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Baby Skincare Routine: Eczema Edition

So here’s the low down for so those of you that had questions and concerns around infant eczema. Maxwell, just like most newborn babies, was born with perfect skin. A few weeks into life outside the womb she got the normal peeling skin most babies experience that I had seen before on other kids. When she was around three months old though I started to notice some changes to skin that looked like eczema. Let me just tell you, the amount of eczema I found on her probably didn’t warrant the complete breakdown and doctor’s appointment but after seeing my nephew suffering from painful, itching skin issues, I was adamant Max was not going to have the same fate.

The troubleshooting began almost immediately. Thankfully, the collection of eczema patches were mainly on her back, especially the area where the waistband of her diapers hit her skin and a tiny bit on her face around the eyes. But come on, it’s my kid and I don’t care if the skin irritation is minor, I didn’t want her to have any skin irritations at all. The doctor said we should monitor it and if it continues to worsen, we could always try a steroid cream. That to me, was not an option. So I did a skincare elimination diet. Stopped using all the  baby skincare products I had been using on her. Changed her laundry detergent and even replaced her formula. Living in a condo without the best air circulation and super dry heat probably wasn’t not helping our cause either. After not seeing much change, I decided to try out some A-Derma Exomega products that were passed along to me that I had heard were pretty amazing for extra dry or atopy prone skin. By this time it was winter and in an effort to not further dry out Maxie’s skin, I would only give her a full bath every other day. When I did,  I would add two capfuls of Exomega Control Soothing Bath to the water and started using the Emollient Cleansing Gel directly on her skin with a washcloth. I think applying a moisturizer to skin right away as soon as I took her out helped a lot. I would apply their Emollient Balm combined with some lavender oil as I was putting on her diaper. It has an extra rich texture and turned out to be just what her skin needed to keep it moisturized. We finally started to see some improvement after a month and to be honest, I couldn’t really telly you exactly when all the patchiness disappeared. They just seemed to fade away but I would say maybe two or three months tops. Seeing as though the first two products I tried worked so well and we were getting closer to spring, I swapped the Emollient Balm for the cream version. PRO TIP: We do a lot of swimming, Maxie really loves the water and I know the chlorine can wreak havoc on skin that’s prone to dryness, so after swims, I do try to still apply the emollient balm.

Photos by David A. Pike

Probably the best thing about these products are that their all natural and fragrance free which means they are completely safe to use on babies from day one but all the A-Derma products can also be used on kids and adults too. I am actually using the shower oil and the balm on myself. I will admit, that because the skin irritations we experienced early on has been completely cleared up, we do sometimes use other products during her bath time routine but the A-Derma products still remain as the core of Maxie’s skincare routine. You can find A-Derma products nationwide in Shoppers Drug Mart (who actually has the line on super sale right now), London Drugs, and Jean Coutu locations in addition to Amazon.ca.

Moments That Matter With Aeroplan: London Edition

London. A city that often gets a bad wrap because of it’s lack of distinct seasons and continuous rainy weather, but one I love so very much. I guess I am a little biased because it’s my mum’s hometown. I have tons many memories from my many travels there as a kid and desperately want to continue the tradition with Maxwell.

#withAeroplan - So Sasha

This trip however did not go as planned and to be honest, what happened while we were there made it very difficult to get this post written. Every time I sat down to write, flashbacks of my mom’s unfortunate accident kept flashing back into my mind. I missed several days of shooting with a photographer so this is not as photo content heavy as my usual travel posts.I know most of you had been following along on Instagram and were aware of the head injury she suffered on our second day in central London. I had an impressive itinerary set up for the ultimate girls trip with her and Maxie. Sadly, we didn’t get to do even half of what I had planned due to the incident that left her hospitalized, concussed and off her feet for the rest of the trip. She is finally turning a corner with her recovery.

Funny enough, the forecast was supposed to be sunny and clear for our entire trip but I still planned on us us hitting the ground running during the first two days on the ground just in case. It was my safety net in the event we were pummelled with rain sometime later in the trip, which really wouldn’t be much of a surprise. And guess what? We did pretty badly later on in the trip, but hey that’s London for you. We did ended up doing and seeing some really cool things while we were there so if you’re thinking of heading across the pond any time soon, with baby or without, you should definitely take note of my recommendations below. But first, for the mamas that had messaged me about what it was like traveling with a young child to London, here’s a few things that you should definitely know:

I’ve done a long haul flight with Maxwell before to Barcelona and it was our very first family trip, also booked using our Aeroplan miles. That being said, I knew I could handle the time in the air with her especially since my mum was there but things were very different this time around because she was almost nine months older. At almost 1, she was moving around a ton. Trying to be independent. Eating solids. Far different that when she was exclusively breastfed. SOLUTION: We flew redeye on the way to London and were on a 7am flight on the way home to try to capitalize on her sleep and nap schedule. So, London isn’t the most non-stroller friendly city and navigating around the city with a baby was a challenge, especially when using public transportation. The tube is very convenient for commuters and normally the easiest way to get around the city. But with a stroller, it can be a nightmare. Very few tube stations have an elevators or what the Brits like to call “lifts” so what you can expect…the highest escalators you’ve ever seen in your life. PRO TIP: If you’r traveling alone with baby, go online and get familiar with the stops on each line that, pray and hope a friendly bloke will help you get to street level when you get off, consider Ubers and black cabs as well. The infamous black cabs in London are so large, I was able to get the stroller in the backseat without even collapsing it. Find accommodation with a good walk score. It truly makes life much easier when you are within walking distance of the tube, sight seeing, restaurants, a grocery store and parks that you can take your baby to during down time.

