Sunday, April 2, 2017

What you need and what you want

 I've been going through a time in my life that I haven't had in a while.

After a semester of so much craziness: going back to work at a new school with new courses, kids at school and daycare, a lot of chaos and emotion through personal events... all of this made for an overwhelming few months! Now, I'm working part time, teaching two of the same course, which I taught last semester (same course twice? woohoo!) and the kids are still taken care of for most of the day. I have the increased ability to be involved with my son's kindergarten class, have more time for my course development, and time for house things as well.

One of the goals that I have for this time is to organize our home to help it function better. I've been waiting for a time like this, where I could have a number of hours with no one around (especially the kids) to focus on what this looks like. Some key concepts: only have the things we need and the things we really want, and establish long term homes for things so that we know where to find things and where to return them. These concepts and the help of a friend's services have empowered me to pick areas, flush them out, get rid of a LOT of stuff (feels so good!) and then effectively house the things that we're keeping.

I'm already feeling the good effects of the places we've changed. We have a credenza next to our dining room table that was full to the brim, all surfaces occupied with stuff. Now, all of the superfluous items have been sorted and mostly donated or disposed of, and the new organization is totally working well for kids crafts and things are easily cleaned away. We have a recessed shelving area at the top of our stairs that just became a massive dumping ground for all sorts of things. I took a couple of hours while the kids were playing, emptied it out, sorted things, put some things away where they belonged and then re-purposed the space. Now, instead of being a home for clutter, we have a home for our calendar, little notes and keys, as well as a receiving area for mail and a place to hang backpacks. I'm sure I'm not the only one who get ridiculously excited about this kind of change.

Next up on my list: my desk (full of office supplies from 10 years ago), our mass accumulation of tech related items (wires, adapters, etc), and hopefully more of the garage.

Finally, considering my last post was in 2015 and I was just starting the boys lap blankets, I thought I'd post a picture of the finished project. Given to them Christmas of that year, and still enjoyed by them today, especially in the car on cold mornings.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Done! And just getting started

Blanket finished!! How satisfying it is to finish something, especially when there wasn't much left to do. It makes me wonder if that's why I put projects aside when I'm so close to being done. Actually, in some ways I think I'm hesitant to finish because I'm unsure if I'll like the result. Regardless, when I do finally finish I'm usually smitten with the final product and it is very satisfying for the final push to go so quickly!

On that note, I've been trying to be a little more impulsive in my crafting. I have been an over-thinker and a perfectionist, and crafting is a great way to practice doing things with less plan and more "let's just see what happens". On the other side of that, I've been enjoying letting things simmer in my mind passively and letting creative thoughts come. It's definitely a low pressure way of doing things, and that's good because with the amount of sleep I've been getting and the pace of chasing after two kids, I can't always string two thoughts together!

I always feel like hobbies should be low stress, otherwise, why do them? Perhaps that's part of the reason why I put projects aside sometimes. I come to some sort of fork in the road, a design dilemma, and instead of dealing with it, I leave it alone for a while (*ahem* years). Funny thing is, once I pick it back up, whatever was bothering me doesn't seem to be an issue anymore. For this blanket, I remember the "issue" was the binding, and how working with such thick fabric (flannel) was starting to annoy me. I guess I just felt done! Well, I have to say, I really enjoyed finishing this project. I machine stitched the one side of the binding, and then hand stitched the other edge so that the stitching was invisible.

It's a good thing I'm feeling favorable towards flannel, because my next project involves lots of it. In my last post, I shared a picture of these cute panels I bought on clearance at Fabricland. Well, I went to another fabric store and bought 2m each of bright blue and hot green flannel fabric to act as backing and binding. I'm planning on alternating the colours for each blanket and possibly doing an applique of the first letter of my sons' names on the back of each. Flannel top, flannel backing, and flannel binding. We'll see how far I get with this before I put it aside! Since there's no piecing to putting this together, my next dilemma is how to execute the quilting. Part of me, let's call her a sucker for punishment, is considering hand quilting to outline the features of the top panel. I would maybe consider that if there were only one, but there are TWO blankets to construct, and I would not put in that amount of work twice! I'll probably cut out the backing and sandwich it together and then let my mind mull on it a bit.

