One of my students attended a placement at the APSEA centre last week to learn how to use the Braille Note MPower (pictured above), a computerized braille notetaker. She can now braille documents, assignments, etc into the device, save the documents, edit them, and print them in print or emboss in braille (this part hasn't been perfected yet - the device is new and the tech people at APSEA are working on getting a working connection between it and an embosser). This device is perfect in class, for example, when students are asked to work on an in-class assignment. She can do her part in braille, print it in print (there's a Bluetooth printer connection) and hand it in to the teacher at the same time as other students. It has a voice output that speaks the menus (the menus are like in any word processing program) which can be used with headphones or turned off. There is also a refreshable braille display where the menus can be read and documents can be previewed and edited. This student's BrailleNote is the MPower version, and it also has an FM radio and MP3 player. It has a carrying strap, is light and portable, and in short, it has made school a lot more braille-friendly for this student. Other students are really interested in it too, because it's something new to them, and frankly, it's pretty amazing. Can you tell I'm excited about it?
Also above - picture of this weekend's project. We're now professional tile-layers (well, almost). We ordered a wood stove last week, and rather than pay $380.00 for a pre-made tile base, we decided to make one for much less (about $100.00). Adam did the difficult part of measuring and cutting the plywood base and measuring and cutting the tiles. I did the adhering (the white stuff you see on some of the tiles is just extra adhesive that will be washed off) and tomorrow when that's dry I'll do the edging and the grout. Anyway, we're really excited to have a wood stove so we won't have to burn as much oil, because the heat is so nice, and it will be so cozy. Last week, we finished painting the former computer room (now it's a little den) and downstairs half-bath, which was a huge and messy undertaking. But now it's done and looks a thousand times better. We're definitely making progress inside, and since it's been so rainy for the past two weeks, I don't feel too bad about the garden getting a little out-of hand.
Well, the school year is almost done! It's so funny to see how various classrom teachers deal with it. Some (not too many) are in a panic to get things done - "I don't know if I'll have time to cover the rest of the geometry outcomes!" and most are along the lines of "Well, there's just a couple more weeks... so really, who cares?" I've actually finished most of the goals I set out for my students at the beginning of the year, so that's a good feeling. Now I feel like I have a much better handle on goal writing and what's reasonable for my students, etc. So I'm looking forward to September. But a whole lot of relaxing this summer comes first, (in a Price-is-Right voiceover) "In my new... hammock chaaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrrrrr!"
They were on sale for $14.99 last week at Canadian Tire, so we bought one. Adam's parents bought me an awesome lay-down hammock for a graduation gift, and now Adam and I can both relax in the yard and take turns napping and reading. Once we have it up, I'll be sure to post pictures.
Annie and I made a perfect batch of Gingersnap soap the other night - it smells kind of like chai tea and lathers very nicely... another favourite we'll definitely make again. I also made some peppermint moisturizing oil with jojoba and sweet almond oils. I haven't tried it yet on my face, but it's lovely on the hands. On my way home from Halifax last week, I stopped at Planet Organic (guess what? it's an organic grocery store) and bought our groceries for the week. I bought some frozen hormone-free, pesticide-free, free range ground beef that was amazing in chili. It smells and tastes a bit different from the box store stuff - very good. I also bought Down East laundry detergent (environmentally pleasant, unscented, and made in Dartmouth, NS!) It's pretty good (also available at Sobeys in the natural foods section) - I'm not decided if I prefer that or Simply Clean (which is available at the Superstore) as far as cleaning goes. I feel better about buying Down East because it's made here, and it's actually cheaper than Simply Clean. I also bought Seventh Generation dish detergent, which I haven't tried yet, and an assortment of salsa, pasta sauce, onions, garlic, blah blah. The organic stuff definitely tastes better, is better because pesticides aren't used on the land, but fresh stuff is more perishable so most foods need to be purchased in smaller quantities and used fairly quickly (which only makes sense). We're also eating onions and rhubarb from our garden (I made your rhubarb custard pie recipe yesterday, Roxanne!) which is lovely and very tasty. Mmmmmmmm. It feels very good to be consciously making better choices about the things I'm using and buying regularly.