Monday, June 30, 2008

Mooooovie night!

See? This is how committed I am to NaBloPoMo. I'm not even at HOME and I'm posting, cause really? To skip the last day would be LAME. So, hooray! I made it! 30 posts (ok, more than that) in 30 days, all (ok, most - challenge me, I'll tell you how it relates!) around the theme of home!

Aaaaand, now I'm gonna go watch a sappy chick flick with Strudel! Woohoo!

And I thought I was reading it for them

On the last day of school, I felt the weight of sadness so heavily on my heart. I wasn't just saying goodbye to these kids, to see them in the halls next year as they moved on to their new classes, I was saying goodbye forever. I was saying goodbye to the wide welcoming hallways, to the staff I have grown to love so much. I was saying goodbye to my support network, to my community, to five years of growth, of people, of challenges, of memories... I was being forced out against my will before I was ready to leave. I was almost grateful that the kids were so hyper, because it kept my mind focussed on other things.

In the afternoon, I sat them down long enough to read them a story I had only glanced at. I knew the title and had flipped through the first two pages and thought it would be a good end-of-the-year book to read to my kids. You know, all deep and meaningful and that. Turns out THEY started whining half way through - "Is it over yet? How many more pages?" - but by that time, I realized I was reading it for ME more than for them, and I carried on.

I don't know if they heard my voice cracking repeatedly all throughout the book, noticed my intense blinking back of tears, or wondered why all of a sudden their teacher's voice was all husky, but I made it through.

I don't know if I fully believe the wise little train just yet, but I'm trying...

I Knew You Could
by Craig Dorfman

I knew you could! And you knew it, too --
That you'd come out on top after all you've been through.
And from here you'll go farther and see brand-new sights.
You'll face brand-new hills that rise to new heights.

I wish I could show you the stops that you'll visit,
But that isn't my choice to make for you, is it?
Instead, I can tell you some lessons and tales
That I've learned and re-learned from my time on the rails.

Fist of all, you must find your own track.
So you can start right away and not be held back.
But which track is yours? Well, that all depends
On which way it's going and where it might end.

Different tracks wind around, over, under, and through,
So pick out the one that works best for you.
Though the track you start out on will feel like "the one,"
You might take a few more before you are done.
And now, with your eyes on your new destination,
Start up your wheels and roll out of the station.

On your new trip, you'll make plenty of stops,
In deep river valleys and on high mountaintops.
Some will surprise you and some will be planned,
And you'll roll through each one saying, "I think I can!"

You'll go through tunnels, surrounded by dark,
And you'll wish for a light, or even a spark.
You might get scared or a little bit sad,
Wondering if maybe your tack has gone bad.
So here's some advice to help ease your doubt:
The track you took in must also go out.

So steady yourself and just keep on going -
Before you know it, some light will be showing.
And then you'll be out, heading to a new place.
You'll be ready for the next tunnel you face.


You'll follow your track through twists and through bends,
And stop at new stops and pick up new friends.
They'll all come aboard with smiles and greetings.
You'll have such great times with the people you're meeting.

On the days that you're sad and feel you can't go,
Speak up and ask a friend for a tow.
That's what friends do, so don't be afraid.
You'd do the same if your friend need aid.

You might stop at some stops that you never have toured,
And look for new friends, but they won't come aboard.
So you'll have to head out with a creak and a groan,
Setting out once again on your track, all alone.

Try to remember that the wolds is so wide,
Full of all kinds of people with their own trains to ride.
Just stay true to yourself as you travel your track,
With no second guessing and no looking back.

Once you're on the right track, you'll probably say,
"This one is mine - I'm here to stay."
Try to enjoy the track that you choose -
Stop now and then to take in the views.


And when your belief in yourself doesn't feel quite so pure,
And your "I think I can" doesn't sound quite so sure,
THAT'S when to push and to strive and to strain,
To show the world you're not a giving-up train.


There's more about life that you'll learn as you go,
Because figuring things out on your own helps you grow.
Just trust in yourself and you'll climb every hill.
Say, "I think I can!" and you know what?

You will!

To go back to the main story, click here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's summerrrr!

Yesterday was GLORIOUS! Glorious and wonderful and beautiful and HOT and awesome!

Summer FINALLY decided to kick in, and what better way to enjoy it than a hike high above Indian Arm, then a swim and a BBQ with a big gang of fabulous people???

NO better way, that's what!

I did this hike last year, too, and I seem to recall thinking that it was a brutal hike for the first one of the season. Didn't seem to learn my lesson though, as I re-did it this year! It didn't really help that we took the wrong path up and ended up scaling the side of a cliff for what seemed like FOREVER. Seriously. It was steeeep. Like, don't-look-down-or-you'll-get-vertigo kind of steep. But after we hauled our butts to the top, the hike along the top of the ridge was beauteous - ten views (Diez Vistas!) out over the water: Deep Cove, Balcarra Park, various islands, and tiny boats down below zipping around helter-skelter, leaving little white trails of wake behind them.

It was so good to be outside, out in the mountains. The smell of hot dirt and dry moss baking in the sunshine, and damp forest floor and cool breezes along the shaded parts of the trail - it was so good to be outside, far from worries and cares and responsibility.

And of course, every hike needs a little bit of adventure... kinda like taking a wrong turn, stopping to figure out where we were, and seeing a large black bear lumbering through the clearing - coming out from the trail we were just on, and heading back into the bush right where one person had run along ahead to check where exactly this part of the trail led to. Hmmm...

A few tense moments, but all turned out fine, and we carried on our merry way - albeit a little more jumpy every time we heard a twig break or a leaf rustle!

After the 15-18km hike (we're not really sure given all the... er... "alternate routes" we took), we were well ready for a dip in the lake. It being the first Saturday that school was out, and the first hot day in who knows HOW long, the park and lake were teeming with people. We took a quick dip (cause the lake was fuh-REEEEZING) and grabbed our coolers from the cars for a BBQ.

Everybody pause whilst Hillary sighs happily: haaaaaaahhhh!

Hair damp, tummies full, legs tired, and faces slightly sunburned, we packed up as the sun was starting to dip behind the mountain, smoke from dozens of BBQs catching the rays of sunlight filtering though the trees, voices and splashing and laughter still filling the park.

Dessert at Mario's Gelato back in Vancouver was the perfect ending to this day, the gateway to summer.

Here's to many more days like this.....

Friday, June 27, 2008

The packing process

Five years of teaching stuff + a whole lot of inherited stuff + stuff not yet dealt with from a recently-finished school year = one very giant mess of stuff requiring a day and a half next week to finish packing up. Wow.

Click any photo to embiggen (that's for you, Katrina! ;) ).

*Sigh* I liked it better when it was full of the anticipation of a new year ( <--- click for newly posted pics), not the sadness of goodbyes...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Through a lens darkly

Folks, I. Am. Sad. And kind of irritated. And disappointed. My camera is sick. My beauteous lovely wonderful camera that I love. Taking photos is no longer fun. In fact, it's a royal pain in the patootie.

