Dear Ricky; Thanks for your visit to the Island -- it was fun to be your hosts! Here's a little online photo album so that you can better remember your adventures on PEI this summer... remember to click the images to enlarge them. xxoo, Vera, Alex & Simon :)
Mousehunt in Ch'town
Lighthouses and Sunsets
Even a visit to and personal tour of the local police station...
And let's not forget the excellent movie we saw in the rain (hehe. haha!), the stunning view from "little mouse", our hearty trek to the cliffs in Cavendish and all the woolly friends we saw. Between the sights and the endless seafood lunches and dinners, well, you must be very full! (Who knew one could pack so much into a single week???!!!)
I know the old saying, "Company: Love to see them come, love to see them go!" But truth be told, Ricky, we were more than a little sad to see your plane take off tonight.
Hope you've landed safely by the time I publish this, and enjoy this little photo essay of your week on PEI!
"One week is too short!" Alex and Simon complained this year, their third year of Art Camp at the Confederation Centre. They really got into their work this summer, learning various new techniques, and even requesting a sketch book to use after class on their own time, to practise at home.
Thanks to reasonably reliable wifi, Daddy got to enjoy the end-of-camp show as well from Ontario, with a personal tour from Simon.
Rick, who is visiting from Toronto this week, was pleased to see the work the boys did; his favourite was a scrimshaw the boys had made. I myself was partial to the wire trees (not pictured) and the marionettes.
Next year will be their final year as campers; following that, Simon and Alex can volunteer for the kids' camps if they want to, and/or attend the teen program.
Despite our 4:30 a.m. wake up and scramble earlier this week, we missed the dog kennel boarding cut-off by 4 minutes, and Sneakers and Tats were not able to board their flight back to Toronto!!! Non-plussed by the change to an alternate flight later that evening, Sneakers made the most of her extra day on the island by spending the morning at Upton, where she bounded about like a cross between a doe and a kangaroo, played with other doggies she met, and made scary shark faces at us!
Later in the day, the furry beast made an appearance at Art Camp, where she was immediately surrounded by friends and admirers!
There's a fellow pounding nails into a dead tree out front of the Confed Ctr in Ch'town.
Turns out Paul Griffin, the Canadian logger-come-Artist responsible for Sarcophagus for an Elm is in town to create Sarcophagus 2, an installation featuring a 110-year-old elm tree and 100 000 electroplated galvanized nails.
I immediately smelled a math problem!
Looking at the whole log structure, and honing in on a small patch of nails, I asked the boys, who had just come from their first day of Art camp, how they thought the artist might have estimated the number of nails required to complete the project.
Paul overheard our conversation, and jumped in to confirm my suspicions: He'd covered half a square foot of the log with nails, then doubled that, and calculated how many square feet of nails would be needed to cover the log, which is in essence a series of cylinders. (I thought fondly of my Grade 8s this past year!)
If you prefer time to surface area, Paul anticipates the project will take 3-4 weeks to complete. That's good for at least three periods worth of estimation and calculation problems Grades Two through Six!!
Came across a postcard-perfect shot at the lighthouse beach the other day, so we snapped a few pics whilst the kids danced around through it, and the dawg built a sandcastle nearby...
We also had a chance to reconnect with some friends in Ch'town recently, at the annual Pride Week Coffee House at Beanz, where we heard a variety of excellent and still-growing performers, and won a prize watermelon with our group's combined knowledge of queer trivia!
The next day, our Ch'town friends came to visit with their doggie for a playdate. Sneakers and Luka played and played and played and played, and swam and swam and swam, and ran and ran and ran and ran... Sneakers was still tired this morning!
Although, she still had the energy to dismantle the wood pile out back of the house, lol!
It's nice to have a dog on the island again... but it SURE IS BUSY!!!! :)
At 10:22 on Friday night, I boarded an AC flight from YYZ to YYG for my first trek of the season to PEI.
I'd brought a friend with me, one who'd not yet visited the island, and it was fun to anticipate our adventures together.
Although the visit was a short one (2.5 days), we did our best to pack it with Island "stuff"!
Arriving after midnight meant a visit to the all night Sobey's in Ch'town before heading out to the house. Brian obligingly picked us up and went grocery shopping with us -- never saw a grocery story at 2 a.m. before; they took advantage of the lull in shoppers to restock the shelves! -- before driving us out to St Peter's Harbour, around the corner from his own Red Head Harbour.
The night sky was bejewelled with stars, and the Milky way was clearly visible overhead. One of my favourite things about the island (and one which differentiates it so from Toronto) is the sky, and I felt so much joy at this astronomical greeting from above as we pulled into the driveway and unpacked our bags from Brian's trunk.
The boys downed a Gahan House from the fridge which I had had the foresight to prearrange (the beer, not the fridge) while I unpacked groceries and suitcases, and discovered that somewhere between removing my gloriously noise-cancelling headphones and arriving at the house, the headphones had disappeared. Crumb!
