My Two Buddies

Some people love ’em.

Some people hate ’em.

I’m a love ’em sorta dad. Since today is December 1st we made sure to haul out the Christmas decoration yesterday. Fortunately, the boys were home from school. Not because of the two inches of snow we got but because it was an in-service day for the teachers.

We began the day by buying snow boots. It’s amazing how fast feet grow between March and November! Then we played in the snow. Bang and I built a snowman. The snow was so wet and heavy that he ended up crushing himself (the snowman, not Bang). He was mad because he couldn’t figure out what to use for eyes. Crash attempted to snowboard down the driveway. The snow was so wet and sticky that he did more scooting than boarding. He got mad and stormed inside because he was “frozen”. I told him to “let it go. let it go. Don’t hold it back any more”.

Anyway… back to where this was going…

Where were we going, again?

Oh yeah… Christmas decorations. The boys and I hauled the stuff up from the basement. The Fisher Price Little People nativity scene is erected. Bang likes to pretend it’s a train and pulls baby Jesus all over the house.

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Yes. That’s a wise man where the Angel should be.

The “winter scene” is arranged on the bookshelf.

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All the beautiful angels are watching over the cozy house and the 3D printed snowmen.

Both boys homemade and schoolmade handmade decoration are up. I’ll share these in the days to come. These are the special pieces. They’re irreplaceable. They are priceless items that could never be replaced because they’ll never again be the age and size they were when they made them. Unless I find a Delorean and 1.21 gigawatts.

The lights were put in the window and the Christmas tree was put up. Mind you, it wasn’t decorated because of a SNAFU (I love that spellcheck doesn’t underline that word). It’s weird how you when you unplug the Christmas tree in January all the twinkly lights are shining happily. Yet, when you plug it back in in December half of them burned out. WTH? How do they burn out when they’re not plugged in? I have one guess.

The elves did it.

You see, we have two mischievous elves who LOVE Christmas lights. They return to our house with joy and excitement every year when they see our lights beckoning them. So if you’re looking for elf ideas or just a simple reminder to move them (right Anxious Mom?) you’ll find that here. As I did last December, I’ll have my regular post plus an Elf update. I already have a few idea for Woody and Elfis. Crash found them at 5:45 this morning. Bang woke at 6:30 and came bounding down the stairs to find them. To be honest, I’m as excited as the boys to see these two back in action.

The magic is working.

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Elfis in the penguin cup because Bang stuffie at night is a penguin. Woody is in a Moose cup because he has an uncle who has called him “MOOOOOOSE” since he was born.

 

 

Where Would We Be?

Imagine a world without teachers. What would our world look like without classrooms, without schools, without the teachers our children adore?

This is the path Nova Scotia has found itself wandering along. Our teacher’s union has been in negotiations for over a year trying to bargain for better classroom conditions, better pay, and to save their long-service award – a bonus upon retirement for serving 25+ years. The union’s proposal would an cost an estimated $508 million. The bulk of that, $340 million, would be put towards a better working conditions. The province has countered with a $41 million proposal. That’s a difference of $467 million. I may have been born in the morning, but it wasn’t yesterday morning. I compare solving the the education problem with $41 million to buying a new car with the change you can find in your couch cushions.

After a year with no progress, after a year of the government saying things will change without changing anything, after a year of empty promises and no action teachers have taken a stand. They’re standing up for our kids, our children and their own, for a better place for themselves and for our most precious commodity. Our future. 9,300 teachers voted. An outstanding number of them, 96% to be precise, have voted in favor of a province wide strike. Teachers want to be heard. Teachers need to be heard. The government says they’re listening, but they’re not doing. The government says they’re already putting money into classrooms. However, it’s either so little it’s unnoticeable or it’s putting it in the wrong places.

When was the trust between the government and the classroom lost? When did those who are now removed from the classroom working in administration higher up lose their faith in teachers’ abilities and opinions? Does the government not realize how thin teachers are spread and understand their desire to simply teach again? As it stands, elementary teachers are required to test and track their student’s abilities in reading, writing and math. Report cards can take weeks to complete. Reading assessments for each student takes time away from teaching, not to mention time to evaluate them, score them, and assess their development level compared to how they tested previously. All this while teaching 25 other students.

