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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Changing of the Guard

It's been a long and tiring couple of days. I cut my cottage trip short on Saturday because my husband's grandfather passed away. Yesterday was spent at the visitations, standing and talking to a lot of people. Today was the funeral, which was very emotional, and hot as the church was not air-conditioned. My husband had a difficult time with the funeral today, especially listening to his dad speak but he seems to be doing okay.

We also had our ultra-sound appointment today to find out the gender of the baby. The technician is technically not allowed to tell us anything but her exact words were, "Well, I don't see any boy parts here, and there are some telltale signs that it might be a girl. I would say, most likely leaning towards a girl."

So, I guess our big news is that the baby is most likely a girl!

I bet my husband  two weeks worth of loading the dishwasher that the baby was a girl....so here's to hoping most likely become a definite.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Questions and More Questions

This was originally posted on October 16th, 2009.


I am VERY interested to see the types of questions Grade 4's will ask, it can't be that much worse than Grade 8? Right?



Best..BEST..question of the week.

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

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

Student: "Important ones like the US?"

Me: "Yes, they are pretty important."

Student: "And Canada?"

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

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

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

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

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

He answered, "Yes."

"And why do you think so?" I asked.

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

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

His answer?... "I guess not."

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

If this was Grade 8, what will Grade 4 be like?

This was originally posted on September 22nd, 2009.



It has been said that teachers answer thousands upon thousands of questions each day. Here are a few I was asked today.

1) "Is that your husband?" from the student sitting at my desk looking at the wedding picture in a frame on my desk.

2) "Mrs. Lyons, when are you going to be a mom?" Grade 8 girl.

3) "Is this going to be marked?" Grade 8 boy about 30 seconds after I finished explaining a reading assignment. (Note: an assignment!!)

4) Student A- "Should I put this in my binder?"
Me- "No, I am collecting it."
Student A- "I'll put it in my binder"
Me- "No, I want to collect them and mark it."
Student A- "Do you want my binder."
Me- "No, just your worksheet."
Student A- "After I put it in my binder?" (Note: At this point the class is dying with laughter, and no the student was not trying to be a goof. He was seriously unsure what to do.)
Me- "I just want the worksheet not your binder. You can keep the binder."
At this point the student got up took the worksheet AND the binder to the In-Box. Sigh.

5) (This took place during the same class as the above conversation. It will definitely prove what a grammar geek I am, and perhaps why I feel the need to drink copious amounts of coffee during the day.)
Me- "So we use a comma in a sentence when there is a series of items in a list, before a conjunction that joins two phrases, and when a subordinate clause starts a sentence."
Student B- "Can we use just a comma and not the conjunction in a sentence?"
Me- "No, that would be a comma splice. You need the conjunction or you must use a semi-colon."
Student B- "So we have to use the conjunction?"
Me- "Yes."
Student B- "So we can't just use the comma and not the conjunction?" (Can you see where this is going?)
Me- "No, that would a comma splice."
Student B- "So we have to use a semi-colon then?"
Me- "Yes."
Student B- "And if we use the comma we have to have a conjunction?"
Me- "AAAAAAAARRRRGH!!" (Not really, but I wanted to.)

In case you were wondering, yes I do like my job, but some days are better than others. (Note: the comma is before the conjunction in that sentence. Just where it should be. Ahhh, life makes sense again.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Who's responsible for manners and life lessons?

This was originally posted on September 14th, 2009.



I sometimes wonder how much of my job is teaching kids to "play the game", hang the curriculum, the writing, the quizzes and tests, the homework and such...but just the daily game of getting through.

Three other teachers, that's right three, came to see me after school today about students in my class and things they did today. One boy decided to go for a walk and disturb multiple classes while getting a drink. I should tell you now that the fountain is maybe 20 feet from my classroom and there is only 1 other room between me and the fountain. So how is it possible for a student to disturb multiple classes? Fantastic question.

