Jenn

Nov 262014
 

I can’t count the amount of times a friend or acquaintance has said, “It’s super easy!” So I try it and while the process itself IS easy, it takes sooo long. You can relate?

Cloth diapering
Homemade bone broth
Homemade yogurt
Bread
Hummus
Granola
Play dough
Everythingalwaysfromscratch

milk1

apparently Babe prefers cow or mama milk

I do all these things. My time is precious and limited but I’ve found time for one more DIYer. As my friend Niki said, homemade nutmilk IS super easy. This time it’s super quick, too! She came over and showed me how to do it and now I do it every few days.

Recently, Bug and I have eliminated gluten and dairy from our diets. I thought it would be hard. I tried removing dairy before and had failed. I was addicted. I didn’t want to stop. I wouldn’t do it for myself (just like when I was a smoker!) But I quit smoking for Babe without a second thought and I quit dairy for Bug in the same easy manner.

Almond and coconut milk can be expensive, especially when you’re buying organic, non-gmo and sans carrageenan (it can even be tricky to find good almond milk).

Niki's Nutmilk

Niki’s Nutmilk

So… If I’ve motivated you, here’s how to make nutmilk à la Niki. It really really is easy and really really doesn’t take long!

- Soak a cup of almonds or shredded coconut in (preferably filtered) water.

Sometimes I do it overnight, sometimes I do it for a little while. It depends on how quickly I need the milk.

- Rinse the nuts /shreds
- Put them in food processor
- Add 2 cups warm (preferably filtered) water
- Grind
- Pour into cheese cloth or a Nut Milk Bag. You can do this over a canning funnel. I do it in a strainer over a big bowl
- Squeeze out all the milk
Repeat to get all the goodness into your milk
- Pour milk into a jar and refrigerate
- Consume at your leisure

milk4You are left with shredded coconut to add to whatever you want. You can toast it and add it to granola or bake with it. You can also dehydrate it in the oven or with an Excalibur (which I have and love. The Paraflexx sheets are crucial) and make coconut flour–waste not, want not! Coconut flour is super expensive and it’s a great thing to have in a gluten-free kitchen (or a regular old kitchen!)

Almond pulp can be used in flour-free baking as is (almond meal) or you can grind it a little finer. I don’t have one of those fancy Blendtecs yet, so, I use a coffee grinder! Help me! You could also throw the ground up pieces back into the food processor to make almond butter. It’s incredibly economical.

Now that I know how to do this, I just can’t go back to buying nut milk. I’ll find the time for all this stuff, dammit!

This post may contain affiliate links for products mamanaturale has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and mamanaturale will automatically receive a small referral fee, helping to support this blog. Thank you!

 

Nov 242014
 
espace pour la vie Vertiges

espace pour la vie Vertiges

Woah. Dude.

Papa and I went to the Montreal Planetarium the other night. Date night for the first time in forever.
It’s no secret that my family goes to Espace pour la vie’s events quite regularly. But we’d never been to the Planetarium.
The reason is that we usually don’t do much without the kids, and the Planitarium is best for kids seven and up. I really think it’s important to make the time for couples to keep dating even after kids and marriage. Plus, I really wanted to check out the new shows. So we got a babysitter and made a night of it.
The two complementary shows, Vertiges and Tempo, “examine our perception of time.” How perfect for two people who feel like they don’t have enough time to breathe, let alone have a regular date night.
Vertiges, the first of the two shows, was a full-on sensory experience. I hadn’t had such a crazy they’re experience since seeing the Dark Side of Oz at Bloor Cinema!
We entered the Chaos Theatre and sunk into fluffy beanbags in the centre of the room. It was so cozy that this tired mama had to fight sleep! The video screen is a complete dome that gave me the feeling if being very, very small. Which, was kind of the point. Vertiges explored physics, tine travel, how time is so intertwined with technology now. At times I felt nauseous. Other times scared, confused, disturbed, humbled…
espace pour la vie Guillaume Poulin

espace pour la vie Guillaume Poulin

The second show, Tempo, in a the Milky Way Theatre, touched on the same themes but in a very different way. There was more of a lightness to the second show, which was brought into real time, right in the heart of Place des Armes. It was educational, the astronomer host walking us through a lesson. I learned stuff I never retained in high school and truthfully have a hard time with even after the refresher. While Tempo didn’t trip me out quite the way Vertiges did, it left me with a longing feeling. I want to go back to the times where there was no light pollution and we could get lost in the beauty of the night stars. I want to go back 1,000 years ago. Or maybe we just need a trip to the country.

