Sunday, August 02, 2015

winter remedies

By the time you are reading this we should be on the road to Alice Springs.

Our trip was delayed, we became stranded by man-flu and mini man-flu.

First Sol came down with croup, followed up with ear pain. Then River with a chesty cold.
Then Pete. He was in bed for 4 days, painful chest cough, fevers, aches, headache, the works.

Our bags sat packed. We were just waiting for wellness. No fun traveling with sickies.

Everyone is back on track and we will head off tomorrow before the sun comes up.

Most of you have probably experienced that phenomenon where somehow the whole household gets sick but mum stays well because, really who else is going to keep the show on the road?

Given the week I've had caring for sickies I thought I'd share some remedies I buy to help everyone through the cough and cold season. Sometimes chicken soup and lemon tea just isn't enough.

I like Blackmore's kids multi vitamins

The Brauer homeopathic range is excellent - I like the chesty cough remedy (the teething remedy is good too, though we're past that stage here!)

Thompson's Garlic Perles for adults

Bosisto's eucalyptus and lavender sprays have been getting a good run here too

For myself, as soon as I feel a tickle in the back of my throat I gargle salt water. Put a teaspoon of sea salt into a cup of boiling water and once it cools gargle. Do this a few times a day and I find that staves off a sore throat.

If you are suffering with sinus, salt water up the nose works wonders. Not very glamorous I know, but hey it's better than sinus congestion.

I'm no naturopath or doctor so please do seek advice before delving into taking supplements or giving them to your children. Oh and when you're buying vitamin C or children's supplements make sure to read the fine print to avoid artificial sweeteners, colours and flavours. (Just thought I'd mention that this is not a sponsored post in case you were wondering).

In the last week I've driven Sol to the emergency department of our local regional hospital that I am so thankful remains open. First with croup at 3am and then five days later with serious ear pain at 6am. As I drove the fifteen minutes in the dark on the quiet street I was grateful I didn't have to drive 50 minutes to the major hospital or further. I thought about people who live in remote places and how scary it must be when medical help is needed fast, especially with respiratory things like croup and asthma.

And as I surrendered to the relentlessness of caring for my unwell family I have felt incredibly grateful that their sicknesses are not chronic or life threatening. There are mothers and others for who caring is a 24/7 reality with no wellness in sight, at best they get respite. There are mothers who have never known their children to be well and vice versa. It is unimaginable and heart breaking. I am counting my blessings.

I hope you are all managing to stay well this winter. I'll be in touch from the road.


Friday, July 31, 2015

weekend reading

Jodi's post about her feelings on her post baby body struck a chord with many readers

Two of my favorites in the one place

I love a good chia breakfast bowl

Chocoholics this one's for you

Jay popped back in to blogland, I've missed her!

Seeings our trip to Alice Springs has been delayed I've been reading up about local art online

We'll definitely be shopping here in Alice

And now to find a yoga class in Alice. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Have a great weekend xo


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

homeschooling



Week one of home school is in.

A game of scrabble may not be what you'd expect as part of the curriculum but it covers spelling, vocab and maths so that's a win!

River and Sol's teachers are very supportive of our trip to Alice Springs and provided me with detailed home learning programs for the boys.

Home schooling is not something I could do for the whole year, for a few reasons, but I'm more than happy to for the next 8 weeks. Reason one is River loves school. He loves being part of the school community, he loves his friends and his teacher. It took Sol a while to settle into prep but he has really found his happy place with going to school and it seems a shame to take him out for this time but there is an adventure to be had bigger than the school grounds and he will love that too.

When it comes to taking children out of school for an extended period lots of people say things like, "oh its only prep". I don't see it that way. I see prep as the foundation that sets them up for their schooling. They learn all the important elements to build on in later years, so I am focused on giving Sol the same opportunity as his school buddies by being diligent and consistent with what I teach him. Another reason I don't think I could home school year round is that both my boys enjoy having someone other than their mum teaching them!

