Sunday, 24 January 2016

Devastated for La Loche, Saskatchewan - My Former Home

As you can see from the title of this post, it has been a tough weekend for me. In case you are unaware, on Friday there was a shooting in the community of La Loche, which started at a house and then continued to the school. Four people were killed and more were wounded. 

While school shootings are always upsetting, both as a teacher and as a step parent to school aged kids, this one is hitting me especially hard. My very first year as a teacher was spent in the La Loche Community School Dene building, the very building that was struck by this tragedy on Friday. I spent a year walking through those doors, laughing in those hallways, teaching in those classrooms. My time spent there helped shape me into the teacher I am today. 

The school on the beautiful summer day when I first arrived in the community

Those who know me well know that my time in La Loche wasn't easy. While I loved my students, colleagues, and the school, I found it a difficult community to live in and only stayed for one year. It just wasn't the right place for me at that point in my life. Despite the short time I spent there and the fact that I've been out of La Loche for eight and a half years, it will always have a special place in my heart. 

The house I lived in from October until I left in June
If you look closely you can see the roof of the school on either side,
about half way up the house. It was right behind where I lived.

La Loche already faces so many challenges - a low employment rate, lack of adequate housing, isolation, and a suicide rate that is 3 - 4 times the provincial average are among the things they deal with. Now they are faced with rebuilding their school and community after this unimaginable event. Because I know the amazing spirits of many of the people who live there and how the community will pull together at a time like this, I believe they'll eventually make it through this grief stronger and more united than ever. Until then, my thoughts and prayers are with them.

I apologize for the quality of the photos in this post. I don't have digital copies so the pictures are photos taken of ones that are in my scrapbook.

Shared at: Making It In The Mountains, The Kolb Corner, A Stroll Thru Life

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Finishing the Basement: Part 1

We've been making steady progress in the basement at finishing bedrooms for M and D. Actually, I guess I should say J's been making steady progress. In case you missed it, M moved in with us about a month and a half ago and has been living in the guest room while we build her a new bedroom in the basement. This addition to our household occurred shortly after my surgery so I haven't been able to help much at all. J deserves all the credit, and I'm impressed by how handy my husband is!

His first step was framing the two rooms, including a closet in each and a box around the heating duct in one bedroom. He had help for the main walls in this stage, and after that has done everything except the electrical himself. 

Next he insulted the walls and ceilings. Technically he didn't need to do this because they're all interior walls but we wanted the additional warmth and sound proofing.

After this stage we hired an electrical to come in. We didn't want to mess with that at all. He took care of the permits and roughed in the plugs, lights, and smoke detectors. Did you know in Alberta you have to put a smoke detector in every newly built bedroom? He'll come back again to finish the electrical when we're ready for him.

Once the electrical was roughed in, J started putting up the drywall. I was sure he would have to hire someone but he figured it out on his own. At this point they started to look like rooms to me.

Next came the mudding and taping. This was definitely the worst part and took a long time (over three weeks). We ran into some snags and I was fearful that our project was going to grind to a halt but J figured it all out.

Finally he moved on to priming. M helped with this and after two coats our rooms are really starting to come together. The pictures above are after one coat. I didn't take a picture after the second coat because I was too excited to get painting. 

M and I actually did the first coat of paint today and will do the second tomorrow. We still have to do the ceiling, the floor, the trim, the doors, the closet organizers, and the last of the electrical but hopefully it'll be ready in the next month.

Want to see the before? Here it is.

Shared at: Made in a Day, A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E

Friday, 8 January 2016

Book Club Recap 2013

One thing I've always wanted to include on my blog is a recap of books and cookies from my book club meetings, but I've never gotten around to it. In the spirit of crossing things off my list, here's a summary from 2013. 

2013 was our first year of book club and it was pretty random how it happened and how I got involved. I got a text from a fellow teacher who was thinking of starting a book club and asked if I'd be interested. Her rationale was she wanted a way to meet up with other ladies without having to buy something (like a home business sales party) or having to go out to a restaurant or bar. I didn't know her well and was hesitant but said sure, thinking if I didn't like it I'd leave after a couple months. It was a little awkward at first, because most of us only knew one or two of the other ladies (there are 10 of us in all), but over time we've really become a close group. We're on our third year now and  I look forward to it every month.

In 2013 we were still finding our groove. We didn't have a set schedule, a plan for who would host, or a way of picking books. We started in April and met six times that year. With the exception of Owen Meaney, I really enjoyed all the books from 2013.

The Language of Flowers

For this book I brought Cheesecake Brownies. It was a new recipe and they were delicious. Drool.

The Light Between Oceans

I stuck with an tried and true recipe for this book and brought Lemon Cookies.

