Back In Time

With my daughters teenage years upon us I look at her and can’t help but wish I could spare her the hurt that comes from being a teenage girl.  But I can’t, she has to be 13 and 14 and so on, she has to get through this awkward and difficult time just like everyone else.  I can however do my best to help her along the path.
In light of that I began to think of what I would have liked to have told my teenage self if I somehow got the opportunity to send a letter back in time to my 13 year old self at the beginning of high school.  This is the results.  
Dear younger me,
So you are now 13 almost 14 years old having just begun your first year of high school.  I remember that girl and so the first thing I’m going to say to you is take that cigarette out of your mouth and wipe that smart-ass tough-chick look off your face, this is the older and wiser you talking here.  I KNOW that this is just an act I am after all the one who perfected it. 
I know that you are going through a very hard time in your life right now and that it feels like everything is changing at once and that’s because it is.  You feel lost and lonely, scared, unsure of yourself and your abilities and desperately unhappy at times.
All I really want to tell you is that it does get better; I promise you that no other period in your life will ever be quite as hard in quite this way again.  As it turns out these years really are the hardest to survive.  Even becoming a parent was not as scary as what you are living through right now.  
And yes you have children, a little earlier then intended perhaps but it is the greatest joy in your life and you do have someone to share it with, you are not alone. Actually it’s not too long from now that you will first meet your husband.  When you do you won’t even give him a second thought and you will forget about him entirely as your lives head in different directions. That’s OK he’ll be back.
I think now of all the crazy things you will wear and try out over the next few years and all I have to say about that is have fun.  Eventually you will find what works and what doesn’t but getting there is an absolute blast.  It also teaches us a lot about ourselves and having to defend your decision to dye your hair green or blue ends up giving us a lot of self-confidence.       
I know I’m not offering you a lot of advice here or even telling you how to avoid the mistakes you eventually make but there is a reason for that.  I know now standing on the other side that you somehow get through these years relatively unscathed (although there was that one very close call that ended up being seated across from a very unhappy RCMP officer)and what I’ve come to realize is that each mistake you will make also ends up teaching you a valuable lesson.
So all that I really want to tell you is that while you won’t always make the best decisions, you will get in trouble, and you will live to regret some of those things everything turns out OK.  You will get through to the other side. All the years of bullying and the pain and hurt and feelings you are dealing with in these difficult years will not last forever.
I leave you with this last thought; be happy!
See you later,
You in about 20 years

Seperate Pieces - 100 word blurb

Having children is like taking a piece of your heart and allowing it to walk around separate from your own body.  Their heart is your heart.  It is by far both the scariest as well as the most rewarding experience that life can offer.   At times it presents a challenge while at others it gives you pure bliss and joy.  To watch that piece of your heart beating and growing outside of your own body into its own person with its own thoughts, ideas, and path which is separate from the heart that lies within your chest is beyond expression.  

Fairytales gone bad

I recently pulled out two old books of classic fairytales that have been stored on my oldest daughter’s bookshelf since she was an infant.  These books had originally been mine as a child and although I’m not sure I ever read much of them they have been always been a constant, always standing side by side the image of Hansel and Gretel forever approaching the witch’s cabin.
I loved that image brought together with half on each books spine and it somehow ingrained in me a special attachment to these books despite the fact they were rarely read.  Occasionally I would read my favorites; East of the sun and west of the moon, the Gingerbread man, The shoemaker and the elves, Three Billy goats gruff while the rest remained unread.   
Not something I would normally bother to mention but something about these fairytales has begun to bother me as I’ve cracked them open to read.
As I’ve delved into these “classics” I’ve realized just how bloody sexist and chauvinistic the vast majority of fairy tales are.  Of course we all know the clichéd idea of the prince saving the princess however some of the phrases found in these original tales gathered into these two books is absolutely appalling.
The favorites we all know and love stem from a tree with some rather black roots. While reading these tales aloud I’ve constantly found myself pausing mid-sentence or even skipping over sentences completely in an attempt to edit on the go. 
I’ve even given up on a few unable to continue reading in complete disgust.  There is just no way to make some of these stories less sexist and demeaning to women.   The only types of female characters found in these pages are; the haggard old witch or the subservient beautiful (they’re always beautiful) young girl desperate to please. 
I don’t like the notions put forth by these books and am glad that they have remained little more than decoration over the years. 
I think rather than reading another story about women who are as dumb as a post, unable to do anything for themselves I would rather have the haggard old witch find and kill off the beautiful maiden leaving the handsome prince to wash his own damn shorts.

