Thursday, October 28, 2010

More Inspiration

Today I received two new books as resources for the Art Program. I am loving these books: "Playing With Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing and Reimagining the Book"
"Drawing Lab: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun"
I encourage you to stay tuned for drawings and sculptures I will try and create from these books. Hopefully, they will help me out with my Sketchbook Project too!!! (Did you see the apple I made out of the old book? I need to ink and finish it still.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's HERE!!!!

And now let the creativity process begin....ummm.....yeah......

The theme is "Trading Forever". I am feeling a little anxious about this project because I have no idea where ti start. So, I sit here (in my grade 9 Art class) and I wonder....where to begin.

I am asking for some input. What would you trade forever?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I am Finding Inspiration

It has been a long time since I have been this excited about something. I came across this website: and found this art project. I am anxiously awaiting my sketchbook and already brainstorming my ideas for the "Trade Forever" theme.

I will blog progress pictures and struggles I encounter throughout this project. I love the idea behind the project and it fit perfectly with the original design for this blog. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Believe

I believe in Kindness.
I believe in Compassion.
I believe in Education.
I believe in Tolerance.
I believe in Understanding.
I believe in Family.
I believe in My Son.
I believe in My Marriage.

I believe that many people have the same beliefs that I do yet I am still disheartened and confused. There are people who say they believe in kindness and compassion but are:

Unable to show Kindness.
Unable to show any Compassion for others.
Unable to believe in Education and Life Long Learning.
Unable to show Tolerance for anyone who is different or struggling.
Unable to show they Understand or have any Empathy for you or your family.
Unable be with their Family because of a difference in beliefs.
Unable to cherish moments with their Children.
Unable to appreciate and support Their Loved Ones.

It has been an unusually hard week of Deep Thoughts. (And not the ones provided by John Handy). With the death of Tim, I have been struggling to find positive moments in my classes and in society. I was beginning to think that maybe I had officially become one of those "Burnt Out" teachers that needs to leave the profession.

Tim's funeral was hard and confusing. I left the service not feeling better about Tim and his life but, instead, feeling lost and confused about how we care for each other. I guess it is difficult to find people who have strength and integrity in the face of sickness but Tim lived with courage and kindness to all. The fact that there was a large collection of family and friends there to share in his life was proof. He touched many with his devotion to his faith, his determination to beat Cancer, and his dedication to raise funds and awareness for children with Cancer. Then why the negativity that surrounded his funeral...?

Our school held our Terry Fox Run only days after Tim had died. I was already in a difficult place with his loss but it was amplified by the lack of Empathy from our students for Terry Fox and his fight. Please keep in mind that it was a small section of students and that I do realize that I am painting a lot of students with one paint brush but, it was easier to see the negativity than the good at the moment. First, very few of my students turned up to class simply because they did not want to participate in the Terry Fox Run/Walk. That made me sad. Then, as students were coming into the classroom I would ask them for donations. We had tried to collect a "Toonie" from each student in the school for Terry Fox. I didn't think a "Toonie" was too much to ask but I was hoping to just collect some spare change from these older kids. It was difficult as a couple of students would walk in with entitlement, attitude and absolutely no possibility of giving any change to the cause. I was emotional. "So, we have a former student who spent the last 8 years fighting Cancer and raising money and you can't get the change out of your car to donate?" May not have been the best thing to say but I was upset and they knew it as my eyes started to fill with tears.

In my one English class, we are studying "Lord of the Flies". We were having a discussion about some of the themes and motifs from the novel. I was talking about how William Golding was turning his back on the idea that we are all inherently good, by writing a novel about how we are actually inherently evil when given the right circumstances.

One student put up her hand: "Mrs. Carriere, Do you think we are inherently good or evil?"

"Oh, such a touchy subject for me this week." Given with a sigh and a slight smile.

I went on to talk about how disheartened I was in today's youth with the Terry Fox Run, the bullying that is happening around the world and complete lack of respect for their own education. (I know, I said heavy thoughts all week) I went on to explain that I knew I was overgeneralizing their culture but that it was a difficult week when all I could see was the negativity in the faces of Adolescents today. I pointed out that the jar on my desk which is supposed to collecting "Pennies for Peace" has been only filled by me and my spare change and that I am constantly fighting with students to care about their education and to take pride in what they are doing in classes. I know, I Know, ...I was young once too. But, I am pretty sure that I cared about school and that I would feel for the suffering of others. Now, there is a very large population of students at our school that showcase their compassion every day. We have a very successful "Students for Change" group, a strong "Leadership" class and overall, a really positive school environment. As I said, it was just a hard week to focus on the "Good".

