Defining Motherhood

Brandie Weikle, a long-time parenting editor and writer created The New Family to speak to a new generation of parents. The blog is a resource for today’s modern family and the 1,000 Families Project was born from Brandie’s own modern family and is an inspiring collection of stories highlighting the many ways we can be a family.

Today my story is featured on The New Family and I am grateful for the opportunity. Writing this essay allowed me to reflect on my experiences as a mother and how I define motherhood for myself.   Thank you Brandie!

_______________________________________

I always knew that I wanted to have children, but I didn’t know that I wanted to be a mother until my first son was 5 months old.

I was a child of the eighties and early nineties. Latchkey kids were commonplace; I can’t remember a single mother who wasn’t juggling work with raising a family. A frozen pizza pocket and a reminder note to take the dog for a walk is what greeted most of us after school. The few moms who were not bringing home the bacon were buried deep in text books studying for a Masters degree in nursing, social work or education.

When I learned that I was pregnant for the first time, I was heady, simply thrilled that I was growing a life, a little boy half me and half my husband. While I debated the merits of cloth diapers versus disposable, and formula feeding over breastmilk, I never once doubted my plan to return to teaching the fifth grade just ten months after my son was born.

I had gulped down the Kool-Aid, just as many of my key-wearing friends had done. I consumed every ounce, licked every drip.

To continue reading, click here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Beth-Anne with her son, age 5 months.

Having a baby? Going to a baby shower? We’ve got the latest in baby gear!

It’s safe to say that the three mothers are past the stage of babies, diapers and midnight feedings but we know that not all of our readers are. We’ve relied on our own experiences and we’ve tapped some 4th mothers … Continue reading

Family History: a map for the adventure of life

larch-forest-358059_640Last month I had an incredible experience. I was present for the birth of my nephew. It’s not the first birth I’ve been present for, I have three sons of my own, but it is the first where I was fully overwhelmed by the intensity of the situation. I wasn’t listening for my cue to push or holding my breath and bearing down. I was just there, committed to the moment, and as trite as it sounds, witnessing the miracle life. And what a miracle it is.

When my nephew took his first breath I was unprepared for the flood of emotions. Unlike the birth of my own children, at a time when my adrenaline was pumping and my heart exploding with love and gratitude, I was enveloped by a fury of anxiety and devotion. This perfect little person came into the world more loved than most with years of life to live.

And life can be messy. Life can hurt.

But knowing family that will always support him and stand by him through the valleys and peaks of life, will give him the courage to get messy. To get hurt.

When we’re born, we’re born into a family with complexities, eccentricities and deep-rooted psychologies. We’re not simply a mash-up of genetic material. We’re a complicated, mash-up of generations upon generations.

And if for nothing else, preserving my family’s history serves as a map for the adventure of life.

Gerry Dee’s Tour: You Gotta See It!

About a year ago, I saw my first stand-up comedy show in Las Vegas and I loved it.   To celebrate my birthday, I asked my husband to forgo the fancy dinner out and take me to the local comedy club. We still did the dinner, courtesy of my brother and his wife, and the four of us made our way to the 11 pm show at Absolute Comedy.

Seeing live performances, be it Shakespeare in the park, a big-budget flashy musical or a lone comic standing at a mic, is electrifying. The performers have logged many hours honing their craft and their moment of truth is when they take the stage.

When it feels off, like the marks are missed or cadence wavers, my stomach usually knots and I feel a mixture of anxiety, embarrassment and disappointment for the performers. But with that, I always feel admiration. They put themselves out there to be judged, albeit harshly when the price of a ticket is attached, and I simply don’t have the chutzpah to do that.

But last night, the four of us went to see homegrown comedian, challenger on Last Comic Standing and star of his own eponymous CBC show, Gerry Dee and everything clicked.

Gerry Dee took the stage at historic Massey Hall and after being introduced by his solid opener Graham Chinden, his 90-minute set was an enjoyable ride!

Dee’s bits are taken from his life as a former teacher, dad to three young children and husband to a levelheaded, east coaster who is the perfect yin to his yang.

His banter is relatable; relationships are universal and if you’re not a parent, you’ve been a kid.

