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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Keto

Struggling to lose weight? Compulsive/ emotional eater? Foodie? Then listen up, I am a huge advocate for finding the right eating plan for your own body. I have tried nearly all of them to see what was the most suitable for me; concluding that it can vary on your goals. Is it for weight loss? Or improving health? Or maybe simply improving the complexion of your skin? Whatever the case may be, I recognize that one size does not fit all and it can take some time to figure out what works best for your body type. I know I'm late on the bandwagon for this particular method of eating and I wanted to first lay down the facts about the ketogenic diet. How does Keto work? Firstly know that the ketogenic diet was originally created for epileptic patients it was not necessarily designed for weight loss, however celebs have been rooting for this diet as it allowed them to have enough energy to get through a good workout while losing weight quickly. By severely reducing carbohydrate intake (carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body by converting it into sugars), when there are little/no carbs to use for energy, your body will convert fat stores into its' energy source and begin burning fat. Let's face it, I am a massive foodie. As an adventurous eater I have always found it hard to stay in control of my weight. Regardless of how healthy I was eating, I went plant-based for a long while but found that my body wasn't converting the high amounts of carbs well and instead of losing weight I started to gain and not gaining just a little bit, I gained so much I couldn't recognize myself in the mirror anymore. This lead to the discovery that I was insulin resistant. A good friend suggested that I try out the Ketogenic diet and see how it goes. She had done it before and did amazingly on it, needless to say I was excited to give it a try. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when starting out but when you get into the swing of things you quickly realize how simple and delicious this diet can be. Here are 10 tips I wish I had known when first starting out. 1.Keto flu- The infamous Keto flu was anticipated but I wasn't sure how I would react. Short of a fever, you may get symptoms you are likely to associate with the flu; fatigue, headache, cramps, malaise, diarrhea. Everyone will react differently, in my case there was a general feeling of malaise and leg cramps. 2.Water- Make sure you flush out your system with tons of water. Water will help ease the effects of Keto flu symptoms and kickstart your body into ketosis. It will also reduce your hunger substantially especially by drinking at least 250 mL before each meal and throughout the day. 3.Magnesium- Taking a Magnesium supplement will help minimize the effects of the Keto flu. 4. High fat- Keep your fat count as high as you can. Avocados, oil, butters, cream including coconut cream are excellent sources of adding fats to your diet. Think 70%, 20%protein, 10% carbs. This ratio should be thought of when preparing each meal. If you are not meeting your fat intake needs you can use MCT oil, although quite expensive it is highly effective. 5. Moderate protein- Protein can add up so you should be quite cautious here. Especially if you are consuming animal products. Nuts, seeds, olives and eggs are your best choices to add in enough protein. By eating meats you can easily go far over your protein quotient so keep track when animal protein is involved. 6. Salt- Sodium is essential to balance electrolytes which can lead to a feeling of malaise if not adding enough into your meals. 7. Alcohol- If you are a casual drinker, shunning this treat can be difficult and often leads to failure on most diets. Alcoholic beverages are loaded with calories which is why it is not recommended on restrictive caloric diets. However all is not lost for the keto diet in this day and age but there are rules. Avoid beer, stick to 1 carb or less beverages this can include vodka soda beverages and spirits (rum, gin, vodka) and a diet or sugar free mixer, again double check the carbs! 8. Intermittent fasting- If you are serious about losing massive amounts in a short time frame you might want to consider intermittent fasting. If you are a busy body, then this might come easily after the first 48 hours. Keeping yourself busy once your body has adapted to this way of eating will easily deter your mind from looking for a snack. Where most diets will have you panging for something to eat, a keto body will still be fueled from the fats it has stored from the days before. A great method to follow is the 18:6, 18 hours of fasting and a 6 hour window of eating all your meals. Consider 12pm as your first meal and 6 pm for your last meal. Finish your last meal at least 3 hours before you go to bed. 9. Monkfruit/Erythritol sweetener- I found these products to be the best option for sweetening foods. Baking, sauces, coffee/tea, everything is covered by this natural sweetening alternative. No carbs, no sugar and will keep you satisfied if you have a sweet tooth like me. They come in granulated sugar alternative, confectioner's sugar and brown sugar replacement. There is no reason not to include your favourite sweetened snacks with this sweetener handy. 10. Keto app- Find a Keto app that works for you. By having one to follow, you are not likely to slip up and can log in your progress as the days go by. Some apps have barcode readers so that you can quickly look up carb counts on products at the grocery store. *Bonus tip: The ketogenic diet can be used in vegan/vegetarian diets. Although there might be limitations to what you can have, it's not impossible. As with any new diet plan, please talk to a doctor before beginning and ask if this is a good plan for you. Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2021!!

