the thirties grind

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

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

What would you think if your child’s class or school did nothing for Pink Shirt Day?

pink shirt day

Another Pink Shirt Day has come and gone.

My daughter was excited to get dressed up in her pink shirt for school yesterday.  She actually went all out, dressing in pink from head to toe.  We had talked about what the day meant and she told me that she had learned about the history of the day at a school assembly earlier in the week.  When we arrived at school, our principal was outside greeting all the kids and commenting on their outfits.  There were some kids who weren’t wearing pink…to them she said, “no worries…you can always makes something during the day if you want to.”

There were some art projects from classes along the walls and hanging in the windows.  Messages of tolerance, acceptance and empathy were visible.pink shirts

Yet, when my daughter got home from school I asked her what they did in class for Pink Shirt Day, to which she replied, “nothing.”

Nothing?

I probed.  “Did you talk about it?”

No.

“Did you read a story?”

No.

“Watch a video?”

No.

“Do some artwork?”

No.

Please don’t get me wrong.  Our school is very pro-acceptance, tolerance and empathy.  I know it is part of the daily conversation and is woven into the school values.  I also respect that every teacher is different and has their own way of working these lessons into a curriculum.  Our teacher is lovely, compassionate and kind.  I was just surprised.

I posted about this on my Facebook page and got quite a response.  I was even more surprised that there were entire schools that did nothing for Pink Shirt Day.  One commenter even said:

“My daughter’s school doesn’t talk about bullying. Her principal feels that it encourages kids to complain about bullying.”

WTF???  This is absurd.

Another commenter stated:

“If you want your child to know about Pink Shirt Day, have a conversation with them! As a teacher, I know that teachers in every school are dealing with bullying/kindness issues every single day. I agree that it’s nice on a day like yesterday to put extra emphasis on it, but parents can read books and do art projects too – and they don’t have a whole other growing curriculum to teach on top of it. Teachers are over-worked and expected to teach their students everything from “be nice” to “eat your veggies” never mind how to read and write and add and think critically. If this subject is important to you, take on the responsibility.”

While I do believe that these lessons begin at home, I also believe that it truly takes a village to raise the next generation of citizens.  One day a year, is not necessarily going to end bullying, but it does raise a great deal of awareness on the subject.  I am grateful for this in any and every capacity.  And, please know, I value the hard work teachers put in every. single. day. to teach our children not only academics but kindness, compassion and empathy also.

What do you think?  Did it matter to you what activities took place in your child’s school or classroom for Pink Shirt Day?

A surprise for Vancouver NHL fans today!!! ALSO: win a pair of tickets to the 2014 NHL Heritage Classic!

Heritage_Classic_2014As part of 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ celebrations, members from the 1994 Vancouver Canucks® Stanley Cup Final team will be surprising kids and adults alike while they skate at Robson Square Ice Rink later today!                            

What:  Surprise appearance by select members from the 1994 team – 15 minute skate

When:  February 25, 2014, 1:30 – 2:00 p.m. PT*

Where:  Robson Square Ice Rink, 800, Robson St, Vancouver, BC*

Players will be wearing Canucks Millionaires jerseys and will include:

  • Kirk McLean
  • Cliff Ronning
  • FIN, the official mascot of the Vancouver Canucks

This surprise appearance celebrates the once-in-lifetime reunion of the iconic team that captured the hearts of British Columbians and inspired a generation of fans during their run to the 1994 Stanley Cup® Final. The NHL and Vancouver Canucks will mark the 20th anniversary of this memorable playoff run with playoff moments and a celebration of the team during the 1:00 p.m. PT 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, Canucks vs. Ottawa Senators® game on March 2.

The game will be a celebration of British Columbia’s rich hockey history, a history that has helped to define the modern game. To be a part of the reunion and the biggest hockey crowd in British Columbia’s history, get your tickets today online via Ticketmaster.ca/NHL or telephone at 1-855-985-5000.

For more information about 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, visit www.nhl.com/heritageclassic.

Win a pair of tickets for a Youth Hockey player!

Enter the contest below on behalf of a deserving youth hockey player (as their parent/guardian). The lucky winner will receive a pair of tickets to this classic stadium match-up.

