The 4th Trimester

27 Oct

Looks like the Duchess of Cambridge is once again in the family way.

Remember last time, when people went crazy about her disgusting fat belly a mere EIGHTEEN HOURS after she had given birth?

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I wrote a little bit about the Kate Middleton belly and showed off a little bit of my own postpartum loveliness.

Here’s hoping Kate’s midsection won’t be scrutinized so severely next year when she gives birth.

Somehow I doubt it.

She’s in the public eye and one of her jobs is to look good. Of course, she does humanitarian work and raises a child, but she has to look good while doing it because there are royal traditions to uphold and much of the world is watching (blah blah blah).

It is likely that, after giving birth, it won’t be long before Kate returns to her regular svelte self. Maybe she works out rigorously as soon as she gets the green light from her doctor or maybe she has a personal chef making very precise portion controlled meals. Or maybe she is just genetically programmed to have a slim figure. Perhaps all of the above?

I have a few friends who’ve carried and birthed babies, but you’d never know it because their abdomens look utterly flawless and untouched (at least to my eyes). And that’s ok! Everybody is different and every woman’s body will react to pregnancy in a different way.

I myself have always been a small person. After my first pregnancy, I returned to my previous weight within days. After my second pregnancy, I again returned to my previous weight very quickly. My body was thrilled to get that baby out and return to normalcy; an average weight for a woman of five foot one. However, while I did weigh the same, my body was drastically different. I’ve never had a flat stomach and I definitely don’t now! Despite weighing the same as I did seven years ago, my belly permanently looks like I did when I was 5-6 months pregnant with my first.

I say permanently because I’m not currently seeking to lose weight or tone up.

I’m not terribly upset by my stubborn post-baby-belly anymore. Sometimes I find it distressing or annoying, but often I’m not upset with what I see in the mirror. As long as my clothes fit and I feel good, then I’m going to try thinking positive thoughts about this body that carried two beautiful babies.

I think body acceptance is something we should all strive for, even though it’s probably incredibly difficult for some. But still, I think we should try…

My friend Jessica of Jessica L Wyatt Photography is working on a project that, I believe, will certainly help.

Let me introduce you to…

The Mother’s Look!

Remember the photo from yesterday:

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Here’s a closer look:

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It’s Jessica’s take on 4th trimester photography and I will let her words tell the story:

Through The Mother’s Look I am embarking on a new (to me) branch of photography themed “4th trimester photography.” I am developing a collection of portraits of mothers that will challenge society’s contrived notions of female identity/beauty, specifically those of motherhood. This is an evident theme in recent social media and current events and I would like to contribute to this discourse through my own lens.

The project’s goal is to capture portraits of women who are mothers in a manner that is artistic, tasteful and natural while also capturing both an essence of motherhood and of woman herself. The woman may have stretch marks, or extra skin. She may be a small or bigger girl. She may be breastfeeding, she may be an athlete, she may be an artist, she may have a young child, or an old child. She may have multiple children. She may have lost children. She may have found children. She may have grandchildren. There is no “one woman” in this project.

The Mother’s Look project is a collection of digital photographs depicting mother’s bodies. The images in The Mother’s Look project are created in such a way that the lighting and poses tell a truth about the mother’s body that is (at times) absent from mainstream media, but that is beautiful and worthy of a look. In addition to posing for photos with their children, the mothers also pose with props that they believe represent an element of their authentic self. Photos are paired with the mother’s words [TBD for Facebook]. The juxtaposition of the bodies and the words results in a celebration of the female experience.

Shall we take a look at some of these gorgeous mothers? I think we shall…

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Some of these photographs are more light-hearted *cough*katie and her sewing machine*cough* and others are incredibly intimate. But they are all beautiful and unique and do a great job showcasing magical moments of motherhood and humanity.

Jason snapped a quick picture on his cellphone of my boys and I posing yesterday…

…but it didn’t work. He did capture Jessica behind the camera though. You’ll have to wait a bit for the professional photo of me and the boys!

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If you live around Thunder Bay and want to participate in this amazing project, please email Jessica at jessica.L.wyatt@gmail.com – put Mother’s Look in the subject line!

The 2014 Northern Ontario Juried Exhibition

26 Oct

For the first time in ten years, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery is hosting a juried art exhibition featuring a variety of art submitted exclusively by artists who live in Northern Ontario.

