Penny Got Knocked Up By Robbie the Creep!

It’s true – I’m knocked up. My name isn’t Penny, my husband isn’t Robbie, and he really isn’t a creep but I felt this was a fitting way to tell the inter webs that I have a bun in the oven.  I certainly thought it was appropriate for Facebook:

Pregnancy Announcement

As the announcement alludes to, this is from Dirty Dancing, which is hands down one of my favourite movies. Leon, Julie and I can recite it almost word for word. If you don’t at least know the line, ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner,’ you are pretty much dead to me.

Now, I’m 5 months along, which doesn’t excuse my absence from blogging but for some of you out there who found yourselves unexpectedly pregnant, you can maybe sympathize with the fact that I simply have not had the mental fortitude to be able to blog and work a full and part-time teaching job. Pregnancy brain is real my friends.

I’m starting to get my feet back on the ground and get back into the groove of work but the last 5 weeks have been rough. Some nights I would come home so exhausted that I barely made it through dinner before I went to bed. I also became a fan of afternoon naps. However, that seems to be behind me. AND I honestly miss blogging. I can’t say I’m back three or four times a week but I would love to write weekly and put something out on Mondays or Tuesdays. I think that is reasonable….right? Right? Blogging friends, let me know. I feel guilty for giving it up but I just didn’t have the motivation and I didn’t want to be putting out forced garbage. You can always tell when someone is blogging for the sake of blogging. There’s also the little fact that I wasn’t over the moon when I found out I was pregnant. In fact, I probably looked more like this:

Baha, that one gets me every time.

So yeah, I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t excited, I was actually kind of terrified and mad. Odd combination but that’s the best I can identify. The staff at the doctor’s office kept asking me how excited I was and I would respond that I wasn’t. In one case, the medical assistant made an awkward face, turned on her heel and left the room. I don’t think she was used to that attitude from an appropriately aged mother-to-be. Needless to say, for the summer, I didn’t really felt like turning my blog into a baby blog because I didn’t wanted to talk about it. I could pretend it wasn’t a part of my life but it was a BIG part of it. Your whole life changes and your stomach becomes the center of your universe. I knew from June 18th on (my sister’s b-day) that I was rocking a blastocyst and I tried to keep blogging like normal but once I came back from Calgary I didn’t have the heart to keep going and ignoring the game changer growing inside me.

But happy news…I am now very, very excited! One of my best friends and my now sister-in-law, Leon, is having a baby (soon!) and baby fever is kind of spreading in our group of friends.  Here is a picture of the two of us crowning at Emily’s engagement party:

This baby love has really helped. With the exception of our friend Lisa, who had a baby when we were in our early 20’s, no one in our ‘group’ of high school friends has a child. We are pretty content to be in our twosomes and do carefree couples things, usually involving alcohol. I was not looking forward to giving this up and I didn’t know how my friends were going to react. However, they have all been gents about it, which shouldn’t surprise me. We have always been supportive of each other and our adventures, whether it be getting a pair of glasses tattooed on our faces, or growing a fetus.

Finally, my blog was also about my attempts to get back to the gym and lighter living and I can’t say that being pregnant really inspires this. I can’t fit into any of my old pants or jeans. I sometimes struggle with the lung capacity needed to teach some of my classes, which clearly doesn’t equate to full-blown gym workouts. My feet are already starting to swell. Today I looked down to my feet pushing up over my sandals. This.has.never.happened. I do not have wide feet. In fact, I quite like my feet. But I have a feeling those days are over. For example I feel like I could be sporting a pair of these beauties:

Fear not, this is not me…but I feel like it could be.

Last but not least….I am hungry. I’ve always liked food but now I’m actually hungry on a frequent basis. This is a deadly combination. I wanted to include a picture of a really large pregnant woman to forecast my pregnancy future but when I typed it into Google images of Jessica Simpson kept coming up, so I will save you the visual. You get the idea.

The summation of all of these factors hopefully gives you an idea of why I simply stopped blogging. However, I think I’m ready to get back on the wagon. Obviously the focus is going to change a little bit because my focus is going to be changing a little bit but being able to blog about my life will prove to me that I’m still a human being. Not just a human being maker. 

So if you can forgive me, please keep reading. I promise to make it up to you with tales from faraway lands in the very near future.

