The Search for the Perfect Photo Among the Cherry Blossoms

mittonmusingsIt was a most gorgeous weekend when the hubby and I went to visit a new (at least to us) tourist attraction in our city.  We journeyed with hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of other park goers to participate in the century-old Japanese tradition of Sakura Hanami, or cherry blossom flower viewing.  He was out to walk.  I was out for the perfect close up photo.  Both of us marveled at the shear number of people out enjoying the spring weather… and a little frustrated when we discovered that most of them drove.  Traffic was brutal.  Some quick prayers for patience and the perfect parking spot had us on our way.  We weren’t quite sure what we were looking for as we descended the steep steps and made our way to the interior of the park.  So far, the hubby was getting his workout wish. I was getting dirty feet and tired knees.

According to the “Sakura Project” websites, this tourist’s marvel came about when the Japanese ambassador to Canada, Toru-Hagiwara, presented 2000 Japanese Somei-Yoshino Sakurathe (cherry trees) to Toronto citizens on April 1, 1959 on behalf of the citizens of Tokyo, Japan as a gift for Toronto’s support of Japanese-Canadian refugees after the Second World War.  The city has added to those numbers, and now a grand display of God’s handiwork awaits the visitor who descends the hill.  It really is breath-taking.  Visions of royal weddings and Pride and Prejudice scenes are complimentary backdrops to the cherry blossom.  Romantic photos of girls in flowing dresses, bicycle rides and picnics with finger sandwiches and chilled champagne …well… you get it.  In Japanese culture, the cherry blossom tree represents the fragility and the beauty of life. The brief bloom period of the blossoms act as a reminder that life can be incredibly beautiful — but that it is also tragically short.  Wind and weather affect the blooming period as much as our trials and joys affect our lives. This is why the cherry blossom is used in so many Japanese items… stationary, dishes and special gifts.  It also accompanies many poems and paintings.  Perhaps a gentle reminder from our Maker as well?  I think so.

I wanted photographic bliss from this event.  I have been learning and playing with my camera and was hoping to get some good shots.  Alas, there are too many buttons on a camera.  Too many dials and never the right light.  Practice makes perfect, they say.  Tell that to my photo editing software.  *sigh* I will keep trying…  Here are a few of my favourites:CBCollectionsepia Cherry Blossom

So what can we learn from the cherry blossom? Besides the fact that we were happy to spend some time with just each other (flower gazing is not a family event– at least not without picnic lunches and lotsa snacks… and maybe a soccer ball and way less photo shoots).  We were also reminded that we need to make the most of our moments… because time is fleeting. This tiny, elegant flower only blooms for a short time.  Here… and then disappears.  It’s blooming season is easily affected by outside influences… rain, cold, wind.  The heartier varieties of cherry trees are the ones who don’t necessarily have pretty, ornamental blooms… but they produce the best fruit.  Maybe all that we do to get the most “pretty” The Perfect Photolook will only work for a short while.  I am astonished at how many beauty blogs are out there… the quest for the prettiest face is so real, my friends!  Perhaps the true fruit comes when we are well planted and are aware of the fact that we are fragile. The perfect photo doesn’t exist. Not even on Instagram. We have to practice and learn from others.  We have to descend the steps and walk a bit of life’s journey to see real beauty. We have to be patient with others.  We have to be kind to those who are fragile.  We have to recognize that outward appearances, although exceedingly beautiful at times, are not the final destination.  Our “blooming” is tragically short… and we need to make the most of it while we get a chance.

Mother’s Day Hoarding

forgetmenot2By the time you read this post, Mother’s Day (in Canada at least) will be over and the flower shops and restaurants will be filling their coffers with yet another year’s profits.  Teachers will be breathing a sigh of relief that their entire class of 27 six-year-olds managed not to kill off their forget-me-nots, which were sent home on Friday, delicately blooming in hand-painted pots destined for moms and grandmothers.  The “mommy-I made-it-all-by-myself breakfasts in bed” kitchens will once again be tidy and neat and the dose of antacid tablets will be taken to settle the fact that you actually ate that “mommy-I-made-it-all-by-myself” breakfast.  *gag*  The moms will smile and wink at the dads who managed a card and who dressed the kids for church and dinner so you could get two more full seconds of sleep on this “special day” (Trust me… little girl tights are not something dads should handle).  Oh… but friends, I promise you this:  We loved every minute of it!

