Baking and learning

We love this banana bread!  In fact, we bake it twice a week and use it for any meal (except for dinner..).  It is gluten, dairy, sugar and nut free and even better, it has no preservatives and uses healthy coconut flour and tahini.  The best thing that I would pick about this recipe, is that it is perfect for little ones to help in the preparation.

Being a Speech Pathologist, I will always take an opportunity to throw some language out there.  Here are some of the language-learning opportunities:

  • counting out 8 dates (and the other child can count them as they place them in the bowl)
  • talking about cup or spoon measures – ‘one over two means half a cup’ or ‘see TBL means tablespoon
  • elicit the cooking actions by asking ‘what do we do with this one?’.  You might expect terms such as scoop, measure, peel, grind, pour.
  • and the fun one… make sure you put the bicarb soda in first, then put the lemon juice (or we substitute a good dash of Apple Cider Vinegar when organic lemons aren’t in season) in – ‘FIZZ, BUBBLE….It’s a science experiment!!!’

IMG_8503[1]

And here is the link to the recipe Wholefood Simply Banana Bread.  We substitute cinnamon for carob, for a change and also use Apple Cider Vinegar (with ‘mother’ – healthier) instead of lemon juice when organic lemons are out of season.

And then!!!  We add a banana and some almond milk to the leftover batter in our Thermomix and blend for a banana bread shake!

 

Let me know what you think!  ps – we use the 5 egg recipe (one of the reasons we have now got chooks!).

🙂 Heidi

Leaving the boys to silence

Sometimes I take the boys outside to eat on their mat, then leave them alone. It is interesting to see what they do without my needing to fill their silence with talk all the time!
They don’t necessarily interact but instead take the time to notice their surroundings and also get used to each other’s company, more like the way boys know how, without the need for constant chatter.

🙂 HeidiIMG_7859[1]

Thanks for coming to enjoy I Raise My Kids! You can also enjoy more at Facebook or join in at Google+ 🙂

You’re going to be a big sister! Now here’s what’s going to change…

As the nine months draws to an end, most parents start to feel the nerves of managing one child (or more!) AND a newborn.  Yes it does come with challenges, logistical craziness and plenty of work in helping your older child through, no matter what their age,  but keep in mind it is still a very special time and hopefully an exciting event for your child!

The good thing is, you can start to make small changes before the baby arrives to help prepare your child for what will eventually be the ‘new’ way of life.  Do talk about the pros of the little brother or sister’s arrival but remember playing cars and tea parties will be YEARS from now!  Your child needs to know what will happen from day one, particularly what will affect them.  

Change helps us to learn and grow....

Change helps us to learn and grow….

You can start by slowly introducing some of the changes below and providing pieces of information about the ‘new’ way of life…and repeat as much as they need!  

  • Prepare for the whole family to have a shake-up to their routine for a while.  You can start talking to your child about what might change for them, such as coming to watch the baby have a bath before their bath or explaining that Mummy or Daddy might have a sleep in the daytime.
  • Prepare to be breast-feeding at any time of the day, including right at your child’s bath, book or going to sleep time.  You can change up any routine now by having your husband step in (or you if you don’t normally take that activity, as down the track your husband might be doing the baby settling which gives you a chance to spend time with child 1).  Encourage independence in any activity that your child is close to, such as scooping their own food or taking off some of their clothes before their bath and putting it in the laundry.
  • Prepare to need quiet while someone is trying to settle the baby.  You can start practicing being quiet with your child, practicing for when baby arrives.  Doll or teddy play is great for this or even making a game of tiptoeing to the bedroom.
  • Prepare to be needed in two places at the one time.  You can start making your child wait that bit longer before you get to them or getting them to set themselves up for say book time or at the dinner table.  Again, think encouraging independence in any skill that your child is close to mastering!
  • Prepare to be busy.  You can start thinking about new routines now.  This might be cooking dinners when your child sleeps/rests, to avoid super-crazy witching hour or if you need to go hard at improving your child’s sleeping habits.  Reconsider any changes to your child’s life for the first little while, such as toilet training, moving to a bed, mostly as you will have less time and emotional energy to deal with these.
  • Prepare for a family full of emotion from tiredness to jealousy!  You can prepare your child by either talking to your child about the feelings that they might face (Trace Moroney writes a great series of books ‘When I’m feeling… kind, lonely, sad, jealous, happy, angry, scared, loved’) or prepare to give out many hugs and special time for your little one if they are too young to understand the words for these scenarios.  The most important thing is to be HONEST.  When you sit down and think about it, there might be few ‘pros’ for your child to have this new baby in their life so it is important not to pretend it is anything other than how your child is feeling that it is.  Jealousy and loneliness COULD be on the cards but on the other hand, your child might enjoy helping out and being the big brother/sister!
  • As mentioned in many of my posts, drawing is a great way to help your child talk things out whilst keeping their attention.  You might do a stick figure drawing and say ‘remember when you were in your room today whilst Mummy was feeding little bubby? (drawing as you go) Did you feel jealous that Mummy wasn’t there playing with you?’ or ‘remember when Mummy couldn’t get to swimming today because she was feeding little bubby? (drawing as you go) How did you feel taking Daddy instead? (you might let them draw the smile/frown or give them options of ‘excited’, ‘sad’, ‘both’).  Drawing brings past events (even from 10 minutes ago) to a concrete level for your child to think about more easily.  It also lasts longer in front of them than words that come and go.  And it can end up being a ‘special activity’ they get to do with Mummy or Daddy.  Link here to find out more about drawing conversations with your child.

