Review: The Cloud Yoga Mat

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve been doing yoga. Slowly, and in a mostly unbalanced manner, but yoga nonetheless. For the longest time, any floor exercises I’ve done have been with the aid of a mat that my husband got me a few years ago — it was decent at the time, if not a bit thin, but at this point it’s literally falling apart in small pieces.

I started the hunt for a yoga mat, and gave Matt my wishlist — “Thick, and longer than a standard mat, heavy enough to keep itself down on the ground without moving, and a decent price.” I looked all over the place and kept getting stuck on one factor or another… if it was long enough it was too expensive, if it was affordable, it was too thin. So, I really lucked out when Peak Fulfillment hooked me up with a Cloud Yoga Mat (sent to me for review — thanks!).


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The Pea Incident

There’s this sitcom husband trope — man, with good intentions, ruins wife’s plants. It happens in real life. I know this because my mom’s boyfriend is not allowed near her lilac trees, a high school friend posted a Facebook rant about her perennials and a weed-whacker, and my own husband razed my okra earlier this year. And then there was the Pea Incident.

I was super excited about my peas this year. I grew three kinds, constructed a fence, lovingly tied on twine and helped the peas along with velcro ties. They were starting to bloom, and things were looking promising. We harvested a few here and there — M loved them, and I was impressed with how they were growing. Garden success!


I went out to check on the peas one night and found them in disarray. The twine on the fences was shifted all around and most of the vines were crumpled. On further investigation, it came out that someone whose name rhymes with rat… splat… maybe vampire bat… accidentally smashed a giant piece of wood into the peas while attempting to clean up the yard. It was wet, and slippery, and the whole thing came crashing down right into the vines. And he was hoping they would fix themselves.

I was only mad for a day (“I hope that EVERY TIME you eat peas you FEEL BAD”) and then gave into the fact that there was nothing I could do save for institute a protective you-shall-not-pass radius around the peas next year. The snap peas are ruined, but we may still get some of the shelling peas. Total bummer!

Gardening has been kind of a mess this year, to be honest. Many of the flowers are doing well, but every time I think we have a vegetable locked down for success something happens. I was just saying, “We’ll definitely get tomatoes!” but when I looked at them last night, it appears all of the rain we’ve had is transmitting some kind of infection, so I have to go up today, prune the lower branches, and hope for the best.

There’s a quote, “One of the healthiest ways to gamble is with a spade and a package of garden seeds.” With that in mind I’ll accept this season of gambling and see what comes next.

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I’ve had a very busy July. Sometimes I feel like I’m crawling my way out of a ball pit that just keeps filling up — work, home, parenting, chores, sleep-deprivation, long-term plans, short-term survival. That sounds more dire than it is; really, I am just living life, and it’s busy right now. I get short breathers here and there, and I’m looking forward to another.

So, I’ve been doing yoga this month. It’s supposed to be a 30-day challenge but I’m doing it when I can, when I have the energy and the time. I figure that forcing myself to do yoga sort of goes against the efforts I’m making to try to calm and ground myself. On the days when I’m not feeling it, when I have a kid climbing on me, when I’m tired, it doesn’t give me the same I feel more human results, so I’m only on day seven and the full 30 days will probably take me two months. And that’s okay.

Part of me trying to introduce some calm into my life, and part of yoga itself, seems to be having phrases and words of affirmation. I don’t know if they’re considered mantras, or something else, but I treat them as a bit of a lifeline to peace when I need it. They’re simple, and there’s a few of them, and I have them on repeat in my head, there to grasp in case of emergency.


The first one is simple – Yes. I am trying to say yes, more often, without fight, without guilt, without strings attached. Sometimes I’m saying yes even if I feel uncomfortable, if I think it’s for the greater good (going out to see friends even though I’m tired, getting up and cleaning something even though I just want to sit on the couch) and sometimes I am saying yes even though it’s not what I ‘should’ do (saying yes, it is okay for me to sit on the couch this time even though I need to clean!).


Okay, so I have never actually seen Frozen — this is not a Frozen thing! I realize it seems counter-intuitive to yes but let it go also has a place. Not feeling up to something? If it’s not yes, then it’s let it go — don’t do it, and don’t worry about it. Grudges; let it go. Arguments; let it go. Guilt; let it go. It’s something I am not good at, frankly, but I’m trying. I carry problems around, stuffed into my pockets like fruit snacks in my purse. Let it go. Let it go.


And when I want to jump ahead, when I want to bury my whole body under a blanket and pretend I don’t exist, when everything feels like too big, or too much — I try to remember, you are exactly where you need to be. Good things happen without us realizing. What feels big now will, most likely, feel very small soon enough. The world ebbs and flows, and history tells me, I will be okay.


