Saturday, 20 June 2015

Welcome to Holland

Having been through post-partum depression myself, I am fully conscious of how long the days can feel when you are home alone with a baby. Even seconds can feel hours long. Counting the hours left in the day until your partner comes home can induce panic and tears. I have been there.

So on this, the longest weekend of the year, I'd like to raise a little awareness for mamas working hard each day to conquer PPD and love their little babies.  During one of the PPD group sessions I was in, our social worker read us the poem below. It was initially written to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability. I had never heard the poem before, so when it was first read to me, I didn't know this and felt it applied to my PPD just as perfectly. I still can't read it without tears in my eyes.

To the mamas out there climbing out of the darkness, I'm thinking of you and sending you love and courage along your way.

xo
J
 

WELCOME TO HOLLAND


by
Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
 

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Sebastianisms

Do you follow Eleanorisms on Love Taza?  If you don't, you absolutely should. Seeing the world through the eyes of a little one is by far one of the best parts of my day. In the same spirit, I'm starting Sebastianisms. Little things that Sebastian says that just completely melt my heart. Enjoy.



On a dark, rainy day I picked him up from daycare and he said, "I want it to be wake up time outside."

While looking at a deflated Mikey Mouse on our neighbour's lawn...."We need to put more sky in it."

A few months ago when we were beginning potty training...
Me - "Sebastian, why don't you want to sit on the potty?"
S - "Because it scares me."
Me - "Why does it scare you?"
S - "Because it's dangerous."

On saying he was too full to finish lunch, but still wanted ice cream for desert:
"I have some room on this side" (pointing to side of tummy)


Last week he said to me, "Do a medium kiss, Mommy." (not too big or too small). And then a few weeks before that "Put a hug on me, Mommy."

xo
J

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Book Review - Out From the Underworld


Some books that I read now as a mother hurt my heart much more than I'm sure I would have noticed before. Out From the Underworld by Heather Siegel is one of these books. At the very beginning of the book, just before the prologue, she writes "...this is, unfortunately, a true story." As soon as I saw those words, I knew this was not going to be a light, summer read.

Heather tells the story of her dysfunctional childhood, along with her older sister, younger brother, and troubled father. In a similar style to Jeannette Wall's The Glass Castle, Out From the Underworld is captivating right from the beginning. It's one of those fascinating books where you know the protagonist (the author, Heather) perseveres to a happy, healthy place on the other end, but you just cringe in reading about what she and her siblings had to go through to get there.

While it's hard for me to say that I "enjoyed" reading about someone else's difficult childhood, because I wouldn't wish this upon any child, I did love Heather's writing style and storytelling. I appreciate the strength and courage it must have taken to share her story with the world. I hope you read it and hold your little ones just a little bit closer when you're finished.

Keep reading below for an author interview with Heather Siegel and a giveaway to win a copy of Out from the Underworld as well as a music CD from her brother, Greg Fine.

xo
Jenn

Author Interview with Heather Siegel

How did you do research for your book?
Well, since it is a memoir and since many of the people I write about are alive and well, I did reach out to them to get their take on certain events, as well as their perception of what they remembered. I also found photographs and documentation which helped, as well as some old journals I had kept.

Did your characters you wrote about agree with your perception of events?
I am the middle child—the Jan Brady-- and this book is told through my perspective as a middle child, though it is told in an adult voice.  I have spoken to my older sister and my younger brother about the story—they have both just finished reading it. They agree with the facts; there is no disputing the linear plot points of the story. But how I chose to view my father, for example, was different than how my sister saw him. She kind of…idolized him in a way I didn’t. But that’s life. In every family, children have different relationships with their parents. I’ve always challenged my father in a way that my sister felt uncomfortable about. As the oldest, she was, and remains, more of a caretaker type. One could even argue that she is an enabler. It’s something I discuss in the book.

