Tuesday, 16 October 2012

What to do about bullies?

First of all, my condolences to go out to the family of Amanda Todd, I find it so sad that she had to commit suicide to get some serious attention given to her problems with bullies.

I have had many conversations about Bullies in the past week, as I am sure you have, it is the top story on every news show and newspaper around here, hard not to have an opinion.  But I admit I have trouble writing about it because there is just no clear solution to this problem!

My Dad talks about bullies from when he was kid, my spouse talks about halling off and punching anyone who tried to pick on him, (both he and my dad agreed that always worked).  I remember a movie I watched recently where a girl vomited on a bully's shoes, that worked too!

I know as a parent I did my best to teach my kids to stand up for themselves, but I have always been against hitting or violence of any kind.  Schools taught us to communicate with our kids, make sure they know to tell an adult that they trust about bullies or anyone or thing that makes them uncomfortable etc, etc.

My problem was, what do I do when they tell me someone is bullying them, (I am not going to hall off and hit someone) there was no manual for me as a parent to follow.  I tried the approach of talking to the other parent, who of course denied that little Johnny would ever do such a thing, so then there is a talk with a Teacher and the Principle, but the are also limited in what they can do.  Luckily for my kids bullying was never a serious problem, but they did have a really large Dad so if it ever came to be a problem, my best recourse would be to defer to him. (maybe that is what they meant when they said tell an adult you trust...pick a really big one?)

Now my kids did grow up with internet, and cell phones, but Facebook didn't hit until they were in their teens, I am sure a lot of stupid stuff was emailed around but cyber bullying has gotten a lot more common place in the last 5 years.  I know for a fact that grade 8 girls are the worst bullies that one can ever meet, they work in packs, picking on the girl who just does not meet their standards for whatever reason.  In person this can be awful, online where you do not have to be face to face, it gets so much worse.  Personally I think all grade 8 girls should be banned from social media until they mature a bit more. (of course just one opinion)   We all know that banning your kids from using something only makes them use it more behind your back, so never mind that suggestion.

I love Shelley Fralic's column on this topic, it is time to out the bullies, post their photos online like the stanley cup rioters, shame them publicly.
I think it would be great if Newspapers published more stories about people who were/are bullies, with full apologies to their victims, like this one: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Former+bully+speaks+about+guilt+forgiveness+life+after+high+school/7387246/story.html

I see no need to wait for the government to do something, although there does need to be some new laws dealing with cyber crimes, Kids and parents know who the bullies are, we need to step in and help  any kid who is being bullied.  I am not saying you need to be cruel, violent or even mean to a bully, just tell them to stop, and if they don't there will be a consequence.  (this is the part we are missing now "the consequence")  I agree with Shelley Fralic, the consequence needs to be a public one, photo posted online, or on TV, and make them change schools if needed, not the victim!

Just my 2cents!

Monday, 15 October 2012

"Gluten Free" is not a weight loss diet

I have now been wheat free for 11 months now, I was only going to try it for 30 days, but now I cannot go back, I wish I could, but every time I try to eat wheat I get the runs (probably more than you wanted to know sorry!)
Recently, I have found more restaurants that offer Gluten free meals, more bakeries that make good bread (spelt bread is my favorite see my June 26/12 post) as well as more news about people going Gluten free.

Honestly, I don't see the attraction to this diet, eating rice bread instead of a good whole wheat or multigrain bread is a big compromise in taste, and fiber, and it costs more!  There is NO Fiber in rice bread, and it is crumbly and so disappointing that you probably won't eat it, so Yes if you give up bread entirely you will lose weight, (unless you replace it with something equally high in carbs of course).  Potatoes are gluten free, but french are not always gluten free(usually because of the oil they are cooked in), so giving up french fries will also lead to weight loss, unless you continue to eat a lot of potatoes.

Bottom line, as with any diet, you will only lose weight if you limit the calories you put in your mouth.
I found this article online, about a reporter that tried to go gluten free for a week, not a well informed experiment, but the writer does admit to losing 3 pounds only because she ate less.


