On Reconciliation

For the last two days, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in Toronto. To say it has been enlightening would be the understatement of the century. I have enjoyed it immensely, and I’ll do a follow up post with some of my sketch notes and thoughts, but I did want to mention one thing that really challenged me.

The keynote speaker yesterday afternoon was Wab Kinew. I will be entirely honest – I had not heard of him before. I have read Boyden’s The Orenda, so I had that connection, but I was otherwise unfamiliar with him. 

Anyone who keeps up with Canadian current events will know about the TRC report and the 94 recommendations that have been outlined in it. It is undeniable that we have a really ugly past when it comes to our nation’s relationship with indigenous peoples. The notion of reconciliation can seem overwhelming and I’m sure there are many who are desperate for examples of what it looks like. Kinew’s late father provided a poignant example, taking the matter into his own hands, by personally extending reconciliation with representatives (e.g. the pope) of the Catholic Church. To see these ultimate acts of forgiveness touched me in such a profound way.

I continue to be reminded of the brokenness that is present in our world, and how we so often make terrible decisions due to ignorance, misunderstanding, or fear of the other. Regrettably, as long as we live, we will continue to see things that are hurtful and unjust. However, I have been challenged in two ways:

  1. To consider more deeply what it means to be an ally to the aboriginal peoples of Canada
  2. To demonstrate forgiveness daily in my own life because He first forgave us

Thank you Wab for your message, and for what you are continuing to do in the name of reconciliation. 

Sunset strolls

Even though it’s only late January, I feel like the frigid temperatures have been around for so long. We hit in the positives yesterday, so Andy and I decided to get outside and go on a walk at one of our favourite places. 

  
I rarely go to Lemoine Point at dusk, but man what a beautiful time to go. The orange glow permeates the landscape and it makes you feel like everything is right with the world. 

Most of the time, I listen to podcasts when I’m on a walk, but I opted for a bit of quiet this time. Fitting, since I had forgotten to charge my phone the night before and my phone died during the walk anyways. It’s sad to say, but I had forgotten how nice it is to just listen to the sounds of nature around you. The sound of Andy trailing behind me in his sled. The sound of squirrels scampering among the branches. The sound of my own boots crunching the snow beneath my feet. We so often forget about these things. 

 
So more about this sled, which is possibly the best thing ever. Andy and I borrowed it from our friends/neighbours on Sunday so we took it with us for the walk vAndy honestly had a blast. He sang the whole time. And when we went down little slopes the sled ran a bit ahead of me and he sang a little louder. I think it was a completely new experience for him because he had a full 360 degree view of the world around him. He wasn’t in a carrier or in a stroller, with partially obstructed views. 

  
It’s sad to think that my daytimes with Andy will soon be drawing to a close, and it’s moments like these that I’ll miss the most. 

45.

A few play dates for Andy this week, including lunch with his birthday twin! Andy and this sweet girl were born on the same day. She is lovely and demure, and has the most precious little cries. Andy is more of a rough and tumble type and so it took some time for them to adjust to each other’s very different styles. They had finger foods for lunch while we parents had Kelvin’s delicious barbacoa tacos and talked about Scandinavian culture, language, and how Manila and Colombia share more than a few similarities.

  
Andy also went sledding for the first time! We borrowed a sled from some friends who live in our neighbourhood (it’s like the olden days when you can walk over to a neighbour’s house to borrow some sugar!) and walked in circles in our backyard for a whole ten minutes. He had a blast. 

 
This upcoming week is a really exciting one as I am heading to Toronto on Thursday for a conference without Andy. Kelvin will be in charge of him for 48 hours and to say he is super anxious would be the understatement of the century. His hesitation aside, I know it will be great and that they’ll have a fantastic time. 

An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I recently finished reading Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. If you’ve spent any amount of time with me in the last few weeks, I will have mentioned it. I talked about it incessantly.

