Thursday, November 30, 2006

I object!

Whenever I see him, my grandpa, bless him, always asks the same question: "How's the school marm?" Last weekend was a big birthday party for him, and a number of times, I overheard him talking about me to friends and relatives who hadn't seen me in a long time, telling them what I was doing these days. "Oh, she's a school marm now!" I know in his heart, he's bragging about me, but schoolmarm?! Haha! I simultaneously cringe and chuckle when I hear him say it.

Just for fun, and because I'm tired of ticking little checkboxes on report cards for now, I looked up some definitions in various dictionaries of the word "marm."

  • A female schoolteacher, esp. of the old-time country school type, popularly held to be strict and priggish.
  • Marmish: Conservative to the point of being boring, dull or ugly; usually referring to a manner of dress and/or personality. After the stereotypical school marm.
  • A british word meaning an old school teacher, usually plump and bespectacled. Somewhat old and stingy. Fond of floral print granny panties.

Buah hahah! Ok, those made me laugh. I am not a school marm!

... umm... sayeth I, as I sit here in front of the computer in flannel pj pants, wool socks, my hair in a bun, and my glasses sliding down my nose. Hmm....

I AM NOT A MARM (usually!)!!! Hee hee hee!

That's science!

Oh joy. I had this post all written and ready to publish. For once, I decided to actually spell check, and blogger ate my post. I LOVE it when that happens. Here we go, take 2.


Well, I survived my first field trip ever yesterday, with no lost kids. Yippee!

The other grade 5 teacher and I took 51 kids to Science World on the skytrain and turned them loose inside. It was so fun to watch them run around and try out all the different exhibits. Some actually read the instructions and then the descriptions of what was happening, but most ran from display to display, punched a few buttons, turned a few cranks, and then ran off to the next thing. It was pretty funny.

We also saw a movie about the human body, which was perfect, because we just finished studying that. It was pretty cool. There was one part where a boy was riding his bike, and they used a special x-ray camera to film it, so all you could see was his skeleton. There was footage from inside a beating heart, inside the stomach, inside the lungs. "Ms Hillary, that movie was nasty!" commented one of my students. "It's not nasty! It's science!" And, no, (believe it or not, B) it wasn't ME who said that! It was one of my students! I had to chuckle. All the adults in the theatre had to laugh at the footage of sperm making their way to an egg: the musical selection they played was Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." We were all cracking up right from those first three "wuah-wuah-wuah" notes. I'm sure all the kids wondered what the heck was so funny.

So it was a pretty good day, other than my two hours of cold sweats, nausea, all-over-aching, stabbing pain, and just generally feeling like I was gonna die. Woohoo me. Plus, the lunch I bought made me feel woozy till... well... I still feel it now. No toilet hugging yet, though I've had a few close calls. Probably too much information. Oh well.

I got home last night and I was SOOO tired. I set two alarms (two!) and lay down on my couch for a 25 minute nap before I planned on getting up and getting a whole truckload of work done.

I woke up twelve hours later.

I was planning on posting last night about the field trip, but uh, yeah, I was sleeping. Apparently. I'm really glad I posted in the morning yesterday, which I don't normally do, because it R-E-A-L-L-Y would have sucked royally to have missed posting on the second to last day of NaBloPoMo. Which ends today. I made it! I'll probably post tomorrow to round out the week, but wowzers, I'll take a wee break after that.

It's been fun! Thanks for all your comments, it's been a big part of what's kept me going! (Who wants to post if nobody talks back???)

I'm off! You'd think after 12 hours of sleep, I'd feel rested. I feel like I could sleep another 12. Sheesh.

Oh, and school's on, by the way. Boo hissy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not giving up hope...

This was Tuesday morning. We're supposed to get another 15-20cm (6-8 inches) today and tonight. HO-LY! I may get my snow day yet....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

White on white

Hello. My name is Hillary, and I am a desperate woman.

Now, if you have been reading my blog for even the last few days, you will know that (1) report cards are driving me crazy and (2) it is C-O-L-D in Vancouver right now. These two facts merged together today to create an absolutely hilarious (at least to me!) teaching scenario this morning.

One of the (*ahem* many *ahem*) hold-ups to getting my reports done is the fact that I'm not finished testing the kids' volleyball skills in PE. I've been watching them bump, serve, and volley for what seems like weeks now and as of this morning, I still had half the class to test on their serves. No problemo. We had PE today, and I can easily get through half the class in a period.


The large gym was closed this morning for photo retakes. The small gym was being used. I could have swiped a free period that's available on Wednesdays, but we're on a field trip tomorrow (yay, Science World!). Sooo... it's now or never.

Picture the scene. Six kids lined up along the edge of the snow-covered field, bundled up in all thier woolies, the rest off playing in the playground, listening for the "TWEET! TWEET!" of the whistle to come change places. Me and my gloveless hands clutching a clipboard and pencil, trying to give tips on how to properly serve a volleyball. In the snow. In subzero weather. Dressed in touques, scarves, mittens, coats, boots, and snowpants.

"But Ms Hillary, the ball keeps falling off my mitten!"
"I know, just do your best!"

"But I can't move my arm right with my coat on."
"Don't worry, I won't dock marks for that."

