Literacy and Wild Blue Flamingos!

Wild Blue Flamingo

Great Blue Heron: London, Ontario

This is a “wild blue flamingo” according to my three year old granddaughter.  Or at least it was until I spoiled it all by telling her and her sister that it was called a Great Blue  Heron.   But…”wild blue flamingos”  is an amazing construct based on experience – and I believe it is a key ingredient in literacy and the ability to read well.

This post came about as the result of one of Janet Lansbury Facebook posts and a blog post about school readiness by Teacher Tom .  I appreciated his comments – because I had tried to “delay” reading with my own daughter.  She was just too determined to wait – and caught on very, very quickly.

Literacy is more than just reading words on a page.  Well chosen words, carefully crafted into sentences and paragraphs have the power to create a picture.  Our ability to enter into that picture is determined  by the ability to join our experiences with the authors intent and enter into the story more completely.

By giving our children and grandchildren a rich set of experiences – touch, taste, feel, sound, emotion, we create not just readers but the connection of two minds.  I think this is pretty cool.  Nature walks, new foods, textures, art, painting, cooking…. all these activities lead to better readers!

When my grandchildren meet a heron within the pages of a book – they will know what they are reading about.  They have seen, heard and watched them.  They have made a connection between the flamingos at the zoo and this wild bird that shows up while we are walking.

This is a bit of a ramble – but an important one I think.  I too am a reader and so are you.  You may have the opportunity to speak into the lives of people who do not yet read.  Save the ABC’s for another day.  Give them and yourselves the gift of experience, of knowing, and later they will engage with the printed word with all their senses engaged!

Enjoy your books!



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Getting Behind on Life…

This feels like it is going to be a discouraging kind of post – most likely because I am feeling discouraged.  I feel like this holding pattern is going to last forever and there will be no end to it.  I know this is NOT TRUE.  I know that it will change, but at this moment the feeling of impotency is very strong.

So, in order to get out if the rut, I’m going to “blog outloud”  and see if I can’t find some direction….

PROBLEM:  JOB HUNT;  I am my own worst enemy here, feeling that everyone is more competent than I am and not going for it.  Time, energy, focus… SOLUTION:  Don’t make the resume issue so complicated.  Start volunteering.  Make those phone calls.

PROBLEM:  WEIGHT LOSS;  The walking app by Leslie Sansone is really helping with the exercise part of it.  So the calories in part is the problem.  SOLUTION:  Focus on the success I’m having with exercise.  Make a strong effort to eat less at supper and in the evening.

PROBLEM:  FINANCES;  This has been a family wide stressor, so the solution has to be involve the whole family.  We are making headway with this one, but again, I need to be bringing in my own income if we are to reach our goals of having a home of our own.  SOLUTION:  We have moved away from denial to honesty.  This helps all of us know what needs to be addressed and how to address it.  Thanks to Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snow Ball and Vertex42 we have a plan and a date for eliminating family debt.  This is a forward move for all of us!

ACCOUNTABILITY:  This is important.  I blog about my weight loss journey at One Year, One Week, One Pound so for my weightloss efforts, you can check that out.  I promise to be regular.    For the rest of it – stay tuned.  While there will be other posts about other things, I will let you know how we are doing.

This post was rather cathartic.  It gave me the opportunity to think with my fingers and come to grips with certain actions that need to be taken.

The pictures are of the wildlife we see on our nature walks every day!

Have a great week!


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Annual Check-up, 2017

If my memory is correct, I started this 10 year journey on my 55th birthday.  And today Google informed me that once again I get to celebrate.  They even supplied some candles!  What a nice thing for them to do….I think.

I have this 5 subject notebook that matches the 5 colours that order my life, so I thought I would quickly share some goals and accomplishments (or not!)

Most of my blogging is about my health – which is for the most part pretty good.  Sadly I am still overweight – but I now have only 94 pounds to lose to get to my goal weight.  I thought I could lose 10 pounds per year without too much difficulty but that has not proved to be the case.  In fact I’m about 30 pounds behind.

