Friday, November 28, 2008

Here and there...

This week has taken on a different rhythm than the usual. Jody Heywood dropped in for a fun visit at the beginning of the week. It was such a treat to have her! We had a lot of fun together; I'll have to post some pics soon.

The last three days of the week have been devoted to ICEC- the International Christian Educator Conference. Close to one thousand teachers from around (mostly) Asia have come to HK for the event. It has been great. I really enjoy the chance to gather new ideas, encouragement and wisdom from others. We've got a couple awesome speakers in town- Dr. Gary Chapman (think love languages), and Phil Callaway. Dr. Chapman's thoughts were very practical- many helpful reminders for healthy relationships. Phil was hilarious, as always. He gave insights into how can have "hope for the crazy kids", speaking from personal experience as he was a crazy kid himself! Oh, that guy can really get laughter rolling in a room. I think a speaker must be gifted when they can make you cry from laughing so hard, and then cry because you've been so moved by his thoughts. One simple take away from his first session was to remember to commit to praying for kids. I've got so many on my heart- and somehow I still forget to pray. I attended some interesting workshops focused on counseling students. I am quite interested in this and I was glad to gain helpful approaches for working with hurting kids.

Next weekend I'm going to Macau for a girl's getaway. There are seven of us, and we are going to Cirque de Soleil together. I'm really looking forward to it.

I had to apply for a new passport today because mine is full! That's kind of a fun thing, except that it still has three years of validity, and it costs $100 for a new one! I'm praying they return it on schedule, or else it will be slightly difficult to board my Dec. 20 flight home to Canada. I am so excited to be en route to Canada for Christmas this year. I will be in Regina from Dec. 20-24, Calgary from the 24-30, and then back to Kennedy for the McMillan New Year's celebration.

Lastly, the real reason I had to get a new passport is that I need room for my Indian visa! I am taking four good friends along with me this time. We will fly through Delhi on our way to Guwahati. We are all very excited (though certainly prayerful about the very difficult situations in India right now).

That's all for tonight. Good night from HK!

New Kicks

Jill inspired me towards Toms Shoes. I think it's a great way to shop for shoes! Buy a pair and they'll give away a pair. They are aiming to give away 30,000 shoes to little feet in Ethiopia. I've ordered two pair that should meet me in Canada for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Azul's Great Escape

We had another pep rally today. It was a lot of fun! Likely the most enjoyable part for me was watching the crowd view the movie I prepared for the event, "Azul's Great Escape". We had a blast 'shooting' the movie. I laughed and laughed as we wandered around the city with this huge, blue lion. The locals loved Azul!!! The schools you see on the movie are our rivals, one of them being International Christian School, whom we share a healthy and fun rivalry with. Ah, it was a fun day and one I'll be able to remember for a long time to come! Enjoy Azul's adventure...


Last week we went to camp with the Grade 4's and 5's. Camp here definitely has a different flavor here. It's a little more posh. A little more dainty. It does has a few pretty sweet activities that I didn't have growing up (a rope course the kids love and a climbing wall), and the scenery is beautiful. HK kids tend to be more delicate than Canadian kids (there are exceptions on both sides of course). Big city kids who have spent most of their days in a concrete world. Grass, sand and dirt are such novelties to everyday life here...difficult for Saskatchewanites to envision!

It's always rewarding to spend time with the kids at camp. I loved sharing evening devo's with the girls, and spreading the "Chickee Chickee" love at the campfire. The barbecue has got to be one of the most humorous times at camp. I think I simultaneously heard 5 voices at a time yelling, "Miss McMillan...IS THIS COOKED YET?!!!" And then, five replies, "It's still cold and wet. You need to put it a little closer to the fire!!!" Ha. Way too funny.

Oh, and a last lovely memories of camp food prepared by Mom or Laura or Margaret are being erased by the greasy cuisine/slops served at camp here....sigh. I think my body has recovered now...

deep fried greasy 'sausages'. served daily x3 :)

sketching by the dock...beautiful surroundings.

Monday, November 03, 2008


A couple things had me laughing this morning. When I went to pick up my kids, the first one in line looked up and his jaw dropped. "Whoa". "WHY are YOU wearing PINK?!" (I guess my kids are getting to know me well). It wasn't good for my insecurities and overall lack of love towards the color pink, but it sure made me laugh!!! I agreed with him, really. Why AM I wearing PINK?!! That's silly.

