Thursday, June 27

Sedentary Mom To Active Mom: Special Guest Post

Today as my special guest blogger I'm welcoming Jennifer from Real Clear Cool, who is sharing her inspirational story about becoming active, for her own health and for her children.

*******************

Sedentary Mom to Active Mom: Modelling Good Health Behaviours for my Kids





Here’s my truth: for most of my life I have been a very sedentary person. I was not born with any athletic ability. In my childhood, I preferred the company of my dolls and a good book over any type of sporting activity. In elementary and secondary school, I avoided team sports like the plague. My tendency has always been to be a rather bookish person, and I was quite happy being that person.

As I grew older, I noticed my weight start to increase. It was very gradual at first, but as I inched towards the age of forty, the pounds started to accumulate rather quickly. After losing my mother to an aggressive form of breast cancer, I had an epiphany. If I wanted to be around to see my kids grow up, I needed to pay attention to my health, and fast. The excess pounds are a major risk factor for breast cancer, and this was one of the main risk factors that I could control.

So at the age of forty, I decided to change my bad health ways. I hired a personal trainer to help guide me in the ways of fitness, in the safest way possible. I joined Weight Watchers and started to forgo my penchant for both fast food, and processed treats. Soon, I started to see my weight decline, and my waist line shrink. As of June 2013, I have lost 45 pounds, and many inches of body fat.

My kids have seen me start to monitor my food intake more carefully. I have had to be much more deliberate about what foods I eat, and in what quantities. I explain to them why I am limiting my intake of say, potato chips, and what it does to Mommy’s body when I eat all that junk food. Even though we still have all that food in the house, I deliberately avoid it, and my kids are starting to understand why. They know that junk food is only a “treat” for me, and I am trying to get them to see why those foods don’t need to be part of the picture as often. I keep sweet fruit in the house at all times, and as they see me eat it more frequently, I notice that they ask for it more frequently. Score!

If I want my kids to be healthy and active, then I too need to be healthy and active. As much as like to read books and watch television, I need to engage my body in some type of physical activity in order to maintain my new body shape. So, I have decided to change my identity from “sedentary mom” to “active mom”. I still don’t like participating in sports or any type of organized exercise activity, but I do my own type of exercise that suits my lifestyle. That includes walking my dog (briskly!), riding my bike and doing yoga in my bedroom.

My kids don’t need a lazy, unhealthy and obese mom. They need an active, engaged and healthy mom; my hope is that by seeing me engaging in healthy lifestyle choices, they will also adopt similar healthy behaviours. Even though physical exercise still doesn’t come to me all that naturally, by repetition I will gradually incorporate activity into my normal day-to-day routine. In so doing, I am hoping that my kids will do the same.

**********

Thanks, Jennifer!   Visit Real Clear Cool for more of Jennifer's health, fitness and weight loss stories, as well as product reviews/giveaways and more!

Wednesday, June 26

Wednesday Words on Endings

I have to thank Sandra E. Martin for tweeting out this quote last weekend (since I haven't read the book or seen the movie myself). As soon as I read it, I loved it:


Monday, June 24

Real Mom of Los Angeles: Special Guest Post

I'm really excited today to bring you a guest post from Virginia Cunningham, a Los Angeles-based writer and mom. While I think I would fit in better in New York than California (except for the weather, of course!) I am totally into Hollywood happenings, and have many preconceived notions about what it would be like to live there. Here, Virginia is sharing the truth, with tons of ideas for what regular families can do when in L.A. (It's pretty high on my bucket list, so hopefully I'll be referencing this post again soon!)

****************

Real Mom of L.A.

When people think of Los Angeles, the image of red-carpets, scandals and high-end shopping is what they see— not exactly high-ranking items on kids’ to-do lists. Yet, raising kids in LA is extraordinary; there’s so much for them to know and experience. Living in LA isn’t all glitter and glamour; there are many days when we just hang out at the mall or park. But, when the weekend rolls around, the fun begins!

Our children love adventures, and there are plenty of those in Los Angeles. From Disneyland to the mountains around Santa Barbara, to the Joshua Tree Desert and the beautiful beaches around San Diego, LA has so much to be explored within a short drive.

The best way to find the hidden treasures of Southern California is to seek advice from a local, so here are some foolproof excursions for moms who need a tour guide in the Golden State:

Even if you’re visiting from Zimbabwe, there’s a good chance you’ll want to take your children to Disneyland.  But if your little thrillseekers are above toddler age, think about Six Flags Magic Mountain.  Six Flags has some of the most extreme roller coasters in the world, and its various speed-passes allow you to spend less time in lines. Tots won’t want to miss Legoland, and if you’re venturing into SoCal during the fall, the Halloween fantasia of Knott’s Scary Farm is a must.


