Wednesday, 3 October 2018

TWO HOCKEY AUTOBIOGRAPHIES

TWO VASTLY DIFFERENT HOCKEY AUTOBIOGRAPHIES

I've been on a bit of a hockey player biography kick lately. That cool air in the arena bring on this hockey-mania I guess? I read two book ORR (by Bobby Orr) and OFFSIDE (by Sean Avery)...and, boy, oh boy, were they completely different narratives.


 

I picked up ORR from the library the other evening and ended up reading about half the book in one night. What kept me up into the wee hours of the morning flipping through the pages? Orr's philosophy on sports and hockey. I kept finding myself nodding along with his opinions the more I read. His views mirrored the way I see sports - have fun! do your personal best! be a good sport! do a variety of sports! be a better person off the field/ice because of sports!
The stories he shares are all shining examples of how he lived his values. He is one of those very humble guys who prefers to deflect the spotlight off of him and shine it on others. A great example is his story of the goal he scored to win the Stanley cup in overtime. That infamous picture of him flying through the air with arms outstretched in celebration...


This is a picture and a goal he is asked about often. And, who wouldn't be proud of that! It's every hockey players dream as a kid right? To be the hero that scores in overtime to win the Stanley Cup! That would be story to tell over and over and over...right? Well, not so much for Bobby. His response is always about the rest of the play that led to this goal - Sanderson's great forechecking that kept the puck in the St Louis end and his pass to Orr. He makes sure to point out that was his only goal of the entire series...his team mates had scored all the other goals to get them into the final game. His goalie stopped all the shots to put them into overtime. He just happened to be that player that got the game winning goal.

The second book I read, OFFSIDE by Sean Avery was the exact opposite. Avery prides himself on being in the spotlight. I don't remember how many times he mentioned the crowd at Madison Square Garden chanting his name. And, it wasn't because he scored the game winning goal in overtime to win The Cup...it was because he caused trouble out on the ice. He was a pest, and his game plan was to annoy and bother the other team until they could take no more and slashed him or hit him and got a penalty. He also loved to use his minor celebrity status to get into 'cool' clubs and impress the ladies. Not the role model type of person you want your kids to model their behaviour after.



I really enjoyed both books for different reasons. ORRs was easy to relate too. I agreed with most of his views on life and sports, and kept thinking was a great role model he is for young hockey players like my sons. Avery's book was interesting to read because it was a world I'm not familiar with. His stories were of a player desperately trying to keep a spot on an NHL team by using less than role model worthy strategies. His off ice tales are wild and erratic as well, which made for some interesting reading. One of those books that take you into a life that you would never imaging leading.

Well, gotta go, back to the rink to watch the boys play some hockey. 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

EASY SCHOOL LUNCHES

WE WANT EASY, WE WANT QUICK, WE WANT HEALTHY

You can make quick, easy, healthy school lunches for your kids in no time flat!



Prep ahead of time. Here are some ideas we use:

  1. Prebake muffins. Freeze them. Take one out per day and throw it in the lunch for snacktime.
  2. Cut up a melon and store it in the fridge (a big watermelon can last all week!)
  3. Dried fruit. It doesn't go bad, it's sweet like candy, it can fill any small spot in a lunch container.
  4. Baby carrots. Kids love em, they do not need cutting, they may be the only vegetable some kids eat.
  5. Grapes. No prep work. Even pulling them off the vine is optional.

A couple of videos showing these tips in action. We post school lunch videos all the time on our youtube channel - OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL - keep updated by subscribing.






MORE SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS FROM OUR BLOG

NHL WORKSHEETS LEARN CANADIAN PROVINCES

Follow the Stanley Cup as it travels across Canada

Canada is a big country. It's hard for little minds to relate to the far away province of British Columbia when they live a thousand kilometres away (or more likely two thousand kilometres away). Let's put some context with the giant space, let's connect the provinces with something tangible (like the Stanley cup!)...okay maybe not literally tangible, but, something the mind of an eight year old boy can imagine holding up.

There is a tradition of NHL hockey players taking the Stanley Cup back to their hometown. Great, let's use that to our advantage and get our little students to match up the hometowns of their favourite hockey stars with the provinces on the map.

Luckily, Canada is full of great hockey stars, so I easily found a few who have won the Stanley Cup and taken it home. I just listed the player, their hometown, and asked the kids to colour in the province of their hometown in a certain colour.