The second teacher wanted to talk to me about the 3 young gentlemen she kept after class because they were disruptive and talking during her class today. You should also know that one of the those 3 gentlemen was the Water Boy from the previous paragraph.

Finally, music class. It took three reminders for one young gentlemen to join the line and properly enter the music room. Three reminders before class technically even started.

So to re-cap we have:
1) Water Boy wandering through the halls
2) Larry, Curly, and Water Boy talking during a class
3) Line Boy not getting in line to start the class

None of this has anything to do with English, History, Geography, Health or Drama- the 5 subjects I teach on a daily basis.

So now I need to talk to these gentlemen and discuss how embarrassed I am that I have to hear about their behaviour in this way, and to convince them that some things just aren't worth the fight. I mean, seriously, can't you just get in line and enter the class? Is that really a battle you feel is important enough to fight about? Aren't there bigger things out there to be worried about? You have grammar homework tonight, I know, I assigned it. Couldn't you at least be worried about that?

I have often wondered....

So much of being a teacher is about teaching kids how to react in various situations, how to get a long with people, how to walk away, how to speak up for yourself, how to say please and thank you, etc. And I know that in a lot of cases if I don't address these things with them... no one will. Sad, but true.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ummm...I reserve the right to change my mind!

This was originally posted on September 11th, 2009.


NOTE: My opinion changed drastically during the course of the year last year, and I have since decided that I do not want to teach teenagers. At least not for awhile!



There have been many times over the past 6 years when people have asked me, "So, what do you do?"

To which I reply, "I am a teacher."

At this point, they are usually still interested and wanting to know more. So then I often hear, "What grade do you teach?"

This is when things head down hill fast. For the past 5 years my reply has been, "Grade 7", this year they would hear, "Grade 8". It really doesn't matter which I answer with I get the same response from about 95% of people.

"Oh really! That's too bad!"

I'm sorry? Did you just say "that's too bad"? First of all, in this economy and time period anyone should be happy they have a job, and especially those of us lucky ones who squeaked under the wire into the teaching profession. Secondly, I love Grade 7 & 8. Those kids are hilarious, sweet, smart, kind and many other adjectives that I can't really think of right now because it is the Friday of the first week of school....but anyway.

Most people screw up their faces at the thought of teaching teenagers. Now I am not going to sit here and say it's all sunshine and roses, cause I'd be lying BIG TIME, but there are moments that make everything else worthwhile.

I ask my students very often to think and reflect about their life, their education, and themselves as people. To start this year I off I asked my students one question-- What makes you unique?

I got the idea from a book I read this summer co-authored by Erin Gruwell who founded the Freedom Writers Foundation (remember the movie with Hilary Swank?) and other teacher from across North America who have been trained as Freedom Writer Teachers. A few of my friends from baseball happen to be some of those teachers, so we went to the book launch this summer and then I read their book; Teaching Hope.

The book is filled with 120 stories from teachers who have worked with kids of all ages and the ups and downs of teaching. It follows the course of a school year, from anticipation, to disillusionment, to obstacles, to triumphs. And a lot of the stories are sad, get a box of kleenex to read this one! There are some kids out there with terrible lives, it's difficult to feel guilty when I am living such a blessed life.

So back to why I love my job. I read the very first story in the book to my students about another middle school teacher who asked her students to write down what makes them unique. If they were no longer in the class what would be missing? And the story tells of a 13 year-old boy who feels that nothing about him is unique, his ashamed to identify his culture as he is the only Latino in the class. It's well written and very poignant.

I read the story aloud to my classes and asked them the same question- what makes you unique? If you weren't here in our classes what would we be missing?

The responses I got, while not grammatically perfect, are some of the best writing I could hope to get from my students....and it's only the first week! Here are some samples of what I am talking about. Judge for yourself. (i have not corrected any of their writing, you are seeing it just like I do!)

~ The things that makes me unique is I am a quiet person who want to learn. If you take my out of this class it would be like removing a part of your brain, which is a wanting to learn piece.

