Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The First Day of School

As the title suggests, it was the first day of school for students today.  It was a very nice day for me as I mostly have higher level classes which means I know almost everyone.  I only had three new students today and the rest were familiar faces.  For those of you who don't know, I teach EAL or English as an Additional Language in a high school.  I only teach students who come from different countries and I am convinced that my job is one of the best ever.  I get to teach kids who want to be at school (generally) and value the educational opportunities they are provided with.  This doesn't make them perfect.  I still struggle with getting students to do their homework and finish assignments.  However, it sure does make life interesting.  I get to learn all about different cultures and languages.  I also create very meaningful connections with my students as I teach them for several years in many cases.Even once they take regular classes, I often see them again for tutorial classes where I assist them with homework.  I have several students come and visit me even when I don't teach them anymore and it kind of feels like a family.  In a sense, we are a family as I am one of the few Canadians they know or feel comfortable communicating with when they first arrive in the country. 

So the first day is out of the way...and hopefully the nerves are out of the way..for the students that is.  I am not really nervous anymore when it comes to teaching kids.  However, I am nervous that the daycare will call me at any moment and expect me to pick up my child while I'm working. I think this must be the worry of every working parent.  I have yet to find a solution..and am starting to discover that there may not be one.  Someone told me that they used to live in a city that had emergency babysitting services.  I would be very interested in this sort of service if anyone in Regina is willing to start a new venture!  I think there's a huge market for it..it's not my thing but I'd be a potential customer for sure.

I'll stop rambling now...next up, day two of classes.  Tomorrow is a normal day..today was more of an orientation.  Then, I've got my first Masters class of the semester coming up tomorrow night.  We shall see how this working/university/mom of two lifestyle goes.  So far, the running training seems to be suffering...only 12 days until the half marathon.  I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed these days!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Mistura Beauty Solutions Giveaway Winners are...

Congrats to Christine Davis, Louise Gilbert, and Vanessa!  I'll send out e-mails tomorrow and connect you with Mistura so you can receive your prizes.

Thanks to everyone that entered the giveaway!  Just a reminder that they currently have a promotion if you order through their website.  Mistura is offering my readers a 25% discount code when you order through their website at www.misturabeauty.com.  The coupon code is: IS25

Mistura is also now available in many stores including Sears, Rexall and even Costco.ca so keep an eye out for it.  As I said in the review, it's quite subtle but it really does make a difference and it's quick and easy to apply.

Watch for more great giveaways in the days to come..I've got a few things lined up and am excited to share some more lovely businesses.  Please be patient with me as I go back to school and work tomorrow and also back to university next week so life will be busy.  I still plan on finding time for my blog though! 

Also, I'd really appreciate your continued votes on Top Mommy Blogs.  It's all about consistent voting.  You can vote once a day and it makes a huge difference in the rankings.  Thanks in advance!

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School (Work) Shopping!

I did my back to school shopping today.  Everything I bought is in the photo on the right.  I need a desk calendar, mechanical pencils and gel pens.  These are my new teaching supplies.  I used to buy all sorts of things but I am fully stocked now and I am also totally broke after being on EI for a year and only teaching two months minus three days of strike pay.  Either way, I doubt I'd buy more things for my classroom without expensing them these days.  I am older and wiser and tired of spending thousands of dollars on teaching supplies.  I am not exagerating.   I have easily spent thousands of dollars on my classroom supplies.  I am not complaining..just stating a fact.  I have tons of books...a huge classroom library of novels as well as dozens of teaching resources.  I also have bulletin board backgrounds, borders, posters, and the like.  I have invested in all sorts of things I rarely use like pocket charts...I think I should start using them but haven't really had a chance since I've been so busy having babies and being on maternity leave. 

So my list was...gel pens and mechanical pencils.  To give my school board credit, these are supplied but not at the level of performance that I would hope for.  The binder is not for work..it's for my Masters class which starts next week.  Yes, it's a night class starting before Labour Day which seems very wrong.  However, I confirmed the date with the professor and it's true.  She was worried I'd drop the class because of the early start date.  No worries there...I am a glutton for punishment and wouldn't want to give myself any extra time in my life.  Just kidding... I really enjoy the classes and am glad I'm taking them (I threw that in just in case she's reading this.)  No..really, I do enjoy them and am excited to learn more about teaching in my area!

