Flowering Cactus

January was gloomy (during which we saw the sun only on 16 days!) and February promises to be no better. The short, grey-laden skies day after day demotivates a person and encourages gloom. It is difficult to remain upbeat when the blue skies are hidden and the sun makes a rare appearance.

At the end of last week, I noticed something that made me smile with pleasure. It is a sight that brightens my day when I walk into my bedroom at the end of a day’s work.

Flowering Cactus. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

The bright pink flowers on my cactus bring me double pleasure: the beauty of the flowers on a grey winter day; and the fact that this is the first time my cactus is flowering in the three years that I have had it. This is a flower that encourages me to smile every day.

Weekly Smile #WeeklySmileWhat made you smile this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post was inspired by Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

Grateful for Soup

Cold Winter days are perfect for soup! Once a week I enjoy making a vegetable soup which includes carrots, parsnips, potato, tomato, onions, garlic, parsley, salt, and some curry powder.

From time to time, I pour the mixture into my Vitamix blender and make a creamy blend. I do not do this too often as my youngest prefers eating a chunky soup.

This week I am grateful for warming soup on cold, winter days. With or without a chunk of bread, this meal always brings pleasure to the tastebuds.

What have you been grateful for this week?

Processed with RookieLast week:

Laura was grateful for leggings

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

Weekend Coffee Share: A Stuffy Nose

weekend coffee share logo hosted at parttimemonsterblog.comIf we were having coffee, I would greet you on yet another overcast day. According to the news, in January we had only 16 days of seeing the sun. Very dreary! I am hoping that we get to see more sunshine during the month of February. This morning, however, does not look too promising.

Last weekend I woke up on Saturday sneezing which, unfortunately, turned into a cold. Today I am still dealing with a stuffy nose. I did not feel well enough to go to Zumba on Monday night, and on Thursday I still was carrying tissues around with me. I am hoping that tomorrow I will be able to pick up my exercise routine again. I missed moving to the music – though I did not miss going out into the cold in the evenings!

The last week was quite frigid. The children came in from recess with red cheeks – and I am sure my cheeks were just as cold! I had quite a few children absent during the week due to illness – on one day I had 15 children in my class. It was a very laid back day for me. 🙂

I have to tell you that this week was the second week of my crochet club at school. I still cannot believe how many children have registered. It is hard to say no to any child who wants to join as they are so keen. I saw a couple of the older girls the day before my group sessions at lunchtime and helped them a little with the stitches (sc). It was so nice to see them helping others at the Friday lunchtime session. Soon they will all understand what to do and we will all be crocheting the time away!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the corrections to my report cards have been done – there were just a few typos. Now they need to be signed, copied, and placed in envelopes. I have made appointments to start seeing parents next week. I would like to get the interviews done over the next couple of weeks so that I do not have to stay late on a Thursday night and miss my Zumba class.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am now going to make some crepes for my children for lunch. They have been asking me to make some for a couple of weeks now and I have finally mixed the batter. It has been standing for an hour and is now ready to be cooked. Enjoy your week. Hope it is not too grey!

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post is linked to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diane, The Part-Time Monster)

Grateful for Hand Lotion

The winter months are harsh on the skin. The frigid air outside and the overheated indoor spaces dry out our skin. Add the anti-bacterial soap that schools use and your hands suffer. By mid-morning I can feel that my skin has tightened and craves a little moisture. I have bought hand lotion which I keep on my desk at school and my students have grown used to the sight of their teacher rubbing lotion on her hands at least once a day. I always get a compliment, “Madame, your hands smell so nice!” I guess they enjoy the scent of shea butter as much as I do. 🙂

This week I am grateful for hand lotion. After rubbing the moisture in my hands, they feel so much better.

What have you been grateful for this week?

