Adventures With Kids – Schooling

A Perfect Day At School

minecraftIf the Oldest had his choice, he would have a totally different school morning. Not so much with the math and more with the Minecraft.

“So, Joe, it’s time to go to school.” In his world, this is governed by him.

“It’s like 4 in the afternoon!”

“Perfect. There won’t be anyone there to bother me.”

“I see your point. So, ah, what, the teacher just stays late for you?”



“Totes. Totally. Come on Joe, keep up.”

“Right. Sorry. So what are you going to learn today?”

“We’re going to watch videos of people playing minecraft.”

“Watch, err, people playing? Like tutorials or something?”

“No,” Heavy sigh. “We’ll watch people playing. Playing, Joe. Just playing.”

“Wait, let me get this straight. It’s fun to watch people playing, and not, you know, playing yourself?”


“And this helps you learn?”

Shrugs. “No, I know everything about Minecraft.”

“So the purpose is…?”

“Better than trying to learn about how parliament works.”

“Fair enough. And then what? What, you know, crazy learning stuff will you do?”

“We’ll work on creating virtual reality.”

“Cuz, like real reality sucks so bad?”

“You got it.”

“How will you create virtual reality?”

“That’s up to the teacher.”

“So you’ll just kind of supervise him?”

“Yup. And watch poop videos.”

“Wait, what? No, I don’t even want to know.”

“Ready to go, Joe?”

“Ok, let’s strap on our jetpacks.”

I do get that school isn’t nearly as fun as playing games, watching videos, surfing online or pretending you’re a writer. At lot of things in life, well, actually MOST things, are just not that fun. However, they still have to get done.

And you know what, for all the Oldest’s dreams of being able to teleport directly to school, of classes being taught by Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, or homework assignments consisting of racking up the high score on Mario Cart, he still gets up, gets dressed and heads off to school. 5 days a week. He does his homework, occasionally listens to something in class and manages to get pretty good grades.

So, he may not love school, it may not be what he dreams about, but he knows he has to do it… so he does his best.

Me thinks that’s about all we could ever ask of anyone.



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Adventures With Kids – School

Why Can’t I Live A Fantasy Life?

schoolReally the first day of school was today. Oh sure they went to school yesterday, but after a detailed interrogation of both boys, it seems like they pretty much sat in class, talked about what they did over the summer and then went to an assembly.

Not hard stuff.

Today, though, the real schooling began.

And the Oldest was not ready for it. I’m going to be walking him to school so he’ll know the route and feel a little safer. He used to get dropped off at daycare until they decided he was too old for that. So now he’s got a 20 min walk to do.

Here’s my fantasy of how this should have gone.

We’re getting ready to go. It’s 8:15.

schoolboyMe: “Good to go?”

Him: “Sir, yes, sir. I have my lunch packed, the lunch that I made myself last night. I have my backpack secured on my back. I have all my pencils sharpened and sorted by size.” (in my fantasy, they still use pencils for something.) “I also have my phone charged and in my pocket.” (And I have mine, so neither one of us has to run around shouting, where the heck did I put my phone, I had it only 2 minutes ago???)

Him: “We are good to go, sir.”

Me: “Outstanding! What’s the weather like outside?”

Heavy Downpour --- Image by © Anthony Redpath/CorbisHim: “Perfect, sir. It should be a lovely walk.” (Unlike today when it started to rain on me about half way there and I forgot my hood and an umbrella.)

Me: “Outstanding!” (in my fantasy world, everything is outstanding).

Him: “Shall we talk about history on way to school or would you like me to recite some Shakespeare?”

Me: “I think we’ll just jog.” (in my fantasy I’m in great shape).

Him: “Excellent suggestion, sir.”

Sadly, it didn’t turn out quite how I imagined. There was less Shakespeare and more Clash of Clans. There was less jogging and more shuffling of feet. I don’t even think I said ‘outstanding,” once, and where the Oldest had finally found his phone after 5 minutes of panicked looking, well, the less said the better.

However, I have begun to learn to readjust my expectations.


My new expectations are as follows.

He has pants on.

