Reflecting on this Past Year

…..today I’m officially a senior citizen

There has to be a better designation than senior citizen when you turn 65. I know there are many perks when you reach this age but it also comes with labels such as golden oldie, old fart, grandma, oldster, senior, geezer, geriatric, old-timer and blue hair. Even though I’m a proud grandmother to Winnie I don’t feel old.

 

I look back on this past year and am proud of what I’ve done and happy to have such amazing friends and a wonderful family. I knew that this was the year to retire from teaching. I still loved the job but there were days when I was just plain tired and sometimes I didn’t feel that I fit in anymore. I didn’t want to be one of those crotchety old teachers that criticized younger teachers for doing things differently.  Sometimes I didn’t like what went on but I wanted to leave on a happy note so I kept quiet for the most part. The only people I would share my views with were people closer to my age and those who were also retiring. I have to admit that some of my favourite teachers were those much younger than me. I loved their humour and zest for life.

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Of course the students are what kept me going as a teacher. They weren’t always easy to teach and over the years the job grew increasingly more difficult but in the end the love and gratitude I received in the form of cards, art work, letters of appreciation and countless hugs made it all worthwhile.

This past year I’ve seen my own children continue to grow into responsible and amazing adults. They are all married now and our one and only grandchild is growing like a weed. She is my pride and joy.  Last night she kept saying Oma birthday, Oma birthday while rolling around in her crib. She clearly knows everyone in the family now and can say everyone’s name. She picks up at least 10 new words every day and we have to be so careful what we say in front of her.

My retirement is not quite working out the way I thought it would. I was hoping to do more travelling but it is still early days. Last May my father moved into our house. At 90 he’s still very independent but we’re a little worried about leaving him for too long. So far the longest we’ve left him alone is four days. We’re hoping to travel to London, England in November to visit with our son before he leaves to live in New York City in the coming year. Someone recently asked me if Dad was coming with us. We’ve tried to convince him to make at least one more trip to Germany to visit his brother. It looks like that won’t happen for at least another year, God willing, and I’m not sure if a trip to London would be in the cards for him as well. We’ll have to wait and see.

So as I turn 65 today I can honestly say that I’ve had a wonderful life. Now I look forward to my next adventure and hopefully I’ve inherited my father’s genes so that I can enjoy the next 30 years of my life with the same joie de vivre.

From Record Breaking Highs in February to Bone Chilling Temps in March

….it was too good to be true….winter is still with us

In February we set records for the warmest February ever in Toronto and southern Ontario. People were wearing spring jackets, tee shirts and some brave souls wore shorts. In Toronto all the snow had melted but north of the city there was lots of snow and skiers were enjoying spring skiing conditions.

Every year our physical education teacher organizes two cross country ski trips for our grade 4 and grade 5 students. It is usually the only time I go skiing but I love it, so when I was asked if I wanted to go again to supervise the students I jumped at the chance. The first group went on the 22nd of February and the second group went the next day. Both days were exceptionally warm, 15 degrees celsius. Luckily Hardwood Hills had a lot of snow this winter so the base was good and the conditions were excellent.

I went on the second day so I was warned that I wouldn’t need heavy clothing. I packed three tops and extra socks. I’m glad I did because every time I came inside I had to change my top and socks because I was soaked through from perspiration. Many of the kids skied  with only their tee shirts on. It was a beautiful day and the more I skied the more confident I became. My goal was to not fall. I’m happy to report that I met that goal and I skied the equivalent of 13 000 steps and 50 flights of stairs.

March 1st didn’t enter like a lion but by the evening the temperatures had plummeted from double digits above zero to minus zero in a matter of hours. Today and yesterday the temperatures went even lower to minus 13 celsius. The good news is that warmer temperatures are forecast for this coming week. The ice that formed along the water’s edge will give you some idea of just how cold the last few days have been.

Share Your World – Feb. 6, 2017

….thank you Cee for continuing to come up with new questions for Share Your World

Regarding your fridge, is it organized or a mess inside?

Since we got our new fridge just before Christmas it’s pretty organized. In the old one many of the shelves and bins were broken and removed so it was really difficult to see what was in the fridge. I’m loving my new fridge.img_0735

Do you prefer your food separated or mixed together?

I’m not too fussy either way but I do love casseroles and soups. I’ve never understood people who can’t have their food touching other food. I think it’s some kind of mental disorder.

