Archives for October 2016

Happy Halloween!

It’s Halloween! I freely confess, this is not my favourite of holidays. When you’re a little bit introverted the whole thing can feel slightly intimidating. Plus I’m actually a gigantic scaredy cat. Horror movies are so not my thing, and the loud noises of the neighbourhood kids setting of firecrackers in the park all night are jarring to me.

But my kids adore Halloween, and now that I’m a teacher I’m required to get in the spirit of things at work, as well. So, I help my kids pull together costumes every year, and get dressed up myself. I buy a bunch of candy and am very generous with trick-or-treaters who come to my door. I decorate the house and try to make it fun for everyone else.

One thing that I do actually enjoy every year is carving pumpkins with my kiddos. I am not the most confident carver, though, and usually stick with a pretty basic design. These jack-o-lanterns from 2013 are a good example of my typical handiwork:

jack o lantern halloween pumpkin

This year I decided to step things up a notch, though. I got some templates from Netflix and opted to create this Panda, from Jim Henson’s Word Party.

netflix

Meanwhile, my kids carved their own pumpkins.

halloween jack o lantern pumpkin

Here is my result. Not perfect, but not too bad!

halloween pumpkin jack o lantern

And here are all of our pumpkins, all lined up in a row.

halloween jack o lantern pumpkin

After finishing their pumpkins, my kids spent the evening watching The Nightmare Before Christmas on Netflix and discussed exactly how much candy they will collect when they’re trick-or-treating. Spirits are high around these parts, yo.

As for me? I think I’ll continue to catch up on Season 11 of Supernatural on Netflix this evening. An actual scary movie is just a little too much for me.

Happy Halloween!

I was inspired to write this post because I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. The opinions in the post are my own, but take the fact that I receive cool promotional swag from Netflix as you will.

Riding the Ghost Train

I have been invited to visit the Ghost Train in Stanley Park, here in Vancouver, for a number of years. But I didn’t take anyone up on the invitation because (1) I often had a time conflict, and (2) my kids are super afraid of spooky Halloween stuff.

I feel the need to defend my offspring at this point. They are actually quite brave. They will try new things, push themselves, ride roller coasters and jump off of diving boards. But people in scary costumes? Not their thing. Which is fair, because I am the biggest scaredy cat in the world when it comes to horror movies and haunted houses.

This year, I was free and so was my friend, so we decided to go together. It gave me a chance to scout it out and decide if my kids would enjoy it. Plus, the 2016 theme is “Day of the Dead”, which is right up my alley. I especially enjoyed the mariachi band playing on the train plaza.

stanley park ghost train mariachi day of the dead halloween 2016

So, what did I find? When you enter there is a pumpkin patch, which is totally not terrifying. Ditto on the folks collecting for the food bank. The decorations are on theme and non-terrifying. There was a man in a devil costume roaming the train waiting area. He was being pretty respectful of the children there, which made him only slightly scary but not particularly overwhelming. So far, so good.

The train ride itself got off to a spooky start because a rider behind me was scared that something would jump out at her and she was giving vent to her fears. After a couple of minutes, though, it was clear that nothing particularly startling would happen. There were live performers who did look at the train, but nobody jumped or ran at me. Much like the guy in the devil costume, it was only mildly scary.

After the train ride, which took about 15 minutes and was enjoyable, we headed to the Spooky Barn. It featured Shakespearean dioramas that you can view through little holes in the wall. It was cute, and it was dry and warm. I wouldn’t recommend it for preschoolers mostly because I don’t think it would be all that engaging for them, but older kids would probably enjoy it.

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My friend and I skipped the activities and maze, because we weren’t there with kids. But all in all it was not nearly as scary as I had feared. I would totally bring my very cautious eight-year-old along. And for younger kids, or those who can’t stay up late, there is a matinee train during daylight hours that doesn’t include live performers.

If you’re local and want to know more about the Ghost Train, visit www.ghosttrain.ca.

What’s my conclusion? Sometimes things aren’t as scary as they seem. And also, it’s good to have friends to come along for the ride once in a while.

Happy Halloween!

Graduation

I’ve written here about finishing school and starting my teaching career. It feels like I’ve mentioned that I’ve completed my education more than once, but here I am going to go and mention it again. It’s a little bit confusing so here’s a rundown of how it all works:

  • In April I finished my student teaching practicum
  • In May I was hired by two districts to be a substitute teacher – pending receipt of my teaching certificate
  • In early August I submitted my final assignment for my teaching degree
  • In late August I had received all my grades and fulfilled the requirements for my degree
  • On September 7 I worked one half-day as a substitute teacher before the district changed its requirements and said I needed to be officially certified to teach
  • On September 12 the university Senate formally approved grades and awarded degrees, including mine – this means the university acknowledged that I had completed the requirements to become a teacher
  • On September 19 my teaching certificate arrived in the mail – this means the government licensed me to teach
  • On September 20 I started working more or less full-time as a substitute teacher
  • On October 7 the university held its convocation ceremony and I received the actual paper copy of my degree

It’s been a long road to get here, but it’s formally over. As of October 7 I had all of the paperwork. I’m a teacher, and I have a B.Ed. in addition to the engineering degree I received 16 years ago.

The convocation ceremony, for me, was a real celebration of what I have achieved. The best part was having my kids there. When we processed in and I saw Hannah and Jacob waving at me the tears welled up in my eyes. I paused to give Jacob a high five and felt full of emotion. I didn’t do this by myself. My family was with me the whole way. My kids had to put up with a tired, stressed-out mother with not much time for them. They rarely complained. Instead they cheered me on. I hope that they learned something about setting goals and working hard. I think mostly, though, that I learned something about love from them.

It’s funny how it always happens that way, isn’t it?

But enough navel-gazing though – let’s look at pictures! Here’s what my graduation day looked like, at least in part.

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