Friday, December 14, 2012

Beginnings and Endings

Today, I said goodbye to the little people who have been changing my life for the last 5 weeks. Time's been flying. I have  officially submitted my evaluation of my first round of student teaching - one step closer (and 1 quarter done this program!). I can't believe how fast these 5 weeks have flow. Being the standard "leak easy" person I am - I struggled to hold it together, as my co-op teacher asked each child to tell me something "from their heart" while they said good bye. Little faces telling me that they "love me" or that they "hope I come back" or that they "really like me!". Too sweet. They're these amazing little people, who have learned SO much and changed SO much over the super short amount of time that I have been there. It'd be nice to think I taught them things, I know they taught me things - and I know I am going to miss them already. It feels like I just met this class of little learners - and all their quirks. I think about their futures, the people they are growing into being. They're pretty incredible so far. :)

I have been working with them on social studies, discussing the ways we are all unique and special people - and how we're a part of groups. When I asked them why is it important to be a part of groups? I got the response of groups help us learn and grow, they keep us safe, and they teach us how to be our best versions of ourselves which was this incredible echo of my words to them. They told me how their specialness is like snowflakes (that we've done in art), knowing that they're all different and beautiful - and that together they are part of one. It was great to watch, to participate in, and to learn from.

And then, in the shadow side of today, I heard the news of horrid events that happened today in both China and Connecticut. My heart aches and mourns. For those impacted and for those who have so much hurt in them, or anger in them, or emptiness in them - that these things keep happening, not just today, but over and over again. I think of the perfect little people I know, with their frustrating and inspiring moments and I think of those who are now mourning their little people. I think of the amazing teachers I have gotten to known and imagine them striving to protect the little people they are trusted with each day. I am mad at the world - and not really sure how to channel that into something to builds positive contributions to the world today.

So, I am trying to figure out some sort of strategy for that... and remembering and honouring all the beauty that is in the world. I'll tell you more about my little learners soon... they're a good thing to keep in my mind.

hug someone really tight, ok?

Peace to you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

First day of grade one, again.

News: I have started student teaching!

I am back to grade one - and learning those basics all over again. I am now in the second week of grade one, for the second time. I wonder how many times you'd have to start the first grade, before it wouldn't be scary. More than two apparently, hee hee. 

That said, it's been great so far. I'm at a school on the Northside, with 16 little people who keep us hopping. We have lots to celebrate and work on, which is awesome. They're great kids who seem up for most anything, which is fun. It's nice to begin in such a small class, as the idea of 6-10 more of them is just terrifying. Friends teaching those bigger classes - hats off to you! 

I'm teaching social studies, as my "plan a unit" adventure, which is a pretty good fit for me. I am team teaching art and phys. ed with another student teacher, which is super great. Someone else to bounce ideas around with. It's fun. Hard, but fun. I find myself eternally wondering what grade one can 'do' or 'remember' or actually understand - not just nod their heads at. It's also a good lesson in vocabulary, as I'm constantly asked for definitions of things. 

In other news - my sweetie's trying to win us a trip... After our wedding, we went on an incredible 'honey-trip' with an awesome group of friends (there are pictures of that, on a previous post). Loads of fun, small pockets of frustration, great food, and LOTS of good memories. Before, during and after, people keep commenting, how we must be crazy to take other people on our honeymoon. Who does that, right? Well, I wouldn't have traded the trip... but I would love to go on another one. :) 

Soooo... Anyone want to help us out with that "marriage-moon"? It's easy, I won't ask you to pay for it (although, if you wanted to, you totally could - we wouldn't say no). Air Canada is having a contest right now... and  you're supposed to get people to click on your entry on the little "inspired" star to increase your chances. It'd be great if you could add your vote. Just click here and you should get taken to a link with her entry titled, "To reconnect a world of hope". 

Anyway - enough daydreaming of running away. I have lesson planning to get back to. 

Have a super day! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Liebster Award

So awhile ago Cheryl from YouAutoKnow awarded me a Liebster award which somehow gives me the lovely task of answering the following questions - as part of being a recipient...? I am not sure. It seems that everywhere I look there are different criteria. Anyway - I will try. Following that, I get to award a group of blogs the same award. Some reports say 3, some day 5, some say 11... I don't follow enough blogs to choose 11. So, we'll see.

