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My Functional Family

Making A "Dysfunctional" Family Function

On Being Fired

Posted by: Maureen | March 28, 2014 | 8 Comments

As someone who has not been unemployed since I was 15 (that’s over 25 years ago,) and has never (until very recently) been fired, I’ll tell you, it is a totally new sensation.

Before I continue with this story, I would like to state that I understand that firing an employee is a business decision, and I hold no animosity towards the company or the people involved; it totally made sense for them. This is me trying to make it make sense for me.

Let me start with the moment I walked into my boss’ office and saw the HR representative sitting there, that ‘s the moment my brain said “Brace yourself; you’re in for a bumpy ride.”

My body and mind felt numb as they handed me my termination papers, and as they talked about what I was entitled to, the words swirled around in my brain, not really making any sense. I know the word “okay” tumbled out of my mouth every so often, while my eyes scanned the words on the paper, but didn’t fully digest them. Their mouths moved, and I tried to listen, but I heard nothing until they said the words “effective immediately.” That set off a small panic button for me, as I tried to figure out what everything meant, and what I would need/want to take with me.

Then, a few, short moments later, the talk was done, and I was rising from my seat unsure I would be able to steady myself. I hugged my boss (we had a great relationship,) and even found myself trying to comfort her because I knew she was having a seriously crappy day too, and while I could only get fired once, she had to go through the process again.

At this point, I headed back to my desk, somewhat bewildered, and was thankful the office had cleared out for lunch. An IT person came and deleted my work email from my phone, while I pulled personal files from my computer. Then, I forced myself to my feet and walked, dazed, out the door, down the stairs, and to my car. The numbness continued as I sat in my car and phoned my husband.

If you know me, you know I am very emotional, but I didn’t cry until I had to say the words: “I was fired.” My voice cracked, and the emotions that had been building were finally released. Tom reminded me that this wasn’t really a surprise; I had been speculating for weeks. I could relax now because it was over. My response? “I guess I don’t have any reason not to clean the house now,” cause that’s exactly what he was worried about, I’m sure. His response was equally funny; “Can you bring me a coffee when you come home?”

It’s been 4 days now, and I still wake up every morning panicked that I’m going to be late, or that I should be doing something for work. Then reality sets in. Emotionally I am drained because I have been on this emotional roller coaster. It started with the initial shock, and moved to excited, then overwhelmed with prospects, then amazed with all the support I have received. I then move to worried about the future, analyzing what went wrong, why me? I try to enjoy the freedom, then I hate the freedom. Now? Now I’m at the point where I pick myself up, brush myself off, and move on.

I still feel these emotions almost every day, but I don’t let myself linger on the negative feelings, and I try to amplify the positive, because I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and whatever comes next, I’m going to rock it!

Breakfast Fun with Pillsbury Toaster Strudels #Strudelgram

Posted by: Maureen | March 22, 2014 | No Comments

My house is a mad house at the best of times, but weekday mornings have to be the worst. I have never really liked any time before 8am, not even when I only had myself to worry about. Now I have four small people to chase after and make sure they are dressed, fed and clean.

I know this doesn’t sound like a huge feat, but there are only so many time you can say “put your socks on, no seriously put them on, we have to go. Wait, where are the socks I gave you?” Follow this with “Did you brush your teeth? Can I smell your breath? Go brush your teeth. For real, you have to brush them every day.” Hopefully you don’t have to also follow up with “Why are your socks in the fish tank?” because that’s how some mornings go, and that is before I even leave the house. Don’t make me tell you about the “Why does she get to sit in that seat?” “I wanted to pick the movie!” and “Wait, I forgot my (insert any number of things from hats and mitts to recorders here.)” discussions we have in the car.

It’s a wonder I still have my sanity.

This is why I love days that don’t come with timelines. This past week, I was off work, and I planned a special day to spend with the kids. Once everyone was awake, I announced they wouldn’t be going to school, and we would go to the aquarium instead. As you can imagine, this was met with a round of applause.

