Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Has Sprung!

Signs of spring have officially arrived! The sun was out today melting away what's left of the snow, and the air finally had a delicious springlike quality to it. The boys were out until after the sun set, playing with friends on the street. It was light out until well past 7:30 p.m. And when I went out for my hour-long exercise walk, I didn't have to bundle up in mitts, hat and parka - hurray! While I was out walking I saw about a dozen robins, and I also spotted a large number of an unfamiliar-to-me waterfowl while on the Waterfront Trail. Turns out they're Common Goldeneye. Considering as how I don't recall seeing any before, there sure were a lot of them around!

Welcome Spring!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

98 Seconds on YouTube Leads to Hours of Fun and Learning

We watched this video on YouTube last night. Actually, we ended up watching it several times because the boys found it so amusing. We had some interesting discussion about cat behaviour (our Jessie cat could have starred in that video!)

I happened to mention to Nathan that he could use his lightbox (a birthday gift from several months ago) to help make some basic line drawing animation like that used in the video. The boys ended up breaking out the lightbox and spending several hours last night and this morning working on creating crazy characters with the lightbox and the drawing templates that came with it.

Noah and Nathan also did a live performance of the video last night for me! Noah was Simon and Nathan was the cat. They really nailed the whole thing, and remembered almost all of the little details. Of course Nathan totally had the cat's attitude right down, too.

Nathan is now interested in learning more about how to do line-drawing style animation so I have been spending some time tracking down appropriate resources on the internet today. So far, these look like two promising sites to get us started:


We will probably try our hand at making a simple thaumatrope later today. I have found a couple of good books at the library to help us get started with some basic animation as well.

It still amazes me sometimes how one simple thing can spark the boys' imagination and interest and they're just off and running with a world of new things to explore. That is truly unschooling at its finest!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

March Break Mayhem

You wouldn't think March Break would be all that relevant to our lives, since the kids don't go to school. But since all the other kids are off school for a week, it definitely has an impact! Places we can normally go to during the day and find it relatively calm and quiet are now packed to the gills with overexcited children. I usually plan to avoid most of the "hot spots" during this week, as it's just too overwhelming, and we can go anytime we want.

We did venture out to a couple of the library's March Break programs, both of which the boys really enjoyed (and the mayhem factor wasn't TOO bad). On Tuesday afternoon, it was a Wii Bowling tournament. Although Noah and Nathan have had the opportunity to play games on the Wii on a few occasions, this was the first time they had tried the bowling. Nathan devised an interesting strategy for getting strikes that was a bit counterintuitive, but it worked! Yesterday, it was the Mac Fireballs, a group of students from McMaster University, doing loud, explosive chemistry experiments. The boys came out of that one all excited and impressed with the "BOOMS" they got to experience!

There is still a lot of snow here, and the enthusiasm for it is definitely dwindling. The boys are still hitting the toboggan hill with their friends, but not as often or for as long as they would earlier in the season. I think there may be a neighbourhood snowball fight going on as I type, though. I am enjoying hot beverages and warm blankets as I start to think about plans for this year's garden and wait for the arrival of spring (I know it has to show up sometime soon!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We Know How to Rock in the Hammer!

One of the biggest shows ever hit our city Monday night - none other than Bruce Springsteen! We were fortunate enough to get tickets and man, were they worth every penny. This was our first time seeing The Boss, and I sure hope it wasn't our last!

Judging from the reviews of the show, this was one of his absolute best, rating right up there with the legendary Boston '99 show: "Badlands" has become the standard song before the encore break. Except the crowd wouldn't allow the break, even though the band was lined up taking bows. The hypnotic rolling roar of "whoa-whoa-whoa" continued, louder and louder, until Bruce started his guitar going again and motioned everyone back to their instruments. This so-called "Boston ending" coda, which began as Bruce's way to thank the legendary 1999 Boston crowds' vocal calisthenics, was earned this night by a crowd that would not have been out of place in Boston (still the gold standard for North American audiences) then or now." Springsteen decided to slip another song (Dancing in the Dark) into the encore set list to reward our enthusiasm. Another reviewer reports, "this was "possibly the best audience in North America for the Magic tour -- including Boston shows," one regular concertgoer reports. The sold-out 19,000 seater still had an intimate atmosphere, and in a chillingly perfect moment, Bruce stepped back as the whole place became a choir on the second line of 'The River.'"

All I know is that was one of the most incredible shows I've ever seen. Rock on!