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Archive for November 2014

Work-Life Balance - What's That? And, Who Needs It Anyway?

Friday, 28 November 2014

I don't know about you, but I always wonder about how successful women do it all - career, family life and staying true to themselves. I can barely make it out of bed most mornings, forget everything else. Can women, and most importantly, busy mamas like us, have it all?

Join me over the next few weeks exploring the lives of busy mamas and sharing secrets about how to deal with stress, find balance, and stay healthy and true to yourself.

In an interview, when asked "What stresses you about your work-life balance and how do you manage it?", Arlene Dickinson (Enrepreneur, CEO of Venture Capital, Founder of You Inc., and mother of four adult children, or a.k.a. Dragon's Den Lady) responded "I don't really believe in work-life balance." I thought, it is so refreshing to hear that from a successful woman who seems to have it all. I always wonder about those ridiculous work-life balance seminars at work during lunch time, trying to teach you how to manage your life better. But, isn't it ironic to have those seminars during your lunch time in the first place? Arlene also continues by saying "Balance is an indicator of being equal, and to me it's really about this personal feeling of satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness, no matter what drives that."

I believe, that is exactly what we should strive for: a feeling of satisfaction. The fact that we can never find that feeling because we never seem to be satisfied with ourselves or our accomplishments is a whole other story! 

Honestly, I don't remember a time when I was fully satisfied with myself - ever! Isn't that crazy? I remember times when I was happy, content, but never fully satisfied. It is our human nature to always want more of everything, regardless of how much we have already, that's one challenge. The other problem in the work-life balance equation is 'work':). Most of us have to work to pay the bills, and the majority of us don't do the work they love, so we try to compensate elsewhere, trying to find our 'balance'.

I believe there is no such thing as work-life balance, and nobody needs it anyway. What we need are achievements and satisfaction - achieving what you want and enjoying it to the fullest. Enjoyment is a challenging concept as it has so many components to it: pride, satisfaction, security, love, celebration, fulfillment and well-being. Perhaps even more.


Ideally, we'd like to achieve a feeling of satisfaction everyday in four different categories: career, family, friends, and self. But, realistically that is not possible. So, we need to focus on certain categories and enjoyments everyday instead. I'm not suggesting to forget family Tuesdays and Thursdays, but maybe have your spouse or relative look after the kids one evening while you go out to a dance class or gym, or whatever it is you like to do for yourself.

What you need to realize is that with small kids, especially infants, you will have times during which you can only focus on family. I notice that in my life. For instance, currently, I'm still nursing a lot, but I try to enjoy these moments even if that means not having enough time to do many of the other things I'd like to do, such as spending more time with my older boys. Today, I was satisfied with myself for having taken the time to read a bedtime story to each of my sons, separately.

Time spent with our kids is so special (although it may seem annoying at times) and soon it will disappear without any warning. So, what if your floors are not spotless every single day of the week, or the laundry is done 3 days later than usual? It's not that big of a deal, really! Believe me, I know how you feel. I'm a perfectionist myself. I always feel the need to vacuum everyday, wash the floors every other day, do laundry every day (several loads), clean up after the kids all the time, and the list goes on and on. Before my parents come over on the week-end, I make sure to vacuum (and sometimes wash the floors). My husband makes fun of me - "Why are you vacuuming? Are your parents coming over?" It's true of course that we need to vacuum downstairs everyday because of dog hair. But my husband is completely right (don't tell him I said so though:). I rather make sure everything is spotless before my parents come over than hear them point out how messy our house is and how there is dog hair everywhere. But that is what I choose to do. By the way, in the summer, my husband mows the lawn before my dad comes over, otherwise he won't hear the end of that:). Don't laugh! I bet you do the same thing before your in-laws come over:)! The bottom line is: know your priorities and pencil them in for an appropriate day. And, remember to focus on the important things, one day at a time.

As Harvey Schachter, an Ontario based writer specializing in management issues, says:
Avoid the “as soon as” trap. “As soon as I get caught up on this project, I’ll spend more time with you, honey,” you might say. “As soon as I get the promotion, we’ll have more money and be able to enjoy life better.” That’s dangerous, because life can – and will likely – pass you by. It’s better to achieve and enjoy every day.





Stay tuned for secrets and suggestions on managing a busy mama life!



Disclosure: All opinions are my own.
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Getting Ready for Chanukah!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Not to bring down anyone's Santa's or Christmas spirit, but my family is Jewish; so, we don't celebrate Christmas. Many of our Jewish friends don't celebrate Christmas, but still do the whole Santa custom, as it was always done in Russia. We don't celebrate or practice any of those customs. My husband insists on sticking to the Jewish holidays only. And frankly, I don't mind. I like to focus on our festive holiday season in September and October, and this time of the year, my kids are anxious with anticipation for the big beautiful festival of light, Chanukah (a.k.a. Hanukkah). 

