blogging

Gender Stereotyping and Child’s Play

Another blogger raised an interesting point about gender stereotyping, the availability of toys to young children and whether this influenced them in any way.

With my own children, dolls were never much on the agenda.

The boys thought they were uninteresting as they didn’t do anything – which I guess is not all that surprising. For a very short while, one son played with an vintage doll that I myself had as a child, but it did not sustain interest for him. He preferred clocks and mechanical toys that he could pull apart and see cause and effect. The other boy was similar but did enjoy pretend paly with stuffed animals, preferably knitted by his Grandmother, but never dolls.

One afternoon when the boys were 6 and 3 years old, a school friend came over to play. He brought his Barbie doll with him. He had two sisters and we thought nothing strange about his Barbie doll.

When his Mum came and they left to go home, my eldest son found the friend’s Barbie doll tucked under the covers of his bed, propped up on his pillow. He was completely perplexed about why his friend was interested in the doll and what to do about it.

We phoned the Mum and let her know the doll was still at our house and that we would return the doll at school, the following day. She mentioned that her husband was very worried about her son and his penchant for Barbie dolls. We could not really see too much of a problem if he liked them.

Princess

My daughter was more interested in Teddy bears than dolls. I didn’t direct or stereotype her play, merely let her preferences dictate play, in the exact same way I had done with my sons, but would introduce things to her and let her take it from there. They would pick out their toys at the shop or at home. She never chose or wanted a doll. Bears were much like dolls in terms of imaginative playthings, anyways.

One day I noticed something interesting.

It was my practice to make little cardboard car ramps with my sons so that they could roll their toy cars up and down in a safe corner of our large country kitchen, whilst I was preparing meals or working. They loved this and they made all sorts of twisting and turning ramps with sticky tape this way and that. They played for hours rolling down various toy cars and trucks and loved the activity.

When my daughter was around 18 months or 2 years old, I grabbed some cardboard and made a small car ramp for her amusement, as the boys were off playing older boy games in the backyard, by then. When I rolled a toy car down this makeshift ramp and made a whooping sound when it rolled off the end, my daughter cast it a cursory glance, grunted a little and swiftly turned away to play with something else. The cars and ramp game held absolutely no interest for her.

It was a Eureka moment for me. “You are not like your brothers,” I thought. And I didn’t think I had any influence on that. I hadn’t conditioned her to like cars or to dislike dolls. We still had had the vintage doll in the cupboard, but she never voluntarily touched it. The boys were more interested in video games by the time she was independently playing, so perhaps if they were still playing with toy cars, she might have wanted to join in. Still, it seemed she spent more time playing with the toy kitchen, dress-ups or pulling plastic containers out of my storage cupboards engaging in pretend play.

But there was the collection of bears.

child with teddy bear

Each one had a different name, which sometimes changed from day to day or minute to minute. She might dress them up, give them tea parties or set up a bear wedding ceremony. Again, this had come out of her own imagination.

For birthdays, kindly friends or relatives would give my daughter a Bratz doll as a gift – the ones with the big eyes and curvaceous figures. The only time my daughter would touch them would be to cut their hair off pretending to be a hairstylist, after which the Bratz dolls would be ditched in the dark recesses of the toy cupboard, never to be seen again. She found them, ‘a bit creepy,’ she explained years later.

So whilst many psychologists or academics propose that parents instil stereotypes in children by guiding their play or limiting their toys, I don’t think I entirely agree. I do believe they make up their own mind according to their own personality preferences.

Do you see evidence of children following gender stereotypes in their play?

Has this changed?

Do you think children’s interest are dictated by nature or nurture?

Community, Motivational, Philosophy

Sunday Sayings – Resilience and Success

Weekly Quote

“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

-David Brinkley

Weekly Proverb

If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. — Gambian proverb

Resilience

A recent article suggests that those who can weather the storms of life have the ability to perceive events in a different way to those who feel stressed and negatively impacted by trauma and life’s challenges.

Whether you can be said to have resilience, or not, might depend on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky and never experience any adversity, you don’t really know for sure how resilient you might be. When you come across obstacles stress and environmental threats, you discover how well you can cope with life’s challenges.

Reacting to Stress

Do you see a stressful event as traumatic, or a problem? Or is it a chance to learn and grow?

