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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Friday

I am very happy that it is Friday.

Weekends are fun.

Except when you have to get up early on a Saturday.

That's not fun.

But it's for a good cause.

I am taking a course.

Plus, I'll sleep in on Sunday.

Maybe I'll stay in bed all day on Sunday.

Yeah. Maybe.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heart on My Sleeve

When I care about stuff, I care about it big time. I care all the way. With my whole heart and my whole self. There is no halfway with me and many times it comes back to bite me in the ass. I have a hard time taking things lightly and just putting my time in. I want things to go well, I want people to try their best, I want to have high standards and then work really hard to go over them. I care too much about a lot of things.

It's one of the things I like the best about me.

It's one of the things I like the least about me.

When I get upset, angry, sad, frustrated, disappointed, mad, outraged, indignant, incredulous, etc, etc I tear up. Every time. Since the beginning of time. It's so annoying and frustrating and embarrassing. I am a 30 year old woman who essentially cries when she doesn't get her way. Now, I know that isn't true but it's how it feels like it appears when I am at work dealing with a situation of complete unprofessionalism that rocks my world so completely that I am immediately angered, frustrated, disappointed. So what do I do? Cry. Tears.

Why can't I be icy. Frigid in my anger.

Why can't I shout and swear and let my feelings known to the world?

Why can't I think of supremely haughty things to say that will leave my listeners speechless?

Why do I always cry?

My sister says I feel too much, or that my emotions overwhelm me. Something like that. All I know is that I care a lot about my job, my career, my friends and my beliefs. And apparently I am willing to cry about it.

The Road Onward

In the spirit of being more positive here are some things I am looking forward to... you know, in life.

Painting my guest rooms.

Painting the kitchen cupboards.

Re-reading the Lord of the Rings series.

Going to Paris.

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef.

Helping to build a school in Africa.

Writing a novel.

Having a family.

My parents' visit in June.

The summer off (except for summer school)

Teaching Grade 4

My sister's wedding

Getting  a second dog

Buying a bigger house

Going our for dinner and movie date with my husband on Friday

Getting my hair cut next week

Getting new Birkenstocks

Going to some Jay's games this summer

Art journalling

Meeting new people and making new friends

Drinking wine

Cuddling on the couch with my puppy

Running 5k, 10K, maybe a marathon (let's not get too crazy!)

Going to Egypt

Volunteering for Habitat of Humanity

Buying fabulous heels and purses, wherever, whenever

Sitting in the sun

Backyard BBQ's

Reading the 3rd book in the Hunger Game trilogy

Finally learning what's going to happen at the end of Lost

Watching the next Glee episode

Having a yummy dinner- I'm thinking pizza tonight

Re-organizing my home office

Organizing my new classroom

Meeting new colleagues

Going to the antique market

Sleeping in

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Glee

Is anyone else obsessed?

No?

Just me?

I love it. I love every minute of it.

I wish it was on everyday... everyday!

I also wish my moods would stop swinging all over the place.

Seriously, one minute- gloomy. The next- smiles. Thoughts?

Proud and Positive

I am working hard to stay positive at work everyday, I never realized how hard teaching Grade 8 would be compared to Grade 7. I miss my sweet little 12 year olds. 13 year olds and 14 year olds seem a little monstrous these days (Not ALL, obviously but the "bad" kids always seem to make their presence known). I am finding myself lost in negativity and wishing I could claw and climb my way out of my funk. The art journal seems to be helping as it is a creative outlet for each day. I am pretty sure that by the end of the 6 weeks I will be hooked, it may be a whole new past time for me. Imagine the possibilities...an art journal of my reading, of my dreams, of my family, the list could go on and on and on....


This is the tissue paper collage I did today, and I am super proud of it. I am waaaaay better at the "crafty" stuff as compared to the art and drawing stuff. I think in the future I will remember that. 

It doesn't have to look like the teacher's!

On a completely (yet not) unrelated note:

One of my favourite bloggers, Nat the Fat Rat, had a delurking day awhile back. Everyone that visits her blog but never leaves comments was asked to de-lurk themselves and leave a comment. I loved it!! I try to comment as often as possible, but sometimes I am a lurker. 

So today I am asking that everyone de-lurk themselves and leave me a comment. 

Write about a ray of sunshine from your life that I can wrap myself in and feel good about and wake up smiling at the thought of tomorrow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Do you do?

Do you plan to clean? I have been toying with the idea of making a weekly cleaning schedule FOREVER!! I have long felt that if I did a little house work everyday that I would accomplish more than if I just waited until the weekend.

Do you think so?

Does anyone else do this?

Will it make me feel like I am constantly cleaning?

I hope my house will look perpetually neater.

Any suggestions for which activities I should do on which days?

I did laundry today. Four loads. And folded it. (But it's not put away! Does it still count as being done?)

If I miss one day in the schedule will I feel pressured to do double to work the next day?

So many questions...so few answers.

Art Journalling

Today is the first official day of the art journalling class my sister and I are taking and I am super excited for it! I like the idea of being crafty and creative, but if I want it to be just for me that's cool too! It's a little bit scrap booking, a little bit drawing (not my forte) and a little bit writing. I think it's all fun right now!

