Sunday, October 31

Let's Talk Bones!

As a blogger, I am often approached by groups hoping for me to share their Public Service messages. To be quite honest, although many of these causes are important and worthwhile, I don't always have the time.

This one is different. Today I want to talk about "On The Go Women", and their goal of Osteoporosis Awareness. Sure, sure, you think you're too young, but it's never too early to start protecting your bones.  My mom and grandma have osteoporosis, and part of me assumes that there's no escaping it. However, there are many preventive measures, such as calcium and Vitamin D intake, and regular weight-bearing and resistance training exercise, that could delay or even prevent this disease.

Can you believe that at age 30 my doctor recommended I start taking Calcium and Vitamin D supplements? I bought some at that point, but since both can be found in my multivitamin, I stopped bothering with the extra dosage. Maybe it's time to start again. I've seen my mom go through two terrible broken wrists, and I have to wonder if the outcome could have been different.

The On The Go Women website offers a list of bone-healthy foods (many to suit even the staunchest milk-hater), as well as details about the disease and treatment options. There's also a "Could You Be At Risk?" quiz, but it seems to be geared to women in a higher age bracket than mine.

You might be sure that you're taking all possible measures to safeguard yourself from this disease, but what about your mom? Click below for tips on starting "the osteoporosis conversation". How many years has she spent worrying about your health? Maybe it's time to switch things up.
osteoporosis, bisphosphonates, osteoporosis treatment, strong bones, healthy bones, osteoporosis fracture, healthy bone, osteoporosis risk factors, osteoporosis fractures, osteoporosis injection, osteoporosis information, osteoporosis risks

So what am I going to do today? Check with my mom to make sure she's complying with her medications (I'm sure she is), include some cheese in my dinner, and either treadmill or do some free weights in front of the TV tonight. Then, next time I'm at the drug store I'll pick up a fresh bottle of Calcium with Vitamin D.

What are you going to do?

Friday, October 29

Our First Family Portrait: By Jennifer King Photography

Getting great family shots can be difficult when there are kids involved (I share some tips and tricks in my article "The Perfect Portrait") but Jennifer King of JKP Photography somehow managed to bring out the best in us.

Although Frannie is already four and a half, this was the first time we've ever had a professional family portrait taken! We've gone to the chain studios for shots of the girls, both together and separately, but never a picture of all four of us.

If you're in the Peterborough/City of Kawartha Lakes area, you should definitely check Jennifer out. She was so terrific with the kids (which could be because she has four of her own) and patiently allowed them to make silly faces and to help take some photos, and she even took a couple of pics with their toys just to keep them happy!

Maggie wasn't too sure at first!



My 'teaser' shots arrived by email just a couple of days later, and the CD with all of the images, many edited, arrived after a couple of weeks. Jennifer signs away the rights so that purchasers can print whichever photos they choose, which is wonderful, since I never use the 10 x 13 that comes with a studio package, and I always seem to need more 5 x 7's.


I'll even save one of these shots for Christmas, eliminating the need for another (stressful) shoot. (Just so you know, I'm the only one who made it stressful. Hubby had to remind me, as I ran around the house attempting to perfect myself, our girls, and our property for the session, that we can always get more pictures. Of course he was right, not that I let him know that in the moment.)

The total cost of our photo session? $90 plus tax, and the cost of whatever prints we make (which will be done inexpensively at the Loblaw's Photolab!) Our package was the Autumn Colours Special, which was kind of ironic since we have very few autumn colours on our property, and the day was so incredibly windy that most of the best shots came when we moved things inside).

JKP also does beautiful maternity, newborn and wedding portraits, samples of which are available on her website.


My next problem? Where to put the pictures! The downside to an open concept house with lots of windows is the noticeable lack of wall space. I may have to confront my clutter phobia and get some matching frames to arrange on our living room half wall. Although that space will be taken up by the Christmas garland in just a couple of weeks. Believe me, I thank the Lord every night that something like this is my idea of a 'problem'.

Wednesday, October 27

Ready For Bed/Ready For The Day With Less Stress!

They had me with the titles:

"Ready For The Day: A Tale of Teamwork and Toast, and Hardly Any Foot-Dragging"

Ready for the Day!

and

"Ready For Bed: A Tale of Cleaning Up, Tucking In, and Hardly Any Complaining".

Ready for Bed!

Doesn't that sound like heaven?

These titles from Free Spirit, written by Stacey R.Kaye, are like mini-parenting courses disguised as picture books. (They even colour-code the adult dialogue: green is validating feelings, blue is offering choices, and red is encouraging. All are effective parenting strategies, which are discussed thoroughly for the grownups at the back of the book.)

The first book is Daddy/daughter, the second one Mommy/son, and both take the readers through what can be a very stressful time of day, modeling ways to make it easier. The pictures are adorable, the characters are multicultural, and as you read you really feel like the scenes could be taking place at your house. Well, your house on a fairly good day.

At $12.99 for each of these hardcovers, they're a steal if they help you to get the kids out the door and/or in bed with a smoother, quicker and more positive (i.e. less screaming, threatening, throwing, crying - and that's just Mom) process. Plus, the stories are written in such a way that the kids don't even realize that they're supposed to be learning from them - always a bonus.

