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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Bye and Hello

Yesterday I said goodbye to my school of four years and today I say hello to my new school.

It was emotional yesterday, lots of tears and hugs, laughs and sadness. I am happy to be moving on and trying something new. It was definitely time for it and I want/ need a new challenge. However, I have made some great friends in my four years at my old school and it's hard knowing I won't them everyday. Some people I will only see few and far between. It will become lunches and coffee, shopping and run-ins. It will take a lot more effort than just walking down the hall to their classroom.

I didn't think I would be as emotional as I was but I could barely speak without crying at the end of the day when I was presented with a card and a little ceremony. Every time someone hugged me I cried harder. I had to take a long route to the staff dinner at Jack Astor's to compose myself.

Now, I am up and getting ready to go to my new school. I will have my first staff breakfast at 8:30, and then followed by a staff meeting and then hopefully some good planning with my new team. It's all fresh and new, I can't wait to see what it brings.


Here's to new beginnings.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

It is my one year blog anniversary! Yeah me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

G20 Summit

After hours of watching the news footage this weekend of the so-called G20 protests I was saddened, angered, disgusted and completely bereft of hope. I believe in the right to protest for change. There are serious issues in our world that need serious solutions. Unfortunately, our city streets were over-run with cowards this weekend who had only violence and destruction on their agenda. I felt this was important enough to write a letter to the Toronto Star and here is what I wrote:


After watching the media footage of the chaos that erupted on the streets of Toronto this weekend I was prompted to write this letter to applaud the efforts of all the security and police personnel involved in keeping the citizens of Toronto safe. I am saddened by the violent actions taken by young people of my generation for seemingly no purpose. 
I appreciate the heroic efforts of legitimate protesters during this time to get their important messages promoting peace and fighting for change out into the public sphere. I am disgusted that their efforts were co-opted by so many who appeared to only have destruction and violence as their agenda. The G20 Summit and subsequent protests could have marked a time of learning and education for so many people about important issues like worldwide poverty, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, the environment and many other serious issues that need serious solutions. Instead, scenes of violence, destruction and cowards took over the airwaves of our media. Anyone who has a message to share and the desire to teach others about the problems plaguing our world is a hero in my eyes. Anyone who covers their face and destroys property is a coward and a weakling. I believe the police took the necessary actions to try and protect the rights of legitimate protesters and we should all be thankful for their bravery and courage.
In response to the feeble and cowardly acts of those so-called anarchists who destroyed our city and obliterated the rights of the peaceful protesters who were attempting the create change in our world: If you are going to stand behind the destruction perpetuated this weekend please promise all the law-abiding citizens of Toronto and the world that you will NEVER call the police, fire department, paramedics or other services who have dedicated their lives in the service of others for help. After your actions this weekend, it would just be hypocritical. 

The pictures are unreal. The media footage is disturbing. I only hope that something can be learned from this. Some useful links are listed below:




Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Break Reading Challenge #2

Karin over at The Summer Reading Break Challenge is hosting a series of challenges over the course of the summer to encourage reading and to have some fun. I am going to participate sporadically when the activities catch my eye and here's the first one I liked!

Create a Wordle of a book you reviewed or described. We were instructed to use our review or publisher's description of the books and I decided to use both for Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Here's my wordle. Click on the picture to make it bigger.


Wordle: Thirteen Reasons Why

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sequel- Schmequel

Lost in Books hosts a fun meme called The Book List. I have been reading for awhile now and have decided to join in the fun today. Here's what she says about today's topic.
"This week the topic is the brain child of celi.a of Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia. Thanks Celia! 



This Week's Topic:3 Books You Wish Had a Sequel



Very interesting topic....hmmm. I read A LOT of series so this might be a little difficult.

1. Emma by Jane Austen

I would love to know all about Emma and Mr. Knightly's life together. Would she still drive him crazy with all her shenanigans, and match making. What would their children be like? 

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What would life in the little town be like after Bo Radley saved Scout and Jem? Would Atticus have gone on to fight more court cases for blacks and fight racism?

3. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I believe there is a sequel to this book coming someday...we have just have to believe in our hearts. I want to learn more about Wanda!

A Very Dangerous Pastime

This pastime always gets me in trouble!! Always!!