"I can't find the ball!"
"Look closely! ... nope, that's a snowball... oh! See the hole in that snowbank? ....."

On the bright side, it sure looked pretty with the sun glinting of the perfect arc of snowflakes left lingering in the air as the ball sailed off their mittens.

Man, those kids need a reward for putting up with me! Perhaps some hot chocolate.....

Monday, November 27, 2006

Snow day!!!

... but not for us. Every private school in Vancouver? Closed. Every college? Closed. Universities? Closed. Nearly every surrounding school district? C-l-o-s-e-d. But us? Noooo... we stay open. Right. Thanks guys.

It actually wasn't too bad getting to work today, though I live quite close to my school, and it's all along major roads. The worst part of my commute was the fact that it took half an hour just to get into my car! The keyhole on my driver's side was frozen so much I couldn't get a key in it (even after shooting it - twice! - with WD-40. Hmm...), and the other side would unlock, but was frozen shut. I nearly ripped the handle out of the door, so I figured I'd better stop that. I thought about trying to go in through the trunk, but I need to unlock the folding seats from the inside of the car, first. Plus, as it turned out, my trunk was also frozen shut, and not even me planting my feet, tucking my arms under the dip for the licence plate, and heaving up with all my might was going to get that sucker open. Too bad, cause my ice scraper was in there. I used the handle of a squeegee and my mitten-clad knuckles to scrape the ice off my windows this morning. Ouch. Only after heading inside to pack my stuff into a backpack in preparation for taking the bus did I finally, on one last try, get my passenger door open. Sheesh.

The nice thing about school being open today is that there was hardly anybody there. We got a double recess today, and a bunch of my kids asked my why I didn't go out and play with them. So I did at lunch! It was so fun! :-) My kids and the other grade 5 class plopped down to watch the Sound of Music this afternoon (you can't exactly teach something new with only half the class there!). I now have Edelweiss running around in my head. There are worse things in life. Would you believe I've never seen that movie all the way through? (And I still haven't... we had to cut it short about half an hour before the end to send the kids home.)

There is talk of school closures tomorrow. It is STINKIN' cold out there. It's supposed to get down to -10 tonight, -20 with the windchill (that's about 15 and -5 degrees farenheit, respectively, for my American friends). Brrrr! See, the thing about snow in Vancouver is that it's wet and slushy. And then when it gets that cold, all the slush turns to ice. Not so much a good plan to drive on that.

Apparently we're breaking records all over the place for cold and snowfall amounts. This is the most snow we've gotten ever in November, and the coldest it's been in 20 years.

But the good news? Today they finally lifted the boil water advisory. Ha! You know who's had it the worst? All the people who have been without power, sometimes for days, first because of the rain, now because of all the ice and snow on the lines, AND they've had to boil their water. Thankfully I've not been one of those. (yet!)

Oh, and I WISH I had my camera at school today. Just as I was leaving, around 4:30 or so, the scene out my window was SOOO gorgeous. Unbelievable, really. The paned windows were all fogged up, settling in one corner like the scene so often printed on Christmas cards. Every pane had a perfect swoop of fog all in the same corner. As I'm on the top floor of the school, all I see out the window are the rooftops and trees, all covered in brilliant white snow. There are both evergreens and deciduous trees out the window, a perfect balance between those dark, wintery green needles and black tangled branches, all tempered with white. And to top it all off, the winds had blown much of the clouds away, and there were streaks of blue and streaks of cloud all lit up with the pinky orange of the setting sun. It was breathtaking. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Hmm... how much MORE can I ramble about the weather? Probably not much. Tomorrow is supposed to be super cold, but sunny. I SO hope there is no school tomorrow so I can go out and take some pictures!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I should have stayed in my slippers

Have you even experienced the sensation of still being on the water after you've come off of a boat? I feel like that right now, except I just got out of my car. I feel like I'm sliding around, side to side, but I'm firmly planted on my chair.

That ain't right.

It has been snowing here since yesterday afternoon. The first flakes started falling as we were taking a family portrait outside in my parents backyard. (Yes, outside. In the snow. We're crazy.) But it hasn't stopped since, and isn't supposed to yet till tomorrow morning. Come oooon, snow day!

Now all of this would be just fine for me. As I said this morning, I love the snow! BUT... I have been driving. all. day. Oh, the adventures I had today. Let's just say there was a gerrycan, frozen hands, and a whole lot of slipping and sliding going on.1 If you want, you can read the whole story (in bullet form) here.

Suffice it to say, I'm happy to be home again, safe and sound, back in my fuzzy pink slippers with another cup of tea. Aaahhh.

A crazy, crazy day, BUT, there's a silver lining. Three, in fact.

One, I got a new jacket! Yay! (It's about stinkin' time!) Two, I had a great time at grandpa's party, and got to see all kinds of relatives and friends of my grandparents I haven't seen in aaages. I stoped counting how many "I haven't seen you since you were thiiis big" comments I got. It was great! The tributes and stories were fun, too. I have a very cool grandpa. Three, becasue there were so many people missing from dancing tonight, teh combined the level 2 and level 3 classes and taught us some REALLY COOL bonus stuff. Score!

So the day wasn't a total bust. BUT, I'm exHAUStipated! I've never concentrated so long and so hard on driving before in my LIFE.

