Family Day, we hardly knew ye.

It’s Family Day in Ontario (and several other provinces). We live in Nova Scotia. I have two kids. Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been hearing a LOT about how today is Family Day all weekend because we have been watching CBC (Yay, Olympics!) and YTV – way more than on a typical weekend, because of the yucky weather – and they mentioned it quite a lot.

Now it’s Monday morning.

I’ll just let that sink in for a minute.

Yeah. That.

Thing 1 is in an uproar about how “everyone” else gets to stay home. Everyone? Really?

Even in Ontario (which is where the Things started school and therefore (contradictatorily) their introduction to the glory of the day off) not everyone has the day off. I saw someone refer to today in Ottawa as a “Half-Holiday”. Yes. Many people are working today.

Being the parent that I am, this led to a chat about exactly who has a holiday today. Telling me you don’t know is not helpful and doesn’t support your whining argument that you should be allowed to stay home. Find out!

So, Thing 1 wandered sloth-like towards the Mom CPU aka my beloved, awesome, perfect, old school, made of paper, calendar and was aghast to discover that “FIVE!!” places have a day off today. Never mind that one of the “places” is the United States of America celebrating President’s Day (not a Canadian province, but hey, they can hope). Four provinces are listed on February 17th as having a special day. Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, all celebrate Family Day and Manitoba observes Louis Riel Day.

Not exactly “everyone”, is it?

Poor Thing 1.

So what’s the big deal about Family Day anyway and why doesn’t everyone celebrate it? Why doesn’t Nova Scotia have a day off from school and/or work?

Well, the good news is that next year Nova Scotia will have a February holiday. It was decided, but you know, we need a whole year to prepare for the shock of a day off for just nothing. We wouldn’t want to implement it right away. That would be too much. MY GOD! Think of the children!!

So, we have a whole year to prepare for the third Monday in February, 2015. There will be a name the holiday contest and I just heard on the news that the very first to-be-named-February observance will honour Viola Desmond. You know who she is, right? I hope so! If not you should make a point of learning who she is. I’ll give you a hint. February is designated as a very special month each year for a particular aspect of our history. No. Not Valentine’s Day. No. Not the Olympics. Something much more important than either of those.

February is Black History month! That’s your hint. Go find out!

Friday Family Fun Night: Olympic Pizza Edition

We have a tradition at Chez Peady. To be truthful, we have many, but Friday Family Fun Night has been a part of our family, practically since we became a family.

It may have started with a frazzled, hormonally charged “I am a failure as a mother and therefore as a human being!”, but I assure you it has evolved into a lovely family tradition over the years.

Friday Family Fun Night can be anything that works for your family at the end of a busy week. We have, on occasion, even moved FFFN to Saturday to assure a more relaxed experience. I know we can’t be the only set of parents, come Friday, who would really just prefer to crawl into bed and zonk out until the light of day. We are not alone, right? RIGHT?! I didn’t think so.

We tend to change up our FFFN activities on a regular basis so that it doesn’t just start to feel like yet another obligatory “scheduled something” that we have to do. That being said there is one component that seems to have rooted itself deeply into our Friday night plans. Can you guess what it is? No. Guess again! No. Guess again! It’s PIZZA!

(You really should have gotten that sooner. I mean it’s right there in the title of this post. We have to work on your reading detective skills.)

Pizza always plays a part and on a Friday night there is NOTHING easier or more appreciated than a delicious, cheesy pizza. Wait. When you are a kid, there kind of is – it’s making your very own pizza! The Things are pretty creative and over the years we have had a myriad of pizza themes and shapes. From faces to animals to the Death Star and many things in between.

I know that, traditionally, today is a day for hearts, but that would have been cliché and besides with all the Olympic *love* we are seeing and hearing about, tonight’s theme was obvious. We would make an Olympic themed pie. Specifically, we would make the Olympic Flag. And we did!

