Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Don't lose your one else wants it!"

Yesterday T came to me before school upset that he had a pile of work that he hadn't finished yet. His goals for the week seemed daunting to him and I think he felt overwhelmed and unsure where to start. We sat and talked for a while about things he might like to do, break it down into 2 pieces each day, bring some home etc. I explained that even now I have to make lists daily for the things I need to do and often I don't finish all the work I set out to achieve. Other things crop up or I get distracted. I think he felt more positive, he certainly seemed happier last night. It is so important to achieve even small things and yesterday I achieved a pose in yoga (Bakasana) for the first time. It was such an achievement. I have only been doing Vinyasa yoga for about a month now and each time I go, I know I have psychologically set myself goals even if I don't acknowledge them out loud. I know I want to push my body that little bit further, that evening, with that goal successfully under my belt, not only do I now feel inspired to practice it more and more, I managed to write 2000 words on my assignment!! Today my goals are far less challenging, but no less important. By setting small targets, it opens up the opportunities to achieve and feel good about oneself.

Recently I read about the power of laughter. Believe it or not, there are some people who run laughter workshops. Now I enjoy a laugh as much as the next man, but the thought of being made to forcibly laugh in a room full of people really puts the bejezus into me! However, I decided whilst driving the children to school yesterday to at the very least try to force myself to smile at nothing. So while I am grimacing (hopefully unobserved by passing motorists!!) this sign appears on the side of the road: "Don't lose your one else wants it!" Well, what fun! I not only smiled but laughed out loud, which in turn caused the children to laugh too.........laughter is infectious! I am not converted however, I will still not stand in a room of chortling hyenas laughing over the fact that there is nothing to laugh about, I AM going to smile today at absolutely nothing, and if I can't think of nothing, I will at least remember that by smiling it will difuse any situation that might drive me crazy with the children!!

Go on........give it a go!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"If you like orange poop!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

What do I have to be thankful for? Well, amongst many, many other things, I am thankful for my family for being guinea pigs to my culinary compositions! and the honesty of my elder son at his chosen times.

Today, like many others, I have decided to "jazz" up the cabbage and the bok choi and have added a twist to the traditional pumpkin pie!
The former two went down well as we sat down to a Thanksgiving meal at the "posh" table. The kids have come to expect great things when we sit down to a meal at that table. We didn't have the traditional bird, instead I did Nigella's 24 hour pork, (requested once a year by my dh!!) which was somewhat cut short by the flipping oven having a 12 hour automatic cut out switch. Hence this morning when I awoke to the somewhat less than aromatic scent of pork, the oven was only luke warm. Not a prob with a smaller cut of hog though...

I am never one, however, to do things simply. To cook a simple, plain pumpkin pie is boring! So I decided to jazz it up, using real pumpkin from our October 31st efforts and then a cross 'tween a lemon meringue attempt, admired the finished product. Served hot with vanilla ice cream, the kids tucked in as I served up some for R. in the kitchen. Thinking he couldn't be heard, my greatest critic responds to his brother's question of "how is it?"

"It's okay...........if you like orange poop that is!"

Bugger! Better stick to the recipe next time!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The world according to children

"What is the sun?"

"I don't exactly know the science, perhaps we can look in that book you have about the sun?"

"Well I know what it is! It is a huge ball of fire."

"That's right!"

"It started off on earth as a planet, then some people put it into a cannon and shot it into the air and it became the sun."

"That is a great idea, we will have to check if it's true."

"No! Maybe it is God"

"Well, some people think he may have created it."

"No! I mean........maybe God is inside it!"

What can I say???

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bloody balloons and "Sober Tooth Tigers"

I love the Bronx Zoo. I don't know why as I am not a fan of caged animals, but this zoo has to be seen to be believed. The drive in in itself is fascinating, you come from the parkway into the Bronx which consists of a lot of high rise flats and marshy areas. You can't really believe how a zoo this big will fit into this area, but it does. It is one of the better educational zoos for the children too, particularly along the lines of conservation of not only the animals but the world. The exhibits are hands on for the children, full of really scary and unerving facts such as every minute 150 acres of rainforest is destroyed!! and the animals are living in large enclosures with many enrichment activities to ensure they are not just "rotting" away. You feel you really are getting your dollar to the right place.

