Archive for February, 2007

My very busy February

I’ve had such a busy month with dentist appointments and activities here and there, and the latter part of February being called to the office for a 5-day training.  I have been exhausted most of the time and just looking at the calendar before I flip it after tomorrow makes me tired again. calfeb07t.jpg 

When the kids and I went for our semi-annual dental check-up last month, I found out that I needed a filling on one of my molars and that not only Ryland needed to have an infected tooth pulled out, but Ryan also needed to have his two baby teeth pulled out to give way to his erupting adult tooth.  So appointments for these visits were booked for this month. 

February 7th.  Ryan had his Winter Concert. The Grade 7 Concert Band played Frere Jacques, Theme from “Symphony No. 1,” Sawmill Creek, and Grandstand March.  That’s him in the middle carrying his trombone after the seventh graders finished their performance. 

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I couldn’t get a good shot of him while he was playing because he was seated somewhere in the middle of the band.  I’ve always had good shots of Reggie while playing the flute because he was always at the front.  But trombone players are seated in the middle.  Can you see him in this picture?  You get just a glimpse of him behind the two girls.

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February 9th.  I took a half day vacation to prepare for Ryland’s 9th birthday celebration which we had that Saturday.  And if you think it’s not that bad to host a birthday party for 11 nine-year olds, think again.  Just read my experience last year and the year before that.

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Ryan had also been busy with basketball practice and games.  They had morning practices on three Monday mornings, which started at 7:30 a.m.  Since it was still dark out, I walked with him to school.  I wasn’t comfortable making him walk alone when it was still dark.   

February 14th.  They had two back-to-back games on Valentine’s day.  They won both games.  Oh, Ryan was so good in those games.  He’s good at defense.  He may be small, but he’s slick at the court.

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perfectattend.jpgFebruary 15th.  I attended a townhall meeting at the office where I received my fifth annual Perfect Attendance Award.  Yes, thank you very much.  I now have 4 of these glass plaques sitting on top of my desk.  The first year I received the award, I was given a $50 gift certificate instead.  I also had training at the office that day.  And what was supposed to be a half-day training was extended to five and a half days.  So I had to get up really early during those 6 days that I had to go to the office and you know how much I don’t like that.

So I had to leave the house while the two younger kids were still eating breakfast.  It’s actually quite convenient now because Ryan is already 12 and Ryland, 9.  As long as I leave them a schedule that they could follow, like this one, they’re all right: 

7:30 Eat breakfast

8:00 Punas and dress up

8:30 Leave the house 

When I watched Ryan’s game at 5:00 p.m. on the 15th, Reggie wasn’t home yet and instead of watching the game, Ryland chose to stay next door at my sister’s place. When we came home, I found this note on the kitchen table: 

Read This: 

Hello! I have rehearsal with the wind ensemble at school at 7:00. 

Ryland is eating dinner at their house, their nai nai (did I spell that right) said it would be alright. 

See you later,  

          Reggie 

That’s my Reggie.  And it’s actually nanay (mother) and not nai nai. 

February 16th.  This was the morning when Ryan and Ryland had their teeth pulled out.  I told my supervisor that I was coming in late.  Although their dad drove them, us, to the dentist, I just had to be there for their first tooth extractions. And in the afternoon, I had to hurry home because Reggie had a performance that night at the Optimist International Band Festival at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.  I left the two young ones at home because they weren’t interested in watching Reggie play.  There was a time when I would drag all of them to attend Reggie’s concert, back when they were still younger and I couldn’t leave them home alone by themselves.   

reggieconventiont.jpgReggie’s Wind Ensemble Band played Havana by Robinovitch and on their second performance of a piece title Souvenir by Erb, the band players stood up and gathered at the back around the audience and by the wall.  The lights were turned off except for this sort of luminescent lamps that made everything white, like their sheet music, glow in the dark.  Then a CD was played and the band players accompanied it with their instruments and there were visual effects on the front, resembling that of what you would see inside a kaleidoscope.  Then a huge bouncing ball was thrown at the audience and we all passed it around.  It actually hit me twice on the head and the next time it came my way, I had my arms ready to pass it on to the next person.  Neon coloured pingpong balls were thrown next, and the kids who were there tried to grab and collect them from the floor.  I also grabbed a few.  Towards the end of the piece, there were also silly strings and confetti and bubbles.  It was such an exciting experience and they got a great review from the adjudicator.  That’s Reggie standing at the aisle holding his flute before their second performance. 

