The frenzy Toddler Life

Do you have a toddler in the house?

Toddler is an age of wonder, humor and loud meltdowns over palm tree pony tails and spaghetti noodles. In fact, toddler is an age where if you don’t or can’t find the humor in all the little things that can go wrong in a day you will end up crying in the corner before breakfast is over. For me, I only appreciate coffee or tea if its made before my toddler wakes up.

Thankfully ,this stage I believed can be  survived,( As What to expect says so..!)

As I ponder on her toddler days, I can find  wisdom and humor to the generation below her, and hey, I know I am not alone.So, how is your life  been with all the messes?

Have you been bending a lot too?

Who pick-up most of the scattered toys?

For the last 1.5 years, I realized this ; “What is a home without children? ” Quiet. The silence is always golden.

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Natalie trying to ride her Papa’s wooden Bike when He was a Toddler himself. A memento for the 2nd generation.

I can know if a household has a toddler or not. Just listen to the loudness of noise or the total absence of it. When you call someone, the crying, shouting, and loud attention seeking tiny human is breathing out her lungs just for you to cut off that call short.

If you have a toddler, its like  having a blender without a top cap over it.Imagine staring down a blender full of berries and knowing you have to start it without the lid. That’s pretty much how I feel every time I have to take my toddler out amongst the general public even for a short 20 minutes —even to the nearby supermarket, you know it’s going to be terrible, but you don’t really have a choice. I cannot risk to let her loose in the aisles or else we’ll be paying for many broken items. Did I mention that all of a sudden she doesn’t want to sit in her stroller?

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Kissing frog is old school. Now its Kissing the barks of Trees. Very nature-Friendly Kid.

Silence is golden- unless you have a toddler.In that case, silence is very very suspicious.Be quick, be very very quick to check her out. She might be eating something from the floor or licking the window glass and trying to flatten her nose though it.

That exercise looks adorable though.

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It feels great to learn to scribble on my Face !

Toddlers have their own set of rules, and until you can convince them that your way or the highway is really the only set of rules in the house there will be a lot of screaming, yelling and maybe trying to tell you in their own language “HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME GO TO BED AT A DECENT HOUR?”. Spell rebellion. They’re so cute, but they can get SO MEAN. All she wants to do is to run, make a mess, cling to me and repeat the same routine.

She used to loved to devour grapes, but now, she just turn her nose up when she sees it. Has her taste buds suddenly twisted? Toddlers are like mini-versions of drunk people.

 

My daughter is no exception. For the past few months, I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety, worrying that my child may accidentally kill herself. She stumbles through life on unsteady feet, not paying attention to what is in front of her, off to the next adventure, and she never fails to inadvertently stumble (or rather, crash) into danger. We are always waiting to hear the next bang, boom, screech or howl.I cannot forget the sound when she fell out from her crib.It was horrible thug.

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The Frenzy life of a Toddler

I’ve heard many parents of toddlers complain about what a headache they can be. They pee & poop in odd places.  They stumble and fall into things and are basically one giant bruise. They throw tantrums. They refuse to eat their meals. They rip the pages out of their books, Hold on forever to anything that is color blue, eats wood etc.  They won’t sleep in their own beds but rather sleep on the edge! They splash in mud puddles and lick the windows and lick the tires of the stroller & bike. Toddlers are a pain in the ass. It’s just the truth.

As much stress and anxiety as my toddler causes me, most of the time, I can’t help but just laugh… Ahh Toddler Life!

For Mamas & Papas out there who can relate, How’s your  life with a toddler in the house?

 

My daughter’s first love

Before my daughter was born, I knew that she will be the other woman in my husband’s life. I am sure all the other mothers out there can relate to my thoughts.There is no better view to look at for us to see when we see that our children are raised closely in the guidance of their father.

As Sigmund Freud says;

 I cannot think of any need in Childhood stronger as the need for a Father’s protection. 

A child who knows they are protected can grow up feeling safe and secure. Emotions are strong in childhood, and often fear is one of the strongest emotions of all.  A Papa’s arms are strong and fearless and to a child, they bring safety and peace.

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Dear child , The world is your playground ,go on and explore.

A father’s perspective fulfills every child’s need for exploration and adventure

“Fathers represent another way of looking at life — the possibility of an alternative dialogue.” While we, as  mothers focus a great deal on raising perfect children, fathers have a different perspective. They let children dress themselves, choose their own breakfast, jump in mud puddles and swing on ropes tied to the rafters.