WHERE WE STAYED

#withAeroplan - So Sasha

On all my previous visits to England I have always stayed with family. Economical, yes but you can never really feel like a tourist or that you’re on vacation. You feel awkward sleeping in. There’s no room service. More importantly, very little privacy. There are loads of amazing hotels in the city but we decided to rent a flat and secured one via KidandCoe.com – the luxury, family friendly version of Air B&B. If you’re a family with any upcoming travel, you have to check them out. Through the site, we got connected to Merino Hospitality who has apartments, towns and homes throughout London and honestly they were the BEST. Based in the Holborn area we were close to most city central landmarks within either a walk or short tube ride away.  The apartment was set up with everything we needed for Maxwell; crib, highchair, toys etc. It was brilliant and helped her settle in nicely. Our kitchen was stocked with all the basic essentials so we didn’t have to pop out to do groceries right away. We had what we needed for breakfast, snacks and such. Bonus, close to tons of cafe’s, grocery store, restaurants, and both Chancery Lane & Holborn tube stations.

WHAT WE SAW

Now that I look back at some of the photos for this post, we surprisingly got quite a bit accomplished. Mum got to at least hit up a couple places she’s been dying to go to. In between taking care of her, I somehow managed to venture out with Maxie solo while mum rested and we had our own mama/daughter adventures.

  • South Bank. With so many attractions in a close radius, the South Bank is the perfection location to check out when you’re in London. Once you are in the area. Everything is easy and accessible by foot but definitely more enjoyable when it’s not pissing down with rain. It’s London’s cultural district located right on the River Thames. There you will find the The Sea Life London Aquarium, The London Eye, restaurants and national centres for the arts, film and performance. You can take a boat cruise down the Thames, always a fave when I am in the city, and it’s also within a 10 minute or less walk from Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

  • Big Ben. It’s actually the nickname for the Great Bell inside the clock in the north side of Westminster. Probably one of the most popular and historic London landmarks. It was our very first stop once we arrived and I was so bummed when we got there to find it was completely under scaffolding due it’s extensive refurbishment that will leave it out of commission for a few years. I wasn’t leaving without a photo though of me and my girl. I have one just like this with my mom when I was a little girl. The handsome Ben will be back in full effect in 2021 if you plan on any future travel to the UK.

  • Regent Street. You want shopping? Well London has no shortage of it but Regent Street has something for everyone, including my new favourite department store EVER…Liberty London. The building’s facades are all by famed architect John Nash and are some of the most distinguished architecture in the city. Every international brand has their London flagship here and if you tuck in just behind and around the top end, you will find the infamous Carnaby Street.

  • Carnaby Street. Ok, I am still talking about shopping but it’s impossible not to. This was such a treat to witness actually because it’s a spot where my mom spent a lot of time as a teen and it was the first time I’ve even seen it in person. Carnaby Street is soooo unique. The area is infamous because of the 60s era but it has reinvented itself over the decades and boom…today you’ll find nearly 100 shops and 60 restos nestled in this pedestrian street path in London’s West End found between Regent Street and Oxford Street. I popped in on a busy Saturday to find out it was Carnaby Street Eat food festival which I am sure was home of the longest picnic table ever. Of course I had to sample a few things – the burgers were delicious by the way and happily washed them down with Camden Pale Ale, even though I had just finished brunch at Arthurs’s inside Liberty London.
    Carnaby Street Eat Festival
  • Liberty London. No idea how I’ve never been here before but I first went in just for brunch and then got lost on floor after floor of contemporary womenswear and the most beautiful flower arrangements curated and sold by their in-house florist team. Upstairs after burning calories eating, I highly recommend you refuel with a quick bite at Arthur’s Restaurant. Named after the owner of Liberty London – Arthur Lazenby Liberty. It is basically interior goals and I was pleasantly surprised to not find the place on a Saturday flooded with influencers and instagrammers because the decor filled with wood, velvet, mosaic tiles and tons of millennial pink is what the gram literally lives for these days. Maxie thoroughly enjoyed being nestled up beside me in one of the velvet booths chowing down on her Mac & Cheese here.
  • Notting Hill & Portobello Market. This place gets the award for the cutest neighbourhoods in London. I think everyone has seen the movie Notting Hill and knows the quaint little area for their adorable, colourful row houses and home to Portobello Market; a tourist haven full of street vendors, performers, boutiques and cafes.

Aeroplan - So Sasha

  • Buckingham Palace. You only really need to see this landmark once and I’ve seen it several times over the years. The residence of the Queen and administrative office, it is a tourist trap for sure and impossible to get a decent picture in front of the palace’s epic gates but I couldn’t resist attempting one of my two favourite girls.

#withAeroplan - So Sasha

  • Covent Garden. Once a fruit and vegetable market in the early 1950s, Covent Garden is the spot to check out in the west end of London if you love food and theatre. We were lucky to be within walking distance to it and I would have loved to go back one ore time before heading back to Toronto. It may be modernized with all the current high end retailers, fancy restaurants and bars but this historic destination has preserved it’s cobbled Piazza and arches of the Market Building. It’s the home of street performance and somehow I got pulled into the mid afternoon performance in front of a crowd of at least 100 before heading off to one of the area’s most  famous restaurants’, The Ivy, to see and be seen.

