Google+ Authentic Parenting: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dances with Lentils

Playing with food. My grandmother just punched a hole in her coffin at my mere mention of those 3 words. But we’re going to turn it into a learning experience. See? It all comes good in the end.
Here’s the super quick version. Get some raisins. Get your kids to pour them into a clear glass (the longer the better) of fizzy lemonade, a few at a time. Watch as in a few seconds as they start to bob around (possibly in reggae time) in the glass. Then see if you can get your kids to figure out why that is.

To amp up the fun and learning a little, try these:
  • Try experimenting with other foodstuffs so that they can see what works and what doesn’t. Lentils are great. Some bits of dry pasta work. Put in some boiled pasta (which won’t work) to give them something to think about in terms of why some things work and others don’t.
  • Give them more clues (and increase their deductive reasoning skills) by putting a lot in at once, or putting in new raisins once the old ones have stopped bobbing around. Why do the ones that go in at the end not work as well as the ones at the beginning? Is it something to do with the fizz going? Get them to time how long it takes the first raisins or lentils to start moving, and how long they move for, then repeat it for the last raisins or lentils. Do they see any difference or patterns emerging
  • Make it colourful by adding some food colouring. Does that make a difference to how long or fast the raisins dance?
  • Just for fun, get your kids to choose some music that vaguely is in time to the raisins moving, and video record it for their friends.
Why does it work? The fizz in the lemonade forms pockets or bubbles of air on the edges of the foodstuffs. As they get bigger, or as more form round the edges of the raisin, they lift it up through the lemonade. The less dense the foodstuff, the easier it is for the gas bubbles to lift it, which is why dry pasta works and boiled pasta doesn’t. When it gets to the top of the liquid, some of the bubbles burst, and so the raisin or lentil starts to sink again. Only to repeat the cycle when they’ve sunk a little.
See if your kids observe some of those patterns which will give them a clue as to why it happens. For instance, the denser the item, the further it sinks before rising again. And as the drink gets less fizzy, fewer bubbles form around the foodstuffs, and so they don’t rise up any more. And so on.
P.S. I wouldn’t recommend drinking the lemonade at the end. It’s pretty gross. Don’t ask me how I know…


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Swimming Pool Safety Tips For Parents

The kids are in your family pool, splashing and playing games, and as you sit and watch them, safety is on your mind. You know you’ve done a lot to keep the kids safe as they play in the water, but have you done everything you can? Here are some safety tips to make sure you check off the list:

Always be watching. You’re sitting out at the pool, so you think you can check that one off the list. But are you really watching? When you’re supervising the kids, it doesn’t mean sitting by the pool looking down at your cell phone texting. It doesn’t mean slipping inside to fix snacks for the kid’s lunch. You need to be really watching the kids. It doesn’t take long for a child to get in trouble in the water, so pool watch duty means vigilance. Here are some great articles with more details about pool safety:

In case of an accident. Have a first aid kit easily accessible, and in a specific location, so you know where to find it. Have emergency numbers listed on the wall next to the phone inside. It would really be prudent for both parents to have taken CPR, with their certifications current. The time you save before help could get there may be critical.

Limit access to the pool. Hopefully, you’ve already checked fencing off the list, and there is a fence around the entire pool. That fence should be at least 4 feet high, and have a gate with an alarm on it. Have you checked it recently? If the dogs have dug a hole under the fence where the kids could crawl in while you’re not there – that needs to be fixed. Does the alarm work properly, and is the gate latch in proper order. Does the house provide one side of the barrier to the pool? If so, does the back door have an audible alarm on it? What about windows – are there any which allow access to the pool? Do they also have alarms?

Equipment check. Does your pool pump have a safety vacuum release system on it? If a blockage is detected against a drain, like a small body or hair, this system is designed to shut off. Have you tested it lately? If not, take a towel, swim to the bottom and push the towel against the drain, to see if the system functions properly. Take a look at the toys the kids use in the pool – make sure there are no frayed edges which could cause a cut. Do a visual walk around of the pool area, to make sure there aren’t chipped or broken pool tiles that could cause an accident.

You mentally check things off your list, and feel good that you’re keeping your kids safe at the pool. As your son climbs out of the water, he walks very appropriately around to the diving board, and you smile, knowing your safety processes are working.

About the author
Kaitlin Gardner started, because she wanted to further her passion for green living and an eco-friendly lifestyle. She currently lives in Pennsylvania, and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature. She is also working on another big project - her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Sound Slumber: Tips on a Better Night’s Sleep for your Toddler

Content provided by Janice

Sticking to a sleep routine can be a challenge with young kids but if you persevere, your child’s wellbeing (as well as yours) will gradually improve, resulting in a better night’s sleep for all. Follow these tips to get your toddler sleeping soundly.

