Friday, December 29, 2006

New Years predictions...

I predict that at midnight on New Years eve...

Hillary will overenthusiastically hustle her guests out onto the street and shove various noisemakers in their hands yelling, "Come on! Come on! It's midnight! Make some noise!" at which point a few guests will half-heartedly take a few swacks at their respective noisemakers just to get Hillary off their back and then she will run around the block like a madwoman banging her drum/pot/shaker thingy, trying to evade the men in white suits who are coming to take her away, heehee hoohoo hawhaw.

It will be a sight not to be missed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


As in, it's dead.

Which is why my computer went to sleep and didn't wake up last Friday. Which is why it's in the shop and probably will be till this Friday or maybe even Saturday (what will I dooooooo???). Which is why I'm standing here in the library making other people think I'm crazy as I guffaw at emails sent to me (thanks a lot SARAH! hee hee!). Which is why I've come to the relaization that HOLY SMOKES, am I addicted to do I rely a LOT on my computer!

I have all these posts in my head that I haven't ben able to write... hanging paper snowflakes on the last day of school... Chrsitmas morning stories... a fun surprise announcemnt... just general shenanigans... but nooo... time's tick tick ticking away here at ye ol public library and I've gotta go!

Hopefully I'll be back soon with a bright shiny new motherboard and a (finally!) properly working computer. Woohoo!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world i
n sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn...

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night, oh night divine

May this season bring you peace and rest and many blessings.
Have a wonderful Christmas!

The calm after the storm

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright...

Ah, yesterday. Yesterday was... interesting. BUT, I got all my shopping done in just over 5 hours, and had no trouble at all, even with finding parking spaces at the two malls I had to hit. Yay! I got my computer into the shop, and my car is now parked safely under my parent's carport. We're going to bucket out the water and run a heater in it for a day or two till it's all dry and toasty. When things open up after Christmas, I'll get it fixed, asap. Everything is wrapped, I've finished packing up for a few days at my parents, and I've made it to their house through the rain and the wind and the somewhat insane Christmas Eve traffic. I'm cozy, I'm fed, and I have nothing left to do but enjoy.

I can now relax. Christmas is here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Something must be wrong with me...

Any normal person would be FREAKING out right now. Not me. I really should be...

Saturday morning, two days before Christmas. I have one tiny part of one gift bought. Nothing else. Nada.

My trunk has been leaking, and it's wet back there. I learned yesterday that it's wetter than I thought. There are four inches of water sloshing around underneath the floor of the trunk where the spare tire sits. And no plug I can pull to drain it.

My computer has been kinda acting up lately. It's really slow. And sometimes it just shuts off, just for fun and excitement. Yesterday when I got home from work it didn't turn on at all. I tried a number of things, once it began to boot, then it froze. No luck. My friend Brad, who is my hero for all things computer related, came over and took a look. Even HE couln'dt make it work. So today I took it in to a repair shop, desperately hoping it's not a hard drive problem cause I haven't backed anythign up for months. (Don't chide me! I feel bad enough!!)

Why am I so calm? I don't think it has anything to do with being patient, etc etc etc. I think it's more that I'm so far the past of stressed out and crazy that my eyes have glazed over and I'm just floating along throughout my day laughing hilariously at nothing in particular, and have lost all touch with reality.

I sense an eye twitch coming on...

Ha ha... ha..... hahahahahahaaahahaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Front page, baby!

So, the Globe and Mail? One of Canada's nation-wide newspapers? Anyone see the cover today? There's a picture of all the windstorm damage in Stanley Park with a lone city worker right in the center? That's my brother!!!!! Sah-weet! (Click for a bigger view)

The story (and photo credit) come from here.

(Ok, ok, I realize it's not nearly exciting to you who don't know him, but I think it's pretty cool that my brother's the only person pictured on the front page of a major national newspaper. Super cool!)