When you see a consummate performer like Dee, whose polished routine fails to falter, the energy in the room becomes exhilarating. A good performance brings about a high for the audience, and in the case of last night with 2,600 people united by laughter the room buzzed.

It’s no wonder it feels so good to experience a release of energy through laughter. The Mayo Clinic sites the short-term benefits as endorphin enriching, stress reducing and muscle relaxing. Need proof? The elevated people exiting from the crowded theatre did so with nary a kerfuffle.

Laughing Canadians = very gracious folk.

Gerry Dee is on a national tour and you’ve gotta see it!  Check if he’s coming to your city by clicking here.

And I leave you with my favourite bit from the night.

Attention Toronto Parents: The Great Kids Stuff Sale is coming!

11120553_10153243999317269_1724565510_nIt’s that time again!  The North Toronto MOMS Group is hosting their bi-annual Great Kids Stuff Sale.  This large-scale mom-to-mom consignment sale benefits several charities in the Greater Toronto Area which is just one of the reasons that make this a must-check-out event.

In the past, I have picked up two bikes for $20, a pair of all-leather, never worn shoes for a baby for $5, an almost new GAP coat for $8 as well as a bag of clothes for less than $50.

It’s the perfect place to pick up baby gear for a fraction of the price.  Bumbos for $10, Bjorns for $20, strollers for a less than a third of the retail value!  There are mounds of clothing, stacks of books and so many toys that it could easily take hours to sort through it all.

Here are my insider tips for you:

–        Arrive early.  The doors open at 9 am and there is always a line-up.

–        Bring a large bag to carry around your finds.

–        Have a plan of what you are looking for.  The sale can be overwhelming so it’s better to know what you’re looking for before you get lost in the piles.

–        If you can, leave babies and kids at home as the sale can get crowded

–        Become a vendor!  Clear out the outgrown clothing and never played with toys that are cluttering up your home.  It’s not uncommon for vendors to make hundreds of dollars!

SATURDAY, APRIL 25 from 9:00 am – Noon @ St. Clement’s Church (70 St. Clements Avenue, at Duplex)

11123620_10153244002907269_1089574694_n

Just check out the rows and rows of clothes!  Everything is organized by gender and size so finding what fits your little ones is much easier.  Shoes, formal wear, and outer wear are also separated so make sure you know what sizes you’re looking for!

It really is a sea of clothing!  The first two rows have bedding, receiving blankets and room decor.  It’s not uncommon to find the original price tags still on sheet sets.

11051235_10153243999327269_1389430677_n

Need a bouncy chair?  How about an extra one for the upstairs or grandma’s house?  For $15 or less, it’s hard to say no.

11101938_10153243999322269_1853857274_n-1

And you thought your toy room had lots of stuff!  Toys run the gamut from baby to six years old.  Games, puzzles, books, DVDs, – if your kid wants it, it’s here!

It’s Shower Season! Top Baby Gifts You Need To Give.

Last week I wrote about my nephew’s impending arrival. Thank you to everyone who gave their two cents on which print to buy for his nursery. I am close to deciding, so if you haven’t had the chance to weigh-in, click here. The print I decide on will be posted to our Instagram page in about 10 days.

Having a baby in the springtime seems poetic. Birth and renewal of life are everywhere in nature and evident among us humans too, as mothers and young children reclaim the parks and sidewalks. I had my middle son on April 1, and fully appreciated the warmer weather and the longer days.

In anticipation of the newest addition to our family, I am co-hosting a baby shower for my sister-in-law. In just a few short years the number of products for baby has exploded exponentially! I know that there are many gimmicky products promising mothers everything from easy diaper changes to silent nights and as a seasoned mom, I tend to roll my eyes at many of them. There are products that all moms claim they couldn’t have survived the baby years without. For me, it was the bouncy chair. I wish that I had the foresight to put one on every floor of the house. I always thought that I would carry my babies in slings and carriers but alas, my dream was shattered when not one of them liked being carried in such a way. Go figure, they had distinct likes and dislikes from the very beginning!

Moms, what would you add to the “must-have” list for baby’s arrival?  Leave a comment.

I have rounded up a few of my favourite baby gifts from the tried and tested to the shiny and new.

