Sunday, April 30, 2006


Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road

Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go

So make the best of this test and don't ask why

It's not a question but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs and still frames in your mind

Hang it on a shelf in good health and good times

Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial

For what it's worth, it was worth all the while

It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

Goodbye "section 4" - thanks for the great memories

and they SCORE!!!

Don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I am a major hockey fan. For any hockey fan, April is always a great month - Stanley Cup playoff time.

I watch a LOT of hockey in April.

It often surprises people to learn that this extremely proud-to-be-Canadian girl is a fan of the Colorado Avalanche. People in Canada want other people in Canada to only cheer for Canadian teams. Expand this to the fact that I've been living within 4 hours of Toronto for all of my life. If you're not a Leaf's fan then expect some people to roll their eyes at you and call you a traitor for cheering for anybody but them. LOL it's one of the thing I love about this sport - the friendly trash-talking and jokes passed between fans of different teams.

Two years ago my father got me tickets to see Colorado play in Toronto for Christmas, all wrapped up in an Avs jersey, which I proudly wore into the Air Canada Center for the game. As we were climbing the stairs to our seats, he had to pass an usher, who was checking tickets. When I handed him my ticket, he said "Miss, you can't be in here" in this really serious face. Shocked, I asked why, and then noticed him winking at my father behind me. Wow - I'm SO gullible huh... My dad still tells that story all the time.

So once again my cable bills become worth the money - this year even more games are being televised and I've gotten to watch almost every game so far. This means a lot of time on my couch starting at the tv. To combat this, I've been doing research about England while watching - so I at least feel slightly less like a couch potato.

Today the Avs advanced to the next round of the playoffs. An overtime goal too, which to even non-hockey fans is an exciting thing. I'm excited because I wasn't sure how they'd do at all. It's always fun when your team does well in the playoffs.

You said you didn't give a @*#$ about hockey - I never saw someone say that before.
- The Tragically Hip

Now I realize that some of you reading this do not like hockey, or even care about the sport at all (cough cough - Ledawit?!). If you are a part of this group - have no fear because I won't post about hockey very often... I tend to ramble on about this game and that goal, who checked who into the boards, how got what penalities, who will advance to the next round and wonder who'll win the Cup this year.

See there I go again.

Oh the good old hockey game
it's the best game you can name,
and the best game you can name
is the good old hockey game.
- Stompin' Tom Connor

Saturday, April 29, 2006

On a different note

I expected my next post to be a description of our rockin' good-bye University of Windsor shindig, but there have been a series of little things from today that keep sticking in my head and I just have to write down... I apologize in advance for the randomness to follow ;)

"the next blog" activity
I decided to try the random "next blog" button. This opened up a whole new world of people's opinions, pictures, poems, stories, and a series of things too strange not to mention here. For those of you reading this, I'm wondering if you've tried the same thing - and if yes, has anybody else stumbled upon blogs written in english but don't make any sense at all? I'm not talking about opinions here - it's more like random words in english: Cake chocolate rolll. Not move to block its consideration. Theyre creating socialized medicine, cake chocolate rolll ABC starting this fall. Delicate Balance, at 7:30 p.m. At CAKE CHOCOLATE ROLLL

Say it with me folks: HUH?!!!!!!! Maybe there's a translator on this website that I just don't know about and stuff if lost in translation... whatever it is, I discovered this phenomenon after a few glasses of good rum, and couldn't help to revisit just to see if the words were still gibberish.

I have found several good blogs though - many much better written (and probably more interesting) than mine - I guess all we blogger nerds have a certain style, and hopefully the people who do read this blog are somewhat entertained at least.

this part is sad: i found a blog about a little boy who's birth went very badly. The author is his grandmother and she is not only well written, but includes pictures that just grab my heart and squeeze. I will not provide a link to it though - don't want Kim or Ledawit reading this incredibly sad story and especially seeing the pictures of the parents - but basically the doctor was 30 minutes late to the delivery and as a result this little boy has severe brain damage and no cerebral activity at all. The content is this blog is so personal and utterly heartbreaking, yet the grandmother seems to really need to share this story with the world. The absolute joy I felt when meeting my "nephews" came back to me even more when I realized how damn lucky we all are to have happy and healthy little ones around us. My prayers go out to all mothers right now - especially the mother of that poor week old child who will likely not survive to see two weeks...

