Got my flu shot — both of them actually. Ouch.

October 28, 2009

I have asthma. It’s well controlled and not a huge problem for me, but all the same, it’s a chronic condition. So every year I (and all my family) qualify for a free seasonal flu shot. So every year I get one.

This year, I had to decide whether to add the H1N1 flu shot. There’s been so much press about H1N1, and everyone and their sports team has advice on how not to catch it. So I was planning to get the shot. And then I heard a tv interview that almost changed my mind.

You know how in BC we are so fond of hearing what the average man-on-the-street has to say about anything. Never mind the experts, we want public opinion. On everything! Anyhow, a tv news clip showed a mother saying she thought her kids would be better off getting H1N1, as it’s been mostly mild when it hits, and that way her kids would build natural resistance to it. Just like chicken pox.

I had chicken pox as a kid. Most of us did. But our kids now get a vaccine to prevent it instead. Remember chicken pox parties, where a group of kids would play together to catch chicken pox from the sick kid so everyone could get it over with? But now we don’t let kids get it anymore.

My kids had the chicken pox vaccine. And it always kind of bothered me that they didn’t develop a natural resistance to it. What if the vaccine isn’t effective for 50 years? We don’t know, since it hasn’t been around that long. Will my boys be susceptible to chicken box in half a decade?

So I thought again about whether the H1N1 vaccine was a good idea. And then I heard about the healthy 13-year-old boy in Ontario who died this week of H1N1. And I realized that every health official in the continent was telling me to get the vaccine.

So I got it. Because of my ashtma, I qualified in the first round, so I made an appointment at my doctor’s office and got both shots yesterday. Yes, I hate shots, and yes, I cried out (and nearly squeezed my son’s hand to pain!), but I got them both yesterday, one in each arm. And when my family qualifies in two weeks, they’ll get them too.

Will you get the shot?


Oh no, they shook hands at soccer!

October 25, 2009

I’m getting a bit fed up about all the hysteria over H1N1. I know it’s a new strain of flu, and so our susceptibility to it is high. I know it’ll spread fast when it hits, and I know for some people it will be very serious when they get it.

But we get flu every winter. In fact, both my kids already had flu this month, just the old-fashioned kind, not the new-fangled H1N1. And people do get very sick and even die of the other flu strains out there. So they’re all serious, aren’t they?

Yesterday at soccer, my son’s team went over to greet their opponents after the game, and out of habit, hit the hands of the other kids — you know, hands out, walk in a row, hit hands as you pass. But the soccer association has told us not to do that. They say because of H1N1 the boys should bump elbows. And some parents saw the hand touching and freaked.

I think maybe the freaking was kind of overkill. Yes, we should be vigilant this flu season, and yes, if we’ve got sick kids, they should stay home, maybe even a day longer than we might have kept them home in another year. But kids will touch each other, especially in sports. Should we really be all that worried?

What to do about all the Halloween candy my kids collect (and want to eat)

October 19, 2009

The title, in case you were wondering, is a question. I don’t have the answers.

All year, I try to meter out the candy and chocolate in small doses. I think healthy, active kids like mine should have some sugar, but that it should be seen as a treat, not a daily priviledge. And of course I try to avoid the sugar rush before bedtime. So dessert is occasional, but not out of the question, and candy et al is allowed, but not always. A personal pet peeve has always been the birthday loot bag stuffed with candy and cheap plastic toys. I pride myself on trying to come up with creative alternatives every year. But that’s another blog post for another day.

As for Halloween, it gets harder to fight each year. As the boys get older, they stay out trick or treating longer and come home with more and more loot. So they each have a bag full of candy for the better part of November and some of December. How long do we let them keep dipping into it?

I’ve heard the theory that says you should let them eat all they want for a day or two, in the assumption that they’ll eat themselves sick and stop voluntarily. Then I read this article and decided we weren’t trying that this year.

I’ve always favoured the “Let’s Make a Deal” model. I let them eat some stuff Halloween night, then send them to bed. Eventually they sleep.  In the morning, we play our game. I come armed with lots and lots of healthy snacks, like fruit leather, raisins, pudding, granola bars, etc. They can each choose a limited number of things from their stash (last year it was 14 I think) to keep. After that, they trade their unhealthy food for my healthy alternatives. they like the game, they still end up with a bag of goodies, and I don’t feel quite as horrible about letting them eat out of the bags on a regular basis. And I give the candy away to either the food bank or my co-workers.

Last year we did the deal game, then also set a limit on how long the bags could last. I think we gave them one month, and as of December 1, we took it all away, eaten or not (lots of not).

All these strategies work to a point, but with my older son approaching 9, I wonder how long I can keep it up. The thrill of the trading game is bound to wear off soon.

What do you do about the Halloween candy?

Crisis averted, hostess found

October 12, 2009

Thanks to everyone who came forward over the weekend to offer to help me out with hostessing at Movies for Mommies. I’m overwhelmed with how many mommies wanted the job. And considering that I only posted it on Twitter, Facebook and my blog, it goes to show that social media and word of mouth work incredibly well for us mommies!

I have found someone, but now also have a long list of backups if anything happens again. And for the next owner of MFM, I have a huge list of applicants for the job if you decide to hire someone!

Thanks again everyone. On this Thanksgiving morning, I’m very grateful for the wonderful community of mommies that support MFM Vancouver.

Want an easy paid gig? I need a new hostess for MFM ASAP.

