Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Yummy Dinner Ideas with Yves Veggie

In our house, a staple meal is the trendy Buddha Bowl. It’s pretty safe to say that my husband and I eat one of these delicious healthy concoctions at least 2-3x a week.

It’s so easy and you can get super creative – all you need is a carb, such as brown rice or quinoa, some veggies, some cheese if you prefer, and a protein. We experiment and get fancy with new ideas from Pinterest, such as making the Thai Peanut Buddha Bowl (rice noodles, satay chicken, lots of green onion, carrots and bean sprouts, and a touch of cilantro to finish – YUM!!), or our staple favorite of Mexican, which involves a delicious combo of rice, black beans, corn, avocado, salsa and sour cream…and of course, my favorite…Cilantro!

I will admit thought that we were having trouble coming up with creative ideas for protein for our Buddha bowls. We like chicken, we use lots of legumes, and once in a while we’ll add tofu. We’re not vegetarian by any means - maybe more of a pescatarian type that still eats poultry – but we don’t really enjoy red meat. Nevertheless, it can get boring with the same old thing.

So it was very exciting when I received some delicious Yves vegan/vegetarian products to review – particularly the Falafel balls and the Kale and Quinoa bites. These both look like little meatballs, which excited me because my two kids LOVE meatballs, and I was certain I would be able to convince them that they would be delicious. They’re super easy to cook too – I spread them out on a baking sheet and baked them for 12 minutes on 400 degrees F.

I chopped them all in half, spread them over my Buddha Bowl, and dug in…to my delight, they were absolutely delicious. The falafel tasted garlicy, with lots of hints of cumin and coriander. I slathered my bowl with tzatziki and polished off half the bowl before I was nice and full. The kale and quinoa bites were just as good – moist and savory. I was pleasantly surprised. My children preferred the kale and quinoa to the falafel, but the fact that they ate them at all was quite an accomplishment, as they tend to be quite picky.

Overall, these bites were a great success and I’d definitely buy them again. When I pulled them out of the oven, they looked a bit dried out. Even though they tasted great, I think I would try a different method of cooking next time – perhaps steaming them quickly and then pan frying them in olive oil to give them less of a dry texture. I can’t wait to try the Yves Veggie Ground Round -  I’m going to make this delicious Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie recipe with it!

Monday, March 20, 2017

How the Cost of Raising Kids Impacts Us

Can you afford to have (or more) children?  This is one of the biggest challenges couples thinking of starting a family are facing, and many Canadians are delaying starting families, deciding not to have children or choosing to have only one child due to cost.

From skyrocketing housing costs, to huge daycare fees (which are similar to one month’s rent in some cities), raising a child in Canada is expensive.

“We wanted to have three or four children, but we can’t because of the cost of child care,” said Gillian Bright. “We struggled a great deal with the expenses of childcare, which is just so overwhelming that it has kind of drowned everything else.”

The combination of struggling to pay for child care and challenges with employment and income have made it exponentially harder for Gillian to finish her PhD and get into the workforce.

According to an analysis by MoneySense magazine in 2015, the annual cost of raising a child in Canada is approximately $13,366 (averaged out over the course of the first 18 years of a child’s life). Parents spend the most money on child care, food and general household costs. Monthly day care fees cost the most in Toronto at an average of $1,150, while they cost an average of $905 a month in Vancouver, according to a 2016 report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

While the cost of living is rising, salaries are not. According to the GenSqueeze, two income earners bring home what one income earner did in the 1970s, and Canadians need three times as long to save for a down payment for a house.

If there are fewer children being born due to the cost of housing and child care, then there are fewer people paying taxes and contributing to the social safety net.

“If families are choosing not to have children because they can’t afford care or they can’t find care, that’s going to come back to us as a society,” Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family, told The Globe and Mail.

Coping with the stress of child care is one of the biggest challenges families, like the Bright family, face in BC. Gillian Bright is one of the approximately 3,000 people who filled out the BC Council for Families’ second Let’s Talk Families BC! survey in the summer of 2014. Many respondents echoed Gillian’s sentiments with 25% indicating that child care was one of the biggest issues their family struggled with. The only issue that trumped child care was income, with 35% of respondents saying they frequently faced income challenges.