Check out Free Spirit Publishing for more information. I'd highly recommend both of these books.

Disclaimer: I was provided with the above-named titles for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Monday, October 25

Organize Your Holiday "Stuff": Halloween Edition

Before I start telling you how I organize my vast array of holiday paraphernalia, I must disclose that "the Christmas stuff" is a whole different story, basically requiring its own storage room. However, I am going to share with you my organizational system for my Autumn/Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter/Spring decorations.

Here's what I do: I have labelled bins for each occasion. Earth shattering, isn't it? Wait, here's what makes my system slightly more original: I put EVERYTHING - even items that wouldn't be considered decorations - in to the bin. This includes CD's, children's books, stickers, napkins, hand towels. If it can be remotely connected to a holiday, it's in. This way I'm not looking all over the house to pull out the themed items when the occasion rolls around. And really, why do you need these things at any other time of the year? Nothing says "I don't have it together" like a jack-o-lantern hand towel out in April, don't you agree? Or, one might argue, nothing says "I don't have a life" like themed items all perfectly sorted in bins. To each her own.

I particularly love keeping books and crafty stuff hidden away because the kids get so excited to see it all again (plus this way, we're not reading "Dora Saves Christmas" in July). I find that rediscovering these long-lost treasures keeps the kids busy long enough for me to put everything else where it goes!

Here's an example of the bin I pulled out on the first of October (my official Halloween decorating date):







As you can see, this one has decorations, costumes and accessories, a spooky CD, books...the list goes on.
So, are you inspired? Your Halloween "stuff" may already be on display and in use right now, but you too can dump it all in the same spot afterwards and be ready for next year. Now, while we're on Halloween, if you find yourself lacking in children's titles for this occasion, here are some suggestions I've recently received, in order of age group:

Ollie's Halloween by Olivier Dunrea (who writes the Gossie and Friends books)



The Haunted House That Jack Built by Helaine Becker (a fun 'growing pattern' story about various Halloween creatures)



Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies (a clever, rhyming story about bats who take over the ballfield after dark)



Scary Science by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone (with 25 creepy experiments for your little mad scientists, many using regular household ingredients)


These ones will be put away again on November 1st, so that they're fresh for All Hallow's Eve, 2011!! Oh, who am I kidding, they'll be put away before midnight on October 31st. Yes, that's another "thing" I have. Decorations must be put away promptly when the holiday is over. For example, "promptly" this time around means when we turn off the lights to trick or treaters, I start frantically gathering up all themed items, to begin the 11 days of stark minimalism in my home. (This is because my husband won't allow me to decorate for Christmas until after Remembrance Day. I know, I know, unreasonable, but I love him anyway.)

Disclaimer: I was provided with the above-named books for review purposes. The OCD tendencies are genetic. Sorry, Mom. Well, mostly Dad. (Some day I'll tell you about his ice-cube tray system.)Opinions, as always, are my own.

Friday, October 22

Have a Green Halloween!

It's been six months since Earth Day, and it will be Earth Day in six months. What have you done to help the environment today?

I try to be green. We recycle and compost, we take reusable bags to the grocery store. However, I also have my weaknesses, like using the dryer and warming up the car. I'm in Canada, people!


Last year, when an editor asked me to put something together about Greening Your Halloween, I needed to do a lot of research. I had been a parent for three Halloweens at that point, and making the holiday environmentally friendly hadn't even been on my radar. Trying to convince Frannie to be something other than a princess was much more of a priority. However, I got to work, and you can check out the final product:

Make It A Green Halloween (Peterborough, Northumberland and Lakeridge Kids, October/November 2009)

You'll find eco-friendly ideas for costumes, treats, travel, decorations and celebrations. Even if we each just implement one of these suggestions we can play a small part. (God knows I'm not doing them all - we live in the country, so I'm sorry to say that our car will be producing emissions on October 31st. If we decided to walk, the kids would only make it to one house!)

For more year-round green ideas, you can also visit:

Jen and Joey Go Green Canadian mom Jen describes herself as "a realistic environmentalist" (my favourite kind!)

I also love love love:

Green Is Sexy Started by Canadian actress Rachel McAdams and her friends Megan and Didi, this site offers daily tips for greening your life. I especially appreciate how the ideas are organized into categories such as "For The Girls", "Workplace", and "Money Savers". The only addition I'd like to see is a "Baby and Child" category...God knows how wasteful some kids' products and activities are!

Anyway, Happy Half Earth Day! Now go decide which Green Halloween tip you'll adopt at your house this year.

Wednesday, October 20

Just Me Music! Review and Giveaway

Giveaway open to US and Canada.

Looking for an orginal children's Christmas gift? Look no further, as Just Me! Music has the answer!

Recently we received a Walt Disney Princess Tea Party CD, personalized with Frannie's real name throughout. When I first learned about these products, I was interested, but figured that the name would be on there a couple of times, no big deal. But you should see my little girl's eyes light up as she hears her name over and over, both spoken and sung. "Frannie! It's your friend Belle. Would you like to join us for a tea party?" Would she!



