Spotlight - Amélie & Max

Spotlight: Carolyn Sinclair

Carolyn Sinclair

Photographer: Silvia Silva @anchorstudio www.anchorstudio.ca

Aristotle was right. There are three types of friendships that everyone needs. The first, friendships of utility. This is the type of friend that always has your back and you have theirs.

The second friendship is one of pleasure. In this friendship you share activities that you both find fun, such as, getting your nails done or trying out a new recipe.

The third are friendships of good. These types of friendships are based on mutual respect and admiration. They don't come easy, but they are powerful and enduring. It's pretty rare to find all of these types of friendships bundled into one person, however, Carolyn "Care" Sinclair is that rare Toronto bird.

The West End mid-wife has delivered bazillion babies, taught parents and grandparents how to save their minis in an event of a medical emergency, and in short, is simply a good friend. Take a moment to learn more about this mama. 

Can you tell us how you became a midwife?

Becoming a midwife was somewhat natural for me given that I grew up with a mom who was a huge advocate for natural childbirth, home birth, breastfeeding and gentle parenting. Her influence in my life led me to want to help educate and support childbearing people and their families to have the birth and early parenting experiences that they deserve. 

Can you describe your typical workday and how do you manage to carve out some “me” time?

I'm currently home full time with my 2 kids (age 5 and 2.5) and have a little one on the way this spring. I also run two community businesses (Fifty-Seven & Movies For Mommies Humber) as well as an online parenting meetup (Bloor West Moms Group), and lots of community events so I'm a busy mama.

Most days revolve around the kids' schedule and their needs, which, is constant chaos, but I manage to fit in business during nap times, preschool hours and after bedtime. I mainly teach my classes during evenings and weekends when my partner is home with the kids. It's not always easy, but I get to be with them as much as possible so the balance is worth it. As for "me" time. I don't get a ton on a daily basis, but my partner is amazing and always encourages me to pop out for a break when I'm needing one. Sometimes that's a trip to the grocery store or to get my nails done. 

How would you describe your home?

Our house is bright and inviting. It's a real house that looks lived in with lots of kids stuff, but I also try hard to be strict about what comes into our home and avoid overwhelming us with too much stuff that's not necessary and doesn't improve our quality of life. We focus on good quality products that will last and love bringing in old antique pieces to balance all the new. 

Can you share three attributes, which make your home the perfect home for your family?

Nice big yard that enables us to have a full veggie garden, flower garden and lots of space for the kids to play. Bright main floor family room that allows me to keep an eye on the kids playing while I make meals. Our new basement addition gives us space for the kids to play with friends and family, plus a second bathroom --  which was definitely needed!

What are the ages of your children and how did you go about naming them?

Ben is five and Lucy is almost three. We came up with the names Benjamin and Lucille when I was pregnant with Ben and my mom was terminally ill. We decided on the two names so my mom would know what our kids names would be if anything happened before the birth. With this third baby on the way we don't have a name finalized and I think some of the difficulty for me is not being able to talk about it with my mom this time. 

In a day and age where people are having fewer children, what’s your take on becoming a mom of three?

I was born into a big family. As the youngest of five kids with over 40 cousins, a family with three kids doesn't actually seem that big to me. We would even consider a fourth depending on where life takes us. 

What is important to you when choosing clothes for your children?

I wish I could choose all locally made organic cotton clothing, but we don't have the budget for that yet. I try to focus on clothes that will last through multiple children and not fall apart after a few washes. A couple of my current fav brands are   Noppies and Sapling Child. 

Do your children decide what to wear or do you help them?

Ben always chooses his own outfits (unless we have something fancy to attend) and does a pretty good job. Some days his outfits are a little more eclectic than I would choose, but I like giving him the control. Lucy is still a bit hit or miss and usually needs help choosing stuff. She will often pick three shirts and no bottoms if left to choose on her own. 

What is it about Toronto that intrigues you?

Toronto is a city that is always changing. As a Toronto native I grew up in the heart of the city and have always love the diversity of this amazing place. I love all of the events and festivals that our city offers in the summer months and always try to get out to expose our kids to a few each season. 

You recently bought a minivan. How are you liking that?

