Mama Music. Review & Giveaway: 'The Full Catastrophe'

We have a WINNER!

 

Zita on May 9, 2012 at 4:43 PM

There is nothing in the world that moves me quite so powerfully as music. I have genres to fit all my moods and get very antsy in ‘silence’. Lately, I’ve been very into lyrics as well- I appreciate a lot of the poetry that’s emerging in new indie music. :) Great review, N!

Congratulations Zita! An email will be sent to you shortly.

Thank you to everyone for entering!

**********

 

I have a 3.5-year-old and a 5 year old. I know all the words to the Hello song, the Goodbye song, the Clean-up song, the Ridin' in the Car song, the Playin' in the Kitchen song, the Sleepyhead song and countless more.

The 6 CD-changer in my car has been overtaken by all of the kid's music class CDs, not to mention what is on my iPod, and I am told within 30 seconds of getting into the vehicle which selection they want that day.

This is really not a bad thing. My kids have an appreciation for music and we try to expose them to lots of different genres. They love to sing and make up songs of their own, although I am pretty sure that my poor girl has inherited my lack of anything remotely resembling singing on key and Little C is really so much more of a dancer than a singer. They love 'their' music and I like to keep car rides stress-free and happy!

The one downside to all of this is that I rarely get to listen to music that I want to in the car and often after I drop them off at playschool, there I am a half an hour later humming along to Trot Ol' Joe once again.

Oh how far I have strayed...

I used to be a music junkie! Live bands, concerts, the beer soaked dance floor at the Sidetrack Cafe (man, I miss that place!), Lilith Fair, Edge Fest (is that still around?) and of course the creme de la creme in my town, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

You see, I LOVE music. All kinds of music. Some people love to dance, some love to sing, and then there is MOI. I can do neither of these things very well (I used to be able to dance, but then along came my friend JRA), and so I listen. I listen with all of my heart and soul and body. I feel music, I appreciate the artistry that exists in it and in true musicians and music moves me to my core.

So when someone (and by someone, I mean someone really, really cool) emails me one day and asks me if I want to review an advance copy of a CD for a great band they are working with, I immediately say YES!

Because this Mama needs some grown-up music in her life!

And then I listen to said CD and am kind of blown away. Because it is like this amazing band has reached inside this Natural Urban Mama's  head and they are SINGING my thoughts!

So without further ado...

I give you.

Nerissa and Katryna Nields.

Photo Credit: Kristin McCue

 

This sister indie-folk rock duo have been at this music gig for the past 20 years. They have recorded 15 albums, written three books, have a thriving children's music education empire and their own DVD. And they balance all of this precariously while being wives and mothers themselves.

Their sixteenth album is called 'The Full Catastrophe' and it is a testament to every mother's daily joys and struggles. It is funny, poignant, catchy, ethereal and I am thoroughly enjoying it (In fact, I am listening to it right now!). In addition to the melody of a song, what I truly appreciate is the song-writing and lyrics. And the Nields sisters nail it on every song on the CD.

I have listened to the full CD over and over and every time I hear these lyrics from Track 11: 'More than Enough', I tear up. It is THAT good!

"Happily ever after, two kids crawling on the floor

All of our cups are overflowing

Somebody still wants to pour

I get that it’s not about comfort and ease

But uniting when the going gets rough

And to spread it around, to our world, to our town

That's how you get more than enough

I’ll always have more than enough

We’ll always have more than enough."

Like I said, these ladies have literally taken words and feelings about all kinds of aspects of my life as a wife and mother (and likely yours too) and put them brilliantly into song. You will get hooked and want to hear more, I guarantee it!

Here is what the sisters have to say about their newest work;

This CD is an offering to everyone who struggles to balance a home life—with or without kids or partner—with an artistic life, which is to say a work life, for all who labor honorably may choose to do so artistically. The older we get, the more precious both seem to us. Nerissa says, “I could certainly live without friends or family, but I am not sure I would want to. I could let my work go, say goodbye to the muse and my Les Paul, but that would be saying goodbye to joy. We might be happier simplifying our lives, but as Katryna said when we first began this project with the title track, happiness might be overrated. Our cups overfloweth. We choose those cups, and we surrender to the reality that this means many many spills need to be cleaned up.”

