Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Inspired by Mr. Holland's Opus and Two Weeks on the Couch

So being off with this injury and finding it difficult to do a lot of things right now has given me a lot of time to fill.  I spend a great deal of it reading or watching movies and TV.  I watched Mr. Holland's Opus this morning. It reminded me of all the teachers that helped that contributed to the vision of the teacher that I wanted to be.  Here are some tidbits from each of them.

Mr. Holland, of whom one of his students said "We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.” 

Mr. Keating of Dead Poet’s Society has so many quotes to choose from, but let's go with this one "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
Mrs. Frizzle’s ever-ready daily directive to "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” 

Yoda’s old standby "Do or do not.  There is no try.” 

Dumbledore managed to be both succinct and profound innumerable times.  Again, how do I choose?  In a pinch, I will go with “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” 

Charlotte of Charlotte’s web, Wilbur’s “blood-thirsty” and clever friend said, “Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.”

Atticus Finch was so full of wisdom and love that my heart nearly exploded when I first read To Kill a Mokingbird in grade 9.  On empathy he said, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

I was as smitten with Anne of Green Gables’ Miss. Stacy as Anne herself was.  She said many beautiful and touching things, but I particularly liked her reflections on people and character. "Sometimes people don't want to hear the truth, Anne. You see, it frightens them, so they put up walls to protect themselves from it. What we must bear in mind is that all these trials and tribulations that pop up in our lives, well, they serve a very useful purpose: they build character, as long as we can hold on to the lessons we've learn from our mistakes. Remember, we can always start everything fresh tomorrow.”

I’ll be obvious for a minute and offer up Mahatma Ghandi’s famous quote "Be the change you wish to see in the world” by which I try to live every day.

Finally, only because my medication is making me drowsy again, and certainly not least is Uncle Larry. Actions speak louder than words with this one, but the fact that he was on the receiving end of "How do you know that?" dozens of times and "Do you have any stupid idea where we are?" only once probably sums it up.  I was not always the best student and there were times when, I know, I infuriated him.  When push came to shove though, he loved me ferociously and was willing to teach me everything he knew.  Since his passing, I have heard so many people say “I would not be what/where/who I am today if it weren’t for him.”  That is what being a teacher is all about.  That sums all of the above up.  Take chances, build character, try to understand other people and leave the world a better place than you found it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Don't Lay Blame, Have Hope and Act On It

I, like everyone else, have spent a great deal of time over the past five days with my mind elsewhere. So many things bring my heart and mind to the brink of sadness, imagining how the left-behind in Newtown, Connecticut must feel. I cried openly as Josh Groban's I'll Be Home for Christmas played on the radio because I could not keep at bay the empathy for the twenty sets of parents whose babies were taken from them, not to mention all of the other families whose loved ones won't be Home.
I would be the last person to politicize a tragedy like this because, while I appreciate that the value of the discussion that has erupted surrounding gun-control and mental health care both in the U.S. and elsewhere, I don't think it is fair or helpful to choose one issue upon which to hang this tragedy. This is why I have gritted my teeth as shared posts have scrolled along my Facebook timeline, suggesting that the lack of religion in our schools is to blame for the actions of Adam Lanza. I understand that people need to make sense of these sorts of things in order to cope and grieve healthily. That said, to suggest that those of us who are not Christian are without spirituality and that this is the root of tragedies such as this is ignorant and irresponsible.
Just because I do not believe in one omniscient deity or attend church, does not mean I am without spirituality. The simple fact that I do not identify as Christian or Jewish or Muslim, does not mean I am not spiritual or that I believe in nothing. Neither does this mean that I live without scruples nor does it leave me at risk of deteriorating into a immoral degenerate. Further to that, the lack of Christianity in our schools does not doom our children to this fate either. Those of us who work in schools encourage spirituality in our students, but we call it respect for others, self and the world around us. We encourage our students to provide service to those in need, to always do their best, to treat the world around them with care and that they are loved unconditionally. We work at molding respectful, generous, forward-thinking, self-respecting people, no matter what house of worship they attend.
To say that what happened in Newtown, Connecticut or Taber, Alberta or Dublane, Scotland or Columbine, Colorado was as a result of the removal of Christianity from the public school system is a cop-out. Christianity, or any organized religion for that matter, is not necessary in order to produce healthy, contributing citizens with character and integrity. People like this are produced by other people like this. Unfortunately, not everyone is being raised or taught by people like this. We all need to take responsibility for what has happened in these places. We need to identify both pro-active and reactive strategies for providing better services, be they financial, social, medical, educational or otherwise, to those who need them. While I obviously didn't perform any of these horrendous acts, I do feel like I have sat idly by in a society which has allowed money to become the ultimate deity and has placed it ahead of everything else, most importantly our overall well-being as a society. When tragedies like this happen, we have to take a long, hard look at how we can keep it form happening again, not point fingers at each other. We need to be ready to completely overhaul our systems, both literal and belief, in order to intervene before things get completely out of control. Without question, there would be challenges, but I think the growing pains would be worth it.
In closing, for anyone wondering, I believe in humankind. I believe in improving life here on earth for those here and those to come through acts big and small. I believe that if we all had hope and trust in ourselves as a species, as a group of beings living and growing together and acted on that hope, we could do amazing things. I try to live every day with that hope for us in my heart and act on it any chance I get. I don't have the warm glow of a heavenly afterlife to lead me through this crazy existence, but I use the world around me - my students, my children, my family and friends and pets and co-workers and strangers and the great wide world we live - that's my fuel.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

