Summer Memories ~ 2017

It’s only been three days since school let out for the year but what a start to the summer of 2017!  Lots has been happening at our end ~ so much fun and happy memory-building that I thought I’d write this post to share all the exciting details!  Here’s a little look at what’s been happening around here lately.

First, as I mentionned, school ended this past week which means SUMMER VACATION is finally here! This will only be my second summer not working since I was a kid so naturally I am thrilled.  Last summer was the first I ever took off from work and it was absolutely wonderful!  I am looking forward to having wide open-schedules, lots of time to catch up on little projects around the house, reading lots of books, and spending as much time as possible outdoors.  This year at school was a great one!  I had a pretty challenging group of Grade 5 students but overall it was a great year together.  It’s a good thing too, because I found out that I will be teaching Grade 6 next year which means I’ll have all the same students again!  I also had to move my classroom done the hall but thankfully, had enough time this past week to get started on setting it up which means a lot less to do come the last weeks of summer!

My little family. I can’t believe Mariah has already graduated!

On top of my school year ending, my stepdaughter Mariah graduated high school this past week!  I can’t believe that time has already come! As always, she looked absolutely stunning at her graduation and we all beamed with pride as she crossed the stage to receive her diploma. My parents were in town so they were even able to join us which was nice. After, we took a thousand pictures and enjoyed the graduation dinner with some friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. Overall, it was a great night!

Then on Friday, just four days after her graduation, our little girl moved out!  She’s gone to Ottawa to live with her aunt for the summer before moving into residence and attending college in the fall.  My husband packed her up the other day, we all shed a lot of tears, and then we saw her off.  So far, it just kind of feels like she’s gone on a summer vacation but I am sure the reality of her being gone will sink in soon.

Another big highlight of the summer already happened this past week as our little city hosted its first ever Stars and Thunder festival.  It was an eight-day concert series and international fireworks competition that literally brought thousands of visitors to our hometown. This is a big deal for our city since nothing much ever happens here.  Also, when the idea was first brought forth by our mayor there was a lot of backlash. But I’m happy to say, the festival was a huge success and so much fun!  Mom and Dad arrived last Saturday and parked their camper in our driveway for the week (which meant my adult dream of being neighbours with my parents became a reality for a short time! Haha) They attended the entire week of concerts but with my husband out of out town for work, my stepkids and I only joined them for one night.  We saw Hedley – one of my most favourite bands – who I had planned on seeing this summer anyway, even if it meant travelling to do so!  When I heard they were coming to our city, I was so excited and they definitely didn’t disappoint!  There’s just something so amazing about live, outdoor music in the summer especially when one of your top favourite bands is playing!

Me and the kids at Stars and Thunder waiting for Hedley to perform!

Mom and I at Stars and Thunder

But what happened after the show was even more exciting!  Mom, the kids, and I had headed down to the venue early to secure a good spot to watch, but my Dad had decided to wait awhile longer and take the free shuttle downtown to meet up with us.  He caught the shuttle at the hotel across the street from my house and while he was sitting there waiting for it to arrive, who comes out of the hotel, loads up a couple SUVs and heads off?!  Hedley!  So by a complete slight of chance, my Dad found out that the band was staying at the hotel across the street from my house!  With this information on hand, after the show, my Mom, kids and I decided to wander over there to see if we could spot any of the members. Surprisingly, only a few other fans got the memo that that’s where the band was staying so there wasn’t a lot of people. Some of the crew was hanging out outside though, so we got to chat with them for a few minutes. Then, only about twenty minutes after getting there, suddenly a black SUV pulled up and immediately I recognized Jake (lead singer) in the front passenger seat!  Not wanting to miss my golden opportunity, I called out to him the minute he stepped out of the vehicle, and the next thing you know we were taking selfies and photos with one of my favourite artists of all time!

Selfie with Jake!

I ruined this one by talking. I told my husband that I found the kids a new Daddy. HAHA!

Jake took this one with all of us!

