A Voice for Justice, Love and Mercy Worldwide.

Latest

2015 Valentine’s Day Girly Gift Guide

Happy February

I love February, mostly because I love Valentine’s Day, mostly because its a super girly holiday, but truly, mostly because its a sappy reason to celebrate great love and all that goes with it! While it’s important to celebrate the sappy and romantic side of love, I also think its important to focus on the fun and friendly side of love and those incredible ladies in your life who just make your world work.

So here are my favourite gifts to surprise your sister, mother or BFF!

photo (83)

Twinkle Twinkle Little Jar $28

Home of the original Glitter Dipped Tumblers and Mugs, these precious little beauties are handmade in Southern California and they sparkle, need I say more?

Great Love by Tesori Handmade $71

Since the first days after Chayton was born, I’ve worn a beautiful little sterling silver necklace close to my heart.  I know that this one of a kind jewelry is the perfect gift for a wife, mother, sister or friend this Valentine’s Day. Each piece is hand distressed and hand stamped for a uniquely organic and vintage look. You can add the names of your loved ones, important dates from your life or special quotes of significant meaning. Each piece is completely custom and made for the people that you treasure most!

(PS-  For the month of February, enter Coupon code Save5 for free shipping in The United States or $5 off your order for those in Canada and beyond. Hurry! Valentine’s orders must be in by the end of the week!)

Rosé by Landeau $95

It probably doesn’t get more cliché than this but honestly, what girl doesn’t love receiving roses on Valentine’s Day- there’s just something about it! Landeau roses are beautiful, modern and easy to order. All Landeau bouquets include: 25 fresh cut, hand tied roses wrapped in tissue, 2 packages of flower food and a Landeau box, plus a greeting card written on high quality, custom stationary. Just choose your bouquet, enter the delivery details and wait for the beauty to arrive!

elle est forte by She is Clothing $35

This company is my girl crush. Seriously. Their slogan is “She is purposeful, she is honourable, she is strong” and their inspiration comes from Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed in strength and dignity, she laughs without fear of the future.” Seriously, I love this company with a capital L-O-V-E.

So you have it, my 2015 Valentine’s Day Girly Gift Guide! Surprise your girlfriends or treat yourself, I won’t judge.

Tara, xo

Maternity Photos on the Farm: 36 weeks

As we celebrate the first month of Chayton’s life, I find myself constantly gazing down at this beautiful baby boy in my arms. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this little one lived inside me, nurtured within the safe confines of my womb. Other times I stare down at him, with absolute pride, knowing that my body nurtured him within the safe confines of my womb. Wow! Truly, pregnancy and childbirth is a miraculous wonder.

In light of this beautiful accomplishment, I am posting my final “baby bump” update for Chayton and sharing some of my favourite photos of our final maternity photo shoot. It was an absolute honour to collaborate with the creative genius of Iulia Agnew Photography and Belle and Rebel Beauty, two of my favourites to work with.

I’m not gonna lie, part of me does miss the “bump” and the quiet :) but I wouldn’t trade any of it for all the world’s gold! Every moment from my pregnancy, and now the early days of motherhood, is etched in my memory and cherished in my heart. I know how blessed I am to walk this journey and in a place of gratitude if where I’ll always be.

feathers1

horse1

t24

t25

t29

t36

t37

t42

t49

t51

t53

t62

tara1

Bringing Chayton earthside: Our Homebirth Story

Its surreal to think this day even happened; it feels like a dream that happened in my heart. How do I even begin to write the majesty of the day our son came earthside, the day I became a mother?

It was the end of a long and emotional week. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, our due date passed with no sign of baby’s arrival. My mind and my spirit remained calm, at peace, but my hormones took my emotions on a raging roller-coaster of a ride! Finally on Friday night, after many long tears and a two-hour wait in the service lounge at the Honda dealership, I made my way over to Meaghan and Josh’s home, dear friends’ of ours, for dinner.

During dinner I started feeling strong surges, very similar to period cramps but far more intense. Our friends’ have two small boys and easily recognized the surges that I was experiencing. At 8:00pm, after an hour of consistent surges, I called my doula, Charissa of Alongside Family Support Services. Charissa agreed that I appeared to be in early labour and we decided to head home to rest and prepare for the possibility of a long night ahead. However the surges were getting stronger and I couldn’t drive. Thankfully we only live a few blocks away and Josh drove me back in my car while Chris followed behind in his Jeep.