Last, but not least, I impulsively bought a ziplock bag of scrap fabric off of a lady who chops handwoven wraps (of the baby wearing variety) and (I'm guessing) turns them into things for the owners... possibly more structured carriers? I don't know, I didn't ask. Anyways, they really are a rag tag bunch of scraps, all shapes and sizes. I brought the bag with me to knitting the other night and my friend Michelle (of mprsdrose) helped me go through it and rip out any hems to maximize the amount of fabric. It feels soooooo nice on the fingers, handwoven. The baggie had some larger pieces of black and some gray. I'm thinking I could make some stuffed animals or something. The gals at knitting gave me some good ideas to mull over.

Btw, since picking up this blog again, I've decided not to stress over how my pictures look. I simply do not have the time to get beautiful pictures, so I'm letting go and just snapping for the sake of documenting and moving on. Life is too short!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Back in the Saddle

Well over a year since I've posted in this blog, and I'm totally alright with that! I'm not even going to summarize all of the things that have happened in that time, except to say that our family has a new member: little R born in the summer of 2014. He's now 9 months old and about as mobile as a baby can get without independently walking. He's crawling, standing, squatting, and cruising using furniture and even moldings on the walls! Today, both hubby and I noticed him standing independently for a few seconds at a time.

I made the decision, when I started this blog, not to share face pictures of my kids. I feel sometimes that it limits my ability to add visual interest to my posts, especially because they're so darn cute! I like to limit their online profile and let them dictate that for themselves when they're older.

Instead, you'll get cute pictures of them in action from behind, and pictures of my crafting. Speaking of crafting, I recently picked up two panels from the clearance section of Fabricland. They were the last two, and the surprise was I thought there was only one! Such a great surprise at the til, since I've got two boys. I've decided to make them each a lap blanket, for snuggling on the couch when they feel sleepy or sick, or for long car rides. They'll be identical, except for the backing and binding. I bought some bright green and saturated blue flannels (not as good a deal, unfortunately, but what can you do?) and I'm going to alternate them for the backing and the binding for contrast and to distinguish them. I'm even thinking of doing an applique of the first letter of their names on the back of each quilt. Should be fun! (famous last words... I'm sure I'll be swearing during the applique process).

Artsy picture from two years ago

While looking for appropriate fabric in my stash (I didn't find any), I came across a blanket of sorts that I started for Z during that year off. It's made from flannel receiving blankets that I got as a shower gift which were never really a good size to use as receiving blankets. So, I did what anyone would do, I hummed and ha-ed for an eternity and then cut them into strips and turned them into a blanket. Except, I made it a bit interesting (challenging) for myself by placing the strips slightly off kilter. I did this to maximize the size of the blanket (it's still quite small... maybe closest to a crib blanket).

The back
The front (standard bad cell phone pics)
Only a little bit left to go!

I think I originally thought Z could use it as a daycare blanket, but in true ME style, I got about 85% done and then put it aside because I was tired of it. That is so typical me when it comes to craft projects. I don't know what it is about the finish line, but I seem to like to avoid it, only to rush towards it with renewed vigor when I pick the project up again years later. Regardless, I was pretty happy to come across it and realize that I only had the two shorter sides of binding left to do, one of which was already machine sewn on one side and pinned and ready for hand stitching on the other. Woohoo!

Anyways, I finished the hand stitching on the pinned binding the other night while watching a Miss Marple murder mystery that I had PVRed. I already have the remaining piece of binding (I did each side as a separate piece), so I just need to machine stitch that and then watch another movie and it'll be done and all ready for R to enjoy!! Good thing I found it when I did, otherwise it would have had to be a baby shower gift for someone else (which would have been nice as well).

