Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I don't think I've ever laughed harder

I miss Whose Line Is It Anyway. Specifically the game party quirks. I stumbled across someone who has 30+ clips of just that game last night. I think I watched about 20 clips. But this one. Ooooh this one. I laughed till I cried. I'm still laughing about it, 24 hours later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

So much for posting every day

Ah, but it got me posting again, so why not? After all, unlike Katrina, I'm ok with not winning a sock zombie!* [Don't worry, Katrina, they're cool, I'd just be happier if you got it than if I got it! I'm guessing so would you! ;) ]

Part of the not-posting has come from the fact that my life is pretty boring these days. Work, come home, pack. Or, perhaps more accurately, work, come home, crash out by 8pm.

Thank goodness for long weekends - I've actually gotten a bunch of packing done so far and feel good about my progress. At the beginning of this process I had visions of running out of time at the end of the month and freaking out in a massive mad rush of no sleep and insanity to just jam every last little thing into whatever boxes, only to be dumped in a big pile-o-crazy at my parents, to be sorted out probably never.

Don't worry, mom, I'm sure that won't happen.


Speaking of mom, she came over today and helped my pack up my kitchen, minus a very small selection of essentials I'll keep out till the very last minute. While the first box I packed up a week or so ago was a kind of a milestone for me (first concrete step on a path that may lead me back to Africa full time {GULP!}), packing the kitchen today made it sink in a little more that I'm actually moving out. It's one thing to organize and throw books into boxes, or to get rid of mass piles of paper, or even to move out my bedroom furniture. None of those things really phased me. But packing up the kitchen today somehow made it much more real. I guess it's that, once my kitchen is packed, I can no longer functionally live here.

(You'd think that was true when the bed was moved out, but no. Who needs a bed when you've got a floor and a couch? I know. I'm weird. Too bad.)

I won't wax sentimental tonight about all the things that have happened in my life while I've lived here. That's another post for another day (probably a day where I've got a supply of kleenex nearby!). But goodness me, it'll be eight years, two and a half months. It's by far the longest I've lived anywhere since moving out of my parents place. (Does that make it ironic that I'm moving back IN with my parents now? No? Ok then.)

Huh. I need to stop now. I'm looking around as I type and getting all teary-eyed. I'll miss this little home of mine.

Any ideas of something to do to mark the milestone of moving on/moving out?

* From the website: "... A sock zombie is a zombie doll made completely from socks. It’s better than an ACTUAL zombie in so many ways! I mean, can you put an ACTUAL zombie in your backpack? Sure. But just that one time."

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Her name, her story

I was short on time and low on groceries. Racing out the door, I decided to swing through the drive-through that is conveniently (or perhaps not so conveniently!) directly on my way to work for a breakfast sandwich. As I was waiting for my food at the pickup window, I saw her.

Purple dress, way too short. She was pulling it down self consciously as it rode up around her rear. White jacket. Bare legs. Shivering in the drizzly November morning. She was in a weird place - hanging out at the end of the drive through - and was definitely out of it. She was most likely high, and most likely working.

I didn't want to stare, so I looked away. And then something in me told me to stop. Everything I've been paying attention to and learning lately flooded into my mind at once. Trafficking. Prostitution. Slavery. Addiction. Theft of dignity. Brokenness. Loss.

I rolled down my window and told her that she looked cold, would she like a coffee. She asked for a muffin, too, and assured me it would be the same price. I told her of course and swung around into a parking spot to walk in with her.

She started telling me about how she had been hoping to ask somebody for a dollar so she could get some food. She wasn't from around here - she said she'd just gotten in from Edmonton and was her to try to get straight. She was waiting for her methadone and trying to get into detox.

"I just want to get straight," she told me, over and over.

I bought her breakfast and we chatted some more. I told her about a drug and alcohol treatment program I knew of here in the city, and wrote it down for her. I told her it would take courage to get straight, but that she had it in her. I told her I would pray for her, for God to give her strength. And then when she had her food, I asked her name.


I couldn't stay with her while she ate - though I regret that I didn't. I shook her hand and squeezed her arm, and told her to be well. I noticed that she looked young, but her hands were hard. Dry, and rough - so much older than the rest of her.

I prayed for her all the rest of the way to school. And as I prayed, I wondered about her story. Where had she come from? Would she get clean? Was she trafficked? Would she get into detox? What does she believe about herself?

As I drove, my heart broke. She's been on my mind heavily for the last two days. As I think of her, as I pray for her, it's her name that gives me hope.


