Saturday, April 30, 2011

Committees

Many committees have a well deserved bad reputation.......

To get something done a committee should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent.  ~Robert Copeland


A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours.  ~Milton Berle
  

I am just sitting on the couch after a long conference day  - 10 hours!  And it was a great success for the most part (not sure what to do with the evaluation that asked us to do a workshop on make-up and put on a fashion show - at an Early Childhood Conference - the same person asked for Vietnamese sandwiches and falafel for lunch????).  People left the day inspired and rejuvenated and ready to pour more of themselves into the children they work with....... what could be better than that?

This conference was put on by a committee!! 

Not just a small committee but one of over 15 people from a wide range of child care programs and support services.  I have never served on a committee with such passion and enthusiasm and contacts and ideas and talent.  Most of them were there the full 8 hours today and not one of them complained once.  Most of the time they were asking how they could help and what they could do....... happily pitching in with whatever had to be done.

And on top of that they are alot of fun to be with, just really great people! We get to hang out when the work is done and the delegates are in workshops and I so enjoy the conversations.  We share stories and have a few good laughs.

As I said in the closing remarks at the conference today - they bust every bad myth about committees!!  

My business partner Joyce and I do many conferences with a variety of clients and committees and we have seen some crazy stuff but this committee is our very favourite to work with (which is lucky because we work for free!) - we actually look forward to this conference every year.

Hats of to you Richmond Child Care Training Committee - you ROCK!!



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Awareness

There is a statement that my therapist brought to my attention that I find to be so true. 
"You can't undo awareness"
I know its not rocket science .... once he said it I was thinking in my head "Duh"..... but really I have often lived my life as through I could undo or ignore awareness.

I think we have all had those moments when we suddenly know something, learn something, get something  - that AH HA moment.  Sometimes it is so exhilarating and you feel that immense surge from a breakthrough "Yes!! I got it"..... or maybe the wave of relief to find you can do something or that something you hoped was true turns out to be so.  There are also those moments of being aware of something greater or of yourself in relation to something..... those existential moments when you feel connected to the greater world - I think it often happens in nature.... that feeling of awe at the greatness and vastness of something that makes you feel small but grateful at the same time.  My faith also gives me that.

The statement is so true that many many organisations use "Awareness" in their campaigns - because they know once you know the information on Autism/Breast Cancer/Eating Disorders/Bullying/Racism etc etc etc...... you know and therefore you can act. If you choose.

There are also times when the awareness you come to is like an axe breaking your head open.  It's harsh, it's unexpected and it's painful beyond belief.  Be it news of terminal illness or betrayal or death or being fired or something else unexpected (like a Tsunami I imagine). Whether it is to you or to a family member or a friend.... we all feel these moments differently and to different degrees.  For a while your brain doesn't allow you to feel the awareness - it shields you from the stark reality of your changed world.  Thank goodness, because I think few of us would survive the complete awareness of devastating fact in the first moments.  Sometimes our brain tricks us into not seeing what is obvious and the awareness dawns slowly but at some point it is suddenly there..... and there is no going back.

But some of us,..... ok me specifically......, then try to live as though the awareness is false or will be short-lived or kid ourselves we can live as though the awareness never happened and we can somehow recapture the pre-awareness state...... I have found this to be fruitless waste of time.

What one has to do, I think,  is come to terms with the awareness and decide how to respond. 

I had lunch with  friend today who came to a stunning awareness about herself, something inside of her she did not know but which she has faced head on, through tremendous pain and with amazing strength - she is living with with her new, joyful and peaceful, awareness, not trying to undo it.  She made me proud to be her friend and she is an example for me of living with my own awareness and dealing with it.  I am grateful for her and for her openess about her journey.

May your awareness bring you joy and peace today!  If not, may this silly cartoon below at least bring you a smile!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - My Tuesday Little Peeps

Lindsay and Stella

Ben, Quinn, David and Arlo  
Allan, Penelope and Sola

David and Arlo

Liam

An old photo of Lily - but I love how it shows her personality

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Numbers

Just typing that gave me flashbacks to LOST - those creepy numbers....... (shiver).

