Will the real grownups please stand up?

It seems everywhere you look these days politicians are behaving badly, throwing Twitter fits, or in Wednesday’s case – actual fits – in the halls of government power.

In an unprecedented move ahead of a controversial vote to limit debate on the government’s assisted dying bill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau charged across the House of Commons and grabbed a Conservative MP on the arm while unintentionally elbowing a female NDP MP in the process.

A commotion immediately ensued, resulting in NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair screaming “you’re pathetic” at Trudeau when Trudeau returned a second time to the other side of the aisle.

So much for those “Sunny Ways” huh?

Trudeau apologized almost immediately for the incident but that didn’t prevent the tsunami of opposition anger and media attention brought on by the melee. He also spent a good part of Thursday trying to make amends to little avail.

By now, many of us are desensitized to brash political tactics thanks in large part to an unnamed American politician and his penchant for insults and inflammatory statements. But here in Canada, we pride ourselves on a higher standard of discourse, even to the point of being a bit smug about it compared to our Southern neighbours.

Until now that is.

In a previous post regarding the U.S. presidential race, I asked how we’ll one day explain to our children that bullying is wrong when America is poised to elect a master intimidator to the nation’s highest office.

“Electing him would signal to our kids – many too young to notice now – that the best way to succeed in life is not through diplomatic means, but through insults directed at anyone who stands in your way,” I wrote at the time.

Are we headed down a similar path with our own politicians? Will Canada’s elected officials be relegated to the long list of deviant celebrities acting as poor examples to the public?

Seeing yesterday’s events unfold, I truly hope Canada isn’t on a pathway to bullying politics. Our kids need and deserve role models in office who emulate the behaviour we as parents try so hard to instil in them everyday of their lives.

C’mon politicians, it’s time to behave like grownups because right now our children are behaving better than you.

RELATED LINKS:

When a Bully Runs for President

Politics and Parenting

By: Melinda Lamarche

It’s finally over!  The strange winter we’ve had has finally said goodbye and we are now enjoying beautiful spring days.  The beginning of spring also means that local produce will soon be finding its way into grocery stores and popping up at Farmers Markets around the city.

Eating fresh and local foods is not only a delicious way to enjoy fruits and vegetables, it also has a positive impact on health, the environment and the local economy as outlined below:

  • HEALTH: Buying local means fewer steps between the field and the table reducing the number of opportunities for contamination that can lead to food poisoning. In-season produce tends to have higher nutrition values than their out-of-season counterparts because they’re served up at peak ripeness.
  • ENVIRONMENT: Buying foods grown close to home decreases the distance between the farm and our tables, therefore reducing our carbon footprint.
  • ECONOMY: Buying local produce contributes to the local economy by supporting local farmers and growers.

The growing season is short in most parts of Canada due to cold and long winters but spring and summer weather allows local growers to grow delicious produce for us to enjoy.  Eating locally also means enjoying fruit and vegetables while they are in season.  During the spring and summer months we see the available produce change based on what is growing on trees and in fields at the time.

May marks the start of locally grown produce being available and is when we start seeing farmers markets re-opening across the city.  Here is your guide to what is in season this month! We start off with only a few seasonal foods being available at this time but the list will grow longer as we get closer to and throughout the summer months.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb season starts in May.  These long ruby red stalks are known for adding a tart yet delicious flavour to desserts and other dishes and are often paired with strawberries, pears or apples to add sweetness.  Rhubarb contains calcium, which plays a role in maintaining bone health, vitamin C and potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.

  • Buying Rhubarb

Look for stalks that are bright red and that have full and fresh looking leaves.

  • Storing Rhubarb

Discard leaves as they are poisonous.  You may have to peel rhubarb to remove fibrous strings, wrap stalks in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.  Rhubarb can also be frozen.

 

Rhubarb Stalks, Source: Wikimedia Commons
Rhubarb Stalks, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Asparagus

Local asparagus is such a treat! It is much more flavourful than its out-of-season counterparts which travel to us from Mexico and Peru in the off season months.   Local asparagus is available in May and the start of June.

