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Toque Season Is Over… For Now…

It’s fair to say that most Canadians have a favourite winter accessory. For some, it’s a snowboard or skis or jacket. Maybe snowshoes, goggles or boots? For me? It’s my collection of toques. And now that it’s FINALLY spring, I can pack them away.

I couldn’t be sadder… or happier!

Okay, for those of you who are not acquainted with the word toque (like non-Canadians), here’s an explainer:

toque
tōk/
noun
  1. a woman’s small hat, typically having a narrow, closely turned-up brim.
    • historical
      a small cap or bonnet having a narrow brim or no brim.
    • CANADIAN
      a close-fitting knitted hat, often with a tassel or pom-pom on the crown.

       

wearing a toque in my house

I like my toques. You see, for a mom like me, they mask my hot mess looks. I typically work late into the evening, after my children go to bed, I’m pounding that keyboard. It’s not uncommon for me to be up until 1 o’clock in the morning. When that alarm goes off at 7:15am and then I subsequently hit snooze on that alarm two to three times to catch an extra nine minutes of sleep, I’m robbing myself of a shower. Shower, opportunity to blow dry my hair, etc… So I hide the fact that I’m not “looking my best”.

It’s like the zombie mom look. Those women are my people. Any mom I see dropping kids off to school in the morning wearing a toque in weather that’s questionable for multiple layers, I know what’s up. Momma, I’m right there with you.

So I’m sad that my messy hair will be exposed. I’m sad that I will have to move to the baseball hat look as I don’t find it nearly as flattering in terms of masking that cowlick or tangled rats nest in the back or for keeping the right amount of warmth in.

I am happy however that this means it’s finally getting warmer out and that the summer temperatures have arrived!wearing a toque in toronto

So farewell for now to my collection of toques and the colder weather season. The sunshine and warmer temperatures are very welcome right now. I’ll miss you oh “hider of bad hair”, but see you in six months!

 

What Not To Say To A Woman Who Is Pregnant and Overdue

I found this draft on my computer from a few years back! Both of my babies were overdue and clearly I was getting very crabby about the situation, especially during the last pregnancy.

My daughter went 12 days past her due date before I was taken in to be induced (before I finally gave in) and my son came seven days late. No matter where I went, everyone had something to say about how pregnant I was and it got under my skin.

I have compiled a list of things that should go without saying, but they were said, so I have to listthem for those who just really wanted to help, but actually made the moment a touch bitter…

What Not to Say to An Overdue Pregnant Woman:

pregnant and overdue

1. “Wow, you must be uncomfortable”.

Hmmmm, what gave it away? The extra 30-40 lbs I’m carrying? The waddling while walking? The 3 steps of pushing myself up off the couch? The 4-5 antacids a day for the stomach bile?

 

2. “My second one came out 2, 3 or 4 days/ weeks early!”

Cool, you’re superwoman. Go away.

 

3. “Have you tried having sex/orgasm?”

Isn’t that what got me into this mess?

 

4. “Are you eating spicy food?”

So much so I have the runs. Pass the hot wings please.

 

5. “Get a prenatal massage!”

I did, it’s the only way I can walk!

 

6. “Take a walk.”

Okay, I have google too and can look up ways of inducing labour. They’re not working! Would you like to join me swimming laps? I bet I can outlast you.

 

pregnant and overdue

7. “Yet?”

Can I punch you in the face yet?

 

8. “You’ll lose that extra weight in no time chasing two little ones around!”

Are you calling me fat?

 

9. “You got so much bigger this time around!”

Gee, thanks for the obvious observation. You see, my body has done this already before and it

remembered what to do.

 

10. “That baby is getting bigger inside you everyday. Birthing that is gonna hurt!”

Seriously?

 

Are there any more I missed? What did you get when you were overdue?

 

 

Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Vacation at Beaches Resorts

my son enjoying a coconutFor the past three years, my family and the family of my daughter’s best friend have taken our winter vacation together. In those past three years, we’ve enjoyed Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos twice and Beaches Resort in Negril once. We can honestly say that we are completely blown away by the atmosphere, the service, the staff, the experience… EVERYTHING that the Beaches Resorts have to offer!

