Sunday, September 06, 2009

are you on the registry?

It's still hard to believe this wonderful woman won't be celebrating our wedding with us and that we won't be visiting her to take the wine tour we planned. I miss you E.

A Perfect Match

Friday, August 14, 2009

ring shopping in saskatoon

H is all of a sudden really showing me up in the blogging department...

It's 90% wedding stuff around these parts these days. I'm fairly determined to have pretty much everything done before I go back to school, since I'm pretty certain September is going to blink by in about 3 days.

One of the things we'd left a little on the late side was finding/getting our wedding bands. We both had a fairly specific idea on what we wanted, but weren't sure if what we though we wanted would actually be what we wanted once we saw it. So, one evening in the 45min after H got off work and before we met my dad for supper we zipped around and looked at rings at People's, Ben Moss & Heinrick's. H managed to figure out what features he liked in a ring, but those features did not exist anywhere in one ring. Me, I was totally out of luck. Apparently women only want different sized versions of the exact same diamond band these days. Bleh.

Just in case, I took a quick trip to GMG the next day solo (since this was where my engagement ring came from) to see if they had anything a little closer to what I was hoping to find. Unfortunately, the sales lady there must have been new since she treated me like a total alien for wanting to modify/have a ring made. She also told me tall tales of the months and months I'd need to wait to have it done. H had my engagement ring custom made there and it took no time at all. So little time that he had to leave it in the store for awhile cause he knew as soon as he had it he'd want to give it to me. Stupid woman.

All of this landed us in the office of Ken Paulson. We told him what we wanted and in less than 30 mins he'd designed two rings for us that were a combination of what we liked and of what he knew would look good. He'd also cut my ring in half and taken it away from me. Would have likely paid to see my face after that little manoeuvre. Thankfully he returned it the next day clean and fitting better than ever. In one day (!) he was also able to show me the almost completed wax mock-ups for both our rings. Compared to everywhere else we went, working with Ken was awesome. He wasn't pushy, his jaw didn't hit the floor when I said I didn't want diamonds, he was fun to work with and he was right on budget. Can't wait to see the finished rings when he gets back from holidays!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the swine

H and I both got sick very soon after our trip to New York. Because I (genetically) am lacking some tact and sensitivity and just generally don't know when to keep my mouth shut, we joked that we came home with the swine flu. Har har. Or oink oink rather.

Well wouldn't you know, H1N1 is now rampant in Saskatoon, and I'm fairly certain that this time around I actually have it. I'd just like to say it was more fun as a joke. Seriously, the speed at which this thing went through my school was frightening to say the least, even more so when doctors are more concerned about what the fall version of this bad boy is going to look like. I feel particularly bad for a friend of ours who it would appear I infected simply by looking at him at a wedding we both attended on the weekend. Sorry! Maybe you'll thank me if we're resistant in the fall?

One of the symptoms they forget to list on the WHO website is a little something I'd like to call "brain meltdown." It occurs when you have H1N1, but don't get in quite as much sleep or napping as you'd like. If calling it brain meltdown doesn't suit you, you can also call it "test your relationship with your ridiculousness." To his list of accolades, H can now add being very tolerant and patient towards a totally delusional and illogical fiancee for a week. He's going to be great with a toddler.

While I don't think I'll be running out to buy a "I survived H1N1" or "I survived The Swine" I am happy to be on the mend. Having the flu, no matter how novel a flu, is after all, having the flu.

Monday, June 08, 2009

a world of hurt

In the interest of staying healthy, I occasionally entertain the idea of "working out." Problem is, I don't enjoy most activities that fall under the large umbrella of "exercise." I'm embarrassingly terrible at most sports. I mean, I suppose I'm at an age where there must be people who have become equally as terrible, but I'm too lazy to search out the options for this. I hate running. Rach tried to get me into it on multiple occasions, and I just can't do it. I don't mind going to the gym, but without a partner I wind up never making it and regretting paying for the membership. I like walking, but in terms of exercise, I feel like I should do something a little more strenuous than the mall walkers. In the last two years I have discovered a love of yoga, but H and I decided we would do it together at home instead of paying the insane class costs, only to find out that according to H "the roof is too low" and that we'd need to get the hardwood in upstairs before that was really an option.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. There are a few of us at work who for various reasons are there everyday til 5. The trend of P90X seemed to be going around, so we figured we'd give it a try. It had the elements I need - different things everyday, cardio and weights and a partner to do it with on most days. It also had a lean program option, which appealed to my girly self. We even agreed that we'd have a standing deal that whoever didn't stick to the program on our alone days would have to buy the other person lunch on Fridays.

