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Friday, February 27, 2015

International Women's Day: March 8th


 
International Women's Day

I grew up with a mom who is a feminist.  I was taught that gender equality is extremely important and that culture, not biology sets limits on women's capabilities.  My mother always told me to be financially self-sufficient.  I never remember her telling me to get married and have kids.  She wanted me to use my mind and have a positive influence on the world. 

Ironically, when I was studying sociology as an undergrad, I became far more interested in socioeconomic status and how that influences individual freedom and choices.  Of course, socioeconomic status and gender are inextricably intertwined.

Later on, in my studies the impact of gender roles and cultural stereotypes returned as central players in many of the psychological and sociocultural issues I was examining.  There is no doubt that inequality and antiquated gender stereotypes are still hanging on, far more than I would have expected in 2015.

Sure a lot has changed - women have now entered what were once traditionally male-dominated areas of the workforce, for example - but there is a lot that still needs to be changed.

Women are still valued as objects to be owned and controlled by men, and in Western culture, there are absurd expectations for us in terms of how we should look. Violence against women is still rampant.  These, and other issues, will be addressed on International Women's Day on March 8th.

If you want to learn more about how you can participate in this important day in your community, please visit this site.

Perhaps because I have two daughters, I have never felt a greater desire to see positive change continue for women.  Please get involved! 

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Club

The Boston Girl

I started a book club!

Given what an avid reader I am, I can't believe it took me so long to do so.

My friend suggested The Boston Girl as our first read.  Although we don't meet until the end of March, I already finished it.  It's very good. It basically tells the life story of Addie, a Jewish woman, born in 1900 and growing up in Boston.  It is narrated by Addie as an 85-year-old woman sharing the details with her granddaughter.

It was a timely read for me because Adam and I are taking a trip to Boston in May - it will be my first time there ever - and I always love learning about the history of the place I am visiting.  There isn't tons of historical info about the city, but it certainly gives the story context.

While I enjoyed this book, I wouldn't say I LOVED it, but I don't know why.  Perhaps once we discuss it as a group the reason for my reticence will be illuminated.

Oh, but Anita Diamant's previous novel, The Red Tent, which I read years ago, is absolutely fabulous!!  Happy reading.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Grain Brain...Insane!

low carb funny

I am the first to admit that I used to be a total carb addict.  Oatmeal, brown rice, pasta...I couldn't live without it...and probably ate way more than I should have...at every sitting.  If a proper serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup, then I probably ate 5 servings in a single meal!  I never saw this as a problem since I was firmly entrenched in the 90s low-fat trend.  I kinda laugh at my diet back then, which was not only really high in carbs, but also refined sugar. I used to bake a ton of fat-free baked goods that had tons and tons of sugar.  They were delicious!  But now I realize, they were not really that healthy.

I probably got away with this without any repercussions because I was young, I always ate whole grains, and because I have always been so physically active.  But, interestingly, as I have increasingly shifted away from endurance exercise towards strength training, I've started craving carbs less and protein more.  I have also followed the research very carefully and while there is no evidence we need to completely ELIMINATE grains and carbs from our diet, there is growing evidence that we should limit them.  Both quality and quantity count.

My carb-iest meal is always breakfast, because I can't live without my massive bowl of oatmeal, but then I try not to overdo carbs as much as I used to.  I adore shirataki noodles, sweet potatoes and squash, and am happy to switch out rice for cauliflower 'rice' most of the time.  Surprisingly, I don't miss all the carbs.  But when I want bread, tortillas or regular pasta or brown rice, I eat it.  There is still plenty of research linking the consumption of WHOLE grains to positive health outcomes.

Aside from Dr. Mercola, the other guy I think is a hack is David Perlmutter, who wrote Grain Brain, which garnered so much attention a few years ago.  Perlmutter, who at least is an actual MD, claims that blood sugar is linked with dementia, and while this is true, its not solely carbs that are to blame.  Carrying around extra body fat causes high blood sugar levels, regardless of what foods were consuming to create the excess pounds.  Any diet, regardless of ratio of carbs to fat to protein, that leads to weight loss, will help decrease blood sugar levels.  And science disputes Perlmutter's recommendations of replacing carbs with saturated fat.  In fact, saturated fat is bad for your brain too!  In addition, Perlmutter's claims that gluten is bad for your brain, is also full of shit.  Some celiacs can sometimes experience related neurological problems, but this is rare and individuals not sensitive to gluten do not need to worry.

