Blog #205




Strawberry Fields Forever

  We met some friends from IHM for strawberry picking yesterday, this time at a different field.  The picking that took only about 15 minutes last week, took almost an hour yesterday.  The season is ending and this field's berries were decidedly smaller.  After filling our basket, we went to the lake.  Joan had packed some food and we paddled across the lake to a small island where we parked the boats and had lunch.  Svea's paddling skills finally kicked in and she looked quite competent. Brigitta, still remembering when she fell in, wasn't as eager to practice in the kayak.  With some encouraging however, she paddled three quarters of a mile and brought the boat into the shore.  We were proud of both girls.















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Blog #204



"This is the most fun I've ever had in my life!"

  (Svea - on riding a bike)


  We took the girls to Howe Road Park twice yesterday so that they could ride their bikes in a big open area.  They can now pedal almost as long as they want and have pretty good control over their bikes.  I'm just amazed as to how much they have improved over yesterday.  Brigitta has taken to the tiny little older bike; she pedals that thing at an amazing tempo.  Their evening ride ended with her crashing and scraping her knee, however.  Svea is just thrilled to ride and doesn't want to stop.  She exclaimed while riding, "This is the most fun I've ever had in my life!"  After watching her big sisters, Annika decided that she also was ready to move up to a two wheeler (with training wheels).  She is pedaling the old pink bike about.  She is very proud to be riding "A big girl bike".







Blog #203



Highlight of the Summer

  (So far)


  Both Brigitta and Svea learned to ride two wheeler bikes today!  We've been trying on and off for the past few years; today it finally clicked for both of them.  I think part of their success came from using an appropriately sized bicycle.  We have a pair of smaller bikes; but they are too small and squirrelly.  Last summer I bought a pair of bikes at a garage sale that had suspension, gears and handbrakes.  They couldn't reach the handbrakes and the bikes did not have foot operated coaster brakes.  The bikes also were a bit too tall and were way to heavy.  I bought this purple one at a garage sale this weekend.

  I worked with Brigitta and Joan worked with Svea.  Both girls rode solo within an hour of each other.  We are so very proud of them!  I left the camera running on movie mode during much of the day's lessons; I had a feeling that one of them might get it.  Check out the movies on our movie page.




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Blog #202

David & Joan


Sunrise Paddle

  Joan and I got up before the crack of dawn yesterday and went for a sunrise paddle.  Check out the slideshow on the movie page.





  It seems so rare that we entertain at our house.  We had some friends over who have three boys to our three girls.  Our girls adore the boys.  They began asking around 10:00am when our guest would arrive for the 5:00pm party.  They set the one hour oven timer over and over to count down the hours.  When they arrived, our planned outdoor picnic had to be moved indoors because a huge storm was approaching.  Joan had a craft planned just in case; they made "art from found objects", in other words, sculptures from garage junk.  They kids loved it.





  Not long after our guests arrived a fierce storm pounded Northeast Ohio.  Winds took down branches and knocked out our Internet and cable.  As soon as our guests left God illuminated the evening sky with a gorgeous rainbow; clearly it was a message that all was now well.





Blog #201


Mushrooms with Views

  This is how I wasted the past two hours:


Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com


Blog #200




  Today Svea and I went for a paddle.  I towed her so that she could get used to the rudder pedals and paddle strokes without wandering too far off course.  Most beginners need a bit of time learn how to go where they want.  I've determined that for now tow-assist paddling lets me get a workout while the kids can work on their skills without getting too frustrated.  I think it was a success.


The island that I built last summer has barely resurfaced as the lake water level has dropped.


Dinky and Lorilire

  Svea made this creature today.  It is a composite of pictures she took yesterday; she selected particular natural objects that were to become specific parts of the critter she had in mind.  A flower, log, moss and rock make up this tiny dragon she's named Dinky.  Her orange friend, Lorilire, is on the orange log in the picture below.




Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com


Blog #199



Hampton Hills Park Hike

Today we went for a hike in Hampton Hills Park.



Can you spot all four girls in the pictures above and below?  (Click to enlarge)




We've realized that Joan tends to notice little things that I overlook (below). 

I tend to notice landscapes (above).


Can you spot the spider above?  (Click to enlarge)





Father's Day Paddle

We went for a nice paddle on Father's Day.  This time we took three kayaks.




Go Kart

I bought a neat little electric go kart at a garage sale last weekend.  It's much faster than the bigger Power Wheels, but needs a solid surface to run on.  I've set up a slalom in the driveway a few times and the girls have had a ball.


Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com

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Blog #198


& Svea


Happy Birthday Joan!

(Yes, she's 40!)

   It wasn't intentional, but Harriette pulled a "You're really old now" gag on Joan for her 40th birthday.  She bought us tickets to a community theater musical.   "Swingtime Canteen" is a musical based on the pop music of World War II.  Joan and I both appreciate the Big Band era and love everything to do with the 1940's.  It should have been obvious, and it certainly didn't matter, but the vast majority of our fellow patrons remember the pop music of World War II, firsthand.  I don't think I've ever been in a place with a higher concentration of octogenarians, and I tend to seek them out.  We generally enjoy community theater shows, but this production could have been better.  It was still nice to get out, however.  Earlier in the day we went to the zoo.  The Akron Zoo has opened its new jellyfish exhibit.  Its at least 100 times cooler than it sounds. 




Svea's camera's battery died after just a few minutes so I swapped her batteries.  Svea took all of the zoo pictures below.