Then I spent my prep period reading through the bookshelf of "Little Miss and Mr. " books. Wow. I had forgotten how funny those books are!! If you are taking yourself, or your day, a little too seriously, just read some of Roger Hargreaves' little gems. My favorites today were Little Miss Giggles, Mr. Forgetful, and Little Miss Naughty. Heh heh heh. We're going to use the stories as scripts for our camp skits. I think they have potential to be pretty entertaining!

A Day for Mama Bear

This was taken on "Book Day". We were supposed to dress up as our favorite book character. I came across that blue polka-dot dress in a second hand shop and immediately thought, "Mama Bear!!!" I loved the Berenstain Bears as a kid. I loved ordering the latest book in the series from Scholastic. Therefore, I dedicated Book Day to Mama Bear, a legend of my childhood.

This picture also stars the Professor from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as well as Queen Esther (also known as friends and colleagues named Liz and Tammy).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tidbits it's hard to have balance
Planning...a girl's getaway to see Cirque de Soleil in Macau
Drinking...bubble tea!
Frustrated...with grouchy knees and a resulting hiatus from the tennis court
Worried...about my family in India
Excited...about going home for Christmas this year
Reading...grade five memoirs :)
Wondering...where I will be a year from today?
Impressed...with "Oovoo" (Today I had a video conference with Tim & Tara, Mom & Dad, and Steve & the same time!!)
Missing...Mom and Dad
Teaching...on Joseph, grace, totem poles, and rules of divisibility (remember those?)
Learning...a new offense for the basketball team Andrew Peterson's new album, David Crowder, and good ol' country my Grandpa's sense of humor

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Turkey Cupcakes

Turned out like this! (A few turned into "stuffed turkeys" because they sort of crumbled...oh well, all the more tasty!)

King of Turkeys? Why not...let the creativity flow! :)

Vietnam Pictures

Can be found here and here!
A few favorites:

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I just finished preparing a couple thanksgiving snacks for school tomorrow. I love celebrating this day with my students. I like to cover our door with paper and title it, "thanksgiving graffiti". The kids have fun filling it with gratitude. This year I found a really cute turkey cupcake idea, so I'm going to try that out. I think they'll have a blast with it (what could go wrong with chocolate cupcakes involved?!), to go along with our graffiti and classic making of thanksgiving cards.

There is so much to be grateful for, and I hope it's an attitude that shapes each day for me. I try to be thankful. Most days, it's so easy because there is such an abundance of good things that fill my life.

Tonight in the midst of busyness, I thought on the powerful blessing of role models in my life. I'm spoiled rotten, and it starts with my family. My grandparents have created a legacy of faith, love and generosity that is incredible. I thank God for my Mom and Dad every day. I am so grateful for all that they model for me, but especially: grace, selflessness, faithfulness, hospitality and a heart set on serving God and others. And I don't know how I got so lucky, to have the big brothers and sisters (and sisters in law) that I have. I have never had a shortage of love, encouragement, or inspiration in my life...not with a crew like that leading the way! Oh, the list could continue on and on- from teachers to coaches to my church family mentors and my aunts, uncles and cousins. I'm celebrating your examples to me tonight, and remembering to pass on the blessing of a role model to the young ones I spend my days with! I'm thankful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving from Hong Kong.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Harm from...Hanoi

Day one is coming to an end. We made good use of it! Waking up to the sounds of horns and construction brought back memories of both India and China. We enjoyed a baguette, cheese and Vietnamese coffee for breakfast, thanks to our very warm and helpful hosts at the guesthouse. Our accommodations are not flashy, but definitely homey...and cheap! We are staying in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, a bustling corner of the city. The theme of transportation is definitely the honking scooter. Crossing the street here is similar to the Indian experience- just take your chances and go. Weave your way through the madness. It's a pretty fun game and you always feel like you've accomplished something when you've made it safely to the other side.

I am excited to be in a new country. As per usual, day one was spent getting acquainted with the geography, the food, and especially of key importance, the shopping. We were most pleased, actually we were thrilled, with the potential for good buys in Hanoi. We all put in orders for clothes today, so we are all looking forward to picking up the final products in a couple days. I'm excited about the great artwork available and I'm pondering a few purchases later on this weekend. I found the Old Quarter to be a bit of a challenge to navigate. After being spun around a number of times as we wandered the streets, I was pleased to feel a relative sense of direction by the time we finished the day.

