Sheryl Jesin

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Ben and I were out yesterday afternoon and stopped by one of my favorite new places – Kale Eatery on Yonge St., just north of Eglinton.   I just recently discovered this vegan restaurant and just can’t get enough of it.

Yesterday afternoon, I had one of their juices – their kale, apple, lemon blend.   The flavour of this combination is sweet, tart and refreshing.  I highly recommend for an afternoon boost – it will do wonders for your energy level!

Ben liked it too – I gave him tastes on a spoon, and he just couldn’t get enough of it!

Delicious and nutritious!

Do you juice?  What are some of your favorite flavour combinations?

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A visit to Mylk Uncookies

Since I am currently avoiding dairy, soy and gluten, it takes a bit of effort for me these days to have a treat – either I have to make it myself or head out to a specialty restaurant or cafe.  I used to really enjoy a latte from Starbucks or Aroma or a baked good from a local bakery.  However, I am lucky to live in Toronto where there are so many great vegan and gluten free restaurants to visit.  A couple of weeks ago, Ben and I checked out a great coffee place – Mylk Uncookies.

Mylk Uncookies is located at 253 Gerrard St., at Gerrard and Parliament, in Cabbagetown.  Mylk Uncookies serves homemade almond “mylk” and a variety of gluten free vegan treats.   You can also get regular milk and traditionally baked goods, so they really have something for everyone.

From the moment I walked in the door, I liked what I saw!  The decor is modern and minimalist with clean white furniture, and there is a pop of color with a tiffany-blue inspired feature wall in the back.  Service is fast and friendly – my barista even carried my coffee over to my table because she saw that my hands were full carrying Benjamin.

I tried a decaf latte and a spiced chocolate cookie.   The latte was made with their homemade almond milk.   The espresso was brewed just perfectly – smooth with no bitterness.   The almond milk is absolutely delicious – creamy with a hint of sweetness!   I had been purchasing almond milk in the grocery store for my smoothies, but after tasting homemade, I knew I had to make my own!

The cookie was dairy, egg and gluten free and was just amazing.   The chocolatey taste was rich and it wasn’t overly sweet.  The texture was dense, moist and satisfying.

I should add that I also visited the washroom and it was pristinely clean.  Definitely another plus in my book!

I will definitely be back when I’m craving another latte and sweet treat.   If only the Starbucks around the corner from us offered such delicious, healthy treats!  Perhaps someday….


Solids the second time around

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When I first introduced solids to my first son Dylan, when he was 6 months old, it was a BIG DEAL. For weeks I read up on solids – what to try first, how much to give, how many days to leave in between introducing new foods. I made big batches of all kinds of pureed fruits and veggies and froze them in little individual sized portions. Every morning Jake fed Dylan breakfast and he often had something at lunch and dinner too. Everything went really smoothly and Dylan enjoyed all of the purees I made, and gradually transitioned over to table foods at around 9 or 10 months.

Everything is more relaxed this time around. Benjamin also started solids right around the 6 month mark. Like his big brother Dylan, his first taste of food was a bit of mashed banana. However, unlike his big brother, Benjamin has mostly skipped over purees.   Instead, we place appropriate food on Benjamin’s highchair tray and he feeds himself.

Corn is a yummy summer treat for everyone, including babies!

For the first little while, not much food ended up in Ben’s mouth!  For example, I’d place some small pieces of cooked sweet potato on his tray, and he’d mush them around, make a mess, and perhaps lick his fingers a bit.  We also used a mesh feeder and put fresh summer fruits inside and he’d suck on the feeder, and of course make a mess!

Raspberries in the mesh feeder – messy but oh so fun!

