5 Ways to Teach Children Gratitude

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There’s nothing more powerful in changing our lives than having an attitude of gratitude. But in today’s society, it is SOOOO easy to overwhelmed with wants, efficiency, and discontent. I love November because of Thanksgiving, but if you are like me, I don’t want November to be the only month my kids show thankfulness. You too?

So here are 5 simple ways you can teach your children how to have a heart of thankfulness. I mean after all, those who are more thankful and content have an overall more satisfied and happier life (there’s tons of research out regarding how it effects so many areas of life like self-esteem, optimism, etc. Go check it out!)… And isn’t that what we want most for our children?

Daily Gratitude

This one is SO simple and something I try to practice myself. Each day as I tuck my ids away to bed (or even periodically throughout the day), I’ll ask them to name something they are thankful for. Some of the answers are TO DIE FOR cute. Seriously! I think my son is thankful for garbage trucks nearly every day ūüėČ

Encourage Generosity

This past year we’ve been attempting to make major changes in our clutter around the house.¬† As a part of that, we’ve all given away a TON of stuff (Checkout my 5 Steps To Break Free From Clutter if you want to ditch clutter). We encouraged the kids to choose one thing to give away each day. I was actually amazed at how little resistance we experienced from them.¬† They were actually very excited to give to others.

Turn around the No

It’s sometimes so hard to go into a store with my kids because I feel like I get bombarded with the “I need this” or “will you buy me this” questions.¬† I hate using the word no and try to use it sparingly but geesh….shopping can be downright exhausting.¬† A huge focus for us this year is to eliminate ‘stuff’ so that we have more time and space to focus on our relationships.¬† So now, instead of just saying no I remind them of why we are saying no…. so that we have more time and money to spend on things we all enjoy like vacation, trips to the zoo, or Disneyland.¬† The no to the impulse buy becomes now something they are excited about and willingly put the item back on the shelf.¬† Kids crave relationship. And while they would love the latest and greatest toy, they more desire YOU.

Encourage them to Serve Others

I grew up serving people who were homeless or living on the streets and I cannot say enough about how it shaped my view of the world, gratitude, politics, and so much more.¬† Last year our family took coffee and breakfast to people who were homeless the day after Christmas.¬† It was an AMAZING experience for them. But in this stage of life, I just don’t feel it’s practical for us to do on a regular and ongoing basis.¬† So we’ve found other ways to serve.¬† We’ve connected with an amazing organization called Safe Families.¬† It’s given us the opportunity to bring children into our home, love them, and serve them.¬† My kids then have hands on real life, tangible exposure to serving those in need.¬† There are so many ways for families to serve together, whether it be as simple as picking up trash, serving food in a homeless shelter, giving gifts for Operation Christmas Child and others.

Please and Thank You’s

There is some thing so fundamental in manners that can have profound impacts on gratitude.¬† But rather than forcing your kids to say them just out of formality, make them meaningful (this is similar to why I never force my kids to say sorry).¬† When saying something is forced, it loses its value and meaning.¬† A gentle reminder such as “did you say thank you when Maya gave you a flower” reminds kids that even simple actions are something to be grateful for.¬† Just the same, encouraging them to write thank you notes reminds them of how many things in our lives we have to be thankful for.

 

Do you have any fun ways you teach gratefulness? I’m going to share some of my favorites in the next month and would love to highlight yours! Drop them below or email me renae@renaefieck.com

Secret to Saving Kids Artwork without Clutter

What the heck do we do with all the pictures, drawings, school projects, and little gifts from our kids? I mean, I love them all but my daughter’s love language is gifts. ¬†So we are ALWAYS getting special pictures, drawings, or crafts from her because that’s her way of showing how she loves us. ¬†But I’m on a journey to eliminating clutter from my life. ¬†I want more space. ¬†I want a chance to breathe and not feel like I’m CONSTANTLY cleaning. ¬†Is it wrong to want a clean house AND be able to enjoy time with my kids?

I saw somewhere a picture of a triangle that showed mom’s sanity, a clean house, and happy kids on each of the points. ¬†The meme stated, you can only choose 2, which 2 are you going to choose. ¬†For a long time, hands down, I wanted happy kids and happy mom to be my choice. ¬†But you know what I realized….a clean house was a HUGE contributor to my sanity. ¬†I don’t think you have to choose between the 3. I think you CAN have a balance of all 3.

