Podcast: What A Sinking Ship Taught Me About Love


I don't know anything about the technicalities of podcasts, except that I've become very proficient at listening to them while I walk the dog. 

But lately, the idea of recording a podcast of my own kept sneaking up and tapping me on the shoulder — especially after the response to a recent essay I wrote about marriage.

My essay was picked up by a US blogging site and was very well received by my loyal readers (hello, you!). I do love an essay and all the space it leaves for adjectives and dramatics. In fact, writing in that style is the reason I chose to specialize in print instead of radio while in Journalism school many years ago (also because watching myself on video was excruciating). 

While JB is a huge supporter of my writing, he continually tells me I chose wrong and should be on the radio (it's a compliment, keep reading). I've always really enjoyed the interview process and had a great time as a returning guest speaker on a radio talk show while in grad school. I was often selected by peers to host our on-air shows because of the sound of my voice and my mentors thought it had a good pitch for the radio. 

When I graduated, I took on a part-time job at a telephone support line. Callers were randomly assigned to whichever phone line was free. But soon after I started, repeat callers began asking for the "girl with the voice" when they called. My office colleagues would press hold and shout across the cubicles, "Tony (as in Robbins), it's for you." That was over 15 years ago, and JB still teases me about it. 

In more recent years, I met media maven, Erica Ehm, for the first time. While we were chatting with a group, she stopped me while I was speaking and said, "Is it just me or does everyone else here feel like they could listen to her voice all day?" I had red cheeks for hours. 

So because this essay (a true story, by the way) had all the makings of a great podcast with its adjectives and dramatics, I recorded it using my iPhone (that makes it a podcast, right?). There are some glitchy background noises and some stumbles (note to self: drink a big glass of water next time), but I wasn't brave enough to edit them out this time. And I could have recorded it several times until I thought it sounded just right, but I decided to stick with the first and only cut. When I listen to it, it reminds me of the Magic Tree House audio books the kids and I listen to in the minivan (HA!). 

I don't know if I'll ever get the gumption to record another essay, but I'm glad I tried it once. Why not, right?

JB: I dedicate this to you and your belief that my voice belongs on air.

Click here to listen to: What A Sinking Ship Taught Me About Love

The Weight of Secrets


Every few nights, after a bath and brushing of teeth, she climbs onto my bed. Just her and me. 

Mama, I'm ready for some questions.

It was such a thoughtful gift for a five-year-old to receive for her birthday. And it suits her nature to have a book that asks open-ended questions: she has a habit of firing an endless steam of them at us each day. She loves this new ritual and having the roles reversed.

On this particular night, we were on our fifth question. It was more than we usually get through, but she had asked me to turn the page and ask one more with the promise she would slide of the bed and join her sister for a bedtime story without a fuss.

I felt awful when _______.

I expected something simple like not getting dessert or not being allowed to go to the park after dark. She normally has an answer ready for me, before I've finished asking the question.

But it was quiet.

I looked up from the page to see her sitting across from me in her footed pajamas. Her hands were laced on her lap, dimples peeking out between her fingers. I couldn't find her eyes through her lashes, because she was looking down. 

I knew I had to stay quiet, that something was coming. She raised her eyes slowly. 

Mama, it's a secret.

There is a child in her class who struggles with boundaries and respecting personal space. But we talk a lot about inclusivity in our home and she's still in that beautiful phase of life, when anyone she spends time with is called a friend. 

I was playing with my friends and she wouldn't stop chasing me and catching me, Mama. And I didn't like it, and I didn't want her to do that anymore. And I'm supposed to say, "Please stop it." But I didn't. I got mad and said, "Go away." 

She looked at me with tears in her eyes — afraid of hearing disappointment in my voice or being told that I thought she was wrong, too.

I started slowly by asking her when it had happened.

It was a long time ago. But it still makes me feel awful. I hurt my friend. 

Tears filled my eyes then. I told her I was so proud of her for telling me. And that it must have been hard for her to carry that secret around so long. I told her that I've hurt my friends, too. We talked about how she could have handled it differently, by going to her teacher for some support. And we came up with the idea of inviting her friend to play. 

