Life Lessons Series: Trusting is Better than Doubting

A third way to expand your child’s world is to teach him or her to be trusting.  Assume the best in other people.  Believe.  I think the best way to demonstrate you can trust people is to show your child how you give others the benefit of the doubt, or how you show grace.  The place this lesson starts is in the home, between you and your loved ones.    

No, you can’t trust everyone.  Children shouldn’t automatically trust strangers.  However, if you can teach your kids that you can live a life void of paranoia, you will all benefit.  Need to read more about the advantages?  Click here or here.

Life lesson: ‘I know you want to do the right thing.’ – that’s what I tell my son.  Instead of making statements about how my son may consistently do an activity poorly, or not listen, or even hit others, I tell him affirming statements to help him shape the way he talks to himself.  Then I help show him how to correct it.

We have so many opportunities to show we trust people.  We trust people when:

  • we don’t micromanage
  • we don’t nag
  • we start moving towards the car after telling the kids it’s time to get into the car (versus herding them up and hand-holding each one, for example)
  • we give the benefit of the doubt
  • we use positive speech
  • we forgive – my son apologizes and gives hugs
  • we encourage and invite them to try again – in fact, my son already says “Try again” (and he’s under 2 years old)

Of course, there are many moments trust is broken (with varying degrees of severity or impact).  It’s foolish not to address these ‘you-broke-my-trust’ times.  We don’t ignore these teachable moments, but we don’t make mountains or set up altars for sacrifice and demand penance (ha, ha) out of small matters either.  We don’t keep score and we don’t look back.  If there’s a pattern or trend we notice, we look for behavior triggers, how we can break bad habits, and form new ones.  We implement new rewards for breakthroughs, according to the degree of worthiness of those breakthroughs.  Then it’s time to move forward.  Yay!

In your everyday life, are you trusting of others?  Do you ever view someone or some thing with a touch of doubt, or misbelief?  Are there moments you find it hard to forgive?

What are some good ways to demonstrate trust in your own actions?

  • Be fully honest about your feelings, all the time.  It helps to figure out the best way to express yourself (time, word choice, tone, delivery method, setting), but it doesn’t help to hide your feelings.
  • Follow through, on time… or at least let the interested party know why you’ll miss a target.  This includes keeping promises to your children.
  • Drum up courage to do the right thing, every time.  If you do the wrong thing, go back and correct it.
  • Apologize for your mistakes.  It’ll be easy to show your kids you’re not perfect (if you’re like me), but you should say it out loud to them.  That way, they don’t have to be perfect, too.  No one is perfect.  That’s what makes the world interesting.  It’s okay.
  • As long as it doesn’t violate your own principles, stand by your family, friends and nation.
  • Don’t take things that don’t belong to you, including ideas.  Don’t claim ownership of ideas, styles, belongings, (etc.) that you didn’t create.

If you can demonstrate your own trustworthiness, and also assume the best in others, while communicating when there is disparity, you will become a better communicator.  People will know what you want and need.  Your children will see you as a role model for integrity.

What are some practical ways you’ve shown your kids how to be trusting or trustworthy?

Love, Robyn Cooper

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Life Lessons Series: Giving is Better than Taking

One way to expand your child’s world is to find ways to be giving. Volunteer.  It’s likely you’ll sleep easier at night by trying to improve someone else’s life or leaving the world a better place.

Even though you’re not getting paid, and may not personally benefit, helping others is worth your time.  Need to read more about the benefits?  Click here.

Life lesson: ‘We share because we like when others feel happy’ – that’s what I tell my son.  It’s so simple and so valid for many different situations.

I adopt this ‘posture’ in my life, and challenge you to do the same.  For example, at night I like to say a prayer with my hands open.  It’s symbolic because my hands are open to ‘receiving’, rather than closed because I’m holding onto something.  My heart is this way too.  I have an open heart so I can be giving to others.  I’d rather be able to say ‘yes’ in life, wouldn’t you?

Do you ball your hands up, hanging onto things or ideas too tightly?  What would become possible if you loosen your grip?  What possibilities are you blocking out by not saying ‘yes’?

What are some good ways to share?  You can share your resources, your toys, or your money; your time’ your thoughts, knowledge or expertise; or your connections or network.

I’ve seen some great examples of people sharing. Good friends of my family started an annual pub crawl to raise money for the Humane Society. Close friends have an annual Halloween party to raise money for UNICEF.  I love sending support to pastors and missionaries, children with needs or even just helping friends.