What is this pastime you ask? Well, going into a bookstore. Yup, dangerous territory.

I went into Chapters today to get one of the books I need to read for the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle hosted by Alyssa at The Shady Glade. We have reached the fourth round and I am judging a bracket with Jan from Eating YA Books. We are reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver which has beaten The Iron King, Eyes Like Sisters, and Brightly Woven in the first three rounds. Our second book is a mystery as it will be one of the previous books that lost it's bracket but is being revived for round 4! I am super excited to see which book it will be.


So, to get back to my original story....I went into Chapters to get this one book but of course they were having a buy three, get 1 free sale. (It's like they knew I was coming.) I had a $25 gift card so the damaged wasn't too bad but it was still worse than what I had planned. Here's what I got:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (obviously)





The White Queen by Philippa Gregory




The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs




and...

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving




Looks like I'd better get busy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday- June 21st

I'm back!!! It's been sooooooooo long since I did any menu planning. The first three months of my pregnancy consisted of me coming home after work and immediately going to sleep. My husband would arrive home at 6, find me asleep, and being the sweetheart he is, he would make dinner and wake me up to eat. Ahhhhhh, right?!

But I am finally starting to feel better, better enough to stay awake and actually cook dinner! Yesterday, I made a HUGE lasagna to eat for dinner and freeze for the future (always a good plan in my books). Here's what I hope to make this week.


Monday: BBQ Hotdogs (my husband had a craving), Honey Grilled Sweet Potatoes, and salad


Wednesday: Homemade Mac N' Cheese (with extras to freeze- this is one of my favourite recipes from childhood), and salad

Thursday: Baseball Night- leftovers most likely, the game starts at 6:50 and my husband gets home at 6:00

Friday: Unrolled Cabbage Rolls (from the Looney Spoons Cookbook- with extras to freeze)

Saturday: not too sure what the plan is since we are heading out for a party, maybe take out, maybe out for dinner? It'll be a surprise.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Salon/TBR Readathon : How Did You Do?

Whew!! What a week of reading...


I must say I am pretty impressed with how well I did this week with the TBR Read-a-thon. This is my first experience with a read-a-thon and I wasn't really sure how much reading I would get done considering that I am still working and had some previous engagements in the evenings. I completed all 5 books I set out to read, and seeing that it is only 2:00 on Sunday I may be able to finish one more if I really work at it today.

The books I read and my thoughts on them...


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
This book was a super powerful read, I could barely get through a page without wanting to tear into the next one. The idea behind the book is that a teenage girl has committed suicide and she has left behind 13 audiotapes that outline the 13 people that played a part in her decision to take her own life. The tapes are sent to each person individually and if the chain is broken before the 13th person listens to the tapes a second set of tapes will be released to the media. This is a story about the destructive power of rumours, gossip and teenage life. Although no one person is the catalyst that forces the girl to take her life, each person is a part of a larger tapestry that weaves the story together. Every teenager should read this book, and every parent should read it with their teenager.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
A short novella from the Twilight Saga. I enjoyed this book because it gave the reader a different perspective and viewpoint of the Twilight story. I find it very interesting when authors describe characters as real people and say that they wanted their story told. It makes the Twilight story seemed even more complex and intriguing when you think about how many other characters could possibly have their stories told as well? (Also read as part of the 2010 EW Summer Reading Challenge)

Extras by Scott Westerfeld
I have been meaning to read this book forever! I initially read the Uglies, Pretties, Specials trilogy last summer and Extras has been on my TBR pile all year. I must say that the 4th book was just as good as the first three. This is another series that I think is a must read for teens. The dystopian aspects and the ideas of the world being destroyed by Rusties (us) because of their overwhelming need for resources is very current and very interesting. This series would be great for a literature study with a class that is particularly eco-conscious. It's an easy read and doesn't have to be very deep unless you want to read more into the "Big Brother" aspects of the society (in all four books) but if you want to think deeply there is tons there as well. A great beach book!

Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
I enjoyed this book as much as the first two in the series and will definitely read the last two in the series. I think it's a great series for kids, and I strongly recommend series for young readers because it allows them to delve deeply into a story and the characters themselves. I do not, however, think it is a better series than the Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or other similar series for kids.  It's a good fun, easy read that kids will definitely like.

Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
I always enjoy reading Nicholas Sparks books, they may be formulaic and easy to predict in parts but, man can they tug on your heart strings. This book was a great read and grabbed me from the very start. I enjoyed the dual storylines of the two teenagers in love, and a father and his daughter attempting to reconstruct their relationship. By the end of this book I was in tears and fully immersed in the stories of these characters. I think this book is perfect for those teen readers who want to move on from YA but aren't really ready for full on adult fiction yet. Another great beach book.

I am looking forward to seeing how other people did one the read-a-thon and learn about some more good reads.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Good Morning Bloggers!

It's Saturday and the entire weekend is unrolling in front of me with nothing planned. Don't you just love weekends like that?

I had some tentative plans to meet up with old friends at a Jay's game but it didn't pan out. I am sad about not seeing Brian and June, but I am also a little excited to just stay home and relax. June is such a hectic month with school ending, packing up my classroom, completing report cards and meeting with my new school everything has been a bit of a whirlwind. Two days of nothing sounds pretty fantastic.

To give all the book bloggers out there an update on my participation in the Huge TBR Readathon, here's what I have accomplished so far since starting on Tuesday:

Completed Books:
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer
Extras by Scott Westerfeld

I am hoping to read Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse by Rick Riordian and Last Song by Nicholas Sparks by the end of Sunday. My reading was somewhat interrupted this week as I went to watch my husband play baseball on Thursday evening and yesterday I battled a migraine all day and then went to the Cancer Society Relay for Life in the evening (I raised almost $700.00- so proud!!). I am hoping that my days of nothing will be full of lots of reading. I know I won't be too bothered by my husband as the US Open in on all weekend and that is his plan for his two days of nothing.

I hope if you have plans or if you don't that you enjoy yourself this weekend!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TBR Readathon Gets Off to a Brilliant Start

Whew!! I am a reading machine. I basically decided on Monday that I would participate in the Huge TBR Readathon as a way of celebrating the end of the school year and finishing my report cards (I just didn't get around to posting my intentions until today). So, because I decided yesterday I am going to count the book I finished yesterday as part of my reading. Ha.


It's my readathon and I'll do what I want to! LOL


So, last night I finished "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt which I absolutely loved! Every word. Every page. Every description. McCourt is a fantastic writer that brings his early life in Ireland to life in the pages of his memoir. 



My best friend was astonished that I was reading it, and liking it. But what's not to like. I understand that the story itself is quite depressing and sad (can nothing go right for this family?) but the story was also gripping and drew the reader in. I am very glad that I added in to my list for the "Books to Read Before I Die Challenge". 

Now, the real readathon reading has begun. I started and finished a book since I got home from work. I plan to shout from the rooftops that EVERYONE, everyone must read this book. I couldn't put it down. I could barely stand the time it took me to get through a page because I wanted to keep turning to find out what would happen next. Compelling. Gripping. Awesome (in every sense of that word). What book was it you say?

"Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher. Chapters lists this synopsis of the book-

"Clay Jenkins returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers 13 cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Bakerahis classmate and crushawho committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, heall find out how he made the list."



Doesn't that just make you want to run to your nearest bookstore to get this book? I highly, highly recommend it. It has shot to the top of my list of books to tell me people about. To tell teenagers, parents, teachers and anyone else I can think about this. Just amazing.

For the rest of the TBR Readathon I am hoping to read through as many books as possible. On my TBR list are:

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Myer
Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse by Rick Riordian
Extras by Scott Westerfeld
The Last Song by Nicolas Sparks

I don't want to get too far ahead of myself by listing too many, but with any luck I will get through this list and need to add more. And that's all.........for now, I am off to read.

TBR Readathon

Yes...it's time to READ, READ, READ!!

I am joining in on Kristin's Huge TBR Readathon this week (a little late) because report cards are done and I plan to just read and relax every evening. I am still teaching during the day so that will cut into my reading a bit but I still hope to get quite a bit done. This will also hopefully spur me into a summer of reading non-stop...yeah for sun and books.

I will post back late with what I plan to read (I am school right now on my lunch break so I need to wait until I am at home and can see the piles of books everywhere!!), but I am super excited to start.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A big thanks!

