View From The Glen

Friday, August 31, 2012

All the news fit to print....

Because I am a former journalist and newspaper editor, friends often ask me why I don't blog about current events or hot-topic issues. It's true that with a few exceptions, I use this blog more as a personal journal than as a forum for analysis, and it is heavy with references to the kids and our activities. Even those exceptions tend to be issues that affect us directly, like the zero-grade controversy that rocked educational circles earlier this year (this links to my original response but I should note that I have modified my opinion slightly over the subsequent months).

Partly, it's because this blog is for friends and family scattered over the globe and they are far more interested in what we've been up to on the soccer field or the lake than they are interested in my ranting on one subject or another.
Ottawa Citizen
Partly it's because the news depresses me, and when I blog I don't want to be depressed. I'm usually at the keyboard in the evening or in between projects as well, and responding to news in a way that would be unbiased and informed and well-thought-out frankly takes a great deal more time and effort than I am willing to give. In general I find the state of journalism sad these days and find there is too much reliance on sound bites and opinion rather than factual reporting or even deep editorial commentary. If I write as a reporter, I am not going to do a half-arsed job of it.

The Globe and Mail

Partly it's because I want the freedom to say words like arsed without worrying about offending someone. And I don't really want to invite the comment trolls (the ones I see on news sites make me despair for humanity) into my life.

National Post
But sometimes I wish I did more analysis. Every day I read a variety of news sources (and am amazed how important a source of information Twitter has become for me - with links to all sorts of incredible things), and every day there are things I want to say or could say. There are so many stories I am passionate about...some of the key stories that have stood out for me recently are pictured throughout this post. Being a writer means I think best with a keyboard and that's usually how I formulate opinions. If I don't have the opportunity to write about an issue, when something comes up in conversation (like it invariably does at book club) I end up feeling like I am merely ranting, rather than putting forward intelligent and thoughtful ideas.


I made a conscious decision to keep this blog light because I don't believe I can do some of the big stories justice in the short window I have to draft blog posts.
It doesn't mean I don't have an opinion. If you want my thoughts on politics, philosophy, education, religion, or cultural mores, you just have to ask. Preferably while you hand me a glass of wine...if I don't have a keyboard, it's the next best thing!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


This is really it....the last week of summer. It's still very warm - warm enough that I turned the A/C back on over the weekend, after a few gorgeous, breezy, cooler days mid week - but there is no denying reality any longer.

Back to school shopping happened yesterday and the girls spent this morning sorting out their supplies. Scout meetings are being organized and we had the group over for a planning meeting and barbecue on Friday night. I'm back on campus Monday to Wednesday this week for meetings, and the kids are planning a mini camping trip sometime in the next few days because I promised them they could do an overnight on their own this summer.

And so here we are, with just a few more days to go....

I love summer.

But as everyone who knows me is aware, Fall is really my favourite season. So while part of me is saying noooooo because I love summer dresses and lazy mornings, grilled salmon, and strawberry daiquiris, part of me is mentally brushing up my wool skirts for work, digging out jeans and a chunky sweater for weekends outside, and thinking about making boeuf bourguignon and sipping rich red wine the colour of maple leaves.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer School

I went easy on the kids this year and our annual Summer School was decidedly more slack than usual despite my best intentions. Still it gave me some insights into their respective strengths and weaknesses, as well as their approach to work (see pictures).

Anna is a very studious worker. Diligent and careful and really enjoys research, writing and collaboration

I also organized it differently. In addition to our usual "unschooling" (ie: letting them focus on whatever interested them as long as they incorporated reading and writing about it), I sent the kids emails and expected them to work on assignments together using Google Docs, thus encouraging them (ideally) to have input into each others' work and give them a chance to do some editing before submitting final essays to me.

Once Erik is in a routine, he just gets it done as efficiently (not always as professionally) as possible. But he also tends to procrastinate. If he leaves it long enough, maybe I will forget....

In some ways it worked really well - I am a firm believer that technology is the future of education - and I was happy that they seemed to have no difficulty accessing and creating files and working with a variety of on-line media. They also liked having the flexibility of working with their laptops or on the bigger computer.

Grace is half Anna (studious and keen) and half Erik (procrastinator). Oh, and she takes her cue for how to work from me. Except she doesn't have a daiquiri in her hand. LOL

In some ways it needed work. For example, I thought that by providing a weekly email with a list of assignments, links, and suggested extras, it would give them a chance to be independent. What I found was that this was a bit overwhelming for them and that it might have been better to send simpler daily emails. I also completely overestimated how much work we would get through in a week...that's my problem because I always think I can accomplish more than reality supports. I also envisioned getting my own editing done while they were doing their work, but they often needed more input from me than that, so it wasn't as easy as I hoped.