As time went by, his pincer grip further developed and he got more and more food in his mouth.   Some favorites included peaches, raspberries, blueberries, and watermelon.   I found that his eating really took off at month 9.   These days (at month 10), I try to give Benjamin a little bit of table food at every meal.  He loves pretty much all fruits and veggies, and has also tried oatmeal, rice, and beans.   He also loves soups and my morning smoothie!  He even loves the sprouted lentils that I pick up at our local farmer’s market.  For liquidy things like soups and smoothies, I attempt to spoon feed him, but he usually doesn’t like it!   Instead, I put some food on the spoon and then give it to him, and he feeds himself.

So in an unintentional manner, I have been feeding Benjamin according to the baby led weaning method.  According to this method, a parent provides appropriate food for a baby, and the baby feeds him or herself.

I found this information on Wikipedia:

Baby-led weaning places the emphasis on exploring taste, texture, colour and smell as the baby sets their own pace for the meal, choosing which foods to concentrate on. Instead of the traditional method of spooning puréed food into the baby’s mouth, the baby is presented with a plate of varied finger food from which to choose.

Self-feeding supports the child’s motor development on many vital areas, such as their hand-eye coordination and chewing. It encourages the child towards independence and often provides a stress-free alternative for meal times, for both the child and the parents. Some babies refuse to eat solids when offered with a spoon, but happily help themselves to finger food.

Makes sense to me!  I’m happy that I’m encouraging Ben towards independence and developing his motor skills!    But truthfully, we are doing baby-led weaning because I don’t have the time or interest in preparing purees, and I also don’t have the time to spoon feed Ben!   Mealtimes are busy in our household and everyone has to fend for him or herself!

Who doesn't love a piece of freshly steamed broccoli?

I’m much more relaxed about food the second time around.   Partially because I’m busier this time with a 3 yr old to take care of also.   And I know that up until a year, a baby’s main source of nutrition should be breastmilk.  Since he still breastfeeds around the clock, I know he is getting lots and lots of the best source of nutrition!

