Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Website Wednesday, 10/24/2012

It's Website Wednesday!! I'm hoping that today's sites will be useful to you in generating new and interesting ideas for classroom management and lesson plans. It is also great to read how other teachers deal with the day in and day out drama that education can sometimes bring. These three ladies also have some interesting and incredible ideas for how to celebrate classroom successes. I highly recommend reading and following all three of these blogs.

The Caffeinated Teacher
Caught in the Middle

State Fair Part 2: The Animals

One of the piglets just hanging out at the fair
When I was a child one of my favourite things to see at the local fair was all of the farm animals. I enjoyed seeing the animals even though I lived in a small country town as it allowed me to see them all in one spot. The animal houses may have had that musty and the unmistakable barnyard smell but it was worth it. Plus it was a lot more interesting then all of the new cars and farm equipment that was on display because I wasn't allowed to play on them.
One of the more unusual breeds of chicken at the fair.

      As an adult I still enjoy seeing the animals at the fair. Several years ago I went to a local fair in the western part of the state and was very disappointed that there was no animals on display and it just didn't feel like a real fair without them. The state fair did have all of the farm animals and it made the fair experience complete. Some of the animals brought back memories from my childhood as many of my family members had farms or farm animals.  Many of these were memories I had forgotten all about until I saw a particular breed of chicken, cow or sheep. Seeing the goats reminded me of the time that I was at my great uncle's farm and the goats kept head butting me until I jumped over the fence so they couldn't headbutt me any more. Some of the goats looked like they were trying to escape and this reminded me of the goats that we had on our farm that used to jump the fence from one paddock to another. I guess they did this to ensure they always had the greenest grass. The chickens brought back more memories. For example my dachshund Enzo used to chase the chickens on the farm until one of the roosters latched onto his side and kept pecking him until someone hit it with a broom. He left the chickens alone after that. There are many more stories but that is for another time.

Hungry goats
Even today viewing the animals is still one of my favourite activities at the fair even though I have seen many of these animals dozens of times throughout my life. I appreciate that it gives the average person a chance to see many different breeds of animals up close that they would not be able to otherwise. They are always a big hit with the kids and you can see their eyes light up but sometimes the adults have just as much fun.  Sadly there weren't as many animals at the fair this year but the fair was in doubt until mid summer so the organizers did what they could and I am sure they will have a wider selection next year. The animals help make the fair a showcase of agriculture and not just a bunch of fairground rides that you can find at any mall parking lot. I look forward to returning to the fair next year and seeing all of my furry and feathered friends again.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Howl-O-Scream, 2012

Halloween is a favorite holiday of mine. I am a fan of most holidays but for some reason when I see Halloween approaching on the calendar it makes me smile. I love the costumes and the idea of being able to transform yourself into someone else for a few hours. I love trick-or-treaters who come to the house in their cute costumes. I also love decorating the house with all the spooky and fun things that represent Halloween. 

Another tradition Sean and I have had for the past few years is going to Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg. We are season ticket holders and we go to the park several times throughout the spring and summer but there is something about going in October, fighting the insane crowds (they always reach capacity on Saturdays during this time), and seeing the different areas of the park decorated for the country's Halloween traditions. 

Saturday we focused on some of the smaller rides that we love (Da Vinci's cradle, the Teacups, Scrambler, Cars, etc.) rather than waiting in line for 30+ minutes for the coasters. We also went to many of the Halloween-themed shows. Here are some reviews:
"Dr. Freakenstein" - Ireland - 
Amanda - I thought this show was a little disconnected. I didn't understand why some of the songs were chosen to be a part of the show. I also did not like the dancing that was done during the show. I would give it three stars out of five.
Sean - The basic plot of the show was loosely based on Frankenstein. However it is a bit different as it had almost a dozen scantily dressed nurses dancing around the stage. The show had a decent flow and kept my attention but was not spectacular. The other thing of note was that it had several adult references and would not be appropriate for children. I would give it 3.5 stars because it didn't loose my attention.
"Casket Club" - Festhaus, Germany - 
Amanda - I liked this show. It was done as a caberet type show with singing and dancing. The dancing was more like ballroom dancing which I love anyway. I liked the songs and found myself clapping along several times. The main male character was funny which was also great. I would give it four and a half stars out of five.
Sean - Not a fan, I had a lot of trouble following the story line and at times I wasn't sure it had one. The first half was a lot of dancing and I lost interest very quickly. The second half had some disco music and bright costumes which held my attention better. I was glad I had some lunch to focus on during the boring parts. I would give it 2 of of 5 stars.

Here are some of the photos that I took yesterday while we enjoyed our time at the park:

Creepy clowns lined the bridge on the way to Italy

Near the Clydesdale stables

Next to Ireland's bridge - the show in Ireland was "Dr. Freakenstein"

Ireland's bridge

Welcoming you into Aquataine, France

Sean harnessing his inner werewolf

Building tops in New France

Decorations in Festhaus where we ate lunch
What is your favorite thing about Halloween? Whatever you do to celebrate, have a spook-tacular time! :)

Happy Halloween,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Website Wednesday, 10//17/2012

We are starting something new here on the blog and because I love alliteration today seemed like the perfect day to start...

