Monday, July 12, 2010


just a few pictures of things i've found beautiful in the past two weeks

white rose at the portland train station

politely being asked to ride the train again sometime

baby birds in the tree off our deck (okay, they are kinda creepy, but beautiful in a "new to the world" kind of way)

the empress on canada day

the legitslative buildings all aglow

hillary all aglow as she walks towards kevin with her father

a stolen moment

a cat in a university of oregon hat

a baby in the queen elizabeth park fountain

Thursday, July 08, 2010

thoughts on comparative education

One of my classes this semester at UO is Comparative Education taught by a prof named Spike (okay, so that's not his real name, but that's what he has us call him). He's the kind of prof that's so interesting to listen to that you can actually ignore the fact that he stands there talking to you for an hour and fifty minutes without stopping. The thing that I think I really appreciate about him is the fact that he challenges me to be critical of the lens through which I view the world. 

For example...

Have you ever heard of the Bengali famine of 1943? I hadn’t until today. I hadn’t realized how influential Winston Churchill had been in instigating the mass export of rice from Bengal which resulted in a country-wide famine. The British needed rice, and so naturally Churchill set out to find it, but in filling his country's need he, in essence, caused the death of nearly 4.5 million Bengali men, women and children. Now I'm not a political history buff, so I do plead some ignorance in not having heard any of this before, but I just couldn't fathom how this significant piece of history has essentially been pushed aside in light of the devastation of the Second World War and Churchill's significant involvement in that. Even a quick glance through research on the 1943 famine would lead you to believe that an earlier cyclone and drought were to blame for the destruction of crops, but the way in which many of the studies are framed is deceiving.

Think of this in light of the holocaust. How do we know so much about World War II and the death of millions of jews, pols, homosexuals, gypsies and others over a period of 5 years, but the death of 4.5 million in less than a year is virtually ignored by the history books (or at least by social studies curricula)? We are quick to blame Hitler for the holocaust and the idea of concentration camps, and yet in Mein Kampf he wrote the he got the idea from the way in which Americans, and I would argue Canadians, treated First Nations people and the consequent introduction of reservations and residential schools. I am in no way meaning to downplay the evil of Hitler's character, however I realize now how quick we are to focus on some events in history and complete wash over or neglect others. Obviously the social studies curriculum could not possibly contain a complete overview of world history, but I believe a critical look at the events included in the curriculum is necessary to ensure that we're not sending students out into the world completely as completely biased individuals with limited critical thinking skills. 

I guess I write all this to say that I realize now (well, maybe only a little bit more than before) the extent to which I have been indoctrinated with such a biased view of the world, its history and its people. In class my prof came to the conclusion that the Greatest Generation (the parents of baby boomers like himself) need to be told that, “you guys really f*&%#d the world up bad”. I don't know if I'd quite go that far, but I do agree with him when he said that, “all this s**t has been designed by men… it could be undone by men too” though I would argue that men alone would struggle to do just that. 

So there you go. That's just a glimpse of my first week back at school this summer... we'll see how the next three weeks pan out. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

two years later...

Now that school (well, teaching) has ended for the year, and I have a little more time to ponder
life, I find myself longing to put my thoughts into words. Now I can't promise that any of these words will be readable, or for that matter, interesting, but I figured it would be a bit of an adventure to update this blog with stories younger than 2 years old.