Why do some kids thrive in awful circumstances and yet others crumble despite hailing from more comfortable backgrounds?

Predictors of Resilience in Children

Who will be resilient?

According to the article, support networks are essential to resilience. A strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor, who believed in them tended to be more resilient, when life threw them a curve ball.

Children displaying the following strengths were also noted to be more resilient: [Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956753/%5D

  • mature, autonomous and independent
  • were naturally curious
  • used whatever skills they had effectively
  • belief it was themselves, not their circumstances, that affected their achievements
  • strategies to deal with stress
  • a talent or hobby valued by others
  • a sense of humour
  • responded well to others
  • tolerated negativity
  • well developed decision making, reading and planning
  • a balanced perspective of experience
  • hopefulness
  • flexible but tenacious

In short, “The resilient children saw themselves as orchestrators of their own fates.

newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/the-secret-formula-for-resilience

The final saying today comes from Janet over at This, that and the other thing:

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

Discussion

Do you see yourself as the master of your own destiny?

Join in the conversation. All comments are welcome.

Early morning sunrise photography
Food, History & Traditions

Cook Eat Repeat Challenge – Healthy Breakfast Eggnog

I have been following Moons’ blog, Bits and Pieces for some time now and read her post on a traditional form of Chai style tea that originated from Calcutta, as well as the beautiful traditions that surround this drink and its preparation. She’s challenged the blogging community to write about a drink that is a favourite or one that has a special meaning, for you.

sverige
Stockholm

I do like drinking tea and now I have access to tea suppliers selling specialised leaf teas, it won’t come as a surprise to hear that I enjoy a cup of ‘Stockholm blend’ tea – (goodness, even my house is called the ‘Stockholm Design’ by the Builder). But it is not tea, that I will be writing about today, but a nutritious drink that makes a great breakfast food – a powerhouse of nutrition on the go. Perfect for busy people and kids.

craft
Placemat upcycled to a teapot cosy

Traditional Juletime Egg Nog

For many European and Americans, Eggnog is a popular drink to have at Christmas. Harking back to a 14th century concotion called Posset – a kind of curdled milk mixed with ale, Eggnog and cold, winter days just seem to go together. Maybe that’s the added whisky or rum that warms the body and the soul, perhaps? The link below is for the traditional Christmas Egg Nog recipe from Jamie Oliver, but my drink is altogether different.

As most know, or might suspect, I live in a warm climate and as such we don’t have the need to have warming drinks to get us through a snowy morning.

My take on EggNog is completely non-alcoholic, is chocked full of nutritional goodness and makes the perfect start to your morning, especially if you don’t have to time to cook, or eat, a hearty breakfast.

eggnog
Photo Credit: best-eggnog-recipe/

My version of Egg Nog looks the same as in the above picture but is way easier to prepare, packs a punch nutritionally and is suitable for children as well as adults, as there’s no alcohol added.

Healthy Breakfast Drink

Many of the working population are rushed! There’s no time to prep a cooked breakfasts. Others might not feel like eating early in the morning and can only face black coffee! This twist on the traditional egg nog prepares your body and mind for the day, fills the tummy and takes seconds to prepare.

Kid Friendly Breakfast Egg Nog Recipe

  • 1 – 2 Eggs depending on your mug size
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar – Caster sugar dissolves faster
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Milk – can be almond/coconut/full fat/skim or soy
  • Whole Nutmeg * – freshly ground from the whole nut*
  1. Break the egg in a large mug and whisk vigorously with a fork.
  2. Add the sugar and whisk again until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and mix through.
  4. Add milk and whisk thoroughly until combined
  5. Grate nutmeg on top to cover with a small grater
  6. Enjoy!

*One of my kids used to get a little confused calling nutmeg – egg mut. Whatever works we thought – regularly calling it ‘egg mut, ‘ until they became teenagers.

Breakfast Egg Nog Variations

Fruit Egg Nog: -Add raspberries or strawberries, even mango and pulse in a Nutribullet or blender, for a fruity, vitamin filled hit!

Choc or Mocha – Add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder and/or coffee diluted with a little boiled water for those with a really sweet tooth or coffee cravings.

strawberries

Nutritional Benefits of Egg Nog

As well as the milk component contributing to the dairy and calcium RDA components in your diet, ingredients such as eggs and spices round out the benefit of a daily Egg Nog drink, (without the alcohol).