Where We Dined

Lucky for me, Max is eating a lot of the foods I eat, and actually has quite a worldly palette, and also eats puree pouches that allowed me to eat just about anywhere I wanted to. Mornings we usually ate in or grabbed something quick on the go from Pret-A-Manger. They are literally on every single corner almost I swear and it allowed us to get moving and out the door quickly. I prefer to save my money for nice lunches, dinners and high teas rather than brekkies. Here’s some of our fave spots to nosh, see and be seen:

  • The Savoy. Well there are numerous places in London to have high tea. The Ritz is probably the most famous in the city but I’ve done it a few times already. I wanted to try something different and I wasn’t disappointed by my new choice. The entrance and lobby of the hotel property just feels so historic and of another era. The dining room is exquisite and the tea menu is great. Maxwell was obsessed with the live pianist plus the service was incredible. They even sent us home with a gift bag of the same loose leaf tea we ordered during our service, which was a nice touch.

  • Rosewood London. This gem of a luxury hotel is on High Holborn street so just a stone’s throw away from our flat and turns out that they have some pretty stellar dining there. I ate not once, but twice inside their Holborn Dining Room. The menu is quite heavy on seafood but they do have some stellar meat options like Cornish Rare Breed Sirloin and a 35 Day Aged Rib Eye but after having their popular Shrimp burger, there was no way I was deviating from it on my next visit. Not quite like I expected but better than I imagined, it was minced shrimp ground and formed into a patty, grilled and served in the most perfect egg bun topped with jalapeño tartare, which chips (fries) on the side. To drink, several rounds of their Green Elixir, which is NOT to be mistaken for a healthy cold pressed juice but rather the most delicious Gin cocktail I think I’ve ever had made with Beefeater, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, elderflower cordial, cucumber and basil foam. Honestly, it is hard to describe in words but the taste I will never forget.

  • The Coral Room. Inspired by the 1920s, this classy additional to Central London’s libation scene is a MUST for those who want to be transported to another time via design decor and cocktails. Behind the bar you won’t find bartenders, but rather mixologists who take their craft very seriously. They take their time prepping their cocktails, really enjoy taking the time out to explain the process, and even surprised me with a couple fave mixes not found on the menu. The Coral Room is nestled inside The Bloomsbury, which is also home one of the city’s most beautiful indoor terraces that is lined with endless flower walls – Dalloway Terrace, that is open for all day dining and a hidden underground bar that is only open to the hotel guests and stays open late into the night. Somehow, my cousin and I managed to get in there after way too many drinks in the Coral Room,

  • Madison Terrace Bar & Lounge. I am a sucker for a rooftop terrace and usually try to find the best one when I’m visiting a city. If you Google “Best Rooftops in London” a fair amount will show up actually. The summer in London is extremely busy and just about anything worth going to requires a reservation made well in advance so I was lucky enough to get up to the Madison rooftop terrace. The only downfall, I had Maxie in her stroller as my plus 1 and children are not permitted in their bar and lounge, even outside. They were kind enough to let me up to see the epic view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which means I will just have to return for drinks on my next trip to London.

  • The Dorchester. This was my first time here and it was not apart of my original itinerary but glad Maxie and I got to experience an evening rendezvous at the property’s infamous bar. We went early, other guests were still finishing up the last tea service seating around 6pm, so we headed to the back where we sat by the piano to take in the live music. We shared small bites and I sipped on Negroni’s served in bespoke glassware created specifically for the hotel. The musicians were so kind as to play a few nursery rhymes for Max on the saxophone and piano and then entertained me with some 90’s R&B that took all the diners by surprise. Although notorious for celeb sightings, we unfortunately didn’t see any but I am sure the walls hold many secrets.

  • Arthurs. This spot is not to be missed if you’re in the Regent or Oxford Street you have to pop in here for a bite. The decor alone is worth the stop in and it’s not exactly a terrible thing that it’s located on the second floor of one of London’s top shopping locations, Liberty London. Also known for their cocktails (are you seeing a trend here?) and inviting bar, Arthur’s serves contemporary British cuisine that I promise you, they have dining down to a fine art. They are open for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, early dinner and serve drinks all day long. I loved the Salmon Poke there, Maxie devoured her Mac & Cheese from the kiddie menu while mum was really into the smoke haddock fishcakes.

Now that we’ve settled back home, I am already getting the itch to begin planning our next adventure. Winter is literally around the corner and I can’t help but think about a warm weather getaway next. I always like to say that the fall season is the perfect time to start thinking about travel goals for the new year and whatever your travel plans are, Aeroplan can help you get there. If you’re already a member you’ll already know this but accumulating miles may be easier than you think. If you think outside the box like we have, you can literally earn miles on hotel stayscar rentals, retail purchases, insurancebanking (credit cards), even online when you shop your favourite retailers like Sephora, Apple, Indigo, Hudson’s Bay, and so much more on the eStore getting you closer to that next trip faster. Not an Aeroplan member yet? Well, there’s really no better time than the present as they say and there’s some very exciting updates coming soon that I can’t wait to share with you guys. But until then, registering is easy and you can begin earning miles right away. For more information head to www.aeroplan.com.

This post is sponsored by Aeroplan however all views and opinions are my own.

Practical & Life Changing Hair Removal

Let’s get straight down to business and chat hair removal shall we because you guys have showed so much interest in my hair free journey since I opened up about it recently on Instagram. If you happened to miss it thanks to the apps awful algorithm, you can find it here. I have complained for years about every single aspect surrounding this topic. I started shaving when I was about 13, I think. Maybe even 12. I started waxing my armpits and bikini line in my early twenties. Then graduating to full brazilians shortly thereafter. FML. I am in my late thirties now so that’s a lot of years of painful agony from waxing and annoying nicks from straight blades. This summer I had enough. Like, why the hell was I making myself suffer? It had to end.