whew - okay on a different note again

A makeshift clothesline and ripped jeans
Did laundry today and since the spin cycle didn't appear to kick in I was forced to drag a heavy and very wet basket of clothes onto the balcony to dry. Before you ask yourself why I didn't use the dryer, I should mention that it costs $1.50 per load to dry and at the best of times it takes 2 drying cycles to mostly get them dry. So I often bring clothes up to dry for awhile to save some money (love the starving student tricks huh).
Anyway, I was sitting on the balcony reading (more on that later) and noticed a couple of things:
1. I must have a little white trash in me if I think a balcony rail is a good clothesline ;)
2. my very wet clothes were dripping to the ground below, probably giving a bit of a surprise to the people walking below
3. the clothes hanging were a pretty good reflection of me. If you look at the picture below, you'll see a U of W sweater, my favourite jeans, comfy sweatpants, flashy pink pj pants, and nice khaki pants and pink golf shirt. only thing missing is a hockey jersey...
4. my favourite jeans had RIPPED in the washing machine!! not a little, but a LOT and not even along the seam so they can't be fixed unless I do the patch thing on the leg. I will not be patching my jeans with anything - even if that style ever came back. So goodbye to my jeans :(

wow i've never had trouble getting a picture up here b4 - guess it's my own fault for taking so long to put it up....

Reading the DaVinci Code
Started reading this mega-hit book by Dan Brown. I actually have read other books from him and think he's a great author. He has this way of making you believe everything he is writing about just might be real or true. Not sure how he does it - maybe by infusing the story with real-life details like street names in real cities, and historical facts that seem too amazing to be true but are. Whatever it is, I'm halfway through this book and totally hooked. I won't give away any of this story, but those of you who enjoy reading a good mystery will just love this one.


So that's my day in a nutshell. I'll spend some time tomorrow uploading the pictures from Thursday's night out - just like the last time I posted pics, they get increasingly blurry as the night goes on.

hope this post wasn't too weird - my only excuse is that I need to get adjusted to not having anything to do during the day. Pretty soon that will change though, as we get ready for the biiiig move...

anyway, off to BBQ some yummy steaks and baked potatoes and watch some hockey.

Friday, April 28, 2006

the decision...

okay, well after a lot of thinking, research and phone calls to London (thank God for their "free phones" - that's toll free to the rest of us) I accepted the position.

So it's LONDON BABY! to quote Joey Tribiani from Friends...

Needless to say this has been an interesting couple of days and jeremy and I are both still kinda absorbing the whole thing. Hard to believe that I'm saying goodbye to all of the great people I've met this year (tonight), and will soon be living in a foreign country.

At least they like Canadians over there.

more tomorrow - was our section 4 shindig tonight and since it is 2am i'm not going to try and write about anything else... need to go enjoy the effects of the many drinks ;)

good night

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

just when i thought i'd made a decision - a new offer on the table

Hi Melinda!

It was so lovely to speak to you!

Just a little email to let you know my email address- please don't hesitate to contact me for anything! I will always do my best to help you!

Have a good think on the Guaranteed work programme - its really super to be on it! Let me know as soon as you decide with all.

Have yourself a fantastic afternoon.

Chat soon!


So today the people from England called and offered me a job where I am guaranteed to work everyday (and if not I get paid as though I was working everyday) for a salary of 45000 British pounds a year. Confused about what that meant in Canadian dollars, I went to this currency converter website and recieved the shock of the month: approximately $91,000 dollars!!! Apparently they do not offer this to everybody - just a small group of employees are hired with this work agreement, and the rest work as supply teachers who get paid for the days worked, instead of a regular salary.

Okay, so I know it's not all abut the money or anything, but this much money for one year of teaching overseas is very hard to pass up. Plus the adventure of living in Europe for a couple of years (2 years is the maximum contract) and getting teaching experience. Add this to the fact that I'd have all of my debt from school paid off in 2 years and this offer has suddenly become very enticing.

