Local Treasure: Trove

Matt & Nat's Deeter in Citrus

Matt & Nat’s Deeter in Citrus

I don’t really enjoy shopping, unless it’s in a bookstore.  Shopping for clothes leaves me cold, at best, and fills me with frustration, often.  Mostly, shopping for clothes is functional, and usually, I just want to get it over with.

That is, unless, I’m looking at one-of-a-kind, fun and funky things, and then, then, I get in the zone.  The One of A Kind Show always has me captivated, and as much as I want to see other’s creations on me, I revel in their very creativity.

What a delight, then, to have Trove in my neighbourhood.  It’s fun and funky, but not so out there that a forty-something like me can’t find something that fits her to a T.  They carry Matt & Nat’s vegan leather bags, a serious weakness for this shop-wary soul.  They have the best shoes, and I always struggle to limit myself to one pair, and this from a woman who prides herself on her very disdain for shoes and spends money on books while chanting, “At least it’s not shoes, at least it’s not shoes, at least it’s not shoes.”  They have unique jewellery whose relevance will last past the next issue of the fashion magazines.  They have statement pieces of clothing, shoes, bags and jewellery that make a statement other than, “I will expire by midnight.”

Mimi & Marge Antler Ring

Mimi & Marge Antler Ring

Somehow, the collections they carry manage to be up-to-the minute but not doomed to be immediately stale.   And the good news is, Trove is expanding and on-line, so now you, too, could be the proud owner of a pair of shoes that speak to your book-loving soul.  Behold!  The Poetic Licence Secret Admirer Boot:

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Aveda Facials: A Treat for the Senses

One of the things I love about Aveda salons is the marvellous array of fragrances that waft through the space.  I can’t get enough of their Shampure products, their candles and their essential oils.  The massage that I get with my hair cuts at Civello on Queen Street is a highlight of the experience because I love the essential oils the stylists use for the head and shoulder massage before they begin the hair cut.  Until last week, though, I had never experienced an Aveda facial.

My facial began with a cup of Aveda tea (more great aromas) and a clipboard.  There was a three-page form to fill out that covered my skincare routines, my general health and my concerns.  Very thorough.  It also asked about previous experiences with facials and asked for positive and negative aspects of those experiences.  I particularly appreciated that detail, because it felt like this would be a step in an on-going process, and that the salon wanted my experience to be optimal.  It was!

avedaAfter I sipped my tea and filled out the form, my aesthetician took me into the treatment room and began with a consultation.  She went over the form and asked some follow-up questions, and then she began the treatment with a sensory journey: I closed my eyes and smelled a variety of Aveda’s Pure-Fume flower and plant essences.  Bliss.  I chose two fragrances that would be used during the treatment, and then got undressed and onto the treatment table.  The room was dimly lit, the table warmed from head to toe, and new age music piped into the room blocked out the sounds from the salon below and the street outside.

The opening ritual of the facial included a quick and soothing massage from scalp to shoulders to arms to feet.   Then she put a hot towel on my face, infused with the fragrance I had chosen, and then cleansed and exfoliated my skin.  The exfoliation is the Aveda version of microdermabrasion, and was gentle but thorough.

Once I was cleansed and scrubbed, the aesthetician covered my eyes with an eye mask and examined my skin under bright light to determine the refinement, massage and treatment options to follow.  While the toner, mask and moisturizing treatments sat on my skin, I got arm and shoulder massages, a wonderful complement to the focus on the face.

Finally, the closing ritual included a gentle stretch and an application of peppermint oil to my back for an uplifting and energizing finish.

My whole body felt refreshed after the facial, and my skin felt smooth, plumped and oh so soft.  I have sensitive skin, but I did not have any reactions to the fragrances in the products.  On the contrary, they were a highlight of the experience.  The products are all plant-based and I really felt like I had done my skin a great service in this multi-step pampering.