Tomorrow we are going to Halong Bay, which we expect to be a highlight of our stay. We are going on a junk boat, where we will eat and sleep for one night. Kayaking, swimming and cave exploring are all on the agenda. Guess I'll head for bed- a day of wandering has left me weary.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Favorite Summer Picture

I thought about posting a few of my favorite pictures from the summer, but it's just too hard to choose! My very favorite is easy though, and it has the potential to be my desktop background for a long time to come...

Mareesa and Great Grandpa- August 8, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Typhoon Day!

Last night I was out with a group of hopeful teachers, waiting with their fingers crossed that the typhoon would last through the night and give us a day off school. Sure enough, the education bureau canceled school today because of the inclement weather. Yeeeeah!!! So today, I'm enjoying the equivalent of a Saskatchewan "snow day" here in Hong Kong.

The first month of year three in Hong Kong has been a blur of activity. This is the first week that has felt more relaxed in its pace. I'm glad for that. I've said it before, it is a strange feeling but one that I'm so grateful for- to feel so at home here. This year my triangle of life (home, school, tennis court) has been thrown a little out of whack with becoming a lot more connected with my church family. This has been a welcomed whack. :) It's an added circle of friends, and continues to be a stretching and life-giving group to be a part of. I am into teaching Sunday School there, and share the job of leading worship in my weekly small group. And somehow, I signed up to organize the kid's Christmas program! Ha ha. It's going to be awesome (it has to be, with the number of cute faces that will be on stage!).

I'm looking forward to a few different events in the coming months. The first one is a trip to Vietnam. That's next Tuesday, for five days. We'll be in Hanoi and Halong Bay. I've been anticipating the conical hats, rice paddies and pho of Vietnam for sometime now. Passion is coming to Hong Kong in October. This means David Crowder and Chris Tomlin will be here. I'm hoping to go, though I'm actually TOO OLD (aaai yaaa!) for the event!! Seriously! Then in November, I'm going to Macau to see Roger play James Blake in a tennis event (as well as watching John McEnroe and Bjorn Bjorg play doubles) at The Venetian. The main feature of December is a flight home for Christmas for the first time since living in HK. I was thrilled when a friend found me a super cheap flight that made it easy to enjoy a white Christmas with my family. Another main feature of December will be seeing Shannon and Jason's new baby (coming soon!!!), as well as Jeff and Daina's new baby (coming in December). Yeeeeah!!

Anyway, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my typhoon day!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Backtracking to Thailand...

Before I settled into things for another year in HK, and following a wonder-FULL summer in Canada, I spent a week in the south of Thailand. I loved staying with the Honigman family. They live in Phuket, not a bad spot to hang out in for a week! Kara and Gerry are a fantastic pair, and they have three fun, high energy boys- Alec, Elias and Vaughn. It was so much fun to get to know them. After four days in Phuket (including my first parasailing adventure!), I ventured on my own to an island called Ko Phi Phi. It was a great getaway spot. I snorkeled for the first time (a funny sight for anyone- I'm not the most graceful of swimmers), spent time reading and hanging out on the beach, and soaked up the sun! Here are a few pictures from my week...(see the Flickr set to the right)

the pool at Kara and Gerry's compound

Elias, Alec and Vaughn- warriors of the ocean

Vaughn and Kara!

the girls at the beach

Gerry and Alec

flying high


arrived at Ko Phi Phi

not a bad sunset

time to reload


Friday, August 29, 2008

This year's showdown..

Last year I went to see Roger vs. Pete in Macau. This year they are adding a couple old guys to the show...should be fun!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The kids are coming!

Loooong sigh. The classroom is ready. I've only been teaching for two years, but somehow I had forgotten the mad rush of the week before school starts. Cut, staple, stick, print, glue, label, repeat one hundred times until the classroom is exactly the way I want it. And that is part of the reason for the madness of it all- it has to be just right!! I do love this part of teaching. Building a warm, fun place for kids to learn and feel at home. It is very enjoyable. I love a solidly stapled and creatively coordinated bulletin board. Definite satisfaction. At the same time, I know that ugly pride can sneak in quickly- and I have to ask myself- is the carefully created bulletin board for my kids? Or is it for me?! Oh those motives, always getting in the way.

