An Apology...

Day 13: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.

An apology from the music industry:

We're sorry for all you pop lovers out there who have to listen to country music on your favourite pop station
*cough* Cruise *cough

We're sorry for all you country lovers out there who have to listen to pop music on your favourite country station
*cough* Taylor Swift *cough*

Let's face it, these two genres should never mix.






Something I Miss...

Day 12: What do you miss? (a person, a thing, a place, a time of your life...)

Jake and I often talk and reminisce about our week-long honeymoon in the Dominican Republic in 2010.   Although the weather was not very nice--many teased us about being too white when we got back...there was sun for literally three days, people!-- it was still warm and so relaxing.  Neither of us had ever been on an all-inclusive vacation before, and we both enjoyed taking a 'real' vacation with our best friend.  We ate maybe a little bit too much food, got some sunburns, toured around the nearby village, and learned what it was like to live with each other and love deeper. 

It was a week that I will never forget, and one that I definitely miss.  I also miss all the honeymoon photos that I lost due to a computer crash.  Thankfully I had uploaded a good chunk to Facebook beforehand.  


Our favourite drink- Banana Coladas!

All dressed up for the fancy restaurant

Just an idea of what the sky looked like for the majority
of our trip.  We were just so happy to be together!


Sell My What?...

Day 11: Sell yourself in 10 words or less

Can I just skip this one? No? 

Fine.  Here goes:

Friendly and fun young woman with a heart for change.

That wasn't awkward at all-except that I felt like I was writing an ad for myself in the newspaper.

Time for my morning cup of tea.



Just Don't Do It...

I had another pre-natal check-up yesterday.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were kind enough to drive me and wait in boring waiting rooms for a good chunk of the day.  Jocie got to hear her little niece/nephew's (or nibling, as she refers to it) heartbeat.  Baby certainly didn't want to cooperate, and was moving all around when the nurse tried to find the heartbeat with the Doppler fetal monitor.  We all laughed when (I felt) we heard a kick as it tried to express indignation.  Eventually baby calmed down and gave us a nice, strong heartbeat of 140 BBM.  

Thankfully everything is going well with the baby's health and growth, but other news has left me feeling somewhat sad.  I told the nurse that running was uncomfortable this week.  The first time I went, I had to cut it short after 10 minutes because it felt like the baby was a lead weight at the bottom of my abdomen.  The second time was amazing-even though I was super slow!-and yet I felt the most excruciating pelvic bone/groin pain that night and over the next few days.  Both the nurse and my OB smiled and suggested I try brisk walking instead.  


After feeling the discomfort of my second run, I had pretty much come to that conclusion on my own, but hearing it from a medical professional made it more concrete.  Although it will be difficult to give up running for the next few months, I'm happy that I was able to go this far.  I can tell my baby that "Mama ran a 5K when she was 8 weeks pregnant with you" and "You were my little running partner up until 32 weeks".  Who knows, maybe this wee one will enjoy running with me someday.  

I have plans to train for a 10-K race as soon as the doctor gives me the go-ahead, and have no doubt that Jake and our babe will be my biggest supporters!



Red in the Face...

Day 10: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill. 

I must confess, I actually hate questions like this. A lot. It's mostly because I can't remember any embarrassing moments. Perhaps there is a secret vault in my mind where I store the things I want to forget because, let's face it, who wants to remember the toilet paper trailing behind a shoe, or tripping in front of a crush? (Thankfully those things have never happened to me...oh, wait.)

There have been many times I've embarrassed myself in front of people, said things that brought high colour to my cheeks, made my friends laugh at me, and had many awkward toilet clogging moments over the years (trust me, you'll remember those too if it was at your house.)

I've decided to share with you one highly embarrassing time that I still remember vividly.  I was in Grade 9, and I was walking to Zehrs on a lunch break with a couple of my friends.  I can't exactly remember who was with me because the mortification of what happened shames me to this day.  It was a grey, cloudy day, but the anticipation of food spurred us on.  There is this church in my hometown on the main road with a big metal sign out front displaying the church's name and logo.  The sign is a significant size, it's black, it's wide, it's...yeah, you can't miss it.  Unless you're me.  Unless you walked into the sharp, black metal corner, gouging your head and requiring Nana to drive you to the ER for two stitches.  