I started the fun at the breakfast table, by bringing out the Pillsbury Toaster Strudels. The kids gobbled them up, and at no time did I have to say “Please eat your breakfast” or “You are not going to the bathroom with a mouth full of food, I know you’re going to spit it out.” I did, however, say “Use your icing to draw a picture on your strudel.” Which they thought was cool, and now they can enter the Strudelgram contest on the Pillsbury website!

Want to create your own Strudelgram? Right now, you can save $1.00 off Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, and entering the contest, it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3!

1. Create

2. Upload.

3. Share

You could win a $1000.00 or $500.00 VISA gift card!

So, with our bellies full, and our morning started on the right note, we headed to the aquarium to have some more fun! At the aquarium, I may have said things like “Do you want to touch the shark?” and “If you guys were tuna, I could sell you for $5,573.”

Disclosure: I am part of the Pillsbury Strudelgram Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

#CheerForGold

Posted by: Maureen | January 19, 2014 | No Comments

Are you ready? Get out your pom poms, make some signs, grab your cowbell, whatever it is you do when you cheer for your favourite team, because Team Canada will soon be competing in Sochi! The Winter Olympic Games are only 19 days away!

As someone who worked in sports television for 20 years, there are very few sporting events that still get me truly excited, but the Olympic Games really do. It’s a dinner-in-the-tv-room kind of event, and the whole family will gather round to watch our Canadian athletes work their magic. My favourite winter event is the figure skating, but I know we will be paying attention to the hockey and snowboarding too.

It’s been a long winter, and you may still be in recovery from the holidays, so I completely understand if you aren’t in the Olympic state of mind yet. Don’t worry, General Mills (an official Olympic sponsor) is going to help you get in the spirit!

Next time you are in the grocery store, look for General Mills’ products with this logo displayed on them.  This logo tells you this is not just any box, this is an augmented reality box. Not sure what that means? Keep reading.

Using your Apple or Android phone/tablet, download the FREE Blippar App. It looks like this in the App store.

Now, watch your cereal box come to life! Scan the box, and the app will display information about some of the athletes we will be cheering for. Learn all about them by reading their bios, PLUS you can play games and even take a picture with an athlete!

The Blippar logo can be found on specially marked boxes of Cheerios Cereals, Oatmeal Crisp Cereals, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reese® Puffs, Nature Valley, Gushers and Fruit by the Foot.

So make the breakfast table a learning experience, and get your family in the Olympic spirit!

Disclosure: I am part of the Cereal & Snacks Olympic Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

What is a Feminist Selfie? #365FeministSelfie

Posted by: Maureen | January 15, 2014 | No Comments

I have never identified as a feminist, until recently. In my mind, being a feminist meant taking part in man bashing; I’m not that woman. I couldn’t wrap my head around other people’s ideals, didn’t care to act the way people seemed to think a feminist acts. I had a lot of notions in my head about who feminists were and who I was.

I was confused, however, since I certainly wanted equality for myself and other woman. I definitely wanted to be respected in my workplace, and I knew I was just as capable as anyone else. So, was I a feminist? I still didn’t think so. I wasn’t raised a feminist… or was I?

I grew up in a house where my mom worked, but I would hardly say my father pulled his share around the house. I was told that I could do/be anything I wanted to be, but witnessed my mother biting her tongue on more than one occasion. Although, I am certain her silent treatment spoke louder than any words could have.

My parents were born in the 30’s, my mother’s only option for schooling was for secretary work. My father was raised in a time when a man was a man was man, and he brought 3 daughter’s (and a son) into the world where bras were being burned. It can’t have been an easy transition for him.

I knew he was really trying when, one day, he leaned in to me and he said “If anyone ever hits you, hit them back.”

Maybe that was more the fear of having to let a daughter go out into the world, I’m not sure, and as strange as that advice may sound, it stuck with me.

I am perplexed by this feminism thing.  I grew up with many male friends, and I always felt their equal. When I was very small, my closest friends were David, David, David and Trent. In elementary school, I was the fastest runner in the school, with the exception of Trent. I was also taller than everyone in my class, with the exception of… you guessed it, Trent (I may have had a small crush on Trent.) I was the only girl on a boys soccer team. I was competitive, and I remember one of my girlfriend’s moms telling her that she should be careful of me because of that. I tried not to be so competitive after that.

