Saturday, 28 April 2012

The 2012 modified family olympics

I recently purchased both a croquet set and a 3- in 1 volleyball/badmitton/tennis set. It came with a free mini table tennis set.

In order to introduce these games to the kids, i setup the family 2012 olympics. We will play each other in singles until a winner is declared. The modified rules are simple. One person serves and all the other has to do ro earn a point is return the volley. We play till 5 points.

What a blast! And a great intro to these fabulous games. We had to play inside, as it was raining, but still fun in the living room.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Electronics

So, we've finally had to tighten the control on the electronics. Instead of fairly free reign; ( they ask and then play till I drag them off) my kids now earn time on the electronics. They earn time. They can use that time on either the computer, ipad, or their nds's.

This bridges the gap I was having between their chores and earning that way, I think. I came up with a simple way to keep track. I used scrap paper and magnetic tape that I always have lying around.

Marking their names on the top pieces and marking the other colored papers with different timings, allows us to get fairly exacting results. Now I can reward them and keep track of it too!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Boys taking Ballet

For those mom's out there who are combating stereotyping of boys in ballet, I'd like to share a bit of research with you.  

The concept of professional athletes trading in their skates or sneakers for a pair of ballet slippers is not a new phenomenon. “A lot of hockey players and professional athletes have used ballet training to increase flexibility, strength and endurance,” Rusak says.
For instance, during the 2011 National Basketball Association lockout, forward Michael Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves decided to skip the bar, instead taking to the barre, to help build a stronger, more limber body during the off-season, the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported last October.
Also on the list of professional athletes who once ditched their jerseys for leotards include former NFL players Lynn Swann, Herschel Walker and Barry Sanders.
Kilgour isn’t surprised that so many professional athletes have improved their physical abilities through ballet. While girls are taught the elegance of standing en pointe, using specially reinforced pointed ballet slippers, “boys don’t do that,” he said.



Boys who take Karate, Soccer, American Football, and Hockey,  can, and should, take ballet.  

Ballet improves balance, lateral movement, agility, footwork, coordination, timing, flexibility (which can also lead to injury prevention), leg and core strength


A list of famous men who take or took ballet..

Warren Sapp, Brett Favre, Matt Hasselbeck, Deuce McAllister. Willie Gault, Lynn Swann, Hershel Walker,

The ENTIRE South African national Soccer Team, Diego Maradona

Mikhail Baryshnikov


websites and links:





I'm putting together a 5 minute video of boys in ballet to show to my son's ballet class (full of girls).  His (and my) hope is that by showing them this video and talking to them a little bit, they can see that boys are not only an asset to ballet, but essential to it.  I also want them to understand that there are lots of reasons boys take ballet.  There is so much to be gained from it.  I'll post the you-tube link when it's finished.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The world we live in...

I have to be honest and say that I'm not sure that I like the world we live in.  I think that I should have been born in a much earlier time.  A time when honesty and integrity ruled the world and sex didn't.  A world when the US's western philosophy didn't dominate the rest of the world; and when being American meant something.

The world I see, the one we live in now, is harsh.  It's ruled by self centred people who believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong.  The US has gotten to a point where it's so sick of it's own self and the values that it's promoting that it's fighting back with the most conservative old school values available to them.  And those go back before sanity.  We can't go back to being pagans....  we can't go back to a time when slavery ruled, where there was no separation of church and state, and when women were repressed.  However, the conservatives of the country are fighting for some of those very things.  I do see their point, though.  I can see where we, as a country, have gotten so far down the path of egotism that we don't know how to turn around.
The problems in the US are far to many to just sweep under a rug any more.  We need urgent and decisive action.  However, we are a democracy, which, unfortunately, means that we won't get it.  To much talk, not enough action; because our democracy is unable to make and take decisions for the entire country.

Our greatest asset is also our largest weakness.  Our diversity which makes us great, makes us unable to satisfy enough of the majority to come to any permanent decisions.   Everyone wants autonomy.  Everyone wants their own freedoms; even when they clash with those that live near them.  We can't ALL have our cake and eat it too; but we seem to think we can.  Now look at us.

The rest of the world has slowly bent their ways to ours.  We have ruined their values and social structures, and then we applaud them for 'fitting in'.  We have become the school bully.

Hubby and I are trying to bring up two kids in this world.  We are trying not to expose them to too much adult behavior before their ready.  However, the sex and connotations in even the PG movies (which in my day an 8 year old could watch without problem!) are rampant.  When I can't drive down the street without seeing a SEX or giant condom ad (which my children can see and read) or even let them watch commercials on TV because they aren't censored appropriately; we have problems.  When I have to be careful of what I listen to on the radio because of the swearing and sexual connotations; and when I know that music videos are banned for their inappropriateness, something is wrong.  When did we become a society that relies so heavily on sex to feel safe and secure in who we are?  Why do we need to ooze it out of everything we do?  And if it's not sex, it's violence.

