My Mind is Blown! (A “Blogging Wallflower’s” Review)

Okay, my dear friends and followers, here’s the scoop. I feel like I am a bit overloaded with this new learning adventure. It has been quite the roller coaster ride, taming this technology thing. I now see random things and think… oooh, I should snap a photo for the blog… or how could I write about that?! I go to bed dreaming of post topics and thinking of ways to increase my followers. Did you know that every magazine you read in the dentist’s office has some teeny, tiny printed stuff in the beginning that lists who to contact in case you want to write them?! It’s like finding the hidden pictures in one of those puzzle books — and I am making lists! I’m afraid I kinda get like this when I take on a new project. Jump in with both feet and discover it consumes me. Only I’m super loving it ! What started out as a whim… has become a new passion! My family is devastated. Rolling their eyes with the knowledge that mom is excited about another adventure. *Ack*

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Come join me on this adventure! (Photo: Pexels)

That being said, this post is going to be relatively short and to the point. Partially because I am packing for a big scrapbooking retreat this weekend and won’t have much time for editing (yeah! clap my hands! for crafting all weekend with no dishes to do!) and partially because I still have no great insights. My mind is blown at how vast this world wide web blogging community is and how vast the diversity is among us. I have only scratched the surface. Barely a dent in this huge monstrosity. I am going to need a lot of help. Help to learn this “thing”, and help to keep me balanced as mom, wife and friend.

Admittedly, I am not social. I’m not good at connecting with others. I have not learned to articulate my words well verbally. I build up walls often, and don’t say what I think… or at least what I say doesn’t always come out the way I want it to.

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I am much better in black and white. I am a “texter”, not a phone caller. I read about another blogger that refers to herself as a “wallflower blogger”. That’s me. Hiding in the shadows a bit, blooming, but not showing off in all my brilliance in the middle of the meadow. Perhaps this is why blogging has become a new and exciting thing. It is giving me boldness. A bit of anonymity to share things without really knowing who may hear it. Hopefully, this is a good thing. I am learning to be <a href="http://Authentic“>authentic, honest and trustworthy. My intention is to challenge and inspire. This includes my bible based references and faith. It is an important part of me that connects with the “rest of me”. I trust my readers will respect that.

So. It’s been almost 3 full months since I launched mittonmusings. Consider this my “new job” probationary review. I am learning all kinds of marketing strategies, new techno lingo, connected with other bloggers, and have challenged myself on so many new fronts. I am still learning and hope to grow even more. I am thankful for the few of you who have boosted me by being instant followers. Would you consider helping me by sharing? I’m not sure how God might use this platform yet, but am excited to see what the future holds! (I am working on some new and exciting things…. )

Want to encourage me? If you are just visiting, please follow me! If you’ve already decided you like my muses, please Share my link with your friends! If you want to learn with me, sign up and follow me on my social sites. (Trust me, this techno thing is not as hard as you think) Do you see those little icon things? Up at the top of the page…. hmmmn ….wish I knew how to make an arrow in HTML code…. Those are the ways blogging wallflowers like me make friends ūüôā Or — simply drop me a note on my contact page! I promise to write back!2
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Science Fairs are Fabulous!

I have a fondness for fairs — especially a good science fair.¬† I loved them as a student, and I love them now!¬† There’s something about all that genius in one room that invigorates my senses! I’m not much of a physicist, so life science projects float my boat, but a good model is always an eye-catcher.¬† Even if it is made of cardboard toilet paper rolls and scotch tape.¬† Recently, two of the younger folks at our house participated in their respected school’s science fairs.¬† Here’s my little muse about the results.

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Photo: Andrew Jay

I don’t know about yours, but my kids are kinda the last-minute-mom-it’s-due-tomorrow students.¬† Many a times I am running to the 24 hour Wal-Mart in search of bristle board! So, I have a book called “Help! My Science Project is Due Tomorrow” for just such an occasion.¬† It is great for some simple, yet thought-provoking projects for the kids.¬† This and Pinterest are my best friends.¬† The youngest, strong-willed one, decided she was doing a project on Chromatography.¬† She liked the fact that she could play with markers and colour.¬† Chromatography is “…the separation of parts of a mixture…” in its simplest terms, and this particular fun project is to see what colours are separated out of single coloured markers.¬† She decided to tackle her discoveries with a friend and the results were super!¬† The write up was complete; now to put together the display board.¬† Did I mention she was the strong-willed one?¬† Those glue stick wielding kids slapped those print outs on the board so fast they forgot to pay attention to the scientific order of such project. *sigh*¬† My “slightly-controlling-freak-out-science-fair-project-junkie-self” took over for just a moment but — I smiled — breathed — and suggested we carefully peel off the print outs and start again.¬† Maybe with some pretty coloured matting this time?! And a title!? Her grade level doesn’t move on at her school, but her and her partner proudly displayed their (slightly gluey) board in the gym and nobly collected their participation ribbons.

