Friday, January 31, 2014

Thank You, @PenguinCanada!


A few months ago, I hosted a girls night where as the night went on, we all decided it would be a great idea to start a book club. Most of us haven't been in a book club, but we like to read and the thought was if we read together, we would also have an excuse to regularly get together and enjoy each others company (and each others wine, if we're being honest, ha).

The library in Baker is not the biggest library by any means, and the selection can be fairly limited compared to the libraries in the south. (For example, although I am here, I am still able to borrow ebooks from my library at is wonderful, isn't it??) On a whim, I decided to reach out to a number of book publishers via my Twitter account to see if any company would be interested in helping us out. My message was simple, as one can't be too wordy with a limit of 140 characters: "We are forming a book club in Baker Lake, Nunavut and our resources are limited. Would you be interested in helping with donations to the community?"

Of all the messages I sent, only one company responded. Elizabeth from Penguin Canada was very open to the idea and my proposition - if we received the books for our book club, we would be more than happy to donate them back to the community when we were finished so we could keep the literacy cycle going. A few weeks later, I received a box full of books and then just this past week I received a second box that even included signed copies of one of the books. It's like Christmas for our brains and we are so overwhelmed with Penguin's generosity! :)

It's always amazing to me to find a company that is so receptive to helping and giving back. It means a lot to not only our small group, but the people that we will be able to share our books with. Growing up, I have always been a bookworm and in Jeff I have found a husband who also shares the same passion for reading that I have. To be able to share that joy with our community with Penguin's help is a gift that means so much to us.

Thank you, Penguin Canada - especially Elizabeth - you have reminded us that we are not forgotten all the way up here.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plastic Brains

A bit belated, but once again, one of the side benefits of living in Baker Lake is that Santa overcompensates, being that we're so far from loved ones during the holidays. No complaints!

Amongst other great gifts for Christmas, my mother gave me a book entitled The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. In classic Jeff form, I procrastinated reading it until just recently. Once I got into it however, it became as engrossing as a Lee Child or Tom Clancy novel. It talks about neuroplasticity, which simply means that our brains can be changed positively with a little exercise. The book documents examples of people with Alzheimer's, strokes, brain injuries, and other ailments, and shows how what was once considered permanent brain damage can be reversed using the latest in neuroplastic advancements.

I'm only into the third chapter, but already, the information I've learned is incredible. The book explains why people become forgetful as they age, and the best ways to prevent this from happening. As the author explains, medical science has gotten very good at keeping people alive into their eighties using tools that make us more physically healthy. What's needed is a comparable amount of focus on mental health, so that everyone can fully enjoy this longevity.

There is a website one of the neuroplasticians founded called Posit Science, and you can try several exercises for free that help train your brain to become better.

It's a great book that explains complicated brain functions in a simple way, and every chapter is more interesting than the last. I HIGHLY recommend reading it. Don't procrastinate. :-)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Getting Healthy

Pepper is as energetic as ever, and still adorably cute. It's hard to get used to the idea that he will only ever be max. 7 pounds, even as a grumpy adult. Right now he is snuggling next to Lily , legs splayed out like he was drunk (he's not), and Lily is engrossed in one of the hidden object games I downloaded for her iPad. Typical evening in our quiet household. We had an eventful weekend in terms of weather - Lily came home around 3pm on Thursday and that blizzard lasted until late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Most of Saturday was clear and sunny, but we were under a second blizzard warning for the evening, though when we went to bed it was still pretty clear out. Winds picked up Sunday afternoon, but it never got terribly bad even though we were supposed to have a blizzard until Monday evening - by later on Sunday, it was pretty clear again and our blizzard warning sadly ended. It was brief, but reminds us that if only there were a bit more snow, this could be a very different winter.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Blizzard Prep

As I am writing this on Thursday evening, we are several hours into our first big blizzard of 2014 - one that they say could last into Monday. In the time we have been here, I think the longest blizzard we have weathered was half that time, so it will be interesting to see what it looks like when all is said and done. Prior to today, there wasn't enough snow on the ground since it's been sooooo cold (> -50 for long periods of time) but it warmed up significantly (-18 today??) and we had about 5 cm of snow fall...and that's when the wind started to pick up.

Prepping for a storm requires some foresight and planning. I thought I would share what we do to get ourselves ready for the potential of being stuck inside with a blizzard.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I have a confession. Nearly every day, I knowingly break a rule and I'm ok with it.

You see, there's a sign at work that I just can't listen to.
I've tried.
I really have.

I just can't.


Monday, January 20, 2014

We're Back!

We apologize to everyone for the hiatus we took after New Years. There has been a lot going on around here, but things are finally starting to settle down.

I am happily ensconced at the high school as a substitute teacher, and work has been very steady - I've been there almost every day since I started. Some of the teachers have heard rumours that social promotion is coming to an end, which offers some hope for the future. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, social promotion, or social passing, means that students are promoted to the next grade of school, regardless of their actual performance. The advantage is that everyone remains on the same level as their peers. The disadvantage should be fairly obvious, which is why teachers have been pushing the government to rescind the policy. Hopefully it occurs soon, but of course, if it happened tomorrow, the current group of students would be grandfathered.

Otherwise, I'm very much enjoying substitute teaching. It can be crazy at times, but also very rewarding when you have students that you know can graduate, with a little bit of your help. There's no question that teachers deserve their summers off, but I think most of us would argue we should also qualify for that attractive benefit.

I've also recently begun the last course for my Project Management certificate at Humber College. There's a lot of math involved, which wasn't my favourite subject in school, but there's even more writing, which was. Project management is one of those disciplines that seems to be part of every other job, which makes it universally useful. I'm hoping it will help parlay itself into a job when we return to Ontario. If all goes well (and the previous courses suggest so), I'll be graduating in mid-April of this year. After that, who knows? I've tossed around the idea of going for a Bachelor's of Education. My only concern (although it's a big one) is that I've heard there's a 10-year waiting list to teach in Ontario. Anyway, I'll cross that bridge in the future - for now, I'm hitting the books, and enjoying my job, which is a rare pleasure for anyone, I think.

Lily and Pepper are doing well, and are both as cute as ever.