Posted in For Family

How to Plan the Best Christmas Ever

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I. Love. Christmas.

Family, good food, vacation time, Christmas traditions, good food, Christmas music, good food – it’s the makings of the most wonderful time of year!

Although sometimes it feels like Christmas is a blur, probably because I don’t plan out Christmas as well as I should. There’s always that activity or service idea that I say I want to do, but they actually don’t always happen. Christmas in the past has been stressful and even unpleasant with all the busy-ness at times.

Nevertheless, I am super excited for Christmas this year! Our family has grown and we have all come to really appreciate Christmas more. It’s also the one time of year our family is all together. I am absolutely determined to improve upon my planning skills and make this Christmas the best one yet!

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Christmas should be focused on our families and the One whose birth we celebrate. This should include spending quality time with family, serving others and making it magical for our children with special traditions. We also look back at the year and determine how we can better ourselves for next year and follow the perfect example of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Here are some things you (and I) should do to make it the most stress-free, meaningful and wonderful Christmas yet!

Plan Ahead

Why plan for Christmas? Well, if you plan your gifts, parties, functions and activities better, you save time and money. Yes, it’s much better buying gifts on sale than paying full price. Or grabbing a last-minute gift that isn’t really useful or thoughtful. Sure, things don’t always go according to plans, but at the end of the day, things will have turned out better than with no plan at all.

The things that need to be planned are:

  1. Your Christmas Budget (if you have hardly any budget, that budget can stretch too, if you plan well)
  2. Gifts (for your kids, extended family, neighbors and teachers)
  3. Service Projects (these can be simple, small acts of kindness or bigger undertakings)
  4. Family Activities and Traditions
  5. Christmas Dinner
  6. Your December calendar

Now, please do not feel overwhelmed. A fantastic Christmas does not mean going huge and expensive and stressful. Planning a fantastic Christmas should include a good balance of the things that you and your family would enjoy. Don’t cram a hundred different things into your Christmas season that it actually becomes frantic, unpleasant and expensive. Also, remember to be flexible with your plans and not to become a pedantic Christmas elf.

To make things even easier, I have an absolutely free 2017 Christmas 2017 Planner printable. This is something that can help absolutely everyone to have the best Christmas ever. It includes a gift planning template, a service project planning template, a Christmas dinner meal planner, a shopping list, a December 2017 calendar and Christmas party planning template. You will need this – I know I will!

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Christmas Starts in Your Home

Make a wonderful Christmas atmosphere by doing any of the following:

  • Decorating inside and outside your home on the 1st of December (or whenever suits you)
  • Playing Christmas music in the background while you work around your home
  • Singing carols and playing Christmas songs on instruments as a family
  • Doing Christmas crafts with your children or grandchildren (we love making our own Christmas crackers)
  • Baking Christmas treats for all to enjoy or as a service activity to take to your neighbours or someone lonely
  • Go see the Christmas lights up in your city
  • Sending Christmas cards (via email or mail) to relatives and friends
  • Having a Family Christmas photo-shoot
  • Reading the Christmas story – you can read the Kings James version King James version here while acting out the nativity using basic props or puppets
  • Changing your phone and tablet background to a Christmas theme (you can download a couple off the internet for free)

With regards to decorating: Make sure that you only decorate as much as is enjoyable – you don’t want to dread having to put up and then take down everything and it becomes a horrible job in the end. What’s the use of that? I think the key to making the decorating process enjoyable is to involve everyone in the family, play Christmas music in the background and to have Christmas treats to enjoy. All of Christmas-ness will permeate the walls of your home and the hearts of your family members!

Also, use the free Christmas 2017 Planner activity planning sheet to make a list of a few Christmas activities you want to do and plan when and how you will do it. Don’t be overly ambitious and have a hundred things on your list, because life happens.

Pinterest your Christmas!

There are so many fun Christmas ideas on Pinterest like cute crafts, delicious recipes and effective and inexpensive DIY decorations. So many ideas yet so little time. Go onto Pinterest for a few of minutes to help you find a couple of ideas that will help you make Christmas easier and better. Below are just a few I like!