Her slightly quieter and more methodical older brother, proceeded to complete his project at a friend’s house with ne’er a notice to his science fair loving mom.¬† The nerve!¬† They completed a wonderful prototype model of a Concussion Measuring Helmet.¬† (Coming soon for a $499.99 price tag).¬† Did I mention he’s into sports?!¬† His school chose to organize their fair under the premise of “product pitches”.¬† Despite the fact that they had no parental influences,¬† I am pleased to say that the two sports buddies were asked to display their project at a local university’s “Innovation Science Fair for Young Inventors”.¬† My son pleaded with his mom not to go.¬† Ahem.

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One of the super things I love about science — especially kids and students doing science — is it is just magical enough to ignite¬†that love of learning.¬† Why are erupting volcanoes so popular at science fairs? Duh… it’s because volcanoes EXPLODE and you get to make a huge mess in your mom’s kitchen because it is “for school”.¬† It’s hands on and it’s investigative and bonus: it teaches you something!¬† What could be cooler than that?!¬† Another thing about the great discipline of science in our world is that it is so diverse.¬† We have life science, engineering, micro, macro, space, technology, math… and the list goes on.¬† Just about any topic you choose can somehow be related back to science.¬† One of the top projects at our school this year was about bananas.¬† Bananas! Did you know there are a variety of ways to store different types of bananas?! This is science fair at its greatest, my friends!

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Besides the spark of ingenuity and diversity of the great competition, science fairs often spark connections.¬† Parents often work together with their children on projects.¬† As much as I have heard complaints of “that so and so parent did that child’s project” (which I certainly don’t condone!) it is usually a project that needs to be completed with some guidance and over time at home.¬† A perfect excuse to be involved in your child’s education! These connections sometimes put children on a career path that they may never have thought of before doing their research.¬† Could a visit from a real scientist encourage a child to become the next great surgeon or astronaut?¬† Could they be the one to embark on an epic journey or discover a new cure for the world at large? Absolutely.¬† Even if they are not the next Albert Einstein, some kids will become part of a great team of professionals and bring their expertise to their work.¬† I love how the Bible’s description of Ezra’s journey in Ezra chapter 8 includes “learned men“.¬† This was an epic journey to fulfill a religious duty, and yet Ezra brings learned men (I am sure a scientist or two!) to round out the collection of priests, musicians, scribes etc.¬† Even the Magi of the Christmas story were astronomers!¬† Despite our backgrounds and diverse beliefs, science often rounds out our discussions and strengthens our faith through discovery and collaboration.

Alas, maybe you are not like me.¬† Maybe you dread the science fair and all it brings.¬† No worries, my dearest reader, here are five fun resources to make connections with, to learn from, and to make your next science fair project the best one ever! (oh… but don’t forget to use pretty matting and put it in the right order!)

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Photos: KMitton and vlad-tchompalov(unsplash)

  1. ¬†Your local library or college/university fair.¬† These are great places to start.¬† Visit a competition and see what makes the grade and impresses the judges.¬† Find books — there are a tonne out there– that give you step by step instructions on completing a great project!
  2.   Television.  Call me old school, but I love Bill Nye the Science Guy.  Cable Channels like Discovery have shows like Myth Busters and Shark Week.  Our local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) have great shows that spark imagination in kids.  Talk and news specials too. Just remember to watch with your kids.  Make appropriate connections.
  3. Professionals.  Do you know a doctor, astronaut, engineer?  Take a kid to work day may be a great option.  Ask the teacher!  They know! Get those high schoolers ready for the real world and workplaces.  Participate in a live project!
  4. Charities.¬† I love Scientists in School.¬† Often they are the first exposure to a real scientist that kids have.¬† Their workshops provide lots of resources to ignite that creativity in the little ones! Edutopia also seems like a really great resource in collaboration with the George Lucas Educational Foundation… and who knows science better than the Star Wars guy?!
  5. The great internet!¬† I would have loved access to the internet back in the days when I had to create my projects.¬† Homeschooling moms, true scientists, educators and authors have lots to share on Pinterest and other places.¬† Don’t worry, your kids already have googled ” super gross experiments” and have their top 5 list for you.¬† Word to the wise though… filter filter filter!

 

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Why are there Hockey Sticks in My Shower?

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We “Do Hockey” at our house, but I am so not a hockey mom.

