Archive | July 2012

Woman We Love: Ingrid Veninger, Canada’s Queen of DIY Filmmaking

*Link to original article here (iVillage) or here (CityTV)

We love our fierce and fearless Canadian women. So we couldn’t pass up the chance to sit and chat with Canada’s Queen of DIY filmmaking, and the founder of pUNK Films, Ingrid Veninger. Veninger’s feature, i am a good person / i am a bad person screened at TIFF 2011 to rave reviews. It explores breakdowns of communication in family relationships in a unique and captivating way.

Now, i am a good person / i am a bad person is opening theatrically at The Royal in Toronto on June 14. And perhaps more exciting is The Canadian Film Institute’s (CFI’s) Intimacies: The Cinema of Ingrid Veninger (June 7, 8, 9 &15) celebrating Veninger’s remarkable filmmaking career, from her start as a child actor to her present-day success.

We delved deep into the artist’s mind and pulled together some inspiring messages we just had to share! Read on to find out what makes Veninger tick, and how she juggles making films with being a mom.

IVILLAGE: What does it mean to you to be a Canadian filmmaker?
INGRID VENINGER: 
I think we’re really fortunate in this country. We have incredible resources and incredibly skilled people in front of the camera, behind the camera. In Toronto we have great labs, we have great resources and people are very, very generous and helpful to the emerging filmmakers – and those that want to do something different and take creative risks but maybe don’t have the biggest budgets. In other parts of the world there’s not that same generosity of spirit.

How important is it to be identified as a female filmmaker?
When I see a film that has the distinct perspective of a woman I really appreciate it. It’s a very important perspective. I feel like we have to shout a little bit louder because there’s so few of us actually directing. It’s a male-dominated industry.

Women are generally the primary caregivers, if there are kids, the juggle of being a mother and a lover and a filmmaker is really, really hard.

So, how do you balance life as a filmmaker and a mom?
I love having kids so much. Oftentimes, as a woman, our work – especially in filmmaking because it’s so consuming – can take us away from our families and in some cases, destroy our families and destroy our relationships. The work is not worth it for me. How I’ve managed to navigate some of these tricky years is by involving my family in my work. I love making films with them.

How has working with your children transformed your relationship with them?
Working with one another on that level has been really important to sort of help with the transition of the role of the mother. My role has been to look after my kids and make sure they get through school and get good marks and are healthy. Then they become adults and we have to sort of let go of them. That’s a really difficult process, to truly let go of them and not control the choices they make.

You were an only child. How did that affect your life?

I had to really entertain myself.  So in a way I’m thankful.  When I’m writing scripts, a lot of my most acute, potent feelings come from the loneliest times.  I think art allows us to process and transform some of our most painful, difficult times.

What do you do to recharge?
I’m generally a pretty optimistic, hopeful, positive person. I’m a bit of a movie junkie so I watch films to recharge and get me feeling hopeful again. Watching other people’s films gives me strength. My kids are also incredibly inspiring and I have an amazing, supportive, grounding partner. I wouldn’t have the life I have without him. And music. I like to go out and dance a lot.

What do you want people to think after seeing i am a good person, i am a bad person?
If anything, I want there to be dialogue.  The film is about complete emotional breakdown in the family. The characters in this film really suffer from the inability to communicate. Sometimes when that happens, even though you love hugely, it’s impossible to express it. It can seem like just touching the person that you love is like moving through molasses, like you can’t quite get to them.

I’m about creating bridges of intimacy and communication between people. If an effect of the film is that parents and kids listen to one another a little bit more, then that would be a cool thing.

What does it take to be a successful filmmaker?:
I think all of us have to define what is the most valuable to us, what defines success, and what our intentions are with making the work in the first place. Other people will say to be a successful filmmaker means you have to win an Academy Award, or earn a million dollars at the box office. So it’s a very personal thing. For me, being successful is a film-by-film question.

My intention in making i am a good person, i am a bad person was to create certain challenges for myself and to make a film that is almost like a theatre piece that can be only shown in limited time frames. And that the box office from this film is going to generate more micro budget films. If I can make five feature films out of the box office from The Royal, that will be successful to me.

Budding Toronto filmmakers: don’t forget to check out pUNK Film’s $1000 Feature Film Challenge! You could get $1,000 to produce your very own film. To learn more, click here.