He has food.

That’s it. Anything more is, as a hungry person once said, “gravy.”

And that may just be the secret to success. Set the bar so low that I get to put a win in the column if either of the boys remembers to wear shoes.

However, let’s look at this from another POV.

What would his fantasy day looked like?

I’ll have that tomorrow.

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Adventures With Kids – Homeschooling

The School Year Begins

IMG_5689I’ve had some fun being a homeschooling parent. It’s been a challenge, but I was helped out by family and friends who offered up websites, advice and often derisive laughter. However, I am super glad that the teachers have voted to go back to work. I can’t say the Oldest is happy about it. He said he learned more with me in one week than he did in 7 years at school. While I doubt his claim, I’m I little concerned about what he learned.

Here’s what I fear will happen when he actually goes back to school…

Teacher: So, this year we’ll be discussing ancient Egypt, the pyramids and the sphinx. Does anyone know anything about these subjects?

The Oldest shoots his hand up.


“Joe said in Civilization V, which I tried to play but didn’t really understand it, that the Egyptians are good at chariots and building wonders and  were ruled by ferrets.”


“Yeah, that was it. And the Egyptians could draw but they liked a particular style for all their drawings. Like cartoons.”

“Like cartoons?”

pyraminds“Yeah, and there’s a super secret hidden chamber that’s beneath the sphinx and no one knows what’s in it, but the sphinx was made during an earlier civilization and the pyramids were built by aliens so that they could co-ordinate the hive mind to control all us humans.”

“Errr, what?”

“Joe says the aliens will come back one day.”

“Right, yeah, ok, well then, we’ll also be tackling math later in the day.”

The Oldest shoots up his hand.


“Joe says math was designed by the Nazis to torture people.”

“He what?”

“He also said that the Nazis used science to do bad things to people so therefore science is bad. I’m supposed to ignore science.”

“Ignore science?”

“Yup. Joe says I can learn all I need to know by playing Minecraft.”

Teacher hangs his head. “Ok, just who is this Joe person?”

Ok, it won’t be that bad.

IMG_5688But it’s funny what you find on the internet when you search pyramids. However, we eventually found a cool National Geographic video to watch, but we also looked at the whole alien thing. As for the sphinx, he did an amazing drawing of it and read the latest research which does seem to indicate it was carved by an earlier civilization. How cool is that?

I think part of the learning process has to be fun. So I tried to tie it all in to his life. What can you learn from minecraft? How can you find your way home on a phone? What are the practical applications of math (like hanging a shelf in the middle of a wall)? What makes the book you’re reading good (or bad)?

IMG_5687But the biggest surprise was learning that typing is not being taught to younger kids. I’m not sure when it starts, but my advice would be start earlier. Kids these days are on phones, laptops, tablets and all sorts of electronic-ie things… and they are typing. With one finger. Sometimes two. It’s hard to break a bad habit and if you asked the Oldest what he hated the most, he would say, without a doubt and without equivocation, it was typing. It was hard to relearn them-there fingers. It was hard to set up new muscle memories. It was hard to use ALL of your fingers.

He did well on all the tests I gave him, though, even looking up his mistakes and hopefully retaining a thing or two. Or sure he can tell you the best way to attack an archer tower in Clash of Clans, but if he can remember what assonance is, that would be a huge win.

Either way, he’s back to school today. I hope he can find a way to make some of the learning fun. I know the teachers will be doing their best.


Hey, thanks to all the new people who’ve decided to follow me and thanks to all my old followers for sticking with me. As always, if you like the blog, please share on FB or Twitter or WordPress or print it out, make a paper airplane of it and throw it into someone’s eye.


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Adventures With Kids – Hockey

The Equipment


I love the ‘no jewelry allowed’.

It’s the first goalie camp of the year for the Youngest and I’m in a rush. I’ve spent the day talking to contractors, watching AC get installed into our house, and setting up more appointments to get quotes on more stuff. I’m a bit frazzled and worried that I won’t remember how to put on all that goalie gear.

