Three Busy Weeks: Over!

Teaching: The last few weeks have been insanely busy. Just as I was finishing my Additional Qualification online course – I had even requested two extra days after the course finished – I was offered my first Long Term Occasional in Elmira, Ontario. The timing couldn’t have been better, as I was able to apply #edtech strategies I’d learned in my AQ (i.e. collaboration on tech, peer teaching, using a Learning Management System such as Google Classroom, gamification with Quizlet Live). On top of that, Human Resources confirmed that I am officially on the Long Term Occasional roster, so now I can apply for second semester positions (versus daily subbing). I taught two Grade 9 classes – one was Academic and the other Applied – as well as a Grade 11 Biology. While I was familiar with current electricity for the niners, I had a lot of studying each night with microbiology and plant sciences. It’s been 13 years since I did my Bachelor of Science!

Sleep: What is that? I’ve been getting mostly 5-6 hours a night. Was soooo happy to sleep in this morning!

Yoga: Taught one class at the beginning of December before my life got really busy.

Volleyball coaching: Since being at Elmira, I wasn’t able to contribute as much time. I’d only been to 1-2 practices a week. I might be helping to run a tournament in January, so I need to be more familiar before the that happens on January 11th. Reviewed referee signals tonight.


November Updates

Updating cellphone plan: While I was traveling in the UK back in October, I was refraining from using my cellphone. Koodo has a roaming plan for $12/day (eek). I could receive text messages and just read them without being charged, but I did not text or call. When I went online just to turn off the roaming capabilities, I found out that my exact same phone plan was available for $50 instead of $60. The company does not inform you so I obviously updated it as soon as possible. Argh, annoying.

Looking for a new credit card: I ditched my American Express before the fee came up and am still looking for a third credit card. I applied for the no-fee President’s Choice Financial Mastercard last week. IMG_20181111_121338342

Volunteering: Helped out at Lawyers Feed the Hungry a second time this past weekend. It was nice to spend a Sunday morning there. Had lunch with my friend B. afterwards at Mythology Diner for a vegan brunch as a treat.

Sports Coaching: I started helping out with the girl’s junior volleyball team at one of the high schools. I’ve gone about 3 times out. It’s a nice way to spend time and isn’t stressful. It’s inspiring to see kids work hard and have fun! Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 10.21.28 AM

CAA Membership: I’ve had CAA membership for many years. It was especially useful when I started working up north. Even in the past year, I was towed three times. As my car is aging, I’ve decided to continue my membership. I like having the app for service calls in emergencies; it’s more efficient than calling by phone. Also, I can use CAA Dollars towards my membership; to be honest, I’m not even sure how I accumulated these rewards but I’m not complaining!

New furniture: On Friday, I went to the library to pick up a hold. Ended up getting this retro chair that they were selling for $20. The wood is pretty solid and it didn’t look too worn down from public use; it likely sat in an office somewhere. Pretty happy with this purchase as I had been looking for a reading chair and glad I don’t have to go to Ikea for one.

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Monthly Goals – September

  • Go to QSY 3 times (5/5): Have 3 comped classes from teaching at Queen Street Yoga. I will save these when I don’t have any paid classes. Went to 3 classes this month.
  • Try new vegan recipes (5/5): Tried making chia seed pudding, soba noodles with peanut sauce, and a potato corn chowder. At the end of the month, I also tried a black eyed peas recipe. I ended up finally trying out the Instant Pot for the first time ever and used it twice.
  • Look into additional income (1/5): I considered applying to Indigo, since I have my Teacher Librarian qualification, have a good background of reading and a new store opened up next to the Cineplex VIP Theatre in Kitchener. Didn’t end up doing this. Still hesitant.
  • Advertise tutoring on Kijiji (0/5): Didn’t end up doing this as I ended up absorbing two students through my tutoring company. Will do so next month.
  • Cancel Evernote subscription (5/5): Accidentally let the subscription lapse last year and paid another $47. This year I cancelled it well in advance so it doesn’t happen again.
  • Calculate expenses gas (5/5): This was interesting. I started it but only analyzed it from my Tangerine Mastercard. Will need to go back to the American Express and add in some more expenses.
  • Cancel American Express (5/5): Did this earlier this week.
  • Research cost of a 407 transponder (5/5): Since my extended family had immigrated to Canada is living in Markham, I know I’ll have more reasons to be driving back to Toronto on the weekends. They live close to the 407, so I was wondering whether it would be worth it to grab a transponder and zip across. I did a few calculations; it would be lovely to cut out the traffic. honestly, I don’t believe it’s worth the money for me.
  • Set up Honu in Kitchener (5/5): Set up tank and also get fish for stimulation for Honu. Bought a dozen minnow and right now 2 have survived.
  • Work on cleaning schedule (1/5): Didn’t do this but was reading about cleaning and also borrowed Melissa Maker’s Clean My Space book from the Waterloo Public Library I’ve been struggling with this goal. I should have learned my lesson and broken this into several monthly goals while making the overarching goal an annual one.
Teaching / Professional Development
  • Find connections for high school volunteering (1/5): Asked a colleague who is Trying to get the name of a teacher who might be running badminton at one of the high schools. J. hooked me up earlier this week but I haven’t gone into the school yet. Coaching is something I haven’t done much of, so it would be good for me to work on this as I continue to build my career.
  • Apply to volunteer at SHORE Centre (0/5):  I had initially considered volunteering at SHORE Centre, which is formerly Planned Parenthood. I decided against it as I feel registering for a course would be a big distraction in the upcoming months
  • Start to simplify Bunz account (4/5): Focus only on trading in Kitchener-Waterloo, rather than spending the time for Toronto trades. I have pared down quite a lot. As usual, if there are several items that are sitting stagnant but don’t get any inquiries, I will end up donating them.