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The Time I Saw Fireworks Three Nights in a Row

As the title of this post indicated, there were a lot of fireworks this weekend. Which was great because I missed them last year and was quite sad inside. But I didn’t just sit in a lawn chair and watch fireworks for 72 hours, there were other activities occurring as well. On Saturday after a swim and some clean up, Mark and I headed to Khaki and Julie‘s cottage in Minden. Mark put on his best ventriloquist dummy smile for the ride:

Puppet Face

Over the years the word cottage has changed to the term ‘cottage cheese‘ and now it is just straight up ‘cheese.’ When you ask Julie what she’s doing in the summer, she is often ‘cheesing.’ Personally the term reminds me of cottage cheese cellulite, so it always makes me laugh when she says that since Julie is one of the fittest girls that I know.

After a beautiful 2 hour car ride with the pups we got arrived and Bolt ran out of the car and took a 4 minute pee. I’m not lying. He drank a ton of pool water when I was swimming and held it the whole way. He may have his faults but he is a champ at holding his bladder.

There were several kids on Khaki’s dock, which I’ve learned is Julie’s nightmare so we took the dogs for a walk. On the way back we met a new canine friend. A big black lab decided to follow us the entire way back to the cottage even though we repeatedly told it to go home. It also tried to be friends with Bolt because all dogs seem to gravitate towards him even though he is pretty antisocial. Bolt is hands down a people dog. He pretty much wants nothing more in life than to be a person. One day Facebook thought Bolt was a person and it was the best day of his life:

Facebook funnyAnyway, I was so, so proud of my little buddy. While he clearly wanted to bite the dog’s face, he listened to me while I repeatedly told him, ‘leave it’ which is his code word for chill out. It may have also had something to do with the fact that the dog had clearly just had surgery and did not pose much of a threat but I like to think he’s coming along…..just a bit.

We had a nice family BBQ dinner with Khaki, Julie, Rob, myself and Khaki’s daddio Lane. Lane was a high school visual arts teacher for many, many years, so I found him very easy to talk to. He also seemed to have a million stories about Mark’s relatives because he taught most of them at Port Perry High School. The antics were exactly what I expected; they featured a lot of trouble and even a shot gun.

After dinner I took a couple of pics off of the dock because it was seriously beautiful, this is my favourite:

Dock

Dinner was pretty late so by the time we were done it was time for fireworks. Lane and the neighbours put together their fireworks stock pile and we had a good old show. Mark was the firework’s photographer because we decided it was his talent in life.

Fireworks

Then I took a turn because I didn’t want to be upstaged by his talent:

Fireworks

We had a nice little fire after the big show.

Fire

Julie is a little camera shy but Hallie is not.

I also enjoyed some fireside snuggles with Bolter:

Snuggles

Apparently fireworks do wonders for my hair.

We went to bed around midnight but I must admit, I got into the book I was reading and was up until probably 2am or so. This led to a little sleep in the next day. After a late breakfast we went for a ride in Lane’s brand new boat. This was a highlight for me. The lake is gorgeous and so are the cottages on it. A couple of beings who did not enjoy it were Bolt and Miyou. Miyou kept trying to run to the back of the boat and walk dangerously close to the motor, while Bolt would not leave the front of the boat and Mark’s side.

Bolt

After our boat ride we headed into town and then it was time for us to pack up and head to our next event, Emilio’s Canada Day BBQ. We said our goodbyes to the cutest cheese eva…

Cottage

…and were on our way.

We arrived at Emily’s at 5, only to discover she had been detained at work until 6:15. Poor little gal. Luckily Cork is a hostess with the mostest and entertained Mark and Kris while I went and made myself at home with a little nap.

Everyone else (including Emilio) showed up around 6 and the festivities were underway. Dinner was delicious. Cork and Emilio made us BBQ, I brought a salad and there were tons of fruit and veggies with dip. However, I must say, dessert was the highlight and I rarely say this. My friend Joanna brought her amazing apple and caramel/Skor dip. There were also cookies. To top it off, Lindz and Evan brought little cakes which were topped with whip cream and homemade raspberry jam. So delicious. We lit those babies up with sparklers and sang a very loud and very patriotic Oh Canada. You can see I’m pretty into it here:

BBQ

Mark and Corey…not so much.

But just look at how patriotic a dessert can be!

Dessert

After dinner we had a fire and were treated to the most elaborate fireworks display I’ve ever seen in someone’s backyard,  courtesy of Emily and Corey’s neighbours. They had the craziest sounding fireworks any of us had ever heard, ever. They sounded like those sticks that you can buy at the dollar store that when you tip them back and forth they make odd, whiney sounds. This is what a couple of sets of the fireworks sounded like. It was pretty much my dream. It was really weird though. They were having this intense fireworks show, on which they must have spent almost a thousand dollars but no one was making a sound. It was like a ghost was setting them off. Obviously we helped to create the kind of cheering and fanfare that was necessary for such a spectacle but I really just don’t understand some people.