Anyway - apparently (all the sources say different things) a Liebster Blog Award gets awarded to a small blog (with less than 200 followers), that you love. Once you've been given one - you get to give them out too. If you can find an actual source on this... I'd love to see it. I got impatient trying to track it down.

The responses to the questions YouAutoKnow posted for me are:

1.Why did you start a blog?

My blog started as a way of staying in touch with people while I was out of the country. It seemed that before I left, everyone I saw said - "keep in touch" or "email me about what you're doing!". It seemed easier to say, 'for sure! follow my blog' than to play the cut and paste game of telling everyone pretty well the same story, and with small changes for personalization. Thus began the stories of a prairie girl blog.

2. What's your favourite thing to write about?
I don't know if I have a favourite thing. While I was away, the goal was to write once every two weeks-ish. On average, it was about every 10 days, and about whatever was the interesting thing that day, or something that had me thinking, or something that I had good photos for, or when I was lonely. Now - I am not sure. It's time for a 'rebirth' so to speak and with that... I don't know what all I will write about.

3. What's your own favourite post?
Don't you just love it when people ask you questions that mean that you have to go and do some more reading? I re-read a lot of my posts... and the answer is - I don't know that I have one. I like the posts where I feel like I blend images and text well. I like the ones where I get feedback or conversations going out of them.... I don't know. I like many of them, but for different reasons.

4. What's your favourite Edmonton festival?
 Hmmmm.... Again - hard questions. I really love the new festivals that are appearing on 118th street. I love the community feeling of them, and that it is a neighbourhood that is using art in all its forms to change the feeling of the community - and the way others in Edmonton see the area. So both Deep Freeze, and the Kaleido Festival

I also like Winter Lights, cause it happens at a time where I just want to cuddle up and hide from winter - but then there is this festival that pulls me outside - and I get to enjoy the delightful parts of winter. Last year we saw this production of people who do circus arts, performing a acrobatic play around 'twinkle twinkle little star'. I loved it.

5. What website do you visit every day?
The only two that are most consistent would be gmail and facebook ... I try to read the news most days, but I have days where I just can't bear one more bit of bad news, so I skip it...

6. How long do you spend online every day? 
Probably too long. Scratch that, not probably. I spend too long on online each day.

7. Where would you move?
 Oh dear. Questions that are likely to cause a fuss in my life. I have a sweetheart who is even more ready than I am, to flee...

I have just started school again, so for now - I am staying put. But I doubt that will be a truly stable thing. Where would I move... probably anywhere that had good and meaningful work for both myself and my love - where we could contribute to making the world a better place and be happy.

8. What type of business would you start?
I kind of doubt I would ever start a business. I don't think I have the right personality for that. 

9. What's your favourite thing about Fall?
Oooh! I love Fall in general. Especially the smells and sounds. I love the sound of leaves falling, of them crunching under your shoes, I love how everything sounds a bit sharper or more crisp in the cool mornings. I love the smell of the earth preparing for winter. I think I also really like the cozy sweaters and scarves, when it's at the beginning of cool - and it doesn't seem onerous, just nice. 

10. What's the most domestic thing about you?
"most" huh... probably my craftiness. I like projects where I am seeking to create something, whether it is something I have seen or just imagined. Like - I saw these little mice awhile ago - and I thought Lillian would love a collection of pocket mice... so I tried to make some.

This was the outcome:

That said, I like a lot of "domestic" things. I love cooking, baking, knitting, crafting, painting, and 'putzing' in general.... :)

11. What's the least domestic thing about you?
So I thought about this for awhile and polled some wonderful people. I think, the least domestic thing about me is my politics. I am happy to claim being a feminist, and I rail against a lot of the stereotypes that get slotted with "domestic" things, or ideas like being a "housewife" (after all, who would actually marry a house? Come on!). I respect (and sometimes envy) friends who have made the choice to full-time care for their families, and all that goes with that, I am not saying anything negative towards them. Instead, I believe that people should have choices about these things - and that ALL the options should be valued and respected.