The Painted Girls

I had a friend come visit so, even though I read the book, I didn't make it to the meeting.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

This is one of my favourite books we've read. I went with another tried and true recipe for this one. I used to make these Rocky Road Squares back when I was a kid.

A Tale For Owen Meaney

Once I start a book, I finish it. It makes me crazy to give up before I get to the end. I'm not sure why. It's just a thing. Anyway, this was the book I almost didn't finish this book. I found it so hard to get through that I almost gave up. In order to finish it (not in time for the meeting), I made myself read at least 10 pages every time I finished another book. It took over two years but I finally got through it. The sad thing is that I didn't dislike it. I just found it really long and tedious to read.

It seems fitting that the Ritz Cracker Rolo Sandwiches I made for this meeting wasn't one I'd ever make again.

The Thirteenth Tale

I hosted this one, and it was only a short while after I found out gluten and dairy were my issues. I tried making several recipes but definitely hadn't quite gotten the knack of gluten-free dairy-free baking.

Shared at: 24 Cottonwood Lane, Life on Lakeshore Drive, My Pinterventures, Making It In The Mountains

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Updated Running Hallway

I am pleased to cross another project off the list. After walking past this almost finished project for months, I've finally got it done. The sad thing is that I waited so long. It literally to me less than half an hour to do it and I didn't even need any help.

I originally shared my running photo frame with you here, and my running medal holder here. I was pleased with it when I first decorated our hallway with these items. In case you're new and unaware of the backstory, I started running (along with other things) a few years ago in an attempt to get healthy and it has become something J and I love to do together. I use the term together but that's totally inaccurate - J runs fast and I run slow so we say goodbye at the start line, he goes towards the front and I go toward the back to start, and then meet up after the run. Still, we love it. In our hallway we have a photo of us from every run we've done together, as well as any medals we've received.

The original display

Over time, I filled up the running frame and added another. However, instead of moving things, I just randomly added the second frame. Then I decided I didn't like it there so I moved it again but instead of removing the nails I left them in the wall. At the race expo last year for the Calgary Marathon, they offered free photos printed like an Impact magazine cover. I loved it and decided to enlarge and frame ours. Instead of hanging it where I wanted it to go, I stuck it on one of the old nails and it was ridiculously high. While I'm proud of the accomplishments the wall showcases, it's obvious that it wasn't planned out well. Excuse the bad photos.

Raven is so unimpressed.

Before - looking messy and unplanned

Before moving things around, I also wanted to add to the wall. When D lived with us, he did a race with us. Since moving in with us, M has also done one and is signed up for another. I decided to frame a photo from each of their first races, using the same size Ribba frame as our magazine cover. I already had both the photos and the frames, but again had been putting it off.

To finish this project I took everything down, removed all the nails, and started from the beginning. I placed the two multi-photo frames equally spaced from either end of the hallway, and then centered our fake magazine cover between them. I hung that cover  slightly higher than I normally would have, so our medals could go underneath. On the opposite wall I centered the photos of D and M between the door to the guest room and thermostat. 

I've also planned for the future. Once our running medal holder is filled up, I plan to make another one and centre it under the photos of D and M. I made sure to hang them at the same height as our fake magazine cover so it'll look uniform once the new medal holder is up. Also, I have nothing between the thermostat and the kitchen, but the plan is to eventually hang our next multi-photo frame there.

Doesn't it look so much better? Other than the nail holes I think it looks great and, more importantly, it looks intentional. Plus, I love how every day it makes me feel proud and motivates me to keep pushing myself.

Shared at: Divas Run For Bling, Life on Lakeshore Drive, My Pinterventures

Saturday, 2 January 2016

"Change Your Words" Bulletin Board

I'm heading back to work in just two short days and I can't wait. While my surgery went well and my medical leave was a blessing, it has been a long couple months and I'm eager to spend time with my students again. In preparation I've spent the last two days at school going over the notes from my replacement and getting things ready, including setting up my new bulletin board display.

I can't take credit for this bulletin board idea. It came from Sarah at Math Equals Love. If you head over to Sarah's post you can download the files and print your own copy. My principal found the idea and got a TA to prep it all. The TA then put it in my file of bulletin board displays so all I had to do today was take down the old display and put up the new one. 

Have you read Carol Dewek's Mindset? If you haven't, you should consider it. It's a fantastic read! I think it should be required reading for all teachers, and people who work with kids, and who have kids, and pretty much everyone. It has some great ideas and provides a wonderful message to start the new year at school.

Shared at: Life on Lakeshore Drive, What Meegan Makes, The Kolb Corner, A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E, Sugar Bee Crafts, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Making It In The Mountains