Squoosh! Organic baby food giveaway!

2014-08-15 14.04.01 There is so much about my life that feels less than convenient. I use cloth diapers. A diva cup. I make my own yogurt, granola, kale chips. I compost. I breastfeed two kids. My husband and I both work and Bug doesn’t go to daycare. Sometimes life feels hard.

We don’t do frozen dinners or order pizza or KFC. We don’t have a Keurig.  (Have I made my point?) We do, however, sometimes throw pre-packaged snacks in the diaper bag! Because sometimes, something’s gotta give. And with all my love and respect to Mother Nature, I don’t feel too guilty about the packaged healthy snacks.

There’s no doubt that these convenience items cause waste. Obvs. So, moving on.

My kids love the Baby Gourmet Plus pouches and were thrilled to give the new Squoosh line a try.

2014-08-29 10.19.48The Squoosh pouches have saved me in moments of crisis. There’s something about them that Babe registers as really special. She’ll accept a “squishy pack” in times when nothing else will do. She seems to drink it back in a single slurp. Maybe she gets a natural sugar rush because the Squoosh usually leaves her in a much better mood.
Bug is 17 months and old enough to hold the pouch and eat properly. This works best if he’s in a highchair or stroller!

Squoosh is now available in the following four flavours:
•       BeetBerry – banana, apple, beet, blueberry
•       OrangoBango – mango, carrot, banana, apple
•       SquabbleBerry – apple, blueberry, squash, banana
•       Banango – banana, mango, apple, squash

The Squoosh product line contains no added sugars, salts, and is gluten-free, nut-free, housed in BPA-free packaging.

We were sent samples of SquabbleBerry and OrangoBango. Babe tends to favour the purple ones (SquabbleBerry) but she just likes anything purple these days, and Bug really doesn’t care either way. OrangoBango has a tangier flavour to it. Oranges and mangoes are two of my favourite fruits, so it makes sense that I enjoy the taste. After sucking back the OrangoBango just now I’m finding SquabbleBerry bland. It’s really not– just less of a bold taste than OB. Fruit tends to be a pretty easy sell to toddlers, so I think it’s pretty nice that there’s a veg in each of these sweet packs.
If you’d like a stash of these for your diaper bag, just enter the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!

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Giveaway! Eczema Company could help your family

Check out Jennifer's son's eczema covered hands around 2.5 years old.

Check out Jennifer’s son’s eczema covered hands around 2.5 years
old.

Excuse me for the press-release sounding title, but it’s how I feel. I had eczema as a kid. I remember being really embarrassed about it. I remember using stinky cortisone cream. I don’t know when or why it went away but I don’t suffer from it anymore. My mother’s psoriasis seems to get worse as she gets older so I wonder if I might suffer the same fate? Methinks not as long as I have Jennifer Roberge on my side! Let me explain…

In one of my postnatal yoga classes I had a mama whose poor new born was–no exaggeration– covered head-to-toe in eczema. He’d scratch, it would bleed again and again. He (and his parents) had a hard time sleeping because of his discomfort. They tried everything.
I happily referred the student to The Eczema Company and she found her cure.
Montreal-based Jennifer Roberge, owns the company which has helped so many families get their skin conditions under control.
“Eczema is often thought of as a condition you just have to live with,” she told me. “But often eliminating certain foods and other triggers can help heal the skin and ultimately prevent flare ups from occurring down the road.”
Jennifers reason for starting the company reminds myof my yoga student’s story. Her son had severe, head-to-toe eczema that peaked around three years of age.
“He would scratch until he bled,” she told me. “My husband and I were up with him all night long holding his little hands and trying to sooth him to sleep so he wouldn’t lie awake scratching. After endless research, I ended up finding some really interesting products – tops to prevent scratching, some great, natural healing balms – but they were from all over the world and not easily accessible.”

So, she started the company to help parents who were in the same boat and now offers products for adults as well.

Her son is now six and she says his eczema is 90% better, and her four year old daughter only experiences very mild eczema on occasion.
One of the clothing options on Jennifer's site.

One of the clothing options on Jennifer’s site.

A few months ago, Jennifer gave me a delightful sample of Shea butter, which my whole family adores. Papa used it on the rough patches of his torso until they magically disappeared. Just tonight I used it on Bug’s cheeks and Babe put it on the bobo on her knee. Jennifer unfortunately doesn’t carry this particular product anymore ( though it gets used often, I thankfully have loads left. It’s very smooth and a little really has gone a long way.)

