Happy 150th Birthday Canada – Why I am Proud to be a Canadian


Happy birthday Canada. For 150 years-old you look good. As I glance around the world today, in 2017, our country is healthy and strong. I am proud to say that I was born in Canada, that I was raised here and am raising my children here. As I write this post I am reminded of a great TV commercial from a number of years ago, called “I Am Canadian:”


It was funny, it went viral and it’s so true. Canadians are unique special people. I have worked with, been friends with and am related to some of the greatest Canadians. There are so many people, places and stories to be celebrated, and here I would like to share some of them with you as I salute Canada on her 150th birthday.


One Canadian I would like to celebrate is my children’s great-great uncle, David Hart. Or shall I say Honorary Colonel David Hart. One of seven sons (my husband’s grandfather was Uncle Davey’s big brother), Colonel Hart was an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II. Earlier this year, at the age of 99 ¾, he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the battlefield for his time as a Sergeant at Dieppe. He served his country on the battlefield 75 years ago and has dedicated much of his life sharing his story. Uncle Davey turns 100 in July and with his sharp mind and kind sensibility has many memories to share as he has lived in Canada for two-thirds of the country’s existence.

Matthew and his great-great uncle Davey last summer

I also want to give a shout-out to my great-grandparents, all of whom were immigrants to Canada over 100 years ago. As young children and young adults my eight ancestors made their way to Canada with their families, leaving behind their old lives in Europe. Most of them arrived with nothing, but over time they embraced their new country and became leaders in their family and community. Since Confederation 150 years ago Canada has welcomed immigrants from around the world and given them the opportunity to be everything they can be.


Canada is a huge land mass, with so many incredible places to celebrate that I could write a one-thousand-page book and still not cover it all. I love so many Canadian places, from the boardwalk in Halifax (best ice cream by far is Cows, you have to try it), to the gentle harbour in Victoria.

But my favourite places are my family’s and my husband’s family’s country houses, in the Blue Mountains in Ontario and Saint-Donat in Quebec, respectively. I know that I am lucky to be able to visit these special places, lovingly built and cared for by our families. My parents built my family’s home on a piece of farmland over 25 years ago, near skiing, sprawling apple orchards and views of Beaver Valley and even Georgian Bay beyond. Sixteen people squeezed into this small house this past winter to take advantage of the ski hill nearby and endless supply of tasty homemade food. Sixteen? Yes, and a dog. The renovations to expand the house begin this week!

Person #16 and the dog
Nap time at the country house


My husband’s grandparents built their home in Saint-Donat back in 1949, when Canada was a mere 82 years old. The original small cabin has been renovated and enlarged in its own unique way over the years and often houses 20 plus extended members of the family at any given time throughout the summer. The house sits on the edge of one of Canada’s most beautiful lakes, where generations have gone swimming and canoeing. The view from the deck is breathtaking, and when things get loud and crazy in the house I just need to walk outside, stand on the deck and stare at the view.


A summer past-time in Saint-Donat
Julia standing in the blueberry patch in Saint-Donat overlooking the lake


I have so many anecdotes stored in my memories of events, moments and experiences of what makes Canada special that just thinking about them makes me smile. Could it be my family’s discovery of the best french fry stands on the way to the country house and the nicknames we gave them (such as Fry Guy, Fry Girls and Fry People?). Could it be the first time I had the honour to be associated with the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride back in 2012, when I watched dozens of cyclists dip their wheels in the Pacific Ocean before they cycled across the country to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer? Is it at a Blue Jays baseball game when over 40,000 people stand together and sing O Canada in unison?

When I string all these stories together I get a clear picture in my head of why I am proud to be Canadian and why I salute my country on her 150th birthday.

Happy birthday Canada. May you celebrate many more.

Driving Around the City Makes me Cringe

Driving around the city makes me cringe.  While aggressive and rude drivers often make me crazy, today I am focused on the actual road. I am talking about construction, blocked lanes, potholes and turn signals. If I live in a city I know I have to face some of this, especially in the summer, but the streets around my neighbourhood are a mess and I can’t take it anymore.

