Saturday, September 30, 2006

Hugs from God

Every now and then, I feel like God knows that I need a little cheering up. I love how he uses people to give little hugs - just to remind us that he's there, and that he loves us.

This week was a pretty gloomy one at school. We found out early in the week that the school board had grossly overestimated student enrolment for this year. All of a sudden, they found themselves with 1,100 fewer students than they thought they would have. And that meant that there would have to be cuts. Once all the numbers got crunched we learned that we had to cut ESL and resource staffing by 0.6 of a position. That may not sound like much, but it's basically one person, three days a week. It's huge. And it all gets cut from the kids who need it most. Yes, the argument is that, well, there are fewer kids, so it shouldn't make a difference. BUT, it just doesn't work that simply. It still means less support for the kids who need it.

Wednesday, on our professional day, we learned who it was that was going to be cut. It all goes by seniority, so the low (wo)man on the totem pole had to go, and then there would be a big shuffle to get everything covered again. Well that person ended up being one of the other grade 5 teachers at my school. You know, one of the ones who has been SO fabulous with encouraging me, helping me plan, and just basically being one of the most dedicated, enthusiastic, caring teachers I know. Yeah, her. Because she's a classroom teacher and you can't just leave the class teacher-less half the week, the next lowest person would be offered her job.

It all got very complex, but basically, the second lowest teacher, B - who has been running an absolutely fantastic life skills class for a number of special needs students - declined the piecemeal job of the other grade 5 teacher, P. Thankfully it means that P gets to stay, but it also means that B has to leave the school and take a permanent subbing job (she gets her wage still, but never knows where she'll be from day to day). It sucks sucks sucks that she has to leave. She, too, is such a dedicated person, and has been at our school (part time, hence the low seniority) for ages.

Everybody is really glum, and worried about how the ESL and learning assistance program will look now. Oh, and the piddly version of a music "program" that they were going to do for the intermediates (mandatory intermediate choir once a week)? That got cancelled cause of this whole kerfuffle, too. Super. We even cancelled our back to school social on Friday. Nobody feels like a party right now.

Anyway, that's been the climate at work this past week. Total suckage. It's brought up squabbles about all kinds of things - people are stressed out - and union vs HR debates and all kinds of yucky stuff, the biggest of which is B having to leave the school.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty bummed on Thursday when I was leaving work. It was early evening, so most of the kids had gone home. But as I was walking to my car, I saw a little girl who was in one of my French music classes last year. She's in grade 4 this year, so she's what, nine? She smiled and me and said hello. In French, she asked me how my grade 5 class was this year, and did I like my new job. I told her I did, but that I missed teaching music, too. We talked for a few minutes and she told me all about her violin - she had joined strings this year, about her new teacher, about her summer. Then she told me that she missed having me as a music teacher. Aw!

It was such a little thing - just a cute little conversation with a former student, but it was so nice to have that little interaction. Among all the yuckiness, it was a total highlight of my week.

God knew I needed a hug and he gave me one in the form of a little girl named Jessica.

The worst limmerick ever

There once was a young lass named Hillary
Who got a cut on her little capillary
She can't rhyme a bit, this limmerieck is sh...oddy
Now what's a new rhyme word for Hillary?

Now see? This is what happenes when I blog over tired. I got nothin'.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Exhausted, embarassed, and enraged

Exhausted? Yep, that's me. It hit me like a brick wall tonight. I feel like I can't even move. Everything seems to be catching up with me right now. I think I've mentionned that I'm helping out with the Alpha Course at my church this term. Well, part of it is a one hour talk on video. You know, dark room, no moving, just listening... yeah, some leader *I* am - I couln't keep my eyes open. That makes two weeks in a row. Gah! I still heard everything, and (thankfully!) didn't do the head jerk thing, but still! What kind of example am I setting for people?!?! They're really good talks, too, it's not like they're the problem! This year will have me learning to like coffee yet. Heh, maybe I should stash some Red Bull in my purse for Wednesday nights! I really do need to get some better sleeping habits!

Embarassed? Check! On Saturday I went for a beautiful hike on Whistler mountain with some friends (a few pictures are here). Afterwards we headed back to town to get changed and to go hang out with our friend John who left yesterday for nine months of travelling through Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The only snag in that plan was when I got back to my car. Uhhh... where are my keys? Not in the usual key pocket in my backpack... not in the main part of the bag... or in the front pocket... oh crap. That's right. I had pulled just the essentials, or so I had thought, out of my purse before the hike and put them in my backpack, leaving my purse locked in the trunk. Apparently I had neglected to think about transferring my keys out. Yeeeah. That's greeeeat. I hung out at my friend Brian's place (where my car was parked) while I waited for a tow truck to come and unlock my car. Thank goodness I opted for that little bit of roadside assistance last time I renewed my insurance! The tow truck guy took no more than 1.7 seconds to pop open my door (good to know Civics are so secure!) and I opened the trunk and grabbed my purse, reaching my hand into the frot pocket where I usually keep my keys...