Ruby Banga is the Provincial Coordinator of the Nobody's Perfect Parenting and the My Tween and Me Programs in BC. She has worked in the non-profit sector for over 20 years. Ruby believes that parenting education and support makes a difference for families; and that although it can be super challenging, being a parent is also very rewarding and the most important job there is!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Reading Starts Early: Books for Toddlers

Learning to share can be hard, and with good reason - giving a beloved object to another person with no guarantee that you’ll ever see it again can be a daunting prospect for anyone, let alone a two or three-year-old child!  Toddlers are just beginning to explore cooperative play, and sharing is a skill that takes years to develop and fully master.

Picture books about sharing can be a great way to start positive conversations with little ones, and can help make the learning process more enjoyable for toddlers and their grownups alike. Endearing characters can model positive behaviors, and their stories can help children work through their fears and emotions around sharing in supportive ways. With simple plots, adorable illustrations and limited, toddler-friendly text, these picture books might just help make mastering sharing a bit more fun for everyone involved!

I Can Share by Karen Katz
This simple lift-the-flap book is a perfect introduction to sharing for even the littlest readers. Bright, colourful and charming, and featuring Katz’s signature happy little toddlers, I Can Share is a lovely way to initiate conversations about sharing and playing collaboratively in a warm and positive way.

Blocks by Irene Dickson
Ruby plays with red blocks. Benji plays with blue blocks. But as Benji and Ruby discover, sharing and playing collaboratively can actually mean having twice the blocks and twice the fun! Not only is the story relatable and approachable, the illustrations are wonderfully diverse, too!

Pigs and a Blanket by James Burks 
Siblings Henry and Henrietta love their special blanket, but they don’t love to share. When they accidently rip their beloved blanket in two because they won’t share, Henry and Henrietta discover that playing collaboratively is actually much more fun than keeping something all to yourself! This is great story for little ones learning to share with siblings.

It’s Mine by Tracey Corderoy
Baby Bear doesn’t want to share his favourite toy with Lulu when she comes to visit! But with a little help from Mummy, Baby Bear learns that sharing can actually be a lot of fun. This absolutely adorable book not only has the sweetest, most toddler-friendly illustrations, it’s also softly textured, which adds another fun sensory element.

Jane Whittingham is a librarian, educator and life-long book lover who writes about books for all ages on her blog www.raincitylibrarian.ca

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Celebrity Mom: The Weather Network's Saphia Khambalia

Saphia Khambalia has been welcomed into thousands of Canadian homes from coast to coast. They rely on her to tell them what jacket to wear and if they should grab their umbrella as they head out the front door. Khambalia is a National Weather Anchor for The Weather Network. She is also mom to Jacob, age two and daughter Layla, who was born May 15th, 2016.

Khambalia says the weather is the one thing that touches all our lives every single day and it’s pretty cool to be able to share that with Canadians. “Nothing compares to Canada’s weather. From coast to coast, there is an incredible story to be told and I am so lucky to tell it to viewers across the country every single day.”

Urbanbaby and Toddler Magazine recently got the chance to talk with Saphia about her broadcasting career and life as a busy mom.

UBT:  How do you balance work and parenting?
SK: There is no balance. There is no perfect recipe. There is no “one size fits all. Things change day by day. You have to make a semblance of life that works best for you so you can honour all of those priorities and easily shift from spending time at home in your track pants building LEGO castles to making sure you have the village behind you, so you can continue your career path. And you want to make sure your kids are happy and healthy at the same time. I honestly think it comes down to just trying to live in the moment and stay grounded. There is no right and wrong. There is no balance. There is no comparison to somebody else. It is really about looking at your own life and really doing what makes you love every single second.

UBT: Is there one moment you can say that has been the most memorable one for you as a mom?
SK: It is a hundred thousand little moments. Every minute of every day you are just in awe about these little people with bigger-than-life personalities. Jacob is sweet and funny and has the biggest heart. Layla, is a gentle sweet soul with strong conviction. It is like a gift watching them every day.

UBT: Do you have any funny stories to share? 
SK: One day Jacob helped me get ready for work. I didn’t realize he had taken things out of my work bag including all of my reporter earpieces, little microphones and little technological gadgets needed to go live when out in the field. Jacob took them out of my bag replacing them with his LEGO and Elmo. And he actually hid my stuff around the house.

UBT: What is it like sharing your pregnancy with a television audience?
SK: A lot of viewers commented on social media and loved watching the pregnancy day by day. It’s so special being able to share such a beautiful moment with a lot of people who really care. When you talk about your kids on television, viewers really get to know you in a special way.