~ What makes me unique is that I have a very vast imagination. I like to write stories because I can think of very different ideas in my head. Once I do get an idea that I think is good I write it down. Then I just keep adding to my idea. I feel that eveytime I write words just flow into my head.

~ What I think makes me unique is my hair. When I was in grade 6 I always did pigtails. From grade 6 to grade 7 I have always tied my hair in pigtails. Now that I am in grade 8 I started to do 1 ponytail. But I will still do pigtails because I like it and most people knows me as "Pigtails". Another reason why pigtails make me unique is because I never did any other hairstyle besides pigtails and it is basically my trademark.

~ Being unique is like having a gift, it makes you special. I feel that I bring happiness into the class. For example, I can never be mean. I can't be rude to people. Also, I always like to smile. (She really is this sweet in real life too!)

~ I have always been a dreamer. I love to fantisize. Things that can never happen, I wish for it. Daydreaming, happens to me a lot. I have thought about many impossible events, that will make a big difference in the world. Reality is not the word for me. It is all about dreaming big and dreaming about the un-real world.

How can people NOT want to teach teenagers?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The First Day- The First of Firsts

This was originally posted on September 8th, 2009.


I am beyond tired. Now I know that many people work for all 12 months of the year and that I only work for 10 and therefore shouldn't be complaining about being tired about working for one day after having an entire 2 months off....but that being said, "Man! I am tired!"

I had a great first day though. I am super excited about my class this year. I think I have a great mixture of kids and personalities...maybe too many personalities! But I would rather have that than a silent room where I am being stared at for the entire day. I have one gentleman who rather enjoys speaking out. It's not malicious or meant to be disruptive, he just really enjoys talking and discussing his ideas. Now you might be thinking that he wouldn't really work well with others, but during a group task today he took charge, assigned roles and made sure everything got done for his group. Then during their presentation he spoke very well and gave detailed examples for each of his answers. I am excited to get to know him better as a person this year and watch him grow as well.

I have quite a few of my students from last year when I taught Grade 7 that I brought along with me to Grade 8. They are just as sweet and prepared to learn as well. I don't remember ever being quite this excited to start a school year with my homeroom. It makes me quite happy because I loved my class last year..I mean LOVED! I would have taken all 24 of those kids with me forever, so knowing that this year's class might be comparable already has me smiling through my exhaustion.

That is not to say that I don't have any "challenges" in my room. I have a young friend who was in a class last year that had many students that struggled with learning (I am striving to be very politically correct here), and this year the administration chose to remove him from that class and reintroduce him to a regular classroom, namely my regular classroom. However, in this case I think peer pressure may be a fantastic thing because he was focused and involved all day, appearing to not want to stand out in the class as the one who "didn't get it". That being said...it was only 1 day! Who knows what the rest of the year will bring?

I am very excited looking forward to this year teaching Grade 8 and all the adventures it promises. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Best Time of the Year- Vol. 2.0

This was originally posted on September 2nd, 2009


For me, September is the new year. It's the time when anything is possible. For anyone that has ever been in school (so everyone) and those of us who remain there as an occupation knows this is true. It has a newness that January could never achieve. How can things be new when it's snowy, slushy, and cold? By I digress...

At this point in the school year everything is plans. I plan to do this. I plan to do that. Everything is in the future and everything is hopeful. It's a great feeling that is often duplicated. Today was the first day back at the school for all the staff, no kids, and it looked like a pretty boring day of meetings, goal planning, etc. In the end though it turned out pretty well. I got quite a lot accomplished and even set-up some partnerships to work with other teachers over the course of the year.

The best plan, however, came from blogging! My friend, Brian, who writes The Zoey Blog introduced me to an amazing spoken word artist, Mayda del Valle. I had actually been thinking about incorporating spoken word with my poetry unit this year, and by happy coincidence this came along at just the right time. My poetry unit involves my students choosing an issue that means something to their life (war, body image, crime, etc) and writes an anthology of original poems. This year I am going to have them perform their poems as well! Can't wait.

