Tag Archives: children

Adventure Clubs Unpacked – and WIN!

If you’re a parent, have a smart phone and haven’t been living under a rock, you would know all about Adventure Clubs. No?

If you don’t have that there app on your phone, it’s time you downloaded it. Adventure Clubs offers exciting planned experiences (outings/adventures) for families with young kids. Fun is had, memories are made – and it’s all planned for you! What Adventure Clubs are trying to do, is facilitate a lifestyle of community and intentional parenting… which I couldn’t agree with more.

It’s easy as pie to get involved. You download the FREE Adventure Clubs app, scroll through all the available adventures in your area, pick the ones you’re keen to join in on and book your place (obviously, get your fellow mama friends in on it because all adventures are more fun with a friend!). You pay for each adventure using your credit card, which is saved on the app for future bookings. It honestly takes a few minutes to book yourself in on any adventure.

So far, we’ve been to watch the ducks parade at Vergenoegd Wine Estate, hopped on the Cape Wheel at the V&A Waterfront after dark (followed by a mug of hot choc), and most recently built a Gingerbread House at Vovo Telo Artisanal Bakery in Steenberg. SUCH FUN! You rock up, meet the adventure leader, get going and ENJOY! Also, they don’t cost the world.

Research shows that the number one indicator of the future happiness of a person is the happiness found in their childhood relationships. Adventure Clubs exists to support the parent-child relationship by building strong families through intentional memory making. And what makes it all the more fun is that adventures are experienced together with other families.

A First: 

Founded by mom-and-dad team, Janelle and Jedd Schroy, Adventure Clubs is a ‘mobile first’ tech company with the only child-focused, group experience based app for both Android and iOS. Parents can turn on their location and browse the various adventures based on a 150km radius of their location to find the adventures that are the best for their family’s interests, schedules and budget. Adventures are offered at all different days and times (and are often repeated), so regardless of each family’s school, work, or extracurricular activities, there are adventures available for everyone.

We had a ton of fun (and mess and some sucking icing straight from the piping bag) on our gingerbread house building adventure. The kids shared a house (lesson 1: in sharing) and tried not eat the sweets before the house was even up (lesson 2: in patience). And then once built, we had to get it home (lesson 3: in growing 4 more arms to ensure our masterpiece did not cave in on drive home). So really, there was parent-kid bonding and so much more. And it DID NOT involve me IN the kitchen (or cleaning up!) WIN!

And now, it’s your turn to WIN!! Adventure Clubs would love to spoil YOU with a free Adventure for you and your kid/dies.

* Like the Our Greenish Life page on Facebook
* Comment on the Facebook thread mentioning one of the three outings we’ve already been on with Adventure Clubs.
* Entries close on Wednesday 20th December, 2017 and the winner announced on my Facebook page.

(Adventure to be redeemed by mid Feb 2018)

For ant more info, and to download the app, find Adventure Clubs here: Website, App Store, Google Play, Facebook and Instagram.

Come on! Join in the adventure!!

When all you want is to GET THE BABY OUT

To tell you the truth, I didn’t think I’d be here – post 40 weeks. Even though 40 weeks is the estimated time of a full pregnancy, all of that depends on your cycle and when you got pregnant and and and – it is no exact science as to WHICH particular date baby WILL be born. But still, I didn’t think I’d be here… at 40 weeks… still waiting.

Did you know that Term falls anywhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks. Thats a 5 week window. That’s far off from an exact due date.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has redefined the meaning of “term pregnancy.” Pregnancies used to be considered at term, and babies ready for delivery, any time after 37 weeks. If mom went past that, those last three weeks (or longer) were almost seen as a write-off. Now, however, after a couple of decades that have seen too many C-sections and record numbers of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), those last few weeks of pregnancy are being taken seriously. That’s why “term pregnancy” is now being broken down into distinct categories. (Source)

Early Term: Between 37 weeks 0 days and 38 weeks 6 days
Full Term: Between 39 weeks 0 days and 40 weeks 6 days
Late Term: Between 41 weeks 0 days and 41 weeks 6 days
Poster: Between 42 weeks 0 days and beyond.

That’s just some interesting info to chew on… but say you get to 40+ weeks and despite knowing that bubs is healthy and happy and fully developed for his/her impending adventure in the outside world – if a chemical induction (oxytocin/pitocin) is looming… what can you do to BAHM!!! speed labour along?

HUGE Disclaimer: Some people swear by these methods, and some seem to have zero effect. I am no medical expert. Please speak to your Care Provider before you try anything crazy and at the end of the day, baby will come when baby is ready, so play with this all lightly. Okay? Good.

Clayden skin 2

With our second, we were warned of a fast birth. And at 40+3 days we were getting a bit nervous. Hubby had a HUGE speaking engagement fast approaching and genuinely couldn’t miss it. So on the Monday (40+3), we went nutso on EVERYTHING to do with natural induction, and Tuesday at 4:30am I went into (fast and furious) labour, and at 6:30am, our second was born. So even if it is all mental – I can’t help but believe that our attempts at natural induction were a raging, rip roaring success.

I’ve come to learn it’s all about oxytocin. ALLLL about oxytocin. So, thats the goal. Get more oxytocin running through your body, and do what you need to do to keep it up (and your stress/anxiety hormones at a minimum).

