Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pregnancy, Oestrogen and Women

Occasionally I find an email forwarded to my inbox that actually catches my attention and I get a giggle. Below is one such forward that I thought I MUST share with all of you. I know most of you will relate and will (probably) have a chuckle or two as well.


Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
A: No, 35 children is enough.

Q: I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A: With any luck, right after he finishes college.

Q: What is the most reliable method to determine a baby's sex?
A: Childbirth.

Q: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she's borderline irrational.
A: So what's your question?

Q: My childbirth instructor says it's not pain I'll feel during labour, but pressure. Is she right?
A: Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q: When is the best time to get an epidural?
A: Right after you find out you're pregnant.

Q: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labour?
A: Not unless the word 'alimony' means anything to you.

Q: Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
A: Yes, pregnancy.

Q: Do I have to have a baby shower?
A: Not if you change the baby's nappy very quickly.

Q: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?A: When the kids are in college.


1. Everyone around you has an attitude problem.

2. You're adding chocolate chips to your cheese omelette.

3. The dryer has shrunk every last pair of your jeans.

4. Your husband is suddenly agreeing to everything you say.

5. You're using your mobile phone to dial up every bumper sticker that says: 'How's my driving-call 0- 800-'.

6. Everyone's head looks like an invitation to batting practice.

7. Everyone seems to have just landed here from outer space.

9. You're sure that everyone is scheming to drive you crazy.

10. The ibuprofen bottle is empty and you only bought it yesterday.


10. Cats' facial expressions.
9. The need for the same style of shoes in different colours.
8. Why beansprouts aren't just weeds.
7. Fat clothes.
6. Taking a car trip without trying to beat your best time.
5. The difference between beige, ecru, cream, off-white and eggshell.
4. Cutting your hair to make it grow.
3. Eyelash curlers.
2. The inaccuracy of every bathroom scale ever made.

AND, the Number One thing only women understand:


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Society’s safety net

It’s been a tough few weeks for families in Australia.

The news has been filled with heart-breaking stories of young lives blighted and even cut short, and while I’m sorry to sound gloomy, these reports have left me with a heavy heart.

In New South Wales, five children died in what appeared to be extreme cases of domestic distress and we’ve been shocked by police statistics evidencing a crime wave amongst kids still at primary school. In Adelaide, up to 21 neglected children were crammed into one house and in the nation’s capital Canberra, four children were found living in squalor and taken into care.

These are the sensational stories that fill the pages of our newspapers, but they reflect a segment of society where people are lonely, hurting and crying out for help – their desperation hidden behind closed doors.

But amidst the doom and gloom, an email landed in my inbox, bringing a ray of hope. The author spoke about community, urging me to see that in the grand plan of the universe, community was always intended to be the safety net. Society’s way of catching us when we fall, comforting us when we hurt, celebrating our joys and sharing in our grief. As we have retreated further and further behind our front doors, counsellors and psychologists have become our shoulders to cry on, where once we might have relied on a friend or neighbour.

The words in the email struck a chord. We need to sow into our communities and cultivate good relationships not only so that we can be there for others, but so that they can also be there in our tough times.

Over the years, dozens of news stories depicting tragic circumstances have drawn my attention. When some terrible event has hit a community, it’s common practice for newspaper reporters to knock on neighbours’ doors gathering information about the victims. Who were they, what were they like, what did they do? Too often, those neighbours will say: “We didn’t know them. They kept themselves to themselves.”

Let’s make an effort to never be people who keep ourselves to ourselves.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Easy entertaining

I love having people over, my hubby does too, but he doesn't like to do ANY preparation or cleaning up! He would rather meet people for a meal out, or go to their house.

Now in his defence, I should say that this is because we are in a tiny little, albeit very lovely, home at the moment and he thinks it's impractical. Fair enough. But rather than being social hermits, I like to keep things simple and easy with a minimum of fuss while still being able to make guests feel special.

