Google+ Authentic Parenting: 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Top UK Attractions for Children

content provided by Kira

The UK has plenty to offer families with children in terms of days out. From theme parks to safari parks, historic sites and much more besides. Some great places to visit with children throughout the UK are:

Longleat Safari Park

Young or old, everyone loves Longleat. This fantastic safari park in Wiltshire has been running for over 60 years and even features on BBC's Animal Park and CBBC's Roar. When it first opened in 1966, it was the first park of its kind to open outside of Africa and, despite initial concerns from local residents about lions escaping, it has been a huge hit ever since. Set in the grounds of the beautiful Longleat House, Longleat Safari Park is a fantastic dayout for all the family.

There's the safari itself of course - drive through the Big Game Park, Tiger Territory, Lion Country and the Monkey Drive-Thru, feed the Giraffes and watch the Birds of Prey shows. Watch the penguins being fed at Penguin Island and even watch them as they swim beneath your feet. Get up close and personal with the stingrays and try your hand at Deadly 60's Deadly Challenge. Brave the bat cave, climb the towers of the adventure castle and pay a visit to Postman Pat's Village.

If after all that you still have some energy left, why not visit Longleat House itself. This beautiful Elizabethan mansion, visited by Queen Elizabeth I herself, was the first stately home ever opened to the public as a commercial venture back in 1949. This beautiful stately home offers stunning architecture, a quirky resident in the form of the Marques of Bath and amazing landscaped gardens.

Legoland Discovery Centre

Located at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, the Legoland Discovery Centre brings the magic of Lego to the North of England. With great attractions like the 4D cinema, Kingdom Quest laser ride, Merlin’s Apprentice, LEGO City, Forest Pursuit Driving School and much more there's plenty to see on your visit.

There's an opportunity to see Manchester's top attractions and sights in miniature at the Miniland and you can even get tips at the Master Builder Workshops – a dream for any Lego obsessed child (or adult). With a gift shop and the opportunity to hold birthday parties here too, it's a fabulous addition to this action packed shopping centre and entertainment venue in Manchester.

National Space Centre

The National Space Centre in Leicester is the UK's biggest space themed attraction. Offering interactive fun for all ages, it's a hugely popular family attraction. Home to the Sir Patrick Moore Planetarium, the largest in the UK and a must visit on your trip to the National Space Centre. While there you get to watch one of the award winning shows it plays host to, offering a 360 degree full dome cinema experience.

You can take a tour of the iconic Rocket Tower offering three floors of discovery. You start your journey in the Edwardian cinema where you'll watch the first sci-fi film ever made. Then head up to the second floor and have the chance to sit inside the Vostok Capsule. Here you get to see a dog space suit and learn about the first voyages into space. On the third floor you'll join Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong as Apollo 11 lands on the moon. Take a look at the last piece of moon rock to be brought down to earth and pilot the “Eagle” as you attempt to land it on the moon.

With six galleries packed full of fun interactive learning experiences you can get “lost in space” for hours. There's “Into Space”, where you'll come face to face with astronauts, walk through a mock up of the Columbus Module from the International Space Station and find out what it's like to be an astronaut. In “Exploring the Universe” you get to watch the Big Bang, take a trip through a wormhole and find out more about the search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. In “The Planets” you'll get to find out all about the solar system and in “Orbiting Earth” you'll find out about satellites. “Space Now” will tell you about what's happening up in space right now and the “Tranquillity Base” will transport you to an astronaut training camp.

Of course there are hundreds of other fantastic attractions from which to choose from when holidaying with the children. All you need to do is select one of the cheap hotels by Travelodge and pick which attractions you'll be visiting during your break.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Surf: Holidays & Health

As usual, you can continue reading on Hobo Mama, or ad your own link below if you are Surfing. The linky will go live every Sunday and you can add your link at any time during the week.
If you have a great post that would look good in Sunday Surf, feel free to email a link to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.



If you're surfing, add your post to the linky at the bottom of this Sunday Surf. You can do that here or at Hobo Mama, your link will show up on both sites. Make sure to grab the new button either from the left sidebar or the Sunday Surf page, where you'll also find a little blurb about Sunday Surf you can copy for your post.