21 Questions

Inspired by my friend at Clemente Corner, I decided to give this a go with my kids. There were some definitely quality moments.

4 years 10 months
1. What is something mommy always says to you?
Clean up

2. What makes you happy?
Playing on the trampoline

3. What makes you sad?
Not letting me go downstairs.

4. What makes you laugh?
Juggling books.

5. How old are you?

6. How old is Mommy?

7. How old is Daddy?

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Play outside

9. Who is your best friend?

10. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A princess teacher

11. What are you really good at?
Holding books on my head

12. What are you not very good at?
Juggling books

13. What did you do today?
Went to the grocery store with you [mom].

14. What is your favorite food?
Ice cream

15. What is your favorite song?
We Are Young (by Fun)

16. What do you want for (holiday or birthday) this year?
Eat cake and play on the swings.

17. What is your favorite animal?
A raccoon (???)

18. What is love?
Hugging and kissing.

19. What does mommy/daddy do for work?
Mummy: she teaches her students
Daddy: he flies his airplanes

20. Where do you live?
At Fredericton

21. Where is your favorite place to go?
To Toronto (we’ve never been, but she is looking forward to a trip this month)

2 years 4 months
1. What is something mommy always says to you?
No jumping

2. What makes you happy?
The great pie (from Backyardigans)

3. What makes you sad?

4. What makes you laugh?
Jumping bed

5. How old are you?
Good! :D (thinks I asked “how are you?”)

6. How old is Mommy?
I don’t know

7. How old is Daddy?
He’s on trampoline

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
On trampoline

9. Who is your best friend?

10. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Get a dolphin (rofl!)