Speaking of not understanding some people…..at one point Corey fell asleep. He had been up for almost 28 hours at this point, so no one could blame him for that. However, Emily took it upon herself to first set a cup on his head and see if she could balance it. Once this was achieved a few times without him waking up, she then took to batting the cup off of his head with a giant stick.

Cup Smash

Let’s just say, Corey didn’t stay asleep after this. He was such a good sport about it though. That is true love. I would have thrown Emily and her stick into the fire. I was laughing so hard I was screaming though, so I’m glad someone invited that clown to the party.

This was pretty much our cue to head out and again we got home around midnight. It had been a pretty busy weekend so I don’t think either of us could last much longer.

Then, something incredible happened. We slept until NOON the next day. NOON. It was glorious. Mark was off and this rarely happens, so he really wanted to take advantage and make it the laziest day possible. I think he succeeded. He literally did nothing but sleep and play X Box. I managed to make it outside for a swim and to do a few sets of upper body exercises but overall, it was just a beautiful day.

Around 8:30PM we headed up to the fireworks spot that we stumbled upon last year. At one of the highest peaks in the city you can literally see all of the fireworks shows going on from Oshawa to Pickering, all the way out to Toronto. The peak also looks down in a neighbourhood that is very fireworks friendly, so at any given time you have three or four backyard fireworks going off and one major one on the horizon. We arrived at 9PM and were the second ones there.

Mark the Loner

By 9:30 there were cars parked up and down the sidewalk and the side of the road. There were easily 100 people there. Obviously it’s not a well-kept secret.

Busy Road

Other than being a beautiful display and a nice night, it was pretty uneventful. However, one funny moment for both of us occurred when an older couple came by with their tripod. The man wanted to take some professional pictures of the fireworks and of his wife with a sparkler. He lit the sparkler for his wife and she literally just stood there with it in her hand. The man had to direct her to wave it around, which she then did but made the most pitiful circles I’ve ever seen. If he hadn’t of told her to do anything she would have just stood there until it burned out. I couldn’t resist getting a picture because seriously…..who doesn’t know what to do with a sparkler!???

Sparkler Genius

I wanted to steal the sparkler out of her hand and show her just what she should have been drawing with it but I didn’t want to get burned. As far as I know she has only ever been trained to use a sparkler as a weapon.

How was your long weekend (or just weekend if your Americano)? What is your long weekend tradition?

A Fabulous 50th – ON A BOAT!

It’s been busy up in here. So much so that I will be breaking down my weekend into a couple of parts. It was a long weekend here in Canada land too, so I think that’s OK.

On Friday Mark and I were invited to the 50th birthday party of Marie, the mom of Mark’s  friend Cory. There was limited space on the boat so I was pretty honoured to be invited. It was also being held aboard the good old Woodman in Port Perry, which made it even more exciting. While I lived in Port almost my whole life, I’ve never been on the Woodman because it’s a pricey little beast, so it was amazing that Marie rented it out for the entire night. It was all decked out for the occasion:

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I also enjoyed Marie’s sense of humour:

Woodman

Marie was also looking amazing for her big day. She had extensions in and was a total birthday fox. Mark said he may even need to make some inappropriate remarks to Cory about his mom; always a guy’s dream. At the beginning of the night she was going around introducing herself to people because some of the guests didn’t recognize her. I loved that.  I can only hope I’m looking that good when I turn 50!

While we waited for the ship to set sail, Markus and I had a little couple time at the front of the boat.

Mark and Dawn

And admired the beautiful waterfront of Port Perry:

Port Perry Waterfront

The weather was supposed to be a steady downpour, so when the sun ended up shining for most of the night, we were pretty happy about this. It also gave us a chance to admire the effects of the sunset on the skyline:

Sunset

We headed inside after chatting with some friends and Marie was cutting the cake. I tried to get a picture of her with her family and this is what I ended up with:

Family

So clearly that worked out well. I did do a little better though with the cake cutting picture:

Cake Cutting

And for a little close up on Marie’s cake, because yes, those are giant breasts frosted on top:

Funny Cake

This was totally my kind of cake. I loved it. I had a similar cake for my bridal shower last summer bit it was a little less appropriate, so I’ll leave it to your imagination. Let’s just say it featured a pair of men’s shorts on the beach with a little something peeking out of them 😉

After the cake there were a few drinks for the boys:

The Boys

Mark enjoys being the meat in a plaid sandwich. Wink Wink.

Then we headed upstairs to get down on the dance floor:

 

Dance Floor

At one point when we were downstairs getting a drink, the dancing upstairs was so wild that the entire roof was shaking. The older folks on the boat looked a little concerned but Mark and I ran right back up there to contribute to the noise.