Well the first day was "Core Synergistics." We had a great laugh at the never ending stream of warnings that precede each of the tapes, one of them saying something to the likes of "If you don't meet the minimum fitness requirement, P90X is not for you." Well, within 30 minutes I was rolling on the floor laughing at my inability to do anything, between giggles stating that "I don't think I meet the minimum fitness requirements!" We finished up to the best of our ability, and somewhere out came my stubbornness deciding that "dammit, I can do this."

Before I got too attached to my decision to see this ridiculous program through, I thought I'd look up the minimum fitness requirement. They might as well say if you can breath, you'll be fine. 3 push ups from your knees, an attempt at a chin-up and a stretch and jump test that anyone with regular mobility would have no problem with. OMG. 3 girl push ups is supposed to get me through AN HOUR of push-ups? And not just regular push-ups, all sorts of bizarro variations to make them harder than regular push-ups. Oh lord.

I made it through day 2, and day 3 and all of week 1. Turns out that first day is the hardest of the week. And, I felt great! Everyday I was waking up with energy, instead of cursing my alarm clock like usual. My partner however, had decided that it was maybe just a little too much and jumped ship, opting for a different program to follow. Luckily, H decided he needed in on the fun, and joined in for week 2. Week 2 did not see the same benefits in energy as week 1. In fact, week 2 became increasingly more difficult.

Today was the first day of my week 3. I'm not hurting nearly as much as I was, and I'm starting to notice some improvement in what and how much I can do. However, my muscles are so tired it's ridiculous. H and I are sad sad sights. Today we're hobbling around like 80 year olds just out of hip replacement surgery. Not going to lie, I'm totally looking forward to my recovery week next week, even if it is just 6 days of slightly less intense working out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

things i am currently annoyed at

  1. Facebook asking me everyday "WILL YOUR DRESS FIT?!?"
    Now I am sure the makers of that particular advertisement are not actually yelling at me, but seeing that ad everyday for the last 8 months sure makes me feel like they are. Also, I feel annoyed that if someone keeps asking that question, you eventually start to wonder. Why are you trying to give me issues facebook? Why? I don't need to have body issues AND my dress will fit. You know, cause it has an adjustable back.
  2. Ridiculous articles on how to save money while planning your wedding during the recessions.
    At first glance this wouldn't seem like it was something that was annoying. And I keep reading them because I keep hoping they might be helpful. Wrong. Saving 10K on a 100K wedding is not "saving money during the recession" it's being 99.5 percent stupid instead of 1oo. Gah.
  3. The weather.
    nuff said.
  4. My neighbours garbage.
    Seriously, these people produce more garbage than a small apartment complex. The piles of trash behind your garbage can annoy me, and not just because it's sorta gross. It's 2009, RECYCLE. Something. I know we have to pay for our blue boxes, but as soon as we started using it we were down to one bag of garbage a week. If we get a compost box from the city, I'm not even sure we'll have garbage. Start small. Just start please.

Friday, May 01, 2009

must have fallen asleep during the training video...

(Yes I am going to totally pretend like it hasn't been ages since I posted last.)

Originally when we were making plans for our kitchen renos, H and I decided we would wait to replace our fridge.  Since there was nothing actually wrong with ours, waiting 6ish months to change it out would be no big deal.  We did need to replace our dishwasher and microwave however, and unfortunately this means shopping for the fridge first since it's the largest appliance and in the end we wanted them all to match.  We would randomly go look at appliances, and change our minds about which one we liked best and what features were most important every time we went to a store.