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha
I just want the smooth and soft legs that Maxie has

So, what happened next was an immediate call to action on my IG stories asking my followers to dish on their go-to hair removal methods. The response…well let’s just say most of the women agreed that waxing is savage. There were many that still shaved but to be honest, I was blown away by the amount of women who had turned to epilators and laser hair removal treatments. Like tons actually! I got feedback from the black community on what clinics in Toronto were the best at dealing with darker skin tones and started looking into the option of electric shavers and epilators after a few people brought them up. I ended up booking Holly from The Ten Spot Queen West location for my laser treatments on my va-jay-jay and I am going to see how that goes, then determine whether I am going to get other areas done. Who am I kidding? If it’s as good as people say it is, I will literally be a Kardashian and do my entire body head to toe. At $210 per session, you better believe they use the best machine in the game that is able to detect the amount of melanin in darker skin to avoid burning. I’ve only done two sessions so far and I promise to report back on the progress but so far they have been virtually painless (requires no numbing cream) and I have about 8-10 sessions left. I am excited to not have to worry about it anymore. But in the meantime, it’s just the one area and I am using the Philips BikiniGenie Bikini Trimmer in between appointments to keep things in check down there. Holly is infamous in the beauty and aesthetician community when it comes to laser removal and is The Ten Spot’s laser guru. She actually advised me to stay away from waxing completely from now and suggested I use my trimmer only as needed. It’s so easy to shape and trim with it. Its battery operated and portable, making it really convenient to use anywhere, especially when traveling and it can also be used in or outside of the shower. With that area now taken care of, you’re probably wondering what I am doing with the rest of my body that sprouts more hair than I would like to admit.

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

I know the Philips brand has been known for their epilators and electric shavers for many years so I figured my experience with the BikiniGenie may mean that I will also love their other hair removal products. I am not quite yet ready to dole out coins for laser on my legs, pits or face just yet so it was worth a shot and the price point is so much more affordable than laser sessions. My first attempt was with the Philips Satinelle Advanced Wet & Dry Epilator. I was stoked for it because I heard that it had the ability to grab even the finest of hairs (even has a unique light to illuminate the area you are working on so you can target the teeny tiny hairs) and because the hair is removed straight from the root, it grew back slower, similar to waxing. It came with several attachment heads making it safe and easy to use all over my body but you know what…it’s just not for me. I am not quite sure what I was expecting in terms of pain level but it was far from pain free, I will say that. Personally, for me the discomfort level was not far off from waxing so I didn’t see the point however, if you can handle it and are looking for an at-home hair removal option that removes hair straight from the root and eliminates trips to the salon, this is the tool for you.

With the epilator no longer an option for moi, I tried the Philips electric shaver and have been using it religiously ever since on my legs, arms and armpits. So much different than shaving with straight razors. There’s a multiflex head with dual foils to make sure you don’t miss any hairs. I do find that I have to be very particular and hold it on a 90 degree angle when I am moving the shaver up my leg to ensure that

the blade cuts the hair as close to the skin as possible. I loooooove that I don’t need to be in the shower to use it like I would with a traditional razor. I’ve actually only used it in the shower once, I much prefer dry use. It’s a lot more convenient that way. I have traveled with this thing and even bring it on set with me to shave before a shoot if I don’t have time to do it the night before. You can’t expect to get the same shave as you would with a straight razor but if you’re anything like me, you’ll rush and end up slicing your skin. You can eliminate cuts and nicks from your shaving equation with the Philips SatinShave Prestige Electric Shaver. Plus, its only $60 on Amazon right now, so in the long run if you think about it, even more cost effective than purchasing straight razors for the foreseeable future.

Philips Hair Removal

For the ultimate in smoothness, I love to use Céla’s Seed to Scrub (a natural grain polish), their Exfoliating Mitt on my legs and arms followed by the brand’s Creme de la Creme Light moisturizer. And, voila…welcome to the softest skin ever. Also, just because I’m super extra, I wanted to also try out the Philips PrecisionPerfect Trimmer because why the hell not. I had gotten my brows micro bladed back in January so the maintenance on them is pretty minimal but now I don’t have to waste any time going anywhere to do threading to clean them up.

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha

Philips Har Removal - So Sasha
Photography by Jess Baumung

I’ve linked all the products above so you can shop them directly from Amazon, because who doesn’t love receiving the products they have ordered same day? They are also available for sale in store at Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, London Drugs, and Jean Coutu nationwide.

 

The Inaugural Millie Speaks Conference Series: “Your Authentic Life” Hits Toronto Sept 29th

There’s something special coming to Toronto ladies and I can’t wait to share this news with you. Next Saturday September 29th at the Arta Gallery, I am going to be apart of the very first Millie Speaks event. Created by Founder Chelsea Brown, Millie is a new company that in all honesty has the capability of being something HUGE. The goal. To inspire and support women in their journey to LIVE TRUE through a series of speaker conferences and exclusive travel experiences. The inaugural female centric speaker series, appropriately titled, “Your Authentic Life” has been created for like-minded women looking to inspire and be inspired by each other. I am so deeply honoured to be a part of such a phenomenally diverse group of panelists and stoked to hear the stories and tales from the other women who I look up to so much. I’m really also looking forward to being totally candid with all of you in attendance and open up more about my personal journey to where I am today. A 38 year former athlete, turned Marketer, turned entrepreneur and mom to a 1 year old, who has overcome so much adversity to find my way to true happiness and success. I will get to speak to this more during the conference. Trust me, I am fully aware that happiness and success mean very different things to different people and having one doesn’t necessarily mean you have the other. Took me years and quite a few road bumps along the way to learn that.