Hiking through a Pandemic

This has been a long time coming. A moment amongst the stars, beneath the trees, a whiff of freshly cut grass, the scent of flowers in bloom and the awe of chasing waterfalls. For many it has been a time of reflection, of re-purpose; of truly recognizing the soul connection of our being to influence the dynamic of our lives and possibly those around us as well. If you connect with the words I have just wrote this piece might be one for you. It was mid March when we had returned from our trip to Victoria, B.C. freshly acquainted to mountain-scaping on the west coast of Canada in the midst of late winter, to visit old friends and our family. We recognize how incredibly fortunate we were for the opportunity and timing of the Canadian border closure all shutting down by midnight on March 17th. Sitting on the edge of our seats, we found we were leaving the day that San Francisco went into quarantine. A cousin of mine was given a 24 hour notice to leave his home there to return to Victoria where we just missed being able to see each other again by a hairline. The day he got home was the day we left. Not knowing what would be in store for us upon our return to Toronto, especially for the kids; we reluctantly boarded for the journey home for our own two week self-isolation. Now that we are into phase 3 of the Pandemic, I will be posting our adventures there in articles and Instagram posts to come. As of a few weeks ago, Ontario has been embracing the carefully guided re-openings of businesses everywhere. Still timid about the possibility of acquiring or transmitting the highly contagious COVID-19, we gingerly created a plan to re-integrate ourselves and our kids back into society. Our first stop? Walking through forests. I am very thankful that my kids are always wanting to engage in nature and explore new places. Now, that provincial parks had re-opened we packed up a picnic and headed out into the depths of the "local" (meaning within a one hour drive, because you know... washrooms) park. Let's not forget sunscreen and bug spray. Our Canadian winters (specifically, southern Ontario) can see deep freezes into the -30ºC, so upon springtime we tend to absorb in every bit of above zero temperatures we can relish. Not this year. As we spent endless hours, playing every board game, reading every book on Liam's shelf (which by the way I will create another post on our all time favourites that we think you can not pass up, Jolly Postman *wink, wink*; also not sponsored), finding crafts and activities that we could think of while still remaining in the confines of our home we felt an immense sigh of relief when we entered Phase 2; as everyone who has gone through this has felt. We made our trip to the forests a game, in that Liam was a grand adventurer traversing different realms in the depths of the forest where no one could find us in our little jungle on this side of the Northern Hemisphere. We walked for hours until we were too tired to walk anymore, but in our little escape to the backwoods of the country we felt rejuvenated and able to tackle the next phase of this notorious pandemic. Liam had so much fun being out amongst nature and learned natural science along the way, from the different species of birds, plants and how animals interact with nature. It is such a beautifully natural way of living that I often wonder why we don't spend more time listening to them, I mean to say listen to the animals. Liam not only felt renewed, he felt refreshed, reclaiming his old self; acting and being how any 5 year old should be (curious, excited about new things, wanting to do the best they can, sparking the imagination.) If you are able, instead of dreading about taking your kids to the local parks and the close proximity to others you and your child could potentially be in, find a nature trail and pack a picnic. Have your child choose a treat, a stuffy/toy and book to take along with them, maybe even a bike if they are able to ride through well groomed trails and don't forget that water! You never know what magic you will find by exposing your kids to the natural world in this crazy time. It could help soothe your energy as well as theirs. We have already traversed through five provincial parks in the past two weeks and have been having a blast on these adventures with the kids, with no plans of slowing down. Parks we visited in Southern Ontario. Albion Hills Bronte Creek Rattlesnake Point Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara (now open!) it wasn't when we went, but the grounds were. Ball's Falls Conservation Area Niagara Gorge/Whirlpool Evergreen Brick Works Mount Nemo