Here are some blog numbers that blogger so nicely keeps for me..... I find these numbers very interesting and quite startling at the same time.......there is a graphic on the stats page that shows the hits on a graph and my little blog has a steady little heartbeat...... plods along with the odd spike but is pretty predictable now. 

The thing that continues to amaze me is WHAT sparks people's interest (usually catches me by surprise actually) and what does not........ I do LOVE the feedback and comments...... its cool to hear other people's stories and perspectives.....even the odd disagreement is ok!

So as of today:

4028 hits (mine are excluded to avoid the temptation to bump the numbers up...... not that I would..... of course :)

Places the people are reading the blog in (In order of most to least)
1. Canada (shocking I know! - you are not just numbers to me.......thanks for being friends too)
2. USA (odd because I only know 4 families in the USA - Hello Gates/Burtons/Langmans and Kelmans)
3. South Africa (They remember me..... ok most of them are Byres Family Members)
4. UK (a curious group - includes Kriges and Coss Clan members)
5. Australia (Aunts/Uncles and Cousins!!!! and a few friends)
6. Malaysia (I have no idea who you are but Thank You for reading)
7. Norway (Hello Garratts)
8. Tanzania (Hello Owens Tribe)
9. Denmark (not sure who this is - Anna???)
10. Italy (which will evaporate when the Fruhlings return from their Italian Odyssey)
11. Haiti (I made them look once......)

Most viewed post:
1. This Wordless Wednesday Post - I am trying not to be offended it was photos and not my witty and insightful writing that won top spot....... I suspect my mother clicked on this multiple times (and Lindsay too).
2. 2nd spot is a tie between 3 witty and insightful posts : Cultural Identity, Intention (which was also the post most often searched on Google) and Balance.

Geek Stats........
Pageviews by Browser
Firefox (by far)
Safari
Internet Explorer (distant 3rd)

Pageviews by Operating System
Windows (by far)
MacIntosh
iPhone
Blackberry
iPad (wonder how this will move up the ratings int he next few months)

So there you have it.......BUT...... what does it all mean???

Monday, April 25, 2011

649 View

Dream a little with me here....... I can't be the only person who has imagined winning the 649 lottery...... The first thing I always imagine is how much money all my friends and relatives will need to be comfortable and then I imagine the house that "I" will build or where I will live.

Mostly I imagine having a view of water....... I love the relentless rolling of the ocean and the soundtrack of the crashing and sucking back of the waves over the sand........



But I also love the the many vistas of the ever-changing tidal river at the mouth of the Fraser River in Steveston..... and all the life it attracts and the "traffic" on the river..... I imagine I could sit on a wide porch and watch the changing scenes for hours.



But there is something so tranquil about a lake.  I especially love the changing light from dawn to dusk and that absolute stillness that mirrors everything on its banks and in the sky above......



After a weekend in the mountains I have to admit the thrill and awe I feel staring up at rugged, snowy peaks towering against a blue sky..... hard not to feel in proportion to my existence on this earth, a mere speck at the foot of towering majesty..... It might be good for me to look out at this everyday.



And there is the built environment - watching a city skyline come to life in the morning and then settle into its twinkling splendor as the sun sets and the lights come on and then watch even those fade in the wee hours of the morning....but not completely...... I like to think there is always someone else up and about no matter the time of day..... and there is so much people watching in an urban landscape which is fascinating.



So........ I have no idea where I would chose to live if I won the 649...........and seeing as I hardly ever buy a ticket I obviously am happy (remember this?) where I am..... I love my little house, in my neighbourhood, in this part of the world where I can see all of the above (ok not the waves unless its very windy) EVERY day...... 

I hope you enjoyed this little daydream on this dreary day....... I'd love to know what view you would choose.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

4x4 Adventure

We were at the Cabin for 2 nights this weekend.  It is our place of refuge from the world.  We find we can just relax and unwind up there like nowhere else.  Sometimes we make plans to do stuff that are usually shelved as we find the comfy couches in front of the fire just too lovely to leave.....