Millie Speaks: Your Authentic Life
Photography by Nicole Lewis – NicoleLewisPhotography.ca

So…what You Can Expect From Millie Speaks: Your Authentic Life? Over the course of the day, you will get to sit in on a series of three different panels showcasing women who champion as “Living Authentically” and courageously embracing what’s unique to them.  “The Everyday Heroine” who has achieved an impressive level of success but still experience an element on self doubt in their lives, and the “Adventurists” who have unlocked their own potential and greater perspective through travel”. The list of 10 panelists, including yours truly all bring different backgrounds, expertise and perspectives, which to me means there will at least be one panellist you’ll connect with on a deeper level.

Millie Speaks: Your Authentic Life

The moderators aren’t to be outdone by the panelists and are a group of amazing women, some you may already know of; Noreen Flanagan Editor in Chief of Fashion Magazine, Sangita Patel from ET Canada, Sarah Daniel; Beauty Editor and Creator of The Hidden Beauty Podcast and Dominique Lamberton from OnRoute Magazine. Plus, two Key Note Speakers that will BLOW. YOUR. MIND.

Millie Speaks: Your Authentic Life

In between all this amazingness…(yup, there’s more!) the day will kick off with an uplifting meditation. You’ll also get to check out the FASHION Magazine lounge, enjoy mini facials, hand massages and complimentary skin analysis from Caudalie – the ultimate brand in luxury skincare, fuel and refuel with great food, drinks and so much more.

Are you ready to open your minds (and hearts) to REAL conversations with REAL women? Tickets are now available for sale and will go quickly as space is extremely limited. To purchase tickets and for more information go to Millie.ca.

My VIP Toronto Film Fest Giveaway with First Canadian Place

Ok, I’ve been dying to share this news. DYING!!!! Film Festival here in Toronto starts next week and I’ve partnered with First Canadian Place and Exchange Tower to gift one lucky follower the ultimate film festival experience. FCP has seriously stepped up their retail game and I recently paid the centre a visit to scoop up some pieces for next week’s events and film premieres.

Toronto International Film Festival x First Canadian Place

Toronto International Film Festival x First Canadian Place

What I’m Wearing: Sequin Dress from Maska Mode // Jewelry by Swarovski // Chanel Rose Gold Sunglasses from Specs & Contacts

So what you’ll win is pretty major. A shopping spree with me (YAY) for the perfect film fest outfit (valued at $1000), plus tickets to a premiere and dinner for two. Craaaaazy right? Contest starts today and ends on September 9th.

Toronto International Film Festival x First Canadian Place

What I’m Wearing: Black Cami Tank from Sisley // Pants Derek Lam from Hangar 9 // Clutch from Judith & Charles // Bracelet from Swarovski // Sunnies are Gucci from Specs & Contacts. All retailers found at First Canadian Place

Oculina Black Organza Top (worn as a dress) by Marie Saint Pierre from Hangar 9 // Emerald Velvet Clutch from Judith and Charles // Jewelry by Swarovski

Toronto International Film Festival x First Canadian Place

Toronto International Film Festival x First Canadian Place

To enter simply share a photo of your ideal festival outfit OR share the contest image on your own IG page tagging @FirstCanadianPlace using the hashtag #MyFCPExFilmFest in the caption and you must follow the First Canadian Place IG account. Winner will be announced on September 10th on both @FirstCanadianPlace and my IG stories. You can find full contest details on myfirstcanadianplace.ca

The Power of Human Touch For Babies After The Newborn Stage

Since becoming a Huggies Ambassador a year ago, I have become slightly obsessed with discovering the benefits of skin-to-skin and the power of human touch for babies. Huggies actually has some great resources and information on their No Baby Unhugged website above and beyond product info and it’s where I’ve found useful White Paper documents like “The Power of Human Touch for Babies whitepaper and I know it’s legit because they are done in conjunction with the CAPHC (Canadian Association of Paedeiatric Health Centres). I honestly just find the whole topic fascinating and I’ve incorporated it as much as possible over the last year at home as Maxie gets older. In my experience touch at 1 years old has been just as important as it was when she was a newborn.

Ok mamas (to-be and new mamas), I have some information that is going to legit BLOW YOUR MIND. Our babies benefit from the power of our touch way before they are even born.  Research has shown that as early as 8 weeks after conception, a fetus is able to respond to the sensation of touch in utero. I know, crazy right! And guess what? There’s also some amazing benefits of touch for babies past the utero and newborn stages. There are different types of touch; from skin-to-skin, kangaroo care, facilitating tucking (make sure to Google this!), holding/rocking and infant massage. All these have beneficial effects that are actually supported by science. Pain relief, physiological stability, sleep, crying, both infant and parent mental health and increased breastfeeding rates are some of the reasons why I have been such a huge advocate. In the below chart, the ✔ indicates that there is a sufficient amount of research and evidence to claim it’s beneficial. An empty box means it’s neither harmful nor helpful and a question mark simply means there is not enough findings to say whether it has an effect.:

Findings from CAPHC document on The Power of Human Touch for Babies

For some reason most of the messaging on the benefits on touch tends to be around skin-to-skin and focused towards mothers with newborns, while other other forms of touch when babies get older are less frequently shared.  I’ve talked quite a bit about skin-to-skin and hugging during my pregnancy, early on in my motherhood journey and in my recent “Global Hug Your Kid Day” post here on the blog when she was just my teeny tiny newborn, but Maxwell is approaching her 1st birthday and there are still things we do together at home to incorporate touch as much as possible because of the powerful effect it has on her physical (how her body grows), emotional (her mental health), behavioural (how she will control and manage her own behaviour) and social development (interaction with others).