Pelvic Physio

It’s not much of a secret to my closest friends, but about three years into my nursing career my bladder started to fail me. Due to holding my bladder too many times over the course of a twelve hour shift I started to experience urgency issues. Luckily, my girlfriend Shannon, rescued me and recommended the company she works for…Body Co. I had a chance to work with their physio Sandra Ghaly, and the proof is in the pudding. Sandra is excellent for a number of reasons. Let me tell you she really knows her stuff. I have had the chance to work with many physiotherapists both professionally as a nurse, and in my own personal experiences. Not only is she professional and knowledgeable, but she has this kindness that makes you feel very comfortable with such a private matter. Over the course of a few weekly visits, and the continual application of my pelvic floor exercises, I continued to see improvements. I stopped attending these appointments only because our family moved to Hamilton, and was able to find another pelvic physiotherapist, whom I would also recommend. For those lucky women who live in Toronto, Body Co is the place to go. When I got pregnant, pelvic physio went right back to the top of my to do list knowing what would come down the road. I was recommended a pelvic physio in Hamilton and have continued with my exercises. Once I had improved enough, I was discharged from physio until I reach 38 weeks. Woohoo, I passed! Unfortunately, at my anatomy ultrasound they discovered I have placenta previa and my OB put a halt on exercising, intercourse, and was put on pelvic rest. Over a week ago, I was able to attend a Masterclass put on by Body Co. lead by Melanie Sutherland, physiotherapist and owner of the company. I was instantly impressed by her wealth of knowledge. I must have taken two full pages of notes. It reminded me of what I enjoyed so much about their organization, which was the holistic approach they take towards physio. I believe that is where they truly stand out and that makes a huge difference. Feeling inspired and back on track I called my OB just to clarify…’not even Kegels?’, but based on my situation it was a no go. So for myself, my pelvic floor exercises are currently on hold, but as soon as I get cleared, I will be back at ‘em. I can attest that they do work. I have worked with other physio therapists which I did not feel comfortable with, and I think that’s why I feel so strongly about recommending this company to our community. Gen and I are so excited to create a community where we can share and learn from each other. We want to hear from you about your pelvic health and if you’ve found any great physios! For any pregnant mommas, always check with your health care provider before starting any exercise or physio. Any mommas/women with pelvic physio experiences? We'd love to hear from you. XO Chrissy and Gen

Of course...I needed some kind of Mom Sweater

I jumped on this purchase almost immediately after finding out we were expecting. It's too cute and super cozy. It has already turned into my go to sweater on the daily. See link below. Follow us on Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter for more content! Also don't ever miss a post, sign up to receive email notifications from our blog. xo Chrissy and Gen

The coziest slippers...

With being at home these days, I really wanted to get a pair of cozy slippers to wear around the house. The video and photo do not do these slippers justice, they are by far the softest slippers I have ever owned. See link below. Follow us on Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter for more content! Also don't ever miss a post, sign up to receive email notifications from our blog. xo Chrissy and Gen

Love for Tie Dye

I just had to jump on the tie dye link below. Follow us on Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter for more content!

What I'm currently reading

I will be honest and admit I’ve already plowed through probably 4 or 5 expecting books. My inner nerd has had a chance to shine. That being said, I’m not going to go crazy and post a million books on here… I am going to keep it simple and do my top three recommendations. 1) I recommend picking a general pregnancy book that covers all the topics. I trotted off to the library to find “What to expect when you’re expecting” pretty much the day after the test showed positive. Well, I made it two pages into the book and the Question and Answer layout of the book wasn’t my style at all. After putting that away, I really enjoyed “You having a baby” by Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz. I wish I could remember exactly how I came upon this book, but to my best recollection I’m pretty sure it was at a church rummage sale. The men at my church are super sweet to me and know I’m a reader, so they often let me fill a big box at the annual spring sale and will give me a pretty good discount. I’m spoiled! This book is just a great overall read, keeps you interested, and provides a lot of supplemental information about fertility, conception, and of course having a baby. It is a good, fast paced read with a good sense of humour. 2) I felt like I had landed on the jackpot of pregnancy books when my girlfriend handed me this next book. “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Harvey Karp, M.D. My strong feelings toward this book probably stem from the fact that the friend that put it in my hands actually has the happiest baby! Yay, for baby Sophie! It feels like the proof is in the pudding. What parent doesn’t want to know how to calm a screaming baby? This book goes through all the tips and tricks on how to calm crying babies. The part of this book that I appreciated the most, especially as a nurse, was at the end, the author provides an appendix of Red Flags and goes through different medical issues of why your baby could be crying, what it could be, and when to seek medical attention. How handy. The only downside to this book, is by the end if felt it was getting repetitive, but very much worth the read. I am also going to use You Tube and search google to find videos of parents using the techniques described by the author. 3) My last endorsement, which was recommended by a friend and a co-worker, is Emily Oster’s “Cribsheet”. Emily Oster also wrote the book “Expecting Better”, which I will look into getting. Full disclosure, my husband and I didn’t read this book, we listened to it on audio recording. We downloaded “Audible” so that we could listen to parenting books in the car, I actually really enjoy Audible and use it a lot. I like how the author provides the research on all parenting topics with an unbiased approach. I recommend this book for couples, you can read or listen to the research on a particular issue and then discuss together. This one is a real winner. It also comes recommended by Harvey Karp, the author of the second book I recommended. One of Brad’s questions for the OB on our first appointment was ‘What books or periodicals do you recommend reading’…I’m NOT MAKING THIS UP. To which my OB responded look for books written by MDs. I just wanted to add this here because it is important to make sure you are getting your facts from a credible source. It’s so easy to google or run to your girlfriends, I am just as guilty of this, but in terms of where you are getting your information, make sure it’s from a medical source. If you have any concerns, don’t be shy to call your family doctor, MD, midwife, or Telehealth (which is what we call the medical phone service in Ontario, that you can call to be put in touch with a nurse). Any women Trying to Conceive (TTC), currently expecting, or parents with good books suggestions, please give us a shout! We would love to hear from you. Xo Gen and Chrissy PS: Looking for copies of these books? Check out and!

