Friday, July 28, 2006

More Summer School Cuteness

This series of drawings was given to me by Elsie, a 5 year old in my morning class. She had been watching me closely that day and had drawn four portraits (look closely... she even drew my flip flops!). I asked her to explain each one...

(1) "You're at the piano" (2) "You're looking for Plexers*" (3) "You're looking at the question book." (4) "You're tired."

How true it is, how true it is. But yay! It's the last day of Summer School!
* Plexers are little word puzzles I put up on the board each day, like " laJUMPke " Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Welcome to yet another glimpse of my inner crazy...

I'm doing a major cleanup at my house right now, and once again, I am faced with the dilemma of what to do with old cards. I have a stack of them that I just don't know what to do with. I hate throwing cards out, because the person obviously cared enough to pick it out, write it, and send/give it to me. On the other hand, if I kept every card ever given to me, I would need a whole room just to store them. I might be kinda messy sometimes, but I will NEVER end up like those poor folks on "Clean Sweep" with one room in their house devoted to piles and piles and piles of useless junk! Nevah!

Particularly meaningful cards I keep in a special box, but the rest? I waffle around and eventually put them into the recycling, but not without much guilt, and then usually only after they've been sitting in a file or a pile on my shelf for months and months. Why do I do this? It's not like I'm going to insult the person who gave it to me! Sheesh, it's just a card!

What do you do with cards you are given?

Monday, July 24, 2006

That's it! *UPDATED!*

I have had enough. My monitor is crap and my back is a twizzler stick everytime I sit down at my computer. Which is often. I just downloaded my pictures from my fantastic fantastic fantastic weekend and they look like garbage on my way-too-dark monitor.

I am leaving right. now. to buy a new monitor. No, really. I've said it before (here and here) but I'm going this time.

Stay tuned (right, cause you really care that much! Tee hee).

------------ UPDATED, 9:17pm ------------

Oh my gosh! The colours! They're so bright! My back! It's straight!
(My desk! It's so clean!)

Notice how washed out the colours are in the 'before' picture? Before I knew my old monitor was so bad, I thought my photos looked bad cause of my camera. I adjusted each and every one so that the colour looked "right." D'oh.

Bye bye old monitor!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I am certifiably INSANE

I have aBOUT a bazillion things to do before I leave. Stuff to do, stuff to buy, bookings to make, cities to research. A house to get spic and span (oh and trust me, there's a LOT to do in that departnemt) before my friend moves in for the month of August. And one more week of summer school to teach.

And I am going camping alllll weekend. It's gonna be fantastic, and I wouldn't cancel for anything, but

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Two weeks from RIGHT NOW

I will be sitting in the airport, waiting to board my plane. HOLY SMOKES! When I put that little ticker up there I nearly had a heart attack, cause it was telling me 15 days. Surely I punched in the date wrong. But noooo! I have SOOOO much to do still, EEK!

Ok, I'm going to give you fair warning. I will be posting a whole bunch about my trip in the next two weeks (and will do as much posting as I can while I'm away, cause hey, that's kinda one of the points of a blog, now, isn't it!).

Anyway, I'm just sitting here squealing with glee cause I found out that the day I arrive in the Cinque Terra (5 tiny fishing villages on Italy's north west coast), there is a fireworks display! A spectacle of lights set off from the beach over the sea, says the website. Squeeee!

Monday, July 17, 2006

My delight

Tonight was our young adults BBQ down at Kits beach. It's once a month during the summer - we all bring something to BBQ, hang out, play some goofy games (yay - water balloon toss!), and have a brief talk/discussion time. Part of the discussion revolved around the question of what we take delight in. It was so good to be able to stop and reflect on that again tonight.

Even just the word struck me. Delight. How often do we as adults feel delighted at something? Why does it seem like it's only children who delight in things sometimes? I want to be more of a person who takes delight in things, who thrills, who marvels at the world around me - the big stuff and the little - and at all that God has done for us.

I feel like I'm getting a fresh sense of who God is these days, and of how mind-blowingly huge his love for us is. Between good talks with friends, the current sermon series (Darrell Johnson) at my church, and spending a whole lot of time in the mountains and at the beach, I'm finding lots of opportunity for delight these days.

