Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wonder Woman

This is one of my nicknames. Why? Can I leap tall buildings in a single bound…no! Or maybe stop a locomotive with my little finger…not. I am able to multitask which makes me look like Wonder woman. I am in the middle of baking 60 cupcakes for pink ribbon day. Doing the ironing, supervising homework and making dinner. And I’m smiling as I write this!

My husband Richard is up at the local pool getting in some training for his next triathlon, so I’m doing it solo this evening.

Now, for the efficiency thing:

It is family night so we are having homemade pizza; the dough is resting at the moment. I have the timer on the oven so I can’t ruin the cakes and I come and go from the ironing as I check on the children’s progress.

It’s not brain surgery, I know. I have learnt to use my time wisely and approach things calmly. Think about what it is you need to do. Tell the children ahead of time what it is they will be required to do and when they need to start. I am extremely goal oriented so I have had to learn to relax if it doesn’t all get done (sometimes I manage it!).

I feel so thankful each morning that I have been given another day to enjoy life and I approach each and every day with the intention to get the most out of every moment and do it well.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Today is our ‘Current Affairs’ day on the familyroom blog and I’ve decided to look at something that is always current and involves all our our affairs. It’s a four letter word (yikes!!) that seems to escape most of us and sadly I’m not sure if anyone really understand what it means anymore. The four letter word I’m referring to is TIME.

So friends here is my thought de jour......

Is time speeding up or are we just trying to do too much in the time we've been given? Are we operating at break neck speeds leaving behind only a light track and in many cases far too much dust? Is it all meant to be so high pressured, biggest, best, high speed, high intensity, do this, do that? Or, are we meant to do one thing really well and stay steady, focused, consistent, confident, reliable, happy?

My mind went here this week because I have been in email contact with a, not phone communication (that takes up too much time) we've been exchanging emails ~ you know because we are such high tech individuals who care about humanity so much that a voice-to-voice would be stretching even the most seemingly caring person. Anyway I found humor in the fact that we are unable to 'connect' until December.

Now I know everyone's schedule is different and we all place importance on different things and people and perhaps I'm just not high on this friends list of important ~ which is totally fine by me.

What I found funny was that we seem to get consumed doing and trying and seem to forget about caring and sharing and simply BEing. Being in the moment and remaining alert to what is happening around us, being available to make a difference in the everyday-ness of life. I wonder, what would life look like if we all slowed down by one week? How much happier would we be as individuals and how much happier could we make others simply by taking time, to make time to have time.

I will leave you with something that came to mind whilst writing this:

T alking
I ntimacy
M emories
E ternity

Just my thought de jour......

Susan xoxo

Monday, October 29, 2007

Health...... It's a Mind Thing

So today is HEALTH day and I've decided to talk about something other than Fitness, Healthy eating or the like. I would like to talk about Mental Health. I think it's extremely important to keep our minds healthy and by that I mean we need to make sure we think positively, think on good things (think happy thoughts), we need to challenge our mind by exercising it like any other muscle in our body.

For myself I know when my mind isn't being exercised or used correctly. I think most of you probably do too. Just a few tell-tale signs of a mind that requires strengthening are:

Continual thought patterns that are in the wrong place
Sadness for long periods of time
Negative thinking
Loss of memory (that can also be from being too busy as well)

There are so many more but these are just a few that will get you thinking about your own mind and where you currently are mentally. There are simple things we can all do to keep our mind strong, positive and working for us. A few techniques I use are as follows:

I wake before anyone in the house and find time to quiet my mind and for me prayer is how I quiet and focus myself.
I choose not to listen to negative talk or enter into negative conversations.
I CHOOSE to look for the positive or the silver lining in every situation.
I read great, inspiring stories (Reader’s Digest is great for quick uplifting articles).
I dream about what could be, even if it’s not in the realm of possibility, I dream about things and talk to my girlfriends about the dreams.
I talk to my mum and my sister (and a few good friends) about ‘issues’ or ‘concerns’ in life that I may have.
I smile A LOT.
I try and learn a new word every day or week.
Something I need to work on is memory ~ I have so much going on that I don’t seem to remember like I once did (maybe it was babies who knows but I do know that many of us share this weakness). I practice remembering things and challenge myself all the time.

