Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Change

Five Minute Friday


Linking up with the divine Lisa-Jo for our Friday five minutes of fun.

This week's word is....change.

GO.

What a time of year to be writing about change.

My life changes gears entirely at this exact point each year.  From the lazy summer days of reading, naps, catching up with friends and planning castles in the air, I return to the everyday rhythm of school year life, with all its pros and cons.

The joy of seeing students again, smiles wide and faces tan after a summer spent in the sun.  The sadness of the 6 o'clock alarm; or even worse the 5.30 am alarm.  The joy of new books, new ideas, new plans.  The sadness of, "I'm sorry, I can't - late meeting."  The joy of seeing friends and colleagues again.  The sadness of three little kitty faces as I say goodbye in the morning, never enough time to play as much as they'd like (i.e. all day!).  The joy of helping children to learn, truly one of the greatest gifts.  The sadness of the ker-thunk, ker-thunk, ker-thunk of the early morning tube train.

The joys outweigh the sorrows, but as with any change, it's bittersweet.

As much as I love school and I'm very excited for the start of the year....I'm also counting the days until October break!*

STOP.



post signature * 50 days!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Country Mouse In The City, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I wrote a guest post for my friend Tracy on the things I like to do here in London.  That inspired me to share more about this awesome city, so from time to time I'll be sharing about my favourite things to do here in town.  I've been here three years, so there's plenty to share!

Number 1 is the Thornley six-part bimble:

A six-part tour of some of London's most wonderful sites (best tube stop to start: Charing Cross/Leicester Square).

Part 1: Head to Trafalgar Square.  Look at Nelson on his column and the lions by their fountain.  In the warm weather enjoy the many people splashing in the fountains!
 
Part 2: Leave the square and head under Admirality Arch to the wide and sweeping grandeur of The Mall.  Relive the many carriage processions you've watched sweep through here.
 
Part 3: Reach Buckingham Palace.  Take many pictures.  Do a very happy dance if the Royal Standard is flying high, signifying Her Majesty being at home.  
 
Part 4: Walk along or through the calm sweetness of Green Park.
 
Part 5: Marvel at the Wellington Arch, and if you've time, visit Apsley House, the residence of the Duke of Wellington, with the fabulous address 'Number 1, London'.
 
Part 6: You've walked a little over a mile, and you're now in Hyde Park.  Take a turn about, watch the ducks on the Serpentine, wander through to the beautiful Kensington gardens (where sometimes you might catch a glimpse of the Duchess of Cambridge walking her dog, Lupo), or head north towards Oxford Street if the shops are calling...

Part 2 to follow soon :)

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To dream the possible dream.



I have tried to lose weight so many times.

So.

Many.

Times.

I've done it stupidly and slowly, fast and slow, for good reasons and bad.  I've exercised too much, eaten too little, binged, purged, and generally made a gigantic mess of things.  Many times.

This summer, however, I've tried something a little different.

Rather than facing the daily weigh in, the moment of truth, my first goal this summer was to stop the weight piling on.  To look at my habits of eating, exercise, sleeping.  To tweak things gradually to see what I could do to make better choices. Choices that'll stick.

It's been revelatory and has *really* taught me a lot about myself.

I've worked out (and managed not to get obsessional about it!), slept more, and looked long and hard about what I eat and why I eat it.  Junk food and processed foods are on the outs, whereas good, healthy nosh is in.  And occasional naughties have been looked at too - a scoop of good ice cream, a slice of homemade cake, or a decent quality Belgian beer (Kwak!) is the way forward.

And now I move to a new phase.  The examination and thinking of the summer managed to not just stop weight gain, or even just maintain, but have led to a healthy and happy 10 pound drop.  A good start.

For a start it is.  I want to lose at least 50 pounds, in reality more like 70, to move me forever out of the 'obese' band.  I look forward to rocking 'overweight' - I'm perfectly happy to be the chubby girl (I had broad hips and shoulders, big boobs and a stocky Scots stature - waiflike is never going to happen!), but I refuse to be unhealthy, unhappy and unfit any more.

I'm going to post on this theme here from time to time, because I think being accountable is important.  I hope I have more good news to share before long.