I'm ready for the kids! I'm very excited for this group of students. It's always fun to start off fresh with a new group, and so interesting to watch classroom dynamics unfold. I love feeling the potential and promise of a new year. We've prayed a lot for our kids this week and I'm looking forward to meeting them. I'm also so glad for my friends at school- there are many that I enjoy working with so much. A treat to teach alongside such great people. The first day of school was always something I loved as a student- I think it might be even better for a teacher! Bring on year number three!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's good to be home.

I woke up this morning to the basement I best remember and the sound of Dad vacuuming the van outside. I'm home, and it feels so good.

The first two and a half weeks in Canada have been great. I've spent most of my days with my nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters and parents. I started in Calgary for a week, then went to Moose Jaw to meet up with my best girlfriends for a day retreat at the spa (what an awesome day that was), then headed to Saskatoon for a week with my brother and his family. Heather, Mom and I took a mother-daughter getaway to Waskesiu for the past two days, which was wonderful. Last night was another highlight, as I got to meet Baby Bandura for the first time (it's still living in Shannon). That was too exciting. I don't feel much like writing about every minute of the journey- I'm just soaking it up! I will post a link to a few of the 300 or so pictures I have taken so far.

This afternoon I'm driving down the 48 to see my Grandma and Grandpa, as well as Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. For the weekend I will be in Portage visiting more family. Then it's back to Regina on Sunday night, where I'll be glad to hang out for the week.

Time for lunch with Barb! Pictures coming soon, but hey, no promises- I'm on holiday!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Feeling Goooood

Finished!!!! It's such a great feeling. Two months without my year long boyfriend Mark Ng (think hard), planning, report cards, waking up early because I have to, and solving ten year old's conflicts (unless my nieces and nephews stir up trouble). Yeeeeeeah. Feeling good.

Even better is the fact that the sun is shining and the sky is! Gorgeous.

And to add to it is the fact that my summer reading material just arrived in the mail. A perfect way to start things off. I was happy to learn about, a small scale, Amazon-like service just for Hong Kong, with a solid selection of reasonably priced books, and free shipping! Sweet. To get things started this summer, I've got Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by one of my very favorite authors- Anne Lamott. I also bought Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises and A Revolution of Hope by Brian McLaren, and my last choice- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. Plus, Viva La Vida is ringing in my ears...good books and good music.

It was so nice to have Mom, Dad, Autumn, Andrew, Pamela, and Raysha here. I must say it was a bit of a teaser though. I came home from school yesterday sad to have an empty house. They were here for two nights. Again, we packed in as much as we could in the time we had: eating Chinese food, walking the streets of Mongkok to find bubble tea (for Raysha) and delicious mango drinks (especially for Dad), they had an adventure in the rain- lost in Mongkok on their own (ai ya, I was working!), we went to the Peak and had fun shopping, while imagining what it might look like if we weren't in a cloud, enjoyed some good Mexican food (after getting lost again in a different area) followed by Krispy Kreme. It was lots of fun...I love them so much and it was much easier to say goodbye because.....I'M FLYING HOME IN NINE DAYS!!!!! One more BIG reason to be feeling gooooooood.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Medieval Day and More

Here are some pictures from our Medieval Day. It was great fun. I decided to let the kids decorate the cake this year (must...let...go...ha ha), and they really enjoyed that. The boys enjoyed chess, the girls were fairly involved in making sure the Queens were dolled up appropriately. Our minstrel was a highlight. The skits were dramatic though perhaps...unpolished. We ate fruit, cheese, stew on trenchers (bread), drumsticks, and dessert. One new dimension to this year's feast was the creation of goblets for the ale. They were quite nifty. Here's what I wrote about last year's feast.

After school, eight of my students came over to my place for a party as a reward for reaching their reading goals. They were very energetic. Ha. They explored every inch of my 600 square foot flat and enjoyed jumping on my bed. I suppose there is something thrilling in jumping like a monkey on your teacher's bed. We made pizzas and watched Holes. I finally sent them back to their parents on a sugar high. It was a full day and by the time the rug rats left my place, I was ready for bed!

Today brings wonderful news: I'm finished report cards!!! This is such a wonderful season for a teacher. :) Four teaching days to go, and five prep days to follow. Yeeees!

