Google+ Authentic Parenting: December 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections on 2011: A Look Back On Some Favorite Posts.



As the year is coming to a close we thought we would take a look back at some of our favorite posts, some of the most popular posts of the year and tell you a bit of what’s in store for 2012!

We started the year off asking you to tell us all about any and all remarks you have heard when breastfeeding beyond a certain age. Thanks to our readers input Laura ended up with a list including some interesting remarks, ranging from silly, to stupid, to radically deranged.
You can see the full list here at Silly Remarks on Breastfeeding Older Children.
Another two popular posts on breastfeeding were the Tips for nursing in public and this silly account of my breastfeeding 10,000 times everywhere.

As Laura prepares for birth of her second child she has immersed herself in all sorts of natural preparations, one thing was the opportunity to get a Chinese post-partum cooking lesson and share about it here. A guest post by the Carolina Placenta Lady featured information on How to Grow an Eat Worthy Placenta. Thinking about natural birth reminded me about this post I wrote on Another Reason to Rethink Birth and the breast crawl.

Playing is probably one of my favorite parts of being a parent, the joy the laughter is all very contagious! Laura shared here her ideas for playing board games with toddlers and here I shared all about using relaxation and visualization techniques in a playful manner.

Laura has written many articles about Unschooling, and this year she wrote Unschooling: An Introduction to tackle the basic questions, like "What is Unschooling" or "How Do You Do It?"Another post answers why she has chosen unschooling for her family.

Laura also shared all about her family's way of life in Raising a Paleo Child. And speaking of nutrition, I shared the ways my family is trying to embrace the Joys of eating family meals, spilled juice and all.

There is so much parenting advice out there, so many opinions, theories etc... Here I shared a bit about the best and worst advice I've received in the Elevator this year. Laura shared her Top 10 Tips for grandparents. Also a very popular guest post gave fantastic advice on a tool you never thought you would use to tame your temper.

Speaking of advice, one of the hottest posts of the year was Laura's post on 10 things not to do to an upset child providing some great insights into how a parent can empathetically connect when a child needs them most.
Discipline is always ahot topic in the parenting sphere: what methods, what's effective... It is probably one of the most discussed topics on parenting sites, forums and blogs. Being very passionate about positive, playful and non punitive "discipline" methods I have shared quite a bit on that this year. The post on Four Alternatives to Punishment and Avoiding Conflict Through Playfullness were some popular posts on that topic.

For next year - Laura and I have teamed up to host a Carnival of Authentic Parenting with many fantastic topics like birthing, discovery, green living and authentic literacy. I will continue to contribute once weekly on Fridays and Sunday Surf is debuting a beautifully redesigned logo tomorrow.

A special thank you goes out to all of our amazing guest posters in 2011: Sima Chowdhury, Mike, Sandra Harris, Christina Gabbard aka Caroline Placenta Lady, Helen Lingard, Jeff Sabo, Lisa Meuser, Sally and Danielle from Eat, Breathe, Blog, Tracy Sitchen, Dr. Maria Droujkova, Melissa Kemendo from Vibrant Wanderings, Kristi Ren, Meredith Barth from The Positive Parenting Challenge, Carina Freeman from Hold Your Hand Fertility, Jessica from Mama à la Crunch, Jenny Binkowski, Murielle Bourbao, Angie Nixon, Jenny Chin from I'm a Full Time Mummy and Rachel Jonat from The Minimalist Mom.

If you like what you are reading, please tell your friends about us. We hope you will continue following us so if you haven't
already, please subscribe and join us over on facebook.
Thank you for your
continued support!


Peace and Be Well in 2012.


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Little Helpers

Written by Sima

This is the first post in my new holistic healing/natural health series, where we explore alternatives to mainstream healthcare and find new ways for you to care for yourself. If you would like to submit a post to this series, contact me (mamapoekie at yahoo dot com).