This changes everything.

I'm going to have a drink and think about this. More later...

little post

I just realized that I failed to mention something...

Now that I'm done school I'm a REAL teacher (thanks for reminding me Kim!) and am now qualified to teach anywhere in Ontario!!!


okay, so i'm know this is kind of a "well duh" thing to say, but I wanted to see it in writing to remind me that my hard work did pay off for something good.

thanks to those of you who provided so much support this past year - it really meant a lot.... love you guys :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Here kitty kitty (part 2)

I'm bored already.

Can't believe how quickly it set in actually - I haven't even been out of school for 4 days now, and I already am looking for things to keep me busy.

There was a pretty nice thunderstorm the other night. After two glasses of wine, I took about 80 pictures on my camera phone (sony ericsson s710a for those who care) in an attempt to get a picture of lightning. This is HARD. Here are the results.

Nice huh? Three pictures that kinda show light in the sky and 77 pictures of blackness.

after the failure to capture any interesting pictures of lightning, I decided to try with a subject that was easier... my sleeping kitty. He of course woke up during his unconscious modeling, and decided to treat me with several yawns as he tried to smell / bite the camera.

Wow I hope I find something interesting to do soon.

On a different note, I'm in the process of calling school boards to follow up on applications. Keeping my fingers crossed here, while the thought of traveling to England is starting to look better and better. Is the easier path the best one???

Saturday, April 22, 2006

a walk in the park

Today Jeremy and I went for another long walk in our favourite park along the waterfront. There are several little parks around the city that are closer, but this one is just gorgeous.

This week the leaves on the trees started to open. It happened so suddenly - I was taken by surprise by the bright green colours on the way to school - and all week the city has just gotten greener. Tulips and daffodils are everywhere, and the grass is incredibly green already (probably due to the lack of really cold weather this winter).

Anyway, not a lot to say about today, I just wanted to post up the pictures taken from our walk. This is the best part about Windsor in my opinion, and I intend on spending as much time there as possible until we move.

Hope everybody else had a great day too and got to enjoy the warm weather.

in bed by 11pm, up at 8am - what a way to celebrate the end of the year!

Yesterday was great - the kids cheered for me, I got to teach music as my last lesson (which is fun even when it is recorders), I brought them outside to read our novels on the field, my associate teacher loved the plant and candle I got her, and she got me a wisdom angel. The principal made a thank-you announcement to all the student teachers, and at the end of the day, Dee (my associate) announced to the class that I was now a REAL teacher.

The day ended with some kids crying (emotional little 10 years olds... so cute), hugs from them all, and some of them wanting me to sign autographs. LOL As Anthony, my teaching partner, looked on and tried not to laugh, the children crowded around me for 10 minutes to get my initials written in marker on the backs of their hands. He'll get the same treatement next week for sure.

It was nice though - being treated as somebody special from all of these kids, many of whom I have kept in for recesses or had to miss gym or redo homework because of not getting their work done or misbehaving in class.
I was not easy on these kids - but I was fair, and I really tried my best to reach them in some way, tried to make an impression on them that as long as they work hard they can do anything in life.
Not kidding myself here- 3 weeks in a classroom does not change the world.
But, I hope that something I said will stick with some of them.

Anyway, I got an A+ for my final evaluation, and Dee gave me a great reference letter, telling me to offer her name as a telephone reference if I want to. This is always great, because people hiring teachers want references from other teachers. I now have 3 letters from associate teachers, and two of them have offered to be phone references.

Now I just need some interviews. Starting Monday, I am officially job hunting.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

yet another goodbye...

Tomorrow is my last day of school. Again. I can't believe that 8 months has passed by - the busiest time of my life for sure, but also the most rewarding. I thought it might be fun to put up the reflection that I included in my professional portfolio about the year and what I have learned. I've dropped out a few of the more dry parts - involving lesson plan writing and other administrative teacher stuff - so i don't bore those of you reading this.