Honestly, the rest is kind of blur.  It all passed very quickly (just a few minutes) and I barely remember what I said to Jake (other than that the show had been amazing!)  He also took my phone and took a selfie with all of us and if I can let my inner teenaged girl come out for a second…

“OMG, HE TOUCHED MY PHONE!”  Hahaha.

Needless to say it was a very exciting evening and one that I will definitely remember forever.  The fact that I got to share that moment with my Mom and my kids just makes it all the better!

For the rest of the weekend, I got to babysit my nieces while my parents took in the remaining concerts.  Isabella is five and Aubrey is two, and they are two of the sweetest girls ever and so well-behaved!  Aubrey talks so well for her age and listening to her babble as they play together is one of my favourite things! Between playing at the park, having dinner out, taking walks, colouring, and watching movies, I had a blast with these two.  Of course, it was all topped off with one of the best fireworks displays I’ve seen for Canada Day (which we met up with Mom, Dad, Brad, and Brandon for).

Watching movies with Auntie Kelly

Happy Canada Day!

Playing at the park listening to Keith Urban concert and waiting for fireworks!

Making summer memories – watching fireworks with Uncle Brad.

So that’s been my first week of summer!  Crazy busy, exhausting, exciting, and fulfilling.  I can’t believe we still have a whole summer ahead of us!  But the memories we’ve made this past week will definitely last a lifetime!

Stay tuned for the rest of our summer adventures!

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Hot and Miserable: Why Being Overweight in the Summer Sucks

Well it’s been a rough couple of weeks in the “back on track” department.  I haven’t exactly been eating on plan and have been slacking big-time with my workouts.  But today, something happened that has me re-motivated and ready to get back on track, again.

Before I tell you what happened today, let me take you back to a day last summer when I experienced a pretty big wake-up call.  My husband and I were on our annual trip to Toronto to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  Our hotel was located about a 20-30- minute walk from the Rogers Centre where we were going to see our favourite team, the Toronto Blue Jays.  Upon arrival at the hotel, we were notified that the elevators were broken and we’d have to carry our luggage up several flights of steep stairs.  This task was so difficult for me (because I had allowed myself to get so incredibly out of shape) that my husband ended up having to carry all of our luggage, while I still struggled to make it up the stairs.  After that fiasco, we set out on foot to head to the Blue Jays game.  Well it was a 40-degree day admist the concrete jungle of Toronto where the humidity rises to well above the actual temperature.  In the air-conditioned comfort of our hotel room, I had foolishly chosen to wear dark denim capris, sandals, and my Jays jersey (made from extremely heavy, non-breathable material!) Let me get to the point, and say that that walk was torture.  I started sweating immediately upon stepping foot outside.  I could feel sweat dripping from everywhere – making my hairline wet, rolling down my back, and soaking my clothes.  I felt terrible.  I hate being hot and throughout that entire walk I was so miserable.  Once we arrived, I made my husband force his way through the packed Jays shop in hopes of finding a lightweight tank I could fit into.  Unfortunately the crowds inside made my condition even more unbearable and we finally opted to just find our seats, which thankfully, were in the shade.

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All smiles even after I sweated my way to the stadium!

The whole point of this is to say that this experience was a major wake-up call for me.  Summers are hard when you are overweight and out of shape.  Sweating from everywhere makes you feel gross (and you’re probably already struggling with self-acceptance, as I was) and the heat caused by excess body fat, simply makes you miserable. I realized then that had I not let myself get so out of shape both climbing the stairs at the hotel, and walking on a hot summer day, would not have been such miserable tasks.  This revelation, of course, just made me feel more miserable as I began wallowing in frustration and disappointment.

So what does all this have to do with today?  So far it’s been a decent spring.  We’ve had plenty of 20-degree days where it feels amazing to be outside and it makes me feel excited for summer.  But what day did my husband and I choose to leave all of our outside jobs to?  The hottest day of the spring so far.  Today it was 30-degrees and just doing the simplest job (ie. Washing patio furniture) was completely exhausting.  The heat felt unbearable and I wanted nothing more to escape it.  This was frustrating because I had intended to get a whole lot of work done outside today (our yard always needs it badly after a long winter) but I just couldn’t take the heat.  Once again, I came to realize that if I wasn’t so overweight and was eating better and working out more regularly, these sort of tasks probably wouldn’t be so arduous.