Infant Massage (IM)

If Maxie could talk, I am certain she would tell you this is her most favourite form of touch…selfishly of course. Adults LOVE massages so why would it be any different for a baby? Maxie had her first bath when she was 7 days old and with the help of my doula, I learned  how to ease Max into her first bathing experience and how beneficial IM can be for babies.

It has been apart of our bath time/nighttime routine ever since. It is the time of day I savour the most. That intoxicatingly yummy baby smell after her bath and the way she looks into my eyes while I rub her down is THE cutest thing ever. Perfect way for a parent to bond with baby. It’s super beneficial for sleep in full term babies and can also aid in digestion. I like to rub her down with a bit of lavender essential oil during the massage, which has a calming effect and perfect for sleep, with a carrier oil right after I put her diaper on. Gentle massage along the jawline and cheeks has also helped a ton for her teething pain.

Kangaroo Care (KC)/Baby Wearing

Yes, I am still very much wearing Maxie in a carrier thanks to the encouragement of my midwives and clinical findings outlined here. We have a handful of wraps and carriers that allow me to have Maxwell directly on my body. When we are at home, this form of touch is always done with her in a diaper only and I usually remove my shirt and bra.

Photography by Jess Baumung

I also wear her this way outside of the house. KC (Kangaroo Care) I find is a bit more challenging during the summer months with the heat which means Max is less likely to stay in there for long periods of time, but she does love it and I can tell she feels a sense of security against my chest. I know some of you will probably ask how long I keep her in the wrap when I wear her but to be honest, I just go by her energy and vibes. When she looks like she’s ready to come out, I take it off.

Skin-to-Skin (SCC)

I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that we still occasionally do skin-to-skin. I really don’t think there’s a disadvantage to doing it this late in the game but I think most just stop after the first few months. During the first three months we did SCC as much as possible but now that she’s much older, I reserve this for when she is sick or feeling under the weather/uncomfortable from teething as it’s known to help with pain relief and crying. I am unsure of the effectiveness at her age but to be honest, it certainly is comforting…for the both of us and my parenting ethos is “do things that feel good”.

To learn more about Huggies and the benefits of skin-to-skin hugs, visit www.nobabyunhugged.huggies.ca

This post has been created in partnership with Huggies for monetary compensation and/or product. however all views and opinions are my own!

CliniqueFit High Performance Beauty + Skincare Essentials

Wearing a full face of make-up to the gym just really isn’t my jam but I would be lying if I said I was always 100% make-up free during my workouts. I usually don’t get a chance to re-do my makeup throughout the work week and so whatever products I put on my face when I leave in the morning, is pretty what stays on until the end of the day. This means, I need high performing products that can keep up with my active lifestyle.

 

Videography by Shawn Pinnock of Cultivate

You know that go-to ice breaker question people love to ask, “What are 5 things you can’t live without?” My answer always includes a long wear mascara and tinted moisturizer. I can’t leave home without them. Most seem to work fine for me when my makeup is done for evening events or for daytime meetings but trouble arises when it’s time for a midday workout or run.  I’ve wondered for years why no beauty brands had thought to create a makeup collection for women with active lifestyles, designed to withstand sweat and humidity. I mean, I couldn’t possibly be the only woman out there craving lightweight, long wearing makeup that allows her to look flawless for anything the day happens to throw at them..

Clearly not, which is why Clinique stepped up to the plate and recently launched CliniqueFit; a collection of high performance makeup and skincare essentials for women with a highly active life. YAS! What you’ll find in the range is 7 phenomenal products that every fitness obsessed girl should have in both their makeup and gym bags to help them look more alive after that 6am Barry’s Bootcamp class before work. Post workout cleansing wipes, a mattifying moisturizer, a light-weight foundation, a hydrating face spray, a lip + cheek flush that I love to apply post workout, plus their hero product; the Workout 24 hour Mascara. The line is super affordable – thank goodness because I don’t think I could live without it and available for sale now in Canada at Shopper’s Drug Mart locations nationwide and Clinique.com in the U.S.

Global Hug Your Kid Day

Today is Global Hug Your Kid Day! I didn’t actually have a child last year, so this is my first time acknowledging the day. If you’re not already a parent, Hug Your Kid Day may sound a bit frivolous or silly. Maybe even compared to other social content calendar dates like “National Kissing Day” or “National Ice Cream Day” but I promise you this one has depth, meaning and great importance. 

Global Hug Your Kid Day - Huggies - So Sasha

Do you guys remember that old poem that became widely popular in the nineties called, “The Hug“? I know I just really dated myself but in a nutshell, it shows just how much a hug can do. Here’s a little excerpt to jog your memory: 

 

A hug can cheer you when you’re blue.

A hug can say, “I love you so,”

Or, “Gee, I hate to see you go.”

A hug is, “Welcome back again.”

And, “Great to see you! Where’ve you been?”

A hug can soothe a small childs pain,

and bring a rainbow after rain.

The hug! There’s just no doubt about it-

we scarcely could survive without it!

A hug delights and warms and charms.

It must be why God gave us arms.

The poem continues to go on but I really love the part that says hugs can soothe a small child’s pain. As a Huggies Ambassador, I have learned a great deal about the power of hugs and touch and how vital they are to a baby’s well-being. If you think about it, mother’s have been instinctively hugging their babies since the beginning of time and finally these benefits are now backed by science. Hugging our little ones from day one can affect healthy development and even who are children become later in life. 