On the last day of school, I was setting up to take a photo of my class. I wanted to be in it, so I got it all set up on the bookshelf facing the carpet area in my room. It was perched quite solidly, though the tip of the lens was off the shelf a little so that we didn't end up with a big strip of shelf in the photo. I set the timer and called the kids to the carpet. I was standing next to my camera so that no-one would bump it off the shelf.

Did I mention it was the last day of school? The kids are CRAZY on the last day of school. Cuh-RAZY. When I called them, a few little orangutans came FLYING to the carpet so fast that they bumped the shelf. The bump made the shelf rock forwards and back. The rocking forwards and back made my camera fall four feet onto the floor right onto its nose (lens). The falling on it's nose broke a plastic rimmy bit off the inside of the lens, rendering the lens useless through a littlve over half of it's range, and screwing with it's brain for the semi-useful other half.


Now, thankfully, this isn't an uber-fancy expensive lens. It's just the standard mediocre kit lens the camera came with, but still to replace it it's gonna be $200 new. And I don't really feel like shelling out two hundred beans for another mediocre lens. Which means I'm going to be upgrading waaaay earlier than I thought I would.

I'd like to blame the kids, but really, I should have been more careful, I guess. It's irritating.

Anyone got a Nikon 18-55 lens they're interested in getting rid of??? Oh, there have been SO many photos I've wanted to take recently. Dumb camera.

Folks, do NOT drop your cameras. Or let them loose anywhere near stampeding orangutans. Wah!

To go back to the main story, click here.

Last days

Last day with the kids was today. Last day with the staff is tomorrow. I'll blog more later. Right now there's too much to do, too much to say, too much to feel...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

SO blessed

See these three people? They have SAVED MY LIFE. And they are AWESOME. And selfless and wonderful and helpful and fun and did I mention AWESOME?

I emailed a few friends to see if anyone would possibly be interested in helping me pack up my classroom one evening this week. I kinda didn't expect anyone to reply, cause, hello? Not exactly the funnest proposition in the whole wide world. But Harrison and Hary (Harrison, Hary, and Hillary! Hugo was gonna come, too, but was tied up. Shucks! We coulda been the 4-H club! hehe!) both volunteered and came to my classroom on Monday to help me sort, file, take down posters, get kids work ready to hand back, etc etc etc. Between the two of them, they spent SIX HOURS helping me get all kinds of work finished. They BLEW me away, and I am SO grateful for their help. They did SO. MUCH. WORK.

And then today after school, I was in the hallway and heard my phone ringing, so I ran in to grab it and it was Jenn. She told me that she had seen my Facebook status (Hillary is packing, packing, packing, and starting to say her goodbyes at the school she's loved for the last five years...), and knew that if SHE was packing up, she'd want some help, and did I want her to come by and help out for a few hours. !!!!!! I was so touched! AND, she brought me a frappucino!

Seriously, I would NOT have been able to get everything done by the end of this week if it hadn't have been for them. It just simply wouldn't. have. happened (it hasn't totally happened yet, but it's possible now because of them!).

So Harrison, Jenn, and Hary, if you're reading this (I hope I'm not embarrassing you!) YOU ARE MY HEROES! Your thoughtfulness and generosity are SO appreciated. Thank you for giving your time for me, and for being a living example of what friendship is all about!

I am SO blessed!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Daily Post

This is the lamest excuse for a post I've ever seen, but there are some days when you just don't care. I'm tired. I'm going to bed.

The end.

... ok, not the end, cause twenty minutes later I totally feel like I'm cheating. So here's some youtube awesomeness. Enjoy!

"It's hot, steamy food in your face right now..."

And also? My whole house smells like skunk cause one sprayed just outside my door. Good times.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Life at MySchool...

It's been a beautiful life
Oh I've been along for one hell of a ride
And even though I may be fallin' apart, oh
It's been a beautiful life*

Three more days, plus one more admin day where we'll all have breakfast together, then go off our separate ways for the summer.

Except I won't be coming back in the fall.

This week is so jammed full of stuff I have to do... packing up my classroom, getting my house ready for a few guests on Friday night, grocery shopping and packing for a camping trip this coming weekend... it's all going to be one big blur and then it will be over, and I won't even know what's happening. THREE MORE DAYS. That's not enough time!!! There are kids I still want to see, staff I still want to work with... a community I still want to be a part of...

I feel so numb during the day. I'm running on autopilot just to get things done: coming in before 8am, staying till after 8pm, working through recess, working through lunch. Teaching, packing, cleaning, sorting, filing. But it's times like now, where I sit here and realize, pardon the language, holy SHIT, there are only THREE. DAYS. LEFT. when I just lose it emotionally.

I really am falling apart...

* from "Beautiful Life" by Doc Walker

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Around the house...

There are so SO many things I want to get done around my house. I rent, so it's not like I'm renovating, just year end organizing and general make-nicer-izing. Summer's coming (four more teaching days... though I'm not looking forward to the end this year, that's for sure), which means I'll have more TIME to actually get anything DONE around here.

* Sort and file paid bills
* Re-organize bookshelf and filing cabinet
* Replace overhead light fixtures in bedroom, kitchen, living room
* Sort (and get rid of!!!) massive pile of paper on my desk
* Clean out storage room
* Chose photos and design photo wall to go over my couch
* Print out, frame, and hang photos
* Make blog book (ok, that's not really around the house, but it's still a "to do" item)
* Back up hard drive
* Paint bedroom??? (Which would have been a much smarter thing to do BEFORE I bought my new set of bedroom furniture! D'Oh!)
* Buy plants and actually have flowers in my pots outside, not dead weedy things from last year


Ugh! That's enough! I'm overwhelmed already (ok, ok, I know that's not a lot compared to some of your lists, but it's still a lot, and I'm still teaching summer school, and by golly, I do'nt think you realize how much PAPER is in my house right now! Gaaaah!)! But boy will it be nice to have TIME to do this stuff! And I'll actually be around this summer to enjoy it once it's all done! Hooray!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Work Day!

We painted floors and primed and painted walls in the cottages today. I decided to paint the "I *heart* Kawkawa" message on the wall first. Um, it still shows through the paint. I'm hoping a second coat will take care of that. Hehehe... whoops!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Breaking the news

I wasn't sure how or when I was going to tell my kids that I wasn't coming back next year, but about twenty minutes to home time I saw that the newsletter that was going home had a list of the teachers who were leaving the school front and centre. I didn't want the kidlets to find out from the newsletter, so I sat them down just before they ate their lunch...

"So boys and girls, I have something to talk to you about, and it's kinda sad... Sometimes teachers have to leave their schools and go to new schools... and that's what I have to do in September. I won't be coming back to OurSchool next year. I'll be going to NewSchool to teach a brand new class of grade ones and twos."

A collective gasp went up as I told them, and it was all I could do to keep the tears in as the barraged me with questions...

- But why?
- Don't go!
- Will you come visit us?
- But why do you have to go?
[good question!]

"Well, this year there are 29 classes at our school, so there are 29 teachers. Next year there are only going to be 28 classes, so one teacher needs to move to a new school. It's sad that I'm leaving, but also happy because I get to meet all kinds of new teacher friends and new wonderful students just like you! I'll do my best to come back and visit."