It was easy and delicious, as usual, but it also fit in perfectly with our Canadian pride (Go, Canada, Go!) and like other MYO Pizza nights the activity is built right into making the meal. How fun is that? I think it’s great because no one is ever waiting around for dinner. They are actively taking part in the preparation, learning new things, making decisions, talking to each other, laughing and having fun. (Speaking of activity, while the pizza was cooking there was a pretty heated game of “Horse” happening between Daddy-O and the Things. I highly recommend those over-the-door basketball hoops.)

This time we really had to think about what kinds of toppings we could use to make those iconic Olympic Rings. We needed blue, black, red, yellow and green. Some toppings popped immediately into our minds. Green peppers and tomatoes seemed obvious choices for green and red.  Three out of four diners enjoy green peppers and tomatoes on their pizza, too, so that was a done deal. It took only a second more to come up with pineapple, which everyone enjoys, for yellow. Great! Thing 1 then had a “Eureka!” moment and shouted “Black Beans are black!”. Terrific! Now blue. Blue was tricky. There was a rather lengthy discussion about which would be more disgusting on pizza: blueberries or blue cheese. Blue cheese won the prize for grossest topping because “it has mold!” and then there was further discussion about the fact that all cheese has mold, but some molds are more scrumptious than others. (Thing debates are the best! I should really record one one of these days.) In the end, blueberries won their place in Olympic pizza history!

We think it turned out great. What do you think?

Green peppers, pineapple, tomatoes, black beans, blueberries. Yummy!
Thing 1 started with the black ring in the centre, so it would all be even. Logical! (Black beans are *actually* just really dark brown.)
Thing 2 added the blueberry ring and ate a LOT of blueberries in the process.
Almost done! What do you think? Doesn’t this look delicious?
Ta daa! An Olympic pizza.
Thing 1 approves of his blueberries and black beans.

Olympic Spirit: Go Canada Go!

Wow! What an amazing day for Canada’s Olympic athletes and Canadians at large!

Currently Canada has a total of 7 medals – 3 Gold (WOW!), 3 Silver (W00t!), 1 Bronze (Yippity biscuits!) and is tied with Netherlands and Norway for the most medals. That is a great start, wouldn’t you say?

With so much speculation leading up to (and political buzz surrounding) these Sochi games, I am glad that, so far, the athletes have been able to focus on their individual and team events (aside from some funny tweets, a few crazy bathroom photos, a trapped athlete and some judging rumours) without too much controversy.

We spent much of our weekend watching Olympic coverage on CBC (So thankful for the CBC!!) and talking about all the cool and interesting sports with our kids. Watching the Women’s Hockey Team on Saturday was a definite highlight of the weekend and I am so glad that Haley Wickenheiser is playing. She was the flag bearer for the opening ceremonies and is quite the amazing ambassador for Canada and sport. During one of the breaks in the coverage of the Canada vs. Switzerland game, they showed the most awesome clip of Haley Wickenheiser after the Canadian Gold medal win against the USA in Salt Lake City at the 2002 Winter Olympics. This quote has to win something! (Even if we’ll never really know the entire story behind it.)

The Americans had our flag on their floor in the dressing room and now I want know if they want us to sign it.

Whoa! I was amazed at how calm and pointed her question was. It, at once, raised her level of cool while pointing out a pretty awful example of sportsmanship on the parts of the American players. Nothing more needed to be said. She got her point across and her little dig in. I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge by now. Right?

Are you watching all the action from Sochi? Are you lucky enough to be there? Are the games making you feel extra pride for your country, homeland or heritage? Does seeing all the amazing athleticism make you want to go out and play more than usual? How are you using the Olympics to foster the joy of sport or activity with your kids and family?

Me? I got a Silver medal just for showing up today. Mondays are hard and Thing 2 is a very generous judge. Sure, I didn’t win Gold – that was reserved for Thing 2, but I received Silver, while Daddy-O only got Bronze, so, you know …  WINNING!

This is *my* Silver Medal. Not too shabby, eh?

You should know I am not competitive at all. Nope. Not one bit. Yup. *wink*

If you are interested in making some medals of your own (or with your kiddos) here is where Thing 2 got her templates. There are also some great activities and printables here, lots of good information here, and some good Canadian stuff here.

The LEGO Movie: A Mini {fig} Review

O-M-G-O-S-H! Go see “The LEGO Movie” as soon as you possibly can!

