Thursday, 29 March 2012

Conquering Mount Laundromas

Ever since I went back to working full time there have been a few things that are a big challenge. One of them is laundry.

I just can't seem to keep up with it! I started off  2012 by committing to doing a load of laundry a day. I was talking about this at school one day and one of my dear married-with-no-children friends said, "A load a day? How is that even possible?!"

Truth be told, a load a day doesn't quite cut it - but it seems to keep us all in clean underwear at least.

I did alright for the first two months. Then something happened (report cards? swim meets? who knows...some asundry activity that sucks all the free time I have out of my life) and I started to falter. Eventually I decided it was time to go back to the drawing board.

The conclusion: a load a day is still a necessity - but it doesn't mean I have to do it! Today Peirce did all his own laundry - even without being prompted (well, actually, the lack of underwear might have prompted him...but I didn't ask).

After all was said and done he proudly asked me to come to his room and see his organized drawers.
Wow! I was truly amazed.

He never cared about neat drawers before. (Insert: Things that make you go hmmmm.....)

I posted on Facebook that today was a great day because Peirce was doing his own laundry. An entertaining discussion ensued, and then a dear friend posted, "Why don't you gals like doing laundry? Just wondering."

Like laundry?
I don't think "like" even crossed my mind.

It's not that I like it or don't like it.
But I do hate drowning in it.
And I decided I don't have to be the keeper of the laundry either!

We went through a phase where some unnamed darlings in the house would rather put stuff in the laundry basket than put it away. After warnings, threats, and utter frustration, I finally quit. Retired. Stomped out. Raised a flag. No more gathering, washing, drying, folding, putting away, only to do it all over again with clothes that are negotiably dirty. Nope. They can do their own!

One friend told me her kids have to have all their laundry done before they have any fun on Saturday. And her six year old does his own laundry!

I'm all for it.

Yup. It's going to change my life.
(I hope!)

Besides, the rebel feminist part of me says, "Do your own damn laundry! I'm not your slave!"

Friday, 23 March 2012

Skellig by David Almond

I finished Skellig today. I really enjoy it. It's such an interesting story. I also watched the movie. And of course, I'd have to say I like the book way better than the movie. They really changed the story around in the movie. The book leaves much more to your imagination.

I found myself thinking a lot about Destiny while reading this book. I loved how Michael could feel the baby's heartbeat along with his own. In the story the baby needs heart surgery and when the dad comes home from the hospital he said, "It's over, Michael."

And that was where the chapter ended!

It was suddenly thrust back to that Sunday when I went to the hospital because I hadn't felt movement. The nurse started up the ultra sound machine. She hummed and hawed. Then she called the doctor. He hummed and hawed, and then ....SNAP! He shut off the machine, sat down, and said, "I'm sorry."

I'll never forget it.

Luckily, that wasn't the end of their baby's life. The dad meant the surgery was over. Phew!

I loved all the references to birds, and flying, and love and healing. I'm quite interested to see what the kids in our book club think about this book.

What is Skellig? I wonder if Skellig was imaginary sometimes. Perhaps he was the boy's way of dealing with the stress. Couldn't be though, because his friend saw him too. Could Skellig really fly? Could he really heal? In the movie, just before the "flying incident", Michael gets burned, and while flying, his hand is healed. That's how he figured out that Skellig could do something to help his sister. Besides, his mom saw him too. Or was she dreaming?

So hard to tell!

Check out the cool poster we made at school for book club when we discussed this book:

This website says this about the book:
"Ideal for ten- to fourteen-year-olds, Skellig tells the story of ten-year-old Michael, who is moving with his family into a new house in England. There’s a baby, as yet unnamed, in the family, but she has been in and out of the hospital, hanging tentatively on to life. So besides the normal moving worries, Michael must deal with a loving but preoccupied mother and father who have to focus on taking care of a sick infant.

In the new house’s dilapidated, collapsing garage, Michael stumbles upon an old man, half dead, who the boy secretly begins to feed and care for. Eventually he tells his new neighborhood friend, Mina; she is the only person he trusts with his secret. For Skellig, as the man calls himself, may not be a mortal man at all. At one point, Mina and Michael discover that he has wings—and in a magical scene he takes them flying. Owls also feed Skellig, although he seems to prefer Michael’s Chinese takeout. He mumbles and rants, but he also makes sense at the same time.

