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Encouraging Thankfulness In Children

thankfulness in children

I remember quite clearly being twelve, my mother had been in hospital for a long time. A family from school had been helping to care for my brother and I after school and overnight. So too had a neighbour who had lost her own young son, and whom we had only just met. An unexpected visit home from hospital brought my mother, stepfather, brother and I to the house of some wonderfully kind friends for Christmas, where we all opened Christmas gifts which had somehow made it to their house.

In amongst all the excitement of present unwrapping, both my brother and I were gifted hand knitted dolls, a girl and a boy, from our great grandmother, Nanna. These gifts were wonderful, even at the ages of nearly twelve and nearly ten. Our friend’s children felt less satisfied with their gifts and complained about the colours, the sizes and that things weren’t exactly what they had asked for at all.

Since becoming a parent, I have often pondered and have asked my own Mamma, how did she raise us to be appreciative, for us not to question gifts and to be so very thankful for what we were given? Some days, when I feel my own four children are less than appreciative of what we as parents help them with, but are also not quite so tolerant of their own siblings or of what other families struggle with on a day to day basis, it makes me question even more so how my own mother raise us to be thankful? There is a world’s difference between being able to say thank you and being thankful.

Encouraging children to count their blessings can mean that they feel happier about life in general, that they have greater self-esteem, hope and optimism; and moreover more positive attitudes towards school and family in general. Continue reading Encouraging Thankfulness In Children

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The Mud Kitchen

mud kitchen

In the Spring, when we move into the house, we take down the six foot fence which runs bizarrely though the middle of a flower bed and extends nearly half way down the garden. Daylight floods the garden and we find another two or three feet of land which is also ours, plus a hedge struggling to survive in the gloom. I cut back the hedge and save all the beautifully straight lengths of wood. I pack them tightly all together, tall and strong, in endless odd buckets rowed up along the patio. The children ask me what they are all for. I tell them I have a plan.

We find a long established and sturdy bay tree in amongst many other shrubs at one end of the old fence, near to the house. I shape and cut away all the under branches and make a space, a cosy hidey hole, a den, just big enough for my little people to get into. This space is part of my plan.

We are out the back playing, when my friend calls to say he is at a local wood store and there are pallets going for free if we would like some? He thinks he can fit two into the back of his car for us and drop them round. I am so excited. I have been trying to lay my hands on a couple of pallets for a while now. I have plans for them too.

The pallets arrive and they are so pretty, perfectly matching, easy to line up and nail together one on top of the other. I ask the little fella if he would like to have an insect house in his under the bay tree den? He and the girls spend hours bundling up the long, straight sticks, gathering just the right pine cones from my collection and stuffing each of the little sections of the pallet with extra things they scavenge from the garden. Our insect house is looking packed full and just ready for a whole army of little creatures to move into our under-the-bay-tree shady spot. Continue reading The Mud Kitchen

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Food Growing For Plant Killers

I love to grow food. There’s something amazing about creating a dish around food that has grown through your attention. I love to garden.

But as much as I love to garden and grow my own food, I am very sporadic about it, to say the least. As with my many passions in life, I go through cycles of things, and gardening is one of them. I’ll have a week where I’m set on attacking a part of my yard, and do so with great conviction… But the next week, I’m into crochet or drawing or golf. I don’t easily stick to things. And with my busy mind, I’ve murdered more than one plant.

If you’re like me and plants shun your existence, how do you grow food that will actually end up on your plate? Continue reading Food Growing For Plant Killers

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Coping with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Naturally

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease sounds pretty scary, but actually it’s a relatively harmless virus which is self-limiting and therefore burns itself out within a week or two. Saying that, it’s incredibly unpleasant and can affect children and adults in varying severities. Treatment is usually rest, as there are no conventional medicines available to control it.

The first sign is a fever or temperature.  This is then followed by a general feeling of being unwell, exhaustion, and finally spots. Lots of spots! The spots look like pimples, and they disappear when pressed with a glass.