Tonight is hockey finals for three out of four Mitton kids who play diligently on Friday nights.¬† The last night of the season! I cannot say that I am disappointed.¬† Now, please note, we¬†“do hockey” at our house.¬† NHL.com is book marked and regularly read on our computer.¬† My boys know the stats of all their favourite stars, their celebrity crushes, and what they ate for breakfast.¬† My very own grandmother was known to shout at the television set during a particularly good play.¬† My youngest daughter was eager to show up the boys with her newly learned skating skills and isn’t afraid of a good slap shot.¬† We play year round… on ice in the winter and on the street all summer.¬† We even held our own Stanley cup playoffs and had a trophy presentation complete with the kisses of the piggy-bank-turned-ultimate-prize.¬† In spite of the fact that I own a book called “50 Things to Make with a Broken Hockey Stick”…. I am so not a hockey mom.

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Check out our Pinterest Board for more hockey goodies.

I enjoy watching my kids excel at anything.¬† I try and encourage them and strengthen their confidence by attending any activity they choose.¬† I do not, however, revel in freezing my tush-y off, huddled around a coffee cup and spending hours on end in slightly dank and dingy arenas trying to keep warm.¬† Okay, most hockey moms will say the same… they don’t like the chill of the arena and dealing with the ever growing pile of equipment and endless trips to the skate sharpening guy.¬† I have heard many a hockey mom complain that their teenager’s equipment could get up and walk away on it’s own –it stinks so bad.¬† I shudder at the microbe population taking up residence in my mini van!¬† I have heard this from many a hockey wife, too!¬† Currently, there are no less than 5 giant hockey bags in my basement… and a stack of hockey sticks in my shower?! I do not understand this. Only 3 of my kids play.

 

But you are¬†Canadian they say … you are supposed to love “The good ol’ hockey game¬†“/Stompin’ Tom and all that.¬† It’s in your blood, they say.¬† We have Tim Horton’s for goodness’ sake!¬† ¬†Sorry.¬† It’s not my thing.¬† For many families in Canada, it certainly IS a thing!¬† According to CBC news, the estimated total cost to a Canadian family with one child playing in minor hockey at the triple A level (the highest caliber in the minors) is between $8000-$15000 annually.¬† One kid.¬† I have four.¬† And a husband and a few pets.¬† As much as my eldest son would love to play AAA (and he could too… he’s got some skill!) we had to make the decision that our family simply could not balance everyone’s individual activities at such a level.¬† So I muse again,¬†why?

I will fully admit that I am not a sport lover… I was that kid who took Saturday morning art classes and hated swimming lessons. I really am not that hockey mom who shines at the competitiveness of it all and works herself up into a fan frenzy.¬† From what I observe, competitive sports does something to people. Often it is magnified ten fold when we see it ignited in our kids.

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Sports creates an outlet for some kids (Photo: KMitton)

¬† The fact that all of us seek acceptance and affirmation often perpetuates the game.¬† We want to be good at what we do.¬† We aim for the prize because it provides us with the recognition that we crave so badly.¬† Sports creates an outlet for some kids who may not be the “academic one” in school… but man, can they skate.¬† (Yes, Art is another outlet, no worries my fellow Saturday morning art class alumni).¬† ¬†But the game of hockey drives many a feisty creature to a new level of purpose.¬† There is a new movie coming out soon, produced by Clint Eastwood, called “Indian Horse”…based on a true story of a young man who’s escape from tragedy was yup, you guessed it, hockey.¬† I haven’t seen it yet, but it marks the story emphasized by so many players… hockey gives them something to escape to.¬† Something to excel at, to revel in.

Often it is not about winning… I can pretty much guarantee we are not going to be first place at finals tonight.¬† To me, it is about playing the game well.¬† 2 Timothy 2 reminds us that we are to stand approved by our character and integrity.¬† I expect my boys, especially, but all of my children to play the game with strength, purpose and by competing according to the rules.¬† ¬†They are allowed to be disappointed.¬† They are allowed to be angry at a play, call or loss of game.¬† They are allowed to fail and not get the winning goal. Or any goal.¬† They are not allowed to cop an attitude about it.

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Hockey moms rejoice.¬† Not-so-hockey-moms take notes.¬† Those smelly hockey bags may prove to be a life lesson.¬† Sometimes you get hit up against the boards.¬† Sometimes life is not fair.¬† Get up and try again. Do it with determination and learn from your mistakes. Practice your skill.¬† Aim for the trophy.¬† Remember that each player on the team has purpose. Being quarrelsome and resentful will get you no where.¬† Those frozen parents on the bench are there to coach, encourage, and help you grow.¬† Oh… and please learn to¬† store your sticks somewhere other than the shower.¬† You might need the shower after the game.chris-liverani-510543-unsplashnet


In light of the recent tragedy in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, where 15 lives were lost, and many others changed forever,¬† I encourage my readers to pray for the hockey moms who have lost their children.¬† I started writing this post before Friday’s events unfolded, and as much as I write a little tongue in cheek about competitive hockey, I recognize that the Broncos team is suffering greatly.¬† They would easily trade in all the stinky equipment and shower sticks for the return of their beloved family members. My heart is, again, reminded how hockey truly does impact so many of us; as parents, as family, as a nation.¬† God is in control and yet, He allows us to question why such tragedies happen.¬† I don’t know the answers either, but perhaps part of its purpose is to be encouraged and strengthened¬†by one another as we aim, with dignity, character, and team spirit, to reach the goal between the posts at the other end of the ice.