One of the best things about my facial is that it was free, and yours could be too!  Every year, Civello salons have a promotion: the amount of money you put on a salon gift card, Civello will match and put on a spa gift card.  Since I know that I will spend a certain amount each year on hair cuts, I get that dollar amount free to spend in the salon.  Until now, I had spent that money on manicures, but I loved this facial so much that I’ll be back for more.

 

Kid Craft: Make Your Own Natural Lip Balm

We discovered Pueblo Science during the Ontario Culture Days events in the fall.  They hosted a Painting with Science event, and the kids and I had so much fun making art and learning about the science behind the ways that colours were made and mixed.

Pueblo Science is all about getting kids interested in science through hands-on experimentation, and what could be more hands-on than making your own lip balm from scratch?  The facilitator I met in the fall told me that they had a recipe up on their blog, but I wasn’t able to find it.  Instead, I surfed around and got a sense of what goes into natural lip balms.  Then I started experimenting.

My husband put a lovely pot of pure shea butter from Little House in the City into my stocking for Christmas, and I’ve been wanting to make lip balm for months, and with the deadline for this post AND Valentine’s Day looming, I finally got it together to make some with Youngest last week.  We decided that pots of lip balm would make great Valentine’s Day favours, so that’s our plan for this year for the Grade 1 and Grade 4 classes my sons are in.  Youngest asked if they could be flavoured like Skittles.  (I have not bought the necessaries for that yet, but I’m thinking that essential oil of orange or lemon would work well.  If you have done this, and you have ideas, let me know!)  For three nights, while his brothers were at hockey, we experimented with different recipes to find the perfect consistency and aroma for our product, and I’m now happy with what we’ve got.

Here’s what we did and what we learned:

Our first attempt taught us how to deal with failure gracefully and with no swear words.  We did pretty well on that front, actually, when our double boiler capsized spilling molten wax into the boiling pot of water.  We did not swear even a tiny bit while we cleaned that sh*t up.  Melting waxes and butters is messy.

Our second attempt taught us that there is a good reason for experimenting in small batches before beginning mass production.  Our first batch was too waxy and hard to apply.  It also did not smell and taste all that great–not bad, but not great– making us realize that there’s a good reason for the scents that get added to beauty products.

Three is the magic number, and we got the recipe almost there with our third attempt.  I used too much honey, making the batch a bit too soft, so the recipe below, from our fourth and final batch, has the perfect proportions.  I also used vanilla extract for flavouring the third time.  That’s not the way to go.  Vanilla extract is suspended in alcohol, which is not only drying, it does not incorporate well with the wax and oils.  If you want to scent your balm, I recommend using an oil.  The fourth trial, I used vanilla oil in a jojoba suspension, and our final product is as delicious as it is nourishing.  I wiped up the spills and rubbed it into my hands and cuticles, and it works wonderfully for those applications, too.

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Nathalie’s Lip Balm Recipe

Ingredients (the amounts in parentheses yielded enough to fill six lip balm tubes)

one part grated beeswax (one teaspoon)

one part honey (one teaspoon)

two parts shea butter (two teaspoons)

two parts jojoba oil (two teaspoons)

a few drops of your favourite edible essential oil (two drops per teaspoon of mixture)

a mother’s patience

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That is one teaspoon of melted beeswax. Almost invisible, but oh so fragrant. My first double boiler capsized while I was looking for a popsicle stick, so this one is over-sized. That is a long toothpick in Youngest’s hand.

 

Materials

You will need a double boiler (after my little glass jam jar capsized, I put a big mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water), a popsicle stick for stirring, and pots or tubes for the balm.  I got my tubes at my local health food store for $o.69 each, and glass pots from Little House in the City for $1.30.  I also washed out some small pots I had half-filled with cosmetic samples for my experimental batches.  I just used a steady hand to pour, but you might also want a glass eye-dropper to fill the lip balm tubes.

Method

Melt the grated beeswax in a (very firmly anchored) double boiler.  Turn off the heat, but keep the beeswax in the double boiler to keep everything warm.  Add the shea butter and jojoba oil.  Once those ingredients are melted and well incorporated, mix in the honey.  Mix well.  Add scented oil last if desired.  Pour into lip balm pots or lip balm tubes.   Allow to set, then put on lids and you’re ready to go!