UBT: What advice would you have for a new or soon-to-be parent? 
SK: Trust your gut. I think you should rely on your instincts when you are really unsure of where to go. As parents, when we follow our instincts, we will always know what to do. Trust your gut with no regrets, because there’s always a different way to do things, and in that moment, you did the best you could.

UBT: Do you think being a mom has changed your perspective on your career path and being in the spotlight? 
SK: The minute you get propelled into that deep end of love,  everything changes. In some ways it makes your career skills stronger. You grow up a little bit quicker. You know what is important in life. You learn not to sweat the small stuff in so many different ways, which I think helps your career path as well. It also helps you realize you don’t have an infinite amount of time and energy to spend, so you really pick and choose the things that make your day great. You learn to really prioritize the important stuff.

Monday, February 27, 2017

UBT: Packing an Emergency/Earthquake Kit

With the recent earthquakes to hit BC last week we thought it was good idea to repost our most popular blog featured after the wind storms in 2015. We've added below where you can purchase a ready-to-go emergercy kit, dried food and extra supplies if you don't have time to make your own. 

With the largest power outage in BC Hydro’s history last week, many were left without power for 48 hours or longer. I heard stories of dead cell phones, spoiled food in the fridge and freezer and many people traveling to places with power to eat or hang out. People were going to local gas stations to get gas for their generators, only to find the gas stations were also without power and unable to pump fuel.

If a devastating event such as a large earthquake was to hit the South Coast, and car travel was not possible, nor was tap water or creek water drinkable, how many of us would find our families and ourselves in trouble?

Here is a list of basic necessities for any emergency kit

  • Water for 72 hours (2 liters per person per day is recommended)
  • Food for 72 hours (we like dehydrated food. It is light and only requires boiling water to cook it)
  • Can opener if you have canned food
  •  Toilet paper, tampons/pads
  • First aid kit
  • Money (we have $50 in $5 bills. With technology unavailable, cash will be the only option. Change for pay phones is also recommended)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery operated radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Candles and matches

Some not-so common items for families and extra supplies

  • Pot and stove to cook
  • Plates and utensils
  • Spare house key
  • Baby food and a spoon
  • A Tin of Formula
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Spare clothing for all members of the family
  • A baby carrier
  • Paper and pencil
  • A deck of cards / puzzle
  • Blankets / coats / sleeping bags
  • Dog / cat food
  • Rope / leash / harness / carrier
  • Bowl for water
  • Duct tape
  • Basic tools such as hammer, pliers
  • Rope
  • Whistle
  • Garbage bags
  • Prescription medication

Where put your emergency kit? There are lots of opinions about this, so I can only share my own. My emergency kit sits in the top of the closet in two bins. The closet is closest to the front door and the garage. There is also a backpack in there. Should we need to leave the house we could put the supplies into the backpack or into the trunk of the car.

I think that it is likely that in a disaster, we will be able to stay in our homes. But if there is a gas leak, or a flood, fire, or other damage to any of our homes, we need to be prepared to exit. With lots of time to prepare, we could empty our pantry and pack our bags, but sometimes that is not going to be an option. An emergency kit should be easy to grab and carry. A good suggestion is to put it into an old suitcase.

While everyone has their own level of comfort for what to pack and what supplies are essential and what are optional, this list should give you something to think about when preparing your own kit. If you are feeling overwhelmed, start with a case of water. Throw it in the closet. You have done something! Something is better than nothing!

Where to purchase an emergency/earthquake kit? 

  • Pacific First Aid: Vancouver, BC - Offering training and emergency supplies www.pacificfirstaid.ca
  • Quake Kits: Victoria, BC - supplier of earthquake kits for home, office and schools. www.quakekit.ca
  • Earthquake Kits for BC: supplier of earthquake kits for all residents of BC www.earthquakekits.ca
  • Costco, Online Only 
  • Total Prepare: Victoria, BC - suppllier of freeze dried and dehydrated emergency food, 72 Hour emergency survival kits, water storage and filtration and more

Lindsay is a wife, a mom to two little boys, a soccer player, a lifetime traveler and a lover of learning. Lindsay resides in Langley and is currently searching out new ways to enjoy every minute she can with her family, while balancing the pressures of living in our fast-paced society. Check out Lindsay’s blog at www.carpediemourway.com

Saturday, February 25, 2017

How to Teach Your Child to Blow Their Nose

When you become a parent, you quickly learn that you take many skills for granted that you’re now responsible for teaching your little one. Something as simple as knowing how to blow your nose seems like an easy task for an adult, but it can be as complicated as learning a foreign language for a toddler. Yes – you’ll even need to teach your kids how to blow their nose.