The only thing that those two things have in common is power.  Power in our sexuality, power in violence.  We are so scared of people taking away our feeling of power that we force it down everyone else's throats.  But when something happens right in front of us, we cower away, lower our eyes and hide in fear.  Suppose you were walking down the road and saw someone get their purse stolen.  Would you go after the bad guy?  Help the old lady out?  Most likely not.  Why?  What if......  What if he had a gun?  What if I died and my kids were left alone.  What if he got pissed and beat me up?  I don't know how to defend myself really...  What if... fear stops us from doing anything... from seeing.....

If we stop seeing those around us, we stop feeling empathy for them.  We stop thinking of them as people, but just beings that live near us.  We don't care about anyone but ourselves and ours.  We are becoming a numb society.  A society that is immune to the injustice done around the world.  I'm sure that video games have their place in the blame structure for our failing to connect with the world around us, but to be honest, I don't think it's as big a part as many seem to think that it is.  I blame fear.  I also blame the work ethic.  I know that sounds weird, but hear me out...

How many of us work 40 hour jobs?  How many of us actually work 40 hours in that job?  I don't even know a single BANKER that does.  60 and 70 hour weeks are the norm.  Who has time to connect with even your own spouse and children when you work that much?  When you get home from work all you want to do is veg, eat and sleep; all so that you can get up and go again.  Companies are about the $$, and the harder people work, the more the company makes.  They do not care to reinforce working hours; or make weekends off limits.  They do not care to make holidays and time away from the office off limits for work.  They infringe upon the little time people do have with their families.  They infringe upon our core lives.

So....  how do we fix the world we live in?  We begin by policing our own country first.  I am not against helping other people out of their problems with genocide and dictators; however, when our own people are starving in the streets; when our veterans can't get jobs, and we have gangs and violence at every turn; we have our own problems to attend to.

1 - bring our troops home.  Declare a moritorium on world policing, defend our own shores for now, and help out other countries only when necessary.  cut offensive spending and put that money to use for police forces in cities and areas that need it most.

2- provide incentives to companies to cut offshoring and bring our jobs home.

3- provide incentives to companies to hire veterans.

4 - hire good, qualified teachers (and provide the money to train good people to become teachers).  Drop this rubbish about alternative teaching and make sure that the people that are teaching our kids don't just know their material, but know how to TEACH KIDS.  It does make a difference.  Drop yearly standardized testing; keep the federal mandates and Common Core for now.  Have testing only for end elementary school, middle school, and high school.  Or perhaps 2, 6, 8, and 12.  Hold kids back that can't pass a form of the test.  No more leniency.  Make them learn.

4a.  PAY teachers more.  Make it honorable and desirable to be a teacher and the best will be.  Choose the top of the class, rather than the lowest of the classes to be teachers.  Other countries do it, and it works very well.  Lets try it ourselves!

5 - Follow suits from other countries that mandate maximum working hours and stick to them.  Provide incentives to companies who can show % of employees that get a full 2 days off a week; employees that actually TAKE their vacation days, and who get weekends off.  Encourage time off for kids plays, ball games, etc.  Allow for those times to be made up elsewhere.

6 - Enact rules that force sex product companies (including condoms) to advertise after 10 pm; to not advertise in open for small children to read and see.  Put ratings on music videos, like games and movies.  Be more strict with the ratings; seriously, PG should not contain sex scenes!  What kid under 13 SHOULD know anything about sex?  And if they do, should we really be exploiting that knowledge?  Really?

7 - make it profitable to be green.  Stop babying the issue and make some proper decisions on making the world a better place for our children.  Force companies to comply with green policies; stop making decisions that will hurt our Earth.  Choose to put the money issue aside and choose what's right; not what's cheapest.

8 - Here's my most controversial opinion....  free up prison space by  lethal injection those on death row.  If the system is working right, those on death row have irrefutable evidence that they are guilty AND they have done something so heinous that they deserve to be there.  So be done with it already.  Why are we letting them eat up tax dollars and space in the prisons, inciting riots and heaven knows what else when they are supposed to be gone?  It doesn't make sense to me.  By hanging onto them, we are saying that we are unsure of our data in the case, and if that is true, they shouldn't be on death row to begin with.

