The Conscious Family Team is a team of professionals in York Region who support, guide and aid those who want to do their best each day to love, cherish and respect their children, and who want to learn and grow from their roles.

Giving birth and raising a family consciously used to be a matter of instinct. We trusted our bodies and our feelings to do the right thing. We learned from our families, and our communities how to care for and raise our children, and we just knew it would be okay. We had the support of those close to us - the village helped us to raise our children. There was no internet, no 24 - hour medical centres or helplines, and no bookshelf stocked with 50 or so of the latest advice books from "the experts", usually celebrities. Mom was at home during the day to lend a hand with the washing, or your neighbour would pop by with a casserole when times were tough.

These days, we're lucky to know our neighbour's first name. And if we need advice, we're more likely to consult Google than our brother, sister or mother. The village is truly gone.

Here with the Conscious Family Team, we want to bring the good days back by being your village and helping your family and village grow.

We believe that in order to accomplish these tasks, parenting must be a conscious endeavour, meaning that we are willing to examine ourselves, our background, beliefs, motivations, behaviours, and how these aspects affect the way we parent. Let's find the positives in the way we were parented, recognize the lessons we learned and empower ourselves to trust our own intuition and emerge as the parents we want to be.

Decisions made prior to conception, during pregnancy and in baby's first year and beyond provide the foundation for the creation of a conscious family. By consulting with one or more of the Conscious Family Team members, you will be inspired to take initiative to choose the style of caring for yourself and your infant/child that resonates with you and you'll be connected to the tangible tools and resources to support you on your journey.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Agave: Naughty or Nice?

Here is something that is controversial.

When looking for good natural sweeteners where do you turn?

Personally I have a thing for maple syrup - but I did grow up with a father from Quebec who to this day swears he can tell the difference between Ontario and Quebec syrup!

Agave: Naughty or Nice?

Tara Annesley is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Newmarket.  She is the owner of Rise Up For Health and never did understand why someone would prefer Aunt Jemima...

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Back-to-School Must: A Good Fitting Backpack

Back pain; neck, shoulder and arm injuries; headaches; numbness in the legs or arms – all of these can be caused by an improper fit of your child’s backpack.

Here are some quick tips to help you find the right fit for your child:
  1. Measure your child’s back from the shoulder line to the waist (belly button) & then add 2 inches. The backpack’s height should not be bigger than this measurement.
  2. Measure the distance between the outside ridges of your child’s shoulder blades & then add 2 inches. The backpack’s width should not be bigger than this measurement.
  3. The shoulder straps should be wide and padded.
  4. Preferably the back should be padded too.
  5. The backpack should also have a waist strap to support the low back.
  6. All straps must be adjustable.
When filling your child’s backpack, consider the following:
  1. Use the following weight limits:
    1. Up to 60lbs child can carry 5lbs
    2. 60-75lbs child can carry 10lbs
    3. 100lbs child can carry 15lbs
    4. 125lbs child can carry 18lbs
    5. 150lbs child can carry 20lbs
    6. 200lbs child can carry 25lbs (no one should carry more than 25lbs)
  2. Heavier items should be placed lower in the bag.
  3. Flatter items should be placed in the back part of the bag (these will be against the child’s back).
Encourage your children to pack as few items as necessary and wear the backpack properly. Their backs will thank you later in life!

Nicole Meltzer, RMT, CHt is co-creator of Balanced Body Mind Spirit. Through her specialization in fertility issues, prenatal & pediatric care she helps parents conceive & achieve balance while on their journey into parenthood & beyond. To learn more, visit

Friday, August 13, 2010

How to make truly healthy lunches for your children this fall

One of the best feelings a parent experiences is sending our children off to school, knowing we have provided them with a healthy lunch.  A healthy lunch means stable blood sugar levels and satble blood sugar means your child will concentrate for longer periods of time, read better, feel more relaxed inside, be kinder to others and truly be able to seize the day!

