Birthing Centers in Ontario Canada

New to Ontario, but not new to Quebec or Manitoba, is the opening of two birth centers – run by midwives and acting as a pilot project, which if successful will likely change how women give birth in Ontario.

“On Tuesday, Ontario women moved a step closer to having that third option when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced plans to launch the province’s first two birth centers.” (Toronto Star)

A birth center is a place where women can give birth with a midwife, aimed at expectant mothers who want to give birth naturally within a community setting. Many women do not want to be in a hospital, but are also not comfortable giving birth at home. A birthing center would offer another option for them to consider. Continue reading

Safely Ever After – A Safety Resource for Parents

Safety is a subject that all parents worry about. It is also a subject where most of us need some guidance or at least a refresher. Having some safety tools in your parenting tool-box can relive some of the tension and offer empowerment. This is why we had to introduce you to the amazing web-site, Safely Ever After by mom & certified prevention educator Pattie Fitzgerald. She offers practical, down-to-earth strategies for keeping our kids safe.

As she says, “there is more to keeping kids safe than just teaching the stranger-danger concept.” She takes a positive, no-fear approach and challenges traditional safety-strategies. One of her tips is to teach kids which strangers are safe: “If you kids get separated from you at the mall, tell her to flag down the first mom with kids she sees.” In other words, other moms are safe strangers. Another thing to tell kids according to Fitzgerald: safe grownups don’t ask kids for help!! (They go to other grownups if they need assistance). Good one!

Fitzgerald’s web-site offers tips and safety rules for kids. She also has a “did you know?” section which is devoted to teaching parents about predators. Importantly, she helps parents know what they should tell their kids and encourages open dialogue between parent and child. She also encourages parents and kids to go with their gut feelings. When you get a bad feeling about someone, trust your instincts! Also, listen to your kids when they get a bad feeling because they might be picking up on something that you’ve missed.

Check out Safely Ever After [here].

The Wooly Owl

The Wooly Owl was created by owner and operator, Alissa Tarita-Havenaar from Muskoka Ontario because she believes that babies, moms and the earth deserve the best. Her company uses sustainable materials, like organic cotton and reclaimed wool fibers to create truly unique items for earth-conscientious families.

Alissa Tarita-Havenaar’s company was created from her own personal desire to live from the land and to offer reusable, biodegradable alternatives to many of the items used by moms, such as nursing pads. Her goals include keeping materials as local as possible. In her quest to be sustainable, Alissa uses 100% wool materials and organic cotton knits, organic flax seed, and biodegradable materials. She also uses recycled (aka upcycled materials) like vintage buttons. Materials, like vintage buttons add to the uniqueness of her pieces.

Alissa’s business is a one-woman enterprise and out of her creativity is born one-of-a-kind items, made by her, for moms and babies. Her business represents her commitment to the planet and helping others to live a chemical-free life. We just had to talk to Alissa about her business, her values and her future goals.

NaturalMommy: Alissa, what are some of the reasons why you use local materials in the products you create?

Alissa: There are a few reasons. First, it keeps the cost of materials low. I purchase all of my wools from local second-hand stores. Convenient since at present I can walk to the store, (saving gas money from my pocket and from added carbon emissions into the air,) and second, all donations to the stores will usually be made by the local people in the community. Thus, the materials in their own way are from the community made back into items for the community. I was purchasing organic cotton form the United States, but have since decided to go strictly with recycled materials over organic. Although there is a huge market right now for things strictly certified organic, I feel that buying used over newly organic is genuinely a greener choice. The material is already there and does not require raw materials to be processed weather organically or not. Continue reading

Apple Juice or Arsenic Juice?

As some of you might have already heard from Dr. Oz, there have been suspicions of high levels of arsenic (and lead) in fruit juice – especially apply.

Unfortunately, (released recently from ABC news, link below) these suspicions have been confirmed. Trace levels of naturally-occurring arsenic is safe, however we are not discussing trace levels of naturally occurring arsenic. We are talking about an elevated level which may result in long term illness and development delays. Levels found in many of the fruit juices on the market exceed the healthy levels for human consumption. In fact, these levels are higher than the US government allowance in water.

Many fruit juice companies are claiming that they are not responsible for regulations – instead it is the government’s job to set the threshold for arsenic levels in juice. Right now most governments have no regulations for arsenic in juices. Perhaps because until now, this has not been an apparent issue (thank you Dr. Oz!). Continue reading

Growing Up Wild with Kelly Engel

Kelly Engel is a busy mom, to say the least! She is the owner, creator and mom behind Growing Up Wild, an eco-friendly baby clothing company. Kelly is truly a marvel since in addition to being a mommy, running her amazing business, she also makes pottery and worked as an elementary school teacher. We had to talk to Kelly about her biz and being a mom. We just loved what she had to say, so we are sharing it with you!

Growing Up Wild can be found [here].