As a mom, and a doula, here’s what I would suggest: (Obviously, again, please chat to your birth team care providers before jumping into any of this.)

Exercise/Long walks. Man these can be hard because you feel like a hand or a head will pop out at any time, but don’t give up. Keep active (within reason).

Stretch and Sweep/Membrane Stripping: Some are not so keen on this one, as it’s a bit intrusive, but it can be very effective. Basically, your doctor/midwife will use a gloved finger to separate the amniotic sac from the uterine wall. This action releases prostaglandins. We love prostaglandins. *Personal preference: I had a gentle stretch and sweep with my 2nd, it didn’t hurt, and it certainly helped. 

Nipple Stimulation: Stimulating your nipples can help release oxytocin and cause your uterus to contract and possibly bring about labor.

Sex: Although research results are mixed, anecdotes abound about late babies making an entrance soon after a love-making session. Semen contains cervix-softening fats called prostaglandins (also used in medical induction) and a woman’s orgasm can lead to strong uterine contractions. (source)

Acupuncture: Acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin in the body. In a randomized trial published by the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, over 400 women were given acupuncture, membrane stripping, or both procedures before their labours. There were no significant differences in the outcomes of the groups, but the vast majority of these women did not require medical inductions. Pregnancy acupuncturists are often super clued up with a number of tricks including how to try turn posterior babies – so keep an open mind. Even just for the fun of it.

Acupressure/Prenatal Massage: Some practitioners believe that acupressure can start and restart labor. The key is beginning the practice early and often, or else just head to an experiences prenatal massage therapist. Various pressure points are safe to press starting at 37 weeks. You can increase pressure the closer you are to your due date and during labour itself. But prior to applying acupressure to yourself, make sure you get proper instruction from a trained acupressure professional. Read a great Mommy Potamus article about it here.


Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can cause your body to release prostaglandins throughout the digestive process. These hormones may trigger contractions in the uterus. Either way, even if they don’t, you scored some chilli poppers out of the experiment. So it’s a win-win. (f you’re in the Cape Town area, may I suggest The Pickled Popper‘s Chilli Poppers).

Evening Primrose Oil: Though EPO itself may not cause labor, it can prime and soften your cervix. You may take the oil orally or insert it vaginally for the best results. You can prick the oil capsule with a clean needle and insert. While healthcare providers have long suggested taking EPO to ease birth, there is little proof that it naturally induces labor. Rather, treat it as something which softens your cervix, and that can’t hurt (source).


Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Midwives often recommend drinking red raspberry leaf tea in combination with evening primrose oil as your due date nears. The team at OBGYN North in Austin, Texas, share that the tea tones the uterus and helps to organize irregular contractions into regular, productive patterns. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll stay hydrated. (source)


Eat Pineapple: The bromelain in pineapple and other tropical fruit is said to induce labor by stimulating the uterus. Alternately, it could just be the intestinal stimulation from eating large amounts of pineapple that gets labor started. And you would really need LARGE amounts for it to actually kick labour into gear. Either way, this is a delicious way to induce labor naturally.

Eat Dates: Date fruit contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids, which are involved in saving and supplying energy and construction of prostaglandins. In addition, serotonin, tannin, and calcium in date fruit contribute to the contraction of smooth muscles of the uterus. Date fruit also has a laxative effect, which stimulates uterine contractions.” (source) There is another great article by Wellness Mama about dates and labour here.


All that being said, I’d love to hear if you have tried any of these methods and if anything helped you. And of course… Good Luck!

Image credits: herbs.lovetoknow.comwww.youngandraw.comwww.checkpregnancy.com.

Meeting in the Doctor’s Waiting Room

Yesterday I took our eldest for a follow up appointment at our ophthalmologist. I’ve written a little about his story here but yesterday I anticipated a fairly similar outcome to our usual checkup. But the appointment was unusually, and beautifully hopeful. More on that later…

I was running a little late after dropping our youngest at my in-laws and rushed in at 2:02pm (our appointment was for 2 – and I hate being late). As I dashed in, a father snuck in the door behind me holding his young daughter. She was gorgeous, and could not have been older than 2 and a half. I could see immediately (from my limited experience) that she had a squint, even though I think most would probably not notice it. The receptionist looked at us both and requested ‘last name?’ to which I replied ‘Knighton-Fitt’ and so she turned to the gentleman and said, ‘Oh, so this is your first appointment?’ My heart broke as I remembered our first appointment, and I had such sympathy imagining the journey he was about to begin.

As the dad took the clipboard from the receptionist and got ready to recall their medical history on paper, I wanted to throw my arms around them and give them both a huge hug and tell them everything would be okay, but it’s easy to say that looking back.

cuuute pic of clay

There were so many perfect moments this afternoon in that doctors room. The fact that Clay couldn’t fit on my (now enormous) lap meant that I had to pop him on the BIG chair alone and watch him interact with our doctor himself. He would never had done that even 6 months ago. He answered the questions politely and watched the red ball, the cotton bud and the torch so obediently. He listened to everything the doctor said, and whispered the correct answers to all eye tests. His eyes had locked into place (NO.MORE.SQUINT), and his eyes were excellent, individually, both in strength and crisp clarity. ‘Proud mama’ doesn’t begin to describe it.