Upon arriving at home, Chris busied himself with cleaning our home while I attempted sleep. The surges kept coming and it wasn’t long before Chris was on the phone with our midwife and I decided to labour in the comfort and warmth of the shower. We called our friend, Meaghan to join us while we waited for our doula to arrive. I bounced away on a medicine ball in the shower and got up to stand through the surges as Meaghan sat on the bathroom counter, telling me stories and timing each surge while we waited. “She’s my kind of crazy” by Emerson Drive kept playing in my head with each surge. I remember smiling to myself at one point during this time and thinking back to all the people who told me I was crazy for wanting a home birth for my first baby. Now was the time; this was the beginning of the work to bring my baby into my arms.

My doula, Charissa, joined us at 10:45pm to find me still in the shower and Meaghan still sitting up upon the counter. About 30 minutes later our midwife, Winifred from Grove Midwifery Care arrived. I left the shower to meet Winifred on the bed where she did my first exam and determined that I was already 4-5cm dilated. Officially in active labour, it was time to leave for the hospital for IV antibiotics since I had tested positive for GBS earlier that day. After all our specific planning for a home birth I was really unhappy that we ended up needing to go to the hospital after all but we didn’t want to take the chance that baby get sick from the GBS bacteria.

We left for the hospital at 11:55pm and arrived at the Langley Memorial Maternity floor at 12:15am where we checked my vitals, listened to baby’s heartbeat and then began the IV with antibiotics. By 1:10am I was 6cm dilated as we were left a very confused nurse behind in the maternity unit (she was speechless when we told her that we planned to birth at home) and walked out past wide-eyes in the emergency waiting room, had one more contraction in the parking lot and were back on our way home.

I guess no one expects to see a woman in active labour leaving the hospital.

On our way back we had to detour to avoid a road block that we had noticed on the way to the hospital. The last thing that I wanted was to be stuck in the traffic of a police road block! Darn December babies.

While we were at the hospital, Meaghan had stayed at our place to set up the birthing pool. We were home at 1:25am and my birth team wanted me to stay upright so gravity could help me to bring the baby down. I was back labouring in the shower again and Charissa, my doula, was really great about making sure that I stayed hydrated with cold water and coconut water to drink. By 1:50am I finally made my way into the large birthing tub and as I lowered myself into warm water I could feel the tensions in my body relaxing as I squatted in the pool and allowed the water to cradle my weight. It was here that I really felt the surges getting stronger and closer together. I could not longer speak or hold a conversation with anyone as it took all my focus to breathe through each contraction. At this point I was living for the rest period between each contraction and holding the hands of Chris, Meaghan or Charissa – whoever was closer.“Jesus loves me”, a Sunday School song of my childhood ran through my mind during each contraction and I remember thinking how much I loved this baby and how precious he was to me.  By 2:15am I felt my first primal, uncontrollable urge to push and I knew that my baby boy wasn’t far off.

homebirth 1

It was around this same time that the long hours of labour were starting to get to Chris’ tummy and he decided that he should BBQ bear sausage to keep the hunger away. Normally I loved bear sausage but when all my focus was intent of getting through the rise and decrescendo of  each contraction, the smell of BBQ became an unwelcome distraction. Unknown to me, Meaghan and Chris started switching off between each contraction so that Chris could take a bite of food, run to brush his teeth and then return to my side before the next surge began.

At 2:25am I was growing very warm in the birth pool and baby’s heart rate became inconsistent as my temperature continued to rise. Although my eyes were closed, focused on the work of labour, I could hear the concern in the voices of my birth team and Winifred got on the phone to call the second midwife to join us, as the urges to push became stronger and stronger.

My birth team set up a spot for me on the bed and helped me out of the tub. Windows were opened as someone stood on either side of the bed and fanned me down with magazines. It wasn’t long before the cool air reached my body and my temperature lowered, bringing the baby’s heart rate back down to a normal pace.

I laboured on the toilet, squatted beside the bed and laboured on my hands and knees on the bed, using every bit of gravity to aid me in my work. By 3:10am, Linda – our second midwife arrived and at 3:15am my water broke as another assessment was performed. I was 9cm and just about ready to meet my baby.

By 3:52am I was fully dilated and +1. Winifred and Charissa gently coached me on when to push and when to breathe as we began the beautiful labour dance that slowly brought my baby in, out and through my pelvis bit by bit. It took every once of self-control that I had to breathe through the contractions, allowing my uterus to push the baby out and do the work for me. Winifred expertly guided me through each surge, helping to control the burn as he head began crowning and easing my perineum to minimize the chances tearing. We went back and forth through this dance for over an hour and I remember mentally apologizing to my neighbours for each primal scream as I found my release and strength to keep going.

