Saturday, April 28, 2012

Disposition

dis·po·si·tion [dis-puh-zish-uhn] 

I have been thinking about this word and it's meaning for a few months now and I am finding it has crept into my vocabulary and is popping up more frequently. 

noun
1.
the predominant or prevailing tendency of one's spirits; natural mental and emotional outlook or mood; characteristic attitude: a girl with a pleasant disposition.
2.
state of mind regarding something; inclination: a disposition to gamble.
 
 
1.  nature, character, humor. Disposition, temper, temperament  refer to the aspects and habits of mind and emotion that one displays over a length of time. Disposition  is the natural or prevailing aspect of one's mind as shown in behavior and in relationships with others: a happy disposition; a selfish disposition. 
It has come up often for me when I try to describe the type of teachers/educators I need to have in my organisation to get the kind of curriculum I value and envision.  I need educators who have a reflective disposition, who think deeply and are deeply curious about the work the children are doing.

It's hard to interview for disposition, just as it is for common sense and loyalty and a sense of humour.

I know enough about leadership to know I need to model the disposition I want to see in others.  

Also true in my home life, my life outside work.

And it's a choice......

This morning during my Jazzercise Workout at 8am our instructor JT threw out the challenge to us that we smile through the whole class......seriously at 8am on a Saturday? Never one to back down from a challenge I decided to try and smile for an hour while sweating and concentrating and working out with intensity.  


It was hard and I had to make a conscious choice to keep smiling.  When I do the kick boxing routines with good intense jabs I usually get right into exorcising my stress and anger and frustrations so doing it with a smile was a challenge.


But it sure changed my disposition.  In the "fake it till you make it" stakes I smiled until my cheeks hurt but I actually felt happier by the end.  

Those endorphins took note of my disposition.  And responded.


In a very stressful and busy weekend and week ahead, and at a time of year I feel like an empty toothpaste tube someone is still squeezing hard to get the last bits out of I need to check on my disposition often.


And keep smiling!
 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Partners

Several things have happened in the last few weeks that have had me pondering partnerships - marriage partnerships in particular.  As previously admitted I am a bit of a baby when Allan is away as he just was for 6 days.

It's not that I can't cope or anything (of course not!).....I manage the stuff just fine (with the possible exception of the lawnmower)...it's just that our lives are so set up to work as a partnership in just about everything we do that when one partner is away its harder. 
And I missed him.

Allan and I are not a "model" of how a marriage should be but we have managed, through the highs and lows of 20 years together, to work out a way of being together that is very equal. 

We parent equally, we manage our household equally, we make decisions jointly.

I see/hear about marriages or partnerships where its clear one spouse does much more of one thing than the other partner, often with the children and don't share the burdens equally. I was just sitting in Starbucks writing this when the two women at the next table went on and on about how their partners do so little to help with the household and kids (I am sure there is another side to the story....at least I hope so). 

I guess I am just feeling grateful for a husband that is as happy cooking as I am mowing, that is as happy wielding a hammer as teaching me (or the kids) how to do it, that got up many nights to hold a baby or sick kid, who stays home with sick kids as much as I do, who takes care of finances and cars while I take care of schedules and the social calendar, who although he has dryer deafness still cleans bathrooms as much as I do (maybe more often), who always shares the decision making and usually has a better perspective than I on parenting issues.  He does soccer runs, I do dance drives, he cooks amazing meals and I......make less amazing meals.

There is no score keeping - no tallying of the brownie points - some weeks (even years) one does more, the other less, some weeks one serves more and the other is served......it all balances out because we care for one another in the crazy busy-ness that is this life we have created together.

We're a team and it works.

Thanks for being my partner in this old life AB......

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I had a different plan for today but it didn't work out so here are some of my favourite sunrises and sunsets.....










Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday is Soup Day

For years now someone in our house has made a big pot of soup and a changing group of dear friends have shared a hearty bowl at our dining room table along with some great conversations and good laughs every Tuesday night.

