Monthly Archives: June 2011

A dose of motherly love

Motherly Love by Frederick Morgan

Motherly Love by Frederick Morgan

I know Father’s Day is only a couple of days away in the US but I thought all moms around the world could use a dose of motherly love on this Friday. Alright, I’m sure the dads will like this too. My husband first showed me this video on Facebook and I thought it was just too adorable not to share. Feel free to share it with moms who could use a little pick-me-up today (and really, who doesn’t?).

In this YouTube video, mother cat really shows us what moms, animal or human, are here for: comfort, reassurance, cuddling, and tender loving care. Looking at this video, I can’t help remembering what it was like to hold my kids when they were tiny sleeping babies. How sweet they smelled, how little and precious they felt, how peaceful they looked. Not a care or worry in the world, no pressure to perform or conform. Just eat, sleep, cuddle. Repeat very two hours. Even though I enjoy watching my kids grow up, I do miss those days sometimes.

Today I have one who still cuddles but only because he wants to marry me and the other who often is too busy playing to take a break and give me a hug. Sigh.

Happy Friday! Make sure you watch the whole video because it only gets better as it goes.

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WWW Wednesdays – June 15, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

The whole family has done a lot of good reading this past week, with a few books I’d like to recommend.

My bookshelf

– What I’m currently reading
I just started Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, when he starts by putting down the whole hype for low-fat diets. Besides trans fats, which are very bad for your health, some fat has never hurt anyone and could actually be good for you. Who doesn’t like to hear that?

How Reading Changed my Life by Anna Quindlen– What I recently finished reading
I highly recommend The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. Narrated from the viewpoint of 15-year-old autistic character Christopher, it gives you great insight on how the autistic mind functions – and sometimes mis-functions. It doesn’t take long to realize Christopher is a very sharp young man but has a hard time processing some types of information, especially in stressful situations. Haddon does a great job at mixing mystery, humor and tragedy, and he clearly understands autism better than most of us.
I then read How Reading Changed by Life by Anna Quindlen, a talented writer who shares how she developed her lifelong love of reading, and the people and books that inspired her. If you’re a parent who thinks reading is important for your children, this will be a good read. She even contributes several reading lists, including “10 books that will help a teenager feel more human” and “the 10 books I would save in a fire”.

– What I think I’ll read next
Probably Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson, recommended to me by a fellow blogger. I’ve never read James Patterson so I hope this will be a good way to start.

My kids’ bookshelf

Little Critter: Going to the Seapark– What they’re currently reading
Mike Mercer has issued several Little Critter books in the past few years, so we’re reading them now, including:
Little Critter: Going to the Seapark (perfect for us, regular SeaWorld visitors)
Little Critter: A Green, Green Garden (also perfect for us since we’re growing things in the backyard)
Little Critter – Just Saving My Money (a good lesson on making and saving money to buy your own toys)
These books have fun illustrations and are great for early readers. My kids ask to read them again and again.

– What they recently finished reading
More Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo! They’ve enjoyed Mercy Watson Fights Crime and Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes. Both books feature new character Leroy Winker, a little wannabe cowboy (yippie-i-oh!) with some not-too-honest intentions. Several characters from the previous Mercy Watson adventures get to revisit. Very fun to read. I also want to thank Kate DiCamillo for having me say 10 times in a row “Beatrice Leapaleoni”.

– What I think they’ll read next
More Little Critter, and more Mr Putter & Tabby books, since that’s what’s waiting for us at the library. We’re all looking forward to some great reading!

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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My boy is graduating from preschool tonight

graduating from preschoolYes, you read this right. My oldest is graduating from preschool tonight during an official ceremony. The whole class will be giving a well-rehearsed performance, including songs, sight word recognition and some other secret activities my son won’t tell me about. The kids will be wearing cute graduation hats they get to keep, and they’ll receive a graduation certificate. Of course, no preschool graduation ceremony is complete without cake and apple juice. That’s all kids need to stock up on, tons of sugar an hour before bedtime…

Buzz Lightyear pyjamasWhen I first heard about this preschool graduation ceremony, I couldn’t help but chuckle. I honestly had never heard of such a thing. And the timing seems a little off since preschool will  still be in session for two months, until kindergarten starts. But then again, why not celebrate a milestone in our children’s lifelong learning voyage? For me, entering the public school system marks the end of a fun, grade-free, stress-free era. Pre-K kids need all the encouragement they can get, and I think parents do too.