- But why you?
- Did you
want to leave us? [OH, my breaking heart!]

"Oh, no! No, no no! I would love to stay here and get to visit you in your new classes next year and say hello in the hallways! I'm going to miss you very much! It's just that sometimes teachers don't have a choice..."

- Well then who chooses?

"Oh, nobody really chooses. There's just a list of teachers..." How do you explain seniority rules and aggravating school board decisions to seven year olds??? You just don't.

There were all kinds of hands still up, but they needed to eat so they'd be ready to go by the bell, so I told them that they could ask me more questions while they ate. Little did I expect to be barraged by hugs as they went to their tables!

But it was the quiet comments, the kids who came up to me and told me in hushed voices and in their own little ways that they would miss me that made me nearly lose it.

- Miss Hillary, I'm going to make you a card all about you and me and OurSchool and my three friends in our class... but I'm gonna be sad when I give it to you.
- Miss Hillary, I'm sad. I might cry on the last day of school.
- Hey! I have an idea for a field trip! You should tell the new teacher to take us on a field trip to your new school!
- Should I get you a present for the last day of school?
- Will you come back to visit us? I don't think I'll like it very much if you're not here!
- I'm going to miss you, Miss Hillary! You're the best teacher I ever had in my whole entire life!
[said a grade one student, who's had exactly one teacher before me! :P ]

Aaaaand my eyes welled up over and over and over this afternoon. Next week is gonna be killer...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Loss surrounds me...

My position at my school... Rita... a relationship*... my support network at work... my students... and now on TV I just watched Meredeth and Derrek put down their dog, reminding me of my dear sweet Lucy last year... and Izzy's about to go in and find Denney dead... and it's just a stupid TV show and I know it's cause I'm so over tired and burned out and stressed, but it's bringing everything to a head and sending me over the edge and I just. can't. stop. crying.
* not a guy thing

Report Card wording

(yeah yeah... three posts today. Let's just say that the number of posts is directly proportional to the stress of a deadline... or, er, missed deadline, as the case may be.)

Ah, it's a tricky subject, this. How to say what you need to say diplomatically, creatively, uniquely. "Johnny/Sally/Katie/Mikey/Insert-Name-Here" has had a very good term. It's been a pleasure to have her/him in my class. Have a great summer." That comment just won't do. So I end up getting creative. Lots of synonyms, lots of positive wording. I'm direct, too, but sometimes you need to soften the message a little.

So let's play a little game, shall we? Here are some softened-up, diplomatic report card comments that teachers have used. Can you guess what they really mean?

1. "___ is a very enthusiastic participant in class discussions."
2. "I will miss ___'s interesting and unique ideas."
3. "___ is slowly beginning to show an ability to use words to solve his/her problems."
4. "___ continues to work on using positive language and encouragement with his/her peers."
5. "Good luck in grade two/three/four/etc!"

And let me just say that one of the funniest things after I began writing report cards was going back to MY old reports and reading what MY teachers had to say about ME. If I manage to track it down (it's MIA after I read it to my grade 5's on the final day of school last year), I'll show you what was written in the comments from some of MY report cards. Now that I speak Teacherese, I actually KNOW what they were saying, and let me tell you, it's pretty funny!

PS. What does this have to do with home, you ask? Well not much. I write report cards in part at home? I have my old report cards at home? Stretching it? Oh well. I'm ok with being stretchy. ;)
PPS. Hey, you! Yes you! Leave a comment! I know you're reading, play along, it's easy! Or just say hello. Or whatever. Doesn't matter if you're sitting at home, at work... or even a library. Comments make me happy! Send some lovin' my way! :-)

Let's beat constipation and sloppiness with enemas!

(yeah yeah... three posts today. Let's just say that the number of posts is directly proportional to the stress of a deadline... or, er, missed deadline, as the case may be.)

So I came accross this article about a new monument just now (magically, cause really I'm writing report cards and scoring Early Literacy Project writing samples...) and it cracked me up!

From the article: The 363-kilogram bronze syringe bulb held by three angels honours the enema... Spa director Alexander Kharchenko ... calls the monument a "successful work of art" that pays tribute to what is "almost a symbol of our region..."

SPF 100

Now normally I defend Vancouver to the death when people say all it ever does is rain. IT DOESN'T! There's sun here, too! And the rain only drizzles, and not all day, and not every day! This spring, however, is getting ridiculous. Grey and cold and sometimes wet, and gross, gross, gross. Today, for example. It. Is. Cold. And also? It. Is. Raining (that grey, drizzly, off-an-on Vancouver rain). Good thing half our school is going to the BEACH today for our annual Beach Day field trip.

I'm packing my parka.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Creepy *UPDATED*

Is anyone other than me incredibly creeped out by the fact that people keep finding random human feet in sneakers washing up on the shore all over BC??? They just found a fifth one. EW.

Sarah beat me to the update in the comments, but they found a sixth foot today, just, what, two days after the fifth? They've even got an interactive map of where they all were found. Weeeeird.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

La Música!

It all began towards the end of grade four, when the band teacher came into our class to find out who would like to join the band the next year. I was definitely in! I had no idea what I wanted to play, so I picked the clarinet, the same instrument my dad played when HE was in school.

I got my clarinet - a good ol' plastic rent-to-own Yamaha - and my friend Cathryn and I experimented and explored and taught ourselves how to play all kinds of new tunes. I remember being really proud that we figured out part of the Muppets theme song, and a variety of other tunes.

Band began, and I was hooked. I practiced and practiced, loving the cool songs our band teacher had us play. I mean, Captain Video? Hello! Who DOESN'T want to play an outer space overture with all kinds of video/space sound effects played on a cassette tape behind the music? Oh sweet YouTube, if only you had a clip of that awesome, awesome song!

Regular ol' school band wasn't enough for me, and in grade six or seven, I also joined the North Vancouver Youth Band, a community concert and marching band. Band geek-dom, here I come!

In high school I took up the alto sax for jazz band (and had a brief stint on the trombone), and by grade 10, I was in the junior concert band, the junior jazz band, the senior concert band, the senior jazz band, AND the North Vancouver Youth Band. I did fund raisers for band trips, went on tour most springs/summers, went to band camps, marched in countless parades, and went early one Monday a month for sectionals (an intensive lesson with just the instruments in your section - my sectional leader was Gene Ramsbottom, a fan-TASTIC clarinet player and man with pretty much the awesomest name ever. Watch, he's gonna google himself and find this this post now. Mr. Ramsbottom, you were a FABULOUS teacher. I learned SO much from you!).

When high school ended, I tried to keep up with the NVYB and joined the Capilano College concert band, but with commuting an hour and a half each way to university, and piles and piles of homework, that didn't last past first year. My clarinet began collecting dust in my closet, though I would take it out periodically and play through some of the old music I still had kicking around.

I miss being in band - that sense of being a part of something that is greater than you, that expressiveness, that sense of accomplishment when a piece is finally performance-ready. One day, I keep telling myself, I'll go back to it. Join a community band. Play again. It's going to take a lot of practicing on my own to get back to the point where I'd be anywhere NEAR ready to do that again...