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Carry Christmas in Your Heart

There’s a lovely Christmas advent calendar called Light the World that you can download for free. How you use it is by taking the short scripture phrase allocated for each day in December and deciding what you will do to help you bring the spirit of Christmas into your life and those around you. What you decide to do could include your family, friends, neighbours, strangers or just yourself. I love it because it is so simple and you can choose what you are able to do, making it a personal and tailor-made Christmas advent calendar. If you are a busy person, just small activities will work for you. If you have a little more time on your hands you can do a full-scale service project. It’s really up to you. Use the service planning sheet in the Christmas 2017 Planner to plan your big or small service project for this Christmas.

May you and your family be blessed with the most happy and memorable Christmas ever! I hope we will focus on what matters: our family and the One whose birth we celebrate. May we also look back at this year and determine how we can better ourselves for next year as we follow the perfect example of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Feel free to subscribe to my blog and comment below with your cool ideas that has helped you to enjoy the Christmas season even more! 

Posted in For Family, For You

Using Hydrogen Peroxide in your Ears : Good or Bad Idea?

To all you Pinterest life-hackers out there, I am sure you have come across this hack for beating colds and ear infections: administering a few drops of a 3% solution of Hydrogen Peroxide in your ears. The result is most satisfying and dramatic – a bubbling chemical reaction that creates a froth in your ear as a result of the bacteria actually being killed by this powerful solution.

It’s fantastic actually, and it can help stop a cold in its tracks when you try it. You feel so much better afterwards and it has also helped our kids when their ears have bothered them too.

However, it does not cure middle ear infections, obviously, because it cannot get into the middle ear. But it certainly helps to relieve the infection. This handy solution has been our favorite go-to medication and I swear by it, as well as many others on Pinterest.

Like I mentioned, using hydrogen peroxide in the ear canal will not cure a middle ear infection. Which was why I eventually did take my toddler to the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. I decided to cautiously ask the ENT about using hydrogen peroxide in ears for ear infections and colds.

With a lot of adamance, he replied, “Never again!”.

Oops! I thought, thinking back on all those times I so casually used the stuff. So I asked, “Why not?”

He explained that we do not know at all if there is a perforation or a hole leading into the middle ear that would allow fluids to enter the middle ear. Sometimes a person may be completely oblivious to the fact. Because hydrogen peroxide is corrosive, it could potentially destroy the nerve-endings present in the middle ear and lead to some degree of deafness. He concluded that hydrogen peroxide should pretty much be left to sterilizing wounds.

Okay, you gotta listen to the doc, don’t you?

I had previously thought I would be cured of colds for the rest of my life, using this awesome hydrogen peroxide hack. Although, I do value my hearing too much to risk it all for a little cold-cure, but I still feel disappointed that I have not cracked the code of curing colds!

If Not Hydrogen Peroxide, What Else?

If not hydrogen peroxide, what else helps to fight infection happening in our sinuses and ears? Here’s a list of what you can do to relieve the aches and pains:

*Disclaimer: The following ideas are only motherly advice – I am not a doctor!*

  1. Try making and using a Magic Salt Sock – this is something invented by a chiropractor and somehow it works. She also suggests making an appointment with a chiropractor in order to help re-align the upper neck bones. Misalignments in the upper neck area have been related to ear infections in children.
  2. I found a pretty cool hands-on technique that The Motivational Doc shows in a video that you can do to help drain your Eustachian tube, thus helping to relieve the middle-ear a little. The Eustachian tube is pretty much responsible for draining all the gunk from our ears into the nasopharynx (where we can swallow it, great!). The technique looks pretty ridiculous and I was laughing while I tried it, but it helped me to clear the gunk when I tried it! Have a look at the video here.
  3. Home-made herbal ear oil with mullein & garlic ear-drops. Herbal ear drops may be mild enough to administer in the ear. But first get a green-light from your doctor or homeopath.
  4. An obvious alternative is plain-old pain medication and the prescribed medicated ear drops from your doctor. Some pain medication may lower fever which may or may not be a good idea. A fever is the body’s way of fighting the infection, however, if the fever is too high, it may need to be brought down. Again, ask your doctor!
  5. Antibiotics may be necessary if the situation has gotten really bad. Antibiotics are not ideal, and should be a last resort, but they have their time and place in our health.
  6. If pain and infection persists, you need to go see an ENT. If left too long untreated, it may result in long-term middle-ear damage, plus hampering speech development in young children.

