About Min Min

Math teacher originally from Toronto

May Update

Experience spring in the south: It’s refreshing to experience spring in Ontario!* We had some unusual winter weather last month and even a terrible ice storm in the middle of April. The past two weeks, the leaves are finally coming out. It’s so nice to drive down the street and notice how green everything has become!

Updating teaching blog: I have not been focused on classroom teaching this year, which has been a nice break. I recently updated my teaching blog name from “A Sine of Madness” to “Math with Ms. Tong.” I was afraid that ‘madness’ might be a pejorative term. Oddly, in all the time that I’ve used that name, no one has suggested that to me, even when I asked on Twitter.

Not being vegan: I was eating fairly consistently eating as a vegan at the end of 2017, but when I started dating back in January, it all went out the window. I still don’t know have too many adult friends in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and ultimately want to fit in. Well, to be honest, I’m probably just being selfish. Groceries are still vegan but when I go out, I’m putting butter on my Tim Horton’s bagels (just not cream cheese).

Travel: I have a plane ticket to go to Portland, Oregon – which I first visited a few years ago – for four days! Will be there to see my cousin from Hong Kong. My sister will be meeting there too.

Substitute teaching and kids’ yoga: Going well. I’m still taking Wednesdays off to teach yoga at an elementary school. Two more session of yoga!

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*It was 6 year sago since I first moved up north


Makeup Learning Curve

I wasn’t interested in make-up for a long time.

My small group of friends in high school didn’t used makeup; it was never on our radar and we were completely oblivious that it was something that others teenagers took interest in. When I went to university, I began to dabble in drugstore foundation and mascara. I’d use it to hide the fact that I’d turn bright red from having a single shot of vodka (this actually worked terribly as I did not apply foundation to my neck). The year I lived in South Korea, I played around with eyeshadow – egads, I was mostly attached to a stick of shimmery orange shadow – when I found a cheap and affordable brand called Face Shop, when it was completely unheard of in North America. Otherwise, I rarely did any makeup, save for Christmas parties or weddings.

About two years ago, I was determined to learn how to do a basic face. The story I told was that I needed to look professional as a substitute teacher as I prepared to move back into the teaching industry in Ontario. The bigger motivation, which I did not reveal, was that I was sick of people thinking I was 24 years old and treating me differently. I constantly had to mention that I’ve been teaching for 8 years and have leadership experience. What subsequently follows are looks of confusion and furrowed brows as they do the mental math and realize that I’m much older than they perceive me to be.

When I made the decision to learn how to apply makeup, I decided that I was going to do it properly. I did a lot of research into finding out which products were vegan and which were not.  I also read reviews on Sephora and tried to find high quality products. I would spend a couple of months focusing on one area at a time – how to contour or how to apply eyeliner – and practice consistently, watching YouTube tutorials and trying different techniques. By studying one area at a time, it didn’t feel quite so overwhelming and doing the application became more efficient and natural.

I’ve come a long way. I can do a basic face with a “I barely have makeup on” look in approximately 5 minutes. Given 10 minutes, I can glam it up just slightly. I’m comfortable enough now that photos I’ve posted on Instagram actually have gotten compliments from people who know me in real life and see me regularly. The last new thing I tried out was wearing lip colours for the first time in my life; I played around with Tarte lip stains in January, when I started online dating. I took a break from doing anything new, but last week, I finally brought a fluffy crease brush from Quo to work on the eye crease before applying eye shadow. It’s helped a bit but eyeshadow is pretty much something that everyone struggles with. I’ll keep working on eyeshadow but eventually I’d like to learn how to apply falsies.

If you want a simple tutorial on eyeshadow, check out this video. Enjoy!