And this is random but one of my favourite finds of the night….Marie had a bunch of DVDs of pictures that were playing on a TV on the boat. On the front of one of the DVDs is her husband from back in the day when he had a glorious 80’s mustache. I absolutely needed a picture of this:

Mustache

And you can tell the night then progressed into sloppiness for some people:

Chris Pinskey

I was DD, so drunk fools like this made my night. I also have a beautiful story with this young man from about three years ago featuring a blurry jeep ride, forgotten purse and an old, old man that I will tell one day when my life returns to curriculum and marking and I need to spice up the blog a bit.

While the mustache DVD was a highlight of the evening, the true treasure of the night was Barry, who had a real life mustache. Barry appeared to be the captain of the Woodman and I wasn’t too sure about him at first. He looked he could go either way on the niceness scale but he ended up being a gentleman and a scholar. After several attempts to get a picture with him (my camera was NOT co-operating in night mode) I finally managed to snap one of the two of us looking like we’re at prom together:

Barry

He did not give me that rose, Marie graciously provided them for all the ladies, but he did give me one of the balloons off of the Woodman. I treasured that balloon all weekend until it lost its air and had to go into the garbage. However, my memories of Barry will never end up in the trash. Mark was a little jealous but I told him, you can’t hold a playa like Barry down.

Tomorrow I will tell you the tale of the rest of the weekend, but it was a beautiful way to kick it off!

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.

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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?

 

A Whole Lot of Nothing

I feel very, very busy lately and the days seem to pass by in the blink of an eye but I don’t really know what I’ve been doing.

There’s definitely been a lot of this:

Pool

And trust me I’m not complaining but I am triste about how quickly summer vacay seems to go. Most of you probably want to kill me since I essentially have three months off but trust me, it goes by faster than I can sing ‘Summer Lovin’. So what have a I been up to? I have found myself asking this exact question.

After the Baby Miyou adventure I took it pretty easy on Saturday night. I was supposed to go to a BBQ hosted by my new friend Cheryl but it was not to be. Markus got called into work, which seems to be an annoying trend these days any time he is on call. Since he doesn’t actually fix the machines anymore I don’t know what good he is during one of these ’emergencies’. I just envision him standing around the factory floor yelling at everyone, but this is not his style, so I honestly don’t know what he does.

Sunday ended up being gorgeous, even though the weatherman predicted otherwise. We decided to have our friends Rob and Julie over for a swim and a family dinner a la Snookie and pals. Mark’s friend Chase popped also over randomly and I felt it was a little reminiscent of Steve Urkell popping in on the Winslows. Although he did not cause any property damage or hit on our teenage daughter.

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We had a delicious BBQ. Rob and Julie (or Khak and Kenny…long story) brought some meat and we had a salad…FRESH OUT OF OUR GARDEN!!!!! Yeahhhhh. So proud of our urban farming success.

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Julie also insisted that we add a decoration from our tiki hut to the table to make it more authentically tropical.

Tiki Hut

While we set the table, Mark and the boys were the grill masters.

Grilling BBQ

I really, really wish Mark had been wearing his grill apron. Which I think you will agree would have been more appropriate for this occasion than his Larry Bird shirt:

BBQ apron

Here our friend Khalil models the apron, as well as an inner tube and someone’s training bra.  I think you can agree it is quite fetching. I also see a Troy Junior photobomb in the background.

After dinner we lounged around and Khaki and Ken’s pup Hal romped in the backyard with Bolt and Miyou. Meaning we tried to keep Miyou calm and not rip a stitch, while Bolt mostly ignored both of them when possible.

HallieJulie said Hallie is terrible at posing for pictures but I seem to have the dog photog touch. Isn’t she a sweet pea?

Monday was another one of these with this gal:

Melissa and Dawn

I apologize I recycled the pic but it pretty much was exactly the same. It rained for a wee bit and we headed out to Ardene to get our shop on. Seriously….that store is my dream. It it the cheapest thing ever. Their clothes literally cost 5-20 dollars and will last you a couple of seasons. I feel like I completely freshened up my wardrobe for my upcoming trip to Calgary and it was less than $100.

