Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love it or hate's here again. Valentine's Day! If you have read my previous Valentine's Day posts then you know that I am rather fond of this day of love (and not because I'm married or in a relationship). I've always enjoyed it and how it gives us all an excuse (and sometimes we do need one) to share/spread/profess our love/like/kindness to the people in our lives.

My daughter and I put together just over 30 Valentine's Day cards for her friends at school and at Sparks. It was a great activity for us to do together - being with each other, chatting with each other, and figuring out love together. And what a fun filled day she had at school with activities, snacks, playing, and distributing her cards (which had a rad pirate theme!). I came across her cards at Armelle Blog (for personal use only). We tucked in a couple of gold wrapped chocolate coins and a red foil wrapped heart as the treasure.

I did some silly little games (Mad Lips, yep lips for Valentine's Day & a left/right Valentine's Day store with prizes) with my with high school students yesterday and you know what? No one complained. And as much as they want to be adults they all still want to belong and be loved. I kind of wish (in a small way) that they could do Valentine's cards for everyone in their classes until the day they graduate. And sure that wouldn't work for all kinds of reasons but I did challenge them all to go out into the halls and wish someone they didn't know a Happy Valentine's Day (maybe, another student who looked like they were having a bad day or are walking along without a crowd of friends).  I sure hope a few of them did. The more kindness I can infuse into their lives the better.

With all the prep for kindergarten and Sparks Valentine's cards, food for the K - class, games for my high school students and a few little surprises for my own sweethearts, I didn't end up sending out any homemade Valentine's cards like I have been doing for the last few years. So I've decided to send out some encouragement cards (which can go out any time of course). Oh Target Canada I am going to miss your dollar section and your great cards.

Speaking of rad cards I received a lovely one from my sweet husband. And melt my heart - he knows I love a gorgeous compass design and I'll take the "I'd be lost without you" sentiment any day of the week.  Our big plans for tonight are Vietnamese food (a first for us!) and renting a movie for when the kids are in bed.

And while love is generally what is on the agenda for today...I had a friend offer up a different word to me today and it meant just as much, "I really do trust you." Wow, what a beautiful thing to hear on Valentine's day (or any day) - means so much!

I hope that whatever your plans are today you know that you are loved and you are enough. My favourite piece of wisdom for the day is: When in doubt, be kind.

873/1000 - Okay, just three.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Happy 2015!

Hello friends, family, loyal readers and accidental readers!
Birthday Flowers!

During our last episode/instalment/post our lovely blog writer (that's me) was about to turn 40 and then, cliffhanger, dropped off the map for a season...time didn't stop, I didn't stay 39 (darn it didn't work) but seriously life happened (as it always does). 

Forty has been quite wonderful so far, if you happen to be 39, I highly recommend it. And since that fateful day, my days have been filled with work, family, friends, work, work, yes, getting back into the classroom was tougher than I had hoped. In some ways it felt like I had never left and in others, it felt like it was my first year (which was a good 15 years ago). The good news is that I feel like I've turned a corner!

Birthday Cake in Vegas!
 We had a wonderful Christmas. I challenged myself to spend zero dollars on Christmas this year and I managed to come in just under $40. (that's gifts, baking, decorations, and so on) - it was fun and busy. We sent out fewer Christmas cards this year than I had hoped (with my work, a girl in kindergarten and life...things were different). I've been craving those moments of quiet, when I can sit down and send a note to a friend, a thank you, and soon, some Valentine's Day cards. And I've been longing to get back on the blog. And looking at my numbers, I'm getting close to finishing my challenge of 1000 paper letters (notes, packages, surprises...)  and I'm excited about that milestone. 

Hearts are starting to pop up around here and I have my thinking cap on for Valentine's Day card ideas! It is one of my favourite days on the calendar (you probably know this by now). My daughter has already started hers (spoiler alert: they have a pirate theme).  I even have a few things planned  for my classes and creative writing club (even though I teach high school - sometimes, you have to let them be kids/be silly and definitely let them share in a Valentine's Day that doesn't have to be all about boyfriends/girlfriends).

