Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sick on Sunday

For some reason the littlest Sprout and I seem to have had low immune systems over the past two months.  We have both been sick a lot with colds.  I have already used up all my compassionate leave days, am close to using up all my sick days, and it is only the end of January.  I lost my voice this morning, and JK is still coughing, so we stayed home while my spouse and the oldest Sprout went to town to attend church and do the grocery run.  I'm taking a break from preparing emergency sub plans for tomorrow, and JK is curled up on the couch watching his favourite movie How To Train Your Dragon (in my opinion a better movie than Toy Story 3).  From time to time a hear a wistful voice coming from the living room, "Papa, I would like my own dragon."  Thank goodness dragons don't exist (except in little boys' imaginations).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

We Dun Sum Lurnin' Twoday

It was not without a few obstacles in the path of learning, but I count today in the "we dun sum lurnin' twoday" column. Students eagerly volunteered to read aloud from the book "Holes", they had fun in a word study exercise (at the end of the day no less), and during a discussion on the poem of the week (Foul Shot - see post below), took the time to understand alliteration as well as how to stretch out a moment in time in writing.  I think it was about this time last year when the class made a shift from mostly wanting to be anywhere else to actually enjoying being in school (though they won't say that).  I hope this trend continues!

Poem of the Week: Foul Shot

Foul Shot

With two 60’s stuck on the scoreboard
And two seconds hanging on the clock,
The solemn boy in the center of eyes,
Squeezed by silence
Seeks out the line with his feet,
Soothes his hands along his uniform,
Gently drums the ball against the floor,
Then measures the waiting net,
Raises the ball on his right hand,
Balances it with his left,
Calms it with fingertips,
Waits, and then through a stretching of stillness,
Nudges it upward.

The ball
Slides up and out,
Plays it coy
Until every face begs with unsounding screams—
And then
                       And then
                                               And then,
Right before the ROAR-UP
Dives down and through.

       —Edwin A. Hoey

I especially love the word "exasperates" in this poem.

Clinic (Times 2)

Yesterday was a medical day, though no emergencies (phew!).  Our youngest Sprout has been up the past few nights coughing away (so no surprise that his parents are walking zombies at this point), so I stayed home with him to give him a rest day and to take him to the clinic to get checked out (mostly because a lot of his daycare-mates were sick, and pneumonia has been working its way around the community).  The visit to the clinic was painless - we arrived when it opened, had a visit with the nurse, JK said "Ahhhh" when he was supposed to and all was ok (just a cold).  A sick note later, JK and I left the clinic and went home.


My lovely spouse calls and at 11 AM JK and I are on our way to the school to pick up the oldest Sprout because her nose hurt. 

The nose backstory:
Somehow, on Monday, FK fell out of a chair reading a book at school, did not put her arms out to catch her fall, and banged her nose on the floor.  Blood and tears ensued.  A trip to the office, a cold compress and some quiet time later calmed down Fi for her to return to class, albeit with a very swollen and bruised nose.  We kept a close eye on it over the next day, but she didn't complain about it, so all seemed fine.

Back to the main story:
By the time we arrived at the school, Fi was sulking on the front porch because she claimed her nose didn't hurt anymore and she did not want to go to the clinic (who could blame her?).  However, a number of staff members told EK that the doctor was at the clinic for his weekly monthly visit, FK's nose didn't look great, so why not take advantage of the doctor's visit?  So we did.  This time, however, the clinic was packed with people (due to the doctor's visit), so we waited just over two hours to get FK's nose checked out.  Let me point out that this wait happened over lunch ("Papa, I'm hungry" was an incessant refrain by 12:15 PM), there is nothing in the clinic for children to amuse themselves except reading pamphlets on Hep C or watching a fishing show on the television, and even though we have lived in the community now for two and a half years, we were politely ignored (yes, I get that we will never be fully welcome in the community, but a smile or hello would be nice.  Sigh).  At least we didn't have to drive to town to hospital, where the wait is four to five hours long (as we have personally experienced in previous visits).