Monday turned into Tuesday and besides reading a mind-numbing ‘female friendly’ book called Unsuitable Men, I didn’t do much until the afternoon when I decided it was time get off my ass and clean the house. Which is what I did for a solid few hours. Mark was working a shut down so I headed over to my friend Sherrie’s house with Emilio and we immersed ourselves in a delightful BBQ. While it mostly looked like this outside:

Source: http://www.funnyphotos.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/funny-pictures-raining.jpg

….it didn’t matter. We were all smiles as Sherrie regaled us with her antics from her recent trip to Thailand:

Girls

I was enthralled as Sherrie told us about ‘Thai showers’, lady boys, ping pong shows and all of the international friends that she made. I was also a little jealous and definitely wish that I could have gone with her. I was seriously, seriously considering going with her but her timing coincided with Focus on Learning and that was one professional obligation that I definitely had to keep. The pictures were beautiful and I can tell she had the time of her life. She is a very brave soul. There is no way I could backpack by myself through the US, let alone somewhere like Thailand but good on her!

After this little love-in I headed to the movies with Marks (remember…Tuesday’s cheap night) and met up with my sis and her boytoy Kyle.

Boy Toy

As you can see, I was definitely a creeper with this pic.

We went and saw World War Z, which Mark and I had both been dying to see since we saw previews for it a couple of months ago. I totally enjoyed every minute of it. I’m pretty easy when it comes to movies but this was definitely a winner for me. I liked Star Trek a lot but this movie was in a different category all togetha.  I love zombie movies and apocalypse movies, so this was a beautiful combination, particular since good old Brad Pitt makes a delicious appearance. While he has certainly aged and is not physically the divine specimen we knew and loved in Troy, he is an amazing actor and I think this is what made the difference for me between this and any other zombie movie I’ve seen in a while. All in all, I clearly recommend it if this kind of movie is your jam.

Today is another beauty. However, instead of lounging on my chair like a lady or leisure, I have decided to get acquainted with my good ol’ laptop and not just for blogging purposes….although I am acutely aware I’m currently blogging instead of doing my work…BUT I think this outside office thing is a step in the right direction.

Laptop

I even added our little tiki hut friend for that fun office vibe.

On that note, I’m going to get back to writing up my Pearson Publishing chapters and see where the afternoon takes me but I must say a big thank you for the distraction!

Just wondering: do you ever get to work from home? Do you have a job with flexibility? If so, do you often waste you time like me? (Shame on us.)

Melon’s Tantalizing 23rd

Yes, there are a lot of birthdays going down these days. As I mentioned yesterday, it was my sister’s b-day and obviously that needed to be celebrated.

To get a little healthy eating up in this blog, I started my morning off with this little gem:

Egg Omelette

I didn’t want to eat a lot because I knew the food consumption that evening was going to be spectacular.

Melon came over and we hung out a bit in the sunshiney weather for a while before my parents arrived around 5:30. As predicted, the food was dericious. That is not a typo. This is what we envision our dog Miyou thinking while she chows down her dinner in 9.7 seconds.

Thai Food

If you look to the left you can see that little pig. I know she was sniffing the air thinking, ‘dericious’.

It really was very, very good. We got it from Thai Hotspot, where I went with Mubeen and Alex last week. In fact, I think it is better than Azian, which is our usual standby. Sorry to rain on your parade Azian but it was cheaper, fresher and we had more leftovers when we were done.

We then got down to present opening because we wanted to delay the birthday cake serenading until Melon’s man arrived at our house.

Mel got some real gems, including a bacon card from my mother:

Bacon Card

Because she knows that Melon loves bacon:

Melon Bacon

My mom and dad also gave her some moolah and a gift certificate to her favourite boutique in Port Perry. I gave Melon the stupid part of her gift on the weekend, so tonight she received a very serious Kitchen Aid hand mixer, a book on the psyche of dogs (because she’s as much of a dog lover as me) and a BBQ lighter. She was the most excited about the lighter. Haha. She is afraid to use the mini lighters to light her candles so she was pretty excited about this easy to use version. I told her it was from the Dollar Store and I’m pretty sure I can afford to give her another one in the future.

GiftsAt this point Kyle arrived and gave Melon two gifts, one thoughtful and one hilarious. He gave her tickets to Medieval Times because she has never been; thoughtful. He also gave her this little beauty:

Ship for the Pool

Hilarious. It is an inflatable pirate ship for the pool. It has a gun on the front that collects water from the pool and shoots it out at all unsuspecting bathers. Kyle topped off the gift with a couple of swords. This was basically Melons dream.

Once we got finished singing Happy Birthday and Melissa did an attractive job of blowing out the candles on her Dairy Queen ice cream cake:

Birthday Candles

…..Mel decided it was time to test out her new water vehicle:

Melon in her ship

She is the most beautiful pirate I’ve ever seem.

