Seeds Of Change

This year we decided to start a little garden on our balcony. 

Every morning, we would water our tomato plant, maintain it, and nothing would happen! 

I thought to myself, “Am I giving it enough water?” 

We would check on it another day, and I would think,

 “Is it getting enough sun?”  

Oh man, no sign of life. Did we kill this plant?” 

Soon enough, I would see little flowers come out. A little later, I would see tiny bulbs start to emerge. A few weeks later, those small baby bulbs would grow, become green and slowly change colour. It may seem silly, but that first red tomato we picked felt like an accomplishment, we were proud that we not only kept this plant alive, but it was thriving! It was months before that first tomato. 

I will be the first to admit that I never thought it was possible. For one, it never crossed my mind. I had trouble keeping an orchid alive, nevermind a garden. My expectations for this little venture were low, to say the least.

Reflecting on that experience reminds me that growth is still happening even if we can’t see the growth outright. Change and growth happen slow through consistent action over time. It seems counter-intuitive given our reliance on instant gratification. It’s important to hang in there and keep taking steps in the direction of our goals and whatever habits we want to build.

There will be days where it feels more comfortable not to do the thing when it feels hard to see any gains. When you wonder why bother? Look for the small wins every day. Embrace those small wins, celebrate them and keep moving forward. 

Happy 100th Birthday to My Nonno

I was lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with my grandfather as a young boy. I would now be more than happy to show my grandfather the man I became, the woman I married, his great-daughter and get his opinion on the world I live in. My earliest memories of my grandfather are from when I was just a few years old. 

My grandfather worked hard all his life.  He came to Canada as an immigrant from Southern Italy. The long hours and hard work were necessary to provide for his family. My grandfather was not wealthy by any means, but he always had food on his table and a roof over his family’s heads.

My childhood is filled with precious memories of him. He would pick me up at school, play with me on lazy afternoons, shower me with gifts (which I still have to this day) and I would spend numerous hours with him in his precious garden. He seemed always eager to spend time with me.

Even now, when I think back to those childhood moments with him, I feel very loved and special to him. I wish every child could have that same feeling about their grandparents. I was lucky to have many great years with my grandfather until he passed away when I was young. During those years, he taught me several life lessons that I hope to follow and pass on to my family.

Today I celebrate my grandfather’s memory as 100 years ago he was born to be my nonno.

There is nothing more important than family.

If your grandparents were still alive, how old would they be?

3 Years Already!?

What, how has this happened, now? My baby girl is 3 years old already. It has been an entire 3 years since those surreal sleepless nights since she entered our lives.

Her arrival followed an on-and-off, feeding which felt like forever at the time – particularly for my brilliant wife. But the subsequent 3 years have absolutely flown by.

But so much has happened in that time. Our cat has grown from a kitten to a cat – who has turned out to be our daughter’s guardian. My daughter went from crawling to running, my wife and I have had monthly date nights and our family has travelled every year to the beautiful Caribbean (more travels to come after Covid-19 is finally over)!

I’ve gone through three jobs in that time too, including making working full-time from home my new normal. We have adjusted our diet for the better and we are working on our daily habits.

I’m so proud of the kid she growing up to be. She’s kind, clever, funny and not afraid to be herself.

So, our daughter is turning 3. Our little lady isn’t so little anymore, figuratively and literally – she’s growing daily and I can’t seem to keep up sometimes.

The last 3 years, although exhausting and incredibly rewarding, has been an absolute privilege and I’m looking forward to many more years to come.

Happy Birthday, young lady!

Italian Food Without The Meatballs

This year, my wife and I decided to go Vegan. We decided to go vegan or plant-based for various reasons, but mainly for the animals, to help stop climate change, be a role-model for our daughter and to improve and maintain our wellbeing.

Our dietary requirements were tricky at first, as we did not want to miss out on authentic food experiences and eating the cuisines we love. At our household, Italian inspired dishes are mainly the cuisine of choice.

You might think that Italian cuisine, famous for pizza and pasta, won’t have plant-based options. However, this is actually not the case, as Italian cuisine has a treasure trove of plant-based options. Vegan Pizza, lentils soup with tasty vegetables, pasta al Pomodoro (pasta with tomato) and Spaghetti Aglio (spaghetti with olive oil), are some of our yummy favourites!

Italian cuisine is great for vegans because there are naturally so many plant-based options. It’s also easy to replace dairy or meat in so many delicious dishes. One thing to keep in mind is that Italian cuisine varies from one region to the next with their own plant-based options.

Traditional authentic Italian food is mostly a plant-based cuisine, compared to what you’ll find from the exported version that’s served in Italian restaurants in North America.

The Italian regions from the south, animal products are used rarely, if at all, in many traditional dishes. And olive oil is used in almost every dish, so you rarely have to worry about butter or meat products.

You can enjoy and create a plant-based Italian cuisine without the meatballs, which have the taste that brings back memories of the family dinners.

Mikey’s Travels – Calabria – Best of Southern Italy

Sun, sea, food, wine and quality of life – sums up this diverse and captivating region of Italy.