Mom, Dad, Autumn, Andrew, Pam, and Raysha are coming tomorrow for two nights. Of course I'm excited! Guess I'd better get things organized around here- maybe they won't be as rambunctious as the kids in my house on Friday!! I'm trying to decide if I should do my dishes or let Dad enjoy them...hee hee hee. I miss the good ol' days. :)

Making pizzas.

The Party!

The Monkeys.

This year's cake, decorated by the kids.

All dressed up for the feast.

Robin Hood and the Jester.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Dragonboat festival = HK holiday

That's today! What a great feeling to go to bed late on a Sunday night and sleep in on a Monday morning. Beautiful!

A few random notes on a sunny Monday morning:

-It's been a fantastic French Open/NBA Finals weekend. Roger was a major, major disappointment last night, however. Terrible!!! Rafa, on the other hand, despite his butt-picking ways, proved completely dominant. I was happy for Ivanovic and loved watching her play, though would have liked a more competitive final. I am loving the Celtic's play against the Lakers. Rondo is my favorite. The main point is: the Lakers will not win. Ha, I know Heather is appreciating this blog (she fancies both Nadal and Kobe).

-I'm still laughing at Elijah's obsession with the HNIC song. Tim's video gave me a major boost on Friday!

-We have 9 teaching days left. This is glorious news! The next week will be extremely busy thus I'm extra grateful for the holiday. Report cards are due next Monday, my class will have the Medieval Feast on Friday (any ideas for this year's castle cake? or my costume?), students are coming over to my place for a celebration on Friday, and I'm planning a farewell for a good friend on Saturday.

-Mom, Dad and company will be here for two nights the next week! I'm praying for clear skies so we can go to The Peak.

-I've joined a new church family. I am so thankful for the genuine friendships developing with the folks at Solomon's Porch. I am excited to be a part of this group of followers. It has been a refreshing and stretching six weeks or so since joining SP.

-The musical highlight of my year thus far came this week. I met The Wailin' Jennys. They have my heart.

-Officially 20 days until I cozy up on Air Canada for the journey to the homeland. I am very excited. The summer is a bit of a whirling dervish, with stops in Calgary, Medicine Hat :), Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Kennedy, Portage, Regina, and then back to Calgary, Regina and Kennedy. The schedule flows in that order- arriving in Calgary on June 29 and flying out on August 11.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Touching Them All

Oh my, this makes me weep! What a neat story. Hits close to home- softball, a torn ACL, and a girl that's never hit one over the fence! :) I sure miss ball, and especially all my ball friends, at this time of the year. I'd love to get the cleats out and dive into the shale. Enjoy...and get your kleenex out!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday morning singing...

Yesterday I turned on GarageBand during our Friday morning devotional, when we usually spend time singing together. This is one of their favorites...

Pour Out My Heart

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Rubber Band Experiment

On the weekend I listened to my brother Steve's message "Beauty in the Air", part of his series "Do Something Beautiful". You can download the sermon from iTunes, or go here to listen online. The analogy of our spoken words bringing a polluting presence to the air felt easy to grasp, living in the thick smog of Hong Kong. Easy to picture!

So today I challenged myself, and my students, to take up what we ended up tagging "The Rubber Band Challenge". I think Steve, his church, and from what I hear, 5 million other people in the world, have those hip plastic bracelets to use, but we decided to go with the classic rubber band. The basic idea is that every time you complain, argue, whine, moan, get the hang of switch your bracelet to the other wrist. The challenge is to see how many days it takes you to keep the bracelet on the same wrist for 21 days. Hooofta.

We did a one day challenge in Grade 5. I told the kids that after that, they could decide if they wanted to continue or not. Hopefully they stick with it, because there was a lot less whining in the classroom today! (And they're likely hoping I stick with it, too!) "Take out your math books...." was met with silence, though I could hear them biting their tongues! I had to smile at one of my boys, who came into the classroom exclaiming (with exasperation), "Ohhhhhhhh! I just had to switch it TWO times! After I complained the first time, then I complained that I had complained and had to switch it again!"

I found that I did well with my kids throughout the day, but as I found myself in the staff room, and later at physio, the rubber band was on the move! Interesting.

Check out Steve's sermon- it's a good one!!!

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Mac is Back.

Alas, the white wonder has returned. The Macbook is back, and revamped. The receipt notes a new hard drive, battery, and top case with keyboard. Hoofta. I thought I took good care of it...but apparently it wasn't feeling the love.