For pizza nights that are simple and easy, I usually make my own but if I'd rather be chatting to friends when they're here, I sometimes get good takeaway and make a big salad, with some french sticks in the oven with crushed garlic and butter (yummm) and a few bottles of cheap, organic Italian wine (favourite!). Because there's not much room, kids have a picnic on the floor and adults squash around the candlelit table and enjoy. Really easy and no pressure but great.

Last time we did this we had a box of Magnum minis and some mini gelato cups which we ate with coffee and it was perfect! Minimal cleaning and big fun. Great music playing or letting the kids and adults go nuts on the Wii is also very entertaining!

I also love having people for afternoon tea. I have a fave lemon cake (see recipe below) which is dead easy and I get out the white tablecloth and matching coffee cups (I do have a little OCD!). This can be so easy with a bunch of flowers in the middle and it's beautiful and special. A little bit of effort goes a long way. The plunger instead of instant, a pot instead of bags, homemade instead of bought, although bakery bought always looks good! Your personal touch and creativity makes people feel welcome and it doesn't have to be a big deal or stress out husbands.

Lv Jane

Fave lemon cake

2 1/4 cups almond meal
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup yoghurt
4 eggs
1/2 cup sifted plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Lemon syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
1/3 cup caster sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon

Cooking instructions
Preheat oven to 180 and line base and sides of a 22cm cake pan with baking paper.
Beat eggs and sugar with an electric beater until pale.
Add yoghurt, oil and rind and beat well.
Fold in almond meal, flour and baking powder.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 mins, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Turn out onto a platter.

To make the syrup, combine ingredients in a saucepan with a few spoons of water and stir on a low heat, until sugar dissolves.
Increase heat and bring to the boil.
Simmer until syrupy and pour over hot cake.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Love Thy Neighbour

As most of you know by now, our family recently moved to Wolseley in Saskatchewan, and we are enjoying our time here. I know that the experience of these months in Canada will travel with us for a lifetime.

Being an avid participant in and observer of life, plus someone who is passionate about building community and bringing people together, I’ve found the last few weeks to be extremely interesting. Upon our arrival in town, and having just unpacked our suitcases and belongings, I was more than happy to find a friendly face carrying two loaves of freshly baked bread, home-made jam and a warm welcome at my front door. Lori Perra, someone I have come to know and greatly enjoy, extended this welcome. Lori has a smile that can light up any room and a kindness of heart that is refreshing in this big old world.

Following our welcome from Lori, I found myself with my mother on the front lawn of one of our neighbours, Mrs Christianson. We were discussing spring days and the excitement of another Saskatchewan summer. During our conversation, this lovely 92-year-old woman welcomed us to Wolseley and upon learning of our three children quickly offered her babysitting services. I smiled and thanked her and thought how kind she was and how she remains ever ready to extend herself to another generation through kindness and generosity and good old neighbourly love.

A couple of days later, I again found myself answering the front door and another neighbour, Ruth Banbury, was there with a smile and freshly baked treats for our family to enjoy. Again, another warm welcome into the community.

Recently, I did some study and research on communities in North America and how they have changed and developed over the years. Interestingly enough, I found that in the 50s the front lawn and street in front of the homes was where life happened. Neighbours talked and shared in each other’s lives. As the years progressed, change slipped in and before long the backyard became our place of refuge. Decks were built off the back of the homes, fences went up around properties creating barriers and privacy, our front lawns and streets which were once home to activity became quiet passageways backed by front windows with drawn curtains. Sadly, the neighbourhood experience began to drain.

I believe we are coming back to that place of sharing and caring. We’ve discovered that we haven’t been designed to live this life alone rather we are placed in our communities to be part of something bigger than our own little families and ourselves. So thank you Lori, Mrs Christiansen, Mrs Banbury and others who have warmly welcomed us to this neighbourhood, thank you for setting excellent examples to be followed. Thank you for sharing the truth of loving thy neighbour.

