Thirty and Thankful

First of all, a big happy birthday to my marvelous momma Brennie the Babe!

Brennie the Babe

I apologize for the pixelated mess that is this picture but I feel like this picture appropriately captures my mother‘s spirit.  Yes, we were born a mere day apart. I’m sure she wanted to make it a same day event but considering she had already been in labour with me for 16 hours, she probably couldn’t hold out another 11 hours. It’s OK mom, I forgive you. I won’t reveal her age because she doesn’t look it, so I will leave it up to you to guess. I love my Brennie very much and I hope she has a beautiful day being the beautiful creature that she is.

Not only is it her day of birth but this post would not be complete without talking about my mom because when I reflect on what I’m thankful for in my life, my mom and my family are a huge piece of the gratefulness pie. I haven’t blogged in a while and I didn’t have a lot of desire to do so until a couple of things happened. One, I have not been feeling so hot these days with my pregnancy. Physically I’m a disaster and still have 10 weeks to go. Two, for some reason I’ve found myself doing a lot of ‘Facebook comparison creeping’ lately. Both of these things have resulted in me being a little down. However, after having a fabulous birthday dinner with all of my friends and reading these amazing and kind words by my buddy Evanoff (which also depict my birthday festivities), I realized I really needed to snap out of it because I have nothing to be down about. Interestingly enough, while I thought about writing this post, the episode of Friends is on where Rachel turns 30. They do a flashback to all of the ridiculous things that the friends did while turning 30. I came to the conclusion that a) they look like they’re 40, not 30 and b) I’m much happier with the state of my life than any of theirs and they’re on TV! So, I must be doing something right.

I’m going to make a little list and if it bores you, please stop reading and start reflecting on all of the things you are thankful for 🙂

1) As mentioned above, my family is numero uno. My mom and dad are still a big part of my life and they are both healthy and young at heart. My mom has always been one of my best friends and she still is. I’m grateful that this relationship has remained stable throughout my life and it did not suffer the ups and downs that usually come with being a teenager. I can only hope the same will happen with me and my babe as time progresses. Speaking of babes, I’m also grateful for my sister. Even though we are six years apart, we get along famously. We have the exact same sense of humour and I think we bring out the best in each other:

Melon and I #2 Melon and I

I am proud of my tiny dancer and am really enjoying the changes that have happened with her over the last year or so. She surprises me everyday, particularly in regards to how good she was with that rifle.

Of course a list of my family would also not be complete without talking about my hubby and best straight, Marko. He really is my soul mate I think. I’m not sure that’s really a concept I believe in, but we’re about as close as you can get.

Mountains 2

And dear Doge, he makes me happy. He’s kind, supportive, sweet, thoughtful, hardworking and generally an all around good person. He likes almost everything about me and tolerates the rest with a patience that has gone unmatched. Most importantly, he lets me be me and I actually think he enjoys all of the ridiculousness that comes with it and that my friends, is saying a lot. I am a difficult woman to love and he does a damn good job. Plus he’s kind of a hotdog, so that’s always an added bonus 🙂 I am so, so grateful he is the person that I am bringing a child into the world with because I can’t think of a better partner for what sounds like a biggest roller coaster of life.

2) My friends. For anyone who knows me, you know my friends are a huge part of my life. I am also very lucky because I have had the same group of friends since high school and in some cases, public school. We are hilarious to us. As Lindz mentioned in her blog, we’re not always hilarious to bouncers but for the most part, we are well received. Particularly as we get older. Although I’m thinking that the older we get we may have toned it down just a bit, resulting in a higher acceptance rate. But then when I look at recent pictures like this:

Emily's bday

….and maybe not so much. Maybe we are just getting older and people feel sorry for us so they accept us in our geriatric state. I’ll take either.

Not only do I have fantastic friends who have been a part of my life forever, I also have some amazing new ones that have become a part of our ‘group’, as well as some new beauties from the college. On that note, I am very grateful that Durham College started hiring lots and lots of instructors born in the same decade as me 🙂 That’ll do Durham, that’ll do.

I really could go on and on about the topic of my friends but since they are an integral part of my blog, I’ll leave it to you to do some exploring 😉