So ya, rant aside - my least domestic thing is my politics. :)

So those are my questions. Now - the picking of other blogs...
This is hard, I read quite a few while I was away, but much like I haven't been blogging since being home - it seems like those people haven't either. But here goes.

Unwrapping Development I have no idea how many followers this blog has - but Jim writes beautifully - and about a lot of really important issues. It's a great blog. The only problem I have with it - is I often can't keep up :) probably the sign of a great blog. I always want to read it, but when I have time to do some thinking... which lately has felt scattered. Anyway - it's great. Check it out.

The Bean Tree's Field Notes I don't read often enough - but again it is beautifully written. She writes about food, about friends, about life's ups and downs. She writes about here and about far away. It's great.

My cousin Briana just started a blog. I don't know if these awards are really meant to begin someone... but I love things about food. I love things with pictures. AND I know that Bri's blog will be about both, simply from her posts in other things. Anyway - have a read - The First Bite

Sarah photographed my wedding - and does all sorts of neat things in the world. I love her photoblogs. It's also got video clips and all sorts of other distractions, so be careful when you check out shining happy.

I think Cheryl gave me this award to kick me in the pants and get me started again. I am going to cross my fingers and have a try at that to with Wanderlusting because I really enjoyed reading it - and knowing the author, I am certain she's still got great things to say. Please?

My questions for the bloggers? Well - 11 again seemed like too many, so I decided 5 awards, therefore 5 questions. Ready?

1. Why did you start your blog? 
2. What is the most surprising thing you've learned about blogging/your blog/you in the blogging process? 
3. First thing that pops to mind when I ask, "what is the best thing that happened to you, today?".
4. If you weren't doing what you presently do or there were no limits to what was possible, what do you dream of doing?  
5. As Fall starts to shift into something that feels closer to Winter, what's your favourite cozy comfort food?

Does anyone have other recommendations of blogs I should look at? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reverse the Cuts

So there is this myth out there, that Canadians (I realize this is a generalization... but many Canadians) seem to believe. Ready for it? It's that Canadians are good and generous people, that we have a great reputation internationally, and that we're 'likeable'.  Maybe aspects of this myth are true. Maybe it's true of some individual Canadians... but geez are we on a massive spiral downward with how we're perceived overseas.

Would you like to know why I think this? For some reason, we keep on electing people who are taking our reputation and trashing it - in a variety of ways. Sometimes is from acting completely stupid and irresponsible (pulling out a kyoto pops to mind here - or the actions of Bev Oda anywhere she's actually been). Sometimes it's the frustration at "Canadian" oil companies that are charged with human rights and environmental abuses. Sometimes it's awe that in Canada, people are having their right to protest limited or removed during the maple spring.... it's a long list of 'seriously, Canada - this is what you're doing now...'

In March, the Government announced a reduction of more than 8 percent over 3 years to the budget of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). This $319 million cut is equivalent to the cost of one of the sixty-five F-35 fighter jets the Government wants to buy. ONE! Today, October 17th is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - and a program has been launched to take a stand and tell the government, enough is enough. There's a petition you can sign, there are drafts of letters, there are tips on how to meet with your MP... all at or you can get more information at

I know that there is a lot of poverty at home too - and that many respond to comments about international cooperation with questions about why we should be doing things over there if there are problems here. I hear that. I am certainly not telling you to also advocate for change in our local communities. Here's the thing though, least from my perspective. The problem here isn't in there not being enough - the problem here is in compassion and sharing. WHY for example, would Canada ever need 65 fighter jets? Imagine the world we could help create if instead of funneling funds into fear, hate, and war - we directed that into hope, compassion, and justice.

I am ready.
Are you?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The UN day of the Girl Child

Today, October 11th, is the UN Day of the Girl Child. I think about all the amazing young womyn I know - and I am SO completely thankful for them. For their sparkle, their creativity, their passion, their enthusiasm, for all they teach me - all the time! Some samples, you ask? Ok!

the mini-Cheryl - so much fun

my awesome, spunky niece, rockin' out Aunty Carly's glasses. 
Girls are awesome. They're brave. They're creative. They're fun. They are changing the world.

