Friday, August 28, 2015

We Can't Wait to Walk for SickKids again!

Do you have a SickKids story? We do. 

We've seen the miracles, first hand, that take place within those walls at SickKids. 
camp_for_keeps

We were been given the gift of 3 years with our child, when the odds were against him from the start. 
Not nearly enough, but we may never have known how truly amazing he was and how much he would change us in such a short time.

We know the pain and struggles that parents feel when they are told that their child is fighting for their life.  
We looked them in the eyes as they told us exactly what we were up against and they committed to doing their best.

We know the joys and victories as the weakest little miracles are transformed into strong and powerful survivors. 
Our two week old Zack surprised the doctors when he survived an open chest after his heart surgery.

We know the comfort of knowing that the nurses and doctors are working hard to fight for your child's life. 
The OR team continued to perform CPR for 40 minutes when Zack's heart stopped.

We know the sensitivity with which the entire hospital treats our little babies and the way in which they embrace them and cheer them on. 
Nurse Sarah washed Zack's hair, read to him and played our lullabies, when we left the Cardiac Critical Care Unit to go home and see our other two boys.

We've seen the compassion with which the staff treat parents, like us, in their last moments with their sweet child.
Molds of our hands entwined, clippings of his hair and dim lights all provided comfort as we said goodbye.

There are no words to express how SickKids has impacted our lives and how, even though Zack is gone, they continue to embrace us as family.

We are honoured to walk with other families who have a story, on Saturday, September 26th. Zack's Dream Team will join more than 2,000 campers (participants), crew and volunteers on our THIRD Canaccord Genuity Great Camp Adventure Walk for SickKids

Want to know more about this day you and your kids won't ever forget?

1. Inspiring: When you first arrive at "camp" early Saturday morning you get to meet the other families who will also be walking around Toronto. All of these parents and kids have a story, a connection to SickKids that is unique and special. If you are lucky, you will have a chance to talk to many of them and share what has inspired you to walk that day!  

2. Fun: Collect your badges and bling your lanyard as campers are encouraged to visit campsites around the city for mural painting, relay races, dance lessons, water play, crafts, and more. Be active as a family, talk and laugh along the beautiful route around the streets of Toronto. I promise it will be an incredible day to make memories and have fun as a family, for an amazing cause.


3. Do it at your own pace: We've walked all 20km for 2 years, but the boys have stopped at 10km both times. There is no need to do it all, even 5km is a "win" when it comes to this unique walk. Once participants have walked as far as they can go, they can return to base camp for more activities and snacks! 

Donate to Zack's Dream Team and help other families have one more hour, one more day, one more year or an entire lifetime with their child.

Want to create your own team? Use the code "social" to get $10 off all registrations and follow along on social media @WalkforSickKid.

Enter for your chance to win 1 of 5 $100 donations to a team of your choosing (Zack's Dream Team?) and an additional $100 for the winner themselves!
The Great Camp Adventure Walk for SickKids Promotion Contest

Thursday, August 27, 2015

From the moment we met her




From the moment we met her, we knew she was meant to be ours.

From the moment we met her, she fit just right in our family.

From the moment we met her, she brought smiles and laughter back to our home.

From the moment we met her, we were ready to fall in love.

We had been waiting for a puppy since the fall before Zackie died.  We really felt ready to welcome a new member into our family and actually thought that a puppy might be really good for Zack. When the first litter was born to my BFF's dog, the litter was all male!  We had our heart set on a girl, and while we were all disappointed, part of me knew that maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

The circumstances were so clear and so right when our Roxy was finally born!  Zack had been gone for over 6 months and our home was feeling empty, sad and lonely.  We were so hopeful that our puppy would be born soon as we really all needed some good news.  The boys were getting really excited and we even started to buy some pink stuff for her.


On August 27th (one year ago!), I sat on the phone with Jill as she counted the newly born puppies; one girl, then two, then three, then four!  All FEMALES this time!  It was a screaming sign that our puppy was in this litter!  It just felt right, from the beginning.  About 2 weeks after she was born, a medium even told me that Zack had sent a "black and white" dog to us (Roxy is a salt and pepper Schnauzer!).  Jill took amazing care of the puppies and we finally got to take ours home in November.  While our Roxy was meant to be a show dog in the beginning, her crazy teeth ruined her career (yikes).  We can't really ever thank the Bermans for giving us the greatest gift at the time we needed it most.

