Thursday, February 28, 2008

Something New and Quick

Hey all hope your day is going well and if it's just started I hope it's a great one!

I've struggled today wondering what to post on the blog and have only now, at 11:52 am, realized what it is that I should write about. So friends today is super simple, it's short but it's good (at least I think so anyway)!

Today I want to encourage you to do a few things and they are:

1) Do something new: That's right, do something that you've never done before. What could that be? Cook something different for dinner, learn a new word and use it, learn about a country or people group that you know nothing about, listen to different music. I say this because I think it's important that we continue to grow and expand and learning is a great way to do that. Challenge your brain a little today.

2) Do something that scares you: Yes, step out into the 'scary, where fear and trembling happen and your palms sweat'. How can you do this? Call someone who has been on your mind and just let them know you've been thinking about them. This could be, and most probably will be, someone you don't usually talk to (that's the scary part) and at the risk of sounding silly know that you are letting them know they matter. Take a risk to believe the impossible because believing means you're half way there.

3) Love more: Change the worlds of those around you simply by showing your love more today than you have in the past. Surprise everyone with a little more.

That's all, three simple things that are inexpensive but perhaps costly emotionally and stretching personally. You can do this and can you imagine if all of us reading this did it ~ the world would be a different place.

We love you and believe in you. Remember to share your stories with us.

Susan J. Sohn

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Today He's 40!

Today is a big day for our family, it is my hubby’s birthday and he is 40 and I'm almost speechless. Where have the years gone? It's almost like yesterday we were standing at the altar saying 'I do' and in a blink our first was born, quick on her heels our second and then like a flash our baby and now 40 years old.

I’ve found myself smiling today, almost breaking out into laughter realizing that my man is 40. I’ve almost had to pinch myself in order to wake up from this dream I seem to be in. He’s 40 and I honestly believe we are entering into some of the best years of our life. We’ve said good bye to the early years of marriage, nappies, most sleepless nights, diaper rash and all the rest that we all know so well.

What’s really funny about Philip’s birthday is that last night our family went out for a quick meal and both Philip and I were asked for ID when ordering a glass of wine with dinner. We both looked at each other, had a giggle and eagerly handed over our ID. Once the waiter realized our ages he was quick to ask what kind of diet we were on and what was in the water we were drinking. He told us that he thought Philip was around 27 and me 25 and wasn’t convinced our 3 children could be ours.......very funny and needless to say rather uplifting.

What does 40 look like in our house? A fit, healthy man who loves God, his wife, children, family and friends. He is kind, gentle and very funny, he is firm and affirming. He is strong and loving and he can laugh at himself. He lights up the room with his smile and his children and wife adore him. He is business minded but is generously seasoned with creativity. He loves to snowboard, skateboard, play poker with friends, sing for hours and loves a good game of chess. He is adventurous and spontaneous yet extremely well planned. Simply put, “He makes 40 look great”!

I will sign off today with a word of encouragement to those of you who have already reached this milestone, stay strong, keep running the race and run well. For those of you who are closing in on 40 get excited because from what I can see it only gets better. For me I’m excited today because I can see a few gray hairs and a few tiny wrinkles that remind me how divine my hubby is and how the years of good, hard and otherwise have shaped him and prepared him for the years ahead.

Truly life begins at 40!!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Five Love Languages of Children - Book Review

I am currently in the grip of reading ‘The Five Love Languages of Children’ by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, which is fantastic it's almost like I'm having a personal revelation regarding my children!

In the book, they talk about kids needing Quality time, Words of affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical touch. Each child obviously needs all of these but will respond to one or two more than others. I’m not going to say much about the book because I truly believe that every parent should read, it's a MUST read really. All I will say is that I love the idea that we are able to find what melts our kids hearts best and approach them from that angle. We are we are seeing amazing results.

I know with my kids, time to laugh and play and talk is so important. Also something simple like making their beds (they usually have to do it themselves), cleaning their rooms and leaving a little 'something special' like a flower in my daughters room or a treat for my son causes them to respond beautifully ~ Acts of Service speaks volumes to their little hearts, minds and souls. Another thing I do occasionally is pop notes in their lunch boxes or bags and leave goofy letters in lipstick on the bathroom mirror just for fun. Simple things!!!

