The Best of 2015

After having read this post by a blogger I follow, I thought it fitting to follow suit and reflect on the top 15 things/moments/experiences of 2015. Some of these were huge things, others more mundane, but altogether these made my year.

IMG_7066

Our first visit to the Tett and the Isabel. These were actually two separate occasions, but they’re in the same complex and together make up Kingston’s newest creativity hub. We went to watch the KSO play at the Isabel in February, then attended the Tett grand opening this May. I still can’t believe we have such amazing spaces in our city.

IMG_7221

Andy’s birth this March. Hands down the biggest event of the year. This little guy has changed our life forever, and we could not be more thankful for him.

IMG_0054

Having my poem featured on GOODJust for fun, I participated in a little poetry challenge online. I wrote an acrostic poem on parenthood.

IMG_0021

Winning a ticket to the 21CLI conference in Hong Kong via #whatisschool. For the last year or so I’ve been really into twitter chats as part of my own professional development. I’m really excited to attend this conference in February 2016.

IMG_0273.JPG

Watching the Jays vs. the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Kelvin had a work meeting down in Houston this May, so we made it a family affair. How we came to actually attend this game was pretty random, but it was definitely one of the most memorable, electric experiences of the year.

The Live Sent sermon series. We are blessed with an amazing pastoral team at our church, and this sermon series really challenged us to think about the vision of our church and how we are to go about our daily lives missionally as people of faith.

IMG_1035

Witnessing the marriages of some of our good friends. It is a joy to share life with those around us, and it was an absolute honour for us to have had the opportunity this year to see so many of our friends commit to serving and loving each other for the rest of their lives. These weddings took us far and wide, from within Canada, to the States, and even to Spain.

Joining the KFPL board. I talk about our local library system a lot. I absolutely love what they’re doing. I’ve always enjoyed taking on new roles, and this is one that I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s only been a few months and already I’m learning so much about governance and about the shifting role of libraries today.

IMG_1716.JPG

Moving into our new house. This August, we ventured to the edge of suburbia for a little more breathing room. It’s been an adjustment, but we are settling in nicely and really loving making the space our own.

Planning my very first Edcamp here in Kingston. Ever since attending my first edcamp in 2011, I’ve been wanting to host one here in town. With the time off from work, I was finally able to get it done! Hoping this will become a yearly event.

IMG_2187

Our trip to Europe. I could probably fill a top 15 list from this trip alone, but hands down this was one of our favourite vacations yet. There’s something other-worldly about Europe that is so hard to replicate here in North America. We spent time in Spain and in England, and though they couldn’t have been more different, we enjoyed them both.

Discovering podcasts. I know podcasts have been around for a long time, but I just started listening to them this fall. Now I can’t stop. I listen to them all the time. Here are some faves.

Reading Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavour. This book has really broadened my understanding of what it means to integrate faith and work. I’ve loved the discussions that have come out of this, and I cannot wait to finish it with our small group.

Finally subscribing to Darling. This was one of my treats to myself on Black Friday. I fully support the mandate of Darling and I am so happy that  it now comes to my mailbox every 3 months. Pages and pages of goodness that truly feed my soul.

Netflix with Kelvin after Andy goes to sleep. One of my favourite times of day (other then going to sleep) is when Kelvin and I get to hang out, cook dinner, eat, and watch a show together. We’ve worked our way through lots, including Selling New York and Worst Cooks of America.

And there you have it – the Top 15 of 2015. Here’s to reflecting on an amazing year, and looking forward to the next one!

36.

New fascinations this week: the cloth laundry hamper, and the spring doorstop behind all the doors (and I mean all the doors). 

  

The week started off pretty exhausting, but it has ended on a high note. We had some rough nights, and finally decided last night that it’s okay for us to just turn off the monitor (on our end) when we go to sleep. The development milestones continue to pile on, the pinnacle of which was when Andy stood unassisted for the first time yesterday! On the food front, he had mangos and yogurt for the first time this week. 

With colder weather imminent, I am on the lookout for options of things to do with Andy to replace some of our outdoor walks. We have every intention of bundling him up on some days, but on other days, we just need somewhere else to go. This will likely include going to various library branches (different board book selection!). Also, we took Andy to try out baby gymnastics this morning and it was a lot of fun! He was the smallest kid by far, and he wasn’t able to do a lot of the jumping/running activities, but he had fun nonetheless. Considering getting a multi-visit pass for him. 

  

Last night, I started reading how not to calm  a child on a plane by Johanna Stein, and I must say that I am really liking it. It’s a bit on the crass side, but I guess that can sometimes come with being candid and relatable. I literally laughed out loud during a number of chapters, and I am hoping that if I hunker down for another reading session tonight, that I’ll be able to finish it. 

