Great fun

“Childhood is a short season.”    ~Helen Hayes

“When we protect children from every possible source of danger, we also prevent them from having the kinds of experiences that develop their sense of self-reliance, their ability to assess and mitigate risk, and their sense of accomplishment.”    ~Gever Tulley

My sisters and I shared wonderful experiences in the 1970’s. This was a decade where children could be free. When the sounds, tastes and smells were wonderful with a heightened sense of joy. We did not have parents or grand parents running after us, urging caution. We were not fearful or worried. We skipped and jumped for the pure delight of it.

Maybe I was lucky to have an unusual family. Perhaps bordering on being hippies? Maybe my parents were too young to know better. But somehow, by luck or by sheer cleverness, we managed through without any serious injuries. In fact, we thrived.

I can remember, so often, being told to “go play”. Which, (I now know from being a Mother), was also code for “leave me alone for 5 minutes”.  But, we didn’t know that then. We took the directive to heart. Go play, have fun, be children. Do what kids do best, live in the moment.

Child_Duck

Imagine the joy of riding on a plastic duck?

Children_fire_marshmallowsChildren_camp chairs

Standing free and clear on those old school camp chairs? Cooking your own marshmallows over a fire?

Child_axe

Have you ever cracked open peanuts with the back of a hatchet?

Children_merry go round

Planting your feet to keep from sliding off the merry-go-round?

Children_trampoline

Trampolines with no cages around them?

Children_Slide

A slide that was 4 times as big as you?

I guess we weren’t the only family who experienced the 1970’s in this way:

Creativity

“Creativity, as has been said, consists largely of rearranging what we know in order to find out what we do not know.  Hence, to think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.”  ~George Kneller

“Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future.”   ~James Bertrand

After I bought tickets for the LEGO movie yesterday, I started doing a little research about the LEGO company. Other than selling online, (finally) and having a few small stores in Canada, we are still a long way from Denmark.

First I found The LEGO Foundation. After poking around there for a while, I watched a great talk by the foundation’s CEO Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary. She describes what happens to creativity as we age. As we progress through school, we become very focused on finding “one” answer, (presumably the correct answer), to standardized tests. Our brains begin to mold towards these repeated expectations and our creativity levels decline. By age 25, we are pretty much the opposite of where we were at age 3, in terms of creativity. What a shame.

LEGO Foundation

Our modern world tends to marginalize people who are creative. They are artist types. Occupations in the arts are not considered serious ways to spend your time. Most companies, who employ most of the workforce, do not honour and foster creativity or creative thinking. Chief Creative Officers are typically found in organizations who sell a creative-based product such as advertising agencies, design studios, etc.

There are many programs available, (guest speakers, seminars, conferences, etc.) where companies can help foster creativity. One of them is LEGO Serious Play. Facilitator’s use LEGO brick sets to enhance innovation, which leads to increased productivity. This seems like an extremely interesting way to spend some time, both as the participant and the facilitator. Can you imagine having that job?

LSP-starter-kit

Then I stumbled across LEGO Education. OK, this was not offered when I was a kid. There are classroom packs designed to enhance core learning across a variety of subjects and home school versions. As we embark on a new chapter in education for our son, (Eaton Arrowsmith School), we will be looking for new ways to enhance his learning.

LEGO_2013

I guess timing is everything. Just as we took in all this new information yesterday, then watched the movie, our dedication to creativity, (specifically through LEGO play), was ramped up a notch. Our house is getting some renovations this Spring & Summer. Part of that is moving the Master Bedroom and a re-purpose of the small room off the dining room/kitchen. We had planned for a library/sitting room. After yesterday, there needs to be a build table and room for LEGO. This will be a family affair. Creativity will live and thrive here.

P.S. the movie was awesome. It inspired the sound I love to hear…the tinkling of LEGO bricks as a creative mind searches for the next piece. (I’m not telling who it was, it is a snowy Sunday day here)

11 years

She likes to listen to her birth story. The tale of how she was almost born on our front steps. Well not really, but it makes for good dramatic effect. And it was a little tight getting to the hospital which was only 20 blocks away. There was also the bit about being delivered by nurses. The doctor didn’t make it across the hospital, which is only 3 floors tall. Apparently, nobody believed she was going to be born, that quickly.

That was just the first of many interesting characteristics which have helped define my daughter. She is extremely independent, yet fiercely loyal. She tends to talks non-stop, which would indicate thoughts are coming and going, yet she can pull a single promise out of conversation and remember it forever. She possesses great self-confidence in most areas, including skiing down a hill, but no matter how many times we load the chair lift, she is sure the next time she will fall.