As adults we see babies coming into the world helpless and dependent on other people. Makes sense right? They pretty much eat, sleep and poop under the care of their family. We don’t always make the connection that while we nurture babies they nurture and take care of us in their own way. Under stressful circumstances we can understand how having someone else to care for would keep us from harming ourselves. One of my good friends speaks about her struggles, but thoughts of her son would always help her deal with them.

Outside of that most day to day interactions involve us telling a child what he should or shouldn’t do rather than taking the time to be sensitive to his emotional needs rather than just the physical. My nephew is a classical example of this. While he doesn’t like to eat he’s perfectly healthy, though his mom often tries to force feed him much to his dismay. I completely understand parents and grandparents do their best to raise a child in a comfortable, loving home, but at the same time coming down to a child’s level can yield a lot of insight for everyone.

Lately I’ve been working with families that have an ill child usually meaning he/she has had a serious procedure such as cancer treatment, vital organ damage or organ transplants. Understandably parents are under a lot of stress and often have to hire help to care for the siblings of the sick child or have an additional family come to help, so that they can concentrate on doing what they can for the child in the hospital. Siblings of a sick child have interesting stored feelings. In many cases they are concerned about their parents, especially if the parents aren’t eating or sleeping in front of them. Automatically, they will either worry about the parents or take on their parents’ stress as a way to protect them from harm.

Some children have a tough time letting go of these feelings, because they think if they don’t hold onto some of the stress it’ll go back to hurt their parents. One child kept repeating “Daddy’s scared”, but after working with her there was a noticeable difference in her behavior and speech the next day. For children in their teens or tweens it’s not surprising they could feel this way, but in the cases mentioned the children were under 5. I talk to their caregivers about being aware of the messages they are sending to the children. Sometimes the simple act of having dinner together or sharing a bedtime story will be enough to alleviate a child’s worry.

Older children often have a lot of responsibility especially if they are the oldest, because it naturally falls to them to look after their younger siblings. In many ways they are caught in between being an adult and a child. On one hand they have to be grown up to help their parents with domestic duties including childcare, but on the other hand they are still children needing attention. These two realities often come into conflict, which causes unspoken issues within the child including guilt or bitterness that can last into adulthood if they aren’t properly acknowledged. Parents automatically assume older children know how important they are, but by taking an extra few minutes to say, “Thank you for helping us take care of the family” dissolves the internal conflict. Now they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their contributions are valuable and that someone understands what they experience.

Working with the sick kids themselves is often insightful. When they have younger siblings they will often feel responsible for taking attention away from them. As expected they also are concerned about going back to school after a long absence and will miss the friends they have made while they were ill. One little guy had just turned two and had had several heart surgeries. The memories that he held onto were those of the doctors and nurses who first operated on him when he was months old. He was looking forward to playing with his older brother when he finally was able to go home. Curiously, none of the sick kids I worked with had any stored emotions about their parents.

How do I get all this information? As a Body Talk therapist, specializing in children, most of the work I do involves releasing stored emotions and memories from the bodies of children or adults. I do this by using a combination of touch and intuition. When I feel a certain part of the body I observe what emotions and memories are causing problems usually in the form of pain or stiffness. This is a great way to treat children because they often don’t have the vocabulary to express what’s bothering them. I prefer to have a parent or caregiver present, because she offers a lot of insight on the different feelings or events that surface.

Recently, I gave up my clinical practice in favor of volunteering once/month at the Ronald Mc Donald House in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to keep my skills up as I focused on other projects. I chose this particular charity, because my brother was ill when we were growing up. Everyone I treat from siblings, to parents, to the sick child represents someone from my past, whether it’s me, my parents or my siblings. Parents will often have a treatment first then plop their children on the table, which speaks volumes about their confidence in the therapy. For the children, they come back for second treatments and volunteer their friends.

From spending time with children I’ve learned so much from them that I can pass onto their care givers to make stressful situations a little bit easier for everyone. Parents enjoy the Body Talk treatments as well, though while many people end up teary they appreciate the fact someone understands what they feel without having to speak openly about it. The family becomes stronger as a unit and House benefits from having at least a few people more relaxed.

