Monday, March 31, 2014

April Challenge

This challenge is perfect! There are 30 days in April and I've been challenged by a reader, Kim, to bring home 3 items from school each day to help reduce the amount of packing up I'll have to do at the end of June which is the end of my teaching career.

Ok students - put up your hand if you know the answer to this mental math question!!

3 x 30 = __________

Yes, you're right!! That works out to 90 things out of my desk drawers, my office, my filing cabinet, my craft cupboards...oh and I can't forget the picture books that belong to Kazi from when she was a teeny tiny little thing. (some things don't change! She's still teeny tiny...especially when she's standing next to me!)

But I digress...OK, next math question - how many days left in my career?? Look down my sidebar...or I  could just tell you and save time - 90!! Coincidence?? I think not!! So I guess that means I can retire at the end of April instead of June right??....No? Well, I tried.

So I said yesterday I'd post pics of what I've brought home already however some has been packed away or assimilated into the general clutter of the house but I found these things that I brought home last week:
 No teacher could exist without post-it notes in every design, size and colour! I have tons left because I won a draw a couple of years ago at Staples - it was my most thrilling win ever!! And coloured file cards, a To-Do list book from Dollarama - that turned out to be my best organizing strategy of all the various thousands of strategies I tried over the years...a wee tube of super glue just in case the post-its don't stick!

 a pink box that used to hold Kazi's beanie babies long ago...couldn't leave it at school. A handmade wooden cross that I made with my youth group at Sunday school eons ago. It fits perfectly in the palm of my hand - that's a keeper. Oodles of ear phones I've taken in to school over the years but most of my students preferred head sets instead. I'll use them on my many gadgets.
And finally two boxes of All Occasion cards. I had more than the two boxes over the years - they come in handy for...well...all occasions!! My plan is to start sending snail mail again when I retire because the odd time I ever get something - a card, invitation, whatever - in the mail I get so excited! So I may be collecting your addresses soon :)

So my challenge begins officially tomorrow - I wonder what I'll bring home...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Mornings are Simply Divine!!

It's Sunday morning - a very peaceful time - the sun is shining though it is still below 0c but I'm not about to complain. Lots of bird activity outside my window, my coffee is at hand, the washer and dryer are humming away and I had a great day yesterday.

I got a few of those little jobs done - put a second coat of paint on the coat closet and basement door, painted the trim around the patio doors so I  could put the curtains back up, put a new knob on the coat closet door, painted more trim and started to paint the wall heading down to the basement.

 Isn't that exciting - my basement door - FINISHED!
 Even more exciting - the coat closet - painted and newly knobbed!! (That sounds kind of kinky doesn't it?)
 Simple sculptural ceramic knobs - nothing fancy but a sight more attractive than the previous plastic ones.
 Trim is painted, curtains are back up - the area rug for this room is supposed to arrive April 2nd!!
More of the stuff from Talize that was previously sitting in a cardboard box.
 A closer up of the wire candelabra- I have a few different sizes.
 Probably THE MOST exciting photo - the snow is receding at about the same pace as a glacier! revealing my new flagstone patio.
My first completely empty can of paint - yahoo!

While I was engrossed in painting yesterday I had a text inviting me to a friend's son's birthday dinner. Having known the family for years I was happy to meet up with them at the Sweet Onion Grill for fun times and good food. The newest addition to the family - Sophie, age 3 months, got passed around and around with not a peep - she is a placid and content little one and yes, grandma let me hold her briefly!

 Grandma with Sophie...
 My friend Troy and Sophie...
 Grandpa with guessed it - Sophie!
 My best shot of the night - Ethan - the 23 year old birthday boy.
Blowing out the candles with a few of his wee friends!

Then I went back to Troy's house where we chatted for hours and enjoyed a really delicious bottle of wine. I'll have to get the name of it - it was a "staff pick" at the LCBO.

One of my readers, Kim, gave me a great idea for a challenge in April:

"How about an April 3 School Challenge? Bring home, gift, or recycle 3 school items each day. I am giddy with excitement about your retirement because I'm living vicariously. I'm not sure what I'll do with all my school supplies, books, decorations in 5 years."

I had written about the March Take 3 challenge which I summed up yesterday. So I've decided I'll accept Kim's challenge for April :) Thanks Kim for the great idea!! Tomorrow I'll post pictures of some things I've already brought home and then beginning Tues. April 1st I'll bring home 3 items a day from school. This is a completely doable challenge and should make clearing out my office and desk drawers a non-issue come the end of June. 