By entering this contest on behalf of a youth hockey player you give consent to the sharing of entrants’ information (content/stories) by the National Hockey League and its teams, and give consent as a parent/guardian of any minors featured in the content.

I will randomly select one winner from all valid entries on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. The winner will be notified by email.

Cooking with kids: easy raspberry sorbet

sorbet

My daughter loves to cook.  When she goes to the library at school, she will often bring home cook books and will pick out recipes that she’d like us to try together.  Recently she brought home a book called “Passport on a Plate”.  It’s a cookbook that has more than 100 recipes from around the world.

One of the items she was desperate to try was a raspberry sorbet.  Although it was a cold, snowy day, she was determined and convinced me to help her make the dessert.  It was actually very easy and the result was amazingly tasty and refreshing…we enjoyed it immensely after our Sunday dinner.

Raspberry Sorbet (from Passport on a Plate, by Diane Simone Vezza)

Ingredients

2 cups water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 oz. frozen raspberries (thawed)
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
Thin crisp, store-bought cookies (optional)

DirectionsIMG_6123

Heat water and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Then place the pot in the fridge and chill mixture for approximately 2 hours.

In a blender or food processor, blend raspberries with their liquid and the lemon juice until smooth.  Stir mixture into cooled sugar mixture.  If desired, pour through a a fine sieve to remove raspberry seeds.

Pour mixture into a 9×9 inch baking dish.  Cover and freeze, stirring occasionally until firm.

To server, scoop sorbet into individual dessert bowls.  You may serve crisp cookies alongside, if you wish.

Last chance to get your parenting mojo on with PEP Talks Vancouver (ticket giveaway)

b_PEPlogoIt seems big businesses are targeting our children from a younger and younger age.  From TV commercials to cartoon characters to online games, our kids live in a world where corporate messaging infiltrates almost every aspect of their lives.  What does this mean for their childhood…their innocence?

The assault on childhood is one of the major crises of our time whether it’s online gaming, consumerism or environmental degradation says author Joel Bakan, who also penned the award-winning book The Corporation, which was later made into the well-known, same-named documentary.

Baken is set to speak at the third and final instalment of PEP Talks in Vancouver where he’ll discuss a number of insidious corporate tactics flying under the parental radar and empower parents to stand up for their children against these powerful influences.

PEP Talks Series ticket prices are $39 a ticket or $22 for students (with student ID). Prices include GST and service charges. All net proceeds support the ongoing programs of the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

Last chance for a parent Pro-D Day!

I have 5 pairs of tickets to give away for the March 5th PEP Talk featuring Joel Baken.  To enter, follow the directions in the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Why Barbie wants you to be pissed at her

Barf.

Barf.

In an effort to revive the Barbie brand, Mattel recently decided to (read “paid to”) include the legendary doll in Sports Illustrated magazine’s illustrious swimsuit issue.  According to Daily Life, the toy company hopes the “unapologetic” campaign will boost Barbie’s image.

My question is, who are they trying to boost Barbie’s image to??  Upon some digging I learned that the SI Swimsuit edition has an estimated 18 million female readers annually.  I’m imagining this is who Mattel is targeting.  Many of these readers are likely moms…or will be moms.  But why would seeing Barbie in Sports Illustrated sway mothers of little girls back towards the brand that has been criticized over the years for it’s contribution to body image issues young women have?  Surely, seeing the leggy blonde alongside supermodels would only reinforce the negative connotations?

The answer: it won’t and it does.

Here’s where I think Mattel is being clever in their marketing…and it makes me sad.  They know that women buy this magazine and pour over it’s pages admiring and analyzing the perfectly tanned, toned bodies.  They know that women are wondering if a certain style of swimsuit will look as good on them.  And, now, they know this magazine will be in their homes where their little girls may also decide to flip through the pages and, low and behold, there’s Barbie.  She’s perfect and beautiful…just like the other ladies that grace the pages.

But, wait!  That’s not all it’s about.  In her own words (I kid not), Barbie writes:

Today, truly anything is possible for a girl. Let us place no limitations on her dreams, and that includes being girly if she likes. It’s easy to say the culprit is the color pink or the existence of makeup. That’s easy, and predictable. Neither prevents girls from excelling in their own fashion. Let her grow up not judged by how she dresses, even if it’s in heels; not dismissed for how she looks, even if she’s pretty. Pink isn’t the problem.