Main tips from this video:

  • Use concealer to clean up the underside of your brow
  • Use a skintone powder to set your primer with it
  • Hold the brush away from the farrow so that you have less control of the brush; holding closer to the bristles will give you more control
  • Transition shades will help make it look more natural
  • Keep in the inner lid bright
  • Add eyeliner and/or false eyelashes to finish off the look

OAME 2018

The annual OAME conference is the only teaching conference I’ve consistently been going to. This year, it was at Humber College in Etobicoke, on the west end of Toronto. Last week, we had two days – Thursday and Friday – of workshops and speakers. Just as usual, I had fun! I missed a few sessions here and there as I’ve learned to take better self care when I’m feeling overwhelmed or tired.

It’s also really cool to see Twitter celebrities from the #mtbos (Math Teachers Blogosphere) community. This Twitter hashtag changed my teaching career and really got me involved in things like Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces (VNPSs), interactive notebooks and growth mindset. I’ve gotten great ideas from other teachers’ blogs; I would not have done so well in the north if it weren’t for these resources!

Saw a friend too, J., who teaches in Barrie. Got some new resources and will try to sort them out so that I can be better prepared for next September, when I take on a math LTO.


Net Worth – April 2018

Net worth: Well, the nice fat tax return from 2017 was over $5000. This is the last year it . I’m really still spending more than saving, but I’m okay with that. Hence the uptick on the money I haven’t spent yet lol

Finally! Three months after handing in my resignation, Human Resources finally submitted an Record of Employment to Service Canada. I had noticed that it still hadn’t been sent at the beginning of April and I had to bother HR about it  … sigh. Last week, I got an update which confirmed that I am not eligible for Employment Insurance for the summer of 2017, which is what I expected. It stated “regular benefits not payable” since this was a “voluntary leave”. At least now, I can start to get my EI applications properly approved based on my current employment status.

Pension transfer: Now that my ROE has been submitted. I have to reapply again.

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GICs: Two years ago, I bought a 2-year GIC on Tangerine. The rate was higher than other major banks, but still low (as GICs have been for quite a while). I bought it because as I was reading Bruce Sellery’s book, The Moolala Guide to Rockin’ Your RRSPs and considering where to have some fixed investments based on “your age approximately equal to the percentage of your investments”. It felt like a good decision at the time, since Tangerine had an easy-to-use interface and made it easy to set it up.

Looking back, it was a nice baby step. I could have thrown it somewhere else. Honestly, I know I should not feel regret; I made a positive step based on what I learned and also beat the rate of inflation, putting money into a credit union that had a lot of stability. All in all, it’s better than letting it sit in cash. Reflecting back on all this allows me to consider what my next steps should be.

Personal training at Goodlife: Going well. Have had 6 sessions so far and feeling good. I like that I don’t have to design the workout and am just told what to do. It’s nice to be challenged too and be pushed past my limits. I’m also slowly making a habit of enjoying the dry sauna after my post-workout shower.

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Avoiding Homework

I’ve been doing fairly well with my yoga teacher training homework until April. I’m behind on my last assignment, which was due over a week ago. I’ve not been motivated to keep up lately, possibly because we are reading the Bhagavad Gita, which brings back strong memories of a terrible experience with a first-year university philosophy course.

I’m not the only one who’s fallen behind, but I don’t a justifiable excuse. Of course, graduation being less than 3 months away, so with the pressure of time, I know I need to do some catching up.

Thankfully, I have a bit of flexibility at work. When I’m substitute teaching, I occasionally have to watch a class study for a test. Especially when it’s not a course I’m familiar with (*cough* *cough* physics), then I am stuck with time on my hands. I usually carry a paperback with me – currently Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist: Essays – and work on layouts in my bullet journal. If I’m carrying my laptop, I will do some journaling or catch up on the news.

Today I managed to tackle a portion of my homework assignment. We had to choose 3 pinnacle pose and find 5 asanas – yoga poses – that are related or good preparation for each of these pinnacle poses. I decided to do this part of the assignment on Padlet, which I’ve used for teaching math and setting up concept maps.