Six Flags

For smaller children in particular, the obvious tourist destinations in Hollywood probably won’t mean that much—Barney and the Wiggles have yet to get their stars; however, if you explore beyond the Walk of Fame and tours of celebrity homes, Tinseltown offers some better-kept secrets that you and your kids will adore in equal measure.

If you’re staying with friends rather than a hotel, the Hollywood Farmer’s Market is a stone-cold must.  A true institution among townies, this Sunday morning tradition just off Sunset Blvd. is much more than just a place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Visitors will feel part of the city in no time, and the wholesome family vibe is incomparable.

Your kids can pet baby goats from local cheese and dairy producers (Soledad Goats), get their faces painted or jam with other children in a DIY music playpen.  And yes, the produce and local specialties are amazing; not only will you be supporting independent growers and artisans, you’ll also know you’ll be feeding your little ones sustainably and organically.




Almost every tourist knows about the famed Hollywood sign, but not everyone is aware you can leisurely trot underneath the sign on horseback at Sunset Ranch.  Don’t worry— the pace is very kid-friendly, and the horses are naturals with the little ones.  The ocean view from historic Griffith Park is breathtaking; the tour guides’ cowpoke patter is hilarious, and you get to see the site of the original Batcave.

For music lovers, both the L.A. Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl have a number of summer programs aimed at turning younger ears onto music, and the nighttime electricity of the Bowl brings out a sense of childhood wonder in everyone.

The natural wonders of California are truly like nothing else, so if you’re looking for some downtime after an amusement park, make time for some at least one of the eye-popping seascapes scattered around greater Los Angeles. Orange County is great for beaches, and the historic mission of sleepy San Juan Capistrano makes for a great retreat.

If you’re willing and able to do a little driving, the beaches and state parks of Malibu are hard to beat. Matador Beach is particularly inspiring, and your kids may actually get to see dolphins gamboling in the distance.  Malibu has its share of gently sloped hiking trails that are perfect for kids— the mix of waterfalls and misty green hills truly feel like a fairy tale.

Even for locals, part of the fun of Los Angeles is exploring—  it would take a lifetime to overturn every fun-filled destination. While you can get around without a car if you need to, it’s not recommended for newbies. Some of the best fun is to be had cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in search of the best fish taco stand.  As long as you know where you’re going, getting a little lost can be a great idea. Have fun!




 ***************

I just had to know if Virginia has run into any celebs while out and about in L.A., so I asked her! Virginia's response: "I've seen Kristen Stewart while shopping at a vintage store on Ventura Boulevard and once saw Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian leaving a restaurant I was going into for breakfast! It can be a bit surreal seeing celebrities in regular grocery stores and shopping at Target right next to me but honestly now that I have lived here most of my life it doesn't even surprise me much anymore."
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer and mother of three in the Los Angeles area. Her writing specializes in health, travel, tech and marketing. She also works with Northwest Pharmacy. As a local of L.A. herself, she often goes on adventures around the city with her family.

Wednesday, June 19

Wednesday Words About Control

"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear
understanding of one principle: Some things are
within your control, and some things are not."


Epictetus, 1st century Greek philosopher


Monday, June 17

Time To Take Your Family Outside: Guest Post on Outdoor Fun

I will admit that I'm not great at getting outside with my girls. I'm an indoor girl myself, and too focused on productivity and multitasking to just stop and smell the flowers (though now being able to read/work poolside is definitely a huge draw). I love that my daughters have reached the age that I can send them out the door to play, and and be confident that they're getting fresh air and exercise without my direct supervision. However, I certainly realize that part of the joy of being outside is spending that time together. My special guest blogger today is Sarah Stevenson, here with some fun outdoor suggestions for all of us (but especially me!)

**************

Summer is here, so it's time to plop your kids in front of the computer or shove them in the corner with an iPhone, right? Wrong! Technology may seem like a great babysitter, especially considering it keeps our hands free, but it is never a viable substitute for quality bonding time with the family. Instead of allowing your little one to be entertained by technology this summer, how about you get the whole family together for some fun in the sun outside? You can build lasting memories; get some great exercise and all the benefits that come wrapped up with a day in nature. Here are a few suggestions.

Day At The Park: Parks are a great place to have all sorts of fun. Pack a healthy picnic lunch because you can get hungry running around with your little rascals. Bring kites, balls, Frisbees, bikes, skateboards or anything that would be fun in a big open space. Best of all -- it's free!