Everything is fresh and new. A new room. A new class. A new grade. I am very excited to see what this year brings.

If you are interested in Mayda de Valle's spoken poetry you can check out Brian's blog, or search on YouTube.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Planning, Planning, Planning

This was originally posted on September 1st, 2009

For some reason I am having a very difficult time concentrating and getting down to work to plan for next week. NEXT WEEK! Wow, I can't believe the students will be back at school next week. Where has the time gone.

I am wondering about why I am having such a hard time planning and creating lessons for the start of the year. Is it because I have done this 5 times before and it's old hat by now? Or is because for the first time in 5 years I am teaching a new grade and am not really sure what to expect since I have to start over from scratch? I am taking almost 1/3 of my Grade 7 students with me to Grade 8 on Tuesday so they will not be impressed if anything is a repeat. Not only will they not be impressed, they will be bored. And 24 bored 13 year-olds in a room is a recipe for disaster!

Well tomorrow and Thursday I am back in the school for two PA Days. Two long days of meetings and "development" and the Friday is off for an extra long weekend. Hopefully by then everything will have sunk in so that I am ready to go on Tuesday!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Off, Off and Away!

I am leaving for the cottage tomorrow and my last full week of freedom before school starts. Technically school doesn't start until Sept 7th but I will be in my classroom setting everything up on the 30th, 31st, and 1st and then in professional development sessions all day on the 2nd. My husband and I are off to another cottage for the Labour Day weekend and one last breath of freedom before the new year begins.

Since I will be away all next week I have decided to re-post some of my posts from the same time last year. Last year when everything was totally different than this year- you know, when I was switching grades (oh wait?), and I had to re-plan everything (ummm, hello?) and was getting ready to start the whole shindig again! Okay, so there's a lot of similarities between this year and last, apparently I am a sucker for change? But some major differences are that I am starting this year at a new school (haven't done that in 4 years), I am 5 months pregnant (have't done that ever) and am moving from Grade 8's to Grade 4's. It will be interesting to see what similarities there really are....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Happy Day

Today is my birthday! 

Happy 31st to me!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Good Ole' Fun in the Backyard

My husband and I (along with a friend) attended a pig roast on the weekend. It was a house-warming party for friend's and the day was complete with potato-sack races, three-legged races, and egg on a spoon relays. I went to bed early-ish (being pregnant and all) and missed the air-band competition.....BUT it was captured on film in all it's glory. Here is the day for you to enjoy vicariously through us.

First heat of the potato sack races.

Second heat (the pictures just get better!). It's still a pretty close race here.

And the winner is!

Oops, hold on to'er!!

The championship starts...with a little cheating of course.

Oh no, the race may be over for some before it even starts.

But it's still a photo finish!!

Three-legged race...you've gotta love the dedication!

Carving up the pig!

And the air-bands start....

And the final picture, are you ready? 
Don't get jealous, cause he's all mine!! That's right it's the big red-headed husband!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Days Are Dwindling

Isn't dwindling a great word?

Anyway, summer is starting to wind down, I can feel it already. There are back to school sales, my thoughts are starting to turn to lesson planning and the nights feel cooler.

I am heading off to the cottage with my mom next week. A whole week with nothing to do but read, sleep, swim, and laze about. I can't wait. My husband won't be able to come with me, unfortunately, but the puppy will be joining me for the week. The cottage is quite small, or so I have heard. One living area, one bedroom, and one kitchen. I think there is a toilet but no shower. We'll be roughing it! LOL

My mom has already booked "the big cottage" for next summer which is great because we know ahead of time what week is booked so my husband can plan his vacation around it, and the big cottage should be better able to accommodate the baby and all the stuff that comes with. It's hard to believe that at this point next summer I will have an 8 month old baby....strange.

Life will certainly be different than it is now. It seems like almost all my conversations these days are baby related. On one hand there is so much that I need to know but on the other hand I don't want to be one of those moms who forgets everything else and only talks about her baby/kids. Hmmm, such a fine line I suppose.