I was a tomboy. Is that even acceptable to say anymore? Either way, I was. By 15 I could bench press 125 lbs, I was just as good as any boy on the soccer field, and I had D cup boobs, so the boys weren’t interested in playing soccer with me any more.

I started to think about quitting soccer because my legs were always bruised, and that wasn’t pretty.  Could the two, pretty AND strong, co-exist? I wasn’t so sure.

In high school, my first brush with feminism came when I learned that a group of feminists wanted to change the word manhole to personhole. I scoffed. Did they not have something more important to think about?

Feminists wanted equality, so did I, but as someone who was just starting to date, I also enjoyed chivalry, so long as they realized I was just as capable at opening my door as they were.

Do you see? It’s a fine line.

When I graduated from college, I went straight to working in sports television. Almost everyone I worked with was male, and I didn’t mind. I had found, over the years, that I got along better with men than woman… or so I thought. When other women were bashing men, I was defending them. I wanted to be their friends. I liked men.

Working in sports television should make any woman into a feminist, since I can’t tell you how often my knowledge was doubted simply because I was a woman. That said, I climbed the ladder and became the only female senior technical operator at our station. I had made it all this way, stood shoulder to shoulder with men the entire way, and never doubted that I could. Maybe I was raised a feminist, and I didn’t even know it.

In my 30’s I gave birth to 2 little girls, and I became the step mom to another little girl and a son. I could see my own parents’ fears growing inside me. Would these young girls see their strengths? Would they be given the opportunities they deserve? How can I teach them that they are more than a pretty face, they are so much more than the size of their jeans, or the next fashion trend. I guess that is when I knew I was a feminist.

I hadn’t worried for myself. I had never thought that I wasn’t capable or that I might not get something because I was a girl. I had certainly judged myself, been hard on myself for not being pretty enough or skinny enough or popular enough. There is no worse critic than that voice in your head.

So now my concern is how do I talk to that voice in my little girl’s head and tell it that Mama won’t be happy if it tells my daughter she is not good enough? How do I raise her up?

I worry that I don’t know how.

So I thought I would start at home. I thought I would start by raising myself up.

I am taking part in a project called #365FeministSelfie – I’m taking a selfie everyday for a year to show the good, the bad, and the beautiful parts of me.

When I posted this selfie on Facebook the other day with a note that said “My first day back in the office since before the holidays.” Someone asked “What is a feminist selfie?”

And that was the spark for this blog post. Here is the response I gave:

“Good question. I suppose it is a selfie taken as a statement. There are many people who claim selfies are taken because you are vain. I take selfies because I am usually the one behind the camera and I want there to be pictures of me for my children to look at and for me to look back at. You can take your own picture and not be completely frivolous and self-centred. That is what it means to me. This project has also made me look at myself in a different light, I take pictures when I don’t look my best to show that, even without my make up, when I am feeling sick, when I feel overwhelmed and under pressure, I am still beautiful, I am still picture worthy.

This photo actually helped me to realize that despite the fact that I have had a shitty couple of weeks, I need to look at the fact that I was able to be at home with my kids when they were sick, I was able to stay home when I was sick, and I was able to be in the hospital with my daughter when she needed me. I have an amazing boss and great co-workers, and I need to adjust my attitude because, despite the fact that I had a few rough weeks, it could have been worse.”

So, for those of you who were wondering, THAT is what a feminist selfie is.

Over time, I have come to realize that I don’t have to hate men to be a feminist, and I don’t have to agree with every feminist’s idea of what the word means, I just have to have my own standards. I made the word fit me, rather than the other way around.

First Baby. First Time Mom. First Cheerios

Posted by: Maureen | December 6, 2013 | No Comments

When you are in your thirties, you kind of believe there aren’t that many firsts left for you to experience, and then you have a baby… your first baby.

