that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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cheering on

Is it time for an update? It’s time at least to say hi. I am so indebted to my bed — I owe it at least 12 straight hours of quality time but school is owning those precious moments right now. I am exhausted. After getting home from practicum, I have been going to school for the month of June in a ‘summer institute’ designed to get me enough course credit to be eligible for my B.Ed. Since I couldn’t imagine coming this far and not getting the degree, I had a few days off when I was finished teaching before coming back to Victoria and back to university. It’s been a short month filled with a ton of stretching mentally and it’s been draining physically but it was worth it. It’s been fantastic, it’s over Thursday, and now I need a job. Any suggestions?

June has been fun — it’s my first on the island and I am grateful for it. The month started with my favourite friend’s birthday which seemed to begin his constant reminders to me of my own pending 1/4 century day in a few short weeks. Eep. Then a lot of our family arrived in Victoria for my cousin’s wedding. The weekend was packed with lifetime style memories, especially having Mom, Jay, and Nath in town and getting spend the pre-wedding day with Megan and Steve. I love weddings. And I loved being able to celebrate Josh, someone we see far too little of. It was a fun and special day and we were blessed to be a part of it!

The last few Saturdays have been spent up on the Sooke river where fish are finally biting and the sun is shining (rather than the rainy and crazy fishing trips I’ve been on)… there is nothing better than sitting by the river with one of the books I’ve been putting off reading. It’s such a joy and if I could live out on the Sooke river for almost-ever, I would.

In other news, Dad blessed me the other day with a special Father’s Day invitation for Luke and I to come and see the Empire Stadium…the temporary sports field he built for the BC Lions. Huge treat! We took the ferry over yesterday morning and spent the afternoon watching football and visiting with Dad and Nate. It was so incredibly cool to get to see Dad honoured for his work, not only over the loudspeaker in front of 22,000 people but to see the reception he got from all of the tradesmen and employees of his that were sitting in our section. He’s a BIG deal… but incredibly, genuinely humble and while the Lions lost to the Eskimos in the last 4 seconds and with L being really sick, it still was a perfectly fun and special day, especially because it was Father’s Day! Only thing to make it better? If they were playing the Riders! Oh well, we’re hoping to go back on July 10 for THAT game… 🙂 So so cool! 🙂

Finally, if you think of it or think of me, I’m going to start pursuing my writing dream. After my practicum I was overwhelmed by this sensation of a dream come true. It’s a bit intoxicating, having something that I’ve prayed for and thought of forever finally be realized and tangible, but it also has begged many questions about “what next”. So I’ve started thinking and writing and wondering how to pursue this other dream. I have some ideas on how to go about it but for the most part, it’s a crapshoot. I’m afraid of failing, obviously, but not enough to not want to try. So that’s where I am at — starting to dream another dream. Do you think that is asking a bit much?

Before this turns into an exhausting ramble, I just wanted to say hi. And spend some time with you. And think about how blessed I am. So that’s about it. Here’s some pictures, in no such order. Be blessed. And be rested enough for me? 🙂

(Click on images for larger, gallery-style viewing)


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bogus bocce

For our summer institute courses that I am taking right now we’re doing video literacy. My group and I decided to have a little fun, lighthearted approach to the topic. We filmed the footage and edited on our own… huge feat for us uneducated and tech-motivated teachers.

Disclaimer: the video is really poor quality… we had to compress it and make it smaller in order to post it to the web so that’s why it’s a bit blurry. Sorry! Enjoy!


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taking flight

Articulation. I never thought it would be hard to articulate something. Being somewhat adept at writing down thoughts or situations or stories, it’s a new challenge trying to articulate these thoughts — probably because they are unlike anything I’ve truly felt before and what’s more, probably because I am not quite sure how I feel.

Five weeks have come and gone. I was telling my sister that in one sense, when I think of the kids and the interactions I had in such a short time (and that I will likely never see them again), five weeks seemed to fly faster than I wanted or thought they would. But when I consider the work and the sleepless nights and being evaluated/observed and attempts to make sure every single lesson was creative and inspired and meaningful, five weeks dragged. “They” say student teaching is much more difficult than actually teaching… and I think the newness of it all coupled by the intense pressure to succeed made it a long and arduous process.