Yesterday my Dad, (who eats too much bread, big round belly to prove it, but he is 81 and you should be able to eat whatever you want when reach that age if you ask me), but I digress.......mentions that his brother (also in his 80's) has lost 15 lbs by giving up wheat.  Hmmmm I ask "did he give up wheat or stop eating bread?"  He is not sure, but I am not surprised that he lost weight, I am really surprised that this "no wheat idea" is so mainstream that my 80 year old relatives are not only talking about it but giving it a try.

Last week the Vancouver Sun had this article about how Gluten Free has become the latest fad, so much so that things like Gluten free shampoo are now on the market.  Really are we that stupid?  When has your shampoo every effected your diet?


I am glad that there are more options on the market now for those of us who need to be wheat free, or gluten free or whatever ails us, but there are many times when it is just dam inconvenient!  Like a road trip to Kelowna, most of you would stop at a subway or a burger place on the side of road for lunch or a snack on the 4 hour trip, but there is nothing there that is wheat free.....on a plane or a vacation, or just a shopping trip into town with friends, you need to plan what you can eat!  Take something with you or order the sandwich or burger without the bun.  (again you will be limiting what you eat, no carbs so you will lose some weight, but you may also be hungry and grumpy!)

To anyone who wants to go Gluten Free to lose weight, you need to know how inconvenient and expensive it is, a loaf of bread is $7, and ordering a gluten free burger with or without the bun is more expensive because the cooks have to handle your food differently.  All diets take will power, but counting calories, cutting down on carbs, costs much less and is a much more "real" way to live and manage your weight.

Personally, I have lost a few pounds and gained them back just like I have before I was wheat free, I have found really good wheat free bread, cookies and muffins.  None of the good stuff is low in calories, so if I eat too much I gain weight!  

Friday, 12 October 2012

Everlasting Friends

I saw this posted on facebook the other day and I totally agree..........

 It's been said that everlasting friends go long periods of time without speaking and never question their friendship.  These friends pick up phones like they just spoke yesterday, regardless how long it has been or how far away they live, and they don't hold grudges.  They understand that life is busy and you will always love them.

I believe I have many friends that fit this description.  I had lunch with a couple of them this week, it had been months since we had seen each others faces, chatted on the phone or even texted, but seeing them just made me so happy.  Not just the hugs, and catching up with each others lives, but the wonderful feeling that we can be such good friends even if we do not see each other every week.

I often worry that if I have not seen someone for months or years, that maybe I have lost that friend, but I now believe that true friends are forever.

I have 3 friends that I grew up with, graduated high school together (apparently 35 years ago), we have done our best to stay in touch.  At first it was 4 times a year on each others Birthdays, then it went down to twice a year, and now it is one weekend a year that all 4 of us get together all at once.  ( I do see and talk to them individually throughout the year as well) We recently did our girls weekend combined with our High School Reunion, we talked so much I had a scratchy throat for a week!  It was a fabulous and memorable weekend as always. (sorry can't share all the memorable part)

The High School reunion always gets me as well, we have been to 4 or 5 of them now, and all those old friends, some I have known since Elementary school, some I met in High school.....they are still my good friends. Well, as good of friends as you can be when you only see each other every 5 years, but that feeling of everlasting friendship is there.(for me anyway, I am not going to worry about what they think) It is always great to catch up with people you liked when you were younger and still like now!  There must be some great lesson in there about picking good friends, they last forever!

Anyway friends old and new, you all make me very happy!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Buying our retirement home

If you have been reading my blogs you know that at the start of the summer this year we made a plan to search for the place in BC we would like to retire to.  We decided quite quickly that the Okanagan was the place for us.  It has more sunny days, more hot days, beautiful lake views, and reasonable housing prices.  We ruled out Osoyoos, Oliver, Penticton, and all small towns in between, as we just could not see ourselves downsizing that much.  Kelowna is the only city with a Winners store, so that made my decision easy (kidding......, but seriously there has to be good shopping, I am retiring not dead!)

Kelowna has all the things we are looking for, starting with the lake view, restaurants, golf courses, wineries, crossfit gyms, International Airport (so we can fly away in the winter) shopping, and lake activities.  I read about a new development called West Harbour Estates, in the Vancouver Sun and put that on our original list of places to see.  You can check it out here  http://westharbourkelowna.com/

We met a fabulous realtor who showed us many areas of Kelowna before we saw West Harbour Estates, so we were quite confident this was the location we wanted the first day we saw it.  After we came home we investigated a bit more, before going back to buy a lot.