When I buy a baby gift, I often stick to the registry for the basics: things everyone needs and everyone has a strong opinion about. Glass bottles vs. plastic? Sippy cups? Pacifiers? Better stick to what mom-to-be wants. No new mama wants to be returning anything in the days after baby is born.

I also like to splurge on fun things that parents aren’t necessarily going to buy for themselves. This “bear skin” rug from Pottery Barn Kids is a perfect example of a play mat that can be plopped down anywhere in the house for little one’s tummy time, and it’s just really cute, right?

img17c

I was shocked by the amount of laundry baby produced when I was a new mom. In particular, it was the mountainous number of receiving blankets covered in throw-up and spilled milk. I like these Aden & Anais classic swaddle blankets that are 100% natural cotton muslin.

813701013381

Sophie the Giraffe. Need I say more? Worth every cent of her $30.00.

882709010937_hi

Hooded towels are undeniably cute, but I prefer classic monogrammed towels that can be used for many years. These towels from Pottery Barn Kids, were gifted to me at my baby shower more than 8 years ago, and they are still in rotation.

img75o

Speaking of gifts that grow, Skip Hop makes diaper bags that are stylish, functional and will be used long after baby is out of diapers.   The Duet 2-in-1 Diaper Tote and the Out & About are perfect examples of bags that work for storing diapers, quick changes and extra bottles, but their sleek design and sophisticated colours will transition nicely to a carry-on, an overnight bag or a gym tote. In celebration of baby shower season and Skip Hop’s new must-have diaper bags, from April 6-13, buy any Skip Hop item from Indigo and get a Skip Hop accessory at 25% off.

879674020603

879674019669

It seems impossible that baby, who is so tiny, will soon be eating foods at the table. Also by Skip Hop is a collection of colourful melamine plates, utensils and food storage containers.

Books. Books. Books. I love giving books. Recently as a baptismal gift, I bought 20 of my favourite childhood books. Inside each book I wrote a note. For example, I bought Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and inside the book I wrote, My Dearest Katherine: Because we all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Just remember that you are so very loved!

I also bought Fancy Nancy and wrote: My Dearest Katherine: Because sometimes being fancy is fun!

It’s my favourite gift that I have ever given and I hope to give it again very soon.

There are also gifts to be treasured. Among my most precious are handmade blankets and clothing. I wish that I had the skill to craft something for my nephew because it’s these gifts that I am most moved by. Somethings can’t be bought; if you have the skill, use it!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for snaps from the baby shower. You’re not going to want to miss it!

For Your Calendar: The Baby Time Show Prenatal to Preschool comes to Mississauga’s International Centre, Hall 5 from April 24-26. For more information, including ticket prices, visit their website.

Building a Maternity Wardrobe from Scratch by guest blogger, Aly Tsourounis

Our guest today is Aly Tsourounis of the blog The Newlywed Life, a lifestyle blog for the healthy living. Aly is a soon-to-be mom and she opens up about the surprises (shocks!?) of being pregnant, the information overload and the food cravings. Today Aly shares her favourite fashion finds for the expectant mom. Be sure to follow Aly on her blog as she chronicles life as a first-time mom.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Building a maternity wardrobe from scratch:

When I first got pregnant I was thrilled with idea of getting bigger and I planned on always showing off my perfect basketball bump in designer denim and fitted shirts. Spoiler alert, bumps aren’t adorable until at least month five and pregnancy boobs need their own postal code, plus maternity clothes are darn expensive. After some trial and error, a few unfortunate outfits and some credit card “discussions” with my husband, I have created a focused yet cute maternity wardrobe (see selfie photo evidence below). Here are my steps on how to create a maternity wardrobe from scratch.  2Q==-4

Step one – Identify your maternity wardrobe needs: On a weekly basis, I need four different “outfit types” – work, weekend lounge wear, workout wear and date night / night out. There is certainly some cross over but highlighting the different occasions that I needed clothes for helped me focus and discouraged me from buying too many striped long sleeve t-shirts when I only need one.

Step two – Assess your current wardrobe: I spent a weekend afternoon going through my entire closet and determined what would last me through my pregnancy and what needed to be put into storage. Things that stayed: blazers, cardigans, long tank tops, a couple stretchy tops / dresses and most of my workout gear. Be harsh, now is not the time to keep your skinny jeans or fitted LBD.

