It's coming! National Blog Posting Month! Where all kinda of crazies - ummm... I mean bloggers - take up the challenge to post every day for the whole month of November. Seriously, I keep worrying I'm gonna forget to post on the very first day and then be "out." Somebody remind me or something! hehe!
I'd love to know which of you are doing it (all of you! you should ALL do it!). I already know about Anne and Jenn, but what of the rest of you? So if you've signed up already, please let me know via the comments and we can give eachother moral support (aka comments! Those are really what kept me going last year!). And if you haven't... what are you still here for? Go sign up!
Well I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is, I don't have any funny stories to tell about exploding turkeys or gravy all over the ceiling. The good news is that that's cause I totally pulled off a full blown turkey dinner! Sah WEET! heehee!
Turkey, stuffing, I roasted some garlic for the mashed potaoes, gravy and cranberry sauce from scratch, steamed veggies... and homemade pumpkin pie for dessert! (ok, so I cheated with a tenderflake crust, but whatever.)
I have buckets of leftovers, enough to last me through the week and also to freeze. Yippee!
I've gotten a few comments and emails about all my dancing posts and videos, so I thought I'd send an open invite to all you blogosphere folks who live in the Vancouver area...
There's a new West Coast Swing class starting this Thursday, if anyone wants to learn! It's taught by Myles and Tessa (whose videos I'm always linking to!). They teach in sessions - a new one begins every 4 weeks. If you're interested, check out this link - it's got some more info. (If it's too small, hold your muose over the image and click the orange "expand" box on the bottom right corner).
I'm doing the beginner class to fill in the holes in my basics (of which there are many!) So who wants to come dance with me?!?!? :)
(and no, I get no perks for referring people! I just think it's fun, and think you'll think so too! :) Heehee!)
This week has been one of those weeks. You know: THOSE weeks. Where you're completely pooped by recess and you've exhausted any and all manner of strategies to get certain kids in your class to just. listen. please!
I've had it. H-A-D, had it.
I am enjoying this level, but I have got myself a challenging little class here. They are cuties, and there are the moments that I cling to that remind me of why I'm enjoying teaching this level, and I'm excited to try out a new independent working structure I learned at a workshop last Friday... all those things are good. But it's the nagging, the reminding, the disciplining, the always trying to match correction with positive feedback, the constant reigning in of the feeling that I would just like to blow my top at times with a few of them that is utterly and completely exhausting. It's being SO frustrated, but still staying even keel, staying fair, staying calm. I swear, teachers should get oscars for all the acting they do!
[rant removed, but if you missed it, it was a doozy] At least the vice principal is supportive and works with some of the more challenging kids every chance she gets. She is AMAZING. Goldstar for her! I SO appreciate her support. Because seriously. I'm going insane here.
I'm blogging this because hopefully it'll bring my stress level down and I can actually get some work done around here. Cause I've been talking and wandering and staring at my computer screen aimlessly and haven't been able to wrap my brain around any form of work for the two hours since school ended.
All's I can say is, thank goodness it's Friday tomorrow. We're done at noon (yippee for a modified week!), and then a relaxing weekend, including some dancing - of course! - and ending with me attempting to cook my very first turkey.
Heh. That may just be some good blog fodder right there!
You know what? THIS turkey is outta here. My desk and teacher table are a mess, and I'm only marginally prepared for tomorrow, but my brain is zonked. I'll deal with it in the morning. Right now I'm getting out to enjoy a walk in the sunshine.
From 4pm Friday to 4pm Sunday, I spent 29 hours in dance workshops, watching competitions, and dancing. That's not counting lunch, that's not counting the 45 min nap I had to tak at 6:30 Saturday evening so that I wouldn't collapse, that's not counting sleep, what little there was of it. Twenty-nine hours of dance in fourty-eight hours.
My feet hurt. But I am on such a high right now! And it's not even over, because Kyle Redd, one of the pros, had so many requests for private lessons that he changed his flight to Wednesday morning and is doing lessons all of today and tomorrow, too. So I jumped on the "me too!" train and have a lesson with him this evening.