Updated: You know what? Just reading that article and seeing the various pictures of Stanley Park and all the damage makes me so, so sad. It's unbelievable the damage that those winds caused, really. The park will never be the same with some of those hubdreds-of-years-old trees just snapped off like toothpicks...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On the power of a little one

It was one of those evenings - surrounded by people, but feeling a little bit lonely and a little bit sad. In the midst of that, my favourite three year old walked up to me and crawled up into my lap. He just snuggled there for a bit, all curled up, then looked up at me and asked, "Will you sing Jingle Bells wif me?"

Just his little kid voice and me, while conversations continued all around us: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way...

It was just what my heart needed: a little snuggle, a little song, a little heart hug from a little red-headed boy.

Sometimes it's those little things that make all the difference.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bowing out for a bit

Well, it would seem I'm doing the cliche'd blogger thing and taking a break for a while. I don't know for how long (though really, let's be serious, it probably won't be very long. I have FAR to much to say to stay away!).

I have lots or marking to catch up on, all my Christmas shopping to do still (eep!) and some thoughts I need to sort out in my head, that I can't/won't hash out here. I'm ok, just need some time.

So for now, I'll leave you with a few things to enjoy/check out...

One, some fun crazy pictures from the gingerbread party last weekend. Be sure to check out the redneck gingerbread trailer!

Two, the video below, sent to me by a friend last week. Save Santa! It's funny (in a warped kind of way, yay), seasonal, and carries an important message. In related news, this movie is on my list of films to see over the Christmas break.

Three, this post, if you haven't read it already. It's ended up being one of my favourites in a while.

Four, leave me a comment here with a favourite Christmas memory or tradition (here's one of mine)! I'd love to hear your stories! (Ok, so that one's for ME to enjoy!)

Oh yeah, and for those of you who have asked, no, Eric hasn't written me. Too bad. I thought it would be fun to get in touch again, even just over email. Kind of like a mini grade 7 reunion of sorts, that's all.

(oh man, I'm such a teacher. I just made preparations for the time I'm going to be away!!!)

Friday, December 15, 2006


Ok, really? The weather gurus who have been predicting that this will be a warm, dry winter? I don't believe them ONE. BIT.

First, in early November, it was a huge rain storm that caused flooding and mudslides and an 11 day boil-water advisory. Our water looked like sludge.

Then, in mid November, still during the boil water advisory, there was a huge (for Vancouver, anyway) snowstorm and a week of sub-zero temperatures, causing all kinds of damage to trees, power lines, etc.

Last night was a major, major windstorm, the largest of three separate storms this week alone. There were hurricane-force winds at times, anywhere from 90-157km/hr. Huge trees have been blown over, slicing and stabbing through houses and vehicles. Part of the roof of a school downtown was blown off, causing major damage and flooding. And over 200,000 people in greater Vancouver are without power. Again. I watched some of the footage on the news, and it's mind-boggling.

And now?? It's snowing again!!!


Still... they say all this worry about climate change is just a myth...

Thursday, December 14, 2006


You know, I really did feel sorry for the poor guy... or at least I would have, if I wasn't laughing so hard!

Three students - two girls and a boy - were sitting at a table just in front of my desk, working on various assignments this afternoon. I was marking (grading!) math tests. I could hear the murmur of conversation, but wasn't really listening to what was being said. But all of a sudden my ears tuned in to this conversation:

Girl 1 and Girl 2: [incomprehensible chatter]
Boy: What are you talking about? Are you speaking another lanuage?
Girl 1: We're talking girl language.
Boy: It makes no sense!
Girl 2: It's perfect!
Boy: Oh brother.
Me (laughing): Oh, J, you'd better get used to that. You're going to be confused by girl language for many many years to come.
Boy: [sighs and slumps down in his seat.]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tree-Trimming Traditions

Every year everyone in my family clears an evening in their schedule and we all go to mom and dad's house to decorate the family Christmas tree. Ours is NOT a "Martha Stewart" tree. It's a real live, sap-oozing, needle-dropping, scent-giving showcase of our family history. Every ornament on our tree has a story behind it: this one was made by Great-Grandma Friesen. She knitted one for each of us when she was nearly blind... Do you remeber making this one? We had all the neighbourhood kids over and we baked and painted dough ornaments for hours! ... These baubles were from the first Christmas we were married - they've been on our tree for thirty-three years... You made that one in kindergarten with Grandpa at a special evening Christmas craft night... That one was given to you by that little old lady who always sat behind us at church. She loved you kids so much! ... and on and on the stories go. Decorating the tree is a little time warp into our family's past. It's also a noisy, hilarious, crowded (there's always friends or language students or boyfriends/girlfriends, or some combination of those added to the mix), treat-filled evening. Did I mention it was noisy?

