This Mama Needs a Vacay

Parenting & Travel Blog with tips, guides, reviews and honesty about family travel and parenting.

Friday, March 20, 2020

This Mama Reads: The most recent books I've read


So I'm housebound with the kiddies doing my part for social distancing and not going anywhere unless absolutely necessary. I'm taking this time to read as much as I can (mostly because my kids hog the tv, but there's a fine tradeoff happening). Not everything I read is going to be thought provoking or profound, in fact very little will be because I'm reading heavy headlines in the news on the hourly.  So I'm sharing my recent reads to help transport you away right now, that you can read even with all of the distractions happening around us. 

I also suggest that now is a great time to order your books online, get your ebooks via your library, kindle, kobo and maybe set up a borrowing system with your friends (while still maintaining a social distancing). 




Such a Fun Age -by Kiley Reid: this is a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick, and it discusses the social issues around race and our own biases and perceptions about it through three main characters and how their lives intertwine. It's actually not very heavy, and is an entertaining read.

The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem: a relatable story for so many South Asian women who have probably all felt the pressures of having to get married "at the right time." Forget our biological clock (that harrassment starts after the wedding), the pressures to get marriage to a suitable candidate can become all consuming. This is a lovely story about a young educated woman living in the United States and her quest to fight again her marriage clock.


The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory: I'm sort of hooked by this author's writing style because it's easy and light and perfect for what I need know (which is trying to read while ignoring the whining and fighting going on around me). It is a predictable love story set in sunny LA that at times will infuriate you because you want to reach into the book and smack the characters and tell them to see what it is that you know will happen anyways! But I'm going to be reading her other books because it's just that kind of distraction I need right now!


Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living your best Life By Ali Wong : This book is HILARIOUS! Comedian and mother Ali Wong writes her daughters letters about life advice based on her own life and experiences in a raunchy yet hilariously truthful way. I particularly love her chapter on what every expectant mother needs to pack for the hospital, it should be required reading for all new moms!


A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman: This one is an oldie, but such a goodie especially right now when we are all probably starting to feel like the grumpy old man Ove. It talks of community and human connections and the bonds that we can build in times that we may not be expecting it. This one I highly recommend.


A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson: This one is more of a mystery style book as the reader tries to figure out the sequence of events that lead to the arrest of a family's teenage daughter. 


The Winemakers Wife by Kristin Harmel: Ok, this one is on my list but not because I liked it. I know I know, then why is it here Raj?? It's here because it honestly doesn't require much thought or investment and is very predictable and easy to read. It's another historical fiction story about World War II, set in France and told from a female perspective. It had a lot of promise, and I'm also tired of this genre that focuses so much on the world wars.  Historical Fiction is my favourite genre when it's literally about any other time in history. 


Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah: I am a huge fan of Trevor Noah, I think he is funny and smart! As I this book I totally heard him telling it to me and learned so much about Apartheid and life for him in South Africa. I don't love non fiction, but this genre of memoir was so entertaining. 


Only Child by Rihannon Navin: Warning for this book - you WILL cry the whole time you read it. Like yes, non stop crying but also it will be non stop reading.  It tells the story of a mass school shooting in an elementary school through the voice of a 6 year old. I know, keep a box of tissues close by my friends and remember the tears will be cathartic.


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Friday, March 6, 2020

Hair Oil: my favourite picks





Wait? Oil? On your hair? Ummm...... huh? For the longest time, my hair and scalp was oily, so the thought of using oil on my thinning tresses, weighing them down just didn't seem very appealing. But as my hair has been changing because of well - just life, the benefits of oiling my hair has made me a believer.

Hair Oiling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that has been used by South Asians for centuries. What is it? It's basically applying oil to your scalp and hair and massaging it before you wash it out. The oil can provide nourishment to dry hair, and the scalp massaging can help boost blood circulation that can help for a number of things.
Over the past few months I have gone back to using hair oil to help solve some of my hair woes. What woes you ask? Oh there's a lot!