We often discussed as a family about silly things Roxy does, that remind us of Zackie. She used to wait at the top of the stairs and get upset until someone would carry her down- just as Zackie did. She has the deepest brown eyes that seem to have a sweet spirit, a deep soul that reminds us of our amazing son's spirit. She loves us unconditionally and adores us in ways that require no talking at all- just like our Zack.  She follows the boys around, thrives on their craziness, she is so excited to see them when they arrive home from school and can't wait to snuggle with them, just like their little brother did.  The boys are always quick to say to people that she is NOT the 5th member of our family, she is the 6th, since Zack is still very much in our family....I love hearing them say that.  They even mention that she has not replaced him in any way...however we all believe that she was sent to us from Zack to bring a smile to our sad faces.


Roxy just fit so perfectly in our family.  She was an amazing puppy with a sweet spirit, playful and affectionate!  While the boys are at school, I once again have company while I work from home.  I had been missing the companionship, since Zack's death, but now I once again have someone to care for, someone who needs me and someone who loves me unconditionally.  Roxy has filled a part of the void that was left after Zack died.  She is "mommy's girl".  While she might not love the pink tshirts and sweaters I buy for her, she does love to follow me everywhere!  If I have a shower, she lays outside of the glass door.  She sleeps under my desk when I work or on the carpet when I'm in the kitchen.  She is truly "my dog"- maybe because I need her most?  She's been a light in our lives and continues to bless us by being an amazing puppy.  Whether it's coming when we call, being off leash at the lake, enjoying the family boat rides or just falling asleep on our laps, she has brought life back into our home.


Loving the boat
Off leash and loving it!
Jayden asleep with Roxy on her couch

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mixed Feelings About Going Back to School

It's back to school season and this time of year is met with mixed reviews in our house. 

Part of me is excited to get back to less time doing drop off and pick ups from camps and getting back to a regular routine. But part of me is also nervous about what this upcoming year will mean to both my boys. Ty entering grade 7 is a HUGE change with the new rotary system and he can get anxious and worried about work and doing his best all the time. I also know that this is the year I will work with the school to find more ways to help Jayden be successful in grade 3.

When it comes to my kids, I will stop at nothing to get them the help that they need and deserve. Whether it's with me or an expert, I will get support, just like I did with Zack since the day he was born. Cheerleader and advocate was a role that both challenged me and fit like a glove. I learned so much being a mom to my little boy who needed so much help and support, so when Jayden began having challenges at school last year, my "Warrior Mama" got a nudge and I started to talk to the teacher, principal and special ed teacher to find ways to help Jayden learn and thrive. 

"Why do I need to have extra help? It's not fair!" Jayden cried.

"When Zackie couldn't hear or walk, what did mommy do?" I asked.


"You got him help", he answered.

"And when you are having a tough time at school, don't you think mommy should get you some help too? I love you so much and I'd do anything for you to just make school a bit easier and even more fun. Would that make you feel better?" I explained.


"Yes, mommy, it would" was all the answer I needed to know that I was doing the right thing for my sweet boy, even if it was challenging for both of us.

It's hard to be singled out and need help at school, when so many of your friends around you don't. It's hard to be different and Jayden already feels different because he lost his brother. I worry a lot about his self-awareness, his struggles and it's impact on his developing self esteem. How do I protect my sweet boy from teasing or from feeling stupid or less than his older brother or friends? I do know that our family is one that demonstrates that all kids are different and special in their own way, that we all learn differently and that everyone has things that are tough in their lives. I also know that Paul and I will do our best to make sure Jayden feels loved, supported and celebrated every single day. 

After being turned down at school for some more advanced testing that I felt was needed, I listened to my mommy's instinct and took matters into our own hands. We just completed comprehensive private testing to really identify the way Jayden learns, how his brain works and also to provide several suggestions for ways the school can best support him. Now we are ready to hit grade 3 armed with tools, strategies and a positive attitude that this will be his year to shine!

There's really nothing like a great show to help kids through the struggles of life. For lessons about friendship, teamwork and to celebrate difference and acceptance, try the new Netflix Exclusive- DinoTrux

We really enjoy watching this together and talking about the important and timely messages throughout the show!




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer Family Fun at Centreville

Don't you love exploring your own city as a tourist? We sure do! Every summer we pick a few key spots around the GTA to have some family fun. Part of the adventure, of course, is travelling on the subway from the suburbs. We laugh all the way, remembering Jayden's first subway ride at 4. When we rode the subway downtown to meet Paul, we listened to the announcer calling out the stations. Jayden stopped in his tracks as they announced Spadina station...he looked at me and said "Mommy, he said Bagina!"



