Google+ Authentic Parenting: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

31 Tips to Find Balance and Cultivate Joy

At the start of January, I shared with my likeronies that I only had one resolution this year: to find balance and cultivate joy (well, maybe that's two).
Even though I have successfully fought off depression in early 2013 (heck, I even wrote a book about it), some bad things that had formed through this lengthy period of dark thought had lingered, like the screaming and anger and general malaise in my family. So a continued search for balance and ways to let the joy in were only a natural prolongation of the path I was already on last year.
I decided to share a daily tip towards that progress with my Facebook peeps, and wouldn't want to waste those for people who're not on there.

Without Further ado, here they are: 31 Tips to find Balance and Cultivate Joy in 2014

  1. Laugh together Every. Single. Day.
  2. Practice mindful breathing: take a couple of deep, conscious breaths every day, focussing on the sensations in your body and feeling your stress dissipate
  3. Take naps when possible
  4. Show your appreciation. Telling people that they look nice, that the food is nice, that the moment is lovely shares the joy
  5. Practice yoga. Even if you only have time for a small series or two poses, do it. Include your kids, they'll love it!
  6. Spend time doing something you love without guilt, do it every day
  7. Let go of the small stuff. Ask yourself if it's really worth the energy 
  8. Be silly for no reason
  9. Meditate every day. Even if you only have a couple of minutes, it's enough. Make a habit out of it. Set an anchor time each day.
  10. Take time to enjoy your food
  11. Ignore people who make you feel bad, invest in people who make you feel good
  12. Take time to prepare delicious food with beautiful ingredients
  13. Spend some extra love and attention on special occasions with your loved ones
  14. Be creative
  15. Be grateful, even for the small things. Being grateful for what you have and not taking anything for granted is a sure path towards joy
  16. Go outside every day
  17. It's ok to do NOTHING every once in a while
  18. Let go of the past, there is really no use in mulling and fretting over what has been... even if it's hard to let go
  19. Step out of your comfort zone, make it a habit
  20. Spend more time in the now, drown the mental chatter by really being present
  21. Know the difference between hopes and expectations, let go of the latter
  22. Hug and kiss the ones you love as much as possible
  23. Love yourself, just the way you are
  24. Joy is a choice and it's yours to make
  25. Turn off the screens and spend time with the ones you love
  26. Think positive. Stop negative thought before it gets a hold of you
  27. Forgive
  28. Only speak intentionally
  29. Always choose love
  30. Practice smiling all day long
  31. Listen deeply

Image: Rain of Happiness


Thursday, January 30, 2014

How to Meditate

I'm known to suggest meditation for an array of problems, from health problems, to psychological ones, to any little imbalance. Personally, I've found that meditating regularly gives me greater energy, balance, makes me healthier and happier.
Yet nearly every time I suggest meditation, I get a 'I can't do it' or 'I don't know how' or 'I can't sit still that long'.

I get it. I've been there. Until not so long ago, that was the response I would have given. I can't make my mind go blank. I can't just lie there and think of nothing... And it seemed like anyone who would give advice about how to meditate would go into this twilight zone where they talk of stillness and balance and focus and unity. What's all that crap?

Now after having meditated for a couple of years, I get it. And it's pretty hard to explain without including some new age speak, but I'll try.

Meditation is quite simple, really, and anyone can do it. Even my five year old knows how, so you'll be able to do it too.
There are many ways to meditate. There's guided meditation, some people like to use a visual focus point, for others it just 'works' when they get the right kind of music. You can do visualisation or body scan or... there really is a way of meditating for everyone.

So what is it really? (And here I go with the new age speak) Meditation brings you stillness of mind, it declutters the mental chatter and brings you focus.

It's not the goal to go completely blank, though maybe after some training, you may achieve a blissful stillness (I haven't yet, but that doesn't mean it's not working).
Meditation comes down to focus. It can be done sitting crosslegged on some handwoven mat, or lying on your bed, but you can also do it walking, or doing dishes, or hanging up the laundry. It comes down to focussing on one thing, be it the dishes or some visualisation.

Don't fear thoughts that may pop up, just let them come and go as swiftly as they came in. Bring your focus back and let go of the thoughts.

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Child Doesn't Listen - 6 Mistakes You Might be Making and How to Change Them

It's extremely frustrating when our children don't listen to us. After countless repetition, we are at our wit's end, specifically if this is a recurrent phenomenon. What is left to do for a gentle parent.
But sometimes, it is our initial try that doesn't arrive, somehow it is lost in the noise. And luckily, there are ways to change our communication to become more effective.

1. Lack of Connection

Are you speaking from a place of connection? Children who are at a disconnect do not hear (or want to hear) what you are saying. It's not a conscious process, therefor they are not to blame. It is just nature's way of protecting oneself. If the child feels threatened or lacks attachment with the speaker, she will not respond.

What can we do? Establish connection before making requests. Go to your child for a hug, a cuddle, some kind words. If you feel like the love is flowing, only then make the request.