Seriously. It was BRICKTASTIC!

I wanted to spill all the details last Saturday (February 1st), which is when I got to see an advanced screening at Cineplex (on my Birthday, no less!) with my family, courtesy of a local radio station, a few sponsors AND our favourite local toy store, Brain Candy Toys, where I WON the tickets!

There is no joy like seeing a movie on a Saturday morning with your favourite people on your birthday! Popcorn for breakfast? Come on!! I was ecstatic.

We had BIG expectations and they were not only met, but exceeded. ALL your favourite Mini Figs were in there somewhere. (Assuming you have favourites. I mean, you have favourites, right? If not, we need to discuss this further, later though, I’m kind of in the middle of something here!) It was the perfect mix of “kid” movie and “retro” for the parents or adults who still just really love LEGO. I am not judging! I LOVE LEGO!

The actors who voiced the characters were perfection.  Yesterday on the radio one of the announcers was talking about it and she said “All the Wills are in there!”.  I had to laugh because she’s right. The LEGO Movie has three excellent Wills – Farrell, Forte & Arnet. Seriously. Perfection. There are a lot of familiar voices you will likely recognize, like Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother), Chris Pratt (Parks & Rec) and possibly my fav character 1980-Something Spaceman enthusiastically voiced by Charlie Day. Not to mention Morgan Freeman, who is perfectly cast as the “ancient and heroic wizard” Vitruvius.

This is what my LEGO dudes had to say:

Now LEGO of your smartphone or computer and go see “The LEGO Movie”. Today, even. I’m so confident that you will enjoy it – I *might* be willing to bet my Angry Scot on it! Och!

Let’s talk about sex, baby.

And by baby, I mean BABY!

Can it possibly be that my baby is ready to have the entire world of human sexuality laid out (Stop it. Be a grown up. Just for a few minutes. I beg of you!) in front of him to dissect and question and explore? Apparently, the answer to this question is yes. At least, according to our school board.

Oooh! So colourful and intriguing! No title. No one will even know what you are reading!

Education is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. However, assuming that every kid is ready for the same information pertaining to sexuality at the same time is no different than painting them all with the same curriculum brush in any other subject. Not every kid will be ready to process this information. Not every tween will be curious. Not every prepubescent student will even have a single question. On the other hand, many will have questions. Many will already know plenty. Some will know too much and not for nice reasons. Some will be even less ready than others. This is definitely an area where a parental preemptive strike is a very good idea.

“What’s happening to me?” (Usborne)

We live in a very confusing world. On the one hand, sexuality is splayed on every billboard and commercial for kids to see and decipher through their developing brains. On the other hand, we hear pop songs where the word “sex” is literally censored out so a blank space is left. Dangling. Mysterious. Dangerous. Why? Why is this very basic thing left blank? You know not one of us would be here without it, right? I mean unless one of you has experienced immaculate conception and has withheld this info, in which case I am, a) ticked off that you didn’t share, and b) I have questions, so don’t leave without seeing me. Poor Bruno Mars! He has been censored in the weirdest of ways. He has also had the phrase “throw my hand in my pants” censored and I swear to you as if I were there when he wrote it, he meant it in that “cozy” way. (You know, like Paul Buchman explained in that episode of Mad About You? Remember? No? Okay, you are just going to have to trust me. Not in some lewd reference to making himself “extra” happy, but I was not there, and I digress…)

The point is, that even if kids are sprinkled all along the developmental continuum – here, there and everywhere – in the end it is probably best that schools cover the topic of sexuality and all that it entails. There are plenty of parents who shockingly -even in this day and age- never talk about sex, sexual development, puberty, or sexuality. My poor Things. They have parents who are pretty much impervious to embarrassment. Sure, we may blush at a compliment or a funny jab, but when it comes to the topic of sex and the well being of our children we have nerves of steel. We will not be swayed. We are “the” source for “the” talk and I, quite frankly, wouldn’t have it any other way.

My tween might not have had any questions last week, but he certainly does now!

This is where Thing 1 is: “If you talk about it, that’s Oral Sex and now everyone is having it!” Direct quote from last night. Seriously.