I added my first pages, the introduction pages, and today's writing prompt to Flickr.




Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.















Carol Burnett (1936 - )

Sunday, April 25, 2010

EW Summer Reading Challenge

Do I need another reading challenge? I haven't "failed" any of the ones I've signed up for yet...but I haven't finished any either. Hmmm, such a conundrum.


Here's what I am talking about- Booking Mama is hosting the EW Summer Reading Challenge based on Entertainment Weekly's top 18 books people are looking forward to this summer. Since there are a few books that I am waiting for already I figure it shouldn't a HUGE stretch to finish this challenge. 


Here are the books I was already planning to read:
MOCKINGJAY, Suzanne Collins
THE SHORT SECOND LIFE OF BREE TANNER, Stephenie Meyer 


These ones I found particularly interesting

THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE, Aimee Bender
RED HOOK ROAD, Ayelet Waldman
THIS BODY OF DEATH, Elizabeth George

That would put me at the Guppy Level (4-6 books) if I read them all, however I think in order to ensure success I am going to sign up for the Polliwog Level (1-3 books). 


Will you join the fun?

Sunday Salon

So many things to write about...just one post?

Well, I think I can say I am officially out of my funk from last week. It could just be that it is the weekend and I didn't have to go to work....but I am looking on the positive side and am hoping it is more than that! Lots of fun and good stuff (is that grammatically correct?) is starting to happen so I think that will help me be funk-less.

The  YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle is starting up over at The Shady Glade! I am signed up to judge an upcoming round in June when a previous "loser" book (not a bad book, just one that lost it's bracket contest) is brought back into the competition. My judging partner is Jan from Eating YA Books and I am really excited/ nervous for this experience. Our bracket is pretty close to the end of the competition, what if I choose wrong? What if everybody disagrees with our decisions? ....Scary. But exciting.

My sister and I start our online art journaling class tomorrow. I am crazy excited for this to start. I loved the introduction tutorial and think it's going to be a fun, creative and introspective experience. We just need to figure out how we are going to get together to be able to work on the pages or whether we will do some separately? It's a 6-week course but I think we will still have access to the site after the 6 weeks so maybe we don't need to rush to cram it all in? We went shopping together today for all sort of fun "ephemera" we can use on our pages and we learned, the hard way, that scrap booking and paper supplies are expensive! But I keep thinking about the awesome journal I am going to have at the end and I feel better!

I finished my taxes. Mine and my husband's. Yeah.

I finished another book for my school board review committee- Lilydale Awakening by Wendy Corsi Staub. This was a very interesting book, and the first in a series. I like series for young readers because they are able to become friends, or enemies, with the characters over a longer period of time and think more about what they are reading. The premise behind this first book is that Calla's mother died suddenly in an accident in their home, her life has been ripped upside down and to top it all she has to go and live with her grandmother, who she barely knows, in Lilydale. Once she arrives in Lilydale she learns it is the world's largest congregation of spiritualists- those people who can communicate with the dead- and she begins to discover she may have talents of her own in this area. I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. I think I read it in less than 2 days? Highly recommended for younger readers who enjoy a little mysticism and mystery!

I had a great night with SB from not too serious I hope. We caught up from the 6+ year break we have had in our face-to-face friendship! Her house is beautiful. E is beyond gorgeous. And SB is just as fabulous to chat with as I remember. A night well spent.

Other than all this...I have some marking and lesson planning I want to do, I hear Hex Hall calling my name and I want to start it! (Not to mention my sister brought me The Children's Book which I have been wanting to read forever). So much to do, so little time.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Finished...Reads, Reads and Reads

My personal reading has been dictated in the last week or so by the 10+ books I have to finish by June 9th for the school board review committee! Thankfully, I choose some pretty short junior-esque (Grade 4-6) novels this time around so I should be okay. I am always surprised by the quality of books we are given to read, so many end up being classified as "good" or "excellent" and then recommended for purchase in the libraries of my school board.

So far this round I have read:

Sunny Holiday by Coleen Murtagh Paratore- a cute story about a young girl who lives with her mother and her father is in prison. The dreaded "bus-girls" bully her at school but she rises above it, shows her community what she's made of and provides a voice of leadership for young girls, there's also some great bits about creative writing, a community of women supporting each other, and learning from your mistakes

Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester- I wrote a review about this book here

Nothing But The Truth by Avi- this is a documentary novel according to the cover, it's written in the forms of memos, letters, dialogue transcripts etc about a boy who hums along to the national anthem and is kicked out of class for causing a disturbance, the story line follows what happens as this becomes a national story and the circles around the central idea of whose perspective is the truth!?

Box Out by John Coy- this was another really interesting read, Liam makes the varsity basketball team even though he is only a sophomore and really wants to make a good impression but once he's in the locker room he discovers that the coach consistently leads the team in Christian prayers and encourages them to attend Christian fellowship-style meetings, the catch is that Liam goes to a public high school where not everyone is a Christian, the story follows his decision to follow his beliefs or follow his love of the game

I received a couple books in the mail this week as well that I am looking forward to reading-

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Beastley by Alex Finn

...and for my profession reading-

Reading Ladders by Teri Lesesne.

