yoga for your body AND mind!

if you are serious about yoga you usually have a yoga guru of your own, I would like to give you a chance for you to try out my yoga guru...karin stephan. I have been following her practice for about 8 years. there are so many reasons that I love karin and I could go on and on but I really feel like nonchalant mom is about introducing new ideas, look into karin for yourself here and I will keep it at that! for those of you in new york city karin teaches classes at the iyengar institute from time to time and you can see her schedule here. but for those lucky folks who live in the boston area you can practically go when you wish! there is an upcoming workshop on 'the advanced studies course in the art of yoga and therapeutics and healing' february 16th - 21st and I will be going for the day on the 16th (see the class on the 16th here) so if you want to join me...let's sign up (the 16th is on 'alignment and the asymmetric body')!!

you can read much more about karin if you check out her yoga macro website here
she also runs a bed and breakfast, so if you want to come for the day you can stay with her and she offers a macrobiotic breakfast. and don't be surprised when she peppers her classes with her very interesting 30 year background in the study of Mr. Iyengar's yoga teachings. Karin is fascinating as much as she is an elegant and insightful yoga teacher, and her inclusion of macrobiotics and internal organs makes her classes so incredibly ....whole! you will not be let down...I guarantee it!
I would also like to add that I went to one of karins retreats on cape cod after I had my first son, it was my first trip away from him when he was almost 2 years old, and it really brought my mind and body back into itself and made me much more clear. I really feel as though it makes me a stronger parent because my mind is stronger as well as my body and it also feels so very good to look after yourself sometimes! ...you know what I mean!

gomasio....instead of salt!

when kids are young there is really no need for salt in their diet and gomasio is a nice way to add taste to your cooking with much less salt...AND it's easy to prepare, if you make it yourself then you can also watch the amount of salt that you are using. you can buy raw sesame seeds in bulk at most health food stores and whole foods, so buy a bunch so that you have it on hand when you need it and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. you can also buy already prepared gomasio but I think it has too much salt, and the smell and flavor is so much better when you prepare it yourself. in fact, I remember when I had our first son Dr. Warren King told me not to use salt until he was 4 years old (dr. warren king is my 'guru' doctor and if you are lucky enough to live in Minnesota you MUST give him a try...you will be amazed!).

I would like to take a moment to talk about a nice iron skillet. I think this is a very important tool in your kitchen and the best is Griswald. now you only have to decide on the size that is right for you and your family, we have both a size 6 and an 8, we use them both every day! I bought them at a flea market ten years ago for about $7 each, years ago and they will last forever (I have been carting them all around the world with me). You should never use soap to clean them, just warm water and a brush work great, then dry them off on the flame on your stove...after awhile they will season nicely to your cooking and they will add healthy iron to your meals that is essential, especially for women.

so take your iron skillet, dry, and put in a couple of hand-fulls of sesame seeds. toast on a medium flame until golden and then add about a teaspoon of salt and toss again. take your seeds off the flame and put them into a suribachi or use a mortar and pestle (I have also used a empty wine bottle and cutting board..so anything can work) and grind the sesame seeds for a bit until they are pretty cracked and the aroma is fantastic! and there you go!

gomasio is such a wonderful and healthy topping for all meals and kids really love it! ...and it's a good source of iron and calcium!


The Nonchalantdad: Christmas Redux!

We are safely out of the MAJOR holiday season at our home. We seem to have survived without much internal friction or disillusionment – the kinds of things that occur whenever immediate family are confined together for any length of time in one place. We are not an overtly religious family. As such, we choose to consider the Christmas period as an opportunity to bring family together to celebrate… well… family and friends, and the spirit of giving and loving associated with the day itself. We have many friends who are more religious than ourselves, both Christians and Jews, and at this time of year we try to make our children aware of the many different values that others place on Christmas or Hannukah. We see no reason not to share others ideas and believes – it will only enable our own children to make up their own minds later in life.