At the time of the 3D test, I held my breath. This was what we had no idea what to expect. While our 2 operations had corrected some mechanical issues, the development of 3D was never a certainty. His last appointment 3 months ago showed he had no 3D vision. (IE: He can kick a ball and do everything any kid with 20/20 vision can do, but give him a set of 3D glasses for a movie and it wouldn’t mean a thing to him. This can have larger consequences later on when it comes to future career choices and sports etc.). If you don’t develop this kind of 3D by age 4, chances are you might never develop it. Clayden has just turned 4.

So as he looked through the 3D glasses into the book and tried to grab the fly’s wings (which should stand up from the page) he grabbed… the… air. Our Dr looked at me with excitement and I knew it was good. If he had grabbed the page it would have indicated that his 3D was still non existent. Watching him digging his chubby innocent little fingers under the ‘wing’ made my heart leap and I had to grit my teeth to stop myself from bursting into tears. It was all such such such good news. After a 2yr long journey with Clay’s acquired esotropia, across 2 countries, with the help of 2 optometrists, 2 ophthalmologists, 2 operations, and a VILLAGE of support, prayer and a lot of money  (and tears) spent, this is what we’ve been waiting for. Our first appointment with ‘everything looks perfect’. (The only thing better is if we were to phase out the glasses completely, but one step at a time – only time will tell – and he is so stinking cute in his glasses, I think I’d miss them).


Eye Operation April 2015. 

As we left (I could have hugged our doc – but it would have been pretty random), I saw the dad and his daughter replace us in his room. One family out, another one in. Just like that. With a heavy camaraderie-like heart, I watched them start the journey we were (praise God) ending.

Clay eating ice cream

So many of my latest, more personal blog posts have been about kindness and awareness. This one is no different. To think we are all on our own personal, raw, delicate, challenging, sensitive and day-by-day journeys, needs to be recognised. People need to be SEEN. To that family who are beginning the journey correcting eye issues, to the family who have lost a baby that no one knows about, to the family who is struggling with infertility, or severe anxiety, or self-hate or a scary diagnosis. None of us have our stuff together (maybe on the outside it might look like it), so let’s all just be a little more sensitive and aware.

As our awesome (deeply missed and longed for) church in Vancouver used to say each time we met, “we are a community of Hope and Struggle”… and let’s allow ourselves to be just that.

Keeping bugs away, Pure Beginnings’ way

We were recently up in Durbs doing some work and visiting friends and our little gorgeous terrors were their usual gorgeous terror selves. One afternoon we went to see our friends’ beautiful new home and our eldest needed the bathroom. (Why is it, that they still need to tell us each time they go?) Anyways, so I pointed out the bathroom feeling quite chuffed he was old enough to go through the routine of ‘lift seat, pull down pants, aim well, flush toilet, wash hands… aaaaand you’re done’ all by himself. It’s the small things guys, the small things.

Next minute I hear some strange wailing from the bathroom. I pop my head in and my littlie is balancing his (fortunately dressed) bum on the basin edge, tears streaming down his cheeks and his facial expression matching that of a deer in the headlights. “Sohhh-ryyyy, sohhh- ryyy” coming from his mouth, I look to the floor and there lay a smashed ceramic liquid soap dispenser with liquid soap spilling all over the tiles. My poor child, so obedient on the post-pee hand washing, had struggled with the pump and it had caused the whole bottle to slide off the counter and smash on the floor. Oh man, it was a little heart-breaking. Shame, it turns out it was a tricky one to use and needed replacing – or so our wonderfully forgiving friends said.

I was quite proud though, that my almost-4-year-old had taken the hand-washing so seriously. Fighting what felt like a plague of bugs pre-Durbs, I was going overboard with juicing my fave health booster juice (orange, carrot and ginger) and dealing with snotty noses, coughs and general gross-ness, I had almost forgotten about the importance of hand washing

I stand with the whole ‘don’t over sanitise’ tribe, and love dirt and mud and getting messy. But I absolutely believe in washing ones hands as well. Kids need to be exposed to all sorts of things, and while I don’t believe in extreme hospital hygiene measures at home, I do recommend a healthy hand washing routine, especially after the toilet, and most certainly during winter.

Kids hygiene hand wash

And that’s why I love Pure Beginnings’ Hygiene Hand Wash. It:

  • is anti-bacterial*, and protects against the spread of germs (*laboratory tested to kill over 99.9% of bacteria in accordance with SABS standard SANS 5261),
  • is free of triclosan and other harmful chemical ingredients,
  • contains Organic Rooibos Leaf Extract – rich in anti-oxidants,
  • has powerful soothing and healing properties,
  • and then it’s just super cute and looks great in any bathroom (and with the EcoCert certified plastic packaging, it won’t smash).

All round this is a win win! My kids think it is adorable, it keeps them bug free, and it has no nonsense in it. No ‘nasties‘ as they like to call it – no parabens, phalates, sulfates, petrochemicals or formaldehyde, among others.

Next time you hit up your local grocery store for your new liquid soap, have a little rethink about what is in it, what it then on your hands, and what you do and touch every day. Ermmm… safe to say, I think you’ll want to wash hands the Pure Beginnings way.

I can’t because…

One Saturday morning I was getting things ‘done’ with my 3yr old pottering about while my husband and youngest slept. I was doing the random stuff, the sorting and tidying kind, and while feeling somewhat distracted by my child’s needs, I found a colouring in book that I overemphasized the awesomeness of to try and distract him so that I could continue doing my thing. 

