• 26 Weeks* (And a Lady Bug Costume)

    I may look a little different now, but I’m still my Hubster’s Lady Bug Girl. You can read the story about the Lady Bug Costume and how we met here. :)

    How Far Along: 26 Weeks*
    Size of Baby: Eggplant
    Weight Gain: 16.5 pounds

    Movement: I’m beginning to be able to discern what her movements are, and it’s such a cool/bizarre/amazing feeling. I can tell the difference from when she is turning from when she is kicking, and based of where she’s hitting with her feet I have a good idea of how she’s positioned inside me. She’s been a bit of a singing frog for the Hubster though–she’ll kick and kick but as soon as I grab his hand to come and feel it, she stops. As she gets bigger I know he’ll have plenty of opportunities to feel her move, but I want him to be able to share in this experience too. :)

    Also, I can feel a bit of anxiety around her movements creeping in. Whenever I realize that I haven’t felt her move for a few hours I feel a bit anxious and hope she’s still okay in there. Then she gives me a little *poke* and I’m fine until the next paranoia-induced anxiety attack. haha

    Cravings: I needed McDonalds yesterday. Seriously. Unfortunately it was Sunday and I try to avoid shopping or eating out on said day. *sigh* I remedied the situation today. Crisis averted.

    Food Aversions: Nothing major that I can think of.

    Symptoms: More heartburn, and today my back is hurting like no other. I’m also finding that I’m getting winded more easily than I used to. It’s taking a little more effort to get up stairs, and I can’t walk as quickly as I used to. Bending to get socks on or shoes done up is still a constant battle, but thankfully I haven’t swollen at all and all my lovely shoes still fit. WIN.

    Baby Prep: My sister has been great and gave us two totes full of Pingo’s baby clothes in a variety of sizes. I love me some organization, so I spent a day organizing everything into piles by size, and I’m labeling bins to sort it all into. I have a vision for the wee-bean’s closet, and I’ll post a picture once it’s all finished!

    Things I’m Thinking About: I need to tell my work soon. Obviously the schools I work in regularly know, as does my rep from OSSFT (Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation), but I haven’t given official notice with my board. As I’m just an occasional teacher I don’t have to give the same notice that a permanent teacher would, it’s just something that’s been on my mind and I’d like to get it over with!

    The Crib. Still unsure what to do about this one. Our fabulous neighbours down the street have offered to loan us a crib, but it’s twenty years old. Everyone and their mother has been offering me advice about baby things, and the crib has been a hot topic. Help? haha

    Lastly, I am just two weeks away from the third trimester. How did this happen?! I am so excited to meet our little wee-bean, but at the same time I feel like time is going by SO fast and I’ll never have everything ready in time. *sigh*

    Well dears, it’s 9:26 and it’s past my bed time. I hope you’ve all the happiest of Halloweens!

  • Have I Killed my Curls?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair lately.

    I realize that that probably makes me sound incredibly shallow, but I can’t help it. I always hit a point where my hair has been in a similarish style for several months and I start thinking about ways I can change it up to make it more exciting.

    I went to Btown last weekend to see my family while the Hubster went camping. Spart had a hair appointment on Saturday, and since we have the same stylist, I decided to go with her to see if I could get my bangs trimmed at the same time. As the stylist started working with her hair, I felt old, familiar pangs of jealousy that I’ve been dealing with my whole life.

    You see, I’ve always felt like I got the short end of the stick when it comes to hair in my family. Both my sisters have amazing, red, curly hair–like stop in the street to stare amazing red hair.

    We a little bit like a Brady Bunch family in that we have an even split with the children in our family–three boys and three girls. Doodle is the oldest, then all three of us girls followed in succession. Peeah  is the oldest girl, and she ended up with huge, dark red curls:

    Next was Spart, and she too ended up with red curls:

    And then I came along, and I got neither the red hair or the big curls like my sisters. My hair is much more of a brownish auburn color, and while my hair is wavy, it doesn’t do nearly what both Peeah’s and Spart’s does.

    So, I’ve always been a little bit jealous. You always want what you don’t have, right?

    With some effort, I used to be able to scrunch it up and get some fun curly waves. I didn’t even own a straightener in the days before I met the Hubster when I lived on my own in The City. And while they aren’t the same big curls like my sisters, I used to love when I could get my hair to do this:

    And yes, I used to be a blonde:

    I was barely 19 – 20 in those photos, and that’s really the last time that I remember having really good curly hair. Not long after I got married I bought my first hair straightener and I’ve had one ever since. It didn’t even occur to me that straightening my hair every day could make me lose what little curl I did have. As time as passed I’ve noticed that when I did want to leave my hair curly, it just didn’t seem to have the same… oomph that it used to.