Be flexible – The way you can help others may change over time.  In my grade school years I used to visit nursing homes.  Then as a young teen I volunteered at my veterinarian’s office.  Later I helped out at the Humane Society.  I taught toddlers at our church.  I was a youth counselor at three different churches and then ran a young adult small group, and started a prayer group.  It’s nice to set a good example for your children in areas you can, and these areas will probably change over time.  A great friend of mine told me one of the greatest lessons she’s learned as a mom is to be flexible.  We can be flexible in our life, and still find ways to be giving.

Here are some other ways you can help others:

– Habitat for Humanity
– Big Brothers Big Sisters
– go plant some trees
– clean up a local park or walking trail
– pick up trash along a road or the highway
– listen to a friend
– baby-sit for a friend, or mop the floor in his or her home
– run a meal to someone who is sick

What ways have you found to be giving this year?

Love, Robyn Cooper

When Kids Get Sick: Remedies, Symptoms, & Early Indicators

When babies get sick, do all you can
To make them well; cancel your plans

Soothe their bellies, get a pail
Lower their fevers and bathe them well

Find your home remedies, Tell them it’s ok
Boost those immune systems; to God, you will surely pray

– Robyn Cooper

Natural Remedies

Though this post is going to focus less on remedies and more on symptoms, I want you to think about what you do when your kids get sick.  Do you run to medicine right away?  When your kids get a fever, do you try to lower it immediately, or stop their runny noses?

Since becoming a mother, I do far more research about health and wellness than I used to do.  In my family, we look to essential oils, vinegars, herbs, probiotics, healthy herbal chicken stocks, tepid baths, mixtures to put into the bath, laughter, and getting more rest and sleep.  We also encourage nursing more often and say our prayers and thanksgiving.

Believe me, there is a time and place for over the counter or prescription medicine, but the body is amazing and wants to heal itself, so I only use these in dire situations.  Our bodies function the way we do for a reason.

How the Body Communicates through Symptoms and Moods

I’ve come to realize how the human body communicates.  Just like we communicate our feelings and thoughts through words, sounds, and body language, the body communicates how it’s feeling through its sensory system, desire for input, output, and it communicates with your mind and spirit too.

The body communicates through its sensory system (how you physically feel):

  • energy levels
  • body temperature
  • muscle aches
  • how your throat feels
  • headaches
  • chest/ organ pain

The body communicates through input:

  • appetite
  • hearing loss or sensitivity
  • sensitivity or loss of smell
  • the way food tastes, or the type of food cravings you have
  • how much sleep or quiet time you need

The body communicates through output:

  • mucous membranes
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • excrement
  • blood
  • skin (rashes, pimples, dryness, oiliness, ailments, tone, paleness)
  • eye brightness or dullness
  • the color of your gums

The body communicates with your mind and spirit:

  • your instincts
  • mood

Surely, you can think of other ways the body communicates.  If so, please comment below.

Early Indicators in Babies and Toddlers

It’s easy for most people to tell when they are getting sick.  It’s harder to tell when babies are getting sick though.  For babies and toddlers, some of the early indicators tend to seem more subtle because kids either don’t talk yet, or they are too young to isolate what’s really bothering them.  If you learn what your child’s early indicators are, you can start addressing the body’s needs earlier with immune boosting remedies.  Some of the early indicators include:

  • grumpiness
  • wanting to nurse more often
  • changes in sleeping patterns
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in the stool’s consistency, color and/ or odor (I know… gross!)

Some of the later indicators in child illnesses, when you’re in the height of a common virus, include the obvious: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, sweat, crying, skin rashes and more.  Since babies and toddlers have a difficult time communicating that their heads or tummies hurt, you have to play ‘health detective’ and try to stay ahead of their illness.

I keep a health log for my son.  I know how often he tends to get ill, how high a typical fever runs, how long a typical virus lasts and what his other symptoms are.  I can tell the pediatrician what and how he’s been doing down to the half hour.  What might be even more important, is I know exactly how he is when he’s well.

If you haven’t yet, start a health log for your children.

You can use the notepad in your phone, for example, and keep a separate note for each child.  Write the date, and what symptoms you notice.  Keep your notes short and simple.  My notes look like this:

  • 9/26 doc kute confirmed hand foot mouth disease – said this was the height of the illness and he can be w/others Monday (9/29) but wait longer.  Said only possible to get 1 virus at a time. 28.6 pounds.
  • 9/25 rash on body and bottom of foot, mouth blister back of throat, no fever
  • 9/24 saw blisters on his bum, no fever
  • 9/23 no fever
  • 9/22 101.4 fever 9am throw up 3 times till 10:30a
  • 102.3 at 12:30p
  • 103.3 at 3:30p
  • 102.4 at 5:30p throw up once
  • 102.0 at 8:30p

Keep doctor’s records in a binder at home, or scan a digital copy into a computer, just to keep organized.

