I’ve had a bit of a sad time since I last wrote. My Grandpa passed away. He was old and ready to go, but for anyone who is close to their grandparents, you’ll know how it feels to lose one. Especially someone who was larger than life, like he was.
From death there always comes lessons, and my biggest lesson of all is to be grateful. Grateful that I had the opportunity of loving and being loved by grandparents for so many years, grateful that I have such an amazing family (who place huge amounts of importance on things that really count, like relationships) and grateful for all the happy memories that I have of my Gramps.
Something else that has come out of his death is the urge to continue looking at my life for ways to make it fuller, happier and healthier. The end of one cycle is always the opportunity for another to begin. There have been a few things I’ve been meaning to get going with for ages and just haven’t done, so I reckoned that when I came back to Knysna from the funeral, it would be the perfect time to get started.
I’m finally ordering vegetables from a nearby organic farm (as close to organic as they can be for now) to supplement what we grow, and to make sure that I don’t buy any more out-of-season, chemical ridden veggies. See how fabulous they look! They taste amazing too :)
And then we’ve started, as per the suggestion of raw food guru, David Wolfe, to have a raw smoothie, juice and sprouts everyday. We’re making them pink so that Lily buys into the whole concept, and so far so good. In fact, it’s her that asks me in the afternoon when we’re going to make our pinkalicious juice! We’re each getting in about six different raw fruits, six raw veggies everyday and raw nuts, seeds and sprouts everyday. The change in energy levels and improved digestion was almost immediate. And I now wake up craving my smoothie so it doesn’t feel like an effort to make it at all :)
Have a beautiful weekend, Natural Mamas. You’ll be hearing from me again soon…
Graeme and I have agreed that we’re going to spend more and more time camping on the weekends. We’ve made a deal that we’ll go at least once a month, and so far have stuck to it. It’s been magical. Even though we’ve had trips with wind, rain, tummy bugs and broken-down cars to challenge us, there’s just nothing that beats spending an entire weekend cooking over a fire, eating every meal under the sky and spending all day playing outside.
It’s also just the perfect way to remind ourselves how simple life can be, and how few things we actually need. Our tent has two rooms (it’s rather a palace of tent I must admit) and I had the very powerful thought the last time we were camping, how that is all we actually need for our family. Back home we have this huge house and all this stuff, but in fact, two rooms, a couple tables chairs and a mattress met all of our basic needs. We were comfy, and happy!
If you don’t go camping very often, I really would like to encourage you to add it into your life. I think it’s the perfect way to encourage your children to spend more time in the natural world, and for them to realise how simple and joyful life can be :)
So, it’s less than three months until our Baby Bean (child No.2) is born. I must be honest, although physically my pregnancy has been exactly the same as it was with Lily, emotionally and mentally it’s been very different. Everyone said that when you have a toddler you don’t have the same time to focus on your pregnancy, and I see what they mean. In some ways it feels like a total dream that we’re going to have another baby – besides being kicked in the ribs every few hours! And of course because I’ve experienced childbirth once before, the same questions and apprehension, aren’t as much of a feature this time around.
(image via Birth Without Fear blog)
To try and make this pregnancy feel more real, I’ve been placing a lot more of my time and focus on it in the last couple of weeks. I’ve started the baby room, and bought him/her a new little outfit. We’ve been sifting through names in the evenings, and I’ve also been reading some great blogs. One of the best that I’ve come across is Birth Without Fear, and that’s what I wanted to share with you today.
There are a number of women involved in the blog, and many, many different birthing stories and views are shared. It’s incredibly empowering to read about the births of others, and to gain as much knowledge about birthing as possible, because I believe that’s how we, as women and mothers, are able to make the most informed decisions. If you’re expecting, hoping to fall pregnant, or are just purely interested in the birthing topic, I can highly recommend this beautiful blog :)
As most of you would of guessed by my absence, life has been a little crazy lately. I had another whole post planned to do with the last few weeks, but just got told that one of my best friend’s sister’s passed away this morning. Although I didn’t know his sister well at all, I can quite literally feel my heart hurting for their family. She was young, she was married, she had two small children. She had three close-knit siblings, and very very devoted parents. In fact, the more I think about it, they’re just one of those family’s that you can’t imagine this sort of thing happening to. A brain tumour killing a thirty-something-year-old in just a few weeks from discovering it. It seems so cruel.