Music, however, hasn't disappeared from my life completely. When I first started teaching, I started as a music teacher. Not really qualified except that I read music, I went to workshop after workshop, seminar after seminar, and learned as I went. It was challenging, but still so fun, as I got to participate in music again, and, more importantly, got to try to make kids love making music, too!

One of my favourite things about teaching music was that final moment, when all the boring, repetitive xylophone parts that we'd been practicing for WEEKS finally were ready to put together. The kids would be at the breaking point, complaining about "Why do we have to do this AGAIN???" and "I'm booooored!" but then! Then we'd put it all together, and the harmonies, the way each part fit together - that big picture - finally became apparent. I could see the looks of amazement on their faces as suddenly that boring old "doot-rest-doot-rest-doot-doot-doot" pattern came alive around them. They'd be concentrating their little heads off, then at the end, looked around in wonder as I got to exclaim, "Did you hear that? You did that! You made that! That was wonderful! That! was music!!!" They would look SO proud of themselves, and I knew that all those weeks of boring (for them), frustrating (for me) music classes paid off!

I still try to keep making music a little bit. Through teaching music, I discovered African drumming, and though I haven't really done a lot of it, I jump at any chance I can get to take a workshop! I bought myself a djembe at a county fair in Washington a few years ago, and I scooped the "family guitar" for my music ed class at university, and have had it ever since. I've been (very slowly and sporadically) teaching myself guitar, and though I'm not very good and I rarely play in front of anyone, it's something I enjoy as a stress reliever.

I've collected a variety of other random instruments over the years, too. I have my sister's flute sitting in my closet alongside my clarinet, for example. Every now and then I'll take it out and fiddle with it. I've figured out a major scale and a few simple tunes, but that's about it. And that fun little froggie in the photo? He's a guiro (wee'-ro) my friend gave to me after a trip to Thailand. It's good for some fun percussion every now and then! The gourd I bought at the same time as the djembe, cause I thought it was cool. Hey! An African instrument! I must have it! In retrospect, the plastic pony beads don't exactly do much for authenticity, and it's pretty ear-piercingly loud when you shake it, so needless to say, it hasn't gotten a lot of use. Oh well! The spoons are from when I did my language program in Chicoutimi, Quebec back in 2001. I bought them in Quebec City as a souvenir. I played them every night at campfire at Kawkawa later that summer, and by the end of the summer, had worn a hole right though my jeans because of it! I can play a mean spoon, let me tell you! Finger rolls are my forte! hehehe!

I guess once a band geek, always a band geek, but I wouldn't have it any other way. It's something that I enjoy, and even when I don't do it well or often, it still is such a great outlet for me to be creative, to lose myself, to hone a skill, to relax. I hope it continues to be part of my life for a very long time to come!

It's official

I just formally accepted the job and filled in the order form for boxes, packing tape, and movers to move all my stuff. Oy vey.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More on the job front...

While it's still not entirely clear what's going to happen with my job next year, it's getting to be more and more definite. It looks like I'll be leaving my school. There doesn't seem to be any movement with the school board in letting the other teacher declare herself surplus, so it looks like it'll be me who's packing up and moving on in less than two weeks.

At least I know now where it is I'll be moving on. Though still uncertain about whether or not I'd need to, I went through the whole application process - just under twenty applications, three interviews, and I was offered two jobs to choose between, both at the school I preferred out of the two schools I interviewed at. It looks like I'll be teaching another grade 1/2 split next year - I have to call the principal tomorrow morning and officially accept the offer. On the bright side of things, I'm glad that I'll be doing the same grade level next year. I at least have a year of doing this under my belt, and I feel like I can take and improve on what I started on this year. AND, it's another school with a modified week, which means I'll still be done at noon on Fridays (so I can stay till 6pm working... insane-o me). The school is a quarter the size of the school I'm at now - so crazy! But I think it'll be good.

Now over the next two weeks comes the part I am SO not looking forward to - the packing up of all my stuff... the goodbyes... leaving the school I've called home for the last five years - my first school, the staff and students I love so much, the place my heart has grown so attached to.

I'm going to be a big ol' blubbering mess for the next two weeks, let me tell you. Good thing you can't see me, cause it's starting already...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Quick post today - I thought I'd share a song with you. I've loved this song since the first time I heard it... it has an almost dreamy characteristic to it. Cheesy way of making the "Home" theme? Perhaps. But I DO really like this song. It's just conveeeenient that it fits the theme! Enjoy!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Come on over!

Welcome! It's Friday evening, thanks for comin' over! Come on in, sit down. Can I get you a drink? Tea? Hot chocolate? Something cold? Sorry, I don't have a coffee maker... but I made some treats for us - take one (or three!), enjoy...

OK, readers! This post is all about YOU! I'm away for the weekend, so I'm hoping the interesting stuff in this post will be in the comments. After coming back from Rita Lihaven's memorial yesterday, I've had a lot on my mind, but one of those things is that, even though I only knew her for a short time, she is a woman who has inspired me, and who I look up to very much. In the comments, I'd love to hear about a person in your life who has had a big impact on your life, who has inspired you, who you look up to. Who are they? Why have they been influential?

Thanks for coming over! Feel free to stay as long as you want. If you run out of strawberries, there are more in the fridge! ;)

PS. What looks like a gross drippy stain beside my door (yukkers!)? Yeah, that's a windchime.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This is so that I'll look smart

Click the photo above for a larger view.

In university, I took a little of everything. A smattering of this, a smattering of that... I didn't even declare my major (French) till my third year, and then only because I HAD to. Even my choice of major was, in part, to allow a large variety in the course I took. French lit, grammar, composition, phonetics, linguistics, history... there were so many different disciplines within my major.

I never declared a minor, though had I been allowed to combine classical studies and religious studies, that would have been it. In fact, I had 24 credits in those two areas, all because of a set of novels I read in high school - the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. Soooo good! I'll have to tell you about it in another post, but essentially it was historical fiction set in ancient Rome, and I got really interested so I decided to take a Classical Studies course in first year, and ba-BAM! 24 credits later... Who SAYS books don't influence people's lives? (Um, ok, no one. You're right.) In any case, the classics/religious studies minor wasn't allowed, so instead, I scooted my way around the campus soaking in all manner of courses. Chemistry, Greek philosophy, anthropology, physics, German, children's lit, family studies, calculus, astronomy, geography, psychology... you name it!

I SO loved university. The papers, not so much, but the classes? Awesome. (And? I can't believe I finished my undergrad SEVEN YEARS ago!!! The education program alone was already five years ago! WHAT IS GOING ON??? hehehe) I'm glad that I kept my books (well, ok, not the chem, physics, or math ones! Though that photo represents only a few of the texts I still have - I picked that shelf cause I thought it'd make me look the smartest! ;) hehe!), cause every now and then, I take them off the shelf and flip through them. This summer I'd like to re-read some of the Greek plays. I really liked them, and think I'll like them even more when I don't have to write a major paper on them! Can't say I'm gonna be dragging the Norton Anthology around with me, though! Sheesh!

Sometimes I feel like my brain is getting mushy and that I miss the academic world - the learning, the discovering... I'm not convinced I'm done with school yet. We'll see, but it sure was fun the first time around!