I LOVE getting ideas from readers. Keep them coming!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Made it to the Weekend

That was a tiring week but I made it and I'm happy to see the end of March coming up soon. "April" just sounds so much better than "March" - I hope, really really hope, to see temps rise up above 0c and to see the end of snow - both "new snow" and the old dirty mountain ranges still lurking in parking lots everywhere.

This weekend marks the end of Carla's "Take 3 Challenge" which saw some of us complete a personal, financial and decluttering challenge. I say "some of us" because I kind of got off track for awhile. BUT I'm happy to report that I managed to get back on the wagon to close out the month.

My personal goal was to juice at least once a day and to get back on my stationary bike. Although I haven't updated my cycling kilometers in the sidebar I have been cycling over the past week or so...first for 30 min. at a time and then I upped it to 40 min. which roughly works out to 8-10km each time. I got off track because of my very sore knees - the result of kneeling on hardwood floors while painting walls and trim. They are somewhat better - still painful and creaky but not agonizingly so.

In the area of finance March seems to have lasted FOREVER!! My last paycheque was on the 14th of March which meant THREE weekends before my next pay on Monday, March 31st. So last weekend and this weekend I've been laying pretty low as I can't really afford to go out to dinner or to the movies. I tried to save my usual amount but then have had to transfer a bit out of savings TWICE to cover bills. The reason being I bought TWO new area rugs to protect and decorate my newly painted dining and living rooms. I also went shopping at Talize to buy some "neutral" decor pieces. I did really well spending only $75.00 for a number of "personality-free" wall hangings and pillows etc. Here's a sampling of what I purchased:

 There were 3 of these REAL WOOD frames holding small mirrors - I know just the wall for these in order to reflect some light into a windowless spot. $3.00 each.
 This is a handmade ceramic tile mounted on a REAL piece of wood - it's hard to tell from this photo but the leaf is a gorgeous chocolate brown on a lovely pale green background . $2.00
 I LOVE this pillow which is a good match for the love seat in the living room. $3.00
 A plaque with a nice wood frame...hanging "words" on walls is all the rage these days...
 and I felt I might need this encouragement once ensconced at Crofters Lane!!
 A real steal! Marlboro silver plated dish for the powder room. I was on the lookout for cobalt blue items I could use in this room in order to add that all important "punch of colour!" $2.00!!
 Another angle - pretty isn't it? I also was able to purchase a set of SIX dark blue hand towels for the powder room @ $2.00 each - that seems a bit pricey for Talize but they were in great shape.
 A box of items I haven't dealt with yet. A nice blue pot ($1.00) and many wire candelabra that I plan to spray paint for use on the patio and inside too. (Small ones were $2.00 and the larger ones were $3.00) I had tried to order a candelabra to replace the one that Michael took with him when he left but they wouldn't ship it to Canada. It was in the $80.00 range so I've saved a bit of money there! Also in the box is a gorgeous lotus flower candle holder - I've always wanted one. ($2.00- they sell for about $30.00 each at 10,000 Villages)
Two gorgeous big plump pillows for the futon in the basement rec room. That's where I watch TV so I'm very happy with these pillows - so comfy! ($4.00 each)

I also bought a bracelet with a similar spiral design as on the pillows and a pair of earrings with dangling seed pearls for myself and 3 movies for a student at school. I may have forgotten an item or two but that's mostly it. Great deals eh? I really like what I bought and can see keeping everything once the condo is sold.

Then I also had a trip to the Home Depot because I needed to replace the glass portion of my kitchen overhead light that I accidentally broke :(  ($10.00) and 5 white china knobs to replace the plastic ones on the closet doors. I'll take photos of those items today after I've finished painting the closet doors :) Yes, I'm going to get back into the painting but not a marathon, just a bit at a time as my right shoulder still isn't back to its normal level of soreness!

Oh and I mustn't forget I splurged and bought a Lucinda Williams album on iTunes for $7.99!! Yikes, I'm out of control people!! Somebody stop me!!

So I did have some unplanned spending but the money taken out of savings will be replaced once I finish my taxes and get my refund. I finally have all of Kazi's T4 slips - now just waiting for her tuition amount. Ho hum...

I am getting rid of a box of Kazi's old shoes to help with the decluttering efforts. However I am also adding some things into the house as I have begun to bring home stuff I have at school. Some stuff I will keep while most will be added to the yard sale pile. Can't be helped - don't want to leave it all to the last day. There's a lot of ME in that classroom and office and I'd rather dismantle a bit at a time than have to spend a whole day on it.

