Friday Two Cents: My First Day Of School


‘There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.’ George Sand


In many parts of Canada and around the world this week marks the return of students and teachers back to school. As a supply teacher, my services are not usually needed until at least the second week of the school year. However, a school that I supply in a lot called and asked if I can come in for a last-minute job to cover some one going on an appointment.   Of course I was happy to go in.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

I am familiar with the school, the staff and most of the students therefore it was a joy to go in. I arrived, signed in and talked to a few staff and then got ready for the day. The class I was in was a kindergarten class with a few students I knew from last year but more than half were new students. The day began and after I introduced George I think from that moment, I had won them over. If you do not know, George is my puppet and he comes in with me to the primary classes and is a big hit with the students. He sings songs with them, he brings in books for me to read and he is also a bit silly (just like the puppet master), so they enjoy whenever he comes out. Overall the class was great and it was an enjoyable experience.
However, the response I got from the older students in the school was something I did not expect. It was after lunch and I was walking back to the class as the students were coming in from lunch recess. They saw me and said hello and I returned the greeting, however after saying hi, I got swarmed by a sea of little people (the students). They hugged me and were saying things like, “You’re back!” and “Are you in our class?” Many others started telling me about what they did over the summer break. I was over joyed and a bit over whelmed to get such a response from them.
I have been working with children for many years; both as an early childhood educator and as a teacher and I have always found it amazing how the students greet me. They always seem to be happy when they see me. I thing that they know that I love working with them. Some people say it’s because I’m a big kid like them.   But whatever the reason, all I know is that the feeling, is mutual.



‘Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.’ Eleanor Roosevelt



Friday Two Cents: The Power Of George


This week I was fortunate to some supply teach in a kindergarten class. It was a class full of junior kindergarten children. Many people would run in the other direction at the prospect of being in a classroom of 27 three to four-year olds, but not me. I adore kindergarten children, they are so open and honest; something we all lose, as we grow older. Mind you, it did not start off as a bed of roses.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

You have to remember that it is only the second week of school, a Monday to boot and many of these students have never been in any type of organized school setting. So to say that there were a few tears would be an understatement. It was more of a river, yet I did something that got their minds off their separation anxiety. I brought out my trusty friend, George. If you do not know who is George he is my purple monster/dragon that sounds like Goofy and helps me read stories, sing songs and introduce lessons to the students.  
Once I brought him out and introduced him as my little friend that helps me in the class, the students were mesmerized and many of the tears began to go away. I even had a couple of little girls, “shadows”, beside me for the rest of the day. At one point the art teacher came into the room and I had to leave to go to the washroom and do some work in the office, one of them didn’t want me to leave. I told her that I would be back but she wanted to come with me. I told here I had to go to the washroom but it was the big boys washroom and she kind of understood. She asked several times if I would be back and I reassured her that I would. At the end of the art lesson I returned and the little girls saw me and I said to them “I told you I would be back.” and one even smiled.
The rest of the day went well and George helped with a few songs and a couple of stories. As the day progressed everyone was engaged in the activities in the class and many of the students were wearing smiles when it was time to go home.  
It was an amazing day and George was a big part of it. I have had George for many years and I have brought him into countless classrooms and even after all that, I am astounded at the power of his presence with the students. The morning could have been a disaster but just bring out George helped to calm things down and I was able to connect with the students much quicker. I guess children are all the same, no matter where you go.

George, you have some power that makes people feel at ease. Not only the little kindergarteners, but me too, Thank you little buddy.


Friday Two Cents: George Helping With A Lesson


    No matter how many times I see it, I am always amazed at the reaction my puppets get in a class of students.

In the kindergarten class I am in, I have used my puppet George to help teach lessons, do learning circle or a read-a-loud. The students are always engaged and focused on what George has to say. I even do songs and the motions with him and it gets them moving along with him. As well, I have been talking to the students about bringing in my Mufasa puppet with little baby Simba. Well today I finally brought them in.  