This particular CD has 17 tracks, with a total running time of almost 30 minutes, and to her great delight, Frannie's name is mentioned constantly.

The songs are actually terrific. The tunes are pleasant (not at all annoying or irritating...though I can't vouch for all of the different character CD's. Some children's characters are more tolerable than others!) I also like the lyrics, as songs focus on important themes like friendship and manners.

Too girly for you? Just Me! Music can personalize a CD for your child with The Wiggles, Elmo, Barney, Mickey/Minnie/Goofy or Veggie Tales!


The CD's are a very reasonable $19.99. Shipping is $5.00 $2.99 (this has been updated!) and the product arrives within days. What a unique gift, especially for the child who already has everything, or the one who is particularly "interested in" (okay, let's just admit it, "obsessed with") a favourite character.

If you're worried that your child's name won't be available, you may be pleasantly surprised. Check out the site and do a quick search, where options range from Aaliyah to Zyonna, with multiple pronunciations for tricky names. (Click on the specific product, and then the option will come up for you to search the available names for that particular CD.)

Guess what? Gail from Just Me! Music is giving away a free personalized CD with shipping included for one lucky This Mom Loves reader from Canada or the U.S.! All you have to do to enter is visit Just Me! Music and come back and let me know which character(s) you would choose if you won! (The Home page at http://www.justmemusic.ca/ showcases the different choices.)

For extra entries, please leave a separate comment letting me know that:
  • you follow This Mom Loves publicly through Google Friend Connect
  • you subscribe to This Mom Loves through email (ensure subscription is activated)
  • you follow @thismomloves on Twitter, and tweet about this giveaway (once total, please)
Contest will be open until Wednesday, November 3rd at 11:59 p.m., after which time a winner will be chosen by random number generation, and the non-winners will have to phone or email Gail to place their orders! Good luck!

Sunday, October 17

Hockey! Scholastic Review and Giveaway

Is there any reader out there without a little hockey lover in her life? (And, on a related note, is there any reader out there who is not a Tim Hortons fan?) When I was trying to decide on a theme for this month's Scholastic review and giveaway, I decided I'd like to have a look at some books about Canada's favourite sport, and I found two real goodies:

One Hockey Night by David Ward



In this story, brother and sister Owen and Holly have just been uprooted from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia right before Christmas, and their homesickness is magnified by the lack of local ice for skating.

The plot isn't exactly a nail-biter - you can see the ending coming a mile away - but nonetheless, you can't help but beam when the kids are surprised on Christmas Eve by their own backyard skating rink.The illustrations are beautiful and subtle, and the story is sure to become a family favourite.

The Mighty Tim Horton by Mike Leonetti



Mike Leonetti has written other fictional stories incorporating some of hockey's biggest stars, such as "The Rocket" and "Wendel and The Great One" and his newest title does not disappoint.

Trevor is a defenseman who takes needless penalties, with consequences for his team. That is, until his fundraising efforts find him knocking on the door if his idol: Toronto Maple Leafs player Tim Horton, who shares some secret hockey tips.

Playing "the Tim Horton way" leads to success for Trevor and his team...and believe it or not, that year the Leafs even win the Stanley Cup!

I also love the Tim Horton mini-biography page at the back of this book. It's pretty common for Canadian kids to recognize the Tim Hortons' sign, but how many of them actually know who he was? I think it's neat to be able to share this information with our children...the story behind the coffee and doughnuts!

Either one of these titles would make a fantastic Christmas gift for your little hockey lover, and as always, Scholastic is offering up both of these beautiful hardcover books for one lucky This Mom Loves reader. The prize is valued at approximately $40!

Entry couldn't be simpler: if you're a Canadian resident, just leave a comment below telling me something you love about hockey OR Tim Hortons!

For additional entries, leave a separate comment letting me know that:

  • you follow This Mom Loves publicly through Google Friend Connect
  • you subscribe to This Mom Loves through email (be sure subscription is activated)
  • you follow @thismomloves on Twitter, and tweet about this giveaway (once total, please)
  • you follow @ScholasticCDA on Twitter, and tweet about this giveaway (once total, please)
Contest is open until Monday, November 1st at 11:59 p.m., after which time a winner will be chosen by random number generation. Good luck!

Raspberry and Lime Hat Winner!

What a fantastic response to the Raspberry and Lime custom-made hat giveaway!

Organic White Lace Beanie with 6 flowers

The lucky winner, as chosen by random.org:

# 66 out of 133 entries

Sue from Gresham, Oregon - who will now receive her choice of hat!

Congratulations...now everyone else needs to go back to Raspberry and Lime and place your orders!!! Be sure to tell Beth I sent you!

Friday, October 15

Debbie Travis: The Momterview

 "All For One with Debbie Travis" is a new hour-long reality series which brings the home-renovating icon to a different Canadian city each week, surprising the locals with with plans for a reno project to reward a local hero. The twist is that Debbie brings only her ideas, materials and tools... but no team to carry out the job. That's what the locals are for, and she calls on community members to step up and pitch in, sometimes with disastrous results! The sneak preview episode aired on CBC in September, and Debbie is back on Sunday October 17th with the next entertaining episode.