There is all this documentation like what you'd see in the Girl Effect about how ensuring education and inclusion for girls creates a ripple effect in positive change in society - but then you read the news and what sorts of things do we encounter? Things like the story of Malala Yousafzai who is young wommon who is advocating for education for womyn and girls and has been threatened and recently shot for her advocacy. 

If you happen to see this before 7 - the International Centre at the UofA is hosting a video screening of the film, "It's a Girl". It's about how those words, while I hope are words of celebration for many - for some, is still a death sentence, discussing about the infanticide of girl-children. 

So - today is the UN Day of the Girl Child, and while there are many reasons to celebrate, there's still a long way to go. There are so many organizations, both locally and internationally that are working to support the well being of girls. Maybe today is a good day to look into them. My heart hurts for all in the world that isn't quite up to snuff yet, but wow am I thankful for all the people I know contributing to fixing it.

Peace to you~ 

Friday, October 5, 2012


So those who know me well, know that I have a certain amount of trepidation around dogs. They make me a little nervous. Not all of them, but many. I have told people, in the past - 'you'll know I am in love, if I get a dog.'

Well - I fell in love with a dog-lover. And my dog-lover, so desperately wanted a dog... and we talked about it, and debated it, and talked about it... We weighed the positives and the challenges and decided, okay - we'd get a dog.

Here again, we had a new adventure. Puppies are more work, without a doubt, but they're also impossible to be nervous of. I mean, they're bumbly and funny, and just SO cute. My dog-lover though has a super large soft-spot for dogs that need some love, those who have had rough starts and need a good home and a bit older. Again, they're super cute - but I felt a bit more nervous, they were bigger and felt somewhat unpredictable...

We have made quite a few visits to the Edmonton Humane Society, and spent hours chatting with, petting, and getting to know different furry friends. After a bit of heartbreak (with puppies getting adopted by other people, before we had fully made up our minds or started the process) yesterday, we came home with a new addition to our family.


 Meet Sitka. She apparently needs to meet a bunch of people and dogs this month - to help her grow up to be a pretty chill little fluff. So, if you want to meet a puppy - she's something sweet. 

Cute as a button, no?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What you see, what you think, what you do...

I am taking this class right now, "Managing the Classroom Environment". It's a very strange mix. It's a bit about behaviour - and what you do with bad behaviour and a bit about all the other things pertaining to power and privilege that come into your classroom that you need to be ready for. Things like racism and homophobia.

Last week, we watched, "A classroom divided" (You can click on the link and watch it, if you want) Have you seen it? It seems to be a super well known example, but no one else in my class had seen it. The film is about the exercise/experiment Jane Elliott ran on her students, beginning in 1968, in Iowa. She felt that even though she had spoken about racism and discrimination with her students, they didn't quite get it. So, she created a two day lesson, to 'show' these kids about racism and how it feels. (does this sound familiar yet?) she divided her class into the kids with blue eyes and those with brown. On the first day, those with blue eyes were superior. They got extra food, extra recess, they were told they were smarter, kinder, had better manners. She picked at the 'bad' behaviours of the kids with the brown eyes - and stated it as a symptom of their brown eyed-ness. To ensure that people could tell from a distance, what colour their eyes were, they were made to wear collars. The second day it reversed. The kids with blue eyes were now the kids who were targeted as 'less than'. They picked on each other for the two days - and then she debriefed it with them. She asked them about how they went from being friends, to being mean to one another. They talked about how it 'wasn't fair' that someone got treated bad because of their eye colour. The students spoke about about how it hurt and how they felt helpless, or 'less than nothing'. But they also worked to justify their behaviours. They followed it with certainty that they wouldn't ever discriminate.

Jane Elliott continued to do this lesson with her students for years. She's been hired to do with other people, like workers at a correctional facility, to help others really see racism in action - and have it become something personal (rather than something we talk about in pretty language). It's interesting to watch the difference, in the documentary between the children and their reactions to things on an emotional level, and the adults that try to argue or conceptualize their feelings - for more of an idea.
It's an interesting practice. I feel like it wouldn't work as well in places where there actually is a bit more diversity to begin with (I feel like the all white-white classrooms in Iowa in the 70s aren't as common here), especially as there are so many things layered over eye colour.