Have a great day!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pinterest: Classroom Funkiness

As well as being a genius place for finding Christmas decorations, cookie recipes and so, so, so many pictures of cute shoes, Pinterest is also a treasure trove of ideas for classrooms and lessons!  My boards are blossoming, and I thought I'd share some of my recent finds which I've hoping to use as the new school year starts up next month!



Not all of these are ones I'll use in my classroom, but I'm definitely printing off a fair few of them!  Love bright posters to wake up a work space!

Source: indulgy.com via Claire on Pinterest


What a brilliant lesson starter for maths.  I think I'll simplify this down to ten steps for our sometimes short maths lessons, but I am looking forward to using this!

Source: google.com via Claire on Pinterest

Ha!  I may just project this on my interactive whiteboard for the first few weeks of term!

Source: shspana.com via Claire on Pinterest


Last year I made scrapbooks with my boys and was fairly happy with them, but found that the sticking in element was a bit of a headache, and that 3D work of any kind could not be included.  Love this idea of using plain pizza boxes instead!
 


Another great method for checking! I'm going to work on a British-English version of this for my rushers!


Again with the fabulous resources!



An absolute wealth of stories!  I love using stories in our classroom, whether it's free reading, class reading, guided reading, library time or audiobooks.  I always find audiobooks a great classroom manager too - five or ten minutes where the boys can have a bit of a brain break and sketch or stretch, and the perfect time for me to set up a new task/whizz through a spelling test or similar!



I really like this idea.  I will have to ponder how to make it work with our existing systems, but I do think it's marvellous!



We do have a class twitter - I may do something similar and share the best tweets of the day at the end of each session :)

Seriously, Pinterest....you keep my game fresh!

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Project Life Tuesday: A Quiet Week For The Camera

The Mom Creative
Last week I took very few photos.  It was a lovely week full of friends and fun; lunches, coffees and catching up, but for most of the events I kept my phone/camera in my bag.  It just felt like a good time to do so - does anyone else enjoy a 'down' week in Project Life?  I have to say I feel replenished and ready to take a tonne of photos in the months to come!

 I had a lovely lunch with Kate on Monday - crepes in South Kensington.  Tuesday was brunch with Payal at Whole Foods and afternoon tea here with Emily.  Wednesday was a wine and catch up session with Eileen, and Thursday was taking the kittens to the vets for their snips (they are recovering super well!) and having a long and luxurious lunch with Jane.  So great to catch up with so may wonderful folk!

This week's little photo selection is mainly cats and crafts...because I wanted some pictures to put in the book!

 I'm working on a multiboard for my study - part corkboard, part blackboard, part display board.  Here's part of it!

 A pile of post, all ready to go!

 Fry loves his pipe cleaner worms :)

 Pensive Poppet
Post-op Leela wanted many snuggles.  Sweet girl.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

My current reads

Bizarrely, over the summer my reading has slowed a little - it's like my brain wants to relax and play, and save the reading for termtime!  It may also be the fact that my 90 minute commute roundtrip has been missing....

Now, however, it's nearly back to work and I have lots of lovely reads on my pile awaiting my attention, including:

All That is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir

The lovely Christielli read this over the summer and said she thought it would be very much my kind of book, so I've ordered it to dive into. It sounds like a pretty fascinating read, I must say!

 Charlotte Street

The latest book by Danny Wallace, he of Join Me fame/infamy.  I tend to really like his books - they are fun and zippy and hard to put down, so this should be a treat.
 
The House of Silk: The New Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes Novel 1)

Confession: I've never read an actual Sherlock Holmes novel.  Excerpts like you wouldn't believe, but never a whole book.  I'm not the greatest fan of whodunnits and I genuinely think I just haven't ever felt compelled to pick the series up.  I'm excited to read Horowitz's treatment of the series though - maybe this will ignite a new passion?

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health

I saw this book in Whole Foods the other day and thought it looked very interesting.  I've been making some pretty big changes to my approach to food and health over the last couple of months, and I thought a little reading on the subject would be helpful!

A Wrinkle in Time (Puffin Modern Classics)

A book I can't believe I haven't read yet.  On it.

So they are my reads for September - I am really going to have to work to achieve my goal of 52 books this year!  What are you all reading?

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Social: The Internet

Sunday Social

Linking up for my first ever Sunday Social. 

This weeks Questions: All About the Internet



1. What is the first website you log on to each day?

Yahoo for email, then school email if it's termtime.