What was one of your favourite classes while you were in school/college/university/etc?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Unintentional horn-tooting

Eek! I didn't mean to sound all "look how awesome I am" in that last post. I picked the excerpts cause they made me laugh (ie. I got an A+ in "yell???" ... well, after today, I can see that. I yelled at my kdis today. I told them their listening today was terrible. It was.) and cause they're just fun exapmles of kid's writing. Oh well, they're there. They're fun. They weren't the point of the post, but I got carried away.

Ha! Also. ("Carried away" reminded me...) I saw Sex and the City on the weekend. Any of you seen it? What did you think?

Hmmm... I had McDonald's for dinner. Booo. My tummy hurts. But I'm prepping for a sub and cleaning up and posting partly to procrastinate and partly to satisfy Melissa's demands for MORE! POSTS! So I can't go home yet. Seriously. I need to set up a cot.

The janitors pretty much hate me.

Report cards. I DON'T WANNA!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


When I finished my practicum nearly five years ago, my sponsor teacher gave me quite the send off. She had all the students in the class write me a poem or a message, illustrate it, and then she bound it all up in a book. This was all done in secret, while she sneakily gave me time to go off into a quieter room and spend some time marking assignments. I wouldn't have been wise to her, except that the way they giggled and twittered and tried to talk in code around me definitely let me know that something was up. Grade six kids do NOT know the art of subtlety.

Sidenote: It's funny, actually, all through the practicum Sponsor Teacher and I would laugh about how NOT subtle the kids would be. From "whispering" to super secret crushes, they certainly weren't hard to figure out... which made me think back to MY pre-teen years and realize that, yeah... that super secret crush I had on Kyle Clasky, that dreamy Aussie boy who came to my school for a year and a half? EVERYBODY KNEW.

But this book "my" class made for me was a work of art. Decorated with representations of all the different things I taught them and filled with messages, it is something I look through every now and then when I need a reminder of why I do what I do.

Some excerpts:

Miss Hillary's voice can be as soft as a cloud
but when she's mad she can be loud!
She's cheerful, happy, tricky, and smart
She's even good at French and art!
I'm very glad I met Miss Hillary
because she's such a good teacher and a friend to me.
Goodbye, farewell, just don't forget me
as well as the noisy division three!

Happy personality that
Interests me a
Lot. A very
Likeable person and
An extravagant French speaker
Really quite
Youthful and happy

Miss Hillary's Report Card
teaching - A+
detention - C-
Yell - A+

Report Card Comments [from a different student than above]:
1. Your voice speaks so expressively, so we don't get bored.
2. Congrats! You completed your mission in controlling us!

Miss Hillary helps
When the students yelp
She comes to their need
They will show her a B
She will erase the B
And produce an A

[written beside a drawing] "This magnificent red raindrop tree symbolizes power and control over students"

One of a Kind Teacher, MISSING.

Around 10:00am this morning, Miss Hillary was reported missing from her classroom at McSchool Elementary. People say Miss Hillary left because her schooling was over. They said she needed to go find a real job, being a teacher and not a student teacher anymore.
"The students of McSchool Elementary are not satisfied with any of these suggestions," says Sponsor Teacher, the other teacher in the class. The children respond to her disappearance with great hardship. "I am glad other children will be able to learn the way I did. And will be in her presence. I miss it myself. Sigh." said Mally, and X-student of Miss Hillary's. Her location is still unknown but the FBI is still looking, and hope to be successful.


The drawing in the photo above is from a student in that class. She remembered me saying one time that I loved sunflowers, so at home, she did a rough drawing first then created this work of art for me. She mounted it on heavy card and tied string to each corner so that I could hang it. I was so touched at her thoughtfulness - far above and beyond what the class assignment was, it was an expression of appreciation and of generosity, and it was . I promised her I would find a place to put it up in my house, and I did. It hangs proudly in the hallway, a reminder of the very beginning of my teaching career.

It's also a reminder for me of the face that teaching is about touching lives. And I'm not talking about me touching the lives of my students, though I suppose there's that, too. The drawing for me is a reminder of how much my students have affected me. These kids... man, they make such an impact on my life. Each student makes their own little mark in their own ways, and as I near the end of my fifth year in this career, I think about students like D. What she wrote in the book touched me deeply - something every teacher wants their students to say about them - and it's students like her, students like so many others, who keep my going through the insanity, through the frustration. I love those cheery sunflowers by D for reminding me of all this, for keeping me in the game. It's so worth it.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Little miss grumpy pants

So I'm sitting here in my classroom with frozen toes and icy fingers, in my jacket, sniffling and snurfing with a ding-dang dreadful cold, head so full I feel like it's going to pop. The rain is pounding on my window and there are several large-ish lakes in the courtyard outside. The back field is a mud pit and has been closed all day. And it is FREEZING outside. It's not just today, either. Last Thursday, for example, was the coldest day EVER for that date. Sounds like I'm describing a November day, doesn't it?


Bah. And I really SHOULD add "humbug" cause it feels like wintertime!!!! GrrrrRAR!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Rebirth, part six: Rita Lihaven

If you didn't catch Rebirth: Part Five, first go read it here.

Also, a note to all of you who have found this post by googling Rita's name... welcome! If I have any of these facts wrong, please forgive me, and feel free to email me with any corrections. I'll change them as soon as possible.

There have been many influential people involved in getting Camp Kawkawa up and running again. One of these people has been Rita Lihaven. Rita came on as interim director for Kawkawa and then joined the board shortly before the decision was made to close the camp. Around the same time, she was diagnosed with cancer, and the prognosis was not good. However, she remained active with Kawkawa after its closure in all the behind-the-scenes business that had to happen, even through chemo treatments and illness. As circumstances surrounding camp began to change, so did Rita's cancer. While it looked like camp would be able to open again, Rita was also getting better. She told the story many times that her story and Kawkawa's story ran parallel to one another, and told people that she believed God healed her for this purpose. And so she began to throw herself whole-heartedly into doing whatever it took to get camp up and running again. She has done an incredible, incredible amount of work for the camping ministry in which she believes so much. While there have been many, many people involved with Kawakwa, Rita's work and her passion for Kawkawa is one of the major reasons that it is open again today.

I first met Rita at the farewell in January 2006, but I've gotten to know her a little better over the last eight months or so through work days up at camp, meetings, and countless emails and phone calls regarding all things Kawkawa. Her creativity and refusal to let circumstances limit imagination has blown me away. She is inspiring in so many ways - as a Christian, as a leader, as a friend. I so wish I could have had more opportunity to get to know this wonderful woman better.

You see, she passed away earlier this week.

Now that I think about it, I remember her saying up at camp one day that the doctors had never fully declared her cancer free, but she quickly added, "but look at me! I feel great! I'm healthy, I'm here! They gave me a few months to live and that was a year and a half ago. God's got other plans for me." And he did.

Within the last two months, Rita turned 55, graduated with her masters from a theological seminary, and saw the final plans come together that would ensure that Kawkawa would be up and running in the summer and for many years to come. But also in that time, I guess the cancer caught up with her. She got pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital about two weeks ago. She died on Friday. I already miss her so much.