I had the opportunity to chat with Debbie about her new show, as well as motherhood, marriage and the latest decorating trends for kids. {By the way, Debbie had to turn down her first invitation to visit Oprah, yet she eagerly made time for This Mom Loves. I'm just saying.}

This Mom: I definitely want to discuss the new show, but before we get to that I'd really like to ask you about your book "Not Guilty", which I read this summer and really enjoyed. You seem so confident now about the choices you made as a mom and a businesswoman both, and the tradeoffs that had to be made. Do you think it's actually possible to not feel guilty?

Debbie Travis: I think women, it doesn't matter what you do, you could be sitting at home knitting and you're going to feel guilty. None of us have enough time, and you're guilty if you put them in daycare and you're guilty if you don't. Even a stay-at-home mom feels guilty. It's just ingrained in us, and there's no point telling a young mom. I started the book with the end of the journey, sending a 6 foot boy to his room, and the sadness of "Is it over?" and you look back on those 18 years of bringing up your kids, and you just can't tell this to a new mother. What I liked about the comments on the book was that these are everybody's stories, everyone's mistakes, and no matter how precious we think our children are, we're sitting at home thinking "Oh God, I did it wrong!" We all lose our tempers, we all cry ourselves to sleep. In the end, the kids are own their own path really, and unless you tie them up in the basement they're really going to do what they want to do.



TM: Your sons are now 22 and 23. What would you say was the hardest phase of parenting?

DT: Now! I think actually the older they get the tougher it is as a parent because you have less control. They're young men now, but you never stop worrying. They were at the Munich Beer Festival, and it was 6:00 a.m. here, and I'm calling Munich to try to make sure they're sober enough to walk down the street. What next? With a toddler you've got control, you're in charge. I think the reason parents are so frightened of teens is that they are big, and they do talk back, and it's very hard to control them. You have to do it through guilt! {Personally, I already love using the "Mommy is very disappointed with you" line, though I often get the "You're the worst Mommy I ever had" reply.}

TM: In your book you also try to debunk the "yummy mommy" phenomenon.

DT: I try and give these cartoonish pictures of the mothers at school, "The Volunteer Vulture", "The Yummy Mommy", and there are mothers wishing they could be more like the yummy mommies, and wondering "Why can't I look like that? I've got vomit down my back, and they look so smart. How do they put themselves together?" You're always trying to compete with the other mothers, but if you actually sat down with them they probably have the same vulnerabilities you do. We're just all trying to get it right.


Debbie showing off another reveal

TM: As a decorating expert, what sorts of trends are you seeing these days for kids' rooms?

DT: I just got back from London and I saw a lot of patterns and colours and textures. A lot of fun in rooms. There's a new product out called "IdeaPaint", and it's a paint you can use to turn a surface into a notice board {a dry erase whiteboard}. People have been doing this with chalkboard paint for a while, we did that in my day, but chalk is messy, and this is just a white surface that you can use markers on. I thought that would be very cool for maybe the back of a door in a children's room.


TM: You and your husband work together on your projects {Debbie and husband Hans Rosenstein are partners in their production company}. What are some of the pros and cons of being in business with your spouse?

DT: Don't do it! {Laughs} I think the pros are you've both got the same goals in a way, and when you're in a similar business you understand each other, whether you're both baking cookies or you're both running a television station or whatever, you understand why the other is so tired, or in a bad mood. You understand the bones of your industry, and really that does help. If I were married to an accountant, I don't think he'd 'get' me. He wouldn't understand what on earth was going on. On the other hand, a huge danger is if something goes wrong, like the dreaded "d" word, it's incredibly complicated. {My apparently dyslexic mind heard "b" word, and immediately thought she was talking about bankruptcy. Which would be worse?}

Sometimes it's a bit harder for staff. Mine are used to it, but it's hard for them hearing a blazing row, and it's a different type of row when it's your spouse. You can threaten "I'll never cook for you or have sex with you ever again!" but then that's not what we do in the boardroom! It's sometimes hard on other people. I think with any partnership, when you have a business, what you need to think about before anything else is who you take on as a partner, because most partnerships don't work, and you think "It's my best friend and we're going to start a cookie business" or whatever {why so much talk about cookies? We were chatting at dinnertime...} you have to think about what you're going to do if it doesn't work, how do we get out of this?

TM: Your new show is all about communities. How would you describe your own community in Montreal?

DT: Mine really links up to your mom story in that a lot of people live away from their families now. You don't have that nostalgic street with your granny at the end of the street and your mom next door. {Actually, I do have my mother-in-law next door, but I'll save that for another post.} A lot of people have moved away from family, so in my neighbourhood we have eight moms, and we're all there for each other. My next door neighbour is a surgeon, and she'll call me and say "I'm late in surgery, can you pick up the kids?" "Yeah, sure, I'll just drop everything!" We're there to help each other. Somebody will come around and say "Can you take my kids for the weekend, because if I don't spend a night with my husband we are in deep trouble!" We are a little community of support on that street for the last 15, 16 years. Even if it's just a bottle of wine and a good cry. It's the most valuable thing I've got.