I must admit, just talking and write about books and reading does wonders to lift me out of my funk!


Don't forget- Friday is the Book Blogger Hop over at Crazy for Books!
I am going away for the weekend, but my plan is to do some blog hopping when I return on Sunday!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Un-Inspiration

I have been really struggling to come up with great things to post about lately. I think it's because school is on the downward spiral to the end, I am worn out and just a case of the spring blahs. I can't decide if I should take a break from blogging, push through it and see where I get.

The best word to describe my attitude about everything lately is..."Meh."

I haven't read any great books lately.
I haven't been sleeping well.
The weather has turned coldish again.

I just feel all negative and blah....I am trying not to send my negativity out into the world but it's difficult. I am hoping a weekend away with my sister and seeing an old friend will help cure these blues.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day for More Days

Tomorrow is Earth Day!


In the spirit of tomorrow's celebrations I thought I would post today about some of my favourite eco-iniatives. I am not the "green queen" as we call the fabulous teacher at my school who runs the Green Club but I am firm believer in doing all we can to help our Earth, even in small ways. Take a look at some if the eco-actions I have taken, and you can too.


PlanetFesto


PlanetFesto wants to build a ribbon, a virtual ribbon, around the world to express our love for the planet and to make a pledge for what we will do to help keep it safe. It's a planet manifesto- a planetfesto! You can choose an image or upload your own and make a promise to your home.


Here is mine!


Reusable Water Bottles


Read this and you will be running to get a reusable bottle and NEVER use a plastic bottle again!


I just recently purchased 3 Sigg water bottles and am loving them!


Reusable Shopping Bags


Here in Ontario there are fewer places where we can even get plastic bags for free, and really who would want one when the reusable ones are sooo much cuter?? Keep some in your car, your purse, and take them with you!


Need some bags??


Smart Bag


Enviro Sax


Compost


Why not? They pick it up at your curb, at least the do here, and food waste is just not good in a landfill!
Organics in landfills break down anaerobically, producing methane gas...
a substance 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a contributor to climate change.
http://www.resourceconservation.mb.ca/cap/why.html

I would love to hear about what everyone is doing to help our home as well! Any good tips?




Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teachin' Tuesday- Re-Con Mission



I learned a couple great strategies over the last few days as I have been out of my classroom and at some workshops. I like to pay attention to the strategies workshop facilitators use with adults as they are often great for the classroom of kids!!

The one I like the best, and that I am going to try on Thursday is called Re-Con (Reconnaissance) Mission.  After you have had the students working in groups on a task- venn diagram, chart, mind map, etc send them out to do some reconnaissance work on what the other groups have thought of and then they can add the new ideas to their work! I think this would build the idea of community in a classroom, as well as help validate student work as they can see when other groups valued their contribution enough to include on their chart. You can have them do their original work in one colour and then the re-con ideas in a second colour so they stand out.

images.clipartof.com/

We have been doing quite a bit of work in the textbook about unions and the change in roles for women during the Industrial Revolution so I think I will give the students some time to consolidate their learning by using this strategy!

I also learned TTYNA... which stands for Turn To Your Neighbour And... then you give a prompt like "explain your thoughts", "share your answer". It's really a more modern version of Think/Pair/Share and imagine how cool you will be when you use the letter slang so popular with kids!! LOL

Monday, April 19, 2010

Are Recycling Bins Recyclable? And Other Questions of an Unanswerable Nature

Recycling Bin Woes
Ours broke so we bought a new one and left the old for pick up....for the last three weeks! It wasn't picked up the first week and we assumed that was because it was still relatively intact, albeit with a huge hole in the side! So we tried again the next week- nothing. Last night my husband broke it into pieces and put them into the blue bin. When I returned home this evening not only were the pieces of the bin still here but so was a glass container, a full newspaper and a metal lamp shade. Has recycling ended? Did we miss something? Calls to the city have yielded no helpful response other than "We'll monitor your recycling pick up". Oh, ya? How? I tried Googling "are recycling bins recyclable" and got no response! This leads me to believe that if Google doesn't know then no one does.


Grocery Shopping
When is the best time to go grocery shopping? After work, like I had planned today? Nope, too tired and just couldn't drag myself there. On the weekends? But it's so busy and you end up bumping into a million people and waiting in line for ever! Should you get up in the middle of the night and go to a 24 hour grocery store? That might not help the tired issue. When will they create refrigerators that just replenish themselves? You know, like on Star Trek?


Mediocrity
Are some people just okay with being okay? Do some people have no aspirations to be better at their chosen profession and don't care who knows it? A co-worker congratulated me today on my new job and then followed that by saying. "Someone at your new school is going to be pissed because now the bar will be set higher and they are going to have to do more work. At least we all can rest easier around here." ??????? Compliment...part of it maybe? I will never understand people who don't want to be their best (NOT the best, THEIR best) at whatever they've chosen to be, even if it's just themselves  (Brian, looks like we were thinking similar thoughts today.)


Student Questions
I know I am going to Grade 4 and the questions are just going to be coming at me fast a furious but Grade 8's pull out some really doozies too. Please examine Exhibit A below.