This summer, we decided to take the ferry across to Centre Island, to go to Centreville. I had never been (shocking, I know), but the boys had gone two years ago and raved about it ever since. I was so excited to share this experience with the boys this year and we planned to go on all the rides and also to explore the beautiful island! There is really nothing like the breathtaking view of our Toronto skyline from the water.



Now open 7 days a week until September (then weekends for the month), here is what you must do with your family when you visit Centreville this summer;

1. Visit the animals. Far Enough Farm is run by Centreville and is free to visit!  It was our favourite part! Getting up close and personal with the animals is something our boys have always loved...and you just have to see the new baby Llama named, Prince!  Too cute!

2. Pack a yummy picnic!  It's a great way to save some money and slow down after a busy morning on the rides.  Find a bench, eat on the beach or even just a grassy spot that you can watch all the action as it goes by! Don't forget to pack a soccer ball or baseball gloves for after you eat! If you don't pack your lunch, you can always enjoy a burger, poutine (yum), fish tacos or a gluten-free meal at the Carousel Cafe's outdoor patio.


3. Grab a delicious summer treat from the over 16 vendors on the island! Ice cream, cotton candy, funnel cake (Paul's pick every time), popcorn or enjoy the incredible view with a grown-up drink at the Toronto Island BBQ and Beer Co (right at the ferry docks).


4. Ride the roller coasters with the kids! If you have little ones, this is a great place to try out some simple rides for all ages. Take a leisurely car or boat ride, take a tour on a swan or be a little more daring on the NEW Toronto Island Mine Coaster (this one is totally MY speed!).

5. Get a little bit wet! Hit the beach (to bury your brother in the sand) or just get splashed with the Saugreen Lumber Mill Log Flume or ride the bumper boats (my kids' favourite)!

There is still time to plan your family day at Centre Island! Purchasing ride passes online before you go, will even help you save! There is no admission fee to walk around Centreville or the Far Enough Farm and you can easily spend the whole day exploring all that the island has to offer and making more family memories!

Follow them on Twitter and Facebook to learn about daily updates from the Island (helpful if you are travelling in from out of the city).

We love exploring all that Toronto has to offer, as a family! This post was generously sponsored by Centreville, but the opinions and images are my own. 
For more information, visit www.centreisland.ca

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Win 1 of 2 Nerf Super Soakers to Celebrate the End of Summer

The plan was to have our 4th annual water fight on the last day of school. The invitation was made and distributed in class, just as it had been the three years before. The kids at school and even on the street always looked forward to the infamous water fight that was set to funky beats, followed by a fabulous bbq and it even gave them the chance to win their own Nerf Super Soakers!

After hearing that several of his buddies weren't able to attend, Ty decided to postpone the fabulously popular event until the end of summer. We were all a little bummed but we had already received the Nerf Super Soakers and just had to break a couple out of the boxes to enjoy this summer!

We've packed them in the trunk and started to test the two newest Nerf Super Soakers during our days at the beach, poolside and even at the lake. Ty and Jayden really loved the Flashflood Blaster...how easy it was to control and how far the water could shoot!  I really loved the Tri Threat Blaster to hit three kids in one shot!
"Say hello to my little friend!"


Want to hear more about our past water fights so you can host your own? Check out these links;

We want YOU to join in on the fun by winning your own Nerf Super Soaker! Enter to win 1 of 2 below!
 
One lucky winner will WIN a Nerf Super Soaker Flashflood Blaster!*
Your water battles will never be the same with the FlashFlood blaster! This high-capacity power soaker holds 23 ounces of water for an outstanding mobile attack, and it can hit targets up to 38 feet away. It’s also got 2 separate nozzles...one for a Flood Strike and one for a Flash Strike! Dominate the competition – and get them soaking wet – with the FlashFlood blaster!

One lucky winner will WIN a Nerf Rebelle Super Soaker Tri Threat Blaster!*
Unleash your inner warrior and blast your opponents with 3 streams of water from the Nerf Rebelle Tri Threat soaker! Surprise the competition by delivering triple stream soakage. Water shoots from each end of the blaster's crossbow arms and a third stream blasts from the centre barrel. Pump the blaster and deliver a deluge of water as you battle with your friends. For 3-stream blasting up to 35 feet, take along the 25-ounce capacity Nerf Rebelle Tri Threat soaker! 