2. Nagging

We tend to nag when our kids aren't listening. Instead of changing strategies, we become like the broken record, constantly repeating our prior message. Yet the fact that you are repeating makes your message lose it's power. And if alongside this you're taking a nagging tone, you can be sure that your child won't listen.

What can we do? Don't repeat the exact same message. If your child didn't listen the first time, try one of the strategies in this article or change your message.

3. Out of sight...

Is your child looking at you? Are you looking your child in the eyes. Often, we throw suggestions at our kids while sitting at the opposite side of the room and then wonder why they don't listen. Chances are: they didn't hear, because their focus was elsewhere. 

What can we do? Go over to your child, touch them, and look them in the eye when you speak. This way, at least you are sure that they heard the message. If the still don't respond, check if the other points in this post might be going awry.

4. A stream of words

It is pertinent when speaking to children to make your requests short and to the point. A long tirade of why you want something done, the sociological and ethical value of the action and the historical viewpoint are wasted on the young. Somewhere along the first sentence, you have lost your child and the message to the wind. 

5. Yelling

Every message that has to be screamed has no use being communicated. If you feel the need to raise your voice, something is definitely wrong. While some children may respond to yelling, out of sheer fear, most turn a deaf ear to your quails. 

What can we do? If you feel like yelling, take some time to relax before attempting communication again. Try reaching a point of connectedness before you speak again. Find more tips about dealing with yelling in this post. 

6. Intent

When talking to kids, it's important to first sense what we are communicating non-verbally. If we start from a place where we think our child won't listen anyway, we are, non-verbally telling our kids that the message is not worth listening to, we are subconsciously giving them permission not to act on our request. 

What can we do? Manage your intent and start your message from a position of positivity. If you communicate with enthusiasm, you will have a more captive audience.

With these tips, communicating with your child will become easier, more effective and joyful.

Here are some amazing books that will help you further along your journey, through my Amazon Affiliate program:


Monday, January 27, 2014

Natural Remedies - Active Correction of Fallen Arches (Flat Feet)

Ever since she was little, my daughter would hardly walk. She'd complain that her legs hurt, that she could walk no more. Obviously we haven't been going for long walks.

Thinking it was due to age, we waited it out. But as she grew, her complaints would continue. I figured it was something else and had it checked out by her pediatrist.

Verdict: fallen arches. Her suggestion was corrective soles.

Now since my daughter never wears shoes, and I'd always heard that no shoes was best for the development of the foot, I found it inconceivable to put her in shoes for eight hours a day. So I looked a little further and found out there are other, better ways to correct fallen arches.

Her case wasn't very sever, so we would be able to correct it with exercise.

See, those soles, they relieve the muscles and give a passive correction. After a while, the muscles get lazy and all the work is done by the soles. There is no remoddeling or actual correction. With exercise, you are making the feet stronger and are correcting the problem actively and permanently.

Exercise ideas

  • roll up a towel with your feet
  • pass a small object from one foot to another. If you join your child, pass it back and forth
  • clean up toys using only your feet (two birds, one stone ;))
  • try to see how far you can stretch your feet, how you can arch them, how you can spread your toes...
Doing these exercises regularly will prove a permanent remedy for fallen arches!

photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Surf: Parenting & Birth

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, January 24, 2014

Great Family Holidays to Turkey

Content provided by Kira

When it comes to planning your next summer family holiday, wouldn’t it be nice to try somewhere new? Experience a new culture, whilst still being able to keep the kids entertained in a family friendly resort? Keeping the young ones busy on holiday can be a nightmare. You’ve saved all year for this chance to kick back, and after two days, you hear those two words: I’m bored.

Try family holidays to Turkey for your next holiday and the kids won’t know what to do first! There are some great resorts offering family orientated hotels where kids' clubs and beach activities will tire them out day after day. Venture outside of your hotel and there is a real melting pot of influences to discover. The Greek, Persian, Roman and Byzantine empires have all left their mark on Turkey; you can see this in the diverse architecture of mosques and temples peppered across the towns and cities, and in the wide range of cuisine available.

For a fast paced holiday head to Bodrum. This buzzing resort on the Aegean coast offers the perfect mix of beach and sightseeing. If you’re looking for fun on the water then head to one of the little bays and try out a new water sport with the kids, or simply sit back and relax whilst they have a splash about. Whatever the ages of your children, you can take advantage of the great kids' clubs and activities on offer.

Tour operators such as Thomas Cook offer a wide range of family holidays to Turkey, from self-catering apartments to all inclusive hotels. Visit their website and choose a holiday that caters for all your needs. You can even check your holiday availability online and confirm your booking in a few easy steps. Then all you have to do is countdown to your departure day!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

6 Hands-Off Learning Ideas

I'm continuing on the train of 'Homeschool Guilt' I was riding last week. My personal homeschool guilt is mostly brought on when I am working too much. Obviously as a work at home mother, I cannot be as hands on as a stay at home mom who's not working. I am more flexible then when I'd be working out of the house, and my being at home allows us to fully unschool our kids, but sometimes it makes it hard or impossible to give my children the kind of guidance I would want to or which they sometimes require.