"Mum, what shall we call you?" they asked on Monday morning when I announced it was time for home school. "Mrs Fisher?" they suggested. Cute. "We have assembly on monday mornings remember," they told me. I suggested we wait a week for assembly as there wasn't much to report yet! "You have to call the roll," was the next instruction.

It seems that 'playing' schools is by far the most effective way of engaging them. We are covering the foundations: reading, writing, spelling, grammar and maths but we get to do it in creative ways and cover topics that the boys are interested in. Sol wants to learn about the moon and find out if snakes have ears. River's favorite subject is writing so we are going to do lots of different styles of writing. Today he wrote a letter to his best friend. Yesterday he wrote a fiction story titled 'The Cheeky Mouse', we will look at poetry, non-fiction writing, persuasive writing and so on. I will get him to interview someone he meets on the trip. And both boys will keep weekly journals of our trip.

For this week as the three males in my house recover from their coughs, headaches, earaches, fevers and chills it really is home school because we are at home. Once we hit the road, it becomes road school.

Do you home school? Would you like to? What stops you? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

a mushroom recipe & going with the flow

We were meant to leave for Alice Springs on Friday. And then it changed to Saturday and now we just don't know exactly what day we will leave.

A chesty cough coupled with fever and headaches for River and Pete, and croup and ear pain for Sol (and a whole lot of loving kindness going out from me!) mean that our trip is delayed. And that's just how it goes.

Today my sister-in-law Davini was to join us for lunch (that's us in the pic, celebrating last year with a ladies lunch before Davini and her now husband Scott's wedding).  Davini coming for a visit is a big thing because we only see each other a few times a year, partly because of the distance between our two houses and the fullness of our lives, particularly Davini who has a blended family of six teenagers. So even with sick relatives she didn't mind, she wanted to see us before we head off. With her big family Davini is no stranger to what it takes to nurse your family back to wellness, so it was nice for me to have the moral support!

You can thank Davini for today's recipe, there's a few things she can't eat and she's a great cook and food lover, so during the week I pondered what to prepare for our Sunday lunch and came up with baked mushrooms with pesto and goat's cheese, and a roasted vegetable salad. Only problem was our Sunday lunch plans changed as we both had to go with the flow of family life.

Davini's morning began with chasing her twins school camp bus 100km up the highway because after waving the twins goodbye at the bus she went home to find that her daughter, our darling niece, had left her bag of clothes and other essentials at home. "I'll be later than 12pm, enjoy lunch without me" came Davini's text.

Meanwhile at our place Sol woke at 5.30am with ear pain. Off to the local emergency he and I went. An ear infection brewing was the last thing we needed. The doctor checked him over and as Sol didn't have a temperature and there was no redness in his ears we went home with pain relief.

The ear pin subsided and then returned with a vengeance by the early afternoon when Davini arrived. Between packing, loading the trailer, shopping for River's birthday present I'd managed to roast the vegetables for the salad and that was about it. All Sol wanted to do was lay with head on my lap so I could rub his ear. Fortunately Davini had a late breakfast and wasn't hungry but was keen to run some errands for me to help out. Thankyou Davini!

After some more pain medicine Sol fell asleep for the afternoon. Davini returned from running my errands and had bought some ear candles for Sol. After a bit more of a chat we said our goodbyes and Davini headed home. After she left and while Sol slept I finally got to make the pesto and bake the mushrooms!

Here's the recipe for you. They are extremely delicious. I will have to cook them for you Davini when we get back in the spring time. Thanks for the back up today xx

Baked mushrooms with dairy free pesto and goat's cheese

(not sponsored I just like this goat's fetta and the people who make it)

For the dairy free pesto

1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon savoury yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (plus a splash more depending on the texture you like your pesto)

Place all ingredients in high powered blender or food processor and blend until it is a texture you like, chunky, smooth or somewhere in between.

For the mushrooms

4 large field mushrooms
4 tablespoons of goats cheese (fetta or not is fine)

Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Place a splash of olive oil in a baking tray and cover the tray with it.
Cut stalks from mushrooms and finely chop.
Mix the stalks with the pesto.
Place mushrooms on the tray with inside of mushroom facing up.
Spoon pesto mixture into each mushroom and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and crumble fetta on top and sprinkle with extra pine nuts, return to oven for a few minutes until cheese is melted and nuts are toasted. Be careful not to burn the nuts!

