Jenn

May 282015
 
  Every week, in my Mom and Baby Yoga classes, I like to ask a question and give the moms an opportunity to reflect and share with each other. More often than not, they’re all (we’re all) on the same page. Though we’re different women, different moms, some things are apparently universal.

DSC_0015

Our pre-bedsharing setup

Last week, I asked for an example of something that was very surprising in becoming a mother… Or an example of how you or your partner reacted to something differently than you thought you would? In one class, all the women talked about cosleeping. And their experiences were so similar to my own.

When Babe was first born, we were terrified to bedshare. Cosleeping (having her in our bedroom) was non negotiable. Our apartment was super tiny and the second bedroom (my office) was facing one of the busiest streets in Montreal. And besides, the government recommended keeping baby in your room for the first few months. But sharing a bed? Bedsharing had a bad rep. Horror stories of parents suffocating their newborn was enough to have us putting a swaddled Babe in her own bassinet for the first week or two.
What we didn’t know was that bedsharing was the thing that was going to save breastfeeding for us. It was the thing that was going to allow us to sleep at night. It was going to let us be close, all night long to help Babe if she needed us.
I was tired of dragging my severely sleep deprived ass out of bed to sit hunched over in a rocking chair to nurse, unlatch, and watch her wake up again. So one night, even though I was using a nipple shield, I brought Babe into bed with us, and four years later, that’s where she still sleeps.
When my mom came down to visit last week, Babe chose to sleep with  her. They slept fine but I didn’t! She’s my teddy bear!
DSC_0037Does bedsharing affect my relationship with Papa? Perhaps. Intimate moments are usually more calculated than they’d be if any “couple time” happened in our bedroom. It doesn’t. But I do feel lucky that he is able to share the bed with us. I have friends whose partners aren’t able to, for various reasons. Something important to keep in mind if you’re reading this, undecided about bedsharing. Just because we’re still doing it four years later doesn’t mean that because you do it in the first few months or years it will have to continue this long. We do it because we want to, knowing that we are very free to change habits. Every day is a new day and we get to decide what we want our lives to look like. Since I stopped rocking Bug to sleep, I’ve really been approaching everyday as brand new. Just because something held true yesterday (or 10 years ago!) doesn’t mean it’s true in this moment.
Bedsharing isn’t for everyone but it is totally for us. Sometimes I think Babe and Bug could have their own room. We actually have another room complete with a bed! But really, our sleeping arrangement, no matter how unpredicted, is just perfect.
I asked on the Facebook page, if some of you had stories about surprise cosleeping. Here’s what you said. Thanks for sharing and happy bedsharing!
I had no intention on cosleeping. Yet here I am, with bb #3, laying in bed. I love cosleeping now. –Cecilia
I didn’t intend to with G. We started with his bouncer in between us in the bed (I am guessing since I heard before having him how dangerous it is supposed to be) and then I just said forget it and took him out. It felt so wrong to put him far away from us especially with his breathing trouble. #2 is here and there was not a thought of putting her in a crib. We sold the crib actually haha. -Megan, Ottawa
cheryl

Cheryl’s family

I didn’t intend on bed sharing. I refused to have Madison in our bed. She did spend the first 6 months in a basinette beside our bed. Dylan came along, and he was diagnosed with his heart condition… I didn’t want him anywhere BUT our bed. We had to check his heart rate at every diaper change, and give him meds every 6 hours. Now with Ashton, we know how easy breastfeeding and bedsharing is, how better everyone sleeps, and how much we love the cuddles. –Cheryl, Ottawa

I didn’t plan on co-sleeping. My daughter turned out to be a no sleep baby and hated the bassinet and crib. Also I found breastfeeding in bed was easier. She’s two now and still breastfeeds and sleeps in bed with me. She sleeps better now so that’s a relief. To be honest, I really love the closeness of her sleeping in my bed. –Karissa
Do you have a surprise bedsharing story to share?
 Posted by at 12:02 am
May 252015
 

Eko-LiteI have about 10 yoga mats. Some were given to me, others I bought for 5$ a pop when a local yoga studio cleared out mats people had long forgotten. I use them for my summertime outdoor yoga classes so the quality really isn’t very important. Up until very recently, I’d just grab one of these ratty mats and head to work. Or I’d just borrow a mat from whatever studio I taught at that day. But in starting to take better care of myself, I thought, HEY! I DESERVE A GOOD YOGA MAT!