But, most important to us at this time is to show our kids the wonder and excitement that comes from celebrating Christmas – the absolute joy of being a child, and the magic that goes into many of the customs associated with it. We have an array of experience to share with our little ones. My wife comes from a firm Swedish custom, and I am from a fairly unique family environment – my father was Muslim, and my mother is Christian. I remember clearly the year my mother somehow persuaded my father to dress as Santa Klaus and distribute toys to us and other neighbourhood kids. Having Santa speak to you, however briefly, in a middle eastern accent does raise suspicions a little though. But, by then, we were already drifting into our doubts about Santa in general.

But, the magic is important. Aside from birthdays, it is the one time where children can really be immersed in all the myths and customs associated with it. In our home, we have the quintessential American experience. My wife, and her family, insist on celebrating Christmas the evening of the 24th of December. And they should – they are Swedish. As for my family, we tended towards celebrating starting the morning of the 25th. In this regard, we followed my mother’s English history. As I mentioned, my father being Muslim, he was kind enough to not have any insistence. Instead, he regarded the whole celebration with amusement and treated it with the respect he had for any occasion that brought the whole family together. His usual custom was to give each child an envelope on Christmas day filled with a cash amount that was always just below the average childs standard of living!

So, we have a hodge-podge of customs we try to incorporate. On Christmas eve we have
a large meal with family and friends. Most importantly we await the arrival of Santa. After the kids are bathed and filled with so much excitement and expectation that they can hardly stand it (and just prior to bedtime), somebody announces excitedly that they see a red light in the sky. This, of course, for those of you who don’t know, means that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is guiding old Santa in. Shortly afterwards, there is the sound of bells and stomping feet on our roof (Thankfully, our roof is flat). We must be the only family in the near region who has the distinction of having a semi intoxicated, Jewish, homosexual Santa on our roof. And he really does his job well! The kids are screaming and bumping into each other as they scatter to hide so that Santa doesn’t necessarily see them. We corral them into hiding just beneath the window that looks out onto our back garden. After a period of silence (Santa has to navigate his magical self back down from the roof without breaking his own neck) Santa appears in full regalia around the corner, hunched over with a bag of toys on his back. Someone invariably screams and Santa pauses for a second before bellowing out a huge HO-HO-HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS … and lists off the name of our children. The kids peak over the window to see him slowly and emphatically lower the bag of toys next to a large rock sitting next to our back door. The kids can hardly contain themselves by now. With that, Santa turns and walks back towards where he came from. This year, because the kids were just to damned excited we opened the back door in time for the kids to scream after him. He turned and waved… repeating the words almost every child loves to hear: HO-HO-HO, MERRY CHRISTMAS. The kids are beside themselves. After a moment we let them out to fetch the bag and bring it in. There is a toy for each.

In a nod to my families custom, we save some of the toys under the tree for the next morning. As well, the kids remain excited through the night as they anticipate the stockings being filled in the morning and the cookies and milk consumed by Santa as he returns inexplicably to leave more JOY. Christmas day we have an equally special morning meal of homemade swedish pancakes and the kids open some more gifts. Thus, the magic of the holiday is elongated and both parents and kids are happy for it. It makes sense to us, and by doing so, we avert the often hectic one-time affair of opening gifts that has in the past made for some sour moments – only because nothing special comes from the speedy chaos of that one moment when everyone simulataneously descends on the tree!


kideko sale!

I swear you won't find me yelling out 'sale' often but I love this australian bedding company, kideko...and it's a sale...so I figured it all might work together to equal a good deal to make your kids bedrooms even more bright and fun! (maybe even pay the shipping costs from australia) and not only the beds, handy utility bags, wall posters and my favorite the height charts! (this way you can take the memories with you in case, 'gasp' you move!

and FINALLY.. instead of trucks for boys kideko has given us a refreshing alternative...monsters! (but they happen to be cute!..see green above)

I'll let the images speak for themselves but don't miss this sale!!
visit their website here!