Quarantine Day 21

We have been back just over 3 weeks since we took a rejuvenating trip to Victoria, B.C. Before we arrived in B.C., we didn’t quite realize how dire the COVID-19 situation would become, it was serious but not yet “shutting the borders” serious. Day-by-day we watched as the world turned upside down and we didn’t quite know what to expect upon our return to Toronto. It’s been a struggle to say the least and it seems so mundane compared to what our frontline workers are going through. I know we are not the only ones feeling this way and thought it would be a great way to give you a snap-shot into our daily grind. 7:30 a.m.- Wake up. Peak my head outside to hear the birds sing. We live in the heart of the city so it’s rare to hear them so vividly. Make some coffee and hope to the heavens Liam is still sleeping. I like having that one hour to slowly wake up and have my coffee while reading or watching something to put me in a good mood. 8:30 a.m.- As I continue watching some online videos, I start to panic that no one is awake yet as we are all usually up at this point; but decide to remain composed for at least 30 minutes. 8:31 a.m.- I check in on Liam to find he is still sleeping, Keira too. 9 a.m.- I take Violet, our cockapoo out for a short stroll while everyone is still asleep. 9:35 a.m.- I start to worry with beads of sweat dripping from my face if I’m a good parent for letting them sleep in so late and not adhering to a proper schedule, so I look it up. Everything is fine. On a normal school day they would have been in class already. 10 a.m.- Liam scurries quietly to the bathroom and starts making his way downstairs as I quickly change Game of Thrones to something more child friendly. The button doesn’t seem to work so I dash for the T.V. blocking the screen as much as I can with my arms spread open wide, pretending to give it a hug. Liam likes this idea and hugs the T.V. too. I figured this wasn’t written in Parenting 101 so I will hug all the other educational objects and hope he does too; books, instruments, art supplies. Success! We settle in for our morning snuggle and I ask him what he wants for breakfast. His quick response is oatmeal, then marshmallows instead. “Marshmallows are not a whole food” I say, he ignores me and continues sifting through his book. I make the oatmeal anyway, hoping he’d forget about it. He does, temporarily and eats his oatmeal wholeheartedly, then reminds me at lunch that he had asked for marshmallows. We spend a good part of the morning going through various educational games online, do some reading and our first round of kindergarden homework from the e-mail sent from his wonderful teacher. 1 p.m.- Keira is still not awake but she’s been up late. So late in fact I do not wish to reveal the time. Every time I ask her to go to sleep she demands to know why. There’s no school, her friends are up late, so why can’t she stay up with them? After 2.5 weeks of asking her, I decided to take a different approach. I will stop asking and if she wakes up at 4pm so be it; as long as there are no arguments in the house. Some parents that read the Parenting 101 book might say that this is a poor choice. However, we are not living in our normal day-to-day grind, confined to our homes with the same people day in and day out so whatever works for us may not work for you. I do believe whole heartedly that mental health and love is key to getting through this crazy time. I am happy to say that the new tactic is working and emotions are stabilizing around here. Liam and I continue to do our crafty projects while enjoying a sandwich and coffee round 2. 2:30 p.m.- Keira wakes up as I pour my first ½ glass of wine. She comes down and asks me why I’m drinking wine so early. I shrug my shoulders and wonder if 2:30 is really that early. I said, "what time do you think it is?" She says 9:30, so I mentally pat myself on the back for adhering to wine drinking guidelines. Then I find supermodel Molly Sims on Instagram pouring wine into her cereal and know that I’m doing just fine. Keira proceeds to find her own lunch as she talks to her friends through Facetime; ignoring our existence. Liam and I play some Clue Jr., although he’s interested for the first 20 minutes then goes off to find another activity to do. 4 p.m. We all take Violet out for a longer walk through our neighbourhood, minding the 2 meter social distancing rules from other people outside our immediate family. It feels so overwhelmingly unnatural to try to avoid others especially in supermarkets where I tend to keep my head down, avoid eye contact, move at least 5 meters away (I know it’s 2), keep my hands away from my sleeves, prevent my glasses from falling off my face so adjust them with said sleeve and try not to open my mouth in fear that either I will transmit this awful virus or receive it from the particles in the air. It’s a dance like no other. 5 p.m.- Dinner prep! Whoopie! No one wants the same foods so I end up making dinner in four various ways. Grilled Cheese for Liam, soup for Keira, pancit (filipino dish) for Simon and a vegan buddha bowl for me with a side of greens and love. Everyone eats their meals thankfully, then Simon pipes “Still hungry. Anyone want pizza?” Which of course they say yes because, you know… the smell. 7 p.m.- Liam takes his bath that he refused to go into then suddenly remembered how much fun he has in there so doesn’t want to come out until his skin looks like he’s aged quite substantially. I sit and wait patiently sifting through all the news I can on my phone until my neck can’t take it anymore. After this the night consists of me researching and reading while Simon spends some extra time with Liam after he’s finished working. They spend such a great time together that Liam stays up much later than would be deemed “normal” but I try not to fret because this is a transition for all of us. Parenting is based primarily on love, guidelines, then hope, trial and error. If you made it this far, parents you are doing great! There is no rule book for self-isolation so do what feels best for you and your family through these challenging times. Think positively as much as you can, stay home, stay healthy, stay safe; and spread some love by picking up the phone, or Facetiming anyone that could be missing a familiar and friendly voice. We are all in this together.

