Friday, November 30, 2012

Couple of rants and a rave or two

Well the Thanksgiving Holiday, or lack there of, came and went without any real consequence, the only  to note is that the Christmas Holiday Season is upon us. The exterior of the house is lit, simply because it has been rather warm and Tracy suggested that I get the lights up while the getting is good.

We have this light switch/ timer thing that is a royal pain in the ass. It seems that an electrical engineering degree is needed to operate the thing. The Christmas lights come on every morning promptly at 5:00 am and stay on until dusk at which time they no longer come on. Damn inconvenient if you want to  see the lights, I mean getting up at 5 am is for the birds. We have tried to disconnect the switch, reprogram it for different times all to no avail so if we want the lights on at night we have to manually use the switch that is on a timer, like I said PITA!

I have mentioned a couple of times about the driving situation here in Toronto. To prove my point I will paraphrase the local paper, if paraphrase doesn't work I will call it writers privilege:

A few weeks back it seems that a pedestrian was stuck by an unnamed vehicle, while the pedestrian, now at this point laying prone and unconscious, so technically no longer a pedestrian, was struck by another vehicle. The driver of the first vehicle left the scene while the driver of the second vehicle having noticed they  ran over " the pedestrian", remained at the scene, and called the police. The following statement is true, I mean you can't make stuff like this up: The police arriving on the scene ran over the " prone pedestrian", again, seriously.
 Wonder who they are going to charge and with what?

Kay was on a terror last week having to bake something nearly every waking moment. She was finally satiated when we made Pavlova, which is one of the hardest things to make specifically because you need patience, Kay is 9 need I say more. After having to restrain her I was able to get the egg whites to listen, God knows the kids don't! I will say that fortunately or unfortunately Kay has mastered the art of making homemade whipped cream. Which is a blessing I suppose because the cream doesn't last very long around here neither does the vanilla essence but who wants to be responsible for years of therapy because you denied the budding artist their medium, oops sorry I digress.

We are in the middle of labor disputes among the teachers union, the school board and the government of Ontario. The teachers are unhappy about a piece of legislation called Bill 115, which basically eliminates the teachers ability to negotiate, maybe Ontario legislators followed the case from Wisconsin a couple years back and figure hey why not! Well the kids in Jimmy's school seemingly have had enough of no extra circular activities and have decided to strike today. It appears they have launched a campaign via facebook, got to love social media and kids access to it, to  all meet by the 8 graders lunch area ( after lunch of course, who wants to strike on an empty stomach) and peacefully sit down to strike the lack of after school sports programs, and to be effective they have decided they will strike way after the bell rings!

Last piece of news to note our Mayor has been booted out of office because of a conflict of interest. He apparently used some city funds to pay for an event for his football team. Yep and when given the opportunity to repay the money and no harm no foul he said" It is the work of the left wing trying to get me out of office!" What? The ruling Judge had this to say about Mayor Ford :

“In my opinion, the respondent’s actions were characterized by ignorance of the law and a lack of diligence in securing professional advice, amounting to willful blindness,”

 On the bright side there is a bake sale at school today!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy Gottcha Day Kay!

Wow hard to believe that it has been 9 years since we travelled to Korea to meet and bring home Kay Marie Jeon Murphy, aka: The Pook-a-Rook!

Kay has been a blessing and continues to make sure we know that! She is a very headstrong, loving, demanding, loyal and persistent, sister, daughter, and friend. She continues to love all things non-girl, well except makeup and lip gloss. She is in the kitchen constantly creating new food concepts many of which are actually edible!

She is heavily involved in Gymnastics training and her first competitive meet is coming up early next Spring, YIKES.  She is currently working on the uneven bars and the transition/movements from the lower bar to the upper bar "just like in the Olympics Mom!" She is strong, flexible and fearless, a perfect combination for a gymnist but a ulcer in the making for us as parents

She is doing great thus far in school and has new friends, while missing her old ones, howevcer she is the best in the family dealing with change. She's always excited for a new challenge, adventure, food, experiment (her 2nd favorite thing to do outside our cooking/baking).

