Saturday, September 13

Perfect Parties Theme Nine: The Amazing Race Party

My friend Krista has done it again! This time she organized a super fun "Amazing Race" themed party for her daughter's birthday. If you're not a fan of the show, the details may be a bit confusing...but if your family does enjoy watching, it might be a great party theme to consider!

Colour Scheme: Red and yellow with black and white as accent colours (Amazing Race colours)

Decorations:  "Name's Amazing Race" signs and red and yellow balloons were all over the outside and inside of the house

Cake: Vanilla cupcakes with red sugar sprinkled on top in red liners and Amazing Race Flags as decorations

Loot Bags: Once the girls were in teams (they selected a random piece of coloured paper out of a bag and on the count of 3 they held out their hands and opened the paper to reveal which team they would be on) they received the matching coloured bag (to collect all of their clues), an Amazing Race water bottle, a bag of cheesies (snacks) and matching coloured sweatbands and bandana (to be worn during the race). All items were purchased at the dollar store, other than the water - and Krista added the labels herself. 

The second part of loot bags was matching blankets and glow sticks:

As teams arrived at the Pit Stop (made out of an old bath mat and coloured duct tape) they were allowed to select which matching blankets they wanted (which Krista thought was appropriate since the party was also a sleepover). It became a prize for finishing the race, and part of their loot bags. (Blankets purchased at Giant Tiger for $10 and glow sticks at Dollar Store.) The first place team received a dollar store trophy too!

A peek at the Pit Stop:

Route Info and Envelopes:  Krista would like to thank Chica and Jo's website for offering editable clues (details about their Amazing Race party available there as well).  She found a couple of clue ideas on the Internet and also made up a few of her own.

I have saved all of Krista's clues to Google Drive (three separate documents) which you can access here (feel free to use them!):

Amazing Race 3

As I read over her challenges, I was thinking that not only are they fun for kids, but many grownups would enjoy participating in an Amazing Race party too! Many of the same clues could be used, or they could be adapted to be as "adult" as you want!

First Leg:         “Hold Onto Your Spoon”
Second Leg:    “X Marks The Spot”
Third Leg:        DETOUR  “Squash It” or  “Washer It” 
Fourth Leg:      ROAD BLOCK “Poem Madness"
Fifth Leg:         FAST FORWARD “Oreo Kidding Me?"
Sixth Leg:        DETOUR “Lucky Doubles” or “Lucky Charms” 
Seventh Leg:   SPEED BUMP (means go back and do the other detour that you didn’t choose and do it)
Ninth Leg:       “You Better Do It Write"
Tenth Leg:       FAST FORWARD “Don’t Burst My Bubble”
Eleventh Leg:  “Don’t Be a Buckethead” 
Twelfth Leg:     “It’s Time to Build A Tower”

Gnome was purchased at Green Earth:

Krista says that the order of the clues doesn't matter, so feel free to switch it up. You need a copy of the clues for each team you have playing, and some supervisors (she enlisted grandparents) working at each station.

Teams were not allowed to leave their teammates behind and everyone was encouraged to be positive and a good sport to other teams. The girls had so much fun running the race and it just so happened that the birthday girl and her teammate ended up the winners!

Thanks again for sharing your (ahem) "amazing" ideas with us, Krista!

If you've missed any past party themes, they're all gathered together in a Perfect Party Roundup right here.

Monday, September 8

What You Might Have Missed This Summer: Volume I (Celebs, Decorating and More!)

So, you know how TV is full of reruns all summer? I'm switching that up a little bit and sharing some recaps with you in we're all getting used to being back-to-school, and I'm teaching a new grade, too!

Since you may have been travelling or just staying offline in the summer, you might have missed some of the action that happened here on the blog (probably the most exciting summer ever on This Mom Loves).

The July highlights:

Now you're all caught up on July! Hope your back-to-school is off to a great start!

Tuesday, September 2

Traci Melchor: Behind the Scenes at THE SOCIAL

My first meeting with Traci Melchor, eTalk reporter and co-host of THE SOCIAL, was very brief...for a good reason. As I ran into her in the wardrobe room on my behind-the-scenes visit to THE SOCIAL, she was busy selecting her outfit for a special occasion that day: an interview with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

We chatted briefly - she complimented my outfit, told me how excited she was to be interviewing her "future husband" (she makes no secret of her crush on The Rock) and promised that we could talk again later.

