Health Challenge

Fruit Platter

Last weekend I once again had my life challenged and need to once again readjust mindsets and expectations. Suppose that is what makes life so exciting – it’s a journey that just keeps us growing and learning more and more.

Last year was a wreck of a year for us – owing to many hard circumstances we found ourselves trapped in a survival mode. Whereas before I had spent much time ensuring our family ate well and had healthy meals I had lapsed into buying cheap, unhealthy shop bread, smothered with whatever spread we could find. We had always made our own juice but now my children were drinking thick, sticky jungle juice that smelt of chemicals. Deep in my mind I knew we’d need to address this but I was just not in the place to do so.

Over the past few months we have again ensured that the kitchen is filled with fruit and vegetables so that the children can fill up on bananas, apples and carrots. I have however been acutely aware that our protein intake has been lacking and that we have been eating far too much bread and processed foods.

When I heard about a health day being run at the Oikos Farm and knew that the time was right. This was such an encouraging day and I came home feeling inspired and encouraged to make the changes necessarily. What I found most encouraging was that unlike many health talks they did not insist on us going completely raw or absolutely no sugar or cakes or only organic. It was clear that these are fundamental but just as important we need to consider we are sourcing our products from.

For example bread and flour – in moderation – are not bad. However the flour we are using has been processed in such a way that it can cause great harm to our bodies. Sugar in moderation is fine too – if it is brown sugar bought directly from the mill before it has been processed and bleached. Yogurt is also fantastic – but make your own.

This does sound like a great deal of work and effort but when one considers the hardships that cancer and illness brings it
inspires one to go the extra mile.

We have spent this week looking at what we are using and are slowly weeding out the bad and replacing it with the good. So many adjustments have been smooth and easy whilst others will be more challenging. It is my heart to share this journey – the ups and the downs – with you with the hope that you will be inspired and motivated to look at your family and see how you too can benefit from these changes in your lifestyle.

As I said life is a journey, one that we never quite get perfect or reach a final destination, instead we just keep learning and growing. So please drop in again soon and join the ride.

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To Chore or Not to Chore

In our home we choose to chore 🙂

From the day a child can walk – without falling over – they start to help pick things up, put away dishes and do anything a little person is able to do. From about aged 2 or 3 (depending on the child) they are given specific “responsibilities.”

Changing the term form “Chores” to “Responsibilities” changed the whole attitude and feel in our home. The little ones may need to feed an animal whilst the older ones have either more responsiblities or more demanding ones. The children love having responsibilities and will become quite upset if someone does one of theirs. It makes them feel needed, rooted and that they have a place within the home.

When our children turn 13 we have a evening to celebrate their “pre-adulthood” and with this comes greater responsibility. So at present our 14 year old is responsible for the washing. Well, I ensure it is washed and hung up and then it’s up to her. She need to bring it in, fold it and put it away. I love how she’s begun putting on CDs so the little ones all want to listen and then she gets them to all fold the washing with her. This is great as it teaches her to not let the washing (or anything in life for that matter) pile up and how much hard work it takes to truly be responsible for something as well as many other life lessons. She also has a number of other responsibilities such as washing the breakfast dishes and clearing the kitchen after supper.

The other children have responsibilities such feeding animals, making beds, putting clothes away, putting dishes away. Sometimes children require some direction and help such as I may need to place their duvet at the bottom of their bed neatly so they can pull it up to make their bed. Other times they may need to be given a more specific task such as – pick up all the red blocks. Often children become overwhelmed when given a task too big and therefore their reluctance to help is actually that they don’t really know where to start.

For these responsibilities our children are not remunerated. We all have a part to play and a role to fill to be apart of the family. This is also a chance to train them in loving others. If someone is sick or away we step in and help each other out. If however they are asked to do something that I would usually employ someone else to do such as mow the lawn we will show our appreciation by giving them some money towards something they are saving up for.

We do also try to make it fun. So we’ll often play Amazing Race where I give them tasks to complete in a set time (these can range from washing dishes, to scrubbing a wall, to peeling and freezing bananas.) If the task is completed they get a small prize – raisins, a snack, or such and the next clue. If it isn’t completed in time once it is completed they need to run around the house, miss the treat and then get the next clue. I find they don’t cope with more than 5 activities in a game so after the 4th or 5th task they get a grand prize – an ice-cream (or my favourite: to watch a DVD – in the middle of the day – and I get to have a quiet cup of coffee:)

Another game we play is the “Post Box Game.” I put some tasks into a box. The children then need to sneak up and get a clue and do the task without me seeing them. I obviously know where they are but pretend to not hear them and then I suddenly turn around or jump out at them. We all have great fun with this and yes the chores get done too. Otherwise music is good on a whole. Listening to worship songs or stories helps them to not dwell on the fact that they are doing chores. Oh yes and we also sometimes have everyone folding washing while I read to them.