One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin.

Nutmeg is low in Cholesterol and Sodium, is a good source of Fibre, and Manganese and support mood, digestion, sleep, good skin and brain health. It may also lower blood pressure. But don’t binge on it. Too much may not be so helpful.

Start the day with a Breakfast Egg Nog or Egg Nog Smoothie! This drink works equally well in filling up children’s tummies at afternoon tea time. This stops them snacking on junk before dinner!

Join in with Moon’s Cook Eat Repeat Challenge here:

Community, Mental Health

Raising Children and Productivity

Lindy is a young Mum to two energetic boys. Lindy’s house is orderly and tidy, and Lindy works part time in a local law firm. The boys go to Daycare when she is at work, and she reports they love the activities there. Even so, she ensures she makes up for the time away from them, by rewarding them with an extra special outing or activity, on the weekends.

Every day she keeps their young minds busy by taking them out to parks, playgrounds, recreational facilities or plays. They are rarely at home.  Twice a week, they are enrolled in Early Music tuition and next year they will join a junior football team. She is also considering Maths tutoring so that will have a head start on their peers, at school. Lindy wants them to grow up to be motivated and ambitious individuals, living life and experiencing the opportunities she missed during her childhood.

But is she doing the right thing for her boys?

Are the boys benefiting from all these scheduled activities?

Or are they being raised with the expectation that entertainment will be provided, each and every day?  Will they thrive on this daily dose of stimulation, or come to expect it as a birthright? Could they even become victims of information overload?

Some experts now think it’s essential for our mental well-being to make time to relax, unwind and do nothing. But, isn’t that a tad boring? Won’t the kids get into mischief? Do young children really need down time at all? And what about us? Do we really NEED some down time away from the “bling” of notification tones? What is the value of downtime, anyway?

Confucius has some words of wisdom: –

“Learning without reflection is a waste, reflection without learning is dangerous” – Confucius

As well as Confucius, Forbes offers some insights –

“Introspection and reflection have become lost arts” as we are unable to resist the temptation to ‘just finish this’ or ‘find out that.’

With vast amounts of information at our fingertips, who needs to memorize facts at all?

“Working harder is not necessarily working smarter. In fact  slacking off and setting aside regular periods of ‘doing nothing’ may be the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health. “

https://www.forbes.com/sites/insead/2014/07/01/the-importance-of-doing-nothing/#354e533e75e4

Does free-time sound appealing to you? Works for me. Schedule time for Feet up, drink in hand, and letting one’s mind free-wheel. Muting notifications of course.

I hope Lindy and her two boys are listening.

Something to Ponder About

stpa logo
Community

Sunday Sayings – Children and Parenting

Stacia Taunscher quote

Sayings, quotes and proverbs offer us knowledge; knowledge that is passed to us in much the same way a relay runner might pass a baton. Once it’s handed over, it is up to us what we do with it and how we pass it on.

sunday sayings

If you are a parent of a young child, you might worry about what your child may or may not do with their life. Often these concerns are unfounded, and the universe sorts everything out in time. Sometimes it doesn’t and we need to listen to our gut feelings, follow up and intervene. But how much intervention is really beneficial?

children parents Vigeland sculpture


‘What parents whisper, their children shout!”


~ Dutch proverb



children

It is a difficult task to know the boundary between what might be considered a helicopter/over-protective parent and on the flip side, a casual approach to child rearing that allows a child to develop without any sort of intervention.

Children are like wet cement – whatever falls on them makes an impression.”

— Haim Ginott, child psychologist

I think most parents try to find that middle ground. Each child’s needs are so uniquely individual.

Christmas gift

Several years ago, I created ‘Proverbial Friday’ on my blog. I became fascinated with traditional proverbs, quotes and sayings, their metaphorical layers and the many different interpretations found within just a few, succinct words. I marveled at their ability to transcend race, religion, opinions and age.

LeggyPeggy and I read a relevant article about children, parenting and boredom, that I shared recently on Sunday Sayings. It makes for interesting reading and started me thinking: –

Have we become slaves to the potential to our children? Do we wish them to succeed so much that we bend over backwards in providing the best opportunities for them?