Lessons Learned

Why are there so many people then, who, like I used to, swear by using hydrogen peroxide in your ears when it is potentially quite harmful?

It boils down to the principle that advice-givers and advice-takers should verify facts from expert sources before giving or taking advice. Hey, you should even verify what I am telling you in this article! What we can learn is that we all have a responsibility to exercise caution with the self-treatment ideas we get on the Internet. Scrutinize the logic, learn the facts and science behind things, and ask the experts.

What if I had a perforation in my middle ear unbeknown to me? Which, by the way, is a possibility and it is not always painful. I could have suffered with damage to my hearing for the rest of my life! No way!

Perhaps you should also ask your doctor or ENT for their thoughts on using hydrogen peroxide. Or, if you have any wonderful ways to banish ear-aches and infections, feel free to comment below!

You may also want to check out my other post, What To Do When You Are Sick (But Still Trying to Function), it has some great tips for trying to recover while keeping your life going, plus a free cute Whatsapp profile picture you can use to let people know when you are unwell.

For all of you who are struggling with ear infections – you or your little ones – Good Luck!

Posted in For You

What To Do When You’re Sick (But Still Trying To Function)

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I have been sick for the past month with 3 entirely different ailments and illnesses. It’s been awful, because when you have an adult life full of responsibilities, it’s not like everything can just stop and wait for you to get better. Or you could just hibernate for a couple of days and everything will just take care of itself. Plus, when you have 3 little bodies who call you mommy (in varying whining tones) a gazillion times a day… well, life becomes very exhausting. It takes every ounce of self-control to then have to clean up potty-training accidents with a throbbing headache as a result of some serious sinus congestion. (But hey! At least I couldn’t smell anything, which was great!)

It has been humbling for me of course, because I have had to slow down, ask for help, live a little simpler (and messier too) just to cope.

Because I know if I do not – I will not get better!

We are limited by our physical bodies. Although we want to get a ton of things done, we just can’t. That physical limit needs to be respected, because when we start losing sleep, eating badly and not taking time to manage our stress, soon our body will take the reins and demand the recuperation it yearns for.

In other words: if you do not give what your body needs, it will take revenge on you.

But we all have lives that go on and on, and slowing down a little feels like we are falling behind a marathon running race. Then we feel even more stressed about our illness. And we don’t get any better. Where’s the logic in that?

Here’s some advice on dealing with illness when you have a lot else to deal with…*

*Disclaimer: I am not a qualified healthcare practitioner, so please do seek the advice of your doctor or nurse regarding your illness. These tips are only based upon my experience as a mother to help you in your recovery process.

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Forget The “Sweeties”

If you are suffering with congestion, do you really think it’s a good idea to drink a glass of milk? Or eat a candy bar? Bacteria loves dairy products, processed foods and refined foods. Whatever the illness is, opt for healing foods, which are fresh foods like vegetables, fruits, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates, and non-processed proteins. Your body’s nutrient requirements increase when it is trying to fight off illnesses and repair cells. If you really cannot ignore the craving, have just a taste or half the amount you normally eat. If you don’t care about what you eat, well, you unfortunately won’t be getting better as soon as you could have. With the growing to-do list looming in my mind, boy, I know that I will do everything I can to get better as soon as possible!

 

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Take a Day’s Leave: Make it Count

I know that this sounds like the most boring, generic advice for illness. I’m sorry to say this, but yes, you need to take your day’s leave from work. For at least a day to fully rest. If the doctor has booked you off for a week, but there’s too much work weighing upon your mind, make the leave you are able to take, count! And that means that you should not be thinking about work when you do take your day’s leave. (Easier said than done, I know). If you don’t feel better after a good solid day’s rest, well you may need to take 2 days off. Or even more. Everyone is different in their recovery time, whatever illness it may be. But tell yourself that the earth is not going to explode if you are away from work or your house is a war-zone for a day or two. You are not a robot that can work continuously and perfectly. You are a human being with physical limitations and YOU HAVE TO REST!