3) My career. This section is going to be a little long because I’ve never explained how I got where I currently am but it has been a series of really, really fortunate coincidences on my part and I feel they need to be discussed in detail. Yes, I have gone after and taken every opportunity that has come my way but lots of people do this and they have not been as successful. I know how lucky I am. I applied for a job as a learning facilitator at Durham College while finishing my Masters degree in 2011. Instead of being a successful candidate for this position, they hired me to teach. I would be lying if I said my whole life I have wanted to teach. Really, I was out of options in university and so I applied to Teachers College during the double cohort year. Not a wise choice but somehow I got in somewhere. I only got into one out of three choices, but I got in! After this I was again lucky enough to learn of a full time job in Calgary and for two years I taught in the elementary system out West. There were no jobs here and yet I was hired over the phone in Calgary. Lucky, yes. This gave me the experience to get into grad school and the experience that Durham was looking for to hire me. After only one semester as partial load at Durham, I was eligible for an interview for a full-time Communications position. I interviewed being told not to get my hopes up as I had limited experience and at first I did not get the job. However, through yet another series of fortunate events for me, I became the first choice and received full-time within four months of being hired. I’ve been told this doesn’t happen. I don’t know why it happened to me and not one of the dozens of other qualified, hard-working individuals I work with at Durham everyday but I am so grateful that it did. I love my job and I love Durham College. My boss has been the most supportive administrator I could have ever hoped for, not only through my hiring but into my pregnancy. I also have AMAZING colleagues. As I mentioned above the ‘face of Durham’ is changing and I work with so many talented, young and dynamic instructors who teach me new things everyday. Loving the people you work with at all levels is key in job satisfaction and I’m not sure I would be able to top this elsewhere.

The icing on the dream job cake was when I happened into a sessional instructor position at the university. This occurred a year after I received full-time at Durham. I will not go into detail but landing this was even more coincidental than Durham and it is pretty much my dream job. I teach teachers, how to teach. Somehow they let me do this. It’s pretty mind-blowing for me. I have been doing this in conjunction with Durham for a year and honestly, if it stayed like this for the rest of my life, I would be happy. Sometimes I complain about marking (really this is the only downfall to the job) but I know how lucky I am. Sometimes writing it out though really fills you with a sense of gratitude. I think more people should do this and they might realize things are a little better than they perceive them to be. Our generation LOVES to complain about their jobs and I really think this attitude is only going to get worse. Flashback 100 years ago to these children in their coal minery best and I think we can probably put it into perspective:

I am going to stop my list here. There are other things I am grateful for but I read a quote the other day, “If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can’t buy” and this list pretty much sums it up; Fab family, amazing amigos and a satisfying career.

And just to round it out because this post has been far too serious, lately I’ve been thankful for:

Doge


Just look it up. Having a little Shiba ourselves, Mark and I are dying right now for this somewhat despised meme. It’s been around for a while but all of a sudden it’s exploded all over the internet.

Home Alone 1 and 2:

I love Christmas and I love hijinks. These movies bring together the best of both worlds. Somehow I can pretty much find one of these movies on TV everyday in the month of December. It makes my heart happy. Side note: Ignore Home Alone 3 and 4. They are terrible and I pretend they don’t exist.

Jack Sparrow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI6CfKcMhjY

This music video makes me want to die. It’s old, I know. But Mark and I didn’t even discover it until a year or so ago and it is my go-to whenever I need a pick me up. I’m sure we all have that picture, image, song, etc. that can take us out of any terrible mood, this my mine. I love The Lonely Island and Michael Bolton is a straight up joke bag, so much like the Christmas/hijinks combo of Home Alone, this video does not disappoint.

Anyway my dears, that’s all for today and probably for a couple of weeks. Although I do have my next blog floating around in my head which makes it much easier to write. Perhaps I will surprise everyone, including myself with another posting soon! Thanks for reading and a question to prompt your genius; What are you most thankful for?

Georgia on My Mind….

I have to give my mom credit for the title of this post. When I found out I was going to Atlanta, Georgia for the Teaching Professor Technology Conference, I invited her along with me. For the next couple of weeks her email titles were very similar to the one on this post.

First up though, I wanted to show you this:

Fit to Teach Stats

Pretty exciting! Not really sure what is going on here, I know it has something to do with Miss Evanoff’s post but a lot of the views and visitors are random today. This little notification reminded me of playing the Sims and something like this would pop up:

Sims

Unexpected but always delightful.

Anyway, any traffic is good traffic, so keep it coming! Now let’s talk about some Atlanta adventures! I’m not going to tell you from start to finish because:

…but I will tell you some highlights.

When we first arrived in Atlanta we headed on over the Georgia Aquarium, which was the largest aquarium in the world when it opened. I am a poisson lover, with my very own tank of beauties, so this was very exciting for me. We immediately started off with the Dolphin Tales Show which we were told was a ‘must see’ by the front desk. I was expecting a lot of dolphins doing flips and shit but it was mostly this:

The creature in the middle singing with his merry men at his side. The highlight is when he dances out and twirls around the stage in an LED cape. My mom and I were laughing so hard we were crying. My initial impression of the aquarium was that it was ridiculous. It totally redeemed itself though when we got down to business and found the actual sea creatures that I hold so dear. The picture-taking was impressive:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They also had a gigantic aquarium with thousands of fish in it, including whale sharks, nurse sharks and the biggest sting rays I’ve ever seen. They built it over a tunnel so that you could go underneath and literally feel like you are swimming with the fishes. Luckily we were there during feeding time so we enjoyed the added bonus of scuba divers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With the Aquarium under our belt, we felt we had a good start on the ‘touristy’ aspects of Atlanta.

