Summer Reflections

(En español abajo)

Today begins the last week of FREEDOM.  You see, in Southern Ontario, most schools start the Tuesday after Labour Day. This is the last week of living my life without being hounded by the whiny “M-iii-s” when students are trying to get my attention.  The last week of puttering around my house, reading to my son, writing and enjoying time with my family without routines, structure or deadlines.

This school year brings even more anxiety since it marks my son’s first official year of school.  He begins kindergarten – that is wrought with its own set of nerves that I will delve into later this week.

Before I get all anxious about going back into teacher mode or thinking about leaving my little boy in a gigantic building with one teacher and one E.C.E. in a classroom of 29, 4-5 year-olds  (so much for a cap of 24 – what happened there Ontario Government?), I want to fill my soul with all of the wonderful things that this summer has brought me.  I want to envelope myself in summer memories so that the carefree summer loveliness inspires me to carry excitement into next week.  I want to be able to inspire my students to see the new school year as a chance to keep creating themselves.  I want to be able to inspire myself to do the same.

Things I loved this summer that will carry me through the school year:

  1. Watching my son vastly improve his swimming skills through daily swimming lessons
  2. Our family vacation to Punta Cana – read about it here
  3. Watching my belly grow and feeling my baby move and kick all summer long – we are in for one active child!
  4. Sitting under the shade of our huge tree in the back yard with my son as we read Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets – read how this began here (We are now onto the Prisoner of Azkaban)
  5. Watching my husband work diligently on his portfolio as he works toward achieving his goals
  6. 7 years of marriage!!! (13 years together) – I feel like I’ve “grown up” next to my husband in a way…
  7. Watching my brother coach my son’s soccer team and pass along his love for the game – I just KNOW our dad’s spirit was with us at every single game smiling on our family
  8. Feeling my mother’s love for her family, identifying with her and gaining even more admiration and respect for her ability to give, to love and foster such a beautiful family atmosphere
  9. A family trip to Grand Bend, Ontario with tio and dear friends – we picked the coldest week of the summer and ended up having a great time!
  10. Visiting friends at the cottage – watching my boy (who is now “the BIG-4 mommy” because he is 4 and a half) develop friendships, roast marshmallows and make S’mores – sharing time with friends
  11. The Power Puffs!!! My friend’s husband mocks our network of friends because we are constantly talking, emailing, texting and inventing some kind of excuse to get together.  He claims we are too emotionally charged with each other’s lives.  We claim that our friendship is what keeps us sane.  Anyways, I love being a Power Puff.

No shots of husband…he’s a little blog-shy.

These are but a few snippets of what summer has brought me.  I am blessed and (reluctantly) looking forward to the beginning of a new school year, because that means I get to do this all over again, with an addition to the family, next year.

What has summer left you with this year?


En español

Hoy comienza la última semana de la libertad. Usted ve, en el sur de Ontario, la mayoría de las escuelas comienzan el martes después del Día del Trabajo. Esta es la última semana de vivir mi vida sin ser acosado por el quejoso “M-iii-s” cuando los estudiantes están tratando de llamar mi atención. La última semana de estar tranquila en mi casa, leyendo a mi hijo, escribiendo y disfrutando del tiempo con mi familia sin rutinas, estructura y plazos.

Este año escolar trae aún más ansiedad, ya que marca el primer año de mi hijo de la escuela. Comienza en jardín- pero esto mis sentimientos sobre esto los voy a profundizar en esta semana.

Antes de ponerme ansiosa por volver al modo maestro o pensar en dejar a mi niño en un edificio gigante con un maestro y una ayudante escolar en una clase de 29 niños, de 4-5 años de edad (tanto por un tope de 24 – que pasó allí Goberino de Ontario?, quiero llenar mi alma con todas las cosas maravillosas que este verano me ha traído. Quiero rodearme de recuerdos de verano, para que la belleza del verano sin preocupaciones me inspira a llevar la emoción hasta la próxima semana. Quiero ser capaz de inspirar a mis estudiantes a ver el nuevo año escolar como una oportunidad para seguir creando ellos mismos. Quiero ser capaz de inspirar a mí mismo a hacer lo mismo.