starsThe delay between the two shows left us rushing out to a restaurant. So we didn’t get to peek around at the extra exhibits that looked very interesting. We settled on an Indian resto close to home. I had Mulagatawny soup for the first time in my life and I swear I could live on it!
The Planetarium shows inspired lots of conversation over dinner. But mostly we talked shop. Work, projects, where Babe will go to school. We certainly need to tins the time to go out again soon. I’m thankful that Espace pour la vie gave us an excuse.
We both agreed it’s something we just have to make time for. Vertiges and Tempo are running until May 31.
If you’d like the opportunity to check out these shows at Montreal’s Planetarium, please enter the Rafflecopter below.

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Nov 202014
 

salt3It’s starting to feel like Christmas!

There’s snow on the ground and I’ve started buying gifts. The trees not yet up but I’m hoping to change that this afternoon.

Today we went to my friend Cristina‘s and made salt clay Christmas ornaments.

Doing crafts with the kids is something I absolutely love. Let me rephrase: I love when my kids have an opportunity to do crafts. These days I find it very frustrating. Babe is a craft superstar. But Bug, who’s not yet two wants to do all the things and usually ends up making a phenomenal mess and it ends with someone crying. Papa mans the craft fort at home.

Craft time at Cristina’s is super fun. We followed her Salt Clay recipe (suuuper simple yet I somehow managed to flub our first batch). We ate a phenomenal lunch while the ornaments baked and cooled. Then we got to painting.

salt salt1 salt2The ornaments have to bake for ages and the kids were so excited to paint. Kind of like waiting for Christmas morning to open our stockings!

I was impressed with Bug who squeezed Babe off of her chair and got right up to the table to paint.

We’re hoping to do another Christmas craft with Cristina’s family next week. Have any ideas?

Magic Cabin

Nov 162014
 

delishmasA year and a half ago, I was a bit of a mess. I was at the height of my PPD/anxiety. I was scared to leave the house with my two kids. I didn’t drive (I had my license but was terrified to get behind the wheel). I was dependent on a lot of people.

So a day like today felt like a triumph! I loaded up both kids into the car. I drove us to AppleCheeks HQ where I got to visit some friendly faces. And of course I bought a few diapers. (A little slow on Boo!, but let’s be honest, Bug will likely still be on diapers next Halloween!)
From AC, the kids and I went grocery shopping. Something I always found daunting solo, never mind with a toddler and a preschooler. They bickered, as they do, something that has a tendency to stress me out. But not today. I was that mom. The smiling, patient, cheerful mom. A triumph. Look how very far I’ve come, I thought to myself.
Babe and Bug sat in the grocery cart and ate DELICIOUS Christmas oranges. In my purse, I had my newly acquired Delishmas. What a glorious moment.
lineupWe got home and no one wanted lunch (too many oranges) and no one wanted to nap. I stopped being the calm and collected mom I was at the grocery store. Just for a moment. But we all regrouped and made some homemade playdough.
With a light and happy heart today,  I and wanted to pass along a Delishmas to a lucky mamanaturale reader, courtesy of Amy and Ilana.
To enter the Delishmas giveaway, please leave a comment on this post about a personal parenting triumph. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, just a moment in time when you felt, “Hey, I’ve got this.”
Good luck!

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Nov 142014
 
Building community

Building community

Caffè della Pace: Peace Cafe. How beautiful does that sound?

A space in Montreal that will provide prenatal classes, breastfeeding support, community, a warm place where women from all over can find friendship.

This is the dream of Rivka Cymbalist, my friend, and the doula who attended Bug’s birth and helped me with so much healing.