Another obvious highlight for me and the whole reason I was able to go to Atlanta, was my presentation at the Teaching Professor Technology Conference. On Friday night, I did a poster presentation on my look at using social media in the college and university classroom. While it may sound like an obvious idea to use Facebook or Twitter with students, I’m finding there are only certain subjects and even certain programs that really adapt well to the use of these tools in an educational manner. Being the tech wizard that I am, I set myself up in e-poster form and the finished product looked like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those handouts on the right hand side of the table were gone in less than half an hour, so needless to say, it was a busy night. I also have an affiliation with the Teaching Professor because I recently published in one of their online magazines. I feel like this is a great time for a shameless plug, so check out the article here: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-careers/advice-for-new-faculty-six-lessons-from-the-front-lines/

I made a lot of interesting contacts that night and absolutely loved talking to my fellow instructors in America about our Canadian education system because talking to Americans, about anything, is always a good time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZE0TuKTpo4

I kid. No one at the conference thought we live in igloos.

On Saturday after the conference, we decided to do a little shopping. We also decided to take public transit. First step in the journey was this escalator:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was the longest and steepest escalator of my life. I hated it. I had to close my eyes and Brennie told me when we got to the bottom.

We then encountered the issue of buying a ‘Breeze pass’ to get on the subway. As I stood there trying to use my credit card, the machine rejected me multiple times. I became pretty frustrated and complained loudly for a couple of minutes to my mom until a heavy set lady beside me started mumbling to herself about ‘all my noise.’ She then progressed to half facing me and saying, ‘You’re making all dis noise and nuttin’ happenin. Nuttin’ happenin!’ It was perhaps my favourite line of the trip. I wonder how many times random strangers have wanted to tell me and my friends and family members off when we randomly wail about something not working correctly or make way more noise than is necessary when something ‘bad’ happens. Good for this lady for finally telling me to shut it.

My mom and I made our way down to the platform and spotted an empty space on a bench. However, part of the bench had a piece of half eaten cake on it in a plastic container. Immediately my mom and I saw the cake and said almost in unison, ‘Oh look, cake! I sure am hungry.’ Which prompted the questionably homeless man beside the cake to put his hand on the plastic container and ever so slowly slide the cake over beside him. We’re still not sure if it was his to begin with, but we saw him get off the subway several stops later cradling that cake like it was his newborn child:

Image Source: http://julie-and-michael.blogspot.ca/2010/03/icing-on-cake.html

Later that evening, we decided to continue on with our public transit party and take it all the way to Marietta, Georgia, as we were booked for a ghost tour. By taxi, Marietta is about 25 minutes away. By public transit it is one subway, two buses and a short taxi ride away and boy was it a good time! People really were quite friendly and helpful but at the same time, I did fear for my safety when I was told that they only way to get off of the subway during peak time was to, ‘duck my head and charge through the crowd like an Atlanta Falcon.’ Now six months ago, they would have had me at using my body as a weapon but nowadays, it really isn’t a viable option.

Marietta was darling and the tour was pretty good. It was a little over the top, as I highly doubt that every store and street corner in the town is truly haunted, but you never know. The creepiest part of the tour for me was definitely this guy:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He was sitting in a window display in one of the hundred haunted stores in the town and I really just wasn’t liking his vibe. He had a couple of other buddies in the window that were not my cup of tea but he was the worst.

I also wanted to show a picture of their central park. The city does a scarecrow competition around this time of the year and places them throughout their town square. There were lots of amazing entries, but this one was my fave:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mainly because it reminded me of Mark dressed up like a lady:

Spitting image right?

Sunday was the last day and the conference ended at noon, so my mom and I headed out to another must see, the Ferndale Natural History Museum. I actually love museums, so when this was recommended multiple times, I was down. It was probably the most beautiful and pristine museum I have ever been in.

Ferndale Natural History Museum

It had a lot of dinosaurs (a particular childhood fave of mine):

T-Rex

And it also had one of these guys:

Giant Tree Sloth

….a giant tree sloth. Which unfortunately don’t exist anymore. If they did, I’m pretty sure the panda and baby polar bear would be SOL in regards to being the most sought after zoo animal.

After perusing the museum for a few hours, it was time to catch our flight home. So we sped off to the airport in a fast and furious fashion……only to have our flight delayed by 5 hours due to Tropical Storm Karen.

