May 23, 2017

Let the Adventure Begin

Not that the adventure ever ended, our family has always embraced change. We have moved countless times over the past 14 years, and each new place has offered something to be grateful for.  

Like when we moved from windy Wellington NZ to Auckland and I cried in Parliament Gardens because I loved that city so much, but when we arrived in Devonport, a suburb just north of Auckland I felt I finally arrived home.  It was to be our home for 8 years and was such a gem for our family.  

Mark and Baby Lucas overlooking Mt Victoria in Wellington, NZ

We left our beautiful New Zealand a few weeks ago for a new adventure and while it has been bumpy and an imperfect journey I love it just the same. My sons are no longer babies, they are independent, filled with energy and they too are excited about our next chapter. We have chosen Bainbridge Island in the Pacific NW to call our home, a place with a strong sense of community and respect for the environment. Those are our values, and for us, it's important to live in an environment where we share common beliefs with our community. 

Equally important is being closer to our family and friends, spending time together and building memories as well as reminiscing about old times. It is important for my children to know their roots and traditions. 

Mark, Lucas, and Leo overlooking the Oregon Coast

And lastly, I am thrilled, over the moon happy to be a part of Hushamok in the US. I am excited about collaborating and understanding the needs of families and Hushamok, a gift that will ease the sometimes tricky transition from womb to the world.  I am excited to announce that Hushamok will be exhibiting at the upcoming Seattle BabyFest in September. I am so looking forward to meeting expectant parents as well as potential Hushamok partners to share the beauty of our designs. 

I am also grateful for another sunny day on Bainbridge Island and wonder what the day will bring. Until next time, cheers. Julie

May 13, 2017

Big-Time Changes

If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.
 -Mother Teresa

3, 2, 1 go.

After nearly 14 years living in New Zealand, our family has taken the BIG plunge and landed ourselves in Seattle. After years of a lifestyle that is everything we'd dreamed of - beautiful, green, spacious, safe and so much more, the one thing we didn't have in NZ was our extended families. Of course, we've made connections with friends and our community but we still felt the gaping hole where family should be. Sure, they visited a few times but family should be a constant, not an infrequent occurrence. Holidays, birthdays and special occasions were celebrated via Skype and Facebook, which I am thankful for but it made me yearn for more. I also worried about my children's connection to their grandparents and cousins and that their memory banks would be empty when it came to family.

I know the transition will be challenging on so many levels, at the very core are the cultural differences between New Zealand and America. My children speak and act "Kiwi" and they haven't known anything else. Their associations with the US are summer holidays, Disney and excess. My eldest is fascinated with Donald Trump. Yes, there will be challenges, for sure. But I am also looking forward to the loving support of family. 

And for me, I'm excited to get back to my roots, both personally and professionally, connecting with old friends and building new business contacts. I am not scared of the unknown but venturing into new terrain is daunting and I am so thankful to have the support of family to see me on my way.  

February 17, 2017

The Importance Of Self Care

The other night I attended a Restorative Yin Yoga class. It was one hour of bliss that I desperately needed and craved. During this one hour, I was able to just shut out the world, observe my breath, quiet my mind and stretch my body. I was able to completely forget about my fears, worries, concerns and day-to-day irritations, at least for a little while.

It was an hour of rest that I needed badly after a few long weeks at work combined with my crazy, busy home life. I have been stressed lately and it has been spilling over into my relationships with my family. I am more cranky than usual, I am less patient and less understanding. I am not sleeping well or enough and all that has a ripple effect on my daily life and the people in it.

The yoga class helped me a lot to remind myself why self-care and rest are so important. Self-care is not something I have always practiced. I had to learn this in the last few years since my divorce. I always believed that self-care meant being selfish. I grew up with a mother who never did anything for herself. Everything she did was for her family. I don't remember her ever going out for coffee with a friend or to a movie. She was always home and there for us. I am not sure if it was something women of her generation didn't do or if it was just a select few, like my Mom. While I still appreciate the fact that she was always there for us, I naturally grew up believing that this is what you do for your family and that doing things for yourself would be selfish.

So, when my own children were small I also, more often than not, put myself at the bottom of the list when it came to taking care of people. In the last few years, I had to learn doing things by myself and for myself. I needed self-care and restful times because I was dealing with a lot of stress issues due to my divorce. It was a steep learning curve. I remember the first day when I was home by myself (my son had just starting going to be with his father every other week and my daughters had moved out) and I decided to just stay in bed and read all day and watch movies. It was a cold winter day and doing this was wonderful, as I wanted to be cozy and warm. I remember feeling so guilty thinking about all the things I could and should have done in the house but at that point, I desperately needed the rest. I went to work the next day a much happier person. I was happier, more relaxed and a lot more pleasant to be around.

