Everything’s coming up Easter.

NB: This is a re-post from last year at the outskirts of winter, and thought it was appropriately fitting. And my exact thoughts today. I added a new photo and title and a special video at the end.

pastel eggs

I had planned to post more. A lot more. I have sticky notes of ideas and topics, and I even made a calendar to schedule the posts. I just never did. I even planned to write a piece about how well I’ve been managing my family-work-play-self. I was going to write about how I have much more purpose behind my reasons and more motivation to do things. The reality is, I’m not so good at it. I once did a connect the circle dot quiz in the Artist’s Way. Everything is supposed to be connected in a balanced circle. If something is off-balance, it means that you might be devoting too much time for it – or not enough time.

I’m really good at spending time with my little family. I make sure that we snuggle until the very last moment that we have to get out of bed in the morning. And I’ve been getting home from work at a decent time each night and we play, play, play all night.

I’ve also been good at my job. I love my job. Being a teacher is definitely my passion (despite the politics & public opinion…) and I am happy to be a working maman. It’s been said that teachers who aren’t parents are better teachers, because they can devote more time to planning. I agree that I don’t plan nearly as much as I used to (especially not at home), but I would disagree that I am a worse teacher. If anything, I understand the parent perspective a bit better (well… most of them) and I think that makes me a better teacher. I work very efficiently during my prep period, lunch and recess breaks to have more time with my family in the evenings.

Our house is not in shambles, but it is terribly dusty and crummy. I haven’t done any projects or painted chalk boards or put up pictures. The laundry and dishes and cooking and banking are done. But that’s no fun.

I’ve not been so good with keeping in touch with my friends via mail art or email or even social media. I’ve been neglectful, and I don’t like it. I must do better.

I’ve also been terrible with my blogging self. and my painting self. and my drawing self. and my creating self. my artsy self. I am doing a lot of creating for my students and a little for others, but I must do better. I miss my self.

I think I am going to start the Artist Way lessons all over again. And post more.

—–

I also don’t know what kind of a blogger I am. But I’ve pondered that before.

And here is that special video (if you haven’t yet seen it!)

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Mary Poppins.

I recently introduced Eli to one of my all-time favourite musicals – Mary Poppins. I love pretty much everything about Mary  - from her snarky remarks and giant carpet bag to her kindness and dresses. I still want a giant carpet bag and to ride a carrousel horse in a race. She really is practically perfect in every way. Needless to say, Eli loves it as much as I do (well – ffwding to the songs + entire cartoon part). Perhaps it was my excitement in the first place, or my magical singing voice that did it – but it doesn’t really matter. Eli goes nutty when he sees a kite flying above the lake and bursts out into “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” at least once a day. Every time he holds a bannister going down stairs he says “Medicine! Medicine! Medicine!” and tries to climb up to slide down. He dances along with Bert and the penguins and cheers during the horse race. He is working on his finger snap.

mary poppins pic

I’ve also realized that Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from Mary Poppins. She has some very important lessons to teach.

1) Don’t complicate things that are really quite simple.
2) Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid. (ha ha. Mrs Banks)
3) Don’t make pie crust promises. They are easily made, but easily broken!
4) Blowing kisses is lucky.
5) There’s the whole world at your feet.
6) In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.
7) Well Begun is Half-Done.
8) Stay awake, don’t close your eyes.
9) Childhood slips like sand through a sieve.
10) If you don’t scold and dominate children, they will never give you cause to hate them.
11) Enough is as good as a feast
12) Never judge things by their appearance. (even carpet bags. I’m sure I never do.)
13) Do things that fire your imagination.
13) Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious!

At our house, we draw chalk landscapes, hold hands and jump in with our eyes closed. xo Which of these lessons speak to you? Do you share mine & Eli’s Mary Poppins love? ps. Although I love musicals like crazy, I am really looking forward to seeing Saving Mr. Banks – the true story of how the story of Mary Poppins was Disney-fied. P.L. Travers’ was quite upset. (and who doesn’t love Emma Thompson, really?)

Way-Back Wednesday: Back to School Style

more old pics 3

This is me on my first day of Grade One in 1987. My hair is freshly brushed and I loved that necklace. I was probably sweating my brains out in that bulky sweater. I am really rockin’ the no-front-teeth look.

Our teacher was Mlle Pugliese for the 2nd year in a row and I can’t remember anything else about that year. I guess grade one wasn’t as memorable as the other years. (which is interesting, because I have quite a few memories from Kindergarten and from grade 2. Sorry Grade 1.)

Does anyone have a guess as to what kind of a student I was?

(and for my FI buddies, do YOU remember anything from Grade 1?)