...... Aaaand, update to this, even before I published the post... my friend Jason needs a follower for HIS lesson tonight, so I'm going along to his lesson, too, immediately after mine. It's Jason's lesson, he just needs a body. So instead, I get TWO hours of lessons for the price of one.
I am SO ridiculously excited about this weekend you can't even believe it.
I haven't written about dance for a while now. That doesn't mean I haven't been going, though! I haven't done my Sunday night classes since the end of July, partly cause of being away a lot in August, and then come the fall, I really wanted to work on brushing up on my technique and breaking any bad habits I'd developed before I continued to learn some new moves. I've been going dancing at LEAST once a week, and now I've signed up for something a little more intense...
So remember when I got all star-struck about dancing with Tessa a few weeks ago? Well I heard that her and Myles were having a special on a series of six private lessons, so I went in with a friend and splurged. I've had two lessons with Tessa so far, and they have been BRUTAL (in a good way, but totally intense! Isn't that clear?!). Nothing like having the Canadian champion of west coast swing (WCS) telling you to go ahead and dance with your partner, knowing that she is standing there looking on, taking mental notes about every little thing you do. Eekers!
Turns out she had a lot to critique. Uhm, yeah. It turns out I didn't even know how to put my FEET down on the FLOOR properly, and I apparently dance like Priscilla Pelvis. *snort* More on that one later, and on my homework from the first two lessons: 1) Dance with your fridge and 2) Stick a ruler down your pants. Suffice it to say that there's a whole lot of basics I need to work on.
So what does all that have to do with this weekend, you ask? Well. Let me tell you.
I'm going to my first ever dance convention. Kinda like dance camp. Except awesome-er.
It's an entire weekend of dancing, workshops, competitions and demos. As if that's not cool enough, the thing that's so exciting about it is that the best WCS dancers in the WORLD are coming. The top four couples, and many many other well known names - both from here and elsewhere - will be competing and giving workshops. If you search on YouTube for "west coast swing," you will see the names Jordan and Tatiana, Kyle and Sarah, Parker and Jessica, and Myles and Tessa come up over and over. They are ALL going to be there! Squeeee!!! And yes, I've gotten over my star-struck phase! ... mostly, anyway! ;) I'm excited to get to learn from these dancers and see them compete. They are absolutely amazing. (Their names link to a video of each, for some context. If anything, check out Myles and Tessa's. The first link is to a choreographed routine (they won!) and the second is to an improvised one.)
From 3pm Friday till the wee hours of the morning (I think they shut the dance down at 5am), then from 9am Saturday into the wee hours again, and then again from about 10am on Sunday till 6pm, I'll be dancing, learning, dancing, watching competitions, and dancing again. SO! FUN! (Then at 7:30 Sunday night, I'm going to see Rodney Atkins, Taylor Swift, and Brad Paisley from freakin' ROW 25 on the FLOOR!!!!!! Not really about dancing, but also part of the Best Weekend of Awesomeness EVER, so it totally counts!)
But even MORE fun (and excruciatingly terrifying)??? I'm going to enter my first ever dance competition on Saturday!!!!!!!!!!! Holy SHNEIKE!!! I'm entering the novice level Jack and Jill competition, which is where dancers sign up as either a leader or a follower, and then draw a random partner to compete with. Dancers are judged as individuals in the preliminaries, then as a couple in the finals. I'm not expecting to get into the finals, but still the experience will be totally worth it! I'm gonna dance with a number on my butt, baby!
Man, if you told high school me - whose only dancing experience was grudgingly doing the mandatory square dance unit in PE - that I'd be COMPETING in a DANCE contest? Wow, that would have been the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard in my entire life.
But that's me! Totally ridiculous. And TOTALLY PUMPED for this weekend.
UPDATE: Here's a video, cause I know you probably didn't click on those links! :) This is Myles and Tessa last month. The dance is totally improvised.