Even now, as mom of two teens, a semi-adult, and an almost grown-up pre-teen, I still appreciate the grunt and nod of acknowledgement that is directed my way every once and awhile.  Come to think of it, I also still have to clean up the kitchen from the “mom-I-made-it-myself” messes.  Hmmn.  So, I muse:  Why?  Why do we, as moms, savour every glimmer of appreciation from our kids?  Why do we never forget a Mother’s Day, even as adults? I think because we were given this God given gift of connection the moment we weloveditheld those beloveds in our arms for the very first time.  According to some early-stage scientific research, we have things called “u-opioids” that are released in our brains when we are socially connected to someone… specifically our mothers.  It’s that whole bonding/proper imprinting thing that is exemplified by those little ducklings illustrated in classic children’s books.  Moms make us feel warm and fuzzy — so we connect — and are now willing to follow them into the water even though we have never swam with our newly hatched tail feathers before.  It’s already pre-wired in our brains.  (Reminds me of that post about chocolate.  In case you missed it, you can read about that here.)

I remember studying about Rhesus monkeys in animal behaviour — when removed from their mothers and isolated, the tiny monkeys clung to warm pieces of cloth in their cages… anything to help them feel safe.   Even the basic need for food was only used temporarily… the monkeys went back to the warm, safe feeling momma.

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It’s in our very nature to connect… especially to our moms. (Photo: via UoT research archives)

Not withstanding the controversies of animal research in the 1960’s, these studies certainly showed us something about our need for connection.  I’m sure it’s biological.  And spiritual. Or both.  How much more do complex humans struggle to connect and bond than our animal counterparts?  Our relationships are the key to our existence.  A God woven ticket into our complexities.  We are too fragile to exist without one another.  Every good Hollywood film or compelling book sets it’s protagonist in an entanglement of relationship woes — and we, as an audience, rejoice when they “live happily ever after”.

I don’t have any research to back it up, but I suspect that even moms who are not particularly close to their kids still hoard things that connect them to their children.  A picture, a note, a card.  Even estranged or adoption birth mothers reflect on the day of their child’s birth.  Just a little bit.  It’s really hard to ignore something that grew inside you for nine months.  I’m a die hard scrapbooker and have been since I was a child.  I collect every ticket stub, brochure and report card.  I have file folders for each one of my beloved offspring and a couple of random ones for the leftover stuff.  I am compelled to save these random trinkets — just in case.  Just in case I need to know that in grade 2 your sister got an 82 in English and was a “pleasure to have in our class”.  Seriously.  I have no idea why I keep these things.  I’m sure it has something to do with u-opioids.  Some inexplicable bond that keeps me connected to my kids and my kids to me — through random photos and sticky, wrinkled papers rescued from the bottoms of backpacks.  These things remind me of the experiences we have shared together — and so I hoard and pile them up as the kids grow into adulthood.

This was the first mother’s day without my sweet mother-in-law.  She was taken from us all too soon from the end stages of Alzheimer’s.  Even though her memories were clouded and her fragile body was fearful at times, the family rejoiced in glimmers of recognition at an old hymn, or at some pattern in the table that struck a chord with her somewhere back in the depths of her memories.  She loved to look at my family scrapbooks.  She’d point and smile, and you could tell something clicked.  This is why we keep these little bits of memorabilia.  Our humanness wants to connect.  We need to feel loved and nurtured.

So, if you are a young mom still struggling with sleepless nights and piles of laundry, I hate to tell you… not much changes.  We still have sleepless nights and laundry.  Only now we are awake because they are out past curfew.  And the laundry just stinks more.  But you learn to treasure the coloured mother’s day cards complete with sparkles that’s hoarded away in a folder.  Why?  Because they remind you of the times your little ones believed that you were all that mattered in the world, and they were willing to follow you into the pond water — no questions asked.  As they get older, your treasures become the Facebook likes on your posts,  or the “mom, how do you make that meatloaf I love?” texts. You even relish in the “Can you please wash these pants in time for tomorrow’s presentation?” just before midnight.  And when your mom needs to be the one who gets cared for, you rejoice that you have made the connection complete.  And you’ll smile when the time comes to clean out her closet after she is gone, and discover that she hoarded a few photos and mother’s day cards from you, too.

treasures

 

 