And so, in honour of Mother's day coming up and well, because it's nice to pass on great music and give another Mama some grown-up music of her own, I have ONE full copy of the Nields sisters new CD The Full Catastrophe available for a lucky Natural Urban Mamas reader!

All you have to do is comment on this post and tell me what kind of music moves you and why. 

And because it's the right thing to do...

Head on over and follow Nerissa and Katryna Nields on Twitter and Facebook too.

I leave you with this wonderful tribute to mothers that the sisters collaborated on for MotherWoman.org! Go get some tissues.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd0LsguSlyE[/youtube]

The Full Catastrophe is available now on iTunes and in stores near you!

The Fine Print:

  • Giveaway starts today, May 7th and ends on May 13th. 
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted by email.
  • I was given a free download of the Nields new CD, The Full Catastophe for review.
  • All opinions are my own and I don't lie. 
  • I also sneak into my kid's snack cupboard and eat Goldfish crackers by the handful!

Good luck Everyone!

Natasha~

 

 

 

 

 

My week with Gloria. AKA the 2012 Ford Focus.

A few weeks ago I got to hang out with a new friend for a week. It was a good week, we didn't go anywhere too fantastic, just toodled around town with each other, getting groceries, taking the kids to and from school and hitting up a yoga class or two. Gloria was a good companion to have around. She was smooth, easy-going, and handled herself very well everywhere I took her.

And to top it all off, she has one heck of a snappy style to her.

Check her out!

Yes, Gloria is a car.

She is in fact the 2012 Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback.

When I was first asked if I wanted to drive the Focus, I thought now why would I want to drive such a small car. I have 2 kids. We need WAY more room than that. But then I started to think about it, had a look at some of the specs and features that the Focus has to offer and changed my mind.

I am after all the Natural Urban Mama and I live my life trying to find ways to lower my carbon footprint on our beautiful Mother Earth. What better way than to see how small and fuel-efficient a family of four can go when it comes to a vehicle.

Enter Gloria.

Now in case you are wondering about the naming... well, I name my cars. All of them. Don't you?

In my life I have driven not one, not two, but three Ford vehicles. Blackie, the Ford Taurus that saved my life in a highway roll over in November of 2000, Belle, the Ford Windstar van that moved us into our first house and Blaze, the Ford Escape that brought home my firstborn child from the hospital. Needless to say, Ford has had my back a few times in my life and of all the car companies out there, I have much respect that they weathered the recession far better than the others.

This was not my first time in the new Ford Focus. Back in October of 2011 I attended the Blissdom Canada conference in Toronto, and Ford was one of the main sponsors. While there I was able to check out quite a few of the new technologies and innovations that Ford is incorporating into their line-up of vehicles and I was duly impressed.

Having the opportunity to get to see these technologies and designs up close and personal is definitely a treat and that is kind of how I would describe driving the Ford Focus.

I picked up Gloria at the end of the coldest week of winter. The first thing that hit me was her styling and interior look (and hence her name as I was reminded of the girl penguin from Happy Feet). You can't help but feel like you are stepping in to a sexy little speedster! The contrast stitching and sleek design really do up the cool mom factor don't you think?

The second thing I noticed, that day especially, was the 5-position heated seat! My whole backside was toasty warm within minutes of being in the car. Trust me this is something that comes in very handy on days when it is -32 degrees Celsius outside.

Further notes on the interior of the Focus. Like all new Ford vehicles, the Focus keeps everything you need quite simple and right in front of you. It features the SYNC with MyFordTouch system and voice activated control of the climate controls, audio system and hands-free calling paired with your blue tooth smart phone. While I do like that the SYNC system recognizes my iPhone and uploads my contact list directly, I found it a little fumbly when trying to call someone. There seemed to be a lot of questions that I had to answer before getting to the actual call. I found that I ended up using the touch screen more often to quickly get to the number or contact that I wanted to call. But of course, never when I was actually driving!

For me, the true parental test of Gloria's interior, was the car-seat one. We were unable to fit our Radian XT car seats into the Focus in the rear-facing position and still be able to have people sit comfortably in the front seats. Technically the Focus is outfitted for three car seats in the back seat, but realistically it would be a stretch to do so. Two car seats forward facing with the middle seat-back folded down to reveal the two cup-holders made my two little backseat drivers very happy (it's the simple things people). And I have to say that driving a car, versus a minivan or an SUV, is kind of nice in that they kids are able to easily get in and out of the car all by themselves. You may think this is no big deal, until you are wrangling a toddler and a preschooler in the parking lot at the mall and you have your hands full of bags too. Some independence on their part is a good thing and Gloria provided them with this beautifully!

And while we are talking about shopping, I am sure you are wondering how Gloria stacks up in regards to cargo space. I did do one big grocery shopping trip during our week together and managed to get all the bags packed into the hatch quite nicely. I did not take her to Costco though and I am not sure I could manage to get all of the big items packed into the car, especially if I had the kids with me. This is the reality of a small car and really not that big of one when you really think about it. Just think of the money you'll save because you can't get your multi pack of two-bite brownies and 74 rolls of toilet paper in the car!

In terms of performance and fuel economy, I am not sure there is much out there at this point that competes with the Ford Focus. With a 7.8 L/100km city and 5.5 L/100 km highway fuel economy rating, the Focus can get up to 977 on one tank of gas on the highway! I had Gloria for 6 days, drove her all over the city, used just over half a tank of gas and got 325 kilometers out of her. I was duly impressed.

All her good looks aside, Gloria drives quite nicely too. Natural Urban Dad drives a small car and I like driving it because if feels all zippy and fun. Gloria was a different story. Still a lot of fun, but with way more substance to her! For this minivan driving Mama, driving Gloria felt like I was getting a teeny tiny taste of rally racing. She handled the icy, snowy streets of Edmonton with ease (and thanks to the winter tires that Ford outfitted her with), and I never felt like she was going to lose it on any surface. And the one time I did really push her to show me what she's got, Gloria did not disappoint. She revved her engine, shifted smoothly and gave me one sweet ride!

Ford has incorporated a whole lot of fancy schmancy new technology in the Focus, a lot of which you just don't see in the entry-level car market. Things like electronic power assist steering (EPAS), that helps reduce vehicle pulling/drifting and torque vectoring control, which essentially means "providing stabilizing braking force to an individual drive wheel in a similar way that a skier or board-rider would shift weight to carving edge when turning...". The Focus comes with Ford's coolest new feature, the Active Park Assist. This is an option on most models, but one I highly recommend. It's a bit odd the first time you try it, but time after time, Gloria parallel parked herself perfectly!

Gloria has one final bit of technology that I think is a parent's dream. It is the MyKey feature. This is standard on all Ford vehicles now and allows for parents to set speed and audio limits in the car. I know, I know, this sounds like a HUGE buzz kill for most 17 year olds out there, but as a parent of not one but two future 17 year olds who will want to borrow the car, I am ALL for this feature. With a MyKey programmed key fob, the vehicle's audio system will be muted until seat-belts are fastened, it provides an earlier low-fuel warning and you can also set the upper volume of the audio system. All of it combines to provide a safer driving experience for new drivers and also enhances fuel economy as well.

All in all, my week with the Ford Focus was really quite nice. It lived up to my expectations of what a small car can do and then some. The Focus pricing is very reasonable, starting at $15, 999.00 for the base S model and tops out at just over $30,000.00 for one just like Gloria (Titanium Hatchback with ALL available options).

As for my opinion of it as a family car... If you have one child it is perfect and you really don't need anything bigger. You can easily fit a stroller in the hatch and have plenty of room for 2 other passengers. If you have two children you can still get away with it, but you will be sacrificing room for that fifth passenger. That being said, Natural Urban Dad really liked Gloria as well, and I think if we were in the market for a vehicle to replace his current one, the Ford Focus would be at the top of the list.

Ford as a company continues to impress me on many levels, from their innovative design, commitment to improving fuel economy in all their lines and their use of sustainable materials in their production as well. And in the Spring of 2012 they will start selling the Focus Electric... Seriously folks, it's things like this that get this Natural Urban Mama pretty darn excited and I can't wait to give that one a spin!!

Happy Driving,

Natasha~

**Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Ford.**

Get that baby ONYA already!!

It is not too often that a BRAND NEW never been made before soft-structured baby carrier comes on the market. No 'fourth generation', no 'II', no 'now with designer fabrics'. I mean brand spanking new! And not only NEW, but GOOD. Like really really good!

That is what happened in September of 2011 at the ABC Kids Expo in Kentucky, with the official launch and release to market of the Onya Baby Carrier.