The Youngest seems excited, though, chattering all the way there. Once in the arena, though, he puts on his game face. It’s a serious thing on such a young (and somewhat pudgy-cheeked) face. It’s one class a week for 4 weeks and he means to do well. To show them all he’s the best goaltender on the ice. Maybe of all time.

We tear out of the house with plenty of time because I may need a lot of it to figure out how to attach those odd pads I found last year in the bottom of the goalie bag.


It’s the strangest thing to go to a rink in 30 degree heat and beautiful sunshine. It’s just wrong.

So race into goalie dressing room at the Langley Sportsplex.  There’s one kid with gleaming white pads so new they squeak, so wide they can be seen from space like the great wall of china. Another kid has that high-end sweat gear, you know, the type that Bolt wears. Or one that harnesses the energy of farts or something.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The clinic is for H3 – Pee Wee. And them Pee Wee kids aren’t so wee. And by the time they’ve made it that far, they’re pretty serious about what they wear.

We have come with gear borrowed from the Langley Minor Hockey Association. It’s a little on the smelly side, a little worn at the edges, but it’s basically fine. It may not gleam, but it can still stop pucks.

But as we start to get the equipment on, I realize that I’ve forgotten something.

His pants.

hokcey pants


Now, it’s kinda funny. Of all the things to forget… PANTS.

I’m deeply embarrassed.

The Youngest is horrified that I’ll send him out there in his shorts. However, I have an ace up my sleeve. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world can drop off the pants on her way to get the Oldest to a doctor’s appointment.

Luckily, the pants arrive in time, thrown out a car window as the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world races by.  The Youngest and I get geared up in record time.

A wave of relief washes over me. It makes no sense that such a thing as forgetting pants would cause me as much stress and throwing stones at an outlaw biker, but it does. We’re short laces that tie the bottom of the pads to the skates and one of those mysterious thigh pads doesn’t have a strap, but we’re pretty much good to go.


If he could blow himself up like a balloon, he might block the entire net.

The Youngest, however, points out that he does not have a proper goalie mask. Like most kids in H3, he’s got his helmet and that’s it. I tell him he can see better in his, but when I watch the other kids all skate around the rink, I wonder, does the mask really matter?

At what point do you have to invest in goalie gear?

I mean, we’ll never likely be able to afford the space-age, astronaut-white gear, and I don’t have a personal need to have the Youngest dressed in the BEST equipment, but watching the him zip by in his black helmet while all the other boys had masks painted with flames or skulls or mirroring what Luongo would have worn, it made me realize that, yes, some gear does matter.

And, more importantly, the Youngest even offered to buy one with his own money. His own money. It’s not like he has a lot and it’s usually ear-marked for video games or pokemon cards, so for him to offer… it’s a pretty big thing.

Oh sure he could play in a helmet. Sure, he might even see better.

hockey mask

You look mmmmarvelous!

But he needs to feel like a goalie and I think having a mask will make that possible. It may not make him a better goalie, but it should make his time as goalie a bit more enjoyable. He won’t feel like that one kid who doesn’t quite fit in.

Hey, it’s hard enough fitting in. No need to make it harder.

Plus, his neck will be properly protected. Chances are he wouldn’t get hit in the throat with a blazing slap shot, but why even chance it?

So. Yeah. Next time he skates out onto the ice, he may be wearing pads that smell like cats have died in them, he may have a stick smaller than all the other boys, but he will have a proper goalie mask. One he picked out himself. One he will have paid for with his own money (not paid for all of it, but some.)

I hope that helps him become the goalie he wants to be. I hope that allows him to fit in a little better.

Because, to quote Billy Crystal, to be good, you need to believe in what you’re doing.

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Adventures With Kids – Hockey

Hockey Season Starts Again

LMHA symbolWell, we’re just about to head off to our first hockey practice of the year. It’s H4, the last year when all this is still taken only kind-of seriously. Skates have been sharpened. The sweaty gear has been aired out. The Youngest has his goalie gear (borrowed from the LMHA).

We’re good to go. The Youngest is super excited.

And this time, I’ll be way more able to do what I gotta do.

So let’s take a look back to my last year as hockey parent.