I grew up in a small village, and really the community was the backbone of the way we were, and often community doesn't really show itself until something bad happens. When I was 12 my dad died and my mother was 33 and had four kids under 12, my brother was six months old, and the community came together to bring the food, bring clothes, pay my school fees, be there for her until she could get back on her feet. It's expected, and in that area it was a church group, that's what they did, they were the backbone of the village.

Debbie takes over the neighbourhood.
Debbie shooting an episode of "All For One"

We found that on the show, ethnic communities have an incredible support system because when you come to a new country it's scary. Rural communities do it, too. The places we found the hardest {to rally community volunteers} were the big urban centres like Toronto. People are so busy and they don't see the value in it until something goes wrong. A neighbourhood is not a community. Somebody said to me that she lived in a great Toronto neighbourhood, people would walk by and say hello, but it wasn't until her husband got cancer that people really rallied around, and the neighbourhood from that day on became a community.

TM: What else should we know about "All For One"?

DT: It's a very funny show, because people are funny, and especially the nightmare of the volunteers - I could write another book! But it's about the community coming together for this particular unsung hero, and I have everyone standing in front of me and we show the back story on this person, and people say "Oh I didn't realize everything she did, she's so amazing", and I say "Look what I've planned, we're going to rip her house apart and here's what we're going to do....only I'm not going to do it, you are!" That's when they start backing away! Sometimes we don't finish, and people don't turn up.

We've had some really hilarious situations where people think "Oh, you know these television shows, as soon as the cameras go down at night she'll bring in her own people and finish it!" and that's not what happens. We supply the materials and the tools, and the money for food, but they do the work. It's really a modern-day barn-raising. People coming together laughing and crying, and being tired, and creating a bit of a legacy in each place. I'm just the circus master with the whip!

TM: Do you have a favourite out of the seven communities you shot in?

DT: The show this Sunday takes place in North Preston, Nova Scotia: the oldest black community in the country. Our director, who has directed Survivor and The Apprentice, lives in Los Angeles, and he said it was worse than east L.A. here. This community has been dumped by this country. They don't have a shop or a bank, no taxi driver or ambulance will go in because it's too rough. Yet, these people are there and someone needs to help them. One of the guys who came to work on the house was a newly trained doctor from Nigeria, and at the end of the show after working on the house with these people he said to me "There's no doctor here for 4000 people. I will come and be the doctor here for the next ten years." And oh my God, talk about tears, and I'm praying there's a camera on this. I couldn't have written it. If I never do anything again, we got a doctor for North Preston. These people were the nicest, funniest, kindest people I've ever worked with, but what a place. A lot of drug dealers and pit bulls...we had to be protected to be in there!

Each show has a little story within it. Oakville is hilarious. I thought it would be boring, but that show has full frontal nudity! What I do to get volunteers is so embarrassing!

TM: How would you complete the sentence "This Mom Loves..."

DT: I love London, Tuscany. I love wine. A lot. Prada shoes - they are the comfiest shoes ever! {I'll let you know if I agree whenever I get my first pair.} I love getting dirty. I actually really do like jumping in and puttering in the garden, which is why I have no nails. On the show I don't even care about the cameras, I find it really hard not to grab a brush. "I will not help you! You have to do this on your own! Alright, give it to me, then, I'll do it!" I love to read. I love food. Too much probably. I love women, and mums, and chatting, as you can see. I love a girls' night out: a bunch of women, no men, a bottle of wine, nobody calling "mummy". That's the best night out for me.

TM: My two girls are upstairs right now, and they haven't interrupted an interview yet but I can just see my two year old barging in and insisting on saying hi! {Actually, Maggie's  favourite telephone question is "Doin'?"}

DT: Ah, but you'll get your revenge when they're teenagers and sitting with their friends, and you'll come in and plop yourself down, and your daughters will look at you like you're covered in dog poo, and say "Yes? What do you want?" and you'll tell them that you just want to sit and interrupt their conversations like they did to you for years. Oh, and you'll get to wake them up at 7:00! Revenge, it's called!

TM: I can't imagine having to wake them up at 7:00! That doesn't sound like things getting harder! {I am actually excited that I will be able to live out this revenge fantasy, PLUS say "Debbie Travis told me to do that." Although they'll be too young to know who Debbie Travis is. Even Justin Bieber will be old by the time my girls are teens.}

In conclusion, I'd like to offer you one of my favourite Debbie Travis quotes that I fail miserably to live by: "Love the chaos. Praise your messy house daily, even pray to it, because before you blink, your children will be gone and it will be way too tidy!"

You can visit Debbie's official site at http://www.debbietravis.com/, follow her on Twitter and learn more about "All For One" at www.cbc.ca/debbietravis. Be sure to catch it Sunday evenings on CBC.

Wednesday, October 13

Power of Print Recap # 2

Entertainment Weekly
September 10, 2010

I love this quote from Ben Affleck, from an interview with Chris Nashawaty:

"My wife is a world-class mom. We understand that being parents is the most important job we have. And she still manages to be beautiful and sexy, and I don't know how she does it, and I'm not going to ask questions."

