• The Search for Nancy Drew*

    (via: http://tiny.cc/lk0jw)

    I’ve always been a a voracious reader.

    It makes me laugh to see old family videos where in the midst of family playroom chaos, I am sitting on the floor with a pile of books, absolutely oblivious to the fact that my brothers are yelling and throwing things around me.

    I don’t just read books, I get lost in them. For example, I just finished reading Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed. I could not put it down. It was the kind of book that made me want to whip it out to read a few paragraphs between classes, wish my lunch break were longer and keep me up until the wee hours of the morning, completely enraptured by the story. (It also happens to be this month’s book club book.)

    I’ve always been like that with a good book. I’m sure that’s why my eyesight is so terrible–I read so much as a child, and secretly reading under the covers after bedtime by the light of a Gloworm can’t be good for the eyes.

    In our old house in the Great White North we had an enclosed front porch. On one wall of that porch was a large, white bookshelf that was absolutely packed with books. And that, my lovelies, is where I fell in love with Nancy Drew.

    When my mom was little she was a huge Nancy Drew fan. She owned a huge chunk of the original series of 56 books, and as I began reading them she helped fill in the gaps through birthday and Christmas presents. I have read and loved every single one of the original books, and I hope to someday pass that love onto my own daughter.

    A little while ago I learned that my mom had given all our Nancy Drew books to Peeah, to put into Princess Piper’s nursery for when she gets a little older. I can’t lie, I was a little miffed. I know Peeah also read many of them when she was younger, but I’ve always thought of those books as my own and wanted to have the series for my little girl. Peeah just beat me to it.

    However, I’m done being sad. It’s absolutely fair for her to have them, and it gives me a wonderful new challenge: building my own set. I also don’t want just any books, I want old, loved copies–either the original blue covers,

    (via: http://tiny.cc/vqr76)

    or the second edition yellow covered books.

    (via: http://tiny.cc/v07dd)

    None of those new plastic-looking ones, please.

    I guess I just feel like Nancy should be a part of every little girl’s childhood. It’s such a wonderful series–I think almost every woman has read at least one at some point in her life.

    So, I’ve been hunting at yard sales and thrift stores and I have five so far. I’m actually really excited about this new collection–I love a challenge and I’m determined to find them all!

    Did Nancy Drew solve any mysteries in your childhood?

  • Office Space*

    (via: http://tiny.cc/2m584)

    While at home celebrating Big Dad’s birthday this weekend, I introduced my parents to Hoarders. I’m slightly addicted to the show, and every time I watch it I feel the need to purge and clean. It can be quite motivating.

    I hate when things are cluttered… it makes me feel like I can’t function in a space. However, when I get busy (or lazy) things keep building up and I find myself surrounded in it.

    How does this happen?

    My desk is a magnet for clutter. Actually, our whole office is. When we lived in Senior’s City, the Hubster and I had our desks in separate rooms. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to have them together, it just made the most sense “space-wise” as we only had a one-bedroom apartment.

    When we moved into our two-bedroom to Pretty City last spring, we decided to make our second bedroom an office. As a software / computer guy, the Hubster needs to have a desk / work station to work and relax. As a teacher / blogger, I also have loved having my own big desk to fill with my books and other personal junk. So, each having our own desk is amazing, but it also takes up quite a bit of space. Hence the need for an “office”.

    However, as we downsized when we moved here (even though moving from a one bedroom apartment into a two bedroom apartment sounds like it would be bigger) I feel like I’m continually trying to find places to “hide things” and our office becomes our catch-all.

    If the living room isn’t tidy and I know someone is coming over but won’t have time to properly put everything away, it all goes into the office, and half of the time it ends up somewhere on my desk.

    In fact, until earlier this evening (when I forced myself to clear it off) there was so much crap piled onto one side of my desk that I couldn’t even access my keyboard.

    The sad thing? It’s been like that for over a week.

    It’s not that I don’t want to put it away, I just don’t feel like I have the space to do it. I’m constantly rearranging things trying to make them fit when all I desperately want is the IKEA commercial guy to come over, wave a magic wand and organize my office space for me. I need a clear desk so that I can write without trying to uncover my keyboard every time.

    I find it impossible to blog when my space is cluttered.