Huggies Ambassador - So Sasha

The oxytocin that is released in our bodies while we are in an embrace can 100% do magical things. I know during my own low points with my illness or in tough times, being hugged can immediately make me feel better and even safe, if that makes sense. Thanks to the oxytocin and seratonin that’s released in our bodies when we are embraced, hugs create calmness, tranquility and wellness – no matter the age. 

Thanks to the recommendation from our friends at Huggies, Réjean and I were encouraged to create a hug plan while I was still pregnant and we shared it with our midwives and doula a couple months before my due date. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged website is such an amazing resource for parents-to-be and new moms and dads. All of the benefits of hugging can be found there in addition, to the Hug Plan template that was developed by medical experts along with the Huggies team. Straight out of the womb, we both did skin-to-skin with Max as per the plan and in the weeks following I did tons of Kangaroo Care with her only wearing her Huggies Little Snugglers against my bare skin. 

Now I know I am a first time mum so I really don’t have much to compare it to but I would like to think that our commitment to hugs, touch and skin-to-skin has reaped many benefits. Anyone who has been following along on my journey in motherhood can attest that this little girl truly is a really happy baby. My healthcare providers also agree and believe that our hug moments have played an important role in reducing any newborn anxiety/stress, increased my success with breastfeeding, improved Max’s sleep from infancy, and just overall better health. Personally, I would also like to believe that the affection she shows us, in the form of her baby bear hugs and slobbery kisses, can be credited to the affection she has been receiving since day one. And I honestly cannot describe the joy I feel when she wraps her arms around me. 

Photography By David A. Pike for Huggies Canada

Celebrate Global Hug Your Kid Day by giving your mini a squeeze and if you’re expecting you can always give your belly an embrace because it’s never too early to start hugging. To learn more about the benefits of hugging your baby and to sign up for Huggies Rewards, visit NoBabyUnhugged.ca. 

This post is in partnership with Huggies Canada as a Brand Ambassador in exchange for monetary compensation and/or product however all views and opinions are my own. 

The Truth About Vitamin D & Sun Safety

Brought to you by Jamieson and TheCo 

I have said this many times in the past on my blog but we tend to take supplements and vitamins very seriously in our household. So much so, we moved into our current place because the kitchen had enough pantry space to accommodate all our pills and powders. One of these days I will have to do a pantry tour on my IG stories and take you through what I take on a daily basis. But for right now I just want to chat a bit about one essential vitamin that is too often overlooked, especially during this time of the year. 

Jamieson Essentials - Vitamin D

Jamieson Essentials - Vitamin D - So Sasha

Jamieson Essentials - Vitamin D
Photography by Jess Baumung

Are you Vitamin D deficient? If you’re not taking Vitamin D supplements year round, chances are you’re deficient. We often hear advice from healthcare providers that we should take Vitamin D during the long and dark winter months because of our very limited exposure to the sun. Many of us oblige during that time, without even knowing why it’s vital for our health, but most Canadians tend to assume that once summer hits, we obtain enough natural Vitamin D from the good ‘ole sunshine. NOT. TRUE. What’s even more alarming, although our body produces Vitamin D naturally through the sun, this can only happen when your body isn’t protected by sunscreen…a fact that is not known to many. I mean, I literally just recently discovered this myself. So I know you’re probably wondering, “are you suggesting that we don’t wear sunscreen?” Absolutely not! I do not leave my house without SPF 50 and I make sure that Maxie has on infant safe sunscreen to protect her delicate skin because we LOVE the outdoors. We both also take Vitamin D every single day for our immune system and bone health and taking 1,000 IU’s can help prevent deficiency. This is why Jamieson Vitamins has made Vitamin D a part of their Jamieson Essentials line-up of four natural health products designed to help you get the key nutrients necessary for overall good health; Probiotics, Multivitamin, Omega-3 and of course Vitamin D. 

 

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the vitamin options so your best bet if you’re not taking any at all right now is to start with Jamieson Essentials to make sure you have the basics covered and you can also consult your healthcare provider for advice on additional supplements. With the official start of summer right around the corner, make sure you sun safely with a combination of Vitamin D and sunscreen. To learn more, head to jamiesonvitamins.com 

This post is in partnership with Jamieson Vitamins for monetary compensation and/or product however all opinions are my own.

 

How To Make The Most of Your Summer Road Trip With An Infant

When I think of summer, BBQ’s, patio hangs, and ice cream immediately comes to mind. If you’re a Canadian, I think you may also agree that summer is also about road trips and going to the cottage. I’ve surely done my fair share of road trips over the years and they can be fun, with the right company and music (I can’t drive anywhere without XM Satellite radio now), but I think a lot of first time parents or families with young kids legitimately fear the potential of endless cries, screams and hearing the ever so famous phrase, “Are we there yet?” I sooooo get that traveling with little ones can be stressful but trust me, it really doesn’t have to be.

We’ve done a few trips in our Buick Enclave Avenir so far, albeit short ones, and you know what? The car has really been a game changer for extended driving. It has given us the confidence to take Maxwell on a cross country adventure to New Brunswick and P.E.I. this month. I know a lot of you guys are going to think we are nuts but it’s too late. We’ve committed and it’s happening. To be honest, we would have 100% traveled by plane if it wasn’t for the Enclave but I think having a car that makes us feel safe on the road, has tons of space and allows for wireless entertainment powered by 4G LTE wireless can actually make this experience enjoyable instead of stressful. There’s a full suite of technology that has our back while we are on the road. OnStar totally puts our mind at ease. We have roadside assistance, automatic crash response and emergency services right at the press of the blue button. If we are in a bind with reception service on our phones and need assistance with directions, we can always rely on the a representative sending turn by turn directions to the car.