Now on a final note and perhaps my favourite picture of the evening, we also celebrated Father’s Day with Melon’s b-day, as we have often done in the past. My parents were in Guelph this weekend and it just seemed like a good idea to do a combo. My dad removed his hat to be a gent during dinner and he revealed the most gorgeous tan pattern I’ve ever seen on a semi-bald head:

Bald Head

It looks like an arrow! We were all dying. The picture really did it justice too. I want to convince him to keep it up and perhaps make it even more prominent. What do you think? Is there another pattern you would prefer to see on my father? I’m sure he could do something in a diamond or a flower.

I love my little Melon and she loves moustaches, so this makes her a girl after my own heart. I’m glad I got to celebrate her b-day twice this week!

Melon

Do you have any siblings? Are you super close? I’d love to hear some sibling stories if you’re willing to share with the world.

Kick-Ass Colleagues and a Beautiful Day by the Pool

So I haven’t just been making food lately, I do a lot of ‘stuff’. On Tuesday night Markus and I planned a movie date. Not only because it had been a few weeks since we’ve been, but I LOVE Tuesday movie nights. If you go to Cineplex its $5.95. However, we ended up at Empire Theaters and while the discount was not quite as significant, it was still cheaper than their usual, ridiculous prices. Because of Mark’s annoying inconsistent hockey schedule we had to go to the 3D one as well, but considering we were going to see this:

Source: http://commyfilmguy.blogspot.ca/2013/05/star-trek-into-darkness.html

…I felt like 3D would not be wasted and this assumption was verrrry correct. Now, I have no issues admitting I’m a bit of a Trekkie. I’ve seen every single episode of Star Trek the Next Generation and all of the times that Family Guy has made fun of Warf on the show:

Source: http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/250×250/28655460.jpg

I’ve seen a few of the older Star Trek series as well but it is not readily available on Net Flix, so I would say this has been the biggest deterrent in me seeing all five seasons. I’ve also seen several of the older movies and obviously the first of the new Star Trek revamps. The second didn’t disappoint. I’m really not sure which one I liked more. I love action/futuristic movies to begin with, so coupled with this genre and Spock‘s Vulcan death grip, it really couldn’t fail….and the new Kirk is looking pretty good, so even if you can’t stand these movies, you can always fall back on this. I rate the movie 8 beam me ups out of 10.

On the way out I took my Student ID card for Monster’s University:

Monsters Inc

Now, what I suspect will be the highlight of my week; I had a bunch of ladies over from my work for a pool party yesterday. I know all of these girls from different facets of the college and we all know each other in some way but I thought it would be good to get ‘the under 30’ club together to get to know each other on a different level. It’s easy to talk shop with someone who works in the same field as you but it’s not always as easy to get to know each other on a more personal level; so I was hoping to accomplish this mission yesterday.

Obviously with a girl’s day you are going to end up with a smorgasbord of food:

Food

There was a nice mix of healthy and indulgent. Almost everyone had a couple of plates because you can’t go wrong filling up on fruit, veggies and hummus. My friend Kimi also brought guac straight from Jimmy Guaco’s…so I definitely took some tips on the consistency and flavour for my next guacamole attempt.

It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day for this. It rained Monday, Tuesday and today but Wednesday was a big ball of this:

sunny-dayMost of the girls came between 1-2.

Girls Day

And as you can see, not a cloud in the sky. Even the gardens were in full bloom for their arrival:

Garden

We spent the first part of the afternoon chatting and eating and then we headed over to the pool.

Pool Day

and so did Bolt.

My mom got the dogs this ball that floats on the top of the water and Bolt really, really wanted that ball. However, he couldn’t quite figure out that he had to get in the pool, swim over to the ball and retrieve it. Not his most brilliant moment. So he pretty much spent the entire afternoon at the steps smacking the water with his paw and craning his neck as if the ball would magically end up in his mouth this way. He was definitely the clown at the party.

Bolt

Later he snuggled right up to Kristen and pretty much took over his towel but it was confirmed, Bolt loves his ladies.

When Mark got home from work we took advantage of the giant boulders in the backyard and got an expertly posed ladies picture.

Ladies by the Pool

And of course, Bolt got right in there. After this, most of the girls went home and the clouds actually rolled in (I told you, perfect weather!) and Alex, Mubeen and I headed out for dinner. Alex got to the party a little late because she had to work until 4 and I really wanted to catch up with her since she had some exciting news; she’s newly engaged! Her mom and my grandma are also friends, so I knew all about this but I wanted to hear some of the details straight from her. We had a lovely chat and some really good Thai food. I live close to Thai Hotspot so we decided to head there. It has bad reviews online but I don’t really understand this. The food is good, it’s well priced and the service is friendly and efficient. I had Malaysia Noodles and if I was smart and took a picture it would have looked like this:

Source: http://rasamalaysia.com/uploaded_images/fried_vermicelli/friedricevermicelli2.jpg

It was also good to have a sit down with Mubeen. We did our Master’s together and I lovingly refer to her as my ‘M.Ed. Bestie’. Now that she works at the same college as me I get to see her on a semi-regular basis and that makes me a happy gal 🙂

Overall it was a great day, not only weather wise but with the company as well. I feel like I accomplished my mission of getting everyone together and getting to know each other on a non-teaching related level. One thing we definitely all agreed on, we love our jobs! In what other field are you going to be able to get together on a random Wednesday and eat, drink and be merry around the pool?  We’re planning on doing it all again in July 🙂

Do you love your job? Your colleagues? Any uplifting work stories out there? I’d love to hear them.

