Friday, 30 December 2011

The Way to a Mother's Heart is.....

This year I spent Christmas with GrumpyDaddy's family. We enjoyed a relatively quiet traditional English Christmas, the first since the passing of the family patriarch. It was now GrumpyDaddy, sitting at the head of the table lighting the Christmas pudding (with a little more brandy I think....)

GrumpyDaddy's brother, UncleJ also came to Sydney to celebrate Christmas. He lives on the other side of the country, in WA. I had only met him briefly before at family gatherings. I never guessed that he would give me such a special Christmas present!

UncleJ, spent his Christmas holiday playing with his nieces and nephew... My children. He was available, cheerful and willing to draw endless pictures for the girls to colour in. He took the kids into the city and to the Harbour for the start of the Sydney to Hobart  race. On Christmas day he patiently helped them complete all the craft activities they had received and launched Buster’s sling-shot approximately 3200 times. UncleJ also played Christmas carols on the piano and never seemed to tire of the girls (and me!) singing in ‘harmony’!

He slept in the room with the Christmas tree and didn't complain when he was woken extraordinarily early on Christmas morning by an excited and loud bunch of children...a feat made even more impressive as his body clock was actually 4 hours behind ours making it 1am WA time.

UncleJ has certainly won the hearts of my children. After he returned home, busters first waking words were “....UncleJ back yet please???....” They got so much out of having the attention of another adult. I think that UncleJ got quite a lot out of giving so much of his self to the children as well. He really seemed to be enjoying himself!

I am now spending the new-year period with my family…my children are having a fantastic time playing with their cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles….I am really understanding that it takes a village to raise a child.

Today is the last day of 2011. Now is the time for a little introspection, reflection and the setting of new goals and resolutions. After being inspired by UncleJ one of my goals for 2012 is to spend more time with children. Not just my own children but my nephews and nieces. I’m going to make more of an effort to interact with the kids at the school and in sporting groups.

I think that doing this will have a great benefit to the kids I know, and for myself. Everyone remembers that special teacher, coach or family member that listened to them, motivated and inspired them. Playing with children can create such a strong bond. But don't just consider your own children. You can also touch the lives of other children in your extended family. Volunteering to help at sports and youth clubs can be another way of really benefiting children and playing a part in their lives.

So, in answer to the question posted in the title… the way to a mother’s heart is…

…… through her children.

 However, one way to a childs heart is playing with them and spending real quality time talking to them and being with them.

For me, this Christmas and new year period has inspired me to refocus on the children in my life. I have also received a very special gift this year….

…I have gained another brother.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Wordless Holidays: The Sporty Kids Christmas

While we are on holidays, I thought I'd use a few stolen moments of borrowed computer time to post a few pictures....

Santa thought long and hard about a present to choose for the Sporty Kids. He was looking for something  fun to keep them active and fit over the summer holidays.......Rollerblades (in-line skates) seemed like a great idea! It took a bit of practise, small amounts of frustration and a little  persistence. However, the kids soon started to get the idea.......

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy (Summer) Holidays

"Snow" man

(Christmas) Food Friday

In honor of the holidays I've put a few pictures together of my kids having fun with their Christmas treats....and I'm linking up with the Moiderer who has made an awesome gluten free gingerbread house!!

It's not too late to make some cookies for the fat man when he comes down the washed down with a tall glass of cold milk! (or perhaps something a wee bit stronger...)

Yummy, Easy Butter Biscuits

125g butter softened (I use low fat margarine, because I can't help myself.... and the biscuits turn out fine)
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 1/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Beat butter and sifted sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and changed to a lighter colour (not too long as the biscuits get too soft).
  • Stir in the flour.
  • Turn out dough and knead lightly on a floured surface until smooth.
  • Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for about 1/2 hour until firm.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  • Roll out dough and cut with festive cookie cutters.
  • Use a small, round shape to cut a hole in the cookies, add a boiled lollies to the hole
  • Bake biscuits for 10 minutes or until browned lightly.
  • Transfer onto a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Thankful for Blogging and The Leibster Awards… and an Idea!

Yesterday I discovered some very pleasant news. The lovely Yvette from Delightfully Tacky Lil Squirts squirts has passed a Leibster award on to me!!!

