Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Christmas Photos

As usual, I am late with the challenge. I did my photos is two groups - Christmas Day at Barbara's house and then Boxing Day, also at Barbara's house.

This is the second year in a row that Don and I were not home for Christmas. It just made sense this year considering how I was sick before Christmas and getting ready was a challenge. I enjoy spending time with my family so it was not a hard decision to make.
I love nutcrackers. This is one of Barbara's

There is nothing better than getting together with my brothers and sisters et al. This year on Boxing Day there was 22 of us, with 20 sitting around the table since the babies did not need there own chair. We enjoyed just passing the twins aound. We never get enough of babies in our family. After dinner we did the usual - the boys did the clean up while the women relaxed. I always like to get a picture of that special family event. It was great to see how the smaller cousins, Joseph and Scott, want to play with the older cousins and look up to them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Outliers

I watched an interview on CBC News Sunday (see the above address). Malcolm Gladwell has written a book titled The Outliers. His book is a look at what makes people succeed at what they do - specifically, those people, or groups of people, who achieve beyond anyone's imagination. Outlier is the phenonema that lies outside of normal experience. His book is a look at some of the factors of success that have not been considered before. Some of the factors, he says, is your birth date, institutional factors and the culture you are born into. If you are born in the first three months of the year you stood a better chance than your peers in school.

Taking hockey as an example, the cut-off date for first class hockey is January 1st and the process for finding the talent starts to happen for kids at 8-9 years of age who will end up being chosen for the rep squads. Now, at 8-9 years of age, who are the stroger kids? The ones born at the beginning of the year. So what we think of as a system set up to identify the stronger, more talented people often turns out to be a system that favours early birthdays. These kids start to get extra coach support, practice time and play more games then other kids their age. In the end, Gladwell says, is that this stronger group just keeps getting stronger becasue of the practice time etc. and those bornin the later half of the year will not catch up. INTERESTING... Gladwell looked at a vareity of hockey teams in the NHL and other leagues. On one team he found 60% of hockey players have their birthdays in the first four months of the year. One idea he suggests is possiby having two leagues for those in the first half of the year and those in the second hal of the year so that all children are given equal opportunity to develop their potential. Gladwell believes that if this occurred that it would double the amount of kids that are good in hockey. INTERESTING...

Another factor - it takes 10,000 hours of pratice to excel at any complex task. Taking the Beatles, for instance, who did hours and hours of practice in clubs before they hit it big. Another example he gives is Bill Gates who happened to go to a school in 1968 which had a computer terminal - rare for that time. Gates gets his 10,000 hours of practice in before he even goes to college.

Gladwell believes that there are ethnic differences in achievement. However, he takes a look at they why, beyond the genetics. First of all he believes that looking at genetics is silly. He looks to the culture to help explain the differences. Asians, for example, excel in math. He believes it is because of the cultural attitude and work ethic. North American children give up a lot sooner than Asian children when figuring out a difficult math problem. Gladwell believes that this is because of the cultural differences in sticking to something until you figure it out. It comes from the history of the rice crop. Growing rice is very labour intensive and through the passing of the years has instilled in the Asian population a patience and sticktuitiveness. INTERESTING...

What else does this theory effect? How we look at education, particularly when it comes to the disadvantaged populations. Poor kids do worse because they do not have the amount of time with reading etc. that advantaged children have, especially during the summer. School is good for kids. It's just that poor children do not get enough of it. Japanese children go to school for 245 days in the year compared to 180 in North America. Gladwell believes that we should extend the school year in order that the gap between disadvantaged and advantaged can close.

I think he has a lot of interesting ideas. What do you think?

Another Borrowed Idea for a Post - Thanks Jenn!

Jennifer wrote about a nurse's job description at the turn of the century. I thought I would share the teacher's job life. After a little searching I found a job description for teachers during Upper Canada Days ( As with Jenn, I don't think I would be a teacher back then, especially since teaching was for unmarried women or men. Once I was married my teaching days would have been over.

Rules for Teachers:

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day's session.
3. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
4. After ten hours in school, the teacher may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
5. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
6. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
7. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaves in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention and honesty.

Any teacher who performs his labour faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his pay providing the Board of Education approves.

What does this tell you about the importance of education? There is no mention of how to teach! Who cares about the quality of the curriculum, as long as the teacher ensures the schoohouse is taken care of. I guess you would just have to watch Anne of Green Gables or Road to Avonlea to fill in the teaching details.

Another thought - we tend to think hat the reason we have the summer off is that we were an agrarian society and children were needed on the farm; however, recently I read that this does not make sense since the time children were really needed was in the fall - when they were in school. Apparently the American educational reformers at the time thought that if children had too much schooling they would go insane. Children need to "rest" their brains for two months! I will post about this issue tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not much to Say, So I Borrowed an Idea...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? A variety - depends on what is available at the moment. Often it is wrapping paper because the right fitting bag is hard to find.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. Some day I would like to try a real tree. There is something special about the smell...

3. When do you put up the tree? As soon as I can. Last year it was decorated while watching the Brampton Santa Claus parade - second weekend in November.

