As I write this, I have just started Easter break!
Oh, how I adore Easter break. By this point in the year I am so ready for a good three weeks of taking it down a notch or two. I do work over Easter (I'll be in my classroom tomorrow and Wednesday and have a tonne of reading and research to do tomorrow and Thursday for example), but the whole break from long long days / commuting / wearing smart clothes (lol!) is a welcome one. I love Christmas too, of course, but it's always crazy busy, and summer is grand but tends to get too long for me by about mid August!
Easter, like the third bowl of porridge, tends to be juuuuuuust right. :-)
My Easter break got off to a pleasant start - lunch with colleagues and a pretty present from Matthew Friday....
....spring cleaning at a leisurely pace and a trip to see 'Hairspray' on Saturday....
....and tea and cakes and talk with five of my dear friends on Sunday. I love hanging out with my girls.
And now it's Monday and I'm blogging instead of teaching maths. Yeah, I'm loving this break so far! Have a great week, all!
I actually like cleaning, is the thing. But a crazy work schedule, a busy-ish social life, and a houseful of boys mean my house is not always the cleanest. I do like to keep house and have things tidy, however...I am looking forward to a jolly good spring clean over the Easter break (and that goes for both my house and my classroom!).
When I clean I use a variety of products, but I do have a few things I *always* have in my cleaning cupboard. The first of these is white vinegar - great for washing windows. cleaning mirrors, descaling kettles and taps, plus pretty much another dozen or so household jobs (go ahead and google - it's amazing stuff!). I like to have lemon around too - lots of clenaing uses, it smells nice (I sometimes boil some water with lemon in it to clarify the air after cooking something stinky), and it's a must to use on hands after chopping onions!
I used to be a bit of a paper towel fiend, but am gradually cutting this back (it's all about the environment...). I went to Poundland and bought a bunch of bright cloths which I now use for mopping up, cleaning, dusting and polishing. They're great.
When it comes to the dishes, I *love* Fairy Liquid. I've tried so many other brands, but this stuff is worth every penny...just cuts through grime and dirt. And when something's really messy a wire wool Brillo pad is a must have.
For laundry I use Bold (one of the few detergents I don't react badly too with my sensitive skin), and usually iron using a nice water (Waitrose, M&S and Comfort all do lovely ones). I also love my metallised ironing board cover (even if we did have to gaffer tape it to the board!
After all that cleaning and washing, it's definitely time for a sit down! Then I like to burn candles to make the clean house smell lovely. Yankee Candle, Prices' and Lily-Flame are two of my favourite brands.
I can't wait to read the other posts and pick up some tips! Happy Friday, all!
I remember when I was younger I was kind of disorganised.
OK, I was a lot disorganised.
At boarding school I got so many demerits for being scruffy, slapdash or scatterbrained that I spent about three solid years in detention. I was forever sans a sock or had misplaced my music, or totally forgot *something* and wound up getting told off.
And then in sixth form I continued the trend, especially struggling to make it to the bus on time for school each morning. It used to pass by our house, turn at a roundabout (where the bus stop was), then pass by once more. Many was the time that I went zooming out of the door as it passed by the first time, toast in hand and hair all over the place, all ready for a flag down after the loop. Heh.
I got more organised though, and it's a skill I'm pretty proud of. I think at work I'm organised enough to keep us in line (the work and social schedules of 18 boys at a prep school can be pretty full on!), and I dearly like knowing what's what as I go about my day. I'm getting ever more organised at home too, and love nothing more than time to declutter and nest a little bit (hello, Easter holiday!).
I can but apologise. Work's been hectic, life's been busy, and I've been trying to get my workouts in too. Trust me, there will be oh so many posts over the next month as the Easter break is on the horizon, but right now we still have three and a half packed days to go...
I also wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for all your support after the gym debacle. As much as it was my mess to deal with, your lovely comments and emails really helped me through a little rough patch after the nastiness that ensued. This week I start week 3 of Couch to 5K, and I cannot wait!