In the last two years I have learned much and loved much. I've fallen morein love with my fabulous husband and have finally begun to realize how ridiculously crazy itmustbe to live with someone so scatter-brained, yet particular as me. We've added a kitten, but no babies to our family (apparently Mia is a baby replacement tactic... though I've become wise to that game) and we've gained one of the cutest nephews you could ever have. I've added six or seven new classes to my teaching repetoire (french 8, 9, 10; science 8, 9, 10; psychology 11, 12; keyboarding 8; biology 11) and am beginning to consider myself a jack of all trades (certainly not a master, as I am far from that). In my attempt to become a "master", I'm now one year into my master's degree in Educational Policy, Methodology and Leadership at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR. I've been able to take classes on weekends throughout the school year (the profs fly or drive up), but I currently find myself living just off-campus in Eugene, while completing 12 credits of courses in the month of July. It's a little crazy leaving everything behind toenter "university mode" once again, but next June (or possibly even April if my thesis writing skills prove savvy) it'll all be said and done, and i'll officially be a "master" (or so they say). I've started "practicing" what this might look like (as you can see... though truly it's only the local paper that I'm reading). It's hard not to be distracted by the beautiful buildings on campus and the gorgeous scenery (that's my education building - the Lokey building). School only just resumed today, and after 6 full hours of classes and a few hours of homework and reading, it's already become a little ridiculous, though certainly bearable. I laugh at the quality required of my assignments and the depth of my reading compared to the quality of the night table I fashioned beside my bed (two tupperware containers stacked on top of each other covered with an apple green plastic shower curtain from target and a picture of my husband next to two garden gnomes... yup, it's a beaut!). But I'll make due, right? Plus, college/university was never a time for being fancy, and I'm not exactly a fancy kinda girl. Hopefully, in spite of my ridiculousness, I'll learn a few incredible things that I can take back to Tsawwassen with me. It's a strange combination of courses I'm taking - Comparative Education, Educational Leadership and Technology in Education (yes, all education courses, but they are very diverse in their nature), but so far they've proven to be interesting (verging on intriguing) and I can't wait to see how they develop. One of my favourite moments of the day was when my Comparative Ed prof, Spike, told us to be "intellectual knights of the jedi order". I'm sure if I was up on my Star Wars trivia that would have made sense, but all I could do was write it down and make a note to ask Finch. So Finch, what the heck does that mean and how does is relate to comparative education??

Friday, August 01, 2008

wedding video

here's a little slideshow that my cousin, graham ballantyne, put together for us for our wedding


Monday, May 05, 2008

wedding details

by the end of this week there will be only two months left before the big day. it's hard to believe that the last few months have passed by so quickly. when i look at a list of things a bride should have done by now, i'm somewhat overwhelmed. i mean, there's only one of me and, more often than not, maybe only one of my five bridesmaids is in town to lend a hand.

that doesn't mean that it isn't coming together... it's just taking a little longer than i'd imagined

just this past saturday andrew and i headed off to yaletown for our engagement photos. yes, it seems a little late for those, but better late than never. and i have to say, if you ever want photos taken, you have to hire our photographer - she's amazing! it's strange to say that i found out about her through facebook, but it's true. janelle hildebrand had posted her wedding photos and i absolutely fell in love with them. when i went to her photographer's website i just knew that i had to meet her. a few days later and christine was booked as our photographer. now i just can't wait to get the engagement photos back. from leaping into rew's arms on top of a rock in the ocean, to playing leap frog on a grassy hill, to climbing up a playground, to posing against a myriad of brick walls, it was a fun day of photos

aside from that, the bridesmaids dresses are in the mail, my dress is almost finished with alterations (and the portuguese crisis has been averted), i bought my shoes and i have my veil... and just about all of the wedding invitations have been sent out! if you got one, or even if you're just curious, feel free to check out the blog that i created full of wedding info. the website is right here

if you're in town and want to do anything wedding-y, come find me - i need all the help i can get

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

handy andy

handy andy is certainly no reference to my dad. no, my dad can be handy around the house with the gardening and the tidying and those sorts of things, but his building skills are somewhat limited (and yes, that may be an understatement). thankfully, i'm marrying the quintessential handy andy. i just figured i'd post a few pictures of the carpentry project he's been storing in my parent's garage. when all is said and done, he will have constructed our bed, side tables and an armoire/dresser. here's a look at the beginning of all of that... the bed is actually finished now and stained a deep chocolate brown (oh so beautiful). unfortunately it's heavy and tucked in the corner of the garage, but when it comes back out again, i'll post the finished photos. i figure what's a blog good for except to brag about the many talents of a fiance :)

here's the initial load of lumber... we're suprised the truck didnt tip over

here's rew and the beginnings of the bed frame...

