Packing for Italy

….busy cleaning up the library and last minute details for the big trip to Italy

I’ve been rather amiss with posting on a daily basis this last week. School is finally finished but I have to admit it’s been a rather stressful couple of weeks.

How stressful, you ask? Well enough to keep me from even getting this post finished. I started this post eight days ago and I’m already in Italy. We’ve been having some issues with Wifi here and I haven’t been able to get onto WordPress or Facebook until today. Presently we’re in Florence and we have a fantastic apartment but this morning we had a power failure. After a day of touring we discovered that we still didn’t have power. Luckily our landlord lives right next door and the problem was fixed with a flick of a switch from his place.

Now I have to figure out how to get my photos onto this device.image

This is a shot of our granddaughter on the flight to Italy which I took with this iPad. So far she’s been a great flier.

Hopefully I can figure out how to get some more photos on here to share with you. Otherwise you will have to wait till I return in ten days.


Share Your World 2015 – Week 49

….thanks to Cee for coming up with four more interesting questions

What would be your ideal birthday present, and why?

I love birthdays and I love to be surrounded by family and friends on my birthday. My ideal present would be a big party with all the important people in my life present

What colour would you like your bedroom to be?

I’ve had grey in my bedroom for years and I’ve hated it. I recently bought a neutral cream colour which I think I’ll much prefer.

Would you prefer snowy winters, or not, and why?

I like snow but I also like it when it melts away in March. Last winter it hung around way too long.

Would you rather go a week without bathing, but be able to change your clothes, or a week without a change of clothes, but be able to bathe?

I think I would prefer to bath every day and wear the same clothes. At least the clothes won’t get as dirty if I start out clean every day. I would probably hand wash my underwear every night.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week I was grateful for a very mild weekend. I managed to get out on Saturday for a walk with the dog and then meet up with my daughters and their families at the Junction Christmas Market. All in all I walked 16 000 steps that day. I also got to spend some time with Miss Winnie. She’s starting to smile more and when I changed her diaper she gave me a huge smile. She makes my heart melt.

Last week, the girls’ basketball team played in their first tournament. They won all three games and have moved on to the West Conference Finals.

Yesterday we hosted our annual Craft Night at the school. We invite the students to bring their parents back to school in the evening and go from room to room and make whatever craft is being featured. This year we had numerous crafts that included golf ball snowmen, melted snowman ornaments, Minion ornaments, cookie decorating and paper crafts. I usually don’t have time to go around and take photos of the different activities but this year I did manage to go to a few rooms close to the library before we became busy. Here are a few of the great things that the children made. It was all over in an hour. It’s almost like preparing a big Christmas dinner where you spend hours and hours cooking and making preparations and then it’s all over in 20 minutes.

For the rest of the week I’m looking forward to having dinner with a group of friends. On the weekend my husband and I are planning on driving to the countryside with our daughters to cut down a Christmas tree. This will be my youngest daughter’s first Christmas tree in her new home. Ideally it would be nice to have some fresh snow but the temperatures are suppose to remain well above freezing so that’s very unlikely.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. Till next time.



Compose Yourself Adjustments

….yesterday I posted photos of Vertical Lines with adjustments to some of the photos

One of the things that I have difficulty with is removing details from a photo without leaving a blur. Cee commented that she couldn’t see the adjustment so I decided to print the before and the after photos. The other thing I don’t know how to do is add photos to the comment boxes.


As you can see I cropped the bottom and the right hand side, enhanced the colour, added more contrast and I took away the yellow sign on the blue lamp post. Can you see the blur now?






Ice Storm in Toronto

…..for days we’ve been hearing about the arrival of this ice storm

Yesterday I was hesitant to venture out of the house because of the ‘ice storm’. Well, yesterday, in the city we really only experienced rain, especially down by the lake. In the end I decided to venture out as long as it was raining water and not ice. I had my hair cut, went to the eye doctor to have my eye exam, did a little shopping to take advantage of some coupons and gift certificates that were about to expire and went to our friends, D and D, for dinner.

Early this morning, at 4:00 a.m., our dog Frances insisted that she needed to go outside. Ughhh! The temperature had dropped and the ice started to form on the trees. At 7:00, she woke me again to go outside so I decided to take some pictures. It was still dark so most of them didn’t turn out but you can see some of the ice on the yew and the ornamental cabbage is nice and frosty.


