Thursday, October 28, 2010

Picture Day

Was today a turning point for my grade sevens and eights?  I don't know yet if it was, but for the first time this year my classroom felt like a place of learning.  My grade seven and eight students were motivated, and this was due in part to the excitement generated by my grade eight students as they donned purple gowns for picture day.  For the first time in the school's history (as far as I know), my students will take part in graduation day next June.  In the past, only the senior kindergarten class and high school students celebrated graduation.  I don't know why the grade eight class was left out, but thanks to an idea planted by a high school teacher last year, and a discussion with administration, grade eights at our school will now celebrate a life and education milestone with the school and surrounding community (and I get to be a part of this!).  My grade eights experienced today but a brief glimpse of that future day next June by putting on those graduation gowns (and my grade sevens a glimpse two years down the road).  This day will be added to the list of encouragement that I use to motivate my students to do their best work so that they can succeed in the classroom and in life (along with the motivation that my students won't have me for a third straight year!).

Monday, October 25, 2010

God Moment

Sunday's worship service was a challenge for me (the music was great, though).  During last week's service the pastor encouraged congregants to observe "God moments" during the week, which would then be shared with the rest of the congregation the following Sunday.  As I listened to others' testimonies, I reflected on my past week and tried to think of a God moment, a moment when I felt strongly God's presence working in my life. Well, I could not.  It has been a difficult two months or so (especially with my job), and my faith has felt tested and tried (hence, the blog post "Prayer for the Week").  This coming week was one that was to be the hardest so far, and I was up all night struggling with how I was going to accomplish all that was required of me. 

Well, God made himself quite present today (not that he isn't always present, but I think you understand what I am saying).  A work-related heavy burden was taken away (re: postponed, but gives me more time to complete my tasks), and a prayer answered.

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Ephesians 3:14-21


I did some searching online yesterday for videos relating to "cooperation" and "teamwork", which are themes for our School Spotlight this week.  I wanted to kick off each morning this week with a fun video before a time of discussion and journalling.  I discovered some great Sesame Street videos on cooperation, one of which was enjoyed by my class this morning (aren't grade sevens and eights surprising sometimes?).  You have to love Sesame Street - have you seen the True Mud/True Blood spoof yet ("That's not true mud...that's a potato!")? 

At this point in the post, some of you may be wondering if I have lost my sanity.  It's quite possible...

In my webiverse travels, I also came across a non-Sesame Street, yet still humourous, video on teamwork.  Can you name that tune (and bonus points for the composer)?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Prayer for the Week

Please Be My Strength

I've tried to stand my ground
I've tried to understand
but I can't seem to find my way
like water on the sand
or grasping at the wind
I keep on falling short

please be my strength
please be my strength
I don't have anymore
I don't have anymore

I'm looking for a place
that I can plant my faith
one thing I know for sure
I cannot create it
I cannot sustain it
It’s Your love that’s keeping (captured) me

Please be my strength...

at my final breath
I hope that I can say
I've fought the good fight of faith
I pray your glory shines
through this doubting heart of mine
that all would know You

You are my strength
You and You alone
You and You alone
Keep bringing me back home

From the album "Beautiful Things", Gungor

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Canoe Ride

The lake was quite still yesterday, and the sun warm, so after school we gathered up the Sprouts and went for a family canoe ride.  For the Sprouts, it was a time to hang out with Mama and Papa.  For the adults, it was a time to get some fresh air, distance ourselves from the trials and tribulations of the school week, and put things into perspective.  For all of us, it was a time to enjoy the Creator's handiwork.  We paddled around the edge of the lake, exploring beaver, fish and duck habitats.  We glided through brown reeds and canoed past trees holding on to their last few leaves, noting that the season of autumn has been longer than usual  (last year there was snow on the ground), but feeling the chill in the air of Old Man Winter approaching.   Soon we will not be canoeing on the lake, but skating and ice fishing instead.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little People

I forgot all about the video below but recently re-discovered it while looking for something else for inspiration. I was a stay-at-home dad at the time and this is one of many projects FK and I worked on.  This video was made way back in February 2008 when I was just getting started with DSLR photography (and we were living in TO, which seems a lifetime ago).  As you can see, the exposure changes frame to frame, the focus is a little off and if you look closely, you can see the string that moves the swing.  It was still fun to make, mostly because it was quality time spent with a Sprout.  FK was surprised to watch it the other day (she had forgotten about it, too), and JK now wants to watch it all the time, saying "Again, again!".