The good news is that the doctor took a good look at FK's nose, said that it appeared alright (aligned, no deviated septum), though to keep close watch on the swelling (it should be gone in two weeks).  Apparently, without surgery (painful!) it is impossible to tell if there is a hairline fracture, as it doesn't show on X-rays.  If the swelling does not go down, then something is not right and then we take the next step (go to Winnipeg, we were told).

So, who knows the future of FK's nose?  (I couldn't resist the use of homophones!).  We hope it is fine (please, please, please...).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Monthly Photo Project: Toys

Science Rules!

The Sprouts' Nana called us yesterday and left a message for us about a cool science experiement she heard about on the news.  Apparently, in -30 degree Celsius weather, if you throw boiling water in the air it will crystallize and fall as snow and ice particles. This morning FK and I went outside to test this theory.  It was -34 degrees Celsius, so that part of the experiment was in place.  I filled a cup with boiling water, gave the cup to FK who proceeded to throw the water in the air.  Unfortunately, she couldn't throw the water up high enough for the experiment to work.  I traded places with her, filled the cup with boiling water, and threw the water into the cold air.  It worked!  A pretty cool experiment to do on a cold Saturday morning in January.  Thanks, Nana, for the tip!

Friday, January 21, 2011

You Know You're Tired When... forget to gas up before heading home.  Now, you might think this isn't a big deal, but where we live, it is.  After an afternoon of errands, grocery shopping, a visit to the library and early dinner, we left town at 5:15 PM and there was still light! 

Hooray!  The days are getting longer again!

Anyway, as my spouse and I were conversing, my brain finally made the connection that I forgot to gas up before leaving town.  This is partly due to a change of routine in our shopping pattern, and partly due to being sick this week on top of writing report cards (there should be a law against teachers driving during report card season).  We were already twenty minutes into the trip home (a one and a half hour drive in winter - one way), so the debate was, "Do we keep going and hope there will be enough gas for a return trip?" versus, "If we go off the road, will we have enough gas to keep the car warm until help comes?"  The second comment was the deciding factor, so I turned the car around, drove us back into town, gassed up, and then we headed back home, in the dark, with blowing snow and reduced visibility.  Thank goodness there were no deer or other creatures leaping onto the road during the trip home.  From now on, the gas station is the first stop when we go to town, ...well, maybe the second...there's always time for Tim Horton's.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"I Can't Hear It"

Our weekly car trips to town and back again involve listening to and singing songs of all sorts.  The CD's are mixes of musical styles and genres that reflect our individual tastes in music so that all in the car can enjoy the trip.  For a few months since the previous summer the first request out of JK's mouth had been "7 8 9" by BNL, but lately he has moved beyond his love of that song and now just askes for any music to be played.  I still think "7 8 9" is his favourite song (when quietly counting to 10, he will suddenly burst out with the phrase "What about 9?" in homage to the song), but it's wonderful that he is learning to appreciate a diversity of music.  Now, when in the car, we quietly hear from the back seat, "I can't hear it", JK's subtle way of telling us to turn up the volume already. 

Yesterday's trip included JK singing along to children's songs by the likes of Fred Penner and Jack Grunsky, especially giggling along with "Down by the Bay" ("a bear combing his hair!"), but also belting out phrases from other songs like "If I Had a Million Dollars" (BNL) and "I Hope" (Dixie Chicks).  JK picks up on the repeated phrases and sings them, which not only helps develop his pitch, but strengthens his vocabulary as well.  We need to just continue to help him learn to better pronounce his "l" sounds, for "If I Had a Million Dollars" comes out as "If I Had a Miwwion Dowwars".

