Archives for May 2014

Wisdom From an Elementary School Principal

Every morning my son’s kindergarten class starts off with reading time for the first 15 minutes of the school day. The children choose books from the class library, and parents and family members are invited to stay and read. I try to be there as often as I can, which is two or three days a week at the moment. I enjoy spending that time with my son, and getting to know his classmates.

At least half of the time when I sit in on reading time I’m there for the morning announcements. The principal comes on the PA system and fills the school in on what to expect that day. He also shares daily tips. As I was thinking about it on the walk back from school this morning, it occurred to me that my children’s elementary school principal has a lot of wisdom to share that applies not just to children, but to everyone. Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from those morning announcements.

lessons from elementary school principal wisdom

Wisdom From an Elementary School Principal

  • Don’t use more toilet paper than you need.
  • When you meet a stranger, greet them with a smile and share your name.
  • Eat your healthy food first.
  • Put your garbage in the garbage can.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Everyone has more fun when you include all your friends.
  • Put first things first.
  • If you don’t understand an instruction, ask for help.
  • Take care of your things.
  • Ask before you use something that belongs to someone else.
  • Take turns doing the things your friends want to do.
  • Looking for a great book? The librarian would love to share a suggestion with you.
  • Prepare for your day before you arrive.
  • Try something new today.
  • Take care of the spaces that you use.
  • Congratulate others on their successes.
  • Never, ever throw snow, or you will have to come to my office and talk to me. (Okay, maybe this one doesn’t apply in general.)

What about you – what wisdom have you gleaned from teachers or principals?

Making Your Own Cleaning Products

homemade cleaners green living enviro-mama booksHave you ever had something nagging at the back of your mind? Something that you really want to do, and have been meaning to do, but just can’t seem to get around to actually doing? I’ve been feeling that way about a fabulous book that has been sitting in my tray for months. It’s called Homemade Cleaners: Quick-and-Easy, Toxic-Free Recipes, and it’s written by Mandy O’Brien and Dionna Ford. Unfortunately, being back at school, living through a major renovation fiasco, working and parenting all conspired to keep me away from this book.

I knew I wanted a copy as soon as I heard about it. I’ve always been intrigued by making my own cleaning products. I did attend a local event last year where I tried making my own all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner and tub and tile cleaner. It was good, and it whet my appetite enough to learn more. I’ve looked online, but I found it overwhelming. There’s so much out there, and people seem to experience such mixed results, that I’m not really sure where to start. This is why I appreciate this book, which provides a friendlier introduction to non-toxic cleaning.

For such a small book, Homemade Cleaners is packed full of information. It starts out by encouraging simple steps, and explaining why we should care about the chemicals in our cleaning products. Then it’s divided into sections by cleaning task. There are tons of tips, and recipes for everything from all-purpose cleaners to glass cleaners to furniture polish to laundry soap and more. There’s also information on dealing with bugs, keeping your yard healthy, purifying indoor air and choosing and cleaning a grill (which, being from Vancouver, I will insist on calling a barbeque).

I haven’t tried as many of the recipes as I would have liked, but even on first glance I’ve appreciated that green cleaning doesn’t require you to go out and buy a whole lot of stuff. If you’ve got baking soda, vinegar, borax, castile soap, lemon juice and some essential oils you’re most of the way there. There are multiple recipes you can try for most cleaning tasks, so if one doesn’t work for you there are lots more to try. With the renovations happening in my house and new wiring, tile, cabinetry and paint in my bedroom and ensuite, I especially appreciated the tips on how to use plants to remove chemicals from indoor air.

homemade cleaners non-toxic cleaning book review

I would say that Homemade Cleaners is mostly about how to adopt a simpler, less toxic cleaning philosophy for yourself and your family. It’s much more than a recipe book. If you’re wondering how to reduce the number of chemicals your family is exposed to at home, it’s a great place to start.

What about you – what are your favourite green cleaning resources?