About the author:

Sima and Avi
Sima Chowdhury helps families manage stressful periods in life using a holistic modality called Body Talk. She regularly volunteers at Ronald Mc Donald House Children's charities treating staff, parents, siblings and sick children. Recently, she's been published in the Canadian anthology Inkspots. When she's not writing, she spends time with her nephew, Avi.


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Cow Review and Giveaway (01/19) WW

About Happy Cow

Happy Cow is an Australian brand offering a huge selection of sustainable leather goods, from purses to belts to Ipad sleeves. Sustainable leather? Yes indeed! Happy Cow gathers off cuts at furniture manufacturers that would be otherwise thrown away and makes lovely fashionable products out of them. 


Review
I received a leather hip bag in dark brown. The bag is unisex and has lots of different pouches to suite all your daily storage needs. Since we're frequent travelers, a bag like this is a life saver, it can carry all of our travel documents, money and cell phones, plus extra stuff you hull along, and all that neatly organized in the multitude of pockets the bag has, all the while keeping your hands free for handling the kids, passing customs etc. The leather is lovely and soft to the touch and the design goes well for both men and women (I offered it to my husband for christmas and he was delighted, this is his third one and it's really the best quality and the nicest one he ever had).
The bag has two pockets for phones, which is perfect for my husband, or for couples traveling together, and has three other zippered compartments. 


BUY IT:
The leather hip bag is 53,70 AUD



Giveaway

Happy Cow is offering a Hip Bag in your choice of color and size.

WIN IT:
Contest is open Worldwide.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Tell us what you would be using the hip bag for. You must enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter entry system for your entry to count, after leaving a comment on the blog post.

Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in your mandatory comment so we can verify entries.

BONUS ENTRIES:
See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered directly into Rafflecopter. Just click "Click for instructions" for guidance and then "I did this" — any comments or extra information such as URLs can be entered into the "Extra Info" box. Give it a try or visit the Rafflecopter tutorial, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Compliance vs. Cooperation: 5 Ways to Talk To Your Children That Will Get You Nowhere!

Compliance or cooperation, which do you want from your children?

Compliance is what happens when children do what you tell them to do. Perhaps right away or perhaps most commonly, there will first be a power struggle or the child will recall the fear of being punished or losing a privilege and then ultimately the child complies. Many parents want, demand and expect compliance because they are the parent or “things need to get done” or “time is of the essence” or safety is a concern. However, compliance often comes at the expense of self worth and it may also damage the loving connection which is the core of the parent child relationship.

Cooperation on the other hand, is when a child decides or chooses to do that which needs to be done. Without threats, bribes, fear or power struggles, cooperation moves everyone in the right direction. Perhaps the child will need to evaluate choices or ask for help but ultimately the child and parent work together towards a solution. Children thrive on cooperation – it is through cooperation that children develop self esteem, the sense of being capable and above all learn skills to navigate life. Cooperation also strenghtens the parent-child connection.

Here are 5 common ways parents talk when expecting compliance and 5 positive alternatives to foster cooperation:

1. Do it now or you will not: Compliance by threat.
Parent:"Go brush your teeth."
Child: "no"
Parent:"Go now!"
The child dawdles, looks around, keeps playing.
Parent:"Go brush your teeth or you will not get any bed time stories."
Child may or may not reluctantly and or fearfully brush teeth. In the long term bed time could become a time to be feared and full of struggles.

Try Instead: Cooperation through choices.
Parent:"Are you getting ready for bed? What do you want to do first, brush teeth or put on pajamas?"
Child:"Pajamas." Child goes to put on pajamas.
Parent: "I see you put on pajamas, what else do you need to do to get ready for bed and story time?"
Child: "I’m done."
Parent:"Are you sure? What about your teeth, are they all clean or feeling gritty?"
Child: "Oh, do I really have to brush tonight?"
Parent: "Brushing keeps your teeth healthy. What do you think you should do?"
Child: "Oh, Ok, I don’t want cavities." Child goes to brush teeth.
Why it works: Offering choices allows children to feel in control of their lives and their own bodies.

