Monday, 20 September 2010

Still learning...

I think I have to resign myself to the fact that I am never going to be a regular blogger during the week. Especially by the end of the week when the majority of my lessons are timetabled, I come home so tired it's enough to actually be bothered to cook dinner and load the dishwasher, let alone scrap and blog about it. But one blog post a week is better than nothing, and I need to share most of last week's lessons.

First up is a lesson I think everyone should have in their book, because it's one that I think too many of us (certainly the kids I teach) forget. I was reminded last Tuesday that I am valued for my contribution at school and my work, no matter how often I am overly critical of myself. There is always room for self evaluation, but you should never underestimate your value. If you don't believe in yourself and your capabilities, noone else will.

The lesson for last Wednesday was a reminder to myself for the rest of the year. My Wednesdays are absolutely manic - I teach every period of the day, in lots of different rooms and from year 7 to year 12. It can be really hard to keep track of what you are doing - planning is absolutely essential for these days and I will have to get used to spending Tuesday evenings getting ready for it.

Day 16 is about a lesson when I felt totally out of control - I hadn't felt so frustrated with a class (not just an individual pupil like last week) for about 4 years, even more surprising because they were year 7. I was a bit shell-shocked, and it inspired one of those dreams at the weekend when you wake up crying. (Bizzarrely in the dream, the kids had run riot in the classroom and broken my bedroom mirror. God knows what my bedroom mirror was doing in the classroom, but that's dreams for you!)

Day Seventeen is about sometimes forcing yourself to make the effort to go out and socialise, even when you are knackered and feel like vegetating in front of the TV. It was a friend from work's birthday and she had organised drinks at a local pub. I ended up having a nice evening, and was glad I had got myself into gear and gone out in the end, even though my eyes were a bit droopy all night!

Saturday was a very frustrating day. I have been doing a Developing Leaders course for the last two years, and the last assignment is due in this Friday. A 4000 word assignment. You can't just conjure one of them out of thin air! So I had to give up most of my Saturday to write it, and I wasn't happy to say the least. But I got on a did it, and have so far managed about 3300 words. Just a few finishing touches to put together during the week before I submit it in a few days. My lesson was that however much you want to, you can't leave an essay to the last minute - there is no way I'd have been wanting to write this on Thursday night!

Finally, we have my page for yesterday. Apart from a trip to the supermarket, I spent quite a lazy Sunday catching up on some scrapping, while Ed cooked a gorgeous roast dinner. He really is good at cooking a roast, and it really made for a lovely Sunday evening when I normally get the Sunday blues really badly.

So, all caught up again. I'll probably try to do today's page this evening, but after that we'll see...

Monday, 13 September 2010

A plethora of pages...

I apologise for not blogging my pages for a few days, but as this post will prove it doesn't mean I haven't been learning something new every day. My mum and dad came up for the weekend, and I spent a lovely couple of days catching up with them after various holidays/honeymoon meant we hadn't been able to see each other since the start of August. However, I managed to craft a few pages while they were visiting and finished the rest off this evening. So I'm now totally caught up again!

First up, we have my lesson from last Thursday. It was our nephew Luca's first birthday, so we went round after work to see him and give him his present. Unfortunately, due to my appalling school timetable I teach the majority of my lessons at the end of the week, so by Thursday evening I was exhausted. A couple of glasses of wine and I was nodding off on the sofa at my sister in law's! So my lesson - don't get drunk on a school night. I just can't cope with alcohol during the week!

My page for Friday reminds me of a very important philosophy which I had started to lose sight of last year with my new job but I'm determined to keep in mind this year. I don't live to work, I work to live. Therefore, I stopped myself from marking books at 4pm and gave myself permission to go home and enjoy the weekend. I need to make a concerted effort to chill out more this year, I was so tense by the end of last week that my shoulder was totally knotted up and it took a whole weekend and a lot of Deep Heat and Nurofen to sort it out. I might have to keep looking back at this page!

My lesson for Saturday was a simple one - it's important to spend time in the company of family and good friends, as these are the best times, even when you aren't doing anything particular. Mum, Dad, my friend Corey and me spent a whole afternoon enjoying lunch and coffee at a local bar. It was so nice to chill out with them. I miss my parents terribly and I need to make an effort to get down to London and see them more often, because it makes me happy.