I don’t always realize who other people see.  I thought it would be a good idea to post a picture or three, just to be honest.  I’ve just embarked on a year of Fitness walking which I talk about more on “One Year, One Week, One Pound” here at WordPress.  My birthday present to myself was Leslie Sansones “Your Daily Walk” app that I have faithfully done for the last week.  And I did lose more than one pound!

Career-wise I’m a bit at lose ends just now, other than being a full time Oma.  I left my work in Beijing, China due to mental health concerns here at home.  I have a book I want to read, ideas I want to try, but just the task of writing my resume feels daunting.  I’m hoping to find an opportunity to teach ESL Literacy, but I’m also trying to expand my horizons.

In the Green zone, I am still debt free.  I guess at 58 that’s a good thing, but I’m definitely lacking in assets.  Teaching in China definitely helped me save some money…but being unemployed right now is eating into that little nest egg.

Creatively (BLUE) I did design and publish a crocheted afghan square.  I keep knitting and crocheting but mostly I follow someone else’s patterns.  That is beginning to change and I’m glad of that.

However things look here – and sometimes they feel a little bleak – I know that I am so very blessed to have the love of my family, my friends and my Creator.  This has been a year of grace, mercy and great blessing!  I am looking forward to the future, knowing that so many good things come – most of them unexpectedly!

Thanks for travelling with me!


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It’s Been a Month…


It’s hard to believe, but it has been over a month since I left Beijing.  I think I’m over the time change mess, but sleep still doesn’t always come easily.  I have to remember that this was also true in Beijing, and that sleeping challenges aren’t related to geography.  It’s probably just me and maybe my age.

Still, I look back and wonder what I have accomplished – and what I would have liked to have accomplished by now.


  • I have my Ontario Driver’s License ($90 for five years)
  • As of today I have a cell-phone.  This took a bit of time, but I’m happy.  It has Google Play Store and I’m downloading apps like crazy!
  • I got myself a library card and a library day with my granddaughters.  This is good!
  • We have a community garden plot and seeds that are ready for planting! (And cheques so that I can pay my fees!)
  • Two books on designing a new life path are waiting to be read.
  • I am up to date (sort of) on my ESL Literacy course.

On the “Still to do” list:

  • write up my resume
  • Work through the life design books.
  • Catch up on my weather scarves which are very behind!
  • Build a healthy routine that incorporates my big rocks.  (I think I need to get some stones and make a visual)
  • Understand my new role in my family.  It’s not easy.

In leaving Beijing I left behind a quiet private space (and it was very quiet, maybe too quiet) with a routine and a sense of newness and surprise.  Here I have shared accomodations in a tight space, lots of noise (mostly good noise! and no snoring) and many demands.  The switch was more drastic than I thought it would be!

The fact that I am at the dining room table and writing, instead of tossing and turning in bed, is a step in the right direction.

That I am going to post this and move on to my course (I love on-line learning!) means I’m moving forward just a little bit more in embracing my new adventure.

Thanks for following along!


PS: The knitigator is a carving at our library.  It reminds me that people do change their life work and move on to different things.  I don’t think wood carving is on the agenda, but I’m glad it was for this artist!


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Back to Work!

A few weeks ago I updated my LinkedIn profile, and I somehow added a new job.  I now work at “A Journey of Ten Years”  which began a few years ago, as a way to slowly reach my goals, especially the seemingly impossible one of getting to a healthier body weight.

Today I’ve decided to make the journey and this blog part of my work day.  It’s also helpful that today is Monday, I’m not so jet-lagged any more, and my suitcases are almost all unpacked.  It’s taken me three weeks.

So…if you are moving from the other side of the world (Beijing, China) to a very different lifestyle (living with my daughter and her family)  understand that this takes time and working doesn’t always happen on a regular basis.  But it does happen, and this is what I’ve learned from my three week adjustment time!

  • Cut yourself some slack.   I have given myself a month, and I think that was a good gift.
  • Pick your big rocks…self-care is vital during transition.  Sleep was the biggest rock and I slept and rested as needed.
  • Ease into your new life – getting a library card and establishing Tuesday as Library day is grounding.  It is also something I can do with my whole family or just one or two grandchildren.
  • Try to do one or two things that move you forward, after the big rocks are taken care of.  I am taking a course on Literacy ESL.  I feel chronically behind, but I’m really not too far.  I am learning and I am preparing for the next stage of my journey!