(NM): What is it like for you to balance being a mom and a business owner? What are some of the challenges that you face and how do you balance your time?

(Kelly): Being a mom is the most rewarding experience that has happened to me. I am enjoying every minute (even the new found temper tantrums) of my 19-month old Jonathan’s life. Running my own business out of my home has allowed me to be there for life’s simpler moments. I try to work solely during his naps or after he is in bed at night. During peak times I fill in the gaps when my husband is home with my son in the evenings or on weekends. So far we are able to make it work but I would be lying if I said that it was easy. I am not very good at carving any time out for myself and this has led to a few tears when I go beyond my max. Fortunately my husband has learned to see this coming and insists that I take a bath, a hike or sit for a quiet cup of coffee before that happens.

What are some of the benefits to buying items directly from those who make it?

I love supporting the homemade movement whenever possible. In particular I seek out fellow work at home moms or dads when I can. I have found that buying directly from the person that creates an item has an entirely different feeling. I am not just supporting a factory oversees. I am directly putting food on a family table, sending a child to dance class, paying for doctors bills or helping someone to purchase their first home. Many of these purchases have led to rewarding friendships. In my experience the items have all been extremely high quality and you can feel the love and attention to detail put into each piece. Continue reading

Mod Mum – Organic Baby Sling

Lisa Kalberer is a mommy from Austin Texas. She started Mod Mum, a baby sling company for modern moms. Her product line has expanded to include maternity gowns, newborn pillow support and baby slings for dads.

“I have designed our baby slings for optimum comfort, while our designer fabrics help every mom to feel hip and chic as she carries her baby. I want all Moms to experience a convenient and comfortable way to have their baby close, yet still have the ability to get things done.”

We just love her organic baby slings, featured in image. Check out her etsy show found [here] for information on ordering her wonderful products.

Way to go Lisa!

Are you a mom who makes a natural product for other moms or for babies? Let us know about you!

Need A Good Night Sleep?

We are very excited to introduce to you (if you have not met her already) Elizabeth Pantley. Her two books, The No-Cry Sleep Solutions for toddlers and preschoolers and her first book for babies (featured in image) are truly revolutionary. Pantley offers a much needed view on helping your child to sleep.

We all know that parents need their sleep to function. However, most sleep books and advice call for methods that simply do not work for compassionate parents who are not willing to let their child “cry-it-out” in a dark room by themselves until they learn how to “self-sooth”. The problem with that method is that we really don’t know if children have learned to self-sooth or if they have just learned that we as parents will not come to them. In other words, what we Interpret as self-soothing may actually be them giving up and internalizing abandonment.

One of the best parts of her book for toddlers is giving moms the empowerment to stop nursing their toddlers all night, while still co-sleeping if they want to.

If you are still not sleeping after reading Pantley’s books, you can also try hiring a Sleep Doula.

Tracy Ruiz, a Sleep Doula helps parents and kids get good night sleeps. She illustrates that a healthy happy household means that everyone gets sleep, when that isn’t happening, it might be time to call in a Sleep Doula.

We disagree with Tracy’s choice of baby care. At naturalmommy, we encourage more natural baby care like Sacred Lotus, Burt’s Bees or another local-hand-made variety that is chemical free and much more gentle on baby’s delicate skin.

Clip below is Ruiz interviewed on CTV Edmonton. Thanks for some good tips Tracy!

Raising Elijah by Biologist & Mom Dr. Sandra Steingraber

We could not be more excited to introduce the book: Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis by mother and biologist Sandra Steingraber. She reveals that there is a large disconnect between the research about chemicals and the chemical regulatory system. In other words, we know that certain chemicals are bad for humans and the ecosystem but because of the way the legal system is set up, these chemical are not banned from the market place. As parents there are now two talks we need to have with our children, one is the age old: where do babies come from? This story is about creation. The other story, according to Steingraber is about the environment. This story is the opposite of creation. It is about the de-creation of our planet and does not have a happy ending unless we do something heroic.

Steingraber passionately explains on her podcast on the CBC’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti [found here] that the North American legal and social system presumes chemicals are innocent until proven guilty. This is a severe threat to our ability to protect our families. Only 5 chemical substances have been removed from the market place, while there are thousands currently in our food, on our cloths and in the bodies of our children.

The Toxic Substances Control Act was founded in 1976, yet no chemicals have been taken off the market since 1990. The fact is that the regulatory system was not made to be responsive to new science in the US and Canada. Tremonti adds, that in the European Union they operate on the precautionary principle which means that chemicals can’t be used until proven safe which is the opposite of the legal system in Canada and the US.Steingraber reveals that there are many pesticides that are banned in Europe because of the detrimental effect on children but are currently being sold in Canada and the US. This is simply hair-raising for Canadian and American parents. Continue reading

NorthernMom Cloth Diapers

NorthernMom is a hand-made cloth diaper company located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada.