Recently, due to work and other influences my life is becoming increasingly busy and I am finding it a real challenge to pull everything together. Through this book I have been inspired to get back to what’s important and give my kids time and time that is focussed on making them blossom and flourish.

The other day we were riding our bikes and my daughter asked (actually yelled at) her brother to go on ahead which he eventually did. She and I then chatted about school and this and that, then she came out with some great questions that were really private in her little world and I’m so glad I had ears to listen and was available for her at that moment ~ Quality Time.

These little lives are entrusted to us and I want to be the best I can be despite the excuses and all the reasons why it’s too hard.….. I can't encourage you enough to buy or borrow this book, it’s a winner!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Code of Conduct

I heard it said once that if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything. I think that’s an extremely powerful statement. I know in my own life there have been moments and situations that I have been saved from, simply because I knew exactly where I stood personally and at times corporately.

Hearing this statement caused me to consider my life today. I am a wife and mother of three who, together with my husband Philip, are trying to raise strong, confident, compassionate children who will hopefully make a difference in this world. With this in mind I’ve realised that it is incumbent upon Philip and myself to know exactly where we stand and what we believe in so that we can give our children a foundation to stand on.

This brings me to the Code of Conduct, which means ‘a set of conventional principles and expectations that are considered binding on any person who is a member of a particular group’. We need to establish our own, personal Family Code of Conduct, this will allow each person the ability to know exactly what we as families stand for and what the expectations are of everyone in the group/family. The grey is erased, everyone is on solid, common ground and together families can move forward.

I’m not na├»ve enough to think that something like this will save us all from possible heart ache, pain and tears that will be shed over the years. However I do believe that when there is a common goal and a thread that brings us together as families, when we know what we stand for, falling for anything else is a lot harder. When we come face-to-face with the possibility of falling that’s when we hear that still small voice that calls us back and helps us to stand in the midst of craziness, strangeness, darkness and confusion.

Whatever the age of your children or grandchildren talk to them and together; establish your own Family Code of Conduct.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rape.... Information that could save your life!

This email was recently sent to me and I thought I would share it with everyone. This is a delicate subject but like anything else, thefamilyroom chooses to hit things head on. I believe one of our best defenses is to be aware so read on and keep this information locked away somewhere and always pray for safety for your life and the lives of other girls on the planet. It's a little long but there are things in here that I never knew so PLEASE READ.

Through a Rapist’s Eyes

This is important information for females of ALL ages . Guys - please forward to the female members of your family and all your female friends and associates.
When this was sent to me, I was told to forward it to my lady friends. I forwarded it to most everyone in my address book. My men friends have female friends and this information is too important to miss someone. Please pass it along.
A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts :

1) The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun, braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed . They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

2) The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who's clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around specifically to cut clothing.

3) They also look for women on their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

4) Men are most likely to attack & rape in the early morning, between 5:00a.m. and 8:30a.m.

5) The number one place women are abducted from/attacked is grocery store parking lots . Number two is office parking lots/garages. Number three is public restrooms.

6) The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to another location where they don't have to worry about getting caught.

7) Only 2% said they carried weapons because rape carries a 3-5 year sentence but rape with a weapon is 15-20 years.

8) If you p ut up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn't worth it because it will be time-consuming .

9) These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas , or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

Keys are not a deterrent because you have to ge t really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you're not worth it.

10) Several defense mechanisms he taught us are: If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: "I can't believe it is so cold out here", "we're in for a bad winter." Now you've seen their face and could identify them in a line-up; you lose appeal as a target.

11) If someone is coming toward you , hold out your hands in front of you and yell STOP or STAY BACK ! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they'd leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back . Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

12) If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yell I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

13) If someone grabs you, you can't beat them with strength but you can by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm (between the elbow and armpit) OR in the upper inner thigh VERY VERY HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands - the guy needed stitches.

Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it hurts.

14) After the initial hit, always GO for the GROIN. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy's parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you'll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he's out of there.

15) When the guy puts his hands up to you , grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.

16) Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don't dismiss it, go with your instincts!!!