    I cannot wait for the day when we buy our first home and I can really organize a work space.I’m not quite sure how I’ll do it, but this is my dream:

    1) Teacher space. While supply teaching is all kinds of fun, my real goal is to land full-time employment. And while I have next to no paperwork and books right now, I know that with a real job comes all kinds of things I’ll need space for–from curriculum documents, to novels for English courses and planning binders for every course I teach. I’d  LOVE to have a set of shelves and space just for all my teacher stuff. I’d also probably need a little filing cabinet.

    2) Writing Space. I need a clear, clutter free, distraction free space to write. My dream for this is an organized desk that I can simply sit down at and write whenever I feel inspired. I get urges to blog at the most random times, and right now I feel like every time I get the urge to write, by the time I’ve cleared off enough space to do so, I’ve lost the desire. I hate it.

    3) Craft Space. Did I mention that I’ve started crafting a little bit?  I will be posting photos of what I’m making on my Facebook page, so watch for that. :) I would love a space where I could access everything I needed easily on shelves nearby, without having to transition from teacher-space to craft-space. For this one I may eventually need a separate little table or crafting nook… I have so many ideas!

    Someday I’ll have the best office ever. I really do love organizing, I just prefer it when I have the space and tools / equipment to do so.

    What does your dream office space look like?

  • I Love My Job*

    (via: http://tiny.cc/p1sus)

    One of the things I love most about being a substitute teacher is the complete unpredictability of the job. When I step foot into a school in the morning, I have absolutely no idea where I’ll end up.

    Oh, the dispatch callers who give you the assignments will tell you which department a particular teacher is assigned to, but that often doesn’t mean anything. I could get a call to be in for an English teacher and end up teaching computers, or a call for special education, and end up teaching science.

    Today was one such example.

    On Friday night I went out for dinner with a couple of my girlfriends, and while I was out dispatch called and left a teaching assignment for Monday with the Hubster. It was the first time that I had been assigned to officially cover two teachers at the same school on the same day. I often cover “on-calls”, but that’s usually just covering a single period for a teacher who is out for a meeting or something, and it’s usually in the cafeteria.

    The assignment for today was Business in the morning, and Geography in the afternoon. I was really surprised by the Geo assignment (it’s not one of my teachables) but I thought it could be fun. I love being in classes I haven’t taught before–it’s a great introduction to the many courses and subjects taught in the Ontario Curriculum. You barely get a taste in teacher’s college placements, so this is fabulous!

    In a lot of ways, I think substitute teaching is a lot like acting. If you are assigned a class that you have a) never taught before; and b) have no idea how to teach it; because c) you don’t understand any of the course content you have to sort of… fake it. Letting on that you have absolutely no idea how to do the work your students are doing can be a very dangerous thing–students love to take advantage of a teacher that isn’t in their element. So while I never hesitate to admit to students what my core teachables are (if they ask), I also try to appear comfortable in whatever subject I’m in.

    Take today, for example. My morning assignment was: Business. I usually teach the computer / tech end of the business courses where I’m quite comfortable. Today “business” turned out to be “Financial Accounting”.

    Have I mentioned how much I loathe numbers and anything math-related? The only numbers I’ve ever been competent with are page numbers. In books. I like books.

    Lucky for me, the assignment today was quite challenging and several students required help. Fake it until I make it, right? I had two choices: 1) Help them and most likely send them down the wrong path (my history with math / numbers is not pretty); or 2) Get creative.

    Instead of letting on that I had no idea how to do their assignment, I encouraged them to get creative and solve their problems together. I had the class asking each other how to get through parts they didn’t understand and I just facilitated the discussion. Thanks to a few bright students who caught on to the work immediately, the whole class plowed through and I didn’t have to look like a bumbling idiot. WIN.

    My second period was a “prep” period. I was originally supposed to go down to the library and help out, but the office called and said it wasn’t necessary, so I had 75 glorious minutes to quietly read my new book that I absolutely cannot put down. It was so lovely. Did I mention that I get paid to read? :)

    After lunch I switched teachers and was supposed to be teaching geography. In this instance, “geography” meant Environmental Science, yet another course I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of teaching. This material was a little easier to navigate my way through (there were no numbers involved) and I was actually able to teach the material and explain the assignment in a way the kids understood. WIN. (again)

    Now, my fourth period was also slated as a prep period (two preps in one day? AMAZING) but the office mentioned that another teacher was out and I offered to cover the class during my last period.