I could go on and on but I think you get what I’m talking about. Make sure you take time in your everyday to quiet your mind and exercise it. Good mental health can been seen in every area of our lives. It’s worth working on. If you have concerns or things you need to talk to someone and you don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone in your world then please do so ~ there are incredible experts who are able to help all of us make sense out of any situation.

Take care be well, remember to smile and keep it simple but keep it real.

Susan xoxo

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Great Day At The Fair

Yesterday was a great day. The children had their annual school fair. It was a hot, humid Spring day. The community turned out in record numbers as did the flies!

What was great about this fair was that it was all about the children and the community. The kids got to see all the parents volunteering and raising money for their school. Mum's were face painting, hair spraying, getting caught up in fairy floss and guzzling water like crazy. Dad's were running after miss-hit golf balls, madly selling raffle tickets and sweating like they had just run a marathon.

The "Golfarama" was a popular game for the boys. If you got a ball in the hole, your prize was a "fart bag". Yes you read it right. A fart bag. It was a small silver pack which, when stomped on, caused the bag to expand and then "POP" - instant fart complete with horrible stench. Needless to say the "fart in a bag" was going off - all day!

Watching the boys let one off and run away in fits of laughter was a hoot!. I know it's gross but I love to see boys being boys.

After the fair was over we invited some friends over for afternoon tea. The children swam, watched High School Musical and played for hours. We drank numerous cups of tea and coffee, indulged in some Italian Cannoli and before we knew it, afternoon tea had turned into dinner.

It was then I realised how much more I enjoy having people over when it is unplanned. There are no expectations - no frantic cleaning and preparation of food before they arrive. Just "hey, why don't you stay for dinner". Thankfully, I had some pasta sauce made, but cheese on toast would have been just as good.

We all had a fun day and I know it will be a lasting memory for me and my children.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Zorba the Greek and Many Other Memorable Moments

Gathering information for yet another school project, my daughter was recently grilling me for details of my childhood. She wanted to know what we ate, how we got around and how we could possibly find out anything useful without Google.

After reassuring her that we did not travel by horse and cart or forage for food on the forest floor – she seemed to nurture the general belief that we were raised in Medieval England – I got to thinking about the memories which have stuck with me over the years. And it surprised me that it wasn’t the major events that came so easily to mind, but the mundane, everyday moments that returned with a ray of sunshine and a fond recollection of a loving family home.

It’s still a mystery to me how she did it, but my mum had a way of keeping things sweet on the home front while working full-time in the family business. I can only conclude that she cunningly had us helping out with the household chores without us really noticing. For example, Saturday morning was set aside for cleaning the house. I have little recollection of the dusting and polishing, but one of my jobs was to choose the soundtrack to which we worked – thumbing through the family music collection to find songs that would inspire us to new heights of cleanliness. I can clearly remember waltzing around the lounge room wafting a feather duster as the frantic strains of Zorba the Greek reached fever pitch.

Family shopping days were another delight. These grand occasions happened once or twice a year, when both parents planned a day off work and gave me permission to skip school (gasps of horror from any teachers reading this!). We would drive an hour or so to a nearby city, start the day with morning tea then browse the shops to our heart’s content, stopping to linger over lunch before driving home happy but exhausted late in the afternoon. These days were more about pleasure than purpose although there would often be a present to buy or an outfit to purchase. We were just taking time out as a family to have fun and see something new.

Now, I can’t say I have started this tradition in my own family yet. Shopping with three children is still more trauma than treat right now. However, one thing which began by accident but is fast becoming a fixture is the pre-birthday, late-night shopping trip. This involves me taking only the birthday girl or boy to the shops on an evening close to the big day, sharing giggles and secrets over supper then picking out a small gift. I’m amazed how much they love this one-on-one time – the dynamics are so different when there’s no need to compete for attention.

Thinking back to these childhood moments has reminded me how important it is to make memories for our kids. Sometimes life is so busy that the fun gets squeezed out. Too often, I dash around focused on getting the job done instead of slowing down and including the little people.

