It seems like just yesterday we started the 2020/2021 school year under some very different and difficult circumstances than ever before. To say that the current school year has been a challenge is an understatement. I've been teaching for 17 years, yet this year it feels like it did when I was just starting off.
I took on the role of teaching one of the blended/hybrid cohorts for my district this year. I'm spending ½ the day teaching Grade 6/7 online and students attend school for in person instruction 3 afternoons each week. The Grade 6/7 curriculum is not new to me; having to redesign it for an online version is. I was also under the impression that the blended program would expire in December and all students would return back to the classroom full-time after our winter break. It turns out this current system will now continue until June.
I'm having to maneuver so many obstacles, whether it be technology issues, recreating new ways to teach in order to meet the various needs of my learners, or keeping the students engaged and on task, especially in the virtual world. The days feel long and exhausting, yet I choose to find the positive in everything I do. No day is perfect, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
I feel blessed to be able to teach a wonderful community of learners, which has been validated by their touching comments and gestures this week alone. Teaching during a pandemic is not easy, but it makes everything worth it when I think of how far my students have come this year. From my autistic student who has been come so far as to ask for help on her own, to the girl who left in tears because she was moving schools, to the young boy who's parent told me he excitedly talks about his various projects when they had to pry it out of him in the past, my heart is overcome with joy and pride. It's moments like these that I am reminded that I love what I do!
As we begin the winter break, I will definitely take the time to enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation. I'll be spending time cooking delicious treats, sharing my passion for cooking with the world, getting back into my workout routine and of course spending time with the four legged members of my family. Christmas will look much different this year, as I will be joining my family virtually, but I am at peace as I know this is not a permanent change. It's what must happen to keep the people I love safe and healthy for many years to come.
When all is said and done, we will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever! I encourage you to embrace this challenging time and try to find the positive each and every day.
From my family to yours, we wish you a very merry Holiday season.
I still remember the day I wrote this:
"Sometimes, things don't go as planned. You may be aiming for two birds in a bush, and end up with not even one in your hand. There will always be times when things don't go your way. You toil hard, give it your best and end up crying. In the end you think maybe it was just because you didn't pray. But after all is said and done, and you grow older, and you find yourself in a place that is happier, you realize the universe never gave you a cold shoulder!" (Despicable Me).
I had just spent 5 weeks suffering through the most excruciating time of my life ~ Kidney Stones! Don't let those itty bitty little stones fool you. Think of them as little pebbles covered in minuscule razor blades, sitting comfortably in your kidney(s) until the day they decide to dislodge and take an unwelcome trip down your ureter and to your bladder, and then out! I have no idea how long my little mining operation of 10 stones had been forming, but the day they dislodged themselves will never be forgotten!
I will spare you the details, but it started with pee the colour of coca cola and lower back pain that was so debilitating, it felt like I tried to lift a 1 ton truck without success.
The next 10 days were spent in and out of the local ER and 2 emergency trips to the OR to blast those suckers out. It turns out I had about 10 stones in my left kidney that were ranging in size from 2 mm to 10 mm. Unfortunately the back pain would continue to linger for several months and my energy was non existant.
The year 2020 was going so well and I had plans to go on several hiking adventures this summer. I guess it's true when they say that you don't realize how much you miss things until they get taken away from you. Not being able to work out let alone being more or less housebound all summer is not what I had in mind. I love being active! Thankfully, by the time school started back in September, I was starting to feel somewhat back to normal in terms of my energy, minus the lingering back pain. Things were starting to look up! I was back to coaching and training Flying Trapeze and I eased back into my workouts.
Then came mid-September and another scare - my back pain was back with a vengeance. After spending another day at the ER and third trip through the CT Scanner, I was happy to hear I was clear of stones. It appears the back pain was more muscular and most likely residual from the stones. Just my luck! And so the next month was spent taking it slow, following up with my massage and physio therapists, and going on gentle walks with the pups.