 

Why there should Never be Leftover Chocolate!

Photo MinA Pexels

Photo: MinA via Pexels

I love chocolate.¬† Milk.¬† Dark.¬† White.¬† Hot, cold, melted, stirred, mixed, non-GMO, organic or infused with orange essence!¬† I love it all.¬† This to the detriment of my hips, and to the disgrace of my healthy optioned hubby.¬† So with the arrival and passage of Easter this past weekend, the bedeviled stuff has arrived.¬† Now don’t get me wrong… I believe Easter should be celebrated with its true meaning… the resurrection of Christ and all the holiness and grace of His sacrifice for us.¬† But at our house, we indulge in the confections too.¬† According to my limited research, the egg (having been the pagan sign of fertility and new life) became associated with Easter somewhere between the 15th and 19th centuries.

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Easter should be celebrated with Christ’s sacrifice for us as its true focus (Photo credit: Jacob Meyer).

Most likely the Germans and/or the French were the first ones to create a hollowed out chocolate egg.¬† Then they filled it with sweets and distributed it among all the unsuspecting, innocent children. The children!(Personally, I think the Belgians make the best chocolate… but… whatever). Our taste buds have been hooked ever since. Currently, Cadbury World in Birmingham produces 1.5 million creme filled eggs a day.¬† Oh my heart be still!

So, this got me thinking…¬†why?¬†Why did I once buy a whole Costco-sized carton of Easter-creme eggs and store them for when I am having “one-of-those-days”?¬† Why do we love the melty stuff and drink in the “food of the gods” as our comfort cuppa?¬† Turns out chocolate is made up of some 380 chemical compounds that affect our brain chemistry.¬† The chemical substances in chocolate cause the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that signal us to feel — get this — “happy”.¬† A lucrative word.

Bear with me as my science mind takes over for a second and we research those chemicals for a bit.¬† Tryptophan.¬† It releases serotonin… a commonly known¬† “anti-depressant” making ya feel, well, no longer depressed.¬† Phenylethylamine.¬† An amphetamine releaser creating that excited, pleasurable high.¬† Theobromine.¬† Derived from the Greek word, “theobroma” meaning food of the gods.¬† A stimulant.¬† Anandamide.¬† Another “pleasure” producing chemical receptor named after the ancient Sanskrit word for bliss, joy or happiness.¬† No wonder chocolate bars are sold in drug stores!¬† Powerful stuff, people.

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Turns out chocolate is made up of 380 “happy” chemicals! (Photo credit: Jon Tyson)

Leaving aside the science for a moment, let’s go back to that happy thing.¬† For most of us… women especially… chocolate is a good, happy thing.¬† If it were the¬†only¬†thing that kept us going, though, Cadbury would be manufacturing a heck of a lot more than 1.5 million creme eggs a day.¬† ¬†Recently, my world has been bombarded with sadness.¬† We lost my beloved mother-in-law a few weeks ago.¬† A friend recently lost her husband in a quick and unrelenting battle with cancer.¬† I sobbed big, snotty sobs on my last day of work just last Monday.¬† The world is filled with UNHAPPY.¬† Even in biblical times, we see examples of folks who have had to deal with their own sadness and feelings of injustice.¬† Psalm 10 outlines David’s struggle to make sense of his own unhappy.¬† Why does it seem that everyone around us prospers while we are stuck struggling to keep our heads above water?¬† David concludes that God is still the master overseer.¬† A few chapters later, in Psalm 30, David dedicates the temple to God, recognizing that Christ is the true source of happiness.¬† Sorry, chocolate.

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Even 1.5 million chocolate eggs can’t make us truly joyful (Photo credit: Annie Spratt).

I’m not sure where you are on the happiness scale right now.¬† If you are like me, and are seeing some unhappy things in the world around you, be encouraged, my friend, to indulge a little.¬† Not only in that all that rich goodness of leftover Easter goodies (yes… that is permission to eat that whole bag of m&m’s), but be sure to share it with a friend.¬† One who points you in the direction of the true overseer of the “unhappy” and turns your sorrow into dancing.¬† There should never be leftover chocolate eggs in the house. Enrich the children in your life with yet, another Easter egg hunt.¬† Who says it should stop with only one long weekend? Encourage one another.¬† Connect. Turn those neurotransmitters on high with a cuppa melty, rich, heartfelt conversation.¬† Creamy hot cocoa optional.Blog1 - Page 015