Fun Bag In The Trunk: My son and I have a "bag full o' fun" ready when the urge to play strikes us. We've been known to pull over at random when we see an open space perfect for throwing a football around. Keep your family guessing: they'll never know when you are going to pull over and get into the fun bag. Fill it with Frisbees, baseballs, footballs, basketballs and kites.

• Outdoor Movie Night: Set up some blankets and pillows outside and take advantage of the warm summer nights -- in your own backyard. You can rent a projector and screen or if it's something you really like doing you may want to invest in one. Pop some popcorn, hang some Christmas lights around the tree for a romantic look and voilà! You have yourself an outdoor movie extravaganza.

• Squirt Gun Battle: Squirt guns are a fun, inexpensive way to burn energy and lock in some silly memories for you and your family. If you family is big enough, make teams. If not, then it's every man for himself. Wear grubby clothes and fill your guns up with water and a bit of food coloring, whoever has the most color on the opponents gets to pick where everyone goes for dinner.

• Throw-back Fun: Remember the games you played as a kid at recess? Freeze tag, red rover, dodge ball and Simon Says are all super fun activities that the whole family can participate in. This is also a great way to show your kids what mom and dad use to do for fun before the wave of technology hit shore.

• Bug Hunting: Insect hunting can be both educational and fun. Get a bug aquarium for each child and set out for some bug catching. You can do it in your own backyard or go for a hike and find them there. If you're on a hike, it may be helpful to be able to identify poisonous or not-so-friendly bugs. (A visit to the emergency room, while it may indeed be a bonding experience, is not the most fun way to spend an afternoon or evening with the family.) Once you've caught the bugs you can identify what they like to eat, where they originate from, and their particular species. Letting the bugs go is a sweet way to teach your family respect for all living things, so once you've had your learning fun, set them free.

• A Family Of Artists: Purchase big pad of paper, watercolor paints, brushes and anything else you may need for an artistic adventure. Take the family to the local beach, park or playground and paint what you see. You even can get a big roll of paper so that you can all paint a masterpiece together. Make sure to sign and date it -- maybe even have it framed and hang it on the wall.

• Make a Movie: Here is a fun way to use technology to your bonding advantage. Most smart phones have the video recording option. Think up a story together that you can act out. Write a script and give each person a part. Pick a place to film and set out for LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! You can upload it to your computer, edit it and watch it on movie night.

Once you get out of the house and into the sun or moonlight, you will find the many benefits it has to offer your family. Quality time spent as a whole will cultivate an unbreakable bond between you and those you love. You are teaching your children how to be creative parents someday as well. So get on out there and have some fun in the sun.

**********************



Sarah Stevenson, a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Southern California and one of the fitness and wellness experts at www.beachbody.com. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and teaches not only yoga classes but also life affirming workshops. Beachbody provides effective and popular work out videos, including fun fit kid videos from Beachbody trainer Shaun T. Beachbody also has premium supplements for weight loss, sports performance, and better health and home gym accessories.

Monday, June 10

My Entertainment Tonight Canada Audition

So, remember back when I changed my profile photo, and I mentioned that I was all dressed up for a reason? Yeah, so this was the reason. And I've finally worked up my nerve to tell you all about it.

Back in March, Entertainment Tonight Canada put out a call for guest cohost audition videos, and I was all over it. I wrote up my script, chose a background to put up on my Smartboard at school (I just googled the ET Canada set and found the photo below) and assembled my wardrobe and cheesy props. (You'll have to watch the video to see those!)





My husband was in charge of production, direction, lighting and sound (on very short notice)...and we did it in two takes. I uploaded my video to the site (without editing; that sort of thing I only do with words, not videos), and my work was done. I knew that the show had set a date when they would be announcing the top four for Canada to vote on, and I figured that if I didn't make the cut no one would ever have to know that I entered.

Silly me.

A couple of nights before the big top four reveal, ET Canada decided to run some samples of the thousands of entries they'd received...and mine was one of them! (Of course they showed the part with my cheesy props!) Some were funny, some were serious, and some were superprofessional. In fact, there was one extremely professional video/host contender that I thought would win the competition hands-down (which helped me lower my expectations).

Of course I freaked out that I was actually shown on national television (and it's PVRd at my house if you ever want to watch it) but the ONLY person who saw it and recognized me was the husband of one of my coworkers. It was a funny conversation after the March Break: "So, Kate, this may sound weird, but were you on ET Canada because my husband thought he saw you...?"

There were about ten different clips shown, and I'm not at all saying that I made it to the top ten, but the four nominees were part of that group, so, you know. I kinda like to think that I did; so sue me.