2.Come on already! Compliance by Insistence.
Parent:"Pick up your toys." Child does nothing.
Parent:"I said, pick up your toys." Child does nothing.
Parent:"Will you pick up your toys already? Come on, pick them up. Let's go, pick them up."
Annoyed, a child may start picking up toys, possibly deciding that picking up toys is the worst thing ever and over time creating a negative attitude towards helping others and caring for their own belongings.

Try instead: Cooperation through kindness.
Parent:"It’s clean up time, would you like some help picking up these toys?"
Child: "Yes! There are so many pieces."
Parent:"While I pick up some of these small pieces, how about you get the lid for the bucket?"
Child picks up the lid, and continues cleaning up.
Why it works: Child is not overwhelmed and yet feels capable and supported thus learning an important skill for life.

3. I said please: Compliance by pleading
Parent:"Can you please put on your jacket?"
Child:"I'm not cold."
Parent:"Please. Put it on."
Child:"I'm not cold"
Parent: "I said please. Put the jacket on now."
Child:"I'm really not cold."
Parent:"Please, just get it on, right now. Please, Ok? Please, I said please!"
Child reluctantly puts on jacket and possibly becomes irritated and fussy from the exchange and the heat. Child might also learn that pleading may be the way to get things.

Try instead: Cooperation by experiment
Parent: "Would you like to put on your jacket?"
Child:"I'm not cold."
Parent:"It’s quite chilly outside, do you want to step out the door and see how youfeel without a jacket?"
Child:steps outside for a few seconds, returns and chooses to wear the jacket. (Alternatively child chooses to bring along the jacket “just in case”)
Why it works: Being able to feel the cold makes the need for a jacket more concrete than having to imagine the temperature differences.

4. Because I said so: Compliance by Authority
Parent: "Eat up your vegetables and clean up that plate."
Child: "I’m already full, besides, why do I have to eat this yucky stuff?"
Parent: "Because I said so."
Child might eat the vegetables and might also end up eating too much and over time learn to ignore the natural “fullness” signal which can lead to obesity and develop a negative association with healthy foods and meal time.

Try Instead: Cooperation by thought
Parent:"How does your dinner taste?"
Child: "Good but I’m getting full."
Parent:"What part of your meal do you think you can finish?"
Child:"Dessert!"
Parent:"What do you think you can eat before dessert to keep healthy?"
Child:"I guess I could finish a few more of these peas and carrots."
Why it works: Child does not feel pressured to do any one thing but rather given the choice to think for herself and decide what she needs and respect her own body.

5. I’ll give you a prize! Compliance by Bribe
Parent: "Get in the car, we are leaving for errands."
Child: "I don’t want to."
Parent: "Come on, get in. I’ll buy you a present."
Child: "What kind of present?"
Parent: "That toy you wanted. Now get in."
Child will likely comply for the prize. Overtime this can not only get expensive, a child might expect some sort of reward each and every time he is asked to do something.

Try this instead: Cooperation through play
Parent: "I need to run some errands, let’s get in the car."
Child: "I don’t feel like it."
Parent: "You can be my co-pilot and we can call it it a space mission to the outerspacepostal place."
Child:"I want to be captain Ziggalort!"
Parent:"Captain Ziggalort, welcome aboard my space car."
Why itworks: Child feels involved and connected to parent, and the errands have nowbeen transformed into an adventure. It’s also an opportunity to be imaginativeand creative.

So with my three children, I have been really practicing fostering cooperation and I have to say it really works for us. Ofcourse I fail sometimes, my big pitfall are safety issues…What about you? Have you everstopped to wonder if the way you are talking to your child is inviting cooperation or demanding compliance?


Peace and Be Well,



Want to learn more about mindful guidance? Check out my top picks:


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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And The Winners Is...

