Friday, June 29, 2007

That's when the heavens opened up and the angels sang a hallelujah chorus

How quickly things change. I don't have to teach grade two French Immersion next year!!!!!!! More happy dances for Hillary!!!

More to come....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Never to be the same again

Today was the last day of scool.

After the flurry of handing out report cards and gathering up all remaining belongings, my kids were all lined up at the door. Their hands full, chattering excitedly, they counted the few remaining moments before the bell rang, signalling their long-awaited release to freedom.

As the bell rang, cheers echoed down the hallway. "I love hugs!" I told them. "If anyone wants a hug, I'll be happy to give them!"

"Bye Miss Hillary!" "Thanks for teaching us!" "Have a good summer!" "See you next year!" "We'll come and visit you in your new classroom!" "I'll miss you!"

For maybe two minutes, my world was a flurry of goodbyes, well wishes, hugs, and thank yous. I waved at them as they made their way down the stairs and outside, and after the last student disappeared from my view, I turned around and looked back into my classroom.

The bulletin boards are down, the desks are empty, and the cloakroom is bare - save a few forgotten items: an umbrella, an unclaimed hood from a winter jacket, the odd pencil and scrap of paper. The recycle bins are overflowing with paper - work the kids just couldn't wait to forget - and my desk is a disaster - all part of the packing up process. Remnants from our year end party are scattered everywhere, despite my best efforts at getting everything in the garbage bags. But the biggest thing I notice is that the room is quiet. It is every day around this time, but this time it's a different kind of quiet... my kidlets aren't coming back.

Just like that - *poof!* - they're gone.

That was when the tears came.

It's over. It's time to let them go. My kidlets have definitely left their mark on me, and I'm gonna miss them.

One girl who I've secretly nicknamed "the little ray of sunshine" came back up the stairs as I was trying to compose myself. "Miss Hillary, I forgot to give you this!" She had a flowering plant for me.

"Thank you for teaching me!"
"You're welcome sweetie! It was my pleasure!" I sheepshly grinned and pointed to my face. "Ha! Look at me! I'm gonna miss you guys!"
Seeing my tears, she came over and gave me a great big hug.

These kids, I tell you. They get me every. single. time.

Not that I'm counting or anything... (new posts below - scroll down!)

I totally yoinked this ticker idea from Leespea. It seemed fitting.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Speaking of Duct Tape...

Not only is the stuff good for feet, apparently you can make prom outfits with it, too. Check it out - there's a contest going on, and you can vote for the best outfit. The top ten finalists are up, in outfits and accessories made entirely from duct tape. My guess is it would be awfully HOT in those geddups! Amy from Eliza Jane is backing #3881 (well, her sister is, anyway! ;) ). Check 'em out, and prepare to be amazed. The things people come up with...

Boot Camp Day One

I survived!

Hehe. Well, today was just an evaluation day, mostly. We did measurements (*shiver*) and fitness testing - how many push ups in a minute, how many sit ups, how long can you hold a plank position, a timed 1km run, etc. - then we did an upper body workout. Ho-lee. My arms are like jello. Don't ask me to lift anything. Like, at all. Not even a pencil. Owchie. Oh man, I'm such a wuss.

BUT! That's why I'm there! I got to school super early (boot camp is only about 5 blocks from work), had a quick breaky, and now have almost an hour to get stuff done in my classroom. Contrast that to last week when I was arriving five minutes before the bell. IF that.

Woohoo! I feel great! Er, we'll see how I feel after Friday. THAT might be a wee bit different!

And Sarah, camping stories and pictures will be forthcoming! Probably not till tomorrow. Suffice it to say, it was AWESOME.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Quick but oh so sincere

Oh MAN! I've been so busy that I haven't even had time to throw a big "WOOHOO" party on my blog. And there's a few good reasons for a WOOHOO party. I'm celebrating in my heart!

Numero uno: I'm finally finished the beasts that are my report cards. THAT deserves the biggest WOOHOO of them all. 6 teaching days till summer! WOO!! HOO!!

#2 - It's officially summer! Well, er, that was yesterday. I'm behind. Oh well.