Processed with RookieLast week:

Laura was grateful for four walls and a roof

Lavender Ladi was grateful for newspaper fliers

Yvette was grateful for art in everyday objects

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post so that I know you have participated)

Weekend Coffee Share: Report Cards are Done!

weekend coffee share logo hosted at parttimemonsterblog.comIf we were having coffee, I would greet you with a smile on my face. My report cards are done! Completed on Friday afternoon after school, a week and two weekends before they are due! And I am happy to say that I did not work on them over the weekend at home. Sitting down in front of the computer and focusing helped a lot to get them done this quickly. Now I intend to contact the parents I need to see and spread out the meetings so that they are not all done at once.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that during the past week I had to take a day off as a headache turned into a migraine. I spent the day in my darkened bedroom and slept a little. It was worth taking time off as I felt so much better the next day. (So much better that I finished those report cards 🙂 !)

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I started my crochet club at school. Friday was the first session – and I was surprised at how many children showed up. More children came to sign up during the lunch session, and others asked me for forms. It was quite a challenge helping them learn to cast on and do chain stitches. Luckily my former ECE wants to learn as well and, after quickly showing her, she helped me to help the children. A few of the children ‘got it’ and many realised that it is not as easy as they thought. I encouraged them not to give up. I hope that they do not and that they come to the next session.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday my husband made a lovely dinner for us to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year. My nephew came over to celebrate with us and we had a lovely evening eating and chatting. If you celebrate the start of the lunar calendar, I wish you a wonderful Year of the Rooster.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post is linked to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diane, The Part-Time Monster)

Let’s Zumba!

Women, and a few men, moved through the glass doors into the open space and gravitated to their spots. I hung back, choosing a space near the closed doorway. Self-consciously I pulled my t-shirt down and breathed an internal sigh of relief as I noticed that I was not the only overweight person in the room older than 30. I had steeled myself for months to join this class. Twenty years ago I would have been one of those women who walked through the door with confidence. But now? I knew I would not be able to keep up the pace.

Image result for zumba“Welcome to Zumba. If you are are here for the first time, don’t worry if you can’t keep up. Put your feet to the ground, move to the music, and have fun!”

Five minutes later I was looking at the clock. My breathing was laboured, my heart was racing, and it was difficult to move my feet at the speed of the instructor’s. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. I kept at it, determined that I would once again move like I did twenty years ago. Not only did I want to lose my excess weight, but I also wanted to regain my fitness.

The class ended with sweat dripping down my face. I had not been able to keep up – the moves were unknown to me, and many of them were fast. But I finished. And decided to go back for more.

It had been seventeen years since the last time I had done any type of cardio exercise. I chose to do Zumba because it is a dance-based exercise and I have always loved dance. It is not quite the same as what I used to do when I danced Latin and Ballroom but in joining a Zumba class I can move rhythmically to the music.

I danced my first Zumba class six months ago – and now no longer look at the clock after five minutes. My legs are stronger and I am therefore able to do most of the moves. I still get lost with the choreography, but not as often. I have not lost weight, but have lost centimetres. I join a class twice a week when I am able – and would go more often if there were more classes available at my local gym.

I love it! Zumba is definitely for me. During the winter months, the obstacle I have to overcome is getting there. It is not pleasant leaving the warmth of our home to walk through frigid temperatures to the gym. In the argument to myself, I always bring up my word of the year: Discipline.

Have you tried a Zumba class?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

Grateful for Headache Tablets

Yesterday during the day, I could feel a headache building up. It gnawed at my head the entire day. After work I went for a walk, hoping to blow it away. The walk did me good in that I exercised; but it did not lessen the tension around my head. During the night, my throbbing head woke me up and I capitulated – I took a headache pill. I do not enjoy taking these tablets and swallow them only when I can no longer withstand the pain. Taking the over-the-counter drug normally deadens the pain enough that I can fall asleep. Today I will take the bottle to school with me in case I need to mask the pain in my head that still makes itself felt.

Today I am grateful that there are painkillers that a person can buy without a prescription. They definitely help lessen pain and discomfort.

