Monday, December 31, 2007

Tids and bits

Turns out I don't blog very much when I'm on holidays. Something about not having to procrastinate on all the stuff I *should* be doing! Hip hip hooray for holidays!

No big Christmas reflections or even posts this year. It kinda snuck up on me and then was gone - I know, I know, that's how it is every year, but even more so this year. Part of it has been that I haven't been to church very much in the last month or so. We added a Sunday night service a while back and because the majority of my friends go to that one, I shifted, too... except it's not working out so hot for me. Um, mostly cause I don't end up going. Anyhoo, all that said, I missed all the advent stuff, and it was all rush rush rush right up to the big family dinner on Christmas Eve, and then it's over. And I'm sad.

But! There have been some definite highlights to my time off. The first one was having two new friends - Hugo and Lucille - join my family for Christmas. It was SO great to have them there (and if you two are reading this, hello! Seriously, you guys made my evening! I'm so glad you were there!). Then of course there was some good family time on Christmas day. It was the first Christmas Day in recent memory, anyway, that we didn't have to pack up and go somewhere or have a whole crew over, and it was great to lounge around all day. I inflicted gingerbread house building on my parents (I still had leftovers from my party a few weeks ago) and it was a big bundle of hilarity.

I spent one day up in Whistler with Hugo and Lucille snowshoeing - and pretty much snow-battling to the death all day long. We then went into the swanky hat store and tried on many a chapeau... much to the owner's chagrin, I'm sure. Come on, who DOESN'T want three soggy rowdies with cameras knocking over hats and trying on your merchandise??? Pics from our day are here.

There was one day of serendipitous spontaneity - lunch, a trip to Ikea, dinner with the fam, catching The Golden Compass, going out for drinks... all arranged on the fly as the day progressed. I love days like that! You never know what the next hour will hold! :) Thank goodness for cell phones!

Now I'm cleaning the house (and blogging... see? Apparently I just found a reason to procrastinate!), prepping for a New Year's Brunch chez moi tomorrow, and then heading out to welcome 2008.

And there's still a week left of holidays! WOOHOO!

Since I didn't wish it before, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. And to 2007, I say "So long, sucker!" Bring it on, 2008!

PS. Hokey Dinah! Kristin Plater (of the AWESOME video below - seriously, if you haven't listened to it yet, you should... and then click through and listen to her other stuff, too... I'm looking for her album to buy and if I can't find a real live CD I'm buying it off iTunes. She's great!) left a comment thanking me for posting her video! She's super friendly and replies to comments on youtube and apparently to blogs, too! Melissa, she's playing in New York on the 18th. If you like her stuff, check out her site for details: Haha, ok, enough plugs for now! And no, she's not paying me! :P

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Why Not - SUCH a fun song

I found a YouTube gem... Kristin Plater! This song totally makes me smile. All about being yourself, donig the little things that make you happy. I love it! "If I'm gonna laugh, I'm gonna laugh out loud!"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pictures from a Classroom Christmas

Pictures go along with this post. Click any picture to see a larger version. Click here to see the whole set (it's worth it!)

Um, wow!

I was at a Christmas dance last night (of course!) and having a great time, as always. It was nearing the end of the night and I was dancing with my friend Michael, being very apologetic because I always seem to be dancing with him near the end of the night when people are leaving. Our two previous dances that night had been punctuated with me yelling my goodbyes and Merry Christmases to people as they left - which was just kinda rude (I'm sorry, Michael!) and also resulted in me missing more than a few leads. We laughed about it - he's a sweetheart - and I promised him a dance where I would pay attention to, oh, I dunno, HIM for once! SO there I was concentrating, when another friend JR (hi JR - this post's for you! Ya better comment! ;)*updated: go you! Thanks!* ) came and waved a piece of paper at me.