  1. Managed to put the skates on the wrong feet. Easy enough to do, really, for a noob, but still super embarrassing.
  2. Drove him to the wrong rink for a practice. I want to blame the early time or lack of sleep, but it was just a complete brain fart. It’s why I arrive early for nearly everything; there’s a 50/50 chance that I’ll have forgotten something, got the wrong place or left the kid behind.
  3. bottlesBought about 30 water bottles. I don’t know why that’s the item I always forget to grab when I’m rushing out, but there it is. I think the rinks make their yearly sales profit off of bottles bought at the last moment. I suspect one rink did just that from me.
  4. Cheered for the wrong team. Again, kinda easy to do. Hey, they’re all pretty small, kinda cute and if both teams show up in black, I’ll root for the kids who are scoring the most goals. It also helps if I sit at the right rink. (Hey, there’s sometimes more than one!)
  5. I learned how to tie on goalie gear. I never played ice hockey, so this was all new. Oh sure I played a ton of street hockey, but back in my day, we had cardboard taped to our legs and a phone book strapped to our chest and only people from Langford wore masks. So, figuring out how to tie the skates to pads, which pad went on which leg, what the hell those extra pads did that just sat at the bottom of the bag looking like they really should be somewhere…it was all new to me.
  6. I tried to say hi to all the parents, but one guy just didn’t seem to like me, which I personally think is impossible. So, every morning I’d say, “Hi, Mike,” and he’d glare at me. I’d wave at him when we left. “See you later, Mike.” He’d just wave and glare. Turns out, his name was not Mike. This year I’ll go back to my tried and true, “hey buddy!”
  7. I learned never to rely on a 7 year old to tell you that he’s brought everything. Assume the exact opposite. “You have your jersey on?” “Yup.” “Errr, no you don’t, you have on your spiderman PJs.” “Oh, yeah.”
  8. There are videos for everything. If you need to look up how to tie skates (yes, I needed to know if I was doing THAT right), there’s a video. If you need to see how to clap like a Russian, well, there’s a video for that, though it features a half naked girl for some reason that only the internet understands. If you need to know what type of helmet is the best, yup, there’s something on youtube. Failing that, you could always ask. I did that a lot since taking out my laptop and typing queries into it while in the change-room might have seemed a little odd.
  9. I saw a lot of terrible parents, mostly at a higher level. You know, the ones who shout at their kids, scream at the ref, seem angry all the time. I could never understand that. We were lucky to have a great group at our level, not only on our team, but on the other teams as well. I saw only 1 parent lose it like he was a 2 year old having his ring pop taken away. But that was it. God help me if that’s me one day. I hope someone tells me if it ever is. “Joe, man, chill the f* out. It’s only kid’s hockey. Here’s a ring pop.”
  10. Coffee is absolutely vital to any early morning practice. If I forget it, all of 1-9 will happen. ALL.

IMG_5668I wonder what this year will hold in store for me?

I think the Youngest is wondering the same thing.

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Adventures in Parenting – Homeschooling

More Harm Than Good?

strikeWith the teacher’s strike on BC looking hopelessly deadlocked, it seemed like it was time for me to do some home edumakation. You know, reading, writing, arithmetic. All that kind of stuff.

But where to start? Was there a good website? A good program for homeschooling?

You know what, there probably is, but I haven’t been able to find a great one just yet. Any suggestions would be awesome, but for now, I’m using the BC Exam Bank as my starting point for grade 7 lessons. Hey, anything’s better than the Oldest just playing video games all day long, cuz, you know, that’s my job.

BCBookmarkSo, the BCEB would be a good start, thought I. It’s free because of the strike, so that’s a major plus.

Then I took a look at the tests.

I would have scored 4/10 on the science one, about 2/10 on grammar (wft is a concrete noun, I have no idea?) How is igneous rock created? Apparently it is not farted out a giant’s butt. And don’t even get me started on mathematics. I barely understood it when I was in grade 7 and now it just seems like a ton of symbols written in a drunken rage.