A HUGE thank you and loving thoughts to ALL the people that made it possible for Kay to be a part of our family.
Her birthparents, in particular her birth mom - what an impossible decision, to let someone else raise your child. We are FOREVER grateful ,thank god and they have a special place in our thoughts and prayers.

Her foster family, they loved her unconditionally with humor, grace and steadfastness for the 1st 4 months of her life. We are so grateful they gave her such a strong beginning. We know they fell in love with her and again, they have a special place in our hearts/life.

All the social workers, here and in Korea, that came before us to help smooth the way and then also worked with us directly to insure Kay was healthy, well taken care of, loved and cherished. You are our heros!!

Here are some favorite photos of Kay, in no particular order, from over the last 4 years.

Big big hugs to ALL these people!  Be sure to hug your family, its a treasure!  We love you Kay!!       

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Teacher Conferences

Its that time of year, the dreaded Teacher Conferences. I actually think Tom and I get more nervous about these than the kids do! This year was no exception. We were anxious and curious to hear how the kids were doing in school. We should have known....(cue menacing music)

Lets start at the top...

Jimmy - as you know, Jimmy needed to skip 5th grade, did not pass go, did not collect $200 and entered smack into grade 6 and middle school. Tom and I were worried about him academically but figured he'd be ok socially. Well, we were partly right. According to Mr Ianni (his homeroom and main teacher) Jimmy has easily slid into grade 6. He is very soical, friendly to everyone and has friends in every grade. This is (apparently) unusual as 6th graders are usually not confident enough to talk to the older students - not our Jimmy! He is keeping up well academically but is somewhat inconsistent. When he applies himself, he does really well (A's and B's) when he doesnt, well...he doesnt do well (go figure).  He talks non-stop and while he has curbed some of his interrupting in class, he asks a million questions and often gives the teacher advice. Mr Ianni had a hard talk with him about being distracting vs being a leader. Its up to Jimmy, he can go either way and now is the time to choose. He also needs to stop being so frustrated in gym class when other students arent as "committed" as he is. (put not so nicely, hes competitive and doesnt like it when people dont apply themselves whole heartedly to gym. Wait till he gets to high school!)

Mdme Doyle was up next, his French teacher. Given Jimmy declared at the beginning of the school year "I'm going to OWN French this year", it is his favorite class. His teacher raved about him, catching on quickly, helps others, has really creative ideas, is doing really well and excelling. She seems to love him. We had a long post conference talk about how does he act in her class vs Mr Ianni's ? can he apply some of that to his main classroom?  

After dinner he asked me, "how did you think that went?" I said, "it doesnt matter what I think, what do you think?"  J -  "Well...I think it went pretty good. There arent any new things I need to work on, no surprises and so I can just keep working on my behavior in class.  I might need to work harder at it but at least its not somehting new"  I think we are raising a perpetual optimist!

Kay - she also has adjusted really well to her new school. Her teacher says she's friends with everyone, doesnt have a "clique" but really plays with everyone. Ms Chung is somewhat surprised by this as most of these kids have been together since they were in pre-school and its a very tight knit community. She really eager and passionate to learn and isnt afraid of asking questions, getting up close and answering questions (even when she doesnt know the answer) Ms Chung loves that Kay isnt afraid of being wrong. She seems to be keeping pace with the ciriculum and is right in line with where she should be.  However, she is easily distracted and has a hard time staying focused. She needs to be redirected a number of times a day.  But, once reminded is (usually) pretty good.  You have seen in earlier posts that shes really active in class/school with reading at assembly and participating in the school songs and dances.

Billy - he's our Bill. He has some really good friends and loves everyone in class. He's a very good reader and good at math but has a hard time keeping his hands to himself. He likes to sit "right" next to people and hug them. He has an issue with personal space and is somewhat of a squirrel. Many times during a week she needs to move him to sit by himself or put him on a time out. Hes curious and loves what they are learning about (dinosaurs, math, reading, etc) Ms Cutz is VERY no nonsesnse and seems to be a really good teacher for Billy, structured and will push him hard.

