Monday, December 31, 2007

Tids and bits

Turns out I don't blog very much when I'm on holidays. Something about not having to procrastinate on all the stuff I *should* be doing! Hip hip hooray for holidays!

No big Christmas reflections or even posts this year. It kinda snuck up on me and then was gone - I know, I know, that's how it is every year, but even more so this year. Part of it has been that I haven't been to church very much in the last month or so. We added a Sunday night service a while back and because the majority of my friends go to that one, I shifted, too... except it's not working out so hot for me. Um, mostly cause I don't end up going. Anyhoo, all that said, I missed all the advent stuff, and it was all rush rush rush right up to the big family dinner on Christmas Eve, and then it's over. And I'm sad.

But! There have been some definite highlights to my time off. The first one was having two new friends - Hugo and Lucille - join my family for Christmas. It was SO great to have them there (and if you two are reading this, hello! Seriously, you guys made my evening! I'm so glad you were there!). Then of course there was some good family time on Christmas day. It was the first Christmas Day in recent memory, anyway, that we didn't have to pack up and go somewhere or have a whole crew over, and it was great to lounge around all day. I inflicted gingerbread house building on my parents (I still had leftovers from my party a few weeks ago) and it was a big bundle of hilarity.

I spent one day up in Whistler with Hugo and Lucille snowshoeing - and pretty much snow-battling to the death all day long. We then went into the swanky hat store and tried on many a chapeau... much to the owner's chagrin, I'm sure. Come on, who DOESN'T want three soggy rowdies with cameras knocking over hats and trying on your merchandise??? Pics from our day are here.

There was one day of serendipitous spontaneity - lunch, a trip to Ikea, dinner with the fam, catching The Golden Compass, going out for drinks... all arranged on the fly as the day progressed. I love days like that! You never know what the next hour will hold! :) Thank goodness for cell phones!

Now I'm cleaning the house (and blogging... see? Apparently I just found a reason to procrastinate!), prepping for a New Year's Brunch chez moi tomorrow, and then heading out to welcome 2008.

And there's still a week left of holidays! WOOHOO!

Since I didn't wish it before, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. And to 2007, I say "So long, sucker!" Bring it on, 2008!

PS. Hokey Dinah! Kristin Plater (of the AWESOME video below - seriously, if you haven't listened to it yet, you should... and then click through and listen to her other stuff, too... I'm looking for her album to buy and if I can't find a real live CD I'm buying it off iTunes. She's great!) left a comment thanking me for posting her video! She's super friendly and replies to comments on youtube and apparently to blogs, too! Melissa, she's playing in New York on the 18th. If you like her stuff, check out her site for details: Haha, ok, enough plugs for now! And no, she's not paying me! :P

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Why Not - SUCH a fun song

I found a YouTube gem... Kristin Plater! This song totally makes me smile. All about being yourself, donig the little things that make you happy. I love it! "If I'm gonna laugh, I'm gonna laugh out loud!"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pictures from a Classroom Christmas

Pictures go along with this post. Click any picture to see a larger version. Click here to see the whole set (it's worth it!)

Um, wow!

I was at a Christmas dance last night (of course!) and having a great time, as always. It was nearing the end of the night and I was dancing with my friend Michael, being very apologetic because I always seem to be dancing with him near the end of the night when people are leaving. Our two previous dances that night had been punctuated with me yelling my goodbyes and Merry Christmases to people as they left - which was just kinda rude (I'm sorry, Michael!) and also resulted in me missing more than a few leads. We laughed about it - he's a sweetheart - and I promised him a dance where I would pay attention to, oh, I dunno, HIM for once! SO there I was concentrating, when another friend JR (hi JR - this post's for you! Ya better comment! ;)*updated: go you! Thanks!* ) came and waved a piece of paper at me.

(click to embiggen if you want to read it)

Huh? Whatever, it's the new Swing Dance Club brochure. Surely I could look at it later. I mean, it's lovely and all, and has lots of great info about West Coast Swing, and is distributed at dances of all kinds all over the lower mainland, but seriously? Now? Then - in between whips and passes - I took a closer look. HOLY SMOKES! What? Uh yeah, that's yours truly. ON THE FRONT COVER. Buah ha! Hilarious!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Through a child's eyes

When the kids walked in the door Monday morning, the first thing they saw were four great big brown hoof prints on the floor. "Look!" I told them. "Santa came! And Rudolph, too!"

The buzz began immediately.

Santa! Santa came!
Hey, he left a note!
Rudolph put our paper chains on the ceiling!
And our letters are gone!
Santa took them!

The kids could hardly get their coats off quick enough to rush over the the chart board and read what Santa had to say. They looked around at the candy canes hanging, the paper chains a waaaay high up, and the big red fuzzy at Santa left for me to borrow (Miss Hillary, you're SOOO lucky! "Why's that?" Cause you get to borrow Santa's hat AND you get to see him again before Christmas to return it!!!). Some looked around in wonder, some were nearly shaking with excitement. And of course there were a few who punctured the glee with doubt.

It's not real!
The hoof prints are just paint.
Miss Hillary put those chains up.

"Nooo!" I told them. Eighteen excited kids all talking at once and asking questions was boggling my mind, but I just carried on, weaving a tale of Santa's visit and answering their questions as I went. "When I left on Friday, none of this was here! There is a little ladder in the school, but it's not nearly high enough to reach the ceiling! Those chains are WAY too high for me to have put them up. And I would get in trouble if I painted the floor! That wasn't me, either. Rudolph must have had very muddy hooves..." Then why didn't Santa leave footprints, too? [smart little kiddies!] "Well must have been riding his sleigh, so his feet didn't get muddy." It's just paint. Miss Hillary, you painted those. "Nooo! It's dried mud. They weren't there on Friday. Mr. G [an ESL teacher who had come in to drop something off], did you paint those hoof prints?" He didn't either, which was nearly enough to convince them. Miss Hillary, are you sure you're not lying? "I'm positive! I would neeever lie to you! Besides, what could have happened to our letters? And how else could those chains have gotten way up there? Anyway, didn't you say on Friday that you wished Santa would visit our classroom?

