the thirties grind

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

Archive for the month “March, 2014”

I ate my placenta.

Just kidding…I didn’t.  But I have heard about lots of people who do, and I’ve become curious as to why.

According to the website WhattoExpect.com:

Eating placentas seems to make some sense. After all, the placenta is a baby’s in-utero power pack, providing the fetus with all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients — not to mention oxygen — to grow from just a few cells to a full-fledged tiny person. The placenta is also loaded with iron and vitamins B6 and B12, as well as estrogen and progesterone, both important postpartum hormones. Fans of the practice say that eating the placenta can protect against postpartum depression (PPD) — but only if you eat your own (never eat another woman’s since there’s a risk of disease). Proponents also point out that most other mammals routinely eat their afterbirth.

Kind of makes sense, I guess.  And, I’m all for anything that helps women deal with and get through PPD.

There are other practices associated with the placenta that have been adopted historically.

My grandmother told me that when she had her babies, the midwife took the placenta and threw it on the fire.  However many “cracks” it made as it burned was equal to how many more children the mother would give birth to.  Sounds legit.

Other placental rituals honour the connection between baby and placenta. In some places, the placenta is known as the child’s sibling or twin. In Nepal, for example, the placenta is known as bucha-co-satthi (the baby’s friend); in Malaysia, when a baby smiles unexpectedly, he or she is said to be playing with the older sibling—the placenta. The Ibo people of Nigeria and Ghana are said to treat the placenta as the baby’s dead twin, and give it full burial rites.

I’ve also read about people in western cultures planting the placenta in their garden with some kind of plant or tree to commemorate the birth of their child.  

As for eating it?  Research shows that there is little evidence to support reported health benefits of an afterbirth buffet.  Nevertheless, there are infinite ways to prepare it according to the Internets:

You can make spagehtti.

By the way, I think it’s really selfish that this guy cooked up his wife’s afterbirth and ate it all by himself (washed down with a can of beer, no less) while she was still in the hospital.

You can make meatloaf.  I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.

Placenta smoothie, anyone?

You can make placenta jerky.

You can even make chocolates!

The latest one I’ve seen is placenta pills, where you ship your placenta off somewhere and they dehydrate the afterbirth goodness and form it into pills so that you can benefit from the nurients for months and months to come.  Apparently, this is what January Jones of Mad Med fame did.  Of all the options, this sounds like the most appealing to me.

So…did you eat your placenta?

Thank Goodness It’s Spring $1100 CASH GIVEAWAY!!!

I’ve teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers to offer you a chance to win some BIG MONEY!  Who couldn’t use an extra thousand-odd dollars this spring??  Maybe you’d like to register your kids for some activities, grab them some new toys…er…who am I kidding?  Maybe mama wants some new shoes, a spring trench or a few days away??  Now we’re talking!!!

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$1100 Thank Goodness It’s Spring Cash Giveaway

March 27, 2014 at 11:59PM to April 21, 2014 at 11:59PM

Open Worldwide

PRIZE: One winner will receive $1100 USD payable via PayPal

Eligibility and Rules: This giveaway runs from Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 11:59PM to Monday, April 21, 2014 at 11:59PM. It is open to individuals over the age of the majority in their home country. The winner will be chosen randomly through the Rafflecopter form. It is the sole responsibility of the winner to report to and adhere to all laws in their respective country, which includes payments to any governing tax body. This giveaway is void in any country or territory where it is prohibited by law.

Claiming Prize: The prize will be sent via PayPal. The winner must have a PayPal account to receive it. The winner also must claim their prize within 48 hours of receiving notice. If you do not claim your prize within this time frame, your entry will be void and another winner will be drawn. Please ensure that  spaceshipsandlaserbeams [at] gmail [dot] com is on your “safe list.”

Disclosure: This is a blogger-sponsored event that is in no way affiliated with PayPal, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or any other social media channel. If you have questions, email Stephanie at Spaceships and Laser Beams at spaceshipsandlaserbeams [at] gmail [dot] com.

Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter! None of the entries are mandatory but the more entries you do, the more chances you have to win! Running short on time? Come back as often as you like to finish the form and maximize your chances of winning the big prize.