I have a few questions for the fix it fellows, though. For one, they didn't reinstall Leopard. I don't why, and I am having some troubles reinstalling it again on the disk volume that appears. I need to reinstall Leopard before I can load up the computer with everything from my back up disk. Though they didn't reinstall Leopard, they actually upgraded my ILife package, which is good and bad. Good because I like the new IPhoto, but bad because so far I'm not a huge fan of the new IMovie. Also, a favorite application from the old ILife, Comicbook, is no longer included in the new version. Guess I'll give them a call in the morning and see if I can get the Leopard reinstall figured out, anyway.

Well, I'm happy to be connected at home again, although the last three weeks have been very good for me. I got more sleep, and I read my Bible in the mornings, instead of checking email. I'm going to see if I can keep that one up.

Super-Sized Seduction

We have some big city seduction going on in Hong Kong. It's sad. As I was on my way out of the MTR (subway) station today, I was seduced by the scenes splattered all over the walls going up the escalator. Basically as close to naked as you can get, save for a string bikini (for sale at H&M). The size of the image, I think, would about cover one of our double-decker buses. On the other side of the escalator, there's a man flanked by a woman on each side. And you know the looks on their faces. Seduction is in the station.

But H&M's got nothin' next to the Calvin Klein folks, who claimed the title for Asia's largest billboard. With an image that could be viewed from the other side of the harbor, as well as from the Peak view on the Island, CK plastered Djimon Hounsou in his tighty whities for all of HK to see. Thanks, CK. I'm sure you could have picked up the image using Google Earth! It encompassed 27 stories on the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Talk about MASS media. I wish I could hide these images from my ten-year-old students' eyes. It's frightening, and overwhelming to me as an Aunty, and educator. How are we helping our kids make sense of the load of sexually driven messages that flood our world?

Monday, May 05, 2008

82 years old....for a day

Today was Career Day at school. You were supposed to dress up as what you want to be "when you grow up". Last night I grew weary of unit planning, so I decided to play a game. You have half an hour. Go to the market via taxi. Turn yourself into a lovely Grandma. This is what I came up with in my half hour. My favorite part is the shirt, it says "A mother's love is homemade". The purse included candies, lotion, and pictures of all my precious grandchildren.
My, was it ever a fun day at school! Dressing up never gets old.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Teaching the Digital Natives

I spent the day at a learning technology PD conference. The most useful session was one focused on enquiry learning, versus topical research. Basically moving away from the "scooping" model of research, where we send kids off with a topic and they collect information, and moving towards research that is directed by questioning and problem solving. The speaker also had some good thoughts on helping kids use Google. One simple tip was getting away from the simple search and always directing them to the advanced search mode.

The session hosted by Apple was worthwhile, especially because it was aimed at using Garage Band. I've played with it from time to time, but it was great to dive in and leave the session feeling pretty comfortable with the software. The trouble is that I have only my personal Macbook (actually I don't even have that at the moment- hard disk replacement is underway), so it's next to impossible to do so much of what I'd love to with Mac software in my classroom. Maybe someday. Many, if not most, of the international schools in HK have personal Macbooks for their students.

One site you might find helpful is Catch Video. It allows you to download Youtube videos onto your computer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Remember the CAT Tests? Maybe not. Perhaps you were a member of the CTBS Test generation, like me. Sorry, I don't know what came before CTBS Tests! I didn't mind the tests, though I was always curious about who was going to evaluate the results. Was there a fancy education hotshot in Ottawa looking for the bright and brilliant of Saskatchewan?

Anyway, my kids are writing their CAT tests this week. And they are thrilled. Riiight. As I wandered the room, enforcing the proper and accurate darkening of the precious circles, I started to pray for them. I was reminded of how prayer has the power to move us and change us as we go. As I thought about their family situations, their struggles, their strengths- my compassion and desire to serve them increased. I also felt assured of what I could do to breathe encouragement and love into them. I need to pray for my kids more often.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Turkey Sandwich Symptom

What I really have felt the past two weeks is just this: I miss my Mom, and I miss my Grandma. This has got me thinking about my roots, because these two women are so deeply a part of who I am. What tipped it all off was a longing for my mom's sandwiches. Seriously. White OK-Economy bread with turkey sandwich meat and cheese. And Mom usually added butter back in those days. Throw in a token piece of fruit, and a butterscotch pudding or an apple sauce. Of course there's a lot more to it than No Name sandwich meat. I just miss her all over! The everyday chats and fixings of encouragement and friendship from Mom. I wish that we were living in the same place. I'm glad we'll have one more day in HK, together with the rest of Team India- that would be June 18, and then summer is just around the corner!