They closed the airport for 15 minutes because of torrential downpour and during that time our flight came in, circled and went all the way back to South Carolina, hence the rather large delay. On a happier note, my mom and I watched The Heat on the way back with Sandy Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. So hilarious. My mom was laughing the entire time and she has a LOUD, infectious laugh. I loved it. It really kept my spirits up but I’m not sure about the other people around us who were clearly trying to sleep. It was the perfect way to end an amazing trip.

I don’t think I would go back to Atlanta because there are so many other cities in America I would like to explore but I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is thinking of traveling to the Dirty South:

Dirty South

To end the post, a few other random goodies from the trip.

1) The view from our hotel room:

Westin Peachtree PlazaBy Day….

Westin Peachtree PlazaBy night….

Yes please! Our hotel was the Westin Peachtree Plaza, which is the tallest hotel in North America and they certainly make the most of their view.

2) The food!

Nachos

Everyone from Canada who heads down to the States is just amazed by the portion sizes down there. Case in point, my mom’s salad:

Taco Salad

It was bigger than her head. However, she dealt with it like a champ. I ordered nachos and the same thing. Needless to say, no dinner was needed that night for either of us.

3) My mom would be very disappointed in both me and this post if I did not mention that at one point on the trip we tried to get on a Japanese tour bus. I have a proud history of getting on tour buses from other countries that clearly are not my own. I will stand there looking around until someone realizes I don’t belong and kicks me off. They laugh at me like I am a silly white girl and send me on my way. I find this very amusing. It’s been a lonngggg time since I did this, so my mom decided she wanted to give it a try. We followed behind a group of Japanese tourists and were just about to step on their bus when one of the passengers looked at us and said, ‘Where you think you going?’ Busted. The bus driver told us we clearly did not know what we were doing, to which my mom slyly lifted her sunglasses and winked at him. Again, we were laughed at and sent on our way but the memory will live on for a while from that one.

Next week I will tell some tales from the Wild, Wild West. But for now, I have a stack of midterms calling my name…..

Have a wonderful week friends 🙂

Innovation Conference 2013

Happy Friday! Before I get into the conference I attended a couple of Fridays ago, let’s talk about this again:

Image

It is the lettuce from our garden that I alluded to on Wednesday. And it really is delicious friends. Markus and I have had several side salads in the last couple of weeks and I am so, so excited to be able to pick this out of the garden and eat it…..every.single.time. It never gets old. Emilio also took some home with her, along with some bok choy last week and she was tres impressed with the freshness. It really is good times here at the McCarnaghan residence. However, it is not time to get on to the title of the post.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Innovation Conference at UOIT. Since I already work there, that was pretty convenient for me. I didn’t even have to pay for parking, always a conference plus. I was really hoping to learn about the new technologies that are out there for use in the classroom, so let’s see how that went.

Image

I received a lovely welcome from this bulletin board and made my way to registration where I collected me some ‘swag’. I was a little disappointed here. Usually when you go to a conference you get a mug, some kind of reusable bag, etc but all I got was a pen.

Image

I mean, it was a solid pen and it was a relatively cheap conference fee, so I guess beggars can’t be choosers. However, the day started on a very negative note for some people as there was no coffee.

Source: http://cdn.meme.li/instances/400x/25203516.jpg

The caterers did not show up until the first intermission and there were some very grumpy attendees. Yet another instance that I have been quite glad that I am not a coffee drinker.  However, they also didn’t have any H2O, so this gave me a slight frown face.

The day started off with a bang in regards to the presenters though. Rejean Bourgault, Vice-President of Avaya, was fascinating. He told us about all of new technologies that are coming onto the market, including robot teachers in Korea. Whelp….that’s not really good news for my job but considering they are creepy as hell….I’m not sure I have too much to worry about.

https://i2.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/3/13/1236941452995/Teacher-robot-Saya-expres-001.jpg

Source: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/3/13/1236941452995/Teacher-robot-Saya-expres-001.jpg

This is actually what they look like. Shudder.

While his talk was fascinating, this was the only time that education was mentioned during the entire conference, so I must say, it wasn’t really relevant for me. However, since Rejean was so interesting, I continued to tune in. The second speaker was Jerry Boyer, Director of IT at GlaxoSmithKline Inc. He kept making Star Trek inferences, so I was pretty pumped about that. But that was about all I could really get excited about for his particular portion.

After these two speakers, we had break and you could see people doing the fast-walk out the doors to get coffee. During the break, I meandered around and bumped into these young lads who were previewing the latest video game technology.

I even tried it out myself but I can’t say I was very good. I really miss the original Nintendo controller with the two buttons on one side and the cross of buttons on the other side. Simplicity is where it is at for this old broad.