Greying hair
Hair loss
Dry hair
Dry scalp

Now, I still don't have the hair of my dreams, but the regularly oiling has helped some of these issues, and it just makes me feel better about taking care of myself too. A regular scalp massage can help to reduce stress and leave my hair softer. So here I'm sharing the stand out products that have been on rotation over the last few months and how I use them.  Cue the drum roll pleasseeee.......

A Gold standard: Castor Oil


Girlfriends share the best tips, and this is one of them! My friend who had suffered from post-partum hair loss told me to get on the Castor Oil train asap!  Castor oil is thick and sticky, and goes a pretty long way. I use it before I wash my hair by massaging my scalp with the oil and letting it sit for as long as I can. Sometimes I leave it overnight or just rock my daily errands with a greasy head.  Castor oil is a natural moisturizer so it's great for a dry scalp as well as for dry ends, but it is heavy so a little does go a long way.  When looking for a good quality castor oil look for a high quality oil that is virgin and cold pressed.


So as my love affair for castor oil continues,  this organic and cold pressed castor oil by Briogeo is great for leaving in my hair when I'm not trying to rock the greasy hair look because of the pump that it comes in. It allows me to only get out a little at a time, so it helps control how much I can use. I use this by putting it on my fingertips and then apply it directly on my dry patches on my scalp. I'll put it on my scalp when my hair is still wet after washing and then brush it through so my hair doesn't get weighed down. It's also fantastic for your eyebrows to help thicken them!

A close second: Tea Tree & Jojoba Scalp Oil



This one by Earth's Nectar has tea tree oil which helped so much when I had abrasions on my scalp from eczema. It also has jojoba and almond oils which are lightweight.  It helps to strengthen your hair and promote natural hair growth. It has a lightly scented tea tree oil scent which is not too overpowering and as well it quite light and absorbing.  It doesn't weigh down, but also I use it in small quantities directly on my scalp.

My absolute favourite: Sahajan Ayurvedic Blend





This one is my new favourite! Mostly because I absolutely LOVE the smell!! It's a combination of coconut oil, amla  and eclipta alba oils. Did I mention it smells heavenly? it's light enough to use sparingly on my scalp for those dry patches, but also great to use on my hair before I blow dry it and sometimes works well as a finishing oil, depending on how dry my ends are.
I have a special, limited time code to use for your first purchase on Sahajan. Get 15% off your purchase by using "thismama15". I'm stocking up!


A special mention:


So this one isn't a traditional oil, it's more my bonus favourite product. BB hairdresser's invisible oil acts like a heat protector and primer before you blow dry and heat torture your tresses. I love the smell, how light it is and that it actually does protect my hair! This is one product that I always repeat buy.

So while my struggle for getting the perfect healthy mane continues, incorporating regular hair oiling has become part of my routine. I do a hair oil and scalp massage once a week (sometimes two depending how dry my scalp is), and I continue to apply small amounts of oil on the very dry patches on my scalp before I style my hair. I have noticed my hair being less dry, it appears to be growing well and I just feel good about adding in this extra step to take care of myself.

Looking for more hair oil tips? Check out Pink Chai Living, where you can find how to make your own effective hair oil!


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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hockey Mom Chronicles: I didn't choose this hockey life, it chose me (kinda)

Yes, yes it is

It is Sunday evening and I have just sat down at home with my whole family for the first time this weekend. I know weekends are supposed to be family time, but in the middle of winter, in the middle of hockey season, family time can be hard to come by. 

As an example, over the last three days we have had: two hockey tournaments, 9 hockey games (with the potential of having had 13), close to a combined 1000 km of (local driving), zero meals together as a family. 

This is the reality of a hockey family life.  We have three girls, and they play competitive hockey. This is our 8th season of going through this sport as a family.  But let me clarify that neither my husband nor I played hockey growing up. I actually can't even skate. I'm also not a fan of the sport, even though our house is basically Leafs nation every Saturday night.

