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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resolution ’13

It is fascinating, the whole idea of new years, new perspectives, and pressure to ‘change’ or ‘goal set’ or determine something BIG to shape the next 12 months (or however far into the foreseeable future that you allow yourself to ‘plan’ for). I think every January I’ve posted something about what I resolve to do in the upcoming year. However, it was only in a recent conversation with someone that I faced the fact that I think resolutions are ridiculous. Yes, I believe being adaptable and actively seeking growth is important and reflection is crucial to my own understanding of ‘success’. But to actually create a list of all the ways I need to get it together always turns into more of a personal pep talk or worse, talking myself into insecurity over all the ways that I may have messed up the previous year. Not that commiserating over my shortcomings isn’t valuable at times but really… do I really think it’s an important ritual: starting a new year by focusing on all the failures of the last? Hmm. So here’s my thought process –

Commitment – isn’t that what resolutions actually are? Making a commitment, rather than setting a goal, to changing something. Or re-evaluating a part of our existence that might need a little guidance. Sure, it might simply be saying the same thing as I argue against in my previous paragraph. However, I like a good challenge – I am a very committed, loyal, determined person and somehow, ‘committing to’ instead of ‘resolving to’ is going to be a little more realistic for me. And simply: I only have one commitment to this new year, 2013, the year I turn – shame – 28.

I was thinking and praying a lot over the winter holidays about relationship. What does ‘being in relationship’ with people actually mean? What do I bring to the ones I am a part of? How much do I value the relationships in my life and what amount of me is filled by the love and grace that others give to me? Am I worthy…are we worthy…of Jesus’ love and grace, especially in moments when we tend to forget Him? How can I be blessed by but not filled by my earthly relationships? Do those I care for, know how hard it can be? Oh yes –

No answers. It’s really just a thinking/talking point but my heart seems very focused on the meaning of relationship in my life. Because I value the thoughtful and meaningful part of being in relationship with someone, and my love language being quality time, it’s been an interesting question for me to render… relationship, Christ, me, you, value, perseverance, grace, love, patience, pride, change, growth…and how each part woven together is an overwhelming responsibility…but a blessed one. And relationship? Is it okay to admit that sometimes, I just don’t know how?

How to be selfless?
How to be gracious?
Forgive?
Laugh even when it’s hard?
Make room for more new people – when the old are just fine?
How to listen all the time?
Make it through hard moments?
Not miss the ones I miss as much?
How to make time to be grateful for those who’ve given me so much?

Words of a beloved Christmas tune seemed to surround me through this pre-2013 holiday contemplation:

truly He taught us to love one another..

and again:

truly He taught us to love one another..

No questions anymore really, that’s pretty much it.

Going into the new year, that is my simple commitment: to be more intentional in my relationships. To give grace freely, to trust completely, to listen wholly, to remember and be thoughtful, to be present, to recognize each relationship for what large and intimate or small and distant role they have, and to love unconditionally and intentionally all those who have chosen me.

Relationships with intention.

Because that’s the way it was intended to be.

sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise [I]

catching up

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Hellllo, anyone out there? With November came an honest effort to get some balance back in my life, including doing some of the things I’ve been neglecting – such as blogging. Now it is November 12th and I’m actually getting it together. I think I will make this a regular thing. 🙂
Actually, I am  just looking for more excuses to play on my new MacBook. Fun!
I am settling in. That’s probably the best way to describe the monotony of newness in my life right now. “They” say that it takes about 6 weeks before the routines and expectations of being a teacher “click” and everyday doesn’t seem so difficult or tiring. Well, just like when I learned how to drive a standard, it took me closer to 8 weeks but I am finally feeling like I am not run off my feet EVERY single day. Honestly, I have the best class imaginable for my first year – but with report cards (what I am supposed to be doing now), parents, trip planning, assessment, and simply preparing for every class, it is exactly what I mentioned above: monotony of newness.
Some notable moments (I wish I could blog in detail but running the risk of defying confidentiality is much too great):
– I tried to make the kids caramel apples for hallowe’en. Mom used to do this for all of us kids and a few of our friends every year and since I am teaching at my old school, I thought I would continue the tradition. Unfortunately, in my quest to make the caramel soft and delicious, the caramel sagged right off the apples. The kids didn’t care but, as Jack’s caught, aesthetics to me is everything and I was devastated by how gross they looked.
– My class lead the school in the Remembrance Day celebrations and, after looking at the agenda from years past, I decided to do away with the seemingly-obligatory-but-not singing of “In Flanders Fields” and made a video of my class talking about what freedom and remembrance mean. The video was followed by a somber reading, some sharing of words that represent freedom, and my darling girls singing Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”. I might be biased, but it was POWERFUL. It was an incredibly silent and respectful event as I tried to work with my kids about getting away from thinking of Remembrance Day as remembering war and more of remembering the price that has been paid. ANYWAY, I want to provide you with the video of the service but you’ll have to ask; I can’t post it online. I am so proud of those kids.
– Letting go. I know it sounds silly but just as I’ve made a turn in my comfort in teaching, I’ve also been able to relax a little bit on being stern. That is not my first nature as a teacher so now that routines are set, I am easing into being a little less strict and a little more Kate.
Either way… I am blessed. Incredibly blessed. Come see for yourself, eh? 🙂