Owned and operated by Samantha Levesque, mother of four (with one on the way!) whose passion is to manufacture custom one-size cloth diapers and share them with other parents. Samantha also enjoys making baby gifts, such as receiving blankets, knits and crochet baby hats.

NorthernMom produces easy to use cloth diapers. There are two rows of snaps ensuring a more customized fit in both the belly and leg, adjustable snaps on the rise and a cross over snap for smaller babies.

We also love NorthernMom’s re-usable baby wipes which come in a variety of fabrics such as: bamboo fleece, bamboo velour, and cotton velour. We got a chance to chat with Samantha about her biz. Check out her interview below. You can also find her on-line shop on etsy.

(NM): People often have a real aversion to using cloth diapers. How easy is it really and what would you say to people who think it is not for them?

(Samantha): My husband was one of those people. He was really apprehensive about starting, mostly because of the ‘ick’ factor. But within a few days he was right in there changing the kids with no problems. The best advice is to just try it out. You’ll find it is very similar to using disposables. These are not your Mother’s (and Grandmother’s) style of cloth diapers! Continue reading

Nothing Is New

In the Greenpeace Living Guide, it is revealed that “nothing is new”. What does that mean? It means that when we purchase items, whatever it may be, it comes from somewhere and “products are trailing strands of the most urgent narratives on the planet today: neo-liberal economic globalization, colonialism, ancient forest destruction, toxic pollution, climate change.” (116) In other words, everything is connected, everything comes from somewhere and everything is made from something else (and whatever that something else is, it is not new, indeed it is ancient and a part of the eco-system). Things are made from precious resources (often non-renewable or easily replaced) and connected to larger issues, like the corporate-globalization of our communities and health of the environment. The Greenpeace Living Guide states that we simply cannot “find the answers to the questions of economic injustice and environmental destruction in shopping. We will find it in political change.” (116)

We all know that people need things like clothing, food and household items to live comfortably. We cannot stop shopping altogether, but we can shop differently. We can shop greenly and we can shop aware. Shopping aware means understanding the impact the item in question might have when purchasing. Shopping aware also means making different choices, like buying in bulk in order to save on packaging (and money too!) or buying locally in order to support our communities and limit fossil fuel pollution. It also means working for positive political change that can protect our resources for many generations to come, even if it is through simple actions like asking our super markets to carry a particular green product or buying non-toxic cleaning supplies. Many people think that buying/living green means spending more money. Where food is concerned, that can be true – however buying green is often the cheaper option. It is more affordable because being green means buying used, re-purposing things you already have and going without things you don’t need.

Shopping with the planet in mind mean asking yourself the question: Do I really need this? If the answer is no, then the financial savings and savings to the environment are immense. Getting a “deal” at a dollar store or a department store on something that you don’t need (or really even want) is not actually saving you money. It makes you think you are, but truly you are “saving” your way into an empty bank account. The next thing is buying used items, like clothing which are not only the greener option but the more affordable one too. In addition to keeping items out of landfills and keeping more unnecessary things from being made, buying used is also better for your health because used items have less or no chemical residue, chemicals have usually dissipated or have been washed off. Used clothing is especially good for kids and babies because they go through clothing quite fast, so used clothing is a huge money saver. This is where I should mention how important sharing is. Giving away your kids cloths and toys to a younger family member or friend with kids is not only kind, but truly valuable to other moms.

Buying items from the people who make them is also greener. Buying local jams, for example is greener then driving to the department store and buying jam made by someone else, some where else. Further to that, make it yourself! Re-purposing or making things by hand offers a level of creativity that cannot be bought. It is also a great way to engage kids to do activities that are good for their mental stimulation while building long-term skills. It is also an excellent way to start the conversations with kids about the state of the environment, in a way that is positive and empowering rather then disheartening.

Another issue (explored in the video below) is that affluent countries are consuming more than their share and more than they share. Many scientists are saying that there is a finite amount of resources to go around and many countries use more then they need and leave other people and communities with less than they need. In that regard, buying less “new” items is not only an environmental action, but a social one.

When we constantly consume we are not addressing our deeper individual feelings and desires. We are not looking at the “why”. The “why” is often the feeling of needing something because of an internal void or not-so-hot self image wherein we believe that we should have an item which in some way will make us more likable or better than we are (often done unconsciously). We have been conditioned to believe that shopping will make us better to others or to ourselves, but that is just the calculated, highly studied and utilized power of advertising. So, don’t be fooled. Loosing money and hurting the planet for the “newest” car, gadget or item will not bring personal fulfillment, just a temporary high. Doing the work to love yourself unconditionally (with or without material wealth) will bring deep satisfaction and joy.

The Greenpeace Living Guide can be purchased [here], however it’s greener to find it used, borrow it from a friend or the library. Learn more about Greenpeace and how to donate to them [here].

Video: The Story of Stuff, created by Annie Leonard reviews the stuff we buy, use then throw away. View website [here].