My plan is to use the rest of my summer days reading (I am close to breaking 60 books for this year!) and starting to seriously plan some stuff for school. I know that there are people who would think it is crazy to start giving up their time this soon but I am a planner and I feel more comfortable and able to relax when I have things done. So for me, planning far ahead is actually more relaxing than waiting until the end of the time I have left. I am hoping to have everything necessary done before Labour Day weekend so I can go to a friend's cottage school-work free!

How do you plan to use these last days of summer?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nesting Much?

So maybe it's the pregnancy, maybe it's the long days of nothing to do (I can't go out for lunch everyday!) but I have been jonesing for my craftiness of late. My new obsession as been to scour the interwebs for craft blogs and possible sewing projects. (On a side note: I have owned a sewing machine for, count 'em, three years when my aunt gave it to me as a shower gift. It has yet to leave the box. There was no room at the apartment, it was packed away here at the house while we settled in and renovated, but it's day has come.)

I have quite a lot of projects lined up now and a few new blogs that I have been loving.

First up, I have wanted a purse organizer for what seems like forever. I switch purses often, twice maybe three times a week sometimes, and a purse organizer would make my life sooooo much easier. I found quite a few cute ones on etsy.com but the more I looked at them the more I realized "I could make that". And so my search for a pattern started. I found one here at Hope Studios and can not wait to get to the fabric store and get started.

I am also very interested in making baby stuff- diaper bag accessories, baby legs and an amazing puff quilt. I found quite a few blogs that specialize in fabulous moms who are crafting for their families and offer online tutorials for many of their creations. Here's what I have been checking out lately:

Make It and Love It
Check out the tutorial section....so much cuteness.

Make and Takes

Skip to My Lou

The Girl Creative

Lil Blue Boo

Honeybear Lane
This blog has a tutorial for an amazing puff quilt that I am dying to make for the baby!! My husband thinks it looks so comfy that if it turns out well I should do one for our room! (We'll see about that!) If you aren't the sewing type Honeybear Lane also has an etsy store where you can buy one of these amazing creations.

I can't wait to get started and show off all my new creations.

Insomnia

Is there something about being pregnant that people aren't telling me? I have not been able to fall asleep for the last three nights...in a row!!!! Sure I have been sleeping and taking naps, but nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that would keep me this awake at 1:30 in the am. GRRRR

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Gloriousness That Is The Dollar Store

August Break Challenge Photos- August 12th

So I looked over my schedule for the next few weeks and things are getting crammed full. I will not be able to get into my classroom next week, as anticipated, and therefore will only have THREE (eek) days to set everything up in the last week of August. So......I decided with my few free days this week I would hit the stores for some back-to-school shopping. Yippee. (Seriously, back-to-school shopping may be the reason I became a teacher. I love new supplies.)

My first stop- Dollarama. Did you know that you can spend $?????? (I will let you guess) in one trip to the dollar store. I did not know this before yesterday, but I sure do now! Wow, it was fantastic. First of all, it wasn't busy so I could roam the aisles at my leisure. I could look at everything. I could backtrack. I could think and mull over my decisions. "How might this be used in a Grade 4 classroom?" Hmmmmm, it was literally a little piece of heaven. (If you are bored now and are thinking, "Wow, she is such a nerd."- don't worry I know, and you may be better off if you stop reading now. It's not going to get any cooler, I promise you. It will involve pictures however!)

First of all, look at these awesome mini-pylons I got to put on students' desks.


So awesome, right?


A Canadian Flag license plate for my room, they hold up better than an actual flag.



I am going to try something new this year that my friend does. She buys a spiral bound notebook each year for all the research and note she takes while lesson planning and since I am teaching math for the first time I thought it might something I would like. Plus, do you see the post-it notes!? Brand name, real 3M post-it notes at the dollar store. I have a love for all things post-it.


Band-Aids for all the ouchies. Note to any new teachers: Don't buy the cute ones with cartoon characters on them! You WILL have kids who want a band-aid for even the most minuscule injury because the latest cartoon craze is on the band-aid. 



