Monday, February 29, 2016

Baby's Best Friend

A friend of mine is a mother of 2 precious girls, and raises them along with her Labrador "Perseas". As her girls are just toddlers, she is often approached by concerned people who have questions about her decision to trust a dog around her children. As we are also planning to have children, we were intrigued by what she had to say, and know that many people wonder how dogs and newborns get along, and just how to go about blending the family. Here is one new parent's view on the subject.
I am a mum of 2 girls and a Labrador named Perseas (Ancient Greek name). Three wonderful creatures for which I feel exactly the same: I love, I adore, and I want their well-being more than anything in the world!

Some people ask me strange questions such as;
"How is it possible to have a dog with a newborn baby at home?"
"Don't you worry that dog hair will get stuck on your babies toys?"
"Aren't you worried that the dog will bite the kids?"
Although I immediately realize that people asking these kind of questions are not worth my attention, my answers back are somewhat like this: 

1. My dog is also one of my kids. I love him the same, so sometimes I am more concerned that my human toddler might bite the dog (Ha!) 

2. Since the day we brought the newborns home, our Labrador adored them! Not just that he protects them physically, being around him strengthens my kids immune systems. My kids don't easily get sick, not even at the day care where all children are frequently sick.
3. My dog helped me through my postpartum depression, and he was there for me (he's always there for me)when I needed someone to complain about the tough moments of parenting.
4. Perseas is teaching my kids to love and respect the animals, to care for them, and a sense of responsibility. My 3 year old is asking or telling me: "Mummy, can I put water out for Perseas? Can I feed him? Can I walk him? He seems he wants to run in the garden."
5. Dog hair? Well yes there is some dog hair, but it's nothing we can't deal with, and its nothing serious - basically it's nothing compared to the unconditional love, the happiness and the joy that comes from living with Perseas!  

I am writing these lines as Perseas comes to me with his toy in his mouth to ask me play with him. My advice to all is
if you want a happy home, Adopt a Dog!! You will thank me later !!  
I need to go now and play fetch!! 
Kisses ~ Elfi. K

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Taking the Reins at Age 25

In our teenage years, we're finding out what makes us tick, and thinking about what we want to be, and do, when we grow up. In our 20s, we're locked away in the library, slaving away at the university, trying to become educated and gain experience in our chosen field. Then in our 30s, we're bringing our best to the table as we strive to climb the corporate ladder and carve out our intended career paths. And when we reach our 40s, we stop to take a deep breath, relaxing just a bit, as we walk the path we’ve spent so much time and diligence constructing.  It’s generally not until our 50s that we find ourselves lying in bed, staring up at ceiling, wondering where the time went, and now that the kids are grown, what the next chapter of our lives hold in store. It’s during these times of reflection, that we try to pinpoint our true passions, and how we can turn that passion into a profit. Of course if you are one of the lucky few whose career aspirations and passion intertwined at the very beginning, then perhaps this particular quandary is a tad bit difficult for you to relate to; but for many, I think this sequence of events pretty much sums it up.  

But what about the extreme cases, the ones that don’t fit so nicely into a box. What if you knew what you wanted to do, had landed a nice, steady, and challenging job, were able to continue pursuing your passion activities during your free time, but became faced with a decision to stop it all, and begin again? Would you be brave enough? I’m sure that we all would like to think that we would, but when it actually came down to it, how many of us would truly find the courage to reinvent ourselves at the age of 50, or even before that at the budding age of 25?

Anna Skippon was this extreme case. She’d grown up in the UK, studied at the university, and had landed a secure yet challenging job working with troubled youth to find ways of redirecting their motives and energy into positive activities that would build character and independence. She had always been passionate about horses and pursued these activities in her spare time, and was happily surrounded by family and friends. But as life is anything but predictable, and situations can change in the blink of an eye, she was faced with the choice of moving to Luxembourg, and leaving it all behind.

Not sure of what employment she would pursue, but knowing what she loved and what she was good at, she put up self-made flyers advertising horse riding lessons for young children. 

Luxembourg is full of horse enthusiasts who pursue the sport, however the youngest age that the schools accept is children of 8 years old. And instead of seeing this as a deterrent, Anna saw this niche market as an opportunity for growth, and decided to launch her own business. She started out teaching riding to one child after school, and before she knew it, in just a few weeks, had to turn people away as she had reached her maximum capacity of 50 children, and a subsequent waiting list of 50 more.

The children range from 2 to 12 years, and are offered a time slot once per week while school is in session. The kids are then divided into groups of no more than 4 children, and the duration of the lessons depend on the age group of the children. For the 2 year olds, some of them are being introduced to horses for the very first time. The sessions last around 30 minutes, during which time they are encouraged to let go of their parents hand, walk with Anna towards the horse, and brush it on their own. And if they are willing, are taken for a short ride around the ring. Anna encourages the parents to have realistic expectations with these sessions, which are intended to teach the children lessons in independence, while facing and overcoming their fears.

For the older riders, the sessions generally last 1.5 hours, where each child is responsible for preparing the horse before and after they ride, and the actual riding session lasts around 50 minutes. It is imperative that each child learn how to properly care for the horse, which teaches the children a sense of responsibility and accountability, and no child can simply just show up to class and expect to start riding.