In fact my very first notion of having a blog was to make it a soup blog and post the recipes.  Never happened.

For a long time Allan made the soup and approached the making thereof with a scientific method - he read all about the balance of flavours and the needs for acid and salt etc etc and "we" learned a lot of neat tricks and tips- like squeezing the juice of a lemon into a veggie soup (aka an acid) really brightens the soup and brings forward the flavours.

Then Allan went back to University and I was handed the soup pot.

Houston....we have a problem.

For a while I was rescued by the Soup Fairy who wanted to make the soup for the group and faithfully did so every week for a few months.....long enough for me to not be so freaked out about running solo on Tuesdays.

And so I began making the soup.....with a more artistic flair......a little more flying by the seat of my pants! And with the exception of one overly gloopy potato cheddar soup I have managed to pull it off.  I even make my own veggie stock now and love that process.  Soup has been demystified and I only wish I had got that earlier in my life.

My dear friend JB knew all my culinary skills were taxed enough producing soup that she provided dessert for months and as a champion baker we were all so blessed by her contribution.

Tonight I have a Board Meeting so I sat down to send a message to cancel soup group when Lindsay piped up that she would be happy to host the Group! Wow! 

Another soup maker is born. 

She and I got most of the prep for Broccoli Cheddar soup done last night and I am sure she will finish it off with flair tonight. 


I do have dozens of soup recipes so if you want one in particular let me know!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

Not gonna lie......have not had a great weekend.  I am a complete whiny baby about single parenting when I am so busy.  I need my partner in crime/parenting/love/reason/sanity...... I just do. 

Saturday I worked out and I dragged my butt there but felt so good after that and raring to go.

It was really all down hill from there.

Doing my taxes is an all time worst task of mine.  I do Allan's and mine and it's not that it's hard but I feel great responsibility that a mistake I make could cost us financially.  This is all self-imposed I hasten to add - Allan would be ever-gracious if I made a mistake - he is just grateful I do it.

And we owe taxes - no surprise - less than expected but still no cause for celebration!

I was happy to finally get to bed before 11pm for the first time this week.

Sunday I needed to work on my conference work but I was determined to do something with my kids after the tantrums they witnessed on Saturday.

This afternoon, we headed out to celebrate Earth Day together.

We visited our local farm for veggie seedlings and flowers......



We visited Value Village to buy white t-shirts to tie dye - recycling in action......

I tried to mow the lawn and could not get the mower to work - this sent me to the very brink of my sanity - rescued by my great friends Graham and Laura and the ever-charming and delightful Penelope who was a ray of sunshine and loved watching bugs, mucking about in the dirt and lying in the unmowed grass - bless her!
Potting some of the new flowers

Two sweet kids
 

How sweet are they?

A BBQ dinner, a glass of wine and the Canucks - oh the crazy stress of  the Canucks playoff series.
2 Davids - 2 Canuck Fans

Not often said - but I am glad this weekend is over!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cover the Night

Back in early March I wrote this blog post and posted the now famous Kony 2012 video.

That video by Invisible Children went viral in a way that could not have been predicted, certainly not by the makers of the video.  They were quickly overwhelmed and as they have tried to ride the tsunami wave of interest and criticism and expectation their leader became a victim of a breakdown and their resources were depleted quickly.  They seem to have found an even keel and I have continued to be impressed with their media campaign ....... social media campaign.......as it has rolled out and today is COVER THE NIGHT....... the whole purpose of the video in the first place.

In many ways the hope to make Kony famous has already been achieved.

The message seemed to hit a generation through social media who were just waiting for a campaign.  Millions of people, mainly younger than I, have watched the first video and the all the subsequent ones.  They shared that video on twitter on Facebook, they made the slogan their Facebook profile photo.  They seemed swept up in this cause in a truly global way.