Who wouldn't want to sweep my room with this fantastic broom and dustpan combo?? They'll be fighting over this job for sure!


I have decided to try stand-up staplers this year because in my experience all students use them in this way, and regular staplers jam if you don't push down against a hard surface. Hopefully, this will cut down on stapler jams. The magnetic bins in the back are for lockers, but the blackboard is also magnetic and this is a great way to keep chalk, markers, etc tidy.




Bathroom passes. I will never touch these again after Sept 7th.


Plain brown paper bags? How can those be exciting? Oh, my friends... I plan to have my little friends decorate these during the first week of school with their name and birthday. I will them fill them accordingly and hand them out filled with goodies on their birthday! Voila! Birthday treat extra-ordinaire.



Games! Games! Games! The children will have something to do on rainy day recesses.


Ziploc bags to store the above games in because, believe me, the boxes won't lost very long. Not very long at all.



So on top of these goodies I also picked up paper, pencils, highlighters, exercise books and other stuff. Have you guessed my grand total yet?? 

$81.25!!

Did you know you could spend that much in one trip to the dollar store? No, me either. But I figure the more I get at the dollar store the less I have to buy at Staples or Walmart.

On a related note....

Today, I went to the Teacher Store that is in my area (Oh how I love the Teacher Store.) Most of the stuff I got wasn't very exciting- resource books, name tags, etc- but look at these flash cards and games...on clearance!! $2.00 each. Love it.


I could have spent a kajillion dollars there today, especially now that I am teaching Grade 4. There is so much stuff that is so cool and fun for younger grades that just doesn't exist for Grades 7 & 8. I did, however, control myself.  I am feeling better about not being able to get into my room next week. I pretty much have my shopping done so when I do get in there I'll have one less thing to do....other than organize all this wonderful stuff!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So If You Haven't Been Posting....

....WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING??


I know, I know. I'm sorry. Do you ever get into one of those funks when you just don't feel like posting? No? Well, I do. But don't worry I have been keeping busy and documenting it all to show you!

August Break Challenge Photos: Aug 11th

First off, my husband was on vacation ALL last week so we spent tons of time together and got quite a bit accomplished.


In case you didn't know (and how could you unless I told you), I collect antique purses and have been thinking up this awesome display forever! We took Ikea frames without the glass and hung them on the wall, and them put hooks inside the frames, and VOILA! Purses! I want to hang a few more hook outside the frames for necklaces and scarves as well. Don't you love it?




My husband also got the nursery painted last week. It's just white-blue for now until we know if the baby is a boy or a girl (Aug 30th!!) and then we will add the appropriate colours etc!




Remember, it was that gross yellowish-white before and full of junk. Not anymore!

I have also been starting to stock up on baby stuff when it is on sale...you know, while I am still getting paid! yeah, for Mat leave and unemployment.


Diapers and formula! What's in the bag you ask? Well, I am glad that you did.


My fantastic grown-up looking ( no cartoon characters for me!) diaper bag, with....

...matching insulated snack/lunch bag!

 I also got some new books to read. And how did I obtain said books?

With my brand new library card!!!!!

I was so impressed with myself for knitting such fabulous baby booties, I moved on to a MUCH bigger project...an afghan. 


Can you see the size of those knitting needles? Size 50, people...they are HUGE!



I found the free pattern at Lion Bran Yarn, and order the wool from their website as well.



Finally, it's that time of year again. Time to start planning. I was hoping to get into my classroom next week to get a jump on setting up but it turns out it won't be ready until the 23rd....but! I am away that whole week at the cottage (yeah, cottage!!) and will only have THREE days to set up my room, GASP.