But I digress...and was rather curious today as I sensed stress and frustration amongst my fellow shoppers.  Is this really the "Happiest Time of the Year" as the Staples commercial belts out every August?  It didn't seem very happy in there today while I did my shopping.  There was angst, anger, impatience, and a general sense of panic.  Maybe the happy part comes when the kids actually go back to school.  I bet that's what it means.  Well, parents..you'll be glad to know that it's a very happy time for teachers too.  I kid you not.  I love those first few days of school just as much as the kids do.  You get to see how much the kids have grown, reacquaint with co-workers and start the year off on a fresh note.  It's particularly nice for me this year after being on maternity leave for most of last year and then going back to work for just May and June.  A beautiful time of year weather wise but rather difficult to start teaching a class at that time.  On the upside, I met a lot of new students and colleagues and the transition will be easier this fall.

Now that I've got my school supplies ready to go, I am going to enjoy my LAST day OFF tomorrow.  Bittersweet.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Symphony Under the Sky

We joined hundreds of other Reginans later this afternoon and attended Symphony Under the Sky.  It's a fun way to listen to the Regina Symphony Orchestra outdoors and enjoy plenty of other family festivities.  They had an "Instrument Petting Zoo" which Jeremy and I probably found even more fun than the kids did.  Neither of us had ever tried to hold or play a violin before so that was interesting!

We only stayed at the park for a couple hours as the kids were a bit fussy and there were wasps buzzing around.  The kids settled down after we bribed them with french fries so we managed to enjoy the last half an hour or so.  I know..bad mommy..but sometimes, you do what you have to.  They both sat very nicely and ate their fries and Connor did a great job of sharing with Aleena too.  I was quite impressed with him!

The concert was lovely and I really enjoyed the music as well as the informative dialogue that went along with it.  It was a perfect day for the event and look forward to attending it again...we'll just keep trying and maybe we can stay longer next time.  I watched the people next to us with envy.  Their 6-7 year old sat nicely while Mom and Dad reclined on the blanket and relaxed.  Someday, that will be us..right?

I took some video of Aleena when she first heard the symphony start to play. Unfortunately, the cell phone didn't pick up the sounds outdoors but I wanted to share anyway. She turns her head towards the orchestra and starts to groove a little.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kidorable really is adorable!

With the favourable exchange rate of late, I felt the need to take advantage of the strong Canadian dollar.  At least that's what I tell myself.  That, and neither of the kids have rain coats.  I realize that summer is coming to an end but I bought a size up so these ones can be used next year as well.  Now, I just need to wait for the coordinating rubber boots to show up.  I bought these raincoats on Mamabargains by the way.  Their photos online really don't do them justice.  They are way more cute in person and they even arrived with matching hangers.  I admit it seems a bit overboard but they are really cute and a nice touch.

I got Aleena the cat themed rain coat even though I don't particularly like cats.  Sorry to all the cat lovers out there but we are tormented by our neighbour's THREE cats on a daily basis and they have murdered several birds this year.   Anyway, sorry for that no-so-pleasant tangent.  I chose her jacket because I love the style and the cat in question is clearly okay with at least fish, butterflies, and flowers. 

 As for Connor's jacket, he actually picked it out himself.  I tried to convince him to choose the fireman jacket but he was set on the green frog.  I have to admit that it's pretty cute too and the eyes are actually huge bubble eyes stuck onto the jacket.  He hasn't seen it yet but I'm sure he'll love his new rain coat.  As I said before, now we just need the matching rubber boots and he'll be ready to go.

This isn't really a review post per say but I will give a general shout out to Kidorable for making what seems like a very good quality rain jacket with solid snaps and a great design.  I realize that packaging isn't everything but I have learned that packaging often shows how much care and attention is put into a product on whole.  Kidorable's packaging is excellent and you feel like you've received a quality product when it arrives in the mail.  It's folded carefully with tissue paper to keep it from sticking together and of course the matching hanging is the finishing touch.

Since they sent the aforementioned fancy hangers along, I thought I'd post a photo of the coats hanging up as well.  Ignore our vintage 70s decor.  We have great plans to renovate someday...once the kids are a bit older and stop wrecking everything in sight.  By the way, Kidorable's website is simply www.kidorable.com.  I am too cheap to pay regular price for these but have seen them a couple times on Mamabargains.  If you happen to see the Rubber Boots posted, let me know.  I need to nab a couple of pairs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mistura Beauty Solutions Review & Giveaway

I first heard about Mistura on Dragon's Den and you may be familiar with this product from watching the show as well.  That episode was quite a while ago and Mistura has really taken off since then!  I loved the idea of the product since I have virtually no time or motivation to put make up on in the morning.  Mistura requires very little time and yet somehow magically makes a difference.

