Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another day, another year...

(No, you don't get to see my baby baby picture because my scanner is permanently broken...but I do like this picture of me at 2 years old :).)

Sooo…today is my birthday. 27 years ago today at approximately 8:11 a.m. I first breathed the air of this world on my own. Or the stork dropped me off. Or I got picked out of the cabbage patch. Or something. I am an aquarius (both sun/star sign and ascendant...and since your ascendant is supposedly about the face that you present to others, I guess astrologers might say that with me what you see is who I am...but what do they know) and a monkey (you knew it all along, didn't you?). I am also cold...I think I'm going to go make myself some hot chocolate now.

What has happened in the past year of my life? Let’s see…I finally graduated from
York University with my Honours B.Sc. with a major in chemistry and a minor in physics. I nervously applied to three different teacher’s colleges and was accepted by two; I started my B.Ed. at York in August. I failed 2 road tests and passed 1, gaining my G2 and the freedom of being able to drive myself pretty much anywhere pretty much any time I wanted. I got my first job that didn’t result from any networking (and my first job that I remained at for less than a year, but I knew going into it that I only wanted it for the summer). I tried to become a runner; that didn’t work out so well. I saw my first Toronto Rock game. The first anniversary of my husband’s radiation treatment came and went without incident. I borrowed money for the first time ever for school (though through the government’s Lifelong Learning Plan, not OSAP, since OSAP turned me down again this year). I learned a little bit about how to belly dance. I celebrated my 6th wedding anniversary with the love of my life. I attended meetings, classes, and conferences. I taught Sunday school classes. I ate, breathed, showered, played Scrabble and World of Warcraft and did laundry. I ate chocolate. I joined Facebook. I started on the path of the professional that will hopefully see me teaching my own classes next fall. Phew!

One of the things that has come to mind at times in this year's studies is how privileged I have been throughout my life. I really have not had many struggles or severe ones that have stood in the way of my achieving my life goals. I have been privileged with a loving and believing home to grow up in, great teachers, an educational system that met my needs, volunteer and paid experiences that taught me much and prepared me for later experiences in life, a husband who loves me dearly, enough money from my summer jobs (or, for my current year, through Martin) to put me through school without resorting to working during the school year, the societal "white privilege" I and my fellow teacher candidates learned about in our Foundations class last year (besides the privileges that come with being in the socioeconomic class I am), somehow missing out completely on any false impressions that girls can't succeed in the sciences, somehow managing to continually impress people who interview me for things like jobs and teacher's colleges even though I really don't see anything extraordinary about myself, and I'm sure there are many other factors that I have forgotten to mention. I have led a blessed life. There have been times this year (if not before) when I have asked myself if teaching really is what I want to do. I have been reassured that every teacher asks himself or herself that, especially at particular times of the year. I have been reassured that there are times when I am absolutely sure that this is what I want to do. I also try to keep in mind that as far as I can tell, God has pretty much paved me a smooth path leading right up to this time and place in my life; I really don't have any feeling that I am anywhere other than where I am supposed to be in terms of what I am doing with my life (as much as I know I am far from perfect in other areas--my character, my interactions with others, my spiritual life, my fashion sense--but that is a separate issue). Life has not been without its struggles (my husband having a brain injury in 2004 being only one of them, but the most pronounced). However, it is nice on my birthday to have some sense of contentment in the midst of the stress. To borrow a phrase from my high school vocabulary, "life is good," and it is reassuring at this junction in my life that I can feel that way. One day, the career and the house and the kids and the retirement plan will come. For now, I will be happy to be on the road that will eventually lead there.

Alright, seriously, I'm needing some hot chocolate, or maybe I'll try that decaffeinated Earl Grey tea I bought a couple shopping trips ago. I'm going to enjoy some World of Warcraft on my birthday and then I think I will actually try to get something productive done before suppertime so I can go out tonight a little more guilt-free (but we'll see how the gaming goes first ;)) :). Maybe I will also review my notes from this morning's fun workshop on fun demos that can be used to teach physics and see if I can make myself any more educational toys other than the 2 coat hanger things I came home with (my fellow MSTers will know what I'm talking about). I've never actually flown a kite on my chilly winter birthday before; perhaps the napkin kite will be my next project (the demonstrater said his took him 4.5 minutes to make, after all).