Enjoy with salad and your favorite sister-in-law if you're lucky to have one like mine :)

What's happening at your place? Is everyone well? How do you deal with ear troubles in children?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

weekend reading


Last weekend we had an early birthday celebration for River. I gave these Orgran gluten free pizza bases a go (not sponsored), that was my idea of taking a short cut. The pizzas were a hit. Not something I'd make a habit of, I'm sure there are plenty of easy gluten free pizza base recipes that use fewer ingredients I will have to research some.

The rest of the week I spent looking after sick kids! Sol has had croup and now River has some sort of chesty cold complete with fever and headache. No fun for them or me. And tricky timing as we prepare for our road trip to Alice Springs.

We're going to be home schooling, or road schooling as I like to call it, I've been reading Guerilla Learning How to Give Your Kids a Real Education with or without School

During the week I went out for dinner with a couple of school mum friends, such a luxury to have a few hours of uninterrupted conversation, oh and good food and wine at Cakes and Ale.

From Sprouted Kitchen: Roasted banana coconut ice cream. Wow!

Have you met Blender Girl? Lots of yummy, vegie filled recipes.

Don't we wish it were summer

Interesting relationship reading

Try out slow parenting

Ok. I better get back to the packing. Not much more to do but it will be midnight before I know it!

I hope you're having a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

steve biddulph: raising boys

A couple of months ago Pete and I headed out one evening to hear renowned author, psychologist and speaker Steve Biddulph share his insights into raising boys.

Like every other parent in the room I was hoping that Steve's words would allay my fears of the teenage years and reassure me that if I do x,y and z everything will be alright.

But no. That's not how it works with human beings. Each one of us unique, with a different 'soul map' to reveal and live from.

Steve offered us some universal truths, the main one being spend more time not money with your children but then there are those curve balls and variables that as parents can leave us feeling unprepared and out of our depth. What to do about those?

From his first sentence Steve had the audience engaged, leaning forward in their seats, laughing at his anecdotes and reflecting on their own childhoods and relationships with their fathers. He also let us know from the word go that while people refer to him as a 'parenting expert', he isn't. Steve doesn't want to be put on a pedestal and be expected to have all the answers.

He opened the presentation with the very grisly news that one of the biggest challenges parents of boys face, is keeping their sons alive. This struck a deep chord in me having lost my nineteen year old brother to an alcohol related car accident. In his book Raising Boys Steve writes,

"By fifteen years of age boys are three times more likely than girls to die from all causes combined - but especially from accidents, violence and suicide."

Steve's talk could only get cheerier from here right?

Yes. And no.

On the upside, in the three decades that Steve has been public speaking the number of Dads coming to the talks has increased markedly. (Sorry don't have exact figures for you, but about 40 percent of the audience at the talk we went to were Dads). This can be read two ways, one that Dads are more involved in raising their sons and/or mothers are more vocal about getting their partners to step up.

Loving, present Dads who are interested in finding out who their sons are - as opposed to just trying to turn their sons into younger versions of themselves - and who are clear about setting boundaries and consequences when sons cross those boundaries, these Dads are what every son needs and deserves. But we all know that, sadly more often than not it doesn't work out that way.

When this is the case, that Dads aren't around, Steve spoke about the importance for mothers to seek out great male role models for their sons in uncles, grand-fathers and friends. He also encouraged Dads in the audience to include their sons friends who don't have their Dad in their life when they are going out with their sons.

In a letter to Steve included in his book, a mother writes sums it up,

"Put good men in the path of your son"

I think this can be done even in the stories of men's lives throughout history that you can share with your sons, be they great artists, musicians, activists. Parenting requires us to be creative in our approach. 

Reflecting on Steve's talk as I write this, what I came away with was confirmation that Pete and I are doing all the things we believe will hold our sons in good stead in their life, many of which Steve covered in his talk and covers in more detail in his book. 