This Montreal mama is still in a giving mood and is going to offer $30 worth of products to a lucky mananaturale reader! If it was me, I’d go for her highly recommended Manuka Honey Cream. Just saying!
Enter in the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!

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Shavasanahhhh

Photo by Asami Martens, at Studio Breathe, where I often find myself in Shavasana asamiyoga.com

Photo by Asami Martens, at Studio Breathe, where I often find myself in Shavasana

I am a yoga teacher. A mom, a clown, a wife but also a yoga teacher. I teach children’s yoga as well as Yin yoga and postnatal yoga.

There’s a saying: those who can’t do, teach. But the way I see it, yoga is not one of those things. Yoga, to me, is not just an great way to exercise and stretch– it’s a way of life. If you don’t practice yoga in your day to day how can you teach others?
A daily yoga practice, the ideal, is not a reality for me these days, unfortunately. I work, and start school next week! I can do yoga with my kids around but they just end up climbing on me.
I try, at least once a week to get out of the house to an actual yoga class at an actual studio– my me time. I can leave it all behind, hop on my bike and go. Be. Alone. Any parent knows it’s hard to pee alone at home let alone meditate.
Shavasana, at a yoga studio, is the only place I ever get to lie down without a child glued to me. I like it.
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(Giveaway!!) I hate cloth diapers but I <3 AppleCheeks

WII’ve been cloth diapering for almost four years straight. At one point both kids were in diapers and it kinda felt like a nightmare. The truth is, I don’t really like cloth diapers. I don’t really like changing them or washing them. For me it’s like composting. I do it because it’s the right thing to do. It’s slightly more time consuming than throwing everything in the garbage but cloth diapering and composting help me sleep a little better at night.

Especially when the cloth diapers don’t leak…
More on that in a minute.

Since the last post I did about AppleCheeks, however, I’ve grown to adore the brand. And I am once again warming up to cloth diapering. I had gone a while dissatisfied with leaks and stinky stuffing and crappy Velcro and stretched elastics… But now things are looking up. Not only do I now have a (nearly) complete stash of AppleCheeks, I also work at AppleCheeks HQ.
Bug seems to be wearing CT all the time!

Bug seriously seems to be wearing CT all the time. Or is it Figgy Fuzz?!

CT again, to match Babe's skinned knee

CT again!

When I went for my interview I only owned the one CT I was given for the review I had done in January. But then I gotthe job and I found myself in the middle of hundreds of brightly coloured cloth diapers. And I couldn’t help but start to collect them.

Bug is a beefcake who looks tough in Lake Echo. He’s also a sweet soul who looks wonderful in Winging It and radiant in RipTide. I honestly now get how the AC bug bites!
The thing that really sold me on AppleCheeks (aside from it being a really fun place to work) is the diapers have finally solved my nighttime diapering woes. After almost four leaky years.
I had gotten so fed up with nighttime leakage that I started putting my now 16 month old Bug in disposables! The horror! He has been 30lbs since 12 months old, breastfeeds through the night and is a heavy wetter. Nothing was working. I did a lot of experimenting with other brands in the past to little avail so AppleCheeks owners Amy and Ilana hooked me up with some supplies to experiment with AppleCheeks and share the results with you Here’s how it worked for us.
Night 1
I stuffed Lemon Zest with two layers of 2-ply bamboo. I did one of the layers in a boy fold. The diaper wasn’t bulky at all and 13 hours later, still no leakage. I’ve had disposables lose it after that much time!
ilanaNight 2
In a Lake Echo, I put a microterry insert over top of a 3-ply bamboo. As per Ilana’s instructions, I put these over, not in, the pocket–soft fleece against Bug’s bum. Again– no leaking. Big peeing. The same night, I had put Babe, who rarely pees as night, in an AMP diaper with a Biq et Biquette liner and she wet right through with what was probably only one pee.
Night 3
I stuffed a two-ply bamboo topped with a microterry insert, rough side up. Bug didn’t leak at night and in the morning I left for AC HQ before he woke up. I asked Papa for leakage details when I got home and he had no idea. He pays little attention to such things. Whether it leaked or not, I’ll never know but I figure it doesn’t much matter since I have two other fail-safe options anyway.
The stuffing I used for Night 2 is my favourite, and what I’ve used every night since my experimentation so that’s what I’ll share with one lucky winner in the Rafflecopter below.
Please remember to comment with your size and colour choice from the current lineup (which now includes Jem!)
PS (I’m the one with the short hair and gold pants in the Jem reveal video and yes I’m aware that I’m not very coordinated!) Good Luck!