October 9, 2009

I just found out that my previous hostess has quit on me, and I’m a little hooped. I work at my day job on Wednesdays, and can’t be at Movies for Mommies every screening. I’ve figured something out for this first week, but don’t know what I’ll do for the rest of the fall.

It’s a very easy job, and I pay for it. All you have to is turn up at the Rio by 11:45 to set things up, set out the stuff on the welcome table, then at noon, be ready when the doors are opened. You greet the mommies, hand out welcome kits to first-timers, get people to fill in the door prize forms. than at 12:30 pm, go to the front of the theatre, make the announcements, draw the door prize, then let the Rio staff know it’s time to start the film. Then come back to the front table, pack stuff up, and then you can go by 12:45. It’s just an hour and I pay you more than four times minimum wage.

It’s a perfect gig for a mom who’s kids are in school, or for anyone who likes babies. The screenings left this year are: October 28, November 11, 25, and December 9.

Can you help me out? Email me at

I once did a triathlon — there I said it!

October 9, 2009

Last year, when I turned 40, I committed to myself that I would complete a triathlon. I am not terribly athletic nor fit, so it was a huge commitment. I swam occasionally, ran when I had to, and biked lots, as long as no hills were involved (and I live in Vancouver, so you can imagine how little that was). But goshdarnit, I needed a challenge for my 40th to prove I wasn’t really old, so that was it.

So I trained. I actually followed the rules with my Monday-night running group, and even ran mid-week. I got over the hill thing on my bike and got better at cycling. And I swam more. I got help, from the head lifeguard at the pool, from the guy who runs the running clinic, and from my trainer. And from a website about training to run your first tri.

And I did it. My only goals were to finish it, not embarrass myself, and not be last. And I did all three. Despite swimming breast stroke, I came out of the pool about halfway in the group (a very supportive women’s only tri race helped!), off my bike a bit slower, but heck, it’s a mountain bike, and while my run was pretty pathetic and at the end I had absolutely nothing to give, I did cross the finish line in under two hours and there were a dozen people who finished after me.

And sometimes I like to brag about all that. But maybe I talked about it a bit too much last year, because my hubby has threatened that if I say the word “triathlon” again he’ll make me do another one (which I really don’t want to do). My kids try to trick me into saying it all the time now. But today an Olympic triathlete, who went to the same school my kids now attend, is visiting the school and came out early to run with the cross country group, and I was going for a run anyhow so I ran with the kids for 10 minutes myself. So I got to run with a triathlete again today, and got to say triathlon all the time this morning. And I just felt like mentioning my own triathlon effort too, so am writing it here.

But since hubby doesn’t read the blog, and anyhow writing and saying aren’t really the same, right, so I’m safe right? Please don’t make me do another one. Running 40 minutes this morning was hard enough.

The things my kids learn at farmer’s markets

October 7, 2009

His schoolteacher…had cut an apple and held one-quarter of it up to the class: this is the amount of earth that is not water; and then cut the quarter in half – this is the amount of arable land; and cut again – this is the amount of arable land not covered by human habitation; and finally, the amount of land that feeds everyone on the earth barely a scrap of skin.” –from The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels

I go to a lot of farmer’s markets. My husband mocks me for it, but whenever we travel in the summer, I always find a weekend market. Sometimes even a weekday market. This summer alone, we went to markets in Haney, Squamish, 100 Mile House, Qualicum Beach, and of course Vancouver. I love the mix of fresh, healthy food with artisan bakers/food producers and crafts. And I always drag the kids.

Now I should disclose my interest here — I’ve gotten involved in food issues over the past few years, and now sit as a member of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council, an advisory body to the Mayor and Council of Vancouver on issues of food and food security. I also champion food issues for the Board of Trade’s Sustainability Committee. I’m not an organic-vegan hippie foodie, but rather am interested in preserving farmland for farming, in ensuring we have local food available, and in growing local food industries.

OK, got that off my chest. Now back to farmer’s markets. I love the variety of vendors. I love finding new stuff at different locations. My whole family still raves about the bison burgers we bought in Squamish this summer. And I love discovering new fruits and vegetables. Just last week at the Kitsilano market I bought a lemon cucumber (very cool and great fresh taste), yellow and purple carrots, and a variety of tiny plums I can’t remember the name of but am heading back next Sunday to get more of because they were the sweetest thing I ever ate.

My husband isn’t huge on markets, but my kids have grown to love them. To be fair, they nearly always get some kind of baked good snack (at Kits, try the Welsh cakes or the butter tarts!), and there’s veggies and fruit and cheese to taste. But last weekend, I discovered that they like a lot of things I like at the market. They like finding cool veggies. My 8 year old chose this wierd shaped red pepper and insisted I buy it. My 6 year old loves the differently coloured carrots. They both went gaga over the mini pumpkins and loved that I let them each choose one to buy. And because I’ve drilled it into them, they now get that farmers make more money if we buy at markets than the grocery store.

Sample conversation from last weekend:

8 yr old: “IGA has these same mini pumpkins at the same price, you know.”

6 yr old: “But if we bought them at IGA the farmer only gets like ten cents of the dollar we paid.”

8 yr old: “And at the market the farmer gets the whole buck!”

And they’re right. And I love that they know that. Of course, they also know that the cinamon buns at one baker’s stand are larger than the scones at the other stand. Still, baby steps.