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The balm setting in the tubes.

 

Some Science

  • beeswax is a solid at room temperature, but becomes liquid when it is warmed
  • oil and water do not mix
  • wax and water do not mix
  • beeswax is occlusive, it seals in moisture and protects lips from becoming dried out by environmental factors (dry air, cold and wind)
  • honey is a humectant, it helps to retain moisture by attracting and absorbing the moisture in the air, and drawing the water vapor beneath the surface
  • jojoba’s chemical structure is similar to human sebum, the oil our bodies produce to waterproof and lubricate the skin
  • shea butter has been in use for thousands of years as a cosmetic for hair and skin, references date back to Ancient Egypt

 

The Nanny State Will Not Solve the Sugar Crisis

Image source: Daily Telegraph

Image source: Daily Telegraph

I went to a school in England that provided milk as a morning snack every day.  Adorable, tiny glass bottles of milk.  Milk that was delivered early and sat unrefrigerated and sometimes went sour before we drank it.  Milk that you had to drink, to the last drop, whether you liked it or not.  Milk that would make your bones strong and give you energy.  Milk that made me gag and want to throw up.  I do not drink milk to this day.  (Unless it’s in a latte, and I’m pretty sure the coffee negates any goodness there.)

There is a teacher at my sons’ school who, at the beginning of the year, inspects all her students’ lunch boxes.  She does this in her classroom before the kids go down to eat lunch in the gym, even though she’s technically off duty for lunch.  She tells them what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, and she tells them that they are not allowed to bring certain foods again (sweetened yogurt and raisins and canned fruit and certain kinds of juice, in addition to the obvious chips and candy).  She means well, but she frightens them into submission, annoying a fair number of parents in the process.

Top-down, mandated menus for snacks and lunch are not the answer to the over-abundance of sugar in children’s diets or to promoting healthy eating.  The nanny state will only produce rebellious citizens, both adult and child.

Here’s what should happen:

  • Get kids to teach themselves (and their parents) good nutrition.  At the beginning of the year, a note should go home to parents from teachers saying that the kids and the school are working together to establish healthy eating habits.  The kids have learned in class how to build a balanced meal, they have a list of foods from each food group from which to choose, and they have a say in how to build the lunch.  They can grade their own lunches from poor to excellent, and the goal is to pack and eat excellent lunches in order to grow excellent learners.  Make age-appropriate lessons about the relative costs of fresh and processed food part of the curriculum.  Teach them why junk is so cheap and so plentiful.  It has to start with the kids, it has to be collaborative, and it has to have a pay-off.  It was kids who made our school’s litterless lunch policy.  I’m confident they could also lead the charge on ramping up the health value.  Who knows?  Parents may even be able to take one item off the to do list if the kids plan and pack their own lunches.  Let the kids tell their parents that the yogurt they think is healthy is actually full of sugar.  Trust them to make healthy choices and reward them with a gold star when they do.  Eventually, you won’t need the gold stars.

 

  • Add lots and lots and lots of extracurricular sports to the beginning of the school day.  Get kids to school an hour early to play soccer, run track, skip rope, dance, do yoga, run the bases or shoot hoops.  Give gym teachers the resources they need to offer those hours of exercise so that the kids can think better all day long.   Let them build up a real hunger and let them satisfy it with real food: an apple, say, and enough time at morning recess to eat it and play, too.  Study after study has shown that exercise makes for better thinking, but schools are cutting recess and gym times.  It defies logic.  When there’s no time to run around, sugar is not the only enemy.

 

  • Stop rushing kids through lunch.  My kids never finish their lunches and are often starving by the end of the day.  I don’t pack junk, but inevitably, it’s the “main course” that’s left in the lunch box at the end of the day because that’s what takes the longest to eat.  My kids will often get through the day on only the portions of fruit and veg that I pack because that’s what easiest to wolf down.  Hungry kids will make poor choices later in the day, but my kids don’t have time to eat even the healthy foods I pack because they are in such a rush to get outside to play.  They know that they feel better after having a really good run around the playground.  Honour that and give it to them without taking lunch time out of the play time allowance.

