This Mama Needs a Vacay

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

Friday, August 7, 2020

Books to Read by Black Authors

I read something today from The Conscious Kid's instagram which said "You're not well read if all you read is white authors."

It stopped me in my tracks and had me thinking, surely I read diverse literature. Surely I am well read. After all I am member of TWO book clubs (even if I don't read all of the books all of the time), and I am also well on my way of hitting my reading challenge on Goodreads this year (even if I don't set my goal to be above 30 books).  I also would much rather read than watch a movie or tv, and because I am a Woman of Colour who obviously must make choices to pick up diverse literature this all makes me a well read person. Right? Yeah, maybe not so much.

I can admit that I like to pick up books that are fiction and of a particular genre, one that doesn't require too much concentration to follow the plot or happy to read what tops the best seller list that month.  Do I look at the name of the author or check the back to see what ethnicity or colour they are? To be honest, I'm not sure I consciously make choices to diversify the authors I am reading.

I need to read literature - fiction and non fiction, contemporary and the classics, written by men and women, written originally in English or in the author's mother tongue(and translated back for I am no linguist), set not only in North America but in every corner of this globe. And I need to make sure that I am reading the work of Black authors.  But the work of Black authors shouldn't be limited to one narrative : slavery.  There have been many books written and read about slavery and about racism. Those are important. But it is also important to read stories that speak of triumphs, successes, great loves (and also not-so-great ones).  Some that speak about the Black experience in the historical context of slavery others being Black in America. But others that may have nothing to do with race, but are simply written by authors who are Black. But their identity and lived experiences speak volumes in the characters that are described, in the language that flows from the pages, in the experiences that are lived in each chapter, in the authors who write those words. 

Personally I can say that while I consider myself well read, I still have much work to do.  Here I am sharing a few books that I have read and loved (some a very long time ago) by Black authors. I'm also looking to add to my list of books to read and would love to see what you would recommend.

Sing Unburied Sing By Jesmyn Ward: A poetic work of fiction, you are taken on a journey set in the deep south where you follow Jojo and his family and experience how power, family, history and race are intertwined in their story. This book is an excellent read.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: I've shared this novel before and recommended it, and I will do it again because it is well written, but also shares a story about Black love and how American society affect it.  Frankly I have not read enough stories like this, and I hope to find more.

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas: Read this with your tween or teenager, or just read it for yourself.  It may be targeted for young people, but it is an eye opening read into the world of a young Black teenager and what she witnesses and the issues about police brutality and what spurred the Black Lives Movement.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: Another one I've recommended previously on my blog, but Trevor Noah's story about his childhood and youth in South Africa shines light about race in that country and what a boy who fits into neither world of White nor Black experiences.

The Autiobiography of Malcom X by Alex Haley: I read this book when I was 15 years old, and it opened up a new world, a new way of thinking and new perspectives for me.  This book is still relevant today

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: But it's about slavery? Yes but it's SO much more but also it's all about slavery. It traces back the parallel paths of two sisters and their families over 300 years and unfolds stories in each generation. It is epic, and unravels how current issues that Blacks face in America today stem from slavery. It is one of my favourite books.

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill:  I am a fan of Canadian author Lawrence Hill, and this novel is a sweeping account of a true story about a young girl kidnapped from her home in Mali.  Hill masterfully explores and details the life of this strong female protagonist.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan: Told through the voice of an 11 year old born into slavery in Barbados, we follow his journey to freedom as the author explores what freedom means.

Becoming by Michelle Obama: I honestly love every word that this woman writes and speaks, and I devoured the story she told from growing up poor in Chicago to living in the White House. She writes to not only entertain and share her life experiences but to inspire and motivate.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: What happens when a young Black nanny and her young white charge are passing time one night at the local grocery? It begins to unravel the world and the racial prejudices and biases that are so closely held and denied in our everyday world.  This one is a great pick for book club discussions.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama: The former US president is no stranger about sharing his story in his eloquent manner of speaking (yes you'll read this book in his voice).  This is one of all time favourite non-fiction books as it gives insight into a remarkable figure.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Confession time, I started this book a couple of years ago and did not do it justice (or even get past the first 50 pages). It is a letter written by a father to his son about being Black in America.  Coates details his views as they have been formed by his experiences growing up in Baltimore to his experiences as an academic and in his personal life.  This story is poignant, beautifully written and highly recommended for all of us to learn and try to understand what being Black in America is like.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

What to do this Summer in Toronto : Pandemic Edition

Summer of 2020, oh what memories we will have....of continuing to do the same thing we've done for the last 4 months which is basically sitting at home! Living in a pandemic has certainly changed what our summer plans were supposed to be.  We are sticking close to home and trying to have a few excursions and activities where we feel comfortable and safe.  It's not quite the image of creating this magical childhood I had wanted to do for my kids, but you know what? The kids will be alright, it's just my patience that is being tested....everyday.