And now I am off to lunch with two other pregnant friends. Whew...I sure have been busy.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

MIA

Sorry that I have been MIA the last few days. I was hit by a crazy day of morning sickness...worst one yet and considering I am in my second trimester when it's supposed to easing off. I have been busy around the house though and have completed a few projects. My plan for tomorrow is to document it all in pictures and have it posted here for all to see. Tomorrow is also my husband's last day of vacation so I plan to spend a bunch of time with him. It'll be very quiet around here next week when he is back at work and I am home with just the puppy for company. I have a few lunches planned with friends, will still be finishing up some projects and starting to get ready for back to school. Plus I have my full schedule of naps and sleeping in to follow!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In Transition

August Break Challenge Photos- August 4th

Why does it always seem messier and more disorganized when you are renovating and cleaning?

A stack of VHS tapes to get rid of...we don't even own a VCR anymore!

Two bins of "thin clothes" (pre-pregnancy) to be stored away for now.

Oh the closet...will I ever get it organized the way I like it?

The soon to be nursery- right now...junk?

My hubby has been working on drywalling the closet in the nursery 
and guest room for new bi-fold doors.

The "guest room"- also another junk room. Just wait till it's done though!!


A home in transition never feels comfortable...but wait, oh wait until it is done!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Today's Baking Efforts

August Break Challenge Photo- Aug 3rd (#2)

I seem to be in a baking mood...never mind that the humidex is in the high 30's!

Banana Bread and Muffins

Anticipating the Cottage

August Break Challenge- Aug 3rd

(Photo taken in March- St. Petersberg, FL)

Looking forward to a week of reading, sun, and sleeping in.

School Review Reading- Not the Usual Joy

Although I have just finished summer school and am celebrating it up hardcore (can we say naps! cleaning the house! sleeping in! READING IN BED!!) I still can't help but think up the upcoming school year and all the new challenges it will present.

Challenges:

1) New school- check

2) New grade level (4 years below ALL previous experience)- check

3) Teaching in a portable- check

4) Teaching in a portable while pregnant- check

5) Teaching math for the first time- check

6) Having a longer work day- check

Yet, in spite of it all I am very excited. It's such a fresh start, and a new beginning. I just can't wait. If anything summer school has just reinforced my decision NOT to continue on teaching teenagers. One thing that will remain constant, however, is my participation in the school board review committee. We meet 3-4 times a year and review 5-10 books each (depending on the time of year) for inclusion in our school libraries. Our reviews are then passed on the librarians who are in charge of all the purchasing. I really didn't want to get behind on my reading and have to be struggling to finish right as the school year was starting so I raced through all my books last week (it certainly helped that I picked all relatively short YA and children's lit!). I was sad to say that for the first time in the 2 years that I have been on the committee, there were no excellents in my batch of books. A few cute stories, one I may even use as a read aloud but nothing that was WOW!

Here's what I read this time:

The Named by Marianne Curley


This is the beginning of a trilogy that grabbed my attention right away from the synopsis on the back- "Ethan has only ever known Isabel as his best friend's annoying little sister. But she's not so little anymore - and Ethan's about to notice more than just her sun-kissed blonde hair. As a member of the Named, Ethan is responsible for guarding time from the Order of Chaos - evildoers who alter the course of history. Now that he's mastered his own power, Ethan must train an apprentice: Isabel.


Before Ethan can begin Isabel's training, he needs to convince her that his power is real. But wowing her by moving objects with his eyes or walking through solid walls in broad daylight isn't exactly safe. And with trouble brewing back in time, Ethan and Isabel may have to jump straight into battle...ready or not."

It is an interesting twist on the usual fantasy theme and as an historical fiction lover I was looking forward to the "jumping back in time" part. I think this is a good trilogy for any YA lover looking for a new series to read, especially after just finishing something along the likes of Percy Jackson or Harry Potter. It's a short easy read, it won' tax the brain and would make for good summer reading. I am not sure if my opinion would change after reading the entire trilogy but as for right now it doesn't really stack up against others in the same genre. The writing is good, but the characters are predictable and the plot line doesn't really have too many surprises to keep the reader guessing.

Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder


This book I did really enjoy and am considering using it as the first read aloud in my Grade 4 classroom this fall (Grade 4!!!). It's a book of imagination, magic and adventure. The synopsis reads:

"If you had a magic wall that could take you to any place and any time, where would you go?


