Jenn

Feb 022015
 

museum1I grew up in Ottawa and have been to most of the city’s wonderful museums. Some more than once. My fondest school trip memories are of the Science and Technology museum. The crooked kitchen and hatching chicks! I’m hoping it reopens one day soon.

I also always loved the Museum of Nature (aka the Dinosaur Museum) but visiting museums with your own children is a very different experience, isn’t it?

We went to visit Mamie and Grandpapa and they were very happy to come to the Nature Museum with us.

Highlights for Babe were the live insects (we could have watched the ants for hours) and in the geology section where she “made” just about every type of volcano out there. Bug also loved the bug section, particularly the cockroaches (eek!) The dinosaurs were definitely way up there on the charts.

What I didn’t like, is something I don’t remember having at the Museum of Nature– computers! I’m not exactly a technophobe but there’s a time and place. I feel there are too many computers at this museum–specifically in the dinosaur section. Babe, who’s almost four and can’t read, just wanted to play with the dozens of touch screens that were every few steps. On these particular machines, there isn’t much learning to be done for a toddler or preschooler. A lot of time was wasted trying to keep the kids moving along. By the time we got away from the computers there were movie screens. We sat to watch a video of giant aunts eating a baby bird who never even made it out of his shell. Babe has talked about the scene everyday ever since. It was a little too intense for her and also for me! I don’t know what Bug thought.

museumPapa and I were pretty refreshed when we entered the bird area, where there were games that require physically manipulating pieces rather than touching screens.

The absolute best was the bird hospital. The kids dressed in white vet gowns and played for ages. Babe used a stethoscope to listen to the birds’ hearts. Bug wanted to carry all the birds in his arms. Both were intrigued by the X-rays.

The Nature Museum is so huge that if your kids are still of napping age, you’d have to strategically plan your visit. We missed a lot of things I’d have loved for them to see, including the current exhibit, Arctic Voices.

Animal Inside Out, is something I would love to see. Created by the same people who made Body Worlds, the show gives you a peek inside the bodies of animals. It débuts May 1, 2015, and runs until September 20.

For your chance to visit the Museum of Nature, enter the copter below!

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Jan 302015
 
Play It Again, Dick

Play It Again, Dick

Déjà vu. Most of us experience it from time to time–the sensory flash of the familiar. Sometimes good, sometimes not. Smells that rewind our lives by 10 years. Songs that magically transport us to another place, another time. Sometimes we can place the familiarity, other times it’s not so easy. I live in dis-ease until I sort out my déjà-vu and this recent one nearly made me go crazy.

I was experiencing déjà vu as a stumbled upon the Veronica Mars web spin off, Play it Again, Dick. I wasn’t a Veronica Mars fan–as in I had never seen it–but being the mom of a four-year-old obsessed with a Queen Elsa, I found myself Googling Kristen Bell. This led me to the series with a name I didn’t understand. But I watched it anyway. I liked it. But I still don’t understand the name.

There are less than 10 episodes of this show and they’re not very long– about 10 minutes each. It fit quite nicely into my schedule. I’d watch an episode from time to time when I wanted a little breather. I hate to admit Babe might have seen one or two episodes. Super not for preschoolers. There’s swearing. Kristen Bell is not dressed as Elsa.

Each time I watched an episode, I found myself having these flashes of my days as a treeplanter. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. The experiences I had in Northern BC for two years of my life ranged from exhilarating to exhausting, deeply fulfilling to totally depressing. This show had nothing to do with treeplanting but the opening credits led me there every time.

In episode 105 or 106 (actually 5 or 6) there was a funeral scene and at the funeral, a guy in a black tank top I had seen somewhere before… It bugged me. I think he was actually in back to back episodes. More déjà vu. Though he wasn’t ever in the shot for long, I managed to sort it out– he was the biker from the opening credits. Yes, that was it.

It was and it wasn’t. I knew this man very well. From a dream? A past life? I rewound the video and played it again. Pause. Rewind. Play again.

The guy in the tank top was Bob. Bob Dearden. The big boss at the treeplanting camp I used to work for.