Since moving to Montreal, 16 years ago, Rivka has witnessed over 400 births and facilitated free doula services for several hundred more through her organization Montreal Birth Companions. Now she’s onto another chapter, Peace Café.

“This has been my back-burner dream for almost 10 years,” she said. “Up until last February, my dream was to get my CPM certification, but then I got it (yay!!) and now I am focused on this huge and wonderful project, Caffè della Pace.”

Rivka said she speaks to many women, from so many different walks of life, all of whom have different needs. “Everyone is looking for a place they can come to and feel comfortable,” she said. “One woman needs a place she can get away from her kids and sit without interruption; one woman needs a place she can come and see other mothers; another needs a place she can have a postpartum group and learn ‘something interesting’.”

The cafe will also be home base for MBC, the doulas currently rent spaces all over the city.

If you’d like to help MBC find a place it can call home, Rivka has launched a fundraising campaign. More details can be found here.

 

Nov 112014
 

261653 ML Algebra1 2007I wasn’t so sure when I saw the title of the book, “Sweet Sleep.”

Great. Another book about sleep by “experts,” I thought. Many of the books published these days tend to be variations of Ferber and Cry it Out. You know the advice that goes something like, “be sure to put towels down in your child’s crib because he’ll cry so hard he’ll vomit…” After almost four years of being a mom, I don’t need to read any more of that crap. No one does. I am confident that I’m the expert when it comes to my kids.
But then I realized Sweet Sleep was a La Leche League book. Forward by Mayim Bialik! One of the writers is Teresa Pitman?! Maybe there was something to be learned. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on what I was sure would finally be a great book about sleep! And oh, it is fabulous!
Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime strategies for the breastfeeding family, validates many of the decisions Papa and I have made as parents. Which feels great. There are real experts out there, that I respect, telling us everything we thought about sleep, nighttime parenting, all-night nursing etc. is okay. It’s more than okay. We’ve even done right by our kids! Thank you, Sweet Sleep.
This book shows parents safe ways to cosleep and bedshare. Because, let’s be honest–breastfeeding and bedsharing go so perfectly together. The book sets parents up with practical tips for making their rooms night-feeding friendly. Nightlight, water, diapers! There are even photos in this book of mamas nursing in bed! Here, moms! This is how to nurse side lying. Not only is this not dangerous, it’s beneficial! There is also plenty of info on sidecars– a nice compromise to bed sharing, or a way to extend the family bed.
I especially love the gentle way the book talks about the dangers of sleep training. It doesn’t shame the parent who’s experimented with these techniques but it clearly outlines the stress this causes to baby. A refreshing read for an attached parent trapped under a library of books that encourage CIO.
Sweet Sleep is something I would give as a Christmas or baby shower gift. I’d have loved a copy when Bug was about to join our family. And definitely before Babe was here. We’d have been a little less terrified to dive into all the things that felt natural to us. You can purchase Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family on Amazon.ca.
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If you’d like to win this book for yourself or a parent friend, enter the Rafflecopter below.
Posts may contain affiliate links for products mamanaturale has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and mamanaturale will automatically receive a small referral fee, helping to support this blog. Thank you!
Nov 072014
 