If you were stuck on a deserted island which three books would you want with you?
Wow. Ok. The first one I would choose would be The Seven Mysteries Of Life by Guy Murchie. I have the book and I still haven’t gotten through it, but it is beyond fascinating. That book will probably take me a lifetime to read. Then maybe something spiritual by, say, by Deepak Chopra. Something to keep me motivated so I don’t lose it. And finally, I’d need some kind of survival guide.  Or maybe a book on edible and poisonous vegetation.

Where do you write?
Mostly at home. But sometimes I sneak it in at work.

What is your job other than writing?
I am currently involved in a health market/juice bar as well as a natural beauty bar. I’ve been a small business entrepreneur for over twenty years. My pursuits started out as a way to survive—in fact the first business I ever opened was a coffeehouse when I was 25 years old and decided that I needed to do more than waitress and work for peanuts at an obscure magazine. From there, I grew to love the service business. It helps me balance my solitary life writing. And it has become another sort of creative outlet for me. I did try a stint in teaching—also in my twenties—but I was way too young to be helpful to anyone then. Maybe one day I will go back to it.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
Let see…besides giving birth….and besides writing a book?... I’m going to go with making authentic
choices, both on and off the page. It doesn’t serve anyone, most especially oneself, to fake who you are.

Author's Bio:

Heather Siegel holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from The New School. Her work has appeared on Salon.com and in The Mother Magazine and Author Magazine, as well as in various trade publications. She was a finalist for the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Award in Nonfiction Writing, the 2011 San Francisco Writers Conference Nonfiction Writing Award, the Carolina Wren Press 2012 Doris Bakwin Award and the 2012 Kore Press First Book Award. A multi-creative person with interests in the arts, nutrition, health and beauty, she has founded several independent businesses, including a coffeehouse, a café, an organic juice bar and a natural beauty bar. She currently lives with her husband, Jon, and daughter, Julia, in the woods of Long Island in a house filled with light.

Connect with Heather: Website, Facebook, Twitter


GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Win one of five print copies of Out from the Underworld and a music CD from Greg Fine (Open to USA & Canada).

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
If the giveaway widget isn't working, click here and scroll down. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Book Review: Lose the Cape

True story - Sebastian will happily eat brussel sprouts if they are drowned in ketchup. So, naturally I stress about whether this is a good thing or not.  I asked my friends and the overwhelming response was, "Absolutely. It's actually 2 vegetables, brussel sprouts and tomatoes." 

And a few weeks ago Sebastian sat in his craft room playing on the iPad, not crafting.


So, yeah, I'm not winning any supermom prizes over here.

And that's totally ok. I want to be a good mom. I want to be a great mom. Sebastian thinks I'm a super mom, so that should be enough right? However, it's so easy to feel like you can always be doing more.



If you ever feel the same, then you should check out this book - Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive. This book will remind you that you're already an amazing mom and give you a few tips to make life with a little one even easier!

It's completely non-judgmental. The authors, Alexa Bigwarfe and Kerry Rivera aim to bring moms together instead of asking them pick a side on the controversial topic of the day.

What is also super great about this book is that the chapters are short and easy to read which is prefect for motherhood, because short time slots are pretty much all I have available as a mom!

Reading Lose the Cape is like having a friend lean over and whisper, "It's all going to be ok. You're a great mom. You love your children and are, therefore, giving them exactly what they need."

It's always nice to hear from moms who are also, or have been, in the trenches so to speak. This books is full of realistic tips and anecdotes from mamas who've been there. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Encourage your little one to have "one bite" of everything on their plate as opposed to a "no thank you bite".  Children's taste buds change as they develop, so it's important to keep encouraging them and not think of food as something they won't like.
- Use a shared Google Calendar between you and your partner to manage all of the household schedules. We actually do this, and it's a lifesaver!
- To schedule exercise/gym time, book it in with friends. This way you're committed. 
- There are a number of tips for helping you not get sucked into the social media time drain (par exemple - turn off the notifications on your phone!)
- I also really loved the sections on nurturing your marriage while in the thick of the parenting phase and discussion on mommy friends: which to keep and which to let go.