In doing so, have we prevented them from experiencing opportunities that might assist them to become more self-reliant and independent?

as the article suggests.

Teach your children early not to pass the blame or make excuses, but to take responsibility for their actions.”


–Eric Greitens


“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

~ Khalil Gibran

Today on Sunday Sayings, I am looking at several thoughts on the subject and would love to hear your opinions. You may strongly disagree or agree. Everyone’s opinion is important.

What do you make of the words shared today?


They are invariably Something to Ponder About

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Community

Last Minute Christmas Ideas

Decorations are in the shops from August in some places, carols are playing over the speakers in shopping centres, and Christmas comes earlier and becomes more commercialized every year.

Even kids are organized early, these days. When my children were younger, a lengthy Christmas wish list of various items ranging in price from in expensive to earth shattering out of my budget, expensive, would appear on my bedroom wall, about a month before Christmas Day. Just in case I was unsure of what exactly to buy for them for Xmas. 

Kids growing expectations of Christmas gifts

There is expectations around gift giving now. Mind you, can’t really blame the kids for trying, even if the follow through does not reach such dizzying heights.

Humbling was the child from a family, at school, who said, when asked what they got from Santa, “A new lunchbox for school.”  Did this pull at my heart strings?  Oh yes, indeed. Makes me think of many possible alternative options for low cost or free activities, as gifts, that one can request and give for Christmas.

(Write these up onto pretty gift cards, placed in a “surprise bag” and could be pulled out by each child/ adult, as a kind of lucky dip/Christmas game)
* A warm and cosy evening/day spent doing whatever each child wishes, one on one, without disturbances from computer, phone, mobile phone or Ipod, Ipad etc etc.  It might be a board game, cocoa and a chat, playing games, like hide n seek, or pictionary/ monopoly.

* A Christmas themed movie or power-point presentation for Grandparents and/or extended family

* Building a cubby house, go cart, or raft together. This can be as complex or as simple as you like: the full wooden hammer and nails bit, or a large cardboard box.

* Sewing or embroidering a calico/reusable plain shopping bags, with permanent markers or paint

*Make low cost decorations for the tree with pre-printed felt, ribbon and glue.

Embroidery star decoration
Simple – cut out printed felt or embroider and glue to make low cost decorations

* Making the Christmas cake/ lolly or cookie jars to give to others.

* Setting out tea light candles all along your street and letterbox dropping others on surrounding streets to do the same. We do this and call it ‘Santa’s highway’.

Tivoli

* Making a card or memory album for Grandma

* Constructing a year in my family chronicle to give out to family members at Xmas with recipes, funny stories, and photos.

* Challenge the kids to present a puppet show or play to family members on Christmas Day. Make a video to give to them when they are older

* A talent quest for family members with a Christmas theme

(Chocolate Prizes for all entrants)

* Swimming or running races or even Trampoline competitions if you have one

* A Forest hike

* A walk or play on the beach, perhaps with the promise of ice cream afterwards.

* If the kids are into books, a trip to the library or bookstore or book exchange

Lucerne christmas

There are plenty more ideas available on the net or in books, so these are just a few that came to me, off the top of my head. This kind of experience will stay in a child’s memory for longer than the short lived joy of getting a cheap plastic toy that may be broken/forgotten in a few months time.

Christmas need not be super expensive. Be creative and have fun, and still be giving a priceless gift that has the bonus of being environmentally friendly.

These activities will surely be something kids might ponder about when they reminisce about Christmas past.

Ways to save money this Christmas and still have fun with the family.

How do you manage Christmas spending?

Have you got a way to save money and still have fun with the children?

designing bags red work
Community

Kicking out Plastic – Tutorial Signature Shopping Bag

embroidery hack
Design penned onto calico shopping bag

I really hate using plastic bags and avoid them at all costs. As supermarkets here are phasing out single use plastic bags, there is even more need for consumers to have their own environmentally friendly and sustainable shopping bags.

And it is not just reusable bags for groceries. Even when buying a new outfit, I will carry a clean cotton bag for my purchases inside my regular handbag, rather than use a plastic variety that is not only bad for the planet, but also advertises companies who make absolutely no effort to take care of the future of the environment and wildlife. Why would I want to promote them?

In less than ten minutes, you can create an individual environmentally friendly solution. A solution, so easy, that even the children can get involved and create their own reusable, plastic free shopping bag.

