Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I know, I know...

....I'm practically old enough to be his mother (well, a really, really young mother), but honestly, how could you not have a monstrous crush on this beautiful man...

I am suffering a little with vampire withdrawals at the moment. Quite pathetic coming from a mother of three, but I know I'm not alone. Right, girls??

We are only a few months away from the release of Eclipse - I am SO Team Edward! - and at around the same time, we'll have the release of the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, and series 3 of True Blood!

Eric Northman.... mmmm, I could just spread him on a cracker....


I picked a card from my tarot deck this morning. I don't know how to read tarot cards, but have gotten in the habit of shuffling and pulling a card every now and then. I figure that if there is a message in there for me, it will show itself when the need arises.

This morning's card was strength.

I don't know what the official tarot explanation for this card is, but to me, it is all about discipline, and strength of mind. The card shows a woman looking calmly, but strongly, into the open jaws of a lion. In my own interpretation, the woman is the flesh me, and the lion is my emotions, my ego and my conscious thoughts.

The card is telling me to forget the torments of the mind, and it's external influences, and to take control through the heart. It is telling me that it's time to meditate, and with strength of will, to let go of the old and welcome in the new.

I'm ready.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Simone's Magic Muffins

This recipe was passed on to me by my friend. Thank you, Simone!

What wonderful, tasty little morsels they are too! My boys love them, and think they taste like gingerbread. Simone gave me the recipe to try as they helped one of her boys with his 'number two' problems and thought that they might help my daughter, who at the time had held on for five days (she has since gone - thank goodness!). Unfortunately Miss Fusspot doesn't like them, but I'm hoping, like other foods, that a continual offering of them might change her mind. This little girl won't eat fresh fruit or vegies unless they are hidden, so any kind of fibre I can get into her is of the utmost importance!

They are so good and so healthy and I wanted to share the recipe with you all here. They are the perfect lunch box addition. I have just baked another batch (with an added handful of frozen raspberries) to take with me to my gathering on the mountain tomorrow.

Enjoy, and remember to let me know what you think of them when you make them!

Simone's Magic Muffins

1 cup All Bran cereal (I used the Coles brand, as it is cheaper and just the same)
3/4 cup milk
25g butter
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pear, grated (I used an apple for my second batch)
generous handful of L.S.A. mix (linseed, sunflower seeds and almond meal - this stuff is magic and very yummy)

Combine cereal and milk and stand 10 minutes.

Rub butter into combined flour, sugar and spice.

Add eggs, pear, bran mixture and L.S.A. mix, and stir until just combined. Mixture will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon mixture into muffin tins. Bake at 200〫C for 20 minutes or until cooked when tested with skewer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ode to my slow cooker

How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways
I love thee to ends of the earth
My sweet slow cooking friend
You fill my world with delicious fragrance
Mouth-watering, tantalizing scents
My life is oh, so simpler now
Let all thanks be to you
No frying, no browning
No time consuming baking
Blending and thickening are gone
My time is mine all over again
And cooking is no longer a chore
I will lament over the evening feast
Not a single minute more
Your always nutritious bounty
Never fails to please
I love you like a well cooked casserole
A curry cooked all day
And I love you for the food you bring us
Each and every day

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Virtue 2 - Caring

"Pay homage to God... and be good to your parents and relatives, the orphans and the needy and the neighbours who are your relatives, and the neighbours who are strangers, and the friend by your side" - Al-Qur'an, 4:36

What lessons we have learned this week!

This virtue is a great one for children, in so many ways. It has helped us with sibling bickering and teasing. It has helped us with our chores. It has helped us to remember our manners, and it has helped us to look after our belongings. So much, and from only one little word!

We began by talking about what caring is. We decided together that caring is about looking after ourselves, other people and our possessions. That caring is a sign of respect and love, and that we care for our belongings and other people to let them know that they are valued.

The lessons learned so far -

1. Treating our siblings with care, and speaking nicely to each other, means that there are no fights. It also means that we learn to share our toys more! This lesson is ongoing.... ;)

2. Caring for our home means that we all need to do our chores to keep it clean and tidy. Taking the rubbish out, scraping down the dinner plates, wiping the bathroom bench, keeping our rooms tidy, throwing rubbish in the bin (and not on the floor!!) are all ways that we can care for our home. This lesson has worked in well this week, as we have started our pocket money scheme! So far, so good!