ETA: Just found my post about starting the above project... July 2012!!!! So, there you go... 2.5 years later and finally finishing it!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Science and Scientists

I've had a lot of thoughts swirling around in my brain that I've been tempted to share here, though I've hesitated for many reasons. Timing, fear of sticking my neck out too far or perhaps standing on my soapbox to a crowd of none, these have held me back. But, right now I'm sitting in a Biology 12 class I'm covering for a friend, the students are working away in groups, and I find my brain resting on the topic of science.

Oh, science... I love science. I have a chemistry and math degree, and I have always loved science. I remember thinking throughout school that scientists were pretty cool. And, of course, my idea of a career in science involved visions of tromping around in nature checking out ecosystems and newts, or perhaps wearing a lab coat and developing a new form of energy, or maybe being an astronaut out in space. So, while I'm thinking these thoughts, blissed out on the fun of learning science for the heck of it, I think about articles I've read lately (and some from a few years back). Articles talking about Federal cuts resulting in loss of jobs for scientists, and muzzling of scientists. Locally, we had the recent closure of The Centre of the Universe, which has done science outreach to local schools for years, but, you know, hasn't been making any money.

I remember reading somewhere that the Harper government was only interested in supporting science that resulted in economic growth. Not sure if I can find the article, but I remember thinking, boy, that's short sighted. How often have I read or heard of scientific discoveries that came about from mucking around, or trying things for the heck of it. Stumbling upon a realization through trial and error or taking a fresh look at the picture. Yes, technology is important and extremely useful, and progress in science can be directed to an extent through specific funding and support, but science for the sake of science is what really gets us somewhere.

So, while I sit here overseeing this Biology class, here's what I think: through all of these actions, we are telling kids in schools today something. We are telling them that instead of being led by their curiosity and passion, they need to be led by the economy. In essence, there are only certain fields of science that are lucrative, that are worth it, so those are the only ones you should learn. How messed up is that? Don't get me wrong, sooner or later you need to be able to sustain yourself as an individual and make a living, so to speak. Keeping sight of the economy and trends in job availability, etc, can be important. But, I also believe that if we value something, we will make it valuable. If we value science, truely, and the importance that it plays in our development as a society, and in our understanding and interaction with the world around us, then we won't just think about it as a lucrative tool.

I call bullshit, Harper. I hope to still pass my passion for science on to my students. Hopefully, there are still avenues for these passions to exist, other than teaching.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Time for a change?

I'm nearing 5 years in the teaching field, and this is how I'm feeling.

There are a number of things bringing me to feel this way:
  • My family. I love my son and my family time, and teaching can easily eat up all of your time, energy, and good graces.
  •  Lack of job security. Every year, usually twice a year (every semester), I pray and hope that I have a job. I pray and hope that I have a good job... one teaching just the right amount of classes (not just one class a day, and hopefully not four completely new preps). I scan the district site all the time catching the contract postings as they come up, and then sit by the phone when they close hoping to hear that I got one. How many more years am I going to go through this? Some stability would be really nice. Knowing what courses I'll be teaching with more notice than just a few days would be nice. Being able to prepare (without futility) ahead of time instead of going about it like a madman would be nice.
  •  Political climate. In my day-to-day interactions, I truly feel that the people around me value teachers and the job we do and see it as important and worth investing in. But, somehow that doesn't seem to trickle up to government. I don't feel valued by the government and I don't feel valued by my employer. I feel like I have to fight all the time to voice what we need and what our rights as workers and as professionals should be. I'm tired of fighting and it's only been five years. I also know myself well enough to know that I wouldn't be happy just laying down. Is there another option?
I love my job and it's challenges, but I sometimes wonder if I could find something that provided me with the same dynamism without so much cost. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. I feel so passionate about what I do, and I feel energized when I'm working with students. I feel like I'm in my place. All of this has made the cost worth it so far, but now I'm wondering how much longer I'm going to be paying. Am I a sucker for punishment? Am I not thinking outside the box of teaching in public education? Am I missing some other opportunity, some other vision?