Note to self: make time to dance with the duster!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

To Balski

I’ve heard it said that you can take a girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. Today I know that’s true.

As some of you already know I am a small town girl (I think the population of our town is approximately 998 ~ give or take a few) and today, as with most days, I am proud to be a small town girl. There’s something magical about a small town and the people in it, we have a ‘connection’ that I believe is unique. There is a line in a song by John Mellencamp that resonates with all small town people regardless of where life has lead us, the line goes like this “I was born in a small town, gonna die in that same small town, it’s probably where they’ll bury me.” We all sing that song with vigour.

The other night as I was preparing to go out with my husband and a message came up on Facebook. The message was from and old friend from our small town and the subject simply said ‘Balski’ (the nickname of one of our childhood friends). I immediately knew something wasn’t right ~ isn’t it funny how our spirit just knows when things just aren’t as they should be.

I opened the message to find that my childhood friend had sadly died. His life had been cut short far too soon. I began to think about my small town and the great relationships I have with so many and thought about how important it is to take and make time in order to have time for the things that matter. Our relationships are truly a gift from God. Today, as I mourn the death of a friend, I want to encourage you to manage your time in such away that you have and make time for the things in life that truly matter.

My heart has been sad all week. I have thought back to the days of old and I know all my small town friends are doing the same. Through his death I’m amazed at how both young and old from our small town have communicated ~ all feeling the same sense of loss. Balski will be remembered forever. When we get together we will remember his smile, his crazy jokes and his wicked sense of humour. He will be forever in our hearts.

So my friend today I say farewell. I have said a prayer for you and for your family, you will remembered forever and I count an honour to have known you all my life. Enjoy this journey that you are now on and say hello to those who have gone before.

Good-bye my friend.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Loving Our Friends' Kids

Hey friends,

There’s never really much great news on tv, but lately it feels like we’ve been hearing some awful things, particularly about children and young people. This has caused me think about how important it is not to live isolated lives, and to create community around us. It’s also made me think about how devastated I would be to hear of anything happening to my friends’ kids - I love them so dearly (alas some of them from afar!) and truly believe in them.

So very simply, I want to encourage you today, don't hold back in loving the other kids in your world, s peak words of life over them and create community and extended family around you ~ where ever you find yourself in this big ole world.

The fact is, parenting is just not meant to be done alone. We need others to love our kids and be there when sometimes we can’t be. We need to create safe places where our kids and their friends can grow and be loved and where they know they’ll be cheered on in life. Some of my happiest memories include times like getting together with my favourite gals and their families while our kids had an impromptu talent quest. There was clapping and rap beats and laughter and we just enjoyed and cheered on our various offspring…it was great fun!

I also love hearing the funny things these kids say (I recall a blonde ringlet-ed little 4 year old dropping the F-bomb at kindy!) and how they’re going in school and where their personalities lead them. I also seem to find myself cheering my friends’ kids on at games and during concerts and yelling silliness out the car window as they walk past to school. I’m the doofussy mum yelling happy birthday songs over the phone and, on the flip side, because I love them I’m not afraid to call them on the dumb stuff they do in my home or while in my care.

I want to remember the stuff that’s important to them and be a part of their memories as they think back on their mum’s friends and what growing up was like in a community of people who believed in them and made them feel at home in their world. As our kids grow, we will have so many little (and gangly teen) people in and out of our homes and cars and we have a fantastic opportunity to create laughter, joy and life around us and for our home to be ‘the’ place to hang out.

I can’t WAIT to see who these kids are going to become and as they walk through life along side mine and all the great stuff they will do in the world. I look forward the 18th’s and 21st’s (where I can embarrass them further) and hearing them on the phone while they’re with my kids in other parts of the world as they have their adventures…then the inevitable engagements and weddings. Sigh…

Let’s think outside our own families and always have an open home for other kids. The house is never going to be spotlessly clean whilst we have kids living at home! Let’s learn to love the chaos and the noise and get used to making an extra batch of muffins of whatever is on the go!

I love the fact that there are a number of homes where my kids are valued, safe, cared for and encouraged....I want my home to be that place too, for my kids memories and who knows, maybe to help that one young person for whom home wasn’t or hasn't been such a great place...

