Jenn

May 042015
 

birthdayBabe is a curly girl. Her fine, blonde hair dreads overnight and has caused a little more stress than either of us would like.

I, too, am a curly girl, but I wasn’t aware that I was all that different until 11 or 12 years old. Babe seems to feel it already at the age of four.
Most of her friends don’t have curly hair. Merida is the only Disney princess with curly hair and Babe doesn’t seem to relate because it’s red. She recently asked to buy her own brush. I know, from experience, that curly hair is best brushed wet. But Babe uses her brush and realized that if she brushes her hair when it’s dry it becomes straight(er). Mostly it just gets puffy. But she feels beautiful and that’s what matters.
She says, “I don’t want to have curly hair, mommy.” And it kind of breaks my heart. The “Do you know how many people pay big money at the salon to have hair like you?” Speech only goes so far. Sometimes we don’t want to feel unique, we want to feel normal.
I wasn’t four, but I remember feeling desperate to have straight hair when, in junior high, I felt so weird. There were no ceramic hair straighteners but my mom, also a curly girl used an real iron on my hair, the way her mom did for her. Once, we even put a box of chemical straightener in which was a very bad idea. My hair fizzled and felt like my faux fur jacket.
Mixed Chicks, a product line endorsed by Hollywood stars like Halle Berry, Ciara and Macy Gray, sent my curly girl their entire kid’s line to try out. The kid’s shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner and de-tangling spray are vegan and cruelty free. The products are also sulphate and Paraben-free. The company also sent along leave in conditioner for Babe’s curly mama.
As always, she was over the moon to receive her own package. Her favourite product is the shampoo because the lid is pink. It doubles as body wash.
kid-s-quad-pack-2Before I talk about the shampoo and conditioners, I want to say that the de-tangler spray is great. We don’t use it every day, but from time to time, when Babe’s hair is looking particularly crazy, I give it a spritz and she’s very pleased with herself. She likes having her own brush, spray, barrettes and bows.
We tested the products and came to the conclusion that less is more. I think washing Babe’s hair as little as possible is the best way to go. I personally use the ‘no poo method and before receiving these funky coloured Mixed Chicks products, we were doing ‘no poo for Babe, too. We are going to go back to it, as well. Buried in the bottom of the box, she also found a chapstick that I ACTUALLY LET HER use! Her friends have all kinds of lip stuff and she’s been a little jealous, but the ingredients in the chap stick are just fine!
Washing and conditioning Babe’s hair every couple of days with these products was not our best strategy– it left it frizzier than ever before. While the ingredients are very clean compared to many drugstore products, Babe’s hair is used to baking soda and vinegar. Maybe once a week.  Once we scaled back, using the shampoo and conditioner about once a week we could see that this was a much better strategy. I’ve gotten in the habit of brushing it while the conditioner is still in, rinsing it, and putting it in a braid before bed. Babe is not a Mixed Chick. She is as white as a cloud and her hair is very fine. But I have a few friends with biracial kids and the braiding the hair before bed is a very handy trick I’ve picked up.
Before making the switch to no ‘poo, I wasn’t able to find a natural enough shampoo and conditioner that got rid of Babe’s tangles, but the Mixed Chicks line certainly does that. If you have a kid with curls (or curls yourself) the site is well worth checking out.

 

Apr 302015
 
treeDo you ever stop to reevaluate whether the way you look reflects who you are? Clothes do not make a person, but could it be that dressing in a way that makes you feel good, can make you feel… Good?