My husband let Natalie explore on her own but guiding her by her side. He encourages more free-play. He lets her climb & let her learn how to climb down. He has taught her how to safely descend safely from the  stairs & chairs. He is trying his best to make “palm tree ” ( or ponytails) in her ever messy hair. I love the way He put on her clothes that are totally as per his own taste and haste !

Fathers allow children to explore and give them freedom that usually isn’t allotted them by their mother. This different perspective is good for children because it gives them the opportunity to explore, to go on adventures, and to live in their make believe worlds.

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A father’s love is endless. When a father gets involved, He is parenting in his own way.

“The greatest mark of a father is how he treats his children when no one is looking.”

In Netherlands,  Papadag (Or Daddy’s day ) has become a standard norm. This is included in the calendar of every working father’s calendar. It’s the time of the week where in the father takes a day off from work to spend time & take care of his child. Isn’t this amazing?Dutch fathers take more an equal role in parenting and being more hands-on. 

Studies show that if your child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to your child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity.

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Any man can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Father.
I am writing this post to give credit to fathers who are involved in parenting their child. One of the things that I have learned as a new mother is that when your husband respect you as the mother of his child, eventually He is an involved Father. With the stress of bearing the responsibilities of being the head of the family, His efforts should not be underestimated.

So next time you see your husband spends more time with your child, be grateful.Let him. Give the encouragement that He needs & deserves.Your child will reap the benefits of this. Do not think of it as He is sharing the “chore “but rather look at it as “He is doing his own way of Parenting “.

It is important to recognize and reward fathers  for being there, and actively teaching important life skills to children. It is important to their children, and meaningful to dads everywhere when you say “Thank you, job well done.” This, after all, is what makes life worth living. This is our own  true legacy: ensuring the health and well-being of our children : the future generation.

What is your parenting style? Do you also value the concept of  Papadag?

Landgoed Singraven : Sun is warm, grass is Green.

The world is better when it is Green.

We found another perfect green paradise and as always, Nature never fails to amaze me. I am a lover of beautiful buildings & modern structures, but nothing compares to a visit to nature. The allure of the sound of the gentle waters slushing from a flowing river, the crisp green plants, the warm and bright sun that touches our cheeks with the gentle breeze.

Its all priceless.

 Do you know that your mood changes the moment you are exposed to green outdoors? It’s a natural  booster.

Or haven’t you realized  that strolling and walking outside can even increase your creativity?

I grew up playing outdoors a lot. My childhood memories are full of  playing & running in the rice fields, catching spiders and spending so much time as if there’s no tomorrow.It was so much fun compared to the modern games of iPad now. Now that I am a mother, I am so concerned about this especially with a wandering, active, feisty toddler who wants to be out, all the time! Studies show that playing in the dirt (soil) outdoors helps kids stay healthy. Bacteria, viruses and other gross things in the soil actually help the immune system, and brain develop. Playing the dirt can also improve a child’s mood and reduce anxiety and stress. There is really a great insight why spending outdoors in green settings can do so much to our overall being. This is also one of the reasons why Dutch kids have a very active & happy childhood. They are so blessed with natural greens.

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The wandering Toddler

We’re so glad that we stumbled into this hidden Green Oasis and a gem tucked in the woods. It”s  a secluded place of imaginary fairies, lotus, and serene river Dinkel tucked away from the busyness of the city life. There we heard only the sound of Nature. Nothing else. Everything is green. Everything is fresh. Even the sun has a special rays. It is gentle. The breeze is cool. We felt instantly at home.

Langoed Singraven estate is beautifully situated along the Dinkel near the village of Denekamp. In here are many special monumental buildings, including the state house Singraven, the rear coach house and the ancient water mill with three wheels. Singraven offers a versatile landscape with woods, alleys, fields, meadows, marshes, and the ever-present Dinkel. If you visit Holland, don’t miss to see this place. It is worth your time.

This place has  fascinating cultural history, soothing and interesting nature, active leisure activities such as cycling or walking and much more. My daughter just simply loved lounging on the greenest grass that we have ever seen! She climbs everywhere and licked the grass, pinch it, and tasted it. I cannot blame her, the place is like an oasis to us. We haven’t had these amazing greens in Kuwait, so we really indulge.

 

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Even the water in the river celebrates nature. A reflection of quiet green bliss.
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The Langoed Singraven  ( Singraven means Large Canal )
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Of Mid Summer Night’s Dream ,with clear River Dinkel on the side.
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Dutch Watermills (Watermolen)

Now one of the fascinating things about Netherlands is their Watermolen (or WaterMills).The Singraven watermills were first mentioned in 1448 and inspired famous 17th century painters like Jacob Ruysdael and Meindert Hobbema.