At the beginning of this year, I felt sure of one thing: I wanted to be a teacher. I was raised by a mother who taught in the Sudbury Catholic elementary system for 35 years, retiring last June. I grew up around teachers, listening to stories about students and the politics that affect the education system. I taught piano to young children during high school, and tutored some children during university, and had even supply taught for a school in the Sudbury area. I also spent two years in the training department at my last job, teaching adults various technical training programs and eventually becoming a curriculum developer for the company. With all of these things behind me, I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to a bit of overconfidence when I started the year.

My first three practice teaching placements were in the primary grades; grade 3, a grade 1 / 2 split, and a Junior Kindergarten placement. Each class was most well-behaved and easy to work with, causing few problems, and allowing me to achieve many great teachable moments, and develop excellent rapports with teachers and students alike. Hours were spent taking observation notes, writing lesson plans and rubrics, unit plans, and brainstorming for ideas to make my students’ learning experience as enjoyable and interesting as possible. There were many positive experiences during this year: lessons going really well, making bulletin boards, notes sent home, extracurricular events, new gym activities, new songs, storytelling, and the list goes on.

My last group of students (30 in all) appeared at first to be a normal, spirited group of children. Quickly, this impression changed as background stories began to emerge: a mother that ran off, leaving a boy with his father and 4 brothers, a mother that passed away, a close family friend who passed away, students in foster care, and the list went on. Some of the backgrounds these students came from were so difficult and clearly had an impact on their performance at school.

Suddenly, my visions of working with 30 students and having fun with all sorts of great activities planned were replaced with the knowledge that most of my time was going to be spent just trying to manage the few in the class who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – get their work done. Staying in at recess, missing gym, having extra homework, lectures on responsibility – these became the reality of each day. At first, I felt regretful, and even guilty about having to be hard on these students – who are still children after all – but have now realized that they need the structure and discipline too. Surprisingly, the class quickly treated me with just as much respect as they treated my associate teacher. They realized that I was a tough but fair teacher who genuinely cared about their learning, and most of them worked hard to do what was expected of them.

Looking back on the school year, I feel like I have come a very long way. My lesson plans used to take hours to write, and now they take less than a half hour. I now have experienced consistently successful classroom management, and feel confident that I would be able to handle a class of students on my own. In addition, I would be able to develop effective long range plans (more than just units), but still be able to be flexible in my teaching. I learned that teachers often have to teach themselves before being able to teach their students, and that a back up plan is a must for any lesson.

Just like many other people who enter teacher’s college, I started the year with great expectations and looked forward to building relationships with students, having fun, and teaching them interesting things. I still look forward to all of these things, but finally understand that life often interferes with them. As a teacher, it is my responsibility to always be aware of where my students are coming from, and accommodate their individual needs as much as possible while still expecting the same effort and behavior from each member of the class. The profession I have chosen is not an easy one. There will be days when I don’t like my students and feel completely frustrated with a day not going anywhere near as planned. Sometimes there will be trouble with families, or something tragic will happen, or maybe I will be just having a bad day. In spite of all of these things – and maybe sometimes because of them – I choose to be a teacher. I accept the good things and the bad things because I have been privileged to experience some of each, and have tried my best to learn from everything that has happened so far. I believe more strongly than ever that a life dedicated to learning is one well spent.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

a lot to be thankful for... LONGEST BLOG EVER!!

Wow what a great weekend!! For everybody except our poor little Chase who had to stay home by himself. No worries though - he got lots of snuggling and treats when we got back home.

Well this weekend's traveling started out a little earlier than expected. We had planned on leaving Saturday morning, stopping briefly in London for a haircut and maybe coffee. With an intivation to come to London early and stay the night at Kim & Steve's place, we wound up leaving Windsor around dinnertime Friday.
The weekend started with a great visit with Kim & Steve, who had put Gordie to bed before we came over in hopes that he would sleep all night. He didn't. But we did have time to play the 90's Game (super fun), which I won this time. Apparently girls are better than boys at this one!!