In case you are looking for something (ANYTHING) to do with your family this summer, here are a few of my suggestions:

Tree Top Trekking

What: Physically (and mentally) challenge yourself by trekking among the trees and zip line down. It is a set of several aerial obstacle courses up in the trees. Check it out here

Where: With 6 locations in Ontario and 5 in Quebec, we opted for the one in Brampton last summer at the Heart Lake Conservation Park and this year we tried out the new park in Hamilton.  Click here for more locations

Cost: approximately $44-$65/pp

Good to Know:

  • The course takes about 3 full hours
  • Wear comfortable athletic clothing and running shoes 
  • Get over your fear of heights before you get there
  • Once you get up on the course, the only way back down is by finishing it
  • Make it a full day and pack a picnic lunch too
  • Make your booking online ahead of time
  • Minimum age is 9, and is best for kids who like adventure and a little thrill

Good to Bring:

  • Water bottles
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen 
  • Sanitizer & Wipes
  • Bug Spray
  • Backpack - if you are ok with leaving you stuff down below while you are up in the trees, otherwise leave it in your car. 
  • Camera - its pretty cool up there, so make sure to have your phone or camera in a pocket where it won't fall out
Pandemic Safety Measures:
  • All the equipment is sanitized and cleaned
  • All the instructors wear masks and you are also encouraged to wear one when you can't socially distance
  • There is hand sanitizer everywhere and you need to sanitize every time you go up or come down from a course
  • Everyone does a good job socially distancing
  • They do a Covid screening questionnaire prior to starting

Fun Rating:
Kids: 4/5: Teens can't really act like it was amazing can they? And little one screamed and cried the whole time during the second course(even though I told her not to do it!). But the kids that completed all the courses had a blast.
Me: 4/5: Personally it's not for me, I did one course and it was enough of a challenge and I was good. But it kept the kids active outdoors for 3 hours so it was a win!

Emerald Lake

What: Water park in a 5 acre quarry lake, that is part of a RV and Camping park. Click here

Where: Located in Puslinch, Ontario, west of Toronto, from Mississauga it takes about 45 - 60 mins to get there.

Cost: Approx. $20/pp tax included

Good To know:

  • There are splash pads, pools and a gigantic water slide
  • The lake water is warmer than the pools!
  • You can rent kayaks
  • Lots of lifeguards on duty
  • You must have a life jacket for the lake - you can rent there if you don't have your own
  • There is a small cafe that you can get some food or snacks from
  • Great for all ages, they do have sections for younger kids

Good To bring:

  • Life jackets
  • Chairs
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • Money
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Beach Umbrella or Shade 
  • A book or magazines

Fun Rating:
Kids: (this info is from last summer:)
After all the complaining they did about wanting to go, they sure weren't going to be complaining (much) about their time there, so a 4.9/5 for them. 
Me: 4.5/5 I didn't have to do much since the lifeguards were on duty and the kids all had life jackets, they gave me some time to sit back and read and relax. I just wish there was some more shade. 

Pandemic Safety Measures:
  • Inflatable water toys are still not in use in phase 2
  • Covid Pre-screening is in effect
  • Social Distancing is in effect

Museum of Illusions

What: An interactive museum exploring visual sensory. Click here for more

Where:  Downtown Toronto  at 132 Front Street. 

Cost: Average $19.50-$23.50/pp, more here

Good To Know:

  • It is a short walk to the St Lawrence Market where you can pop over for lunch and take your food outdoors. Also you can walk to the Distillery District from the museum, where we like to look at the shops, get some gelato at SOMO and have lunch or dinner at our favourite Mexican restaurant El Catrin which has a lovely large patio
  • It is about a 15 minute walk from Union station
  • Parking is available at the IMPARK lot on 35 Esplanade of if you plan on spending time in the Distillery you can park there too (rates apply)
  • Don't expect to be here all day: give yourself maybe an hour to explore everything at a slow pace
  • You can buy tickets online 

Good To Bring:

  • Masks
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Water bottles
  • Comfy shoes to get yourself there
  • A low expectation of how much time you will spend at the actual museum as it is a small museum 
  • A plan to explore more of Toronto that day: we went to the St. Lawrence Market, Sugar beach and to the Distillery District

Fun Rating:
Kids: 4.5/5 - they felt it could have more fun to explore
Me: 4/5 - it was fun and interactive for all of us, and not too big to lose kids in!

Pandemic Safety Measures:
  • Covid Pre-screening is in effect
  • Social Distancing is in effect
  • Pre purchase your ticket online in order to space out the number of guests

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit

What: An immersive and unique art exhibit about Vincent Van Gogh. Click here for more

Where:  Downtown Toronto  at 1 Yonge Street

Cost: Average 35/ pp, more here

Good To Know:

  • This is a unique art exhibit. The entire loop of the "show" lasts about 30 minutes, but you are welcomed to stay longer.
  • It is located in the Toronto Star building and a short walk from Union Station or $25 for a parking spot across the street
  • There is an option to do a drive in with your car to experience the exhibit. Check website for more details
  • There is a small gift shop when you leave, as well as an opportunity to do a paint by numbers t shirt for an additional $40
  • Best for older kids and teenagers, my almost 10 year old didn't love it
  • There are socially distanced circles drawn on the floor and lots of space to keep between yourself and others
  • A mask is mandatory
  • You have to buy tickets online 

Good To Bring:
  • Masks (mandatory)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Water bottles
  • A low expectation of how much time you will spend at the actual museum as it is a small museum 

Fun Rating:
It is great for teenagers and tweens but my youngest did not seem too interested in the actual exhibit. They did love painting a t shirt however! 4 /5 for them. 
Me: 4.5/5 . It was incredible!

Summer still has many, many weeks to go and I'm hoping to get in a few more 'normal' activities as a family. Stay tuned, I'll update this post as we go!


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!

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