So, we, the parents, have some explaining to do. Obviously.

Now, do you have any questions? If so, you ought to brush up on your human sexuality because, like it or not, the day will come when your little babies will be physiologically capable of creating little babies of their own. Wouldn’t you rather they are well equipped to handle that? Me, too!

Talk On!

Talk, it’s only talk

Arguments, agreements, advice, answers
Articulate announcements
It’s only talk

Talk, it’s only talk
Babble, burble, banter, bicker, bicker, bicker
Brouhaha, balderdash, ballyhoo
It’s only talk, back talk

Talk, talk, talk, it’s only talk
Comments, clichés, commentary, controversy
Chatter, chit-chat, chit-chat, chit-chat
Conversation, contradiction, criticism
It’s only talk, cheap talk

Talk, talk, it’s only talk
Debates, discussions
These are words with a D this time
Dialogue, dualogue, diatribe, dissention
Declamation, double talk, double talk

Talk, talk, it’s all talk
Too much talk, small talk
Talk that trash, expressions, editorials
Explanations, exclamations, enfadulations
It’s all talk, elephant talk, elephant talk, elephant talk

“What the heck was that?!”, you may be asking.  “All those words! That’s just weird.”, you might be thinking.  That’s okay.  You have a right to your thoughts and your words.

So many wonderful words.  Out they fly in a funky rhythm that brings me back to a time and place that usually makes me quite happy.  Brothers playing records loudly.  Parents remarkably tolerant of, nay, encouraging the teenage weirdness.

This is a song that I love.  Throughout my life I have gone back to it.  Again and again. At first as a little kid just trying to figure out what the heck they were even saying.  Looking up words in the dictionary to find their meaning and then finding the exercise only led to more words. (It’s a terrific vocabulary builder, wouldn’t you agree?)  Then as a Tween, (No one ever referred to us as “tweens” back then.  We were just big kids.) feeling rather cool that I liked King Crimson when most of my friends were falling head over heels for the latest boy band or pop star. (Not that I didn’t.  Remind me to tell you about the time Corey Hart touched my arm.  swoons)

Then later as a brooding Teenager filled with angst (behind that big happy grin, there were some deep thoughts) (FYI, there still are)  I started to really listen.  They were right!  It’s only talk.  Just words.  Everyone going on and on about everything all the time.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.  Make it STOP!  No one even cares anyway, so why are any of us even bothering to try to be heard?

Teenagers are not fully formed humans.  I know this.  Now.  Then, not so much.

It can be very scary to feel hopeless.  To be young and hopeless?  Downright terrifying.  Scary for the one feeling it.  Scary for the one who knows.  As brief as a flash of hopelessness can be, it can feel like forever.

Thankfully, I am loquacious by nature and never (really) stopped talking.  I had friends who understood me and supported me through our broody teen years. Oh yes!  Our broody teen years.  You see?  We were never really alone.  All we had to do was reach out.  Make eye contact and know that someone else knew exactly what you thought/meant/felt.

We shared music like our lives depended on it and guess what – sometimes, it did.

It didn’t fix everything, but it sure as heck didn’t break it, either.

I started with the lyrics of “Elephant Talk” because ultimately, even if it feels like it’s all just talk, it is important to keep talking.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you make perfect sense to someone, whether you can pinpoint a problem with perfection or feel confused and scared and are unable to speak with the precision of an “articulate announcement”.  Just keep talking.  Eventually you will find, your words find their target. You will find your people.  It will happen.  I know because I found my people.  The best part about growing older is that you tend to be able to locate your people with pretty excellent accuracy.

And hope? Hope floats. You will never find it on the ground. So get up. Then look up. You might not always see it, but trust me, it’s always there.

Talk on!

“Elephant Talk” was written by Belew, Adrian / Bruford, William Scott / Fripp, Robert / Levin, Anthony Charles.

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Read more: King Crimson – Elephant Talk Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Book ’em!