From the art gallery website:
Featuring art from across Northern Ontario, this multi-disciplinary juried exhibition provides a glimpse of the immense creativity, diversity and innovation by established and emerging artists living in the north of the province.

This is the first juried exhibition organized by the Gallery in ten years and this time the reach has been extended to include Northeastern Ontario artists as well. Artists were invited to submit original works of art created within the last two years for consideration by a jury of arts professionals.

Artists were encouraged to submit work that challenges, expands and innovates.

The Gallery acknowledges exhibition sponsor Tbaytel for their tremendous commitment to the artists of ‘The North Now’.

Members of the public are invited to come view the 79 pieces from 52 Northern artists. Here is a tiny view:

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Jason and I attended the opening ceremony Friday night where five of the artists were honoured with monetary prizes. The gallery was full. Artists and supporters and patrons of the arts mingled and clapped and laughed and partook in the large assortment of refreshments.

You can totally see that we were there:

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Local art is incredibly important to me. Whenever possible, I strive to support a local artist in the decoration of my home, rather than picking something up at Winners or Pottery Barn.

Longtime readers will recognize my desire to support local art in the numerous blog spotlights and features over the last couple years.

Please, wherever you live, support your local economy by supporting locally made goods. If you live in Thunder Bay, there are 52 artists whose works are just dying to make your acquaintance at the art gallery!

Now, one more thing…check out this picture:

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Looks like a typical crowd shot. But if you look closer:

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That’s right, an Eating Dirt favourite, Jessica L. Wyatt Photography is one of the artists in The North Now exhibition! I’m so excited for her amazing accomplishment!

You can’t actually see the pieces in this photo (that I borrowed from the art gallery Facebook page), but there are two ways to remedy that: Number 1, run to the gallery right now or 2, check back tomorrow because I’ve got a big story planned all about Jessica’s latest project!

D.I.Y.

23 Oct

When my mom was a young child, it cost 15 cents to see the movie and 10 cents to get popcorn. She was given 25 cents a week for allowance so it worked out perfectly for her and her brothers.

Ahh, the blissful and simple life of a child in the late fifties/early sixties.

But then the movie price went up to 25 cents and my mom could no longer afford to see the show AND get popcorn. She and her brothers asked their dad if they could have a ten cent increase in their weekly allowance. Rather than compromise and say, “Nope, you can go see the movie and not worry about popcorn” or “If you really want popcorn that badly, you can save up your allowance for two weeks and then go to the show” the gravy train ended. My Grandpa said, “You complain about the amount you get, you get nothing, nice doing business with you.” (paraphrasing)

When my mom was a little older – a young teenager perhaps – she dared to complain to her mother about the bad ironing job she was doing. She told her mom she ironed too quickly and sometimes ironed wrinkles back into the shirts. Her mom did NOT say, “Oh, I’m sorry honey, I’ll be more careful,” she said, “You don’t like the way I iron then you get to do your own ironing!”

On to the next generation…

When I was ten years old, I complained to my mom about the lunches she was packing me for school. I told her I didn’t like the stuff she giving me, no doubt influenced by all the amazing little treasures I saw in my classmates’ lunch boxes (fruit by the foot, so-da-licious, Capri sun juicers). My complaints did not have the desired effect because she did not say, “Oh ok, tell me what you’d like me to pack,” she said, “If you don’t like what I pack in your lunch, then you get to pack your own lunch from now on!”

And again, on to the next generation…

This morning, RJ complained that we had forgotten to put his library books back into his folder. He whined about how we always forget his books up in his bedroom and then he doesn’t have them at school when his class goes to the library.

Jason was the recipient of the complaints this morning and he did not say, “Oh I’m sorry, I’ll try to remember to pack your books from now on.” He said, “Well, it looks like you’re in charge of being responsible for your own books now!”

It’s simple.  (Generally speaking) Parents work hard to meet the needs and desires of their children. If you’re old enough to complain that your parents are doing it wrong, you’re old enough to do it yourself.

You better believe that the second my kids complain about the laundry being done wrong, they’ll be in charge of their own damn clothes!

What do you do if your kids complain about YOU doing something WRONG?

Granted, asking for an increase in your allowance, isn’t exactly complaining that your parents are doing something wrong.  But my grandparents wouldn’t have seen in that way.  They worked hard and did not have a lot of money and they would’ve expected their children to be grateful for what they had and not asked for more.

Momtober Mompreneur Winner!

20 Oct

Whoops! I almost forgot to draw the winning name!

So who’s it going to be?