Back in 2012, I began making a variety of D.I.Y, “plastic free” bags: in Redwork embroidery, painted Norwegian Telemark and floral designs, and also with a pen and painting technique.

Here are a few samples from my existing bag stash.

But I needed more bags to have on hand, and as plain calico is rather plain, and ‘Redwork’ embroidery makes such a pretty and easy adornment. My initial plan was to embroider some designs on the new calico bags, in redwork technique, with a needle and thread. However, I am not the world’s neatest hand sewer ( far from it, really), and embroidery takes me for-EVER to complete, as I have an aversion to sewing, itself!

Solution: Enter the Evanscraft craft and cross stitch pen…. a permanent, acid free pen in a Barn red colour, that can simulate cross stitch or other types of embroidery. Wonderful! With this technique, you can create a pretty cottage garden or folk art design on fabric, (or even wood), and the result is something unique, and useful, created in a matter of minutes.

More time for plastic free shopping!!

It just might inspire others to take up plastic free shopping as well.

flower pattern

You will need:

  • A Calico or Cotton bag in a light colour from your local haberdashery store, ironed flat.
  • A pattern such as the one above, which you can trace over in thick black pen. NB. If you aren’t feeling particularly inspired to draw your own design, you can find plenty of free ‘Redwork’ or other embroidery patterns, (there are some here on Pinterest); in colouring books or even on google image search, itself.
  • A permanent pen, preferably in barn red or a dark red colour, but any colour will do, as long as it doesn’t bleed or run when you wash the bag. I used an Evanscraft Craft and Cross Stitch pen but please patch test the pen of your choosing, on a hidden corner, to check its colour fastness and suitability.

Instructions:

  1. Tape the design on a glass window to create an impromptu light box and trace your selected pattern in thick black pen.
  2. Tape the traced design on top of a piece of cardboard and slip both inside the bag, centering horizontally. The calico is fairly thin so it is easy to see the traced design through the bag. Mounting the design on the cardboard prevents any bleeding of the penned design, through to the rear side of the bag.
  3. Then it is just a matter of re-tracing over the pattern with the chosen pen, and adding a few embellishments of your own, within and around the design.
  4. A final press of the bag, with the iron seals the design and you are ready to shop!

Tip: A ruler may be used to keep long lines straight, or you may prefer to keep them loose and rustic, as I did in the border design. Use the ruler turned upside down to prevent smudging on to the bag.

A major complaint of those who continue to use plastic bags, is that they forget to bring the re-usable bags, along with them, when they shop.

I purchased the plain cotton shopping bags from Lincraft for a dollar each. Not only are they strong, bu they can be scrunched up to a really small size, for carrying inside my handbag, (see in photo to the right above).

In this way they are always on hand, for my use just when I need them.

No more forgetting the bags!!

What design would you choose?

Something environmentally friendly and creative to ponder About.

maroochydore
Community

Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking. 

I hope you will too.

 

 

“Even a small star shines in the darkness.”

~ Unknown

 

 

star
A star in the darkness

Confucius is credited with writing and editing some influential Chinese classical literature. His principles had a basis in common Chinese tradition and beliefs. As a man, Confucius championed strong family loyalty, ancestor worship, respect of elders by their children and of husbands by their wives and in addition, family as a basis for ideal government.

 

Confucius 20160212_084943

 

His most famous adage for a good life is  “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”, the so-called Golden Rule.

 

The Golden Rule is well know throughout the world. Lesser known is the following Confucian quote:

 

 

“Attack the evil that is within yourself,

rather than attacking the evil that is in others.”

― Confucius

 

 

fog  20150618_081358
Do you sometimes catch yourself feeling envious, or jealous in your dealing with others? I have this week been pondering the origin of these thoughts. The world now has an overload of information at its fingertips. Information about what we might aspire to, what we might desire and seek to obtain.

 

pexels-photo.jpg

 

We can never really possess anything, on a permanent basis. In truth, we have but a loan. A short term or long term loan. So why the feeling to have what another has been fortunate to possess on their short term loan?

Where does it stem from?

Join the discussion by leaving a comment below.

 

StPA

 

Proverbial Thursday – now posting on Fridays at Something to Ponder About

Community

Proverbial Friday- Global Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking.