It seemed hopeful that so many people could be engaged in a cause/issue/problem so far away.  It was social media genius.

And then the matter became complicated as dissenting voices rose and called into question the validity of the cause, the legitimacy of the organisation.  Rumours of funds being misplaced, Directors going loco.....even that Kony is dead and/or arrested already and the whole thing is a hoax.

The young people who so willingly clicked the "share" button on their facebook are now unsure about taking to the streets and Covering the Night.

I will be fascinated to see if social media "action" leads to actual activism on the streets.

No matter what you think about this particular campaign, I choose to see the hope that at least millions of eyes and ears heard a well told story that didn't personally benefit them and felt compelled by it.  I hope they do act in some way, any way, to make their community better, to redeem a social condition, to truly seek justice in this world, not just in 2012 but always.  Not just for child soldiers in East and Central Africa but for all children, for all people.

May peace and justice, awareness and compassion greet us all tomorrow morning.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mission Accomplished

IT IS SOMETIMES SAID THAT YOU SHOULD
BUT 
SOMETIMES
YOU WILL GET
THE
 AND
 THE

NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE LUCKY
OR 
YOU DESERVE IT
BUT
BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE GOOD, 
THE IDEA IS SOUND
AND 
THE WORK WAS DONE RIGHT.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Editing

Editing is the process of selecting and preparing media used to convey information through the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete work. (Wikipedia - groan)
One of the things I have learned to do better over the last 16 months is edit.  Writing a blog is a balance between sharing and over-sharing....it's a fine balance and as a classic over-sharer I am often challenged to edit the blog back to a more manageable share load.  Some of you may think I still have a lot to learn so be comforted that I am working on it!!

I have had this thought in my head these last few crazy busy weeks and facing a couple more crazy ones ahead....that when life gets busy I tend to edit......my life.   I look for the extraneous meetings, commitments, tasks, errands, phone calls and I either edit them out completely or at least edit them to a point that my life doesn't seem so busy, so overwhelming.

I think it is telling what I edit first. 

My stuff.

No scrap booking, no photo trips, no river drives, no calorie counting, no Jazzercise, no dinners with friends.

I know I am the Editor and I choose what to edit. 

I also know that editing these things is stupid.

I thought I had learned my lesson when I sat in my therapists office a few years ago and he asked "What do you do to fill you up, what gives you pleasure, what things do you do just for you?"  I remember my initial confusion at the questions..."What kind of therapy mumbo jumbo is this?" and then the slow awakening, followed quickly by the embarrassment and then mild anger, that I had no answer.....literally.

So I have worked to cultivate some of these things in my life and I guess what I realise is that, even when life gets a little hairy, I need to hang on to some of my stuff. 

I went to Jazzercise last night.......and it was so good to get back, to workout hard (oh my aching glutes - classic over-share) and to feel my body responding.  No more editing my exercise. or calorie counting.......I am expecting much of this body and I need to keep it moving.

Now to get back to some of the other things that landed on the cutting room floor.....just a soon as I file my taxes........

One day I will be a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete work!

What have you edited out of you life?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up

I am sitting at my kitchen island - french doors open......I can hear the music and the chatter of David and Allan in the workshop working to together on a project....Lindsay is in her room singing along to her music....There is a pot of roasted veggie stock bubbling away for Tuesday's soup and the many gourmet toppings for the soon-to-be-grilled flatbread are all chopped up and ready to go as is the spinach salad with toasted walnuts and double smoked bacon so the kitchen smells incredible......and I just finished editing some great photos of the last week or so and am sipping a cold beer.

Life is good.

Even on these busy work-filled weekends when Allan has both university papers and school marking to do (not to mention he is off to Anaheim on Wednesday for VEX Robotics World Championships with his RoboKids) and I have conference registration to keep up with and a big proposal to have ready for an important meeting in Seattle on Wednesday....... we make a choice to have fun and take those all important breaks when we can.

