier post, the lightening bolt was from a previous tattoo and I asked that it was retouched and kept as a part of this one. I don't regret it, however, it was a 12 year old tattoo and I am not the same person I was when I got it. (I mean, thank god I am not the same person I was when I was 18 years-old!) But at the same time I don't agree with losing the image all together. That tattoo has been a part of me for almost half my life and I want to validate the decision I made so many years ago.


Here is a little closer image, as few days later. It has had some time to heal and is looking really good. I am thinking that I would like the light orange swirls to be touched up a little darker but we will wait to see when it is fully healed. I am very glad I did it and that I got something so meaningful to me.

Sorry for the delay...

It has been a long week, or so. Last week, we had a PA Day which means no kids at school, and then a field trip which I did not go on but stayed behind at the school with the "stay behind kids" to which I taught no lessons but took them to the computer lab and then watched a movie. I also had a full day of silence while my two classes wrote a unit test (I had planned for it to take 2 45 minute periods, but it took 3!! oops), and then Friday I was off while my husband had his wisdom teeth pulled. So basically a 3 day, but almost 2 day week.

The full 5 days this week nearly killed me. I was in bed and asleep at 9:30 last night!

Friday, November 13, 2009

New markings...

Tomorrow I am getting a new tattoo, or rather a tattoo refreshed. When I was 17 I decided I wanted a tattoo. I picked out a symbol that I felt meant something to me, I kept it in my wallet for an entire (a hard thing to do at 17!) and then after a year if I still liked it I would get it done. So in the summer, right before my 18th birthday, a good friend and I went to a tattoo place in London on our day off from working at summer camp and I got it done.

It's a Viking rune on my left shoulder. It looks like a lightening bolt inside a square rock. It stands for life force, wholeness and the sun's energy.
http://www.cooolart.com/Runes/Sowelu.jpg

I still like it, although it has faded in the sun and adventures of my last 12 years. A good family friend is very into tattoos, she almost has full sleeves on both arms. This summer when I turned 30 she offered to take me to her tattoo artist to have my tattoo updated. I could changed it if I wanted to which got me thinking. Now that I am 30 what events have impacted my life that I would want to remember?

Well, 3 years ago now I lost 5 family members in the span of about 4-5 months. My maternal grandmother to old age, my maternal grandfather to old age, an aunt/cousin to cancer, an uncle to cancer, and another uncle to old age. It's very hard to work through the grieving process when you are constantly restarting. I had just moved to a new school that fall, was getting married in the summer and had moved to a new house. Suffice it to say it was all a little much. I ended up having panic attacks and sleep problems. All around it was not a great time in my life.

But I do believe that these moments, or multiple moments, create who we are and I know I wouldn't be who I am today if I hadn't had to live through that. Losing my aunt to cancer was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. She was my ultimate role model. A teacher who gave everything to her students. In our small town she would bring kids to her home, bathe them, feed them and clothe them if their families weren't able to provide for them. She raised a Down Syndrome child and became an advocate for all students with disabilities and she died three weeks before her daughter's wedding and seven days after my grandfather. It crushed me, and it crushed my heart.

My mother's parents died within 3 months of each other almost to the day. My grandmother went first in the spring. She slipped and fell on the ice and January and never fully recovered. My grandfather woke up everyday and went to the hospital to sit with her. They had spent their whole married lives fighting. As long as I knew them they slept in separate bedrooms, fought like cats and dogs, and my mom tells of times when she was young that they were separated and my grandfather left the family to live somewhere else. But when it came down to the big stuff, when she was sick, he was there, everyday. And when she slipped away a part of him went with her. He seldom changed out of his pyjamas, didn't leave the house and just sort of became a shadow. This big man who my whole life had been a rock for our family couldn't bear to live without my grandma, and so he slipped away in the fall.

My father's sister was divorced before I was even old enough to know she had been married, but "Uncle Jim" had always been around. "He's your aunt's friend" my mom would tell me. So when they finally got married no one was surprised and everyone was happy. He was also a big man in my life. Always smiling, always happy and always the life of a party. So when lung cancer started to eat away at his body and took the youthfulness from his face it was devastating to our family. By the time he passed on he looked 30 years older than his 60+ years and was in a great deal of pain.

So in memory of these important people in my life, (including my paternal grandfather who passed away when I was in high school) I am going to change my tattoo, I have decided to get a big shooting start with 5 little stars around it. This weekend, I think, will be a healthy move forward. I try to remember them everyday and often the thoughts and love I have for my lost family members brings tears to my eyes and sadness to my heart.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Words, Words, Words

I like words. I like reading them. I like writing them. I like saying them and I like learning about them.

It may make me a nerd, but I actually like report card time because it is the only time during the year when my job requires me to really use the skills I acquired during my four years in undergraduate english literature. I mean sure, I teach reading and novels etc..but there is no way my students have the ability to really dissect a piece of writing they way I did in university. Of course, I also teach essay writing (and sentences and paragraphs) but really that is just an exercise in futility and banging my head against the wall in most cases.