4. When do you take the tree down? Whenever the mood hits - usually the first week in January.

5. Do you like eggnog? YUCK!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my Chatty Cathy doll - I wonder why?! As an adult it was my camera and I-Pod.

7. Hardest person to buy for? I agree with Barbara - dad. Don is a close second the past few years.

8. Easiest person to buy for? It used to be Don - anything model railroad or tools. These days he is getting harder.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Of course!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I try to do cards, but not every year.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Not sure. Don tries very hard and puts a lot of thought into his gift giving, but sometimes may miss the mark - like the year I got a car stereo. That was more of a Don gift. I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I was excited at first.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love The Polar Express and The Grinch, both based on children's picture books.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually after Halloween.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Never. The thought of it!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? The sweets. I don't eat a lot of cookies etc. but there is something wonderful that happens at Christmas time. I love my Special-K treat bars.

16. Lights on the tree? Big, coloured ones - Don's favourite! The older I get the more I like the idea of a pre-lit tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song? To sing it would be Silent Night, Star of the East and Stable Door. To play would be Jingle Bells. A more secular song - Grown-Up Christmas Wish and White Christmas.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We have done both - depends on other family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Of course - I'm a teacher. I don't have a choice! I even know Olive, the other reindeer, and Rudolph's other names - like stupid. I even know the games he was not allowed to play, like Monopoly.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Definitely an angel

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning. Never done it any other way.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Shopping in a mall - too hot - too stuffing. I CAN'T BREATH. It reminds me of when I almost fainted on kettles twice.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I don't really have a theme or special colour. I collect ornaments that tell me a story and my tree has become more of a memory for me. For instance, I have an ornament that I got in a teacher exchange 20 years ago. Three of my ornaments I got in Manhattan last May. Now that I am looking at my tree, I guess I have a lot of different things on it - country ornaments, instruments, a lot of gold...

24. Favorite dessert for Christmas dinner? Pie.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I'm like Barbara, I don't really have anything on my wish list. I would love a good telephoto lens for my camera. I think it is one of those things that I need to save for myself.

26. Any special Christmas traditions? Listening to music while unwrapping presents, watching the Queen's address, fancy breakfast - do these count?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My 100 List

How many have you done? I bolded the ones that I've done

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland (well, Disney Wrold)
8. Climbed a mountain (kind of...)
9. Held a praying mantis (such cool insects!)
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (Paris, Ontario!)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child (do great newphews count?)
16. Had food poisoning (remember the Red Barn?)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I know it is pushing it, but does being a boat that passed it count?)
18. Grown your own vegetables (at school - potatoes, carrots, beans, corn, orange tree, apple tree)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight (who hasn't at camp...or with a sibling?)
22. Hitch hiked (For my family - do you remember our walk/hitch hike to the ranger station?)
23. Taken a sick day when youʼre not ill
24. Built a snow fort (who hasn't!)
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (Jackson's Point memories...)
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (both)
31. Hit a home run ((I surprised the boys when I was in grade 5. I was picked first after that one!)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (does Mennonite count? They are similar, aren't they?)
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (almost there...)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangeloʼs David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (I escorted one of my students)
47. Had your portrait painted (I was sketched - can that count?)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud (I have a wonderful picture to prove it. Some day I will share it)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (can't begin to count the number of times...)
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (does Weekender's count?)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen (it wasn't soup - it was refreshments)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (does publishing curriculum in my Board count?)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someoneʼs life (I had to do CPR on someone once)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person9
6. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

Thanks for the idea for the post, Barbara. It was fun. I need to get more of a life - so much of the list has to do with travel...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Family Thanksgiving

The best part of celebrating the special events and occasions in our lives is that you get to spend time with family. I spend all day Sunday getting the house and turkey ready. I loved decorating the house with the fall decorations. There is something magical about the fall colours. I am so blessed to be living in Canada and in a place where the fall colours show with such vibrancy. God is good!

Now that Joanne is back in Ontario she was able to spend Thanksgiving Day with us for the first time in three or four years. It was a special day since Jennifer was there as well with her twins, Ethan and Owen. Jennifer opened presents for the babies. I had a ball buying the outfits. We couldn't get enough of taking pictures of different people holding the babies.

It was also so warm again this year that we ate out on the deck. Unfortunately there must be a next of wasps. Cameron to the rescue! Cameron trapped six of the wasps under goblets to we could eat in relative peace. He was so proud of his efforts.

After dinner we had our usual family photo and then played a game of spoons. Spencer became our first casualty with getting a cut on his finger when fighting for a spoon with Uncle Don.

The four generations - Great-Grandparents, Grandparent, Parent and children

Great Uncle Rick.

It's hard to believe Joanne is a grandmother!

The proud great-grandparents.

To those family members who live far away and were not able to be with us this day, we wish you the best. We missed you and look forward to a time when we can all be together again. Ontario is waiting!