A pearl is a thing of great beauty and worth, but it's formed through difficulty and adversity. When something that doesn't belong is introduced into it's shell, it's the oyster's healing process that creates this beautiful pearl.

Beautiful Pearl. You are so precious. You have such worth. I don't know if you know it now, but I pray that you discover who you truly are: a beloved child of God. I pray that you're serious about getting clean. I don't know if you are 'owned' but I pray you will find freedom from bondage and from fear. I don't know what demons you will have to face, but I pray you find people who will help you face them, and together you will find healing. What a perfect name for you. I hope your name becomes your story.

"Be well," I told her as we parted ways.

"You too. I know we'll meet again."

I hope we do.

If you're interested in learning more about the human trafficking that happens right here in our backyard, I would highly recommend the film Avenue Zero. The trailer is here:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Another gem...

Having settled in to fixing some errors in his phonics book, Danny* was almost finished when he exclaimed excitedly,

"Miss Hillary! I just have one more erection!"

"Just one more CORRection! Well done!"

Hmm... Or maybe two!

* Name changed

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Before it gets dismantled!

I got a new couch and put up some photos in my living room this summer. I also finally arranged some of my things from Kenya. I realized last night as I started packing that I don't have any photos of the finished product - so here they be. It looked good while it lasted! :)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Big Move Begins.

Ugh... this late night posting has got to stop. I'm way too tired to think of anything intelligible.

So. Step one of the Big Move happened today. Dad came by with a borrowed trailer and we moved all my bedroom furniture into my new room at their place. Now I have room to start sorting and organizing the boxes - what to move, what to store, what to throw out, what to give away... yikes.

I'm SO grateful that I've got this whole month to slowly move stuff in and get organized. All those people who have to move on one day - yikes!

This weekend I moved my bedroom stuff and will pack a bit more, next weekend (a 4 day weekend!) I'll pack pretty much everything, the weekend after that I'll move it, and the weekend after that I'll clean the place.


Now that I have a computer with a card reader, I'll post some pictures of the process. Cause ya know, it's so very enthralling!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Unorthodox lessons and vocabularial (it's a word!) blunders

Earlier this week, I taught my kids about pee.

Tired of the endless stream (no pun intended) of kids who come back in after recess or after lunch and, five minutes later, tell me with crossed legs, "Miss Hillary, I have to go the baaaathroom! It's an emerrrrrrgency!", I sat them all down for a lesson.

"Boys and girls, when we eat our food, most of it gets used by our bodies. But some of the food we eat, our bodies can't use, and it comes out as waste. What do we call that waste?"

Mostly I got some blank stares, but one boy, thinking he was giving a silly answer, giggled out, "POOP!"

"Bingo! You're right! It's poop!"

His eyes popped open, I'm sure shocked that he was right.

"And what ELSE comes out as waste?"

A chorus answered me thios time: "PEEEE!"

"You betcha! Boys and girls, todaaaay we're going to learn... about PEE!"

I proceeded to teach them about how when we eat and drink, our food goes into our stomach, into our intestines, and the nutrients go into our bodies to make us strong and help us grow. Some of the waste fills up in a part of our bodies called our bladders.

When we pee, we empty out our bladders, and then it's empty. Slowly, slowly, it begins to fill up again, especially after we eat and drink. When it's only half full, our bladder doesn't really tell our brains we have to go pee. But when it's full - EMERGENCY!

I wrote out an example of a daily schedule for the kids and showed them the times in the day that are good times to go to the bathroom. We talked about how your brain might not be saying "EMERGENCY!!!" but that, "I promise! There's probably something in there! And if you try, I'll bet something will come out!"

It was quite hilarious, and I'm 110% positive that this was the one and only lesson I've taught all year that EVERYBODY has paid attention to. Hopefully, at least now when I say, "Go and try anyway!" I can refer to this lesson and they'll understand why I say that!

Sidenote: I'm also veeery curious what the answers were if the kids were asked, "So, little Johnny, what did you learn about in school today?" HA!

Well, today I discovered that even my little monkey with serious attention difficulties picked up at least SOMETHING from my lesson.

He's working on learning the letters of the alphabet (oh yes, in grade two), and today he was working on U. He doesn't have a very expansive vocabulary, either, so he was having trouble with figuring out what the picture was.

"Miss Hillary, it's a cow."

"Well, yes, but look at the arrow - what part of the cow is it pointing to?"

"......... oh! It is a bladder?!"