Now, I think there's a mistake here, because it was actually my husband who said that, and Ben must just have heard it somewhere and repeated it. Regardless, it's still very sweet.


(For anyone who knows us, couldn't this be a picture of my husband and I at the supermarket?
More or less? We always snuggle while carrying out the groceries, don't you?)

Just as a sidebar, EW is by far the best entertainment magazine out there (and by entertainment, I don't mean "Angie tells Jen to back off!", and "Guess Whose Cellulite?", I mean actual entertainment news.)

Today's Parent
October 2010

I really enjoyed an article by Randi Chapnik Myers called "Alone At Last: The joy - and challenges - of bonding one-on-one with your kids". It talks about the importance of each parent having alone time with each child, which is something I know we should do more often. It seems like our circumstances are either: 1. the whole family together
2. girls at daycare/with sitter, or
3. one parent with both girls

We often run errands, etc. together, forgetting that divide-and-conquer could not only be more efficient, but give the girls some special mommy or daddy time.

The author points out that kids are more comfortable talking openly in a one-on-one situation, and I can remember that as a child. A drive or walk with Dad (who practices the sort of therapy where he remains silent, prompting you to talk more and more) would often lead to a heart-to-heart, and I always jumped at the chance to run an errand with my mom, in order to get her undivided attention. As Frannie and Maggie get older, we're going to have to make this more of a priority. Also, it seems like attention shifts depending on the phase: a breastfeeding newborn trumps everything in terms of mommy's attention (followed closely by the "I have to go!" potty-training preschooler).

Bake sale treatsParents
October 2010

"Rock The Bake Sale" by Karen Cicero, shares tips from New York City event planner Amy Atlas, whose treats involve simple recipes, sensible portions, a nut-free policy and good prices. The photos in the magazine are yummy, and can be found with the complete recipes on the website.

(Photo from http://www.parents.com/)
I also took something away from "Remedies For The Witching Hour" by Beth Howard, where she shares tips for that awful time period before dinner. My favourites? "Put on your own oxygen mask first". Usually I do the drop-off, and hubby does the pick-up, so I can often make it home before them to change my clothes and get dinner started. I then feel so much fresher and able to focus on the girls when they arrive home. Another great tip? (Not rocket science here): "Give kids what they want - you". It's so very hard to do when you want to start supper and sort the mail and empty the backpacks, but I know from experience that when I do it (read a quick story or just give a cuddle sitting right there on the kitchen floor), the investment pays off.

I'm trying to encourage magazine-reading here, but really by bringing you highlights on a regular basis, I am eliminating your need to ever pick up a magazine again. You're welcome?

Winner: Bugalug

There were 90 entries in the Bugalug Cuff and Gift Card contest, and random.org chose....

#12

Chelsey, from BC!

(This woman has now won three prizes from This Mom Loves! Please be assured that I have never met her before in my life...random.org must really like her!)



Thanks to all who entered. Later this week I'll be giving away Scholastic books with a hockey theme, and keep an eye out for a terrific personalized CD giveaway coming soon!

Monday, October 11

Caillou On Tour!

Where would we be without Twitter? Not too long ago, I noticed that a company called Koba Entertainment had started following me on Twitter. Curious, I linked to their site to see what they were all about (exactly what they were aiming for, I'm sure!) and lucky for me I discovered that they produce original family musicals, starring some of our favourite characters, such as Max and Ruby, Franklin, Doodlebops and the Backyardigans.

I was even more excited when I realized that their "Caillou's Greatest Skate of All" production will be coming to my area in December, and will be visiting many other cities across Canada before and after! (See Tour Schedule.) I had been looking for an opportunity to introduce my girls to live theatre, and this couldn't be more perfect!

We have several Caillou board books, and I had assumed the character was meant more for really little ones. However once Frannie started watching the television show (you know, on the oh-so-rare occasions we allow her to watch TV), I realized that he appeals to an older audience as well, and I was actually quite impressed with the content. I especially like the fact that Caillou's parents are very visible, and help him to make good decisions (and rectify the not-so-good ones). By the way, one of my friends finds him whiny, but when you have preschoolers of your own, AND you're a teacher, you become a bit immune to that!




In Caillou's Greatest Skate of All, everyone's favourite preschooler is looking forward to meeting his favourite hockey player at Winterfest. He also crosses paths with an Olympic skater, and decides to give that sport a try as well. Koba Entertainment promises a show "filled with original singalong songs, thrilling rollerblade displays and and lots of audience participation" in this "charming celebration of a Canadian winter". I can't wait to take Frannie and Maggie to their first ever live production!

For information on this production, or any of their other great live shows, check out Koba Entertainment's website.

Disclaimer: My family and I will have the opportunity to see Caillou's Greatest Skate of All in exchange for sharing this information with you. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Thursday, October 7

Getting Out With Baby

Once you get past the newborn blur and actually start to feel like venturing outside the house, the next step is to figure out what to do. Sure, there are always errands to run and places to kill time, but what if you're looking for something a little more enjoyable?

