Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ziplining Adventure - I'm Alive! I'm Alive!

 I'm alive, I'm alive!

(Aside: right now there's a kid outside playing a one-note horn over and over again...he may want to move a little further down the street if he wants to keep that horn ...and his head in one piece!...)

But I digress...I'm alive...I'm alive!

Yesterday we went on a ziplining adventure with six good friends. Here I am getting my equipment on - stunning aren't I?
 Let me tell you...we women fared a little better with the criss crossed gear between our legs - the men...
were decidedly more uncomfortable.....

 ...especially when their pulley got hauled way up to get clipped onto the cable!! Note Jeff's grimace of PAIN!!
There goes Tracey!! We had to learn where to put our hands (right over left) and how to apply the brake (right palm goes flat on the cable BEHIND the pulley to slow us down when coming in for a landing!), how to do a self-rescue if a lack of speed leaves us stranded in the middle of the cable between landings (never happened - there was PLENTY of speed to get us to each destination!) before we could get onto the ziplining course for REALS!!!
Rockin' Robin was a natural...
 Away she goes.....
 There's one of the two long suspension bridges we had to walk across...I'm not a fan of those wobbly swaying bridges but happily we were clipped on to a cable while walking across...
 The look of exhilaration!
It was a different way to see the forest...sometimes we were above the canopy (that's Lake Erie in the distance)...
 ...and sometimes we were below the canopy - here I come in for a landing - watch out!!
 Phew....made it! What a RUSH!!
 They don't call me "Jane of the jungle" for nothing!  It felt very natural swinging from tree to tree!
Here's what a platform looks like. Believe it or not it was easy to get used to being way up in the trees!
 We were always clipped onto something and we grew to trust our gear. Our two guides had us lean backwards off the platforms to develop that trust...gulp...
 It got easier with each "ZIP" and I became more relaxed as I zipped along and actually started to look around me and below me - a new perspective for sure.
 I can't wait to ZIP again :)
 The steel cables are very strong, each capable of holding several thousand pounds...
 so I guess it can hold me, no problem!
 Here comes Michael in for a landing!
 Together again...
 Rushing through the air, dependent on a pulley on a cable was definitely a new experience for us all.
I LOVED it!!
 Relying on the cable above me - very thankful to be clipped on just in case the bridge flips me over!
 It wasn't so bad...
 Waiting my turn with great anticipation!
 Gathering together on the last platform...
 and a new adventure awaits each of us!!
 We each had to rappel to the ground from this final platform...
 There I am, hanging off the edge!! This was the scariest part for me - we had to edge our toes over the edge of the platform, put right foot over left and then pivot off the platform trying to keep our feet against the edge...then wait while our guide, Simon, took our bloody picture!!!  Then slowly release our tight grip to bring ourselves down, one at a time...
We did it!!  Great adventurers all!!
We had to sign waivers before ZIPPING vowing that we weren't under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But within minutes of getting back to the campsite we were all imbibing a cold one!! But what a thrill - we plan to make it an annual venture!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Who is That?!?

I hardly recognize myself in the mirror anymore...and it takes a whole whack of makeup to make myself presentable these days....

Yes, I'm working my fingers to the bone...along with every other teacher I know...September is the month of 80 hour work weeks and very little sleep. However, it will all pay off in time. After some great Professional Development in August I decided to change my classroom into a Structured Learning Environment. It's quite the undertaking but my principal has been good enough to give me two days or release time plus I had some help from two of my EAs and our board's autism expert. I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and the results will be more responsible and independent students. I hope.

I really enjoy this creative type of work.  Here's an example of a task strip for a student to follow when washing hands:
I prefer to use real photos so I've spent a lot of time taking photos of every task and activity in my classroom  including the number of steps from beginning to end. Then I print them at home as we have no colour printer at school BUT I DO HAVE MY OWN LAMINATOR so I am VERY grateful for that!