*Ta Daaa*

‘Leibster’ is German for ‘dearest’ and there is a great description of it here on The Bling Buoy.   The award is given  to inspirational bloggers with less than 200 Followers. It is now my task to pass the award on to five bloggers.

I have been blogging now for almost 2 months! I wasn’t sure what to expect from this adventure. So far I have experienced a few up and downs but today has definitely been an up! you see, to be included in the Leibster process has demonstrated to me that I have started to make connections and friends in this wonderful place called the Blogosphere….and this is what I am extremely thankful for.

I have a small group of followers that I am specially grateful for and appreciate very much….Thank you!!

I have really enjoyed reading the blogs of others and I have learnt so much, not just about you, but about me! I have also really enjoyed the process of writing, and have been able to better understand myself and build my character!

For me, it is a similar experience to when I moved from a small country town and started University. I was amazed that there were others like me who loved science and learning. Through blogging, I have welcomed support from other SAHMs. I have almost felt a part of the day-to –day struggles of other family’s raising children, especially children  with a special need, like dispraxia or autism . I have also been able to connect with other youth sports parents who are equally passionate abut their child’s participation in sport. I have even had people try some of my recipes and had some of my posts included in online papers! I have really begun to feel part of these on-line communities.

Since it is almost the end of the year, I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude to those who have read or commented on my posts. A big thank you too to those bloggers who have replied to my comments. I appreciate that everyone is very busy, but as a newbie blogger,  it is really nice when somebody takes the time to comment or reply to one of my comments.

I would also like to thank the bloggers that have included me in their link-ups. Your buttons are all proudly displayed on my side bar!! This as been the biggest factor that has made me feel a part of this terrific online community.

I’ll just finish by putting out there an idea that I have for next year. I have started a ‘Youth Sports Saturday’ where I will write about a particular aspect of youth sport or tell you about the experiences of my children in their week-end sport. I was wondering if anyone would be interested in linking up and sharing stories of their children’s sporting endeavors over the week-end. These posts could take the form of a story describing a sporting or dance event, or some sports action shots or videos. Even a physical activity  that is not an organized sport such as bush walking, running around at the playground or kicking the footy in the back garden!

 Kids often work hard and with so much enthusiasm with their sport. It would be great to create a community where people could share their and their children’s passion for sport. I hope that this might act to inspire and motivate parents to get their kids participation in an active lifestyle. I honestly believe that being involved in a spot or physical activity is of tremendous heath, educational and social benefits to children. Wouldn’t this be a great way to recognize and encourage them in this??

Please let me know if you are interested in sharing your children adventures in sport or physical activity….wherever you are in the world. I hope to get this up and running (!) early next year.

Now its time for me to pass on the Leibster award.

Part of the process is to:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it you.
2. Reveal your five blogger picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that people you have sent the award to forward it on to their favorite bloggers.

 Although I have only been bloging for a very short time, I have really enjoyed reading these wonderful blogs and interacting on the comments. I offer you my heartfelt  Thank you for welcoming me to the blogosphere and for the friendship you have extended to me!

VB    @ fitmum 
Elizabeth @xmomof2    
Rhianna @ A Parenting Life

I have linked this post to Kate at Kate Says Stuff  for Thankful Thursday, come an see what the other wonderful bloggers are grateful for!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011

Heading Back Home

As I write this, the Sporty Family is preparing for our road trip to Sydney, and then on to the Far North Coast of New South Wales….Where I grew-up.

Part of me loves going home. I just love spending time with my family and I love the more laid-back life-style. The kids get to run around barefoot with their cousins and spend all day in the neighbors swimming pool. We go to the stunningly beautiful rainforests and the deserted beaches that stretch on and on for kilometers. My children  get to experience what it was like for me growing up.

Maybe it’s the humidity or the warmer, more tropical climate, but the sky looks different, the air feels different. You can hear the buzzing of the cicadas, the croaking of the frogs cane toads and the cars revving up the street. You can smell the Christmas beetles in the breeze, the mangos ripening on the trees and the unmistakable sent of the meat works burning off the cow hides……home.

But there is one mostly psychological reason that I don’t like going back to my childhood home. When I was at high school I had big dreams. I wanted to change the world, cure cancer. I wanted to be successful….rich and famous, and a Nobel prize was on the to-do list  too! I would fantasise abut driving down the main street in a red convertible to demonstrate just how successful I’d become…I wonder if anyone else has dreamed of doing the dame thing.