Bell rings.
Students enter class and take their seats.
I start to take attendance.
Billy Bob Student raises his hand approximately 45 seconds since class has started.
I call on him, "Yes, Billy Bob?"
Billy Bob asks, "What;s our homework?"
Please note, I haven't finished taking attendance yet and have definitely NOT taught anything or assigned any work.


Exhibit B.
I say, "Does anyone have any questions about tomorrow's quiz, other than 'what's on the quiz'  because I posted that on the website?"
Randy Ray Student puts up his hand.
I say, "Yes, Randy Ray."
Randy Ray replies, "Can you tell us what is on the quiz?"
???????????


Exhibit C
30 seconds after Randy Ray asked his 'question' Stevie Lou raises his hand.
I call on him, "Yes, Stevie Lou?"
Stevie Lou asks, "What kinds of questions are there on the quiz?" (Why do students always want to know that? Does is help them study? But, I digress...)
I answer with, "Multiple choice, fill in the blank, and one essay question."
Stevie Lou, "What is the fill in the blank on?"
For real? Cause I am going to tell what the question is about? Come 'on!! I suppose you have to give him credit for trying though.


Taxes
Who invented income taxes? Loser.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Salon- Less Reading, More Renovating

I haven't done a lot of reading today instead I finished the painting in my kitchen and finally have pictures to show you all. (More on that later) I am, however, about halfway through Tempted (the latest book in the House of Night series from PC and Kristin Cast). I don't love it, not in the way I have loved other vampire books but I am far enough into the series now that I feel I have to finish it. My opinion on the House of Night series, and many people may disagree with me, is that it is low-brow. Too much swearing. Too much sex. Not enough intellectual activity. I do really like that there is a positive portrayal of a teenage gay couple and it is not stereotyped (too much) or treated poorly. It's very sweet and accepted as the norm by the other characters.


Coming up for me in my reading is a really busy time. I have about 8 books to read before the beginning of June for my school board review committee, but they are mostly junior aged books so it shouldn't be all that bad. I can crank out those puppies in a few hours! After all, I am going to teach Grade 4 not be in Grade 4! I have also signed up (hopefully) to judge the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle being hosted by Alyssa at The Shady Glade. Alyssa has described the battle as such: "The YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle is a bracket-style judging contest to pick the best nominated debut work published in the last year (and a little bit of 2010)."  You can read more about it at her blog!


So without further ado....


The Kitchen Pictures- I'll start with some befores, then durings and finally....TA DA!! The afters.








Kahne does not like renovations...

...see??

After. Done. Done. And done.












Have a fantastic Monday!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Kitchen Renovations That Never End...

So today was the big day. The painting day. The day to end the kitchen renovation. The day to be done.

But...


not so. We went to Home Depot last night to buy the paint, and baseboards (I am the painter today and my husband is the baseboard installer) and planned to get up this morning and start. So at 8:00am and a coffee in hand we were ready. We wanted a colour that was a little grey, a little brown, and not too dark. It matches our tile grout PERFECTLY but it makes the cupboards look very yellow now...so I am thinking I would like to paint them a true white like the baseboards and the window trim. My husband is concerned that will make everything too light.

One thing I know for sure is that nothing other than the wall painting and the baseboards is getting done today! Well, maybe the light fixture but I think we should live with the cupboards for a while, get some art work up and window coverings and then decide.

Is redecorating and renovating this complex for everyone? Or do we just do it the hard way?

We still have so many things are our to-do list that it feels like by the time we get it all done we will want to move! But the kitchen is the focus for now and we will get that done. I promise to post pictures tomorrow or Monday when the paint is dry and everything goes back into the kitchen (again!!) So you can all see and weigh in with your opinions on the cupboards.

In other news... my sister and I signed up for the Art Journaling class at Red Velvet Art.com. We received a link to the top secret site and a bonus tutorial to get started on our art journals. I went over to her place on Thursday night and we journaled away the evening. It was great fun and I loved doing it. I am not very arty, but I am pretty crafty so this type of "art" is right up my alley. We both uploaded pictures of our pages to the Red Velvet Art Flickr site . My user name is "Bethanyboopboop" and Jenni's is "Jennijaneway" if you want to check out our pages. Many other people have uploaded theirs as well and the talent is amazing. There's plenty of time if you want to join the class as well, just head over to Red Velvet Art.com.

The rest of my Saturday will be spent marking (yeah, last 3 months of marking Grade 8 work!!) and then putting a second coat on the kitchen. I hope to squeeze some reading in as well, and maybe knitting.

As you can see I am a party animal on the weekend.



Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Blogger Hop- Yeppers, It's Here Again

The Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Jen at Crazy For Books is back!! This has been a great way for me to find new blogs and bloggers that are as reader crazy as me. Jen asked that this time around we share some of the great blogs we have found through the hop. I can't actually remember if I found some of these blogs through the hop, or through a blog I found on the hop and then I went to a link they shared...but either way here are some GREAT book bloggers!



Une Parole- thanks for the award!!



Trapped!