But this weekend the sunshine beckoned us outside and we decided to go on adventure in search of Jones Lake - a fishing spot Allan has long wanted to check out.  So we headed down the highway to the turn off and almost right away we ignored our first clue.....the sign for the Jones Lake Recreation area had a huge CLOSED sign nailed across it.  Not to worry - we just wanted to see the lake not recreate in it...... we whizzed by undeterred.  The whizzing ended pretty abruptly as the road deteriorated as it climbed steeply.  I should add that my parents were following in their low slung Ford Taurus so every bump that rocked our truck rocked them more!!  Every time we thought the road was just too bad to carry on it suddenly smoothed out a bit and we were lured on up the mountain..... and were greatly rewarded with this view of towering snowy peaks - they took my breath away!!




We had eventually bumped and thunked up 7km when we came to a fork in the road and ignored our second clue - a stop sign barely visible in a snowbank...... the snow was THAT high!



At this point we abandoned the Taurus and all piled into the truck as the "road" deteriorated further into a rutted track through the snow.  David sitting on my lap leaned out of the window trying to catch the snow piles....





Incredible we came to the lake at last and found a collection of cabins and cars and even a tent on the shore.  Turning around now became a bit of an issue.... but Allan made a brave 3 pointer and we were headed back down the track.....



Shortly we had to pass a car - an old beater with 3 young people in it - we both pulled into the snow to pass - as we passed they stopped to ask us how the road was up ahead.  Allan told them it got pretty rough and they probably wouldn't make it much further.  My Dad asked if they had a tow rope in case and the driver answered...."No but we do have those Girl Guide Cookies".....and then pulled off to continue into the snow ahead.  We laughed for miles down the track wondering how they were managing in the deep snow and how exactly the GG cookies were working for them!!

We made it back to the Taurus and my thighs were delighted to be rid of David's bony butt.  We helped clean up the roadside on the way down..... such a mess all that wood lying around......




So now we know where Jones Lake is and maybe in August we'll make the trek again.....or some of us will!  It was lovely to be out in the wilderness and have a good scare or too and a few good laughs.

Sun on snow

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Bunny

Who is silly enough to wade into a debate on the Thursday of a long weekend and during a pivotal hockey game.....Why me, of course!!

This is the first year we do not have to do the Easter Bunny routine.....and I am a bit sad.  I know there are many that believe the children in Christian homes should not be exposed to Santa and the Easter bunny.  I think the argument goes that it takes away from the true message and meaning of the day or that it may somehow confuse the children.  We certainly considered this when we had to make the choice for our children.

We decided a little wonder and a little "magic" would add to our children's childhood memories and we were confident we could still instill in them the foundations of our faith.

Of course we never do anything by halves so we have done some elaborate Easter Egg Hunts, Santa experiences and even the tooth fairy (each of children had their own) experiences were involved.  Letters were written to the kids and they wrote back, even one pretty mad one from the Easter Bunny when we went to the Cabin and didn't tell him........

I asked Lindsay for her thoughts:
I think people need to trust kids to differentiate between the real meaning of Easter or Christmas and a little bit of fun.  I was in no way harmed by the the Easter Bunny or Santa and if anything it added to the happy memories that I will have of my childhood.  We can balance what is real and what is not and I think its worth it to let us try.

Both our kids are solid in their faith and they have some pretty hilarious and fun memories (and so do we - parenting can be really hard so sometimes it just plain fun to add a bit of a spark and some magic).  But this year there will no creeping around in the dark hiding little foil eggs to be found, I am not even taking the Easter baskets down.......

But never fear..... there......WILL.....be ..........chocolate........


And we will remember that Jesus died for our sins and then rose again on the third day - HE is RISEN!!!

May you enjoy the long weekend and if you celebrate Easter may you be blessed. 

Happy Easter


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Seeds of Faith

 A few weeks ago,  during our supposed "Spring Break", in a burst of homesteading zeal we planted our veggie seeds.  We out these tiny little seeds into the well prepared ground.  A bold move on our part - on any gardeners part - it takes faith to plonk things in the ground that are barely visible and believe carrots and lettuce and beans and peas will grow .........