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How to Potty Train in Three Days

Link to original article here (iVillage) or here (Yahoo! Shine)

It’s Potty Time!

No mom has ever avoided the dreaded potty training experience. Messes, being sequestered in the home, naked bums walking around the house – these are some of the things moms go through during the potty training process.

No wonder so many moms want to get it out of the way and be done with it. Enter the quick-training guide. While Dr. Sears advises against rushing a child who is not ready, some say it can indeed be accomplished in three scant days.

If this is something you wish to explore, read ahead for information to consider.

Things to Consider Before you Begin

Development: When will your child be ready?

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends a child-oriented approach to toilet training. Most children develop bowel and bladder control somewhere between 24 and 48 months, but the muscles surrounding the opening of the bladder and bowel begin to mature around 18 months. This is generally the optimal time to begin introducing the potty.

But physical development isn’t the only factor. A child must also be psychologically ready. Click ahead for a list  to help you determine if your child is psychologically ready to begin training.

Is Your Child Ready?

– Able to walk to the potty chair (or adapted toilet seat)

– Stable while sitting on the potty (or adapted toilet seat)

– Able to remain dry for several hours

– Receptive language skills allow the child to follow simple (one- and two-step) commands

– Expressive language skills permit the child to communicate the need to use the potty (or adapted toilet seat) with words or reproducible gestures

– Desire to please, based on positive relationship with caregivers

– Desire for independence, and control of bladder and bowel function

Time: Are YOU ready?

Once development has been addressed it’s time to decide whether you or your caregiver has the time to devote to training.

The process can take anywhere from three to six months, but don’t let this information discourage you. Understanding your child’s physical capabilities can help you avoid a battle with a child who is just not ready.

Ready, Set…

Now that readiness has been established, we turn to the quick-training gurus to help you shorten the course.

Mommy blogger, Crystal, at Growing a Jeweled Rose, shares her success story “…in hopes of encouraging and empowering you to make potty training a smooth and positive transition.”

Crystal used Julie Fellom’s Diaper Free Toddlers program as described on babycenter.com.

Preparing For Your “Naked Weekend”

– Talk to your child about the potty in the days leading up to the “naked weekend” to help prepare them for the process. Reading potty training books geared toward little ones will help your tyke understand what they are about to embark upon.

– Bring your child to help pick out his or her potty to build excitement. Also let them select their big kid undies. Colourful ones with their favourite cartoon character will make them excited to shed the diaper.

– Set up a reward system. Crystal says it is particularly helpful in this program. Pick out the prizes on the same day as the potty and undies.

– Clear your calendar. You need to set aside three days (the weekend tends to be the most convenient) when you don’t leave the house.

– The most important piece of advice is that your child should be completely naked from the waist down for the entire three days.

…Go!

Now it’s time to begin the actual training. E-how recommends using positive reinforcement and praise for a job well done. Saying things like “you are such a big girl/boy,” when your child stays dry will encourage him, who wants nothing more than to please you.

Get Him Involved

Involve your child in tossing out unused diapers (much like we throw out junk food when we decide to eat healthfully). Once there are no more diapers, explain to your child that it’s time to begin using the potty.

Show her where to go pee and poo and tell her to let you know when she feels the urge to tinkle. They key message to get across is that she needs to try her best to stay dry.

Positive Reinforcement

Stay close by and monitor his expressions and remind him of the potty’s existence and purpose. If there is an accident, don’t scold or say negative things like “you are a bad boy,” instead indicate that his underwear is wet and take him to the potty to finish emptying himself.

When he finally uses the potty, make a big deal out of it. Do a little dance or sing a little song and be otherwise very excited. Now is the time to reward him with one of the prizes you picked out together. It’s not a bribe, just a treat.

Repeat this process for three days and by the end your child will have gotten the hang of using the potty. That’s not to say there won’t be accidents, particularly at night, but he will be well on his way.

Some Final Words of Advice

– Encourage fluid intake during the process and keep drinks nearby

– Stop liquids two to three hours before bedtime

– Be consistent; don’t go back to diapers

– Don’t force your child to use the potty

– Don’t let her sit on the potty if she isn’t using it

– Remember some children need to train longer

 

The Baby Bikini Onesie That is Horrifying Everyone

*Link to original post here (iVillage) or here (Yahoo! Shine)

A recent article in the Huffington Post  about the introduction of the baby bikini onesie in a Southaven, MS Gordmans has sparked fury among locals. Cries of indecency, and worries over pedophiles being enticed by wee ones donning the garment, have exploded all over the World Wide Web.