I’m thrilled that nine lovely ladies entered the draw and told me about the things they do (or attempt to do) in order to stay grounded amongst the stresses of parenting (the comments will be used for an upcoming blog post)

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Trying out a teeny mesh bag instead of a hat today

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My enthusiastic assistant

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Did you catch that?

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Congratulations Donna! I hope you’re able to put these products to good use!

At this point, I am planning to continue with the Momtober Mompreneurs next year! Hopefully I’ll be able to snag a few more moms to help spread the message that YOU are important; you there, mommy, are you listening? Your life can’t only be about children, YOU need hobbies and passions and personal fulfillment. You need to start making messes and turn them into masterpieces!

Stay tuned, I’ll be announcing another exciting giveaway on November 1st

Momtober Mompreneur Giveaway!

16 Oct

I wanted to focus on amazingly creative moms this month because I know how isolating and all-consuming motherhood can be.

All too often, I think, women give birth and lose themselves in the chaos of caring for a child (or children). It’s easy to lose yourself because a new baby, while small, is completely dependent. But it’s so so SO important to retain a sense of self.

Mothers must make time for themselves, they must make time for their partner (if they have one), they must make time for friends, and they must make time for interests outside of parenting duties.

If you do not maintain your sense of self amidst the chaos of parenting, you will get lost and cease to exist (figuratively speaking).

The mothers I introduced this month (Marie, Jacquie, Meagan, and Julia) are great examples of women who have found a way to express their creativity to avoid getting lost in the day-to-day monotony of mothering.

Well, Jacquie hasn’t actually given birth yet, but she has obviously set up a strong foundation of creativity.

Me and my Mompreneur friends are urging mothers everywhere to find a creative outlet. It doesn’t have to be something that makes you money, but it should be something that excites you.

In honour of finding something that excites you, these amazing women have donated some amazing prizes:

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Here are a few things I threw in: Some Bunny Loves You (a silly music and picture book) by Jesse Thom, The amazing stain removing stick from Bunchafarmers.ca, and a medicine dropper for babies (because I had several of these, unopened in my cupboard for some reason).

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and then…

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AND

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Now unfortunately, this is a local contest because I can’t afford to send anything through the mail right now.

On the plus side, one lucky person here in Thunder Bay is going to have this prize pack delivered to his or her door.

Please comment on this post to enter the contest.

Tell me what you do in order to maintain your SELF and avoid getting lost in motherhood. You don’t have to be a mother to enter though. You can be a father as well. If you are not a parent or caregiver of some sort, tell me what you do to avoid getting lost in the business of living a busy life.

The contest will close Sunday (October 19th) at midnight and the winning name will be drawn on Monday October 20th!

Momtober Mompreneurs: Spotlight on Julia

15 Oct

Final installment:

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Yesterday, I ended my monogamous relationship with sewing Mama Katie when I introduced sewing mama Meagan.

Today I’m introducing another sewing mama by the name of Julia.

I said I would be doing my future baby present shopping exclusively with yesterday’s feature but…that was a lie. Somehow I’m going to have to split my baby shopping between all four of the Momtober Mompreneurs. And Katie.

Don’t worry Katie, I’ll never forever you!

So, who is Julia?

She is the busy young mom behind Mommy Can Sew!

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Please visit her Facebook page here and her Etsy shop here!

Julia has kindly shared special memories with me of her childhood in South America, watching her grandfather work as a professional tailor. She loved exploring her grandfather’s fabric warehouse and was fascinated by the many bolts of colourful fabric.

Julia’s mother was not a tailor or seamstress but spent a lot of time creating various pieces on her personal sewing machine. Julia loved to watch her mother work and eventually experimented with dolly clothes and simple things like curtains and pillowcases.

The birth of Julia’s daughter is what prompted the shift from hobby to serious business! She never actually intended to start a business but friends kept making requests and finally, she just decided to go for it!

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In her own words:

I started by sewing toys and blankets that my daughter could play (and nap) with. Then I found myself making her dresses, shoes, bibs, more toys, and finally, carriers.

I went searching for the perfect carrier that would be easy to put on and take off without dragging it all over the ground, something that would be light, comfortable for me and my baby, and very portable. I also wanted something strong and pretty. I discovered the mei tai style carriers and it was love at first sight! I made one for myself and then other moms started asking me if I could make one for them or one for their little girls to wear their dolls.