After this,  we had another presentation from Susan Dineen, the Executive Director of Fox Group Consulting. While again, she was not related to education, I found her quite interesting, as she was talking about the future of television. Basically, and this should not be a shock to anyone, TV is on it’s way out and what they call ‘over the top programming’ like Netflix, is on the rise. While TV will not be obsolete for quite some time because of news, sports and specialty events, there has been a dramatic increase in people ‘pulling the plug’ on their cable and streaming their TV online.

After this chat it was lunch time and let me tell you….it was terrible. It was advertised as a ‘buffet lunch’ but the only two options were roast beef and green beans (insert vomit noise) or a sandwich station. I got perhaps the worst wrap I’ve ever had in my life and the woman serving it was just as pleasant.

Wrap

While it doesn’t look too offensive…trust me, it was.

After this I decided to leave the conference as none of the afternoon sessions pertained to anything education related. The timing also coincided with my teacher Ruth’s retirement party. Ruth was my teacher for the College Teaching certificate that I just graduated from in May and she is an absolutely amazing instructor. I really wanted to say my goodbyes because she is by far one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and this is saying a lot because I’ve probably had close to a hundred teachers in my lifetime. I can only think of a couple that compared from high school and obviously this experience was completely different from the experience I had as an adult student with Ruth. I managed to sneak a pic of the guest of honour cutting the cake with her adorable grand-daughter:

Cake

The cake was really good too and totally made up for the lunch disaster 😉

After a round of extremely emotional speeches and some crying everyone took a turn signing this giant umbrella for Ruth.

Umbrella

Ruth is moving to the West Coast, so the big joke is that she is going to need plenty of umbrellas because of all of the rain. So along with this signed beauty, several other people got her an umbrella to add to her collection:

Umbrellas

I would say she is not going to have a problem locating an umbrella for pretty much the rest of her life! All in all, a good day and I’m really glad I was able to make Ruth’s party because she means a lot to me.

Do you have a teacher that has inspired you past or present? Any favourite memories? Do you like umbrellas?

 

‘Professional’ Development?

I kid with the question mark surrounding professional but I’ve gotta say, I had a lot of fun for an event dubbed as PD.

As I have mentioned, I was out of town the last few days reflecting on how to be a better post-secondary educator. This particular seminar was the second part of a series for all new full-time faculty members in the Eastern Region of Ontario. Our destination; gorgeous Kingston, Ontario. However, the accommodations; not so gorgeous. We slept in dorm room beds which I’m pretty sure were from an era that pre-dates my birth. During the first session we were told that this experience was meant to help us remember what it was like to be a student but I’m pretty sure there is some other motivation behind this lesson in back pain. The first session, which was held last August was four nights, five days. I am tres grateful that this time around it was only two nights. I’m exhausted today but at least I’m not loony. Last time, by the fifth day, I could barely comprehend what was happening. I felt like I was in a bad dream that was really, really, really mundane. This really was too bad because the opportunities for learning were plentiful, however the learning environment was sorely diminished by everyone’s sleep deprived state and in some cases, outright anger.

Much like last time, my lovely friend Lara picked me up and we hit the road at 7am. I was up at 4:45am…no lie. This was not right. The sky was dark and I can recall a few nights that this was the time I went to bed, not the other way around. Mark is probably shaking his fist as he reads this since this is when he gets up EVERY DAY, but it was weird for me. I must say, I have just a little bit more respect for him after this experience.

respect
Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-a2WkOuaehNs/UJ1ix4NFy-I/AAAAAAAAGp0/OCBj2-8WxOI/s640/Randy-Marsh-I-respect-you-bro.jpg

We picked up our friend and colleague Clair and were on our way. Lara required a couple of coffee breaks on the way but the second stop had a Burger King and some free crowns. Lara alerted me to this and well, let’s just say the ride felt a little more regal the rest of the way.

Burger King

We got there and quickly checked into our gorgeous accommodations:

Dorm Room

Yup…it’s a dorm room. I wasn’t lying.

After unpacking we listened to a lecture from a former president of a couple of colleges. He had some great points and ideas, unfortunately it was ill-timed because everyone had just been sitting for 2+ hours and a lot of people were fighting sleep. It’s really unfortunate when you can’t take in what someone with so much wisdom and experience has to say.

The woke use up with food and I must say, lunch was a dream:

Lunch

Other than the bean salad, everything was consumed. The salad and wrap were absolutely delicious.  One thing that you can count on is gaining 5 pounds on these retreats if you are not careful. They feed you three times a day plus two snacks and the snacks, as I mentioned on Tuesday, are dangerous. After lunch we got back into our home groups from last year. These groups consisted of 5 or 6 people from different colleges who got together throughout the first week in August to discuss the various educational topics of the day. We also did some mini-teaching sessions in front of each other, which was very nerve-racking for the professors new to teaching, so it was a really good way to bond and support each other. I was happy to see my group again and it was like only a few days had passed since we saw each other. After doing some catching up, we chatted about anything and everything educational and it was dinner time. This dinner will be going un-photoged. It was dry, roast beef. I do not like roast beef to begin with so I opted for the vegetarian meal and it was not very appetizing. In fact, dinner left me feeling pretty queasy so I went back to my room and watched a few episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix (which I’m loving!) and tried to get to sleep.