Would you want to visit castles and desert island? Would you want to meet famous wizards, terrible pirates, beautiful queens, and dastardly outlaws?


If so, then you are just like Henry, Emma, Roy, and Susan- and you will probably like this story a lot. In fact, you might wish something similar would happen to you!"

Sounds cute right? It's summer vacation and Henry, Emma, Roy and Susan are bored and looking for something to do when they come across a wall in the middle of a corn field. The wall has a lock and key and when they turn the key and wish to be someplace else they are magically transported there! This when the adventure begins!

What I liked best about this story was that it had a strong mix of male and female characters so I can see all my students being intrigued by the story of a magic wall that transports you anywhere in the world and in time! Imagine!! I can see a very cute assignment where the students could write about what would happen if they had this wall and where they would go and what they would see. I think young readers would enjoy this story and it would be enjoyed as a read aloud between a parent and child as well.



Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss


Carrie is a young girl in Grade 8 who is diagnosed with lymphoma and has to undergo a year of chemo and cancer treatments. Of course, everyone at school including her best friend and the boy she has a crush on start treating her differently. Carrie just wants everything to be normal. I found that as a character Carrie is pretty true to form for most Grade 8 girls, she doesn't become a saint over night just because she has cancer. She still has her moments of brattiness and teenage angst. I liked this a lot about the book. Carrie does however, want her family and friends to just be normal. No crazy crying fits, no huge abnormal smiles, just normal.

This would be a great story for any young reader who is going through cancer or has a friend going through cancer. Many of the treatments are described in detail so that the reader can understand what is happening and why chemo makes cancer patients feels so sick. It is a real look at a life-threatening illness from a teenager's perspective.

Monster Squad: They Came from Planet Q


This book is just one in a cute series for readers who may be beginning to move onto chapter books and enjoy monster movies and the like. The synopsis reads:
"I'm Lindsey Gomez, and wherever I go, my camera goes, too. It sees monsters that can't be detected by the naked eye, which comes in very handy if you happen to be in the Monster Squad! A mysterious flying saucer was spotted hovering over Riddle and we used the camera to help us find its passengers. We already knew they came from Planet Q - but where did they go?


Follow Jesse, Damon, Stella, and Lindsey as they help famous director Oswald Leery hunt down the monsters he created before they wreak havoc on the poor town of Riddle."

This was an easy read and has illustrations sprinkled through out the book to help young readers develop a taste for longer style chapter books. The fact that it is one in a series is good too because if a reluctant reader could grab ahold of this series they could become a lover of reading!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Okay, here we go... Menu Plan Monday is hosted by I'm An Organizing Junkie each week.  While I love the idea of it,  I am not very good yet at following my plan (or even creating one) each week. It's a work in progress.



Monday: Mini Meatloaves and Corn on the Cob

Tuesday: Steak, Potatoes and mostly likely Corn on the Cob (gotta eat it while it's here!)

Wednesday: Homemade Mac n' Cheese

Thursday: Soup and Sandwiches before hubby plays baseball and I watch

Friday: Takeout? Left-overs? We'll see when we get there

Saturday: Spaghetti and Meatballs

What I Did Today

August Break Challenge Photo- Aug 2nd


Yummy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August Break Challenge

I have been thinking about taking more photos lately, especially after my great day taking pictures with a friend and her daughter...and I must say that the universe is on my side because what should happen to appear on my cozy book nook today? The August Break challenge!!




This challenge is being hosted by Susannah Conway and it is very simple. Share one photo per day on your blog. It can be Monday to Friday, or every day, or whatever you want. What a great way to wrap up the summer!!

I will be away for a week at the cottage later in August so I will need to work around that but I am super excited to start!! What shall be my first photo? Hmmmm

Here's my puppy's reaction my husband doing renovations and not paying attention to him.


 What a face, eh?

You may remember his reaction to our kitchen renovations in March?




Funny dog.

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