Peterborough Kids Magazine

For tips, check out "Getting Out With Baby" : my new article in the October/November issue of Peterborough, Northumberland and Lakeridge Kids.

Thanks to all of the moms (and dad!) who helped me out with this one, including Kamerine of The Life of K, Meaghan, Louise of Mommycrat, Jen of Jen and Joey Go Green, and Nick of CanaDad. Your contributions are greatly appreciated!

Other articles in this issue (all available on the website) cover topics like school breakfast programs, flu-fighting foods, and reading to your kids. While the advertising and community events are locally-geared, the editorial content would be of interest to all parents, no matter where in the country you may be.

Go ahead, get clicking!

Monday, October 4

What Are Your 5 Words?

If you could eavesdrop on someone talking about you, what adjectives would you hope to hear used? I've seen this asked before as a "what would you want on your tombstone/in your obituary" kind of question, but I'm talking right here, right now, how would you like to be described? How do you deserve to be described?



I've picked five descriptors which have value to me, and which I hope I've earned. As you read mine, try to think about yours!

Smart - I might as well profit from being a nerdy teacher's pet for most of my life! I think I have people pretty well fooled into believing that this adjective suits me, although I may throw a few misspellings into this post just so someone can correct me.

Classy -Most of the time, I try to be classy in the way I dress, speak, and behave. I did swear on the last day of school, and a colleague remarked that he had gone 194 days without ever hearing me curse, so I think that's pretty damn good.

Talented - At what? Doesn't matter, but everyone should be known for being good at something. Teaching, writing, editing, organizing, parenting (?),...I'd like to think I have some specialities. (Notice I'm least confident about the most important one?)

Hard-working - I feel very confident that this one applies, and that others would see it too. I work hard at school, and just as hard at home. I'm rarely lazy, but I'm not a busywork person; I also pride myself on being efficient.

Lovely - I like this one because it could refer to personality as much as appearance, and therefore doesn't necessarily make me seem shallow.  But honestly, I would love to hear from you if you are a woman who does not care about her appearance, because people like you are few and far between. I've never been "hot" or "stunning", and I think I detoured past "gorgeous" somewhere between glasses/acne/braces and fine lines/cellulite. "Pretty" seems too surface...as well as a little too young. (However, if my husband knows what's good for him, he would vote for all of the above!) I think I might be able to get away with "lovely".

Now, what didn't make my list?

Funny and/or fun. I have my moments, but these words wouldn't be used frequently to describe me.

Sporty and/or athletic. I'm fit, but athletics, especially competitive sports, are not my area of expertise.

Easy-going. I have actually relaxed a bit over time (new acquaintances may wonder how I could possibly have been any worse before!) but I'm pretty sure that no one on earth has ever said "That Kate Winn! She's such a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of gal!"

Now it's your turn. What are your five words? Or even just one? Do any of my choices have little value for you? Leave a comment and let me know. As for my fellow bloggers, maybe this would make for an interesting topic for you to write about. If you do, leave your link below so we can all check it out!

Award

Just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Crystal from Three Jewels In My Crown who recently honoured me with the Versatile Blogger Award.




If you want to meet Crystal's little Sapphire, Opal and Pearl, or if you're looking for some fantastic craft ideas, pop over to Three Jewels In My Crown and pay her a visit!

Saturday, October 2

Hayley Wickenheiser: My Exclusive Momterview

My first three Momterviews have been skewed a little towards journalists (which gives away where my interests lie) but this time around I'm shaking things up and bringing you a momterview with an entirely different type of public figure: an athlete. Not just any athlete, mind you. This woman has won three Olympic golds plus a silver on Canada's women's hockey team, as well as numerous other championships. And hockey isn't her only specialty - she's also an elite softball player, and served as a CBC softball analyst during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If that's not enough, Sports Illustrated has named her one of the 25 Toughest Athletes In The World.

Oh yeah, and she's a parent, too. Hayley has been mom to Noah, son of her partner Tomas, since he was only a month old. She has since adopted him, with his birth mother's consent.*{see note below}

Impressed yet? Sit back, relax, and learn a little bit about Canadian hero Hayley Wickenheiser.

This Mom: When you were young {Hayley grew up in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan), you were usually the only girl on your hockey teams. What sorts of lessons did you learn from that?

Hayley Wickenheiser: Well, I learned at a young age not to listen to the critical opinion of others and to have a thick skin. {Can she teach me? I'm 33 and still have trouble with this.} It also taught me that if you really love something you sometimes have to make sacrifices to do it, and that's what I did.

TM: What do you say to parents who wonder whether their girls should be playing hockey with the boys, or on all-girls teams?

HW: I don't have a preference. It really depends where you live and what type of kid you have. Some girls have no choice but to play with the boys, like I did when I was a kid, but now in many urban areas there are girls' leagues with options for different levels and abilities. I think some girls need more of a challenge, and sometimes playing with the boys gives them that, so I just tell the parents wherever your daughter is the happiest. There's no sense playing on boys' teams if they're not going to get any ice time, so you want them where they're going to be playing a lot and having fun. That's the most important thing when you're a kid.