Dad always gets the tree set up before dinner. Because our Christmas tree stand is now ROUNDED on the bottom (DAD! Just get a new one!!!), the tree has to be secured to the wall/window ledges with string. I'm pretty sure the string is the only thing holding it up this year. "Is it straight?" Nope, a little to the left. "Umf! Is it straight?" Not quite. "Now?" Well now it's off center. "Yeah, but is it straight?" ...

This continues for who knows how long, then it's time for the lights. They get strewn all the way down the hallway and dad cirlces them around the tree while one of us feeds them to him. Sometimes things get a little tangled up...

Our family has a two set-in-stone traditions when it comes to our Christmas tree. The first one is the "squint test." Nobody wants a Christmas tree with big dark spots on it... the lights have to be evenly distributed. When dad's about halfway through the lights, it's time to do the "squint test." One (or more!) of us stand in the hallway and scrunch up our eyes to blur the lights. It's much easier to spot light-deficient places on the tree that way! Of course, if someone happens to be standing there with a camera, you end up with a picture of yourself that looks like this. Cuuute. Frankly, I much prefer this one.

The second tradition started back in 1993. My brother was 10 when he wrote this note, and every year when we put away the decorations, it gets tucked carefully back into the box. I'm going to let the note tell the story for me on this one. (Click on the picture if you need a larger view.)

After all the decorating was done this year, it was my brother's turn (according to the note!) to put the angel on the tree. It really doesn't matter to us now, but mom still insists we follow the order. It's fun!

There's the fam! The bestest in the whole wide world! Aaaawww!

Monday, December 11, 2006

NO WAY!!!!

Oh the powers of Google...

Anyone remember this little story about my first date? Well. Guess who just found my site??? I kid you not. I haven't seen him in 14 years. (Am I really old enough for that to even be possible?)

I thought for a moment it might just be someone playing a trick on me, you know, anonymous commenter makes up funny comment, but then I realized that he left a detail about the date that I hadn't mentionned. Aaah! That is SO cool.

Eric, if you read this again, shoot me an email - use the link over on the sidebar there. Tell me what colour your house was so I know it's actually you. I would love to find out what you're up to these days, and hear how your memories of that night were so different!

HaHA! Wow.

Um, sorry I called you a jerk... I guess I was, too, cause I laughed...

That's how the light gets in

Look around you this season. Light is everywhere. From the strings of red, blue, yellow and green hung from the eaves and draped over railings and hedges to the flicker of the candles that fill a room with the soft light so characteristic of this time of year. In these months when the days are shortest, still we find ways of filling our lives with light.

Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness...

And yet, this can also be a dark season. There are parts of us that are broken, longing, hurt. I see a little of that in my own heart at times. And for others, there may be great pain this season. There may be joy, yes, but mixed with the sadness of a life not quite as they hoped it would be. Regret. Loss. Unfulfilled hope. Whatever it is, we don't feel quite whole. There are cracks in our lives, in our hearts.

Do not be afraid, do not be afraid
..........Love has found its way to you, do not be afraid...

One of the things I love about this time of year is that, if I actually take the time to think about the baby boy born on Christmas eve, I am reminded again of new hope, new life, new promise. It's fitting, somehow, that Christmas is at the end of the year. Whatever the year has brought us - the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly - it all gets wrapped up in one last hurrah of boisterous parties, holiday food, generosity and goodwill, and, if we're wise, quiet reflection. It's a time to look back, to look forward... to look up. The baby, from cradle to cross, at the center of it all.

Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free
..........From our sins and fears release us, let us find our rest in thee

It's in the times of feeling that I'm so imperfect, have made so many mistakes, have so many cracks in who I want to be, that I am reminded that that's just how God wants me to come to him this Christmas. I don't have to be all polished and perfect, all my issues dealt with, all my problems solved. Instead, I can come in rough and dishelveled, goof-ups and muddy feet from the year that has almost passed in plain view, and kneel down beside the manger. Cracks and all, I offer what little I have to give to the baby lying there.

Ring the bells that still can ring
..........Forget your perfect offering
....................There is a crack, a crack in everything
..............................But that's how the Light gets in.

Light of the World... from Here I Am To Worship by Tim Hughes
Do not be afraid... from Do Not Be Afraid by Carolyn Arends [listen]
Come thou long expected Jesus... from the hymn of the same name
Ring the bells... from Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Get me a dentist, STAT!

Stepping into my house after church today, my nose was greeted with the leftovers of last night's party. Cinnamon, cloves, gingerbread... but the most overwhelming aroma was one that threatened to rush in and pound out my teeth one by one. My house smells like SUGAR. I kid you not.

Chocolate. Jube jubes. Licorice. Smarites. Gummy bears. Ribbon Candy. Nerds. M&Ms. Cherry Blasters. Reces Pieces. Bubble Tape. Rosebuds. Marshmallows. Sour kids. Sprinkles. And gobs and gobs of royal icing.

Really, I could get another sugar high just from breathing right now.

Oh yes. It was a gingerbread extravaganza. I learned many things last night. Number one, when you ask people to bring a small amount of candy, hooboy, do they deliver. Number two, there is no end to the creativity of my friends. The redneck gingerbread trailer with pink bubble tape door is witness to that. Number three, when there's a crowd to do it, putting up all my Christmas decorations takes approximately 3.7 seconds. And, speaking of crowds, number four, I learned that I really can fit 18 people in my little suite (well, "fit" might not be the best word, but they were in here). Yessss!

Oh man, my head still hurts from the sugar rush. And I still have stacks of gingerbgread left over, not to mention the MASSIVE bag of leftover candy. Perhaps I'll send my students home with little (ok, huge) goody bags. On the last day of school, of course, when I don't have to see them again for two weeks. ;-)

Pictures to come...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Busy bee

Wow. I ACTUALLY didn't post yesterday. Shocker!!!

Man, Wednesday was a doozy. I'm still feeling overwhelmed, but not nearly as dispairing as I was. I had had a ROUGH day with my kids, and I was ready to THROTTLE them*. Plus, my voice was serverely giving out on me. I've had no voice since Tuesday. I sound like a wheezing moose. It's really cute. *rolls eyes* Even my students have been asking me, "Ms Hillary, why are you here?"

ALTHOUGH.... super duper warm fuzzy moment... every moring since Tuesday, one of the goofball boys in my class has been in early, and has greeted me with,"Good morning, Ms Hillary! Are you feeling better today?" Aw! (I've been playing the "I have no voice and I reeeallly can't talk over you" card all week. It's worked for the most part.) Yesterday he asked me, "Why are you even here? You should stay home!" I explained to him that I had to be here this week for report cards, yadda yadda yadda. Then today as we were walking down to the library, he told me, "You know what? You should stay home on Monday. Report cards are done now, so you don't have to come. And maybe Tuesday, too!"

"Are you trying to get rid of me????" I teased. "You just don't want me around! You're gonna make me cryyyy!"

"Ha ha! No! You just need to get some rest so you get better."

Awwwww! From a 10 year old boy! What a sweetie!

And now? I'm cleaning my house and baking gingerbread like a madwoman. Woohoo! Yay for Christmas time!

