A young craftsman.

We’ve got a few books about crafts which can be done by a child. And these books are not only for boys.  I have once read an article in one quite old book about upbringing where the author advised not to separate the duties according to gender. A boy must know how to do the dishes, wash the floor, do laundry, cook and sew. And it’s ok for a girl to be familiar with simple tools such as screwdrivers or be interested in exact sciences, cars, and machinery. Following this rule one will raise a broad-minded person ready for life.

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You won’t find toy tools in our house. Everything is real. Our kids love their dad’s tool boxes with measuring tapes, hammers, a saw, and other stuff. Our children get so excited each time when asked to help mend something: hold a tool or twist a thing. That happens when something gets broken. But what if a child wants to create something with his own hands from the scratch using father’s tools?  If your child is over 9, you have to help him with it. Believe me it’ll be fun! Now it’s time to remember one of our golden rules we talked about earlier “Everything that’s worth doing is worth doing well.”

Our task is to teach our child to do things thoroughly, and well! Fix things on time, take care of yourself, your toys and clothes. Younger kids will take after their older siblings and soon will start creating themselves. Crafting involves brainstorming, logic and abstract thinking. Today we are organizing our crafting corner and soon will try to make something. Are you ready for such games?

Children’s drawings.

A few drawings of your child can tell more than even parents or a stack of tests. Sit down with your kid and offer him to draw something.  

You might be surprised to see something unusual, dynamic or even surreal. Every drawing has its own character, temper and reveals a lot about your little artist. Every next drawing will be different from the previous one – its purpose is to capture the moment when it was created, thoughts and feelings of a child at that moment.

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Rustem was 2 and a half and still not a word from him. My husband and I were wondering what he was thinking about, if he was thinking at all, if it was possible to think without speaking, if imagination could exist without speaking. He could recognize cards with animals and objects, but his drawings were all the same: just lines and random coloring. We hoped that pictures could help us communicate, but nothing worked. Rustem had all kinds of pencils and crayons, colors and paper, and yet no outcome.

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I remember his first conscious drawing: two lines, and he was moving his toy car along them. “It’s a road!” At 3 my son started drawing heads, and knew how to draw a face with eyes, nose, hair (but I still had to remind him about their existence). Then he started drawing members of his family… in his own way, of course. Tractors and big cars are his favorites – a big wheel, a small wheel,   a tractor cab. That’s it so far. Now he is 3years old and 8 months, check out his drawings:

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Sameness of his drawings shows that he is not trying to reflect, or make them true to life. I don’t teach him how to do it right. I understand that such notions like proportion and perspective will only confuse him. My only task at the moment is to motivate him to imagine and draw. What about you? How do you teach your child to understand the world around us? Feel free to share your story with us in comments below.

Chocolate cookies with cardamom

When Rustem gets bored, we head for the kitchen and search every corner hoping to find something long forgotten or hidden, and very delicious. Do you always have something like that? Today we didn’t get lucky. “Baking time! Alright!” and he runs to grab what he thinks is a cookery book, all excited to find the recipe and check if we have all the ingredients.  He can’t read by the way so a book by Garcia Marquez “with a man” on the cover has become our favorite cookery book. “Flour. Water. An egg – splash. Milk. Live long the dough!” I wasn’t in a mood to make something difficult. When we are tired we always make cookies. My girl Renata gets a pan, a lid and a ladle. I pour some toy cars into her pan, that will keep her busy for 20-30 minutes. Rustem has got his own duties: wash his hands, put on his apron, take a sieve, weigh and sieve the flour.

Don’t forget to repeat out loud the names of all ingredients with your child, what category they belong to: dairy products, bulk food (flour, sugar). Eggs are laid by hens, and you shouldn’t eat them raw. Pronounce your actions – verbs: whisk eggs, add sugar, sieve flour, knead dough, bake cookies. It helps nonspeaking kids form their passive vocabulary, and for a speaking child –boost his active one.My one-year-old Renata always watches what her older brother is doing and tries to imitate his words. Baking cookies together not only makes us a closer family but also gives us an opportunity to learn and practice necessary skills and definitions.

Ready? First write down two simple rules before getting down to work.