Anyway, we decided to go there today as a treat for I's birthday yesterday. We last went in March this year, so it was actually fun to go when it wasn't so busy and some of the animals were in their winter enclosures inside too and we felt that we really got to see the animals rather than someone's elbow or coiffure!

The boys like to follow the trails and feel like they are stepping into Asia or Africa in the various trails. On this particular visit however, we have noticed a large yellow wildlife warning sign with a picture of a tiger as we approach the tiger mountain; W. yells out at the top of his voice "watch out! Sober tooth tigers are here!!!" of course, we all fell about with the images "jusssh fillllsush up wiv anover!!!"

It has been a somewhat calmer day than yesterday when we were awakened at "stupid hour" by the eldest of our children who wanted the youngest awake opening her presents - not a good start! The day didn't really progress much better. We had to fetch the food from the cafe, then pick up some balloons which I had ordered; whilst in the shop picking up the balloons T decided he wanted a balloon and his granny had said he had to put it back. Minutes later however as I am loading into the car, the shop assistant comes out after us asking us if he would return the balloon - I had no idea he had picked it up again, however, he was making no effort to hide it either!! Whether or not he had meant to steal it or had just expected me to pay for it, either way, he had taken it and he knew he was wrong and I was not happy with him at all. We drove home in a less than somber mood as you can imagine to the dulcet tones of the food thudding down between the seat and the back ledge !!!!%^&**)_*)!!!!!!!! Fortunately nothing was spilled, however, the gorgeous presentation was a little scrambled and my mood was deteriorating further!! I explained to T that as a responsiblity for his actions, he would have to tell his daddy what he did.....which he accepted and did, in the interim I burst one of the frickin' balloons on getting them out of the car grrrr! Well you know me and loud noises.........bloody helium sounds like a shotgun!!

Anyway, the party went ahead without hitches (fortunately!) and R took me out to see Casino Royale later that evening putting me back in a relaxed frame of mind (if not a little racing after seeing Daniel Craig with his kit off yum!)

Finally, what is it about children and telling jokes? T, at 6, is starting to have an interest at the moment in jokes, he is keeping tabs on some fairly funny ones. His newest is: "how does a farmer count his cows?" - "With a cow-culator". Most of the time, he tries to make them up and they lack any form of sense, not to mention humour he also feels obliged to ask "do you get it?" and then proceed to explain the "connection"!!!. His younger brother at 4 is even worse, except for the odd occasion where he may not have gotten the hang of a joke per se, but he can certainly make us laugh. His follow on to T's cow-culator joke was "how does a farmer count his goats?" "with a goat-ulator" All together - "uhhhggghhhh"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mothers, sisters, daughters and girlfriends

What is it with the female species that they have this desperate need, some of them, to stick the needle in and twist? My blog this evening is covering two separate situations, one that is directly affecting my life, the other not so at all, other than I know the "persecutor" and cannot believe she is so shallow.

I suppose the ramble begins with T. and his stage of development. He is having one or two insecurity issues since he started at Elementary this year. I have been working hard to try to hear him out and help him deal with this. It is unfortunately manifesting itself in some rather unwanted behaviours and, if you have any advice, I would gladly listen!!

Ever since he was small and started to interact with other children, he has always gravitated towards girls. He has never been a particuarly testosterone fueled child wanting to play soccer or even ride a bike. He has preferred more sedate activities, reading, lego, his drama club etc. I have had no concerns with this what so ever, other than the fact that I did feel that he may find it hard when he gets older as girls tend to move off on a tangent from boys (and vice versa). After all, boys are smelly and loud (LOL!!!). Girls seem to form more of a tight knit best friend (albeit changeable by the day!) relationship, whereas boys are less this way inclined (this is my general observations, not hard evidence!)

My fears have been somewhat recognised as he is discovering that girls are no longer wanting to "play" with him or hang out with him as much as they used to, yet at the same time, he doesn't always fit in with the sporty bunch, although he seems to have a group of aquaintances who slap him on the back or say "hey" in the corridor (ugg me man!), so I don't feel he is in "isolated geek-dom". The issues of course that he now faces are:

2.lack of understanding of their emotions and in turn having the ability to deal with them, having a totally different brain make up
3.not really knowing where he fits in,

to add to that he has always been the eldest in the class what with the move two years ago too and now suddenly he is the youngest. I don't think in the long run this is going to do him any harm whatsoever, in fact, if he can start to understand this change, it will only serve him well. However, how to help him understand the feminine psyche is another thing altogether!!!!!!!!!