Things such as getting our boys to contribute consistently around the house from a young age. No point in waiting until they're fifteen to start helping out, by then you've become their slave! Also, demonstrating to them the values we believe in, being compassionate, respect for self and others and the world we live in, the importance of family and friends, valuing health and well being through the food we eat, through yoga and meditation. Words spoken are not always heard, but actions and experiences are remembered and felt deeply.

One of the hardest parts of parenting for me is the consistency, especially when I'm tired. It is easier to just do the task myself or 'give in', but I know in the long run that doesn't do my boys any favours.

I remember speaking to a husband and wife who raised two sons, the sons now in their mid-twenties living great lives, I confessed my fears about the teenage years and asked for their top tips for raising happy healthy sons. The Dad talked about finding a shared interest, for him and his sons it was playing guitar. And the mum reassured me by saying "that each stage prepares you for the next".

I recommend Steve's book, and to see him speak if you have the opportunity.

I know all the answers aren't found in a book or in another person, they are in ourselves. We can ask for help, look for new ideas but we must trust our instincts as parents, know what's right for our own children by getting to know them and resist getting swept up in the tide of video games, ipads, mobile phones, processed food, alcohol and AFL. It is ok to say no.

Oh, and most importantly remember to make time to have fun and enjoy your children. The washing can wait. x


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

mister jones, bermagui




We stumbled upon mister jones at 7.3oam one morning a year ago.

Pete, River, Sol and I crept out of our sleeping friend's house to explore the local beaches and Bermagui township.

For those who haven't been to Bermagui, the postcard perfect coastline gives you much to be enchanted by. Throughout the seasons sun sparkles on the sapphire coloured water, Mount Dromedary stands strong across the bay and towering pine trees line the foreshore.

The town itself is changing. Until recently the fifteen or so shops have been about satisfying basic needs - butcher, baker, pub, post office, bait shop and so on - mister jones brings not only coffee worth driving a long way for but a welcome dose of character and originality.

Owner Matt Chun is a talented painter and illustrator who, as a traveller, wandered into town almost six years ago and noticed a for rent sign on a little shop window. A perfect place to paint.

Matt is also a coffee nut. "I always knew good coffee would need to happen to keep me in the town, so setting up to make coffee here was more to feed my own addiction. I thought I might make a couple of coffees a day for people coming to look at the art. And then the coffee took off," he says.

On the morning we visited we sat on cushion covered milk crates in front of the open shop windows and while waiting for our coffee, chai and hot chocolates we got chatting with locals. This is standard issue at mister jones. It is a meeting place.

"It's been a process getting people to step over their discomfort about coming into a place they're not used to. We don't do strawberry milkshakes and toasted sandwiches. The hippies were the first to embrace what I was doing here and then a tradie came in and realised the coffee was good, so then the tradies started coming in, and now it’s a diverse crowd," says Matt.

There's a buzz here that many city cafes would pay to have. I think part of what makes it work is Matt's clarity about what he will and won't do. Despite the small population and impact of the changing seasons on the economy here, Matt doesn't try to be all things to all people. 

Coffee is the focus there's no grey area about that. Every coffee is a work of art, from the sourcing of the ethical, organic beans, directly-traded with small roasters to the local jersey milk and the collection of vintage French glass, and handmade ceramic crockery - no detail is overlooked.

A brief breakfast menu offers exceptional local sourdough bread toasted and served with butter and jam, granola with yoghurt and stewed fruit, organic porridge with poached pear and honey or a green smoothie of almond, banana and wild greens. 

mister jones opens at 7am and closes at noon. Originally the noon closing time was so Matt could paint in the afternoon. The business has grown to the point where Matt hired fellow coffee afficionado Mikey which means Matt is no longer chained to the coffee machine.

I took these photos and interviewed Matt last year when we were there. I know, it has taken me a long time to share them! Last month when we visited again we saw that mister jones has spilled over to the shop next door. It seems the love for what's on offer here continues to grow...

mister jones espresso bar + open studio + drawing workshop + performance space
4 bunga street bermagui

Have you been to mister jones? Tell us your favorite country/coastal town cafe worth driving a long way for.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

mad women in the attic

You can't make old friends. It takes years to become one.