But then report cards come along and I have to find ways to word things so that is sounds positive in a learning skill comment. Things like "Student A is encouraged to find ways to actively use his agenda on a daily basis in order to track his assignment deadlines more effectively." Read: Your student does not ever complete his homework. Ever.

Or "Student B often distracts others around them during class work times and as a result has had difficulties completing assigned work during class this term." Read: Your student never shuts up and no one around her gets anything done either.

You see the challenge here?

So I do enjoy the writing of learning skills. However, there are always those students who never speak, never misbehave, never....just never. What do you say about them? I have spent two months, almost 2 and half and a few of the kids I know practically nothing about! Do they have vocal chords? Do they breathe on a frequent basis? Who knows?

Report cards are an interesting thing because we get lectured at that they are "legal documents" but no one really knows how to read them. I can say something like "-demonstrates a limited ability to summarize important details from written texts, citing evidence and using description" in English and what does that mean? Well, I know that it means their child had trouble reading a story and telling me all the important events that happened in the story...but does the parent?

The education system is an interesting beast...so many things to fix and so many things working correctly.

But at least it gives me three chances a year to use words.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's 5:30....am

It's 5:30 am, on a Saturday...and I am awake. There is no real reason for me to be awake and yet I am. I got up to use the washroom, and the dog was sitting there at the top of the stairs looking at me expectantly. I figured he must need to go out as well, so we did that. And now I am sitting here on the couch writing to the void.

The dog has gone back to bed, he's a smart one for sure. I poured myself some juice and as I sit here writing I know I should just drink it up and head back to bed, but for some reason I am enjoying sitting here in the quietness and the stillness. I feel like I am on a precipice this morning. Like this is the one moment between the calm and the storm.

My husband and I are finding that every weekend between now and the holidays is filling up, and it's filling up faster than we can even keep track of. Tomorrow I am heading off to hang out with my best friend for her 30th birthday weekend. We are going to the spa, out for dinner, and shopping...all in the middle of report card season.

Report card season comes three times a year in my school board. They have been batting around the idea of two reports for year, but no luck this year. I always want to do NOTHING during report card season. The marking of final projects and unit tests builds up, the calculations of averages needs to be done and the comments need to be written. I don't cook, I don't clean (the house, I do shower still!), and I don't want to go out. But this year plans crept up on me and I found myself saying yes before I even realized it would be report card season.

Now I would not obviously miss my best friend's 30th birthday weekend...but it does raise the stress level just a little. I mean while I am at the spa today nobody is going to be marking my 45 short stories, right? Anyway, all I am saying is that while it's good to be loved and popular (comparatively speaking, my friends want to hang out with me at least) the next week is going to be a struggle to get through to complete reports and not go crazy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

What I Am Listening To...

I cranked the tunes as I made dinner tonight. A fabulous, gourmet meal of tomato soup and chicken finger salad. I danced through my kitchen and the living room. The dog chased me and danced around me as well...it was a great time. Freeing and liberating. Crazy and fun.

A blast from the past came my way through the magic of iTunes...ahhh, Alanis Morisette. I missed you so. I remember fondly back to the days of Grade 10 when Jagged Little Pill came out and it was all the rage (Do people still say "all the rage"? It's hard to stay on top of the trends when you teach Grade 8 and they say all sorts of weird things you can possible hope to keep up. Anyway, Head Over Feet started playing and all sorts of memories flooded back through me, the way only a good song can influence. I loved it. This song was an important part of a happy time for me and the lyrics are something to be remembered for sure.

"Head Over Feet" ~ Alanis Morisette

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your case time and again
I thought about it

You treat me like I'm a princess
I'm not used to liking that
You ask how my day was

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

Your love is thick and it swallowed me whole
You're so much braver than I gave you credit for
That's not lip service

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You're the best listener that I've ever met
You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I've never felt this healthy before
I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault 

Are You Serious?

Today I gave 4 boys in my Grade 8 class a second chance. They basically have 0 in everything I teach them due to the fact that they have handed in absolutely no work so far. I am not exaggerating here.

So I sat them down and explained that they had two choices. I was not keeping them after school for a detention or a punishment. They could stay and work on the missing work, which I would then mark and they would no longer be failing. Or they could leave now, and their mark would still be a zero. One boy had a doctor's appointment and asked if he could come back tomorrow. Fine. Two boys chose to stay and started right away on their work. The fourth boy stacked his chair, grabbed his bag and left. For real.

I don't even know what to say here. Welcome to Grade 8. I miss Grade 7 already.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Daylight Savings Time

I really do think that this time of the year is my favourite time of the year. A whole extra hour in my day...this is the stuff I dream about all year long. The possibilities of the things that you can do with an extra hour are astounding and endless.
You could:
1) sleep
2) clean the house
3) eat more ice cream
4) finish the laundry for a change
5) go for a walk
6) watch an old movie
7) read a good book
8) have lunch with a friend
etc etc etc

AHHH, just the decision making about this extra hour keeps me smiling.

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