Rita was an incredible woman with a passion for seeing kids come to know Jesus. She worked for years as a children's pastor and then continued in family and adult ministries. She was the director for Kawkawa through its darkest time. I wish I knew her more to be able to expand on how much of a blessing she has been to others. Instead, all I can offer are the ways she's touched my own life. She was always encouraging, always positive, and always challenged me and others to think outside the proverbial box. She definitely was a woman with spunk. Even during her chemo treatments when people would stop emailing her, not wanting to bother her, she chastised them: "I'm NOT dead! Keep me updated!" She was a woman full of fun, passion for kids and for Jesus, and full of life. She has reminded me time and time again that nothing - NOTHING is impossible with God, and has been a living example of what it really looks like to trust God in all things.

While we all feel she that she died entirely too soon, I know beyond a doubt that God gave her these extra years for a reason. Like Kawkawa, Rita, too, has been made new: I know that she is now free - free of pain, free of cancer, free to finally meet the Jesus she served and loved so much. She is home.

Rita, you will be missed deeply. Thank you for pouring your life out for others and, ultimately, for God. You have touched so many people in ways I'm sure you are only just beginning to discover. Though you are gone, your life and your influence will reach into eternity.

Rita Lihaven
April 30, 1953 - June 6, 2008

If you are the praying type, could I ask you to please pray for Rita's husband,
three children, and extended family during this time? Thank you so much.

Thank You, by Ray Boltz

I dreamed I went to heaven and you were there with me;
We walked upon the streets of gold beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing, then someone called your name.
We turned and saw a young man running and he was smiling as he came.

And he said, "Friend you may not know me now." And then he said, "But wait,
You used to teach my Sunday School when I was only eight.
And every week you'd say a prayer before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer, I asked Jesus in my heart."

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave...

One by one they came, far as the eye could see.
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done, sacrifices made,
Unnoticed on the earth, but in heaven now proclaimed.

And I know up in heaven you're not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure there were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand and you stood before the Lord.
He said, "My child, look around you. Great is your reward."

Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Rebirth, part five: Made New

It was a grey, November day when I went back to camp for the first time since the farewell nearly two years previous. The previously well-kept camp was showing all the signs of being all but abandoned over two winters. Windows were broken and a few doors were smashed down where vandals had broken in and left their mark. Buildings were dusty and cold and leaking, and a fallen electrical pole had cut off power to many buildings. The grass on the field was knee high, and two autumns worth of dead fall covered the ground. The tiny stream had jumped its bank and cut a deep channel through the middle of the beach, washing half the sand away with it. The docks were partially buried and half sunken into the lake, and tiny trees had sprung up where we used to play beach volleyball. The big windstorms of two winters ago had knocked a few trees down farther up the property, and where there used to be a gravel and dirt clearing in the forest around the chalets, saplings and weeds now grew nearly four feet high. The campfire area - that sacred place where I and so many other campers had met God in such life-altering ways - was strewn with garbage and broken beer bottles from people looking for a far removed place to party.

It was hard to be there, to see how this beautiful place that had meant so much to me had begun to fall apart. I had thought about going up to see the camp in the past, but really didn't know if I wanted to. I wanted it to live in my memory as it had been - bright, well-kept, full of kids, noisy, alive. I didn't know what condition it would be in, and didn't know if I could bear seeing it closed and boarded up, overgrown and empty. And yet, there I was...


I have a friend named Cathy who lives in Sydney, Australia. She and I met at camp a number of years ago, and we quickly became friends. She's been back a few times since then, once for an extended stay, living with me while she did her practicum. This past August she was in town visiting again. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and a bunch of our friends were walking up Main St. for a leisurely after-church lunch. Kawkawa came up in conversation, and it was then that Cathy told me, "Hey, did you hear that they're opening again?"

I nearly tripped on my own feet. "What?! But how? Huh? Are you sure? Really!?!?! ... And how do YOU, who live in Australia know about this before I do?"

"I don't know! I'm on some mailing list, apparently. I got a letter saying they were opening up, and to please pray for the whole process."

I can't even describe how thrilled I was. There may or may not have been some overjoyed squealing and spontaneous jig-dancing in the middle of the sidewalk right then and there. I very quickly began doing some research and making some phone calls and found out that, indeed, Kawkawa was going to be opening once more! I didn't know how, or why, or any details ("Wasn't the mountain unstable???") but yes, it was true!

Over the next few months, I learned more and more, and knew that I HAD to be involved again. And so, one cold November Saturday morning, three friends and I drove up to Hope for the first scheduled work day to begin getting camp ready for campers to arrive this summer. Yes, the camp was in bad shape, but there was not the weight of sadness there that was there the last time I was there. Instead, there was laughter. There were hugs. There was hope.

We had food cooking in the kitchen, and there was the sound of people all over the site - working, clearing away the death, bringing new life to Camp Kawkawa. Crews were raking leaves, demolishing trailers, cleaning floors, burning debris and leaves, surveying the camp and making lists of all the work that had to be done. There was a buzz of excitement in the air as we all worked towards a common purpose.

At the end of the day, I went down to the lake and walked out to the end of the dock. Smoke from our fires had escaped the cover of the trees and had seeped down to the water, cirlcing around, adding to the greyness of the day. I sat down on the edge and looked out across the lake. How many times had I sat there? How many times had I escaped the craziness of camp to go and sit, surrounded by the awe-inspiring mountains on either side and the calm water in front of me, just enjoying time with God.

The weather might have been grey, but my heart had exploded with hope, with colour, with beauty. Everywhere I looked, I saw rebirth, from the bulbs planted in the garden just waiting for spring, to the dead fall being cleared away and burned, to the excitement and anticipation of campers arriving that very first week of summer ready to experience a rebirth of their own.

So many of the questions we had when it closed now make sense, and it's beyond exciting to see how God has worked things all the way through this process. He is clearly not finished working at Kawkawa and I am SO excited to see what He's going to do in the years to come!


That November work day was the first day of something that has become such a large part of my life. From planning meetings with Rita, the executive director, to information meetings, to networking, to promotions, to speaking at different groups at my church about opportunities to help, to hours spent on powerpoint presentations, to monthly trips up to camp to rake, garden, demolish, build, clean... I am SO thrilled to be involved with camp again. Chances are if you know me in real life, you've thought at least once (probably more!), "OK! Hillary! Enough about camp already!" Recently a friend teased me that it seems not a week goes by without an email from me involving something to do with Kawkawa.

With all this involvement, um, it's been a little strange not being able to talk about it on my blog (though that's been purely my own restriction). After the "closed" post, I didn't really know how to begin the next post. I don't even know how many times I'd started it and not completed it. I knew it would take a long time to write - to get the feeling just right, to capture what was going on in my heart, in my head. And so it didn't happen and didn't happen and didn't happen. But all that time, I was doing more and more with camp, and didn't really know how to summarize it all. I kinda feel bad that I've not been talking about such an amazing, exciting part of my life. But then I just decided, this is silly. I so badly want to keep talking about camp. I need to just write this post, not worry about getting it 'just right' and get on with it. So here I am. Sorry it's taken me so long. There will be more installments to come!

