This Mama Needs a Vacay

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

Friday, June 5, 2020

Racism and Parenting as a Sikh Mother: Working towards uncovering my own bias

“You are a n***** too, right? Like in the book?”

This was said to my 9 year old little girl by her classmate and friend, during a small group discussion about the novel they were reading in class.  The book was about slavery, the teacher had discussed the use of this word in her lessons. My daughter came out of her school that afternoon, and as we started walking home she started telling me this story while big tears fell down her face. She was shocked, no devastated, confused, hurt but also bewildered.  She knew at that age how loaded that word was.

In that moment of parenting, I was at a loss of what to say to her because I wasn't ready for this kind of conversation.

Let me explain.  I was ready for a conversation about racism. In fact, we've been having conversations about it with our children for a long time, it had always been a conscientious decision as parents of colour.  I was ready for a conversation that started with her telling me that someone told her she couldn't play with them because she was brown (which we had already gone through), or that she was called a "smelly Paki"on the playground (I had my own childhood experiences to share with her about that), or even that she should "go back to where she came from". For these, I was ready. Our lived experiences were easier to use to help teach them that discrimination because of skin colour was something that was not acceptable.

As Sikh parents of three children, we have openly discussed issues about racism,  bigotry and the injustices that come with it.  And as both religious and visible minorities ourselves, our kids have learned what prejudice looks like in different ways:

When they learn their Sikh history they learn about the horrific struggles and injustices done to their community.

They’ve seen the painted images of our Gurus as martyrs on the Gurdwara walls that show the brutal sacrifices at the hands of various oppressors, all because they believed something different.

We’ve spoken to them about the first hand experiences my husband has faced being a man who wears a turban in Canadian society.

They've heard both our childhood stories of being called names, being told to go back to where we came from, and about a hundred other examples. 

They’ve witnessed the random selection process at airports around the post 9-11 world and watched how their father who may be angry and annoyed at the "randomness" of the process has to conduct himself with politeness and cooperation.

They’ve heard the brazen slurs thrown at our little family while exploring the freedom trail in Boston on a summer trip.

They watch events unfold on the news and social media

But what I wasn't ready for was having a conversation about racism that excluded our experience as visible minorities, where the topic had nothing to do with the colour of our skin. In that moment of my child telling me this story through choked tears,  I wasn't ready for the next part of this conversation.  The part of the conversation that calls out the bias towards Black people by the South Asian community. Our own bias. My bias.

Anti Blackness in my community

Even though we have lived our lives as the "other" and had many of our own first hand experiences with racism, there is another dialogue that needs to be opened up.  The dialogue that recognizes that as South Asians, we experience a level of privilege as being perceived as the 'model minority.' Our community's perceived achievement of a higher level of success, that in fact has come because of the sacrifices and hardships of those marginalized communities that came before us. But also that as a South Asian we hold many of our own biases and prejudices against Black people.

South Asian have continued to stay quiet when racism rears its ugly head in violent and glaring ways towards the Black community.  Yet we are quick to appropriate elements of Black culture through music, sports, fashion.  We are quick to join in and be a part of the celebration of Black excellence but not to offer our help and support. In fact we lean heavily on colourism to discriminate in our own communities and use the barometer of dark skin as being negative and associate so many harmful stereotypes with it.  We are quick to jump in and say "me too" when we discuss systemic racism but not to make the changes in our own biases that are needed.

All those years ago when my daughter finished telling me what happened in that classroom, I paused.  I was at a loss about what to say to her.  I could've said, "well you should have told her that she is wrong, because you are not Black." But what would that serve other than perpetuating the otherness between our communities, to further ingrain and allow racial bias against Black people. 

A Parenting Reflection to do better

So I did what I often do as a mother when I am searching for the right thing to say. I bought myself some time and I asked her what she said back.
" I told her that it was not ok to use that word, Mom. I told her that using that word is racist and hurtful to black people."