Prepare them for sleep
If your child’s bedtime falls immediately after watching TV or participating in some other stimulating activity, it’s pretty unlikely that they are going to drift off simply by lying in bed. To ensure a fuss-free bedtime routine, you should make a few preparations at least an hour before their scheduled bedtime. This can include running them a warm (not hot) bath to help their body reach a comfortable temperature, reading to them and eliminating any TV watching. Over-stimulation before bed can initiate night terrors in children and this can lead to more permanent sleep issues in the future so be sure to prep your child for bed as routinely as possible.

Learn to decode their cries
When you’re constantly awoken around 3am by your child’s cries, it’s tempting and wholly understandable that you simply want the crying to stop as soon as possible so you can get some rest. However, learning to decode your child’s cries can actually prevent frequent night-time crying and promote longer patterns of unbroken sleep in the long-run. Crying after all is your child’s way of communicating something to you. Babies and young children never cry for no good reason, as much as we might think this from time to time.

Sometimes, your child will cry beyond common reasons such as hunger or tiredness and simply cry to vent their feelings as we do and let out a cry that they may have been held back earlier in the day. For example, if your child is stopped abruptly from crying throughout the day i.e. because you were in a public place, they will store these feelings until they can let them loose again, say, in the middle of the night.

It may seem difficult but in letting your child have a full, uninterrupted cry, they will be less likely to cry in short bursts throughout the day. A good cry gives children closure in the same way it does for adults. One of many things that can irritate a child’s sleeping pattern is an uncomfortable bed. A good size mattress and bed for your child’s size is essential during their formative years as they are developing at such a fast rate. The children’s bed specialists at Bedz R Us don’t compromise on comfort, providing quality bed designs that can guarantee your little one a sound night’s sleep.

photo credit: kourtlynlott via photopin cc


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Teaching Your Children About Spirituality

Content provided by Janice

Regardless of whether your family considers itself to be religious or not, there will come a time when your child starts asking big questions about spirituality. If your household is a secular one, your child might start asking why you don’t attend a place of worship like their friends. Questions about the existence of god or a spiritual dimension are inevitable, so it’s important to be prepared for when your child starts to show an interest in issues of spirituality.

Take an Educational Approach
Whatever your beliefs, it’s preferable that your child receives a balanced, information-based overview. Remember that your child will eventually make up his or her mind independently, and all you can really do is present them with the relevant tools with which to do so. It’s very important to educate your child to respect the beliefs of others and practice tolerance and curiosity. You need to set a good example here and refrain from rejecting the spiritual beliefs of others outright or making derogatory remarks about other religions. There are plenty of helpful books for all age groups that lay out the beliefs of all the major world religions in an accessible style, so it may be worth investing in one of these. The more your child learns, the more willing they will be to respect different spiritual approaches.

Alternative Spirituality and Secular Beliefs
Even if you don’t believe in god, don’t assume that your child isn’t interested in learning about the idea of a higher power. Spirituality is heavily linked to morality, and it’s important to develop a healthy sense of morality in your child so that they can distinguish right from wrong and learn to make good decisions. Teaching your child about caring for others and for the environment is a great way to start them off in their spiritual development. If your personal beliefs lean more towards alternative spirituality, you can use a site like Kooma to educate your child about astrology, psychic healings and the tarot.

No-one has All the Answers
Even if you’re a staunch Christian, Muslim, Atheist or Jew, it’s important to let your child know that you don’t have all the answers. No one is in possession of these, and this is why faith is necessary for belief in a particular religion or the existence of a spiritual dimension. Remind your child that although you can attempt to answer their questions to the best of your abilities, you are still learning too when it comes to spirituality.

photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc


Friday, April 25, 2014

Buying a Gift for your Child? Consider these Steps at the Checkout

Content provided by Janice

It may not seem as if much thought should go into buying your children gifts. They make you a long list prior to their birthday or Christmas and you pick one or two items up from the store (providing they are safe). Job done, right? Wrong. Certain toys can make your children bored and irritable and what’s worse - some choices can even drain their creativity.

Children will always be tempted by gifts they have seen advertised on TV or ones owned by their friends and peers but when all is said and done, kids appreciate toys that engage their attention on a long-term basis. Here are some top gift-buying tips to ensure your purchase becomes a much-loved favourite of your child’s instead of just another throw-away novelty.

Choose toys that encourage creativity over control
Popular toys on the market too often instruct and command kids with buttons and this leads them to quickly lose interest in a matter of weeks. Compromise by providing them with a toy or gift that has more longevity and creativity to ensure they get more use out of it.

Do not cave in to buying their ideal toys on their birthdays or at Christmas. Mix it up with a few surprises among their preferred gifts. Once the novelty of the desirable toy wears off, they will look to more ‘nourishing’ toys that can provide long-term enjoyment. Teaching them to appreciate and enjoy a regular activity such as drawing, reading or playing an instrument is the birth of a hobby and investing in more imaginative toys in their younger years will help promote a more active and gratifying lifestyle in later life.