The next day I skipped breakfast and the morning session but managed to meet up with my home group who filled me in on what I missed. After lunch, we went to another concurrent session on various topics and my colleague buds and I chose to go to a session on The Power of Body Language and Voice. Despite my profession, I am a very nervous public presenter when it comes to my peers, so I was hoping to get some tips and tricks to help me out with this. The first thing we had to do was a lesson in control during a presentation. We had to look around the room, make eye contact with everyone for one-two seconds and say our first name and then our last name while raising our hands in the air. I kind of looked like this:

pope

It felt ridiculous but I do get the point of these practices. The leader put this quote on the board by George Bernard Shaw in regards to how he became a good public speaker, “I did it the same way I learned to skate—by persistently making a fool of myself until I got used to it.” This was clearly what we were doing. We continued on with this silliness for most of the session but we also learned some solid tips on how to turn our teaching into a performance. I felt a little more empowered and a little less embarrassed by the time I left the session. We got back into our home groups for about an hour and then it was time for the best part of the retreat; dinner at…

Fort Henry

We arrived around 6:30 and the views were absolutely beautiful:

Kingston

Including the view of Lara and I:

Lara and Dawn

The most beautiful view though was this man:

British Officer

So the whole ‘thing’ at Fort Henry is that you are to dine like you are a British Officer from 1837. The lovely gent in the red was one of our waiters, along with several young lads with ear spacers, which I quickly pointed out were not historically accurate but this was my only complaint. So, to be authentic, as an officer you would have treated your waitstaff like garbage and thus, the rules were you were not allowed to say please and thank you to your waiters. You also were not supposed to put your elbows on your table. All three of these were a challenge for me and pretty much everyone at our table.

Dinner Table

Each room appointed a Colonel who was to dole out punishments to those who did not follow the rules. A couple of the women around me nominated me, which I must say would have been a much more wild ride then what ensued but in the end everyone decided that Jason, an ex-RCMP officer, would be an excellent choice. He did a pretty good job but his punishments were a little tame by my standards. An example was that I had to do the limbo when I was caught putting my elbows on the table.

Limbo

There were also several individuals made to sing songs, walk around like various barnyard animals and then each room began to prank and perform for each other. At one point we had the entire other side of the restaurant in our room singing, “Na Na, Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”. It kind of sounded like this:

http://youtu.be/jsaTElBljOE

…..but it looked like this:

Sing along

Anyway, throughout these shenanigans, dinner was served and it was AMAZING. We started with a Currie cream soup, which was really, really good. We then moved on to the main meal which was filet Minot or salmon. Considering my unlove for beef, I went with the salmon and I’m really glad I did.

Salmon

I really dislike cooked carrots and even a few of these made the cut. Look at the presentation! Come Dine With Me would even be impressed. Dessert was not a dream. It was a trifle but not the kind of unreal, mouth exploding trifle made by my sister-in-law Jenny. It was white cake with fruit…including grapes? Grapes, what the hell? Fortunately I was way too full from dinner to care about the lackluster dessert.

After dinner I decided to check out some of the sights. The whole fort was really beautiful at night:

Fort Henry at Night

But really, I only went outside to get a picture on the cannon:

Cannon

A little blurry but I have to give props to my photographer because the mosquitoes were unreal. I definitely got one in the corner of my eye but at least I didn’t get bit on my eye like my friend Lindz.

After this it was pretty much time to head home. Everyone had had a pretty good time when we were there and you could tell that several people were still on a high from all of the laughing. As we were driving, much to our amusement, the carload of profs in front of us decided to treat us to an impromptu street dance at a red light:

Dance Party

Funny story, the guy in the white shirt saw us taking pictures but didn’t know who was doing it, so Lara told him that we had put his dancing up on You Tube. He was losing his mind over this and totally believed it. He even went as far to search it on Google before realizing we were clearly screwing with him. This whole episode was definitely a highlight of the week for me.

The next day we met one more time with our groups. I got a picture of me asking a question:

professional developmentSource: http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/teacher-development-2.jpg

Do you like my new suit vest?

Then, the most rewarding part of the experience, we graduated from the program! Eight whole days of my life resulted in this beautiful piece of paper for my portfolio:

Certificate

After this lovely little achievement, we were given some delicious wraps to go and packed up and headed home.