Start trying to explain exactly how this task is executed, and you’ll quickly find yourself overly frustrated and dealing with a distracted and cranky child that never wants a tissue near his or her nose again.

Rather than creating an uphill battle for yourself, we’ve created a list of tried and true tips from parenting veterans that you can use to teach your child how to blow their nose.

Ditch the Tissue
It’s best to take teaching nose blowing in phases. Rather than overwhelming your child with a tissue in his face, capitalize on other opportunities to familiarize your child with blowing air through the nose.

Make it a game by seeing who can blow a feather across the table fastest – using only your nose.

Take Advantage of Bath Time
Bath time is a prime time to introduce your children to the idea of what it feels like to blow air through their nose and how to do it on demand.

Have your child put his nose just below the surface of the water and blow bubbles using only the nose.

Use a Mirror
While you might know that blowing your nose causes something to happen, it can be a hard concept for children to grasp. They may not know that a sneeze makes it easier for them to breathe and that something actually comes out of their nose when it’s blown.

Have your child stand in front of the mirror the next time she has a stuffy nose, and although it may be gross, have her blow until she can see the mucus coming out.

Set Up a Racetrack
Another way to make learning to blow air out of the nose fun is to set up a simple racetrack on your kitchen table.

Create a start and finish line, and line up two lightweight objects like a sequin, the corner of a piece of paper or a feather. Have your child position her face level with the table; you do the same; and then race to see who can blow their object across the finish line, using only your noses.

Make it Their Responsibility
Just like learning how to tie shoelaces is an accomplishment children look forward to conquering, mastering nose blowing can make your child feel just as important if you set it up properly.

Give your child his or her very own pack of Boogie Wipes to use whenever they need to blow their nose. Unlike other wipes, Boogie Wipes have no harsh or drying chemicals. The natural saline dissolves mucus without irritation – thanks to Vitamin E, Aloe and Chamomile. Even better? Boogie Wipes contain no alcohol, no chlorine, no parabens and no phthalates. Click here to learn more about the power of natural saline.

Article courtesy of Boogie Wipes

Contest: Enter to win at www.urbanbaby.ca 1 of 3 Boogie Wipes Gift Package valued at $25.00.  Good Luck! Contest closes Friday, March 24th , 2017.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Easy Goodie Bag Alternative: Caramel Apples!

It was recently my daughter’s 6th birthday and I had all the details of her party ironed out. The cake was ordered, the games planned, the decoration organized – everything was good to go, except one minor detail:


Ah, the dreaded goodie bags - A plastic baggie full of candy and junk plastic that ends up inducing a sugar high moment of mania, and mere seconds playtime with a kazoo or balloon before being tossed into the landfill. Let’s not mention the amount of money that we spend on these things!!! It’s pure insanity.

There had to be a better way, right?

I was inspired by a girlfriend to do exactly this – find a better way. And that better way was the ingenious idea of making CARAMEL APPLES for the party favours. What a win-win-win situation!! It’s a project that I can engage my kids into, it consists of a somewhat healthy alternative, and it’s inexpensive – only amounting to about $30 for 20 caramel apples!

• Apples (I used 20 Braeburn as I prefer the tangy taste against the sweetness of the caramel)
• 4 bags of Kraft caramels
• Popsicle sticks or dowels
• Toppings of choice (we used rainbow sprinkles) spread out on a small plate
• Plastic treat bags
• Parchment paper

Wash and dry your apples thoroughly, remove stems, and insert dowels or popsicle sticks into the bottom of each apple.

In a deep microwaveable container (I used a 2 cup glass measuring cup), unwrap and microwave 2 bags of caramels with 2 tablespoons of water. I zapped them for one minute at a time, and then stirred, then microwaved for another 45 seconds. Stir until all caramels are melted – you don’t want the caramel to be scorching hot; rather you want the remaining chunks of caramel to melt as you stir (if it’s too hot the caramel will slide off the apples).

Dip each apple into the caramel mixture and let it drip off; then roll in the topping of your choice.
Leave the caramel covered apple to dry on the parchment paper. Once dry (I left mine out overnight), place in plastic treat bag and tie with a ribbon!

1. Ensure that your apples are COLD
2. Completely DRY before you dip them into the caramel
3. Ensure that your CARAMEL is not too HOT or it won’t stick to the apples

Viola! A great goodie bag alternative!
Thanks to #AmberOrchardEvents for the amazing idea to make these Caramel Apples!