Category: Lifestyle

Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

I grew up in a household where my Dad smoked both in the house and outside. To me this was normal, it was part of my every day and it was socially acceptable. One day, my Dad took all three of us kids to the Doctor’s office. As he struggled to get my younger sister out of the car, he asked me to hold his cigarette while he pulled her out – be forgiving with this action, this was the 80s!! Not realizing what I was doing, I started to put the cigarette to my mouth and smoke, thinking how cool I looked and that I was just like Dad. It was the first and only time my Dad got mad at me! He smacked the cigarette out of my mouth, yelling at me about how bad smoking was for my health and that I was still a child. But to me, as a child, I had a hard time understanding: if it was so bad, why did the people who I loved and looked up to smoke? Wasn’t this normal? And it seemed odd coming from my Dad’s mouth that smoking was bad for me, but okay for him. The signals that I was receiving were confusing and contradictory.

Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

Our behaviour is learned from watching others – we learn about norms, how to model correct (and incorrect) behaviour, and what is accepted socially, all from watching our family members, our peers, and those whom we admire and respect. Children and young adults are susceptible to these learnings and may have a harder time deciphering what is healthy and normal and what may be viewed as “cool” and “admirable” is actually unhealthy and detrimental to their health. As a parent, I have learned that it is my job to help guide them as they mature and begin to learn what is normal, what is right and how to make good decisions for their own health and well-being. For my youngest, this may mean restricting what he hears and sees, while for my eldest talking about the ‘why’s’ behind the decisions we are making.

Seeing a person smoking everyday or even casually in a movie or advertisement normalizes smoking. Our most vulnerable population, children and teens, see their idols and celebrities smoking, want to copy their behaviour, to be just like them. They don’t have the skills or the maturity to understand the consequences of smoking and starting so young. My husband started smoking when he was fourteen and struggled to quit at the age of 30 (he has now been smoke free for six years!). One of his greatest regrets, is that he had started so young.

Monkey See, Monkey Do #SmokeFreeMovies

Smoking in movies is now shockingly widespread; and some of the statistics surprised me! 86% of movies with smoking were rated for kids and teens in Ontario. That’s 37% of Ontario youth smokers begin to smoke due to seeing smoking in movies. Scary right? Even scarier is the fact that smoking has become so normal despite the high number of health campaigns showing the risks of smoking. I bet many of you like me, haven’t even noticed this happening during movies.

So how do parents help protect their children when movies aren’t rated to let us know that smoking is in the movie? Public Health Units across Ontario are encouraging parents to sign a petition that will influence movies to be rated as 18A  if they feature tobacco at any point throughout the movie This small step helps us to wisely choose our movies for family time, as well as encouraging movie producers to just not include smoking at all in the film.

As parents, we know first-hand how quickly our children pick up habits (how many of you have said one bad word in the car and that’s it, they are like parrots repeating it everywhere) and we would do anything in our ability and power to protect them and keep them healthy. Signing the petition is one small, but positive step that we as parents can take to help ensure our children are not exposed to unhealthy life choices.

If you are curious about movies titles that may or do contain tobacco, visit the Smoke Free Movies page or the Thumbs Up Thumbs Down page for a complete listing of both tobacco free and tobacco containing movies. To keep up-to-date with all the latest information and status of the petition, make sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and The Smoke-Free Movies Campaign and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.

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Carving out “Me” Time #StreamTeam


Our family life is hectic. Both of us work full-time (thankfully no more night shifts!), both of our boys play competitive soccer which means we are on the pitch four to five nights a week plus weekends, I am finally finishing up two diploma programs and my husband coaches too. I wouldn’t change our life for a second, I love watching the kids on the pitch, I love my work and I even love the non-stop moving but sometimes we just need a break.

With this go-go-go lifestyle, I find I am sometimes worn out, irritable and there are some nights I just crash on the bed exhausted at the end of the day not even wanting to move. Last week, both of my kids spent five days at their Grandparents house about an hour away from our home. While I cried the whole way home after dropping them off (completely irrational I know), after day one I realized this was just what I needed to recover from the busy lifestyle we were leading. Not only did we need it as parents, our kids needed it too.

While this is a bit of an extreme example, as I know most of us don’t leave our children at family for the week, taking a much-needed “me” time break is so important for both our physical and mental health. When Netflix asked Moms what this me time did for them, they received responses from it helped them to be a better parent to getting peace to decompress alone. Dads, I know you will feel the same too!

Carving Out "Me" Time with Netflix #StreamTeam

We know it’s important so how do we take it? Here are my tips for taking time for you!