If you are still buying into Perlmutter's bullshit, feel free to pick up The Centre for Science in the Public Interest's Health Action Newsletter for Jan/Feb 2015, where they explain the way he has misconstrued all the data on the grain-brain link.

In sum, I would say the only foods that can be eaten without limit are non-starchy veggies.  Go ahead, eat all you want!  But pretty much everything else can be overdone...even the healthiest, whole grain carbs, so make sure you are eating an appropriate amount of servings for your individual needs.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bob's Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook


If you are at all nutrition-conscious, then you are probably familiar with Bob's Red Mill products.

They carry a wide array of whole grains, flours, baking mixes and cereals. I've been buying them for years and am a big fan.

When I was approached about reviewing this cookbook, I eagerly agreed.

I actually thought all the recipes would be using their all-purpose gluten-free flour blend, which I have not purchased before, but it actually does not.  It contains a wide array of recipes from salads to mains, to desserts, using many different gluten-free flour and grains from their product line, including millet, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, sorghum, etc.

This impressed me because I often find gluten-free recipes are anything but healthy and nutritious since they often use nothing but white rice flour, tapioca and potato starch to replace other flours.  These are low nutrition, low fibre products which I try to avoid.

The book begins with a section introducing the various types of grains and flours, and how best to use and store them.

It then has the following recipe chapters:

Breakfasts
Soups, Stews and Chilis
Salads and Sides
Meatless Main Dishes
Seafood, Poultry and Meat Main Dishes
Breads, Muffins and Snacks
Desserts

The recipes sound amazing and are interesting and inventive like, Cardamom Amaranth Granola, Mushroom and Sorghum Frittata, Avocado, Orange and Millet Salad, Edamame and Ginger Stir-Fried Quinoa, Chocolate Snowball Cookies, and (vegan) Chocolate Truffle Pie.

The author, Camilla V. Saulsbury, does use potato starch in some recipes, but mostly good quality, whole grains and flours are used.  She also has cane sugar in a lot of the recipes, which I would swap out for coconut sugar, stevia, xylitol or erythritol (i.e. sweeteners that don't spike blood sugar). 

Recipe pages do not have photos, but there are several sections of pictures featuring particular recipes, that are colourful and attractive.

Although the book is not strictly vegetarian or vegan, there is the Meatless Main Dishes chapter, and many of the baked goods, desserts and salads are vegan.  The main dishes with seafood, poultry and meat, could be modified to be vegetarian or vegan if need be.

Overall, I think this is a great book for someone who needs to avoid gluten and is looking to create  delicious and diverse meals that won't leave you feeling deprived.  Remember, gluten-free is not inherently healthy, refined sugar and flours are still unhealthy, even if they are gluten-free.  But eating a healthy, delicious and satisfying gluten-free diet is possible, this book is proof!

Disclosure: The publisher sent me this book, but all the opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Healthy Candy?


Its Monday!  Its freezing!

...at least the sun is shining.

So, this product news might just sweeten up your day.

Just about every packaged food product these days tries to make health claims.  Most is bullshit.  Just because something is organic, low-fat, has a tiny bit of whole grains, is gluten-free, cholesterol-free, etc., doesn't mean its healthy!

A trip to the grocery store with the kids involves me saying "No" at least a hundred times, particularly to Big A, who wants to try every single cracker, cookie, snack food, and breakfast cereal out there because she is a total sugar/carb addict.  Most of the crap on the shelves these days makes me shudder.

So I was pleasantly surprised when dragging Little A down an aisle the other day and found a product I was truly impressed with: Pocket Treats. 

It was in the candy aisle, of all places, and Little A immediately started asking if I would buy them.   I actually said, "Yes." 

They are made by U Be Livin Smart, the company that makes the Karmaffins I reviewed a few years ago.  Unfortunately, I wasn't so impressed with those.  Impressive ingredient list yes, taste was meh.

Anyways, here is the ingredient list:

Patented Blend (Whey Protein Isolate, Banana, Apple, Cranberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Pomegranate, Orange), Honey, Apple Juice Concentrate, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Natural Flavour.

Hmm...not bad for a packaged candy!

Now don't get me wrong, the best snacks are things that come directly from the earth like fresh fruits and veggies and nuts.  But if your kids are like mine, they want TREATS and all things considered these are definitely better than most!  They are also individually wrapped which discourages mindless munching.  And how do they taste?  Yummy! The girls both loved them. 