Here's me, fingers crossed for tomorrow...


1 If you're not from around here, Vancouver snow is slushy and wet and slippery, and Vancouver is hilly. Pair that with the fact it hardly ever snows, and you get absolute chaos on the roads. The rest of Canada laughs at us for our seeming inability to drive in the snow, but I tell you, IT'S NOT THE SAME!

Winter Morning

I took these pictures yesterday morning on my way home from the grocery store. It was such a spectacular morning. They don't seem very fitting now, as the city is blanketed with two inches of snow right now (probably more in other areas)!

Did I mention that I LOVE THE SNOW?!?!?! We don't get very much of it here, but when we do, I turn into a little kid inside, rushing to the window as soon as I wake up to see just how much snow fell overnight. If you could see inside my heart at those moments, you would see a little girl with her nose pressed up against the glass, clapping her hands excitedly and grinning wildly.

It's another perfect morning, sitting here in my fuzzy pink slippers, drinking tea and eating mandarin oranges, watching the flakes fall silently to the ground as another Christmas carol plays from the other room...

You can't hear my happy sigh, but it's there!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It has begun

When my radio flicked on this morning, it was just in time for the beginning of the chorus:

Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn king...

Yesterday I noticed Christmas lights up in trees and on houses, the mountains are covered with fresh snow, the temperature here has dipped below freezing, and today's forecast is for flurries. (!!!!!) It's officially the Christmas season, and I'm so excited. I love love love love LOVE this time of year. I love the lights, I love the music, I love the food, I love the decrations, I love the conectedness with people. This time of year is peaceful (well, ok, hectic, but there are moments of peace in there, too!). It's cozy. It's full of beauty. It's a time when people work a little harder at taking care of eachother. It's time with family and friends. And it's a celebration of the greatest gift this world has ever recieved.

Merry One Month till Christmas!

By the way, for all of you who are telling me to go buy food: the situation is now rectified...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Guest post TIMES THREE!

...but I'm in on it this time! I get to hang out with my bestest cousins ever tonight, and they're here to help me get creative jiggy wit' it. Oh yeah.

Barry (age 16) says: "Uuhh? what should I write?"

Well... not so creative, not too jiggy, but we love him anyway...

Holly (age 15) says: Make this short cause I wanna go to sleep.

Noooo... not that I'm coercing them into doing this guest post thang. Really, they wanted to...

My littlest cousin (age 9!) says: Umm.... (put um!) ... well... I don't know what to say.

Well really, she's a chattermouth every OTHER second of the day! ;) Hee hee hee.

Huh, so they're not such a talkative bunch right now. But hey, it's late, and I'm a little more enthusiastic than they are. To Holly, who is reading over my shoulder as I type, yes, you can go to bed now. Goodnight!

Holly says: OK! Phew! Thank you.

Believe it or not, this WAS actually THEIR idea... stage fright, I guess... ;-)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It's a guest post!

So I come on over to Hillary's place some time after 8 o'clock. Being a good friend and everything, I brought food. Well, cake mix, but it turns into food. I also assumed that Hillary would not have milk or eggs for said cake mix, so I brought some along. I was right.

You guys, Hillary is not joking when she says that she is busy with marking. She does not even remember to buy food1. I was immediately innundated with a pile of standardized math tests, which I scattered across the coffee table and living room floor. And then I got to it. 2 and a half hours later, I've got three pages marked and four or five to go. Does every teacher have this much marking to do? According to Hillary, yes they do. They're just more on top of it or something.

OK. Raise your hands if you think Hillary is maybe just a little bit crazy. Be honest. All right, I'll assume that you guys at the back haven't actually met Hillary in person. That's okay. Ever since I met Hillary I've thought she was a little on the crazy side. Also, most of the time that I've known her she's been a teacher or studying to become one. Stay with me here. I don't think it's the Hillary that's making Hillary crazy. I think it's the teaching.

You guys, I've been a "teacher" for all of 2.5 hours now, and I have already started to pick up certain Hillary-isms. I have spoken in strange voices (in response to her strange voices). I have spoken random words and phrases into empty rooms. I may have made up words, only to forget about them completely. And, I am in the middle of composing an unusually long blog posting to avoid any more marking. I'm pretty sure I don't do this at home. In fact, check my blog. I'm more of a twice-a-month-if-you're-lucky kind of blog poster.

At this point, my sugar rush from the cake is over, and the thrill of trying to see how much of that milk I can drink just isn't quite having the same effect. My eyes drill into the screen trying to see how long I can avoid working before Hillary catches me. It's too late.

1Hillary's mom, if you're reading this, send groceries! Or better yet, meals on wheels or something.

This was written by Brad.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Too tired... feet freezing... eyelids falling shut... brain dead... out of words...

Stay tuned tomorrow for "Needs to add more detail to writing..."

Ah-beh-dee, ah-beh-dee, ah-beh-dee, that's all, folks.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Nicknames through the ages...

* I'm Nana's little "Bunny Scoot."

* To Dad I'm "Tony." (I used to be "Lumpy," too, but Mom put the kaibosh on that one pretty quick once I hit adolescence. Phew!)

* I am my mom's "Hillary Duck."

* To Auntie Connie I was "Hill Billy." (or something like that... AC, do you remember?)