Yet here we are, dedicating a ton of resources for them to be able to play,  yet I still count down to April when it is almost over for the season (almost, meaning, actually never - gulp!) We get the guilt from grandparents about not seeing them even though they are all 10 minutes away, we have to decline invitations with our friends and can't make any plans to host anyone and rarely even get a date night in. But we made this decision, the decision to be a hockey family. 

I once had a fellow mom ask me "What is the point of the girls playing hockey? Are they planning on playing for team Canada or getting a university scholarship?" Oh. well. Um. No.....that isn't why our girls play hockey. I actually didn't know how to respond in that moment. I think about it though when I'm in the deep depths of hockey-dom and doing my umpteenth carpool drive and packing dinners on the go and freezing my toes off in yet another arena. Why? Why?????  (don't worry I ask myself this all of the time too. Why this glam hockey mom life, girl, whhyyyyyyyy???)


Pro tip: keep your hands soft and supple during the season because you will develop callouses from all of the skate tying!

They play because sport is healthy. We want our kids to move and play in order to be happy and healthy. I want my girls to be active and healthy and to play whatever sport they love at any level, or even just outside on the driveway.  Because girls who play sport have a healthier approach to their own body image. I'm sure there are stats on that somewhere, but I'm too lazy to check. It's my part of parenting philosophy, so we'll have to just go with that.  I want them to focus on what their bodies can do, not what they look like. I want to encourage them to live healthy, active lives. Sure, they can go outside and just play and be active everyday. But as they get older they tend to do that less and less.  Being part of an organized sport gives them the structure to be more physically active (and having a coach tell them to skate laps is a lot easier than my yelling at them to do some jumping jacks!)

They play because they learn teamwork and lots of other good stuff: Sport teaches kids about working together for a common goal. Hockey, like many sports, doesn't work if you aren't a team. The other good stuff they learn is about resilience, and failure and perseverance. Also, about the value of a good deodorant and regular, daily showers. (regardless of the gender, hockey players stink).

They play because it helps them be focused on what really matters: Just to clarify, what really matters is NOT winning. What matters is that they can control their efforts and their input into what they are doing out there on the rink.  What matters is that they are learning that losing is often a really big part of the game, and that it's ok.  They are learning that being the best player on the team isn't what matters, because more often than not, they are not the best player. They are learning to prioritize things in their life, such as family and school before hockey. They are learning about the value of working hard.

They play because they love it: It is pretty amazing as a parent to watch your kids find something they are passionate about. Something that they find motivation and inspiration about, and do because they want to (and not because I've forced them to do it!) They realize they need to get their sleep because they have a big game, and they realize that they need to make better choices for their snacks and meals because they are athletes. They do all this and more because they LOVE THIS GAME. And to be clear - I don't love this game, but I love them and I love to watch them play.

They play because they get to see their name out on the rink
They play because they are Canadian: You don't have to play the quintessential Canadian sport to be considered a Canadian (I'm a case in point). But for three brown girls who are born and raised Canadians, they are out there showing up every day in a sport that is usually male dominated and one that often lacks diversity. They play for themselves, they play for all little girls, they play because they can. 

They play because they want to: They don't play for us. They play for themselves, because they want to. I'm just the chauffeur, chef, equipment manager, cheerleader, snack holder, personal secretary...Truth be told, no matter what sport or activity they had picked, I'd feel the same way about it all. I'd love watching them play, but I'd also still be a grouchy mom who feels stretched to make it all work.


There are so many reasons why we are a hockey family, but bottom line is that they love to play, so they do. 


They play because we love them





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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

My Top Ten Reads of the Decade

Sorry, getting back to the blog has been a much slower process than I had planned for 2020.  But I am here now! Yay me! I big part of what I love to do is to read, but 2019 was a much slower reading year than usual. In fact I didn't get anywhere close to hitting my reading goal on GoodReads. I'd like to think that this year I'll be better and read more, but I'm not making any promises. I am excited to pick up some of the books that I've got lining my bookshelves and making more time for me to do what I love to do - read!