So, overall, nothing we havent heard on each of them no matter the teacher or the school or the grade. I guess it just shows, we are who we are. I suspect that in their 1st job reviews they'll each get similar feedback. And, as our friends say ...Tom and I have the exact kids we should have. Nature vs Nuture, I ask you:)       

What I love is that they are curious, outgoing, agile, engaged and friendly to everyone. I wish they could monitor/pace out their behavior a bit more, but while it certainly drives me crazy (and their teacher too) I also think it'll serve them well as adults.

(Feel free to dig into the archives of this blog and read their former conferences, I think you'll find them erily similar)   

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veterans/Rememberance Day

Canada and the US share many holidays and one of them is remembering and recognizing our veterans. However, I would say, like Halloween, its a MUCH bigger deal up here. I have to wonder, in their role as peacekeepers and given their small armed forces, do they value it more than we do? Probably, which is sad but very telling of the culture of Canadians. Everyone buys and wears a red poppy of remembrance for the whole month of November.

At school, the kids were encouraged to bring in photos of family/friends that had served in the armed forces as well as donate to the poppy fund. Then, they had an all school assembly and the 4th and 5th grades were "in charge". They sang 2 songs (Free to be You and Me and Highway of Hero's). Each child wrote either a poem or a short essay on heroes.  They picked 3 kids from each grade (6 total) to read their work in front of the whole school. Kay's poem was chosen and I have to say...we are SO proud of her!  Her poem is beautiful, she practiced and did a great job reading it out loud.

The school has several parents that are in or part of the Canadian Armed Forces and one the Da\ds came dressed in his uniform and gave a very nice talk about remembrance and why it is important to remember. explaining tot he kids that sometimes remembering sometimes is painful but that should never stop us from remembering our Heroes.

To Veterans and those who have gone before us we say thank you!


Here is the written poem:

Monday, November 05, 2012

The 2012 Comfl Champs, North York Grizzlies!

While several hundreds thousand of our neighbors to the North and west of ( Minnesota) were taking to donning orange, trying to find their deer stand while remaining quiet, the Grizzlies were taking the field for the much anticipated final game.

The boys were only able to squeeze in one practice as the after effects of Sandy rained down here in Toronto causing cancellation of practice, basketball, Tae Kwon Do... However, surprisingly enough,  gymnastics took to the floor. Note to self, never mess with a gymnastic in inclement weather is on the line!

No matter practice or not, the Grizzly den was ready filled with a couple of dozen hyped up 10-12 year olds along with their parents and other fans. Tracy's co-workers made the journey to the game despite the $5.00 entry fee and the balmy 35 degree weather. The Canadian Anthem sung, the rosters read and each player acknowledged we were ready. The Grizzlies were the home team and Oshawa the visitors. The coin toss and customary hand shake between the Captains and the opposing coaching staff out pf the way it was time. The Grizzlies won the toss and elected to receive. The crowd was cheering on their perspective teams. The whistle blew and ball sailed all of about 35 yards, (mostly in the air) bounced into Maliks hands and he didn't stop until he crossed the goal line, Touchdown Grizzlies, the point's after were good! I say points after because in the Comfl they promote kicking and if you kick and make the kick you get 2 points, running or passing nets you 1.

The game progresses with the usual amount of drama. The people from Oshawa were upset by the enthusiasm our mascot showed and the left the stands to confront him, which ended peacefully but I will not say harmoniously.There were several objectionable calls from the officials on both sides, a couple of minor injuries and after the dust settle the Grizzlies lead 22 to 12 at the half.