On Saturday late afternoon I managed to get into the backyard with my trusty helper David and get alot of the winter debris cleaned up, turned over the veggie beds soil, trimmed the roses, readied the pots and this afternoon Allan mowed the lawn.  Lindsay was in the kitchen emptying the over full veggie bins in the fridge and chopping them up for veggie stock.




Then Allan and I went on a date. To a great Italian Trattoria.  We had amazing food and great red wine and it cost us $6 thanks to a generous GC from my staff for my birthday (back in Feb!).  Feeling full we went down to Kits Beach and caught the fading sunset in a dramatically cloudy sky.  I LOVE this spot...It will forever be in my Top 10 favourite places in the world......you can see the City, the Bay with all the ships, the far snowy mountains, the beach......it fills my soul..and to sit there with my favourite coffee in my hand next to my very best friend and talk about our life and our kids and the future.......hard to describe how amazingly blessed I felt.....a moment that will sustain me for weeks.



Sunday meant another work morning for Al as I took the kids to church.  As soon as we got home we jumped in the M5 and headed to Granville Island - our "go to" place for family fun which for us always includes food.

We each had what we wanted for lunch......David and I had crepes, Lindsay had a pita wrap and Allan had his fave Bratwurst hotdog.
My beloveds

And then we shopped...... Terra Breads, Organic Veg, Sausages, Chorizo, Cheese, Smoked bacon, walnuts, bagels and rugelach....... amazing bounty.

Coffee from Petit Ami and a sit in the sun watching the boats come and go under the Burrard St bridge before wandering in and out of the stores all the way back to the car.
Boys dreaming......


A short grocery stop and then home to prepare our Family Foodie Feast!


 
 What a great weekend of work AND play.


And now Playoff Hockey - about which Allan and David are pleased and Lindsay.......not so much!

Friday, April 13, 2012

We have an Explorer

Both our children have been in French Immersion from kindergarten through Grade 7.  Lindsay stayed with the French program into high school where the subjects actually taken in the french language diminish over time but you do get a double high school diploma in English and French.

When we had to move David to a new school in Grade 7 I spent a lot of time looking at all the options and what impacts our choice of elementary school would have for his high school choices.

I had heard of the Explorations Program at McMath (same school as Lindsay) but it would mean giving up the French program and switching over.  After much research and discussion with David, his amazing Grade 7 teacher, Kelly, other parents who have kids in Explorations or did have, our ever-friendly school counsellor connection Mr Pattern and others....we decided to enter David into the selection process for Explorations.

We felt pretty good that if he got in that would be great and if not we would be happy to see him continue in the French he has invested so much time in and is very good at.

65 kids applied for 30 spaces in Explorations.

There was quite a process of reference letters, academic transcripts, a logical thinking and scientific reasoning exam, a portfolio of work to assemble and then present at an interview.  We duly worked with David to get it all done and went through a couple mock interviews throwing questions at him.  He was very nervous on the day of the interview.  I drove him there and waited anxiously myself until he was done.
The Application ready to go!

He bounced out of the school feeling pretty good.

And then the wait, which we thought would be several weeks.  We prepared David for both being accepted and being not accepted.

And then this week Tuesday he go a letter from the High school.

A super nice letter to David with the all important line "We are pleased to offer you a place in the McMath Explorations Program for 2012/2013".

YIPPPEEEE!!

One very excited boy (and his family)!  So proud of him and so looking forward to all the next 3 years will hold for him - here is the program description.....

EXPLORATIONS PROGRAM
The McMath Explorations Program is designed to meet the needs of high ability, self-motivated students with potential leadership qualities. The program spans three years starting in grade 8. Students in each grade will study three of the four core courses (Science, English, and Social Studies) in an environment designed to challenge them. There will be opportunities for cooperative learning situations, independent study, and out of school field experiences. Students must be independent thinkers and risk-takers in their approach to learning and possess critical thinking and creative problem solving skills. It should be noted that a strong work ethic and positive attitude towards schooling are actually more important as selection criteria than is raw intelligence. In addition to its academic goals, students in the McMath Explorations program will be involved in local community service opportunities. An emphasis will be placed on promoting leadership and fostering community within and outside of the program.