Happy end of January, everyone! Summer is a-comin'...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

6 years of bliss :)

Okay, pardon the horrible lighting in the photo, but you get the idea. As of today, Martin and I have been married 6 years! Many of you know that we also dated for 5 years before we got married, so that makes 11 years together, yikes! Yes, life with Martin is still good; I am a lucky girl to have this person in my life who looks after me in so many ways and puts up with me in so many others. The traditional 6th anniversary gift suggestion listed on all the tables I've seen is "Candy/Iron." If you are my friend (or recognize a Godiva box in a photo when you see one), you don't have to guess which side of the equation was exactly suited to my interests :). There are 3 sprigs of blue & purple orchids in there along with 6 roses (one for each year) that were much longer before I cut them down to put in the vase. As for what I got Martin, I went with the contemporary 6th anniversary gift suggestion of "wood"; I used the TreeGivers organization to arrange for a tree to be planted in our honour somewhere in Ontario. Good for the environment and a clutter-free gift Martin would appreciate to boot.

I am off to an education conference today (runs 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.), and then I think Martin and I need to go on a date or something. Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, January 26, 2007

You know you're from Scarborough when...

Having just discovered that Arlene has a blog, I am going to shamelessly steal this from her ;) (it's on her "randomness" page).



You're familiar with neighbourhood names like: Agincourt, Malvern, West Hill, Warden Woods, Cedarbrae, Tuxedo Court, Bay Mills, and Wexford.

You lock your car doors when you drive, and only roll the window down if the tempature is over 30 and you absolutely have to.

You perk up every time SCARBOROUGH is mentioned on the news but it's usually related to some crime story (i.e. murder, robbery, drive-by-shooting/stabbing

You know what the "SRT" is.

You often hear music (or just bass) coming from someone else's car across the street when you are stopped at a traffic light.

LADIES: A guy has tried to "pick you up" at the bus stop, ON the bus or the RT train, at Kennedy Station, Scarborough Town Centre or even while you're in your car stopped at a traffic light.

GUYS: You have, or you know of a guy who has tried to pick up girls at the bus stop, on the bus or the RT train, at Kennedy Station, Scarborough Town Center or even while a girl is in her car stopped at a traffic light.


No one speaks English on the bus.

You consider anything north of Steeles Avenue as "BUSH".

You consider anything east of the Rouge River as "BUSH".

You've learned how annyoing police helicopters are, even though they're there to help you.

You don't mess with kids who go to Lam, Leacock, Eaton, Bethune or Porter.

You're probably been covered in the Scarborough Mirror for something.
You love to mention other parts of Toronto (i.e. Jane-Finch, Regent Park, Flemingdon Park, Parkdale, Rexdale, Weston, St. Jamestown, etc.) and talk about how they have a higher crime rate than SCARBOROUGH.

You are familiar with these streets: Vic Park, Markham Road, Kingston Road, McCowan Road, Warden Avenue, Morningside Ave, Kennedy Road, Pharmacy Ave.

You LOVE to shop at the "Dollar Stores" scattered throughout SCARBOROUGH.

There is an Ontario Housing complex in your neighborhood.

There is a Chinese restaurant or a Roti shop in your neighbourhood.

Scarborough Town Centre was "the place" to hang-out when your were a teenager.

Stitches is the hot spot for teen girls to shop!

You hate it when NON-Scarborough people refer to it as the ghetto.

You know the Scarborough Bluffs are there, but never bothered to go see it.

You sadly realize our proudest accomplishment besides supplying 50% of the T Dot's crime rate, is the Barenaked Ladies.

North York pisses you off.

Mississauga pisses you off.

NON-MALVERN PEOPLE: You refer to Malvern as the East Scarlem ghetto.

MALVERN PEOPLE: You are PROUD of Malvern but still refer to it as the East Scarlem ghetto.