Two nights later, the top four were announced (I made my husband watch it and report back to me) but alas, I did not make the cut. Nor did the woman whom I thought was the obvious front-runner, so I think they were looking for more of an interesting, talented "fan" than someone who was seriously looking to be a career TV host.

Although I was really excited about the idea of winning, I have to admit that I saw the silver lining and was actually a bit relieved not to be part of the top four voting competition. I'm just not the campaign-for-votes type, and it would have stressed me out. (But still would have been pretty cool. And no sour grapes here: all four candidates were great, and the eventual winner did a wonderful job.)

Anyway, it was a fun experience to break out of my shell and put the video together, and an honour to be included on the show. Maybe someday they'll come calling for me....or one of their competitors will, perhaps? I'll entertain a bidding war.

So, for your own viewing amusement (and so I can cross "risk-taking" off my list for the month), here's the minute-long video - the link is from Google Drive; I promise it's safe.

Go easy on me...(hey, my daily audience is a room full of 8 and 9 year olds and they always love me!)

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8-d8UttwJONckZfZnUtM2NlYUE/edit?usp=sharing

Thursday, June 6

"The Search Angel" by Tish Cohen (Review)

So, I'm a little embarrassed to say that this is the first book I've read from Canadian-born Tish Cohen.

The funny thing is, when publishers contact me about adult fiction, I usually pass, since I'm quite picky about what I like, and don't want to waste my time. When I was asked if I wanted to take a peek at an advance copy of "The Search Angel", I was intrigued by the story, and immediately agreed (telling myself that if I didn't like it, I just wouldn't post about it, no big deal. This Mom "Loves", right?)

I was very pleasantly surprised. And I admit, seeing this on the cover helped put me in the right frame of mind:

"Move over, Jodi Picoult." - The Globe and Mail




"The Search Angel" is about Eleanor Sweet, owner of an upscale baby boutique struggling with fertility issues. She and her husband are in the process of adopting (i.e. on their way to the airport to pick up) an orphaned child when he gets cold feet. (That's not a spoiler, it's in the blurb.) While struggling to continue the adoption process (or to decide if she even wants to) Eleanor, herself adopted, enlists the help of a Search Angel to find her own birth mother. Mixed in with all of these emotions, there's also the mysterious new man next door, but even that relationship doesn't progress in a formulaic chick-lit way. Maybe Eleanor even reconciles with her husband, who knows?

I'm not giving anything more away, but "The Search Angel" was definitely a book that kept me wanting more, and every day I looked forward to the time when I could get at it again.

I will now be seeing out Tish's past books for summer reading, and keeping my eye open for future titles as well.

"The Search Angel" is available now!

Tuesday, June 4

I'm On The List! The Most Influential Canadian Mom Blogs

This morning, SavvyMom released a list of The 75 Most Influential Canadian Mom Blogs...and I'm on there!

The description for This Mom Loves reads:

"Best Momterviews: Kate is a mom to two young girls but also spends her days as a grade 3 teacher in Ontario. On top of that, she is a freelance writer for different publications, and has a blog chock full of joyful posts dedicated to sharing the love she has for the people, places and products in her life. Don’t miss her memorable momterviews! "


Blogger Badge


Joining me on the list is my super-supportive writer friend Sarah from Sleeping Is For Losers. Check out her blog if you haven't yet!

Thanks for the recognition, SavvyMom, and congratulations to all of the amazing bloggers on the list. I am truly honoured to be among you!

(Why didn't they mention anything about my trademark overuse of punctuation, particularly exclamation marks and parentheses?!)

Monday, June 3

What's Your Favourite Classic Book?

So, I just read The Great Gatsby for the first time (yes, because of the movie!) and I realized that I really haven't read many English classics.





I was a French major, so most of my English lit was studied in high school, where I remember poetry, a lot of modern selections, and Shakespeare (specifically Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. In OAC English, my partner and I were assigned a presentation on the "Appearance vs Reality" theme in Hamlet, and we used Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones". Reflect on the lyrics, it was quite brilliant of us, I think. Another duo was presenting on the relationship of the brothers, and used a clip from The Lion King, when Scar kills Mufasa. Also quite deep for 18 year olds, in my opinion.)

So clearly I remember English class, but not many classics. With summer coming and hopefully some beautiful, sitting-by-the-pool days ahead, I'd like to catch up on some great books that I may have missed, so I'm looking for suggestions. What's your favourite classic? Is there one that you go back to on a regular basis, or that made such an impact on you the first time that you'll never forget it? Please leave a comment and let me know (don't feel like you have to write me an English essay and prove your thesis or anything, just a title is fine if that's all you want to provide!) and I can add it to my summer list. Thanks!