brown rice 101

It's the time of year when, even if it was not a resolution, we are thinking about eating more healthy, and less heavy meals. I think that the essential part of that healthy meal is brown rice! in our house we embrace brown rice and use it in most of our cooking. but I know that a lot of people don't like to make brown rice because 1) you have to wash the rice and 2) the long cooking time....my sister also soaks her brown rice, a step that I never seem to plan into the cooking time! but it is better and more digestible that way. you will see that it is a good idea to wash brown rice because when you do you will see all of the dust that is washed off in the process, so just do it!...take your cup of rice and put it in a bowl of cold water and swish around with your hand and you will see the dust wash out, then just pour off the water. repeat this process three times and you are ready to go! soon you will become a pro at this and you won't mind the process at all, in fact it's kind of meditation time for me.

the next step gets easier, put your rice in a good size pot and add double the amount of water (1 cup rice/2 cups water), then throw in a small piece of kombu and 1 umeboshi plum (sometimes I put the shiso leaves that the plums are pickled in for added flavor, it's delicious!). cover your pot and put on a low flame (if you have a flame tamer...even better!) and put on your timer for 45 mins. check at 40 minutes and your rice might be ready and you can let it sit for a about 5-10 minutes before serving. whola! delicious brown rice...easy! at first you might want to take out the remains of kombu and umeboshi when you are finished cooking, but as you get more used to it you should just take out the umeboshi plum pit and then stir it all in with the rice (both the kombu and the umeboshi).

the kombu adds wonderful minerals to your brown rice and calcium, and also helps you to digest it better and the umeboshi plum works instead of salt (as well as it's powerful strengthening and
alkalinizing properties). this all adds up to more healthy, and delicious, brown rice.

I like to cook a little more than we actually need for dinner so that we have some on hand for snacking, and I like to make the kids a kind of 'fried rice' by
sautéing it with vegetables the next day. I cut up just about any kind of vegetables (and always some broccoli) and chop it up in small bits so they don't really notice the amount of veggies that they are really getting and there you go (you can drizzle some toasted seasame oil and gomasio on top as a garnish, I will teach you to make gomasio in my next blog) ...and they love it! you can also add some miso broth and it becomes very yummy it's really a favorite in our house (and it's also good when your refrigerator is bare!).

another leftover for brown rice, this one is maybe more for yourself than your kids, but I like to make a really strong miso (just with the water and paste) and then add some brown rice so it's like brown rice soup...it's a simple and cleansing meal for you and I always feel more energized by it!

whatever you do with brown rice you always know you are getting a
strengthening and fortifying meal. so good luck and get on with it and enjoy your brown rice!

you can buy terrific organic brown rice and all the above ingredients (umeboshi and kombu) at the kushi store here but you can also find everything at your local co-op or whole foods.


baby creams, oils, and all that goes with it....

I think that babies bring to most families an acute awareness of all things natural and organic, because, let's face it we would never want to put anything bad on our babies skin...and I am here to tell you there are some crazy bad things out there, just read a bottle of johnson's baby lotion...yikes! it's a like a list of things you don't want for your new babies bottom. the good news is that there are some good things out there, and many of them have been around for a long time and are tried and true, like, my favorite weleda! aahhh...and the next time someone tells you that lotions need parabens to be stable, ask them why weleda products don't!? hhhmmm....you will see eyebrows cross and faces grind.

Weleda has been around for 86 years, and invented the word biodynamic®, which means working/farming in cycles and harmony with nature. their products are not only organic but are hand picked and grown biodynamically. visit their website and subscribe to 'we' their quarterly magazine and you will be teaching your friends some new tricks!

In our house there is very frequent massaging going on and we use their calendula oil, lotion and cream for irritated anything! the kids toothpaste is the best! and the nursing tea is the only tea I trusted to help my milk flow and make it all just the more comfortable (I also used it to help in milk production at times when I needed it, for example when traveling), we even used the cream for mild eczema and it works wonders! an infants skin is five times thinner than adult's so you must take care with what you are putting on it because it is readily absorbed (how is that for a clear picture of why NOT to use chemicals and additives). and this should also encourage you not to use these things for yourself, now I hope that I have encouraged you to become a label reader if you are not already one...take a look at your makeup...yikes!...we use the whole line of weleda products for the entire family and their chic colorful packaging is really the best! when you travel throughout europe you will see a much more extensive product line so stock up! and watch your skin, hair and body radiate with happiness and say thank you to weleda!

