Awesome # 251: When Everything Comes Together

This week was a hectic one – what with the assembly of my students’ haunted ghost village, and being partly in charge of planning the rest of the Halloween activities for the primary students. And it wasn’t by any means free of hiccups. However, despite any doubts I may have had, everything came together.

This morning I split my students up into 2 groups. Half came with me – they disguised themselves in garbage bags and hid among the props in the haunted ghost village. Lights off and creepy sound effects blaring, they snuck up on the secondary students as they wandered through a graveyard of bristol board tombstones, toilet paper roll bat-infested trees, and cardboard box houses infested with egg carton spiders and haunted by plastic bag ghosts. The rest of my students stayed in the classroom to colour a picture for a colouring contest, on which the whole school voted. After the first period, we switched.

In the afternoon, the other primary teachers and I set up stations. I hosted a Halloween-themed BINGO competition with prizes and candy; another teacher made masks; and, the last led games in the gym. Students were mixed up and divided into 3 groups and, for 45 minute periods, they rotated through the “stations”.

Everyone had a blast. Needless to say, it’s awesome when everything comes together.

I don’t have any photographs of the haunted ghost village because I was too busy ensuring that none of my little monsters got punched in the face out of fright to take any, and unfortunately it was pretty trampled by the end of the morning. However, I will post a few photographs from the internet that inspired its construction.

Happy Halloween!


Awesome # 250: Photo Opportunities

On my way to school this morning, stormy skies and fresh, untainted snow caught my attention. Two minutes into my 3-minute walk to school, I decided to turn around, go home and get my camera so I could take advantage of this photo opportunity. Here are 4 photographs – all very similar but each so beautiful, in my opinion, that I can’t bring myself to leave any out:

Awesome # 249: Help

Thanks to a group of very helpful students this morning, the haunted ghost village that my students and I are putting together for the Halloween at school is coming together quite nicely. It’s also coming together in a significantly less stressful way.

My students and I have been painting boxes, making paper bag ghosts and toilet paper roll bats, along with tonnes of other haunted ghost village essentials, for 2 weeks now. This morning, all that was left to do was coat virtually every wall and surface in the school computer room with black garbage bags, so as to make it as dark as possible (a surprisingly tedious task, which I immediately upon beginning, anticipated to be doing all morning), and putting all of our props in place.

With the help of these students, and the sacrifice of one of their own free periods, I’ve not only salvaged some of my own free time (which I desperately needed to plan and prepare activities for my own students), I’ve also salvaged both my sanity, and some of the Halloween spirit that I’ve managed to muster up despite all the busy Halloween hoopla.

Nakurmimairaaluk M, N, J, E, A, M and J!

Awesome # 248: Culinary Adventures

Thanks to Halloween festivity, seasonal abundance, a collection of cookbooks and the internet, I’ve both a freezer full of chopped up pumpkin and a collection of recipes that I intend to taste over the next little while. Likely flown up here intended to live the short life of a Jack-O-Lantern, I saved these pumpkins from their otherwise inevitable rotten or smashed-up doom because they’re too awesome for that.

Pumpkins are not only delicious and nutritions, they’re so versatile – a compliment to many a dish from many an ethnic cuisine.  I’m on a culinary adventure.

Awesome # 247: The First True Snow Fall

Tasiujaq has been blanketed by a thin veil of snow a few times since September. On a few occasions, the icy crystals had fallen over this little village lightly, but persistently. Qualitatively, it constituted snow, but quantitatively, it wasn’t worth bothering with. It was minimal, and it was only temporary – either melting or blowing away into the tundra within a few days.

It was only recently that we received our first true snow fall – snow fall substantial enough to warrant acknowledgement as such. Last weekend, everything all but stopped – the slow-paced life of Tasiujaq was rendered even slower – as the snow fell quietly over every mountain, rock and building. The thick flakes fell boldly, as if to say “I’m here to stay”, and clung onto every surface with determination. The wind blew with the kind of vehemence that locked it into place rather than blew it away. Winter is here.