25 Ideas to See You Through COVID-19

1. Blast back to the past to your favourite decade and binge watch your favourite movies from that era. This can be a recurring event by adding in some hit tv shows. I don't know how many times I have watched Friends but it is likely my all-time favourite show, what about you guys? 2. Cultural theme Choose a country of interest for the day and recreate their lifestyle at home. Get crafty in the kitchen and try a new dish or dessert recipe if you happen to have all the ingredients. Learn about their interactions with others and their methods of entertainment. You can also get lots of inspiration from watching YouTube videos from your country of choice. This is also a great activity for anyone with young kids to throw in some education while having fun! 3. Beach Party (if it’s warm where you are) Recreate your favourite drinks and throw down some snacks. If you have a private garden or front lawn get the sprinklers going and toss a beach ball or frisbee and put on some good music. If you don't have a yard, soak up the sun on your porch or balcony instead. Don't forget that sunscreen! 4. Game Day This is a great way to make memories with those in your household. You know there is a game or two lying around in the closet or shelf that haven’t seen light since last decade. Bring some life back into them and start winning back this great pass time. 5. Social Distancing Game Day Don’t have someone at home to play a game with? Get online and game with your friends from a distance. Being separated physically from other humans does take a toll but we can lessen the psychological burdens by interacting with different mediums. You can even give this a try doing art challenges through FaceTime. 6. Books Catch up on the books you haven’t gotten around to because you were too busy with life in general. Keep track of the top reading lists from Indigo and Barnes and Noble. You can also try to challenge yourself on how many books you want to read during this time to give it an extra incentive to finish those books. 7. Birthdays! Even if your birthday doesn’t happen any time soon there’s no better way to get through this stressful time then to celebrate our families. Choose the day of the month each family member is born on (ie. If your birthday falls on the 10th that would be your day, if your child's birthday falls on the 25th that would be their day.) Now you don’t have to do all the overzealous things birthdays are known for, instead the “birthday” celebrant gets to choose all the things you do that day; including your meals. 8. Puzzles There’s no better time like the present to dig out those dusty old puzzle boxes that you had always planned to piece together but just couldn’t find the patience, let alone the time. Haven't built a puzzle in years or don't own any? There's no time like the present to order online and have it shipped to your home. 9. Learn a new skill Have you ever wanted to learn how to knit, play an instrument or build something out of spare wood pieces? There are a plethora of great new apps and videos online that will help you get started. Have you always wanted to write a book and struggled to find the time or motivation? Check out NaNoWriMo to find that inspiration again to get started today. #notsponsored 10. Colour Adult colouring books are surprisingly and incredibly soothing and meditative as well. This is also a great pass time with your kids while they fill in their own books you can fill in yours. 11. Arts and Crafts Delve into some arts and crafts. Both are meditative and creative which helps ease accumulated stress. I enjoy painting whenever the opportunity arises with acrylic as my medium of choice. With all the great lessons on YouTube you can create your own masterpieces with the help of some pro-tips. 12. Virtual travelling Right now there are many websites offering a tour of their properties or parks. Disneyland and the Winchester Mystery House are great examples of getting a chance to visit without leaving your home. You can also find art galleries, castles even some major tourist attractions such as the CN Tower here in Toronto, gives you the chance to virtually climb to the top. 13. Spa Day Spa day doesn’t have to be fancy but a little pampering throughout this time is likely a welcome way to decompress from all the craziness in the world today. Throw on a face mask and if you don’t have any face masks you likely have some materials to create your own at home. Take a deep soak in a bubble bath with some epsom salts maybe even a mimosa and you can even give your hair some TLC with a hair mask of its own. Relax and just absorb the quiet time you have to de-stress. 