This may not work for every family but for us it’s been a great balance and an opportunity to teach our children about responsibility, love, running a home and what being a family is all about.

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Raw Banana Ice-Cream

Once we found out that our one son was allergic to milk ice-cream had to go 🙁 At first this was very hard – especially on special occasions! One day a friend introduced us to banana ice-cream. This simply involves freezing ripe – but not over ripe bananas. You peel them, swish them in lemon juice and freeze them. This is a job the kids love to do. Besides being fun it helps develop their preschool hand-eye coordination, sorting and sequencing skills. Then when you want ice cream simply place the frozen bananas in a blender – we find our handheld Braun mixer works the best. You just need to eat it quickly as it tends to melt.

The kids love it and we’ve even used it in cones! Then again if you don’t feel like blending the bananas the kids also really enjoy munching on a frozen banana on a hot day! (For a treat you can dip the ends in melted cooking chocolate and refreeze) Yum, yum!

For those trying to go even healthier you can make your own coconut oil chocolate then it’s truly healthy and you can just keep eating!

In : Treats

Unexpected Christmas Eve Magic

After a full month of Christmas preparations it was finally time to sit down and begin our annual Christmas Eve traditions. As we had indulged in a huge braai over lunch time we had decided to forfeit out traditional Christmas dinner for snacks instead. The evening was to run that we’d begin by lighting our Hanukkah candles and reciting the blessings; this would be followed by acting out the Christmas story. We would then have our snacks before having a time of Christmas carols. Knight#1 had spent the past 3 weeks typing out carols to make us each a carol book and he’d spent every spare minute practicing them on his violin so we were all looking forward to this part of the evening. We were then to have pudding before trying to herd 5 very excited little people into bed.

Well that was the plan….

Just as we lit our first candle and begun reciting the first blessing the house was filled with the most awful, painful cry. On jumping up Lord Dad and Grandpa discovered our Labrador puppy had fallen into a full convulsion. As they tried to help it onto a softer surface it began foaming at the mouth and then turned on them. At that moment Lady Mom arrived to witness our adorable pup turn into a ferocious animal that wanted to only attack. The puppy then took off running around the garden barking hysterically.

Having worked in a rabies laboratory Lord Dad had seen movies of rabid animals and Christmas Eve or not he’d take no chances. As we had all played with and been nipped and scratched by Molly in the past week he insisted we were all to be inoculated against rabies. Knowing all the vets were closed we managed to coax the puppy into an outside room. We then quickly made brown bread and peanut butter sandwiches and herded the entire family into the car to try find some rabies inoculations for the family.

Prior to leaving we’d called various hospitals to only discover each private hospital only kept one or two vaccines and we’d need to pay at least R800 per person to walk into the emergency room and then R500 per injection. The rabies course also runs over 4 injections so we were looking at about R2800 per person! With this all in mind we headed off to our local government hospital.

What a joke.

Our adventure began with a clerk who could not spell and kept mixing our names up. I offered to help fill in the basic details but he said he had to fill it all in. An hour later we had our files and now had to speak to a nurse – before we saw a doctor who would do the injections – she was not amused with the situation and simply told us, “Do you realise how busy I am and how many forms I’m going to have to fill in?” She then disappeared and arrived 15 minutes later with another sister. She explained to us that as it was Christmas Eve and they would deal with the stabbed, wounded, accident cases and dying first we would not be seen to for at least another 6 hours or so! Having already been there for 3 hours we sat in the car park in desperation and phoned anyone and everyone we thought could help. We eventually discovered another small government clinic open 24/7, which were referring all their patients to the hospital and were therefore pretty much empty. We quickly rushed across to them. An hour later we had all had our injections and were heading home.

During all this time the children had dozed in and out of sleep. As we headed home now the clock struck midnight and it was officially Christmas morning. Amazingly enough no one was upset or moaning instead as the clock struck the older children burst into song – rocking the neighbourhood with Joy to the World. As we negotiated the thickest mist I’ve ever driven in we crept home to our Christmas Eve – now forever changed.

Not sure whether we should have more peanut butter sarmies or tuck kids straight into bed we gingerly opened the door and put on the kettle. Then the most amazing evening began to take place. The children headed to the supper table and began eating the Christmas treats, another began to play the piano and while others collapsed on the couch and began to nibble on some chips. The next hour was spent in a surreal dream of laughter, song, jokes and ice-cream. The children then drifted off to bed whilst we finished wrapping gifts and ensuring everything was ready for when they woke.