* To a large number of the boys in my grade 7 class, I was "Hillary Artillery." That name came with a dance. Put your hands up beside your face, each one posed like a duck bill. Point your fingers towards your face and close and and open them twice while saying Hillary. The syllables "Hi" and "ry" correspond to closed beaks. Next, point them away from your face while saying Artillery. "till" and "ry..." closed beaks. Bob your head to the rhythm as you go. Repeat. Again. And again. Perhaps there was something to that, and I just didn't see the deeper meaning. But I think they were just weird.

* When I worked at Camp Kawkawa, I was named "Pillsbury." I decided my midddle name should be "TouchMyStomachAndDie." :)

* A few people actually call me "HelloHillary." They get a kick out of saying, "Hello, HelloHillary!" or saying "HellloooooHillary" in all manner of strange voices.

* To my friend Rebecca, I'm "Hilla-ree, Hilla-rye, Hilla-roo-rah-ray," often with some form of happy hooting or squealing tacked on at the end for good measure.

What are some of your nicknames?

Oh, and do I feel silly for writing out every little step to the "Hillary Artillery" dance? Nope, cause I get great satisfaction in knowing that you were sitting at your computer with your hands up in the air, trying to figure it out! *GRIN!*

Monday, November 20, 2006


I've been pouring over pages like there for HOURS now. Too many columns... too many numbers... add it up, total the rows, weight the grades... AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

That is all. I just needed to look at something OTHER than these pages for a minute. I may just go dance around to some high energy music for a few minutes and let my brain unclench...

Boil boil boil

Day, what? 5? That's how long it's been that we've had to boil our water, and it's not supposed to end any time soon. Kind of annoying, but not the end of the world. At all. My friend Ashley wrote an excellent post on it - she's definitely got things in perspective. Go check out her take on the water situation (and tell her I sent ya!).

Short post today, because really I've been posting repeatedly in the comment thread of the last post!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


You play music?
..- Yeah. I've been playing the piano for a while... but, I'm learning guitar.
So you're actually good at the piano.
..- I'm OK.
You're ok. Which translates into, "You're actually good, but you're uncomfortable saying so.".
..- Yeah... it's called modesty.
No. Modesty is not bringing it up. Saying you're ok when you're actually good at something, is called lying.


This is an excerpt from "The Station," a short film directed by Josh Stackhouse. It's funny that I saw this film last night. I've been thinking these days about how I portray myself, and how I often feel like I can't acknowledge when I'm actually good at something, or that I like something about myself, without feeling like I'm bragging or boasting. Some people have no problem saying that they're good at something, which is good, which is healthy. But then, some take it just over the line and you get sick of hearing about how great they think they are.

I tend to be a person who just says it like it is. I did something silly? I tell people about it, cause, hey, it's funny! But sometimes I worry about accentuating weaknesses by joking about them, or pointing them out. I'm not a fan of hiding that side of me, because I think it's important to be transparent, but often I find myself wondering what kind of impression I'm giving off to people if I keep telling stories of goof-ups or talking about things I'd like to improve about myself, and am hesitant to acknowledge my strengths for fear of boasting or sounding full of myself.

It's all very well to have your own view of yourself in your head, but I think it would be so interesting to get to watch myself for a day and see me the way others do. Ha! Who knows, maybe people think I'm full of myself!

So what do you think? Where's the line between being honest about yourself and your strengths and bragging or boasting? Do you ever wonder how you come accross to others?

No conclusions from me, I'm just trying to think through, well, me and my big mouth! Heh heh.

(see what I mean?)

** Edited to add: This post continues on in the comments... there's a great discussion going - check it out and chime in! **

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Little things

The morning and early afternoon had been productive. I was happy with the work I'd accomplished, and decided to take a break. For the first day in a long time, the streets were dry, so I slipped on my walking shoes and set off to do a few errands on foot: returning a video, buying some groceries, stopping in at the bank...

Avoiding the noise of the traffic, I wandered through the side streets, taking in the soggy and withered gardens and the last few yellowed leaves dangling from the trees that line the streets. My nose and fingertips were comfortably chilly - just right for a Saturday afternoon walk in late autumn. As I walked, I passed the apartment where my best friend and her husband used to live, and thought how much life has changed since they used to live there.

As I came up to a main street, I looked north and was caught once more by the beauty of the mountains towering over the city, the winter blue slopes and brilliant white streaks of fresh snow against a grey November sky. I breathed deeply, and was greeted not by the smell of fall that I had been expecting, but by the distinct smell of cumin and other Indian spices floating along from a location I couldn't quite pinpoint.

I stopped to savour the moment, feeling secure, feeling satisfied, and allowing the music from my mp3 player to sink into my heart...

Your love
is extravagant
Your friendship
is intimate
I feel I'm moving
to the rhythm of your grace
your fragrance
is intoxicating
in a secret place

Spread wide in the arms of Christ
is the love that covers sin
No greater love I have ever known
You've considered me a friend
And captured my heart again

~ by Casting Crowns

Friday, November 17, 2006

In the news

It has been absolutely POURING here the last few days. There was a storm on Wednesday that has caused flooding, downed trees, collapsed buildings, power outages, and, because of the highest turbidity levels they've ever seen in the resevoirs, a "boil water" advisory for all of Greater Vancouver. That's nearly 2 million people. We can't drink, cook, or even brush our teeth without boiling the water first. Wowsers. But yeah, the water looks pretty gross right now.