So, what is Chanukah? Chanukah is an eight-day festival of light that commences on the eve of the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev according to the Jewish calendar, which falls sometime between November and December, depending on the year. Its history and traditions date back to more than twenty-one centuries ago when the Holy Land was ruled by the Greeks. At that time, the Greeks robbed the Jews and their property, as well as set up idols (which is against the Jewish religion). No one could stand up against the Greeks, until Mattityahu and his sons defeated them and drove them from the Holy Land. When this small group of victorious Jews tried to light the Temple's menorah (the seven branched candelabrum) to celebrate, they could find only a tiny drop of oil, a one-day supply which miraculously lasted eight whole days, until they were able to find and prepare new oil.



The Chanukah lights remind us of the great miracle and defeat against the Greeks. Chanukah customs include:
  • lighting the Chanukiah (the nine-branched candelabrum used especially for Chanukah)
  • eating latkes (potato pancakes)
  • eating sufganiot (doughnuts baked in oil) - traditionally, it's customary to eat oily foods on Chanukah
  • playing with the dreidel (a spinning top inscribed with Hebrew letters)
  • giving Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children - during Chanukah it's customary to give money to children, to teach to give some of it to charity

I absolutely love this holiday because you get to do so many different things and activities with the kids. I bought a special Chanukah curtain this year ($10 at the Judaica store) to decorate the doorway, a few dreidels and Chanukah stickers which my boys loved putting on the windows.

 
 


We used dreidel garlands I had from the years before, and made DIY artsy decorations by colouring Chanukah printables with the boys. I also take the time to read Chanukah stories to my kids about the great miracle, sing Chanukah songs and play dreidel. And, that's not all! I sought out some dreidel and menorah shaped cookie cutters this year, and plan on baking Chanukah cookies with my boys for the eve of Chanukah.







And, there is more! I would like to share this amazing wooden Chanukah set from KidKraft (a brand I really like) that my boys absolutely love and can play with it forever. We've had this set for a few years now (available from sears.ca for $50 or the Judaica store).

Lastly, on the eve of Chanukah, my kids will enjoy receiving their special Chanukah presents, including some Chanukah gelt in the form of gold and silver chocolate coins:).

Now, let's talk about the dreidel. What is a dreidel? A dreidel (or a sevivon) is a spinning top. Its name comes from the Yiddish word 'Drey' meaning 'to spin'. There are four Hebrew letters inscribed on a dreidel: 
these letters stand for the Hebrew words "Nes Gadol Haya Sham = A great miracle happened there."

How to play the dreidel game? 
Each player begins with an equal number of gold coins (I recommend using chocolate coins:). At the beginning, each player puts in one coin into the center (the pot). Each player then takes his/her turn to spin the dreidel. If the dreidel lands on gimmel, it means you take all the coins, nun means you get nothing, hay means you take half, and shin means you have to add a coin to the pot.

For the complete story on Chanukah and its observances, please click on the link below:


Stay tuned for my delicious Chanukah recipes coming soon!


Disclosure: All opinions are my own.
Source: chabad.org



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Be Aware of Previous Graco Products Recalled!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

After a major Graco stroller recall about a week ago, I decided to investigate some of their other recalls. And guess what? 


GRACO Infant and Toddler Carseat Recalls

In July of this year (2014), Graco has announced the recall of 1.9 million car seats - this was the biggest recall in U.S. history! Moreover, earlier this year, Graco recalled 4.2 million toddler car seats because the harness buckle was becoming compromised by spilled drink or food.



Here is a list of the recalled car seats:

  • SnugRide Classic Connect - produced March 1, 2011-May 31,2013
  • SnugRide Classic Connect 30 - produced July 1, 2010-January 31, 2013
  • SnugRide Classic Connect 35 - produced May 1, 2011-January 31, 2013
  • SnugRide Click Connect 40 - produced June 1, 2012-December 31, 2012
  • Aprica A30 - producedd July 1, 2011-April 30, 2012






For the complete announcement with detailed information on the recently recalled Graco infant and toddler carseats, please click on the link below:
https://secure.gracobucklerecall.com/Recall2014/infant-car-seats-affected-models.html?vs=MzkzNWM4OWMtNDViZC00NmY4LWFmMTktNGZiZjI5MzJkOTRlOzsS1 


GRACO Classic Wood Highchair Recall
In October of 2012, Health Canada reported a recall of Graco Classic Wood Highchairs. "The entire seat may become loose or suddenly detach from its base, posing a serious fall hazard."

These highchairs were sold in Canada between January 2008 and March 2011.


I don't know about you, but I don't have any confidence in the Graco brand after so many recalls!