Whaddya Eating Wednesday? Three Meals for a Healthy, Hump Day

Today I’m going to reveal two of my favourite recipes from long, long ago (and one newbie from just last week) . The first two hold a special place in my heart and stomach because they are mine, not a slight variation on something I’ve seen somewhere or heard about and tried; they are 80% Donald. Of course their base did not appear from thin air, I’m not this guy:

…..but they have been so drastically altered that I feel confident claiming them as mine.

Recipe #1 – Quinoa Stir Fry

The first is my quinoa ‘stir fry’. I don’t really know what else to call something where the ingredients have just been thrown together, so I think this works. I could get fancy and call it a quinoa medley or some nonsense but that would not sound like me.

So…Step 1 – You cook two or three cups of quinoa (depending on how many leftovers you want). It’s easiest to use a bag of already strained quinoa but the Bulk Barn variety works as well, it’s just a little more work.

Step 2 – While you are cooking up the quinoa, cut up about a cup of onion and a few cloves of garlic and saute it for about 5 minutes in olive oil.

Step 3 – Next, throw in a bag of shrimp. I used a bag of smaller, pre-shelled ones but the larger variety is always the most delicious option. Squeeze some fresh lemon on the shrimp while they cook with the onion and garlic.

Step 4 – Chop up two cups of fresh, baby spinach and add to the pan. At this point you can also add broccoli, mushroom, peppers, whatever your little heart desires. I usually add mushroom and broccoli.

Step 5 – Once everything is cooked up, mix in the quinoa. At this point you may need to add more olive oil depending on the level of moisture in the pan.

Step 6 – Add a small container of sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and a dash of salt and pepper throughout the mixture and stir into the stir fry.

Step 7 – Dole out your portions! I usually add Parmesan cheese to the top as well. This particular time around the lid fell off on me and it was an explosion but I scraped quite a bit onto Mark’s plate and saved the meal from being a cheesey disaster.

The end result should look something like this, albeit with a little less Parmesan.

Quinoa

The above recipe should yield you two dinners and a lunch. Obviously if you want lots of leftovers to freeze you can just double up on the ingredients.

Recipe #2 – Spinach, Artichoke and Crab Dip

My other tried and true recipe is spinach, artichoke and crab dip. It has affectionately been dubbed another term after my friend Joanna gave me a phallic shaped baking pan a while ago and I insisted on making the dip in that pan and that pan only. However, I got over my rigid ways and now make it in a variety of oven-safe containers. So we shall call it by it’s proper, sophisticated name.

Step One – Soften and stir together two bars of light cream cheese. Add 1/2 cup – 1 cup light mayo.

Cream Cheese

Step 2 – Chop up a few cloves of garlic and a couple slices of onion and throw in with the cream cheese mixture. Be careful with the onion! It can really make or break the recipe.

Step 3 – Add two cups of fresh, baby spinach.

Spinach Dip

Step 4 – Add one chopped up package of artificial crab or lobster.

Step 5 – Add 3 or 4 artichokes (or the equivalent of one small jar).

Step 6 – Mix all of these ingredients together and add to a  well-greased baking pan. Top with light mozzarella or cheddar cheese.

Spinach and Crab Dip

Step 7 – Heat oven to 400 and cook for 10-20 minutes depending on how hot you want the dip to be. We like ours to be a little browned on the top.

Dip

Step 8 – Serve with some kind of cracker or chip. We like to use Parmesan Garlic Triscuits or Whole Grain Tostitos chips.  Enjoy!

Recipe #3 – Chili Chicken

Last week I decided to try something new with chicken. Mark and I have discussed the age old question, ‘If you could eat one food and one food only for the rest of your life, what would you pick?’ I chose pizza and Mark picked chicken, not only because we love them but also because there is a lot of versatility in both of these foods. You can top a pizza with anything and you can do about a million things with chicken…so it might be cheating a bit but luckily for us I don’t think we will ever have to truly face this one food forever conundrum.

