Grateful for Learning Experience

This week I am spending time to learn for the written exam that I have this weekend. As you may remember, I registered for the Canfitpro course in order to be a group fitness instructor. My intention is to share my love of Zumba with others.

Reading through the coursework I could not help but smile as it takes me back to high school and to when I did Biology. Even though getting the information into my head is slow, I am grateful for the opportunity I have to learn the material. It is interesting and it has helped me realise what exactly it is that makes a good group fitness instructor.

What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection and is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

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Drawing Together

Last week was March Break which meant two things:

  • I was able to sleep in and relax often with a book during the day;
  • I got to see my friend who lives quite a distance away for a day.
Drawing Together © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

We have known one another since I began taking my eldest daughter to school. Our children have grown up knowing one another and get on well – which has certainly made things easier for our friendship. My friend and I spent the day chatting and catching up – and the children drew.It is quite a coincidence that all of our children love art and that they all wish to make a career out of it. Just another reason why we all get on so well together.

What has made you smile this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

Top 5 books set in your country

This week for Top 5 Tuesday, we are sharing the books that are set in our countries. I have chosen to talk about books set in my country of birth, South Africa. The books I am sharing with you are ones that I have read even though I no longer have copies of them.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

This book is Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. I read it about a decade after the first democratic elections in  South Africa and it describes Mandela’s life from childhood up until the time he became the first black president of the country. I found the description of his life from the time he was released from prison interesting as those are the moments that I lived through in my life as an adult living in the changing country.  

The Last Trek, A New Beginning by F. W. de Klerk

De Klerk was the last president of the National Party in South Africa and he was the one who oversaw the release of Nelson Mandela. It was under his leadership that the beginning of change began in my home country. I read this autobiography after Nelson Mandela’s and it was interesting to compare the two experiences – and to read history from a different viewpoint. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

This book is another autobiography but this time of a comedian who was born during apartheid and grew up mostly in a post-Apartheid South Africa. When reading this memoir, it was interesting to compare his upbringing with what I had myself experienced as well as with what I had observed when teaching at a school after the first South African democratic elections. I loved, too, that his sense of humour permeates the writing. I am curious to know whether non-South Africans would understand many of the references that I did as a South African-born reader. 

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

This novel was one of the set books that I read when I was at university and it is one that resonated with me. It is a deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, this novel is one of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man. While doing research for this post, I saw that the book had been published with a newer edition. It is time, I think, to consider re-reading it. 

The Covenant by James A. Michener

This is an epic tale of adventurers, scoundrels, and ministers set in the South African wilderness. From the Java-born Van Doorn family tree springs two great branches: one nurtures lush vineyards, the other settles the interior to become the first Trekboers and Afrikaners. The Nxumalos, inhabitants of a peaceful village unchanged for centuries, unite warrior tribes into the powerful Zulu nation. And the wealthy Saltwoods are missionaries and settlers who join the masses to influence the wars and politics that ravage a nation. This novel is a story of courage and heroism, love and loyalty, and cruelty and betrayal, as generations fight to forge a new world. I read this book over 25 years ago so I cannot remember the details – but I remember being swept away with the epic nature of the story. Not only does Michener tell his story, but he throws in a bit of South African history too.

Other South African Authors

There are many other South African-based stories that I have read in the past. However, I am unable to remember the titles of the books. Some South African authors of note are: Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, Olive Schreiner, and J. M. Coetzee. 

Have you read a story based in South Africa? If you have please share the title and author in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Bionic Book Worm and the Top 5 Tuesday challenge. This week we are listing the top 5 books in your own country).

Weekend Coffee Share: A Crash Course

If we were having coffee, I would apologise for meeting with you so late – and after the weekend has ended. The weekend was exceptionally busy – as well as the week leading up to it. Thankfully for the next 5 days I will be able to take things a little slowly and catch up a little on my blogging and book reviews as it is March Break – a week in which the schools are closed.