We had an outbreak of Hand Foot and Mouth recently. My son caught it before I did. As soon as I saw the spotty rash on his hands I took him to the GP who confirmed Hand Foot and Mouth and sent us home for bed rest with pain relief. Continue reading Coping with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Naturally

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Learning to speak – one of life’s miracles

Learning to speak

Life’s greatest miracles happen in the first there years. That is certainly the impression you can have as parent. Birth – wow! The absolute miracle of this little being full of life. Then in the first weeks and months the eyes and facial expressions come to life, so full of love and trust – they are enthralling and enrapturing. Then after the first year, grasping hold of the physical body, the child stands upright and makes those first steps.

Following those first steps, another momentous stride takes place: learning to speak! At one year your baby will most likely just be experimenting with a few one syllable ‘words’, quite definite about what they mean but you may be scratching your head. How we’ve all listened in spell-bound charm as our toddlers emphatically say something like, ‘mmaah’, ‘daahh’, ‘nnaah’, twice, thrice, perhaps pointing to your nose to make clear to us unintelligent adults what is meant.

The profound significance of the mother tongue

By 2½ years we ‘suddenly’ become aware our child is speaking in sentences, giving expressions to joys, pains, observations – experiences of his inner self can now be communicated. Naturally this is still in simple form, but the foundations are there – for life. We adults have a hard time with new languages – all those vocabulary lists to learn, the verb conjugations, the intonations, etc. And it all comes naturally for the child. Continue reading Learning to speak – one of life’s miracles

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How To Cope With Sleep Deprivation After Birth

A newborn’s first instinct is to feed and sleep in a pattern and quantity that varies from baby to baby. It is impossible to predict how a baby will adjust to life outside the womb and what to expect, as every experience can vary greatly. This means each parent must be flexible and patient during those first few weeks.

I remember laying in my hospital bed following birth, my son swaddled comfortably in the crib next to me, just a few hours old. He slept all the way through the night and I didn’t sleep a wink because I was so eager to ensure his safety and wellbeing. We have evolved to instinctively protect our young and be on guard, which makes relaxing difficult from the offset.

After returning home, he began waking every hour for milk and cuddles, which I was thrilled to give him, but exhausted responding to his regular needs.

During that challenging time, I developed some ‘survival tricks’ in order to keep my energy up and maintain some sanity. Continue reading How To Cope With Sleep Deprivation After Birth

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Parenting Peacefully In Tough Times

peaceful parenting in tough times

Life at the moment feels as if is going at a pace, racing ahead and away from me. Smoothing over the up and downs in friendships, keeping up with the demands which school and work bring, wanting to pull everyone just that little bit closer.

It has got me thinking about just stepping back and reflecting on how I can make this parenting journey that I am on a peaceful one. I made a conscious decision many moons ago to parent without confrontation, without argument and without being authoritarian. Sometimes, when life gets fraught and we lose our way with it all, it is good to remind ourselves why we choose to parent peacefully.

Recognising that our role as parents is to hold that place of safety round our children.

Understanding that little things are big things, huge things even, to little people.

Developing positive attachment and affectionate bonds.

Because it is catching! And has an impact on how we all work through. Continue reading Parenting Peacefully In Tough Times

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Homeopathy For More Than Just Teething

As you probably know a baby’s teeth, both the milk teeth and the second set which need to last us a lifetime, all begin developing while our baby is still in the womb. This article is about Homeopathy remedies you can use for teething pain, pain after a visit to the dentist, the discomfort/pain each time braces are adjusted and enamel repair.