I managed to start colouring in a frog ‘on his behalf’ (as you do), ready for him to take over. “You continue coloring this buddy”, I encouraged. “No mommy, you colour it”. “Ahh, sorry buddy, I have – ” and I stopped myself. Because I was about to say “I have things to do.”

I struggle with this all.the.time. I’m such a do-er. And the podcast I was listening to the other day by our friends at Artisan reminded me how we naturally tend to do what we love doing. I like being busy. I like feeling productive. And while I LOVE (adore) my kids, an hour on the floor colouring is HARD for me. Who am I kidding… 10min on the floor colouring is hard work for me. The reading of the 8th story at bedtime is exhausting, and honestly I rush through it. All the while knowing my days of being invited to cuddle are numbered.

All this calls for sacrifice. Arghhhh. The dying to self kind. Something we’re not drawn to naturally.

(This is so evident in parenthood, but I think it spills over into anything. Working too much overtime for a bosses approval, earning more money to feel more powerful or validated, the accumulation of ‘things’ to feel successful).

I’m all about balance, but if I’m honest, I’m an awfully selfish person by nature. I hide chocolates I’ve bought from my husband so I don’t have to share, sneak in a secret brekkie with my friend Nats after our suuuuuuper long (emphasis added) early morning runs and even being an (extreme) extrovert by nature, I want my own quiet time. I want to go for drinks with my girls, and watch TV series in bed uninterrupted with my husband. I want to make good food with friends and go for a jog when I wish. I want to grab a coffee and blog. I want to create natural products while listening to the latest Sons & Daughters album. I want to make my garden pretty, plant new herbs and spring clean (often). I want to be productive. Soooo, building a block tower with my 1.5yr old for the gazillionth time (especially when he’s not really paying attention) feels hard.

I’m doing my best to say ‘yes’ more often. Within reason. I know full well that healthy mom/dad = healthy family and so I’m trying to give of myself, knowing I need to recharge and try to figure out exactly what that looks like for me.

With all that said, here are my top tips on how to bring about balance and diminish the guilt:

1. Create Rhythms: In our home, Friday nights are homemade pizza nights and Saturday mornings are pancake breakfasts mornings. (Saturday mornings were Park Run mornings but somehow we morphed it into pancakes instead – go figure.) We’re also trying to get the kids amped on washing our cars on Sundays. Hmmm… not as easy. I’m sure once they realize it’s something normal people pay for, an exchange of money will be involved.

2. Encourage Traditions: Be it on birthdays, anniversaries or the beginning of school holidays, have ‘your thing’ that is a constant. Maybe the first day of school holidays you pull out the annual pass to the Aquarium, hit the beach, or make a big ice cream, waffle and milkshake brekkie. Since our kids are Canadian, we make an effort to celebrate Canada Day and Canadian Thanksgiving (with some good old salmon, poutine and maple syrup ‘eh?).

3. Prioritize Values: Eat together at the dining room table, or go for a short walk around the neighbourhood just before dinner. What are you doing already that you can use to incorporate your family and have it be meaningful (such as time together eating or exercising)?

4. Play: Play ‘rough and tumble’ on the bed (thanks husband), or hide and seek in the house. Lie on the lounge floor and let your kids roll over you (for when you’re feeling particularly uninspired orrrrrr pregnant with your second and have as much energy as a kid post sugar-crash). Play sport, or dress up, or in the garden outside. Play with water, chalk, paint, on a trampoline or on a home-drawn hopscotch pattern on the ground. Play by baking – and reward yourself with edible treats (obviously).

5. Try put your phone down (and then give yourself time to use it!): Argh, I’m SO bad at this, but I recently read this article and it opened my eyes right up! WOWZER. Make certain rooms in your house or times of the day ‘NO PHONE’ rooms/times.

‘Starting your day by checking the phone is like flipping a switch from peace to productivity … from loving nurturer to grumpy manager … from present to absent. Reaching for the phone takes you out of your cozy pajamas-clad world and catapults you into the fast-paced, information overloaded world. Once your mind leaves your loved ones and fixates on all the things you need to do, it’s hard to come back—so hard to come back’. (Hands Free Mama)

6. Get the kids to bed early and then RE-LAX: You’ve kicked ass, or maybe not, but it’s done and dusted. Feet up, glass of wine, slab of chocolate, long chat with your bestie, put on a movie, eat comfort food, think, sing, write, read.

7. Get Away: Most people know someone who has a little cabin in the mountains or a timeshare needing to be used up, some extra flyer miles or a camp site begging for a bonfire. Do what you can find these avenues and take time away. It absolutely doesn’t need to cost you the earth. It shouldn’t. And if you can’t think of anywhere to go and can’t muster up the energy for the mile long list of to-do’s before departure, then borrow a tent and camp out in your back garden (or lounge if you don’t have a garden).

Of the 7 suggestions, grab one or two things that stick out and that you know you can try implement without it completely killing your mojo and go for it. And, can I just say, life is hard. Life was not meant to be done alone. There is DEPTH and TRUTH to ‘being a Village’ and Ubuntu theology. We’re in this together. And you’re doing alright.