Lv Jane

Sunday, October 21, 2007

My thoughts on Belinda

HEALTH: the dictionary defines it as “Freedom from disease or ailment, the general condition of the body or mind”
Many of you have heard/read some of my story, when Susan and I were regularly blogging about our exercise regime, however I thought I would share a little more with you today. So, here goes…

Over the last 12 to 13 years sadly I have put what I have wanted into my mouth, unfortunately this has resulted in my beautiful, but small frame becoming over weight. The result I have found and clearly see is that my body is not in the state of health that I know it can be in.

In my younger years I was always fit and healthy, however along the path of babies, etc., things seemed to slip. But things are changing now. I have made the decision to continue making my way back to health and well-being because I believe that HEALTH is a life style, it’s about how good you feel both body, mind and spirit when you are living right.

This journey takes time but it’s so worth it. Life is so busy these days that finding the time to exercise and be concerned about what we are consuming is an effort. Today I would like to tell you (out loud) that the effort is so worth it. I really started looking after myself about 8 months ago, I mean really exercising and trying to watch what I put through my lovely lips. This has definitely been a challenge for me, as I love junk. Everyday I am making wiser, stronger choices that I know in the long run will benefit every part of me.

Exercise for me is a vital part of becoming healthy. I encourage you to take just a ½ hour to 1 hour each day to exercise. Create a habit and after a short while you will really begin to feel and see (yahoo) the difference. When I say exercise I mean start by walking and then progress, your goal is to increase your heart rate so you can start burning some unwanted ‘bits’. After 8 months I’m finding that my exercise routine is no longer a chore for me, I am back to enjoying exercising, it gives me time to gather my thoughts all the while puffing like a steam engine!

Being healthy is not just a want it’s a need and every single women, man and child, regardless of age, needs to be active and work towards living a full and healthy life.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wicked Apple Crumble

My work colleague Julie is as skinny as a rake. She is one of those lucky people who seems to be able to eat what she pleases without putting on a pound. The fat fairy has passed her by and thanks to this she has, without even a twinge of guilt, built up a repertoire of naughty-but-nice desserts which she is happy to share with her friends.

And these decadent dishes are no shrinking violets. They are wicked puddings with gutsy flavours and rich textures but, because Julie is not one to linger longer than necessary in the kitchen, she has fine-tuned them to new heights of speed and simplicity. Case in point is her delicious apple crumble. I used to make crumble the old-fashioned way – peeling and stewing the Granny Smiths then carefully combining the butter and flour until it resembled fine breadcrumbs. Well, there’s none of that here. This is a store-cupboard pud that’s a cinch to make and tastes just as good as its complicated counterparts.

This wicked apple crumble is perfect comfort food for those in the northern hemisphere welcoming winter frosts and warm evenings by the fire, but it’s equally good with a dollop of ice-cream for those of us looking forward to lazy summer days.


2 large tins of apple pie fruit – sliced ones work best
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
Approx 200g butter (or margarine)

1. Preheat the oven to 200C
2. Melt the butter
3. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix
4. Put the tinned apple in the bottom of a casserole dish
5. Cover the apple evenly with the crumble mixture
6. Cook for 25-35 minutes until golden brown on top

From Deborah!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Time Management......What does it mean?

I have been trying to get around to writing this post for the past 2 days...such is my time management!!

Time Management was never something I struggled with, I have always been particularly good with managing my time and abilities, being an on time and reliable person....and then I had kids!  Have they even heard of time management?? Why is their agenda always different to mine?

My struggle quickly became not that of being someone who had difficulty managing their time - but someone who knew what they needed to do, how they needed to do it and exactly when they needed to do it - but it just wasn't happening. When I tried to send that email, or get to the shops to buy groceries for dinner, or just even stop for five seconds, there was some urgent need that demanded my attention. So I had to learn not to try and fight it, to understand that this is a season in my life where these little people do require all of me, and all of the other things can go on hold for the time being.