How have you approached solids with your babies?  Have you found it different the second time around?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter’s suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • “Mommy, Can I Help?” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food – it’s a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn’t cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa’s making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won’t eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children’s favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What’s Next? panicks about passing on her food “issues” to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family’s relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M’s first adventures with food.
  • The Night My 7-Year-Old Made Dinner — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! shares how her 7-year-old daughter surprised everyone by turning what started as an idea to play restaurant into pulling off making supper for her family.
  • Cooking With a High-Needs Toddler — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how Montessori-inspired activities and a bit of acceptance have helped her overcome hurdles in cooking while caring for a “high-needs” child.
  • Kids in the Kitchen – teaching healthy food choices — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her belief in the importance of getting kids into the kitchen using her favorite cookbook for kids to develop healthy food choices now and hopefully into the future.
  • Make Milk, Not War — Tamara at Tea for Three remembers the daily food fights as she struggled to feed a picky eater.
  • teaching baby birds about good food. — Sarah at Small Bird on Fire writes about the ways in which her family chooses to gently teach their son how to make wise food decisions.
  • 5 Ways to Enhance Your Baby or Young Toddler’s Relationship with Food — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares simple ways to give your child a healthy beginning to her lifelong relationship with food.
  • Toddler at the Table: 10 Creative Solutions — Moorea at Mamalady shares tips for preventing meal-time power struggles.
  • How My Child Takes Responsibility During His Mealtime… — Jenny @ I’m a full-time mummy shares how she teaches and encourages her 32 months old son on adopting good manners and responsibilities during his mealtimes…
  • megan — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares six tips for overcoming some of the the difficulties of cooking with multiple young sous chefs, and a recipe they all can agree on!
  • How BLW has made me a better parent — Zoe at Mummykins shares how baby-led weaning has changed her approach to parenting.
  • My Budding Chef — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom is no cook but is happy that her daughter has shown an inclination and manages to whip up yummy goodies for their family.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: An Activity for Every Age — Gaby from Tmuffin describes how she keeps her kids busy in the kitchen, whether they are one week old or two years old.
  • The Phantastically Mutlipurposed Phyllo — Ana at Pandamoly shares how Phyllo is used to create enticing dishes at home! Anything can be made into a Struedel!
  • Kitchen Kids — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen shares her children’s most favorite recipe to make, experience and eat.
  • Independence vs. Connection in the Kitchen: won’t you please get yourself your own snack already? — Lisa at Organic Baby Atlanta wishes her daughter would just go make a mess in the kitchen. But her daughter only wants to do it together.
  • Grandma Rose’s Kitchen — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter reminisces about her childhood and dreams of filling her kitchen with people, love, noise, and messes.
  • Healthy Food Choices for Kids — Jorje offers one way to encourage children to make their own healthy food choices at
  • Cooking food to thrive rather than survive — Phoebe at Little Tinker Tales is trying to foster a lifetime of good food habits by teaching her children about the importance of avoiding junk, cooking healthy meals, and learning about the whole food process.
  • Evolution of a self-led eater — Sheila at A Gift Universe shares the story of how her son grew from nursing around the clock to eating everything in sight, without her having to push.
  • 10 Ways Tiny Helps In The Kitchen — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explores the ways in which her toddler actively participates in kitchen-related activities.
  • The Complexity of Feeding a Child — Feeding children a healthy diet is no straight-forward task, but Lisa at My World Edenwild shares some general guidelines to help your child thrive.
  • Lactation CookiesThat Mama Gretchen shares a fun recipe that will benefit both mamas and babies!
  • The Best Books and Websites to Inspire Kids in the Kitchen — Need inspiration to get your kids in the kitchen? Dionna at Code Name: Mama rounds up some of the best books and websites that can serve as a source for ideas, recipes, and cooking with littles fun.
  • A 4-year-old’s smoothie recipe — Jen at Grow With Graces and her son set out to make a smoothie without the usual ingredients. She let him improvise. See how it turned out.
  • Independent Food Preparation (My Toddler Can Do That?) — Megan at Montessori Moments shares simple ways for children to prepare their own healthy snacks.
  • Follow Your Gut — Amy at Anktangle shares her philosophy about intuitive eating, and how she’s trying to foster her son’s trust in his own inner wisdom when he feels hungry.
  • A TODDLER-STYLE LUNCH + RECIPEManic Mrs. Stone photographs how to have messy fun during lunchtime with a helpful toddler.


Meal planning Monday

I’ve dabbled in meal planning before with some success.  I tend to write out meal plans for a week or two, then get distracted or tired of it, and then stop for a bit.   Then I start, stop, meal plan in my head for a bit and then get totally distracted and we order take out for a few days in a row.  I’ve recently discovered that I have some food sensitivities, and they have made it more difficult for me to eat outside of the house.  As a result, I have been cooking a lot lately and I figured it was time to give meal planning a try again.

I have decided to do weekly plans of dinners.   Breakfast these days tends to be the same for me – a smoothie – and lunch tends to be leftovers from dinner.  I am going to list out this week’s dinners below.   If any of the items catch your eye, let me know, and I will post the recipe.

Sunday – Black bean burgers topped with guacamole and pico del gallo, roasted butternut squash and a kale salad.

Monday – leftovers from Sunday.

Tuesday – A bowl with brown rice, sauteed onions, spinach, roasted sweet potato.   Topped with chick pea, pea and lentil sprouts.  Sesame oil and tamari drizzled on top.

Wednesday – Butternut squash soup, salmon, roasted carrots, kale salad.

Thursday – A bowl with brown rice, steamed bok choy and mushrooms, topped with chick pea, pea and lentil sprouts.  Tahini sauce on top.

Friday – going to family for dinner.

Saturday – going out for dinner.

There you have it!  Now I know what I need to buy from the grocery store for the week.  Having it planned in advance lets me do some prep work the night before (I may make the rice on Monday night for example – enough for Tuesday and Thursday’s dinner).