2. Give us some funny websites you visit that we need to know about

Go Fug Yourself - their 'Fug The Fromage' features generally have me weeping!  Every Froday they also do a roundup ('Fugs and Pieces') of stuff they love on the web and there's so much greatness.

Two great Tumblrs are Get Out Of There Cat and Hungover Owls.

Cracked is a good mix of informative and funny, as is Hello Giggles, which I enjoy most of (nail art is beyond my comprehension :().

3. Pinterest or Facebook? Why? 
I prefer Pinterest (it's a genuine addiction), but fb is a decent way to check in with people.  I find it especially useful when I'm super busy at work for staying in the loop.

4. Twitter or Instagram? Why? 
I like them both.  Instagram's a great way of sharing snaps and I love the webstagram features.  Twitter is a riot of opinions and words.
5. Favorite youtube video...post it!

Maru:



I think Maru might be my spirit animal. :)

6. Biggest online pet peeve?

Rudeness and unkindness, probably. 
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Thinking

One of the things I love most about summer break is the chance to stop and think.  To take stock.  To arrange and rearrange the many lovely boxes and bows and buttons which make up my little world and check I have things organised as best I can.

I love having the time to reflect on how lucky I am, and to be grateful for the many blessings which I have.

Many people in the world aren't so well off....I have a clean, happy house in a reasonably safe and stable country.  I have a job I enjoy, where I feel like I help people.  I have a boyfriend I love and who cares about me.  I have a quirky, fun family.  I have, quite literally, some of the most awesome friends on the planet.  I have three adorable kits.

My life may be small scale - I don't jet off hither and thither or party hard or flash the cash (not that there's anything wrong with these three behaviours - I know and love several people who rock such things extremely well!) - but I love it.  My life is books and cups of tea and giggles with friends and walks in the park and comedy and making cakes and snuggling with kittens and washing dishes and napping.

Now I'm in my thirties, I really feel like I'm growing into my life and really enjoying it.  I'm so grateful that I have such a bounty of good things to count up whenever I take stock of my little life.  If what I overheard the other day is true - "Jealousy is when you count someone else's blessings instead of yours" - then I'm very happy to sit here, happy and safe and blessed, counting up the good things as I listen to the rain on the roof outside.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Project Life: Edinburgh Edition

The Mom Creative
Linking up with Jessica, as ever!  This post actually fills four pages of my digi-book - alternating words and photos.

One of the highlights of my year has to be the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  I've been six times and I always have the best time, watching comedy and music, catching up with folk, and generally having a ball.  The past couple of years I've gone with the lovely Matthew and we've had a great time, but this year was a little different.  Matthew couldn't take time off work this month, so instead my friend Lou and I decided to stage an EDINBUREUNION!

Lou and I went to Edinburgh together last in 2008, where we had a great little time romping around and watching tonnes of things.  It's also the place where Lou first introduced me to her friend from the football, Matthew.  Who is now my Matthew.  So both the festival and Lou, both of which hold already pretty darn groovy places in my heart, are even more special for being the reason I met my wonderful boy. :-)

Right, soppiness over.

So Lou and I conspired to head off to the festival together once more.  We could only schedule a weekend away, but we crammed an awful lot into it.  Friday afternoon we met at Kings Cross and had a very jolly journey up to Edinburgh.  We had tea and crudités and lots of fun.  Then we were up the hill to our hostel (bunk beds ahoy!) and off to our first two shows, after a quick drink with Sarah, a lovely girl I went to high school with (we hadn't seen each other in person in about thirteen years!).  We went to see Marcus Ryan, an Aussie comic, doing a stand up gig called Home and Away, and then popped off to see Sound and Fury, an American comedy troupe.  By 1 am it was time for bed.

Saturday we awoke and fortified ourselves with a proper Scottish fry-up.  We then embarked on a day of shows and fun.  We saw both the acts we saw Friday again, in different shows.  we saw the brilliant Sammy J, who made me weep with laughter.  We had a drink with Lou's brother Rich, and bumped into Rachel, a nanny of one of my students, and Jude, a Joinee we both know.  We saw The Blanks (a.k.a. Ted's band from Scrubs) and finished our day with a performance by Showstopper and some pizza eaten while sitting on a wall.  Ah, Edinburgh.