I find my delight in nature, particularly the ocean (I've mentionned this before). The quiet and the earthy smell of the woods and the majesty of the mountains around me, too, puts me in awe of God. Music touches me in a particular way, too, and when the two of those are combined, wow.

I also take delight in the sunset, gelato, giggling kids, blueberry crumble, being silly with friends, giving or getting a hug, rollercoasters, the sun on my face, a good talk with a good friend...

What do you take delight in?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

You'd think his legs would get tired

This guy's crazy idea to make a video where he danced in every place he travelled to got picked up by a gum company and got him a sponsored trip around the world to dance... and dance... and dance...

(video will now play from this page, just click play!)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Escaped kisses

In my afternoon class at summer school, I'm teaching 11 kids who have just finished kindergarten and are going into grade one. So they're five, maaaybe six. Two of the kids, a boy and a girl, have been inseparable since the beginning of summer school. Today, Safad* came up to me and announced: "Miss Hillary, Susanne* just kissed me."

I laughed to myself, thinking, there's got to be some appropriate teacher-y thing to say here, but I have no idea what it is. I was too amused to think of anything quick enough. These kids are little. They do stuff like that. Honestly, I think it's just super cute, as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

"Oh. What do you want me to do?"

He grinned. "Nothing." And off he went, back to the special teacher's chair to scrunch up with Suzanne and finish reading the book they were sharing.

I called over to Suzanne, "Suzanne, I know Safad is your friend, but we don't kiss at school."

She called back, with all the innocence of a child:
"I know. I couldn't help it. I just LIKE him sooo much!"
* Names changed

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Just let it marinate

I have a confession to make: I want what I want and I want it now.

If we're honest, isn't that the way we all feel sometimes? (Back me up on this one here, folks!) Why is waiting just so stinking hard somtimes? I want something to happen, whether it's an opportunity, a relationship, a posession, a change in myself, or whatever, and I want it to happen now. Poof! Instant satisfaction.

Problem is, God just doesn't work that way. He seems to reeealy like to make us wait. And wait. And wait. And wonder what the heck he's up to.

There are a few situations in my life these days where I so want things to be different than they are, but it seems there is just absolutely no way that that is going to happen right now. One (among many) of those situations involves a friend of mine. Our friendship has taken a bit of a beating, I guess. I used to talk to this person regularly, but a series of events transpired and we don't really talk much anymore. Right now, it feels like I've lost a good friend, and it makes me sad. I think time will make things better, but I want them to be better now. I miss my friend. There a few other situations, too, and every time I think about trying to change things a little, I come up against a brick wall. Ok, God, I get it.

No. Not now. Patience. Wait. In the words of a wise philosopher named Hitch, "Just let it marinate."

I get tired of sitting around in the muck and the goo, but I guess it's necessary in order to let the things God wants to teach me soak in, to permeate my character. (Um, did I just compare myself to meat?)

It's learning to be content with the way things are that I think is going to be a big lesson for me these days. And so here I sit, wondering what God's got up his sleeve, knowing that sometimes the most important things are teh things he does in us in the waiting times. I know that God is good, and that he has got great plans for my life. I've just got to learn to do that whole patience thing a little bit better.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gross Negligence

Well. For a near daily blogger a while back, I've been a tad absent the last... oh, MONTH or so. Yikers. I begged ya for comments then ran away (thanks for all the comments, by the way!). Life has gotten a little insane latey, but it's all oh-so-good. Summer is HERE! Here are some snippets from the last little while...

Trip planning: I've spent more time on the computer than I care to admit resarching places to stay, things to do. I have almost all my accomodations booked now, and have learned a few phrases in Italian, like "con vista grande, si possibile, per favore" (with a big view, if possible, please) and that a room is called a camera. I've decided that learning a few phrases like Basta! (enough!) and Non mi tocci (Don't touch me) would also be beneficial. Also in the phrasebook in the "help for women" section: Tu sei disgustoso (you're disgusting), Crepi! (drop dead), and Ho una malattia contagiosa (I have an infectious disease). I guess that would deter someone, now wouldn't it?

Summer School: I've got two classes, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, each with eleven kids. Oh my, it's sooo much easier than last year. I had never done anything like it last year, so spent HOURS after school preparing and trying to figure out what on earth was going on. This year, I already have almost everything planned. There's still stuff to prepare, but not nearly as much. All the better to enjoy the summer by!