Friday, December 20, 2013

DIY Snowy Slopes Seasonal Greeting Card Tutorial

Here's what you will need to finish these lovely greeting (or menu) cards:
  1. cardstock in the color you like, I used dark grey and green
  2. scissors
  3. glue stick
  4. different types of green paper for the trees (I used some plain greens and some scrapbooking paper with dots and stars from Ikea)
  5. white paper (for the snowy slopes)
  6. Medallions - mine came from Ikea, but you can easily cut them out yourself

Cut out zigzags from the green papers, these will be the trees, and more organic shapes from white paper to make the slopes

Put glue on the back of your cardboard medallions

Stick the slopes and trees right side down on the medallion, alternating as you feel. I used more trees than slopes, alternating the different coloured papers

When you have filled the whole back of the cardwith slopes and trees, ass some more glue to the whole back of the medallion (carefully so you don't detach all of your layers), and then stick it to your prefolded card.

Voila, your lovely seasonal card is ready, onto the next one!

 If you end up making some of these, come show off your results in our group "Focus on Authentic Parenting" on Facebook


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Flower Essences for Pregnancy, Birth and Baby

Hi everyone!!

Flower essence is a type of vibrational medicine, as is crystal elixirs and homeopathy. Each flower has their own vibrational healing gift and frequency, and the energy is imprinted into water so we can use and benefit from it. They have been used for thousands of years, but were reintroduced and became more popular when Bach Rescue Remedy was made.

Laura of Authentic Parenting has kindly asked me specifically discuss remedies that are helpful for pregnancy, birth and children.

There are literally hundreds of combinations, as I make an essence specifically for you, but I'll give some general examples below.

Flower essences for pregnancy and birth

Pregnancy can raise a lot if new issues, such as fear of coping with the birth, and then parenthood.
  • "Dog Rose" is one essence that can be added to a combination to help with general fear and anxiety, whereas "Illawarra Flame Tree" is for fear of responsibility. 
  • "Fringed Violet" can be taken when people tell you their horror stories (don't you just love that?!), to help dismiss their negative energy.
  • "Crowea" can be taken to help with worry and morning sickness.
  • We all know how tiring those last few weeks of pregnancy can be, too. There are a few different remedies that can be taken as an energy boost, such as "Macrocarpa," "Banksia Robur" and "Old Man Banksia."

For the actual labour and birth, there are different essences for each stages of labour, and to suit your needs, such as energy, fear, impatience, stamina, pain, calm, shock, healing and detox.

Flower essences for your new baby

Of course, there are many essences to help baby. There is "Bottlebrush" to help with the mother/child bond; "Bush Iris" for mastitis; "Boab" for a new beginning without having to carry genetic conditions for baby; a blend for nappy rash; another blend for teething; the list is endless!!

And we all know about childhood illnesses; allergies, autism, colds. I can also help to boost the immune system.

For a sensitive child, who may suffer separation anxiety, "Monga Waratah" can help with dependence and "Bauhinia" to help your child accept change; and "Five Corners" to raise self esteem.

About the author:
My name is Vanessa, from Peace, Love and Wellness, and I'm a flower essence practitioner. I use stock from the Australian Bush Flower Essences, which has 69 different types of essences. I make custom blends to suit YOU! I can help with physical, emotional, spiritual and mental issues, such as headaches, fertility, nightmares, teething babies, sleep, anxiety, confidence, colic, addictions, fear and much much more!
I hope you've enjoyed hearing a bit about flower essences! If you'd like to know more, please see our website and facebook page 

Our essences are 100% safe and natural, and are suitable for newborns to elderly with no medical interactions.

I'm also raising money for Animals Australia, so 30% any purchases made until Christmas will go directly to them!!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quick & Easy DIY Gift: Flower Petal Sugar

Welcome to the December edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Gift Giving cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. This month, we write about what takes the stress out of gift giving.


If you're lucky enough to still have some fresh, edible flowers growing somewhere, this is a really easy gift that will surely stun its recipient. We made it in about 15 minutes and the kids helped all the way.
I made mine with Hibiscus, because that's what grows in my garden, but you can easily make it with any type of edible flower.
So what would you use this for? It's a really nice garnish for cookies and cupcakes and it's also really cool to rim off cocktail glasses. 

