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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Beauty in the eye of the beholder

Now that my camera is a little bulkier than before, I am pleased that I have passed on the photo-taking mantle to E. He is so keen on taking photos that he brings his wee cam with him most places, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on photographing those essential moments! And he does a spiffing job of it too. I think he has his dad's eye (& patience) for great shots (I was going to say 'his father's eye for beauty', but that could be misconstrued!! :-))
Today’s contributions come from E’s collection of recent days. I liked the colours on these. The flower (whose name I’m sure I ought to know!) is actually the flower planted by lil L in their class garden at school.

Earlier today, the boys enjoyed the best seats in the house at a 3-hr theatrical production of the “Wizard of Oz” complete with real, live, barking Toto dog! It was very well done - most professional. We are so grateful for the friends who bought the tickets and gave us such amazing seats – front row, right in the centre, and about 2m from the stage edge! It has certainly whetted the boys’ appetites to be part of such a production…a great thing! I'd hoped that would be the case. We sang "Phantom of the Opera" all the way home in the car!

And tonight, it was so nice to unwind from our busy days to go for our family evening stroll around the park. Lots of people wandering around and enjoying the Spring evening, kicking balls around, skateboarding, walking their dogs, walking their kids, walking their spouses…

Monday, September 29, 2008


So here's my flower for the day.
Don't expect the Latin genus.
These grow around the side of our house, and down our street there are all manner of different coloured variations. Very pretty. I haven't a clue what they're called, except that I vaguely recall someone once saying that they might be a 'Japanese paper lantern' or somesuch name. Could be totally up the creek on that one of course! Feel free to enlighten us.

And this picture was taken because I loved the way the sun caught the mass of silken highway.....it looks a bit like our lives feel, at the moment!

The Changing Face of my Family

It was so nice to see Little Bear at home this afternoon. I must sound like one of those mothers... the desperate kind. I am aware that I do miss him and it's sweeter all the time to have him around. I also really love to have Little Joe at home; I know that this year will be over all too quickly, and then he'll be finished with high school, too. He has already declared his intentions of joining his brother at Bible College, and "Wouldn't it be so cool if we could be roommates and play our guitars together!" I refrain from reminding him that they were "roommates" for a good twelve years and they were both more than happy to have their own rooms after that!
Anyway... we had a tasty family dinner this evening, and I dragged the three of them into the backyard to pose for me in the last light of the day. The photo reminded me of an old one I took back in 1993, when the boys were 1 and 3. How time flies!
We just said goodbye to Little Bear as he left for the college - back for another week of fun and games! I'm so thankful that although he's "away" at school, we can still see him throughout the year and continue to enjoy watching him grow up. It never ends. I always enjoyed the different stages the boys went through as babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and so on. I'm still enjoying it as they make the transition to adulthood.
Here's one of my favourite quotes on parenting, by Elizabeth Stone: Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Random thoughts

The current cool vernacular around these parts is ‘random’….my son’s band was even named “Random” for awhile. However, I wish to use the word in its traditional sense of the word today. Here are some random (though not necessarily ‘cool’!) thoughts from our weekend.

I’ve decided that I will ‘try’ and post a flower a day till I run out of flower shots or till the Spring bloom is over, whichever comes sooner. However, I don’t know any of their names, other than the basic models like rose, carnation, lily etc! If you know the names, please feel free to share. I wonder if we’ll have the same weeds here as up in the great white north…?

It has been such a busy time since school finished (surely it wasn’t only 2 days ago?!!). The boys have been partying hard and enjoying being free from school and routine. Clip ‘n Climb, Laser strike, birthday cake, treasure hunts, ice cream, friends, junk food!

Both boys also took part in the services this morning – E on the keyboards, and L singing and dancing with the kids. K and I were well and truly in the Land of Nod at 6am this morning, when E came in and politely suggested that one of us got up since Band Practice began in less than 30 mins. Groannnnn. DAYLIGHT SAVINGS has begun…..Spring forward….less one hour’s beauty sleep! However, fortified by good coffee and a ‘pain chocolat’ from the cafĂ© at church, life was sweeeeeeeet. And the services were truly fabulous. Great music, fun dancing, lotsa laughs, good people, fantastic message.