Above all, patience and understanding is really needed, which can be extremely hard when you are exhausted.  You can only do your best and remember, all the first-borns in the world have had to go through the same thing!  ‘You’re going to be a big brother. What do I say next?’ also has information on how/when to break the news and preparing your child for the birth.

Come and visit I Raise My Kids at Facebook and Google+ 🙂

2013 review… Family

I am starting to define ‘family’ to Master 22mths. I’ve begun by going through all of our names, especially when he starts this game off and then saying ‘….family’.
One of my most-clicked 2013 posts is ‘Family-what does your child understand about it?’. Find out more on how to explain this concept to your little ones!

A sample family tree. I'm sure people could get much more fancy than this :)

A sample family tree. I’m sure people could get much more fancy than this 🙂

Taking the time to be myself…and a parent

Is there anything you would change about the way you parent? Is there something you wish to do for yourself that would make you an even better parent? It’s not too late to make changes!
In the name of inspiring others to LIVE LIFE in order to help your kids LIVE LIFE, I’m putting myself out there & sharing the piece of paper I went to town on with (hopefully) all of the things that matter to me PLUS 2014 ‘goals’ & ‘aspirations’ (I feel these terms mean business more than ‘new year’s resolutions’).
this is me on paper! what will the kids think?

this is me on paper! what will the kids think?

I’ve never done this before & have been surprised with the clarity it’s given me of what I aim to be, grow towards and model for my kids. It’s also helped to talk about this TOGETHER with my husband to increase unity, motivation and direction.
And of course, in good time, I’ll slowly be working away at defining each of the words in age-appropriate language to the kids & reminding them of how I am achieving these goals.

Will you take a piece of paper and an hour out of your schedule to write down what will matter to you in 2014? 🙂 Heidi

We take care of our things!

[2 years +]
One of our family ‘values’ (‘value’ implies we are doing it because we want to, rather than ‘rule’ implying because we HAVE to) is ‘we take care of our things’. Phrasing it in a positive sense tells a child what they SHOULD do, not what they shouldn’t do. And makes it nicer for everyone to hear when you have to ‘harp on’!

Whilst you may still need to then explain more specifically what your child SHOULD do in each scenario – ‘tuck feet into bed (not kick walls)’, ‘draw with crayons (not throw)’, ‘keep hat on (instead of throwing over fence at daycare)’ – ‘we take care of our things’ helps your child to understand the family value….. that you are teaching them to value 🙂

** I raise my kids features more smaller tid-bits on facebook **

Do you remember to remember?

[Birth onwards]  A child’s memory starts from birth however, at this time, the brain can only take in sensations.  These might be sounds, smells, touch or even movement.  Gradually, as a child’s brain develops and starts to think in ‘language’, it becomes easier for your baby to have and remember ‘memories’!

