Monthly Archives: May 2007

Scratch: computer programming for kids

Scratch logo

In my other, “non-Dad” life I work in the field of Educational Technology at a post-secondary institution. Last week I was away at an EdTech conference and learned about a fun new tool called Scratch.

Aimed at budding geeks between 8-16 and developed by M.I.T., Scratch is a simple computer programming language and development environment that kids are using to create their own computer applications. In their own words:

As young people create projects in Scratch, they learn many of the 21st century skills that will be critical to success in the future: thinking creatively, communicating clearly, analyzing systematically, using technologies fluently, collaborating effectively, designing iteratively, learning continuously.

There are some fun applications being built by kids using Scratch, like the very trippy Bloing Gloing to classic games like a Scratch version of Tetris.

If you’ve got a budding programmer in your family, check out Scratch.

Video by The Onion – For Kids by Kids

The Onion rocks. And now that they have added video, they’ve turned up the volume to 11.

Gap Unveils New ‘For Kids By Kids’ Clothing Line

“When your child is the least loveable, he needs the most love.”

I love reading Dad blogs. It may sound obvious, but I don’t know how many times I have found like minded people struggling with, or who have struggled through, the same issues I am dealing with. This week, two blog posts really hit home for me.

We have been having such a struggle with The Girl lately. Everyday seems to end up in tears for someone in this family, and she is usually the unlucky recipient. Both Mom and I have been short with her, and our tempers flair pretty easily.

I won’t dwell on the details, but suffice to say she is going through some stuff. Probably not unlike most of the stuff a 3 1/2 year old with a new sibling goes through, but we can’t help to think that she is more sensitive to the world around her, and as a result her reactions to things are more intense.

I was so happy to read I have highly sensitive Okapis at Two Okapis. So much of that piece sounds like us right now, and he helped give our sensitive child theory some context as part of the piece deals with some research and theories about highly sensitive people.

High sensitivity really comes from a highly attuned nervous system. The best example I read was that when an average child walks into a room they see the room, the people and maybe the furniture. But when a highly sensitive child walks into the same room, they notice the people, the room and the furniture, but they also notice the details of the room, the mood of the room, the mood and feelings of all of the people and it can be overwhelming. It is why they might be afraid of large groups or feel “shy.” It is likely they are not shy as much as overwhelmed by all of the stimuli they have been receiving.

That is The Girl.

One recent concrete example of this perceptiveness happened last weekend. We went to watch her cousin play rugby and, somehow through all the scrums and flying body parts, from high atop the viewing stands, The Girl notices one of the girls on the field wearing a yellow Lance Armstrong bracelet. It took me a few moments to find it. I couldn’t see anything. Somehow she managed to zoom in on this minute detail. She is like that and, like Two Okapis, I sometimes forget that. The Girl experiences life at a higher level of detail than most and that in itself has to be overwhelming. I need to cut her some more slack.

The second post was from Paul Abra over the the Island Parent blog, who reminded me that:

On occasion we, as parents, find ourselves exasperated with the behaviour of our sons or daughters. During a temper tantrum in a store or being mean to a sibling. Whatever the situation, however “rotten” the behaviour, we must somehow overcome our frustration or anger and show our unconditional love for the child. Often when we’re dealing with difficult children, they and we lose the sight of the fact that we love them.

Too true. Thanks Dad bloggers. You guys really help me keep it all in perspective.

Eczema, allergies and Mom takes one for the team

I wrote a few weeks ago that the eczema on The Boy’s skin was getting out of control. Well, after meeting with a pediatrician and getting some blood work done, it looks like the final verdict is allergies. Just a few.


Wow. This is gonna change a few things.

Being exclusively breastfed means that Mom has had to, um, alter her diet a tad to bring it in line with our new reality, which is going to be tough. Rice is her best friend, at least for the next 2 weeks until she gets so sick of the stuff that she starts firebombing Chinese restaurants out of spite.

The good news is that 80% of babies will grow out of most of the allergies (the one exception is peanuts, which is around 20%), so hopefully this is not something that will continue much past his third birthday. And, with a diet that will consist of virtually no processed foods, lots of fruit, veg and protein, chances are we will all eat a little bit healthier because of it.

I’m in awe of my wife. Not once has she even considered that she would stop breastfeeding, knowing full well that breastfeeding is one of the best things she can do to give The Boy a fighting chance and help him grow out of all this. She has decided that the temporary inconvenience of giving up cheese, milk, bread, soy, ice cream, *insert any favorite food here* is minor compared to the benefits of breastfeeding.