I’m in yoga pants most of the time whether for work or comfort. I’ve touched on this in a post about self care.
My hair is growing out. It’s shiny and soft but also a little awkward. I’ve been wearing mascara these days.
Last week, I was walking through the mall, coming from teaching a yin/hatha class. Dressed in the purple spandex tights I’d bought at Costco, and a purple fleece I’ve had for ages. Under it, a black spandex shirt from Joe Fresh. Loblaws and Costco is where I shop for clothes (rare) because it’s so convenient. And way less expensive than Lululemon.
Yoga pants and a tank top. This is my uniform. Day in and out. It’s athletic. While my body is in better shape than it’s ever really been, I certainly don’t identify with the term “athlete.”  I’m not a runner, swimmer or a gym goer. Aside from chasing the kids around, my physical activity is yoga. Mostly I’m at the front of a class, moving through the postures with students, but I also maintain my own practice at home and going to one, sometimes five yoga classes a week.
I think tights/yoga pants are the appropriate thing to wear to a yoga class, but when I passed myself in the mirror on my way home from work the other day, it looked all wrong.
Who is this person? I felt synthetic and so did the fabrics I was wearing.
What do I feel like myself in? Dresses. Flowing, cotton dresses. Plazo pants. Long skirts and loose tank tops. Butterfly tops. And man, I’m wishing I could make a ponytail.
Maybe I’m just feeling spring. Maybe this is a transformation.
For so long, I wore hand me downs and clothes from thrift stores. Whatever was around. Whatever fit. Maybe it’s the influence of friends like Cristina who are helping me realize that feeling good in your body, loving the person in the mirror, is crucial to a person’s happiness. And if that person happens to be a mom then crucial to the family’s happiness.
Maybe it’s the influence of Babe who hates jeans and feels most like herself when she’s wearing a flowered dress, no shoes and her hair is down and wild. Maybe that’s it. My daughter, my mirror. I encourage her to fully express herself and I’m watching how that unfolds everyday. Seeing what she chooses to wear is pretty much how I feel best! Through writing this post, I solved the mystery. I’ll follow Babe. I’ll refuse to wear clothes that don’t make me feel like myself. I don’t know if I can show up to teach in a dress, but I’m sure Babe will help me figure this out.
Since writing this post (it’s been sitting in the cue for a number of weeks) I’ve been feeling like I look way more like myself. Sometimes I still wear spandex, but mostly I’m wearing natural, loose fitting fibres and it feels fantastic!)
 Posted by at 12:14 am
Apr 272015
 
The Case Studio customizable Tough Case

The Case Studio customizable Tough Case

I never thought I’d own a cellphone. Now that I’ve had one for over two years, I actually can’t imagine not having one. I don’t have a data plan and just “make do” with wireless,  which admittedly scares me, but is useful. The iPhone 4, which I still have, replaced the oldest, pinkest Samsung flip-phone my friend Megan gave me. Coincidentally, as I write this, I just saw on Facebook this morning that the same Megan has already had 3 cellphone screens smash this year. She has a 4-year-old and a newborn. Either she needs to stop letting her kids touch her phone, wipe the butter off her fingers before handling it, or she needs to get herself a better phone case! (Remember to enter in the Rafflecopter, Meg!!)

I generally don’t like for my kids to hold my phone, but let’s be honest, it’s inevitable. At one point or another, someone’s going to run away with their mom’s phone, so why not make it as safe as can be? In the time I’ve had this phone, I’ve gone through two Otter Boxes. They are supposedly the “best,” but I’m not convinced. After all, neither lasted a year. Instead of going for the same old this time, I decided to try something new, The Case Studio’s Tough Case.

case1Just as I thought I’d never own a Smart Phone, I never thought I’d have a phone case that I actually loved. Since using this case, I have dropped my phone more times than I care to divulge. Maybe I’m going to jinx myself here, but this case has totally protected my phone every single time. It is most definitely shock absorbing! Another awesome feature is that there is no little silicone flappy thing on the bottom that you have to move in order to charge the phone. That flappy thing frustrated me daily, as I use my phone to play music every time I teach a yoga class. Most of the time I had to take the phone out of the case which is dangerous and also meant there was more opportunity for dirt to get inside. Wear and tear in this little flappy area of my Otter Boxes meant that flappy bit eventually ripped off and looked ratty. The case protects the volume button but still allows you to very easily turn the sound up and down. Same goes for the on/off button at the top. I found I was always struggling to push the button down on the other cases I had.