I hope you will too.

No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.

 Native American Proverb

 

Are we really simply talking about a river here, or our inner yearning to be a child again, to be free of responsibility, to be carefree, unburdened and spontaneous?

We may not be able to start completely over, when things go badly, but we can start somewhere, and from there move forward. Do you agree?

Or could you think of another metaphorical application for this proverb?

The quote I have chosen this week also refers to the theme of childhood.

 

Painted  girlfriends Traffic light control boxes

 

 

Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.”

Jess Lair, Author

 

What do you make of the words of Proverbial wisdom this Friday?

Are they Something to Ponder About?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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buren church
Community

What is in the Box?

Imagine if you had a box, and it could contain anything, anything at all.

But the contents are things one can not pick up.

What would be in your box?

This was an exercise given to primary school children, aged 7- 12 years. The text in BOLD  italics is mandatory and the rest, part of one’s own fertile imagination.

A great exercise for kids to use their thinking powers to fill an imaginary box. It focuses not on the usual kid’s wish list of Xbox or Barbie Dolls, but rather on abstract thoughts.

A gift that is free.

I pondered about what would be inside my box, which I call:

The Moose’s Box

I will put in my box –

the freedom of children to dream and aspire.

the fortitude and perseverance of a nanny goat,

the sound of boots stomping in freshly laid snow,

the anticipation of holidays and travel.

I will put in my box –

empathy and altruism,

emotional intelligence and joy,

extra doses of joy and happiness,

extract of a young pup’s exuberance.

I will put in my box –

a shifting fog,

wild windy weather,

a thousand giggles,

and the sky at twilight.

I will put in my box –

a black unicorn hiding behind the rainbow

and the toes of a fish or the fins of a horse.

My box is –

shaped like a moose’s horns

and is a kaleidoscope of colours and sounds

tied with imaginary bows of angel’s breath.

In my box –

I will understand the meaning of life and find contentment and love.

What would you put in your box?

Just a little Something Abstract to Ponder About  – What could you put in your box if the contents could not be materialistic?

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Norwegian wood box

savoury muffins
Community

Savoury Muffins – School Lunch Recipe

620-x-400-frazzled-mom

Summer in Australia means school aged kids are under their parent’s feet at home, yet, paradoxically, many parents actually look forward to School holidays. Why? One reason is that holidays means a slower start to the day, no school run stress, no juvenile screaming they can’t find their hat/maths homework/bus-card, and most significantly, no need to prepare school lunch boxes, each and every morning.

 

workingmother

 

Day after school-term day, many parents over-stress and almost tear their hair out trying to provide a nutritious, yet appealing school lunchbox for their kids, particularly during the high school years. As any parent with teens knows, asking adolescents to consume anything remotely wholesome and not packaged in four layers of plastic or laced with half a salt mine, is tantamount to offering them a piece of buttered cardboard and likely to be received with this enthusiastic response:

yukkyfood

[Source -dailymail.co.uk]

So how does home-cooked food, originating from the household pantry or fridge, compete with the highly addictive products of multinational food companies or their derivatives, with the myriad of flavourings, salt and sugar content? How did we get to this situation?

What society thought school lunch should look like –

foodpyramid

What teenagers thought school lunch look like –

junk food

What parents think school lunches are like –

 

mum lunchbox

With the impending start of the school work year, I  decided the school lunchbox had to be not only visually appealing, but tasty as well and, it had to tick most of the ‘healthy lunch’ boxes, (no pun intended!) So I studied a few basic muffin recipes and came up with my own savoury muffin that I am confident even the fussiest teen would be hard-pressed to refuse, (and if he/she does, there is always bribery and corruption as Plan ‘B’….)

The real secret to this recipe is that it looks like a sweet cake in appearance, (first duplicitous manoeuvre) and, secondly, it tastes like the junk food on offer at most food outlets, (but is actually good to eat).

Enter the Savoury Muffin to Die for……

savoury muffins
Amanda’s Savoury Muffins

The rosemary and sea salt topping really stimulates those adolescent taste-buds and once your teen has shown a positive interest such as, “What’s that you are cooking, Mum?” comments, and eats a few here and there:   then and only then might I suggest slowly, (over a few batches), decreasing the amount of sea salt used as topping, to improve the nutrition levels further. Easy does it though: Teen noses and taste buds can easily detect the covert operation you might have in mind.