My Teamates @ Flaregames Studios!




  



 My teammates @ Flaregames =) Literally took me less than minute to draw all of them.

Picture Day - Water-proof

Last year I bought a new water-proof camera. I had it in my mind that I could get all these amazing shots that I was missing out on if only I had a camera that didn't make me run away from water. So after some looking around and a bit of research I came away with a new camera and high hopes. Instead what I get in reality is photos that usually end up looking like this one:
Whee I got bubbles. Artsy some may say but not very memory capturing. I won't deny that I've gotten a few nice pictures from this camera but it's fallen way below my expectations.  OK, so actual underwater shots may not always turn out well (and boy do people make funny faces holding their breath) I can get some nice shots in a pool area without panicking my camera is going to get wet. Right?
Then again maybe not.  Problem number two with a water-proof camera, water spots. unless I'm constantly clearing off the lens water droplets tend to make pictures a little...well spotty. Yes these are my toes, don't you love the nail colour?   

Long story short I've gotten some nice pictures from this camera in settings I wouldn't dare take a regular camera but until I go somewhere outdoors with great lighting and crystal clear water I think I should give up on actual in water shots.  Out of all those I've taken so far this is the best under-water picture I think I've taken so far.

In Today's News - Whining

Winnipeg is either going through an extremely slow news period or else the tendency to focus on the insignificant is just the way things are going.  It seems we have become a society of whiners.  The smallest complaint is news worthy and somehow it always seems to be someone else’s fault.
What’s brought about this line of thought is two specific news stories broadcast during last night’s evening news hour. 
The first was a number of people complaining about the snow left behind by street cleaning and the fact that they would have to shovel their own walks.  Hate to point this out but its Manitoba if you weren’t expecting snow you’re an idiot. My driveway is 100 feet long, I get tired of shoveling the snow and the remnants from street clearing and yes I do complain from time to time but it’s really not newsworthy.
The second I can no longer remember, what can I say the ole’ memory is slipping….wait I remember. It was complaints about store reward cards and that not all deals on their websites are available in all markets.  Well different markets have different availability seems like this should be a no-brainer.  It seems like something that you may grumble about to a friend in passing but it’s not really newsworthy.
To me it just highlights what seems to be an ever growing epidemic, rampant whining.  Every issue we face seems to be blown out of proportion, annoyances are now considered to be actual issues that someone else needs to step in and fix.   
I think this is where it really rubbed me the wrong way that not only did these individuals feel the need to complain in such a big way but that they seemed to expect it as a right that someone else should fix what they perceived as an issue.  
For the issue of snow clearing Manitobans pay enough taxes without more of our tax dollars going to clear snow from peoples walkways.  If you want to own a home you need to understand that it comes with certain maintenance requirements and that yes snow shoveling is one of those.
As for loyalty cards market differences are just that market differences not a personal affront and if you disagree with a company’s practices don’t shop there it really is just as simple as that.  Crying it’s not fair that one person is able to get something you are not is rather on the childish side.
I suppose this post could also be considered whining but hey it’s my blog I can whine if I want to. I think the difference is that I’m also not going to try to get it on the 6 o’clock news.

A gorilla, Gaston, a hippo and Duffy.

I think this may be my final post on our December Disney trip - it just seems "old" at this point.

This video clip includes some of the animals we saw at Animal Kingdom.  It was pretty cool to see an enormous hippo swim underwater (through a window).  The gorilla exhibit was also great - one of the gorillas was hanging out directly in front of the glass-enclosed viewing area!

When you watch the gorilla video clip, listen for the cast member (CM) saying "...you will have nightmares for the rest of your life!" Some kid went under the rope and climbed up on to the ledge of the window, which was a definite NO-NO.  And, despite more than a couple of stern warnings by the CM for the kid's parent(s) to get him out of there, the CM basically warned everyone that if the gorilla gets mad, ALL of us will be sorry and "have nightmares for the rest of our lives".  I believe him.  The kid's parents finally pulled him away from the window....

Also in this video is Gaston, albeit briefly.  He surprised us we were having a snack outside of Gaston's Tavern so I wasn't able to get it all on video.  He did comment on the fact that Anna was focused on sipping her lemonade though!