2014-09-01 11.13.50This boy, a few months from being two is just about as awesome as it gets. He’s hilarious and so smart. He loves dancing and sings mantras with me. He is my little love bug.
There’s nothing wrong with this kid. So there’s gotta be something, right?
A while back, we noticed something was weird with his top four teeth. They looked… Delicate. Doctor sent us to a dentist. Dentist sent us to a naturopath. At the end of this month, we’re having his teeth extracted. Holy crap, right?
He was about a year old the first time we took him in to see the dentist, who told us his teeth were decalcifying. We brushed like maniacs, which was the advice, but we also implemented most of the advice in Cure Tooth Decay: Remineralize Cavities and Repair Your Teeth Naturally with Good Food.
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We pumped him with Fermented Cod Liver Oil and bone broth, as well as Dental Essentials and MI paste every night. We mostly eliminated grains and pulses, worried about the phytic acid. What grains he did get were cooked in nutrient-rich homemade bone broth, which is perpetually boiling. Even as I write this.
His teeth continued to crumble–almost disintegrate– in front of our eyes. They are brown and two are painfully worn to the gums. I did my best but here we are, pulling four of his teeth out five months before his second birthday.
Believe it or not, when the paediatric dentist suggested we pull them, I was relieved. The only other option I could think of was capping the teeth, under general anesthetic. I went through this exact thing when I was three. They told my mom I had nursing bottle decay.
GA scares me, especially with such a young little guy. Pulling instead of capping means we can skip it and the risks. Luckily, he’ll be awake, strapped to a papoose board and I’ll be allowed in the room. It promises to be the longest 10 minutes of my life. Except maybe for the time we had his lip and tongue tie revised. I wasn’t allowed in the room and poor bug was just a few weeks old.
Believe it or not, not every detail of my personal or family life is up online for the world to see. I choose what I write. I published this post, like all other posts, to share my experience in hopes of helping someone out.
I don’t know why this happened to Bug’s teeth. I know it’s not because he drinks juice or eats candy (he doesn’t). I know it’s not because he nurses to sleep and through the night (he does). Dentists will continue to blame breastfeeding on decay. It doesn’t make a lick of sense. Breastmilk does not cause healthy teeth to decay.
We’re working with a naturopath at the moment. Bug’s been tested for food allergies and intolerances and mineral absorption. He has high levels of heavy metals in his body. I don’t know how all the pieces fit. We’re working to detox this little Bug and get things on track. I’ll keep you posted, not because I like my whole life on the Internet, but because if my experiences can help just one family then it’s all worth it.
Posts may contain affiliate links for products mamanaturale has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and mamanaturale will automatically receive a small referral fee, helping to support this blog. Thank you!
Nov 042014
 

bread3I have two sisters. There are 15 years between them, and coming from a blended family, we rarely all lived together at the same time. I actually don’t even know if they ever lived together. As the middle child, I lived with both of them and have some fond and some not so fond memories of those times (sorry girls!)

The fondest memories: camping, swimming, dance routines and above all–homemade pizza night! I feel like it was a weekly tradition for as long as I can remember. My dad, a phenomenal cook and baker, would make homemade pizza dough. He’d get together all the pizza ingredients one could imagine, separating them into bowls. Then we’d each get to decorate our own personal pizzas.
breadbread2My kids are still quite young, and don’t always have the longest attention spans, but seeing as the people at FlatOut sent us a mega box of flat bread and pizza crusts, I thought it would be a good time to bring this tradition to my family.
We hadn’t planned this on grocery day but luckily had plenty or ingredients on hand.
- Grated mozzarella
- Bacon
- Spinach
- Broccoli
- Orange and yellow peppers
- Sausage
- Leeks
- Salsa! (We didn’t have tomato sauce on hand so Papa thought this could be an interesting sub, and he was right)
pizzaI baked the sausages and bacon,  sautéed all the veggies and steamed the spinach in bone broth.
Babe loves doing everything by herself these days, so this meal was right up her alley. She wasn’t very thoughtful about her ingredient choices, she mostly just took handfuls of everything and dumped them  on her pizza. We tried getting 1.5 year old Bug to participate, but it got messy fast! Bug’s contribution was to watch the oven. Closely.
We left the oven on at 350 (from cooking the meat) and threw our decorated pizzas in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese, broiling it  in the last moments.
Papa and I made our pizzas from the FlatOut Spicy Italian Artisan Thin Pizza Crust which was deliciously spicy. I love spice, and the chilli flakes on the bread was enough for me. Papa, on the other hand, added some Frank’s! “I didn’t need to do that,” he admitted. The crust stayed together despite our mountain of toppings. It came out of the oven crispy.
Bug has dietary restrictions and as usual, his pizza came in the form of toppings on his highchair tray. Babe had the Rosemary & Olive Oil bread. We put oil on her bread instead of salsa. She was a sausage monster and picked everyone’s sausage of their pizzas. She enjoyed her pizza but at one point said, “Mama, this isn’t pizza, it’s a wrap!” We all laughed pretty hard.
FlatOut is generously giving away 5 Prize Packs which include about 10 different products. Don’t worry, they freeze well! Enter the Rafflecopter below! Good Luck :)

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Oct 282014
 

The first thing I thought when we arrived at Exporail: Why on Earth aren’t there more people here?

train 4 Visiting the country’s biggest railway museum was a huge hit. We spent four hours at the museum and our entire family had a wonderful time.