The Purest of Beginnings

It feels like we went overseas, came back, and everything was different. BOS iced tea is like the new ‘it’ drink and is available in every corner cafe and, much to my delight, Pure Beginnings Organic Skincare is available… every-where!

Having been attacked by mozzies upon our return to SA in mid-summer, I sent my hubby out to find a natural mozzie repellent, and voia la – we were officially introduced to the Pure Beginnings brand.

PB Insect repellant

As with all reviews, there is a plethora of overly-shmoozy things I could say about Pure Beginnings. I could say I love them because they’re EcoCert certified (so they cannot include any baddies such as propylene glycol/PPG/PEG, petrolatum, mineral oil, parabens, sulphated surfactants (SLS/SLES), DEA (Diethanolamine) / TEA (trethanolamine), phthalathes, DEP, DBP, DEHP, aluminium, fluoride, synthetic colourants & fragrances) or because they support African Communities and Biodiversity Conservation through fair trade and ethical sourcing (I love ethical). I could also say I love them because they use recyclable packaging and use only ingredients that are biodegradable and are approved by the Vegan Society, Beauty without Cruelty and Phytotrade Africa. It could also be because they have a good understanding of healthy (vs. bad) bacteria and consider optimising the beneficial bacteria in ones ‘body-ecosystem’. It really could be because of any of the above, right? Pssst… I like this last healthy bacteria bit in particular and it’s why I drink kombucha.

PB Eco Cert Certified

Buuuut, let’s pretend I didn’t say any of the above. I met them. In the flesh. So you can take my gushyness of Pure Beginnings to heart. They are RAD, they are trying to find better ways of doing things for you and your family, and they care.

Pure Beginnings genuinely believes in keeping your skin as pure as the day you were born by creating high quality, effective, organic skin care products that care for you and your family’s skin (and that are not harmful to the environment). Again, if you’ve read the post on why we cloth diaper, you’ll know this ‘skin as pure as the day you were born’ stuff was where I had my ah’ha moment, which has since changed everything.

Bum Cream

Pure Beginnings started out in 2007 with their focus being specifically Organic Baby and Organic Kids ranges and has since, expanded into a skin care brand for the whole family. Do I hear a ‘hoorah’? Since then Pure Beginnings has been the leading and most trusted baby and kids organic skin care brand in South Africa. Over these past 8 years, this family owned and run business has worked closely with mothers, midwives and child birth educators (and doulas!!) to develop a skin care range that meets the needs of babies and kids using the purest and safest natural and organic ingredients.

Surely you’ve seen these gorgeous products with the super adorbs child friendly characters…

Ollie the Owl

Max and Minky

…looky here! There’s a new addition to the troop (more info coming soon!)

Ruby the Rhino

The ranges are comprehensive. And there is a product for preeeeetty much everything you need. (I even used the baby bum cream to moisturize my dry, sniffly nose this winter)…

Organic Baby Care Range:

Within the Organic Baby Care range you’ll find: Baby Bum Cream, Berry Toothpaste, Bamboo Baby Wipes, Natural Aqueous Cream, Baby Lotion, Baby Wash & Shampoo, Teething Gel, 100% Natural Insect Repellent and a gorgeous Organic Baby Gift Set.

PB organic Baby care

My faves: No doubt the Berry Toothpaste is on my shopping list about once a month (my little one looooves teeth-brushing time!!). The Baby Wipes are fantastic and are my backup in case I run out of my homemade wipes. The Teething Gel sits on my night stand in case bubs gets fussy in the night. We also love the Bum Cream and the Insect Repellent. (The stick container makes it so easy to apply) .

Organic Kids Range:

Within the Organic Kids Care range you’ll find: Fun Time Bubble Bath, Fun Time Kids Wash, Kids Hygiene Hand Wash, Vanilla Mint Toothpaste and 100% Natural Insect Repellent.

My faves: The Bubble Bath is just the best (ask my kids!), as well as the toothpaste (again, we don’t have to fight over teeth-brushing time).

Organic Care Range:

And in the Organic (Family) Care range you’ll find: Deodorant, Shampoo and Conditioner, Shaving Cream, Body Lotion, Body Wash and Fresh Mint Toothpaste (and of course… the good old trusty insect repellent).

My faves: Fresh Mint Toothpaste! While my hubby is not sold on my homemade kind, this is what he always asks for. My dad also loves the shaving cream!

Pure Beginnings Body Wash

Please. Do yourself and your family a favour and get onto the Pure Beginnings bandwagon. You can find all of their stockists here (there are HEAPS so no excuses), and take a peek at the latest news on their blog, facebook and twitter pages. Prices of products range from R35 – R115, and it’s money well spent.

Whether we think about it all that much, we vote with our money. Just like the food we eat either helps or harms us, how we spend our money directly influences which companies thrive and which suffer. Let’s please choose WISELY as to how we spend our money and support local businesses. Let’s join together and support those who are making it easier for us to care for our families and for our environment.

Books, iPads and that Darn Telly

I never wanted an iPad. I knew our child would become addicted and with his strong personality, I wasn’t really up for the fight. But, as it would happen, we did get one (Happy 30th Birthday me!!) and it came with much delight to the parents (a.k.a us), and STRICT stringent rules for the kid/s.