The list of suggested fillings, is one that you can add as many or as few of these as you have on hand, or in the pantry, without unduly affecting the outcome of the recipe.

Experiment to see which flavors teens like best.

Savoury Muffins

[Makes 12 serves]

Ingredients:

2 cups Self Raising Flour

(or 2 cups Plain flour with 4 teaspoons of baking powder added)

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

80 g Butter, melted

1 tablespoon good quality Olive Oil

1 Egg

1  cup Milk ( I use low-fat)

1 slice Ham – diced

1/3 cup grated Zucchini (courgette)

1 clove Garlic, minced

1/3 cup Baby spinach, diced

1/3 cup cooked Pumpkin (roasted or steamed)

1/3 cup Capsicum strips, roasted (can use jarred variety)

80 g Feta cheese ( crumbled)

Toppings:

savoury muffins20 g Feta cheese ( crumbled), extra

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Rosemary

Sea salt

Optional extra or substitute fillings:

1 tablespoon Olives, sliced

1 tablespoon Parsley

1 teaspoon Mint leaves

2 sticks Spring Onions, sliced

1/3 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes

grated carrot

Pineapple Pieces – (drained well)

Method:

Pre-heat Oven 200 degrees

Mix Flour and Baking powder in large bowl.

Mix melted Butter, Oil and Egg and Milk in separate bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix gently with a wooden spoon.

Fold in the rest of the ingredients only until just mixed and no lumps of flour remain.

Fill a Muffin pan that has been lined with paper Muffins cases to 2/3 capacity.

Sprinkle Parmesan, extra Feta and a mixture of Rosemary and Sea salt on top.

Bake for 20 minutes or till golden brown on top.

Cool on a wire tray covered with a fresh tea towel to prevent muffins drying out.

These muffins freeze well wrapped individually or in a seal-proof container.

The perfect morning tea or lunch snack for those on the go.

P.S. If you are really daring or have one of those ” I’ll eat anything as long as it’s food,” kind of kids: Round off the lunch box offerings with some hummus, hard-boiled eggs and fruit.

Tantalizing Tuesdays

Filling the lunch box give parents ‘Something to Ponder About’

 

 

Community, Philosophy

Sunday Sayings – Advice

Advice – Who Really Wants It?

Imagine you are walking through a shopping centre, casually gazing at the items in the store windows, when you see a mother attempting to calm and placate a wailing two year old child. The child thrashes his legs and arms whilst the mother tries to regain control of the situation. The child then explodes in full tantrum mode reaching ear piercing levels.

What do you and other onlookers say?

In any regular shopping centre, you might hear whispers like:

Just give him a good smack,” or

“They should control their child!

or even,

“Keep them at home when they are like that!”

Cruel unhelpful judgements and advice.

I feel sure that Mum would love to hear these words,

“Can I help you in any way?”

Judgements

On another day,  you might see a shy child clinging to his mother, refusing to participate in an activity; virtually hiding behind his mother’s skirt.

Friends, family and even educators might comment:

“I would not put up with that,”

“She lets him/her get away with too much,”

“He is spoiling him/her,”

or,

“She’s far too anxious – she needs to get out out from his shell.”

Weekly Proverb

Insignificant damage accumulates.

German Proverb

Parents and Carers often try to manage their child’s behaviour using a variety of techniques and a good dose of trial and error. At the same time, most parent would want to encourage their child in participating in social activities.

In the above case of the tantruming or introverted child, a wise elderly lady leaned over from her seat and gave the Mum a helpful suggestion in reference to the judgmental onlookers:-

“Don’t mind them, your child will fly when he is ready.

Venting those Pent up Emotions

I have heard many pieces of advice in the past, and I have even been guilty of some judgmental comments in my younger years b.c., (i.e. before children). As time passed, it became very apparent if someone wanted advice, they would ask for it.

Many people don’t want any kind of unsolicited advice, particularly with reference to child rearing. They merely want to vent their pent up feelings, be it anger or frustration. It may even be their chosen way to communicate that they would like some assistance, but are too proud to ask for it.

They want someone to listen to them, just for a moment.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All.

In ‘venting,‘ many of us appear to be going through a process of working out what is best for us. A kind of self-evaluation and problem- solving.