As the day filled up, we decided that a future phone chat was the best bet for our interview, and we finally coordinated our schedules last week for a great conversation.

On THE SOCIAL, Traci comes across as a bit of a comedic princess, openly joking about how she likes her lighting just so and her face on-camera as much as possible, while throwing out zany one-liners and non-sequiturs (she often has co-hosts Lainey Lui and Melissa Grelo giggling like schoolgirls on the other side of the table after one of her remarks).

While chatting one-on-one with this single mom (twins Phoebe and Phoenix are nine years old), I got to see a different side of Traci, and I have to admit I was a bit surprised by the depth and wisdom in her responses. There's something here for every mom to learn from. Enjoy!

You recently went through a battle with cancer (a rare form called DFSP, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans; more details here). How much information did you share with your kids, and how did you decide what to tell them?

I didn't share anything with them right off the top. Because my daughter discovered the spot, which led to my whole diagnosis, I didn't want to scare them. I knew I was going to be on bed rest and incapacitated for three weeks and they would have to see that, so I felt that that, in addition to knowing I had cancer, would be too much for them.  I also realized that I was going to have to deal with my own battle and figure that out first, but when I was over the hump and able to walk a bit more and they could see that I was on the mend and on the other side of it, that's when I told them. We had the conversation during my recovery.

Lainey Lui, Melissa Grelo, Cynthia Loyst, Traci Melchor

A question from a reader: "You're bubbly and friendly and a pleasure to watch on TV. Staying 'on' must take a lot of energy, especially as a single mom at home. How do you recharge your batteries and what do you do for 'me time'?"

You know I love my job, and even when I'm not at work I'm on my iPad, I'm doing research, reading newspapers and books and things like that, so that all feeds in to my job, but as my recovery continues I will start adding an exercise program into my life when I can figure out the time.

I really started delegating things in my life, and I know that's not an option for everybody but instead of doing my laundry every weekend I go to Wash-and-Fold, and I just drop it off and then pick it up on Sunday so I can have more time with my children. 

I also have a personal organizer come into my house a few times a month because for me parenting is challenging and it's great but no one ever told me about the amount of paperwork that comes with parenting. It can be very overwhelming with permission forms and extracurricular activities and "oh, it's green day today!". Keeping track of all of that is overwhelming so I'm not opposed to delegating anymore. I also let some things slide, and I have to get over it. 

I've even simplified my home. I only have white towels and white sheets so I don't have to worry about things matching all the time. If it's a white fitted and a white flat it's going on my bed. I don't get caught up in things like that. I've also even edited my kitchen. Now all my dishes are white, shatterproof Corelle. If people come over I can put out some fancy napkins with them. Streamlining is still a work in progress, but I find you don't need all that 'stuff' and it can bind you down because you have to clean it and figure out a place to keep it. Simplifying really helps.

Traci's Long Hair Look
(Photo courtesy CTV)

What would you say is the hardest thing about co-parenting with an ex? Do you have any tips for parents struggling with that?

I went to therapy with my ex after we broke up. He was looking for reconciliation and I was just looking to be able to speak to him in a civil manner. I find reading books on being divorced is helpful. I finally got it - I was on the jury for the TIFF Kids' Film Festival, and they had a couple of short films about children of divorce and there was one little moment that caught me. A lot of parents don't like to send the children's best clothes or best shoes to the ex's place, because they're afraid it's not going to come back, or not come back in the same condition, and during the course of the last year I realized that only hurts the child. When a child is seeing the other parent they want to feel confident and comfortable, it could be a new family situation, stepmom or stepdad and it's just stuff. Kids grow so fast and they're going to outgrow something and never get a chance to wear it half the time because we're not sending it between households. I think as parents we really have to let go of that stuff, if the child has a favourite pair of running shoes or whatever. 

We also can't send messages to the other parent through the children. No money messages. You really have to get on the same page. It's hard because it took my ex a while to come around to the idea that I'm not trying to fight, I'm just trying to coparent. I think there were hurt feelings on his part, but that's not saying I was a saint or a martyr in the situation because I'm sure if you talked to him, I brought my own issues to it too!