Update to the update: And just cause I can't stop... this one (NOT in the links above) is them doing Lindy Hop for the first two mins, then West Coast Swing. THIS is a fun video. It makes me grin every time. How she moves her body like that is beyond me.
When you don't train, and then you run a marathon, you're gonna hurt. Or even a half marathon. I have a friend who's stubborn as anything - I love him for it - and he signed up for a half marathon that happened two weeks ago. He didn't end up training for it at all, really. Now me? I would have just bailed. (So good to know I hold to my commitments, eh?) But not him. He took a plane over to Victoria and ran the dang thing anyway. Under his goal time. And beat every one of his friends who did the race.
And then couldn't walk for nearly a week afterwards.
So I'm gonna use him for inspiration. But not for a half marathon. Heck no, that's crazy talk. Seriously. I would die. Colapsed-on-the-pavement-never-to-be-seen-again kinda die. Instead I'm talking about something much nerdier. And I'm ok with that.
It's NaBloPoMo time again, folks. National Blog Posting Month. For the month of November, I will post every single day. Why? Well I ask you, why not? I did it last year, and while it made me go slightly insane, I did finished! Whether doing it now and acutally KNOWING what I'm getting myself into is crazier than just signing up blind is yet to be seen.
But I'm stubborn like that.
Who else is with me? Click the badge for more information and sign yerself all up now, ya hear?
Today after church I planned on driving down to Stanley Park to go for a walk and to take some pictures of the fall leaves... just a lazy afternoon in the park enjoying the sunshine. I had grabbed my camera bag, a jacket, and a pair of runners before I left for church, and I was all ready to go. I drove from church across the city towards the park.
As I neared Stanley Park, driving along English Bay, there were people walking, biking, and rollerblading along the seawall, countless sailboats out in the water, golden leaves drifting down in the breeze. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I love this time of year.
I rounded the corner, and a large red and white sail caught my eye. There was a viking ship out in the water!! You know - brown boat, curled up at the front and back, with a tall sail in the middle, vertical bands of red and white billowing out as the wind caught it... And people in the boat rowing! Definitely a photo opportunity.
As I was stopped at a red light, I dug around in the backseat for my camera bag, thinking that if I couldn't find parking right away, I could snap on my zoom lens and take a shot or two at the next light. So I hauled my bag into the front seat and unzipped it... only to find my camera was not there.
I was using it last night, and neglected to think that, "Uh, you have to put it back in the BAG if you want to actually take any pictures, Hillary!"
So now I'm home, back across the city again - albeit with a free and healthier lunch than I would have had otherwise - and debating if I really want to drive all the way down there again, to capture the natural beauty that I'm destroying by gallivanting all over creation in my car.
Surely google's got some good pictures that'll do me? Bah! Sooo not the point.
I got to the dance a little late tonight, but as soon as I got there I saw a group of friends from my church who had come along to try out some west coast swing. Two had done it before, but the rest of them had never done it, so they came early for the lesson. Which, whoops, wasn't west coast swing, but rather nightclub two step, a very graceful, dance, done to slower music. Step-step gllliiiide, step-step gllliiiide. (The description not doin' it for you? Try this. And don't be scared by the cowboy hats - it's not a country dance!) I've picked up the basic step and a few moves jsut from dancing it when they throw them in there in the west coast swing rotation, and I really like it.
Friends: Yeah, it wasn't even a swing lesson, it was night clup two step. Me: Oh no! But oooh, I love that dance, it's so elegant, so smooth! Friends: yeah, it looks really pretty. Me: It is! Now, you have to know me - I very frequently act out what I say. So I begin to do the basic step as I talk: Step-step gllliiide, step-step.... CRASH!
As I smoothly, gracefully, elegantly glliiiiided backwards, I TOTALLY body checked some poor woman walking to her seat.
Good thing I have reflexes like a cat! I was able to grab her arm to steady her and keep her from falling.
Though in doing that, I miiiight have then stepped on her foot.
It's a good thing it's been a few hours since I thought about writing this post, or there may have been some obscenities involved.