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welcome to my home.

Yes. That is what I’ve been waking up to! Can you believe it? I am grateful that I am now driving that white SUV there (a RAV4 for inquiring minds) instead of my old dear Bella – who I sold, fortunately. The cabin living is growing on me. I am having a relatively easy time maintaining the fire and not waking up to every gunshot or growl or engine revving that goes on out in these parts. There is also a resident bear. I think things would be different if I lived out here on my own but my friends whose property the cabin sits on and their two kids have been such a blessing; I am enjoying the laid back life of living in the woods.

Except the horrible cell service and Internet connection. Oh well, not the end of the world.

What else?

I am 45% done my Christmas shopping! I am so excited about this endeavour this year; having two nephews makes it double the fun. And more than that, I am anxious for Christmas in all ways. I can’t wait to skate on Lake Kathlyn and see Luke and Joce and sweet Annabelle again and – ahem – have my kids be the starring class in the Christmas pageant…all before going home for 10 days to my family and being cozy in Penticton. I can’t believe it’s almost upon us; I am grateful for what 2011 has brought me… the list is so long.

Anyway,

That’s the catch up for today – more to come.

Cheers.

K.


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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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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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fun is educational

We had dinner over at Trav and Chrissy’s the other night before playing (and winning… no big deal) a few games. I always get excited about invites to the Simpson’s because, in addition to their insanely handsome and hilarious son Eli, Chrissy is one of the best cooks I know. The best part is she makes some really weird things that always taste exceptionally delicious. Wednesday was no exception; in the car on the way over I said to Luke how curious and excited I was to see what was for dinner. Anyway, she made pineapple salsa, which was to die for, and a chicken soup where we put different veggies (I think you call them veggies?) on top… kind of like a spicy Mexican taco only the toppings went on soup, not in a shell. Interessssting. With Travis’ commentary, Eli’s dance moves (and fascinated staredown at Luke), this dinner was amazing. But the coolest thing were all the random ingredients that were in the dinner. Like I said, fun can be an education, so I’ve provided a list of definitions of what I learned that night for your own educational pleasure:

1. hominy- is dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali. Mexican recipes describe a preparation process consisting primarily of cooking in lime-water. The process removes the germ and the hard outer hull from the kernels, making them more palatable, easier to digest, and easier to process.

2. tomatillo – is a plant related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos, referred to as green tomato in Mexico, are a staple in Mexican cuisine.

3. jicama – also Yam and Mexican Turnip, is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant’s edible tuberous root.

4. radish – is an edible root vegetable of the Brassicaceae family that was domesticated in Europe in pre-Roman times. They are grown and consumed throughout the world (JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN’T KNOW).

5. wine – fermented grape juice.

6. corn bread – is a generic name for any number of quick breads (a bread leavened by an acid-base reaction, rather than by yeast) containing cornmeal.

7. friendship – s the cooperative and supportive relationship between people. In this sense, the term connotes a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, affection, and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Friends will welcome each other’s company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism.

8. poor losers/mean to kate in ‘the bucket king’ – Luke and Travis.

9. good host – Chrissy.

10. best dancer – Eli.


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breyers

Hi Trav, Chrissy, and Luke:

I did some re-con work at the store… and followed up with some google slash wikipedia-ing. There ya go. Bring on the inexpensive real ice cream!

Although promoting itself as a ‘natural ice cream’ in the past; like some of their competitors, many Breyers flavors have recently been reformulated with cheaper nontraditional ingredients. These changes include the addition of tara gum and replacement of real cream with skim milk. As these products now consist mainly of milk and skim milk rather than milk and cream they can no longer legally be called ‘ice cream’ and are instead labeled as ‘frozen dairy dessert’.