The reality is, as always, in stark contrast to my fantasy world. Although I have achieved my aim of completing a PhD in medical research, I haven’t quite cured cancer. I have also made the choice to give up my career and be a SAHM for my three children. I have been out of the work force for almost 9 years. Now that my youngest is approaching school age, I have been thinking about returning to work. But after being away from science for that long I’m not sure if I could or want to go back.

I have also given away my music, which was such a large part of my life at school.

In short, when I return back home I almost feel like a failure.

 I am again, that girl at school who was dared to eat Perkins Paste…and did!. Items on my to-do list now include shopping, cleaning, and bathing. Somehow the jobs of playgroup coordinator, unpaid neighborhood music teacher and speech therapist , taxi driver, cleaner and cook are not really worth mentioning when I run into an old class mates and I am asked the inevitable question…

“…so what are you doing now??…”

Another reason for my hesitation in going back to my home town is a little ironic. You see, at high school I just couldn’t wait to get away from that place. But now, when I am back in my new home city I find myself lonely, lost and longing for my family back in my old home town. I feel in a ‘funk’ for several weeks as I get used to being on my own again. I wonder what the ‘high-school me’ would think about that??

I have heard it said, I think from a movie, that…

“…When you go back to a place that remains unchanged you find out how much you yourself have changed….”

I think that this statement sums up how I feel, because I have changed. I am no longer the self obsessed high school kid I once was full of idealistic dreams to change the world. I now have my children. My priorities have changed and I will now do whatever I can to help them realize their dreams.

I can’t help feeling though that I have too easily given my dreams away…..

I’m wondering if there are any other mums who feel a little like that??

....And, because It's Tuesday, I'm linking up with Jess from Diary Of A SAHM for #IBOT. Come over and have a look at all the wonderful posts!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Girl Time On A Wonderful Summer Weekend

Today I’m linking up with Sonia from Life Love and Hiccups for wonderful weekends because this weekend was truly Wonderful!

The weather was finally worthy enough to be called summer, so the girls and I went to the water slide park.

We all had such a great day! The girls had so much fun on the slides, they laughed and squealed, finishing each slide with……


I had a ball too because secretly, I really like shooting down those twisty twirly slides with the wind in my hair and my heart in my throat…especially if you go down on your tummy! 

 But by far and away, the best part of the day was that we just really enjoyed each others company! Usually much of my time is spent focusing on and looking after my demanding 4 year old son Buster. But today, it was so nice to spend a day with just us girls…..

The Gymnastics Christmas Cup

Today was the ‘Christmas Cup’. A mostly relaxed and fun in-house event held at our Gymnastics Club. The girls were very nervous and excited about competing. I thought that I was very ‘clever’ in fashioning a balance beam for them to practice their hand-stands on prior to the competition…..Squashed Christmas paper rolls sticky-taped together. The girls have been practicing on it every spare moment they have!

My 7 year old daughter, Muscles,  just loves gymnastics and is in the National Level 2 program and trains 6 hours/week (There is more here). I haven’t seen her compete in a few months and was completely blown away by her strength and skill improvement.

Unfortunately, and despite all her practice on my work of art, she……

…..fell off the beam…..

To her credit, she got right back up and completed her routine with some very nice jumps. She didn’t end-up placing in the competition. I think she would have if she had not fallen. Gymnastics can be a cruel sport in that you can do brilliantly at your skill, but loose an entire point for one mistake.

She very disappointed not to win a ribbon. I however, am not disappointed. I am so proud of my little girl and her determination to do gymnastics. I just love to watch her, although it is hard, as a mum,  to see her fall and be powerless to help her. I am also struggling to find the words to make her feel better about not placing in the competition today….I guess mums, as much as we want to, can’t fix everything!

I hope today will eventually teach her some valuable lessons in resilience. Not just for gymnastics but for life in general…..when you fall down, you’ve just got to get right back up there and try again!!

My older daughter Flash, 8 also does gymnastics but only recreationally, training 1.5hrs/week. Flash also competed in the Christmas Cup.