Enter Manduka’s eKO Lite Mat. I’d had my eye on these mats for a while. I’m bothered by the waste that is caused by all these crappy yoga mats so many of us use. I get (totally get) why people might not want to shell out 60$+ on a piece of rubber they might only use one time. (Did you see that Craig’s List ad??) But run of the mill yoga mats–including the 10 that I have– are made of all kinds of yucky chemicals. I primarily teach Mom and Baby yoga and kind of cringe when I see a baby gnawing on a toxic yoga mat. Most yoga mats are not good for us, our babies, or the planet. They’re made of things like PVC, BPA, azodicarbonamide, phthalates…

mat1

Shoulder stand at Happy Tree

So, in doing my eco friendly yoga mat research, I kept coming back to Manduka, and was recently lucky enough to get my hands on one. In the yoga world, we talk a lot about manifestation and the joke among my closest friends is how if I want something, be it a blender, crockpot or yoga mat, I make it appear thanks to this here blog. Which is what happened with this mat– Manduka sent me my very own eKO Lite Mat to review, and is going to give one to a lucky mamanaturale reader!

There’s always a chance, when I review something, I’m not going to like it. That’s not the case with this mat–I adore it. But at first, I was a little worried. I have used mats, like this one, which are meant to be used in hot yoga, and I really dislike the texture. You see the Lululemon ones all the time, totally scratched up from normal use (and I find them to be slippery). Often, they are also super thin, which to me defeats some of the purpose of using a yoga mat.

This Manduka mat, which is 4mm thick, has a really cool texture on the top. (They call it the “rippled water top”) it doesn’t scratch and it doesn’t slip. It’s made of biodegradable, sealed-cell natural tree rubber which was not harvested in the Amazon. The softening process is done without the toxic foaming agents and plasticizers found in other mats (see above!) What this means, is that if in Mom and Baby Yoga class, one of the munchkins craws up and takes a nibble, it won’t be too bad for her. I might not be impressed though, these days, this mat is my baby.

Crow at Espace Shanti

Crow at Espace Shanti

The day the mat arrived, I missed it and had to go to a Fed-Ex depot to get it and I was beyond excited. I really do receive a lot of cool things to review on this blog, but this thing takes the cake. I got my mat on a Wednesday night and on Thursday I used it to teach a Mom and Baby yoga class at Equilibrium, two Prenatal yoga classes at Happy Tree, TAKE a Hot Yoga class there (seriously super grippy when I was super drippy), then head with my new precious mat Espace Shanti where I teach Hatha/Yin. What a day. But I had the company of this luxe yoga mat.

I’m not one for “stuff,” and have definitely had moments snobbishly turning my nose up at spiritual materialism. But every teacher and every yogi deserves a good yoga mat that’s not going to make a giant footprint, right?

You might have noticed the huge Manduka ad on the side of this page. I’m an affiliate, so if you buy something from them through that link, you’ll be supporting this blog! Thanks in advance.

If you’d like to enter to win your own Manduka eKO Lite Mat, answer the following question in the comments: Why do you practice yoga? A second entry if you also tell us which yoga posture brings you inner peace.

Namaste and good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 212015
 
Tabouleh mushroom topper

Tabouleh mushroom topper

Are we the only ones who shop at Costco? I bet not. We love that they have some of our staples in this house– organic ground beef, organic chicken, gluten free pasta options, frozen organic produce, coconut oil, almond butter, nuts. I could go on.

We do not buy all of our groceries there. I mostly follow the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list. If it’s pretty clean, I try to buy it at Costco. If not, I buy it elsewhere. To be honest, as far as clean, fresh produce goes, there aren’t that many options at this store, but Portabello mushrooms usually make it in the cart. I usually use them as I’d use regular button mushrooms, but being BBQ season, I wanted to give grilling them a fair shot. We’ll definitely be doing this again!
Ingredients:
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in rounds
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped small
5 portabello mushrooms
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
A big handful of parsley, chopped
Nutritional yeast
How To:
Put all salad ingredients, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar to marinate in a bowl for as long as convenient
"Cheesy" mushroom burgers

“Cheesy” mushroom burgers

Clean underside of mushrooms with a napkin

Use a spoon to gently scoop the meat of the mushroom out and add to salad mixture
Top mushrooms with the salad mixture and sprinkle with nutritional yeast
Grill on low, indirect heat for about 20 minutes
We had ours with barbecued sweet potatoes (cumin, cinnamon and coconut oil, in tin foil for about 30-40 minutes) and bean salad. A big hit!
May 172015
 

mama clothMy 13-year-old self would SO NOT have been okay with the idea of using reusable cloth menstrual pads. Periods are gross and we need to use bleached, disposable products to be clean. Right? Luckily, a few years into my teenagehood I came to my senses and started using a reusable menstrual cup. And here I am in my 30s, just now trying reusable cloth pads.