 

my summer on instagram.

Woah woah woah, Where did that summer go?! Eep? Who am I kidding? I love back to school – fall weather, new duds, new students (well, some new ones.).

As a teacher, we don’t really get the “summers off”. Our 10 month pay is stretched over 12 months. We definitely need time to recharge and revive, or else your children will be taught by stressed out, hot-mess zombies. The reality is, we relaxed for the month of July. I told myself I wasn’t allowed to think about anything school related. I pretended my schooled pin-boards didn’t exist and focused on my family and our new garden and mini-trips myself.

When August hit, and I “allowed” myself to think about school – I haven’t stopped. I have some great things that work in my classroom, but every year I feel I have to do just a little bit more, and just a little bit differently, and add just a little more flair, and tweak that just a little bit more. If you’ve seen me up super late online after the boys have gone to sleep, I’ve probably been long-range planning, translating materials, working on my writer’s notebook or pinning all school things. I’m a bit nuts. I did finally post some stuff on my teacherspayteachers site – so far I’ve made $10. Win.

I haven’t been so great at posting here this summer, but I have been consistent with posting to instagram (even thought I don’t have an iphone). Before I return to school postings as my alter-ego Mme, I will share a sneak peek of my summer of Instagram.

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ps. I did a fairly good job of staying spice-y this summer with Eli. That being said, he has also become very well versed in Buzz, Woody, Mike Wazowski, Sully, Nemo, Shrek, Fiona, Simba, Jasmine & Aladdin.

How was your August? Did you spice up any lives?

Do you dread the end of summer and back to school? Or do you love it?

* Click photo more more.

A scheduled summer?

Before Elijah came along, our summers were full of travels, late nights, dinner parties, lounging, reading endless books, crafting, not having to worry about bedtimes or schoolwork or diapers. We could fend for ourselves and be carefree. In some ways, I miss those (I would love to have a smattering throughout the summer. Please, Rob?), but in other ways, I love playing + running + dancing + singing + going crazy with Eli.

Although I am great at consistency and scheduling and routines when I am in my classroom, I haven’t been as much at home.  I can also get into lazy ruts of endless lounging. I don’t normally schedule my weekends with Eli, or the summers, but I found some inspiration. I found Arlee at http://mysmallpotatoes.com. She is a mom, teacher, blogger and artiste extraordinaire. She runs an in-home daycare, with a schedule I think we can handle. She tries to make sure that every day has SPICE: Activities based around 5 basic and important needs of toddlers people: SOCIAL, PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL, CREATIVE and EMOTIONAL

Social: Creating opportunities to learn cooperation, fostering relationships and positive interactions amongst peer groups.

Physical: Engaging in exercise to encourage development of their muscles, heart and lungs. Promoting a sense of well-being.

Intellectual: Providing opportunities for sensory play, verbal expression, reasoning, prediction and logical thinking. Fostering an ability to think about, and understand their world.

Creative: Encouraging creative thinking, imagination, Exploration, experimenting, innovation and originality.

Emotional: Nurturing healthy concept of self, acknowledging feelings, crafting firm boundaries to create a sense of security, teaching relationship skills and providing comfort.

mosaicThank you for the kick in the pants, Arlee! This will be my summer goal. Add some SPICE. That being said, I am not above having days of snuggly movie marathons on the couch every once in a while.

Are you a scheduler or a fly-by-the seat of your pants type?
How will you add some SPICE to your life?
Any fun (toddler) suggestions for me to SPICE up Eli’s summer days?

 

 

Trust Us, It’s Big: Kincardine Pipe Band Parades

I live in a really great little town. Every Saturday night in the summer months, our Scotland-rooted ville gatherseli parade downtown to watch the local bagpipe band march from one end of the street to the other and back. They play a mini-concert at the end. Hundreds of locals and tourists line the streets with lawn chairs and flags and drums and kilts and ice cream cones to see the pipers pipe and the drummers drum. They’ve been doing it rain or shine since 1948. Once the band walks past you, you are encouraged to follow in behind for the rest of the parade. And we do.

I first remember coming to the parades when I was just small when we came up to the Brown’s cottage for visits. Little did I know then, that (I’d be living here) I’d be joining the parade every week.

As I got older, the parade wasn’t really all that exciting for me and the novelty had weaned, but every time we brought friends with us to our cottage, we’d go. When Rob and I moved to Kincardine in 2005, we occasionally wandered up to the parades when my parents were up. We’d run up the hill at 7:59,  jump in the parade at the corner of Durham as it passed and then duck into the Hawg’s for a pint (about 25 steps away). That way, we could still enjoy the bag piping.