So in my quest to eliminate stuff without losing the memories (or breaking my dear daughter’s heart), I found an app called Keepy. It’s been amazing. ¬†It has both a free and a paid version (with the amount of drawings we get, I totally bought the paid version).

You can take snapshots of your children’s drawings, crafts, projects, whatever and store¬†them. You can have multiple kids all stored in the same account. You can store voice recordings of your child telling you about the picture or take a picture of your child holding the drawing so you can document age too. And best! You can add “Fans” so grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends can see all the magical drawings and leave messages too.

 

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It’s definitely a timeless way to preserve and capture memories without all the clutter. ¬†And if you did want to print all of it in a book, they make it pretty seamless too with having photobook¬† and other photo gift options (although I haven’t tried that part yet).

If you haven’t snagged a copy of my FREE 5 Steps to Breaking Free From Clutter, you should totally do that! Breaking free from clutter has changed my life. I finally feel like I can enjoy time with my kids because I’m not spending day in and day out picking stuff up.

6 Steps to End Picky Eating

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Picky eating is SO hard for parents! It’s the struggle between feeding your child what they’ll eat just to make sure they eat, even if it’s NOT healthy or nutritious versus holding your ground and them not eating anything. It’s a really really hard spot for you to be in. ¬†When I work with some of my clients, families are often struggling with a kiddo who will eat only a handful of items (commonly goldfish crackers and chicken nuggets). And while not all picky eating is that extreme, you may benefit from some of my tips with your own kids.

Here are my top 6 tips to turn around the struggle with picky eating and the endless mealtime battles. They can be exhausting, I know!

  1. Make meal times enjoyable. Meals should be a social experience. Eat together. Talk about your day or what you’re thankful for. Engage. Meals should be a family experience, not with kids eating individually.
  2. You are responsible for providing a meal, and your child is responsible for what they eat. No pressure, no force feeding, no bargaining, no polite bites. It’s hard sometimes to resist the urges, I know!
  3. Keep meals and snacks consistent throughout the day. Both you and your kiddos should have regularly schedule times to eat every 2-3 hours. It’s good for your metabolism, your satiation, energy, sugar levels and so much more.
  4. Always have at least 75% of your child’s plate be preferred foods with 25% being non preferred foods. And try to create family meals that are composed of both preferred and non-preferred foods so you are all eating the same foods. No more short order cooking!
  5. Learn to play with your food. It doesn’t have to necessarily be at meal times but creating spaceships, boats, mustaches or the like with non-preferred foods can desensitize aversions and increase the likelihood that your kiddo will try one those non-preferred foods. I encourage families to play with food in lots of different environments.
  6. Even if your kiddo refuses a food once, feel free to continue to expose them to that food. It can take between 7-10 exposures to determine whether or not they actually like a food or just opposing it because it’s new!

Was any of this new to you? Comment below with what you plan to implement.

P.S.- If you’re looking for an awesome kids nutritional shake, my kids LOVE this one!

I cheated on my essential oils…

… with homeopathy.

I love my oils. I do. I use them all the time. I make laundry detergent, floor cleaner, household cleaner, and more with them. I love what they can do. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve seen them do. ¬†I’ve seen them heal wounds, clear up congestion, calm an upset stomach. ¬†But there’s a lot of misinformation about using essential oils. It’s sometimes difficult to find out the true information. I have found that even among experts simple things are still debated. Bigger companies combat with other companies saying ones better than the other therefore the rules do not apply. It’s hard to wade through all the information and know what you’re doing right healthwise.

I sometimes find myself riding a fine line. Sometimes agreeing with one side and sometimes agreeing with another side of an issue. I think essential oil use comes with a need for people to be diligent about research education and discretion. ¬†It’s not so simple as just slapping an oil on a sore. ¬†There are safety precautions that need to be followed, and oftentimes in the effort to “sell” an oil, these safety things get left aside.

A few days ago¬†I found myself¬† abandoning my essential oils. I developed an extremely irritable rash on my face and neck. There were a variety of reasons it could have occurred but my likely culprit was an essential oil even though I didn’t directly apply the directly in that area.

When I was pregnant I started getting a rash on my throat when I’d apply lemon (yes, it was diluted) to my throat for a sore throat.¬†lemon rashThe general response I got was that necks are sensitive.