And babywearers everywhere were itching to get their hands on one to try it out and see for themselves what all the hype was about and what this new carrier had to offer.

I was no exception!

I "met" Diana Coote, the creator of the Onya Baby on Twitter and we started having great babywearing conversations. I immediately loved all the great things she was posting about babywearing and living an active lifestyle with baby!

So, when the carriers finally hit the market after four years of research and development (this fact alone is reason enough to give this carrier and the company BIG props), I asked her if I could have one to review.

She gladly obliged and sent me the 'Cruiser' in Leaf Green/Raw Umber.

Image Courtesy of Onyababy.

The first thing that hits you when you take your new Onya Baby out of the box is how incredibly well made it is. Your eye is immediately drawn to the padded and contoured waist strap and leg padding for your little one and you just know it is going to be a very comfortable fit even before you put it on. With little details like covering the waist buckle and putting it over on one side versus in the middle and the super cute Mama and Baby Koala logo on the carrier, the esthetics of this carrier are also very appealing.

And then you put it on and get your baby up on your tummy or your back and you are completely blown away!

This is one comfortable baby carrier.

And not only that, as a baby carrier educator I look for certain things in all carriers that I review and the ONYA Baby  hits all the major points that I am most concerned with.

  • Proper positioning of baby in an upright and tummy-to-tummy (or back carrying) position. CHECK.
  • The fabric of the carrier extending from knee to knee and baby sitting in a good flexed and abducted ("M") position. CHECK.
  • Good support and just the right amount of padding for the wearer's waist and shoulders, with the option to cross the straps diagonally across your back when front wearing. CHECK.
  • The body of the carrier high enough to fully support baby up to the neck/bottom of ear lobes, with an optional sleep hood. CHECK

But wait....

There is more!

Not only is the ONYA Baby a really great and comfortable baby carrier, it also has this ingenious little zippered pocket at the front that once opened reveals the full versatility of this product.

It is a CHAIR for your baby too!

Say WHAT??

Now I know some of you may have done something like this before with your wrap or mei tai carrier. Strapped your carrier to a chair and then fashioned some kind of contraption to safely tie your baby into it, not unlike those very expensive separate chair harnesses one can purchase.

Well, this is exactly what the ONYA Baby does. Strap your ONYA to a chair, unzip that little hidden front pocket and voila! Instant and SAFE seat harness for your little one.

Think about it mamas. You go for a nice walk with baby to your local coffee shop and decide to sit down and enjoy a latte and get a little snack for the two of you. But there are no high chairs. So you take baby out of your carrier and try to drink a hot beverage with them squirming on your lap or have baby eat something without making it look like a 'Category 4' hurricane of cookie crumbs and squished grapes has passed through the place. The whole situation can kind of take the joy out of the whole 'babywearing walk and chillin' with your little one' idea that you had in the first place.

NOT ANYMORE!

With the ONYA baby, you and baby can have your own chairs and you can enjoy your nice chai latte without risk of scalding the top of your child's head and baby can squish as many grapes as he or she wants in the comfort and safety of her own chair on the opposite side of the table!!

The chair option on the ONYA is ideal for the baby who has perfect head control, but can't quite sit on their own in a chair.

I did not have a four to six month old baby on hand, so asked my three-year old to give it a go!

I can see how the ONYA would be very handy to have and be able to 'put' baby somewhere when you are out and need to have your lap to yourself. The only issue I can see with it,  is that it is not a 'booster' seat and unless the tables are relatively short, baby would still be quite low and may not be able to reach any food or toys ON the table.

The Onya Baby is a very welcome addition to the soft-structured baby carrier world and I am thrilled to give it a very enthusiastic two thumbs up!! It is a great carrier to transition to when your baby is about 3-4 months (~15 lbs) and it has been tested up to 45 pounds!! I wore my 36 pound three-year old in if very comfortably and wouldn't hesitate to put my 5-year-old in it for a piggy back ride as well.

Diana from Onya Baby posted a great comparison chart of the different Soft-Structured Carriers on her blog this past week and has given me permission to repost it here for you to see how the ONYA stacks up to the other SSCs on the market. You can also go HERE to read her original post and see the rest of the chart.

 

The Onya Baby Carrier retails for  ~ $149.00 and is available at these fine retailers.

Happy Babywearing Everyone!

Natasha~