With each burning contraction I knew I was getting closer to meeting our baby. I kept reminding myself that the pain was only temporary and the burn was good; it was part of the work that needed to be done to bring this baby earth-side. This was the moment that I had been waiting for, preparing for, for months. For one hour I pushed with everything I could give until at last his head and left hand were finally released. In the next rest, Winifred carefully untangled the cord from around his neck and Linda checked his heartbeat. As the next surge began to build, baby’s body shifted sideways while his shoulders emerged and the rest of his long slippery body rolled out.

“There it is!”  I exclaimed as his body left mine and I crossed over the threshold into motherhood. Winifred lifted him up into the air and rested him upon my chest. “Oh sweetheart. Oh sweetheart.”  was all I could say as I gazed down upon my little boy. This tiny, wet human, with eyes squinting against his first exposure to light, began to use his voice for the first time. “Oh my God- my baby!”  I gasped as the midwives dried him off and warmed him with receiving blankets. Chris leaned in close, brushing my hair back as we each couldn’t take our eyes off our little boy. “Hi Baby” I breathed as he responded back with clear, strong lungs.

homebirth 2

He was absolutely perfect in every way. “Good job” I told him as we both lay there, skin on skin, in awe of the journey we had just accomplished. His cries stopped and breathing settled while Chris and I just looked at each other with amazement and pride. We had done it; At 5:11am, our son, Chayton Texas, was born. A whopping 8lbs 2oz and 19 inches long, he was more than we had expected – and he still is, in every way.

I’ve never felt so strong, so vulnerable, so powerful, so focused, so intense, so primal, so instinctual or so feminine as when I was birthing my baby boy into the world. When he was born, I was reborn. It was as if I had earned my membership into an elite sisterhood of women who knew what it was like to bring life into the world. I felt as though I had accessed some ancient female wisdom that had been passed down through the generations, bringing me into a deeper understanding of my calling on this earth.

 Our boy, Chayton Texas, has changed life as we know it. We will never again be the same and what a wonderful thing that is!

homebirth 3

 (Our first family photo. * While drinking my raw placenta smoothie) 

For those who asked the meaning of his name, Chayton Texas:

*Chayton: a name of Sioux origin. Meaning “Falcon”.

Texas: named after my paternal grandfather, Texas Teng.

 

What my son has taught me

Today my baby boy is one week old. Since his birth I’ve spent every moment of the day and night drinking him in with my eyes, studying his features, learning his personality. There are moments that I can’t even believe he’s real! I can’t imagine our lives without him and in a way, it is as if he was always with us – a part of me that I have always known but never been able to touch until now.

photo (23)

In just seven short days he has taught me so much about life. When he was born, I was reborn. His birth was miraculous, there is no other way to explain. And now, after it all, I stand in the mirror – a new person – and I almost don’t recognize the woman who stands before me. My once flat and firm then round and full belly is replaced with a soft, padded space that cushions the tiny frame of my newborn as he rests upon me, skin on skin.  My breasts, which never called much attention to themselves, now provide the sole nourishment sustaining my infant boy’s life. I’m cracked, slightly torn and a little sore but overwhelmed by a joy and love that trumps any discomfort of the early days. It was this body – fully spent – that brought forth such life into the world. He has taught me that our bodies – although beautiful – serve a higher purpose than merely being ornamental , they are meant for divine work. Our bodies are tools that bring the sacred to earth and allow us to experience the presence of holiness in the world. Whether climbing the world’s tallest mountains or birthing babies, it is our bodies that allow us to experience all that this life has to offer.

Although this body is forever changed, I find myself breathing in a renewed sense of strength and capability. I am growing into my namesake – Tara: she who brings forth life! And even though I may not recognize my body, it is my husband who has taught me that I am still sexy, even though I have changed. Or maybe I am sexy because I have changed. All I know is that I am forever changed. 

In the season of waiting

red cups

“Red Cups” marking the upcoming Christmas Season and the soon arrival of our sweet baby boy

ad·vent  (dvnt)

n.

1. an arrival; a start or commencement: the advent of the holiday season.
2.
a. (usu. cap.) the coming of Christ into the world.

b. (cap.) the penitential period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, commemorating this.

 

The 2014 Advent Season officially begins Sunday, November 30 and concludes on Wednesday, December 24. Yet this year, I’m living in a season of extended Advent as I await the arrival of another precious baby boy.