Since that day one of my daughters has moved back into my house with my granddaughter, who is as busy and chatty as she is sweet and adorable. Because my daughter's schedule sometimes requires her working on weekends, I spend a lot of time with and looking after my granddaughter. My adult son, who has Down Syndrome, Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease also lives with me every other week and my life tends to be quite busy and a little crazy at times.

I have tried to make self-care and rest a regular thing throughout my week. Yoga classes help enormously. However, I have also started going straight to my room after a long day at work or on days when I am mentally and physically drained, to just be by myself for a while. I find that a half hour of quietness with nobody talking to me does a great deal for my well being. It helps me to recharge my batteries. I try to fit in a few minutes to myself every day, sometimes by simply getting up 15 minutes before everyone else does in the morning and doing a short meditation or simply sitting by myself to drink a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise. Self-care doesn't have to be anything elaborate. A few minutes at the beginning or end of the day, or even just on a lunchbreak. I sometimes sit in the lunchroom at work for 10 or 15 minutes with my headphones in my ears listening to relaxing music and my eyes closed to drown out the noise of my day. It could be anything that helps to take your mind off your obligations, stresses and fears for a little while - a short 15-minute walk in the fresh air; a hot bath or foot soak at the end of a long day.

We can all get into the habit of practicing self-care. We will be much happier people, especially as parents when we do take the time to rest and recharge once in a while. There is nothing to feel guilty about.

 

Author: Ingrid Bizio
Photo: Hushamok

 

Ingrid Bizio has had a keen interest in books and foreign languages since her childhood in Germany. She immigrated to Canada at the age of 23, has three grown children (her youngest child has Down Syndrome and multiple health challenges) and is now, in her turn, reading books to her granddaughter in German and English. Ingrid works part time in jewelry sales and is an inspirational creative writer for a business Facebook page. She currently resides in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

 

January 31, 2017

Helping New Mothers Relax

As we focus on getting our babies to sleep, we often forget that we ourselves need to get some R&R as well. We all have our own ways of relaxing; some like bubble baths, and others like yoga or going for a run to unwind at the end of the day.

Yet often, even just finding the time just to sit down becomes an impossible task. Your baby becomes your priority over anything, but how can you be a great parent when you don’t make the time to take care of yourself?



The first thing you need to do is figure out your baby’s schedule and rotation. In the first couple of months, Parents Magazine explains that a baby’s sleep cycle is erratic, so in that time, you really should be adjusting your daily routines accordingly. At around 3 months is when sleep patterns become predictable, which is when you can start to have a regular schedule of your own. Simple things, like setting your alarm 1 hour before the baby usually wakes rather than just 15 minutes prior, or allotting the last two hours before bedtime to catch up with your favourite book, will give you more “me time” and help you feel more energised for the busy days ahead.

Something else that gets in the way of relieving daily stress is how you choose to relax. While checking our phones for messages or social media updates has almost become second nature, these apps don’t offer the amount of relaxation mothers need to really unwind from their hectic schedules. Thus, so much of our day gets consumed by our social apps, whether you’re posting something new on SnapChat or mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed. As an Instagram mum reveals in an interview with Tootsa brand manager Julia Smee, it feels like you’re on the job 24/7. Sometimes the best thing for you to do is just disconnect for a little while, or at least don’t check your phone within the first hour after waking up or the last hour before going to bed. You want to start off the day on a good note, and have a decent amount of sleep for the night.

Finally, give your baby some personal space. As much as infants need a lot of attention and care, they also need some independence. Most parents are under the impression that they need to do so much for their newborns, but 1- and 2-month-olds are fascinated by the simplest of things. As the experts from The Bump have shared, babies have just come out of the womb and can do with some alone time in a safe environment to experience the world. This will result in a longer attention span, and more time for you throughout the day.

Once you adopt these little habits here and there, you’ll find the time to take care of your baby without sacrificing sleep or your quality alone time. Being a mother is hard, and there is absolutely no need for you to feel guilty whenever you admit you are stressed or need a moment to rejuvenate, mentally and physically.

Written by Aleah Kristin
Exclusive for hushamok.com

November 23, 2016

Grateful

This Thanksgiving, the last few weeks of pregnancy are upon me…that in between time of waiting, stretching, resting, and watching for signs of labor! Everything seems to slow down as my head and my heart focuses on nothing but this new life that is about to change mine forever. Within four weeks, she’ll be here. And it couldn’t be a more fitting time of the year to welcome our new little one, as we are so grateful for her life and the joy she’ll bring to our little family.