Fast forward to the kitchen install - interest rates were essentially zero and our old fridge looked absolutely ridiculous in the very large hole we had left for our would be fridge.  We decided to replace everything but the stove.  Now that we were seriously looking for a fridge, we quickly realised what our priorities were and that our options were very limited so we started shopping around to make sure we knew what all the counter-depth options out there were.

We hit up all the local stores first, and then made our way to Sears.  It was scratch and save days at Sears and they were having some kind of appliance sale on top of that, so we were looking to see if anything we had seen elsewhere was on sale.  While standing in front of one of our options, a rather pricey Jenn-Air, we were approach by a salesman.  We quickly told him what we were looking for - counter-depth, French doors, stainless - and asked what else in store fit that description.  

Oh, he said, we don't really have much that fits that description, but I do have this Samsung over here on sale for $1700.  
Yeah, we're really looking for something that's counter-depth we replied.
Yeah, but this Samsung is a great deal for $1700,
Yes, but we are also looking for French doors.
But it's $1700!
I think we'll keep looking around...

It was at this point that we bolted towards the exit, shaking our heads at how embarrassingly incompetent this man was.  I mean, it's great that he wanted to save us some money, but he clearly hasn't figured out how his commission works.  

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

save the date

Check it out, it's my first officially completed wedding project! I totally love them, and wish we were sending them to everyone instead of just people who might need a hotel. Stupid budget.

Friday, February 13, 2009

typical, really

If you weren't aware (and I'm assuming most of you weren't) Saskatoon Public and Regina Public became "partners in learning" at the end of last year.  My understanding was that this partnership was to support both divisions  in their pursuits of renewing their respective collegiates, and the practices that occur there.

You can imagine how dismayed I was, to hear that after visiting with presumably the downtown voices of Collegiate Renewal, all the deputy director took away was that Regina Public was ahead of Saskatoon Public because Saskatoon just built two brand new schools, using the exact same blue prints.  This is 100% true, there is one extra locker in Tommy Douglas compared to Centennial.  Now, I by no means support how the new schools were designed, or that to save money the possibility of making improvements to the original plans for the second school wasn't even considered.  However, the deputy director's statement underlines (at least) two huge misunderstandings about what Collegiate Renewal is.

1)  If, the partnership with Regina was forged as part of our system's plan for Collegiate Renewal, there should be no competition between our divisions.  It's not about who's "further ahead," it should be about using our shared experiences to learn and grow to be better educators.  There has been a large focus about minimizing the competitiveness that can occur between Collegiates in the city so we can focus on collaborating instead of worrying about enrollment numbers.  It seems like a  ridiculous waste of energy to compete with a Division that we don't even share students with when the reality is both Division have extremely large amounts of work to do in regards to updating their practices.

2)  If the deputy director had spent any amount of time with the research on successfully engaging students in their learning, he would be aware that while the physical shell of the school can have an impact on student engagement, it is one of the least cost efficient way to approach engaging students and does not guarantee to engage at all.  If he truly wanted to have a meaningful "competition" with us, I would much prefer he start talking about how much more comfortable his teachers are with new instructional practices, with new assessment models, with responsive programming that respects student needs, with superior professional learning opportunities for staff, essentially with anything a little more substantive than "we're going to build better buildings."  You can have the nicest, most functional, most modern building in the world and if your teachers are still teaching like it is 1851 what good does it do anyone?

Now, I am sure the deputy director thinks in a way that is slightly more advanced that "our buildings are better than theirs," but his comparison undermines all the work teachers here and in Regina are doing.  The programming being put into place in his new building is far more important than the building that houses it.  If our jobs are reduced down to no better than the buildings and equipment we have to work with, the possibilities for improvement are few and our efforts quite futile.  I think I prefer my visions for Collegiate Renewal, and in that respect, you are way behind Mr. Deputy Director.  Luckily, Collegiate Renewal is about learning and growing, so there's a chance you can join us sometime in the (hopefully) near future.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

the not quite conculsion

Hoorah!! Marks are in, comments are finished, and it's officially the start of second semester.

Even though they had already negotiated their marks prior to the final, no one in my gr 10 class blew out their final. In fact, only one student was out by over 10% which if compared to a regular classroom and final exam marks almost never happens. I'm not sure if this is because they prepared well knowing they needed to support their chosen mark or if they spent more time during the semester learning concepts so the final seemed easier. Right now I'm so burnt out I'm not sure I care, mostly I'm just relieved this experiment didn't turn into a disaster at the last minute.

