How Do You Cultivate a Conscience in Your Child?

When I was a child in school my mother used to sign my homework diary weeks in advance. It used to frustrate my teachers no end. They did not understand that my mom trusted me to get the work done and saw no reason to check up on my daily tasks. My mother had cultivated a conscience in her child and had given me the gift of intrinsic motivation. I often wondered how she did it. Coming across this book “Motivate Your Child” has been a blessing because not only did it answer some of those questions, but it also supported its claims with Scripture.

 

The book starts out by distinguishing between three levels of thinking 1) about yourself 2) others 3) God. Obviously a toddler pretty much operates on level number one, but we can start showing him or her to consider others, and even God, even at that early stage. I talk to Nicky about not hurting the dog. I expose him to church and we read our baby bible books. I’m “putting it out there” in the hopes that on some level he will absorb it.

The other main point they bring to our attention is the difference between internal and external motivation.

Colossians 3:23 contrasts external motivation with internal motivation: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Mom talked about what that meant for their family. She said, “When you do something with all your heart, it means that your motivation to get things done comes from inside you, not from Mom or Dad telling you what to do.”

Parenting has for far too long relied on behaviour modification, much like Pavlov and the dog. It might work, but it creates selfishness. It creates a mindset of “What’s in it for me?” It also doesn’t work for strong willed kids who will often go their own way no matter what you bribe them with.

But how do we instill that internal motivation? Here are the points I have gleamed from this book in answer to that question: (Sections in italics are taken from the book.)

1. Empowering Statements.

– When faced with sibling rivalry, say: “Remember, brothers love each other.”We would say it when they were in conflict. We would say it when they were having fun together. We said it when they went out the door to play with friends. ‘Remember, brothers love each other.’ We were committed to developing a belief in their little minds about how brothers were to respond to one another. The Bible, in Romans 12:10, says, ‘Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.’ Our boys didn’t always demonstrate love to each other as they were growing up, but they knew that loving each other was the right thing to do. Today, they’re grown men and they really do love each other.

– For attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder:  As you might imagine, these children can be magnets for correction. Dad realized that his words to his son were strategic as he coached him in life every day, many times a day. He and his wife developed a list of things they would say to their son to help him stay on track. The list was made up of statements they wanted him to say to himself, and included things such as, “Slow motion.” “Quiet voice.” “Think before you speak.” “Maybe you need to take a break.” “Manage your energy.” Their approach provided a positive way to keep their son moving toward the goal of developing self-control in his life.

-When your child doesn’t want to work, and you’re always saying “Have fun today!” change your wording to: “Do the right thing” or “Work hard today”.

– A clear action point and instructions: instead of “I’m going out soon and you need to get your shoes on,” say : “Sammy, you need to get your shoes on now.”

THEN if he still doesn’t listen: “Sammy, you’re not obeying me. You need to get up now.” The close proximity raises the felt value of the instruction, and Mom’s presence makes Sammy feel uncomfortable.

It’s not the consequence that will eventually change Sammy’s heart. It’s the continual practice of associating an instruction with an uncomfortable feeling that produces conscience development.

-Showing how you live in God’s grace: You might say to your daughter who is headed out the door, “I’ll be praying for you today as you try to work out that problem with your friend,” or to your son as you leave for the office, “Son, would you please pray for me? I’m not feeling too well, and I have an important meeting at work.” 

2. Kid’s Tools to Help

-Concrete reminders: If your four year old forgets to put his clothes away, put a piece of yarn on the doorknob. Then instead of referring to the clothes, you focus on the yarn. The idea is to cultivate that internal reminder rather than the actual clothes.

-For teens you can say “What’s your plan?” For instance when a teen doesn’t want to do chores then you can say:

“I want to give you some freedom to help decide your schedule, but if you can’t do what you said you will do, then you’ll lose the privilege of deciding when you’ll do it. If you give me a plan and stick to it, you’re demonstrating integrity by doing what you said you would do. That’s a sign of maturity. If you don’t do what you say, then you’re going to lose the privilege of helping determine when you’re going to do the job.” If the problem persists, then, as a parent, you may have to require that she clean up the kitchen immediately after dinner, with the understanding that if she does it with a good attitude, you may allow her to help determine the schedule next time.

(This ties into chapter six about the advantages of integrity that you can share with your child. Trust is earned and can allow you more freedom).

-For every put down, find three ways to build each other up. I liked this one.

First Thessalonians 5:11 says, ‘Encourage one another and build each other up.’ That’s a good verse for our family. We’re going to work on that. If you punch or put down your brother, then you’re going to have to do some building-up exercises. You’ll need to think of three ways you can build up your brother, write them down, do them, and report to us.”

