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Another school year is behind us. Another year of celebrating successes with children and families. Another year of learning. Another year taking us further down our journey and bringing new people in to join our journey. Every year I am so grateful to the families for opening their lives to ABC Head Start and entrusting us with their amazing little ones. It takes a leap of faith for parents to let go of their children into their first school experience, and I am always so honoured when they choose ABC Head Start to begin the journey.

A leap of faith is necessary. I envision the parents of ABC...

We have had a very busy couple of months at ABC Head Start. Our first annual Tapestry fundraiser was a HUGE success, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.

I am not sure how it happened, but somehow the school year flew by and it is already mid-June! Activities at ABC Head Start sites are starting to wrap up as we approach summer holidays. One of my favourite days at ABC Head Start is Literacy Backpack Day. It is the day we celebrate the accomplishments of all of the ABC Head Start children and families and wish them well in their educational journey.

At ABC Head Start we know that by...

The other day while I was working away on a project my phone rang. Of course, as the person that handles donations at ABC Head Start I am always thrilled when a donor calls. I am thrilled for two reasons, receiving a gift is always a good thing but my favorite part is actually getting to talk to donors about why they feel compelled to give to ABC Head Start, what their story and connection to our charity is.

 

You know those moments that prove to you that everything you are working so hard for is having an impact? Aren't those the best? Well this phone call was one of those moments. The lady on...

I'm pretty sure I've said it before BUT I'll say it again, Edmonton is such a generous city. We truly live in a city that is committed to making Edmonton a better place for children and families and supporting communities to be the best they can be. From individual citizens to companies people are willing to give their time, talents and money to a great cause.

 

A great example of this commitment to community is the Melting Pot of Edmonton. If you haven't eaten there, RUN don't walk, because it is an AMAZING experience. It is a fondue restaurant located in south Edmonton. ABC Head Start is...

I would like a show of hands; how many of you are swept up in the Olympic Games?? I haven't had the opportunity to take the games in as much as I would have liked. Although I did blow dry my hair in my kitchen just so I could watch the beginning of the Men's Curling gold medal game this morning.

 

What I did get swept up in before the games actually started was the bad press coming out around the conditions in Sochi. Athletes and members of the media posting pictures of half constructed hotel rooms and electric yellow drinking water. #SochiFail started trending on Twitter as people took to...

Of course today is Valentine's Day, and what can be better than celebrating with children? A day to tell them just how special they are. Early this morning I received a video valentine from my 5-year-old nephew serenading me on his paper guitar. It might be the best Valentine's Day gift I have EVER received. It gave me such a great start to my day I decided to spread the love. I stopped at Tim Horton's and picked up heart shaped doughnuts for the ladies in the administration office at ABC Head Start, meanwhile paying for the gentleman's order behind me.

 

On day's like today, I generally turn...

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Have you ever met someone who seems to love making everyone else's day just a bit better? Then maybe you have had the pleasure to meet one of ABC Head Start's bus drivers, Terry. Terry drives for Southland Transportation for our Lymburn site and he is one of the most caring, compassionate and generous men we have ever met. He goes above and beyond the call of duty everyday to make sure our children arrive to and from school safely. And although his job is challenging, Terry always has a smile on his face and a warm greeting for the staff and children.

 

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Today Terry showed up at the school with...

My brother and I have a very similar sense of humor. Ever since we were young we would laugh hysterically at things that would leave our dad, mom and sister scratching their heads. It's not that they didn't get it, it's just that they really didn't find it funny. And I get it, humor is subjective. My entire relationship with my brother has been centered around making each other laugh. We try to one-up each other with humor and wit pretty much every time we see each other. And the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, my nephews do the same thing. My sister says her older son's main goal in...

Recently I received the best email EVER! And I get an overwhelming amount of emails.

This is what it said:

Once Clifford was reading knock knock it was puppy so they read together

The end

 

It took me a moment to understand what I was reading. The email was from my sister-in-law and at first I thought, "Wow she's really losing it," but quickly I realized it was an email from my 7 year-old nephew. Lack of punctuation aside I was completely impressed and proud. He really has a passion for writing and story telling and I find it amazing how much he is learning in such a short time. He has a love...

With yet another Friday of snowy, chilly weather, Edmontonians may want to seriously consider hibernation. But wait! ABC Head Start has another story to warm your heart.

 

Mike & Shelley's story dates back to the early 90's when their family attended the ABC Head Start program. It is a story of incredible multi-generational family success. I truly believe that sometimes we may not realize the impact we are making on other's lives. In the human services industry this is particularly true. In 1992, the ABC Head Start Social Worker gave Shelley a book mark and wrote on the back to "begin with a...

Just in case you haven't noticed, it's cold out there folks! I apologize from the bottom of my Albertan-Canadian heart if this is your first winter in Edmonton. I would like to say "It gets better," but the truth is sometimes it's -40C during the winter and there's not much we can do about it. I grew up in Manning, Alberta which is the coldest place IN THE ENTIRE WORLD this morning - I am proof and inspiration that you can survive Alberta winters. ;)

 

Being it is so cold out, I am going to serve you up something that will warm you from the inside out. I have been fortunate enough to work at ABC...

The generosity of ABC Head Start supporters during the holiday season always astounds me. Our donors, supporters, and volunteers go above and beyond to make sure our families are well cared for this time of year. But the need is great and every little bit of support goes a long way. What I love about this season is people help in whatever way they can. They give their time, resources and money - and every bit makes a difference to a family in need.

 

A new movement has started in Canada...and I'm not talking about the Welcome Winter Movement, this movement is called Giving Tuesday. It is a day...

I have to admit that yet another snow fall warning made me cringe this morning. The thought of more shoveling and snowy roads made me want to pull the covers over my head and hibernate until May. But then my thoughts went to a recent Edmonton Journal article about a tourism campaign for Edmonton embracing the dark, cold winters. There is even a team creating a strategy to make Edmonton a World-Leading Winter City!

 

As I tweeted out a few days ago - When life gives you snow, make snowmen! Let's embrace this recent snowfall warning with the enthusiasm of a winter-lovin' Edmontonian, and let's...