So that sums up my March Take 3 Challenge. I wouldn't give myself an A in any category as all of them had their ups and downs so I'll give myself a B+ - I can live with that!

Are you closing up your March budget?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Two Things.....

Ok, tell me if this is just me...I've probably been to the dentist at least 100 times in my lifetime (that's scary isn't it?) but today was the very first time that the hygienist rested her chin on my head when she was working from behind me. (I've never had this hygienist before.)

Is this common ? Unique? Weird? I'm wondering if it was just because she's petite? It's not that her chin was bony and uncomfortable or anything as it wasn't. It was quite soft actually. She just very gently rested her chin on the top of my head - maybe for balance?? I'm grasping at straws here...

Secondly, this note was on the kitchen counter when I came home from the dentist:

Hey - don't get distracted by the lovely beach scene...well OK, go ahead for a minute or two - just lose yourself in the horizon, the sand, the blue sky, the imagined warmth, the pier...I'll wait...

Done? So today was Kazi's first day at her new "adult" job. She had to take last week to address some health concerns, had an ultra sound, bloodwork and so on. She's been having a lot of pain in her "female parts" and her new workplace gave her the week to sort things out which was awfully decent of them. Her reaction to Day 1 of LAUNCH 2014 is not overly enthusiastic but I'll take it! There's a smiley face :) That has to be good...right?

I'm imagining my front door opening up, the pier stretching off into the distance and Kazi with her suitcases doing a little yellow brick road dance off into the sunset. Get thee launched child!! GO!! 

I really do love her you know...

PS - next time I go to the dentist I'll be RETIRED!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finally Making it

It's hard to believe another terrible snowstorm is bearing down on the east coast this week (has been compared to Hurricane Juan which devastated Nova Scotia in 2003!!) as I look out onto the back patio where the snow is receding, the sun is shining, buds are on the trees and many birds are flitting about. But then snow is in our forecast too so I better not get used to this!

Where was I?  I went on quite a tear yesterday detailing the number of jobs I've had over the years. Everyone thinks teachers are highly paid and well off but that's not always the case. I didn't begin my teaching career until I was 36 years old and for 7 years I made just an hourly wage as an "occasional teacher."  I started off at $30 an hour which was twice as much as the highest salary I received  working for the Royal Bank. HOWEVER at the bank I was paid for a 37.5 hour week, at the Adult Education Centre I was paid for 25 hours a week. They paid only for teaching time, no pay for prep work or marking. That was still WAY more than I had ever earned before!

There were lots of days that I wasn't paid for. If I stayed home sick or if I stayed home with my sick daughter I didn't get paid. So I found a nursing service that cost $15 per hour. When Kazi was ill I had peace of mind knowing a nurse was caring for her and I still cleared $15 per hour which was better than nothing. Holidays were not paid for and the days in between 10 week contracts were also unpaid. I was able to get some unemployment during the down times @ 60% of my hourly wage. And of course there were no benefits. I didn't go to a dentist for 7 years. Because we were connected to the Ministry of Community and Social Services Kazi's dental and medical needs were covered. We also received a subsidy on daycare which really helped. I have to say that the "safety net" was there for us and I appreciated it sooooo much!

At this point in my life I had never yet owned a home. Every weekend I would scour the real estate ads and dream. I didn't think it was possible for me to get a mortgage. Then I read "The Wealthy Barber" by David Chilton.  What I learned from that book helped me to get approved for a mortgage. I didn't know you could take money from an RSP to use as a down payment without a penalty - and you were given 17 years to pay it back into your RSP!! I think I had a whopping $1700 in my RSP at the time. He also advised cashing in on life insurance and buying term insurance instead. I had had two life insurance policies from when I started in banking so I cashed them in. Now I had about $4200 to use as a down payment. I also borrowed money from my dad as there were legal fees and moving expenses. (my dad loaned money interest-free to all 5 of his kids from time to time with the expectation we would pay him back and we always did! We called it the Bank of Dad!)

I discovered the condo complex we live in in the weekend paper. The units had been rentals and someone had purchased them all to renovate and sell as condos. The price was right so i went to the bank to see if I could qualify for that amount. The wait was excruciating but eventually I was approved! After giving birth that was the highlight of my life!!   Kazi was 4 and I can remember jumping up and down screaming with joy ' "we're owners we're owners!" I don't know if she understood the concept but if mommy was overjoyed so was she! We wandered around the complex to look at the available units - none had been renovated yet so i was just looking for the best location. We picked an end unit that had a gorgeous crabapple tree in front of it. There were lots of mature spruce trees and they planted a lot of maples which are now 40' tall. I got to pick out the kitchen cupboards, all of the flooring, the countertops etc. It was thrilling! It was also a bit of a risk as the condo corporation had to sell 80% of the units to be considered a corporation but they soon did.