11. What are you really good at?
I don’t know

12. What are you not very good at?
Trampoline (can you tell we set up the tramp today?)

13. What did you do today?
Drive car

14. What is your favorite food?

15. What is your favorite song?
Ummm…dance show

16. What do you want for (holiday or birthday) this year?
started singing Happy Birthday song

17. What is your favorite animal?

18. What is love?
Laughed “I dunno!”

19. What does mommy/daddy do for work?
Mummy: ummm…I don’t know
Daddy: ummm….I don’t know

20. Where do you live?
Asian (??? I checked 3 times that this is what he was saying)

21. Where is your favorite place to go?
To Cora’s

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Disney Trip Prep - Part I

So anyone who knows me, knows I am a planner.  I don't just need it in order to be organized - I love it.  It is a pass-time for me.  My absolute favourite things to plan are holiday get-togethers and trips.  I liken the process of fleshing out all the little details to getting into a really good book or snuggling way down in a big fluffy blanket.  I can get thoroughly absorbed by it, if I am not careful.
As you can imagine, our first family trip to Disney World has absolutely had this effect on me.  Upon getting the email from Aeroplan that our flights were booked, I started daydreaming about where we'd eat and what we'd do in the parks, where we'd stay and what little things I was going to do to make this trip special for everyone.  I've spent hours scouring the internet for everything from tips on saving money to Disney trip themed crafts.  I joined DISboards (an internet forum dedicated entirely to Disney parks) and have been learning everything I can about how to best tackle the parks during the holiday season (the busiest time of the year).  Needless to say, I have a lot of things floating around in my head (how to use FastPasses to our advantage, how to make sure Orin stays well-hydrated throughout the trip, how to feed the boy in a world laden with salt, how to announce the trip to the kids, whether or not to do things other than Disney while in Florida and do we even have time....the list goes on), so I am going to attempt to jot things down here as they are decided or being considered, so they are all in one place.
We are flying out of Halifax at 8:35am on Christmas morning and are arriving in Orlando around supper time.  We have stop-overs in Boston and Cleveland.  I have a bag of goodies planned to get us through the day of flying and the lengthy stop-overs.
We are staying at a hotel off-site called Maingate West Comfort Suites.  I chose this locale because they have fridges and microwaves in every room by default (unlike other places that only have fridges and often for a fee).  They also offer a free shuttle to the parks at scheduled intervals throughout the day.  The final plus (that will only affect us to a limited degree) is the free hot breakfast me some make-your-own waffles.
We are staying for nine days.  Currently, I'm toying with whether to do exclusively Disney or to try to throw some other stuff in there to water down the Disnification and just for the opportunity to try something else.  There are pros and cons for both plans.  The jury is still out.  The decision has been made though that we will have at least one day of rest in the middle of the vacation.  On this day, I see us sleeping in (in-so-far as a 5- and nearly-3-year old will), lounging by the pool and in the games room at the resort and hitting the outlet mall up the road from our hotel.
To Do:
  • Buy park tickets
  • Book rental car (maybe)
  • Speak to Special Diets at WDW about Orin's dietary needs
  • Make dinner reservations (June 28th)
  • Book shuttle from airport (if no rental car)
  • Buy kids backpacks from LL Bean
  • Buy a second backpack water reservoir
  • Buy Child ID/Allergy Alert temp tattoos for the kids
The Little Things
I love making stuff.  I love doing stuff that makes my loved ones feel special and smile.  This is what fuels my cake-making.  This is what fuels my creativity in general.  For these reasons, I started thinking right away about what sorts of crafty stuff I could put together to really personalize this trip for us.  Here's what I've come up with so far (this part has been assisted IMMENSELY by the existence of Pinterest....I would never remember all of the cool stuff I found if it weren't so easy to just Pin it to my boards).
  • Autograph books-inspired initially by this, but it has gone beyond the initial design now...wait until you see
  • Travel Day shirts-like this, with "First Family Disney Trip in Disney font around Mickey's silhouette
  • Team t-shirts-using this concept; the kids will be asked to draw a pic of their favourite Disney character.  This will be put on the front of the shirt and "Team Ourlastname" will be on the back....if I can think of something cute to put on Isabel's, I will put "waterboy" on the sleeve of Orin's because it is hilarious *lol*)
I have a couple of more things on the docket, but I am not going to let all my secrets out at once.

Working in Christmas
So this trip will be our Christmas gift to us and the kids.  That said, they are little and, Isabel at least, maybe disappointed to not have anything to unwrap.  I am going to fix this by using  a gift to announce the trip to the kiddies and by wrapping and giving the crafts (and some other nifty little things) over the course of the travel day. 
  • The announcement will come Christmas Eve, I believe. The plan, at this point, has a large box showing up and being discovered by the kids. I am not going to reveal what will be in the'll have to wait for the video for that part ;)
  • While we are driving to the airport, I will give them each a gift that includes the travel day t-shirts, so we can change into them before we start flying.
  • There will be a gift from Santa waiting in our room for each of them (because obviously Santa and I would have been in cahoots with regard to the trip). This will have their autograph books, a small container of pennies for the presses and fountaines and some glowy Disney stuff (for parades and fireworks)
  • They will get the t-shirts with their own pictures on them the first morning we are heading to the parks so they can wear them then.
Any suggestions from the peanut gallery? Man I love this Alright, I am heading to bed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Murphy came by for a visit and behaved like the crotchety old fart that he is