Disclosure: All opinions are my own.
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Beautify Your Hair with the BC TIME RESTORE Formula

Monday, 24 November 2014

Every time I go out, I always get complemented on how nice my hair smells. Would you like to know the secret? It's the Schwarzkopf BC Bonacure Q10 - Time Restore Satin Spray! Initially, my mom introduced me to this line of products and now our entire family uses them. 

Schwarzkopf Professional has many hair products that are used worldwide, including celebrities. I tried several of their products and I can honestly say that they are all amazing! I haven't heard of any negative comments from anyone who uses these hair products.

I have long wavy coloured hair. The BC Bonacure Q10 hair treatment products are not only quick and easy to use, but they also smell wonderful. I love the ease with which I can style my unwashed and unbrushed hair last minute.

The BC Bonacure Q10 shampoo and conditioners not only make my hair look healthy and shiny, but also give it more volume. They both have a subtle and relaxing scent to them. I have thick hair and I color, but the shampoo and conditioner keep my hair soft and healthy. I have also heard from other users that if you have fine hair, the shampoo does not weigh your hair down.

Now, onto damage control... These hair products mend about 80% of my split ends which is amazing! My hair doesn't look damaged, and after using the 'time restore rejuvenating spray, it looks silky, soft and shiny, and smells amazing - I apply it to wet and dry hair!

Unfortunately, the BC Bonacure Q10 hair products cannot be purchased from your local store. However, you can buy them at most hair salons. Check your usual salon for availability. These hair treatment products are pricier than your everyday hair products which you can purchase from Walmart. I alternate them with the Pantene Pro-V line of products to cut down on costs.

I use and definitely recommend the following BC Bonacure Q10 hair treatments:

  • Schwarzkopf Bonacure Rejuvenating Spray - I use this all the time!
  • Schwarzkopf Bonacure Time Restore Hair Treatment - I use this every couple of months.
  • Schwarzkopf Bonacure Time Restore Shampoo and Conditioner - I alternate these with my usual Pantene Pro-V line of products.
These are the best hair products out there I've found so far. Be careful of counterfeit products, if ordering online. 

Hurry to get the BC Bonacure hair treatment products to get your hair shiny, silky and sexy looking!


Disclosure: All opinions are my own. This is not a paid advertisement.









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Beware of Graco Stroller Recall in Canada and the US

Friday, 21 November 2014

Health Canada has just announced a big Graco childrens' products recall. Apparently, Sterling single stroller models have a defect that poses a "laceration or amputation hazard" for children's fingers. The problem is with the hinge that allows the stroller to fold up.

Note that the affected and defective products being recalled were sold in Canada from August 2000 to November 2014. 

Eleven injury cases have already been reported in the US, including six fingertip amputations, according to Health Canada. There have been no injury cases reported so far in Canada. However, approximately 200,000 of these strollers and travel systems were sold in Canada. and close to 5 million in the US!!! (Just over 10,000 of these strollers were sold in Mexico.)

If you have any the products being recalled, contact Graco immediately at 1-800-667-8184 to request a free repair kit (although, I would recommend returning the product altogether). "While waiting for a repair kit, caregivers should exercise extreme care when unfolding the stroller to be certain that the hinges are firmly locked before placing a child in the stroller," Health Canada advises.

Please click on the link below to see the official recall notice by Health Canada, and a complete list of Graco products being recalled.



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Food Series - 2 of 3: Spice Up Your Life!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

We all use spices in our daily cooking, but do we really know anything about them other than how they taste?

Here are some interesting facts on 10 commonly used spices to improve your health, boost brainpower, fight inflammation, and even secrets to losing weight!

  1. GINGER - Many studies show that ginger helps to relieve morning sickness. I drank ginger tea all the time during my first two pregnancies, and it helped a lot. With my third I was so sick that only prescribed medication helped:(.

  2. CINNAMON - Apparently, just one teaspoon of ground cinnamon contains the same amount of cancer-fighting antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries. You can mix cinnamon to vanilla yogurt - 1 teaspoon of the spice for every 1 cup of yogurt works well, or add it to hot beverages, such as coffee, tea, or cocoa. I love adding it to hot wine with a citrus fruit:)!
  3. TURMERIC - You probably know turmeric because of its distinctive yellow colour that it gives to curry. But this spice also has many other health benefits. Turmeric is high in fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin B6 and potassium.
  4. ROSEMARY - This herb is a good souce of fiber and iron. It also contains many antioxidants. Some studies reported that rosemary contains numerous compounds that protect brain cells from oxidative damage. 
  5. CAYENNE - Pepper flakes are a great handy source of healing and pain relief. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers their kick, fights pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. The hotter the pepper, the more pain-fighting power it has.
  6. SAFFRON - A spice specifically for us, busy mamas! A daily saffron capsule may provide fast relief from PMS symptoms. Who knew?!
  7. BASIL - Basil is a great source of vitamins A, C, and K. Basil has essential oils which function as antioxidants. And, it also has a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, helping to relieve arthritis pain.
  8. PARSLEY - Parsley is high in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, fiber, and iron. It is also a good source of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Studies have shown that parsley possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
  9. THYME - This herb is high in vitamin K and iron, and is easy to grow at home. Recent studies suggest that thyme may prove helpful in treating obesity.
  10. MARJORAM and OREGANO - These spices are high in vitamin K, and good sources of fiber, calcium, iron, and manganese. They also contain important antioxidants. Researchers suggest that both, marjoram and oregano help prevent inflammation and protect against arthritis.