Believe it or not, Christmas is just over a month away, so preparations are beginning for that time of year. I should peruse minted in search of desirable layouts for our annual virtual Christmas update. I should start planning the itinerary for our trip to Toronto. And then there is the whole thing about presents. We really want to get Andy a teepee for Christmas. I’ve been looking all over online and though we found some good options, I’m also entertaining the idea of making my own? We shall see…

24.

Biggest news of the week – Andy is sleeping through the night! Like true, 10 or 11-hour sleeps. And this came after two nights of pretty atrocious sleeping, so it was particularly amazing. I credit the softness of the fleece blanket we laid down over top of his sheets for this change.

Come to think of it, our sweet boy has been particularly sweet lately. He tries to talk to us often and has been doing this funny thing where he sucks on his lip and it makes a smacking sound. Kelvin really likes it when he clamps down on his gums in a way that flattens out his jaw. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s super cute. He actually does it a lot when he’s eating. Maybe it’s his way of keeping the spoon in his mouth.

Unlike last week, this week was jam-packed. My sister and mom came up to watch Andy (so thankful!) so that I could get a few things done. He was so good with them. They took a lot of pictures of him. Like this one.

IMG_1645

I had mentioned earlier that I joined the board at our local library. On Tuesday, I travelled with my fellow board members to see some of the branches. I loved driving through Frontenac, taking in the scenery, and meeting the staff and patrons who frequent the library out this way. The rural branches are typically smaller than the urban branches, but I am encouraged to know that the residents in these neighbourhoods have access to all the same wonderful holdings I have. I also got to see a lot of the elementary schools that are in the northern part of the school district that I work for. What a treat!

The next day, I presented for the very first time at a conference organized by our school board. It was a little nerve-wracking, but a really great experience. I’ve been using this app called Notability for virtually all my organization needs at school. It’s the one app I feel like I can really get behind and champion, and so I did! The folks at Ginger Labs were super helpful and even gave me some access codes so my participants could try it for free :) Best thing about that day? I won half a day of release time for future tech learning!

On the homefront, we are looking for a new rug for our living space. We recently ordered this rug for our dining area, and are keeping our eyes open for a thicker, more colourful rug for the living room.

Also, some amazing videos from around the inter web: Ikea puns and Raising Robot Babies

23.

This has been one of my least productive weeks so far. Perhaps I need to move my goal calendar over from the old house…

The heat and humidity has kept us mostly indoors this week, save for that one morning we went out for an hour-long walk in our neighbourhood and returned essentially dripping with sweat. That day, I realized how great having interior access to the garage is. I rolled the stroller into the garage and took my time transferring things back into the house. Then I had a huge glass of water.

IMG_1599

I continue to think that Andy quite likes it here. Or maybe he is completely oblivious and just likes playing with the same things that he’s always had. He’s developed quite a penchant for this pillow (see picture). Whenever we come down to the living room he needs to sit with it and pat it with his little hands.

This place is starting to feel more like home. In fact, this morning, inspired by this house tour on A Cup of Jo, Kelvin started spouting off all the things he wants to do in our home. Like paint the whole main floor ultra pure white (we do love our walls ultra pure white). And add subway tile. And open shelving. The list gets longer with each passing day.

Moving on.

Yesterday, we headed to our local library – if you have read any handful of posts from this blog you will know that it is one of my favourite places – for a puppet show extravaganza. Andy thoroughly enjoyed this, his eyes fixated on the bright little stage in the otherwise dark room. On our way out, the puppet animals were available for hugs (one of the stories they portrayed was “Who wants a hug?”) and Andy took a liking to the little bear. It was the only puppet he reached out to touch.

In the evening, despite the torrential downpour, we headed to Lake Ontario Park for Loving Spoonful’s annual Food Fiesta. Got myself a brisket sammie from The Big Smoke Food Truck. It was pretty delicious. I’d been meaning to check them out for quite some time.

On the topic of food, I’ve been off the new recipe ball for the past month or so, but this week we tried a few via Budget Bytes – this one for corn and zucchini tacos which we really loved, and this one for spinach ricotta pasta which was insanely dry. Maybe I used the wrong type of ricotta. Maybe the gas stove is making me want to cook more?

Also, something I’m really excited for: the first in a guest blogger series that I’m doing for our local conservation authority. I do find the bio description a little comical, though. Catherine is a Kingston resident, popular blogger, and mom. I don’t think I’ve ever introduced myself in that way before.

Anyways, next week is a busy one, and also happens to be the last week of August (WHAT). Fall is coming.

18.

Our once lazy little munchkin is starting to take initiative! He is actively grabbing for things now, and he has been going to town on some of his cloth books. I am starting to think that it’s time to move him up to more interesting toys – things that will encourage his exploration more. Maybe things that move? Or things that make noise? Perhaps he will like my recorder.