Even Pop Culture seemed to searching with "Glee's" latest episode on Religion. I cried through the episode feeling the hurt that Kurt would have gone through because of a lack of understanding and tolerance with his sexuality. This got me thinking about all of those kids that still struggle with bullying and that horrible period of "Storm and Stress" that adolescents go through in searching for who they are and what they will believe in the future. Can we stop Bullying? Will there always be those students who need to bully others to find out who they are?

I have learned that I have an amazing husband who loves me unconditionally, a son that I cherish every day, a group of family and friends that are compassionate and also love me unconditionally and, there are a lot of students who care about others and themselves. Through my art work (pictured above) and many conversations over the past week, I am back in a better place and I am not the "Burnt Out" teacher that needs to leave. (At least not yet...)

If you have been able to make it through this incredibly long post, I apologize; It seems that I have been able to put the week's worth of missed blog entries into one long post. I will leave you with one of my favorites quotes from this last week:

"Mrs. Carriere, I know that a lot of students hate you. But, I am really glad that I am in your class and that there are people like you around. " (ummmm, thanks?)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Memory of Tim

I am not sure where to even start...I heard today that Tim Harriman had lost his battle with Cancer. A fight that wasn't even fair in the first place; Diagnosed at 14, Tim has been fighting Cancer for over 8 years, and has now lost a future that was bright and limitless.

I knew, and taught Tim, while he was attending high school. He was always a kindred spirit. A student that refused to give into the disease and a student who remained positive that he would beat Cancer. It didn't matter how sick he was, Tim was always determined to stay caught up in his school work, He was always more concerned with his peers. I didn't know that Tim and his wife had a blog, I have included the link to his blog and his Spokesman Tour when he traveled across the country to raise awareness and money for children diagnosed with Cancer. Take a look and learn a little bit about the Person who gave me hope and hope to thousands of children.

I am devastated by the loss but, I feel better knowing how many people Tim has touched with his positive attitude, determination and his legacy of hope.

I will miss you Tim and think of you often. I know that you are now at peace and watching over all of us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Sense of Balance??

I remember in an earlier post that I was going to try and balance work and family and health...well, as you have probably noticed, by lack of blogging, I am not doing too well. The school year starts and the chaos ensues. I am back to getting up around 5:30 am so that I can get to work without traffic jams and the possibility of getting school work done before school actually starts at 9:00am. I have a real problem with doing school work at home in the evenings, for me this is family time. Dinner with the family, bath time for Maks, then story time, then bed time and then...I am exhausted. So, a little yoga and I, myself, make my way to bed. Repeat this Monday to Friday and you have my life in a nutshell. I have found recently that I can not even listen to the radio when driving home because it irritates me. I think my mind is so busy during the school day that any kind of noise is just too much by 4:00pm. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to do free Yoga lessons twice a week and I am enjoying the coaching this year but I did have to give up some favorites as well. With our struggle to have another baby, I am trying to reduce stress wherever possible and provide myself with much needed rest as much as possible. This year I had to turn down my dad and family for bowling. Although I enjoy bowling, it is just too late of a day for me and I just didn't want to give up my limited time with Maks. I miss being able to be with him during the day and just feel like I am missing out while he grows up just way too fast. Thankfully, I have an extremely supportive family with a friend network that is beyond anything I could ever ask for.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Must Read

After having our amazing Librarian find this speech for me, I am going to teach it to my English 30-2 class. It is poignant and needs to read by everyone. When we study the speech I will be teaching rhetorical devices and speech writing but I will also be emphasizing the importance of his words and the importance of our human condition.

Please take some time to read his amazing speech, "The Perils of Indifference"

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Building Castles and Driving Cars

Last night, Lisa and McKenzie invited us to the new TommyKPlay. Maks had a blast!! He loved every moment and then he found the race track. And so at the tracks, Maks and I spent over 30 minutes, racing cars. I can't help but think that Maks might eventually race cars or at least fix cars. I hope this passion stays with him. I love to see the joy in his eyes when he is around cars.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Beautiful New Blog

This past summer, Lawrence sent me a link to a really cool website.