I also had to revamp my diet and limit foods that I love, which was the hard part. People can form a variety of types of stones, the most common being what I had, calcium oxalate stones. I have since learned that oxalate is made daily by your liver or can also be absorbed from the foods you eat; foods such as spinach, nuts, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and even chocolate (not happening). My urologist also told me I need to drink at least 3 L of water a day, which has not been an easy feat for me and took some bladder training. Not only that, I am at a very high risk of developing more stones in my future, so I really do need to make sure to follow doctor's orders. We will find out in March sometime if my kidneys have decided to cooperate (fingers crossed).
Happy to report that I am finally feeling back to my old self. My next challenge is to get back into my old routines of working out almost daily so that I can get back to working on my strength and fitness goals. Through all of this, I do feel like I've done a pretty good job at sticking to my nutrition goals - sticking to a LCHF and moderate protein lifestyle has been great for my gut health. In addition, the scale hasn't budged and my clothes are still fitting great. Sure, my abs are not where they were at the beginning of summer, but I know they will come back.
For me, the most important aspect is getting my health back to normal levels so that I can come back stronger and better than ever!
It's a good thing that I'm such an optimistic person because when life throws me curveballs, I'm definitely one to throw them back and prevail!
For as long as I can remember, dogs have been a part of my life. My parents had an amazing German Shepherd before I was born. Years later we got a German Longhaired Pointer named Jenna. She was a bit of a crazy pup, had loads of energy but she was a big love bug. Much to my discontent, my parents decided to re-home her with family friends, as she was not well suited for the city lifestyle; she spent the rest of her days living happily on over 100 acres, lakeside, in a more remote part of our province.
It didn't take long before we welcomed another pup to the family. Fibs was our first miniature schnauzer. Having a small dog was a first for our little family, but not the last. In fact, when Fibs was 5 or 6 years old we decided to get a female miniature schnauzer. Xena was a spitfire and definitely brought the puppy energy back out of Fibs. To this day I attribute my love for this breed to these two pups.
When I moved away to begin teaching, not having a dog around was quite the adjustment. The new career, moving to a new city and living on my own for the first time definitely didn't leave time to add a fur-ball to the mix, but alas, a mystery cat named Misty joined my small little home. Cats are in a league of their own, but Misty quickly made herself a home in my bungalow. It was during this time I was also volunteering as a dog walker with our local SPCA. I loved going to our local shelter and taking the dogs for a walk around the block, although it felt more like the dogs were walking me at times, especially during the dead of winter and icy streets.
Had it not been for my time with SPCA, I'd have never adopted my first dog, Buster! Buster the Beagle was my best friend, my sidekick and he had such a gentle soul. He was stubborn and challenged me to get him through his separation anxiety. But he taught me so much more about the meaning of life, happiness, forgiveness and just enjoying the simple things in life. He came into my life when I most needed him and we went through countless adventures together, including 3 moves. When it was his time to cross the rainbow bridge, my heart shattered into a million pieces. It was difficult to comprehend just why he left me, but his time had come to live to be free and wild, chasing rabbits and who knows what else.
I'm a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and that the universe sends us signs all the time. Fast forward 6 months later, I had a dream of Buster playing with Xena and somehow that evening came across a Kijiji listing of the cutest little schnoodle puppy, now known as my little Tikah. She sure has been a blessing in my life and I am grateful to have jumped on the chance to bring her home in 2014. Over the past 6 years, Tikah and I have made sure to continue those traditions that Buster and I had started - beach days, hiking up mountains, road trips, park trips and a lot of couch snuggles. She makes the best adventure buddy and Buster's spirit surely lives on in Tikah.
But why have 1 adventure buddy, when you can have two? Loki is the newest addition and we couldn't be happier. It didn't take long for Tikah to accept him into our pack, although she was a little hesitant for the first couple of days. These two spend their days wrestling fiercely, stealing each other's toys and sometimes even sleeping snuggled up side by side. There are times I've most certainly forgotten what it's like having a puppy around, especially when the little monster leaves me a little puddle on the living room floor or when he thinks anything and everything is a chew toy. The last month has felt like a rollercoaster of a ride, but I wouldn't turn back the clock and I'm excited to see what this new phase of life brings.
Our special friends
A blog post about the fur-balls wouldn't be complete if some of our special four-legged friends didn't make an appearance.
This is me
Just a simple gal living on the West Coast of Canada, sharing her love and passion for food and fitness... and her puppy dogs.