After a few weeks of sickness and trying to get back into the swing of things, we’ve been slowly trying to reconnect with people. I mentioned this last week. I don’t really know whats going on with me, but I feel such a disconnect from everything and everyone. It’s been a real work in progress. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been really investing in my garden, trying hard to put down roots, and using my vegetables to channel that desire.
135/365 – Observing The Wild
It’s actually not as wild as it looks. The weather has been atrocious of late, so we went with some friends to an indoor play area. Towards the end of our time, the sun came out, so we went to the ‘farm’ section. The children enjoyed looking at all the farm animals, and we loved just watching them discover and explore, and how engaged they get with nature. It’s wonderful.
136/365 – Love That Face
I can’t even remember what we were doing here – dancing maybe – but do I love that face? You bet I do. I think she needs another haircut though!
About 9 or so years again, Martin and I house shared with a few other people. One of our house mates, N was dating E at the time, and they got married today. We thought we’d go, attend the ceremony, stick around to for niceties and then head off, because, well, weddings aren’t particularly child friendly, most of the time, especially if the couple don’t have any children of their own yet. We did not expect to have a fantastic day, and drag our children off the dance floor at almost 10pm! Even Aviya was in there dancing like a mad woman. The children were so incredibly welcomed, from giant garden toys to activity packs at the tables, that we were comfortable and had an amazing time.
I also want to throw in a little plug here for the TrayKit. We had a two hour drive to the the wedding venue and we were able to strap the TrayKit onto the back of the driver’s seat, and fill it with crayons, sticker books, activity books, and a few toys. It’s a really handy little backpack that straps to the seat in front, or a tray table on a plane or train. The sides around the fold out tray also fold up or down, to prevent pens or toys falling on the floor all the time – assuming your child isn’t trying to get them to fall on the ground. At our destination, I just zipped it up and took it in with us, so we had some books and activities for during the ceremony, and Ameli was able to carry it on her own, so I didn’t have to look like a pack horse – well, anymore than handbag, nappy bag and camera bag required!
138/365 – Chocolate Chip Cookies
After the incredible day that was yesterday, we had an ‘at home’ day, where the most taxing thing we did was making and eating chocolate chip cookies. Annoyingly, I make things, decide what needs to be tweaked, make them again, and eventually get them right: and then forget to write down the recipe. I intend to, but run out of time and end up forgetting. They’re supposed to go on Keeper of the Kitchen, but alas. I’ll just have to make them again.
139/365 – Duplo Day
We had a fantastic day at the opening of Legoland Windsor’s Duplo Valley. You can read all about it here. If you’re in the area, or have ever considered a day trip for the family, do it. Ameli goes often – probably every two weeks, on average – and we love it there!
140/365 – Planting Potatoes
I went to visit my friend Em and saw her ‘Grow Your Own’ potato box lying forlornly on the table. We turned it into a fun activity with the little people. It’s always good to spend time with her and her family. Our children are about the same age and they get along like, well… children of their ages!
Thanks for joining us for our week in pictures!
We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!
Some time ago I wrote about my desires for the year ahead. I said I wanted peace, and mindfulness and to be present in my days. I’m struggling with that. I’m working hard on it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m struggling. Mindfulness is hard work.
Day 129/365 – Yum
There hasn’t been a lot going on the last two days, but I’ve been doing some baking and making some healthy versions of favourite recipes. I’ve also been trying to convert recipes to Thermomix recipes. I’ve been having so much fun, I’m actually doing so much baking and cooking I don’t have time to blog it all, but I’m trying! (Check out a Keeper of the Kitchen, please!)
Day 130/365 – Mama Time
I love Starbucks. Man, their coffee is good. I really enjoyed my Friday mornings at Starbucks, but now Aviya walks around it’s… less than relaxing! Someday soon again – then I’ll miss the toddler days of go,go,go!
Day 131/365 – Sitz Bath Herbs
I work most evenings. In fact, I go from mama to work to bed and I don’t get much sleep. A local mama is due to have her baby soon, so I spent this particular evening making her Sitz Bath Herbs. I really enjoyed just having an evening ‘off’, even though I did end up blogging it 😉
132/365 – An Odd Choice
An odd choice of snuggle toy! But she takes it to bed and I have to prise it out her fingers. It’s kind of cute. Like she is.
133/365 – Day Out
Since going to and returning from Australia, things have chnaged in my friendship groups. It’s a bit sad. Actually a lot sad, but a lot of things have changed. On the up side, I’ve become a lot closer to people who were on the fringes of the group I was in previously. I’m really enjoying my deeper friendships, and enjoying getting to know them better with trips out and about.