Thankfully, Brian had the number to the commissionaire memorised (one advantage of having a friend who works at the tower!!), and I wrote it on a scrap to follow up later.
By the time we'd unpacked and finished catching up, it was after 4 a.m., and glimmers of sunrise were hinting at making themselves known on the horizon, so I stayed up a little longer, and captured the pre-sunrise on my iPhone before falling into bed.
The next "morning" (well alright, it was closer to noon!) our house looker after swung by with the plumber to do a few odd jobs. Then we lounged about and got caught up with the neighbours on one side.
Afterwards I had a nap in the hammock - nice!
Then it was time to show Rick the beach and the light house. We set off into the late afternoon windy sunshine, and snapped a few pics of the old pier en route. How strange it was to be walking in 22-degree sunshine and still see remnants of snow along the treeline!
Sunday was more of a cloudy Island day; rain seemed inevitable, but we'd determined to bike into Morell so that I could show Rick the village, and so I could go to the bank and get some money for our house guy, who had presented me with a bill for the winter's work!!
Although Tats' bike had not weathered the winter on PEI particularly well, and was desperately in need of a new chain, my bike seemed okay, as did one of the others, and we set out towards Hwy 2.
Camera-less, Rick took away only memories of the RedHead fishing huts, the Morell River, and the local stretch of the confederation trail (the visitors' centre was not yet open for the season) before stopping at the bank machine to complete my errand.
Once we arrived back home, we fed ourselves a decent lunch, and then it was off to another vigorous nap in the hammock for me and one on the couch for Rick, before our Sunday night Lobster Dinner, which we had been invited to by our new neighbours Syd and Katie.
The dinner was both delicious and entertaining, as it afforded me an opportunity to meet many "from away" neighbours who'd come to the island to open up their summer homes, or who were living there year round and were eager for the first big social event of the season.
Interestingly, several houses down the road from ours had been purchased by Ontarians over the past 12 months, and I was able to connect with several new neighbours.
Rick endeared himself to all by washing dishes for most of the night. Being an extreme introvert, this was ideal; he was able to observe the proceedings from his central post at the open concept kitchen sink while avoiding direct conversation for much of the evening!
The next morning we took one more jaunt down to the beach as well as the subdivision at the end of the road, and then prepared for our departure after lunch. Brian came to enjoy said lunch with us before taking us into town so that Rick could get a lay of the land in Confederation's birthplace.
No visit to Ch'town is complete without a stop at Cow's ice cream -- Rick treated us to a few scoops at Peake's Warf, and then it was off to pick up some treats for Simon and Alex as well as my Grade 7s at the much-fabled Anne of Green Gables Chocolate Shop... still no chocolate covered red licorice in stock, but we made due with a few containers of their famous chocolate covered potato chips, which I had told my homeroom students about last week, and had promised to try and obtain.
Finally, sadly, it was time to say good-bye to the island, and head off to the Airport.
After checking Rick in (he was on a different plane home than I), we popped over to the tower for a quick tour -- Brian showed Rick how aircraft show up on the radar, and we saw a smaller plane land on 03 before heading back down to the terminal to make our way through security.
Boarding my own aircraft a short time later was a bittersweet event: On the one hand, I am looking forward to returning to my Tatsy tonight; on the other hand, I already miss the island, and am not sure how I will weather the weeks until end July when I finally head back for a full month of summer vacation (this time with the kids).
Our PEI neighbours sent us a few pics this past week, including a satellite image of the Island, and several shots of our snow-ensconced house. Can't wait to get out there for the May long weekend!
No, it's not a washing machine or a spaceship -- it's a semi-automatic Fiat, which is what the car rental company gave me when I arrived in Ch'town near midnight on Thursday evening, after spending four intense days in Toronto setting up my classroom, lol!
Although the first day/night back on the Island was super windy and rainy, we enjoyed an incredible Saturday with a friend and neighbour of ours at Greenwich... explored the beach, did a little geocaching, picked wild raspberries, found some giant lobster claws to show my students (for Science this year), and even stumbled upon a seal carcass! We were also blessed with the opportunity to observe a flying lesson, as a mother hawk taught her two "little" ones how to swoop! It was pretty neat to watch from down below.
We took many photos to document our discoveries, which included -- in addition to the items above -- some "baby dunes" and a large mushroom.
After several hours of walking, I had a bit of a desperate hankering for pie, which was not to be found anywhere nearby, so we ended up having dinner at the pricey but delightfully delicious Inn at St Peter's, overlooking the bay. Although they did not have pie on their dessert menu, both the main courses and the deserts we ended up with more than made up for that disappointment!!!
What a lovely way to end the summer and celebrate the beginning of the new season ahead...
The August sunrise over the city was indeed lovely at 6:15 am this morning... at that point, I'd already been up for an hour, creating dayplan templates on the computer, since I simply hadn't been able to keep my eyes open past 1:00 a.m. while working on them the "night" before after spending a full day at school!