National Child Day is coming up next week! It is held on Wednesday, November 20th and is a chance to honour our children and their rights as well as raise awareness of the marginalized children who live in our communities. National Child Day celebrates when Canada adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), spelling out the basic human rights for children and youth. If you would like to read the declaration click here.

 

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How can you get involved? On November 20, you can wear a blue ribbon in support of the day and most of all tell your friends, family and coworkers...

"Early childhood professionals who want to prevent conflicts often choose to simply forbid certain activities. Instead I encourage you to ask, "How can I make sure a positive experience happens?" rather than "Should I permit this experience at all?" Dan Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing The Classroom not the Child, wrote that profound statement. If you are an early childhood professional, parent, keeper of the children, or any of the sort, I encourage you to ponder this. Personally, everything about this is impactful, even the title of the book screams at me as our first question at ABC Head...

At ABC Head Start we have the best teachers in the world. Am I biased? Maybe, slightly...but seriously our staff give so much of themselves everyday to the children and families we support. It's not an easy job, but our dedicated employees wouldn't have it any other way. They thrive on the challenges and delight in the successes of the children and families. But even the best human services workers need a cheering section, a little reminder of why we do what we do. And who better to send that message than Kid President. Thank you, teachers, and by teachers I mean ALL ABC Head Start employees...

Here in Canada we are inundated with news from our neighbours to the south. Every time you turn around recently it seemed all we were hearing was about the government shutdown in the United States of America. Living in Canada it is hard to comprehend what impact it would have until you are experiencing it.

 

In the U.S.A, Head Start is a federally funded program. It started in 1965 as part of the "War On Poverty" led by the Johnson administration. The federal budget for Head Start in the United States is over $8 billion, which makes up the majority of the Head Start's budgets. Things are a bit...

Here at ABC Head Start, and in the entire learning community, we often debate what are the essential life skills, the areas of development we should be fostering in young children. I know I have blogged about it in the past and mentioned things like fostering curiosity and problem solving.

 

This week in an “Exchange EveryDay” email, I found a wonderful list I would like to share. First, I highly recommend you sign up for this free email – Exchange EveryDay. It is one of those daily emails I look forward to receiving and has valuable tips and the latest research and news for parents or anyone...

I'm sure most of you have a fond memory of reading, or being read to, as a child. Maybe it was your parents, your siblings or a favourite teacher. I am a spurt-reader (a term I just made up) meaning I read in spurts. Sometimes I read a lot, sometimes I don't pick up a book for months. Right now I am reading a lot. My Kobo even told me "I Eat Books For Lunch" - I think that may just mean I usually read around lunch time which is true on the weekends. There is no doubt about it, reading is so great for your brain! I absolutely notice a difference in my thinking and articulation when I am...

Since I am a reality show junkie, I tuned into a new show. It is a spin off of one of my favourites, called Junior MasterChef. I tuned in quite hesitantly because the thought of children competing on a reality show made my ethics kick up in the pit of my stomach. However it turned out to be quite endearing & entertaining. The children had cooking skills that far surpassed my own, with one child chopping at the speed of light with only his eyes and nose peering over the counter due to his height. They plated meals that looked like they came straight out of the Hardware Grill kitchen, and...

I graduated from my degree at Mount Royal University in 2004. The job market was pretty great. I can’t say I was particularly concerned about getting a job; in fact I had job offers before I had officially graduated. Not to say it wasn’t intimidating, with years spent in an academic bubble I had no idea how to navigate the corporate world. I remember being told, “With your degree you will just step right into management roles.” Not the case. Let’s face it, that doesn’t happen to very many people although for some reason I think new graduates are led to believe that.

 

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This week I had the...

Play. It is described as so many things; an activity for enjoyment, the work of a child, a voluntary and intrinsically motivated action. Once you start to study play you will learn there are many different types of play; parallel play, solitary play, cooperative play. It is a hot topic in the field of early learning and at ABC Head Start. You can often watch ABC Head Start staff observing the classroom and saying things like "Wow, look at them engage so beautifully in cooperative play!" Ok well maybe you hear that more in June, then in September but either way, we are obsessed with play. And...

fire
This week, a fellow non-profit agency experienced a great deal of hardship when fire destroyed one of their service centers. On Monday, a fire broke out at the Bissell Centre's sorting area of the Thrift Shoppe. The Thrift Shoppe is a social enterprise of Bissell Centre providing low income families and individuals a venue for purchasing high-quality products at very affordable prices. It is a critical service in our city.

 

In July, I decided to do something I had never done before...have a garage sale. This was no small feat as my basement was full of boxes from my recent move. My mother even...

I heard something on the radio this morning I could totally relate to. The morning show host was talking about how teachers returning to work after having two months off are like survivors of a northern BC plane crash. That for two months they have just been wandering around eating moss and berries, and they were rescued and expected to just go right back to work. After being off for that period of time it's true, you are are a little rusty.

 

I would argue ABC Head Start staff have one of the most demanding, challenging jobs in the world. Once those children and families walk through the door...

Come to the ABC Head Start administration office today and what do you see? Well you see a flurry of activity and a revolving door of staff members dropping off forms, files, and paper work. For our front line staff it is their last day of work, so you will also see a lot of hugs, lots of laughs and wishing well for the summer break. But what cannot go unnoticed this year is the fact that there are boxes...everywhere. Everywhere you look there is a stack of boxes here or there, in every corner of every room. The boxes are due to the fact that ABC Head Start's administration office is moving...

School shopping! That's what we always called it in my house. You know the shopping you do in August right before school starts to buy school supplies, a new backpack, new running shoes and new clothes for your first day of school. This was generally our great summer vacation. We would make the nearly 600 km trek from the picturesque scene of northern Alberta, holiday trailer in tow, to the great capital city of Edmonton. School supply list in hand, we were excited to get stocked up for another school year. And stock up we did because you didn't want to risk missing an item and have to settle...

As you faithful ABC Head Start blog fans would know, I usually publish this blog on Friday's. However this week I am fortunate to be able to attend the Vitalize Conference. The opening ceremonies are tonight and I will be in workshops all day tomorrow and taking in all the festivities in the evening. Follow ABC Head Start on Facebook and Twitter and I will share it with each and every one of you! Trust me, you'll feel like you are there.