Obviously, no device or proxy can ever replace a parent, but luckily, we nowadays have all these options for when there's really no time. Use the time off you get wisely and spend the time you do have together thoughtfully. So here are some creative way to get your child learning without having to sit with them.

  1. Get some exciting documentaries on topics they're interested in. David Attenborough's Life is certainly worth recommending.
  2. Load your tablet with learning oriented apps. There are several really nice ones that your child will love. If you search for Montessori, you'll probably find a couple of good ones.
  3. Set up an afternoon of cooking, baking or gardening at grandma's house (or alternatively with a friend). This will give you some uninterrupted time to work plus gives your child the hands on experience they crave.
  4. Get some audiobooks for your child. Even if they're already reading themselves, they might enjoy the faster pace of the 'being read to' experience.
  5. Science coloring pages. By googling specific topics your child is interested in, you can come up with plenty of coloring pages on flowers, dinosaurs... whatever they like. 
  6. Books... and a multitude of it. For small children picture books in which they can look and make up stories, older kids can read a variety of books to themselves or their siblings. 
  7. Keep up to date on local learning opportunities. Often community centres and the like offer interesting programmes. 

Obviously, no device or proxy can ever replace a parent, but luckily, we nowadays have all these options for when there's really no time. Use the time off you get wisely and spend the time you do have together thoughtfully.
Also, bear in mind that your child is always learning, even if they're doing things that are making you uncomfortable or doing the same thing over and over again.

 photo credit: Christos Tsoumplekas (Back again!) via photopin cc


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Quilt-o-Rama


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

9 Tips for Dealing with the Carseat Issue

Most kids will have a period where they really don't like going in the carseat. I've found the resistance spikes towards age two and diffuses between three and four. Probably it has something to do with the child gaining independence.

Here re some of the tips we've discovered over time for helping our children with these carseat issues.

  1. Limit trips. This is the most straightforward tip, obviously, to reduce the amount of trips you take with your child when they're really not happy in the carseat. Don't worry, limiting trips doesn't spoil them. In the long run, they will learn to sit in their chair with the seatbelt on, trust me, but during these difficult times, when protest is highest, just put them in the car less, if possible.
  2. Plan trips carefully. We try to arrange it so longer drives coincide with our son's sleep pattern, so he'll doze off pretty quickly. Sometimes it means we'll drive around their bedtime and put them to bed wherever it is we're going.
  3. Get audiobooks or audio stories. Seriously, for us this has been a lifesaver for when they're awake. What works best for us is the ones that are of the audio play type, with different voices and sound effects. It keeps them busy and happy.
  4. If they're ok, try to avoid eye contact. Sounds a bit harsh, maybe, but for a small child, they just want to be in your arms if you're in close proximity. So if they're ok, avoid checking on them constantly, because that just reminds them you're right there.
  5. Provide pillows or neck support. There are special wrap around the neck pillows for kids who are still in a carseat that make sleeping much more comfortable, hence they'll sleep more soundly and for a longer time.
  6. Bring food they love. Try to make it something that's not so messy. It might be borderline bribery, but we reserve certain foods for car trips. If they have to go through something they dislike, we figure they can have something they wouldn't get otherwise (like a cookie or lollipop). Most of the time this works really well too.
  7. Sing along music or their favourite children's music works well for some kids too. Having a specific CD or playlist for the car, where they can look forward too is also a good idea. I will always fondly remember the Joe Dassin cassette my parents popped in when we had almost reached our holiday destination each year.
  8. Figure out where to sit best if there's two adult sin the car. For my son, it works best when I'm not next to him, because then he'll just want out to sit on my lap, but when my daughter was little, I had to sit next to her and hold her hand and sing her songs… Every child is different.
  9. If your child is old enough to fully understand what's going on (I've found this is mostly when they themselves are eloquent enough to express their needs) tell him where you're going. If they refuse to get in the seat by themselves, just wait it out. Tell your child you won't move the car until they're ready. It can take a while, and it may need repeating, but it's a good way of making them understand how things work.

There isn't a single foolproof method and you'll probably have days when there's resistance no matter the methods you've tried. Remember that this too shal pass. My daughter is now five and a half and knows she has to be attached in the car, and does so without much of a fuss.

photo credit: sean dreilinger via photopin cc


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Surf: Body Image & 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.

Body image


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, January 17, 2014

Women Bullying Women (on air) About Hair

As a Guest Post (with permission), a bunch of us crunchy mama bloggers are co-hosting and reposting Leslie Erin, aka Crunchy Betty's retort (to Kathy Lee and Hoda) regarding Jacquelyn Byers' LittleOwlCrunchyMomma's "no poo" post.
The issue is about mutual respect of alternative beliefs than ones' own. That lack of respect is what causes bullying, suicides, wars. The on-air bullying by Kathy Lee and Hoda is bigger than hair. Our concern is about being an example of how one wants the world to be for our kids. And modeling that. And we wonder why kids bully kids?

Where did they learn bullying? On NBC's Today's Talk with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford (Starts at 6:40).

photo credit: zubrow via photopin cc


 Dear Kathie Lee and Hoda (but mostly Kathie Lee),


Just … shh.