February 20th. Ryan had two games, 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.  And I had to attend a meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Reggie’s school regarding their upcoming Jazz Band trip to Brandon.  How could I watch the 6:00 game and also attend the 6:30 meeting?  If I could only be at two places at one time, right?  Well, I did watch the first 20 minutes of Ryan’s game.  Reggie’s school was only ten minutes away from Ryan’s school.  The meeting was only 20 minutes long and I made it back to Ryan’s school just in time to watch him make the final shot for their team that night. They lost that second game, but hey, what’s important to my son is that I saw him make that basket.

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February 27, 2007 at 9:57 pm 33 comments

Can he still be my friend?

January 26, 2007 

Dear Mrs. Sweetlady, 

I just want to let you know that Ryland has been hurt a few times by Buddy.  Yesterday he came home with a red spot on his right cheek.  He said that Buddy pushed him and he fell on the snow.  Buddy said that he didn’t mean to push him and it was an accident.  One time, Buddy threw a snowball at Ryland and it hit him on the face.  Buddy said it was an accident.  There were also two other times when Buddy kicked Ryland on the hips and his thigh.  Buddy said on both times that it was an accident.  I told Ryland that if he gets hurt like that to tell you.  But I think he doesn’t want his friend to get in trouble.  I don’t know if Buddy didn’t really mean to hurt Ryland but I was wondering if you could please talk to him.  If you want to talk to me personally, I’ll write down my phone number here. 

Thank you very much, 

Niceheart

204-X0X0 

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I received a phone call from Mrs. Sweetlady, Ryland’s third grade teacher, that morning.  She said that she had no idea that was happening.  She talked to Ryland first to confirm what I had written.  Then she talked to Buddy who admitted that yes, he had been rough.  She said that Buddy cried.  And I felt kind of guilty.  I also didn’t want to get him in trouble but I didn’t want Ryland to tolerate that kind of behaviour. 

I talked to Ryland the night before and told him that I had to tell his teacher how Buddy’s been treating him.  He asked me if he could still invite Buddy to his birthday party which was coming up in two weeks.  I told him that he could still invite him but he couldn’t let his friend, or anybody for that matter, treat him that way.  Buddy has been Ryland’s best buddy in school since kindergarten.  He has been over to our house quite a few times and I have met his parents who seem to be quite wonderful people.  Buddy also seemed to be a nice boy.  That is until he went to his home country over the summer.  He came back after school already started and that was when Ryland started telling me how he had been hurting my poor boy. 

I also mentioned this to Mrs. Sweetlady.  I told her that I have been thinking that maybe he’s had a hard time adjusting to his home country.  But I don’t know.  It’s just my speculations.  Why had he been treating his best buddy like that? 

Mrs. Sweetlady told Buddy and the rest of her class that they should keep their hands and feet to themselves.  And that they shouldn’t hurt each other physically or emotionally.  She told me that she would also call Buddy’s parents and let them know of the situation.  I was worried for Buddy because I also didn’t want him to get in trouble.  But at the same time, I wanted to teach Ryland that he shouldn’t let his friends treat him badly, physically and emotionally. 

When Ryland came home that afternoon, I asked him what happened after Mrs. Sweetlady talked to them.  And how Buddy took it.  He said, “We’re happy again.”  I asked, “And he didn’t hurt you again?”  He said, “No.”  And then he added, “Mommy, can he still be my friend?”  I said, “Of course.  But if he hurts you and makes you feel bad, you have to tell him – and me.”

And of course, we still invited Buddy to his 9th birthday party.

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February 24, 2007 at 10:52 pm 35 comments

Snow Sculptures on Broadway

This snow sculpture of what I think is a pack of howling wolves is located on Broadway Avenue in front of the Legislative Building.  Last year, there was a sculpture of an eagle on the same spot.

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Just about a block away is this sculpture of a car on top of some kind of platform.

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I continued walking eastbound as I was in search of one more sculpture, which John Sauder of CKY News mentioned the week before.  And sure enough, it was on the other end of Broadway Avenue at the corner of Main Street.  That was about five blocks that I walked.  And as I have mentioned in my previous post, it was quite chilly on that Saturday afternoon.  But it was worth it.  Because this is what welcomed me at that corner.  A sculpture of an athlete on top of a bison.  Isn’t it just amazing?  There was also another photographer taking snaps of this huge sculpture.

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The bison is the provincial symbol of Manitoba.  It is the symbol of MTS – the Manitoba Telecom Services as well.  It is now known at MTS Allstream and is the major provider of telephone services here in Manitoba.  It also provides internet and cable services.