It was Bob, who made some of the really hard days in camp less hard. Not because he was particularly nice, but my God he was funny. I personally looked forward to meetings that were held by Bob, because as we sat there getting pep talks I was laughing inside. His sarcastic humour was just what we all needed (and he was pretty easy on the eyes). He did trivia with us every Friday and the prizes were chocolate bars. Once I won a Mr. Big. It was at one of these meetings that I learned Michael Jackson had died. Bob delivered the news.

I don’t remember the rest of the funeral episode. My eyes glazed over as I was lost in a very pleasant nostalgia. I’d lost track of Bob and most of my planting friends, moving to Montreal and settling down. I didn’t know that Bob had moved to the states to get his Masters in Fine Arts or that he interned on the set of the Veronica Mars movie site.

Once, Bob let me ride a quad on a very bumpy terrain. You needed enough momentum to get the four wheeler up the dips and over the little creeks. This girl, who couldn’t even drive a car, accepted the quad riding challenge and ended up in a creek pinned down by the machine. I thought he’d be mad, and I was very embarrassed, but Bob patiently helped my mud-covered self up. By some miracle I didn’t die.

I took a good look at the credits to be sure my eyes weren’t tricking me. I didn’t see his name as an extra but in the credits as a writer. Alongside Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas. I was impressed, but not exactly surprised. Bob had a way with words and is now sharing his talent with an audience greater than a group of dirty hippies.

I watched the rest of the series with a different lens and then watched the whole thing again. That same humour Bob brought to our planting camp is littered throughout Play it Again, Dick. A show I might not have cared about if that thing, that nostalgic déjà view didn’t hook me in. As I said, I’m not a “Marshmallow.” But I can only assume Mars fans were drawn into Play it Again for similar feelings. The nostalgia of their favourite characters. And the humour. You don’t need to have lived in a bush camp with the writers of this show to laugh out loud.

The déjà view was indeed partly the short shot of Bob in the opening, but then I consciously noticed the big white dog that Dick is cuddling with in the opening. That’s Gervin, Bob’s dog. She was a puppy when I knew her, and she brought just as much light as Bob to our treeplanting camp. Maybe even more.

In continuing to research, I was interested to find out that Bob has written for the upcoming TV show iZombie. I hate zombie stuff but rumour has it Bob has also written a show about treeplanting. I’d watch that. Bob, if this post ever makes it to you, just make sure someone adorable plays me in your treeplanting show. I was once told I look like Veronica Mars. Maybe you could rope her into playing the role. Just be sure to give her dreadlocks and a bunch of tattoos. Casting 101, son.

 Posted by at 2:10 am
Jan 262015
 

Image-front-cover_coverbookpageThe white book with the cute naked baby on the cover, sat on my shelf for a long time. It sat there and got covered by other books because conceiving babies was just about the last thing on my mind. For the record, Bug is 21 months old and I still don’t have my period. No babies will be born here anytime soon.

But hypothetically, if I wanted to get my period back and focus on cleansing my body and caring for myself, in order to one day have another child, Conceiving Healthy Babies: An Herbal Guide to Support Preconception, Pregnancy and Lactation, could be the book to count on.

Recently, something compelled me to open this neglected book, recently. And I discovered it was about so much more than “just” conception/infertility. The book is a private account of the author’s fertility struggles as well as birth and breastfeeding stories.

So much of the book resonates with me. I love that she includes info about essential oils and FCLO! She knows a thing or two about WAPF, which is pretty much how we roll these days.

I am very interested in herbs, generally speaking. For example, I drink raspberry leaf and nettle tea. But I admittedly know very little about the amazing healing properties of herbs.

At first glance, the sheer amount of info in this book is intimidating but Dawn Combs has laid everything out with an easy to follow legend.

This book is a great resource for any doula, IBCLC or therapist. It’s a book for anyone who had an interest in natural health. An essential item on the shelf of any self-proclaimed crunchy mama.

This book is no longer on the bottom of a pile, but nicely stacked beside the rest of my favourites. You can find the paperback or Kindle version here on Amazon.

If you’d like to win a copy, enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jan 212015
 
Bug loved the wood stove

Bug loved the wood stove

The Campbell River Museum is a must-visit with kids. The human history museum is rated as one of the top 10 Museums in Canada in Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s 2014 Choice Awards, right up there with some of our favourite museums, including Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Canadian Children’s Museum.

When we entered the museum, we were given a map of the large museum which included all the interactive things for kids to do. They were simple things, like “ring the train bell,” and “try on the wooden slippers,” but there were enough of these little activities to get the kids through an info-rich museum without being bored.
Bug amused himself with the pretend wood stove and liked the Salmon Industry and Logging exhibits. We were lucky enough to visit on the last day of the Christmas Trees were up. Obviously the Lego tree was our #1.
Babe was all about the Native exhibits. After quickly peeking at the trees, the first thing we saw was the mask of Kin-Xlee changing into his human form by Bill Henderson. We never figured out if the transforming mask was on a timer or motion-activated, but the kids got a kick out of it. Bug stood pointing and exclaiming, “cuckoo!”
camp5We moved a dark theatre with the most amazing carved masks and large carvings of a whales. It was the narrated adventures the ancestor Siwidi who journeyed to the Undersea World and encountered a host of supernatural creatures. Babe called him “Seaweedy,” and we stayed twice for the presentation. Sometimes these masks can be a bit ambiguous, but there was a drawing of each mask– each character in the Siwidy story, along with an explanation, so we could easily identify who was who.
camp3At the end of the museum, there is a small movie theatre with three movie options, one, the animated Story of Big Rock, the Campbell River landmark, which we all loved. I regret not buying a copy in the gift shop. We left very quickly, on the brink of a naptime meltdown.
The Campbell River Museum waived our entry fees but I was not financially compensated for writing this post.
The museum is located at 470 Island Highway at 5th Avenue Campbell River, BC. Visit crmuseum.ca for more details.
Jan 192015
 

milkWe’ve altogether stopped buying dairy. Babe and Papa consume it from time to time but it’s not on the grocery list. We do still eat cereal and I NEED milk for coffee, so aside from making mama milk, I’m also a coconut and almond milk making machine!

Learning how to make nutmilk from Niki was a great starting point but since then, a couple things have drastically ameliorated my milk production.
- I started using boiled water for my coconut milk
- I started soaking my almonds overnight with salt
- I got a Blendtec
- I got a nutmilk bag
All of these points made my nutmilk much better, but I’m going to talk about the last point and then give you the chance to win your own fair trade “More than a Nut Milk Bag” by Rawsome Creations.
The first awesome thing is this bag is made fair trade. Cool at that alone, but some of the proceeds go to Bumi Sehat Birthing Center, a beautiful organization run by Ibu Robin Lim, who I had the pleasure of meeting on her last trip to Montreal. I saw her at a screening of her film, Renegade Midwife, which was put on by Rivka and Montreal Birth Companions. That night was magical for me and oriented me towards my path to becoming a yoga teacher!
The Rawsome bag can be used again and again. It’s made of 100% fine mesh nylon which is sanitary, stain-resistant and easy to clean.
It’s 10×12 inches  and holds over 2.5 Quarts. The seams are serge-stitched which makes it durable and flexible.
I packed lightly on my recent trip to BC and easily took it with me. Gramps did most of the dairy free, gluten free cooking but I was in charge of the milk.
I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten to it yet (a post for another day!) but this bag can be used for much more than nutmilk. I can’t wait to use it to make sprouts– much easier than the old mason jar trick. The fine mesh minimizes sediment and allows you to sprout even the tiniest seeds and grains.
It can also be used for cheese and juice! I’d say at $10, it’s a little more cost-effective than a juicer!
I find this bag saves time and mess because I can hang the bag by the drawstring and allow gravity to do a lot of the work before giving it a final squeeze with clean hands.
I’ve tried other nylon milk bags– bigger and more rigid, and the Rawsome More Than a Nutmilk Bag is my favourite. If you’re still using cheesecloth, please do yourself a favour and get one of these bags (or three!)
Here’s your chance to win a Rawsome More Than a Nutmilk Bag. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jan 162015
 
curry1I want to preface this by saying if your mama is actually from India, her Aloo Ghobi will taste better. This is my quick version of it. My kids thought it was great! As with all of my recipes, these are guidelines. I don’t really measure exactly and feel like it takes the fun out of cooking! Enjoy your own experimentation!
Ingredients:
 1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp minced ginger, garlic mix
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric powder
Coconut oil
A cup or two of homemade bone broth (or veggie broth if you want a vegetarian meal)
1 or two potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 head chopped cauliflower
A cup of frozen peas
about a cup of squash purée
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used the stuff I had frozen from making coconut milk)
fresh coriander to garnish
curry2How to:
Fry the onions in oil
Add garlic, ginger, mustard seeds and spices
Add cauliflower and potatoes and fry for a while
Add broth, squash puree and peas
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, until potatoes are desired consistency
Top with chopped, fresh cilantro/corriander
Serve with basmati rice or eat on its own
Jan 142015
 
“The way is clear
The light is good
I have no fear
Nor no one should
The woods are just trees
The trees are just wood
No need to be afraid there…
Into the woods…”
woods1   I got dragged along in the woods a lot as a kid. I didn’t have much say in it and just plodded along, usually pretty bored. After years of resenting the woods, a grew up to absolutely love being in the forest. But I’m now very careful about making sure the kids aren’t having a totally sucky time. I try to make sure they’re warm and that we have lots of snacks. They really enjoyed Cathedral Grove.
The “Wacky Woods,” or “Funny  Forest,” a patch of trees, artist George Sawchuk used as his canvas in Fanny Bay, BC, seemed like a great way to get the kids out for fresh air while also being entertained. From the little write-ups I quickly read online before driving our there, I thought the forest walk was created for kids– silly everyday objects mounted on trees– like walking through a dreamland. But once we arrived, it clearly was not really for kids. It was not a dreamland– it was my nightmare. (Although my real reoccurring nightmare was being chased through the woods by Chucky.) The sun was shining on our visit but I started to get heart palpitations and feel very uneasy.
woods2Don’t get me wrong, the kids had a lot of fun on our walk, especially because Nana and Gramps were with us. To Babe and Bug, the books in the trees and the carved wooden fish and colourfully painted stones were cool. They were funny
And out of place in the woods. But their creator had deeper messages. Sawchuk doesn’t seem to have liked organized religion or coal mining.

I wasn’t a bit surprised to read, after visiting the forest, and wondering “what the heck?!” that George attended Catholic school during the week and Russian school on Saturdays, and “Sawchuk grew up exposed to the conflicting ideologies of Catholicism and communism with which he still struggles in his portable works and works in nature.”

woods3The forest wasn’t the wonderland I had anticipated. It was somber and depressed me. I felt tricked into being there. Kind of like when you go to a U2 music and expect to hear music instead of ranting.
When I began my (now abandoned) career as a journalist, I was into writing about politics and the environment. At first I felt I was able to change the world with what I wrote. I’m not so sure anymore.
I don’t believe the world is a bad place. I don’t think people are intrinsically evil. Yes, there are a lot of very bad things happening politically. Environmentally. In becoming a mom, Maybe I could have become more of an activist, but I’ve retreated inward. Maybe it’s the all the yoga, but I think the world is best changed right in my own city, neighbourhood, family, heart, mind.
woods4What’s my point? I guess just that I’m not used to having these kinds of realities splayed in front of me anymore. I don’t watch the news for this reason. I’m not ignorant to current events but I don’t like to sit in the sludge. I prefer to focus on the good things going on in this universe.
I wish I could have enjoyed the Funny Forest as my kids did. Broken styrofoam toilet in the woods? Hilarious. A cow skull wearing a pink hard hat?! Ha!
If you’re in the area, by all means, take the kids to this place. But I thought I’d warn you in case you, too, were expecting cotton candy.
Thank you, George Sawchuk, for leaving behind something that will delight the littles and give the older folks like myself, a bit of a shake.
           GPS co-ordinates for the Bates Road access are:
Lat. 49.49458437337555
Long. -124.81377354408948
N 49 29.675  W 124 48.826
Jan 122015
 

arI’m not exactly a fashionista. I’m mostly a SAHM and when I do work outside the home, I teach yoga, so I’m in a tank top and yoga pants most days.