We brought Eli up to the parades his first two summers – the first summer in a wrap and the second in a stroller. He was always smiling and happy, but this summer he really gets it. And loves it. Every night after dinner he asks, “Walk? Blinky?“. He doesn’t quite grasp the concept of the future yet, so saying “next week” or “on Saturday”, does not do us any good. “Not today. Soon.” He isn’t usually satisfied with that answer and continues to ask.

blinky eli girls

Blinky is Kincardine’s highly protected mascot. He is a giant lighthouse and walks in every parade after the band. Eli is both infatuated and scared of him. The first week he stood and stared at him for about 10 minutes (see photo). He finally got up enough courage to give him a fist bump. The second week he was completely scared to the point of tears. This past week he was nervous, but didn’t want to miss his big chance to hug him. Throughout the week Eli will bring me the ipad and ask to watch pipeband videos over and over and over again. As soon as he sees blinky’s red top, he yells “Ther’ee is!”. He asks for a rewind as soon as Blinky is gone. Repeat.

We love our weekly ritual of meeting friends on the corner of Durham and walking as close to the front of the crowd as we can to hear the pipes and drums as we walk. At the end of the street we visit with Blinky, bang on the drums of the band members and catch up with the locals. Once the band continues back down the street, we veer off and walk home together into the sunset. Come march with us! xo

parades

(NB to friends: This is not the shirt-tail parade for the Old Boys Reunion – in which we’ve probably invited you and 56 of our closest friends. That parade is in 2018 and it only happens once every 10 years- Just enough time to forget about the last one. THIS parade is a bit more family-friendly and happens weekly. See this vid for an idea – the first of the year and near the start. Most people join in later down the road!)

 

Have you ever been to a Kincardine Pipe Band Parade? Did you love it? Hate it? Confused?
Does your town have a mascot? Is it both loveable and scary at the same time?
What are your family rituals?

Week one.

Oh my, oh my, oh dinosaurs – it has already been a week since the last day of school. More than.

I am really looking forward to the rest, because in only one week we have done all sorts of things – and it has been fantastique.

eli painting

- chalking the front porch and bathroom walls
- Play-dough making craze
- three pipe-band parades (blinky! chicken!)
- fireworks
- visitors from near and far
- great bbq (homemade + from Kincardine’s FOOD TRUCK!)
- ice cream cones
- walks + sunsets
- painting, digging, colouring
- gardening + new backyard project extraordinaire
- swimming, dancing, bucket drumming
- playing in the park(s) and mowing the lawn
- taking extraordinary naps.

xo. Bring it summer (before my mind wanders back to school planning).

What did you do last week?
Any big summer plans?

 

Birthdays.

I turned 32 the other day. Three years ago I posted a list of things to do before I turned 30. By the time I turned 30, I had accomplished quite a few of those things. The past two years have passed without a birthday post. In my 30th and 31st year, I mothered, wifed, taught, friended, loved, laughed, cried, created, sang, danced, ate, slept, built, performed, invented, read, wrote, skipped, cleaned, listened, shared, played, participated, collaborated and relaxed. DSC07918THANK YOU EVERYONE for the love and wishes and kisses and flowers and cards and phone calls. I feel loved. xoxo.

Normally we have a big weekend of campers on our lawn for my birthday weekend, but since we had our Beer Fest shebang back in May, we opted out this year. A handful of people are expected to join us for fireworks at dusk (hopefully?).

Today marks Canada’s 146th birthday. I fondly remember when it turned 125. We celebrated at school with songs (Canada, Canada… one nation… sing-a-song, sing-a-song, a celebration… let’s tell the whole world that Canada’s 1-2-5) and a tree planting. We made Canada art and dressed in red.

Please enjoy some awesome Canadian musak.

:)

 

Way-back Wednesday

way-back pics 8This is a a photo of my grandma, mom, great-grandma and myself when I was a babe. I thought I’d take a moment to make some fashion commentary.
Grandma: Green jumpsuit. It looks good. I think you should pull it out again. I can see Andrea wearing glasses like yours.
Me: I know it is Florida, but where is my shirt? I have a feeling that orange material is velour. I’m ok with that. I had a lot more rolls than Eli ever had. Interesting.
Mom: You are 26 years old. I can tell. I like your Dental Hygiene baby T. I’ll bet your shorts are completely against our school dress code for length, but would be totally trendy with any teenaged girl from 2013. What are you holding?
Great-Grandma Peggy: You have rainbows on your silky exterior top. I wonder if your pants match. I like the giant pearl earrings and matchy matchy necklace. I think you have had better hairstyles.

