Failure

I have never been good at dealing with failure.

Despite my love of learning and my penchant for creativity, I will be the first person to say that I do not fail well. I take things super hard and I dwell on failures and mistakes for quite a while. I let them fester and take root and bring me down. I start questioning my identity, my purpose, my actions. It’s a vicious cycle.

This past week, I had a bit of a rough day in school. Classroom management has never been a forte, and I felt like I was getting walked all over. By 4-6 year olds. Coupled with some concerns that I had had over Andy’s development, it made for a very emotional car ride home.

But I came to a realization today.

In parenting and teaching, I’ve been focusing so much on me. On my accomplishments, my abilities, my goals and dreams and plans. But what if I started with the kids? With their circles of experience? Instead of success being defined as them meeting this arbitrary goal that I set in my mind, what if I measured it according to the lasting improvement I saw in them over time? I bet it would take a whole lot of the pressure off while also freeing my mind up to actually do great work with them. Hmm…

An aside, THIS was a timely post about What Teachers Can Learn from Elon Musk.

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Lunch date in Ottawa 

I must confess, Kelvin and I do not always capitalize on the fact that we have lots of help with Andy (at least, not when it comes to evening dates). By the time we put Andy down for bed, rather than get ready to go out for dinner, it’s much more desirable to just kick back, have dinner together at home, and watch Casey Neistat vlogs. However, when the opportunity arises, we do find ourselves out of town for the day without Andy.

Last week, Kelvin and I took a drive up to Ottawa to hit IKEA and T&T. We bought about $150 worth of storage bins (👌) and another dual case of the specific Asian chicken broth that we like to use. For lunch in between, following an amuse bouche of IKEA Swedish meatballs, we headed to Whalesbone Oyster House on Bank Street.

The storefront isn’t huge, and the sign is somewhat dark, so it can be hard to spot. This might also have something to do with the fact that it was hailing as we drove up (what!). Anyways, we were arriving around 1 pm on a Thursday and we found a spot easily.


We got ourselves 12 oysters for $35. We tend to like sweeter, plumper oysters, and though all three varieties were different, we enjoyed them all. We also got an order of fish and chips, but I forgot to take a picture before we ate them. They were delicious and light.

We also got churros, because whenever Kelvin sees churros, he has to get them. This, unfortunately, was a disappointment. At $9 a plate, it definitely wasn’t worth it. The exterior was too crisp and the interior too soft, which makes me think they were from frozen. Which in hindsight probably makes sense, since oysters and churros aren’t often found together. That’s okay, lesson learned.

All in all, a really enjoyable experience. Next time, we’ll come back and try the lobster roll.

Whalesbone Oyster House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

52.

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year. Our little guy has grown from a mere peanut to a full-on toddler. He laughs heartily, claps enthusiastically, and is curious about everything around him. He always tries to engage the people around him, luring them in with smiles and funny expressions. 

  
He has quite a few favourites these days. His favourite toys are his stuffies and his blocks. He doesn’t really like reading. Food wise, he loves peas, noodles, tofu, bananas, bread, and cheese. He enjoys going outside, climbing stairs, and watching the neighbours’ dogs play in the backyard. 

   

He also has quite a few things that he dislikes. Wearing hats. The end of meals. Getting strapped in his car seat. 

We celebrated his first birthday today with our immediate family, and I will hopefully get the post done by tomorrow. It’s been fun documenting Andy’s weeks on this blog, so here’s to 52 weeks of noticing big and little things about Andy. 

Happy birthday, little bug!

  

A Brief History of Community Building

I was fiddling around on YouTube just now and rediscovered some videos that I made a few years ago during a Culture Days weekend. That got me thinking…

First, a bit of background. Culture Days was actually one of the catalysts that led me to stay in Kingston for good (the main catalyst was Kelvin). It was 2011 and my burgeoning love for community building inspired me to organize a Culture Days event here in town called KINGSTON THROUGH MY LENS. It was essentially a 10-day, city-wide photo project that aimed to visually share community stories. That year, I also sat on the first Kingston Culture Days planning committee. It was great fun.

