Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grand Openings, Salons, Sugar Shacks, Writing, and a Birthday Girl

I attended my friend Sarah's grand opening of her and her and her friend Alysia's store L'essentiel et les Petits Riens. It was SO nice! I left with a much lighter wallet, scoring some homeopathic remedies that you are unlikely to find all in one spot. I also bought some essential oils I was low on, and some treats for myself, like powdered goat's milk (to wash my face with), organic rose hip oil (to moisturize), and some yummy black licorice (not the crappy processed kind). It was a great evening, and I'm glad to see lots of people were coming in and out. I wish them total success, and am happy I have my official "doula bag" stocking one stop shop. They also sell some of the most exquisite cloth diapers on the planet. My friend Ilana and her business partner Amy are the ladies behind the incredible line of Applecheeks reusable diapers. Learn more about them at http://www.applecheeks.com/ Check out L'essentiel et les Petits Riens at http://www.savonpopulaire.ca/


More friends are having a grand opening! Marie-Maude and Renee, 2 sweet and wonderful moms and lactation advocates, are holding the official opening of their space on Monday night, which is super convenient for me, because I'll be teaching the last class in my MotherWit Birth Essentials Prenatal Education series there. The name of this space, which is a combination cafe/breastfeeding friendly parent and baby hangout/breastfeeding resource centre/store/carrier of hard to find breastfeeding support paraphernalia, is called Melons et Clementines. Can you imagine a cuter name for a center which focuses on breastfeeding?! And when you say it with a Montreal French accent it sounds chic and saucy too. Marie-Maude told me she and Renee came up with the name to celebrate all kinds of breasts. I keep forgetting to eye their chest areas to determine who is the Melons and who is the Clementines in that team, but I'll figure it out one day. I am so happy for them, and I wish them too all the success in the world. They are meeting a lot of the community's needs. I hope to see you there! http://www.melonsetclementines.com/

I am very excited to be attending the fundraising event for my dear friend Rivka's organization Montreal Birth Companions tomorrow, a workshop by Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona (author of Coyote Medicine and other great books) on Birth and Healing. This workshop is going to be AMAZING, and the proceeds will be going to support a crucial cause Rivka champions, which is to provide good doula care to women of need. If you haven't registered, come anyway and pay at the door. http://birthandhealing.weebly.com/index.html

Yesterday I stopped by the Salon Maternite Paternite Enfants (Parent and Baby Fair), a yearly massive event held at Place Bonaventure. I was invited to hang out with the gang at the Boutique Bummis stall. I was honoured, because Bummis is a Montreal institution. It was a godsend to live so close to their Mont Royal store as a mother of young children. It is where I've bought most of my diaper covers (I still have my little cow covers with the red background and the beautiful blue fishy motifed onces...they make me sniffle with nostalgia), baby carriers, nursing bras, teething necklaces, baby slippers, great baby sun hats, and all of the sundries that make conscious shopping for Baby fun. Betsy and Shirley, the owners, run an incredible business. This is a store that truly supports attachment parenting. They are very generous, constantly giving so much to the community, and lending their support. Bummis has been at the heart of the Montreal attachment parenting community for longer than I can remember, and are champions of causes pertaining to mothers and children. So it was a lot of fun to hang out with the girls there. Jamie, Director of Retail Operations of Bummis, is tireless in her promotion of attachment parenting, bringing her kindness and enthusiasm with her everywhere she goes. She has a real gift for bringing people together. www.bummis.com


While the Bummis girls tended to the endless streams of customers, doing demos of baby carriers and cloth diapering, I got the opportunity to hand out hundreds upon hundreds of samples to the mothers and mothers-to-be passing by. There were samples of products from Earth Mama Angel Baby (which are heavenly....just smell them), and Bummis cloth breast pads for breastfeeding moms. I thought these pads were BRILLIANT give aways. Women would take them, ask what they were, and I'd get to explain they were reusable cotton nursing pads. People's eyes would light up and they'd say, "wow, that's so practical...and so cute!" and were really happy to receive such a nice gift. If they weren't breastfeeding, they'd say, "I'll keep them for the next baby," or "I know a friend who'd love these."

What was so interesting, was that the majority of people coming to this Salon were not attachment parenting types. I could not believe the barrage of SUV like strollers! They clogged up everything, and looked so cumbersome, yet are considered to be essential items! It was amazing to see moms and dads with their car like proportioned strollers encasing tiny babies watch demonstrations of the various baby carriers Bummis sells, and to hear them say "wow...what a great idea!" It is a misconception that the average baby is too heavy to carry for hours on end. With the wraps and carriers that are so beautifully designed for comfort, it seems so much less trouble than lugging around this ginormous baby pushing contraption. I have carried all four of my babies 'til they were 3 (and sometimes more). I was given a jogging stroller once because I thought I needed it, but truly, only used it a few times because it was just so difficult to navigate in buses, stores, etc. After that experiment, I never bought anything bigger than those simple umbrella strollers. Those things are hardy! I could carry 40 pounds of groceries over the handles of those suckers, I kid you not. They were so easy, once the kids were too big to carry but too little to walk at my pace and for the crazy amount of time I walk for, to boot up Metro stairs with, and took up almost no space on a bus. When people decided they needed these monster strollers, I have no idea, but they are EVERYWHERE!

Another interesting thing about this Salon were the formula company kiosques. Sadly, they had line-ups. I tend to be very diplomatic when putting forth my beliefs, and hope there is room for everybody. I know people have had to resort to formula when there were challenges with breastfeeding, and I know not everyone has a lot of good education regarding breastfeeding. But I just cannot understand how breastfeeding can be in good conscience a "lifestyle" choice. I know there are circumstances in which for whatever reason, a woman may hate breastfeeding. Okay, fine, she needs support, not judgement for her choice. But to not want to try breastfeeding at all because it's ugly or inconvenient? I just don't get it, and can't find a clear place in my heart from which to support that.

