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9366Lianne Castelino of WhereParentsTalk.com shares the world’s best and easiest chicken noodle soup recipe. Everyone needs to know how to make chicken soup and this is grandma’s surefire cold remedy. This Super Simple Chicken Noodle Soup takes 5 minutes to prepare plus 20 minutes on the stove. The result? One delicious pot of home made chicken soup.

 

(originally appeared in Huff Post Parents in May 2016)

They seem to be sprouting all around us. Multiplying, it would appear, like rabbits. Defying age, culture, socio-economic status, demographic criteria, etc. And as we watch — often in disbelief, frustration or just plain anger — we wonder where in the world they come from and how in the world they do what they do with a straight face, without much apparent conscience and usually little respect or regard for those around them.

There is no deep thinking, forensic analysis or other investigative technique required to determine what creates, causes or contributes to an entitled individual. Rock stars, politicians and professional athletes, among others, have handlers. Entitled individuals have enablers. Period, end of story.

Take any example you wish — from the collapse of Wall Street and ensuing financial crisis of 2008 and beyond, to the Jian Ghomeshi case, a bully in the schoolyard, a parent who rules by fear, a less-than-competent colleague who somehow scales the corporate ladder — it’s a long and varied list.

You can safely bet there is one common denominator. They don’t act alone. Their actions are not isolated. They move, sometimes stealthily, because they are allowed to do so. The path ahead of them is often clear or cleared by someone else. Their enablers clear it for them — whether these enablers realize that IS what they’re doing, are proactively participating or are merely reacting on the sidelines through inaction.

Entitled individuals can bob and weave their way through life deftly in large part because those of us around them allow it to happen. We enable that action. We are all guilty of enabling in one form or another — however, small or large that enablement.

It is rather gobsmacking when you see all the hallmarks of entitled creature-creation in parenting. You know the one. A lovely, normal, hardworking mother or father trying to do the right thing for their child/children. And then they’ll do completely irrational things like: debate marks with their kid’s teacher, call their child’s university professor to see about bumping up grades, corner their kid’s sports coach about more playing time (assuming the coach is irrationally not playing them) and otherwise make excuses for, dive in to save, defend without just cause — their child.

There is a difference between advocating for a child with reason and appropriate rationale, and leaping in to save them when things don’t go their way. The latter is effectively sowing the seeds of entitlement.

One of the most difficult things to do as a parent is to stand by and watch your child undergo some form of adversity. But ask yourself the zillion dollar question — how else will they ever learn? Like the old saying goes, and it is so true: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Yes it does. Likely never fun to go through, but necessary. Necessary to learn from, to appreciate the lesson learned and to understand the journey and process involved. If you want a kid to learn gratefulness and appreciation for what they have, they need to understand that journey.

The myriad of unscrupulously and even honest people, those who selfishly bent the rules, had their behaviour justified or some other such combination — others who innocently stood by and watched it happen. When the onion got peeled back on what led to the financial crisis, a whole bunch of “fraudsters” emerged. How were they allowed to operate for so long, relatively unscathed? It wasn’t magic.

As former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi became some kind of broadcast star, it would appear that he became judged by a different set of rules by his colleagues and bosses. The hushed tones, winks, nudges, sweeping-under-the-rug tactics — assuming they all existed — covered up what we’ve sadly come to learn about in sordid detail in the last several months.

He was enabled. He became entitled. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s not rocket science.

The ensuing debate about what could have and should have been done will rage on at the CBC and in other places of work where entitlement through enablement happens daily but is yet to be exposed — be that in the media or some other public forum.

The bottom line is what should have happened — red flagging from the onset and appropriate sanctions — did not happen. That did not happen for a host of reasons, not one of which will ever make a shred of sense to the victims with the red flags or future victims who may chose to keep their flags to themselves and avoid the red-face-inducing, complete public dressing-down that coming forward entails.

This type of behaviour starts with small acts of letting things slide. The little things can and often do snowball into much larger, unfortunate acts that impact lives in profound and irreversible ways.

It boils down, once again, to something all parents try to strive for, hopefully. When your kid does something wrong, there has to be appropriate discipline/punishment so they can learn right from wrong. Parenting 101. Basic. Not allowing that process of learning from mistakes, paying their dues, understanding consequences of their actions is effectively tampering with the natural order of things.