Flash mostly does gymnastics because it is a fun way to develop full body strength. She trains heavily for swimming and also competes at a high level in athletics. I hope doing gymnastics will help her to develop all round strength and balance that will aid her in her other sports. I also hope that the gymnastics work will strengthen her whole body and act to counteract overuse injuries from swimming and running.

Almost ironically, Flash fell from the beam during her routine as well. ……The girls beam work was jinxed today….Perhaps I need to go back to the drawing board for practice balance beam design!

*I have just double checked the scores on Muscles score card and there seems to have been an error of addition. Her overall score was recorded as  34.9 but it should be 35.9……will check with the coaches tomorrow. Perhaps she will win a precious ribbon after all!

** (added 19/12/11) Took Muscles to her gym training this afternoon and there was a 3rd place ribbon waiting for her. You should have seen her smile!! (don’t worry, the lovely little girl who was given 3rd on the day, got to keep her ribbon…we told them the girls got equal third J)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Saturday Sport: Ugly Sports Parents

In our Sporty Family, much of the weekends are often devoted to sport. So, on Saturdays I thought I’d write a Youth Sports post. Today I thought I’d write about a particular species of sports parent that I have seen week in and week out…..the ugly sports parent. I am not making any comments about fashion (except to say that leggings are indeed not pants!) ….By the term ugly, I am referring to their down right ugly behavior.

Everyone is aware of the ugly sports parent cliché. The parent who stands on the side-lines shouting, screaming or abusing their child, their child’s team, or the opposition. Sometimes even the officials receive this treatment as well including the coaches, managers and referees.

One particular incident I have witnessed was after one of  my daughters away soccer games. After the game, the teams must line up and shake each others hands. One particularly petulant little boy from the other team neglected to shake  the had of a boy in my daughters team and chose to use his knee to render his aggression upon our boy’s groin.

Understandably, the father of our boy, our coach and the referee went to speak to the opposing team officials. Meanwhile, our guys were sitting together on the grass with their fruit and water. Much to our surprise, the father of the kneeing boy from the other team approached the kids and began to loudly ridicule them for their uniform. He jeeringly mocked
…”Oh, look at those beautiful uniforms with those names written so neatly on your backs…”

He dropped the ‘f’-bomb’ on a number of occasions as he continued his diatribe about the kids being rich and privileged.

All of us were completely dumbfounded, until one of our dads politely asked the man to leave. I should say I was impressed by our dad's considerable restraint. We were left in disbelief that a father of another child would say such things to a group of kids.

I admit that sometimes I have lost a little self control at my children’s sporting events. I have cheered very loudly from the side-lines and whooped with delight when they have been successful. However, I have been making a real effort to control this behavior because I am worried that it could embarrass, pressure or negatively effect my kids. Not to mention that the other parents think that I’m one of those ‘crazy’ ones.

I have discovered what helps me the most is to film or photograph the event. This way I need to keep myself contained so that I don’t ruin the shot. Also, I find that viewing the event from behind the camera lens stops me from getting too caught up in the moment of the event and forces me to see the event from a more distanced perspective………prepare yourselves for lots of photos!

I have never, however, criticised or berated my children, their team, the opposition or officials. I have trouble understanding why some parents do this. Is it because they too have been caught up in the moment and this is there way of ‘encouraging’ their children? Or are they trying to re-live their days of sporting glory (or lack of it) through their children. Whatever the reason,  Do these abusive parents believe that they are actually helping their child??

I do not believe that abuse or aggressive behavior of any kind helps the child. The motivation for sporting success must come from the child,  an internal drive. The motivation should certainly not come from parental pressure, shouted from the sidelines The bad behavior also must act as a very poor role model for the kids, who may copy this behavior themselves.

Recently, the referees from one of the local football codes went on strike and all games for that weekend were cancelled. the reason for the strike action was because they felt they could no longer tolerate the bad behavior and disrespect. Not just from the children, but from the parents as well.

I teach my children that the referee must be respected on all occasions, even if my child believes they are wrong. I am also constantly telling them that the most important thing is for them to put in their best effort, regardless of the final result. I have tried to instill in them the habit of  congratulating and thanking the other competitors, also no matter what the result.