Good Luck!

*Contest open to Canadians and closes August 31st, 2015. Winners will be shipped their prize within 2-4 weeks.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Demon Baby on 4D ultrasound got me remembering

Working online today and every time I've opened Yahoo, I see this article about a couple who saw their unborn baby on a 4D ultrasound and called her a "demon baby". 


“Wife and I went to get a ‘4D’ ultrasound of our unborn child. Saw this picture. Changed our minds,” said his post originally posted on ImgurThe ultrasound image showed a photo of their unborn baby girl with strange eyes, odd teeth and a skeletal nose, looking directly at the camera with a sinister grin.
Photo from Imgur
I get it. It definitely looks strange and 3D and 4D ultrasounds can look hilarious and creepy at the same time. But what if this unborn baby actually has a genetic issue or disorder? What if when she is born, their world will stop and they will have an ache in their bellies about what lies ahead for their child. What if this image isn't creepy or funny at all, but alerting them to an issue that may lie ahead? 

I'm not a doctor or technician, but I've been there.

I saw the couple's ultrasound and immediately remembered seeing the 3D ultrasounds of our twin boys. Jayden had been so easy to see on the screen, clearly a sign that he would always love attention! His beautiful face was adorable and so clear on the screen that we just couldn't wait to meet him. 
Our Gorgeous Jayden
Zack was harder to see during that first visit. He was squished in there and we actually had to schedule a SECOND appointment to see his gender and get a look at our second twin. We were excited when we saw him on the screen but made excuses for why he may look so different from his brother. Bad lighting, a shadow, these aren't accurate, they're fraternal twins, he's squished, he's still developing, it went on and on. In my gut, I knew there was something wrong. I was his mother and something was warning me, but I chose to ignore it and not share my worries with anyone. I was really anxious to meet Zack and confirm that this was just in my head. I shared their photos around my work, continuing to make excuses for why they looked so different from each other.

When Jayden was born, he looked just like the amazing image we had seen on the screen. He had a full face and the sweetest nose ever. When Zack was born 4 minutes later, I remember thinking yes...he's my beautiful boy and also looks exactly like the 3D image that we saw only a few weeks ago. That aching feeling I had was right. My sweet boy was born with a body that was badly bruised and had very little tone. His eyes were droopy, his delicate ears surrounded by the bumps of skin that we saw on the screen were skintags. His head was larger that it should be, due to fluid build up and his chin and neck were much smaller than the norm. He was gorgeous, he was a miracle and he was mine. He was different, very sick and exactly what we had seen on that screen. 

It wasn't shadows. He wasn't squished. It wasn't because they were fraternal twins or even that he was a "demon" baby that caused his differences. He had facial anomalies... "dysmorphia" the pediatrian said. He likely had a genetic syndrome, she told us as my feet were still in stirrups. 

Yes, he was our precious miracle, Zack. Our son from the 3D photo was exactly as he was meant to be.  
Our Beautiful Zackie

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Planning the Perfect Day at the Beach

There is nothing like a family picnic at the beach, is there? 

One of our best days this summer was an impromptu day at the Allenwood Beach near Wasaga, with our wonderful friends. One of the best things for me was that there was a bathroom near by! LOL. It was the perfect way to relax, enjoy some family time, cool off in the lake and let the kids have some unplugged fun! We brought a bunch of fun activities for the kids to enjoy, while the grown ups sat in comfy chairs, listened to wicked tunes and caught up on each other's news.

Our fridge was pretty bare and I didn't have time to really prepare for our picnic in the way I normally would, so I was grateful to walk into Loblaws and see their #LetsDoPicnic signs around the store! It really helped to plan some healthy foods and snacks for a long day at the beach!

Our picnic cooler was jam packed to keep us fed and hydrated all day! Maple Leaf deli meats, tons of cut up veggies and PC spicy hummus, Tostitos Cantina chips with salsa, Lay's chips and lots of fruit!
www.letsdopicnic.ca


If you are planning to have your own family day and picnic at the beach, here are some tips on what to pack for the kids for the perfect beach day;
  • sunscreen 
  • bug spray
  • nets or bug catchers
  • hats
  • towels and blankets
  • umbrella or sunshade
  • sand toys
  • water balloons
  • baseball gloves
  • soccer ball 
  • blow up pool noodle, raft or ring (great choices at the dollar stores) 
  • a full cooler or two of SNACKS (the kids literally ate all day!)
Plus don't forget the adult supplies; 
  • lounge chairs
  • phone to take photos and share on social media
  • bluetooth speaker for beach tunes (make your own playlist or use a music app!)
  • plastic glasses
  • adult drinks (wink, wink)
If you have more time to create some picnic recipes, check out the site Let's Do Picnic for recipes, tips, and ideas. 