Secrets can create such a weight. I've experienced that burden myself and ached with compassion for people I care about as I watch them struggle under the weight of their own secrets. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with Frank Warren, creator and curator of PostSecret. Along with a small group of other bloggers and writers, we discussed secrets and the power we feel when we let them go. We talked about how painful it can be to hold onto them. 

It's enough to bear witness to someone's story, without fixing it ~ Frank Warren

My daughter's story — which she called a secret — had been sitting in her heart waiting for an opportunity to be released. Our ritual of question-asking had created the conversation she needed to do that, and I could see she was lighter after sharing it with me.

It was a good reminder for me. We need to do that for each other: create conversations, leave spaces, and listen. And as a parent, I was reminded that it's never to early to give our children those tools and that fearlessness. 

Tomorrow night, I'll be attending the innovative live theatre performance of PostSecret and I'm hoping it will open my heart and teach me more. I have an important role to play as the catcher of secrets in my family. And I have some teaching to do, as I help my children learn to be a safe and compassionate place for others' secrets to land. 

To learn more about this beautiful and innovative initiative, you can find PostSecret on their website, on Facebook and on Twitter and Instagram. To buy tickets to the Toronto show, click here

My gratitude to Eric and Candace and #HALLer for including me in this experience. 








A Week of Bento School Lunches


Every Sunday afternoon, I drop my tiny dancer off at class and head to the grocery store nearby to stock up for the school week ahead. It's a newer ritual I've started in the past few months, to help me stay organized when it comes to my bento school lunches — something I'm still learning and perfecting after 10 years of lunch-making (somebody pin a medal on me).

Now I realize some of you may find it ridiculous that I make a dedicated trip to the grocery store for school lunches, but I find it keeps me on track for planning and only buying what we need. I also end up with less impulse purchases this way. It helps that I only have 45 minutes before I need to go back for my daughter, leaving me no time for distracted browsing.

I couldn't do it without my list. And, yes, I use one for my weekly grocery trips, too. I created a specific lunch box list on my favourite app, and it's been so helpful (it's easy to add and delete items when changing things up week-to-week. Or you can just ignore an item, but leave it on the list so it's there for a future trip). 

So how do I come up with my list? I map out a week of lunches — taking into account glorious pizza and hot lunch days — and then take a peek in my refrigerator and cupboards to see what needs to get topped up. Sometimes, I do a Pinterest search (I've been slowly building a board) for new ideas and add a new food/recipe to the weekly rotation (best not to try too many new things in a week). The kids are allowed (and encouraged) to throw their ideas in the ring, too. I also love this cookbook: The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches On The Planet.


I recently wrote a piece for Savvymoms about how I put my bento boxes together, but here is my simple formula for planning out the week: bite-sized + easy + colourful + familiar + healthy. 

I always include one or two foods I know my child will willingly eat, and then I might try something different or not as favoured (but healthy, nonetheless) in the other containers. By not overfilling the bento with too many options, I have also found they are more likely to eat what's there. 


Last week, I saved my list so I could share it with all of you for some inspiration/ideas (note: photos don't necessarily correspond with menu...I'm not THAT organized)

Day One:

Day Two:

  • bagel and cream cheese (I toast it in the morning, put together, and wrap in foil)
  • berry and pineapple fruit salad (left overs from a weekend fruit platter)
  • carrot sticks
  • muffin (again, from my freezer stock)
  • veggie straws

Day Three:

  • leftover beef stew (in a thermos)
  • watermelon slices
  • edamame beans
  • air popped popcorn (sprinkle some nutritional yeast on for cheesy, vitamin-packed flavour)

Day Four:

  • mini quiches
  • orange slices
  • red pepper strips
  • mini muffin
  • cheddar rice crackers

Day Five: 

  • mini naan bread pizzas (naan + pizza/tomato sauce + shredded mozarella for 8 mins at 375)
  • grapes
  • cauliflower and broccoli florets (and ranch dip in a dippers container)
  • tortilla chips and guacamole

I'm always happy to share more ideas or talk shop with my readers. Feel free to find me on Instagram, where I do the most sharing of the insides of my kids' lunch boxes.