here's the frame itself... it now has vertical slats covering the hole in the middle and the foot board is shorter, but is a similar style. don't let the blonde wood fool you - it's earned it's tan by now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

that kinda bride

so i went to my church's website to look for the podcast from the sunday night service, and when i open up the page, i'm greeted by the loveliest of all photographs (see left). uhhhh.... i don't know about you, but if i was someone looking for a church and that's the photo that came up on their main page, i might be more than a little concerned. not that there's anything wrong with looking like a bride straight out of the 1908s, but... okay, no, there is something wrong with that. i'm just thankful that my own wedding dress doesn't even vaguely resemble this one - aside from the colour, that is. however, the wing-ed hair piece reminds of one of those little dinosaurs that ends up hissing and killing 'Newman' in the original Jurassic Park and i guess that's kinda cool.

so that's my two cents for this afternoon. at least this bride had her wedding all put together by the time this photo was taken. me, i'm no where near the end of the craziness. one of these days i'm going to have to start making some more decisions and have an idea of the overall look of my reception... one of these days...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

our new house?

it's hard to believe that we may have just bought our own place

we've been looking in tsawwassen and ladner for a two bedroom condo that might work for us. ideally we wanted a place that was move-in ready but not perfected so that 'handy andy' could do his thing and make it absolutely beautiful (i.e. increase the value with a little sweat equity)

we've looked at a whole host of condos over the past few weeks, and while some were nice, there was nothing that we were especially excited about. after praying about it at bible study last tuesday, a beautiful place came on the market the next day. this place was a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1400 square foot condo in a red brick building in the middle of tsawwassen. unfortunately it was listed at a price a little above our budget, but after checking out it's specs online, we wanted to take a look at it.

on thursday afternoon, we met our realtor, Linda, to take a look at the place. the building itself is gorgeous - there are plenty of common rooms, including a hot tub, sauna, gym, hobby room/workshop, card room, kitchen and the like. the lobby looks much like that of a hotel and there's a giant courtyard overlooking the 17th green of the beach grove golf course. the condo itself was incredibly spacious, though it certainly is in need of some work. walking in the door, i was reminded of my grandma. not only did it smell like her (you know, the sweet smell of grandma & grandpas soap mixed with the antique/slightly dated furniture) but it was decorated in a way that she would have loved.

andrew and i quickly became excited about the place because of the huge living room and dining room area which translates into tons of space to have kids over and entertain. we're not really looking to buy a condo just for ourselves, but a place where our youth kids would have room to come and hang out (though the idea of our own retreat is nice too)

anyway, yesterday night after touring my mom and dad around the place, we sat down with Linda and made an offer. we had to offer less than asking because we're certainly stretching ourselves to afford this place, but we were certain that if this was the place that God wanted to bless us with, then our offer would be accepted. that may sound strange to some of you, but when andrew was praying with ron on thursday, a price came to mind, and so when rew and i sat down to discuss and pray about it yesterday night, we decided that if we could get it for that exact price, we would know that it was the place for us.

this morning we received a call from linda - our offer had been accepted at our exact price! we're thrilled and scared and nervous all at the same time. the offer still has a number of subjects on it (inspections, reading minutes, and the like) but if all goes through, then we take possession of the place on april 1st.

so i'm fairly stunned at the moment... our first! here's a glimpse of what it currently looks like. we'll post the after pictures at a later date! :)

the view

the spare bedroom

the nook

the kitchen... eek, but it'll do

the living room again

the giant master with a walk-closet i could live in and a bathroom so big you could host a dance party

it needs some tlc and a little updating, so use your imagination

Sunday, January 06, 2008

a little east coast...

i just thought i would post a few pictures from my trip out to the east coast this christmas. it's not a terribly fantastic blog post, but i just figured i'd put a little something up.

andrew and i at his sdbc staff christmas boat cruise (just before we headed east)

dancing around the snow covered driveway in moncton, nb (yes, i'm aware that i'm a dork)

rew and i outside in the snow...

carrie (my soon to be sister-in-law) at her wedding to wayne - she looked oh so amazing! (i wish i could plan a wedding in 14 days!)