It has amazing art work, photography and great human interest stories. Tonight I came across this blog from Finland. I just thought the photography was so sweet and creative that I just had to share with everyone.

Check out I love it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Bookshelf

This is the novel I started teaching in my English 30-2 class today. I had forgotten how hard this book is to read. It is a memoir of the horrible and incomprehensible experiences of Elie Wiesel. He was just 14 when the novel begins and by the time he became a young teen, Elie was struggling to survive the Nazi Concentration camps. After his release at the end of World War II, Elie took a ten year vow of silence about the Holocaust. Only after being convinced that his story needed to be told and his own belief that we can never forget what happened, did Elie write his story. It is hard to inspire the students to read and I am hoping that our journey through this novel will not only inspire them to read but, more importantly, take a look at how fortunate they are to be alive and healthy.

"Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never." Chapter 3, pg. 32

What Happened?!

What in the world happened to our little baby boy?

I am back at work and Lawrence is really good about sending me cute pictures and little movies of Maks throughout the work day. It was this afternoon when Lawrence sent me this picture.....We both were astonished as it looks like Maks is about ten years old. Look how long his legs are and he just looks so grown up already. Maks is playing "Cars" on the XBox while sitting on the couch.

They just grow up so incredibly fast.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Creative Play - Dates

Thank goodness for helpful friends. It has been a very busy weekend for me. Getting ready for school this year is taking me a long time and I have been doing a lot of school work this weekend. Lisa and McKenzie came over Friday evening to play and then again this morning. This was perfect for Maks to spend time with his girlfriend and perfect for me to chat with Lisa and not worry about what the children were up to. It was easy to get course outlines, long range plans, and scope & sequence charts done while the children played. Lisa even offered to help me get work done. There was no way I was going to say no to any help. :) Unfortunately for Lisa, I have now come to the realization that she types much faster than I do and I may be begging for more help in the future.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A New School Year

Today was the first day back to work and it actually felt good to be back in my element. I am usually stressed and frantically trying to get everything done in time but this year I am feeling calm and relaxed. In this school year, I need to try and remain focused on my family and my health and not become instantly overwhelmed by work. This is a hard balancing act that I usually lose but I am going to try and remain conscientious of myself and the stressful events that always bring me down at work. I have a fair schedule but I am teaching four different classes at three different levels ( grade 9, 11 and 12) so, that could be a lot of prep work and marking. We were also told today that the average class size this year will be around 35-38. Ouch! That is crazy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maks the Artist

Maks painted a canvas the other day and he loved it. He kept asking to paint and I had only bought one canvas at the dollar store so I was looking around the house for something he could paint. He loved painting the cardboard and went through a lot of our recycling. Then I found an old Father's Day Bobble Head we were supposed to paint and he finished that project as well. I think we have another artist on our hands. Hopefully, he will spend more time on his art than I do.

I really have enjoyed this summer with Maks and Lawrence. Our son is at such an amazing age and he inspires me every day. He gives us lots of hugs and kisses, laughs with such heart that it is contagious to anyone who hears him, and talks and sings constantly. Hearing him sing along to the Cars movie or to Go, Diego, Go has got to be a highlight for anyone. I am going to miss being able to spend all day with Maks when I go back to school but, I know that Maks and his father have a great time together and I will cherish all the time I do get with him. I can't wait to see him tomorrow morning.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Did You Miss Me?

It has been a difficult couple of days and I am not too sure why......I have a lot of things going through my mind and school starts back too soon, that could be the reason. We have gone through a couple of the fertility tests but the most uncomfortable tests are still to come. I am thankful that all the tests will be done before I go back to school. I would feel kind of guilty going back and having to take days off right away.
I do have some seriously cute pictures of Maks when he was painting his canvas. I thought it would be fun for him to paint. What I didn't realize was that as an art teacher, it was really hard to not stop him from turning all the paint into a lovely mud colour. I will post some pictures tomorrow. In true "kari-style" I have no idea where the cord is that I need to transfer the pictures from the camera to the computer. Ooops. Well, I will find it tomorrow when I try and get some serious house cleaning done. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Haircut