Some of you may know how firmly I adhere to the belief that Murphy (of the Law of the same name) thinks we are BFFs and visits me far more frequently than others. I am sure that it sounds melodramatic to most and elicits a handful of eye-rolling. For all the cynics out there, try this one on for size.
Just before I was headed back to work from my maternity leave, just after Christmas 2010, I bought Orin a medical alert bracelet. I wanted to make sure that, since he was going to be out of my care at daycare and he was bipedally mobile, his medical needs were visible to anyone in an emergency situation.
It took about two weeks for the bracelet to arrive. It was a little big - I knew it would be - and we planned to remove a couple of links, replacing them as he grew. It spent a few weeks drifting around the kitchen - sometimes setting on the island, sometimes the lazy Susan and occasionally the window sill. In this time, my in-laws came to visit and my mother-in-law tidied up the kitchen. A couple of weeks later, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen the bracelet in quite a while. I chocked it up to being tidied someplace by mother-in-law and casually looked for it/kept an eye out for it for the next couple of weeks. It really did seem to be well-hidden, whereever it was.
Weeks turned into months and the bracelet was nowhere to be found. Dave was certain that it had ended up in the trash, since Orin had just come through a phase where he was quite proud of having learned to use the garbage can and put more than a handful of non-garbage items in the can. I was just disappointed, since it was $25 down the tubes AND we didn't have, what I considered to be, an important piece of our sense of security about Orin's condition and keeping him safe. That said, I just couldn't shake the feeling that it was still somewhere in the house.
Dave's persistence that it was gone finally wore me down last week - over a year after the bracelet disappeared. In preparation for a summer of fun and our upcoming trip to Disney World, I purchased not one, but two pieces of medical jewellery for Orin - another bracelet and a dog tag in case he has an aversion to the bracelet. As I hit the submit button on Friday night, I was hit by the feeling that now that I had placed the order, we would probably find the bracelet when we start moving things downstairs into the newly-finished basement over the next couple of months.
Fast forward to this morning, I am sweeping the living room. I move the recliner, the same way I do nearly every week, and find some toys and things under it, as usual. As I lean down to pick the items up, I realise that one of them isn't a toy, but a tiny medical alert bracelet. I immediately burst into a crazy, flailing fit that Dave likens to the typical reaction to being swarmed by wasps. I fly over to him, thrust the bracelet into his hand and hiss "less than 48 hours!!!!" It takes him about 30 seconds to catch up - "you placed the order already, didn't you?" and he starts laughing. He then exclaims, "insanity dance, justified", as he clues in to what my fit had been about.
I may have to tell Murphy that he is no longer welcome in my home - it works for vampires; it can't hurt to try it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm baaaaack!