Do you meal plan?  What are some of your favorite quick and easy dinners?


Green smoothies

I’m the proud owner of a brand new Vitamix blender!  A Vitamix is a high speed blender that makes the most smooth and most delicious smoothies, but that’s not all.  It’s amazing for pureeing soups, chopping vegetables, preparing frozen desserts and much much more.  I’ve had my eye on one since I saw a demo at Costco two years ago.   I decided recently that it would make a perfect birthday present, and Jake was at Costco this week and picked one up.  Happy early birthday to me!

I haven’t stopped blending since I got it.  Below is one of my new favorite Vitamix recipes.  It could be made in a regular household blender too, but may be a bit gritty.  With the Vitamix, it is smooth, creamy and delicious!  I love that I can get my daily dose of leafy greens in a raw and easily digestible form.  I love kale and all of its health benefits, but it can be a bit bitter and also chewy.   However, it’s surprisingly delicious mixed in a smoothie!  I think it makes a wonderful afternoon snack.  You could even make one before work, pop it into an insulated cup and enjoy at your desk.  If you snack on a dozen almonds on the side, you will also get some healthy fats and protein.   I guarantee that this will fill you up and give you a boost of energy.

Before blending
After blending

Recipe for a green smoothie

Serves 1.  Prep time 5 min.

1 apple, cut into 4 and cored
1/3 lemon, seeds and rind removed
1 big handful of kale (washed, no need to remove stem if using a high speed blender)
1 chunk of ginger, about a tsp.
1 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
1 cup of water
4 ice cubes

Add to blender, blend until smooth, pour into glass, and ENJOY (while feeling extremely healthy)!

What are some of your favorite smoothie recipes?

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When a three year old gives you lemons…give him lemonade?

One of our favorite things to do on a Saturday morning is to go to the farmer’s market at the Evergreen Brick Works.   If you live in Toronto, I definitely recommend checking it out.  It’s a great place to get some amazingly fresh organic produce, and some yummy treats.

We decided to head out to the market this morning, even though it was pretty cold (10c) and windy.   Each of us has our favorite things to buy at the market.  Jake always gets a crepe.   Dylan loves to get guacamole and lemonade.   I usually buy a vegan and gluten free cupcake or nanaimo bar.   And of course we stock up on organic fruits and veggies!

So today at the market Dylan asked for his usual lemonade.   Let me recount what happened:

Dylan:  Mommy, can I get a lemonade?

Me:  Dylan, it’s so cold out today.  Why don’t you get a warm drink?  How about a hot apple cider.

Dylan:  Ok, I want that.

So we purchase a hot apple cider.  Dylan takes one sip and hands it promptly back to me.   He DOES NOT like it.

Dylan:  Mommy, I want lemonade.   Mommy, I want lemonade.   I WANT LEMONADE.

Me:  The lemonade will make you too cold.  You won’t like it.

Dylan:  I don’t care.  I’m not cold.

Dylan then takes off his jacket to show me that he is NOT COLD.

We then go over to the lemonade stand and I buy him lemonade.   I should add that on a hot summer’s day, this lemonade is fantastic.  It’s made with organic lemons and lightly sweetened with stevia.

Dylan takes a few sips.


Me:  Ok, give it to me.  Put on your jacket.


We were finished our shopping at that point, and it ended up being a good time to go home, so we headed off to the car.  Another lovely trip to the market, or as lovely as it can be with a willful three and a half year old!


Short term vs. long term

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Philosophy

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared their parenting practices and how they fit in with their parenting purpose. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Lately I’ve been caught up in the daily grind of life with a 3 year old and a 6 month old: wake up at the crack of dawn, prepare and serve meals, clean up, breastfeed on demand, get baby down for a nap, keep preschooler away from baby during said nap, repeat until bedtime!  Let’s not forget the constant tidying up and laundry, and the herculean effort it can take just to make it out the door.   Getting through each day without any major meltdowns is an accomplishment of its own.  My thoughts are moment to moment and it can be hard to think beyond the next hour without getting overwhelmed, let alone the next week, month, or year!