Toronto is a vibrant city that is growing exponentially by the day. To accommodate that growth, I know that new houses, office towers and condos must be built. The dense and congested midtown and downtown core are experiencing unprecedented development, and I think that for the most part that is good for the city. The roads also need to be maintained and the hydro needs to be upgraded. I get it. It has to be done. However, there has to be a better way.

I am about to provide a number of examples where construction, development or upgrades are happening in my neighbourhood that could be done better, more efficiently or at least with better communication with the local community.

There is a massive condo tower under construction at the intersection of two major streets near my house. Construction is moving along, but it’s happening at a painful slow speed. In order to maximize the small tract of land on which this building is being built, the developer obviously got a permit from the city to build the new building as close to the existing sidewalk as possible. As a result, the construction crew got permission to include the sidewalk in its enclosed area and to push out the pedestrian zone into a lane of traffic.

That means a major street in the city of Toronto was brought down to one lane during the construction of this massive building. The street has been down to one lane for a long time, with no end in sight. Traffic is backed up for blocks all day every day along this stretch of road. I figure the developer had to pay a large fee to the city to get permission to close a lane of traffic, with no regard to the congestion, stress and frustration it causes thousands of people driving daily. How is this allowed? I just got word another developer is looking to apply for a permit to build three condo towers in the area next. There is no way my neighbours and I will allow this. But that is for another day.

On the subject of closing a lane of traffic on major roads. I understand that it must happen sometimes, in particular when city crews need to fix a pothole, some electrical nearby or other issues that affect city roads. Naturally this causes traffic jams and I understand those lanes must close sometimes. But – if it’s a major street and if the lane closure is at an intersection, could the city block left-hand turns during construction? When there is one lane of traffic and one person wants to turn left then every car behind is stuck. It makes the traffic worse. Driving in the city today I sat in a terrible traffic jam downtown today because of this problem.

Now that I mention left-hand turns, let’s stick with that topic. Why can’t there be more left turn advance signals at major intersections across Toronto? I would be happy to wait an extra 10 seconds at most lights to give cars the opportunity to turn left and clear the road. There are many intersections in the city where the advance arrow exists but only goes on at certain times of the day. Why not all day?

Back to construction. When our current mayor (who I like and I will publicly state I voted for in the last election) was first elected a few years ago he spoke out in support of better coordination and communication between city departments with respect to road construction. If a long-term construction project must take place, be it hydro upgrades, paving, bridge repair or dozens of other projects, how hard could it be to have a working group with a giant map who monitors where the project is happening?

I am boxed in by construction in my neighbourhood right now, between the endless lane closure from the condo on the major street to my west, a massive bridge upgrade on the major street to my east, hydro and electrical upgrades to the side streets to my south and what I think is an electrical and power upgrade to some facility to my southeast.  That is just a small section of the city – I won’t start with all the other projects happening during summer 2017.

I know my rant is falling on deaf ears with the City of Toronto, but I have a feeling that most of you who have read to the end of this blog post agree with me. You are probably nodding your head right now and saying yes yes yes – even if you live in a different city! My rant may not make a difference, but I do feel better just writing about it.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame


Take me out to the ballgame

Take me out with the crowd

Buy me some doughnuts, ice cream and French fries

I don’t care if that baseball never flies

Let me root, root, root

For the Blue Jays

If they don’t win it’s a shame


For it’s one,


Three strikes you’re out

At the Blue Jays game

These are my slightly modified lyrics of this all-time great baseball song, which is sung at all Major League Baseball ballparks during the 7th inning stretch. My son and I enjoyed the song last night as we attended the ballgame.

I love going to a Blue Jays game, something I have discussed before. There’s something special about the mix of sounds (often scalpers hollering for ticket sales) and smells (could it be sweat?) outside the ballpark as I walk up the long path before I enter the massive stadium. Even though I know they are disgusting, my mouth even salivates as I pass one hot dog stand after another.

Going to a ballgame with my son, Matthew, is what I love best. He is a super fan and has become a walking encyclopedia of player statistics and baseball history. He knows details about every player on every team and provides a very educated analysis to not only me but everyone around us as the game. I believe the two guys to our left last night were very amused by the knowledge they gained last night.