A huge thank you, a warm hug and a big smile to everyone who has congratulated me (us...my husband doesn't read my blog but I suppose he is involved in the pregnancy ;)) on the baby-to-be. I am super happy and excited.

At this moment in time, however, I AM DONE MY REPORT CARDS.


Whoo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now all that is left is the editing and proofreading process and to wait out the last 12 days. 12 days. 12 days. 12 days. Doesn't it just sound like magic?

I hope everyone is having a great Sunday evening, and had an even better weekend. I hope that everyone is smiling as big as I am.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's Friday!!

And there are only 12 school days left!! Whooo hooo.

I feel like shouting it from the roof tops. Singing it in the rain. Dancing it down the street.

After this weekend I will be done my report cards. I can start to concentrate on packing up my room. I can watch TV and read books every evening and not feel guilty that I am not planning or marking.

It doesn't even matter that I am doing summer school again. That will be news kids and new challenges and a new place. But this year will be done and behind me. No more Grade 8's (except maybe summer school, but that's a whole different thing about which I will post later)

Oh the gloriousness of endings and new beginnings. Everything is fresh and delicious.

It's like a brand new pack of markers,
or an unused notebook,
a freshly sharpened pencil,
new clothes with the tags still on,
the smell of a new book,
clean sheets on your bed,
new socks,
the first sip out of a can of cream soda,
seeing the waiter emerge from the kitchen and knowing he is carrying your dinner,
waiting for a friend to arrive,
hello hugs in the airport....

... and so much more.

What's your favourite ending/new beginning?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

News News News

So I have been trying to hold it in.

I have been bursting to tell everyone.

I have been feeling so guilty about not posting a lot (or at all really) (so sorry).

But there has been a reason.....

... a big reason.

Are you ready for this?

Are you waiting on the edge of your seat?

Here goes....

I am pregnant!

Yeah!!!!!!!!!!

So the reason behind the lack of posts has been a lack of brain activity (Serena, you weren't kidding!) and a lot of napping. I promise to be back to myself in the next few weeks as I get through the first trimester (I am almost there, 10 weeks-ish, my due date is January 6th).

So hopefully my thinking and ideas will be flooding back in soon and I will be back to my blogging self. I certainly hope so.

VERY IMPORTANT!!! If we are friends on Facebook (Serena, Brian) please DO NOT post anything yet about my being pregnant as I haven't told all my family yet and some of them are on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Love? Old Love?

I have re-discovered a love for Froot Loops (I even love that they are spelled wrong)! I had a craving the other day, so I went to the store, bought some and have been enjoying a delicious breakfast everyday since.

As a child my mother was very anti-sugar cereal, well she was very anti anything made of sugar, so this multi-coloured treat was rarely found in our home. Our breakfasts were all multi-grain Cheerios, and Whole Wheat Muffets. It was on;y on special occasions, or trips to a friend's home that sugar cereals every made an appearance on the breakfast table.

Now as an adult I have obviously outgrown the desire to eat sugar cereal on many occasions, plus I know that eating a bowl of sugar in the morning is not the way to keep the waist line slim (or slimmer anyway). But every once in awhile I see a commercial and the craving sneaks into my heart and I must have some. And when I do....oh so good.

Monday, June 7, 2010

When the Days Start to Dwindle

There's a funny feeling in the air when the school days start to number in the very few (16 to be exact). Teachers start to relax a little, students feel freer and a whole lotta nothin' gets done!

My students have handed in their last major writing assignment, a persuasive essay which I will be frantically marking between now and Friday. They will write their last unit test on Wednesday for Geography, which again I will frantically try to mark by Friday. Lastly, my students will perform their Genres of Dance dance on Thursday and I will mark it...on Thursday!

Why so frantic? Well, unfortunately report cards have to go through an intense system of editing a proofreading before they are delivered to the students. Do I think the dates could be closer to the end of the year...yes! But, there are people running the system who have been running it longer than I have been teaching so they must know something I don't. Basically, after this week I will be filling time. There is still lots of stuff I haven't taught that the students need to know, but they won't be assessed on their learning. I do have some fun things planned to keep their attention- we are going to create "app's" for Grade 8 students that would help them survive Grade 8, and we are going to watch "An American Tail" as a case study for our immigration unit. Fun times right??