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Weaning for work

The other day at the park, I had the same conversation I’ve had many times before with a random mom. It always catches me off guard and I might seem rude but really I just don’t follow the logic.

Blah blah blah.

Me: “Yes, I still breastfeed them both.”

Her: “Oh, I had to wean mine because I went back to work.”

Me: awkward, confused pause. “I work.”

Her: “I couldn’t pump at work.”

Me: “I don’t pump at work.”

This really isn't so bad, is it?

This really isn’t so bad, is it?

Do you see where this is going? The thing is, even if you are not a full-time stay at home mom, you can breastfeed your children as long as you/they want. And you don’t have to pump at work if you don’t want to. Pumping is not something I personally enjoy. If your kids are close to a year, as most kids are when the majority of Canadian women go back to work, I don’t necessarily see the point of the hassle. They will get enough breastmilk after work and possibly through the night. When your not around they can drink water or goat, cow, almond, hemp or coconut milk.

Breastfeeding is about supply and demand. Even if you work 9-5, five days a week, if your baby ain’t suckling, you ain’t producing.

There’s an adjustment period so you could find a way to slowdown the breastfeeding sessions in the weeks leading up to your return without full-on weaning. I managed to get by by just going to work hand expressing enough to relieve the pressure and prevent a blocked duct but not create more demand during those particular hours. Easy peasey.

To that mom I was talking to, I don’t judge you for weaning your kid. But for future reference, you didn’t have to just because you went back to work.

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Overcoming depression, breaking the cycle

Guest Post by Cristina Cavalieri D’Oro

blogDepression/suicide has been in the news lately after the death of the wonderful actor Robin Williams. I wanted to share my personal experience with this and what I did to overcome it in the hopes that it will help anyone who might be experiencing this right now.

I was diagnosed with depression in my teens/early twenties and eventually overdosed on prescribed medication (luckily I made it back!) I was stuck in a vicious cycle of anger, loathing and self-hate. I hated the person looking back at me in the mirror and I wasn’t living the life I wanted.

Not surprisingly, I ended up in an abusive marriage that was just reflecting what I was feeling about myself. It wasn’t until I got out of the role of being a ‘victim’ and taking responsibility for my life, where I was, how I was feeling and where I wanted to go, that I really started seeing changes, I learned how to forgive and love myself.

I decided to make a difference in my life and started reading Louise Hay’s book, ‘You can heal your life.’ It was the first book that got me on this journey of self-healing. I also changed my diet and lifestyle COMPLETELY from a full junk food, processed diet to a more whole food based diet. I stopped drinking (escaping) and took charge. I seeked the tools that I needed for my personal healing and decided to invest in myself fully (and still do).

How did this all happen? By FIRST making a choice to do so. Not doing something because someone told me to do so or for someone else but really ME deciding that I wanted to change – letting go of all the mental shackles that were keeping me down, that were put there and that I had decided to keep consciously and subconsciously. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Hell yeah!

This is why I’m so passionate about providing healthy foods for our children, these chemical refined foods affects our behaviours, affects our moods, and our hormones.
This is why I’m also keen on parenting differently. When my kids hit a sensitive spot in me and my initial reaction and urge it to scream, to yell, to just want to grab them, I take a moment to breathe and remind myself what these words and actions will do to these little people. How it will affect their confidence and their self-worth. I am doing it differently not because I think I’m better than anyone else but because I’m CHOOSING to break this cycle and do the work to keep improving myself which will them reflect on my children and the world.

If I need help, I get it. If I have a million excuses as to why I shouldn’t, I crush them. If I slip, I get back up and keep going forward.

This is an ongoing process and is life.

- pick up an inspirational book
- call someone POSITIVE
- make a list of all the things that you’re grateful for
- surround yourself with high energy people
- change your diet
- question your thoughts and beliefs
- energy attracts energy, work on your mindset

EVERY person is different and affected in different ways but the bottom line is the same. Getting the help you need is a must but the first way to any sort of lasting healing is MAKING THE CHOICE to value yourself, MAKING THE CHOICE to love yourself, wanting to make real change and putting the effort and investment in yourself. After that the pieces will fall into place, there will still be times when you fall but a lot more times of getting back up and leading you to the road of doing what you came here to do!

This is how depression was a wake-up call for me. I hope that this might help and inspire anyone who is going through this right now. To seek the right tools for your healing and self-growth but most importantly to make the initial CHOICE to start loving yourself unconditionally and to know that you are sooooo worth the effort!

