After getting married at the end of 2014, and having experienced what I thought to be the most EPIC year to date, I had trouble believing that anything else would compare... Quite honestly, nothing could have ever prepared me for all of the surprises that 2015 had in store and this is why I trust that the best is yet to be!
I am writing this blog post today with a heart that is full and in many ways wondering how did I become so lucky?
Reflecting on years past is a wonderful exercise, that I encourage you all to try. It always gives me the chance to show appreciation for all that was, and all that is possible in 356 days!
Creating a collage to represent this year's memories was challenging for me, as I could not squeeze all of the top moments into a single frame...
Below you will find some of the highlights that I am so thankful for, and which many of you may have heard about if you are following along my daily Instagram journey. I chose two lists, rather than a top ten or fifteen this year. My 2015 moments and accomplishments cannot be ranked, for they have all been very valuable in shaping me into the person that I am today.
- Continued to learn and experiment with new ideas in my role as librarian, kindergarten and art coverage teacher for the York Region District School Board. Using my iPhone and synching it with my laptop's iPhoto program, I was able to refine my documentation methods and print before the end of each day. I was most proud of two projects: A collaboration of kindergarten and grade 5 students on a stained glass window study and a senior kindergarten and grade one study on families that integrated social studies, literacy, health, and the arts.
- Focused on my PhD studies and am happy to announce that I have a course and a half left until I can begin to draft my research proposal. The thought of a dissertation scares me, however, I am very fortunate to have a supportive supervisor who I know will help me to see it through. It was very encouraging for me to learn that she had two children while she studied at the graduate level, and later become a full-time professor.
- Taught a combined course for York University for teachers and early childhood educators interested in having the Kindergarten Part 1, 2, and Specialist additional qualifications.
- The blog turned 4 and is at nearly 2 million views!!! There are a couple collaborations that stand out in 2015, and they include a video interview with colleagues Penny Lam of Thirtheethlook and Royan Lee of SpicyLearning, as well as the formation of a blog squad also known as #4EverInspired with Trista Dutt, Vanessa Bianchi, and Jocelyn Schmidt. It was also a very pleasant surprise to have the blog referenced in two books: Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood and Reggio-Inpsired Mathematics.
- Loved forming a community on Instgram and partnering with companies such as Louise Kool and Galt, Saunders Books, Permabound Books, Magic Suitcase Books, Crayola, SandsAlive, Ikea, Wal-Mart, and LoLo Floral for many free giveaways!
- Connected with educators through my network #CTInquiry in person and via Twitterchats, as well as learned from exemplary classrooms with school visits to Havergal College, Seneca Lab School, and the Toronto Waldorf School (to name a few) which have contributed to my developing understandings of early childhood education.
- TransformEd Consulting Services provided many workshops on a wide variety of topics throughout Canada. Some sessions to note, Toronto's biggest educational conference Reading for the Love of It, presentations in Ottawa, Niagara, Edmonton, Ministry of Education St. John's, Mississauga, Whitby, Burlington, University of Toronto, Haliburton, and workshops each season at St. George's Golf and Country Club.
- Finalized the new home of TransformEd within my Creative Studio Office Space. Met with Kevin O'Leary and began to plan the future directions of my business.
- Studied in Reggio Emilia, Italy for a week long course to learn from the Italian educators of the world-renowned early childhood approach. Visited the famous Diana School to see the children in action!
- Spent my husband's milestone birthday in Paris as part of our honeymoon. We attended a French Masquerade to ring in 2015 and enjoyed our first day of the new year at Disneyland.
- Celebrated our one year wedding anniversary and received the greatest gift of becoming future parents. Baby Vergis is due any day now!
- Bought and moved into our first home. Created my dream office space that resembles more of an art shop! A place where I get lost in DIY projects, photography, interesting reads, the world of social media, and my dreams for the future.
- Witnessed both of our siblings get married in July. My brother was first, followed by a family trip to Greece for my sister in-law's big day. We are excited that a few months after our baby is born they will have a cousin following in their tiny footsteps!
My year in review makes me realize that many of these memories could have been entire blog posts with photographs that I have collected without having had the chance to share them. Perhaps in the New Year I can devote a couple of Fridays to flash back to some of these incredible opportunities that might inspire your life's journey...
Until then, I will wait patiently for our little one to arrive with the great anticipation of becoming a mom for the first time!
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!
May we slow down to appreciate our many blessings and have hope for all of the miracles of tomorrow...
Joanne Marie Babalis
All our dreams can come true,
if we have the courage to pursue them.