I asked around for the best pads and got a few different answers. One of which, was the Canadian company, mamacloth.ca. The name came up a few times (I think she chose a VERY good name for her company, as reusable menstrual pads are often referred to as “mama cloth.” I remembered that I had connected with the owner, Meg, a few years ago on Twitter. She was very pleasant, so I approached her to do this product review, now that my period has finally returned. True to her Twitter persona, Megan  is an absolute doll. She is exactly the kind of person I want to support with my purchases. Amid loads of changes at home as well as an injury (her precious hand!) she sent me one of these adorable pads to review. Her pads come in a variety of fabrics and widths and lengths, and the one she sent me to try out is the Organic Bamboo Velour/Organic Hemp/PUL backed 9″ AIO Pad & coordinating PUL Wrapper.

I tucked it away in a safe place and couldn’t find it when my period came around! Luckily, after decluttering a few drawers, it resurfaced. I washed it with a load of cloth diapers and hung it to dry. At which point, Babe, who had many questions about my new Luna Cup, asked, “Mommy, who’s that diaper for?” The birdie motif fits right in with Bug’s Love Happens and Winging It AC diapers.

packageOne thing I love about this particular reusable menstrual pad is that the inside panel is black. That means, if it were to stain, it wouldn’t show when I hung it out to dry. Genius. That black panel is made of the softest velour fabric. I wish all my underwear were made of this!
In terms of absorbency, I find it a little hard to judge. I have just this one reusable pad, so for the majority of my cycle, I used my Luna Cup and at the last day or two, used the pad. I generally like the insertable cup option, and I don’t see myself every fulling converting to cloth pads. But towards the end of my cycle, I like a little break and I’ve been using disposable liners. So obviously Mama Cloth is the better option. Meg’s pads come in a variety of thicknesses, including super thin liners, although the one I have isn’t thin, it’s so comfortable that I have no problem using it as a liner.
Thanks again, Meg, for letting me test out this pad, looking forward to ordering some more!
May 142015
 
wheelDo you get out of your comfort zone, regularly, or do you tend to do the same things over and over that come naturally easy? Is trying something new terrifying or exhilarating?
Growing up, I was good at a lot of things. I excelled in arts as well as sports. Things came naturally to me and if I couldn’t do them well, I just didn’t do them. It became stupid or un-useful. Math was one of these things, but that’s a post for another time.

What has changed so much for me these days,is that when I realize I can’t do something, it becomes this amazing opportunity to keep trying until I can. Because, quite frankly, I KNOW that I can do anything that I want to do. And so can you.
The perfect examples for me, happen in yoga class these days. I’ve been pushing myself to do “harder” yoga classes, like hot yoga and yoga flows. There’s a really great Detox class I do at Happy Tree on Thursday nights. My new realization that yoga can actually be FUN and ENJOYABLE, started just over a month ago when I attended my first hot yoga class in years. I had broken up with hot yoga, after a love affair/codependent relationship with Moksha about 5 years ago. I was addicted to Moksha, seriously, and like cigarettes, quit when I found out I was pregnant with Babe (yes, I used to light up a smoke after leaving my hot yoga class!) But last month, a friend invited me to a hot yoga class and because it was bloody snowing in mid-april, I accepted.
I knew it was going to be challenging. I knew I’d sweat. But I didn’t know I’d laugh. I was able to be in the class with a childlike curiosity. Feeling all the new things my body had never done before. Poses I tend to avoid like Dancer and Half Moon and side plank.
I took the suggested additions to the poses most of the time to see just how far I could go. The intention I’d set at the beginning of the class was Strength and Vitality (or I am strong and energetic). I kept coming back to that and trying the crazy things. Sometimes I fell out of the postures and it was hilarious. I don’t know if the teacher misinterpreted my laughter or if she “got” my bliss.
The best moment was toward the end of class. The teacher, Sonya brought us into a supported back bend. Then a bridge. And then the option of bridge again or coming into wheel. And I did it. I was scared but I just did it.
I don’t think I’d done wheel since I was a five year old gymnast. Exhilarating.
Since Sonya’s hot yoga class that broke the ice, I’ve regularly been going to these challenging classes. I’ve been pushing to my max, knowing the worst thing that can happen is I fall. And I do fall. And then I laugh and get back up. Did you know it’s okay to laugh in a yoga class?! The other day I got myself all wound up into Bird of Paradise!
Whether you actually do yoga or not, it’s not the point of this post. The take away: We are capable of doing absolutely anything we can conjure up. The universe is infinite and so are our possibilities. Since realizing this, my life is changing drastically. Life, to me, is as exiting as it is to my four year old.
May we all live with the curiousity and joie de vivre that our kids do!
Namaste.
May 112015
 