Yes, Christmas day was quite a blur but no one fought or moaned. Something special and magical had happened the night before and in the words of Knight#1, “Our adventure last night made this my best Christmas ever.” Well let me add, “It was my best too, my boy, mine too!”


Postscript – Looks like the puppy may have simply had a convulsion and is still in isolation and under observation to determine if it is rabies though it is looking more like it was fit.

Household Helpers

Ever wonder what the easiest way to stimulate a little ones hand-eye coordination as well as their attention span? Well one of the best tricks is to get your child to do whatever you are busy doing! Try include them in your everyday chores as well as other household activities that they will enjoy. Recently our 4 and 2 yr olds helped squeeze a bucket of grapefruit and then we spent a whole morning freezing bananas to make banana ice-cream!

The activity involved them peeling the banana, throwing the skin in the rubbish bucket, dipping the banana in lemon juice and then placing it in the freezing tray. This required them to recall a method and a procedure, they had to focus for a length of time on one specific task and constantly use their hand-eye coordination. This was obviously developing their fine motor skills too. There was no pressure to join in or stay with the activity but they all enjoyed it so much. Some came and went while another say for about 45 minutes working in the task. It was a most enjoyable time for us all – and we now have banana ice-cream to look forward too!

You may not have stacks of bananas to peel and freeze but look at your day and see what routine tasks you perform and where your child could either help you or even do them for you. They love working alongside Mom and being of use. They also really enjoy doing “big people’s” activities rather than playing with plastic pretend toys in another room when they could be involved in the real deal. Let them wash dishes, just take out the knives and glassware, show them how to use a cloth properly and you’ll be amazed at their capability. Let them help you hang up washing on a smaller line or a clothes horse. They can help wipe tables, put dishes away and tidy cupboards. Even a 2 year old can carry their own clothes to their cupboard and learn to put them away.

All these activities are so vital to their fundamental development and coordination skills and yet so often we over look them. Before long they will be busy with school work and friends treasure these special times with your little helpers.

Cold Cure

Our 4yr old has moaned of a sore throat over the last few days and as we really busy at the moment and going to a doctor isn’t even an option. So we pulled out the old faithfuls and today his back to his busy self!

Here’s the trick – and it hardly costs anything!
Mix: 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda in a mug.
Add a little boiling water so it fizzes, fill mug with cool water.
Every time you pass the bathroom (day and night) gargle with the mix AND here’s the crunch use a syringe to squirt a few drops up the sick ones nose 3 times a day! Within a day you should be feeling better.


Secondly add a big spoon of honey to some lemon juice and add to some boiling water (the stronger and hotter the better) for small children it’ll have to be cool but try keep it strong if possible. This helps the kill bugs.

Please note that if sickness persisits you do need to contact your doctor.



You Are What You Eat

When our first son was born and was given normal squeeze juice at about the age of 2years his eyes dilated, he looked straight through me and literally began jumping off the furniture.

I’ve always enjoyed a good meal and shrugged off health fanatics. “Life’s short, enjoy what you can.” I simply thought that as I don’t smoke and drink and I do some exercise – sometimes –  there was seriously not need to worry. Yet seeing this behaviour made me begin to think….
This set us on an amazing journey of discovery. Discovery about food, preservatives, what we eat, how we prepare it and how this all influences who we are and how we behave. Healthy Habits is aimed at sharing some of this journey with you.

Dairy Alert

I’ve always thought of moms with allergy children as just being hyper and over protective. As I had never experienced allergy reactions myself I agreed that certain products reacted to certain people but this wheat, dairy allergy talk was just too much for me to accept. I mean we have all lived on milk and bread for centuries so why now would it cause so many problems?

That was all before our second son was born. When he arrived we were suddenly thrust into months of crying and crying, rashes, speech problems and a very irritable little boy. When I noticed at 3 months that he was developing eczema I decided that I would just try put him on a dairy free milk powder. What do you know within 24 hours he had stopped crying and all his milestones were suddenly on par – he wasn’t yet smiling, lifting his head properly etc…. and suddenly he was a different child.

For 18 months we kept him off milk then I just let it slip
back into his diet. Hmmm a runny tummy, moods, crying and by 3yrs still hardly any speech? Rice milk was suggested and once the family tasted this they all wanted it so we were suddenly dairy free. Within no time he was such a happy boy, his tummy was working well and his speech development soared! So needless to say we’ve stayed dairy free.

We eat fish and raw veggies to replace the nutrients we loose from the lack of dairy. Although no one else has an allergy they all so enjoy the rice milk and by only adding 2 teaspoons to a cup of tea instead of their recommended amount a 1kg packet lasts our family of 7 a week and a half so we have saved on the cost as well and haven’t looked back! Just makes you wonder though how much we really reacting to different foods butr we just used to it so we don’t notice!

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