Our faith was certainly tested last week when temperatures dipped below zero and we had sleet, snow, frost and cold , cold rain.  Others proclaimed their delight that they had delayed their planting.  I was starting to doubt the wisdom of early planting.

BUT

Yesterday I went out to water the baby plants in the incubators inside and lo and behold........

Baby Parsley
And then I was watering outside and the bed looks like the day it was started - nothing to see......

BUT....... than I spied these......





And ironically they are ......

For years I didn't eat peas, or anything green....... (I do now) but I think its funny the peas showed up first!


and THEN it hailed today.... I haven't been home yet but I sure hope these tender shoots of promised peas survived the onslaught!!!

I also want to give a nod to this audacious tulip that inserted itself in my front garden........ from which I thought I had removed all the bulbs, dug down, laid felt and soil  and wood chips, planted all new shrubs  and somehow this bulb defied the odds and is showing off its sunny self for all to see.......





THEY say its warming up and going to be sunny so maybe more will spring from the earth soon....... I have faith that it will............

Monday, April 18, 2011

Two Tales of Tutu

What a lovely exchange after my Blog Post yesterday (for those of you who can see it on FaceBook) so many great and interesting perspectives from Jackie and Krissy and Caileen and Fiona - thank you all.

Fiona's post took me down memory lane for a little stroll.  Before I take you there, I want to say that Fiona (or Fi as we called when we were allowed to not call her Mrs.Bulman) and her husband Rod have been family friends for almost 30 years (oh my goodness this cannot be true can it???).  They have 2 beautiful daughters Rosemary and Sarah (aka Rosie and Bear) who were like little sisters to my sister and I and were the flower girls at my wedding (if only I knew how to scan a photo of them in here.... Rosie did me the honor of wearing a dress which was a BIG deal for her!).  Rod and Fi lived on a Seminary Campus in the middle of a black township called Imbali outside of Pietermaritzburg.  My Mom ran the preschool there and Rosie was one of the first children enrolled and to this day she calls my Mom "Teacher Lesley".

During the terrible turmoil of the 80's as the political situation went sideways Rod and Fi would often send the girls to stay with us (in our relatively safe white suburb) and made my parents the girls guardians.  Rod and Fi stayed put on the Seminary campus in solidarity with their colleagues and friends.  Fi and I share the story of both being arrested on the same day in a student protest at the University I attended and Fi taught at.  I remember seeing Fi (or rather Fi seeing me) in the holding hall at the police headquarters and I can still hear her voice saying "Does your Mother know where you are?" (She did not... but that is a whole other story!!) I love FB for connecting us back to all 4 Bulmans - the girls are married and Sarah just had a baby!!

Anyway.... Fi wrote this about my blog in "Names" yesterday......

Hi Nicky - must comment on your "names" thoughts. One of the most profound moments in my life - and seminal in the development of my political position in the 80s was when Desmond Tutu spoke at the Fedsem graduation and he spoke directly to those men and (a few) women whowere graduating and going on into parishes. He said "You must stand at the door of that church each Sunday and greet everyone who comes through the door by name - because that may be the only time during the week that that person is acknowledged by their name." Our names are so central to our identity and our sense of being, belonging and being valued.


I too have a Tutu Tale to Tell...... sorry ...... I couldn't resist the alliteration (english geek!).  If you are not familiar with "The Toots" (trust me when I tell you he may be an Archbishop and an Elder and a Nobel Peace Prize winner but he would love to be called The Toots - I can see him laughing now!!) read his bio here and be amazed!  You have to see his smile so just go there.......you will be inspired.

Being the daughter of anti-apartheid activists as I was (see aforementioned arrest ;) I was a huge fan of  Desmond Tutu and his stand for justice and peace in South Africa.  So when I heard he was coming to a conference, arranged by my Dad's organisation and in my hometown, I volunteered to help.  I took quite a bit of flack at school for The Toots.....principled stands do not make friends of all people, especially not of those who stand to lose something in order for justice to be served. 