I have spoken to my children about these things many, many times. But I think the best way of teaching them these values is to lead by example. I will to do my up-most to be a positive role model for my children. For the sake of our children and their future in sport,  I implore all other Youth Sports parents to undertake to do the same!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Food Friday: Prawns With Ginger and Chilli Spice Paste

Thank goodness it’s Friday! The whirlwind that is my life slows down ….just a little. I can look forward to some time playing in the kitchen, creating something yummy for my family to try. I’ve decided to feature one of my favorite recipes each Friday night, in preparation and inspiration for the long-awaited week-end. I also have an exciting guest post up my sleeve!!

At the beginning of summer, our meals change from the warming winter staples such as slow cooker casseroles, soups and oven roasted dishes to meals with a lighter fresher feel. Asian inspired flavors  are perfect for this time of year. It’s like a wake-up call for your taste buds to highlight that summer is here.

This simple quick, fresh spice paste gives a tasty zing and freshness, just the thing for summer. It’s perfect for  prawns, or white fish fillets. I love to add a variety of fresh colorful vegetables and herbs from the garden to make the perfect summer feast!

… all we need is for summer to actually get warmer than winter……

For the spice paste

2 tablespoons of  peeled and chopped fresh ginger,
4 cloves of garlic chopped,
1 tablespoon of ground turmeric,
½ small red chili pepper, de-seeded and chopped,
2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar.

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz to form a paste

About 2 cups of fresh vegetables, julienne, or sliced thinly
(For example carrot, zucchini capsicum, asparagus, snow peas, snap peas),
1 red onion, sliced,
2 tomatoes chopped,
¼- ½  cup lite coconut cream,
Black pepper,
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander,
Freshly round black pepper,
300 grams  fresh green prawns (or dices white fish fillets), shelled with tails still intact.

  • Warm a little olive oil over a medium-high heat, add vegetables and onion and stir-fry until vegetables are just beginning to soften (about 5 minutes).
  • Add spice paste and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add prawns and stir-fry until they just turn pink.
  • Stir in tomatoes and cook until soft (about 2 minutes).
  • Add coconut cream and cook for a further 5 minutes on low heat until the sauce thickens slightly and the and the prawns are tender.
  • Stir though the coriander and season with black pepper.
  • Serve on a bed of jasmine rice

Linking up with My Little Savages to help Mrs Savage get her cooking mojo back!!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Enough With The Testing…Some Speech Therapy Now Please!

Well, after first seeking speech therapy for my 4 year old son Buster at the beginning of this year, he has just today, had his second appointment. As I sit writing this, many  words come to mind to describe how I feel…. frustrated, deflated, helpless, worried, impatient….

Was hoping the dark clouds would be blowing away soon

Today Buster was subjected to a further 2 hours of testing…actually the same test three times over, to determine if he made the same errors each time!!!  Because Buster makes ‘unusual errors’ the therapist seems convinced that he has a structural abnormality in his mouth or nose. About 30min of sticking torches and mirrors up there didn’t reveal anything unusual…except for his gigantic tonsils…..

I tried to respectfully point out our family history of dispraxia, I tried to tell her that my older daughter also had a similar way of speaking, often making the same errors. At the end of the session she says to  me

“…you know what…I think he may be dispraxic……”

In my head, all I could think was  "....well, Doh!! Halleluiah!.....”

Still, she seems determined, almost in a belligerent way, that Buster has a structural issue. I am happy to see a ENT specialist. I have a referral and an appointment (our GP, who has seen my daughters battles, also doubts there is a structural problem). However, the earliest appointment I can get is next March…NEXT MARCH??? Although she didn’t say it outright, I am concerned she will not give Buster any meaningful speech therapy until I have the structural abnormalities issue ruled out.

I just feel so sad for my poor little boy. I can see him trying so hard to be understood, but his mouth just doesn’t seem to do what he wants it to….he was given another appointment in exactly 1 months time…for further testing...........(FFS!)

One thing that I have learned through my experiences with Buster and my daughters speech difficulties is tolerance and compassion. Truly, unless you walk in somebody else’s shoes you really have no idea what the parent and child is actually dealing with or going through.

Just yesterday a mother bought her daughter to Busters class, from another class, for a make-up lesson. The little girl didn’t receive Christmas cards from the other children and had an absolute meltdown. The poor mother was also dealing with 2 other children. The little girl was fighting and screaming not to get in the car, the other mothers drove away as quickly as they could. Although I was worried that I would embarrass her or make her feel awkward or uncomfortable,  I decided to go an see if she needed any help.