    So, as I was sitting in the salon with Spart this weekend the  stylist laughed as she noticed that her bangs don’t even curl anymore as she straightens them every day.

    And it hit me: have I killed my curls?

    I’ve been thinking about it since Saturday and the idea of it has made me quite sad. Then almost like she knew what I was thinking about, my friend Steph posted the most amazing curly hair tutorial on her blog last night.

    While my hair is currently much longer than what is shown in the tutorial, the way in which hers curls is very similar to mine–or at least the way it used to.If you’ve been following all my weekly belly photos, you’ll see my hair is straight in almost all of them. I’ve gotten in this habit of straightening my hair every day, even though it takes more time and effort than leaving it curly.

    So, I made a decision: for the next seven days I’m not going to straighten my hair.

    If that goes well, I’m not going to straighten it until Christmas.

    I started this morning. While I didn’t have the exact products she used, I had similar ones and followed through with what she said. I ended up with big, loose waves that I am actually loving.

    They’re not the curls I used to have, but I’m intrigued to see if I can make them come back. I did have to straighten my bangs a bit as they are so short right now, but as they grow a little longer I’ll stop that as well.

    I’m going out today to pick up the hair products she recommends in her post, and I’ll take regular photos to see if my hair changes at all over the next few days / weeks.

    Bring on the lion hair!

  • On Feeling Loved*

    As I was sitting here thinking about what I wanted to write tonight, inspiration literally knocked on my door.

    I’ve mentioned in the past how much I adore living in Pretty City. When we decided to move here two and a half years ago, I did so with a great deal of trepidation. It was not where I wanted to be.

    Or so I thought.

    From almost the first day we moved here I have loved everything about this city. It’s beautiful, we have everything we’d ever need at our fingertips, and most importantly–the people are wonderful.

    In the past several months we’ve been reminded time and time again just how wonderful the people we know here are. A few weeks ago we came home to find our lawn beautifully mowed by our neighbour. Shortly before that we woke up one morning to find out that our lawn had been “knifed” and I loved it.

    (I’m not sure if I blogged about that one, but the photo evidence can be seen here!)

    …and then there are the countless other acts of kindness and love we’ve experienced from the people we’ve met since moving here. Invitations for dinner, neighbours and friends helping with projects around the house, offers to help wherever possible and our lovely neighbours down the street even invited us to a pumpkin carving party this week and bought us a pumpkin.

    (Blurry, but that be a Pac Man punkin!)

    Seriously. Can you see why I love living here?

    So, tonight I was holed up in our office watching Hoarders working on important things when I heard someone knock loudly on our front door.

    I was already half in my jammies with an over sized sweat shirt on, and I am sure that I had chocolate stuck in my teeth from the brownies I just made.

    And ate.

    I seriously debated whether or not to answer the door, but as I was home alone I figured that maybe the Hubster had misplaced his keys so I ran down the stairs to open it.

    And of course by “ran” I mean pregnant waddled. Quickly.

    I opened the front door and there was no one there. My crazy brain immediately kicked in and I thought,

    “Oh no! This is how those awful horror movies always start!”

    I was about to be scared, and then I looked down and found this on my stoop:

    Seriously. How cute is that?! Check out the loot!

    Those are ghost-shaped cupcakes, spooky cookies (which may or may not have been eaten already. I admit nothing), some type of magical chocolate brownie and my favourite chocolate bars.

    I was hoping that the note on top would tell me who the thoughtful giver was, but instead I received a cute Hallowe’en poem:

    I have a sneaking suspicion about who may have left me and the wee-bean this perfect little plate of treats, but instead of outing them, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    I feel so spoiled.

    And loved. :)

  • 25 Weeks*

    How Far Along: 25 Weeks*
    Size of Baby: Rutabaga
    Weight Gain: 16 pounds

    Movement: Her movements have become more and more consistent and I love the way she dances in my belly. I find that she is much more active in the evenings, though she moves plenty if I sit in a way that restricts the space she has to dance and move. I like to think that it’s her way of being a bit sassy and telling me to get with the program and shift to a different position.

    Cravings: Nothing specific, but if you start talking about certain foods that I like I’ll need to eat them. Immediately.

    Food Aversions: Still eggs. And the smell of ground beef as it cooks makes me feel vomitous.