My kids are gone to LA right now, they're staying with their dad for the month of August and it's the longest they've been away from me, but I made an effort to pack each of them a proper suitcase, very organized with their favourite stuff, because I want them to feel confident and loved and secure with their dad, not just with me. We have to be the adults in those situations and figure it out for our kids, because they're the ones that get hurt. I'm still a work in progress - I was combing Phoebe's hair a while ago, and we were having this nice bonding moment facing the bathroom mirror and she was talking about something and I must have rolled my eyes because she said "Why is it that whenever I talk about Daddy you roll your eyes?", so that's something I have to work on. I keep thinking I'm doing all these great things but she's still getting those messages from me. Work in progress!

What's the funniest thing that's happened on the set of THE SOCIAL?

Well, just today we were talking about urban chicken farming and someone brought up ticks and I screamed out erratically "Did you know that a tick is an arachnid?" I just never knew that before and it really freaked me out. Everyday I'm just saying these things!

Someone came up to me after the show and said she thought the quote of the day was me saying that the raccoons in my neighbourhood are "like gangstas who wear their baseball hats backwards". Sometimes I don't really think about what I'm going to say before I say it! Obviously when we know the topics we're going to cover I think about those and prep myself and research but the beauty of our show is that we listen and have an actual conversation, so sometimes I'm just going to blurt out "ticks are arachnids"! 

Is there any celebrity out there you'd still love to interview?

Tina Turner. Definitely.

Traci's New Do
(Season 2 Photo Courtesy CTV)

Here's the last question, and it's a big one: your haircut. You've had it for several months now, so I'm wondering how you feel about it, and if you've had any regrets?

Since I first got my haircut in December of last year, I've actually cut it even more - now the sides are shaved! That happened after I came back from the cancer and the surgery and I'd been lying in bed for three weeks and there was a lot of dead, sick energy in my hair so that's why I shaved the sides down really low - I wanted to get the energy out, and I love it! When I see the old footage of me with long hair I don't even recognize that person, and I've had long hair all my life! No regrets. I still have a lot of variety in my styles, sometimes I wear it straight up or sometimes I have a little more curl in it. I feel freer! I'm not saying I'll never have long hair again but right now, in this moment, I'm still so excited about it!

Traci with THE SOCIAL team (and me!)

Thanks, Traci!

You can keep up with Traci Melchor on Twitter, and be sure to catch Season 2 of THE SOCIAL (premiering Tuesday, September 2) weekdays at 1 p.m. ET (2 p.m. AT) on CTV!

Friday, August 29

School/Work Snacks Makeover with Registered Dietitian Stefanie Senior

I love my carbs. Pasta, breads, crackers, name it, I love it (and my daughters seem to be following in my footsteps).

Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, but I know that all carbs are not created equal, and as I work on improving my nutrition, I asked for some advice from Stefanie Senior, Toronto-based registered dietitian and nutritionist.

Here's the challenge I put forth to her:

My school lunchbag is usually full of carb-y snacks like granola bars and crackers (don't worry, there's dairy in there too, and the girls are great for packing fruit - yes, they pack their own lunches).

I want to be able to purchase my snacks at the grocery store (no homemade granola-bar making for me) and of course I'm looking for yummy flavour.

Stefanie was up for the challenge and came through with some very helpful recommendations, while making the point that ideally each snack should include some carbohydrate AND protein (so I need to remember the cheese when I'm packing my crackers) and be as natural and unprocessed as possible.

Here's what she suggested (some suggestions do have peanuts so I'll choose carefully for work):

Granola Bars: Kashi (this is the only brand she recommends; I picked up their Chocolate Almond and Sea Salt With Chia)

Protein bars: Elevate Me, Vega, Quest, The Simply Bar, Taste of Nature (Argentina Peanut Plains)

Energy bars: other Taste of Nature bars, Kind, *Lara bar, *Go Raw, Bumble Bar, *Pure organic, Raw Revolution

Other carb choices: Air popped popcorn, Crisp Breads (Ryvita, Wasa, Lavash), Finn Crisps, Mary's Crackers, Baked tortilla chips (Que Pasa)

I also got the clear idea from her suggestions that "whole grain" is an important term to look for when I'm buying bread, english muffins, tortillas, etc., and for the most part I'm okay with that, though I still struggle with the taste of whole grain pasta. Mixing half white and half whole grain is a good way to start adjusting the taste buds.

While I want to begin with a carbohydrate makeover, Stefanie has several other healthy-snack suggestions from different food groups. Here are my favourites:

-light Mini Babybels
-low-fat cottage or ricotta cheese
-cheese strings
-Laughing Cow light
-yogurt (Greek is higher in protein)
-boiled egg

What I love about these suggestions is that I now have some healthier brand-names in mind when I'm scanning the grocery shelves for my school snacks. I've already added Kashi bars, Mary's Crackers, Finn Crisps and Babybels to my shopping list.