just married! carrie & wayne thomas

my east coast family - carrie, wayne, me, rew, blair , debbie (dad & mom macdonald)

rew and the retirement home kitty

me and santa

the city hall manger scene - who knew that there was that much snow in bethlehem! i'd figured i'd point out Jesus seeing as he was covered over in snow.

the macdonald farm in kouchibouguac, new brunswick (try saying that five times fast)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the things you show to students around christmas...

i laughed when i found this clip on sometimes i wonder what we're really actually teaching our students when i see clips like penguins singing christmas carols in french, but then i realize that watching animated penguins sing and dance is probably much more entertaining than watching me sing and dance (entertaining for the students anyway). let's be serious, i find penguins pretty cute and entertaining, and so i leave you with the clip (which i've yet to show to my students)

Friday, November 30, 2007

sitting, waiting, wishing...

i am not too fond of sitting and waiting.

in about one week i'll know if i'm living here for the next few years or if i'm off to the hinterlands (a.k.a the middle of the country where there's only ever snow or giant bugs).

in either place, andrew and i will be starting our lives together, so i really have very little to complain about. i guess snow could be a good thing...and we could actually afford to live in the middle of nowheresville, saskatchewan, but the lack of mountains and ocean is rather unappealing.

so i'm sitting, and waiting (and trying to be patient) ... will i be here or there? does it even really matter?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Being sent

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the concept of 'being sent'. It's a phrase I hear spoken by friends, by youth and all over the church. In Acts 13 you see Saul and Barnabas sent out to the uttermost parts of the earth (an early example of the 'sending church'). Yet 'sent' need not mean dispersed over all the earth, but rather being marked by intercession, caring for the needs of hurting people, hungering to teach the Word of God, and demonstrating a willingness to listen to & allow the Spirit to move (among other things).

I see the idea of 'being sent' also reflected in the words of Peter. His main challenge in 1 Peter 2:9-10 is that you must act on the privileges that have come to you through the grace of God (not remaining in the despair that holds so many nations captive).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

In looking for more insight on the notion of 'being sent', I came across an article written by Gordon MacDonald in 1981 titled, The Sending Church. Here's an excerpt that I thought related directly to the notion of being sent.

The mission

The mission of Jesus Christ was also part of the sending mindset of Peter. Recall again that incredible moment when Peter resists the notion that Jesus can use him. Christ said to him in what must have been gentle but firm words, "Peter, don't be afraid, don't be afraid." And when Jesus invades that group of men in those first days they have anything but a sending mindset. These men are relatively poor, probably uneducated, come out of the simpler professions and have a provincial view of the world and of history. Moreover, they are poorly organized.

There is a "Peanut's" story in which Linus, Lucy's younger brother, is watching television. Lucy walks into the living room, looks at Linus's choice of program and says, "Change the channel!" Linus looks up and he replies, "What makes you think that you can walk into this room and just say like that, 'Change the channel'?" She says, "You see this hand? Individually these five fingers don't amount to much, but rolled together tightly into a ball-like fist they become a weapon formidable to behold." Linus changes the channel. And after Lucy is comfortably ensconced and watching her own program, Linus looks at his own hand and fingers, and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?"

This could have been said to the disciples to challenge them to become apostles. I wouldn't have picked one of those men. Indeed, there must have been moments when in his humanity Jesus must have said, "Why can't you guys get organized?"

The answer is simple. In the earliest stages of their walk with Jesus they were like many of us. They loved him; they were following him, but they did not yet think of "sending." They had to grasp the notion at the very beginning that God the Father so loved the world that he gave his only Son; he sent him into the world that the world through him might be saved. Until they knew that Jesus was the sent One from the Father, and that they in turn were to be sent by him, they could never mature and get organized as they were to be. Jesus was drilling this deeply into their spirits month by month in experiences of discipleship, failure and success, slowly unfolding to them this enormous concept that we are trying to grasp that every person is sent.

John 4 tells the story of the woman at the well in which Jesus talks to the woman and her life is scoured and changed. The disciples come back thinking that Jesus would be hungry for food. But he said, "Look, food is good, but that's not the important priority today. My food is to do the will of the one who sent me. Look out upon the fields and see these people coming. They are the most important thing." That's the way we think when we are sent.