(And the picture doesn’t do this rash justice. My face feels like sandpaper now 4-5 days later).lemon rash 2

This rash was very similar yet a little different.

So I started to dig a little deeper. I had not applied an oil topically anywhere along my neck. ¬†I had dabbed a little whisper blend earlier that morning behind my ear. My first thought. I had been working in the yard, possibly a plant I touched? I applied sunscreen, maybe that? Yet neither of my children reacted to it and I’ve used it plenty of times before. Miserable and uncomfortable I did the allergy blend¬†in a capsule. 2 drops of lemon, 2 drops of peppermint, and 2 lavender. The rash wasn’t getting any better. The itching becoming unbearable. Some of my oil contacts gave me suggestions for other oil remedies and stated that it’s a detox. Then I remembered for the last few days I had been drinking one 32oz water bottle with 1-2 drops of a metabolic blend. ¬†I looked on the ingredient list and low and behold…lemon. So not only did I possibly react to the lemon in the metabolic blend¬†but then added to it by taking 2 more drops of lemon. ¬†The only thing that would resolve the itching was my unda cream (homeopathy) and coconut oil. My husband’s allergy pill didn’t even take away the itch.

Why do I share this?

In my search to determine whether or not it was an oil that I had used that caused the reaction, I stumbled across some startling information. Essential oils can cause reactions. ¬†And they are not always detoxing!¬†It’s simple any substance put into or on your body is going to potentially cause a reaction. ¬†Nothing in this world is completely non-reactive for every single human being. Well I guess maybe water‚Ķ

Just because it’s natural does not mean it is safe for everyone.¬†

However, even with a possibility of reacting, I would choose something that is natural that has a chance of reacting over synthetic toxins anyway!  I just hope to do it as safe as possible to avoid a possible reaction.

So many people have reactions to simple mundane things that others do not. It cannot be eliminated the an essential oil could be the same. Or that your body is going to remain the same for your entire life. Your hormones shift. Your diet changes. Your exercise changes. The toxins present in your environment change. ¬†I stumbled across multiple accounts online of changes to people’s response to simple things like aloe vera (being fine with it for 30+ years and then one day breaking out into hives and not¬†being able to use it again).

How do I use essential oils safely?

1. Dilute dilute dilute.

I cannot express or stress diluting enough.  I think this is KEY! So many reactions can be eliminated by diluting. Did you know that one drop of peppermint oil is equal to 28 cups of peppermint tea? Essential oils are powerful. People use them because of these powerful properties. But these powerful properties need to be respected. Dilute your oils. Not only does it save your money but it saves the adverse reactions to potentially strong or reactive oils (reactive to be used loosely cause all oils have the power to be reactive).

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(Diluting like this could save a ton of money!)

2. Change up your oil routine

Using the same oil day in and day out can set your body up for becoming sensitive to that oil. In my particular situation that’s exactly what I think happened. When I was pregnant I was sick frequently. Lemon oil was my oil of choice for helping combat my sicknesses. It was one of the oils I felt was safest to use during pregnancy. Some of the other immune boosting oils I didn’t feel safe using. So I used lots of lemon. And then I started reacting. (That goodness I hadn’t overused lavender!! It’s my favorite). Explore more oils. ¬†If you always turn to lemon for congestion, take a look at lavender, digestion blend, lime, respiratory blend, eucalyptus, peppermint, juniper berry, cypress, melaleuca, cedarwood, ginger, rosemary, fennel, etc. If you always use lavender for sleep, try calming blend, vetiver, Roman Chamomile, or marjoram. ¬†You might be surprise at what success you have with an unsuspecting oil. I love ordering oils with my Loyalty Rewards Program because I’ll often trade in my points for oils I wouldn’t normally want to buy. ¬†After I get them, I oftentimes wonder why I’d never ordered it before! Some of my favorite oils have been ones I get for free with points and later end up ordering all the time!