Asparagus is full of vitamins and minerals that are essential for health including vitamin A which is helpful for immune function, vision and reproductive health.  Asparagus also contains vitamin C which is an antioxidant which helps to fight against chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes; it also promotes tissue growth and repair.

Vitamin K, also found in asparagus, plays a role in blood clotting which helps to prevent excessive bleeding with cuts and scrapes. There is also folate which is essential in reducing the risk of heart disease as well as neural tube defects.  Folate has also been linked to a reduced risk of some cancers. Asparagus also contains two great forms of carbohydrates, fibre and inulin which is a prebiotic that promotes a healthy gut.

  • Buying Asparagus

Look for stalks that are bright green and crisp with tightly closed tips

  • Storing Aspargus

To keep asparagus fresh, trim the stems and place in a container of cold water, leave in the refrigerator and use within a few days

 

Radish

The fiery taste of local radish is available this month. This common addition to salads contains a great nutritional profile.  These little fuschia globes are full of antioxidants, including sulforaphane which has been proven to play a role in the prevention of breast, prostate, colon and ovarian cancers. Radishes also contain vitamin C and fibre.

  • Buying Radishes

Look for radishes that are firm without any cracks or dry spots.  The green tops should be fresh looking.

  • Storing Radishes

Remove radish greens, wash roots well and store in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.

 

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads are a very interesting vegetable from the fern family.  Fiddleheads should never be eaten raw and must always be cooked.  These curly vegetables contain potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants.

  • Buying Fiddleheads

Buy fiddleheads that are tightly curled, crisp and bright green.

  • Storing and Preparing fiddleheads

Loosely wrap and store in a plastic bag, do not wash fiddleheads until ready to use.

To prepare fiddleheads remove the brown papery skin surrounding the fiddleheads, rinse in cold water thoroughly to remove dirt and cook thoroughly, 15 minutes in boiling water.  Fiddleheads should always be boiled before sauteeing, frying or baking.
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:

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

As a born and raised Albertan, I feel emotionally struck by the images emerging out of my home province this past week.  The scenes of burned-out neighbourhoods – in a region already reeling from a slumping economy – are incredibly disheartening.

Amidst the wreckage, however, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of support from across the country which has added a desperately needed sense of optimism and hope for better days ahead.  As of Monday morning, the Red Cross is reporting that a staggering $54 million has been raised to help the people of Fort McMurray.

It makes me so proud as an Albertan, as a Canadian and especially as a parent to see the country’s generosity on full display. At a time when television airwaves are flooded with derisive soundbites from unnamed American politicians, it fills my heart with so much joy to see examples of unbridled kindness from coast to coast in our great country.

My favourite illustrations of Canadian compassion from this past week are those involving children.  From an ice-cream stand in Nova Scotia to a car wash in Niagara Falls, kids across the nation are helping turn tragedy into a teachable moment of caring for all of us.

A quick Twitter search yields some amazing examples of philanthropic efforts initiated by kids, parents and teachers to help Fort McMurray rebuild, see below:

What an amazing shift in perspective for the thousands of people directly impacted by the flames and the millions more watching from home, to see a story of unimaginable loss become a story of unprecedented support, generosity and hope.

Congratulations to everyone who has donated their time and money to helping the people of Fort McMurray, especially the many kids across Canada who have shown tremendous heart amidst the heartbreak.

RELATED LINKS:

“Meanest Mom Ever” Teaches Kids a Hard Lesson on Manners

The Magic Words

A Family’s Strength

A new ad by U.S. airline JetBlue is putting a positive spin on flying with babies, a scenario often dreaded by fellow passengers.

The campaign titled “Fly Babies” was released just ahead of Mother’s Day and features a handful of moms discussing their pre-flight apprehensions about traveling with a young child.

“I don’t want to be that lady with the baby who’s screaming for four hours,” said one woman.

“I think the worst thing that could happen on this flight is that he’ll get overtired which causes a lot of screaming and people definitely give you some dirty looks,” added another.