Your bike has been stolen at least once.

Your car has been stolen at least once, or you know someone who's car has been stolen.

You refer to Agincourt as "Asian-court"

There are more Guyanese people here than in Georgetown, Guyana.

You are able to distinguish the ethnicity of a driver just by looking at his/her car (i.e. If you see a car with Hello Kitty or other stuffed animals in it, then you know its probably someone of Hong Kong descent OR if you see a car with tinted windows, gold or chrome fender trims, and a crown air-freshener, then you know its probably someone from the Caribbean) and you sure as hell know that when you see a "sooped" up 1993 honda civic hatchback there is either an italian or a greek or a tamil drivin!

You HATE Mel Lastman because you think he ignores Scarborough, BUT you still voted for him.

Even though you only live about 15 KM from Downtown Toronto, it still takes you an hour or more by TTC and at least a half hour by car to get there. Not to mention rush hour.

People involuntarily back away when you say you're from SCARBOROUGH.

The TTC buses run EXTRA SLOW here.

You're proud that Scarborough is more diverse than most small countries.

You say you're a PROUD CITIZEN OF SCARBOROUGH, but deep down inside you kinda wish to move out to Markham, Richmond Hill or Pickering.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My fundamental problem

I think I know what my fundamental problem is: much of the time, I am lazy. Even the best organizational system in the world is not the cure for laziness (though the better the system, the better I can take advantage of my non-lazy moments), so I have to figure out a new tactic. See, if I'm lazy, I may have a great to-do list (or, in GTD terms, an amazing Next Actions list), but if I'm not tending to those items on a regular basis rather than playing video games, I will still run into the problem that the day before something is due I'll suddenly have to hit panic mode and stay up until the wee hours of the morning trying to get done things that should have been done ages ago. This time of year I always find particularly bad in terms of flagging motivation; I don't know if it's whatever you call a mild version of SAD (since I'm sure Mira would tell me SAD is a clinical disorder that seriously interferes with one's life, not just mild winter blues) or feeling a little burned out from the pressures of the school year I've had to face to this point or what, I just know I'm not where I need to be. I do know that when I do get myself moving around, regardless of the time of year, my energy level goes up. As I start to get things accomplished, I get the energy to accomplish more (provided it's not in the wee hours of the morning already). It all comes down to that starting moment, that first firm decision (as in something I make and follow up on, not make and then say, "but later") to fight against procrastination.

You know, when I started writing this blog entry, I was going to ask you what you do to fight against your own laziness/procrastination/lack of motivation, but I can see now that I know what the answer is for me. I am going to keep having fun for, oh, another hour or so (unless I get bored of WoW before the hour or so is up...thankfully I've learned how to get the timer function working in WoW again that will count down from a time I set and alert me when my self-imposed time is up), and then I'm going to sit down and do some GTD stuff to get an idea of what all I have to work on. Then I will do at least 3 things that are on my list; maybe 2 or 3 simple things and something requiring a bit more time (perhaps a reading or marking some lab reports). However, if you do have tips for beating procrastination, I'd love to hear them; perhaps my other readers can gain some insight from them, too.

By the way, Martin and I will be celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary this Saturday, hooray! I am attending an education conference in the daytime (partly for my own professional growth, but admittedly partly to give my résumé some more "oomph"), but hubby and I will be sure to do something to celebrate after I get home. We'll definitely do dinner. I'm thinking we may see a movie, too. Has anyone seen "Freedom Writers"? I've read good things about it, and it is about a teacher making a difference...or is that too career-related for a date movie ;)?

Alright, less blogging and more WoW-playing until it's time to start GTD. Later...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Getting in sync

This is a test, this is only a test...I'm making a new post on my blog at . With the way my Facebook settings are set up, this should get imported by Facebook and become a note on my profile. Let's see if this works...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Post 111!