Is it tacky? Yes. Is it distasteful? Absolutely. Will it draw child predators out of the woodwork? Doubtful. At least not any more than a baby in a bathing suit would. After all, it’s innocence that these sickos prey upon. Not the sight of a fully mature woman’s body in a bikini.

However, I’m a big believer in letting kids be kids. Beauty pageants for toddlers rub me the wrong way. A toddler trained to be cheeky and coy in order to win a beauty competition is sending the message that being sexually desirable is how girls should behave to be accepted. What makes it any different from putting an 18-month-old baby girl in that onesie? A baby doesn’t understand what they are wearing.

At what point does a piece of clothing or mannerism become too much? There doesn’t seem to be a definitive line that when crossed is considered inappropriate. Maybe that’s the real problem. We need clear boundaries.

The baby bikini onesie is probably harmless. I’m neither indifferent nor appalled at the idea of this garment. It just leaves me shaking my head. The crotchless panties mentioned in the article, on the other hand, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

 

10 Things You Need to Know About Yahoo’s Newest CEO Marissa Mayer

*Link to original article here

Former key spokesperson for Google, and mama-to-be, Marissa Mayer, has just been appointed as president and CEO of Yahoo!

When news of Mayer’s pregnancy came out in June, none of the board directors batted an eye. A bold move, Mayer says, that shows Yahoo’s forward thinking.

statement from Yahoo! said that Mayer coming on board signals a renewed focus on product innovation to drive user experience. Yahoo! Co-founder, David Filo, says he is looking forward to working with Mayer to enhance Yahoo’s product offerings.

As Google’s first female engineer, Mayer is responsible for designing and engineering a suite of geographical products including Google Maps and Google Earth.

Mayer holds a B.S in symbolic systems and a M.S in computer science from Stanford University, with a specialization in artificial intelligence in both.

While Mayer’s intelligence and ground-breaking work impresses us, she’s also a well-rounded individual, which is yet another example of how being a modern woman means working on having it all.

Here are 10 things we learned about the Finnish maven, thanks to her Twitter account:

  • She’s having a boy! Mayer announced that her and husband, Zack Bogue, are expecting a baby boy in October.
  • She’s watching Breaking Bad. Although she is late hopping aboard the Breaking Badbandwagon, she plans to play catch-up by watching an episode every day.
  • She’s a fan of mariachi bands. In honour of Cinco de Mayo, Mayer signed up for “on-demand, mariachi” where you can request a fiesta.
  • She’s a Skier. Vail is great, Marissa, but nothing rivals our Canadian slopes!
  • She’s the go-to-gal for Holiday gadget shopping. Check out her picks at Geek Sugar
  • She’s a golfer. The lucky gal has golfed in Hawaii
  • She enjoys McDonald’s Shamrock shakes. Who doesn’t get excited when these frozen delights make their yearly appearance? There are less than eight months until the next batch!
  • She ran in the San Francisco marathon.
  • She’s a daredevil. She participated in the zero gravity experience aboard a modified Boeing 727.
  • She’s stylish. Vanity Fair listed her on their annual best-dressed poll. Did we mention her wedding appeared in Vogue?

Should Babies Get Their Ears Pierced?

*Link to original post here (iVillage) or here (Yahoo! Shine)

Infant ear piercing is on the growing list of controversial parenting decisions. It ranks up there with formula feeding, circumcision and spanking. If you’re thinking about getting your little girl’s ears pierced, there are a few things you should know first.

I’m one of the rare females who has never had her ears pierced. My mother couldn’t bring herself to cause me any needless pain. Yet when my younger sister turned four and requested “pretty earrings” my mother obliged. Off we went to the local salon where my sister exchanged cries for two “sleeper” hoops.

It’s been more than two decades since I witnessed my sister’s tearful piercing experience and my ears are still void of artificial holes. I now have two daughters of my own who have their ears pierced, but I didn’t take them in as infants. (I could barely stomach their immunizations.) They each chose to get them done on their eighth birthdays (they are six years apart). It was over quickly, and no tears were shed. There were no complications and they were easy to care for.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “If the piercing is performed carefully and cared for conscientiously, there is little risk, no matter what the age of the child.” While this may be the case, the AAP suggests waiting to get your little one’s ears pierced until she is old enough to manage the after care herself.