Unfortunately this process really highlights the many flaws in my assessment and evaluation practices. Not to mention the very way most of my lessons are constructed and the activities that support. It's big work, overwhelming work, and the frustrating part is "doing little things" as everyone suggests is hard. Doing it all is impossible. So I guess the little things will have to do for now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An open letter...

To ridiculous co-worker,

I am inquiring as to who exactly you thought would be sympathetic to your incessant bitching today.  You were incredibly vocal at being displeased at having to mark 18, single page (double sided granted) modified math exams.  IT'S FINALS.  Over 90 staff members in our building are  busy marking exams.  The majority of the classes have a minimum of 30 students.  Aside from some sigh-ing, there was no complaining.  You know, because it's their job.  If you did yours, maybe this wouldn't seem like such a burden to you.

She who DID NOT mark your exams for you (even though you tried to make her)

P.S.  We all also have a lot of meetings to go to at this time of year, so you likely shouldn't complain about that either.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the interviews

It's finally the time where I had to sit down and negotiate a mark with my gr 10 students. The whole idea made me nervous as who knew what they would say. Would they have greatly overinflated perceptions of their abilities? Would they not take it seriously and just randomly pick a number hoping I would do the "hard part" for them?

I'm about halfway done, and neither of the issues have come up. What have come up are different issues, ones that simultaneously make me feel terrible about the whole process and reassure me that though there are a whole lot of changes that need to be made, this is a step in the right direction.

It had been my observation that marks often get in the way of students really focusing on what they did or didn't know. The number was all they would look at when I gave them back a test or assignment. This semester, my gr 10s had a lot more conversations about what they knew, and what they were still working on. In a class of 33, a very minimal number or students shirked the task of "doing more" when they didn't fully understand a concept, the vast majority of students were quite proactive about redoing questions, getting help, and redoing evaluations. I don't think any of these students are functioning at a level where they would not be successful with traditional evaluations. Anticipating this from the beginning, it never occurred to me just how terrible I would feel asking them to numerically quantify a learning process. Especially when I think about how incompetent I felt helping them along.

I have one student who has not been able to give herself a mark. When we first sat down, I could tell she was very uncomfortable, so we talked a little and she eventually told me "I'm an 80-85 student." A large part of her identity is wrapped up somewhere between those 2 numbers. Anything less than an 80 is cause for a mini-identity crisis and she has no real desire to try to push herself. A 90 is nice, but elusive and almost magical. When I tried to get her to look at her portfolio to talk about what she had been able to show mastery of, she was absolutely lost - not even able to identify what were concepts we spent more time on as a starting point.

Another student's performance was all over the place, but he's had many difficulties with exams - making evaluating his performance more difficult since there are discrepancies between what he does during class time, and what he does on exams. He did a whole lot of extra work at home, and I honestly believe he understands more than he has shown. That considered, I'm not sure he can produce work to quite the level he imagines - yet. He too has a large part of his identity wrapped up in these numbers, and having to assign a number based on performance this early, relative to his learning seems like it will cause more harm than create motivation.

Many teachers, parents and students will argue that grades are necessary and difficult as it may be to believe, I used to be a student who would fight for every last percent and always wanted to know the class average. Once you start looking at the alternatives however, it seems the numbers really fall short of communicating much of anything.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

le cafe

I love coffee.  Pretty much everything about it really - the way it smells, tastes, even just having the warm mug in my hands makes me happy.  Considering this, I don't drink a whole lot of it - typically one mug in the morning when I get to work, and somedays a second in the later part of the morning or early afternoon if I'm cold.

I do however, typically feel terrible in the mornings.  This, I attribute to the very nature of mornings, not a lack of caffeine.  However, not having done proper research this may be a faulty conclusion.  So, I have decided not to drink coffee for the next week, possibly two, to see if it makes getting up any easier.  

