Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Words of Wisdom From J.R. Tolkien

J.R. Tolkien was a respected scholar, professor, devout Catholic, and author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This genius created a complex world with a history, geography and many realistic languages. Yes, Tolkien's Middle Earth is a fantasy world but not an insipid, fluffy world for little girls. No, he wrote profound literature, filled with complex characters and plots, universal themes, and symbolism with layers of meaning. I have dug up some of his quotes from his books which have something to say to us about life.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Chaining Kids With Fear

Childhood should be a time to play in freedom and joy.

When my oldest children started school in the mid to late eighty's, they played marbles, bounced tennis balls off the school wall and could bring real baseballs and basketballs to school. In short, they played like children have played for generations. By the time they were in grade eight, the principals had banned marbles and real balls from the schoolyard. Why? They were too dangerous!
My oldest daughter drew a picture entitled "Recess at St. Mike's" that shows a girl, standing frozen in place, with a ball and chain around her ankle. Quite revealing, isn't it?
When I was a child, we hopped on bikes without helmets, only wore sunscreen at the beach and ate peanut butter sandwiches. I that the world has changed but along with new, necessary safety measures this generation has put into place, society has burdened children with fear
Childhood is a time to play freedom and joy, freedom to lose themselves in the sheer joy of the present moment, without nagging regret about the past or fear of the future. My family was and is fortunate to live in the country, where my children roamed safely, caught frogs, built forts, explored a creek and created wonderful imaginative games.
One example stands out in my mind. I had gathered everyone for dinner but we were waiting for Anthony. Someone spotted him out the window and called the rest of us over to see him. There was Anthony on the platform of our large wooden play structure, wearing his usual uniform consisting of a black cape, black barn boots and grey felt hat, engaged in a fierce sword fight with an imaginary enemy. Suddenly he clutched his chest and staggered over to lean on the railing. Then rallying his draining energy and stamina, he suddenly rose up and with a courageous flourish thrust his sword into his evil opponent and collapsed in exhaustion and agony.
We were all delighted with his imaginary drama.
Children need free, unstructured time to let their imaginations fly.
This can only happen if we refuse to allow our own fears to burden our children and if we give them the time and space to simply be children.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Happy Canada Day, eh?

Maclean's Magazine published a Canada vs. America issue proclaiming "99 Reasons Why it's Better to Be Canadian: We're happier, fitter and richer and our kids are smarter too." You can read all the statistics in a July 8, 2013, edition of Maclean's.

Of course, I read this issue with glee. I am not competitive in my personal life, choosing to also praise and exhort others, but I have an ingrained, historically rooted compulsion to challenge the powerful country to the south of me. Perhaps it is a David and Goliath syndrome. Here is a list of why I love Canada. Some of  the stats come from Maclean's.
As Canada Day celebrates its 148th birthday, I celebrate Canada's triumphs. Next to the United States we might seem insignificant but remember,  looks are deceiving.

Lyrics O Canada (English version)

O Canada!Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
We are more popular than Americans; wearing a maple leaf on your backpack means people treat you well in other countries.
We say, "eh" at the end of sentences. This is a word which reaches out in agreement while the American word huh tacked on sentences sounds like the speaker is a dimwitted.
                                                                                                              capital hill
Canada has one square kilometre of land for every three people
We are funnier; many comedians are Canadian such as Wayne and Schuster, Lorne Michaels, John Candy, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Catherine O'Hara, Seth Rogen Jay Baruchel, Michael Cera....
Our banks are better- 4 of the top ten in the world are Canadian, the top U.S. bank is ranked 9th- the Citigroup
For our population, we break more Guinness world records.
Our government does not kill people; capital punishment was abolished in 1776 and no one has been executed since 1961. The States has 3,125 prisoners on death row.
Maple syrup
We are more fit with 35.9 Americans are obese and only 24.5 OF Canadians are overweight.
We live longer- an average of 3 years longer than Americans
Americans always make fun of us because we are polite; we always say. "I'm sorry" but researchers at the University of Waterloo say good manners boost happiness. Apologizing to the police for speeding results in an average drop of $51 in fines.
The wilderness -- we still have lots of it.
Our lobster tastes better.

Our roads are safer.
Fewer homicides per person and mass murders are rare
Our national animal, the beaver, is industrious and rugged
The salmon run
We lead in quantum computing.
Our judges are appointed not voted in.
We can read the cereal box and road signs in two different languages.
                                                    the east coast- the Maritimes
There is a whole T.V. channel dedicated to politicians bickering.
Place Names that come from Aboriginal languages
We have better skiing with more ski trails, longer runs and more snow on Canada's Whistler Mountain compared to America's Vail
We dominate hockey; it is Canada's game
We get more paid holidays. 23% of Americans get no paid time off. ALL Canadian workers get at least 2 weeks paid vacation + 9 paid public holidays
Newfies - I love their accent and sense of humour. They are the salt of the earth
The north is a land of untouched beauty
Easy geography classes: we only have ten provinces and three territories
Excellent education system; our 15 year-olds score in the top 10 of 65 countries. American kids are #17.
Northwest Territories
Lots of immigrants -- this is the place people from all over the world want to come to!
Our Government apologizes for past mistakes!
The Queen and other Royals visit us
Our corporate taxes are lower
An almost peaceful history
Intelligent population
When spring comes, we appreciate it
We know how to make good, strong, HOT tea
The weather is a legitimate topic of conversation and we ALWAYS talk about the weather
Coffee Crisp ... Only available in Canada!
the Rocky Mountains in the West
Affordable university tuition
Lots of fresh water!
We're less pushy than some other countries
We let everyone come here, and do their thing. Even if they wouldn't do the same for us.
Ketchup chips ... only in Canada.
Moose, Elk, Deer
Brown Bears, Polar Bears
So many rivers and lakes- I live in South- Eastern Ontario which is called the land of a thousand islands.
Great fishing, especially indownload (4) fly-in camps up north
Majestic mountains
We have coasts on three oceans
Second largest country in the world
Largest prosperous country in the world
Aboriginal people who have fought in all the wars, with an astounding war record
Official recognition of rights of Aboriginal Nations embedded in our national constitution
No one ever won between the French and the English: we just compromised!
Every landscape imaginable, all in one magnificent country
Enormous National Parks
Anne of Green Gables
Lots of hockey rinks, great outdoor skating rinks in almost every village, town and city. We even have one and our population isn't even posted
Car heaters that plug-in when it's cold. Even store parking lots provide plug-ins
Icicles- some extend for 3 to 4 feet from our roof.
Skating and hot chocolate
Beaver Tails224834a50d6cd49cc0b64dd74a46c988
The longest skating rink in the world on Ottawa's canal
Sound of crickets
The sound of Canada Geese flying back from their holiday in the South
We spell colour and neighbourhood the right way
We are proud of our British roots
Aurora Borealis called the Northern Lights.
We love to make fun of ourselves
We love to make fun of people who don't know anything about us, especially Americans
Terry Fox was one of us
Gordon Lightfoot
Lenard Cohen
Arctic Rangers
The change of seasons
Incredible beauty
The tundra
Best opera house in North America is Toronto's Four seasons Centre built by Jack Diamond who built Mariinsky 11 theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia by invitation of Valery Gergiev
TIM HORTON'S makes the best coffee