9 - Our legal system is supposed to be fairly black and white.  It's either right or it's wrong.  Something may look grey, but the system is supposed to decide after hearing all of the evidence one way and then the other. Let it work!  Judges need to stop being political, and start making right and wrong decisions.  Not decisions based on what will get them re-elected; but what will give them peace of mind that they have done the right thing.  If they do that, and sentence punishments that fit the crime; and force the guilty to serve the punishment; I truly believe that crime will slow down.  We need to stop letting everyone find loop holes in the law.  We need to stop rewarding crime.

I want to live in a world where I can help a stranger without fear.  Where I can trust that my kids are getting the best education that they can, with the best teachers available.  That justice will prevail should I have need of it.  I want to pass on a healthy, 'green' world to my children.  I want them to grow up slowly, not being harmed mentally, physically, or sexually by those that they trust with the innocence of childhood.  I want to know that they can watch t.v. in a friends house without my fear that they will be exposed to some funky thing on tv that they are not ready to see.  I want to stop living in a world where the squeaky wheel gets the oil, but one that is ruled with compassion, and equal fairness to all.  We need stop acting like children, demanding that everything be exactly the same (she got a toy, so I need one too!) and realize that equality for all is much simpler than that.  It's about keeping us all safe and allowing us be who we are as long as it doesn't compromise the safety of everyone else.  We are a community after all, even if we choose to ignore that fact.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Super Hero Birthday Party for my 6 year old!

Little Man is turning 6!!!  And he's really into super hero's.  Searches on the internet led me to some fabulous ideas for a Super hero training camp!  Luckily, I plan far in advance, so we were able to get cracking with this idea!

As usual, I combined lots of different ideas into something that works for us.  I took lots of ideas from the Birthday party ideas super hero page.  I ordered the images from Design Girl 007's ETSY shop.    I took the wording for the invitation from the 1st site and put it onto the background from her invitation.  I then overlayed some BIF, POW stuff and a cutout picture of my son in his superhero cape and mask.  (these were obviously printed without the designgirl007 on the logos that she created!  I just didn't want to give away her intellectual property. BTW: I paid for them.)


 Here's the invitation that I made...


 Each child, after choosing their superhero name, gets a certificate!

inside of the training manual

                 outside of the training manual



 The super hero training manual was a labor of love; it took forever to get it just right!  I printed it on A4 paper.  Each kid gets one when they get to the party.  It's their guide to get around the different activities.  They go to each station, and when they complete it, they get a sticker to put in their book.  When they are done with everything, they get to choose their name and get their certificate.  I wanted enough activities that 30- 6 year olds and 10 various other aged kids would be busy for the entire time (with lunch,bday cake and my surprise visit from Boy RIDDLER and his challenge included)
I was worried that because most of the tasks are pretty short, that we would run out.  So I included a few more on the inside of the manual (academy plus training, I called it) for those who finished early. I didn't want the kids to think that they didn't get their certificate if they didn't finish each of the things.

                                                                     Here are my stations.......... 
 if you use my idea, make sure to provide plenty of gold stars for them to put in their manuals to mark the completion of each task.

 I provided sheets, boxes, recyclable materials, and anything else I can find in a giant heap outside.  The kids had to work together to see if they could build a hideout worthy of a superhero!


For this station, we placed a plank on some bricks (hubby made it stable) and
placed the whole thing over a kiddie pool filled with red colored vinegar.  Just before the party,
we dumped in a bunch of baking soda so that it bubbled and looked awesome.  
The kids had to walk the plank without falling in! 

We put a large X with masking tape on the ground
and I put a few meter sticks next to them.  We had a jar full of circles with super hero logos on them
and had them do a standing jump , place their makers down and then measure the distance they jumped.

This table had a bunch of mind puzzles and guessing games.  My daughter wanted to have a far full of sweeties that the kids guessed how many (the closest one wins the jar)  We considered giving them a token for each completed task, and they could write their guess on the back of the tokens and submit them to see who won.  

For this, we made fake dumbells, (2 large styrofoam balls, a long dowel, black paint) and marked
them 100 Kilos each (if you live in the US, mark lbs.)  Make sure to take their photos here.

This is the obstacle course!  Have fun setting it up!  We saved up all the boxes in the house (deliveries, cereal boxes, etc) and spray painted them grey.  I printed out pictures of doors and windows from the internet and modge-poged them onto the boxes.  Then we set them all out in a series of complex roads and dams, pits, etc.  Little Lady's baby doll was the object to rescue.  

For this I printed out lots of villains faces from the internet, then provided 4 nerf water guns, and 100's of water balloons (weapon of choice) and the kids got to either shoot 1 gun till it was gone, or have 5 water balloons.  They they got to try shooting or throwing at the villain.  