 

Fitbit Fever

fitbitI love, love, love my Fitbit.

What does my Fitbit do?  Well, I wear it on my wrist and it counts my steps (minimum 15,000 a day).  But that’s not all it does.  It gets me out and active every day.  It takes me on super-long walks several times a week (10-15k).  During those walks, I listen to podcasts of everything from NPR’s Serial (addictive!!) to The Guardian’s books podcast to A History of the World in 100 Objects from the BBC to Quirks and Quarks form the CBC.  So, my fitbit keeps me up to date and learning about books, history, science and culture.  It takes me on new routes to keep things fresh, so I’m discovering new areas of the city.  My walks have spurred a love of making photographs, and I aim to get one good shot from each good walk.  (I post them to our Instagram account or you can see the current one from the sidebar of the blog’s website.)  My Fitbit makes me stretch, because after walking 10k, you just have to stretch.  It has helped me lose 15 lbs since the end of the summer.  Not a rapid rate of weight loss, but steady and, oh so importantly, enjoyable.  There is no overcoming resistance to go out for long walks, not even in winter weather.  It has taught me that I need extrinsic motivation to succeed, and being accountable for my daily 15,000 steps has been a fun and inspiring goal.  I just love, love, love my Fitbit.

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My Fitbit was a gift from my husband from way back last spring (Mother’s Day).  I was so excited to get it because I’d been grilling a friend about hers and how it has helped her get strong and fit.  Ted heard how animated I was and surprised me with one.  Then, sadly, I let it sit in its box because I could not find the energy to figure out how to hook it up to the computer.  Oh, what wasted months!  When I finally set it up in September (my new year), it took all of 30 seconds.  Seriously.  So if you are a technophobe, fear no more.  It really could not be simpler.

The Fitbit bracelet counts steps, but the dashboard to which it connects on on your phone and/or computer can also help you track what you eat and how much you sleep.  (My fitbit thinks I sleep a lot more than I do because I read in bed for a few hours most nights.  My Fitbit probably thinks I’m a very big cat, actually.)  I have found tracking what I eat to be really helpful, mostly because it makes me realize that snacks and after-dinner nibbles really do add up.  Again, it drives home how much I rely on extrinsic motivation to succeed.  Seeing a list out there and up on my computer screen of what I put into my body helps me pay closer attention to that body.  Some people are good at just listening to their bodies; I’m not one of them.

If you are media social, your Fitbit can talk to Facebook and to friends.  My Fitbit and I keep to ourselves, pretty much, and that’s how I like it.

I think that’s the magic of this thing: it’s customizable and personal.  When we sat down in September to plan our themes for the upcoming months, we each decided to try a new fitness class or activity.  I hemmed and hawed about trying lots of new-to-me things, but I really could not get excited about any of them.  Walking fits for me; it’s what I love, and I am so grateful to have such a simple and effective tool to remind me to do what I love each and every day.

Buy a Fitbit from Indigo here.

 

Best of the Blogosphere January 2015

Baby, it’s cold out there! What better way to kill a few hours than cuddled up near the fire with the Internet? (Actually, there are many other better ways, but then that wouldn’t make for a good intro to this post.)

Here’s what has caught our attention on the blogosphere.

Nathalie

Roseanne at The Lunchbox Season also wrote a word of the year post.  Check it out.  Defining Motherhood did an interesting take and chose three words.  She has me thinking about “year”.  And Carrie, our inspiration for our week of posts on our words of the year, has chosen her word for 2015.

Children+s Fashion 1961: Toddler wearing and all-in-one playsuit and red shoes, holds a ball in both hands, while being followed by a small toy cow.OK, this is hilarious.  You’ve seen the 40 Under 40 lists, right?  Here’s the 3 Under 3 list!  Overachieving parents, listen to yourselves!!

