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Summer Must-Haves for Baby!

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6 Months! Wholy-Moly! How did we get here? I seriously feel like Chayton was just born! However, the great thing about having a summer baby is that by the time June rolls around, Baby is ready to explore the world around him which makes for great beach days, picnics in the park and long walks through BC’s many wonderful forests and trails!

To prepare you for a summer’s worth of explore and adventure, I’ve put together my favourite summer must-have list for littles.

  • 1// Hooded Baby Towel 
    • We were given this beautiful towel as a gift from our Pastors when Chayton was born! I love how soft and absorbant it is, perfect for a day at the poolside!
  • 2//Resqueeze Soft Food Pouches
    • Convenient for snacks at the park, beach or on the trail. Each eco-friendly pouch is easy to use and refillable, keeping waste out of the landfills. Fill with easy favourites like applesauce, yogurt or a yummy smoothie! Stay tuned for a exciting giveaway coming up!
  • 3//Teething Jewelry for drool or pool 
    • Teething is tough. Luckily these non-toxic, soft food-grade silicone beads are up for the job of soothing sore gums and keeping mama stylish.
  • 4//Babiators  (Violet Babiators are currently FREE. 1 per person. Code: SHADES. While supplies last.)
    • 100% UV protected for precious baby eyes. Plus if your babiators are ever lost or broken, they’ll replace them for free! #bestdealever
  • 5// Sweet Cheeks Body Balm 
    • Keep that soft newborn skin moisturized with all natural goodness all summer long. Never a chemical, never a worry!
  • 6// EOS Mint Lip Balm (For Mama)
    • Because I don’t leave home without it.

What are some of YOUR favourite summer products for babies and mamas? I’d love to learn about new brands worth supporting! Let me know in the comments below!

-Tara (& Baby Chayton)

I get by with a little help from my friends.

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#Wereallinthistogether, she typed.

Crushed together, rambling words resembling more like hieroglyphics than the the English language, typed under a gentle photograph of a woman gracefully balancing across a fallen beach log with a sleeping babe strapped to her back. With the tender way she rocked him to sleep, rolling with the rhythm of the ocean tides, you would think the boy was hers. Yet her smooth chocolate skin gave contrast to the olive tones and asian eyes of the boy being worn. At first glance some might think he was adopted, and in a way, he was; for the woman on the shoreline loved the boy with a heart as big as her own and he, rested peacefully in the embrace of one he trusted.

Some say that motherhood is lonely, but for me, motherhood is full. Full of love, life and sisterhood as I’m daily grateful for the village that gathers and supports, cares for and embraces, raising each other’s babies as if they were our own and holding up each mama before the journey gets too weary.

Like a woven tapestry, we’re all connected. When one trembles, we all waver and when gathered we’re stronger than when we are apart.

A friend recently told me that I make motherhood look easy. But it is my village of women that make motherhood possible. As a speaker, mentor and model, I can live out the fullness of my calling, while being a mother, because of these women at my side.

It was only a year ago that I wept silent tears and prayed for God to bring me a sister-friend. Someone whose soul sang with my own and understood my story in a way that only another woman can. Now my birth sister is a closer friend and my girlfriends gather my world.

Each day is an ebb and flow of honest life. I make soup to fight her morning sickness. She carries my boy for me as I work. I bring a warm tub of water for her to soak her feet after being awake all night to birth her baby. She runs my errands and does the shopping for my family. We cook a meal together; she puts my boy to sleep. She shares her fears and triumphs, we applaud, heaven stands still. Village moves, the village rises, the village is a strong force in my world.

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I am convinced: it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to be a mother, it takes a village to live out the fullness of your humanity. You need to be in community to thrive. I believe in raising one another up, cheering one another on, living big dreams and loving with full hearts. I believe in owning your emotions, wearing your heart on your sleeve and not being afraid to get hurt because your vulnerability is your greatest strength.

We must stay tender, stay kind. Don’t compare yourself to the woman next to you because her journey is not your own and there is room another for us all in this world.

So when you carry my babies, I’ll carry your heart. Because we’re all in this together.

The Ocean

In honour of World Oceans Day, I share a piece that I wrote while still pregnant with Chayton. I pray that it moves you to celebrate all that is sacred within the world. 