You will need:

  • a handful edible flowers
  • two cups sugar
  • a mixing bowl
  • spoon or fork for stirring
  • a knife for cutting the flowers
  • a decorative recipient for the finished product

Make sure you use freshly picked, unsprayed flowers (preferably in the early morning) and prepare them immediately, or else they will wilt. Take only the leaves, discard the other parts of the flower.

Cut the petals really really fine, we want to end up with small particulates, about twice the size of a grain of sugar.

Mix the sugar and the flower petals together. Fill your recipient. Done!! 

If you're making some of this, why not come show off your work in our Facebook group "Focus on Authentic Parenting"


Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. Read about how others are simplifying gift giving. Check back to see what we have in store for 2014!
  • Keeping Gifts Simple - JW at True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares a few simple ways to limit gift giving and keep your holiday about the thought over the thing..
  • The Mindful Holiday Giving Guide - How many times have you carefully chosen a present for someone and find you missed the mark? Zoie at TouchstoneZ identifies key ways to give mindful holiday gifts that will be truly appreciated.
  • Giving Gifts that Keep Giving - At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy shares ideas to help gift givers think outside the (gift) box with gifts that keep on giving.
  • Greening the Giving Spirit - Momma Giraffe at Little Green Giraffe writes more eco-friendly Christmas wish-list for her family this year - passing on plastic and gift wrap and saying yes to memories, moments and experience.
  • No Toys? : Giving Our Children Gifts that Make Memories - This year, Jacquie at My Blessings Homeschool and her husband decided to do things a little differently with gifts that will make lasting memories instead of the toys that will be lost, broken or forgotten.
  • Quick and Easy DIY Gift: Flower Petal Sugar - At Authentic Parenting, Laura whips up a quick and easy last minute gift.
Do you have traditions or methods revolving around simplifying gifts? Do you have a great tutorial on how to make something? We want to hear about it! Just link up your new and old posts before January 16, 2014.  


Monday, December 16, 2013

Breastfeeding in African Media

I found this cartoon in a local Liberian newspaper and just had to share it. Breastfeeding is NORMAL all over the world, get over yourself, Western society!

(The image represents president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Nurturing the country and it's people)


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Surf: DIY, Food, Health and Parenting

As usual, you can continue reading on Hobo Mama, or ad your own link below if you are Surfing. The linky will go live every Sunday and you can add your link at any time during the week.
If you have a great post that would look good in Sunday Surf, feel free to email a link to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.


Food and Health

If you're surfing, add your post to the linky at the bottom of this Sunday Surf. You can do that here or at Hobo Mama, your link will show up on both sites. Make sure to grab the new button either from the left sidebar or the Sunday Surf page, where you'll also find a little blurb about Sunday Surf you can copy for your post.



Friday, December 13, 2013

The Ultimate Creative Gift Guide: Over 300 Gift Ideas!

From your kitchen

Homemade wellness and beauty gifts

By kids

For Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Shop gifts on Amazon:

IMG: Rebeca Anne on Flickr

For the home

IMG: ShedBoy

Gift Guides

  1. Gift guide for the bacon lover
  2. Epic DIY Gift Guide - Real Food Outlaws
  3. For kids who love herbs
  4. Holiday gift guide on EcoKaren
  5. Handmade gift guide - Gidget Goes Home
  6. 10 gifts in a canning jar - Learning and Yearning
  7. 20 simple homemade gift ideas - Nourishing Minimalism
  8. The ultimate fair trade holiday gift guide
  9. Gift ideas for seniors with dementia or alzheimers
  10. Conscious Holiday Gift Giving Guide - The Mother Tribe
IMG: Robyne Jay on Flickr


Thursday, December 12, 2013

What Nature Offers Children

written by David Reeves

Nature is a word that expresses broad notions of the place where human influence is reduced. Yet humans have an essential relationship with nature. We’re connected to nature whether we like to admit it or not.

This relationship is strained in the environment of modern life. We’ve grown together yet we’ve grown apart from nature. Our urban and suburban lifestyles do not always give us access to quality natural experiences. This is particularly true for children, who often do not have the capacity to reach natural places on their own.

Recent research on the needs of children relative to nature has shown that the outdoors may contribute to the good health of children.