You may feel a little silly at the time, but you'd feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes

As newly-weds, my husband and I found this recipe in a magazine almost 20 years ago, but it still features regularly at our dinner table today. We love the gutsy flavours and simple preparation. Occasionally, we’ve been known to throw in a bunch of baby spinach leaves or dress it up with pancetta instead of bacon, but mostly we come back to the original tried and true.

We’ve long since lost the magazine clipping of the recipe, so the amounts stated below are guess-timates. Don’t be concerned though, add each ingredient to taste and enjoy the variety!

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbs oil
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
300g bacon, diced
3 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of parsley, chopped

Serves 4

1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add enough spaghetti for four people. Cook according to the packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds.

3. Add the bacon and chilli flakes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the bacon is slighlty browned but still soft.

4. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes until they have softened slighlty, but still retain their shape.

5. Add the parsley and stir through.

6. Drain the spaghetti. If your frying pan is big enough, add it to the tomato mixture and stir through. If not, simply heap the spaghetti into pasta bowls and top with the tomatoes.

Serve with a green salad or simply with crusty bread to mop up the sweet tomato juices.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Simple Pleasures

Beads are beautiful.

I love their shapes and sizes, their textures and colours. I love the way they shimmer in the light and turn drabness into drama wherever they are used.

Best of all, I love that creative minds of all ages can transform a disjointed jumble of gems into a wearable work of art in a few moments.

So it was with great delight, I recently heard that a friend had begun beading for charity. Within a few short weeks she had progressed from stringing basic bangles to creating stunning necklaces in eye-catching colours which I know for a fact found their way under many Christmas trees in our village.

When she invited me to join her for a morning, I jumped at the chance, and as we carefully threaded gorgeous glass balls onto long strands of flexible wire, she shared with me her best, and most unexpected, beading discovery.

She revealed that her peaceful pastime had captured the interest of her pre-teen daughter, who had come alongside to join in her charitable pursuit.

As the two crafted necklaces, bangles and earrings, they enjoyed hours of warm conversation covering topics they might otherwise have avoided. A new bond was formed between mother and daughter.

It only takes a few simple tools and techniques to start beading and most of these can be found in any book or magazine on the subject, but as those of us who’ve tried it can testify, it’s a simple pleasure that promises rich rewards.

Have a go!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Hey everyone today is a super quick blog and it's simply to say Happy Valentine's Day to all. I know those of you in the Northern Hemisphere aren't there yet but others are so why not start celebrating early.

I thought I would share a few essential ingredients to create an amazing day/night with your husband, wife or better half.

1) Make sure you let go of the worries from the day.
2) Try and plan something (a familyroom secret.... be organized).
3) Remember to laugh.
4) Remember to tell your date how great they look.
5) Make sure you shower and girls feel free to make 'good' use of a razor.
6) Drink Champagne for no reason at all other than BECAUSE.
7) Don't forget to say 'I Love You'.
8) Wear deodorant.
9) If you're cooking something new ~ keep an eye on the directions/instructions.
10)If you're heading out to a new area print out directions (avoid a domestic at all costs).
11)Give the babysitter a little extra ~ remember, they were alone for the night and probably wishing they weren't.
12)Play tacky 80's love songs.
13)If you're ordering in and pretending you've cooked everything make sure you take the evidence to the outside trash/rubbish.
14)Don't dribble chocolate sauce on your top, keep your head well over your plate.
15)Make sure your breath is fresh.
16)Relax and enjoy your night together.

Have fun and make sure you tell us what you did in our comments section.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone :))))

Susan and Crew

Friday, February 08, 2008

Parenting......the joys of!

Ah the joys of parenting ~ there truly never is a dull moment!

It all seems to start with the unbelievable nappies/diapers, cracked nipples, hormone surges that make you feel 100% insane one moment and on top of the world the next plus the added bonus of left over baby fat that jiggles on your tummy like rising bread dough (that’s one of my favourites). Then of course you move into the biting stage and the screaming in the supermarket followed by the homework in grade 1 (what the heck is that about) science projects in grade 5, the school dance in grade 6 & 7 and then it all begins again in High School with acne issues, hormones again, the sleeping in and everything else that goes along with the teenage years.

Ah the joys of parenting…… I wouldn’t want another job!

