Monday, January 31, 2011

I am Not Alone

This week, Theta Mom wrote a great post entitled, You are Not Alone and I found myself nodding along with each and every point made, even though only one section refers to my reality.  The post was a gentle reminder about the struggles of motherhood that we all go through, every day, in some way or another.  It reminded me that each moment of frustration, no matter how small is valid and that its unlikely I am the first, or the last to experience the flood of emotion that ensues.

Unfortunately, despite all of this, I had a bit of a meltdown this weekend.  I'm the mediator in my family, so I generally pride myself on keeping things in control.  But, after the peanut incident last week the boy has been clingy and cranky to say the least and its been taking its toll on me.  He's not been eating much, he's been crying much more than usual and he's having trouble going and staying asleep, which of course means this pregnant Momma's not sleeping all that well either.

Saturday morning the boy had swimming lessons, so we had our breakfast, got geared up and went to the pool for our 8:30am lesson.  The boy walked up to his waist in the water, walked out and asked to go home, this was of course around the time that the class (and the screaming) started.  After 10 minutes of wailing, we left.  As I drove, the tears started streaming down my face and there was nothing I could do to stop them.

I was frustrated, upset and mad at the boy.  Of course this quickly translated into being both mad at myself and overcome with guilt that I would put all of my hormonal emotions onto my 22 month old son.

After a few hours away and a little quality time with my Momma, I remembered.

I am Not Alone.
It's ok to be frustrated.
It's ok to cry.
It's ok to ask for help.
It's ok to need time for myself.
It's ok to be mad.
...and most importantly, I am Not Alone.

To all the Momma's out there that are struggling today, You are Not Alone, either.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Going peanut free

Last Thursday, I returned from my lunch break to find my phone message light flashing and a text from the hubs stating 'Call me ASAP'.  I'm pretty positive in the 9.5 years we have been together, I have never heard him use the term ASAP.  I knew something was wrong and was instantly filled with worry.

I caught the hubs before he ran out the door to the hospital, but he gave me the lowdown.  The boy had found a peanut butter sandwich crust at my sister-in-laws and after simply touching it, he had an almost immediate reaction.  The skin on his hands became red and inflammed and the reaction kept spreading.  By the time my mother-in-law got him upstairs the redness spread past his wrist, by the time my sister-in-law grabbed a pen to mark the redness, it had reached his armpits.  They loaded him up on Benadryl and took him to the hospital (which is conveniently one block away).

Fortunately, there was no respiratory distress, which led the doctor to agree with my mother-in-laws observations that he hadn't actually ingested any peanut butter, however his reaction is considered anaphylactic.  It was only about 15 minutes from when he touched the peanut butter to when he was in the ER and by that time he was red up to the eyeballs.  The doctor gave him an epipen shot and some benadryl, which seemed to settle the inflamation, but within an hour an a half it was coming back.  They had to give him another epipen shot as well as a steroid to try and get the medication to 'stick'.  He threw up at this point, and cried from the shots, but after the second round of shots, he moved into recovery mode.

I was ready to bolt from the office when the hubs told me what happened, but he quickly encouraged me to stay rational and finish anything critical I was working on since I'd been out of office for the past two days and he was already one foot out the door.  It was hard to do, but it was a good decision.  The boy was well taken care of by his Daddy and his Aunty and I didn't have to stress about work when I took the next day off with the boy.

I didn't actually get to the hospital until after the second round of medication, but I did end up staying for about 4 hours until we saw the pediatrician and she discharged us.  For the next two days, the boy was cranky, itchy and red, but I gave him benadryl without hesitation to keep him comfortable.  Over the past week, his skin has been very sensitive and there seems to be a lot more redness and itching than normal.  We're going to the pediatrician for a follow-up tomorrow and she mentioned at the hospital that she will be referring us to an allergist.