What have you been grateful for this week?

Processed with RookieLast week:

Laura was grateful for cozy warmth

Lavender Ladi was grateful for hot tea

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(Join me and share something that you have been grateful for in the past week. Link up with my post so that I know you have participated)

Memories of David Bowie

This week for their Show & Tell, I have asked my students to share with the class their favourite singer and song. I expected the presentation on Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber; the surprise came when one of my students shared a David Bowie album.

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A Bowie album cover. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

Looking at the album cover, I was taken back to my adolescence. One of my cousins loved Bowie’s music and would often play his songs and enact his music. We never got to see the musician live, but we spent many hours imagining we were on stage with him.

My cousin loved Space Oddity

But my favourite was Let’s Dance

I have many pleasant memories dancing to David Bowie’s music under the warmth of the South African sun. And my cousin? He is still a fan of Bowie’s music.

What is the name of your favourite David Bowie song?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

Counting Calories

I have never felt the need to count calories; to measure the amount of food I eat and write down every morsel that passes my lips. But then I have never weighed as much as I currently do. After speaking to a friend of mine and reading a blog post by a fellow blogger, I decided to try something new to help me loose weight.

Laurie, a talented photographer who has shared her weight loss journey on her blog,  suggests using the app Lose It!

Image result for lose it After reading her blog post, I searched for the app and downloaded it onto my iPad. I have been counting the calories I eat for a week now and logging them into the app. As Laurie promised, the app is easy to use. Once you have added a meal to your day, the programme saves the information and it is so much quicker to insert the next time you eat that food. Adding new foods is easy – especially if the package has a bar code which you can scan.

Have I lost weight? No. But it has only been a week. I have noticed, though, that I am more careful about what I eat. And I think twice before grabbing that second cookie, or another piece of chocolate. Using the app and counting my calories has encouraged me to think more carefully about the amount of food that I eat, and the choices I make on what to put on my plate.

My word for this year is discipline and the app is helping me to be more disciplined about what I eat.

Do you count calories?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

Weekend Coffee Share: A Fruitful Week

weekend coffee share logo hosted at parttimemonsterblog.comIf we were having coffee, I would welcome you in from the wind. We have had lovely weather during the past two days – it has almost been Spring-like. The wind, however, is picking up and I can hear it howling outside of my window. I am sure that the wind will bring with it lower temperatures.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Monday to Thursday we had indoor recess at school. The children could not go out to play because the fields were layered with ice. Keeping children inside for four days in a row is not a fun experience! They need the time to go outside, run around, and breathe in fresh air. As I passed the school this morning, I noticed that the ice had melted. Yipee! The fields may be muddy but at least the children can go out to play.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Friday was a PA day: the children did not go to school; and the teachers had the opportunity to begin working on the report cards. I entered the school at 8:30am and closed the door to my classroom at 4:30pm. The long day was worth it.

Assessing student work. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

The lack of interruptions enabled me to finish my assessment of my students’ work; and to complete 85% of the report cards. I felt a sense of satisfaction as I walked home. Because I completed so much of the work on Friday, my stress level to the approaching deadline is not too high. I know that if a do a little everyday, my work will soon be done.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that on Saturday morning I made my way to Michaels, a craft store that stocks a wide range of yarn (wool). I was armed with a list of names and searched for crochet hooks and yarn to make scarves.

Yarn shopping. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

I am to start a crochet club at school next Friday. I have 12 children who have signed up so far, and others who have shown interest. The first project is a scarf which the children will wear with pride when they are done. I am hoping that I can get them to love crochet as much as I do. I am pleased to say that there are some boys who have joined. 🙂

On the way back from Michaels, I stopped off at the library to hand in my books… and I could not resist going in to browse for reading matter. I decided to pick up a few titles of some authors whose books I have previously enjoyed.

This week’s reading selection. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to have a good week. And remember to do something for yourself.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post is linked to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diane, The Part-Time Monster)