Matthew was so excited to see the Sportsnet team live on air
And from another angle

We had great seats last night, as we sat in the third row down the third base line. The crowd, like always at Rogers Centre, was loud and enthusiastic.  Now that I have been to a ballgame a few games with my son over the last couple of years I have discovered some patterns and made some observations:

  1. There is always one big guy sitting a few rows behind me who likes to yell, really loud. He’s quite jolly, he’s a super-fan and likes to holler Go Jays Go, often.
  2. Beer flows at a baseball game like cold water at a children’s park on a sweltering hot day. At over $11 per can, the Blue Jays could sell only beer at games and still make a fortune. The guy in front of me consumed so many cans of beer that I lost count after he purchased the sixth one. Wow.
  3. When the home team (in this case my Blue Jays) are having a rough night, you will see the best catches of the night made by fans in the stands, catching foul balls. One woman caught a foul ball off the edge of the second deck last night, and wow, it was spectacular. The fans saved the biggest cheers for themselves.
  4. There are many people who are at the Rogers Centre but are unaware that there is a baseball game going on around them. There was a nice and very friendly young family to our right last night. I think the father is a fan and would like the same for his two sons. The mother spent the whole game on her smartphone, either chatting with a friend or video chatting with various relatives around the world, showing them where she was. It was very distracting.
  5. Even though the current Blue Jays’ baseball stadium has existed for over 25 years, the crowd is still fascinated and in awe when the domed roof opens or closes before, during or after the game. With clear skies after another day of rain in Toronto yesterday, the roof opened as we sat down in our seats. I watched, transfixed, as the CN Tower appeared before us as the roof inched open. 
    Matthew let me take my silly selfie this time
    The beauty of the CN over the ballpark at sunset

    Lit up and ready for Canada Day
  6. The most sought-after item at every baseball game is a $5 official MLB baseball. Seven to ten-year-old boys were most interested in acquiring one of these last night, from a foul ball or in the case of our section at the game, the friendly ball boy. The hardest job in baseball is not the umpire’s, it’s the ball boy’s. This pour soul was harassed all night by young children, who begged him for a ball.
I’m not sure if the excitement in his eyes was because of the game or because he was ready to pounce on the poor ball boy

Matthew was one of the lucky few who charmed his way to get one of those sought-after balls. My son, who is one of the biggest Blue Jays fans I have ever seen and who was depressed for days last year when the Blue Jays fell to the Cleveland Indians in the playoffs, didn’t even notice that his beloved team lost last night 3-1. Why? Matthew got one of the official game balls, and this made his day.

Matthew had to show off his treasure

What are your favourite moments at a baseball game? Have you made any interesting observations? Share them with me – comment here, tell me on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

I am a Third-Generation Weather Watcher


Sun, rain, snow, sleet, hail, hot, cold – it doesn’t matter to me. I just love to monitor the weather. If a TV remote control could have The Weather Network on speed dial I would program it. I have to settle for it on my favourites list. I start my day with a check of the weather and monitor it closely throughout the day. Of course before I go to bed at night I check one more time.

Modern technology only encourages my obsession, with live updates on various websites and of course my favourite, an endless choice of apps on my smartphone. I am partial to The Weather Network app, though I am sure many others will show me the weather patterns in other great ways. With GPS, not only will my app tell me the exact conditions outside my door, but I can keep up to date on what’s happening in Auckland, Hong Kong, Halifax and Paris too!

I come by this love quite naturally. One could say it’s genetic. I have fond memories as a child first checking the weather in the newspaper with my maternal grandfather, then when cable TV became popular, sitting with him on the couch as we watched the weather channel like it was the new feature movie. Even though the content repeated itself over and over, my grandfather’s attention never wavered. It amazed me how focused he was on the day’s temperature and how much rain to expect.

My grandfather passed this love down to his daughter, my mother. My mother often organizes her daily activities around the weather forecast and will call me, text me or email me news and updates when an exciting system is approaching. For my mother, there is nothing better than a massive thunderstorm that lights the sky in the valley across from our country home.I enjoy the beauty of a big snowfall in January, dense fog that takes over the sky in October, a big thunder and lightning show in July or a bright sunny day in May. What weather system is coming next? What is the temperature outside my window right now?