My lesson for Sunday was 'Try not to give into the Sunday blues'. I felt so down yesterday after my parents left as we had to go and do the food shopping, then I had to spend several hours planning lessons, it felt like a bit of a come down. I got a bit weepy, but it doesn't make you feel any better really. In the end I got my lessons planned, Ed cooked dinner and we enjoyed a bit of TV and I did some knitting. So it wasn't such a bad Sunday after all.

Finally, my page for today. When I got home and opened the front door to find Ed had cleaned the house and was making me a cup of tea, my mood lifted considerably and I felt quite cheerful. I love coming home at the end of the day. My house is my refuge during the week, once I'm in the door I hate to leave it again. I have to make sure I go out at the weekends to avoid being transformed into some kind of hermit!

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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ups and Downs

I've been a teacher for more than five years now, and the first thing anybody says when I tell them what I do is 'I couldn't do that', or 'I bet that is SUCH hard work' or 'The kids must drive you mad!' And while it IS hard work sometimes, the majority of the time I really enjoy my job. You have to be pretty patient and definitely thick-skinned, but working with kids can be one of the most rewarding things you could ever do. And contrary to popular belief, most kids are not evil or uncontrollable. There are some who are very difficult to teach, and some who are downright rude, but fortunately they are in the minority.

This makes it all the more disappointing when you have a bad lesson. The kind that makes you leave the class wondering why you put yourself through it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about kids running around, throwing things and generally causing chaos. I'm talking about a kid you thought you knew and had built up a relationship and understanding with suddenly deciding to disrupt at every possible opportunity. It is VERY wearing, and leaves you feeling exhausted and a bit of a failure. So yesterday, when I had a lesson like this, I came home feeling disinclined to do anything creative. I moped around for a bit, until my hubby reminded me that these lessons are few and far between and that most of the time my lessons are well-received (or at least not actively sabotaged!).

So I set about sorting the problem out. I planned a decent lesson, I talked to their pastoral manager and I set a few detentions. And today I went once more into the breach and faced them again...

And they were a different class. We had a successful lesson. They all learnt what I wanted them to. I left work feeling a whole lot better and feeling like I WAS a decent teacher after all. I had learned from the experience. So today I set about recording it in these two pages. First up, the page for yesterday, with the words of wisdom(!) that Ed used to cheer me up:

Second, the page for today, which reminds me to pick myself up after a fall and find a way around the obstacle, rather than sulking like one of my pupils about the problem!

So, lesson learned. All's well that ends well. And I have managed to catch up with my journal again...
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Monday, 6 September 2010

Taking Stock

Just a quick post today - I want to get off to bed, but I didn't want to break the run of scrapping and blogging or I'd never start again. It was very tempting - as of 10pm, I had just finished watching Who Do You Think You Are and hadn't started to scrap my lesson of the day! I doubt I'll be this determined later on in the week.

Anyway, my lesson of the day is a simple one, and one we all too often forget. I'm not a negative person as such, but I can tend to dwell on the potential difficulties of life. I have been fretting over whether we should be selling our house and moving up the property ladder, or staying put for a few years where we are happy that we can afford the bills whatever happens. Ed and I realised after a lot of discussion and investigations into mortgages and property websites that while moving up is always the 'advisable' thing to do, there is a lot to be said for being content and comfortable with what you have - there is no 'right thing to do', as long as you are happy.

So my lesson for today was to take time to appreciate what you have and how happy you are, and to avoid the pressure of what you think you should be doing. Gorgeous Sassafrass paper for this page, same format as before. Now I'm off to get some shut-eye!
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Sunday, 5 September 2010

Please don't vomit!

Anybody who knows me will tell you that I am NOT a hopeless romantic. I don't go all gooey at romantic films. I don't cry at weddings. I don't get upset if we don't do anything for Valentine's day. It's just not me. So I can only apologise for the unashamedly loved-up nature of this lesson - please blame the fact that I am recently married and have spent the best part of the last four weeks more or less solely in each other's company.