Is it bad that I did a little happy dance that my kids would no longer be asking me to go fill up their water bottles every 5.2 seconds? And then to pee every 3.9 seconds after that? I feel like I'm becoming the Pee Nazi. NO PEE FOR YOU!

BUT, what I find hilarious in this, an "only in Vancouver" type scenario, is that as of this morning, restaurants and coffee shops have been included in the "boil water" advisory. They could not sell coffee unless it was made with bottled water. At all. All this in time for the morning commute, which made for some VERY grumpy people all over this caffeine-dependant city today, I'm sure.

And the kicker? It was the top story on the radio news channel all morning.

No coffee. Because of too much rain. TOP STORY.

Welcome to Vancouver.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I have no engery for a post tonight. Enjoy the kiwi! :)
I might just have shed a little tear...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


A prayer wafts up
amid the noise of day
thoughts louder than words
crash heavily


the flow of life
at times
at times
making my feet take off dancing
a life of their own
joy flowing down to my toes

the mixture bittersweet
and lovely

In which Hillary dances around with much jubilation...

Woohoo! I made it to work in one piece! And so did my car!

That was not the case a year ago today. Today is one year since the Beastmobile died a horrible, twisted, mangled, firey death. Well, ok, not the firey part. Or really the mangled and twisted part, too much. But it died. And there WAS carnage. Left all over the road and dangling from all parts of the car. All joking aside, that was a freaky day.

I'm happy to report today's was an incident-free commute and Black Beauty (cause it's not black, get it? .... naw, neither do I) is happy as a clam.

Status of my claim? Still unfinished. Status of my back? Stupid back. It's mostly fine, but still bugs me sometimes, especially when I'm stressed out. Like, um, now.

Status of my life? Still good, still grateful it wasn't waaay worse.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Beware the wrath of Ms Hillary

Ooooh, my kids are SO getting a major lecture tomorrow. It's smack down time, baby. I will NOT be accepting the crap they're trying to pass off as work

They really need to know that you do NOT want your teacher feeling like they want to scratch their eyeballs out when they are reading (or trying to read) your work. I marked 6 assignments tonight -SIX! - where they weren't even writing on the LINES. No more.

"Do I look like a garbage can? I'm not accepting your garbage. Do it again."
Oh they are NOT going to like me.

Look out. It's report card time, and I'm GRUMPY.



I will NOT let this get to me this year. I WON'T.

Every term, around reporting time, I freak out. It's a crazy assessment time for my students, and we're finishing up units right left and center. That means lots of tests/projects. Which means lots of marking. PLUS, there's the added job of creating the report cards.

This year is, of course, a whole new ball game. These puppies matter. As terrible as it is, I knew hardly anyone really cared about their kids recorder mark. I still did the best I could, but there wasn't as much pressure as I'm feeling now. Because Language Arts? Math? Yeah, they care.

It's right around now that I am looking at the format of the report: opening comments (a personal statement about each child - which is easy for some, but soo hard for others - and comments on their work habits, behaviour, etc), letter grades (those are the easy part - I just factor in everything I've been doing all term), comments (those scare me - how to make them general enough that I don't end up with 50 comments for every subject, and specific enough that I'm actually saying something. Plus there's the whole 'saying things diplomatically' thing...), and then goals and support plan, which should be easy enough.

BUT, what ends up happening are two things. First, I get sooo overwhelmed by the job that I feel paralyzed. I need to learn how to manage my teaching better so everything doesn't happen at crunch time, or just make a cut off date and say, oops, too bad, those'll count on the next term.

But more than that, this is a time when I really start to doubt myself as a teacher. Have I done this right? What if I haven't covered this? Is this really a fair mark? Could I have covered more? If they can't do xyz, is it because I haven't taught them well enough?

Looking at the task ahead of me, mostly because it's the first time I'm doing it, freaks the living daylights out of me.

Oh, it'll get done, and it will be fine, I'm sure. But I put such unrealistic expectations on myself and then end up putting myself through hell for two weeks until it actually is finished. Where's the balance between wanting to do the best job I possibly can and then just letting go and realizing that it's ok if I'm not perfect???


Off I go to keep slogging through it...

Monday, November 13, 2006

If only we looked this cool

Here's a clip of some West Coast Swing dancers. I do NOT look like that... maybe by the end of level 2. ;-) (hahahahaha!!!) But hey, at least we have a goal to work towards, right? :)

Want to see more? Try here (I LOVE this one!) and here. And Holy SMOKES... THIS is what you can do with a choreographed routine. Wowzers.

Time to spill the beans

No no, not ME, silly! YOU!

Yesterday's post got picked up by BlogHer (woohoo!) and that got me thinking... it would be fun to do a story swap.

How's it work? You write a story of your first date (or a first date, the earlier the better!) on your blog, then let me know and I'll link to you here. Don't have a blog? Don't want to humiliate yourself that way on your own site (haha!)? Not to fear... just leave your story in the comments. Let's see how many stories we can collect!

