Added Bonus – More Photos

I captured these shots of a Hummingbird today.  I also love the way the rain shows in a few of the pictures.

I’m sorry for those on dial-up, I did not shrink the pictures because I did not want to lose any of the details.

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I now have it so you can click on the picture to see if bigger.  Sorry still, I chose to upload these in their full size files, I just didn’t want to lose any of the quality.

Categories: Home, Me and My Camera, Outdoor Life

Photo Friday – A New School Year Begins

I had the post written to be posted Friday, but couldn’t get the pictures posted in time…

I am starting to get back into the swing of things and knowing what day of the week it is.  It is funny how something as simple as that can be lost when you don’t really have a regular schedule going on.  Albeit, it was only in the last week or two of summer vacation that I started to really lose track of time and day.  I’ll also admit that one of the ways I keep track of whether it is weekend or weekday (other than the obvious, is Hubby at work or home, you’d think that would be enough) is whether or not my soap opera is on.  Don’t judge me, I have been watching Days of Our Lives for the better part of 22 years and I can’t help myself.

I’m starting to ramble, shocking I know!  Allow me to get myself back on track.  I went into the school yesterday to start setting up for the school year.  Since we have PD days and board holidays the week before Labour Day I wanted to get a head start.  Actually, this year for the first time ever I am staying in the same room so I am already leaps and bounds ahead of where I normally am at this point.

I want to use today’s post to show you around my room.  My beautiful, clean, yet to be trashed by the students classroom.  It is not completely set up, I will spend some time puttering around next week doing the finishing touches, but this is pretty much it.  One last look at clean and tidy, shiny and organized.

Sorry Lindsey (second call out this week!) the pictures I mentioned over tea, well, I am going to wait until next week for those.  This just seemed to call to me.

Update: before I post the pictures I must tell you that I jinxed myself by writing this Thursday night.  Up on arriving at school Friday this is what greeted me in my classroom (and two other classes and the staffroom).

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Who needs air conditioning when it comes built into the window.

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Here’s what it looked like when I left.  What you can’t see is that the window behind the screen, not only has the wood to hold it closed, they are also screwed shut.

Yes, this is annoying!  Especially since I have not been a target for years (not that who ever it was was targeting me, but i simply haven’t had windows broken).  There is also glass through about my nicely cleaned room.

On to the rest of the room…

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I do not have many traditional desks in my room.  When they earn it, I have an open seating plan (except when there is a supply teacher. I’m not that mean!)
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My students also do not store their belongings in a desk (since most of the desks won’t let them).  The magazine box is their “desk.”  If it doesn’t fit in there, it doesn’t need to be in the room!  This saves tons of time in the desk cleaning activity and lost work.

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What you don’t see from the pictures I have taken are: my desk (it is still a mess, look closely at the first non-window picture and you can see it in the corner), my NASCAR posters (of course I bring it into the classroom!) and the SmartBoard.  After the mess with the windows I thought I’d better wait until they were replaced before I brought the rest of the computer items is.  The desks are layed out the was the custodians left them after they cleaned (thank you, it looks wonderful) and I like what they did.  I will however, likely turn everything 90 degrees once I bring in the SmartBoard.

I was hoping to be done set-up but the curve ball means I didn’t get everything done that I would have liked.  One more part day and I will be done.

Sorry, if this wasn’t the most thrilling Photo Friday for you…I will try better next week. :)

Categories: Crazy Stuff, Photo Friday, School

Hello My Name Is Amanda And I Am Addicted To Books.

Exhibit A – This is the pile of unread books along the wall, beside my bed.  Quite the variety of reading material, if I do say so myself.

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Exhibit B – My night stand, which for the most part is two rows deep.

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Exhibit C – The basket that started it all.  I started putting books to be read in here and they just don’t fit anymore.

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I love books.  I love going to book stores and looking around, usually buying, but not always (honestly Honey, I don’t always buy a book!). I come by this honestly – my father has more books that I can count, most of which have never been read (he was waiting for retirement, although now that he knows about the internet I’m not sure how the reading is really going).  It drove my mother nuts while I was growing up.  If I’m honest, it still does.  One of my best friends, Gelfling* has bought enough books over the past ten or so years that she could easily have purchased a very nice small car (it helps that she worked for Indigo, she could track that and feed my addiction).  Another friend of mine devours books like they are going out of style.  Katie reads for pleasure, while downing who knows how many books for her university courses (Hi Katie!).  Then there is another one of my best friends, who until a year ago was the librarian at my school (Hi Lindsey!) and she too reads like there is no tomorrow.  See, I surround myself with readers (except for Hubby, who if I recall properly hasn’t read a novel cover to cover since our honeymoon – almost 5 years ago!  He reads a lot, just not books).