(click to embiggen if you want to read it)

Huh? Whatever, it's the new Swing Dance Club brochure. Surely I could look at it later. I mean, it's lovely and all, and has lots of great info about West Coast Swing, and is distributed at dances of all kinds all over the lower mainland, but seriously? Now? Then - in between whips and passes - I took a closer look. HOLY SMOKES! What? Uh yeah, that's yours truly. ON THE FRONT COVER. Buah ha! Hilarious!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Through a child's eyes

When the kids walked in the door Monday morning, the first thing they saw were four great big brown hoof prints on the floor. "Look!" I told them. "Santa came! And Rudolph, too!"

The buzz began immediately.

Santa! Santa came!
Hey, he left a note!
Rudolph put our paper chains on the ceiling!
And our letters are gone!
Santa took them!

The kids could hardly get their coats off quick enough to rush over the the chart board and read what Santa had to say. They looked around at the candy canes hanging, the paper chains a waaaay high up, and the big red fuzzy at Santa left for me to borrow (Miss Hillary, you're SOOO lucky! "Why's that?" Cause you get to borrow Santa's hat AND you get to see him again before Christmas to return it!!!). Some looked around in wonder, some were nearly shaking with excitement. And of course there were a few who punctured the glee with doubt.

It's not real!
The hoof prints are just paint.
Miss Hillary put those chains up.

"Nooo!" I told them. Eighteen excited kids all talking at once and asking questions was boggling my mind, but I just carried on, weaving a tale of Santa's visit and answering their questions as I went. "When I left on Friday, none of this was here! There is a little ladder in the school, but it's not nearly high enough to reach the ceiling! Those chains are WAY too high for me to have put them up. And I would get in trouble if I painted the floor! That wasn't me, either. Rudolph must have had very muddy hooves..." Then why didn't Santa leave footprints, too? [smart little kiddies!] "Well must have been riding his sleigh, so his feet didn't get muddy." It's just paint. Miss Hillary, you painted those. "Nooo! It's dried mud. They weren't there on Friday. Mr. G [an ESL teacher who had come in to drop something off], did you paint those hoof prints?" He didn't either, which was nearly enough to convince them. Miss Hillary, are you sure you're not lying? "I'm positive! I would neeever lie to you! Besides, what could have happened to our letters? And how else could those chains have gotten way up there? Anyway, didn't you say on Friday that you wished Santa would visit our classroom?

Yeah, but why does Santa always come when we can't see him? Why doesn't he ever come for us to see? Then we can KNOW that he's real!

"Ah, but it's not about seeing him. It's about believing. If you ever saw Santa, there would be no more magic."

By the end of our excited discussion on the carpet that morning, the biggest doubter was the biggest believer and every single child was convinced without a doubt that the big man in red had come to visit.

They happily told everyone they saw, too. Friends, teachers, passing parents. Two even ran to the office at recess to tell the office staff.

The day proceeded in sugary goodness as we made and decorated our gingerbread houses. I have never seen so much candy in one place in my life! They loved it, and were definitely in the Christmas spirit, humming Christmas songs and chattering about Santa as they worked.

After school I found a large envelope in my box: our letters to Santa had been read and replied to! I wrote on the outside in big swirly red writing "To Division 21, Love Santa,"dumped a whole bunch of silver glitter inside the envelope, and shook it all around. Up to the staffroom I went, where I dripped some water on the outside of the envelope and stuck it in the freezer to chill overnight.

Tuesday after recess was the big event - our letters from Santa had arrived! I waited an extra minute or two in the staffroom to make sure all the kids were lined up outside our door. As I approached, I whispered excitedly to them. "Boys and girls, look! Santa answered our letters! And it must be fresh from the North Pole! See? There's even ice on the envelope!!!" Gravity and the freezer had worked more magic than I could have hoped, as all the water had run down to the edge of the envelope and had made about a dozen little frozen droplets hanging off the side. Our envelope had icicles!!

Look! It's cold!
And frozen!
It came right from the North Pole!
How did Santa answer them so fast?
He's a fast guy!
Oooh! It's dripping!
Wow! I never got a letter from Santa before!

We all rushed to the carpet where I speedily handed out the letters. I pulled each one out with a flourish, sending silver glitter fluttering to the ground over the students' heads. Miss Hillary, what is that?