But instead of being angry with myself this time (which I am trying hard not to do – although it isn’t easy), I am trying to take this reminder of that terrible day last summer and let it be my motivation.  I am tired of being so miserably hot and out of shape in the summer.  I am tired of not having enough energy and suffering headaches due to bad eating habits.

As of today, our annual Toronto trip is about 10 weeks away. That’s 10 weeks to change my diet and get back to working out.  It’s only been three weeks since I fell off track of my latest attempt and I am determined not to let these three weeks off the wagon become three months.  I understand that I won’t always be “perfect”, but I also have to realize when something needs  to be done, and do something about it.

So, I’m starting with soccer practice tonight.  It’s still extremely hot out and I haven’t played in several years, so I am fully expecting this practice to be brutal.  But I am going to honour where my body is at today, and I am going to push it just a little past where it comfortably wants to go.  That, and I am going to drink lots, and lots, and lots of water.  Wish me luck, I am certainly going to need it!

Summer Lovin’: Where I’ve Been & What I’ve Been Up To

Well it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  I guess I inadvertently took the summer “off” from blogging.  But I’m happy to say that my summer has been jam-packed with mini road trips, family & friends, and lots and lots of fun.  Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve been up to!

Summer started off off perfectly with a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful camping trip with Mom, Dad, and my 3-year-old niece Isabella   It was just the refresher I needed after ten long months at school!

In addition to camping, I was able make a few visits back home which of course meant lots of time with my three adorable nieces!  These girls definitely have a huge piece of my heart!

Of course a trip back home is never complete without seeing two of my best girlfriends and their sweet babies!  We spent an afternoon at the beach, played at the park, enjoyed lunch together, and went swimming at the pool where I spent many childhood summers!

Along with friends back home, this summer included vists with two dear friends who now live overseas! I took an overnight road trip to visit with my university roommate Chadley and her family who were home visiting from China!  It was a short but very sweet time that involved swimming in Lake Muskoka, delicious drinks, and a lot of reminiscing.  Last week, I visited my old high school friend Maureen who was home visiting from NYC (and the UK before that!) It always fills my heart and feels so good to see old friends again!

Immediately after my trip to Muskoka, I had the pleasure of enjoying another camping trip with Mom, Dad and my nieces   This time we enjoyed Christmas in July, the beach, campfires, and best of all, more family time!

Of course those are just some of the highlights of my summer so far that I was lucky enough to capture on camera.  Trips to Gillies Lake beach, reading, doing yoga, playing softball, spending quality time with my hubby and kids, and following the Toronto Blue Jays on TV have also been a big part of my summer!  And the fun’s not over yet because this weekend coming is the one I’ve been waiting for all summer! Stay tuned to hear all about it…. Let’s just say, right now I’m more excited than a kid on Christmas morning!!!

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer too!

 

 

The Tribal-inspired Looks I’m Loving

Summer fashion can be so much fun with an array of bright colours, patterns, and different styles to try.  Lately I am totally loving everything tribal-inspired – whether it’s Aztec prints, Native American, or Navajo-inspired. I love the mix of colour and the eclectic look on clothes, in jewellery, or even tied in to your home décor.  Check out some of my favourite pins and ways to incorporate this look into your style!

 

Brand New World: Rainy Summer Days

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(Note:  This post was written earlier this week on a lovely rainy day.)

There is something comforting about a rainy day in summer.  Today is one of those days, and although I am at work, I’d like to be in my (imaginary) cottage somewhere curled up by a window or on a covered porch, with a soft blanket, a hot cup of coffee, and a good book.  As much as I love the sun (not to mention the amazing things it does to improve my mood), rainy summer days are refreshing – a nice break from the sweltering heat and the bright glare of the sun.

