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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sacrifice

So I missed lent.

Actually, I didn’t. I was all set to write about how I missed the season this year and subsequently, missed giving something up. However, upon some .25 second research, I learned that it actually starts tomorrow.

Crap.

What should I give up this year? Last year I attempted to give up bread. That didn’t work, I kept forgetting about it. The year before I took a year off. My most successful lenten sacrifice was in ’08 when I gave up coffee for 40 days — no cheating whatsoever. And the year before that when I gave up milk/cream/sugar in my coffee and haven’t enjoyed it in my coffee since.

What should I give up this year?

Here are my current things:

1. facial foundation make up
2. desserts (every form…after dinner, after lunch, and after breakfast — sometimes, it happens)

My breast feeding cousin-in-law Chrissy, who wishes to remain anonymous yet isn’t, said she will not be joining me in giving up desserts because she says Kalli, her baby girl, needs them.

She also is not hypocritical, stating that I cannot have exemptions. There is a new frozen yogurt joint in town that is AH-mazing so I want to visit it once or twice in the next 40 days — my only exception to my fast. Not only will Chrissy not partake in the fast, but she is ensuring that I only commit if I plan to commit 100%. I have visions of her sitting on the couch, eating espresso and ice cream and watching over her bowl as I suffer. No exemptions, no cheating. To quote:  “Kate, this is God we’re talking about. You can’t mess with him, God has no exemptions.” Wow. Okay.

Here’s the idea: I don’t really think anything I can give up for lent will in ANY way signify the greatest sacrifice of all, but relatively speaking – this will be a good challenge for me. Really good challenge and way to be reminded of why I am giving some things up to begin with.

Plus it’ll keep my breast feeding cousin-in-law entertained.

 

Any other suggestions?

 

Cheers!


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super why?

While I am staying with one of my littlest buddies, Eli, one of my favourite things to do with him is watch ‘Super Why!’ in the mornings. Sometimes, Chrissy will even shoot me an instant message reminder that it is on at 9 am. (Or 8 am on weekends which I didn’t know until I missed it).

Ripped right off of the website, ‘Super Why!’ is the animated television series and interactive website that helps children ages 3-6 learn key reading skills, including alphabet, rhyming, spelling, etc. (which makes Eli a rockstar already since he’s not even two and Kalli is only a few months). It also makes me feel like a total dork but I digress.

The premise is actually really cool and brings out the teacher-nerd in me:

The title character introduces himself as “Whyatt”, and welcomes the viewers to “Storybook Village”, a place where all fairy-tale characters reside. Then Whyatt hears a ringtone from his “Super Duper Computer”, which resembles a small red PDA. He answers the call and discovers that one of the other characters has a “Super Big Problem”. After investigating the nature of the problem, Whyatt summons the “Super Readers”, sending out the call: “Calling all Super Readers! To the Book Club!” The four characters, Whyatt, Pig, Red Riding Hood, and Princess Pea, then appear in front of the aforementioned Book Club, which is a building made of books. Whyatt then tells the viewer to “say YOUR name”, including them among the Super Readers.

The goal of the Super Readers is to follow the storyline to solve the problem. As they progress through the events of the story, they encounter obstacles, which can be solved by applying their literacy skills to change the story (for instance, changing the prince in “The Frog Prince” back into a frog because the princess liked him better that way). As they overcome these obstacles, they are rewarded with red glittery “Super Letters”. These Super Letters are then uploaded into the Super Duper Computer, eventually forming the word(s) that make up the solution to the Super Big Problem. The audience members are encouraged to look for Super Letters throughout the story, and to identify them when they appear.

Anyway, the show also fascinates me because I am a slight fan of ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ so I like to try to solve the puzzles before they find all of the ‘Super Letters’. I think I like it more than Eli does.