I have so many good memories from my childhood, even the sensations like super-cold milk at kindy and stinky sewerage smell in Spain.  Going with the notion, ‘use it or lose it’, I am always encouraging Master 3 and Master 1 to remember good times!  Otherwise, the many wonderful moments can be lost to ‘pruning’ (where the brain literally lets go of neural pathways that are not used) and filled with episodes of Peppa Pig or hours sitting at the dinner table!

At this point, Master 3 can easily remember the day Master 1 was born and the highlights of a trip to Seaworld and the day Granny came and we made a special balloon for her.  Be it a big or small memory, the more you talk about them and remember them, the more your child will build up a ‘bank’ of special memories.

How do we remember?

If there is anything that reminds us of a good memory, we stop and have a talk about it.  Whether it’s:

  • playing with a toy icecream ‘you had a strawberry icecream like that at Seaworld didn’t you?’
  • reading a Spot book ‘that’s like the balloon we made Granny for her birthday’
  • talking about when Master 1 came along ‘how did you feel when you first saw him?’
  • remembering special people, particularly those we don’t see often
the highlight of Seaworld!

the highlight of Seaworld!

It might seem unnecessary but talking about an event helps make it a conscious memory.  Kids love to remember!

I have made ‘memory’ books for Master 3.  This involves remembering to have your camera out at special times then later printing a mini-book with a photo to each page.  It might be about a particular holiday or even just the Christmas holiday period or a birthday.

memory book

memory book

IMG_5068[1]

IMG_5069[1]

We also spend a lot of time just sitting with my phone and looking back at the photos and videos.  We talk about what life was like back then – ‘look we were at a different house’, ‘look how Master 1 has grown’, ‘wow look at your hair’ and have a good laugh at many memories!

Master 3 was quite attached to a goose at the park we visit.  But one day it died and the people that took care of it left a little photo and message at the park.  So we have had a brief talk about death and explained that what we have left is the memories.  Each time we go there, we remember something about the goose and again consolidate the memories in Master 3’s brain.

the goose

the goose

Making memories

I mostly enjoy creating memories by breaking up the routine.  If we lived our life the same way every day, getting caught in the routine of everyday life, we wouldn’t have much to remember but a blur!  So I break the routines up by doing something ‘memorable’ here and there, such as:

  • dancing while waiting for them to finish eating, instead of just standing there.  They laugh!
  • letting them go outside and play in the rain
  • tango-ing Master 1 to the change table instead of just picking him up
  • getting the boys to ‘reach for the moon…’ to dry under their arms after a bath.  Strange but they love it and I’m sure they won’t forget it easily

This is a good opportunity to remind you, as a parent to have FUN in your day.  See Outrageous is the key word! for more information on why and how you should make sure you find fun everyday!

But sometimes, the routines ARE the memories, such as:

  • the daily push on the swingset with Daddy
  • making up a ridiculous song that includes the boys’ names whilst they are eating
  • helping Mummy pick her yoga poses whilst they are in the bath (yes my way to fill in the time!)
  • our BBQ breakfast at the beach each weekend in summer

I also encourage Master 3 AND Master 1 to take in sensations like:

  • playing music (nursery rhymes to classical to Brazilian) and commenting on it to help their brain take ‘conscious’ notice of it
  • stopping to look at details of things like the feel of the leaves on our tree or the rain falling from the sky
  • massage on the head when washing their hair
  • holding them upside down/piggy back rides
  • giving them a sniff of cinnamon or the essential oils I use in their room

Many of these things, can obviously be done from birth, whilst your baby is living in a world of ‘sensations’.  Even if they don’t consciously remember it later, it will certainly develop neural pathways in their brain.

My husband and I also enjoy planning activities that the boys will have as memories, mostly just involving family time which is obviously a good foundation for creating memories!  And these memories strengthen our family unit.  Our aim is to have fun while we can, as you never know what might happen.  Being involved in these activities with the children makes the memories more special to them as all they want is for Mummy and Daddy to join in too 🙂  Here are just a few examples:

  • Australia Zoo and Underwater World – although not cheap, they are priceless for the excitement and therefore memories they keep
  • making mud, playdough and cooking
  • planting a vege garden
  • holidays
  • beach trips
  • all of us playing hide and seek

All of these experiences add up to, ‘remember when we…’.  And hopefully with a smile on our faces!