Cosas que me encantaron este verano que me van a llevar a lo largo del año escolar:

  1. Ver a mi hijo mejorar en gran medida sus habilidades de natación a través de las clases de natación diarias
  2. Nuestra familia de vacaciones en Punta Cana – leer sobre ello aquí
  3. Ver crecer mi vientre y sentir a mi bebé moverse y patear todo el verano – nos espera un niño activo!
  4. Sentarme a la sombra de nuestra enorme árbol en el patio trasero con mi hijo para leer Harry Potter y la Cámara Secreta – (Ahora estamos en el prisionero de Azkaban)
  5. Ver a mi esposo trabajar diligentemente en su portofolio para el logro de sus metas
  6. 7 años de matrimonio! (13 años juntos) – Me siento como que he “crecido” junto a mi esposo de una manera …
  7. Ver a mi hermano como entrenador del equipo de fútbol de mi hijo y pasar su amor por el juego – Sé que el espíritu de nuestro padre estaba con nosotros en cada partido sonriendo sobre nuestra familia
  8. Sentir el amor de mi madre por su familia, identificándome con ella y aumentar aún más mi admiración y respeto por su capacidad de dar, amar y promover un ambiente familiar tan hermoso
  9. Un viaje familiar a Grand Bend, Ontario con tio y amigos queridos – aunque fue la semana más fría del verano, disfrutamos y tuvimos un gran tiempo!
  10. Visitar a los amigos en la casa de campo – viendo a mi hijo desarrollar amistades, asar malvaviscos y hacer S’mores – compartir tiempo con los amigos
  11. Los “Power Puffs”.  El esposo de mi amiga se burla de nuestra red de amigas porque estamos constantemente hablando, mandando correo electrónico, mensajes de texto e inventando algún tipo de excusa para reunirnos. Esta amistad nos ayuda a mantenernos sanas.

No hay fotos de marido … es un poco tímido para aparecer en el blog.

Estos son sólo algunos fragmentos de lo que el verano me ha traído. Estoy bendecido y (a regañadientes) esperando el comienzo de un nuevo año escolar, porque eso significa que tengo la oportunidad de hacerlo todo de nuevo, con una adición a la familia, el próximo año.

¿Qué te ha dejado el verano este año?

Top Ten Tuesday: OCD Bookish Habits!

(a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

This week we have been given free reign in our choice of topic.  I haven’t done a Top Ten list in a while (nor blogged in a while – sorry!), and as I perused the list of topics, I knew this one had to be this week’s Top Ten for me.

1.  I must finish every book I read.  (disclaimer: I still feel guilty about not finishing Fruit, but pretty damned satisfied that I didn’t waste any more time on Fifty Shades of Grey)

2.  I must have a bookmark.  It is imperative that the pages of my books not be folded or tampered with in any way.

3.  I must have a pen.  Weird, huh?  I can’t fold the pages of my books, but I can underline and note-take to my heart’s content.  It is a habit I formed when I became an English teacher – and, now, I can’t break it.

4.  I need a cup of tea.   Because reading makes me thirsty and I want to feel cozy and indulge.

5.  I need a blanket.  Again with the cozy.

6.  I must be curled up.  Is there any other way to read than with feet tucked in?

7.  When finished reading I close the book and inspect its cover – perhaps even brushing my hand over it to make sure its clean.

8.  Re-read parts I love. Over and over.  Which might help to explain why I take so long reading books.

9.  Select books based on their cover or title.  Although, since I started blogging I’ll select books recommended on favourite blogs.

10.  Walking through the book store just to be around books.

Do you have OCD habits around books or other hobbies?

Share yours with me in the comments below or at The Broke and the Bookish through the above link.

Where Did September Go?

What a whirl!  Feels like just moments ago I posted on my dread of returning to work full time and losing all my summer freedom…my thoughts and anticipation for fall…and now it’s the last week of September.  Wtf??

I have been absorbed in preparing lessons and marking assignments – all the free time I had for my blog has evaporated.  I am still trying to read though!

Currently re-reading The Awakening for teaching purposes and reading Room by Emma Donoghue (fantastic! can’t wait to write about it).

For those of you still visiting Book Marks…Thanks!  I hope to find more time (dunno where or how) in October as I settle into a routine…I miss being here and chatting with all the wonderful people that visit – and, visiting your sites as well!

Hope to find my groove soon 🙂

How was your “back-to-school” transition?

Summer Comes to An Unofficial End

Technically, the fall equinox does not occur until September 22 this year and will mark the beginning of fall and the end of summer.

Puh-leez! We all know that summer unofficially ends this labour day weekend.

We can all feel it…with school starting next Tuesday, the back-to-school commercials that have been airing since July 31st (I was in shock when I saw it air before August!) and the ever-so-slight change in the weather.  The sun is choosing to slip into the horizon earlier every evening and the air is definitely fresher…less humid.