I went to a fantastic workshop today, one that I have been looking forward to for almost a year. Last year, I went to a two-day conference with Bruce Wellman, the author of Mentoring Matters. He is an amazing speaker and presenter, and the strategies he uses make sense and are immediately useful and interesting. I really want to become a great mentor and help teachers that are new to the profession. I know this is going to help me on my way. Today, I got to return to the site of my first workshop with Bruce Wellman and go deeper into the idea of mentoring (I also get to go to a session with him on Tuesday of next week!!) However, I got trapped with a partner today that made me cringe for almost the entire day. If the information being presented wasn't so interesting I might not have made it through the day.

The woman I sat with seemed very well-intentioned and I have no doubt that she tries hard to be a fantastic teacher for her students, however, she never stopped talking. NEVER STOPPED. And a lot of what she said was politically incorrect. She complained about (her words) "having a disabled kid in the class who's chair and stuff takes up all the room. They never use to let those kids in the room." She also made several and repeated references to different ethnic groups, how much stuff cost, how her son was dating a slut, that she got all the bad kids in her class and everyone else had perfect classes, she had loaned people teaching materials and they were never returned, she bought a new dog and it cost a lot, etc, etc, etc. I tried my very best to make non-commital remarks like, "ummm", "ahhh", "oh" in the hopes she would give up. Not my luck.

I made repeated a long trips to the washroom, missing out on information being presented, I attempted to read, READ, the textbook we were studying but she just never stopped. Like I said, she seemed very well-intentioned in the area of wanting to do well by her students, but it is teachers like this that give the rest of us the label of complainers. Sometimes I feel like I am a negative person who dwells on the bad stuff, but compared to this Debbie Downer I am little Miss Mary Sunshine!


I texted my sister in the middle of the day when I just couldn't take it anymore and she suggested I get up and move, but it was a small group...no more than 25 people and it would have been very noticeable. I am just glad that she won't be there on Tuesday when I go back and sadly, a part of me hopes we don't run into each other again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's 6:07am, and it's official!

I have been offered a Grade 4 position next year at one of the schools I interviewed with and I gladly accepted! Sooooo excited, and nervous. I'll be moving from Grade 8 to Grade 4...crazy!

Sigh, now I have to get up and go on with my day as normal. But Grade 4! How awesome is that?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surfing around...

Do you ever just go where the internet (or internets as my grandmother calls it) takes you. You flow through and click on links and just find stuff. Lots of it makes you smile, some of it makes you think, and all of it changes you? Well, sometimes I can spend HOURS just surfing around checking things out online.

I want to do this for my next birthday, the big 31!

This is my next goal for Me to We, or my own personal giving- One Day's Wages. 

I bought 2 Sigg waterbottles today at school. The Green Club is selling them to help reduce our use of plastic. I got one for personal use (Make Love Not Landfill) and one to stay at school (Scanning the Globe). And here's how they make it!

Put a ribbon around the world. It's the Planetfesto- the planet's manifesto. Post an image and your promise to help this world we all love and live on.

Have you read this whole list? How about this one?

We got a package for my dad to go golfing on Father's Day (or near Father's Day) with my husband today. My husband and sister worked it all out. This course has replicas of all sorts of famous golf course hole...fun.

And now I am off to catch up on some of my shows that I have missed over the past few days. Have a great night!!


My sister and I have signed up to do this online class together! Can't wait!

The Road by Cormac McCarthy- Review

I had heard many, many things about this book before I read it...not all good, per se, but all intriguing and this is what made me put it on me Books to Read Before I Die challenge list and pick it up in the first place. 


This is the blurb found at chapters.ca about the book:
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don''t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food--and each other.The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other''s world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.


I was told that I would feel devastated and empty when I finished this book. That it would move me profoundly. So as I read it, and was not drawn in I felt myself wondering, "What's wrong with me?". There are so many great reviews and positive things that have been said about this book that maybe it's me? ...


I found myself skimming through the parts of the book as a I had a difficult time with the lack of punctuation, improper grammar and awkward sentence structure. I never felt moved by this journey being undertaken by a father and son. It didn't seem extra-ordinary. To me that's what any parent would do in that situation for their child, they would attempt to get their child to a place where they may be safe. They would use any measures necessary to do so. And they would do it out of love.


So what made this father and son so different than any other parent and child? Nothing really in my eyes. I am very interested to see the movie and wonder if my reaction might be different when faced with the visual aspects of this story?


I feel sort of at odds with the world since I didn't like this book, and knowing that as least one other person (thanks SB!) wasn't drawn in does make me feel better. I wouldn't recommend this book, however, the world is made up of all sorts of people and they are many other people out there that would recommend it. So....choose for yourself on this one, I guess!

Awwww

So many well wishes and you all don't even know what it's for. Soon, though. Soon!

Thanks!! I am looking forward to Thursday morning when the news is official I will be getting a call around 6 am...yes, AM...and I will post asap after that so everyone hears the news. Have a great Wednesday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Good News...

I can't quite talk about the specifics yet, which I know is super cruel and mean after so many people have offered me nothing but good wishes, however, I did receive an unofficial job offer today from one of the schools I interviewed at last week! It's a great opportunity and definitely something I am going to consider. The official offer will come on Thursday morning and I will let everyone know about my decision then. Sorry for all the mystery and intrigue, but I just can't divulge the specifics yet!