With a big grin and a twinkle in my eye, I answered them. "It's MAGIC!"

As the kids got their frozen letters, they all buddied up to read, passing them around and comparing them.

Santa is really busy making toys, so he got his elves to write to us!
Hey look! My elf's twin brother wrote to my friend!
These MUST be real because he answered all my questions!
Oooooh! The raindeers fly using magic flying powder!
Phew! Santa says I'm on the nice list!
Hahaha! My elf's name is "Stinky!"
Here, look at mine! Can I read yours?
[while clutching her letter to her heart:] I LOVE SANTA!!!

The kids spent about ten minutes passing their letters around and reading. (And you have to understand that for my class, to have them that engaged for that long is a nothing short of a miracle!)

I couldn't let the magic end there, though. I know that some of these kids don't really do anything for Christmas, and a few won't have many gifts this year because their families just don't have the money. Santa had to make one last visit...

When the children arrived on Friday, there was a new set of snowy footprints all throughout the classroom - from the door, over to the chart stand, over to the Christmas tree, and back out again. There was a new note, the tree was covered in snow, and there were nineteen gifts wrapped up and laying underneath the tree.

This time there were no doubters.

Santa came AGAIN!!!
And he left us presents!
What IS this stuff?
It's snow!
But it's not melting!
Miss Hillary, those are YOUR footprints!
Put your foot in them, let me see!
... Oh! They're bigger than your feet!
Miss E [my special ed worker], try your foot.
It's not hers, either! That proves it MUST be Santa!
This is the very first present Santa ever gave me!
Oh, this is the best day of my LIFE!

After reading the note and handing out the gifts, the kids tore into them to find the biggest candy canes they had ever seen. These must have come from the candy cane forest at the North Pole! I didn't need to do anything to create the magic this time - they did it on their own. Stories and theories swirled about how Santa could have gotten into our classroom without a chimney (maybe he came through the walls, maybe the janitor let him in, maybe he came through the mouse hole [er, the mouse hole?!?! It's now been filled.]). They talked about how fast Santa's sleigh must be and about how cold the North Pole is. And I sat back and watched, loving every minute.

It's been a while since I've been able to see Christmas in that magical child-like way. It has significance every year for me because of that very first gift that was given long long ago, of course. But there's another aspect of Christmas that I have not seen for a while, and that's the magic, the innocence, the wonder of it all. Impossibility made possible. Childlike faith in someone that can't be seen.

Or then again, maybe it's really been there all along. Maybe that's what Christmas is all about, even for us adults. Childlike faith in a gift too good good to be true, and yet! There He lies wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. God become man to dwell, to die, to deliver. Impossibility made possible. What a gift we've been given.

As a very wise elf said in her letter to one of my students, "Whoever believes in Christmas will always have magic."

How right she is!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


You would not believe how annoying it is to use my computer right now. My monitor is fried. No problem, I've got my old one still in my room. Hook it up, and.... no workie. At all. My new, 14 month old LCD monitor is dead, too. Oh, sure,i t somes on when you turn the power on... for exactly one second. Then it goes blank. So lucky me, as I HAD to do something on the computer tonight, I got to turn my monitor off and on and off and on again just so I could see the screen for one second and position my mouse. Then it went blank. Turn it off, turn it on, click, then screen went blank. Off, then on, then position mouse. Off then on, then click. Off tehn on, then type when needs to be typed. I can't see what I'm typuing now, so no complaints about typos.

YAAAARG! Dumb machine. WHY do they make things and PLAN for then to break withing two years? Seriously. As IF I have the money to buy another monitor right now. Melissa, I'm gonna check into your suggestion. I may be able to get a warranty from teh shop I bought it at, it might still be under warranty. We'll see. You'd better believe I'm gonna kick up a fuss.

And yes, I'm blogging. I don't need to see what I type (well, kinda) and I wanna whine about this. Seriously the most annoying thing I've encountered for a very long time.