Working with children has its challenges, but as Anna has gained experience working with both young and old, she is confident in knowing what to say and how to say it. She has a patient disposition paired with the right sense of discipline, and encourages her riders through praise and recognition. The parents of her pupils are extremely pleased with her methods, which is demonstrated through their dedication to enrollment in the school. In some cases, Anna started teaching children at the age of 2, when she first began, that have continued their training for the entire two years that she has been established. Anna has no plans of slowing down, and in fact is relocating and expanding her school in September 2016. She aims to double her current capacity, continue to build up her clientele, and expand her team as she is currently operating alone.

Anna is now 27, has been in business for 2 years, and is one of those lucky people who have succeeded in combining their passion and profession. And looking back now on her decision to move, she wouldn’t have had it any other way. She is one of the select few that found the courage to reinvent herself before the cracks of the ceiling became etched in her memory. In my book she serves as a pillar of inspiration and is someone to be admired. She took the reins of her life at age 25, stepped up into the saddle, and never looked back. 
Anna Skippon is the founder of Baybees Riding School

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"If You Want My Body", by Casanova Hamster

There are two songs that I’d like you keep in mind while reading this story, and when I say 'GO' you must promise to quietly hum the song to yourself, or sing it out load if you are in a place where NO ONE will be disturbed by the fact that your singing off key, or recognize that your tone-deaf.
The first, is the 1978 classic, “If you want my body” by Rod Steward. 
'GO - BODY' (start humming)
"If you want my body, and you think  I'm sexy, come on, sugar, let me know"
And the second, is the ever popular “She’s a Maniac” by Flashdance, one of the many songs that it is nearly impossible not to dance to. 
'GO - MANIAC' (start singing)
"She's a maniac, maniac, on the floor, and she's dancing like she's never danced before"
Lastly, I must ask you readers, to remember that time when you felt Most desirable and Undeniably sexy. Think of what you were wearing, your facial expression, the scent of your cologne or perfume, and the unforgettable surprised look, on the face of your mate, when you stepped into the room.
Do you have your image?……......GREAT! Now replace that image of you as a human, with you as a hamster.
Men of the human species, are always ready to have sex, and in the hamster world, the equally comparable testosterone levels drive the males to the same brink of insanity.
And in either case, when the woman says “I’m not in the mood”, the men are not DIScouraged, but rather ENcouraged to try harder to win her affection, so that she will ultimately change her mind.
Ladies, be aware, that instead of deterring him with your words, you have single handedly given his ego the power boost it needed to act fast, and show you that your indifference is only temporary, and what you REALLY want is to be.....persuaded.
So now the man has to act quickly before the window of opportunity is SLAMMED shut, Locked, and the key, which metaphorically represents his chances, slides onto the key ring, and disappears amongst all of his other failed attempts. He must convince her thru acts that show off his masculinity, that he is IRRESISTIBLE, and that she not only Wants, but Craves his body.  And if you’re a hamster, you can’t just buy a bracelet from Tiffany, or take her for a drive in your Ferrari, but you CAN.....choose to work out.
1st, he starts with the warm up, which consists of running around 10 times in small, concentric circles. 
2nd, he advances to sprinting 20 laps around the lower floor of the cage, stopping only for a moment to take a few sips of water.
3rd, he heads to the spinning wheel, running at full speed, until the maximum rotations per minute are equivalent to that of tires on the highway.
4th, he jets up the ladder to the second floor to sprint 20 more laps around the cage.
5th, he jogs back downstairs to finish off his work out with a cool down, running at a low speed on the spinning wheel.
And all the while that he’s driven to complete this mission, and his beloved it watching him work up a sweat, he’s convinced that his plan is working, and she in fact, Now, Wants his body.
'GO - BODY' (start humming)
"If you want my body, and you think  I'm sexy, come on, sugar, let me know"
So as it’s been approximately 5 minutes since this whole ordeal began, and Monsieur Casanova Hamster has finished his..... “Massive Workout”, he struts back over to her -- exuding confidence with every stride -- and turns to her with love in his eyes that plead “Honey....Are you ready yet?” She takes one sniff at him......snarls......snaps, and like a typical male he just figures that she’s playing hard to get, and goes off to do another workout.

 'GO - MANIAC' (start singing out loud)
"She's a maniac, maniac, on the floor, and she's dancing like she's never danced before"
 is the 1st Hamster breeding, rescue, and adoption foundation in Luxembourg. The founders were originally part of an organization in Brussels, but after being relocated to Luxembourg, found that no such organization had been established, so they took the initiative to start their own in 2013.  They specialize in breeding certified pedigree Russian Hamsters, but are experienced in handing various kinds, as well as other types of rodents. At the moment they personally care for 5 hamsters, two of which are intended to breed in the coming weeks. They also assist with finding forever homes for unwanted pets by adopting them out. This April, the founders will attend the Houten NL Exoknaag conference in The Netherlands to showcase their pedigreed pets as well as search for additional reputable mating partners. For more information contact them via Facebook.