I showed up for one of my volunteer shifts with high hopes of seeing the Archbishop and maybe hearing him give a speech.  One of the organizers asked if I could please take a cup of tea to a delegate who was in an office down the hall.  Slightly disappointed to be a tea bearer I headed down there (I was a well mannered young lady).  I came into the office  and saw the back of the diminutive Archbishop who was, at that moment, singing to his wife Leah on the phone.  To my credit I didn't drop the tea!  He asked Leah to hold on and took the tea from me and thanked me so much for my kindness.  I stammered "You're welcome" and left him to chat to his wife.

I was on cloud 9 - I had served Desmond Tutu tea!

I was standing at a table helping out when he came  down the hallway tea cup in hand.  The organiser took him aside and then called me over.  My heart was thumping.  Then Garnet Venn said to Desmond Tutu "This young lady has been taking a bit of heat for you at school Archbishop (Garnet'sdaughter was in my class) and I know she would like to meet you properly". The  Archbishop put down his tea cup and came over to me and gave me a huge bear hug and said "Oh dear, the things I do to my friends, I sincerely apologise".  I hugged him back and told him "It is my privelege to stand up for you Sir because you stand for what I believe".  Desmond looked at Garnet and said "My friend, our future will be ok, the next generation will show us the way!".

One of the Top 10 days of my life!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Names

Yesterday my Business Partner Joyce and I (and our trusty helper David) printed, alphabetized, decorated and assembled all the name badges for one of our upcoming conferences.  It is a tedious task, one we have done SO many times.  We have pretty good system down.  This conference is called Circles of Caring and last year I foolishly cut all the name badges into circles out of that thin foam stuff and hand wrote  all 200 names...... never again.....this time I bought lots of lovely circle stickers and we had fun sticking them to the usual name badge shape. I like how they turned out - each one is unique!




As I print the names and assemble the badges I think of the person..... I know a good number of these people and some I just know because they come every year and I recognise their name.  Sometimes we stumble over the names, sometimes we wonder about their heritage, we observe that "Smith" has given way to "Wong" as the most common name.......When they arrive at conference they line-up by last name but seeing as I have dealt with their names so often through the registration process I can usually greet them by first name too - it takes some of them by surprise.

It strikes me that a name is such a powerful thing. 

This is not big news, I realise - anyone who has named a child (or a pet) knows the agony that that process can be.  I know I nearly drove Allan crazy because for me, the name must mean something, there must be a connection and the initials cannot spell anything...... and for his part, as a teacher, he has taught to many kids that he has a good number of names that conjure such negative images/thoughts etc that he struck them from THE LIST.


I have been working on using people's names in my encounters with them.  Not just saying "Hi, How are you?" but actually focusing on that encounter and saying "Hi Kim, How are you?"   My office is badly oriented and my back is to my office door when I am on the computer and so as people are coming in in the morning they say "Hello" or "Good Morning" and by the time I swivel around they have gone by the door -  I used to mumble something back to whomever it was but now I am looking up as I hear the door open and trying to greet everyone by name.  It's not for them.... really.... but for me... I want to connect meaningfully with people around me at work, at Jazzercise, when shopping etc.  I am not that social of a person so I never used to ask people's names but now I do, often, and it makes a big difference (even on the phone). It forms the connection right away and people feel noticed.

Of course blogging takes that away - I don't know who is reading and when..... so I can't greet you by name, but I am no less thankful for your connection to my writing.  To those who have written back, or commented,  I thank you for connecting back to me - it's a very neat part of this whole experience for me.

Thanks for reading today..... Hope you had a great weekend.

Nicky

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Inspired!

I am utterly exhausted........... 

It was BIG game day out in Florida and Cambie has been doing so well at the World Robotics Championships..... but I was going to have a bit of a sleep in and then my friend and business partner Joyce was coming over so we could work on conference stuff for a few hours....... and we did do that although I was totally distracted by the streaming video from Orlando.....

It's the second World Championships for Cambie and their first goal was to get out of the qualifying rounds.  They did this in incredible style by being in the top 10 in their division - one of them was 4th!!! They all advanced to quarter finals.... Yippee - Goal accomplished........ one team went out in incredibly well played and close matches.....