This evening, as is becoming my habit, I switched off my work computer, changed into my workout gear and trainers, and headed for the gym. I did a nice little workout out - 20 minutes of cross-training, week 2 part 1 of the 'Couch to 5K' plan, and a little row to finish it all off. I finished up feeling pretty good - I'd been restless last night with nightmares interrupting my sleep, so mostly I was glad I'd put the time in and not flaked.
Anyways, I gathered up my iPod and towel and headed up the stairs to grab some water on the upper level of the gym before headed home. Just walking up the stairs, minding my own business, daydreaming quite pleasantly about actually getting a chance to relax an hour or so later, after my commute.
At the top of the stairs was a gang of six or so teens and twenty-something boys. And as I passed them, this is what I heard:
"She's huge. Fat b****." "What the f*** is she doing here." "Fat f****** c**, why's she in the gym?" *cue inane and childish snickering*
(apologies for the rude words, or the suggestion thereof, but I felt they merited reporting in the events of the story)
Well friends, what can I tell you. At this unexpected verbal abuse, I experienced several immediate reactions:
1. I wanted to cry. Years of bullying and self-hatred and feeling like a second class citizen and being treated like poo for the way I looked and just feeling so very, very ugly for so long felt like they'd just been stirred up. 2. I wanted to give up. Now, I *know* I'm fat. I'm pretty nifty at maths and I know all too well that I am firmly and horribly in the 'obese' camp at the current times. And I know the only way I'll ever get from here to the promised land of 'overweight' will be through a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. But in that split second where a group of people I don't even know tried to belittle me, I wanted to give up, come home, and find a spoon and a tub of something calorific. 3. I wanted to punch them. I never would, but at times my inner Jo March/Anne of Green Gables bubbles right to the surface.
You'll be pleased to know I did none of the above. Instead, I took my own advice. When I teach my boys about bullies I teach them many things, but the three things that sprung into my mind when I was the person facing it were simple and clear. Firstly, don't give them the satisfaction. I have an impassive face like woah when it's required. Secondly, it's not about you. When a bully picks on someone, it's rarely anything to do with the person they pick on. Sure, they called me fat, but if I was blonde they would have called me a bimbo....if I was skinny they would have said I needed a sandwich....if I was gorgeous they would have wolf whistled. Bullies are insecure, sheep-like folk, and I'm so glad I remembered that tonight. Lastly, if you're feeling brave, confront them. So when one of them slunk off towards the door and motioned that he was going to either block my way or grab me (you may be able to guess where. Charming, right?), I just gave him my best teacher look...and he completely stepped aside.
And I was safe in the relative security of the women's locker room. And I wasn't angry or sad. And I definitely didn't feel like giving up. I just felt a little bit sorry for those boys, who have such low self-esteem that their idea of fun is shouting verbal abuse at a random girl they've never met. I may be "huge", but I hope I'd never treat anyone like that.
Oh yes, it's about that time....it's Kelly's weekly blog hop where she invites us all to write about our lives and share with others what we like / do / are inspired by. And this week, the theme is favourite charities! Like so many of us, I have many charities I try to support and which I would love to give more to, and I am looking forward to reading about what other charities others feel moved to contribute to. I'm very lucky in that the place where I work is very supportive of charity - we always seem to be doing something or other to give back and/or help, and I think that's a great thing for my pupils to learn early on.
There are several of the bigger charities that I support, but I also love to help little local ones. I also like to support the efforts of my friends as they raise money for charities - for example my friend Aksinia is arranging a clothes swap in London so fabulous it got mentioned in Time Out magazine, to raise money for her marathon run for the Rainforest Foundation. And my sweet blog friend Michelle is fundraising once more for the brilliant cause that is NAMI. For the rest of this blog post, I'll concentrate on the bigger charities I tend to give to or help in any way I can. I've tried to link to the websites of the charities should you wish to learn more.
I think the work of Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Macmillan Nurses is just amazing. They give such help to people in a scary and unfamiliar time. I'm actually going out collecting for MCCC on Saturday - if you see me, do buy a daffodil!