14. Fitness At home fitness is a fantastic way to release endorphins, maintain and even improve your fitness level. There are fitness challenges on YouTube you can follow or you can find a dvd/bluray program that is right for you. I have a few videos that have helped me shed quite a few pounds after baby #2 without hitting the gym so I can definitely attest to them. I absolutely want to dig them out and get back to into it now. 15. Renovate There might be some rooms in your home that were left unfinished for a while. Now is your chance to soak up the time and finish them up. Home renovation stores are still open with delivery and curb-side pickup available. 16. Spring Clean Little is more cleansing than doing a good spring clean. Getting rid of all the accumulated items throughout the winter season is rejuvenating. Cleaning your home will also help keep your mind clear and relaxed. 17. Holiday Theme You don’t have to put up all your decorations again if you are not up for it, although there is a trend going around doing this to uplift spirits. Instead watch your favourite holiday movies and do all the things your holiday events usually have; such as dinner, games, activities and even some holiday music. 18. Online Shopping Yes, it’s not the same as the brick and mortar but at least you aren’t pressed for time and it seems as though there are sales everywhere you look with home delivery and curbside pickup available. Don’t forget to limit yourselves to how often you are exposed to others. #socialdistanceshopping 19. Finishing home projects. Bought a shelf that has yet to be built or D.I.Y. you wanted to attempt? Did you collect all the materials only to brush everything aside because you couldn't find the time. Take advantage of this time to get those things on your list done. 20. Binge Watch Get into a series. Has there been a tv or movie series you have heard rave reviews about but just couldn’t bring yourself to binge watch? Go grab a snack, sit back, relax and get cozy as you delve into a whole other story. Some honourable mentions: Friends IT Crowd Fuller House Game of Thrones Cosmos Breaking Bad Desperate Housewives Grey's Anatomy 21. Memory Lane Revisit old memories and videos that brought you an abundance of happiness. You can create videos with footage you have collected, add some music and you'll have a masterpiece of a memory in no time. 22. Online Classes Take an online class. There are plenty of websites and Apps available now offering classes and courses on nearly everything. MasterClass (celebrity led courses), Skillshare, Coursera and Gaia, all offer great educational material for you to explore. 23. Social Distance Party Throw a social distancing party. We have done this with a group of our friends on Friday nights. It helps ease the stresses of the week and allows some sort of normalcy amongst the chaos. There are apps that help make this a smoother experience such as Jitsi Meet. So there's definitely time to make party plans. Even if its' virtual. 24. Get In the Kitchen Cooking! Attempt to make your favourite take-out meal from home. Or perhaps follow a recipe to the T and make it Instagram perfect. Another idea to shake things up would be to find your grandma's or mom's best recipes and attempt to make them to their golden standards. 25. Gardening. Being in nature is nurturing and cleansing. Without having the ability to get out and be amongst it can be hard on our mental health. By starting your own garden, even a small plant if you don't have much room can be a tremendous help in getting through this unprecedented time. We hope this list helps you get through this difficult time in our history and hopefully it inspires you to get creative in your own home. Above all else look after yourselves and your family, and stay safe!