I remember the very first moment I saw her, the first time I held her tiny, perfect body in my arms and counted all her tiny, perfect fingers and toes.  I remember the dark shock of hair on her tiny head, and the pigment of her skin. I remember that instant feeling of absolute love, the rising feelings of both fear and sheer joy. I remember her first cry, and her first feed. I remember the look on my mother’s face as she held her in her arms and knowing, for the first time, how she truly felt about me. I remember calling her by her name, for the very first time… Rebecca.

Then I got to experience all of her firsts too; her first diaper change, her first bath, and her first sleepless night.

I remember putting her in her car seat for the very first time. She looked so little. Then we had our first night at home, and her second sleepless night.

I remember, that first week, walking to a local church that held a new mother’s group every Thursday. I showed up with my 5 day old baby, and all the mothers there, with their wee babies in tow, oohing and ahhing over how tiny she was. I didn’t realize how quickly she would grow, and didn’t understand that they were looking at her and remembering that, only two months ago, their little ones were that small too. They were looking and remember their firsts with their babies.

It was at this new mother’s group that I met my first “mommy friends” and Rebecca met her first friends too.

We took our first walk to High Park, where we had our first playdate. There wasn’t a whole lot of playing going on, but it gave us moms a few moments to get out and discuss what we were experiencing, and see if our firsts were the same as others.

It was then that I discovered that firsts was a big topic among moms, almost a competition.

At the new mother’s group one mom would brag “My son rolled over for the first time at four months.”

Another would chime in “Mine started cutting his first tooth at three months.”

I started a calendar, where I documented all of Rebecca’s firsts.

I listened to the other moms talk about their babies firsts, and shared when her firsts happened too. I realized that sharing our babies firsts allowed us to feel normal, gave us comfort in knowing that our babies were growing and achieving their firsts, like any other baby.

At 3 months, we went on our first trip, a 10 hour drive to Connecticut. I remember, very vividly, Rebecca slept through the night for the first time in Connecticut. I woke up panicked! I slept for 8 hours! There must be something wrong! There wasn’t. She smiled up at me from her playpen.

I started introducing baby food. One. At. A. time. Sweet potatoes first. I think everyone gives sweet potatoes first. Rebecca loved all these new flavours. Her first blueberries were her favourite, and then her first blue poop – it really does happen.

Rebecca really enjoyed having new foods to try, with the exception of avocados, which she still won’t eat to this day.

Her little fingers begged to be in everything. I let her hold her own spoon. It never ended well, but the mess was worth it. Then we discovered Cheerios. So perfect for her to pick up and feed herself; her first finger food.  There would be moments, when her little fingers wouldn’t quite get hold of the Cheerios, and I would want to help, but she enjoyed this new found freedom so much that I would leave her be, and she would finally grab one and get it in her mouth. The look of pride, her wee baby hands clapping for her own sweet victory – some firsts you just never forget.

Rebecca is eight now. We still have plenty of firsts ahead of us, and I look forward to them all.

Do you remember your little one’s first Cheerios moment? Go to http://www.facebook.com/LifeMadeDelicious to take part in the 2014 Cheerios mosaic.

Upload a photo of your little one enjoying their first Cheerios and receive a $1.00 off coupon (limited to one coupon per household, per calendar year, while supplies last)

Disclosure – I am participating in the First Cheerios blogger campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own

Every Little Bit Counts – RESPs #SavewithRBC

Posted by: Maureen | October 1, 2013 | No Comments

Our kids are 13, 10, 8, and 3. Other than an RESP Tom’s parent’s have for them, we haven’t done a whole lot of saving for their education, and that kind of freaks me out. Combined, there are a whole lot of college/university years ahead of us!

Sure, I have talked to people about what I should be doing, and I have thought about it even more… usually at 3am when my brain does that fun internal conversation about everything I should be doing, that I’m not. I should eat better, work out more, spend less, and (of course) save more.

So what’s holding me back? Well, chocolate had something to do with the eating part, but not feeling I could contribute enough was the saving part. Then I realized, like anything in life, every little bit counts.  I started looking at saving in a different light. I started calculating time instead of money. If I got up 15 minutes earlier, I could make myself a cup of tea and grab some granola instead of going to the drive-thru (Put that extra $5 in the pot). If I got up half an hour earlier, I could pack myself a lunch, more money in the pot.