2 teams made it to the semi finals - Goal exceeded....... but they were playing the best teams in the whole competition - that's the luck of the draw..... but they tied it up 1-1 in the best of 3 match..... David and I were beside ourselves watching.....and then they lost the 3rd match.  SO close - what heartbreak in the moment!! 

I assume they headed off to watch the finals with somewhat heavy hearts even though they had come so far:
3600 teams played in VEX tournaments this year, 460 made it to Worlds and 2 Cambie teams were in the final 24....... up against teams that have WAY more experience and WAY more money....... it truly is an amazing feat!!!

And then at the Final Award Ceremony the CEO of NASA got up on stage to give out the Inspire Award.  He paid an amazing tribute to this team, they sounded so great and THEN he ended with the words "and they are about as sweet as a box of Timbits".  I sat right up as Timbits is one of the Cambie teams names... and sure enough he called out Team 1107B as the winners!!!  I screamed and David and I jumped up and down.......  this is what the Inspire Award is for:







Inspire Award
The Inspire Award will be given to a team that demonstrates outstanding leadership through action to other teams. This team will be identified by their peers as a leader in innovative and creative design in the robotics community. This team serves as an example to others and embraces the concept of cooperative learning. Cooperative Learning will be based on inspiring other teams’ designs or openly sharing their design ideas with others. While local/regional events are permitted to give this award, it will be given primarily at the World Championship. In order for a team to be eligible for this award, they must post their design ideas throughout the season on the VEX Forum. Teams will be given stronger consideration based on how early and often they post their designs. The Judging panel will interview potential recipients (at World Championship), based on the nominations through team balloting, and choose the team that stands out as the most worthy recipient.
Key Criteria:
1) Proven record of posting design features at the VEX Forum
2) Pictures and content posted at VEX Forum
3) Nominations from other teams
4) Observations of design inspiration by referees and other field personnel
 
I don't know about you but I always wished to win those awards that were about character or integrity or service and not just about winning.... and this is one of those .... it says more about them as people than about how amazing their robot was..... and that lasts way longer and goes much deeper.  I am SO VERY PROUD of the boys and Allan for all they accomplished.

I also love how technology allowed us to "be there" and share in it all - it was neat to share in it all. 

But now my neck is all knotted up and I am exhausted and have done very few of things I wanted to get done today..... oh well...... now the lovely Penny is here so I am off to play with her for a while and settle my jangled nerves!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Game Day

I just ran a quick errand for work at the Mall and it is a sea of Green, Blue and White!! It feels like everyone is wearing their Canucks jerseys today for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  For those "not from here" the Canucks are Vancouvers British Columbia's National  Hockey League (NHL) Team. (Ice Hockey obviously).

And boy do we love them this season!!  Ok some people, you know who you are, love them ALL the time and never jump the bandwagon.  But this season there is no space left on the bandwagon as the Canucks finished the regular season with the highest number of points and have had just an amazing season.  And now in the first round of the playoffs we face our old nemesis the Chicago Blackhawks.

This is how we like the Blackhawks......Chasing us.....

We beat them 2 - 0 in Game 1 thanks, in part, to our incredible goalie Roberto Luongo or Loooouuuuuu as we like to say (which sounds like Boooooo but isn't)....so tonight is Game 2.... its a big psychological hurdle for us..... we need to win this thing....



Looouuuuuuuuuu 
I know it's "just" hockey but I do love they way it makes everyone come together for a positive moment.  Like the Olympics did, like World Cup Cricket and Rugby do..... I love how we can forget many of our differences and conflicts and all cheer for a team.  I was so struck with how India and Pakistan, traditionally
not best friends, united to cheer on the game of cricket in the recent world cup... I have always thought if I had to do a research project I would like to study the psychology of this phenomenon. 

Of course it is all lovely until the team loses and then we spend hours dissecting them and analyzing what went  wrong over and over and over and over. Ask the South African Cricket Team about that - not to mention the infamous Vancouver Riots when we lost a hockey game (ok a BIG hockey game).

So a few people in this town are pretty antsy at the moment...... I can't watch.. it makes me too nervous.  I have my Junior Youth boys tonight so I will be distracted by karaoke with 11 year olds until after the game. 

