Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Well, it's Hallowe'en Week, people, and the girlies are gearing up.

This year, the gang's all coming out to our place:  my girlies, my brother, sister, brother-in-law and 2 Nephews Extraordinaire.  It'll be a really full house, and to make things perfect, one of my dearest friends (who is a former make-up artist with the Vancouver Opera Company) is also going to be visiting that night.  It's going to be quite a PAR-TAY, to say the least, and with all the mischief-makers in residence, it's hard to anticipate whether there will be more TRICKS or more TREATS on the agenda.  (That thought alone is enough to boggle the mind, quite frankly.)

This morning, the topic-of-choice at the breakfast table was "Trick-or-Treat Strategy":  our small Creatures-of-the-Night spent at least half an hour on speaker-phone with their Uncle (our family's Grand Master of Hallowe'en), trying to determine how to maximize candy-intake, within the limited opportunity of one evening.

They discussed candy bag size, and whether it might be wise to stop home to empty the haul in between canvassing blocks of houses.  They noodled upon the possibility of riding their scooters, but nixed that idea when it was discovered that the youngest of the pack will be sporting a long Grim Reaper get-up, complete with gigantic scythe accessory...  They wracked their brains to remember the most generous houses from last year, and ensured that their route would be accurate and inclusive.  Then, horrified to discover that the Uncle had not yet planned his own costume, they threatened to dress him up in our finest Little Bo Peep outfit, a beautiful hand-made remnant from our dress-up box.  (He laughed heartily, and wisely changed the subject.)

Wee Three was surprisingly sedate during this conversation.  Usually the most enthusiastic of our resident junk food junkies,  I noted a nonchalance in her attitude that did not accurately reflect the usual ricocheting-off-the-wall anticipatory hyperactivity.

Me:  What's the scoop, Wee One?   You not that excited about Hallowe'en this year?

Wee Three:  (thoughtfully chewing a mouthful of cheerios)  Oh, yeah...  We'll get lots.

Me:  Well, then.  How do you plan to do that?  What's YOUR strategy for the haul?

Wee Three:  (eyes twinkling)  Same as always, mum.  It's easy:  RUN!!!

Brings new meaning to the phrase Sugar Rush, non?

Friday, October 18, 2013

My style of optimism...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Snippets from the edge.

On Wednesday of last week, I was happily teaching the last period of a grade one class.  They're not my own class, mind...  but I sure regard them as a "bonus":  After a full day of working in the Special Education Centre at my new school, I'm lucky enough to have "prep coverage" for a grade one teacher during the final forty minutes.  This means I get to do ARTS with these kids:  drama, dance, music...  and not surprisingly, it has become something I really look forward to-- my "reward" at the end of a long and challenging schedule.

We were doing a music lesson, and I had just finished teaching the kids the old camp song, "Poor Little Bug on the Wall":

Poor little bug on the wall!
Nobody loves him at all.
No one to blow his nose,
No one to tickle his toes,
Poor little bug on the wall!

One of the things I love MOST about teaching the littlest students is that when they giggle hard enough, they actually tip over, and remind me of the Weebles toys I loved to play with when I was a child.

One little girl did NOT find the lyrics amusing, however:

"That's SUCH a SAD SONG!!!"

Yes, I replied, it IS a sad song.  Cue the perfect segue for the next part of the lesson:  How many different ways can you sing the song by changing the sound of your voice?  Could you make the song SOUND really, really sad?  What does "happy" singing sound like?  (How could we cheer this song up?)  Then, what about "angry" singing?  Heck, what if different animals were to sing the song??

We had a rollicking good half-hour together.

Before the bell was to ring, I reminded the children that we would all be going on our first field trip together the next day.  They were all to remember to dress warmly (with wellies on!!) to attend the Fall Fair.

As a "ticket out the door", I said that each student would have to tell me the answer to a question, using a "complete sentence" response.  The question was:

"What are you MOST looking forward to seeing at the Fall Fair tomorrow?"

Now, some of these children are very, very young-- really, just glorified kindergarten students, and many of them are English Language Learners, as well.  So, I prompted them:

"I am MOST looking forward to seeing..."

And each kid would repeat my words, then fill in the blank.

I was slightly alarmed when answers such as "ZEBRAS!" started cropping up.

"No," I said as gently as I could, "I don't think so.  Can you think of something else???"

When the subject of "GIRAFFES!!" was broached, I couldn't take it any more.

After all, I'm a proud "farm country" girl.  I know that Farmers Feed Cities.  I shop local markets.  I know exactly where my meat comes from, and I expound on the fact that "Good Things Grow In Ontario" whenever I get the chance.

The kids patiently listened to my spiel, and didn't even seem all that disappointed by the time I was done. Once I was fully satisfied that they all understood the "No Giraffes at the Fall Fair, and Why" lecture, I allowed them to pack their little backpacks and go home.

Bright and early on Thursday morning, we all clambered onto a rickety orange bus that smelled like old cheese...  but we didn't care!  Everyone was leg-swingingly happy as we drove up the main road North, on our way to the fair grounds.

The squealing started at the first sight of the ferris wheel, and grew louder as the scent of hot buttered popcorn and spun sugar candy wafted over us through all the windows I had opened.

"NOPE," I said firmly, to groans of disappointment.  "That's not why we're here!!"

I reminded everyone of the farm animals we had listed the day before-- and what's more, the wide variety of craft competitions, the horse jumping exhibition, and the Ontario Dairy display-- they might get a chance to milk a cow!!  Excitement resumed-- amazingly, I had discovered that there was more than one child who had never clapped EYES on a cow...

We exited the bus, and made our way in a line through the throngs of other screaming children.

And you'll never GUESS what was waiting for us in the first field, smack to the right of the Main Entrance Gates...

To a multitude of the delighted screeches of "MS. BAAAAAAKER...  We thought you SAAAAAID..."

I looked over and saw:

An elephant.

May God have mercy on my poor, weary soul...

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