Whoa Nelly! So much has happened since I blogged last, I don't think I remember it all, but I will do my best to give a recap: ~Isabel has lost two teeth...big fan of the tooth fairy (who became reacquainted with her sewing machine during a 4-hour marathon to make a tooth fairy pillow about two years earlier than she expected). ~Orin could give most public speakers a run for their money...little chatterbox that he is. ~As per his doctors, Orin is still doing smashingly well! ~We have lost one of our family members-Goliath, our oldest cat-very recently. :( ~We can see the finish-line in the effort to finish the basement and are expecting to put it to full use come the summer (if not earlier). ~Isabel has been registered and assessed for kindergarten (or her five-year-old-school, as she likes to call it). ~We got rid of cable television and use a Boxee box for our television has revolutionized our lives. ~I've gotten into cake baking and decorating - haven't done a ton since Christmas, but Orin's birthday cake caused a bit of a stir. ~I am back at school, taking a diploma program in Autism Intervention - I am finding it fascinating and so incredibly valuable. ~My face is slowly coming around after my surgery in July and the lengthy recovery period that follows. I expect to get the braces off in the summer. ~Dave continues to fly model airplanes and amaze me with his ability to create solutions to problems that, at times, I didn't even know we had. ~I've joined a Zumba class and have a fantastic time at every session. ~Isabel continues with her dance classes - she is now doing tap and jazz. I very much look forward to the dance show in May. ~We discovered that Isabel loves roller coasters and that Orin is a little daredevil after a trip to Crystal Palace. ~Orin has developed a love of robots and trains. ~Isabel, when asked by her teachers what she wanted to be when she grew up, revealed that she aspires to be a Princess Firefighter Mom Teacher. ~Orin is potty training. ~Isabel is learning to read. ~I've begun reading again - oh, how I've missed reading for fun. PS: e-readers are awesome! ~Most recently, the excitement has been the trip to Disney World we are planning for this Christmas. It will be a surprise for the kids, so *shhhhhhhhh*. I have been having *the best* time planning how we will surprise them, all the fun stuff we will do and all of the wonderful crafty endeavours that will accompany the trip (I am making some personalized t-shirts, the kids' autograph books, pj pants and a few other things). I've also been stealthily prepping/testing things out on them via YouTube and the WDW sneaky! That is, most definitely, not a comprehensive list, but it gives you some idea as to what we've been up to. I think my next post will be a picture collage of the last few months, but it will have to wait until tomorrow because it is time for me to head to bed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Catalogue of Izzy #12

{Isabel comes over to speak to Mummy and Daddy, wearing a set of gold Mardi Gras-style beads}
Isabel: "I'm going to wear this and be the mother. I'm going to take the babies and put them in line for the doctor."
Mummy: "What happens then?"
Isabel: "If something happens, you don't say nothing." {Isabel scampers off to play.}
Mummy to Daddy: "We need to get better insurance. This hospital is ske-tchy."
Daddy: "Hi Everybody!"

Now, she's treating Orin's apparent broken foot with a princess sticker and dog food. o_O

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Project 365 - June & July

Yeah, that's right. You are going to get two months worth of pictures in one shot. The good news is, I will just link them from FB so that you don't have to wait for oodles of pictures to load.

Summer time!

That is our entire summer album to date. Feel free to check in again over the course of the summer. There will be additions. :)

I won't leave you with only an album. I have been doing little photo documentaries as well that I will share with you.

The first one is: NDI @ 18-months. This is what NDI looks like for us right now. I just took pics of some fun stuff that I thought might give non-NDIers a glimpse inside.

Sleeping boy with a death grip on two of his four bedtime water bottles.

We need a Head Bottle Washer.

Diaper sale....NDI-style!

Nothing like a diaper pail right next to your bed and in both upstairs bathrooms and in Orin's room...yikes.

Two days worth of Orin's laundry. Mostly bedding and pjs because, before his med change, I was changing his bed 3 times per night.

When it wasn't a gazillion degrees, I had 2-3 pair of jammies hanging on my headboard at any one time because he needed to be changed so many times through the night.

Also, because I am going for my surgery soon, I felt it was in my/Orin's best interest to get his room set up and move him in. Here's the end result:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I haven't fogotten about you...I promise

Though I can see how you might think that. I just had to put others before me for a while since I will be basically useless for a month soon. You are now wondering "Why is she being so damn cryptic? Spit it out woman!!" Well, I am having a pretty major surgery on July 29th.

The month of June was spent much like this:

While you may THINK this is a group of women sprinting, it is, in fact a group of teachers just trying to get everything required of them during the final month of school completed.

July has been spent mostly getting the house up to snuff (it tends to lag in cleanliness and tidiness throughout the school year because I'd rather spend my free time with my family) and spending time with the kiddos :) I've also been trying to get things in place for when I go for my surgery. I would like to leave everyone as well off as possible so that the kids, husband and family coming to assist them (to whom I am immensely grateful) have a smooth transition and little disruption. This may be wishful thinking.

I will post pics of what we've been up to next, but in the meantime, here's the link to my surgery journal blog