Anyway - This is one of the things I have been thinking over the last little while - and then something interesting happened (or perhaps more accurately, I noticed it happening). For the last week, everywhere I go - I see police officers walking in pairs. The part of this, that is interesting to me, is that they are, without a doubt, profiling who they're stopping to talk to based on race. If you're indigenous living in Edmonton, watch out - the cops are stopping you. I travel the same routes, at more or less the same time, most days - and it's interesting the shift in the last two days. So here's my question: What do you do - when you don't agree with what you see happening around you - but none of the specific incidents have anything "wrong" it's just the pattern that is 'wrong'?

And then - when you start thinking about those things, that are embedded into culture, what do you do - as a teacher or person who spends a lot of time with kids to try to prevent it, or stop it, or better yet - oppose it?

Anyway - these are my 'today' thoughts. I'd love to hear what you think.

Peace to you, 

ps... what do you think of the new look? A new year? a new design?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Change is the only constant?

Throughout my life, whenever things are feeling very very up in the air, or chaotic, or undefined - someone always offers up the wisdom, "the only thing constant in life is change". Which is true, and I know that, but sometimes wouldn't it be nice to have just a smidge of predictability? Maybe?

Fine, why break with convention.

It seems like the last 6 months have been a whirlwind. Carly and I got married (about a month ago, which seems crazy! A month! Geez). It was a fabulous day. Everything was great, we were surrounded by people we love, the skies were blue, there was fabulous food and music... it was a perfect day!

Photos thanks to the lovely Sarah Taylor
We were totally blessed by many good friends and family members, coming distances (close-ish and super far) to come celebrate with us, which was awesome. A small group of that crew, actually signed on to stay for the week. So we headed off on our "honeytrip" (Definition: a Honeytrip is a blending of a 'roadtrip' with a 'honeymoon', sharing ridiculousness and delight while cramming into very filled cars and exploring new spaces).  It was a crazy week, but so delightful!

A honeytrip cast - perhaps a bit nutty and therefore excited to sign up for this kind of adventure?

We headed out from the farm (where we got married) to Calgary, then to Banff on to Naramata where we hung out for a bit. Following that we headed off to Vancouver Island and then back to Vancouver, where our trip came to an end, everyone headed off in different directions, and Carly and I dove into one more crazy day in a car, to also go home.

We all survived the group corralling into the car to get where we were going, and the two days of loooooooooong drives were rewarded things likes a wonderful day of wine tours, sunshine, laughter, good food and certainly lots of memory making.

Check out the super-dooper pollinator! Go go little bee!

While we were on West coast we had a chance to go fishing. After a morning adventure (where one car didn't start... different story, for a different time) we still made it to the boat before dawn had fully emerged. It was stunning, but sooooo early. We didn't end up catching much, but it was a fabulous morning.

I started to wake up, a while after the sun.

The Orcas were out!
and some other water friends.

 On our last full day together, a group of us when to climb attempt the grouse grind. The walk itself was stunning, the trees are amazing and it smelled fabulous - but I think it was one of those days that someone somewhere was trying to teach me something... maliciously.

I have a habit (good? bad?) of eavesdropping. Not of things that seem important or confidential, but I listen to the people around me and what they're discussing. It's one of the things I love about coffee shops. All of these people who inadvertently share snippets of stories. It's like live time storybooks. Anyway, I digress.

On the way up the grind - it was starting to feel hard. At just about this point, where I was feeling a bit sweaty, and a bit tired, my eavesdropping got me in trouble. There was a guy, trying to encourage his climbing partner to the top - who explained that the gondola down closes at 6 - and if they didn't make it, they'd have to walk back down. As a group, we had already discussed the gondola on the way down... and this meant I had to MOVE and quickly! Perhaps you read this blog and don't really know me... but 'rushing' up a mountain of stairs isn't something that comes naturally to me. The fun and the beauty eroded during the rush, and I went from the slow and steady - I can do this... to wanting to just lie down and wait for morning... Only to get to the top to find out that the fellow on the trail was confused. The gate at the BOTTOM closes for people starting the hike at 6, but the gondola down, doesn't close until around 10pm... Sigh. Lesson perhaps learned. :)

It did mean that once the feeling of my heart in my throat and the upward motion came to an end at  the top, there was a bit more time for looking at the awesome view, taking our photo proof that we had made it, having a drink and snack and enjoying friends in an incredible place.