3. Know your oils

Essential oils can be complex. Know an oil before you use it. ¬†Are there precautions you need to take? Are there people with certain conditions that should not use the oil? Does it cause photosensitivity? Are these oils pure or do they contain impurities (the FDA does not regulate essential oils and the minimum amount of essential oil that needs to be in a bottle to receive the “100% pure” label is only 3% essential oil!)? What country are these oils sourced from? ¬†Please do not just take the advice of someone else, unless you trust that person completely. Do your own research. ¬†There are plenty of books, websites, and other resources available to help make sure you are using essential oils safely. ¬†I encourage you to continue to exploring ways to replace things in your homes that may be toxic or synthetic with essential oils (cleaners, laundry detergents, air fresheners, etc). ¬†I feel this is by far a safer choice! ¬†When it comes to using on your body, be more diligent about your research.Each day I learn something new and love that I can continue to learn about them and help others learn about them!

I will still use my oils and will continue to recommend them to others but I now have a better understanding of their power. ¬†They have gained a little more of my respect. ¬†Also, I do believe that I may be able to restore some bit of homeostasis in my body to hopefully not react to the lemon. ¬†It is like food sensitivities, which change over time and can be healed if treated and cared for properly. ¬†I’m just not sure what that will look like for now other than avoiding lemon.

I am dedicated to recommending oils in the safest way possible. ¬†Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions! If I don’t know, I’ll try to find out for you.

Scrub a Dub Dub, What do you have in the tub?

My husband calls me a hippie. ¬†I don’t think he realized it when we got married (neither did I!) but time as slowly progressed me into a more and more natural person, parent, and professional. ¬†I know I still have lots of areas to improve upon but it’s one slow step at at time (did I mention that we just got a chicken coop!?!? sooo excited! I will blog more about that when we get the process rolling. We bought it off craigslist and have a few things in the next few weeks so chickens probably won’t happen for a few weeks!).

But as a part of this journey, I’ve started trading out chemicals for more natural products. ¬†Our skin is the largest organ of our body and it absorbs whatever we put onto it. I’m picky with our sunscreen (and have a homemade recipe here) and we use coconut oil as a moisturizer 99% of the time. ¬†I’ve been playing with homemade cosmetics (I will share!). But being frugal, I just can’t throw away soaps people give me (aka…I get lots of Bath & Body soaps as gifts). ¬†So when I was given a bar of Believe Soap, I was thrilled to be using something way more natural that didn’t require me to buy soap when we still have some in the shower.

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(I meant to take a picture before I started using it but forgot, so here’s a picture from their website).

I got a full bar of Winter Citrus and a couple small samples of Lavender Oatmeal and Refreshing Mint.  So here are my thoughts.

  • 100% vegan (A+)
  • All Natural products, literally the ingredient list was mostly essential oils¬†
  • Handmade

Their website says they even use herbs freshly picked from their garden when possible! And even can custom order soaps for you because they hand make them.

  • They are $5/bar (it’s really not that much!)
  • Safe for the whole family

Because there is nothing toxic and these are natural products, I feel comfortable and safe using it on anyone in my family (do you know what kinds of  toxins are in baby soaps??)

  • Made in California¬†

if you are a Californian, you are supporting local business!–if you aren’t, then you are supporting small business! (A+ for both)

  • Lathers well¬†
  • Scent is pleasant and subtle¬†

Being an OT I am acutely aware that many people are sensitive to smells. This would be the soap for you if you are overwhelmed by many of the scented products. ¬†It smells earthy, pleasant, and is subtle enough that you don’t think you are washing yourself with a slice of orange. ¬†I tend to like things with a little more scent but I know many don’t so it’s a great middle road. ¬†If you are one that likes stronger scents, maybe try one of the other flavors. My guess would be Rosemary & Mint or similar would smell a little more.

  • Long Lasting

I’ve been using the soap for a few weeks now and it really doesn’t look like I’ve made a dent in the size of the bar. I could see it lasting awhile.

  • Can be used on your face, or body

When I tried it on my face, I got a little in my eye and it wasn’t super pleasant but most soap isn’t. So if you use it on your face, just be sure to wash extra carefully

  • Essential oils can promote healing

It’s one thing to wash your body with just soap, but soaps using essential oils can promote healing while you use them.

My overall opinion…

I don’t know if I will order more soap for awhile (I still have lots) but if you are looking for a natural, vegan, handmade, local option, this is a great place to start. ¬†My only preference would be to have a little stronger scent but it gets an A+ from me in all other categories!

Check them out! Have you used Believe Soap??