Back in February, I got a parking ticket downtown after dance one Sunday night. It was a STUPID parking ticket, cause the signs were TOTALLY not clear and it looked like it was free to park after 6 on weekends. I am not the only one who interpreted the sign this way. There were at least 6 others who scrutinized the sign with me at various times and agreed that, yes, indeed, parking was free after six.
So great was my assurance that I was right that I went down and took photos of the sign, sent them to the parking company, and told them that I was disputing my ticket. Of course, after sending the signs away, I saw that, yes, actually I DID have to pay after six. BUT IT WAS STILL UNCLEAR! And I hold to that to this day. They have since changed the signs. And upped the rates. D'oh.
The ticket was for something like 45 bucks, and $65 if I didn't pay it within a week or something. Well, I was contesting the ticket, so they told me that it wouldn't go up.
But then I got no answer from them about my email. One week went by, then two, then three. Four. Five. Then I got a letter from the parking company stating that I now owed $75 - the higher ticket price, plus interest and fees for who-knows-what.
So I emailed back, stating rather bluntly that, uh, no, I had contested, and hadn't heard from them in five weeks. So they emailed me back on April 12, complete with no less than 4 condescending paragraphs about private property, right to collect revenue, legal blahbitty blah, I had infringed, yaddayaddayadda. Yeah, whatever buddy. Shaddup. At the end of the email (and it was LONG!) they said they'd accept payment for $26.75 so long as I paid it within 7 days.
So I did. Fine. Got an email, thanks for paying, here's your confirmation number, done. Finito. Or so I thought.
Around mid May I began getting calls from a collection agency (which, as the recorded voice never actually said what it was about - "a very important business matter" - I had no idea and just hung up on them every time, so didn't actually know it was a collection agency till maybe July sometime.). They called every. single. day. I got letters. The amount was now up to ninety-something.
I called in July and they told me the details of my ticket, which wasn't even with the right parking company. Clearly they were on crack, so I decided to ignore them. And still they called.
Around September I got fed up with the calls and called them back to tell them to get lost, I'd paid eons ago. Of course, by this time, I was getting more threatening calls from a DIFFERENT collection agency saying that my credit rating was affected, I'd be taken to court, and all that blahbitty blah blah.
So I called the original collections agency again. I was not rude, but I was not polite, either. I've paid this flippin' thing, I have email confirmations to prove the mount we settled on, and that I'd paid, where do I send it off to?
I got the fax number, prepared the documents, and faxed it off with a cover letter saying in no uncertain terms that they were to stop calling me immediately, and repair any damage to my credit rating, and inform me in writing via email when this had happened.
That was about a month ago. No email, but really, I wasn't expecting one anyway. But no more phone calls, either.
Until last week. More threatening phone calls. Now the amount is $125. Usually they're on my machine, but the robot got me home tonight. I called. I left a message (which ticked me off, too, as their stupid rigmarole voicemail thing took me almost TEN minutes before it rang through to an agent, and by that time they were closed. They weren't closed when I called in the first place). I left an aaaangry message.
Honestly, WHAT do I have to do to get these ........ [words you don't want to hear] off my back?????
ARG! I'm SOOO angry! Just leave me the heck alone!
Blah. Somehow barfing all that up on my blog makes things feel better. But seriously. If they call me back again....
In other, happier news, one of my kidlets totally cracked me up today - and a real live crack up, not just one of those "over enthusiastic for the sake of the kid" kind of laughs.
In their writing books (journals) today, I told them that they were to imagine that they were a turkey, and that the farmer was looking forward to a yummy Thanksgiving dinner. They, as the turkey, had to tell the farmer why he shouldn't eat them, or maybe who or what to eat instead. So complete with ESL grammar and kid spelling (which I don't have here to replicate, I'm just going with the gist of the grammar), here's what one grade two boy wrote:
"I'm a turkey. If the farmer want to eat me, I tell him you don't want to eat me, I'm too skinny. You should go eat Mr Chicken. If he say no, then go ask Mrs Cow. If he say no, then go ask Mr Pig. If he say no, you can go eat rice."