Stefanie Senior

Stefanie offers customized nutrition and weight loss plans, sport nutrition counselling, and motivational speaking (among other services) and is available through Skype for anyone across the country looking for assistance.You can find more information as well as some handy resources on her website.

Thanks so much, Stefanie! You have me on the path to (slightly) better nutrition!

Tuesday, August 26

Your Child's Classroom Placement - Why It's Great (Really!) My CHEX Daily TV Segment

Our school is almost completely made up of split-grade classes this year, and parents are eagerly (?) anticipating the announcement of who their children's teachers will be.

I know there can be a lot of anxiety (and some misconceptions) about how class placements are decided, which is why I tackled this topic for my most recent CHEX Daily TV segment. I also discussed, with hosts Caley Bedore and Mike Judson, why it's important for parents to keep their teacher preferences to themselves. If you're positive about your child's teacher, class placement and school in general, your child will be too!

Here's the video clip (I'm at the 33:00 mark if it doesn't cue where it's supposed to)

Email subscribers, check out the link here:

Thanks for your support, everyone!

Monday, August 25

To Do: Get Your Kids' Eyes Checked!

When was the last time your children had their eyes checked? As a parent, I've been taking my girls to see the eye doctor (officially known as a Doctor of Optometry) since the age of three. I got glasses when I was eight, and wanted to make sure that we don't miss any developing problems my kids may have.

As a teacher, I also see (no pun intended) a huge importance in this annual exam for kids. If students can't see the front of the room, or the words in the book in front of them, how can we expect them to learn? It’s true that undiagnosed vision problems can affect your child’s ability to reach their full potential. I've seen attention and behaviour difficulties which ended up being the result of the fact that the poor kids couldn't see properly.

According to Doctors of Optometry Canada, 1 in 4 school-age children has a vision problem, and since 80% of learning is obtained through vision, an eye exam is vitally important for your child's education...which makes the start of the school year the perfect time to book your appointment. Check out this video from a Doctor of Optometry on vision and problems at school:

While your family doctor may perform a simple sight test, or a screening may be done at school, it's still important to have a comprehensive eye exam from a Doctor of Optometry to identify any potential problems that might exist, with vision or eye health.

It is recommended that infants have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age. Children should have at least one eye exam between the ages of two and five, and then every year after starting school. My girls just had their annual exam, and they were very excited to model for you what you can expect - and are hoping that you will show your children! They also want other kids to know that there's no discomfort whatsoever with the exam. (Okay, maybe they didn't use the words "discomfort" or "whatsoever", but they want kids to know it doesn't hurt at all!)

Remember my daughters are six and eight; the steps will be different for very young children and may vary by doctor.

Getting a picture taken of your eyes

Waiting in the doctor's office

Covering one eye with a "spoon" and reading some letters on the wall

Reading letters (or naming pictures, e.g. cake, bird) close-up on a card

Pointing at some pictures (testing depth-perception)

Looking through a neat machine - like a HUGE set of glasses

Putting your chin and forehead in special spots on a machine
 so the doctor can look at your eyes REALLY closely

Posing with the amazing optometrist, Dr. Kwiat
(Thanks for letting us take pictures in your office!)

This was actually a very exciting exam for Frannie as she learned that the time has come for glasses, and we spent some time after the appointment trying on frames. I'll be sharing a picture of her chosen pair in the future.

The Doctors of Optometry Canada website offers additional information, including great tips for what to expect in terms of eye health and vision at different phases of childhood, and symptoms that may indicate a problem.

It's also important to note that you don't need a referral to book an appointment. Simply use the the Find a Doctor tool to locate a Doctor of Optometry near you.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Doctors of Optometry Canada, however the images and opinions are my own. For more information please visit

Thursday, August 21

Behind the Scenes at ET Canada with Cheryl Hickey

I first interviewed Cheryl Hickey, host of Entertainment Tonight Canada, three years ago, when we talked about (among many other things) her almost two-year-old son. Now Jaxson will soon be turning five, and has a little sister Nyla, born almost sixteen months ago.

Busy mom Cheryl recently welcomed me behind-the-scenes at ET Canada, and when we first met in person she was undergoing what she calls the "restoration process" with makeup artist Anne, while working on her laptop and talking on the phone. (I told you, busy.)