I'm sad for the boy, that not only does he have another allergy, he has a severe, life-threatening allergy.  Eczema triggering allergies are manageable and if his allergies don't go away as he gets older, he will at least be in a position to weigh the enjoyment of eating 'forbidden' foods against the reaction.  With the peanuts however, its an entirely different situation.  Even though we are now armed with epipens and I know that nut allergies are increasingly common and manageable (my nephew and sister are both anaphylactic to hazelnuts), I still find myself thinking of all the food the boy will never get to experience and the difficulties this allergy will cause him as he ages.

I know so many of you are living with severe allergies yourself or in your family, and I know we live in a day and age where there are so many options available, but any words of wisdom on the topic would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance for sharing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion | Review & Giveaway

I have had friends, clients, just about anyone tell me about some amazing cream, or ointment that changed their lives, or “cured” their eczema. I've learned to take these recommendations with a grain of salt as I have rarely had one of these miracle 'creams' work as well for me as it has for them. I always wonder what his or her eczema is like, as everyone’s is different. Who am I to say that theirs isn’t as bad as mine, as it is a very damning disease regardless of how severe their condition is.

That being said, I am fully aware that another person's cure could one day be mine, so I was very excited to try Skin MD Natural as their website showed many pictures of people who have used the product and had it clear up their eczema/psoriasis tremendously. Personally, I have severe and sensitive eczema on my hands, and many milder patches all over my body.

Here are some facts about Skin MD Natural – Face, Hand & Body Shielding Lotion
  • Exceptionally enhances the skins hydration and protective abilities
  • Far more effective that conventional moisturizers
  • Promptly absorbs, transforming the outer layer of skin in a hydrating invisible shield
  • Finest natural ingredients together with a quantum advance in skin hydration
  • Regeneration is fully realized within a few days
The product directions read as follows: "apply a small amount, initially every 2-8 hours until moisture level improves, then just once every 12-24 hours”.

Following the instructions, I initially tried the cream on a fairly severe rash that had popped up on my arm, due to a high dairy intake a few days before. I applied a very small amount of Skin MD and then forgot all about it until the next day when I woke up and realized that the rash had decreased in both size and inflammation. When I told Amber about these results, I jumped at the chance to review the shielding lotion and try it out on my hands.

When you apply the cream, you only need a very small amount, a little goes a long way. It is not greasy at all and absorbs into the skin right away and feels almost as if there was nothing there. When I applied the lotion to my hands, which are red, sensitive and itchy the majority of the time, it did not burn or sting at all. In fact, the lotion was very soothing and immediately brought down the inflammation, and reduced my urge to scratch. That evening I applied the cream to all of my mild patches (arms, underarms, neck legs, and torso) before bed and applied it on top of my nightly cortisone cream regiment.

In the morning the mild patches on my body were barely noticeable; though the skin was still slightly raised and bumpy, there was no redness or itchiness present. Over the week I reviewed the product, the rashes on my body seem to be keeping in check with just a little bit of the Skin MD applied on a daily basis.

My hands are considered a very severe case of eczema and there are many factors that contribute to this. Due to the nature of my job as a stylist, my hands don’t get too much of a chance to heal, so its rare to find any product that I can even use on a regular basis. Skin MD was very soothing and effective at reducing redness and it did not irritate my hands at all. However, on the whole I did not feel that the product actually improved the eczema on my hands; as promised, my hands are less dry than usual, but as the week progressed, I felt the need to add back in a layer of Aquaphor in the evening to help provide a barrier and help heal the cracks on my hands.

I will continue to use Skin MD Shielding Lotion as it effectivley took away the itch in a way that I have never experienced without the use of a corticosteroid cream, which is absolutley amazing. I would highly recommend this product for someone who his mild to moderate eczema or for a child, because it did not sting, even on open wounds, had little to no smell at all, helped stop the itch and brought down the redness. I will be keeping a bottle in my purse and would absolutley purchase this product again.

