Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Love Thy Neighbour

My husband and I are currently renting a house in a community that has many young couples/people/families in it. During the school year there are many parties to be had on our street, and during the summer months we're realizing there are far fewer vehicles parked along there.

We've been living in this area for seven months; we started in the basement suite of the house we're now in, and moved upstairs early this year when the opportunity arose. Our neighbours on both sides are fairly young. On one side there are renters as well, both upstairs and downstairs, most of whom we believe to be uni/college students because we don't see too much of them since school's finished up. On the other side is a young couple who are both working and currently five months pregnant! We're friendly with our neighbours on both sides, but don't really have a real relationship with them.

On Sunday, my husband and I were out for most of the day, starting with church in the morning, lunch with the family, and then a bit of time spent with my sister-in-law. When we arrived home in the later afternoon we found our front lawn to be freshly mowed (yum, I love the smell of fresh cut grass!). But who would have mowed our lawn?

My husband's brother headed over to grandma's after lunch to mow her lawn, perhaps he decided to come over to our place afterwards and mow ours as well? Possible, but not likely since we live on the opposite side of town to grandma.
Our neighbour’s lawn was freshly mowed as well ... could it be he?

Sure enough it was.

How's that for loving thy neighbour??? We often quote the "Golden Rule" and are quick to tell others to "love thy neighbor as thyself", but how often do WE actually follow through with what's coming from our mouths?

Our neighbour Mike, who we hardly know, put these phrases into action as he mowed our lawn. Now, we don't have a huge lawn so it wasn't like it was an incredibly straining task for him, yet he still went out of his way to be great neighbour. What an example of what true community should be. Though the relationship maybe isn't there, he showed common ownership, something I think the average person generally overlooks.

We often define community by the relationships we have with one another, but community can also be defined as "a group of people living together in one place, practising common ownership". I think it's about time we started building community, but not just in and around our close relationships, let’s start building good communities around common ownership; around "loving thy neighbour".

Happy community building.


Monday, May 26, 2008

How Green Is Your Trolley

With obesity and obesity related diseases at an all time high and sadly continuing to increase at a rapid rate I decided to re visit an article I wrote for the blog spot on October 30th, 2006.

I first began to think about this article when I was out doing my groceries and was accompanied by a friend. As we walked the isles of the supermarket my girlfriend and I had a funny conversation, she was telling me how she felt proud weaving through the crowded isles with me because my shopping trolley/cart looked so healthy. It was full of fruits and vegetables and wise product choices rather than being loaded down with processed foods, colourful cardboard boxes of prepared dinners, pop, chips and other empty calories.

As we continued gathering everything that was on my list our conversation about the shopping trolley/cart continued. While we spoke I began to notice the other trolleys and began to see what she was seeing. The majority of carts were full of colourful boxes designed to entice our children, clever marketing companies are being paid good money to catch our children at an early age and good old ‘pester power’ takes over (children nagging mum to please buy that sugar coated cereal with marshmallows and a toy), prepared meals that are ready in the microwave in only 60 seconds and promise to make our busy lives easier whilst providing all the necessary dietary need. Then of course there’s the white bread that is whiter than new snow with bold letters screaming out HIGH FIBRE (if only I believed it!). As I processed what I was seeing I was thinking to myself, “no wonder we are experiencing a health crisis relating to obesity, we aren’t caring enough about what we are using to fuel our bodies.” To complete my research during this shopping excursion I almost fell over when I witnessed a fellow shopper, whom I had been observing throughout our conversation, pick up a can of cat food and carefully check the label. I’m sure she just wanted to make sure ‘whiskers’ was getting the right quantities in her little diet however what I found fascinating was that without even a second glance she had
(earlier) thrown in a few boxes of fruit roll ups, diet soda and lucky charms cereal plus other stuff for her family. I think we may have it wrong when the cat is eating better than the children and ourselves….. that’s just my thinking.

I say all of this to encourage you to consider your shopping even more than you do now. Read labels and know what you are putting into your body and those in your care. A good rule of thumb is, if it has more than 5 ingredients it probably needs additional 5-7 ingredients to keep it alive on the shelf for longer than it should be. Also, if you need a bio-chemical degree to even try and understand what it is you’re eating again a good indicator that the product probably isn’t the best for anyone. Personally I think if I can’t pronounce it it isn’t worth ingesting.

So friends fill your trolley with good choices, visit the produce isle and be adventurous, there are so many amazing things that are now available to all of us. Walk with confidence through your favourite supermarket knowing that you are doing the best for your family and yourself by making sure your trolley/cart is vibrant and full of goodness. As always feel free to click through our archives to find great tried and true familyroom recipes that everyone will enjoy.

Now I ask, “How Green Will Your Trolley Be This Week”?

Susan J Sohn

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sleep, sleep, sleep.......anyone interested?

I have had a desire to write a blog about this subject for ages. I have a 13-year-old son called Jacob, who finds it very difficult to go to sleep at night. I have tried many different things to help him, just to name a few I’ve tried oils on his pillow, oils in the shower, drops on his tongue made from Bach flowers plus more….