Yet at the same time, it is so important for me to think about long term parenting goals or philosophies. Otherwise, I get lost in the minutiae of day to day life.   When I am caught up in the moment and short term goals, I forget about long term goals.   A few examples come to mind.   I often find myself taking off Dylan’s pyjamas in the morning while chasing him around the house.   The chasing continues as I put on his clothes for the day.   My short term goal is to get Dylan dressed and therefore I end up dressing him.   However, an important long term goal is to teach Dylan age appropriate life skills so he can feel a sense of accomplishment when he is able to do something alone.   The long term goal gets lost as I dress him in a rush so we can get out the door.   Here’s another example – sometimes during dinner I find myself feeding Dylan a few forkfulls of chicken or telling him to hurry up or asking him to finish the last few bites.   The short term goal is to finish the meal so we can move on to bathtime and bedtime, and to ensure that he’s gotten enough food in him so that he won’t be hungry at night.  The long term goal that I am missing is to allow Dylan to recognize on his own when he is full and what type of food he wants to eat, in order to create healthy eating habits for life.

Without long term goals in mind, life with two kids can be monotonous, boring and frustrating.   But when I stop and think about how my daily actions are influencing the lives of two little people, the daily grind doesn’t seem so bad. Instead of feeling bored, I feel inspired and purposeful.   Rather than being frustrated, I feel patient.