  1. Don’t get irritated with your child if something goes wrong. Remember that our first goal is to have a lesson, second –bake cookies together, third – have some peaceful moments with a cup of tea.
  2. Wash dishes right away, clean your table immediately, toys (if any) can be moved into the corner. These one minute actions will help you keep your temper and save your energy. When cookies are sent into the oven, all you’ll have to do is to set the table.

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You’ll need:

Flour – 125g

Butter – 135g

Sugar – 250g

Nesquick or cocoa – 40g

Baking soda or baking powder – 1/2 ts

2 Eggs 

Cardamom – 1/2 ts

Baking pan with walls no lower that 0.5 cm.


Melt the spread and add Nesquick, mix thoroughly and let it cool down. Sieve the flour; add baking soda or baking powder. In another bowl whisk eggs with sugar, add spread and cocoa mixture, then add grounded cardamom. Mix thoroughly then combine with flour and baking soda. Mix the dough till it becomes homogeneous.

Cover your baking pan with spread a little and pour out your dough, even it out. Bake at 180 C for 30 minutes.

Touch your cookie, if it keeps its form its ready. Make sure your kids are away from the oven. Repeat to your kids, “The baking pan is hot. You can’t touch it.”

Cut your cookies into squares, triangles, and diamonds. Ask your children what shapes they see. Put your cookies on a grid to cool down, it’ll dry fast. Then it’s time to crunch your chocolate cookies with cardamom. Those of you who are familiar with Indian khalva will be pleasantly surprised! Many hugs and good luck!

Cultivate the positive way of treating life.

It’s almost unreal to find a family among your friends or colleagues who hasn’t tried to become a pro in early education or understand everything possible about healthy eating for kids and adults. Sometimes I wonder what a child is thinking when he is given something he doesn’t understand the value of?

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When parents face a dilemma weather to let their kid play with his toys or spend some time together playing with a stack of educational cards, the solution might come quickly. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts parents admit with some guilty relief, “It’s not the time yet. He’s just too small.” But one year flies by after another. Suddenly, it’s time for your child to go to school, and you find out that learning something new doesn’t get him excited… at all; he keeps studying somehow. His future now depends not on his abilities but on his wish to do or not to do things.

Everything that’s worth doing is worth doing well.

Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds and even easier than trying to teach a two-year-old how to read. In fact, your child doesn’t have that many chores: wash his face, make his bed, set the table, if possible, and take his toys away. Help your kid remember this rule and set a personal example, point at a positive result (important!): everything’s clean and tidy, that makes you feel good.

This is the first step towards developing the right way of thinking, behaving, and feeling.

Cultivate the positive way of treating life. One should do not only interesting things, but all things should be done with interest.

You must have read this rule a thousand times and might be looking now for some explanations. My advice to you, “Get ready for some work.” “Sit down! It’ll be interesting!” Many parents start with this phrase when trying to make their children sit at the table covered with some educational materials. But without a proper continuation this phrase is set for failure. So let’s switch on our imagination and dedicate a couple of minutes to answering the question “Interesting? What is it?” Remember that being unable to get excited with work will result in boredom, laziness, and helplessness.  Our task as parents is to teach our children how to tune into any work properly.

Let’s have one simple experiment and then share our experience with our children. I’m sure “It doesn’t work, I can’t, I don’t like it” will be soon forgotten. Ready? Before any work or exercise rub your hands, smile, and declare your love for whatever you are about to do. Silly? Effective!

Oriental cookies

Koulourakia

These cookies include a little bit of everything: motor development, geometric objects, weights and sweet flavors. Offer your child to weigh and mix the ingredients himself. Hold a modeling competition and have a laugh looking at your crooked creations!

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You’ll need:

Butter 175grams

Sugar 300 grams

Whisked eggs 3

Milk 0,06 liter

Sieved flour 800 grams

Baking powder 2 teaspoons

Ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon

Vanilla 0,5 teaspoon

Reground beyberry1/2 teaspoon

Anise essence 1 tablespoon

Whisked yolk 1

Sesame seeds 40 grams

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Mash butter till its soft, add sugar and mix thoroughly; add eggs and milk. Mix baking powder with flour and combine with the butter mixture. Then add cinnamon, vanilla, bayberry, and anise. Knead the dough thoroughly until it’s quite firm. Try to touch the dough, if it’s not sticky it’s ready.