Compared to where we were with school and David a year ago, it is nothing short of a miracle that we are standing here with our explorer today. A day after he made an excellent french public speaking presentation in competition last night and happily long boarded to school this morning.  I hate when people say "He so deserves this" but I will say that it makes my heart swell to see this kid get some check marks in the win column.

So proud of you Davy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stereotypes

There is nothing like having foreign visitors to highlight our stereotypes as a "Canadian" family, as "Canadians", as "Canada", as "Vancouver", as "Steveston".  I could argue all these terms are hard to define in the first place and yet a series of images and behaviours have attached themselves to us and these places that make them what they are, at least in part.

It is easy to tell the stereotypical story, check off the stereotypical images and our visitors will think they met Canadians and saw Canada.

But did they? 

Our French Home stay Julia and my Aunt Shirley (Great Aunt to my kids!) from Australia were just here this week.  We showed them snowy log cabins in the forest, lakes with trees to the waterline, ferries, boats, Granville Island, the Canada Line, The City of Vancouver, The Empress, the Legislature, museums, misty islands.......

We fed them salmon on the grill, salmon burgers, burgers, milkshakes, clam chowder, poutine.

We talked hockey.

And there was SO Much more we could have done and showed them if we had had more time.

Truly on the map of Canada they saw the smallest speck. 

One small moment in which we bust at least one myth, was at the "welcome to Canada" BBQ at the school on Tuesday.  We had the Fraser River Fiddlers come in to perform.  They were 4 young people in jeans, t-shirts and cowboy hats and boots.....stay with me.....they had fiddles and man could they play.....they had the whole room tapping their toes and clapping along.....and what stunned the visitors......all the fiddlers were Asian!   The French teens couldn't stop talking about it.

I think our blended South African/Canadian immigrant family also busted a few myths. And also massacred the French language a fair bit...ok so that was me... but I was trying to be a friendly Canadian.  We didn't, however, reveal that we eat ketchup on our french toast.....some things are just for "family" afterall.

We are lucky to have these things to share with the world.....to live in this magnificent place on the planet.  I love showing it off and it never ceases to make me feel grateful to live here and I hope it never feels boring or old.....that I never feel entitled to this place.

So we saw no Beavers, No Mounties (in regalia), No Moose (other than stuffed)...... What do you think when you think of "Canada" and "Canadians"?


Monday, April 9, 2012

Low Tide

When we were in Monterey California a few weeks ago we visited the famed Cannery Row.  The connection to the American author John Steinbeck was made visible all throughout the Row.  I had meant to re-read some Steinbeck before I went but it was one of the items left unchecked off on the TO DO list!.


I picked up a copy of one of his lesser known books "Cannery Row" while there and have just finished it.  It is an odd little book but I so enjoyed the quality of the writing and am re-enthused to read some more classic literature now.

The evocative writing in "Cannery Row" came to me as I walked along the Boardwalk in my home village of Steveston on the weekend.  It was low tide and the muddy flats were revealed under the canneries and boat lofts that dot our part of the Fraser River close to it's mouth into the straight of Georgia.


With Steinbeck ringing in my ears I  could almost hear the long ago voices of the Japanese fishermen and the women canning.......Unlike Steinbeck quoted in the first photo above, I feel a sort of melancholy in the low tide where the detritus of the river is revealed and the margins bared.....the squelching, muddy, stinky edges disappearing into the flowing river......it's not  the pretty time of the river.



I enjoyed focusing on the low tide as I walked a familiar, often trod path.....and I enjoyed a rare moment to take some photos in this crazy busy week.