 This watermill is unique because of its three mill wheels: one oil mill (inactive), a flour mill and a saw mill; both of which are fully functional and still in use. Current buildings date from around 1880. So much beauty &  history on this place.

Singraven has a manor which is sometimes open to the public and a watermill. The watermill has three functions: oil-mill, flour-mill and a sawmill.  Today the oil-mill is a restaurant but the other two are still functioning with the of volunteers.

The first house of Singraven dates back to 1415 but it was demolished and replaced by a new house in 1661. Several different Counts and families lived in the house. Almost all of them made improvements to the house. The last owner is  Willem Frederik Jan Laan donated the estate to a foundation.

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The River Dinkel that flows through Singraven

There so much activity that this place can offer. Its perfect for families with little children who wants to explore and roam.The vast area is perfect for Hiking, cycling, walking, strolling, or just enjoying a quiet meditation. The place has a park, a range of restaurants , Dinkel shop, Watermills, Carriage Houses that can house a function, Dinner or Luncheon meetings. You can even marry in this lovely place. This could be a perfect setting for a romantic garden wedding.This is also the ideal place to learn more about Nature. Estate Singraven participates in the project “Education on Location”, organized by the Foundation Museums in Dinkelland. Other participating institutions and museums are: Huize Keizer, Natura Docet, Mill Foundation Lattrop-Tilligte the Open Air Museum Ootmarsum and Cosmos Observatory. If you want to learn mohre about this place, you can check their website (Dutch ) Here.

Do you enjoy green landscape of Nature like this? What do you appreciate about country living?

Hope you have a chance to visit a green place just like this. Here’s to #theworldneedsmoregreens!

 

50 shades of green smoothie for a Picky Toddler

 

My  super active  toddler is a picky eater. So as my husband. No kidding.Really.So what I had to do for them to get their veggies?

Simple Answer : GREEN SMOOTHIES

I love everything about healthy green smoothies. I’m talking about the pure, raw green,leafy , veggies & fruits smoothies that are packed with nutrients and vitamins and not the commercial smoothies that are loaded with creams & sugars. When I noticed that my daughter is a picky eater,  I tried almost everything just to get her appetite on track, especially eating healthy veggies. She’s fine with fruits.She’s eating them like a horse.But with veggies, she needed a boost. This is the reason why I had opt to green smoothies. This has become our new habit. What’s the bonus? The husband also enjoyed gulping a bottle.

A green smoothie is simply a smoothie or juiced from raw , fresh & natural green leafy  vegetables and fruits blended together . No added sugars or sweeteners. Pure nutrition & goodness. Milk & a good diet is till our top priority for my daughter, but getting her into smoothie is also a way to instill early good eating habits.

But why introduce green smoothies to a baby?

Because this stage is the perfect time for them to get into this. I want my baby & my family to be healthy at the same time their taste buds Happy.

I did my homework before introducing the green smoothie to my daughter. I don’t like to join the smoothie bandwagon just because its the trend or its the “In “. No, you need to make choices that has lifelong impacts. Health is one thing you don’t wanna compromise.

My daughter is sensitive & have a mild food allergy so until now, so I am really very careful of what food I offer to her. She loved it. We just make sure that we give it to her every other day in order not to pressure her tummy. As experts say that  children’s taste buds develop in the first 3 years of life so it’s best to take advantage of this time and offer a wide variety of healthy food choices. This helps to establish a taste bud-brain connection to different flavors and textures. Kale and other dark leafy green vegetables can have a strong flavor but are also great source of nutrients. The amazing chemicals in kale and other raw cruciferous vegetables assist in detoxification. In fact, Sulforophane in these dark leafy greens ramps up phase 2 detoxification in the liver, providing over 72 hours of protection from both environmentally and internally produced toxins. Considering that cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children in the US today, I think it’s very important to make sure that older babies and toddlers are receiving at least one small serving of raw cruciferous vegetables every one to two days.

I am really glad how she is taking it in and more than satisfied that my husband also loved it. It really helps me and eases my mind. Now I know why Green Smoothies made such a great buzz. Nowadays, you can see it everywhere. People are talking about it. It sounds Healthy. You know that It is Healthy. When I reflect on this, I,too  have made a goal for myself :

“Without good health, it’s hard to enjoy life. So I’m going to keep myself and my loved ones always healthy.”

What’s your health goal?