Since I made mini pizzas last week, I decided on chicken this week. I found a recipe for white, chili chicken in the four-hour body cookbook: http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/50061547?access_key=key-1ir8bokpi5af144q4mfd

Step 1 – Much like the recipes above you want to cut up some onion (a whole small one is what I used) as well as 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and sauté them in olive oil until translucent.

Step 2 – While you sauté these you should cook up the chicken.

Chicken

Step 3 – After your onions and garlic are ready to roll, add whatever other veggies you like in your chili. I added red pepper and mushrooms.

Veggies

Step 4 – I then added a package of tofu to the mixture and several seasonings. I used cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper, all to taste. I’m not a precise chef but usually it turns out just fine.

DSCN0174

Step 5 – I then added a can of diced tomatoes, the cooked chicken, a can of corn and a variety of beans. I used a can of kidney beans, black beans and lentils.

Chili

Step 6 – Finally, I added 3/4 of a box of chicken broth and added a little more of the spices above to taste.  You bring this all to a boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours.

White Chili Chicken

Step 7 – Dish our your portions and top with cheese if so desired 🙂

Chili

For a new recipe, I was pleasantly surprised. I definitely messed around with the ingredients and steps and it all worked out for the best. We got two dinners out of this and I froze enough for another two dinners. Really, of any of the recipes above, this was the best bang for my buck but I’m not going to tell you which one if my favourite because I want you to try them all 🙂

Let me know if you try any of these and how it goes. But first, what’s your favourite recipe and one you’re proud to call ‘your own’?

 

‘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!!

Resisting Temptation

I have to say a big thank you to this blog because it is really helping me stay on track and resist big, bad, temptation in many forms. I wanted to outline a few of these successes to hopefully encourage myself and maybe some others to continue making good choices. The biggest temptation I have been encountering lately is not going to the gym. I really don’t like the gym; it is not my dream. However, it wasn’t always this way. It used to be a big part of my life. I went 6 times a week and I absolutely loved it. I have an addictive personality and this became my strange addiction…not to be confused with:

Source: http://www.pleated-jeans.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/flyingscotsman.png

but I think a healthier addiction and one that was certainly good for my body. However, at the height of my gym love I had an altercation with my mother over me going to the gym versus working on our rental property and my love for the gym slowly died. Not only did I get out of my zone this summer but I’ve also associated copious amounts of gym time with selfishness and fighting with Brennie. Not a happy correlation. For the last year getting to the gym has been like pulling teeth. I finally signed up for a very cheap personal training package at the gym,  8 – half hour sessions and these have forced me to get there twice a week. However, these sessions are now gone and I was a little worried. Last week Mark and I made a date to go to the gym on Wednesday and I REALLY didn’t want to go. I was up early and in a curriculum mapping session all day and I felt like a zombie by 4PM but….I resisted the temptation to not go! This workout momentum then led to a wog (walk/jog) and weights on Thursday and me fitting in a 30-45 minute swim session on Friday and Saturday.

I also find that workout momentum leads you to make better food decisions. It really is a beautiful but sometimes viscous cycle because it works the other way as well. But so far it’s been a positive force for me. At work last week, someone shoved a box of these in my face at least three times and tried to force me to take one:

Source: http://cdni.wired.co.uk/620×413/d_f/doughnuts.jpg

Temptation resisted! It was also the weekend which usually means that healthy eating goes right out the window but instead of frozen pizza or take out, Mark and I had healthy meals the entire weekend. Now, I will admit, after the Brooklin Fair, a Junior Chicken was consumed but I really didn’t feel bad about this. It could have been an entire Big Mac meal! It also didn’t start a tidal wave of crap eating like these ‘cheats’ can sometimes do. I knew I had worked out that day and eaten well so it was OK to have something not so healthy and Sunday we got right back on track.

I am now at my professional development retreat and you can bet there are lots of these:

Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-r5veZQJ9HN4/Tv6l8bLnxhI/AAAAAAAACe0/LvrgtL_H6zg/s1600/plate_of_cookies.jpg

and these:

Source: http://www.wepridefest.com/default/assets/Image/Lakeside%20Bakery.jpg

and guess what? Temptation resisted! I did eat a piece of cheesecake last night but to be fair, I didn’t eat much of a main meal. They served roast beef, which I detest and the vegetarian counterpart was rather inedible. So along with a strawberry salad and some mashed potatoes I had cheesecake for dinner. But what can you do? The options here are a little limited. I just felt good because by 7PM last night I could have consumed 5 cookies and 3 scones and a piece of cheesecake and before, I probably would have.

So thanks to the blog process and to the people I know are reading it, you’re helping me resist temptation, one small step at a time 🙂