What she really needed it seems, was to tell someone that her daughter had been diagnosed with Aspergers  and a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  We ended up speaking and connecting for 10 minutes and I think we both left the preschool feeling much happier and more contented.

I also feel this way when I connect with people online that are going through similar things with dispraxia. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that others have been through what you are going through and can understand that it can be so hard!

I fully realise that there are people dealing with much bigger problems than dispraxia. Although my son hasn’t been diagnosed with autism many of the #YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf hash tag comments on twitter ring true for me and I feel like I am part of a wider community of people that are caring for children with special needs.

From my personal experiences and everything I have learned online,  I have made a pact with myself not to judge, or make assumptions of  parents or children when I catch a glimpse of them in the supermarket, playground or car park. If the situation warrants it, I will do my best to offer assistance and  empathy (even if is turned down) to others instead of  just walking away. By doing this I hope that I can become a better parent for my children and become a better person myself.


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Wordless Wednesday: KynderGym

Today I am presenting my blog post in pictures for Wordless Wednesday. I am linking up with the other wonderful posts at My Little Drummer Boys and at Faith Hope and a Whole Lotta Love.

My 4 year old son Buster is facing the challenge of speaking fluently, He is battling with Dispraxia (Chilhood Apraxia of Speech, see here).  Tomorrow he has his second appointment for further testing and evaluation.

I thought I would show you the joy that he gets from participating in the Gymnastics Austrlia KinderGym program. He doesn't need to talk to do gymnastics like the other kids at gym. You can see from the look on his face just how determined and how much pleasure he gets from this fantastic program. I would highly recommend the KinderGym program as it is great for building strength, coordination, confidence and self esteem. All my children have done this program and my 7 year old daughter, Muscles, is now in the National Gymnastis program here.

candle on the rings...almost...there

Made it!!


Hurry up and take the photo mum!

airborne on the vault

Merry Christmas

Presenting with his medal. Shy but proud!

Monday, 12 December 2011

A Really Great Reason Not To Be A Bully

Let me paint a picture of me in early high school….I had glasses and red hair. My hair was not just red, but it was often cut short like a boy, or done in a very, very bad 80’s style perm.


I was often seen lugging around a saxophone case, about half my size,  to the music rooms or the library…. My favorite places. I spent all my time reading, I was a book worm, a nerd, I deliberately avoided the kids in the playground.

For anyone who has attended high school ever, anywhere, it is no surprise that I was bullied. There was nothing physical involved, just teasing, laughing, pointing….the usual high school stuff. I guess I just came to accept it as a normal, but loathed, part of life at school.

But by the time I had reached senior high school….the ugly duckling had started her transformation.  I had found a best friend and we were inseparable, we gave each other strength. I was not teased for being good at school work anymore, I was actually felt a little respected for being smart. I was chosen for principal roles in school musicals and musical performances that gave me self confidence, and that red hair, …Well, it was now long, thick and wavy, and I realised people actually admired it!

Now it was my turn… the start of year 12 I was flush with an over inflated sense of self importance. We were the leaders of the school. The bosses! We had free study periods and a special room, a different uniform, drivers licenses and a false sense of power.

There was a little girl that had just stated high school. She was small for her age. She was new to the area and she didn’t seem to have any friends. She had a brand new hessian back-pack with her name written in large letters, right on the top in permanent marker, with girly embellishments. She was the perfect target! I reenacted the same treatment that was given to me.

My best friend and I would follow her at school and comment to each other loudly all sorts of nasty things about that girls decorated  backpack.

 We thought we were so clever.

We sarcastically congratulated her for spelling her name correctly. We would ask her what her name was and laugh hysterically at her mute response. I didn’t realise at the time, but  I think we may have terrified that little girl. I don’t think it lasted long. I actually only remember doing this twice.

Although I know what I have written here makes me out to be mean and nasty, this was an isolated incident. I was actually a mostly nice, studious, mature girl at high school. We weren’t really intending to hurt this little girl, we were amusing our selves, experimenting. We soon got bored  of being bullies as we began to concentrate completely on study and boys.