How do you reconcile your short term and long term parenting goals?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Between Love and Fear: On Raising our Children Sensibly — Mamma Earthly at Give an Earthly discusses the fear factor in parenting and how she overcame it, despite societal pressures.
  • really, when do i get my cape? — Sarah at small bird on fire is a working city mama trying to learn how to set aside her expectations of perfection and embrace the reality of modern parenting.
  • Baby, Infant, and Toddler Wearing — Child wearing is part of Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured‘s parenting philosophy. In this post, Sarah describes benefits of child-wearing and gives tips for wearing babies, infants, and toddlers (even while pregnant).
  • First Year Reflections — As her daughter’s first birthday approaches, Holly at First Year Reflections reflects on how she and her husband settled into attachment parenting after initially doing what they thought everyone else did.
  • Making an allowance — Lauren at Hobo Mama welcomes a guest post from Sam about the unexpected lessons giving a four-year-old an allowance teaches the child — and the parent.
  • How to be a Lazy Parent and Still Raise Great Kids — Lisa at Granola Catholic talks about how being a Lazy Parent has helped her to raise Great Kids.
  • Philosophy in Practice — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how her heart shaped the parenting philosophy in her home.
  • What is Attachment Parenting Anyway? — Gaby at Tmuffin describes the challenges of putting a label on her parenting philosophy.
  • Of Parenting Styles — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom talks about how she and her husband tailored various parenting styles to fit their own preferred parenting philosophy.
  • Moment by Moment Parenting — Amy at Peace 4 Parents encourages those who care for children (including herself) to explore and appreciate parenting moment-by-moment with clarity, intention, trust, and action.
  • Maintaining Spirituality in the Midst of Everyday Parenting, Marriage, and Life — Sarah at Nourished and Nurtured shares her perspective on finding opportunities for spiritual growth in every day life.
  • Parenting Philosophy — Lily, aka Witch Mom’s parenting philosophy is to raise child(ren) to be compassionate, loving, inquisitive, and questioning adults who can be trusted to make decisions for themselves in a way that avoids harming others.
  • Long Term — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis thinks about who she would like to see her daughter become — and what she can do now to lay a strong foundation for those hopes.
  • Connection, Communication, Compassion — She’s come a long way, baby! After dropping her career in favour of motherhood, Patti at Jazzy Mama discovered that building solid relationships was going to be her only parenting priority.
  • My Parenting Inspirations – Part 4 — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at her biggest parenting inspiration and how that translates into her long-term parenting philosophy.
  • A Parenting Philosophy in One Word: Respect — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction summarizes her parenting and relationship philosophy in one word: respect.
  • Knowledge and Instinct — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that knowledge and instinct are super important … as are love, encouragement and respect. It’s the ideal combo needed to raise happy and healthy children and in turn create meaningful relationships with them.
  • THRIVE!The Sparkle Mama wants to set a tone of confidence, abundance, and happiness in her home that will be the foundation for the rest of her daughter’s life.
  • On Children — “Your children are not your children,” say Kahlil Gibran and Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • This One Life Together — Ariadne aka Mudpiemama shares her philosophy of parenting: living fully in the here and now and building the foundation for a happy and healthy life.
  • Enjoying life and planning for a bright future — Olivia at Write About Birth shares her most important parenting dilemmas and pours out her heart about past trauma and how healing made her a better parent.
  • My Parenting Philosophy: Unconditional and Natural Love — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about her parenting philosophy from a year of following her instincts as a mama.
  • An open letter to my children — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine writes an open letter to her children.
  • My Starter Kit for Unconditional Parenting — Sylvia at MaMammalia discusses her wish to raise a good person and summarizes some of the nontraditional practices she’s using with her toddler son in order to fulfill that wish.
  • Responsiveness — Sheila at A Gift Universe has many philosophies and goals, but what it all boils down to is responsiveness: listening to what her son wants and providing what he needs.
  • Tools for Creating Your Parenting Philosophy — Have you ever really thought about your parenting purpose? Knowing your long-term goals can help you parent with more intent in your daily interactions. Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers exercises and ideas to help you create your own parenting philosophy.
  • Be a Daisy — Becky at Old New Legacy philosophizes about individuality and how she thinks it’s important for her daughter’s growth.
  • What’s a Mama to Do? — Amyables at Toddler in Tow hopes that her dedication to compassionate parenting will keep her children from becoming too self-critical as adults.
  • grown-up anxieties. — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life explains her lone worry concerning her babies growing up.
  • Why I Used Montessori Principles in My Parenting Philosophy — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why she chose Montessori principles to help her now-adult children develop qualities she wanted to see in them as children and adults.
  • Parenting Philosophies & Planning for the FutureMomma Jorje considers that the future is maybe just a fringe benefit of doing what feels right now.
  • Not Just Getting Through — Rachael at The Variegated Life asks what truths she hopes to express even in the most commonplace interactions with her son.
  • Parenting Philosophy? Eh… — Ana at Pandamoly shares the philosophy (or lack thereof) being employed to (hopefully) raise a respectful, loving, and responsible child.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Being Present — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses the changes her family has made to accommodate their parenting philosophy and to reflect their ideals as working parents.
  • Who They Will Be — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares a short list of some qualities she hopes she is instilling in her children at this very moment.
  • Short Term vs. Long Term — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts how long term parenting goals often get lost in the details of everyday life with two kids.
  • Parenting Philosophy: Practicing and Nurturing Peace — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle sets personal goals for developing greater peace.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 1: The Yamas — In part 1 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie guest posts at Natural Parents Network about how the Yoga Sutras provide a framework for her parenting philosophy.
  • Yama Niyama & the Red Pajama Mama — Part 2: The Niyamas — In part 2 of a set of posts by Zoie at TouchstoneZ, Zoie explores how the Niyamas (one of the eight limbs in traditional Yoga) help her maintain her parenting and life focus.
  • Our Sample Parenting Plan — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shares hopes of who her children will become and parenting strategies she employs to get them there.
  • Philosophical Parenting: Letting Go — Jona at Life, Intertwined ponders the notion that there’s no right answer when it comes to parenting.
  • Unphilosophizing? — jessica at instead of institutions wonders about the usefulness of navel gazing.
  • Parenting Sensitively — Amy at Anktangle uses her sensitivity to mother her child in ways that both nurture and affirm.
  • how to nurture your relationships — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog believes that sometimes all kids need is a jolly good listening to …
  • Philosophy Of An Unnatural Parent — Dr. Sarah at Good Enough Mum sees parenting as a process of guiding her children to develop the skills they’ll need.
  • Life with a Challenging Kid: Hidden Blessings — Wendy at High Needs Attachment shares the challenges and joys of raising a high needs child.
  • Flying by the Seat of My Pants — Heather at Very Nearly Hippy has realized that she has no idea what she’s doing.