I also loved watching Andi Marcus sell the product to the "Dragons" and succeed!  She's from Ottawa and it's great to see a Canadian woman do so well with an independent business.  I am still trying to figure out my million dollar idea...I guess I'll stick with teaching until then.

The Review:
Mistura sent me an Essential Kit to try out.  Here's a description of the products from their website: The Essential Kit includes 1/8th ounce jar of our luscious Luminada® illuminating moisturizer, a mini clamshell of the 6-in-1 Beauty Solution® , Vitamin E lip balm and a baby Kabuki travel brush.

Here's a photo of the products I received.
I took before and after photos of myself to show the difference.  The only thing I had one other than the Mistura was some mascara.  I didn't add any lipstick for the photos but I would use my lipstick in addition to the lip balm for daily use.  They have added some lipsticks called Pump and Glow to their product line so that's an option as well.  Honestly, when I was applying the Mistura, it didn't feel like I was really applying anything but it certainly made a difference in the photos!  It's very subtle but the Mistura really seems to even out the skin tone and gives a natural glow.  Also, there is just one product for all skin tones and it is supposed to work with all complexions.  You can view many before and after photos on their website as well.  Here are mine!

I've continued to use the products for just over a week now and I predict that I will be purchasing more.  It's really quite nice to apply as the brush is soft and it was kind of relaxing brushing it over my face.  I used the directions from their website but basically you start off with your cheekbones like blusher and then move onto the forehead, nose, eyes, and chin.  Here's more detailed instructions from their website about How to use Mistura.

The Giveaway:
Mistura Beauty Solutions is going to give away 3 Essential Kits like the one I received.  Yes, that's right!  There will be THREE lucky winners for this giveaway.

In addition the the giveaway, Mistura is offering my readers a 25% discount code when you order through their website at www.misturabeauty.com.  The coupon code is: IS25

Mistura is also now available in many stores including Sears, Rexall and even Costco.ca so keep an eye out for it.

As always, I will number the entries and select the winners using random.org.  Please make each entry as a separate comment.

How to Enter:
1.  Follow A Sophisticated Mommy via GFC.
2.  "Like" A Sophisticated Mommy on Facebook.
3.  "Like" Mistura on Facebook.
4.  Follow Mistura on Twitter.
5.  Share this giveaway. (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Forum)

This giveaway is open to Canadians only.  The contest will end on Wednesday, August 24th at 8 pm Saskatchewan Time. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saskatoon River Run Race Report and Photos

Well, it's nice to be back on my blog!  I was away last week on a family trip and then back on the road again this weekend to run a 10km race in Saskatoon.  The race was called the Saskatoon River Run and I did the 10 km distance today.  I had initially registered for the half marathon but I spent most of July with a cold and have been having some odd calf muscle issues. 

We took the whole family this time around.  It's the first race both kids have attended so that was kind of fun for me.  I am not sure Jeremy would say the same but he had fun taking lots of photos at the park.  The weather was perfect today and the only annoying aspect were the fish flies that seemed to be everywhere.

I used to set goals for races and I kind of hoped to keep up a faster pace than I did but taking my recent health issues into consideration and the warmer than normal weather, I was quite happy with my result.  My final chip time was 53:49 and I finished 6th out of 24 in my age group/gender.  My PB for a 10 km was set several years ago (pre-babies) and I believe it was around 48:45.  I still have dreams of getting back to that level but I guess it won't be this summer.  I know I'll have to take a significant break to let my leg heal before I can push myself too hard.  I am a bit concerned as my half marathon is scheduled for September 11th and I know I won't be anywhere close to 100% by then.  I will have to struggle through like I did today.  My only hope is that possibly a slower pace for the first half will help to get me through it.  I can't imagine dropping out of an event...but realize this is a possibility next month.

I don't mean to complain about my injury.  I think it's good for people to know that running is hard though...I have no magical tonic that makes it easy for me.  I feel proud everytime I finish a race. 

Here are some of the fun photos from today.  Enjoy!