We LOVE our new minivan. At first I thought I would dread being a "van family", but the space and ease it offers is amazing. It's so easy to get the kids in and out and I love all the automatic features like the doors and truck. It all makes loading a car with a squirmy toddler while pregnant much easier. Plus road trips are so much nicer with the extra square footage. Now to add car seat #3!

What do you and your family like to do together in the city or outside of Toronto?

In the city we love to go on walk and bike rides and explore outdoor spaces like the Humber River and High Park. We also love to stay put at home and enjoy our backyard and garden with friends. When we head out of the city we love to go to our family farm in the Ottawa Valley where the kids can see animals and roam free. We're also avid backcountry campers, but probably won't be getting out this season with a new babe on the way.

Is there any other place in the world that you could imagine living in?

We always talk about the idea of living somewhere more temperate or tropical and in a dream it sounds amazing, but the reality is that I can't imagine being away from my family and raising my kids anywhere else. Perhaps one day we'll buy a farm and move to the country, but for now Toronto is our home. 

Nui Organics Sheepskin Rug

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Spotlight: Jessica Lamb

@skiptomyluca

It is said that God will only give you what you can handle. So, in other words, you are stronger than you think and life will only deal you a set of cards that you can win with -- even if the game is riddled with unexpected twists and turns. This adage is certainly true for Jessica Lamb.

Lamb is a special education teacher who teaches students from kindergarden to grade 2 with severe disabilities. Some might view this as a tough gig. For Lamb, it's her true calling.

Prior to becoming a teacher she spent her days working her fingers through other people's hair as a hairstylist, and before that she spruced up homes, offices and love lives as a florist. Not exactly on the fast track to special education.

Still, her attraction to people with disabilities has been constant. While earning her Masters degree, she worked as an assistant in a special education classroom for several years on top of the four years she currently has under her belt as a professional.

This mother of 2 year old Luca is simply inspiring, read on to find out why.

A DAY IN A LIFE

From the moment I walk into the school building, I am pulled in 1000 different directions and have an endless to-do list. Being a special education teacher is complex and there are many facets to the job.

I work with the students as much as possible, but there is also a constant flow of demanding paperwork that comes with this job. I have an amazing team of classroom assistants who are able to run my classroom without a hitch while I run around the school building collaborating with other teachers, chasing runaway students, and having meeting after meeting.

We deal with a lot of intense behaviours from students, support them during physical, occupational, and speech therapies, and conduct lessons in academics. The day goes by quickly and I am always exhausted at the end of the day. When I get home, it is important for me to be able to just *sit* for a minute and recharge. I enjoy taking baths or the occasional solo trip to the mall for that necessary “me time.”

INTERIOR DESIGN 

Taylor, my husband, owns a small furniture business where he sells vintage mid-century modern furniture. He also does staging and furniture rental. He keeps our home filled with the coolest furniture!

Our home is a mix of mid-century modern and more of a modern “glam” style. Taylor is always bringing home different furniture pieces from his work and I try to style them up to avoid having too much of a vintage vibe. I love mid-century furniture but it can be really dark so it’s important to me that we add décor pieces to brighten up the atmosphere.

HOME SWEET HOME

We are actually getting ready to move to a new home at the end of this month! We chose the home because it is bright, has a great kitchen, and a wonderful backyard.

These three attributes were our number 1 priority when house hunting. I love to cook, but we have lived in a home with a terrible kitchen for years and it really impacted my love of being in the kitchen.

I cannot wait to get cooking in our new home! We also wanted a home with lots of natural light because that is something else that has been lacking in our current house. We are excited to have a backyard for Luca to play in this summer and he can’t wait for the sandbox!

PREGNANCY

I loved being pregnant with Luca. I was quite sick at the beginning, but once that phase was over I never felt better. I was huge, but I felt like the most beautiful person in the world and I never felt down about my appearance. I really enjoyed feeling him move and allowing others to experience that as well.

HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY 

HIE is essentially a loss of blood and oxygen flow to the brain which results in injury to the brain. When Luca was born, for a reason still unknown to us, he essentially died and needed resuscitation.

Because his resuscitation was difficult, he experienced prolonged oxygen desaturations and loss of blood to his brain. His brain was damaged because of this and he experiences global developmental delays along with some other difficulties. HIE affects each individual in different ways, but Luca is considered mild/moderately affected.