Every year, we collect the funny things our kids say and send it out as our holiday letter.  This dad takes it one step beyond, into seriously awesome territory, by illustrating his daughter’s humorous quotations.  Check out Spaghetti Toes for some great laughs.  You can also shop his Etsy shop if you want a print of your very own.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, or your special drink of choice and settle in for a great new year’s read with this blog post from Girl’s Gone Child.  It’s a lovely piece on travel, choices and taking the chance to let chance spin its magic. Thanks to Kerry Clare on twitter @kcpicklemethis for pointing me in her direction.

Also, thanks to Kerry, who should maybe add internet curator to her list of talents, I disappeared down the rabbit hole of all the great posts on The Ugly Volvo, having gotten there because of a post on all the things wrong with Goodnight Moon.  Hilarious.  So is the Knuffle Bunny post.  (I can’t link to it for some reason.  I hope you can link to it from her home page.  It’s really, really good stuff.)  She also gives really good advice written on bananas.

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Beth-Anne

Have you ever forced your kids to say “I’m sorry” and the result is a pitiful, insincere mumble?  Here’s how to teach kids the right way to apologize.  I’m loving this and have already started doing it (to the chagrin of my boys) with success.

One of the questions I am most asked by friends with 2 children is, should I go for the third?  That’s like asking me, should I tattoo my forehead?  It’s a life long commitment and it ain’t for me to say.  But I will say this . . . remember before you had your first baby and you thought that you knew everything and that life would go along swimmingly except now you’d have a baby Bjorn-ed to your body?  And then that baby came and upended your life to the point when going to the washroom alone was a massive accomplishment?  A third baby is kinda like that but times 100.  Here’s what Shannon Meyerhort from Scary Mommy has to say on the topic, and I think she nailed it.

Hear ye!  Hear ye!  A new parenting study has been released and you must read about it!

And for all of us not on a diet this month, don’t these coconut chocolate tartlets from lark & linen look sinful and oh-so-perfect while sitting on the couch, in front of the fire, surfing the Internet?

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Did You Resolve to Have More Sex? Sex Tips and Facts from Carol Anne Austin, Sex Therapist.

logoBefore the holidays, I had a chance to attend  What Mama Didn’t Tell Us, a panel presentation hosted by The Purple Fig It was a fabulously fun night of presentations and Q&A sessions about sex and pelvic health, featuring, among others, Carol Anne Austin, a sex expert and therapist at KMA Therapy.  She was a wonderfully funny and engaging speaker, and I felt that she really got the crowd: mothers, rookie and veteran, who were keen to get her tips on how to keep the spark alive with their partners.  Here is a distilled list of her best tips and facts.

1.  The research is really clear: sexual satisfaction is highly correlated to effective communication.  Talk about what’s working and what isn’t.

2.  The most common problem she sees in her clients is a drop in libido as people age or are in long-term relationships.

3.  The lower desire partner is much more likely to rush foreplay and initiate intercourse faster.   There’s a “get it over with” attitude.

4.  There is a circle of low desire: my partner wants to have sex; I don’t but I feel like I should; I’m not aroused before or during sex; I’m not that satisfied by the sex; I have a memory of having sex for someone else and not for me; sex becomes about someone else’s needs and satisfaction; I’m less likely to initiate or to feel like having sex again soon.

5.  To break that cycle, you need to find a way to bring something for you back into the sex.   Ask yourself what was going on when the sex was good?  Do that.

6.  There is no normal when it comes to the frequency of sex.  Frequency is a totally unreliable indicator of sexual satisfaction. Much more important is to emphasize quality over quantity.

7.  If you make time for yourself, you will have the energy for your partner.  Schedule time for yourself.

8.  Schedule time for your relationship.  Put it on the calendar!

9.  Shake up the script of sex before bed and sleep.  Find a time of day when you have more energy.

10.  A healthy active sexual relationship with yourself correlates directly to a healthy active sexual relationship with your partner.  (A woman asked, “What if I get addicted to my vibrator?”  Answer: she has never heard of that happening.  Using a vibrator is far more likely to improve your sex with your partner than to become an addiction.)