Because I’m so damn glad I did and I’m still here to be able to experience all this love!

Cristina is a health coach based in Montreal. Visit her at For the Love of Greens.

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Momzelle Christine review and FREE $25 giftcard!

nurse1 I’m in a stripey mood these days. The last three dresses I’ve bought were striped. Babe has similar articles of clothing as well and I think it’s funny/awesome when we match.

Because I’m feeling so stripey, I was thrilled to receive a Momzelle crimson striped Christine shirt in the mail last week. Up until now I’d been wearing Size S but discovered XS is a better fit for me. A nursing shirt isn’t something you want drooping in the front–otherwise what’s the point?

This Christine v-neck is definitely not one of Momzelle’s new models. In fact, it’s one of the oldest! It was one of the first four styles Momzelle put on the market–the style Christine (co-founder of Momzelle) made for herself to nurse in public after her daughter was born (seven years ago).

“Really it was the style that started Momzelle because Christine’s midwife raved about the top and that encouraged Christine to start the business,” said Sara Scharnitzky, Momzelle’s Social Media Coordinator (and wife of co-founder Vincent– She’s also the pretty model on the fridge magnets we all have on our fridges!)

Honestly I think it’s the one nursing shirt you could own if you only owned one nursing shirt.

nurse3Christine comes in a variety of striped and solid colours. The shirt opens from the bottom panel which divides the shirt under the bust. This is my favourite type of opening because with it, you get so much coverage up top–which is sort of the point of a nursing top, isn’t it? I gave a number of shirts and tanks “made for nursing” that I never really understood the point of. If they open from the top down why not just pull your boob right out?

nurse

He’s nursing!

nurse2

She’s nursing!

I’m working a lot these days–away from the kids, so I’ve been wearing nursing attire less and less. But since receiving Christine in the mail it’s been my go-to when I head out with Babe and Bug. If it’s dirty, I go for my favourite shirt on the planet, the discontinued Momzelle Black Hummingbird T.

If you’d like to by your own Christine v-neck (or any other Momzelle shirt) enter the Rafflecopter below to win a $25 Momzelle GC. Good luck!

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8 Reasons to Cosleep

Guest post By Dr. Jack Wolfson

BedsharingFor millions of years, moms have slept near their offspring. Modern society has gotten away from co-sleeping and bed sharing for a variety of reasons. A recent study prompted the media to have a field day describing co-sleeping as dangerous. Bed sharing can be dangerous if parents are under the influence of alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and illegal drugs. Additionally, chemicals found in conventional mattresses and laundry detergents are a major concern. Lastly, soft mattresses, pillows, and blankets present a danger.

If done safely, co-sleeping/bed-sharing is one of the best things you can do for the mental and physical health of your child.

Let me share with you eight reasons to co-sleep.

  1. It is what nature intended. A bird does not build another nest for its babies just as our Paleo ancestors did not find another cave for their children. All animals keep their young very close. Parents who put their children in another room are not putting the child’s interest first.
  2. Keep the baby close to breastfeed. Infants need nourishment throughout the night. It is normal for babies to wake up every few hours to feed to fuel their growing brain. A mom is less likely to get up to nurse if the baby is in the other room. Co-sleeping is easier on mom and the baby who doesn’t have to spend time crying.
  3. Lower risk of infant death and SIDS. If a child is in trouble, it makes sense that the closer a parent is, the more likely the parent will be able to help. If the child is choking or sick, mom/dad can be there to do something.
  4. Any nighttime danger to a child is reduced if there if a parent close. Babies and children have perished in fires, have been sexually abused by visiting relatives, have been abducted from their bed, have been attacked by pets, have suffocated after vomiting, and have died or been injured in various ways that could have been prevented had a parent been nearby to help.
  5. Raise more confident children. When a child is left alone to “cry it out” it leads to a sense of abandonment. Comments during the night from my seven year old son include “cuddle me”, “hold me”, and “scratch my back”. I cherish those moments.
  6. More time with your children. They grow up so fast and will be on their own before you know it. Co-sleeping is like a second lifetime with your child. If you work all day or you kid is in school/daycare, you have the opportunity to spend the entire night with them.
  7. More rest for mom and dad. No need to run to another bedroom to console a crying child.
  8. Better relationship with you and your spouse. Feel confident you are doing the right thing and are amazing parents. Intimacy can be difficult at times but those moments are special knowing the incredible family you both have created.

 

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The portable family bed

2014-07-24 23.51.41We recently took a vacation to Ottawa, where I’m from. In seven days we visited all kinds of friends and family and stayed at four different houses!