I used them as an example for the students on why Mufasa, as the adult lion, may have some rules for little Simba. I asked the students why do they think why Mufasa has these rules for Simba. A few raised their hands and their response was that Mufasa wanted to keep Simba safe. I wanted the students to see and hear Mufasa when I asked him, ‘If Simba broke the rules and you are upset with him, does that mean you do not like Simba or that you will always be upset with him.’ Mufasa said, “No, even though Simba may have broken a rule or did something wrong, I will never stop caring for him.

photo 2

Mufasa with little Simba

 I extended it by agreeing with Mufasa saying to the students that, ‘Even though you may break a rule and the teacher and I may be upset or disappointed, that does not mean we will always feel that way towards them. The adults in the class, the teacher and myself, are there to help them and care for them and that rules in the class are there to help keep them safe.’ Some students even smiled at that.

photo 4

Little Simba, Mufasa and George

I continued the lesson with a read-a-load with the story “How full is your bucket?” George introduced it and they were very attentive. Even though we have a number of very young junior kindergarten students, they listened and participated. George was able to introduce the book and after I continued with the idea of filling the bucket. Students as well referenced the filling my bucket metaphor at different points in the day.

Amazing how something as simple as a puppet can be used for so much good.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

Friday Two Cents: Vacationing In Ontario With George Part 6 Niagara Region



  Just about every year I make a trek to the Niagara region for some sites, sounds and some fun. This region has an abundance of things to see and do that every time I go, I do something new. This year I was able to visit a historical site that I have not been to, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The trip down to the Niagara region is only about 1 – 1-½ hour drive from Toronto, depending on traffic. Yet I do not take to usual route that many would go to see Niagara Falls. I take to a back road into Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small town at the mouth of the Niagara River, on the Canadian side. This route has the advantage of passing many wineries on what is known as the Wine Route.   This year I was able to stop off at a wonderful winery called Jaskson-Triggs. It is a newer winery, about 10 + years but they make excellent wines. I went on a tour of the winery were I was about to have a wine tasting of several wines including a tasty ice-wine and a sparkling wine. After the tour I was able to sit in the vineyard and indulge my artistic skills as I drew the vines.


Grape on the Vine – By Paul Gauchi

After I went into town and did some exploring but this year I wanted to visit a historical site I have not visited before. I went to Fort George on the outskirts of town. This was the site of several battles during the war of 1812 when the Americans and the British were at war and Canada was the battleground. I won’t go into too much details on the war or the battles around the area, but these battles were some of the most pinnacle battles. Near the fort was the battle of the Queenston Heights, one of the first major battles of the war were Major General Sir Isaac Brock fell in battle on October 13, 1812. Yet the British prevailed.

After the battle the Americans besieged the fort and it fell on May 25, 1813. The Americans held onto the fort until December 1813, but retreated across the river before a British force could arrive. Yet before they left Brigadier-General George McClure of the New York militia ordered the firing of the town. It was destroyed leaving the 400 townspeople, mostly women, children and old men with no shelter from the winter cold. Much of the fort was rebuilt after they left but it fell into disrepair and then reconstructed in the 1930’s. I had the fortune to be present to a musket demonstration and the flag lowering ceremony. All in all it was an enjoyable visit that I hope to make again some day.  

After I made my way to my final destination, Niagara Falls. There I always like parking in the casino, then make my way down to the falls. No matter how many times I have seen the falls they are always awe-inspiring. After the casino and its many restaurants beckoned.  

I find that many people take trips overseas to see the different sites, tastes and wonders other places have to offer. Yet I truly believe that Canada and of course Ontario has many historical places, exotic tastes and its own wonders. You just have to take advantage and be a little adventurous.  

Friday Two Cents: Vacationing In Ontario With George Part 5: Trailer Camping



Well this past week I could not post on Friday because I was up at a friend’s trailer enjoying nature with the comforts of civilization. I say this because I for one love camping with a tent and cooking over an open fire. But there are times when I do enjoy the conveniences of modern living. Running water and flush toilets to mention only a couple. This was emphasized with one point of the trip while I was in, what is known around here as cottage country.

The region is about 1 – 2 hours drive north of Toronto in the great community of Midland and Penetanguishene.   My friend’s trailer is situated in the outskirts Penetanguishene with wonderful scenes of nature and beaches within driving distance, which we partook.