Photo courtesy of Jeff Nash

TM: In your career, you've had so many incredible wins. Is there any one moment that stands out in your mind?

HW: I think the win in Salt Lake in '02 will always stand out in my mind as one of the best wins ever for me, and obviously winning in Vancouver in your home country is really special. {I guess it doesn't get much better than Olympic gold medals!}

TM: What about your lowest career moment?

HW: '98 when we lost the gold medal to the U.S. For sure. {Sounds slightly more disappointing than my personal athletic low point: when I took the knee out of my new track pants playing in a teacher volleyball game. Why did I have to dive for that ball? So unlike me.}




TM: Obviously you have to stay in great physical shape since hockey is a demanding sport, but do you have couch potato days and junk-food indulgences like the rest of us?

HW: Oh, yeah, I do. I think I try to live a pretty disciplined life, I try to eat clean, and I don't drink all that often, I'll maybe have a glass of wine here or there, but definitely some days I just eat whatever I want, and my guilty pleasure is chocolate of any sort. I love chocolate! I think it's healthy to have days where you don't really track what you're eating all the time.

TM: I get the impression that you're just as busy off the ice as you are on. What's a typical day like for you when it's not hockey season?

HW: It's busy! A typical day would be: I wake up, go to the gym, work out, do some errands, do the kind of thing I'm doing with you right now, come back and spend time with my son. The rest of the day I just carry on with life, whether it's making food or doing laundry, all of the things that people regularly do.

TM: I read that you play the piano. Did you take lessons as a kid?

HW: I did, yeah. My parents made us take lessons until Grade 7, and then we were able to choose whether to quit or not. I opted out, {laughs}, but to this day I can still pick it up and I can play. I'm not great! My son now takes piano lessons so that's really exciting.

TM: I've also heard that you love to read. Do you have a good book on the go right now?

HW: I'm reading Bill Clinton's book called "Giving". It's good. I spoke after he did at an event and he signed a book for me, so I figured I'd give it a shot!

TM: You've completed a couple of years of your Bachelor of Science degree {from the University of Calgary}. Do you see yourself going back to finish it?

HW: Yes, I am this year, actually. I'm going to go back and take some courses and try to finish it off, yeah.

TM: You also support several charitable organizations. Can you speak a bit about them?

HW: The main ones I work with are Right To Play, which helps children through sport and play, Dreams Take Flight which is a local charity in Calgary {providing dream trips for challenged kids}, and Spread The Net which is with Belinda Stronach and it provides nets for malaria in Africa. I work with KidSport as well, which helps kids play sports who otherwise couldn't afford to, whether it's equipment or fees. {These few lines do not even come close to communicating what an incredible humanitarian Hayley is.}

TM: So Noah is ten now. So far what would you say is the hardest phase of parenting?

HW: Well, he's in Grade 5, and now seems to be the hardest time really, because he's developing opinions about things and attitudes, and he's at that pre-puberty stage so it's certainly a challenge. You know, mom is cool, but then sometimes mom's not cool, and I have to learn sort of to not push sometimes when I want to spend time with him but he wants to be with his friends.It's different.

TM: I was hoping to hear that it gets easier, not harder!

HW: Well, it's different because when they're younger they need you all the time, but as they get older they still need you, even if it's not actually your presence, they still need to know that you're there. It's important for them to know that when they're getting older and forming opinions, and even if they don't physically want you there, they still need you.

TM: Where do you usually go for parenting advice?

HW: Oh, I go to my mom and dad, or friends who have kids. People with older children who have been through things.


Hayley and Noah in Turin, 2006
From CTV.ca Archives

TM: I've read that Noah thinks hockey is boring! Is that right?

HW: He would probably tell you that, yeah. He doesn't see much value in playing hockey but he likes to be at the rink and play Legos or read a book while I'm on the ice, so he's been a very good boy over the years being trucked from rink to rink, but no, he wouldn't choose hockey as his number one sport.

TM: How does he feel about your 'celebrity status'?

HW: I think sometimes it's cool and sometimes it's really annoying, he would say, depending on where we are. I think for the most part he looks at it like he doesn't care if we win a gold medal for a sport, he just wants to play Lego. He doesn't think I'm much of a celebrity.

TM:  My blog is called This Mom Loves, so my final question is - other than your family, and I'm guessing hockey, what are some other things you love?

HW: I love being outside. I love doing monotonous jobs, working on the family farm in Saskatchewan, physical work like that, sort of 'moving meditation', I love all sorts of music, and I love falling asleep to movies. I don't get through many of them, I fall asleep to most of them!

TM: I think that comes with being a mom! I make it through a lot less of of them than I used to, too!


Hayley shows off her gold medal to her farm friends

To learn more, check out Hayley's website, visit her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter!

* I'm not much of an investigative journalist. I didn't even like asking about this (but I had to fact-check), and I hesitated to even mention it here. I hate the whole "Nicole Kidman has two adopted children" type of writing, but I finally decided that Hayley's road to motherhood was interesting and relevant enough to merit a mention.