Then again, it was some of the best weeks of my life. My dear cousins Derek and Billy once made a rap song that referenced how long I have been in university and to be honest, amidst my laughter, I cringe thinking now that I am almost 25 and this coming September makes it year #7 in post-secondary.  It has all been worth it though, to finally feel like I’ve accomplished something. Maybe that’s the new feeling I have — I have worked harder for this than anything, ever, and the reward of standing in front of a class, knowing I can do this (and do it well) makes it feel as though the last 6 years have flown by as well. It was a wildly successful and fulfilling practicum. Humbling, challenging, entertaining, and character building. I made a lifelong friendship with my mentor teacher while meeting kids that changed me in so many different ways.

What have I learned?

every kid deserves a chance, especially the ones who’ve been given up on
-it
is possible to have all 28 kids respond to me, it just takes a lot of patience, smiles, and positive feedback
-wake up every day as it is a
new day, the day before can’t matter – especially if it was a bad one
kids deserve much more credit, their intelligence at these ages is massively understated
-youth need
responsibility – it shows them I trust them and it gives me a chance to see what they can do
-sometimes worldviews with staff/colleagues clash immensely, there’s
little point getting emo about it – everyone is different
-they (kids) listen to
everything, so much of their feedback to me is a direct result of a response to something I’ve said -therefore, I have way more control than I ever realized
everyone wants to be noticed, sure makes a huge difference when you do
-high school
drama should not be called high school dramait’s insensitive for me not to care about it because it is the biggest thing in their worlds so to simplify it as drama makes me unfit for my job
-I’m so glad I enjoyed my own high school experience, it makes being back in it a lot easier to encourage and challenge these kids to dream and work hard and be their best selves

Among other things anyway. When I had my mentor meetings prior to starting, I was warned about a few key kids based on their older siblings or responsiveness (mainly, lack of) in class. I feel like I learned a lot when a couple of those same kids were the only ones to really make a point of telling me they didn’t want me to leave. One in particular, hugged me and said “Miss Stam, I think you’re the only teacher in this school who likes me”… and more of those comments happened all throughout my last day. Another sweetheart baked me some delicious snacks in his foods class only to come talk to me about his pro-skiing dreams and family during his 15 minute break.

The hardest part? Not the planning or the observations or the meeting kids or remembering all of them, all the time… it’s knowing that if I can feel this valued and this sad about leaving kids after five weeks, how will I survive a career of this? I haven’t laughed this hard or felt so worthy in my entire life. Do you know what that feels like? Now that I’ve tasted it, I can’t get enough of it. Like all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life is make a difference, a positive one, in some small way… and teaching secondary school feels like the perfect way for me to do that. I have learned a deeper sense of humility, a high level of grace, a stronger transparency and honesty, and a weakened heart for all those kids whose shy smiles and bright eyes caught me every moment they finally got it and every moment that they tried.

I am blessed by the person God made me to be in preparing me for this career — I am in love with what I get to do, I am excited for the possibility of what this means. It makes me feel as though I’ve accomplished something… such as a childhood dream of wanting to fly. I’m flying. And things look pretty cool from here.

Cheers!



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mom

Being home has its perks. My mom, being my biggest fan by obligation of giving birth to me, is home every day when I get back from school to tell my tales of woe and harrowing adventure to (she’s also there to ensure I clean up after dinner and put things away). But it’s all fun and for the most part, probably all of my part, I enjoy being home — especially when it means I have my mom to talk to when I get home. Sometimes Jayme and her friends but this whole “being teacher” and almost being 25 has exempt me from being cool in her eyes. That’s another issue.

Anyway, I took my mom to school on Monday. Yup, show and tell of the greatest type. She just sat in the back of the room, walked around and took pictures, and then smiled a ton. Harmless. I introduced her as a “special guest — my MOM” which was met with excellent comments like

Ohhh Miss Stam, you needed your Mommmmmmmm to hold your hand and bring you to class?
Yes K. Just like I saw you kiss your Mom goodbye in her van in the parking lot yesterday.

That wasn’t his mom Miss Stam.

Uh oh.