I’m not unrealistic enough to think I will do that every day, but even twice a week would mean an extra $10. So now I am looking at putting $40 a month into that RESP. Doesn’t sound like very much, but I’m way ahead of the people who haven’t started yet.

Add to that the money that the government will add – when else will they GIVE you money? The government’s Canada Education Savings Grant program. or CESG, matches 20% on the first $2,500 contributed annually to an RESP. The maximum total CESG the government will give, up to age 18, is $7,200 per beneficiary. We’re talking FREE money here, people. You can’t afford not to take advantage of that!

I know, I know, you’ve got tonnes of bills and expenses already. I totally get it, this is just one more thing you need to remember to do. Except you don’t. With RESP-matic, RBC is going to make this whole RESP thing super easy for you. You pick an amount, you pick the frequency. Let’s say $5 a week, or $50 a month, maybe $200 a year, it’s up to you. You can put in as little or as much as you want, as often as you want, and it’s automatically debited from your account. You don’t have to remember to do anything, and the funds will be transferred before you’ve thought about how you could use them to buy that venti half-sweet, skinny, mocha- frappacino with whip that would totally break your diet anyway.

You can follow RBC on Twitter or visit them at Rbc.com/education for more tips and tricks on getting started. How old are your kids? Have you started saving?

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

What’s Old Is New Again – Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch #HNCHeartyOatCrunch

Posted by: Maureen | September 5, 2013 | No Comments

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents would get a new appliance, how much fun it was to make the box into something cool?  I remember when my parents got a new fridge, my friends and I thought we had hit the mother load! A box that big can be anything from a fort to a bus to a rocket ship. We played in that box until it fell apart at the seams.

Even in this day of high tech and digital everything, not much has changed on this front, a box is still considered the best toy ever. We recently purchased a new water cooler, and I am happy to report that it was promptly converted into a rocket ship for my three year old, Siobhan.

Her big sister, Rebecca, and I even made a super cool control panel out of an old shoe box.

Siobhan was entertained for hours by her old school box rocket, but in the end she made some modifications that brought it a little more up to date; she installed the high tech iPad control panel instead. This modern addition brought her rocket to new levels!

Honey Nut Cheerios have made their own modifications to their old school favourite too. We were lucky enough to try the brand new Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch cereal from General Mills, and much like the box rocket, it was a huge hit!

Don’t worry, Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch keeps the integrity of the old school cereal you love, but adds in the extra benefit of crispy oat flakes and delicious nut clusters. If you liked the original Honey Nut Cheerios, you are going to love Hearty Oat Crunch!

I bet the cereal box would make a great iPad cover.

Disclosure – I am participating in the Honey Nut Cheerios Hearty Oat Crunch Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada on behalf of General Mills, and received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own

Family Movie Night ~ #TurtlesTale2

Posted by: Maureen | July 26, 2013 | No Comments

Growing up, there weren’t a lot of rules in our house. We could come and go as we pleased, we could eat what we wanted, and we could eat it wherever we wanted… not so in my house now. Because of that, my kids think it’s super cool to eat in the tv room, so when I was asked to write about A Turtle’s Tale 2 – Sammy Escapes from Paradise! I knew exactly what I was going to do… dinner and a movie!

To get the kids in the mood, I bought some chocolate molds and some colourful chocolate, and had them each make their own turtle and sea shell chocolates. It was super messy, and there was lots of finger licking going on.

While they were doing that, I made a huge tray of nachos to be eaten… in the tv room, while we watched the movie. I may get nominated for mom of the year for this.

I thought maybe I would play on the water theme of the movie, and I got them some inflatable mattresses from the dollar store. They made for a comfy place to sit, and also kept greasy fingers off my couch… sneaky, I know.

Once the movie started, the kids were fully engaged.

The bold, colourful graphics, and some very colourful characters had them interested from the get-go. If you have seen the first Turtle Tale movie (available on Netflicks), you will recognize some of the characters, but it is in no way a prerequisite for this film.