Finally, log what medications he’s been prescribed and given.  Basically, just try your best to remove as much of the guesswork as possible.

Play health detective for your family, learn about natural remedies, and be proactive about learning about common illnesses and symptoms.  Everyone will remain healthier this way.

If you have any tips or tricks for good health, please share them.

Thanks and love,

Robyn

Creating a Nice Morning

It can be hectic in the morning for moms, everyone knows that.  You can’t predict your children’s moods every day, the weather, everyone’s health, etc.

You can, however, do a few things each evening to set yourself up for success in the morning.  You can either do these things after the kids go to bed, or even better, have your kids help you after dinner each night.  Here are some ideas that will help you keep the chaos-factor down:

  • Have your kids help you prep tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Do the dishes after dinner and wipe down the table.  While you clean up the table, have your kids put their toys away.
  • Start the bath water.  While the bath is running, have your kids put their dirty clothes in the hamper each night.
  • While the kids are taking a bath, while you’re sitting next to them, look at tomorrow’s schedule and make a note of any necessary events including driving time, errands, or events and how this changes what you need to bring along.  If you need more snacks then you’ve packed tonight, make a note.
  • After the bath, the kids can get into pajamas, and they (or you) can set out the next day’s clothes.  This way, you avoid a confrontation in the morning regarding what they want to wear.  Pack the diaper bag if needed, but do it tonight.  It’ll be easier this way.
  • After everyone is in pajamas you are ready to spend quality time together winding down, reading and saying prayers.  If you want to use my wind-down meditation, see here.

I hope this helps you run smoother in the morning, and feel more productive each evening.  The nice thing about this routine is it helps teach your kids responsibility as well.

Comment with any additional routines you add a night which help create a smoother morning.

Love, Robyn

Little Moments

It’s the little moments that make us great mothers.  Your child is not going to remember that the house was spotless, or you made lots of money.  Your child won’t remember you were the most efficient person you knew.  Your child won’t recall how you had so many friends.

Your child will remember the kinds of words you used with him or her.  Do your words build up or destroy?

Your child will remember the kinds of looks you gave him or her.  Do your looks encourage or discourage?

Your child will remember the kinds of touches you extended towards him or her.  Do your touches show affection or instill fear?

Your child will remember the attitude you had with store clerks.  Do you show appreciation or are you perturbed?

Your child will remember that you stopped so (s)he could show you something (s)he achieved, observed or remembered.  I’ve discovered all people just want some basic dignities in life above food, clothing, and shelter: to be loved and respected, and to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Your child’s heart is a garden for which God made you the caretaker for just a whispering moment.  God gave you the soil.  Your job is to help that garden bear fruit by giving it good water and nutrition.  Your job is to keep out the little foxes, rodents, and insects that steal the fruit away and cut off the stems.  Your job is to prune down the weaknesses and encourage the strongest limbs to grow.  Your job is to make sure no fungus or parasite takes hold.  Your job is to pull up the weeds and fight the droughts.  Your job is to let in the sunshine.

Let’s all take a moment to ensure we are the best gardeners possible.  We are, after all, responsible for these tiny hearts.  One day we hope our kids will be mighty, courageous, and stand up for what they believe.

What’s one thing you will improve about your mothering as a result of your contemplation?

Night-time Wind-down Meditation

Many moms ask about how to get their kids to bed at night.  I’ve taught several seminars on transitioning a kid from a shared family bed to their own bed, but thought it would be helpful for you to hear about a night time wind down meditation I do with my son.

Sometimes kids don’t know how to get calm, so it helps to do calming things at night that help guide them into a calm state.  We have our own routine that consists mostly of reading for at least a half hour, a prayer, and kisses and hugs.  Depending on my son’s mood on a given evening we may decide to burn energy with high-activity fun before we read, a warm bath, or lengthening or shortening reading, but the basics stay the same.  The key is to be consistent, so your child learns there are reliable cues for bedtime.

In addition to establishing a wonderful bed time routine, here is a meditation you can do with your child.  Recite the following calmly and softly with lights out, or with a nightlight or candle if your child is afraid of the dark.  Just make sure to not leave a candle burning at night without you there!

“We had a beautiful day today. (You might mention the fun things you did together today).
Now it’s night time and we feel calm and relaxed.
Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).
Ah, that feels nice.  (Pause).

Now your head feels heavy. (Touch the top of their head).
Your forehead is relaxed. (Touch their forehead).
Your eyebrows hang loose. (Touch each eye brow).
Your eyes are closed softly. (Touch each set of eye lashes lightly).