Yeah, but why does Santa always come when we can't see him? Why doesn't he ever come for us to see? Then we can KNOW that he's real!

"Ah, but it's not about seeing him. It's about believing. If you ever saw Santa, there would be no more magic."

By the end of our excited discussion on the carpet that morning, the biggest doubter was the biggest believer and every single child was convinced without a doubt that the big man in red had come to visit.

They happily told everyone they saw, too. Friends, teachers, passing parents. Two even ran to the office at recess to tell the office staff.

The day proceeded in sugary goodness as we made and decorated our gingerbread houses. I have never seen so much candy in one place in my life! They loved it, and were definitely in the Christmas spirit, humming Christmas songs and chattering about Santa as they worked.

After school I found a large envelope in my box: our letters to Santa had been read and replied to! I wrote on the outside in big swirly red writing "To Division 21, Love Santa,"dumped a whole bunch of silver glitter inside the envelope, and shook it all around. Up to the staffroom I went, where I dripped some water on the outside of the envelope and stuck it in the freezer to chill overnight.

Tuesday after recess was the big event - our letters from Santa had arrived! I waited an extra minute or two in the staffroom to make sure all the kids were lined up outside our door. As I approached, I whispered excitedly to them. "Boys and girls, look! Santa answered our letters! And it must be fresh from the North Pole! See? There's even ice on the envelope!!!" Gravity and the freezer had worked more magic than I could have hoped, as all the water had run down to the edge of the envelope and had made about a dozen little frozen droplets hanging off the side. Our envelope had icicles!!

Look! It's cold!
And frozen!
It came right from the North Pole!
How did Santa answer them so fast?
He's a fast guy!
Oooh! It's dripping!
Wow! I never got a letter from Santa before!

We all rushed to the carpet where I speedily handed out the letters. I pulled each one out with a flourish, sending silver glitter fluttering to the ground over the students' heads. Miss Hillary, what is that?

With a big grin and a twinkle in my eye, I answered them. "It's MAGIC!"

As the kids got their frozen letters, they all buddied up to read, passing them around and comparing them.

Santa is really busy making toys, so he got his elves to write to us!
Hey look! My elf's twin brother wrote to my friend!
These MUST be real because he answered all my questions!
Oooooh! The raindeers fly using magic flying powder!
Phew! Santa says I'm on the nice list!
Hahaha! My elf's name is "Stinky!"
Here, look at mine! Can I read yours?
[while clutching her letter to her heart:] I LOVE SANTA!!!

The kids spent about ten minutes passing their letters around and reading. (And you have to understand that for my class, to have them that engaged for that long is a nothing short of a miracle!)

I couldn't let the magic end there, though. I know that some of these kids don't really do anything for Christmas, and a few won't have many gifts this year because their families just don't have the money. Santa had to make one last visit...

When the children arrived on Friday, there was a new set of snowy footprints all throughout the classroom - from the door, over to the chart stand, over to the Christmas tree, and back out again. There was a new note, the tree was covered in snow, and there were nineteen gifts wrapped up and laying underneath the tree.

This time there were no doubters.

Santa came AGAIN!!!
And he left us presents!
What IS this stuff?
It's snow!
But it's not melting!
Miss Hillary, those are YOUR footprints!
Put your foot in them, let me see!
... Oh! They're bigger than your feet!
Miss E [my special ed worker], try your foot.
It's not hers, either! That proves it MUST be Santa!
This is the very first present Santa ever gave me!
Oh, this is the best day of my LIFE!

After reading the note and handing out the gifts, the kids tore into them to find the biggest candy canes they had ever seen. These must have come from the candy cane forest at the North Pole! I didn't need to do anything to create the magic this time - they did it on their own. Stories and theories swirled about how Santa could have gotten into our classroom without a chimney (maybe he came through the walls, maybe the janitor let him in, maybe he came through the mouse hole [er, the mouse hole?!?! It's now been filled.]). They talked about how fast Santa's sleigh must be and about how cold the North Pole is. And I sat back and watched, loving every minute.

It's been a while since I've been able to see Christmas in that magical child-like way. It has significance every year for me because of that very first gift that was given long long ago, of course. But there's another aspect of Christmas that I have not seen for a while, and that's the magic, the innocence, the wonder of it all. Impossibility made possible. Childlike faith in someone that can't be seen.

Or then again, maybe it's really been there all along. Maybe that's what Christmas is all about, even for us adults. Childlike faith in a gift too good good to be true, and yet! There He lies wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. God become man to dwell, to die, to deliver. Impossibility made possible. What a gift we've been given.

As a very wise elf said in her letter to one of my students, "Whoever believes in Christmas will always have magic."

How right she is!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


You would not believe how annoying it is to use my computer right now. My monitor is fried. No problem, I've got my old one still in my room. Hook it up, and.... no workie. At all. My new, 14 month old LCD monitor is dead, too. Oh, sure,i t somes on when you turn the power on... for exactly one second. Then it goes blank. So lucky me, as I HAD to do something on the computer tonight, I got to turn my monitor off and on and off and on again just so I could see the screen for one second and position my mouse. Then it went blank. Turn it off, turn it on, click, then screen went blank. Off, then on, then position mouse. Off then on, then click. Off tehn on, then type when needs to be typed. I can't see what I'm typuing now, so no complaints about typos.

YAAAARG! Dumb machine. WHY do they make things and PLAN for then to break withing two years? Seriously. As IF I have the money to buy another monitor right now. Melissa, I'm gonna check into your suggestion. I may be able to get a warranty from teh shop I bought it at, it might still be under warranty. We'll see. You'd better believe I'm gonna kick up a fuss.

And yes, I'm blogging. I don't need to see what I type (well, kinda) and I wanna whine about this. Seriously the most annoying thing I've encountered for a very long time.