Unique and nutritious main course ideas (always include a protein and carb):
Chicken, basmati/brown rice and vegetables in a thermos
Brown rice spirals with tomato sauce, garlic and vegetables in a thermos
Roasted Garlic Hummus sandwich
Salmon and avocado on a wrap

Unique and nutritious snack ideas (always include a protein):
Dark chocolate chips and sunflower seeds
Dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds
Sliced cheddar goat cheese and garlic and onion rice crackers
Tortilla chips and salsa

And always include a bowl of fruits, a bowl of vegetables and water.  Did you know that you can eat sweet potato raw?  Don't forget that peppers come in red, yellow, orange, green and can be cut into strips or chunks.  Canteloupe can be cut into strips, chunks or formed into balls.  See what you child thinks of the broccoli stem as opposed to the floret.   

For the healthiest lunch bags with the best quality thermos, drink container, leak-proof containers and ice paks that truly keep your child's lunch fresh and the right temperature for the longest period of time, check out  There are lots more lunch ideas there too! Tell the friendly ladies that own that company that you heard about their lunch bags from me and ask for your order discount.   

Written by Meredith Deasley, BA, RNCP, RHN Pediatric Nutritionist and owner of "The Resourceful Mother."  Meredith teaches pediatric nutrition and allergies at CSNN and is the author of "The Resourceful Mother's Secrets to Healthy Kids"  

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Energy Bank

Wouldn't it be nice if there was such thing as an "energy bank".  A place where we could go and make deposits on those extra energy days so that we could make a withdrawal on those "not so great" days?  We actually do have something that acts like our energy bank.  It is our adrenal glands.  We all have times where the bank feels empty.  Burnt out, exhausted, irritable.   Working as a Naturopathic Doctor I am well aware of adrenal insufficiency.  I see it almost everyday.  People who live most of their lives in the fight, flight or freeze state.  Cortisol surges through the body like we are being chased by a lion and need to escape but there is no lion.  Just a mountain of paperwork, unfinished jobs, or a boss (who perhaps could actually be a lion).  All of this stress response gets internalized and has an effect on our physical body.  We feel exhausted.  Our adrenals are working overtime to try to keep us running.  We need to cultivate the "off" switch - the relaxation response.  This is where we should be spending most of our lives. Think about a baby. Think about the time they spend in a "quiet, alert" state.  Calmly observing the world, absorbing and processing information. This is where we need to be.  Calm, alert and responsive not reactive.

 I was doing some reading the other day and a statement I came across really struck me. "When your body can't have a physical reaction to stress (like run away or fight) it can become internalized into emotion.  Emotions such as anger and fear".  Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt angry for no obvious reason?  I know I have.  There have been times I have woken up and felt like I could actually be a bear. I pick fights with my dear husband, people driving annoy me and little things down right drive me crazy.  I had never really thought of this as my stress response.  However when I look objectively back at the day I can almost always see a stress trigger.  My bank was not full enough to allow the withdrawal of energy.  Think about the amount of fear in your life? Or anger? What about our society in general?  This doesn't mean we should not care about safety, responsibility and common sense but perhaps we need to look at what else drives our fear.  When I am feeling energized and positive fear doesn't really enter into my thought process.  Neither does anger.  I can response to issues instead of react to them.

From this I have learned to pay attention to my emotions and my physical body.  Sometimes my adrenals need extra support.  Sometimes they need more than others.  I also try to remember to keep myself on the list.  To respect the times when I need to go to bed early to rest to make a deposit into the "energy bank".  Also the times when I need a more substantial break, to take a few days off, so that I can be fully energized and present with my patients. 

What about you? What are you doing to fill up your bank?

Tara Annesley is a Naturopathic Doctor for Rise Up For Health in Newmarket, Ontario.  Everyday she works to balance her "withdrawals" with her "deposits". 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Check out our NEW show on Youtube!

This is a show on raising a family in today's world. Unique discussions take place between five well known practitioners in York Region, who are also mothers, that have faced many of the challenges that you are facing in trying to stay balanced. Here is the link:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Change your child's diet and watch them flourish!

There are far too many families out there who are suffering due to the effects of food. Children who are misbehaving, not able to focus, getting sick frequently and not sleeping properly are rampant. So many parents are at their wits end. How can we fulfill our purpose in life if we are not at our best???? How can we feel joy, on a regular basis, if this is how we are living?