In an innovative and unexpected twist later in the video, a flight attendant takes the microphone to announce that for the first time, a crying baby on-board an airplane will actually be a “good thing.”

She then announces that for each infant outburst, passengers will be awarded 25% off their next flight, meaning four consecutive cries will yield a free trip.

It is a weird and wonderful sight from that point on to see the plane full of passengers cheer every time they hear a tiny tantrum.

The video then ends with a nudge to future passengers,  “Next time, smile at a baby for crying out loud.”

See the emotional ad here:

 

 

Tired of the Mommy Wars and the pressure to be perfect? This movie is probably for you!

Written by the duo behind the “Hangover,” “Bad Moms” stars Mila Kunis as an overworked mom of two who is struggling to juggle the many – and often unreasonable – demands of parenthood.

Kunis’ eventually reaches her breaking point at a PTA meeting when the queen of the perky moms, depicted by Christina Applegate, outlines no less than 14 dietary restrictions for the school’s upcoming bake sale.

“I’m so tired of trying to be this perfect mom, I’m done” she says to Applegate’s obvious confusion.

Two other moms played by Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn join Kunis in solidarity to ditch the rules of perfect parenting and the rest is history.

See the hilarious trailer below as the “Bad Moms” crew goes wild all over town, including – gasp – showing up at the bake sale with store-bought donut holes. The horror!

An advocacy group representing fathers who are their family’s primary caregivers is in the spotlight this week for its “Dads Don’t Babysit” campaign.

The grassroots project went viral on social media after a Reddit user wearing a “Dads Don’t Babysit (It’s Called “Parenting”)” t-shirt posted his picture on the site under the heading “Important Message From a Dad to Society.”

Since being posted, the photo has generated more than 3000 comments, including from men who say they can identify with the stereotype often imposed on them when they look after their kids.

“It hurt really bad when I was a new, stay-at-home, dad and people would say or ask about me babysitting,” one user wrote. “My wife’s job had 70% travel and she’s going back to school for her masters, and we were in a new city with no family and only a couple friends, so I was “on” 24/7.

The organization behind the t-shirt is the National At-Home Dad Network, a non-profit group that seeks to “empower fathers and champion a culture that recognizes them as capable and competent parents.”

You can see the photo of the t-shirt below:

Photo Courtesy/facebook.com/athomedadnetwork
Photo Courtesy/facebook.com/athomedadnetwork

RELATED LINKS:

CBC Host Mark Kelley Talks About Fatherhood

Keeping Up in the in Era of Social Media

No App for That! A Parent’s Guide to Explaining Simpler Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

With 100 days to go until the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, Procter & Gamble has released an inspiring new ad celebrating the vital role moms play in bringing-up strong children.

The ad – appropriately titled “Strong” – is part of the brand’s “Thank-You Mom” campaign and portrays elite athletes flashing-back to moments of adversity in their childhood when they turned to their mothers for comfort and encouragement.  The video then shows the athletes channeling that inner strength into a winning Olympic performance.

“This campaign began with the insight that behind every athlete is an amazing mom,” said Marc Pritchard, P&G Global Brand Officer in an online statement.  “We see how strong moms are in every facet of their lives, and how their children draw on that strength as they grow. Through our campaign, we invite everyone to join us in saying ‘Thank You’ to moms for the role they play in raising strong children.”

You can see the ad below:

RELATED LINKS:

Olympic Legacy

WPT Interview with Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield

Parenting Athletes

Reflecting on Mothers

Who knew date night could be so controversial?

Model Chrissy Teigen found herself embroiled in an internet controversy this past weekend when online photos surfaced of her and husband John Legend enjoying a (gasp!) night out without their newborn daughter Luna.

Detractors immediately took to social media to slam the star for leaving her baby at home less than two-weeks after giving birth, calling the outing “disgraceful” and questioning her dedication to motherhood.