“Barbie® dolls” aren’t the problem. Models choosing to pose in a bikini aren’t the problem. The assumption that women of any age should only be part of who they are in order to succeed is the problem.

So the Swimsuit issue is out, and there’s bound to be a conversation or two about the women in it. Ask yourself, isn’t it time we teach girls to celebrate who they are? Isn’t there room for capable and captivating? It’s time to stop boxing in potential. Be free to launch a career in a swimsuit, lead a company while gorgeous, or wear pink to an interview at MIT. The reality of today is that girls can go anywhere and be anything. They should celebrate who they are and never have to apologize for it.

Wow.  Barbie for president, right?

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day said Barbie fits in with the swimsuit issues’ “message of empowerment” for women.  Empowerment??  Come again?  Personally, I don’t feel empowered when I look at a magazine filled with women in bathing suits (…in recent issues, suits are actually optional).  I feel self conscious, judgemental and…let’s be honest…fat.  How is that empowering?  This issue is all about advertising dollars and, make no mistake, the female body is being pimped out to ensure every last penny of profit is squeezed from it.  Since becoming a stand-alone issue in 1997, the SI Swimsuit Issue has become “one of Time Inc.’s biggest revenue drivers over the years, bringing in more than $1 billion,” according to Forbes.

Barbie wants to piss you off

The pairing is perfect almost to the point of parody: if you wanted to find the two long-standing cultural touchstones most likely to push buttons about body image and the presentation of women, you’d be hard-pressed to do better. – The Verge

By evoking women’s anger and poking at the feminist bear, so to speak, Mattel is hoping that this campaign will generate some buzz around the Barbie brand.  It’s the age old adage that “all press is good press”…even if it’s bad.  Further to the magazine campaign, Mattel has purchased a huge billboard in Times Square with Barbie in her swimsuit glory and the hashtag #unapologetic attached to it.  This is an invitation for the public to unleash their criticism of the campaign online…and guess what?  It’s working.

The executives at Mattel are no dumb-dumbs.  They realize that parents have been crying out for them to stop sexualizing their daughters with the leggy blonde bimbo.  Consumers have spoken with their dollars as Barbie sales have reportedly been plumetting over the last few years.  Yet, rather than simply promoting the message that girls can be smart and pretty and not have to apologize for it (a fine message, in theory) they have intentionally placed the message inside a magazine full of tits and ass…making it about being successful and sexy (big difference when you are considering the message is for a toy made for 3-6 year olds).  Here’s where, through controversy, Mattel is hoping to make a difference…I believe they are hoping to recapture the 7-11 year old market who used to play with Barbie…who, perhaps, now think Barbie is for babies.  This message says…”hey, girls, if I’m in a sexy magazine with all these super models, I’m not just for babies…I’m for you, too.”

Just like Miley Cyrus is hoping to keep her young fan base interested by twerking and molesting herself with foam fingers…Barbie wants to hang on to hers, too.  And if moms are outraged by it…all the better.

Empowerment my ass…this is all about advertising and the bottom line.

Stop this crazy real estate train…

When a coach house (a fancy name for a converted garage) is $1.77 million dollars, shit be f*%ked up, yo.

coach house $1.7 million

According to the listing:

A brand new, gorgeous and HUGE coach house which is part of a 1920’s restoration project. Built to a high standard, encompassing all the details of the original house down to the paint colours, siding and even the fencing that was used in 1920. On the main floor you will find beautiful radiant heated engineered oak floors, 10 ft ceilings, HRV, high efficiency boiler, an open plan, designer kitchen with quartz countertops, Jenn-Air appliances, a separated flex/family room – all on one floor. 4 generous bedrooms up and 3.5 bathrooms! This is no ordinary coach house! Perfect for a large family who wishes to reside in this great Kits neighbourhood.

I’m sorry…but it’s a glorified townhouse, which is part of a strata-titled restoration project.  If I’m going to spend that kind of money (clearly hypothetical) it’s going to be on a P-Diddy penthouse or at least a piece of land that I will own.  I’m not going to shell out nearly two million dollars just so that I can live like Mike Seaver did in Growing Pains…in the garage.