 

Even though this week is jam packed with excitement I couldn't let this week go by without a blog post. Why you might ask? Because this weekend is Father's...

I have pretty bad vision. I have worn glasses or contacts since I was in grade 3 and remember vividly getting them. I accepted it even at a young age and this was my nonsensical logic; I look exactly like my mom - my mom has bad vision - I assumed it was my fate. Recently one of my nephews was told he needs glasses. He just turned 5 and during his vision test they discovered he is far sighted. He wasn't too happy about the fact he had to get glasses (as you can tell by the picture) because, "None of his friends have glasses!" But now that he has them he thinks they are alright, although he...

I had an interesting conversation with one of our ABC Head Start teachers, Margot Mighton, this week. She has been working on a project exploring communication delays in our Head Start children. As some of you may or may not know, many of the children at ABC Head Start come to us with a communication delay. But what was interesting in talking with Margot is she believes she is seeing a shift in the type of communication profile we are frequently seeing in children currently, and I would have to agree with her analysis.

 

Let me explain, and let me start by saying I am certainly NOT a qualified...

On Tuesday, May 21, Mayor Stephen Mandel announced he will not be seeking re-election and will be retiring from civic politics. Mayor Mandel has spent 12 years at city hall, has served 3 terms for a total of 9 years as Mayor of our great city.

 

On behalf of ABC Head Start I would like to reflect on his time as a courageous leader and champion of Edmonton. Mayor Mandel understood and represented ALL Edmontonians. He had a vested interest in making this city the best it could be for all citizens. He understood poverty and the struggles low-income families face every day and worked hard to break...

Today I have the pleasure of going a road trip with my 4-year-old 'niece.' I use quotes because she is my pretend niece, the niece I've never had if you will, since my siblings decided to have all boy children. She loves lipgloss, and dollies, and dress up, and Starbucks so we have a lot in common. I enjoy spending time with her but the longest road trip we have been on is maybe 30 minutes. So what will I do to keep this little one entertained? I can only stop at Starbucks so many times before our trip turns into a tour of gas station bathrooms.

 

roadtrip

 

It would be great if I had one of those fancy...

It is always amazing to me how much we change our perspectives as we age. Children have a unique outlook on life, there is no denying that. They are exploring and trying to make sense of their world. As adults we do this too, but with preconceived notions and judgments that tend to get in the way. Children are trusting and believe in the good in the world. They are looking to the adults in their life to confirm or deny their experiences. Honesty is one of my most favourite things about children.

 

Last night we texted a picture of our finished steps off our back deck. We are so proud of those...

*Trumpets sound* ATTENTION, ATTENTION EVERYONE! ABC HEAD START HAS OFFICIALLY BEEN TWITTERFIED!

 

twitter

 

That's right, we have joined Twitter! We promise to entertain you in 140 characters or less with clever use of hashtags.

 

So drop everything that you are doing (unless you are holding a child or a puppy) and log on to Twitter to follow us today - @abcheadstart. Not a member on the Twitter machine? It's so simple to join! You might as well sign up just to follow your favourite charity.

 

In case you haven't heard ;) ABC Head Start is nominated for a Yeggie in the category Best in Non-Profit for this...

Technology astounds me. I have this thought often. Just in my short life span there have been such incredible advances in technology. I vividly remember sitting next to a guy on a plane when I was 15 years old. I was flying back from a trip with my parents to visit my grandparents winter "home" (we drove them there in their motorhome which they lived in) in Quartzsite, Arizona. I naturally had homework to complete, so I brought out my grade nine science text book and started reading about scuba diving which was assigned to me. The gentlemen next to me, dressed in a nice suit interjected, "Have...

It is a major problem, hinging on a crisis, for non-profits. Rapidly escalating real estate costs and competition for space has resulted in a crisis of affordability and availability for Edmonton's non-profits. This is not just a made-in-Edmonton problem, it is effecting non-profit agencies around the globe. As real estate costs inflate the funding received stays the same or is cut. All you have to do is Google "non-profit space crisis" and you will see this is a problem faced in many municipalities, many of whom have formed committees, coalitions, and groups to try to address this crisis...

When I was younger my Mom used to break into spontaneous dance in the kitchen. Not wild club dancing, but she would grab you when you were walking by her and bust into a two-step, music playing or not. The gene must have been passed on to one of my nephews. When you are sitting around in their house he will spontaneously jump up from whatever he is doing and yell "DANCE PARTY!" Then he runs to the stereo, turns it to his favourite song at the time, and makes everyone in the house join in the dance party. No one is safe, including Grandpa, everyone HAS to dance.

 

I started making annual dance...

I am what professionals would label "a scaredy cat." And by professionals I mean my nephews. My nephews, all under 6 years of age, understand and know that I am scared of a lot of things. They think it's funny that they can face bigger water slides than me without breaking a sweat, or that they can squish a spider with their hand without screaming, they know they have me beat in lots of life's great arenas.

 

It was no surprise this past fall when my nephew once again faced his fears while his Auntie nervously sat on the side lines. I was at the 20th and final Scarecrow Festival in October with...

Spring break is on the horizon here at ABC Head Start. It starts next week when employees of ABC Head Start will kick up their feet for a week (and of course miss the children and families we have become so fond of.) For me, spring break starts tomorrow morning. I am flying off to a tropical destination and after this winter, I need it. Is it just me or has this winter seemed incredibly long and a bit miserable? I am not usually one to complain about the weather, after all I have no control over it, but this year has been rough! I feel like I've shoveled more snow than ever before. I have one...

I kicked off my week on Monday at a Chamber of Commerce event where the Mayor's declaration naming this week Not-For-Profit week in the City of Edmonton was announced. Did you know there are over 165 000 not-for-profit organizations in Canada?? And 8000 in the Edmonton region alone!

 

I have worked for a not-for-profit almost all of my working days since I was 14 years old. With the exception of three jobs: one at a movie rental place in my hometown when I was 16, the famed Movietown (which was really more of a social convenience than a job, sorry Mr. & Mrs. Stone.) And I was a server for...