As parents in this (absolutely terrifying) generation (of technology and all-things-accessible), there is this ongoing debate about how many hours of TV are appropriate for what age (each to their own), and should kids be allowed to play on iPads and are they ‘evil babysitters’ and are you a terrible parent for allowing your kids a brief viewing when you simply need a cup of tea and a slab of chocolate? To put your mind at ease, if you are even only the slightest bit concerned about this stuff, you’re top notch and should purchase yourself a noddy badge this very minute (or at least grab a glass of wine… after 5pm, please).

A number of friends have asked how we do the book/ipad/tv stuff. We are by no means the know-it-alls around this (I have no degree in early childhood development), but I thought I’d share a little insight into our family…

We are a BOOK family. This is by intention (my husband is an academic) and well, because our kids are not big TV fans. I know – it’s made that battle slightly less stressful. In fact when we were on a long distance flight recently, I enthusiastically found the in-flight kids channel and forced the earphones over my 3 year old’s ears desperate for some distraction but errr… well… no.  It lasted all of about 1 minute – accompanied by our bribery food of choice – banana chips.

‘It is through hearing stories about wicked stepmothers, lost children, good but misguided kings, wolves that suckle twin boys, youngest sons who receive no inheritance but must make their own way in the world and eldest sons who waste their inheritance on riotous living and go into exile to live with the swine that children learn or mislearn both what a child and what a parent is, what the cast of characters may be in the drama into which they have been born and what the ways of the world are. Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious stutterers in their actions as in their words.’

—Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 3d ed. (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), p. 216.

But, we’re also a bit of an iPad family – far less so than the books but it still makes its presence known often. After my son had an eye op, we were instructed to patch his strong eye and interestingly enough, our ophthalmologist ENCOURAGED the iPad. There you have it. It’s hard not to feel judged when people watch your glasses-wearing toddler staring at a bright iPad screen because doesn’t too much screen time cause the need for glasses? Apparently not folks.

So while I’m going to be of no help on the TV front (sorry!), I will share with you our BEST books and iPad apps that our kids love (and when I say kids I mean the older one because the younger one just has to abide by what the older one wants – as you with multiple kids would know).

Our Favourite Books: (in no particular order)

Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown


‘In this classic of modern children’s literature, beloved by generations of readers and listeners, the quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day’. A must have.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar  – Eric Carle


A classic, where kids learn counting, days of the week, and transformation using an interactive board book with pages cut short and with holes in the pages, where the caterpillar has ‘eaten through’ them. Apparently a favourite of former Pres. George W. Bush, this book has been linked to America’s obesity problem – but I mean… come on.

Where is the Green Sheep? – Mem Fox


There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep? … I love this one.

Time for Bed – Mem Fox


Another winner, read almost every night before bed. A quick read, featuring many different animals as they go to sleep. Rhyming words, delicate illustrations, and a recommendation by Mary-Ruth Wilkinson (who I trust with my LIFE when it comes to children’s book recommendations).

Little Blue Truck – Alice Schertle


Bought for us by a friend on my oldest’s 1st birthday – I LOVE this book. It has such wonderful rhythm and rhyme making it the perfect book to read aloud.

“Horn went ‘Beep!’
Engine purred.
Friendliest sounds
you ever heard.”

‘Little Blue Truck is friends with all of the barnyard animals, and he is always nice to everyone. Meanwhile big, mean Dumptruck has no time for anyone smaller than him and thinks he’s the biggest, most important thing around. Then Dumptruck gets stuck in the mud and since he’s been so mean no one wants to help him out…’

Jesus Storybook Bible – Sally Lloyd-Jones


If you want to buy a bible  – please, please, please buy this one. It won the 2010 ALA Notable Award and the 2010 Mom’s Choice Awards and the Debbie Knighton-Fitt Mom Choice Award all years running. As a gift for our firstborn from his Godmother, we received this with the audio CD and he is obbbbb-sessssed with it. Hands down, the best bible I’ve seen, gorgeous illustrations, catchy sayings, and theologically beautiful. I’m desperate to buy the DVDs.

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson


‘This book is about a mouse who took a stroll into the woods, along his way he scares a fox, an owl and a snake by telling them the story of the gruffalo who eats them for dinner. The mouse then runs into the gruffalo and he is hungry for mice. The mouse advised the gruffalo that everyone is afraid of him and that the gruffalo should be scared. To prove himself he advises the gruffalo to follow him behind, as they walk through the woods they come across the fox, the owl and the snake who run away when they see the gruffalo although the gruffalo believes they are running from the mouse as he is the most scariest creature in the woods.’

A gorgeous turn-around story, so cleverly written with wonderfully descriptive phrases and catchy wording.

Ten in the Bed – Penny Dale


Buy this book, buy this book now!  An ABSOLUTE bedtime favorite, and with a rhyme/song you will immediately recognize, this is well loved by all children. This has been torn apart (with excitement and immaturity) and taped back together again, and again. Another recommendation by Mary-Ruth Wilkinson.

Lost and Found – Oliver Jeffers


About a boy who finds a penguin. An emotional one for us since it’s the first book our firstborn ‘recited’ as he was learning to talk – much to our amazement. We read this over and over and oooover.