3. Using our manners shows that we care how we speak to each other. It is respectful, and is always the best way to make a point, or to ask for something you need.

4. Since school started we have been on a spate of lost hats and drink bottles. All have been found, thankfully, but this morning we have misplaced our school hats again! A perfect time for me to remind them about caring for our possessions. Particularly as losing them again means that they will go without, and therefore have no outside play time at school! We also learned that it is important to place items that we care for in secure positions in our bedroom, out of the reach of baby sisters! Lesson well learned...

5. Lastly, we spoke briefly about caring for ourselves through the food we eat. Everyday food... sometimes food... special treat food - and why our body needs everyday food to be the most important. I re-iterated the need to care for our bodies this morning, when I applied sunscreen to the boys before school.

This virtue has been relatively easy to pass on, as it is something that I have tried to instil in them from a very early age. Having the word written on red cardboard on the fridge has been a great help in getting them to return to the virtue when the need has arisen. For the most part, I think they've gotten the hang of this one!

Next week - Virtue 3 Cleanliness

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I've had enough...

... of this stinking, hot summer! I can't take another day of these sweltering temperatures and this ridiculously high humidity. It's just too much. It's making me grumpy, short tempered and lazy, and I'm not enjoying it one bit! The kids are tired and cranky, I don't feel like cooking anything, and the thought of doing any outdoor activity sends me running for cover!

Don't get me wrong, I do love the warm weather, and by the end of winter I am usually longing for balmy days and stormy nights. This summer though, is just unbearable. Seriously, who can honestly say summer is their favourite season?? It is currently 39 degrees (celsius) under my back pergola and I'm pretty sure it didn't get below 25 degrees last night. Who can sleep comfortably in that? Not me, and not my kids. Waking up sweating at 4am is a joke!

I'm ok if I don't have to leave the house, and I'm happy to potter around inside doing what needs to be done in the 24 degree sanctuary of my air conditioned home. That said though, I'm certainly not looking forward to my next power bill, and I get the eco-guilts every time I switch the damn thing on!

So join me in saying goodbye to summer. We've all had enough, and it's time for Autumn to poke it's head out and relieve us of our misery. I'm ready for cooler mornings, beautiful days and comfortable nights.

Come on Earth, get that rotation into gear and get us out of here!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My latest creation

I had some odds and sods of fleece left over in a my craft box, and the other day I developed a bit of an urge to do some felting. So with what I had left, I managed to create a little story mat for my daughter.

A typical little girl, she loves fairies, so this mat is designed for fairy play. It has a golden path that leads from the flowery forest to a river dotted with stepping stones. The golden path then leads from the river to the silvery, purple fairy pond surrounded by pixie toadstools and more pretty flowers. Perfect for open ended play!

I'm really happy with the way it turned out, particularly as it was made using leftovers! I really need to get some more fleece now. I have two little boys who are brimming with ideas for story mats of their own!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Letting go

There comes a time when the energy we expend on someone, expires. Gone. Nothing left. The energy well has been entirely zapped. When this happens, we have two choices - to keep fighting a losing battle and hope that our energy will be somehow replenished, or to let go.

Today I chose to let go. My energy well was emptied by this exploit sometime ago, but going against my gut instinct, I kept fighting and continued to try to help. I like to give the benefit of the doubt, to try to see the good side and to keep my proverbial cup 'half full'. I prefer to live my life knowing that I have given something my all, and that I have done my best. I'm pretty sure in this instance, I did just that.

I learnt today that no matter how hard you try to fix someone who is lost, or how hard you try to reach out to someone who is silently pleading for help, you will never be successful, unless that person really knows which part of them is broken. Today I became the punching bag for the insecurities, depression, and sadness suffered by one individual, as the hurt and rage kept so tightly wound inside them, erupted in a tirade of abuse. The part that saddens me the most though is not the harsh words and battle of emotions that I suffered, but the sad realisation that this person may never be happy. With anything. Or anyone. This is tragic.