There's Pig ('The Littlest Pig' of the 3), Red ('Little Red Riding Hood'), Whyatt Beanstalk (Jack's brother), and Princess Pea ('The Princess and the Pea')

If I consider this similar to the FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit from ‘Criminal Minds’, somehow it gets more interesting — although, rather than solving murders and weird crimes involving clowns, the Super Readers hang out in STORYBOOK VILLAGE and solve SUPER BIG PROBLEMS using their literacy skills and a SUPER DUPER COMPUTER and saying things like ‘PRESTO!’. Really.

No, I don’t water down my coffee with Bailey’s for this ritual…I actually think it’s sweet. Some of their BIG problems have been:

1. How do we get a cat unstuck from a tree?
2. How do we get Whyatt’s baby sister to stop crying?
3. What should Red have done instead of just taking Peter’s pickled peppers?

Etc.

Relation and relevancy to my own life? I am crafting an e-mail to PBS to see if they can sequester the Super Readers solve this SUPER BIG PROBLEM with their varying skills:

How can Kate get a teaching job? Or any job?

Yes. If you find the glittery red Super Letters to solve that puzzle, please… help me out.

Otherwise, I am destined to mornings watching Super Why! with Eli. Forever.

Help?


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immensity

Immensity –> vastness, enormous extent; immeasurable, boundless.

I don’t know how I could come out of this unchanged — don’t ever believe someone who says that you can’t make a difference in two months. I’ve seen evidence of this, I carry it as truth. It also scares the hell out of me.

Ever feel like you’re playing witness to a situation or life from the outside? That’s the only way I can describe this confusing, can’t-quite-place-it, where am I, feeling of today: like I just spent two months as an outsider looking in on my own experience that I am now trying to comment on.

Really? Did that all just happen? The extreme is a bit audacious — one minute there are 93 students depending on me, the next morning there are none. It’s a fragile, life altering thing — teaching.

From day one, I felt set up for failure. There were stumbling blocks in my path coming every which way. Some I shared, and some I tucked into the crevasses of my heart — embarrassed and humbled and terrified that I just may not be able to do this. My first practicum was easy in comparison. I knew for months in advance what I was teaching, where I was going, how to work the photocopier, how to log onto the computers. This time? I knew for two weeks what I was teaching and did not have a computer log on until the second month. I felt like a yard sale on the first day, I simply had to trust that things would work out how they were supposed to — it’s the only thing I could semi-control.

But, like anything new, I learned more than I anticipated and was challenged the whole way through. I learned that what I cannot tolerate, I REALLY cannot tolerate… and thus, once in awhile heard a booming, stern voice coming from me even though I couldn’t recognize where the passion came from… this shocked me, and found me in the bathroom on a couple of occasions with tears! I didn’t know what I couldn’t handle until there I was, trying to handle it! Bullying each other and talking while others were speaking were the biggest ones — I felt my shoulders and neck muscles seizing every time one of my students was belittled, degraded, or ignored by his own peer. That is totally lost on me — how could they dare treat one another like that? The coolest part of my practicum was seeing this dissipate as my lack of tolerance for this behaviour and their trust in me made it okay to stop being cruel; to stop talking out of turn. There were good days and bad days but it was pretty powerful to witness progress…both academically and socially. Those kids were getting it and suddenly, the responsibility for themselves and eachother was quietly becoming their own.

Ask anyone and they’ll say they were blessed with the coolest kids. I would argue mine were better. 🙂 The demographic where I was opened my eyes to a truth that I’ve long since ignored — not everyone has parents like mine or families or homes or simple love. Slowly, but deliberately, my cozy haven of a world unraveled as I guided my classes into a collaborative, safe environment where they could share their truths — and some of those were really difficult to hear. I thrive on human connection and the weeks passed by with me not being able to leave the classroom at lunch because kids were forever stopping in to share. I wouldn’t say I am the most gifted teacher, I would argue anyone that would say I am any good… but I think my gifting and heart made the connections easy to form, yet how in the world do I walk away from them? Or do it, authentically, over and over again?

English was easy, social studies was hard. My teacher mentor for social studies fell ill and was unable to mentor me so I was teaching social studies 11 on my own, no guidance or insights into whether I was doing it “right” or not. It was an awkward, unfulfilled challenge — I felt like I was failing all over the place with no one to step in an catch me when I needed it. But someone trusted me and somehow, that was justified as ability. I couldn’t do it, could I? Immense.