I often like to photograph changing weather conditions. It could be the blueness of a bright sunny day, snow, rain or fog. The changing colours of the sky at sunset are always a treat, especially when it’s what my husband’s family calls a “fake-o sunset.” That’s when it rains all day then suddenly, as evening approaches, the sky clears and you see a magnificent sunset. The sky tricks you into thinking that it was a beautiful day but really up until minutes ago it was too foggy to see anything.

Pea-sized hail in my backyard yesterday
A fabulous downpour with dense fog in New Zealand
A fabulous summer sunset
Ice and snow from the sky and on the road
Mix sunshine and rain and you get a rainbow

So far, I have not seen this dominant gene appear in any of my children, but there is still time. My son does ask me what to wear each morning based on the weather, so maybe he is my best hope. I will start working on him now. In the meantime, I need to check my app to see today’s and tomorrow’s weather.

Are you a weather watcher? Does it run in your family? Do you have any cool photographs of a weather event? Post your comments here, or post a photo or comment to me on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

Sometimes I Have to Stop and Just Smell the Roses


My life is hectic. I am the mother to three young and active children. I am trying to be a writer and blogger and also trying to kick start my career. My house is cluttered and often messy, and sometimes I feel like I am really just a short order cook. I spend a lot of time in my car, driving one child to a play date or karate or baseball. I am always planning the next meal, booking a child’s haircut or changing a dirty diaper. Sometimes I have to slow down. Sometimes I have to stop and just smell the roses.

This thought suddenly came to my mind last week, specifically on Thursday afternoon, as I drove my children home from school. We were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, inching along the road when I looked out the passenger side window of my car and saw a bizarre but wonderful sight.

Please let me paint the picture for you of what I saw. Our car was on an unattractive section of a busy street in Toronto. This section of the street was dotted with many small, attached homes, most in a state of disrepair. Most of the homes had overgrown front gardens, cracked concrete steps and rickety front porches.

But, like an oasis in a desert, there was one home that had the most magnificent arbour in front, covered in vibrant magenta flowers. As I am not a flower expert (if someone can tell me what kind of flower this is I would appreciate it!), I don’t know if these flowers were roses or something else. But that is irrelevant. Surrounded by much ugliness and city congestion I saw before me great beauty.

And that’s not it. People were rushing up and down the sidewalk. They took no notice of this genuine splendour in front of a rather nondescript home. Then I saw one person stop. She looked at the arbour, moved her face close to it and took a deep breath. She literally drank in the look and smell of the flowers in one great deep breath. Then as swiftly as she stopped she was on her way down the street.

I was so taken by this act that I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a picture of the arbour and its flowers (see today’s feature photo). Suddenly the traffic and slow drive did not bother me. The children’s whines that our car was inching along seemed distant. All I could think about was this woman who, during her busy day, stopped, and she smelled the roses.

Sometimes I have to stop and just smell the roses. Nature’s beauty is calming and it reminds us all that it is healthy to slow down and appreciate our world’s simple wonders. That woman’s small act has inspired me and I hope to follow what she did, and maybe even pay it forward.

My Vegetable Garden in the City


In a previous post, I stated that I don’t exactly have a green thumb. I am not a natural when it comes to the garden or plants. I admit that I kind of forget to water my indoor plants. But I love the idea of an outdoor garden. I love to walk through my neighbourhood and admire colourful and neat and tidy gardens that have grown to maturity because of a lot of love and care.

In our first home, I was determined to create a small garden of my own. I wanted a mix of gentle greenery, hits of colourful flowers, some herbs to give a nice aroma and even a few vegetables in pots. The garden grew and flourished. The vegetables either wilted and died or were pulled and eaten by the many animals that lived in the neighbourhood. Our old neighbourhood was frequented by many squirrels, racoons and even skunks, and they were in charge of the garbage and gardens with food. I had little success even growing a simple healthy tomato.

When we moved to our current home a few years ago I decided to try again. I thought, maybe the local raccoon and squirrel militia was kept in check a bit better in this area, where most of the garbage cans were kept in garages and sheds. The garden got a late start as we only moved in June and planted a limited vegetable garden. I also planted my vegetables on my deck, right beside my house.