Maks was starting to look like no one owned him, it was time for a new haircut. This is the result of a quick visit to Beaners and we have one adorable little boy. (Photo by the talented Mr. Carriere)

Look for some of Maks' amazing artwork tomorrow. Yea!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Our Garden

We have accomplished one of our many goals....a garden. With some help, Lawrence and Dad built the garden plot, my mom and son planted the seeds, and I well,....I have watered it a couple of times and pick the excellent vegetables from the ground to use. It has been great to pick fresh lettuce, peas, carrots and potatoes. Actually, the potatoes are for Lawrence's sister Colette, we are not big potato eaters in this family. I am excited to have the garden and proud that we have been able to keep it alive and thriving. If you have seen our house and our yards, you would quickly notice that we do not have "Green Thumbs" around here. So, the garden success is a big deal to me. We will definitely be planting another garden next year. Bring on the strawberries next year. (Another expert photo taken by my husband)

Day at the Zoo

Yes, it was very chilly and wet, but we had a great day at the Zoo. My beautiful niece Shelby, Maks' Girlfriend McKenzie and Maks in an artistic photo taken by my husband.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Family Journey

"The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination." (Don Williams Jr. American Novelist and Poet)

I never wanted to be selfish but I would really like Maks to have a sibling. We have started our own journey through infertility with a doctor's visit yesterday. After a plethora of tests to come, we will make the decision as to what to do next. Being that I am 40, the doctor has absolutely no reservations with me starting the fertility drugs right after the tests. I am nervous, anxious, but also hopeful.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Bookshelf

In trying to inspire teenagers, I am always looking for new literature or discovering new levels of understanding in the classics. Last year, a colleague of mine who marks the English 30-2 Diploma exams in Edmonton, read a lot of papers involving a novel called "The Road". I had heard a little about the movie, being the movie geek that I am, but I really did not know too much about the novel. I read the novel last semester and I absolutely loved it. I am hoping to teach the novel to my English 30-2 class this next semester.

Written by Cormac McCarthy, the novel is a post- apocalyptic look at a journey of survival for a man and his son. The literary elements and visual imagery are so beautifully written that the author draws the reader into a world that no one would be comfortable living, let alone trying to survive in. I found the imagery to be overwhelming at times and sometimes find myself trying to imagine what our city would look like with "Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world."

* Bonus marks for those of you who can identify at least two literary elements in the above quote. *

As I mentioned above, there is a movie that was made based on this novel. I have not been able to finish the movie and I found it kind of disappointing after reading the novel itself. The language and style of the novel just can not be put into a film. (Of Course, that is just my opinion. Some may like the movie) Either way, the novel or the movie, it is a story that will make everyone consider what is essential to us and to our survival.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Coming Back

My knee injury has caused way more problems than I thought it would. I was so proud of myself for pushing through the work out even though my knee was aching, I guess that was bad. Well, almost two weeks later my knee is worse now that it was on the treadmill. I have tried to take it easy, I have been icing it and just walking but it is getting worse. We went camping this last weekend, which was fantastic, but not good for my healthy eating habits. My friend Charlene is way too good of a cook. So, with a bum knee and an interesting eating weekend behind me it is time to start again. I think I will have to stick with just Yoga instead of running and Yoga, just until I can get my knee figured out. To get my eating back on track, I go back to my essentials, one being my favorite Dr. Oz smoothie. It tastes amazing.

Magical Breakfast Blaster

1/2 large ripe banana
1 scoop Protein Powder
1/2 tablespoon flaxseed oil ( I have been using flaxseeds)
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon psyllium seed husks
8 ounces of water

* I also add some Salba and ice cubes

Camping at Lake Newell

For the past three summers we have been meeting up with my friend Charlene and her family at Lake Newell. This was a great camping trip and Maks loved the Lake. He was always excited to go swimming and spent a lot of his time skipping rocks (which is more like just throwing rocks in the Lake for Maks) but he loved it. We borrowed my parents tent and Maks was really excited about sleeping in the tent, although there was not a lot of sleeping that happened. Maks is a real "home body" and does not sleep well anywhere but at home. But, for a little boy who loves to be outside, camping this summer turned out to be an excellent idea. My friend Charlene took some pictures and so did Lawrence so hopefully I will post more pictures of camping fun.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Inspiring Teens