Review by: Courtney

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Giveaway closes Sunday February 6th, 2011 at 8pm (PST). Winner will be determined by a random number generator. Winner will be notified via email and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new name will be drawn and contacted.

Contest now closed, congrats to our winner, comment #14 Jen!

Friday, January 21, 2011

5 Pregnancy Lessons I'm Re-learning

When you're pregnant there is a plethora of information available about what to expect as your pregnancy progresses.  Despite spending hours reading and talking with other momma's, there were still some aspects of pregnancy that surprised me when I was pregnant with the boy.  This time around, things feel a little bit 'old hat' so I haven't felt the need for so much research, I just skim my weekly babycentre emails and I'm trying to be comfortable with the inevitable changes that are happening.

That being said, there are still a few aspects of pregnancy, that I managed to forget, at least for a little while.  Now that I'm 23 weeks along, here are 5 Pregnancy Lessons I'm relearning.
  1. My belly rests in my lap when I pee
    With the boy, no one told me that at some point, I would actually feel the warmth of my belly against my thighs while I was peeing.  When it happened, it was so unexpected that it freaked me out.  Logically, it makes sense that this would happen, but I just didn't feel prepared.  When it happened this time, I had a moments of weirdness, but seriously, how could I have forgotten?
  2. Every body part that can change, will change
    Any book about pregnancy or person that's ever been pregnant (and even people who haven't) will tell you that your butt and boobs will get bigger, that your feet will swell and your body will never be the same.  But did you know your eyes can change too?  I don't wear my contacts often, but when I'm pregnant, they don't fit at all.  The shape of your eye can physically change and for me that means my contacts actually slide around on my eyes, making it pretty much impossible to function while wearing them.
  3. Don't congratulate yourself on a lack of stretchmarks, just yet
    They say that genetics are 90% responsible for pregnancy stretchmarks; my mom had 3 kids without a single stretchmark.  Given that information, when I was pregnant with the boy I was confident that with a diligent belly butter/bio oil regime I could avoid stretchmarks too.  I was wrong.  The first little speckles didn't appear until 34 weeks and although my stretchmarks stayed below the belly button, and they did eventually fade, I was not one of the lucky ones.  I must resist the urge to prematurely congratulate myself that I don't YET have any new stretchmarks, or I may find myself dissapointed in the near future.
  4. Stop wearing Non-Maternity tees
    I'm not sure why exactly, but I still have the urge to squeeze into my regular t-shirts; let me be clear, I however have no interest in sausaging into regular pants. The tees, I just seem to have an attachment to.  Even if they do fit, in mere moments they are stretched out for the belly and without that extra curve of fabric through the middle they just look sloppy.  Not to mention the fact that I won't be able to wear them again post-baby, since they'll be so stretched out.  Note to self, STOP wearing regular t-shirts, its not worth it. 
  5. Hot epsom salt baths are amazing
    On a more positive note, pregnancy is a wonderful excuse to have hot epsom salt baths nearly every night.  Except when I'm pregnant, I never use epsom salts, I'm not totally sure that they help all that much, but I can't resist dumping a ton into the bath and using it as an excuse to stay in the bath reading a book or magazine a little longer.  I mean, I wouldn't want to waste those epsom salts would I?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Seductively Fabulous Hair : How to control your curls