I have come out of this relatively unscathed, and I feel better that my choice to let go was somehow almost made for me. The divine works in many, many ways.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Virtue 1 - Assertiveness

So we've been working with this virtue since Monday. It's not an easy one for kids to grasp, but I think the boys have a basic understanding of it's meaning.

Being assertive means to be positive, to be confident and to know that you are worthy of respect. It's about asking for what you need or want, and it is about expressing your opinions, ideas and thoughts with strength and surety.

We talked about why assertiveness is important and we discussed examples of when they might need to call on this virtue. The Family Virtues Guide says it nicely, "When you are assertive, others respect you. You are offering your true ideas and feelings as well as protecting yourself from things that can cause you harm.... Just as each instrument in an orchestra is needed to make beautiful music, your part is needed in the song of life."

As children, the need to be assertive comes at a fairly superficial level, as opposed to the complexities of life as an adult. The boys and I talked in detail about how assertiveness could help them at school, and they came up with the following -

- They could be assertive if they were being bullied. Instead of fighting back, they could tell the bully that they didn't like the way they were being treated, and that it should stop.

- If their teacher asks a question, putting their hand up without feeling shy, would be an assertive way to give their answer. On this topic, we also talked about the importance of patience, and not yelling out the answer without being first asked.

- We also talked about peer pressure, and the need to be assertive if a friend tries to talk them into doing something they feel is wrong.

This is a virtue that usually gets lost somewhere in between passivity and aggression, and not too many adults do it well. It's an odd virtue to teach children, but definitely one that is important, and one that will grow with the child each day. The day after we talked about it, my youngest son came home quite disappointed. When I asked him why he was feeling sad, he told me it was because he hadn't had a chance to be assertive as no one had bullied him! It took me a while to make him understand that this was a good thing! So, this virtue will be one that we will continue to talk about in general chatter for a little while yet.

Next week: Virtue 2 - Caring

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy birthday, big boy!

At 12.15pm, seven years ago, I was in hospital. I'd just had my waters broken and had been labouring slowly for about 6 hours. I was convinced my baby would be born very soon! I was wrong. Very wrong. After several unsuccessful attempts at an epidural (which left me numb on only one side of my body, therefore bed bound), and another 9 hours of labour I was still only 5cm dilated. Devastated and exhausted, we decided that a caesarean was the best option. This was bitter sweet news. My dreams of a completely natural, drug free birth were shattered. I was too tired to argue, and so after another 2 hours of waiting, we were wheeled in. Finally at 11.42pm, my baby boy finally arrived earthside. He was happy, healthy and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He was born with his eyes wide open, taking in everything his new world had to offer. He was so alert.

And he still is. He is one of the greatest people I know, and is destined for huge things. A typical Aquarian, he is eccentric and a bit of an odd bod, compared to other kids his age. But that's one of the things I love about him the most - his uniqueness is overwhelming sometimes. He is compassionate and caring, and his thirst for knowledge is almost insatiable - always questioning everything and everyone. His need to 'know' keeps him awake some nights as his little brain ticks over and over. Sometimes I get a glimpse of the normal seven year old when he picks on his siblings, or won't help with the chores, but this isn't too often. Mostly he is great fun to be around, and an awesome kid to know. Conversation is certainly never dull!

I am so proud to be his Mum, and I love him more than words can describe. I can't wait to see what life has in store for him.

Happy birthday, darling one!

There's a star shining bright
and an angel with its light
just for you
just for you
on this day of your birth
on this day you came to earth
a special day too,
for all who know you.

For you're special like laughter
Like a star in the sky
Like a seed of light
Like the sparkle in your eye
Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!

To you ....

- Atillio Dona

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Family Virtues Guide - Linda Kavelin Popov

"Virtue is the muscle tone that develops from daily and hourly training of a spiritual warrior." - Tolbert McCarroll

I've had this book for a few years now and I often look at it on the bookshelf and think that I really should pick it up again. Last week I did just that, and decided it was time to make proper use of it.

The Family Virtues Guide was written by Linda Kavelin Popov, the founder of the Virtues Project, whose aim is to empower adults and children to live by their highest values. There have been many books written to help parents understand the best ways to develop their children's physical bodies, emotions and psychological health, but this is the first I have found that endeavours to help parents develop the spiritual needs of their children. It has been used in schools, prisons, corporations, child-care centres, indigenous communities and diverse faith communities in many countries across the globe. It was also honoured by the United Nations Secretariat during the International Year of the Family.