The Longest Walk

As per my new reading list I am currently making my way through The Lord of the Rings (here-after known as LOTR) which I have begun jokingly referring to as the longest walk ever. It is after all a very long journey, two thousand eight hundred and fifty-one pages in my edition, never mind the multiple appendixes tacked onto the end.
I first began calling it the longest walk ever while part way through The Fellowship of the Ring and I think the moniker is quite apt.  The first book is in particular a little slow moving and while the pace does pick up sections here and there continue to make me think “just get on with it already”.
Although LOTR is separated into three books it is one story not a trilogy and I think this is likely the reason why it does at times seem to be almost endless.  It really does go on, and on, and on.  Its saving grace however is that while the pages and story may be long it does continue to hold my attention and I am anxious to complete the story.  It truly is an engaging and wonderful tale of adventure and a well deserved ruler of the fantasy Genre.
I have not previously read the story although I have read The Hobbit and do have a dim recollection of attempting to read LOTR in my early teens giving up on it amidst the slower moving sections of the first book.  With the recent release of “The Hobbit” and my growing affection for the fantasy genre I felt it was time to give it another shot.
“The Hobbit” is really what prompted my interest in the full series and like many other films which have a written counterpart from which it was adapted I often find the written story to be my medium of choice.  I enjoy exploring my own interpretation of a story although it does not dim my interest in seeing another’s interpretation of it as well.   
As I draw ever nearer to the end of this tale even knowing what is to come having seen the film version I’m no less anxious and have come to love the characters within. 
My favorites by far are Merry and Pippin while my least favorite would be Éowyn.  I find that Tolkien tends to give readers fairly basic character development leaving much of who each character is to the readers own devices. While I think this works quite well for most I’m unable to get a grasp on Éowyn.  To be honest I think it may be a fault with Tolkien’s female characters in general.      
The descriptions of middle-earth are where Tolkien really shines however giving a fantasy land a life that can be imagined easily and brings to mind settings which are well suited for the story and to each of the fellowships journeys.  You can almost imagine that middle-earth must exist in reality somewhere yet to be found.
All in all I think Tolkien really did create a masterpiece of his genre here and I understand why this story has become so enduring and treasured by so many.  It is a world onto itself that exists in the minds of people across the world, now in my own as well.
I am now off to continue the journey to the land of shadow and mount doom with Frodo and Sam.     

Re-charging Cross-border

After the last week of bitter cold temperatures our family needed a little break and a bit of a warm up so we headed south of the border to a favorite water-park we have visited many times before.  The draw of this water park is in the constant ambient temperature of 80 degrees farenheit and the ability to run around in flip flops for a day or two.
It’s always a fun little trip and a great way to shake of the winter blues and also allows us grab a few items that are unavailable here in Winnipeg.   There are a lot of things we do that makes the experience simple and also allows us to make our weekend trips as enjoyable as possible.  
While many people consider crossing the Canadian/US border as insignificant it is important to remember that you are leaving your home country and to be respectful of that.
So in light of the idea that it isn’t all fun and games, here are a few of my tips for a weekend south of the border both when it’s to visit a destination or to shop.
1)      Be prepared.  Have all of your identification ready, know the answer to the questions you will likely be asked and coming home keep any information that may be needed handy.  It keeps everyone happy and the lines moving freely.
2)      Be polite.  You should be polite all of the time but when you are a guest in another country it is doubly important.  Two reasons; the first US citizen you meet will be someone with the legal authority to tell you to turn around and go back home, and two you are representing your home and all of the people who live there.
3)      Know the rules. Know what you are and are not allowed to bring in and out of the US as well as what monetary amounts are legally allowed and respect those laws.
4)      Be honest.  I have no sympathy for people who were “surprised” to have to pay duty or been forced to throw out goods.  It is your responsibility to know what is and is not allowed but remember that the penalty for those goods would be much higher if you are in any way dishonest. 
It’s really quite simple, as with everything a plan, and a few manners can keep everything on track and ensure that everyone has the best experience possible. 

Stir-crazy -100 word count

Day 5….. or is it 6 of the deep freeze…. I’ve forgotten the days……. trapped inside this fortress of coldness.  The doors remain unlocked and unguarded….. this jailer holds bitter cold and howling winds against me.... alas these guardians I find are stronger than any hope of mine for escape.
Woe and despair linger heavily on my heart as I count the days desperate to find my imprisonment has come to an end for my sentence is unknown as is my crime…… to feel the sun once again upon my face….hope fades as the days march on beyond the gates.