We were lucky enough to stumble upon this gem right before Halloween, which meant this whole museum was decorated with spiderwebs, skeletons and vampires. The kids dug it!

The first thing we did after getting our passes, while we still had our coats on, was head back outside to take the coolest traintrain2train ride ever! It was a complete surprise that we’d be able to ride on the mini train. But there we were, riding in the open air  through the forest, Papa and I had a kid nestled in each of our laps. Babe left the ride, deciding her ambition in life was to buy a train.
We moved on to make a train mask craft. I made Bug’s for him while the boys explored some more and Babe happily did hers all by herself. By the time we were done, we lost the boys. Babe and I found the activity room in a train. There were costumes, a giant felt board and some games. We spent a while there but didn’t want to have too much fun before we found Papa and Bug. When we caught up to them, they were in the Model Train room. Kept up by volunteers, this room with wall to wall tracks and scenery delighted every child and adult that came in.
train3Poor Bug, true to his sweet self, cried every time the little train he was watching disappeared through a tunnel. He’d systematically yell “nooo” when it disappeared and squeal with delight when it came through the other side. He could have spent the entire morning just pushing the button and watching Thomas the Train do his thing.
Each train was its own experience–a surprise up every little flight of stairs.  I’m not even sure who had the most fun at Exporail– Papa was clearly reliving his childhood!
I can’t recommend this place enough. They were gracious to let us in on a guest pass this time but we will certainly be back! For more details, rates and fares, see Exporail.org.
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Oct 232014
 

Today was our third annual trip to The Great Pumpkin Ball. Much like the lanterns, the older she gets, the more Babe appreciates the pumpkins. We first took her when she was Bug’s age and Bug was in utero.

One of the greatest things about visiting the Botanical Gardens around Halloween is the outdoor activities. Babe is old enough to go completely crazy in there without us worrying about her too much. She loved the “Rattle me bones obstacle course,” and the “tricky river.”

a5Bug, on the other hand, has a few things working against him. He’s generally a little wobbly, so throw him onto the suspension bridge and he’s sure to take some tumbles. Like any younger sibling, Bug wants to do every single thing. Babe does. The good, the bad and the impossible. In a way it’s great because he is continuously challenged but it also leads to its share of frustrations. His favourite activity was “Feed the creatures,” a beanbag toss. He spent a while collecting the bags and popping them in the monsters’ mouths.

The most fun I think they both had outside was in the maze. Bug missed out on it last year. He was six months old, stuffed inside a baby wearing jacket. Today, like most days, Bug chased his sister through the maze. We played “cachette” as a family.

a6Inside the gardens, we spent lots of time scoping out the beautifully decorated pumpkins. Babe decorated her own at Communidee this week, so she could appreciate the hard work it took to create these masterpieces.

Her favourites: anything that was pink and purple or princess related. A few of them, she was convinced, were “her.” Many of this year’s pumpkin entires were inspired by Frozen.

As much as she loves Frozen and all things pink and purple, Babe is dressing as a lion this Halloween. This makes a mom very happy. She proudly announced her costume choice when Esmerelda the Witch asked the kids what they planned to be for Halloween.

a1The show, put on by Esmeralda was easily this year’s highlight for Babe. The very talented actress entertained hoards of kids, barely coming up for air. She was on the ball and answered all the silly questions thrown her way. She was even able to answer the Anglo kids in English which they really appreciated.

Our visit with Esmerelda was the last thing we did. Bug had long since passed out in the carrier and Babe was due for a nap. She was broken hearted when we had to leave her new best friend, so the sweet witch made Babe’s day with a great big hug.

Just like the lanterns, returning to The Great Pumpkin Ball every year allows us to clearly see just how much the kids are growing up.

For your chance to win tickets which can be used until Halloween, enter the copter below.

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