Date stories:

- It was Cherie's story that made me think of this in the first place!
- Abbey tells of her first date via a few journal entries...
- Happy and Blue tells of his first love. It's a good one!
- There are stories in the comments, too! Check 'em out!

Come on, folks... don't make me look like a ding-a-ling, here! Tell a me a story! :) Heehee!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Random Memory

I just read Cherie's most recent post about her daughter getting asked out on her first date. The similarities between that and my first date were striking, and it brought back the hilarious memory, clear as day.

I was twelve years old, and in grade seven. I had developed the biggest crush on The Boy over the fall. In my pre-teen-ness, I flirted with him in the wierdest ways. There was something about a neon orange hat that he had, but it was mine, or I had found it or something. The hat wasn't so much the issue as the fact that it gave me an excuse to chase him around the playground trying to get it back. This carried on for a few days - he'd taunt me with the hat (oh, he liked getting chased by a girl!) and I'd run after him. Eventually, he shoved it down the storm drain at the corner of the school (sorry, fishies!). I feigned indignation, upset at the fact I no longer had a reason to chase him.

The school was putting on "A Christmas Carol" for our big musical that December. The Boy had been cast as Scrooge. Some time in December I had developed a brilliant excuse to actually phone him. (I had attempted calling boys before, but without success. When I tried phoning my super-huge crush in grade 5, I froze up and never said a word. I just listened to them on the other line asking, "Hello? Is there someone there?" Oh thank goodness those were the days before call display. And Mr and Mrs C? I'm sorry!!!)

So, back to my plan... I needed to know when the dress rehearsal was for the musical. I was so proud of myself for thinking up the line, "Who'd know better than Scrooge himself???" We actually talked for a while that day, and I asked him out. I am woman, hear me roar! I might have told my parents that he asked me. For some reason, I can't quite remember that detail. Funny, that.

The Boy and I made plans for our first date. We were going to see Hook in the theaters. The only thing was, I wasn't allowed to go on a date by myself. Mom wanted me to go in a group. I protested, but to no avail. So, grudgingly, I invited my friend Sorrell to come along.

The night of the date, The Boy's dad came to pick me up. The Boy came to the door, and my dad answered. My dad now likes to tell the story of how he shook The Boy's hand that night, squeezing it way past the point of being comfortable, and said, "Hello. I'm Hillary's FATHER." He laughed and laughed and laughed. To himself, that is. Good thing I didn't know then, I would have been MORTIFIED!

Sorrell and I hopped in the car and we got dropped off at the movie theatre. I was so giddy! The three of us found our seats and settled in. I honestly don't remember if he held my hand, but I don't think he did. What I *do* remember is him making really cruel comparisons between one of the characters in the movie and one of our friends at school. Jerk. Though I laughed right along with him. That didn't deter me from liking him, either. What can I say, we were 12.

His dad dropped us off after the movie and The Boy walked me back to the door...

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Rememberance Day has a slightly different meaning to me this year. After being in Europe this summer, particularly taking a city tour in Munich and seeing the memorial at Dachau, I have a slighty better understanding of the realities of how awful war can be. The tour of the concentration camp was probably the most oppressive thing I have ever experienced. Discussing with my students this week, too, about peace and freedom, has forced me to really take a look at what those things are, and what those things mean. I know I take those things for granted. It's good to stop and remember why we are so blessed to have them.

They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old.
Age shall not wither them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Yeah-HAH!!! *updated*

For the record.

I am posting this FROM MY CLASSROOM!!! Today is the first day I have had a working computer in this room. YES!!! It's about shtinkin' time! Woohoo!

*UPDATE* For those of you who have commented so far... note the time stamp: 3:32. Chill'ens are long gone. Nyah nyah!

Though I *do* like that duct tape suggestion. Muah hah hah!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Supervision has it's benefits

Silly, silly me. I wasn't thinking like a classroom teacher when I did this. I was still in "music teacher" mode when I signed up for my four shifts of supervision duty.

Every morning and after school, teachers sign up to walk around the school grounds and just generally keep the peace durning the 15 minutes of "in and out" time at the beginning and end of the day. For the last three years, I've just picked a month - the earlier in the year the better - and signed up for every day that month. I get it over with, and because it's every day, I don't forget.

What I wasn't counting on this September when I signed up, though, was that I make myself available from 8:15 onwards for kids to come on for extra help if they need it. I'm trying to teach them to take responsibility for their own learning and to get help before an assignment is due. Sometimes I feel like I'm beating them over the head with this message.

"StudentX, your spelling assignment is now four days late. How come?"

"I don't get it."

"Welllll... I didn't see you in here before school for help. Or after school. How come?"

" ... ... ..."

"Ah ha. If you need help, you HAVE to ask me before it's due. I'm here every morning... yadda yadda yadda..."

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've had that conversation with kids. They're just now ALMOST starting to get it. Sometimes.

AND, now I've gone and signed up for stupid, stinkin' supervision ALL FREAKIN' NOVEMBER. In the morning. From 8:15 onwards.

Crappity crap CRAP.

On the plus side, on Wednesday, the day after my mini emotional breakdown, I was wandering around the school grounds and had no less than 6 kids come up to me and tell me they missed music / they missed me / they wished I was still their music teacher. Walking through the halls that day, four different kids - all the way from grade 1 to grade 7 - gave me hugs! AAWWWWW! It was awesome.