Ed is in a marching band and has been away in France for the weekend, blowing his trumpet and marching around French villages (as you do). So I've spent a weekend without him. I'm not normally too bad in my own company. I've spent weekends without him before, and have happily filled my time slobbing round the house, going shopping and watching DVDs that he would hate. But this time, I have seriously missed him. I actually cannot wait for him to get back this evening. So my lesson of the day had to reflect this. And to make it all the more romantic (and vomit-inducing), I phrased the lesson using the words of a Labi Siffre song, which was one of the ones we had playing at our wedding ceremony. All together now: bleeeurgh!

I thought that while I was blogging, I may as well start sharing some of the layouts that I haven't documented on here. There are quite a few, and the majority haven't had their photos taken yet. But there are a couple from the Papermaze blog that I can share here too. Today I'm sharing this one, The Ruin of the West Pier. This layout is really simple, but I actually adore it. I'm very sentimental about this pier. I've spent a lot of time in Brighton during my life. Ed calls it London by the sea, and to be fair there are an awful lot of cockney accents apparent as you walk along the seafront, mainly due to its easy accessibility to much of South London. So I have slowly watched the degradation of this pier until it has become not much more than a few struts of rotting wood emerging from the sea. I think it's really sad, but that's the history teacher in me.

The layout is using Girls Paperie, I really liked working with this range, it was new to me when I got sent it but I will keep an eye out for their stuff in the future. The little paper flags were really fun and easy to make, and just perfect for the theme of the page.

I have no idea whether I'll have time to make my page tomorrow, but I will certainly make every effort as I'm really enjoying putting this little book of life lessons together. Even though there are no photos, it'll be good to look back at a month of my life and remember what I was up to each day. And I really need to start scrapping some of my wedding and honeymoon photos too, so here's hoping my mojo really has been kickstarted by this.
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Saturday, 4 September 2010

A cat-based calamity

As people who have followed this blog over the last few years will know, I am a bit of a cat lover. I have three cats - Bert, Ernie and Elmo - who are now, unbelievably, four years old. Time really flies doesn't it? Anybody who owns cats will know they have their own little foibles and fancies, and behave in totally different ways. One of my cats is very motivated by his stomach, and will come into the living room to announce to the world and his wife very loudly that he is hungry and needs feeding, right now! He is nothing if not persistent. Another one likes to perch himself on the shoulder of my hubby like a rather heavy parrot, if only Ed's back could take it.

But Elmo, the baby, is a total housecat. She only ever wanders as far as the garden, and is often to be found on the kitchen windowsill catching some rays. Which is why it was very odd when she disappeared last night. Odder still, when I got up this morning, she still wasn't around. By midday, I was getting very suspicious. I took a wander down the garden, she wasn't anywhere to be seen, so I thought I'd get the washing out of the tumble dryer which is in our garage at the end of the garden. I opened the door to be met with plaintive cries, and Elmo appeared, absolutely covered in cobwebs and thoroughly traumatised by her night of accidental imprisonment!

After phoning hubby to berate him for not checking the garage before he locked it last night, I set about spoiling her all day to make up for her ordeal, but not before picking all the cobwebs out of her fur. Here she is enjoying a bit of a fuss on the sofa. I think she has just about gotten over it all now.

So my lesson for the day was an obvious one: Don't lock the cat in the garage! I also got to make use of some of my gorgeous cat stamps, which are from a set by Inkadinkadoo - I bet they would make lovely images for cards too.

I've had a pretty lazy day today, though I did manage to fit in cleaning the bathroom. Sometimes you need a total chill out day. Tomorrow I'll have to make up for it though by doing all my lesson planning for the week - great fun. I'll make sure I fit in a page for this book though - four days and still going strong!
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Friday, 3 September 2010

An Awareness Day

Today was the day that every teacher dreads - the day the kids come back to school after the six week break. I'm not sure why we dread it exactly, the kids are probably at their best behaved at this time of year, with many promising that THIS will be the year they turn over a new leaf and do some work. Their resolve holds out for a couple of weeks at most, but is fun while it lasts.

Today, the powers that be decided that we would have a 'College Awareness Day.' The school has changed from year groups into mixed age colleges, and many of the kids would need to get used to this. I meanwhile was experiencing some changes too. I have always been a Key Stage Four tutor - Years 10 and 11 - and I'm used to the monosyllabic grunts and almost overwhelming lack of enthusiasm when asked to do anything, including raising a smile. However, as part of my job coordinating the Year Seven curriculum, I have now become a tutor in the Year Seven college.