Good work U Be Livin Smart!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Near Miss...

Hexing while driving.

The weirdest thing happened on Wednesday:

I heard Little A calling me from her bed and when I went  to get her the first thing she said was, "Mommy, I don't want you to die." Huh? I didn't think much of it 'cause she often says weird things.

After dropping of the girls at school later that morning, I was walking home.  I started crossing a busy intersection near our house after the light turned green.  A moment later I looked up and the grill of a car was coming at me and was not stopping.  I literally had a few seconds where I thought the gig was up for me.  I was able to pull myself together and lurch out of the way but the car still hit my leg.  Fortunately I was not physically hurt but I was completely terrified and in shock.

The driver just drove right into me as he did a left turn, on my right of way!

The guy did stop, get out and apologize and said, "Sorry, I didn't see you." 

What?  That means he wasn't looking in the direction he was driving...at all!!  It was so bizarre.

I am not one for confrontations but I screamed and cursed at him...and then ran home.  I got home and started sobbing and shaking.  It all happened so quickly.  After the anger diminished, I got very scared and upset just thinking about what a close call it had been.

After the shock wore off, I felt incredibly lucky and grateful not to have been hurt. 

But I'll be honest, what terrifies me most is thinking about what would have happened if the girls had been with me.  If he hadn't seen me, he certainly wouldn't have seen them, and Little A is a loose cannon with no sense of danger.  She is known to scamper ahead into the street before we give her the okay.  I go cold just thinking about it.

Speaking of cold, a toddler in Toronto let himself out of his grandmother's house in the middle of the night a few days ago and was found hours later, frozen to death.  What a tragedy! The whole city is mourning.

I don't know about you, but this weekend I'm holding my kids tight and I might never let them go!

Stay warm and safe my friends.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Jillian MIchael's Killer Buns & Thighs: DVD Review

Jillian Michaels Killer Buns & Thighs
I really like Michael's two ab training DVDs, so when I spied her Killer Buns & Thighs in the sale bin at the mall, I couldn't resist.

I've never been able to get as much definition in my lower body as I have in my upper body, and that was then not helped much when I developed hamstring tendonitis after Little A was born. I ended up doing no weights for my lower body for a few years just to avoid aggravating it.

Now I can train lower body and have been really working on it, so I thought this would be a great way to shake up my routine a bit.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.

It has 3 levels, just like her Killer Abs DVD and you need weights and a step or chair for some of the exercises.

Level 1 was a bummer (pun intended!). I found it too easy and not very interesting.  Level 2 and 3 are fun and have a couple of cool moves, but really this was not the ass-kicking workout I was hoping for.  Nothing really got my heart rate up that much and some of the exercises are recycled from her ab DVDs which is kind of odd.  Like okay, you do use your lower half for dancing crabs, but not once, twice, she has supermans and those are primarily a lower back exercise.  Sure you engage your glutes a bit, but really, there are so many better ways to target glutes and thighs!

If you are an absolute beginner, then you will find this challenging.  But if you are a freakin' powerhouse like me (kidding!), then it might not push you as hard as you want.  You can, I should point out, add weight, or more weight to the exercises to bump up the intensity, which is what I did.  I think I will occasionally add in Levels 2 and 3 into my routine, but I don't see myself bothering with Level 1, I can do a better job of kicking my own ass.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahs!

Image result for winter blahs humor

It's cold.  Damn cold.  Its supposed to stay this was until March.  February sucks.

I agreed to go skating with Little A's kindergarten class today and man, I wish I hadn't!  Fortunately, its 'only' going to be -6 Celsius today, which is a heck of a lot warmer than its been.

My ugly, but warm Kamik winter boots have been looking so horrible from all the salt stains, and my vinegar trick wasn't working, that I finally threw them in the washing machine last night.  I wasn't sure what would happen, but they actually turned out great!  So at least I can wear them today without looking filthy.

While I am glad its a short week because of the holiday, its still going to be tough.  Adam is going away again for work, my work week is packed, my parents are coming, and next weekend is so crazy I'm having heart palpitations just thinking about it.

AT LEAST February is a short month!

Stay warm my friends...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Medieval Times: Event Review


 

There is definitely no shortage of things to do in Toronto, but sometimes it can be hard to come up with a new way to keep the kids entertained, especially in the dead of winter.

