Slice of Life: The Bus

A few months ago, the city bus routes were changed.  Two stops on our street were combined into one, and the new stop was placed at the end of our driveway.  Like all kids, I think, mine have been obsessed with the bus for a long time, but when it began stopping at the end of our driveway multiple times each day, they became convinced they needed to ride it.

Now, about once a week, we go to the end of our driveway, ask a million times, “Is it coming yet?  Where’s the bus?” and when it finally arrives we hop on.  Bus Number 6 takes us downtown to the terminal.  From there, it is only a 2 block walk to the indoor playground.  We spend 2-3 hours there, enjoying the air conditioning.  I carefully watch the clock so we drive back at the terminal in time for Number 6 to take us home again. “Is it time to pull the cord?”  is repeated many times on the way home, until finally our stop is in sight and everyone pulls the cord together.

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I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

Year 1:  Claire was 6 months old.  I wanted strawberries to make jam, so I hauled the two of us to the pick-your-own farm.  I wanted to start a tradition too.  It’s a 45 minute drive, and I think that was the first time she ever slept for 2 hours during the day without being held.  Seriously.  I put her car seat in the stroller and bought strawberries out of the fridge instead of picking our own. She woke up just as we got home.

Year 2:  She was 18 months old and slept through the entire strawberry experience again. This time I put her in the stroller thinking she’d wake up and we could ride the tractor pulled wagon out to the field.  Instead, I pushed her around for a while, then got strawberries out of the fridge.  A few weeks later we picked raspberries instead. She ate many more than she contributed to the basket.  I was exhausted, but committed to the tradition!

Year 3:  Both kids slept through the entire experience.  Even when I transferred them from car to stroller to car with my cold refrigerator strawberries in the back.

Year 4:  We met friends at the strawberry field.  We were late because both were so sleepy they didn’t want to get out of the car, but I woke them, carrying Spencer on my lap while we rode the wagon out to the field.  I picked 3 baskets full while they watched. Spencer ate half a basket’s worth during the ride back to the barn.

Year 5:  I picked.  They ate.  And they complained about the heat and the threat of bees and the mud.  But they got ice cream afterward.

Year 6:  I picked.  They ate.  And they complained about the heat and the threat of bees and the lack of water because they were without water bottles for 45 minutes.  Spencer fell asleep on the wagon on the way back to the barn, then slept on our picnic blanket while Claire played on the slide and monkey bars. Once again, I carried him back to the van, strapped him in, and made sure he was comfortable for the ride home.  He slept though that too, waking just as we arrived home.

So, I have my strawberry picking tradition.  They have theirs. And in the end, we all have our own versions of the memory to share.

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I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com


The first morning of our family vacation, I woke up at my mother-in-law’s house and wondered about the time.  We had no particular plans for the day, so it actually, truly didn’t matter what time it was.  When we were there, someone else does the cooking, someone else worries about how clean the house is, and if I really want it, someone else will take charge of my children while I nap.  It’s a great place for a vacation.

We chose to fly there this year.  It’s a 25 hour drive that we have made several times, but it feels like much more than that.  My husband and son left a few days before school ended.  The morning after the last day, my daughter and I hopped in a cab for the 5 minute ride to the airport.  We patiently waited for our Bearskin Airlines flight to take off, and before we knew it we were on our way.  There are only 21 seats on Bearskin planes.  We took up 2, and there were 2 other people.  We landed 20 minutes later, letting 2 more on. We landed an hour after that and let one person off.  We landed an hour and a  half later, and we all switched planes to head to different destinations. We landed an hour later to let 2 people off and 1 on.  Thirty minutes later we were landing at the Kenora Airport. They call this type of a flight a “milk run” because there rare so many stops.

After 7 days of riding in the boat, being dragged behind it on a tube, spotting bald eagles, fishing for crayfish, and enjoying letting someone else do the work, it was time to reverse the trip and head home. The Kenora Airport is about the size of the library at my school.  There is no security, and nobody carries your bags to the plane for you.  Five minutes before we boarded the plane, the pilots were watching TV with their feet up on a desk.

As we walked out to the plane, we were accompanied by the desk receptionist / ticket taker.  She had put on an official looking orange vest, so I’m assuming she had some other job title as well.  The pilot said to her, “Can you call Jerry for me?”  She responded, “Sure.” and then yelled, “JERRY!!”  A guy came out of a shed, also wearing an orange vest.  I assume he was Jerry.

The trip home involved a potential stop at yet another airport, but they were fogged in.  Fog.  In July.  That’s North-Western Ontario for you.  We stopped at all the same places, took the bus home from the airport, and I am now at my own house, doing all my own housework, but still not worrying about the time.