Do you prefer reading coffee table books (picture), biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational?

I like looking through coffee table books but my favourite genre of books would have to be fiction. I’m partial to historical fiction and mysteries. I’ve tried reading biographies but I find many of them to be too dry and factual. I guess if they weren’t factual they wouldn’t be biographies but sometimes too much and perhaps unnecessary information is included and that makes the story burdensome and long winded.

Close your eyes. Listen to your body. What part of your body is seeking attention? What is it telling you?

Right now the bottom of my left foot is sore. It’s only sore on the heel and once I start walking on it I forget about it. I don’t know if I need to change shoes, get orthotics or lose more weight. It’s probably a combination of all three.

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

I’m grateful that my report cards are done. My father seems to be doing well and is making plans to travel.

Since I’m late posting this week’s Share Your World, last week’s  gratitudes are from 10 days ago. I’m grateful for being invited to attend a Varsity Blues Women’s Basketball game with the grades four and five students. It was a lot of fun.

This week I was able to spend some more time with my granddaughter and I enjoyed going out at different times with two very special friends. Yesterday another good friend, D, hosted a musical bells party. It was wonderful seeing a number of people from the cottage and D’s extended family. Playing the bells was a lot of fun as well.

 

Nature Art at Camp Kawartha

….environmental messages from our grade 5s

Last week I spent 3 days in the Kawarthas with 59 grade 5 students.  The days were filled with great learning opportunities about the environment, survival practices from the past, games played by indigenous peoples and songs sung around the campfire. Most of the activities were outdoors and involved scavenger hunts, archery, night hikes, fire making and a game of survivor amongst herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. During free time the students could continue playing outside or pick up one of many games that were available to them in the lounge.

Every meal, students took turns setting the tables, serving the food and cleaning up, including washing the dishes using the large industrial dish washer. There was lots of food (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack) and no one needed to go hungry. The kitchen was impressed with how much salad this group ate.

After supper two of us were responsible for organizing hour long activities for the students to participate in before the evening program began. I took on the role of planning an art lesson. During the day I had students pick up things from the ground to use in a nature collage. Days before the trip I cut up about 80 pieces of cardboard to use as our background material and I brought bags of magazines and pieces of assorted papers.

I instructed the students to come up with a piece of art that gave some kind of message about protecting our environment from global warming or saving wildlife from poaching and/or loss of habitat. They were free to use any of the materials that I brought and the things that they found in the forest. The students were completely engaged and came up with some very interesting  works of art. Here is a sampling of their creativity.

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School’s Out So Why Am I So Emotional?

….it’s been an exhausting week

The week started with rehearsals for the grade five farewell. I narrated an adaptation of Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss and I emceed the assembly. On Tuesday the actual farewell took place and it was a beautiful ceremony. Many of my favourite students were leaving us for middle schools and of course so were their families. Some of these parents I’ve known for ten years because I also taught their older children as well.

At the end of the day my friend L and I were invited to attend one of the house parties. The children were all playing in the backyard while the adults gathered in the living room. I had a great time. There were lots of great nibbles and wonderful adult conversation.

The next day when I arrived at school I had a meltdown as soon as I entered the school building. I’m not sure why. The grade 5s were heading out for their special activity day (swimming, BBQ and mini golf) and for the rest of us we had a play day at school. I was in charge of the water boot race. I felt completely unprepared but I had all the equipment I needed and all the organization had been done by our amazing PE teacher. I think it probably had something to do with the fact that this was the first time in 16 years that I didn’t go away with the grade 5s.

In the end, my activity was a big hit and I actually had a lot of fun doing it. In the afternoon, students from one of the grade 4 classes helped me sort through all the prizes from Jump Rope for Heart and they delivered them to all the classes. That was a huge help. The final total for money raised this year was just under $9000.

After school we had our staff party. PJ hosted at his place as he does every year. He has a pool and I think there were more people than ever in the pool. It helped that it was a warm humid evening. We said good-bye to two staff members that were leaving to continue their  careers at other schools and two teachers are going on a leave for a year.