For a minute. Let me talk. Let someone else talk. Please.


Yesterday, with the exceptional display of journalistic prowess only the two of you can pull off, you publicly shamed a woman. You know, just a little good-natured name calling of a commoner, in between Kathie Lee’s cringe-worthy lyric-forgetting and the best hair evah (EVAH) popular girls circle jerk. No harm, no foul, right?

I get it, girlfriends. I really do get it. You live in a world where you’re plied with products and serums and perfumes and creams made of extracts of baby albino tiger tears mixed with space-aged polymers coated in 200 karat gold. You don’t really know what’s going on *out here* unless your producers shove a bottle of wine and a paper covered in words in front of your face and say, “Don’t think. Just talk.”

I know there’s an in-touch part of you somewhere, it just happens to focus on things like the latest stiletto-wedge-ballet-pump from Jimmy Choo or what Lady Gaga ate for breakfast yesterday morning (extracts of baby albino tiger tears, no doubt).

But out here, ladies, something else is going on. And it’s something your producers won’t hand you a script for (something that would never please the overlord advertisers).

So even though you’re not in touch with it, it does exist. And the beautiful women you made fun of yesterday is a part of it. You can call it “crunchy” (cue Kathie Lee eye roll) or natural or alternative or big bang boopsie. I don’t care. Call it whatever you want, but to look down on it any longer doesn’t fly.

You see, there are thousands of women who have learned one very important thing in the last few years:

We’ve been lied to. We’ve been bamboozled. We’ve been hoodwinked. We’ve been hypnotized by a billion synthetic fragrances slowly stripping us, from the day we’re born, of every shred of the true *natural* humanity we’re a part of.

And because hundreds of women as brave as Jacquelyn Byers of LittleOwlCrunchyMomma have spoken out about their no ‘poo lifestyle, we know something you don’t:

Jacquelyn Byers (LittleOwlCrunchyMomma)

Image credit: Jacquelyn Byers @ LittleOwlCrunchyMomma

Not washing your hair with shampoo doesn’t make you stink. Oh, maybe the first few days are rough, and then any whiff of off-putting smell is gone. It’s gone, and you know why? Because human bodies are designed to work in concert with nature, not battle with it.

We’ve also learned that the stink you cop to having after not washing your hair, Kathie Lee, has more to do with the things that you put IN your body than the things that you put ON your body. A clean diet, more often than not, equals a cleaner smell. And that cleaner smell is quite easy to remove (and be free of), even if you only wash with water.

You can still bathe regularly, Kathie Lee, so you don’t have to worry about smelling like the people “back in the day before shampoo” who only bathed once every few weeks, at most. You can still enjoy other comforts of modern day life. Like, you know, razors and toothbrushes and those little family stick figures you put on your car’s back window. Except not the last part. Please, not those.

I don’t know why I expect more of you, but I do. I expect women in the media to be conscientious about the way they talk about new ideas and, even more so, the way they talk about people. About other women. And, for heaven’s sake, about other women and their relationship with their children.

The disrespect you showed Jacquelyn, simply because she does something you’re not brave enough to learn about, much less try, was nothing short of schoolyard bullying.

I have a friend, you know, who has two girls: ages 5 and 7. And when she caught her children making fun of another kid for having curly hair, do you know what she did? She curled their hair. For a week straight, the girls had curly hair, just so they understood what another person was feeling.

So I know that one of you – I’m guessing Hoda, because she seems to be the bravest of the gang – is going to swallow your pill and do the right thing now. If a 5-year-old and 7-year-old can do it, you can muster up the emotionally responsible fortitude to do it, too.

Don’t wash your hair.

For six weeks.

Do not wash your hair with shampoo. Heck, you could even go the no ‘poo with baking soda and apple cider vinegar route. But either way, no shampoo. For six weeks.

And then come back and talk to us about how awful it is. Then you can talk from an experienced point of view. Then, perhaps, you won’t sit up there on your ultra loud thrones and set the tone for other people to feel like it’s okay to be mean. And many of your viewers were mean. Nasty. Bleh.

Until then, it would be ever so kind if one of you would have a sit down with your producers and schedule a few interviews with women who don’t use shampoo. Get them in your studio. Right next to you. In your face.

So you can smell them. And eat crow.

(I hear it’s delicious this time of year.)

And goodness knows I’m not saying it will work for you. It may not! I mean, let’s be honest, it won’t, because it takes exquisitely detailed spritzing and teasing and coiffing to get you camera ready all the time. But what’s six weeks going to hurt, right? Time flies when you’re a celebrity.

Try it. It’s not like you’ll lose your job – unlike the way you do when you anger the masses by being heartless and snarky.