Two stitches!!

Maybe the reason I remember it so vividly is that I can still feel and see the little white scar on my head when I make a part in my hair.  Maybe it's because I should have been watching where I was going.  Maybe it's because I lost cool points in front of my friends.  

Whatever the case, I will never forget that moment.



Knowingly Addicted...

Day 9: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)

I decided to wait until today to leave a lot of room for special moments.  This was it.

You see this right here?  At the beginning of yesterday it made up
about 3/4 of a zucchini-pineapple loaf.  I ate three pieces, so I
guess you could say this made up three moments
of my day.
Love, Ashleigh


Talk to Me...

Day 8: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.

Communication is key.  

I bet you're rolling your eyes right now because you've heard this so many times.  I don't really care.  I'm going to say it again, because maybe the more I hear it, the more I will remember, too.  

This past weekend I had a chance to travel to my hometown.   My sister and her family, one set of grandparents, and my parents and siblings live there, not to mention many friends from my childhood and church.  Usually Jake and I go up for one night and two days, but we were there for three nights and four days.  Already things were unusual.  Add to that a little bit of confusion over who's preparing meals, where we're staying, when we're spending time with people...

Let's just say, it's never a bad idea to over-communicate.  It makes things much simpler when everyone knows what is going on, and eases the stress and tension of unclear situations.



Who's Afraid Now...

Day 7: The thing(s) you're most afraid of

In list format in no particular order: 

  • Thunderstorms [Not sure why...I used to love them]
  • Failing as a wife/mother/friend/daughter/student etc.
  • Falling into spiritual complacency
  • Being attacked by a shark while swimming in the ocean [Don't ask...]
  • Never accomplishing some of my personal goals in life
  • Hitting my head on something [maybe from all the times it happened as a child]
  • Being drugged and held somewhere against my will [What is with all these irrational fears?! I watch too many movies]
That's all for now!



How We Do...

Day 6: If you couldn't answer with your job, how would you answer the question, 'what do you do'?

Funny how sometimes this can be the most self-defining question of our culture.  Sometimes we let the things we do define who we are.  If that were the case, I would be a 



and let me tell you...

I love every minute of it!



Krystle's Kitchen...

Day 5: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don't have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member

There are some people from college/university that you never seem to lose touch with over the years.  Krystle is one of those people.  She and I met at Bible college in 2006, and now she is a health counsellor/owner at a Herbal One Weight Management Nutrition Centre.  As the years go by, not only have we gotten to know each other better and enjoy some similar hobbies (like eating delicious food, running, eating, cooking...did I mention eating??) but we've also become blogging buddies.  I have often found encouragement and inspiration from her blogs.  I love her short, to-the-point and meaningful posts that so eloquently express her creativity and zest for life.   We don't often get to see each other, but I can often find out what activity she's been into or what she's been cooking by checking out her colourful blog.  Whenever I see a new post pop up in my Feedly feed, I get excited, wondering what pictures or tips she'll have for me today.

So join me over at Krystle's Kitchen  as I drool over the Watermelon Cucumber Feta Salad and that S'mores Ice Cream Cake

Don't forget to check out some of her Lifestyle Tips for getting the most of the life God has given each and every one of us.

Thanks, Krystle, for keeping the blogging world alive and for inspiring me to be the best that I can be, in every facet of my life!



Dancing Up A Storm...

Day 4: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it

When I was growing up, I set aside a page in each new journal for funny quotes that my siblings or mom said.  Apparently Dad wasn't very funny (just kidding!)  I have continued that tradition with Jake, and even have a few of my own zingers written down.  

