Celebration 1

I would like to announce that the Inquiry project I had to complete is finished.
The band will be playing for the next half hour. Everybody dance.
(thanks to Gwen-Gwen on flickr for the image)

Where I Slowly Turn Into a Lunatic

You'd think I'd learn. You'd wonder how J managed to ever find to actually meet me and date me and propose and all that good stuff. Why is it that I seem to be happier when my life is careening out of control and I've over committed and taken on too many projects? So Friday I did a training session with JR. It went well. At the end, we were talking about the upcoming week, and the following Friday's training session (for which I went to facilitator training on Monday), and she asked me if I was going to the webcast Thursday morning. The numeracy webcast email had crossed my desk a couple of weeks ago with the note, "Please attend if you can." Well, it was during a teaching day, I was already going to be out once that week, so I decided I couldn't attend. Apparantly, that was the wrong answer. So Friday afternoon at 3:30, I started making phone calls to see if I could still register for a webconference that was happening in less than a week, I hadn't done the tech training for, and that registration had closed on 10 days previously. I managed to get in. Looking at the slides and handouts I printed today, it should even be really good. But it was one more thing. After getting that straightened away, I moved on to my project for the course I want in March. I can apply for the course, but I'm not eligible until someone signs off on my project. The project that is an elephant in the corner of my life because it's huge and needs to happen and I don't want to think about it. Yeah...I was told (to the best of my recollection) that I could start the course without being 100% totally finished. I was apparantly misinformed. I now need to churn out an article study that is to last 8 weeks with handouts, guiding questions and whatnot between now and February 14. Not to mention the research component. Or the reflective journals. I have titles and jotted notes, but no real reflections that show I'm learning and growing. Stupid educational system. My new goal is to have the thing well in hand (read: ready to be shown to JR, needing only edits) by Family Day weekend. I have a fortnight. My math course, thank goodness is winding down. I went last night. It was a great class: half the people were at a technology session. We could have real discussion. The instructor was handing back the papers we wrote before Christmas. Well, except for mine. She can't get it to print. All I really want is the mark. But she won't mark it until I give her a hard copy in 2 weeks time. They're both total snores. I'm much happier with the projects for this side of the holiday: a short inquiry study (which I rocked, if I do say so myself) and a summative 3 part lesson. They're due next Tuesday. I have no idea what to do for my summative. I would love to write a reflection on what I've learned. That would be way more valuable. Or to continue with what I'm doing right now with algebra tiles (you know you want to look them up. Try here: http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_189_g_4_t_2.html?open=activities&from=category_g_4_t_2.html ) My kids love them. They're doing such great stuff right now. But back to the point, I need to be done by Tuesday. Guess what I'm going to try and do tomorrow afternoon? Crank both out so I can go back to this evil project. Now, thankfully, J doesn't seem neglected. We're happy, but he's in crisis mode himself, and sometimes I question whether or not I get to be the one who whines. Perhaps that's what the blog is for.

A Quick Announcement

For some of you, this will be TMI. But I need to tell someone. In the short time that I have been married, Aunt Flo has joined us for the wedding, J's birthday, my birthday (yay for being born approximately 4 weeks apart) and New Year's. If she shows up just as we're leaving for the romantic weekend we just booked over the Family day weekend at Niagara Falls; there will be a great wailing, crying, and gnashing of teeth. I'm sure J will be sorry as well. That is all. Return to your weekend.


I really don't know what to post about. There are so many possibilities.

