Teaching children to love nature

Because I am a nature lover, I assume that my grandchildren will automatically be nature lovers too. What I have come to realize is that teaching children to love nature is all about immersing them in it. This practice does not have to be an expensive endeavour, more of a shared life style, that can and should begin very early in life. One of my fondest memories of both of my grandmothers is their love of gardening.

I love all things garden related, so I make sure my grandchildren tour my gardens, patio and veranda plantings when they visit. I have added a few whimsical features throughout my yard to pique their interest, my way of teaching children. I love their sweet reactions!

I also have a few nature inspired features in my home décor that the kids love…

Teaching children has to be age appropriate or your students quickly lose interest. As my grand kids get older, the teaching or mentoring gets easier. In the spring they help me plant some decorations on my back deck. Then they water them throughout the summer to keep them thriving. I haven’t met a child yet that does not like to water flowers! Morning glories and sunflowers are easy to plant and grow quickly…

A word of caution when teaching children though, make sure you don’t care if they break your touches of nature. For example, the resin bunny has a broken tail and foot from two separate, accidental drops. And, one of my birdies cracked after my grandson threw it on a hard floor attempting to make it fly. I have to keep a close eye on the elephant as it is a sentimental (and very old) souvenir their great-grandpa brought their grandfather back from a trip to Africa.

Advertisements

New Insights into Mental Health

If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety disorders, PTSD or Autism Spectrum Disorder, mark your calendars for this mental health conference. Join Dr Douglas Turkington and Helen Spencer, both world-renowned experts from the UK, this coming (2019) October, here in Ottawa. They promise to share new insights into these increasingly common mental health issues.

It has taken years, but people are finally realizing that mental health is just as important as physical health. The stigma associated with mental health issues is subsiding and those affected are seeking the help they deserve. Research and information on the subject is changing constantly, but sometimes the medical jargon is hard to decipher. A conference like this, featuring respected experts, helps to demystify the information, sorting the facts from fiction.

TIPES (Teaching in Pictures Education System) is proud to support this “New Insights into Mental Health” conference; I in turn am proud to support TIPES and their incredible, devoted staff.

new insights into mental health

If attending this conference does not appeal to you, TIPES is also involved in another fundraiser in support of Ottawa’s autism community. Geared for family fun, this one collaborates with the Ottawa Redblacks football team…

If you were already thinking of attending the game or are looking for something fun to do Saturday, September 7, please order your Redblacks tickets through this link to support Ottawa’s autism community. Be sure to choose TIPES as the autism charity you wish to support.

Losing your mother changes your life

Losing your mother changes your life in many ways. I lost my own mother twenty-five years ago today, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, wishing she was still here. She barely got to know two of my sons and never did meet the third. With my sons all grown up and four sweet grandchildren of my own now I wish she could share the joy they all bring to our lives.

My mom died just after reaching her 65th birthday; I was 34. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and dead within 3 months, so we had very little time to get used to the idea of life without her before she was gone. She didn’t even have enough time to rally from the shock of the diagnosis to begin to fight for her life. Losing your mother leaves you shell shocked for a long time afterward.

My father had just retired and she planned to do the same. It would have been well deserved after working from the tender age of fourteen with only a brief hiatus to bear six children in eight years. Years of work and raising children were finally in the rear view mirror as she looked forward to a more carefree life.

With six children and 13 grandchildren (at the time) spread out over Canada and USA, my mother looked forward to visiting with them all often. She was the travel planner and organizer, my dad was more of the stay at home type. In fact, after her death my father rarely travelled more than a few kilometers from his home. He was heartbroken, literally.

My mother’s untimely death changed my life in many ways. Concerned that my own life expectancy may only be 65, I reduced my work hours and the accompanying stress level by changing departments. The goal was to concentrate on the important things like spending more quality time with my three young sons (I had a third not long after she died) and my husband. Volunteering at the boys’ schools, on field trips and for their sports teams became my focus. I do not want to feel that I should have spent more time with them when I am older.

When my boys were grown up and independent twelve years later, I once again began searching for more out of life. I made another drastic change and retired (very early) completely from hospital work to start my own gardening business.

Losing your mother makes you introspective, comparing your mothering style to hers. Not just your mothering style really, but all your mistakes and regrets, as well as the hopes, dreams and triumphs too. It’s like a wake up call to improve the quality of your own life. During her last three months, my mother and I spent many hours discussing such things.

As my grandchildren grow up, I try to spend as much time with them as I can as well. I hope to be around to witness their milestones, something my mom missed out on.

losing your mother
my favourite picture of my mom

Patience and Cheerios

I have to admit patience is a virtue I do not possess, but I’m working on it. That’s because I’m learning that grandchildren are great teachers, but require unlimited patience.

This morning was another lesson learned in the patience department. My two year old grandson and five year old granddaughter slept over last night and although she slept well, he did not. He was up several times during the night and then up for good, bouncing around with a seemingly endless supply of energy at 6am.

“Grumble, grumble, ok Grandma is up, but I won’t be dancing with Elmo or to Baby Shark within the next few hours, at least until I have a cup of coffee.”

Checking out his choices for breakfast, this (always adorable) grandson grabbed a box of Cheerios and promptly dumped (most of) its contents onto the kitchen floor. Luckily the box was not full. After I grabbed the broom and swept up the mess (with him helping of course) he repeated the process. Dump, scatter, sweep….at least five more times. After the second sequence, I realized he was having fun. No real harm done, and other than relocating breakable objects within the swinging radius of the broom handle as he “tidied up,” it was fun to watch his concentration. The cheerios were going in the garbage anyway; each time I threw some out (without him noticing of course) so there were fewer to clean up each time.

Money doesn’t grow on trees

How many of you heard your parents say “Money doesn’t grow on trees” when you were a kid? Well, my grandkids know, as apparently does Fisher Price, that money comes from a bank.

money in the bank
ATM front

This particular banking machine is a toy made by Fisher Price that we received over 25 years ago, when our eldest son was a toddler. It looks like a two sided ATM, with plastic coins and “dollar” bills.

money bank
coins and bills

The coins go in a slot on the top left corner, something our two year old grandson loves to do, over and over. As he no longer puts everything in his mouth, when he is here he fishes the coins out of the “off limits for his one year old cousin” bag they are stored in.

money machine
coin slot

One side of the machine also has a slot to stick the five green dollar bills in. Once the coins and dollar bills are inside the machine, there are separate (one red and one blue, see top picture) buttons to push to eject them.

money bank
Back of ATM with keypad and dollar slot

The ATM also comes with two realistic looking plastic credit cards, although the orange one was missing when I searched for it to take a picture. Maybe I better report that to the bank, LOL.

money machine
credit card

Deja vu of stolen bathroom breaks and more

Recently we had the privilege and joy of having our youngest granddaughter stay at our home while her parents were away for a few days. Talk about deja vu! I had forgotten just how busy a (soon to be) one year old can be.

And how busy their caregivers are! Her grandfather and uncle were in and out of the house at work and university respectively, so I was the primary responsible adult in charge of most of the feeding, playing, singing, cuddling and generally watching like a hawk.

The two men were delegated to cleaning up the messes in her adventures around our house. She was like a little tornado, leaving a path of destruction behind her as she travelled from room to room.

As much as I enjoyed the deja vu experience, I was reminded just how far from my 30’s I am. And how difficult it is to sneak in bathroom breaks and a shower when a one year old is following your every move.

Hats off to all you young parents out there. And a word of encouragement: They will grow up, sooner than you think, and then you will be the one cherishing the deja vu.

Carrots, Eggs or Coffee: Which are You?

Carrots, eggs or coffee, which are you? I love this analogy of personal strength and adversary by an unknown author:

carrots, eggs or coffee, which are you?
carrots, eggs or coffee, which are you?

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the granddaughter replied.

The grandmother brought the girl closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. The grandmother then asked her granddaughter to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the grandmother asked her granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. She then asked. “What’s the point, Grandmother?”

The grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they changed the water.

“Which are you?” grandmother asked granddaughter, “carrots, eggs or coffee? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”

Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?

Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did you have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, you become hardened and stiff?

Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

author unknown

The moral of this story? When life gets you down, elevate yourself to the next level.

Sleep Deprivation Consequences and Cures

If you google just about any health ailment or nagging symptom, sleep deprivation will be on the list of possible causes. Why is that?  Because people are just too (potentially dangerously so) busy and plugged in to sleep these days. When we do sleep, we don’t sleep well.

From small children to retirement age, our lives are jam packed with structure and technology, leaving no (or very little) down time.  If you ask a retiree, they will most likely tell you one of the most enjoyable things about retiring is the ability to nap when you want.

What can you do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep to ward off sleep deprivation? Start by unplugging yourself, literally and figuratively, at least four hours before your bedtime. Instead of focusing on the screens of a television, game console, computer or cell phone, shut them down. Read a book, cook and savour a nice meal, or go out for a drink or meal with a friend or loved one. Sans the phone.

This applies to your children too. Remember, you are their most influential teacher. They will pick up your unhealthy habits just as easily as your good ones. They do need routine in their lives, but organized structure not so much. Kids also need down time instead of being shuttled from event to event.

Sleep deprivation shows up in their behaviour and their health.  Research has shown that overly active (organized) kids tend to suffer from anxiety, which in turn leads to poor quality of sleep.  It is very easy to cut back on their organized activities.  Let them play at home with their siblings and parents. Bring back the board games of our youth. Encourage older kids to read books or experiment in the kitchen.  Simply slow down their lives, especially before bed time.

Think of your brain as a computer that controls your body. Even the best computers need to reboot or update regularly to stay efficient and healthy. Similarly, every cell in your body, especially those in your brain, needs down time to repair and recuperate from everything we throw at them. They can only do that when we sleep. When we don’t provide these cells with quality sleep to perform this maintenance on a regular basis, sleep deprivation sets in and cells start to break down, causing all those symptoms you are googling about.

Planting Seeds Encourages Kids’ Green Thumbs

Encouraging kids to develop green thumbs is a great outdoor activity, especially for this garden loving Grandma.  Recently I taught my two oldest grandchildren (1.5 and 4.8 yrs old) the fine (very simple) art of planting seeds.  I filled some large pots with soil and added bamboo trellises shaped like teepees for the plantings to climb on.   I chose pole beans and morning glories to plant as they are both fast growing seeds, perfect for impatient children.  In fact, our seeds sprouted within a few days and in less than three weeks their tendrils had started to climb the teepees…

 

 

A few weeks after that and the beans have climbed up, around and through the teepee shaped trellis, producing purple pole beans.  No sign of the morning glories yet…

 

 

Now, if I could only get the kids to eat the pole beans.  Grandma certainly will…

planting seeds
I must admit that I have never planted purple pole beans before and did not realize they turn green when they are cooked….

You can entice children to enjoy gardening by getting them their own gloves, tools and watering can. My grandson loves the little “critters” I have on my back deck too…

planting seeds

 

 

 

Baby Gaga Update

As mentioned in a previous post I have been writing articles for a site called Baby Gaga.  Unfortunately, that means all my time allotted for writing has been swallowed up by this new adventure so my posts on this blog have been limited.

Here are my first four articles, let me know what you think, the comment button is on the left, at the bottom of the list of social media icons (the one that looks like a comic book conversation bubble)  As my articles get approved, I will add their links, so please check back often!

Weird and Unique Celebrity Baby Names

Baby Tips Leading Moms Astray

Clever and Adorable Pairs of Names for Twin Girls

Things Pregnant Women get to Stop Worrying About

Things Moms Won’t Be Doing After Baby is Born

Celebrity Trends

Grandparents Spoiling the Kids

Celebrity Dads

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:
Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at Your Daily Chuckle
and
Be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW
My gardening website can be viewed at gardens4u.ca