Meat in a Glass

I cooked a steak and scampi dinner for Joan on her birthday.  I figured I could marinate in a glass as well as any other container.  Joan was amused at the sight of meat in a glass and wanted a picture. 


Brigitta Graduates

   Brigitta graduated from kindergarten with perfect marks.  She loved the fact that her "straight A's" allowed her to get a three free movie rentals at the local video store.  The kindergarten graduation was more of a song and dance show, and a pretty good one at that.  Brigitta had a relatively major repeating solo line in "The Twelve Days of School", and pulled it off very well.  I admire her fearlessness. 



Svea Earns Awards

   The school year at IHM ends with an awards ceremony.  Older students can earn awards for straight A's, A's and B's, alter serving and quite a few other things.  Art, Music, Spanish, P.E., and Technology teachers also give an award to a primary, intermediate and middle school student.  The final awards are for Christian Attitude.  Each homeroom teacher selects one boy and one girl who they feel most reflects Christ-like behavior.  Joan, myself and most teachers feel that this award is especially important.  Joan and I received a note indicating that Svea may be receiving an award.  We figured that she probably had been chosen for art; she really pours her heart and soul into everything artistic and has a knack.  So, we were not terribly surprised when our art teacher called her name to receive the primary art award.  We were very surprised, however, when her name was called again to receive the Christian Attitude for her class.  We are very proud of her.  When I explained the award to Brigitta, her response was, "But she's not always like that at home."  This is true and I love that we can now dangle it over her head for the rest of her upbringing...


IHM DVD Browser-Based Yearbook

   I haven't blogged, biked, kayaked, goofed around or even slept much for the past several weeks; I've been busy.  At the beginning of the school year I promoted an idea that I've been toying with for the past few years: releasing our school yearbook on a DVD, viewable through a browser like a website (but not available on the Internet).  During this school year (mostly during the last quarter) I've had my students build web pages about themselves.  Each student wrote an autobiography, including a small portrait of themselves (linked to a full screen portrait) and chose their own web page color scheme.  Many students also included mp3 voice recordings about their favorite thing of the school year.  Kindergarten and first grade students have sixth and fifth grade "big buddies" who built their pages for them and interviewed their little buddies for the biography information.  The student pages account for 440 of the 575 pages of the yearbook. 


  The other pages cover school clubs, events and sorted candid pictures.  Sports were haphazardly represented this year; we just didn't have much to work with.  In addition to web pages, the DVD yearbook includes about nine hours of: video, animations, slideshows, student video projects and presentations.  One sub-project of this yearbook was the "hello" videos.  I filmed all of our students saying hello in their language of choice or a synonymous word.  The hello videos are grouped together by class; so 18 videos cover all 440 students.  The resolution of the 140 videos varies quite a bit, but most clips are about broadband quality. 


  We have sold quite a few DVD yearbook and have promised a copy to each staff member.  Originally, I planned on burning the copies myself on the school lab computers.  Considering that we needed nearly 200 copies, however, we opted to hire out the duplication work.  Since we only charged five dollars for the yearbook, we pretty much blew our budget on the duplication costs.  The owner of the company that is making our copies was amazed; he said that he had never seen anything like it and repeatedly stated, "I can't believe that you got all of this on a DVD."  I'm a bit amazed myself, but I was confident it would fit.  I spent much of my time compressing files as they would be compressed for the web.  The DVD yearbook is similar in size to hallbuzz.  Both the hallbuzz website and the IHM DVD Yearbook consists of a little over 9,000 files.  The DVD yearbook consumed about 3.8 gigabytes of the 4.7 available on a DVD.  Hallbuzz uses about 3.0 gigabytes of server space.  I just bought a 4GB memory card for Svea's camera; it just amazes me that something the size of our yearbook not only fits on a DVD, but it will fit on a tiny SD memory card... 


  The day after I burned the master copy I began planning and allocating 4.7 GB of DVD space for next year's yearbook.  I wish that ten months ago I knew what I know now, but that's the nature of doing something for the first time.  After I finished I did some research to see if other schools have done something similar.  There are commercial businesses that produce browser based DVD yearbooks, but all aspects appear to be very standardized and generic.  I'm much happier not placing creative limitations on my students and myself.  If this year's DVD yearbook is well received and we decide to do it again next year, I'm confident that it will be much better.


  Tomorrow morning we will distribute the yearbooks between the IHM Masses and they will also be available at the school office.



   Over the winter I think that the best price we've seen on airline tickets to Alaska for this summer have been around $630, now we are looking at $710.  Times five, that's a bit tough on a Catholic school teacher's salary.  Alaska may not happen for us this year...


Girl Scout Camping Trip

(By Svea)

   Mom and I and the Girl Scouts went to a private campground at Wyoga Lake.  We went swimming, fishing and hiking.  Our Girl Scout troop went on a night hike.  We made sculptures out of sand and slept in a tent.  For crafts we made walking sticks and a jumping toy that spins around your ankle.  We sang karaoke and danced to it.  For breakfast we went on a hike and tried to find our own food.  I found some rhubarb but my Girl Scout leader wouldn't let me pick it because it was behind some poison ivy.  There was a playground at our campsite.  I want to go camping with my Girl Scout troop again!


Joan's ongoing fascination with mushrooms continued on the camping trip



   A ground hog family has been raiding our garden so papa has been setting the live-catch-trap.  He caught a raccoon the other night.  Svea used the movie feature of her camera for the first time to capture the raccoon's release.  The video is rough, but her audio throughout is hilarious, at least it is to me.  Check it out on the movie page.


Hall Family Website hallbuzz.com


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