    Symptoms: Still a bit of heartburn, and I’ve noticed that my balance is a bit off. My center of gravity is obviously changing and and it actually feels a bit bizarre! Also, my feet suddenly seem to be impossible to reach. I am at war with shoe laces and avoid them at all cost. haha

    Baby Prep: The house is still slowly being filled up with stuff! I finally moved everything out of my living room and am slowly sorting it out in the spare room until we have the nursery ready. In order to make some space in there the Hubster set up our bassinet in our bedroom, and things are really starting to feel real! It’s hard to believe that in just over three months our little girl will be sleeping (or not sleeping… ha) in there.

    We’ve been asked by a few people about whether or not we’ve registered anywhere for the things we still need, and we haven’t made it that far… yet. The idea of a baby registry feels a bit weird to me, but I’ve been told it’s nice so people know what we’re looking for. Thoughts?

    Random News: We haven’t yet decided on a name, but there are two that we love and keep tossing back and forth. I don’t think I’ll be able to decide until I meet her. Both are older, uncommon names  and I love both of them. I guess I just feel like they each suit a specific personality, and I won’t know which one fits until I see her.

    I also feel like time is flying. I have 15(ish) weeks left in my pregnancy. FIFTEEN. How did this happen? I’m almost 6 months pregnant and am just shy of my third trimester.

    …didn’t I just find out that I was pregnant yesterday?

    Holy moly.

  • Surviving a Day of Substitute Teaching*

    A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about why I chose to become a teacher in Ontario.

    The truth is, in this current job market, it wasn’t a one-time choice. It’s a choice I continue to make every day.

    I choose to get up and wait each morning for a call to work, and on the days when the call doesn’t come, I choose to look at a day off as an opportunity or luxury that I wouldn’t otherwise have if I was working full-time.

    Really though, I know I’m pretty fortunate. The days that I do get calls far outnumber the days that I don’t. Sometimes I’m afraid to talk about it, because I know that in my board I’m very lucky. I still troll through that same Facebook Group and constantly see teachers complaining about the lack of work, and my region / school board has come up more than once as being notoriously difficult to survive in.

    I often feel guilty that I’m getting calls when others aren’t.

    I like to think that part of it is because some of the joy and passion that I expressed in my last post comes through my teaching style and interactions with staff and students.

    I like to think it’s because I work hard at what I do, and I like to think that it’s because I have more successful teaching days than failures.

    After posting my article, a friend commented on a reference I made to some of my “bad” days as a substitute teacher, wondering how I handle being in those situations when they do arise.

    Luckily for me, in the two years that I’ve been supply teaching, I can count the number of bad days I’ve had on one hand.

    Of course, my definition of a bad day might be a little different than most.

    Since beginning this career, I’ve been sworn at, had students walk out of class, had elastics thrown at me, had personal items stolen, been told that I am I am a terrible teacher, felt completely out of control and even had a student escape through a window.

    (Yes, that actually happened.)

    To someone outside this profession–or even to someone who has a full-time job and sees the same students in the same school each day–any or all of these may seem like a career deal breaker.

    So, why do I deal with it?

    Because I love it.

    I didn’t love those particular days, but I survived them. Over the last two years I’ve learned a few ways to get through the hard days so that they don’t cloud over the good ones.

    For starters, my job is all about picking battles. On any given day I’ll teach anywhere from 75 – 100 teenagers. Seventy-five tired, hormonal, stressed teenagers who often believe they already know everything that you could possibly have to teach them.

    Because I mean really, I’m just a supply teacher, right? What could I know?

    The moment I step into a classroom I have to command attention and control of the room. To these students, I’m just another supply teacher. I could be just like the one they had before, with whom they didn’t get along and disagreed with his/her methods of teaching.

    Some teachers like to enforce immediate silence.  Some like to start yelling or using props to command attention.

    I prefer to smile. I say hello to each student as they come through my door.

    And then I wait.

    You see, I’ve learned that the way that I begin my class is the most effective tool I have in my teaching arsenal. If I am on my game and don’t let anything from my personal life affect those first 30 seconds after the bell–exhaustion, stress, or whatever it may be–then it’s almost always going to be a good class.

    I also have to remember to be realistic. I work with teenagers. Teenagers who attract drama and gossip like flies to honey, and if I prevent them from having 30 seconds to greet each other and dish the latest news before beginning my class, they’ll just do it while I’m teaching instead.

    This lets them know one important thing: I’m not a robot.

    (To teenagers, becoming a human being in their eyes is a very important thing.)