As far as inspiring quotes go, I have heard and liked many, but I'm definitely not one of those people who memorizes my favourite quotes for fun.  I recently had this one as my Facebook cover:
A little internet search told me that Vivian Greene is the originator of these fine words.  I love this quote for a couple of reasons.

1. It talks about dancing. In the rain. Need I say more?

2. In the book of Philippians (which is one of my favourite books of the Bible, and the one I most frequently turn to when I need some encouragement), Paul talks about how Christians struggle through trials and temptations in life, and uses Christ's example as the ultimate 'storm'- taking on the sin of the whole world and covering Himself with the humility that should have been fully ours.  
And yet, the words 'joy' or 'rejoice' occur more than a dozen times.   These are not passive words.  Paul is not giving us the impression that we must sit around and wait until the trials go away, for the 'storms to pass'.  We are to
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. ~Phil 4:4
Paul reminds us to rejoice twice in this sentence, so it must be important.  We need to be actively choosing joy despite our struggles.  Not the happy-happy-joy-joy-I'm-a-tele-evangelist type of joy, but the joy that comes from the Lord, that transcends our deepest understanding.  It doesn't mean it will be easy, but it's something we need to actively pursue.

In John 15:11 Jesus says, " 'These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.' " Elsewhere in the Bible, a psalmist writes,  "You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)  " 'Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts, '" says Jeremiah. 

These are only a few more examples of joy found in the Bible, and it seems that there can be no joy apart from the Lord.  So let's dance in the rain, in the grace that flows down from the Spirit, and take refuge in knowing that our Heavenly Father can get us through each storm.



Hot Under My Collar...

Day 3: Things that make you uncomfortable

  1. People who stare
  2. Wearing tight/ill-fitting clothing
  3. Expectations
  4. Being put on the spot
  5. Having nice things said about me
  6. Deadlines
  7. Sleeping without my body pillow
  8. Leaving things to the last minute, but I do it anyways
  9. Conviction
  10. Knowing I haven't replied back to the hundreds of messages in my inbox


Something I Know...

**In the future, I will only be posting from Monday to Friday. Writing on the weekend is just too difficult in the summertime, and I wouldn't want to disappoint anyone here (including myself)!

Day 2: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you'd like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)

To be honest, this one was a challenge for me.  Maybe that's why it's been sitting in my drafts as a mere list of ideas, rather than a finished blog.  I am interested in many topics, I dabble a lot, but there are only a few things I can claim to know a lot about-even then I'm still learning. 

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is one of those things, and I still have a long way to go.  From teaching in a classroom, to overseas, to summer camps, to both volunteer and paid experiences, to my newest stint of teaching online, it's been a part of my life for the past seven (7!!) years.

There are many ways one can start teaching.  It often begins with helping out a friend who is struggling in their English skills, and your interest can be sparked enough to want to travel to their country to teach voluntarily or as a paid worker.  I have known many people, including public school teachers, who teach ESL overseas for a time as a way to make fast money.  Depending on the place you go, you can earn a pretty penny in the span of a year.  It's a great way for university students to pay off some of their loans.

That being said, teaching is not for everyone, and teaching ESL can be even more challenging.  The language barrier can create a real frustration-it takes a lot of patience and a huge desire to see growth as students become more confident.  Teachers need passion that can supersede the struggles through the every day messiness.  

In terms of training, there are many websites and courses out there, but not many are worth your while.  Doing a bit of research will save you the headache of wasting your money on scams.  Here are some things to consider.

First, you must assess your goals for teaching ESL.  Will it be simply a means to an end i.e. you want to travel and see the world?  Do you want to make a lot of money, and fast?  Are you looking for a new way to get to know your neighbours that recently emmigrated to Canada?  Then perhaps a short, intensive program is good for you.  There are many organizations that offer week-long classes or four-weekends a month so the training is essentially painless and over in no-time.  They also offer job boards and networking so you can find a job right away.  If, however, you want to teach ESL long-term as a career option or in a professional setting, you should consider checking out some of the programs recommended by TESL Canada.  There are many options, from distance learning to classroom setting to post-graduate studies.