In a nutshell, the author – Jen – embarked on a 7-month project to examine and reduce seven areas of excess in her life. She started off with food, consuming only seven types of food the whole month. Then she moved on to clothes, wearing only seven items the whole month. And so this continued. During the very last month, she committed to praying seven times a day – each time with a different focus.

There were definitely moments in the book that challenged me to consider whether I would be willing to part with some of the excess that exists in my life. We live a very fortunate and blessed life, but what good is that if it isn’t shared with others? What does it mean to be the hands and feet of Jesus? How does a modern day Christ follower live out their life according to His purpose with His blessings? I definitely want to do a rendition of this project for myself, but I’m not yet sure what this will look like. For a little while, I thought maybe I could focus on a different global issue to learn about so that I might be able to pray more boldly and take specific action in that arena. However, I think part of what this book draws out is the need to take action against seemingly mundane choices that we make, and to be more conscious of the areas of excess in our own life.

In the mean time, I shall continue pondering the convictions that I have, but if you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest it. And if you’re in the KFPL service area, I’m returning my copy to the library on Monday.

 

44.

It’s been a really good week. Andy is communicating more with us, both verbally and with gestures. We can tell when he wants something, he is learning to wave, and he babbles constantly. He’s been saying “dada” for a few weeks, but now he’s saying “mama” too. At the start of the week he would only say mama when he was upset (because clearly Kelvin is the fun parent) but I am happy to report that sometimes he says mama now even when he’s happy!


Andy also had his first trip to the dentist this week, and we are getting into the habit of brushing after breakfast and before bed. He actually really enjoys this time because there’s something in his mouth, but we need to work on the whole concept of not eating the toothbrush. I think the berry flavoured toothpaste helps.


After a long hiatus, we returned to gymnastics, hoping that he’d be able to get more out of his time there. Alas, he is still not mobile enough for what they can do. I think we will hold off on going again until he is really walking steadily. He did enjoy crawling through the tunnel though, and kneeling on all fours on the trampoline.

In other exciting news, our house officially went on the market this week! And we tried out the new bubble tea place in town (it was great)!

Productivity

I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly productive person, but I also have many moments (and days) that I fritter away mindlessly. A lot of the time it’s those pesky iPhone games. On more than one occasion, I’ve attempted to get rid of them. However, I rationalize keeping Candy Crush and Two Dots because deleting them would likely mean I’d need to start from scratch if I ever re-download. Other times, it’s random odd things that I do around the house. Like on Tuesday when I spent half an hour trying to put together an umbrella stand that only has 3 pieces. It really should not have taken that long.

I’ve always been enthralled by people who manage to do so much with so little time, and I tend to gravitate towards books like Laura Vanderkam’s I Know How She Does It when I peruse local bookstores. Anyways, with my imminent return to work, I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I can do to be more intentional with how I spend my time. Listening to this podcast episode of Cult of Pedagogy gave me a few great ideas, and I’m definitely considering signing up for Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club when it opens again in the summer.

In the meantime, here are three things that I’m implementing:

  1. Scheduling what I do during my “work time”
    Twice a week, I have a few hours during the day to get stuff done. This is my most productive time, as my evenings tend to disappear with twitter chats, going to the gym, and random chores around the house. At the start of each of these periods, I write down what needs to be done and assign everything to blocks of time. This helps me stay focused.
  2. Doing things right away, and keeping my to-do list in one place
    When to-dos arise, I sometimes have the ability/time to do it right away. But more often than not, I need to table it for a later time. This is where my moleskine planner comes in. I have it with me virtually all the time, so when I have things that need to get done, they are written down in my weekly to-do list. I refer to it often and squeeze things in every spare moment I have.
  3. Meal Planning
    This is one that I’m still working on. Prior to starting to meal plan, I was going to the grocery store virtually every day. This week, I haven’t gone since Sunday! This has probably saved me a few hours a week! It’s been so nice to not have to think about what we’re having, and it’s great having food prepped and ready to go in the fridge when dinner rolls around.

I am definitely open to more tips/advice if you have any. What do you do to maximize the time you have each day?

