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This was our ‘dirty’

Looking back, I can see why my parents continued to fork over what was a considerable sum of money so that I could keep up with my dance classes. I still have no idea how they managed to afford it since I find two children’s activities costly, and they had four. But they did. Somehow.

Sure, they knew I loved it. And I begged to take as many classes as could humanly be squeezed into a highschooler’s schedule. Only now, as a parent myself, do I start to realize there could have been another reason.

Dirty-Dancing-movie-08[1]You see, while other highschoolers were indulging in house parties on the weekend, my circle of dance friends would get together and watch Dirty Dancing. We just never tired of it. I have no idea how many times we repeatedly watched this film (and White Nights — of course!) during those late 80s years.

I hadn’t seen Dirty Dancing since then, though. In honour of Patrick Swayze’s death, I just watched this iconic scene “Nobody puts Baby in a Corner.” The fact that Swayze is just as fabulous as what I remember didn’t surprise me. What did was that we actually considered this “dirty.” Compared to today’s pump-n-grind antics on the dance floors, this dirty dancing seems downright virginal.

Get it now? My parents must have thought that every penny spent on dance classes was worth it if it meant that my weekends were occupied with such relatively innocent behaviour — chocolate consumption and Dirty Dancing.

I’m sure glad they did. Cause I had the time of my life.

R.I.P.

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SIGG: not so super, afterall?

Sending back my Siggs

Sending back my Siggs

We’ve been using Sigg bottles for ages. And that really says something, since we don’t spend our money lightly on fads. We’re talking $30 for a water bottle to put in a child’s lunch box. When there’s a plastic alternative that’s less than $5, we’ve clearly drawn a line in the sand.

Why? It’s enviro-friendly not to be constantly purchasing plastic water bottles all the time. Sigg bottles are also extremely tough and survive even the worst treatment — from my husband’s camping trips to the disaster that is the back of my car. And last but not least, we didn’t want any chemicals to be leaching into the water we drink.

Naturally, then, I was surprised to find that the inner liner of my Sigg bottles contained BPA. Thinking back now, I can’t actually recall ever reading that Sigg didn’t contain BPA, but I had somehow linked the Sigg brand with safety.

Sigg is now fighting the PR battle of its life. And it all started with a proud announcement that it had developed a new liner — the EcoCare liner — which is apparently 100% BPA-free. This caused many existing customers who’d been using the older models to step back in alarm: “Huh? That means my old liner was not 100% BPA-free?” (Here is the letter from Sigg’s CEO explaining the whole mess.)

Yep, that’s right. Sigg may not be so super, afterall. I’ve recommended these bottles to countless friends. And frankly, the levels of BPA potentially present from the old liners is hardly anything to worry about. (Here is an independent study on BPA levels, published by Z Recommends.) But still … I feel like I was duped and I feel silly for pushing these pricey bottles on my friends.

Sigg is now voluntarily replacing (note: this is not a recall) customers’ old bottles for ones with the new liners. If you’d like to send yours back, go online to www.mysigg.com/liner and click on the menu item “Exchange Program.” Be sure to download the shipping label for Canadian customers.

Naturally, there are many who will refuse to use Sigg products again. They’ve simply lost trust in this brand. If you fall in this boat, here is a comprehensive review of alternative BPA-free bottles for you to choose from.

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Letter from South Korea: Part 1

How does a recent graduate stay hopeful?

The unemployment rate for youth climbed to 14.9 per cent in May, says Stats Can. One in five young adults have moved in with a friend or relative, says Maclean’s. Most are suffering from recession anxiety, says the Calgary Herald.

If you’re graduating soon, recently graduated or a parent of one of the former, I hope you’ll take heart with this “Letter from South Korea” post.

Below, you’ll find Part 1 of my interview with a 24-year-old recent graduate from a Canadian university who has chosen to teach English as a second language in South Korea.

Meaghan Harrison @ National Museum of Korea

Meaghan Harrison @ National Museum of Korea

Her name is Meaghan Harrison, and she’s a fiesty young woman who I’ve known since birth. I’ve always admired her beautiful outlook on life. Hand her lemons and she honestly wouldn’t think to do anything else but throw a lemonade party.

What made you decide to leave Canada?

Ever since I was a little girl and saw my big sister (you might know her, she happens to write an interesting blog in Ottawa) travel after university, I knew I wanted to do the same. I thought I might do some back-packing around Europe, but that didn’t really fit well with my economic situation. Teaching overseas is the perfect way to meet both of my goals: travel and pay-off student debt.

Job opportunities are pretty limited in Canada right now. You can take a low-wage entry position (which I did for a while), but this makes it extremely difficult to make rent and pay-off student debt. I actually made more money waitressing, but I wanted to get into something different.

 How did you pick South Korea?

Gyeonbokgung Palace

Gyeonbokgung Palace

As soon as I decided I wanted to do teaching abroad, I started researching on the internet and contacting friends that had done the same thing. I just kept hearing great things about South Korea and I got in touch with a recruiter who really helped me decide that South Korea was the place to do. Some of the other Asian countries are more expensive to live in, and South Korea has a reputation for better contract and employment conditions.

Have you always been interested in teaching?

In some ways, I always have been … but I never thought I would want to be a teacher as a full-time job. I enjoy working with children and I also did some hockey coaching for youth when I was in university. And I can remember, when I was very little, that I used to hold classrooms in my bedroom for my stuffed animals! I even gave out assignments and graded how each one did; I think my stuffed lion animal was my best student!