I have been teaching for 17 years. What?! Really? It doesn't seem like it has been that long but I guess it has been almost twenty years of trying to inspire teenagers. I love teaching high school. Some may say that I am a little crazy, but really there have been some incredible students and friends that I have made over my career. It still amazes me that I have such amazing friendships from my first year of teaching, it just means so much to me to know that I have inspired students over the years. I taught my first four years in Wabasca, Alberta. Although some people have told me it was a mistake to spend four years up there, I think it was an incredible experience. I have friends on Facebook that I taught and coached back then and it was just a couple of weeks ago that some of the girls got together. They were discussing the happy memories of cheering together and one of the girls sent me a message saying how much they all appreciated me and those years that I coached them. I felt overwhelmed. And, that is not all of the stories I have from students and friends. So many to talk about that I just feel so incredibly blessed to have the career I have today. I started writing a book about my career and mentioned it to the student who inspired me to write when he so politely told me...
" Why, would you write a book? No One would read it!"
My reply "Why?"
"Becasue Mrs. Carriere, you over think EVERYTHING!"
So many great students, so many great years and I love all of the friends I have today that have been students of mine. I can not tell you all how you have inspired me and made me the person I am today and the teacher I am today. Not to mention the coach I will be again. After taking a few years off I am going back to coaching cheerleading again and so thankful to all of my alumni that will help me. Mark you have been invaluable to me in bringing me back into the coaching world. Your knowledge and skill level are incredible. All I can say is that you must have had an amazing teacher and coach in high school.

"Why do you build me up, (build me up) Buttercup, baby?"

Magical Moments with Maks

I know you all enjoy the alliteration of the title. (heehee) I love the summer holidays because I get to spend a lot of time with Maks and Lawrence. Today was awesome. Lawrence had a new game that he was playing on the computer. Maks is addicted to the computer so he was over there begging to play with daddy. What ensued were some incredible moments of concentration, game playing skills and insane laughter. I loved watching the two of them play together and having Maks laugh with absolute joy with his dad. I am not the photographer in the family, and Maks' face is covered in chocolate milk, but I love the photos that captured some true moments of inspiration and joy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A New Beginning

It has been a difficult couple of days. I injured my knee after having a really great week on the treadmill. It was hard not to go on the treadmill and hurt myself even more. I felt that I would lose all that momentum. After the break, I was back on the treadmill tonight, it was not that great. I couldn't actually run because of my knee but I did take it easy and walk for 25 minutes followed by some beautiful yoga stretches. A small step but an important one to keeping up the healthy habits. I took this picture after my workout. This is my view while I am on the treadmill. I love our tree in the backyard and I noticed that it has a lot of new growth. Being the English Teacher that I am, I started thinking about the symbolism of these new leaves. My family needs a new beginning. We have started again with our health, our eating habits and our outlook on life. It is a great new beginning.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Love Her or Hate Her

Some people LOVE Jillian and some people HATE her, I find her inspiring. I have been watching the episodes of "Losing It" and I cry every single time. With the recent health concerns in my family, I need all the help I can get to become healthier and remain healthy. I watch this show because it helps to focus me. When I am on the treadmill and getting bored, I think of Jillian yelling at me to get back on the treadmill and finish my run. I think it would be great if she came and yelled at me for a week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Art Journal

I started in April with a group of friends from school. My Journal is actually a recycled book that I found in my classroom and I love changing the purpose and the meaning of this book. Each page has a different idea, meaning, or purpose, something that I need to work through or something that has inspired me. Last January Lawrence was diagnosed with Heart Disease and received three metal stents. Just this past couple of weeks, my dad has been through the same procedures, diagnosed with Heart Disease and Diabetes. The page on the right is my way of working through just some of the thoughts and feelings I have been struggling with over the past couple of months.

It All Started with this Book

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Beginning of an Idea

What inspires you? Lately, I have been looking around and discovering what inspires me. What is it that inspires me to be a better wife, mother, teacher, sister, daughter,artist? What is it that will inspire me to create and explore the environment around me. With my summer holidays, comes more time for myself, and more time to be creative. I am hoping that this will be a place where I can write and explore my inspired ideas.