Mar 022015

dee2Admittedly, our sleep set-up isn’t what most people have. But it works very well for us and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Sometimes, when we’re out at Ikea or something, I look through all the fabrics and bedspreads, wondering what the kids will choose when they have their own rooms. Their own beds. Will they share a bed? Bunkbeds? The other day, after seeing it in a movie, Babe said she wants a car bed. She’s making no swift moves to get into a “Big Girl Bed” or a Big Girl Room, so for now, we’re trying to encourage her own space, however close by she might be to Mama and Papa!

When Papa is home, Babe and I spend some time together while he gets Bug ready for bed. Then we switch and he reads to her until she falls asleep. She is one lucky girl. Once asleep, he rolls her out of his armpit and into her crib–the crib we sidecarred in preparation for Bug’s arrival. He sleeps on “my side” of the bed, with a barrier breaking his fall. Babe has happily claimed this three-sided crib as her own. There is nothing about it that seems like it is a bed made for a baby. She has even decorated it with her favourite stickers. So she was quite happy to have her very own Baby DeeDee sheet set arrive in the mail. Recently, they sent us a brand new bed set, including a 100% cotton pillow case, fitted sheet and Sleep Quilt.

We picked the grey and greenish yellow colour (for any AppleCheeks fans, it’s pretty much the colour of Appletini, which we know is beautiful with the colour grey). The cozy quilt is 39×52 inches, larger thdeean most toddler quilts. It’s made from super soft Indian cotton, and very easy to wash and dry. No special instructions. Babe is all about pink and purple these days but we like to go a little more neutral when it comes to bedding and items that will likely be passed down to Bug. Green happens to be my favourite colour. The sheets and other awesome Baby Dee Dee products (we love the pjs) come in a variety of colours which you can check out on their site.
Baby DeeDee is giving you the chance to win this bed set (in your colour choice!) for your child. Enter in the Rafflecopter below.

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 Posted by at 12:01 am
Feb 252015

Guest post by Marie-Joe Costantine of BioFuelNet Canada

biof1We all know it; our children are the future generation that will inherit planet earth, and all the opportunities and challenges left by past generations. Our children will be the next engineers, scientists, teachers, artists, farmers, doctors, political leaders, but most importantly, they will be the new force of action towards a more sustainable way of living.

That being said, our children and grand-children will be faced with dwindling fossil fuel supplies, climate change, and a growing world population with increasing energy demands. It will become crucial that we

transition to renewable energy sources and more sustainable ways of living. This is why, it is essential that we educate our children about the need for renewable energy as well as green solutions to society’s greatest challenges.

To improve the way we live, we have to understand how our current way of living is affecting future generations. However, our future can look bright if we are informed and decide to act! This Monday was the first day of Talk Energy Week, an initiative to enhance energy awareness for both the general public and children. For this occasion, BioFuelNet Canada is explaining biofuels, including advanced biofuels, through presentations across the country and visually stimulating educational materials. You can see all the infographics here.


Feb 232015

71NoRumk4HL._SL1500_Annie Fox had my attention in the opening pages of her book, Teaching Kids to Be Good People: Progressive Parenting for the 21st Century “One of the hardest things to master, aside from parallel parking, is staying cool in the face of destructive emotions–your own or someone else’s.”