As we chatted (full interview at the bottom of the post), Cheryl proceeded to do her own hair, which surprisingly is the norm. “I have someone come in twice a week to give me new ideas but I really like doing my own hair! My mom used to perm and cut and do all that stuff – she wasn’t a hairdresser but she did it – and I kind of find it relaxing and I prefer to do it myself. I do have Donato Spa come in to give me ideas, and they colour my hair. I’m not a real blonde – shocking, right?" she jokes.

While all this was happening, co-host Rick Campanelli popped in for his own makeup session (he thought he noticed a pimple, and Cheryl quipped that it would be appropriate, since he seems to be reverse aging like Benjamin Button!) The two then took a moment to review Taylor Swift's new video (Shake It Off) in order to discuss it later on the show, as publicist Natasha looked on in the background.

(Random note: Executive Producer Sholeh Fabbri also stopped by and said hello during our chat, and I had to restrain myself from going into audition mode. You all remember this audition, right?)

Next, it was into Cheryl's well-stocked wardrobe closet, where she selected her outfit for the day (maybe my jumpsuit inspired her?) As she gave me a mini-tour, she pointed our her family photos and artwork, which I paid more attention to once she clarified that it was actually her artwork - she likes to paint in her spare time. (She gets credit for the painting you can see on the shelf in the photo.)

While Cheryl headed to do some voiceovers for the day's show, I took a moment to snap a pic of this poster, showing Cheryl and Mary Hart, the original hosts of their respective ET programs.

I then met Cheryl on set, where all of the TV magic happens. A couple of surprises for me:

  • The show isn't live (I knew that part), but while I envisioned it being taped in sequence, with the hosts watching the clips/interviews, in fact they do their bits in no apparent order, and don't view the other portions of the show while on set. (I thought I would see the whole content of the show while I was in studio with Cheryl, but only saw the portions where Cheryl and Rick were speaking.)
  • Despite the fact that the show is taped early in the day, they prepare for last minute events: Cheryl taped "We begin now with breaking news." (serious voice) and "We begin now with breaking news!" (happy voice) intros just in case.

Cheryl's look for the day (thanks to ET Canada for this pic)

A quick beauty tip from the set: Cheryl recommends Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs for covering up any blotches, pale spots or varicose veins before going on-camera. "All the stars use it!" 

She also demonstrated that if you stand on set like you normally would, you look like a slouch. She then modeled the proper "meeting the queen" stance, which I have been trying to imitate from that moment on.

Since returning from mat leave (when Nyla was six months old) Cheryl has been working part-time so she can spend the afternoon with her little ones, so by 1:00 she was wrapping up and ready to head home and put her mommy hat back on.

You all know how much I love my behind-the-scenes experiences, and I had lots of fun on the set of ET Canada...and learned a ton about how the show is put together!
Now, as promised, here's my one-on-one with Cheryl!

I’m going to start off with the most burning question from my readers: what are your beauty secrets?

Well, I think it all begins with water, water, water. Then good skin care: washing, exfoliation. I had a lot of pregnancy mask after my son and then a bit after my daughter, so I was going for some photofacials and things like that and also I use sunscreen every day. I did some damage when I was 16 like we all do but now I’m good about wearing sunscreen. A good serum is always important. I love Elizabeth Grant and their Vitamin C creams. I also love SkinCeuticals. I use Jane Iredale every day for skin care and makeup because it’s all natural and it lets your skin breathe. There are a few things I use and I dance between them because as you know if you just use one your skin gets used to it, so I go between Elizabeth Grant, SkinCeuticals and Jane Iredale.

Any opinions on the cosmetic surgery debate? 

I think every woman should do what they need to do for their bodies. I am not going to stand up on a pedestal and say “you can’t do this, you should do this”. I think childbirth does amazing things to the body and what a woman chooses to do afterwards is her decision. It’s her body. In terms  of being a mom, I think you do what you need to do.

Do you feel a pressure in the TV business to keep looking young? Is that something that stresses you as a TV personality?