The second half was more of the same. A couple of things to note, for the first time our mascot lost his voice, which was a shock and the game was postponed for almost 25 minutes while we waited for an ambulance. The ambulances here are dispatched in order of urgency and since one of the players on the Oshawa team had a minor neck injury the ambulance was sent out as a precaution, which means take your time, but don't use the siren or stop at Tim Horton's for coffee. That sort of took the wind out of the game. Oshawa scored a touchdown after the Grizzlies held them for 7 straight downs in a row on the Grizzlies one yard line (refer to the objectionable calls stated earlier as to why they had 7 tries to go 1 yard). End of three quarters Grizzlies 22 Oshawa 19.

The forth quarter was a defensive stand for the Grizzlies and the ball was turned over on downs with 3:35 to go. Three plays later Malick our fullback, busted up the middle then cut back to the outside and it was a race to the end zone, which he won. He attempted to kick his own points after and missed, his only real mistake of the game if you can even call it that. The Oshawa team was not to be denied. They had 2:29 in which to work and with no time on the clock scored however they missed their points after, Grizzlies 28 Oshawa 25.

The team went crazy, running all over high fives, hugs and then the line up for the presentation of the trophies. Each player on both team received a trophy and then the Grizzlies were awarded the overall Trophy! Each team had a player of the game and of course our's was Malick, with 3 of the 4 touchdowns, several sacks and his attempt to kick the points after, who else would it be?! Then the mad dash to the goal post for pictures and a chance to hold the trophy.

Well done Grizzlies!

(Jimmy asked "can I sleep with my trophy tonight?" Think the kids were excited?! :))

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

"Sandy, the fireworks are hailing over little Eden tonight" ... Bruce S...but!  not enough to stop the innocence of youth and the trick or treaters.

The after affects of the storm have been going on all week here and at one point the city of Toronto was considering postponing or preponing, Halloween, depending on your point of reference. The weather held out (sort of) and Halloween went on as scheduled. Tracy was frantically trying to get home from a trip to Minneapolis in time to participate in the festivities, which she was able to do. A good thing too, she had the candy and final touches to Billys Ninja costume!

Things started out as they usually do with school schedule Halloween events. Jimmy was decked out as PSY and the whole Gangham Style craze. He had school as usual until 1:00 and the dance (mention in the previous blog) began, with him sneaking off to the office, so Dad could tie his bow tie. "Thanks Dad" and he was off. He has a tendency when he is nervous to talk non-stop and while I was tying his bow tie he never stopped talking, so ..... make your own judgement. A quick update on the dance. The boys danced with the boys and the girls danced with the girls and its nice to know that middle school dances havent changed in 1,000 years:)

Kay and Billy headed off to school "in"costume. Kay was )until that morning) going to be a nerd, then a zombie then decided to be a witch, women's prerogative I guess. Bill was a Ninja compete with hood and black sash. If I am to believe Kay they had two periods of school then pushed their desks against the wall and proceeded to watch movies and eat candy. Judging by her demeanor after school I tend to agree all she ate was sugar. Bill true to form was not quite sure what he had for lunch however he did have a big bag of candy and a super sized smile.

The time between school and the trick or treating hour was filled up with practicing piano & drums.  Then Kay (of course) changing her costume to be a nerd. Complete with a I love nerds t-shirt and a old pair of Jimmy's glasses with a bit of white surgical tape to round out the "look", God help us. Jimmy was off to a pizza party at his friend Brock's.  Kay and Billy of to the Dojo for a costume and pizza party of their own. The kids ran around the Dojo and poor Ted the Tae Kwan Do instructor was trying too play traffic cop, to no avail.

Back home to meet Tracy, a quick 'Hi' and Billy was out the door with his buddy Josh and Kay was off to Megan's. The light drizzle was just enough to bother the adults and barely even registered to the candy seekers. Billy called it quites around 7:30, Kay and Jimmy came back soaked, muddy with their friends, parents and everyone dripped water all over the inside of our house, did I mention it is a rental!?!

We sorted the candy while having pizza and seafood stew and clearly we have to much candy!

Happy Halloween to all!