The worst that can happen is that you’ll stink. The best that can happen is that you’ll gain our respect – and a naturally beautiful head of hair in the process.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Six Ideas To Overcome the Homeschool Guilt

A couple days back, I posted how now and again, I'm overcome with the Homeschool Guilt. The feeling of not doing enough, of not seeing results, of wondering if we're doing all right.
Now obviously for me, that stems from being schooled myself, where nearly all you do is 'show you' work. Tangible stuff. Paper stuff. Physically measurable things... We grow up with the idea that it's only there if it's measurable.  As unschoolers, most of the learning our kids do isn't visible or tangible. But then one day you overhear them talking about Egyptian burial rites and know they did pick up something along the way...

But I'm diverting. I wanted to write this post to hand you a couple of tools to overcome that homeschool guilt and get back on the happy homeschool trail. Because it's no good to be stuck with guilt, even if it's all just in your head and without ground.

  1. Spend more time doing 'educational' things with your kids. It can be just about anything they're interested in, or it can be worksheet, if that tickles their fancy. If you're feeling guilt about not being 'hands on' enough, chances are, you aren't so, make up for lost time and play with them, work with them, craft with them, until they ask you, to leave them alone!
  2. Listen to your kids and find out what they've been learning when you were stressing about it. 
  3. Refresh their environment. Use this momentum to take out some old toys, fix broken ones, put those away that aren't age appropriate anymore or aren't being played with. Set up their creative materials in a way that inspires them to use them. Read more about creating rich environments in my post 'The Art of Strewing'.
  4. Go somewhere together. It can be as easy as a stroll through the park or a visit to a grocery store, learning happens everywhere. Or you could take them to a museum or an exhibition, whatever both you and your kids are interested in and feel good about. Remember, learning happens everywhere. 
  5. Bring in an interesting person to do enrich your kid's skills. Feel insecure about their math skills, ask around with your friends if one of them is math savvy and wants to do some math play with your kids. Your child loves physics, but you forgot everything you learned in high school? Maybe there's a retired physics professor in your neighbourhood who'd love to do some fun experiments with your child.
  6. Go on Pinterest and do the first three activities you see that your child would be interested in. You can find plenty on my Kid Craft and Activity board.
In any case, even by doing the things that make us cringe, our children are learning (if only about the fact that it makes us cringe), so relax and enjoy their experience. They'll surprise you with everything they soaked in.
Only last night, we watched an episode of Bones and my daughter told us 'well, they're not real skeletons, they're dummies and fake blood and then they film it and make it look real'. Kudos to you, my sweet one!

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Two Funny Science Experiments For Kids

My wife has been writing for so long now on this blog and since the beginning I wanted to write something. Now the problem is that I am a very bad writer and not a good enough parent to give advice.
One thing I can maybe share with you is my passion for engineering and trying stuff out. In this first post I was thinking of sharing with you 2 science experiments you can carry out with your child if ever he or she asks for it.

Trying to explain density to your children?

Try this; I loved it when I was a kid:
You will need:
  • water
  • salt
  • an egg
  • a glass
Take the glass and fill it half with water. Add about 7 tablespoons of salt and mix very well. Now the tricky part: add water to the glass but do it very gently so it DOESN’T mix with the salt water. Once finished take the egg and put it very carefully in the glass without dropping it. And yes there it is floating on the salt water under the regular water.
Why: the density of salt water is higher then the density of regular water and the one from the egg is right in between


The power of static electricity.

We all know about static electricity. Sometimes we get a little shock when touching the car door or another person, or we might use a balloon to lift our hair. But here is the cool stuff:

You need:
  • a balloon
  • water
Go to your water tap with an inflated balloon. Gently turn the tap open, not drops but the smallest continuous flow you can get. Rub the balloon against your child's hair, enough to get it laden with static electricity. Now bring the balloon close to the water stream. What happens?
The stream gets bent towards the balloon. Your child really has some magical hair hasn’t he?
Sorry but no, what happens is that the balloon - by rubbing against the hair - gets negatively charged by transfer of electrons. Water is neutral because it contains the same amount of positive and negative charges. When bringing a negatively charged object close to it you attract the positive particles.

Hope you will enjoy these! Got some science question you want to experiment with? email mamapoekie at yahoo dot com and I will try to solve it with you


Image: By Bill Branson (Photographer) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Monday, January 13, 2014

The Homeschool Guilt

Now and again, I find myself grasping for air about this unschooling gig. Are they learning? Don't I leave them to their own devices too often? Should I do more? Should I get more resources?

This generally happens when I'm under a lot of stress with all of the projects I have going and I feel like I'm neglecting my kids. Or when my daughter pops in a second movie... Or when she spends more time on the iPad then I feel comfortable with.

Rationally, I know that she's certainly up to speed with her schooled peers, and I know that they are learning from just living. And of course even when I am busy, there are other people helping me with the kids, it's not like I really leave them to their own devices.
But still... the lack of framework and goals, the things I have been raised with, can be really scary.

In a future post I will write about how I deal with this guilt as to not drive myself crazy.
Do you homeschool or unschool your children? Is this a feeling that overcomes you?

photo credit: jimmiehomeschoolmom via photopin cc


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Surf: A Little Bit of Everything

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

Arts and Crafts

Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

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.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Top 10 Things to do in Belgium with Kids

Although Belgium might be known for Bruges, lace and chocolates, and often just a stop in between Paris and Amsterdam for US tourists, it has much more to offer tourists than one might think.