Teachers work in the public sector and that seems to be the Premiere’s argument because he doesn’t want to treat employees within the public services differently. Aren’t teachers so much more? Teachers come in early and leave late. They take their work home with them. They spend time after school in clubs, sports, bands and countless other activities. Now teachers are taking a stand and demanding to be heard. A “work to rule” strike begins next Monday. This means all the extras are gone. Teachers are to enter school and leave school at the times depicted in the contract, 20 minutes before students arrive and 20 minutes after they leave. No clubs. No sports. No bands. No extra curricular activities. This saddens me because it means my youngest son misses his first performance in his first Christmas concert- there will be no Christmas concert. While I will miss it greatly, I completely understand it and fully support it.

I perceive this to be the next step of negotiations. Teachers have had to take a drastic measure to be heard by the government. However, this isn’t worst case scenario. There is one more step. A full shut down. A full strike that would close schools entirely. A world without teachers.

None of us would be where we are today without someone teaching us, without guiding us to enlightenment, without broadening our horizons and deepening our understanding. If teachers aren’t heard by their government soon, if action isn’t taken soon, a world without teachers will become a reality in Nova Scotia.

To read further please visit Teachers of Nova Scotia.

From left: Kate Ervine NS Parents for Teachers, Liette Doucet NS Teacher’s Union President, Stephen McNeil NS Premiere

Sunday Share Thankful

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I reminisced about days gone by. That evening I was pleasantly surprised to find that a cousin had posted a video of some football being played in the front yard of my grandmother’s where all used to gather. I saw a couple original players out there playing!

Then once we were done being Thankful for what we have, along comes Black Friday where we go out an get some more. We didn’t do any of the big sales that day. We did a small bit of shopping yesterday, but nothing extravagant. DW has made of list of who we need to buy for, so it’s time to start thinking, buying, and checking names off the list. I would be nice to go somewhere where we can get all done in one big day. One fowl swoop. It’s tough to Christmas shop when the kids are with you. I did it last year. One was in school and one was 4 and so intend on pushing the cart he didn’t see what I had in my hands. He’s 5 now and that won’t work again.

So anyway… here are the posts I’m thankful for this week. One of them is a video. You’re welcome!

Five Little Doves
What’s wrong with Megtron?

Lou Plus Two
On liquid gold..

Where Are Your Pants?
An honest job description

Wonderoak
What do to when you see that mom…

Green Grapes
Those lonely bananas…

Kristina Kuzmic
A very thankful mom…

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Go Ask Your Father: Zamboni, Santa, Grammar, and Electric Blankets

I suppose everyone is feeling sluggish coming out of their turkey comas. Here in Canada we don’t get the day off for American Thanksgiving. Since we were all in school and Crash had a choir concert after school we didn’t even get the chance to call my family to tell everyone Happy Thanksgiving. I tried to thank them and tell them I miss them in yesterday’s post. We will be celebrating American Thanksgiving tomorrow with a 20 pound turkey and our Canadian family. In the meantime, I will be fielding the endless questions being fired at me like a gangster’s Tommy Gun.

How does a Zamboni work?

The boys have been ice skating about twice a week for the past couple weeks. They are loving to learn. It’s great exercise too. They’re soaked in sweat after our hour on the ice. Crash doesn’t crash as often and Bang is starting to skate without his skate trainer. After the hour of public skate is over, we get off the ice to make room for the boys’ favorite machine. An ice resurfacer, like those made by Zamboni, have several functions. It washes the ice, shaves the ice and leaves behind a layer of fresh ice. A blade shaves off a thin layer of ice while a horizontal and vertical screw (an auger) moves the shaved ice to the snow tank (that’s the big box on the front). Water is fed onto the ice rink to wash it. A squeegee collects the dirty water and it’s vacuumed, filtered and returned to the water tank. Finally, clean water is delivered to the ice and spread evenly with a “towel”. The clean water freezes on the rink surface leaving a clean, smooth surface for the skaters.

What does Santa bring if you cry for no reason? 

Real Santa Claus carrying big bagThis is a question that arises every year. Last year when I told Bang that he brings coal, he thought that was simply fantastic. He wanted coal! So I added in that he also bring blueberries. He hates blueberries. This did the trick. He understood that if you were bad and cried for no reason Santa would come and bring you something you didn’t want. Or he would bring you nothing. Since the floodgates were opened turning the gears of thought, more questions followed suit.