To tell the truth I have been antsy all day watching the Cambie Robotics Teams scream up the leader boards in Orlando at the Vex World Robotics Championships.... they are doing so incredibly well.  I even caught a couple of their matches online today and videoed them.....I was practically jumping up and down and yelling (except I was at work... technically).

I am sure Allan is glad I am here and not there - I would be beside myself.  They really look good to go all the way through qualifying and into the finals - a feat which can hardly be believed.  In the finals one has to pick 2 teams to form an Alliance with and the Alliances play one another.... so there is much scouting througout the year and gathering of stats and video etc. so you can pick a good partner who complements your strengths.... and last years World Champs (homeschooled kids from New Zealand) came by to scout Cambie A team.....A HUGE compliment to Cambie (although I suggested they make them beg ;).

I told Allan to forgo the budget tonight and take them to a great dinner on me in Downtown Disney to celebrate - they all deserve to be so proud of themselves tonight.... and its Nova's birthday!! Happy Birthday Nova!

So it's Game Day on both coasts - for me at least - where is the valium.....???

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time for Tea

 
Stopping for a while and sitting down to have a conversation over a cup of tea has somehow become a rare thing in my life.  But today I had the privilege of doing just that with a friend I am just getting to know.   To sit not only in her calm and cozy apartment, in front of the fire, (on April 14th no less) but in her calm and gentle presence, was just what I needed on this utterly miserable day and in the midst of this hectic week.

Poet Carl Leggo once said "The personal is universal".  That statement struck both Allan and I as such truth and it has borne out so many times in my life and experience.

I was struck again today as I sat in conversation with this dear friend, who has lived a couple more decades of life than I have, that so much of what we shared, the good, the blessings, the sorrows, the frustrations were, in many ways, so very similar.  We come from very different backgrounds, families, places in the world and yet our stories connect at so many points in the similarity of our experiences.  I think sometimes women seek out those connections from one another but I bet they are there for most people regardless of gender.

It is so good to remember that no matter how unique (or bleak) we might imagine our life path is, someone has been down the path ahead of us and someone is coming along behind.  As my friend shared with me the legacy of love and wisdom in her life, so will I attempt to pass on things that are worthy to those coming down the path behind me.

And as my friend so clearly said..... there is always God walking alongside whatever path we are on.......whether we care to acknowledge Him or not.  Today I choose to acknowledge him with gratitude.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

And they're off......

Robot ready for take off
The Cambie Robotics team are off to ESPN World Sports Arena in Orlando Florida tomorrow to compete in an International Robotics Competition against close to 500 other teams....... They won everything in the Pacific Northwest but the Pacific Northwest is going to feel small when they get to Worlds.  Hopes are high to do well.

This trip would not be happening without:

1. Donors / Parents / Rotary / Richmond School District and others who contributed to the costs and we thank you for your investment in these young people.

2. Smart and dedicated students who have worked countless hours on top of their school work to design, build, program and drive these robots.  They truly are the future and will do great things.


3. A dedicated teacher who has also put in countless hours over and above his regular job hours.  Who has done all the bookings and logistics and mountains of paperwork, prepared his classes for a week and who will leave his family to do this for these kids.  This guy is also my husband and I am SO proud of him for all he has done for these kids.  For some of them it will change their lives forever. We both know that and so we gladly make the sacrifice.

There will be hours spent in the "Pit Area" modifying and tinkering
Always something to do....

Next time you hear someone going on about what a cushy job teaching is I hope you will point out that many teachers spend hundreds of unpaid hours investing in their students.  Allan will be "on duty" 24/7 for 9 teenage boys , one of whom is Autistic, every moment from when they leave Vancouver tomorrow until they touchdown back in Vancouver a week from now.  He has to transport them, feed them, make sure they are safe and get some sleep.  If anyone get sick or injured he has to figure that out.  There is no extra pay for this. In fact if the truth were told this trip costs Allan and I financially. Many, many other teachers do the same.  They sponsor teams , take kids on trips, work hours beyond their contract.  I,  for one, am very grateful for those teachers.

