End of Summer – 2017

As we go into the last long weekend of the summer, I am saddened to be saying good-bye to such an amazing 2 months! It’s been awhile since I felt this way. Of course, I’ve enjoyed many past summer months but with work always being so crazy, it really just sort of blends into the next season for me.

This summer, though… there was something very different about this past summer, which I will get into at the end of the post. First, a re-cap of some of the memories we’ve made to end our warmer months of the year!

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March boardwalk view from one of the trails.

We did go on our traditional, week-long camping trip. This time, we selected a new Provincial Park – Charleston Lake. Being a park with a lot of great nature trails, moderate to difficult hiking trails and many scenic canoeing routes (through the diverse amounts of islands in the bay), this was a very ideal park for us to go camping.

I was able to hit the trails three times on my own during the early mornings while the rest of the family slept in. I eventually got into vacation mode during the last half of the week and slept in as well but I usually am always the first to wake up. We also, as a family, hit three trails together. All in all, I tried to stay active since it was one week away from my usual workout routine.

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Found a great hidden spot on a tiny isolated island. We stayed here for a quiet picnic.

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Our last day paddling for an hour before we headed back to the city.

We managed to rent the canoe for two days. Day one was to find an isolated and deserted island for a picnic. Day two was the same afternoon we were heading back to the city. After packing everything up, we decided it was worth to rent and paddle for at least an hour before heading back. Both times did not disappoint!

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The slowest ride on earth. Seriously – I was bored after being stuck/stalled for the 3rd time.

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It’s traditional to go on the Ferris Wheel for a great view!

We arrived back for a 3-day weekend, just to give us some time to rest and relax before heading back to work the following week. We decided, since that Friday was going be the opening day of The Ex, to head there for the latter half of the day. The last time we went was 8 years ago. Chaeli doesn’t even remember any of it.

I always realize after spending some time at The Ex why we do not go every year. It’s expensive and really, pretty much the same thing each time. I imagine the next time Chaeli goes, it will be with her friends, leaving Doug and I at home (which will be fine by me).

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Caprese salad – with fresh basil from the garden.

The rest of our days have been drinking wine, making the use of our fresh basil before it’s too late and listening to more k-pop. Which brings me to my final point…

I have had the best summer bonding with my daughter. Sure, k-pop helped as she introduced me to this fun and entertaining world. But the conversations that developed out of this shared fascination has been so wonderful.

I will cherish these summer memories forever. I hope she will too!

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Why “13 Reasons Why Not” isn’t THAT Bad

I was skeptical at first. Really skeptical. And not because of all the controversial talk about how the series glamorizes teen suicide. I wasn’t worried about that – mainly because after doing my own reading on the internet, most articles who claimed professional psychiatrist stated this show could spur real life copy-cats, no where did they even give any reference of credibility of such professionals or case studies. Once again, alternate facts looms over us again.

And of the few supposed copy-cats that surfaced on the news after the series aired, there was no direct cause-and-effect relationship tied to show and real suicide victim. And the fact is – leaving a suicide note is not a new thing. Of course, with modern-day technology, letters are, I suppose, old school. Video and/or audio recording is probably more realistic these days.

The show, 13 Reasons Why, was not a great show and had mediocre acting (though I will say the main actor, Dylan Minnette, who’s character, Clay – who we watch as he unravels the mysteries from each tape – was my favorite). It captivated my attention enough to get me to watch all 13 episodes. Yet, 1/3rd into the show, I really was just wanting to get to the end so I could find out what lead to her suicide (the tapes gradually explained how they were all connected – but there appeared to be this looming doom which broke her soul at the very end).

Why I continued to watch the show was basically because of this:

While the suicide was a main focal point of the show, the issues that surrounded it was what people should be talking about: drugs, alcohol abuse, bullying and rape.

Especially the last two – bullying and rape (or assault of any kind).

So while the masses are upset with the show, fearing teens will be easily swayed to end their lives in a dramatic, revenge-like “trend”, I ask this… Would our teens feel a need to even consider suicide if they did not have to go to an institution day in and day out, facing such risks? When they go home, with social media being such a huge part of their lives, can they even escape it when they are not at school?

What are we as parents, the community and the school doing to prevent this warped, criminal behavior from happening? I say this because before this show even existed, this sad reality has happened before. The one I can’t get out my mind was the teen girl who was gang-raped by four of her classmates. The rapists took photos during the act and the photos went viral. Shortly after, she was bullied. Like 13 Reasons Why, she was called a slut and her reputation from good, sweet girl, flipped 180. Just like that. This poor teen suicide victim not only endured a horrible and criminal act, but then went through significantly, cruel bullying.

So for all the parents out there, outraged by this show, I ask this – what are WE doing to try and prevent this from happening in real life? If the issues on the show were not a real concern in our society, would there even BE such a show? Did we shape our culture/society to basically, give birth to the plot line of 13 Reasons Why?