“What if someone throws a snowball at you and you cry?”
Depends on if they threw to be mean to start a snowball fight because snowball fights are fun.

“What if you whine for no reason?”
Then you get blueberries.

“Will he still come if you cry when you get hurt?”
Yep. He will still come if you cry because you are hurt.

“Will he come if I say frickin’?”
Only if you say it at home. He won’t come if you say it anywhere else.

I’ll answer the other questions about what do with the coal and sticks you get when you are bad next week.
Why is “them” and not “it”?

Ah… A grammar question. Love it!
Ah… Grammar questions. Love them!

Spot the difference? Bang noticed this difference in a book he was reading. (Did I mention before that he’s reading now? In case I didn’t see here or here or here). One sentence read “Dad gave the cheese to Kate and she put it in the cart.” The next sentence was “Dad gave the apples to Kate and she put them in the cart.” So I pointed out the difference by asking him how many cheeses there were (he answered 1) and how many apples (he answered 3 after looking at the picture). When there is just 1 thing we use “it”. When there is more than one thing, we use “them”. I didn’t get into the “thing” being the subject of the sentence. It’ll get tricky later when there is 1 group.

Is it “I told the group of people it needed to be quiet.”
Or is it “I told the group of people, they needed to be quiet.”
It’s one group so it should be it. It’s many people so it should be they.
How do electric blankets work?

Living in Canada they’re almost a necessity. Unless you like climbing into bed that could be happily occupied by penguins. Not the Pittsburgh kind, either. We use it to toast the sheets. We turn it on, then do our bedtime routine – put on pyjamas, brush and floss our teeth, and go pee. When we slide between the sheets they’re roasty toasty and we flick the blanket off. A preheated bed is heavenly!

This is simple science. An insulated wire is placed in a fabric designed to be heated. The wire has a bit of resistance to an electrical current. This resistance causes it to heat up, much like the burners on your stove top. Thanks to Captain Obvious we know the wires in a blanket don’t get as hot as the burners on your stove top. The electric blanket has a control so you can decide how warm you want the blanket to get. This control often has an auto-shutoff and a device to prevent it from overheating.

On cold, weekend mornings, it’s not uncommon to find the four of us snuggled in Mom and Dad’s bed under the electric blanket watching Disney Jr.

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My Thankful Post

Once upon a time there was a family who celebrated Thanksgiving on a farm. So many family members attended that two tables were needed to sit everyone. There was so much food, two tables were need to hold it all. One of the seats was a church pew. There was much talking and laughter. There were bumping elbows and food stolen off plates. There was always one dish getting passed the wrong direction.  Through the years we ranged in age from newborn to grandparents.

After a hearty meal, the table cleared off and the dishes cleaned and put away, there would be football and parade watching on TV. They would doze in and out of tryptophan comas.

Well rested, the boys would gather in the front yard for some pigskin tossing and tackling. “Down 42! Blue! HUT HUT HUT!” Just like they were a Pittsburgh Steeler or a Dallas Cowboy. On warmer occasions, the girls would participate and it would become a family game of two hand touch .

Today, while the table remains, not as many gather around it this Thanksgiving. My grandfather, having passed away many years ago, no longer steals food from my mother. My brother and his family are now in South Korea. I and my family are now in Canada. My cousins are scattered up and down the east coast from Florida to Maryland. Some are travelling the world. There is no more football in the front yard.

The times have changed and nothing seems as it was in the “good old days”. Our gratitude, however, remains healthy and constant. Forever are we thankful for those days together. Thankful we could share a table with so much family, with so much love. Differences were set aside for a few hours of food and fun. Quarrels were ignored in the spirit of the holiday.

The newborns are now great grandchildren. Grandparents now outnumber children. Blessings outnumber worries. And we’ll celebrate American Thanksgiving here.

Happy Thanksgiving…

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Questions I Asked My Grandmother

1929 was a big year. Herbert Hoover was president. The stock market plummeted and U.S. securities lost $26 billion becoming the first financial disaster of the Great Depression. Trotsky was expelled from the U.S.S.R. The Cubs lost the world series to the Philadelphia A’s and the Boston Bruins defeated the NY Rangers for the Stanley Cup. A stamp cost .02¢ and a gallon of gas was .20¢. It was also the year my grandmother was born. Without her (and my grandfather), my dad wouldn’t be here. Without him (and my mom), I wouldn’t be here. Without me, you wouldn’t be here reading this. We can all thank my grandmother.