This year, I’ve concurred not only driving in downtown Montreal but parallel parking on St. Denis and St. Laurent. Yes, I’m proud. Can I stay cool in the face of every one of Babe’s freak outs and Bug’s meltdowns? No, but I’m making very good progress.
Annie goes on to talk about a Emotional Intelligence, a huge theme in this book and something Papa and I have tried to be very aware of over the last four years. Annie gives a very personal example of how she learned, at a young age, that adults are supposed to deal with emotions–repress them.
Unfortunately, too many people learn this same thing and learn the hard way as adults. Many adults don’t even have EI. Some can’t share their emotions unless they’re intoxicated. Can you think of real life examples? I can.
Annie’s book is filled with loads of anecdotes (she’s had a very interesting life and is sweet and endearing). It’s also like a workbook. She gives “Real World Assignments,” like learning, as parents, to move past bad choices and old hurts so we can teach to our children from a genuine place of knowing.
Annie, who has a Masters in Education, shows us ways to help our children develop what she calls Social Courage, “courage isn’t the absence of fear,” she writes. “Courage is the impulse and conviction to do what’s right in spite of being afraid.” She also gives us a lesson on modelling compassion, to teach kindness, as well as dozens of other beautiful morsels of wisdom and advice.
In case it’s not clear, I’m a big fan of Annie Fox’s work. This is the only grown up book of hers that I have, the other Annie books we have belong to the kids.

With the same lovely life lessons, her two Raymond and Sheila Alligator books, have talking points that parents can discus with their 4-8 year olds. The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA (The 51BJ6ENxPgL._AA346_PIkin4,BottomRight,0,-25_AA346_SH20_OU15_Girls’ Q&A Books 1) is for teens, but Babe, 4 going on 14 loves it. She had many questions about many big girl topics. Some inspired by real life, others by, for example, the movie Frozen. “Why did Elsa want her sister to go home to Arandale?” Fox’s book addresses these kinds of questions. Conflicts we all had with our girlfriends as preteens.

My inquisitive four-year-old. The book is set up in Q&A. I hear her asking, during storytime:
- Dad, what does that mean?
- Dad, is she the mean one?
- Daddy, why is she doing that?
The family favourite, however, has got to be Annie’s first book, People Are Like Lollipops.
If you’d like to know why, people are like lollipops, enter the copter below. Share a word of parental wisdom or answer why you think people are like lollipops. The winner will receive her choice of any of these books by Annie!

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Feb 182015

Guest post by Andy Alaszewski

19 months ago seems like ages

19 months ago seems like ages

As Editor of the international academic journal, Health, Risk & Society, I have recently published a series of articles which explore the paradoxical nature of childbirth. The strong narrative about women’s choice and campaigns to promote natural birth with minimal medical intervention have done little to reverse the long-term trend to birthing in high technology medical units. In the UK the home birth rate has remained relatively constant at 2.5% of births and in many areas Caesarean section rates exceed 25% of births. Mothers are more likely to choose a C-section than a home birth.

There are contrasting images of child birth, between birth as a natural process, which most women are innately capable of managing, versus one in which birth is intrinsically risky needing close supervision by medical experts. In the medicalized image, a birth can only be judged as normal and safe once it is over, risk is ever present. The medicalized image has become the dominant one.

Childbirth is a fateful moment; a lot is at stake and after it things are never the same. Childbirth has become a relatively rare event in a woman’s life. In the 19th century, many women had between five and 10 pregnancies during their lifetimes. Now women are more likely to have one or two. In the 19th century, it was not uncommon for babies even mothers to die, now it extremely rare, indeed so rare that in UK there is an investigation into each maternal death to identify its causes and take action to prevent it happening again.

The increasing safety of child birth actually contributes to anxiety about its risks. When harmful outcomes were relatively common, it was possible to treat them as accidents, random unpreventable events that no one could predict or prevent. Now such outcomes are rare events it is no longer acceptable to treat them in this way. In hindsight each event becomes predictable and it is possible to identify the preventable errors. In the case of each death; someone must be at fault, must be to blame.

Medical technology provides a security blanket against risk and blame. In the UK, even mothers who chose to birth outside direct medical supervision, for example at home or in midwive-led units, invoke medical technology to justify their decision, arguing that if anything goes wrong they have rapid access to medical facilities. Similarly, midwives operate within medically agree protocols and timetables and have to conceal their actions if they decide to set these aside to enable women to birth in their own time.

The medicalization of childbirth has become deeply embedded in cultural values. ‘Better safe than sorry’ sounds attractive but it comes with a price tag.