Nestle's formula company had this massive, round kiosk pretty much smack in the middle of the whole event. It was so weird. There were all these funky little Quebec eco baby clothes designer stalls, natural products, lovely wooden toys, many attachment parenting promoting stalls, Melons and Clementines, La Leche League, and the Quebec Association of Midwives had stalls...and then this huge formula promoting thing! It would be as weird as if you were in a Celebration of Sexuality Fair....full of all kinds of cool little stalls with fun, sexy lingerie, yummy massage oils, nifty toys, important information on STD and conception prevention, kiosks celebrating all kinds of diverse expressions of sexuality, all in the spirit of love and fun....with a massive VIAGRA stall smack dab in the middle....as if all of these small, beautifully intentioned, supportive people were overshadowed by this giant wheel hub whose message was, "This is all very well and good, but we expect your body to fail at some point, and we will be here to pick you up." And oh, the price for succumbing to this message! Sigh, it was very frustrating.

I felt like I was handing out those reusable breast pads, Jamie was promoting those diapers, and the other girls were demonstrating those baby carriers with a serious purpose. It was fun, lively, and friendly, but make no mistake...in the looming shadow of that unsavoury giant, Bummis and all those others folks with their eco/parenting friendly products and services, were out there to change the world. I felt very proud to be there. A few times I even felt emotional about how important all of the amazing women I have mentioned in this post are to our community. I wasn't at the Salon long, and was so happy to come and to have fun hanging out with Jamie and answer any doula like questions that may have come up from customers, so I was so surprised when Jamie said, 'I want you to pick out an Origami Wrap to thank you." GASP?! All of you MotherWit Blog fans are deeply aware of how much I have wanted one of these beautiful, soft, organic cotton jersey wrap shirts by Lilla P. And here it came as a gift! I chose a beautiful, rich Iris coloured wrap, and my daughter Oona and I had great fun playing with it all evening, trying out the different ways to wear it. I am SO grateful, Bummis ladies! Thank you, thank you, thank you! For everything.

Today was the annual pilgrimage to the Cabane a Sucre (Sugar Shack) with my husband's work. If you are not from these parts, I have to give you the low down on this campy but fun Quebec Springtime ritual. Quebec is a major producer of maple syrup. We have tons of Maple farms, and in the spring, the sap flows and the new batches of syrup are canned and bottled. For a couple of months of the year, these farms act as Sugar Shacks, which is sort of a celebration of the syrup harvest. This is how a typical trip to the Cabane a Sucre goes: You park, and wait in a holding area for 30 minutes or so until your group has gathered. Finally, you are sat at a massive picnic table which takes up the length of the room (there are rows upon rows of them, as these places get packed). On the table there is white bread, and toast, with little plates of creton (head cheese), mason jars of pickled delicacies, and jugs of maple syrup.

After nibbling upon these snacks, you are given a bowl of traditional pea soup (it's super good), and a steaming cup of coffee that you sweeten with maple syrup. After the soup, there are plates of egg pie. Not quiche, just a dozen or so plain eggs stirred up and cooked in a pie plate. There are also bowls of plain steamed potatoes, farm made sausages that look like cocktail weenies, ham, and Oreilles de Crisse (translation: Ears of Christ), which are deep fried, smoked pork jowls. All is to be smothered with great gobs of maple syrup. For dessert it varies, and today we had soft ice cream (which you are supposed to slather with syrup), sugar pie (which is so good, I can't even describe it), pouding chomeur (translation: unempolyment pudding), and usually pancakes (which we didn't have today for some reason, but they're supposed to be there). To accompany your dining experience, there are strains of traditional Quebec songs, which are made up of a sort of a mixture of French and Celtic fiddle music that you could stomp around in your boots to, and have titles like "Chez Ma Tante Gervaise" (At My Aunt Gervaise's Place).

After you pull your overfed bulk from behind the table, you can go take a hay ride, or a trip through the petting zoo. There were Indian Peacocks, strange black and white turkeys with red and blue heads, white geese which looked like they had puffy brain like things on their heads, stumpy little ponies, and manky sheep. After that, you give a nice man a ticket, and it buys you a popsicle stick. You are led to a trough filled with packed snow (whence the snow comes, I don't know, and don't want to know), and upon this snow is placed lines of tire (pronounced teer, which means "pull"). Tire is maple syrup that's been boiled down, and it's thick and taffy like. When it's ladled thinly in lines on the snow, it hardens. You take your popsicle stick, and roll that gob of sticky tire over it, and then gobble it up. As long as you can manage to hang on to your stick, you can usually do several lines of tire (yes, I blatantly use a coke analogy, because I imagine there's not much of a difference in feeling). But once you lose your stick, you're out of there.

It's a good time. What was fun was reconnecting with the people my husband works with. I attended the birth of one of the couples there last year, and got to hang out with Baby Olivia, who is now one. I'm not trying to be esoteric when I say this, but I swear there is often a spark of recognition in the eyes of a child whose birth I attended (up to the age of 18 months or so), and they usually seem very happy to sit and snuggle with me for a time. Catching up with the babies you've seen into the world is one of the big perks of doula work.

When I came home, I checked out my email message from The Birth Project. They featured my blog on "Control" in the Spring Edition of their magazine, and I am quite proud of that. I have always enjoyed writing, but never imagined people would start asking for my work. Check out http://www.birthproject.com/ to see what they're up to.

Lastly, I want to wish Sue Appleton, a very important lady in the land of MotherWit, a huge and heartfelt HAPPY BIRTHDAY! May this be a year full of nothing but wonderful things. Hugs, Sue!

Have a great weekend, Everybody!