RAIN

It’s raining today.  That drizzly rain that just makes the whole day overcast and grey.  It’s clean-the-house-and-do-laundry-day and I am indoors scrubbing counters and finding Lost Socks  — so the rain hasn’t affected my plans much.  However, I’ve been thinking about the weather lately.  Maybe because we still have to take the snow tires off my van before they melt off in the current heatwave.  So much for spring; we jumped directly into summer here.   A few weeks ago we got iced over and had to dig out of more snow.  Yesterday, it was 25 degrees Celsius and we cursed the heat.  I guess this is why us Canadians talk about the weather so much… we can experience it all in a span of a week!  The rain is cool, though.  One minute drizzly and just “damp” like today… and then it can turn evil and dark and pound a beating into everything that lies beneath it’s path. The wind usually is a close partner with the rainstorm.  Many of our neighbours lost power this week, and some big, beautiful, old trees succumbed to the downpours.  My hubby licked his chops at all the free firewood that quickly became available.  It’s pretty amazing that with all our technology we still can’t totally harness the weather.  We need it to nourish our lands and produce our food.  Yet, it can wipe out crops and buildings in a flash flood.  Makes me muse:  God is truly in control.JessieRain

I learned a new word in preparing for this post.  A “pluviophile” is, according to the dictionary,  “a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.”  I might be one.  Thunderstorms don’t bother me either.  We are one of those crazy families who run out in the downpour, gets all soaking wet, and scares all the neighbours with our crazy hoots of laughter.  I have video proof of my boys doing just that.  No, I am not going to post it out of respect for my neighbours.  You can imagine it.  Three wildebeests splashing each other in the puddles like Max and his Wild Things, with no regard for the quiet character of our cul-de-sac.  Much more refined, (and thanks to a recent birthday) the girls and I now all have really cute and happy rubber boots — we will be fun “fashionistas” next storm.  Might show you that one on Instagram.  (I’m working on how to make those Instagram worthy pics like all the super-bloggers…. although I wish we had little ones still so they could have sharks or crocodiles or yellow duckies or something on their adorable little wellies… so cute they make these things now!  But I digress…)Rainboots

Besides the obvious story of Noah and the Ark… there are lots of references to rain and weird weather in the Bible.  It’s worth a search.  One that recently made me think a little, was Deuteronomy 28:12:  “The Lord will open up his heavenly storehouse so that the skies send rain on your land at the right time, and He will bless everything you do.”  Now, he’s talking to the Israelites and I’m not great at Old testament history and all their “blessings of everything they did” … so I am not going there.  The part that struck me was the “at the right time” blip.  Our lives are a journey of dry spells and some good soakings.  Deut28Rain comes at the right time… to nourish the land and cleanse it.  Spring is that rainy season that washes away the winter muck and brings us out again to meet our neighbours and taste and smell the “green”.  A little flowering wonderland happens after the rains.  We just have to wait for it.  Sometimes we are parched and dry and have to learn patience as we wait for the rain.  We worry and fret and wonder if all will ever work out like we plan.  Often, this is when we cry out to God and demand that He sends the rain again to quench our needs.  And He does… but in His time.

So, if you are a “pluviophile” like me and enjoy the peace of a rainy day, curled up with a great coffee and a book or some peaceful colouring, then remember that it is “at the right time” that you are there.  Enjoy your blessings and be thankful for them.  If you are patiently waiting for a good soaking and fretting a bit at the parched land you see around you right now, don’t fear my friends.  There is a great big God up there who is in control of the weather.  He’ll send some cooling rain soon.  And if you are in the middle of a scary, dark storm full of pounding rain that refuses to let go and you feel like you just might drown in it… grab some crazy friends and go hoot at the neighbours.  Wear your pretty polka-dot rubber boots.  God’s got it under control.AdiC.Rain


There are soo many great photos of rain!  And trust me, it’s hard to get some good shots of weather!  Today’s post contains only one of my own photos (the boots). The others were graciously loaned to me by two friends: Jessie Robins, a university student and new follower, and Adi C. a friend, blog supporter and great amateur photographer.  Blessings to you both!

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Charity on the Refrigerator

Does anyone else have a refrigerator covered in photos?  Those ones your ex-cousin’s- sister-in-law-once-removed gives you of their perfect family photo poised angelically by the Christmas tree? (Seriously! How many re-takes did that require?!) Or those magnets you get in the mail from all the realtors who are trying to buy your home and the pediatric dentist/walk in clinic that just opened up named “Mr. Smiles”?  Yup.  We have one of those fridges.  I still have those colourful magnet letters on the side… should one of my blessed offspring choose to practice their name.  (Note: my youngest kid is almost finished grade school and has been spelling her name for 8 years now with no troubles).  I love my fridge.  When friends come over they poke at the photos and comment on it.  “Hey!  How do you know these people?” or “Wow…who is that cutie?”  It’s my connection to the people I love.  I heard a speaker say once that God has a big fridge, too, with all our photos and crayon scribbled drawings on it — just because He loves us.  That thought makes me smile.fridge magnets