11.  Menopause is a challenging time for your sexual relationship.  To stay engaged in sex during a hot flash, switch up the order of kiss, foreplay, penetration and orgasm.  If it’s not a one way street then you can take a break.

12.  During menopause, intercourse can become painful because the change in hormones causes a drop in natural vaginal lubrication.  Use a lube.  BUT be careful and keep an eye out for glycerine in the list of ingredients.  Glycerine is a sugar and can affect the growth of yeast and cause a yeast infection.

Talking Physical Literacy for Kids with Jay Tredway, Athletic Director at Ridley College

As we all know, there is more to a child’s education than what they are taught in the classroom – it is also about preparing them to live a healthy, successful life. Key to that is ensuring physical fitness is a core piece of their school day.

Jay Tredway

Jay Tredway

Jay Tredway, the Athletic Director at Ridley College, takes “physical literacy” seriously. The St. Catharines, Ont.,-based independent school has developed a Sport for Life program to promote physical activity among its students.

Ridley’s physical literacy effort includes an assessment of students from Grades 3 to 11 to establish a baseline for their physical literacy, measuring fitness and movement skills, a Zero Hour Fitness program creating opportunities for students to be physically active before school, and Teaching Games for Understanding, which puts a focus on skill development for students participating in team sports.

Jay will be speaking at The Canadian Sport for Life National Summit in Gatineau, Que., at the end of January, and I had a chance to ask him some questions about educating children about physical literacy.

Jay has kindly offered to answer any questions that you might have.  Just ask away in the comments section, and he will respond.

What is “physical literacy”?

Physical and Health Education Canada defines physically literate people as “Individuals who … move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” The key is the development of fundamental movement skills like running, jumping, throwing, catching and striking that give kids the confidence to play and keep experimenting and trying new things.

What was your inspiration for starting the programme? 

When I became the Director of Athletics at Ridley in 2008, I took over a program that was very active. The opportunity that we saw was the ability to serve better what we termed at the time the “recreational” population of the school: the students who did not really feel like sport was their thing or were not talented enough to make any of the competitive teams. The first thing we tried to do was broaden the program and expand the offerings by adding things like sailing and golf and ultimate frisbee. Formally termed “League Sports,” the first year of this new Sport For Life initiative saw participation rates increase and many more students became significantly more active daily. In the following year, I was first introduced to a national movement serendipitously called Canadian Sport For Life. With the support of Sport Canada and other non-governmental agencies, this movement to improve the quality of sport across the country had developed an annual National Summit in Ottawa, Ontario.  I was there in 2010 to learn about Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) plan and witness CS4L make their first pitch for Physical Literacy. All of a sudden, I had a language to explain many of the things we held dear at Ridley but had been unable to articulate or build on. I also came to see just how dangerous our sedentary lifestyles had become, how they create a burgeoning crisis for the Canadian health care system. Now, we see it as our great privilege and opportunity to provide an example to the nation of how physical literacy and daily physical activity can be built into the elementary and secondary school system to serve the mental, physical and social development of our school-aged population.  From our point of view, the more healthy, capable and knowledgeable students we all graduate, the healthier, more capable and more productive Canada will be. We want to contribute to finding a sustainable way of meeting that goal in our 21st-century society.

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How have you put the Sport for Life programme into place at your school?

From its founding in 1889, Ridley has always believed in daily physical activity. So, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, every student in the school is engaged in a minimum of one hour of sport at either the recreational or competitive level. We have three sport seasons and over the course of the year more than 80% of the school plays on a competitive team. At any given time, however, 40% of the school is in the Sport For Life programme. Our current incarnation provides students with a core sport or game that they play three times a week that is then supplemented with other games or fitness classes on the other two days. The students rotate through these offerings each week. At the beginning of each term, the students that do not make a competitive team get to choose the rotation that they would like to be a part of and we sort them into groups of 10-12. This winter the sport offerings include, curling, badminton, futsal, dance, yoga, spin, suspension training, core fitness and Zumba.