I was generously offered tickets for the family to Medieval Times in exchange for reviewing our experience.

I have to admit I hadn't really thought of taking the girls before, but I think it was the perfect time.  I don't think I would take kids younger than 4 or 5 and they are just the age to appreciate it.

The dinner theatre has a number of locations across the U.S. but Toronto is the only location in Canada.  Its down at Exhibition Place so accessible by public transport.  We drove because when we went, this past Sunday, it was quite possibly the coldest day of the year (-38 Celsius with windchill!) and parking was $11.00.

There are 1:30pm, 4:30pm and/or 7:30pm shows, depending what day you come.  Its recommended you come before show time so we got there at around 3:45pm for our 4:30pm show.  This gave us time to check out the horses in their stalls (the girls were, of course, most enthralled by the big piles of poop), and get drinks.  There are slushies for the kids and beer, wine and cocktails for the adults.  I happily guzzled the German beer they had on tap and got 2 reusable cups to take home.  The girls enjoyed fruit punch slushies in their plastic knight helmet cups.  The drinks are not included in admission/dinner price.

There are all sorts of tempting memorabilia to buy, like play swords, crowns, etc., which you can also check out before the show.

Once we were seated in the stadium (castle) the show began almost immediately as did the food service.

I had read online that you really come for the show, rather than the food, and I would concur.  Its perfectly edible but not fabulous.  We ordered 1 vegetarian meal so there was variety as I wasn't sure what our little picky ones would eat.  Big A, true to her carb-addict self, was happy to eat the garlic bread, potatoes and apple pie.  Little A ate her rib, mine, and Adam's along with the apple pie.  Adam thought the tomato soup was descent and actually preferred the veggie main course (rice and potatoes with beans and veggies, hot sauce served on the side) to anything else.  The veggie dinner also comes with hummus, pita and raw veggie sticks.  The portions are definitely big so there is no need to leave hungry.

I kind of expected the show to be like a play, but its more just pageantry with the horses and the jousting.  They do call it a tournament and that's what it was.

Competitive types will like that you are assigned a colour, and seated in the appropriate section, and then your group is represented by the corresponding knight.  You cheer for your own knight and jeer at the others.

I managed to catch one of the flowers our knight threw out into the audience, a real yellow carnation, which thrilled the girls.  Our knight also ended up being the victor, which was exciting.

I honestly wasn't sure what the girls would think of the show but they loved it.  Big A described it as 'awesome' and said she would love to go back.  Little A also said it was 'very entertaining'.

Adam and I also thought it was cute, although I have to say I found it a bit difficult to follow because I was dealing with the girls (like at one point I accidently spilled Little A's water, which led to lots of shrieking). 

I think its one of those things you have to do at least once with your kids.  I wouldn't bring babies or toddlers, but for kids 4 years old and up, its definitely a good way to spend an icy cold February afternoon!

A big thanks to Medieval Times for hosting us!!


Disclosure: We were provided with free admission, but all opinions on the blog are my own.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Family Day 2015


Thank goodness there is no Dumb Ass in our family!

Happy Family Day!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

POLAR BEAR MAKING SNOW VALENTINE FOR HIS SWEETIE

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and Monday is Family Day, so its going to be a long-weekend with lots of Family time.  Its also going to be obscenely cold...like its about -30 Celsius right now and its going stay like this all weekend.  So much for any outdoor activities!!

Its also a PD day for the girls, so they have one all day Valentine celebration, the lucky ducks.  This meant I was busy, along with a bit of help from Big A, and none from Little A, filling 40 little bags with cinnamon popcorn last night.  Sure it would have been easier to buy chocolate or lollipops, but since it pisses me off when the girls come home with candy, I didn't want to be that parent.  Note that they had their school Valentine's Day parties yesterday and both came home with candy, cookies and cupcakes.  Sigh!

I don't work tomorrow so its truly a long weekend for all of us.  Sunday we are going to Medieval Times, and Monday we have plans with friends.  Whatever happens, we will be trying to stay warm!!!

Have a happy love-filled weekend with lots of cuddles.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

G.H.Cretors Popcorn: Product Review

EVOO_4.4oz_0925

There aren't too many foods my kids are excited about that I am excited about serving them.  Popcorn is one exception.  Its a healthy, whole grain and relatively low in calories.

G.H. Cretors recently sent us their Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Simply Salted varieties to try.