A luxury crossover this large for a family of three plus a dog probably seems like a bit of overkill. We may not require passenger seating for 7 all the time, but we can most definitely utilize the rear for additional cargo space especially on road trips. We looooooove that we have options with the configuration back there. My go-to is using the power fold third row to turn the bench seat into a 60/40 split. Guys, it collapses the back seat in seconds and it makes it easy to accommodate our luggage, Maxie’s stroller, travel crib and even larger toys. One of our best road trip strategy’s that has  been fail proof is always having one of us sitting in the back with the baby. I speak more about this in my road trip hacks below, but it helps that our middle row has extra large captain seats with SO. MUCH. LEG ROOM. It’s unreal! You kinda don’t feel like you’re missing out not riding shotgun.

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

And have you ever been trapped in a car for hours having to take turns charging wireless devices, not having adequate cup holders for the all the road trip bevies or feeling like you’re just drowning in stuff piling up around you…? As in the stuff that couldn’t all fit in the trunk! Well, there’s a spot to house everyone’s cup of coffee and baby bottles plus we can literally charge every single devise we bring along in the Enclave – all at the same damn time may I add. With access to 6 USB outlets and a 120V power outlet. The new spacious designs means there’s way more room for storage in the doors plus the new available compartment located conveniently under the middle console in the front row, where Réjean stores his stash of snacks.

Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha

This upcoming trip to New Brunswick will be the longest we’ve ever driven as a family, so I will loop back in with you guys and share the experience when we are back. If you’re considering hitting the road with your mini(s) this summer for the first time, here’s some tips to take note of that will actually make the experience fun:

  1. Plan Frequent Breaks. I learned this one the hard way on our last drive to Montreal. We may be able to drive five or six hours without stopping to use the bathroom or eat, but babies cannot. I have discovered that for daytime driving I need to plan for stops ever 2-3 hours and when traveling at night, every 3-6 hours to do diaper changes, feed, stretch legs and change clothes if necessary. That being said, when you have an extra spacious vehicle like the Enclave, you can actually save time not going into a rest stop or restaurant by doing the quick changes and feeds in the parking lot.
  2. Tag team. This is probably the most crucial – if you are not making the journey alone. While one of you is driving, the other should sit in the back with the baby. Believe me, it makes a world of a difference and that backseat caretaker can keep them occupied, prepare bottles, attend to spit-up, and play Peek-a-Boo like I have to do for Maxwell for hours (see below). It totally takes the stress of the driver too and can minimize stops.  And when the baby sleeps, whoever is in the back better get some shut eye too!

    Buick Enclave Avenir - So Sasha
    Video by Shawn Pinnock & Images by Jess Baumung
  3. Manage Your Expectations. Do yourself a favour and don’t expect that road trip to Montreal is going to take as long as it did when you were childless and single because that is just not realistic. There’s a number of things that can go wrong; inclement weather, teething pain, long weekend traffic or construction causing lane closures. Having a sense of humour about it all can ease the tension.
  4. Keep All The Necessities Close By. You will probably want to pack everything and the kitchen sink on your road trip which is fine, especially when you have the room for it but you’re not going to want to pull over and rummage through your luggage every single time your baby needs something like a diaper change, snack or toy. These things are inevitable so it makes sense to pack these essentials in a smaller, easy to access bag in the backseat. Things like; a portable changing pad, wipes, diapers, infant Advil, an extra blanket, pre-portioned bottles of formula or breast milk in a cooler bag, a couple small toys should do the trick for your little one. Don’t forget to pack one for the adults too with chargers, iPads, high protein snacks, sleep-aids, eye masks and earphones.
  5. Drive At Night. I wouldn’t normally suggest this if it’s just one parent doing the drive with kids tagging along but if you have a partner with you, driving at night is a really brilliant idea. Driving at night means your baby will spend much more time sleeping and less time crying, being hungry and wanting a diaper change. It’s not the most ideal switch for the driver because night driving can be difficult and more tiring but it’s marginally better than dealing with a screaming baby with no exit in sight. There’s some amazing features in our car that provides extra safety during night drives like Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert that keeps the car safely in the designated lane and warning you of a potential crash aheadBest the driver is probably caffeinated and pulls over to rest or switch drivers because safety is the most important thing.  Your best bet is to have your partner pack up the car while the other does the baby’s bedtime routine but instead of putting the baby in their crib, you put them into their car seat.
  6. Baby Massage. You know that stiff feeling we get in our legs and back when we have been sitting in a car for hours on end? Well babies can actually become uncomfortable too after sitting too long in her car seats. Infant massage works well on long drives so read up on some techniques and be sure the implement them during the ride or while at rest stops.  I like to massage Maxie’s legs, feet and arms while when I am in the back with her and often times it calms her down and can actually put her to sleep.

    Rear View Mirror Camera on the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir
  7. Take Proper Precautions. I am nuts about double checking everything before going on a road trip – with or without infant. Our Buick Enclave makes it super simple for me to check the oil level and tire pressure throughout the trip on the auxiliary panel and when fuel is getting low, I can see exactly how many km’s I have until the tank is empty. Also, it’s super important when packing to not obstruct the driver’s view, especially the rear view mirror. Buick understands the need for extra safety and had the clever idea to create a rear view mirror that turns into a rear camera in those rare occasions where the trunk is packed full. It used to sound like a “nice-to-have” feature but after a few road trips I have discovered that it’s actually more of a “need-to-have” feature.

You can follow along on our upcoming cross country adventure on my social channels and I will be doing a little recap of the trip here on the blog. To learn more about Buick’s luxurious crossover, head over to Buick.ca

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