Part of me feels that if I continue to press on, things will begin to fall into place. I do believe that will be the case eventually. Sooner or later I will get a continuing contract and sooner or later I will be senior enough to have some say in what I teach, and will teach courses that I have prepped already. I really am okay with working hard for something, with delaying my gratification because something is worth the investment. It's just that I'm beginning to question it all. If someone farther along than me could tell me that, yes, they had felt that way too, but then they pushed through and found a place to belong and settled and things worked out... I think I could focus on that light and get myself through this tunnel.

Any takers?

I've said it a few times to various friends. I just don't want to be having this same conversation with myself 5 years from now, or 10 years from now. Life is too short.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


There are days when I remind myself: this is what I'm here for, this is why I do it. I get to play with my son, have fun with him, be patient with him and instruct him (or at least try). I get to love him unconditionally and watch as he figures things out, gets excited by things and frustrated, I get to watch him be sneaky and hide around corners. This is why we had him... to be present with him and enjoy (or at least experience) the moments as they come.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm off on Spring Break. The combination of that and my daycare provider being sick has thrown upon me the opportunity to hang out more with my son. I was looking forward to that during my two weeks off anyways, though I must admit that I originally intended to send him to daycare for part of the first week so I could get some projects done. But, life throws little bumps, including, for him, a double ear infection. Poor little bean. He's definitely been wanting me more, so it's good that I haven't had to work. Today, we went to Canadian Tire to pick up a few things, and it basically turned into a session of follow the adventurous toddler around, and try not to lose the shorty. Honesty, my arms were so tired from carrying the not-so-light little guy, that I didn't really mind. We found a bin of inflated balls, and task transformed into chase-around-the-balls he kept dropping (he did most of the chasing). It wasn't that taxing... he was really just playing, and not running, and he was having so much fun. And in the process, his attention was fixed (so he wouldn't take off) and I was able to scope out most of the store! I managed to sneak the balls back to the bin before we left. We picked up one of these for Z. I think it'll be a great addition to our yard as the weather gets better.

The moments, they slip by one by one. I chose to be in them as often as I can, because I know they are precious. I'm really hoping I will remember them, because I don't always record them... choosing just to enjoy them instead. When he kisses us (or the phone, or his bear), when he dances a jig in one place to music, when he sports his playful "angry" face and I do it back and we touch foreheads. I just love him so much.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Coming out of hibernation

The sun is out, and I am on day one of a two weeks Spring Break. Hallelujah! Yesterday, some of the staff and I went out for lunch, and as a fellow teacher and I walked from the school to the pub (yes, a pub is the best place to go, because you're guaranteed NOT to run into any students, as long as they're diligently checking IDs) we both breathed a sigh of relief and instantly felt lighter at the thought of not teaching for two weeks straight. I took some marking home with me. I may or may not get to it... we'll see how the time goes. I'm not setting it up as an actual task on my to-do list because I don't want it hanging over my head. Marking is always hanging over your head when you're a teacher... it's like homework that never goes away.

Instead, I've made a little list of appointments and trips already planned (we're going to Vancouver for a friend's wedding - sans baby!), so I can see where my time lies (I think it's "lies" and not "lays" because "time" is not a direct object... please correct me if I'm wrong). As for the rest of my time, I have visions of spending extra time with my little one, organizing around the house, maybe some gardening, and hanging out with friends. Because one of our weekends will be spent away, I'm planning on leaving our other weekend free so that we can have some unadulterated family time. I'm really looking forward to having some playdates with friends and their kiddies. Having a little one means you can only plan so much for a day, and it's hard to fit it all in on a weekend when you're working the rest of the week and you need to get laundry, meal-planning, grocery shopping and general tidy-up to happen. I'm looking forward to not being so rushed for these next two weeks, and I'm planning on keeping that in mind as I set up my expectations.