Yes, I'm being overly dramatic here, seems a week without time spent outdoors makes me a little wobbly :) 


Remebering Myself

I often find myself coming to the end of any given day without having taken much more than a moment or two of time for myself if any at all.  The hours and minutes just seem to slip away it is after all quite easy to get lost in the rush of day to day life.
There is always something that I could be doing, however I’ve realized that I should perhaps question the NEED to do everything as soon as it occurs to me.  I need to step back and tell myself that it really doesn’t matter if the laundry is put away this instant or that there really isn’t THAT much dog fur floating around the hardwood.   
Ok maybe there is that much dog fur floating around but it’s not going anywhere and it can wait. If letting it sit gives me the opportunity to have a candlelight bubble-bath or hell even just enough time to shave my legs I should do that instead.  It isn’t after-all about the sasquatch-esk look my legs tend to develop during the winter when I don’t often bother that matters it is what taking those moments does for my mental well-being.
Having been mostly stuck inside this week thanks to the bitterly cold weather I really became aware of how little I’ve done for myself in a really long time.  What brought it to my attention is that I don’t sit idle very well and because of how organized I actually am that I‘ve been running out of things to do, even the things that don’t really need doing. 
I’ve been finding myself looking for something to do when instead I should have been relishing that essentially free time and doing something for myself.  I organized my junk drawer for goodness sake. I mean really it’s A JUNK DRAWER; it really does not need to be organized at all let alone be of more importance than sitting my ass down for ten minutes and doing something like paint my nails.  
I finally came to the realization or idea that I should do something for myself when cleaning out the junk drawer as I found a gift card amongst the junk.  That gift card is for an hour massage at my favorite spa which I have had since June and still not made the time to redeem.
There’s the point right there, that I haven’t made the time and that it is up to me to make that time.  No matter how busy I am or how many other things I could be doing making the time for myself shouldn’t be last on the list.  I will only “find the time” to do for myself if just I take it.
 

It Was Electric.

Another "must do" from our trip was to see the electric parade which runs down Main Street (only on specified nights).  Check. I will say it was well worth staking out a curbside spot two hours before the parade was to begin. Both the parade and the light show on Cinderella's castle parade were simply awesome.  Sarah and I have always said that Disney knows how to put on a show!

Here's some more clips from our trip.  Check it out - it has some cute clips of Allie and Emily holding hands with Tigger! Anna wearing sunglasses is pretty darn cute too!



Sundogs

Baby it's cold outside!

Each year Winnipeg gets a deep freeze, some years it lasts a few days, others a few weeks, but it is something you can count on dealing with at some point over the winter months. Usually it hits at the tail end of January or the beginning of February and it is by far the worst part of winter.
While there are other major cities in Canada that are cold, the other prairie cities and to a slightly lesser extent Quebec, Winnipeg does hold the distinction of having the coldest winters. On days like today it’s not hard to see why.
While other cities are basking in temperatures as warm as +2 (St. Johns) most are sitting somewhere in the teens (Edmonton, Charlottetown, Whitehorse even) Winnipeg is currently -30 celsius, with wind chill it feel like -43.
That is actually as cold as it sounds and unless you’ve experienced it first-hand you are not going to be able to grasp quite how that feels.
The downside-
·         With wind chill heading outside today is absolutely numbing.  Exposed skin will develop frost-bite in under 2 minutes and let’s face it no matter how hard you try some skin will show…..and you WILL feel it. 
·         Just breathing on a day like today is difficult. Your lungs do NOT want to breathe in air so much colder than your natural body temperature and so particularly the first few moments outside will literally leave you gasping. 
·         Getting dressed properly will take a minimum of five minutes, ten if you are under the age of 13 (note that teenagers are even worse and may never actually dress appropriately).  
·         You will still be cold no matter how many layers you have or how well you are dressed.   
·         Eye glasses.  You have two options, either you keep your nose poked out of your scarf and risk frost bite to avoid fogging up or you can pull up the scarf, take off your glasses and walk blind.
·         If Manitoba Hydro were to ever have major issues half of Winnipeg is going to freeze to death.
·         Black ice forms and Winnipeg drivers are already scary enough.
·         Chapped lips, ha, try chapped everything!
·         IT IS MINUS FREAKING 40!!  
Not great selling points for experiencing these temperatures yourself I know.  
Here however are the “good” points.   
·         No mosquitoes, yes this is my first point and trust me it is the big one (as are our mosquitoes in summer).
·         It’s a dry cold and yes a dry cold really does not feel as bad as humid cold.
·         It’s warm inside and the desire to share body heat encourages cuddling.
·         It makes you appreciate the heat of summer
Ok that’s all I got.  A regular winter day has quite a few more good points but to be honest there really is nothing good about the experience of an arctic deep freeze.
I’m going to go hug one of the radiators now…….