I know this isn't the kind of 3-step "here's what you need to do to have great time management skills" kind of a post, personally I reckon you're either born with it or you're not, and if you're not you need to work pretty darn hard at it (but that is a whole other story and one that is open to a whole lot of debate no doubt)....anyhow where was I?? Oh yeah, this post is more for those of us who are constantly frustrated by not being able to get things done when and how you want.

As a busy mum of 2 both well under the age of 2.5 my advice is, in as much as you can, just stop and enjoy the ride, enjoy your kids, be with them completely, don't worry about the next thing like jumping to get on your computer, or getting to the dishes, or cleaning the house at the first free second you get. Yes, you probably need to work out a system to accomplish all the things you need to get done, but if you are the person I am directing this to, you are no doubt perfectly capable and will always get it done anyway. If you stress less about what needs to happen and just let a few things slide along the way, then everything will become much easier... just make sure you remember the things you've allowed to 'relax or slide' and do make them happen when it works ~ make that a priority.....everyday!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jumping And Getting Wet

I heard a speaker at a women’s conference once say: “Are you the kind of parent that likes to sit and watch your kids swim, or do you jump in and get wet?” …. Hmmmm.

This comment troubled me. I do like to have fun, but I also like to sit on the side and watch. Last year for instance we visited an aquatic centre in Tasmania. It was a little cold and the water was uninviting. I had a magazine to read, so I sat in the cafe, smiling and waving at the kids. Luckily Uncle Greg didn’t mind getting wet. My lack of involvement however didn’t impress my five and eight year olds.

What does impress them is me donning my swimmers and jumping in, or rolling up my jeans and splashing in the surf or swallowing my pride and climbing through a ridiculously small kids climbing maze, only to find myself getting stuck between the yellow squishy bits or better yet, taking my shoes off and bouncing with them on a Cinderella jumping castle.

Yesterday, against my better judgment, I put on my sneakers and headed to Luna Park with my five year old. As soon as we arrived, Georgia took my hand urging me to go on the merry go round with her. “Come on mummy,” she said enthusiastically. Cumbersomely I clambered on board a mermaid horse built for two. With legs dangling and handbag draped over my shoulder, I turned to look at Georgia. She gave me a big beaming, one tooth missing smile.

The more sensible parents were standing on the side taking photos of their kids. The less sensible one … me, was getting that ‘poor you look’ by parents at every turn. Even the attendant smiled at me sympathetically. Un-phased I turned to look back at Georgia who was still giving me that one tooth missing grin.

Next we headed to the Ferris wheel. Ah, this was better. At least I could see other parents getting on. But no sooner had we jumped off the Ferris wheel, when Georgia grabbed my hand and dragged me to my nightmare – the mighty mouse. I could already feel my meat pie heading up my esophagus. Again, most parents – the sensible ones, were standing in the line to wave their kids off. Not me. I am bundling myself into the crammed little red car with my bag, Georgia’s back pack and Georgia. “Here we go,” I say mustering up as much enthusiasm as I could. I think the photo taken as we hurtled down the track at 100 km’s an hour said it all.

Next it was Coney Island. “Let’s go on the big slide mummy.” “Ok, Georgia,” I looked up, grimaced, then sent an SMS to my husband: “are we having fun yet?” who promptly replied with: “not until you’ve been on the big slide” – funny that. So with a mat in one hand, Georgia’s backpack in the other and my handbag draped around my neck, we head up the big stairs to the big slide.

The young Indian man holding the mat at the top gave me that knowing glance. I stuffed my handbag into the little pouch provided, sat Georgia on my lap, then one, two, three – off we went. Whooahhhh! I’m just glad I’m not a celebrity and I don’t have paparazzi taking my photo, because the disembarking at the other end would have made the front page.