A few weeks ago I sent a letter off to my grandmother, my Dad’s Mom. It was done the 1929 way, written in ink on paper, sealed in an envelope and sent via postal service. Though, the way the postal service moves I could have sworn I sent it by pony express. Actually, I know it wasn’t by pony express. It would have gotten there faster if it was.

Today is “Questions I Asked” day a day early. As you’ve already read up there in the title, I didn’t ask my kids the questions this time. She graciously responded in her very unique penmanship. I can easily pick her handwriting out of a police line-up.

So what did I ask her? How did she answer?

1. When and where were you born? How many siblings do you have?

I was born on a farm at home near Longwoods, Maryland in 1929. I had 3 sister and 3 brothers.

2. What was school like for you?

Small classes, know everyone. What I liked best was being in school plays and history classes.

3. How did you meet Pop Pop?

We were introduced at a barn dance by a friend.

4. What was it like raising kids on “the farm”? 

We ate good food, played together, and worked in the chicken houses together.

5. Which trip/vacation was your favorite?

Probably going with Kathy (her daughter, my aunt) to Ireland, Scotland, and England.

6. What do you miss most about the “good old days”?

Memories of WWII when we had an Army Observation Post at our house. We had company every night and met interesting people in our neighborhood.

7. What did you do for fun as a kid?

My sister and I played with dolls and kittens.

8. Did you ever get into trouble as a kid? What did you do?

Once only, my sister was a trouble maker. One day I fastened her in the hen house. There was a black snake there.

9. What is a memory of my dad as a kid that makes you laugh?

He only saw me cry once. He asked if I had something in my eye.

10. How far back have you traced our family heritage? Who was it and where were they from?

Back to the 1600’s for some ancestors. They were from England. Nicholas Goldsborough is my ancestor six times – family marriages.

After note she included with her letter…

Once my children (she had seven of them) were out of school and on their own, I may have neglected them. I knew they had their own interests far removed from mine.

So I pursued my own interests- civic activities- historical and genealogical research. It was always easy sandwiching family and others.

Now, in recent years, I’ve been writing about my childhood and parents as I remember them. I have many loose leaf notebooks. 

The research I did for others broadened my interests and many friends have I acquired.

My research included murders, suicides, law suits, a few scandals and some boring. 

Only one long time effort researching Leo’s (my grandfather) Mother’s family. It cost a lot of money. There is a copy of it in the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Crash and Bang with their great-grandmother

 

A Pig and an Elephant


If you have a toddler or a kidlet you are probably familiar with a Piggie named Piggie and an Elephant named Gerald. They are two characters in cleverly written books by Mo Willems. I had seen a few of them in our library but didn’t check them out until they were recommended by one of my favorite university professors who helped teach me how to teach. Thanks Dr. O! 

They are a blast to read aloud and will cause laughter from said kidlets. They are simple enough, too, that even a five year can read it with a dash of help and a pinch of patience. 

I know I’ve written about learning to read several times. Even just recently. But reading is my world right now. 

Just as baseball was last summer when the boys were learning the difference between a hit and getting hit.

Just as trucks are to Bang and (God help me) Minecraft is to Crash.

So here’s a reading strategy for you. Share read. Take turns. I’ve heard it called popcorn reading. It not only takes some of the pressure of reading so much off of them, but it also encourages them to read along with you so they can be ready for their next part.

Crash learned this technique with the book “Knuffle Bunny”. Ironically, it’s a Mo Willems book, too. I don’t usually like to embed video into my blog posts. But when something like this happens, I can’t help it. We read this twice. Once for us and again so Mom could record us (and listen). So without further ado I bring you
Elephant and Piggie in “I’m A Frog”. Piggie read by Bang (5 years old) and Elephant by Dad (40 years old) recorded by DW (undisclosed age). Let the smiles commence…

Sunday Share

Good evening folks. Hope everyone has had a splendid weekend! We had an extended weekend as we were on the road. DW had a conference and as we did last April, we joined her. The boys and I wandered the town while she was conferencing. Thursday evening we all went bowling. You can see the catastrophe here (in slow motion!). We met up with friends and got to see their two adorable daughters and play catch up over supper at Swiss Chalet.