So other than work I've been a very dull girl. No going out, not even to a movie, falling asleep around 9:30pm every night. I'm not complaining though. I'm a true believer of the Structured Learning program and want to do whatever it takes to get it up and running. Tomorrow will be a test drive. The student who had me in a headlock a couple of times is back tomorrow and we will be training him to follow a picture schedule. We also have a new boy starting this week and I am in the process of getting his picture schedule ready too.

Unfortunately I lost a student - she is currently in a psych ward where she was placed after attacking her mother several times this summer. She has autism and is smart as a whip - much smarter than either of her parents - at school she had earned one or two math credits every semester. At school we were able to control her behavior with an incentive program but at home she is in control. It's a tough situation as there are few, if any, group homes where she would be a good fit unless highly medicated.

Actually I lost two students. My "broken angel" has moved on to the public board but I'm not sure if he's begun school yet as I heard from one of his workers that he had a very difficult summer and instead of being 2:1 (two workers with him at all times) he is now 3:1. There is definitely a need for a very specialized program for these youngsters but presently none exists in either public or Catholic school boards. I read over the summer about a family in British Columbia sending their autistic child to school in Oregon in the U.S. as there was nothing available in the province.

Looking on the bright side...Michael is busy making a farmer's breakfast - whole grain toast, eggs and bacon - yum yum yum! And tonight we are actually going out for dinner to celebrate all the September birthdays in our family.  My Kazi is now 22! The wonderful aromas from the kitchen are calling my name so I'm off now to indulge :)

Happy Sunday!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

More than meets the eye...

whatever that means...
See that iceberg? That iceberg represents my hydro-electric bill. And my phone bill. And my gas bill etc...The whole iceberg is the amount I set aside to pay each bill. But when the bills arrive they're usually less than what I estimated - the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Or, more realistically, it's that part of the iceberg you don't see. Sometimes I save a little snippet, sometimes I save a lot - but however much it is it feels like FREE money!!

So far this month, in FREE money, I have saved:
$43 on my cell phone bill!!
$40 on groceries
$9 on gasoline
$22 on my Maritime Electric bill
$23 on my Union Gas bill
$29 on London Hydro        for a total of $166.00!!  Woo hoo! I could buy that snazzy pair of boots that I saw at Globo! Or that fall jacket in The Bay flyer!!


it could go to cover how much I UNDERESTIMATED my paycheque for September 15th :( :( :(


Sunday, September 9, 2012

What's cookin'? Sprouts!!

 Doesn't that look yummy?

When I got back from PEI I went on a 10 day cleanse. By the time I was done Michael was home too (he stayed out east a little longer than me.) We decided we wanted to turn over a new leaf in our eating habits. We try not to eat anything processed and our emphasis is on fresh fruit and veggies along with lots of dried legumes: lentils, all kinds of beans, split peas and whole grains: barley, artisan breads, quinoa, brown rice, oats etc. Everything is cooked from scratch.

When we were in Summerside, PEI one Saturday at their farmer's market I picked up two bags of seeds/dried legumes. One is called Spicy Lentil Crunch and the other Ancient Eastern Blend. With them came instructions for growing your own sprouts. Why should we grow sprouts you ask?

quoted from The Wonders of Sprouting by Lucie Desjarlais, RNC
"Lots of reasons! They carry plenty of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes, all necessary for the body to function optimally.  In addition to providing the greatest amount of these nutrients, sprouts deliver them in a form that is easily digested and assimilated.  In fact, they improve the efficiency of digestion. Sprouts are also deliciously fresh and colourful!
Sprouts are very inexpensive (even when organic), always fresh (they grow until you chew them) and have the potential to help solve hunger and malnutrition problems in our communities and in developing countries, because they are so rich in nutrients, affordable, and easy to transport before sprouting.  Sprouts are precious in winter, when the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables is declining as their price increases."

"(Sprouts) supply the highest amount of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc. of any food per unit of calorie."