UPPERcased.

This is my life in magazines: Disney Adventures, Hibou, Big Bopper, Bop, Teen, Seventeen, YM, Sassy, Twist, Martha, Blueprint, Domino, Make, Craft, Wish, Canadian House & Home, Real Simple, Chatelaine, Food Network…

I’ve always loved magazines. Or so I thought. When I was in Fredericksburg, Texas back in March, I stumbled upon a petite paperie hidden down a whimsical alley called Timeless Menagerie. Amongst many curiosities and treasures, I found issue #16 of UPPERCASE magazine. Before I even cracked the spine, I knew that I had found my newest magazine love. Like real magazine love. More than ever before.

This magazine is satisfying and magical. It is for the creative and curious. Have you ever opened a page of a magazine and just sighed, gazed and grinned? It makes my heart beat a little faster. The pages are appealing and interesting and lovely. I discovered that the magazine is Canadian, it has no intention to go digital, uses recycled paper to print and is all about paper and textiles and crafts and real artists. It’s not bogged down with advertising or fashion or recipes. What more could a girl want in a magazine? Really.

I decided to splurge and by myself a subscription for Easter. I also bought four back issues at a discounted price. They came together all sealed up. I did not let myself open them all at once to devour. I devoted a full two weeks to each back issue, just to savour it and make them last. The magazine is quarterly, and the next one will arrive in my postbox very soon. I cannot wait.

uppercase

*Thoughts and prayers for all those in Calgary – (where the UPPERcase studio is located). xoxo.

 

 

First Annual Art Show

My co-worker Natalka and I gathered our art projects from the past year and set up the gym for our First Annual Art show. Natalka teaches art to the English kiddos from grades 4-8 and I teach the French Immersion art from grades 3-8. We organized the gym by Elements of Design (Line, Shape, Texture, Space, Colour, Value), labelled the work and invited parents and students to enjoy the artwork. We were so pleased as to how it all turned out and had fantastic feedback.

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The majority of my ideas came from my schooled: art pinboard or projects that I did myself in elementary or high school or for fun. We used pencils, markers, pastels, crayons, glue, magazines, paint chips, gesso, wire, pantyhose, charcoal, found items, recycled items, paint, foil, sticks, pop cans, exacto knives and clay to create our projects. Some students created Facebook profile pages of famous artists and created art like them. My class created a giant colour wheel of found objects.

We also created a collaborative installation, where each student illustrated a pair of eyes. We compiled them together with the title “If these walls had eyes” – representing the eyes of aboriginal students of residential schools.

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I am so fortunate to teach visual arts. It is definitely one of my passions. I am excited for more projects next year. I am also excited to add more of a social justice inquiry twist to the intermediate projects, start sketchbook projects with my juniors, give kiddos a greater choice of materials and create more collaborative projects within and between classes.

art long range planning

Snail Mail my Email.

In July 2011, I sent out a fun link to my sister: Ivan Cash’s superFAB internet art collaboration. He (and a team of 234 volunteers) transformed emails into handcrafted letters and snail-mailed them worldwide free of charge.  I thought it was a neat idea.

A few weeks later, Eli received a carefully crafted letter written on tracing paper from his auntie. I kept it on the fridge, and then tucked it into his first year book of treasures. Then I forgot about it.

In my second most recent Olive Box, I received a book called Snail Mail my Email. As I leafed through the first couple of pages, it dawned on me that we took part in this project! I immediately started flipping through the book quickly to find her letter to Eli, but … it wasn’t included. It turns out that Ivan and his team collectively sent 10,457 letters to 70 countries in the span of one month and only chose the most “memorable” for the book.

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I grabbed the original letter and taped it into the front cover of my copy of the book.

I think this project is repeated every year – the next time being fall 2013 – if you’d like to join the artsy-fartsy fun.

ps. The book reminds me a lot of the postsecret books.

*middle pic via

 

Way-back Wednesday

way-back pics 19

Here I am sitting in a cradle that has been passed down through a couple of generations – originating from my grandpa’s family.

I appear to be watching my mom or dad and I remember I always liked to sit in things – laundry baskets, wash tubs, drawers. I remember getting stuck in a toy box in my underoos once, calling for someone to come rescue me. I’m pretty sure I could have gotten out on my own, but I wanted my family to come and laugh at me – or bring me a snack.

A couple of additional wonderful things about this photo include:

1) The sweater on the bed that matches the curtains and bedspread (and the word bedspread).