I have so many books in my classroom that I get in trouble for all the plastic tubs I have on the floor storing the ones not being used.  Can you imagine, getting trouble in a school because you have too many books?!  I love it.  I also love Scholastic book orders, where for the first 3-4 years of teaching I would spend upwards of $25 or more every month of the school year.  Bonus coupons + cheap books = heaven.

All of this is leading to what happened to me Friday. ** After calling Hubby I decided to pick up Chinese food for dinner.  I wanted to make sure I would get home in time for the news (we had a HUGE ass storm blow through the province last night and I wanted to hear about it) so I called ahead and placed my order.  20-25 minute wait time, no problem.  I walked in with my bottle of water (yes, landfills hate me – although I do put them into the recycle bin) and a magazine, it had only been ten minutes since I placed my order.  I told the lady at the counter I was waiting for pick up and wouldn’t you know it, it was ready – no reading for me.  Boo!  I proceeded to comment about the water and magazine that I brought to fill the time and do you know what happened?!  The girl looked at me and said, “you usually bring a book when you come in and wait.”  I was floored!  I do not by any means get take out from this place that often and the girl remembers the fact that yes, I usually bring a book with me.  Unbelievable.

So there you have it ladies and gentleman, it has officially been confirmed, I have a book problem!
*no this is not her real name!

** Photo Friday will be back next week. I lost track of what day it was and simply did not get the post done (or started for that matter).

Categories: Books, Crazy Stuff

Summer Reading Round-up – Part One

Since coming back from Roadtrip 2009 I have been able to catch up on a little bit of reading (when not eating those bon-bons or watching dust bunnies breed).  Actually I have been working on a few other things, but you’ll just have to wait to hear about them.

In the past month I have read four books.  I am not the fastest reader, so this is quite a feat.  You will see that my reading choices are rather diverse, especially this reading for pleasure thing I have going on.  Before the roadtrip I made a visit to my local Chapters and happily took them up on their “buy three, get one free” offer.  So here is my run down of reading so far…

Roasting In Hell’s Kitchen – Gordon Ramsay

ramsay.jpg First of all this is not a mind-blowing, thought provoking reading, but it was a good book.  The book is not written well by any grade six teacher standards and their are quite a few f-bombs and other scary language (shocking I know, given who wrote it!).  That’s it for my warnings.  Overall, it was a really interesting book.  Ramsay’s life was certainly not one of glitz and glamour growing up, quite the opposite.  He grew up very poor, constantly moving around and had to fight for everything he now has.  After reading the book I felt like I better understood the persona he presents on Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares (F-word is definitely the calmer of all his shows and perhaps shows the personality of the book the best).  The book was definitely worth the read.

Wounded – Eric Walters

wounded.jpg  I love Eric Walters!  Well, not literally.  I have had the opportunity to hear him speak no less that four times now, once at our school and once with my entire class.  He is a great speaker and a great author for the age group he gears his books towards.

Wounded is his latest book release.  The book revolves around Marcus and Courtney and the events in Afghanistan.  Both characters live on a base and have a parent in Afghanistan.  I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline because it wasn’t necessarily what I was expecting.  As always the book is well researched and realistic.  The book was definitely an eye-opener as to what goes on with families who have loved ones in the Armed Forces.   And, what people who are in the Armed Forces have to deal with when they come home.   I can’t wait to bring this one in for my students to read.

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

time travellers.jpg  I loved this book, but…  This was a great book, but it was a very long read and it needed to stop about a page and a half sooner.  At least that is my opinion.  I really did not like the last entry, I found it just ruined my thoughts of Clare, I wish the author had finished the book with Henry’s entry.  I would like to see the movie but feel that I will be sadly disappointed by the film adaptation.  I just do not that Hollywood could possibly do the book justice. This is one of those books that will likely become a classic, both because the story and because of how it is written.  There were times when I couldn’t put it down and there were times I simply did not want to read it.  I will tell you this much, I’m a sap and I cried for the last 20 pages.  The author did a great job of foreshadowing the ending without giving away too many details, it was brilliant.