Sammy, now a grandpa, and his friend Ray get taken from their home to be eye candy in a lavish underwater aquarium restaurant, but nothing will keep them from getting back to their loved ones. With help from their grandkids and some unlikely friends, Sammy and Ray devise a plan to escape. Follow along as these turtles go on a crazy journey and see if they can out smart the people who have them trapped.

While this movie is geared towards kids between the ages of 3 – 10, even my teen daughter enjoyed it, as did I.

Here is what my kids had to say:

“The characters are cute, and the bad guys aren’t too scary, so little kids won’t be scared.” ~ Eleanor 13

“It was pretty funny, I liked the lobster.” ~ Ethan 10

“It’s a good story, and the characters are fun.” ~ Rebecca 8

“Can we watch more turtles, mommy?” ~ Siobhan 3

Siobhan also chanted “Go turtles, go!” at a particularly exciting part.

I have to mention also, the soundtrack for this movie is fantastic. I was dancing in my seat from time to time, and the kids bopped along to Rock Lobster since they recognized it from their Just Dance video game.

Remember the chocolates the kids made? Once the nachos were demolished, turtle/sea shell chocolates were served with gummies shaped like dolphins and frogs.

All-in-all, it was a very successful movie night.

You can watch a preview of the movie here:

A Turtle’s Tale 2 – Sammy Escapes from Paradise!

Disclosure: I am participating in A Turtle’s Tale 2 – Sammy Escapes From Paradise Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own

Good Mom or Bad Mom?

Posted by: Maureen | June 11, 2013 | 4 Comments

As a mom, I worry. I worry that I’m doing it wrong, that I’ve missed something important, that I have hugged too little, scolded too much, that I will scar them for life. Most of all, I worry that I am shaping four young lives and I still question things I have done with my own life.

I have debt, my house is untidy, I sometimes forget to take a kid to a lesson or sport. I allow them to skip lessons/sports sometimes. I don’t check homework as often as I should, I let them eat bacon/candy/white bread/oreo cookies/insert any number of things I probably shouldn’t let them eat.

I let them play video games and watch tv more than I probably should, and sometimes I even use those things as a distraction so I can have a minute to myself.

Strangers and friends (who don’t have children) often tell me I am a good mom and comment on how well behaved my children are at parties and in public places. Even my mother-in-law mentioned it once when she met up with us at the mall.

What they don’t know is, every time we leave the house to go somewhere in public, I read my kids the riot act and threaten to take away all digital devices if anyone acts inappropriately.

Once, when going to get Santa Claus pictures done, I even told them good behaviour would be rewarded with McDonald’s French fries. That was the same year that I bought them all Santa Claus hats to cover their disheveled hair… Not exactly Mom of the Year material.

The compliment of well-behaved children was one that was probably not often given to my own mother. Does that make her a bad mom? If so, I don’t want to be a good mom.

My mother is probably the most patient and caring person I have ever met. She has never turned away a person in need, nor a child in trouble. Growing up we often had one person or another living at our house. Anyone who happened to be at our house at meal times was fed and taken care of.

Despite working crazy hours, family was my mom’s life. She never missed a soccer game, and often took time off work to drive me (and my siblings) to various sporting events, and now she doesn’t miss anything her grandkids do, from theatre performances to hockey tournaments. If I have to work late, she will also be there to take my kids to their sports/lessons. You can’t tell me she isn’t the best mom in the universe because I just won’t listen to you.

My mom never yelled, never lost her patience, always supported us, and gave us very few rules. So whose method of parenting is “good”?

When I take the time to think about this, as I am doing right now, I think maybe there is no good and bad. I mean, sure, there are extremes that no-one can deny. I’m not talking about the junkies who forget to feed their babies and leave them at home by themselves to go out drinking. That’s a bad mom. I’m talking about all of us average moms who make lunches everyday (mine never include any fun shapes or love notes), who drive kids to school, drop off all the things they left at home, make healthy dinners (most nights), help with home work, cheer them on at sports (even when I have my iPhone in my hand), and tuck them in with hugs and kisses every night. I’m talking about me and you.