End of Summer Updates

Car insurance: Last year, I was paying $110/month with OTIP. I got registered on the teacher’s group plan, even though I had two speeding infractions from Quebec. OTIP said that if I got a third I would be dropped. This year, I’m only paying about $90/month! Woohoo!!

Moving: Last September, I rented a vehicle to move to Waterloo. This year I had asked my brother-in-law to help out and used his vehicle to haul my mom’s old queen-sized mattress and a few other items mid-July. I ended up giving C. about the same amount I paid for a van last year, but it was nice for us to hang out and also I did not have to pay or buy a mattress.

Volunteering: I volunteered 3 days for two food banks over the summer. Great experiences and just makes your soul feel good. I also volunteered for the St. Stephen’s House again.

Hiking: While this was not a specific monthly goal, I did do a lot of hiking in August. I visited Bonnechere Provincial Park, rare Charitable Research Reserve, Rattlesnake Point (twice) and Crawford Lake.

ABOVE: A trail near RIM Park, next to the Grand River in Kitchener

Monthly Goals: July

July was interestingly very busy. I did not get very much done! And yes, I’m completely aware that it’s 2 weeks into August as I’m writing this … sigh.
  • Complete last of YTT work (4/5): Submitted everything on last date, still have one paper for participation.
  • Work on sewing regularly to reduce screen time (1/5): Only did one small sewing project with Gramma.
  • Take a hike (5/5): Didn’t get as many hikes as June, but managed to go to Rattlesnake with my colleague, J. and her dog


  • Apply for EI (5/5): Sent my application in July but got rejected.
  • Type up auto expenses (0/5): Get an idea of how much I’ve spent in the past 5 years on my car. I’ve been moving waaaay too much to do this. I didn’t even set up my office until Monday this past week!
  • Get ecofriendly toiletries (0/5): I wanted to buy a safety razor but I put this off due to restricted funds. I’m going to set this as a goal for the future.
  • Get household items on the cheap (5/5): In June, I picked up a few decorative pieces on Bunz. Then in July, I lucked out and picked out a few items off Kijiji for a great deal. From one woman, I got a Mennonite-made oak dining table and four chairs ($110 + 10 for delivery), Hamilton Beach toaster oven ($20) and a drafting table ($35). I also grabbed a few kitchen items off a friend, J. My mom generously donated her old Dust Devil vacuum cleaner.

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Teaching / Professional Development
  • Create consent cards printed from Zazzle (5/5): Found two other YTTs to split an order with me. Sent the order in and got some cute cards! Haven’t had a chance to use them yet. We ended up paying about $11.30 each for 32-33 cards.
  • Continue working on painting (1/5): I purchased an acrylics course off Udemy during a sale ($14 CAD). Been too busy and haven’t worked on this at all!! No down time except for reading.
  • Plastic Free July (3/5): This was tough. I used straws and killed some sea turtles. I still need to buy metal straws and this fell on the back burner, so I can’t use my coupon for Bulk Barn anymore … boo.
  • Apply for volunteering at SHORE Centre (0/5): I have always been personally interested in volunteering but will actually push this off to September when I am not driving back and forth to Toronto

Overdue Changes … 16 Years Later

The past weekend, I volunteered at the 33rd Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival, the oldest and largest food fair of its type in North America! It was soooo crowded yet I was so happy to be there again, after having missed out on it for the past 4-5 years. I did two volunteer shifts and took Sunday off.

Hanging out with vegan friends again and remember that I am back in the city, where options and accessibility to cruelty-free products is not an issue anymore, it made me realized that I am due for a change. I’ve been meaning to work towards being vegan for many years now, but made (reasonable) excuses while I was living up north. I was the only vegetarian in town. I did not have access to alternatives. I had very little social or moral support. I was often the only one in my position.

Now, having been vegetarian for 16 years, I feel as if I need to stop participating in exploitive products. I’ve watched Earthlings, I know the physiological changes that are involved in feeding baby cows designated for veal (and we have tons of them in Ontario), I have read Peter Singer. I have own rats, which are commonly used as lab animals, and could never imagine myself giving them up for animal testing. I know all these things in my head and my heart, and yet my lifestyle currently doesn’t follow through with my moral stance.

And finally watching What the Health two days ago, as well as listening to the American podcast The Bearded Vegans, reminded me of what I need to do. It may be a slow process and might take a few months, but immediately finishing the film, I chucked out a few things from the fridge and decided that I was not going to buy anymore yogurt.

Last night, I went to Sobey’s and replaced my yogurt with Soyurt. I threw out my brie (for real) and got some vegan provolone by Earth Island. The Daiya cream cheese – so yummy! – was on sale, so I grabbed a small tub, since it will last until November. Small changes for now. I’m not going to punish myself over honey or butter on a Tim Horton’s bagel, but I am transitioning and having conversations with friends who are supporting me through it.

Those are my thoughts for now and I’ll post more later on as I process how I am going to approach some other changes.

*Both of these documentaries are available on Netflix.