We have already booked our vacation for this coming winter – even though we are 9 months away and guess what, we’re going to Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos again. Why? Well, it’s the Beaches Resorts difference.

Here are my Top 5 Reasons why I think you should consider a vacation at a Beaches Resort:

1.) Beaches Resorts reside on some of the best beaches IN THE WORLD.

Beaches Resorts Negril Beach

No joke! I have been on beautiful beaches in Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas. Then I step foot at the beach in Turks and Caicos and was impressed. Then… I walked on the beach and saw the sunset in Negril. That was it. It’s the best ever, the sand is so soft, the water so clean fresh, no seaweed, no rocks.

When the resorts were built, they were smart enough to choose a location that sits directly on the leeward side of the island, protected by offshore reefs. The reefs create the clearest and calmest waters for leisure swims and every type of water sport. That said, I have seen quite a bit of yellow and red flag beach days there, even then the water was calm for my expectations.

 

Pirate Island Beaches Resorts2.) Kids Camps and more!

Thankfully for parents who are travelling to the world class and award winning Beaches Resorts, they are going to a resort for families, not just a resort that happens to have a child care or kids clubs and adult only restaurants. Where you stay while you are on vacation makes a difference in the enjoyment and sanity of the family and I should know, I travel for leisure with my kids a few times a year!

Beaches Resorts offer choice to kids of all ages – Camp Sesame for the young ones, X-Box lounge for the ones who are a little older, Pirate Island Waterparks with slides and pools of various depths, lazy rivers, character breakfast and meet and greets with Sesame Street characters, learn to surf, learn to scuba, learn to golf… they kind of cover it all!

 

Beaches Resorts French Village Room3.) Aside from the impeccable beach, lush gardens, amazing pools, well stocked bars and fun waterslides at Pirate’s Island at Beaches Resorts, I have to tell you that one of our family’s favourite thing aspects of the Resort are the actual ROOMS.

They’re fancy. Like way nicer than what we live in at home, we were blown away when we first entered our room in the Caribbean Village in Turks and Caicos.

Each Beaches Resort has a myriad of different room categories to choose from to accommodate families of varying sizes, all very luxurious, The beds are comfortable, the rooms don’t feel crowded, they’re nicely appointed, contain mini fridges, coffee makers, hair dryers, safe for your passport and money. I’m really bad at taking room pictures before I never get in there before my own kids – so a photo from the Beaches.com website will have to do here.

 

stewfish in Negril Beaches Resorts4.) All inclusive food and drink – not cheap wine, good wine.

The signature wine for Beaches and Sandals Resort is Robert Modavi – those are from Napa Valley in California. Included wines are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other bottles of wine are available to purchase.

the beach from stewfish at Beaches ResortsWe have been to two our of three Beaches Resorts, Negril in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. Neither location had any dining choices that I ever would have deemed unacceptable, in fact, I would say that the dining is on or over par with some of the best culinary treats you can find in Toronto (where I live).

I have a favourite restaurant at each location! At Negril, there are 8 restaurants and a frozen yogurt hut. I couldn’t get enough of Stewfish for both breakfast and dinner – it’s right on the beach – menu link here.

Despite there being 22 restaurants at Beaches Turks and Caicos, and I have to narrow myself down to one choice, Sky Lounge is my preferred place. Menu link here. Note – breakfast is open to all ages, but dinner is only for those ages 16 and older… so it’s a perfect location for mom and dad’s night out.

 

Beaches Resorts Turks and Caicos5.) Unlimited water sports – unlike other resorts that will charge you for extras like snorkeling trips and scuba diving, it’s included.

 

I honestly could not believe that all of the water sports were included. I have been to so many other resorts where you have to pay for air tanks for diving or pay to rent snorkel masks and fins. It’s so lovely to be on vacation and not have to open your wallet or worry about extra charges to your credit card when you check out for the fun you are having… Unless you’re going through a course to become a certified diver, then yes there is a charge, but if you are already a certified diver, NO CHARGE to dive!

about to go snorkling at Beaches Resorts

No charge for fins, no charge for masks or air tanks. No extra charge to visit Pirate Island, hydro bikes, windsurfing, paddle boarding, taking out a Hobie Cat or to lounge in all the pools.