The tomatoes came in late, around late August, but they grew! We had a limited tasty crop, and their bright red colour made my garden shine. Did we have a weaker animal population? Did the proximity to the house, on my deck, make a difference? Maybe.

I was so excited in 2014 to see the tomatoes grow
Julia was so excited to watch the tomatoes grow in 2014
Yes I took a photo of the first tomato I pulled from garden in 2014

I dabbled in vegetable seedlings in 2015 and 2016 and failed miserably. They all sprouted quickly and easily and grew. I kept them in a warm and sunny spot in my house all spring and lovingly cared for them. I transferred them outside as the weather warmed, and boom, they either flopped and died or the local animal militia gobbled them up.

But, I also bought a number of small plants from my favourite Collingwood Farmers’ Market and a bunch more from an organic market north of Toronto called Awesome Blossom. Success! Okay, not big success, but my plants flowered in early summer, and we had a small crop of tomatoes, green beans, peppers, zucchini, kale and lettuce. My vegetables were tiny but cute and I decided that I would push forward in 2017 and build a fresh vegetable garden.

Last year’s flowers on the growing tomatoes
Zucchini last year
The biggest tomato that grew in my 2016 garden

I’m at it again this year, and while it’s early, so far things are going well. My giant deck planter had a small incident over the winter (okay, it broke and crashed to the ground), so now each vegetable has its own planter. I think that actually may help so I don’t have any crowding or competition for soil and water. I did experiment with a bit of corn, which was grabbed by the animal militia, but my cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers and a few other goodies are thriving so far. My husband’s experiment with a strawberry, blueberry and raspberry plant have been a bit of a failure. They are growing and are green, but so far all we have seen are two tiny strawberries. We are not ready to grow fruit yet!

I am excited to watch my vegetable garden grow and bloom. I will provide updates here as it develops over the summer and we harvest the goodness.

The plants growing in my garden right now

The Rite of Passage for Every Camp Mom: Packing the Duffle Bags


Growing up, the month of June meant not only that school was coming to an end but also that camp was coming near. I’m not talking about day camp, which has its merits and is enjoyed by thousands of children, I’m talking about overnight. I mean parents sending their kids away from home for days, a week or in my case, many weeks, every summer.

I will get to my personal reflections about overnight camp (and one in particular) in a moment and why I feel so strongly that every child who can and wants to go should go. First, I want to tell you all about an important rite of passage for every camp mom: packing the duffle bags.

It never occurred to me as a child, as I arrived at camp and threw my sweaters, shorts, bathing suits and other miscellaneous items on the cabin’s wooden shelves, that my mother had painstakingly bought, collected, organized and packed every item in my two duffle bags. Oh, and not only my stuff but also the dozens of items in my sister’s and brother’s bags as well. My mother considered every detail to prepare me for every weather condition, activity and special event that I would face every summer.

I own the matching blanket to this one, that has been packed in duffle bags for three generations

My camp days are over, but 2017 marks my son’s fourth summer at overnight camp. I have to say that as I get older each year maybe it’s a good thing my memory is weakening and I forget about how much work it is to pack a child for camp. I have carried around my now tattered packing list with me like a baby and its blanket. There have been dreams in which my son arrived at camp and his bags were empty and the camp had to contact me to scold me. I have even had dreams where I too was back at camp and forgot to bring my duffle bags.

Packing a child for camp is very stressful, but it is such a rewarding feeling to zip the giant duffle bags closed, dump them in the car and send my husband off to throw them in the truck, ready for the journey to Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia you say? Alicia, don’t you live in Toronto? Why do you send your child over 1,500 kilometres away for overnight camp? It’s simple – Kadimah.

Sunset over the lake at Kadimah

I attended four different overnight camps as both a camper and member of the staff. Each place had its positives and negatives, but my favourite camp, the one where I fit in best, was Kadimah. Founded way back in 1943 by the Atlantic Jewish community, Kadimah is rooted in community and gives children a warm, fun and safe experience summer after summer. It helped mold me and so many other children, teens and young adults into the adults we are today.  My sister met her husband there, children make lifelong friends there and Cathy the baker makes the BEST chocolate chip cookies (she has been baking these cookies for decades!).