Something else that mattered more that I thought it would was that I was not alone. My first practicum, as the only student teacher out there, my world felt so huge and full but some days were difficult to be motivated and confident in my ideas or concerns because I had no one to share them with. When I found out that Scott and I were placed at the same school, I think a few high fives were exchanged. Yet as the weeks progressed this fall, the privilege of teaching out there went beyond the kids and my practice but going through it with a good friend. I felt unworthy of the support, the drives along that windy road were shorter and shorter as having someone to share the experience with became a lifeline. It was hard and challenging…but I was inspired by Scott’s honesty and perseverance, especially when I felt like emotion and exhaustion were getting the better of me. I’m just glad it was him. Period. It was simply a privilege, having someone else to talk to, to listen to, to look forward to, who knew when things weren’t right, to care and share lunch with and remind me of my own truths when it all seemed to be too much; when it felt like I really was this outsider playing witness to something immense.

And then, having the rest of those I care about so close — it was really nice to teach “alongside” some of my favourite pre-service teachers…not in the same school, but being in the same city this time made hugs and conversations and Saturday morning visits and Friday nights to connect become a real dependency to know that everything would be okay. ‘Cause sometimes? It really felt like it wasn’t.

I am not quite sure what else I feel. I want that perfect song or right poem or rich cup of coffee that I can use to be a stand-in, something tangible, for an experience I have yet to grasp or really understand. All that I am sure of is that I am playing a role in something much, much bigger than myself and that in itself adds an element of grace to my life.

Feeling? Blessed. Tired. Exhausted. Sick. Thrilled. Inspired. Inferior. Old. Worthy. Unworthy. Stretched. Unsure. Able. Overwhelmed.

Grateful. I am feeling grateful. I learned so much. 2 months made a difference; all the difference in the world.

 

 

I am a teacher now. The immensity of that statement does little to understate my experience. It’s kinda cool though.

 

What now? “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ~Gilda Radner

 

Cheers.

 

 




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six in six

Finished six weeks of practicum so far, starting the seventh in about 2.5 hours and I’ve learned six things that I plan to elaborate on:

1. Being firm is difficult — I scare myself sometimes and have made myself cry (not in front of the kids, but later).

2. Support is invaluable; friend(s)/mentors who understand exactly what I am going through is an understated blessing.

3. I teach and lecture using my hands a lot.

4. There’s a balance between being selfless and selfish that I’m close to understanding — I am learning to care without getting emotional.

5. Sometimes being constantly challenged is not healthy (or so it feels, as I can barely keep my eyes open and it’s only Monday).

6. There is nothing cooler than adolescent youth.

 

… did I just say that?

 

Cheers!


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grateful

I have been feeling convicted lately. Partially because I am overwhelmed by how selfish being on practicum is (and trying to find the balance in that). The other part is feeling convicted by thankfulness. I was in church yesterday, fixating on how easy it is to say thank you but wondering how often I actually stop and think about how truly grateful I am. It is so simple to live abundantly with the grace and peace of knowing I’ve got many people and things to appreciate; many people and things that take care of me. But I don’t think very hard about it and what it actually means to me. Perhaps, dare I say it, I even take it for granted? I need to start thinking about where the food I eat comes from (and I don’t only mean the hands who prepare it) or where the leaves, that turn their vibrant shades at this time of year, fall from (and subsequently, make my heart a little more full). I was encouraging my students recently to question “why” when they were writing their essays and reading response journals. As I said “Don’t just write it for the sake of writing something down, explain it so I know you’ve questioned why and made some sort of connection…” that little, aha!/hypocritical, voice danced its way into the tapestry of my heart as this Thanksgiving was nearing ever-so-close: just like in an English paper, saying thank you and being grateful is one thing, but understanding and being able to explain why shows that I am not just saying thanks because I know I should but because I have thought about it enough to know just how meaningful my blessings are. I am human, I mess up a lot and am aware of my many faults, whether pointed out to me by others or not, but if there is one thing that I know myself I want to get better at is not taking for granted the parts of my life that are gifts. By gifts I mean the things that I don’t deserve. And that basically means everything.