She didn't tell the girl that she wasn't the N word.  She didn't laugh it off. She didn't stay quiet. She didn't say she wasn't black. She didn't look to defend herself. What my nine year old did was to stand up, in her own small way, to tell someone else that they were wrong.

Parents are often haunted with teaching their children the right thing, to be better than us, to do better than us.  We read parenting books, blogs, share our experiences with one another, sometimes cry ourselves to sleep because we are searching for the right thing to say, do and teach our children.  But sometimes, it is in their innocence, before they have learnt any bias or judgement, that they teach us. In my daughter's response and in my hesitation to respond, I heard the whisper of my own biases.

I continue to confront my own prejudices, and those that are in my Punjabi community.  What I am learning to do to be better is this: I can work towards dismantling a system that may hurt me or my family, but that hurts others more by simply speaking up and not making it about myself.  I can lend my name and sign petitions to hold accountable those who brutalize black and brown bodies that aren't ours.  I can march along in protests demanding justice for a life that was taken because of a $20 counterfeit bill.  I can support by purchasing, reading, discussing and sharing with my children books that share the experience of being Black in America (or in Canada, or anywhere in this world). These are easy steps to take, there are countless social media posts pointing you in the direction of these resources.

But I must also confront the biases I have learnt in my community. Collectively, we must speak up against racist comments by our family members and friends. We have to stop saying "Africa" as if a whole continent of 1.2 billion are all the same people but instead see the beauty in their differences as diverse people of language, cuisine, culture and faiths. By doing this we humanize them, and value that human worth beyond skin colour.  We have to stop commenting at the different shades of skin around us as if there was a set of beauty ideals that were worth any value.  We have to stand beside our Black coworkers, neighbours, friends and strangers to listen to their stories, to just listen and not jump in to say "oh that's my experience too."

We have to continue to do the work as parents for our children but also to do the work within ourselves for our society.  While I by no means have figured out how to be the perfect ally, I am continuing to learn and unlearn and not allow my own skin colour be an excuse to not do better. I owe that to myself, to the Black community and to my children.

Note: I have interchanged the terms Sikh, Punjabi and South Asian in this post to reflect all the communities that identify with, which also includes Canadian.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Surprise! Not really a travel blog anymore! ( but a girl can dream...)

hen I first started writing my blog, I had convinced my husband that as a family, travel should be our family focus. (Well along with love, honesty, education, kindness, blah ,blah).  We had hit that sweet spot where our kids were open to new places, new foods, new experiences and actually wanted to be around us.  As well, being a hockey family meant that we were so busy with practices, work, games, school and homework that we rarely had family time together because it always divide and conquer for our family of five. So my masterful plan had us using travel as a way for us to bond with and spend time with our kids.

It was a solid plan. Solid.

But 2020 clearly had other ideas. We’ve been living in a pandemic world, trying to figure it out just like everyone else.  But I recognize that we have been in a privileged position during pandemic parenting, where my husband is still able to work, my kids have the opportunity to do their schoolwork from home with resources such as iPads, computers and a mom who is at their beck and call.  We have safe access to food and a yard to get exercise and fresh air.  But there have been challenges.  One of my challenges has been finding the time and space for me to do my work. This was supposed to be the time in my mom life where I would be able to focus on myself more; to bring more focus on my passions and to continue to create and write and and take This Mama to new heights of blogger success.

Well it’s been 8 weeks and I haven’t posted a single blog post. (I actually started this post a few weeks ago and each week I just change the number of weeks each time I come back to it!) . Why? Well, because it’s been hard to find time to do my work and to manage the kids constantly (and to be completely honest, I haven't prioritized my work - there I said it). I feel like I’ve gone back several decades and become a homestead housewife: one that bakes fresh bread (I knowww. It’s so good! Here’s the recipe), is constantly cleaning and prepping meals, and gardening ( I'm growing lettuce and spring onions from OLD lettuce and onions!!), organizing our house (ok, it was ONE closet), as well as homeschooling THREE kids (ok not really, but let’s save that for another post shall we? Maybe in another 8 weeks). But also, trying to find the motivation, the purpose and the creativity to create content for my blog. So for this very exciting post I'm going to give a round up of our pandemic life and some random musings, hopefully at the very least it'll be entertaining.