My sister and I at Kadimah almost 20 years ago. We haven’t changed a bit, don’t you think?
My sister and her then boyfriend (now husband) at Kadimah just a few years ago!
My kids at Kadimah last summer, with their first cousins. Yes it’s a family affair.
Doesn’t everyone do a selfie on Visitor’s Day? Nessa wasn’t happy about it.

As I bought, collected, organized and packed every item into my son’s duffle bags this week my memories of my days at camp came rushing into my head. Will he wash his hair with the shampoo or dump it out on the last day of camp to make me think he cleaned himself regularly? Or, will he change his underwear daily, and if he does, will he place the dirty underwear in one of the two laundry bags I packed? Will any of the 17 pairs of socks come home? These are questions a mother asks as the duffle bags make their way to camp and the children follow close behind in the coming days.

Today is the last day of school, so that means camp must be near!

The Need to Bring Together Profit and Purpose

In previous posts I have asked if women can attain a work-family balance in a society where they are encouraged and expected to build a career and have a family. I have also sought advice and looked inward to see where my career is going and how I envision my future. These thoughts have stayed in my mind, and I have met with and spoken with many inspirational people in recent weeks and months who make me hopeful that I will find my way and follow a career path that is a good fit for me and the life I want to lead. I recently met with one individual who helped me give focus to my many musings about where my life is going, what I want to do next and where my skills and experience can make a difference. She reminded me to think about two words that I believe will help guide me going forward: profit and purpose.

Are these buzz words? Maybe. But their meaning is clear, especially when put together. We often look at organizations as being either for-profit (corporations, stores, restaurants) or non-profit (charities, civic groups, social welfare). They are looked at differently and treated as separate entities.

But I don’t think that should be the case, and many others across Canada (many much smarter than me) feel the same way. They ask the question; can we not profit with purpose? Or can a non-profit organization align itself with a for-profit, and the relationship be mutually beneficial?

Would for-profit businesses reap the rewards and gain customer loyalty if they partner with non-profits, stand behind important causes and care about the many unfortunate people in the community? Definitely.

Are many Canadian for-profit organizations, from small boutique stores to huge conglomerates, bringing together profit and purpose? Definitely, but still much of Corporate Canada, in my opinion, is either not on board yet or doesn’t know how to do it right.

I was fortunate in my previous job that I was empowered to bring together profit and purpose, but in a very limited way. While my employer had a legacy in communities across Canada of supporting children and youth in various ways, that support had eroded over the years. When I was given the opportunity to reinvent the corporation’s connection with the community and bring together profit and purpose in a meaningful way I knew I found something at which I was both skilled and that I loved.

My eyes were opened to a whole other side of strategic communications and brand development through my work (and I can honestly say my devotion) supporting the many communities where my company did business. I saw the vital role Canadian for-profit businesses play in shaping and supporting communities. I clearly saw that relationship was mutually beneficial, as these same families and communities were loyal to the brand that helped them.

So, it brings me back to the questions I have been asking myself about where I am now and where I want my future to be. Profit and purpose. Big or small business or big or small community organization, I want to support them both and bring them together to support each other. Each thought and decision is a stepping stone, and I believe that today I am starting to head down the right path.

That Anxious Jittery Feeling when your Team is Playing in that Key Game


It’s Sports Wednesday everyone, and today’s topic comes from a conversation I had last week with my son. If you are a sports fan in general or you are a fan of a specific team or teams you will understand exactly what I am talking about in today’s sports post. I don’t think I can find one word to describe the feelings, emotions and your general physical state when your team is playing that important game so I will describe it in various ways and provide examples of when I was in the state.

Let’s start by going back almost 25 years ago, to October 18, 1992.  It was the World Series, as the Toronto Blue Jays faced the Atlanta Braves. Game 6, bottom of the 11th inning, with the Blue Jays ahead 4-2. The Braves had one man on with two outs. A homerun would tie the game and an out would give the Blue Jays their first ever World Series win. My heart was racing and I could not sit still. I was so nervous that I couldn’t watch but I also couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. My mother and I were so fidgety that we started to dance around the room together. And then it happened – the player laid down a bunt to Mike Timlin the pitcher, who threw the ball to Joe Carter at first, and the Blue Jays won the World Series.