Today students and parents approached me all day with gifts, cards, flowers and warm wishes in between teaching classes.IMG_5370 We also had one final assembly in the morning where we recognized students of the month. All the summer birthdays, including mine were, were announced on the PA and we were given birthday ribbons, stickers and bracelets. It’s strange being wished a happy birthday when it’s still two months away (Aug. 28th). Even my last kindergarten class of the year sang Happy Birthday to me.

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As I mentioned earlier I received numerous gifts throughout the day but the one that brought tears to my eyes came from four students who were leaving this year. They were also the same students who have attended the tea party for the last two years. They knew that I have a Pandora bracelet and they purchased a charm, a tiny silver teapot, to add to my collection.  IMG_5372 IMG_5373

I’m not sure why this year was more emotional than past years. Maybe because I’m getting older and I know that my time as a teacher is soon coming to an end. Whenever I mention retirement, the staff and students won’t hear of it but I know that I can’t go on forever. I’m now looking at one year at a time but I’m pretty sure that in two years I’ll be saying good-bye.

Tomorrow the teachers will be back at school. Our principal is hosting a breakfast for us and then we’re off to clean our rooms. Last year I knew that the library was being renovated and I had a big job packing up books in that last week of school. This year I found out that the storage room where I store all my art supplies is being turned into a new office for the caretaker, so all the paper, paints, art supplies and art carts have to be removed. Guess where they’re going for now? The library. I know what I’ll be doing that week before school starts. Can’t worry about that now. I’ll cross that road when I get to it.

Fun, Fun, Fun

….last week’s Fun Fair was a huge success and of course a lot of fun

Last Saturday our school council hosted the school’s 15th annual Fun Fair. Over 500 wrist bands were sold which allowed the children unlimited access to the rides and carnival games. Hundreds of cakes were donated for the popular Cake Walk and this year the silent auction was brought back. Each class made an art object that was auctioned off and numerous businesses in the community donated products and services for the auction as well. It was a huge success.

The day was perfect. The weather cooperated. Parents and high school students volunteered their time to run events. Injuries were minor, a few scrapes that were quickly treated with bandaids. Music was provided by our OA and her husband. The police and fire department let the kids sit in the police car and the fire truck. At least this year the truck wasn’t called away in the middle of the fair. Dads manned the barbecues and the food was delicious.

The fair was easily attended by at least 1000 people. For every child at least one parent or significant adult accompanied them. Teachers came to show support and every year former students return. It’s always nice when they greet you and are sincerely happy to see you again. It was truly a day of fun, fun, fun……..

The Biggest Snow Storm Since 2008

…. and the school board kept schools open today….sigh!!!!!!!!!!

The accumulation of snow overnight was far less than predicted so the TDSB decided at 6:30 this morning to cancel  school buses but keep schools open. The forecast for the rest of the day, however, was for even more snow than originally predicted because of the delay. The drive into work was hazardous but coming home was even worse.

Over 120 students didn’t come to school this morning and over the course of the day another 40 were picked up before the end of the day. Even though we were willing to combine classes and let teachers who had a long drive ahead of them leave a little bit early the powers that be at the board office refused to let principals make those arrangements. 

The city claimed that there were hundreds of snow ploughs out clearing the streets, but  we didn’t see one all day long. The ploughs that are suppose to clear school parking lots never made it to our school. Our first worry, after getting to school unscathed, was how we were going to dig out of the parking lot when we were finally allowed to go home. 

My friend L took her music classes outside in the afternoon with shovels and brooms in hand to clear off teachers’ cars and dig out the snow around them. They loved it and we appreciated the help.

ImageImageImageEven with all their help, one of the most difficult parts of getting home tonight was getting out of the parking lot. We made sure that no one was left behind and with lots of guidance, patience and muscle each car was directed and pushed to the road. 

The drive home was slow and scary. At times I wasn’t sure if I’d make it over the unploughed  streets or up and over the bridge. When I finally got to my street I knew immediately that it hadn’t seen a plough all day. Twenty feet from the house I couldn’t move the car any further. When I tried to open the car door to get help it hit a wall of snow. Luckily a neighbour was out with his snow blower and came over and cleared the snow around the car and in front of my house. My husband came out as well and cleared away more of the snow so that I could finally pull into the driveway. 

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All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and enjoy a glass of wine to calm my nerves. After more than 24 hours of snow it’s finally come to an end.

Believe it or not I’m actually looking forward to getting out tomorrow for a long walk through the white fluffy stuff.