I was anticipating that the girls wouldn't like the Olive Oil kind as it  really does smell and taste of olive oil, but to my surprise, it was a hit.  In fact, Big A claims its the best popcorn that she has EVER had!  She thinks its the most flavourful.  Whoa!!

I like that its organic, and non-GMO.  It is also certified gluten-free and Kosher.
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If you're a snacker but trying to manage your weight or maintain good health, popcorn is a great choice and G.H. Cretors provides some delicious and nutritious options.

Disclosure: We were provided with the products for free but all opinions on this blog are our own.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Healthy Valentine Love Bites



Do you celebrate Valentines Day or, like my parents when I was growing up, do you reject it as another way for chocolate and card companies to make money?

I was into it in my 20s, partly, I think, precisely because my parents wouldn't buy into it when I was growing up.  Adam and I would go out to a fancy restaurant each year and make it a celebration and I would usually buy chocolates and wine for us to indulge in...I don't think we've done any of that since we've had kids.  In fact, Adam has been away travelling for work for the last bunch of Valentines Days. 

Although he's here this year we have no grand plans.  I will just try to find a nice meal to prepare for us on Saturday.  Also, I concocted these little gems, which proved to be a big hit with the whole family.

Nothing like giving the people you love something that will make their tummies and their hearts happy, huh?

These are so super simple to make and really yummy.  They are also sugar-free, vegan, gluten and grain-free. 

You can roll them in cocoa powder, coconut or chopped nuts, but my girls aren't big on any of those things, so I left them plain.  The dough is sticky but if you moisten your hands a bit, they are much easier to roll.

Health Valentine Love Bites

100g bag roasted chestnuts
1 cup prunes (make sure they are soft)
1 cup dried cranberries (preferably juice-sweetened)
1 cup stevia for baking (that measures like sugar)
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Place chestnuts in food processor and pulse until ground to crumbs.  Add dried fruit and pulse until dough becomes a ball.  Add stevia and cocoa powder and pulse again until incorporated. 

Roll dough into small balls, roll in cocoa, coconut or nuts, if desired, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Chill until firm.  Makes 20-22 Love Bites.  Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

I have included this recipe in Urban Naturale's Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Blog Hop.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Good Moringa! Product Review


Good Moringa...I mean Good Morning to you!

Feeling a little blurry eyed? 

Fuzzy headed?

Missing you mojo?

You might just want to try some moringa.

Morninga, in case you are unaware, is a plant that has crazy-ass nutrients packed into its leaves.

I was sent a package of Green Virgin Products' Moringa Powder to review and was initially skeptical of its vaulted claims. 

The most nutrient-dense plant on the earth...seriously?

Well it just very well may be true!

Here's the scoop.  Moringa contains:


  • 90 different types of Nutrients
  • 46 Antioxidants
  • 36 Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • 18 Amino Acids and 9 Essential Amino Acids
  • 10x the Vitamin A of carrots
  • 17x the Calcium of milk
  • 15x the Potassium of bananas
  • 25x the Iron of spinach
  • 9x the Protein of yogurt
  • 4x more Fiber than oats
  • 1/2 the Vitamin c of oranges (7x vitamin c for fresh leaves)
  • Anti-diabetic properties
  • Anti-hypertensive properties
  • Anti-tumor properties

Just to make sure this wasn't marketing hype, I did my own independent research to verify this information. 

The Moringa tree grows primarily in Africa and South America.  The peer-reviewed research I found confirmed its anti-cancer properties and heart health benefits. 

Green Virgin Products' Moringa Powder label also claims that it provides a feeling of alertness and mental clarity, even though it is caffeine free.  I could use some of that! 

Moringa's nutrients are destroyed if heated so you don't want to cook with it. They also say it is so fine it dissolves in liquids and won't sink to the bottom.  The best thing to do is to mix it with juice or into smoothies.  Unfortunately I don't like either, so I mixed in a teaspoon, along with a few drops of stevia water enhancer, into my water bottle before my workout the other morning.  I didn't mind the taste at all and it did stay suspended in the water.  I also tried throwing in a teaspoon to my coffee frappe after my workout.  That was alright but I think I will stick with it in my water bottle.  I can also guarantee you I'll be throwing some into the girls' smoothies.  I don't think they need any additional alertness, but they could certainly use some antioxidants!

I can't say whether or not it does actually improve cognitive function based on my own experience, which would be completely unscientific, but I did find one study that found it may have the potential to help protect against Alzheimer's Disease.