Sunday dawned and we headed once more for greasy fortification.  Then we decided to take an open-topped bus tour around the city, and as well as seeing lots of different sights, we also spotted Danny Wallace, the leader of the group (Join Me) that first threw Lou and I together!  Random, but brilliant - we'd actually spotted him in 2008 together too, but not from the top of a double decker bus!  We then popped along to meet our friend Tim and to catch a performance of Austentatious (they improvise Austen.  I was in heaven!). Then it was off to the station for our first class seats home (so. much. tea.).

Such a brilliant weekend.  Thank you Lou.  Thank you Edinburgh!

 We found Chris Hoy's golden post box!

 Grand hotel.

 A tiny portion of the tickets and flyers haul!

 Castle.

 Monument.

 Gallery.

 Lou always makes us awesome timetables.  Awesome laminated timetables.  Which of course we then dip into beverages as a trick of wonder.  Here, it withstands tea!
 
 Scottish breakfast, replete with haggis.  I'm eating lots of vegetables and muesli this week to repent!

 On our bus tour.

 Best. brownies. ever.  Gooey and chewy - I'm so glad they are in a different city to me!

 Crowds!

Timetable of awesome.


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Monday, August 20, 2012

I Love Your Blog: Juice Boxes and Crayolas

The second blog I'm going to feature as a 'Blog I Love' is Juice Boxes and Crayolas.  I first found Amy's super blog (which covers teaching, books, running, you name it!) when I pinned an idea of hers, and ever since I've been an avid reader.  She has such a great 'voice' and always writes interesting, fun posts.  Thank you so much for taking part, Amy!
  • How long have you been blogging?
I started blogging quite awhile ago, in Fall 2008, when I started student teaching.  My thought was that I wanted to have a record of the experience, but I only wrote a handful of posts.  When I got hired for my first teaching job, I decided I wanted to pick up blogging again and started blogging regularly during my first year teaching.  At that time, though, I was really only blogging for myself and a couple of friends--I didn't read any other blogs and didn't even really know about the whole blogging world!  
  • What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog (i.e. reviewing products, using it as a ministry, promoting a business), or is it more a record of your life?
Well, my blog started as a teaching blog, except instead of sharing lessons and activities like many teacher bloggers, I wrote about stories from my classroom, crazy things that the kids did, happy moments, and more often than not, rough days.  There were A LOT of rough days that first year!  It was mostly my means of self-therapy and reflection during that year.  That summer, I started running regularly after letting exercise fall onto the back burner for awhile, and decided that I wanted to write about running too.  Since then, my blog has expanded a little more even--I now write about lessons and stories from my classroom, my journey as a runner and aspiring triathlete, books I'm reading, random stories from my life, even about being a vegetarian sometimes.  I love reviewing products too, mostly running-related ones.  I have wondered before if I should have a more narrow focus, but I figure that I just write about the things I love and readers can pick and choose the posts they are interested in reading!
 
 
  • What is your favourite thing about blogging?
I have a couple of favorite things--first, I absolutely LOVE "meeting" new people through blogging.  That being said, I have never actually met someone in person that I know from blogging, but I feel like blogging has given me many new "friends!"  The blogging community is also amazingly supportive in my experience. When I found myself looking for a new teaching job this past spring, I was completely overwhelmed by the support I received from readers.  It was just amazing!  I also really love having a record of my past experiences through my blog.  In terms of teaching, sometimes I'll blog about a lesson I loved and include pictures of the activities I did.  Then, when I'm thinking back about that lesson the following year, I can look back at the old post!  I also love going back reading old posts to remember how far I've come in both teaching and in running since I started blogging.
  • What is your least favourite thing about blogging?
Sometimes it is just hard to make the time for it in a busy life!  When I am bogged down by teaching, training, grad school, and attempting to have some shred of a social life, blogging can feel like just one more thing I have to do.  More often than not, though, I really love blogging, so if it starts feeling like a chore I will usually just give myself permission to take a short break and come back to it when I have both time and something to say. :)
  • Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers?
My most popular posts by far are those that describe in detail the literacy instruction systems I have in place in my classroom: Introducing the Daily 5Daily 5: Word Work
I also have had a great response to a post I wrote midway through my second year teaching, 12 Tips for Surviving Your First Year Teaching.  This one is a collection of lessons I learned after my tumultuous first year, and that I continue to learn again and again!