So, why in the world are we surprised when these kids grow up to be adults who behave the same way?

It’s only when they start to impede our progress that we begin to pay attention.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/lianne-castelino/entitled-kids_b_10003404.html

The City of East Liverpool, Ohio was in the spotlight this week after its police department made the controversial decision to post a photo of an overdosed couple in the front seat of a van with a four-year old child in the backseat.

The photo garnered international attention because pictures of minors are normally blurred out in such instances to protect their identities, but the police department chose to make an exception in this case to drive home a point on the perils of drug abuse.

“We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis” the city’s Facebook post read.

The heartbreaking photos, which were posted with a ‘graphic content’ warning, were taken during a traffic stop earlier in the week and show two incapacitated adults in the front seat with the young child sitting behind them.

“We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug. We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess,” the post continued. “This child can’t speak for himself but we are hopeful his story can convince another user to think twice about injecting this poison while having a child in their custody.”

According to reports, the male driver pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle and endangering a child.  The woman in the photo – the child’s mother – reportedly pleaded not guilty to endangering a child, public intoxication and disorderly conduct.  She is expected to appear in a pre-trial hearing on September 15.

What do you think of the police department’s decision to release the un-doctored photos on social media? Were they warranted in their decision?

By: Melinda Lamarche

We now find ourselves at the end of the summer holidays and the start of the school routine is upon us.  It is at this time of year that many parents are scratching their heads thinking about how to keep up with packing lunches and looking for ideas and inspiration to keep things interesting in the lunchbox.

With working parents and extracurricular activities, kids are spending a lot of time outside of the home during the school week and are in need of nourishing foods to keep them going all day long.  Keeping kids well nourished not only gives them an edge in the classroom but also gives them the energy they need to keep up with school and after school fun.

Where to start

Breakfast is great for filling bellies and providing much needed nutrients after a long fast over night.   Plenty of research shows that breakfast is also key in promoting healthy development and contributing to children’s concentration and learning abilities in the classroom.  Skipping breakfast makes it hard for kids to stay focused and concentrate throughout the morning as they wait for lunch.

Start the day off with a nutritious breakfast that is not only delicious but also helps keep kids sharp and ready for learning. As for any meal, aim to include three of the four food groups to ensure that nutritional requirements are met. If possible, prepare breakfast the night before to make the morning routine even quicker, set the table or have things ready to take breakfast to go. Some great breakfast ideas include the following:

  • Oatmeal made with milk or milk alternative, sliced bananas and berries
  • Whole grain homemade muffin (make large batches and freeze individually wrapped for easy, on the go breakfasts) fresh fruit and a hard-boiled egg
  • Fruit and yogurt smoothie with a homemade breakfast cookie

Going the distance

Snacking is essential in helping kids meet their nutritional requirements.  Kids have smaller tummies than adults so they are unable to eat a lot at meal times, therefore snacks are essential for meeting their needs and giving them energy boosts throughout the day.  Snacks are meant to be smaller than meals, that means we should be aiming for two of the four food groups at each snack.  Try combining a source of carbohydrates with protein to not only provide energy but to also to keep small bellies feeling full until the next meal. Some quick, easy and kid friendly snacks are:

  • Whole grain crackers with cheese
  • Fruit salad and yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Homemade muffin and dried fruit and mixed seeds
  • Vegetables and pita triangles with dip (i.e. hummus or tzatziki)
  • English muffin pizza with your little ones favourite toppings
  • Yogurt with homemade granola or whole grain cereal and raisins

Getting over the midday slump

Lunch is the main event.  As with any meal, lunch should include 3 of the 4 food groups.  Some parents find it tricky to include so much variety in the lunch bag every day, but doing so not only keeps kids interested but also contributes to overall health by helping meet nutritional requirements.  Some key essentials when packing lunch are as follows:

  • Get the kids involved. Bring them grocery shopping and encourage them to think outside the box and try new ingredients for their lunches
  • Get kids in the kitchen packing their own lunches
  • Prepare lunches in the evening to help reduce stress caused by the morning routine
  • Keep all the lunch essentials, such as containers, water bottles, napkins, reusable cutlery in one place, to help with making packing organized and quick
  • Choose containers that are easy to open, smaller children may have a difficult time with even the easiest of containers.
  • Pack safe – don’t forget about food safety when packing lunches. Keep hot foods hot with the use of a thermos and cold foods cold by using ice packs and an insulated lunch box.
  • Keep hydrated – send kids to school with adequate fluid, choose water
  • Some ideas for healthy and delicious lunches are:
    • pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumber and balls of fresh mozzarella
    • whole grain crackers, cheese cubes, sliced vegetables and a hardboiled egg
    • leftover vegetable and lean meat chili or homemade soup with ½ whole grain bagel and cheese
    • try breakfast for lunch – freeze leftover pancakes and serve up for lunch along side yogurt and a fruit salad or serve up hot oatmeal straight out of the thermos
    • make your favourite omelette in muffin tins and serve with toast triangles and a mix of your little ones favourite veggies
    • Experiment with different grains as the base for lunch to keep things interesting. Try quinoa or bulgur mixed with black beans, red pepper and corn, top with sliced avocado (don’t forget a sprinkle of lemon juice to prevent browning) and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Dinner still hours away?

These days kids are spending more hours away from home during the week.  This scenario calls for additional snacks to prevent dips in energy.  Again aim for 2 of the 4 food groups but consider packing larger portions or an additional snack for your kids to help fuel after school activities, especially when dinner is still hours away.

School lunch success

Packing lunches and snacks doesn’t have to be a pain, get inspired by looking up recipes and ideas for snacks and lunches, involve kids in this process as it is more likely that they will eat the foods they have been involved in choosing and/or preparing.  Keep things exciting by trying to include new foods and keep a list of the tried and true lunch and snack ideas and combinations to consult when you are at a loss for what to pack.

Melinda Lamarche has been working as a Registered Dietitian for more than 10 years.  After completing her dietetic internship at the University Health Network in 2005 she went on to complete a Masters degree in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Toronto.  Melinda has experience working with Toronto Public Health and various Family Health Teams in the Toronto area.  Melinda recently completed a Culinary program and is using her new skills to prepare yummy and healthy dishes for her husband, daughter and new baby.

RELATED LINKS

Family-Friendly Summer Treats

Your Nutritional Guide to a Summer Full of Freshness

Delight Your Senses with Our Summer Produce Guide

Buy Local to Add “Spring” to Your Diet!

Why Pulses are the Family-Friendly Food of 2016

Incorporating Pulses Into Your Family’s Diet

Fall Foods Your Family Should Try

Real Food: Feeding Your Children Right

babyboxco.com

Inspired by Finland’s longstanding tradition of providing a safe sleep environment for infants to new parents, the Baby Box Company is now providing a certified Baby Box to expectant mothers and fathers across Ontario free of charge for those who register and complete the online form.

The Baby Boxes are usable up until six-months of age and arrive complete with mattress, waterproof cover and cotton sheet.  In addition to the bassinette-style sleep space, the box includes a kit full of baby products from diapers to body wash, breast pads to teething toys.

“Approximately 80% of parents who receive a Baby Box use it as a primary safe sleep space for their infant, up to about six months of age,” said Jennifer Clary, CEO of The Baby Box Co. in an online statement. “A Baby Box program can have a real and measurable impact on both the health and well-being of Ontario’s infants, and the confidence of Ontario’s new parents.”

According to the website, parents who are expecting a child between August 1, 2016 and August 1, 2017 are eligible to sign up for the program. The company is expecting upwards of 145, 000 Baby Boxes to be delivered annually in Ontario through hospitals and various community agencies.

Baby Boxes will be rolling out in provinces across Canada later this year.

 

Olympic Rings

Elite athletes can serve as healthy role models for today’s youth but it is important for parents to balance the image of a successful sports hero with the realities of life behind the scenes to help put a human face on Olympic-sized success.

According to Dr. Gail Beck, Director of Youth Outpatient Psychiatry at The Royal in Ottawa, children will learn the most from role models who they can relate to and have demonstrated hard work to achieve their goals.

Beck said many of the athlete profiles that appear during Olympic coverage do a good job of illustrating the commitment and effort that goes into becoming a world-class competitor in addition to highlighting the community of supporters – from parents to coaches – who make invaluable contributions along the way.

“You’ll see these athletes engaged in practices of their sport, talking to their coaches, you cannot see those and make any mistake about how hard they have to work to achieve their goals,” She said. “This isn’t luck.”