Would you like to entertain a very cool family from here? They are heading over to the Great, and hopefully white, North to ski for 2 months! The reports from Whistler have been most encouraging…..for the snow-seeking tourists at any rate! We are most envious and would love to be carrying their luggage for them! Our friends have organised a house swap – they have access to a beautiful home close to Whistler, and on the flipside, the recipients will enjoy our summer only about 5 doors from the beach!

And today, we were discussing with our lunchtime guests, the way the media and country have responded to the events of the “Slain Good Samaritan”. I am so impressed with the way the family are responding, despite the immense tragedy and loss they must be experiencing. My heart grieves for them too each time I think about it. One line that has really impacted me for some reason, is the line from a recent newspaper article (about the woman whose life was saved because of Mr Hemmings’ unselfish actions) – “,,,today, she is grieving for a man whom she never even knew…” Who knows how far reaching Mr Hemmings’ actions may go? There is at least hope.

On a different note. The week ahead is full. The weeks ahead are scarily busy. I feel stressed just thinking about stuff to be done. I really don’t know how you can fit all you do into your week and still try to take on more, Ange of the North! Perhaps you could share some of your secrets…..???

Oooh, a Project!

I'm suddenly excited and inspired! Ali Edwards, one of my scrapbooking idols, is doing a great project on her blog: document a week in your life. If this piques your interest at all, check out her blog here, as well as the post on Shutter Sisters (a fab photog blog!). The big question is not, do I want to, but rather, would I be foolish to do such a thing right now...? I really should start preparing for the three-session workshop I'm supposed to present at the upcoming teachers' convention. And I should also be getting ready for the rather foolish party we're hosting next Saturday (our friend, Dan, asked if we could host a birthday party for him, as his house is too small - as if ours is large - and I said that maybe it should be a joint party as Big Bear just had his own birthday, and Dan has invited all kinds of people and I'm panicking just a little bit... But it will be fun!). But what I really want to do is the scrapbook project! What to do??? I'll probably just end up playing Sudoku (when in doubt...).

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Sounds like it has been quite the Friday in the Great (almost white) North. You'll be so glad of the weekend! Similarly here. However, since it has taken me a hugely inordinate amount of time to even write these few sentences, I will just let you know that it has been frustratingly difficult to post anything for the last 2 days. After many attempts yesterday, I did manage to get the spring blossoms through to the blog. And tonight, after a number of half hearted attempts by our computer to connect with the blogsite, I think this posting will necessarily have to be photo-less. I will therefore bid you 'bon nuit'......GRRRRRRrrrrrr !!!

Slain good Samaritan

Hey.....but this link did come through!

NZ has been grieving the innocent death of a man who lost his life 2 days ago, when he came to the aid of a woman who was being assaulted in broad daylight in the middle of the city. Totally tragic, totally senseless.

It has caused people to look deep within themselves to ask the question if they would do the same as this brave man did, when faced with someone in need. I doubt this man even thought much about it when he went to the lady's rescue. I imagine it was something inherent within his moral fibre that just led to his immediate (and heroic) action. And so, I would like to think, that there is still hope for our society; that there would still be people who would unselfishly go to the aid of those in their moment of need. Not in a foolish or foolhardy way, but with the basic compunction to see basic standards of justice and mercy upheld.

Wishful optimism? I hope not.

Here is a link from the NZ Herald - a wonderful tribute to a good man. The heart and thoughts of our nation go out to his family.

Slain good Samaritan's family speak - 27 Sep 2008 - NZ Herald: New Zealand National news

Finished Friday!

It was a very intense day in my world. At recess, I had a quick conference with the principal, as she was out on playground duty. On my way back to the classroom, I encountered a kindy boy in the throes of passionate wailing; something traumatic must have happened to him! However, I discovered that this happens every day. Then there was Hunter, who had to go home with a headache. And our math test was way too hard for many of the students, who needed constant support and direction, every step of the way. Someone left cardstock in the photocopier and I ended up with truly hard copies of our spelling list - 24 of them. Austin was in time out at lunch and just couldn't seem to admit that he'd been hitting and kicking. Come to think of it, I really don't remember having a lunch time at all... One of my students informed me that she won't be back on Monday, as she is going to be homeschooled - after just three weeks with us. Juan was terribly naughty and had to sit by himself. All my loudest boys needed something NOW. And as the day progressed, the pace seemed to intensify...