No, it doesn’t stress me. Maybe it would if I didn’t have the perspective I do, with someone in our family fighting a degenerative disease. My mom has MS and I watch what happens with her and I think we’re lucky to get to age. Is there a little more spotlight on me in television? Absolutely. I gained 70 pounds on the show and I lost 70 pounds on the show...twice! There were days when I felt extremely self-conscious and vulnerable but that’s the beauty of being a woman – the gift and the curse. I’ve had days where I’ve thought “Oh, I have all these blotches and I’m sticking out everywhere!”, but I can’t sweat the small stuff when I watch what’s happening to some other people I know. Plus I have the magician here {gestures towards makeup artist Anne} so really I’ve got a leg up over what most women get! I’ve got great lighting, excellent cameramen and an amazing makeup artist so it’s really nothing to do with me!

What do you do to keep fit and in stay in shape?

I have two kids! I have a toddler and a four-year-old with more energy than you can imagine so right now my physical activity revolves around theirs, which is very physical! When that subsides a bit I will get back into Pilates and the things that I like to do but that’s my fitness right now.

So your son is heading into year 2 of kindergarten?

Yes. Full-time this year, but we made the controversial decision to send him part-time last year {Ontario has a new full day, every day Early Learning Kindergarten Program}. It was not a popular decision but it was the decision we made as a family. When he started school he was three. I understand what the government is doing and they want to help parents but my guy was not ready to do his own shoes and zipper and be responsible for eating and drinking on his own. He was three and that was still a mommy’s job, so we made the decision that he would be part-time and it was a great experience for him. He loved it.

Is back-to-school a big deal at your house?

Yes, I finished all his back-to-school shopping last week. He’s picked out his Transformers backpack and lunchbox and thermos so everything’s organized and ready to go!

Any tips for making the school day run smoothly?

Schedule. When kids are in school – and I’m not on a soapbox because I’ve just had a JK-er, what do I know? – but what works for our family is a consistent bedtime, good nutrition, no sugar before bed, and a positive attitude about a school year. That really helps. If I’m excited about it, he’s excited about it. Being organized is important, getting your back-to-school shopping done before everything’s picked over. Letting them make choices too. He picked out his backpack and everything to get excited and have some ownership.

You had a little piece in Today’s Parent recently {she and co-host Rick took on opposite viewpoints of trampolines for their "Debate" feature}. How did that come about?

Our publicist, Natasha, handles these sorts of things and she came to us with this idea. Rick and I have fun debating things – from Taylor Swift and her latest song to parenting. We both have different ideas and different perspectives, plus he’s a dad and I’m a mom, and our kids are different ages but this opportunity came up and we went for it.

Is writing something you’d like to do more of?

Well, I’d like to but my plate is pretty darn full! {At this point Cheryl shared a *big* secret project she’s been working on that I can’t tell you about for another few weeks...but I promise I will then!}

(Because of course I needed a photo on set!)

You’re active on social media, and I’m curious how you handle the negativity that comes your way?

I read it, I understand it, I respond to the ones I need to and I move on. Really I can count on my hand the number of negative comments I’ve received so I guess I’m lucky. There was one woman who didn’t like my outfit for a whole week and thought I had a bad choice of wardrobe and I respect that. Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I miss it, and that’s on me.

Most stations show ET and ET Canada back-to-back. The news is the news, so how do you ensure that the content isn’t going to be repetitive for viewers?

We start the day with our morning meeting at 9:00 where we run down the entire list of options for the day , and they have a discussion with everybody about what else ET is having, so there are times we overlap, but the conscious effort is to make sure we put our touch and Canadian spin on it, whether we take the story further with an expert or with someone else who can speak to it.

What about when a big story breaks, like Robin Williams’ suicide?

The scheduled lineup has to change for sure. With that particular example, we were already packaged and the show was in bed when we got the news, so for the next day everyone started to make phone calls and make sure we had our experts ready and everyone goes to the wall and gets it done.

I’m not expecting you to name any names, but can you give any examples of bad celebrity behaviour you’ve seen at junkets or in interviews?

I always find it fascinating why people want to know the bad stuff...but I guess I understand! I’ve never had a bad celebrity. When I do an interview, it’s agreed upon. They’re there to promote a movie and I’m there to do my job so they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they decide not to play ball, so for the most part people are professional.

Who’s still on your list that you’d like to interview?

I really want to interview Kate Hudson and her mom at the same time. I love what Goldie Hawn is doing with mindful parenting and teaching mindfulness. I think it’s so important in this society where we’re so plugged in with Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, it’s reminding people how to communicate again and giving parents tools on how to engage their kids in this era. I love what she’s doing, and I just love her positive, free-spirit attitude. I’d love to sit down with the both of them.