🙂

Still, other questions about “Hey, are you bringing Daddy tomorrow now? Or your little sister? Or the rest of your parents’ kagillion (?) kids? Bring your nephew Weston (yup, he’s famous Jes), although you might have to hold his hand? Can’t your friend that…” just went on and on and on. Either way, it was pretty cool to have my mom come to work with me.

Another thing about going to high school again brings me a little ways back into the archives of my own experience. An exceptional perk of being home is…yup…Mom makes my lunch. And they aren’t heinous lunches, they are epic — with tupperware containers filled to the brim of watermelon and other fruits I love, sandwiches I can’t fit my mouth around, homemade cookies, and the list goes on. When I was in high school, my lunches were coveted. I remember Suzanne creeping through my backpack to take food while my locker stood open during the lunch break.

Every so often, Mom would leave us treats or, my favourite, little notes of encouragement so that when we went for our snacks or lunch it would be a SURPRISE! Mom is thinking of me (Or in my case, SURPRISE! Mom is checking in on me and making sure I am staying out of trouble)! Anything from bookmarks to little toys to notecards with blessings and sweet love on them. Sometimes she would mangle with our food, like heart-shaped sandwiches for Valentine’s Day or taking a bite out of a sandwich and wrapping it up so I wouldn’t notice. The most hilarious one was a sandwich that she put all the grossest condiments on accompanied by lunch meat, some veggies, and a lollypop. That’s right, I didn’t know what was coming when I took a bite, it tasted worse than anything, and I all but broke my tooth on the lollypop stick.

Thanks mom.

Anyway, yesterday I was minding my business in the staff room when I sat down with my lunch and found a sweet little note of encouragement from my mom. My food was not tampered with but receiving the note felt a little like transference or a time warp… only instead of standing in the hallway with Jocelyn and whoever else, being obnoxious, I was sitting in the staff room, on a comfy couch, drinking my coffee with my legs crossed and glasses on my nose, perusing a (WICKED!!) new resource for teaching, overhearing (and sometimes adding to) a conversation about American Foreign policy from the other side of the room… thinking, oh wow…have I arrived?

Yup. And I still need my mom there with me to hold my hand. That’s alright, isn’t it?


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to be or not to be?

So I start in the morning as a high school teacher… I think I am doing 4 days of fairly heavy observing and planning before officially beginning on Monday, April 19. While I struggle with unpreparedness and what to wear, how to do my hair, and the pending woe of assessment, my biggest concern today is seemingly trivial one: what should I be called? “Miss” seems like the obvious answer all things considering, especially since I am not a “Mrs.” yet (at least, not that I know of). Then again, my mentor said a lot of people choose “Ms.” because it’s so ambiguous and keeps the kids guessing… Is Ms. Stam married? Is she divorced? Is her last name even Stam? You get the idea.

So what should I be called? Leave a comment… I need your help on this one. Highly, highly stressful —  and at least I can use your input here since I can’t get you to write my lesson plans.

Alright, send me your opinions.

Cheers!!!


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ramalama…bling, not dingdong

SO many things to say, SO little time…

First of all, Ky sent me this beautiful story via a beautiful link. Go read about a mama’s love story with her baby Nella by clicking on the link. THEN once you’ve read Nella’s story, subscribe to Kelle Hampton’s blog… it’s breathtaking. I don’t know why, but it gets me excited to read blogs. Not that I am not excited to read yours, cause I am, but her photography and joy is precious. I love her!

Happy Birthday to my most favourite 5 year old in the WORLD…Connor Joshua, I hope your birthday was filled with animals and candies and ice cream with sprinkles and all of your best things! I love that guy much more than I love most people, certainly more than I love Nella’s mom but really, go read her site.

In 4.5 WEEKS I am going to be a practicum student teacher. Are you praying for me? You better be! I am teaching Macbeth to English 11 and the War of 1812 to Social Studies 9. Should be interesting. And no, I am not prepared.

It’s been almost a month but we lost Iron Chef. Basically, it’s time to trade my partner or do some cook-searching (not to be confused with soul-searching). Also, I’ve embarked on a journey I like to call watching-all-the-Oscar-nominated-and-won-best-pictures. So far, not good showing.