The book alternates between the almost dreamlike sequences where Michael deals with Skellig, and the realistic chapters focusing on his school and the baby’s declining health. During the day-to-day events, Mina tells Michael about William Blake. Skellig is just the kind of creature Blake would invent.

Finally, the two parts of the story intertwine, when Michael’s mother dreams of Skellig visiting the baby in the hospital. The baby begins to mend—and Skellig bids farewell to his friends who have brought him back to life.

A book of magical realism, Skellig does not read like any other novel written for children. It explores the healing power of love and a sense of spiritual wonder. Although it can be enjoyed for independent reading, it begs for a book discussion group so that everyone can talk about their own understanding of its contents. My sense of the book changes each time I read it. However the reader experiences Skellig, it remains one of those haunting, amazing novels for children that can be appreciated as much by the adults who find it."


Monday, 19 March 2012

I love this picture. This is what we spend a LOT of our time doing.

That is Allen in the middle of the crowd.

This usually can answer the Monday morning questions of, "So, what did you do this weekend?"

Saturday, 17 March 2012

RC Celebration

We decided to go celebrate report cards tonight.

I wanted to go to Dairy Queen (it's close by so I could get to get soon, easy to find a gluten free dessert, and not too expensive)

Everyone else wanted to go to Earl's (Mud Slide explosion)

They won.

We went and we had a good time. We talked about goals for school. We talked about everything else. We waited and waited and waited.

Our dessert took 40 minutes! I missed my bed time. But the best part was because it took so long we got it for free.

But Peirce didn't get a gluten free dessert. We'll be sorry tomorrow!

Thursday, 8 March 2012


So Jill is a Personal Progress fanatic. She's always working on one goal or another.

She decided she was going to do a ten hour value project.

Chosen topic: making cookies.

I thought, "How are you going to turn that into 10 hours?"

Little did I know!! I think we went through about 32 dozen cookies before we figured out she didn't understand what the markings on the margarine meant and was in fact, actually doubling the margine  the recipe called for.

Translation: my oven is a mess of soft cookie dough that slides off the pan!

But today she finally got it! And sure enough, it did take about 10 hours.

The finished project:

Next value project: How to clean an oven.

The Fourth Stall (Part II????!)

I know. It's not even 7 am and I'm blogging. Reason is, I'm at the pool - again. (Seems like I'm always at the pool, driving someone to the pool, or picking up from the pool) On Tuesdays and Thursdays Jill has an early morning swim practice (we leave the house at 5 am!) and I spend two hours marking or reading (okay....or sometimes I sleep in the car)

Today I feel well rested though so I have spent the last couple of hours reading. My book is due tomorrow at the library. I'm trying to be a more responsible library user and not have to pay library fines (have only paid 60¢ so far this year! ....pretty good eh?!)

So, I have this book out called The Fourth Stall. It's hilarious! Like I said, it's due tomorrow so I decided I better get it done. The story is quite funny, so it isn't a rough way to spend my morning. I finished it, closed the book and laid it on the table where I've parked myself outside The Good Earth at the pool....and suddenly I realize, it's Part II???!! How did I read the whole darn book and not realize I was reading the second one first? What a bozo!

It's Part 1 that is due tomorrow. Good thing it's Thursday. Tonight I wait for Peirce at the pool, then take him to Cubs and wait, then wait for Jill to finish up her activity - in all, about four hours of potential reading time. I just might try to finish book one!

Anyway, the Fourth Stall (Part II!) is a hilarious book. I totally recommend it. It is about some boys in 6th grade at a middle school who run a business. They solve problems - for a fee. The book is kind of middle school Sopranos style - only without the swearing a sex (although there is a girl in the story who the books seem to start to compete for her attention....but they're 6th grade boys - so that doesn't go very well).