As promised, here is the first installment of our new addition to the Momma Stuff Blog, 'Seductively Fabulous Hair'. Our first reader question comes from Amy, who has a question I'm sure many of you can relate to.
My name is Amy, and I'm 34 y.o. I have always had a pretty plain haircut, and am not really "risky" with my hair. My hair is a little longer than shoulder length and very, VERY thick! It is curly, but I tend to straighten it. I want to get a little soft curl in, to have my hair "flow" better. And I want to get some more shine to my hair. Any suggestions for either? And, I love hair flare. Any suggestions on where to shop or what is stylish?
Joliet, IL.
Hello Amy,
I’m going to break down my responses Into three categories as there is never only one factor to why hair behaves the way it does!
The Fabulous Cut
The first thing I want to say is that no haircut needs to be “risky” anything can seem achievable when you sit down with your stylist and tell them what you want and need. For someone who has very thick curly hair you need to be careful about how your hair is textured (some people may say “thinned” but this is not the correct word). If you would like your curly and unruly hair to appear softer without straightening, keep the length of your hair at least halfway to the shoulders; whatever you feel most comfortable with. The layering should start from halfway down the head, keeping it fairly heavy on top to help give off a “smoother” look. The rest of the cut should be layered flawlessly so that you can not see any steps, this is key to making the hair look smoother and more controllable. Make sure there is texture through the ends only, created with shears or texture shears, but never a razor.
The Power of Product
Products play an important role in controlling your hair and adding the desired shine and smoothness wanted. For your hair I would recommend something that can help control the frizz, as it will also bring out natural shine. I personally love the Moroccan oil products; for your hair the Moroccan oil treatment is a great product that is beneficial both initially and in the long run. Although its an oil, it will never be heavy or greasy and it gives great shine while adding proteins and moisture to the hair, which will provide long term benefits and add shine and health back into your hair.

If you get your hair colored, as most of us do, you can ask for something called a Demi-Permanent hair color; its full of conditioning treatment that adds luster and shine to the hair. That doesn’t mean that you have to change the color of your hair, most lines offer a “clear” option, which means no pigment (colour) is added. If you are a blonde, these products usually come in your “toner” which is used after a blonde chemical service to make sure that the color is on tone and nice and shiny!

Seductive Styling Techniques
A good haircut is only three quarters of the battle, curly hair as you know by now requires a good team of products and dedication. I myself, unlike Amber, have a strong wave and kink in the back of my head. The first step is to get something in the hair to help control it, as mentioned above, based on your question, I recommend Moroccan Oil Treatment.

Apply the product by working a quarter size into your hands (just like applying hand cream but only on the palm of your hand and not between the fingers) and then start at the ends of your hair and work your way up the shaft; this is the key when applying ANY hair products. After you have applied the product your best friend is your blowdryer.

Don't be intimidated, I know for many of us this is where you can get nasty curls. Brush the hair away from your face to pull the hair straight as you blowdry, this will smooth out those curls. For a soft curl look I suggest drying the top section of the head (as described) until dry and smooth. Then dry the bottom halfway by just using your fingers to shake it out while the air is on. Apply your favorite curl cream to control the frizz and hold the curl.
I’m not to sure what the weather is like in Illinois right now but over her in Vancouver BC things are shifting from snowy to rainy! For me everything is about accessorizing! You can take any simple t-shirt and jeans from plain to fun with a really awesome necklace or a great pair of earrings! Anything that is vintage looking is great! Great hair and great accessories is all a girl needs to look awesome!
Thanx for your question!

Courtney-1Courtney is a 20 something hair stylist working in Vancouver. She has 10 years of experience in the industry and is constantly surrounding herself with new information on techniques, style and fashion. A loyal Goldwell Colourist, Courtney loves working with color and finding new ways to push the boundaries and create something new and exciting. Courtney works with all types of challenging hair coming from the multicultural city of Vancouver.
Send Courtney your questions at
She can’t wait to hear from you and answer your questions!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

We ♥ Daiya Vegan Cheese

When I found out I had to stop eating gluten, I thought the sky was falling, but in time I learned that was far from the truth.  Without gluten, I felt great and over the months, I found ways to enjoy the food I loved.

When I found out the boy couldn't eat dairy, I was dissapointed for him, but it was manageable.  I'm sensitive to dairy myself and eat only yogurt, cheese and cream in my coffee.  I substituted yogurt in his diet with dessert tofu, I bought him soy yogurt and even soy cheese.  Although he loved tofu in any and all forms, he consistently refused the soy milk, soy yogurt and soy cheese after only a few bites.