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Dear Baby,

Today I can feel you as you explore your surroundings. Your dance has gotten more graceful over the past few weeks. I can feel and see you as your stretch about, pushing back the limits of my womb, ready to make your escape, preparing to make your presence known.

But wait, sweet baby. It’s not time yet and everything in life has a perfect time. Enjoy your cozy room, sweet baby, for the months ahead hold great changes for you and one day you may miss the warmth of Mama’s belly, where you were wrapped up cozy and safe.

Don’t fear, sweet baby. The world is terrifying, yes, but terrifyingly beautiful as well. Your daddy will teach you of the mountains and how to live within the forest. But I, sweet child, will teach you a love of the ocean.

We will wiggle our toes into the salty depths of the sea, sweet child. Feel its cool embrace surround as we play within its shores and immerse ourselves into its mysteries. Gather the sand into our cushioned palms and awe at the colours of the starfish. The waves will dance around you like your friends but never forget that within their playful grasp is a power that can undo and unnerve you.

Yet this is the thing that I love most about the ocean, the feeling of being so small next to something so mighty and powerful.

The ocean will teach you to breathe deep and be calm.

The ocean will teach you the reflection of the pink sunset over the beauty of the waves.

The ocean will teach you that there is always more than meets the eye, as it teems with life beneath of water’s surface.

The ocean will teach you the power of family bonds, as orcas, belugas and dolphins share a unity with their kin that is suffered when lost.

The ocean will teach you the importance of responsibly managing our effects on this shared world. It will feed you, sustain you and has the ability to destroy you if you do not care for it.

There is so much wonder and beauty in this world, sweet child, and as your parents, we are eager to share the bounty of our great lands and the majesty of this spectacular world with your innocent heart. If you care for these lands and oceans, they will care for you always. Their wisdom and abundance cannot be owned; it can only be treasured, experienced, protected, explored and ultimately, shared. We will teach you, sweet baby, for this earth is as much yours as it is ours. It is as much ours as it belongs to the deers, or the owls, or the salmon, or the orcas… or the falcon, of which you share a namesake.

Yet as powerful as the ocean is and as glorious its depths, the waters cannot compare to the majesty and sovereignty of the Creator, our God. You, fresh from His presence, will know of his mysteries greater than I and you will teach me an enormous magnitude of the character of our King. He lives and moves within us as we sustain our being within the lion heart of His splendour. As the earth cannot exist without the nourishment of water, so our souls cannot live with the touch if His divine. He is our beginning and our end; the universe was set into motion through the first words from His lips and both our worlds were called forth when He called you, my sweet son, into being. With your birth, I too will be reborn…into motherhood and into a deeper understanding of the sacred holiness with exists within us all. This holiness, which comes only from our Lord, when His divinity collides with our mortality and takes us to higher heights and gives purpose to our being.

There will be days when the darkness of your humanity will overtake you and even your best intentions will fail you. Yet this is the paradox of being human; we live in the tension between the holiness of God and the depravity of our sin. Yet no matter how far you fall, you will always find yourself caught by the redeeming power of grace. The depths of the ocean or the heights of the skies cannot outrun the grace of our God. So fear no fear, my son; though there will come a day when I can no longer stand beside you in the flesh, grace will never leave your side or forsake your soul.

As sure as the sun will rise and set above the waters of the ocean, be confident that you were born for this moment in time, this space in eternity. Let God rise like water to your soul, for you will always be sustained in Him. Turn your ear and soften your heart, care for the earth and those who inhabit it— embrace the holy all around you.

The earth is glorious, sweet baby. Soar like the eagles above the oceans waves, dear child, because like the ocean your life is not meant to exist in the shallow places where fear and trembling live, but to embrace the majesty, power, and holiness of the deep…the places beyond ourselves, where God reigns.

On my first Mother’s Day

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Motherhood: there are no words to fully describe this life. I may never know all that my mother has done for me but now, I can fully understand it. The magnitude of this love is endless; it can change the world and impact the generations yet to come.

To all those who have mothered me, I thank you. To all the life givers, I honour you. To my son, who made me a mother, I will love you with every breath, in all I do, every day of my life.

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When I became a mother I joined the ranks of swaying Mamas bouncing their babies in the back of the church. In subconcious cheorgraphy we would sway together- left to right, left to right, left to right. Under sleepy eyes from long nights awake, we would look up at each other, give a knowing nod and sympathetic smile before returning with a soft hugh and kiss on the forehead atop our own sweet babe in our arms. This was our rhythm, our season, our heart poured out.