  1. We got J mended just in time for the house to start falling apart. We have a leak, a spreading stain in the back bedroom, peeling wallpaper, and a crack in the wall. We are also expecting the plumber around 8 Monday to change out a length of galvanized pipe in the basement. J is also supposed to be getting the name of a painter who will be coming to fix the back room and paint the hall/stairs. I'm gonna be poor soon.
  2. I'm still shopping for car insurance, although I have chosen the winner. I am not fond of the hard sell, and I got one yesterday. Insurance people need to be agressive. I do understand that. I just don't make snap decisions, especially when other people start telling me how to spend my money.
  3. I had the drive from hell Tuesday night coming home from my class. It took me almost 3 hours. I have never been as scared behind the wheel as I was then. Black ice is evil, closed roads are annoying, and freezing windshield washer fluid when you really need it is curse inducing. There are only 6 classes left. I can hardly wait to be done.
  4. My slippers are dying. I was trying to figure out the other night how J was managing to leave a wake of little white plastic things on the carpet in the living room. Then I kicked my slippers off and realized it was me: the soles are disintegrating. I can't find anything as fun as my white beaded butterfly slippers. Especially not when I bought them at a Beall's outlet in Florida on March Break for $4. It's making me very sad.
  5. In a true sad way, I seem to have a lot of friends at the moment that are going through rocky things: job loss, illness, marriage breakup and the like. I'm starting to wonder how you stay strong through it all. Currently, I'm not sure I'd notice if anything like that happened to me: all I do is work.
  6. Speaking of work, I love winter when the blind kids go out to swing on a bitingly cold day with their hat pulled down to their collar. They just look like they're off to look for a horse so they can go scare Ichabod Crane. Always makes me laugh.
  7. Finally, I'm not looking for a job, but I'm looking around. That kind of brings me down too. I love what I do, but I'm tired. The kids are great, I enjoy my classes with the exception of Advanced Study Hall, but I keep thinking that there has to be more out there. The problem is, if someone offered me carte blanche the chance to do anything in education next year, I'm not sure what I'd do. So we wait.

In the Heart of the City

Based on J's eyesight, we will always live in town. Not that I have ever had any grandiose dreams to live in the country with a whole lot of property to look after and neighbours a long ways away, but it isn't going to happen. We need to be within decent distance of public transportation so that he can get around when I'm working and so on. In one way, being the only possible liscenced driver in the house for a good long time has financial benefits as well as drawbacks. I can't send J to the store when I need something. He can't pick up the dry cleaning on his way home. I can't sleep if I'm tired and we're on our way back from seeing family. But we don't need a 2 car garage, to fuel 2 engines, or pay for insurance for the 2 of us. I'm currently working on finding cheaper car insurance. I had quite the arguement with the girl on the phone the other night about how I could be married and not need to put my husband on the policy. Apparantly, my saying, "He's legally blind. He's not allowed to drive a car," didn't convince her. Whatever. Back to my main point. We need to live in town. The problem with living in town? Neighbours. We have really great people across the street. And the 86 year old on one side of us? A lovely woman we don't see much of from November to April. 2 doors down? Another lovely couple. He teaches guitar and she works at my bank. We wave to each other when we're leaving for work about the same time. But the other side of us? That's another story. When I moved in 4 years ago, I was told that my neighbour really keeps to herself, and that she probably wouldn't talk to me. I'd tried smiling and saying hello once or twice, but was met with a stony stare and a turned back. Yep, living next to the neighbourhood recluse. She keeps her house in good repair, mows her lawn, is fanatical about snow removal (I yearn to be able to clean a driveway with her precision, but don't have the patience) albeit her need to remove snow at 5:45 AM on a workday is a bit extreme. She scrapes the concrete clean of any bit of snow that was ever there. When I broke my wrist the first year I lived here, people dropped me off in her driveway, seeing as mine was full of snow. They did until she started parking her van so that you couldn't pull in to let me out. When I painted the back porch 3 years ago, I had a bit of a run in with her. Stray paint chips fell on her driveway as I scraped. She didn't like the colour I chose, despite the fact that it was a slightly lighter colour of what had previously been there. My trees were killing her lawn. I didn't do anything about the weeds in the patio (I'll give her this one. I hadn't yet that season. It was May) When I phoned my folks after she actually talked to me, my father stopped encouraging any interaction with her "just in case I needed something", and encouraged me to get to know my other neighbours. And so it has been ever since. In other news, we decided to fire the cleaning lady. It's been an ongoing problem thing, with her moving things, wanting to "take care" of us, and J's conviction that she's a little obsessed with me. Plus, we figure that there are lots of other good uses for that money right now. So I was the lucky person that got to phone and tell the cleaning lady that her services were no longer required. When I did, she wanted me to know that I lived next door to a very nasty woman. Apparantly, the cleaning lady was out on the porch beating the kitchen rugs when my neighbour found it necessary to come out and tell the cleaning lady exactly what she thought of me. We're not sure if this woman is even aware that J lives here too. He was never mentioned. According to my neighbour, I'm lazy and rich. She does her own yard work and house work, and I should too. That and I'm made of money, and my cleaning lady should charge me more and "rob me blind" because that's what I deserve. J says she's jealous. I say I can spend money any way I darn well want, and it's easier to spend the money and get the lawn cut and the housework done than it is to feel guilty about not doing those things. I guess I just don't understand how anyone can be so spiteful when I've done nothing to incur that wrath. I think I'd like to be a Pythonesque recluse: close enough to say hello, but be by myself most of the time.