‘This is a lovely book about friendship. One day, a little boy finds a penguin on his doorstep. Presuming the penguin is lost, he decides to help the penguin return to the south pole. They set off in a rowing boat and the boy tells the penguin lots of stories on the way. Once arrived at the south pole, the boy sets off for home alone, but both he and the penguin are sad. Eventually the boy realises that the penguin hadn’t been lost, but had simply wanted a friend and they are reunited.’

The Runaway Bunny – Margaret Wise Brown


A beautiful book. Well loved.

The Runaway Bunny is a 1942 picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. The plot deals with a small rabbit, who wants to run away. His mother, however, tells him that “if you run away, I will run after you”

The Little Yellow Digger – Betty & Alan Gilderdale

little yellow digger

Given to our boys in New Zealand by very dear family of our friends, this has been read a gazillion times. A NZ favourite and bestseller, this is ‘definitely one of the best picture books for kids learning how to read; a simple and clear text with a solid rhyming scheme, awesome bright pictures, and a practical message. The book works through progressively bigger tractors getting stuck in the mud, and then unspools it with the little yellow digger ending up the ultimate hero (and the concrete pad finally laid).’

Press Here – Herve Tullet


Given to us by another one of my favourite girlfriends in the entire universe, this book had ME captivated at first read. This is imagination at its BEST! Without question, a must-buy. You can’t go wrong with this one.

‘Opening the pages of Press Here a child enters into an imaginative world filled with dots of all colors and sizes, but it all starts with a simple yellow dot. As pages are turned and actions completed the dots come to life before a child’s eyes. Turn the book, shake the book and even blow on the dots in the book and listen to the laughter pour into your home as children & adults everywhere fall in love with this ingenious little picture book’.

Your Favourite Dr. Seuss – Dr.Seuss


The day we left Canada, while our bags were packed and sitting in our apartment, we took a stroll down memory lane. We drove past the hospital where the boys were born, we popped in at Regent College where my husband had studied and we took a walk through Chapters on Granville and Broadway – where I had worked my first job (and had been there approx 9 days). In a moment of pure spontaneity, we bought this ridiculously heavy and expensive ($45) book for the kids. Out of 4.5 years in Vancouver, this has to have been one of the best things we bought overseas. I get emotional just thinking about it.

Want a good GREEN story? Read The Lorax (included in this collection)…

‘The Lorax presents the complicated issue of caring for our environment to children in an approachable lesson about the mythical creature “the Lorax”. The Lorax “speaks for the trees” as he defends a forest of “Truffula” trees from the greedy axe of the Once-ler, a man selfishly determined to make a fortune without thought to his lasting impact on the environment and creatures around him. The Once-ler is successful, as least for a while. But before long, the Truffula trees are all gone, the forest creatures are forced to leave for their own survival, and the Once-ler who refused to heed the warnings of the Lorax is soon out of business for good. The story offers an element of hope and redemption at the end, as the Once-ler gives his account to a small boy many years later, offering him the last Truffula seed with the expectation that the boy will reverse the damage that he has done’.

Winnie the Pooh, a Collection of Tales and Poems – A.A. Milne


Another irresistible collection of stories and poems. This is another classic that has captivated the minds of adults and children alike. Beautifully written, and illustrated, you can’t help but love the simplicity (and depth) of the storytelling and the characters who reside in the Hundred Acre Wood.

‘When Christopher Robin asks Pooh what he likes doing best in the world, Pooh says, after much thought, “What I like best in the whole world is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying ‘What about a little something?’ and Me saying, ‘Well, I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet,’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing.”

‘Happy readers for over 70 years couldn’t agree more. Pooh’s status as a “Bear of Very Little Brain” belies his profoundly eternal wisdom in the ways of the world. To many, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and the others are as familiar and important as their own family members. A.A. Milne’s classics, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, are brought together in this beautiful edition, complete and unabridged, with recolored illustrations by Milne’s creative counterpart, Ernest H. Shepard. Join Pooh and the gang as they meet a Heffalump, help get Pooh unstuck from Rabbit’s doorway, (re)build a house for Eeyore, and try to unbounce Tigger. A childhood is simply not complete without full participation in all of Pooh’s adventures’. (All ages) – Emilie Coulter.

There are (obviously) many, many, maaaany more books which I’ve not featured here, and which we love such as There’s a Wocket in my Pocket, Possum Magic, Where the Wild Things Are, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Each Peach Pear Plum, Llama Llama, Love You Forever (read by Joey to Emma, Rachel’s daughter on F.R.I.E.N.D.S), Going to Bed Book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Beautiful Oops and the list goes on.

… and no, I didn’t forget about Narnia. As the kids are getting older… Mr Tumnus is becoming more and more of an intriguing character in our lives…

*Mary-Ruth Wilkinson co-authored an incredibly insightful book called Time To Read, with her daughter Heidi Wilkinson Teel.

‘In a Time to Read, Mary Ruth K. Wilkinson and her daughter, Heidi Wilkinson Teel, have compiled a helpful guide to children’s books. More than bibliography A TIME TO READ also includes essays on the nature of children, families, literature and story–and how these hold together in a Christian life, reflecting Mary Ruth’s 30 years’ experience teaching a literary and Christian approach to children’s books.’

~ Right, so, I lent this book to someone in Vancouver. I’d love it back if that’s you!