I just kept chuckling all the way through it because to kids this would all seem so plausible! Sometimes I watch my kids in my class (Grade 3) and wish I could get into their heads when I see them slinking down the hall as though they're on a undercover mission - but really they're just going to the bathroom....but even going to the bathroom is an adventure when you're a kid! They create the adventures!

Here are a couple of passages that typified how hilarious this book is:

(Page 215, chapter 21) "Kitten was easily the most notoriously dangerous bully in school history. Which was pretty impressive considering that he had only gone to this school for a few years. Everybody, young and old - even you at this point - knew the dangers of crossing Kitten.

"You know who this is, right?" I said.
The littel first-grade ringleader nodded slowly.
"We're taking these tires for my new office. And if you tattle on us, then you'll have to deal with my good pal Kitten here. Understand?"
The little kids stood there staring with wide, white eyes.
I gave a nod to Kitten. He took a few steps forward and the flock of first graders scrambled. They ran off in all directions, some of them so frantically that they fell several times before making their actual getaway.
I shook Kitten's hand, pressing a five-dollar bill into it.
He nodded and wandered off without saying a word."

(page 238, Chapter 23) I tried to stay away from the skating rink as much as possible. It wasn't really a dangerous area of the school in terms of bullies, not like the teeter-totters, which was pretty much skid row, but the skating rink was perhaps the most dangerous area in the school because that's where all the eight-grade girls hung out. Nobody knew for sure exactly what they did down there, but most believed they spent a lot of their time talking about different ways to make boys so confused they cried. Some kids also said the girls lit a bunch of scented candles and performed sacrifices on small animals to help them discover what the newest fashions would be and which boy would be the hottest one the next summer. That didn't seem too likely to me, but you never could know for sure when it came to girls. Because as I've said before, more than a few times: in school, girls are more dangerous than shotguns."

You should read The Fourth Stall. It's hilarious!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I Love My Job

Lately Jill often looks at me in a perplexed way and says, "Do you get fulfillment from your job?" or "Do you really like doing that?" It's usually after I've spent an entire evening marking, or I talk about some crazy thing that happened with a kid that day.

Truth is, I do! I really love teaching. A few weeks ago at a PD Day on of my co-workers, in a PD moment in time lull, asked each person at our table how they ended up becoming teachers. The stories were all varied and quite interesting. She asked if we could, if we would have changed the journey that brought us to teaching (many of the stories involved situations where they had no intention initially to get into the world of teaching), and they all agreed they wouldn't change a single thing. She also asked if we were all still happy to be teachers - and the marvelous thing was, everyone quickly nodded and said they wouldn't change it for the world.

Where does that happen?! Teachers can be a negative, sourly lot, especially after all the years that some of my co-workers have been teaching. It's so wonderful to see that they still love it.

I do too! .....although I don't have all the years everyone else does.

Today after school I went to chat with my principal and vice principal (or she is she an assistance principal?? I don't know). Anyway, I had a couple situations I wanted to get some feedback from them on. One is an odd situation involving parents, the other is a child who is really really struggling. We chatted for about an hour and I walked away, not with answers on how to fix it all - but inspired and buoyed up, for sure! I'm continually amazed at our admin's knowledge and experience and how much they really do care. I learn something every time we have those kinds of conversations - which is quite amazing really. I walk away with new ideas on how I could do things, and I feel better about how I'm doing as a teacher.

Yup. I do love what I do. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Teenagers....they're OK

Every now and then I look at Jill and think, "How did this happen?!" You know that page in I'll Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch where the boy turns into a teenager and wears weird clothes, listens to loud music and acts strange? That's my life! It's almost comical. Almost.

Having a teenager can be a little worrisome. They're more independent. They don't tell you everything. And did I mention they dress weird, always play loud music that they dance and sing to, and act strange?

Now and then though, I am comforted. This is one of those weeks.

Jill said to me yesterday, "By the way mom, tomorrow my class is watching a movie in Social Studies but I didn't bring the permission slip home so I'm not watching it."

Great! Another missing permission slip. In Grade 7 Jill forgot to bring home her options form for me to sign so they ended up putting her in whatever was left in Grade 8 - a real disappointment for sure.