For more inspiration follow the #LetsDoPicnic hashtag on social media and these picnic-experts; 
Still a few more weeks of summer...so get out and enjoy a perfect beach picnic!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best Bra Fitting Tips from the Experts

One of the benefits of losing weight has been that I have needed to go shopping and replace many of the items in my drawers and closet! From my skinny jeans and black blazers to yoga pants and coats, all of my essential items have had to be replaced!  

It wasn't until we went on a little romantic getaway to do some shopping, that I realized that my undies and bra were just too loose! I had been so focused on shopping for the outer garments that I hadn't even considered that the undergarments would have to be replaced too! I knew that I needed a bra fitting to really determine my new size, so I happily made the appointment at my local Hudson's Bay, for a REAL bra fitting with a Wacoal consultant. 

My Wacoal consultant, Maggie, was amazing! I was blown away when she told me that instead of my 40DD, I should be wearing a 36D! I will never buy a bra again, without her to help me find the best size. She brought me several choices and sizes and checked the fit every time. There was NOTHING embarrassing about getting fitted for a bra. Maggie left the room each time I had to change and was a wealth of information! 

I'm so thrilled with my Embrace Lace Underwire Tshirt Bra.
My new "bosom buddy", Maggie.
Tips From the Bra-fitting Experts;
1. Get an expert to fit you so that you can stop wearing bras that don't fit! Over 80% of women are wearing the wrong size (I'm looking at you with the band that's too loose and the cup that's too small). Call ahead and book a proper fitting. All sales associates in The Bay lingerie department are trained to help you find the right size, or you can call ahead to be sure a particular expert is scheduled during your visit.
2. Check your bra size about once a year or after every major body change; weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy, etc.
3. Handwash your bras or wash them on the delicate cycle in a lingerie bag. Your bras will last much longer, if you care for them properly!
4. Never put your bras in the dryer! I admit I do this and will stop after I've learned that the dryer breaks down the fibres and can change the fit completely!
5. Replace your bra after about 90 wearings. You will notice that they just don't offer the same support and should be thrown out.
6. Always try on your bras before you buy them. Even if you are shopping the discount stores, realize that each mass produced bra can fit differently. Take a few minutes to try them on first.
7. Young girls picking a bra for the first time, should be fitted by a professional, to make sure that they have the right size. Having the right size from the start, helps to prevent back pain, stretch marks and sagging overtime.
8. Don't insist you are a particular size without going for a proper fitting. You may have "always" been a 36C but you might not be now. See an expert to be sure you have the right support.
9. If your straps keep falling down, you likely have the wrong cup size. Chances are you are wearing a larger cup than you need.
10. Women need multiple bras for multiple uses. Wacoal recommends you have a about 6 main styles; sports, seamless (also called tshirt), cut and sew (2 part), strapless, minimizer or push up (depending on size), and sexy bras in your wardrobe.

Wacoal uses modern fabrics, innovative technologies, advanced manufacturing processes, and unique designs to meet the evolving needs of today’s women. My favourite feature is that Wacoal consultants at The Bay help women like me find the right bras with the proper band and cup sizes! To learn more about Wacoal and their 30 years of experience in fitting women properly, supporting breast cancer awareness and providing quality bras for women around the world, listen to Maggie.

 
Do you really know your bra size? 
Have you ever had a consultant fit you in the right one?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Our Love Story: The Night We Met

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary. This is how our love story began.

It was July 22nd, 1995. I was single and had recently graduated from Western. I was living back at home which was a huge adjustment, but I was enjoying life back in the big city working at Town Shoes in the TD Centre. I was lonely and ready to find someone special as a new chapter of my life was just beginning and I planned to stay in Toronto to go to York in the fall for a Bachelor of Social Work. This particular night, a bunch of my sorority sisters from Kappa Alpha Theta had organized an Alumni boat cruise around the Toronto harbour. A friend was house-sitting in the city, so I begged her to go without her new boyfriend so that we could have a girl's night!
We pulled up and parked the car, excited to see all of our "sisters" again. A few of us gathered outside the boat and we were introduced to the new faces and dates. One of the girls had brought her friend, Paul, as her date and I was instantly attracted to him. He was dressed to the nines and looked like he walked out of a magazine ad or Boys II Men video. It wasn't until we started talking that I fell completely head over heels. Hot AND nice? Not possible! Paul and I finally made an instant connection when we saw a man dressed in a yacht club crested jacket with knee socks...we both laughed at the same time. 