I want Luca to be raised with the awareness that he is exactly who he is meant to be and there are no mistakes. I want him to be confident in himself and know he is loved despite any challenges he may face along the way.  

WHY STYLE MATTERS

As Luca’s disability has become more obvious, it has become important to me that he is always dressed just as stylish as his peers and that always look his age even if he doesn’t quite act his age. Kids with disabilities deserve to look stylish too and I want him to stick out in a positive way based on him always looking sharp.

It is so fun to dress him and he loves getting dressed in the morning. We love to shop with smaller brands we find on Instagram, but we also love Baby Gap and the occasional Old Navy find.

I love for Luca to wear Freshly Picked moccasins because they are simple, stylish, and comfortable for him. I love the monochrome look of Huxbaby and a smaller shop from Canada called Keen Bean Dream. We also love a local brand called Rags to Raches who make the cutest one piece rompers. I could go on about this subject forever! 

FAMILY EXPANSION

Absolutely! It is important to us that Luca have a companion and someone to add to his support network. I would love to have a girl but I also think a brother would be great for Lu. Keep your eyes on this situation… .

SALT LAKE CITY

Taylor and I were both born and raised here. We love the beautiful seasons we get here in Salt Lake and we love the family feel of our city. There are so many young families here and it is an amazing place to raise children.

There is a dominant religion here (which you may have heard of) and people like to complain about that sometimes but I think it makes it an even better place for kids. We feel safe here and there are endless activities to do as a family.

Salt Lake City is absolutely family friendly!! Many who visit Utah come for the skiing/snowboarding in the winter. We aren’t big winter sports lovers, but I have to recommend coming here to ski at least once! In the summer we have gorgeous hikes and the most beautiful canyons for biking or exploring. If you come to Salt Lake City, you have to see Temple Square and check out the shopping. Don’t even get me started on the amazing food we have here. If anyone plans a trip to Salt Lake, I would love to give some restaurant suggestions!

Gertie the Good Goose

FAVE DEVELOPMENTAL TOYS

Luca LOVES his toys. He goes in phases where he has a certain thing he loves and then he moves on to a new thing. His play skills are still quite delayed for his age and he is very interested in cause and effect toys and anything that makes a sound. He also loves pinwheels and maracas. We love to buy wooden toys for him and love the brands Behind the Trees and Little Sapling Toys. I try to switch up the toys we bring to restaurants so he never gets bored.

FAMILY TIME

We are home bodies and we love to stay at home and do different things together. We do like going outside to the different parks around town and to the zoo. If we leave town, we usually head to Las Vegas, Nevada because it is about a seven hour drive from Salt Lake City. Las Vegas is our favourite getaway.

DREAM CITY

I think we could make ourselves at home just about anywhere! Sometimes I dream of moving somewhere there’s no winter season, like Arizona or Southern California. But I think for now we are very happy here in Salt Lake City! 

 

Editors' Note: Jessica is expecting baby #2 in November.

Spotlight: Suzanne Toth

Suzanne Toth

Suzanne is a girl's kind of girl -- fun and supportive, she's proud of her blended family, never met a dress she didn't like, and is on a mission to make the child birth experience for new parents as smooth as possible. Prior to her foray into childbirth education, Suzanne grew up in Brights Grove, Ontario and now calls London -- the Canadian city -- home. These days she's putting the final touches on her wedding and we're excited about the upcoming occasion! @suzannetoth

Photos: Anchor Studio

How do you think your friends would describe you?: My friends would likely describe me as being loving, passionate and reliable. Whether you are a family member or a long time friend, I always try to go out of my way for the ones that I love. I am passionate about life and all that it has to offer.

I am passionate about my career as a childbirth educator, giving back to the community, fitness and, of course, FOOD! When it comes to a dinner date with my future hubby, girls' night-out or simply an hour of gaming with my son, when I say I’m going to do something, I do it, no matter what, no excuses.

Where do you live? Have you always lived in this area?: I live in London, ON. I have been here for about 10 years now but I grew up in Brights Grove, ON. I miss being able to walk down to the beach, I miss the casual drop-ins from my friends and family but luckily we have made friends here and other family and friends are only an hour or two away which makes visiting easy!