So I’ve created this page where I can share the products that I make, and give moms and dads a place to make requests. If there’s something that you don’t see here but you would like to have made, please let me know! I’m always trying to make new things that I see at the store or in pictures… or worn by people walking down the street! HA!

We should take a look at some of the amazing things this amazing Mommy Can Sew:

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this is what you might see if you find Julia at a craft sale or a flea market event

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letter taggy toys

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bibs with pacifier clips

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personalized tooth fairy pillows

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child-sized mei-tai doll carriers

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dolly diapers

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child sized quilt

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very portable tote bag

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toddler harness

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child-sized art smock

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shopping cart covers

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portable picnic blankets

And a few funky fabric choices:

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Now, as a preschooler, Julia’s daughter is starting to watch what her mommy is doing. She is fascinated by the sewing machine and even asked to have one of her very own.

How could Julia possibly resist the chance to nurture the talent of a fourth generation sewer!?

Right now, Julia’s daughter is creating beautiful messes, but it is very likely these messes will move towards masterpieces.

What a great thought: from messes to masterpieces.

Tomorrow, I’m going to reveal the fabulous Momtober Mompreneur giveaway!

Momtober Mompreneurs: Spotlight on Megan

14 Oct

Instalment number three:

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Everybody who reads this blog regularly will know about my love and devotion to Sew Whimsical by Katie. Katie was featured on Eating Dirt in 2013 as a young mom specializing in adorable stuffed toys, personalized buntings, and baby quilts.

Since that first feature, readers have seen Katie’s product line evolve and develop. Her most recent project is a breast feeding dolly that gives birth. Check out her page for more information on this amazing dolly!

I almost feel like I’m cheating on a lover by saying this, but I want to introduce you to TWO more sewing mamas…

It’s okay though because Katie has given me her blessing!

I guess you could say we have an open relationship.

Did I just take it too far?

Anyway…

The first sewing mama is Meagan from Sweet Beginnings.

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Meagan grew up with a very creative mother but she didn’t make her own sewing attempt until grade seven. After the brief yet pleasant experience of sewing a stuffed bunny in Grade 7 Design/Tech class, Meagan didn’t really sew again until University. But it wasn’t until getting engaged that she really embraced her crafty roots!

Meagan wanted to hand-make decorations and party favours for her wedding so she got really busy with the sewing – she even sewed mug sleeves for each wedding guest. Meagan’s mom gifted her with a sewing machine, lots of accessories, and an old serger and that’s when things kicked into high gear.

Let’s here from Meagan:

I began making gifts for all my friends who were having babies, such as receiving blankets, burp cloths, and bibs. When I received my serger everything became easier, faster and more professional looking! I learned new techniques and found new patterns and ideas to try.

In April 2013, while on maternity leave with my first born, I decided to open Sweet Beginnings. More and more people were requesting the same things I had made for my own child and I realized this could actually turn into a real business. At this point now, wet bags (for cloth diapers), reusable snack bags, and travel change pads are my most popular items. People seek them out, especially at craft shows.

I love being able to work with people to make exactly what they envision for their little ones. It’s the reason I started making things for my son – I had ideas and couldn’t find what I wanted in stores!

Meagan has recently welcomed another child into her family and it has barely slowed her down!

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See, there she is with her new baby and her infinity scarf that transforms into a nursing cover. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

Perusing through the photos on her Facebook page leave me completely wanting. Not only do I want one of everything, but I want all the beautiful and geeky fabric choices too!

Check out these fabrics:

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These fabric choices are just calling to my inner geek.

Check out some of the items that Meagan offers:

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more infinity scarves

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bibs

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crib guard-rail covering

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reusable (and washable) baby wipes

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reusable (and washable) breast pads

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amusing little taggy blankets

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receiving blankets

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diaper cover and tie for special photo-shoots

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bean-bags!

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reusable snack bags and/or toiletry bags

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toddler belts (to make baggy pants fit skinny little waists)

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cute comfortable pants ranging in sizes from newborn to pre-school

If you see something you like, but you want it in a different colour, Meagan is able to take that into consideration. Some things, like the baby pants, can only be made with stretchy material, and some things can only be made with regular cotton. But there is a lot of pattern variety and Meagan is always shopping for new fabric.

I love the simple and sturdy nature of Sweet Beginnings’ products. Everything is so well made and fairly priced that it doesn’t make sense to NOT shop with Meagan. I know where I’ll be looking for baby presents in the future!

Second sewing mama and final Momtober Mompreneur spotlight tomorrow!

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