My Writing Process

I realize it’s tedious to blog about this, but I really wish I were blogging more than I am. This is why, when the fabulous Dana at Celiac Kiddo invited me to participate in a blog tour about my writing process, I was all over it. It simplified the posting process by giving me a good, solid framework, and gave me a reason to write. The tour involves answering four questions, so I’m just going to go ahead and do that.

1. What am I working on?

Honestly, I’m mostly doing writing for school and work right now. This means churning out articles for local moms at VancouverMom.ca, and writing for the English lit and geography classes I’m taking this semester. I also blog a lot, but mostly in my head while I’m driving or in the shower. I’ve composed some great posts … they just never actually got written. I’ve also taken to composing fiction in my head recently, which is something I haven’t done for ages.

textbooks
My current writing fodder

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I honestly have no idea how to answer this one. I think all that I can say is that we all have our own unique voices, and I am no different. Beyond that? I’m not sure I even have a genre. I’m not high brow enough, since I mostly write online.

3. Why do I write what I do?

The writing I do for work and school is obligatory, for the most part. However, I do try to make it good, and I actually find that I enjoy it once I get into it. For instance, last semester I wrote a history paper about Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan that I’m rather proud of, and which I derived quite a lot of satisfaction from. The other writing I do satisfies a need inside my soul to write, even if it’s not nearly as frequent or meaningful as I would like it to be.

4. How does my writing process work?

I am the sort of person who sits down at the computer and bangs away until I have something that resembles a blog post, article or paper. When I have to submit an outline for school, I often write the paper and then go back and re-construct an outline because I find it easier to tease out a structure after the fact than to write in a methodical and organized fashion. Sometimes I’ll change subjects or tracks a number of times, deleting and re-ordering paragraphs, adding extra points and re-drafting my concluding paragraph until it’s perfect.

There are a few thing that are non-negotiable to my writing process: I need to be warm, so I keep a blanket near my chair. I like to have the radio on, even though I’m probably more productive when it’s quiet. Finally, I think I do my best of writing while I’m sipping a cup of herbal tea.

What about you – what does your writing process look like? I’d love to hear!

What I Will do This Year

Let’s just ignore the fact that it’s been more than two weeks since my last post, shall we? Home renovations are progressing (at long last), and they’ve preoccupied me. Also, I’ve been preparing to head back to school for another semester, which just started today. At the moment I’m signed up for geography and an English course on drama. In case you were wondering how last semester went, I took three classes and got two A’s and one A-, which I am very happy with. But enough with the housekeeping.

birthday year ahead navel gazing

Birthday extreme close-up

Today is my 38th birthday. For the past few years my birthdays have triggered something of an existential crisis. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that surely I should be wiser, more grounded and more accomplished at this point in my life. To help myself overcome this intense birthday navel-gazing, I like to set some personal intentions. It’s a way to give myself that direction I’m craving. It’s also a way to honour the fact that I have a whole new year stretched out before me, and I can use it however I see fit. Instead of lamenting what I haven’t done in the past year (or the past 38 years), I’m going to think about what I want to do.

For the past few years I’ve made birthday resolutions. I’ve had about a 50/50 success rate. I think that’s to be expected, especially given that things change over the course of a year. Still, even at a 50/50 success rate, I’m bringing a whole lot of things into my life that I didn’t have the year before. I believe it’s still a worthwhile exercise regardless of how it turns out, because it gives me a chance to focus on reflect, and think about what I want more of in my life. So without further ado, here’s my list for this year.

What I Will do at 38

  • Finish up the renovations that have taken almost a year, and then resist the urge to make even more home improvements.
  • Go running.
  • Spend more time with my hands in the dirt.
  • Buy a bicycle.
  • Volunteer in a middle school.
  • Sing.
  • Learn how to use my camera.
  • Write.
  • Finish my prerequisites so that I can apply for teacher training.
  • Nap more often.
  • Laugh more.
  • Apply for teacher training.
  • Try kayaking.
  • Practice forgiveness of myself and others.
  • Drink even more herbal tea.
  • Eat more leafy greens.
  • Take some mini vacations with my family.
  • Not beat myself up if I don’t do everything on this list.

What do you want to do with your next year on earth? I love it if you’d play along in honour of my birthday!

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