Step three – Create a list and a budget: This step involves numbers and is a bit boring but it is key, especially since you will be wearing this clothing for such a short period of time. My biggest money-saving tip is to consider sizing up in certain items, especially basics. For example, I bought a number of plain black and white size large tank tops from Forever 21 for $5 / a piece and I wear them daily. Why spend $50 when the $5 one can do the trick? This also allowed me to splurge on a pair of dark denim designer jeans that I wear three times a week. Do your research and don’t get sucked into the everything must be maternity mindset.  2Q==-3

Step four – Go shopping!: The last step is obviously the most fun! There are tons of options out there when it comes to maternity clothes, from the traditional to the trendy so be sure to take your time shopping and don’t spend all your money in one place! I have found great pieces from a number of stores including Target (Liz Lange), H + M (regular), Motherhood Maternity, ASOS Maternity, Forever 21 and Ani & Wren.

Step five – Own it: Experiencing pregnancy is a beautiful thing but it can also be really hard to see your body go through so many changes. Having clothes that make you feel good can make a huge difference but remember, you wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you. So to all the pregnant mamas out there, hold your head up high and push those bellies out!  2Q==-5

Bedtime Stories: Glorious for all of 2 minutes . . .and then the fighting starts.

learning-422692__180I remember being pregnant with my first son. I was sure of a lot of things. I was sure that I would never let him sleep in my bed, bribe him to be on his best behaviour or lose my cool during a temper tantrum.

I was also steadfast in my belief that I would read to my children every night. I had visions of us curled on the bed, propped up with pillows and covered in a fluffy duvet. The boys would lull off to sleep with visions of Peter, Tinkerbell and Captain Hook as I would sneak out of the room and head downstairs, settle into my favourite chair with a cup of hot chocolate and my novel of the moment.

And since then I have eaten more than my fair share of humble pie while buying another package of Sponge Bob Band-Aids just to escape the drugstore with a few less tears.

I was pregnant with my second son when my first son turned 6 months old. I battled through first trimester exhaustion all while getting up at least once a night to feed. The bedtime ritual was simple: try to stay awake long enough to put the baby down in his crib.

My second son was a screamer. He cried all day long but really turned it on between 7 and 9 in the evening. Every night he would bawl; his face mottled and his voice hoarse. We tried everything that every book, website and expert recommended. Eventually we resorted to laying him in his crib and blasting Andrea Bocelli from a disc player. These were desperate times. As baby #2 grew hysterical, baby #1 was cranky, tired, and pulling at my leg. The bedtime ritual wasn’t so simple: bath, change, bottle and bed all with one hand, and wailing in my ear.

Eventually the crying stopped, I developed a bad case of amnesia and got pregnant for a third time, with my third son.

Baby #1 was now three years old (and still waking up in the night), Baby #2 was 2 years old (and had mercifully reserved his crying periods to other times of the day) and I would start counting down to bedtime around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, compulsively checking the time. By 7:30 the bedtime ritual began: I would push them into bed with a kiss on the cheek, only to collapse onto the couch with a sigh. I had made it through another day.

I know the benefits of reading to children. And I do. But not at bedtime. None of us do well at the end of the day. When I try to read a bedtime story everything is glorious for all of about 2 minutes and then it starts: jockeying for position closest to me, complaints over the story choice, whining over whose turn it is to choose the book, someone’s breathing on someone, someone’s touching someone, someone’s foot is fidgeting. Nerves are shot, tensions are high and the tears start.

Instead we read on a Saturday afternoon, waiting for swimming lessons to start or the doctor to call our name. I keep the novel, currently Stuart Little, in my over-sized purse (also something I was never going to do as mom) to pull out at those ordinary times transforming them into those special, unplanned moments that really make up motherhood.

Ladies, It’s Time To Ditch Those Granny Panties!

boyshortIt’s August and even though the weather here in Toronto hasn’t exactly been summery these past few weeks, it’s definitely warmer than the wintery polar vortex that swept the northeast only a few months ago.

The month of July at 4Mothers was all about learning, but for the month of August we’re turning up the heat, and embracing steamy summer nights!