Most of the things that I’ve been learning about and struggling with in the last few weeks seem so insignificant now. A tummy bug. The flu. Work. Jealousy. Money. Home decor. A child becoming a fussy eater. What is all that “stuff” when it can just disappear in a second? It’s nothing. They’re things that we spend our time worrying over, trying to avoid, or trying to fix. I wonder how many of us are wasting our time, energy and love on a daily basis over things that actually mean nothing at all?
I imagine my friend’s family will be learning that lesson more deeply now than any of us will be able to comprehend. The lesson of true loving, true being. All that the rest of us can do is try our very bests to keep the lesson at the forefront of our minds. To catch our stressful or worrying thoughts and to throw them out. To sit on the floor with our children and colour or cut or stick. To hold our husband’s hand. To prepare simple meals and to enjoy them with our families around a table. To call those that we love from afar. To take time to walk on the beach, or drink coffee with a friend, or to just be. To live a life of love. Carrying out the small actions of love. I reckon that’s the most important thing of all.
I’ve spoken about Kiddiekix before. It’s a business which makes and sells a range of health products for kids, both natural cosmetics and foods. Kiddiekix looking for people who are interested in promoting and selling their products, Natural Mamas being the perfect candidates :)
If you’re wanting to earn some extra money, or feel like you need an extra challenge, perhaps it’s worth having a chat to Kiddiekix? You can find more information about becoming an agent here. Good luck!
I made this salad a little while ago and loved every mouthful. The only difference now is that I don’t eat much dairy, so I’d probably leave out the feta cheese, or at least use goats milk feta. Either way, it’ll still be super tasty, healthy and perfect as a summer lunch or dinner side.
1 Cup Quinoa
2 Tsp Vegetable Stock
1 Cup Butternut, Diced and Peeled
1 Red Onion, Peeled and Chopped into Chunks
1/4 Cup Almonds, Roughly Chopped
2 Rounds Feta, optional
Handful of Rocket
Lemon juice, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper to Taste
Place the butternut and red onion on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, and roast at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) for about 30 minutes, or until soft and golden.
Cook the quinoa while the veggies are roasting, according to the instructions on the bag. Add the vegetable stock to the boiling water to flavour the quinoa. Once cooked, drain any excess water and allow to cool.
Toss the almonds in a dry pan for a few minutes, until lightly toasted.
In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, butternut and onion. Top with the nuts, feta and rocket, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and you’re ready to serve. Enjoy :)
PS. Just thinking that cubes of avo would be a really great replacement for the feta. Mmmm…. going to give it a try soon.
It’s quite entertaining to see how many people are asking me whether I’d choose to have a homebirth again, almost with a look of expectancy on their faces. I guess because they have fears for me about something going wrong, they’re hoping I’ll respond that I won’t, that I didn’t enjoy it the first time around, and that I now have realised that hospitals are the way to go. Unfortunately, all I do is disappoint. My response is the exact opposite. “Of course I’d like to have a homebirth again,” I say, “I can’t imagine it any other way”.
I read back on the post that I wrote shortly before I gave birth to Lily titled 1o Reasons to have a Homebirth. After actually experiencing one for myself, I still believe the same points. I know that I will most probably still experience a large amount of pain, but somehow at home I imagine it to be more bearable - as many women have attested to. Being in your own space, and being able to move around as much as you choose (even going for walks around the garden) being the biggest reasons.
I also often wonder if I’d been at a hospital and if I was given the choice of having painkillers, if I possibly would’ve gone for them. In a moment of weakness, I think I just might’ve. Let’s remember that Lily weighed 4.08kg and got stuck in my birth canal about seven hours into active labour. The thing with birth is that most of us get to that moment of weakness, but actually, the chances are that we can get through it without pain medication if we find a deep dark place within ourselves. If relief is offered to us though, it’d be a far easier option to go for it, instead of digging deep inside. And in case you’re wondering, not having any medication is not about me being a sadist, or a martyr, it’s about wanting to give my child the purest, most natural start to life. Something that isn’t always our choice, I know, but something that I’d do everything in my power to attain.
More than anything, though, what I loved about my homebirth was the time immediately after the birth, and the days that followed. I wasn’t rushed to climb out the birth pool. Graeme, Lily and I stayed in the water for almost forty five minutes after she was born. We were given the chance to just enjoy the moment and to encourage Lily to latch. Graeme only cut the umbilical cord when it had stopped pulsating. When it was time to deliver the placenta, I climbed out the water and Graeme got to cuddle Lily, and then when I went to shower, Mandy (midwife) and Gauri (doctor) performed all the necessary tests on her. Right there, in the living room. When all was done, I lay back on the couch with Lily, dogs at my feet and drank some soup that I’d made the day before. It was all just so calm, so peaceful, so comfortable.