I didn’t even get to the best part. Obviously, The Tough Case gets 5/5 for function, even when put head to head with one of the most popular phone case companies. But you know what else my Otter Box didn’t have? A photo of my family! This was the big reason I decided that reviewing this item would be fun. The process of uploading my photo and checking out took a total of about 5 minutes. Granted, I rushed, and regretted the photo I chose. By the time I contacted them, my case had already been shipped, but when I explained how embarrassed I was that I chose a giant photo of myself, they took pity. I decided to gift the case to Papa and they sent me a new one, this time with a photo of my family’s hands. Which do you prefer, mine or Papa’s?

case2

Photo by caitlemieuxphotography.com

So, to recap: The product costs $49.95 (you can get an Otter Box for less than that). But there is no annoying silicone flappy thing on the Tough Case, and it’s generally way easier and more comfortable to use. Being able to add your own photo, text, design, or choose from myriad of designs they have is simply awesome (could this be a good Mother’s Day Gift for Grandma?). Lastly, the customer service was above and beyond (a shout out to Adrian!)

The Case Studio is giving away a tough case to one lucky reader (iPhone or Android, see options here) as well as $25 off for the rest of you! Just use this code: 25TOSPEND

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apr 232015
 

tajineI’m going to be honest. I don’t really know what tajine is. I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. When my Moroccan friend posted on Facebook that she’d made a chicken and pear tajine and wrote a loose recipe on her page, I couldn’t help but use it as motivation to cook that night’s dinner.

So, if you’ve had a proper tajine and this is botched, I apologize. Whatever you want to call this, it’s amazing. I made a lot of it and the whole family ate it for days without complaining once. You can cook everything ahead of time, use leftovers, and mix it all together and reheat.

Ingredients:

2 pears, peeled, sliced
2 tbs maple syrup
1/2 c water

1c Braggs
3 cloves garlic
An onion, thinly sliced
1T dried thyme
1T dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste
1 eggplant
1c apple sauce
1 can chickpeas or 2 cups of chickpeas which have been soaked over night and cooked in bone broth (preferred)
An entire chicken, carcass removed (and put in the crock for broth, naturally) or chicken thighs, breast etc. If in pieces, it probably doesn’t have to be precooked.
How To:
Preheat the oven to 350
Put the de-boned chicken into a roast pan, along with the applesauce, onion and spices. Let it all marinate in the fridge as long as is practical.
In the meantime, roast the eggplant (prick it a bunch of times with a fork) on the top rack of your oven, for about an hour. You might want to put a baking tray underneath to catch the eggplant juice.
While the eggplant is cooking and the chicken is marinating, cook the pears with maple syrup and water. Boil, then simmer.
When the eggplant is really mushy, let it cool enough so you can handle it. Scoop out the flesh and discard the skin. You probably won’t have to cut it up much, it will just break apart. Mix it into the roast pan with the chicken, add add the pears. Heat it for about 30 minutes in your already warm oven.
Serve with rice, or your favourite couscous recipe if you eat couscous!
Yum.

 

 Posted by at 12:27 am
Apr 202015
 

oopsOne of the first things I remarked about OOPS! the Parenting Handbook: I Wish I Had Known This Before, was its size. It’s thin–100 pages long. A parenting book that a parent can actually find time to read. The second thing, the author who is  clearly well educated, doesn’t overwhelm us with big words. A parenting book that a tired mama can actually understand at the end of a long day.

The author, Erik R. Robertson, draws from his 15 years of experience as an educational psychologist who’s been working with parents in a variety of private practices and educational institutions.

He says, “At the end of my time with every couple I have worked with, thy always ask me one question, ‘why didn’t I know this before?’ Well now everyone can.” Hence the title of the book.

This book gives us parenting tools, grazing over a number of important, relevant topics from birth to the age our kids should probably think of moving out.

Throughout the pages, Robertson keeps coming back to an important point: We are our children’s’ role models. We need to practice what we preach, whether that’s stress management it’s self-love.