I really miss seeing (most of) the kids, and again, the timing couldn't have been better!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Is it a bad thing that I feel like my head is about to blow up? That I seem to be moving in slow motion? That I don't even seem to have the energy to lift up one chair, let alone the stacks of chairs I was trying to move as I was setting up for Alpha tonight? That I have been bumping into walls and door jams ALL DAY LONG???

Oh... and? This made me laugh like a maniac: "The depressing thing about tennis is no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall. I played a wall once. They're friggen relentless." (thanks Ashley!)

Still. I don't need to get more sleep. Noooo.....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


When it rains, it pours. And I'm not talking about the deluge we had here over the weekend and on Monday. I'm talking about how when God wants to get a message accross to me, he makes sure it gets through. Repeatedly. All in a very short period of time.

After last night's talk, I had (and still have) all kinds of thoughts swirling around about purpose, in both my job and my personal life. I've had a lot on my mind recently in both areas, and as if yesterday's talk wasn't enough, when I got home last night, I came accross a poem and a blog post that both comforted me and made me really sad. I guess they both kind of pointed out something that I know is true, but I haven't really accepted. I ended up having a really crappy night, though it was made so much better by the prayers of a trusted friend.

Today at lunchtime I was checking my email and saw I had one from my friend Colleen, who lives in Munich. She has been away for the last few weeks, and I didn't even know she was back. All the email was was a forwarded article from an online magazine. I read the article, and couldn't believe it. It related exactly to what I was going through last night. It was just what I needed to hear. It was so perfectly, perfectly, perfectly timed.

I believe that God tries to teach me things through all kinds of circumstances. Sometimes those lessons hurt, but God always just blows. me. away. by the wave of love that comes afterward. It's like he says to me, "Yes, I know this lesson is gonig to hurt, but I'm here. I've got you. I love you. You will be OK."

Even as I'm typing this, I'm realizing that all of this is relating back to a passage in the Bible that has had a lot of significance to me in the past (John 15), and has recently come up "randomly" (I don't believe for one second it was random) and struck me again. It talks about my job being to simply remain where I am, to stop striving, to let GOD do the work in me. It reminds me to rest, to stop trying to force my own way, to stop trying to figure things out on my own. It reminds me just to remain close to Jesus and let myself be loved into change.

I have heard so many songs
Listened to a thousand tongues
But there is one who sounds above them all
The Father's song, the Father's love
He's sung it over me and for
It's written on my heart

Heaven's perfect melody
The Creator's symphony
Now he's singing over me
The Father's love
Heven's perfect mystery
The King of Love has sent for me
And now he's singing ove me
The Father's love

from "The Father's Love" by Matt Redman

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fumbling towards purpose

Ugh. I feel like there is so much I want to digest, to think about, to work on in my life right now, but I have no time to do it.

I went to young adults at my church tonight for the first time in ages, and was challeneged by a few things the speaker said. Again, no time to get into it (I still have a socials test and a review assignment to make up tonight before bed - check the time! BAH!), but in a nutshell, I was reminded of the importance to live life on purpose. That's been a come and go theme in my life the last few years, but one that I want to be more come, less go. (I've blogged about it at least twice before: here and here)

It's so easy for me to get into a "survival mode" type pattern, paricularly when I'm really busy and/or mentally preoccupied, and I just go through the motions of the things I have to do. I want to have a goal in mind, a purpose by which I direct my life, and then have that purpose in front of me in everything I do. But sometimes it's hard to even verbalize it, let alone have everything I do reflect that goal.

Carving out some time to even think about that seems so hard right now. But I've often learned, usually the hard way, that the more I don't want to do something I know I need to do, the more I really need to do it. Does that even make sense?

In the style of Happy and Blue, today's question is: "Do you have a 'personal mission statement' of sorts? And if you do, what tricks do you use to keep in in mind, to direct what you do, as life rushes past you at the speed of light?"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Signed up!

I just got home from my last West Coast Swing dancing class. It has been an absolute blast. Dancing is never something I've done before, in part because I just never saw myself as someone who would be good at it (thankyouverymuch high school PE classes. Agk.) and partly because I've jsut never had/made the opportunity to do it. I wanted to do ballroom dancing in university, but I could never find anyone to go with me.

So long story short, I am now moderatley confident that I won't make a TOTAL fool of myself if I attempt to dance with another swing dancer. As long as they understand I'm a beginner and are nice to me! (I had a rather unfortunate incident with a much more advanced dancer a few weeks ago, but SHH, we won't mention that...) And of course, dancing with anyone at my own level is great!

Tonight was the last class of level one, and I was all sad, because I didn't think I was gonig to do level two untill mid to late January. But no! The three friends I've been going with and I are all signed up for the level two class that starts next week! Yipeee!

Bring on the whips*!

* It's one of the dance moves - get your mind out of the gutter! ;)

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I woke up this morning to the sound of the rain, which is pretty impressive, because I live in a ground floor suite. There's no rain on the roof here, just the pounding drops hitting the ground outside my window.

I love the sound of the rain. There's something soothing about it. I laid in bed for a while, just listening, before I got up to start my day.