I was also a huge New Kids on the Block fan – still am – and every time there’s an opportunity to interview them I shy away from it because I don’t want to ruin my “thing”. I was in love with Joey McIntyre. Everyone had someone. So I haven’t done that yet, and I’m hoping this year for our 10th anniversary I’ll be able to interview them. I’ll take my sister and my best friend and turn it into a thing!

I’d love to interview Michelle Obama too because I find her really interesting. Betty White. I love her! Melissa McCarthy is my funny lady, who makes me ugly laugh.

As hosts, do you argue over who gets what interview?

No, because we don’t get to decide! They know us by now, and what makes us tick, and who we’ll gel with so they make those decisions. It's also based on what we have going on with our lives. The show is very family-oriented.

Do you have to travel much for ET Canada?

I used to travel a lot, but now I’m mostly in studio. I travel when they have a big interview and they want me to go. When I was pregnant I wasn’t travelling much because I was large!

You have TIFF coming up again very soon. Does it ever get old, covering the Festival year after year?

No, because it’s always different. Who’s going to be here, how we cover it, the interviews, the movies. It’s all different. The one thing that remains the same is the fans, because they’re such educated movie-goers in Toronto. They really know film, and I think the stars know that, because they say it in interviews. It’s exciting, and a time to get extra-glammed up and interview some exciting people. I’m excited to maybe interview Jason Bateman this year. Love him!

Thanks, Cheryl! You can find Cheryl on Twitter, and of course catch the entire ET Canada gang weeknights on Global. They'll be celebrating Season 10 beginning September 2!

Sunday, August 17

Cynthia Loyst: Behind the Scenes at THE SOCIAL

{If you missed it, my Momterview with Cynthia Loyst from a few months ago is HERE. She spoke about how she landed the role on the show, her thoughts about the institution of marriage, and being a mom to her now fourteen month old son Jaya. The interview has held the top spot for pageviews here on This Mom Loves for several months, though it had some competition from coverage of her co-host Lainey's Smut Soiree. Clearly a lot of my readers are fans of THE SOCIAL!}

When I had the chance to go behind-the-scenes at THE SOCIAL, I walked into the co-hosts' office in the morning and Cynthia immediately jumped up and greeted me with enthusiasm and a warm hug. I really do feel like we're friends already, and the more I hear her talk on the show, the more I feel we're kindred spirits. Need proof? She likes to go to bed early. She never really cared for the bar scene, especially when strange guys would try to dirty dance behind her. She used to be a belly-dancer. Fine, we don't have that trait in common, but still..

After the show, Cynthia and I had a chance to sit down and catch up, and I had a few new questions (some mine, some from my readers) to throw at her.

What are your favourite topics to cover on the show?

We cover such a range of topics, but I'm fired up about anything to do with love and sexuality and gender, particularly when we start to pigeonhole people into gendered ideas, though it's hard not to do that I must say. I'm one of the people who often is saying "we can't say all men are x, y and z," or "we can't say all women are x, y and z" that stuff kind of gets me fired up.

But then the most random topics will get me worked up. One day when I was riding into work I heard about a Mississauga bylaw that was taking place because a man saw his neighbour's laundry hung up too high, and there was too much of it, so they actually passed a law legislating what types of drying mechanisms you can have in your backyard or how much laundry you can have, and I thought "Oh my goodness, what have we come to in this world?" Talk about first-world, suburban problems, where someone's not harming anybody, except maybe the vision of your perfect home, and they're actually trying to help the environment, and yet you're going to cause such a big stink over this. Now a small caveat: when I actually saw a photo of the laundry when I got to work it was alarming, but I still stand by the fact that I hope we live in a world where we can throw out some of those ideas, especially when it's for the greater good.

Long and short of it, when it comes to love, relationships, family and gender, those are the stories I most gravitate towards.

And what about guest segments? Do you ever get to work and think "Yay! We're doing this today!" or "Oh no! We're doing this today!"?

I have a love/hate relationship with the exercise segments. Right now I am woefully out of shape. {Here I gave her the required "Yeah, right!" look, though I totally understand that there's a difference between being thin and being fit.} I think I'm eating less, or I'm running around chasing the baby, but I actually am the least in shape I've ever been in terms of muscle tone. Whenever I do an exercise segment which is maybe five or eight minutes long I hurt the next day afterwards. That's how pathetic I am right now! I know Lainey and I were rolling our eyes because I think we're in the fitness segment tomorrow and we often feel like we get very winded - they're tough!