2) My collection of assorted dolls on the bed (ET, ikea moose, raggedy ann, kermie, gonzo, cookie and lion. Yes, those were their names. I wasn’t very creative at naming my toys. In later years, I had a bear named Beary, a monkey named Monkey and a Gorilla named Gory. Lame.) If you look closely, you’ll also see our first cat Blackie.

3) My mom’s attempt at giving me pigtails. Fine hair is the pits (but Batiste XXL volume dry shampoo is da bomb.)

4) That stuffed horse on the dresser is named Ed.  As in, Mr. I think my mom still has it.

Report Cards of the past.

IMG_1970Report cards are due to the office next week, and I’ve been inputting marks and comments like a mad-lady. When I was home for my dad’s birthday party, my sister and I were going through some old pictures and came across his old report cards from elementary school. I both laughed and cried.

Let us first start with the noticeable differences between then and now. The 60s report cards were actual report “cards”. One piece of card stock folded in half kept for all 3 terms. Some marks for penmanship and arithmetic and spelling and a couple of handwritten generic comments. The 2013 Ontario Report Card is 4 pages long each term. The front page is school information, Religion* and Learning Skills marks and comments. Page two is Language (English and French, and Native Language if applicable), Math and Science marks and comments. Page 3 is Social Studies, Phys Ed, Health and the Arts (Drama, Dance, Visual, Music) and student goal-setting. Page 4 is grading information and parent goal-setting. All of that writing and I still feel bad that I left spaces in some comment boxes. We get the report cards sent back to us if they aren’t done “properly”, they need to be personalized and have to include strengths and next steps for the students. There are check boxes for immersion and IEPs, and guidelines as to how many strands you have to report on each term.  You also can’t give less than a D or you get red-flagged by the computer system. You are supposed to comment on what they can do and what they’ve completed, so if a student rarely completes assignments, that can’t really be “counted” against them. If they slack off in math, or don’t put in any effort, you are supposed to comment on that in the Learning Skills section, not the Math section. Heck, there is a whole policy document about how to write them.

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Can you imagine writing reports cards like my dad’s teachers? One small card for all three terms with a sentence or two handwritten general comments? One even says “completed to 18.” What does that even mean?  Seriously, that sort of  report card writing would take no time at all. Talk about stress-free! I wonder if the principals even had to proof-read them? Likely not. One of the report cards we found of my dad’s had a comment that wasn’t at all related to school, it talked about how my dad had terrible taste in hockey teams. What?!

Here are two quotes that were typed on the front of many of the old report cards we found that I liked…

“Our schools are endeavouring to provide an environment where your child may grow naturally in intellect, in social co-operation and in moral responsibility. Parents help by ensuring for the child proper rest, well-balanced diet, prompt and regular attendance at school. Feel free to contact the school on any problem concerning your child’s progress. Calls at 8:45 am or during noon hour disturb the school routine at least. Appointments can be conveniently arranged.”

All children have not the same ability to learn in school. Comparison of reports, therefore, is apt to be unreliable and unfair. The school exacts the same standards of obedience, honesty, cleanliness, application to studies, interest, regularity and punctuality that should be practiced by all citizens as they form the basis of a happy family life at home or school.”

I am not complaining about writing report cards, I’ve become quite efficient, and I nerdily love the curriculum that we get to teach and report upon (so pumped about the new immersion document!). I also appreciate the PD day we are given to write them (well, to at least get a crack at them). These report cards are definitely more packed with details than those of the past, but are they really helpful to parents?

I spend a lot of time deciphering comments on report cards during interviews. For example, a comment reading “With teacher assistance, Benny can add 3-digit numbers with some effectiveness.” really means, “Benny can’t add very well.” – but doesn’t it sound nicer? I also spend a lot of time explaining that a B actually means “meeting grade-level expectations” and is more similar to an A of the past, and a C isn’t the end of the world, it just means that they haven’t solidified the expectation, but they are progressing.

I also wonder how many parents read all of the words that teachers spend hours typing up in “parent-friendly language” (whatever that is supposed to mean) or do they just look at the letter grade? Also, if parents don’t know what the curriculum says in the first place, then they won’t realize that “Shan writes very simple texts using one or two forms. She generates some clear ideas with supporting details and is beginning to use paragraphs in her writing.” is not at grade 5 level, and is much lower than the grade 5 expectations his/her peers are reaching, which are “Penny writes longer and more complex texts using a variety of forms. She identifies and orders main ideas and supporting details and groups them into several developed linked paragraphs. She determines whether her ideas and information are relevant, appropriate, and adequate for her purpose, and does more research if necessary.”

Does anyone care to guess how many page 4s I get back from parents?

On that note, I need to go finish writing my Learning Skills (which in my opinion, are the most important part of the Report Card.)