For example, the American Society of Landscape Architects gathered a library of professional research on the subject of nature’s value in health benefits to adults and children. The research covers a diverse set of topics, including treatment of general health, ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, cognition, depression, obesity, stress, type II diabetes and other emotional and physical aspects of childhood.

There is even a phrase to describe a lack of contact with nature: Nature Deficit Disorder is a state where children are increasingly disconnected from the natural environment. The effects include potential links to ADD and ADHD, difficulties in concentration and less creativity. Isolating children from this natural source of stimulation and replacing it with virtual imitation can result in a child who has less foundation in reality.

It is interesting how many games for children, such as Pokemon, imitate the diversity of the natural world but in a fantastical, corrupted form that focuses on the acquisitive rather than the experiential.

The reason children’s movies with animals are so popular, along with nature programs on television, is that people can feel close to nature without actually going there. The challenge in introducing children to nature is that it often takes planning and commitment. Parents can easily become frustrated and give up trying if initial attempts to provide outdoor experiences fail.

The trick to helping children enjoy nature is to not set expectations so high that you can’t meet them as a parent or family. One doesn’t have to reach deep into the wilderness to enjoy natural experiences. Even watching a waterfall over a ledge at a city fountain is a natural experience worth creating for a child.

Think in terms of letting your children find and discover what interests them. It may not be the height of natural experiences at first, but after a few visits to a local pond, the place may become familiar enough for children to naturally explore their world. Encourage them to look at things you might find such as a colorful or interesting-shaped leaf. Let them bring home some natural objects such as pinecones or rocks or even a stick with lichens on it.

Of course, it is not always legal to take material out of parks in order to protect certain natural environments, so bring along a digital camera or a phone and let your child take pictures of the natural world. Viewing your experiences at home on a computer screen can bring nature into focus for your child. Next time you head out into the park, your children will seek out their own vision of what nature holds. That is where the connection begins.

One of the best ways to help children connect with nature is to facilitate spontaneous play that is not planned in detail or organized by adults. A research paper published at Taylor and Francis Online documents the changes in children’s nature-based experiences near home, from previous generations to the current one.

Access to nature and unstructured exploration can have profound effects on self-identity from an early age. There is a general acknowledgment that kids don’t have the same amount of freedom as youth of a generation ago. The social reasons for this are many, including parental fears that unsupervised children are not safe in parks or natural areas. The urbanization and suburbanization of society has also created some isolation from nature.

Yet the benefits of nature for children are worth protecting and worth pursuing. It can start simple and still provide a lifetime of rewards in mental and physical health.

About the author:
David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Playland Inc. in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc., is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to many industries, with its roots deep in the park and playground markets including churches, schools, and day care centers. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase outdoor playgrounds, shelters, shade, indoor playgrounds, water slides and site amenities. Connect with SRP on LinkedIn or Facebook.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Create!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Motivating Teachers, a Key Point in Transforming the Education System

Even though we are an unschooling family, and I truly believe in what unschooling stands for, I know and accept that unschooling isn't the right fit for all families and that's a good thing. As families are all unique and diverse, so are the learning styles of our children. I think that having a collective schooling system can certainly be a good thing and is a great fit for a lot of kids and also a lot of families.

However, the way the system works is something that can really be shaken up, as we're still dealing with something that was created at the start of the industrial era and still very much functions in the way that it did then.

From where I stand a quick and easy way to turn the schooling system around would be to motivate teachers. No matter how you turn it, even with an exceptional curriculum and innovative school policy, a teacher who's just clocking his or her hours won't make that spark that children so need.
If we want our children to be in school for 5 or 8 hours a day, then they should at least be guided by passionate individuals, not just people doing a job because the vacation days are sweet.

When I was in school, I would excel at courses where I liked the teacher. A good teacher can make a dull subject matter sparkl

But how do we create that spark in teachers that lights the candle in students, in our kids?
One way is to give the teachers the tools to achieve their goals and transform their teaching. Programs like Tap System work with teachers and administrators to help them reach the student.

Innovative teaching solutions do not only entertain the student, they also keep the teacher awake. Having to teach the same dull curriculum over and over again does not.
We live in a era where change is the only constant, yet our schooling system refuses to move ahead. Only small changes are made, like the integration of tablets or introduction of the internet in the classroom... These are just drops. Real change is needed, a real transformation to spark the interest in the students, cater to the modern society and prepare kids for the real world IN the real world.
Maybe one day we can get a school system that recognises the perversive effect of tests, scores and grades and just focusses on learning and growth instead.