Our SM collection

Our SM collection

Four-year-old Babe is a lover of the arts. While she seems to detest jazz these days (Papa is a jazz musician and we think she might be rebelling), she just adores classical music (calls it ballet music) and of course, she loves books.

So Sleep Softly: Classical Lullabies by Brahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy, was not a tough sell. This gorgeous new title from The Secret Mountain, is beautifully illustrated (Elodie Nouhen) and chock full of facts about the 16 featured tracks including Offenbach’s Barcarolle, La Poupee by Georges Bizet and Gute nacht by Shubert. The book is honestly not something that at the age of 4, Babe is going to sit there and read with us. She liked the pictures very much–full of imagination and in a style she hasn’t really ever seen before! The text of the book is, however, very much of interest to her music geek of a dad, and something we happily store up on a shelf for when the kids get older. It is an amazing educational tool. The CD itself, pieces performed by performances by L’Ensemble Agora is in high rotation on our kitchen stereo. Our neighbours often hear UpTown Funk and Moves Like Jagger in our morning dance parties, but we very often need to take it down a million notches, and Sleep Softly is the perfect album for just that. I often put it on during bath time, which is right before the kids settle in to bed to sleep softly.

We received this beautiful book along with another Secret Mountain publication, Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over. This CD and book combo, is a bedtime story of a sister and brother who take a magical voyage. Very relatable for my kiddos! The story and songs are by Vancouver singer-songwriter Hilary Grist who also partially did the whimsical 3D clay character art which illustrates the story. She worked very closely with her husband, Mike Southworth  who played bass, guitars, percussion, background vocals and recorded, mixed and produced the CD. This book and CD is a family favourite at our house at the moment. Hilary’s singing and speaking voice (she narrates the story) are so soothing, I have a hard time not nodding off as we turn the pages. It is so completely beautiful and something I would recommend again and again for a baby shower gift.

When reading these books, I quickly did some detective work. They were reminiscent of other books we already had at home. Un tresor dans mon jardin and Un dimanche a kyoto. Sure enough, these CD books that we love so much, also come from The Secret Mountain, which published in Paris and Montreal. Gilles Vigneault is responsible for the stories in both of these books and you’ll find the voices of familiar artists like Ariane Moffat, Pierre Lapointe and Lynda Lemay. These books have the same stellar quality as the two aforementioned. Looking on the site, I just discovered that  Martha Wainwright, is on the A Gift for Sophie one, so I’m going to have to get my hands on it!

Being a bilingual household, it is very important that our kids have equal access to books and music in both of Canada’s official languages. Un dimanche a kyoto is something we had borrowed from a friend and I think we might have worn the CD down. Papa used it to rock Babe to sleep every night for the first half of her life. If the English version is what you’re looking for, you should know that Patrick Watson sings on A Sunday in Kyoto!

I genuinely hope I’ve peaked your interest in these beautiful books. Maybe you’ve already got some Secret Mountain stuff on your shelf, and like me, you just didn’t know it. If you’d like to win a prize pack of all four of these books, enter the copter below. Canada only.

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May 072015
 

kale1 This recipe came together when there was still snow on the ground and we were desperate for summer. I bought loads of kale and asked friends on Facebook what they’d use it for. One woman, Rowan, suggested kale, parsley and cabbage salad. So thus is what I came up with. I’d have added lemon juice and green onions if I had them. As with all my recipes, please use them to guide your creativity!

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale

1 bunch parsley
3 carrots grated or spiralized
1 beat, grated
2 inches ginger peeled, grated
1 avocado, chopped
1 or 2 cups chickpeas
Handful each of raw cashews, pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup Chia seeds
Olive oil
Sea salt
kale2Wash and dry kale and parsley
Break or cut kale into bite sized pieces, removing the spine
Massage kale with salt and oil
Add the finely chopped parsley and mix well
Add all other ingredients and toss
You could also use the ingredients as an opportunity for people to decorate their own salad. All the good stuff tends to sink to the bottom so you can dish out the greens and let the other guys do the work of adding toppings
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

 

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