The winner of the Crave Maternity Jumper Dress is Lushka! Congratulations Lushka!
Crave Maternity will be informed and your data have been transmitted.

 


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25 Simple Crafts and Activities to Do Together

We're always looking for great craft ideas, so I thought I'd compose a huge list of nice crafts to do with your small kiddos. They can be an inspiration for gifts or decorations. Have fun!

1. Shaving cream autumn leaves on Little Wonders' Days
`

2. Play Dough Monsters from The Imagination Tree

3. Mouldable Sand (The Imagination Tree)

4. Spinning art (The Imagination Tree)

5. Conker Spiderwebs (The Imagination Tree)

6. Paper Picture Frame (Martha Steward)

7. Toilet Roll Monsters (My Creative Family)

8. Marble Painting (Raising Leafs)

9. Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment (Hands on As We Grow)

10. Good Luck Stones (Red Ted Art)

11. Rainbow Pasta Necklaces (The Imagination Tree)

12. Egg Carton Bugs (Green Kid Crafts)


13. Window Art (Play at Home Mom)


14. Embroidery Solar System (Art For Little Hands)

15. Yarn Block printing (Modern Parents, Messy Kids)

16. Paper Towel Painting (Mama Pea Pod)

17. Changing flower colors (Science Sparks)

18. Negative Art (Dilly-Dali Art)
Let your kids go caveman with this beautiful art project

19. Toilet Roll Mummies (Dilly-Dali Art)
This is something I know my daughter will go wild about, as she's still very much in her Egypt phase

20. Aboriginal dot painting (Dilly-Dali Art)

21. Peacock Craft (I Heart Crafty Things)

22. Penguin Craft (I Heart Crafty Things)

23. Another beautiful melted crayon artwork (Thrifty With Triplets)

24. Pine cone creatures (Mummy, Mummy, Mum!)

25. Shape Fire Engine (I Can Teach My Child)




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Monday, December 26, 2011

Chinese Post-Partum Cooking

I had the amazing opportunity to get a Chinese post-partum cooking lesson from my chiropractor's wife. We started talking about Chinese post-partum customs when I went to get my sciatica treated and I told him that we had planned to encapsulate and maybe eat a part of the placenta. He then confided that his wife had eaten her placenta with the birth of their babies. I also asked, traditionally, what Chinese herbalism has to avoid afterpains, since I want to avoid conventional drugs for that purpose. He said that his wife never experienced pains and never took anything. That launched an email conversation that lasted several days, until he probably had enough of my questions and suggested I see the cooking in action.

We cooked two dishes together:

    • pork dumplings (the same recipe her mother had used for the placenta dumplings)
    • post-partum recovery chicken broth
DUMPLINGS:
Ingredients:
Image: Dinnercraft on Flickr
  • one cup of all purpose flour
  • water
  • pork mince (or placenta minced ;) )
  • chives, chopped thinly
  • teriyaki sauce
  • grated carrots
  • seasoning
Preparation:
Add water little by little to the flour until you have a firm dough ball that doesn't stick to your hands (if it sticks, add more flour). Let rest.

Mix the mince with the seasoning, the carrots, the chives, the teriyaki sauce.

Make a sausage from part of the dough and cut into half an inch circles. Push down and roll with a rolling pin into thin circles.
Put a small bit of mince in the middle of a dough circle, fold in half and push the sides shut until they seal, make sure they're well shut, or the filling will seep out.

Bring a large pot of water to boil (only fill one third of the pot), add the dumplings. When the water boils, add a drizzle of cold water until the boiling stops, repeat 4 to 5 times every time the water boils. By this time, the dumplings will have cooked (they turn yellow and slippery).
Serve with vinegar sauce, mixed with sesame oil and garlic (preferably fresh, but if you don't have any, you can put in dried garlic).

POST PARTUM CHICKEN BROTH

This broth is intended particularly for women, but can also be drunk when you're just feeling a bit out of it, or around your period.