Get Up a Little Bit Earlier Before Your Kids

While this may seem hard at first, trust me you will love it. My first hour of my day is time for just me, my coffee and catching up on my latest shows that are not kid friendly (i.e. Luther, Orange is the New Black, Grace and Frankie!). It gives me such a sense of peace and relaxation – it allows me to focus on the day ahead and unwind before it all starts. When I don’t get it, watch out! I feel like I am thrown off my game all day and I even find myself getting irritated at little things that normally wouldn’t bother me.

Carving Out "Me" Time #StreamTeam

Take a Nice Hot Bath

We all deserve a nice hot soak in a bubble bath at the end of the day. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get the iPad out and lock that bathroom door – headphones are optional if you really want to unwind!

Carving Out "Me" Time #StreamTeam

Go For Daily Walks

These walks don’t have to be long but just get out there. The physical activity will really help you de-stress and unwind after a busy day. I usually bring my kids along and we stop for ten minutes at the park. It goes a long way for both of us.

However you sneak in “me” time, there is no question about the importance of it. You deserve time alone, doing whatever you need to so that you can be a better parent and spouse. Whether it be catching up on your favourite Netflix hit or listening to music, you deserve that time so make sure you take it!

How do you take time out in your busy day for yourself?

Disclosure: I am a #StreamTeam member and receive perks with this affiliation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Building Strong Communities Starts in School #CatholicTeachers

Building Strong Communities Starts at School

Community: A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. – Merriam Webster Definition

My children, like so many others, spent the majority of their day in school with their teachers and friends. Their friends, teachers, principal and administrative staff have become a second family to my boys. They are there for them when I can’t be, they clean up cuts, teach them to share and build a classroom based on respect, friendship, faith and learning. This second home is where my children learn important life skills and develop a sense of belonging, pride and giving back to their local community. Knowing how important education, school and the community environment that they are a part of is, I chose Catholic Education  for my children. I wanted them to have the same positive experiences that I had as a child and to be nurtured in an environment that pushes them to succeed while supporting each and every individual in the classroom.

My boys participate in many events at their school from mass to monthly awards ceremonies to reading buddy groups to sports activities after school to themed events outside of school hours (French Cafe for example). As a family, we have attended many schools events outside of school hours such as BBQs, plays, mass , Advent nights and fundraisers for families in our school. The extracurricular activities at our school are based on faith and respect – including sports activities where a prayer is said before each and every game.Building Strong Communities Starts at School #CatholicTeachers

Recently, one of the parents of three children in our school was diagnosed with terminal cancer and to help support this family, a movie fundraiser was organized by the teachers and family community, with all proceeds from the event going to help support this family in a difficult time. This movie night brought together families from all age groups, teachers and administrative staff in the school that wanted to show this family that they were not alone during this difficult time and that we are all there to support them through giving our time, our thoughts, our prayers and acts of kindness.

Why is community so important?

Community is so important for many reasons. One of the most important benefits of belonging to a community is that it helps children to realize that there is more to life than just themselves. We are here to serve others and to give back to others wherever we can. We have all been so blessed and it is important for children to learn the importance of giving back and helping others out in hard times. Being a part of a community in a Catholic school gives you the opportunity to help others in the school, not because it is expected but because you are taught the value and importance of giving back to others by their teachers. I started volunteering in my teen years as a school requirement, I continued to volunteer long after the requirement was met because of the joy I received from working in hospitals and retirement homes. I knew I was making an impact in the lives of others and it gave me a strong sense of accomplishment and joy. I want my boys to experience that same feeling of joy in giving back to others.

Community helps individuals know and feel that they belong to a group who will support them and provide them guidance. When I drop my boys off at their school, they know so many of the students regardless of how old they are. They play sports together, they look after each other when someone is hurt (I have had some of the older students even approach me after school when my youngest had been hurt playing, asking how he was because they had helped him to a teacher to receive care for his cuts) and they are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Being a smaller school, their teachers know them so well and I have had great conversations about my boys, their learning and how they behave in the yard with many teachers outside of their home classroom.

Building Strong Communities Starts at School #CatholicTeachers

Being a part of a faith based community and learning to give back to others is so important for children as they grow up. Learning these important life lessons in school from their teachers is crucial for instilling these values at a young age. Ontario Catholic Teachers play a huge role in creating well rounded, thoughtful students who understand the importance of community and giving back to others.

Lessons for Life – Cheryl Can’t Sleep from OECTA on Vimeo.

Disclosure:  This post is part of the YummyMummyClub and Ontario’s Catholic Teachers #CatholicTeachers sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

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Win with State Farm® Canada and Telematics #BeABetterDriver

WIN with State Farm® Canada and Telematics #BeABetterDriver

Car insurance is one of the most important purchases you will make as an adult and as a driver. As a driver, you want to ensure that you get the best possible rate but still have the appropriate amount of coverage. Not always an easy task right?