It’s truly incredible.

My family cannot wait for our return trip this winter. In the meantime, my son and I are looking forward to our trip to Turks and Caicos for social media on the sand in October! He and I might as well become honorary citizens in Turks and Caicos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelling With Hypothyroidism

I was diagnosed in 2013 with hypothyroidism and then subsequently with Hastimotos, an auto-immune disorder a couple months later. Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions.

Inflammation from Hashimoto’s disease, also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, often leads to an under active thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). Symptoms vary from individual to individual. Some people can live the majority of their lives and not know that “something is wrong”, much like I did until something was wrong – it was all simply my normal day to day. Other people can find themselves overtly suffering from:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Enlargement of the tongue
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
  • Depression
  • Memory lapses

While I have had to make some lifestyle changes and choices in terms of what I eat and exercise, one thing that has NOT changed is my love of travel and the immense wanderlust I feel when grounded in Toronto.

At first, I thought that travelling with with an autoimmune disorder was going to be a curse. I mean, I’d have to bring medication that I am going to be on every day for the rest of my life and deal with some of the symptoms that sometimes rear their ugly head… However, I have found that taking care of and managing hypothyroidism while travelling is very manageable.

If you are reading this, it’s likely because you have hypothyroidism or you will be travelling with someone who does have it. If you have any additional tips of your own of managing hypothyroidism while you are travelling, I’d love to read them.

Here are some of my tips to keeping on top of your hypothyroidism while travelling:

travelling with hypothyroidism1.) Take your medication at the same time everyday just like you would at home. When you are travelling within your same timezone, it’s easy, but when you are going forward or backward in time is when it gets tricky, but set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself.

2.) When you are flying or travelling by train, make sure you pack your medication in your carry on luggage too reduce the risk of it getting lost. I always pack a couple extra synthroid pills in my purse as a back up – in case my flight gets delayed going home or if I miss count my vacation or travel days.

3.) Bring a copy of your prescription just in case. We never want to have to do a run to a pharmacy, but you never know what can happen.

4.) If you have been put on a restricted diet by your doctor, do your best to stick to it. I’m one of the

lucky ones that passed the gluten sensitivity test, so I do not have to deal with celiac type symptoms as well, but I do have to avoid certain foods and ingredients or suffer from flare ups. The quickest way to send myself off kilter and ruin my week is by eating anything cooked in canola oil. Running to the salad bar at a buffet seems like a great idea, but you have to remember to steer clear of goitrogens (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) as well as foods from the soy food group (tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, soy milk, etc)

travelling with hypothyroidism

5.) Since it’s likely you’ll be dining out while travelling and not preparing your own meals, stick to ordering and consuming the following foods:

  • Eggs: Whole eggs are best, as much of the iodine and selenium are found in the yolk, while the whites are full of protein.
  • Meats: All meats, including lamb, beef, chicken, etc.
  • Fish: All seafood, including salmon, tuna, halibut, shrimp, etc.
  • Vegetables: Most vegetables are fine to eat. Cruciferous vegetables are fine to eat in moderate amounts, especially when cooked.
  • Fruits: berries, bananas, oranges, tomatoes, etc.
  • Source out gluten-free grains and seeds be safe: Rice, buckwheat, quinoa, chia seeds and flaxseed.
  • Dairy: All dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. is okay as long as you’re not consuming their foods 4-6 hours within taking your medication.
  • Beverages: Water and other non-caffeinated beverages.

6.) If you are doing hotel stays, try to book one with a gym so that you can stay on top of your fitness regime, as we all know as those suffering from hypothyroidism, we need to get moving, it’s a matter of life or death… even when we don’t have a shred of energy left, take 5 more steps.

Please note – I am not a doctor or a medical professional and I cannot give you advice about how to treat your thyroid condition. I am only sharing what works for me. Please consult your doctor or medical professional if you have any questions about your symptoms or medication.

 

 

 

Reprieve From The Chaos

My moment, a chance to escape. I lock the door. My reprieve from the chaos. I make noises like the toilet seat lifting, hitting the tank. I drop my belt on the floor for a dramatic sound effect.

