Tuesday, August 31, 2021

What I Read The First Part Of August

The first part of August I was reading on my Kobo in Saskatchewan. I took out books that I had wanted to read for awhile or, books that I had out from the library in physical form and could get immediately as an e-book. Thus my reading for the first part of August was a little eclectic! This was also the blog post where I didn't realize that some of the books I was reading were non-fiction. Ooops.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

I actually finished this book in July and forgot to include it in my July reading. I broke the book down into chunks and read a chunk every day. This is a very academic book and I probably need to read it again as I know I didn't take everything in. However, this is a good book to have read, even if it is a struggle to read. I currently have Stamped (for kids) out from the library for my kids to read because the ideas in this book are something we all need to know, and talk about.

Lady Clementine

This is a fictional account of Winston Churchill's wife. This book made me want to know more about Clementine Churchill. From the impression I got from this book, I think she would have made an excellent politician in her own right. And she definitely fought for the rights of women, especially during World War II. While this book doesn't focus solely on WWII, it definitely covers it. I also like how it openly addressed Clementine Churchill's mental health struggles.

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

I read this book in one sitting. I CANNOT imagine spending 31 years on death row for a crime I hadn't committed, especially a crime where I clearly could not have committed it. This book was so engaging, I started reading it at 10:30pm and, before I knew it, I had finished it (and it was 2am). Ooops. Be warned though -- it is hard to put down.

Reasons to Stay Alive

After reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, I checked out almost every book of his I could get from our library. One thing I don't like about my Kobo is that I don't have a "blurb" of the book to read so I just jump right in and don't know what the book is about. After about three chapters of reading, I thought, "Is this book non-fiction?" Yes, yes it is. It's a very real account of Haig's struggle with depression. It is beautiful and I think everyone should read it.

 The Boyfriend Project (The Boyfriend Project, #1)

This was a fun rom-com and I already have the second book in the series on my TBR. This was just a feel good book.


This is another one I didn't realize was non-fiction until after I'd finished reading it and was doing some Google research on it. I found this on a list of "Books to read instead of American Dirt." It was a good book, with hard stories, but I wish I'd realized it was an autobiography. Again, the hazards of reading on my Kobo :(

Boyfriend Material (Boyfriend Material, #1)

This book was just really fun. Another love story about opposites attracting. There were moments which made me cry (but I might have been overtired as it was another late night read) and moments which made me laugh. There's another book coming in this series and you can count on me checking it out.

 The Rose Code

Kate Quinn is back to her The Alice Network best in this book. I LOVED The Alice Network, did not enjoy The Huntress, so was wary of having too high expectations for this book. Honestly, this might be one of my favourite books I've read this year. It was soooo good!!! And since it focused around Bletchley Park, you can count on the fact that I've picked up some non-fiction about code breaking, Enigma, and Bletchley Park to continue that theme. I really think the best books send you down paths you weren't expecting.

Feels Like Falling

I started this book before we went on vacation and just couldn't finish it. It's a fun book but didn't suck me in and I was okay to finish the last sixty pages once we got home. This would be a good beach read and I did like the story of female friendships. However, almost every female ends up with a male love interest so you know... predictable.

Faithless in Death (In Death, #52)

Sometimes JD Robb's In Death books can be a bit formulaic, which is why I love them. And then sometimes, she writes one which has depth and a gripping story line and you realize why she is such a good storyteller. If you are an In Death fan, be prepared for a GREAT book in this one. I thought the story was really good and I didn't want to put it down.

The Canterbury Sisters

I picked up this novel because another blogger was reading it and it looked interesting. In short -- I loved it and read it in one day. It was a weekend and I just kept sneaking away to read it. This book made me want to walk from London to The Canterbury Cathedral with a group of women and hear their stories. This was such an unexpected surprise of a book in the best way.


I didn't know Alex Gino had more books out until Sam showed this to me at the library. "Hey Mommy, here's another book by that author." We both read it and I really liked this one. I really want Gino to write more books about pre-teens exploring their gender/sexual identity. I liked that while this book had some of the same characters as George, it was a fresh story.

So that's what I read the first half of August. My last half of August books are coming on Friday (I hope) and let's just say, with not being on vacation, and working full-time, I have not read near as many books. Oh well.