Fast forward one year, and I decided to participate in Culture Days once again. I was in the midst of planning our wedding at that time, so I wanted to take on something a little more low-key. Enter: THE HAPPY POST PROJECT. My goal was to collect a whole whack of post-its with things that make people happy written on them, and to then display them at my favourite west end park in Kingston. The day before the installation, I did a full-day bike blitz where I biked around the west end and asked people to write down what made them happy. I filmed a series of videos to document the day. I also live tweeted the whole event using #HappyPostYGK. Reading through those tweets gave me great joy.

This past September, after a few years away from organizing community initiatives, I spearheaded the development of EDCAMP KINGSTON, which is/will be an annual unconference around education in our city.

Kelvin mentioned this morning that I have an “entrepreneurial spirit”. And I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for my parents both being civil servants, I very well may have picked a more entrepreneurial route in life than teaching (though I did say that even within education, there is plenty of room for exploring uncharted territory). I inherited from my father a love for the city, and this has resulted in a tendency for me to develop random community projects.

Recently, I was listening to Episode 21 of THE SIMPLE SHOW, which featured this amazing community movement called NEIGHBOR’S TABLE. I’ve decided that I’m going to do a rendition of this in my own neighbourhood. I’m fairly inept on the cooking and hospitality front, so it’s going to be a much simpler version, but I’m really looking forward to it nonetheless. I’ve shared the idea with some of my neighbours already, and I can’t wait until the warmer weather to get my dinner organized. I have high hopes for this little initiative!

51.

This has probably been the best week ever. As in Andy’s best week since he was born. And I’m pretty sure this is all thanks to his sleep sack.

We’ve had this sleep sack for a while. It was given to us by a friend who was done having kids. Andy kept busting out the top of it (those snaps), so I decided to see one side permanently shut. It worked like magic (except for that one night I needed to go in and help him since he managed to squeeze out from just the one unsewn side…) and his overall demeanour during the day has seen a similar transformation. He is even more agreeable than he was before, and my in-laws have commented on how it’s so nice to see him every morning when I drop him off at their house.   

  
So what had Andy been up to at home? Well, he’s been crawling under the dining table a lot. And learning how to get off his rocking horse. A large portion of his day now is spent climbing up and down stairs. Oh, and he tends to walk on all fours like an ape. 

  
He also has an insatiable appetite. We went to Panera today for lunch after church and he had a whole kids meal. Plus some of my soup. And he wanted more. Thank goodness we have a Costco membership. 

  
A little story about Andy: since the beginning of 2016, we’ve had some trouble with Andy being clingy and not wanting to go to the nursery at church. We’ve been working on getting him used to it and just leaving him with the nice people even if he protests. Today when we went to pick him up, the ladies told us that Andy was being really sweet. There was another little boy in there who was having a hard time being away from his mom, and Andy was clearly feeling a little distressed over it. In an attempt to comfort the boy, Andy brought toys over to him and even patted him on the back. Knowing that Andy is starting to feel empathy for other kids just melts my heart!

Commuting

My commute to work used to be 10 minutes by car. Now, it takes me about 35 minutes. If this were the GTA, 35 minutes would be merely peanuts. But in the Kingston area, 35 minutes often means you’re in a whole other world.

There are definitely pros and cons to this arrangement. Let me outline a few of them.

Pro: I get to listen to podcasts.
This was probably the thing that excited me most about my longer commute. I am terribly behind in my podcast queue and this has helped.

Con: The gas.
I used to fill up maybe twice a month. Now I fill up about twice a week.

Pro: The drive is scenic.
About 15 minutes of my drive is in town/on the highway. The remaining 20 minutes is straight up a county road until I get to my school. I slow down exactly two times, as I pass through two small towns. Only one of those towns requires me to stop at a stop sign.

Con: I get sleepy sometimes.
35 minutes is not an insignificant amount of time. One morning, I was really tired driving in, and to make sure I made it to school alive, I had to stop at a country store to pick up a shot of caffeine. I found it in the form of a Starbucks frappucino drink. It was mostly sugar.

It’s only been two weeks, but the drive is starting to grow on me. I find myself becoming more familiar with the landmarks I pass, and I’m starting to be able to list off the roads that come and go.  I pass the same black Q5 on my way to and from work (they head in the opposite direction), and occasionally I find myself right behind my colleagues who are also driving from town. I look forward to driving up the hill to the school parking lot and to walking down the hall to my little corner of the school. This is my new normal.

Random aside: we have the most amazing schoolyard.