There are a couple of photos on my fridge that are kinda special, though.  They remind me to expand my love to not just my beloved friends and family… but also to the world at large.  One is a beautiful, dark-skinned newborn still all squeaky and fresh.   She (or he… I don’t even know!) is wearing one of my handmade, crocheted hats.  The hats were delivered via a visiting friend to an African hospital.  The photo makes me just wanna squeeze something.  The other photograph has now been replaced by a digital version delivered to my inbox.  It is of Shurjio, our sponsored child from Bangladesh.  He’s grown a bit since our first photo, but it makes me a proud “foster” momma.  I have never met either of these children, but something I did reached them… so they get a place on my fridge.  A connection to my heartstrings.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I am a super woman who pours my heart into charity and raises thousands of dollars to “save the world”.  Angelina Jolie I am not.  In fact, my heartstringphotosbetter half is much more aware of such issues and his empathy is usually the leading factor in our family donations to charity causes.  He was raised in a missionary family who served in a variety of places out there in the world — many members of which also have “prayer cards” stuck on our fridge to this day.  And so, by association, we share our resources diligently.

The purpose of this post is not to promote one charity mission or the other — it is simply a muse about some stuff that is on my to-do list, and close to my heart.  Some time ago, I read a book by Dr. Wess Stafford, one of the CEO’s of Compassion International, called “Too Small to Ignore”. He too, was a missionary kid growing up in a different culture and shares how his life was impacted by the world around him — so much so that in his adult years, he chose to  passionately make a change.  It’s an inspiring book that changed some of my thinking about sponsor children.  Our sponsor child happens to be with Compassion too… and they have some great resources for how to write letters and such to your sponsor child.  toosmallbookCheck out our Pinterest page if you want some great ideas for your family, school’s class or church group.   It’s on my to-do list to write to Shurjio… his birthday is coming up!! (We “picked” him because he shares the same birthday as my middle son).  I want him to know that some Canadian folks remember him, care about him, and want him to have a life deserving of all children.  Complete with school, hugs and some birthday wishes!

That being said, I truly recognize that not all charity should be directed overseas.  Our own neighbourhoods are filled with the poverty-stricken, the homeless, the helpless.  I applaud the many who do great work right here.  The blogging community is full of them, and my new adventure has connected me with a few new ones that I hope to stick on my fridge sometime soon.  So where do we start?  I read recently, that a according to a recent Angus Reid survey,  one-third of Canadians feel they should be “doing more”.  Tragedies like the Humboldt crash and their overwhelming GoFundMe page response, show that we are definitely trying.  More and more of us give “goats” and “soccer balls” at Christmas via charities. We recognize that we don’t need more stuff… we have plenty to share. Our next generations are so much more aware of their world’s needs and are full of justice seeking ideas.  My daughter’s fourth grade class recently raised enough money for a whole herd of goats.  A bunch of seven and eight years olds made an impact in their ever shrinking world!  Heaven smiles and sticks another photo up….

The skeptic in me wants to be sure, though.  I am not as quick with my cheque book as others.  I want to be sure that my funds are not being fueled into the pockets of those who don’t really need it.  There are lots of articles out there about those charities.  Do your research.  Learn about the work and the people who do it.  And then, if you are like me, and have a few photo cards up on your fridge, make sure you connect.  Take the time to build relationships with some kids you don’t know.  Whether they are down the street or across the ocean.  Kids and moms and dads are the same all over… we worry about the same things, and like to play the same games.  Me? I gotta find some stickers to send to a birthday boy in Bangladesh.  Maybe he will put his birthday card from Canada up on his fridge. 🙂

Refrigerator Charity Photo Samer Daboul

#1.  Do your research.  Pick a charity that uses their funds wisely and makes a difference to the people or things that really need it.

#2.  Be consistant.  Set up monthly payments or keep track.  Don’t commit and then give up on them.

#3.  Connect.  Write letters, fundraise, put some effort in.  Share your talents or gifts to create some unique masterpiece they can use to help.  It will make the cause more special to you. (Don’t forget to put that photo up on the fridge!)

#4.  Share.  If you love a charity, tell others about it.  In this day and age of social media, we have no excuses.

#5.  Pray.  I know so many people supported by this simple act of kindness.  Perhaps you don’t have the funds or are physically unable to walk or fundraise.  You have no idea how God will use your prayers to update the photos on His fridge!

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 🙂 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.

science fairs are fabulous
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.

Our Entries

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!

What should be your topic_

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.