For families travelling with kids, there are lots of amazing sites to visit and activities to do, some of them free. I took it upon me to compose my personal "top 10 with kids" to show that the country I grew up in has a lot to offer to travelling families. Wether you're looking for adventure, history, culture, food or anything else, this small country will have something to offer.

  1. Take a boat on the 'rijtjes' in Bruges. The inner city of Bruges, much like Venice, is interlaced with waterways. There are several quays and a boat trip costs about 5 euros and takes about half an hour. You get to see Bruges from a side you wouldn't normally see. 
  2. Go all the way to the top of the Atomium and get a beautiful 360° view of Brussels. The Atomium was built for the 1958 expo, but - liking the monument so much - it was never taken down and is now one of the major landmarks in Belgium. 
  3. While you're there, visit Mini Europe. This attraction park features miniature models of Europe's major landmarks. It's quite expensive but worth the trip and certainly a great learning experience. 
  4. Take a stroll on one of Belgium's beaches. Don't expect bikini's and sunshine, but for the kids who like to play with the waves and hunt for mussels, this is a wonderful - and free experience. And why not go for 'pannekoeken' (crêpes) and whipped cream afterwards? 
  5. Visit 'Het Gravensteen' in Ghent, an medieval forteresse complete with torture chamber. Ghent has many lovely things to offer, but this is probably the best landmark to do with kids. (Not for the very sensitive)
  6. Kayaking down the Lesse. For Belgian kids, a full day of kayaking on one of the beautiful Arden streams is a fixed activity in school. If you're looking for an adventurous and active family outing, this is one to remember. 
  7. Langlaufing in the Ardens. Even in winter, Belgium has lots to offer the activity seeking family. The Ardens might not be the best venue for full on skiing, you can rent some langlauf ski's and glide along the glimmering snowy slopes. This combination of skiing and walking can be done by very young children.
  8. Visit the Royal Palace. Once a year for a whole month, Belgium's royal palace opens it's doors. Generally they put up some exhibition and dedicate part of it to kids. But even without special exhibitions, your kids will be in awe of the grand halls of the royal palace.
  9. Between March and April, the Haller Forest (hallerbos) floor is covered in a carpet of wild hyacinths, a wonderful sight for big and small. You can visit the forest for free and there are several hiking trails. 
  10. Bokrijk, in the Limburg province is a site of historical buildings. They have been selected all over Belgium and rebuilt in situ to offer visitors a slice of history. Every year, they offer an additional exhibition. Houses are occupied by 'inhabitants' who can tell you about their lives of the past, and give you a taste or a sight of past traditions and occupations. 

Atomium photo credit: o palsson via photopin cc
mini Europe photo credit: saigneurdeguerre via photopin cc
Gravensteen photo credit: jurvetson via photopin cc
Kayak photo credit: dinant evasion via photopin cc
Royal Palace photo credit: R/DV/RS via photopin cc
Hallerbos photo credit: Rita Willaert via photopin cc


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Birthday!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Art From Nature

written by Iyas

Winter, summer, autumn or spring - there's always so much to see and enjoy in the fresh air. Here's an activity for your kids to spice up an afternoon in the woods, the park, on the beach, or in your garden with a little creativity. Anywhere you can grab a coffee while they get on with this safe but fun activity.
There's an inspirational artist called Andy Goldsworthy. What makes him special is that all his artworks use nature as their paint and canvas. He creates installations with whatever nature has thrown up around him, and leaves them there in their environment. Simple, environmentally friendly, and frankly, cheap!
To get your kids in the mood and give them some inspiration, try looking at some of his work with them before setting out. There are a ton of patterns and shapes - something is bound to awe and inspire.
They're going to make some kind of a sculpture or collage using things that they find wherever they happen to be. It must be something safe, it can't involve ripping things off living plants (or animals or humans for that matter!), and it can't use anything that belongs to anyone else.
Oh, and it must be legal!

Either create the sculpture with them where you are, or if it's in the yard, find a spot that they like or means something to them, and have them make it there.

The real beauty of this activity is for them to explore the different colours, shapes and textures that are out there. Acorns. Shells. Twigs. Stones. Leaves. Ice. Mud. Feathers. Goldsworthy even used his own saliva (euch) once to stick together an ice sculpture. If it's in your yard, it doesn't even need to be just natural stuff. My kids, on a cartoon bender, decided they wanted to use buckets, pots, and shovels. In fact, any unnatural object within reason is fine. Even dad.

The point is to get their imagination going, not just to stick to a rule of using the living environment for its own sake - although this is a great way to get familiar with it. Give them tips - for instance little stuff (twigs) on top of big stuff (dad), light stuff (feathers) on top of heavy stuff (dad), gentle stuff (leaves) on top of rough stuff (dad), etc.

Once they're done, have them take a snap with your camera. Post it up on our Facebook page if you like. But then, they should let it go - it came from nature, and will head back into nature. Nature will take it over, and change it with rain, wind, storms or animals around it.