Just now it is time for tea!

Thanks for travelling with me!


(The pictures are from my trip to Korea!)


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Adjusting to the CHANGE!

It’s 10:30 pm, and I’m at my computer sipping Valerian tea.  Because I had a nap before supper, I need all the help I can get to fall asleep.  Jet lag is not fun!  But the tea is nice!


(Just a note that I chose this picture because I do like the teas they make, especially the one for sore throats!)

Today is March 5, so it’s been a good week since I left my studio apartment in Yizhuang, Beijing and moved my baggage north to the 21 Century Hotel in Liangmaciao.  That was a good decision because it gave me some peace and quiet near my church and the airport – as well as internet, which had been shut down at home!

Since the afternoon of February 25th, I’ve enjoyed my first massage (Shoulders and feet), said good bye at my church (and met some people from London, Ontario at the same time!) enjoyed some uniquely named craft beer at Slowboat, and farewell knitting with my friends.

Flying from Beijing to Chicago was very relaxing.  The plane was not full, so I enjoyed the luxury of three seats to stretch out in!  Even so, I enjoyed the extra legroom that American Airlines offered on this flight.  My ankles were not complaining while I was sitting up! Their commuter plane from Chicago to Toronto had good legroom aSs well, I thought!

The Chicago airport experience was disappointing.  I didn’t find the geocache I went looking for, and I didn’t find Chicago Deep Dish Pizza at the airport either.  Just “Wolfgang Puck” and I wasn’t paying for just a regular pizza in Chicago.

I’ve spent the first week of my new bend in Toronto, visiting my parents, playing Scrabble and Rummikub, shopping and swimming in my new bathing suit, as well as trying to get myself used to being awake while Beijing sleeps.  It’s a challenge!  The Valerian tea helps.

Now I’m in London and working at building a life and routine that works for all of us.  I’m living with my daughter, so we have a full house.  Grandchildren wake up and need to make sure I”m still there.  I wake up because I hear them stirring!

Change seems to be a constant in our lives, so I’m hoping that my journey will be an encouragement to those who are also in the midst of big changes in their world.

Thanks for travelling with me!




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Goodbye Beijing!

I haven’t finished sharing about my trip to Korea yet, but I’m back home and in the middle of getting ready for my move to Ontario.  Big changes as I transition from independent teacher in Beijing to Oma with responsibilities at home.

One of the things I needed to do was get a criminal check here in China.  This is best done here but there wasn’t a lot of information that I could find.  So after being rescued by many strangers along the way, I will share my adventure with you.  Keep in mind that things change, but today, February 17, 2017 this worked.  I took the subway.

From line 2 or line 5 get off at Yonghegong Lama Temple station.  Exit B is the best exit as you are facing, east, the direction you want to walk.  And it’s a walk.  But there is a pretty nice coffee shop tucked into Gehua Tower.  More about that later.

Keep walking past the big Entry-Exit office.  My logic told me this was where I needed to go, but it is not!  Keep walking a little further and there is a very nondescript building. It doesn’t look in any way official, but it is your destination

The pink line shows the wrong place and the way to the correct place.  I got the gentleman at the Security Bureau to write the characters I needed!  The top pictures are of the front of the building.

I brought all my resident permits, but you really only need the current one.  I just wanted to make sure all the time I was in China was covered.  And since I was only in Beijing, this is the only place I had to go.  If you lived in other locations, you may need to travel back. And don’t forget your passport!!  If you can, make copies of all your visa pages, the picture page and your resident permit.  But there is a copier on the premises.  

The cost for the check (2 copies), translation and courier fees to Canada was just under 700 rmb.  It takes 17 business days to get this done, so if you want to save the courier fees, get on this well before you leave.  

After all that stress I needed a coffee so I stopped in at the Gehua Tower.  Tucked away on the west side is a coffee shop called the Nut Cafe.  It was such a nice place, that I took some pictures.  I’ll just share one, so you get an idea!  

Being tired, phoneless and with my iPad rapidly losing power, I hopped on the subway and headed back home to recuperate.  Moving is a stressful business!

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