But I wanted to reflect back on some of my absolutely favourite books from the last decade.  Now, not all of these were published in the last decade, some are older, but they are all books that I read in the last 10 years.  I record my book list on Goodreads, and usually add in notes and the dates read so I have a reference point.





Here's my best of the 2010's list:



  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: At first, this book reminded me of The Rosie Project (a good read, but not a favourite stand out.)  Set in contemporary Scotland, this book tells the journey of Eleanor as she navigates the world with her limited social skills and how she even works on a romantic relationship, the story is endearing and entertaining.
  • Dreams from My Father: A story of race and inheritance by Barack Obama: As a fan of this former president, this book was not from the last decade admittedly, but it is one that I read in this last decade, so it's going on my list.  It perhaps is one of my most favourite non-fiction books (a genre I don't read that often actually).  Obama is an eloquent writer and story teller and this book did not disappoint. Interestingly enough when I read Becoming by Michelle Obama this past year , she talks about how her husband went to Indonesia for 6 weeks to write this book!
  • The Casual Vacancy By J.K. Rowling - I'll be honest, the only reason I started reading this book was because it was by J.K Rowling and I'm a huge fan of the Harry Potter Series. The book starts off slow, but Rowling introduces and develops multiple diverse characters and describes the setting in the UK with such mastery. She discusses social issues that aren't normally discussed and does them in such a compelling way. This would be on my list of one of my all time favourite books.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: This book discusses so many issues and will often have you divided about where you stand, it makes for a great book club choice for the discussions that can come out of it.  I loved how Celeste Ng uses a small town in Ohio as the backdrop of this story and explores different perspectives in motherhood. I'm super excited for the screen adaptation that is coming out this spring too!
  • Bear Town by Fredrick Backman: This isn't Backman's most popular or well known book, but it definitely left an impression on me.  The books takes your on a journey that examines the issues and incidents that happen in a small town that worships at the alter of hockey and how the many different characters respond to what happens. I read it in one sitting (on a plane!).
  • Can You hear the Night Bird call by Anita Rau Badami: Once again, this book was not published in this past decade, but that is when I read it. So it counts (my blog, my rules!). This book makes my list as one of my all time favourites because of the story that is told.  It is a story that tells of the Sikh, female experience and perspective during 1984 both in India and in Canada. The events that unfolded leading up to the Air India bombing are a part of my history as a Sikh Canadian, and this was the first (if not only) fiction literature that I read that I felt was impartial, balanced and beautifully executed. 
Other notables:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Ru by Kim Thuy
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant





My favourite authors:


The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri: Perhaps my very favourite author, I have loved each one of her books.

Harry Potter Series: I'm not going to pretend to remember when I actually read all of these but it was in the last decade that my eldest fell in love with the series too. 

The Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith: Yes, technically Robert Galbraith is J.K Rowling and they are the same person, but still if an author makes me savour a mystery series like this, it's a win! 


What are some of your very favourite reads? Share in the comments, I'm always looking for recommendations!



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Friday, January 10, 2020

A Hockey Mom Survival Pack

January 10th is National Hockey Mom Day. If it really isn't a thing, it is time to make it a thing. Because being a hockey mom does require a unique sense of dedication, organization and commitment. And frankly I could use a little acknowledgement for this role that my husband signed me up with.

As a mom to three hockey players who are girls, I never, ever, ever thought that my life would revolve around a sport that I knew nothing about. As a child of immigrants, growing up in Canada, it was not the sport we grew up watching. In fact the only thing I knew about icing was that it belongs on a cake (or cupcakes!).