    At the time I didn’t realize that it was a grade 12 boys gym glass. Ha.

    Grade 12 boys are a lot taller than I remember. They all towered over me, but I used my “I’m a teacher! Listen to me!” voice and got them organized into four basketball teams and passed the period uneventfully. It was actually kind of fun…

    …that one time. I think I’m done with boys gym.(I was ready to sit them down and talk to them about the joys of deodorant, but time ran out. Oh well.)

    Anyway, it was a full, busy hodge podge day and I loved it.

    Who knows where I’ll be tomorrow? Based on today’s randomness, I’m guessing… auto tech. haha

  • Boys Will Be Boys*

    (via: http://tinyurl.com/37j9dcv)

    Today is a perfect blogging day–it’s a cold, rainy grey day and I feel so warm and cozy in our little home.  I haven’t gone outside at all yet, I’ve just been watching the rain stream down my windows, somewhat thankful that I didn’t have to be out driving to a school in all the muck.

    After a long summer vacation working at the crap part-time job (which I don’t miss at all, in case you were wondering) I’m teaching again. The calls aren’t as steady as I’d like them to be, but then again, I really didn’t expect to get much work as a substitute teacher in the first two weeks of school. I’ve just been thankful to have any!

    My first day back was last Friday, and it was the perfect start to the year. The school I was called to was at one of the furthest edges of the board, but it was a beautiful country drive and the community is close-knit and lovely. I taught grade 11 & 12 Business all day and it was glorious. It’s not even one of my core subjects but I love teaching it.

    The kids were also hilarious. Here were two of my favourite moments of the day:

    I am not a “sitter” when I teach. I like to make rounds and see where my students are at in their work so I can pace my teaching. As I walked past a particular students’ desk, I eyed a blank page where answers should be. I should also note that I am sometimes a tiny bit sarcastic with my students, but never in a mean way and always with a smile.

    Me: “What a beautiful sheet of lined paper! Are you saving this one for something?”

    Boy: “…what do you mean?”

    Me: “Well, I just assumed that since you hadn’t written anything down yet that this particular piece of paper must hold some great value to you.”

    Boy (chuckling): “No Miss, I am just a great procrastinator. I know you can’t know that because you’re new, but I’ve already taken this course and I don’t feel like doing my work.”

    Me: “Ahhh… well, unfortunately, sometimes in this life we all have to do things we may not want to do.”

    Boy: “That’s true, but I think I could live with out this… but you wouldn’t understand. You don’t look like a procrastinator.”

    Me: “Well, I hate to have to tell you, but I was you in high school! I left everything to the last minute and was quite proud of my procrastinator status even into university.”

    Boy: “Get out. I don’t believe it!”

    Me: “Yup, but then one day I figured out that procrastinating work didn’t hurt anybody but myself, and, well, here I am. Now I get to be the boss and tell you what to do.”

    Boy: “Hallelujah! There IS hope for me!”

    I laughed out loud, and he proceeded to do all his work.


    In another class, students had to complete a less than exciting period of reading text book chapters and completing corresponding questions. As I circulated through the class to try and keep them motivated and on task, I noticed another group of chatty boys in the corner, who were obviously annoying the female students in front of them with their noise. I walked over to try and diffuse the situation.

    Me: “How are the questions coming along?”

    Boy #1: “Oh, they are great questions, Miss. We just don’t feel like answering them. Haha!”

    Me: “Hmm… well, that’s unfortunate, but your teacher did leave me explicit instructions that they needed to be done in class as the books can’t go home and he is collecting them on Monday. So, you may want to try and get them done now, then visit after.”

    Boy #2 (with a deadpan serious face): “Miss, you have the wisdom of Solomon.”

    Me (trying desperately not to laugh): “Why thank you. If you do your work you’ll be wise too.”

    Boy #1: “Maybe we just need a little motivation, Miss.”

    Me (wary): “What kind of motiviation?”

    Boy #1: “If we promise to do ALL our work, will you come to the fair tomorrow?”

