the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Stop the Insanity! Putting the breaks on my children’s love affair with sugar.

I have come to the realization that I need to cut back on our family’s sugar intake.  How did I arrive at this?  Well, it was probably a few weeks ago when we were on vacation.  The little fella (as we call my three year old son) was getting ready for bed.  He stopped midway through brushing his teeth and exclaimed, “But, Maaaaaaama…I didn’t have my treat.”  When I explained that we had eaten enough treats that day (ice cream, candies, cookies etc.) a full on tantrum a la “The Exorcist” ensued.  I finally got him to settle down and off to sleep (celebrate small victories!).  To my dismay, when he awoke the next morning the first thing he asked was, “Mama, can I have my treat NOW?”

Enough, I thought.  I am really going to have to cut down on this stuff if I want to have any sanity.  Although there is no conclusive evidence that sugar causes hyperactivity or misbehavior in children, I feel that, for my kids anyway, there is a definite psychological effect.  Because treats have become part of their routine (i.e. desserts after dinner, rewards for good behavior, markers for special occasions) when my husband or I say “no,” all hell breaks loose.  So, instead of becoming the “treat police” (and subsequently losing my mind) or removing them altogether, I decided that I have to get creative and find some tasty, healthy sugar-free alternatives.  The philosophy in our home with diet is “everything in moderation.”  So, I won’t completely eliminate candy, ice cream etc., but I am determined to make a conscious effort to reduce refined sugars.

I found this quick and simple recipe, which the kids were easily able to help out with.  I find if they have a hand in making it, they are really excited to eat it, too!  I made a few adaptations (the original recipe was for cookies, but I ended up making them into bars)…So, no sugar for my kids last night!  Unfortunately, this did not make bed time any easier than usual.  Sigh…

Vegan Peanut Butter and Banana Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (if you have peanut allergies, you could use any sugar-free nut butter)
  • 2 ripe bananas (overripe is fine)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp soy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 ½ cups quick cooking or rolled oatmeal (I use the kind with flax in it)
  • 2 tsp of chia seed (my addition as its a great source of Omegas)
  • 1 cup raisins (could substitute any dried fruit)
  • dash cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flour – I omitted the flour altogether

Preparation:

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork until smooth. Add peanut butter, soy milk, vanilla and maple syrup and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.

Flatten dough out on a  rectangular non-stick baking sheet.  Bake for 13-16 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Cut into squares or rectangles to make bars.

Additional recommendations:  I think these would be great with some carob chips or shredded coconut added in!

Mama, did you know calories are bad?

Recently, I was preparing dinner for my family.  My daughter was helping.  She innocently picked up a box of pasta from the counter and said, “ooooh, Mama, this has 150 calories in it…that’s bad.”  Shocked that my 5 year old even knew what a calorie was, never mind, that she thought calories were “bad”, I asked her where she had heard about them.  She went on to tell me how the school nurse had come to their classroom that day for a lesson about nutrition.  When I asked her what the nurse said a calorie was, she told me, “calories make you get really crazy and then you have no energy.”  Clearly, my munchkin was mixing calories up with sugar – which led to an important talk about good calories and bad calories.

Here is how our calorie conversation went down (after I picked my jaw up off the floor):

  • I explained to that calories are not bad.
  • I told her that calories are like gas for your body…they give you energy.
  • I described how some calories are really healthy for you (I gave examples like fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, pastas etc.) and some are not so healthy (french fries, candy, ice cream).
  • I let her know that the unhealthy calories are “treats” and you should only have them once in a while.  If you have too many of the unhealthy calories all the time, your body will not feel very good.

I am all for our children learning about healthy eating habits from a young age.  I love how our school has its own garden and orchard and how the idea of eating locally and sustainably is being embraced by our educational system.  What I do not agree with, however, is young children being taught about food labels at an age where they do not have the ability to comprehend  what each of the items on the label really mean.  I certainly do not want my daughter having a negative connotation around calories at such a young age.  In a society where we see more and more young girls struggling with self-esteem issues and eating disorders, should we really be encouraging kids to scrutinize their caloric intake?