Plus there will be the end of the year parties, graduation, Wonderland trip and yearbook signing. But the days are being counted down!!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Deep Thinkers of Grade 8

So, although my grade 8's have checked out doing actual work that I can use for assessment and provide them with marks on their report card, they are still super capable of latching onto an important topic and wanting to talk about it...forever.

My husband says they are just trying to get me off topic so they don't have to do work, and maybe that's true, but most of the time what they want to discuss is very relevant to our uint of study or just life in general. In the past few days, as we have been writing essays and studying how immigration is used to foster racism, these are some of the topics they have been debating amongst themselves and asking questions about:

- if murder is wrong then why is abortion legal (in Canada)?
- why are people racist? (that's a huge can of worms)
- euthanasia
- visible minorities and stereotyping
- why didn't Hitler like Jewish people?
- why is the military in Afghanistan?

Big time stuff eh? I have been super impressed with how interested they are in these big topics and how passionate they are about discussing them but it's hard trying to answer all their questions. So many questions!! For their essay assignment they had to pick a serious world topic to write about and the topics run the gamut from taxes of fast food, performance enhancing drugs and athletes, to pollution as an evil necessity of our society. I am very interested to get the essays next week and see what they have to say. Perhaps I can expand this into a debating project too?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Too Much for the Too Young?

In geography class we are studying migration and have reached the point in our unit where we are looking at refugees and refugee situations. Yesterday I posed this question to both of my grade 8 classes:

"Are we responsible for helping people in refugee situations like Darfur?"

And I was completely shocked when many, almost all of the students, answered no.

???????????????????????

So I probed a little deeper to discover why. Many of them felt that we had issues here in Canada that should be dealt with first. (Fair point) It is the middle of a recession and people need to conserve their money. (Another fair point) And that if they don't live in our country then we aren't responsible. (Interesting)

I spun the discussion around a little bit and got back to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we had studied earlier in the week, and asked if they felt they deserved all these rights? They agreed that yes they did. So I asked who was responsible to make sure they got their rights. Eventually the conversation got around to the point that if we have all these rights then we also have the responsibility to make sure others' rights are not infringed upon.

We are responsible to each each other because we are all human.

Or as one student said, "we have to make sure we've got each other's backs".

But it took a long time. I was a little shocked, and sad, to discover how little empathy they felt for these people initially. But that's not even right, because we watched a video about various refugee situations and they did feel empathy. I guess I mean to say I was surprised about how little motivation they left to try and change the situation or help these people. It's not our responsibility they said.

Then who's is it?

I asked my husband last night about it because it continued to nag at me. Are they too young to understand this concept? Or just too jaded? I think they eventually understood that a humans we all have a responsibility to each other but I am not really sure just how deeply they understood.

What do you think? Too young? Too jaded?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Teaser, and Challenge Updates


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I am currently read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It's one of the books on my list for the Books to Read Before I Die Challenge



"But I'd like to see the castles in the towns where they live," the boy explained.

"Those people, when they see our land, say that they would like to live here forever," his father continued.

"Well, I'd like to see their land, and see how they live," said his son.


Summer Reading

A few bloggers out there have been posting their summer reading lists (especially those who are teachers and are already done work...grrrr, 20 more days for me!) and I thought I might like to post a list of my own. I am woefully behind in almost all of my reading challenges so that is going to dominant my summer reading list- playing catch up! Here's what I hope to accomplish, in no particular order.

From the Books to Read Before I Die Challenge

* Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald

* Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

The World According to Garp by John Irving


From the EW Summer Reading Challenge

* The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

* The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer

* Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman


* Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins



* Body of Death by Elizabeth George

From the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge

* The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (book and movie)

* Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief (movie only)

* Emma by Jane Austen (movie only)


* The Road (movie only)

I have decided to drop the Reading YA through the Decades challenge as I have yet to read one book for the challenge and I am not feeling at all inspired to start!


Whew...quite the update! I must say I am also very proud of my readying progress this year...31 books! Check out the "I Am Reading...2010" tab at the top to see the complete list.

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