Reason three: on Wednesday I got re-connected with an old friend, and met a super cool new one! :) More to come on that later. You know, when I have time.

partie quatre: I'm going camping this weekend for one of my best friend's staggettes! Yaaaay! And I just got new camping pots (which are better quality than my actual kitchen pots. I wish I was kidding.) The one thing that might take this off the woohoo list? It's supposed to rain all weekend! Eek!

Gotta go, I haven't even packed yet! YIKERS!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A little bit glamour, a little bit Red Green

Last weekend I bought dancing shoes. I figured that I've been dancing now for nearly 10 months, it's probably about time I bought proper shoes. I had done a little bit of looking around, and knew what I wanted: strappy, black, with a low-ish chunky heel. The heels were critical. I can't even stand in high heels, let alone walk, let alone dance! I kinda like my ankles. I prefer not to break them.

I found a store in town that had what I was looking for, and so when the right size came in, I scooped them up.

As soon as I got them home, I put them on. "Ooooh! Preeetty!" Not one to have really had strappy fancy shoes before (what is wrong with me?) I don't think I'd ever seen my feet look so pretty! *giggle*

It was perfect timing, as I was going to a dance on Saturday AND had my lesson and dance on Sunday. Sah-weet!

Off I went to the dance, a little wary of blisters, but I had worn them around the house during the day, and they felt great. And they were great. OH what a difference suede-bottomed shoes make to spinning. I could twirl and twirl and twirl! And I could slide! One of my favourite people to dance with, Chris, and I did a bunch of that, it was SO much fun! Side by side, arms around each other's shoulders, we'd step, step, run-run sssllliiiide, one foot out in front of the other, both of us totally laughing and having a ball. I mean, uhm, looking like serious professional dancers. Yeah.

That is, until about halfway through the evening, when that pain on my heels became unbearable. I was dancing with another friend - Dancin' Dave - and with the first step, I was wincing. He asked what was wrong, and I told him I had brutal blisters forming on my feet. He whisked me over to his magical dancing bag which he keeps stocked with protein shakes, bandaids, and a plethora of other random emergency supplies. "Yeah, I just have the small bag tonight," he told me as I marveled at the fact that he had come so well prepared. "In my other bag I've usually got a sewing kit and a few extra women's heels and tools to fix them, too." Dancin' Dave is a miracle man!

So, my bandaided feet all set and ready to go, I kept on dancing. And dancing. And dancing. But bandaids were just not gonna cut it. My shoes decided to munch up my feet pretty good that night. Munch munch munch! I'll spare you pictures of the holes they wore in the backs of my heels and across my toes. It's not pretty. And it hurt like FIRE.

I had to wear capri pants so the hem of my pants didn't touch the open blisters - like FIRE! FIRE, I tell you!!! - and I didn't wear closed-heeled shoes for a full week afterwards.

Tonight is my dancing lesson, and I need to be prepared. So off I went to London Drugs to pick up round two of foot care (round one were the bandaids and blister pads I tried for last Sunday's class that all just rolled off and caused even more pain on my mangled feet. I gave up on the dancing shoes half way through the lesson.). Round two - pad the shoes, not the heels. I bought these sticky foamy pad thingies that glue in to the back of the heels and supposedly keep your feet from slipping and prevent (more) blisters, and little gel strips that glue onto the underside of the straps. I have so much gunk glued into my shoes right now it's not even funny.

Why all the effort, you ask? Cause the shoes are PRETTY and they help me SPIN and darnit, I WANT PRETTY FEET when I'm dancing! (That, and the shoes were NOT cheap and are not returnable.)

There's the glamour. Black strappy shoes, red painted toes, spinning girl out on the dance floor. But where does the Red Green come in, you ask.

For those of you not familiar with Red Green, he's Canada's favourite handyman. (Click the link. It's great!) Some of his favourite sayings? "If the women don't find ya handsome, they should at least find ya handy." And, "If it ain't broke, fix it till it is!" Those of you who know Red Green know that he has a "secret weapon:" Duct tape!

And hoo boy, is that stuff good for everything. Including blistered feet. Blister pads roll off? No problem! Sick 'em on then cover 'em up with duct tape! Works like a charm. No way no how that duct tape is gonna slide off. Dancing tonight? No problem! I'm SET!