A few members of family visited that first day, but I’ll never forget the second day, when about eight of my friends all visited at once. I was upstairs on my bed with Lily, and the dogs, and had all eight in the room with me, sitting on the bed, chairs and floor. Mandi arrived and she climbed right into the middle of it all to have a cuddle with Lily. We all drank tea, ate cake, chatted, laughed, and quizzed Mandi about labour and birth. Lily was passed from person to person, and it just stood out at this totally surreal moment, the perfect way for my child to meet my friends, to begin her experience in this world.
I guess what I’ve realised even more since then, is that I’m just not a hospital person. The smell, the sterility, the sounds, the whole feel is something that makes me uncomfortable. I know it isn’t the same for everyone. A labrador hanging his head over the edge of a bloody birthing pool is probably enough to make many women shiver with disgust, but for me, it was beautiful.
I wanted my child to be born into my world, as it is, and that’s exactly what happened. It’s what a homebirth is all about. I cross all my fingers and all my toes, and put my full trust in the Universe, that my second child will be able to experience the same.
PS. If you’ve never read Lily’s full birth story, take a look here.
PPS. If you’re considering natural birth, or a homebirth, or if you know of anyone else who is, and if you have questions to ask, please feel free to get in touch with me. Any, any time! You can email me (Sarah) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve just spent a wonderful week in Cape Town, where I got to chat to lots of different moms about various things related to natural living and parenting. It got me thinking about what exactly I believe a Natural Mama or Natural Parent to be. Here’s what it means to me:
- The main idea behind being a Natural Mama is that we are conscious parents. This means that we don’t just parent blindly (because a book says so, your mom says so or a doctor says so). We parent from our hearts, from love for ourselves and love for our children, and we make sure that we are fully aware of the choices that we make as parents and why we are making them. We try our very best to not parent from fear.
- We look to Nature for guidance in all areas of parenting. This means we see the value in things like natural birth, breastfeeding and wearing your baby as often as possible. This is because practices like these have been carried out for thousands of years by humans and even longer by animals. We trust that Nature knows best because it is so much older and stronger than us.
- When buying food, cleaning products, cosmetics, clothes, etc, we consider what they are made of, where they were made. We aim to buy products which are as close to their natural, organic or whole state as possible.
- Spending time outdoors with our children is important to us.
- Encouraging our children to learn lessons based on nature and natural principles is important to us.
- We understand that there is a Higher Power working with us, through us. Whether you call it Nature, God, Source,etc it is a presence that guides us in our parenting responsibilities and decisions.
- We understand the importance of balance, just as Nature does. There is no need for us to be extremists or fundamentalists, cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world. For me, it’s important to have one foot in the spiritual, natural world, and one foot in the everyday world. If we are to help and guide others to lead a more conscious, wholesome, natural lifestyle, we need to be able to relate to them, and them to us. If we are too extreme in our beliefs, if we’ve lost touch with the real world of today (the plastic-sugar-television-made-in-china-chemical-ridden world), then we need to question why. It is our world, it is our home, and it needs us to be a part of it, so that we are able to help it grow and evolve in love.
- We respect other parents and their beliefs and choices. Our way is not necessarily the right way. There is no right way.
- We do not judge other parents, other parents-to-be, other children. Everyone is on their own path, with their own lessons to learn, their own past, present and future. I’ll repeat this: We do not judge.
- We understand that a happy, fulfilled Mama is the best kind of Mama for our children. If that means you work a full day, half day or not at all, it really doesn’t matter. If your heart is smiling because it is pleased with how you spend your time and energy, I believe that your children’s hearts will be smiling too. My favourite quote applies to this: “Then one day she decided to create the life of her dreams, while her child watched her every move”.
- And lastly, we understand that we are separate from our children. We are their parents, their teachers, their guides. They are not an extension of us. They are their own beings, on their own paths, with their own lessons to learn. We cannot take their every word and action personally. We do not need to make excuses for them. We must not judge them, we must not judge ourselves because of them. All we can do is love them, and do our very best for them, whatever that means to us.
A fellow Natural Mama recently sent me the link to her new blog, Light and Splendour. Andrea co-authors the blog with her husband, Daniel. They recently had their first child, and are recording their experiences of raising little Dia to be nappy-free.