A few ideas to get you started on getting some mail out (just in case you need any):

  • Go to a photo booth, get silly, and then send the photo strip to a friend and dare (or double dog dare) your friend to do the same
  • Blow up a balloon, write a message on it, deflate it and then send it to a friend
  • Send your favourite comfort food recipe for cold, wet, snowy or rainy days, or your favourite summer recipe to lend a little warmth to someone's day
  • Send recent photos of your family to someone you haven't seen for a while (for their fridge)
  • Send a formal invite for a coffee date just for fun
  • Stickers to a little friend (perhaps with a Valentine's Day theme before the big day)

Thank you for tuning in. I'll leave you with my numbers and this smiling boy!

Sweetest boy! Turning 3 soon!

811/1000 was my last count...and with Christmas cards, thank you cards, pen pal letters and more my new count is...

869 (that's an additional 58 and only 131 to go)/1000

Monday, November 3, 2014

On the Cusp

Tonight is the very last night of my 30s...tomorrow I turn the big 4-0...yep, it's true and I'm having a hard time believing it myself. I'm so thankful for those people who also share my disbelief that I could actually be starting my 5th decade (whoa, kind of don't like that 5 there just yet) - you make me smile with your, "No way that you are turning 40, I don't believe it." Aw shucks, go on...

The highlights of the last day of my daughter confided in me that she told her kindergarten teacher that she loved her (this fills me with joy), I had a wonderful dinner out with my parents (only child), husband and kids, and I've just spent the last half hour snuggling my two and a half year old to sleep. I wish I was this reflective at the end of every day...counting my blessings, thinking of my highlights and filling myself with love and hope in those last few moments before I am lost to sleep for the night.

If there is anything I take into my 40s it is the idea that I can truly make a difference in the lives of the people around me, near and far, friend and stranger...kindness seems to have taken hold of me and if I can lighten the load, offer a hand up, brighten a day, cause a smile then so be it (in a quiet way, always a quiet way as is my nature). I think it is a big reason I started this thousand paper letter challenge (that is nearly soon...aaaahhh...not ready for it to be over).

What a world we live in where we have the means and the opportunity to make a difference in so many ways.  My grade nine students are all writing encouragement/compliments to each other right now (yep, sharing the love wherever I can and guess what...we are going to put them into envelopes and "mail" them via our class mailbox - yep, that's just how I roll mail peeps). They've come up with some great ideas too. Someone once told me that if you give kids the chance to be amazing they will I'm doing my best to offer up those chances as I get back into the classroom.

I'd like to think that we all have the chance to be amazing. In fact, everyday we wake up with that chance. The chance to do right, to be kind, to hit it out of the park, to love all day long, to leave it better than we found it, and to make a difference. One of my vehicles for these ideas is handcrafted, old fashioned letters/notes/snail mail. It works for me. With the simple tools of paper and pen I can make a difference. Life is about finding your gifts and giving them away. Find your gifts and if you think you might have time to sit down and write someone a little uplifting it, it will feel good.

"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been."
Madeleine L'Engle

811/1000 - a wonderful 7 added to the count!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Perfect Timing

Where I live, students and teachers started the school year a little later than normal - for all kinds of reasons. So Friday, September 19th was actually my first day at my school and in my classroom (for this school year anyway). I have been home for five years with my babies (who are now 2 & 5 - so technically not babies) and I wasn't sure how it would first day back (albeit part-time). I walked in, dropped my bags and looked around. I think, I was a little stunned, not to mention nervous about what to do and where to start.

As I was contemplating my next move, my husband walked in (he's also my colleague) and said, "Did you get the postcard?" Of course you remember that I just said I was a little stunned right? So I look around cluelessly and I see this old milk ad postcard on the corner of "my new desk" and think, "Oh he must have found some of my old stuff in his classroom or something." It was a postcard I hand't seen for a long time. He encouraged me to turn it over and read what it said.

Doesn't look like much....
"Turn it over" he said.

To my surprise the card was dated August 2014 and from a former student (heart skips a beat here). In 2009, before I went on maternity leave, to have my sweet Piper girl, I handed out a postcard to each of my Creative Writing 12 students. I addressed it with my name and the school's address. I even put a "forever" stamp on it so it could be mailed anytime. I told them that if they had some good news they wanted to share with someone I would love to hear it. Lo and behold...someone did...five years later. I think I might have been smiling the whole time I read the card. This dear sweet writer allowed me to share in her post-secondary journey in search of her passion (which she found), her current creative outlet (drumming), and maybe her biggest news yet (getting married). 

