Exam Stress? Not if You Don’t Know About Them

What the heck. Taking exams is mentally exhausting. I’ve done two days of classroom studying so far. During those two days- we also wrote exams. Every test was sprung on us as well. I was mentally tired by the end of the day.

I suppose I should be ready for the next three days and expect to do three exams (or more like we did on day two). The stress of the exams is somewhat minimal so far since we don’t have time to prepare and freak out.

Not passing these tests is not an option. On the bright side it’s all open book. A lot of the information has been ingrained into my mind over the past dozen years. So I know the answers, but I need to put it in writing in a fashion similar to what our rule book states. That’s on the last day I believe. So far it is multiple choice and I’m feeling pretty confident with my skills.

You got this Joe!

The sauna and pool at the end of the day washes away the stress.

School Is Back In Session or How to Survive Re-Learning at Age 43

Every three years, I have to get re-certified as a conductor/switchman. The previous times I did it in my home town area of Vancouver. This time around my company sent me to Winnipeg. This is where the new centralized training center is located.

The CN Campus is huge and modern feeling. We have been treated to unlimited coffee and a cafeteria style lunch. The classroom portion itself is, basically, dry. When learning rules that are important for the safety and service of our industries- it’s difficult to make it entertaining.

At least after those eight hour days we get to go and leave it all behind us for the evening. My coworker and I headed back to the hotel where I enjoyed the pool and sauna while he hit the gym. The 21st floor of our hotel has the pool and views of the city. A few minutes in the hot tub and I was relaxed again.

On to day 2 of the classroom portion. Hopefully my swimsuit will be dry for another evening dip and relaxation afterwards.

First Day Of School- Sort Of

Yesterday was the first day of school. Only it was just one hour of school. Not really a “day” to speak of really. But the kids enjoyed seeing their friends and smelling the hallways once more.

My wife even took the obligatory “Seeing the kids off on the first day of school photo“. This year was of the car as it drove off. That’s because our oldest has her driver’s license and the other two are both in high school now. This meant we didn’t have to spend the “day” waiting for them. It’s bittersweet in a way. But for this year, my wife and I won’t have to spend 40 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the afternoon driving.

Huge sigh of relief.

Today is a real day of school. Now starts the hard work and education.

First Sunrise of Grade 12

Our oldest daughter is beginning her final year of high school today. As tradition with The Langley Fine Arts School, the Grade 12’s all got together nearby the school and watched the First Sunrise of Their Grade 12 Year.

My daughter came home about an hour afterwards with a big grin on her face and a pep in her step. She was happy to see all of her classmates and friends again. She told me that people shared stories of their travels and summer experiences. It sounded like everyone was hyper-energized this morning. I think they are all looking forward to the upcoming year.

And as with tradition, on the last “official” day of Grade 12- the students will get together and watch the Last Sunset of Their Grade 12 Year.

I wish them all the best for this final high school year! And may they enjoy the experiences that come with their friendships formed throughout these past few years.

Farewell Grade Seven

Last night was a celebration of the end of our son’s Grade Seven year. There was a couple slideshows. The first slideshow was a “Before and Now” where there was a picture of the kids from being babies/toddlers to present day. The kids had good laughs as they called out the names of the baby pictures.

Following the slideshow was an introduction of each child and a small blurb about favorite memories and future plans. The kids walked across the stage to shake hands with their teachers and vice principal, pausing for a photo op before returning to the audience. The only picture I was able to get of our son- he had his eyes closed. Of course.

After all the kids were introduced, the parents who chaperoned the camp where brought on stage. We were each given a handmade thank you card from the cabin group we were in charge of. This was followed up with a slideshow of the adventures from camp was shared. Pictures and videos were set to music expressing the adventures with a bit of sorrow as the realization that these kids aren’t going to be kids much longer.

After the “ceremony” we mingled amongst the parents enjoying snacks and sharing memories. There was some tears and laughs as the kids and parents hung out. It was a great evening that I was glad to attend and be a part of.

Supporting the Students

Today my son shared with me some of the school work he has been working on this year. It was a part of a “Student Lead Conference” that was going on today. I’m always thrilled to see what they’ve been learning. It’s even better because of our son’s enthusiasm.

He was keen to show me everything. From how clean his locker was to his poem and picture of a Blue Butterfly. We spoke of science, math and French as well. I also took the opportunity to speak with his teachers as well and heard nothing but encouragement. In fact, the one teacher was really excited to tell me which group of kids I was going to have in the cabin in June. (It’s a secret that I am not allowed to tell my son.)

I have always been a huge proponent of the education system of all students. In the front of the school is this mural that I helped to create and be a part of a few years ago. There was a set of meetings that brought the teachers, parents, and the community together to help develop our district.

Years later, I see how innovative and successful the students are becoming. And how they are willing to grow and learn in different ways. Knowing that our kids aren’t afraid to share what they are learning makes me happy. It’s a relationship that I want to encourage and have flourish over time.

Supporting our youth today will make for a better world tomorrow.