Visiting: My very bestest friend in the whole wide world (Rachelle) was up from Iowa with her family visiting this past week, so I got to see her, Nathan, Mattias, and baby X. I love love LOVE it when I get to spend time with them! (DumBlogger isn't letting me post pictures right now, so click here for a picture till I can get it up on my blog)

Fruit: I am addicted to cherries. And peaches. And cherries. And blueberries. And did I mention cherries? (Again, there should be a picture here. Instead it's here. Thanks, Brian, for use of the photo!)

SUMMER FUN: Oh boy. Where do I start... over the last two weekends I have spent so much time outside, at BBQs, hiking (3 times), swimming in the ocean (4 times, woohoo!), hanging out with friends, watching sunsets, seeing fireworks, having great conversations ... it has been absolutely PERFECT. And tonight I went to Bard on the Beach - Vancouver's annual Shakespeare festival performed with the ocean, sky and mountains as a backdrop - with a big gang of people, too. There's a backpacking trip in the works one weekend in July, and hopefully the continuation of the newly formed Sunday tradition of church-lunch-hike-swim-chill with friends. Just what the summer should be, even if I do have to work! Brian, Brad, Kirsten, Vanessa, Rebecca and the rest... you have all made these days what they were! Thank you!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thank you!

Yikes, this is a tad overdue.

I got my package from the candy swap! A big box-o-goodies arrived for me in the mail and I'm thouroughly enjoying the goodies! Thank you, Cherie, who sent me a pacacke of yummies made right in her home town - chocolate (a music note! So cute!), Holland mints (how appropriate, given my trip!), caramel licorice, among other things. Thanks so much!

Marla, your sweets are on their way!

Monday, July 03, 2006

School's out!!!


The last two weeks have been INSANE (as evidenced by my barely-there bloggging), but Friday at 5:00pm, I left school and started summer holidays! Yes, 5:00. Sick. Oh well, at least I left. What a crazy, crazy last week. This is somewhat of a "catching up" post. Beware. It's looong! :o)

Grade 7 Airbands: Every year, I have done a history of Rock and Roll unit with my grade 7's. We trace the roots of rock and roll all the way back to Africa and learn about it's evolution. It's great fun! At the end of the year, I have the kids get into groups, choose a song from the 50's or 60's, and put together an airband show. They perform in the gym on the stage for their peers and for the grade sixes, who I tell will be doing the same thing next year. It's always SO much fun, and the kids do a fantastic job. Everyone is clapping along, and cheering, especially for groups that aren't quite as polished as others. It's a really positive, fun morning. This year was no exception (except for two girls who weren't happy with their group so made up some story about having to go to Victoria for the day. Their teacher and I saw through that lie immediately, called them both in the evening to say that they had to come to school the next day. Well, they never showed. Even when their teacher called them in the morning and told them to get their butts to school. I couldn't believe it! I was so mad. But, I was also SO impressed with the rest of their group, cause they totally revamped their performance without the two prisses and performed anyway. I was so proud of them!). For nearly two hours, we had the gym rocking to songs like Surfin' USA, It's My Party, Magic Carpet Ride, Big Spender, and on and on. The kids were fantastic! I'm going to miss doing that unit with them next year!

Talent Show: Every year on the last day of school, we do a talent show. All the kids pile into the gym and watch sing, dance, play the piano, do marshal arts, tell jokes, do gymnastics, etc etc etc. Some kids are adorable, some kids have amazing talent, other kids... well... it's good that they want to get up and perform in front of nearly 700 people. I've always enjoyed the talent show, but without fail there are one or two acts that make me shake my head and wish these kids would just be KIDS. This year, some of the songs the kids chose to sing was disappointing. THREE groups/performers sang Unfaithful: "And I know that he knows I'm unfaithful/And it kills him inside/To know that I am happy with some other guy/I don't wanna do this anymore/I don't wanna be the reason why/Every time I walk out the door/I see him die a little more inside"

I'm sorry, but NINE year olds don't need to be singing about heartbreak and flagrant cheating. I wish artists would realize the impact they have on kids and actually write stuff that could make a positive impression. I know, I know, music isn't all for kids. I guess I just get so frustrated that kids are forced to grow up so fast, and that acts like that are approved. One of the students who sang this song was a grade four BOY. It killed me to hear all the grade six and seven kids snickering (loudly) when he got to the line "to know that I am happy with some other guy." ARG! Can we not set limits on what kids can sing/do at the talent show??? I'll just remember instead the kids like the little kindergarten boy who got up and belted out "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" accapella into the mic. A song appropriate for his age, and oh so very cute!