Finally in 1999 teaching positions started to open up. I applied and was interviewed for a Curriculum Resource Teacher. I didn't get that position but my resume crossed the desk of one of the Directors of Education. He gave me a call and offered me a permanent .5 position. I replied that was great but I needed full-time, not part-time work. So he found another .5 position and hired me over the telephone!! (This would not happen today!!) The first half-time position had a LOT of turnover in teachers. He asked me to commit to 2 years minimum. Both .5 positions were in special education and luckily I had taken Special Ed courses in previous summers.

The learning curve was straight up!! I never worked so hard in my life! But I enjoyed the challenge - I was 43 and still had lots of energy. And the board sure got its money's worth from me - the position in the morning was a highschool position and the afternoon job was an elementary position - that meant travelling from one school to another on my lunch. I started an hour earlier in the morning and the afternoon job went an hour later so all in all I worked for free for six months over the 3 years I worked those 2 jobs!! My instructional day wasn't the usual 5 hours, it was 6! I was told by my elementary principal I could go to my union with a grievance but I was just damn happy to have a permanent contract - I wasn't going to make any waves! I had benefits, I had a bump in salary, what more could I ask for?

Three years later the same director gave me a call. He was being relocated to another school board and before he left he wanted to offer me a highschool position which would mean only working at one school - no more driving during my lunch hour. He had asked me to stay in the .5 position for 2 years and I had stayed for 3 - so I think this was my reward. (Again, this would never happen today - I would have to apply along with anyone else who wanted the position). I don't know how he managed it but he did and I came to my current position which I've held for the past 13 years. It's made a huge difference to my life and i like to think I've earned it by giving it 110%.

Oh, forgot to mention the glitch when moving from an occasional contract to a permanent contract. Yes, there was a glitch of course, when isn't there? Although I had worked for 7 years as an occasional teacher that only equated to 3.5 years on the teacher's pay grid. Why? Some courses I taught in addition to visual arts didn't qualify (basic numeracy and literacy) and the courses I taught at night didn't count either. I was pretty downcast about that as it took almost 7 more years to reach the top of the pay grid!! Well, that's my life - work hard for my money! That means I was 50 years old by the time I reached the top of the grid. Now I'm 57 - so I've only been earning top dollar for 7 years. In May I'll be 58 and I'll be retired at the end of June.

HOW is that possible you ask?

The main reason is because we never moved out of our condo which was paid off at an accelerated rate. Another "Wealthy Barber" tip - ALWAYS PAY MORE THAN YOUR MORTGAGE PAYMENT!! And don't buy your home based on 2 salaries which is the big mistake people are making today. One person loses their job and they're screwed!

So while other teachers bought bigger houses, new cars, cottages and had tropical vacations during Christmas and March break Kazi and I stayed put in our condo, I bought used cars and our vacations were based on her highland dancing career (which I could never have afforded if we had moved to a bigger house!) We've vacationed in Alberta, Montreal, Nova Scotia (first time Kazi was on a plane!), the Gaspe Peninsula, Cape Breton and Ottawa. Our big "extra" purchase came in 2005 - I bought a trailer in a Bayfield trailer park (on Lake Huron) for $10,000 which I paid off in a year. It was paradise - we loved it - a more luxurious form of camping complete with campfire and nearby beach.

And in 2007 I began to seriously think about retirement. I created a 7 year plan based on retiring TWO YEARS EARLY on a reduced pension. Yup - I'm not eligible for  a FULL pension until 2016 but I would rather have two extra years of LIFE than a little extra $$ per month. So I worked towards becoming debt-free and saving as much as possible. We live on half my income and I bank the rest. Once I'm retired I'll already be used to living on my pension amount. I'll have savings, I'll sell the condo and I've already purchased my retirement dream home in PEI where you can still get property at a reasonable price.

That's where I'll end today. I know there are a lot of missing pieces in my story but I'd be sitting here writing for weeks to TELL ALL so it'll have to be a bit at a time.

It's a gorgeous sunny day here in London, ON, hope you enjoy your day!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Look down, look waaaaaaaay down!!

My title reminds me of a show I used to watch faithfully as a child - "The Friendly Giant" - remember him? Only it was "look up...look waaaaaaaaaaaa a a y up!"