Yet on more than one occasion I’ve had to step out farther than merely the back of the church. Wandering halls on the outside, separated from the action, unable to hear the words of the preacher. And though my heart delights to serve my son and comfort him as he needs, my time on the outside is making me ever thankful for the way Jesus draws us near.

I think of the old temple in Jerusalem and the distant women’s court, far from the Holy of Holies. There in the innermost part of the Temple was the very presence of God, His sacred dwelling place in the midst of His people. But sin kept the people separated from Him, and the women, like myself, were found far away in our own court at the other end of the temple.

But when Jesus’ feet walked the earth, He called to us – letting the children come, letting the women listen. When Jesus’ feet hung on the Cross-, the veil was torn, from top to bottom, from Heaven to Earth- and the barrier between God and us was forever removed. (Matthew 27: 51)

So come closer, draw near. Feel the warmth of His arms and the breath of His voice pouring over you. It is finished and there is room for us on the inside. 

 Now that I know what it feels like to be far, I’m so thankful for a God who draws us close.

 Happy Easter Sunday, friends.

 

Think Dirty

In honour of Natural Beauty Month, I am working hard to detox my life of harsh chemicals with high toxicity and carcinogenic properties. It’s actually my 2015 goal to live a cleaner, greener, more organic lifestyle. When I became pregnant last year I started questioning all the chemicals that we put into our bodies through our skin and by what we eat. Within minutes the chemicals in our products find their way into our bloodstream, contaminating our bodies with dangerous toxins. I’ve too many family friends who live healthy and active lifestyles that still succumb to cancer and I can’t help but wonder if its the products in our bathrooms and vanity shelves that are killing us?

One tool that I’ve discovered in my quest for a cleaner lifestyle is the Think Dirty App. Created by some incredibly clever folks in Toronto, the Think Dirty project was designed to inform consumers of the hormone disrupters in our beauty and personal care products, often causing breast cancer, infertility and other forms of cancer. Unlike the food industry, the cosmetic industry is unregulated and there is little transparency for the ingredients of products, even for items labeled as “natural” or “organic”.

As a consumer I find all this incredibly frustrating and its not always easy to find safe and effective alternatives for myself and my family. Enter the Think Dirty App. This handy little guy is a constant companion on my iPhone, enabling me to enlist his help whenever I am shopping for new products. I can regularly be found scanning an entire aisle in the drug store or cosmetic boutique, searching for the best and safest product that is worthy of my hard earned dollars. I believe in making informed decisions and the Think Dirty App is my guide on this journey to wellness and truly healthy living.

The other day I was in The Body Shop because the eczema on my dry hands was causing me discomfort and with their “green” marketing I was hopeful to find a safe solution. The friendly sales staff greeted me as I entered and was quick to answer my questions. I was assured that the entire store was safe with 98% organic ingredients in all the products. Feeling hopeful, I picked up The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector, a hand lotion that I had been recommended by others who also suffered from eczema. With a quick scan I discovered that this so-called “organic” lotion scored a 9/10 on the Think Dirty App, mainly for its developmental and reproductive toxicity levels, although its carcinogenicity level was also notably high.

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I left the store disappointed.

Thankfully the Think Dirty App does not leave me hanging but offered a safe solution for a similar product that did not leave me at risk for developing cancer or disrupting valuable developmental and reproductive hormones. The app also provides a direct link to Amazon so that I can easily find better products if I choose to give them a try and incorporate them into my daily life.

(To be fair to The Body Shop, there may be products that scored higher yet the majority of the products that I picked up and scanned before I left were all in the red.)

Clearly, we have a long way to go. I foresee many more product reviews in the future as I continue on this journey to more holistic, natural and organic living. Join me?

 

The 4th Trimester

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Well that’s it. My newborn is growing up! We have officially completed the fourth trimester and I’ve never had three months move so quickly in all my life. Its been hard and wonderful all at the same time. I’ve learned, he’s grown and Chris still can’t believe we have a baby! Through all the diaper changes, sore nipples, crying sessions and late nights, I kind of miss my newborn baby!