P.S. For the video, we wanted coffee while the kids got on with it. So we sat in, read the newspapers, had conversations with each other as adults, and then came out at the end to congratulate them. They clearly missed the whole bit about 'nature'. Which serves us right for being the absolute role models of passive parents this morning...
P.P.S. Despite indications to the opposite, no father was harmed in the creation of this activity. We'll try harder next time.


Freaky Rivet was founded by Iyas, the author of this article and father of four, and Kevin, an ex-teacher of over a thousand children and who also runs activity days for schools. Iyas used to lead a business and technology consulting organisation of nearly 500 people, which he left for the bigger challenge of herding his four children with his wife around Latin America for 6 months. During this life-changing trip to recover from the corporate world, he discovered both the subtly addictive nature of gadgets and technology for children, and their ability to enjoy exploration, discovery and activity when peeled away from the technology. It was this eureka moment that led him with Kevin, an old friend from their time together at Oxford University, to come up with the Freaky Rivet concept - inviting children into a life of activity, of exploration and of discovery by using technology rather than fighting it. In his spare time (kidding, right?) he runs a charity for children living in disadvantaged and war-torn environments.


Buying a subscription to Freaky Rivet weekly activity emails to get kids moving supports this site. We are very grateful for the small income this generates. Many thanks!

photo credit: andreco via photopin cc


Monday, January 6, 2014

Can You Heal Your Teeth?

A couple of months back, we discovered dark spots on my now 2 year old son's teeth. Oh, the horror... If anything makes you feel like you're a terrible parent, then it's cavities and bad oral hygiene. Yet, with our son, we've been so much more dedicated to teeth brushing then we were with our daughter when she was little.
After some despair and then some research and then more despair, we found out that he has a severe lip tie, which would be causing the damage to his front teeth (that and he has an ENORMOUS sweet tooth).

We consulted two paediatricians but they each told us to leave the teeth alone and that loosening a lip tie isn't done anymore. Back to square one.

The thought of having the little boy put under general anaesthesia to have his teeth taken care of really didn't sit well with me, so I did some more research and started incorporating natural ways of strengthening teeth: a spoonful of coconut oil a day, a spoon of Fermented cod liver oil/high vitamin butter oil, even more dedicated brushing.

To no avail!

A couple of weeks ago, my son broke off part of his tooth and we had to get 'something' done. We went to see a very sweet dentist who just cleaned and filled the tooth, no anaesthesia required and told us to just up the routine some more and not to worry.

For jokes, my daughter climbed on the dentist chair to have her teeth checked (she'd been for a routine checkup 8 months earlier and everything was perfect then, she had no complaints). Yet the dentist found 6 severe cavities!!!

Enter the mama guilt again.

We decided not to have them filled rightaway and try the natural way if she didn't develop any pain and if it didn't get worse. I am wondering if something has caused an imbalance in our diet as in less than a year both kids have developed cavities. It is true that we eat little to no fish here in Liberia, but we do get fresh veggies... It's all very overwhelming and there are times I just want to throw in the cap.

Luckily, my daughter has been really great in the teeth cleaning, oil pulling, flossing and so on department. She even takes the FCLO with very little protest.

So can you heal our teeth? I don't know right now. But we keep trying and I'll keep you informed. Meanwhile, here's lots of information on how to take charge of oral hygiene, naturally:

General information

Toxin Free Tips for a Healthier Smile (Sustainable Fitness Life)
Disinfect Your Toothbrush Naturally (Actual Organics)
How to look after your teeth and gums naturally (Actual Organics)
Teeth remineralisation routine (Save Her Teeth)
Healing Cavities Through Nutrition (Nourishing Treasures)

DIY Toothpaste

coconut oil and baking soda (Health Extremist)
clay and coconut oil (Real Food Outlaws)
DIY Clay Toothpaste Recipe (Cheeky Bums Blog)

Mouth Wash Recipes

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and a Natural Mouth Wash Recipe (Hybrid Rasta Mama)
Homemade natural antiseptic Mouthwash (Healing Cuisine by Elise)
Homemade Tooth Powder and Mouth Wash (They Call Me Oyster Girl)

Get your supplies through my amazon affiliate program:


PS For those of you who think it's madness not to take care of their teeth rightaway, know that the fillings used do not come without risk, nor does the anaesthesia. I prefer taking a wait and see approach and am keeping a very close look on the progress of their teeth.

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Surf: Health & Home

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.



Looking for more Home & Health resources? The Harvest Your Health eBundle is having a flash resale. Available only until Tomorrow January 6th for 39$. Get it now through my affiliate link.


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, January 3, 2014

7 Resources for Fertility and Motherhood

Welcome to the Harvest Your Health eBundle sale. I became an affiliate for this bundle because I think it's a great way to start off the New Year. It holds lots of health and whole food resources and a couple of interesting titles on Fertility and Motherhood. 