Planting 101

It’s our first spring in the new house. You better believe that planting was on my “to do” list. I pestered my plant loving girlfriend a few times about timing (Is it too soon? Is it too soon?). Once I finally got the green light I headed straight to Dollarama (local dollar store) to pick up my all my planting needs. I must have spent around $35 total which is pretty reasonable, but since it’s my first year planting veggies and flowers I am starting modestly. For vegetables, I picked up green onions, carrots, peas. For herbs, I got basil and parsley and went with simple wild flowers. I got potting soil, a bottle of plant food, biodegradable starter pots, a pack of five rectangle planting trays, a trowel, and we already had a spray bottle. Even though I didn’t need planters right away, I saw some cute ones, so I picked up four planters and 2 long rectangular planters as well. We live on the mountain in Hamilton which doesn’t have a lot of topsoil, and is on bedrock, so I planned on putting my plants in planters as opposed to digging up my backyard to make a garden. Also I just wanted to keep it small since this is my first year planting, aside from a failed planter on the balcony at the condo… lol). We also didn’t want to invest a lot of time and money into a garden if our pup, or the neighborhood bunnies decide to dig it all up. Perhaps next year we will get more ambitious depending on how this year goes! To start, I lined up all the biodegradable pots in the trays and filled them halfway with the potting soil. I then put in the seeds. For the peas, I put two seeds per mini pot, for the other seeds, I put a sprinkle of seeds trying to disperse them across the surface of the pot ( as opposed to concentrating the seeds in the middle of the pot) I then filled up the tops of the pots with more soil so they were full. I made sure to label the pots so that I knew what was planted in each one. I only planted the peas, basil, and parsley to start. Once we transfer the plants to the final planters, we will plant the remaining onions and carrots. I then filled the square trays with soil and sprinkled the wild flower seeds, and then poured more potting soil on top. Then I mixed together the plant food with water in a spray bottle. The brand I bought was a green liquid, and called for 1 tablespoon to a liter of water. I them watered the plants ensuring they were moist enough, really wet looking, but not enough water to create a puddle. I had Brad, the farmer, eyeball to tell if I needed more or less water. If you don’t have any experienced planters in your household, I’m sure Youtube would have some great videos to help. When the plants outgrow the little pots I am going to transfer them to the bigger planters and hopefully at that time it will be warm enough to make the move to the deck outside. I know, Gen’s little guy, Liam, got into some fun planting last week as a way to keep busy during these self- isolation weeks. Now more than ever we have the time to create the home and backyards we’ve wanted. Are any of you planning to plant your gardens this year? I am a novice when it comes to planting and would love to hear your tips and tricks on ways to help our plants grow!!! Keep Healthy and Safe XO

Pregnant Nurse coping with the global pandemic

As the novel virus known as COVID 19 has multiplied over the last few weeks. You can’t turn on the television or open any social media platforms without being bombarded with news of the virus. In the beginning I was frustrated by the overreaction of the general public, mostly by the hoarding behaviour. Now as the weeks have gone by, I am now feeling concerned. For the safety of our healthcare providers, for those who are immunocompromised, and for mine and my baby’s health. First, our front line health care providers. I am proud to call these individuals my coworkers and it is amazing to see the staff pull together to ensure proper precautions are taking place and advocating for our protection. That being said, we need to protect the staff. There seems to be controversy regarding whether the virus can be contracted through airborne or droplet. For healthcare providers this means they would require different types of masks in order to keep them safe from contracting the virus. The lack of resources for N95 masks is very worrisome to me. I personally have signed a petition through my union letting our politicians know that we need the proper PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep ourselves safe. I am very concerned for those who are immunocompromised. I am always diligent about safety precautions at work to protect those most vulnerable. The first people that come to my mind are our respiratory patients. I work these patients on a daily basis and watching them struggle to breathe on a good day is hard, let alone combined with a virus. The thought gives me shivers to think of their suffering. I honestly pray to God that we will have enough ventilators, oxygen tanks, and equipment necessary to support these patients. I want to highlight another immunocompromised subgroup: expectant mothers. We have a saying in our family, “tough as nails”, and I typically categorize myself as a pretty strong person. It took me a minute to realize that I am immunocompromised. Before this pandemic hit, I was sick with the flu and had to take off 5 shifts, which is pretty major. I also had my flu shot last October, meaning this was either a different strain for which I was not covered with my shot or (scary to think) that this was an attenuated version of a strain that I was protected against. I don’t even want to think of how sick I would have been if I hadn’t had my flu shot. Anyways, I just want expecting moms to remember that they are immunocompromised and take precautions to stay healthy. Keep surfaces in your home and car clean and disinfected, practice proper hand hygiene, and practice social distancing. As much as IT SUCKS, and I know, I am a social butterfly, but staying at home other than work and necessary doctor appointments, and getting just what I need at the grocery store, I am always at home, or on a walk around the block. I have real concerns about keeping the baby and I healthy. Including the above mentioned suggestions, I have also cut out visitors to our home. Brad and I had to explain to his mother that we don’t want any visitors right now and it next to broke my heart. Anyone that knows us, knows we have an open door policy for friends and family. They are welcome to come stay over and we love hosting and having lots of food for our guests. At the forefront of my mind, is keeping others safe from me, since I am going to be exposed working in the hospital, and keeping my baby safe. It’s also breaking my heart that my prenatal classes and prenatal yoga have all been postponed. Brad and I have postponed our gender reveal and baby moon. In speaking with my mom she is also postponing the baby shower plans until we know more information. I dreamed of being a mom for 6 years and it took us 12 months to get pregnant, although it saddens me to hold off on all my dreams, I know this is the right thing to do. I plea to the public: When out grocery shopping, there is no need to buy an endless supply of basic essentials. Simply purchase what you need. We need to ensure there are enough supplies to go around, especially for the elderly and immunocompromised. Respect one another, I am hearing stories of fighting in groceries stores. Lastly, be serious about social distancing. I have had a baby’s first birthday postponed, a friend’s birthday party canceled, and like so many others, Gen and I have moved all our meetings to FaceTime until further notice. We would love to hear from other mommas (including expecting mommas) on how you are coping with COVID-19? Since I’m not out there meeting other to-be-moms in classes, please let me know if there are any online groups for expectant mothers that you would recommend. We would love to hear from you! Stay Healthy!