It actually seems fitting that this is all happening around Mothers Day. After all, Mothers Day is when we celebrate all those unselfish acts that Mom undertook on our behalf to make us better people. And my wife is living it right now. And I’m very proud of her.

Where are all the Dads?

Just got around to reading some back issues of Dads and Daughters newsletter, and came away a bit stunned by the tidbit that, of all the research studies child psychology researchers have done in the past 8 years, only two percent of them studies published were devoted exclusively to fathers while 45 percent of those studies were devoted exclusively to mothers. The rest researched both mother and fathers.

Now, I’m not up on all the latest academia reports in pediatric psychology, but it goes without saying that, even to a lay person like me, that two percent number is shockingly low.

Perhaps some of the confusion comes from the fact that academics can’t even decide what a father is, or how to define that role.

(University of South Florida’s Dr. Vicky) Phares noted the irony of commonly being asked to define “father” in her research writing and presentations, although never being asked to define “mother.” It appears that the role of the mother is assumed to be filled by the primary caretaking biological mother for most children, whereas the role of the father might be filled by any number of male individuals, such as the biological father (who may or may not live with the child), the stepfather (who may or may not live with the child), or a father-figure (such as the mother’s boyfriend, an uncle, or a grandfather – any of whom may or may not live with the child). Thus, the question is a legitimate one, but it also conveys a lack of consensus about how to define fathers currently.

So, it’s pretty hard to study the effects of a father if you don’t even know who the fathers are.

The article the D&D newsletter refers to is is entitled Are Fathers Involved in Pediatric Psychology Research and Treatment and was a joint study between the University of South Florida and Yale University School of Medicine.

CTV looking for Dads

Got an email from Heather Sherman, a producer for CTV. Heather is working on a series on dads and is looking for some dads to talk to. Specifically, they are looking for stay at home dads, ideally with twins or triplets.

Not many more details than that, but I’ve emailed Heather and said she can flesh out a few more details in the comment section here, so hopefully she will post a few more specifics about what they are doing here.

If you are interested, you can contact Heather at CTV. Her phone number is (416) 332 7483 and email hsherman at

I’m expecting a knock on the door from Child Protection any day now…

Last night while Mom and I were making dinner, The Girl fell asleep on the couch, rolled over, fell off the couch and whacked her head on the corner of the coffee table. She now has a big blue goose egg in the middle of her forehead, to go along with the nasty scar above her right eye caused by her little incident last weekend.

I read somehwere that every 6 months kids go through an emotional and physical development burst where they suddenly become uncoordinated and their emotions get out of control. It’s as if they regress a bit and their body needs to get back on track for the next burst of growth and development. I can certainly concur with that, considering the past 2 weeks we have had with The Girl. Not only has she been clumsy, but emotionally she has been a mess. We’ve had uncontrollable bursts of emotion almost everyday for the past 2 weeks and her behaviour swings so extremely that I am beginning to wonder if the word “toddler” isn’t Latin for bipolar.

We interupt this blog for a juice break

Looks like my plea for more free swag to review paid off!

Dan at TrueBlue Blueberry Juice fired off some free samples to us. We got it, chilled it up and slurped it back in a couple of days. Verdict from all of us? Super yummy.

One of the blend varieties Dan sent us was a Blueberry/Blackberry blend that was a real hit. We’re Blackberry pickers, and spend a few days each August picking and freezing the berries. My wife’s hoarding tendencies actually turn her into a bit of a crack the whip berry bitch each August, but I digress. Getting the blackberry blend was a nice bonus.

My wife is kicking around a summer cocktail idea with it…vodka, crushed ice and the blackberry/blueberry juice. She calls it a Black n’ Blue. There are a few recipes on their website that look quite tasty, including this Blueberry Savoury Vinaigrette that would be great on a summer salad.

The only downside is that the juice has added sugar – cane sugar, mind you, but still added sugar. We’ve been very careful about giving sugar fruit juices to the girl. At 3, she has enough manic energy without having to give an extra dose of sugar in her drinks. But we cut her juice with water, so that helps.

If you want to try it, you can download a $1 off coupon from their website.

Now, I’m just hoping someone from DIRECTV reads this, realizes I can give them a free plug to 12 readers and decides to send me a demo of this so I can watch these guys while sitting on the beach. With a Black n’ Blue in my hand, natch.