There were, however, some very sunny moments! Here are three of them:

All my girls got together to paint a beautiful picture. I loved hearing them cooperate with each other, brainstorming, writing down their ideas, and voting on the best one.

Our school did the Terry Fox Run this afternoon. It was fun to see the students (and teachers) so excited to participate together!

The very best moment, however, was seeing James actually carrying a little kindy girl who was too tired to run, all the way down the lane. This boy, who has a hard time controlling his behavior, was being so kind and self-sacrificing - yay, James! And the little girl will now be his most devoted admirer for life!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Day in My Life

I decided to take a photo walk through my day in order to figure out just what it is that takes up all my time. On Thursdays I have lots of admin time and just teach three French classes. I began school at 8 am with a meeting about next week's grade three lessons, then herding children before the bell rang. I forgot to take pictures, though. I'm sure you can imagine...
9 am - Trevor led the whole school in physical activity over the PA system, jumping on one foot in the office as he gave instructions. The music blared through the entire building as kids and teachers everywhere participated. Except me. Tee hee!
10:35 am - I took a walk at recess with little Jonah, practicing obedience. I'm not sure that 15 minutes will do it for him...
10:45 am - I taught my grade two French classes; they're very sweet and are excited to learn French!
12:05 pm - I reviewed some grade three French work. Not terribly impressed.
1:15 pm - after a lunch time meeting, I spent some time at my desk reviewing some professional development goals and planning the next meeting. Do you see the pretty jar of jam a parent gave me yesterday?
2:20 pm - administration meeting with Ellen and Val. It sounds very serious, but we seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time laughing about silly things. And no, that's not red wine in my glass.
4:00 pm - a few of us, including a teacher from another school, gathered for a worship practice. We are leading devotions for the big 2-day convention coming up in early October.
5:35 pm - Awwww, it's Molly! Just as I was getting ready to leave, Loree's sweet puppy came trotting into the office to play!
5:45 pm - This was a lovely moment. As I was getting into my car, I noticed a lot of birdsong coming from the bushes. They were full of tiny little birds playing and singing together.
6:10 pm - Hanging out on the freeway... I couldn't drive in the HOV lane, as I didn't have any passengers.
6:40 pm - After my chiropractor's appointment, I crossed the road to get sushi for dinner. Yum!
7:10 pm - Dinner at last! Big Bear and Little Joe were very pleased to see me come home laden with food. Joe is missing his big brother, but at moments like this, he might be happier to have less competition at the dinner table! Look at that salmon sashimi - my favorite!
I'm still not sure what I did all day...

Spring wellbeing

Last day of school.

And what a glorious, glorious Spring day it is.

The air is heavily laced with the scent of spring blossom everywhere.

The sun is hot, my huge pile of washing is drying beautifully in the fresh air.

Someone is mowing their lawn in the neighbourhood (presumably as lush as ours is presently!)

A big fat bumblebee has just lazily cruised past, enjoying the wonderful colours in our garden

I have Jesse Cook’s harmonies gently flirting with the breeze out through our wide open French doors.

Boys’ gear is ready by the front door for their full afternoon & evening ahead.

Chocolate Caramel slice is baking in the oven, ready for our girls’ night out tonight

I have 1001 things to do today, and the crazy, crazy afternoon and weekend is about to begin.
But first, I just wanted to share my day with you and bring some Spring colour and warmth into your day, Ange of the North.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Band pract

We have just returned from a long day, capped off by Kids Band Practice. As I sat in the auditorium and listened to the kid (E!), teenagers, and young adults practising, I drifted back to thoughts from the dim dark ages. I remembered the sense of sheer satisfaction from playing music and especially from playing music in a team. Kinda like a team sport I guess. So here, I'm going to put my 2 cents' worth in. I think music is one of the most wonderful ways to touch a teenager's heart. Anybody's heart really, but particularly for those teen years - to be able to be a part of a band, an orchestra, a group, whatever - something they can put their heart and soul into. Just awesome. And if the music is passable, that is a bonus!