Goodbyes: The kids finished up on Thursday of last week, and we had our staff party Thursday night, then Friday we a big breakfast prepared for us by our administrators. The year end food fest is really rather ridiculous, but oh so YUMMY! Our principal runs a cooking school in the south of France every summer, if that gives you an idea of the gourmet style food we get whenever she's involved in something! After breakfast we acknowledge all the people who will be leaving our school for transfers, retirements, maternity leaves, etc. There are gifts and speeches and general warm wishes all around. It's always sad to see people go, but this year was particularly difficult because of two teachers who are leaving out school - Mr S and Mr G.

Mr G is transferring to another school after about 10 years at my school. The school will not be the same without him. He is the most grounded, kind, helpful person. He's always willing to help out, particularly with computer woes, answer a question, or give encouragement. He's taught me a lot and I've been so grateful for the support he's given me in my music program over the last three years. It will be so strange to not have him there next year.

Mr S is retiring this year, after 37 years of teaching. It's his job that I am taking over, but that does not in any way mean I am glad to see him go. Like Mr G, he has been such an inspiration to me as I am at the beginning of my career. He has taught me so much. Plus, he is one of the most friendly people I know! He was the first teacher I met when I got to the school and he gave me a great big welcome, really made me feel a part of the school right away. He always has fabulous stories of his travels and his former students. But most of all, he has an incredible way with the kids. He may be 50 odd years older than them, but he has a gift for empathizing with them, for seeing the world through their eyes, and for cutting through all the crap they try to throw at him but still treating the kids with such respect. He instills self confidence and self esteem in every student. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say he is a role model for me and for how I want to treat my students. There was hardly a dry eye in the house when saying our goodbyes to Mr S. The school will simply not be the same without him there.

Packing up: The last order of business for this school year for me was packing up my classroom and moving upstairs. After the breakfast (and about 2 hours of yakking with the people who were still finishing things up! Hey, this is ME we're talking about here!) I got down to business in my room - boxing things up, sorting through files, making trips up and down the stairs and/or elevator and loading everything into my new classroom. It really started to sink in that, HOLY SMOKES! this is MY classroom. MY kids. MY responsibility. *GULP* I am so excited to head back in August and get organized and set up, and get planning for the start of school. After a good long holiday, of course.

Ah yes, holidays. My brain is so in holiday mode right now. After the fantastic Canada Day I had yesterday, a short hike and another swim in the ocean after church today, and a long hike and, you guessed it, another swim planned for tomorrow, I couldn't be happier! Summer school starts Tuesday, but I'm gonna enjoy every second of this hot summer long weekend while I can! YES!!!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

O CanaD'oh!

Shoot! I missed it! It's officially no longer Canada Day. Happy Canada Day anyway!

I had a fabulous day today! It was officially the first day of summer holidays (last day of work was yesterday, yippeeeeee! Yeah yeah, I'm back at sumemr school on Tuesday, shhhh, let me have my moment!) and boy was it a quintissential summer day! The day started off with a BBQ down at Locarno Beach. Bocce, swimming, tanning, hanging out - we did it all. We then headed downtown to the False Creek/Yaletown area to catch some of the Jazz Festival, though whether what we were listening to was Jazz or not is debatable. Oh well, it was live music in the park near the water, so who cares! Then off we went to English Bay. We grabbed soem dinner and ate on the beach, then walked along the Stanley Park seawall to Siwash Rock and settled in to watch the Canada Day fireworks (we began to wonder if they were actually happening cause they got started so late!). We even had a little bonfire going. Of ocurse, then we had to walk allll the way back to Yaletown where our cars were - about a 5 or 6 km walk.

The day was fantastic! What a great way to celebrate Canada's 139th birthday and the start of summer! Yahoo!

Happy Canada Day!