Look for multiplayer toys
It’s a phrase commonly heard in motherhood - ‘that’s mine!’. Children become very attached to their toys and subsequently brand individual toys as theirs and fit for no-one else. Because of this, it’s essential to introduce them to multiplayer toys and gifts that encourage them to share similar fun and enjoyment with others. If you find yourself dealing with a stubborn child every time it comes to sharing toys, invite them to play in co-operative games such as board games that promote social interaction.

Go on past experience
If you’re truly stuck for extra gift ideas, ask yourself ‘What were my beloved toys as a child? The chances are that many of these toys are still popular with kid’s today (albeit in some new updated form). Some toys can have an unending and universal appeal such as sketchbooks, play dough and train sets since they allow children to create and make things happen beyond the confines of a dull button-bashing implement. If you fail to find toys similar to the ones that you enjoyed, ask around with friends and relatives for further inspiration.

Still stuck for gift ideas? Surprise them with something a touch more unique and unexpected. The online gadget shop Discovery Store houses all manner of pre-school toys and gifts as well as family games and puzzles so there’s no shortage of game ideas to feed their creativity.

photo credit: Cláudia*~Assad via photopin cc


Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Get an Active Child Interested in School

Content provided by Janice

We all love it when our children are healthy. And there’s no better way for them to be healthy than by running around, taking part in activities and playing sports. But let’s face it – sometimes our kids can be a little too interested in sports for their own good. And this is never more apparent than when their love of being active starts to get in the way of their schoolwork.

Active Children Usually Do Better in School
If you have an active child, the good news is that they’re already being set up for academic success. Physical activity and academic performance have been conclusively linked in a study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine. But this only applies to kids who engage in ‘vigorous’ activity, rather than the ‘moderate’ activity encouraged by school mandated PE sessions.

Keeping Your Child Focussed
What usually compels an active child to be less interested in school work is that they have more energy to burn off than other kids. This may be natural, or it may be down to the great food you’ve been feeding them. Either way, it’s important that this energy gets burned off in a productive way before sitting down to work. If homework is an issue, make sure to enrol your active child in an after-school activity which they can take part in before studying. If concentration is a problem in school, it might help to provide them with certain tools to help them enjoy school a little more, such as sports-themed pencil cases and book bags.

Understand the Role of Food
You’re probably already feeding your kids a great diet, but you may not be aware that you can actually use food to help your kids do better in school. Before school it’s all about consuming slow burning energy, so wholemeal toast, fresh fruit and high-fibre cereal should all be encouraged. If your child’s school doesn’t provide healthy lunches, packing a lunch is absolutely essential. Children’s concentrations tend to slack off in the afternoon, so giving them good food at lunchtime will help them to concentrate better.

Make it Sports Themed
For some children, their passion for outdoor activities simply overwhelms their motivation for learning and study. So one of the best tricks to get them interested in school is to make their work sports-themed. If they have a maths problem which they’re struggling with, reword it so it has some relation to a sporting activity. If they’re falling behind on history, try relating a historical event to a strategic game such as football.

 photo credit: Send me adrift. via photopin cc


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Essential Parenting Collection END SALE

The Essential Parenting collection sale is coming to an end. As an extra bonus for late buyers, my affiliate partner Mindful Nurturing has cut prices to 32$ and added three amazing bonuses!

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rock Out – A 34 page earth loving activity book by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou. 
  2. The Power of Oxytocin, an audio interview with Bryan Post and Susan Kutchinskas, authors of Oxytocin Parenting. 
  3. Man And Woman And Child – free paperback print copy. 

To learn more about this book, please visit the Amazon listing.

Aside from these new additions, there are still 35 amazing titles in this collection, including my eBook The Postpartum Herbal Guide. The collection will guide your through the topics Pregnancy and Birth, Child Development, Parenting the Early Years, Mindful Guidance and Resources for Parents.
Individual mini bundles are still available separately.

Sale Ends April 26, now with the price reduced from $49.97 to just $32! Check it out!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Natural Gifts for NewBorn Babies

Content provided by Janice

We all know that natural is better, but when it comes to new born babies, keeping things organic is
especially important. Babies have skin that is thinner and more delicate than ours, which means that it is highly sensitive to chemicals that are found in most preserved, non-organic products. They also need all the help and comfort they can get in adapting to their new environment. Whether it’s your own baby or for someone you know, here are a few gift ideas that can give the very best care.

Baby Bath Time
Babies seldom get very dirty (apart from in their nappies!) but giving them baths is more for relaxation and refreshment. Try getting pure ‘hydrosols’ that are water soluble extracts of healing and aromatic plants distilled by steam. Accompany them with an organic cotton wash cloth to apply the oils with. For moisturiser, always stick to pure ingredients like Calendula, Shea Butter or Coconut Oil that are universally healing and harmless for the skin.