    The trick is not to let it go on too long. Instead of shouting at the room to be quiet, I simply call out “Good Morning / Afternoon!” when I’m ready to begin. Most of the time, this makes someone laugh or smile and the class clown at the back of the room will inevitably respond with a hearty, “HELLO MISS”.

    I could say something about shouting in class or go the primary division route and remind them all about “indoor voices”, but again: it’s all about choosing battles. Instead I find it wildly more effective to stop everything and respond to the student with a laugh and say hello back. This immediately establishes that I have a sense of humor and again, am not a robot.

    Then I switch into business mode. I’m not someone who believes in introducing myself with a speech or going over a lengthy list of classroom rules at the beginning of class. Here’s a secret: they don’t care. Unless it’s a grade 12 class about to apply to university, they don’t care where you went to school, what your teachables are, or what your wishes and dreams are. They already know the classroom and school policies, even if they pretend they don’t. Instead, I give the class my name, power through the attendance and go over the agenda for the period with the class, which I always have written on the board.

    Then it’s straight to work.

    I usually let students chat quietly while they work, and circulate through the room to maintain crowd control. Would it be easier to sit at the front desk, demand silence and read a book while they work? Sure.

    But then I would miss out on the awesome opportunity of getting to know these students. While I circulate I stop at each desk and make comments about things I see–books they have chosen to read, essays they are writing, quotes they have written on their pencil cases, etc. I make an effort to help them understand the work their teacher has left them and help them be successful students.

    I do this because I believe it shows each students that I see them, and not just another group of kids I have to teach to get through the day. It helps me build relationships with them, even when it’s just for 76 minutes.

    It helps those students remember me, so that the next time I teach them, they are excited to have me back in the class.

    Of course, this method doesn’t work for everyone.

    Sometimes my cheery hello and attempts to get to know students while they work are met with resistance and anger. It’s in those moments that I have to remember that those negative emotions usually have nothing to do with me–I’m just the target at that given moment.

    Usually it’s a result of something going on with a friend, a parent, a teacher or some other authority figure, or most often it’s a lack of understanding in the material being taught.

    And that frustration comes out and is directed at me.

    Usually I can diffuse the situation with a little understanding, patience and sense of humor.

    Occasionally though, I’ll go through every idea I have and realize that there’s nothing that I can do. In that moment I have a decision to make: I have to evaluate whether or not the behavior of the student is affecting the learning experience of the other students in the room.

    Occasionally I have to do what I hate and contact the office for support.

    For me, this is a last resort and I only do it when I feel that I have exhausted every other option available to me.

    Want the truth? Some students will try out the behaviors just to see how far they can push you. They aren’t bad kids, they just are just used to pushing someone and meeting no resistance.

    For some of these kids, a trip to the office isn’t a punishment, it’s an opportunity to take a walk, check their cell phones and tell their vice principal that the supply teacher over reacted and they don’t really know why they’ve been sent there.

    Think back to your own high school experience: didn’t you push the borders a little with supply teachers too?

    So, using a curse word  in my class won’t get you a trip to the office. It’ll get you a stern look and a gentle reprimand, but not a trip out. I would only ever send a student out for swearing if the situation was extreme and the language and emotion behind the word was directed at another person.

    It’s all about choosing your battles, right?

    As far as throwing things goes, it happens. I’ve had paper, elastics and a host of other things “tossed in my general direction”.

    Again, for the most part they are just testing the water, and it’s amazing what a fierce look will do to quell the urge to throw something more than once in my class. I’ve only ever had one thing thrown at me with real intent, and I was in a special education classroom at the time so the circumstances were entirely different.

    …and thankfully their aim wasn’t great and the desk was too heavy to throw very far.

    All in all I’m happy to take the challenges with the good, as in my experience the challenges have been few. I could easily choose to focus on these hard days and complain, but then I know I’d miss out on all the other amazing students I encounter on a near-daily basis.

    I wouldn’t be able to get past the behaviors to see the struggling student underneath who just needs a break on the day that I’m there.

    And worst of all, I’d miss out on the joy this profession can offer. I’d miss out on being able to teach, even if it is while I have an elastic thrown at me.

    So, I choose to take each day at a time, and leave the emotions associated with a challenging class at the door when I leave each day.

    I remember that I chose to become a teacher for a reason, and that even though I’ll have days where I may question that, the good will always outweigh the bad.

    And lastly, here’s my biggest secret to surviving life as a substitute teacher– on those days when things just don’t seem to be going my way, I channel a little Anne of Green Gables:

    “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it. (yet.)”

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