So after 6 rides, one ice-cream, 2 coffees and a stick of fairy floss we were done. Georgia took my hand, looked me in the eyes and said: “I love you mummy.” In this moment, I realized it was worth it all. To get in and get wet, although uncomfortable for me, meant the world to her.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Know Your Body

Hi Friends,

The older I get, the more obvious it is to me that my body is going to make or break the way I spend the next 40 years! That in mind I have a new found fervour when it comes to the way I treat myself!
Practically speaking our body will be as good to us as we are to it. Put good food in and it will convert it to stuff that is good for you. It will fight cancer causing free radicals, tend to areas that need to repair and support the general functioning of our systems. Put bad stuff in and we operate more sluggishly, get sick more frequently, take longer to mend and don’t look quite as good.
I can hear you all screaming as you head to the cupboard to dust off your bottle of vitamin pills! It’s never too late to make a change. Amazingly our bodies have been created with the capacity to constantly repair. For instance, in between cigarettes a smokers lungs actually are in the process of repairing the damage cause by the last smoke. So, even if you have smoked a packet a day for twenty years if you quit today your body will do its best to repair itself. The same goes if you know you are carrying extra weight. Get started and your body will rise to the challenge (even if it doesn’t always feel like it!). Read Susan and Belinda’s posts on their journey, no excuses!
More later, but for now make a decision to undertake change today, put it into action and be proud of you. You deserve it!

Annie x

Friday, October 05, 2007

Posh Spice vs Your Children

Now I’m the first the admit to the occasional Who magazine purchase, but I personally find it disturbing that I seem to know all the names and birth places of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s children yet I couldn’t honestly tell you what some of my cousin’s kids are called or even how many they have. A certain amount of grace needs to be granted here since our tribe well into the hundreds!

Here’s a few questions for you:
• How well do we know celebrities?
• How many times do you pick up a magazine, newspaper or watch the television to read or listen to an interview with a celebrity?
• Name an actress, famous current or historic figure or even a fictional character and think of how many personal facts you know about them.
• Do you find yourself talking about them and their love lives and state of affairs as if they are in your circle of friends?
• Do you find yourself wondering about how long they have left in rehab, if they’ve gone ahead with buying that glamorous pad in the Hollywood hills or if they’ve had their baby yet?
• Do you find yourself influenced by celebrities and/or their characters on TV even if miniscule? e.g. On the famously successful sitcom Friends, the character Rachel Green played by Jennifer Aniston gave birth to a baby girl and named her Emma. Not only was the name copied by thousands of women due to give birth shortly after the high rating episode, but in the lead up, opinion polls guessing the yet to be revealed name appeared on chat shows, in newspapers and radio shows.

If you sheepishly answered yes to most of these it shows that we not only know much about fictional television characters, but we know way too much about their off screen lives than we ought to. For instance, what stage of the rehab program they’re up to, how much they paid for their house, what rifts are hurting their family members, what state their relationships are in, the secret demons they struggle with, when their first baby is due, if they’re hoping for a boy or a girl, what names they are thinking of choosing, what hospital they are delivering at, who visits them, what gifts the baby received, etc. The list could go on.

I made a video a few years ago of my daughter and asked her a stack of questions. She answered most of them exactly how I assumed she would, but with a few of them she really surprised me. I realised that I actually didn’t know as much as I could have about my own daughter.

Think of all the members of your family. How well do you really know them? How often do you sit down and have a real conversation with them? Most conversations can be reduced to a pile of questions about the day and orders before bedtime if we’re not careful.

I would hate to think that I am closer to Posh Spice or Jude Law (hold that thought…) than I am with my own extended family just because I pay more attention to what magazines write about them.

Here are some suggestions for finding out more about those in your world. I am sure there are a million other ways, but try these if you like:

• Interview your children and record it. Write down your questions before hand.
• Get your kids to interview you. This in itself will be interesting as most children only ask questions that directly impact them.
• Write a questionnaire as part of a family night activity. Most kids love talking about themselves. Throw in some funny questions to keep it light and less like filling out a visa application.
• Try going around the dinner table and pose scenarios to everyone. This gives you insight into how your children think and what their true gauge on life is. e.g. What would you do in such and such situation?
• Email everyone in your extended family and fun questionnaire and ask them to respond within a certain time frame. Date, copy and bind them all and send everyone a copy. Not only will you know much more about each other and have printed family tree history, you might even find you have more in common with each other than just a last name.

Let us know how you go.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blah, Blah, Blah......

Hey everyone I hope you are all well.

Over the past 12 - 18 months I have been listening intently to every conversation I have had and I've noticed an increase in the use of the word BLAH. It is usually used in a sentance with teenagers and young adults giving you detail about a converstation they have had with someone else.