You would have thought that after being bullied myself, I would have more sympathy and compassion for that little girl. I am ashamed to say that any thoughts of  an empathetic nature didn’t cross my mind. I think I felt almost entitled to act that way.

I have read several articles lately where the perpetrators of bullying contact their victims later to apologise. Well I have no need to try and contact this little girl. Yes, she did grow up herself and leave high school, go to university and get married….

…..married  to my little brother!!

Yes, you read that right. That little girl is now my sister-in-law, the aunty of my children and the mother of my niece and nephew.

Does she remember the treatment she received from me?  Hell yes! She will often bring it up when we are reminiscing about or childhoods or with new company. She says she was terrified of us, but also accepted it as a normal part of high school. Because I still feel a little guilty for the way I behaved, she has a great time making me feel bad!!

So there it is, a good reason not to bully….the little girl you bully may end up marrying your brother, and will remind you of your poor behavior for the rest of your life!

I should say that my sister in law and I are now very good friends. We had our first children only one month apart. We have been a tremendous source of support and encouragement for each other. We also have many thing in common such as a love of science, books and learning.

I do not in anyway mean to belittle the impact that bullying can have on a person. I am fully aware that it causes long lasting pain, depression and suicide. Indeed, I have since been the victim of bullying behavior as an adult.  I understand the bullying is still a prevalent issue in the workplace.

I hope that times are changing and that children are being taught more about bullying and its consequences. My children attend a program at school entitled’ bounce back’ where they learn about bullying behavior and strategies to counteract it. My children seem to have much more emotional intelligence than I did as a child.

I hope educational programs such as these will equip my children with the knowledge that bullying is wrong, and not to be tolerated……Not simply accepting of it like my sister–in-law and I did. I tell my children this story and they laugh, but they have learnt, from my example that bullying does have lasting consequences and I can only hope that through learning from my experiences they will make better choices than I did

….while they and their aunty, have a great laugh at my expense!!

Today, for the first time, I'm linking up with Jess from Diary of a SAHM for I blog on Tuesdays .....Thanks Jess, you and your new site are brilliant!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

When Winning Is Not The Most Important Thing

Today was supposed to be the little athletics relay carnival. This is one of my favorite carnivals of the year because It is simply so much fun! Athletics is predominantly an individual event. In the relay carnival the kids compete in teams and this gives a entirely new dimension to the sport. The carnival is held at the Australian Institute of Sport track (shown on my blog background). The kids love to feel like the real grown-up athletes, running on it’s bouncy surface.

Unfortunately the stormy, rainy weather caused a cancellation, much to the dismay of the girls. They had been awake dressed since 5.30am. My daughter, Muscles (7)  was super excited to be running on the AIS track for the first time. I have just now, put a still disappointed little girl into bed with promises of next year…

Last year the relay carnival was a resounding success for my daughter Flash….but not in the way you might be thinking. ….

There is a little girl in Flash’s age group that loves little athletics. She comes to just about every event and her mum is a great organizer and helper. When this little girl runs, she gives it her all and always has a smile on her face, even when she dramatically ‘collapses’ over the finishing line. The other girls are quite happy to drolly inform the alarmed officials…..

 ‘don’t worry…she does that all the time’

In the sprint events, this little girl usually runs last, by quite a long way. This doesn’t seem to bother her in the slightest and we are all very proud when she achieves a personal best. I’ll call her smiley.

Smiley, was on the relay team for the under 8 girls. The girls sat in the stands that morning in nervous anticipation. They discussed tactics and running order. They shared snacks between themselves, played hand-clapping games and eagerly awaited the announcers call. Once given the green light, they shot skipped off hand in hand to the marshalling area.

Flash is used to doing well at athletics (there is more here), but the girls didn’t place. Nevertheless, they cheered, encouraged each other, hugged at the finish and sprinted back to the stands holding their participation ribbons high, smiles wide! Smiley ran happily into the arms of her mum, exhausted and happy saying 

“…did you see me mum??...”

I’ll admit that I was a little worried about how my daughter would react to not doing well. But I was very proud of her that day. Not because of her individual sporting achievements, I was proud of her because of the maturity and sportsmanship she showed. It would have been easy for her to get upset and blame others in the team for not winning. But, there was no sign of any of this kind of behavior.