For this, I took one of the buildings we made earlier and cut one side into a door.  I then taped objects inside the back part of it, and cut the door out in the middle (leaving a frame).  I taped wax paper to the door on the inside of the frame.  Just before the party, I put a LED light inside the building (so that the objects appeared as silhouettes) 

For this one, we setup 5 of the buildings we had made (see SAVE A CITIZEN) into rows
and had the kids jump over them.  



Other than the stations setup, I will  have a table with Capes and Masks on it.  The capes were cut out and sewn round with bias tape but had no logos.  I then provided all the logo materials cut out from sticky back felt.  The kids designed their own.  The masks were pre-made (by me) and in matching colors to the capes.  I had plenty of small felt shapes so I let the kids decorate their masks as well.  

I had 'a reporter'  taking pictures of all the kids doing their Super Hero Stances.  These were needed as the pictures with their super-hero names on it were going into a newspaper article (as the thank you card).  

Take home bags...

The kids take home their capes and masks.  They will received their certificates, a package of water balloons (for  shooting practice) and a green glow stick (marked kryptonite).  The balloons and the glow stick will be packaged in a paper bag (with handles) that I had glued the super hero academy logo on.  

THE VILLAIN....

At cake time, my daughter will  arrive on the scene in a "Girl Riddler" costume.  She will start with an evil laugh, and then say the following:

"While you superheros were focused on training, I was plotting my revenge!  I am the Girl Riddler!  Evil apprentice to Batman's nemesis The Riddler!  I have hidden six bombs here!  Find the six clues I have hidden around the camp to see if you can solve my riddle and save the day!  Only one of you has the power to diffuse the bombs, choose him wisely"

  (she hid 5 of them).  Then he walked over to the birthday boy and handed him the 6th card.  Then she ran around the house (to change out of his costume) and appear as a girl again.

The kids found the other 5 cards, and when they put them together, they formed a riddle
"What do you eat that is on fire, but covered with something that is cold?"  there was a picture of a birthday cake watermarked on the back.


The kids had to figure out that it was the birthday cake and that the birthday boy could diffuse them with his "Super breath!"

Thank you Cards

For the thank you cards, I printed the newspaper clipping that I designed on one side of paper and on the other side of the paper, I printed a coloring page of my son in his super hero outfit (same one from the invitation).  On the bottom of that side, he hand-wrote in his message starting with "Dear Super Friend...".  Each newspaper printed was personalized in that the photos of each child in their stance and lifting the dumbbells was on their thank you note.   

The Food

cupcakes with superhero logos (made out of fondant) on them...
fruit on a stick (in super hero colors)
I had melted chocolate into super hero ice cube trays and used those as table decorations
I also put colored ice into those trays later and served super hero ice cubes with water

Pictures of the actual party will come once it's taken place!  

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Spaghetti sticks!

We made spaghetti for dinner last night.  As we got to talking about it , I explained to my children that when I was little, I didn't bite the pasta to see if it was finished cooking; I threw it against the wall.  WHAT??  Yes! I threw it against the wall.  They were AGAST!  So I demonstrated.   Then.. they did!  
Oh what fun it is to throw pasta on the wall!  
Our masterpiece!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Smartphone idea for restaurants

So I was sitting in a restaurant with my amazing hubby the other night and an idea came to me.
I need someone to build me an iphone (or smartphone) app in conjunction with restaurants.  I think this is the way of the future...

So imagine that you walk into a restaurant and set your phone on the table.  Your phone links (maybe by bluetooth) to know what table number it's at, and who your server for the evening is.  Then you order your phone (including substitutions and exclusions) and since your phone has knowledge of what table your at, your server can just then bring it to you.

Since you order yourself and can change or substitute as allowed, the server won't get your order wrong.  You have to tick the box to make sure your order is correct and  (it will calculate the price for you) that you are willing to pay xx $$ for the meal + drinks, and then you submit it.

If you need your waiter, you can have a 'call server' button on your phone that alerts the server that they are needed and where they are needed at.

Hubby suggested that not everyone is going to want to download a restaurant specific app to their phone (that could get rather ridiculous; so why not one app, that you start and then within that app, you can choose which restaurant, and then which location (or perhaps the app knows once it connects via bluetooth)

What do you think?

Anyone wanna have a go at building it for me?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Mini marshmallow fights!

Needing something fun to do that involved getting fresh air and energy out, I handed 4 kids each a ziploc baggie with mini marshmallows inside and shooed them out to the paddock.
Little man climbed up on the fence thinking he was going to be safe....  not so much...
He got pelted from each of the others!  All those white specs are marshmallows!  I'm hoping the birds like them!  