Website Wednesday

Each week we will try to highlight one fabulous website. This week that website is TeuxDeux (found here). I was first introduced to this site through a friend. She said she couldn't live without it and now I know why. 

TeuxDeux is an online to-do list website. You sign up for an account - it's free!! - and you will see a screen with the days listed (dates are there too) and lines. In one of the boxes, on the day you want to add something, you type what needs to be done and hit enter. It is now added to your list. When you have finished the task, you click on it and it is struck out. What you don't get completed today, automatically rolls to tomorrow.

I love this site because it keeps me from having multiple post-it notes with my to-do list on them. I can type it onto the website, prioritize the things if I want by moving them within their list, and keep track of everything that needs to be done. I also love that you can pull up your list on any computer so my TuexDeux list is my home screen for my home and work computers. This way I always know what needs to be done.  

Check out this YouTube video tutorial for a more detailed and graphic description of how this site works. Then you can head to TeuxDeux and sign up for your account. I know you will love this site too!

Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Apple Picking

Two years ago, Sean and I were visiting friends in the mountains of Virginia and I decided I wanted to go apple picking. I had never done this before and thought it sounded like fun. We searched and talked to our friends and we chose Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, which is almost next door to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's house). We went and had a blast so I decided that this fall we had to go back and pick more apples! 

When we arrived, it was bumper to bumper traffic climbing the hill/driveway. I could not get over how many people were there. 

Kristin, my good friend, and I love Fuji apples and that was one of the options to pick this past weekend. We were both excited but to get to the Fuji apples you had to climb up a mountain with three switchbacks. We grabbed our bags and off we climbed.

Picking apples is not a super fun and exciting event. But it is fun to walk down the row of trees, try to spot the perfect apple, then pick that "just right" one to take home. I love it! Kristen, Robert (her husband), and the two kids loved it too I think.

Sean and I ended up with 12 beautiful (and tasty!) Fuji apples. We also stopped by the store on the way out and got some apple butter for me and my parents. I love apple butter and there is just something wonderful and apple butter that is made with three ingredients - apple, water, and spices. Yum yum!!

I am almost sad now that we are not going back to the mountains before apple picking season is over. I would so go again later this month when Pink Ladies are available at the orchard. Oh well, I guess I can wait until next year!

Happy Fall,

Friday, October 5, 2012

State Fair Part 1: Food

Just some of the culinary delights on offer at the State Fair
 As a child one of the highlights of the year was going to the Tamworth Show (fair). Although the format of the show was similar each year it was exciting to see what was on offer. Part of the fun was seeing the demolition derbies, fireworks, crazy cars and clowns that entertained the crowds near the main grandstand. There were also the animals and seeing all of the different breeds of each animal and trying to guess which one got first place before seeing the ribbons. The midway was another exciting part of visiting the Show as it was the only time of the year many of us got to ride something more exciting than the swings or slide at the local park. However, one thing that was lacking at the Tamworth Show was the range of food choices that you can get at many American fairs. The most exotic food option at the Show was a corn dog.

Just some of the fried foods on sale at the state fair.
     I had not been to a state fair since moving to America and that was a little sad as I enjoyed it so much as a child. I bought tickets and convinced my wife and in-laws to come with me to the fair last year. We all had a blast and returned to the fair again this year. The fair is everything I remembered as a child with one notable exception: the menus at the food stalls.

  When it comes to food options the state fairs in America have dozens of choices. With every step it seems you will come across a new smell and another sign advertising new items for fair-goers to try. The signs are often big, bright and eye catching to draw customers in. For those who want something a little more standard there are plenty of hot dogs, burgers, fries, corn dogs, turkey legs and many more options on offer so there is something to suit all tastes. For those wanting something different there are plenty of deep fried foods to try. At one vendor they offered about a dozen different deep fried options including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Oreos,  Reese's peanut cups, snickers bars, pecan pie, Kool aid and macaroni and cheese. This was in addition to deep fried bloomin onions, ribbon fries and funnel cakes. I am sure they are all delicious but had I tried them all I would likely have gained 10 pounds and clogged many of my arteries. However, the fair only comes once a year and a few treats never hurt anyone.

Enjoying a deep fried Pecan Pie
Amanda's favorite deep fried treat is the fried Oreos. They place the cookies into a batter and then place them in a deep fryer and a few minutes later you have a delicous treat. The cookies are warm, soft and taste great as they have a mix of the chocolate from the cookie and the fried batter. I decided to try something different this year - the fried pecan pie. I am a huge fan of pecan pie and thought this would be worth a try. I was not dissapointed with my decision as the mixture of the batter along with the sweet taste of the pecan pie made a delicious treat. I ended up getting powdered sugar all over myself and probably consumed more calories than any person should in a day but it was worth it! Besides it's only once a year so it's not too bad. Next year I will try something different and see if it is as good as the pecan pie but fried foods be warned, the pecan pie was awesome and will be hard to beat!


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