Grrr, technology. *grumble grumble grumble*

OK, time to tunr the monitor off and on a hundred times now to actually post this bad boy.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Smells like burning

Well I had about 16 different ideas for posts in my head as I came home tonight... another Rebirth instalment (or two or three), an update/recap of the Magical Monday of Grade One Christmas Wonderfulness (complete with photos), some general squeeing about Christmas, a rant, a peek into the psyche of Hillary (don't run away, there's a but coming!), and so on and so forth.

Buuuut, my new, fourteen and a half month old computer monitor (member this post? Good thing I have a blog, that's how I figured out when I bought the dang thing!) is extremely dim on the top half and smells like burning. I know this cause it's the same smell that my electric mixer made while I was mixing up 8 litres of cement icing for the gingerbread houses at 6 am on Monday morning. I knew the smoke wasn't a good sign. Anyone wanna give me a mixer for Christmas??? So anyhoo, I'm gonna shut'er off for now and rant and rave to the place I bought it (*cough* Future Shop *cough*) another time.

Good thing I have all those photos to edit. Good thing I have BEEN editing photos, upping the brightness and wondering why they seemed do dim on my monitor and so dull on the computer. I mean, that was happening with my OLD monitor.

Oh yeah. Smells like burning. Just got another whiff. Buh bye now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I just might be getting a little carried away...

We wrote letters to Santa today at school. No asking for toys allowed - they were to ask questions and tell Santa about themselves. In Canada, if you write to Santa and send it to the post office, you get a letter back, so the kids are all excited to get a letter from the big man in red himself. (I mean, come on, the North Pole is in Canada! It only takes one stamp to get there!)

We've also been making paper chains all week... when they kid's work was finished, they could go to the art centre and keep working on their chains. One kid's chain is nearly 10 metres long!!! I promised them that I would put them up to decorate the classroom after school.

Little do they know that Santa will be paying our classroom a visit this weekend! Instead of the regular morning message from me, there will be a note - written entirely in red sparkly glitter glue - from Santa:

HO HO HO! Santa here! I came to visit your class on Saturday but there was nobody here! I left some treats for you, and my hat for Miss Hillary to borrow. She has to promise to give it back before Christmas, though! I'll need it! Miss Hillary put up your paper chains, but not very high. I got Rudolph to help me put them higher. I'll answer your letters as soon as I can! ~ Love Santa.

I've spent the last two hours with Christmas tunes blaring, teetering on top of the highest ladder in the school attaching paper chains to the just-over-three-meter- high ceiling. I have also painted four reindeer hoofprints on the floor right by the main classroom door (only four, though, cause Rudolph flew around the room most of the time!) and have dabbled them with a wet paper towel so you can't see the paintbrush strokes. There will be candy canes for each kid hanging from the art hangers that are draped over the rows of lights. The only major setback to my preparatory festivities this afternoon was stepping backwards onto the not-quite dry glitter glue message when I was trying to move the ladder. D'oh! I had to take a plastic spoon and scrap off a few words and start again. There are now red glittery footprints all over my carpet and the bottoms of my shoes sparkle! As long as I don't wear the same shoes on Monday, I'll be able to tell them that Santa left footprints, too!

I've got a grade six class (full of my students from last year!) lined up to write a personalized letter from Santa back to each student. I'll put the replies in the freezer for a while, scrape off some frost, and deliver them to the kids on Tuesday or Wednesday - direct from the North Pole!
That, and we're making gingerbread houses on Monday! It's going to be quite the day!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

True story

My breakfast today consisted of a bowl of cheerios and a palm-sized slab of gingerbread with lots of icing and covered - covered! - in smarties.

And this, folks, is why Christmas and my butt are motal enemies.

*Editied to add, for my American readers: Smarites are like M&M's, but better! They're not the sugary candy... um... pellets? like in the States*

*Also edited to add: My lunch also involves a cheese ball. I'm going straight to the fat farm, aren't I? Sigh.*

Friday, December 07, 2007

Apparently I like to eat pie

For the last two weeks, my grade one girls have begun to write... and write and write and write and write and write. They love it! They spend their centers time writing, they write oodles in their writing books, they write at home and bring it in to show me. "I just love to write!" they tell me. It is absolutely adorable!

One girl in particular, Annie (not her real name), writes me notes. Every morning she comes in with an envelope of something she has written at home. "Don't open it now!" she tells me. I ask her when I should open it. "At home!" she says, but invariably, by the end of the day, she caves and asks me to open her note.

Here are SOME of the notes she's written. Keep in mind that 18 out of 19 of my kids are ESL, and that she's six. I've kept spelling and grammar intact. I wish I could show the actual writing and the pictures, hearts, stars, and happy faces that go along with these notes, too. You'll just have to use your imaginations!

To Miss Hillary From Annie
You like To. eat Apple Pie
Yoe ur Nice and Neet
we like To make pie
pie is Good for you
Love Miss Hillary

To Miss Hillary From Annie
your a Nice teachandNeat
playful teach
Good teach is Nice
Youllke To drink Milk
and eat Apple pie
lovely Miss Hillary
you lik To eat pancakes
she like T make pie
I make my story for you

To Miss Hillary From Annie
you like egg and dklling Milk
you is Nice and you Like Appie pie.
and Apple Book and egg cake
Good Story

I Like to make Apple pie
a Apple. Book is Good For You
and Nice and Neet Amelia Bedelia
look the cloud and the sky
Imake my own story
Good Story [] yes

ToMissHillary FromHillary
you like To eat pie I make a pjr [picture] a pie

To Miss Hillary From Annie
your Nice and Neat teach
you like To eat Apple
and driking Millk
pancakes Book and walter the Baker book
Nice book Im write
Ilike pet is guinea pig and Hamster
is fairy pet love Miss Hillary
GoodWrite and Good write story

ToMissHillary From Annie
MissHillary like to eat Apple pie is Good For you
you like To drinking Millk

ToMissHillary From Annie
We like to Make pie
isGood FOR You

ToMissHillary From Annie
I like to make Apple pie To eat is Good
your nice teach and a Neat teach to
lovely Miss Hillary

All these notes are good for the heart but very, very bad for the will power. I'm picking up a pie on my way home tonight.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Spice Up Your Life! *now with video!*

The Spice Girls opened their world tour in Vancouver tonight, on stage for the first time since 1998. It was spectacularly phenominal! Oh wow. WHAT a show! There are no words (and I'm sooo tired, and my ears are still ringing), so here are some pictures instead! I believe I've been dubbed Shutterbug Spice. Now the question is, what spice is Phil??? ;)

[All photos property of Hillary. Permission required to use/reproduce]

The Finale/Encore. This person must have been sitting right beside us. This was our view almost exactly! (if anything, watch the last two minutes! AWESOME!!!) Man, it's the next morning and I'm STILL buzzing!