I'm a huge fan of Compassion, the child sponsorship organisation (I'm also a fan of compassion the emotion, but that's another post!). I sponsor a lovely little girl called Wendy in El Salvador through them, and this has been such a blessing to me. She's a wee gem and it's an utter pleasure to help her in whatever small way I can.
I think Locks of Love is a genius idea, and was thrilled to donate them my ponytail last year (and have had a cute short haircut ever since - see, giving is a beautiful thing ;)).
I try to support Children In Need every year, whether by pledging money, sponsoring friends, arranging an event at school, doing a sponsored weightloss, or whatever. As a teacher it's a charity which is very close to my heart!
I think the work that Cancer Research does is important and vital, and I also think they do a great job in raising awareness. Catching cancer early on can make such a huge difference. I'm doing the 'Race for Life' to raise funds for them in June - it's a pleasure (well, maybe not a pleasure at this precise moment as my body grapples with a whole heap of exercise, but I'm happy to do it) to learn how to jog for them! I hope they raise a bundle of money for their cause!
Lastly, I adore a small-ish charity called Postpals. The premise is simple, as many of the best are. They have a list of children who are unwell or in hospital, and you can write to them or send a gift. I love this charity, and right now my class and I are writing to some little boys we found through Postpals.
So those are my main charities at the moment. I would really like to do some volunteering too at some point, but will probably wait until summer to set that up (the first year in a new job is always extremely busy, don't you find?). I love the idea of giving back, and I'm aware how blessed I am to be in a position where I can give to others.
As I was getting changed after my shower I glanced down at the space by my wardrobe and it struck me how these little piles on the floor by my wardrobe and shelves really sum up what life's about at the moment. There's my workout kit and trainers, ready to go do another stint at the gym. Next to those is my Bible, which I'm reading each day to try and have it read by the end of this year. Behind that is a stack of magazines (for my class to collage with / my colleagues to read), some catalogues (for crafty things for my class), and some papers from school. The yellow stuff is for some charity collecting (that'll be the RAoKing, then). There's some books stacked up, including two recent favourites, The Return and Hear No Evil. There's a box that was once used to take cakes to a friend, but is now filled with leftover props from a school play. Also in there are a couple of sweet cards from friends which I need to scrapbook tonight (thank you, Mlle Wilson and Shannon!).
So that's work, friends, the Bible, raoking, cakes, letters, working out, reading, crafting...all that's missing is Matthew, some housework, my family and a glass of water, and you would have my life right now, in a picture!
Happy hump day, all!
PS From the last post...to do something 'full pelt' is to do it as fast as possible, usually with some gusto and aplomb. Maybe it's a Brit idiom?
So full pelt, in fact, that the first time I typed that title I wrote felt pelt!
Spring is on its way (c'mon London, get warmer. I dare you!), and with it everything seems to be moving up a gear. Work is as busy as ever (and with Easter break still three weeks away, the tiredness occasionally seeps in). I'm trying to keep up with friends and family as best I can. And spending time with Matthew and trying to look after him (big exams on the horizon). I'm doing my Lent thing and writing letters and starting Couch-to-5-K training and studying and doing my raoks and blogging often (forgive me the little gap over the weekend, it was much needed!) and trying to catch up on my Bible reading. There's a lot on my plate, but that's usually the way I'd choose it. Makes me appreciate the downtime even more when it arrives!
This week at Kelly's Korner the theme is what we get up to in a typical day. I am so looking forward to reading what other bloggers get up to, and sharing my typical day. I would say, however, that a typical day is pretty hard to pin down - in school there's always unexpected things to deal with and life outside of school is busy too! So I waited till I had a good, fairly balanced day, and will record that here (the only thing missing on this particular day (Wednesday) was a workout, but sometimes life gets in the way. I really need to stop it getting in the way actually. But that's another post!).
So here we go....a day in the life!
6.00 a.m. Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.
6.05 a.m. Alarm goes off again. Hit snooze once more, but manage to begin manouevering myself out of my warm cosy bed. I like to sleep in a cool room with the windows open, which is always a really good idea until I have to wake up!