A girl of contradictions, hard to pin down and categorize. She walks to her own beat. I remember being her age, forging my way in the world. We are similar, yet different. Appropriate, I think.

Speed

When did my little baby turn into the young man who could confidently launch himself into a 40 degree pitch of knee deep snow and accelerate to 70km per hour? Then sustain that intensity for the better part of 6 kilometers? And hike for 475 steps along a ridge to get there in the first place. Enjoying every bit of it.

As a parent it is amazing to watch how he has transformed. As predicted, it happened so fast. Like the speeds he was reaching in the Tayton Bowl, time has sped by just the same. We have these little snap shots to record the moments – the go pro video, some iPhone photo’s, the app which gives us the stats, the facts. It is the feeling of being there, present in the moment, burning it into my memory. The taste of poutine, classic rock and exposed wooden beams in the chalet will always be associated with skiing, my family, my children, the most important people in my life.

My son has years of skiing adventures ahead of him. His path will twist and turn along the highs and lows. His passion and dedication will carry him along. I’ll be waiting at the bottom of the run to hear the stories of adventure from his journey.

Fast friends

There was an 11 year old girl in grade 5 who met my daughter on our ski vacation this past week. It was an instant connection. All they shared was tied up into numbers and gender. These criteria are virtually meaningless when it comes to adults becoming friends, but to a child on vacation we are talking fast friends.

It makes me wonder, why can’t adults accept each other as easily as children can? What have we lost in our ability to find similarities to spin a conversation around? The instant communication turns to shared activities, (a.k.a. play), and then a friendship is formed. Just like that.

There is no need for further investigation, what kind of job do you have, where do you live, who are your other friends, do we think alike in most ways. Children take things at face value. 5 minutes ago I had no friends, now I have one. Simple. Easy. Great day!

My daughter skied with her new friend and treated her with a gentle kindness you would expect from old friends. That is a good thing, the ability to live in the moment. Be present, be happy with what is happening now, be open to new experiences.

I’m not sure if this new friend will be in my daughters life for a long time, but my daughter will always remember meeting her and enjoying her company on this family ski trip. This is a special gift unto itself.

Winter wind

As the wind howls outside tonight, I am taken back to the poems of Dennis Lee from Alligator Pie. It was probably about 1977 when I first came across this book. The combination of kooky illustrations and rhythmic prose provided hours of entertainment, old school style. We stared at the drawing, read and re-read the words, it all making a little more sense each time. It might be days or weeks until you spoke to a friend about the book, if at all. These were quiet times, except when the wind blew.

Bed Song

When the wind is blowing hard,
Like a giant in the yard,
I’m glad my bed is warm;
I’m glad my bed is warm.

When the rain begins to rain,
Like a giant with a pain,
I’m glad my bed is warm;
I’m glad my bed is warm.

When the snowstorm starts to howl,
Like a giant in a towel,
I’m glad my bed is warm,
I’m glad my bed is warm.

And when the giants realise,
That no one’s scared of their disguise,
They go to bed and close their eyes.

They’re glad their beds are warm;
They’re glad their beds are warm.

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Ullr the god of snow

It might be our last journey along the Crowsnest Highway from Cranbrook to Vancouver. At least our last unplanned trek, in the winter. If you look at the map, it is a twisty tour through Southern BC, with short stretches where your forward progress is completely opposite of your intended heading. In the winter, it is a frozen land with little reason to stop along the way. Not much traffic to contend with, but an eerie feeling of isolation at times through the snowy glades.

What makes for great driving conditions in the winter, does not make for great skiing. In the last 8 years of this family ski vacation, we have pretty much experienced all the different types of weather. Dry roads with speedy progress through the mountain passes to black ice which could send you off a cliff in the blink of an eye. When the roads are covered in snow, the plows can’t keep up and the fluffy white stuff keeps falling, it is time to slow down, take it easy and be thankful for the fresh powder on the ski hill.

This year, skiing was as good as it gets. Big overnight dumps, fresh powder in the morning, blue bird days and heavy snow days, blanketing the runs while we ate lunch. Ullr was smiling down on us, but it was not without sacrifice. A single ski lays somewhere outside the extremely large hole dug in the snow searching. A gift to Ullr, at least until Spring.

Over the years our children have grown tall and become very good skiers. We have come together as a family to enjoy one of the sports that best celebrates Winter. We have learned to respect the danger of winter driving while enjoying the fun that comes with snow accumulation at high altitudes. These are just a few of the perks, living in a Nordic country like Canada.