Okay Now, In Unison!

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As I dropped my daughter off in front of her school this morning, I was treated to a laugh out loud.

As I pulled to a stop, each of the several cars in front of me and the cars behind me stopped also due to the red light at the head of our line.  Almost in unison, the rear passenger side doors all opened and kids with mammoth back packs all stepped out of their parent’s car and simultaneously slammed the doors as if choreographed.

Then, as one, they each turned, crossed the boulevard, and started walking up the sidewalk.

After seeing that amusing bit of choreography, my eye briefly settled on the “No Stopping” sign but I immediately rationalized our actions because due to the red light we were all stopped anyway.

The light turned green and after a quick wave to my daughter I was on my way.  Just another car in a long column of parents.

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I’m Baaaaack!

Okay, I’ve upgraded to the latest version of Word Press and woweee are there ever a lot of changes.  I guess if you take over a year off there’s bound to be a few changes when you come back….Like anything I suppose.

Nasty evening out there, rain was freezing on my windshield as I was driving back from Kristen’s soccer practice.  When Eli remembered that he forgot his water bottle I had to tell him there was no way we were turning around to go back for it.  Luckily, one of the other parents noticed it and will bring it to us to the next game… Yayyy….

Christmas is over already?!

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the Christmas season passes.  I look forward to the holidays the whole year and get to watch the anticipation building in my kids for the latter part of the year and then it’s here and gone in the blink of an eye.  Like everything, though, it seems to speed up as I get older…..The holidays were nice though and we got to see both sides of the family as usual.  On New Year’s Eve we had two couples and some of their kids over to our house to celebrate the new year.  It is always nice to be able to share a once-a-year celebration with good friends.

This year Santa was good to the kids and they were very excited as they opened up their stockings and found their Christmas treasures.  Only the toys this year are just as much fun for Mum and Dad so we’ve been negotiating with the kids over who gets to play and when.  I think I’m developing Carpel Tunnel Syndrome!

After many days of very (unseasonably so) warm weather, we’ve got a bit of snow on the ground today.  It’s not enough to make me shovel the driveway but I’m glad that traffic is still a bit lite these days since normal traffic would probably slow to a crawl as everyone adjusts back to wintery driving.

Happy 2011!

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Ghostly Toys that Whistle in the Night

A couple of nights ago, I awoke from a dead sleep to hear a strangely eerie whistle coming from one of the toys that litter our bedroom.  There’s a sofa off in one corner of the room along with a bookcase and several boxes of toys and it was from that area the ghostly whistle was coming from.

As a fan of Ghost Hunters on OLN, I thought maybe I was just replaying one of the recent episodes in my head and that I should just sit up and say, “What the crap is that?”  However, the whistling ended and I started to drift back to sleep.  A couple of moments later the whistling started up again and this time I was wide-awake wondering, “What is going on?”

That isn’t the first time a toy has started playing it’s music by itself.  We have a small stuffed duckling that was a present for one of the kids at Easter.  If you squeeze it’s belly, it will begin to quack about 10 times.  One day, my wife was rocking our son to sleep when he was only a couple of years old.  There was a thunderstorm outside and after one particularly close lightning strike and accompanying thunderclap, that little duckling started to quack.  Since it was across the room from my wife when it began quacking, she was quite freaked out but has since attributed the spontaneous quacking to the proximity of the lightning strike and thunder.  I stay away from that duck.

Another close call was when I happened to be downstairs late one evening and was freaked out by a doll’s carriage that seemed to be moving of it’s own accord.  I always told my wife that she could keep it since it was hers as a child but I also warned her that it I saw it move on it’s own, I’d chop it up and throw it out.  I was beginning to think about where I left the axe when I realized that the appearance of movement was caused by my shadow moving across the room and the flashlight in my hand (phew!)

Oh yes, the whistling sound in my room was caused by my eldest daughter who bumped up against the toy as she came into our room to lay down on the sofa.  Apparently, she had a bad dream and thought she saw a ghost.

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Peel Literacy and Beyond Conference

This past Saturday my wife and I attended a children’s literacy conference hosted by the Region of Peel at a High School in Mississauga.  There was a great turnout and it was well worth the drive. 

I was a tad sceptical at first but after an interesting and “moodivational” performance by a guest speaker, I was looking forward to some interesting and informative workshops.  In total there were 53 different workshops offered throughout the day in three sessions.  

The topic of the first was how to help your child with mathematics.  This is an appropriate topic because I had some difficulty with math as a child and all the way through High School.  There were some interesting insights into current Board thinking with respect to math and I think we can use what we learned to help our three kids.

The second workshop we attended focused on socializing children and how to help them to be comfortable in different social situations.  This was another appropriate workshop since our kids tend to be a bit shy and sometimes need some prompting from us to get them involved. 

We were a bit late for lunch since we decided to take a look at the offerings of the vendors and community groups displaying their wares in the main hall.  As a result, only the veggie sandwiches were left but that was fine for us.