6.10 a.m. Ablutions, change, try to make sense of my hair...
6.25 a.m. Breakfast (usually yoghurt, fruit, or bread and jam)
6.30 a.m. walk to Leyton station to catch the Tube to work. My commute is quite long but I've learnt how to get the most out of it now and when I get a seat (40% of the time, maybe) I love to sit and read or scan the paper.
7.30 a.m. Arrive at work. Check email, open windows, check schedule and extra lessons, write up info board, get ready, get a mug of hot water.
8.00 a.m. The boys start arriving, full of beans as ever. Chat and questions and register and allsorts. Lots of chatting to parents and catching up too.
8.30 a.m. Assembly.
8.45 a.m. Double English with Year 4. We did a gigantic spelling test (I'm checking their levels to better differentiate my delivery) and shared some of 'Danny The Champion of the World'. I love Roald Dahl.
9.55 a.m. Morning break. The boys dash out to play, I spend the break sorting resources, helping a boy with some extra handwriting, replying to emails from parents, and grabbing a glass of water.
10.30 a.m. English with Year 5. A fun lesson - we're focusing on scriptwriting and drama so we're having a blast acting out stuff and improvising.
11.05 a.m. Double maths with Year 4. We're starting a topic on weight, so this lesson was a blur of scales, weights, and eighteen boys dashing around estimating and recording weights. A really fun, practical, busy lesson.
12.15 p.m. Lunchtime! I grab some turkey and vegetables and sit down to lunch with some of the boys. Conversations cover football, lego, politics and what we want to be when we grow up. teaching keeps my game fresh.
12.50 p.m. Double non-teaching time....usually. But for the first period I'm covering for a colleague who's on a course. At least it's with a fun group of kids (my form! :-)).
1.25 p.m. Non-teaching time. Three days a week I teach pretty much flat out (Mon, Tue, Fri), so I love the pockets of time I get on Wednesday and Thursday. I spend this time making a start on marking the epic spelling scripts from earlier....
2.00 p.m. ....which neatly fills up afternoon break too.
2.35 p.m. Show and tell, with one of my boys showing a movie he's making and another doing some experiments involving water. No-one gets too wet!
3.10 p.m. The boys have music, so I have time to finish a display we're working on.
3.45 p.m. Time to dismiss the troops.
4.oo p.m. - on this particular day I left early, at just after five. Usually it's closer to six, and seven / eight / nine o'clock finishes aren't uncommon. Anyways I spent an hour after school doing teacher stuff, ready for the next day.
5.00 p.m. To Marks and Spencer to buy some nice food for dinner.
5.30 p.m. Tube home. A particularly cramped and horrid journey this Wednesday!
6.25 p.m. Get home with just enough time to straighten a few things up ahead of company.
6.30 - 9.45 p.m. Siobhán and Eileen come over for supper and catch ups and Glee. On another evening I might be working or writing letters or on a date with Matthew or at the gym or cleaning or blogging or out at a bar or baking or....lots of things, really. It's nice to unwind after a busy day.
9.45 p.m. Ladies leave. Time to clear up and do the dishes.
10.10 p.m. Stop. Shower time!
10.30 p.m. onwards Changing and reading and tweeting and getting ready for bed. Picking out clothes for tomorrow. Checking diary.
11.00ish Bed. Sweet dreams. Hopefully - usually my mind struggles to switch off till midnight, but I keep trying...
And with that, I sign off for tonight. Sweet dreams, all!
The classroom may be a state (science experiments - hello, tidying!)....
...the marking pile may be huge (not as huge as it has been, at that!)....
...but YAY! It's Wednesday! Two more busy days and then the weekend. :-) Hope this week is treating you all well - here we are finally seeing a bit of the sun (it's still nippy though). Bring on the spring!
As ever, the request for questions threw up some interesting ones....here we go!
From Kaz: How far is the furthest you've ever ran without stopping ?
When I was younger I ran distance for my school. My event was the 1,5oo metres, so I could easily run a mile, and often did more.
