Monday, March 26, 2018

BOOKS!!




I am a total book nerd. I love reading! I read all kinds of fiction and non-fiction, fluff and serious books. What really gets me excited though, is a book that is well-written, in that the author has a beautiful way with words. I've read some engrossing books where the story has been worth reading, but the writing itself has been pretty awful. This is too often the case with YA fiction, which I do read sometimes.
Anyway, right now I am reading a book called Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk. I love it for its story, but also for the author's mastery of language. I laughed out loud on the weekend as I was reading and came across these gems:
"Extending hospitality to all, even to the most cloddish, truly is the basis of civilization. The fact that the most cloddish, having nothing better to do, always show up and spoil the party for everyone else probably spells civilization's ultimate doom."
"Among the many unsurprising facts of life that, when taken in aggregate, ultimately spell out the doom of our species is this: People who command respect are never as widely known as people who command attention."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Teaching

I am a teacher. I have been teaching on and off between maternity leaves since 2001. I love teaching and I love watching kids get excited about learning. I only have a permanent job on Wednesdays and the rest of the week, I either teach on call, or stay home/chauffeur/volunteer/cook/clean etc. My Wednesday class is a job share, so there is another teacher there for four days a week. This makes it challenging to have any kind of cohesive program, but it is working really well, for now. There have been so many Wednesdays where I have had those "this is why I teach" moments; I love my job.
Teaching on call, for the first time in years, has been interesting and eye-opening. First of all, there are lots of great ideas about how different classrooms are run and I love getting to borrow lots of new ideas. I am constantly standing in hallways taking pictures of great bulletin board ideas. But there are also classrooms that make me sad. I have been in some classrooms where it is clear that there is no fun being had. The day plan consists of piles of worksheets, there is no student art brightening the classroom and no games, manipulatives, cards, dice or anything that would allow for free play. I know how laborious it can be to plan for a teacher on call, so I am sure that some of the worksheets can be chalked up to easier and more straightforward plans for a TOC. Regardless, when I look around a room and see nothing besides more worksheets, I wonder. What is it like to be in grade 1 and have no fun at school? What would make a child in that kind of class excited to learn? With the readymade exciting lessons available at the click of a button, with all the fantastic picture books that beautifully illustrate social responsibility and other great themes, with beautiful BC right outside the school, why is there still boring, repetitive, meaningless work being done in some classrooms?

PS. I try to go outside with my students as much as possible. Last week, we were studying Emily Carr, so we went outside to sketch trees. When it's gross outside, we get creative by doing things like indoor camping day...


Friday, March 16, 2018

West Palm Beach



I just spent six days alone, on a trip to Florida and it was glorious. My parents bought a condo in the fall and completely renovated it during the last few months. We had originally planned to go as a family, but the tickets during spring break were just ridiculous. So, I decided to fly out while school was still in session by myself. Kudos to Pentti who is so generous in letting me get away. He was the one who insisted I go alone, despite the fact that that meant him staying home alone with three kids and even taking time off work.
The trip was wonderful in every way. My mom did all the cooking; I haven't been that pampered/served by her in 20 years. Their condo was beautiful and had two swimming pools, a sauna, library, gym and a whole community of Finnish people. I think every person that I met in their complex was Finnish; it was pretty funny. In the evenings, the sauna was unsurprisingly full of Finnish ladies and it was neat to hear the Finnish chatter. The shopping was fantastic. I didn't actually end up buying very much, but there were so many great stores and outlets!
Coming home, I felt so grateful and refreshed and I am still basking in how great the trip was. It is so healthy to get away and have some time to myself. I feel like I am a better person since my trip and I would wish for every mom to have the chance to get away sometimes. Too bad not all husbands are like Pentti...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Christmas Vacation

We had a gloriously long Christmas break that ended today. It's funny how each year, the break is the same amount of time and yet some years it feels too short and other years it feels wonderfully long. I think it may depend on where Christmas falls; if it's at the beginning, then you have more time to chill and loaf around afterwards.
We had a very busy few days around Christmas with family stuff, church stuff and choir stuff. But then things calmed down. We actually went out for New Year's which we have not done for many years. Now that Matias is old enough to babysit, we have more flexibility. It's always a bit nerve wracking to leave the kids home alone, but with cell phones and good neighbours, it's pretty safe. Anyway, my friend Mehj was housesitting and hosted a party with about 10 people. It was great fun. There was dinner and dessert and lots of cheese. If you can't have brie at Christmas, then when can you? Despite the fun, we didn't actually last until midnight, but whatever. It's not like it's 1999, lol.
Pentti went to work for a few days after New Year, but then took some more time off and we headed to Hope. No one else was at the house, so the 5 of us had the place to ourselves for 4 days. There was a tonne of snow and it stayed dry for the most part, despite the forecast. The kids spent hours and hours outside building a fort, sledding and just playing in the snow. It was great. The neighbour across the street who has a big sloping yard, built a sledding track and told us to come over. What a nice guy. I feel like that wouldn't happen in the "big city", but maybe I just hang around the wrong people?!
Of course we also went in the sauna and the boys and Pentti even rolled in the snow afterwards (as per crazy Finnish tradition). I am not insane, so I did not. We went to the used bookstore and out for Japanese food, all the things that we do every time we're in Hope. It was the perfect end to the holiday and because it came right before school started, the vacation felt that much longer after having "gone away".
PS. This year Emmi figured out that the elf on the shelf is fake. Thank goodness; that thing was the bane of my existence! But for now, Santa is still real :)