Here’s some of the things that I found made those early days a little easier and the stories that go along with them:

NüRoo Swaddler $25

I found this during a trip to Colorado when I was 15 weeks pregnant and it has been a total lifesaver every night. Chayton does.not.stop.moving. We also have the Woombie but the NüRoo is by far my favourite because it keeps his arms securely in place so that he can’t twitch and wake himself up every five minutes. With three different sized pockets, the NüRoo grows as Chayton does and the leg pockets are wide enough to relax his knees or kick his legs. And with the velcro arm flaps, our little escape artist is snug and secure all night long!

The Honest Company Organic Nipple Balm $14

From the beginning I wanted to breastfeed Chayton. I knew all the nutritional, cognitive and relational benefits that breastfeeding can bring. Naively, I had a blissful image of us together in the rocking chair- him nursing to contentment while I gazed lovingly down to my sweet baby. Unfortunately this was not the case. Chayton was born with a tongue tie  that effected his ability to establish a proper latch. The damage was extensive, forcing us to hand express colostrum and milk into a spoon to feed him. I cried hard, ugly tears and felt like a failure when the pain became too much. I’m embarrassed to admit that some nights Chris would bring our baby to me, crying and searching for milk, and wouldn’t want to feed him, even though I always did.

Truthfully, I was ready to quit. Formula looked so appealing. Yet God hears the tiny, desperate prayers whispered into the darkness and when the morning rose, the pain was gone.

Now we have a beautiful nursing relationship. His tongue tie was fixed, the pain has never returned and he’s a healthy, solid little boy with consistent weight gain.

I’m so grateful to my husband, parents and midwives for literally standing by me during those intense first weeks. I wouldn’t have made it through without them. And organic nipple balm. Thank you Jesus for organic nipple balm.

New Mama Bottom Spray $15

Earth Mama Angel Baby is easily one of my most favourite companies for anything pregnancy or postpartum related. Not only is everything organic but its just really lovely. I credit my fast healing to an incredibly skilled and patient birth team, padsicles, a squeeze bottle and this little spray of refreshing goodness!

Usana BabyCare Essentials $54

Okay, these vitamins are technically for pregnancy but you need good nutrition even after baby has been born! Everyday I have a twice-daily routine of BabyCare Essentials, BiOmega, Active Calcium chewable and Vitamin D, because with breastfeeding, I’m basically taking over where the placenta left off.

Maya Wrap Baby Sling $80 / MOBY Wrap $45

I’m going to keep this short: Every Mama needs to Babywear. I’ll get into all the details at a later date or else this will be a very very long post but just trust me on this, a baby carrier of some kind is an absolute must. Baby happy, free hands, close cuddles. Just trust me and get a baby wrap of some kind! I’ve listed two of my favourite brands above.

Sensé Firming Body Nourisher $24

Let’s be honest. Postpartum bodies take some getting used to.  After nine months of dedication, I wanted to hydrate and reward my body and my skin for a job well done. This lotion stands above the rest because it contains Proteo-C and Proflavanol-T complexes to nourish your skin while luxurious shea butter and Ceramide 3 soothe, firm, and replenish essential moisture. It’s a dream for postpartum skin.

{DAVIDsTEA} Tea My Baby  Cost determined by weight sold

Because as a breastfeeding mom, I’m always concerned about keeping up my milk supply to meet the demands of my growing boy’s needs. Although I usually didn’t find time to drink tea until it was already cold, this blend was loaded with fennel and fenugreek- two herbs known to boost milk production. As an added bonus, it also included cocoa, because chocolate…is chocolate.

Young Living Lavender Oil $35

It took at least six weeks to establish an effective bedtime routine but ours is actually quite simple. Once we notice a few yawns from Chayton, we’ll change his diaper, put on jammies, have a little playtime to tire him out and swaddle him snug. After that I’ll put a few drops of lavender oil into the diffuser for a cool mist of relaxing fragrance into the air. We lie tummy to tummy on the bed and I nurse him until he peacefully falls asleep. The whole routine works wonders and we went from hours of endless crying to a peaceful bedtime.

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Oh sweet, tiny boy! Part of me wishes that I could relive those precious first days. I’m thankful for all the photos and videos that we took because newborn days are such a blur. I can’t believe how much he’s already grown, all the skills he’s learned and how much he has already changed. If these three months have gone so fast, I can’t imagine how the next years will be!

//Photos by Alyssa Kellert Photography

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