The harms associated with medicalized birth such as regular intrusive internal examinations or the surgery of C-sections are seen as an acceptable price to pay to manage risk. Free choice is an illusion if those exercising it have to prove that they are behaving responsibly. It requires substantial effort and courage to go against the grain of expert advice and practice.

 Posted by at 4:57 am
Feb 162015

earth3I’ve tried and loved many of a Earth Mama Angel Baby’s products. Boobie Tubes, check! Mama’s Milk Tea, love it! (I actually love all  Earth Mama Angel Baby® Teas. The herbal compresses for new moms are so refreshing and the diaper cream smells heavenly, was super effective and I even used it safely with cloth diapers.

I’m excited to recently have become an affiliate and hope to bring the company to those of you who might not have heard of it. But seriously, what crunchy mamanaturale reader hasn’t heard of EMAB?!

The company makes the type of stuff that until recently I didn’t “justify” buying for myself. I considered these beautiful things luxury items, a little too pricey for me. I did, however, buy EMAB stuff as gifts for very special friends and I luckily received my share of products as gifts as well. As I learn more about the importance of self care, I am now able to “splurge” on these goodies from time to time.
Recently, I got to pick out a few EMAB products to write about. We chose the oil and soap for Babe and Bug’s bath time and I decided to treat myself too! (As well as any other mamas who come to my place.) earthIf you smell something other than incense or curry chez moi, it’s likely the Mama Spray. I also sometimes wear it as perfume. Though the ingredients in this Aromatherapy Spray are all natural, I have to keep it out of reach and out of sight or the kids would waste it and probably get a shot in the eye. the citricy-smell certainly is uplifting. Babe has finally forgotten about it but was obsessed when it first arrived.
Although perhaps not as obsessed as she is with the shampoo. She adores foamy soaps. At the grocery store, it’s the Franklin Nature Clean foaming hand soap she whines for– not candy! She loves it so much (and I find it too expensive) that I actually gave her a bottle for Christmas! She was delighted. All the more delighted to find out her present from EMAB was a foaming shampoo.
earth2The kids take a bath most nights. Not because they’re dirty but because it keeps them happy and contained. We don’t use soap every bath and I wash their hair once or twice a week or month. Bug manages to get food in his hair from time to time and Babes dreadlocks need special attention. Lavender is a favourite smell around here and both kids love the smell of this shampoo (though washing their hair is usually a fight). I love the foam too– a light, fluffy texture. Like meringue. Mmmm.
And the oil. We got the unscented kind, which seems to be what is available in Canada (as I write this it occurred to me that I could probably add a few drops of lavender essential oils). I like to get the oil on them while their skin is still a little wet. They are generally very cooperative. A little massage brings them back to their newborn days–baby massage has always been an important routine for us.
As I mentioned, I’m an EMAB affiliate, so if you purchase something from them via a link like this:Earth Mama Angel Baby® , mamanaturale gets a little money to keep running and offering you these awesome giveaways!
If you’d like to win this care pack for yourself or a mama friend, enter the copter below!

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Feb 122015


We’re still in the thick of winter where I live, in Montreal. We’ve been devouring comfort foods like stews and roast chicken. Other comforts for my family include curries and root veggies.

While a regular dhal is pretty nutritious on its own, I decided to make a recipe which would include a few filling root veggies. My kids don’t particularly have issues eating their vegetables, but the colour of these particular veggies camouflaged nicely!



1 medium onion, chopped
1 inch of ginger, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T curry powder
1 T cumin powder
1 T turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 Sweet potato peeled and chopped
1 large can chopped organic tomatoes
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 T sustainably sourced palm oil, coconut oil or olive oil
3 cups homemade bone broth or veggie broth
2 cups red lentils, soaked and rinsed

Melt oil in a pan or pot
Add onions, carrots, sweet potato. Fry for five minutes or until onions are soft
Add spices, ginger and garlic and fry for an additional five minutes
Add can of tomatoes and 2 cups of broth
Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are cooked

dTransfer contents into Blendtec and use “soup” function in the original pot, add the remaining cup of broth. Bring to a boil, add the mix from the blender. Summer until lentils are cooked. Serve with rice or on its own.