I’m a bit dumbfounded why everyone seems to be pointing fingers at the show, stating it is too dangerous for teens to watch and lacks any accountability of the message. Yet what about the discussions this show has cultivated? Are we going to continue and point fingers at a fictional show (or novel which it was based off of) and ignore the fact that we have the power to make a change in society? What about the good that has come from all this controversy? What about the teens who created a project called “13 Reasons Why Not?”

People are also upset about this fictional teen leaving tapes – as if she was being selfish.

She was in pain. People who commit suicide are not thinking logically. They are not behaving normally. To blame the victim (for victimizing others in the aftermath) is a moot point. However, let me ask this – what if those tapes stop these people from making the same mistake to others? What if it is enough to bring charges down on the rapist(s)? What if it saves another life?

Honestly, before I watched the show I did not have a strong opinion of all the controversy surrounding the topic of 13 Reasons Why because it sounded like a pretty bad show. I don’t mean bad in that the subject was a horrible subject. I mean… it just sounded like a really bad show!

And, while it was not as bad as I imagined it to be, yeah, it was still bad.

I am not too swayed with this fear of teens glamorizing suicide. If they were in a suicidal state to begin with, the problem was there way before even watching this TV series.

The topics, however, were important to me. As a parent of a teen who has started discussing this show with friends (even though she has not seen it yet – she told me she is not interested at this point), I wanted to be prepared. I wanted to know what exactly happens so when she has questions or want to talk about it, I am hopefully, more ready than not.

Perhaps this show sort of sucked – but the topics are very real. We must stop the ignorance and get to the root of this problem. Increasing teen suicide rates are NOT due to this show. And we need to do something about it.

Simple Living

This past weekend has been about keeping things simple. Simple eating, simple schedule – Just simple living.

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Tis the season for Fiddleheads!

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Simple Lunch – leftover Fiddleheads and pasta

Simple eating is probably the best start and I know no other way than taking advantage of the very short time fiddleheads are at peak. The season for picking them is very short and while we resort to just buying them at the local market, it’s worth making the time to head out and buy them!

We had them with our dinner one night sauteed in butter with shallots and garlic. I had just enough left over along with a little leftover pasta for lunch Saturday afternoon. Perfect combination, especially with a cold flute of organic sparkling cava.

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Freshly cut lilacs

Saturday morning, Doug took Hobbes out for a walk and found some wild lilacs by the side of the road. He clipped a couple and put it in a glass bowl filled with water. It is now a center piece in our living room and brings me great joy to take in the lovely aroma.

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Blueberry blossoms

Sitting out on our patio yesterday, drinking our morning coffee, I noticed our blueberry plant was covered with these lovely white flowers. We weren’t successful last year when we first brought this plant home but with all the rain we’ve been getting, and all the blossoms popping out everywhere, there is hope we actually might get to see berries!

Sunday – I am taking it all in slowly. There were dishes to be done and I’m still doing laundry, but I took a bath (after weeks of not taking time to practice this de-stressing luxury) and I may even take another one before bed.

After 2 solid weeks of go-go-go, I finally am taking just a little time to slow down.

Chai Coconut Latte and Diana Krall

Being extremely spoiled by my best friend Ada during my mid-20’s, I’ve never been able to have the store-bought, pre-made Chai tea bags. Nor the cafes that make the latte’s from boxed, sugary (too sugary), processed liquid mix which they add to black tea. Nope. Sorry – that’s just not real Chai tea.

Ada, see, would invite us over after we went out for dinner somewhere in walking distance from her 1-bedroom apartment on Queen St (downtown TO). She would, from scratch, create the most luxuriously, smooth and creamy Chai latte for us. The process would take at least 30 minutes but the wait was so worth it.

She often commented the tea was so rich and velvety that it was enough to pass as a dessert (even though it had a fraction of the calories from any typical dessert order one would make from a restaurant menu).

20 years later, I still have fond memories of her Chai tea latte she made for us. When I found the following Bobby Flay recipe for Chai Coconut Tea Latte, I knew I had to give it a try. I used all unsweetened coconut milk and passed on the brown sugar. The coconut milk does not froth as much as regular milk but not being one to drink dairy milk, this was my personal option.

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Homemade Coconut Chai Tea Latte

It was heavenly – crushing the spices fresh for this process is worth the time and really, very little effort! I have made this twice for my husband and I on the weekends. I add a touch of 10% cream and a little sweetener but my husband enjoys it as is.

We had this, in fact, for dessert last night. Sitting in our living room, we sipped our hot mugs of the Chai concoction with Diana Krall in the background.

It was the perfect way to end our day. And I really enjoy these introverted weekend days I have with my family. It’s a chance for me to slow down and recharge my batteries.