One snowflake, three fairies. The girls meet Tink and Periwinkle.

This being our third trip to Disney, we had a good idea of what our "must do" and "definitely skip" items were going to be.

We knew we were definitely going to check-out the new Fantasyland (Belle's castle, etc.) and we also planned to spend AT LEAST 2 of our 6 days at Magic Kingdom.  We would also skip Hollywood Studios this trip (and maybe the next couple of trips as well).  We passed on going to Hollywood Studies because, in comparison to the other parks, there are few very attractions  for the girls.

Another must -do was to see Tinkerbell again since Allie missed seeing Tink last time.

I cannot believe I am even going to say this but...Tinkerbell has become a fave of mine. I guess I previously just couldn't get passed her high-pitched voice.  BUT, after seeing the character in person, seeing the girls' reactions to her, and catching some of Tinkerbell movies/shows, I like her! 

Here's Allie, Anna and Emily meeting Tinkerbell and Periwinkle:



Kings

In the forest dotted amongst the plentiful growth of soft black ash
Are the oak trees hard and strong.
They bound together at the entrance opening up my path
And then stand sentinel to guide me home
When the path comes to an end.

Their arms reach wide guiding
Through the rising sun,
Or moonlight evening sky.
Onward they say when the path has just begun,
And homeward when feet grow tired and weary.

They always stand the tallest,
Proud and straight
Determined to be the first each day to reach out for the sun
Amongst the ash they stand few and far between
Kings amongst their men.

Art of Animation.

Having just taken (today) the Audit and Attestation (AUD) section of the CPA exam, I may have a few pockets of time to do a few posts.  I hope the results of the AUD section are better than the previous two sections I took!

So back to our Disney trip.

Both Sarah and I were stressed about flying to Disney this time, given this would be our first time flying with the girls.  And, since renting three car seats can be costly, and there would be no guarantee of getting three when we arrived at the airport in Orlando, we decided to take our (new and pricey) car seats with us. 

Sarah had heard horror stories of car seats getting beat-up bad when checked-in, so we planned to take them on the plane and have the girls sit on them.  We had no idea how that would work - how do you get three car seats from our van (which we needed to park at the airport) gate?  From the gate on to the plane?  Along with the two strollers and carry-on bags? How 'bout getting the car seats (and the six suitcases) from the baggage claim in Orlando to our rental car?  Remember, it was me (the one guy) and Sarah, three 5 year-olds, and Sarah's mom.

We arrived to the airport well in advance.  And our stresses over the car seats were pretty much wiped away by the super-courteous JetBlue agents at the check-in counter.  Thank you!  They convinced us (mostly Sarah, actually) to check-in the car seats - telling us it would be much less of a hassle.  And JetBlue offers a no-fee check-in of car seats.  Again, thank you!

Here's some clips from our first 24 hours of vacation:



Concerning Hobbits





This picture is from the Assiniboinne park conservatory.  They often change the displays found amongst the tropical plants and this little hobbit style house that appears from time to time is by far one of my favorites.  It's not big enough for real hobbits, if indeed there was such a thing, but it goes well with what I've been talking about this week (my new reading list) and so I couldn't resist sharing having just completed reading The Hobbit.



The Days Are Long

Long are the days
When the sun rarely shines
And the wintery wind blows in a blustery gale

Long are the days
                When outside frost covered windows
Nothing shifts but endless white drifts of snow

Long are the days
                When nothing can be seen
Creatures hidden from cold and from sight and nothing in bloom

Long are the days
When the cold is felt inside and out
Warmth only found in moments which are quickly fleeting  

Long are the days
                When each one is the same
Blending from one to the next without change

Long are the days
Until spring

Out Loud (and in silly voices)