134/365 – Night Out
One of the benefits of the new friendships? A weekly girls night out. It’s just a cup of coffee with the ladies, but it’s excellent. We actually get to finish conversations without interruptions I’d forgotten what that was like!
I’ve been toying with putting Ameli in dance classes for a while now. She’s always asking for it, and she loved dancing around the living room. I did ballet for a while myself, as a child, and I think it’s a great form of exercise, perfect for little girls (and boys). A few days ago Amanda from Show & Stay offered to write a post for me on the benefits of ballet for children, and it seemed like great timing, so here, for both our benefits, are some of the benefits of dance for kidlets:
Children can benefit from ballet lessons in many different ways, and it goes much further than just improving their physical health. Learning ballet serves as a very good foundation for other styles of dance that they may wish to focus on later, and it improves their understanding of music. Ballet is a great starting point if your child strives to be the next Billy Elliot.
Many pupils will be nervous ahead of their first lesson, but this is completely normal. Pushing them a little out of their comfort zone is one thing that ballet is great for, and it will ultimately improve their confidence as they realize that they can cope with difficult situations. Younger children may also find it initially tough to listen carefully and follow all of the instructions, but it won’t take long for them to get used to it, and having to pay such close attention will further their brain development massively.
Physical Benefits of Ballet
Ballet can teach even the clumsiest and ungainly child balance, coordination, agility and flexibility. Achieving ballet positions takes concentration and perseverance, and also provides an excellent workout for the whole body. It works most muscles and also helps heart health, increases endurance and overall stamina. Ballet will push the body to its limits and this will increase a child’s all-over physical fitness, and with it, their mental wellbeing. Dancers are often in better shape than sports stars.
Other Benefits of Ballet
One of the key attributes of ballet is strength in posture. Have you ever noticed how women who do ballet are always the most elegant? Kids with a better posture will have reduced risk of injury and backache in later life because they know how to sit and stand correctly. Good posture also enhances attention span*, so a ballet pupil is more likely not to be the pupil squirming in his/her school chair or slouching over his/her desk.
Parents who haven’t considered ballet as an excellent activity for their children because they think there are other sports that will accomplish the same and/or more, might like to consider the other benefits ballet affords.
It doesn’t have to be a team sport to deliver team sport benefits. When pupils go beyond the basics and begin to learn lifts and hold positions, ballet is teaching them trust and teamwork. It teaches them how to work together to achieve a goal and in a performance situation, shows them the importance of timing, communication and individual contribution in a team effort. This will increase confidence and promote ease in social situations and in later life, their work and career.
Having a fit and healthy body also means ballet pupils are likely to have a positive body image, which is especially important at a time where young people are under a lot of pressure from the media and society to have the ‘perfect’ body. Ballet will teach both boys and girls that strength and fitness are what to strive for, not thinness.
Children are more likely to take their ballet lessons seriously if they are inspired by the professionals. Take them to ballet recitals, West End shows and a range of performances as often as possible, so they know what they could achieve if they work at it. You should also choose a ballet school that has regular (at least yearly) recitals, so your children can perform for friends and family, giving them a confidence boost and allowing them to feel the thrill of performing for an audience.
There are so many benefits of ballet that it’s definitely worth your children trying, especially if they’ve always wanted a go. Just remember that boys can do it too, and that all children regardless of gender, race, age, ability or even special needs will enjoy the benefits of ballet.
Well, I’m about convinced. Are you?
* according to this rather interesting study
I don’t know what’s hit our home, but we’ve become the house of the diseased, quite frankly! It’s been a nightmare, with us all passing runny noses, coughing, physical aches and pains and general death-warmed-up around between us. It started with Aviya, who was fine and playing all Thursday morning, and by Thursday afternoon had a fever and wouldn’t move off of me. By Friday we were all man down. What fun. We did manage to keep to some of our commitments though, fortunately.
Day 121/365 – Foraging
It’s amazing really. Teach a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it? Pretty true. I’ve taken Aviya foraging a hand full of times, and now she can’t see a dandelion without picking it and bringing it to me for lunch! We make dandelion fritters regularly enough, but the season -around here at least – hasn’t produced enough for jam or pesto which is rather sad!
Day 122/365 – Who Am I?
After a fantastic morning of playing outside, Aviya suddenly developed a mean cough and temperature. It was so quick! But never so sick that there’s no time for fancy dress – she’s either a jazz singer, or a (pink) firefighter! I think she’s awesome, and changing and growing so much.
Day 123/365 – Sickness Befalls Us
Oh dear! things have gone downhill around here. Look at that little poorly face.
Day 124/365 – Long Weekend Of Blergh
I know she doesn’t look sick here, but heavens above, how much gunk can come out of a nose that cute? The last bank holiday was Easter and we spent that sick too. Long weekend of blergh!