Ingredients:
boxthorn fruit, FotoosvanRobin
Jujube, FotoosvanRobin
  • One whole organic, free range chicken
  • A tablespoon ful of Goji Berries (Wolfberrie or boxthorn fruit). Goji berries in chinese herbalism are a powerful tonic with lots of uses.
  • 4 to 5 jujube (red dates). Jujube are filled with vitamins and minerals, they improve stamina and strength, stimulate the immune system and are an excellent tonic.
  • Angelica root, half an inch. Angelica root is recommended for women in general, it tones and harmonizes the blood and it is good for abdominal pains.
  • Dried longan fruit (guiyuan) is rich in fiber and iron. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed to bring 'heat' to the body and have an effect on relaxation.
  • 2 to 3 inches of ginger, remove the skin and slice. Ginger contains a high amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and niacin. Ginger is considered beneficial for fever, headaches. It's also a stimulant for the immune system and it has anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Optional: Shi take mushrooms, sliced
With the qualities of the ingredients of this soup, it isn't hard to understand that Chinese women don't have afterpains.

Preparation:
Fill a large pot half full with water and bring to a boil. Cut up the chicken. Place the chicken parts in the water and boil for three minutes. This removes the grease and blood and makes sure you have no bad tastes and a beautiful clear broth. Take out the chicken bits and throw away the water.
My host had this wonderful cooking device with a ceramic cooking bowl, but if you don't have this a regular large cooking pot will do too. Put the pieces of chicken on the bottom of a cook pot and poor hot water over it to cover the chicken entirely. Rinse the herbs and add them to the pot. Add the mushrooms too, if you are using them. Leave this to simmer for at least 3 hours. Enjoy!



Read more:
Find out more about the use of Goji Berries in Chinese herbalism.
Read more about Jujube
Read about the use of Angelica Root in Chinese medicine.
Ginger as herbal medicine


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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Surf


Pregnancy and Birth
Parenting
  •  Positive Parenting writes a very loving post about her mother in law (seriously!) and discipline
  • A great post on size acceptance with tips on how to nurture this in our children on Baby Dust Diaries. I'm very glad Paige did her best of to find this post, which I had missed, sadly, when it first appeared. 
  • A wonderful guest post on Code Name: Mama about the strength of a mother
Body
Blogging

Visit the newest Sunday Surfers: Liberated FamilyMy Semi-Crunchy LifeAnktangleTmuffin and Love Notes Mama. If you want to find out who else is surfing, go to the Sunday Surf page.
If you've joined the surfing fun over at your blog, leave a comment below, and I will add a link to it in the next edition of Sunday Surf. Feel free to add the Sunday Surf button to your blog, you can find it on the right side of this page or under the Sunday Surf tab. Newest Surfers will be added to the following Surf, older Surfers are listed on the Sunday Surf page. If you're Surfing and you have a button for me, email it to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.

 


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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Only Kind of Discipline is Self-Discipline

You don’t have to spend much time in the parenting sphere to know that discipline is a big thing: how to use it or not to use, when, what methods, what’s effective... It is probably one of the most discussed topics on parenting fora and blogs.
However, the whole theorem of discipline is flawed. The basic idea behind discipline is that we can intentionally teach our children something. Most often, it’s about limits, boundaries and morals. I have already discussed how this is an impossible premise in previous articles, and will not go into that argument again.
However, I want to address the following:
Wether discipline works or not, some children do end up highly disciplined playing by ‘the rules’ nicely and following whatever their parent’s desire and others do not. They rebel and go against the grain.

What is going on here?

The parent of the well behaved child will think that the trick has worked, while the parent of the rebellious child might try harder, become more punitive or eventually give up.
Both reactions are wrong, because they’re based on the idea that discipline, from parent to child works. All you’ve got to do is try harder, try another tactic, think again.