It wasn't until we took him totally off the soy formula that we noticed a huge improvement in his skin.  When we also removed the tofu, stir frys and finally all traces of soy the difference was amazing; the boy was no longer covered in scaly eczema rashes ALL the time.  I could actually feel his skin.

I wasn't ready for the boy to have a childhood devoid of mac & cheese, pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches.  And now that we have found Daiya Vegan Cheese, he doesn't have to.  Daiya Vegan Cheese is gluten, dairy (including casein and lactose), soy, egg and nut free, it comes pre-shredded, it actually melts and best of all, it tastes good.  My lactose-free friend actually described the taste as 'buttery'.
gluten-free dairy-free soy-free pepperoni pizza
So what is it actually made of?  The ingredients for both the cheddar and mozzarella are listed right on the website, and include tapioca & arrowroot flour, canola and safflower oil, pea protein and xantham gum.  All pretty benign from my perspective.  Nutritionally, Daiya does not have the calcium that regular cheese does, but in truth I don't feed Daiya vegan cheese to the boy for nutrition, I feed it for him so that we can both enjoy a lunch of tuna melts with sweet potato fries, or have pizza for dinner occasionally or what about scalloped potatoes au gratin with our ham, or quiche for brunch?  We've had all of those meals in the month or so that we've been eating Daiya; for me, it's all about giving my boy the experience of food he would otherwise be without.

If you haven't tried it, Daiya is about $5 a bag, a very small investment for a super tasty treat.  Plus you can freeze Daiya without any impact on texture, taste or melting, so you don't even have to worry about waste if you can't eat through 227g in 7-10 days.  I made a quiche and grabbed the Daiya right out of the freezer and you never would have known!  Seriously, this stuff is amazing, not to mention available throughout North America!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


With a new baby on the way, I am fully aware that the moments of time I've managed to carve out of my busy schedule to dedicate to blogging will be all but disappearing, at least for a little while. Although I've promised myself at least one post a week throughout the year, I want to ensure that the Momma Stuff Blog is so much more than just a weekly update.

After some thought, I decided that perhaps rather than putting more pressure on myself, it would be worth roping a few more people onto the Momma Stuff Blog team. With nearly no persuasion involved, my little sister eagerly agreed to help me out. Although she is not a momma, she is a very talented hair stylist, and seriously, what Momma couldn't use a stylist in their back pocket?

I'm excited to announce that my sister is going to be providing us with quick tips and tricks for fabulous hair and answering READER QUESTIONS to that effect, as well as helping out with reviews around the blog. If you have any hair related questions, please leave a comment or send us an email at and we'll work on having answers incorporated into future posts.

Without further adieu, I will allow my sister to introduce herself, please give her a warm welcome.

Hello, my name is Courtney and I am Amber’s little sister, and the boy's Auntie. I am a Hair Stylist in Downtown Vancouver, and have always loved every aspect of my job; it involves spending time with clients (most who are now my friends) and staying up to date with the latest trends in hair, make-up and fashion.

I also love going to concerts and shows, and spend way too much of my money doing so. I am an avid Snowboarder: I have been doing it for 17 years, and have recently taken up learning to Ski. Amber and I have been playing softball since we were young, but last year was the first time we actually played together. I joined her team in hopes of getting to spend more time with her in a “non-child” environment, this sort of worked, but Amber and her hubs had to split their time at the games so I didn't see her as much as I had hoped.

Amber and I were born 5 years apart, and as small children this was too large of a gap for us to be extremely close, but as we have grown older it has become the perfect age difference. Amber is able to give me great advice with my life and be an amazing role model, while I am able to remind her that just because she is a mother and wife, it doesn’t mean she can’t have any fun.

Part of my life that I try not to dwell on, or complain about is the fact that much like the boy, I suffer from both eczema and food allergies. The majority of my eczema is triggered by food allergies and I have a fatal hazelnut allergy.