So what is a virtue? The book itself gives the best explanation -

" The Family Virtues Guide is not about family values. Values are culture specific. it is about virtues, which are universally valued by all faiths and cultures in the world. Virtues are the silver thread running through all of humanity's sacred literature as well as the oral traditions of the world's indigenous peoples. Virtues are described as the qualities of the soul and the attributes of God."

Some examples of virtues are - caring, courage, determination, faithfulness, generosity, humility, justice, love, patience, reliability, self-discipline and trust.

The book is based on four key principles:

1. The parent is the primary educator of the child.
2. Children are born in potential: their natural qualities can develop into positive or negative traits depending on how they are educated in the early years.
3. Character develops as children learn to make responsible, moral choices.
4. Self-esteem is a natural outcome of living by spiritual principles.

The first few chapters of the book give us the theory behind the importance of virtues, and how to use the book effectively. It also explains the spiritual nature of children, and gives us in depth guidelines on applications of the principles and practices. The last chapters are about the virtues themselves - one chapter per virtue, with practical exercises and advice.

The first virtue we will experience is assertiveness. I won't be following the book in its entirety, but will use it as a reference to my own teaching. I have some coloured cardboard and will write the 'virtue of the week' on a piece of this and stick it on the fridge. I plan on using dinner time to discuss the meaning the virtue, and to talk to the children about how they can use it in their day to day life. I want it to be fun as well as enlightening for them, and I'm hoping to be able use their own behaviour as examples of the virtues at work. Now is a great time to start, particularly as both the boys are now at school, and at the perfect age to understand. My daughter will learn from watching her brothers at home - they're never too young to begin!

I will be blogging each week about the virtues, so stay tuned!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


My name is Rebecca and I am not a perfect mother.

There, I've said it. I'm sorry if I've burst any bubbles you may have had me floating in, ladies, but it's time to set the records straight.

My kids are sometimes naughty, and I usually yell at them to behave. Sometimes they're cheeky, and when they are I send them to their rooms to think about their words. When they fight with each other, I want to walk out the front door and keep going. Sometimes the meals I make are pushed around on the plate rather than eaten. This disappoints, frustrates and annoys me, and I wonder why I bother to create a healthy meal at all. Some days I feel as though I am a robot, programmed to pick up, wipe up, mop up, tidy up, sweep up, clean up, wash up...... And that's just all the stuff on the surface.

What about all those internal battles? Have I done the right thing? Should I have reacted differently to that? Am I giving them enough/too much/not enough attention? Am I providing them with all that they need to grow physically / emotionally / spiritually? Am I setting a good example? Then there's the comparisons I mentally make of my parenting skills and those of my friends and acquaintances. Why does her child eat so well, and mine doesn't? Why does her child go to bed so easily and mine doesn't? Why is her child smarter than mine? Should I have my child in extra-curricular activities too? Constant questioning....

So I'm not perfect, and I never will be. I'm a good mother, and I strive to be a better mother each and every day. With each day comes a new experience and a new lesson that ultimately becomes part of this wondrous journey of parenting. Some days I wonder if I'll ever see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I struggle to keep my mind on the big picture. It's not an easy task.

But the light is there. I see it every night in their beautiful eyes when I lay them down to sleep. I hear it in their sweet voices as they tell me they love me. And I feel it in my heart as I wish them the sweetest of dreams.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I'm grateful for the cool change in the weather.

I'm grateful for food in my cupboard, the clothes upon my back, and the roof over my head.

I'm grateful for three healthy and vibrant children.

I'm grateful for a husband who is not only my soul mate, but my best friend and confidante.

I'm grateful for intelligent conversation, and inspiring friends.

I'm grateful for all the opportunities I've had along the way, and I'm grateful for the ones I've missed.

I'm grateful for the gift of words, and the ability to share them.

I'm grateful for an eccentric, funny, unique family and wonderful, caring parents.

I'm grateful that I have the ability to choose my faith without fear of persecution.

I'm grateful for today.