This time, these weeks are full of anticipation as I await baby girl #2’s arrival. Knowing what I’m in for has me even more excited than I was before my first daughter’s birth two years ago. I was caught off guard the first time by all my new baby’s needs, I struggled to try to keep my life the same as it was before, and I didn’t give myself a chance to savour the sweet moments that truly flew by. I’m grateful for another chance to do so, and for my new mindset of acceptance and enjoyment of motherhood.

As a first-time mom, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t ready for the long days and longer nights. It was a rough adjustment, and my daughter was what I reluctantly describe as “clingy” (I’d prefer a more positive term, but this way we all know what I’m talking about!). Most of my memories of the newborn days are of endless hours she spent in my arms, my growling stomach reminding me around noon each day that I hadn’t set her down once to get a bite to eat yet. She wouldn’t last more than a few moments in her bassinet without bursting into tears that would not relent. I tried babywearing, setting her in her swing, and singing to her, but nothing soothed her to sleep until she was returned to my arms.

My husband may not have been able to soothe her cries, but he was and always will be the baby gear expert in our home. He knows all the latest trends and products, and he sorts through them all before I hear his famous words: “Hey, come check out this stroller! [or car seat, or nursing pillow, or…] It literally does all the work for you and it’s so easy to use, it’s the best one out there right now.” And cue the snazzy marketing video on his laptop, demoing all of that stroller’s amazing benefits! I can’t tell you how many times that exact scenario played out in our living room after dinnertime as we prepared for each baby’s arrival. And we never regretted a purchase, because he did his homework and found the most convenient, efficient gear around! It really made life easier while I was so preoccupied with a clingy baby to not have to worry about complicated, frustrating gear.

So when we found out I was pregnant with our next baby and my husband introduced me to the Hushamok, I got excited. It was the first thing we purchased for our baby, and it remains the one thing I look forward to using most when she arrives! I have newfound hope that maybe this little one will sleep a little better than my firstborn did, that I’ll have a little more time to eat and take care of myself during the day. For a new mom, every moment counts! Even 5 more minutes to wash my face and brush my teeth in the morning is a blessing worth counting.

We’re finishing up this little one’s nursery, and the Hushamok’s design is simply beautiful. It lends a quiet peacefulness to her room. I love looking at it, and daydreaming about watching my little girl’s sweet face as she naps. My two year old demonstrates how she’ll gently rock the baby to sleep in her hammock, and it makes my heart happy to see her excitement about her new role as mommy’s helper, the big sister.

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the chance to do things differently the second time around, to be excited about motherhood instead of overwhelmed and to give my daughter a gentle, womb-like place to sleep where she feels safe and calm. I’m grateful for my two-year old’s sweet spirit to help her momma take care of the new baby. And I’m grateful for these last few weeks (or days!) that I have to wait and prepare, rest and daydream, for all the beautiful moments ahead.

We're ramping up a new Hushamok offering by honouring your voices. We are so very grateful to introduce Gina Hackbarth, a Hushamok enthusiast and this month's guest writer. Gina is a crunchy mom of 2, introvert, certified personal trainer, bookworm, crochet addict, and mountain lover trapped in the Sunshine State! For more on Gina’s journey visit her her blog, Fit Oils Momma, and Instagram, @fitoilsmomma.  If you're interested in writing for Hushamok email us at info@hushamok.com

October 08, 2016

Playing it Safe, sort of

I love Halloween.  I love the candy, the dress up, knocking on stranger's doors asking them for food.  It's so over the top, and as a kid, I thought I'd won the jackpot every time Halloween rolled around.  

I'm beginning to have mixed feelings about this holiday now that I'm a parent and trying to raise responsible and respectful beings  Which is a bummer because I love Halloween as much as my boys do.

I think one of the reasons may be that things have changed from when I was a child, as they often do. Growing up, it was a rare treat to have a candy bar, while nowadays you can expect to find sugary sweets everywhere, much to my irritation. Kids are rewarded with candy all the time; at school for being doing good, as a way to raise funds for school fundraisers, as a reward at sporting events, and I didn't even mention what retail tries to sell us.

Halloween is once a year, so we go all out.  For 24 hours we will live, breathe and eat candy, celebrating this fun holiday like we are climbing Mt Everest.  For every other day, I tread lightly, supporting my children by limiting their exposure to the temptations of sugar. I try and keep them out of gas stations, supermarkets, and pharmacies until they are old enough to understand someone is trying to sell them something they don't need. As for the school and sport, I pick my battles carefully.