After our conversation (and a few reminders over the weeks that followed) my daughter seemed to understand that calories aren’t “bad”.  This definitely was not a conversation I was prepared to have with a five year old.  It horrified me to see my little girl pointing at the nutritional label on a box.  I would have preferred to keep the word calorie out of her vocabulary entirely until she could really understand its meaning.  I’m just happy the opportunity to correct her misunderstanding presented itself and she now knows that calories are, in fact, not bad.

Absurd Vancouver Property of the Week

Described on MLS.Ca as “Character home in Point Grey. Peaceful neighbourhood. Convenient location to best schools, shops and transportation. Clean and tidy home.”

Listing price: $1.2 million

Yup, she’s a real beauty…for $1.2 million in Winnipeg you could get this:

or in Toronto this:

Or you could own this luxury home in Beverly Hills:

Vancouver…are you f*%#ing kidding me??!!

Spring Break Getaway – Harrison Hotsprings, B.C.

This was my daughter’s first year to have spring break.  These days the kids get two weeks off (we only got one when I was in school!).  My mom treated us (myself, my daughter Cait, and my son Asher) to three days and two nights at the Harrison Hotsprings Resort and Spa.

Harrison Hotsprings is a small town, which is about a two hour drive from downtown Vancouver.  This is a perfect distance to travel in the car with two small children.  Time it properly (and mix in a little children’s Gravol!) and they will likely sleep the entire way.

Harrison doesn’t really have much to do activity wise at this time of year.  In the summer there is go carting and mini golf (as well as regular golf for the adults).  But the main attraction is the hot springs.

The resort itself offers five different hot-spring-fed mineral pools.  Don’t worry, they do not have that terrible rotten egg, sulfur smell!  There is a beach entry outdoor kids pool that is absolutely perfect if you have toddlers – and, even in the still chilly spring weather, it is bearable to be outside as the water is, literally, like a bath.

The week we were there the hotel was offering a special for spring break.  $499 for two nights in a room with two queen sized beds.  Our room was a good size, clean and had a beautiful view of Harrison lake.  Included in our stay was a buffet breakfast at the Lakeside Cafe each morning, complementary tea (with cookies and cakes) each afternoon, and one in-room pizza and movie night.  The hotel had also converted one of their ballrooms into a movie theatre and had a variety of family-friendly movies running throughout each day.

My mom and I each had a treatment at the spa in the hotel.  I have to say that while the spa was beautiful and wonderfully relaxing, I did find that it was overpriced.  $75 for a 25 minute massage (not RMT – so I couldn’t even claim it for work!) is really pushing it.  But, they kind of have a monopoly there, so you have to suck it up if you want to enjoy their services.

Dining options are very limited.  We only found one restaurant (other than the resort restaurant) open when we tried to dine out one night.  We ended up having room service both nights.  For lunch one day we went to the Lakeside Cafe out of sheer convenience.  The food was absolutely awful…clearly the “B” team comes in for lunch as it was nothing compared to the beautiful breakfast buffet.

All in all, it was a great little getaway, and I would definitely recommend the Harrison Resort and Spa. The service was incredible – staff were helpful and polite.  Bottom line – my kids were entertained and had fun, which made for a great escape for mama!!

These are not your mother’s dirty thirties.

It is a grind.  It really is.  It was not until recently that I realized that most of us in our thirties are in the same boat…a boat that almost always feels like it is slowly sinking!  We have debts, kids, mortgages…responsibilities!!  It can be overwhelming and hard to find what, exactly, is pleasurable about this stage of life.  The stage we all thought about when we were young as the time when we would “have it all figured out.”  Well, guess what, we don’t!  Times are tough, money is tight and the day to day feels like an uphill climb.

But, there are the little things that seem to make it all worth it!  Things like owning your first (run down, fixer upper) home and welcoming little ones into your (messed up) world.  All sarcasm aside the grind is worth it.  Isn’t it?

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