At some point in my life, I knew this stuff. In some part of my brain, it still may be stored. Maybe that brain cell that held the answer to ‘who was Emily Stowe?‘, died when I hit myself in the head with a golf club. Or maybe I was too busy gazing at the lovely, dark-haired woman of my dreams when the teacher told us a what a colloid was (I thought it was something you treated with hemorrhoid cream.)

So how can I do any schooling when I don’t have the answers to the questions?

The truth is, I don’t need them.

See, there’s this cool invention. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

googleIt’s called google. And every time the Oldest gets something he doesn’t understand, (like what the hell is assonance?) he gets the joy of looking it up on google.

Hey, back in my day (a phrase I will have tattooed to my butt very soon), we had to look it up in a dictionary that weighed 100lbs. I kid you not. Or look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica – which I still have, thank you very much.

So it’s Google for the Oldest, a reasonable substitute for what’s in my brain (or the Encyclopedia Britannica.)

Not that we’ll just tackle all that learning stuff. No. There’s a bus-load of life lessons that I’m dying to teach the Oldest. No, I have no idea how to pick up women – which is lucky since he still thinks they’re icky – but I can teach him how to pump gas, or use his phone to find the nearest starbucks (for his teacher), or show him how to make funny fonts on Word. All important stuff, yes?

I’ll try not to make it completely un-fun. I’ll see what I can do about linking lessons to real life (oh, math, yeah, let’s go measure that cabinet and see how we put it dead-center on the wall) and I will try to make sure I get the Oldest thinking and not just regurgitating facts back to me. Or we’ll even try watching and learning from youtube vids (though his linking of watching how to make stuff on ‘crazycraft’ to learning about architecture was not what I had in mind.)

Oh, sure, it’s going to take a lot of time out of my already nutso day, as I try to get my novel off, a new one started and written, as I try to keep up my blog, as I deal with contractors and unpacking and trying to find where I hid my gorilla glue. But it’s time well spent, I think.

It’s another amazing adventure to go on.

Below is our first day’s lesson. Let’s hope I don’t do more harm than good.

Homeschooling – Sept 10th

  • Organize phone
    1. Put in phone numbers found on contact sheet
    2. Put in address of dad’s house and Joe/mom’s house
    3. Figure out route to school.
    4. Figure out a different route.
    5. Figure out how to put a ‘favourite’ website onto your phone
  • Shopping Trip With Joe
    1. Find note book
    2. Find good book to read
    3. Look for learning programs
  • 20 minutes of Trumpet
    1. Find music
    2. Clean trumpet
    3. Play 20 minutes
  • 1 math quiz (on computer)
    1. Discuss with Joe
    2. Print out
  • 1 grammar quiz
    1. Discuss with Joe
    2. Print out
  • Megalodon
    1. Watch with Joe
    2. Type out 5 of the coolest things about Megalodon.
    3. Print out the list of 5 things
  • Ancient Egypt Study
    1. Draw a picture of the Sphinx
    2. Draw a picture of what could be hidden under the sphinx. Use your imagination.
  • Jujitsu
  • Learn any and all things you don’t understand by googling solutions.
  • Set up Diary of Work
    1. Find note book
    2. Put date on page
    3. Write out how the day was spent (You could do this earlier if need be)



Hey, anyone who’s doing something similar, let me know.

Have you found a good website?

Are there any programs you’d recommend?

Please share this far and wide as I need ideas on moving forward. Thanks!




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Moving With Kids – The Unpacking

Getting Everyone Involved

Ok, I’ll admit it, I have a problem. It started way back when I was just beginning my career as a retail guru. I had a hard time letting others do what I could clearly do better. Worse, I found it even harder taking the time to show them how to do it. I mean, hey, why spent 2 hours showing someone how to prune plants and pick up hamster poo when I could do it myself in 1/2hr?

Ok, it was this Lao Tzu guy. I think.

Ok, it was this Lao Tzu guy. I think.

It took me years to overcome this. YEARS! In the end, as the wise Buddha (or was it Christ?) said, teach a man to fish, and you can go get fish and chips while he’s out fishing. Or something like that.