 

 

Refreshing cucumber and spinach smoothie

cucumber spinach smoothie

I’d never thought to try cucumbers in my smoothies, but one morning I was craving something particularly refreshing, so I tried this concoction.  The result was a cucumber and spinach smoothie that was surprisingly refreshing after my workout.

Ingredients

1 cup spinach (I keep mine frozen in the bag)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
handful of flax seeds
sprinkle of chia
2 thick slices of ginger (I keep mine sliced and frozen)
1 date
juice from half a lemon
1/4 can of coconut milk (I just used the watery part)
few leaves of fresh mint (optional)

I enjoyed this smoothie with one of my sugar-free apple cookie bars!

Bully-proof your kids through random acts of kindness (and a chance to win $50!)

pay it forwardHave you ever read “How full is your bucket?”  It’s a children’s book based on the bestselling adult version by Tom Rath.  The story explains that doing nice things for others not only helps them…it helps you, too.  I truly believe some kids are born with a very empathetic nature and some kids need to learn it.  I also believe that the kids who are born with empathy need to have it nurtured.

Empathy is an emotion that has been widely recognized as a means to “bully proof” kids.

Empathy is a quiet, powerful work; it is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings, or in simple colloquialism “walking in someone else’s shoes.” It is about “connecting.” Bullying, conversely, is about “disconnection.” The bully needs to identify and establish something about the victim that is different (that provides reason to disassociate) in order to bully. The bully needs to feel and believe there is a disconnection. In some ways bullying serves as a barometer showing the health of our communities. It measures the level of disconnect we allow between one another. – Diane Murrell, Clinical Social Worker

My daughter is naturally empathetic.  When a friend hurts, she hurts right along with them.  My son, on the other hand, needs to be coached on how someone else might be feeling…we often have conversations that involve, “how would it make you feel if that happened to you.”  I consciously make an effort to tap into those feelings. I know, deep down, he has them, but we have to work to bring them to the surface.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to participate in Metropolis at Metrotown’s #PayItForward campaign, in support of Pink Shirt Day.  We were given 5 x $10 gift cards to use in the mall.  The only caviat was that we had to use the money to do good deeds for others…not ourselves.

My son had a bit of a hard time with this.  “Why can’t we buy a toy??”  I explained that today we were going to do nice things for people other than ourselves, and I promised that it would feel good.  After collecting our cards, we sat in the food court and made a list of things we could do.  I was surprised at how difficult it was to think of things…this should have been easy!!  But the kids were distracted (and tired after a full day at school), so the creative juices weren’t flowing.

I decided we’d start off by doing something simple…something they could watch me do and see the effect.  We approached the Starbucks in the food court and I told the kids that I was going to buy a coffee for the next person who lined up.  A young guy approached and I told him what we were up to.  He smiled when I offered to buy his coffee and enthusiastically said yes (I have to give him mass credit as he was truly animated in his gratitude…I’m certain this was to benefit the kids).

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So, we were off to a good start.  The kids kept talking about how we “made the man happy,” as we walked to our next destination.  One of my daughter’s suggestions was to “buy food for the poor,” so we were headed to Superstore.  As we walked in there was a flower display to our right.

“Oh mom, we could buy flowers for someone?”  my little girl suggested.  “Great idea,” I said.  “Who do you think would like some flowers?  Maybe someone on our street…someone who lives by themselves?”

“Helen!!” my little guy shouted.  Helen is our elderly neighbour.  She was recently widowed and I imagined having a bunch of pretty tulips delivered by these two would brighten her day.  I was right.  When we delivered the flowers the next day, she was bursting with gratitude.  She even gave the kids a box of chocolates in return…

“See,” I said.  “Sometimes when you do nice things for people, they do something kind for you in return.”

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As we continued through the Superstore, I noticed a large display of dog treats that were on sale.  My daughter is a real animal lover.  She even initiated her own read-a-thon last summer to raise money for the SPCA.  I knew a gentle suggestion would prompt our next good deed.

“Hey…look at all these treats.  I wonder if we could do something with these?”

“The SPCA, Mommy!” she jumped up and down.  “We could buy some treats for the doggies!”