Aside from this, part deux of my situations about girls;

I sometimes log into some of the UK mothering web forums and have done for a few years now, more being nosey, but also as an old friend hangs out there and it has been nice in the past to drop in. However, I have recently been utterly surprised with the behaviour that is starting to become more and more apparent with her. Most recently she seems to have decided to take it upon herself to "out" another mother on the website who has maybe lied, maybe stretched the truth, maybe just feels she needs to convince herself that she is having another boy (her 4th!) when it has been common knowledge that she wants a girl. I don't really care much for the situation and don't feel I am in any position to comment on the pregnant mother's situation having not known her. That said, the "friend" has publically scathed her, called her a liar and is, to be honest, stalking her! I have no idea what is driving her right now other than to say that I am pretty glad she is no longer in my life. Not only that, she has stated that it is innappropriate to lie on public forums to the rest of the "community", having herself in the past, quite blatantly lied and USED that lie, that she is a trained breastfeeding counsellor, (which she isn't). I suppose I am doing no better by talking about it on here, other than to say that I think this blog is far more private than one of these forums and it is a beautiful demonstration of the complexities and oddities of the female mind!

My current reading is taking me to "The Minds of Boys" by Michael Gurian. I would highly highly recommed this to any parent of sons or teachers. It is a great book, both reassuring on the one hand and informative on the other. For me, it has started to connect together some of the thoughts I had had in my mind and some of the observations I have made with the boys. It is making me appraise the ways I speak to, spend time with, play with, discipline or even set up the evironment, for my boys. If you need an idea for a Christmas present for someone with all I need to do, is convince R to read it too!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Does it hurt?

OMG!! Why do people ask such stupid questions? Yes, whilst you poke my gums with a metal stick and cause them to bleed it IS going to hurt and I AM going to flinch or react to it! and no I don't think it is because they are particularly sensitive I just think it is because you are POKING THEM CONTINUALLY WITH A SHARP METAL STICK!!!!!!!!!

This morning in Yoga I managed a handstand - I don't think I have done one of those since 1984!

I was put in somewhat of a predicament however, stand like a lemon to one side and watch all the beautifully strong and toned devotees do their handstands, or, when the class assistant (may I add an extremely handsome, mysterious and sexy looking man!!) offers to hold my legs and put his fist between my thighs (apparently it encourages you to pull in your thighs and strengthen and straighten the pose - yuhuh!?) do I agree? I am running the risk of kicking him in the face (or somewhere else even less agreeable), collapsing in an ungainly 100 and something lb heap on the floor at his feet, or worse can fill that in! However, I feel that sense ran away from me and I agreed! Fortunately, I think the spirits that be were looking out for my dignity and, luckily for him, not wearing the same short skirt and pink knickers I was probably wearing in 1984, (thank fuck for that!)I manage to draw myself into Adho Mukha Vrksasana, continuing my Pranayama (and prayers at this point in time believe me!)for a whole 40 second pose!! Wohoo!!!

Oh and while you ask - yes it hurt!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fitting in

Coffee drunk : 1 large
Mood: Nonchalant
Yoga sessions this week: three!
State of home: disorderly demise!

God, if this was all there was to bother me, wouldn't life be simple!! It is Friday people, it is crazy day here at the Beehive. Friday workshop always leaves me feeling that I need more hours in the day, that I have more to say, not enough time for questions!
We have been at school since 7.30am this morning, selling tickets for a concert which the school are hosting as a fundraiser. I never know where I stand in these fundraisers. I like to help, but then feel a hypocrite cos I am not going myself to the event. I realise the school has to raise money and it is important, that said, these tickets are phenomenal and I really would rather put some of the amount of a ticket towards a truly needy cause! Then i shot home for the workshop, then back up to school cos it is a half day today and back for lunch and then we are due at the Doc's in a bit.
T. has a funny lump on the back of his knee. TBH it looks like his bone is at a funny angle. He says it's been like that since birth and doesn't hurt, but I don't know why I haven't noticed it before. Of course, all the horrid things go through my head, but I am sure it is fine so i will just get it checked to be safe.

