Friday, February 17

Netflix Cheating: Are You Guilty?

I feel like Jennifer Reid (wife of singer Johnny Reid) found the perfect Valentine this year:

Would you be angry at your partner if he (or she) watched the next Netflix episode without you? Are you guilty of sneaking in an episode or two yourself? For shame!

A recent survey showed that 46% of global Netflix viewers are guilty of streaming behind their partner's backs, compared to 37% in Canada - not a shocker that we're nicer than the international average, right?

I have to say I'm glad hubby was on holidays when we started watching The Crown, because if he had the excuse of work to slow down our binge-watch I just may have had to continue without him. Speaking of this awesome Netflix original, I can't wait to interview Claire Foy when I'm in London in July. (No, that's not a real thing, I'm just trying the whole put-it-out-into-the-universe theory...maybe it will come true.)

When looking for a new Netflix series, I asked my Facebook followers whether we should go with Suits or Homeland. The overwhelming response was Suits, so we dove in. At first we were both loving it, but once my husband said, "Go ahead and watch the next one without me," I knew we were in trouble. (This happened many times in the days of PVRing shows, and it always meant that he had lost interest in the show and I would be watching it alone for the rest of the series.)

Now I can continue with Suits guilt-free (and I'm still enjoying it, especially with the filmed-in-Toronto and girlfriend-of-Prince-Harry connections), but we did also start Homeland, which was much more appealing to my husband, so I wait to watch every episode with him. I swear.

Now, admit it...are you a Netflix cheater? Or maybe you're a victim who doesn't even know it. There must be a support group for that.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and receive swag and perks as part of my membership. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Thursday, February 9

My Latest Segment on The Social: The Mid-Year Check-In!

It's the halfway mark of the school year, and I was back at The Social to share information about report cards and parent/teacher interviews.

This time my mom was my date - and I think she really enjoyed a behind-the-scenes look at how the show operates.

Thanks to Le Chateau for again hooking me up with a gorgeous outfit (yes, that's a dress, and yes, those are pockets!) as well as the shoes, earrings and bracelets. Hair is by Andrea Zarlenga and makeup by Stephanie Cruz (who, coincidentally, was headed to a parent/teacher interview for her child that very afternoon!)

This time I was chatting with Cynthia Loyst and Marci Ien, and as always, the hosts were warm, supportive and positive - even those who weren't in the segment (Lainey was very kind afterwards, and Jess told me it was my best segment yet. Which she has said before, so either she's just always super kind or I keep improving!)

Video of the segment can be found below. I say this every time, but please know how much I appreciate the support I receive from you, whether in person, through email/text or over social media. It never gets old!

Meanwhile, On Kate's Instagram...

While I still love to delve into topics here on the blog, I also do a lot of "microblogging" on social media. I have the most followers on Twitter, but I'm finding almost zero interaction there lately (is it just me?) so I post a lot to Facebook and Instagram, where my followers seem much more supportive and "like-happy".

I realized, though, that readers who aren't on Instagram are missing out on some of my meaningful moments, so I thought I'd provide some highlights here - just from posts I've shared so far in 2017.

I microblog about...

Decor and Organization

A photo posted by Kate Winn (@katethismomloves) on

Kindergarten Fun

A photo posted by Kate Winn (@katethismomloves) on

Fashion and Beauty

Family Moments

A photo posted by Kate Winn (@katethismomloves) on


If you're on Instagram, pop over and say hi - I love to follow real, interactive people!

Tuesday, February 7

Netflix: My Initiation, Plus Valentine's Day Recos!

Yes, I'm a Netflix newbie. And now a total convert.

My girls (now 10 and 8) loved Full House reruns so much that they spent months begging us to sign up for Netflix so they could watch the reboot, Fuller House. Early in 2016 we obliged, and signed up for a one month trial. They caught the first season of the show they were so excited about, and we caught up on House of Cards. We realized that to maintain the service we needed an upgrade to our Internet plan, so we let it expire...very reluctantly on my part. (My husband also had worries about the kids and the potential for too much screen time...I'll come back to that later.) I was even invited to join other bloggers and social media folk in the Netflix Stream Team (a coveted spot, I might say)...and declined! I know, wild, right?

After Christmas, when we had been reading and hearing everywhere about the new Netflix original series The Crown, I knew I had the argument I needed to convince my historical-drama-buff hubby that we should sign up again. (And of course the girls were wearing us down since season 2 of Fuller House was also available!)