Recently I wrote a post that I was really proud of, even though it did not have an overwhelming response from readers.  It was about all of the things that running takes from my life, but more importantly all of the things it gives back.  Running: A Give and Take Relationship
Last, all of my race recap posts hold a special place in my heart, and I think I will always like rereading my post recapping my first triathlon that I completed in June:  SheRox Sprint Tri Recap


  • Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations
I read a TON of different blogs, but two that I can be counted on to read every post are the Clutter-Free Classroom (a fabulous teaching resource) and Healthy Tipping Point (an amazing healthy living blog).

  • As a teacher, have you found blogging to be a useful tool?
Yes, I definitely have!  Like I said, I like having a record of some of my favorite classroom activities, but I REALLY love the way reading other teaching blogs has given me so many new ideas!  I would never have known about my beloved Clip Chart management tool if not for blogging!  Reading other teaching blogs always inspires me to try new things and to strive for improvement in my teaching.
  • Do your colleagues/students know you blog?  If so, do they check it out?
My students definitely do NOT know I have a blog.  I share tons about myself with my class, but since we live in such a digital age, I have always been paranoid about students and parents finding out too much information about my personal life online.  When I started blogging I actually used an alias, "Miss Teacher," and never posted pictures of myself.  Now I just use my first name and figure that's just fine.  I have shared my blog with a few colleagues who I am also close friends with, but for the most part keep it separate from the people I work with.
 
 
  • How do you fit blogging into your busy lifestyle?
Oh, I'm not going to lie, it's hard sometimes!  I try to keep blogging a fun, happy thing in my life, so if I am particularly stressed or overwhelmed and just don't feel like blogging, I don't beat myself up over it and just take a break.  I try to make time on the weekends to write a couple of posts that I can publish throughout the week.  That way, if I don't have time to write on school days, I still have posts ready to go!
  • What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs?
If you are looking to grow your blog and gain more readers, definitely find other blogs you love, read them regularly, and comment on them.  Before you know it, others with similar interests will be finding their way over to your blog to check it out.  Also, include pictures, the more the better!  If I am reading a blog that has no pictures and huge chunks of text, it can be overwhelming.  Pictures definitely help hold reader interest, and they make the blog more personal.  

Thank you so much for taking part in this series, Amy!

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kitteh update!

So, our kittens have now been with us a month, and I have to say they are a delight.  A sometimes noisy/smelly/slightly scratchy delight, but such a lovely addition to our home.  I'm so glad that they were rescued so they could come to us.  Three very different but lovely characters.

 Fry is a little honey bun!  He is such an affectionate wee fellow and loves to give kisses, check his humans are okay, and have his belly stroked.  His purr is deep and full bodied - when he's happy everyone knows it, which is hilarious!  Here he is perched on the back of the couch, making sure I'm okay.

 All three kitten-cats (Poppet's 19 months old and the wee ones are 13 weeks, so they are all a little kittenish!) love to play.  Here they are with some string, which I really should write as STRING because it is just. so. exciting. to this gang!  They 'talk' to each other all the time - my favourite sound is the chirruping noise they make at each other when they have found something or they are looking for one another.  Too funny!

 Poppet has mellowed so much and become very relaxed.  Because we don't know much about her previous owners (bar the fact that they abandoned her and her kitties) we don't know how she was treated before.  Now, however, she is very relaxed and social and loves fusses.  She also adores Matthew - it's very sweet how excited she gets when he gets home from work!

 Leela is still very small, but eating plenty. She was clearly the runt of the litter, but more than makes up for it with a giant character.  She loves snuggles and fusses but sometimes gets very jumpy and skitterish - I think because she's so small.  She loves playfighting with Poppet and Fry, but needs to learn when to pick her battles!  She's a proper mama's girl - she loves shoes, showtunes, and cheese!

 Poppet is definitely the boss!

 Fry grooming me.  Too funny.

 Leela came to help me write this post.

 Sleepy cats = relaxation.

 Such a beautiful girl!

 Fry quite likes watching TV with me.  And he really wants to tweet - if twitter's open he loves to tapdance on the keyboard.

It's exhausting.


Last up, a couple of recent videos.

Leela grooming:

 

Whenever we give the kittens a little meat or fish as a treat, Poppet and Fry tuck right in.  Leela, meanwhile, does this:
 
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