These large cash giveaways would not be possible without an amazing group of bloggers and small businesses who contribute. They include: Spaceships and Laser Beams, Vintage ConfectionsTania Fischer DesignThis Little MamaMade by a PrincessMighty DelightyDesigned by Dawn NicoleYumtasticsFrench PemberleySamantha Walker LLCJellyfish PrintsYoung Adult MoneyA-Manda CreationBellaArtista InvitationsSugar Co.BellaGrey DesignsParty PatisserieA Wife A Mom A LifeBabies ArtroomPiece of CakeKristeNicole PhotographyHousekeeping Services of Hilton HeadThe Storybook ShoppeSeshalyn PartiesBest BirthdaysCustomized Wedding CreationsFantabulosityGiggles and Grace DesignsMagical Vacations by TracyOne Swell StudioEat It & Say YumWise Owl ShopReality To DreamsSugar Sugar CakesUR InvitedTutus & Bowties EventsBe Envied Entertaining and Child Go Go.

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Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Soup

thai red curry soup

I’m a huge fan of Thai food, particularly red curry.  I’m also a huge fan of my slow cooker, where I can just bung a bunch of ingredients into the pot, turn it on and walk away…hours later, with my house smelling amazing, dinner is ready.  It’s genius.

I adapted this recipe for Thai Red Curry Soup.  It was amazing.  Just the right amount of spice, creamy coconut flavour and perfect for a rainy spring day.

Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 large chicken thighs (skin on, bone in) – I cooked from frozen
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium homemade or store bought chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small red pepper, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 red chillies roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups tightly packed chopped kale leaves
  • 3 small potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice, plus one reserved lime wedge, divided
  • 2 cups cilantro roughly chopped

Directions

Place all ingredients except for fish sauce and lime juice into the slow cooker.  Place on low for 10-12 hours or high for 6-8 hours.  Check and stir every few hours.

thai soup

After cooking time has lapsed, remove chicken thighs from the broth and remove skin and bones.  Roughly chop meat and return to slow cooker.  Add in fish sauce and lime juice to taste.

Serve with fresh lime wedges and cilantro (optional).

thai soup 2

School places ban on red pens for teachers

Embed from Getty ImagesTeachers at a British school are no longer allowed to used their “scary” red pens to mark pupils’ work.

Under a new grading policy at Mounts Bay Academy in Cornwall, teachers must mark and write feedback in green, while students must reply in purple.

Vice principal Jennie Hick told The Cornishman Newspaper: “Switching to the new marking system is certainly not about us going all soft and fuzzy.

“Students make more progress if it is a dialogue and the new system is designed to help that. A teacher will make two or three positive comments about a student’s homework and point out perhaps one thing that will take them to the next stage.

“A lot of us in the past have skimmed over the teacher’s comments and just looked for the final overall mark but by asking students to respond with purple pen forces them to read the teacher’s comments and helps them to create a real conversation.”

“A lot of primary schools are already using a similar system amazingly well and I think it was felt that red ink was a very negative colour.”

However Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, told the paper: “In my own experience of 35 years in teaching is that children actually prefer teachers to use red ink because they can read comments more easily.

“The problem with using a colour like green or blue is that it’s not clear.

“A lot of schools seem to have a culture where they don’t like criticising children but actually this helps them.”

I personally feel like our kids do need positive reinforcement, but I’m not sure that the colour of a pen makes a difference.  The only reason there would be a negative connotation with the pen colour would be if the things written with it were negative.  Sure, there are some teachers who might write cutting comments with their byros but, for the most part, I think it is probably fair feedback and criticism…and don’t you think our kids ought to be able to take criticism?

It reminds me a little of the recent pilot project in Surrey where students were no longer going to be assigned letter grades in the interest in creating better dialogue with students and parents around individual progress.

Are we going soft…or do you think changes like this in the way we educate and critique our children is warranted?  I’m really interested to hear your thoughts.

Absurd Vancouver Property (March 20, 2013)

I’m a big fan of beautiful interiors.  When you spend a million dollars on a house in Vancouver, it’s likely that the fixtures and finishings coming with the house will leave much (okay…everything) to be desired.  Which is why I swoon when I look at homes elsewhere and their exquisite interiors.

For example, take this home in Toronto’s Playter Estates.  The finishing and decor is, quite simply, to die for – this is totally my style.