Update! (cause ya know... you really wanna hear MORE about my feet...) Holy smokes! Even the duct tape slid off eventually. But I could replace it and it lasted me another 4 or 5 dances. Score! I have small blisters accross my toes again (the gel bits under the straps rolled off as I was putting my shoes ON. Don't waste your money) but those are bearable. My heels are a little sore, but good. Yay!
OH! How I love dancing!


Oh WHAT have I DONE???

It was early this morning, I was still foggy with an ever-growing lack of sleep. I've been himming and hawing for two weeks about this, and so I did what I seem to always do in situations like this: think to myself, "Oh what the heck? GO FOR IT!"

I just enlisted for Boot Camp. Five days a week of intensive cardio/core strengthening/aerobics. At SIX. A. M. For four weeks. It starts June 25.

I. Am. Going. To. Die.

It's been nice knowing y'all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Late afternoon daydreams

It's that time of the day when shadows grow long and the light turns golden. I'm sitting here in my classroom long after everyone has gone home, only the sounds of the custodians - garbages scraping, vacuums whining - and a radio playing somewhere down the hall - music indistinct but still audible, echoing down the large empty corridor - to keep me company. I've been working on marking and reports for hours now, and I've let my mind wander...

I find myself looking out the tall, paned windows, a blue sky and evening light reflected off rustling leaves my only view. That, and a large fly who keeps trying to escape, crashing head first into the window over and over. Funny, I seem to be able to relate.

Every so often I see a plane flying by, climbing, climbing, into the blue, it's body gleaming in the sun. I imagine it full of passengers, bound for... where? Hawaii? London? Taiwan? Oh how I wish I could be on one of those planes, taking off for some unknown adventure in a faraway land.

My papers are spread out all around me - rows and rows of grades, percentages, evaluations. Marked work and piles left to be marked. My giant mug of green tea - is that my third, now? - needs to be refilled. I'm counting on the jolt it gives me to keep me awake.

I can't help but marvel that in two weeks this room will be empty. Not just of the kids, but of any trace of me, too. I change rooms along with the change of jobs next year. Funny how much this room has started to feel like home (perhaps cause of all the extra time I've spent here this year? Sometimes I've wondered if it would have just been better to have brought in a cot!) But of course, it's because of the kids.

Right now, I'm tired and stressed out, and they definitely have moments when they're driving me nuts, but I had a first taste of goodbyes today when one student left for Mexico. I helped him clear out his desk in the morning, and in the flurry of the day, kinda forgot that he was leaving. It wasn't until shortly before I dismissed them that I remembered. He was already at my side.

"Bye, Miss Hillary. Thank you for being my teacher this year!"

Oh my goodness! I wasn't prepared for this. What do I say? I wanted to say so much - encouraging words to send him off, a final word of wisdom to impart (ha!)... As he walked out the door after my bumbled goodbye and good wished for a wonderful summer, it really hit me that I have to say goodbye to these little monsters in two weeks. Let them go. This is my first class - they're special. I can only imagine what that last day will be like. I highly doubt I'll make it through with dry eyes.....

That fly is back. Thunk... Thunk... Thunk... He's not gonna get out of here by flying into that window any more than I'm gonna get done by continuing to daydream. Off I go to get another cup of tea and get back to work.

Or maybe I'll just sit and stare out the window some more. After all, it's a classroom in the summertime. That's what the windows are there for.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Yes, I KNOW how lame this makes me

After I got home from work yesterday (past 8pm - MAN, I can't wait till report cards are done!!!), I checked my crackbook facebook account. Oh, yay! A new friend request. Who could it be, who could it be??? It's been so fun catching up with all kinds of people that I haven't seen in ages, so I was looking forward to the surprise.

And surprise is was!

Tessa Cunningham?!?! Requests to be friends with ME???

OK, yeah, yeah, so most likely none of you know who Tessa Cunningham is, so let me enlighten you. She and her... husband? partner? man-dude? live in Vancouver and are Canadian West Coast Swing champions. She's one of the biggest wigs in the Canadian swing dance scene. HO-LEE!