– Teach them how to give a wise appeal if they don’t agree with you:

A wise appeal has three parts. First, start with acknowledging the parent’s concern by saying something like, “I understand you want me to . . . because . . .” Then express your own desire by saying something like, “But I have a problem with that because . . .” End by giving an alternative that somehow offers a solution for the parent and for the child in the form of a new idea or compromise of some sort.

3. How to handle mistakes:

I think we all hate being corrected and kids are no different. The key is to use it as an opportunity for growth, rather than shame.

I love the example they give of a card game. Using the card game pairs, every time you don’t get a pair you have to say “Oops. I was wrong. I can learn from that.” They also have “Ouch” cards for when you’ve hurt someone, and there you have to say: “Oops. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”

The book outlines a three step process where you ask the child 1) What did you do wrong? 2) Why? 3) What are you going to do differently next time? If they don’t admit to any wrong doing you can ask what percentage of the problem was theirs and focus on that. The passage of how Peter betrayed Jesus three times and then how Jesus asked if he loved Him three times shows how Jesus wanted Peter to move on from the mistakes.

4. Parent’s Toolbox of Consequences

Parents these days have to have various options at their disposal to handle children. There certainly isn’t a “once size fits all” solution to every problem. What works on one child may not work on another.  Here are some ideas from the book:

– Natural consequences: You left your coat behind, you’re going to be cold now.

-Logical consequences: This is when the parent sees the coat and wants to keep it, but still have some kind of consequence, so they make the kid wear the old coat for a week.

-Loss of privilege: This is an effective one as a teacher. Kid plays with stationery? Take it away. What I do with Nicky is take something away and explain to him that he can have it back only if he doesn’t hit the dog with it etc. Then I watch him.

-More parental control: Again, this ties into Chapter six with integrity (more integrity = less need to watch), but especially with little ones you just have to give them lots of time and attention.

(I’m going to add my own extra points here, not in the book, but what I’ve learnt from Laura Markham on Time Ins. Basically the idea is to spend time with your child and be there for them to help process the big emotions. Especially for toddlers who don’t have the ability to think logically, they just need you to be there and help manage them. I had a huge meltdown the other night because Nicky wanted to carry on playing with the IPad and I wanted him to come have a bath. I took him crying to the bathroom and explained to him how I wanted us to be on time to fetch dad later and all ready. He actually seemed to understand although he was still crying. To comfort him further I took him into the bath and played with the bubbles – he likes to use his feet to “draw” with the bubbles. Then we had a fun time in the bath.

Another technique I want to add from play therapy is ACT: acknowledge feelings “I know you wanted to carry on playing” Consider Limits: “But it’s bath time now” Target Alternatives: “We can play on the IPad after the bath, and until then we can have fun splashing in the bath.”)

5. Leading by example

The family is a great place to learn about faith when parents model a strong faith themselves. You can pass on your faith by building relationships, sharing scriptures and practicing your faith. Family Bible studies are suggested. If you share how the Bible has spoken to you, then you can get them to try and read and listen to God too. There are a lot of kid’s Bibles and prayer books out there.

One mom was helping her son deal with his anger and said, “I think God placed a passage in the Bible just for you.” When he gave her a puzzled look, she said, “Check out Ephesians 4:31–32.” He looked it up, and it said, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” They discussed together the six different types of anger named in that passage, and Mom used that opportunity to help her son understand that when he chose to avoid anger and chose kindness instead, he was being like God. What an awesome thought for an eight-year-old. 

Building relationship can be aided by taking initiative – find out what your child’s interests are and focus on them – and being responsive – being on the lookout for moments to connect. In today’s hectic life a lot of connection can happen in the car travelling around. Nicky and his dad have a great time in the mornings in the car sharing their breakfast.

 

There are a lot of ideas in this book on how to create that level three connection with God. One story I liked was when a family was having a meal at a table and dad was late. They spoke about the empty chair and one child piped up that Jesus was sitting in the empty chair because He is always with us. They actually went and hugged the chair and even sat on his “lap”.

There was no doubt, no question, no analyzing the situation. God came to dinner that night, and they welcomed him with open arms and taught their mom a thing or two in the process. Before I was a mom, I knew that I would have a lot to teach my children, but I’m learning more every day how much they have to teach me.

MYC2 Get $150 of free parenting materials when you order before 31 January.

Purchase the book from any retailer. Send an email with MYC150 Promo in the subject line with a receipt of purchase to gift@biblicalparenting.org. Biblical Parenting will send you the link and a special code to access these downloadable video, audio and written products.

The bonuses are along a similar theme to what is in the book:

-the power of a clear conscience video, mp3, study guide (following on the theme of integrity)

-hero training camp lesson: for 3-12 year olds – a conscience development program for kids

-a toolbox of consequences video, mp3, study guide

-children’s program: correction is like buried treasure

-glorious speech talk

-strong willed child article

-make devotions fun audio

Get it on Amazon on the link at the top or on Kalahari.