On Saturday night I celebrated the fortieth birthday of my dear long time friend Clare (for some reason I look like I have combat make up on in the photo. I don't).

Clare's birthday dinner got me thinking about long time friends. As the saying goes, new friends are silver and old friends are gold. Nothing can replace the ease and the shared history that you have with a friend who has known you for a long time.

Clare and I met in the Women's Room at Melbourne University when we were 19. We both majored in Women's Studies and were, like most leftie arts students, firmly convinced we could change the world by the end of our degree.

Clare took me on my first Reclaim the Night march through the streets of Melbourne. Over the years we met up in cafes in Carlton and various share house parties to talk politics, relationships, family dramas, feminism and everything in between.

In our mid twenties Clare and a few other friends started a group called 'Mad Women in the Attic', once a month we would get together and talk more of the same politics, feminism, relationships, we'd drink, eat and try our hand at something creative, sketching, painting, knitting and the like. We were ahead of the craft is cool revolution happening now!

Clare always had and continues to have an incredible magnetism and ability to gather people from all walks of life around her and rally them together to achieve greater good.

Her heart and head are currently immersed in her work with asylum seekers, some of who are now her friends and were at her birthday dinner. Their story of seeking asylum and the daily pain of being separated from their young children who are still back in their country of origin is unimaginable. Beautiful, humble people who it was a pleasure to meet and for who I pray are reunited with their children. They are blessed to have Clare and her team in their corner.

I'm immensely proud of Clare for the way she lives so solidly by her values and lives life so wholeheartedly. And while we only see each other once or twice a year now instead of every second day our friendship stays strong.

I'm blessed with a good collection of long time friends like Clare. Sure the seasons of life can change the look and feel of friendships, some are cut unexpectedly short, some turn out not quite what you thought they would be, there are the stayers, you can count on them no matter how high the tide rises or falls. And then there are those rare and special friendships you make where it feels like an old friendship from the start.

Happy birthday Clare x

How about you? Tell me a favorite friendship moment in the comments, or a lowlight!

Friday, July 17, 2015

weekend reading

Well, we made it. Week one, term 3 done.

Can you believe it is snowing in Queensland?

So sad to read about the tragic passing of Nick Cave's son.

Wishing I had bought Mamacino's birthday party ebook before I made so many chocolatey things for River's early birthday celebration tomorrow.

I've made Sonia's healthy chocolate crackles.

And Mona's chocolate bliss balls. And we're having chocolate cake! Can you overdo chocolate?

Once we get through all the chocolate, we're heading to Melbourne to celebrate one of my dear long time friend's 40th birthday at the Afghan Gallery restaurant. I was reminiscing about celebrating her 21st the other day, I'm feeling old now!

A friend and I were chatting during the week about books we love, we both read pretty much only non-fiction, I love Joyce Maynard's memoir 'At Home in the World'.  I discovered it when I was just starting out having my writing published, it was a very timely read.

Speaking of starting out, my friend Alarna is a talented graphic designer who is just starting out on Instagram showcasing her divine wedding stationery designs take a look @arch_and_co

And while we're on the topic of talented friends :) how yummy does my friend Lucy's recipe for spicy sweet potato and lentil soup look?! Perfect for this Arctic cold snap we're having.

Still life paintings, yes or no? (I didn't paint that one by the way) I love Margaret Olley

Think of me tomorrow standing in the park in the middle of winter, with a pack of kids kicking the footy to celebrate my footy mad son turning 9. Brrrrrr! We're usually away for River's birthday so this year I said he can have a party before we go. I know Mother of the Year :) he's worth it.

Have a great weekend. Stay warm, or go somewhere warm!

Thanks for visiting here, god knows there's no shortage of blogs out there to visit so I do appreciate you all stopping by.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

is your partner a bully?

I'm jumping totally off topic today to talk about things that are not easy to talk about.

And the not talking is part of the problem. Keeping secrets, give secrets power and allow problems to grow instead of shrink.