Laughing, I asked, "Really? Rice!"
To which he replied, "Yeah. Rice can't talk back."
So I know I haven't been doing much but posting videos and such lately. My head seems to be so full of thoughts lately - I get an idea for a blog post once every 3.2 seconds, I swear! - that it's overwhelming to write it all down! That and I've been busy like a madwoman lately.
Here's some snippets of what's going on in my mind lately. These thoughts are sooo underdeveloped. I wish I had time to chew on them,, write about them, mull them over. For now, they're snippets...
- Mexico. Yeah, yeah, I still haven't written anything about that. It's apalling, really. I find that the farther away in time of the actual event, the more it is impacting me. It certainly gives a new frame of reference for what we have and what we take for granted. And it's made me think a lot about Missions. Doing them, issues surrounding missions, how to continue to contribute in my daily life...
- Rich. Connected to Mexico, I guess, are a whole bunch of thoughts about wealth. We talked about it at Resonate (the young adults meeting at my church) tonight, too. Some thoughts that stick in my mind: We have to be careful not the think that OUR world here in North America reflects THE world. And all those bumper stickers that say "God bless America?" (which could very well say "God bless Canada") We already ARE blessed. Beyond measure. We are blessed so that we can pass that on. How exactly am I doing that in my life? (answer: I'm not - not nearly enough).
- Thanksgiving. For us Canadians, it's coming up this weekend. I spent an hour after school today writing out Thanksgiving songs and poems to work on this week. Thank you for this, thank you for that... and you know, it struck me: just who are we asking these kids to thank? It makes me think of that little poem we used to say at school camp:
Oh the Lord is good to me, And so I thank the Lord, For giving me the things I need The sun and the rain and the appleseed The Lord is good to me Johnny Appleseed Amen.
Who knows when, but they changed it to "Oh the earth is good to me..." It makes me sad. Be thankful, be thankful... Oh how I wish I could point to the Giver of every good gift.
- The voice of Jesus. I went to a seminar given by Gordon T. Smith this weekend on learing to listen to the voice of Jesus. That probably sounds all freaky-deaky to some of you, but it was really down to earth. He talked about basically four ways that God speaks to us. First, he tells us he loves us. Everything hinges on his deep, unconditional love. "Even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Second, he calls us to turn - away from sin, to confess, to live by who we were created to be. Third, he calls us to truth - to know truth, to speak truth, to teach truth. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Finally, he calls us to listen in times of choice. How do you know what God is calling you to do? How do you know it's God?
Man, that is such a pathetic summary for a Friday and Saturday workshop that left me feeling like I was trying to drink from a fire hose. Sooo much stuff there. Overwhelming. I'd highly, highly recommend two of his books (I've heard him speak on both topics and own both books. I'll be reading them shortly) - The Voice of Jesus and Courage and Calling.
- Professional development. Speaking of drinking from a firehose... Part of being new to a grade and a whole program (primary) is that I tend to overload myself with workshops and professinal development. It's good, becuse at this stage of the game, even workshops that seasoned pros go to and are like, "meh, I know all this" I drink up. I'm enrolled in an eight session after-school literacy workshop that meets once a month, and am also one of four staff who will be spending three full days at seminars dealing with "Understanding by Design" and "Differentiated Instruction." Basically it's about how to plan for teaching so that students actually UNDERSTAND what you are teaching, instead of just following some crazy set of rules that they've memorized. Good stuff, but sooo intense. In one sense, I love the learning curve, but in another, it's utterly exhausing. Oh well, at least for that last one I get to go spend one day every few months at a fancy-shmancy golf course with super-nummy catered food.
Sorry. Just trying to wake you up. I got all boring and rambly for a minute there.
Ok, now for the fun stuff which was the actual point of this post, but apparently I needed a brain dump tonight.
This here is an ode to all the mommies out there. You have amazing, amazing jobs, and you also have the incredible capacity to laugh at yourselves. Perhaps through tears at times, but laughing all the same. Hope you enjoy these.