When we fill a gas tank with gas, the car runs. If we were to fill a tank with donuts and chips, the car simply wouldn't run. The human body is so sophisticated and incredible that it will run for a while on donuts and chips! But over time, chemicals, sugar and bad fats weaken all areas of the body. We all know someone who is sick or has passed away due to health issues. The number one way to keep our children healthy and fulfilling their purpose is to feed them healthy foods. It means going back to the way things used to be....homemade meals, lots of fruit and vegetables or purchasing foods in the health aisles of regular grocery stores or from health stores. There are TASTY, healthy alternatives to all foods out there. Just try a "Twilight" chocolate bar from Nature's Emporium or at the very least, share it with a friend.

There is still time to help your child..... and yourself before school starts! Dare to be different.

Nutrition for Moms

A mother wants to be the BEST for her family. Nothing impacts the family like nutrition. If mother is feeling tired, sad, angry or scattered, she passes those feelings onto her children. What a mother eats can prevent each of these states of mind!

Eating a protein source (not necessarily animal based protein) every 2-3 hours is one of the best steps to ultimate nutrition that any individual can take. Regulating the blood sugar, in this way, helps prevent each of the feelings decribed above and prevents sugar and carb cravings. Examples of protein include beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, eggs, chicken, turkey and spirulina.

Wheat is another culprit for these symptoms! Wheat, you say? I eat this every day, usually multiple times a day, you say. Well, it may be time to switch it up a bit! Whatever we eat the most of is often troublesome for our digestion. Quinoa (also a protein source!) is a healthy versatile grain you could try (just make sure you rinse it in water first). Spelt and kamut are more easily digested than wheat - try Bagel Flame Bakery in Aurora on Wellington - our family's favourite bakery for healthy grains!

Written by Meredith Deasley, Pediatric Nutritionist and mother of two. For more information on the particular ways in which food impacts us, please look for the book "The Resourceful Mother's Secrets to Healthy Kids" at Nature's Emporium or Yoga Source in Newmarket or see

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Web of Community

Spring has always been associated with birth or re-birth. Whether you are taking this journey for the first time or the 5th time, it is always a different journey, a different experience both physically, emotionally and spirtitually.

It is important at this time to surround yourself with empowering fearless practioners who trust birth and the woman's body. It's imperative that you build a community of friends and family to support you on your journey the way you need, the way you want, and the way you deserve.

At a recent community mother blessing I was in awe of the sense of community, of friendship, love and support and joy for those that had their children in their arms, and for those who were taking that step shortly. I was humbled as I listenedd to wishes that were heard in the circle without hesitation, and the blessings that were offered with affection to those soon to be mothers.

When we create blessing ways for each other, we women reach outside of ourselves and weave a web of community: a living breathing web of women who are blessing, teaching, and supporting one another and as a result, we help to give birth to each other's children.

As women we receive a great deal by coming together in this way. We can raise energy and strength, or provide comfort and support. We can help one another let go of the past, live fully in the present, and embrace the mystery of the future. We learn to honour each other as well as ourselves, and we tap into the vibrant energy of the collective feminine spirit. By connecting on this level, we gain the power to deepen our friendships, build our communities, feed our spirits, and perhaps even revitalize our culture.

Denise is the owner/operative of 4 The Love of the Family providing birth and postnatal support, breastfeeding support and transition to parenting care. She is also a volunteer Leader/mentor for La Leche League Canada

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Unexpected Gifts

Many years ago, I had a friend whose parenting style differed vastly from mine. It was never an issue except around sleep. Now anyone who knows me understands that I protect my sleep like a mama lion protects her cubs! I have never been someone who could "get by" on a couple hours of sleep, and I have come to honour and respect the fact that I feel better, see the world better (and frankly behave better) when I've had at least eight hours of sleep. Our differences came to a head one day when she called to invite me, my husband and our then 18 month old for an afternoon get together. Now this was not new. She graciously included us in all sorts of gatherings at her home, but we often declined because these events seemed to consistently conflict with when our daughter would be sleeping. At the time, our daughter slept religiously from one o'clock in the afternoon until approximately four o'clock, and this time was sacred to me. Sometime I napped too, sometimes I caught up on household chores, and sometimes I did nothing. Moreover, I believed that this time was sacred for our daughter. She needed that rest. She seemed to relish the routine of stories and snuggles before I gently put her to bed. Protecting that time was as important to me as breathing and eating.

So on that day, she called again inviting me to a gathering at her home and when I gingerly asked what time, she said it would be at three o'clock. So, feeling like a broken record, I politely declined saying that my daughter would be sleeping. I remember her snapping at me saying, "You can't run your life around her sleep schedule, you know!" Well, I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember how I was feeling. I felt frustrated and my feelings were hurt that she wasn't respecting my decision to honour what I felt was sacred.