Monday, August 30, 2021

10 Questions About Lifelong Learning

I'm a little late with my response to Leslie's "10 On The 10th" questions but I'm answering them anyways. It feels particularly apt to post my answers to these today because I am starting a "new job" this morning. After a year and a half as working as a substitute secretary/librarian for our local school board, last week I got hired for permanent hours!!! I'm so excited!!! So I will now be working as a second secretary at a large JK - Gr 8 school in our board four days a week and today is my first day!!! I'm looking forward to knowing where I'll be headed off to four days a week, being able to gain experience by working with a head secretary, and being able to fully invest in a school community, knowing I am there for the long-term. Assuming I pass the probation period, this position is mine until I choose to resign it.

So without further ado, read on for my responses to these questions about lifelong learning as I take on a new adventure in learning this week :)

Thankful Thursday 07.29.2021 

1) How old were you when you started school? Did you attend pre-kinder and/or kinder or go straight into first grade?

I started kindergarten in September of the year I turned five. I still remember going for my kindergarten visit the previous spring and the name of the kid who showed me around (Amanda) and what she was wearing (a yellow shirt with a quilted blue vest). Those details have remained so clearly in my head.

This is my Kindergarten school photo from October 1977. I was very serious!  

2)  Were you a good student? What was your favorite subject?

I think I was a very good student. I loved following rules and doing what the teacher said. I wasn't good at art or gym (in Kindergarten I could only do 1 sit up in 60 seconds on those physical tests) but I loved reading.

3)  As a child, did you take music lessons? Or play a sport? Do you still play an instrument now?

I did take music lessons. My elementary vice-principal's wife taught me my first years of piano. They had a spiral staircase in their house and I thought it was the neatest thing ever! I didn't really do sports (see above about my sit ups -- hahaha!!!) although we did take swimming lessons. I still can play piano but I don't often make time for it.

4)  Did you attend any kind of training or classes beyond high school? If so, what did you study?  Did you wind up working in a profession or job for which those classes or training prepared you?

I attended university and got my BA - English. That prepared me for pretty much nothing! Hahaha!!! Somehow I fell into work as an administrative assistant and that is pretty much what I have done my entire "career." Currently, I work as an elementary school secretary.

University grad photo, May 1994 

5)  Have you taken any personal growth or adult education classes for fun? During the year that was Covid, did you home school, learn a new app to work from home, teach yourself to do something you might have paid someone else to do for you?

Not really. I mean, I took an Introduction to Judaism course when Dave and I were dating but that was about thirteen years ago. I also took adult ballet lessons for awhile and violin lessons. I love to learn! I didn't really take on new learning during Covid -- maybe I should have?!?!?!

6)  What would you like to learn how to do that you don’t know how to do already?

I keep wanting to go back to violin lessons and I love learning languages. However, right now there isn't a lot of extra time for new lessons for me. However, I am trying to do the "Couch to 5K" program, so maybe I'm learning to run???

7)  Name something that you learned easily. Then name something that was a struggle for you to learn to do.

I learned to read really easily. I remember that, while they didn't really teach reading in Kindergarten, I was invited to stay after school to participate in a reading program. Math was never my favourite subject and probably the one I struggled with the most. Then I hit Grade 12 and had a fabulous math teacher and math was one of my highest marks.

I also only took one year of physics and never really got it. Thankfully, I didn't have to continue on with it, so I didn't :)

My Grade 12 grad photo, June 1990. 

8)  What’s the last thing you remember learning? What kind of learner are you: visual, auditory, hands-on/kinesthetic, verbal, logical/mathematical?

Well, I've been learning how to be a school secretary! Since I was working the last week and a half at a different school, as a substitute, I've been learning all the things the secretaries do to get the school year up and running. It's a lot! I think I'm a hands-on, verbal learner. Let me do it, and talk it through with you, and I'm good.

9)  Hard to teach an old dog new tricks, school of hard knocks, pass with flying colors, learn by heart, burn the midnight oil, pull an all-nighter, play hooky – which of these expression best fits your life lately? Why?

"Burn the midnight oil" fits best because there is so much going on right now. It's hard to be working full-time and still try to be an effective parent and then do all the things adults are expected to do -- grocery shop, laundry, clean the house, etc. There's just never enough hours in a day these days.

10)  What is something you’ve learned from past mistakes?

Even mistakes will teach you something and everyone makes them so don't be afraid to fail.

Also, change your furnace filter every month so your furnace doesn't break down and you'll save on furnace repairs. Oh, and make sure your smoke alarms aren't expired or you'll get a not so lovely, middle of the night, wake up!

11)  Bonus: Share your favorite learning/education quote.