Please share any memories you create with your family, as I am always up for inspiration and probably other parents too!

🙂 Don’t forget to join us at Facebook – I raise my kids so you don’t miss out on any of the action 🙂

Saying it with a pen – rules for a big brother

boys_beach

Ever since Master 1 arrived, Master 3 has always struggled with the extra person in the household.  He had previously taken up a fair bit of my attention being premature and then a clingy one to say the least.

Master 3 has suffered from health problems, namely eczema and food intolerances and allergies.  But I always ‘unconsciously’ knew Master 3 was also struggling to fit into our family and this might even be affecting his health.

One day, I decided ‘that’s it! we’re doing a drawing’.  Even though we had talked about a lot of this, I knew a drawing would really hold Master 3’s attention and help him to talk about the scenario more than us just talking verbally (and him focussing on what toy he might play with next).

Firstly, I thought about what would really help him to feel truly loved and a part of our family, but also how to get him to understand that he and Master 1 both had roles to play.  It started with ‘Master 3’s story’.  I drew about Mummy and Daddy and how we wished for a baby.  Then how Mummy was pregnant and that Master 1 arrived six weeks early (to make it that bit more personalised/special – his story).  I then drew about how happy Mummy and Daddy were and how many nights Mummy sat with him in the night, when he wanted those extra cuddles (much to my sleep deprivation! yawn…).   Master 3 was already giggling with this story being drawn especially about him.

'his story'

‘his story’

Next, we continued the story about Mummy and Daddy wishing for one more baby for our family.

Big brother roles

And then we got to looking at the special roles Master 3 has as ‘big brother’.  I drew icons or simple words for Master 3 about his roles:

  • Give Master 1 love – kisses, hugs or nice words (this doesn’t always come easily to Master 3)
  • Show Master 1 ‘the right way’ – eg packing away, putting clothes into laundry basket, playing with toys, using his words
  • Be patient – that means ‘wait’ – Master 1 needs to have turns with the ‘important people’ too – (we drew pictures of Mummy, Daddy, other family members etc)
  • Help – protect Master 1 (trampoline, roads, daycare, bath, playground), fix or find things for Master 1 (one of Master 3’s better skills), teach Master 1 new skills (eg. building towers, running, yoga – one of Master 3’s specialities!)

Master 3 was really happy with these and already I could see he was really taking this on.  And the best thing was for me to stop and DRAW it – it really made me think what do we really expect of Master 3?

Now this was all good, but slightly unfair we had a whole lot of expectations for Master 3.. but what about Master 1?

So we started again!

Little brother roles

Little brother roles

Little brother roles

  • Give Master 3 love – hugs, kisses, nice words
  • Be patient – for Master 3 to have turns with the ‘important people’
  • Play nicely with Master 3 – no fighting, take turns (or else Master 3 is allowed to ask Mummy for help to negotiate)
  • Learn from Master 3 – he WILL follow you, watch you and copy you (Master 3 not always happy with this but we made it out to be very special)

Since then, we have always spoken about the special parts to this story:

  • We are all a family together – all of us (eg. ‘Master 1 will come on the holiday with us, all of us together’)
  • Master 3 is an important big brother who helps Master 1 to learn
  • Master 1 has roles too (eg. ‘it’s your turn now, Master 1 has to wait too doesn’t he’)
  • No being rough with each other
  • And also pointed out moments when Master 1 is being funny for Master 3 to develop a bit of love and pride for him

And through this I am developing intrinsic motivation in Master 3 to want to:

  • Give Master 1 love (‘you gave him a hug, that helps him to grow!’)
  • Help and care for Master 1 (‘that was so thoughtful getting his trike out for him!’)
  • See us ALL as a family (‘that’s you with Master 1 when he was born.  He is in our family with us now’)

boys_beach

How to find the right childcare centre for your child

child_care_wideweb__470x335,0

When is it a good time to start looking for a childcare centre?

My answer as soon as you are pregnant or even contemplating the idea of returning to work. 

The reason, it is so important to start this search, is so that you do not have to take ‘whatever’ come available. Trust me, there is childcare and there is QUALITY childcare.

First, go to as many as you can!!! You might really feel very happy with the first one you see but you need to understand that staff are very good at selling their centre. To an inexperienced eye you might get carried away with the sales pitch.