Sunday, 9 September 2018

KEEPING CONNECTED TO THE WORLD

INTERNATIONAL NEWS IS A PRIORITY

For the last six months I have slowly been isolating myself from the world, not in a bad mental health way, but, by not keeping up on what is happening around the globe. It happened gradually, a change in job and routine meant I stopped listening to podcasts. A faster commute to work meant I missed the World News on the radio. Summer - well, you are forced to disconnect with the rest of the world when you are off camping. 
I didn't think much about it, I mean listening to the news and keeping up with world events was kind of a hobby, a luxury...but, I'm too busy now and it doesn't fit into my life. 

So what?



Well, I realized the other day that I'm becoming ignorant. 

A few small things happened to make me realize that the path I'm leading is probably not that great. I just happen to be was watching (no judging please) the Duggers (that 25 kids and counting even more show) and one of the boys was on a honeymoon in Greece. The thing that struck : how obvious it was that they knew nothing about Greece, the people, the cities, the history, the politics, how hard the financial crisis of ten years ago hit them (and they are still paying for it), the immigration problems...nothing. They knew nothing! Which makes sense b/c their family completely isolates themselves from the world. Fine for them, but, I don't want to be like that. And, I certainly don't want my kids to start their life like that.


What American's think of Europe.


Then I managed to hear about the terrible bridge collapse in Italy, and someone questioned how that could happen. And, I actually had an opinion - from the years of listening to world news I've learned a few things about how Italy runs (and it doesn't seem to have the most efficient public service sector) and I recall hearing concerns over infrastructure in Italy years ago. It made sense to me. I felt informed. 

That made me realize how important taking some time to keep up on international news. It's one of those things where you take in tiny clips everyday and over the years you develop a wide knowledge base that you can call upon to make sense of the world. It kind of helps see through fake news...


Long term exposure to news lets you see the real picture
What I am doing to accomplish this you ask?

Making time to listen to my favourite (and most trusted) update - CBC World at Six. I listen to the podcast the next day b/c I'm usually busy at six taking the kids to sports, or making dinner, or just living life.

Getting out of North American, figuratively of course. It seems the North American news bubble is so focused on itself that it rarely notices there are places like Europe, Africa, Asia, where interesting things happen too.
Which is why I make the trip to BBC World Service - Making a point to visit this site where there are interesting shows and articles from the entire world. And, the 'news' is not the typical negative-fear inducing-headline worthy kind of news that we are used to. There are positive stories about small accomplishments that give you a real idea of how life works in different parts of the world.



I am going to make an effort to share tidbits of what is going on in the world with the kids. Have those mind blowing conversations around the dinner table where I explain the intricacies of how the European Union is dealing with immigration...or maybe keep the topic simple. 



Tuesday, 4 September 2018

FIRST DAY SCHOOL LUNCHES

LUNCHES ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

The first day back to school is always full of excitement. The night before we are getting lunches packed up - a little rusty from the long summer months of non-school, but, always eager to get back into the swing of it. This is the time I get all sentimental and look back at old videos...

I love looking back at what we did over the years. I fondly look back at the container systems,  snippets of the kids when they were little...I also love rediscovering meals, tips, snacks, that I've forgotten about.

First Day 2015 - We had BUILT lunchbags back then. The soft bag we could pile all of our containers into. Man, they worked great. I wonder where they are now? 
Items to note: 
  • Homemade corndogs (in muffin shape). The kids loved those things. 
  • Blueberry flax muffins. Healthy, delicious, and heavy (as in filling).
  • Burrito cups. Like a taco cup but with refried beans instead of taco meat. 

First Day 2016 - I was very concerned about bread getting soggy. The kids kept asking for the same meals over and over...repeating chicken burgers, repeating pitas! 
Reminder to myself:
  • Homemade frozen burritos. Cheap, easy, delicious, and can be made ahead of time and frozen.
  • Make making lunches a festive event with music - www.radionomy.com/80sthrowbackparty


First Day 2017 - We had fancy new lunch boxes. Go Green Lunchboxes. This was also the first day of kindergarten for Oskie. I love that we went over what he should eat (not the cookies first!). 

Note to self: 
  • Remember spoons. 
  • Pumpkin muffins.


MORE SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS FROM THIS BLOG

Saturday, 1 September 2018

MAKING A GREAT SCHOOL LUNCH - TACO CUPS

A KID FRIENDLY SCHOOL LUNCH - TACO CUPS

Do your kids like tacos? I'm willing to bet they do. It seems to me that 95% of kids LOVE tacos. So, let's send tacos in their lunch.

To make a tasty taco meal that travels in lunchboxes here is a recipe we call Taco Cups. It works best, and saves time, if you have tacos for dinner the night before.


1) Use those very small tortillas and press them into a muffin pan to form a cup shape.