Baby Bedding Bundles
If the family uses a crib, bedding can be a great idea for a gift. Babies can go through quite an amount of bedding! When it comes to bedding, stick to organic materials like cotton and bamboo that are less irritating on the skin. For a bedding bundle include blankets, throws, cushioning for the crib as well as any decorative crib toys and accessories. Stick to light and soft colours like the ones you can find at Lollipop Lane Limited and pick up some healing music to calm baby and soothe them to sleep.

Baby Changing
Changing the baby’s nappy will soon become a well-practiced routine. Even then, you never know what they will surprise you with. Help parents be prepared with organic nappies that are crystalline and AGM free as well as natural baby wipes that you can make yourself using paper towels and your own blend of hydrosol and a few drops of witch hazel.

Don’t Forget About Mum
Mothers can often feel left out on all the attention and love that baby gets when she should be getting essential care too for giving birth. Splash out on an all-natural, organic basket full for pampering goodies. All she needs to do now is take time out to enjoy it!

Give your baby or a baby you know, the very best start in life by giving them nature’s best. Don’t rely on the abundance of products too much but be sure to spend quality time massaging, playing, talking to and singing to your baby so that you surround them not only with nature, but your love too.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Surf: Foraging



      Saturday, April 19, 2014

      Why Every Child Should Learn to Swim This Summer

      Content provided by Janice

      If someone asked you what the most important life skill your child could learn this summer was, would your answer be swimming? According to statistics from the Centre for Disease Control, that’s the right answer. Every single day, ten people die from unintentional drowning. Twenty per cent of that number are children under fifteen, making it the second most common cause of child death. For every one who perishes, a further five children have to receive emergency hospital treatment for injuries relating to near-drowning.

      Ever Present Dangers
      In an article which went viral in 2010, retired Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mario Vittone emphasised the importance of learning to swim: “A child should know how to swim, even if you rarely go swimming or don’t have access to a pool, beach or lake. The excuse ‘they won’t be around the water much anyway’ just doesn’t hold up when you realise there are pools at parks, at schools, at hotels. You can’t avoid the water your whole life.”

      To reinforce Mario’s argument, consider that it doesn’t take a lot of water to pose a risk; even a backyard kiddie pool can be a source of danger, particularly for children under 4, who have the highest drowning rates. Studies have proven that a small child can drown in just two feet of water. From 2004 to 2006, forty-seven children drowned after becoming submerged in inflatable pools. All it takes is for a small child to lean over the side, overbalance, fall in and be unable to stand up quickly enough.

      Learning to Swim
      One common misapprehension is that swimming is an ‘automatic’ survival response which kicks in when children enter the water. However, both children and adults must be taught the necessary skills to stay afloat. The American Academy of Paediatrics has recommended that children over the age of four are all given formal swimming instruction, and also points to research demonstrating that children as young as one can reduce their drowning risk through taking lessons.

      Fear can be a huge hurdle in learning to swim, so it’s important to take your child for informal swimming ‘lessons’ as early as you can, even if these consist of no more than blowing bubbles and floating on their backs. Some great aids to make children feel comfortable in the water are available as part of the Konfidence range, developed by a British couple to make their own children feel at ease in the water. Very young children who are comfortable in the water are likely to be much easier to teach to swim once they have the coordination to learn formal strokes.

      If your child – or anyone else in your family – has yet to master this potentially life-saving skill, find a location near you and teach them. The ability to swim might one day save their life.