With students

With students

Now that I am actually teaching full-time, I can definitely see myself doing this when I return to Canada. I really love my job. I teach kindergarten level now and if I end up teaching back in Canada, I would like to teach older children. But this is an excellent way to start – if you can teach six-year-olds to read, write and speak English, then anything is possible!

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!

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Thursday’s Thought

“I realized the power writing has, and it has also helped me deal with my rage … It gave me a lifelong commitment not to be afraid to speak out about injustice.” — Dominick Dunne

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A movie about blogging

I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t been out to the movies much in, say, oh … the last seven years. Yes, coincidentally, since I’ve become a parent. So, I might be wrong here, but the movie Julie & Julia was the first movie that I know of with blogging as a central focus.

Even though I couldn’t care less about Julia Child, and cooking in general for that matter, I was excited to see this movie. And that had everything to do with the blogging.

I first became fascinated with blogs when I was on maternity leave with my daughter in 2002. I had gone from running on a non-stop ride of intellectual stimulation as a full-time senior communications advisor who was also finishing up a Master of Arts thesis (yeah, baby, I collected that piece of paper with a very big belly!) to spending my days with a creature (sure, I grant you, an enormously cute creature) who didn’t speak, much less seem interested in discussing literature. So, during nap times, I turned to the internet.

The internet granted me a way to connect with others. The internet was my best friend.

Well, that’s not exactly true. But it was a friend that could meet an erratic feeding schedule, a friend that could comment and share opinions on being a new mother, and a friend that assured me I wasn’t the only one who was knee-deep in culture shock.

The books at Chapters didn’t tell me the real scoop on this new motherhood thing; they were full of rosey tales or sanctimonious pronouncements. The internet, on the other hand, had a wicked sense of humour. And although it seems to be considered an “inferior” form of blogging these days, the mommy-bloggers were a salvation of sorts.

From there, I started lurking around on all sorts of blogs. I loved reading people’s perspectives. Un-edited perspectives.

On blogs, one finds marital spats, frustrated swearing, blissful swearing, dirt and fairy dust. In short, real life. For someone like me who can’t stop reading, blogs are reality tv — but better.   

And just like reality tv, blogs can get messy. Dooce got fired. Raymi the Minx got undressed. And countless others shut themselves down voluntarily to stop the hate mail.

I expected a movie about blogging to step into some of this mud. Afterall, it was the real life story of Julie Powell, who started up a blog in 2002 when she was a newly wed and still searching out a career path.

Julie & Julia does touch on some key topics, like balancing the blog with your other real-life relationships and the fine line between expressing yourself versus invading the privacy of your loved ones. But it didn’t go deep enough for me. Or real enough. Or just enough — maybe I just wanted more.

What did you think?

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“Because you’re worth it.”

L’Oréal’s “Because you’re worth it,” slogan is a great one.

As the old saying goes, women, especially mothers, never take time for themselves because they are so busy caring for others. With this slogan, L’Oréal gives you the permission to spend money on yourself, to spend time on yourself. It’s a bit of an anthem of sorts, really.

Although ‘L’Oréal’s origin is Paris,  L’Oréal Canada is a strong Canadian business in and of itself. Here are but a few examples of what I am talking about:

Strong supporter of women in science: Since 1998,  L’Oréal Canada, in partnership with UNESCO, has offered generous postgraduate scholarships to young Canadian women scientists involved in promising research projects. For more details on how the company supports women in science.

Family-friendly employer: Any employee who works more than 22 hours a week is eligible for a generous health and benefits package and there is no waiting period for coverage. Of particular note is the on-site daycare provided to employees returning from maternity or paternity leave (which is 100% top-up pay for 17 weeks), staffed by 7 daycare workers.  L’Oréal Canada is often recognized for its status as an employer of choice, and this goes well beyond being family-friendly. For more details.

DiversityL’Oréal Canada has also been recognized for its efforts in diversity. Among the company’s initiatives is a unique training program on inter-generational relations in the workplace and the focus it brings to the career development of women employees and disabled people. For more details.

There’s also the basic economic benefits of having such a vibrant company housed in Canada. Over the years, L’Oréal Group has made sigificant investments in Canada, the most recent of which was $24 million into its L’Oréal Canada Quebec-based plant.

It was this particular investment that was the topic of my recent writing assignment, but I couldn’t help but be convinced that not only was I “worth it,” but that buying L’Oréal was worth it.

If you’re going to buy, you might as well buy from a company that supports Canadians.

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Moms have Power

online momMore breaking news to add to the “do not host a party where you intentionally hope your children catch an illness of pandemic proportions” that I reported on last night. This time … okay, are you ready? Here it is: moms have power.

Gee, moms rule the nest? Who knew.

Okay, in all seriousness, I do think the article is note-worthy even though I already know that I am all-powerful. Here’s why: it suggests that online marketers are not tapped into the “mom demographic” despite the fact that:

  • Moms control 85% of household spending
  • Are worth more than $2 trillion to U.S. brands, as reported by the Marketing to Moms Coalition
  • Over 78% of moms with children under 18 were employed in 2000 according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Working out of the home, telecommuting, or running a business from home, media technology and the Internet have become true enablers.

“Are Brands Ignoring Moms”: the full article.

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