Today is Family Literacy Day in Canada. It’s one of my favourite days. We love books. We are a family of readers – even though some of us don’t have a lot of time and one of us is a reluctant reader – we are definitely a book loving, read-it-one-more-time, oh-please-just-one-more-story, I-promise-I’ll-go-to-sleep-after-this-chapter, kind of family.

It is a common occurrence for Thing 1 to read into the wee hours. He should be sleeping. He needs to be sleeping. We know this. Yet, the little solar powered, wind up radio/flashlight that he keeps with him when he “sleeps” is remarkably long lasting (way to go Lee Valley!) and how can we deny him that last chapter? No really. I’m asking! We are usually asleep. So it’s impossible, right?

Thing 2 is a reluctant reader. Don’t get me wrong – she loves books and having books read to her. She even likes reading with her brother or her friends at school, but she doesn’t have the undying need to unlock the code that leads to being a fully independent reader. It’s just not her style. Yet.

I am confident it will come. I see sparks and glimmers of it more and more these days. The Reading Detective with her spy glass and Sherlock Hemlock (Yes. Hemlock.) hat. The spending time with books surrounding her little body as she sits in her bed after school for some much needed and well deserved alone time. The excitement when she finds a new series to start at the library (Thea Stilton is her latest discovery.). The thrill of reading a book from start to finish. It’s happening. Slowly, but surely, it’s happening.

Actually, today was an exciting day for Thing 2. She got to participate in “Reader’s Theatre” as a part of her school’s Literacy Week celebrations and she was the narrator. Best of all, she came home very excited to tell me all about it and how they might get to perform for the Grade Fours. GRADE FOURS YOU GUYS! This is the Grade Two equivalent of Broadway!

Since today is Family Literacy Day, I thought it might be fun to ask my children what kinds of things families should do to encourage children to read. I was right. It was fun (for me). You can let me know if it was fun for you, but not right now. Right now I have some interviews to conduct.

Here are my questions:

1. When did you learn to read?

Thing 1: “Grade 1. I read a Geronimo Stilton book.”

Thing 2: “Senior Kindergarten. I read BOB books.”

2. How did learning to read make you feel?

Thing 1: “Pretty good. I was really excited when I finished reading.”

Thing 2: “Horrible! I didn’t want to learn how to read!”

3. What is your favourite thing about reading?

Thing 1: “That there are books about pretty much, almost, everything!”

Thing 2: “I like when I am reading a book and I’m right in the middle of it and I just have to get to the end.”

4. When is your favourite time of day to read?

Thing 1: “When I’m supposed to be sleeping.”

Thing 2: “Bedtime, because I get to snuggle you {Ed. Awww!} and read with you.”

5. What would you tell concerned parents to make them feel better about their child’s reading abilities?

Thing 1: “They’ll learn to read at their own pace and don’t read them, “See Sam. See Sam run. See Sam run around the track.”, books. Try reading them a little more interesting and bearable stories.”

Thing 2: “I would tell them just let them read a book and encourage them and just watch them grow in reading.”

6. What would you tell teachers to help them get their students excited about reading?

Thing 1: “I’d tell them to start reading books in class and let their kids choose what books they read and not say “I know you want to read this chapter book, and I know you can, but you haven’t passed the test for that book yet, so here read this it has three to four words. Have fun.”

Thing 2: “I would tell them that the child should have a little push and picture books and then they can grow into chapter books with no pictures and well, it will be funner for them.”

7. Do you think Family Literacy Day is important?

Thing 1: “Depends whether people actually read books on it or not. ‘Cause it’s not really Family Literacy Day unless you read. It’s even better when teachers do something with their classes. Like a special event.”

Thing 2: “Yes, because reading books is important, too!”

8. What is your all time favourite book?

Thing 1: “It’s not really a book its more of a series of books and I can’t decide between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.”

Thing 2: “Thea Stilton books because they are like Geronimo Stilton books, but – no offence Geronimo – they just have better adventures.”

Today is a good day to be just a little bit more mindful of how great it is to have access to so many books in a city with great libraries and bookstores

How are we spending Family Literacy Day? Pretty much the same way we spend every day. School and work. Dinner together. Just like everyday there will be lots of reading. Maybe tonight there will be an extra bedtime story – or ten.