Let’s start off with an underwear refresh. It’s time to ditch those granny panties and discover some beautiful options that are made for real women by real women. I did it (you can read about it here) and you can do it too. Your partner will thank us.

Knix Wear

Joanna Griffiths is the founder and hands-on visionary behind these high-tech knickers.  Joanna learned about the realities of real women’s bodies, specifically the challenges many women face post-pregnancy, from talking with her mother, a doctor.  When Joanna became aware that one third of women will experience some bladder leakage at some point in their lifetime, she set out to revolutionize women’s underwear.  Not believing that a little bit of leakage should condemn a woman to wearing ugly panties to accommodate bulky drugstore pads, Joanna built-up a team of expert professionals to make her dream of creating seamless undergarments for women that don’t roll, have built-in leak resistance, have anti-odor and moisture wicking technology, all while still being beautiful and flattering to all bodies.  Sound like a tall order?  Well, Joanna succeeded with Knix Wear and now women can feel sexy and confident. Nude boyshort

Knix Wear is available in a variety of colours, styles (bikini, boy short, thong and high rise) and fabrics, from athletic to lacy. Sizes from XS-XXL.  Priced from $22-$38.  Sign-up for their newsletter and get $10 off your first purchase! 

Highrise

Mayana Genevière

I don’t think that I have ever met someone as passionate about women’s undergarments as Nadine, founder of Mayana Genevière.

After giving birth to her daughter, Nadine found herself disappointed with the selection of nursing bras: the one item a woman should never skimp on!  Everything she came across was either frumpy or hyper sexualized. She took it upon herself to create something not only beautiful but functional.  She designed the first of its kind, metal clasp-free nursing bra and when her friends caught a glimpse of it, they encouraged her to design a line of feminine undergarments, including shape wear, that are to be worn throughout the entire journey of womanhood. Gallery3_Empress420x420-May16-300x300

Her Canadian designs are well constructed with attention to detail such an adjustable hook & eye that allows you to choose your desired level of compression and every garment is made of the highest quality fabrics including organic cotton gussets. Nadine maintains that a woman’s undergarments should never roll or shift and it won’t happen so long as they are well made and fitted properly. “You’ll always look fabulous when you dress the body you have!” says Nadine and she’s made it her mission to celebrate women’s bodies and at the same time instill acceptance and confidence in her clients. To further her dream of developing a socially conscious brand, Nadine established Maternal Goddess, an organization dedicated to the education and awareness of postnatal maternal health.

Mayana-Geneviere-Opulence-collection1

A portion of every purchase from Mayana Genevière is contributed to this incredible platform that supports new mothers.

The brand will be available in the Fall at 7 boutiques in the Toronto area. Check the website for details in the coming weeks.

Bras are available in a variety of styles, including nursing from 32B to 42D.  Control panties available in sizes S-XXL.

Mayana-Geneviere-Opulence-Collection-Gallery-2-8001-300x300

Both Knix Wear and Mayana Genevière are both committed to using real women as models. Can we get a hallelujah? The last time I checked not every woman was a size flawless XS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of Knix Wear and Mayana Genevière.

 

No Mother’s Day?

Christy Turlington Burns, most of us know, is a model.  But she’s also a maternal health advocate who began a campaign called Every Mother Counts, an organization devoted to reducing maternal mortality.  The World Health Organization estimates that 360,000 girls and women die each year from complications related to children, most of which are preventable through basic, proven health care services.

To raise awareness about this issue, Turlington Burns proposes that in lieu of Mother’s Day, mothers band together for “No Mother’s Day”, encouraging mothers to “disappear” for the day,  “out of solidarity with those who needlessly die in pregnancy and childbirth.  We believe that in acting together, we can show just how much a mother is missed when she is gonefor the day in solidarity with those who needlessly die in pregnancy and childbirth.  We believe that in acting together, we can show just how much a mother is missed when she is gone.”

Without further ado, here is a two minute video clip, directed by her husband, shouting out about No Mother’s Day.

So we throw our weight behind this pressing, heart-breaking issue.

And then, from 4Mothers to you, we can’t help but wish you a very lovely Mother’s Day, for all you do, each and every day.