In all seriousness, while the sleeping conditions were subpar, the rest of the experience was totally beneficial. I am actually a huge fan of professional development. I even wrote a short article on my love for it a while back: http://www.dc-uoit.ca/pd/docs/Catalyst/Catalyst%20-%20Issue%2031.pdf

It was really great to meet a new group of professors with novel and different ideas than what I experience at my college; the networking is  fantastic. It also really forced us all to reflect on what we are doing in our practice and what we could be doing better. However, I must say, I am 100% confident that my college is miles ahead of others in regards to preparing its new teachers for their transition from industry to teaching. While I am not in this boat, as I am an educator by trade, I was not completely equipped for the post-secondary classroom and my college has really helped me to handle the change from elementary to post-secondary pedagogy. I apologize to all non-teachers, I’m sure this blurb is less than enthralling but at least I’ve got some good pics above to keep you happy.

I will be back on Monday friends to recap my bestest’s THIRTIETH birthday. Have a beautiful weekend!!

Taking it Back to the Old School, Cause I’m an Old Fool

Friday was a very interesting day. So interesting I believe it will be broken into two parts.

That (late) morning I had the same grilled cheese and turkey breast from the previous day. Not the same one but same ingredients, you know what I’m saying. I then took the dogs on a lonnng and leisurely walk. The view looked like this:

Photo

I am absolutely loving where we live in the city. This is just one of the beautiful pics to be taken in the 22 acre dog park right behind our house. There are even more picturesque spots to be had…I really need to take my camera but for now this Samsung pic will have to do.

After this walk, I was a grout queen again until it was time to get ready for a high school reunion of sorts. Before leaving I indulged in this creation:

Image

In this little beauty was Greek yogurt, frozen spinach, peaches, frozen berries and Stevia. It gave me all the necessary energy for ‘my big event.’ This occasion was actually very bittersweet. My little high school, Cartwright, is closing. I went there all five years of my life, choosing to beg my parents to drive me all the way into Blackstock instead of getting bused to my home school in Port Perry. Most people do not say that they liked high school but I LOVED high school. I had some of the best times of my life there and would seriously go back in a heartbeat. Not only did the school majorly influence what I’m doing today and give me the necessary skills and dedication to succeed in a hell of a lot of post-secondary, it also gave me an entire group of life-long friends. Emily, Lindsey, Lisa, Joanna, Crystal and I have stayed friends since grade 9. I guess I should probably include Joelle in there as well. A few recent pics to prove our decades long love:

We have even stayed friends with our high school History teacher:

As well as our high school English teacher:

That would be her in the tiger mask. Obviously she’s a good time.

It’s pretty safe to say the school has had a huge impact on my life both then and now, so I wanted to pay it the respect it deserved. When we found out there was going to be a Cartwright celebration day before its closure, it was obvious we wanted to be in attendance. I met up with Lindz around 4PM and was immediately reunited with some of our teachers from the past. The school also had decade rooms set up, so I traveled around and perused the 90’s/new millennium room (we were 97-2002) and then for fun went into the 50’s/60’s and 70s/80s rooms. I also ran into quite a few of my husband’s relatives, as their Blackstock roots run deep. Around 5:30 Emily and Joanna showed up and then the photo shoot commenced.

This first pic was taken in the old locker rooms. For some reason we had trouble getting into our old lockers:

Then Joanna and I got a picture with our fave accounting teacher. He still had the same sarcastic sense of humour that I loved so much. I find I am very much like him with my own students. Joanna and I once took a picture of his derriere and put it in the year book that year. He was happy to learn of this 12 years later. You can see the joy on his face:

Image

We did some catching up in the library:

Then snuck into the locked attic like we used to and found some gorgeous 1970’s pinafores:

Then we called all of our teachers out to the front of the school and we got a group photo for the ages:

Image

To keep current, we also got a picture with the most recent principal who let us call all of the teachers, by nickname, out to the front of the school for a picture. If he had have been there in our OAC year, I’m pretty sure it would have been a completely different school. We were pretty domineering anyway, without boundaries it could have been dangerous.

Image

After all of this fun and reminiscing it was time to depart. I left around 7PM, happy and sad all at the same time. It really hurts me to know that generations of students will not get to experience what it is like to have Cartwright as their high school. It was a teen dream, literally. I really think it is a testament to a school that hundreds of people from ages 14-94 showed up to relive their happy times and pay their respects to such an amazing institution. Thank you to all of my teachers, friends and the community for making my teenage years memorable, influential and most of all, happy. Most people are not that lucky.

Goodbye Cartwright, we’ll miss you…

Image

For another take on the celebration check out: http://happyorhungry.com/.

Back at it?

