Surf's up -
It'll only be a few more weeks before strings of lights and pinecones and sugar cookies, and countless other elements of Christmas, find their way into our homes.
In the weeks leading up to the season, parents of young children may want to stock up on a little extra construction paper, glue and string. Now that it's dark in the evenings and often unpleasant to play outdoors, it's a great time to keep the kids occupied with projects that can keep their fingers busy, and produce some holiday-ready treats, too.
Kids Craft Weekly
From Australia comes this terrific site, loaded with ideas of things kids can and will want to take on. Earlier this week, my son agreed to an interesting challenge: he'll make 10 Christmas cards, and will send them out to kids around the world. In return, he hopes to receive as many homemade cards from children living in other countries.
While that particular project had a deadline that has just passed, there's plenty else to do, for any day of the year. If you are looking for something holiday-related, check out the Christmas cards, which use household materials but elegant designs. That's just the start; scratch the surface and you'll find plenty of projects, often with printables that kids and parents can take to the living room floor or kitchen table. How easy are the projects? Put it this way: I could make most of this stuff, and without a kid to help me, too.
The Crafty Crow
For additional ideas, try out this blog, which aims to find rewarding things for kids of all ages to do. The links come from sites all over the web, with ideas on drawing projects, printable crafts, felt, homemade lanterns ... the list goes on and on.
Toys of the year
The Canadian Toy-Testing Council released its recommendations for the year earlier this week. The council has established a lot of credibility for more than 55 years for picking toys that avoid the flash and glamour, and go for steadier, sturdier qualities that appeal to kids and parents alike. This year's recommendations underscore the comeback of that living room staple, the board game. You can find it all here on the council's site - which, incidentally, is sorely in need of an upgrade.
Aviva Community Fund
Insurance giant Aviva has tapped into social networking as a way to drum up interest in submissions for its $500,000 community fund. I became aware of it when an old friend sent out a note for support for her pet project, a bid to clean up the grounds at Frank Roberts Junior High and Queen Elizabeth Senior High, in Foxtrap. It's one of many projects across the country competing for a share of the fund. The competition is now in its third round, which winds up next week. Click on the map for a look at other close-to-home projects in contention.
Travel With the Olympic Torch
Vancouver 2010 Torch Relay
Plenty of people across the province had a chance to see the Olympic torch relay in action last week, including yours truly. Did you know there's a YouTube channel of highlights of the cross-country journey? Log on to see reporter Chris Wheeler's piece on St. John's, among other selected stops. You can also see the videos at the 2010 torch relay site, not to mention other features, including photos from many of the legs.
Oxford University Press picked "unfriend" as its word of 2009, with this definition: "To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook." OUP cited the word as being very contemporary (and it is that) as well as displaying some potential for sticking around for years to come.
Unfriending can be cold, but it can also be practical, especially when you find someone you don't know very well overposts or is just tedious. I wonder if the word, and the action, will extend to more direct human contacts.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: @johngushue.