Fresh bread! By me! I know!

Kid Life:
The kids are home. ALL the time., as in there is no escape from anyone. Home life has been blended in with school life. We started off a little lost in terms of what we should be doing for school work until we got direction from their teachers.  But even that has been challenging as online learning really isn't a substitute for the dynamic place a classroom can be. And with three different learners, online learning isn't the best fit for each subject for each child.  We have a loose schedule in our day, I have given a lot of room for flexibility and grace.  I don't wake the kids up in the morning (I'm trying to squeeze every last second of kid free time I can get in my day!). I'm allowing my older kids to take responsibility for their own learning while hovering around to make sure they didn't find a way to figure out the Netflix password.  Their teachers have checked in with them regularly and kept me in the loop as well. In fact, I am so amazed at how all of their teachers have continued to be there for support and for their success. My youngest daughter however, it's been a different challenge.  I'm changed my expectations and we try to be productive for at least an hour a day. I do worry that they will be falling behind in their work, I really do. But I also know that they are learning so much in this time and my focus change shift a little. In fact, I wrote about this shift in focus for Masala Mommas, read that here. 

Everyone is finding a quiet corner to get their "work" done

 Blog life:
 Soooooo this is my first post in a LONG time. I had committed to myself to be much more regular on here with posts, but alas....that hasn't happened.  I would in fact like to blame the fact that with all three kids e-learning, my laptop and our desktop are usually occupied. Apparently, their education is more important.  But also to be honest, I am often at a loss to think about what to even post or write about. My creativity is a little blah, and also I've been struggling to figure out what the appropriate content should be for this time.  Do I share spring fashion when I'm literally rotating between two different pairs of sweatpants while we are all just figuring out how to survive emotionally, physically, spiritually and economically?  And travel which I had relied on to be a major focus before is not going to happen. I had plans to create content around that back in March.  But while things aren't shaping up quite as I had planned and I haven't been able to figure out a new plan, there have been some exciting collaborations that I have been a part of recently on instagram.  Yes, that is a plug for you to go there and follow me and check out what I mean. 
Connecting with some amazing mom bloggers online 

Self Care:
 I know it's basically a last priority for most of us, but I am trying to take care of myself during this time of stress and being at everyone's beck and call around here.   It's hard to find space and time for myself, but I'm trying.  I'm able to take daily walks by myself with my puppy (even though I really need to drag the kiddies out for some exercise and fresh air!), I'm working out regularly even though some kid or the other will come down to keep me company ( wondering about my workout? My friend Reena has set up a great online training system for me, check out details on here).  I put on makeup and my jeans once a week, mostly to make sure  remember how to wear makeup and to make sure those jeans fit! But it also gives me a mood lift - and something to post on the 'gram.  I'm also grabbing a book or my phone and disappearing in some corner for a few minutes of mental space.
It hasn't been easy, and I'm trying to commit to doing more to take care of myself.

When self care looks like checking to see if the jeans (and shoes!) still fit 

There are bright spots though. For those I am grateful. I am learning to let go of having to plan everything all of the time and instead to cherish the small moments of family dinners every night (although I'm still not meal planning!.  I'm enjoying the spontaneity of a weekday family movie night or dusting off all of the board games for game night because now we have the time (except only those nights that game night doesn't end in a fight!), and the forced family walks I impose in order to get everyone moving. Life right now is not the same as it was two months ago, but we are finding ways to manage and grow.  I hope that I can share some inspiring or just entertaining content here on This Mama Needs a Vacay more regularly, but I would also love to hear more from you! How are you doing? What would you like to see and read here on the blog? I'm certainly going to try to be more consistent but honest as always.



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.


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!


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


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!


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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