The Manny – Holly Peterson

the manny.jpg  I loved this book.  The only reason I picked up this book was because I wanted that forth book free and the book I specifically went in for was out of stock.  Don’t judge me for my enjoyment of this book, it really was a fun read.  It’s one of those cheesy storylines that just sucks you in and won’t let you out.  I gave up sleep for this book, mainly because I simply lost track of time reading it.  It was funny and had me laughing and smiling throughout.  It is kind of a “Devil Wears Prada” meets “The Nanny Diaries” type of book.  I was amused by some of the personal reviews I read about this book, complaining that there was too much about Jamie’s job in the storyline, but without that part of the story the story would not have made much sense at all.  It is one of those books where you get to the end you go “of course that’s how it ends because it is fantasy land and it couldn’t end any other way!” It was just a fun, simple, summer read.

I have two hundred more books to read before the end of the summer.  I have a slight problem with the number of books sitting by my bed and the time I have to read them.  The next two on my list however are:  39 Clues – The Black Circle (a great series for grades 4-6ish) and Rage Against The Mushugenah by Danny Evans (dadgonemade.com).

Categories: Books

Photo Friday – More Local Attractions

I’m a day early because we are going out of town, but since I didn’t even think I would get a post at all, I’m doing pretty good.

I live near a pretty cute little city.  Growing up it seemed more like the retirement capital of Ontario.  Now our downtown area is so much better that our mall (sad isn’t it?!) that I enjoy spending time down there.  For the past couple of summers the city has been doing what they call “Festival of Banners.”  They are banners painted by both students and artists and are displayed on the main streets throughout the summer months.  Every fall they have a big gala and the auction them off.  Here are a few of the ones I was able to get pictures of last Friday.  (I will post more later, because really, they are awesome!)

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Categories: Photo Friday

Get A Job or Sue The University?

I came across this article last week and I was seriously annoyed (that may be putting it mildly). If this case goes any further I hope that the judge simply laughs her out of court and tells her to suck it up!

As I have mentioned before I went to school and graduated with a degree in Anthropology – with a forensic focus.  I also completed a post-graduate diploma in Therapeutic Recreation.  I am not working in either field.  First of all, to continue in the forensic field I would have needed to complete my masters degree (the requirements have since changed some but I have made my decision).  To continue with Therapeutic Recreation I would have been required to do one of two things: work many (3, maybe 4, even 5) smaller positions if I had decided to stay local (and I did) or was required to commute two hours (on a good day) to get a job in the City.  I could have also moved there, but with student loans and an entry level position, this wasn’t happening (nor did I want to, but that’s another story).  Georgian College boasts a 95% job placement rate and helps it’s students find jobs in their field.  Finding a job wasn’t the problem, finding a full-time job, well that as you can see was the problem.

I took three years between my degree and my diploma and another three years before Teacher’s College (and my current profession).  Not three months! I wonder if this person has been living under a rock or something and perhaps does not realize that the United States (and Canada) are in a major recession, people are losing their jobs, jobs they have had for decades and this person is crying because she hasn’t been able to find a job in her field in the three months since she graduated!  Give your head a shake lady. The world does not revolve around you.  The univsersity/college does not owe you a thing.  The college says “it helps its graduates find jobs,”  it does not guarentee that you will get a job.

I’d love to know where this entitlement mentality comes from?  I know I sure don’t teach it my students.  I’ll be curious to see how this works out in the end.  I honestly do hope that the judge throws it out otherwise that is one nasty Pandora’s Box to open!

Categories: Crazy Stuff, Life, School, Work

Photo Friday – Local Attractions

Last Sunday, Hubby, Nephew and I were headed to the dump to get rid of a heck of a lot of junk!  Of course if we had thought about it we would have check first (it’s about 30 minutes away) to see if they were even open, since it was a long weekend.  But we didn’t.  Well, they were closed, and we were out that way anyway, soooo…we went here.

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The Big Chute
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The last boat, it was bloody huge!  At $1 per foot, it wasn’t cheap either.  We did not stay for the entire festivities, it was taking way too long.

Sorry for the photo quality this week.  I didn’t bring my camera on the dump run (silly me!) so these were taken from the (i)phone.  I still need to figure out how to get the pics to work out better.

