App Love: Toshl

I am someone who needs to keep track of all my expenses. When I was in university, I kept all my receipts and inputted everything into Excel spreadsheets with colour-coded cells. Then for the longest time I was using wiserwallet.com, waiting patiently for them to come out with an app. That never happened. But thankfully, I learned about Toshl, and have been using it faithfully ever since.

What I love about Toshl is that it is so easy to use. I can input an expense straight away after my money is spent, and I can also set recurring payments, which I do for same-amount monthly payments. I can make my own tags and write notes for later so I know exactly where I spent the money.

You get extra functionality with Toshl because you can also manage it on your computer. You can take a look at how you’re doing this month compared to last month, and what you tend to spend your money on. Plus, it’s all cute and colourful, which makes me like it that much more.

The downside is that I can only input one income and one budget item every month (unless I pay money to upgrade to Toshl Pro). I don’t worry too much about the budget component – as long as I am in the black every month and have money put aside for savings, I consider it a successful month. As for the income, I get away with it by changing the income total with every influx of cash I receive, then documenting it in the notes where the money is coming from.

If you are looking for an app to keep track of your expenses, I highly suggest this one. I predict Toshl will be in my life for quite some time, and hopefully it can become a part of yours!

Normal is overrated

Today, I spent the day in bed and indoors, sick and tired, trying my best to do a bit of work from home. Sickness is a funny thing – it makes you unable to perform functions that you normally wouldn’t think twice about, and naturally you find yourself craving that normalcy you once had. At the same time, having the free hours gave me the freedom to do things I tend to push to the backburner, like writing actual heartfelt emails, taking time for myself, and cleaning my house. Perhaps it’s unhealthy for us to be well all the time – these seasons of illness and health are necessary to remind us that productivity isn’t the be all and end all of life.

Also, because I was in bed all day, I was able to finish this month’s book club book – Lisa Genova’s Left Neglected. Even though I missed tonight’s book discussion, I’m glad I had a chance to read it. In a nutshell, it’s about a woman who was a high-powered executive in a Boston consulting firm who gets into a car accident, leaving her with this brain disorder called Left Neglect. She essentially has no recognition of things that are in her left field, and has little to no control over the left side of her body. The story documents her physical recovery as well as the emotional healing that happens in her life. “Normal is overrated” is something that stuck out to me from within the story – used to frame her understanding of how her child with ADHD was integrating into the classroom. It was a mindset that she also started to apply to her own situation, as she came to terms with how her life would continue to be affected by her disorder.

The whole idea made me think about how we treat our students and the way we approach education in general. Are we striving to make our students “normal” all the time, or are we doing what we can to accommodate for their needs? Are we giving them opportunity to excel in areas that they demonstrate an affinity to? As teachers, do we keep hoping for “normal” classrooms or “normal” students? Why do we want to be normal?

If you ask me, normal is overrated.

My Favourite Things

One of my favourite things is the Sound of Music. Growing up, we watched it (and My Fair Lady) on our Hong Kong TV, because my mom only had those video versions. We would sing along to the music, performing our own renditions of songs. Perhaps one day I will convert and upload the video we did of So Long, Farewell. It’s pretty awesome.

Anyways, a few years ago the cast of Sound of Music came together for the 40th anniversary of the film. All the Von Trapp children were there, a handful looking strikingly similar, and others less recognizable. I bought the DVD set instantly and loved every moment of the commentary and interviews.

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Earlier today, I got an email from my grandpa’s brother with the rendition of My Favourite Things that Julie Andrews sang on her 69th birthday earlier this October. She may be approaching 70, but her wit is clearly intact. Enjoy!

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cadillac’s and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pains, confused brains, no need for sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short, shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
And then I don’t feel so bad.