For example: All Natural- Uses all-natural ingredients derived from natural sources, however, not as natural as they used to be (for example, ‘Chocolate Flavored Chips’ and the addition of Tara Gum as a stabilizer to promote a creaminess for cost-cutting measures).

You’re welcome,

Kate


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of friends

Good friends. I hope that’s one of the most memorable parts of my life — good friends. My favourite friend Jocelyn and her favourite man, Jordie, came over for dinner with me and my other favourite friend, Luke and it was awe-some. I actually can’t say enough about it. I’m always looking for that first moment where Christmas truly begins and coming after the birth of my nephew, last night was the second of those catalysts for me.

There is such a blessing of watching someone bring out the best in another and watching Joce and Jordie be that for each other is so special. Or forever learning more about the person Luke is. And conversation fueled by not seeing each other often, good wine and lots and lots of laughter, makes it hard not to liken the mixture to the sweet taste of eggnog and the coziness of fireplaces and snow buried toes. Christmas is in the air, did you know?

I guess what I mean is that I want to make sure my life is accompanied by good friends, along with everything else that I dream of, live for, desire, or believe in. And I think metaphors that contain anything relating to Christmas rings success in life on a whole other level. Have I ever told you how blessed I am?

(We had lasagna and lava cakes if you were wondering. You can even come next time)

Cheers!


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10 reasons a trip-to-smithers makes me smile large

…and laugh out loud.

10. Nana double-fisting red wine. She’s not actually drinking it, but she is a firecracker.DSC00647

9. Going for lunch with Shirley and Linda at Javas and then not leaving until 3 or 4 hours later because of table hopping after they left between Matt, Sue, Alana, Megan, Melissa, Cole, Janelle, and Kristin. It took a little while getting used to being in a town where you’re bound to run into people you know no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

8. Meeting some of the most beautiful “I’ve only ever heard about or seen pictures of” children: Gabriella, Riley John, Amya Annabelle, Grace Willow, Malia Ann, and Dayton Karl. It was so fun to meet and cuddle these kids. Here’s Riley making no secret who he’s supporting in the playoffs:DSC00626

And the new babies:

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And Miss Amya, posing away:

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7. Visits with my aunts. And cousins. And Uncles. 5 years changes people… and it was super cool to get to know my aunts as adults or fit into the life of my cousins, like Morgan (I stayed with the Marshalls), if only for a breath. Same with the Pedersons, it was awesome to spend time with them all as well, it had been forever since I had seen most of them.

6. Hiking. I wanted to get out and do more but being a visitor in your hometown is difficult and I find a whole week can pass just sitting on my butt visiting. It’s NOT a bad thing, but the day that Darcy and I went on a walk near the Silvern Lakes trail was the best.

5. Derek and Billy. I never knew how close (bordering awkward) those two are and they made me laugh the whole week I was there with their crib tournament, efforts to find Billy a job, and all around ridiculousness. On my last night they recorded themselves rapping a myriad of videos and they rapped one about Darcy, Auntie Carolene, Mallory, and I (who were eating ice cream downstairs). I wish they would let me have/post the video but they didn’t like that idea. Anyways, the line about me went something like this:

“Kate Stam, why are you even here?
You’re how old, still no career?

Your Civic blows,
I can go faster than it on my tippy toes”

And Mallory’s:

“We don’t have much time to talk about Mallory
Go to the gym, BURN SOME CALORIES!”

Hilarious. Ask them to see it.

4. Old friends. Period. Like Michael or Eric.. It takes a little bit sometimes but you find your way, some little way, to connect with eachother again. And new friends too.

3. Getting my car cleaned. Period. 😉 They treated Bella like the princess she is.

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2. Going out to the farm. The farm always feels like my home away from home and I missed it. And I even got to go TWICE. Seems like a tease though, I don’t think I can ever get enough of my Uncle Orv’s wisdom and encouragement. Among all the other fun things about being there.

1. That no matter how stupid and frustrating it is to have BOTH front tires pop in Williams Lake and be delayed almost three hours of my drive home, a week in Smithers is exhausting, overwhelming, awesome, and busy… in the best way possible. Hopefully it won’t be another 2.5 years til I am back? 🙂 Fun, I recommend it.

Here’s some more:

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And just because they might be new readers:

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(Sorry, I am no Lucy when it comes to pictures so I have about 45 of Riley and Amya at lunch, and then never took anymore… I am not used to having a camera so I am a disappointment, I realize that now looking at these pictures. OH WELL)