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Really? Seriously? The DoughBoy? I love it! How many of you knew that every single summer I went to camp Gump and Chunk called me "Pillsbury" and then that that became my camp name when I worked there? HA!

A-Ziggah zig AH!

Despite having never really been a fan ten years ago when they were big, I'm nearing giddiness about heading to go see opening night of the reunion world tour of the SPICE GIRLS (!!!!!) on Sunday night! (I'm just ignoring the depressing fact that I'm old enough to be going to a 'nostalgia' show!) And yep, they chose Vancouver to open their tour. Because we're AWESOME! hehe!

I've been doing my homework on YouTube, thinking that oh my goodness, I don't know any of their songs. Ah, but I DO! And you would, too, even if you tried really really hard not to.

My friend Phil found himself with an extra ticket, so he invited me! It's gonna be a spectacular show, I'm sure - they'll be pulling out all the stops. That, paired with Phil being SO incredibly excited about it that it just cracks me right up, is gonna make it an AWESOME night! Now the only question is - what to wear???

Jean was the closest guess, for sure. Go Jean! And Melissa wins for the most hilarious thought process. "You're going to the North Pole... and dancing with the elves [do I sense a new reality TV show coming on?] ... OH MY GOSH YOU'RE SANTA!"

I was giving hints! Go back and check out the last two posts - now with highlighted hints! :P

Friday, November 30, 2007

Stop! <--- (also a hint)

[Last day of NaBloPoMo! Woohoo! I made it! It was way easier than last year. I guess I'm getting more verbose in my old age? Ha! Ok, obligatory NaBloPoMo comment over. Back to our regularly scheduled programming...]

I was never very sporty when I was growing up. My ginger-haired sister and baby brother always seemed to have more fire in them - more competitive spirit. They were always more into sports than I was. Frankly, I found organized sports just plain scary. I never felt very good at them, and was often intimidated by what I saw as the posh, cliquey societies that surrounded them.

But times are a-changing. I'm still not hugely into team sports, but I am doing things I ever thought I'd do. Backpacking in the mountains. Travelling on my own. Dancing! I guess this Sunday night is just another way I'm trying to spice up my life by doing things I never thought I would. I'm getting so excited!

And by the way? Eighty six of you saw my blog yesterday. Eighty-six different people. And I love you all. But for my three commenters? Jean, Heather, and Melissa, you're the bestest! Sooooo.... you get another day to guess! (Yeah yeah, I realize that that's because nobody really cares, but I'm having fun, so humour me! :P )

Thursday, November 29, 2007

NEVER would I have expected this in a million years.

It has to do with somewhere I'm going/something I'm doing on Sunday night. And nope, it doesn't have to do with dancing (well, it does, kinda, but not with my dancing obsession!). And NO, I'm not a wannabe, I'm really gonna have fun!

So I'll tell you what I want... I want you to guess! What am I doing on Sunday night?
I'll reveal the answer tomorrow! (and if you saw it briefly on Facebook, no cheating! ;) )

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quatchi Miga Sumi

Nope, it's not another language. Rather it's Japanese anime meets mythical forest creature meets First Nations artwork. Quatchi, Miga, and Sumi are the new mascots for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. I can't figure out if I like them or not. They're cute, for sure. Miga is a sea bear (what? part orca whale, part Kermode spirit bear) who loves to surf and snowboard. Quatchi is a sasquatch who dreams of being a famous goalie. And Sumi is what? A Thunderbird, I think? With an orca hat? Drawn in Japanese anime?

It's definitely a mish mash of styles. But on the other hand, it probably represents Canada and the west coast better than I would first think. There IS a huge Asian influence here in Vancouver, and it is important to recognize First Nations cultures, too. It's kind of too bad that it's not a little bit more representative of more of the British Columbian population (as people also said about the Olympic Logo - which I like, by the way: it's friendly, fun, welcoming), but then again, how exactly would they do that? BC is so diverse already, they'd have to have a dozen or more mascots to do that.

I think I like them. They're a little over-the-top cutsie, but then they're marketed towards kids. They've each got personalities that have been created along with them - likes, dislikes, stories, dreams. You can click on any of the pictures to learn more about them. We'll be seeing much more of them in the years to come. May as well get to know them!


And let's not forget the mascot's sidekick Mukmuk the marmot!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One Day For AIDS

December 1 is World AIDS Day, and once again my friend John Andru is working tirelessly to raise awareness and financial support to go towards AIDS relief. This is a guy with a passion for raising awareness about this awful, awful disease. Not one to sit around and say, "Wow, isn't it terrible that all these people are dying," he is giving up hour and hours of his own time running the third annual One Day For AIDS campaign. His goal, from the website, is to have 365 people donate $30 towards AIDS relief, with proceeds going to your choice of recipient organizations: The Mennonite Central Committee, The Canadian Red Cross, or the Dr Peter AIDS Foundation.

Would you consider going to the website and donating? Or if you can't give, at least go to the website and read up a little? Raise awareness by maybe taking in an AIDS-related movie over the weekend, reading up about AIDS in books like Stephanie Nolen's 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa, or even by purchasing a red AIDS ribbon to remind yourself and others of the gravity of this disease.