      Friday, April 18, 2014

      15 Tips for Feeding Your Family a Whole Food Diet on a Tight Budget

      Eating organic, whole foods is expensive... Who can keep it up? Especially if you're on a particularly
      tight budget, is there a way to eat healthy every day?
      Whole foods can come in a very varied price range, and with a couple of considerations, most of us can make it work. I hope the tips below are helpful to set you and your family on their way o eating nutritious meals and enjoying radiant health.
      1. Make your own yoghurt. Making yoghurt is quite simple, stacked with probiotics and cheap. You can get a machine that keeps temperature stable or just make it in a bowl.
      2. Go to your local farmer's market, they will offer you in season produce, straight from the land, which is as fresh as it gets, and there's nobody in between, so dirt cheap (Pun intended! There's often slightly more dirt to wash off than store bought).
      3. Buy food in season. In season, local food, is not only healthier and more environmentally friendly, it's also cheaper than your exotic store bought variety.
      4. Cultivate some food yourself. You can plant some perennials if you dislike the idea of a vegetable patch, grow sprouts if you're living on an apartment or start a full blown vegetable patch, depending on your time and the effort you want to put in. Even if you're not a green thumb, some plants will do just fine on their own. Just make sure that they're adapted to the conditions and the soil available. I strongly believe that anyone can grow/cultivate something, you just have to find the plant that suits you.
      5. Join a vegetable gardening club, they have the scoop on where to find cheap seeds, saplings and more. Often they divide their crop if they have too much of one thing. They generally offer lectures and lessons too.
      6. Establish a relationship with your butcher. If you're a steady client at a specific place, you'll get the scoop on offcuts etc. I get my bones for free at my butcher's, I use them for soup and often there's still quite some scrapings of meat.
      7. Buy cheap cuts of meat. Bone cuts and unpopular cuts are generally healthier, more tasty and quite a lot cheaper than prime steak. 
      8. Get to know a hunter. In many places, in order to keep certain populations in keep, hunters have to hunt, but don't know what to do with all the meat. They'll happily sell for cheap or even just give you parts.
      9. Cook from scratch. Yep, we're already talking whole foods here, so cooking from scratch is really a must. But even whole foods prepared items are much more expensive than the versions you can make at home.
      10. Buy bulk. Buying in bigger quantities will make your shopping cheaper. SO if you routinely use a product, then buy plenty all at once. If you're buying fresh foods in bulk, set aside a day for cooking and preserving. If you don't know what to do with huge quantities of food, then buy with some friends.
      11. Don't go for fad foods. Every other week, there's a new superfood, each one from a more exotic place than the other. Yet there are plenty of superfoods right where you are, use them instead! Most of them are being discarded as weeds!
      12. Which brings me to the next point: foraging!! You can find so much awesome nutrient dense food for free! You don't need to be a green thumb to cultivate dandelions or nettle, they just show up on their own. Maybe you can find some elderberry or rosehip where you are? Or wild blackberries and herbs. Give it a try, but only pick what you're 100% sure of. If you don't feel confident, ask around to find someone who knows and can show you what to look for. 
      13. Don't be afraid to ask. Something I've learned from a friend and an awesome lesson this was. She will just ask for old bread at the bakery, or cold cut offcuts at the butcher. Most of the time she just gets them for free. We were once at a fair and got to a cheese tasting stand. All the crusts were cut and put into a giant bag. She asked the lady what they did with the crusts. They just tossed them. She took the whole big bag home, sifted through and found at least four pounds of perfect, crustless cheese!!!
      14. Keep an eye on promotions. Buy in quantity and freeze when there's a really good promotion. 
      15. Compare prices between shops, there can be a very big variation for what is basically the same product. There are apps that can keep record of the product you buy often in different stores. 
      If you're on a really tight budget, there will be choices to make. It may not always be possible to buy organic. Yet if you study the clean fifteen, you can make sure you still get good quality food. If there's no money to go around for healthy food at the end of the month, try to see if you can make some cuts in  another department - less driving for example.
      If there is nowhere to make cuts in your budget, then breathe, take it easy and try again when you can. Remember that foraging, growing and asking are basically free.

      photo credit: sea turtle via photopin cc


      Thursday, April 17, 2014

      How Organic Eating Improves Your Child’s Health

      Content provided by Janice

      You might have already made the organic transition, but have your children? The green movement is upon us, and we’ve already switched to using sustainable materials when building new homes and developed hybrid cars. These eco-friendly practices should have been transposed into your diet too. As an increasing number of natural food stores like Goodness Direct and organic brands surface, it is becoming easier than ever to feed your family organically.

      Organic eating refers to the practice of eating food which hasn’t been chemically treated. Some people question whether the higher price of organically farmed produce actually results in better quality, healthier food. However, recent studies by experts have found positive benefits, and when it comes to your children, the findings suggest that it is well worth spending more and buying organic for them, too.

      Health Benefits
      Dr Therese Pasqualoni, who has spent over fourteen years researching nutrition, physical activity and stress management, has voiced concerns over children’s diets, and stressed that organic foods are far more beneficial than conventional ones. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition backed up Dr Pasqualoni’s assertions, finding that among 815 two-year olds, those who consumed organic dairy products had a reduced incidence of eczema and wheezing.

      Preventing Mental Health Issues
      The University of Washington conducted a study in Seattle that produced some very interesting results. Their research found that pre-schoolers who ate primarily organic foods were exposed to fewer organophosphate pesticides than children eating primarily conventional foods. This was significant as a 2006 study by the BBC had reported that pesticides found in fruit and vegetables, and the decreased nutrients in non-organic produce, could cause mental health issues like depression and memory problems in children and adults.