Oh what a special number. Do you know what it represents? The number of bottles of beer on the wall?  Nope. The hockey jersey number of the great one Wayne Gretzky?  Nope. Give up? OK, I'll give you a hint! If you look waaaaaaay down on my sidebar you'll see that I've finally reached the double digits in my countdown to retirement!! Yahooooooo!! Remember when it was well over 1,000??? I sure do! Once in a while though I feel kind of guilty about enjoying my countdown so much - what kind of a teacher worth her salt wants to stop teaching so badly???

It's not the teaching I want to get away from or the long hours, the students or some of the people I work with. It's simply the cessation of being part of the RAT RACE, the never-ending turn of the hamster's wheel, the living of life for everyone but myself. 

My time has come!! Almost. And I can't wait! Finally to have the time to do all of the things I've put off over the years. To read without one eye on the clock so I don't stay up too late. Wouldn't want to face the kiddies on less than enough sleep. To write without jumping up every few minutes to move the laundry into the dryer or run to the store for something I forgot to pick up for school the next day. To indulge in daydreams, walk in the forest, cycle to the beach and most of all - NOT BE ON A DAMN SCHEDULE!! 

My advice to those younger than myself, with busy families and never ending household chores and responsibilities - don't wait til you retire to enjoy life - despite my blog title life really doesn't begin at retirement if you plan things properly - I didn't unfortunately so I've rarely been off the hamster's wheel over the past 40+ years.

I've been working hard since I was 12.  I was born on a Saturday and you know that Saturday's child has to work hard for her money. Never a truer word was written! I remember every job and every painstaking moment many of them caused me. I've picked strawberries (my 1st job & backbreaking), raspberries (with a large bucket suspended around my waist, by a pair of nylons), cucumbers (that was when I learned cucumbers were covered in prickles that embed themselves under the skin like a million little slivers), rhubarb (the absolute worst - I had to soak my hands in water and baking soda to relieve the pain caused by the acidity - thank you mother dear for helping me through that misery!) and finally tobacco which was where the REAL money was. (My tobacco years will be addressed in another post, or two!!)

I also sold ad space in a local guidebook, did typing work for various people, and worked at a number of restaurants - a pizzeria, a diner and a Chinese Restaurant where for at least 20 years the owners offered me a job every time I went in to pick up food for a family get together - "no thanks"!! Though they did teach me the art of carrying several plates on each arm to save trips back and forth from the kitchen in where I washed by hand millions upon millions of plates.  Oh yes, and an A&W! I had to wear the brown and orange uniform with the lovely brown cap and hang the trays of food from car windows. 

Then, at age 20, while working at the A&W I heard about a bank teller's job opening up at the Royal Bank in Tillsonburg, a 30 minute drive from home. Yup, still with my parents but only for a few more months. I interviewed for the job, had to do a math test and typing test, and was chosen out of 50 applicants for the job. My starting salary was $6250 per year which worked out to $98 net per week. That was when I began to pay my mother $15 a week room and board. AND I didn't complain:) 

The only NEW car I ever owned (besides a much later leased car) was during the time I worked for the Royal Bank in Tillsonburg. I took out a loan and bought a new Datsun for $4100. I loved that car! I continued to work for the Royal Bank in different towns and cities for the next 14 years ending up in London because I wanted to continue my university education. Over the previous few years I had been driving up to 2 hours 1 way sometimes 2 or 3 nights a week to take courses at the university. So I transferred to London and eventually quit working full-time and began working part-time while attending university full-time. It was a bit of a risk and I had to get OSAP to cover my tuition. 

I was fortunate in that the Royal Bank gave me as many 4 hour shifts as I could squeeze in between classes so I could pay my rent and buy groceries. Even though working at a bank was not something I enjoyed they were good to me and I've always appreciated that. 

After switching majors (from English to Visual Arts) which added an extra year to my schooling I graduated from UWO on July 7, 1990.  Just over 2 months later, arriving 3 weeks early on Sept. 14, l990 I had my sweet Kazi. I had applied to teacher's college and asked for a deferment which they granted. I got to spend a whole year with my dumpling and began teacher's college in September, 1991. Finally, at the ripe old age of 36 I graduated teacher's college and began teaching that September as Kazi turned 2. Even then life was still difficult. 1992 was the year that the Ontario premier, Bob Rae, froze teacher hiring due to Ontario being in a recession. 