Are you thinking of starting a new business? Maybe you should open a doggy daycare. Apparently, not unlike daycare or preschool for children, doggy daycare is a competitive market. I started looking for one this week for my dog, who with age can no longer stay home for a full working day without having an accident. I have called a few places, asked others about their experiences and I was quite surprised with the application processes. Almost all of them would like you to come in for a meet and greet session where the dogs are assessed for their personalities, how they get along with people...

Have I ever told you about my Mom's buns? She makes the most delicious, light and fluffy buns you will ever taste. What did you think I was talking about? ;) People taste them and they immediately ask for the recipe. Except that when they try to replicate them it cannot be done. My mom has been perfecting the recipe and process for YEARS you can't just get the recipe and expect to produce the same delicious goodness. My Mom's buns are a coveted item at every famiy gathering. Before one large family celebration my Mom spent days and days making buns for the event. She made what was the...

I have been writing allllll week. Writing funding proposals to keep the great work that we do at ABC Head Start going! Therefore I have no words left...plus words are starting to look foreign and weird and like I'm typing in a different language. A writer in this condition will probably not produce the best blog post.

 

I pondered who best to pass the torch to this week to tell a story and I decided - children.

 

So here you have it: The Secret To Happiness! Happy Friday friends!

 

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This week I have been busy planning Valentine's Day for my sweetie. We are trying to decide if we will celebrate it on February 14, or on February 15, as our schedules are not exactly matching up. I have now suggested we do both. Why not have twice the amount of Valentine's celebration? A mini Valentines Day on February 14, like Valentine's Day Eve and then our Valentine's Day will be February 15. And we might as well not stop there, we would be remiss to not celebrate Valentine's Boxing Day on February 16.

 

I was chatting with one of my dear friends who has two little girls. She was telling me...

I have recently been spending a significant amount of time with my friend "Netflix." I get borderline obsessed with the documentary category and can't get enough of all the interesting topics creative people decide to explore. There are documentaries about EVERYTHING! Most of them fascinate me, some of them I stop watching after 15 minutes and think "TOOO BORING!"

 

In the midst of my documentary addiction I was listening to my favourite radio morning show, The Garner Andrew's Show on Sonic 102.9 and they were talking about the best rock documentaries. Rock as in rock and roll music...not the...

This is an exciting time for ABC Head Start. We are heading into a new strategic plan. WAIT...did I just lose you all?? COME BACK! Strategic planning can be exciting and awesome it just has a really boring and stuffy name. Planning for the future and setting goals is rewarding and it's fun to dream about where we want our agency to go in the next few years. It brings new energy as we decide our directions and tasks.

 

One of our priorities moving into the very near future of ABC Head Start is creating a sustainable fund development plan. For those of you in the non-profit world you'll know how...

This winter break I had the opportunity to spend time with my family. One afternoon, sitting at the kitchen table my nephew said to me "Auntie, would you like a coffee??" He has this new love of using the Keurig coffee machine and he also really likes to entertain and throw any type of party he can think of.

 

"Sure!" I said, "That would be nice. What kind of coffees do you have?"

 

"Well come look, there are lots of different kinds," he replied.

 

"What kind of restaurant is this!?" I yelled and slammed my fist on the table. "Don't you have a menu or something?!"

 

A huge smile spread across my...

Do you ever get thinking about how things work, where things come from? I do. Usually it happens when I have a moment to relax much to the chagrin of my significant other. The other night, we finally had a moment to relax. My significant - other nodding off eyes closed beside me. Me - Wide eyed and wondering.

 

Me - "Where does quinoa come from? Like is it a grain? Does it grow like rice? How does rice even grow? Like does it grow under water at the bottom of a grass-like-thing or does it grow on top like wheat and barley? Is quinoa even a grain? I just realized I have no idea what I'm eating...

The holidays are fast approaching and if you work at ABC Head Start after this week you don't return to work until January 8. And if you work at ABC Head Start you feel like you blinked and all of a sudden it was December. In some ways it feels like September was just yesterday and we were meeting the new group of children and families. I always tell new staff the years go by FAST. I don't think they believe me until winter break hits, then spring break, then summer and BAM - year done.

 

During this winter break I hope to get to see at least 50% of my nephews. My nephews are ages 6, 5, 4 and...

Have you ever cooked a turkey? It's ok, you can come clean. One of my colleagues said her mom makes the turkey on holidays. She's getting her mom to teach her daughters so the turkey cooking duties will skip a generation and she will be able to avoid it for her lifetime. Clever, I must say. I have never cooked a turkey. I have cooked a chicken...same thing right? I will be cooking one this Christmas, actually I will be cooking the whole Christmas meal. I'm sure it won't taste exactly like my Mom's famous Christmas dinner but I have all day to get it right. And if I mess things up I'll use my...

The Oil Kings 6th annual Dodge Teddy Bear Toss presented by Global Edmonton and Shaw TV is set for this Friday, December 7th against the Calgary Hitmen. The event works like this; when the Oil Kings score their first goal fans get to throw teddy bears on the ice with all these furry friends being donated to Santas Anonymous. Last year a record 8000 bears were donated, they are hoping to beat their record this Friday. It is an amazing thing to watch that much generosity fill the rink.

 

Years ago when I was living in our rival city, I was given tickets to the teddy bear toss. Well actually my...

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Warning: This blog is heavily concentrated with the word 'awesome.'

 

Last night, something awesome happened in a trendy little coffee shop downtown Edmonton. I arrived at The Roast Coffeehouse greeted by an army of Edmonton philanthropists wearing pink shirts that read "I'M WITH AWESOME." This was my first time attending a "pitch party" and I didn't know what to expect. The atmosphere was fun and full of excitement, the coffeehouse filled with hopes to hear how people planned to make Edmonton more awesome.

 

The event was held by the Edmonton Awesome Foundation. The Foundation is made up of a...