      Battling Attention Deficit Disorder
      An increasing number of children are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a recurrent pattern of behaviour characterised by short attention spans, impulsivity and hyperactivity. This condition is usually treated with Ritalin. Ritalin is a stimulant that is used to treat daytime drowsiness and chronic fatigue syndrome. As with many drugs, it can have side-effects, including anxiety, nervousness and insomnia. A holistic alternative which avoids the risk of side effects is available in the form of a plant-based nutrition programme. The treatment works on the foundation that there is a relationship between diet and disease, working on the theory that everything the human body needs to live a long, disease-free life is provided by the Earth. High sugar consumption and a diet of processed foods and additives have been identified as possible ADD risk-factors. By eliminating the three from your diet, the theory posits that you should see an improvement. It stresses that parents should feed their children organic produce because it has the maximum nutrient density, and a minimal amount of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

      Now that you know the benefits of organic food for your children’s diet, shop smart and try swapping some of your more conventional shopping choices for organic alternatives.

      photo credit: BC Gov Photos via photopin cc


      Wednesday, April 16, 2014

      Wordless Wednesday: Made in Love


      Tuesday, April 15, 2014

      5 Crafty Projects Your Kids Will Love

      Content provided by Janice

      Doing crafts is a great way to spend an afternoon, particularly if the weather’s not so nice outside.
      Check out these amazing ideas to get some inspiration for your own crafty projects.

      Cupcake Baking
      Baking is a great way to keep your kids occupied and will hopefully teach them more about how to operate in a kitchen too. Cupcakes can be as plain or fancy as you like, but with the proliferation of interesting cupcake recipes around these days it’d be a shame not to try some out. Encourage your kids to experiment with different recipes and hopefully this will start them off making taste suggestions of their own.

      Make Your Own Fancy Dress
      Most parents, when confronted with the prospect of a fancy dress party, will opt for the ease of shopping at Fancy Dress Empire Ltd. But the more intrepid parents will spend a little more time creating costumes that are truly original. Not only is costume making a great activity to do with your kids, but it’s a great way to recycle old clothes that aren’t used any more. And fancy dress isn’t just suitable for parties – it can also be used for putting on home performances.

      Write and Perform Your Own Play
      Getting your kids to write their own play is the perfect rainy day activity. Not only will it fire up your kids’ imaginations and get them thinking creatively, but putting on a play in the comfort of your home is the perfect way to encourage a shy child to come out of their shell.Historical events aregreat sources of inspiration, which will get your children thinking actively about history in a way that is interesting and fun for them.

      Create Artwork
      Artwork can take many forms, so creating art is the perfect project for kids of any age. For really little ones, a finger painting station is a fascinating way to spend an afternoon. For older children, card silhouettes, stencils, pencils, paints and crayons can be used to create amazing artworks which can then be hung on the wall or fridge.

      Make Your Own Stuffed Animals
      All kids love stuffed animals, but the ones they love the most are the ones which have real meaning. Making your own stuffed animal is a great way to give your kids a new friend who they’ll adore for a long time. You can use almost anything to create stuffed animals, from felt and wool to old gloves or socks.


      Monday, April 14, 2014

      3 Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

      Content provided by Janice

      Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful and rewarding experiences of motherhood. It’s a perfectly
      natural and special wayfor babies and mothers to form a unique bond, not to mention thatbreast milk is renowned the world-over for its mesmerising healing and nutritional benefits. For first-time mums, however, breastfeeding can often be a tricky challenge with latching difficulties and painful problems. But there’s plenty of support to be found both online and amongst your family and friends so don’t feel afraid to reach out for advice. As you get more confident, you might want to take your little one out and about with you. Here are a few tips that can help you take those first steps.

      Figure out How You Feel

      It’s a good idea to figure out how you feel about breastfeeding in public before you step out to enhance your confidence. Decide how much you’d like to be covered or not, if you prefer to be in a group or alone and what type of environment you think you’d be comfortable in so that you can plan ahead.

      Plan ahead

      Remember that you have a legal right to breastfeed in public as the Equality Act of 2010 has made it against the law for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to leave a public place such as a café, shop or public transport. Although it is sad that a law has had to be passed in the first place, it’s still a good idea to prepare what you would say if you were confronted. Depending on where you are going, have a quick think about possible places you could breastfeed such as a bench, café or even a dressing room if you like privacy.

      Wear Comfortable Clothes

      Keep clothes comfortable when breastfeeding and figure out what works best for you. There are some great options for maternity wear nowadays that make accessibility much easier. Some mums like to lift up their top whereas others like wearing two stretchy tops so that the top layer can be lifted up and the bottom layer can be pulled down. Be sure to stick to soft non-underwired bras that can be easily moved aside when you want to feed too.

      Breastfeeding is a natural process that you shouldn’t feel ashamed of at all. Providing your baby with essential nutrition as well as love, warmth and care matters more than feeling inappropriate in public. That being said it is each to their own. Everyone is entitled to their opinion so just work out what feels right for you. Just remember that the more you build up confidence and experience, the easier it will be!

      photo credit: c r z via photopin cc


      Thursday, April 10, 2014

      What is Unassisted Childbirth?