"Ah! Good guess! I can tell you're really thinking about it! But a bladder is inside the body, and that's the part that holds the pee. This part is on the outside, and it's where the milk comes out. This part is called an udder. U-u-udder. Does it start like 'u-u-up?' "

"Yes! ... but Max* told me it was his tentacle."

Hmm. I'm prrreeetty sure Max didn't mean 'tentacle.'

I think just found the subject for my next lesson!

* Names have been changed


I know this isn't terribly elaborate (and might not even make sense!) but I. am. exhausted. Spent.

I got home from a public meeting a little while ago where school board trustees were listening to people's concerns and ideas about the proposed closure of my school. It was a hard meeting to be at - there were some pretty emotional please from kids and parents who simply don't have the options that so many of us have.

This ongoing battle with the ministry of education in this province is exhausting. Underfunding, underfunding, underfunding and cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts. Since 2002, there have been 191 schools closed in this province, and 25 that have been threatened with closure.

It's not a happy time to be in education... but day after day, I can't give up, because of the kids. They're worth fighting for, they're worth not abandoning. I just wish our government would buck up and see that, too.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Calling all teachers!

I've got two computers in my classroom and I've been trying to think of how to make it easy for my kids to access some approved game sites (and ONLY some approved game sites!). So I thought... a homepage!

Check it out! And if you've got more good sites I should add, please comment there and let me know!

Primary Learning Online

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Turn that frown upside down

I can tell I need to sit down and think about things I'm thankful for tonight, because as I sit here at my computer staring at the screen in complete and total exhaustion (it was another 13 hour day today), all I can think about is how frustrated and burned out I am by my job this year. Underfunding, huge cuts, a class full of seriously high need (and seriously awesome, but seriously high need) kids, and an insane lack of support have all turned me into a frazzled ranting stress case. You may think I'm kidding, but those who see me regularly I'm sure will vouch for it.

So, as I'm trying to get into the habit of doing so anyway, here's a list of ten things I'm grateful for - ten signs of God's goodness to me from today.

1. I ran into an old friend when I picked up my coffee today - someone I knew from my church years and years ago, and who I used to babysit. Every single one of his co-workers talked about what a lovely human being he was, and as I left, I realized just that little interaction made for a happy little kick start to my day.

2. I'm grateful for my coffee! :)

3. The tech guy showed up today to set up the computers and the program I need for my new ESL students. I only requested the job yesterday, and was surprised to see him so soon. This means I can start the kid's program tomorrow instead of waiting till next week like I thought I would have to.

4. It was a beautiful sunny day today after a day of monsoon rain yesterday. I'm grateful for ANY sun in Vancouver in November, and we got nearly a whole day of it!

5. I got some ideas from the ESL consultant today which should be helpful for my kidlets, and she called me back right away! Hooray!

6. I got an email from my mom today that my bedroom is ready to go and I can start moving stuff in as early as this weekend. Not having to do everything all in one weekend will make this move SO much easier!

7. Today was my prep period, so I had a bit of a breather in the middle of the day to get stuff done.

8. There are some really great people at my school this year, and I really like them. I'm grateful for fun co-workers.

9. I love my new computer! Finally I don't have a dinosaur slug of a beast! It's fast and it's big and it's shiny! OoooOoOOoOOOoOOOooo!

10. I'm grateful for this list and how it's helped my grumbly, ranty self remember that I have been blessed throughout today.

11. I'm grateful for my bed.

I'm gonna go sleep on it now.

Monday, November 01, 2010

I think this proves I'm cerifiably insane



National Blog Posting Month. It comes 'round every November. It's a challenge. Post something every day for the month of November.

I'm in. And I'm CAH-RAY-ZAY. But, I miss blogging. I miss getting my thoughts down, recording bits from my days, and the interaction that is a blog. Sooo... I'm signing up.

My teaching year this year is the craziest it's ever been. I have HUGE needs in my class and the least support I've ever had. It's insane, really. We're REALLY feeling the effects of the latest round of cuts to education in this province - they're deep. I'm at school for 10-12 hours a day. Oh, and they're considering closing my school.

I'm making big decisions about my future - researching schools, doing some self-study, and generally feeling like major life shifts are causing emotions to be very near the surface.

Oh, and in November? I'm sorting through my life for the last eight years - purging, sorting, storing, and moving. That's right! I'm moving back in with mom and dad so I can save some moolah for school in September.

AND report cards are due at the end of the month.

So of COURSE it makes sense to commit to blogging every day. I figure it'll either keep me same or help push me over the edge. Stick around and find out which!

I'll bet you won't be able to tell the difference!)