Here’s the secret: parent imposed discipline does not ‘work’. The only thing that is happening is that the child, eventually, acquires a sense of self-discipline. Some children are very good at acquiring self-discipline, while others are more... ‘creative’. This is not proof that the tricks work, you’re not training a monkey, you’re raising an independent person.
Some children are so scared of consequences and reactions of the parent that they earn to play along. This is not self-discipline, and these are the kids that will have a hard time coping once they are left to their own devices.

So am I suggesting to just let our kids run wild? Is there no alternative?

Of course I am not and there is indeed an alternative.
Letting go of discipline is probably one of the hardest things a parent can do. We live in a culture where this hierarchical view of parenting is deeply ingrained, and where anything that goes against it is frowned upon, to say the least.
Letting go of discipline does not, however, mean anarchy or permissiveness, instead, it fosters freedom and self-governance.
I can’t stress this enough, but you are raising an individual. Most likely, you wish your child to become an independent thinker, ready and capable of making his or her own choices.
Liberating one’s household of discipline will do this for you.

So what can we do?

As I stated above, the only true form of discipline is self-discipline, and we as parents can foster that in our children.
How?
By guiding them and leaving their choices where they ought to be - with them. By trusting them and loving them unconditionally. By viewing the bigger perspective and not getting frustrated about small things. By weighing, for ourselves, which is truly important. And when necessary, by kindly, patiently and with great understanding, explaining the rules to our child.


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

CD Review: Putumayo’s Celtic Christmas

Article first published as CD Review: Putumayo's Celtic Christmas on Blogcritics.

Putumayo’s Celtic Christmas is the second holiday themed CD I get to review. I was already familiar with the Putumayo label as we already have Putumayo’s African Playground in my daughter’s CD collection. Since we are very fond of the Playground CD, I jumped at the chance to review their holiday album.

Putumayo is an amazingly eclectic record label, with music from around the world for all ages. The label is a perfect match for an expat family such as ours, and a great find for everyone who is interested in different cultures and music from around the globe. Find out more about the label on putumayo.com.
The album features eleven songs from many different groups and artists, coming from Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada and the US: The Gothard Sisters, Druidstone, Dougie MacLean, only to name a few. The greater part of the instrumentation is made up of traditional musical instruments like the harp and the fiddle.

Most of the songs are familiar to me (“Here We Come A-Wassailing," “Little Drummer Girl," “Joy to the World”) all beautifully covered, often in a very inspiring, original fashion. The album also features a variety of songs which are new to me and quite refreshing. For example “Noel Nouvelet" is probably my favorite track on the album with its eerie magical sound. The album would make a great soundtrack for a period series or movie.

At times upbeat and jolly, at times soft and contemplative, this is holiday music in its truest form. I really like the variation of vocal and instrumental songs, as holiday tunes are generally intended as ambient music. None of the songs are overly dominant, and the overall feel of the album is very relaxed.
Putumayo’s Celtic Christmas is recommended for all those who like original, authentic music to cheer up their holidays.


 


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Annee Matthew Maternity Review and Giveaway (01/12, Worldwide)

About Annee Matthew
Annee Matthew is a Maternity and Nursing gear brand. They have a very well stocked web shop, carrying everything from casual to dressy to beach wear and nightwear. Most of their items are pregnancy and beyond. They have a very big selection and the clothes are really fun and stylish. 
The brand started out a mom owned, home based business and grew out to a multinational brand with their products on sale from Singapore to Australia. 
They also carry a nice selection of clothes made from ecological fabrics (mostly bamboo). 

Review

I received three tops for review: the tigger hoodie in expresso, the double rouche top and the bamboo drawstring hoodie in Navy.
All three tops I found very creative in design, with the use of different fabric for the two hooded tops and the very nice design of the neckline and back of the double rouched top.

The fabrics are very nice on all three of the items (especially the bamboo top is very soft to the skin). All three did very well in the laundry and the colors - even though all very deep - stayed intact.