For close to 18 years I lived in the same house. My parents bought the farm I grew up on when they were 19 years old. For me and my two siblings it is the place we grew up and have always lived until we moved out on our own. My brother and his wife and two boys now live in that house. And although they've done some renovations it still feels like the house I grew up in. If you look closely at the ceiling in what is now the toy room which was once our living room, you can see a dent. That is from my brother shooting an arrow into the ceiling when he was about 10 years old (I swear we had...

My Grandma Anne was one of the greatest seamstresses I had ever met. She would sit down at her sewing machine, pedal her foot like crazy and come out with some of the greatest creations. Somehow this gene skipped me. I can't sew. I mean, I really really can't sew. I attempted to sew a button back on a shirt once, I honestly COULD NOT do it! My mom is probably rolling her eyes while reading this and sighing, "Come on you can sew a button back on." No Mom, I can't.

 

When I was about 4 years old, my Grandma made me a blanket. Disclaimer: Not only can I not sew, I have no knowledge of the sewing...

 

I was surfing around good ol' Facebook when I came across something interesting. The Agenda with Steve Painkin shared the image seen here and commented: We want to know: What does poverty look like in your community? I studied the chart, looking through the details several times. Working with families living in poverty for the past 7 years I can't say this was particularly surprising.

 

"Poverty affects 3 million Canadians, 1 in 5 of those being children."

 

Before I started working at ABC Head Start I don't think I really realized the impact of poverty in the community. I also didn't realize how...

I was visiting one of the ABC Head Start classrooms yesterday. Although most ABC Head Start classrooms have a high number of children who are learning English, this classroom has more than the average. I walked up to the "house" centre and peaked my head through the little window. "Hello!" I said, "Can I have some chia?" The little girls in the house all looked at each other and smiled, one shrugged. I said, "Can I have lunch?" Trying again hoping to get a verbal reply. Nothing, just smiles.

 

Then one of the girls handed me a frying pan full of fake vegetables. I took it from her and when I did...

Halloween is in ONE WEEK! And if you are like me you have nothing ready. But I'm sure you are not like me and are far more organized and certainly don't procrastinate as much. Yesterday I was poking around the good ol' internet looking for some interesting Halloween ideas. Nothing too complex or complicated, just some things to make the day a bit more fun.

 

Here is a list of my favourite Halloween ideas for this year:

 

1. The first one came from my Mom. One thing you must know about my Mom is that she is a festive freak! She loves to decorate for holidays most people don't even know exist. God...

My sister recently came for a visit with her two children. Her oldest is five and her youngest three years old. The three-year old is fascinated with three things right now: superheros, letters and numbers. After he dons his favourite superhero costume (this weekend Hulk was the stand by, complete with puffy muscles), he likes to get on the iPad and play letter/number games (seems like a natural superhero activity.) I got so much joy out of watching his excitement. He would jam his little Hulk finger onto the I and yell "I! I FOR EYES CEEEEEEEM!!!" That's three-year old speak for Ice Cream. He...

 

This weekend is the finale of the Scarecrow Festival. For 20 years the Scarecrow Festival has been supporting ABC Head Start. To put on a festival of this size it takes countless hours and most of all countless volunteers. The festival is organized by a committee of volunteers who work year round to make the festival a success. The amount of hours the committee puts in during the year is truly unbelievable.

 

I spoke with our Community Coordinator, Ann Babb, who estimated there have been nearly 20 000 volunteers in the lifetime of the Scarecrow Festival. Many of these volunteers come back year...

The wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving is this weekend. Well it is if you live in the land of the true north strong and free, or as my Australian friend likes to call Canada (insert loud booming announcer voice here) "THE LAND OF GIANT SHOPPING MALLS," OK maybe that's more specific to Edmonton. I digress; THANKSGIVING! My favourite holiday! A time to share good food and gratitude with friends and family. And that's all that is expected! No gifts to worry about, or extras, just a good meal and a chance to reflect and say, "We are pretty lucky aren't we?"

 

I hope everyone gets a chance to do that...

Recently, Alberta lost a very impactful leader. Peter Lougheed led the Progressive Conservative Party to victory in 1971, ending the 36 year reign of the Social Credit Party. Lougheed became one of the most influential leaders in Alberta's history with legacies such as The Heritage Trust Fund and the development of oil and gas in this province. I had the great fortune of sitting with one of Edmonton's greatest volunteers at a luncheon yesterday. He spoke about work he had done with Mr. Lougheed. He described him as a compassionate but tough leader who everyone admired. He said with a smile...

It was a beautiful, warm, sunshiny day in June. I was out on the playground with one of the ABC Head Start classes. The teachers and I were chatting about our upcoming fundraiser gala, called Magic and Masquerade taking place on October 12, 2012. One ABC Head Start employee has been volunteering for the Scarecrow Festival Steering Committee. The Scarecrow Festival is heading into its 20th and final year. This steering committee puts in countless volunteer hours to make the festival and the gala a success.

 

We started chatting about donations for the silent auction and raffle at the Magic and...

ABC Head Start staff are all prepared for another year of Early Learning. The children and families first day is tomorrow. It is always an exciting time to meet the new families we will have the pleasure of working with for the school year and meet the children as they have their first educational experience.

 

Earlier in the week I called my Mom to see what my first day of preschool was like. Not surprisingly it didn't exactly go smoothly. First of all my parents describe me as a "difficult" or "strong-willed" child (but they are very careful never to call me their problem child although I know...

If you have ever been in a ABC Head Start classroom you will know the day usually ends by singing a "goodbye song." What I love about these songs is they are different in each classroom. It's kind of like a teacher's trademark. This week is our final week at ABC Head Start and there has certainly been many goodbyes. We are saying goodbye to staff who are moving on to other opportunities, having babies, moving away and a few who are retiring. So with a mixture of sadness and joy we wish these colleagues luck in their new endeavours.

 

The goodbye we say every single year, which never seems to get...

Here at ABC Head Start it is our last full week of classes for the children, next week is the last week for staff. As we wind down and say our goodbye's the question we find ourselves asking each other is, "Are you doing anything exciting for the summer?" Ahhh summer vacation! And the employees at ABC Head Start are lucky enough to have July and August OFF! And of course all you parents know this means your children will be home ALL SUMMER LONG too.