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reads of 2017



Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I love to read. A lot. Immersing myself in a good book, rates a lot higher in my world than a lot of other (more social) things. (Why yes, I am an introvert; thanks for asking).
I remember my love of books being cultivated by my elementary school librarian. Mrs Linke was a pudgy, older lady with short gray hair, who pulled her pants up to her armpits; I kid you not. But she was a lovely woman and she introduced me to many new series. I spent countless hours in that school library. Anyway, I am always excited to discover a new author and I made one of my greatest "finds" this year when I happened upon Louise Penny. I picked up her latest book at the library and loved it. What a thrill to discover that it was part of a series of thirteen! To discover not only a good book, but a book that is part of a larger series is a goldmine, a reader's dream. So...I have read all of her books this year, besides the latest one. Did I mention that she's Canadian and writes about a quaint little town in Quebec? 
I also discovered two other authors that I really enjoyed this year and I have read 23 books and counting, so it was been a great year for this bibliophile.
Here's my list of books for 2017:

-Liturgy of the Ordinary
-Grace Not Perfection
-Barefoot
-Two Steps Forward
-Sensible Shoes
-An Altar in the World
-A Great Reckoning
-You are Free
-Still Life
-Chasing Slow
-A Brutal Telling
-If Not For You
-Bury Your Dead
-A Fatal Grace
-Murder stone
-The Beautiful Mystery
-A Trick of the Light
-The Cruellest Month
-How the Light Gets In
-Of Mess and Moxie
-Long Way Home
-Braving the Wilderness
-Nature of the Beast
-The Life She Was Given

Thursday, December 14, 2017

navigating

Some people have an amazing sense of direction. My 5 yr old daughter often knows where we are when I am driving, commenting that we are passing grandpa's, or the church etc even if we are just passing by and no one else has mentioned where we are or where we're going. Others do not.  I do not have a good sense of direction, but neither does my friend Shelle. We recently attended a concert and missed the same turn off twice (or was it three times). Of course, we were busy talking, so it wasn't totally a lack of direction, but still. Yesterday, we found ourselves searching for our rides on the wrong floor of the parkade. Need I tell you that it's challenging to find a car that is one level above you? Luckily our friendship is not based on our "excellent" navigating skills, unless navigating away from people counts, lol. I met Shelle through the choir. She seemed nice enough, but hard to really know based on shallow convos during practice breaks. But then I sat next to her at dinner on our retreat and she seemed to want to run away as badly as I did. The introvert in me who was having anxiety over socializing all weekend with 50+ people I barely knew rejoiced. It's so rare to come across people who really get me, so to find someone who wasn't in her glory being a social butterfly all weekend was a relief. Yay, rejoice, all ye people, but separately, in your own corners please.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Courage over comfort





I across the above Rumi quote earlier this year. It encapsulates so well how I'm weighing things in my life right now. Generally, I don't like change and I'm shy and introverted. But, I don't want those things to hold me back. So, I'm chosing courage over comfort.
Last year and this past spring I went to a couple concerts put on by the Good Noise Gospel choir. I loved them! They excited and inspired me! So... I thought about joining, but my first instinct was no way! I finally bit the bullet and auditioned and got in. But then came the long summer and I REALLY wanted to quit before I even started. New people, like 85 of them, plus challenging song arrangements...what was I thinking? I couldn't do it. But in light of this new motto of courage and doing things that excite me, I made a deal with myself that I'd stay until Christmas. So, starting in September, I showed up every week. I met lovely people. I practiced the songs. I even signed up for the retreat in Whistler!
Well, I just got back from the retreat and it was awesome! I'm not gonna lie, I still had a bit of a meltdown on Saturday from feeling overwhelmed with so much music to learn, so many people to meet, rooming with 5 virtual strangers etc. But there was also beautiful music made, some fantastic conversations, so many "me too" moments and just plain old fun and laughter. Needless to say, I'm not quitting at Christmas!