I can't remember what exactly went through my mind the summer of l992 but I don't remember being worried. Fortune shone on me in late August when I received a phone message from a friend telling me about a visual arts position at the adult education centre. This was the weekend before school was scheduled to begin in September l992. I took my resume to the centre and immediately got a call to come in for an interview. They gave me the job and I had the Labour Day weekend to prepare my curriculum! 

All I can say is that I was blessed with a child who loved her bed (still does) so she would sleep from 6pm to 6am on a regular basis giving me long evenings to labour over my typewriter (yes - pre computer era!) The rest is history. I LOVED working at the centre. What I didn't love was the fact that it wasn't permanent - no, I worked 10 week contracts for the next 7 years never knowing if enrollment would be high enough to run my courses. Thankfully it always was. The other negative part of the job was NO BENEFITS and NO PAY if I was off sick. 

I think I'd better give you a break! When I started this post I had no idea it was going to become an epic autobiography lol! 

So, do whatever you need to do and check back in with me tomorrow for more fascinating details in the "Life and Times of Jane"!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Finding the Good in the Bad

There have been a number of posts in the last day or so about finding the good things in an otherwise blah - or even bad - day. It's so easy isn't it to get caught up in the mundane details or to get dragged down by the monotony and drudgery of everyday life. Lena - over at Frugal and Thankful - took a step back to try to find the positives in a day where she was feeling sick and grumpy. And she succeeded in coming up with a list of things she felt happy about - thus turning a bad day into a good day.
What an awesome idea. I have been mindlessly going through the days since a certain someone in my life decided to continue his life without me. I'd have been hard-pressed to find anything positive in my days when he first left me but I believe Lena when she told herself "she had much to be happy about."  I have to agree...well, I don't have to but I will. I think no matter how badly the day is going you can turn yourself around by focusing on the positive things going on in your life.

So I thought I'd try a hand at making my own list. And stealing from Sonya Ann I'm going to use bullets to make them look more important!


  • for a brief few minutes the sun shone in through the patio doors and the new paint on the living room walls (called Swan White) just glowed! (note to self - only show the house on sunny days!)
  • I was feeling a bit under the gun because of paperwork due on top of visitors (student teachers) spending time in my classroom on top of a behaviour consultant observing one of my students today...however, I managed to get the paperwork (progress reports) completed this morning before staff and students arrived (that's one of the good thing about going to school for 6am), the visitors said they learned a lot and the behaviour consultant was pleased with the student's progress. YAY!! (I could have made 3 bullets out of that one!
  • a co-worker emailed me an online coupon for 1/2 price pizza at Dominoes if you order on-line, which I did, and have just enjoyed a few slices (thin crust people!!)
  • I forgot to brush my teeth this, that's not good is it? but happily I keep an extra toothbrush and toothpaste at school - yay me!
  • I have managed to NOT drink coffee since Sunday thus saving myself $2.00/day AND drinking a super healthy alternative made of hot lemon and ginger instead. My body thanks me :)
  • The above behaviour consultant is also a good friend so we got caught up on each other's life today :)
  • I had an on-call today (that's when we have to cover an absent teacher's class during our prep period) and I knew it was going to be a rough class as I recognized several names on the attendance list as students with behavioural issues. So I took a bucket full of suckers and cookies with me and bribed them to be good. It worked. At the end of the class I overheard one student say to another - "that's the quietest we've ever been!" LOL!   I only believe in short term bribery!!
  • No need to make dinner thanks to buying the 1/2 price pizza! Hallelujah!!
  • I got caught up on my blog reading over my lunch period.
  • Although it snowed today it didn't accumulate. Now THAT'S something to be happy about...I think.
  • I gazed lovingly at my snowdrops today wishing I could get close enough to them to ensure they're not a mirage. I think they're real.
  • Gas dropped by about 3 cents a litre so I stopped and filled up the truck.
  • My hydro bill was $17.00 less than what I budgeted for it :) :)
  • I am actually caught up at never lasts for more than a day or two but I'll enjoy it while I can.
  • tomorrow is Friday and that means it's FUN DAY in my classroom. I can't wait to win at Scrabble tomorrow!! (just kidding - I just dole out the prizes to the winners!)
  • my student Jess couldn't stop smiling today. This is the same girl who for the whole first semester bullied other students, made threatening gestures, swore at me and was otherwise disagreeable in every way she could think of (slamming her books down on her desk, rolling her eyes at everything I said...etc etc) Why was she smiling?? Her progress reports were just jam packed full of positive comments - she has really turned herself around. Instead of maintaining her "bad to be cool" attitude she now works so hard, tries her best, has confidence in herself and is just the nicest person to be around. SO PROUD!! 
You know I think I could go on and on. Once I get on a roll I can think of all kinds of good things in my day. Sure there were bad things too but it's all a matter of focus. Right now I can't remember the bad stuff, only the good. I should do this everyday!!