*This post was sponsored by Motivate My Child through Business to Blogger.*

Here we go again… (Visit to the Fertility Doc)

waiting room

(Image courtesy of Microsoft/ Bing)

I was sitting in the waiting room of the fertility clinic. It was nearly my turn to go in and I felt a familiar lurch of my stomach.  Getting on the infertility rollercoaster again can be nauseating. You never know what’s going to happen. You are entirely at the mercy of your body. However, I’ve learnt a few things on my previous ride. Everything started going right for me last time when I went to Medfem and saw Dr R. So I’m starting in the right place this time, hopeful and prayerful that Nicky can have a sibling.

It was reassuring that he remembered me and my miracle situation last time (getting pregnant right before IVF). The laparoscopy and the thyroid meds did the trick.

However, that was back in 2011. Time has not been kind to my reproductive organs. I’m turning 41 in March.

Dr R did a scan and showed me that my uterus looks fine, but my ovaries are small. This means that I don’t have many eggs left. He said that a full blown IVF would be a waste of time because apparently you need “numbers” for that. And I don’t have the “numbers”.

So what do we do now?

We hope for natural conception while doing a whole lot of detective work to set things up for a best case scenario.

And tests. A whole lot of tests. I have to go and do:

1) Fasting test for insulin, TSH, Free T4, Thyroid antibodies, and Prolactin (to check if the breastfeeding is affecting things, but he seemed to think not)

2) Day 3 of my cycle: FSH, 17-B Oestradiol

3) Day 10 come in for a scan

4)  Test (to check for endometriosis)

Well folks, here’s hoping for another miracle…

Tips for Using Reusable Food Pouches.

pros and cons for using reusable food pouches A long time ago I came across an American blog post that talked about pouches that you could use again and again instead of the store bought ones. The blogger was very excited and did a mass production of food in her pouches for her little one. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if there was something similar in South Africa? If you are going to use them, however, you need to learn from my experience and implement my tips for using reusable food pouches.

Buying food pouches is expensive. At Pick ‘n Pay, there are two options:

Squish Baby: about R6

Ella’s Kitchen 20.99 or 14.90 (depending on size).

I like food pouches because they are a good thing to have in the car when you are on the go. They keep a little one fed and happy on a day where you have to travel between several places.

So I was thrilled when I was contacted by Reusable Food Pouches to review their product. The distribute Sinchies, an Australian product, which conforms to that country’s high standards of being PVA, BPA and phthalates free.

Even more exciting, I was getting a whole lot of recipes with the pouches to try out.

morning mixture in your pouch nicky-and-pouch I started off with “Morning Fuel”, which consists of milk, yoghurt, banana, apple, pear, weetbix and cinnamon. I was so into it I decided to double the quantities and make a huge batch. Nicky had a little. I left them in the fridge for a few days and gave them to him again.

Big mistake.

I forgot that these pouches contain milk. The milk went off. We had to throw them out, but not before I had let him taste one.

malibu I then tried “Malibu Macedone”,  which contained pineapple.

Nicky did not want any.

peachy A week later I tried again with “Peachy”. This involved using peaches from a tin (which can’t go off).

Again, he would not even try it. I guess he had a good memory.

I decided to leave it for a longer period. Christmas passed and we were into the new year.

choc-mint-pouch I also decided to concoct something sweet. (Nicky loves sweet stuff). I did “Mint Choc” which has cacao powder. It really tastes delicious. I could not find mint essence so I landed up using chocolate and mint vermicelli sprinkles.

slurp-that-was-nice-reusable-pouches I also gave it to him after he woke up from a nap and I knew he would be hungry. I had one for myself to eat. He is always wanting things if I eat them.

Success! He liked it.

I think if you are going to use reusable food pouches, it is worthwhile to bear the following tips in mind:

-Make just enough that your kid will actually eat within two days, or else freeze them. You cannot leave them in a hot car. What you can do is pack them, frozen, in a cooler with ice bricks.

-When using your mixer, get someone else to take your kid to the other side of the house if he is scared of loud noises. Or else take an extension chord and do it outside during nap time (or the end of nap time in case it still wakes him up). Nicky hates loud noises. I have just gotten him to the point where he can tolerate the vacuum but the food processor still gets shrieks of distress. Ashley from Reusable Food Pouches suggests using a stick blender which will make less noise.

-The nice thing about the pouches is that you are in complete control of what goes into them and can avoid the processed, sugar filled option.

-If your child is used to eating sugary pouches, however, you might want to start off with a sweet temptation.  Fruit or the mint choc may work well.

