Five games to play in the car

DSC_0677Many precious minutes are spent in the car every morning since Georgie started school. It’s a 30 minute drive so instead of wasting that time listening to boring morning shows (me) and shooting dinosaurs on the iPad (him), we play games. Options are limited due to Georgie’s age but I have managed to find five games he loves playing and I don’t mind them either.

I Spy: Obviously Georgie can’t play I Spy the way it is meant to be played but we’ve found a system that works and keeps him entertained. Instead of picking something that begins with…I describe that ‘something’ to him. I use colours and other forms of description that he can understand. I Spy with my little eye something that is big, blue and has lots of wheels. BUS!

Stories: If Georgie had his way I would be telling stories all the way to school and back again. Don’t get me wrong, as a writer, I love making up stories but there are mornings when creativity just isn’t churning. So instead I start telling a story then I stop and he picks up from where I left off.

Spot the car: We focus on different car models or colours. Whoever spots the most cars, wins.

I’m thinking of an animal: Like Georgie, I’m guessing your kids are suckers for animals too so why not give this one a go. Just like I Spy, give as much detail to description as possible.

Rock, paper, scissors: We’ve only played this a couple of times because it isn’t always easy when driving but since papa and I use this method often to fairly decide who will be popping to the shop or picking up dinner, it’s only natural that Georgie gets in on the action. Perhaps we can have him pick up dinner next time.

 

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Bonfire night

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In 1981, my parents were hoping that their firstborn (me!) would make an appearance on Guy Fawkes’ night, commemorated on November 5. That never happened but bonfires have remained a popular English tradition in my family ever since. Despite being over a week late (due to conflicting schedules of over 10 persons) my father managed to get most of us together and on Sunday night we celebrated my belated birthday. Thanks dad!

Battling Eczema

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Ever since Georgie turned 2, he’s been suffering from atopic dermatitis otherwise known as eczema. His condition, which includes red patches, itching and scaly skin would take a turn for the worse during the summer months. Excessive bathing and swimming pools would dry his skin causing it to lose moisture. I tried numerous products, both organic and non, with vague results. Nothing seemed to work and rid him from excessive scratching until someone mentioned Aloe Vera. If you use creams or oils based on aloe, great! But what I cannot recommend enough is the actual plant and the gel you find within the leaves. A good friend gave me an Aloe Vera plant ages ago, when we were still living in the flat sans baby. When we moved, I took it with me and planted it in our garden. Little did I know that this little plant, which by the way requires minimal maintenance and knowledge to grow, would become a life-saver.

There is no test to diagnose the exact reason behind eczema but it is believed to be inherited from parents who suffer with hayfever, asthma or other allergies. Eczema itself is not an allergy. However, allergies can trigger eczema and so can pollen, dust, harsh soaps and detergents, some foods especially acidic ones and dairy products and even emotional stress. We are yet to determine the cause of Georgie’s eczema however I have noticed a flare-up whenever I switch laundry detergents and skip regular moisturising.

So back to the amazing natural skin remedy that is the aloe vera plant. There are a number of types available but the one in the photo is what I use on Georgie and myself whenever I feel my skin is dry, burnt or in need of something. Cut a leaf and slice it down the middle or side. Scoop out the gel and generously apply. Whenever Georgie is at the beginning of a flare-up stage, I have noticed that the gel will work miracles overnight. No exaggeration.

Another miracle-worker is coconut oil. I have been using it on my hair and oily skin for months and I absolutely swear by it. It seems to be doing a fantastic job on clearing up Georgie’s eczema too. I add a teaspoon of coconut oil to his bath to maintain moisture and also carry a small jar with me wherever I go (easier to do so with coconut oil rather than a fresh leaf of aloe) in case Georgie has the urge to scratch or if I notice his skin is dry. You should be able to find it at all major supermarkets and health food stores.

Eczema is a nasty condition that can be treated with medication such as antihistamines and cortisone, which was exactly what a dermatologist suggested we try when Georgie’s arms were once covered in red patches and I was at my wit’s end. But I have found that there is no need to go to such extremes especially when mother nature has already figured it out. Most times, she has the answers.

to pray or not to pray

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There is a slight chance some will find this post offensive. I can only hope that is not the case. I am about to touch on the topic of cultures and religions, something I was sure would never be mentioned on the blog due to the obvious sensitivity of the matter. However, this piece is based on my own experiences and thoughts, as a mother and individual and something that happened to me recently. I am not here to tell you what you should or should not believe in. Far from it. I believe the world is beautiful due to the mixture that exists, more so in terms of culture than religion. It seems though, that my view is not shared by all, something I am completely aware of. Then there’s the matter of hate and extreme, which again I am aware of but do not and will never understand. When it hits too close to home, I cannot remain quiet anymore.

This post stems from a conversation I had with a mother of two. Touching on the subject of schools and private vs public during an afternoon waxing appointment, somehow religion got in the way.

‘I find it disgusting that children no longer say their prayers at school,’ said the woman. I had no idea. I remember prayer being a vital part of the morning school ritual. During my school years in London and Cyprus, prayer assembly or singing hymns always came first thing. Until that moment, I naively assumed it was a spiritual tradition adopted by all schools.

‘It’s because of this horrible mix of religions that’s overtaking our schools,’ she added without a hint of guilt. ‘Why should my child be torn away from his religious beliefs because of others? I can’t believe the state supports something like this.’ It then dawned on me that I was dealing with a form of hate and it pains me that it was coming from a person of my generation, and moreover, a parent. She went on to blame her child’s lack of religious induction on the assortment of religions that now exists in our community. I then recalled a moment when another mother I had once met declared how worried she was that her son may become friends with a boy from his class called Abdul. I desperately searched for answers when I was faced with this remark. There were no answers that could justify it. SHE could not give me any answers that could justify her ‘worries’. All she would say was that in the end, it all comes down to religion and she was happy that her son reported to her on the first day that he was not friends with anyone who had an ‘unusual name’. A sigh of relief.

‘I don’t think the state should encourage or support ANY religion,’ I explained calmly to the first. ‘Children should be able to freely make a choice without coercion.’ To which I received a reply that went something like this: ‘Oh, you’re one of THOSE.’ I realised there was no point on discussing the matter any further but her words felt like a hammer shattering my hopes that my child can grow up in a world where diversity is welcomed and embraced.

I actually admire people with deep-rooted religious beliefs. Sometimes I think it would be easier to believe in one God, one book, one religion. Everything would be so much more simple. But I chose to believe in love and kindness and make a crucial point of embedding this in my child’s being, above anything else. In my mind, the aforementioned mothers are no different to the people committing religious crimes all over the world, raising children to believe not only in one God but to vilify the rest. Georgie is currently part of a class made up of five different cultures and perhaps that many religions. I couldn’t be happier. He and all children, who attend both private and public schools, are mirrors of society, where people from all walks of life coexist, most times, in peace. Our children do not ponder on the different skin colours, they do not believe that goodness or evil springs from the way we pray or not. Unless they are told. Instinct and purity beget nothing but care for mummy and daddy and the love they feel for them; they play, they laugh and chose sides based on popularity, common interests, toy planes and Barbie dolls. We cannot afford to consider this a cliche. Unconditional love is not a cliche. Let us instill love in their hearts for every single living being on this planet. How can that be wrong?

I’ll end this post with a quote by Maya Angelou:

Hate: it has caused a lot of problems in this world but it has not solved one yet.

 

An update on the matter since I wrote this last week: Following a little journalistic research I discovered that most schools DO include prayer in their morning routine. I’m curious, do yours?