Grrr, technology. *grumble grumble grumble*

OK, time to tunr the monitor off and on a hundred times now to actually post this bad boy.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Smells like burning

Well I had about 16 different ideas for posts in my head as I came home tonight... another Rebirth instalment (or two or three), an update/recap of the Magical Monday of Grade One Christmas Wonderfulness (complete with photos), some general squeeing about Christmas, a rant, a peek into the psyche of Hillary (don't run away, there's a but coming!), and so on and so forth.

Buuuut, my new, fourteen and a half month old computer monitor (member this post? Good thing I have a blog, that's how I figured out when I bought the dang thing!) is extremely dim on the top half and smells like burning. I know this cause it's the same smell that my electric mixer made while I was mixing up 8 litres of cement icing for the gingerbread houses at 6 am on Monday morning. I knew the smoke wasn't a good sign. Anyone wanna give me a mixer for Christmas??? So anyhoo, I'm gonna shut'er off for now and rant and rave to the place I bought it (*cough* Future Shop *cough*) another time.

Good thing I have all those photos to edit. Good thing I have BEEN editing photos, upping the brightness and wondering why they seemed do dim on my monitor and so dull on the computer. I mean, that was happening with my OLD monitor.

Oh yeah. Smells like burning. Just got another whiff. Buh bye now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I just might be getting a little carried away...

We wrote letters to Santa today at school. No asking for toys allowed - they were to ask questions and tell Santa about themselves. In Canada, if you write to Santa and send it to the post office, you get a letter back, so the kids are all excited to get a letter from the big man in red himself. (I mean, come on, the North Pole is in Canada! It only takes one stamp to get there!)

We've also been making paper chains all week... when they kid's work was finished, they could go to the art centre and keep working on their chains. One kid's chain is nearly 10 metres long!!! I promised them that I would put them up to decorate the classroom after school.

Little do they know that Santa will be paying our classroom a visit this weekend! Instead of the regular morning message from me, there will be a note - written entirely in red sparkly glitter glue - from Santa:

HO HO HO! Santa here! I came to visit your class on Saturday but there was nobody here! I left some treats for you, and my hat for Miss Hillary to borrow. She has to promise to give it back before Christmas, though! I'll need it! Miss Hillary put up your paper chains, but not very high. I got Rudolph to help me put them higher. I'll answer your letters as soon as I can! ~ Love Santa.

I've spent the last two hours with Christmas tunes blaring, teetering on top of the highest ladder in the school attaching paper chains to the just-over-three-meter- high ceiling. I have also painted four reindeer hoofprints on the floor right by the main classroom door (only four, though, cause Rudolph flew around the room most of the time!) and have dabbled them with a wet paper towel so you can't see the paintbrush strokes. There will be candy canes for each kid hanging from the art hangers that are draped over the rows of lights. The only major setback to my preparatory festivities this afternoon was stepping backwards onto the not-quite dry glitter glue message when I was trying to move the ladder. D'oh! I had to take a plastic spoon and scrap off a few words and start again. There are now red glittery footprints all over my carpet and the bottoms of my shoes sparkle! As long as I don't wear the same shoes on Monday, I'll be able to tell them that Santa left footprints, too!

I've got a grade six class (full of my students from last year!) lined up to write a personalized letter from Santa back to each student. I'll put the replies in the freezer for a while, scrape off some frost, and deliver them to the kids on Tuesday or Wednesday - direct from the North Pole!
That, and we're making gingerbread houses on Monday! It's going to be quite the day!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

True story

My breakfast today consisted of a bowl of cheerios and a palm-sized slab of gingerbread with lots of icing and covered - covered! - in smarties.

And this, folks, is why Christmas and my butt are motal enemies.

*Editied to add, for my American readers: Smarites are like M&M's, but better! They're not the sugary candy... um... pellets? like in the States*

*Also edited to add: My lunch also involves a cheese ball. I'm going straight to the fat farm, aren't I? Sigh.*

Friday, December 07, 2007

Apparently I like to eat pie

For the last two weeks, my grade one girls have begun to write... and write and write and write and write and write. They love it! They spend their centers time writing, they write oodles in their writing books, they write at home and bring it in to show me. "I just love to write!" they tell me. It is absolutely adorable!