Slowly, rhythmically, like a sledgehammer pounding at the resistance of their innermost spirits, Peter and the men around him are taught what it means to be sent.

In John 17:18 Jesus says, "Even as you, Father, have sent me into the world, so I have sent them." And in John 20:21 he says, "As the Father has sent me, even so send I you." Over and over, each time he is in the presence of Jesus, this great consuming theme touches Peter's life. He begins to see it as the important issue.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

oh mitosis synchro swimming form

this is how you know you're becoming one of those geeky teachers... sadly i sit here and laugh at mitosis. if only my students had studied for their tests.

Monday, October 15, 2007



andrew and i headed down to seattle for the weekend with 30 of the senior highs and i certainly did not expect to be coming home with a ring on my finger.

the drive down on friday afternoon/evening was absolutely horrid. andrew and chris drove the majority of the sr highs in the two fifteen passenger vans, and i drove andrew's truck with the luggage and three senior high girls. all was going well until we got to the border. andrew and finch were about twenty cars ahead of me and they made it through with very little trouble at all. when i got to the border, however, i was questioned about anything and everything by a very grumpy old border guard. he got mad at me for driving andrew's truck. he got mad at me because the forms that i had for the girls weren't formal enough. he got mad at me for having everyone's luggage (even though that's how we always arrange things and we don't usually have any trouble at all). he even got mad at me for the apple core in the garbage can. after getting as mad as he could, he wrote us up and made us pull over to be searched. that's where we met santiago. he was the equally disgruntled border guard who yelled at us and wouldn't believe that we just wanted to go to seattle to visit and shop with our youth group. after checking our passports for the 57th time, he headed out to the truck and searched everything. when he saw that we really didn't have anything explosive or illegal he reluctantly let us return to the truck and continue on down to seattle.

you can imagine the mood i was in as i drove down. yeah, i was happy that i was finally allowed to continue the trip, but never before had i met two boarder guards as tempermental and down-right mean as those two guys.

when we finally made it to seattle, we pulled up at the church where we were staying (mars hill - west seattle campus), unloaded the truck and the vans, had a quick tour of the place, then jumped back into the vans and proceeded to drive to the space needle for a late night view of the city.

walking up to the space needle andrew told me that he wanted grant and i to organize a surprise snack for the kids. he gave the two of us tickets and we headed up top before everyone else. on the way up grant was a little more serious and focussed than usual, and i questioned whether or not the proposal would happen that night, but i tried not to think about it and continued on as usual. once at the top, it was my job to find a place outside on the deck where all the kids would be able to congregate. i sat out there waiting and as i waited i took a few pictures of the view with my phone. when i turned around i saw one of the kids (geoff cotter) walking towards me with a huge smile on his face and a gerbera daisy in his hand. at that moment i knew exactly what was happening and i began shaking, crying, laughing and smiling all at the same time. as each of the senior highs and leaders passed me a flower they all said something encouraging/something that they loved about me. it was AMAZING. i am so blessed to have such incredible senior highs and friends.

when all thirty had given me their flowers, i stood and waited for andrew. he waited a minute or two after the last of them and then walked toward me with the last flower. all of the kids watched from inside the space needle, with their bodies pressed up against the glass. the first thing he said to me as i stood there smiling/laughing/crying was, "sooo... do you like stuff?" and i answered, "yeah...i like stuff". after that he proceeded to say some incredible beautiful things, then got down on one knee, opened the box and asked me to marry him. i can't remember my exact reaction, but i said yes! it was difficult for him to put on the ring as i balanced all thirty flowers and greenery, but he did it. now not only do i have a beautiful ring, but i also have a beautiful man that i'm going to marry next summer.

i don't think i could be any happier

Monday, October 08, 2007

everyday images

writing a science test

one student's attempt at flattery

walking past a locker

staring at the overhead

marking a bird cell project

my classroom

a whole host of projects

lockers abound

my whiteboard

guarding against cheating