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

Your nose is just perfect. (Touch that cute nose lightly).
Your jaw is light and loose. (Touch both their cheeks by their jaw bone).
Your tongue just barely touches the back of your teeth, and your lips are calm. (Touch their lips lightly).
You release your neck (Touch their neck).
Your shoulders relax.  (Touch both shoulders).
Your arms hang lazily.  (Run your hands lightly down both arms).
Your hands are open to good dreams.  (Run your hands down their hands and fingers lightly).

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

Your heart feels full of love because I love you so much, and so does [name family members or friends].
Your belly is calm and feels nice, and you breathe deep.

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

Your legs feel loose and free.
Your feet are just perfect.

Breathe deep, in and out one.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out two.  (Breathe and out with them).
Breathe deep, in and out three.  (Breathe and out with them).

And now it’s time to relax.  Sweet dreams. (Give a little kiss and hug, but don’t make them get up nor out of bed).” – Robyn Cooper

It may take several times for your child to settle down as you are doing this little meditation with them.  If you don’t meditate with your child now, the concept will be new for him or her.  Give it time.  Meditation is a wonderful way for you both to relax at night and get in the mood for sleep.  Of course, I recommend you do leisure reading and prayer beforehand, and use this recitation as the final step.

Let me know what you think, and if, after trying this meditation a few times, it helps with your night time routine.

Love, Robyn Cooper

To Vaccinate, or Not to Vaccinate: That is the question – Series

It’s September 14th, 2013.  I thought I’d write a series of articles on vaccinations (“vax”) for 2 reasons: to force me to do an even deeper dive into the topic myself, and to open this topic up for open and friendly discussion among our friends and to the public.  Here are the only rules I will put forth for this online discussion: (1) Be kind, (2) Only share information if you can cite your source.  

Disclaimer and digression:  I am not trying to start a wildfire debate.  I’m being investigative, not argumentative.  I’m being open-minded, not biased.  I’m not a healthcare professional.  If you believe that only healthcare professionals can correctly understand published data, and will therefore dispose of my reported findings, then you may as well stop reading this blog post.  I feel, in order to accurately and fairly assess whether I should or shouldn’t vaccinate, the data should come from published 3rd-party peer-reviewed research studies.  At the end of this investigation, don’t fret over our choice to vax or not to vax.  My husband, a physical chemist, will also scrutinize whatever I show him.  He’s been trained to do exactly that.  The point being, the choice regarding each vaccination will be thoroughly dissected from all sides.  Capisce?  By the way, I posted a date at the top of this article just to create my own timestamp for me.

What I want to explore:

  1. The current vaccine schedule vs what I received as a child of the 80’s
  2. The difference in non-vax vs vax kids pertaining to (a) the rate of contracted illness and severity of its symptoms, (b) rate of morbidity, (c) rate of contracted disease and severity of its symptoms
  3. The impact of the various vax ingredients
  4. How the immune system works and it’s efficacy when stimulated naturally vs unnaturally

Today’s Topic: 1. The current vaccine schedule vs what I received as a child of the 80’s

Now let’s break down each topic one at a time.  Firstly, what is the current vaccination schedule?  See here for The CDC’s full MMWR supplement (birth-18 years, catch-up, adult, adult medical and other indications, adult contraindications and precautions) (for healthcare professionals) [1MB, 21 pages].

I counted a minimum of 35 different doses given in the above cited 2013 CDC-recommended schedule.  How does this differ over time in America’s history?  Source for the info below (also, see this timeline from the same site).

  • In the 40’s: “A combined vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)… [plus] smallpox” (though smallpox is no longer recommended because “the risks from complication of vaccination became less acceptable to the medical establishment and to the public”)
  • In the 50’s: add polio. “The specific vaccine used has changed since then, but polio vaccine remains on the current schedule”
  • In the 70’s: add “The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine”
  • In the 80’s: add “The Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine”
  • In the 90’s: add “A vaccine for hepatitis B”
  • Since ’95, add “chickenpox (varicella) and hepatitis A”.  “The first rotavirus vaccine added to the schedule was removed because of an association between the vaccine and intussusception, a type of bowel obstruction. It was later replaced with a different rotavirus vaccine that has no association with the condition.”
  • In the 2010’s: add Meningococcal, Influenza, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal, Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

As of today, September 14, 2013, the CDC cites 28 different vaccine-preventable illnesses/ diseases.  It made me curious about how many infectious diseases exist – Some sources listed over 100 infectious diseases, and other sources cite over 200.  Here’s a list of emerging diseases from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Share your thoughts in comments below. I’ll write posts on the other 3 topics as I address them.

Love, Robyn