'Never let formal education get in the way of your learning.’ –Mark Twain

'Give a [person] a fish and you feed [them] for a day;

teach a [person] to fish and you feed [them] for a lifetime.' - Maimonides

I didn't have these off the top of my head so I searched learning quotes and really liked these two.

 If you want to read the other posts in this link up, go check out Leslie's link up here.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

I Spy: Week 34

Well, I didn't quite get my post done in time for yesterday, but I'm not too far off, right?!?!? It's been a bit of a crazy week with job stuff so I just didn't have a lot of time to take pictures (or do much of anything else). So I took a lot of these pictures yesterday morning. As always, I'm linking up with Lysha at A Camera and A Cookbook.

One note to share about three of my pictures this week -- I actually took them in "manual" mode without using the flash. I feel like the colours showed up so much truer that way. Comment below if you can figure out which three pictures were in "manual" mode. Also, I don't have a tripod so usually my "manual" pictures are a little blurry but I didn't feel like they were this week. Yay me!

 Let's Play iSpy 2021


I struggled a bit with this prompt but decided to take a picture of our living room lights. I've never closley looked at the decoration behind the fake candles, and it really is rather "ornate."


This may not look like a picture of something "spicy" but Sam has really been enjoying the Spicy Chicken Mr Noodles soups this summer so I wanted to capture this memory. And Sam says he wanted to capture this memory too!


 We bought this watermelon from the produce stand at our pool this week. It sat on this stool for two days and, thankfully, didn't "roll" off of it. Dave has now cut it up so the rolling danger has been mitigated. Phew!



Something really great happened for me on Wednesday and we bought this fall planter to mark the occasion and celebrate. (I'll talk more about what happened tomorrow -- or later this week if I don't get the blog post done in time!) Anyways, I decided to capture these decidedly not "muted" colours for this prompt. Sorry if you think I cheated on this one :)

{your choice}

Because we were in a celebratory mood, we bought a few treat things we might not have otherwise gotten. We've already gone through one container of this six layer bean dip and the cheese is incredibly good. YUM!!!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Monthly Musings: Back To School/Fall Planning

Since it's the last Thursday of the month, it's once again time to link up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings. I love linking up with these women and they always have the greatest questions

1) Do you meal plan and prep? Any favourite back to school recipes to share?

Yes, I almost always meal plan a month at a time. I started when Sam was a baby so I've been doing that for at least twelve years! Last weekend, we planned all the way through the first week of September so for the first week of school we're having easy recipes and family favourites -- tacos, tuna noodle casserole, and ending the week with a "Fast Food Festival of Friday." Hahaha!

You can see the "recipe" I wrote up for Tuna Noodle Casserole here.

2) How do you buy and organize school supplies?

Well, for the past two years, thanks to Covid, we haven't had to buy school supplies. The schools are providing everything the kids need. I'm actually kind of sad about not being able to buy the supplies ourselves because I love school supplies, even if they're not for me.

When we do need to buy them, we usually try to go sometime in August and then label them all right away and put them in the backpacks so everything is ready to go for the first day.

3) Any back to school traditions?

We take a "first day of school" picture with our sign.

Sam's first day of JK, 2013 and first day of Grade 6, 2020

Rachel's first day of JK, 2015 and first day of Grade 4, 2020
I didn't realize how fully the kids had embraced the "first day of school" sign until I got hired to work in a school and they made ME a "first day of school" sign! It was the sweetest thing! 

Additionally, I always bake a lot of muffins leading up to the first weeks of school -- they're so easy to grab for a quick breakfast, to add to a lunch box, or as a good after school snack.

4) Bring lunch? Buy lunch? Favourite lunchbox item?

We all take our lunches. The kids used to have Pizza Days on Fridays but that didn't happen last year due to Covid. However, I have heard that they might be coming back this year and I would be sooooo excited about that. Usually the Pizza Days are a fundraiser and we love not having to pack lunch one day a week!

In case you didn't read my blog post yesterday, I'm so excited to finally get a more adult lunch bag to take to work this year. Last year I used Sam's Kindermusik cooler all year but now I get to carry one with flowers! 

Probably the favourite lunchbox item is muffins or anything else baked and homemade.

5) Favourite thing about back to school then and now?

My favourite thing about back to school is it feels like a reset for new routines and rhythms. I love how fresh everything feels in September! It's like a new year and I just LOVE it. Plus, after the non-routine of summer, I just love getting back into a more predictable daily (and weekly) schedule.

