Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Family Quote of the Week

FK: "Papa, I'm making myself some toast! Do I put the peanut butter on first, or the jam?"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Favourite Thing

The great thing about a laptop is that it is portable. I love having it on the dining room table so that I can do a Google search for recipes of ingredients I have on hand in the kitchen. Today, I entered curry and cauliflower and came up with a recipe for Cauliflower And Sweet Potato Curry Soup. Luckily, I had a sweet potato on hand, too! The kitchen is filled with the smell of cooked onions, garlic, curry and cinnamon. The soup was delish, and received a thumbs up by 3 out of 4 family members (JK, the fourth member, wasn't interested in the soup, but only because there was cheese on the table).

You Are a Runner When...

a downpour of rain does not stop you from completing a 60 minute run.

Lego Puns

As some of you may know, I am an AFOL. A what? AFOL means Adult Fan of LEGO. Unlike most AFOL's I don't have a huge LEGO collection, but I like building with blocks now as much as I did when I was a kid (it's even better when you have Sprouts who like LEGO, too). I have a quirky sense of humour - I love puns and silly jokes (though after a silly pun my oldest Sprout always says, "Oh, Papa" with a sigh). Combine that with my love of photography, and I can appreciate the sense of humour in the following photograph by Chris McVeigh entitled Facebook:


This made me giggle as I sipped my requisite morning coffee.

More of Chris McVeigh's amazing and funny (punny?) work can be found on Flickr here and now on Facebook here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Family Quote of the Week

FK: "I like the sound of the word cake as it's stuck to my mouth."


JK celebrates his third birthday today. Congrats, little man!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Minor Changes

Excuse the changes to the blog as I try to come up with a new template. I've been trying to embed video, and the old blog was too narrow to post video. The new templates are wider (and adjustable), so thank you for your patience as I fiddle with the settings.

Of Books, Seeds and Lesson Plans

Now that things are winding down school-wise, I have spent some time catching up on reading. This means, of course, I can read more than I usually do. My students were often amused by the fact that we don't have a satellite TV connection, so aside from the occasional movie or TV show on DVD, I don't watch much TV. Thus, more time to read!

Anyway, I have caught up on reading the latest mystery/thriller books I enjoy, such as those by Lee Child (did Reacher survive or not?), John Sandford, Andrew Gross, Dana Stabenow (a newly discovered author that my spouse also likes - we fight over who gets to read her latest novel first), C.J. Box, and so on. Needing a change of pace (and genre), I went looking in the teen and juvenile section of the library (research for my classroom) and discovered a series of books by P.W. Catanese. They are called The Books of Umber and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books of the series (the last comes out in January 2011). I highly recommend them to young and old alike.

What does the above have to do with seeds? Well, there is a small connection between the first book of the series and what is written below, but I can't tell you what it is - you will have to read the book to find out!

So, the seeds. After reading the book the other day, I was reminded of a Globe and Mail article I read a while ago entitled ‘Doomsday’ Seed Bank Growing Strongly . And today, while browsing National Geographic videos, I came across this:

Naturally, this plants a seed (excuse the pun - I couldn't help myself!) for a lesson plan in the next school year. My students loved to talk about all things apocalyptic (the movie 2012 was constantly discussed in class), so hopefully this idea works! I'll have to let the idea germinate over the summer (hah!).

If you are curious, here is a Wikipedia link:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rich Man

I look in the mirror, don't see much
Fashion sense a little out of touch
The house is run down as the bills pile up
But I'm a rich man

Breakfast table, morning rush
Sometimes it seems we barely have enough
But if it's true that all you need is love
Then I'm a rich man

When she smiles or they call me Daddy
All the worries of the world just seem to fade away
I'm alive and I know what matters
If this is all I ever have
Well, that's ok
'Cause I'm a rich man

So every morning, and brand new day
With each and every single breath I take
I'm blessed and I'm thankful, yeah I've got it made
Oh, I'm so glad life turned out this way

I've loved, I've been loved, show me someone else
With as much as me

Yeah, I'm a rich, rich man
Yeah, I'm a rich man
Ohh, I'm a rich man
I've got it made
What matters, what matters
I know what matters
Ohh, I'm alive

Paul Brandt, from the album "This Time Around"


From JK's room (at 6 AM): "Are we getting the trailer today? It's at Opa's."

In three weeks, little man!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Proud Papa

I am constantly amazed by my kids. The sprouts continue to grow physically, mentally and emotionally every day, often taking me by surprise by their observations of the people and world around them. Today, I am very proud of our six-year-old girl who has grown this past school year in so many ways. She is a year or more younger than her peers, a grade beyond where she would normally be and, in some aspects, an outsider to this community where we live. Yet, she has learned to hold her own, make friends, influence those around her, maintain a natural curiousity and do very well academically (as her report card attests). Today, she won three achievement awards at the closing ceremony and feast. Normally, I don't brag about my kids (well, maybe a little bit), but today, excuse me for a bit while I put on my proud papa face!