I cannot make things appear out of nowhere. I cannot speed up time, nor can I slow it down. I can’t snap my fingers and make endless resources appear in front of me, be it emotional strength, someone to tidy my house, a personal jet, or multitudes of patience. I am what I am, I have what I have, I exist where I exist. Those things can be changed, over time, if they must — but in the present, in each moment, all I can strive for is to do what I can, with what I have, where I am.

Do affirmations help? I’m honestly not sure. I like that I have a constant, though. I’m guessing these things can change, too, and maybe I won’t need all, or any of them at some point in the future. I’m not worrying about it.

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Summer, 1990-something, neon-coloured nylon shorts on and scrunchies holding back sun-bleached hair. My grandma has a raspberry patch and it’s teeming with red berries. My sister and I spend a month here, in the Ottawa Valley, each summer. The cousins compete for the largest fruit, crowing over how bright and sweet each berry is. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the Ottawa Valley accent, but if you haven’t, I’ll tell you this — you don’t pick berries in the Valley. You pick burries. Razzburries, blackburries, and yes, blueburries. Pickin’ burries weaves through all of my childhood memories, from raspberry cane scratches to pouring cream over freshly picked blueberries, dousing the top with sugar from a glass bowl.

Raspberries — razzburries — taste like summer and childhood to me, but blueberries are the thing up here in northwestern Ontario. There are raspberries too, growing wild, and all kinds of tiny cherries and patches of wild strawberries, but the blueberries are abundant. Given that pickin’ burries seems to be a part of my genetic code, it’s kind of mind-boggling that in all my years here, I had yet to make this a summer activity. We were always busy, or the weather was bad, or the tent caterpillars had moved in and wrecked the bushes.

Not this summer, though. A few days ago I was home from work early and Matt and M were both at home. We went to the stables. We went to the grocery store. We went home and sat down, until Matt rallied the troops for a new adventure. He and M pick the blueberries on our property, just a handful at a time, but he wanted to see if we could find more. We set off for a guaranteed spot, vital due to the downpour that was occurring, and the fact that we had to come home for dinner within an hour.

Our berry picking that day happened right outside of town, by the airport, in fact, while Matt rattled off who was flying where and we struggled to hear one another over the noise. We didn’t get much, two cups, maybe, but it was fun. The next day we had a bit  more time, so we headed down one of those bush roads, the kind that has Matt saying, “We’re almost there!” for 15 minutes straight. We found nothing but wild raspberries (I picked about a cup). We tried another road — nothing. On the way back home we drove down one more road, and hit the jackpot.

Blueberries, everywhere, and perfectly ripe. The kind of haul where you can just sit down in one spot and fill your bucket without moving anything but your arm. M ran back and forth between the two of us, picking up pine cones, tripping over sticks, and handing me green berries (“Welcome, mama!”). We picked a litre and a half, accidentally dumped a quarter of it on the bench seat of the truck, and went home for ice cream and berries.

Now my husband says we have a spot and I can easily foresee where his days off will lead. Luckily, blueberries freeze well, and pickin’ burries is a great way to get outside and remind ourselves of some of the best parts of living here.


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Review: Live Clean Baby Colloidal Oatmeal Eczema Cream

It’s amazing how becoming a parent changes the framework of your whole life. It’s obvious in big ways, like building nurseries and taking maternity leave and adjusting your budget, but parenthood also works into the small bits of your life. It touches everything, and you might not realize it until you find yourself telling your husband, yeah, I haven’t actually showered in three days but I went out anyway because we needed groceries and instead of being disgusted he’s like, wow, I’m actually kind of impressed.

Being a parent has nudged out a lot of conversational topics and replaced them with things I wouldn’t have even thought about pre-kid, let alone talked about. Matt told me, when he went out for a bachelor party last year, that he and one of the other dads stood there and talked about their kids for a large chunk of the night. Me, I get into mom-conversations about bodily fluids, medical issues, and rashes.

M has been lucky enough to not have much eczema, and has never been diagnosed officially by a doctor or anything, but she has struggled with a few patches of dry, itchy, painful skin here and there. It seems to be weather-related for her, and we’re lucky to not have much humid heat or cold here. Her last bout with eczema, or what uneducated-me thinks could be eczema, was when we were in South Carolina.

But, there’s always something with kid skin, I think. She gets random rashes, she gets dry skin, she gets COVERED in bug bites. So although we’re not dealing with eczema right now, we tried out this Live Clean Colloidal Oatmeal Eczema Cream anyway!


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