John is organizing a number of different events around Vancouver this weekend if you'd like to come out. One of them is a showing of My brother...Nikhil (scroll down when you click the link) at the Pacific Cinémathèque (1131 Howe St @ Helmcken St) at 2pm. Alternatively, if you're not in the Vancouver area, why not rent a film like Dear Francis, an excellent documentary about college students who go to Africa to educate students about AIDS and end up learning far more than they bargained for. I saw it last year, and it was phenomenal. The trailer is below.

As John says in his November ODFA newsletter, "There are lots of things that you can do. But above all - please don't do nothing. Please don't tune out, or become apathetic or indifferent. My question and challenge to you for World AIDS Day 2007 is: Do you care?"

Dear Francis

One Day For AIDS 2005 * One Day For AIDS 2006

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rebirth, part three: On Staff

It was Spring Break, 1995, and I was finally old enough to go the Leadership Training up at camp. I was going to work on staff at Kawkawa that summer, and I could hardly wait.

Leadership itself was a great week - seminars, training, lots of work, and so much information I thought my head was going to pop. Bertski, Professor, and Prem (the director at the time) poured their hearts into us that week. It was intense and loads of fun.

Summer finally arrived, and I had been given three weeks to work - the first two weeks of July and the very last week of August. I was a junior counsellor for one week and taught some activities and helped run a Bible study the next. I was so sad to leave at the end of my first two weeks. At the end of the summer, I came back as a camper for my last year then stayed the weekend before the last week of camp. It was then that Prem asked me if I would like my own cabin for the last week. I was beyond thrilled that he thought I was ready for the challenge of going it alone.

And so I got my very first group of girls: Ellen, Ashleigh, and Kandace. It didn't matter to me that it was only three girls, I was going to be the best counsellor there ever was! It was such a great week, and solidified my desire to work at camp for many more years to come.

And many more years there were. I continued to work at camp for another seven years after that, anywhere from one to nine weeks each summer. If I thought I had grown as a camper, my years there on staff would blow me away.

It was on staff at Kawkawa that I had the honour of praying with someone as they decided to become a Christian for the first time. It was on the back steps of Chalet 401. I will never forget how I felt God niggling at me all day to ask this girl if she wanted to become a Christian. About how scared I was to actually bring it up, and about how eagerly she said yes. I was so excited that I thought I was going to pop. I ran back down to the campfire where the non-counselling staff were still praying and told Bertski about it because I just couldn't contain my joy. She gave me a hug and then told me to go get back to my cabin of girls. Oh yeah! Whoops! (Good thing I was a junior counsellor and there was still someone with them!)

It was on staff where I first saw how much the Bible is a living book. It was the hardest week of camp I had ever experienced. I had a really challenging group of girls, and I was having some conflicts with some other staff, too. I was at the end of my rope. About halfway through the week (um, DUH! Why did it take me so long???), I opened my Bible randomly and had never had something jump out at me in such a vivid, life-giving way. It spoke directly to what I was dealing with and was exactly what I needed to hear. It went so far beyond coincidence. The passage I read encouraged me, chastised me, and gave me comfort and hope. I came to see that God was (and is!) in that book, alive and well, and oh so relevant.

It was on staff that I saw God work in SO many different ways. Big, small, ordinary and extraordinary. It was amazing to get to see him work through me, in me, and often despite me, and in and through so many other people, too. Camp is not the only place I've experienced this, but the thing about camp is that all the rest of life's pressures and messiness just isn't there, so it's much easier to see things more clearly. And seeing God work and answer prayer at camp was training for seeing Him work in the 'real world,' where sometimes it's not so recognizable amidst the stress and business of regular life.

It was on staff that I had one of my most humbling moments - where God began teaching me to back off on my own plan, cause his is so much better. (Oh how I wish it only took that once to learn that lesson! It's gonna be a lifetime before I get that one down!) It was a particularly hot week, and I had wanted to surprise my girls by sleeping down on the dock. I had gotten permission, and waited till they were all ready for bed before I surprised them. They were so excited to get to sleep outside, and I'm sure one of the reasons was that it was about a kajilion degrees in our cabin. We bundled up our sleeping bags and pillows and made our trek down the giant hill to the beach, only to find that some of the junior counsellors were swimming and the dock was soaking wet.

It was definitely not one of my proudest moments when I told off the junior staff leader and made it perfectly clear how annoyed I was that now we couldn't sleep on the dock. I was disappointed for my girls, too, who were really looking forward to this. So, up we trekked back to our cabin - waaay up the hill - and had to go back into our sweltering cabin to sleep after being out in the cool breezy summer air down at the beach. *grumble grumble grumble* At staff meeting the next morning, I made sure that EVERYBODY knew that I'd like my girls to sleep on the dock, so puh-leeeease don't go swimming after campfire.

Take two. It wasn't a surprise, but the girls were still looking forward to sleeping out. After we all got settled on the dock, we began looking up at the stars. "Hey! There's a shooting star!" "And another one!" "Look! I just saw one, too!" It turns out that that night, and not the night before, was the night of the huge August meteor shower. We lay awake for hours watching falling stars and talking about God's creation, reading Psalms and praising God for his creativity and beauty. Ok, God, I get it. You've got a better plan! :P

And it was on staff that I made one of the biggest discoveries about myself I've made so far. For a year or so, I had been plagued with the question of "What's my passion?" I saw people with a passion for scuba diving, or a passion for missions, or a passion for sports and on and on... But what was mine? Sure, I liked a lot of different things, but I couldn't call any of them "my passion." I guess in some ways it was a quest for purpose: what is my purpose, my calling - where that place where my great love and the world's great need intersected?

Well, it was the last night of the second to last week of camp in 2001. I had had the most incredible week - I had the best cabin I've ever had, and witnessed some extremely meaningful changes in the lives of every single girl in my cabin. It was a particularly impacting week for many, many campers, not to mention staff. We were at campfire on the last night, and I found myself looking around. The kids - many who had never once set foot in a church in their lives - were singing with all their hearts, arms raised to heaven, knowing what it felt like to experience the love of God. They were deciding to trust him, choosing to accept the gift he offers.