Tonight, these guys were simply amazing. I was humbled by the talent that is out there. My son was thrilled with all the technological toys that they had to work with....particularly with the Avion-thingy. No more horrible foldback speakers! You now all play with funky earpieces and you can control the sound you want to hear.....and even the youngest drummers can stay in beat with a special drumming metronome that is linked in with all the other new, delicious music-aids. So much fun!


Just as you enter spring Down Under, we have officially welcomed fall to the Great White North! Autumn began on September 21 (I know they have certain moments in the day for these kinds of things, but I don't know when, exactly...). I displayed my defiance by wearing open toed sandals - I like to hang on for as long as I can. It was okay, but I secretly wore fuzzy warm socks on the way to school in the chilly morning. (Don't tell.)
Yesterday I noticed the beginnings of the real thing - red leaves on the maple tree. Just a few, but they're definitely there.
And then, today, it happened. The rain. Real, miserable, chilly, grey rain.
Fall has arrived.

I know many people who claim they love fall; it's their favorite season. I can understand why they might say that. The colours that decorate the season can be truly beautiful, especially in the sun. But do not be deceived! Those vibrant colours and the crisp, woodsmokey smell in the air just serve to disguise what is really coming: driving to and from work in the rainy dark for far too many months.

Can't stop the seasons. Might as well embrace 'em all.

Monday, September 22, 2008


When I was at school, I don’t remember having a lot of ‘hands on’ learning experiences….at least, not till the latter years. Haven’t times changed for the better!

Dr Bob has been somewhat in demand to go and talk to the kids at school about their topic for the term – the respiratory system. Unfortunately, his time being what it is, he couldn’t fit in all the classes and preferential treatment had to be given to certain boys’ classes.
Tonight, he brought home some manekins and pull apart models, in preparation for his presentation. The boys were fascinated! I was fascinated! To think that all those ‘bits’ fit into my body just like that?! And just where do all my cups of tea go??! Surely not into that little pouch…..and as for that wee thing called a stomach…..(it’s obviously very stretchy!).

The boys have named the resuscitation manekin, “Percival”! Percival is supposed to be the size of a 6-7 year old. It’s pretty realistic in size, and a very cool gizmo….if a little macabre. L was a little uncertain about it to begin with! Tomorrow, I’m supposed to rush into the classes, panic-stricken that “Percival is not breathing”! The Dr is then supposed to simulate a mock emergency resuscitation.
I hope we don’t freak too many kids out. I can just hear dinner conversation that night –
Parents: So what did you do at school today?
Student: E and L’s daddy brought in some bodies that weren’t breathing...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Time Waster

The new camera is ultra COOL ! (You may well be hearing about this for quite some time to come! Bear with me. :-) )
Unfortunately, I have not had sufficient time to play with it yet. However, the 'men of the house' have had a little more spare time with which to indulge in techno "oohing and aahing" for me. It seems my new toy can do just about anything (except possibly my next assignment!), and is loaded with a truckload of 'intelligent' modes (perfect for those of us who need a bit more of that!). And it even takes BEAUTIFUL photos! Bonus.
I like this photo taken of our dinner last night. See the steam rising? After taking this shot, the cameraMAN discovered that there was an intelligent mode especially for cuisine! No wonder I'm in love with this camera!
Dinner was great too.

And this shot of a dandelion, was taken at maximum zoom from adult standing height. No tripod. Amazing. The mega Optical Image Stabilising feature is soooooo good.

And finally for today, I love the lighting on this one. Spring blossoms taken straight up with the blue sky as a backdrop. No trick photography. Real flowers. Real sky.

So far, I've heard that the facial and scene recognition features are amazing; you can 'text stamp' your pictures; you can programme in birthdates etc for a certain number of people, and when the camera takes the photo it automatically works out how old you are at the date of the photo; you can have special settings when taking baby photos - the flash unit and various other features combine to give the baby subjects a softer complexion(!); there's a setting for taking photos through aeroplane windows; you can simulate a pin hole camera amongst other things; you can take up to 13 pictures per second in some settings; and there is even a high definition setting for video recording that is better than our present video camera! And so on.