IMG_1074

He’s also turning into quite the chatty kiddo, especially in the mornings. I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying, but I do try to affirm his vocalizations with the odd “Oh yeah?” and “Mm hmm”. Should I be doing more to encourage this behaviour?

He falls asleep quite easily now at night, often in really strange positions. Earlier this week, he slowly made his way out of view of the monitor. We found him at the foot of the crib, perpendicular to where he was, with his little feet barely inside the crib. Last night, he managed to rotate 45 degrees and fell asleep clinging on to one of the crib slats with his right hand and with one little foot sticking out. Part of me really wants to take pictures of this, but his room is pretty dark, and I have zero desire to wake our munchkin up with a flash.

Today, for the second time since Andy was born, we left him with grandma and grandpa so that Kelvin and I could go out on our own. We headed to nearby Gananoque for the matinee performance of Pirates of Penzance at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. We absolutely love this little playhouse (I mean, you can dock your boat there and watch the show…how sweet is that? Now if only we had a boat…and a license…) and always enjoy the time that we spend there. This show (which closed today) was particularly special, because the Artistic Director adapted it to take place in the Thousand Islands!

IMG_1086

We are heading off on Monday for 10 days in the US so packing really needs to begin. Alas, Andy has outgrown almost all of his shorts, and we need to buy new ones and do laundry before I can really think about packing. This will be our longest stretch away with the little guy. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will all be okay, and that we will last without doing laundry!

And an update from my end – success was had with both the library board and the Awesome Kingston grant! I anticipate my first board meeting in September, and our edcamp team now has money to work with through the July micro-grant from the Awesome Kingston trustees. Yippee!

On the flip side, I also had a mini meltdown this week due to a deep dissatisfaction with my current fitness level. I had been deluded to think that I was doing okay, when truth be told, I was eating like crap and not working out remotely enough. Motherhood is not all rainbows and lollipops, I’ll have you know. Part of this meltdown involved a run at 12:30 am, after which I did not stretch, and for which I am now paying the price. Hotheadedness never pays. Anyways, my in-laws are thankfully coming with us on this trip, so grandpa is available for short babysitting sessions when gym visits need to happen. I am infinitely grateful for them.

And now, to clean my main floor…

17.

Despite being sick all week, Andy has been such a trooper. His hacking cough and ridiculously congested nose haven’t kept him up too much at night (so thankful for this!) but he is a little bit more lethargic than his usual self. We’ve spent the week in Toronto and will be attending some weddings this weekend, so he’s had quite a busy schedule! Though it’s always nice to be away, it’s also made me realize just how much I enjoy being at home in Kingston :) Also, I realized that I never want to have a sick child when I’m away from Kelvin.

IMG_0979

One thing that I miss so much about living here (other than Sun Sing See) is having a piano. We can’t fit a piano into our current home due to lack of wall space, but it’s definitely something I hope Andy will come to love. We made sure to get lots of piano time in this week. At this point, I think Andy is just ambivalent towards it.

IMG_0963

When we went to the doctor’s on Monday, we weighed this little guy, and he is sitting at a whopping 17 lb 4 oz. What a little chunker! But as much as we rag on him for being so chubby, we love that he’s as sturdy as he is. He’s starting to really push the limits of his travel crib, though. We have the mini version, and I think Kelvin is seriously considering getting the full-size. We shall see.

IMG_0969-1As motherhood becomes more real to me (sometimes I look at myself holding Andy in the mirror and I can’t fathom that he is actually our child, and not just a baby that I’ve borrowed from someone to play with…) I find myself seeking out blogs written by mothers. This week, I stumbled upon Chriselle Lim’s blog, and I was so touched by her candidness with the ins and outs of her pregnancy and the first few weeks. I will never be as chic as her, but I can definitely appreciate what she is doing and how she is balancing her work responsibilities with her motherly duties.

Two pieces of exciting news on my end:

1) I had mentioned two weeks ago that I had sent out some applications. Well, on the community front, my name was forwarded on to City Council for recommendation to our local library board! I absolutely love our library and what they’re doing (which I talk about briefly in this post) and am so excited for the possibility of being part of the team that sets its strategic vision for the next few years! There is talk of a new branch being built in a neighbourhood that is dear to my heart, so what a wonderful time to be involved! (On the professional front, I didn’t get the position that I applied for, but a new position has opened up which I think is much better suited for me, and I will be applying for it before it closes at the end of August!)

2) I am planning an edcamp in Kingston this fall and I recently applied for a micro grant through Awesome Kingston (so many applications lately, it seems). I heard from them today and we’ve been invited to pitch at their next pitch party! It’ll be happening in just under a week (Thursday at 7 at the Marine Museum) and if we are successful, we will get $1000 for our project. I’ve been following Awesome Kingston for quite a while and have wanted to plan something wonderful that they can feel proud to back. I hope this is that something wonderful :)

And last but not least, for something random: I want to pick up some sweet leggings from this Toronto-based company.