Friday, June 06, 2008


My school has become like a second home to me (and not just cause I'm here 10-12 hours a day!). I've said it before, but I love this place. Yes, it's frustrating at times. No, it's not perfect. But this is the first school I've ever worked in, and I have felt so supported here. I've grown so much as a teacher - from a part time music prep teacher, teaching all grades in two languages to an intermediate teacher to a primary teacher - I've done just about every category of job I could do within these walls. And I've made great relationships here, too: I have such amazing people that I work with, both students and staff.

Back at the beginning of May, I learned that enrollment was down and we would be losing a division next year, so I would be declared surplus to the school's organization, unless anyone voluntarily decided to surplus themselves. That didn't happen, so on May 15, I got my official letter . But then on May 16, things changed. Kinda. Which is why I haven't blogged about it, cause everything all of a sudden was up in the air. And still kinda is. I think. Maybe. Or not. I don't know.

Basically, there is one teacher off on a leave right now who was not informed of the surplus situation. It turns out that she wants to volunteer to leave and try for a position that's not currently available at our school. HOORAY! I'd get to stay! It's sad that this teacher wouldn't be there, cause I really like her. But it also means I'd get to keep my position!


Except nobody knew if she'd be allowed to volunteer to be surplussed while on leave. It's been going back and forth now for nearly a month, with neither of us knowing for sure what is going on. It's basically up to HR to decide, and apparently it's not a cut and dry process.

So here I sit and wait. Will I be staying? Will I be leaving? Nobody knows. The other teacher has been absolutely fabulous with keeping me updated and encouraging me. There's just as much frustration on this person's end, too. We've both been in this state of... what? Unknowing? for nearly a month now.

In the meantime, job postings have come out, I've had to apply, and I am now being called for interviews. The principal of one school called me last night to set up an interview for two positions at his school. I wanted to yell into the phone, "I DON'T WANT YOUR INTERVIEW! I just want to STAY HERE!" (But, uhhh... that probably wouldn't have been the most stellar plan!) If it turns out she IS allowed to surplus herself, I rescind my applications. If not, well, I guess I start packing up all my stuff.

This other teacher and I both want to teach the same grade level. I desperately want to stay at my school to do it. She is intent on leaving in order to make that happen. But because officially I am surplussed and she is not, even though she has WAY more seniority than me, I'm in a higher priority category and I'll end up getting the jobs before she does. IT'S SO DUMB!!!

I emailed one of the union executives a few days ago to just ask if he knew any more about the situation. Yesterday, I got my answer, and while it wasn't definitive, it definitely didn't sound good: "... the board has repeatedly said no to her repeated offer of voluntarily surplussing herself. She is, therefore, still on staff... and you are the one that is still surplus from the school... For this week, you should go to interviews you’ve been shortlisted for, and be prepared to accept jobs [when they begin offering them] on the 16th."

It would seem that the only light at the end of the tunnel would be that IF this decision turns around or if she gets a job another way, then I have the right to return to the school I've been surplussed from. I might have to leave. I do have to leave. I won't have to leave. I might still have to leave. I will have to leave. I might not have to leave. I probably have to leave but I might get to come back... Really, how long do I want to have the carrot dangling in front of me?

Blah! I can't even tell you how much this sucks. Yeah, that life is good thing I wrote yesterday? Yes, it's still true. I know that in the grand scheme of things, my life is very, very good and there is a TON to be grateful about. But this job thing is so long and drawn out and frustrating. It makes me just want to run away. Like maybe to Vernazza. Heh.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I can't even HANDLE the cuteness!!!!


Is insane for staying waaaay too
Late at school. She does NOT
Live there, contrary to what it would seem. She
Arrived home AFTER nine o'clock.
Restless and exhausted, she
Yawns before falling into bed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


This hand-painted porcelain tile hangs right beside my door, so I see it a lot. For me, this is one of a number of things around my house that remind me of my trip to Europe two summers ago. Lately, I've been getting the travel itch in a big way, but I'm not in a position to do anything about it this year (thank you, dumb car, who, by the way, is getting me back for my little 'you won't beat me!' showdown post by deciding to need new brakes like, last week). All I can do is look through my pictures, re-read my old blog posts, and wish I could go back...

That was a glorious, glorious summer. July was full of mountaintops, beaches, sunsets, and starlight - every weekend through most of June and all of July I was hiking and swimming and enjoying long chats with friends late into the evening. It certainly didn't hurt that one friend who was with me every time was someone I was absolutely crazy about. It was the fun, thrilling, crazy-making beginnings of what seemed like - or at least what I so strongly hoped - would become something amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better July...

... And then I went to Europe! I spent all of August exploring, discovering, meeting new people, and absolutely loving the freedom of travelling where I wanted, doing things on my own, figuring out new cities, taking in the culture, the scenery, the history, the cuisine... It's definitely been one of the bigger highlights of my life so far.

But of all the places I went, it was the Cinque Terre that captured me the most. I fell in love with Vernazza, one of the five tiny, colourful towns that tumbled down the steep hillsides. The terraced vineyards rising high above the towns. The azure blue mediterranean waves crashing onto the breakwater, the tiny fishing boats bobbing in the harbour, the tall yellow clock tower chiming out the hour over the village from dawn to dusk every day... it was spectacular. The food, the wine, the views, the colours, the smells - rosemary, thyme, salty air, hot dusty ground. The towns were each tiny, the locals were friendly (like the little old man selling Limoncello under a lemon tree who gave me a kiss on the cheek when he saw the Canadian flag on my backpack!), and it was pretty much the most romantic place I've ever been (um, NOT cause of the little old man!).

Each time I look at that little reminder of Italian heaven on my wall, I drift back to the three days I spent there. I can hear the animated conversations of tourist and local like, the chime of the clock tower and the din of the restaurants on the piazza, the waves pounding the breakwater. I so long to go back and sit on my patio high above the sea and drift off - no cares, no sense of time, no nothing. Just soaking in existence and beauty.

One day I will go back. Till then, each time I look at the view of Vernazza beside my door, I try to remember to let existence and beauty soak in where I am, too. To not let life get so crazy or get so overwhelming that I forget to enjoy it... Cause life is good here, too!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

On the fridge

Food and friends. Yesirre, bob, those go together quite well. Going out with friends for a meal is a given. But what I'm talking about here is my refrigerator. What's in it isn't exactly blogworthy, but I sure have a cornucopia of stuff on the front of it that is fun! Fun for me, anyway, but hey, you're here, so let's just call it fun for you, too!

This is a picture of one side of my fridge. It's a fun little scavenger hunt game, cause you've got to click on the picture then roll your mouse all over the front of it to find out what's what and who's who. I'll go put away my groceries while you do that, mmkay? Go ahead....

What's on my fridge?

... yeah LIKE you're gonna spend that much time studying my fridge. But really, go click on over, then come back to tell me what you've got on YOUR fridge! And then, just cause apparently I have no shame, I'll let you in on an embarassing little secret...