I'm back at Agincourt today. I'm switching host teachers, too. So far, I've been working with grade 11 physics and grade 12 chemistry classes, both at the "university preparation" level (so it's the 11U and 12U classes I've been working with). The teacher I'll be working with today (for the sake of those who went to Agincourt: it's Mr. Frank Behrend, though I don't know how long he's been at Agincourt) does have some 11U chemistry classes, but according to one of my previous host teachers he wants to hang onto those. I will be working with only his grade 9 and 10 classes, at least at first. There are 3 sections of the grade 10s. They are all at the "applied" level, which was called the "general" level when I was in high school (as opposed to what was then called "advanced" and is now called "academic"). Ok, so 3 sections of 10P science. I'll also have one section that is made up of grade 9 and grade 10 students and is an "open" course at the "essential" level. "Open" means the curriculum is not one that is government-designed...depending on the course, it may be designed by the school board or the school or a group of schools. "Essential" means, well, they aren't even at the "applied" level. When I observed a class that combined both essential and applied students at Woburn last year, it became clear that the essential students, at least (if not some of the applied students as well) don't just need instruction in the subject matter...they need instruction in how to come to class prepared (not forgetting your binder, textbook, pencil, paper, etc. in your locker) and so on. I hope I'm not sounding negative towards the students; I'm just trying to describe the reality that I will probably face with these students.

Overall, this is going to give me a lot of good experience. When I was working with the 11U and 12U classes, I was working with students who had chosen to be in those classes. See, diploma guidelines require the students to complete the grade 9 and grade 10 science courses, plus either one senior science (giving them lots of choices, since at these levels they can choose chemistry or physics or biology or earth and space science or even, at some schools, to continue with generic "science" courses that aren't divided up by discipline) or a tech course (i.e., auto shop or some such thing) at any grade level. This means that when I work with the grade 9 and 10 students from this point on, I'll be working with students who don't necessarily want to be in that class. This will give me more experience learning to engage the students in the material, and probably with "classroom management" (what one author calls "getting the buggers to behave") as well.

I know this is good for me. I know it will be great preparation for my career and will look good on a résumé as well. I know they're just individual human beings whom I should not view with labels over their heads like "essential," "applied," "brat," etc. I know some of them will make me very proud and love teaching. That doesn't mean I'm not scared :).

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bye-bye tags

I'm getting rid of the element that used to be part of this blog that would show what categories I'd tagged all my entries with. I'm not used to tagging entries and keep forgetting to tag them, and then I had a million tags when I did because I talk about a lot of different things, so I've decided to just nix them. Hope you're not too disappointed.

Hooray for the weekend!

The government does *not* need your financial info by e-mail.

From one of my online friends: "This scam is very believeable, but it's fraud so don't fall for it. Read the info at the Canadian Government website:"

Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's coming.

Yep, that's right, my b-day is coming up. I'm not going to make a big deal of it this time around (like I ever do) because between family gatherings for it and homework I'm going to be pretty busy. The weekend before it is tied up already anyway (conference Jan. 27 followed by celebrating anniversary with husband) so I'll have to reserve the weekend after for family and for doing an assignment that is due the Monday after that weekend. However, if anyone would like to go to Dairy Queen or otherwise go out for dessert on the day itself (Wed., Jan. 31), let me know. No pressure whatsoever, however.

I said I wouldn't...but I did.

- I bought, read and am in the process of implementing the system outlined in Getting Things Done by David Allen.
- I joined Facebook. If you are on Facebook, look me up and add me to your friends so I don't look like a loser with no friends. If you're not on Facebook, join and look me up and add me to your friends anyway ;).

I'm back at practicum today...and I have to leave soon, so bye!

Friday, January 5, 2007

If only math were really that easy.

Getting stuff done

Favourite spam e-mail subject line from yesterday's spam: "miffed drinking fountain". Oh noes! Beware, the drinking fountain is miffed!