The other day I was reading an article written by one of our teachers at school. The article said that in a recent sleep study conducted on young people more than 40 percent of students are said to be chronically sleep deprived. In addition, there are now links being drawn between attention deficit disorders and sleep deprivation. The current thought (which actually isn’t current at all, we’ve known this for ages but have chosen to ignore this fact) is that younger children need around ten hours sleep each night while teens need around eight to ten hours of comfortable sleep.

It is recommended that a bedtime routine is useful in establishing regular sleep patterns. We have done this with Jacob and have seen results. I think the routine and the ‘winding down’ help considerably. This is where consistency plays a big role and we all know how important consistency is in parenting.

Things we include in our routine are:
Prayer – praying about the day that is now over and the day ahead.
Reading – there is nothing more soothing for a child than the quiet lull of a parents voice reading a calming story. Action type books or high intensity isn’t what you’re looking for here, rather a relaxing type of book.
Shower or Bath – we all know that a shower or a bath and clean jammies and bed linen help all of us sleep better. Do whatever you can to make sure the bedroom is comfortable and relaxing.

Another thing the article pointed out was that children or young people SHOULD NOT have access to mobile phones, computers or televisions in their bedrooms (a familyroom message for sure!). Not only will this keep them awake and disrupt their sleep it is also very unwise to give anyone unlimited, unsupervised access to these communication tools. Leaving these out of the bedroom helps with the ‘unwinding’ and gives space and time to calm down encouraging proper rest. You may find that you will need to teach your child to unwind. Many children and young people these days are juggling schedules that are beyond their years. They may need your help to learn how to be still and allow themselves to be calm, body, soul and spirit.

In this day and age being still and calming down isn’t something young people associate with, they are used to highly charged video games, energy drinks, text messaging at the speed of light and carrying on 4-5 online conversations at one time whilst doing their homework. Times have changed so much it is our responsibility as parents to learn how to help and teach our children to calm down, it won’t come naturally to them in this electronic, moment by moment world.

There are pressures put on our children that we didn’t grow up with. Gone are the days of getting up in the morning, putting on whatever clothing is close enough and semi clean looking and learning how to ride bikes with no arms. Today our children are taking tests to get into schools, calling each other to find out how to get to the next level on a computer game, watching their computer screens to see who’s speaking to who and what’s happening online rather than outside their front door. It truly is a new day and a time when our children are preparing for jobs and occupations that don’t even exist right now. We can’t even visualise the future that they will live in.

With that in mind I believe strongly that we need to put tools in their hands and we need to teach them to rest and to find peace in a crazy world. We need to establish strong sleep patterns for them, which helps brain development and contributes greatly to strong healthy bodies, souls and spirits.

We certainly haven’t got it right but we are trying really hard to instil this skill and so many more into our children. If you have any ideas and suggestions that will help those of us who have children who haven’t learned the art of sleeping yet please share ~ after all that’s what thefamilyroom is about. Lastly, Jacob fell asleep on time last night…!

Belinda xx

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Good Check-Up

HI everyone,

A quick chat about health today…

One of the things we know we should do and inevitably as busy mums/moms, neglect, is our health and keeping it monitored.
I want to encourage you to just do it. I have been putting it off and realised that it’s been 2 years since I did anything that was remotely related to looking after my body so I just went all out and did it.

I saw my GP and she checked for lumps in my boobs. I made an appointment to see the skin cancer clinic to get my moles checked out. I made a time for a pap smear and went and had blood tests. This week I’m going to get the results and will learn about my iron and cholesterol status, my blood sugar levels, my vitamin D status (if this is low we don’t absorb calcium properly) and my thyroid.

So there you go....there’s no lumps in places they shouldn’t be, my blood pressure is healthy and even though I’m confident my other tests will be fine, I’ll know for sure once it’s there in black and white. My GP and I had a good old chat about general health and I had the opportunity to chat about the kids and any little things that were niggling.

Now, if something does come up that needs addressing, I will have caught it at a time when hopefully it can be treated well and all will be fine. But I would hate to neglect my health and be told….Well if we’d just caught it earlier…

Your life is too valuable to gamble with…make an appointment and be proactive with your health today. Also, have a listen to our familyroom Podcasts where we cover essential health issues.

Lv Jane

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Big Picture and the Small Details

I'm old enough to remember listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. His signoff was always significant to me "Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars." It's a big tangential but related to this post. Because when you look down at your feet, it's not very far away, it's right beneath you. You can see the detail. When you reach for the stars though, it's expansive, limitless, and requires a telescope to see the details.

I told my wife the other day, after a particularly bad decision I made. Please regularly ask me these two questions:

1) Are you keeping the Big Picture in mind?
2) Do you know all the Small Details?

As it has been said, "You need to know where you are going, to figure out how you are going to get there." I'm good at the Big Picture. Projecting, framing, conceptualizing. I'm also pretty good at Small Details. The minutae, the legalese, the things that can trip you up. But I'm sometimes not so good at keeping those two in balance, and context. I can easily get lost in the visioneering, or bogged down in the small details. So I'm happy that I have a wife who will keep me accountable to these two questions, which really help me make decisions, and proceed with my everyday.

After all, its the daily decisions we make that have a cumulative effect of our life's outcome, in technicolor dynamic real-time.

So ask yourself the two questions I posed above and have a good think.


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