Alexa and Kerry were kind enough to answer a few questions I had for them after I read their book.

1. Where does this supermom image come from really? There are books and blogs and friends telling us it's ok to say we can't handle it all. Why is it so hard to believe them?Alexa - I think that while there are many resources that say it's OKAY not to do it all, the reality is that social media (which allows everyone to just show what they want the world to see) makes us believe that others are doing things so much better. So, we get caught up in a cycle of competition and needing to feel like we can handle it all. I have some other ideas on this topic, but I think it would make some people super mad, so we'll just leave it there! :-)

2. What's the craziest parenting moment you've experienced so far? How did you get through it?

Kerry - There are so many. I hate it when my kids are sick, and those instances certainly offer ugly tales to share - from catching kid vomit with your hands to cleaning it up in the car to ear infections that always seem to strike at 2 a.m. on Saturday night. You just need to get through it. Just a few months ago, our family was departing for my sister's baby shower, which I was hosting, and my middle son threw up 10 minutes before we needed to get in the car. My daughter decided to "organize" all of my decorations, so I needed to go searching for missing items throughout the house, and my oldest son said he felt carsick on the drive there. We called in grandparent reinforcements and joked that we should have been taping the chaos. This is parenthood! This is what I needed to share with my sis. With three kids, we are always experiencing new and crazy moments, but the good outweighs the bad.

3. How has being a mom changed you?
Kerry - I think it has mellowed me out and put things in perspective. In fact, I think it has made me a better professional. I am more patient in the office. I don't stress easily. I recognize there will be another day to get it right. Being a mom has softened me. Sure, there are days my kids drive me absolutely mad, but I love them so much. I love the family my husband and I've created - chaos and all. It has also intensified my worrying gene. I want to get it right with my kids, so sometimes I tend to agonize over decisions, but I'm getting better at trusting my gut and having faith. 

4. What are your thoughts on screen time for little ones?

Alexa - Hmmm. Well, I know what studies tell us we should not do. In fact, we just had a huge debacle because of screen time issues (http://katbiggie.com/total-reset-required/) but I do try to limit the amount. We didn't introduce tv to our oldest until he was almost two. Sadly, this was not the case with 2 and 3. I work from home, so my kids get more screen time than they should, but I limit it to no TV after dinner.

5. What's the #1 piece of advice you'd give to new moms?
Kerry - Listen to your gut. You know what's best for you and your child. So many new moms read anything and everything to try and do it right. And your friends and family will likely offer more "suggestions." You might pick up some great tips, but always go with your gut. You'll know what to do, and if you make mistake, there will be another day. Be kind to yourself.

Alexa - Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. Seriously. Everything is new and scary as a first time mom, but you'll make it through. You will sleep again... one day. Everything doesn't have to be perfect. You won't screw your child up. They just want you. They don't care about perfection! :-) 

Thanks, Alexa and Kerry! And here's the link again if you'd like to check out their book.


xo
J

Disclaimer – I was sent a complementary copy of Lose the Cape for review. All thoughts and opinions about this book and wonderments about motherhood are my own.

Monday, 1 June 2015

My Favourite Workout Songs

Not a photo of me....
 Consider this "Motivation Monday." Here are my 10 favourite workout songs! I hope you find one or two that you love and add it to your workout playlist as well!

1. "Ghost" by Ella Henderson



2. "Run Boy Run" by Woodkid



3. "Free" by Rudimental ft. Emeli Sande



4. "Remix (I Like The)" by New Kids on the Block



5. "Honey, I'm Good" by Andy Grammer



6.  "Style" by Taylor Swift



7. "Elle Me Dit" by Mika



8."Hey Hey" by Dennis Ferrer



9. "The Hanging Tree" rebel remix by Jennifer Lawerence



10. "Help Your Self" by Sean McCann




What are your favourite workout songs?
xo
J

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