I will say that I am super happy and glad I made the decision that I did to leave my current school and look for new opportunities. I think I will be happier and grow more as an individual and a teacher in the next year or so...I can't wait for the next year to start!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Salon- Books, Take Me Away


There hasn't been a whole lot of reading going on the past few days, or even really this past week other than reading blogs and stuff. I haven't seem to be able to sit down and concentrate long enough to get into a book. I am currently reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy and listening to The Sherlock Holmes Collection on audiobook whenever I work out or take the dog for a walk. Neither one seems to be really grabbing my attention or calling to me to read the way some books do.


You know how sometimes you pick up a book and start reading and the characters are so alive and so real to you that it's almost like you are drawn to the book. Any spare moment you have you must keep reading just to find out what's going to happen next. And when you get to the end of the book you are incredibly sad because even though you now know everything about the characters and their happy, or not so happy, endings the book is over and the intense feeling of wanting to be a part of that world is gone forever. This is the feeling I am constantly chasing when I pick a new book. 


I want my reading to consume me. I want the author to transport me to another world where I am experiencing all the emotions, the highs and lows, and the society that I am reading about. I don't want to just read to pass the time. I want it to be an experience that stays with me, that continues to pull at me and my thoughts, that changes me in some way. It is this experience that I am forever chasing for myself and my students. 


Perhaps this is my I like historical fiction and fantasy so much because just by the very nature of the setting you are transported to a new place. I like when the author describes the everyday things of life- meals, activities, school, work, fashion- because then I can really visualize the world and start to feel as though I am a part of it all. I think books that are able to do this for a reader, transport the reader into the book, are the books that stand the test of time and the ones that teach us, change us, and re-create us.


There are have been many (MANY) books over the years that have done this for me, and they are ones I often find myself returning to time and again to re-read and re-read.


Here's my list (so far! I've only had one coffee and am still in bed on this lovely Sunday morning so more may come to mind).


Anne of Green Gables- the entire series (which I re-read pretty much every year), I agonize over Anne's predicaments everything, I cry for Matthew and I root for Gilbert


Little House on the Prairie- the entire series, I haven't read these since was a child but I loved how Laura Ingalls Wilder described all the food they ate, how they made their home, and the small daily activities in their life


Emma- I remember reading this is 2nd year of university and loving every page, I couldn't put it down


The Outlander Series- I will be forever grateful to my friend S for introducing me to Diana Gabaldon, Jamie and Claire


The Outsiders- I read it in Grade 8, and taught it for 5 years in Grade 7...it is one of the ultimate coming of age stories


The Hunger Games- this will get boys reading!!


The Harry Potter Series- Oh Hogwarts, why can't you be a real place?


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy- If only I could meet a hobbit...


Othello- my favourite of all Shakespeare's plays, and yes I have read them all


The Pillars of the Earth- a more recent addition to the list, but this book captivated me for the entire 900+ pages


The Notebook- a cheesy-ish addition but I cried and cried and cried and it made me see my grandparents and other long lasting relationships in a  different way


The Historian- I love me some vampires!


War Brothers- get your middle school kids to read this and then talk, talk, talk to them about how we are responsible to care for each other


The Shack- thank you Jennibean for giving me this to read


Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World- this as become a guiding light for me in my teaching and interactions with students


Okay...I think I will stop there and may be think about doing a 2nd post in the near future...the list could go on and on. I want to know about the books that changed you, taught you, helped you and think in new ways. 


What would be on your list?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

His and Hers Decisions

So here's the situation...I have been curling in a bonspiel all weekend with some acquaintances from my weekly curling league. My husband has been grouting the back splash tile in the kitchen. I came home for a short hour or so break that my team has between finishing our game and dinner. I said that I thought it would be great if he and our friends (his cousin and girlfriend, who is my good friend...did you follow that?) should come out to the club after they ate as there was going to be music and dancing and we could make it a night out.

He said, "Ummm, well..."

So I said it was fine if he didn't want to go but could he then drop me off so I could have a few drinks and then he could come back to get me.

He said, "Ummm, well..."

So I said that was fine I would just drive myself and then come home early rather than stay and drink with my team. He said he wanted to have a few drinks with J and K when they came over. I said they have a bar at the club.

He said, "Ummm, well..."

I said...nothing. I went upstairs to get ready and am now writing this post. I will be leaving to go back to the club in a few moments. He isn't coming... I guess. He isn't driving me... I guess. And we aren't having an impromptu night out with friends... I guess.

So who's right here, do you think? Is anyone? Is no one? Such a strange situation and resolution that really isn't a resolution because was there ever really a problem? And if so should I be worried that we had a fight and I didn't win or maybe I did win. And yet maybe no one won? Or lost?

Read-a-thon

There is a 24 hour read-a-thon going on this weekend and quite a few of my blogging friends, (I can call you all my friends can't I? ) are participating and I am jealous. A whole weekend set aside to read! How glorious.

I, however, am not participating as I am curling in a bonspiel all weekend while my husband finishes grouting the kitchen tile for our backsplash. I promise to have pictures up soon but I am have been waiting until we got the painting done so you could see the entire room in all its glory.