6) Pumpkin spice... love or hate?

Hate. Blargh -- I don't understand the excitement about pumpkin spice.

7) Do you decorate for fall?

Yes, I put up our fall wreath and replace my pots of annuals with chrysanthemums. I am getting soooo excited to switch my pots out next week. I usually wait until the beginning of September to do all that.

8) How do you transition your wardrobe to fall?

I usually start to wear slightly darker clothes. And I have some nice shirts with darker oranges and reds and navy that I wear more in the fall. I also put away the summer skirts. I don't have any great fall skirts and I should work on that...

9) Favourite fall fashion staples?

My slippers! And cardigans for work.

10) When does school start where you live?

School hasn't started for us yet. It almost always starts the Tuesday after Labour Day Monday so the first day of school this year is September 7th -- we still have almost two weeks left to go.

As always, thank you to Holly and Patty for hosting such a fun link up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

What's Up Wednesday: August 2021

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday for August 2021. As always, I'm linking up with Shay at Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer at Sheaffer Told Me To to talk about what we've been up to lately.

For the past seventeen months I've started my WUW posts with a Covid update. Well, I live in Canada, so while cases are on the rise (slightly) in our province, we have a significant portion of our population over 12 doubly vaccinated and so life is (somewhat) normal. I mean, we still have mask mandates and distancing but we don't have a lot of restrictions right now which is so great. We're looking ahead to school starting in two weeks. The kids will have to wear masks but it seems like extracurricular activities might be an option and it sounds like the school libraries will be open too! We're slowly getting back to "normal."

image from here

What we're eating this week... The end of August contains some of my favourite eating of the whole year. We're in peach and tomato season around here and I've been consuming both like I'll never eat them again! Sam also convinced me to buy some plums so he's been working his way through those.

What I'm reminiscing about... We went to visit my parents' in Saskatchewan earlier this month. My cousins and aunt from Alberta took a little road trip to visit us. I am reminiscing about how great it was to HUG them (!!!) and we made a Low Country Boil to eat with them which was so fun!!! We also laughed and laughed and laughed. I LOVED seeing them.

What I'm loving... I'm loving how independent our kids are getting. They spent some time on their own at the pool earlier this week and Dave and I have gone for a few outings on our own while they stay home. We just suddenly seem to be in a new stage of life where they don't need us 100% of the time and it feels pretty great!

What we've been up to... Rachel worked really hard last week and completed her dance exams which had been postponed from the spring. Sam finished off his baseball season for the summer.

We decided to eat ice cream for three days in a row...
... and we watered the garden at our school and found a really unique looking sunflower.
We've been enjoying the last of summer and gearing up for fall.
What I'm dreading... Well, I'm currently working at a school which is about a fifteen to twenty minute walk from our house and, for the next few days, we're under a heat warning. Ugh. It's supposed to be a humidex of 40C (104F) at the time I'm supposed to be walking home and I don't do well with heat, so I'm dreading that. It's almost September, people -- it's time to cool down a bit! And all you people who live in the Southern US are laughing so hard at me right now :)

Also, I think "humidex" is a Canadian thing so you can read about what exactly it is here.

What I'm working on... My summer vacation ended with less than 24 hours notice so I've been working full-time since last Wednesday. Thus, this past weekend, I tried to start getting ahead of all the school things. Both kids got new lunch bags and we made sure they both have good water bottles. I've ordered some new masks for the kids and basically, I'm just trying to get ahead of the "back to school/fall activities are starting" chaos. Wish me luck!
Realizing Rachel needed all new dance shoes and tights for September. Ack!

What I'm excited about... In and among the new lunch bags, I decided to stop using Sam's Kindermusik cooler from when he was one and I bought myself an adult lunch bag!!! Whooo hooo! It's so pretty and I'm so excited about it!
The Kindermusik cooler bag I used all last year on the left 
and my new "adult" bag on the right.
Dave said I should call it a "grown up lunch bag" rather than an "adult lunch bag" because calling it "adult" makes it sound like it has naked people all over it! Hahaha!!! No naked people here, just flowers :)

What I'm watching/reading... I started a new virtual walk so I'm currently walking the North Coast of Scotland (virtually). I've been doing lots of walking/running lately so I'm watching my progress on this walk which is really exciting. This is the third virtual mission I've done through this app and I love that's it's gotten me into consistent exercising. If you're interested in checking it out, you can see it here. (This is not sponsored -- I just might be addicted to doing these virtual walks! If only I could actually do them in real life.)