      The question floats around the interweb now and again: what's the definition of Unassisted Childbirth?
      I want to have a birth with a midwife but do it unassisted, is this still unassisted childbirth?

      I was having this discussion in a forum and wanted to share the definition with you all.

      UC is birthing without medical assistance. This draws a pretty clear line. There can be as many or as few people at your side, they can be doula's or family or friends...
      The line is philosophical. If you have a midwife or OB present, even if they're knitting in another room, then you have the need to have a medically accredited person present. Hence, you accept childbirth as a medical instance. That's ok, but it's not unassisted childbirth, this is called a hand's off midwife assisted delivery.

      Women who consciously choose unassisted childbirth often come to that decision - either consciously or unconsciously - because of the conviction that a routine childbirth is not a medical event, but a natural one. Just like going to the bathroom, having sex or breastfeeding.

      As a little sidenote: viewing a process as natural does not mean you don't acknowledge the possibility of complication. It's the difference between viewing everything as a potential complication and handling complication as it arrises.


      Wednesday, April 9, 2014

      Learn More about Parenting

      Did you catch my talk about cosleeping at the Nourished Living Summit?

      Don't worry if you didn't! Here's your chance to get a LIFETIME access to all 62 speakers' talks, at a discount!

      The Summit is offering a lifetime online access to all topics for 124$, that's 20$ off!! This sale will only last for 24 hours, after this, the Summit will still be for sale at the full price of 147$

      The Full Summit Package will be offered at $149 through April 30th* and includes:

      • Lifetime access to all 62 expert audio presentations (MP3 format);
      • Lifetime access to all 62 slide presentations;
      • Over 300 Pages of Presentation Summaries;
      • Over $150 Worth of Free Bonus Items;
      • 35 Exclusive Special Offers and Discounts;
      • 109 Page Speaker Guide;

      Automatic Lifetime Access to All Future Presentations Released in 2014-2015 (including accompanying MP3s, slides, and summaries)

      *The full summit package will convert to regular price of $247 on April 31st and WILL NOT offer the lifetime access to future presentations. Click here for all the information

      Alternatively, you have the option to buy an individual track page (if you're looking for mine, it's the first slot in the 0-3 category).

      Individual Track Pages will be offered at $49 each and include:

      • Lifetime access to all audio presentations (MP3 format) in that track;
      • Lifetime access to all slide presentations in that track;
      • Presentation Summaries for that track;
      • 35 Exclusive Special Offers and Discounts;
      • Speaker Guide

      Individual track packages do NOT include Free Bonus Items or upgrades. Click here for more info

      If you haven't already, you can still register for FREE to listen to the remaining talks, continuing on until April 29th. Click here


      Tuesday, April 8, 2014

      How To Organise The Most Amazing DIY Kids Party

      Children's birthdays can be magical and the making of beautiful memories. It can however, also be a source of stress and worry for the parent.

      First of all, when planning your child's birthday party, know that it is about the intention, not the grandeur. Children will be just as happy with a wonky handmade cake as they would be with an expensive, photo printed store bought one. Read my post 'Simple Celebrations' to get a feel of how magical really simple events can be.

      Think about your budget before you start planning. Your party doesn't have to be expensive to be magical. There are many things you can do yourself, if you're in a tight budget. Find lots of cost cutting ideas in the article Inexpensive Birthday Party Ideas at The Humbled Homemaker

      Even if you don't have a lot of time, you can find really nice themed party sets at small prices.
      Even last minute, something fun can be thrown together with some strings of lights, colorful napkins and an appropriate snack.

      If you're worried about the wastefulness many birthday parties entail, know that there are many eco friendly alternatives to common birthday party features. Even for gifts, you can decide to have your guests donate to charity, bring only handmade or second hand, or bring only certain items or food. The options are limitless and it is getting more common to ask for something specific. We all know about the horrible pile of unused plastic toys, and many are getting conscious about this.

      Another concern parents have about birthday parties is the amount of sugar and junk food the kids are exposed to, yet this needn't be. A couple of beautiful (thrifted) bowls with cherry tomatoes, quail eggs, cut vegetables and dressing can be just as magical as hot dogs and sugar icing. Even for special diets there are plenty of healthy options. Take a look at the recipes below.


      Pumpkin Patch Birthday Party (The Humbled Homemaker)
      Under the Sea Party at Diary of a First Child
      Winnie the Pooh Birthday Party at Diary of a First Child
      LEGO Party at Diary of a First Child
      Princess party with a Meaning at Eco Mothering
      Children's Birthday Parties: Think Green, Think Theme at Eco Mothering


      Monkey Invitations at Diary of a First Child


      from Simply Smiles

      Gluten Free Vanilla Cake at Simply Smiles
      Real Food Birthday Party Round Up on Oh Lardy
      Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Cake (Gluten, Egg, Dairy and Tree Nut free) - The Humbled Homemaker
      Dairy Free Cake Icing - The Humbled Homemaker
      Recipes for a Junk Food Free Kid's Party on The Organic Kitchen


      Monday, April 7, 2014

      A Brief History of Life, the Universe, and Parental Testing

      Content provided by Janice

      There can sometimes be some confusion as to the legitimacy of parental testing. However, the intricate
      history of parental testing is a long and complicated one, with the handling of the topic different in different countries across the world, and the law and science involved in it ever-changing. This makes its history extremely difficult to summarise in one short post. However, we’ll do our best to give you a comprehensive, though thorough, introduction to the practice.