Later this morning our daughter, A, stepped into her backyard and took the following pictures:


All morning the news has been nothing but ‘ice storm’, ‘ice storm’, and more ‘ice storm’. My father lives east of Toronto in Oshawa and he was without power overnight and my friend L, who lives 15 minutes north of me has been without power since 3:00 a.m.. There are so many trees and power lines down that some experts are calculating that some areas may not get power back for 72 hours. That means Christmas morning without lights, heat, television, computers and anything that runs on electricity. So far 450 000 homes are without power. Oh, boy!

I guess I should worry about my tree in the backyard that is dying. Fingers crossed. Not much I can do about it now. I think I’ll just hunker down and wrap some Christmas gifts.

Basketball All Day Long

…..starting at 7:45 and ending at 2:15

The girls all arrived on time for our last practice before the tournament today.

Practice was grim. Everything we taught the girls seemed to go out the window this morning. The adults in the crowd just shook their heads.

After our 30 minute warm-up, the girls put on their numbered jerseys, grabbed their coats, snacks, water and lunches and boarded one of two cars that transported them to our destination.

The school that hosted the tournament only had one gym which also doubles as the school lunchroom. Ten games, back to back, were scheduled for the day with 45 minutes off for lunch. We knew we were in trouble when our first game was delayed by 40 minutes. Luckily for us it didn’t affect the outcome of the game. The girls looked good and played well. They won with a score of 28 to 8.

We then had to sit out and watch two games before our next match. The delay with the first game threw the schedule off considerably so when it was our turn to play again the school lunch hour was about to begin and all the teams had to go to the library and wait until the lunch hour was over. Unfortunately that meant we had to play two games back to back with no break in-between.

We looked at rearranging the schedule but nothing worked so we agreed to shorten each half to 10 minutes and follow the schedule as it was originally set up. Our next game was against the school that we knew would give us our biggest challenge. It started out okay but as soon as the other team started to pull ahead the girls fell apart and we lost by a considerable margin.

Luckily the next two games went in our favour. In the end we finished close to the time that was originally scheduled and we won three out of our four games. We had to leave before the other teams finished playing but I’m pretty sure we came in second place. Not bad after the sorry practice we had in the morning.

No one was sure how many teams move on to the semi-finals but if it is only the first place team then we’re done for the season. I should know by tomorrow or on Monday at the latest.

The one good thing about coaching girls is that if they lose they always see the bright side. They didn’t focus on the one game they lost, rather they were proud of the three that they won. They were so eager that they were prepared to come to another practice tomorrow morning without even knowing if they move on or not. I needed a break so I begged them not to come tomorrow morning.

Thanks to the parents for their support and my fellow coaches for coming out to all the morning practices. One of my colleagues helped me with the coaching and two student teachers volunteered their time. It was great having so much help and input from these wonderful people. A special thanks to Mr. S who accompanied us to the game today and gave the girls a lot of moral support and great advice during the games. I loved his running commentary throughout the matches. He kept me smiling all day long.


Sports, Shingles, Supper and Shopping

… week so far


Last week, after a flurry of tryouts, we chose the girls’ basketball team. We had to go from 40 girls to 12 when choosing the team. Every morning since we’ve had early morning practices starting at 7:45. Tomorrow is the tournament. Yikes! I know that the season has been short but we literally didn’t get any information about the season until people started to ask when and where the teams would play. My friend, L swears that we’re going to win but I know for a fact that some schools have been practising for over a month compared to our seven days. Anyway wish us luck. If we win, however, it means more early morning practises and another tournament.


No, not the ones on my roof. I’m talking about the painful kind that affects adults who’ve had chicken pox when they were children and no, I’m not the one who is suffering with it. Shingles is an infection of a band of nerves and results in a rash along that band. The pain can be moderate or severe. In my husband’s case, unfortunately his pain is severe and feels like stabbing pains under the skin. This is my husband’s second bout with this horrible infection. He’s on some antiviral medication that should help with the healing process but he’s already at day 10 and only today is he starting to feel somewhat better. There is a shot to prevent shingles but it costs about $200. for one dose. If K could take it, he says he’d pay $1000.00 to be pain free but because his immune system was compromised by his cancer he doesn’t qualify for the treatment. If you want more information about shingles click here.


My brother-in-law from Calgary called on Sunday and told us he was going to be in town on Tuesday on business. He wanted to get together and grab some dinner before he checked into his hotel. Not knowing how well K would be feeling we left it open as to where we would dine. I also didn’t know if I’d be having dinner because I already had made plans to have dinner downtown with a group of friends from work.

It turned out that my dinner was cancelled so when I got home I was able to join them. GS literally arrived a few minutes after I walked through the door and at that moment in time K wasn’t feeling too bad. So we got back into my car and drove over to the Junction to catch up with what was going on in GS’s life while we enjoyed a light dinner at the Indie Ale House. The evening went well but I could see that K was starting to fade so we had to call it an early night. I sure hope these shingles are gone before Christmas.