Calabria is at the toe of the boot, the extreme south of Italy – lapped by the splendid crystal blue sea and separated from Sicily. The warm climate, the beautiful colours of the sea, rocky coasts that alternate with sandy beaches, a nature that is wild and mysterious, the strong and genuine flavours of local food and the vestiges of its ancient origins make Calabria a unique place.

Calabria is unlikely to be the first place in Italy you’d visit. But if you’re intent on seeing a candid and uncensored version of la dolce vita, look no further!

Calabrese food is wonderful – spicy and built on sun-ripened produce and the freshest possible meat.

Calabria’s unofficial symbol is the horn-shaped red chilli pepper. Not only does it add a spicy kick to any dish, it also wards off malocchio (the evil eye).

Calabria is a land of salumi, you have to taste it. Soppressata is Calabria’s origin-protected, cured, flattened sausage made from pork. YUM!

In Calabria, the most common term you might hear is riposo. In Calabria, just about everything is closed from around 12-5 p.m. People don’t necessarily spend these hours napping, but it’s still a time to rest, especially in smaller villages. Because of these breaks, you won’t be able to get a whole lot done in the afternoon anyway, so it’s best to get out and about early, rest in the afternoon, and then stay out late. The Italian way.

Mikey’s Travels – Taipei – Ilha Formosa

Often overlooked, China’s nearby island neighbour Taiwan is impressively scenic, exhibiting beautiful coastlines, dense greenery, soaring mountains, serene lakes, and lush rural farm lands.

My first stop in the island was Taipei in the north, the nation’s capital and largest urban centre, boasting the world’s second tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101.

I strongly recommend taking a night tour with a local guide. The local guides brought colour to the sights, sounds and monuments throughout the city.

How is the food you might ask? From the fresh oyster omelette, mouth-watering sesame chicken and golden-brown fried taro balls served up in the night markets, to the many delicious incarnations of beloved beef noodle soup found all over the island, the Taiwanese approach to food is one of both modern flair and deep tradition.

My favourite dish was the xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) With must-see sights such as Taipei 101 Taipei delivers the perfect balance of flavours in an often overlooked foodie paradise.

Who Are Your Favourite Bloggers?

WordPress Friends,

Today’s post boils down to a simple question.

With a toddler, discovering new blogs isn’t always possible. WordPress used to have the community pool and First Fridays which were great opportunities for bloggers to showcase their work. Lately, I’ve found myself scrolling through the reader stumbling upon great posts and then not remembering the name of the blog.  I figured together we could discover new blogs which brings me to my question.

Who are your favourite bloggers and why?

Leave your response with a link to the blog and be sure to check out a new blog you could be pleasantly surprised.

If you are wondering if it would be totally uncool to say yourself. It’s not.

Alright, let’s get this ball rolling.

Happy Discovering!

Get Up And Dance With Your Baby!

Have you ever found yourself wondering what the heck to do with a baby? Um, yeah, pretty sure we all have. Well, you’re in luck, because here’s an idea…                             

DANCE WITH YOUR BABY!

Don’t worry about feeling silly, your baby will more than likely LOVE it and I bet it will put you in a pretty good mood, too. Find your favorite groove – be it Wheels on the Bus – and get to work as your baby’s favorite dance partner.

As a new parent, the last thing on your mind may be dancing the night away, let alone finding the time to fit in a workout between diaper changes. Why not make dancing an activity you and your new baby can do together?

Tips on dancing with baby:

  • Keep your knees slightly bent, abs drawn in, neck relaxed
  • Avoid quick or jerky movements
  • Support a newborn’s head, neck and spine
  • Hold older babies with good neck control securely on your hip

Have you danced with your baby? What songs or music have you danced to? Please share!

Splat Mat- How I Love Thee

DAYTIME. INTERIOR. There are two characters SPLAT MAT & ME. ME is walking through the aisles of a store that caters to little people of all ages. Hello by Lionel Ritchie can be heard in the background.

SPLAT MAT:

Hello?

ME stops and tries to identify who or what is calling her.

SPLAT MAT:

Is it me you’re looking for?

ME notices SPLAT MAT and starts reading the box.

ME:

Spill-proof fabric? Easy to clean? Machine washable?

SPLAT MAT:

I can see it in your eyes.

ME smiles and starts to nods enthusiastically.

ME:

You’re all I ever wanted. I love you.

The First Year Of Fatherhood

I survived an entire year as a father and lived to tell the tale!

The celebration of my daughter’s first birthday felt as it was almost more about my wife and I than it was about the actual baby.

It’s funny how I anticipated and got excited over the completion of those opening 365 days of child-raising. That’s like 10,000 diapers or something.

But there’s something about getting through an official year and hitting that milestone that forces us into a bit of reflection. It feels like this awesome achievement I’ve just unlocked.

Sure, I proved to myself that I can actually do this without breaking a baby for an entire year – an accomplishment in and of itself, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg called parenthood.

As a first time parent, this is the perfect time to step back and reflect and pat myself on the back (and of course my wife) that I helped raise a little person into a one year old. It allows for the opportunity to look within to see how I’ve changed as a person while managing to raise an actual little person.

Either way, as the first year comes to a close, it’s fun to look back and reflect over just how much that appreciation for my daughter grew into the unconditional love that it is today.