While nighttime for Babe wasn’t always smooth sailing (she really wanted to fall asleep nursing) I’m still amazed at how easily my two kids adjusted from house to house. I think a big part of it is that we just moved our family bed from house to house.

Whether we were sleeping on an air mattress, a pillow top double bed, on a mattress on the floor or our usual Queen at my cousin’s house, we all huddled and cuddled and cozied together.

The family bed isn’t always ideal or easy but for weeks like this one it sure is handy. Actually you know what? I take it back– The family bed is the best decision we ever made!

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More Women Turning to Hypnosis for All Phases of Child Birth

Guest Post By Colin Christopher

When you say the word hypnosis, many people instantly think of people in a stage show being magically transformed to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. But the truth is hypnosis is much more than that, and carries many benefits throughout all stages of pregnancy, helping women to cope with everything from morning sickness, pain and the actual delivery.

The Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Kate Middleton, underwent hypnotherapy to treat food aversion and morning sickness related to her pregnancy. Since then, expecting moms everywhere are wondering if hypnosis is right for them. The simple answer is yes because after all, hypnosis is an all-natural therapy, but if there are any medical complications related to your pregnancy and your doctor doesn’t want you to do it, always take his or her advice.

Medical professionals have used hypnosis and self-hypnosis techniques since the 1930s to help expecting moms achieve physical comfort and relaxation. Other benefits to hypnosis for pregnancy are shorter labour and quicker recovery; it can help a woman sleep better and deeper; it can lower blood pressure; it can help keep the mom to be in a more positive state of mind and also avoid postpartum depression; and it can help alleviate heartburn, nausea and morning sickness.

When starting out, it is best to use hypnosis in the afternoon or evening when the physical symptoms are less. This helps the patient stay more focused and relaxed. Hypnosis can be done with a certified clinical hypnotherapist, and similar self-hypnosis techniques can be used alone by the patient. If you decide to work with a professional hypnotherapist, it is highly recommended you make sure they are certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners, or similar organization.

How it works

The process usually begins by having the patient lie down and begin taking slow and even deep breathes for about five minutes. With the patient fully relaxed, the hypnotherapist will then proceed to offer suggestions out loud. These same suggestions can be made by your spouse or a trusted partner.

A few examples:

- Your stomach is calm and relaxed.
- You are calm, relaxed and feeling strong.
- Your baby is calm, relaxed and healthy.
- The more relaxed you feel the calmer and more comfortable your stomach feels.
- The more comfortable your stomach feels the easier it is to focus your mind and remain calm and clearheaded.

- As you feel your head clear, you feel that you can eat what is nourishing to you and your baby, and as you do, your stomach feels calm and comfortable.

These are just the most common suggestions that are made during hypnosis, but you can replace these suggestions with some that are more personalized to your situation. If you’re worried that you won’t be a good mom, for example, come up with suggestions that reinforce the reasons why you will be a good mom.

Additionally, the hypnotherapist or spouse can reinforce the suggestions physically, by putting their hand on the woman’s stomach. As they put their hand on the stomach (or instruct the pregnant woman to use her own hand), they make a verbal suggestion by saying, “Any time you don’t feel well, you feel better when you put a hand on your stomach. When you put a hand on
your stomach it feels calm and comfortable and your mind becomes clear and focused on your health and well-being.”

This physical touching combined with the suggestion forms an association, so even when the pregnant woman is not hypnotized and she begins to feel nauseated, she can trigger the subconscious suggestions with the simple physical touch of her hand.

The reason hypnosis works so well is because the conscious mind acts as a gatekeeper to the subconscious mind, and under hypnosis we can make the conscious mind inactive, allowing us access to the subconscious mind. This allows us to get deep into the part of the brain that deals with the reactions to stress, pain, emotions and more. In a sense, hypnotherapy can reprogram your beliefs that birth will be comfortable, easy and exciting.

Many women are apprehensive at first when trying hypnosis, and for that reason it’s important they know they are always in control and will never do anything against their will. A person under hypnosis can come out of it whenever they choose. In most cases, after the first session, most women are eager to get back to a hypnotic state because it makes them feel better, more confident and relaxed about their pregnancy.

Colin Christopher is a clinical hypnotherapist certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners. In his clinical hypnotherapy practice, Colin works with expecting mothers to make pregnancy relaxing, less painful and more enjoyable. He is author of the book Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break You. Visit www.easybabybirth.com, http://www.colinchristopher.com/, and www.stmbook.com

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