Now I know that I told you that I didn’t need to shop for a long time but I can’t resist a great sale and I mean great. The doors were only open to family and friends and as a friend I couldn’t turn around and invite some of my friends. I did, however, buy some great gifts for my family and, well, I just couldn’t pass up a good deal, I picked up a few things for myself.   How can you say no to $100. sweaters for $15. 00 and designer blue jeans for $15.00.

Tune in tomorrow to see how we performed at the tournament.



No Sleep is Catching up With Me

….partly due to the time change

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve definitely not had enough sleep. Twice this week I’ve fallen asleep in the middle of my favourite shows. Both times I woke up during the credits of the show and I had to ask my husband how the show ended. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore so when I do the shows are important to me. I couldn’t believe that I fell asleep before 9:00 at night. That should have been my first clue that I need more sleep.

The worst thing that happened this week is that I almost burned down my house. For some reason I decided it was a good idea to start making soup at 10:00. I set the stove on high and went downstairs to do another load of laundry. I decided to stay up and transfer the wash over to the dryer. My biggest mistake at this point was opening up my laptop to check my emails and read some of the blogs that I follow. I completely forgot about the soup.

As I started to transfer the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer my noise started to twitch. OMG! I darted up the stairs and ran into the smoke filled kitchen. I pulled the pot off the burner, opened all the windows, turned on the fan and then removed the pot from the stove and placed it on the deck. At this point the smoke detector went off. I opened the front door and the back door and more windows on the main floor.

Luckily the smoke cleared up quickly but I was surprised that my husband slept through all of this. The smell hung around for a couple of days. The next morning when my husband woke up he searched the house looking for the offending smell.

Today at work I had a melt down. When small things start to bug you, you know that there’s more to it. I’m missing my friend CR, the kids are very talkative and unfocused (too much Hallowe’en candy), the staff is under a lot of stress over their report cards, I’m trying to finish projects for the Remembrance Day assembly on Monday and I have to change up my displays in the hall.

Tonight I was able to finish my paperwork for the book fair and before I left I put up some new work from the grade five class. A step in the right direction. Tomorrow’s another day but I have to admit that thoughts of retirement entered my head today. Maybe four days without meat is affecting me. Some of my friends think that I should add some animal protein to my meals.


A rare Beatles video from 1968: I’m So Tired Demo

Different Points of View

….maybe I won’t go there

I try not to be too political on this blog. As my readership grows I am very aware of my audience. Many are friends, neighbours and colleagues but most of them are complete strangers to me. It is not the latter group that I’m afraid of offending. Even though I don’t use names on this blog the people I talk about know who they are.

Change is always challenging. We’ve seen a lot of change at our school this year. With full day kindergarten we have 6 new staff members in that area alone. We have 2 teachers in the primary hall on maternity leave and another on a medical leave so we have 3 long term occasional teachers. Just recently we learned that another teacher is pregnant and will be leaving in March and another teacher is going on an extended leave in November. More changes coming.

Those of us who are considered prep teachers are finding it challenging this year because we’re giving a lot of our prep coverage to the kindergarten teachers. Two of us started our careers in high school and middle school and all three of us were considered junior teachers for most of our years at our present school.

Today in the one kindergarten class where I was giving prep to the teacher I agreed to let the ECE teacher leave for a few minutes so that she could get a cup of tea. She no sooner left when I had an incident with a couple of the boys. Apparently the one boy wouldn’t let the other one use the toilet and consequently he wet himself. I had to call the office for assistance. Luckily we found him some dry clothes.

Tomorrow I’m going on a field trip with the grade 4s and 5s to the McMichael Art Gallery. For the last two weeks I’ve been preparing my classes for the trip with lessons about the Group of Seven and First Nations’ artists. In order to go on the trip I had to make sure that my classes are covered by the prep teachers whose classes are on this trip. Luckily I was able to arrange coverage for all the classes. I was having trouble filling one time slot and one of my colleagues kindly gave up his prep time so that I could go on this trip. I’ll have to come up with something special for him.

I never did talk about those different points of view. Some things are just better left alone.

Exhausted but Rejuvenated

….I can barely keep my eyes open as I write this

Today I returned to the city after three days at Mono Cliffs with 54 grade 5s.

P1030177 The experience at this well established outdoor education centre was very different from years past. The focus used to be more ecological with geology hikes to the caves, eco hikes through the woods along the Bruce Trail, exploration of the ponds, orienteering, and survival skills in the woods.