Reading aloud to children is something I enjoy doing whether it is to my own children or not.  I tend to really get into it using multiple voices, big loud booming ones and quiet timid squeaky ones. I use my hands and act out a knock on the door or stomp my feet and encourage the listeners to cheer along with the characters and get as into the story as I do.
As it tends to happen however, as my own children have gotten older I’ve read to them less and less.  With my youngest now being an independent and as enthusiastic reader as I am the importance of reading aloud to them seems to have faded.
That was until Harry Potter as over the last year we read the entire series together and I began to really see the value of reading aloud to both of them again. My oldest listened because she was too impatient for me to finish reading them to my youngest before reading them on her own, which she then did anyways.
What I’ve noticed since then as I’ve read other stories to my youngest is how my oldest surreptitiously listens to the story I’m telling rather than reading the one in her own book open on her lap.  Her eyes seem to lose focus and pages no longer turn.
So seeing as I have set my own goals to read some “better literature” I’ve decided in the next few months to do the same with my girls, reading aloud the classic children’s tales and whether they both admit to listening or not I think it will be well enjoyed.
   
1.       Chalotte’s Web – E.B. White
2.       The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson
3.       3. The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
4.       4. The wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
5.       5. Anne Of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
6.       6. James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl
7.       7. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
8.       8. Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi
9.       The Wind in The Willows – Kenneth Grahame
10.   Through the looking-glass – Lewis Carol
11.   Black Beauty – Anna Wewell
12.   The Tale of Despereaux – Kate DeCamillo
13.   The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis – full set
14.   The Black Stallion – Walter Farley
15.   The Neverending Story – Michael Ende

Exploring The Written Word

I’ve begun a new project or perhaps I’ve continued an old one depending on which way you look at it. I have been creating a list of books that I would like to read.  In recent years I seem to lean towards popular fiction reading the latest works of my favorite authors or picking up random best sellers. I haven’t read a piece of classic literature in years and I’ve recently realized that I miss reading those books that challenge my intellect rather than simply my imagination.
It’s quite the list I’ve created and while I have read many of these books previously it’s been a long time.  The first book on my list is in fact one of my favorite reads - Utopia by Thomas Moore.  I had read it many times over until one day I discovered that my dog-eared and well read paperback copy was missing. I never did find it and with slight astonishment I now realize I first discovered it missing nearly a decade ago.
I’m a rather voracious reader and I can and do read several books a week fairly regularly and so this is not really a daunting task at all but something I’m looking forward to.  Here is the first 25 I plan on reading.
1.       Utopia – Thomas Moore
2.       The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien (Just purchased the box set which is why these are so high on the list)
3.       The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
4.       The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
5.       The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
6.       The Time Machine H.G. Wells
7.       The Iliad -  Homer
8.       The Odyssey – Homer
9.       Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathon Swift
10.   Dracula – Bram Stroker
11.   20,000 Leagues under the Sea – Jules Verne
12.   Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
13.   Around The World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne
14.   The Call of the Wild – Jack London
15.   Brave new World – Aldous Huxley
16.   Les Miserable – victor Hugo
17.   The Phantom o the Opera – Gaston Leroux
18.   Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell
19.   To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
20.   Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John Le Carre
21.   Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
22.   Midnight’s children – Salman Rushdie
23.   A Passage to India – E.M. Forster
24.   Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
25.   Lord of the Flies -  William Golding

The Art of Animation by PES

I ran across one of these videos last week and I think they are are a great and imaginative form of art. If you get a kick out of it as much as I did you can find more at http://www.eatpes.com/

100 word picture prompt

This is the bridge of Sorrow, long ago known as the lover’s bridge.  For many eons it was where lovers would meet and so it was quite aptly named.  The name changed however when two lovers who would meet upon this bridge also happened to meet their end upon it.  Much like Romeo and Juliet their love was forbidden and their families sought to destroy what they had.  In the end they did, lives and love lost.  Now the bridge is considered cursed and so lovers visit this place only when their trysts have come to an end, in sorrow.  
File:Bridge, Haldon Belvedere - geograph.org.uk - 687935.jpg

