Sunday, December 23, 2012

A joyful performance of the Christmas Story

Here is an uplifting performance of the story of the baby Jesus's birth, by a young group of children in Auckland, New Zealand.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My personal favourite Christmas song - Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas is just about my personal favourite song at Christmas. If my memory serves me, I believe that one year in school we learned this song for our school Christmas concert. It is the song which tends to hum along in my head as I do errands, or walk outside, during the holiday season.

I believe in my heart I always feel a strong identification with the poor - I know that my father's family were forced off their land, in the time of famine, in Ireland, (The Fitzwilliam Estate) and emigrated from Ireland to Canada, in the middle 1850's, an experience countless Irish tenants experienced. In the past year or so, due to our amazing internet, I've seen the ship's registrar with the names, and ages of my great grandfather's family.

For a well researched, moving, and well written story based on the famine in Ireland, one can read  "My Dream of You", by Nuala O'Faolain. The story describes two women's experiences both in contemporary Ireland, and the country during the potato famine.

Hence, perhaps a sad frame of mind I've inherited, but also a tendency to support causes for justice and equality.

I am not sure if Good King Wenceslas was always so charitable, or this was just a moment for him. If you know more of the history, maybe you can share with me.  I believe he was not an Irish king, but a duke in Bohemia, but the song has a celtic feel to me.

However, really this is a very pretty song, and so I am choosing to share it today, although St. Stephan's Day is December 26, I believe.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We Three Kings of Orient Are - the song

I searched this evening for a recording of We Three Kings, and wasn't inclined to use one until I found Matthew's recording, back in 2009.Certainly, this is a unique recording. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An old Christmas carol

This video has just been posted at the music vlog, Rise Up Singing. It reminds me of some carols from my childhood. I enjoy Matthew's videos, so have chosen to post this. You might enjoy it as well.I like Matthew's informal, down to earth presentations, and he does have a wonderful musical talent.
I think I might just post some of my favourite Christmas songs for the days leading up to Christmas.
Do you have some favourite Christmas carols, or memories of singing from childhood?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Some ideas with recycled boxes, and a joyous Christmas song

My co-workers and I decided to focus on using recycled materials the past month, at the daycare center, and this was very successful. The ideas just kept developing the more we brought in boxes, paper tubes, and cans.
I thought it would be fun to share here some of the ideas we came up with.

I used a box for the children to pound golf tees into. They as well enjoyed just pushing the golf tees into the box, and alternately hammering on the box, without the tees. I knew this would be popular, as we had pounded golf tees into a pumpkin at Halloween. One of the children, who has trouble settling to things, and has little English, loved this activity, and she was the best and most accurate at pounding the tees.

We had a surplus of small, individually sized playdough containers from Halloween, which the children loved stacking, and as well dumping. I thought it might be fun to make a small sorting box. I just cut holes into the top of this box, which would allow the kids to fit them in, and as well I cut a hole into the lid of the coffee can that the containers could just be dropped into.
One infant, loved this activity, and stayed with this for up to 40 minutes at a time, quietly placing the playdough containers in the box, and taking them out.
The coffee can served double duty, as the children had painted them first. Coffee cans are always fun, and when I first brought them into the room, the children immediately started to use them as drums, hitting them with wooden spoons. I like these particular cans because they have a rounded lip on the inside so there is no sharp edge.
The cans were also popular for filling and dumping - a big interest for toddler aged children.

Here is a diaper box, which the children and I decorated with bubble wrap. It was used to throw balls into; to climb in; to put stuffed toys in; and here a child has put her doll to bed (you may notice the dolls dress at the bottom) - she is covering the box with a receiving blanket.

Bubble wrap is also a fun material for these children to explore. We taped some onto the floor and the children walked on it with their bare feet, and rolled on it, as well as driving cars on it.

I really think that using boxes and other recycled materials allows so much more creative possibilities than some toys, and allows the children to use their imaginations. Daycare workers have traditionally relied on recycled materials, partly out of necessity due to shoestring budgets, and partly because of the fun of making "something from nothing".

I like this use for a milk carton made by one of my co-workers. It was fun for filling and dumping as well as to hold the cars, in her recycle center.

It has taken me a period of adjustment to appreciate the interests of toddlers. I have primarily worked with a slightly older group of children. But I am now more patient with what may look to be clutter, and "mess", to see that this is what toddlers need to do. Theoretically I knew that their play was more open-ended, but now I am comfortable with it.

I was searching for some favourite Christmas music yesterday, and remembered a cassette I'd always enjoyed by Rita McNeil. Paul seemed to know I would enjoy this. He gave it to me for Christmas one year. She is a Canadian singer, from Cape Breton, and is enormously popular as an entertainer. Her voice is strong, and joyful, and I love this song, "Now the Bells Ring". She may have retired somewhat, I think, as I haven't heard her music lately. She is a true star, and a Canadian gem.

Well, I would like to quickly edit here, I did more research, and Rita, is not retired, and has a new cd, "Saving Grace", out this year, as well as performing at a Christmas concert series this season.

Wishing you a good week ahead!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Preparing for the Christmas season

I have taken a long weekend for myself, and am enjoying spending this Friday morning at a more relxed pace, than I have for the past month or so. Although I am loving my new job, I have been very tired with my long days of commuting.I tend to spend the weekends, rushing around doing errands, and so haven't really felt rested.

So this next four days are a small treasure - the weather is marvelous, with a blue sky, and the sun sparkling on the snow.

Some tasks I have set myself, are to go through the storage room, and sort abit; to clean the apartment for my son's visit this Christmas; to write some Christmas cards; to work on some handmade crochet gifts for Christmas; to shop abit; and to go for some walks.

The storage room is shared with my fellow 5 tenants, and every now and then we discuss needing to organize, and possibly winnow. When I moved in two and a half years ago, I had so many boxes, some I ended up putting in my lower kitchen cupboards - lovely family china from Mom, and my grandmother, AND great grandmother; craft supplies from work; saved artwork from Paul's childhood; so this weekend, I hope to do something to downsize.

I'll be walking with a good friend, and past co-worker - she and I share a special bond, because we discovered that we not only share the same birthdate, but were born in the same hospital just hours apart. So therefor we must have been in the nursery together, and possibly our parents crossed tracks while in the hospital. This feels like a small marvel, to have run into one another over 55 years later, and to also like each other very much indeed.

Over the past two weeks I'd been finding myself overcome with feelings of loss and sadness, and dreading the Christmas season - but even after my first good night's sleep I am reminding myself of the good things in my life, and to be grateful. Maybe when we let ourselves become abit rundown, we all tend to see the glass as "half empty" rather than "half full". I have so much to be thankful for - a good job, good boss, and co-workers; a wonderful, caring son; good friends; a safe, and comfortable home; to live in a country with safe streets, and abundance; the opportunity to meet friends all around the world through the internet, and blogging; good books to read; and of course my two furry companions - Herb, and Art.

The young women I work with have been playing a Christmas cd, almost nonstop, at work, by Sarah McLaughlin, so now I carry the tunes around with me in my head. Some of the songs are so beautiful, although I must say, I find hearing the songs over and over again feels overly repetitive. However, I also can remember that when I was in my 20's I listened to a certain Joni Mitchell album constantly too. :)

I found some of the songs from this cd, called Winter Wonderland, by Sarah , on Youtube, so thought I might share a lovely version of The First Noel here.

Have a great weekend where you are. Hugs!