This morning I decided on sitting down at my computer to deal with 5 things from my e-mail inboxes. So far, I have:
- e-mailed our church secretary to confirm that I'll do the prayer for the bread this coming Sunday
- ordered a plastic canvas pattern for my mom that she wants
- updated a piece of Palm software (Bonsai) I want to start using again to organize the to-do lists that overwhelm me (let's just say I had another one of those nights last night where I found it very hard to get to sleep with all that was swimming through my head)
- ordered QuickTax and Norton AntiVirus 2007 using special offer codes that supposedly give me discounts and such (I order these through the website every year)

Not sure what the 5th thing is going to be yet; I have to go back to my e-mail after I finish doing the Palm software update (i.e., actually dig out my Palm from my purse and sync it up--going to do that after I finish typing this). I also wanted to listen to "Come, Now is the Time to Worship," but didn't like a bunch of stuff on the CD that I have that on, so I imported that and some stuff from some other praise CDs into ITunes, made a Praise playlist and then set up a Party Shuffle using that playlist as a source. Wouldn't you know, "Come, Now is the Time to Worship" was the first song that popped up in that Party Shuffle, with no need for interference on my part, the next song was another that I wanted to listen to but didn't bother to see if it was on the CDs I imported ("We Will Dance," which the Egginton sisters sang at my wedding), and the next was another that I wanted to listen to ("Light the Fire Again"--that's what's playing now). I'll put these all on my iPod later.

Yeah, like I said, I had a pretty hard time sleeping last night with a lot of things I wanted to do running through my head. I should know that trying to organize one's life solely by lying there thinking about it and not writing anything down is a bad idea, since it doesn't actually get the clutter out of your head, but I did it anyway. Thought about getting up to get my Palm and use the aforementioned Bonsai program but didn't actually do it. In my overwhelmedness though I did come up with a prayer for the bread for communion this Sunday and wrote it down so it wasn't totally a lost cause :). And God did touch my overwhelmedness when I let Him. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed and very stressed out very easily, and I always have. I'm trying to find ways to deal with it, but I think it will be one of those things that will bother me for the rest of my life and I'll just have to recognize it for what it is and put my coping strategies into place when I do recognize it cropping up again (and hopefully put some preventative strategies into effect as well so that paralyzing overwhelmedness doesn't crop up as much, as often or as powerfully, too). First, though, I have to develop some new coping (and then preventative) strategies. I am almost tempted to check out a book I've heard a little about called Getting Things Done, but really I know that is like, in Flylady's words, looking for a magic pill that will instantly make all my problems go away. It's not like I haven't read books and otherwise researched organization methods before. I know I probably already have all the tools in my head I need to tackle this stress problem I have; I just have to take the time and intentionality to experiment and find what works for me. Heck, it's probably just a matter of doing something consistently, rather than off and on now and then. Anyway, I have some ideas I'm going to start with, pulled from various systems and various thoughts I've had off and on. I'll let ya know how it goes.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year!

Last night my mother-in-law and I were both home with no plans for New Year's other than keeping ourselves entertained, so we rented 3 videos and watched them back to back. She provided dinner and popcorn and drinks, I provided chocolate, and the videos took us until 11:56 p.m. to watch. Then we channel-surfed the various New Year's celebrations being broadcast on the TV. After that, I think she pretty much went to bed, though I did hear her walking around now and then upstairs after that; I stayed up for a bit to see some virtual fireworks go off in WoW and then to read my book for a while. I went to bed about 3:30 a.m. but one of the cats was yowling loudly on and off for a while thereafter so I'm not sure when I went to sleep. Anyway, I was feeling a lot better already while watching videos last night, though my nose was still stuffy when I went to bed; feeling a little better this morning, too (the strange sleep pattern and lack of a full night's rest might have set me back a little, but not too much). I think I'm close to kicking this cold, which is nice. Today I'll be off to see my parents and brother and sister-in-law and nieces and nephews for my family's "Christmas"; apparently at least some of my nieces and nephews are still sleeping and Martin hasn't yet returned from Amy and Irek's so my mom has decided to move our dinner up to 4 p.m. (it was originally going to be a late lunch kind of deal but looks like we'll eat our own lunches now and get together for dinner instead). Ah, more rest, hooray! I hope you all had good celebrations and/or good rest last night and that the new year will bring much you much joy. Hopefully this will be the year in which I become gainfully employed, as scary as that is...

Happy New Year, everyone!