One person’s solution might be quite different from the next person.

Because after all, we are all very different from one another. We are all individuals. Thus, every person’s solution will naturally also be very different from the next.

One size doesn’t fit all.

In commenting about the tantruming boy up above, the older lady was letting the boy’s Mum know that things will be okay; in time, things will work out:- To Trust in one’s gut instincts.

Her focus was on the outcome for the child, rather than judging the quality of the parenting, or the perceived inaction of the parent or carer.

She appeared to focus her comment, on the outcome for the child, rather than judging the action of the parent, or perceived inaction.”

It so happens that child later turned out to have a diagnosis of autism.

Would the disapproving onlookers have given the same reproachful response, if only they knew that? Wpuld they still be so critical? Or would they shy away from the situation more?

If we offer up advice or suggestions when they are unsolicited,  we are only looking through one prism – our eyes. 

It may not be the other person’s truth, even if it is yours.

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

Unknown

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received that you wouldn’t give to anyone else?

I invite you to join in on the discussion by leaving a comment.

Something to Ponder About this Sunday.

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Community

Why Do Some Kids Throw / Chew Toys or Over – Eat?

Early development and exploration is all about putting items into the mouth in order to explore the world. Some kids will want to eat everything in sight, despite being well fed with nutritionally sound meals. Why is this?

Having something in our mouth is a very primitive, calming tool. In utero, babies often suck their thumb, and after birth soothe themselves by being bottle or breast fed. But some have a greater need for sucking, mouthing objects, chewing or eating everything in reach. This may be a dummy or bottle teat, a toy or spoon, their own clothes (shirt collars and ribbons/ties are often chewed), and in older children, it might be a pen, or gum.

Chewing is really a way for infants and children to self-soothe, but also a way for them to seek out additional opportunities to get oral information about their environment. Some children have a stronger than average sensory need for this kind of feedback and it is these children who might continue to exhibit chewing,  in an attempt to regulate their sensory systems.

Ferry ride from Hell..no Wellington....to serenity of Queen Charlotte Sound.

Chewing on items also provides a lot of deep pressure and ‘proprioception’ * (sense of body position in space), especially to the jaw and facial muscles. Some children will chew in order to gain this understanding of their jaw’s positions in space, particularly if they don’t get this feedback easily through eating, or if they are not able to tolerate solid food which requires chewing, (due to age or health status). In addition, children who suffer anxiety, and some of those on the autistic spectrum might display a greater need for feedback of oral sensory information than most of the population and in doing so are attempting to regulate their sensory systems or self-soothe.

Furthermore, I have noticed some children can become a bit ‘obsessed’ with food, and tend to over-eat despite not being hungry, looking for anything to eat at all hours of the day. Food seems to occupy their every waking thoughts. They are frequently overweight.  Is it possible these children are also seeking extra sensory input through eating?

  • Proprioception: body’s position in space as well as the force we are exerting or the speed of a movement. A child that seeks out body awareness information might pat animals with too much force, frequently bump or push other children, or frequently break things by pressing or pushing too hard on them.

What can be done?

Excess chewing/eating:

If Kids are chewing on a spoon or constantly eating – an alternative might be to replace the object with crushed ice, cubes of ice, or very crunchy, chewy foods, depending on the age and health status of the child.

Throwing items (Casting):

As well as pushing, pulling and squeezing items, throwing items helps provide the muscles and joints with additional body awareness information and proprioceptive input. Throwing toys may give a child an increase in the amount of  ‘body awareness’ information through his arms and shoulders, much in the same way other children get this information from running or jumping. If they are not able to run or jump, they might try to attain it through other means. This has implications for the mainstream behavioral management for these children.

Proprioception (and balance) can be increased by:

Weighted products – which may assist in providing additional information to the muscles and joints, providing extra body awareness information.

(Lap buddies, weighted blankets, weighted toys.  – but never more than 10 % of body weight)

Vibrating items – this provides input to the muscles – these are often used in therapy or special needs settings

Swimming

A wobble board

A Lycra suit or wrap gives significant sensory input due to its stretch properties

Lots of cuddles, squeezes and hugs – a great way for parents to help (and you can never overdose on hugs).

Children such as these are not just being “naughty.”

Something to Ponder About