I love fashion segments. Erica Wark is our guest stylist on the show - and she, of course, as you probably know just got engaged live on the show - and we love her. She's like part of the extended family of our team, and she's so talented at what she does. Let's face it, fashion is just so fun! On that note too, Matthew is our guest hairstylist on the show, and I learned great ideas from him last week. I'm not one of those people who has ever really looked at a magazine and been able to teach myself a new hairstyle, but I do learn from those segments and there are things I've gone home and tried.

At other shows you've worked on before you've also worn a "producer" hat. How different is it to just be on-screen this time around?

You know, it's been a hard transition for me. I never wanted to be in front of the camera. Part of what interested me about television was producing real people's stories and I was into documentary production for a long time, and I loved getting to meet people and sit down with them in their home and having them tell their own stories. I never felt the need to be in front of the camera. But things change in the world and in a way it was a survival mechanism for me. At the time, there were a bunch of layoffs, kind of like what's going on right now in the world of television, and I made a pitch to someone because I thought my job was in jeopardy, that I could produce and host a show about sexuality. That was my wheelhouse at the time, I was writing an advice column, and it just so happened that it was accepted because it cost next to nothing to do so that's when I hosted Sex Matters on CP24 so I got to do both at that time, the whole thing rested on my shoulders.

But now, I get to take a step back as producers do their jobs. I still sometimes have to remember to, as Traci puts it "stay in my lane," because I'll be thinking in my head about things that should be happening or should be done, or this needs to move on, and I've learned to just let that hat be tossed away. But it's hard! Producers by nature can be control freaks and part of the thing about being on-air is you have to let things go.

Can you think of any funny mishaps or bloopers that have happened on the show?

There are a lot of undergarment mishaps! Some of us are all about the supportive undergarments and layering though some of us...okay, I'll say it, Lainey often doesn't wear underwear! But sometimes we'll get dressed and realize that a bunch of stuff has to change because undergarments are showing, so that happens. It doesn't make it to air!

One time early on when the show first launched I was walking down the stairs and my shoe somehow just came off! God bless Traci, she picked it up and put it Cinderella-style back on me right before I was going to sit in my seat because it was way behind me. I also worry that one of us is going to trip down those stairs. I know we've gotten more confident and cocky and I don't often use the handrail so that might happen, we might pull a Jennifer Lawrence sometime, but it hasn't happened yet!

Before THE SOCIAL started, people (like me!) used to say "I wish we had a Canadian show like THE VIEW". Then when you started, it was made clear that there shouldn't be a comparison, and that this show would be very different. Lately, I've seen at least two American guests come on THE SOCIAL and say "I wish we had a show like this in the States", which makes it seem like you've almost surpassed what they're offering. What do you think it is that sets you apart?

I think there are a few things. I really do think it's our dynamic with each other. I didn't know the other girls very well before we launched the show, and when I first heard this was our lineup I wondered "Are we different enough? Is this going to stand out? Are we going to butt heads?" Then the show started to evolve and I realized we are such distinct personalities so that's what people say to us, that we're very strong, opinionated women and that we're all very different from each other. So I think that's one.

We also very much care for each other, so there's not the same kind of drama behind-the-scenes. We have gotten into some intense discussions but we do really all deeply care for each other, and I think that shows through too, that it's not speaking this story that we often hear where women can't have arguments with each other without having trouble off-camera, so I think maybe people are picking up on that dynamic.

I also think that we're able to let topics breathe. I know from watching THE VIEW more recently, they fire off and go through a lot of topics very quickly and I think it's harder to get in depth into an idea that way.

Plus we also bring our own personal experiences and I think - or I hope - that people really feel they become a part of our lives, through the interactivity with social media as well. People can literally tell us, in the moment, what they're thinking about something we've said and we respond back. I think that whole thing has created a kind of intimacy.

Who's your dream guest for THE SOCIAL?

I've been a huge fan of Prince since childhood. I'm a total dork about him, I grew up on his music and had fantasies at one point in time about being in a relationship with him. He's such an odd bird but I have huge respect for him as a performer. He's so shy and complicated that I would be beside myself but I would love for him to be on the show. Plus maybe I could try on his heels!

Thanks, Cynthia!

Be sure to follow Cynthia on Twitter, and of course catch her on THE SOCIAL weekdays on CTV.