Where I Learn that what My Course Teaches is Worthwhile

So I've been taking this math course for ages. It seems like years, desipte the fact that I know it's not. 7 more weeks is the longest amount of time ever. But yeah, back to the point. So I'm taking this course, and we talk a lot about discovery and constructing learning; as in, "students should construct their own learning through the discovery process". What this really means is that textbooks are evil, and I should spend even more time thinking of engaging lessons for my kids so that they can learn. Which makes sense. This is how you learn as an adult. You need/want to learn something, you look at the pictures and give it a shot. This is how I installed my first light fixture. But it's darn simple to flip the page and discover where exactly we're going next the day before the students do. (I'm not saying this is what I do for my classes. I only teach 1 course that even has a textbook. I'm just saying there are teachers out there who ascribe to this philosophy...and I used it myself the year I taught Science.) So I have 2 assignments left for this course, and the current addition to my workload is an inquiry project into something in Grade 9 Applied Math. My question is, "Does instruction using algebra tiles improve the strategic competence of students for factoring variable equations?" (The answer is yes, for those of you who are reeeeally wondering) I pulled out the tiles today with my 9s, and we sat down and went to work. After reviewing which were negatives and which were positives, and representing different equations, we had 5 minutes left. This in and of itself was a miracle, since I'm usually scrambling at the end of the class to make sure everyone knows what exactly is going on. I really didn't want to get into something that was going to take more time so I gave my class a treat: they all made me pictures using their algebra tiles: houses with swimming pools, flowers, ladybugs. It was fun to watch them so intent on their building. But the best part? At the end of the class, they all wanted to know if we could use the tiles again tomorrow. That made my day. Even though I know they're only in it for the pictures.

Things I Have Learned in the Last 2 Months Since Posting

1. I am too busy for words. 2. You can live with 2.5 feet less of your colon. J is proof of this. Yes, the surgery was successful. 3. I like it when my husband is working and not home all the time. Yay tomorrow when he goes back to work. 4. Wii is freaking fun. We played over Christmas at my sister in law's. My mother in law kept bowling strikes. Go figure. 5. AQ courses are meant for people fresh out of teacher's college. I can hardly wait until it's finished - despite the fact that I'm actually starting another course hot on the heels of the first one. 6. While I like my job, I want to do something different. If only I were qualified. 7. While I love having a cleaning lady, firing ours was one of the best decisions we made over the holidays. 8. I am less squeamish than I thought I was - I was the dressing changer for J's incision when he came home from the hospital with 32 staples still in him. They'd removed half before he left. 9. I am not interested in the drinking habits of others, especially if I am taking a $1000 course (see #5) 10. I've missed posting. I'm just hoping that I can come up with the time to do more of this.