First Bites

by Hilary Kimes Bernstein

Is it really possible to instill healthy eating habits during your baby’s first year? Yes! Filled with understandable explanations of scientific research, practical solutions, and lots of stories for real- life moms, First Bites is a fantastic resource for new moms who simply don’t have the time to do all of the research by themselves but want their babies to reap the rewards of a healthier start.

Birth Control Unlocked

by Stefani Ruper

Many women wrestle with significant side effects, the least of which being infertility, after coming off of the pill. Why does this happen? What organs in your body are affected by birth control? What can you do while on the pill to mitigate damage, and what can you do afterwards to regain your fertility and hormone balance as soon as possible? This guide is meant to help you to understand your body, knowing your options and the risks, and doing your best to be as healthy as possible no matter which option you choose.

Fertilise Yourself

by Mat Kringoudis

This ebook is all about priming your body for fertility, with plenty of tips and tricks for a wellness overhaul, and the ‘how to’ steps to set yourself up to win. If you’re struggling with your fertility or even just your general health, this ebook can help you navigate your way to being fueled and fighting fertility fit!

Eat Your Way to Parenthood

by Gabriela Rasa

So, are your and your partner ready to take back control over your own body and fertility? Are you ready for a fresh approach? Eat Your Way to Parenthood harnesses your innate power to maximize your natural fertility and create the healthy baby of your dreams. It’s full of practical, easy to use techniques and over 200 delicious recipes.

A Practical Guide to Children's Health

by Kate Tietje

There are so many confusing messages today about how to keep kids healthy. A Practical Guide to Children’s Health can help provide straightforward information on three main topics: Food, Health, and Environment. These topics examine controversial and misleading information and explain the options concisely. The book is supported by over 300 primary research sources, largely from medical journals.

From Maiden to Motherhood

by Stephanie Brandt Cornais

From Maiden to Motherhood is good, fast, easy-to-understand information about everything you absolutely must know as you begin your journey to motherhood. Filled with juicy tidbits and lessons from other pregnant couples, this book gives helpful insights to encourage and guide you along the way.

Mother's Little Helper and Home Remedies

by Natalie Vickery

his book includes over 50 home remedies and information on prevention, nutrition, plant medicines, making herbal preparations and much more. Whether you’re just starting out with herbs or merely interested in learning about tried and true herbal and natural remedies for your family, “Mother’s Little Herbal Helper and Home Remedies”, is the book for you. 


Get this amazing eBundle for just $39!! By buying the Harvest Your Health eBook Bundle, you are supporting this site. Thank you!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

How to Prepare Children for Moving

content provided by Alex S.

Children need special attention when moving, as relocating can be very difficult for them. It may not be possible to have an entirely smooth transition, from one home to the next, but by employing the
following actions you’re helping to ensure that the relocation goes as smoothly as possible.

Give Them Time to Say Goodbye

It’s important that kids have plenty of time to adjust to the idea of moving. Make sure they’re clear on when you’re moving, such as telling them the date or explaining that it’s a few weeks or months away. You can start an advent calendar of sorts, crossing out every day until you reach your actual moving day.
This way, your kids will be able to tell their friends, teachers and others exactly when they’re leaving. It’s likely your children are going to miss their friends and old classmates when they make the difficult transition to “new student.” Encourage your child to collect phone numbers and addresses, so they can keep in touch with any of the people they care about.

Keep Your Child Moving

Involving your children in the process of moving will help them stay excited about it. Encourage your kids to pack their own rooms, offering them markers and labels to decorate their boxes. They’ll enjoy making their boxes stand out, as well as they’ll begin to fantasize about what their new rooms will look like.

Don’t keep your kids out of the loop, no matter how small the errand. By keeping them involved, you’re helping their anticipation to grow, thus engaging their curiosity about their new home. By involving your children in the moving process, you’re ensuring they understand everything that’s happening.
Imagine if your daughter packs up her stuffed animals and that box is loaded into a shipping container. Your little girl isn’t going to see her fuzzy friends until you’ve completed your move and this may upset her. But, if you chose to bring her along, you may avoid the tears and confusion.
Most movers welcome children at their offices and will be happy to discuss moving containers and shipping policies with you and answer any questions your children may have.

“Involving kids in the planning as much as possible makes them feel like participants in the house-hunting process or the search for a new school. This can make the change feel less like it is being forced on them,”

says Kids Health, a non-profit government website devoted to helping families raise healthy kids.

Get Them Excited About their New Community

If possible, acquire a map of your new community or neighborhood. Lay it out and start going over some local attractions with your children. You’ll want to circle where your home is located, so children can get excited about what’s nearby.
Mark areas that may be of interest to your kids, then pour over the map, discussing what’s nearby and worth visiting. If you don’t currently live within walking distance to a park, but your new home is, that’s worth discussing. Keep the conversation positive and encourage kids to get excited and ask questions. Eventually, when you’re driving through your new community, you’ll be able to point out some of the landmarks you discussed.

Unpack Their Rooms First

Finally, once you’ve successfully moved into your new place, help children unpack their rooms first. Keep them busy with decorating and self-expression. They’ll love the activity of setting up their things in a new space. Plus, having the comfort of their belongings will help them feel safe their first few nights.