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fart Smellers

Ah, the blissful sound at the end of the day of ... farting?  Our oldest Sprout somehow got her hands on a whoopee cushion and now both Sprouts are running around the living room, blowing up then sitting on the cushion making, of course, farting sounds.  And amidst these sounds is mingled the best sound in the world: children's laughter.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Monthly Photo Project

Keeping Warm
Lately I have had "photographer's block", feeling uninspired and lacking in direction.  I recently connected with a friend and fellow photographer about the idea of a monthly photo project (or "challenge") in order to break out of this uncreative rut.  Each month we will alternatively pick a theme and take photos relating to that theme.  For the month of January, I picked toys

I'm not sure if a wooden artist's figure is a toy, but the idea for the photo "Keeping Warm" came to me as I was thinking about ideas for the challenge.  The setting for the photo was literally right in front of me as I rested on our couch a week ago.  The figure and the lit candle were both on the ottoman at the time.  I thought to myself it was good that the figure wasn't close to the candle to cause a fire hazard, and then wondered what it would look like up close to the candle, as if keeping warm on a cold night.  I took a few photos that night to see if a photo would work, and although the photos were ok, I felt something was missing.  Today, I asked FK if she had any Barbie toques, of which she had a knitted one courtesy of her Oma.  I put it on the head of the wooden figure, lit the candle, and tonight took a few photos.  The photo doesn't exactly capture what I had in mind, but it did give me a starting point for other photographic ideas.


Well, a year after the "phenomenon" that is Glee hit the airwaves, my spouse and I have officially become Gleeks. EK came home from town errands late last night with the copy of Glee from the not so local library.  We popped disc one into the player to check out the first episode.   By 1 AM, three episodes later, we were obviously hooked, resisting the next three episodes only because we knew the littlest Sprout would be up early the next morning.  After a not so great school day, the evening was just what the doctor ordered: laughter, good music and quality time with my wife! 

Monday, January 3, 2011


New Year's Eve brought another snowfall and the family has been enjoying shovelling, building forts and sledding.  As part of her own Happiness Project and feeling the need to be silly (as we all should do from time to time), this afternoon my spouse took it upon herself to create a sled run for the Sprouts on the hill in front of the house.

Then JK wanted a turn.  He promptly enjoyed the trip down the first time, but on the second he experienced a "face wash" of snow and called it quits. Maybe we will try again tomorrow!

Poem of the Week


Holes are shy and dull and round.
They're nothing, but don't remind them.
They live in sweaters, socks and crowns.
In flutes and Swiss cheese, holes abound.
And they hardly ever make a sound.
And some end up in the lost and found.
But most are buried in the ground.
You have to dig to find them.

by Tim Wynne-Jones

I am trying something new this month with my class.  I want to expose my students to poetry, but without taking lots of time to analyze it in a way that makes their eyes glaze over and puts them to sleep.  I also want the poetry to connect with other lessons, including science, music, geography and history.   To introduce the language arts block tomorrow, I will read the above poem outloud.  Then, over rest of the days of the week, I will read it aloud, project the poem, have the students read it aloud, have a copy ready for a poetry collection notebook, and once pasted in the notebook, have students illustrate the poem. 
I wasn't sure which poem to start with, so I began with Holes, a novel by Louis Sachar, that the class is reading for a novel study.  Googling "poems related to the book Holes",  I found a website that has a number of poems that do exactly that.  Now I have a selection of poems to choose from, like the above poem, that go along with the novel study.  Also, we are beginning a read aloud called The Maestro by Tim Wynne-Jones (the author of the poem), and this will give the students another connection to the poem.  The most important thing for me as a teacher for this class, besides creating a safe learning environment, is broadening my students' schema.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


mis·chie·vous  /ˈmisCHivəs/   Adjective

1. (of a person, animal, or their behavior) Causing or showing a fondness for causing trouble in a playful way
If you look up mischievous in the dictionary, along with the word's definition you would find a picture of our youngest Sprout.  There is no doubt in anyone's mind when they see that glint in JK's eye that he will be "showing a fondness for causing trouble" as soon as your back is turned.  We knew it was time to cut short a grocery shopping errand at Walmart today when he popped open a bottle of dish soap and proceeded to spray the green, goopy liquid over the rest of the groceries in the shopping cart.  I was always amused by Calvin's antics when I read my favourite comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, but little did I know then that someday I would be raising a Calvin of my own.