I gave up bread for lent and I’ve failed twice. Mainly because I simply forgot. I am also currently 5/13 for Roll Up the Rim at Tim Horton’s… it’s basically and literally a competitive game out here; my friend even has a spreadsheet that charts his successes. It’s supposed to be 1/9 wins but I would argue against that. Luke and I pledged to split any big wins 50-50 (so the Rav 4, 10,000, or the 100 Tim Card). But I think if I win 10 G’s, I’ll buy him dinner then jet off to Mexico without him.

I bought the shoes I most covet today. Chrissy has them and I’ve hummed and hee-hawed over purchasing them for about 9 months… but I justify them via the fact that I can wear them teaching, they’ll be comfortable, etc. So here’s a pic, since it’s not very often I buy shoes:

Any who, that’s about all I have to say for now. Apparently not a ton worthwhile.

Cheers!

Cheers!

No seriously, CHEERS!

(I keep trying to delete cheers but it’s not working so I thought I’d add that last one for good measure…)

grace and peace.


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olympic highlights

We took the 7:00 am ferry over to Vancouver for the day and what a perfect day it was. Dad and Nate picked us up from the ferry and we spent the day perusing the sights and action downtown Van. We checked out most of the houses in our midst (Canada House, Saskatchewan House (for Mark), Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, German House, Saxony House, etc etc) while also touring around Canada Hockey Place, Canada Place to see Dad and Nate at work, and of course… the flame cauldron. Our highlight was definitely, randomly, getting in line for the Ontario house while deciding what we should do next. Once we entered the house, there was a myriad of people congregating at the small stage…when lo and behold we were told that WAYNE GRETZKY was on his way there for an interview! The hearts stopped in the chests of the 3 guys we were with… and then started beating again when we got autograph… SUCCESS! It was very, very cool.

Actually the whole experience was surreal and awesome… every second of it was purely incredible. People in Vancouver that were working for the Olympics were so gracious and kind and I don’t think it’s because we were all wearing those red Olympic mitts! Everyone was genuinely excited to be part of something so big and after being there, Canada (especially BC) should be very, very proud of what they’ve put together over there. Seeing many different supporters of different nations was neat…especially when they were all flanked with thousands of people wearing red and white. I encourage you, any of you, if heading to Vancouver is at all an option for you…take it; it’s a once-in-our-lifetime opportunity and it’s pretty darn cool that the unification and peace between nations that the Olympics bring is resting on our home soil. We are blessed and it was such a reminder that I am a part of something in this world that is bigger than my own.

GO CANADA!

As for the pics, I tried a gallery style posting so hopefully it’s ok. Click on the first picture and then they will get bigger and you can just scroll thru them… rather than making it one huge long post? Crossing my fingers…


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props to my pops

My dad is a rockstar. I don’t know if you know him, but underneath his harrowing, intense stare and his fridge-like body type, one that you wouldn’t mess with, is a heart of both beauty and bravery… where he is willing to enter into the depths of the most difficult and grueling and challenging test in the history of all competitions. He’s a risk taker, resilient, flexible, committed, and an overall genuinely good sport. SO here’s the stage:

Dad (also goes by Jackie, Papa Gee-Joe, ‘the Hammer’, my bff, etc) is the most brutal critic of his most favourite Christmas treat of all time: peanut brittle. In fact, it’s quite possibly the only thing that I know of that my mom cannot make the best in his mind. For a lifetime, he has loved (as we all do) my Auntie Tanya’s brittle… so much in fact that Dad gets his very own massive tin of it for Christmas every year.

Following?

This year, in the snowy little oasis of Armena, AB, my dear reserved, gentle, wonderful sister Jes decided to get aggressive and make her own brittle to see how it would measure up against our biggest problem: Dad’s taste buds. Upon tasting it Dad felt that Jes’ set, although very airy, was a little overcooked.

Not to be discouraged, we decided that it was time for Dad to stop talking so much about peanut brittle like he’s a connoisseur of the stuff and prove, once and for all, that his aversion to anything but Tanya’s brittle was simply based on taste. Here in lies the challenge:

Christmas Day, Dad is blindfolded by one of Jayme’s new scandalously fashionable scarves (thanks Jayme). We lined up 5 types of peanut brittle in front of the challenger and in something slightly resembling Iron Chef, Dad, the food critic that he is, hunkered down to decide what was his favourite peanut brittle.