Students and Teachers

I ran across this study yesterday about teachers and how sometimes they let their personal feelings influence how they treat and grade particular students.
This is something that I’ve been thinking about lately.  While my oldest admittedly struggled a bit during the last school year academically she made leaps and bounds in getting back on track this year. She has however continued to struggle in one subject, science. 
Science was once her favorite subject interesting her greatly and instead is now her least favorite because it leaves her feeling frustrated, negative and worrisome.  Much of the problem, which my daughter has tried to tell me, is that her science teacher doesn’t like her.
For the longest time I dismissed her idea that her teacher doesn’t like her as just an excuse. I have always believed that the marks my children get are their responsibility and I have faith in teachers to always do their job to the best of their abilities without bias. If my child brings home work which is below my expectations of what they are capable of I normally look to them for the reason not the teacher.
I have however come to realize through a number of events and issues that in this particular case a lot of the problems she has been having are a direct or indirect result of the fact that, she is right, her teacher does not like her.  I don’t know why, nor does my daughter but I do now believe a negative personal opinion really is at the root of her problems in science.    
Teachers deserve a lot of respect and admiration for the job they do and let’s face it even more so for those teachers of students who are in those angst ridden teenage years.  I’ve always believed that there are better teachers than others and that my children will sometimes respond to one teacher or their teaching style more positively than others.  
Knowing that however I’ve always had faith that despite the occasional personality clash that a teacher will always have a student’s best interest at heart and that those personal feeling won’t affect grades either positively or negatively.
Perhaps that was naïve and I have come to realize, as this article also points out, that it isn’t always true.  Teachers are simply human after-all and prone to the same irrational feelings and bias as anyone else.  Some teachers do not allow their personal feelings to impact a student’s grades but there are also some that will. 

The River Trail


A number of years ago conditions were just right for Winnipeg to create the world’s longest skating trail in the world even beating out Ottawa’s Rideau Canal.  It was a continuous skating trail along the Assiniboine River which extended from Assiniboine Park in the west end of Winnipeg to downtown at the Forks.
I never got the chance to skate it.  There are a few reasons; that particular winter was bitterly cold, my youngest was still skating with a chair and unable to go long distances and I couldn’t find anyone else willing to skate the whole 9.3 KM length with me.  Time went by and winter slowly came to an end along with skating for the year.  
That was in 2008, since then the ice conditions haven’t been quite right to re-create that length.  High water levels, warm weather, snow at just the wrong time anything that can make ice into an unsafe or un-skate able surface has happened.
This year conditions are looking good and a large section of the trail is open and in use.  This year conditions might allow for the entire trail to be opened.  This time I, a friend and my oldest will be skating it if it opens.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Simple Quiet

Life is always quite busy over the holiday season; places to go, people to see.  Everything went well this year and every single moment was enjoyed but a part of me longed for it to be followed be something else entirely.  A little bit of simple quiet.  A few days filled with calm and rest.  
After the very busy and rather loud New Years Eve in which our home was packed with family and friends, running children, noise makers and an awful lot of festive cheer I took the rest of the week easy.  
It was a rather slow work week, my kids were home and the last of the holiday celebrations were coming to a close so I took the opportunity to let schedules and commitments (even self-commitments) fly out the window and simply go with the flow.  To be calm and allow those moments of simple quiet I was craving to find me.   
I took down the many Christmas decorations, cleaned house, went ice-skating, had friends over for a pizza night, played board games and video games as a family, played in the snow and watched movies all curled up together. They were things that while perhaps not entirely quiet are rather comforting and often contain hidden quiet moments. 
Even while cleaning up I find those moments of quiet comfort.  Putting away decorations I would recall where and when a certain item was picked up. A few moments spent re-reading the cards we received over the season, even seeing the return of my regular simplistic and calm décor over the riot of colour found during the holidays was a moment to embrace.
Skating with family or friends is always a favorite activity of mine in which to find those quiet moments.  Those moments found in those long gliding stretches when there is nothing but nature, ice, your skate blades and the whisper of the wind to fill your mind. 
A simple lull in conversation while having a pizza night with friends in which no one feels the need to fill it is a comfortable and wonderful quiet moment.  The moments found while treasuring the feel of my girls leant up against either side of me while bundled up together to watch a movie.  A moment spent studying the cards or game pieces laid out before me.   A moment to catch my breath while playing in the snow with my head back and soft drifting snowflakes falling.
These are just a short list of all those quiet moments that have found me in the last week.  After a month or rush and celebration it was a wonderful way to ring in the New Year. With just a bit of love calm and quiet.  I suppose this is my new year’s resolution, to continue allowing those quiet moments find me wherever they may.

Surprise - we are going to Disney!

So, yes our trip to Disney last month WAS a surprise to Allie, Anna and Emily.

I captured their faces while Sarah broke the news only hours before we were to leave for the airport:



Gone On Hiatus