 

As a child I remember how exciting it was to burst through the doors on the last day of school and let the summer begin! We were not a family who...

Throughout my life my dad was critical in providing life lessons and words of wisdom. I think this was something he inherited from his father, who also imparted words of wisdom on a regular basis. Most of my dad's advice was around driving, maintenance of vehicles and money - all of which I still need reminding. The wonderful qualities I inherited from my father were not from his words of advice, most were from him just being the man that he is. My dad taught me about hard work and integrity, two qualities that have got me a long way in life and everyday I am grateful for this.

 

But one phrase...

Here's an interesting factoid about me; I am terrible at math. The interesting thing about this is at one point in my life math was my strongest subject. Then in grade 9 I took this downward math spiral and never quite recovered. I blame it on that fact that I was good at math, that I become really bad at math. Let me explain...in 8th grade my math teacher recognized my "math talent" and so in 9th grade "they" (whoever they is) decided there would be an advanced math group. This may be hard for people who know me now to believe but I WAS PUT IN THAT GROUP!

 

The grade 9 "Advanced Math Group...

 

I was in traffic yesterday following a mini-van with a bumper sticker that read "Remember who you wanted to be." Now normally I would not endorse bumper stickers but this one actually made me think. Back when I was 3 or 4 years old and people asked me the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" My family likes to remind me that I would respond by saying, "A BIRD!" I like to remind my family that if I was 3 or 4 years old then they were the ones responsible for my delusional thinking.

 

At ABC Head Start staff are preparing for the end of the school year. Some teams like to...

At ABC Head Start we have employees who have been with the agency from the very beginning (or nearly the very beginning.) This week something very special happened for two of those employees. As they were working away in the classroom there was a knock at the door. They recognized the woman right away, she was a past parent of ABC Head Start. Beside her was a young man dressed in a tuxedo. They introduced themselves and instantly the two teachers remembered them.

 

The young man was a past ABC Head Start child. He was graduating from high school, and this was his graduation day. He and his...

Recently I received this email from a colleague regarding an upcoming presentation we are making to staff:
Colleague - "...I need to review and think through my presentation notes – and you and I will need to decide who is doing what. How do you want to figure that out?"
Me - "I thought I would mostly be your hype girl…like stand beside you and cheer you on…but I could probably do more than that."

 

Now if you are unfamiliar with the term hype girl click here for a quick tutorial. My sister lovingly refers to me as her hype girl. I like the term because I enjoy being people's cheerleaders. Again...

Mother's Day is just around the corner! I knew I wanted to dedicate this blog post to all of the wonderful mom's out there, but also wanted to capture the essence of ABC Head Start. Here at ABC Head Start we pride ourselves in being an agency who solicits feedback. We like to find ways to involve staff, volunteers, parents, partners and other stakeholders in decision-making. We value all of these opinions in making ABC Head Start the amazing program it is!

 

Recently, as in tonight because I am terrible with deadlines, in the true spirit of ABC Head Start I decided to poll my friends and...

 

Today is a very special day. It may be the best day of my Mom and Dad's life. For 29 years ago their favourite child was born - ME! I'm sure they would agree on all points. I'm sure my siblings know the truth and would agree also. I still get excited about my birthday! I am excited to spend time with friends and I am always excited about a reason to celebrate anything. I just like to celebrate really.

 

Something very interesting shifted for me this year which has caused me even more joy. I was cleaning, (which I have been doing slowly for the past three days to get ready for my birthday guests...

Music makes me very happy. At this time of the year I get excited for concert announcements, summer music festivals and outdoor shows. Music has always played a big role in my life. From piano lessons to voice lessons, to band, to musical theatre; my childhood and youth was full of music. Whenever music left my life for a period of time it would always return to me. When I attended University I sang in a rock band. Most recently I have worked as a karaoke host, all in attempts to keep music in my life. My Grandpa's voice echos in my head "Have you been singin'?" was always the first question...

The Canadian Government announced a couple of weeks ago they are eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system. In about six months the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing the pretty little copper coins. In the fall, businesses will be asked to return pennies to the nearest financial institution where they will be cremated and their little lives will be celebrated (melted down and the metal content recycled.)

 

How many pennies are in circulation you ask? Well according to Alex Reeves of the Royal Canadian Mint, "given the extent of hoarding that has occurred for many years, it is...

I was visiting one of our classrooms yesterday, sitting at the snack table with the children when a little girl who is learning english said to me in a very thick accent, "Miss Christi, it is spring."

 

"Yes it is spring!" I replied, "I LOVE spring!"

 

"What do you like about spring?" One of the teachers asked (modeling appropriate question asking).

 

 

"I like that it is getting warmer outside and I love seeing all the baby animals that are born in the spring." As mentioned before I live outside of the city and every morning I get to drive in and look at all the baby's clinging to their mother's side...

A tragic event happened in my life recently. The Executive Director of ABC Head Start, Kathy Lenihan, announced she will be retiring at the end of August 2012. You may think describing this as tragic is a little dramatic, but unless you work at ABC Head Start it is hard to truly understand the impact this could have. I'm sure every loved one and close friend that called me the week of the announcement thought I was crazy because I got emotional every time I talked about it. One friend even said, "Your boss is retiring?? Why are you crying about this??"

 

I hope everyone has had the opportunity...

A few years ago, my grandparents moved from their farm to a care facility because of my grandmother's health concerns. It was at that time my Mom and Aunts, while cleaning out the house,found the story of my grandparent's lives written by my grandmother. She had written it out 3 times so that each of her sons could have a copy in her hand writing. This was a tremendous, invaluable blessing as my grandmother is in the last stage of Alzheimer's and my grandfather passed away in December. To have a record of their lives from their point of view is priceless.

 

 

In part of my grandmother's writing...

I have a very dear friend named Chantal, who is one of the most intelligent, kind and caring people I know. I can feel her cringing right now because she knows now is when I begin to tell a funny or somewhat embarrassing story about her. But before I do that I just want to reiterate how intelligent Chantal is, she works as a medical professional, has a Master's degree = she's SMART.