Roll out the dough with your hands until the shape is cylindrical 7.5 cm long and 1 cm in diameter.  Cut into circles, and form rings. Cover the rings with yolk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Put them onto a baking pan and bake at 180 C for 15 minutes until your cookies are light brown.

Enjoy!

Eva Zane “Greek cooking for the Gods”

Early morning.

Still tired after sleep, cold floor and “I’ll start tomorrow” can ruin all our good intentions on the way to positive changes. Let’s see why it’s worth being an early bird.

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You call people who get up at 5 or 6 a.m. crazy, I call them realists. Exercising, cool shower, combing your tangly hair – just thinking about all that can make you feel tired.

That’s why we decided to take it slowly and keep up with a couple of morning rituals. One of them is going to our balcony with a glass of water. No hectic yet, coolness of the air and a patch of clear blue sky – these are our rewards this morning. You think you could do that?

Let’s imagine an ideal morning of mums and dads and try to find the balance between being productive and doing nothing.

Bedroom. It’s the first thing you see having opened your eyes. In the twilight everything might seem grey and uninviting, don’t get discouraged, warm socks and a comfy hoody will help you out (leave them next to your bed, so that you could put them on immediately). Kids are still sleeping and that’s the best motivation ever to use these moments at full.

Time. As you know, we are all enthusiastic in the evening, but morning has got much more potential. Be careful, don’t write a too long to do list. Start with getting up early and treat yourself with time and freedom from care.

Freshness.  It’s the last thing that comes to mind when describing a young breastfeeding or just feeding mother after a sleepless night. Just remember, nobody sees you. Put aside the hair from your forehead, splash some warm water onto your face and allow your eyes stay tired for a while.

Eating and thinking. Have you ever noticed that food in the morning is always tastier especially when you don’t have to shovel it into your mouth with a speed of light because your kids are crying like insane demanding to set them free from their chairs. So please take your time for breakfast. You can cook your own coffee in a Turkish coffee pot (that smell can make my day), or warm up your hands over a boiling tea pot. Think of what else you would like this morning and write it down so you don’t forget.

So when are you going to start?

Photo by Inaki Soria

MOTHER: FINDING TIME FOR YOURSELF. IS IT POSSIBLE?

Of where and how to find extra energy. And is it ok to spend your free moments on a couch?

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Here I am – a perpetual collector. I’m constantly looking for things which are supposed to make my life easier: tons of information, effective methods of some kind, games, quick recipes, and magic tricks how to make my house look spick and span in seconds. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about myself as well : 10 gigabytes of yoga and fitness on my PC, a couple of books how to stay pretty and a stack of glossy magazines about lives I even have no time to dream of . All of that waiting for me to make the next move. All of that yelling at me, “Come on! Move your… already!”

“I HAVE NO TIME!” I finally give up when asked about my grey complexion or a mess of hair on my head which started as a ponytail in the morning. “I HAVE NO ENERGY…” I add up secretly waiting for some support. And yet this treacherous  inner voice starts bugging me, “But wait a minute! What about those supermums, and those superdads, and their superkids who must have taken up a hundred of courses of early development?” And I find myself hating these superfamilies and try my best to find excuses for myself…

When I feel drained I just pour a cup of tea or coffee and turn the TV on. I’ve got from 2 to 5 minutes until my kids start fighting over some toy. I call “rest” all that time when I’m alone not called, not hanged on, and not asked for something. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Hyperactive children who accept no boundaries are a reality “experienced mums” advise to put up with. So what’s wrong with me? How can I give my kids everything they need and at the same time be strong and fun in their eyes? I realize that sport is better than lying on a couch, a glass of water is better than tea, your kids must be the source of your energy and happiness, the source of your confidence.

The answer seems obvious start with yourself and then get down to upbringing of your children. So we’ve decided to try a so-called “magic morning” method. Something’s telling me it’ll be a win-lose game. But who said it’s not supposed to be that way? Wish us luck!