I want to love deeper because I know how fragile life can be. I want to understand thoroughly because I am learning how much there is that I do not know. I want to apologize and forgive unconditionally because that means I care enough to move beyond. I want to love myself a little more everyday so that I can love others more wholly. And this Thanksgiving, I want to be especially thankful for the things in my life that I cannot control because no one is forcing them to be here, and yet they are anyway.

to parents ~ who love unconditionally
to siblings ~ who understand grace
to weston ~ who grounds me, life at 25 should be just as exciting as life at 11 months
to family ~ where there is a place to fall into; who make chaos oddly calm me down
to best friends ~ who make it easy to just be; to who my soul craves without realizing it until they are around
to new friends ~ who make me wonder where I was without you; from who I am learning the quiet strength of time can mean nothing… or everything?
to far away friends ~ who I never forget, but tend to ignore
to high school students ~ who captivate me, inspire me, frustrate me, and make me laugh
to sharing a ride; to phone calls ~ where sharing an experience is almost as important as the experience itself
to mentors ~ who challenge me and in turn, keep me humble
to the world around me ~ who I continually benefit from yet I don’t notice often enough
to the place I call home ~ where I forgot how much I missed it and all of you
to my health ~ kidney stones or not, I am blessed
to my dream ~ for coming true and keeping me busy for 6+ years
to people in customer service ~ who I value for impromptu conversation and smiles
to music, to books, to writing, to long drives, to the Lagoon ~ that remind me to appreciate simple quiet
to hope ~ that I catch hold of when I get anxious for the things I cannot control
to beach fires and large mugs of tea ~ things that have come to depend on
to God ~ for entrusting me with these

Happy Thanksgiving.


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twenty-five

Without much pomp and/or circumstance, I turned 25 yesterday. After a morning run where I ran into the rear of a deer, I opened a parcel from my family that has been sitting (unopened — are you surprised?) here since Wednesday, I spent the late morning hanging out with this cutie and his rad parents:

Eli

They took me to a market in Oak Bay and for an awesome sushi lunch. Perfect.

The afternoon consisted of fielding and enjoying the telephone calls from my overly awesome family and friends who just keep meaning more and more to me as my 24 years swiftly gave way to 25. From there I just hung around before the beach fire we had last night to celebrate the day. There is something about an evening that starts with the sunset and ocean waves crashing and people like this:

Celine

who is giving this look to:

Darcy

all the while stories are getting shared around the fire between me and these three:

Mark, Alison, Scott

I think Scott was talking about coaching football, passion accentuated by aggressive hand waving. And then, nights get better and better when seeing people I haven’t for awhile, like this guy:

Mao (with Carly behind)

all the while this is going on:

When these two showed up, after celebrating a Dad who shares the same special day with me:

Paul and Kristen

And I could never forget this one:

Celine and Glenn

And just a couple more so you get the point — great people and fantastic moments make these times, the best times:

Because when smiles like these:

lead to a grin like this:

and everyone is sitting there like this:

what does the evening end with, you ask? Well, stars instead of sun, high tide instead of low, and a little something like this:

It was a great day. 25 is going to be brilliant, just you wait.

Cheers!


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some summer snaps

Here’s some pictures from the K.C.S.O.U. (kate’s current summer of unemployment) thus far. Noteable moments so far? Countless beach fires, time with family, school ending, and getting a sun burn on the right side of my body yesterday while playing Scrabble at the lagoon (yes, only my right face cheek, arm, leg, and chest… so weird).

These pictures are from UVic’s summer institute (so my June school) when we went to the high ropes course up in Shawnigan, Josh’s wedding, a couple beach fires, and yes, more fishing excursions. Hopefully the captions work and tell you what’s up.

Anyway… enjoy!

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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)