Now, however, I don't run. Running around here would be difficult to begin with (once I was feeling confident I'd totally bolt round Leyton, but to start with I'd be way too shy), and at the moment work and the Jubilee line are conspiring to keep me away from the treadmills at the gym. But when I was last there I was building up in ten second blocks of running (a miniscule amount, perhaps, but I'm all about the babysteps) and I'd got to three minutes. Not much, but something. At the moment running hurts - I'm hoping that as I get fitter generally (come on spring and Easter break!) I'll find it easier.
From Sparkling Red: Do you wear fancy socks?
Alas, no. I tend to wear general girl socks - pink of blue or black with polka dots or love hearts or things. When I was younger I used to wear odd socks (I was a quirky wee thing), but grew out of this after a few years.
From Riot Kitty: What *is* your favorite pizza topping?
I used to be a Hawaii'an girl (ham and pineapple), but now I tend to go for vegetarian pizza (mmmm, veggies!).
From Hannah: I'd like to know what makes you really angry...I don't mean racism or pollution or Ashley Cole, I'm talking about the day to day stuff. For example, yesterday a girl sat next to me on the bus and she was chewing gum in the loudest possible way, and it really wound me up. You seem like such a positive person, what ticks you off?
I don't tend to get really properly angry very often, but little things can irk me sometimes as they do us all. Like when people spit in the street, or walk right into you, or don't hold a door open for the person in front of them....I dislike bad manners, I guess. But then I tend to focus on the positive and the times when people are pleasant (it's in my nature), so I'm never grumpy for long. I also know that good manners are a true gift, so I feel blessed when I witness the good side of people.
From Wiwille: Do you and your boy have a free celebrity cheating pass and if so who's yours?
If George Clooney invited me for dinner, Matthew would totally let me go. I couldn't cheat on Matthew though - I don't know anyone as wonderful as him, so why would I?
(hee, I just read that back. True as it is, feel free to gag!)
From 'Anonymous': How goes the Bible reading?
Pretty well, actually, thank you for asking. I'm behind (February kept me in a dizzy tizz all month) but should be caught up by mid March. I could rush it but I'm trying to savour each reading and pray on it, hence the delay in catching up.
Do you attend church services?
At the moment I share Communion once a week at school - every Thursday breaktime I go to the Chapel with our Chaplain and we and anyone else who might like to join us share a quiet, beautiful, intimate service. I'm also in a prayer group at school. Other than that, I am waiting until I am sure of where I'll be and what I want to do before I commit to a church.
I am quite strong in my belief that I will only join a church when I can commit to it fully. I believe that a church is a community, and I'd hate to join and then just rock up here and then. I've also had a bad experience with a church in the past and would have to feel utterly convicted before I overcame the fear, I guess.
Do you feel you belong to any of the Christian churches in particular?
What a great question! I'm an interdenominational, I guess. From my grandparents there are strands of Baptist, Evangelical, and Anglican. My parents are non-practicing. I am baptised and confirmed Anglican, and that's the church I feel I belong to the most. I do, however, love a lot of the worship style and mission emphasis of the various Evangelical and Baptist churches, so am equally happy worshipping there. I like churches where people love God and try to live in a way that pleases him, really. I'm a Christian.
From Rityan: How did you come across my blog?
I was 'bloghopping' and happened upon it. Nice to meet you!
From Christy: 1) Where do you want to travel next?
Home! I miss Forres. And Bristol. I miss Mlle Wilson. And that's about it....for now.... Canada, Hawaii, Italy and Germany would no doubt feature on the list.
2) What are your fave iPhone aps? (I need more.)
I love the Trivial Pursuit one. And for when I'm healthkicking, the Sparkpeople one. iPeriod is hilarious (because it exists)*and* useful. The facebook and twitteriffic ones are brilliant, and the Ikea one never fails to make me grin (not least because it now reminds me of this. Thanks, Ash and Rawbean).
3) Is there an *album* that you are currently digging?
I'm keeping it old school at the moment actually. But remind me to send you some Kate Miller-Heidke. She's wicked.
So there with have it, another round. Thanks for all the questions, lovely folk. Have a great week!