Besides the beaches and natural beauty, the community has a wonderful and rich history. One such venue was our trip and exploration of Discovery Habour. This historical site was a naval base built to help safe guard Upper Canada (Ontario as it was known then) after the war of 1812. It has many buildings and is rich in historical features that it took us a day to see them all. The site being a naval base has full-scale replica sailing ships, the H.M.S Bee (a Gaff Topsail Schooner) and the H.M.S. Tecumseth warship, plus others. They also have buildings with period specific items that bring out the history. Yet the showstopper is a new building, The H.M.S. Tecumseth Centre. Here they have artifacts and the original hull of the H.M.S. Tecumseth pulled from the Penetanguishene Bay in 1953. This climate controlled building gives you a wonderful look into a piece of Canadian Naval history.

As well, the trip was enhanced with the communities’ celebration of the Rendez-Vous Champlain Festival – a celebration of the arrival of Samuel de Champlain on the shores of Georgian Bay in 1615. 400 years ago Samuel De Champlain arrived on the shores of the Georgian Bay area and began a series of events that would see French settlers arrive and leave their mark on the area. A few facts about the Penetanguishene region and the French connection:

  • Sainte-Marie-among-the-Hurons, founded in 1639, was the first French-European settlement in North America, thanks to the guidance and generosity of First Nations.
  • The Huron-Wendat First Nation inhabited the area between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay long before Europeans, building thriving commercial and agricultural communities.
  • Nearly 612,000 Francophones call Ontario home. This is the largest French-speaking community in Canada outside of the province of Quebec.


They had a parade and events for the three-day event and it was wonderful to see and experience.

The experience then topped off with a clear night so we can view the Blue Moon.  A blue Moon happens with the second full moon of the month.  This only happens every few years.  The full trip was wonderful and upon reflection a great segue to the upcoming events that I, and George, plan on experiencing for the rest of the summer. Stay tuned, the summer many be half over but adventure is always just around the corner.  

Friday Two Cents: Toronto Pan Am Games



When I heard that Toronto got the Pan Am Games I was one of those people who did not celebrate. I thought it a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and I had no faith in the government institutions to organize and run an athletic competition of this size. In addition when things where suppose to be moving along and getting things done, the infighting amongst the different levels of governments reaffirmed my feelings. Reports of money mismanagement and governments spending taxpayers’ money like there was no tomorrow came out.


How Pan Am staff used your tax dollars

Pan Am Perks Aplenty For Officials 


Yet after reading all the news about the games and seeing how people, especially the students were looking forward to the games I thought I would keep and open mind. I still had my doubts but I told myself a long time ago that I would not be like many people and judge something of someone before I give it or them a chance.

HOV Lanes First Day of the Toronto Pan AM Games. The Toronto Star 06/29/2015

However, before the games began, it did not start off on a good foot. The government introduced these High Occupancy Vehicle lines on the highways (HOV Lanes) and traffic became heavier not better. Even during the games started I was driving on the highways and I would only see a handful of vehicles using the HOV lanes. If they think that turning 3 lanes of traffic into 2 and one HOV lane is an improvement, then I think that the psychiatric ward is missing a few patients.

Then from the beginning I was not impressed with much of the opening ceremonies. Yet I did see a bit of it on TV but it got boring so I left the room and did some other work. Mind you I did watch the fireworks at the end and thought that it was impressive.

After I waited for the ball to drop and see the chaos, thankfully it did not. I must say that over the past 13 days the events have gone off well and the chaos of traffic headaches did not happen. Yes there were times I could not drive on specific roads because of an event but it was well planned out and the detours were good. Mind you I know the city pretty well and I can navigate the roads at will, but it was not the nightmare that many had predicted.

The one thing that has been a big disappointment is the television coverage of the games by the CBC. In comparison the Vancouver Winter Olympic games aired by CTV, the word that comes to mind is frustrating. I tried looking but I cannot find what or when specific events are being aired. Therefore I decided to indulge in going to an event. I am planning to go to the gold medal game for women’s football (soccer) on Saturday. I was surprised to see that the tickets were not that expensive. $40 CDN for seats, I’ll have to see how good they are when I go to the event tomorrow.