What I realize now is that she gave me a wonderful, most unexpected gift: she challenged my views on things which gave me pause to really examine if what I was doing was a truth for me. While I didn't realize it at the time, she helped me gain confidence, stand firm in my decisions that resonated for me and my family. I realized that I was taking her reaction personally, which I know now does not serve me (or her) and that it's not her job to make me feel good about my decisions.

Parenting spiritually allows us to listen to our intuition, follow our hearts and stay strong within ourselves even in the face of those who disagree with our views or choose to do things differently. It's about tuning into what resonates in our core for ourselves, our children, our family. Ultimately it's about celebrating that your child(ren) chose YOU for very specific reasons (and one of them may just be to protect nap time!! ;-) ).

Christine Marrin has relished her role as mother for the last ten years. She is passionate about raising our collective consciousness about joyfully connecting to our children and empowering them to connect with their spirits. She celebrates that her greatest learning has come from her children. She is a former elementary school teacher.
For daily parenting thoughts, visit: .
She can be reached at: or 905-836-6877

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stepping Into Spring Through Food

Hello everyone. This week's topic is '' cleansing children '' because in the spring, we not only spring clean our homes, but it is the best time to spring clean our bodies.

Ideas for cleansing children of all the toxins that accumulate in their little bodies include:

- Feed your child detoxifying foods such as organic fruits and vegetables, beans, flax seeds, green powders, garlic and onion

- Ensure your child drinks a lot of filtered water from a cup he or she enjoys sipping from

- Add EPSOM salt to your child's baths - ensure they drink a cup of water while splish splashing

- Go for a walk each evening to the park, jump on the trampoline or ride your bikes together

Sounds simple doesn't it? That's because it is. Now the trick is implementing it. Just pick one thing you are going to focus on for a week, whether it be the food, water, epsom baths or exercise. Don't try to do it all or you won't be able to stick with it. And if you think this week is too busy, start next week or the week after! All that matters is that you start eventually.

Does anyone else have other cleansing ideas to share? We'd love to hear from you!

Written by Meredith Deasley

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Go Green - Breastfeed

What does breastfeeding have to do with Earth Day?

First and foremost, it has a zero environmental impact. Its exclusive practice for six months delays a return to fertility and, that in turn, has a cascading positive effect on the welfare of the whole community. When a mother is given what she needs to succeed in doing what's best for her children and herself, she's making a difference for all of us.

Breastfeeding saves lives while protecting the environment. When you consider the costs to the environment made by the manufacture, packaging, transportation, sales and marketing of artificial baby milks, breastfeeding wins every time.

Formula requires agricultural production, which may involve land clearing for industrial farming, chemical fertilizers and pesticides for soybeans. Infant formula is also wasted when it is thrown away if the baby does not finish a bottle; something which is unlikely to happen with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is also drought resistant and does not require water other than what the mother drinks. There is no need for water for cleaning bottles and artificial nipples. Being breastfed also protects infants from possible exposure to dirty water in underserved communities.

Beastfeeding is "green" and saves money. Frequent breastfeeding, day and night, helps delay fertility return for the mother until her menses resume. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is as effective as oral contraceptives when in use, reducing the need to purchase contraceptives and menstral care products for many months. Increasing the time between each child also has a positive effect on the health of mothers, children, and their families and on the social service dollar for the whole community. All in all, breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, saves money by reducing our need for many commercial products, reduces pharmaceuticals, plastics, fuels and dairy waste products, shrinking our carbon footprint.

We all have a stake in this, locally, nationally, globally. Human milk remains one of our most valuable renewable resources and has been shown to be the far superior food for infants by every measure science has been able to offer. Simply respecting the wishes of breastfeeding families and offering a few words of encouragement can make a positive difference in their lives and ours as well.

Parents planning to breastfeed benefit greatly from prenatal education, nurturing and timely support by the newborn's household kin, extended family and the community at large. Support groups like La Leche League offer informtion and support to women and their families interested in breastfeding. Healthcare professionals including International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and York Region Health Services are also available to address breastfeeding issues.