I am going to the weleda spa for my birthday next week so I will be sure to write a full report on my visit..boy, have I been waiting for this!!


winter wonderland and sports!

this post is from my sister who lives...well you can guess!:

If you are lucky enough to live in a temperate climate, now is the time to bundle up and spend some time in the snow and beautiful outdoors. Anything from organized sports to taking a walk or snowshoeing suffices. Just breathing the outside fresh air is so invigorating, refreshing and just plain healthy. There are many activities just outside your door; from starting up a snowball fight to building a snowman and sledding. A little more preparation is needed for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing but hey, they certainly pack a healthy punch! Ice fishing is not as vigorous, but it gets you out in the fresh air (can you tell we live in minnesota!?) The “indoor” winter sports don’t give you the fresh air opportunity, but are wonderful for staying in shape. Gymnasts and basketball players are some of the most conditioned athletes.

Organized sports like hockey and basketball are such a great opportunity for kids. Being on any sort of team sport teaches kids many life lessons. It is wonderful for kids to learn to get along in a group and work for something other than their singular person. Learning to get outside of yourself and work together on a goal makes you feel like you are a part of a community. “It takes a village to raise a child,” I love this saying. Having another adult give your child attention and instruction is of such value for them. They may get positive feed back and come home beaming or they may get negative feedback and then figure out what they need to do to overcome. They may decide that one particular sport is not for them and try another, it is definitely a learning and growing opportunity. The good with the bad, just like life.

I have three daughters, they are older. Two are in college, and one is a junior in High School. They have all been involved in sports, but interestingly, only our youngest participated in team sports. I have noticed that she has skills the other two don’t. I think she learned how to be a team player and care for the group. Being linked to a group makes you feel less isolated. Don’t you feel happier and laugh more when you are in a group?

any way you go about it, from team sports to individual...there are such valuable lessons and growth in any sport or activity...and really when you get down to it, it's all just the fun of running around and laughing!

thank you linda!


and then we have the painted box....

just another in the long line of ideas for winter blues...paint a box! as you can imagine we have tons of boxes coming through our house with my nonchalantmom business and no matter how many...what the size...the kids always go crazy! so from time to time we take out the paint set and paint them! we also like to make them into cars and houses and even robots! (another blog for another day...) it's so much fun and so very simple, and we like to make windows and doors for peeking because eventually your kids will end up inside the box! good for all ages, so paint and have some fun!


indoor tent!

this is our remedy for rainy afternoons, and then they somehow spill over and last a few days! we make them super deluxe with a light inside (we like to use our favorite ikea red light, it makes everything red!), a cushy mat on the floor (also just happens to be from ikea, the gym mat), and lots of pillows! eating lunch or a snack in the tent is very exciting, I usually leave it outside the tent door and then make them come and get it... it's all part of the game! and let me tell you, these can lead to at least two or maybe even three hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet for you! ha!

so let the mess slide and get into it! my husband and I have different styles of tent, I use lots of furniture around the edges (the higher the better...kids table on it's side...etc.) and then find your biggest blanket (usually two) and lay them over the top, this is where your king size will come in handy. it's very important that you seal off any sources of light, and a food window is always fun! sometimes we pretend the kids are animals and they are in their cave, but then you have to chase them a bit...just make it up and do it different every time! have fun!


salt bathes for healthy kids

our 'experiment' isn't really over yet but so far we are healthy and happy! my husband is convinced that salt baths twice a day will help to keep away colds and flu for our kids. so our new morning regime is bathtub for a quick salt bath and then also at night before bed. I have talked before about how salt baths help with eczema, mostly for mild eczema. fill tub and put enough salt into bath that it tastes like the ocean...and whola! twice a day. now we need to try this on adults...please let me know your results if you try the experiment.