It was at that moment that I knew. What's my passion? It's here. It's this. It's helping kids come to a greater understanding of who God is and what he's done for them. It's seeing lives changed. I've struggled since then to understand how that translates to the 'real world,' as sadly, camp is not a year round event. But it's trying to see how that works into my daily life - in whatever role I'm in - that will be the lifelong lesson. It was on staff at Kawkawa where I realized that nothing gets to my heart quicker than a child in love with God. And to have God allow me to help that happen? That's my passion.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My guesses!

Whoops, I just realized I never wrote out my guesses for the little game I played last week.

1. Shelli! The "Saved by the Bell" theme threw me off for a bit, cause I knew I had JUST seen that somewhere - facebook? another blog? Yarg, I couldn't find it. But it was the "la la la" that gave it away. (And then it turns out it was Sarah Cool who had posted the Saved by the Bell lyrics. So either it was a co-incidence, or Shelli, you found a genious way to try and throw me off... unsuccessfully! Buah haha!)

2. Sarah D! This one took me a while, and I totally confused my friend Brent by asking him what vegetable he shared a name with. I figured the 'wearing colourful underwear' could have been him! It certainly would have been a secret! HA! But then, while Brent was too confused about me asking him what kind of vegetable he was to speak, I got to thinking... famous vegetable, famous vegetable... veggie tales... at first I thought "Power Pickle!" but then it hit me: BOB! The "I'm innocent" was a nice touch! Input from the hubby, I'm assuming?

3. Anne! Flock of goats. I feel so special! ;) hehehe! And yep, your hint was what gave it way for sure! Nice way of telling me you figured mine out! I really do like your blueberry pie, especially when it's extra sweet! ;)

4. Ashley! Yours was easy to guess, but only because you left a non-anonymous comment shortly before or after posting that one. Otherwise I would have been totally stumped - good one, girl! Beautiful love note, m'darlin! I like the way you think!

Have no idea what the heck I'm talking about? Go read this - and feel free to play along! It's not too late!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Diary of a Worm

from a cute kid's book I have in my classroom...

April 10
It rained all night and the ground was soaked. We spent the entire day on the sidewalk.
Hopscotch is a very dangerous game.

May 1
Grandpa taught us that good manners are very important. So today I said "good morning" to the first ant I saw.
There were 600 more of them in line.
I stood there all day.

May 28
Last night I went to the school dance. You put your head in. You put your head out. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about.
That's all we could do.

June 15
My older sister thinks she's so pretty. I told her no matter how much time she spends looking in the mirror, her face will always look just like her rear end.
Spider thought that was really funny.
Mom did not.

What would YOUR diary entry look like if YOU were a worm???


Friday, November 23, 2007

Tis the season

Report cards due tomorrow.
Crazy busy with that and...what else?
Dunno. But feel overwhelmed and house is a disaster area.
Sleep is whacked out. Big time.
Reports will be late (again.) (sigh.)
Still doing the "I am's" but no time to post them in the AM's.
7:59 pm and still at work.
On a Friday.
The kids left at noon.
I spent ONE FULL HOUR sharpening pencils.
Meant to get the kids to do it, but this week was too much of a zoo.
Still have no voice.
It ran away a week before Halloween and I haven't seen it since.
Really should have taken time off Halloween week.
Gonna do it next week. Monday, Tuesday Wednesday.
Five days without talking.
HA! If you believed that, you clearly don't know me.
Five days without talking all day every day.
And lots of hot lemon.
Dang day plans for subs. They're so much work.
Darnit if I'm gonna miss one day of NaBloPoMo.
Even if post sucks.
Ok. Going now.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"You have no friends online recently"

Oh, right. That's because it's THREE SEVENTEEN IN THE MORNING and I'm up doing report cards.

Not still up. Just up. I fell asleep around 9:30 last night watching the Deal or No Deal Thanksgiving special (anyone know how much that totally awesome lady in the green shiny shirt won at the end? And anyone love her momma as much as me? "You've got to do something you've never done to get something you've never had. Honey, you've never said no to $45,000, but you've never won a half a million, either! No deal!"). And because my body is programmed, apparently, to wake up after about 5.5 or 6 hours of sleep, I pinged awake at about 2:45am. Good thing, cause I've got a lot of work to do.

Update: It's 7:37am now. The effects of my first hot chocolate have come and gone. I'm nodding off. Time for another shot and then off to work.

Good golly this is gonna be an interesting day...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am a minister of reconcilliation for God

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.

As God's fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favour, I heard you, in the day of my salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favour, now is the day of salvation!

~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

This passage overwhelmes me. It speaks of identity. It speaks of the core message of the entire Bible. It speaks of my overwhelmingly huge yet blissfully simple purpose as a Christian. It speaks of my heart's desire for people to know and understand the depth of what God has done for them. This passage speaks. This passage is life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh wow.

And as for NaBloPoMo... I'm cutting it a little close, don't ya think?

Yaarg! In my delirium last night I posted at nearly the last minute, then hit save instead of publish and collapsed like the sleep-depraved zombie I was on my bed couch. So I posted. Kinda. I'm counting it. You'd better, too! :P

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rebirth, part two: Campfire

It's summertime, and the sun has slipped behind the mountains, bathing the lake in orange as it set. The sky is turning a deep blue now, and campers are making their way up the path to the campfire, their feet crunching the dry gravel beneath them. Their voices are hushed after a twilight discussion, the shouts of the day's activities now subdued and calmed.

Two trees mark the entrance to the campfire area. Rows of rough benches - nothing more than heavy planks on wooden supports - are arranged in a semi circle around this sacred place. Moss-covered boulders, ferns, and scraggly trees rise up the side of the mountain behind them, while the patio lights of the cabins further up the hill pierce through the dark branches. There is a fence closing off the open side of the semi-circle - tall wooden boards painted green, all different lengths, their pointed tops drawing your eyes skyward. Perhaps they were intended to look like the evergreens that surround them. Perhaps they are a reminder to just look up.

Those who like the heat of the fire sit up front, while others scurry to the back row or make sure to sit beside their new-found friend or favourite counsellor. Near or far, everybody is mesmerized by the flames at some point, staring into the blazing, dancing, brightness; lost in the worship, lost in the story, lost in their own thoughts.