Autumn at a Cottage

Don and I were able to spend a week away at a cottage on Round Lake near Killaloe. For the first time we packed up Yoda, the cat, and brought him with us. We put him in a carrying crate but he kept banging the lid and the bars to get out. Once we were on our way and outside of the GTA I let him out of the crate. He laid right down on the blanket and went to sleep. We thought the ride would be a traumatic for him but Yoda was a trooper and actually settled well in the car.
The first night there Jason stayed with us. Don and Jason got up early the following morning and went fishing. They did not catch anything and Don was very stiff for a day or so. They also played the board game - Axis and Allies. It was great to see the two of them having their male bonding moments.
While the males had their testosterone time I just enjoyed relaxing in the cottage, reading and taking pictures of autumn. The cottage faces west so I thrilled to see a sunset each night we were there. So glorious!
Don and I spent time driving the back roads around the lake to Round Lake Centre, Bonnesure Provincial Park and into Barry's Bay. Don's idea of looking at and appreciating nature is from the front seat of the car!
On Tuesday we went to Petawawa to have dinner with Alyson and Jason. Jason and Alyson took us on a brief tour of the town and base. It is a lovely community with a lot happening to support the families that live there. We had a lovely time.
As the week went on Don and I spent much of our time relaxing around the cottage. Do you see a pattern in the pictures? Don and Yoda loved relaxing together. Yoda was such a sucky baby the whole week. He was content just to lay on the couch with us and we cuddled every day. Yoda tends to be a very independent cat, so the cuddling was a real treat.
Later in the week Don adn I went hiking in Algonquin Park. We went on the lookout trail. It felt like we would never get there but the wait was worth it. We also went on a bog trail. We came upon a group of people just standing and sitting looking toward teh woods. There was a moose cow and baby in the woods. I couldn't see a thing - so disappointing! The last trail we went on was the beaver pnd trail. It also had a small lookout over a pond with a few lodges. We had previously gone past the creek that had been damned by the beavers to create the pond.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Barbara and I and her boys had a special visit a couple of weeks ago with Jennifer and her newly adopted twins. I was so excited to visit her since she and Kevin have been through so much trying to adopt and it is interesting to see how it all worked out in the end. God had bigger plans for them - one baby would not be enough. They were being saved for such beautiful bundles.
Ethan and Owen are so teeny tiny - something almost foreign in our family (we grow big babies!). There is nothing better than the feel and smell of newborn babies, especially twins.

Me enjoying being a great auntie.
I didn't want to leave. I could watch them for hours.

I love the idea of being a great aunt and I just hope I can see them fairly often, just as I saw Jennifer, James and Jason as they were growing up. I loved watching all of my nieces and nephews grow up and I cherish those family times.

When the next generation become parents all those years of parenting and other influences in their lives come into fruition. I am looking forward to seeing my nieces and nephews become nurturing parents.
Now Barbara and Joanne, these are newborn babies!

I'm so proud of you, Jennifer. You make such a wonderful mom. What a natural.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

30,000 Islands Cruise

While away camping I went on the 30,000 Islands cruise out of Parry Sound. The boat went around the islands by Parry Sound, basically circling Parry Island. I can just imagine sitting on a Muskoka chair on a wrap-around deck of a cottage that sits one of those islands. Stunning views and relaxation to the nines! This would be my idea of a vacation getaway and cottage life. The other place I love visiting that gives me the same feeling is the thousand Islands near Kingston and Gananoque. This is when having money would come in handy!

I have included an osprey nest that sits on a man-made post. There was also an inukshuk on a small rock island. Traveling north on highway 400 and 69 you see lots of rock sculptures and inukshuks once the Canadian Shield is revealed. They says, "We have been here."

Lastly, just before the cruise returned to Parry Sound we went through an area with a swing bridge. It use to carry a railway but now it only carries cars. Many years ago there was a port town called Depot Harbour on Parry Island that was connected to the mainland by the bridge. The town was set to outgrow Parry Sound and Midland and become the prime destination. The town had schools, churches and businesses. It was a town that connected the Algonguin area and logging via the railway to the Great Lakes. However, due to a the selling of the railway, disrepair and hard times Depot Harbour no longer exists. It is a ghost town with only foundations left.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

St. Marie Among the Hurons

One of the activities I did while I was away was to visit St.Marie Among the Hurons. We visited the Wendat-Jesuit village back when we were much younger when visiting Uncle Bert's cottage. I find the story of the Jesuits' failed missionary pursuit intriguing. For a variety of reasons it failed. There was the Wendat people's conflict of feeling that they had to give up their culture in order to become Christians. There was also the Iroquois dislike of the Huron (Wendat) and their want for trade with the French. As with most native people, there was also the sickness brought by the Europeans due to the exposure to disease. In any event, the conflicts resulted in the murder of Jesuits, the burning of the mission, and the destruction of the Wendat. While the effort to spread Christianity was honourable and genuine, the result was devastating to the native population.

The village the Jesuits created was interesting since it reflected the diversity between European ideas and lifestyle versus aboriginal beliefs and lifestyle. I loved the canal system that was created with a series of mini locks for the couriers de bois (fur traders) could enter the village safely.
I have also included some photos of the village as it looks today and three pictures of our family's visit to the mission 40 years ago.