-There are so many options out there to put in your pouches. This post recommends apple sauce.

toddler pouring using a funnel -A funnel may help but you don’t really need one. There is a slit at the top (like a zip lock bag) where you can pour or spoon your mixture into. Nicky had fun doing water play with the Sinchies funnel which is also collapsible.

-For cleaning you can use all the brushes you have been using for your bottles. A little brush is needed to clean the narrow folds. For drying I propped it up on cutlery so that it could air out well.

-There are special caps you can get which are larger (“anti-choke lids”), if you are worried about your little one swallowing a small lid.

-There are other uses for these pouches – such as salad dressing for your lunch.

-You will save money if you use these pouches instead of the store bought ones.

In conclusion I would say that reusable pouches are an excellent option if you are aware of the pros and cons. With good organisation they can be a healthy, economical snack.

*This post is not sponsored but I did receive free products to review.*

 

 

Handling Toddler Tantrums

how to handle a toddler tantrum Toddler tantrums are actually a desperate cry for help when all other communication has failed. When you are a toddler you don’t have the words to express your feelings, your brain has not developed logical thinking and you cannot deal with big emotions so this is bound to happen at some point. Emotions just don’t fit the verbal skills and when pointing and grunting won’t do it, a meltdown just has to be the way out.

Incidently, toddlers are not the only ones who have tantrums. Teenagers have them too. This is because of their hormones. The hallmark ages for tantrums, according to Barbara Coloroso, the author of “Kids are Worth it”, is 2, 5 and puberty.

Nicky has been having tantrums for quite some time now and I have come to the following conclusion. All you can do is Connect with him and Detect what is wrong so that you will know better for next time. Plus give yourself some blessed “me-time” or else you will really go nuts.

 

1. Connect

I normally pick him up to try and calm him down. I try and figure out what he wants and follow that pointing finger.

Sometimes he is so worked up the holding and the calming don’t work. (This is normally because of the sleep factor)

If you are still breastfeeding like me, the boob works wonders. It calms them down right there and then. If you have other sleep calming substitutes – like a dummy, blanket or favourite toy, that will also help. Nicky loves his cars.

The most important thing here is to show the child that you are there for him or her. Just be there. If you are present and open to figuring out what the problem is, you are halfway there. Tell him “I know you are angry and frustrated. But I am here and I’m going to try and help in any way I can.”

If you are in a public place like a grocery shop you will probably just want to get out of there as soon as possible. It also helps to give them a choice or responsible task e.g. “Can you help me find the milk, then we can go?” “Do you want the red juice or the yellow juice?”

2. Detect

When you are in the midst of a tantrum you can do nothing but power through it, and take notes so that next time you can prevent it. Although it isn’t always possible if you have to wake a sleeping toddler…

Here are possible reasons for the tantrum:

-Tired: The number one possible reason is they are sleep deprived or sleep interrupted. Yesterday Nicky refused to nap all day. Then when I went to fetch B from work he fell asleep in the car straight away (even though I had been trying all afternoon to get him to sleep). When we came back and I took him out the car there was a massive tantrum. In retrospect, I should have put him straight to sleep. I just had this feeling he needed food first. I was wrong. He cried his little heart out and got himself so worked up I struggled to calm him down. Eventually I gave him boob and he fell asleep. No food was eaten but since he had had yoghurt beforehand I guess it lasted and he slept the whole night. I was amazed. But I should have listened to him from the beginning.

-Hungry: We have had midnight snacks sometimes in the night because I haven’t given him enough supper. This does not happen often. But if you have been on the go at the shops it helps to have snacks as well to keep the little ones going.

-Thirsty: We had a tantrum the other night because his water had been left behind in the bathroom. I had no clue what he was going on about but he was pointing and crying. I was adamant that we were having no more biscuits and it was bed time but he kept crying and pointing until I opened the door so he could fetch his water. Pour little Nicky, I should have listened earlier.

-I want something (e.g. favourite toy). Nicky loves to take a toy car along with him. I’m sure your child has a favourite toy he will have a tantrum about.

-I’m feeling excluded. When I do an activity with my back to him e.g. at the computer, busy in the kitchen, he can’t see what’s going on and feels left out. So now I let him “wash dishes” e.g. do water play next to me, throw veggies in the pot after I cut them and look at my Facebook feed with me.

3. Mom’s me time. I think the most important thing as a mom is to have confidence in yourself that you can handle it. It is very easy to get swept up in the tantrum and on occasion find yourself crying as well. Remind yourself that you can do this. Laura had a good post on three steps to handle a tantrum – something about locking yourself in the bathroom, having a swig of wine, putting on your helmet and getting back out there again! It is important to make sure that you are nourished, and that you are looking after yourself, or else you won’t be able to handle it either. This is why I am typing this out at “Little Ots” where someone else is looking after my kid so that I can have a break even if he decides not to have a nap.