See! We made it - and we look happy! Yay team!

 The gondola ride, when we eventually took it, was also beautiful. I am really happy that I got to go, that I didn't indeed die on the side of the mountain, and that I got to see the view from the top. Next time - less rushing. (Once I have had a bit more time, so that next time seems like a good idea again hee hee)

Anyway, the last time I posted, I said I was leaving the country - and here I am... still in Alberta, still in Edmonton in fact. There is that constant change thing again. I have actually just begun a new degree - pursuing an after degree in Elementary Education. The hope is that a school and classroom is ready to take on this prairie girl and that a group of elementary kids are ready to mix up the curriculum with some of my Peace Ed stuff and have a blast learning together. It's a bit daunting, but I think it's going to be great.

My friend Cheryl has given me a kick in the pants about starting to blog again - so here's my public declaration that I am going to try. We'll see how that goes. I think taking some space to think about what we're learning will be good.

Let me know what you're thinking - or doing - or questioning. Got any good questions to get this blog re-started?

Peace to you!

Monday, May 14, 2012

On the move again!

So, apparently I am a crappy blogger while in Canada. Perhaps it is because the bulk of people who I feel I need to stay in touch with are closer. I don't know. I would like to say it's been a big year, but it feels like I have been living a series of big years. It's amazing to me, to think that this time last year, classes were beginning to wrap up. Graduation was approaching, I was gearing up to write my thesis, starting to say goodbye to some of the incredible people I had met... Or that two years ago, I was just coming back from Colombia and starting all the prep to move to Costa Rica and start at Upeace. Now, here I am, a year later and it still feels like the list is growing.

I finished my thesis, which still feels pretty great(!),  came back to Edmonton, and got started back with ACGC, I had a chance to reconnect with friends and family that I had missed, and begin missing the friends who had become like family while being away. Somehow, I'm still trying to figure out who I want to be or what I want to do. I am beginning to think, this isn't a question with an answer - just a series of questions that guide choices and decisions that lead to new questions... They just keep on coming and changing. :)

I have, however, had some fun this year (want some photos?)!

It has been great to be 'home' to spend time with the small monsters in my life. They're so much fun - and it constantly amazes me how fast they're learning and growing! 

Hanging out at the wading pools! Splish splash!

Hanging out at the Farm on the way to Calgary
At the Calgary zoo - a monster turns into a bear!
At the ice festival - "cool" slides

I got to go with a group of visiting students from China and Korea to Banff National Park this winter. Introducing 'Alberta' winter to a group was fun. Sliding, skating, cross-country skiing, snowball fights... It was a hoot!

At the Ice Carving Festival in Banff, Alberta


Mountain fun!

How many years do you think it normally takes before you learn to lift your heals while sliding down hills?
I think it takes awhile - and it's funny to watch, whether little kids or adults.
On to tobogganing!
Most of the crew
Cross Country Skiing!

And something green... So you know it's still me taking pictures, even with all those people in them. :)
Swinging in Edmonton!
I went to Jasper National Park at the beginning of April - the animals were out and about enjoying the sunshine with us. Here's a small sample.


Until quite recently - spring has been indecisive if it wanted to be present in Alberta, so an adventure to Vancouver/Victoria was called for - where spring was well under way. Flowers, green grass, leaves, ocean... beautiful.


So another year has moved it's way through my life - and it seems it is time for more changes.

I am getting married in August, which is so exciting (!!!) and then it appears that we're moving to Guatemala. So the Prairie Girl's going to hit the road again. I don't know if I will be much of a blogger until I head off - but I will get this up and going again - once on the move. If you happen to have a lead on a job in Guatemala... I need one - starting at the end of September. :)


Peace to you!