Things that I have learned:

  1. Talk to an expert, this development is on Indian Land, 99 year prepaid lease.  I know nothing about this, so our Realtor gave us a phone number for a Lawyer who would answer our questions for free.  He put us at ease, and he became the lawyer we used for the conveyancing.
  2. Use a Realtor who knows the area to represent you.  New developments have realtors in their show homes that will do it all for you, but they have the developers interest to deal with, it costs you nothing to have your own realtor who only cares about you.
  3. Although new homes come with warranty's, it is very handy to have an expert to check out the construction and look for flaws.  (lucky me, I live with an expert just like that)  The construction of these homes was done very well, but the finishings are where they are obviously trying to save money.   Light fixtures, kitchen cabinets are things you can upgrade if you choose.   We liked the price of the house the way it is, so we chose not to spend more money on higher quality finishes, these are things we can upgrade later if we want to stay in this neighbourhood.  The worst thing we found was cracks in the driveway, a new driveway should not be sinking if put on a proper base.  So when we wrote our offer to purchase we had our realtor include that we wanted the driveway redone properly.  We ended up getting a very good deal, and held back the funds to redo the driveway properly.
  4. Read your home owner's warranty: get a copy before you make an offer, see what it covers (driveways are not covered for cracks), if you don't understand what the warranty covers, call the provider of the warranty.  I did, and they were very happy to help me, and gave me kudos for asking before I spent my money.
  5. I have trust issues.....although that salesman in the show room is a really nice guy....he's a salesman....I have been married to a couple of salesman, you really cannot trust everything they say.... in this case I think my issues made me more cautious and therefore wiser!  
  6. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and if you don't like the answers say so, put any changes you would like to see in writing with your offer.
  7. We are very happy with the builder in this new development, they have made it very clear that they will do whatever they can to make us happy, as they would like us to spread the word about our new home, and bring in more buyers.  So talk to the neighbours before you buy.

We did intend on buying a lot and house package to be built to our liking, but actually ended up with a house that was already complete, as someone had walked away from their deposit.  We love the view from this house, and got a good deal, did I mention it comes with a boat slip, and a park with a pool and hot tub right out our front door!  Now we are really looking forward to retirement!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Ever heard of Empire Vehicles?

I have been trying to sell my Fabulous convertible on my own for about 6 weeks now.  I wish I didn't have to sell this car, but it is only a summer car and there will no room for it in our new house next year.  So I thought I try to sell it in August/September when the weather is still sunny.

I  started by talking to my VW dealer to see what they would buy my car for and their opinion of the current value of my car.  Neither number was to my liking.  I really was hoping they would just buy it cause, trying to sell a car on your own is a pain in the butt!

So I did my own research of what similar cars were listed for online, and picked my price (still way lower than what I was hoping for) and posted ads on Craigslist, Kijii, Auto trader & Auto 123.

I have had a few responses but no one serious enough to come look at it.  A couple days ago I got a call from a girl named Ellen, she was just making general inquiries into the condition of my car, I assume she got my phone number by emailing me but I did not get an email from an Ellen?  The call display on my phone showed Empire Vehicles, but she didn't get to that part until I asked, "what is Empire Vehicles"?

Then the speel began.... for $41 a week we will do the advertising for you, we offer financing to the buyers, and have high demand for your vehicle right now.  It is not unusual for vehicles to sell within 2 weeks using our service, when your car sells we will reimburse the total cost of your advertising fee, because we make our money from financing end.

Now you know the old saying, if something seems too good to be true..... I asked where they advertise, and was told, the Vancouver Sun, Driving.ca, auto trader, all places I could just advertise myself, but they do it for me......hmmm I told her I would think about it and she immediately lowered the price to $33 per week, "we really have a high demand for your car right now!"........Ya right (I wanted to believe her, cause I really would like to sell my car) I told her I would call her back.

Then I googled Empire Vehicles......this site pretty much sums up what I found. http://empire-vehicle-solutions-scam.com/

Yes it is too good to be true!