We have been into this for quite sometime & I’m telling you, it brings glow to us. Even if I’m always tired from daily out & about, I feel wonderful. Having a full glass of Green smoothie keeps me satiated. Since then, I have experienced dramatic improvements in health, energy and mental clarity by increasing my consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole foods. I do look forward to our grocery shopping and spend more time looking for green veggies & lush fruits to include to our smoothie recipes.

My starter 50 SHADES of Green Smoothie :

  • Small bunch of spinach
  • A small bunch of kale
  • 1 piece medium size cucumber
  • 1 lemon (juice )
  • 1 tiny ginger root peeled & chopped
  • 2-3 cups of water /coconut juice
  • 1 green apple
  • 2  medium sized red apples

Blend all together in a Blender, pour into medium sized glass bottles, add a funky straw & there you go, a super packed-vitamins & delish Green Smoothie. Once you get the hang of it, you can experiment on so many varieties of fruits & veggies like Banana, mangoes,  and so much more depending on your personal taste. Do what works for you.

But before you try it for yourself, you need to know some precautions to avoid common mistakes. Here’s what I have learned from the Book “Green Smoothie Revolution ” by Victoria Boutenko. Here’s the excerpt .You can purchase this Here.

  • Prepare your green smoothie first thing in the morning in the amount that you usually consume in one day, one or two quarts (liters). Pour enough smoothie in a glass for your morning enjoyment and keep the rest in a refrigerator or another cold place.
  • Sip your green smoothie slowly, mixing it with saliva.
  • Don’t add anything to your smoothie except greens, fruit, and water. I don’t recommend adding nuts, seeds, oils, supplements or other ingredients to your green smoothie. Most of these items slow down the assimilation of green smoothies in your digestive tract and may cause irritation and gas. I encourage you to stick to the basic green smoothie recipe (fruit, greens, and water) in your daily routine.
  • Drink your smoothie by itself, and not as a part of a meal. Don’t consume anything, even as little as a cracker or candy with it. You may eat anything you want approximately 40 minutes before or 40 minutes after you finished your smoothie. Your goal is to get the most nutritional benefit out of your green smoothie.
  • Do not add starchy vegetables such as carrots, beets, broccoli stems, zucchini, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, egg plant, pumpkin, squash, okra, peas, corn, green beans, and others to your green smoothies. Starchy vegetables combine poorly with fruit and may produce what my children call “gas 4 less.”
  • Don’t add too many ingredients into one smoothie, such as nine different fruits and a dozen different greens. Try to keep most of your recipes simple to maximize nutritional benefits and to keep it easy on your digestive system.
  • Learn to prepare a really delicious green smoothie so that you are always looking forward to the next one. If your drink is not tasty, you will eventually discontinue consuming it.
  • Always rotate the green leaves that you add to your smoothies. Almost all greens in the world contain minute amounts of alkaloids. Tiny quantities of alkaloids cannot hurt you, and even strengthen the immune system. However, if you keep consuming kale, or spinach, or any other single green for many weeks without rotation, eventually the same type of alkaloids can accumulate in your body and cause unwanted symptoms of poisoning. Please note that you don’t have to rotate the fruit in your green smoothies. Most commonly used fruit have very little or none of the alkaloids and cannot cause the same toxic reactions as greens. At the same time, rotating fruits will enhance the variety of flavor and nutrition in your smoothies.
  • Choose organic produce whenever possible. The absence of pesticides and other toxic chemicals is only one of many benefits of organic food. The most important reason to consume organic food is the superior nutrition of organic fruits and vegetables in comparison to conventionally grown produce. We have been discussing earlier, how deficient most people are. The best way to nourish your body is to consume organic produce and whenever possible, locally grown. I consider it very important to get the fruit that was allowed to ripen on the vine because it is the best for nourishment. Tree-ripened fruit is several times more nutritious and when consumed shortly after picking retains significantly more nutrients.
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50 shades of Green ,Never Mean.
I want to encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity and flaunt that green drink like it’s a trendsetter. Why? Because it is. Health is the new wealth. Period.
Happy healthy-yummy-balanced smoothie sipping and chewing!

Raising a Book-Lover in your child

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My Third Culture Kid, A book lover, a wide reader at age 3

“Children are made readers on the lap of their parents “-Emily Buchwald

Do you read books to your child?

Being a first time mother, I am ever-curious, almost for everything. From baby care to fun activities with children up to how to raise your child to read and love books! Thanks to the internet that information is just a finger’s tap away. This is the reality of an Expat life without the luxury of having your immediate relatives living nearby. You learned how to deal with almost everything by yourself.  Even when I was still pregnant, I read that reading is one thing that you could do with your child as a special bonding time. I hope for the best in raising my child , which I understand  is a universal wish of every parent. Early habits are formed during the growing years of childhood and this includes the ways we teach them every single day. What happens every single day inside your home is the fundamentals of her early development years. There’s no greater peace you can find from having your child on your lap and exploring the wonderful world of reading.

I set up a goal for myself and my daughter : I want her to love reading. I don’t know how is it going to be in the future but I ma living each day materializing this goal. Books should be an integral part of her childhood and it is my responsibility as a parent to guide her in this.

I’m a firm believer that inside our home is where the first learning starts. Reading to infants and babies at an early stage has a great impact on the receptive and expressive language development, whether it’s for learning, character building or literacy purposes. Be it plain reading ,story-reading, reading -out-Loud, Picture Book Reading, Joint-Reading, Shared Reading, playing while reading ,really , it doesn’t matter. As long as you incorporate books into your child’s  daily routines . Trust me ,it’s proven to have long term results.

There’s no greater joy for me than to see my daughter flipping the pages of her books everyday at the same time eating them! The moment she woke up , she ran up to her basket of books and start “making  messy-reading “.  I dunno why she do it, but she just loves to throw, snuggle, crash, and throw all her books all around her. We started to read to her as soon as she was born. Every single day, every single morning. Does this sound boring to you? Trust me, it will soon pay-off!

Every single moment of her playtime, or anytime we feel like grabbing her books. When we go out, we always stash a book or two for her to read and play. She’s just 17 months old ,and I know that she still cannot read, but the fact that she’s so engrossed with books and shows signs of loving it more than she loved her toys really made me smile.She knows the character of the stories, the sounds, and the pictures. She even have her all time favorites!

I was lucky that my daughter was gifted with a bunch of books. Since then, I tried to make time for her &  set a goal to read aloud to her,  reading the picture-books to her everyday, flipping the pages for her dreamy eyes to enjoy the colorful images and gobble on it eventually. I even put a book on her bath time. With the presence of iPads, iphones & TV nowadays,it’s easy to give in to this threats. The flashy screens are so tempting and attractive for your toddlers, But I tell you, there is no greater gift to your child than to read a book to her while in your lap.

This really made a daily bonding time between us.

So how to raise a book-lover in your child? Here’s how I’m doing it and loving it so far;

  • First, Start early. -There’s never too-early to read to your child.If you let her be exposed to books and the habit of reading at an early stage, the better. Soon she will catch it all by herself. She will have a body clock calling for reading!
  • Make your own Baby-Library. -I put out all her books in one basket that is accessible to her on her tummy time and during the time that she can actually grab it and flip through the pages. Investing on great, classic pieces is always a good idea. I’ve never been so aware about children’s books & stories since I began reading to her. It has been a learning phase for me as well. I had to memorize the characters of the story so I can read a loud better.
  • Make it a habit.- Stick to your routine. Babies picked up fast when you do it in repetition. They will eventually memorize the rhymes, the covers, the texture,the sound, and your voice while you read it with them. Do it before going to bed,after napping, or even while you snuggle with your child.
  • Create a Reading Haven.- In your Home or in a tiny quiet corner in your house.Yes ,create a cozy reading area  or a little corner/nook for you and your Little One.Put on some throws pillows and spread a mat and get those books for you to enjoy and linger on each moment.Soon, she will learn that special  place is place for her to be absorbed with books. This place should be free from distraction.You can even do this while having finger snacks for her too. Sounds absolutely fun!
  • Visit a Library and Bookshop together.- Let your child explore and choose the books she like.In this stage she will for sure play, scatter and bite on those,Just let her let go of her steam. We brought our daughter to a bookstore in Amsterdam once she was just 9 months old and we were quite astonished to see  her delight when she saw the bookshelves filled with books. Of course she plays, throws, rambled on the books but there’s no price in the  gleam in her eyes.
  • Be an Example. -There’s no better way to teach your child good habits than from the way you yourself show. Maybe you’re not a book lover, or you find books boring. But doing this with her won’t let you become a bad parent either. Based on my experience, Whatever works best for you, investing on reading is never wasted.

 

Hope you have wonderful time spent reading  with your kids. Looking forward to hear your own success stories!

Note to myself: I will do a follow-up post on this matter to share with you how is it with my daughter and her road to loving books? Will she love it? or will she hate it? So for those of you whose following my Blog, and the stories I am writing about “Raising Natalie”, stay tuned for the upcoming updates!

Thank you  all for reading!