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Being present

Dionna at Code Name: Mama had a great post today about how joyful it is when she is fully present with her son Kieran.

It got me thinking.  I spend so much of my day rushing around and preparing for what comes next that I often don’t take the time to be present and to enjoy the moment.  It really is a shame, because when I stop to think about my days, they generally are quite pleasant.   Each day comes and goes, whether I want it to or not, so I might as well enjoy the moments as they happen.

Here are some moments of a typical day and how I plan to be present during these moments:

  • Lying in bed in the morning just after I wake up – Typically Jake and Dylan are both beside me.  Generally I am thinking about how much time I have to get ready and what I need to do before I leave.   Instead, I can be grateful for the two wonderful people I have with me and give them both a big hug and kiss, and talk to them.
  • Driving to work – I tend to think about if I’m late and what I have to do at work.  Instead, I can take a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet of driving alone (without a toddler to entertain!).
  • Sitting at my desk at work – Usually I am thinking about upcoming tasks at work or what to make for dinner.   Instead I can enjoy the challenge of the task at hand and feel a sense of accomplishment when I have completed it and done a good job.
  • Making dinner after work – Generally I am thinking about what time it is, if Dylan is going to be in bed in time, if he’s getting cranky.   I’m also usually yelling to him across the room, checking what he is doing and trying to keep him entertained.   Instead, I can be grateful that we live in a wonderful country where my husband and I both have great, flexible jobs that allow us to be home in time for dinner with our son and provide us with sufficient funds that we never have to worry about putting food on the table.  I can enjoy the time I have with my son and perhaps engage him in what I’m doing and allow him to help me. 
  • Lying in bed with Dylan as he falls asleep – Typically I’m playing on my blackberry, responding to emails, messaging friends and surfing the web.  I’m also thinking about the cleaning, laundry and cooking I have to do before I go to sleep.  Instead, I can focus on the adorable child next to me who is peacefully drifting off to sleep.  I can enjoy the rest that I am getting lying beside him and the snuggles and cuddles from him. 

So at any point during a typical day, I can either feel stressed and rushed worrying about what’s coming next, or I can be grateful and enjoy the blessings of each moment.   Looking back over a day, it is quite easy to be present and enjoy it more.  

What about your typical day?  Can you find a mundane moment that can become magical (or at least moderately enjoyable) by being present?


Packing a waste-free lunch for a two and a half year old

Dylan started a new school yesterday.  It is a Montessori school and he is there a couple times a week for half days and a few times a week for whole days.   On the whole days he needs to bring his lunch with him.  This is new to us – when he was at daycare lunch was provided to him.

A few weeks ago I began my search for the perfect containers and lunch bag for him.  They had to be easy for him to manipulate and open and I wanted to avoid plastic where possible.

After quite a bit of research, I decided on buying LunchBots stainless steel containers for his food, and a Fluf organic cotton lunch bag.  We already had a Kleen Kanteen sippy cup for his drink, which we use also. 

LunchBots Uno

I put a sandwich in the LunchBots Uno Stainless Steel container.    So far I’ve made a sandwich on organic whole grain bread with hummus, cut up into quarters, and also another sandwich on the same bread with cream cheese.  I then use the LunchBots Pico container for snacks.  It has a handy divider in the middle – I put cut up fruit on one side and cut up veggies on the other.   Dylan has enjoyed apples, plums, carrots, cucumbers and and celery.  Nothing too exciting – but simple and healthy nonetheless!