      Blood Type Testing

      The earliest type of parental testing is generally regarded to be blood typing. This is where a small sample of blood is taken from the newly born baby and from the parent whose parenthood is being questioned. The two blood samples are analysed, compared, and a conclusion is drawn as to the link between the child and parent – family or not.

      Unfortunately, two parents with a single particular blood type do not always produce a child with the same blood type. For example, two parents with an O blood type will produce a child with an O blood type. However, parents who both have a B blood type could produce a child with either a B or an O blood type. Therefore, the results gained by this method were often inconclusive.

      Improving the Method

      After a decade or so of highly inaccurate testing, new methods were introduced to improve results. The method brought to market in the 1930s was called serological testing, could use blood and other bodily fluids to ensure to test for parenthood. Although the method was a slight improvement over the original, it wasn’t until the 60s that a true revolution and significant improvement in success rate was discovered.

      The Birth of DNA Testing

      DNA testing established itself as the main method of parental testing in the 1960s, by a method that allowed scientists to analyse the genetic fingerprints of white blood cells in both the child and the parent under scrutiny. By the 1990s, this method was achieving a success rate of 80-90%, and today, the success rate is in the region of 99.99%, as a result of further scientific iteration.

      Today, parental testing is a much quicker, simpler and cost-effective procedure than it was at the beginning of the 20th century. With companies such as EasyDNA able to take DNA samples and analyse them within days, there’s no reason why anybody can’t have access to accurate, effective parental tests from reputable companies.

       photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc


      Friday, April 4, 2014

      The Importance of Posture During Pregnancy

      In the West, we have largely let go of the natural postures of man. Squatting, kneeling, sitting close to the floor… We have invented more comfortable ways of sitting that are far from how primitive man would spend most of his day.
      Sitting with your knees in a 90 degree angle, reclining… these are all things unknown in traditional societies.

      While these postures may be more comfortable, and certainly less taxing on our muscles, they are also unhealthy.
      Specifically for pregnant mothers sitting, reclining and lying in sofas is counterproductive for a good positioning of your baby.

      Obviously, in first trimester and even throughout your pregnancy, you may be feeling a little overrun and need extra rest. That's ok.

      Here is a series of things you can do to optimise your posture and thus your baby's positioning (it is also said that correct posture can prevent placenta preavia).

      Sit on a birthing ball. This changes the angle of your knees, cradles your belly between your legs, slightly stretches the hip and is a dynamic pose versus the static position you would adopt on a chair. You don't need to invest in an expensive birthing ball. Nowadays, you can get an exercise ball in any self respecting sports shops, for any budget. Just make sure to select one that is sturdy enough to support your weight at the end of your pregnancy.

      Walk a lot. Walking is great exercise and entices your baby to adopt the correct position for birth, plus the motion is relaxing for both you and your baby. However, when walking, make sure you adopt a correct posture. if you're waddling, then you're not positioning your back and hips correctly. Don't overarch your back and keep your toes pointed more or less forward.

      When resting, lie on your left side, either with one knee up or with both knees pulled up together. You can make use of pillows (or a body pillow) if that makes you more comfortable. Imagine your belly as a cradle for your baby. Lying on the left side presents the optimal position for birth to your baby, plus it relieves the weight of your baby from your carotid artery, optimising blood flow throughout your body.

      Make squatting part of your daily routine. When going to the bathroom, get a little step to put your feet up, this will facilitate your transit and reduce the risk of haemorrhoids and constipation. Read how you can make squatting part of your routine in this article. Squatting again cradles the belly and strengthens the muscles of the legs and buttocks, which you will need during birth. It also favours a correct position of the spine, as the angle of the legs prevents overarching.

      Move a lot. Do different types of exercise, but only those you like. If you're a runner, continue, if you like to swim, do so. Yoga and pilates are also highly recommended in pregnancy. Even if you're new to yoga, you can start with a couple of simple poses. There are quite a few yoga poses that are interesting to use in labor. I can highly recommend the DVD Pregnancy Health Yoga with Tara Lea.

      Adopting a good posture in pregnancy will lower your risk at discomforts like joint pain and back pain and will allow your baby to set into his ideal birthing position.

      photo credit: nexus6 via photopin cc