Who is to say that my way of parenting is right or that your way of parenting is wrong. Who gets to make that call? Until you live in my house, take care of the four little personalities I have living in my house, pay my bills, work my job, and co-exist with my husband (you’ll like him, he’s charming If not slightly inappropriate). Until then, you don’t get to judge me.

I know, I know, I was the one judging myself right from the start here. The strangers said I was a good mom! What I am trying to say is it takes all kinds, and I think I worry so much because of the pressures given to us by society to have well behaved children, and to appear as though making a family of 6 (or any other size) work is easy. It’ s not!

I would give my right arm for my children most days, but there are others when I would sell them to you for a buck.

Making Changes For A Better Me

Posted by: Maureen | June 1, 2013 | No Comments

About 6 months ago, my body started giving me some serious signs that I needed to make some changes to my lifestyle. Not only was I constantly tired and forgetting things (important things), but I had canker sores in my mouth that WOULD NOT GO AWAY! Add to these factors that I was (still am) over weight, and it was pretty upsetting.

I started my lifestyle change with a couple of small things:

I joined a gym called Circafit where I do circuit training.  I have found this type of workout, where I have a trainer and I am in a class that starts and ends at specific times, has been beneficial because I have someone to assist me with form and I also have someone watching to make sure I don’t quit.

I also made some changes to my diet. I cut down on the amount of dairy I consume by not drinking milk or eating yogurt (I still eat cheese), and I cut down on drinking tea. Without milk, it was pretty simple to let go of tea. I am amazed at how much better I feel without caffeine. Previously, when I tried to cut out caffeine, I failed because I would get horrible headaches. This time, when I wanted tea, I would drink water; hardly any headaches.

I made other changes to my diet including having a smoothie for breakfast every day. Because I don’t drink milk or eat yogurt, I use almond or flax milk and I use coconut cream instead of yogurt. To get the coconut cream, I buy a can of coconut milk and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Then, when the can is opened, all of the cream has risen to the top and you can scoop it out. I put about 2 Tbs in my smoothies and I add in any fruit I have on hand. I have found that I really like spinach in my smoothies, I know, weird.

Tom and I used to sit on the couch after the kids went to bed and watch tv and eat snacks, I knew that had to change, so I started cutting back on that. I won’t say it has stopped, but we only snack once in a while now.

Immediately, I felt better, but not good enough. Despite my change in diet, I still had canker sores. It was then that I saw something in my Facebook feed that caught my eye. The picture was of a canker sore and the article was about celiac disease. I read it with interest and decided to start cutting down on my gluten intake. I saw immediate results. I guess I should get my doctor to test me for celiac, but no matter what the results of that test are, I know gluten is an issue for me now.

I haven’t completely cut out gluten, but I have cut back, and I can tell you this has been the hardest of the changes to make. I love bread and cake and pasta… not good, but I have also been able to find some great recipes that mean I can continue to eat these things. Thanks Pinterest!

One of my favourite gluten-free breads is coconut milk bread. Try it with peanut butter and banana.. yum! And something I have found that is a perfect thing to grab when I’m running out to the gym or even when I want something sweet is homemade energy bars. They are so easy to make! I don’t have a food processor, so I use my magic bullet. If you have a food processor, they will be even easier.

What you will need:

1 ½ C pitted dates

½ C dried cherries

1 C raw cashews

2 Tbs natural peanut butter

Put all ingredients in your food processor and blend, or put each ingredient in your magic bullet separately and blend. Then knead together with your hands and press into a bread pan lined with wax paper. Cut into bars and eat.

The great thing is you can substitute the ingredients for things you prefer. Don’t like dried cherries (not sure how that is possible, but okay) substitute with raisins or dried blueberries. Don’t like cashews? Use almonds or hazelnuts. And you can use any type of nut butter that tickles your fancy too.

In the six months that I have been trying my new lifestyle, I have noticed a huge improvement in my energy level, and I have lost 15 pounds. This is despite not always sticking to my plan and with sometimes only making it to the gym once a week.

My latest change has been to join a soccer team. It has been a long time since I put on my cleats and took to the pitch, but I am loving every (painful) minute of it.

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