Only this time the story is a little different. It turns out that they're watching a restricted movie and since Jill has decided she'll do the things the For the Strength of Youth booklet says, she decided she wasn't returning the permission slip because she wasn't going to watch the movie anyway.

Oh! Well, that's not so bad then. Wait a minute....that's good! She isn't afraid to do what she's supposed to do - even if everyone else isn't. I was proud of her.

We were left wit hthe task of finding a project for her to do. After about an hour of surfing and other websites I said, "Wait a minute, why are we figuring out what you should do? Shouldn't your teacher be coming up with an alternate project?"

Apparently not.

It would be nice if she could do something that helped her learn more about samurais (or whatever the point of the movie is) than all the kids that watch the movie. We haven't come up with anything really amazing though, so the hopes of that are rading a little. Time will tell I guess.

The question remains though, do I go talk to the teacher about this? I mean, seriously. There isn't another way they can learn about ancient Japan instead of watching "The Last Samurai"? Or do I just let her opt out and quietly stand as a witness of Christ?

Life was sure easier when she was five, would only wore dresses, and got in trouble for taking out Drackett on the playground because he was being mean to her best friend.

I'll keep her though.

One thing is for sure: life has never been dull with Jill around!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Confession: I am A Writer Wanna-Be

I am a writer wanna-be. One day I will write. Right now, I keep telling myself, I am too busy.

Lately I was writing report cards. They get read over by admin. Today, while going over suggested edits, I was asked, "Do you want to write a book one day?"

I didn't quite know what to say.

I wanted to ask: do you think I could?!!! How did yo know it is my dream?! And, did reading m report card comment maybe kinda possibly make you think I could??!!

Instead I said, "Maybe.....I don't know."

...then I deflected the attention and talked about the cool books my mom has written.

But what I really wanted to say is, "Do I want to write???!! YES!!! I have about an idea a week. I feel like the bubble out of me!!!"

....trouble is, it is so muc work!
....and could I ever be good enough?

You see, if I don't actually do it, I can just wonder, and dream of the great stories inside me coming to reality.

I might have to reconsider this.

Kate DiCamillo says you just have to write if you want to be a every day.


I might have to make a new label: writing.

Does that count as moving towards being a writer?

I don't know. All I know is it surprised me how flattered and flustered I felt by the question.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Oh Jill!

My favorite post on Jill's Facebook:

So, apparently you can't order chicken wings to the school. They really should tell people that when they first come to the school!

Only my kid would try to have food delivered to her at school.

Chico Barf and Near Death Experiences

So on Friday Peirce had a PD Day. He had a long list of things planned to do at home and was quite looking forward to it. Normally i make plans for him on days off so that he isn't home alone all day, but this time he had such great plans I didn't worry about it - until I got this text:


I thanked Peirce for trying to clean it up and told him I'd help him when I got home. I had a grade level meeting all afternoon so I showed my co workers the text and we all had a good chuckle.

Then I got this text:

Mom and I spilled some food close to where I was washing the carpet and I ate it then I read the botle and it said poison. Mom I'm so scared. i don't want to die.

Luckily I could take a minute to call him. Poor kid. He was distraught! I talked him off the ledge, convinced him he wasn't going to die, and made a few calls to people to see if someone could go check on him to help him feel better. Allen got home before I found anyone. In the meantime I sure gave some people a good laugh!

Oh the joys of being a working mom!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Back to Life!

Wow, have I ever missed a lot this month. I'm not even sure I can go back and catch up.

February is a strange month in the Ackroyd house. Allen is really busy with RSP season - really busy. After about the first week I get busy with report cards. I seem to be the slowest teacher on the planet at writing report cards. Well, truth be told, I am starting to get close to handling the stuff I need to do it a day to be ready for the next day at school - and that doesn't allow for extra room to do things like report cards. I will get better though!

So for the month of February our kids seem to practically be orphans. Oh, we still get them to the pool and to their church activities, and sometimes we even feed them - but I sure am glad when February comes to an end! I was a little slower this month and drug out the whole report card experience until March 3 - but I am now finished - so we can get on with life!

I think first, I will catch up on laundry. I seem to have fallen off the load a day band wagon. It was working so well too! Back at 'er!