 

43.

Just a short post today. It’s been a quiet week for us, as our usual weekday programs haven’t started up yet. We went to the library a few times, had some play dates – including a sushi date with one of Andy’s good buddies, where they shared seaweed (super cute) – and hung out at home playing. Andy also got some new toys since we received some gift cards for Christmas. 

He continues to have a huge appetite, and I’m convinced his favourite foods are broccoli and oranges. He will actually pick broccoli over cheese. It’s pretty crazy. 

  
My parents came in to visit today and spend some time with Andy. They haven’t seen him in over a month!

On a side note, I’m really trying to sleep earlier, and spend more time reading in bed. Not off to a good start tonight…

Learning about learning.

This past week – and for every week moving forward – Andy has been going to his grandparents’ twice a week for a few hours. It’s given grandpa a chance to get used to having him around, and it’s given me a few hours to get back into the swing of working and studying.

Online courses
I’ve been taking the Ultimate Guide to Design Thinking course on Creative Classroom Academy and am currently developing a unit plan around the Grade 2 Social Studies curriculum of Global Communities. It’s so neat to think about units and lessons through the lens of design thinking, and I’m hoping to have a chance to implement this in the future!

Blogs, Sites and Social Media
I participated in the #tlap discussion this past Monday, and it was such a fruitful time of discussion around the Innovator’s Mindset (which also happens to be a book by George Couros). I’ve been sitting back from twitter chats for a little bit now, but was very glad to be engaged in this one. It also led me down a trail of websites, and now I’ve got some new reading material, including Angela Watson’s The Cornerstone and A.J. Juliani’s site.

Books
In a wonderful coincidence to #tlap, I’ve been reading Tony Wagner’s Creating Innovators. It’s really pushed me to think not only about creating an atmosphere that encourages inquiry in the classroom, but also about the way that I will be encouraging a mindset of innovation at home with Andy. Ironically, in an effort to be “more than just a print book”, the text uses the now defunct Microsoft tags to link to videos for a more in-depth look at content. Just goes to show you how quickly technology changes.

Podcasts
And of course, who can resist some good education podcasts. The newest ones I’m following are Cult of Pedagogy and the K-12 Greatest Hits produced by Bam Radio Network. I particularly liked K-12’s recent episode about Uncommon Makerspaces. Such an inspiration to see thinking spilling out into the hallways!

Last but not least, I’ve also really enjoyed engaging in conversation with a friend about the psychology of teaching and learning and what ed reform can and should look like. She’s challenged me to really work on articulating my teaching philosophy, so that’s something that I will also be fleshing out over the next little while.

Good eats: toast + jam

I don’t know what you’re like when you go on vacation, but when Kelvin and I go away, we always want to make sure that we try at least a few highly regarded eateries. This often entails a fair amount of time asking for recommendations, reading blog posts, and perusing the Internet, Yelp, zomato, or whatever tools we have at our disposal. We recently went on a day date to Ottawa, and during our brunch, Kelvin mentioned how we often expect restaurants outside of our home city to be at this next level because they have lots of ratings and reviews. More and more, though, we are realizing just how great the food scene is here. Back in our dating days, we dipped our toes into the food blogging pool, but that ceased rather abruptly once we both graduated from university. So, in 2016, we are committing to doing a better job of showcasing some of the places we’re eating in town and around. 

In this first post, we’re featuring one of Kingston’s newest spots – toast + jam, right next door (and connected via an amazingly beautiful sliding barn door) to established bakery Bread & Butter. Kelvin and my mother-in-law have become regulars at the bakery, stopping in almost weekly for goods or soups or sandwiches or their delicious apple crumble pie. Imagine their excitement when toast + jam opened up. Anyways, we headed over for brunch on Sunday, and here are our thoughts!  

 Walking in, we loved the space instantly. They’ve got a really open layout, and a wide variety of seating – two long bar height tables, a cozy fireplace and lounge area, and a smattering of tables around. We probably waited for 15 minutes for our table. In the meantime, I snuck over to bread and butter to sample some lemon squares. 