What has the response been from students and parents?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. At the beginning of each term we have students who are forced a little out of their comfort zone in activities that they do not have any experience with. By and large, once they have had a chance to try these new activities and become accustomed to them, they really enjoy them. The parents really like the diversity of the offerings and appreciate that we are trying to expose the students to different sports that they could very well play for life.

How about the response from other teachers? 

The Faculty have been extremely supportive of this initiative. At Ridley, all of the teachers coach athletic teams, and the Sport For Life program is where a number of them get to build relationships and even participate with the students in the various activities.

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Do kids perform and behave better in the classroom after the Zero Hour?

We are going to find out. A tremendous amount of research has been done by Dr. John Ratey and his colleague on the significance of physical activity and its positive influence on learning and memory. This is why daily physical activity is so crucial in the Ridley experience, but we don’t normally do sport before school starts. We will be starting our first research project with this Zero Hour or “First Thing” fitness in January 2015. The science says that physical activity prior to learning enhances the productivity of the brain providing the students with better attention and ability to focus and stay on task. We will see if this holds true for the boys and girls at Ridley. If it does (as I suspect it will) it will encourage us to continue to consider alternative ways to maximize the physical activity effect throughout the school day.

How can parents supplement or complement what you do with their kids at home?

One of the best tools that has been developed for physical literacy in the last two years is the Passport For Life by Physical and Health Education Canada. These are assessment tools the Physical Education teachers and coaches can use to create a profile of a student’s physical literacy. The assessments are not used for marks but provide a picture of students’ physical abilities and deficiencies.  The results are totally individual. The feedback that these tools provide allows teachers to modify their instruction to address deficiencies or provide varied levels of difficulty for students as they are developing their fundamental skills. These assessments are online and students and parents have access to their child’s data. PHE Canada has also developed a great range of tools for parents to help them plan activities or make suggestions on what sports to get their children involved in to support their specific child’s physical literacy needs.

We have just completed our baseline testing with the Passport tool this October with all students from grade 3 to grade 11. The data were very interesting and really gave us some clear areas to focus on as a teaching/coaching team. The students also enjoy the feedback and no doubt it is a motivator to see if they can move up to the next level when we assess them again in the spring.

How do you create life-long physical literacy? 

The million dollar question! It comes back to confidence and competence. If we develop basic competencies in children and they build the confidence to participate in sport no matter what it is or what environment it is in, we go a long way to building individuals who are not afraid to try new things or think they are going to look silly in front of others. That resilience and those skills built early in life create the fertile ground for life-long physical literacy.

Is the motivation intrinsic or extrinsic?  Are you providing the kids with reward incentives to be active, or are you teaching them how to pay attention to the benefits of being active?

It needs to be both for maximum success. You want the intrinsic motivation to be based on the right information: an understanding of healthy calorie intake and burn, knowing what movement skills you can improve on the most and the right amount of sleep to make your body work efficiently.  All of these things contribute to your intrinsic push to improve your physical literacy. The extrinsic motivation is also very useful during those periods where even self-starters get a little haggard. Being surrounded by a community of people who are motivated to stay healthy and vibrant allows them to pick you up when you need a boost and you will be able to return the favour. This positive re-enforcement circle lifts everyone in the group to sustainable levels of wellness.

How can you help send kids out into the world who will continue to pay attention to their health and fitness after they have left the structures of home and school?

We work to do this by building a framework that they can fall back on. It has been our experience that students that have spent their formative years at Ridley use the tools they build in our relatively structured environment to help them find their path once they are truly on their own. Physical activity and a healthy, active lifestyle are a part of what we try to impart and teach everyday of their lives here. It is a facet of education, just like learning math and science. If we have done our jobs, just as their passion in language or technology pushes them to develop skill sets that will help them build a professional career, they will continue to want to learn and improve their knowledge and skills around personal wellness.