Homeschooling: COVID-19 Edition

My children are part of the public education system here in Ontario. There have been a lot of ups and downs lately due to work-to-rule events and strike actions writhing their way through the daily grind this past school year. Some days I wanted to sit with my coffee and write all day but would find out suddenly that the kids would be staying home and now with the COVID-19 pandemic I, amongst other parents, have found myself in a unique position. We as parents are our children’s primary teachers, this sort of situation should come naturally to us. However, being in self-isolation presents some challenges and where our strengths lie may not always be where the strengths of our teachers lie. Let’s face it, the education system is not perfect but if you have been lucky enough to experience a great educated professional at the forefront of your child’s student career, than you likely understand the predicaments of teaching a full curriculum yourself without the aid of a Degree in Education. Each year of a child’s life creates a progressive opportunity to distinguish themselves and discover their worlds and even discover themselves. They go to school to socialize, learn in a team setting, have opportunities that might be overlooked at home; even homeschooled children have these opportunities by attending co-op events and participating in extra-curricular activities. What happens when all opportunities are taken away, where the home becomes the school and your friends are now your parents? It seems like a tall order to have a pre-teen accept the new challenges. I admit, Canada does not have as many difficulties as other countries as of yet. Watching the world markets, public health industries and education systems collapse around us is frightening enough for everyone. It feels like a ticking clock and all the while we need to gather ourselves and our children to persevere and get back on track; and keep them up to date with their education to not let it slip. This is not a vacation, this is a worldwide crisis; something I fear is still not actualized into a tangible situation to my 12 year old. Here are a few ways I plan on keeping their brains working to bide our time whilst protecting ourselves and the people around us. First I make a schedule, not necessarily for them but for myself where I can plan out what I would like to teach and find learning opportunities online and offline according to their age and level, logically with a glass of wine in my hand. Make it a fun experience by incorporating board games, charades, science experiments, dioramas, arts and crafts, I’m also going to try to invent some games or look for ideas through reddit and other social media platforms. For the older ones, make the COVID-19 situation a historical experience. Watch documentaries, have them write essays (can be short or long depending on age), talk and engage in social, family and economic life of those eras. Choose moments in history that redefined the social aspects of the world. Examples could be the Spanish Flu, The Bubonic Plague, World Wars, Discovery of North America, The 100 year war, the fall of the Mayans, Pompeii, etc. There are hundreds of topics to cover, this is just a starting ground. Have a jar full of ideas/lessons to get through. You can ask your kids to contribute to the jar to mix up the interests and creative process as well. Create a passport that takes you around the world a couple of times a week. Learn about their culture, food and history. Re-create popular dishes if possible as well as re-creating social situations. What would a market be like? What is their currency? Do they need to walk miles to their nearest town? Make your home a whole other country with different cities involved. It may not be the real thing but it is a great cultural adventure for the whole family without hopping on a plane. Here are a few websites that are free and educationally focused: Khan Academy PBS Kids IXL Magic Tree House Kids Scholastic Time for Kids National Geographic Kids Starfall Make Me Genius Google Earth Disney Junior Fun Brain Highlights Kids Grid Club Science Bob Grammaropolis YouTube Do you have any suggestions to contribute to our list? We at The Orchid Journal are here to listen and respect all your thoughts and opinions throughout this unprecedented time. You can message us privately or comment below we are always open to be a support to you and your family where we can. Sending our thoughts to you and yours during this difficult time, -Genevieve and Christine

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