Day 125/365 – Nana Checks In
I’m so grateful for the technology we have available to us. Here’s Nana doing a tele-diagnosis on Aviya to make sure she doesn’t have anything serious.
Day 126/365 – Land of Kids
I dragged my sick family out to London for the day. It was good, but set our getting better back by at least a week! Land of Kids was good though. We enjoyed it!
Day 127/365 – Little Girl
I’m always so surprised by how she’s grown. I see her every day, yet, some days it just jumps out at me, like I’m seeing her for the first time.
When people say ’emergency planning’ we all tend to think about natural disasters and catastrophes but there are more emergencies in life than those. Not to downplay the effects of an earthquake, flood or tsunami, which affect the lives of the many, but sometime emergencies are small, affecting only a few, but those are no less debilitating or stressful to the few. In fact, in a huge tragedy, there’s often more help available, because there’s more attention drawn to it, but in a small tragedy, people are often alone, frightened and helpless.
Welcome to the May 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Emergency Preparedness
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their plans to keep their families safe. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
What are these ‘small’ tragedies?
How about the sudden and unexpected death of a spouse? The main breadwinner? A loved one? Or the unexpected loss of a job? Or a house fire? Or a malicious burglary? (i.e. where they don’t just take the TV and computer, but destroy all important documents and so on?) These are smaller scale emergencies, but huge to affected none the less.
My mother was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness – as it happens she’s defied all medicine and doctors are confounded as to why she’s still alive, but at the time of diagnosis when they gave her four weeks to four months, we didn’t know that was going to happen.
I’ve learned a fair bit from this experience.
For one thing, my mother was the higher wage earner at the time she was diagnosed. She suddenly had to stop working, and if her life insurance hadn’t covered the cost of their house, they would have stood a very good chance of losing it to medical bills. Having the correct insurance in place saved huge amounts of stress, and potential financial ruin. She’s not rich for having her life insurance paid out, but it’s given them private treatment options which is probably why she’s still alive.
Having a savings account with a few months worth of salary in it is essential. Don’t get excited though – I have a few months salary worth of debt, rather than savings, but I’m working on it. I went to Australia to be with my mother for six months, and wasn’t allowed to work. Savings would have helped us all out. Dave Ramsey recommends starting with a three month buffer, and working towards six months.
Have backups of important documents. Seriously. We have traveled a lot and one of the best tips I ever received was to scan and email all your important documents to yourself – at an easy to retrieve address, like Gmail. It’s no good if you can only access it from the home computer that was just stolen! Scan your passports, visas, bank card numbers (but don’t put passwords and pin codes with it!), insurance information, birth certificate and all that information and email it to yourself. Our children’s godparents have copies of their passports, birth certificates and ours in case they ever need it for information pertaining to legal guardianship.
One of the hardest topics of conversation in mothers groups comes from the question: where do your children go if something happens to you. I’ve rarely met a parent who emphatically knows without doubt or concern who their children will go to if they died. It’s a horrible conversation. It’s also a really important one and a will is necessary to make sure that your wishes have a voice. I’ve had to think long and hard on this, and for me the decision is partially to do with which country I’d prefer my children raised in, since our family is split over three continents.
Also, in cases where one person is the primary financial managers for the family, it’s valuable to have an ‘in case of… ‘ file or folder somewhere – again, not locked behind a passworded computer! – that a spouse/partner can find important information, like life insurance policies, medical aid information and other important information at the drop of a hat. As I say that, I realise that I don’t even know some of the companies my self-employed husband works for. He is also password king, so I’d never crack his codes, and he would literally just drop off the grid! (Which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t matter, but it’s still polite to let people know the work they’re expecting isn’t coming!)
And finally, and I feel so strongly about this one, is contracts and agreements. No one gets married to get divorced. No one falls in love to simmer in hate, no one falls pregnant to be bound by a lousy partner. No one goes into a relationship, baring your vulnerabilities, weaknesses and heart to another person, expecting them to use those very things against you.
Unfortunately, just in this year, I have seen three cases where this has happened and one parent has used choices made with regards to child raising against the other person in custody cases. Especially in the case of mothers, but not exclusively, I might add, we tend to make most of the day to day choices for our children. Of course we take our partners views into consideration, but often it is the mother that drives how things happen. I have seen court cases and custody battles involve breastfeeding, or a couples decision not to vaccinate being used against the mother, or a desire to homeschool manipulated by lawyers into something it was never meant to be.
My husband and I have agreed, in writing, the decisions that we have made with regards to our children. We don’t plan to divorce, but should that ever happen, neither of us will be in a position to use our choices now against each other, even if we wanted to, because we’ve agreed it.