This took me less than 20 minutes and was much more fun than I thought. Perhaps I just need a way to make my assignments more interesting to myself? Draw on some more fun tech tools? As a teacher, I have experiencing dealing with students who struggle with motivation and completing work on their own. As a human being, it’s not unusual when I go through this myself!

Headed to the library tonight to tackle a bit more after dinner.

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Breaking Up with Amazon

When I was younger, my family and I would take road trips to outlet malls around Ontario or across the border in the United States. For a weekend, we’d explore new towns, peek in to tourist traps, drop in on a museum and try some local family restaurants. The one destination that we were never allowed to take off the itinerary was the outlet mall.

For years, I didn’t realize how much this was a firm part of my family culture. There was  great satisfaction in having found a great deal or picked out a new outfit. We didn’t buy a lot and we tried to aim for items that we needed as a family. At the end of the weekend, we proudly shared and told relatives and friends about our newfound purchases. This was and likely is a pretty exciting and normal for Canadian immigrant families, many who may have struggled financially when initially moving to Canada. Overcoming a plethora of barriers and experiencing both financial stability and disposable income gave us a feeling of pride and peace.

But it’s 2018.

More and more are we aware that consumer culture has had a large hand in climate change. As we’ve grown and matured, my family and I have started to explore ideas of minimalism, kicked started by shows like Hoarders and Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up. In 2017, I started bartering on Bunz.com and in the fall, my family and I have spent a great deal of time clearing out the basement. On top of that, the biggest challenge has been the clothing shopping ban that I started in January 2018.*

It would be laughable if anyone ever said it was easy. It has been tough for me mentally and emotionally. I’ve considered quitting many times and have had dreams of sneaking purchases without telling anyone. I haven’t yet. What’s prevented me from going berzerk is being able to acquire new pieces off of Bunz.com.
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What this ban has done is forced me to acknowledge patterns of behaviour which I wasn’t cognizant of. Yesterday on Saturday, I went to a local craft show, Stitch ‘n’ Kitch, in Waterloo and I nearly bought myself a simple black t-shirt with the print “Kitchener-Waterloo”. I completely forgot – as shocking as it sounds – that I was even on a shopping ban until I began to reach for my wallet! I’ve done this many times before: trying to acquire a thing that I don’t need.** The high you experience from the thought of owning something novel, while you perform a wondrous set of mental gymnastics to convince yourself, of COURSE I need this new hipster sweater, I don’t have anything in this colour yet.

Since the shopping ban, I’ve begun to shift my time and energy in new ways. On the rare occasion, I crave a mindless walk around the mall but don’t succumb to it anymore. And while I used to label myself as someone who didn’t go shopping frequently, I’ve since acknowledge that that’s just a boldfaced lie that I hung onto; for the better part of my life, my suburban family and I went out just to crawl the mall on the weekends.

Living in the remote north for the past 5 years also helped me acknowledge these patterns of behaviour, because I had no where to go***. However, I ended up shifting my energy towards online shopping, which wasn’t unusual, consider I had to do it out of necessity. I never really made purchases on a whim and could spend months pondering a purchase before even pulling out my credit card***.

And now I’m back in the city and on a clothing shopping ban.

I’ve spent my money this year on better things; things that I wanted to but wasn’t able to because the services weren’t available for me. I have no health benefits or an active health plan, but I’ve paid for a counsellor ($60/hour), masseuse ($80/hour), physiotherapist ($75/session) and a personal trainer ($485/month). What I’ve learned is that no one questions how you’re using your money until you tell them you’re not on a health plan.

What?! You’ve got a personal trainer? Isn’t that expensive? I only have $500 worth of benefits so I can only have two massages a year. I can’t believe you’re paying out of pocket!

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Yet people won’t question you purchasing some shitty ass clothing that’s probably produced by horrible companies such as H&M, which cuts up clothes they can’t sell, and Zara, which steals designs from independent artists.