School Camping Trip

In June, my son will be attending his grade seven camping trip. My daughters each did it for their grade seven year. It’s a tradition that is upheld in our local community schools. It’s something the teachers look forward to as well as the students. It’s kind of like a farewell to the kids before they enter high school.

The big difference this year is that I’ll be attending as one of the parent volunteers. My son requested I come at the start of the school year. Of course I wanted to be a part of it. I found out on Friday night that I have been accepted to be a chaperone. My son couldn’t be happier. I’m looking forward to it.

I did a grade seven camp as a kid and had a pretty good time. I also attended a cub scout camp for one summer a few years prior. Both were great experiences. Looking back though, some of the councilors were a bit sketchy. Hopefully I won’t come across as sketchy.

I’ve met most of the kids in my son’s grade. He also has a collection of what I consider to be “top notch” friends. All of them have a wonderful sense of humor and are really delightful kids. Since they’ve all met me, they know I can be a bit, uh, zany?

In the end, I am excited about making memories for my son and his friends. The trip should be a ton of fun!

Computer Calculus

Back in October, our oldest had saved up money and bought herself a New Computer. She has been very proud of it and has taken extra care with it. Over the past few weeks, she has been using it for a school project.

The project was for her Pre-Calculus class. She had to enter formulas to plot out lines and curves on a graph to make a symbol. While many students chose much easier symbols, our daughter (who loves the tv show Supernatural) chose a much more intricate design. After weeks and hours of working on perfecting the equations, she is finally done. She also finished before her deadline which is the end of January. I am impressed because of her passion in the project, and mostly because she had to explain something to me that I didn’t have a clue about.

She has demonstrated that she is capable of a great many things throughout her life. Now that she has finished this project, she has been wanting us to pay for Adobe Photoshop for her. Part of the deal was to make sure she doesn’t fall behind in school work for a hobby. I think this Calculus assignment has proven to us that she can be committed to her word.

We look forward to seeing what she can do with Photoshop and her photography. My wife would like her to clean up some of our photos as well. Our daughter has also hinted at writing more music, only time will tell. But I’m glad to see she is far exceeding my abilities in computing.

Life Lesson

My son is only twelve years old and in grade 7. But he learned a tough lesson this week at school. He got suspended because of a fight that broke out the other day.

He wasn’t physically fighting, but he became one of the students in the small crowd of thirteen kids who watched and did nothing. Four of the students pulled out phones and filmed the situation. The rest cheered. Including my son who was caught on camera by one of the four kids. I support the school district’s decision about the punishment for all fifteen kids.

Yesterday at the end of school, my son was told that he was suspended. He was so distraught that his tears became heavy sobs.

I’m glad he learned this lesson now before adulthood kicks in. We’ve had a good discussion about what he could’ve done differently and what he plans to do next time. I also explained that as he gets older, there can be real world consequences for similar offenses.

His suspension has him home from school today. So I will be putting him to work doing some manual labor around the home. He knows that he better not argue with me about it.

Normally he is a great and loving child. This time he got caught up in the moment and made a poor decision which he has since regretted. I hope he learns from this and makes better choices to help people out instead of sitting idly by.

The Wizard Of Speed and Time

The Fine Arts School that our children attend is in full session now. The children are getting excited about the upcoming year. They have a lot on their plates: various music classes, theater tech, film, photography, yearbook, carving- as well as the academic classes. This school isn’t just 9-3 either. Some days the kids arrive at 07:30am. Some days they leave at 5:30pm.

It’s a full time commitment.

My wife and I have always encouraged the children to explore and discover new talents. Our 14 year old daughter is taking Stop Motion Animation this year and I am jittery with excitement. I’ve always loved that style of animation and films- It was big for me growing up in the 1980’s.

Most of it was Claymation (like the California Raisins). With some shows on a regular rotation such as reruns of these gems:

Gumby (1956-)

Jeremy the Bear (1968-1974)


Then there were animation movies that really came out and showed off a more demonic style of “Children’s Movies”. Here is one of my favorites:

The Adventure Of Mark Twain (1985)


But the 80’s also used stop motion to capture a new style of special effect. It brought monsters to life in films such as:

Clash of the Titans (1981)


Sometimes, a stop motion film was able to tell a story about itself… This afternoon I shared with my daughter (the one taking stop motion animation) an obscure film that I enjoyed from years gone by.

The Wizard Of Speed And Time (1988)

This film is based on the short stop motion film of the same title from 1977.

The original 3 minute film was shown during a segment of The Wonderful World of Disney which is where I first saw it.

However, this version showcases the artist struggling to make his film and all the roadblocks encountered along the way. It took five years to make and was completed in 1988. I love how this film is simple in its delivery and carries numerous subliminal messages. It has a charm that won’t win it any awards, but the heart this film shares is immense.

After showing the film to my daughter, she is now more inspired to film stop motion than ever before. I hope she can bring forth some effects and styles from this film.

Perhaps one day she will be the next Wizard Of Speed and Time.