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend, no matter what you are doing. Relax and enjoy the time off.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How about this one?

I really (REALLY) liked the other blog template I found with the book rack and the girl in classes just like me!! except that it had those super ugly boxes that said "Advertise Here", right SB? And I just could handle having them on my blog because that is not what I want my blog to be about, so now I am trying this template...any thoughts?

Hmmmm, maybe?

I found this new template online that I kinda of like..but I am not really sure. So I am trying it out- for now. The look of my blog may change a little over the next few days. I think I shall try out a few different ones I like and maybe we can all have a little vote?


Side Note: I have discovered lately that I do kinda like change. I don't like having the same background up all the time for my blog...maybe that's why I am feeling so good about my decision to move schools?


Embrace change!!


And please feel free to comment on the new template, positives and negatives, bring it on!

Book Blogger Hop

This is the second time I am joining in for Jennifer's Book Blogger Hop over at Crazy for Books. This is a great way to learn about new (to you) bloggers that blog about books and reading. It also promotes your blog and gets people coming out to see you.

So, welcome to all the new visitors from the Book Bloggers Hop. I will be sure to return the favour and head over to your blog sometime this weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Finished Books and Reviews

I have finished some reading in the past week or so, Nanny Returns by Emma McGlaughlin and Nicola Kraus (well, "reading" as it was an audiobook) and Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester.



First, I loved Nanny Returns! It was great entertainment and also enlightening. As a former nanny and child care giver I have had many moments where you wonder if you could have done it better, as of course parents do as well. Nan has returned to NY and runs into Grayer, the last child she cared for as a nanny. She still lives in fear of his uppity, up-town mother who has no consideration for her children at all. I think this book was fantastic entertainment and uplifting as well. It deals with the theme of family, is it blood that decides family or is it loving relationships? How do you know when you are ready for children? How do you know you won't screw it all up as parenthood? And what does it mean to be a family? I highly recommend this book, or audiobook, for anyone.



The second book I finished was Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders. This is one of the books I am reviewing for the school board review committee. The main character of this book is a 14 year-olf cooking protege who is able to identify any ingredient by its smell. So not only can he cook a fabulous meal, but he does so by determining when your steak is done just by its smell! Cute. Neil Flambe is also called into action by the local police detective to help solve murders and other various mysteries that happen to have a variety of smells as the clues. This book was super cute and I wish I had had it earlier in the year as I was teaching my mystery genre unit. The characters all had food oriented name as the majority of the mystery had to do with famous chefs in Vancouver being murdered. I think this is a great introduction to mysteries for kids and as the first in a series (I believe) it could be something they look forward to reading time and again.

Happiness Is...

Things that made me happy today: 
(in no particular order)
  • It's Thursday! I have a huge, undying love for Thursdays. They are relaxing in a way that Fridays can never be. Fridays are a frantic rush to the weekend. Thursdays are a leisurely stroll towards some time off. Fridays are fast-paced and frenzied as they count down the moments until freedom. Thursdays are quiet and calm in their belief that the weekend is so close. Fridays are time to party, have a drink after work, get somewhere for the weekend. Thursdays are couches and must-see TV. See? Thursdays rule.
  • I have no more interviews to go to. Last night's principal was running behind schedule so my 9:00 interview didn't start until 9:40, which meant I didn't get home until way after 10. Now all I can do is wait and try to figure out which school is my number one choice.
  • We are going to have breakfast for dinner. Eggs and bacon, yummy.
  • One of my students wrote a fantastic letter in her literacy log about setting and how the character's description of the setting illustrated the emotions of the character. Just awesome.
  • Survivor is on tonight. Addiction...it's the only word for it.
  • I started Sex Ed. with my grade 8's today and it wasn't awful.
  • I found an awesome introductory lesson for my Hamlet unit.  
  • These shoes. And the fact that you can make your own! But only in the US (that actually makes me sad)
  • The Kobo E-reader. Only $149.00 and it comes with 100 free classic title. But would I like an e-reader? Any thoughts??
  • Relaxing on the couch.
  • Walking the dog.
  • I can wear jeans tomorrow.
  • Starting another book on my list for the Read Before I Die Challenge
I hope everyone's Thursday was as good as mine!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Interview Timing...Timing Sucks

I must say that I totally understand how much it must suck to interview a million and one people for one position and that sitting in a chair for hours at a time, asking the same questions over and over can not be the height of amusing activities. However, my interview tonight is at 9:00, in the p.m. For real.

At the time of this post I have already...
been home for 4 hours,
walked the dog,
made lasagna from scratch,
baked the lasagna,
ate the lasagna,
divided up the lasagna to be frozen,
wished my friend good luck who came over to eat the lasagna before his interview at 7:00
...and am now posting on my blog.

By the time my interview gets around I will be asleep from all the carbs and cheese racing through my system. Who can be at their best at 9:00 pm after working for a full day and then sitting around for hours. Certainly not me.