(It goes something like ‘I… and I… have jointly agreed to babywear, co-sleep, practice baby led weaning, etc etc [all stipulated] and jointly commit to raising our children present and future this way based on our individual and joint research into the varying styles and options available to us. We both feel that these choices meet the needs of all members of our family, as pertains to parenting and child rearing.)
We hope to never need to use this document, but I certainly never want to be fighting for custody of my children because of something we agreed on together – like co-sleeping. And sadly, as deeply as we love, so deeply we can hate, and the future is unknown.
So, despite this grim and downer post, remember that every moment is precious, and that life is in fact, very, very short.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon May 14 with all the carnival links.)
I’m so glad I decided to plant the sunflower seeds the same day as the tomato plants, because for days and days nothing happened. We opened the growing thingy each day to find nothing, except one random weed that popped it’s head out. I was beginning to think the Heinz Grow Your Own tomato plants were a fail. I did find another bag of seeds though, so thought I’d try again.
The sun flower seeds sprouted and one of the two of them shot right up. It’s pretty cool though. The other may or may not have had a fight with a pigeon. I’ve stuck it back in the ground, but I’m not sure it’s grown at all since then. At least it hasn’t died. That’s progress, right?
It’s been a bit of a rubbish week, weather wise, so I haven’t really been out in the garden much, and left my ‘failed’ tomatoes where they were, and I’m glad I did. When I got back to them, there were four little plants smiling up at me. I’m not sure if Ameli was more excited, or me!
We’ve replanted the sunflower plants, and will be replanting the little tomatoes soon. In the meantime we’ve also planted some potatoes from the Grow Your Own potatoes scheme that was advertised earlier in the year – did you know there’s a potato council? It’s a little like the Ministry of Magic, eh? – but I took more than a month to open the box, by which time all the eyes had sprouted and now I’m not sure if they’re actually going to grow or not. We’ll see, I guess. I’m still really hopeful for something more than herbs from our garden this year!
Anyway, I have yet to plant the next bag of tomato seeds. They’re a different variety, so hopefully between the two we’ll have a good harvest, and once again I’m really hoping I didn’t leave it too late!
It’s Festival of Food time, and I’ve decided to share our Frozen Yoghurt recipe with you over on my new Keeper of the Kitchen blog.
As part of the carnival, my co-host Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares Coconut Milk Popsicles, a super easy creation that is customizable. Seems Jennifer and I have similar ideas on yummy healthy summer snacks for our little people!
Lindy over at the Poppy Soap Company shares some super tasty, super easy Granola Delight Bars inspired by her sweet son. Don’t these just look perfect for lunch boxes and lazy afternoons spent picnicking?
Mercedes at Project Procrastinot shares a comfort-food recipe sure to be a future family favorite. Don’t miss this Grown-Up Mac & Cheese for You and Baby to Love. I wonder if this could convert my I – don’t – like – cheese – sauces husband?
Do you want to join us next month, when we’ll be talking Summer Smoothies and Mocktails. If so, follow our Facebook page to find out when the call goes out!
I am so grateful to have you as my second child. If you had been my first, Ameli would have been a huge shock to my system.
In contrast you don’t wake up every hour and your day doesn’t start between 4 and 7. You happily sleep till 8 every morning.
I may never have lain watching you in the moonlight, but I make up for it in the morning, you wonderous, marvelous, smiling beauty.
I am so in love with you,
For the last two years, I have had the worst luck with my garden. What pregnancy didn’t take out of me, sickness and a newborn did, and then, to top it off it rained so much last year that even my mint died. Do you have any idea how hard it is to kill mint? Well, it drowned. And got moldy.
Of course, this year, what with being in Australia and all, I came a bit late to the planting season, so I had to get a bit of help from the garden centre, but overall, it’s gone okay. This is the ‘before’ photo of the garden. To be honest it’s not all done yet, so there’s no after photo just yet, and the before photo was taken after mowing the lawn and hacking away the foliage, but oh well.
As well as planting an envelope of tomatoes from seed – thank you very much Heinz for sending us a gorgeous wheelbarrow and gardening equipment for Ameli, as well as a bag of seeds – we also planted some sun flowers as I figure they’ll grow quickly and maintain the girls’ interest. Interestingly, both of them really enjoyed digging about in the ground.
And including their little friends in the process.
As I said, since we’re quite late in the season already, we got some help from the local garden centre and bought a few ready to plant out courgettes, marrows, shallots, kale and a few different herbs.
Well… I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s been fun, but I really do hope we get to eat from our garden this year!
P.S. If we happen to get tomatoes off this plant, Heinz have promised us a hamper of goodies, so here’s hoping we get a double bonus for our efforts! I think Heinz are still giving out grow your own tomato kits, so head over to their Facebook page for some to grow yourself.