This post was prompted by a newspaper article I read this morning that stated 80% of people surveyed in a recent VicHealth study don't understand why women in abusive relationships don't leave. This statistic highlights how misunderstood the complexities of family violence are.

It is hard to bear even thinking about the fact that right now there are women and children living in homes with fear in their hearts, fear of physical, emotional, financial and/or sexual abuse.

As I walked back to my car from the cafe where I read the paper I thought about what I'd read, what can I do? How can I contribute to change?

Often we hear about something happening in the world and think "Gee that's terrible. There's not much I can do though". Wrong. The smallest changes can add up to a huge difference.

I can write a blog post I thought. And perhaps by writing this someone reading might recognise some of what I'm writing about in themselves, a friend or family member and take the huge step of finding a way out.

I'm no expert in this topic but as a woman and mother it is a topic that tears at my heart. And because in my own family my grandmother endured years of abuse at the hands of my grandfather who was an alcoholic, their four children including my father suffered. And in turn my mother, my brother and I suffered because due to my father's upbringing he could not be present as a husband and father, leaving when my brother and I were toddlers. So why did my grandmother stay? Because, in her words, "In those days there was nowhere to go".

It is no coincidence that my aunt, my Dad's sister, grew up to become a crisis worker, and who now forty years on from that era that my grandmother spoke of, works with women and children in crisis: still without place to go. The fact that the support system is broken and lacking has already been highlighted at this weeks hearings in Australia's Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Why women stay

The reasons why women stay are as many and varied as why men are abusive. All too often the question is 'Why don't women leave?' instead of 'Why don't men stop being violent and abusive?'

All change begins with recognising the signs and symptoms of the problem.

But for some women and men they don't even acknowledge that they are part of an abusive or violent relationship especially when abuse and violence is inter-generational, the next generation learn from the previous generation that what it means to be in relationship, to be 'loved', is to be treated badly. Violence and abuse is normalised in this situation.

Men and women who grow up with no internal compass to tell them otherwise, to tell them this is not acceptable, keep the behaviour going: men continue to be abusive and violent, and women stay.

This is not to say that all people raised in abusive and violent families grow up to repeat the behaviour.

Then there are the practical barriers to leaving. Finding a safe, affordable place to live, finding employment and childcare, and facing custody issues.

It is a common experience for women in abusive and violent relationships to have had their self esteem completely eroded and to have become increasingly isolated so they do not have the confidence or social networks to make it easy for them to leave.

So, why do women stay? As Melbourne researcher Prue Cameron states in this article, "It's not much of a choice - a violent relationship or chronic poverty and homelessness."

Signs of an abusive relationship

Part of the problem in my opinion is the language we use to talk about this issue.

To many, the words violence and abuse sound extreme, they are not words anyone wants to relate to and therefore even when women are in a situation where they are being called names, being pushed or shoved, being restricted from seeing friends or family, having money withheld from them by their partner, when they hear the words abuse or violence they think "that's not me", so they adjust their emotions a little more, put up a little more psychological armour, so they can cope. All the while hoping things will change.

And that's why I started this post asking 'is your partner a bully?' you don't have to be at the extreme end to be in an abusive relationship.

Unfortunately the phrase 'from little things, big things grow' applies to good and bad. What starts out as name calling, pushing, shoving, jealousy, criticism, if left unaddressed can escalate. Even if the abuse stays at a comparatively low level, when a woman in a relationship doesn't feel safe, valued and free to be herself then there is a problem.

The flip side of knowing the signs of an abusive relationship is knowing what a healthy one looks and feels like. Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, who so tragically lost her son Luke to family violence, is calling on the government to implement compulsory respectful relationship programs in schools. You can join Rosie in campaigning for this by signing her petition.

The key aims of the Royal Commission are encouraging, I pray it is a turning point in how as a society we support women and children to be free of abuse and violence.

Where to find help

If you or a friend require support here are some services to contact:

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) This is the number for the national sexual assault, abuse and family violence counselling service open 24 hours 7 days a week www.1800respect.org

Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

If you know a doctor you trust and have confidence in they should have knowledge of services in your local area.
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