* Turns out is was a full moon on Wednesday. Aaaaahhhh... THAT explains it. Seriously, the kids were NUTTY. N-U-T-T-Y. I gave up 45 minutes before the end of the day, cancelled the last lesson I had planned, and took them down to the gym to join in the carolling winter sing-a-long. [boo hiss] Good thing that was happening, or I do believe my kids would have seen me open up one serious can of whoop-a$$. Big time.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I'm tired

... of harping at my kids to STOP. TALKING. during lessons
... of feeling like I don't know what I'm doing
... of being so far behind on, well, everything, that I feel like I can never catch up
... of coughing. My stomach and back muscles have hurt from it for days now
... of never seeming to get enough sleep
... of too many thoughts - questions I just don't have answers for
... of not having enough energy when I get home to keep up with housework
... of feeling like I can't devote the time to my friendships that I want to because I've always got work stuff on or have no energy to do anything
... of feeling like I'm so far off of where I want to be with God
... of feeling like I'm whining. I guess this post isn't helping

You know, I have such a good life. I'm so grateful for my family, my job, my friends, my church... and of course, for God. But you know, sometimes all the dust that is kicked up from the whirlwind that is my life right now just gets in the way and blocks my view of what's important. I get so busy dealing with the 'dust' and I'm sick of it. I feel like all I deal with are the little day to day crises - classroom management and discipline, marking, commitments - and I am neglecting the bigger things that are so much more important to me - relationships, faith, building my students up... It's like all those little things are jsut sapping me of any energy to devote to what's really so much closer to my heart. It makes me sad, and uncomfortable with myself. And just plain tired.

I'm hesitating even pressing the "publish" button on this one. Just know that this is a post that reflects a moment in time. Tomorrow is a new day, and I know I've got a break coming. It's a few weeks away yet, but it's coming. Just right now I'm feeling so overwhelmed. Being sick doesn't help. I just want a day in my PJs to curl up and read a book all day, sipping on some homemade chicken noodle soup. No commitments, no "I should do's, I could do's, I ought to do's." Rest.

I might get to it next week.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You Might be in Education if

OK, I don't usually post these, but I had to put this one up. TOO FUNNY.

1. You believe the staff room should be equipped with a Vallium salt lick. YES! YES!
2. You find humor in other people's stupidity.
3. You want to slap the next person who says, "Must be nice to work 8-3 and
have your summers free." Any takers?
4. You believe chocolate is a food group. Um, duh.
5. You can tell if it's a full moon without ever looking outside. No, really. It's true.
6. You believe "shallow gene pool" should have its own box on the report
card. Buah hahaha!!!
7. You believe the unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says, "Boy,
the kids are sure mellow today."
8. When out in public, you feel the urge to snap your fingers at a child. Yes, and I've even once or twice unintentionnally used my 'teacher voice' on a friend. Whoops.
9. You have no time for a life from September through June. Why do you think I go nuts in July and August?!?! :)
10. Putting all "A's on a report card would make your life SO much easier. If only...
11. When you mention "vegetables," you are not talking about a food group.
12. You believe in the aerial spraying of Prozac. hahaha!!!
13. You encourage a parent to check into home schooling.
14. You believe no one should be permitted to reproduce without having taught
in a middle school for at least five years.
15. You can't have children because there isn't any name you can hear that
wouldn't elevate your blood pressure. There are already a few names that are out
16. You think caffeine should be available to staff in IV form.
17. Meeting a child's parents instantly answers the question, "Why is this
kid like that?" That apple sure doesn't fall far from the tree, I tell ya
18. Your personal life comes to a screeching halt at report card time. Yaaay! I'm not the only one! (I celebrated yesterday with some time out with friends and a choclate martini! Booyeah!)

Monday, December 04, 2006


Here I am in the computer lab at school. It's 5:08pm 6:02pm, and I just clicked print on my report cards finished editing my completed report cards. HO-LEEE, this was the most awful, long, dragged out, emotional-basket-case causing project I have EVER done. I have been such a whiner the last few weeks (my apologies to those of you - particularly my 'friends in real life' - who have gotten sick of hearing about it! Thanks for not abandonning me!), but really... these suckers were TOUGH.