I pause in front of the mirror. I thought this expensive lighting was supposed to make me look good? Leaning in… There’s blackheads on my nose, especially on the side, those pores are full, some dry skin between my eyebrows and to the right side of my nose. My chin has patches of red, dry, flaky… The crows feet under my eyes are getting more pronounced, if I stretch my skin, does that help make them go away? No. The bags, I guess they are called, well they’re a little deeper and they’re starting to look like light blue bruises. Too many late nights getting caught up on work after the kids go to sleep. Bruises to my sleep schedule.

“Now that line is deep”, I think to myself as I fixate on the middle of my forehead. A horizontal indent runs almost the full length. My eyebrows are pretty wild and un-plucked. I don’t think they’ve been waxed in a couple months. I’m not entirely sure that I brushed my teeth this morning. Floss? Okay, I’ll do that right now. Ow, it’s been awhile. Am I bleeding?

I think it’s been close to four, or three days since I’ve ventured outside, I’ve lost track. I remember… It was cloudy and snowing lightly. We went and got hot chocolate, it was the first day my daughter was home with the flu.

First my son was sick, spent days with a runny nose and then my daughter went down with sickness and she went down hard. After three days her fever has finally broken and she’s laughing watching Netflix. Whew.

Since I work from home, I’ve been the primary caregiver on the front lines of germ infested catastrophe.

Is that a white head by my hairline?, I’m just going give that a gentle squeeze. Yep, was a white head. 

*knock, knock*

Ignore it… It will go away.

“Mommmmmmmm”

*knock*

“Mommyyyyyy”

Damn

“Hey, I’m just pooping”.

“Mom I need you to be done because Mysticons is over”.

Sigh

“Okay buddy, Be out in one sec!” I say.

“Mom, I need you now. I want a snack.”

Snack. Ugh.

I pick my belt back up, thread it through my jeans. One last look in the mirror. Once I get a shower and put on mascara, I’ll feel a lot better.

“Mom!”

“Yes dear?” I respond.

“Are you coming?”

I open the door and look down at the little smile facing up at me.

“Mom, you didn’t flush the toilet.”

 

 

 

 

Bow Down To Our Sweet, Golden Sappiness

What’s more Canadian than our friend, Joe? You know Joe Canadian? That guy from the Molson commercial? He’s not a lumberjack or a fur trader and doesn’t speak American…

It could be the humble knowledge that we look damn good on skates and know how to handle a stick that’s so damn Canadian?

Maybe it’s the way we Canadians are hatched, born of ice and water and polite enthusiam…

(*** total disclaimer, that’s really not how Canadians are born. We come out of a woman’s birth canal, just like the rest of you***)

If I had to go with a symbol or product that defines Canada… I’d go with this:

Maple syrup. That sweet, sweet golden, but sometimes amber and dark, sappy nectar. Oh yes, bow down to our sweet, golden sappiness.

Now, I don’t really eat maple syrup on any of my food, except to dip my pancakes into… just a dip, nothing more and not a whole lot of pancakes in my diet… Okay fine, once a year at best, however my kids will consume it ten times more a year than I will, but as a Canadian, it’s my right to have access to it (disclaimer: it’s not really a right, just a verbal Canadian right). And the long drawn out process of tapping the maple trees and collecting the sap in a bucket and filtering and bottling? Well, despite my lack of a sweet tooth of our golden, sappy nectar, in my eyes, it’s a very important tradition to pass down to my children. Even if they cannot stand being outside in the cold.

My Canadian born and bred children need to know that the process of making maple syrup comes from ancient indigenous customs, that only certain regions and climates are lucky enough to produce maple syrup AND THEREFORE EVERY YEAR I WILL DRAG THEM OUT IN THE COLD to see that bucket hanging from the tree collecting sap (sap is made as the tree mixes ground water with the sugar. The sap is mostly crystal clear water with about 2% sugar. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make each gallon of maple syrup which has a sugar content of 66.9%). I’ll make them watch it being boiled down. They’re going to watch it evaporate… okay only for a bit, I get bored of that too.

But most importantly, they need to taste the maple candy that one can get from maple syrup festival locations like Bronte Creek where this year’s pictures were taken.

I can’t think of anything more Canadian… for now.sappiness maple candymaple candy made from the golden sappiness