Like I always tell Nicky as he navigates difficult things: “You can totally do this!”

23 Kids Play Areas in Johannesburg Where Mom Can Relax

23 places to take your kids in joburg while you relax There recently was a thread on the Mamahood Gauteng group about a mom looking for places for her 16 month old toddler to play. I thought I would collect the list of places as a reference for moms who want to relax or work while their kids play.

 

I have put this list into two groups: those I have been to and those I haven’t. The latter are recommended by other Gauteng mothers.

Place We Have Visited:

1. Primi at Lifestyle – It is a restaurant where you can sit while your kids play. They also have a TV set up with cartoons. I also went there when Nicky was a baby and they had nappy changing facilities too.

2. Bambanani in Melville. This place is amazing. They have lots of child minders and there is a huge climbing structure plus a little “shop” where they can pretend to buy things. I went there when Nicky was under two years but he sat and did some activity at a table with a child minder. They also had pottery on the go for older kids. When you get the bill for the food you can also tip the child minders as well.

3. Free Range Lifestyle – I have blogged about this awesome place – it has such nice food, coffee, bakery and shops – including an educational toy shop. You can sit right next to the 0-3 year old area. The older age group is in a different section.

4. Spur. I have been to Cresta and Brightwater Commons. Brightwater Commons has an upstairs room which even has rock climbing. They had some cool vehicles to play on – Nicky loved that. Cresta has a smaller area but it is closer to where you are sitting. They have colouring in and face painting. Nicky liked the face painting. There is an awesome structure that you climb on. Although they do have child minders, I left him alone for brief periods so I could eat and then came back.

5. Aroma Cafe at Montecasino. I think this works for a lot of ages. Nicky always grabs a scooter and rides around. There is sand, trampoline and jungle gyms. There are child minders there as well.

6. Kidzworld at Blackheath. This is a huge play area with castles, tunnel slides and trampolines. You can sit on different sides. I found on the one side you couldn’t really see where your kid was between all the play things. On the Spur side it was more open but I still had to go and give Nicky (around two years old) attention and help the whole time. He refused to go down the tube slide without me watching right there! (So no child minders). I think this is still a great venue though. (On the other side they did have scooters!)

7. River Cafe at the Field and Study Centre. Lots of areas to play, jumping castle, huge sand pit… and yes, scooters. I did have to keep jumping up and down though – no child minders.

8. The Pear Tree in Craighall- they do your hair and nails. They have a yoga/ pilates studio but I’m not sure when it is starting. The coffee shop is situated a level above the play area so it is kind of separate but you can still see your kid. I blogged about it here.  They do have child minders on duty and free wifi.

9. Little OTs. I just found this last week. It is in Fountainebleau village. There is a coffee shop and two play areas. They also have a TV. Also a drop and shop if your kid is older than four. Their website is  here. Free wifi as well. I will update this entry with more information once I’ve actually been there. UPDATE: We love this place. Have been there three times now and I get two hours of work done while someone else looks after my kid. We have sandwiches and tea, Nicky has an Oros.

10. If you want to look at farm animals as well, visit the Krazy Kidz Farmyard. I blogged about that here.

 

Recommended by other Gauteng moms: (with their comments)

 

11. Orange Tangos at Heathway

12. Mikes Kitchen in Bryanston apparently has excellent child minders.

13. D’Oude Werf in Broadacres

14. Smile Cafe in Cedar. Commentator made this statement on Facebook: “But I don’t like it for my one year old because the big kids push her around and you don’t sit with the kids, you just see them on big screens. But maybe your toddler would fair better.”

15. The Oak Leaf Country Restaurant

16. Picolinos on Witkoppen road. Commentator says : “just after the buzz shopping center, a complete separate area for kiddies with child minders and lots of activities and they do yummy pizzas”.

17. Pannetone at Zoo Lake. Commentator says:  “lovely play area with child minders and good food and view of cricket fields”.

18. iPlay in Randpark Ridge. Commentator describes how to get there: “Just across the road from Randpark Ridge Mall entrance, next door to optometrist.”

19. Jimmy Jungles in Greenstone Mall.  Commentator says: “Took my now 2 1/2 year old son there when he was about 14 months old. There is a wonderful area for the little ones with all the noisy toys, ball pond and a lovely jungle gym and the child minders are awesome. When we were there it was 45/hour + u can sit and have coffee and eats.”

20. Mami Paradiso Centre Commentator says:  “I haven’t been there yet, but want to go soon – it looks amazing! Restaurant with play area PLUS places to do nails, hair and massages while they look after your kiddies!! Sounds like heaven..”