So it was with the boys and what could be called the GREAT UNPACKING OF 2014.

There was a ton of unpacking to do. A TON! Literally. Maybe 10 tons.

Now the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I had a pretty good idea of what goes where, but to stand there and point while the boys unloaded boxes would be a massively inefficient use of time. So, how to give the boys some responsibility unpacking? How?

We gave them control over some areas of unpacking.

Scary, right?

You have no idea. Letting go of that control, over saying, that goes there, and this goes here was hard. My left eye twitched for a whole day. By the end of the 2nd day, I had developed a palsy-like shake as I stopped myself from micromanaging their every choice.

But we did it.

..And this gogi berry tea goes here, and this camomile tea goes there..

..And this gogi berry tea goes here, and this camomile tea goes there..

First we let them unpack all the food and put it in the pantry. While we unpacked plates and strange things from boxes I’d marked, “stuff, stuff and more stuff’, they found shelves for the breakfast food, canned goods, packages of pasta, and boxes and boxes of cookies.

The Youngest even sorted the tea to such a degree that he made sure each box was facing out, each had the bottom opened so that tea could be easily dispensed and even checked each box to make sure the right tea was in it.

OMG! Why had we never put him in charge of doing stuff like this before? He was a genius.

The oldest saw to it that we had specific areas for specific goods, that each shelf had a purpose, that each section held a greater rationale. He was like the general, designing a great strategy while the tactic genius, aka his brother, implemented the ideas.

By the end, they had done a pretty darned good job. Oh sure, I would have put the labels facing out on the peanut butter and color-coordinated the cans of baked beans, but the pantry was full and organized, and they saved us adults a whole heap of time.


careful…. careful

Hmmm, thought I. What else could we have them do?

So we got them to unpack glasses. Yes, glasses. Made of glass. Glass that could shatter.

We told them this was serious business. Unwrap each glass carefully. Take your time. Slow is ok.

Then we stood back and held our breath. I gave it 50/50 that it would end in disaster.

But no, it ended with only 1 broken glass. Just one!

Even I couldn’t have done better.

They were amazing.

So they were given more boxes to unpack, the Youngest asking very awkward questions like…


is 28 bottles of alcohol a lot?

“Joe, how come you have so much alcohol?”

Me: “Errr what?”

“You have, like, 20 bottles.”


“That’s a lot of bottles.”

“I guess.”

“So why do you have so many?”

“Hey, look over there!” I said. “I see your Pokemon cards!”

(Sadly, he was not to be distracted) “Joe, do you drink a lot?”

“No. I, ah, I have a lot of bottles because I DON’T drink a lot. Yeah. That’s it. I have lots of wine for when friends drop over and beer for other friends, and that bottle of Jack Daniels is for a friend, and that one over there is for another friend, and that huge bottle that your mom is hugging is called Tequila and is very expensive and used for special celebrations.”

“So you’re keeping it for other people?”

“Mostly. Yes. For other people. Yes.”



my friend

In truth, I don’t drink a lot. In truth, most of it IS for when people come by – I hate not being able to be a good host and so I make sure I have everyone’s favourite drink. However, in truth, there are a few in there for just us, for after the boys have gone to bed and we have survived watching them unpack the crystal.

Hello, Quail’s Gate Gewurztraminer. I’m talking to you.


There are some who believe the Youngest should wear this as his regular clothes. With a helmet.

Each day, though, the boys have helped us unpack and organize our new house. They set up their own rooms. They helped move all the frog-boxes to the garage (and de-label them.) They jumped on piles of packing paper to condense it down (looking like they could both have great careers in grape-stomping at a winery.) They even swept and dusted.

Wow. I never imagined they could be so helpful.

So, tonight, we’ll take on the epic (and some say ‘impossible’) task of sorting out 4 moving boxes full of crayons, pencils, markers and what looks like melted gummy bears.

One of those ‘bottles for friends’ may be consumed afterwards.


How have you had the kids help with unpacking?

Any advice on things NOT to do?

As always, if you like this blog, please share it, or print it out and cuddle it at night. Or like my FB page. Or reblog, retweet or repost.


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