Now here we are Sunday evening. It’s 4:55 and it’s pitch dark outside. This week I share some new finds. Some of them found me and some of them I found.

Happy reading!

Monster in your Closet
We’re all in the same boat…

Lucy’s Locket
Some do. Some don’t. Is one of them right?

Explore the East
I’ve been to some of these places! If you haven’t, you need to.

Dad Sense
God bless the bib…

Four Princesses and the Cheese
How Trump made her better…

The Return of the Modern Philosopher
I really look forward to seeing Satan every Sunday evening…

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Questions I Asked My Kids: Travel Edition

We’re on the road today and tomorrow. Our favorite DW is at a literacy conference so we joined her on her journey. Traveling with kids is always an adventure, isn’t? We were only on the road for two hours this morning. Listening to the 5 year old, though, you would have thought we were on the Oregon Trail. Today’s questions are brought to you from the hotel…. here goes…

1. What is your favorite thing to do in Truro?

Crash: Go swimming
Bang: Go swimming

2. What is your favorite part about staying in a hotel?

Crash: It always has a few fun things to do 
Bang: The hair dryer

3. How many rooms do you think are in this hotel?

Crash: about 250
Bang: 300

4. How many times can you jump from bed to bed?

Crash: 500
Bang: 1600

5. What time are you going to go to bed tonight?

Crash: 1:00 in the morning
Bang: 7:39

6. What is something we didn’t bring with us but should have?

Crash: I don’t know
Bang: pictures

7. What did you buy with the $10 Nanny gave you to spend on our trip?
Crash: I bought Hotwheels minecraft cart, creeper and armor Steve with a diamond sword
Bang: Car hauler

8. If you had more money, what would you have bought?

Crash: I would have bought a scene for them
Bang: The race track set that was ginormous

9. We’re eating supper in the hotel. What do you want to eat?

Crash: Pizza
Bang: I ginormous pancake

10. If you bought the hotel, what color would paint the hallway? 

Crash: Orange
Bang: Blue

Bonus:

What animal do you want to be?
Crash: Shark because they eat tons of fish, have big sharp jaws and can swim very good.
Bang: An elephant so I can be loud

Wed Nes Day

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There’s a picture of it on the internet therefore I am not the only who does this. I spell it like it sounds. That’s fonetix for you.

Exept fonetiks dusnt werk all the tim

If you can read that, you must be a teacher.

Have you ever watched a blooming reader? I’ve seen it many many times now. Never did it make such an impact on me as watching my own two boys learn that letters have certain sounds associated with them. Put the right letters together and you can make a word. Put the right words together and you can make a sentence. Put the right sentences together an you can make a paragraph. Put the right paragraphs together and you can make book.

Crash has now written 4 or 5 books. Mind you, they are entry level readers he wrote for his 5 year old brother, but still. He wrote books. He, himself, is reading slightly above grade level. His brother is following suit.

But the English language is anything but easy. Bang catches on really quick to word families. He sounds them out one letter at a time to discover the word. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Look and Loot do not sound alike.
Hair and care do sound alike.

Then there’s enough, though, plough, and cough.

WTH?

Ignoring the exceptions, of which there are many, he sounds out new words perfectly. After reading them a few times they become locked away in the sight word vault. I wish I could memorize things as easily.

Alas, I have a photographic memory. I just don’t have an SD card. I have memory like a sieve. It’s on par with that of a goldfish…

I had it a minute ago, I don’t know where it is now.

Anyway, what was I talking about?

Oh yeah. Reading…

Bang comes home with a new book to read from school every day. He’s already progressed three levels since September. Crash reads every night as well. He’ll either read to himself or to his mom or I. Then we’ll ask him about what he read. Lately, he’s into books that take place within the world of Minecraft. But isn’t that the beauty of books? There’s something out there for all of us.

Watching an emerging reader is much like watching butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. That it takes years instead of minutes makes it that much more exciting.

I wonder what kinds of chapter books he’ll like to read?

What kinds of books do your kids enjoy reading?

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