What amazes me, is that in a 1 teaspoon serving, you get 1g of protein (pretty good for a plant!), and 300 IU of Vitamin A!

I have to say, I am quite impressed with this plant and given its relatively high protein content, its great for vegans!!

All of Green Virgin Products' Moringa line are available online.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary package of Moringa to sample but all the opinions on this blog are my own.

I have linked this post with Urban Naturale's Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop.

Monday, February 9, 2015

100 Things

Dennis the Mennis Hoards?
Every year since Big A started school, there has been this 100th Day of School Thing.  It involves celebrating the (duh) 100th day of school by having each child bring in 100 things.  From what I've seen on Facebook, apparently it isn't just their school, but a lot of schools that are doing this now.

The thing is, this means parents have to find some cheap thing that they can buy, or make perhaps, and bring in.  Something nut-free and hopefully non-offensive (nothing promoting violence, of course), most of the things each child brings in are silly little things that are given out to each child and end up in the bottom of their school bags with a whole bunch of other useless things.

We are a society that is obsessed with things.  Things, for some reason, bring us comfort.  Things are a reward.  In fact, its frightening how young children learn to value things.  Sure, we as parents have no one to blame but ourselves and the materialistic society we've created, but the schools certainly aren't helping any.  If my kids behave in class? They get a prize!  Usually its candy, something which really pisses me off, sometimes its various innocuous things (pencils, small toys, etc.). All I know is that my kids are always bringing home things!

To be honest, the worst thing is the arts and crafts.  Come on, I'm not evil, really!  I've heard many other parents complain of the same thing!

Here's the thing: its all recycled materials, which is a good thing, but its a bit frustrating when your kids are bringing home an old shoebox and toilet rolls with a few marker scribbles and telling you its  masterpiece, invaluable and we absolutely have to keep it for all eternity.  These things end up in a pile somewhere until we can sneak them out to the recycle box without the kids witnessing it.  They never miss these things let alone ever notice they are gone.  If they witness us trying to get rid of these things, however, it turns into a big thing and they have this massive meltdown thing until we want to poke something sharp into our eyes.

I guess I should be grateful that Big A is apparently now too old for 100th Day of School, which is today, so I was only responsible for getting Little A 100 useless things for this stupid thing.  I picked up a small bag of little red gem hearts.  I just hope these things stay at school and don't come home to be stored with all the other things cramming our drawers and cupboards that Thing One and Thing Two in this house never even use!

Friday, February 6, 2015

At Least...

The power of rose colored optimism courtesy of the Dalai Lama

No matter how blessed we are in life, its easy to get bogged down in the mire. But focusing on everything that goes wrong can turn even the sunniest person into a downpour.  That's why counsellors and therapists so often recommend clients dealing with depression start a gratitude practice.  Individuals with depression have a tendency to only see the negative and discount the positives.

I like to use the "At least..." strategy to avoid falling into that trap.  If something goes wrong or a negative event occurs, I always try to look on the bright side. 

Like yesterday:

Little A melted down when I dropped her off but...at least she was well enough to go back to school.

It was ass-freezing but...at least it was bright and sunny.

My office was ridiculously overheated so I turned purple and sweat through my sessions with my clients but...at least it made me more eager to go back out into the cold.

There was a super duper annoying subway delay but...at least they didn't make us leave the train and catch another ride.

The bus was crowded but...at least I found the courage to ask the dude taking up a seat with his duffle bag to move it.

See?  Yesterday was a great day!

Of course, I know this is a much more difficult thing to do when you are dealing with a really serious problem or life crisis, but that's why when its just regular life stuff, you need to keep it in perspective.  The day-to-day hassles can also feel overwhelming if we are tired, sick, dealing with chronic pain, a shit-head boss, fighting with our spouse, etc.

I had a client tell me recently that all the wealthy, educated professionals she works with, herself included, are on antidepressants.  These folks, of course, may very well have a history of trauma or a genetic predisposition to depression, but its worth noting that having money and a prestigious does not = happiness.  The world needs more kind people, not more rich and successful people, and we need to reconnect as a society through true intimacy not texts.  Just sayin'...

Have a delightful weekend and go hug someone you love.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Day in the Life: JCC Sundays

DJDS at Miles Nadal

This post is for the A Day in the Life Link-Up. 