Chamomilla and teething babies. Many of you will have already experienced a teething baby and you may have tried the Homeopathic remedy Chamomilla. This remedy best suits the baby whose teething symptoms include: angry screaming often worse mornings and evenings around 9 o’clock; one cheek an angry red the other pale; nappies may be filled with a looser and greenish tinged poo; and most importantly a baby needing Chamomilla is difficult to please, contrary is the term we homeopaths use. You will observe your baby wants to be picked up, carried or rocked quite vigorously and then wants to be put down, wants a drink, then refuses it-I am sure you get the picture! If the teething granules do not work, yet your baby has these symptoms, ask a homeopath for Chamomilla  30c or 200c. If this remedy is the right one for your baby, the results will be seen within seconds! If not, ask the homeopath for a different remedy. In homeopathy there is no “pill for an ill”, remedies need to be suitable for the individuality of symptoms. Continue reading Homeopathy For More Than Just Teething

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A Positive Approach To Pregnancy After Loss

**Trigger – baby loss. Please be kind to yourself before reading on**

There were many things I wished for after I discovered I was having a baby. A stable home, good maternity pay, an easy birth, even a sickness-free first trimester! But above all, I wished for a healthy pregnancy and the safe delivery of my perfect baby.

I wasn’t so lucky.

Many women like myself face one of the greatest personal tragedies imaginable: pregnancy loss.

This can happen early on in the form of a miscarriage, or, less commonly, after 24 weeks which is known as stillbirth. Either way, loss is always heartbreaking and intensely emotional.

My son was stillborn at 40 weeks. His name was Elijah, and my husband and I buried him a week after he was born. The grief that followed was limitless, and every aspect of recovery was difficult for both of us.

Then six months later, I found out I was expecting again. This time, instead of thinking about good maternity pay or a sickness free first-trimester, I wished only to make it through to the end of the pregnancy without killing my baby – something that felt entirely impossible. I was terrified beyond measure and set myself up for failure. Continue reading A Positive Approach To Pregnancy After Loss

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Of Walking and Wonder

There are always particular moments that stand out in the early years of our children that fill one with wonder, amazement and joy all combined. One such moment is those first tentative steps of the toddler, maybe around a year or a little more. You watch, eyes wide open, mouth dropping open in astonishment, as you see your little one letting go its hold of something, looking at you with eyes also wide open and sparkling, as if to say, ‘Here goes! I can do it!’

I still remember a remark in a physics textbook back in college days, in a section which analysed the mechanics of muscle movements. The writer had it all explained, adding a cynical comment on the illogic and ineffectiveness of the human upright design that it takes a whole year to stand. The implication: we should have  stayed on all fours. I suppose he wanted to sound cleverer than the forces that created us. I felt like saying, ‘I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to stay crawling!’ But he must not have had children, experiencing the awe and joy of such moments for the child, taking its first steps in front of you… Continue reading Of Walking and Wonder

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When A Grandparent Dies: A Reflection

Broaching the subject of death is something that we hesitate about doing, yet is an inescapable part of life. I was not expecting to do it this summer. When Granny was taken into hospital unexpectedly and all they could do was to keep her comfortable, we realised that our children were going to lose a grandparent and that we needed to talk about it.

We agonised over how much to tell them: explaining something like this to our children depends very much on our own experiences, our own beliefs and our own feelings. I was amazed by what they already knew, their misconceptions, their feelings and their worries. Our big girls had it worked out from our body language already. Continue reading When A Grandparent Dies: A Reflection

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Tips for Safe and Effective Co-Sleeping

Before I gave birth to my son, I decided that I would not be co-sleeping with him. I bought a crib and placed it next to my bed and produced a sleeping schedule that I felt was realistic for when I brought home my newborn.

Little did I know just how challenging newborns can be and the dramatic effects sleep deprivation would have on my mental and physical wellbeing.

Five days after birth, I hadn’t slept for more than one solid hour at a time. I was so exhausted, drenched in milk and sore from my caesarean section that bedtime soon became a sorry routine of tears, headaches and despair. My son wasn’t sleeping well and as a result I wasn’t either.

One miserable afternoon, I was laying on my bed with my baby and as he fell asleep during a feed, I dared to close my eyes just for a minute, only to wake four hours later to the sound of my sons happy gurgles. It was the longest sleep either of us had had all week. He clearly felt safe enough to sleep for longer, and instead of crying, he woke happy and rested. That’s when I changed my mind and decided to co-sleep, and it stayed that way for six whole months. Continue reading Tips for Safe and Effective Co-Sleeping