Now I KNOW that this was a generic add, as I had just joined a west coast swing group and I've never actually met her, but it still was totally fun. I mean, er, clearly my dancing reputation has travelled all the way to the Canadian champs. Yeah, that's it... HA!

Tessa and her partner, Myles Munroe, are around at swing events all the time and are really down to earth people, I'm told, so I'm looking forward to meeting them one day. For now I can pretend that I really DO know them.

She's on my facebook, I mean, come ON! ;)

See Myles and Tessa in action here and here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ten's the portion!

Almonds are a healthy snack. But not too many. I hear that 10 are equal to about the number of calories that make up a proper serving size. (I learned that fact after woofing down about 30!)

I have gleaned all kinds of wisdom from the staff at my school about nutrition (erg, not that it shows...). They're the healthiest bunch I've ever seen. And no, I'm not mocking it (contrary to the teasing I get in the staffroom about my blog and the food rants I've posted previously! *grin*) It's a good thing! I've become aware of all kinds of healthy tips and tricks to eating better, and have made (and continue to make) changes in the way I eat because of it.

...saith the girl who just had crackers with either peanut butter or cheese on them for an after school snack. BUT! It was organic peanut butter, low-fat cheese, and whole grain, sodium-reduced, low-fat crackers. Um, at least I'm trying?

All this to say that I really need to kick-start myself into eating better. And I'm thoroughly disgusted with the fact that I haven't even been on one hike yet this season! Wandering in Lynn Canyon park, while fun, doesn't count as a hike.

One of the teachers at my school is in her second round of boot camp. You know, that five day a week crazy insane cardio/calisthenics/core strength/aerobic/toning exercise program that has become so popular (at least in this neck of the woods)? I have to laugh at their slogan - "We kick butt - YOURS!" I first learned she was doing it when she was practically limping around cause she was so sore from her first week. Hats off to her! She goes EVERY DAY, rain or shine, and works her butt off! "Why? WHY do people PAY for this torture?" I ask myself.

But then I get to thinking...

Hmmm... that would be such a good way to kick start myself into a better activity routine. But really? I don't want to commit myself to EVERY evening. I have other things I like to do, especially as summertime is fast approaching. Sooo...

They have a 6am option. I'll be teaching summer school, so I'll have to be up anyway. But seriously. SIX A-M??? Could I really do this? Am I REALLY that crazy? Maybe? It's time to make some lasting changes here. Perhaps boot camp is the way to get things going...

But DARNIT! I'm still gonna eat more than ten almonds!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hillary is...

10:28am - Hillary is marking. All weekend long. Boooooo.

10:51am - Hillary is amused at seeing moms who post on their kids facebook pages... no! wait! Hillary is marking. Yeeeeeaaah....

1:36pm - Hillary is actually geting work done! Marking AND laundry! Go me!

3:31pm - Hillary is taking a break to go buy dancing shoes. Squeee!

4:57pm - Hillary is wet.

5:12pm - Hillary is back at 'er

6:06pm - Hillary is saying, "Forget this, I'm done."

9:00pm - Hillary is dancing the night away...

1:49am - Hillary is hoping the skin on her feet grows back really quickly. OUCH!

Hillary is NOT entirely addicted to Facebook.... Only mostly. Sigh.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Sorry for the overabundance of videos the last few days, but this is incredible. A battle between water buffalos, lions, and crocodiles. I watched the whole thing with mouth agape. Yes, agape. (I'm sure it was extremely cute on my part.) And yes, it's worth the whole eight and a half minutes.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A glimpse into crazy

I'm sitting here in my classroom on a Friday afternoon, a HUGE HEAPING PILE of marking to do before I can even BEGIN reports. Woohoo.

Instead of whine (more) about it, I thought I'd share a few things that made me laugh this week. Beware, they're wacky! Hope they make you laugh, too! (Thanks, Abbey, for the first one!)

If only I could dance like HIM.

It all goes crazy when... Medusa? makes an appearance at about the 1 minute mark. If that combo creates a party like that, WHERE CAN I GET ME SOME???

"... it reportedly trampled at least one workstation and left behind clumps of fur." When you see the three red cars, keep your eye on the far window! Full story here.

This is me... back at 'er.