*(Most) book titles are linked to a website called Better World Books. Not only are they an amazing online store with millions of titles, but they offer free shipping ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD! You can buy new, gently used or well used books at reduced prices, and they raise money to aid literacy, learning and the building of libraries.

iPad Apps:

Far from being the perfect parent (FAAAAR), I have limited the iPad to only having educational apps. The kids know no different – they love them. We also put the clock timer on, on the iPad itself so when it buzzes, time’s UP (no tantrums).

The Endless Series: My ULTIMATE favourite. Of.all.time.

Endless wordplay

Endless Alphabet, Endless Numbers, Endless Reader, Endless Wordplay.

Usually, the initial download is free and then if you wish to acquire more words, letters, numbers etc. then you need to purchase them. Worth every penny.

endless musician

I’m fairly certain my child can recite and sound out his alphabet, can count and build words (!) PURELY because of the AMA-ZING Endless Series. I love love love LOVE these apps.

‘Endless Alphabet is a great educational app that allows children to practice their alphabet while learning new words and definitions as well as practice their spelling skills. With highly animated letters and characters, this app takes learning to a new level. It engages and educates little minds as they explore new words with fun and silly characters.’ – www.bestappsforkids.com

Letters with Pooh – Disney

Letters with pooh

Practice writing your ABCs with Winnie the Pooh in this interactive app. Help Pooh complete his quest for honey by catching falling letters and bringing letter puzzles to life. (Parents and caregivers can track proficiency for up to four children in the comprehensive parents’ section).

The PrestoBingo Apps were great when my son had his eye patch on and needed to use his weaker eye to identify shapes and colours…

PrestoBingo Colours – PrestoBingo

PrestoBingo Color’s first set of colors covers basic identification for preschoolers: black, blue, brown, gray, green, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow. On each screen, kids are asked to find objects of a certain color. Friendly narration guides them if they get stuck. To make it more challenging, sometimes kids will need to tilt their device to find a hiding shape that’s just off the screen. Then, when the basics are mastered, the difficulty level can be changed. Magenta? Periwinkle? Plum? Developing a broad vocabulary to describe color becomes a fun game.

PrestoBingo Shapes – PrestoBingo

Learn SHAPES! Beautifully illustrated and animated puzzles hide up to 20 shapes. This game teaches your child circles, diamonds, ovals, rectangles, semicircles, squares, trapezoids, and triangles. Each type of shape is explained and identified. Play a game of hide and seek. Some shapes are in plain sight, but some can be tricky to find! Do I spy an oval, hidden in the tree? Do I spy a diamond kite floating in the sky? See how many shapes you can see in each puzzle.

Thomas and Friends – Engine Activity Fun – HiT Entertainment


Little engineers will be entertained for hours as they play with come-alive puzzles, creativity-boosting coloring pages, and brain-building matching games (currently a little too advanced for my tots). Extend the play even further by purchasing additional packs with new puzzles, coloring pages, and collectible match cards.

Please join in the conversation!

What are your child’s absolute favourite books, iPad apps, and TV programs?  Do you give them a TV limit per day? Do you limit the iPad to desperate measures? Let’s chat about these things as we navigate ourselves through such a technologically advanced society that we feel sane, and after all this, that we’re doing okay…

CS Lewis

Being Silly and Being Called Silly

Today in the car on the way to school, our toddler called himself silly. He was trying to fit little square books into a little box and one fell out by accident and he said – “ahhhgggg I’m so silly”. No big deal, or is it?

Let’s not overthink this one, but in a generation of so much bullying, nastiness, self-esteem issues and peer pressure (from a horrifically early age) maybe we should be teaching our kids to think differently. I recently overheard an interview with a child psychologist and she was saying that self-talk is one thing we, as parents, friends, grandparents and siblings, can be extra aware of and encourage the health of. How your child talks to THEMSELVES is, quite obviously, very important.


So after I nipped the silliness speak in the bud, I went on and on, listing the things that he was: loved, kind, funny, smart, thoughtful, imaginative, fun, gorgeous, valued, important, caring, wonderful, and and and. I know, what a way to swing that one around huh?

kind words

While I’m most probably purely to blame for the silliness speak (I often call my husband ‘Billy’ as in Silly Billy) and while it’s not THAT big of a deal really, maybe let’s give some thought to how we talk to (and about) ourselves, our kids, our spouses (eek) and our friends, LET ALONE strangers; the petrol attendant, or the shop cashier, or the post office clerk.

Let’s find the balance between being silly (in an awesome, fun, laughter-filled way) and calling someone Silly (in a demeaning, derogatory way). There is a difference, even if it’s a little blurry.

Then this picture popped up on Facebook and it punched me in the stomach. Not because my toddler was calling himself silly, but because life is hard, nasty words get thrown around, and you can’t control it all. It’s heavy, but true.

How about we add some Dr. Seuss to the mix, to brighten up the mood. We LOVE Dr. Seuss in our house.

Dr. Seuss

And so while we work on the ‘silly’ word in our house, know we’re fighting the STINKY word too. Only bums and feet are stinky in our house. And the todd(ler), in his wildly sneaky wisdom, has started calling things sting – as in he’s leaving off the ‘keeeey’. Sting(keeeeey). Tough one.

As Ellen DeGeneres says, at the end of every Ellen show “Be kind to one another”.

unwholesome speak

Picture credit: www.etsy.com, www.thesimplybeloved.com, sweethoneytothesoul.com.