One pull quote he uses to emphasize this,
“Leave your children alone, and work on yourselves”

– J Krishnamurti

The author about how we have so many resources available to is as parents in 2015. All of which, he says, overemphasize the early cognitive development if children and “ignore the most important aspect of being human: the fact that we are already whole at birth,” he writes. “Our soul and its wisdom are present and available.” Amen.
I was especially into the chapter called, Is it Time to Change our Failing Education System? As we think about where/if Babe will go to school, daily, I think of and weigh our schooling options. Erik covers a lot of stuff I already know and feel. I, too, believe our schools are failing kids. I, too, believe this institutions put emphasis on fitting kids into boxes rather than nurturing individuality. Too much competition, homework, grades, reward and punishment.
A close second for me is the chapter which outlines the 5 Human Values of Right conduct, Love, Peace, Truth and Nonviolence. That’s something this Yogi Mama can get behind.
His chapters go on to cover things That really aren’t on my radar yet. Drugs, alcohol, sex and  leaving home! Yikes! This is a book I’ll keep on my shelf for a few more years to come.
An interesting tidbit: 10% of Erik’s profits go towards helping people in India access healthcare, education and water. He also supports Tibetan nuns and monks who’ve been exiled to India. You can buy the book here.
 Posted by at 12:39 am
Apr 152015
 

bug1Every day we’re given the chance to start over. To be and do anything we want. I believe that it’s our limiting beliefs that hold us back from greatness.

Once we start to tap into these ideas–that we are the ones in control of our own lives, we can start to recognize the way we block ourselves in our everyday thoughts and conversations. And hopefully stop blocking ourselves from fulfilling our goals and dreams.
Maybe we can also notice how we’re preventing out children from realizing their full potential as well.
We judge and limit ourselves or our children by thinking or saying things like,
“I can’t because…”
“I’m the type of person who’s always…”
“I’ve never been able to…(therefore I will never be able to…)
“He’s shy.”
“She doesn’t like vegetables.”
Many of us are in the habit of saying, and even worse– thinking, in this way. Before I started delving deeper into yoga philosophies and making all the connections, my friend Cristina started calling me out on my self-limiting language. She was gentle (I actually don’t think she even meant to do it… (Did you, Cristina??) but I eventually stopped speaking this way in her presence, and  have pretty much cut it out in everyday life. Now I’m trying not to feel annoyed when I hear others use it!

One night, a few weeks ago, I really realized how common it is to do this to our children, too. (See the example about shyness or pickiness.) We’re not even giving them the chance when we say these things.

My kids thankfully aren’t shy or picky, but something I’ve said more than once: my son will ONLY go to sleep if I rock and nurse him.
 
I’ve rocked and nursed Bug to sleep every nap and nighttime for almost two years. Strapped close to me in the Ergo, boob in mouth. Why? Because he CAN’T fall asleep any other way. He moves too much to lie still and sleep. He’ll NEVER close his eyes if I’m not rocking him.
On that fateful night, it was late and I was exhausted. Papa was reading to Babe and I crawled in bed to nurse Bug. He did some acrobatics and was loud and distracting. Then he put a book over his own face and nursed to sleep. The next night, I planned for more of the same. Bug CAN fall asleep without being rocked. He nursed for a minute, rolled over and fell asleep. A week or two later and it’s as though this is the way it’s always been. I couldn’t help but wish I tried it sooner. Did I mention he’s pushing 40lbs?!
I gave Bug the opportunity to try something new. My wish is that we can all do a little more of this for ourselves and our children.

 

 Posted by at 12:57 am  Tagged with:
Apr 132015
 

yoga roomAs part of my requirements for becoming a yoga therapist, a have a number of case studies to complete on my topic of choice. I chose Diastasis Recti, or Ab Seperation, something that affects many moms.