I have been apprehensive about this ever since I found out my fate. I had visions of wiping tears (and noses!), dealing with a whining rendition on the theme of 'he stole my pencilcase', and being repeatedly asked if they need to underline practically everything they write. I thought I would be drained of the will to live by the end of a whole day in their company. But it turns out my new Year Seven form aren't irritating at all. Considering it was their first day at a very big new school, they all took it very much in their stride. They were fun, enthusiastic, well-behaved, and not one of them asked the dreaded underlining question! Whilst I did finish the day exhausted, I was also pleasantly surprised at what a great day I'd had, and it was over before I realised too.

So I suppose I learnt my lesson today. Don't take any preconceptions into the classroom. Not all Year Sevens are the same. Things never turn out as badly as you fear they might!

As you can see, the format of the page stays, with the common elements of a scallop circle of book paper and some punched butterflies. The paper was one I would probably never have chosen myself, and I admit it is a bit dark for the stamping to show up (there are some wise owls on there believe it or not!), but I actually really like the rose design so sometimes it's good to work from a kit and force yourself to try things outside your comfort zone. It's not my favourite page so far, and took far longer to create than the others, but it didn't turn out too badly in the end.

I'm going to be doing a bit of work for Papermaze over the weekend, but will hopefully manage to fit in the next couple of pages of this book as well, so keep an eye out for my posts. Happy weekend!
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Thursday, 2 September 2010

The problem with doors...

So I spent a little while this evening when I got in from work wondering what my lesson of the day would be. There were a couple of work related lessons taken from the always scintillating INSET training today, but let's face it, that's a bit dull to scrap about. And then the lesson arrived at my door, so to speak. We went to take our plates out to the dishwasher after dinner, only to find the kitchen door was jammed shut. Totally stuck, no amount of handle wobbling would do it. I am fortunate enough to have a handy hubby who keeps screwdrivers in his car and he eventually managed to remove the entire handle, allowing us to finally regain access to the kitchen and put the kettle on. It could have been a lot more disastrous - all the rest of his tools had been locked in the kitchen!

So I decided to scrap about our little adventure - though my first instinct might be to bemoan my house and all its fixtures and fittings when these little irritants occur, the house is not about to fall down around our ears and most problems can be easily solved, provided you have a screwdriver to hand...

I kept pretty much the same format as before - purple cardstock today, which was interesting to scrap with as I'm sure, like me, you will have noticed that purple is not the most popular colour in most scrapbook ranges. I have scrapped with it occasionally before though, and I think it works great teamed with this light aqua colour. The stamps were from an old Back Porch Memories kit subscription - I thought the little line of houses was quite cute. The little 'stay open' sticker made me laugh - it was one of the only stickers I had left from a 7Gypsies 'Inspire' sticker set - while I think the sentiment is meant to refer to your outlook on life, it works pretty well as a plea to my kitchen door too!
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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Learn Something New...

Yes, this really is a blog post. I know, on MY blog, the one that has been so cruelly abandoned for many months now (cue tumbleweed drifting past and the howl of a solitary wolf). I have no excuses really. Life got very hectic in the last year, my new job was a lot harder work than I had originally anticipated, and of course I went and got married and went on honeymoon in the middle of it all! Yes, I'm not even Chloe Harp anymore: it's Chloe Watson now - and I can't quite get my head around that myself yet, I admit.

So a pretty action packed year all round really. But seeing as I spent a lot of it feeling a bit sorry for myself or hugely stressed in pretty much equal measure, I didn't really want to come on here and share my work worries with the whole world. For one thing, it would have been a bit monotonous to read!

But that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything creative all year, far from it. While I haven't perhaps been as productive as I might have in former times, I have scrapped a few pages, and have done quite a bit of knitting too, which is much easier to pick up and put down in short intervals without creating a big mess, perfect when you only have fifteen minutes or so to spare. I managed to put together a thirtieth birthday album for my hubby earlier in the year too, none of which has yet graced the pages of my blog. So I may even see fit to do a bit of backdated sharing, if I can wedge a hefty bit of crafting back onto my schedule.