 

Despite Chantal's intelligence, she has a major hard time with colloquialisms. Chantal would try to use them in her everyday language which would usually end up in a laughing fit from me as 99% of the time they...

HAPPY NATIONAL POSITIVE THINKING DAY!!! Ok, National Positive Thinking Day is really September 13th, but I would like to declare it TODAY. Do I really have the authority to do such a thing, sadly no, but I just wanted to get your attention. Think of this as a warm-up of sorts to the actual day. Now to kick off ABC Head Start's Positive Thinking Day please take 50 seconds and watch the video below...

 

 

Wouldn't it be great to start every day like Jessica??

 

If you didn't start your day like this, then go ahead and start your weekend like this! And might as well share this so everyone you know can...

Last night I was checking my online social networks and noticed some reposting of a video called 'Kony 2012.' I never watched it and I never thought much of it. This morning checking said social networks, said video had spread like wild-fire. Even one of the media outlets I follow had taken notice and posted the video. I was intrigued and had to watch what exactly had caused so many people to feel compelled to share.

 

I watched the video and thought it was powerful. Truth be told I shed a few tears because the injustices spoke of reminded me of stories and realities of some of the families...

Did you miss me? I didn't post a blog last week. It was the first week I have missed since I started blogging for ABC Head Start. The truth is, it was a short, very busy, overwhelming week and once Friday rolled around I realized I had a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to get it all done. I know the importance of the blog and keeping in regular contact with YOU, the reader, but I'm sure you have had weeks like that too. You are an understanding bunch!

 

I was reflecting on this inability to get a blog published at 6:07am, 23 minutes before my alarm is to go off. As an aside this happens...

I am a person who follows current events. I like to know what's going on in the world. However there are some events that I just do not have time to really understand. I'd like to know more about them, I don't have the time to research them, and I don't know anyone close enough to me to shed light on it for me. This is how I felt about Occupy Wall Street. I understood the basic premise but did not have any depth or details, therefore I did not have an opinion one way or another.

 

A few weeks ago I had the great fortune of listening to Michael Stone speak. The lecture was called "Yoga for an...

My favourite thing about grocery shopping is people watching. I was in the breakfast aisle contemplating which granola bars to purchase when I noticed what I presume was a father with his two young girls getting groceries. I also presume grocery shopping isn't a regular duty of this father who appeared quite overwhelmed by the task at hand. He was clutching a list in one hand and the cart in the other. He would look down at the list with a puzzled look on his face then look back at the items on the shelf with an EVEN MORE puzzled look on his face. His daughters were maybe 4 years old and...

Here's a tid bit of information about me, outside of working at ABC Head Start I am also a Yoga Teacher. Last night I rolled my mat out to do my regular home practice. I usually start my practice by lying down on my mat in a process we Yogi's and Yogini's call centering. Basically focusing our minds on the practice that lies ahead. Well I felt particularly tired and thought I would fall asleep if I laid down. I decided to center sitting instead.

 

So there I was on the middle of my mat, sitting in a cross-legged pose, eyes closed. I settled in to the pose and started to bring my attention to my...

Friends and family members of people who work at not-for-profits must want to screen their calls. The phone calls usually start out something like “Hey, what are you doing next weekend?” Or “Hey, are you busy next Wednesday?” Followed by, “Will you dress up as Santa Claus?” Or “Can you move some furniture for us?” Or “Can you come volunteer for a few hours?”

 

But it never fails whenever I ask my friends or family to volunteer on behalf of ABC Head Start they always say yes. I’ve roped many people into volunteering for many different things including, but definitely not limited to, ABC Head...

What is more Canadian than pond hockey??? The answer = absolutely nothing. Alright of course this is a debatable subject, there's the maple leaf, the toque, the CANADIAN goose (wait unless that goose is called something else in other parts of the world...hmmm???) But hockey is pretty darn Canadian. It is the unofficial official national sport. I bet people in other parts of the world would think you were joking if you said that hockey isn't actually the official national sport of Canada.

 

Once I was in New York on a boat touring around Manhattan. I was sitting by this lovely couple from New...

Today is my first day back at work since December 23, 2011 - that's right my first day back since LAST YEAR! It is the first day back for all staff as this is the schedule we work on (I can hear the collective groans.) We have a two week break in the winter, a week in the spring, and two months (or for our Leadership team 6 weeks) in the summer. I'm not going to lie it's pretty awesome! It adds to the beauty of the job I already love.

 

This was a great winter break. Because of Christmas being on a Sunday, we worked right up until December 23 which meant BOOM the next day was Christmas Eve. Once...

Joy

Christmas Eve is tomorrow!!! (insert Jaw's theme music here.) Sorry I had to be one of those people who reminds you of tight timelines. This year I will be spending Christmas WAYYYYY up in Northern Alberta with my family. My sister's family will be absent, which means we will all get to sleep past 8:00am.

 

Let me tell you about my Christmas mornings as a child. My sister is an early riser and can function on very little sleep. My Mom is kind of like this too but my Mom only does this when she has to, my sister seems to thrive on it. From as early as I can remember there was one Christmas...

When I was a child, my parents used to spoon on the couch when we would watch TV as a family. Actually to this very day my parents spoon on the couch when they watch TV (awwwww...) The crook of their legs was the most sought after spot in the whole house. In our house we called that spot THE SANDBOX. As soon as my parents would even look like they were heading towards the couch one of us would yell "I get the sandbox!" It was warm and cozy and the best place to sit to watch TV. And then to make it all a bit sweeter, a large blanket would be thrown over all of us. What a great place to be as a...

Bruce Perry. When people in the early learning field hear that name it stimulates great conversation. If you don't know who Dr. Bruce Perry is you should google him and then purchase every book he has ever written. He is pretty much one of my hero's and one of the most fascinating people I have ever heard speak. He is a rock star in our field, and I can't help but be nervous around this child brain development rock star. One time after watching him speak he was doing a book signing. I was having my book signed and he asked me for directions to the airport. I clearly know where the airport is...

I have four nephews, ages 5, 4, 3 and 2. They are crazy about superheroes!!! Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Green Lantern, Black Vulcan (YES Black Vulcan??? That is the curve ball superhero thrown at us by the 2-year-old, his favourite.) Just when I had all the Thomas the Train's memorized we switch to superheroes, it's hard for this Auntie to keep up!!