If you only have big tortillas just cut out a circle - about the size of a mason jar lid - you can even use a mason jar lid. I have.

2) Throw the muffin pan in the oven at 350 for 10 mins.

The tortilla will crisp up and keep its cup shape. This is essential since it will hold in the yummy taco filling!

3) Fill the cup with leftover taco meat and add a sprinkle of cheese.


4) You can send a dollop of sour cream or some avocado in a small container on the side. 

Here are a couple of our school lunch video showing The Taco Cup:


The long "How-To" video:


A very quick tutorial (sans narrative) on how to make Taco Cups:




In this video I show how great it is to throw Taco Cups into the bento boxes / lunch boxes. 




Taco Cups is a favourite with my kids. They ask for it all the time. Every other parent I know that has tried the taco cups have all said the same thing, 'they love them'.


I hope this helps you pack up some great school lunches this year. It's a hard task doing it day in and day out, but, keep truckin'.


I find it very interesting to see what other parents pack in their children's lunch boxes. I've spent far too much time watching Youtube videos of other lunch packers putting everything from organic-vegan-wraps to extreme-processed-packaged filled lunches and still find myself interested in the next video. Here are a few in case you are interested...


Here is a cute healthy lunch featuring food with google eyes. I think the accessories you can add to food make lunches look so fun.






Don't be intimidated there are plenty of good solid lunches like this next one, showing simple foods, a packaged food or two, all in an inexpensive ziplock container system.



Then there is this parody I made - it is Tasty with a capital T ... and all the other lunch buzz words like Bento-Box, Organical, Protein Friendly, Glutton Free. I cut up a mango too!




MORE SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS FROM THIS BLOG


A PLAYLIST OF THE BEST YOUTUBERS WHO MAKE SCHOOL LUNCHES

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

LEARNING FRENCH USING TECHNOLOGY

DUOLINGO IS GREAT FOR LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE

This fall Olivia is going to a new school - into a french immersion program. 
I feel it would be very beneficial if old Dad brushed up on his french. How?
We know that language is best learned when you are immersed into an environment where only that language is spoken. But, if that is not possible you can turn to the internet. You can watch Youtube videos, search up worksheets, read blogs...or you can use an 'APP'. Yes, there is an app to learn french (or a handful of other languages) called DUOLINGO.

Duolingo is awesome! 

Yes, there is 'work' to do, but, not the classic "let's conjugate the verbs...je ___, tu ____, il/elle ____

This site makes learning french kind of fun. It is set up like a game - a quiz game! Oooh I love games, especially quiz games. I really like when they start off really easy and you feel so smart. Then I adore (that's french for love) when the challenge level rises as if there is an algorithm tracking all your answers/mistakes and tailoring the questions for you...hmmm

It does start off kind of easy with multiple choice formats, or even pictures...


easy enough


Even if you have no idea what is going on and you guess right you can still learn a bit by the explanations the site gives you.


ahh, that's what it meant


Then is gets a bit harder. Luckily, you can hover your mouse over the words and get a translation...help that eliminates that feeling of total terror when you feel completely lost in another language. 


tu mange (hover over apple to see if it is feminine or masculine)


They keep in interesting by mixing in french and english - makes you think (and learn too!)
If you make a mistake you get an explanation. There are more indepth conversations in a message board that can be helpful as well.


Oooh, I made a mistake


BUT, what I love about technology is that there is much more than just typing and reading...you can click on the little icon and listen to the words being spoken. Another level of learning right there!


I can hear the words...in FRENCH!


And, to keep you motivated you get points everytime you finish a 'round' of learning. If you finish an entire lesson plan you get a crown! Ooh. You can go a bit further by setting your daily goal of X number of points, and there are extra bonuses along the way.


I've met my daily goal, yay me!


I love how the lessons are set up. They are split in sections/topics; starting with basics and you have to earn your way to more advanced stuff. 
There is a small lesson you should read before tacking the questions. They are easy to follow and usually have charts to refer to if needed.





On top of all this there are a couple of other extra learning tools.

Flashcards. We all know flashcards work for memorizing single words or phrases - well, they've done it digitally. The great part is that you can read the word, hear the word, see it in context. Isn't technology great?!






There is also a practice section where you are bombarded with a random assortment of questions. It's a timed, high pressure 'game', that makes things fun (if you like that sort of thing).
The best part is you can review your questions and answers. Another great way to learn.




I have found this site and app so useful. You are given all kinds of different ways of learning french (or as I mentioned earlier a bunch of other languages too) and it is fun along the way.
A great tool to have in your toolbox of learning :)