(Images from birdhouse media)

playter estates 1

player esates 6

player estates 5

player estates 4

player esates 3

player estates 2

The final sale price on this home was just over $1.5 million.  With over 2200 square feet of living space (including 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms) the home includes a 628 square foot master retreat, complete with a four piece ensuite.

Back in Vancouver for $1.5 million, you’re looking at a home like this.  Forget about any fixtures or finishings…the house isn’t even liveable.

vancouver $1.5 million

Vancouver…are you f*%king kidding me??!!

 

 

 

We need to talk about gambling…

BCLC blog image twoGuest Post by Darren Groth, GameSense Regional Team Lead, author and parent of two

In the lead-up to Christmas, I penned a blog post here detailing the surprising prevalence of youth gambling activity and asking parents to refrain from buying lottery tickets for their kids. If you read that and subsequently kept the scratch tickets away from underage hands, that’s a good start.

“Start?” you ask. “There’s more advice you have?”

There is. And it centres on the advice YOU have.

Anywhere from 2%-7% of young people become addicted to gambling. Sharing a conversation about gambling risk is an excellent way for parents to foster responsibility and informed decision-making in their kids. And getting started need not be as awkward as an ‘All bets are off!’ Dad joke. Consider these tips:

  • Arm yourself with good ‘GameSense’ information — how gambling works and the common myths.
  • Bring the conversation up naturally, like when watching poker on TV or during the announcement about the latest lottery winner.
  • Pose hypothetical questions to get the conversation started. Maybe ask how they’d feel about betting, and losing, one of their prized possessions.

Once rolling, let your kids know your expectations about gambling, and your reasons for them. Ask questions and listen carefully. Talk to them about the difference between games where skill can play a part (like video games and sports) and where practice can pay off, versus gambling where the outcome is random and chance-based.

And for those folks thinking ‘My Jenny and Johnny would rather chat to Siri than me’, here’s some good news: when it comes to gambling, statistics indicate kids look first to their parents for information and guidance.

So, have the conversation. It’s never too early to give a little gift of GameSense advice.

To learn more about kids and gambling visit GameSense.ca

 

 

Travel smart with your smartphone and WIN a Samsung GS3 Mini from TELUS!

I don’t know about you, but I always have some kind of problem with my phone when I travel.  Whether it’s forgetting to buy an international data package and getting slammed with roaming charges or neglecting to bring along a power source…something always goes wrong.

With spring break just around the corner (can I get an AMEN!!), TELUS has some great travelling tips that are sure to keep you on track and on line during your March getaways!

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Enter to WIN!

I’m partnering with TELUS to give away the perfect travel companion!

SA_GS3_Mini_FtVt_E_m

Clever and compact, the Samsung Galaxy S III Mini is bursting with features. A dazzling 4-inch Super AMOLED display brings out the best in videos and games, while the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software means it’s incredibly easy to use.

Product Features
  • Despite its super-compact size, the eye-catching 4-inch Super AMOLED screen bursts into life with vivid colours and absolute clarity
  • The Android OS makes it easy to customize the phone to suit your needs, as well as hit up Google Play to search through thousands of apps
  • S Beam lets you share content easily by placing two compatible devices back to back and transferring files from one phone to another
  • Samsung Link lets you access and play content from other devices, as well as from a central storage location
  • A 5MP rear camera is perfect for capturing memories, on-the-go snapshots and discovering your eye for the perfect shot, while a VGA front camera for extra flexibility

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your best travel tip!

For extra entries, follow the directions in the Rafflecopter form below.  Please note, contest open to residents of B.C. only.

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Show your love for Vancouver and WIN with the #HappyCity Selfie Contest!

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I know it seems like I have a real bone to pick with Vancouver, what with all of my Absurd Vancouver Property posts.  The truth is, however, that I love this city.  I grew up here, my family is here, lifelong friends are here and I love raising my children here.

Vancouver and it’s amazing surrounding regions make me happy.

Do we live in neighbourhoods that make us happy? Can we design of our cities and transportation systems to maximize happiness?

For years, self-help experts have told us that we need to do inner work in order to improve our lives. But new insights in psychology, economics and brain science suggest that our cities have the power to make or break our happiness.