In addition to underscoring how hard their role-models have worked to become successful, Beck stresses the importance of reminding kids that everyone – however powerful or prominent in their field – is subject to human frailties.

Beck references examples like Ben Johnson, Canada’s decorated Olympic sprinters whose gold medal was rescinded as a result of steroid use, to illustrate how balancing a child’s admiration with the realities of life will help prevent disillusionment and confusion if someone they look up to does something wrong.

“A 10 or 11 year old is very likely to idolize a sports figure thinking everything this person does is perfect, so if that sports person happens to fall from grace, there can be this huge disappointment,” Beck said.  “It’s important to always balance the good of the person with the fact that everybody has had to overcome some challenges.”

Many Olympic athletes, like cyclist and speed skater Clara Hughes, have used their platforms for good, going on to become advocates for worthwhile causes like mental health awareness.  Beck said it’s a valuable lesson for children to see their heroes making contributions outside of their field and using their talents and fame to make a larger difference in the world.

Lazy summer days wouldn’t be complete with our favourite warm-weather treats, but this summer, consider mixing up your family’s snacking routine with a variety of delicious – yet nutritious – bites.

Contrary to popular belief, nutritious foods don’t have to be a total yawn fest.  There are several ways to put a fun and delicious spin on healthy alternatives, see below for some inspirational ideas!

  1. Summer Salsa! Turn melon, strawberries and pineapple into a colourful salsa and serve it up with whole grain pita triangles sprinkled with cinnamon.
  2. Savvy Skewers! Layer a variety of fruit and berries onto a skewer with a dip of plain Greek yogurt spiked with honey, cinnamon and a dash of vanilla. T
  3. Popsicle Fun! Think of your favourite flavour combinations and freeze them in popsicle moulds or blend up a frozen banana with honey and a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and you have instant chocolate banana ice cream.
  4. Delicious Dippin’! Kids love to dip, offer cut up vegetables along side a protein packed new spin on hummus by blending together edamame, tahini, roasted garlic and lemon juice, it’ll also taste great with some whole grain crackers.

Hungry yet?

Mixing in some nutritious alternatives will give your family that burst of energy they need to enjoy the rest of summer to its fullest! Enjoy!

Melinda Lamarche has been working as a Registered Dietitian for more than 10 years.  After completing her dietetic internship at the University Health Network in 2005 she went on to complete a Masters degree in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Toronto.  Melinda has experience working with Toronto Public Health and various Family Health Teams in the Toronto area.  Melinda recently completed a Culinary program and is using her new skills to prepare yummy and healthy dishes for her husband, daughter and new baby.

RELATED LINKS

Your Nutritional Guide to a Summer Full of Freshness

Delight Your Senses with Our Summer Produce Guide

Buy Local to Add “Spring” to Your Diet!

Why Pulses are the Family-Friendly Food of 2016

Incorporating Pulses Into Your Family’s Diet

Fall Foods Your Family Should Try

Real Food: Feeding Your Children Right

Five-year old Taliyah Marsman in a photo released by the Calgary Police.

Reading about a child’s death is gut-wrenching as a parent.  The solidarity you feel with other mothers and fathers makes it virtually impossible not to weep for their loss and question your faith in the world.

You can’t help but imagine your own family experiencing such tragedy and reeling from the unthinkable heartbreak of losing a child.  You find it hard to look your own children in the eye because the very thought of going through what five-year old Taliyah Marsman’s family is going through in this moment is too unbearable to comprehend.

You feel helpless to protect your loved ones and though you try and tell yourself the world is filled with more good people than bad, you can’t help the sense of uncomfortable suspicion that washes over you every time a stranger crosses your path.

What is a parent to do when it feels like the world has turned upside down?  How do you move from one day to the next without feeling abandoned in a sea of more bad news than good?

I wish I had answers, but in this moment only questions.

Rest in Peace Taliyah Marsman and Sara Baillie.  May you find lasting comfort in the arms of each other.

Five-year old Taliyah Marsman in a photo released by Calgary Police.
Five-year old Taliyah Marsman in a photo released by Calgary Police.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services has penned an open letter to Toronto’s City Council making his case for why the city’s current street hockey ban should be lifted.  Council is expected to debate the issue later this week.

Michael Coteau says Ontario’s capital city can lead the way for other places around the province to encourage outdoor play.