Hope you all enjoy this year's spooky holiday celebration, it's sure to be over the top this year.  And after it's over look I will look be happy to say goodbye to gluttony for another year. Unless, of course, I decide to take on Thanksgiving.

September 03, 2016

Seasons of Change

 

I  just love all those pictures on FB, kids posing for their first day of school, faces brimming with excitement. And the Instagram pics that so beautifully capture the last bits of summer, basking at the beach with magical sunsets in the background.

It sometimes feels like I'm peeking into a crystal ball to see what's right around the corner because here in New Zealand we're getting ready to say goodbye to Winter and hello to Spring.  

Change is so mysterious and taking the time to enjoy what we have right here, right now can sometimes be even more elusive.  Thinking back at some of our family adventures makes me warm inside but I can't help but feel excitement for what's to come too. Summer in Auckland is spectacular, no two ways about it.  Sailing, swimming surfing and that's just the S's!

But change can also be daunting and rushed so I hope during this holiday weekend families can take some time to relax.  

May 27, 2016

Building Memories

Over the weekend, it rained and then it rained some more. New Zealand can be tough in winter and we're not winning awards for indoor entertainment.

But, there is no shortage of beaches here; black sand, white sand, big swell, tide pools, caves - you name, we've got diversity in our coastline and I was desperate for some fresh air, space and salt so off to the beach we went.

We headed to the rugged west coast, Bethells Beach is about an hour West of Auckland but feels like I've been transported to another universe. On this day it was windy and the black fine sand danced along the vast, empty landscape. My boys decided to race ahead and it got me thinking about the memories we build for ourselves and for generations to come.

Webster dictionary defines memorial as, 'something designed to preserve the memory of a person...'. For me, pictures are a key memory holder and lately they bring up lots of questions, particularly from my eldest son. With all the channels and collection of images, I wonder how they will be used in the future to tell our stories?

Over the past year, I've put together rough scrapbooks which will never be Pinterest worthy but I hope will serve as memory boxes for my children. I wonder where they will be in 20 years? So much change in the world today but also yearning for the way things used to be.

Have a thoughtful Memorial weekend.

September 28, 2015

Where the Magic Happens

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
-Neale Donald Walsch

For me, the ultimate comfort is My-T-Fine pudding, a tradition that spans my earliest memories. And now, every year I bring that tradition back to our home in New Zealand so that my children can also enjoy this delicious treat.  

But if chocolate pudding is an analogy to my life's comfort, what does that say about my world?  It is complex, for sure. Well over a decade ago, my husband (then partner) and I opted for a journey that included non-traditional choices, such as living overseas many thousands of miles away from our support structures. Each year we make the trek back to the States to spend time with our much missed loved ones. We frolic in the attention and energy that comes with a large family and network of friends. 

The logistics of living out of suitcases, sleeping in guest rooms and sterile hotels can wreak havoc on sleep schedules which is why always get a tinge of worry about whether we will feel rested while travelling. I'm not sure if it's the constant emotional and physical stimuli, but I always seem to achieve deep sleep because I awake feeling rested and alive. The same goes for my boys, (times 10) which is also why I need a cold pressed coffee in the AM so I can rev up to their speed. 

Now we are back in the sanctuary and solitude of New Zealand, a very different vibe to America. I love it here too, but I can't help missing my creature comforts from a former life.  Until next time.

Julie

 
August 24, 2015

Blame it on sleep deprivation

At first I thought I was reading The Onion but oh no, it's a real study that concluded having a baby is the equivalent of walking around with a black cloud hanging over your head.  Like even worse than divorce, losing a job, the death of a spouse, wait what???  

This can't be true.  

But it is. Check it out: 
Blame It on Lack of Sleep Study

A few things to point out; the study only looked at first-time parents aka those that have fantasized about how perfect their child will be. How baby will effortlessly latch on to your breast, sleep for 3 hours at a time and progress to 6-8 hour stretches by 12 months. How baby will sleep in a front back during shopping, and you will nap when baby naps.  

Another observation, researchers followed parents for up to two years after their first child’s birth. During those first two years baby is going through a series of monumental developmental milestones that are often disruptive to any semblance of order. Of course, this can be a frustrating time for new parents.

And when baby arrives, life can be difficult.  At times parenting may feel like a ton of brick sitting on your chest because baby only falls asleep in your arms, and you're afraid to put baby down, afraid to move a muscle because you need this child to sleep. 

Sleep deprivation, self-doubt, the immense responsibility of parenthood can be a massive challenge but, these findings are overdramatic and lack perspective.  Our advice, try and get some rest when you can, if you can, maybe even get your baby a Hushamok.

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