Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Running With The (Insert Animal Here)

Surprised, I slowed my run to a jog.  Hidden by the vegetation, a young female moose was consuming its morning meal on the slope of the ditch.  Startled by my presence, she leaped out onto the road in front of me.  With a frightened look, the moose began trotting ahead of me on her long spindly legs, hooves clip-clopping on the asphalt.  After a minute or so the cow turned sharply to her right, and, with a combined look of fear and relief, leaped back into the bush, crashing her way through the underbrush to safety.

In the past few weeks, during my early morning runs, I have had various wildlife encounters.  A black bear has crossed my path, more frightened of me than I of her, a small curious fox has followed me a number of times (with locals pulling up beside me in their vehicles asking "Did you know that a fox is following you?"), and now a moose (of which sightings have been rare of late).

I've heard of running with the deer, running with the wolves, running with the bulls, but ... running with (well, behind) the moose?  That's an encounter that I had to write down (or rather, type out).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sturgeon Tagging

Lake sturgeon in Northwestern Ontario are a threatened species and as such are protected under the Endangered Species Act (for more info, see here).  Yesterday I was invited to come on a sturgeon tagging outing by a local resident who has been helping foster improved relationships between local First Nations groups and Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).  The day was a beautiful one for a boat ride, a relaxing way to start summer holidays! 

I learned a lot about sturgeon and their habitat, why they are endangered (overfishing), and what is being done to encourage their comeback (such as tagging them to follow their movement patterns, learn more about spawning habits and where sturgeon spawning grounds are to improve the grounds for better reproduction).  I was also able to capture photographs which I can use for future science lessons on ecosystems and endangered species.  The photos are from different sites, but I put them in a sequence to give an idea of what happened at each capture/release site.

Following the MNR boat...

Pulling in the nets, hopefully with a caught sturgeon...

Weighing and measuring the sturgeon...

Tagging the outside of the fish...

Tagging the inside (to track by satellite)...

Holding a sturgeon before its release...


Thursday, June 23, 2011


Clock Watching

Twenty minutes to go until summer holidays "officially" start! Woohoo!

Heart and Soul

Last night the family attended a talent show that showcased a few young people in the community who attended a music camp this past week. The camp was led by singers/songwriters Janie Stein and Martin Bates (The States), who travel North America in their motor home, "experimenting with living out of the box in order to pursue what they feel is their call to live an authentic life (from their brochure)." They did a wonderful job of drawing out local talent and adding value to the community.

I think that everyone who has taken piano lessons has attempted to learn the duet Heart and Soul, which was performed at the talent show. Every time I hear it played, I am reminded of my favourite scene from the movie Big.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Other Kids

My (other) kids have all grown up and moved out (of grade eight, that is). I taught these twelve students (three are missing in the picture) for two years and they have changed me in ways I cannot describe. I wish them blessings and continued success wherever they choose to go!

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away! ~ Dr. Seuss

School's done! The halls are mostly quiet, except for teachers cleaning classrooms for the summer, and for some, packing up to go on to new places and adventures. Graduation was yesterday, with a gymnasium packed full of excited students and teachers, parents, family members, friends and community members. All witnessed the graduation of senior kindergarten, grade eight and high school students who are embarking on the next stages of their life journey.

The theme for the day was Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss.  My wonderful spouse and several staff members volunteered to decorate the gym based on the theme.  They worked very hard to make the gymnasium reflect the book's theme (thank you!).  My students as well as students from grades one and two made destination arrows that were put up on the walls around the gym, connected by pathways of footprints.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

For full text, click here (scroll down a bit).
For a video, click here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Randomography: Kidsfest

Last weekend we went to Winnipeg to visit a close friend and her daughter who were visiting family (and to allow my spousal unit some time to shop).  On Saturday we gathered at The Forks, the site of Kidsfest 2011 which included all types of entertainment geared towards kids.  The Sprouts had a blast the whole day, especially with our close friends alongside.  Below are a photos from the day. I've put a few more photos on my Flickr stream: Kidsfest Set.

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2011 06 11 Winnipeg Kidsfest 200

Monday, June 13, 2011


It was all they could talk about this morning (I felt bad for the other students who did not go on the trip).  They wouldn't tell me they liked the trip (as usual), but it was obvious by their conversations that they did.  Even after wearing itchy and ill-fitting clothes, eating "jail food" (actually, it was quite delicious), getting wet in the rain, an overly long canoe ride ("my arms are sore!"), and no electronic devices allowed ("awww, man!"), their favourite part of the trip was Old Fort William.  I was able to capture a few pics of the fort visit, but only on the second day towards the end of our stay.  I had to change out of my "normal" clothes (like those above) and put on my "weird" clothes in order to take the above picture (the fort's rules).

I enjoyed the visit to Fort William immensely, mostly because I am a history buff, but also because I was able to observe and interact with the students outside of the classroom and their community.  That carried on into the rest of the trip as well.  Even though I had little sleep (definately not college age anymore - allnighters are rough!), I would do this trip again in a heartbeat.

It Is Necessary to Use the Necessary

On every class trip, choir or band tour that I have been involved in there has always been a saying that becomes the catch-phrase for the trip.  This time around was no different.  At Old Fort William, the guides would often be in character and use language appropriate to the time period.  I knew I was in trouble when a guide asked the students if they needed to use the necessary before moving on to the next task.  There were a few confused looks, followed by an "a-ha" moment.  With a smirk, one of my students said, "It is necessary to use the necessary."  The phrase was used from then on when a student needed to use the washroom.  The reason that I say I knew I was in trouble is that the phrase would be used for the rest of the school year.  Thank goodness I only have three days left to hear, "Mr. K., may I use the necessary, please?"  At least they ask politely!

Burp Starts With a B!

"Book starts with a b!"  "So does bat!" "And ball ... butterfly ... blueberries ... bingo ... barn ... bread ... badger ... bee (giggle - bee starts with a b - get it, papa?) ... bottle ... bubble ... bugs..." 

JK loves the alphabet.  He will say a number of words that all start with the same letter, then ask us (especially his big sister) to participate and help out when he can't think of any new words.  After we have brainstormed some more words, we will go on to other tasks, later hearing JK shout from elsewhere in the house (or yard or in the car) things like "Burp starts with a b!"  This even happens when he is using the necessary (see next post).  Imagine being with him in a public washroom when he shouts out, "Poop starts with a p!"

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Baie du Tonnerre

Tomorrow morning I'm Thunder Bay bound with nine grade eight students for a four day class trip.  Some of the stops include the Terry Fox Memorial and an overnight stay at Old Fort William.  I'm not sure if I was entirely sane when I planned this trip, and am not sure I'll have all my faculties when I return.  I'll let you know on the flip side!