Whether it’s the sound of the rain as it patters against the windows, or the cool breeze that often accompanies- there’s something enjoyable about rain in the summer. I love seeing the fresh, wet drops on the plants in my garden, and the way everything look so sparkly and clean after a good rainfall.  And when the rain is over, and the sun peaks through the clouds again, there’s always such a feeling of joy, as if the whole world is brand new.

 

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I think back fondly on many rainy camping trips from my youth.  Mom would check the weather forecast constantly as a camping trip approached and we’d celebrate if it predicted sun and groan if it said rain.  But now, looking back, the rain always gave our camping trips a sense of adventure and intimacy.  First, we’d have to find ways to shelter our tents and other equipment – setting up tarp, after tarp – Dad climbing trees to attach a rope that would give the perfect angle so the rain would fall away from camp instead of into it. Then we’d find shelter and all crowd together – usually at a picnic table inside someone’s dining tent or under the awning of someone’s camper.  We’d all sit squeezed in together, dressed in raincoats and smelling of campfire, and play endless games of cards while waiting out the rain.  On one particular occasion, on a group camping trip that involved about forty of us – we moved several picnic tables together and covered it with one of those perfectly angled tarps.  This created a “home base” for our group camping site – everyone cooked, ate, played games, read, did crafts, and just visited together all within close proximity to each other.  It was comforting and cozy to be so close to all your loved ones. When you were ready to brave the rain, you’d run across the site to your tent, where you’d lay on a damp sleeping bag and pillow, listening to the droplets of rain against the nylon of the tent, and feeling the thickness of the humidity in the air.   At the time we may have dreaded the rain, but now I remember those times with a new sense of appreciation.

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Another thing about rain in the summertime, is the thrill of a good thunderstorm.  Whether you’re driving down a country road and can see the wind blowing the dust, and the thick dark clouds rolling in – or you’re in the comfort of your home watching in anticipation out the window –  the sense of adventure that hangs in the air can make one both uneasy and excited. As the clouds accumulate and eventually create a curtain of darkness, and the first few raindrops begin to fall – as the winds pick up and blow the curtains and you run around the house closing windows, trying to beat the storm.  Then suddenly the clouds let go and the rain pours down, pounding against the pavement.  The sky shudders as the thunder crashes and a lightning bolt somewhere far off in the distance flashes.  It’s intriguing to sit and watch a thunderstorm (provided of course that you’re somewhere safe).  It’s awesome and wonderful to see what nature can do – how angry and ferocious it can get – only to settle so suddenly and leave a sense of peace, clarity, and newness all over.

So although I still prefer a sunny, warm day spent outside, I can certainly appreciate a good summer rainfall.  And while I am at work today and not on a porch somewhere sipping coffee, I will take a moment  to look out my window and enjoy the fresh, new feeling the rain gives to the world.

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Summer Bucket List

summer1It’s the last day of school and I couldn’t be more ready for the lazy days of summer!  The weather is simply gorgeous with the sun shining brightly and not a cloud in the sky, and I’m starting my holidays off right with a little camping trip with my family!  Although I’ll be working a part-time job this summer, I am definitely looking forward to having a lot more time on my hands and of course, spending a lot more time outdoors.  While I am a bit envious when I hear of others’ summer travel plans, there are many things I am looking forward to doing/getting done this summer. Here are some of the things I plan to do!  What’s on your summer bucket list?

1. Spend as much time as possible outside, preferably in nature.

2. Read.  A lot.  Visit our local library.

3. Take my dog for more walks.

4. Relax guilt-free.

5. Go on at least one camping trip. (check!)                                                summer4

6. Reorganize my kitchen cupboards and drawers.

7. Work in my garden

8. Check out a farmer’s market.

9. Play cards and beat my husband at cribbage.

10. Visit and play with my nieces.

11. Eat a lot of ice cream.

12. Go for drives in the country.

13.  Write on my blog.

14. Watch daytime talk shows.

15. Do more yoga.

16. Go to the gym.

17.  Try kayaking for the first time.

18. Watch the Blue Jays play at Roger’s Centre (trip already planned for our 2nd anniverary!)

19.  Spend as much time as possible near water.

20. Learn to meditate.

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