Today I thought I would share a special parenting moment with you. My birthday is quickly approaching and I love birthdays. I love celebrating, I love that I have another year under my belt and I love that I feel great and I think I’m looking pretty okay as well ☺!!!! Anyway, my two year old (soon to be three) jumps into bed this morning telling me how much she loves me and how happy she is that I’m her mummy. She cuddles me with all her might, lays a very sloppy morning kiss right on my lips, squeezes me again and with this squeeze tells me, “mummy, you look old”! She kisses me again, jumps over to her dad to tell him how much she loves him then bounces out of bed on a mission to wake the rest of the sleeping family.

Ah the joys of parenting…….. I’ve heard it said that if you want the truth about something ask your children especially your teenagers. With that thought in mind I’ve been telling myself all day that to her looking old has to be a good thing.

I sign off smiling to myself recognising that to my darling daughter I must look very old and in her little mind and heart that’s a good thing.

Have the best day and share some of your parenting moments with us.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Be Informed

In our world of current affair shows, spin doctors and a bad news sells media approach it is difficult to know what to believe or at times where you stand on issues. More and more we are being bombarded by opinions from the so-called ‘experts’ and issues from far and wide makes it all become extremely overwhelming at times.

It would appear that gone are the days when a journalist’s prime motivation and purpose was to reveal the truth and approach every story in an objective manner. With all of this information, becoming somewhat chaotic at times, what does the average Joe do when he wants to get a handle on what is happening in his or her community, city and the world?

From my perspective there are two choices we need to make. The first choice would be to ignore it all and live in a little bubble in your own back yard. To do this you would need to turn off the television and radio plus stop you would have to stop your newspaper and magazine delivery service and for goodness sakes you would have to stay off line! Appealing as this sounds (at times) it probably isn’t the most socially responsible option.

The second choice I believe is to be informed. Know what you stand for and I mean really know what you stand for and why you stand for whatever it is you are standing for (that sounded funny). Read as much as you can, however keep in mind that most of your sources have an agenda so don’t take everything as fact (also the Star or News of the World probably isn’t the most factual of publications….anyone who has watched ‘So I married and Axe Murderer’ knows what I’m talking about). If you feel really strongly about an issue, take action. Write to the person who has influence in the area you are concerned with and let your well thought out, valid thoughts be heard.

Remember, we can all make a difference in this world and we all have a voice.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Walnut and Parsley Pesto

Hi friends, here is a quick and tasty recipe I have developed as an alternative to traditional pesto (hence the slap dash nature of the recipe!).

I find it amazing how we can whip things up from the contents in our kitchen and (at times) our gardens if we have. With a little thought and some charm we can come up with some taste sensations..... Our family enjoyed this one so I thought I would share. Enjoy!


1 cup walnuts (or pecans, macadamias…)
11/2 cups roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
½ cup freshly grated romano cheese
5 cloves garlic roughly chopped
½ teaspoon salt
extra virgin olive oil (about 1/3 cup)

I make this in a food processor by putting all of the ingredients into the bowl and drizzling olive oil in as it whizzes. You know you have enough oil when the mixture is ground (not too smooth!) and saucy.

I serve this sauce with fresh pasta, it's also great on foccacia, baked vegetables or simply as a dip with some baked pita chips or crackers.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Library

I love reading and I truly believe that reading is a crucial ingredient that we need in our make up as individuals and people on this planet. This amazing ingredient has much to do with how we influence our world. Reading opens doors to worlds unknown, it allows our imagination to fly away, it gives opportunity to get lost amidst words that are at times new to us. Reading is so much more that letters formed into words that become sentences that establish paragraphs. Reading introduces us to more than we can really understand.

Here are a few great quotes surrounding reading that I love and thought I would share with everyone:

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
- Dr. Seuss, "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!"

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
- Confucius

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
- Harry S. Truman

This afternoon my three children and I went to the library after school, which a regular activity for our family. I love going to the library and watching my children get lost in the books around them. I’m always interested to see what actually catches their eye. Through books and this easy observance I learn more about my children each visit. My eldest is a voracious reader so we go to ‘keep him fed’. My daughter has only in recent times become interested in books and reading and today she chose a book for her to read and one for me to read to her. My little four year old chose some picture books and videos. I chose Roald Dahl and Horrible Histories talking books for the car. We left extremely satisfied and armed with something new to discover.