LunchBots Pico

I chose the LunchBot containers because they are easy to open and because they are stainless steel, rather than plastic.  Both the container and the lid are made from 18/8 stainless steel.  The top of the lid is powder coated with a non-VOC finish.  It is certfied lead free and is dishwasher safe.  It is best suited for solid food (like sandwiches or cut up fruit), not for liquids like soup or yogurt.

I liked the Fluf lunch bag because it is made from machine washable organic cotton.  The bags have fun designs printed with water based inks and the handle is easy for Dylan to carry.   It has a removable non-PVC EVA lining  (free of toxins, BPA and phthalates) that can be rinsed out and handwashed.  The lining holds the LunchBot containers perfectly in the middle and creates pockets around the outside.  I put Dylan’s Kleen Kanteen in one pocket, a cloth napkin in another, a cloth placemat in yet another, and in the last pocket I put a small ice pack.  While the bag is not techinically insulated, I find that his lunch remains cold for the entire day with the ice pack. 

Fluf Lunch Bag

So far I am quite pleased with the products I have purchased!  I am liking them so much that I am considering buying some for myself.   Why should I be stuck using our old plastic Ziploc containers?

Note:  These products were not provided to me free of charge.  I paid in full for these items.  I have no financial interest in them – I just find them to be useful!


Why I am boycotting Nestle

I was inspired by Annie at Phd in Parenting to write a post on why I boycott Nestle products and how practically this affects our lives.   Annie has written a number of well-researched posts on Nestle and I invite you all to visit her blog and read them for yourselves.  A good starting point is her latest post entitled Why I Protest Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices

Annie provides an overview of Nestle’s unethical business practices, and writes that:

Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such as:

As someone who is passionate about breastfeeding, I feel quite strongly about Nestle’s promotion of infant formula that violates the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.  I was recently at a mom and baby trade show in Toronto, and was quite saddened to walk into the exhibition hall and be greeted by an enormous, overpowering Nestle booth.  The displays and signage literally were from floor to ceiling and could be seen from very far away.  Moms were lining up to receive free samples of formula and infant cereal, and it was breaking my heart.

I was volunteering at the show at the La Leche League booth, which was generously sponsored by a wonderful breastfeeding boutique here in Toronto, called Evymama.   Unfortunately our booth was in the back, but we still managed to reach out to a lot of moms and hopefully insipred a few to come to our meetings and learn more about breastfeeding.   It was hard for us to compete with the big, flashy Nestle booth with its giveaways, but we did our best!  While at the show I was sure to visit and make purchases from booths of breastfeeding friendly companies, including Evymama and Momzelle.  It feels great to give my business to companies owned by breastfeeding moms who support other breastfeeding moms!

It is quite amazing how pervasive Nestle products are and how many brands are owned by Nestle.  This link provides a list of brands owned by Nestle.   For us, it is not that difficult to avoid them, as a lot of the brands produce processed, packaged foods that we try to avoid.   We try to avoid processed foods wherever possible for health reasons, but the Nestle boycott provides me with even more motivation. 

There have been a few brands that I find more difficult to avoid, especially when we are out.  I used to quite enjoy a nice bottle of San Pellegrino or Perrier, and the corner store near us sells Nestle popsicles and ice cream products that Dylan enjoys once in a while for a treat.  I used to be a fan of Haagen Daaz, but now I do my best to the brand.   Ben and Jerry’s is a great substitute!  When Dylan was getting started on solids, I did purchase and give him some Gerber puffs, before I was aware of the ban.  I can say with certainty that baby #2 will not be eating ANY puffs.  

I am just one person but I believe that my actions can make a difference.  I hope that through this post more people become aware of Nestle’s unethical business practices, and join me in my boycott of Nestle.