We are all eyeing those knee-high boots and chunky sweaters in store windows wondering when it will be cold enough to wear them without looking like idiots wearing boots and sweaters in thirty degree weather. (that’s Celsius).

The end of summer means good-bye to easy flip-flops, funky pedicures and that healthy summer glow.  It also means a return to schedules, routines, and the never-ending question: “what the hell am I making for dinner tonight?”  I can hear the clanking of iron bars as they lock into place around me when I envision my September life.  Fun time is over.

Or, is it?

My life will be much more scheduled.  I go back to work as a high school English teacher – where I cease to be Karen for 8 hours every day and become simply “Miss!”  – please add whine and you’ll get the intonation just right –

My life will be divided into 80-minute chunks of time and I will know (more-or-less) what every day will look like.  It is all under my control…that is until Jonathan decides to walk out of class because he can’t take anymore of this “English bullshit” or Tamara tells off Shawna in class because of something she said on FB – yes, both of these things have happened.

Regardless, I find I work better with a schedule.  I have many friends who are great at flying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants.  I envy them because I have to plan to be spontaneous.

The fall brings with it luscious colour.  I love, love, love the changing colours of the leaves.  It is so much more fun now that my son is 3 – we can make enormous piles of cranberry, bronze and copper leaves and jump in!  We can go for fall hikes and crunch the leaves to our hearts’ content.  Who says physical activity ends in the fall?

Fall hikes.  My favourite.  I have a tradition with a group of friends that is going into its ninth or even (gasp!) tenth year now….we always make a date for a long fall hike that ends perfectly at the coziest pub you have ever seen.   We walk, we eat, we drink.  It is (almost) worth the end of summer.

Even though I complain every day about the whole dinner making thing…I’m looking forward to the yummy types of squash to be roasted or pureed in soup. Delish hearty stews with chunky bread and a robust glass of Cabernet. Yum! As much as I delight in the first bbq of the season, fall family dinners are just as welcome. With thanksgiving in about 7 weeks, (in Canada we celebrate the holiday in October), a really great turkey dinner is soon to arrive.

And, really, it is so much easier to wrap up the left-overs and have them ready to be taken for lunch the next day, than have to think about making lunch every day like I’ve had to all summer. (there’s only so many tuna salads I can take).

Even though I am sad that time for me, my life, my family will be swallowed up by my career again next Tuesday, I am envisioning the wicked schedules I will create while wearing the newest boots in my collection and planning the next awesome fall hike as I drink a glass of Shiraz.

So, I guess, fall ain’t so bad.

Happy Labour Day weekend to all!  Do our last summer long weekend good!

Are you feeling any bitter-sweet feelings about the winding down of summer and beginning of fall?

Teaching Teens to Navigate Life’s Detours

Lessons often come dressed up as detours and roadblocks

~ Oprah Winfrey

This quote was tweeted by @Epic_Women recently and it is one that I think I might use on the first day of school.  It is only mid-August, I still have three weeks of “me time” and I am thinking about work.  Teaching never really leaves me.

I think of ALL the different ways my students sabotage themselves.  They hand their power over so easily to the friends that influence, to the parent that neglects, to the siblings that bully, to their inner child that never got a chance to feel loved, respected and supported.  They cannot see that they are accountable to themselves and that they can be responsible for their actions – that the power is in their hands to learn from the shitty things that happen in life.

So I envision myself on the first day of school with my lovely quote written on the board behind me and I will ask them to write or discuss what they think the quote means and to think of examples of how it may be displayed in their own lives – some students will write two sentences or speak two words, others will fill pages or speak for twenty minutes, and others will draw the answer – using stick figures.

Regardless, my aim is to get them to think – to think about not wasting the next year on excuses, on blaming everyone around them, on seeing that they can take charge of their life.

Will I change them?


Can’t say that I think this short exercise will cause a cataclysmic breakthrough that proves to them that behind every difficult moment with me or another teacher or student  lies a “sunlight-breaking-through-the-clouds” epiphany that will reveal to them their true path.

But, I hope that maybe, when they are digesting the anxiety-ridden, sometimes humiliating, at times acceptable, always so difficult moments of each day, one of them might remember….

“What was that thing Ms. said about lessons the other day?”

And, perhaps, in the recesses of their mind, behind the latest gossip on twitter or bbm statuses of their 700 friends, they will see that they can move beyond the roadblock.  That the detour is just that.  A detour.  And, that just because they are fourteen-eighteen (sometimes nineteen),  it doesn’t mean they can’t learn these lessons.  It’s probably the best age to learn such a lesson.

It’s my hope anyway.