"...sprouts nourish and strengthen the whole body, including the vital immune system."

That's why!

So while Michael cooked up a batch of Lentil Soup I started to grow some sprouts in a plastic carton that some tomatoes had come in. It was the perfect little environment as it had a lid to keep moisture in and allowed lots of light.

Sure enough, after 3 days of rinsing and draining I had a container full of highly nutritious sprouts!  They are SO delicious and you can't get more fresh than growing food on your kitchen counter! I add them to soups and salads, sandwiches and wraps or just eat them right from the box. Try it - it's so easy and you can grow some fresh all winter long.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Where is my money???

You don't know either? Great help you are!  

(oopsie! I am reminded by the above photo that I spent $25 on a new pedi, $100 on new shoes including the croc sandals in the above photo - I know, I know - I didn't know Croc made sandals either but they do and believe me my feet are in HEAVEN!! ...and $120 on four new tops to help build my confidence going back to school after my work refusal and stress leave - more to come on those topics!)

Being a teacher my fiscal year/work year begins in September. It usually takes me a month or two or three or more to recover from the excesses of summer be it extra weight around the middle, a fading tan and an exceedingly empty wallet.  

This year I actually came home with money left over!  GASP!!!  It's true, I know, it's hard for me to believe too! But I think I can explain it...

When I first arrived in PEI I took delivery of a new fridge and stove which I had saved up for. 

What a concept - saving up for something instead of just slamming down whichever credit card has the lowest balance! (as I'm supposed to be fairly truthful on this blog (hey! my blog my rules!) otherwise what's the point really) I did pay with my mastercard but only to earn points - I immediately paid off the purchase online, well almost immediately. 

I didn't really purchase anything else of great significance over the summer except for some tools (remember my new pitchfork? :) and a few second hand odds and ends of furniture to make our stay a bit more comfortable. 

And with Michael working at the pub in Alberton I think we spent less on gas and food (with a 50% discount Michael ate a LOT of pub food so maybe you don't want to see him running around nak......darn men - why don't they gain weight at the same rate we women do????). And having a fridge and stove meant buying groceries instead of eating out twice a day! Another cost-saving event was the totally sunny and hot summer - our lawn guy only came four times - once in June, once in July and twice in August thus our lawn bill came in under budget - nice, except our grass turned yellow it was so dry!

But yet my wallet IS EMPTY! Huh??

Two reasons: 
1) I paid off my line of credit prior to the beginning of summer and I've now eliminated that goal bar! If you look WAY down my sidebar you'll see only savings goals now! BUT I have a LOOOOOONG way to go to meet my savings goals so I'm trying to sock away every dollar that I can.

2) The money I didn't spend over the summer I spent when I got home to London, Ontario. Yup, I did. On school supplies, lots and lots of school supplies. The good news is most of it will be reimbursed to me although it usually takes a good couple of months for my receipts to grind their way through a very slow (clogged) system. Oh well, while it screws up my accounting now it will eventually work its way back into my grimy little paws.

Stay tuned....more to come....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Psssssssssssssst......over here!

Something is stirring, no, not a mouse silly, though she's been quieter than one lately....could it be, is it really......?

YES!! It's me, it's really me!

Me who you ask?  Sigh.....they don't remember you, that's what happens when you stay away too long I guess....they've moved on to greener pastures where the bloggers actually write more than once in a blue moon.  

What can I do I wonder? How will I win them back?

Oh wait, I know!!! I'll write about my budget, that's sure to bring them back in droves!  No, maybe that's too old hat.....been there, done that.....

Oh oh oh, I've got it!!! I'll write about all of my aches and pains, that's always a sure bet! Nothing like a good constipation post! not....

(much hand wringing....)

Hmmmmm.....I wonder if Michael would let me share that photo I took when he was running around, maybe not, this is a g-rated blog after all...

Well, I'm stuck, I just don't know what to do!!

Any suggestions?