My personal favorite is the double rouched top, as it is a very beautiful color and I love the detail on the back and front neckline. It also gives beautiful definition and showcases that ever growing belly during pregnancy. I will probably be wearing this one for christmas! The nursing opening on this top is over the neckline (under the second strip of fabric.

The Tigger has a lift up front flap for nursing. I really like the comfortable and casual design of this top, but at 8 months of pregnancy, I found the sides to be gaping too much, so this would more be something for the first seven months of pregnancy and for nursing.

As I mentioned above, the bamboo hoodie was the nicest fabric and is also a very nice casual design. Nursing openings are accessible by sliding the blue fabric sideways.
This top I had to stop wearing at 38 weeks, since my belly had dropped and would fall below the hemline (cold!!), but I will surely be back to it often after the birth of this baby.

All three tops made it possible to nurse very discretely, without exposing... anything really.


BUY IT:
The Bamboo drawstring hoodie is 73 SGD (+/- 55 USD)
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Annee Matthew is is giving away not one, but three gift certificates to separate winners, valid on their entire selection, so you can choose whichever your heart desires. Each gift certificate has a value of 50 USD.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Building Connection: 15 Family Activities for Winter Break


Winter Break is just about to start so for the next two weeks we will be trading our regular schedule of activities for some hopefully fun loaded family time. Here are some of our ideas:

1.Slumber Party: Just to be silly we’ll be setting up some mattresses and sleeping bags in the playroom. The plan is to cuddle up to some stories, talk about some of the favorite things the family has done over the last few months and enjoy the fun until everyone is asleep.

2.Snow Fun: If we are lucky to have snow over winter break we’ll be getting outside for some sledding, trying out snowboarding, snowpeople sculpting, icicle hunting, snow angle making etc…

3.Hiking: If there is no snow around we will be looking for a new path to take a hike on. While we hike we will be hunting for dried leaves, acorns, rocks, sticks etc.

4.Board Games: We like to take turns choosing a board game and playing a few rounds and then playing the next game so each family member had a chance to pick. We typically add in silly rules and extra turns, focusing on play and not so much on winning.

5.Counting Stars: As the sun sets early atop of our mountain we are planning on counting and watching the stars appear in the night sky a few times over break with some hot cocoa and blankets.

6.Visit a Museum: Taking a trip to the local Science Museum has been a favorite activity for us over break each year. We enjoy looking at the Dinosaurs and learning from the many different exhibits.

7.Baking: Being in the kitchen together to bake a cake, muffins, bread, making pizza is always a fun, messy and great time for us all.

8.Trip down memory lane: Taking out some old photo albums and watching some home movies is a great way for us to connect, re-live some fun adventures and even remember activities we haven’t done in a while.

9.Organizing: Spending some time together in the kitchen hunting for storage lids or in the playroom looking for a missing toy shoe or puzzle pieces always turn out to be fun and somehow grew into a tradition the boys look forward to.

10.Art Time: With some colorful yet inexpensive supplies we are planning on transforming a blank canvas, paint, yarn, glue, buttons, glitter and whatever other supplies we discover along the way into a family "masterpiece."

11.Creating Games: Often when we play games like “simon says” or hopscotch we end up making up variations and new creations. These made up games are especially fun ways for us to laugh and connect.

12.Treasure Hunt: Taking about ten minutes to prepare a few clues and a simple map, my boys love to go on treasure hunt around the house and the yard. A fun variation we have done last winter was a treasure hunt in the dark using only glow sticks to guide the way.

13.Cardboard Creations: Last year we created an airplane out of a giant cardboard box, another year we made a pirate ship and just recently some dog houses. This break we have been thinking of making a fire engine or a rocket.

14.Obstacle Course: Using our Tunnel, some hula hoops, boxes, small chairs, air mattress, balloons and jumping rope we’ll be setting up another obstacle course this winter in our playroom.

15.Putting on a Show: Using puppets or marionettes or being the actors ourselves, creating a story line and putting on a show "from us for us" always leads to great memories and fun times.


So what activities are you looking forward to during winter break?

Peace & Be Well,


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