Have a look at the space. How much room do the children have to move. Small classrooms and play areas, might look safe but they also can feel overcrowded and the noise level can become overwhelming. Many new centres look beautiful and clean but the classrooms have been built to the minimum requirements for space. (Floor space:child ratio per regulations). Studies have shown that children that have alot of space to move are happier  (just like the chickens in the egg farms).

What does the inside and outside environment tell you? What do the posters say? Art work? What do they value enough to display on their walls of the rooms? If you find that the walls are empty, ask why?? If all the artwork is all uniformed, ask does this centre encourage creativity? Does the centre feel like a comfortable place, or does it feel a little sterile? Are there gardens outside? Vegetable gardens? Trees? All of these things can help you to see whether the staff put ‘love’ into their environment. Many passionate carers believe the environment to be the ‘third’ teacher. This means that they will put alot of effort into making the environment as inviting, wondrous, warm and exciting as possible. Remember learning begins at play (but thats another post).

What are the children doing? Can you hear lots of disagreements? Are the children playing in ways that are dramatic, constructive, creative and friendly? Or are they walking around aimlessly, sitting by themselves with security ‘toys/blankets’. How are the children using their environment?

The biggest resource in any centre is the staff!!! If this resource is faulty, it doesn’t matter how beautiful everything else is, it won’t work. How are the staff interacting with the children and their environment? Are the staff sitting with paper and pen away from children? Are they talking to other staff? Are they sitting down with children around them adding information to the children’s play and learning? Can you tell that the staff love the children? When you walk into the room, the staff are on their best behaviour!! So if you see something you are not happy with and this is their best, imagine what could be their worst. I have seen and heard of some terrible things and not all centres are QUALITY!!

If your are able to answer these questions about your centres you are looking at then you have looked at them with more educated eyes!!!

This is for the first visit. The next visit needs to be at a different time and we need to ask questions to see what responses we get!!!!

Well done you have completed the first stage of what is a very emotional and important decision.

Like if you would like to know the questions for the next visit!!!!

‘Family’ – what does your child really understand about it?

I’m sure most people would say one of the most important things to them is ‘family’.  Does your little one really understand what family is?

Children are smarter than you think. From a young age, show them visually who is in your family and talk about the relationships.  Easily from two, you can start to draw a family tree for them to piece it all together.

You might draw it in front of them so you can talk about the relationships as you go (‘this is mummy’s sister…Lisa!! YOUR sister is Rosie, isn’t it’).  Or you might want to have a go at drawing it first as spacing them can sometimes be tricky! Or get your kids to have a go…

Spend time here and there looking at it and talking about all of the people and how they fit in and the different terms, aunt, uncle, grandparents, siblings.  You could spend one time just colouring or circling those that are boys/girls/men/ladies.  Or talk about their attributes such as Grandma’s curly hair or Lisa with no fringe, depending how good your sketching is to begin with!

One activity I found fun was making a water balloon for each and drawing their face on the front and as a pre-literacy exercise, their name on the back.  My son loved to talk about who was who and which one needed to be bigger or which one he’d pop first.  All in the name of talking about ‘family’!  Of course you could do this with drawings or potato people or drawing a face on each fingertip, just to name a few ideas.

Hayden's family water balloons

Hayden’s family water balloons

A sample family tree. I'm sure people could get much more fancy than this :)

A sample family tree. I’m sure people could get much more fancy than this 🙂

Other ideas for introducing ‘family’ is to comment on who looks like who and that being family means we might look similar or think the same way or like the same things.  Be sure to talk about your family name and even write these out so your child can ‘see’ it is the same for everyone (or explain if you haven’t changed your family name).  Talk about your address and that this is where your family lives, in your home together.  Obviously adjust this for older children.  For younger than about two years, start really naming each family member as you see them, take a photo of them and go through them together either in a printed or digital album.

Once your child understands ‘family’, you can begin to have ‘family rules’, such as ‘we take care of eachother’, ‘we try to have dinner together’, ‘we give each other hugs’.  You could also compare families (such as, families with grandparents as carers, different numbers of siblings or those that live with extended family) to bring about more social and cultural awareness.

Above all, give as much detail as you can, as I’m sure your little ones will be interested!!