In a Daze

It has come to this: it's Thursday morning and I'm typing at the breakfast table with a little sprout sitting beside me who has a face covered with Nutella from his toast. Nutella toast is a treat reserved for weekend breakfasts, but not today. I am still recovering from class trip-itis, from a day that began at 5 AM and ended the next morning at 1 AM (21 hours). Remember those days in college and university when you could stay up forever? Not happening now. Thank goodness the next day was a "recovery" day for my students (who were able to stay home, unlike teachers).

The past few days have been surreal. I've been cleaning and packing the classroom for the summer, learning about OSRs, planning bits for next year already (my ideas notebook is constantly open and being filled), and finishing up paperwork and inventories. I'm glad I have a mentor (my ever patient spouse) who helps me with all of this - I think the administration sometimes forgets that I am a newbie at all of this still. I am looking forward to the end of today, which is the last official day of school. We have a graduation and awards ceremony, followed by the closing feast and dancing.

Mostly, though, I have been trying to deal with the fact that I can't really let go and say good-bye to my class as most teachers do. I can wish them a great summer and all that, but I'm teaching my students again next year (and as a result, have new curriculum to learn). I hope that I can get some distance this summer (literally and figuratively) before starting fresh the next year.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

No Plans (Well, Maybe Just a Little Bit...)

This is the first Saturday in some time where I have woken up and not have had to prepare lessons and plans for Monday. The coming week will be the last for the school year with a class trip Monday, a "recovery day" for students Tuesday (they stay home, which means a lot of quiet classrom clean up and organizing for me), and class on Wednesday that consists of cleaning out desks, some activities, a presentation/assembly for upper grades and a class party. Thursday is closing feast and graduation, then vacation (for the students, anyway). And report cards are done!

I repeatedly said to my spouse yesterday that I wouldn't be doing any school work this weekend. Well, this morning, after going on and on about a novel study idea for Farley Mowat's Lost in the Barrens for next year, my spouse turns to me and, with a knowing grin, says, "I thought you weren't going to do any planning this weekend?" It seems I have become a "real" teacher over the past few months and haven't fully realized that fact until now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


My students read a current events article today from about the multitude of gophers in Saskatchewan and how they are destroying crops and farmers' livelihoods. The article reminded me of Farley Mowat's book Owls in the Family, a book that I read aloud earlier to my class this year. I read a passage from the book again today (to model making connections), in which the narrator of the story describes gophers as "the commonest thing on the prairie". The narrator continues by writing:

The little mounds of yellow dirt around their burrows were so thick, sometimes, it looked as if the field had yellow measles.

When I checked my mailslot today, I found my latest issue of Canada's History, a magazine of, well, Canadian history. Inside is an article about a trio of quirky museums, one of which is the Gopher Hole Museum in Alberta, in a small town called Torrington. A gopher museum? Apparently, the museum has forty-five dioramas of seventy-one stuffed gophers that "cheekily depict the community's social anchors". That's just too funny! Put that on the list of places to see when the family goes out West for a future vacation.

A video of the museum can be found here.

Maybe a community or two in Saskatchewan could do the same and decrease their gopher population...

Some Guilty Pleasures

  1. Watching Shaun the Sheep episodes with the Sprouts (I am a big fan of the work of Nick Park, especially Wallace and Gromit)
  2. Eating potato chips
  3. The Pioneer Woman blog (I read it for the recipe and photography articles, honest!)
  4. Playing with LEGO
  5. Reading the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn (this series is right up there with the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher)
  6. Eating my spouse's chocolate chip cookies (delish!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Family Quote of the Week

While FK and I were tossing around a frisbee this afternoon, FK remarked:

"I am right-handed because I throw a frisbee well with my right hand. I am left-eyed because I wink well with my left eye."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bridge to Terabithia

My students recently finished a novel study of the Newbery Medal award-winning Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. Today, the class watched the 2006 movie version of the book. Afterwards, we had a discussion about the similarities and differences between the book and the movie, which, of course (after moans and groans), resulted in a compare and contrast essay for the students.

The interesting thing I learned from the discussion is that every student in my class liked the movie better than the book. I know they enjoyed reading the book immensely, as at the end of each section or chapter they wanted to continue the story (as in, "Please don't stop!"). Yet, they preferred visuals over text-laden pages. I realized that as a teacher I still haven't enabled my students to acknowledge the power of the written word. I haven't as yet encouraged them enough to ignite their own imaginations, to elicit the wonder of well-turned phrases, sentences, paragraphs and books. Because my students are over-saturated with visual and aural media, I wonder if I will ever be able to do so.

This also made me realize that I need to bring in more visual and aural media into my classroom teaching. Not lots, mind you, but enough to help my students make connections, broaden their schema and keep them interested in learning. I have to continue to develop varied styles of lesson plans that will build bridges of learning in my classroom.

Stress Relief

Though my favourite way to relieve stress is running, the alternative runs a pretty close second: yard work. Cutting the grass and cleaning up afterwards, especially with the Sprouts helping, is a great way to put aside the worries of the day. The way the grass is growing, I will have plenty of opportunity to relieve stress. Which, of course, will slow down the growth of grey hair!