Good Evening,

I’m not really sure what’s going on here but I think I want to start blogging again. I tried it for all of two weeks last summer and it just about killed me. Your life starts to revolve around your blog and you become really self-centered and I don’t need any help in that regard…..just ask my husband. What I do know though is that I feel like garbage physically and something needs to change. I know my bud Lindsey @Happy or Hungry (http://happyorhungry.com/) mentioned that she never looked or felt better than when she was just blogging about food. Perhaps this will be my saviour? Really, I’m ready to try anything.

My weight and health have been a constant struggle for me. I was a normal kid and then middle school happened. I gained some weight before heading into grade 7 and being slightly overweight in grade 7 meant you were a whale. I was ‘friends’ with the wrong people and I was made fun of constantly. In today’s day and age, it would be called bullying. I’m not going to get into the stories. Most people have them. Although I do think I have more stored in my memory than your average girl. This caused me to not eat all day at school for fear of being teased and then binge eat when I got home. It is safe to say I gained a lot of weight. I was no longer a little overweight, I was a big girl. I had a on a premium fat suit if you will. Luckily middle school is only two years and high school was much better. Actually, high school was a dream. I had a lot of friends and had some of the best times of my life (more on this later). I even managed to lose some weight, as I worked at a gym and well…I was a teenager, so my metabolism was not the enemy it is now. Then came university and the freshman 15 ended up being the freshman 30. To be fair, this 30 pounds was spread out over six years and several ups and downs, but still by the end of my B.A. and B.Ed. I was the heaviest I’d ever been. When I came home from Teacher’s College I guess I had enough of feeling and looking like garbage and I cut out all grain related carbs (in addition to tons of cardio) and lost about 20 pounds. I then moved out to Alberta to teach for two years. The first year I maintained this loss and then some. When I moved home I met my now husband, who was also a former ‘big boy.’ Together we embarked on a healthy eating party and I lost another 20 pounds. I wasn’t just eating well, I was also working out 6 days a week. At 27, I was in the best shape of my life. I could have kicked 17 year old Dawn’s ass ten times over.

Then, and I’m sure you can guess, this is where my story piques. I came home, bought a house that needed a 100% makeover and had pretty much minus zero minutes to go to the gym. I may have had the summer ‘off’ but that was the hardest I’d ever worked in my life. At the same time, I entered my Master of Education. Once the house was finished I was able to make time to get to the gym a few times a week and really, I maintained my weight for about a year. I wasn’t as fit but I still felt pretty good about things. While finishing my Master’s final project, I started the beginnings of my dream job at a college during the Fall semester. While it was only partial load, in conjunction with my Masters, I was again back to having no time to myself. I also had no set schedule like I did as an elementary teacher, which I’m finding makes a huge difference. The weight began to creep back on. I then received full time at the college in the Winter semester. While professionally I felt like I had won the lottery, in regards to my fitness, things only got worse. My schedule was busier and even more erratic. I thought I would be able to pull myself together over the summer….but it was summer and I was the most self indulgent, albeit tanned teacher, you’ve ever seen. I kind of looked like this:

tannedI like tennis.

This past Winter semester I started another job at a university, on top of my college job and really my desire and time to work out went right out the window. I’m a stress eater and you can believe I was stressed. In addition to these two jobs I also got married and bought a home. Oh, and I was finishing up a College Teaching Certificate. Wowza! However, that is all now behind me and I find myself with 3 1/2 months to GET WITH IT! This is where the blogging comes in. I’m really, really, really hoping this is the ticket. I am sick of making excuses for myself and I’m also sick of feeling sick and tired. I sometimes feel that I don’t have the energy to bring to my job that it and my students deserve; hence the name change of this blog. I really want to feel like I am fit to teach again. I felt so amazing before and I want to get back there again (although I now know 6 days a week in the gym is not maintainable with my current lifestyle).

I think the first stage is getting back into some of the healthy habits that I held dear before. Working out a few times a week, drinking tons of water, cutting down on my portions and experimenting with new, healthy recipes. Which is where the first stage of my plan comes in; the fridge clean out. I find purging your fridge of any old and unnecessary food really helps you to feel like you are starting from a clean slate. So I did that yesterday afternoon….and my kitchen looked like this:

ImageGood times.

In the end though it looked like this:

Image

Well, with more than just veggies. But you can see, I really did start from scratch. I then went grocery shopping today and did the old perimeter of the grocery store (and a few other aisles for Markus who doesn’t seem to have gained back ANY of the weight we lost together in Calgary). Men’s metabolisms = infuriating.

So here I am, starting again. Having lost and gained a little and then losing and gaining a lot, starting over again seems unbelievably daunting but honestly I have no choice. Even if this only forces me to reconsider a meal here and there because it’s going to be on the blog (gasp!) that will be an improvement over what is currently occurring up in hur.

Here’s to being back on the horse and hopefully once again being fit to teach!

Oh and because I also promised laughs here’s a little fitness related something for you:

Two of my favourites; a terrible expression and beautiful man.