That uniform wasn’t going to cut it for the holidays, so I was so happy to have received this Butterfly Nursing Shirt from Nurture-Elle. I wore this beautiful red shirt for our family Christmas photos, over to the Great Grandparents’ and even on occasions when there would be no nursing, like date night and our Satsang at Espace Shanti.
This particular shirt is fancier than pretty much anything in my closet, but the price is still low ($60) especially considering it can be worn long after your kids have weaned.
The fabric used is soft and comfortable. The tank top inside is 95% cotton, 5% spandex and the external top 90% viscose, 10% spandex. There’s a pull ribbon inside the shoulder which 3_butterfly_sleeve_with_adjustable_ribbonallows you to bring the sleeves to ¾ length. Because boob access is through the sleeves, breastfeeding is super discreet and almost unbelievable. This is the reason the shirt can be worn even when the kids aren’t around. To be honest, I often wear nursing shirts when I’m away from the kids because those items are among my nicest and newest! But this is one of the only items I have that isn’t obviously meant for breastfeeding.
I found Nurture-Elle randomly on Facebook and was especially interested in this Ontario company which just launched a Made in Canada collection, a point of pride for Ysabel, the company’s founder.

Ysabel has offered mamanaturale readers a 10% discount, using the code mamanaturale14 and a shirt or dress to one lucky winner. Enter the Rafflecopter below! Please carefully read the instructions. To enter,

1) Leave a comment on this post saying which style is your favourite (you can comment or copy and paste the link of the product, see them here: www.nurture-elle.com).

2) Visit the Nurture-Elle Facebook page and comment which style is your favourite.

For extra entries, visit THIS blog post and which style is your favourite (you can comment or copy and paste the link of the product).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jan 092015
 
craig

Craigdarroch, Canada’s Castle in Victoria, BC

I used to live in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the Grassmarket, in fact. From our rooftop terrace, there was a spectacular view of the Edinburgh Castle. As I remember this, I realize I totally took it for granted.

The crummy part about living in Scotland was the weather. And that’s really about it. I don’t know if it’s my Scottish roots, but part of my heart is still in the Grassmarket flat.
In that city, every single day after work I biked to Arthur’s seat and hiked it in preparation for the three peaks challenge. In that city, I lived a block from the Royal Mile where buskers played bagpipes. I lived with my beautiful British boyfriend in that city. Only find memories remain about Scotland and my view of the Edinburgh Castle.
View from in front of my Grassmarket flat

View from in front of my Grassmarket flat

In the years I lived in the UK, I visited lots of castles. Castles in Ireland, even! I love castles, and almost a decade later, I have a princess of my own. Her favourite castle is Elsa’s ice castle on North Mountain, but the little girl in me was way too excited to bring my daughter to visit Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. Tag line: Canada’s Castle.

Upon entering, we needed to use a machine to get the dirt off our boots. Babe realized this was serious stuff. The sign on the door said no strollers and we were glad we packed the Bobas. Not that you’d want to lug a stroller up six flights of stairs anyways!
Babe, not quite four and still a little young for this kind of thing, just couldn’t believe how many stairs there were. “But how are we going to get down?” She asked, as we kept ascending, concerned the same way she is when she sees a cat in a tree.
We got to see Christmas at the Castle, which was very impressive. Every December, staff and volunteers decorate the residence the way the Dunsmuir family would’ve had it done up. An eye-spy map kept Babe busy.
The castle, to Bug, was just a big ol’ place to run. Which is understandably frowned upon. He rode along in the Boba for most of the visit which, because he really wanted down, was shorter than we’d planned.
A personal highlight was the music room where we found a beautiful piano and what I think should be called a guitarp. Apparently it was a harp-guitar.
In the 60s and 70s, Craigdarroch was home to the Victoria Conservatory of Music. There was also the Military Hospital Era (1919-1921); the Victoria College Era (1921-1946); the Victoria School Board Office Era (1946-1968) and it all began with The Dunsmuir era (1890-1908). The castle has been a museum since 1979.
We unfortunately missed the concert scheduled for 11, kind of rushing out to let the kids run in the gardens. Babe and I recalled the scene in Princess Diaries when Mia gets yelled at in a bunch of different languages to get off the grass.
 
The lovely people at the castle waived our fees to get into the museum but I was not financially compensated for this post.
The castle is located at 1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5. See thecastle.ca for more details.