Conversations that go something like this:

"So I was talking to (so-and-so) yesterday and they were telling me that they went to work and blah, blah, blah, and when she got there her manager was in a horrible mood and decided to let her have it." He was all like, "why aren't you here 5 minutes before your shift starts and blah, blah, blah." and she was like, "well why should I, I'm here ontime and ready aren't I and blah, blah, blah."
"My teacher was so mad at me today." She was like, "where's your homework, blah, blah, blah," and I said, "well I didn't know it had to be done today, blah, blah, blah so I'll bring it tomorrow." She was like, "You better, blah, blah, blah."

My question is.....what is the blah, blah, blah. I'm beginning to believe that there is something in the blah's of our conversations and as parents it's our job to draw that information out of our children. Perhaps we need to increase our level of conversation in terms of vocabulary. Maybe there's nothing in the blah, blah, blah's however I can't help but see that we are missing large chunks of stories and information that will assist us in our guidance and wisdom as we parent.

As a child, teenager and young adult I wasn't allowed to say words like Ain't, Idiot, Mental, or any profanities (that my parents heard anyway) and if caught doing so I knew about it. My parents stressed strong verbal communication and I know that I am a better communicator, both verbal and non-verbal because they didn't put up with slack or lazy communication methods. As a parent myself my husband and I do not accept many slang terms in our home or things like:

- It's pardon me? Not what?
- Crossing of the arms
- Rolling of the eyeswhat (mum's be careful, kids usually pick this up from the women in the house....keep your eyeballs locked in position and use self control).

These are a few of the many things we do in our home to develop strong communication skills that will last a lifetime.

Speak to everyone in your home like you would like to be spoken to, lead the way (even when it's hard and your frustrated or at times hurt). Respect each other as learned individuals and pull out the mystery that I believe is in the blah, blah, blah's of our conversations.

Take care, stay well, stay happy and love one another.

Susan xoxo

Monday, October 01, 2007


One of Australia’s most loved places to shop for a bargain is the humble garage sale or better known as yard sale to our North American friends. You know the drill; rummage through everything you own and sort them into two main piles…sale worthy and garbage worthy items, then sell them for a nail biting fraction of the price.

Last weekend, after a week of fierce spring cleaning, I set up my garage into a makeshift store with all manner of things from old cd’s to furniture. I even managed to pry some old stuffed toys from my bowerbird of a daughter. She eventually came around to my ruthless ways, but got a little too excited and started clearing out half of her wardrobe. Noticing her gusto and realising she now only possessed a swimming costume, her school uniform and a few t-shirts, I gently explained to her that this was not a charity for the homeless and that she might want to wear something other than her school uniform throughout the summer holidays. With an ‘oh yeah’ and a sigh, she dutifully hung up her now wrinkled clothes.

Needing a display table I hauled in the outdoor setting complete with umbrella to look like a market. I worked really well, however, next time I think I’ll just stick a ‘sold’ sticker on it to save my breath. With the garage all set-up and hand painted sheets of cardboard taped to telegraph poles heralding our new store, we were ready for customers. Much to my flat mate’s annoyance I hauled the stereo into the garage and played ‘customer friendly’ music (on repeat). Hey, who doesn’t like Buena Vista Social Club?

People meandered in and out all day and found a hundred and one little bargains. My daughter and my little sister stood out the front waving signs they painted, slurped on ice blocks and brought in many more customers. They just loved being part of the entire process. In one weekend they learned advertising, setting up, pricing, selling, customer service, barter negotiation, seeing the job through and cleaning up, and all with a reward at the end for their hard work.

We sold much more than we anticipated, however, with so much still to go, we are holding another one this weekend. My gorgeous grandma and aunty are already thinking of what they can get rid of to add to the mix. I was surprised at the amount of Christmas spending money that was tied up in old forgotten knick knacks around the house. Get moving and clear out that attic, that spare room, that GARAGE and have a spring clean with a pleasant return. Not only will you make a small fortune and meet new people in your neighbourhood, you will have an entire day with one goal that the whole family can work towards together.



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