No keys. Well, they must be in the main part. Nope, not there either. Ooo-kay, how about this pocket. Nu-uh. Huh. Where are my keys?

Oooooooh. Riiight. I was in a hurry to transfer my stuff before the hike, so I took my lip gloss - and my keys - and jammed them into the mesh side pocket of my backpack. You know, the one I had with me hiking? The one that was sitting back up in Brian's appartment? The one I had all along? Yeah, that one. Soooo, basically, I called a tow truck for nothing. That's super. Welcome to yet another chapter in the life of Hillary! Bwuah ha haaa!

So, the last thing... this enraged thing? Yeah. I am SO upset right now. I don't want to get into it here right now except to say that some bad stuff went down in my school district and we just learned the implications of it today. It SUCKS, and I'm super mad, but I have nowhere to direct my anger/frustration/disappointment/whatever. GAAR! Yes, I still have my job, it's not that. I'll get into it later. For now I have to sleeeep. My roomate just blurted out, "Ugh! Why does it hurt to be awake?!?" That pretty much sums things up for me, too.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Blogger blahs

I simply can not think of anything to write about these days. Man oh man. I was flipping through some old posts the other day and yikes, the quality control folks here at hellohillary land have fallen asleep on the job lately. But hey, I suppose I shouldn't be announcing to y'all that my blog sucks these days! I DO want you to stick around.

So my plan was, going into this year, to back off on all the nutso stuff I'm involved in and take it easy. Yeah, ummm... so that hasn't happened. I think it's actually physically impossible for me not to be busy. It's all fantastic stuff, though, and belive it or not, between dancing lessons, helping with the Alpha course at my church, young adults, and an every-two-weeks Bible study/prayer group with two girlfriends, I have cut down my involvement quite a bit. Oh well! I love it, and am always wishing I could do more. I still haven't gotten around to the photography course or African drumming lessons I was wanting to do back in the spring. Silly job. It keeps getting in the way of things I want to do.

In other news, life in grade five seems to be progressing well. It's funny, everyone is always asking me, "How's your class?" I never really know what to say. "Uhh... it's good!" Very intelligent of you, Hillary! Though it is SO nice to be in a workplace environment where people care and are interested in how I'm doing. I'm trying not to get so wrapped up in all the stuff I'm learning and all the big and little jobs I have to do each day (ugh, I never realized how much of an accountant I have to be as a classroom teacher. Collecting money for this, order forms for that... I'm a freaking bank!) that I forget about building up positive relationships with the kids. I'm not sure how I'm doing with that yet. We'll see.

In yet other news, I think God is trying to teach me about patience and trust again. Apparently I haven't gotten it the first nine thousand seven hundred and eighty-two times he's tried to teach me. I'm kinda thick that way!

Finally, I'd like to wish you all a happy last day of summer! Autum begins tonight at 9:03pm. I'm kinda sad. I mean, I'm already in fall mode with school starting and everything, but this has been the most amazing summer. Hiking, swimming, hanging out with friends, travelling... it's been so great. But I do love fall, too. I love the leaves, the crisp air, the smell of damp woods, drizzly Sunday afternoons spent cozied up with hot chocolate and a good book or movie. Yay for fall!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I now present...

No more tenants for me! That silly "rent my blog" thing has been empty for far too long, so I decided to put that space to better use...

My friend Brian is an extremely talented photographer, and seeing as I'm always telling people about his site anyway, I figured it was about time to highlight it here! He's done lots of travelling, too, so he's had no shortage of amazing images to capture. Check out the section in my sidebar called "Photography by Brian" or just click here to be taken to his galleries. Trust me on this one, folks, go check out his website!

Here's a taste of some of his photography to give you a little nudge...

Clicking the photos above will take you to a larger view. Click here for the gallery homepage.

Monday, September 18, 2006

One word

As an icebreaker/get to know you ativity at young adults tonight, we were asked to tell the people at our table our name and one word to describe how we were feeling right then. Gah! Only one?

I decided I needed to settle on 'excited.' Excited about my class, excited about new possibilities, excited about life in general, I guess. With that excitement comes a type of fear, too. Maybe fear is not the best word for it... apprehension? questionning? wondering if or how I'll know how to do the right thing? But overall, the last few weeks have left me really really looking forward to what's coming next. And that's a fun place to be in.

Tricky, complex, testing out new waters, learning to relate in new ways, learning about myself, learning about others. Even among the late nights, paper overload, little sleep, and general insanity which has been my life for the last few weeks, life is good.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You've GOT to be kidding me... (300th post)

Well, I just learned a lesson. Never ever use a credit card to call Vancouver from a payphone in Amsterdam. Ev-ver. I called my parents and left a message (the entire call was under two minutes, I timed it) with my flight info so they could come pick me up at the airport when I got home. Turns out that phone call cost me $39.80.