I was rung last night by a doula friend who is trying to find a last minute doula for a lady. She was due yesterday (VBAC) and has just decided that she might need the assistance of a doula to help achieve the VBAC if at all possible. Apparently she is not getting the support she had originally hoped for from her care givers. I had to pretty much turn her down due to my own comittments, but left her my cell number just in case she went into labor tonight or tomorrow and hadn't found anyone. I hate to think that someone wouldnt have a doula at all if they needed or wanted one, but equally, my head was wondering why she decided so late on and was she really just wanting a doula so she felt she had someone on her side? It is such a fine line to tread as a doula. Part of my role IS that of supporter and advocate, BUT I am not there to take sides and in a situation like this, where a doula is hired last minute, how hard has this been thought through? Where does it become that we are the "scapegoat" for the unwanted c-section by the client, or the "meddlesome doula" who interferes in what is supposedly best for the mother and baby by the care givers? In an ideal world it is much better to meet clients well in advance and build up a relationship, just like a midwife would do. Anyway......I will let you know if I end up being called!
However, despite the hospital not being so supportive of her VBAC, they are going to induce her on Friday if she hasn't gone into labor naturally? Someone correct me, but my training always taught me that a contraindication of pitocin was a previous caesarean?

R. arrived back after a week in Greece at 2am this morning! Then his folks arrive later today and I haven't even made the beds up yet - can you tell I am bothered!! The yoga is working!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Recipes and Reading

Today's task is to put my new recipes up for you:

There is a real mix here, granola, mushroom loaf and blonde macaroons.
As usual, my method of quantity is somewhat random and tends to be guided by continual quality control!! So please feel free to put your own measurements in along the way and be guided only be taste!!

Mushroom loaf:

You need: 1 onion, 2 cloves of garlic, parsley, about 12 - 14 mushrooms (I used plain old organic button mushrooms, but I think it would be spiced up somewhat with a mix of wild mushrooms!), cumin, broccoli (or your preferred green veg choice), a favourite spice (I used worcestershire, but you could use anything) salt and pepper, two eggs and pine nuts about a handful!

Chop the onion and garlic into fine pieces and lightly fry until golden
Meanwhile chop the mushrooms, broccoli and put into a bowl,
Beat the egg and add that, stir it all well
Add the now fried onions and garlic
Add the cumin and seasoning, then add the handful of pine nuts.

Press it well down into a greased loaf tin and bake at about 375F for about 20 - 25 mins.


You need:
1/3 cup Flax seed, 1/3 cup sunflower seeds, 1/3 cup shredded coconut, 3 cups oats, 1/3 cup wheatgerm (or wheat bran), bran (if you have the wheat germ and bran separately), abour 1/2 cup of walnuts, almonds, pecans or brazils or a combination.

Dried fruit of your choice, honey, veg. oil, vanilla extract,

Put the first set of ingredients into a shallow tray or dish and gently roast in the oven set to 375F for about 30 mins, turn them frequently otherwise they will burn in places.

Meanwhile mix up the honey (1 cup) with the oil (1 cup) and the vanilla extract (1tsp) into another bowl and mix them up. When the nutty mixture comes out of the oven, pour this over it and mix. Then replace back into the oven again, this time for about 20 minutes, make sure you watch it though so that the honey doesn't burn.

When you bring it out, add as much or little dried fruit as you wish. When it is cool store it in an airtight container in a cupboard. It makes about 6 small portions and will keep for about a week.


Blonde macaroons:

this is a vegan recipe and is classified as raw as you only very gently heat them through ensuring nothing higher than 118 degs.

I used:
2 cups of shredded coconut
1/2 cup of ground almonds
1 cup of soy or coconut butter
1 cup of maple syrup.
1/2 tsp of salt.

This really is a trial and error recipe. The first time I made these, although the final product was fine, they didn't stick as well as I would like, therefore, it might be better to add a little more butter or maple syrup, but you must just experiment. I also think that next time I may put them into the fridge before the step that is to follow......