Feb 092015

;p loYou’ve probably heard of Little Passports. I came across them on Facebook, and “liked” their page– so many of my friends already had.

I became an affiliate and Babe received her first package last week. She was stoked. We’re always receiving packages for review on this blog, but this one was actually addressed to her. We waited until Bug was asleep and she opened it. Inside was her very own suitcase and passport. Stickers, activities and a giant world map which is up on the livingroom wall. We look at the map everyday and use it to decide where we’re flying to, on our airplane made of yoga mats and blocks.
Babe received the package for 5-8 year olds and it was fun bit too advanced. They’ve just released a new subscription for 3-5 years, Early Explorers, so I’m looking forward to checking that out. And so is Babe.

Little Passports Sweet Deal: 10% Off Site-wide

To save Simply use the promo code: SWEET10 at checkout. But hurry, this sale ends February 11th.
Little Passports delivers a travel adventure right to your door every month. Choose from the Early Explorers (ages 3-5), the World Edition (ages 5-10), or the USA Edition (ages 7-12). Each subscription will have your child rushing to the mailbox each month, waiting for packages highlighting a new global destination or US state. They’ll receive letters, souvenirs, pop-out models, activities, stickers and more, plus a wall-sized map to follow their journey. Inspire a life-long interest in travel, language and world cultures with Little Passports.
Fine print: *This promotion is valid on new subscriptions only and cannot be combined with any other offers. Promotion applies only to the first month on a monthly billed plan. This promotion is not valid on personalized items. This promotion excludes shipping and taxes. Offer valid from February 9th at 8:00 AM EST through February 11th, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST.
The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.
Feb 032015

In November, we had Bug’s top four teeth pulled.

It was pretty intense. Two female dentists performed the surgery. They were gentle and compassionate and efficient. Unlike during his tongue tie revision, Papa and are were allowed in the room.
Bug was strapped to a board and he yelled from start to finish. They asked us to close the door. I’m quite sure the needle they used to give the local anesthetic pinched him. I don’t know what kind of physical pain he felt. But Bug is a big, strong boy who makes a diaper change into a wrestling match. So of course he was freaking out.
Papa and I could do nothing more than hold calm, loving space for him. I played a song he knows well on my iPod and sang to him. I held and kissed the only bare skin I could see, which was the right foot. Somehow, his little sock fell off. I also shimmied a hand through the restraints and up his shirt to rest on his belly.
Post-op pop

Post-op pop

I wasn’t the perfect picture of calm I had planned to be. I wish I stayed more focused, but I watched as they put on the numbing gel and inserted the needle. I started to cry but got it together by averting eyes and focusing on my breath.

Two of his teeth were so worn down that I was afraid of two things. I thought they wouldn’t be able to get them out or that they’d say they needed to send us home. I’m glad I didn’t spend much energy on these fears because they got all the teeth out. It was done.
Bug nursed right away. It was naptime and he fell asleep. He slept through the transfer into the car, slept when we went to pick up Babe from a friend’s and slept through the transfer into bed. He had a four hour nap and woke up like nothing happened.
He ate Popsicles and applesauce that night and the inside of his mouth looked a little scary where the teeth had been, but that was that.
I feel glad we got on top of this early and confident we’re doing everything we know how to prevent this from happening to his other teeth too. Dentists are telling too many moms this is from night nursing. If breastmilk rotted babies’ teeth, we’d be pretty flawed as a species, wouldn’t we? Doctors, like Dr. Jack Newman are thankfully dispelling this myth. I also believe the rotten teeth were just a symptom and I’m determined to find out why this is happening to so many babies– myself included.
Please feel free to share similar dental/health stories in the comments.
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