What a pity our diary is so full for the next 2 months.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ocean spray

How funny that you were walking by the ocean today, as we were Down Under! It has been a beautiful day here and there were even some brave souls swimming in the sea already! You might recall, that you won't see me in the water till the temps hit the 30's!

And what a wise man Mr Buchanan is...I hope you take good heed of the Sabbath advice! Hmmm...after the Leadership Conference, of course!

Sea Air

We spent today sitting in the leadership conference listening to amazing speakers and connecting with other school principals and vice principals. Now that the day is over, after a wonderful long walk beside the ocean and a yummy dinner and glass of merlot, Ellen and I are both so tired. My mind is spinning with lots of thoughts, but the one that stays with me comes from Mark Buchanan. He spoke about sabbath rest, a very pertinent topic for a group of driven people who spend their lives running non-stop. If we really believe that God is sovereign, he pointed out, then we can walk away from work for a day of rest, without things falling apart!

One of the best things about this conference, in my opinion, is the location. It is so good to be by the ocean, and our hotel is half a block from the pier. The smell of the sea makes me feel happy and calm; I wish I could smell it all the time!

We have more sessions tomorrow morning (they're really packing it in!), then at noon it will be all over. I wouldn't mind staying in this beautiful hotel for another day. Just one more! Please!

Friday, September 19, 2008

This is the Life for Me!

The rewards of teaching are generally intangible. It is a profession that brings the knowledge of having touched lives and changed the course of history in small ways, and is peppered with hugs, smiles, and warm fuzzy moments. Oh, and the funny moments (such as the Fact or Fantasy post from last week) are pretty good, too.
However, teachers rarely get to see any of those more tangible rewards that other people get. You know the ones I mean: Christmas bonuses, profit sharing, staff cruises, and the perks you hear about from dental assistants, painters, and electricians (although we sometimes get pretty spectacular presents from our students...).
So when I heard that I could go to a leadership conference on Vancouver Island this week, I was more than happy to partake in an almost-holiday!
Ellen and I met at 6 this morning near the ferry terminal and joined the long lineup of cars, having been informed that we may not get onto the 7:00 sailing. As the ship filled up, they kept letting just a few more vehicles board, then just a few more, until we were at the front of the line. The man directing let us sit there wondering -- would we get on, or would we be left sitting there for two more hours? Finally, we heard his radio crackle: "One more car!" Woo hoo! We cheered as he let us board - we were the very last car to get on!
Sidney-by-the-Sea is a very sweet town; this is where the Christian Schools Canada conference is being held, and we opted to pay a little extra to stay at the Sidney Pier Hotel. I highly recommend it! From my bed - the one closest to the window - I can see the ocean and the long pier. I love the decor, and the bedding is so soft and cozy!
I'm starting to be more comfortable hanging out with all these principals. It was more than a little intimidating when I first started going to this kind of event, but people are pretty friendly and there is lots of good learning happening. I went to a fascinating session on assessment - I'm sure that you're salivating at the thought of it! I'm especially looking forward to hearing Mark Buchanan speak. He's a wonderful writer who uses words like artists use paint. I have two of his books - The Holy Wild and The Rest of God.
It's quite wonderful to be away and to enjoy such a lovely hotel. You know that I'm generally a camping sort of girl, but I must say that this is the life for me!

The new arrival

I’ve got a new baby!
The baby’s all mine…
I love my new baby!
My baby’s divine!

It’s kept me so busy…
I’ve got much to learn!
Done oh, so much reading…
Got pictures to burn.

I’ve read through the manuals;
I’ve played with the knobs;
I’ve pressed all the buttons,
The bits, and the bobs.

I love the new noises;
The shape and the touch,
The colour, the angles,
I like it so much!

My babe’s a time-waster;
I just have to play...
It calls me, it woos me,
It takes up my day.

My view is all different.
I’ve now seen the light.
It’s how you portray things -
Give beauty its might.

I muse and I ponder.
I hope you become…
A vessel of good,
Not a vessel of harm.

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