For the love of books

I have very fond memories of going to the library. When we were little, we would head to our local community centre for our weekly swimming lessons, then head straight to the library, our hair still wet and reeking of chlorine. The library is where I discovered the Sweet Valley High series, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Dan Gibson’s Solitudes CDs. It was also always my first stop for research projects. Well, that and our Encarta encyclopedia CD-ROM. 

Going to the library is something that we hope will be part of Andy’s weekly routine as he gets bigger. I grew up in a house full of books, thanks in part to my mom’s bonus bucks from Scholastic book orders, but many of those books we could have just borrowed instead of buying. There are definitely books that we want Andy to have his own copy of – classic books like The Giver and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – but there are also many others that will play but a small role in his life. 

Here in Kingston we are blessed with an amazing library system. I remember being in awe of how current its holdings were when I first got a card. Literally anything I was looking for, I could find. They are also charting new paths with a number of online resources like Lynda.com and zinio (for online magazines). It is truly one of the best services Kingston has to offer. I aspire to one day be on its board. 

Anyways, Andy and I walked to the library today. He picked up four board books and I stumbled upon a new requisition entitled Hector and the Search for Happiness. I’m really liking its simple, yet profound voice. Plus I am gleaning some good life advice – “Lesson no. 1: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.” 

Here’s to many more visits and the continued development of my intellect.  

Amazing Things Around the Web

I love to read blogs. On my iPhone, I have an app called Newsify, and every morning I try to make it through all the posts that have come up. Admittedly, some of them I will gloss over, but there are others that draw me in and move me to action. Here are four posts that I dwelled over for a while – 2 of which I would like to see come true in Kingston, and 2 of which were more for my own personal interest.

The Happy Post Project: Spreading Cheer Via Post-It Note (via GOOD)

Last year, I initiated Kingston Through My Lens. It was an amazing experience, and my plan was originally to run it again this year. However, as circumstance would have it, I need to do something a little less involved for Culture Days this year, and I am leaning towards organizing a Happy Post Project in Kingston. Simply put, people will come and answer the question “what makes you happy?” on a post-it note, and then you display it in some shape or form. Then, you take all the post-its and mail them to The Happy Post Project to help them reach their goal of 100,000 happy posts.  If you live in the Kingston area and want to help me out with this, just send me an email!

Little Free Libraries Around Toronto (via Apartment Therapy)

free-library2.jpg

As it says in the article, the idea of book swaps is not a new one. I came across Book Crossing a few years ago, and really liked the idea, but I wanted something that kept the books more so in the local community. This idea of little free libraries is great, but the price of purchasing one of their libraries is quite prohibitive, and I really don’t trust my ability to create one from scratch. Most likely, the thing will fall apart, and we will be left with a yard full of books that have been destroyed by Kingston rain (though lately we have been getting no rain…and my lawn is definitely showing evidence of that). That being said, I think Kingston could really benefit from doing something like this – maybe we could use little mailboxes or something like that. According to the little free libraries global map, there is one in Landsdowne, Ontario, on a boat dock…but alas, I do not have a boat. Don’t worry, I will find a way to get this off the ground. Again, I am sending out an open call to people who live in the Kingston area, if you can help in some way (maybe you just happen to have a vast quantity of mailboxes that can be used for this project), please email me!

A $10 Bicycle That Actually Works! (via Apartment Therapy)

cardboard-bike-01.jpg

Can you tell I love Apartment Therapy? =P After watching this video, I was amazed not only at the bicycle, but at the man behind it. His process of trial and prototyping, his determination for success amidst the skepticism of others, and the way he used his skill set were inspiring. Though this is not something I would do, I have so much respect for him, and would love to try out the bike!

Monday Giveaway! (via A Cup of Jo)

There are a few personal blogs that I subscribe to, Joanna Goddard’s being one of them. I have this attraction to people who live in NYC and SF, so it seems most of the individuals that I follow are from one of those two cities. Anyways, her giveaway yesterday was this SWEET diaper bag from So Young. I am not yet at that stage of life where I will need a diaper bag, but I forwarded it to Kelvin nonetheless, after which I received a text that said “That is one of the best baby bags I’ve ever seen…How much?”. We then proceeded to scour their website, amazed at all the cool features the diaper bag has, and how it has such a rugged exterior that Kelvin would proudly tote around. In particular, we liked the built in sunglasses case, though Kelvin and I will need to determine whose Raybans will go there. And for those of you who are curious, it is $175, and available at a number of fine retailers as well as online (with free shipping for orders over $50, which this bag definitely is).

Now that I am at the end of this post, I just want to say that I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts. Often times, these thoughts will get sent off to twitter or in emails to Kelvin, my sister, and my parents, but perhaps I should use this outlet more to share cool things I find.