Overall, to be honest, I have to say that the Toronto Pan Am Games 2015 have been a good experience for the city. I for one was very skeptical with the organization and the bureaucracy involved. My many years of working in the system have taught me to be very pessimistic when it comes to the government. Yet I would imagine that when push comes to shove, people will come together for the common good.

Well tomorrow I am looking forward to the gold medal game for women’s football (soccer). There are specific parking areas with shuttle bus service available.   Canada is not playing but I am looking forward to seeing the women’s teams from Columbia and Brazil play. I plan to take a lot of pictures and hopefully even George will be coming along.

Hey! I did say I would be taking him along wherever I go this summer. Didn’t I? I’ll let you all know how it went tomorrow.


George with tickets to the Pan Am 2015 Gold Medal Game Women’s Football Brazil vs Columbia.

Friday Two Cents: Vacationing In Ontario With George Part 2: The Stratford Festival



The next place I visited on my adventures with George around Ontario is a place I have frequented on numerous occasions in the past few years. I have been going to the Stratford Festival for many years now and every summer I try to take in at least one performance, yet I never took George. So I remedied that over site. Yet I do not only go for the performances but I usually pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the town and surrounding sites, this year with George.

The first place I visit is in a town called, of all things, Shakespeare. There I stop at a local shop that sells home-made pies. Now you might think what’s the big deal about pies but these pies are made by Mennonite women. You can see that they are hand making them and they taste delicious. They not only make a variety of fruit pies but meat pies as well. Suffocate to say I stopped and George and I got a few pies for dessert.

After a nice picnic lunch and walking around to see the sights, next the biggest things I enjoy are the plays. In the past I have seen adventure plays such as The Three Musketeers, musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar and Pirates of Penzance and of course a great many Shakespearian plays. But this year I saw something I have been long been waiting to see.

Oedipus Rex At the Stratford Festival

This year I was treated to an epic Greek tragedy for the ancient world. The story of how men who learn about their fate and then try to change it. I am talking about the tragedy of Oedipus, performed in the story Oedipus Rex.

I think many of us know or have heard about the Oedipus complex. It is the Freudian theory where there are complex emotions aroused in a young child, typically around the age of four, by an unconscious sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex and a wish to exclude the parent of the same-sex. This was originally used to apply to young boys but a similar idea for young girls know as Electra complex. Freud used this story as the basis and of naming his theory.

I think from this theory you get a bit of the idea of the plot of the story. In the original story of Oedipus, he goes to the oracle at Delphi to learn about his fate and in doing so, he learns that he will kill his father and sleep with his mother. Horrified by this he runs away from his home because he wants to change his fate. But the Fates are playing a cruel trick on him.

On his travels at the crossroad to Thebes he encounters an older man on the road and the old man tries to run Oedipus off the road. In what can be called the first recorded incident of road rage, Oedipus kills the old man. Yet he does not realize that it is the king of Thebes, Laius.

He makes his way to Thebes, which is suffering from the terrible terror of the Sphinx. Oedipus defeats the riddle of the Sphinx and is made King but there are other troubles and in the end Oedipus vows to set everything straight. The people realize the King was murdered and the killer is in Thebes. Oedipus searches for the killer and in the process discover the king was the man he killed at the crossroads.   He is the killer but to add to the tale he also discovers that the man was his biological father, and the queen who he has married and had children with is his mother biological. WOW, you add a honey baked ham and you have yourself a Redneck Christmas.

These are the details of the story but the play is so well done and the director and actors have brought out the horror and tragedy of the tale. One actor of mention is Nigel Bennet, who plays the Teiresias the prophet in the play that knows the truth behind everything. Many who watch Murdock Mysteries would recognize him, as Chief Constable Giles. He was dressed like a cross dresser and walked very well in heals, but his performance as a blind prophet was not comical but inspiring. Spectacular and magnificent are the first words that come to mind. As well Gord Rand performance, as Oedipus was haunting and heart breaking. His final monologue was powerful and amazing to behold.

I for one loved every minute of it and as did George, but I think he liked the pies a bit more.

Ailish Sinclair

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