Breastfeeding - the ultimate example of an ecologically sound food -- it comes to us from the most local source available, is delivered to its consumer without any pollution, and is the first step in a baby's understanding of nature's interconnectedness.

Denise is the owner/operator of 4 The Love of The Family, providing birth and postnatal support and breastfeeding support. She is also a La Leche League Canada Leader

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TV can shorten your life

Did you know that TV can actually shorten your life. Researchers in Australia studied a group of 9,000 individuals. They were separated into 3 groups. 1. Those that watch more than 4 hours of TV a day, 2. Those that watch between 2 and 4 hours and 3. those that watch less than 2 hours a day. In the end the group that watched 4 or more hours was 80% more likely to develop deadly heart disease than those in the less than 2 hour group. 80 percent! That is huge. The explanation seems to be related to the act of sitting. People are sitting too much in their daily lives. We move from sitting at a desk at the office to sitting in front of the TV at night. This could be expanded to screen time in general.

Do you know that on average people watch over 4 hours of TV and spend another 4 hours on the computer/video games - that's per day. If you sleep for 8 hours that means you are spending half of your waking time in front of a screen (or all of your leisure time if you work 8 hours a day!!). It also means that we are in deep trouble if we don't help our kids stop the trend. For more information about how this in affecting us check out the book the Plug-In Drug.

Why not spend a week in digital detox. (Actually the official digital detox week started on Monday April 19th and it ends Sunday April 25th.) That means spend the week eliminating non-essential screen time. (That is outside of the work environment) No facebook, no twitter, no computer games, no TV. Go out and talk to your neighbours. Walk or ride your bike. Get reconnected with the outside world.

Here are a couple more media-free activities:

1. Make a big indoor tent and sleep in it.
2. Go on a scavenger hunt.
3. Visit the library.
4. Daydream.
5. Throw a party to celebrate digital detox week!

Until next time,

Tara Annesley is a Naturopathic Doctor at Rise Up For Health. She is passionate about health in general and especially for families. With a special interest in fertility and birth she helps families take an active role in their health. For more information please visit our website

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Honouring the Journey

With this beautiful Spring weather upon us, I began thinking about how Mother Earth is awakening from her slumber and in doing so, many wondrous friends from the plant and animal worlds are shyly peeking out at us, getting ready to show us their magnificence. And even though we know for sure that Spring arrives every single year, this beautiful display of rebirth and return never gets old. Each year, Mother Earth, the plants, trees, grass, and all our animal creature friends give each other what they need, and in doing so, exemplify symbiosis at its best. The plants' roots stretch ever deeper into the soil giving the plant or tree strength, stability and durability during challenging times. Animals gamely makes nests, emerge from burrows and procreate to ensure the continuation of their respective species. When the wind is up, rain a bit sparse, or nests are found by unsuspecting predators, these amazing life forms can adapt and survive. This is what we parents do for our children. We ground their roots, give them courage and confidence, we honour their journey without attaching our own to it, we listen more and talk less, and we endeavour to be present, fully present to their hopes, their dreams, their ideas, and their worries. But have you noticed how Mother Earth does not attempt to save every single creature from unfortunate circumstances? She simply can't and besides, she knows in her wisdom that every life being has its own journey. Once again we have so much to learn from our collective Mother; she is so very wise. We must remember that we don't own our children; they are not "ours". They merely pass through us during their time on Mother Earth. We cannot save our children from anything, anyway. Oh, sure we can guide them, we can share our viewpoints with them, we can ask questions, and we can even agree to disagree. But if we want our children to keep coming back to us, like Spring comes back each year, we must promise to give our children what they want from us, and not what we think they need. If the foundation of the relationship is strong, we can feel safe watching our children venture out, confidently, into the world where it awaits them with possibilities we cannot even begin to imagine! And if we've done our work, they will come back to us, like the Spring, with the most magnificent stories to share.

Christine Marrin is the owner of, "Christine Marrin~Spiritual Parenting". She is a former elementary teacher and has relished her role as mom for almost ten years. She has realized that her most profound learning has been at the hands of her children. Walking beside them and sharing their journies has been spiritually fulfilling in a way she never imagined. For more information on Spiritual Parenting, she can be reached at 905-836-6877 or

Friday, March 19, 2010

Making the Most of Winter and the Cooler Months with Baby

By taking care of yourself, you set a good example for your child(ren). In addition, by taking care of yourself, you can meet the needs of your baby or children much better. Though instead of trying to fit baby into the existing pre-baby scedule and "me" time, come up with creative ways to design new routines that include baby.