21. Something Country in Muldersdrift.

22. Harvard Cafe at Grand Central Airport in Midrand.

23. Papachinnos. (Midrand recommended)

*This list is by no means exhausted. I welcome your comments and suggestions in the form of feedback on these places as well as any other places you recommend.*

24. I just remembered Annica’s in Ferndale. They have an outside area where you can sit. What is nice is that the jungle gyms are close so you can call out your encouraging remark to get your kid down the slide and still hear the conversation.

 

Taking a Two Year old to a Memorial Service

two-year-old-at-memorial-service A relative of my husband had passed away so we went to the memorial service. Although it started at 11:30am I wasn’t that worried about nap time since for the past few days he hasn’t been sleeping in the day at all (apart from yesterday which was a very late nap). I knew he could stay awake. The more important question was: would he behave?

We sat one row from the back and initially Nicky was very quiet. (Probably looking around at the novelty of a new place). As proceedings began I hit on the idea of feeding him with cookies from my bag to keep him occupied. That only lasted for so long.

I gave him a car to play with. The problem with that is that he started making “broom-broom” noises to go with the movement of the car and also throwing it at the people behind us, who very kindly picked it up.

Everyone stood up to sing the first hymn (The Lord is My Shepherd) and he got very distressed. He doesn’t like me standing up in church and prefers someone sitting down with him so I sat and sang.

As the preacher started talking seriously, he stood up and made a noise, which was our cue to leave. I think he lasted pretty well.

We went outside to explore. We climbed up a flight of stairs (which he loves doing) to look around from a higher vantage point.

We then went all the way down and round the corner and found a playground with a jungle gym.

BONUS. PROBLEM SOLVED.

For the rest of the time Nicky climbed on the jungle gym as happy as anything. DH phoned me when the service was over and we went to the hall to have tea and eats. Nicky liked the messy sweet stuff. There was also some water there for him.

Towards the end as the crowds dispersed Nicky had tremendous fun chasing a 4 year old girl (Madison) all over the hall.  DH was chatting to family and we resolved to meet up again sooner rather than later, especially as this is the closest relative in age to Nicky.

After all that running around little Nicky fell fast asleep on the way home.

My advice to you if you are taking a two year old to a memorial service or funeral: sit near the back where you can easily leave if you need to. Look around for a place to play. And chances are, if you are lucky, there might even be other little friends to play with in the end.

Visiting the Crazy Kidz Farmyard

visiting-crazy-kidz-farmyard We are always looking for interesting things to do with Nicky. We have done the zoo and the Lion park many times and wanted something new. DH also only had this last remaining week off and also wanted to do something nice.  I had this idea to go look at farm animals with Nicky and so I did a Google search. I also did not want to drive far so I found something reasonably close, in Kensington B, called Crazy Kidz Farmyard.

When we got there we were thirsty and hungry from driving around so we got some juice and ice-creams from the snack shop. The snack shop basically has drinks, chips, ice-cream and toys. You only pay R25 entrance per child and nothing for the adult unless you are bringing your own snacks or picnic and then it is R10. The assistant there was very friendly and kept a tab for us.

ice-cream We sat down next to a play area set in sand and had our ice-creams. Of course Nicky wanted to eat and play! He found a familiar roundabout where you can sit and push yourself round.

After this he saw a scooter and insisted on taking it with as we went to see the animals.

feeding rabbits with carrots at the touch farm First stop was the rabbits. They gave us a few carrots to feed them with. This was a lot of fun. The only problem is that you have to make sure that the carrot is firmly in the bunny’s mouth before letting go or else it falls behind the log and you have to get it out. Quite a few of them fell down and we repeated the process. guinea-pig When we came back that way later I saw an enterprising guinea pig going behind the log to find a carrot piece. I think this must be a regular occurrence and the animals must learn where the food drops!

ostrich-and-toddler Next we went to see the ostrich and the pony. Nicky did his characteristic arm wave (Like, No Ways!) in amusement when he saw the ostrich. I think the ostrich was amused too.

Right next to the ostrich was the pony. He enjoyed a good head scratch just like our dogs and we took a few pictures.

We then went round the other way and saw roosters, hens and ducks.

chickens We also saw some baby chickens. I saw another hen making a hole in the barrier between itself and the chickens and wondered if it was the mom hen trying to be with her babies. You can see her feathers if you look very carefully to the left of the hen house. My heart went out to her.

trying to hook a trailer onto a scooter After that we went back to the play area. There was also a trampoline. Nicky, being a boy interested in vehicles, went straight for the scooters. He found a little trailer that would hook onto something and tried to make it hook onto the scooters without success. I just smiled because that is the type of thing he likes to do – put things together, and if they have wheels, so much the better.

They have a few playground areas. One is in sand with steel structures and another has a wooden structure. Chldren can choose where they want to play. There are chairs and tables for parents to sit at too.