“I’m not saying new parents have to be tied to their babies 24/7 but I find it hard to understand how any new mother can tear themselves away from a much longed for baby at nine days old for the sake of a night out,” wrote one Facebook commenter in response to a Daily Mail article.

Unwilling to take the criticism lying down, Teigen – a prolific social media user – faced her haters Sunday morning, posting: “I went to dinner. People are pissed. Good Morning!”

Teigen’s Twitter and Instagram pages have since been flooded with supportive comments telling her to turn a blind eye to the cowardly critics.

“Of course you have the right to go on a date,” wrote one Instagram user. “It is even a MUST for a healthy, well-balanced family. Let these bitter b**ches talk. Luna has one hell of a mamma. May you raise her as fierce as you.”

Teigen is a public figure so it’s natural to assume she’s caught-up in controversy and judgment simply because of her fame.  Unfortunately, the hostility extends well beyond Hollywood to the greater parenting community illustrated by the nearly 1-million search results for the term “Mommy Wars” on Google.

Furthermore, a 2013 poll conducted by Quester and commissioned by Parents magazine found that 63 percent of U.S. mothers believe that so-called “mommy wars” exist, yet less than half those respondents recognize that behaviour within their own social circle.  The study was unable to elaborate on the reason for the drop, but it’s safe to assume the anonymity of social media has at least something to do with it.

With the challenges of work-life balance still facing many 21st-century mothers, why is the parenting community so quick to turn on itself? How much further along could we be as a community without all the friendly-fire?

It should be noted that while the internet can be a catty cesspool of mom-on-mom hostility, it can also be a source of solidarity and support if you look hard enough. Hashtags like #momlife and #dadlife aggregate thousands of encouraging and often hilarious posts that perfectly capture what it means to be a parent in this day and age.

Still, as Teigen’s experience demonstrated this past weekend, there is a plethora of anonymous negativity and online judgment to go around, which begs the question: Wouldn’t we all be better off if we spent more time practicing good parenting and a little less time preaching it?

I sure think so.

RELATED LINKS:

“Meanest Mom Ever” Trashes Ice Cream to Teach Kids Hard Lesson on Manners

Keeping Up in the Era of Social Media

No App for That! A Parent’s Guide to Explaining Simpler Times

Are Manners Passe?

Teaching Civility & Manners

A U.S. reality TV star is garnering online attention and praise for her tough-love approach to parenting.

Jaime Primak Sullivan, star of Bravo’s Jersey Belle, was appalled by her kids’ dismissive treatment of a Dairy Queen employee when the family was out for ice-cream this past weekend.   Not one of them said “thank you” to the young lady behind the counter or to their mom for purchasing the treat.

In an online post that has since gone viral, Sullivan explained how she calmly counted to 10, gave herself a silent pep-talk, then collected each of the desserts and threw them in the garbage while her children  looked on in confusion and horror.

Once everyone settled down, Sullivan says she explained to them the importance of treating people with respect and to really “look them in the eye and say thank you.”  At ages eight, seven and five, she says her kids are too old to overlook the importance of basic manners in everyday life.

Jaime Primak Sullivan's Facebook post that has since gone viral.
Jaime Primak Sullivan’s Facebook post that has since gone viral.

The reaction to Sullivan’s post has been overwhelmingly positive with many posters praising her tough-love approach to parenting and sharing similar experiences from their own lives.  The post has been shared 44, 000 times on Facebook and has drawn more than 350,000 ‘likes’ in just four days.

In a subsequent video blog on her Facebook page, Sullivan says she viewed the Dairy Queen experience as a “teachable moment” and that a more measured response would not have yielded the kind of long-term impact she’s was looking for.

“I would like them to treat people with basic human decency, perhaps more than basic – forever,” Sullivan said. “Because if I die tomorrow, I’m leaving you with my three children, so I would like for the world to be better because they’re in it.”

RELATED LINKS:

Are Manners Passe?

Teaching Civility & Manners

Service with a Smile

Keeping Up in the in Era of Social Media

No App for That! A Parent’s Guide to Explaining Simpler Times