This year’s programs still focus on the environment but are more adventure based. The children participated in archery, instincts for survival games, co-operative games and team building, mountain biking and tree top trekking. The last two activities are completely new and just blew me away. The equipment for the mountain bike ride was top notch and the design of the tree top trekking was awe inspiring and frightening at the same time.

Mountain Biking

I have owned bikes most of my life and I still ride today. Now I do more city riding and I haven’t been on a mountain bike for several years. About half of the students hiked a short distance through the woods to a cabin in the clearing where Mono Cliffs stores all their bikes and related equipment. P1030113The remaining students were at other activities. At the cabin each student was equipped with a bike that was suited to their size, a water bottle and a helmet. They were instructed on how to wear the helmet and how to adjust their seats. P1030116

A couple of students who had never ridden before were taken to a clearing with a couple of instructors and were given personalized lessons on how to handle the bikes while the remaining cyclists were lined up and taught about changing gears and braking. Then we all got onto the bikes and rode around in circles for awhile, practising

proper braking, going up and down hills and keeping a safe distance between the bikes. When the leaders felt we had mastered the skills sufficiently we set off for our afternoon ride through the conservation area.

P1030124 P1030125The ride took us into the Mono Cliffs conservation area which is open to the public. The trails started out wide and mostly downhill and when the path became too rocky for beginner riders we all dismounted our bikes and walked for a stretch. The leaders made sure that the children took frequent water breaks and aired on the side of caution with the paths that they chose. As we were going downhill, I realized that the trip back would be a lot of uphill but I didn’t know that we’d be pushing our bikes back up the side of the cliffs. The leaders and the teachers were able to pick up their bikes over the rocky areas but some of the smaller children struggled to get their bikes up the hill. Surprisingly on one complained and they all seemed to enjoy the adventure.P1030126 P1030130 P1030136 P1030139

On the last portion of the trip we rode through grassy fields. This is where some of the children wiped out. The paths were very narrow and overgrown with tall grasses, shrubs and trees. There were lots of dips and rocky areas as well. At least when they fell it was usually into the tall grass. I think at this point of the ride we were all getting very tired. Certainly that was what was happening to me and I started to feel claustrophobic on those narrow trails. I fell twice before I finally abandoned the idea of riding on the hilly areas of the field.

When we got back onto the road I got back onto the bike and finished the ride back to the cabin. Other than a few scratches on my ankles I was unhurt and all the children survived the ride with relatively few bruises. Later in the day the lead instructor came to me and apologized for the route she had taken, realizing that it was probably a little too long and technical for our students. The group that had done the ride in the morning had taken a different route and the group that went the next day chose another route. It is early days for this program and the leaders are still working out the glitches and the best routes to take. P1030140

All in all it was a great experience for all of us and the two students who couldn’t ride at the beginning of the afternoon were confident cyclists before we headed back to the centre for dinner. On our way back we passed the tree top trekking course and witnessed first hand what we could expect to experience the next day. More about that in the next day or so.P1030144

The iPad or my Laptop?

…… which do I take with me on my trip?

Some of you may have noticed that there were a few days where I didn’t post anything. One reason for this was that I misplaced my power cord for the laptop. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to practise on the iPad. Unfortunately I experienced a few glitches.

One of the difficulties that I had occurred when I tried to tried to put photos into my post. I had a lot of photos to choose from but for some reason many of the photos had changed when they went through the ‘cloud’. Multitudes of them only showed an enlarged area of concrete or the corner of a building. I really didn’t know what I was looking at.

The other problem that occurred was that the photos that appeared to be okay just wouldn’t let me place them where I wanted them or they changed sizes on me. Sometimes the text feature would freeze and I couldn’t type anything. Are these problems related to WordPress. Heaven forbid!

I’m not sure that I want to use the iPad as my main photographic device but I don’t know how to get my photos from my camera onto the iPad without putting them into my laptop first. I really don’t want to take both my laptop and the iPad. I think I may be able to use the camera’s cable to upload photos but I haven’t tried that yet.

Does anyone have experience with an iPad? Have you ever had any of these problems? I would really appreciate some input from my followers. I’ll keep playing with it. It would certainly weigh less than my laptop and be much easier to carry on the plane. If all else fails I can try making an appointment at the Genius Bar at Apple.

So that’s why I hadn’t written in a few days. I tried but to no avail. The last few days have been hectic and when I’d get home in the evenings, I was exhausted. I actually started this post last night but fell asleep near the beginning of it. I can finally say “SCHOOL’S OUT“.