Finally we paid our bill and went home. We actually did not spend a long time there, which is nice if you want to do something which does not take up your whole day.

(This is not a sponsored post. Views are my own)

A Letter to the Tired Mommy

tired mothers in the middle of the night need to read this

Image courtesy of Microsoft/ Bing

Dear Tired Mommy

I see you there.

Awake in the early hours of the morning.

Your body so wracked with fatigue.

But you keep going.

You keep responding to your child.

This is what true love is.

An action. A verb. An act of love to serve.

To lose your own sleep to help your own child find rest.

**

But it doesn’t feel so noble.

You just feel tired.

You pray for sleep.

You bargain with God.

“Please just give me some rest.”

“Make this child sleep.”

Even though you’re convinced He has more pressing matters at hand.

And perhaps asking the same thing too often is the definition of insanity.

You crave sleep like a drug.

And on nights like these, where, for whatever reason…

Sickness, stuffy nose, sunburn, fever,

Or just plain no reason at all

You wonder if this relentless sleep deprivation will ever end

You think of all those moms whose kids sleep though

And you wonder why you child is not like that

In truth you are so tired it is hard to think straight these days.

***

The nights are long

And the day naps are falling away

Carving out time for yourself becomes an art

You spend time with your child

You involve him in the kitchen

You bring your book as he plays with his toys

But all the time a part of you whispers desperately

“When will he sleep?”

“When will I have that time I need to nourish myself?”

“Or will I just fall asleep myself?”

***

To the tired Mommy in the middle of the night:

You are not alone

There are many moms out there crying the same prayer

Desperate for rest, yet being there for their child.

Instead of crying it out – we wait it out.

For we know that this too shall pass

It seems inconceivable that there will be a time when he will sleep through

But it will happen one day

And then

You will remember fondly

Those nights you were there when he needed you

Instead of the sleep that you lost

Until then hold your little one close

And know

The work you are doing is important

Because one day when he hears someone crying

It will be his turn to care.

Because he learnt it from you.

 

 

 

Lessons from 2014

lessons-from-2014 This past year has been a good one for me. I’ve spent time at home again with my son, which is the best thing I could be doing. I added a regular data capture job to my phoning job. But the best thing has been how my blogging has progressed, and I look forward to even more progression in 2015 as I learn to do it better.

The year started off with for the first time in my blogging history being paid for certain posts (Vanish and Air Wick).

Towards the middle of the year I had a lull in my phoning job and that is when I set up SA Mom blogs. I made an effort to connect with local bloggers and that has truly made a huge difference. Meeting up with bloggers at the JoziMeetups has been awesome, but even more awesome has been the connections made and the growth of the Facebook group, as well as the blogroll. I am so honoured that little old me is to be included in upcoming events and I look forward to the new year. Some bloggers I really enjoyed meeting in person this year were Karen (MomAgain@40),  Laura (Harassed Mom) and Shan (You, Baby and I).

One Step at a Time has also done well this year.

The top posts were:

1) Tapping on my Thyroid (2011)

2) Banting and Fertility

3) Discovery Baby Bag (2011)

4) Free Range Lifestyle Centre

5) Are you with Discovery Medical Aid?

As you can see, two old posts are still doing well. People are still looking for EFT scripts for thyroid problems and want to know what’s in the Discovery baby bag.

Banting and Fertility did really well and gave this blog a spike on 22 Sept with 161 views. I think that is because I tagged Tim Noakes on Twitter and he re-tweeted it. The post has continued to do well beyond that, however, with people searching for banting and fertility, breastfeeding and pregnancy too.

The post on Free Range is doing well in searches and there seems to be a lot of interest in that establishment. The post on the Infertility Awareness’ efforts to get Discovery to pay for infertility coverage did well, I think also because it was important to spread the word. (By the way they failed, unfortunately.)

The top three referring sites this year were social media: Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Last year Twitter wasn’t even on the list, so I think I’ve been using it more this year.  Then SA Mom Blogs. Stirrup Queens came in at number five. They were first last time. I guess I have been slack this year doing the monthly ICLW where you comment on each other’s blogs for a week.

My top commentators were

1) Karen @ MomAgain@40

2) Rebekah @ Surviving Todderhood

3) Shannon @ Infertility Awakening / What Dream May Come

4) Mrs FF @ Hopes and Triumphs

5) Sula @ Skimming Stones

I maintain that comments on blog posts are like hugs. They really affirm, encourage and connect. So thank you, ladies, for commenting. I appreciate it.

Looking back at my resolutions from last year:

1) I didn’t finish writing the book. I don’t regret this. Other things were more important.

2) I didn’t stop yelling but I think it certainly got a lot less. I managed to track and figure out some triggers.