As the campfire flickers it sends sparks soaring upwards. My eyes follow them until they disappear, but by then it is not the sparks that have my attention. I crane my neck upwards and stare at the towering trees that surround this little circle of heaven. There is an open patch of now-dark sky directly above the flames. A handful of stars are visible in the opening, and I am in awe.

This is a cathedral. This is where God dwells, where he draws near, where his presence is felt. This is where lives are changed.

This is where my life was changed, over and over again. This is my "God place."

I am never separated from the love of Christ

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, now any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Romans 8:35, 37-39

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he should give his only son
To make a wretch his treasure

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rebirth, part one

When I was eight years old, my nana and papa gave me a birthday present. I still remember where I was when I got it: the atrium section of the old White Spot in West Vancouver. The gift wasn't much to look at, but it would be one that would change my life. It was a card telling me that they had registered me for summer camp. I would be heading off to Camp Kawkawa for one week once school was out.

The time finally came (it's a long wait for a little kid from the beginning of February till summer!) and my parents drove me out to Surrey to catch the camp bus bound for Hope, the little town where the camp was located. Fearless little monkey that I was, I hopped on a bus full of kids I'd never met before in my life, and waved goodbye to my parents, who were definitely having a harder time saying goodbye than I was. I was off for an adventure!

Little did I know then what an adventure I'd be in for.

I don't remember much of that first week of camp, except vague pictures in my mind of my counsellors - Sudsy and Coke - and one of the crafts we did: leather bookmarks that we decorated with leather stamps... They were so cool!

The next year, of course, I wanted to go back. And the next, and the next. I didn't miss a summer - from kids camps to junior then senior teens. I loved the counsellors there - Bunta, Dewey, Squeak, Bertski, Prem, Link, Chunk, Gump, Squab, Lucy, Derby, Crocket, Festus... the list could go on and on. So many of them made such lasting impacts on my life.

And I met lots of great friends there, too. Every summer my address book would be full of new addresses - people I'd write to every now and then, maybe call on the phone once in a while (back in the days when it was a big deal to call long distance to the next suburb. Definitely no email or facebook to keep in touch back then!). They were all people I couldn't wait to see again the following summer.

The location was beautiful, the water was warm, the food was great (oh Georgy Porgy, you were the best cook!), the skits were hilarious, the activities were always fun. It was there I learned how to have a camera war, how to paddle -and tip! - a canoe, how to shoot a bow and arrow, how to watch the counsellor at the table like a hawk so I wasn't the last one to put my thumb up and be stuck scraping the dishes with "Mr. Scrapey." I learned goofy songs and ridiculous wide games, and I learned that sleeping out on the beach was an amazing experience - unless of course the counsellors woke you up early and told you that you were all going to play a trick on the director and sneak over to the provincial park across the lake via canoe. Let me tell you, 80 kids trying to hide behind two outhouse buildings just doesn't work. Grizzly was M-A-D when he got in the camp boat and came looking for us. Kids were in tears, the lifeguard threw down his whistle and quit, stomping off into the forest. Counsellors were mad, we were terrified of our punishment, and it all blew up... until Grizzly finally told us all that it was all a big joke, he'd planned it all, and YAY! We were going to have a pancake breakfast in the park.

Man, that all sounds so awful written out. It was pretty funny at the time, and I have only warm memories of the famous "Sneak." Maybe that's also because that was also the day I found out that my very first cousin was born (he's in grade 12 now!).

I learned all kinds of things at Camp Kawkawa, but the biggest impact that camp made on me was on my faith. It was there where I felt that my faith really grew the most - where I learned the most about God and about what it meant to be a Christian. It was all around me at home, too, but it somehow seemed that there, between the mountains and at the edge of the lake, away from "normal life" and school and parents and pressures, I could really experience God in ways I never had before.

Every year I left camp on a high. I felt like a new person every time I got home. The thrill would subside, but the lessons remained. It was at camp that I remember Gump sitting with me on the back bench of the campfire, ignoring what was going on around us and stopping to pray for my friend April, who was at camp with me and had just gotten called away to take a phone call about her mom who was very sick. I learned that I can pray any time, anywhere, for anything, regardless of what's going on around me.

I remember Bunta telling me straight up that I had a bad attitude when I kept complaining about the girls in my cabin practicing their cheerleading routines every night. I remember telling her, "You know what? You're right," and being so grateful she called me out on it. Those girls stopped annoying me from that moment on, cause I realized it was really me being the twit. (And funnily enough, one of those girls now is a fairly regular sub at my school!)

I remember Matilda's Bible study sessions one week when I was fourteen. She challenged us to make ourselves available for God. I did, and recommitted my life to Jesus that week. I would say that that was the week when my faith really became my own and I became a Christian because I knew it was what I wanted to do, not becuase my parents told me so.

I remember the campfires - the songs, the stories, the testimonies kids told on the last night of camp about how God had impacted their lives that week at camp. I can see their faces lit with an orange glow as they stood by the fire and told their story - of their life back at home - good, bad, or otherwise, of their struggle with friends, of new commitments they wanted to make, of what God was teaching them. I remember how they impacted me. I shared my stories, too, at the edge of that campfire. Of how God had challenged me, of who I was, who I wanted to be. Of renewed commitments and a refreshed soul.

I remember knowing that I wanted to keep going to camp as long as I could, and when I was too old to be a camper, that I wanted to work there. So when I was sixteen, I applied to work as a Leader In Training...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Your turn!

So I totally thieved this off of Anne, who ripped it off of Heather Anne (holy cow, go read her blog of November 16. Like, NOW. Nearly made me cry!), who in turn stole it from someone else (whose name does not include the name Anne). But it's fun (and you all know how much I like fun! And parenthetical statements, apparently).