Their journey is a beautiful one to take note of, and their blog an informative and entertaining one to read. I love how honest they are, and how connected they’re learning to be with their Dia. Light and Splendour also shares other great tips on how to live a more natural, eco-conscious life. All together a great one to follow – and because it’s relatively new, it’s easy to go back and start reading their posts right from the very beginning!
And then lastly, I did touch on this last week, but what I’m really learning to accept is that sometimes when Lily is over-tired, there’s just no distracting or going back from a tantrum. I quickly see that it’s going to happen and then I allow her to let the emotions out, but not giving her any attention whatsoever. They’re now getting shorter and shorter. Sometimes I’ll just quietly put my hand on her leg so that she knows I care about her, but am not going to play into the drama of it. It helps me to stay calm, and not get worked up or embarrassed.
Our children are going to have tons of negative emotions throughout their lives, and I firmly believe that it’s important we allow them to experience and really feel them, but also not use them to get their own way. A fine line, but an important one to work with.
I have also been told before that when a child becomes completely hysterical, it’s a good idea to grab them in a huge hug and apply a lot of body pressure, to almost restrict them. Tantrums like this have often gone beyond emotion, and apparently this pressure helps to shut down their senses and quieten the active part of their brain, calming them down more quickly. Most definitely worth a try.
That’s it, Natural Mamas. Enjoy Light and Splendour, and have a beautiful, beautiful week xxx
PS. Some yummy new recipes coming soon!
During the December holidays my darling little two-and-a-half-year old upped her feisty antics rather drastically. She shoved and pushed her cousins whenever they did something she didn’t like, and she started to throw tantrums more and more regularly. I understand that having constant guests in her space, other children playing with her things, and being out of her normal routine was quite a lot to deal with, but it’s not behaviour that I wanted to encourage. I can now also see that by me not being very clear on what her boundaries were, would’ve also added to her frustration.
After her first day back at school, one of the teachers mentioned her throwing a tantrum. I told them how she’d had lots of them during the holidays (one being a full-blown, back-arching, snotty-faced screaming fit in the queue in Woolworths – that aisle of sweets is one of my least favourite things in the world!). Immediately, Lily’s new teacher overheard me say this, and asked why I never called her for help. I had no idea that I could!
Ever since then, she’s been guiding me on how to set boundaries with Lily and we’re having the most amazing results. She’s an incredibly gentle, caring teacher, but all her children know where they stand with her. She does not tolerate tantrums, whining or having to ask them to do things twice. They just listen. How has she got it so right? Because she’s 100% consistent, and sets very clear boundaries.
When we were leaving that day I said to Lily, “Please will you take your lunch box”. She pulled me back right away, and said, “No. You don’t ask a toddler to do something, you tell them to do it. Gently, but clearly. Like this: Lily, take your lunch box”. Immediately Lily took the box and started to walk to the car. Antoinette explained how this age is all about “training” them, repetitiveness and being clear. No choices, no questions. ”Imagine,” she said, “you’re in your yoga class and your teacher says, “Will you please put up your right hand, or you can put up your left”. You’ll be left wondering which is best, and wondering if this teacher really knows what she’s talking about. You’ll feel insecure. If she tells you clearly to but up both hands, and stretch up into them, immediately you know what you need to do. You feel safe in her knowledge and experience.
We are our children’s teachers. She explained that from about two until five years old, they can’t deal with too much choice. They rather need clear consistent boundaries and guidelines. “Pack away your toys”, “Climb into the bath”, “Get dressed for school”. I’ve even started just choosing the book we’ll read every nap time and bed time, and she hasn’t said a word. It used to be a ten minute debacle with her trying to decide, me getting frustrated, and her getting confused.
The other bit of advice Antoinette gave me is that as soon as I notice a tantrum beginning, or whining beginning, I must just redirect her. Take her hand and lead her away, chatting about something else entirely. Point to the pretty pink flower, ask her to spot the red cars, or count how many clouds you can see. It’s amazing how the little tantrums just dissolve. Every now and then, when she’s absolutely exhausted, she’ll still get really upset, and then I just allow her to cry, giving her no reaction whatsoever. I’m teaching her that tantrums aren’t the way to deal with her negative emotions.
I used to be worried that if I didn’t react to her tantrums she’d think I didn’t care. When she started to whine, because she didn’t get her way, I’d need to explain why I’d made that decision. Now I’m learning that she is only a very little person who doesn’t need to understand all the reasoning behind my decisions. I’m her Mom. I know what is best for her, I know what qualities I’d like to instill in her, and the only way that I’m going to be able to do that is to clearly and calmly set boundaries.