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Dining Out? Dine Healthy with Zomato

zomatoThis week, I had the pleasure of meeting Jimena Duran from Zomato, a new digital presence in the Toronto dining scene.  She walked me through some of the features of the site while I sipped a latte and tried to control my mouth-watering reactions to the restaurant reviews she highlighted.  I left our meeting buzzing with caffeine and enthusiasm for the foodie network, and eager to explore its offerings.

Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant discovery platform and social food network for foodies.   The staff for each city in which Zomato operates (currently 113 worldwide) go in person to each and every restaurant to collect menus, verify opening hours, and collect all the pertinent information for each restaurant, which gets uploaded to their database.

Then Zomato users take their turn.  You can browse the website or download the Zomato app to choose a place to dine out based on neighbourhood, cuisine or establishment.  Other users rate and review restaurants, and you can follow users whose reviews resonate with you.  Once you create a profile, you can publish reviews of the places you have dined, create a record of your food journey by tagging the places you’ve been to, and bookmark the places to like to check out next.

And one of the handy dandy collections is Healthy Eating.  So you can have your (tasty rice) cake and eat it, too.

Look us up!  4mothers1blog has a profile on Zomato and we’ll be adding our reviews too.

Potted Potter: A Great Dose of Fun

posterOur posts for January are about health, and if laughter is the best medicine, you can get yourself a great dose of fun by going along to see Potted Potter.  You will have to hurry, though; the show is in its last week for its run in Toronto.

Beth-Anne, Carol and I took our boys to see the show in December, and I have to tell you that it was one of the highlights of my lead-up to Christmas.  “Attend” is my word of the year for 2015, but of course, I had had the word in mind for a while before writing about it for the blog.  Writing this blog has brought us many wonderful things, including friendships for which I am eternally grateful, but another thing I’m grateful for is Opportunity.  We are invited to interesting events and occasions, and I will be honest and tell you that I weigh each and every invitation very carefully.  It takes a lot to get me out of my routine and my happy place (pajamas, bed, book).  When the opportunity came to see Potted Potter smack dab in the middle of the chaos that characterizes the weeks in mid-December, I thought long and hard about accepting; I think we all did.  Like you, we all had a lot on our plates, but I wanted to get an early start on my word of the year, and I chose to attend.

I’m so glad I did.  It was such a gift to witness not only my nine year old’s belly laughs, but Carol’s and Beth-Anne’s too!  We all had a hoot, and you really do not have to be a Harry Potter expert to enjoy the show.

The premise of the show is that two actors act out all seven books in the Harry Potter series in 70 minutes.  It’s a fast-paced physical comedy that brings into play humour both broad and subtle.  There’s a straight man and a funny man, there is a wild and wacky frenzy as the two attempt to act out as many of the major roles as possible.  Unexpected costumes, props and choreography add much to the fun.  There are jokes pitched high and low, and the actors appeared to improvise references to everything from Frozen to Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade and disastrous Mayor Ford.  The jokes come at you a mile a minute, and while the kids are still laughing at the ones pitched to them, the adults are laughing at the subsequent allusions pitched to them.  There is even audience participation, as members of the audience are invited to participate in a Quidditch game, while two kids get invited up onto the stage.

Before the show, you can order a butter beer from the bar (the recipe is secret, but they will alert you to possible allergens).  The lobby and the sidewalk outside the Panasonic Theatre are quite small, and it felt very crowded very quickly, so you’d be well advised to arrive and take your seats early.   It’s just steps from the subway, so getting there and home was a breeze for those of us on the TTC.  Parking was not easy to find, so, again, arrive early to give yourself wiggle room.

I had one very special night with Middlest, and we went out for dinner after the show, just the two of us, and it felt like just the right way to kick off the winter holiday.  It would also be a great way to kick off the new year.  Here’s to attending!

Potted Potter is at the Panasonic Theater, 651 Yonge Street.  It runs until January 11, 2015.

You can get tickets here.