I can't even begin to explain how much we loved binge-watching The Crown, a "fictual" series based on the young Queen Elizabeth II. I was actually sad when the season ended, and cannot wait for the next one. I will definitely be sharing more details about The Crown in the future, and as a matter of fact, it just so happens that I will be travelling to London this summer...I'm not sure if the cast will be filming at that point, but wouldn't you all to see a Momterview here with Claire Foy, who plays Queen Elizabeth II to perfection??

In January, I was thrilled to again receive the invitation to join the Stream Team, along with a generous start-up gift (shown above) and I committed to share valuable Netflix news here with you, and on my social media channels. You can look forward to my personal recommendations, as well as ideas for what the girls are watching as well.

For now, you may be thinking about Valentine's Day entertainment, and Netflix has you covered with some fantastic movies, all free with your subscription.

My top choices:

P.S. I Love You (with Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler; the Irish part of me especially enjoyed it)

Valentine's Day (the ensemble romantic comedy with more stars than I can list here)

Bridesmaids (please tell me I don't need to explain this one for you)

How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days (classic Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy)

Focus (with Will Smith and Margot Robbie, some fun twists)

Cinderella (the live-action with Lily James; you can watch this with the whole family)

As for our Internet plan, we did pay $10 per month to increase our data allowance (and we will never go over our max now) but we'd already saved over $20 month by eliminating some extra channels from our satellite plan, so financially it's still a win. (I would get rid of satellite entirely but still want the basic networks for my favourite news and talk shows, though I know I can also find them online. The time will come; I'm just not quite ready.)

As for the worry about too much screen time, what I find with the kids is now when they are allowed to watch something, it's specific - they choose Netflix in order to continue or rewatch a series they love or select a movie - and don't just get stuck with whatever happens to be playing on the TV at the moment they're granted permission. Same quantity of screen time, but better quality (and convenience). Thanks, Netflix!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, and receive products in exchange for my participation. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Sunday, February 5

Teach Kids To Fight Germs #SDMFluFighters

Not long ago, I wrote an article for Parents Canada magazine all about teaching young kids not to spread germs. I interviewed a doctor - more specifically a pediatric infectious disease specialist - who said, "The number one way to reduce bacterial germs in any environment is to vaccinate your kids. Not only are they safe from those particular illnesses, but they also have less risk of developing infections from antibioticresistant superbugs."

So, assuming that your kids have been vaccinated (you all went to Shoppers Drug Mart for the flu shot this season, right?), here are some other ways to teach kids about germ-fighting. (I am writing this post at the end of a day when 12 of my 29 students were these are definitely concepts I'm sharing in the classroom as well!)

Whether we like it or not, kids quickly absorb information that comes to them through screens, and this great Germ Smart - Wash Your Hands video really engaged my students - and they were able to answer questions about it after. 

Picture books are a fantastic way to reinforce important concepts with little ones. A home daycare provider I know recommends Germs Are Not For Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick, and I also love Sid the Science Kid - The Trouble With Germs

For older kids interested in more advanced information, Achoo! The Most Interesting Book You'll Ever Read About Germs by Trudee Romanek really delves into the topic.

You can use songs to make germ-fighting more fun, for example by teaching kids to sing the ABCs once or the Happy Birthday song twice while they wash their hands (20 seconds is the recommended time frame), and if you want to take an extra step, you can buy a special gel that glows under UV light, showing kids what spots they missed after handwashing (usually under the fingernails and between the fingers).

The main points to stress with your children, aside from handwashing:
  • Cough and sneeze into the elbow
  • Use tissues (kids usually need explicit instruction on how to wipe or blow their noses)
  • Keep hands away from the face
I enlisted Iylie, one of my incredible kindergarten artists, to create a piece of artwork to go with the topic of germs and handwashing - can you believe what she came up with? She presented it to the class, noting that it was abstract, with germs in the corner and a triangular sink in the middle. (I know, wow, right?)

I'd like to end with another great quote from the pediatric infectious disease specialist, who shared some words of wisdom for the antibacterial-obsessed parents out there:

"Stressing ourselves out by trying to decontaminate our environment is an exercise in futility.” She suggests being reasonable in terms of cleaning surfaces with soap and water, but not obsessing over it.