In the meantime, I decided to throw caution to the wind and try to commit myself to finishing an online class. Yes, I know you've heard it all before. And this may well go the way of so many other classes when the reality of term time hits again in the next few days. But I can at least try. And I think I've made a pretty good start by completing both the front page of my book AND the first lesson.

I decided to maximise my chances of completing this little project by keeping things as simple as possible. In the past, I have intricately stamped and cut out whole alphabets, layered up patterned papers, experimented with a variety of page layouts. All of this has fallen by the wayside. I am using a class kit from a former year of Learn Something New which I didn't even START to complete - Shimelle helpfully provided card and papers, colour-coordinated and cut to size. I have added a few choice sheets of my own, a couple of sheets of old book paper and then whatever random bits and bobs are left on my desk. I've decided to go with stamping as the main embellishment, because I think it provides maximum impact with minimum effort, but it is straight onto the page - no painstaking cutting out to be seen!

I will probably stick with pretty much the same page layout for most of the pages, and if I manage to take photos then I will easily be able to slot those in with this format too. I'm even using my iPhone to take the photos because I'm more likely to blog them if I don't have to go and find the camera!

So, hopefully the perfect project for someone who suffers from time poverty. I very much doubt I will get around to blogging every day, but a couple of days a week will be an achievement for me at the moment, and who knows, I might even manage to finish. Keep your fingers crossed for me! x
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Saturday, 13 February 2010

A Seventies Wedding

Ok, I've not blogged once a week as hoped, but this is an improvement on my last little break from updating! This page went up on the Papermaze blog the other day (which, by the way, has some gorgeous cards and other Valentines bits by Wendy which would be great for last minute cards).

The photo is from my parent's wedding day in the Seventies. It wasn't exactly a large-scale affair - Mum and Dad opted for a registry office wedding, flared trouser suits and the reception at my grandparent's house. They don't have an album full of photos to scrap - this is one of the only ones I could find, and it's not the highest quality snap. But it deserved a page, even if just to record Mum and Dad's humble wedding and the 35years of marriage they have enjoyed as a result.

I used Basic Grey Nook and Pantry - it's a little bit twee, but quite suitable for Seventies photos I think, and of course the cupcakes make lovely little embellishments.
I have an afternoon free to myself today - I was going to construct a Valentines mini-book for Ed, like I did last year, but our wireless internet has messed up and I have a wireless printer which equals no photos! So I'm going to have to settle for a Valentine's day card instead. I'm not the best cardmaker, so unless inpiration strikes I may have to go on a little internet trawl to find one to copy from somewhere...
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Saturday, 23 January 2010

AWOL Blogger sneaks back in, hanging head in shame...

So, I'm back. Once you stop blogging for a while, it's surprisingly difficult to come back - a bit like when you miss a workout on the Wii and then are afraid to go back on it in case it tells you off! I started a class encouraging me to blog everyday and ended up not blogging again for nearly 3 months. That's reverse psychology in operation for you.

I do want to come back and start chronicling my life again though, so this is the start. It may be intermittent, as my job is a lot more demanding of my time these days, but at least I'm going to try for once a week. And you can always follow my mundane existence on Twitter in the mean time...

I have been doing a bit of crafting, mainly knitting, so I thought I'd share some of my trials and tribulations over the next few weeks. The item I'm currently working on is this (apologies for poor photo, it was taken with my iPhone):

It's going to be a hooded poncho, one of the largest items I've ever knitted. Trouble is, this is the third time I've started it, having made mistakes and unravelled it twice before, the last time when I had knitted at least fourteen inches! A valuable lesson for the future: always read the pattern carefully before you start.

I've also discovered the awesome Ravelry, so intend to start more projects soon too. Don't worry though, I haven't completely given up scrapbooking. Some more of my work should be seen in print very soon, and I'm designing more pages for the Papermaze blog over the next few days. I'm also planning a little Valentine's Day book for Ed. It has been proving a little difficult though, mainly because Ed took it upon himself to strip our bedroom to decorate it at the start of November, and then kind of lost motivation at that point, so we have been sleeping in my scraproom ever since, blocking the desk, computer and printer and driving me gradually insane. Men - you gotta love em (or you'd kill em!).

So I'm blogging from my parents computer, and undertaking some more mobile craft projects to try and maintain the remnants of my patience until I have my bedroom back! Wish me luck...