What did you want to be when you grew up and how does that differ from what you do today?: I don’t think I had a clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up but my path always included teaching and children. Becoming a mother has been the biggest accomplishment of my life.

My son was born October 18th 2009 and that changed everything for me. My eyes were opened to how much I enjoyed pregnancy and motherhood and when Owen turned two years old I went back to school to become a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator.

What are the first names and ages of your children?: My son, Owen, is 6 years old and my daughter, Ella, is 6 months old.

Leggybuddy Prince Froggy and Nui Organics Sheepskin Rug

What have your children taught you about life?: When I was a teenager, I remember my mom sitting with me at the kitchen table and telling me about my birth story and how labor was so horrible for her.

She told my dad that if something were to go wrong and they had to make a choice to save her or the baby (me), to save the baby. I couldn’t understand her choice at the time. As soon as I became pregnant with my first child Owen, I understood. He taught me how to love someone more than myself.

When I was pregnant with Ella, I was expecting everything to go as smooth and as easily as it did with Owen. Instead, I was in and out of the hospital and on bed rest, it was really scary. In a blink of an eye Ella taught me what a gift pregnancy is. I remember the exact moment when Ella was born and placed into my arms… I cried so hard, I was so happy she had made it into the world. She was finally in my arms, she would be safe and she was healthy. She showed me a different side of pregnancy, which made me a better educator.

What are the things that you and your family enjoy doing together?: We enjoy backyard fires, beach days, visiting family and friends, movie nights at home, travelling, and seeing my children grow and change. Owen has started playing outdoor games like soccer and baseball and we also cheer him on as he takes swimming lessons. I love doing everything and anything with this bunch!

How do you find me time and what does “me time” consist of for you?: My “me time” usually consists of my mom taking the kids for the day so that I can clean! LOL! Kind of sad but a clean house makes me a happier momma. I also take time to meet up with friends for a glass of wine or dine out at one of my favourite restaurants.

How did your parents raise you? Did you come from a strict household? Or were things relaxed?: I think it was somewhere in between. My parents were stricter with me than my brother but I think that happens with girls in the family. My mother always pushed me to do my best in school and has always supported me in everything that I’ve done.

My mom taught me how to be a lady, how to dress, how to present myself, and how to have respect for others and myself. My dad was not your average father—one minute he would be driving me to my baseball game and the other, blow-drying my hair before bed.

My dad taught me how to cook, how to entertain, he showed me that family always comes first. They both taught me great values and I owe a lot to them for making me the person I am today.

How are you and your partner raising your kids?: Our kids are young and we are still learning as parents. We do the best that we can, we love them, we want what is best for them and we are kind of figuring it out as we go. My hope is that, with guidance, Owen and Ella will make the right decisions. I know that sometimes their decisions may not be the decision I would like them to make but as long as they both know they can come to their parents to help them, I will be happy.

Are you excited about your upcoming wedding? How are you incorporating your children into the event?: Excited would be an understatement, I get to marry the man of my dreams with our children by our side. What could be more perfect than that? in my dream world, Owen will pull Ella down the isle in a wagon and they will both be happy and smiling at their adoring fans, LOL! I know I can count on Owen, but in reality I am asking a lot of our little girl who will only be eight months at the time of our wedding. We will see how this all plays out!

What does a usual day look like?: The mornings are pretty crazy. Rick gets up for work and I’m getting the kids fed then Owen off to school. The rest of the day is a juggle between playtime, errands and naps. In the evenings, Rick and I take turns making dinners and when the weather is nice, we like to go to the park. We are ready for you summer!

According to you, what are the secrets of a happy home?: Not every day is a great day — some days are going to be hard and you are going to have to put in some work. One thing I always say when asked this question is that you will have good days; you will have bad days, but always show your family just how much you love them.

We never go to bed angry over here either, if Owen has been a little naughty I will still tuck him in and cuddle and try to tickle him a little, make him smile and tell him how much I love him before I say goodnight. Even if he doesn’t want to, even if I don’t get much out of him, he hears me.

My fiancé is really good about this rule too, he will not let me go to bed until we have talked, kissed and made up. Even if I do not want to, and he doesn’t get much out of me, I hear him. Tomorrow will come and it will be a new day.