Sadly, since I've started working, I don't have as much time to read. However, I read Kate Quinn's The Rose Code a few weeks ago and then I checked out a bunch of the books from the library about Bletchley Park, code breaking, the Enigma code, and all that fun stuff. Yes, it's very random but I find it soooo interesting. And after the disappointment I felt reading Quinn's second novel, The Huntress, I was thrilled to love The Rose Code as much as I loved The Alice Network.

What I'm listening to... Right this moment, I'm listening to my husband washing the dishes.
However, the night before I started back to work, our smoke detectors went off at midnight and woke me and the kids out of sound sleeps. We couldn't find any smoke or issues, and after talking to the fire department for advice, we went back to bed. (Dave was still awake.) About forty minutes later, they went off again. Ugh. So heeding the fire department's advice from earlier, we vacated our house and called 9-1-1.
A fire truck arrived and a team of firefighters went through our house with sensors checking for smoke and carbon monoxide. They didn't find anything and suggested that the issue might be that a few of our detectors had expired. Dave replaced them the next day and we've slept through the night undisturbed since. So let this be your PSA -- check your smoke detectors' expiry dates or you too could be listening to middle of the night alarms.
Just a little excitement at 1am!

What I'm wearing... A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give the Couch to 5K program a try. It's become a bit of a family affair and Dave and Rachel have joined me on every run. Sam came out for the first one :) Thus, I've been wearing running clothes lately. Other than that I've been wearing work clothes, interview clothes (I'm interviewing for permanent hours), or pajamas. Fun times!
This picture was taken at 6:10am yesterday morning. Rachel, Dave, and I got up early to go running and the sun wasn't quite up yet. Thus, you get a grainy picture of a tired looking me!
What I'm doing this weekend... I don't know yet. We're going swimming. I hope to catch up on some blogging -- both writing posts and reading blogs. I don't want to set an alarm either day, which will be a nice change. It's probably going to be a quiet weekend and that will be perfect!

What I'm looking forward to next month... I'm so excited about September!!! The kids are going back to school, I'm going to buy sunflowers and chrysanthemums, Rachel gets to return to in person dance, we're probably going to be able to go to church in person for the first time since March 2020 (!!!), and we're going to an IN PERSON TORONTO BLUE JAYS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaaahhhhhh!!! We really didn't think we'd get to see our beloved Blue Jays play live during the 2021 season so I'm thrilled that, not only did they get to return to Canada but, we get to go see them!!!!!!!!! I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What else is new... We spent quite a bit on flavoured sparkling waters this summer so the kids convinced Dave and I that we needed a Soda Stream. We've been having fun making fizzy water and drinking it with a little lime or lemon juice added. Yum!!!

So that's what's up with me (us) this last Wednesday of August. Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to make some time to read the other posts in this link up. Until then -- heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

I Spy: Week 33

Hey, hey, hey -- look at me! I'm posting an I Spy post on a Saturday! Gasp. What is even happening in blog world?!?!? This is an even more miraculous occurrence because my week did not turn out at all like I'd planned. I'm hoping to write more about that on Monday but let's just say my summer vacation ended unexpectedly on less than 24 hours notice. Womp, womp.

However, today is about I Spy, and as always, I'm linking up with Lysha at A Camera and A Cookbook. And I need to give a shout out to Dave as he helped me come up with some ideas for some of these prompts.

Let's Play iSpy 2021


This is a picture from earlier this week when our smoke detectors went off twice in half an hour with no discernible cause. The second time it happened, we were "stuck" outside at 1am until firefighters could go through our house with sensors and determine there were no issues.

(There were no issues and they think the problem might have been that two of our smoke detectors were expired.)

{house – (summer) – quarterly pic}

I'm so happy we did a bunch of yard work in the front yard this past weekend. Our front yard, at least, is looking pretty good right now! I love summer when everything is blooming.  


I don't actually know if these are "ink" but these are the original blueprints from our house. Our house was built in 1942 so these blueprints are eighty years old. The previous owners found them in the basement and framed them and left them with the house.

{starts with "C"}

Challah on the cutting board which my dad made me -- there is a lot in this picture which "starts with 'C.'"  

{your choice}


Rachel has had a ton of extra dance this week as she is taking her first ever dance exam this morning. It was supposed to happen in the spring but Covid delayed it. She has been working so hard and I'm so happy she will get to finally take her exam.