Race ahead to June 19, 2006, the day my Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. I remember watching that game, wearing my Hurricanes hat, surrounded by naysayers (did anyone else in Toronto support the Canes? I think not). I stood up and sat down. I shifted from foot to foot and paced around the room. I felt this strange mix of fear and excitement deep inside and was so nervous in those final minutes of the third period, in game 7, with Carolina leading 2-1. My body relaxed and anxiety was replaced with elation as Justin Williams shot the puck into an empty Oilers’ net to seal the win.

It doesn’t have to be the World Series or Stanley Cup Final; it can be a game against a division or league rival in the middle of the season as well. Take this past Monday night for example. The Blue Jays were down 6-5 in the top of the 9th versus the Texas Rangers. Ryan Goins led off with an incredible double. Kevin Pillar was next at the plate, and I stood in front of the TV talking to him, willing him to get a hit to at least tie the game. I felt my heart rate increase and that anxious feeling build in my chest. It didn’t work – he got out. Next was Josh Donaldson, and I was too nervous to watch, so I left the room and paced in the hallway. Well that worked because Donaldson singled to score Goins and tie the game. After Bautista walked, Morales came through with a single, scoring Donaldson, giving the Blue Jays a 7-6 win.

Is there a sport where this feeling is heightened the most? My son and I think that nothing makes the heart race more than hockey, in particular sudden death overtime hockey. How about sudden death overtime playoff hockey?  How about the dying seconds of a basketball game when a three-point basket can turn the whole game around? I even get this sensation when a Canadian athlete is competing at the Olympics. Will the skater land the triple Axel? Will the runner cross the finish line first? It’s just so stressful!

What sport, game or team gives you that anxious jittery feeling? Tell me how a sport can make your heart race and makes your stomach flutter. Comment here, post it to me on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.

The Butterfly Came Back the Very Next Year


Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a fan of insects. I understand and respect the important role they play in our ecosystem, but most insects terrify me. If a spider crosses my path I run the other way. Mosquitoes torture me in the summer as they buzz in my ears and centipedes just scare the wits out of me. But then there is the butterfly. It’s an insect, but it’s beautiful. I would even count one in particular as part of my family.

I know very little about entomology, but I want to share with you something special I learned about the butterfly family that resides in my backyard. We moved into our current home in early June of 2014 and soon after were visited by one very friendly butterfly. We spend a lot of time in our backyard and noticed that it kept joining us as we sat on our deck or enjoyed dinner in the backyard. Day after day, throughout the month of June, this seemingly fearless insect sat with us. Actually, it didn’t just sit with us, it sat ON us! It didn’t just sit on us, it protected us. If a wasp dared fly by our dinner table, our butterfly swiftly chased the wasp away.

This butterfly had the characteristic orange, black and white lines of a monarch, so we assumed it must be a monarch. My daughter named it Monny. Day after day Monny joined our family, and once in a while we would see a group of butterflies flying around our yard wildly. Then one day they were gone.

Julia enjoyed seeing Monny on her Daddy’s arm
David was thrilled when Monny rested on his shoulder

Fast forward to June of 2015 and our butterfly was back. Or rather, a descendent of Monny was back. It looked the same, again it was fearless and just as friendly. In 2016, we hoped our butterfly would return and sure enough it was back, sitting with us and relaxing with us in our backyard.

Monny relaxed on our bbq
The chair is a popular resting spot for Monny
Our butterfly chose a the lid of a juice container for dinner one night
Monny spends a lot of time on Matthew’s head.

This weekend, for the fourth year in a row, our butterfly returned. Last night it swooped in as we sat down for dinner and joined us at the table during our meal. It sits on the table, our shoulders and even our heads. It’s part of our family.

The girls were excited to see Monny join us for dinner
Nessa and Monny

Our 2017 butterfly looks exactly the same as the first one who joined us back in 2014. I don’t know what kind of butterfly it is, but clearly this kind has some homing device that sends the descendants back to our backyard year after year. Our butterfly is beautiful, friendly and wonderful.

If there are any experts or enthusiasts out there who can help me learn more about my beautiful butterfly please leave me a comment here, contact me on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/alicia.r.kalman, or Tweet me @AliciaRichler. I would love to learn more about Monny and share my knowledge with my children.