3) Making money from home: some improvement, nothing regular but something.

4) Get Nicky off the boob and get pregnant? Ha! Hilarious. Still breastfeeding. However the breastfeeding has decreased to naps and sleep time and my cycles have returned. So that’s progress.

After looking at this, should I even bother with resolutions for the year?

I think the thing is to acknowledge the small improvements and not get overwhelmed with doing everything all at once.

So my resolutions are:

1) Put out consistent, good content on my blogs: at least once a week on One Step at a Time and twice a month at least on SA Mom blogs.

2) Get more organised. Get a file with action plans for my jobs and blog.

3) Healthy Home: finding a balance – giving family and stuff I need to do the balance. Clearing clutter. Sorting out my menu.

4) Have fun – enjoy the moments with my family.

Perhaps it’s kinder to appreciate the journey rather than get fixated with destinations.  They say luck happens when preparation meets opportunity so I want to be prepared. Tidy up my blog. Tidy up my house. And cut myself some slack if some days are just messy because I’d rather spend time with my boy.

And so that was Christmas…

toddler and Christmas tree I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I know we did. I think the best part was being able to draw it out, so that we have been celebrating not just on the actual day but over time with loved ones and spreading the presents out.

 

kids bouncing on 12 foot trampoline The trampoline has been a big hit. We have been jumping on it pretty much every day. Every time Nicky is grumpy I just mention going outside to jump and he cheers up. We also had fun when the cousins came to visit and the older kids enjoyed jumping too.

quad-bike-toy During the time my father-in-law was here Nicky received his first Christmas vehicle which was a quad bike that made noises when you pressed it. Unfortunately it wasn’t very durable. It got dropped and the wheel came off. A handle bar also came off. We probably spent more on glue than we did on the actual car. But Nicky has fun with it.

My sister, who is an occupational therapist, wanted to get Nicky a balance bike for a while now, and went to a lot of effort to make sure he had his gift. This is no small feat considering she lives in the states.

According to the pamplet, there is a progression involved in learning to ride this thing. First you walk. Then you walk on the saddle. And so it carries on. Nicky is walking on the saddle at the moment, much in the same way he rides his scooter.

One of the best gifts was having family here. My father-in-law fixed Nicky’s toy, attached our kitchen cupboard, sorted the pool pump and kreepy and did various other jobs. My father made sure my car was going. He noticed the brake light was on. I thought it was broken because I thought it only referred to the hand break being up, but here I was driving around without brake fluid. Scary. But it is sorted now. My mom did all the dishes. That is priceless. And of course the baby sitting. We have now seen two movies in the space of two weeks. That has to be some kind of record.

Christmas day itself was a laid back kind of day. We made it to church. Nicky crawled over all our laps and under the chairs. I think he did very well considering he was two years old.

When we got home we opened presents, including his Christmas box. We had wrapped it in front of him and he had been standing pointing in front of it all week, much like he does with the biscuit cupboard. So it was a huge thrill to finally open it and of course play with the box.

As you can see, the first car he pulled out was a blue one that made noises. We gave him two of them and he raced them against each other.

car-transport-truck Another toy he loved was a car transporter. As you know, Nicky loves lining up his cars and putting them on trucks as well. So putting them in this contraption was heaven. He insisted on taking it to bed with him. Eventually I persuaded him to leave it on the shelf where he could still see it.

cars puzzle We also gave him a Cars duvet set and a Cars puzzle. It might be a while before he manages the puzzle, but until then we had fun putting it together.

montessori red rods My father gave him the most amazing Montessori red rods. These are rods of wood that you sequence from shortest to tallest. My father went to the effort of making a superb box as a control of error for each rod to fit into. This will help a lot until he can sort them without the box. For now they also make great building tools as a road for his cars and other formations.

 

you-braai-recipe For lunch we had decided to do a braai. I had seen a recipe in the You magazine which looked great. The marinade and the meat worked out well. The vegetable kebabs? Not so much. For a start I couldn’t find baby brinjals. So I decided to do my own thing. Probably a mistake. Onions and peppers were joined by patty pans and mushrooms. The soft vegetable did not really go. The patty pans and onions were undercooked. It was a bit of a disaster. The meat we also had to cook in the oven a bit. Lunch worked out a bit late but we filled up on chocolates and mince pies.

lunch Fortunately the potato salad came out great, as did the butternut. For desert we had trifle which was delicious.

All in all I guess I appreciated the company more than the food, and I certainly learnt  few things. (Like: I’m never making those vegetable kebabs again.)

IMG_1766 Nicky and cars and strider Of course Nicky was surrounded by cars and trucks so he was very happy. He even got a packet of chocolates to eat which thankfully has come to an end.

 

How was your Christmas?