If you are library people then keep going, if you aren’t yet I encourage you to include this in your family routine. Libraries aren’t just for ‘bookworms’, they are for everyone and it’s actually a really relaxing way to spend a few hours with your children whatever their age. You may have a teenager who enjoys reading or has a special interest hobby that you don’t know much about or perhaps you’re simply trying to find a way to spend time together. Suggest the Library and you yourself get interested in what they are interested in. It’s amazing how neutral ground can break ground and bring people together. Libraries are also a convenient and economical resource as well as being integral to both our development and our children’s. Do something new and visit yours today I promise you will be surprised at the way they have changed over the will love it.

Annie xx

Monday, February 04, 2008

Parenting with the End in Mind

Hi everyone I hope 2008 is proving to be good to you so far.

Thus far 08 has been unexpected, crazy and great for us as a family. I feel like I’ve strapped on my seatbel and am preparing for the ride! In the midst of this new season I’ve found myself thinking about thefamilyroom, our personal lives and why we care so much about raising great kids, having great marriages and family relationships, or why we would even bother to get on with our neighbours and community (thinking about things beyond the obvious reasons of WHY).

I've come to the conclusion that without a foundation or a reason to work hard at building full lives, it can all become all too hard and we can too easily give in and take the easy road. I have to admit, as a mother of two and a wife, at times it truly is easier to give in to whining or to make a sarcastic comment to your hubby or to simply give the silent treatment and stay there for as long as you can. This is why I believe a foundation with reason is necessary. As Susan always says, “explain the why behind the what.”

I’m currently reading a pretty intense book that was given to me for Christmas. The book is called ‘Parenting for a Peaceful World’. It’s not so much about parenting as it is about why we parent the way we do. It looks at the way people have parented through the ages and how that has brought us today. It shows generations of people both functional and dysfunctional and my gosh so much more.

It is proving to be an interesting read and is challenging some of my thinking. Although I don’t agree with everything written and find it a bit over the top at times, what I have found very interesting is that it has made me go back to basics and think about why I bother to do the things I do. It’s made me think about things like:

What motivates me to be a great mum, wife, friend, and daughter?
Sometimes love isn’t enough….we are innately selfish beings?
Love is often a choice rather than a force or a feeling.

Through this thought pattern and questioning I have learned that I choose to love because I have a foundational belief that my life is bigger than just me. I choose to do the hard things (mostly), work out conflicts and follow through with discipline because I have a goal and purpose. I want to look back on my life and feel that I have been true to my goals and my dreams. An example of this is that I dream of having great adult relationships with my kids. I want to stay close to them, so I need to parent with the end in mind. This thought and dream helps me get through those hard days/moments.

With the above in mind I will throw out a few questions today and hopefully inspire your thinking as well:

What are your beliefs?
What are your goals and dreams for your family and the other significant relationships in your life?
How will you parent/relate to these people to achieve that end?

We’re all on an incredibly journey; I just think the ride is and can be a little easier if we know where we’re going (the general direction anyway) and how we’re going to get there, at least the bigger picture.

We would love to hear some of your goals and dreams for your family (where ever you are on this journey) and how you’re going to get there…any tips along the way are always welcome!

Have a great week
Lv Jane

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Family Tree

Those of you who have been with us for awhile now, know that thefamilyroom crew are constantly thinking of ways to enrich our families lives. After getting my head around some family issues I have been faced with as of late, I started thinking of my family as tree (analytically speaking) and realised there are many similarities to each organism.

Every tree starts out small with intent to grow up and become strong, as does a family. With this in mind, I thought I’d ask myself some basic questions regarding the elements required to keep both a tree and a family healthy.

1. What am I feeding my family? Will it sustain it for the long haul?
2. When the floods of life come along, will my family stand strong?
3. Is my family reproducing itself? And if so, are the offshoots healthy?
4. Is my family’s fruit sweet or sour?
5. Does my family provide shelter and strength for those around us?
6. Are there things in my family that need ‘pruning’ or do I let them hang on?
7. When my family is feeling frail is strong support at the ready to tie it to?

Just a few thoughts. It’s always good to break things down and take stock every once in a while.


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