So, here's the drill, if you brain didn't just explode from that last paragraph. (Too! Many! Thoughts! At! Once!) Leave your answers to the following questions in the comments. Be sure to comment ANONYMOUSLY (don't forget and click enter automatically!). Then I'll try to guess who you are. Won't that be fun? :)

Here we go (are you ready?):

1. One secret.
2. One compliment.
3. One non-compliment.
4. One love note, but it does not have to be for me.
5. Lyrics to a song.
6. How old you are.
7. How long we've been friends.
8. And a hint to who you are.

(And no, I won't use statcounter to help me figure it out!)

That's it. No more parentheses (I promise!).

Friday, November 16, 2007

I am a citizen of heaven

But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a saviour who comes from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Philipians 3:20

I am a stanger here, I don't fit in, I'm out of place
I am a citizen of heaven and it's obvious to see
That I belong with you

Don't want to settle or get too aquanted with this life
Got to keep on looking up, cause He's coming soon
And then I will be



Thursday, November 15, 2007

I am...

... tired, grumpy, getting sick, completely fed up, nearly burned out, and absolutely amazed I didn't walk out of my job right smack dab in the middle of the day today.

No, seriously.

I have had e-nough. ENOUGH! I would REALLY REALLY REALLY like a day - just ONE! -where I'm not dealing with kids (ok, that kid) dumping sand in someone's hair, pouring milk on their head, throwing blocks at other children, splashing water in people's faces, breaking kid's lego creations, pushing/shoving/kicking, stealing other kid's belongings, lying about what's been done, blaming other kids... shall I go on? Here's to a better day tomorrow. Man, not even nearly four hours of dancing - two lessons and a dance - got me out of this mood, and that's sayin' something.

So no, no real "I am" post today. I am... really glad God's not keeping track.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Because I'm tired of hearing myself talk about school and dancing

I have a life, really! I do!

In bold is what's happened in 2007 so far:

*Updated to clarify: I have NOT done everything on this list! The bolded ones are ones I've done in 2007. The ones in italics I've done, but not in 2007. Them plain ol' list items? Never done. Is that clearer? ;)

- lost a friend
- stayed single the whole year
- kissed someone new
- kissed in a car
- kissed in the snow
- kissed in the rain
- fell in love
- had your heart broken
- broke someone else's heart
- had a stalker
- questioned your sexual orientation
- came out of the closet
- got married
- had a divorce
- dated someone you'll never forget
- done something you've regretted (why are these listed so close together?)
- lost your first love
- lost faith in love
- kissed under mistletoe
- shoplifted
- caught a shoplifter
- got a promotion
- got a pay raise
- changed jobs
- lost your job
- quit your job
- applied for a job
- dated a co-worker
- dated your boss
- got fired from your job
- did something you were proud of
- discovered a new talent
- were involved in something you'll never forget
- painted a picture
- wrote a poem
- ran a mile
- listened to music you couln't stand
- double dipped
- skinny-dipped
- went to a sleepover
- went camping
- threw a surprise party
- had a party thrown for you (there's still time! It's not too late!)
- laughed till you cried
- laughed till you peed in your pants
- slept the whole day
- flirted with a boy/girl/boyfriend/girlfriend
- visited a different country
- cooked a disastrous meal
- lost something important to you
- got a gift you adore
- realized something new about yourself
- tripped over a coffee table
- dyed your hair
- came close to losing your life
- someone close to you died
- went to a party
- drank alcohol
- drank alcohol underage
- did drug(s)
- got drunk (well, close, anyway. I've still never been full out drunk)
- got arrested
- read a great book
- saw a great movie
- pretended to like someone (isn't that called 'sales'? :)
- saw a movie so scary that it made you cry
- saw one of your favorite band/artist live
- saw someone famous in person
- did something you want to tell everyone
- enjoyed this year overall

I am free forever from condemnation

Therefore there is now no conemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and of death. ~ Romand 8:1-2

Paraphrased from Rob Bell's "The Gods Aren't Angry" tour:

So what is repentance? In the Old Testament it was always paired with joy, with celebration. It was realizing that, "I've missed it... until NOW! And of course I'll rearrange my life accordingly!" Repentance is realizing that what's required has ALREADY BEEN DONE. Any ritual or any belief that doesn't tap you into the celebration of the reconcilliation of all things is simply not Christian. ANYTHING that creates guilt in us or tells us we are not enough is not from God.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sea to Sky pics!

Click any picture to enlarge it. See the full set here.

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The first night saw lots of dancing and lots of goofing around.
I'm dancing here with Chris, Jason, and JR, respectively.

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Competition time! I particularly like the shot of me appearing to sniff my armpit right in front of Jordan Frisbee, the best WCS dancer there IS
(and not a bad looking one at that! D'oh!)

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Lots of open dancing. I love the photo of the girl spinning!

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Nooooo, we're not having fun at ALL!

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Watching the pros blew my mind! Here's Myles and Tessa, performing their 2007 routine. I've linked to that video a few times before. Seeing it in person was phenomenal! The next one is Tessa and Kyle Redd. How I captured that moment I have no idea, but I'm sure glad I did! :)

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Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollman - the top westies in the world.
Kyle Redd and Sarah VannDrake - my favourite workshop presenters for sure. I really love their style, too! And they're so gosh darn SWEET!

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Jessica Cox and Myles Munroe
More spinning from Jordan and Tatiana (Tatiana is known for her awesome spins)

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We stayed out till 4am on Saturday night. Wacky things go on at 4am. Like dance fighting. Wade and Ken had a smackdown. Michael's already nearly asleep, Ruth is just very, very, happy, and Chris has already asked me about 16 times if we could stop taking pictures and GO ALREADY! so I'm very grateful he's smiling in this picture!

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Three thirty am. We then kept dancing for another half an hour.
If you can call it that...

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Lots of eating out, lots of workshops!

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As if the weekend wasn't enough, Jason, Ruth, Michael, and I each did a private lesson with Kyle Redd (center) on Monday. We went out for dessert afterwards, and just had to keep dancing. So we did. In the restaurant. The bartenders clapped for us! :D

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Ian, Stephanie, Jason, Ruth, Chris, Ken, Wade, Yvonne, and more!