Sad, I know. But now I am off to review what I now about being a school librarian as that is the position I am interviewing for tonight. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tales from My Grade 8 Classroom

Short and sweet today...I have been teaching about the Industrial Revolution for a few weeks now and I really was starting to feel like the kids "got it". They were understanding the big ideas, how people's lives changed, what it lead to and came from. Until that it is...

Me: "So let's think about some short and long term changes that would come as a result of the innovations and inventions during the Industrial Revolution. For example, what might be a short term, immediate change after the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed and people could travel all the way west across Canada on the train?"

Student A: "Easier transportation of goods and people."

Me: "Yup, excellent."

Student B: "More people would immigrate west into the open land."

Me: "Love it. Anymore?"

Student C: "There would be a lot less pollution because more people would take the train and that would mean that there would be less cars on the road going west."

Me: "Ummm, okay...let's step back a bit and think about this?"

Oh dear...

Sometimes teaching is such an...adventure? I've learned, over and over, that I should never take prior knowledge for granted. Background knowledge is such a powerful thing and I think that teachers, myself included, too often forget that our students aren't bringing as much knowledge as we are to the classroom.

A little knowledge goes a long way and I believe it's not only our job to teach students what they need to know for the future, but what they need to know from the past to help them learn even more in the future.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hobbies, Balance, and Knitting- The Opposite Side of Teachin' Tuesday

Teachin' Tuesday is being flipped on its head this week and I am looking at the opposite side of work- leisure time. Balance is a word that gets thrown around a lot in teaching. We are told to balance work and life, life and work, home and work, work and family, etc, etc, etc.

Anyone who knows me know I get stuff done. Multi-tasking is my middle name and I do it well. The downside of this is that I don't relax well. I rarely sit still and just do on thing at a time. I do not balance work and home life very well and tend to bring too much of my work home with me, whether that is physically or metaphorically. I do believe that bringing home too much worry and stress is not only a family trait (eh, Jen?) it is also often a teacher's trait. So, that brings us to April 2010 where I am working very hard at not solely focusing on work and trying very hard to cultivate hobbies and other interests to occupy my time.

So what have I been doing to de-stress? Well, I am so glad you asked! This blog has become a fabulous outlet for me to let go of my stress and to learn so many new things that take my mind off school and teaching. Focusing on my reading, trying different reading challenges and reviewing the books I have read is another way I am using my time. Last year I joined a co-ed baseball team with my husband and I am looking forward to our 2010 season starting up in a few weeks. Just this weekend I re-learned how to knit from my grandmother. I was taught as a child and enjoyed doing it, I have always been a crafty kid, not an arty kid. I picked it up again very quickly and am currently about 1/4 of the way through a scarf. I am hoping to tackle the challenge of an afghan next!

All of this focus on hobbies and un-work related pursuits has been on my mind for while and brings many thoughts to mind.

How important is it to have balance?
Does anyone really achieve it?
What does it actually look like when you have kids in the mix?
I am really good at my job (if I do say so myself) so isn't okay to focus on that and want to continue being good and always work at getting better?
My job makes me happy so isn't okay to work at it?

I often wonder of men and women look at this from different points of view as well. Do men worry about this as much as women? Are they better at letting go of the work worries? Or worse? I know that when I come home I want to make a good dinner, have a clean house, be ready for the next day and have a kick-ass lesson to teach in the morning. Is that too much to ask?


It seems that like everything else, balance is work. And if that's the case than really are you finding balance at all?

Ahhhh, the glory of a 4 day weekend

I have been at my parent's house since Thursday night and enjoyed a very restful and relaxing Easter weekend. We don't actually celebrate Easter so it was more of a nice respite from our daily lives. My mom and I went shopping with my cousin who is due to have her 2nd baby in June, my dad and husband golfed...twice! I learned to knit from my grandmother, went to a 40th birthday party, got a few new recipes from my mom and aunt and slept in. All in all it was a great 4 days and I can't honestly say I want to go back to school tomorrow!

I still have some marking I need to finish but would rather be napping or reading. Hmmm, such a tough life I lead. ;)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Long Weekend

I am off to the land of my birth for the Easter weekend. Not it's not actually another country, but close enough. I grew up on the border with Michigan in south-western Ontario and it takes 3.5 (ish) hours to drive there depending on traffic (and speed). I am currently waiting for my husband to arrive home from work so we can pack the car and head off into the sunset...literally.

It will be a weekend of golfing (for the boys), shopping (for the girls), birthday parties, learning to knit from my grandma, Easter dinners and sleeping in. It will also be a weekend without my sister. One of the hardest things about growing up and getting engaged and becoming part of a new family is that sometimes you have to spend the holidays with people other than your own. So my sister and her fiance will be with his family this weekend, showing off the rock as they have not yet seen it and I will have to make do without my sister at home. Not the funnest of times.

I like my sister. A. Lot. We get along well, have fun together and like the same things. Hanging out with her is one of my favourite things to do (awwww, so sweet right?). But not this holiday, not this year.

Now I bet you all are thinking that my sister and I live super far apart and the holidays are our only chance to see each other, right? Not actually. We are about 1/2 hour a way, if traffic is good, but we get so caught up in our crazy, busy lives we don't see each other as much as I would like.

Hey, Jen? Let's change 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