In a single year, you’d likely absentmindedly spend the same amount on stupid shit that won’t change your life and no one will say anything. Yet trying to invest in my health and wellbeing – taking preventative measures that will ensure a higher quality of life in the future – is something the other people will scrutinize you for.

What does that say about our society?

I can only conclude that we have our values fucking backwards.

I’m continuing to search for better conversations on how we spend our money. While I have found myself going to Amazon, which treats its staff members like crap and encourages its employees to spy on and backstab each other, I decided recently that I

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am looking for alternatives.***** While I’ve been itching for a new bullet journal, I decided I’ll go back to a A5-sized Peter Pauper Press grid-lined notebook. I researched the dimensions, called the local bookstore in Waterloo, Wordsworth Book, and made an order. Since they order directly from Peter Pauper Press, it will take a couple of weeks but the price is the same as what’s listed on Amazon and I won’t be making Jeff Bezos a richer asshole.

Will I slip and buy from Amazon in the future?


Will I enjoy the indulgence of buying new clothes once I end my ban?

Duh, of course. I love clothes!!!

When I decided to get a new bullet journal, it took about 2 weeks of me mulling before I acted on it. Of course, it would have been easier for me to make a purchase online, but I know I can do better. We are all human, but part of it is just trying to be a better human.

And that’s what makes all this worth it.

*I have had self-imposed shopping bans for  3 or 4 months in the past.
**There really is no reason why I would need a new black t-shirt to tell me where I currently live.
***Unless my ex-boyfriend, J. and I would drive 7 hours down to Rouyn or Val D’Or, Quebec, just to go to the mall.
****I held off of buying Vibram Five Fingers for nearly a year. I currently own two pairs – one for hiking outdoors and one for the gym.
*****I still make purchases on Audible as I haven’t figured out an alternative yet. 

Monthly Goals – April

Health and Fitness
  • Write yoga blog posts (0/5): Part of the YTT homework due in May. I’m behind on my assignments … argh!
  • Walk regularly (5/5): Carrot Rewards app has helped, as well as having friends to push me along. So far I’ve paired up with B., I., C. and M. for my step challenges. I’ve taken some walks outside the house in the evenings and a few in the park. Sometimes parking farther away from my destination – as Katy Bowman has suggested on her podcast – to gett some extra steps.
  • Continue to sort out medical appointments (5/5): After a few years, took an eye exam with an optometrist ($70). Found out that my eyes had gotten slightly worse. The optometrist said the difference wasn’t so great that I’d have to change my contact lens right away; just use up my old ones and reorder new ones. Also got a general blood work test (covered by OHIP) and discovered that my vitamin B12 levels are great but my iron storage is not. Started to readjust my diet this past week and also bought iron pills (150 mg dosage). Have to cut back on black tea … sigh. I did have a bubble tea the other day.
  • Track medical expenses (5/5): While doing taxes, we realized I will need this for 2018 taxes. Have an Excel spreadsheet on my computer.
  • Type up auto expenses (0/5): Get an idea of how much I’ve spent in the past 5 years on my car. Never started on this … procrastinating.
  • Check out Classtime app (0/5): Forgot to do this.
  • Started a Perkopolis account (5/5): Done! Used it to get Wicked tickets for July.
Professional Development
  • Add stimulation to turtle tank (3/5): Bought some ghost shrimp for the tank, as well as some pebbles and a banquet block, Had to remove the pebbles because I had issue with them getting into the filter (this has happened in the past)
  • Create a cleaning schedule (1/5): Started reading FlyLady website,but haven’t done much.
  • Get involved with library initiatives (4/5): Will be volunteering for Forest of Reading and subbed for J., helped to finish a presentation on researching through the Learning Commons
  • Attend an OSSTP workshop (4/5): Was a wee bit late for the workshop due to tutoring. Attended a workshop earlier this week on getting the most out of Gsuite tools. Got some really cool tips!

Increasing My Step Count

Two months ago, I started checking my daily step count.