In his new book, Happy City, a Vancouver-based author Charles Montgomery shows how urban systems, including transportation, impact our lives and shape our emotions and behaviour in ways most of us never recognize.

Where is your #happycity place?

//instagram.com/p/lfl5FTLdin/embed/I’m happiest when I am enjoying the outdoors with my family.  Whether it’s a day at Kits Beach, a walk in the Endwoment Lands, listening to music at Deer Lake or just hanging at our local park…these are the places in and around Metro Vancouver that bring joy to me.

How about you? Is there a place that makes you happy? Or a place that makes your neighbourhood and community more connected and complete? Is it a neighbourhood café where ‘everybody knows your name’, a corner store, a park, a busy street, or is it a way of moving around to get where you need to be?

Join the conversation at #happycity and WIN!

  • Take a ‘selfie’ pictureat the place in your city or community that makes you happy.
  • Tweet your photo to @TransLink and with the hashtag #happycity. You can add a comment explaining the image and hashtags #selfie and/or #selfienation.
  • Post your photo on Instagram with the hashtag #happycity. Our Instagram page is TransLinkBC.
  • Come to the lecture Choosing the Happy City by Charles Montgomery on March 26 at 7 pm at SFU Woodwards to claim your prize and learn more about the Happy City. RSVP is mandatory.

By participating in this contest, you can win one of the following prizes:

  • One of four FareCards.
  • One TravelSmart Travel gift pack $50 with gift card to MEC and TravelSmart Swag.
  • Two tickets to Don Carlo opera at the Queen Elizabeth Theater.
  • One free yearly membership and $50 car sharing credit from MODO.

Before you enter, please read the contest rules and conditions. Photos may be used in the print Buzzer, the Buzzer blog, presentation during the Choosing the Happy City lecture, tweeted by @TransLink and posted on the TransLink Facebook and Instagram page. Images and posts tagged #happycity will be shared on the Buzzer blog. Join us in this conversation.

About Charles Montgomery

An award-winning author and urban experimentalist, Charles Montgomery is the author of the new book, Happy City, which the New York Times has recommended as essential reading for that city’s new mayor. He has advised and lectured planners, designers, and decision-makers across America, Canada, and England. Working with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, the Museum of Vancouver and other institutions, he also creates experiments that challenge us to see our cities—and ourselves—in entirely new ways. Montgomery’s Home for the Games initiative led hundreds of people to open their homes to strangers during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. His writings on urban planning, psychology, culture, and history have appeared in magazines and journals on three continents. Among his awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards public understanding of climate change science. His first book, The Last Heathen, won the 2005 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. www.charlesmontgomery.ca

Rethinking Transportation

Choosing Happy City by Charles Montgomery is the third lecture in the series Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas, presented by TransLink and the SFU City Program. With one million more people moving to Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years, the conversation about how we travel in our region becomes increasingly important. The lecture series will explore new perspectives on the movement of people and goods in cities, with thought leaders, decision makers, and experts from across North America.

 

 

Win a family pack of tickets to Vancouver Performing Stars Seussical Jr!

Seussical Jr Poster 17x11 HR

My little boy loves to perform.  He is a full on ham…loves to sing, dance and he even does accents.  I was thrilled when I enrolled him in Vancouver Performing Stars last fall.  He loved the weekly classes at Hillcrest Community Centre where he learned new songs, dance moves and met new friends.

indexKaty Schroeder, the founder of Vancouver Performing Stars, is a friend of mine and just an all around spectacular person.  The kids LOVE her.  You can tell how passionate she is about encouraging creativity in kids, without making them feel pressured.

Vancouver Performing Stars has been offering performing arts training programs at various centres for the past few years. From ballet to hip hop and musical theatre, they strive to offer programs that areIMG_0493 continually growing with their students. The classes demonstrate their belief in the importance of quality instruction by developing technique and skill to build self-confidence and a love for performing.  VPS is delighted to present Seussical Jr! with a limited run next week!

Seussical Jr! Presented by Vancouver Performing Stars:

Friday March 14th 7pm/Saturday March 15th 3:30pm & 7pm

Join Horton the Elephant, Cat in the Hat and all the Whos down in Whoville in this musical adventure brought to life by the Vancouver Performing Stars. From the Jungle of Nool to Circus McGurkus, Seuss’s timeless and imaginative tales leap from page to the stage.