It is proven that exercise improves mood and helps avoid slumps of depression, especially in the winter. Tuck your little one under your coat in a sling or carrier and get yourself out on a walk in the colder months when the sun is at it's best in the earlier morning or mid afternoon for some vitamin D and reduction of sadness/blues. Putting your baby into a sling has a calming effect on both baby and mommy.

Call upon a few of your mommy friends and make it a ritual on a weekly or daily basis to surround yourself with laughter and a positive social circle of moms who have the same goals and mothering philosophy as you.

Is ours not a strange culture that focuses so much on childbirth -- virtually all of it is based on anxiety and fear -- and so little on the crucial time after birth, when patterns are established that will affect the individual and family for decades ~ Susan Arms

2 randomized trials comparing exercise to sertraline for adults with major deprssion. Both found that exercise was as effective. (Babyak et al. Psychosom Med 2000, 62; 663-638; Blumenthal et al. Psychasom Med 2007, 69; 587-596)

Exercise lowers inflammation, increases wound healing, overall fitness lowers infalmmatory response to stress (emery et al. J Geronto A Biol MED Sci 2005; 60 1432-1436; Kolut et al, Brain Behav Immun 2006;20;201-209. Starkweather, Buiol Nurs Res 2007; 8, 1-9)

For mild to moderate depression; 2-3 times a week, moderate intensity, 20-30 minutes. For major depression; 3-5 times a week, 60% to 85% maximal capacity, 45 - 60 minutes.

Randomized trial comparing luoxetine to bright lifht for seasonal depression (SAD) 67% response rate for both groups, response within one week for light group (LAM et al. AM J Psychiatry 2006; 163, 567-573)

Timing of light exposure; 53% remission with morning light, 32% and 38% for afternoon or evening (Teman & Teman, CNS Spectrums 2005; 10, 647-663)

American Psychiatric Assn indicated that bright light therapy was effective for both seasonal and non-seasonal deprssion. Equivalent to antidepressants and faster response (Golden et al. AM J Psychiatry 2005; 162, 656-662)

Denise Martin is owner of 4 The Love of The Family
She is a birth and postnatal doula, educator, breastfeeding councillor and La Leche League Canada Leader

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Now that we have some sunshine...

How much have you thought about your Vitamin D? Vitamin D is much more important for health than previously given credit for. Do you know with the increase use of sunscreen, the incidence of skin cancer has decreased but the incidence of many other cancers has increased? Vitamin D is an important factor in the body's ability to prevent cancer. It is also important with preventing the flu, improving mood, allergies, asthma and other immune regulation.

Right now is really when most people are at their lowest point for Vitamin D status. It's a great time to get your blood levels checked (25-OH Vitamin D), but it is also the time to start thinking about how you are going to build up your stores for next winter. I know - who wants to think about next winter... The sun is shining, the birds are starting to sing and spring is on its way. That also means the intensity of the sun is getting stronger. Great news for getting your own natural production of Vitamin D. Go outside! Spend time in the sun!

This winter I checked a large number of people's vitamin D stores and not one was optimal. Many were deficient. As a population we have become very fearful of the sun. Never mind the fact most of us spend our days working inside. That has led us to a position of deficiency.

So what to do with this beautiful sunshine? Go outside, spend time with the sun on your skin (not through a window - it doesn't work). Your body produces its own D it just needs the sun. As the intensity increases be more careful, but if you are going out just for a short time do you really need the sunscreen? Weigh the length of exposure, the time of day and your complexion. Really fair skinned people will burn quickly - so go out earlier in the day. Inside workers take a walk at lunch time. Wear a hat if it is too hot but let your skin see the sun. Work on it over the spring, summer and by the time fall rolls around again you will be in a much better state to cope with the winter.
Until next time,

Tara Annesley is a Naturopathic Doctor at Rise Up For Health. She is passionate about health in general and especially for families. With a special interest in fertility and birth she helps families take an active role in their health. For more information please visit our website