The instrument practicing problem

My kids take piano lessons every saturday morning. They have been taking lessons for a few years now. Little lady has started learning for her grade 1 exam. She's good, as long as she practices.

That is the problem... Motivation to practice. They usually only do 1/2 hour once a week. I need them to find time to practice 1/2 hour each day!!!

Here is my solution! Lets see if it works!!!

I placed a flat cookie sheet against the wall on the back of the piano. I wrote 15 ( for minutes) on lots of sticky notes and put magnetic tape on the back of them. I then stuck them to the cookie sheet. 2 bowls -one each with their names on them, for the kids to put the sticky notes in when they have accomplished each 15 minute practice section.

There are 4 rounds to get to our goal of 1/2 hr each day. Round 1 is 7 -15 minute practices. Round 2 is 9, round 3 is 12 and round 4 is 14.

When they complete each round they get to choose a prize from the prize stash that I keep.

I am considering adding different colored sticky notes for 10 and 5 minute increments so that they realize ANY practice is better than none, and that a few minutes here and there can add up.

Lastly, If all works well with this, I might add in another for Little lady's Violin practice too!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hidden Chronicles

Ok... so I'm going to come out of the closet and admit that I'm ADDICTED to Hidden Chronicles, a Zynga game played on facebook and on their website.  I shouldn't be.... it's a HUGE time waster. It could be a money waster too, if I wasn't so adamant about not paying real money for imaginary things.  The problem with the game is that it FORCES you to either spend money or to enlist the help of all of your 'friends' playing the game in order to get further.

For those of you who don't know what the game is, it's like this:

You have a gift.  When you touch objects you can see scenes from it's past.  You can tell who it belonged to, and unravel mysteries about it.  You do this by finding hidden objects within scenes, and building and expanding your 'uncle's' estate.  You earn cash, coins, experience points, reputation points, and other things that you 'spend' to build buildings, etc.

I"m not the sort of person who normally likes these games.  I delete them off of my phone when the kids get into something so much that they ignore life.  I 'politely have words with' hubby when he engrosses to the point of obsession.  And now, here I am... the total hypocrite.

I'm so obsessed with this game, that I've had to set myself time limits.  No more than 1 hour each day...  (it's like email..  you want to check it constantly!)  I even created an alternate fb account to play with myself! (remember the enlist your friends thing?)  THEN... I discovered that you could add your fb id to a website for HC addicts and tons of people will befriend you!  HOLY MOLY!  I had 10 new neighbors and fb friends to boot from all over the world!

Ahem... didn't I say that I was only allowing myself to play for 1 hour each day?  Hm.. This might be harder than I thought!

So now I'm in a self enforced Hidden Chronicles Anonymous....  Wish me luck!  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Turkey!

The first week of Easter we took a family vacation to Turkey!  It was amazing and wonderful and beautiful.  The history in the place was so phenomenal that we literally felt it in our bones.  Even the kids were immersed in it.  Here are a few pictures from our trip.

These two pictures were taken outside of the Blue Mosque, across from the Aya Sofia.  


Inside of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

 The picture above and below were taken on a ride up and down the Bosphorous.  The kids were rolling around pretending to be porcupines!  
 We found a nice tourist to attempt a family shot!  
This was taken on a ferry boat on our way from Istanbul down to Cannakale.

 This photo and the next three were taken at the Ancient City of Troy.  
 The kids decided it was a good idea to stand on the rock ruins and pretend to be King and Queen of the world!  
 Little lady shows that she can hop amongst the ruins!

 Kids will play with anything!  A giant purple snail on the streets of Cannakale was blessed with their attention!


On the banks of the Aegean Sea in Canakkale.

 In Efes (the biblical city of Epheses!) we rode a horse and carriage to the top and then walked down.  
 The kids found animals everywhere we went.
 Sitting in the small amphitheatre in Efes.
 This time Little Man found the cat.
 Next it was Little Lady's turn.
On the road toward the Virgin Mary's house.

Me and my darlings outside Virgin Mary's house after lighting candles for the relatives that have gone before.

Little Lady standing in a tomb in Pumukkale.

At the Roman Gates in Pumukkale

On the travertines in Pumukkale

Little lady and I took our shoes and socks off and waded the waters on the white travertines in Pumukkale.

Daddy and his children in Pumukkale.

Did I say they found animals everywhere we went?  This wasn't the only puppies they found....

See the whole travel blog at www.mjgupta.blogspot.com  and take a look at all the photos from the trip!