At 6:15, before the boys woke up, I took a little break and walked out onto the balcony to appreciate my scenic view for a few minutes.
Today marked Day 4 in my week of "slogging" in my new classroom, and thanks to the support of a cast of thousands (okay, well, maybe "dozens" is closer to the truth), my room is beginning to look like a place where I can teach and students can learn math. And science.
This is the first time I've forgotten to take "before" photos, but rest assured, it was the usual mess of falling apart bulletin boards and desks all mashed up in a big pile in the middle of the room when I arrived on Monday morning.
Thankfully (and fortuitously), I had happened across a newly-hired OT from my board while running a yard sale in the adjacent city earlier in the summer; she was buying one of my old Anne Davies professional resources and a whole slew of kids' books. When she told me she was a new and as-yet-unassigned teacher in my board, I rubbed my hands together with glee, and tried to temper my delirious excitement when I asked her if she might want to volunteer in my classroom in exchange for some experience and mentoring!!! (My partner is currently living and working in another province, and I won't have a student teacher until January, so I was all alone this year for classroom set-up; no easy feat when moving to a new school, especially after being on leave for a year!)
The dear girl obliged, and faithfully followed up by email a few weeks before school return as I had instructed her to. (Not only that, but she also makes her own cosmetic products, and is TESL certified -- I can tell this is a good one, and I am sure she will be working full time in no time, but in the meantime, I hope to develop a symbiotic professional relationship!)
Brittany was a Godsend, almost single-handedly putting together my bulletin boards (I decided on the more cost- and time-effective fadeless paper route this time, rather than painting, but there still seemed to be a ridiculously large quantity of trim to cut and staple.... and then we ran out of staples on the first day and had to go begging for more!). She also did a goodly chunk of the cleaning out, sorting and labeling of lower cabinets. (Alex and I had done the upper ones earlier in the week.)
Once again I swore not to spend my own money on my classroom, and once again, I relieved myself of nearly a thousand dollars: Ikea-furnished reading corner (yes, even Grade 7 and 8s love that stuff!!), artsy trim, math-inspired and encouraging quote posters, markers, notebooks and pocket files!!! Yes, it's true, apparently this intermediate school does not supply student "stuff". But I NEEDED the pocket files, for how else was I going to implement the brilliant guided/balanced math program I had learned about at one of the workshops I attended this summer and plan to run this year, featuring problem solving folders???!!!
Since the school seems to be flush for manipulatives, and since my new classroom has ample storage, and since my "moving guy" with a van has had some health problems which precluded him from being as involved this year as in previous years, I elected to finally let go of my trusty, wooden math storage unit and blue bins filled with manipulatives that I have acquired over the years. ($1000 worth of stuff I sold for under $300 -- ahhh, but it makes me happy to empower another teacher, whose mental health and whose students will surely benefit from the availability of well organized, classroom-based manipulatives).
And it offset my own costs somewhat.
While unpacking various and sundry boxes, I happened across the charger for my old iPad which had been stolen in BsAs last year -- sent it over to my old school, which gratefully accepted the donation, since they have a whole whack of old iPads with frequently-missing cords!
My new school/classroom comes with pros and cons. A few of both:
It's Thursday night now, and after four full days (and nights) of working to prepare for Week One as best as possible, I am off to spend one final weekend on PEI. Despite the help of a dear friend, who hung out with the kids for a few days so they wouldn't have to be bored to tears helping mom and dad put their classrooms together, and the help of said dad, who offered rides in exchange for breakfasts, dinners and other treats, and the help of the kids themselves, who at age 10 are actually beginning to be useful in such matters, and the help of the lovely Brittany, who really did some hard manual labour for the two part-days she was in, I could STILL use about 6 more hours to get ready, lol!
But my body is TIRED and BROKEN, and I simply need to get one more weekend in on the Island before the season is over for another year. It's important for both my soul and for my relationship, the latter of which will suffer enough hardships as we embark on our first year of nearly full-time long distance!!!
My desks are grouped, my day plans are copied, materials for the first activity are sorted and set up, and I am ready for a few days of pastoral serenity.
PEI, here I come....
One of the pilots I sometimes fly with on PEI used to joke that this is a flying club where people sit around and talk about flying, but nobody actually flies! ;-P
It's true that more of the boys seem to sit around at the GA building after breakfast than are actually in the air on any given day, but in fairness, the weather was not particularly inviting today....
One of the guys brought a baby, though, and that was good fun: Willem and I discovered an old luggage cart near the lounge, and we wheeled around a bit until we found another willing "driver" to take the 14-month-old passenger for an extended ride around the apron!
After writing for several teacher and multiple birth publications, including ETFO's Voice Magazine, Multiple Moments, and the Bulletwin, Vera now focuses most of her written attention to prolific blogging, including BiB, "Learn to Fly with Vera!" and, more recently, SMARTbansho and Homeschooling 4. Contact Vera by clicking the photo above.
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