So to the 3 Cambie Teams - I am wishing you all the best - for a fantastic tournament full of interesting people and robots of all kinds, for good results and for a wonderful day at Disney World - a fitting reward for months of hard work for the students and their teacher.!

Enjoy the sun..... Go Cambie Go!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Note to Self

Hello Self...........

That was quiet a little pity party you had yesterday wasn't it...... wallowing around in your mud puddle of misery.  I know, I know, your middle name isn't "Pollyanna" for a reason.  I know it was a dreary miserable Sunday and you had to work, poor baby..... and people didn't behave as they should..... and you were tired.  And then the Studio Director called and you had the conversation you'd been anticipating all week and it wasn't fun or easy, and your son revealed his homework was not, in fact, done..... and you were.... DONE!

It's ok - sometimes life sucks and its ok to say so.

And today you had a trying meeting with crazy challenging people who behaved like morons idiots..... challenging people do...... but you also had coffee with your good friend and a good chat and drive home with Cherry Blossoms on every corner.......

And then Allan found his car vandalised with spray paint.........
And then there was work and the crazy conference people........ and so much work that didn't get done
And then off to the bank to sign on a bunch more debt but all in a good cause...... it just irritates that they make it sound like they are doing you a favour...... it's our money people....

And then a workout and a hot shower during which I have myself a reality check and a talking to.  It's not about "Sucking it up" and smiling even when the crappy less than ideal things come flying our way (that much I learned in therapy) but there is a choice to make about how we respond to the less than ideal circumstances. 

So self... listen up..... you do not live in Japan...... or Haiti..... you have a house.... and a job........... and a beautiful family....and wonderful friends.........a peaceful country .....clean air......a peanut buster parfait with extra peanuts....................... GET OVER YOURSELF.

And you believe in a God who has a plan for good for your life.

So quit the whining, deal with the stuff with grace and keep on trucking.......

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What makes an adventure?

 We were having a lazy Saturday afternoon and noone really felt like cooking.  Lindsay was making a case for take out from our favourite Malaysian spot Kari House in Steveston.  Allan had bread rising and I offered a spinach salad but nothing was really grabbing our fancy.

I had read that Vancouver was getting a whole bunch of new food carts and I had seen a couple new ones when I was last downtown so I said......Let's go downtown and eat Food Cart Food.

 Within 5 minutes we were out of the door (ah the joys of children who dress themselves) and in 10 we were parked at my office and headed to the Sky Train in high spirits.  In fact David and I skipped along the alley way until Lindsay begged us to stop!!  Its just so easy to embarrass a teenager :)


We made it onto the train - we found these messages on the backs of the seats so we did as it asked....

 By the time we got downtown it was raining but we pressed on on our quest for Cart Food..... ALAS.... we found no carts worthy of our palates.  There were hot dogs or chestnuts and nothing else....... I guess we jumped the gun and the food carts are not all in place yet and on a rainy Saturday maybe some of them packed it in.......

We remembered a place we ate at during the Olympics and headed over there.  I shall not name them here but what restuarant runs out of pizza dough at 7pm on a Saturday in downtown Vancouver??

 We decided it was a bad omen and put on our coats and left and decided if it had to be hot dogs then so be it....and the rain had stopped and there were some street musicians..... we were back on track.......until we got to the food cart just as they packed up!!

SERIOUSLY!!

Now our high spirits were failing in direct proportion to our growing hunger..... when I spied a Cafe Crepe with outdoor seating under heaters on the Granville Mall.  At least we'd be eating outside in the street atmosphere and hey..... crepes are good..... especially if like David and I you opt for the dark
chocolate and banana crepe - yes - for dinner!  Lindsay had a Parisian Panini (she needed a control to compare the actual Paris panini she will likely eat in Paris in October... or that's her story and she's sticking to it!) and Allan had a smoked beef, swiss cheese and dijon mustard crepe he declared "Quite Good".....

So even though things did not go exactly to plan, we had a fun night out downtown before we headed back home on the train and SOME of us engaged in some parking garage shenanigans on the way home!

We will try this adventure again some time, maybe after some more thorough research....... anyone want to join us?