I have decided to give you Sunday because its the day that's most consistent.  During the week, aside from the early morning pre-dropping off the girls at school, things are all over the place as our routine varies widely based on Adam's work schedule, my work schedule and the girls' activities.

But some things about Sundays have stayed the same for a very long time.  You could call Sunday JCC day.

The downtown JCC in Toronto will always hold a special place in my heart. 

I started teaching fitness classes there back in 1997 and in 2000, I met Adam there.  He went to a high school across the street and began working out there when he was 13 years old (yes we are 2 peas in a pod!!). Up to the point where I was about 7 months pregnant with Big A, I was teaching fitness there 6 days a week.  After she was born, I cut back to just 1 class.

Now, the girls spend a good part of their weekends there between Hebrew School, swimming lessons and Fit Kids (a program for kids aged 5-9 that Little A does, and Big A used to do).  I, of course, still teach a spinning class there on Sunday mornings.

So here is last (Superbowl) Sunday, which is pretty much typical for us.

6:30am - Wake up for me...this is my sleep in day!  Throw on gym clothes and head down to kitchen and make my licorice tea and then get my gym bag packed.

7am - Sit down and eat breakfast (huge bowl of oatmeal with ground flax and egg whites).  Follow it up with a coffee frappe (can't do hot coffee before working out!).

7:35am - Leave for the gym...lately the girls aren't yet awake.  I bike if I can, but if the weather is too bad, I walk.

7:50am - Arrive at the JCC, get changed and organized.

8am - Hit the weight room.  This is my only day I don't workout at home, so I try and use all the equipment we don't have (bench press, cable crossover, super heavy dumbbells, etc.).  There is also a lot of socializing that happens because I know so many people there.  Not too busy at this hour, but I have my usual workout buddies (mostly 50-60 year old guys) and we chat about politics and culture...not your typical muscle-head gym!

9:15am - Get ready for my class, schmooze with participants as we set up our bikes.

9:30am-10:15am - Spin!

10:15am - Shmooze with members and record my class stats.

10:30am - Head home (I prefer to shower at home!), sometimes stop and do a few errands.

11am - Arrive home and have a shower and get dressed.  Adam takes the girls to the JCC for 9:15am for Hebrew school and then goes to the market to get our fresh food for the week.

11:30am - Have a snack (usually a Quest Bar, another coffee frappe and a whole lot of L-Glutamine!) and do my paperwork for .my counselling practice so the office admin assistant has everything for Monday morning.

12pm - Make the girls lunch for Adam to take to the girls. Cut veggies to prep meals for the week, if my awesome husband hasn't already done so. Adam takes their lunches and goes back to the JCC because Little A has swimming (Big A currently swims at the JCC on Saturdays).

1pm - Do an Essentrics Classical Stretch routine (I no longer do any static stretching or yoga).

1:30pm - Lunch.  Try to finish reading Saturday and Sunday Toronto Star and Saturday Globe and Mail newspapers.

2:30pm - Girls arrive home.  If no playdates or other plans, we often play cards or board games.  On this day we did a make-you-own snow globe craft.

3:45pm - Big A and I went to get Valentines for the girls' classes.

5pm - I start getting the girls' dinner ready.

5:15pm - Adam leaves for his book club meeting.

5:30pm - Girls eat in front of the television because its movie night.  I do some writing and work on my Ontario College of Psychotherapists application.

6:30pm - I have something to eat.

7:45pm - I start *trying* to get the girls upstairs and Little A to bed, but they, "Want to see daddy."

8pm - Adam arrives home and says goodnight to the girls.

8:15pm - We sit down and eat dinner and watch an episode of Saving Hope we taped.

9:15pm - I crawl into bed and start my nightly reading.

10pm - Lights out!

Next Sunday will be pretty much the same...

I have included this post in the Day in the Life Link-Up hosted by Fitness Cheerleader.













Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Snick Day

Who's turn is it to call of for sick kid? Not really funny but true. Been in both sides as daycare teacher and a parent!

Its Snow Day/Sick Day (aka Snick Day) #2.  Sigh!

If today is going to be anything like yesterday, there will be lots of whining and lots of television/movie watching.  Little A can just sit like a zombie in front of that darn screen for hours.  I guess the positive side of that is I was able to have an important phone meeting.  Today, however, I have client sessions I can't postpone, so my mother-in-law has kindly agreed to come for a few hours.  I am currently staring out the window at a whole lot of greyness and snow and it is snowing again. I am trying to visualize spring in my mind...

