Friday 25 June 2010

Dance like no one's watching

Here are a couple links. The first one is part of Alexandria's Kindergarten graduation yesterday. She's definitely got the music in her. I LOVE that she felt like dancing and she danced. It didn't matter she was the only one doing it. I hope she keeps that up.

The next link is last night at the Mass Chicken Dance in Kitchener. Alex in her dirndl and Zach in lederhosen borrowed from Shannon. :) So cute!!

I will get pictures up at some point!

Update: Here's a link to Rogers Daytime. You can see Zach (and Mommy's legs) at 3:08 and briefly catch Mommy in her sunglasses and braids (wearing a dirndl) in the bottom right at 4:25.

Monday 21 June 2010

Woman in Motion!

Man in Motion came on the radio while I was driving home with the kids last night, and yes, John Parr spoke to me. Remember the song? From St. Elmo's Fire? Love it.

"Just once in his life
A man has his time
I'm coming alive!!"

I'm standing at this precipice. When I look back I see the person I "should" be. The one that went out everyday and worked for someone else and brought home a decent paycheck. (With a BlackBerry, company van and expense account... Yes... I miss those things.) That was a very comfortable place. When I was in it, it felt like a good place. (Did I mention I miss the van?)

As I stand and look forward I see a world of possibilities. It's an exciting time. I've just been approved to go ahead and start my business without worrying about losing my benefits. (We need those benefits!)

Starting my own business? Crazy? Hells ya! Especially when hubby is not a traditional bring-home-the-bacon kinda guy. He was/is stay-at-home daddy guy who works part-time (and who is also looking at becoming self-employed soon...)

Am I excited? YES! Am I scared? Shitless. Is this business viable? Yes. (OK... I don't know.. but like my theme song says "I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so...   But 'til I try I'll never know!") Is this the best thing for my family? I truly believe so. Creating and helming my own business will be A LOT of work, but it will be FLEXIBLE work. If I need to take an hour off during the day to see my Baby Girl graduate from Kindergarten, I can do that. Then, I can work those hours after the kids are in bed.

I'll be putting myself out there like never before. This is me. My ideas. My neck. If this doesn't fly, it'll be a blow to the self-esteem in ways that will make being laid off look like a laughable life-glitch.

As I stand overlooking this precipe, again my theme song plays in my head:

"It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and LEAP!"

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Seriously dude...

What is with Zach?! I swear the dude's regressing. We've let him have "3 years and up" toys since around the time he turned two because he never put them in his mouth. He never tried to chew on die cast cars, or Thomas and Friends or any of that stuff.

Now that he's turned three and can "officially" have that stuff? He's putting everything into his mouth! We've tried, "Only food goes in your mouth"; "If something goes in your mouth it gets taken away" (and that happens immediately, no other warning); "You'll lose all the big kid toys if they keep going in your mouth"; etc, etc. We have no idea what's up. It seemed to be working. Until yesterday.

Zach was in the playroom when I started to smell that familiar, yet dreaded, smell wafting from the basement. Yup. He's still in diapers. That's a whole 'nother blog post series right there. I told him to head upstairs to his room so I could change his butt. He went up ahead of me, but went to the living room. I kept going to his room and called him up. He toddled up. I picked him up and laid him on his change table. I was just about to start de-pantsing him when I heard that non-sound every parent dreads. The non-sound of my child choking. I immediately angled him forward, bent him over himself and out it came. (Thank God it came right out!) He had put the little metal piece that the magnet sticks to on the tv stand doors! What the frick, Zach!!

I yelled, "That is NOT ok!" He looked at me, dam about to burst. I said, "Did that scare you?" His little reply came back, "Uh huh." I told him, "It scared Mommy, too." We just hugged for a minute. I squeezed him pretty hard. Then I tried to use it as an example of why we don't put things, other than food or drink, in our mouths! I tried to take him back, "Was that scary when that piece went down your throat and you couldn't breathe?" ... "What if it didn't come out like it did this time?" ...

I hope that scary incident changes things going forward... If there is a next time I might not be right there... I don't even want to think about it...

** On a side note: I knew as soon as I pushed him up I had done it wrong. Since he had been on his back, I shouldn't have propped him up that way. In doing so, I could have easily helped the piece go down farther. I should have rolled him over so he was hanging over the side of the change table. That way gravity would not have been working against us. Luckily, it all turned out ok.

Saturday 5 June 2010

An evening of food, fun and tough questions.

Last week I attended a Maple Leaf Foods roundtable event I had been invited to. Maple Leaf Foods reached out to bloggers via Matchstick. The invitation was for "an opportunity for you to learn about that commitment [to food safety], and to ask questions directly of Maple Leaf executives, including Michael McCain, and food safety experts who will also attend." I was intrigued. How often to you get to ask questions directly to the President and CEO of such a large company? And I looked at as a great opportunity to mingle and get to know some others bloggers and people I've gotten to know via Twitter (which is completely awesome, by the way.)

We started the evening by mingling - and munching on yummy appetizers such as Natural Selections turkey - in the lobby the ThinkFOOD! Innovation centre.

That's also where Michael McCain and Sharon Beals (Senior VP, Food Safety & Quality Assurance) came around and introduced themselves to every one of us. Simple, but impressive touch.

We then moved into another room for the talks, a Q&A session and some food (really good food!)

The cynical side of me figured I was in for an evening of spin and great-sounding promises. The trusting side of me hoped I would hear some real human beings speaking from their heart.