The week leading up to the weekend went by quickly – though my students were very excited for the upcoming break. Two of them left on Monday so I had two children left in my class. During the week, I kept hearing snippets of where others were going: Florida to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Switzerland, Amsterdam, and even Montreal. While these children are jet setting all over the world, I plan to stay at home to relax and little and to study.

Study? you may ask. Yes, my March Break began with attendance at a crash course by Canfit Pro to become a group Fitness Instructor. As you already know, I have done my basic Zumba Instructor training. In order to teach at the gym, I need to do my certification with the Canadian licencing board.

The books I spent the weekend with.
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

The course began at 4pm on a late Friday afternoon and finished on Sunday at 4pm. The weekend was filled with information and lots of new learning. Some of it was very interesting – and gave me insight into not only what the group fitness instructors are doing, but also what they are not. I came home on Sunday afternoon exhausted and sat myself in front of the TV with my crochet. It was a good place to unwind.

I am currently catching up on my viewing of Grey’s Anatomy. I do prefer waiting until all of the episodes are uploaded on Netflix as then I do not have to wait an entire week before finding out what happens next. I am sure that by the end of this week I will be caught up. Then I will be faced with the dilemma of what to watch next!

If we were having coffee, I would leave you now as I have my weekend chores to catch up on.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Top 5 Book Spines

I love seeing the books I have set out on my bookshelves. Their colours are aesthetically pleasing to me – especially those books that have beautiful covers and spines. I have noticed that a number of new releases are competing with some of the older copies on my shelf. And the spines of Fantasy books? Sometimes they have no competition from the other genres.

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE by Samantha Shannon

I fell in love with this spine from the first moment I saw it on Instagram. The beautiful orange contrasts well with the blue. The hint of a dragon across it definitely adds to its beauty. When I received my pre-order, I saw that the spine looked as beautiful in my hands as it did on social media.

ENCHANTEE by Gita Trelease

I love anything related to Paris – a city I have spent a year in and that I loved visiting. This beautiful spine highlights the colours of the French flag and seems to fit perfectly the story within. I have not read the book yet but the spine will encourage me to pick it up when I am in the mood for something French related.

THE CERULEAN by Amy Ewing

From the first moment that I read the synopsis for this book, I knew that I wanted to read it. What a bonus when I saw the beautiful cover – and the spine certainly looks attractive amongst the other books.

THE SWORD OF SUMMER by Rick Riordon

The Magnus Chase books all have beautiful spines. My daughter has the entire collection on her shelf and they look stunning together. I have put the first in the series on my TBR shelf as I have been curious about these stories for a while now.

NIGHTBLOOD by Elly Blake

The spine of the third book in the series by Elly Blake looks absolutely stunning next to book 1 and 2. The Frostblood Saga is yet another series that I am hoping to read during 2019. I had the opportunity to hear Elly Blake speak last year and could not resist getting to know her more through her story.

I know I will get to read these beautiful books sometime but, until then, I will admire their beauty on my shelf.

Which book spines are among your favourite?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Bionic Book Worm and the Top 5 Tuesday challenge. This week we are listing the top 5 books that beautiful spines). 

Reading Buddy

I always try to encourage a love of reading in my classroom. I have created a reading space in the room, and I give children time during the day to spend with their library books. Some children in my class gravitate towards the centre when all their tasks are done and immerse themselves in their story while others like to share what they are reading with a friend. One of my students (who enjoys reading) left his reading buddy with a book while he went out to recess.

A Reading Buddy. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

I could not help but smile at the sight. Not only has he kept his spot in the book in a non-traditional way, but his action highlights how much he enjoys spending time with stories.

What has made you smile this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

Weekend Coffee Share: An Exhausting Week

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am tired to the bone and cannot wait for the next school break. Last week in particular was tiring as there was so much to do. The week did seem to fly by, though, and I cannot believe that the weekend is almost over. What I do want to be over is Winter. The ground outside is still covered in white – in fact we had some snow fall on Friday and Saturday. We all keep hoping for Spring but right now it seems so far away. I am tired of wearing the cumbersome winter gear and I cannot wait to hear birdsong and see leaves on the trees.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my week began with attendance at the Youth Arts Program event on Monday evening. Both my daughters submitted a piece of art for the exhibition that is held every year at the Ontario Legislative Assembly and Monday night was the opening night. I am so proud of my girls and pleased that they are confident enough to put their art out into the world.