Simply, mix it all together in a bowl and press them into small balls. Put them onto a tray and pop in the lowest oven setting you possibly can get. You are looking for a very very light golden brown to them.

They taste yummy however and the children loved them as a snack. I didn't feel remotely guilty about putting them in T's lunchbox either as the sugar content was low and also raw.

Try them and let me know what you think!!

My current reading list is bizarre at the moment, it consists of a psychology book, a fiction book and a children's book!!
I am currently reading (or trying to!)

Childhood and Society by Erik Erikson
Living to tell the Tale by Gabriel Marquez (living in the time of cholera guy!!)
The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman ( this is the children's book!)

oh and I have as my spare continually "on the go" book - The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I have just finished The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.

Last Thursday I went to a talk at the school about the Elementary programme and one of the questions that arose from a parent was how exactly does a Montessori programme differ beneficially to a mainstream education. I just wanted to share this wonderful analogy and my own thoughts to that:
Imagine a dot to dot puzzle, you are given the numbers and the sequence, but not the connections, that is mainstream education. In Montessori, you have the connections and it is up to the child to make the dots: a young child in Montessori may not know the word square root yet, however, the child will know HOW to do a square root, WHY to do a square root and WHAT NEED there is to do square roots within the greater context of their everyday lives. In short Montessori is a holistic approach to education, the direction of applied learning skills rather than just lists of facts. I think this, for me, sums it up and I feel eternally grateful that we have been allowed this opportunity to submerge both the children and ourselves in this more organic way of learning and thinking. I only wish it were easier for everyone to do this and that Montessori principles were observed and studied during all teacher training courses. Of course the grand scheme of things is far more in depth than that and thinking is very broad and outside the box that for me, has been normal up to now, (ex-state/public primary school teacher!) but if you are ever considering thinking about Montessori even for a short time in your child's pre-school years, go and listen to some of the directors talk about the philosophy, I assure you, your eyes will be opened.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A calm drone resumes.......

in the beehive. Vent and anger have henceforth been banished to the doghouse (well he doesn't use it,) and aformentioned FIL's will find himself there smoted should my ying and yang be discombobulated during the visitation!

Anyway, to minor things and back in the mode of this blog - rambling!
Today my inner peace has been restored, I have managed to find a great organic veggie cafe to make some party food for Izzy's birthday. I have decided to do away with prancing ponies and fearsome clowns that will probably just reduce them all to tears and instead invest in some class A food rather than the usual contraband that they try to pass off in the supermarket as birthday fodder! I haven't got the time to make much myself this year due to himself being away for some time, and the innies arriving, not to mention my usual week of craziness before hand, so I have passed the buck.......and what a great buck too! I have managed to get a wonderful selection all with change in the bank too! yay! So now, all I need to do is the cake. But as this is always the same, much scoffed cake, year after year, I have no worries about this. All this will be washed down with a yummy berry smoothie, which I. pinched from me this morning and drank the lot !!

However, I think I may also try a new recipe which I will add on to the blog later once I have tried out the proportions this afternoon.

My application to join a children's literature writing course has been accepted, however, my feelings are not sure about this. Not for actually DOING the course, but more for how subjective and selective the process actually was, or is this one of these usual vying for business processes rather than judging on merit. They claim to do the latter, but I thnk before I part with any tuition fees, I will need to research them a little more thoroughly. They claim that you will have a manuscript fit to send to a publisher by the end of the this space!

We experienced true Trick or Treatin' American style for the first time on Tuesday evening. OMG! We went with some friends dressed up (or rather NOT Marla!!) in our costumes. Every house was decorated to the nines, it was like Christmas, only halloween style, all houses were opened to the merriment with one house putting on a film on the side of their house and another had set up a full blown pizzeria/buffet in his seriously had to be seen to be believed. The candy stash was enough to feed several small countries!!! W. bless his heart, was carrying around a UNICEF box trying to collect pennies too. It was sweet to see his little Mr Incredible figure standing as the lone child in a doorway after all the candy seekers had gone, asking for a few pennies for the poor children!! T. on the otherhand asked if the poor could wait until tomorrow, until after he had collected his candy......hmmmm??? I suppose at least one out of three ain't bad so far!