Some parents feel that it’s best to get their children’s ears pierced early. Jackie got her daughter’s ears pierced when she was four-and-a-half months old. They went to a local jewellery store where two piercers completed the task simultaneously. But it wasn’t without complication. One of her little girl’s ears had to be redone as it was pierced too close to the edge. “I had a bit of a fit, but she didn’t notice at all,” she says.

Other parents, like Katie, are waiting until their baby is old enough to make the decision herself. While Katie receives pressure from friends telling her she should get her baby’s ears pierced because she is a girl, she is firm in her decision. “Piercing her ears isn’t going to make her any more of a girl than she already is.”

You may also wish to wait, but if you don’t, here are some things you might want to consider:

There may be pain
You can apply numbing cream to your baby’s lobes, as Jackie did, to help ease the discomfort.

There may be infection
Clean according to instructions and wait the appropriate length of time before changing to other earrings. This is typically four to six weeks.

There may be an allergic reaction
Choose hypoallergenic earrings to avoid possible metal sensitivities.

There may be a choking hazard
The AAP recommends using earrings with locking or screw-on backs for infants and young children to avoid ingestion or aspiration.

Cake trends of 2012

*Link to original article here

Whether you are looking for a simple, traditional cake or a more elaborate, over-the-top confection to celebrate your wedding day, current trends influence the choice you make.

Make way for buttercream

Fondant is going out the door and buttercream is taking its place. Not only is buttercream better tasting, it is a more cost-effective option, says Zerlene Mekdeci, event coordinator at Impresario Events in Toronto.

She says: A lot of people don’t like the taste and will peel it off.

What’s old is new again

Red velvet is giving way to more traditional flavours. Consider your guests. If you have three layers, you’re safe with vanilla and chocolate as two of the three.”

Fresh flowers remain a signature wedding cake staple, especially red roses. These never go out of style, says Zerlene.

Traditional, multi-tiered cakes have been a wedding staple for years and this year is no exception.

Fashion influences cakes

Brides are embracing traditional white cake. A cake with a great deal of colouring can stain teeth.

Colour-blocking is often an inspiration for wedding cakes. Just an accent of colour can make the cake’s details pop against a white canvas.

Cake trends tend to mirror fashion trends. Brides sometimes want to match some of the elements of their dress.

Bold colours can be incorporated in the flowers or painted directly onto the dessert.

Ruffles on wedding dresses are now repeated on wedding cakes – another example of the two worlds combining.

Pocketbook friendly

Many of these trends are largely cost-driven with less work meaning lower costs. Ruffles are easier for a cake artist to do compared to intricate handwork such as embroidery.

While fresh flowers are a beautiful accent, they are also cost-effective because cake artists don’t have to make every single flower by hand with gum paste.

Gamini Hemalal of GoldenChefs and ICEGUYS in Toronto says that the budget plays a big role in making the final choice. More elaborate cakes are always available with prices ranging from $400 to $5,000, but most modern cakes are less costly because they are being kept simple.

3 Different grills for the family

*Link to web article here (Originally published in ParentsCanada, July 2012)

Perhaps influenced by cooking shows dedicated to grilling, charcoal grills have become a popular choice for home chefs looking to take their cooking talents outdoors, says Duff Dixon, president of the world’s largest BBQ store, Ontario Gas BBQ. They won’t replace your gas or electric grills but they have become a cooking staple for the avid griller. “Everyone’s got busy lifestyles. The kids are hungry, you got home late and just wanna throw a couple of burgers on the gas grill,” says Duff. “Then on the weekend, pull out a charcoal barbeque and start to do some real cooking.”

Electric

Electric grills have come a long way and are a great option for highrise living (where permitted). While they aren’t as big as gas barbeques, electric grills will allow you to cook your favourites, like hamburgers and chicken breasts.

Propane vs natural gas

Put these two side-by-side and you’ll notice no difference in temperature or performance. A natural gas grill is more convenient in that you won’t have to refi ll a propane tank. If you have a natural gas line set up in a convenient location, a natural gas grill might be right for you

Charcoal

A charcoal grill will cook your steaks, veggies and burgers just as well as your other grills. Choose this grill if you are looking for flavour. Try enhancing your flavours with different kinds of charcoal, varying in origin from North America to Africa to Argentina.