Yet fast forward, and here I am with 8 years of being a hockey mom under my belt. With all of that experience, comes a lot of insight as well. I'm basically a semi-professional hockey mom guys. I know how to organize car pools, how to make healthy meals that will be consumed all through the evening as kids come and go, how to pack healthy snacks for post practice, and how to get out of tying their laces so I don't develop blisters. It's a fine balancing act, but I do it for the kids. It's always for the kids.

So if you are a fellow hockey mom or know a hockey mom or even thinking of putting your kids in hockey (talk to me first!), then I believe that you deserve to be prepared. There are a few basics that all hockey moms need in order to survive the many months spent in a hockey rink.

Here are my picks :


1. Warm Boots: your toes are often the first thing to go. You need to invest in a pair of stylish, warm boots. Make sure they are comfy! I'm a big fan of Blundstones, but these here also would do the trick.

2. Blanket: yes, you need one. Get the coziest one you can find and keep it in the car just for this purpose. I love this Eddie Bauer one, because we could all use a little sherpa luxury too.

3. Seat Cushion: Next to triple ply toilet paper, your tush will thank you for a warm, comfy seat most. This one is easy to carry around.

4. Another blanket: Oh you have one already? Get another one because sometimes a fellow mom needs one too. This one is great because it folds up into a handy little lumbar pillow as well, because carrying those hockey bags and sitting on all those uncomfortable arena benches can do a number on your lower back.

5. Insulated Cup: A hot cup of coffee or tea is basically what we survive on during the season, and this cute cup will also let everyone know to stand out of your way (and not to say a word about how your kid is playing!)

6. Essential Oils: Moms needs to stay healthy during the season, and this little kit from Saje is basically a pocket pharmacy to help whatever may ail you. The stress release one comes in handy in those overtime nail bitters.

7. A good book: Sometimes you've got a lot of time to kill and can only watch your kid do so many crossovers during a practice. Keep a good read with you, this one by Fredrik Backman is a favourite because it tells a complex story of a small hockey town.

8. A long, warm coat: You need a long, warm, coat that isn't too heavy as a basic staple. I love this one from Lululemon because it is literally like wearing a duvet.

9. Wool Socks: Back to those toes - they need some extra loving you know.  My personal favourite in the winter is these Roots wool socks. 

10. Cow Bells: Yes, you need to show up as that supportive, if not annoying, hockey mom to all the games. People will love you or maybe not, but these cow bells from Amazon  can certainly help save your voice from all that cheering (so that you can use it to yell at home for the kids to pick up their hockey equipment and put it in the garage instead of the front hallway.)






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Sunday, December 29, 2019

What to wear for New Year's Eve: A Masala Mommas Edition



It's the end of a decade, and a time for new beginnings, resolutions and fresh starts. I put together a few different looks for Masala Mommas about what to wear this New Year's Eve, no matter what kind of celebration you have planned.

Head over to Masala Mommas to take a look, and from this mama to all of you - I thank you for you reading this little blog and wish you all a very happy, very healthy 2020!





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Monday, December 9, 2019

All that sparkles

You know how all those glittery, sequinned things we see in the store windows this time of year call out your name? Yeah, those. So pretty.  Then you know how somehow you bring home that glittery, sequinned thing and then wonder how you are supposed to wear it more than once? Yeah, that.



I'm showing you how it is indeed possible to wear those sequinned things multiple times in many different ways. Two years ago I bought a matching white sequinned top and skirt - I know  matching! I fell in love with the look together, but hadn't worn the two items much on their own. While this particular one is no longer available, Zara has this pencil skirt and this matching blouse which has a similar feel to it. This top and skirt from H&M also has a similar feel. Another option is from Mango here and here.




The skirt can go a long way with whatever you have in your closet: a button down, turtleneck, sweater or even a t-shirt. 




The sparkly top can be dressed up with leather pants or dressed down with distressed denim. 

Tip: Use shape wear to tuck oversized sweaters (or any of the tops) into so that there is no bulkiness or sequins showing through your pants or skirt. 








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