I wanted to create a space in my house to receive these clients, which was welcoming and comfortable. We live in a 4 1/2 or maybe 5 1/2 depending who you ask. It’s actually quite big, with a semi-finished basement, a backyard and three closed rooms. We use one as a bedroom, one as a playroom and the third is where we keep the TV and lots of games and books.
We also have a huge entrance  to the house, and though it seemed awkward at first, this is where I decided to make my cozy yoga room. First step was to move the piano! Then Papa happily arranged his extra drums (he has three kits!) in a nook beside the front door, and installed a bright orange curtain. The drums are beautiful, but they don’t exactly give a mama that “Ahhh, I’m feeling so relaxed” vibe.
I arranged a small shelf where I keep some yoga mats, bolsters, straps and blocks.
I moved in a few plants, candles, incense. I could use some more ambient lighting, but let’s be honest, the kids demolish my sacred space to build bridges and airplanes with the props. Best to have unbreakables!
To me the art on the walls was very important. I wanted it to be special but didn’t want to invest hundreds at this point in time. I borrowed some artwork from the other rooms, including the Gustav Klimt canvass I bought for Bug’s birth room. It became a joke, as the lights were off and my eyes were closed the whole time. It’s been better appreciated in the yoga room. I also happily hung the Waldorf Doll tryptic that I’d commissioned Australian Artist Nadine Mullins to make for my Yoga Mini Mantra business cards and website. What a perfect home for it.
I left the large mirror that was already there, added my yoga calendar, yoga and doula certificates and a dream archer painting a friend gave me for my wedding. But one spot remains. And if you’ve made it this far, that’s where you come in!
While searching online for something original and affordable, I rediscovered minted.com. I’d come across them in the last when I was making my wedding invitations and business cards but I somehow missed that they also have prints. There are a number of prints the would fit absolutely perfectly in the one spot I have remaining, but… I only have one spot.
I was having a hard time choosing just one print, and when I talked to the generous people at minted.com, they offered to offer one winner a $50 credit to the person who helps me choose a print for my studio. The gift certificate can go towards your own print, wedding invitation, stationary, birth announcements or whatever this site has to offer. There are many options to print on recycled paper and the company ships to Canada. So, if you’d like to enter to win your own print, please leave a comment on this post letting me know which of the following pictures you think would best suit my wee yoga studio. If you happen to see another option on the minted site that I haven’t picked, please feel free to suggest! I’ll pick a winner Monday, April 20.
Thanks in advance for your help and good luck!
limited edition print by Sara Shashani

limited edition print by Sara Shashani

by Kiana Mosley

by Kiana Mosley

 limited edition print by Olive Wicherski

limited edition print by Olive Wicherski

limited edition print by Kelly Ventura

limited edition print by Kelly Ventura

Apr 092015
 

root Babe had a cough at daycare and it stopped almost instantly when her teacher gave her some chickpea, ginger, carrot soup. I have no idea what the recipe was, but Babe’s enthusiasm prompted me to make this recipe for dinner that same night.

I added no dried spices, though allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg etc. would probably make a nice addition. Please use this recipe as inspiration to create your own version.

Ingredients
1 onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic
2″ piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
Half a butternut squash, chopped
root21 small turnip, chopped
Stalks of chard (if you happen to have some) chopped
2 cups cooked chickpeas (from can, rinsed, or soaked and cooked ahead of time–ideal)
4 cups homemade chicken broth (or water or veggie broth)

How to

Start by frying onions in the coconut oil, adding ingredients as you chop them.

Once everything is in the pot, add broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer until veggies are cooked. Blend using a Blendtec or immersion blender.

Papa and I topped ours with dried chili flakes. Crispy bacon also makes a nice topper.

Apr 062015
 

mama yoga I am so grateful for the amount of work I have these days. The month of February was a little too intense– I was teaching one or two, sometimes three yoga classes every day. I am moving more and more towards teaching adults– pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive. Still, however, mom and baby yoga and children’s yoga make up a large part of my work. And I love it.