Later that night, after the carnival, I asked her how she was feeling. I was wondering if she missed or regretted not placing in the relay events. She was the last runner and had impossible distances to make up and I wondered if that had dented her confidence. My daughter just said that she had heaps of fun with her friends. She said it made her feel good that Smiley was so happy. She said that it also felt really good to just run, without having to worry about winning or doing a personal best.

I have always loved the relay carnival because it teaches kids that they are not just focusing on their own achievements and happiness. They are  working for the achievement of the team and the happiness of the team members. Certainly, winning can be a very satisfying and special feeling. However, there is a certain joy and satisfaction to working as part of a team, sharing your successes and failures with others who are as equally committed as you. I have heard that some Olympic level swimmers actually swim better times during the relay events. I wonder if the individual pressure is removed as they focus on something bigger than themselves.

Now I have a new reason to love the relay carnival because it has taught my daughter that sometimes there are more important things than winning. Things like friendship, teamwork, sportsmanship and empathy. As a parent these are important values I would like my children to learn….I think that my daughter has learnt lessons about friendship, personal integrity and respect for others feelings regardless of their athletic ability. I hope she will carry these lessons with her not only  throughout her sporting career, but for the rest of her life

…….She did tell me that she couldn’t wait for the next carnival, the Northside Regionals.. ……

…..that healthy competitive spirit is still there!

Friday, 9 December 2011

On Cooking and my Delicious Lemon Scrolls

Cooking is one of the things I really love to do. It’s just as well too, because another thing that I really love to do is eat. I am not a ‘savory person’ I’ll pass on the crisps….just get me chocolate or something for my sweet tooth! Lately though I’ve been modofing my recipes and making them healthier for my family (see why here)….but not this one though…everyone deserves a treat!

When I am cooking, or baking, I enter the ‘zone’ or the ‘flow’ This is a place in my head where I am calm, relaxed, efficient and focused. The blur of all the things I have to do fades far into the background. I am focusing completely on the task at hand. I am not really thinking about what comes next either, I’ll just do the next step as a natural progression without even really thinking about it. Sometimes it reminds me of the good-old-days in the Lab.

Most of the activities I enjoy take me to this place. This is the place I go in my head when I run, play music or have a nice hot shower. It also happens when I am writing for my blog.
Of all my cooking experiments, there is one thing that has proved to be a crowd pleaser. The most popular treat that I make. The one that everyone asks the recipe for......

…..My lemon scrolls……

A teacher at the girls school tried one of my lemon scrolls and in all honestly, asked me if I had been a Baker before I had children!! Wow!! That is the best possible compliment anyone could ever give me!

These scrolls are so easy to make, but are so yummy! They are a treat that adults can enjoy, as well as the kids. In my SportyMummy way, I would often bake them in the morning to share with the other freezing parents who were standing on the sidelines of the winter soccer game.

Here is my recipe. It makes about 20 small scrolls

300ml water (room temp)
1 egg lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
550g self-raising flour
2 ½  teaspoons yeast

Dribbling icing

½ cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons of milk (to get a good dribbling consistency)

  • For simplicity, I add all the ingredients to the bread maker and set it on dough and come back 70min later. However, I have also mixed the ingredients, turned it out onto a floured surface and kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes…then placed the dough in a large glass bowl, covered with glad wrap and left it to rise in a warm pace for 40 min-1 hr or until doubled in size.

  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface, with a  floured rolling pin to a large rectangle.
  • Spread store bought lemon butter over the dough rectangle. Depending on the brand, you might have to put the jar in the microwave for about 30 seconds to get it to spread. (or you could flog home made lemon butter from your best friend, who also happens to be a professional cake maker!).
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar evenly over the lemon butter.

  • Roll up widthwise and cut into 2cm circles. You might need to experiment to find the right knife. Try a keep the knife clean and coated with flour

  • Place on a tray, lined with baking paper, about 5cm apart, loosely cover with gladwrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 20min.

  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

When cooled a little, combine the glaze ingredients and dribble over the scrolls in a zigg-gag pattern

Note: Lemon seems to be everyone’s favorite, but I have also made many other fillings. You can replace the lemon with:
  • Apple sauce, cinnamon and brown sugar
  • Nutella
  • Apricot jam
  • Strawberry jam
  • Or be creative, give your sweet tooth a surprise!