I wanted to be close to him all night and it seemed that the feeling was very mutual! As the night began, we couldn't take our eyes off of each other from across the boat. I had never felt my heart pound like it did that night. A thousand butterflies took up space in my stomach and I gave into the feelings that were making me feel so amazing, but I was guarded too. The chemistry was electric from the start and even my other 'sisters' asked if we were together because of the way we looked at each other and seemed so comfortable together. 

We sneaked a visit on the lower level, had a glass of wine together and got to know each other better, away from the distractions of the other ladies. It turned out that we had lots in common; teaching Sunday school, recent graduations (he from Seneca Radio and Television Arts), a huge connection with kids and we both really loved music, including Boyz II Men (it was the 90s, who didn't?). When it came time to have dinner, "I'll make love to you" came over the speaker as a secret dedication. I knew it was just for me, as we locked eyes across the room and in that moment, he had me completely hooked. Was he incredibly romantic or just another smooth operator (to quote another 90s song)?  I was so worried that I may never hear from him again and I would be heart broken, like so many other times in the past. But this felt different. I trusted him with my heart. I not only hoped, but believed that he would call me and that we would have more nights as magical as this one. 

The night had to come to an end, so Paul and I secretly exchanged numbers and we all said our goodbyes in the parking lot.We drove away and I was full of emotion from total euphoria to panic and worry. It was the best night of my life and I just wanted more time with this incredible man of my dreams. 

Later that night, while I was sleeping over with my girlfriend's house, my sister woke up to a late night phone call back at home. It was Paul checking to make sure I got home okay. 

20 years ago, on July 22, 1995, was the beginning of us. 


15 years ago today, July 22nd, 2000, I married the man of my dreams.


And this is us now...

We've learned to cherish and truly appreciate each other. We love harder, better and more completely. 

We've changed for each other, grown together, accepted each other and built a beautiful life.

We've been challenged at every turn. We've struggled and cried together, celebrated and laughed together and even picked each other up when we were at our deepest lows.

The odds have been against us from the start but today, we are stronger and better than we have ever been. We find time for our marriage, dance on the deck and kiss in the kitchen to embarrass the boys.

We look at each other with the same passion and love that we felt from the beginning, only now it's filled with 20 years of incredible memories.

Our love story continues....

Monday, July 20, 2015

Quick and Easy Summer Family Dinner Recipe

Is it just me or are you eating dinner on the run these days? 

The rush after camp and work seems crazy with the doorbell ringing just as we walk in the door! The kids play outside with friends while I open the fridge and find something to feed my two boys and anyone else who joins us for dinner!

This past week we had a full house of kids and I thought it was my golden opportunity to have a sit down dinner at the table on our new deck. Preparing a meal is hard enough for my own guys but now I had to consider the discerning tastes of 3 of their buddies. I knew that pasta was the best way to go for this hungry crew!

I had a box of Barilla PLUS pasta, with added protein and fibre so I was excited to make stovetop mac and cheese that was GOOD for the kids! I know, not as gourmet as the amazing summer recipes on the Barilla website, but a family favourite in my house!


Ingredients:
1 box Barilla PLUS pasta (we love the penne)
3 Lite Kraft cheese singles (optional, but my kids love how cheesy this can get!)
1/2 cup of skim milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups shredded cheese (I used the already shredded cheddar and mozzarella mix)
salt

Directions:
1. Cook the pasta al dente, in salted water. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter, milk and cheese singles in the pot on a low setting.
3. Add back in the pasta and mix.
4. Add the shredded cheese and mix well.
5. Serve to hungry kids quickly....they usually can't wait to eat it!
  
Busy life makes connecting together, challenging. So even though my husband was at work, I seized the chance to 'share the table' with my boys and their friends. It was the perfect chance to check in with what everyone did during the day, ask about anything bothering them and of course to share some jokes over a delicious meal al fresco.

Give and Win:
Win 1 of 3 Trips to Italy when you enter at Barilla Share the Table. For every entry in the contest, Barilla® will donate a meal to Food Banks Canada, so enter once a day to help!

Follow @BarillaCanada on Twitter and join the #SharetheTable discussion with other families.