What would you change about today's school system?


Monday, December 9, 2013

Throwing the Perfect Zero-Stress Holiday Get-Together

Content provided by Alex

Every parent knows that the holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, but it's not uncommon for stress to get in the way. Throwing a holiday get-together is a lot of work after all, not something you can plan overnight. This puts a lot of pressure on busy parents. One of the best things you can to do make sure your party goes off without a hitch is to start planning as soon as possible and make sure that every aspect of the night is taken into consideration.

It'll take some extra time and effort to plan your party, but the result will be a get-together that you'll actually be able to enjoy instead of stress out over.

Start with Lighting

The holiday lights always add warmth and coziness to the season, and there's no better way to create a relaxing ambiance for your get-together than to make sure you've got your interior lighting right. Holiday lights come in all different shapes, colors and sizes, and there are a variety of routes you can take when decorating the inside of your home. You could go with a colored string light set to add mood to your living room, or a clean strand of white lights to highlight your mantel. The goal here is to create a sense of comfort, so just be sure you don't overdo it!

Plan Out Your Activities

There's a difference between simply inviting friends and family over and actually holding a true holiday event. It usually comes down to planning out the night's activities ahead of time, which is something you can get a lot of mileage out of. Try to come up with ideas that will be fun for both the kids and the adults. Simple games like Charades might be all it takes, but you can also take things to another level and maybe even choose a theme to follow for the night.
The better you plan out your activities, the more smoothly the party will go.

Send Out Invites Early

If there's one thing that's universal about the holidays, it's that it tends to be the busiest time of the year for many people. It's not always easy to get people to attend holiday parties, as the chances that they might have other plans on a weekend around the holidays could be quite high. If you want to improve your chances of getting a great attendance, you should be sure to send out your invites as early as possible so that those who receive them most likely don't already have something to do the night of your party. Early December is typically the most acceptable time to send out invitations - just don't wait until a few days before Christmas!

So don't waste any time in planning your party, as you've got to save time to deal with any potential last-minute preparations that might come up. Get things in gear now, and you'll be rewarded with a great get-together!

Image source: Parker Knight on Flickr


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Surf: Health, Learning & Holidays

As usual, you can continue reading on Hobo Mama, or ad your own link below if you are Surfing. The linky will go live every Sunday and you can add your link at any time during the week.
If you have a great post that would look good in Sunday Surf, feel free to email a link to mamapoekie at yahoo dot com.

Natural health



If you're surfing, add your post to the linky at the bottom of this Sunday Surf. You can do that here or at Hobo Mama, your link will show up on both sites. Make sure to grab the new button either from the left sidebar or the Sunday Surf page, where you'll also find a little blurb about Sunday Surf you can copy for your post.



Friday, December 6, 2013

20 Gifts to Make with Your Child

As christmas is steadily approaching, I've composed a list of homemade gifts you can make with your child. 

1. Salt dough necklace (Red Ted Art)

2. Decoupage vases (Better Homes and Gardens)

3. Colorful Beaded Jewelry (Better Homes and Gardens)

4. Homemade Rock Candy (Gluesticks)

6. Melted Crayon Art (Dilly-Dali Art)
This could be a great monogram gift to a loved one

7. Spin Art T-Shirt (Red Ted Art)

8. Colored Bath Salts (

9. Clay Coasters (Red Ted Art)

10. No Sew Lavender Bags (Red Ted Art)

11. Cookie Cutter Candles (Spoonful)

12. Homemade PotPourri (Family Corner)

13. Infused Olive Oil (The Kitchn)

14. Recycled Fabric Mini Wreath (LarderLove)

15. DIY Photo Calendar (Oh the Things We'll Make)

16. Freezer Paper SnowFlake Gift Pouch (Oh the Things We'll Make)

17. Wool Dryer Balls (Hobo Mama)

18. Easy DIY Bath Salts (Real Food Whole Health)

19. Recycled Jar Luminaries (Attainable Sustainable)

20. Gingerbread Playdough (Natural Family Today)

Shop for craft supplies on Amazon to make these lovely gifts: