That Agape Family

Live. Love. Learn.

Category: Beloved Books

Balanced and Barefoot

I started reading Balanced and Barefoot (affiliate link) by Angela J. Hanscom nearly a year ago, and I couldn’t put it down. It really spoke to my intuition that my children need to be outside. That the outdoors is an essential part of their development, and that I needed to be mindful of getting outside on a regular basis. And not only getting outside, but allowing them to explore with their whole body, mind, and soul.

I borrowed a copy from our local library, and devoured it quickly. In fact, Hanscom’s Timbernook forest play program was the inspiration behind a local forest free play group that I initiated after being a part of an established Forest school group, here in Toronto.  If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll have seen many  of our forest experiences that I’ve shared. I treasure our time in the Great Outdoors. It is calming, invigorating, energizing, balancing, and grounding.

Little Miss (4.5 years) and Sweet Pea (16 months)

The main focus of Hanscom’s book is that children NEED to be outdoors to develop appropriately, physically and psychologically. She noted that children today lack simple coordination skills because they aren’t given the opportunity to develop them. Simple things like walking on an uneven surface, rolling down a hill, and balancing on a log – things we enjoyed as children – are deemed “too risky” nowadays, depriving children of the opportunity to develop physiologically. The impact this has later on in life is remarkable. Did you know that children have started falling out of their chairs, while simply sitting in them, because they haven’t developed their core balance when they were younger? Children are more accident prone now than ever!

When children aren’t given the opportunity to “get messy and make mistakes” (thank you Miss Frizzle, of the Magic School Bus), they lack resilience later on. While we think we are protecting our children when they’re younger, we are actually putting up barriers for them later on in life.

The other component of Timbernook, and the reason I started a spin off group, was the idea of imaginative play. At Timbernook, the students are given the freedom to become pirates, astronauts, knights, and explorers. The only thing we bring to the forest is a bag of simple water toys. I have seen the children make a “hot tub”, bow and arrows, castles, etc.  When given time and freedom, children’s imaginations will blossom. and fun will ensue. We try to be as hands off as possible, allowing the children to understand their own limitations, and establish their own risk assessment. We also span a wide age range of 1 to 7 years.

I was truly inspired by Balanced and Barefoot. I highly recommend it to all parents and educators as an encouragement to make getting outside a priority. Our children will be better off for it.

Blessings,

Liz

How often do you get back to nature?

What a Load of… Oh?

When I was pregnant with Little Miss, 5 years ago, a friend of mine lent me a few books. This was one of them:

I remember, as she handed this book to me, she said “I barely had to change a poopy diaper after 6 months!” Well, the eager beaver that I was, I dove right in, with my little bundle of joy still growing inside.

I think I got to either chapter 3 or 4, and decided that it was “a load of hooey”. This might have been all well and good for a mama living in southern British Columbia, where they barely saw a snowflake, and the temperatures stayed well above 0 (celcius) the majority of the time, but for this Mama, that just wasn’t going to fly.

Well, fast forward to when Little Miss was just shy of 6 months, and I commented in my Crunch Mommy Group (it’s true, I joined it for the cloth diapering advice, and stayed for the overwhelming support and natural parenting techniques) that Little Miss tended to pee when I put her in the Bumbo Seat. I would regularly give her diaper free time, and found this to be the result. Someone commented that it was natural for them to pee like that, and that I should consider Elimination Communication (EC). Really? Well, sure. Why not? What did I have to lose?

Well, the next day, on the day she turned 6 months, we woke up, and I tried putting her on the potty (I sat down toward the back of the toilet, and put her between my legs), thinking that I looked ridiculous, and this whole concept is insane. Then, she peed. Seriously. 6 months. We gave it a go the next day and she pooped. I kid you not!

So, what was our technique? Well, I would give her a chance to go after each sleep (nap or night), as children naturally hold their pee when they sleep. Then, as she got older, I would pop her on whenever we changed her diaper. Gradually she started having more regular dry diapers, and by 2 years (minus 2 weeks), we went straight over to underwear, and had diapers for only night time (she’d been dry after naps for a while by this point). By this time, she was having a dry diaper at night a couple of times a week, too. A month after our switch, once she’d had a week or so of dry diapers, we got rid of our night time diapers, too. Interestingly, she would wake up to pee at night quite regularly, from at early at 12 months! I knew this because sometimes she would leak right out the side and all over me when I went in to put her back down. I tried putting her on the potty, but this groggy baby would have none of it, but I found the correlation quite interesting.

Did we eliminate poopy diapers for the majority of our diapering experience? Not quite, but she was regularly doing her business in the porcelain bowl by about a year. Did we train her? No. Really, it’s more so about training yourself, and recognizing your child’s cues. There is a lot more to this, but this is my Cole’s Notes version. Although I was a complete skeptic, I do recommend Diaper Free Baby. (affiliate link). Turns out, it’s not a bunch of hooey afterall! Please note that we were never forceful, nor did we ever shame or punish her if she didn’t go.

Was this a one time thing? Well, we’ve been doing EC with Sweet Pea since 3 month. Three Months?!? Yes. It all started one night when our typically easy going, amazing sleeper of a baby was having a particularly tough night. After nursing, and bicycle kicks, and anything else you would try at 3 in the morning to get a baby to settle, I thought “maybe she had to poop? Well, let’s see if this helps…” and I put her on the toilet. She didn’t poop, but she did pee, and thus began our EC journey. She’s now 13 months, and she regularly pees, and has gone #2 the last 2 days (although it’s not as often as I remember it being with LM). Hey, when it comes to cloth diapers and laundry, every little bit counts!

Here’s what I wrote back in 2014, as my Facebook status update: So, I started to read this when I was pregnant, because a friend loaned it to me with a bunch of other amazing baby books (thank you Carolina!) and I didn’t finish it because I thought I could never do it. But, after some encouragement from some other moms, girlie started using the potty at 6 months. Here’s the update: at 11 months, today she had 2 wet diapers, all other changes were dry, and she used the potty each time. I’m very excited over here, and wanted to let y’all know that this isn’t hippie craziness, but a very useful tool. We are still using (cloth) diapers, but I just get to wash less of them  — feeling wonderful.

So, you never know, unless you try.

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. What do you think? Crazy hippy, or something to this?

I Love Dirt! A New Year’s Resolution

Happy 2018 friends! I love New year’s. A time of review, and fresh beginnings. Up until just a few of years ago, we would celebrate with my grandparents, and my extended family, by having a family dinner on New Year’s day. I loved it – even the silly tinsel necklaces. My grandparents would go out dancing New Year’s Eve, with my Great Aunt (my Grandma’s sister) and her husband,  until 2 in the morning! I was always pleasantly surprised that they could out-party me. As with all good things, those too have come to an end, but I savour those memories.

With this time of reflection, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time outside. I like to think that we spend more time outside than the average family, but with a new baby in 2017, I have certainly come up with my fair share of excuses to dodge excursions, particularly in this frosty weather. This book, I Love Dirt (affiliate link) by Jennifer Ward, is a great quick read to get you in the mood to get outside.

i-love-dirt

With 52 simple suggestions for the varying seasons, this book inspires you to take your children outside, and connect with nature. I also really loved the science applications that are recommended to incorporate into your explorations.

What are your New Year resolutions?

Blessings,

Liz

Go Big or Go Gnome

Here’s a little secret you may not know about me: I Love Gnomes. I think they are cute, and fun, and all around fantastic! So, when we were at the library this week, and I happened upon this book (affiliate link), I had to pick it up:

9781250111272

It is a cute story about Al, the gnome who could not grow a beard, and how he was recognized for what he could do, instead of what he couldn’t.

The illustrations are fantastic, and we’ve read it every night since we picked it up – at her request, to boot! We highly recommend you check it out.

Blessings,

Liz

Lest We Forget

This evening, my daughters and I had the privilege of planting Canadian flags on the property of Sunnybrook Hospital here in Toronto.

Remembrance Day 2017

Raise a Flag at Sunnybrook Hospital

This is our third year participating in this project. The goal is to plant 30,000 flags across the grounds, so that on November 11th, Remembrance Day, the veterans at the hospital will wake up to fields of Canadian flags and know that we will remember.

Although we’ve been doing this for a few years, this is the first year that Little Miss has had so many questions about war. Why do we have an army? Why do people fight? Why? Questions that really make you pause, and think.

I happened to have purchased A Poppy is to Remember (affiliate link)by Heather Patterson, way back in my teaching days, so we brought it out this evening to help explain.

poppyposter

Given that Little Miss will soon be turning 4, this was right on her level, and she wanted to read it twice! Although the topic of war is tough, I think it’s important, and possible, to address it on an age appropriate level. Do you have any other suggestions for books about, or related to, Remembrance Day?

Blessings,

Liz

Happy Dutch Kids

My mom is Dutch, so when The Happiest Kids in the World: Bringing up children the Dutch way (affiliate link) was recommended on a Scary Mommy blog about raising a “wild child”, I chose to reserve myself a copy, along with all the others on the list.

Happy Dutch Kids

The premise behind the book is that Dutch children continuously rate themselves to be the happiest children in the world. This book delves into the whys and hows these children have found contentment.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is written by two ex-pat moms who married Dutch men. Seeing as my mom is Dutch, I really enjoyed some of the stories, and felt almost at home reading about Holland in this light. In particular, I appreciated the reassuring comments about being comfortable with being normal (not striving to always be the best at everything). Even my oldest daughter’s beautifully simple birthday party has been inspired by this book (well, it will be when it happens in a couple of weeks).

The authors comment on the need for children to develop independence, and be given the opportunity to do so. Also, not constantly forcing your child ahead of their peers, instead allowing them to grow at their own pace. Remember: you can’t force a flower to open, it will bloom in its own time.

That being said (written?), I didn’t like the portion discussing controlled crying, simply because I don’t agree with it. I’m in no way an advocate of the Cry It Out method, and I am the first to encourage more gentle methods. One of the authors mentions that her sister-in-law (I believe) had her child sleeping through the night by 3 months by allowing him to Cry It Out (CIO). At the very least, children at this age still need nourishment throughout the night, and even proponents of the CIO method  say that it should not be used before 6 months. A new parent could believe that sleeping through the night should be the norm, when it is not, and may become frustrated, along with their child, when they simply aren’t biologically ready to do so.

Lastly, I wasn’t comfortable with the incredibly liberal take on sex (at a Children’s museum in Holland, they have a mock “adult store” section, will a full “display” for older children to peruse), but I know that the Dutch are incredibly liberal, so this didn’t shock me.

So, if you’re looking for a refreshing read on how the Dutch have raised “the happiest children in the world”, and you’re willing to take a step back from the rush of our North American society and critically assess how we might actually do things counter culturally to the benefit of our children, then I think you’d really enjoy this book.

Blessings,

Liz

Jillian Jiggs

“Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs! It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!”

“Later, I promise. As soon as I’m through,  I’ll clean up my room. I promise I do.”

For my 5th birthday, my parent’s coworkers bought me this book:

Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman

They all signed the inside cover, and I now read that book with my daughters, nearly 30 years later.

I have always enjoyed Jillian Jiggs (affiliate link). Her imagination runs wild, as her make believe play continuously evolves into something fresh and exciting. There are 5 Jillian Jiggs stories, and they are all fabulously written, and illustrated with remarkable detail and creativity. I highly recommend them.

Blessings!

Elephant & Piggie

I promised in my last post that I would come back to our beloved Mo Willems.  Former writer and animator for Sesame Street, Willems has gone on to write and illustrate the AMAZING Elephant & Piggie series, as well as the Knuffle Bunny series, to name a few.

Little Miss (3.5) has loved these books so much, for about the last year (since 2.5). The books are simply, funny, and engaging. In fact, the above pictured book, Can I Play Too? (affiliate link) has left me laughing out loud. Whenever someone asks for a book recommendation for a preschooler, Willems’ stories are my first recommendation.

We also all got attached to Trixie and her Knuffle Bunny (affiliate link) (Kuh-Nuffle). So much so that I can rarely read Knuffle Bunny Free without tearing up. (To be fair, my first time reading it, I was pregnant, so I will happily blame pregnancy hormones on my teary eyes, which were so bad that my husband still teases me about it).

I cannot more highly recommend these books for preschoolers and early readers. Elephant & Piggie are perfect for those who are just learning to read, and you as a parent won’t mind reading through them again and again.

Which is your favourite Elephant & Piggie book?

Mr. Postmouse

We love reading in our household, so I thought it would be fun to share some of our favourites as we go along. We utilize our local public library, and refresh our borrowed collection every 3 weeks. I feel as though I’m betraying our current favourite author by not mentioning him in our debut book post. You’ll get the next one, Mo! Promise!

This last trip we picked up 3 books by author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc (affiliate link). Her stories are absolutely delightful, and her illustrations are fun and detailed. I can guarantee you, you’ll find new subtle details every time you read them.

Miss C (3.5 years old) enjoyed The Bus Ride so much that we read it 3 times in a row! It was a hit! Who are some of your favourite children’s authors?

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