Have a happy hump day!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Day, Sick Day...Oy Veh!

Getting Plowed

So yesterday, like much of the North East, we got a massive snowstorm.  Schools closed, transportation stalled and everyone grumbled about all the shovelling that had to be done.

Our lovely neighbours did a good bit of the shovelling for us in the front, but our garage in the back alley was snowed in and the car wasn't getting out.  Also, it just happens to be the week we're looking after our other neighbours' house while they are in Florida and so we (Adam) had to do their shovelling.  It did finally stop snowing in the afternoon...but then Little A came down with a fever.  Sigh!

So today is a sick snow day.  After I drop Big A off at school, Little A and I will be hibernating at home.  I guess there are worse things.  If she's in a decent mood (both girls are still asleep right now!), then we could have fun.  If not, its not going to be pretty.  She is a very bad sick, prone to just howling and whining non-stop.  I seriously mean non-stop! Wish me luck!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Free to Be You and Me


Like most kids, I never wanted to stand out. Being Jewish in a small, pretty homogenous city was enough 'being different' for me. 

I felt very different though.  Not just the being Jewish thing, but my family culture was different.  My parents - reacting against their own family cultures - were very anti-materialism.  They focused exclusively on cerebral matters, and topics of discussion were politics, arts and literature...not fashion and pop music.

Unfortunately, I happened to go to an elementary school that was full of privileged kids and what you were wearing and what you looked like was of utmost importance.  But my parents refused to give in to that.  No matter how much I begged, I was not bought an overpriced Benetton Rugby shirt that all the other cool kids had.

I never felt I lived up to most of the other kids.  I can't blame that entirely on my wardrobe (I was also a privileged and very well dressed kid...this stuff is all relative, of course).  Other aspects of my parents' parenting did not arm me with high self-esteem, and I think I was just born with a very sensitive temperament.  I also was not a very gifted athlete and athletics were a measure of popularity at this school...probably one of the reasons I hate team sports to this day but became determined to be super fit in 9th grade.

So yeah, I probably still carry a lot of baggage around with me because of all this and it absolutely affects my parenting.  I am hyper-sensitive to how other kids treat my daughters.  Any sign of rejection or bullying and my heart breaks into little pieces and brings me right back to the intense pain I remember feeling myself.  Unfortunately, I am learning that looked through the lens of myself as an insecure kid is not the best way to parent these kids, because they are not me...which is a very good thing!

Big A, in particular, couldn't be more different than me.  This means we are often at odds with each other because I have a great deal of difficulty understanding her and she tends to push my buttons.  Adam says she is much more like he was, and this - fortunately - means he gets her, and they are very close.  I am so grateful she has such an amazing dad!

Big A has always been quirky.  She likes to be different.  She never brushes her (thick, curly, and unruly) hair and tends to wear the same couple of weird, mismatched, ill-fitting outfits.  This is despite the fact that I have been the parent who races out to get her all the coolest, latest clothes.  All that sits in her closet unworn, will day in and day out she pulls on clashing items of clothes that are often too big or too small.

Even though this makes me crazy, I have learned that this is not a battle to pick.  Its superficial and I don't want her to feel I am being critical...although sometimes I do beg her to wear something different once and a while.  She has been stubbornly picking out her own clothes since she was 18 months old.

What's wonderful is that she is super confident, not at all self-conscious, and seems not to care what anyone else thinks.  She is also not the least bit critical of others.  She never comments on others' appearances and seems generally unconcerned with superficialities.  This is fabulous (unlike her sister who has already internalized that pretty = white skin and blond hair!!).

But my great fear is that if she isn't already the target of bullying (she at least doesn't report any), that she soon will be.  Girls, particularly tween girls, are MEAN. I so want to protect her from this pain! I recently, however, realized that I have to let go of all this, which is really more about my emotional wounds and insecurities, and let her just be herself.  Its so important as a parent not only to learn to accept yourself (because kids pick up on it if you don't!), but also to accept our kids as they are.  So many times we want them to be what we were not, so we can live vicariously through them and this just isn't fair. Instead of trying to change Big A, to try to protect her from being hurt (which would make her feel criticized by me), I am going to have to just take a step back and, if she does indeed experience rejection, be there to reassure her that she needn't change because she is perfect just the way she is.

So here's to uniqueness and having the freedom to be who we want to be!