On the bright side, I now have a whooole new way of approaching my reports, and hence my evaluation, and hence my teaching. I'll have to write about it later, cause I've got to get OUTTA here! Maybe go do a little happy dance (oh who am I kidding, a big, leaping, twirling, make-the-whole-world-think-you're-nuts kind of happy dance).

Gotta love the trial and error...ness of the first year of teaching!

*bangs head on desk repeatedly*

* Well, at least, it's over till my principal reads them and no doubt has scores of corrections for me. Then I correct them, reprint them, coallate them with all the other LAC reports, strings reports, band reports, etc and stuff the envolopes. But those babies go home Friday, so then I'll be free at last, free at last, hallelujah, free at last!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I KNEW it!

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.

You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

I didn't rig the quiz, I swear!

Oh man, I've been having Paris reminiscences (it's a word!) like crazy lately. I've been daydreaming about going there for a week over Spring Break (right, with all that moolah I've got stashed away underneath my mattress!). I've been looking longingly through my photos from being in Paris this summer. I've been talking to people who have been there. And now I'm reading the DaVinci Code (yes, a little behind the times, I know), and I can actually picture all the places they're talking about.

Sigh. I want to go baaaaack!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hello, my name is "Heavily Medicated"


I was asleep by 7:30 last night. What a party animal. This morning? I feel like lead. Achy. Cough-a-licious. Why am I even up? I'm going back to bed. You and you are my heroes. Really. I lurve you guys...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Don't mind me, I'm just sprucing things up around here...

World AIDS Day

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day. It's a day to stop and educate ourselves a little bit about the crisis that this disease is causing both accross the seas and here at home. I would ask you to at least go read a little bit about this disease, and the people it's affecting. Let the statistics sink in a little bit. Put some faces to the numbers. Perhaps even let it move you to action.

I know that there are tons and tons of different agencies out there that we could support. I'm going to highlight one, because it's the one that is closest to me. A good friend of mine named John Andru took some time a few years ago to educate himself on the AIDS crisis worldwide, and he decided that he couldn't just sit back and do nothing. So he began a campaign called One Day For Aids. Essentially, he wants to raise awareness and spur people on to take a little bit of action to fight this disease, educate others, and help prevent it's spread.

It's a simple idea: the challenge is to give one day's pay or one day's time towards the cause of AIDS relief. Here's a blurb from his website that will help explain things a little further:

One Day For AIDS (ODFA) is a challenge to YOU to give ONE DAY to HIV/AIDS relief worldwide. Would you consider giving one day's pay, or half a day's pay, or one hour's pay to AIDS relief through one of three partner organizations [Doctors Without Borders, Mennonite Central Committee, or Serving in Mission]? Or would you consider giving one day's time by raising awareness, volunteering to care for people living with HIV/AIDS, or becoming an advocate? ...

Why One Day For AIDS?
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the statistics. What is another million people infected with HIV/AIDS when there are already over forty million people? Instead of shrugging it off, One Day For AIDS is a personal invitation to step up and make a difference. It's a simple concept. Could you give ONE DAY to give someone living with HIV/AIDS hope?

ODFA is about turning ordinary people into agents of positive change for this world and giving hope to people who need it most.

Go check out the One Day For AIDS website, or the World AIDS Day site. Or rent the documentary Dear Francis, a film about a team of university students who go to Swaziland, the world's most HIV infected nation, where they estiomate that 40% - fourty percent! - of the adult population infected with HIV/AIDS. See the studetn's reactions as they meet people, deal with the questions Swazi students ask them, and see the glimmer of hope that education is bringing to that nation. I've seen the film once, and it is incredible. It really brought this home to me.

I'm not writing this because I'm a high and mightily committed advocate for fighting AIDS. In fact, to be honest, I don't really think about it much at all. BUT, I can take some time to learn some more, to care some more, to help some more. Something is better than nothing.

I promised my friend John that I would take action today, and support One Day For AIDS/World AIDS Day. Part of that promise involves spreading the word. Would you take some time today or over the next few days to do something, too?

* One Day For AIDS * World AIDS Day * Dear Francis