The next morning, we met up with Ledawit, Addis, and Melissa at our favourite brunch place. For the Londoners reading this - if you haven't been to Archie's on Huron street they have an amazing breakfast buffet. It was even sweeter for me because we got this unexpected visit with our friends and I hadn't expected to see any of them for another few weeks. After a nice visit with everybody Jeremy needed to get a haircut, so I waited in the car with a book. Then we were on our way to Dunville.

Here are a few pictures we took along the Grand River, about 5 minutes from Jeremy's grandparent's place. Can't wait to go back this summer and spend some more time there.

When we got to Jeremy's grandparents' place, my parents were already there, so we kicked off our shoes and sweaters (the weather was unbelievably beautiful) and sat in their backyard drinking Cuban rum - courtesy of my parents trip to Cuba a month ago. Apparently everybody in our families decided to spoil the heck out of us for Easter. We came home with several bags of stuff: new clothes, pjs, chocolate bunnies, and all kinds of candy - enough to last the rest of the summer.

By the time Jeremy's parents, brother, aunt, uncle, cousins, and family friend Pat (more on her in a minute) were there, we were all feeling the rum and decided to dust off the bocce set. I should mention at this point that Jeremy's family - particularly his mom - are extremely competitive people. Card games, board games, and anything else often lead to name-calling, shouting matches, singing insults to each other, and some kind of victory dance. All of this is done with love, but at first it can be a little scary. I was a little worried about my parents as we picked the teams for the game, since both of them opted to play. Jeremy partnered with my mom, and my dad with Michaela, Jeremy's little cousin. While we definitely did a lot of shouting and cheering and name calling (all of the usual things), my parents fit right in - especially my father who had a lot of fun teasing Jeremy's mom whenever he was leading. She of course gave it right back to him - she's absolutely hilarious and will win most verbal battles with anybody.

Here are some of the pics I took during the game, with the victory pose by Jeremy's mom and grandfather. Apparently we could be heard down the street.

Maybe when people are really really bad at a game they just get louder to cover up for it. Since the only other people I've seen playing bocce were relatives of Dan (Italians who actually knew how to play the game) - I really don't have a lot of means for comparison.

Anyway, after the fun & games it was time for dinner. Since there were so many of us, we had to eat in two seperate rooms, winding up with the ladies upstairs and the mens downstairs ;)
According to the menfolk, we were a little noisy during suppertime, probably due to the vast amounts of homemade wine, and this little yellow bunny that was supposed to be part of the centerpiece on the table. (not attached to the wine bottle - he had his own cute little nest)

This is where the discussion of Pat comes in. She is a very close family friend who is more like family. Most 75 year old women I know aren't the types to go topless in the Dominican Republic, do handstands on the beach, or drink straight scotch for hours on end. As my mother tried not to stare, they started telling stories of the latest trip to the Dominican (where Pat evidently thought that drinking 11 scotches in an afternoon would help her to suddently be able to speak fluent Spanish).

This is the bunny "attacking" poor Pat after drinking a little too much homemade wine.

Those of you who don't know my parents - they are pretty conservative people. My dad used to drink and party, but then was diagnosed with Diabetes and now rarely drinks at all. My mom doesn't drink, smoke, stay up late, eat lots of bad food, or do anything else that is bad for you but oh so fun. Well she didn't used to anyway. Spending time with Jeremy's family has definitely loosened both of them up, probably also because my mother is now retired too and can afford to play more and stay up late.

It's so nice that our families get along so well. His family traveled north for Thanksgiving, and we split our time at Christmas. Then of course my parents came south for Easter. His grandparents have started spending several weeks up at the lake, living in the McGowan cottage next door (since after Jackie passed away they don't use it much anymore). Between May and October, they must have spent about 6 weeks up there.

We feel extremely lucky to be in this situation. While it's a pain when my mom and his grandmother (who's only 4 years older than her) decide to discuss how "great" it would be to have a wedding at the lake, it's kinda nice that they care. We keep reminding them that we're not engaged yet, and if they feel like paying for a wedding to let us know. That usually stops them...

Well this blog's getting super long - to sum up I'll just say that it was a perfect weekend with great weather and time spend with all of the people I love the most. Nothing better really.