    Me (laughing): “What?? What fair? What does that have to do with international business?”

    Boy #1: “Nothing, but it’s a fun fair and we want you to come. I’m not going to do any work unless you promise to come.”

    Me: “I’ll tell you what–do all your work, and then you can tell me about this fair.”

    Boy #1: “REALLY? You’d come?????”

    Me: “Do your work.”

    The boys all started laughing but started working and racing through the questions like a fire had been lit underneath them. The girls in front of them gave me a grateful gaze to have a couple of minutes of quiet.

    (I didn’t go to the fair, even though they did do their work. I’m a bad teacher. haha)


    Oh, little boys.

    I’ve only had one other half day this week, teaching English and Special Education, and tomorrow I head back to the country school for an afternoon of English and History.

    It’s SO nice to be back in the classroom… I love teaching, and not just for great professional clothes or the funny stories. My practicum adviser once told me that I had a gift for asking questions while I teach–he loved how I ask things in a way that draws out more than just surface answers and allows my students to make connections with things they’ve learned. That really meant a lot to me–I try hard to make sure that my students are understanding the material I’m teaching, and ask questions throughout to actively engage them in the teaching process.

    For me, teaching is everything. I never thought that I could enjoy a profession so much. I cannot wait to have a classroom of my own, even though supply teaching is all kinds of fun. (Did I mention that I got to watch Remember the Titans on Tuesday? And that I was paid for it? haha)

    I hope that the calls start pouring in… fingers crossed!

  • Unplugged*

    Jason Howard & Carmen Cusack (via: http://www.where.ca/travel/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/South-Pacific-Jason-Howard-.jpg)

    I’ve spent the last week or so trying to be a little more “unplugged” than I usually am.

    Sometimes I feel like I am so connected to my computer that I forget that there is a great big world away from it.  So, I’ve been making conscious decisions to reduce my time spent at my desk and to be more active. Considering that I am once again completely addicted to the Alias series this has been no easy task, but here’s where I’ve been for the last 10 days or so:

    Running —  I’ve been trying to run 4 –  5 times per week since the beginning of August. Last week I finally accomplished my goal of completing a 10 kilometer run (6.2 mi) and I’m still training for my race in two weeks. Last week the weather was not my friend–running in 40°C is not my favourite, nor was drastic switch to freezing temperatures over the weekend. However, tomorrow I am jumping back in the saddle.

    Visiting Family — Of the last 14 days I’ve been away for 7 of them. I spent last weekend celebrating Spart’s 28th birthday and Princess Pea’s first birthday with my family and it was a marvelous party. Peeah planned a beautiful Princess celebration and I cannot believe that my niece is a year old. She is completely and utterly perfect. She is toddling / running all over the place and is slowly adding words to her vocabulary. My favourites so far are “Wassat?” (what’s that?) and “Hi Da!” (Hi Dad). She can also say “Hi Kitty”, but not “Hi Mom”. It’s adorable.

    This past weekend Mom, Dad, Spart and I made the long trek north to visit Grammy. It was so lovely to be back–even though it’s been years since I lived there and many of my best friends are gone now, it always feels like home. The weather was FREEZING, but even that was somehow comforting. It wouldn’t feel like the Great White North if the weather wasn’t crap. :)

    Dating — As you know, the Hubster and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Last Thursday the Hubster and I got all dressed up and rushed into The City to see South Pacific–his anniversary gift to me. (If you don’t know about my love for musicals, then you don’t know me. haha) I love love love the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals. I own all the films. I know all the songs by heart, but sure–I have my favourites. I’ve always enjoyed South Pacific, but I have to be honest–it wasn’t my favourite.

    …until I saw it live.

    I have no words. When I saw The Sound of Music live I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t blown away. If I’m being honest here, I preferred the film. I don’t think anyone but Christopher Plummer could ever be Captain Von Trapp for me. But South Pacific… ohhh. If you ever have the opportunity to see it live, you HAVE to go. I was blown away. The live show is a completely different experience and I have completely fallen in love with this musical.

    Other than that, I’ve been reading, organizing, cleaning and getting myself ready for the school year. It really did feel nice to take a breather, but I’m ready to jump back into a teaching  / blogging / life routine with both feet. :)

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