Monday, October 18, 2010


Setting: Kitchen
Cue background music: "Curious George" Soundtrack (or as JK likes to say: "George Curious")

I heard a voice from the table ask "Can I watch?" as I was putting a knob of butter in the pan.  I said "Sure!", and JK pulled up the stool to stand beside me.  He first wanted to watch the butter melt in the pan, but was soon side-tracked when I started to chop the carrots, cauliflower and broccoli that were to be steamed.  "Oh no, Papa, the butter is all melted and I missed it!"  JK was a little upset, so distraction is in order.  "Here, put these dirty utensils in the sink."  "Ok, Papa." 


"All done, Papa".  "Good, now please put these veggies in the steamer."  In go the carrots, which are steamed first (five minutes later the cauliflower, then five more minutes add the broccoli.  Toss with butter, salt and pepper).  "Looks good, Papa!"  Leftover rice goes in the buttered pan, give a stir, then add the garlic and fresh ground pepper (plus some lemon juice, then later a little more butter).  "I like your lemon rice, Papa.  Can I wash these (the tongs)?"  "No, I need those to take out the pork tenderloin (with an olive oil, garlic, pepper, salt and thyme rub, seared in a hot pan, then cooked for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Let stand for 10 minutes.)."

In walks EK from her afternoon run.  "Mama!  I'm helping Papa cook supper!"  Big grin on my three year old's face as he says it.  Big grin on my face as I hear it.  I love being a Papa.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Big Backyard

Yesterday the family went for a hike and tromped around in the bush as a little Sprout desperately needed some outdoor time and lots of exercise.  We discovered fresh moose tracks (but, alas, no moose), jumped up and down on bouncy moss, climbed rocks, ducked under and clambered over fallen trees, and strayed off the beaten path a bit (but just a bit, ever wary of bears and the like).  I am constantly amazed by how the Sprouts interact with creation.  Our oldest Sprout sees the world with eyes of science, talking about this plant or that habitat, while the littlest Sprout sees the world as his personal jungle gym. 

The picture shows the family taking a moment to look over the forest below us before we turned around to find our way back (we kept the lake in sight so we couldn't get lost).  Soon all of this will be snow covered, and it will be time to dig out the snowshoes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Helm's Deep

For escapist fare from the trials and tribulations at school this week (some of which you can read here), I've been watching a disc a night of the extended editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  By disc a night, I don't mean 4 hours worth - each extended movie is divided into two discs.  Right now I am at the second half of The Two Towers, the battle at Helm's Deep (yes, I have watched these movies a number of times, including the commentaries.  And yes, I am a geek).  If you haven't seen the movies (or read the books), you won't get this reference, but today I felt like Aragorn on the morning of the fifth day looking to the east for Gandalf the Grey.  This week my classroom has been a battlefield, and while I'm not calling my students orcs, their behaviour could have suggested otherwise.  I'm not sure why all the school administration thought it wise to be away at the same time (and I'm sure they will hear about it from staff at our next meeting Tuesday!), but WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! 

Deep breath. 

No ranting, no ranting, no ranting...

Anyway, after a truly exhausting week, my help came from the east in the form of an announcement that school was to be dismissed today at 12:30PM.  This was welcome news, because I wasn't sure I would be able to literally remain standing by the end of the day.

I just hope that next week doesn't mirror the battle scenes from The Return of the King.  This area of Ontario isn't known for hobbits carrying rings....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lyrics of the Week: "BusyBusyBusy"

Picture this:  all of us sitting at the kitchen table watching Muppet shorts on YouTube, laughing at the various antics of puppets singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the Swedish chef cooking popcorn.  Laughter is definitely the best medicine, especially when administered in heaping spoonfuls by the Muppets.

It all started with a comment by my spouse: "We should play this song for (name not disclosed, but you know who you are as it starts with an "O" and ends with an "a").  The Sprouts were listening to and reading along with Sandra Boynton's "Philadelphia Chickens" this afternoon.  One of the songs is called "BusyBusyBusy", and has these lines in the song:

...we have to hurry to the left,
and then we hurry right
and we're talking every minute
as we hurry day and night
and we have to have our lunches
though we don't have time to chew...

A search for a song video led to another, then another, then another...and finally all of us after dinner huddled together in front of a laptop screen and giggling, with the littlest Sprout saying "Again! Again!"

For our dear teacher friend, we hope you enjoy this poor quality video version of the whole song "BusyBusyBusy":