So, why did Maple Leaf Foods even hold this event? Was it to use to blogging community to market for them, get the word out that they're doing everything they can to make sure the tragedy of August 2008 does not repeat itself? Or was it to have the opportunity to genuinely reach out to the people whose lives they affect on a day-to-day basis with their products?

Why does Maple Leaf Foods want to make sure another tragedy does not happen? Is it because they know as a company they would be pretty much decimated? Or is it because they truly, on a basic human level, are heartsick that they were the cause and are doing everything in their power to make sure something like that never happens again?

I think the answers to those questions are ALL yes. Of course the president and executive want to protect the interest of the company. They have to. That's their job. They lost a lot of money because of the listeriosis outbreak, and of course, their reputation was shaken. However, after having seen Michael McCain and Sharon Beals speak that night, I truly believe what they said came from the heart, too. When it came to food safety, it wasn't about spinning the events. They stood there and took full responsibilty for what happened. Period. Michael McCain simply said, "My only wish is that I knew then what I know today."

Now, what are they doing about it? You can take a look at their food safety pledge here. They brought on some key staff, such as Ms Beals, and Chief Food Safety Officer, Dr Randy Huffman. They've put $20 million into upgrades - and they will continue to as technologies improve - to enhance their ability to win the war in food safety.

And it is a continuous battle. Listeria is everywhere. It's likely in your house right now. What we all need to do is make sure it doesn't end up in our bodies.

Mr McCain states food safety is a daily process and discipline that is constantly being refined - he called it a journey of improvement. He also wanted to note that "it is impossible to commit to perfection. It can't be done. The pledge states we are committed to do everything we can and we are committed to excellence."

So, what are they doing to show they are committed to excellence? They are not only complying with the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) but measuring performance against the standards set out by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative).

Ms Beals stated they had performed 124,782 listeria tests last year. As mentioned earlier, "listeria is everywhere. Our job [at Maple Leaf Foods] is to make sure it doesn't get into the plant. If it does, we make sure it doesn't get into the food." They hold DAILY meetings at 8:30am about tests.

They also understand it's not just about the executive. Ms Beals said, "If the guy on the shop floor doesn't get it... We're only as strong as our weakest link." To ensure there are no weak links, they have innovative, interactive training sessions and their education is ongoing.

And I love Sharon Beals because she said, "That's not how we roll." Awesome.

I was convinced they are committed to food safety. Where it got a little 'spinny' for me was when things such as nitrates in food were brought up. I don't know enough about nitrates to comment on the subject, but the answers we got about nitrates being naturally occuring (which is true - in things such as spinach) didn't sit quite right with me.

Maple Leaf Foods has an incredible opporunity to really be pioneers in healthy food choices. I believe if they take a contrarian approach and get truly transparent with what's in their products - giving us the choice to eat the traditional foods with all the probably-really-bad-for-us crap in it or the stuff with only ingredients you actually recongnize - they can shift the perception of their being 'just a corporation' to truly being advocates for a healthier lifestyle and helping us live longer, higher-quality lives. Being who they are and the power they wield as such a large corporation, I think, gives them the responsibility to push for better, healthier conditions right from the start - way before the meat gets to their plants. They were grilled on this a bit by Maureen of Wee Welcome (nicely played, Maureen.)

One thing that truly impressed me was they gave us their material on a stick instead of folders with a bunch of paper. I think that speaks volumes about their company culture.

Of course we can't just leave it up to corporations and everybody else to control our safety. What can we do?

When you grocery shop, what is your pattern? Perimeter first? Produce, then maybe meat and cheese and such? The refrigerated section close to the beginning right? Well... food is refrigerated for a reason. The less time it's out the better. I know I'm guilty of that. I know I'll be changing that.

Where do you put your meat in the fridge? Always at the bottom? Sometimes above other food? That's a no-no. Raw meat should never be above anything else. It can drip and contaminate the other things in the fridge.

One of the positive things to come out of the H1N1 hype was the hightened awareness of simple things such as handwashing.

For more on what you can do, check out the food safety at home checklist.

Do I feel confident feeding my family Maple Leaf products? Yessir. Here is the chicken we were given to take home. Jean-Paul prepared a lovely dinner around it a few days later.

And since you've stuck with me this long, I have a giveaway for you. Along with the bag we were all given as bloggers, we were also given a bag of goodies to pass along.

This pack includes:
thermal bag (great for bringing home those refrigerated and frozen grocery items)
meat thermometer
2 packs of 'half-baked' bread
coupons to try some of their products that we got to eat at the roundtable event.

**To be eligible to this giveaway you must live in Canada.

Contest closes on Friday, June 11 at midnight and the winner will be announced and contacted by Monday, June 14 at the lastest. If you have not left an email with your comment, please check back to see if you've won. If it is a tweet that is the winner, that person will be contacted via Twitter. The winner will be posted both on Twitter and as a comment on this blog post.

The winner will be chosen at random using's true random number generator. Each comment will be numbered, as will the eligible tweets.

To participate:

Follow me on Twitter @JackiYo and tweet what you can do to improve your food safety and use the hashtag #MLFgiveaway. Please no more than two contest tweets per day.


Leave a comment on this blog about what you've done or will do ensure you and your family improve their food safety - or just what you're doing to stay healthy in general. One comment per day maximum.

So, you can have up to 3 entries per day by tweeting twice and commenting once.

Thanks for stopping by and I'm looking forward to your comments.

Disclosure: I was given a thermal bag of goodies including everything in the giveaway, as well as some meat products and gas cards for attending the roundtable. All opinions expressed are completely my own and I would never, ever promote anything I don't personally believe to be true.