 

I ordered the Grilled Wilton, which was absolutely delicious and surprisingly filling! I opted for a side of roast potatoes, but one of our friends got the soup and she said it was great. We also ordered a side kale Caesar, which was okay, but I probably wouldn’t get it again. 
 
Kelvin got the Scrambowl, which was tasty, but I think left him hankering for a little something extra. A sizeable portion of the scrambled eggs also found their way into Andy’s mouth, which probably didn’t help. He said that he would definitely get a sandwich next time. I agree with him – sandwiches are the way to go if you want something that fills you up. 

  
At the end of the meal, we got our bill on a plate with these two delicious ginger cookies. That was definitely a nice touch. One that made me want more baked goods. How convenient that Bread & Butter is right next door! I ended up buying a blueberry lemon something or other that I devoured on the car ride home. 

All in all, a nice addition to the west end Kingston food scene. A touch on the pricier side for what you get, but we would come again. 

42.

Andy is slowly getting back to his usual self. He has now traded his fever for a cold and his laboured breathing makes him sound like Darth Vader, but at least he is active and smiley once more. And he doesn’t cry when we put him on the ground. 

  
We are working on getting him to sleep through the night once more, so that has been its own beast. There have been multiple nights of some pretty wicked crying. In the last ten months, there have definitely been many moments in which I’ve been extremely frustrated and have turned to the Internet for help and solace, only to become more frustrated or confused. I looked up sleep schedules and they were all over the map. 

In other news, Andy now has 7 teeth, and when he bites you it hurts. Attempts have been made to get him to stop, but I think it is mostly exploratory right now so there isn’t much we can do. This also translates to him taking bites out of his food, which is really funny. Regardless of how small and item is already, he likes to take one bite first, just because he can. He has also made some progress in developing his fine motor skills in his right hand, especially when it comes to feeding himself. (But as you can see in the picture below, he still prefers his left hand…)

  
We’ve left the baby gate off his room more frequently since we are home and are watching him when he plays. The cutest thing is when he is playing in his room with me, hears Kelvin in our bedroom, then promptly crawls out of the room to find him. We may need to get some knee patches for his pants if this keeps up.  

On the home front, we took an Andy-less trip up to Ottawa for brunch and a visit to IKEA. We ate at Baker Street Cafe, which sadly we did not find as awesome as the hype made it out to be. I mean, there was a line for it. An out the door and onto the snowy Westboro streets line. We had a fairly successful time at IKEA, though, picking up a great new shelf that really changes the aesthetic of our main floor, a much-needed mirror for our front entrance, and a few other knick knacks. Kelvin also got around to treating our dining room table. 

  

All in all, it’s been a successful second week of the holidays. I’m looking forward to finishing some books and starting new ones, and to getting back into the groove of teaching by crafting a work plan for the remainder of the 2015/2016 school year.  

Hope your first week of 2016 was great!

New year, new resolutions

Happy New Year!

I’ve always been one for goals and planning, so you can only imagine how invigorating the end of the year is for me. I get to step back and reflect on the year. But even better, I get to set out new challenges and plans for the year ahead. I’ve been thinking about one phrase to encapsulate my focus for the year, and to take a page from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (which I am currently reading and enjoying quite a bit), been creating a list of actionable resolutions. Recently, I came across this simple idea for creating resolutions as a family, which was too awesome to pass up. I don’t know if Kelvin will indulge me by participating, and Andy is not yet able to express coherent words, but nonetheless, here are my resolutions!

THIS YEAR I WILL…

Start a new habit: drink at least a litre of water every day

Read a good book: Foster’s Celebration of Discipline (which I have been trying to get to forever) and The Third Teacher

Learn a new skill: Investing (and just general personal finance)

Go on a visit to: Upper Canada Village

Break a bad habit: sleeping late

Look forward to: attending this conference and this conference

Try something new: incorporate urban studies and design thinking into my teaching