It was really rather interesting this time.  We’ve been to the rail in the past, but there were crowds of people there Sunday, watching and waiting for the boats to be moved and unloaded! It’s not like this is some easy to get to place either, it was over 45 minutes the way we went, and still over 15 minutes from the highway, if you know where you are going!  It was so busy, the parking lots were full.  Mind you, the weather was great (for a day that was supposed to rain all day) and it was a long weekend.  That may have had something to do with it.
For those interested, this site has some really great pics, much better than mine.
If I can figure out the autopost for next Friday I will have photos for you.  If not, you’ll just have to wait until after our NASCAR weekend!   I’m not making any promises.

And in my over zealous nature (yeah right!) I posted it early, completely by accident.  Oh well, most of you won’t see it until Friday or later anyway.

Categories: Photo Friday

Back To School Rituals

Kelly over at MochaMomma has a contest going on to win a new computer (if you live in the United States, go enter, otherwise you can cry with me.  boo-hoo-hoo!).  To enter you have to tell about your back to school rituals, then and now.  I started thinking about it and this is what I came up with…

I loved buying back to school supplies.  New pencils, packs of paper, new pencil cases (my favourites were the plaid one and the Kettle Creek Canvas ones I had – yes, I had favourite pencil cases), pencil crayons.  I loved it all.  When the flyers came in the newspaper I would look through them plotting our plan of attack – which stores had what on sale, who had the best deal.  I loved it all.  Call me a nerd, I don’t care, I loved getting ready for the new school year.  Well, I enjoyed buying the school supplies at least.

For some reason I was never one who truly enjoyed buying the back to school clothes.  I think most of it stemmed from the fact that I could never really find what I wanted or afford to buy what I found.  I went to school with a lot of double income families or doctors and lawyers kids, their clothing budget was not mine.  To this day though I remember buying this shirt that I had to have, life would not be complete without out.  I was a turquoise, shiney button-down (don’t judge me, it was the 80s).  It was fabulous, it was in style (it had to be, the stores were displaying them everywhere)….it was not even remotely what anyone in my class was wearing, and as such, it stayed in my closet, worn but once or twice.  My mother was not even close to being impressed.

As elementary school became high school my thrill of the new school year did not end.  And university, that was beyond thrilling.  Only in university it was the new textbooks, new binders, my first computer (a Mac PowerPC, all 1.2 gigs that it was!).  I didn’t care how long the lines were I enjoyed waiting to be able to enter the bookstore and get everything I needed.  Funny though, things changed a bit in teacher’s college – I only bought one of the two required texts for my class, and I am glad I did, I would not have used the other one to this day.

I still love buying back to school supplies, only now it is for my own classroom.  I particularly love buying them on our roadtrips to the United States (just ask Hubby, I came back with 3 busting bags from our July roadtrip).  I don’t know what it is or why, but back to school supplies are SO MUCH CHEAPER at Target and Walmart down there.  Case in point, 10 pack of Crayola markers was 88 cents there, here just under $5!  Is it any wonder why I asked my principal if I could get supplies down there, out tender order cannot even come close to matching the prices.

I have two wishes for the beginning of each school year now.  First, I wish that schools would not send out/Walmart would not post back to school supply lists – I simply don’t use more of the items listed on them.  Parents are spending money on items that will get lost, fill their child’s desk or sit at home virtually unused.  What’s the point of that?  Second, I wish parents (at least in my class) would wait until after the first day of school to buy items beyond the basics (pencils, pens, paper, colouring pencils etc.).  For the same reason as above – so many of the items are not used.  It drives me nuts the HUGE binders they bring in.  My students have no where to store them as I do not have traditional desks (my students have a magazine box to store their belongings, if it doesn’t fit in the 4 inches, it doesn’t stay in the classroom!).

Back to school to me is the actual start of a new year, not January 1st.  But, that may just be me.  Only 5 weeks to go – this feels like the never ending summer, but that’s a whole other story.

Categories: Life, School

Pumpkin Dump Cake (stolen recipe)

This is not an original recipe.  This is something a friend of mine makes and it is fabulous.  I have decided to start posting the occasional recipe here, because they are great (and looking back through two and a half years of Facebook posts is just plain silly).  The first time I made this I wasn’t so sure about it, I really thought that K had forgotten a step – you don’t mix the cake mix, you simply “dump” it in.  So here goes…

Ingredients:

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 c. evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 (18.25-ounce) pkg. yellow or golden cake mix
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. butter (or margarine, melted)

Stir together first 5 ingredients and pour into greased 13×9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle pecans on top. Drizzle butter over pecans and bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with Whipped Cream, if desired. Sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired.

It really is quite yummy.

Categories: Blog, Recipes