Slice of Life: Book Love

On Monday, my class heard back from Leisel Shurtliff.  We’d sent her some fan mail, and she wrote back!  They were so excited, and disappointed that her next book won’t be out until they are long out of my class (P.S. school ends Thursday, but they were still surprised we won’t be able to read the next book together.)

Last Monday we received a package in the mail.  It contained 4 Ricky Ricotta books: I replacement for the one I complained about on Twitter (it fell apart…) as well as a few others, including the 9th, which we hadn’t read yet.  We had a draw to determine reading order. The first winner gloated for a whole day instead of reading it, the second read it rather quickly, and now the third is taking his sweet time.  He’s been late to school, takes extra long washroom breaks, and needs to be reminded each day that there are 11 people in line behind him hoping to get to it before Thursday at 2:30.  He’s done this sort of thing all year, but now his peers are laying on the pressure for him to change his slow-reading ways. The kid who kicked off the Ricky Ricotta craze in our room might not even get to #9 (he’s 6th on the list) which disappoints him greatly.  Let me repeat: he’s disappointed about not getting to read a book.

Of all of my year goals, this is one that stays year after year, class after class:  I want my students to leave having loved a book they read that year, or that I read to them.  I want them to see the joy for themselves.

I’ll take Ricky Ricotta #9 and place it on That Kid’s desk for the first day of school in September so he can read it first.  He’ll still be excited to read it, and I am sure he’ll pass it around a bit before it makes it’s way to my new class.  Maybe they will already be falling in love with their first book of the year.

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I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

Slice of Life: Spring

Spring around here means black fly season.  These annoying tiny flies look much like  house flies, but they bite.  Their venom is worse than whatever mosquitoes inject.  The bites swell and itch like crazy.

During some black fly bite induced insomnia this week, I was lying awake, scratching and thinking about how nice it is to be outside more.  Sure, the bugs are discouraging, but the heat feels so luscious about months of freezing temperatures. I decided to take everyone outside for science later that day.

Just after our second recess, we headed to the back yard of our school.  There is a meadow there, just off school property, and in the middle there is a sand pit.  I had our compost box, which needed to be dumped before summer.  We were comparing different types of soil.  Well, some of us were.  Others were too preoccupied with counting the number of bugs they had killed, or the amount of sweat dripping down their temples.

I finally gave in.  I took them inside.  We did some stuff. About 20 minutes before the bell to go home would ring, other classes started going outside to play for a few minutes.  This often happens on a Friday in May or June.  Of course, my monkeys wanted to join in.  “Sorry,” I said.  “It’s still hot out, and there are still bugs and dirt out there.  You don’t actually want to go outside.”  They were stunned.  I’d used their own weapons against them!  We stayed inside.

We’ll be outside again this week, trying to finish up our learning about soil and learning a bit more about plants.  And probably complaining about all of our bug bites.  Only in Canada will you find a kid who says in May, “I miss having snow outside!”

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Slice of Life:

We started off our long weekend by cancelling our plans to go camping. I’ve been overwhelmed by the work that goes into teaching this year, and instead of sounding fun, camping sounded hard.

Luckily our children are young enough that sleeping in the backyard is still camping. Saturday was spent relocating the stuffed animal brigade, or at least part of it, to the tent trailer in the back yard.  Every pillow in the house, and most of the blankets were dragged out, arranged and rearranged.  Of course this was all too exciting for anyone to be able to sleep. We eventually slept, and then repeated the process on Sunday night. After two days of playing in the sun, working in the yard, and fighting over who got to sleep with the orange teddy, everyone was asleep in minutes. On Monday night, they were both zonked by 7:15.

Turns out backyard camping is it’s own kind of hard!

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I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com


Slice of Life:

The End

We finally reached it.  I even said those words:  The End.

I’ve been reading “Jack” by Liesel Shurtliff to my class.  Earlier in the year, we read “Rump”, and they were desperate to finish Jack mainly so we could get to “Red” before the school year ends.  I don’t usually choose an entire series (or at least what is published so far of this series) to a class.  I would usually read the first, then make the rest available for them to choose as independent reading.  But this series was just too much for us, and a bit above the reading level of several students who LOVED Rump.  So I’ve kept going.

Everyone let out a collective “Ah!”, very satisfied with the ending of this one.

We sat in silence for a minute.  “OK. So.  Vote for me.  Which was better:  Rump or Jack?” It was 50/50, but when I said, “Who can’t decide because they were both so awesome?”  every hand went up.  “Jack vs. Castle in the Attic?”  Jack won.  He also own over Fantastic Mr. Fox.  “Jack vs. Edward Tulane?”  Sorry, Jack.  Edward can’t be beat.

“Raise your hand if you would read any book by Liesel Shurtliff.”  Every hand went up.

Now that’s good writing.

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I try to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge every Tuesday. You can read more at twowritingteachers.wordpress.com



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