My experience of this was when I had a cold but I was still determined to clean my house. I vacuumed and washed floors and was very proud of myself. My house sparkled! Although – my body was not impressed. The day after, I became extremely ill with a bad case of flu. For the following week I had to fight my illness even harder with medication and plenty of rest. Moral of the story? Just get the rest you need when your body first asks for it. You cannot ignore your body’s requests. I know that when my husband gets little sleep, sure as eggs, he wakes up feeling congested in the morning. It’s so weird, I know, but it gives an indication of how sleep affects immunity.

Exercise is also not a good idea at this time. Perhaps doing simple stretches, easy yoga poses and gentle walks are good for now. Your sick body is trying to repair itself so also trying to cope with an intense workout is asking too much. Getting out into the sunshine is a must when you are sick, as it will help you to feel not so groggy. Don’t stay in bed the whole day either, dependant upon the severity of your illness.

 

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Delegate & Get Help

With your job, whether it be business-based or being a parent, you really need to get extra help when you are ill. Start thinking realistically and realise that you will actually be able to recover sooner if you get help. Ask a trusted colleague or relative to help out a little (of course not to do your entire job) to get one or two urgent tasks done. Just for things to hang in there so everything doesn’t fall apart while you are on sick-leave.

And regarding your parental duties, hire a cleaner or call a baby-sitter. If you cannot afford a cleaner, just do the bare minimum of household chores by washing the dishes, making beds and taking out the garbage. Don’t do what I did and suddenly decide it’s a good time to scrub the floors. Because it is not. Get your kids involved (dependant upon their age) to tidy the house or you should arrange playdates for them so you can rest. Ask a relative for help in whatever way they are able to, such as baby-sitting or meal preparation. Or give Mr Delivery a call. Seriously, your main motto is going to be getting the bare minimum done in the easiest and simplest way.

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Get The Right Medication

This is pretty obvious, but it is worth mentioning that although Dr Google is helpful, be careful with self-diagnosis. Don’t try to think you that know exactly what your illness is and have the equivalent of a 5-year medicine degree just because you read up on Google for 30 minutes. Dr Google is helpful for sure, don’t get me wrong, because we have access to knowledge of what symptoms and signs to look out for and the ones you should worry about. But doctors generally have years’ experience over and above completing their studies of the human body and medicine. If your illness is quite bad and uncomfortable, be it an infection or a virus, you need to get to a doctor. I am a believer of alternatives like homeopathy and kinesiology too, but sometimes antibiotics are really very necessary should the illness be advanced and aggressive, in my experience. Once you have your medication, make sure you store them properly and take them as prescribed.

 

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SIMPLIFY

Like the two stones in the picture above, your priorities become very simplified when you are ill. The stone at the bottom may represent you and the stone on top your family. Because your family depends on you. If you are ill, your family will also suffer from your limitations. Although in the same way, your family needs to make compromises in order to help you balance your family life.

Your main motto is going to be getting the bare minimum done in the easiest and simplest way. Live minimally and simplify your life. Say no to the  fluff in your life and you will recover faster. Not sure about what you should or shouldn’t keep in your life? Ask yourself this question: Is the item that I need to do absolutely necessary and will it help me to get better? Simplicity will really help you to get back on track with life and on your feet after your illness.

Below is a free image to download for your convenience to post as a pretty Whatsapp profile picture while you are sick. Just so your contacts will know why you aren’t super fast at replying to messages and also so people know your current situation. I know that many of you may not want to broadcast your “sick status”, but it just may come in handy!

Look after yourself, have patience with the healing process that your body is working so hard at doing. You need some extra slack at this time. The body is an amazing thing; given the right foods and rest it can sort itself out fine. I wish you all who are ill at this time a speedy recovery!

Have any strange or wonderful sickness stories about how you coped (or didn’t) when you were sick? Or have any great tips about what worked for you? Feel free to comment below!