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February 22, 2007 at 10:33 pm 15 comments

Vimy Snow Sculpture at the Legislative Building

I first heard about this 15-foot snow sculpture replica of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France on CKY News.  And I just had to visit it.  It is located in front of the Legislative Building on Broadway Avenue.  I went there on Saturday afternoon.  And although the temperature was only in the minus mid-teens, there was wind and my hands felt uncomfortable when I took my gloves off to take pictures of this snow monument.  There were also a few people who drove around the front of the Legislative Building to take pictures and to admire this work of art.  It was only after looking at my pictures did I notice that there were also replicas of tiny crosses on the ground.

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This is what’s written on the board in front of the sculpture: 

VIMY – Honour the Legacy 

This sculpture is an interpretation of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France that marks the site of the Battle of the Vimy Ridge of April 9-12, 1917.  The actual monument, which stands as tall as a 10-storey building, was built so that we would never forget Canada’s role in the First World War.  The Battle of Vimy ridge marked a profound turning point in the First World War and the birth of a Canadian identity at a cost of 10,602 Canadian casualties, including 3,598 who made the ultimate sacrifice. After more than two years of restoration work, the newly restored Vimy Monument will be dedicated on April 9, 2007 as a part of special commemorations marking the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  To learn more about this historic event and this year’s overseas and Canadian events, please visit the Veterans Affairs Canada website at http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/.

February 20, 2007 at 11:28 pm 21 comments

Ice and Snow Sculptures at the Fairmont Hotel

I was at the office last week to attend a townhall meeting.  Our office is located downtown at the corner of Main Street and Portage Avenue just in front of the TD Bank Centre.  Due to a lack of space for over 300 staff in our department, our townhall meetings are held at a huge conference room at The Fairmont Hotel, just across Main Street.  Since there is no pedestian crossing on Main Street and Portage Avenue (it is a very busy intersection), we walk there through the Shops of Winnipeg Square, an underground mall.  I can’t remember how many meetings I’ve attended at The Fairmont, but I always get lost in that underground labyrinth and I always make sure that I meet up with somebody first, usually my girl friend Elaine, and we walk together to that conference room.  But that afternoon, I walked with the other Work-at-Home Staff.

I’ve already noticed that there was a snow sculpture in front of The Fairmont a few weeks ago and since I knew that our annual townhall meeting was coming up, I planned on taking a few pictures of the sculpture.  I was tempted to go out there right after our meeting but I thought that some of the staff might see me snapping away and wonder why I’d do that and I thought it would be kind of embarrassing.  So I went back to the office with them.  But before I went home, I tried to find my way through that maze.  I took a couple of wrong turns, but eventually, I found the stairs going up to The Fairmont Hotel.  And boy, I was excited to see not only the snow sculpture, but there were ice sculptures as well. 

This one is located just before you enter the door.

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That’s The Fairmont Hotel logo and on top of it is an eagle.  The one beside it where it says Winnipeg is a curling rock.  Curling is a popular winter sport here in Canada.  (You can click on this link to view a picture of an actual curling rock.) 

This is the view you’ll see when you stand at the entrance doors facing outside.  Another ice sculpture and the snow sculpture by the street.

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Here’s a close up of the ice sculpture.

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That tall thing is an inukshuk.  Then there’s a polar bear, a bison, and an eagle.  (Just click on the links to view images of the actual things.)

Here are a couple more shots at different angles.

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This is the snow sculpture, which I think represents the Festival du Voyageur.  But I might be wrong.  Festival du Voyaguer is the annual 10-day winter festival which takes place at the French quarter of Winnipeg.  Voyaguer means traveler and refers to those who traded fur in the past and traveled by canoe. snowsculpturec2t.jpg

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Mind you, I wasn’t the only one taking pictures that afternoon.  There was another guy with a camera bigger than my digital Canon camera.  I don’t know if he’s a professional photographer.  Maybe he also has a blog.

February 18, 2007 at 11:37 pm 14 comments

Snow Sculptures at the TD Bank Centre

Last year, I posted pictures of snow sculptures in front of the TD Bank Centre in downtown Winnipeg.  This year, they have snow sculptures there and I think these are better than last years’.

I have been wanting to take pictures of snow sculptures since I saw blocks of packed snow at a few sites.  I wanted to photograph them while they were newly sculpted, still smooth and clean and white.  But I didn’t want to venture out there in the extreme weather.  It’s starting to warm up a little bit now, if you call minus 14 to 23 C warm.  But hey, I’d take that over minus 42 windchill.

I think these sculptures of faces are awesome, although they’ve  already been splattered with dirt and mud, and scattered with bubble holes.

 This is one of the sculptures. I took three pictures at different angles. 

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This is the other sculpture.  Pictures taken at three different angles as well.

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Close up shots.

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More snow sculptures next time!