Here’s a funny fact about this graduation ceremony. My son happened to mention he would wear his Buzz Lightyear pyjamas for the event. “Wait, at a graduation ceremony, are you sure???” “Yes, the teacher said we should dress up.” Ah, the English language can be so subtle… So I checked with his teacher to find the origin of the confusion. She did tell the kids to “dress up”, not realizing a boy may understand it as “wear a costume” rather than “dress nicely”. Since my son was expecting to attend a costume party, I suggested she clarify to the class what types of outfits were appropriate for the event.

Mo Willem's Gerald and Piggie book I'm invited to a partyThis reminds me of a very funny Mo Willem’s Gerald and Piggie book called “I Am Invited to a Party”. Piggie doesn’t know what to wear for her first party and Gerald helps her go through a series of possibilities. What if it’s a costume party? Wait. What if it’s a pool party? How will she know the proper attire to wear? If you have kids between 3 and 6, you should read this book to them, they’ll love it.

My husband happens to be on a business trip this week, so he’ll miss the ceremony. This means I’ll have to manage my squirmy three-year old to keep him sitted while I try to take photos and videos of the event. How many times do you think I’ll be saying “please sit down” tonight? I think I’m the one who’ll need the cake most when this is all over. Wish me luck.

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My lightbulb moment: how much sodium is in my food?

Do you know how much sodium you're eating every day?

Do you know how much sodium you're eating every day?

If you’ve been keeping up with my “101 in 1001” challenge, you know that monitoring my blood pressure is one of my 101 tasks. With a multi-generational family history of hypertension and borderline personal BP numbers, this is an important health issue for me.

I recently found out about the “DASH diet”, which encourages lower consumption of sodium (under 2300mg/day) and higher consumption of potassium (4700mg/day), magnesium (500 mg/day) and calcium (1250 mg/day). The three latter minerals are suspected to counteract the negative effects of excess sodium. Since the DASH diet can lower blood pressure in most people, it seems fair I’d give it a try.

Lightbulb momentI rarely use salt when I cook at home, so I’ve never considered sodium the culprit for my elevated blood pressure. But after reading about the DASH diet, I decided to take a closer look at the sodium levels of the foods we have around the house. That’s when my jaw dropped. I call it my lightbulb moment.

Unless you cook every single meal from scratch, there’s added sodium in everything you buy at the grocery store. The only variance is HOW MUCH sodium is in. If you’re busy like me and use a number of ready-made foods, from breakfast cereal, to pasta sauce, to already-cooked beans and processed meats, you’re in for a surprise.

The worst part of my discovery is, what looks and sounds healthy may actually contain a lot of sodium. For example one serving (90 calories) of wheat flakes (healthy fiber, right?) contain over 200 mg of sodium. And you know you’ll eat more than one serving for breakfast. A better alternative? Shredded wheat, which has almost no sodium. I often use beans as a source of protein but knowing that a single serving contains up to 400 mg of sodium (20% of the daily value), I’ve decided to switch to “no salt added” versions.

I recently bought turkey breast slices at Fresh & Easy but they were a little too salty to my taste, so I checked the label. The meat has over 600mg of sodium for a 50 calories serving. The word sodium is actually mentioned 6 times in the ingredient list – you’ve got to be kidding me! This package just made a round trip – it’s out of my fridge and back to the store.

Fresh & Easy sliced turkey breast is very high in sodium

Fresh & Easy sliced turkey breast is very high in sodium

Even the soy hot dogs I give my kids as an alternative to the poorly nutritious regular dogs contain a lot of sodium. Do I dare mentioning the fried chicken strips, or the ketchup they eat them with? Bread and bagels were a surprise too, but store-bought cookies and cakes have shocking amounts of sodium in them. That’s because salt happens to enhances all other tastes, including sweetness. Go figure.

The thing is, most foods don’t seem to contain that much sodium. But when you add up all of the sodium you’ve eaten in one day, you’ll probably get over the recommended 2300mg for adults, and 1800mg for kids. Most kids love the taste of salt but I think as parents, we can do them a favor and watch what we put on their plates, whether it is sodium, fat, or sugar.

So where does this discovery about my own diet lead me to? I want to call it a major lifestyle change, for myself and for my kids. Until now I read nutrition labels for fiber, sugar, fat and protein contents, but I need to add sodium to the checklist, as well as potassium and magnesium. I realize I also need to cook from scratch more and the challenge will be to find meals that my whole family enjoys eating. Cooking family meals and desserts are two other items on my “101 in 1001” list, so keeping my blood pressure in check will help me get these two tasks accomplished. Who knew?

Have you ever looked closely at what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry? Would you make any changes if you saw something you weren’t aware of?

Additional resources:
The DASH diet
Sodium content of most foods (USDA reference)
Nutrition labels for all foods, including store brands and restaurants (very cool site)

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