The last presentation of the day that we sat through was how to nurture childrens’ intelligence.  The presenters gave us an overview on the current thinking of intelligence and how to help children to strengthen the areas where they are a bit weak.

Overall, I’d say the conference was a success given the number of workshops and the number of parents who considered it important enough to get up and be at the conference for 8am registration.  I was surprised by the turnout and hope that everyone got as much out of the presentations they attended as I did!

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Food Inc., Food Matters, and The Future of Food

These are the titles of three movies my wife and I have watched over the past few weeks all centered around food.  Food Inc is a documentary about farming and how the nature of food in North America has moved from an agriculture and farming focus to a factory and food creation focus with less accent on the agriculture and more on the production.  Generating higher yields quicker and cheaper in search of the almighty buck.  But at what cost?

Food Matters is a film based on the idea that we are what we eat.  If we eat highly processed chemical laden foods those chemicals become part of our  genetic makeup and can affect our health.  The film doesn’t claim to find miracle cures or sure bets to avoid disease but what it does say is that the nature and type of foods that we eat does matter.

The Future of Food is a film that looks closely at Genetically Modified Foods and how prevalent they actually are in many of the things that we eat and use every day.  Once GMO’s get out into nature, it is virtually impossible to stop or control them.  A truck driving down the road with GMO wheat, corn, or soy lets some seeds blow off and onto a farmers field.  That GMO seed germinates and grows.  Now that field is no longer GMO free and in an odd twist, the farmer is sometimes held responsible for the fact that GMO seed is growing on his land even if he did not plant it and does not want it there.

I can only touch the surface of these three documentaries in this space but I highly recommend all three.  If they don’t change your views on the food that you and your family are eating I hope that they are at least “food for thought!”

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As I near the nine-month mark

of being laid off, I have been busier than I would have ever thought possible.  It seems that the things I’ve put off for the last 15 years are all getting done now.  Of course, having three young kids also means that the taxi service is constantly required as well as the referee, chef, litigator, judge, jury, teacher, psychologist, speech therapist, doctor (well, advil and tylenol dispenser anyway), librarian, book reader, and best of all, friend.

In between that I’ve been taking courses trying to embark on a new career while somehow managing to find the money to pay the bills.  I’ve just completed course two of five with course three scheduled to start in January.  Just need to find a market for my writing now!

Kids are off school for two weeks and I have mixed emotions about that!  Having them away for a few hours each day gave Lily and I a chance to catch our breath but now with them home all the time it seems that the storm named KristenEliJordan is always blowing through our house throwing books, clothes, and toys all over the place.  We go from room to room cleaning up after them while they mess up the rooms behind us…..

It’s all good though, they are growing up in front of my eyes and I know that someday I’ll back fondly on this time while my mind conveniently forgets all the stuff that drives me crazy now.

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The Indian Search by EJ Tsuji

The following link is for a short little stop animation “movie” that was directed by my four year old son.  One of the gifts for his birthday last year was a set of plastic cowboy and indian figurines which also included a mountaintop, canoe, stagecoach, and plastic setting sheet. 

After visiting and experimenting with stop animation at the Ontario Science Centre, we decided that those figurines would make a nifty animation experiment so one afternoon we pulled out all the characters and made a short little movie with the plastic figurines.  Eli named the film “The Indian Search” although I don’t think either of us knows what it means!!

Without further ado here is the global debut of “The Indian Search”, a stop animation film by EJ Tsuji.

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A new milestone for my son

Yesterday marked a milestone in my son’s life.  He was able to ride a two-wheel bicycle unassisted for the first time.  There were no training wheels or hands holding onto him as he rode up and down our dead-end street yesterday afternoon.  I remember when my daughter rode her bike for the first time and my son had the same proud grin on his face as he pedalled past Lily who was helping our youngest daughter on her three wheeler.

The milestones for each of them just keep flying by and I’m just hoping that I don’t miss any of them…..

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Planting a tree for Jordan

Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday.  She is two years old and in honour of her birthday we’re going to be planting a new tree in the backyard.  Her brother and sister helped me to dig a big hole in which we will plant a Princeton Gold Maple.  My wife and I went to pick it out earlier this afternoon and our local Garden Gallery delivered it about an hour ago.

The tree is about 15 feet tall right now and the tag that was on it says to expect it to grow to a height of around 35 feet and have a width around 30.  That is nice and will provide some shade for our deck which will be welcome.  During the height of summer our deck is sweltering at mid-day since there is not much in the way of shade.  Purchasing a large tree is not an inexpensive choice but we wanted to have a good headstart on the shade.  I’ll try to post a picture of the tree once it’s planted.

My other two kids are running around in the backyard right now periodically sticking their heads in the back door to find out if Jordan is awake yet so we can plant the tree.  We’re also having pizza for dinner since that is our two year old’s favorite food right now.  Oh, I hear some movement upstairs, time to plant a tree!

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