“Road hockey bans are commonplace in municipalities across Ontario and I am hoping your council will show leadership by making it clear that children can and should play safely on neighbourhood streets,” he said.  “A vote to overturn the prohibition and let kids play will challenge other municipalities to abolish similar road hockey bans in their own communities.”

In his letter, Coteau, a father to two young daughters and MPP for Toronto’s Don Valley East constituency, stressed the many upsides of physical activity that go beyond on the obvious health and wellness benefits.  He said life skills such as communication, patience, perseverance and teamwork go hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle.

At paramount issue in this debate is the safety risk posed to children who are playing in the street. Council will also weigh the potential hazard for motorists as well as possible interference with city maintenance.  A city staff report recommends keeping the ban in place for those reasons.

“Transportation Services believes that the “Status Quo” option represents the best balance of competing needs. Recognizing that street hockey, basketball, and other sports activities do occur on public roadways, there are legitimate safety and liability concerns with permitting this activity,” the report states.

Coteau says he’s taken safety under consideration in his proposal and believes there are ways to encourage physical activity while also ensuring the well-being of children across the city.

“The obvious issue at hand is the safety of our children, and I agree that our kids need to be safe, but there has to be a better way than denying them of their right to play,” he said.  “That’s why I am urging all City Councillors to think carefully about this debate.”

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No one revels in the art of taking smart shortcuts more than yours truly. You know the one that leads from point A to D with expedience and without sacrificing quality. It’s a thrilling thing! And when you master it, there is no turning back. The sheer delight in increased efficiency, timely turnarounds and NOT wasting time is, “in short” — phenomenal!

The convenience industry which characterizes much of society today includes a fulsome range of neat businesses and “hard-to-live-without” services running the gamut. From healthy daily meal preparation with delivery to your door, to grocery shopping online and the endless variety of cleaning services, personal trainers, landscaping artists — the list goes on and on.

Then there are the veritably endless apps that can conveniently keep you honest with food intake and weight loss, sleep trackers and the enabling gifts of all kinds to magically appear at the front door of family and friends marking a special occasion — and within swipe or click or tap range, or flashing from a wearable device. It’s truly head-spinning material.

Which brings me to a newly discovered convenience, one that may very revolutionize an entire industry: buying a car — from loan to purchase — entirely ONLINE. Honestly, I found the concept truly amazing. Making one of the largest purchases one has to make in their life, using the click, tap, swipe method. Whoa!

It all got me thinking, as I watched my 16-year-old son climb into the gleaming taupe-coloured Driver’s Education car, with the instructor in the passenger seat, poised to begin the lesson.

The convenience industry has definitely enabled efficiency to a large extent which means in theory we should be able to spend more time doing more of what we love and hopefully less time, doing the opposite. That should presumably give us more time to chase those creative pursuits, do more of what brings up happiness, free up time to spend on what matters — family, friends, fitness, faith, to-do lists before they become bucket lists on a time limit, etc.

For parents, being able to tap into some of what makes up the convenience industry — hopefully the free or less-costly things — should mean freeing up time to spend that ever-elusive “quality” time with our children, spouses and partners.

But does it? Or do we somehow resist the benefits of the convenience industry and fill up that newly gained time with more stuff — that “stuff” that renders us all busy, ALL.THE. TIME. The B word that forms the common refrain to questions like: How’ve you been? How is life treating you? What have you been up to?

Time management is an ongoing odyssey for many of us, but for parents, it must be mastered quickly and on an ongoing basis as a matter of pure survival. Working parents understand this best. No time to waste. The clock is ticking. Drop-offs, pick-ups, schedules, nap time, calendars, activities, snack, meal and potty time, and of course timeouts. The clock whirrs.

While we cannot stop the clock, despite many valiant efforts to attempt such a feat, we could try to outsmart it. Perhaps stealing time — precious moments, priceless seconds, an hour here and there — truly leveraging the age of convenience that we live in to our own advantage, could offer the best of both worlds: A greater appreciation of living in the now.

I can frequently be heard saying to my children when they respond, “I’ll do it later.” Whatever IT is. Depending on the importance of the IT, a.k.a. the ask, I’ll reply, “Why not do it now, later may not come.”

And then there’s the priceless magnet on my father-in-law’s fridge reads which provides further food for thought and summarizes this concept so well: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.”