I wish you and your children good health throughout this flu season and beyond!

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Friday, February 3

Loblaws Click and Collect: My Starring Video Role

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Loblaws Click & Collect for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

We've all been there: lying awake at night, thinking about the next day's to-do list, and wondering how to get everything done. Some people like to count sheep to fall asleep, I like to count all of the things that could be taken off my list if only I had a personal assistant (grocery shopping, for example)...but who can afford that?

Then, one year ago, Loblaws actually made my dream come true with the launch of their Loblaws Click and Collect program at my local store. What a treat to order my groceries online from the comfort of my own home, and have a trained personal shopper do the work for me. All I have to do is drive into the specially marked parking spot, phone in to the store and have the groceries brought right out to my vehicle.

"Ah, but what's the cost for this dream-come-true service?", you may be wondering. The cost to shop Loblaws groceries online  is...wait for it...drumroll please...either $3 or $5, depending on the day and time of your pickup. Really, that's it. The cost for the items is the exact same as in-store, and you can even link up your PC Plus account to earn points as well.

Even if I pick up my groceries at a peak weekend hour, it is still totally worth $5, not only for the time saved, but also because I'm sure that I cut 5 bucks off my order by not taking children into the store...and let's be honest, adults make impulse purchases too!

We are all so busy (my readers know that I'm a teacher, freelance writer and TV guest), with lists of errands that can be pages long, and Loblaws has really helped to ease that burden. It seemed like every weekend we'd vow to get groceries on Friday, and then it wouldn't happen. Saturday for sure, we would say, and then Saturday would fill up with kids' activities and yard work. Definitely Sunday then, after we prepped for the next school day...which usually meant a stressful last-minute run to the store so we had something to put in Monday's lunches!

Now, I order online, often while at my treadmill desk, or sometimes even sitting on the couch crashing at the end of a work day. Then only minutes are required to drive into the Loblaws parking lot and do the pick up. (I've trained the girls to do the unloading and putting away of groceries, so that's a time-saver too. I highly recommend you get your kids started on household chores as early as possible!)

While my kids are older now (ten and eight) and thankfully past needing to be buckled and unbuckled into carseats by mommy, I can't even imagine what a convenience this would be for parents of younger children. No need to wake the baby to take him or her into the store! (Payment is so easy too, as we keep a credit card on file.)

We've gotten to know the Click and Collect employees, and now it feels like they're friends that we see on a weekly basis. I love how I can leave a little note online (e.g., "Green bananas please", or "Didn't see our usual floor cleaner on the website; could you check the store for me?") and the shoppers always happily oblige. You can even indicate what your preference is if an item is out of stock - I always ask them to choose the most similar item in a different brand.

Other than the cost, the biggest question that friends and family ask me is about the quality of the food, especially produce and meat. I can swear that we have always (after dozens and dozens of Click and Collect experiences) been happy with the quality of the food: fresh produce and meat that's well before it's best-before date.

I highly recommend you try out Loblaws online grocery shopping for yourself.

I am such a fan of the service that when I was approached to be part of a testimonial video, I jumped at the chance (and there are very few brands I would want to go out on a limb for like that). You may remember that I dropped some hints about a special project going on in my home back in the summer (with a makeup artist required!), and my girls even got to be part of it as well. (With all the lights, cameras and crew, "It looks like Hollywood in our house!" Eva observed.)

The video is now online; please check it out for yourself below and let me know what you think, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions about the program!

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Wednesday, February 1

Kate's Favourite Things - February 2017

January was a busy month around here but I have four great titles to recommend today!

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan

This was one of the best books I've read in a long time, in my favourite suspense/thriller genre. A missing boy, a frantic mother and a multitude of suspects. Excellent read.

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

Because once I discover a great writer, I have to read another one of her books! I had no idea who the murderer really was in this multiple-perspectives novel. Random point: I noted with interest that the British author used the word "posh" twice in a less than flattering context, making me question whether or not I chose to identify with the right Spice Girl in my childhood. In my defense, she seems to have done well for herself. (And I am not spicy, sporty, scary or a baby so my options were limited.)

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Responsible for a tragedy, Shelby Richmond's life is changed forever. This is the story of how she (eventually) tries to get it back. While I won't tell you which character is being referred to in the following quote, I will tell you that it made me close my book and have a little cry - as a daughter and as a mother - before resuming my read:

"She doesn't have a mother anymore. There's no one to whom she's the most important person in the world."