On Tuesday I took my class on a field trip with the other grade 1 teachers to attend the Gregg Le Rock concert. As always, the children had fun singing and dancing to songs that we had been playing in class. The trip was tiring though as I was with the children the entire day – even during lunch time. We got back to school after lunch and ate together in the classroom. It was such fun seeing the children get excited about singing in French at the concert. Their favourite song is definitely the Terry Fox song which they sang with enthusiasm.

Wednesday at school was another fun-filled day as the entire school participated in organised activities for our Carnaval (which is based on a winter tradition in Quebec). This year I ran a station – one on dance. I created a Just Dance playlist and the children danced to the videos I projected up on the wall. What fun we all had! The station was a favourite for many children. Other stations included bingo, flag making, and plasticine building.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that by the end of the week I was bone-tired. I have rested a bit over the weekend but am still feeling fatigued. I am looking forward to the upcoming school break – only one more week to go!

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)

First Line Fridays: Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

“No one was awake to see it happen, except Rickman.”

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel. (Click the title for my full review).

Right from the first line, I was curious to find out what had happened! A perfect line to capture the attention of young readers!

Are you curious? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Youth Arts Program Exhibition

This year both of my daughters submitted their art work to the Youth Arts Program for the exhibition that takes place every year at the Ontario Legislative Assembly. On Monday evening we attended the opening event. Even though the wind was extremely strong, we bundled up and took the journey to Queen’s Park. It was not hardship for me to do this as I want to support my children in all their efforts in order to encourage them in the pursuit of their dreams. It is a big step for them to put their art out into the world – especially my younger daughter who is not as confident as her big sister.

After the speech given by the First Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, we had the opportunity to look at all the art on display. The art comes from all over Ontario and is produced by children ages 12 – 18. There is some really good art on display. Of course I could not help but smile when I saw my daughters’ work.

Abstract Art by my Eldest Daughter. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

My eldest daughter was disappointed when she saw her art work was placed upside down. She was pleased, however, at having her work displayed in the Legislative Assembly for all visitors to see.

A piece created with markers and pencil. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

My youngest daughter does beautiful work with ink. This was the first time she has submitted work for any event and I was very proud of her courage to do so this year. She was also beaming to see her work on display.Monday evening saw both my husband and I smiling. We are so grateful that our children have the opportunity to shine.

What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection and is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

Weekend Coffee Share: Ready for the Next Week

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would welcome you in rather late on this Sunday afternoon. It has been a busy weekend and I would welcome a little chat before completing my chores for the day.

If we were chatting, I would tell you that even though the work week was short (Monday was a public holiday), the week was very busy. There seemed so much to do at work – it is almost as if we squeezed five days of work into four. In addition, I had my evaluation on Friday and I was busy getting ready for it in the days leading up to Friday at 10:25am.

Every five years, the teachers in the school board I work for have an evaluation  – which basically means we are observed by the administrator of the school. Our principal came in to observe one of my lessons (I chose to do a language lesson). My students were a lot calmer than usual (though they were not little angels 🙂 ). My principal and I had a chat after school and I explained how I do some things (she is new to the school and therefore does not know how I work). She is going to type up her report and share it with me once she is done.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have just come back home from an event at the Harper Collins Canada Publishing House. Today’s event is the one they hold for bloggers in Ontario and the one at which they tell us about the upcoming new releases in Young Adult fiction. I enjoyed learning about the new books as well as chatting with other readers who love books and share their love through blogging. I am new to their influencer program and am starting to get to know other Canadian book bloggers.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have two events this week to look forward to – one with my daughters, and another one I can attend as a teacher. But that is for the next coffee chat.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)