My to do list today is long, too long to accomplish everything, but I switched on some music and got to it. I did the dishes, then called Rachelle and talked to her for a while about life in Iowa with two babies. I talked about crazy work and all the fun of the single life while she told me about her plans to meet up with two other mommies once a month for a day of cooking and a meal exchange. After we said goodbye, I got back to work, some of my favourite worship tunes playing on my DVD player. I tidyed up, washed the floor, put away some groceries. The bathroom is cleaned, and the piles of paper in the 'office' are going to be dealt with today, by hook or by crook.

I've got the door open, so I can hear the rain that continues to fall. The cool-ish November breeze brings in the smell of wet leaves and the tiniest hint of smoke from a neighbour's chimney. The occasional ding-ding-ding of my windchimes float in over the music.

As I drag my couch back into position, I can't help but think that I really wish there was someone else here right now. Not to help me move the couch - I can do that on my own. I can do most things on my own, actually. But I don't want to.

Today is just one of those days when I look ahead to another rainy Saturday some years from now. I'll wake up to the rain with my best friend beside me. My kids will jump into bed with me for a morning snuggle before we go downstairs for breakfast and some Saturday morning cartoons. There'll be a bigger mess to clean up, with less time to do it. Life will be busier, more complicated, and I'll be more tired. But there will be a richness in my life that I can only attempt to understand now.

There's a quiet beauty in a rainy domestic Saturday. I'm looking forward to having someone to share it with.

Joy in the simple things

There's nothing better than a baby's laugh! I saw this over at Troll Baby, and I had to post it. I've watched it twice so far, and it has made me smile so hard my cheeks hurt. I love how easily laughter comes to little ones. It really is infectious!
I hope you find joy in your day today!


Friday, November 03, 2006


Oh my goodness!!! With all that talk a few weeks ago about my very bestest friend in the whole wide world having her baby, one would think that I'd have remembered to post some pictures! Well, actually, I DID remember, but whenever I remembered Blogger was not letting me upload them. Arg.

Keiran will be three weeks old tomorrow, but these pictures are from the day he was born. Mattias is now a big brother! They're both SO cute! Congrats, Rachelle and Nathan, for about the bazillionth time!

ps. Yes, I've asked permission to post these photos!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


NaBlo....what? It's short for National Blog Posting Month. Kinda cheesy? Maybe, but oh so fun! The idea is that you post at least once a day every day in November. It's a challenge, of sorts, good for getting the creative juices flowing, they tell me. Either that or just an incentive to post mindless drivel. But hey, that wouldn't be too far off, anyway...

I figure I've been doing nearly a post a day for the last while now, so it might be fun to take on this challenge. Just for fun. Just to procrastinate learn to better express myself in written form. Heh.

So... I've been seeing lots of folks posting about signing up for NaBloPoMo, they're up for the challenge, yadda yadda yadda. OK, OK, I'm in! So off I went to sign up...

... but I missed the boat.

The list closed yesterday (naturally, as it was November 1). D'oh!

Well, who needs them, anyway? ;) I'm gonna be the rebel... go out and make it on my own! I am blogger hear me... type? (Leave me alone, it's late, and I just finished a nearly 5 hour marking marathon!)

So here ya go. This is me saying I'm gonna post every day for the month of November. Hopefully that'll make you want to keep coming back, not run away screaming! :D And lookie here, this post counts!

See ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The elusive "simple solution"

Man, I've got to post something to get that crazy crazy picture of me OFF the top of my blog!

So today I had an "ah ha!" moment with a few of my students...

I have a group of kiddoes who have various issues: one has realy low textual comprehension (as in, when he reads something, he doesn't usually get it) and REALLY low written output. If he hears something, however, he gets it, and really shines orally. (Still... his parents have refused testing for him, which would get him a designation and hence learning support. I just don't get it.) Another just has really low comprehension all round, and I'm constantly trying to figure out what to do with her, because, as terrible as it sounds, I really doubt she is capable of the type of work she brings back from home. Or at least, there's a huge discrepancy in what she does at school and what comes from home. My guess is that mom helps her heavily, which is ok, but I can't really assess what she knows! There are three others with similar issues - related to written output - in this little group of kids I'm particularly worried about.

I've been racking my brains trying to come up with what to do with these kids, especially in subjects like science, where I want to know that they know the info, but language gets in the way of that. So I've just started going to them and asking them verbally to give me the answers to the questions. I can tell if they've got it or not fairly quickly, and at least assess them on that, even if I have to note that they can't do the written part or that I can't mark anything that comes from home.

Sounds simple, eh? I don't know why I didn't think of that before. BUT, when the light went on today, it worked great! Of course, there are 5 kids in this situation, and it all has to be one on one, so where I'm going to find the time to do that, I'm not sure, but hey. It's a start.

It sure was a weight off my shoulders today, though, to find a solution to something I've been banging my head against the wall over for the last month. I did a little happy dance inside! We'll see how it works.

Actually, this whole afternoon was one of a very few times when I felt like everything was coming together. Kids were finishing up a science assignment then taking out their art project to work on, and I had a small group of students at the board giving them the math lesson they missed while out working with the resource teacher. The kids were working, I had just found my solution (I hope) to my assessment worries with my lowest students, and everything seemed to be humming along just tickety-boo.

It was a rare moment, so I enjoyed it!