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This autobiography of a neurosurgeon's battle with lung cancer was on almost every must-read list last year and I finally got around to it. I wasn't disappointed.

(Please note that I am a Chapters Indigo Affiliate and receive a small fee for sales made through links on my site.)

Friday, January 27

Do You Tell Your Daughter She's Beautiful?

I have to say I disagree with all those experts in magazines and on talk shows who say we shouldn't tell our girls they're beautiful, or those moms who warn, "Don't tell my daughter she's pretty!"

A very important word for me, particularly after my switch to the kindergarten program this year, is balance. Yes to play-based learning, and yes to exploring letters and sounds. Yes to student interest, and yes to teacher professional judgment. Don't swing too far in one direction.

In this context, that means yes to telling girls that the inside is what counts, that their efforts and achievements in all other facets of life matter more than their looks, and yes to telling them that they're beautiful.

You know what? I think I'm beautiful. I mean it still takes me 20 tries and a great filter to get a selfie that I'm willing to post publicly, but in the way that it matters, I'm content with my appearance.

By superficial standards I'm pretty average looking, and was so as a child as well (with a significant dip from 1991-1994 but we don't need to talk about that). Based on magazine standards, I have tall, thin and white going for me (and there have been a couple of short-lived bonus-points blonde periods) but there are a lot of my physical features that wouldn't make the cover of a magazine. If print magazines really still existed. (And no, I'm not going to tell you what I think those subpar features are!)

So why do I believe I'm beautiful? Because my parents always told me I was. They gave me compliments about specific features (looking back, I think they both made a conscious effort not to mention weight, mine or theirs, as I grew up), as well as general comments about how pretty I was. (One of my mom's best friends always called me "pretty Katie" and I still have a soft spot for her.) They didn't even blink an eye at horribly mismatched outfits or ridiculous hairstyles (though my dad has always made it clear that my natural hair colour is best). I knew that they thought I looked just right. (Mom even thought I looked good with a tight, brushed out perm...which is why it was my hairstyle of choice for many pivotal years. Wait, am I thanking her for this?)

Just to be clear, they were also appropriately critical (you know what I mean, mom!) and kept me in my place in many ways. It was not a house of constant, empty praise, and I loved earning my parents' approval (I just used the past tense there as if somehow implying that has ended) for a huge range of reasons, somehow realizing that even though they consistently told me how beautiful I was, it mattered less than anything else.

Perhaps because I was blessed in other ways: academic success, involvement in drama and public speaking, an exceptional talent for athletics (ha ha; just put that in to see if anyone I went to school with - or, let's be honest, anyone who's ever met me - is reading), I didn't think looks were the be-all-and-end-all of life. That didn't mean I didn't want to look good.

I tell my girls (currently ten and eight) all the right things we are told to say these days, especially to instill a growth mindset, praising effort over fixed qualities (you studied so hard vs. you're so smart), and in our home school work and music are high priorities, and we greatly value our daughters' independence, creativity and compassion. That said, I'm not ashamed to admit that I also tell them regularly how beautiful they are. Olivia with her big eyes and what I call her Angelina Jolie lips, Eva with her kissable cheeks and infectious smile. (I'm not excessive; I don't compliment their clear skin or small waists - as adult women we know now what the years and hormones can do to some features.)

When discussing the accomplishments and talents of other women (and men) with my children, I'm also quick to point out a beautiful feature of someone who is black, Asian, red-haired, short, media-defined-plus-sized or in any other way different from my girls as well, to make sure that their definition of beauty remains as broad as possible.

While I often rolled my eyes as a child and threw out an accusing "You have to say that, you're my parents!" I needed and wanted them to tell me I was beautiful, and as with many aspects of parenting, I am following their lead.

I don't imagine that in our lifetimes first world humans will decide that outward appearance doesn't matter. I do, however, think we are in the middle of a movement - and can propel forward that movement - which redefines what outward beauty is. And it's not that it doesn't matter, it's just that everyone has it.

I promise if I teach your daughter, I will help shine light on the gifts she has, encourage her interests, and make her see the value of her efforts, both academic and social, to make her a better person and open up her world. But I warn you, I will also be telling her how beautiful she is on the inside...and the outside.