I'm biased to hope it won't, cause I will miss my morning coffee, but willing to test it out just in case.  An no, just going to bed earlier is not being considered as a variable for this experiment.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

a wedding related post, dun dun dun

I've been thinking I should post about the wedding planning process for awhile now since I'd like to have some memory of it in a few years, but have been far too lazy. December can do that to a person. Tonight we went to see "Seven Pounds" and one of the previews just happened to be for "Bride Wars" and it pushed me over the edge.

I know, I know, this movie is supposed to be funny because it's so over the top and ridiculous, but I just can't get behind re-enforcing and even encouraging the trend for crazy, over the top, weddings that have nothing to do with getting married and everything to do with status and showing off.

Right after (and who am I kidding, before) we got engaged I started looking at wedding blogs & websites for ideas for our wedding. It didn't take me long to figure out this is essentially the female equivalent of porn. It's just all so pretty! I mean, who doesn't love a perfectly decorated room, with matching linens, gorgeous centerpieces, matching letter pressed menus and a "lounge" area with new furniture and accessories. If you're not careful, you could even start to believe that this is totally normal and even expected for a wedding.

Until you make up your budget of course. Make up your budget and then figure out just what that dollar amount gets you in wedding-land. If your budget looks anything like ours, it's not a whole heck of a lot. The real brain blowing part comes when you try and calculate what the cost of these "Real Weddings" featured across the interweb must be. This part, this is where my brain explodes. These "Real Weddings" rarely come with a price tag less that $50 000, and I think in many cases that's a very conservative estimate.

Not only do they cost ridiculous amounts of money, but they are all about "the invitations," "the cake," "the florals," etc. There's a piece of the trailer for "Bride Wars" where the vendor for the hotel asks both brides if they'd like to consult their husbands to be about the date they are choosing for their weddings and with barely a hesitation both girls give a firm N-O. Because clearly the fantasy wedding that happens at the Plaza after receiving the ginormous Tiffany's ring clearly has nothing to do with their husbands at all. They are simply another accessory that will be perfectly decorated for the day.

I don't know how anyone justifies spending the equivalent of a serious down payment on a home on one day. There are some who say if you have it to spend then why not, and I agree with this to a certain extent. I understand being too lazy to shop around, too busy to do some things yourself, but the sheer waste on one day still doesn't make any sense - especially when many couple put themselves into serious debt for their weddings. We all know where those $3000 invites wind up, and just how many days does $5000 worth of flowers last for anyway?

Don't get me wrong, we are putting some effort into making things look pretty. It is however, more comparable to the kind of pretty you'd make your table for Christmas or someone's birthday, just slightly larger scale. Also, I love paper, so the whole "need to make invites" thing is right up my alley to obsess over - just not in the $3000 obsess kind of way. But what am I really expending all my wedding related brain energy on? How to have a ceremony that's meaningful to us. How to spend as much time as possible with our guests. How to properly celebrate with those people who are close to us the commitment to one another that we are making, the beginning of our married lives and just how much we appreciate the support from everyone present that helped us to this point. Oh yes, and of course, how to do this on budget.

You see, I can't help but think that if we thought a little bit more about the marriage, and a little less about the wedding our marriages on the whole would be a little more successful. Or at least that's what I'm hoping for.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

happy 2009

I was thinking I would sit down today to do a reflection on how I fared with last year's resolutions. Then I realized going through the archives it would appear I didn't make any, at least not publicly on this blog. And if I made them personally, I don't remember what they were. So much for the reflection plan.

However, 2008 was a pretty crazy year for me both personally and professionally. Ringing in the New Year last year at a wedding with H, dating for just barely a month, I never would have imagined how different our lives would be this year at the same time.

Things I did for the first time in 2008:
  • rode a zip line
  • bought a house
  • painted a deck
  • hosted a party where guests really were expected to bring nothing
  • visited Wilkie
  • learned how to ballroom dance
  • agreed with a student that my assignment was unnecessary
  • traveled to Chicago
  • got engaged
  • bought shoes on the internet
  • took a real summer holiday
  • stuck to my Christmas budget
  • watched live election coverage (twice!)
I actually think this list is a little longer but I can't seem to remember anything else right now. Here's to 2009 being yet another year of firsts!