The choices were:

1. Carol Simpson (so Uncle Chuck’s ma)
2. Auntie Tanya
3. Jes
4. Store Bought

We didn’t have any of my Mom’s, thankfully. It was delicious, but that would’ve brought far too much bias. He picked Auntie Tanya’s in the end so at least he’s consistent. Oh well. Jes put up the good fight — he said her peanut brittle “floats” in his mouth… whatever that means.

Here’s some photos of the scariness than ensued:

'talking the talk'

the battleground

the warrior - preparing to fight - with his pallet cleanser of milk

assessing, critiquing, peanut-brittle snobbing

spectator - not into it

justifying

graciously losing

ok maybe a little into it

'alright champ, it goes like this..."


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mom went digital

Christmas was such a treat this year. It felt like I experienced all four seasons in the last week — leaving a very mild Victoria behind for an even milder Penticton and as we made our way to cold, snowy Alberta, the temperatures outside dropped and my internal temperature rose — I couldn’t wait to meet my nephew. Arriving in Camrose late Wednesday night, Weston was still awake in his Mama’s arms. Let me tell you, he does not disappoint! The next few days were locked in Jes and Mark’s beautiful, cozy home, relaxing and quiet as we spent time sharing and visiting and playing… while Wes went from one set of eager arms to another. I don’t have my camera cord with me so pictures will have to wait but my goodness, I never thought I could love a little person like that. We are blessed.

One of the most entertaining moments was my Mom’s reaction to my Dad’s Christmas gift to her — a Nikon D90 digital camera. For those of you who don’t know, my mom is the lady with the camera attached to her hands but is so in love with her current film Nikon, coupled with the daunting learning curve that comes with going digital, she’s never made the switch. Until now. It was so awesome! My Dad delights in not telling us what he’s buying mom for Christmas so it’s always a treat for everyone — unless you’re one of the kids who helps him with the picking of the gift (in this case, Nate). So I think half the fun for him is watching all of our own jaws drop! AnywaY (that’s for Chrissy), this camera takes the most beautiful pictures and I rarely heard the whirr of the film winding of her old Nikon in the three days I was there. RIP, old friend.

Unfortunately for me, my own beloved toy cost me a pretty penny today so rather than kicking her in the behind, I am blogging about it. Bella, my car, got herself a new water pump, timing belt, and numerous other belts today… much to my chagrin. I noticed a few weeks ago that something was leaking from it. After consulting the men in my life, it was determined that the coolant was the culprit. My Dad and brother in law reminded me that it was last Christmas when Honda told me the water pump had a hole in it. I guess it was only a matter of time… pray that my faith in my Bella is restored, right now I just see a large, inflated dollar sign hovering above her hood. Aww, well. I’ll just go curl up on the couch with my new poetry book and snuggle in with my pyrex dishes… we’re in love already and they aren’t even out of the package.

Other notables: I miss Alberta… the snow and the cold and the frosty cheeks…the fireplace and the company and the memories. I am more than ok with moving back. In fact, I fell in love with Cochrane on our way through it. Fun. PS Jes and Mark — thanks for the awe-some hospitality, I sure missed your company and friendship. Also, I think being in Victoria is much too far from Weston. I don’t know how I could describe him completely so you’ll just have to take my word for it — he’s the most adorable and content and strong little baby I have ever met. His life is going to be so much fun to witness!

As for me, I am back in Penticton and working for the next few days before heading back to the coast. It’ll be pretty quiet as I am home alone (Mom and Jay went to Smithers from AB). But it’ll be nice… I am none too anxious to get back to school — in three short months I will be teaching and I am oddly terrified. Looking back on 2009, I remember saying “this is it. this is going to be my year.” I don’t know exactly what I meant by that, often ideas form on my lips before I even staturate in them, but if my year meant gaining a nephew, graduating with a degree, realizing my massively huge dream of becoming a teacher, and creating relationships to last a lifetime… then my list of resolutions for 2010 might be exactly the same — not items to change, but blessings to hope and be thankful for.

Cheers!