Tickets will be available at the Norman Rothstein Theatre (41st & Oak) 1 hour before showtime. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

$10 CHILD / $15 ADULT

The lobby will open 1 hour prior to the show to purchase tickets and the theatre doors will open 30 mins prior to curtain.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding ticketing – please email info@vanperformingstars.com

Win a family pack of tickets!

I have a family pack (2 adults and 2 children) of tickets to VPS’ presentation of Seussical Jr! to giveaway.  To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me who is your favourite Dr. Seuss character.  For additional entries, follow the directions in the Rafflecopter form below!

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Kids online: Internet safety at school

Embed from Getty ImagesA few weeks ago, I was picking my daughter up from school.  We were in the school library and, as she gathered up her things, my gaze wandered towards the kids who were playing games on a bank of computers.  One screen, however, was not like the others.

You know that feeling you get, as a parent, when your “spidey sense” kicks in?  I had an uneasy feeling that what this kid was watching was somehow not appropriate.  Sure enough, within seconds the YouTube video went from innocuous to violent…balaclavas, machine guns and all.

I approached the librarian who quickly shut down the video and had a few stern words with the offender.  Apparently, he is warned “daily” about not accessing such content.  Which made me wonder…why do kids even have access to this in school and how is it being monitored?  Who is responsible for internet safety at school?

This led to a very constructive conversation with our school PAC and a presentation from the librarian that explained how the Vancouver School Board restricts and secures content accessible in schools via the internet.  It was explained, for example, that if you were to google “Barbie” the content would be blocked as it has been flagged for “games”.  Same applies for other search terms that are continually being evaluated and flagged.  It’s not a perfect system, the librarian explained, as the kids are clever and do sometimes learn how to work around the blocks.  For the most part, however, most explicit content is not accessible.

Which brings me back to YouTube.  I feel like it is a bit of an exception as, although it operates like a search engine, the content is not blocked in the same way. One could search something totally innocent on YouTube like “Dora”, for example.  The video that you watch could be exactly what you were looking for.  However, you cannot control the content of the next video that is cued up…maybe it’s another cutesy video about the Mexican toddler or maybe it’s “Dora the Whore-a”…

When we discussed this at our PAC, there were a few suggestions brought up.  One was to ban YouTube in the school.  This was met with much resistance as it was stated that the teachers use YouTube quite a bit in their teaching.  Another suggestion was to have parents volunteer as library monitors…to keep watch over the activities on the computers.  This was also met with resistance, which I understand.  Not everyone’s definition of “inappropriate” is the same.  The librarian gave an example of where someone had complained about nudity on one of the computers.  The student, in fact, had been doing research about ancient Egypt and there was an image of a bare-breasted sphinx on the screen…not exactly what most people would consider offensive.

We’re living in an entirely different world than we did when we were kids.  Information is so accessible.  A part of me thinks this is wonderful…and as someone who is very comfortable with technology, I am excited by the different ways of learning my children will have.  On the other hand, the parent in me is still somewhat challenged by this.  If we wanted to look at porn or violent movies or listen to illicit music, we had to work pretty hard to do so.  Kids today don’t.  It’s all there…all the time.

The VSB is aware of the issue and have piloted a project to tackle Internet safety at school:

The MIA (Mentoring Internet Awareness) Project is a multi-tiered mentorship venture in which a core presentation on Internet safety and awareness will be developed and then presented by students to their peers and younger students. The MIA Project will focus on not only engaging and educating youth on the negative aspects of social media, but also on its positive uses.

The overall goal? Create awareness among students of their online behavior and information sharing so they participate in the technology in a safe and educated manner.

Is the best course of action to teach them responsible use?  Or, is it our responsibility as parents to restrict access to this kind of content?  And, if so, should schools be doing the same?  

I think it’s an important conversation…and one that doesn’t have easy answers.  I have to say that after speaking more about this with other parents, our teachers and school principal, I was very reassured by the teaching that goes on at our school around online safety.  Sometimes these things are not apparent or made known to us as parents…it’s often not until you question things that you find answers.  So, while I sometimes feel awkward bringing forward issues of concern, I more often than not am very satisfied with the responses I get.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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