Teaching children’s yoga is pretty crazy! It takes a lot of patience and energy. It takes discipline! It takes… Props!
I have a number of different  resources and tricks in my bag (I often come to class with a big bag of stuffed animals!) I have yoga games and yoga books and I use these tools to build my classes around.
Mama Yoga and the Story of Namaste, by Susanna Stratford, is my new favourite book to bring to yoga class.
Babe, who recently had her 4th birthday, is into yoga in a big way. She found The Story of Namaste on my shelf (the one she’s not supposed to touch) and excitedly came over to me with it. It’s aimed at ages 4-9, so it’s perfect! I dropped what I was doing and we got moving.
The story, written by a fellow yoga mama, explains the meaning of the Sanskrit word, Namaste, which we usually hear/say at the end of every yoga class. Do you know what the word means?
Throughout the book, which is beautifully illustrated by Alex Langenstein, there are postures which children can do on their own or teachers or parents can use to demonstrate. Warrior is one of the first postures Babe came across in the book. She couldn’t quite get the action of bending just one knee and kept squatting. Easily frustrated in situations like this, I went with it and before we knew it, she was teaching me out of the book!
namasteAside from the bright, beautiful drawings, the book also contains photographs of the children who inspired the characters in the story.  Their photos describe a series of postures and how to safely try them.
The Story of Namaste is a great tool not only for yoga teachers, but for parents who might not have any yoga experience, and would like to learn with the child. It’s also great for elementary school teachers who want to bring yoga into the classroom. The pictures are so clear kids can guide themselves through the postures. They’re real hatha yoga asanas that work even for the most experienced yogi. this had been an amazing addition to my very special bookshelf.
For more information or to add Mama Yoga to your bookshelf, visit www.mamayogaskids.com
Apr 012015
 
Photo by Frank Vincentz

Photo by Frank Vincentz

The snow is melting in Montreal.

I’m on top of my game, feeling in fine form in all the ways. School, kids, love and social life have me all filled up. I’m in charge of my health and wellness. I’m sleeping more than I probably have in four years.
365 days ago, I didn’t feel quite like this. A year ago I was weaning off anti-depressants. I was recouping from what we called Postpartum Depression.
I’m revisiting that time in my life a lot, these days. I’m still not entirely sure what happened. I still don’t know if I was depressed. I was angry and sleep deprived and isolated. I felt abandoned by my parents and I wasn’t sure who my friends were. It was a time of deep confusion. Of transition and adjustment.
At some point, when I’d convinced my mom to come give me a hand in July, 2014, I buckled. Or surrendered. It was after I’d punched holes in my wall and had electric shocks pulsing through my body as I lay in bed. Weird stuff, right? My therapist had gone on vacation. I payed a lot of money at a private clinic and left with Cipralex, a drug that is supposed to be safe to take while breastfeeding. I felt better, fast.
After a few months of being on the lowest dose of the medication, I settled into the routine of being a (tandem nursing) mom of two. I felt ready to get off the medication I was so resistant to get on. I had no follow up with the doctor at the private clinic. No family doctor. With the advice of a friend who is a psychiatric nurse, I stayed on the medication and waited for the snow to melt. Winter felt eternal and I was afraid I’d never be myself again. I thought I’d be stuck on these pills forever. As the snow melted, I weaned off the meds. It was easy.
At this point, I had already started yoga teacher training. I completed my a Radiant Child training while on the medication and weaned off at some point during Mom and Baby or Yin training. I was already working teaching kids yoga and I had big plans for my career. Transitioning. No longer a journalist. A Yoga Teacher. I felt great. I felt I was something other than “just a mom.” I had something to do other than breastfeed and change diapers.
This winter, which is almost over, was a good one. It was long, like it’s long every year. But it changed for me when, as the leaves started to fall, one of my teachers spoke to us about the seasons and rhythms of our bodies. The feelings that take over when we’re head to toe in too many layers. We turn inward and want to cocoon. We become sad. Or is it SAD? Are we depressed or are we just moving at a slower rhythm? A normal, natural rhythm.
It was allowing myself to feel winter, instead of fearing winter, that got me through this one.
All this occurred to me today, as I watched the snow melt. It started to rain. I started to cry. But I’m not sad, or depressed. Not in the slightest.
 Posted by at 12:10 am