Summer Series: Soothing Sunburns with Essential Oils

Gardening and planting my summer garden is one of my favorite things to do! I just love it! When we finally got our fence¬†done, I feverishly worked on getting my garden boxes done and planted. ¬†It was a cloudy day, my baby was sleeping, and my toddler was helping. ¬†It didn’t even occur to me to put on sunscreen. ¬†I didn’t even realize how burnt I had become until I went to get in the shower. ¬†That’s when I took this picture.
sunburnFortunately, it didn’t hurt too bad but as soon as I got out of the shower, I went to the oils! There are a couple different remedies and options.

Sunburn Soothing Gel

(this is the one I used, and then switched out peppermint for frankincense once it cooled a little)

  • 1 tsp of aloe vera
  • 2-3 drops of lavender¬†oil
  • 1-2 drops of peppermint¬†oil

Sunburn Spray #1

  • 16oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon Aloe Vera Juice
  • 1/4 cup Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E
  • 8 drops¬†lavender oil
  • 8 drops melaleuca¬†oil
  • 8 drops Roman Chamomile¬†oil

Sunburn Spray #2

  • 20 drops of Lavender
  • 10-20 drops of¬†Pepeprmint
  • 2 ounce spray bottle
  • Fill the remainder with either water or¬†fractionated coconut oil.

(Once the initial sting is worn away, you can trade the peppermint oil for frankincense oil)

  • 1 tsp of aloe vera
  • 2-3 drops of¬†lavender¬†oil
  • 1-2 drops of¬†frankincense¬†oil

 

5 Reasons Babies are Amazing (And there are surely more!)

I am loving having a newborn baby. ¬†My husband and I had decided we’d only have 2 kids, and years down the line we could adopt if we decided we’d like more. ¬†However, the last 8 weeks with a newborn baby have made me fall so in love with having a newborn and I could see myself doing this stage again! (and again!)

1. Newborns smell amazing.
I love the smell of baby spit up. I truly do. The messiness of a breastfeed baby with spilled milk and spit up is one of my favorite things. I snuggle into my newborn’s neck and just love the scent he brings. There must be hormones released when a new mother smells her baby cause it’s a moment that warms my heart. Sometimes I choose not to shower or wash my shirt just so I can savor in that smell of snuggling with a new baby. ¬†But aside from the milk, spit up, and poopy diapers, babies just have a freshness about them that you can’t get anywhere else.¬†

2. Each day they do something new
Babies grow sooo fast! Each day they do something new and you can’t help but realize the miracle in which they are. After 9 months, 2 microscopic cells form a fully living and breathing individual. But each day after they are born, they grow and change even more. ¬†The learning that takes place is irreplaceable to watch. ¬†It is incredible to watch this little being discover his or her hand or foot, to recognize his or her face in the mirror, or smile back at you!

3. They love to snuggle
These wee little ones have just spent 9 months wrapped in a warm cacoon hearing the rhythm of their moms heartbeat. When they come out, that is the most comforting position to them. Snuggled next to the chest or in someone’s warm arms, feeling the rhythm of movement and the steady beat of the heart. That’s why baby wearing is amazing (for both mom and baby). I love using the moby with a newborn. I love the way it positions baby against the body and the softness of the material and malleability to mom and baby. ¬†I have become addicted to babywearing and have a variety of carriers, each one with its own unique features. ¬†I highly encourage new moms to try out a variety of carriers to find what works best for you. ¬†In many big cities, there are babywearing groups that rent or loan carriers to people to try.

4. They cause you to slow down
Honestly, the dishes aren’t always going to be done or the laundry to be put away. But that’s ok. Babies don’t move fast nor do they need anything other than to be loved and fed. It’s a moment in time that will never be relived with that baby again. They are only newborns for a short period of time and then they bring on whole other challenges, memories and adventures. ¬†Our society moves too fast, and most of the time it’s unnecessary. ¬†We need to begin to feel productive even when relaxing and spending quality time with our families and friends.

5. They reflect true innocence

A baby comes into the world with no preconceived notions or ideas. Each experience they encounter is new. Some even say that babies and children have a connection to God that adults lose as we grow up. Babies begin their lives nearly as blank slates. The same baby could be raised in 2 different countries, 2 different families or wherever and turn out very differently. We as a culture, as a community, have the responsibility to shape these little people into life breathing, forgiving, selfless adults. It’s a huge responsibility that far too many people take too lightly. Let’s step up to the plate, people! We have a generation to nurture.march2014 (49 of 51)