Mentally, I’m not quite prepared for winter, and we’re in for a long, cold and dark one. I know that once the snow is here to stay, it will be here until June. I also know that by about March, I will come to loathe it. But despite all that, I’m still (a bit surprisingly) able to find the beauty and magic in the first true snow fall. Whether it’s the Christmas spirit or just the spirit of winter in general my spirit is always lifted on the day of the first true snow fall. It’s lifted just by the mere sparkly-ness of my surroundings. But there’s more to the first true snow fall than just its beauty.

The first true snow fall is awesome because it elicits intense feelings of nostalgia.

I bask in memories of sliding at Centennial Park with my sister and friends, and of playing “Batman” in my neighbour’s backyard when I was a child. I remember having picnics in freshly built snow forts and sliding at the Swan Pond in Sackville with friends in university. I remember that smell of a burning wood stove that so often frequented rural Maritime air when I lived there. I crave the steamy apple ciders I drank on many a Saturday morning during the winter at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, and the hearty home-cooked stews of my childhood. I remember my first experience of a Tasiujaq snow fall, which had occurred much earlier in the year than I was accustomed to.

The first true snow fall is awesome because it comes with a real sense of comfort. At home, I bask in the softness of flannel pyjamas and wool socks. Outside, I bask in the warmth of thick knit scarves and warm, homemade mittens. T’is the season to be cozy.

And, the first true snow fall is awesome because it elicits an intense feeling of excitement. I think of the children’s excitement each year I’ve been teaching, on the day of the first true snowfall of that year. I also remember José, a little boy from Cuba who was in a grade 3/4 class in which I’d once worked, and his amazement when he saw snow fall for the first time. I bask in the excitement of a season of festivity and coming togetherness, and with child-like anticipation, I bask in the excitement of reunions and the joy that they will bring. With this first true snow fall comes the knowledge that they’re not so far away.

I hope everyone takes the time to relish the awesome in their first true snow fall.

Tasiujaq’s first snow fall, 2010.

Awesome # 246: Payoff

I, much to my surprise, did not gain any weight after a summer of travel, foreign food and off-kilter exercise routines, but I was definitely getting less attentive to what, and how much I was eating. Before I fell off the wagon completely, I decided to re-join Weight Watchers online.

Since joining 2 months ago, I’ll be honest, my efforts have been mediocre and my results have reflected this. My weight has been fluctuating up and down. Luckily I’ve maintained, on average throughout the span of a month, right around my original (2010) weight goal. But, while this has been a good weight for me since I reached my goal almost 3 years ago, I wouldn’t mind losing another 10 pounds.

After a disappointing weigh in last week (though it wasn’t surprising, as I’d indulged in a number of effort-sabotagers the night before), I decided to truly get serious and down to business. This week I tracked, I measured, I made the healthiest of food choices. I drank lots of water and took my vitamins. I also added a bit of spice into my workout routine with the new yoga DVD (Bob Harper’s “Power Yoga For The Warrior”) that I’d received in the mail the other day.

Today, I saw the payoff – I was down 3.8 pounds. Both gratified and motivated, I embark on another week of healthy eating and exercise in the hopes that I will, this time next week, be writing my post of awesome a slightly lighter person.

Awesome # 245: Solid Advice

Horace was onto something – Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Taking it slightly out of context, I, upon waking up this morning to sunshine and calm wind for the first time in awhile, decided to seize the day. Seeing as we’re in that time of year when you just don’t know what the weather’s going to be like – a time of the year when sunshine and calm winds are fleeting conditions, and scarce ones at that – I decided to forgo my usual Saturday morning routine, bundle up and go on a hike on the tundra.

Four hours and a picnic on the mountain later, I’d returned to my house revitalized and jubilant, thankful for this solid advice and happy to have decided to seize the day.

Tundra somewhere between the village and Mairaaluk.