Herbs and spices have long been known for their natural healing properties. Some of them even play a role in fighting new world diseases, including Alzheimer's and diabetes, thanks to their antioxidant components. So, why not learn more about your spice rack, and use it to your advantage?

Stay tuned for the next Food Series: Super Foods You Should Include in Your Diet!


Disclosure: All opinions are my own.
Sources: healthandlifesyle.ca and Super Foods by Tonia Reinhard


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Food Series - 1st of 3: Foods that You Should NOT Refrigerate

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


We all do our big weekly grocery shopping which usually turns out to be very chaotic, especially if you're dragging along three kids. While I'm on mat leave, I try to do my shopping with my infant only, while our nanny takes my son to an educational toddler class. But even that turns out to be a disaster every single week. There is something about grocery stores that she doesn't like;). When at work I always dedicated one weekly evening to grocery shopping with my oldest son. I would pick him up from daycare and we'd go grocery shopping. He'd be very excited to put all the fruits and veggies in plastic bags, then into the cart, and learn all their names while packing. It would be a practical and educational experience to look forward. With three kids, the excitement turned into dreading the grocery shopping trips. But, you do what you have to as a busy mama of three!

With bigger families, modern and advanced way of life allowed us to have bigger refrigerators to store more food without worrying about food going bad within 2 days, and dedicating 1 day a week to big grocery shopping trips. However, there are some foods that you should not refrigerate because your food will change flavour.

Here are 15 foods that people refrigerate, but shouldn't:
  1. Tomatoes - Do not store your tomatoes in the fridge because they will lose their flavour. Cold air tends to break down the membranes inside the tomatoes and turns them mealy. I recommend storing your tomatoes in a basket or a glass bowl on the kitchen counter.
  2. Basil - Basil is one of those herbs that easily take on smells of other foods surrounding it. Instead of keeping it in your fridge, try storing it outside in a cup of fresh water.
  3. Potatoes - Potatoes should be stored in a cool, not cold place. Potato starch turns into sugar more quickly if stored in a cold place. Instead, keep your potatoes in a paper bag in a cool and dry place. Don't keep your potatoes in plastic bags as they get less air there.
  4. Garlic - Cold temperatures will make garlic moldy. Keep your garlic in a cool, dry and dark place.
  5. Onions - Cold temperatures will make them moldy. Keep your onions in a cool, dry and dark place.
  6. Avocados - If you want your avocados to ripen, don't put them in the fridge. Otherwise, you can put them in the fridge.
  7. Olive Oil - In colder temperatures olive oil turns into a harder consistency.
  8. Bread - You should keep bread on your kitchen counter instead of the fridge. In the fridge, its flavour will dry out quickly.
  9. Coffee - Coffee will lose its flavour in the fridge, and may take on smells of other foods. 
  10. Honey - There is no need to store honey in the fridge; it may crystalize.
  11. Lemons, Oranges and Limes - Cold air can damage the quality of these fruits; store them on the kitchen counter instead.
  12. Pickles - Pickles are high in preservatives, especially in vinegar, so no need to store them in the fridge. If you want them cold, store them in your fridge door.
  13. Herbs - There is no need to kill the flavour of your freshly bought herbs by placing them in cold temperatures. Instead, put them in a cup of fresh water on your kitchen counter.
  14. Salad Dressings - Oil and vinegar based salad dressing can be stored outside the fridge. Yogurt or mayo based salad dressings should be stored in the fridge.
  15. Ketchup - Even if opened, Ketchup can be kept in the pantry. Ketchup contains large amounts of preservatives and vinegar (which is why you shouldn't be eating it in the first place; we stopped giving it to our kids for this very reason!). Think of those small ketchup packets in fast food restaurants.
Change your eating habits bit by bit for a better and healthier lifestyle.

Stay tuned for the next part of Food Series - Spicing Up Your Life!


Disclosure: All opinions are my own.
Source: 4AllMindsAndBodies.com
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