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Walks

Here where I live, we still have lots and lots of snow (thanks to an unseasonal snow storm over the last few days!). Now I absolutely love the snow and can't get enough, but I know full well that other people have different opinions!! So what does one do with children who need to get outside but have had their fill of skating and sledding? The answer is the "Winter Walk". In our family, we partake in two kinds of winter walks: the neighbourhood walk, and the forest walk. I personally prefer the forest walk, but sometimes my children ask to walk around the neighbourhood instead. We like to make an adventure out of both kinds by infusing some "detective work". Here is what we do:

Neighbourhood Walk

As we walk, we try to find:

*a brown dog,
*two people shovelling,
*a fire hydrant,
*three mailboxes,
*a house with a blue garage,
*a friend's house
*a house with a number "5"

You get the idea. This list can of course be customized to the preferences of your child(ren), and by all means, let the child(ren) come up with most of the ideas! Not only will they be more engaged, but suddenly they're more focused on beings detectives, than realizing how far they have walked (for the reluctant walkers, this is nice!). Be sure not to walk too far, as it's nice to arrive home with them wanting more.

Forest Walk

As we walk, we try to find:

*critter tracks,
*branches in the shape of letters ("y" and "t" are usually everywhere!),
*things that are up high. (Encouraging your children to look up is a wondrous experience, because there are often nests, birds and other creatures, if you're really lucky).
*great spots for photo opportunities.

We also listen for:

*animal sounds
*the beautiful noise of swaying trees
*silence!! Encourage your children to relish in the silence of the forest.

We also take deep breaths of the cool, fresh air as we walk, letting it fill our bodies.

Whatever winter activity you choose, I wish you lots of fun!

Christine Marrin, a former elementary teacher, has relished her role as mom for almost ten years, realizing that the most profound learning of her life has been at the hands of her children. Walking beside them and sharing their journey has been spiritually fulfilling in a way she never imagined. For more information on Spiritual Parenting, she can be reached at 905-836-6877.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Massage Techniques to Alleviate Congestion in Babies

As adults, we take for granted how easy it is to alleviate nasal congestion by merely blowing our nose! For a baby, nasal congestion can be an overwhelming and painful experience. Most parents rely on the aspirator and humidifier. Both are important tools for the cold and flu season; but have you considered massage? Massage holds many benefits besides the obvious relief of symptoms. When massaging the sinuses, jaw and ears, you encourage drainage and, in turn, can prevent a possible ear infection. Massage is also an excellent preventative tool; as it assists in the elimination of toxins. Here is a quick massage routine you can try with your little one. Be sure to practice before your baby is actually suffering from congestion. You will both feel comfortable with the massage and it will come as second nature to you when your baby wakes at 3am with congestion pain!

Facial Massage
Place a small amount of non-nut oil (less than the size of a dime) in your hands; rub your hands together to warm the oil

Massaging the jaw:
1. Cup hands under child’s head just behind the ears; then slowly glide the hands along the jaw towards the chin; repeat 3 times
2. Using 1 or 2 fingers (depends on size of child), make small circles from just below the right earlobe down to the chin; repeat on left side; massage each side 3-4 times
3. Using 1 or 2 fingers make small circles around the outline of the child’s lips; starting at the middle of the upper lip & working both sides simultaneously to meet at the middle of the lower lip

Massaging the sinuses:
1. Glide your forefingers down each side of the bridge of the nose, follow the cheekbone across & then end the stroke on the temples. You are essentially making a semi-circle under the eye. Repeat 3-4 times
2. Make small circles along the eyebrows, using 1 or 2 fingers, ending at the temples. Repeat 3-4 times.
3. Place fingertips at the middle of the hairline. Glide hands away from one another, ending at temples. Repeat, moving hands down forehead slightly, until last set of strokes are following eyebrow line.
Massaging ears (use extremely light pressure around ears!):
Using 1 finger, make small circles starting at the point where the top of the ear attaches to the head, massage around behind the ear, down to where the lobe meets the head, and around in front of the ear until you are back at the top of the ear. Repeat on other ear.
Finishing massage:
1. Glide fingertips from forehead down each side of the face, meeting at the chin
2. Finish with a kiss on the nose! “All Done!”

Nicole Meltzer, RMT, CHt is co-creator of Balanced Body Mind Spirit. Through her specialization in fertility issues, prenatal & pediatric care she helps parents conceive & achieve balance while on their journey into parenthood & beyond. To learn more, visit