Second, you must consider the cost. How much you are willing to spend on TESOL training really depends on your goals.  I wanted to be trained quickly and professionally, but didn't have the money to spend on a post-graduate course.  In hindsight, I should have saved up and done the post-graduate course I wanted.  The course I chose was distance education, and cost effective, but not as thorough as someone with my goals would have liked.  It's easy for us to get caught up in our high demand culture and speed through a process without thinking about the end result.  Sometimes it's better to spend a little more for more thorough training in the end.

Third, you must assess your passion.  Yes, teaching ESL can be a fast way to make money, but you will never be an effective teacher if you're only doing it for the dough.  Whether you're teaching children, adults or anyone in between, their needs must be higher than your own.  A good teacher must always be learning, growing, and improving his/her own skills in order to make a difference in the lives of his/her students.

I could go into further detail, but I'm sure I've written enough blogs about this subject for one lifetime.  



Me, Myself, and I...

Day 1: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph... no one will be counting your words... probably)

I guess the story of my life should begin at the start.  Born a preemie, I weighed only 2 pounds 7 ounces and was in the hospital for two months before my parents were able to cuddle and take care of me.  Now that I am pregnant, I can more clearly understand the intense emotions that would accompany that kind of separation between a mother and her baby. The Lord has proved Himself Saviour in my life time and again, starting from that rude awakening into this crazy world and continuing to take me through some of the most intense rides that have honed my character and shaped me into the woman I am today.  Many of my childhood memories are blissful, and as I reminisce on days spent outdoors at our country rental homes-climbing trees, building snowmen with my mom and sister, and playing with our dogs- I feel blessed to have experienced so much happiness and freedom.  After my family's move to the city when I was 8 years old, I quickly adapted into the city girl most of you know me as today, with only a few remnants remaining of that country sunshine, forest-exploring, dirt-loving inner child that I used to be.  High-school is a blip on my memory radar, with nostalgic memories of band, Latin class, and boys.  Spending almost six months in Brazil when I was nineteen years old was probably the most highly intensive character-building and shaping moment of my life, and when I returned home everything started to turn around-for better. I went to Bible college, met my husband, Jake, spent some time in the hospital again, and am now an online ESL teacher and expecting my first child.  Could life get any crazier and amazing than this?  In about two and a half months I will be able to place a big YES in response to that question, but holding my child in my arms for the first time will be more than worth it.  The Lord continues to surprise me every step of the way, and I know He holds the ongoing story of my life in His hands, since He is the one who has written down every jot and tittle.

I can't wait to see what else He has in store!



New 30 Day Blogging Challenge...

Why, hello there. I'm taking on a new challenge, and I realize that it's not a significant date- close to Christmas, or the beginning of a new month- but I'm starting to understand that some changes in life need to happen right now, rather than waiting for the best possible moment.  Today is the moment we have- carpe diem has never seemed so apt as it does now.

So, as I munch on my blueberry banana muffin, I will explain how it's going to work.  An acquaintance of mine recently joined a link-up for a Blog Every Day in May challenge, and I was intrigued by the concept.  I have also been inspired by this TED talk on trying something new for 30 days.  Not that I'm new to the blogging scene or anything, but I have been in a slump.  I'm hoping that this will give me the revitalization I need to get back into a groove.

Please join me on your own blog if you like (click on the link-up in the sidebar), and we can enjoy learning all sorts of new things about each other.  And me, I'm looking forward to a welcome rush of discipline and commitment for the next 30 days!



Meal Plan Wednesdays...

I'm still here, but I have been a little discouraged the last couple of weeks.  My meal plan last week was very boring, and I've been doubting my blogs and having overall feelings of lameness.  But it's a new day, so I will attempt to brighten yours by hopefully giving some cooking/baking inspiration.

Wednesday-Curried Noodle Patties with sweet potatoes
Friday- Grilled cheese sandwiches
Saturday- BBQ Party Food:  Nacho dip
Sunday- Spanish omelette
Monday-Rice and beans, with pork/chicken