The next day, she and my mom delivered the treats to our local SPCA.  My mom said that my little girl told the shelter volunteer, “the only condition is that you pay it forward…”  She was getting it.

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Back at the Superstore, we were trying to decide what food to get to donate to the Food Bank.  We settled on spaghetti, sauce and a few cans of hearty soup.  After we paid for our haul with the gift cards, we proceeded to the in-store donation bin.

“I bet someone will have a really yummy dinner, now,” said my little boy.

“How does that make you feel inside?” I asked.

“Happy,” he earnestly replied.  He had stopped asking if we could go and get a toy.

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We still had about $10 left.  Engery was running low, but I was determined to spend every cent.  We headed to Target with the intention of buying a bunch of socks for a shelter.  However, the selection was surprisingly sparse, so we had to think of something else.  We walked through the baby section and I suggested some diapers for mommies and daddies who couldn’t afford to buy them.  We all agreed this was a good idea, so we made our final purchase.

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I was so proud of my kids for helping me with our “special mission” as I had dubbed it.  Anyone with kids knows how trying traipsing around a mall with them can be.  They were troopers and really got into the spirit of what we were doing.  I decided to thank them for their help by allowing them to pick out something from the dollar store.  They both settled on yoyos.

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All in all, it was a really successful experience.  I’d recommend doing something similar with your kids, if you are looking for a way to teach them about giving with out the expectation of receiving…and how good it feels.

Do it with your kids!

Small acts of kindness can make a big difference. What could you do with $10 to make someone’s day? Submit your idea and enter for a chance to win yourself a $500 shopping spree to Metropolis at Metrotown, and an additional $500 to a local charity!

For every approved entry received at: http://www.metropolispayitforward.com/, they will donate $1 to CKNW Orphans’ Fund in support of Pink Shirt Day.

I’ve teamed up with Metropolis at Metrotown to give you another chance to Pay it Forward!  I have $50 of Metrotown dollars to give away.  The only condition is that you use it to do good deeds for others!  To win the $50, you need to leave a comment on this post telling me how you would spend the $50.  For extra entries, follow the directions in the Rafflecopter form below!

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No more “pay to play” for Canadian citizenship: what will it mean for Vancouver real estate?

Vancouverites have always been pretty cautious in expressing an opinion about foreign real estate investors in the city.  Those who have tackled the elephant in the room have even been called racist.  I think we’re a generally kind bunch here in this city (forget about those who stab each other over taxis or set cars on fire when their hockey team loses).  We apologize when someone bumps into us on the bus, for heaven’s sake.  For the most part, we’ve remained pretty quiet around investor immigrants contributions towards the absurd property prices in Vancouver…until now.

The South China Morning Post recently reported that Canada has put the kibosh on the Investor Immigrant Visa Program.  When CBC posted the story on their Facebook page, the floodgates of comments, supporting the government’s decision was astounding.  Low and behold, it turns out, we do have an opinion about this. For the most part, it would seem that people are very happy with this decision…many saying it’s about time.

comments

I think in the short term, we will see little change to the Vancouver real estate market as a result of this decision.  We may witness a surge of listings as homeowners sitting on assets worth millions try to cash out before the foreign money train comes to a halt.  Perhaps, those who own property at the moment might try to sell, holding their earnings in the hopes that we’ll see a correction in the market as the investor immigrant influence decreases.  In the long term, however, it’s tough to say what the result might be.

What do you think?  Are you surprised by people’s opinions on this?  What impact do you think the government’s decision will have on the Vancouver real estate market?

 

Easy Valentine’s Day Garland

vdaygarland

I’m no Pinterest mom, so I love when I can do a craft with my kids that is really easy…and where the end product actually ends up looking beautiful.  This garland is so simple to create and the result is quite effective.

All you need is multi-coloured construction paper, scissors and a stapler.

Cut the construction paper into 1 inch strips.

We did a rainbow pattern, so we put all the strips in order.

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Fold the strips in half.

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Move the top two ends of a strip together to form a heart.  Then take the “V” from the next strip and staple them together.

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Continue until your garland reaches your desired length.

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Voila!!  A super easy Valentine’s Day project that even the most artistically challenged parent can complete!

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