One girl in particular, Annie (not her real name), writes me notes. Every morning she comes in with an envelope of something she has written at home. "Don't open it now!" she tells me. I ask her when I should open it. "At home!" she says, but invariably, by the end of the day, she caves and asks me to open her note.

Here are SOME of the notes she's written. Keep in mind that 18 out of 19 of my kids are ESL, and that she's six. I've kept spelling and grammar intact. I wish I could show the actual writing and the pictures, hearts, stars, and happy faces that go along with these notes, too. You'll just have to use your imaginations!

To Miss Hillary From Annie
You like To. eat Apple Pie
Yoe ur Nice and Neet
we like To make pie
pie is Good for you
Love Miss Hillary

To Miss Hillary From Annie
your a Nice teachandNeat
playful teach
Good teach is Nice
Youllke To drink Milk
and eat Apple pie
lovely Miss Hillary
you lik To eat pancakes
she like T make pie
I make my story for you

To Miss Hillary From Annie
you like egg and dklling Milk
you is Nice and you Like Appie pie.
and Apple Book and egg cake
Good Story

I Like to make Apple pie
a Apple. Book is Good For You
and Nice and Neet Amelia Bedelia
look the cloud and the sky
Imake my own story
Good Story [] yes

ToMissHillary FromHillary
you like To eat pie I make a pjr [picture] a pie

To Miss Hillary From Annie
your Nice and Neat teach
you like To eat Apple
and driking Millk
pancakes Book and walter the Baker book
Nice book Im write
Ilike pet is guinea pig and Hamster
is fairy pet love Miss Hillary
GoodWrite and Good write story

ToMissHillary From Annie
MissHillary like to eat Apple pie is Good For you
you like To drinking Millk

ToMissHillary From Annie
We like to Make pie
isGood FOR You

ToMissHillary From Annie
I like to make Apple pie To eat is Good
your nice teach and a Neat teach to
lovely Miss Hillary

All these notes are good for the heart but very, very bad for the will power. I'm picking up a pie on my way home tonight.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Spice Up Your Life! *now with video!*

The Spice Girls opened their world tour in Vancouver tonight, on stage for the first time since 1998. It was spectacularly phenominal! Oh wow. WHAT a show! There are no words (and I'm sooo tired, and my ears are still ringing), so here are some pictures instead! I believe I've been dubbed Shutterbug Spice. Now the question is, what spice is Phil??? ;)

[All photos property of Hillary. Permission required to use/reproduce]

The Finale/Encore. This person must have been sitting right beside us. This was our view almost exactly! (if anything, watch the last two minutes! AWESOME!!!) Man, it's the next morning and I'm STILL buzzing!

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Really? Seriously? The DoughBoy? I love it! How many of you knew that every single summer I went to camp Gump and Chunk called me "Pillsbury" and then that that became my camp name when I worked there? HA!

A-Ziggah zig AH!

Despite having never really been a fan ten years ago when they were big, I'm nearing giddiness about heading to go see opening night of the reunion world tour of the SPICE GIRLS (!!!!!) on Sunday night! (I'm just ignoring the depressing fact that I'm old enough to be going to a 'nostalgia' show!) And yep, they chose Vancouver to open their tour. Because we're AWESOME! hehe!

I've been doing my homework on YouTube, thinking that oh my goodness, I don't know any of their songs. Ah, but I DO! And you would, too, even if you tried really really hard not to.

My friend Phil found himself with an extra ticket, so he invited me! It's gonna be a spectacular show, I'm sure - they'll be pulling out all the stops. That, paired with Phil being SO incredibly excited about it that it just cracks me right up, is gonna make it an AWESOME night! Now the only question is - what to wear???

Jean was the closest guess, for sure. Go Jean! And Melissa wins for the most hilarious thought process. "You're going to the North Pole... and dancing with the elves [do I sense a new reality TV show coming on?] ... OH MY GOSH YOU'RE SANTA!"

I was giving hints! Go back and check out the last two posts - now with highlighted hints! :P