And then there's Grandma. It's her 91st birthday, you know! I was telling my students about my Grandma. How she has a legacy, or perhaps a profession, in letter writing, makes a mean cinnamon bun and loves flowers and granddaughters (okay, and people in general). So we decided to write Grandma McMillan letters. A good ol' fashioned handwritten birthday letter, with a wealth of stamps of all kinds for home-made fancy letter writing paper. They did a fantastic job, and don't tell Grandma, but we're sending one a day. I hope it brings her cheer, and just a sampling of the encouragement that has been spread through her own letter writing. I am so looking forward to seeing both Grandma and Grandpa this summer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brought to you by the white chocolate mocha at the coffee shop...

I'm getting no love from Apple these days. Before I went to Korea, my ipod died. I decided to buy a new nano. I left my nano on the bus in China on the weekend. Smooth move. It is being returned to me in the mail. This is good. My Macbook went into a deep sleep about a week ago, and I'm hoping the Apple fix it fellows are working wonders right now. She won't be back for another ten days. Sigh. So I'm at the coffee shop. I could blog at school, but I really don't feel much in the mood for it at the end of the day.

So if I were feeling like a more energetic blogger, I would catch you up on the latest. The latest stretches back to the Jeonju days, which demand at least one solid blog entry (the food earns a post of its own)! That will be coming soon. I might also tell you about this past weekend, when I went to China with my high school basketball guys. They enjoyed titling it the "China Tour". The China Tour ended up mostly rained out, or alternatively known as the China Ping Pong Tour (what do you in China when you can't play basketball outside?). However, the one game we managed against the government church team (similar to our "church hockey teams" at home), was a classic. Unfortunately, I was reffing...

Lately I'm spending time after schools working with the Grade 3 and 5 students on our spring musical- "Donkey Tales". Last night I watched the Hairspray special dvd features to inspire me in my role as drama director. The theme song goes something like this..."Donkey Tales are long. Donkey Tales are short....Hee haw, Hee haw". Sounds like the makings of something epic, hey?!

I can almost taste summer. Almost...but not quite yet. I have a ticket home so that makes it seem more real. June 29 is the day I return to big skies, clean air, Timmy's, real chocolate milk....and hopefully and most importantly, you!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

what I found under the bridge

The past week has had its fill of ups and downs. Looking back on the week, I'm going to try and ride with the highs, learn from the lows, and walk in freedom.

Yesterday I had the chance to help give out rice boxes to street sleepers. I couldn't speak with those we met, but I hope they sensed God's love in me nonetheless. I sensed that the rice box, although helpful, was not the primary need. As my Chinese friends chatted with a beautiful old man living under a bridge, I saw a greater hunger to be loved and wanted than to be fed. He was smart, and funny, too. When he learned that I was a teacher, he called me a "soul engineer". He seemed to soak up the attention and company. I thought of how Christ meets our hunger- the aches in the stomach, and the greater aches in our souls. As we walked away, I hoped that our friend felt less alone in the world.

I felt a similar hope in a number of conversations I shared with friends this week. Simple but powerful is reminding each other that we're not in this alone.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Grade 5 Surprise

I've been slightly suspicious but more amused at the antics of my students this week. Something was brewing. Little giggles. Whispers. Sneaking around with little white checklists. "Miss McMillan, what's your favorite color?"

Before lunch I could sense it was becoming more difficult for the excitement to stay hidden.
After lunch I returned to a streaming door of pink, covering our castle. Inside were 16 kids all singing "Happy Birthday" and a new rendition of "Joy to the World". Mango cake. Monster card. Noise. A Starbucks drink. Lots of balloons and streamers. Gifts. Teddy bears. Snacks. They had covered all the bases! I must say it was impressive display of organization and planning! Everyone had a part. What a sweet bunch, hey?! I felt the love!!

Here's a couple pictures they put in a card for me (click to enlarge). Pretty funny!! The last few at the bottom are of the big party.

"Happy Delayed Birthday" :)

"I will be your friend. Don't be sad. We are here!"

"Happy Belated Birthday, Miss McMillan!"