February 17, 2007 at 5:02 pm 21 comments

The Difference Between Men and Women

malefemalesign.jpgHe’s gotta have it.  She can wait. 

They’re not the same in their beds or in their heads. 

Does she really talk more?  And why doesn’t he listen? 

Why do women go to the bathrooms in groups? 

Are we shaped by society or is it nature’s design? 

Gender – it’s bigger than sex. 

This is the introduction to the ABC 20/20 Special – The Difference Between Men and Women that got me hooked. 

Here are some excerpts from that show that will answer the gender myths and will make you understand not only your partner but also your sons and daughters. 

We often joke that women are less able to read maps and men just don’t ask questions.  But is there a scientific explanation for this?  In an experiment, students were blindfolded and led through a maze of tunnels underneath a campus.  When asked where a college building was, women rarely knew, but the men showed a better sense of spatial relations.  In another experiment, students were taken to a cluttered room and asked to stay there for two minutes.  They were then moved to a different room and asked to remember what they saw in the other room.  Women proved to have a better memory and even gave detailed answers.  The men answered, “I don’t know.  There was some stuff there.” 

A study on babies showed that girls sat up without support earlier than boys did.  Boys crawled independently away from their caretaker earlier than girls. 

Newborns were also observed and it was found that males startle more than females.  Females rhythmically mouth, they suck on their tongues, they move their lips and so forth than males do.  Male babies make less eye contact with their mothers than female babies.  Could this explain why men don’t listen?  The male brain has a harder time processing the female voice versus the male voice. 

Why do men fall asleep after sex?  It could be that men have more orgasms than women do. 

Do women have Adam’s apple?  Yes, although it is less prominent than men’s.  The Adam’s apple is actually a thyroid cartilage and testosterone causes it to enlarge.  A few women celebrities that have prominent Adam’s apple are Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock and Nikki Hilton. 

Who snores more?  Men, because they tend to drink and smoke more.  Besides, women have wider air circumference.  And when men gain weight, they gain more weight around the neck. 

Who cheats more?  80% of women remain faithful.  65% of men are faithful. 

Are women the worst drivers?  Men think that they are better because of the mechanical thing.  But actually, women are safer drivers.  Men take more risk and display reckless behaviour.  Men are more impatient on the road.  They are more likely to get into accidents, speed more, drive drunk and have twice as many fatal crashes as women.  A World Health Organization study says that masculinity may be hazardous to health. 

The Female Brain

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 Is there such a thing as the female brain?  Is that why women go to the bathroom in packs? 

Male brain and female brain look the same at birth.  Female is nature’s default setting.  Only after a surge of testosterone do the boy’s brain begin to look male. 

Right out of the womb, the girl is already better at reading faces and hearing human vocal tones.  For the next two years, the girl’s ovaries will pump adult levels of estrogen.  From six to nine months, the boy’s testicles will be flooded with adult levels of testosterone. 

You can tell a boy, “Don’t touch that,” over and over and they won’t listen.  There’s also a difference at the way girls and boys play with each other.  Girls are much more collaborative.  Boys are much more aggressive.  They don’t want to share.  The biological reason is the brain wiring. 

Animal studies allowed scientists to map human emotions and gender differences.  Areas for emotional memory and communication are larger in the female brain and this perhaps explains why women remember fights and men insist they never happened. 

Women use 20,000 words a day. Men use 7,000. 

At puberty, there is an explosion of hormonal surge as the teen girl brain emerges.  These hormones dramatically reorganize her circuits driving the way she thinks, feels, acts and even obsesses about her looks.  Studies show that surges of estrogen trigger her need to be sexually desirable to boys.  The male brain reorganizes too.  It is flooded with testosterone and he becomes absorbed in sexual fantasies and the need to masturbate. 

Girls mature faster than boys.  Girls’ brains are two years ahead during puberty.  Boys usually catch up in their late adolescence or early 20’s.  Boys think about sex every 52 seconds, girls, a few times a day.  It takes longer for boys to make sense of their emotions. 

When it comes to sex, boys take the lead or their brains do.  The amygdala, the part of the brain that controls sex, is twice as large in males.  The hippocampus, the part that controls emotions, is twice larger in girls. 

Why do girls go to the bathroom in groups? 

There’s a hormone that is released when girls are more intimate with each other, like talking.  The oxytocin is a hormone that is released in the brain that’s kind of a feel good hormone.  That hormonal rush gives them pleasure.   The same rush as drug addicts get from taking cocaine.  

What about sex?  Women need to be in the mood.  And men say they don’t get enough. 

Read about the Brainwork Behind Sex here.

February 12, 2007 at 11:39 pm 36 comments

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