Embarrassingly, I was hitting well below 5000 a day. I drive a lot for work and am at different schools every day. Essentially, I am traveling from one parking lot to another, since I don’t live near the gym or the yoga studio. I decided that I should try to improve this aspect of my life.

Along with half a dozen other friends, I am using the Carrot Rewards app.  While I currently do not have a pedometer, the Google Fit app on my smartphone counts my steps and uploads the information to Carrot Rewards. If I hit my daily goal, I get anywhere between 2 to 6 Scene points*. I also collect points for completing surveys (~40 points) and inviting friends to join (100 points). Other friends are currently using it for Aeroplan points.

I’ve actually been doing much better the past month, being able to see how my friends are faring. Social pressure is great and works well for me (when it’s people I care about)! You can pair up with friends, complete 10 step goals together within a week and get more points of your choice.


A few of them who work downtown hit well over 10,000 each day. My daily step goal has increased to 5200 – it is determined for you and you cannot change it manually – from 3600 last month. Some nights, I have to do an extra walk to the local convenience store or a loop around the park to hit my goals**, but the fact that it’s changed my behaviour immensely is a great thing. I’m well aware that I need a lifestyle change and I’ve been working on it!

The only issue is finding a balance with carrying my phone around. I do try to set it down at home, while I’m cooking or running chores, so those steps aren’t counted. My workouts at the gym and yoga aren’t included either. I’m still trying to get my hands on a FitBit through Bunz, so this will help a lot!!

Do you use a pedometer or have a daily step goal?

*A thousand points gets you one free movie at Cineplex Odeon theatres.
**Tonight, I spent 20 minutes milling about the supermarket after dark. I didn’t want to walk through the park by myself when it’s late.

(More) April Updates

Library Course: I previously had mentioned that I completed my course in the first week of January. Got my OCT certification upgraded. This means that I can receive calls for this subject area!

YTT Weekend: Just finished a wonderful weekend We had a lovely day with Carly Stong, from Kingston, Ontario. She is a fat activist and yogi who has been teaching us about body positivity and explained why the word fat is not an insult. If you’d like to hear more about Carly, check out this podcast interview with her from Kathryn Bruni-Young. Here’s a shot of my lovely studio while it’s empty on the lunch break:


Kids’ Yoga: I’m now volunteering to teach an hour of kids’ yoga at a local elementary school. I’ve blocked off my Wednesdays for work. Good to add to my resume if I do decide to apply for yoga teaching jobs in the future. So far, I’ve completed two sessions.

Walking: I’m pretty much afraid to show people my pedometer; it is an embarrassing mess and I’m nowhere near 10,000 steps a day.* Thankfully, I can be motivated by friends and am in an online step challenge with high school friends on the Canadian-funded Carrot Rewards app. Yup, sometimes shaming works! It has helped a lot since I check the app everyday and if my steps are low, I’ll take a walk at the end of the day to hit my goal.

Here’s a shot of the beautiful Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ontario.

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Health: Earlier last month, I got a local family doctor, which is hard to come by in Kitchener-Waterloo. I got a general blood test and it appears I have healthy levels of vitamin B12 but low levels of iron storage. Currently trying to find a brand of iron supplements.

Also, I recently discovered this amazing chia seed pudding at Freshii, which is a Canadian fast food restaurant chain. OMG – sprinkled with mango, strawberries and coconut, this healthy dessert is soooo delicious!


*I do try to set down my cellphone, which is what is tracking my steps, when I’m at home. This likely reduces my step count. I’m waiting to get a FitBit off of Bunz. The trade has been negotiated but the original swap got canceled due to the great ice storm last weekend.

New Friends for Honu

Bought some ghost shrimp (5 for $3) for Honu as some additional stimulation. My family and I were trying to guess whether he’d eat them or not (I was betting against it). I put them in the tank last night, during our brief blackout, he didn’t even notice them when two floated right by his face.

Oh well!

Driving back to Waterloo this morning after the terrible ice storm.