Posted in For Family, For Food

How Having Eggs For Breakfast Changed Our Lives

As a teen, some of my friends at school would often tell me that they hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning. Me on the other hand was totally like, “Man, breakfast was the reason I got out of bed this morning!”

And I’ve been that way even as a young adult, BK – Before Kids.

Now, AK – After Kids, my kids are the reason I get out of bed. And then the second reason I get out of bed is to make breakfast for my kids. So things haven’t changed too much I suppose.

Breakfasts for me mean high-fibre, not too much sugar, full cream milk or yogurt and maybe a little fresh or dried fruit on the side. Sounds good, right? And yes, it is a pretty good breakfast I think, compared to all the boxes of colourful carbs advertised with popular characters that they call “breakfast”.

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But, it’s only half of what a good breakfast should be.

By 9am, I am starving. Starving as in “Hey, it’s time for second breakfast!” You know, like hobbits do. Because seriously, my body burns up all the breakfast carbs so quickly. Even if they are full of fibre and more complex carbs, it’s just not enough.

Then, one morning, the obvious dawned upon my husband and I:

We should do some eggs!

That morning was the dawn of our Breakfast Revolution and wonderful things happened.

Here’s What Happened

First off, it changed our kids. My youngest son’s moods have always been somewhat erratic. However, when I picked him up from school the morning we gave him eggs, the teacher asked me: “What did you give your son for breakfast this morning? He is a different child!” Those were her exact words! She told me how happy and energetic he had been that day. I couldn’t believe what a difference a little plate of scrambled eggs made!

Then for me – I became less of a hobbit and I no longer needed “Second Breakfast” at 9am. I still may eat lunches slightly early, but my body’s blood sugar levels are much more even and happier. This also has helped curb my carb-cravings at 9am, which my waist-line is definitely thankful for.

My husband loved how satiated he felt even a while after breakfast. He also appreciates the fact that eggs are such an economical yet nutritious form of protein that we can afford to eat every morning. Although the question has now evolved to, how can you not afford a good breakfast? 

I recently came across this saying:

“If you think Wellness is expensive, try Illness”

Here’s some of the nutritional benefits of eggs:

  • Each egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein
  • all nine essential amino acids (which are the building blocks of cells in the body)
  • choline (important for liver function, brain development, nerve and muscle function and metabolism)
  • selenium (important for immunity and thyroid functioning)
  • vitamin D (for healthy strong bones)
  • phosphorus (important for the kidneys, metabolism, endocrine system, digestive system and muscle functioning)
  • riboflavin (plays a role in energy production)

Now, you may be wondering: What about the cholesterol that all those dietitians warned us about?

Nowadays, studies show that the cholesterol eggs contain is actually dietary cholesterol – different from the blood cholesterol in your body. Despite the warnings of the past, eating eggs will not increase your blood cholesterol levels. Not convinced? Here’s an article that the National Heart Foundation of Australia wrote about Eggs and Cholesterol.

There are so many wonderful articles out there about all the benefits of eggs. But, if you cannot see yourself eating eggs every morning, do try some other form of healthy protein that you enjoy. Your breakfasts need not be time-consuming to prepare, but make sure they contain nutritious foods high in fibre and protein.

Plus, you won’t be feeling so starving by lunch time. If you are super busy during the day and you usually don’t get time to have a good lunch, or at all, you can at least take comfort in the fact that your breakfast was AWESOME. So it’s not a train-smash if lunch was a bit rushed, or skipped.

In conclusion, may I add my disclaimer: I am not a dietician, so if what I am saying doesn’t suit you, please consult a qualified dietician! However, my ultimate point that I am trying to make is to convince you to make your breakfasts better by adding some good form of protein. You will surely see the difference over time. (I am quite confident that any dietician will agree).

Having a good breakfast has really helped our family in our daily lives to feel more energized and capable of completing the day’s tasks. If you contemplate the growing bodies and minds of your children, there is no question that you will want to give them the best. And for the rest of us adults growing older through the years, our bodies need natural and nutritious foods that serves us well and keeps us healthy.

Feel free to comment below about super nutritious breakfast ideas that you love, I’d really enjoy to hear from you!