Soooo I had some friends over the other night and got almost all my dishes done before they came, except for one large pot with some tupperware inside. Time was of the essence, so I just tucked it away in my oven. Yeah. I know. Hush. So tonight, I got home from grocery shopping absolutely ravenous and got ready to pop in a frozen pizza...

Do I really need to finish this story for you??? No, I didn't think so. Let's just say that I need a new large measuring cup and am really hoping that plastic peels off the side of pots easily. Dangit.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Her melody

As I look around my house, I see more and more that within its walls are all kinds of stories. Stories of places I've been, of people I love, of things I've done. Stories that tell a little bit about who I am. So one project I think I'm going to take on for this month as a part of the "home" theme is to share a little bit of my home with you. I wish I could invite you in, make a cup of tea, serve up some goodies, and have a good chat, but unfortunately that simply isn't possible for the majority of you. So instead, I'll welcome you in through my blog. Get comfy and make yourself at home. And hey, if you want to do the same, let me know! I'd love to hear some of the stories that come from your home, too! It doesn't have to be daily - mine won't be - but leave me a message in the comments if you want to participate.

So here goes... part number one of the yet-to-be-named series.

She is one of my most treasured possessions. I saw her in a box of things my grandpa was getting rid of one day, and snatched her up. I had to have her. She doesn't have a name, nor is she pristinely perfect. Her hair is falling out in places and her apron strings are beginning to fray. But she sits in a place of honour on the dresser beside my bed, in just the same place she sat in the spare room at my grandma and grandpa's house. The spare room, second from the last down the hallway on the right. The spare room with big puffy yellow wallpaper flowers, white wicker headboard, and white bumpy-textured blanket on the bed.

On the nightstand sat this doll, and every time I slept over at Grandma's, I would wind her up and fall asleep to the beautiful, tinny song she played while her red sparkly skirt brushed the tabletop as she turned in slow-motion circles.

Today, the small cylinder in the music box underneath her skirt is beginning to wear - the raised bumps that pluck the tiny tines are not quite long enough in places to reach anymore, and some notes of the melody fade in and out, while some don't play at all. But she still plays enough of the song to carry me back to my early childhood. To sleepovers at Grandma's house when I was very young, probably eight years old or younger. After that, she was very sick, and couldn't have us over very often anymore. She passed away when I was ten.

As much as the doll reminds me of my grandma and those nostalgic childhood moments, the song parallels my memories of her. Snippets of a melody - some notes fading, some that are lost, but enough that remain strong and clear to remember how the melody carries on when the music begins to falter.

I wish I had known my Grandma as an adult. To learn to appreciate her not just for sleepovers and shopping trips and weekends in the trailer at Birch Bay, but for who she was on a deeper level. Her amazing gift of hospitality. Her stories. Her deep, deep love for Jesus. Instead, I have to be content to know her as I saw her as a child... Helping her bake a coffee cake or cinamon buns for another newcomer's welcome lunch after church. Gardening in her yard or at the trailer. Teaching me to memorize the 23rd Psalm. Building gingerbread houses with her at Christmas time. Some notes I remember on my own. Others, my grandpa sings for me, taking little moments every now and then to pull me aside and tell me about her -what she was like, what she loved, who she was. He still loves her so, so much. I know he tells me these things because he doesn't want her to be forgotten.

But like the doll that sits on my dresser, she is still a part of my life. A part of my childhood. A part of my heritage. And I'm grateful I still have her melody.

Aye yei YEI!

Despite having gotten my paycheque and paid my rent already - the usual first-of-the-month indicators for me - somehow it still hit me like a ton of bricks today that it's JUNE (probably cause I had finally gotten all my kidlets to simmer down this morning then realized I hadn't changed the calendar over yet. I had to take down the May poster, peel off all the velcro date thingies, put up a new weather chart... D'oh!) But it's JUNE! Finally! Already?!? So soon???

Two weeks till report cards are due (ummm... no, actually. 10 DAYS. GAK!)
Four weeks till the end of school.
Nineteen days till the first official day of summer.


Hoo, boy, I can't WAIT! Yeah, yeah, there's still summer school in the mix there, but SUMMER! Glorious hot days to spend lounging, hiking, swimming, adventuring... Oh, how I can't WAIT! I really think *I'm* the one with the more eager countdown. I am SOOO ready for a vacation!

Sunday, June 01, 2008


I posted this originally on September 18, 2005, but as I sit here and think of what to write for my first "Home" post, this is the story that keeps coming to mind over and over again. So here is where this journey of defining "home" will begin (it's unedited, so five years is now nearly eight, and three years is now nearly six. My, how time does fly!). Enjoy!


Home. Apparently this is still a confused word for me.

I have been living on my own for... [counting on my fingers] ... wow. Five years now. I have been at my place now for exactly three. I feel like my place is home. I still refer to my mom and dad's place as 'home' sometimes, but I would say overall, 'home' is my own place.

That's sort of a weird shift for me. It's strange going home (there I go again... I mean to mom and dad's) and not totally feeling like I belong there. I don't have a bedroom there anymore, and I don't always remember where things are. When I'm helping to unload the dishwasher, I often have to ask where things go in the kitchen.

Even more strange is coming home, er, to mom and dad's, and having the first person I see be someone I've never met before. My parents are part of a home stay program for a few language schools in town, so there is almost always at least one student from Japan or Germany or Brazil or any number of other countries staying there. Sometimes I walk in (I do still have a house key!) and the new student looks at me like, "Who are you?" (They're not always that attentive to photos on the walls, etc). I feel like saying, "Hi, I'm Hillary. I live here."

Except I don't.

I realized this past week that this issue of 'home' is more confused for me than I thought it was. As I've mentioned, my friend Cathy from Australia is staying with me right now while she's finishing up her occupational therapy practicum. Other than her staying with me, I've never had a roommate, so the only reason I've had to phone my house is to occasionally leave a reminder voicemail for myself.

The other day I was grocery shopping and wanted to know if Cathy wanted me to pick anything up. So, I got out my cell to call home. And that's exactly what I did. I dialed the number without even thinking, and after two rings, I got a voice I was definitely not expecting.

"Uh.... hi, Dad."

I had called home.

We had a good chuckle about this and then I did what I meant to do in the first place: call home.

Now this makes for a cute story, but it's not exactly blogworthy in and of itself. However, the story's not over. (Hillary? Tell a short story? Neeeever!)

Cut to last Friday afternoon. I was preparing for my substitute teacher who will be there all week while I'm at Grade 7 Camp. It was taking longer than I had expected and Cathy and I had plans for the evening. I needed to call her to ask her to get dinner started so we could eat before we went out.

The command went from my brain to my fingers: Call Home. One ring later, "Um... hi, mom."

I laughed at myself and told her how I ended up sounding confused and talking to her instead of Cathy. She then then told me that she thought I was calling to wish my dad happy birthday. AAAHHHH! Which also meant that I had forgotten to call her on her birthday three days earlier. But that level of "I'm a bad bad daughter" guilt requires it's very own post.

'Home' is not a cut and dry word for me, apparently. I guess on some level, mom and dad's will always be home. It's where I grew up, it's where my family is. It looks like I'm in for a few more confused phone calls 'home.' And I'm ok with that.