State Farm® Canada wants to make insurance easier for you and have been doing so since 1938. Quality service and relationships are at the heart of what State Farm® Canada does and now you can connect with them 24/7 via their mobile app. This easy to use app puts a lot of control into your own hands when it comes to your insurance. You can access the Telematics program, the Alert program and you can even manage your insurance and make a claim, all from your smart phone where and when you want to do so.

WIN with State Farm® Canada and Telematics #BeABetterDriver

The Telematics Program is connected to the mobile app and is the first fully mobile telematics program in Canada!

You are probably sitting there wondering what is telematics and why does this matter to me?

Telematics is State Farm® Canada’s usage based insurance program that allows you, the driver, to learn more about your driving habits and in turn rewards you with additional savings on your car insurance based on how you drive. It can monitor how you brake, start, speed and how much you actually travel. All of your good driving habits will add up in savings for you – you can save up to 25% on your car insurance, who doesn’t want to save that kind of money?!

Signing up for the program is as easy as visiting the App Store or Google Play and downloading the app. Once the app is downloaded, you can  sign up directly for Telematics and begin to monitor your driving. You can monitor your score in real time and it also helps to challenge you to improve your driving skills, who doesn’t love a good challenge?

State Farm® Canada wants to reward you and encourage you to be a better driver with a fantastic giveaway!

From now until July 31st, Ontario residents can enter to win 1 of 50 $100 Amazon gift cards! Entering is as simple as visiting the contest website, entering the contest and then downloading the State Farm Canada app. GOOD LUCK and happy driving!

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Building Memories, Confidence and Life Long Friendships with Girl Guides of Canada

Building Memories, Confidence and Life Long Friendships with Girl Guides of Canada

“Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada enables girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world.” Girl Guides of Canada

The early years of childhood right up until the teen years can be difficult to navigate, both for children and parents. As a child, we want freedom to grow and learn, but we don’t always have the opportunity to experience the life lessons we need to grow and mature. As parents, we want to empower our children to be confident, to be leaders, to be brave and to always do the right thing. No tough job, right?

I remember my childhood vividly. I was always on the shy side. I liked to read my books (I am still a bookworm), I liked healthy competition and I enjoyed being with my friends once I was able to get over my shyness. I entered the world of Girl Guides as a Brownie at the age of seven and this began a journey for me that would last up until I moved away from home to attend university.

Building Memories, Confidence and Life Long Friendships with Girl Guides of Canada

I fell in love with the spirit of the Guiding community – you were a part of a group of girls that wanted you to succeed, wanted you to be active, have fun, laugh and be silly. I loved learning a variety of skills that I would never have had the opportunity to learn elsewhere, everything from sewing badges to changing light bulbs to starting a campfire to finances. I was such a competitive spirit and loved to earn as many badges as I possibly could. Girl Guides helped me to realize my potential and gave me the confidence I needed as a shy child to succeed.

Building Memories, Confidence and Life Long Friendships with Girl Guides of Canada

The friendships that I have gained over the years from Girl Guides have meant the world to me. In 1999, as a Pathfinder, I was able to participate in Canadian Mosaic ’99 in Alberta. This event drew Girl Guide members from around the world in a celebration of our history, our future and empowering young girls to thrive. It was an incredible week of canoeing, hiking, archery, talent shows and more – we even attended the Calgary Stampede. Even the freezing weather and rain could not hold us down. It was here that I made friends with some special ladies who I would continue to remain friends with even though continents separate us! When I had my first child, one of my friends who I had met from Australia sent a special Aussie package for our little one. When she had her first child, we sent her a special Canadian package for her precious little one. The friendships that I gained during my Guiding years have survived separation over different continents, growing our families and more. These friendships have meant the world to me.

Girl Guides of Canada provide young girls with a safe place to be who they want and are meant to be. They offer a wide range of opportunities for young girls to participate in the outdoors, arts, science, community service and personal growth. These experiences lay the framework for young girls to succeed and push to achieve their goals. It helps to motivate young girls to follow their passion and to never give up. I now have the opportunity to give back to other young girls by encouraging them to follow their own dreams. I have shared the badges that I have collected over the years and had sewn onto my Guiding poncho with new members of Guiding and have encouraged them to participate in local, national and international Guiding opportunities that open up a new world for them.

Building Memories, Confidence and Life Long Friendships with Girl Guides of Canada

Participating in your local Girl Guides of Canada group is simple – each branch starts up in September and wraps up in late spring. Girls participate in weekly meetings and how much they want to participate and lead is up to them. The meetings are friendly, welcoming and encourage participation from all members, no matter what skill level. Girls of any age can join, even girls as young as five years of age!

Were you a member of the Girl Guides of Canada? What was your best memory from your Guiding years?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Girl Guides of Canada, Ontario Council. All opinions expressed are my own.

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