And to think that I did that cause I didn't want to buy a 5 Euro phone card and only use a tiny bit of it.

Leapin' lizards!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Can someone please explain this? Cause I sure can't! But still, it's kinda fun!

OH OH OH... I was ganna stop at one, but I'm sitting by myself at my computer laughing till tears are coming out at this one...

And if you want some more, try this, or this.

ADDENDUM: Yes, I realize most of you are looking at this going, "Ummm.... ooooo-kay." I was tired, hungry, and I'm getting sick. That's a better excuse than "I'm a wacko," which is probably closer to the truth! ;-)

Friday, September 08, 2006


I have officially survived my first week! Yes! I've been at school ridiculous hours this week, and hardly any prep or marking has even started yet, so I'm a little scared of what, oh, I dunno, report card time will bring, but I guess I'll drown under that load cross that bridge when I get to it.

I've met a few parents already, most who I had already met, albeit briefly, when I was teaching music. They've all been really nice so far, though I've been warned about one parent. But I've also been told about how to deal with this parent, so it'll all be good. I hope!

I've had a few parents come in to tell me a little bit about thier kids, which I appreciate. One parent added that his kid was a little worried about having me, specifically, as a teacher. He assured me that he had no concerns, though. I laughed - I had this child's class last year for music, and the class was a really tough one, so I always felt like all I did was grouch and gripe at them the whole year long, so yeah, I can see why the poor kid would be concerned! I have since been assured that this child now thinks I'm "pretty nice." Yesss!! Oh these poor kids. They still are pretty little. I have to try to remember what it's like starting a new school year: new teacher, new classmates, best friends in other classes... They're still pretty nervous, I think!

In other news, I've signed up for a dance class on Sunday nights! Who'da thunk it! The same friend that sucked me into going to an Irish Calieh (or however you spell it) - which I thoughroughly enjoyed - sucked me into an 8 week "Funky Swing" class. There's a whole group of friends going, and it's going to be a blast! I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to school*

The morning air even felt different today as I headed to my car for the first day of school. It was cooler, and there was still a little bit of fog in the air. I could see my breath for the first time this season. "Here we go!" I thought, as I stepped into my car and headed to work...

This year feels SO much different than last year. Last year I was nearly dreading starting school again. I felt worn out, beat up, and out of ideas. The year, while overall still a good one, was tough. The change from teaching music to grade five came at the perfect time.

I spent all last week setting up my classroom, and I'm really happy with the way it looks. It's bright and cheery (woohoo, real live light! My music room was in the basement and so tended to be kinda dark!), it's colour co-ordinated, and it's all organized and ready to go (click the picture for more). It won't look like this ever again, but hey, a gal's got to start somewhere!

The kids were just at school for an hour today, but the real deal starts tomorrow. Kids will find out who their new teachers are first thing, and the year will get rolling. They don't know it yeat, but they're already going to have homework. Yeah, yeah, I'm such a meanie pants. They'll just have to suck it up!

The more I think about my job, and the way I even landed at this school, the more I am blown away by God's grace and provision for me. When I started at my school in September 2003, it was a part time music job, the absolute perfect thing for my first year of teaching. Just enough to live on, not too heavy a prep/marking load, and only 40 minutes a week with each class so I couldn't really screw them up too badly! ;-) I got laid off at the end of my first year, but ended up being hired back at the same school for the fall. My second year I was able to go to full time, in part by taking on teaching the French Immersion kids music, too. Yeehaw! Full time salary, plus I got to use my French. No layoffs that year thanks to a spring election, so I got to stay at my school again and by the end of my third year, had enough seniority under my belt to escape layoffs should they come about again. Of course, by the end of my third year, I was reeealy ready for a change. Huh, would you look at that? A grade 5 teacher was retiring. Now, with this position, I am working with the best team I could ever ask for - the other grade 5 class is shared by two teachers, both of whom have lots of experience, lots of materials, and lots of willingnes to share and help me out. They are the reason I'm not totally terrified this year!

Yay God for going above and beyond my expectations once again!
* This week has been BUSY! Proof positive is the face that I started writing this on Tuesday night and have only now completed it on Thursday! Oy!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sad News

I just heard via Ellen's blog that Steve Irwin (the Crocodile Hunter) died! He was stung by a sting ray while filming for a documentary that was to be called "Ocean's Deadliest." That's so crazy. I mean, in a way it's not a surprise that he died the way he did, but still, he was really young and leaves behind a wife and two little kids. I loved watching his show - he was such a great advocate for animals, and really was passionate about educating people about them. I know he had his share of controversy, but he was great. It's so sad!