Tell me something that was good in YOUR day! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Taking a Week Off

Boy, am I tired. As much as I'd like to keep slapping paint on the walls my body doth protest too much! My knees are creaky and my right arm feels like a dead tree limb that I have to constantly drag everywhere with me. Bahhhhh! So I am forcing myself to take a week off from the extracurricular activities. And really, for once the weather is going along with my mood. Although the sun doesn't set for another 2 hours it's very dark and gloomy, windy and wet, perfect for indulging my do-nothing self.

It's feast or famine around here. Either I'm going 90 mph like a whirling dervish or I'm flat out on the couch watching Downton Abbey.  Today I choose...the couch!

Yesterday I chose the couch too as a migraine sent me home early from school for a much needed headache pill, cup of tea and a snooze. On days like that I feel like a senior citizen! I don't know if it's the time change, going back to getting up at 5am after March break or possibly both...not to mention I'm not as young as I used to be.

One thing I do know though is I'll get my energy back soon. I'm juicing once a day plus eating ratatouille and salads. Don't count me out quite yet. Put the sun back in the sky and nudge the temperature up a few more degrees and my mood and energy levels will soar!

Until then...

Monday, March 17, 2014


First of all the snow has receded just enough to see dead brown frozen solid GRASS!!!

Second of all (drum roll please........) my snowdrops are making an appearance!!! Never mind that they are growing where the warm air from the dryer is vented - IT'S NEW GROWTH!! IT'S GREEN for St. Paddy's Day!! The earth isn't dead after all!! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Third of all, I'm hooked on Downton see ya!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March Take 3 Challenge

1. Decluttering

  • I am really starting to see a difference in the amount of STUFF we have around this place (though let's not forget the 7 or 8 tote bins filled with stuff that my neighbour is holding for me.) I haven't missed anything so those will get a good clearing out eventually
  • I tossed a couch cover that I had bought years ago to protect the couch from our cats' claws but now with 1 cat passed away and the other one 20 years old that's no longer an issue. I didn't give it away because it was in rough shape. It did it's job and for that I'm thankful.
  • I will continue to get rid of things and then once this place is sold I'll make the final decision on what furniture to keep and what to donate or sell. 
  • Another area that needs a major cleanout is all of the Christmas decorations collected over the years. I've tried over the past 2-3 years to downsize and I have, just not enough. 
  • Main floor is all painted now - dining room, powder room, hallway and living room. Still have the trim and crown molding to do once my knees recover.
2. Financial

  • No real issues here - I am saving as planned. I did have to pay an electrician $100 to fix an electrical outlet but I can live with that. Hopefully that's my only visit from Murphy this month. 
  • I owe NOTHING on credit cards
3. Personal

  • I have taught Kazi how to use the juicer so now she's made me a couple of concoctions. We are doing well in the area of fruits and veg. 
  • Need to drink more water/less coffee and tea.
  • Had a bit of a binge Friday night. I kept at the living room til it was all painted - finished around 7:30pm and felt like celebrating so I had a party for one! Picked up a bottle of wine, a pizza and a bag of  smarties and watched some Netflix. So today I'm getting back on the wagon and when I finish this post I am making soup to take for lunches this week and then making juice. 
  • My goal was to juice twice a day at least which I've done. I just haven't given up all of the bad stuff. It sure is easy to get off track and tell myself I deserve to indulge since I've worked so hard. So easy to fall back into bad habits.
Ok, that's it, I'm off to make soup. It's very cold outside once again so soup will be welcome.  It's "back to school" tomorrow but only 105 days til retirement. I can do this!

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Misadventures of Jane

My mother always wanted to be an interior decorator.  She was forever rearranging furniture and redesigned her kitchen herself which included raising the roof, moving a doorway, deciding where the cupboards should go and how many, where the appliances should go for maximum efficiency etc. She made the blueprints and a builder did the work for her. If only I  had half her skills I'd be in a better position than I am today.

You'd think though, after five children she could have done a better job on my droopy drawers!!

Speaking of drawers...

Last night I was going to sit down and write a post and it would have been a lot funnier than this one as I was giddy as a schoolgirl as Ebeneezer Scrooge once said. Every bone and muscle in my body ached, my knees were especially crunchy and things kept falling on my head!! But I got sidetracked (when do I not get sidetracked) and instead of sitting down with my laptop I decided to put cute paper in my kitchen drawers!! Lookee!!

