Monday, May 31, 2010

First Swim

One of the best things about summer is the first swim outdoor swim of the season. William and Charlie have been taking swimming lessons at the local YMCA over the winter months, but really, there is no comparison to having the time and space to swim in an outdoor pool. No teachers, no learning goals, no levels - just water, and sun, and fun. We are double blessed to have a wonderful Pop (Jim's father) who lives just up the street from us and keeps a lovely outdoor pool where we spend a whole lot of time. Here are a few pics from the first or second dip of the season. Uncle Steve, Auntie Mindy, Baby Griffin, and their dog Abby joined in the fun.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Erosion Table - second edition

Apparently one erosion table in our family just isn't enough. The drive in to Auntie Bonnie and Uncle Ted's home (all of 25 minutes) just seemed too far away for the boys, so we invited them over for a day to 'play' and help us build a table, too! Actually, it was more like "Uncle Ted, do you want to come over to our house and build a table for us while we swim, and play, and watch you??" Regardless, he graciously agreed, and so here it is - erosion table, 2nd edition. We Love It!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Soccer Season Starts

Ahhhh, soccer season. The true beginning of summer. New shirts, shin pads, mosquitoes and cut up oranges. The boys decided to take a break from our local league this year and play with their home school friends in a non-competitive family league (with the added bonus of having them both play on the same night!!) They have been having a great time, and enjoying the extra half hour of play (this team meets for a little bit longer each week). The playground by the soccer fields and the trip out for ice cream after each game make it a special night to look forward to each week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sleep in Peace

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.

~Victor Hugo

Fire Works

When I was younger, Victoria Day Weekend always marked the beginning of the camping season - loading up the car with friends (before husbands, let alone kids!!) and driving north. Somehow now I feel too old for camping in the cold and wet which often comes this weekend, so we have adopted a new tradition. For the past few years we have hosted a neighbourhood fire works party. Pizza ordered for dinner, lots of snack food for the kids, dozens of sparklers, and staying up way past bed time to watch the fireworks. I love being curled up in blankets on the deck, watching the lights and hearing the ooooohs and ahhhhhhs (and the inevitable jokes about singed eyebrows) from the crowd. What a great way to spend an evening with neighbours who have become such good friends.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Birthday Pirates

Last night the kids and I were invited to a pirate-themed birthday party for some good friends. The group got together in a local park (wonderful idea!) and was complete with sword fights, costumes, obstacle courses, good food, and cake - most of which was eaten up in the 'crows nest' tree. The kids even put on a show for us, racing through the playground. By the end of the evening everyone was full, happy, and exhausted - just the way I like them at bed time!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Erosion Table Complete!!

My brother-in-law Ted has been working over the past few weeks to make an erosion table for the kids. Today when we went over for a visit we were all thrilled to find out that it was done. He managed to free-cycle most of the parts, and I think that the total cost was likely less than $50 (with the most expensive part being the barrel pump). In the days since it was completed, the neighbourhood kids have been flocking to it, and William and Charlie were all over it, too. The water is a little dark still as the sand gets 'cleaned' of all of the finer particles of dust, but I am sure it will be running clear soon. Not that mucky water is a deterrent for the kids at all...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Clay, Water and Teeter Totters

Some friends who were not able to join us on this trip to the Bad Lands asked us to go again this week, and we were glad to oblige. The kids (6 in all) played in the clay hills for more than an hour while moms (mostly) sat in the shade and had a visit. When the sun go to be a little too hot for the kids, we headed over to a local park to play on the equipment, and then to a stream that the kids found running near by. The afternoon was filled with adventures, home bases in the woods, sightings of frog eggs, 'dinosaur bone fossils', fish watching, and teeter totters.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Media Exposure

We all know that most kids watch way too much TV, but this study really floored me - according to Generation M2, Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 year olds, in 2009 the average child aged 8 - 18 years spent 7 hours and 38 mninutes each and every day using entertainment media (TV, computers, texting, etc) for a total of more than 53 hours per week!!! What's m,ore, for many of those hours kids were multi-tasking (surfing the web while watching TV, texting while playing video games) so that in those 7:38 hours a day, they were cramming in 10:45 hours worth of media content. WOW.

To read the full study, visit here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why To Believe In others - Viktor Frankl

If you ever want to read an inspiring book, read Viktor Franlk's Man's Search For Meaning. I can't remember when I first read it, or how I came to pick it up, but it is one of my favorite books, and I re-read it every few years when I need to help myself get back on track. Viktor Frankl is a Holocaust survivor and phychiatrist who wrote about his experiences in Nazi death camps. He wrote about the differences among his fellow prisoners, and his observations that many of the people who survived in spite of those horrible conditions were not those who were the youngest, physically strongest, or who got more to eat, but rather those who were able to find some purpose, some meaning in their lives. For himself, it was the vision of leaving the camps at some time in the future and being able to share his theories with the world.

I came across this snippet on Ted Talks (thanks, Karen, for the new addiction!) and wanted to share it with you. In it, Viktor Franlk speaks to youth in the 1970s about why it is important to believe in others.

Why To Believe In Others

New Friends

Most years since William was a toddler we have raised caterpillars of some sort or another to watch them change into butterflies. We never tire of it, and are always in awe of what nature can do. These new friends will become Painted Ladies in a few weeks. Until then, we have sent a few of them off to niece, nephew, and neighbors to share in the fun. The two staying with us have been named by Charlie - Badger and Snickle. I will keep you posted!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Turtle Rescue

Today we found this lovely Eastern Painted Turtle trying to make his way across the road. He was so considerate to cross right by the turtle crossing sign!! We pulled over to take a closer look, and to help him to his journey - making sure, of course that he wasn't a snapping turtle, and that we brought him to the side of the road where he was headed..

Friday, May 14, 2010

Water and Trees

Last night I went to hear a wonderful talk by Robert Bateman at our local community centre about growing greener kids. Although there was nothing new or earth-shattering in his speech, it was still a wonderful talk. Mr. Bateman is a fabulous, personable, and very funny speaker. In a nutshell, his message was this - unless kids spend time in nature, unless they know it, and love it from their own experiences, not from books or lessons, they will not do anything to preserve it. He echoed the many studies that have showed the positive effects of spending time in nature for kids and adults - reduction in rates of: obesity, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, stress, suicide, and ADHD, and an increase in health, happiness, and academic achievement.

We tend to spend a fair bit of time in the woods anyway, but the beautiful weather today and the message from last night still fresh in my mind called us out today. This is an area that we have never explored before, even though it is right beside one of our favorite places. We will definitely be back.

Robert Bateman on the state of the environment:

It is like we are in a canoe going through rapids. We have a choice to stear, or not to stear. We do not have a choice to get out.

Two Wheels

The day has finally arrived - William,'s training wheels came off!! (Actually, they came off a few weeks ago, but I haven't gotten the photos up until now - oops!) Will has been wanting to bike more and more lately, but unfortunately our neighbourhood is completely hilly, which means that in order for the kids to ride for more than a few minutes at a time, I have to load them and the bikes into the van and head out somewhere a little more friendly to little legs pushing pedals. Alas, I am not very good at that, so the boys are a little behind in getting their riding legs. This spring Will and I realized that it was long past time that we got him onto two wheels, so we set out to do it. These photos are of the first day on his own - he wanted to stay on the grass until he felt his balance a little more. Since then we have been riding at my sister's home (the perfect place for little people to ride) and he is loving it. I am sure that it won't be long before Charlie follows.

If you look closely at the last shot you can see his tongue sticking out in concentration - something he inherited from me, I am told!