Each day my Braxton Hicks contractions are growing stronger and the air is growing cooler. I waddle a little more and by now I’ve fully given up on wearing any shoes/boots with laces, buckles or zippers. I wonder how Mary must of felt as she made the long journey to Bethlehem, over nine months pregnant, with no comfy pillows to rest on at night, no TUMS for her heartburn, no sitz baths for achy hips and no room for her at the Inn. I wonder if she approached her impending labour and delivery with fear or peace? I would assume there was a mix of both emotions, and certain trepidation when she arrived at the stable with animals but no midwives and only her faithful fiance in attendance to catch the baby- the living Christ.

I think of all the people who waited for generations for Baby Jesus to arrive; Simeon, Anna (Luke 2:21-40) and countless others who longed, prayed over and waited-day and night- to gaze upon the face of the promised Messiah. Sometimes the last 38 weeks have felt like a thousand years and the anticipation for our little one’s arrival becomes greater with each passing day. But it is in these quiet moments of waiting that my heart feels tender and I reflect on how Mary must of felt. As we each wait on the arrival of our baby boy and wonder who he will be, what will his character be like and how we can be the best mother for his needs.

The early winds of winter rustle the leaves from the trees and time stands still, as if all the world is joining in anticipation and my body begins yet another miraculous transformation as it prepares for the onset of labour and delivery. I know that God will guide me through this journey, as He has led the countless mothers who have gone before, each bringing new life into the world.

photo (21)

 

This is my Canada

It has been a shocking and emotional week for all of us in Canada. I’m still working to process all that has happened in Ottawa with the shootings on Parliament and the tragic attack on Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Perhaps I will write down my thoughts on this horrible attack in the days to come but for now, I choose to remain positive, not to give in to fear or intimidation and I will focus on who we are as Canadians.

On Friday, October 24, 2014, I was honoured to be invited to take part in a roundtable discussion with Minister Kellie Leitch, MP Stella Ambler and Senator Yonah Martin alongside fellow leaders and advocates in Vancouver. We addressed many important concerns in Canada, with a specific focus on ending violence against women, mental health resources, economic development and encouraging women to run for political office. 

Participants spanned many generations, ethnic and religious backgrounds; as I looked around the room I was so grateful for the vibrant mosaic of women that were represented and being heard. This is my Canada. We are not a perfect country but it is days like these that we step forward to becoming a better nation that values all voices and is constantly seeking to do its best to serve the people who live here with integrity and justice. 

It is easy for people to criticize what they do not know and I want people to realize these roundtables take place all the time, all across the country and for all sectors of our government. As Canadians we have the right and the ability to speak directly with our elected leaders and it is a right that I encourage all of you to exercise. Whatever you believe in, whatever you are passionate or concerned about, you can be heard.

In a world where many women’s voices are withheld from public spheres, I am very thankful to live in a country where everyone’s voice has a place at the table and where our elected leaders actively seek out the thoughts, comments and ideas from the people. We are strongest when we work together and I am proud to raise my son in a country that lives out these values.

#CanadaStrong

roundtable oct 24,2014

Hope for Dalit Women Gala 2014

I believe in freedom, equal rights, education, empowerment and the global sisterhood of solidarity that spans across the oceans. This is why it has been my deep privilege to support the work of the Dalit Freedom Network for the last number of years. I had the privilege of speaking at their inaugural gala five years ago, alongside Dr. Beryl D’Souza, worked as an intern in their office in 2011 and have support their work through various projects over the years.

The work of The Dalit Freedom Network is centred upon education for Dalit children throughout rural India and economic empowerment of Dalit women across the country. While all Dalit people are dramatically racially oppressed due to their lowest place in the caste system, it is the women and children who suffer the most. This year, at the Hope for Dalit Women Gala, the focus was on providing quality healthcare to those who cannot afford it and sharing empowering stories of triumph and hope by Dalit Women who have lived with the courage and support to rise above. At the end of the night, $31,000 was raised for medical care for those who cannot afford it. It makes my heart soar to think of the lives that will be impact by this evenings generosity. A sisterhood, indeed!

(c)JDodds.-3163

Miss Teen BC 2014, Brette Joyal & Miss BC 2010, me!

(c)JDodds.-3517

 With Dr.Beryl D’Souza. 

(c)JDodds.-3529

With Natalie Hilder and Ansu Shaji. Baby is a #bigdeal.

34 weeks DFN gala

34 weeks and loving it! Can’t wait to meet this little boy and raise him to be a compassionate world changer!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,713 other followers