I am in LOVE with it!! I got a HUGE roll of the sticky-backed stuff for half price at Winners - I think I paid $5.00. I didn't want to put the stuff back in the drawers it's so pretty! But I did...but I got rid of so much stuff (that'll count as my decluttering for this week Carla!)

You know that drawer(s) you call a JUNK drawer?? Well, as it turns out most of the stuff IS JUNK!! That's right, you heard me!
My junk drawer is now less than half full - I can see everything that's in there so I won't have to go digging anymore. My daughter wants to buy me a new mixer to replace the one I've had for almost 40 years - I said NO WAY sugarplum - it still works just fine!

I'm sick of paint. There's paint everywhere - in my hair, on my clothes, even on the....
kitchen scissors...don't ask me how that happened.

However, I have accomplished a lot. The dining room is done, the powder room is done, the hallway on the main floor is done and I have primed the living room. Today it gets a coat of paint but I thought I'd slowly work my way up to it. I need to be gentle with my old bones today. I've also painted the bathroom vanity and will put the new handles on today and reinstall...

The paint colour is called "Silver Screen" I think though this picture doesn't really do it justice. Along with the walls I've been painting trim and doors in white - the front door is done and the bathroom door and I'll be doing the 2nd coat of the closet and door to the basement today. I hope. I may not be able to get out of my chair!!
First I have to decide what shade of white or beige to use in the living room!! There are several more cans of paint on the floor and 5 more to tint. I still have the basement and the 2nd floor to do, but that will be for another!

My "plan" is to keep working my way down my chore list til the end of June, RETIRE, spend a few months in PEI, come back and finish up the house over the winter, list it for sale in early 2015 and then move east. I am also mulling over buying a trailer in the Bayfield area but that remains on the "wish list" for now.

My Inspiration

And there you have it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

BIG Mistake!!

OK, not that big. Just seems like it this morning. I made the mistake of drinking a coffee after dinner last night. My rule is: NO COFFEE AFTER 5PM!! Even though I was extremely tired I tossed and turned for hours...groan...

But I had to drink it you see. BIG NEWS BRACE YOURSELVES!! Kazi has reunited with former beau Steve. I've always had a soft spot for Steve and when Kazi broke up with him last year I invited him in for a long talk. I felt soooooooo bad for him. He was (is) so in love with her. Anyhoo Kazi has realized that the grass isn't always greener on the other side, realized what she had lost (her best friend!) and now they are back together! YAY!  So, to make a long story short Steve brought me a coffee yesterday when he came to visit Kazi. Ergo, drink coffee I must...

I was hard at the reno/redo yesterday but then hit a snag...literally. As I moved the stepladder around the dining room I banged into a loose electrical outlet - big spark - loss of some electricity.


Not only will you have a very handy man around the house but you won't have to pay him $100 to do a 5 minute job. I had actually thought of trying to fix it myself but I'm a little scared of electricity ever since I pushed tweezers into a socket when I was a kid. So that's where an electrician is worth his weight in gold!! They're not scared of poking around in sockets!! You're a fortunate woman Gill!!

After that little delay I finished painting the dining room, except for the trim. The powder room is ready to paint as is the hallway. Next will be prepping the living room and if I'm really lucky I'll get the foyer wallpapered.....but better not count my chickens before they hatch.

Here's a few pics:
Back from the paint store - I had 7 gallons of paint tinted. Lots of white and beige! The young woman who helped me was wonderful carrying the paint to and from my truck. You can see my gorgeous dark bamboo floors.
In order to paint the dining room I moved as much furniture into the living room as I could.
 More paint waiting to be tinted plus 1 gallon of primer sitting by itself waiting to be slopped onto Kazi's coral pink walls :(
 The view from my recliner! Cozy eh?
 The dining room - getting ready to paint.
 Three walls painted...then I had to stop to wait for the electrician - I didn't want to paint the wall that had the damaged socket. You can see one of the gorgeous area rugs I've purchased. Don't worry, it's covered when I'm painting!
 Finished painting! Now in the process of filling the dining room with as much as I can move from the living room. The colour for the dining room is called "Meeting Room" - I really like it. The dining room table is ground zero for tools, spackle, painting supplies etc. And LOOK - wonder of all wonders I had my window and patio doors open all day - it was +4c which felt like about +20c since I'm now acclimatized to -30c!!! The fresh air was simply glorious!
I'm going to relax for a bit with my coffee then pitter patter let's get atter!!