Okay, I don't have a daiquiri in hand either. It's an unjust universe.
Overall though, it went well. I aimed for 2 hours a day in the mornings (plus reading, which we do anyway-though I chose one of the books for each of them this year), but really, it was more like 1 hour a day. Other things (scout camp, visits to Grandad, weeks at the cottage, sailing) also interrupted the summer, and we certainly didn't push it, with some weeks decidedly more productive than others.

I do wonder if it's a good idea. They don't seem to mind - or at least have accepted the inevitability of it over the years - and I think they get something out of it. But sometimes I feel guilty of pushing them too much.

What do you think? Do you "home school" your kids in the summer? How far do you take it? And is it worth it? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Going for Gold

All season I tell the girls Win or lose, it doesn't matter. Play hard. Play strong. Play fair. It's about having fun.

It's a relaxed league, no stress. I'm happy to lend a player to the other team if they are short because I'd rather play a good game than take advantage of a missing player and win. I mean, these are 8-10 year olds we're talking about.

And the refs are young, so if they miss a call or make a bad one, it's okay. Having been on the receiving end of obnoxious 15-year-old girls the first game I ever refereed back in 1996, I have added sympathy for newbie refs on the field.

But something changed tonight. Semi finals night, and our team being in 1st place got to play the 4th place team. And man, our opponents put up a good girls really had to pull up their socks to get the victory.

And I found it a whole lot more stressful. I actually knew what the score was the entire game. So much for my non-competitive nature.\

6-4. Good game. Playing on Sunday in the finals.

They're a great bunch.

Grace with her 1st place medal and Best Defender Award
It was an extremely harrowing game today 2-2 at the end with Grace on fire in nets (and where my girls got their goal tending skills from I will never know). We went into Penalty Shots and were even after 5, and then went into Sudden Death which we narrowly won to win the championship. Honestly, I would have taken the loss happily - it was great to play such a close game against a team that kept us on our toes - but I have to say it felt like a well deserved win for a bunch of girls who have played their hearts out all summer.

Anna's team were playing for third place (with Anna also in nets). She is the youngest and smallest on her team (of 11-14 year olds) and boy, does she look tiny in the huge goal. But she did them proud and they won 3-2, narrowly avoiding a shoot out which would have been hard to watch.

Anna saves a goal

Erik's team ended up ahead 5-2 to win their championship game. It was the first time I've seen the boys play because I coach Grace's team at the same time, but I tell you, despite having some amazing players in the girls' league, watching the boys is like watching a whole different game. Really fun to see.

Erik Post Game
Great Season Everyone! Maybe mom will treat you all to dinner out tonight!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Til the End of All Time

Cuppa tea and listening to Gordon Lightfoot this morning.... This song is just right for an overcast morning when I need some poetry.

How I long to hear 
you whisper in my ear
Is there anybody home?
Don't you know I'm all alone?
All I can do
Is love you til the end of all time

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Still Time

We had a wonderful four days away at the cottage. Got in some sailing and some swimming and some kayaking and some reading. And that is what it's all about for me. I've blogged about the cottage so much in the past. The beautiful Canadian Shield. The land. The water.

I always come back refreshed and happy (albeit with a general feeling of exhaustion from packing too much in) and ready to face the world again.

Summer wanes - it always feels that way after the Highland Games. But the Williamstown Fair - the oldest fair in Canada - is on this weekend and we're all set to spend the afternoon there on Friday. I don't expect to see the kids at all, but the consolation is of course that there will be plenty of other people I know to socialize with. And a beer garden. (Now, if only I drank beer! Or if it were a Shiraz garden.)

But there is still time.

Time for swimming in the pool. For a few more dinner parties with friends on the veranda. For sitting and daydreaming on a warm and lazy afternoon. For reading and relaxing in the shade. For watching the kids run and play and grow (yes, I can almost see them growing this time of year) and having long casual conversations over iced lemonade when the midday sun is at its hottest.

Still time. Summer is not over yet.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sail beyond the sunset...

Come, my friends. 
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
-from Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fort Wellington

Entrance to the Fort

I took the kids to Prescott, Ontario for the day yesterday. It stormed, but that was okay because we spent a good few hours touring Fort Wellington.

Kids with the big compass

I am a huge history fan, and so, apparently, are Erik, Anna and Grace.

Store room

Grace as a soldier
The Caponniere: first line of defense
We'll definitely be going back.