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. A wonderful message from a wonderful person when I needed to hear it the most. Thank you Tavia. You certainly are one of the most humble, creative and amazing students I've ever had the chance to teach. And in case the rest of you are wondering...I wrote her back (she included her return address - yay!). Now I'm knee deep in marking and paperwork but I have this little light shining inside, just a little spark that reminds me of why I do what I do.

So hear/read my story and send a little spark out into the world! Share some good news, a thoughtful word or perhaps a little encouragement to a friend. I don't know anyone that has ever said, "Oh man, I hate getting nice cards/letters/notes/surprises in the mail." And in fact, maybe like this old, held onto postcard, you will send someone exactly what they need just when they need it.

804/1000 - pen pal mail, thank you cards, a random pirate package...4 more to the score!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Two Straight Lines

Summer is (more than) fading (it's over) and school is back in! And I'm more ways than one. Back on the blog, back in the classroom (part-time), and back to meal-planning, baking, letters/notes/packages...

My daughter completed the Summer Reading Program through our local library and loved it! During the last week of August we had a great book that inspired me a little and I was so happy to think that it might inspire others as well (kids and parents alike). These two pages are from a Madeline book about politeness and manners (excuse these not so great phone pictures).

We also checked out a Curious George Thank You book where he writes thank you cards to everyone, including the mail carrier! I knew I loved that little monkey for a reason! My darling girls is selling mint chocolate GG cookies so she has a number of thank you cards to write as well. And suddenly we are in a season of fundraising - for school and activities. Funny how all of a sudden we are in that realm (no doubt frozen baked good and chocolate covered almonds ahead). So many thanks to our neighbours, friends, family and strangers as you support us in this new era of (school-aged kid) life. We'll do our best not to hound you.

Adding 12 to the count - which brings me to an even 800! Wow, only 200 to go. It's pumpkin month - enjoy all things autumn!

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
~Anne of Green Gables

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Summer Days & Fall Nights

     Oh Summer how I love thee! Your long days filled with family and friends, sunshine, camping, swimming, cold drinks, roasted marshmallows, and that sense, that time, has simply slowed down.  But as the nights start to feel that familiar touch of damp I know, that very soon, I will miss you. The back-to-school shopping has already started (my sweet girl picked out an R2D2 backpack - oh yea!), I'm starting to think about making food for frozen meals/lunches, and I've started my new fridge calendar...yep, all sure signs that September is coming. There are three of us going to school this daughter to kindergarten, my husband to work (as per usual...over a decade in), and me (after a 5 year break...feeling like it's not real yet). But I only have one foot out of summer's door. Still loving the sunshine and looking forward to more beach exploring, swimming, sunshine, marshmallows, and memories.

Lofoten, Norway

     Received a very cool postcard from one of my favourite Norwegian families yesterday! Thanks to Elias who did the writing (I think). I love it! I know I don't send as many postcards as I used to (sometimes it is hard to sit down and write when you have a couple of kids on vacation with you needing you every moment, or at least thinking they do) but wow, it was so nice to receive...I think I'll try harder - it was such a gift to see which postcard was picked out, imagining them there and reading their note to us! Wonderful. And doesn't it look like a beautiful place (hiking, swimming, viking museums - they had a lot of fun!).

Happy August, happy back-to-school, happy memory making, happy letter writing...
happy, happy, happy.

788/1000 My count is up by 10 - some packages, some notes, definitely some love.

P.S. working on a very cool pen pal project with a friend - stay tuned.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mailbox Monday

Love this neighbourhood collection of wooden, painted mailboxes! Each little area seemed to have one of these - some with a two or three and some like this! It was hard not to stop and check them all out ("Who is that crazy lady taking picture of our mailboxes?") but wanted to avoid international scandal - haha! I do love the communal feel and rustic nature of this collection. Hegra, Norway.

Hope everyone is finding ways to stay cool in this warm weather. More blogging coming soon. Have a wonderful week!