My battle with eczema is constant; although I've always had eczema it got worse when is started doing hair. I have seen many dermatologists and just about every one has told me to quit my job, but for me, this is just NOT an option. Like my nephew I find that if I am diligent with both my diet and skincare routine I can keep the worst of my eczema under control.

I can't wait to interact and get to know all of you Momma Stuff Blog readers and I look forward to answering your hair related questions. Please send me any hair related questions at and I'll do my best to answer them!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

22.5 weeks | Crafty Momma

When I was pregnant with the boy, I took belly pictures every single week; its amazing to look back at them and see how the body grows and changes with pregnancy.  I'd like to say I've been as diligent with this pregnancy, but it would be a lie.  Although I love my DSLR, I just can't seem to get a good belly picture, regardless how hard I try.  So instead of regularly posting belly pics, the occasional ones that someone else snaps, are just going to have to do.

22 weeks pregnant
22.5 weeks pregnant
(please excuse the cheesy smile)

Now that I'm over half way through this pregnancy, its probably not all that surprising that my nesting instincts have begun to kick in.  Let me be clear however, I don't mean that I am cleaning fervrently, or even organizing baby clothes and furniture (although the hubs is doing these things).  I'm more of the creative type.  With the boy I made oodles of crocheted blankets and amigurimi animals, but given that I've yet to need ALL the blankets I made, nor has the boy particularly played with the stuffies, it was clear that this time around I needed to look for a new creative outlet.

Homemade baby dresses After much perusing of the internet, I decided to pull out my sewing machine and give sewing baby clothes a whirl.  Given that I don't know the gender of my baby you might think I would have opted to stick to gender neutral items like pants and shirts, but they're so boring and little dresses are so cute and adorable.  Since I know three other people having babies in the months following my due date, I started off making some uber cute pillowcase dresses then moved onto a kimono top, which I also adapted to make into a dress.
Baby Kimono
I must admit however, that my mom is a far better sewer than me and sewing that itty bitty bias tape together to make the kimono ties was a little beyond my skill level, so she kindly fixed up the first kimono and stitched the trim altogether on the second kimono dress. (Thanks Mom)

There are tons of tutorials and patterns on the web, but here are the dress tutorial and kimono tutorial I used.  I think my next undertaking is going to be a nursing cover, I just bought some boning and I already have some fabric that I think will work beautifully.  That's one of the best things about these little DIY projects, they are so quick and easy to do and you can potentially upcycle materials you arelady have on hand.  The beige fabric is an old sheet and both the purple trim and the grey fabric are pillowcases I bought at Value Village.  Inexpensive fun?  I'm in!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to 2011

It's hard to believe that 2010 has come and gone and 2011 is already upon us.

In 2010 I learned so much about being a mother; most importantly I learned about the balance of family, self and work.  I have far from mastered that balance, but I find myself increasingly aware of the importance this balance has on my sanity.  The Momma Stuff Blog started in February of 2010 and we started off small, in fact we're still small, but it doesn't matter.  I love that people read and I love that people comment but most of all I love having a creative outlet and a place to call 'my own'.

In the spirit of reflection, here are some of my favourite Momma Stuff Blog posts of 2010:
As far as resolutions go, I'm not a fan of making promises that I can't keep, including promises to myself.

So this year, I promise myself that despite the challenges and changes that are coming my way, I will keep blogging and I will work to ensure that I'm not simply regurgitating the events that are occurring, but rather sharing my experiences and emotions.  The Momma Stuff Blog cannot be a true creative outlet, if I don't allow my creative juices to flow.  I know it will be hard, but since starting this blog, I've worked to maintain a minimum of one post a week; with a toddler on board and a new baby arriving in May, I won't promise more than that, but I promise myself that I will stick to a minimum of one post a week.

What's your promise to youself for 2011?