My "sprint" to the end.
Unfortunately, this is an accurate representation of how I felt.  My leg was killing me.
We were posing for a photo when Connor sat on my sore leg.
I laughed instead of cried.
Post race food!
A bit cranky about all the bugs flying around. 
Still my happy baby girl!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Due North

A photo from our cabin up north in Saskatchewan.  Not the most beautiful deer ever but still fun to see!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Support Teachers (Matt Damon at Save our Schools)

So here's what I propose.  How about we as a society value our teachers the same way we value other professionals?  All teachers have one degree..many have two degrees and several have Masters degrees.  Others also hold trade certificates such as mechanics, welding, carpentry or esthestics.  Many have exceptional talents in areas such as athletics, arts, dance, drama, music, woodworking, construction, mechanics, or languages.  Teachers are life-long learners.  We attend professional development seminars and courses in areas such as assessment, technology, and restitution.  As teachers, we love what we do.  We love to mentor, inspire, care and motivate.  Teaching is sharing.

I absolutely love that Matt Damon has taken it upon himself to support teachers in a very public way.  In the following video, he speaks at a Save Our Schools rally in Washington.  Thank You to Matt Damon and everyone else that supports teachers and lets teachers know that they are appreciated for all the hard work that they do.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yummy Apple, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

This is another recipe that I really love.  I also don't feel particularly guilty for indulging because it's mostly healthy with just a bit of sugar to take away the tartness of the fruit.  The apples and strawberries do a great job of balancing out the rhubarb without adding too much sugar.  It's particularly delicious when you warm it up and top it off with ice cream.  I realize that the ice cream takes away a bit of the healthy factor but you can always treat yourself with a piece topped with ice cream and eat the rest plain!  It's delicious on its own as well.

I always double this recipe because we manage to gobble it up really quickly.  It's not that hard to make but I would rather just get through coring, peeling and slicing the apples at one time rather than a couple times.  It's not my favourite thing to do.  Here's the recipe.  It's another recipe from the LooneySpoons cookbook by Janet and Greta Podleski. 

Apple, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp

3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons reduced-fat butter or margarine melted (not fat-free)

3 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
1-1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1-1/2 cups sliced rhubarb
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Combine all topping ingredients in a medium bowl until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.
  • Combine all fruit ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Spray a shallow 11 X 8-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.  Pour in fruit and spread evenly.  Sprinkle topping over fruit.  Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.  Best served warm or at room temperature.
Make 6 servings.

Per Serving: 248 calories, 4.2 g fat

  • I use frozen sliced strawberries and rhubarb.  It saves time and is so much easier.  The quality of the frozen fruit is also consistent whereas I have mixed results when it comes to buying strawberries in particular. 
  • As I mentioned, I often double the recipe. It freezes well although we actually ate it all this time so there was no need to freeze half!  I use two separate baking dishes when I double it.  I might try making one large crisp next time around. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Hate Potty Training

Yep, I officially hate potty training.  We're really not making much progress and I am not sure what to do about it anymore.  I really want Connor to be potty trained but I am also not so sure he's ready.  He's certainly not ready enough to be potty trained in three days like I hear some kids do.  It's just frustrating when you hear some kids have no problem when it comes to potty training.  Then, I feel like we're doing something wrong even though I know we're not and I know it's not his fault either.  With that said, there are certainly some glimmers of hope.

We talked about it today and he agreed he would pee in the potty and not in his underwear.  Yes, he's wearing underwear again today.  Of course, he then sat on the potty for about 15 minutes and...nothing.  We put his underwear back on..he went downstairs to play...and five minutes later, he came upstairs with wet pants.  He had peed on the basement floor.  The carpeted basement floor...lovely.  On the upside, he actually came and told me right away.  The other day, he refused to acknowledge his pants were even went despite the obvious fact that they were.  Today, he came and told me as soon as it happened and showed me where he peed.  We changed him and he chose to wear underwear again...that's progress.  I'm just having a hard time understanding why he isn't peeing on the potty when he obviously has to go.  He has gone several times before so it's not a new concept anymore.  It's so confusing!

Sorry for the vent but I needed to get it out there.  I am happy for anyone whose child potty trains easily..really I am.  However, I can empathize with anyone who has some difficulty along the way to dry pants and diaper-free days.  For now, we'll keep trying but I am not potty training for the next six months.  If we don't see progress this week, we're taking a break!

UPDATE: I just found out from the hubby that he tickled Connor when he went downstairs...this may have contributed to the accident.  Let's hope so!

On a much happier note, I'll be posting a recipe for a Rhubarb, Apple, Strawberry Crisp that's delicious and a perfect summer snack/dessert.  I hope to post it later today.  Then, I've got a couple giveaways coming up soon as well.  In fact, I've got a few giveaways coming up and am just waiting on some samples to arrive so I can write about them first.

Lastly, keep those votes coming for Top Mommy Blogs!  Things are looking up but I need consistent votes so try to vote daily or at least every time you visit my blog.  Thanks!
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