 

 

When I talk with my sister on the phone in the background the boys are always singing superhero theme songs (like ALWAYS, as in ALL OF THE TIME.) It's no wonder that my sister begins speaking in superhero talk, it's like subliminal messaging...

You know that glorious feeling when you're lying in bed and you are juuuust about asleep? You feel weightless, your mind is shut off and eyes closed, about to drift off into dream land. Well that's exactly where I was the other night when my cell phone rang. First of all no one calls my cell phone past 8:00pm. It startled me! I have ailing grandparents and my mind always jumps to them when I am not expecting a call at an odd hour. I glance at my phone and it is my brother calling. Now I really am fearing the worst!

 

 

So I answer the phone with a quiver in my voice "Hello?"

 

Of course my brother...

 

Do you remember what your teachers said about you when you were young? My report cards always went something like this: "Christi is bright and creative but needs to stop visiting so much with her peers." They knew me well! And I have to say I haven't changed much. Sure, visiting with my peers may not have been an endearing quality to my teachers because I was usually talking when I should have been listening. However my social skills helped me get where I am today. I just needed to be taught the appropriate times to be the social butterfly.

 

At ABC Head Start, now is the time of year where our...

It was a while back when this realization came to me...I was preparing a plate of fruit for some friends. When I brought the plate of fruit out one of my friends picked up a piece of honeydew melon and said "Oh, you grew up in one of those homes." You see I had cut the honeydew in slices and then cut little slits all along so you can fan the honeydew out, making it easier and less messy to eat. That way, honeydew juice doesn't get all over your face. IT JUST MAKES GOOD SENSE! True it took me about an hour to cut up a honeydew melon but I really didn't know how to cut it any other way!

 

YES I...

I am terrified of going to the dentist. I'm sorry all you dentists out there I'm sure you are fine in your personal life but I'm not your biggest fan in your professional life. I blame this fear on my mother (sorry mom.) I can almost hear my mom sigh in a "here we go again..." type sigh. Well this is the thing, when I was a child we went to this dentist in her home. Yes, in her home red flag! I grew up in sort of a remote area in Northern Alberta and there were always periods of time when there was no dentist in our town. I don't remember the specifics of why we were going to this dentist's...

As a Supervisor at ABC Head Start one of my responsibilities is to make weekly visits to the sites that I supervise. That means I get to connect with the staff, the families and the children. I love this part of my job because it always reminds me why I do what I do.

 

Recently out at a visit I was sitting on the floor playing with a little boy and he said to me “Miss Christi, are you my friend?” I replied, “Of course I’m your friend! Are you my friend?” He responded with a huge smile “YES, because I really like you!” (Heart melts on the spot.) “Aw that is very friendly,” I replied “It’s nice to...

 

 

I have been battling what one staff person at ABC Head Start has termed “THE PLAGUE.” I seriously cannot remember when a virus has knocked me out the way this one has. I have currently been sick for 12 days! I feel like a cold/flu remedy commercial; sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever.

 

One symptom I developed which is not on the list happens to be in my mind the worst….ready…(cue impending doom music)…I lost my voice. For those of you that know me know this is TORTURE! I always have something to say and, realize now, I love to talk! (My coworkers are thinking ‘You just...

gretzky - horizontal

 

And the winner of the Good Neighbour Award is...(drum roll)...ABC HEAD START!!

 

That's right, ABC Head Start will be the recipient of the Good Neighbour Award at the November 30 Oilers game (applause, cheers, woot woots.) This is perfect because I have been practicing my acceptance speech for YEARS! I have rehearsed many o' acceptance speeches in the shower, when I'm cleaning my house, in my car, pretty much any time when I can really get into it. Usually I was accepting Grammies, Academy Awards or Tony Awards but I could probably tweak it to make it more relevant.

 

Actually I will not be...

 

We have a flow chart guy at ABC Head Start. If you look hard enough there is probably one at every work place. Although I won't identify him by name he happens to be the only guy that works at ABC Head Start therefore I probably just identified him. It's ok, he knows he's the flow chart guy. We tease him all the time about putting things in a chart, graph, or some other visual, with lots of arrows going multiple ways. The problem is for some people this really works but I see a flow chart and it's like my brain shuts off and all I can think is 'uh...I don't get it.' Then the flow chart guy...

Have you ever wanted to shout something from a mountain top? Well I do! But I don't have a mountain top so I will just use this blog - ABC HEAD START IS A GREAT PLACE TO WORK! Phew, I feel much better. I think about it almost every day, how lucky I am to work for such a great agency. I'm not just saying this because I know my Executive Director reads this blog, no I just think everyone needs to know. I've never been comfortable with harbouring such important information, I like to share!

 

So I got thinking about WHY I love this place so much and WHAT is it that makes me feel this way. Is it...

 

I was driving home yesterday from work. It is a long drive because I live in the sticks prettiest little village outside of Edmonton. And as I drove sprinkles started to hit my windshield. And then (cringe) the sprinkles started to resemble snowflakes. And BAM my denial of winter smacked me straight in the face as if to say "You silly little Alberta girl did you really think I wasn't coming back?" No. But a girl can dream can't she?

 

This realization got me thinking about how terrible most of us are at preparing for winter. Come on admit it. You call the tire shop to get winter tires put on...

Henry Ford said "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said 'a faster horse.'" Non-profits, particularly in Edmonton, do great work! They strive to find better ways to reach people, to make a person's experience better and more enjoyable. We evaluate, evaluate, evaluate and look at outcomes, responses, and what does it all mean?? (DRUM ROLL PLEASE.) Well hopefully we come up with a better product, a better service and a better way of doing things. Generally we evaluate by asking the people we are already serving (BOOMING RADIO MAN VOICE) "How can we serve you better?" And the...

Every dollar matters. By supporting ABC Head Start you will give children the skills they need to be successful in their educational journey and support families to transition out of poverty, become healthy and self-reliant. Donate to ABC Head Start today and start making a difference in the lives of children, families and our communities.

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