This week and going forward why don’t we all extend ourselves just a little further and be the change we want to see in our neighbourhoods, our communities and in this world.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Revisiting the Past

The other night hubby was working late, it was 5pm and I had nothing thought out for dinner. The natives (my children) were getting restless, their tummies were rumbling and the clock was ticking. I must have opened the fridge and cupboard doors five or six times looking aimlessly at the contents of each. I felt like I finally understood Mother Hubbard’s dilemma.

Finally, like a lightening bolt, inspiration hit and I was on a mission. I remembered the Salmon Casserole, from my childhood, I had cooked years ago that sadly never became a family favourite. I thought it a perfect opportunity to revisit this recipe and perhaps save the night. Much to my surprise when my three children discovered what we were having for dinner they all sang out, “Yay, we haven’t had this for years. We love this salmon casserole. Mum why haven’t you made it for us?”

The anticipation for dinner was extraordinary. I didn’t realise that this was something they liked. I guess when I made it they were all too little to really tell me how much they enjoyed it. Once dinner hit the table it was gobbled up and the discussion surrounded the casserole and how it definitely fell on the ‘family favourite’ list. That being said it is a recipe that must be shared through thefamilyroom. It is now, and I guess always was, tried and true, it’s extremely healthy and budget conscious and best of all you can make it your own.

Salmon Casserole (or Tuna whatever your preference)

Preheat Oven: 350 (Gas 175)
Cooking Time: 1 hour (there abouts)
Pan Size: Medium Casserole
Serves: 4-6

2 cups cooked salmon (tuna) or 14 oz tin, drained
2 cups coarse bread crumbs (I use whole wheat or whole wheat crackers – whatever you have available will work)
2 T finely chopped onions (I’m a little more generous here)
2 T chopped green or red pepper or both
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
2 T ketchup (approx. maybe a squeeze more)

Mix together lightly the first six ingredients. Beat eggs slightly and stir in milk and ketchup; add to salmon mixture and mix lightly. Turn into baking dish and bake.

** You can easily make this recipe your own by adding other vegetables to it. It’s a great healthy alternative that tastes great. I serve it with a side salad and a vegetable; let the kids add a little extra squeeze of ketchup and dinner is served.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Message of Your Life

Today we welcome back our special guest writer Philip Sohn. His inspiration for this blog comes from Randy Pausch, the university professor and best-selling author who achieved worldwide fame for his “Last lecture” speech. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Randy gave the speech, entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” in September 2007. It immediately became an internet hit and was viewed more than one million times in the first month. Soon after, Randy appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and recapped his speech for millions of TV viewers.

Over to Philip ....

Many of you will have heard from Randy Pausch. I must have been living in a cave when all that broke, on YouTube, Oprah etc.

Well check it out yourself......

A good many years ago I did a branding project for a company. For it, I interviewed key management and one of the questions was:

If you had 5 minutes, in a stadium of 100,000, and with 5 billion watching on TV, what would you say/do? What would be your message?

Randy Pausch had over an hour to give his last lecture. And the power of YouTube and Oprah to boot.

Most of us will not have such an audience to tell our message … but we have our LIFETIME to live it.

What is your message? Are you living it? What a very challenging question.

To be super honest, right now, I don't really think I'm living it … I'm not even sure I know it, in detail enough to frame it and express it to you.

Let's learn our message. Live our message. I'm sure it's bigger than how you are living now.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Challenging Chores

Chores and children can be a challenging combination in our household.

Too often lately a simple request to set the table for dinner or grab a cloth and wipe the dishes has been greeted by a pout Paris Hilton would be proud of and the task itself has been executed with the dramatic tension of a Hollywood thriller.

Basically, I’ve let things slide. I haven’t been firm enough in making sure the kids know they are part of a team where everyone chips in to keep the wheels turning smoothly.

Recently, two people in my life brought me to my senses. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t say anything – it was just through their words and actions I came to realise that my own kids could maybe show a bit more enthusiasm for domestic duties.

One was a colleague. Our formative years in similar English societies are a frequent topic of office conversation. He was raised in a family of seven children where everyone helped out – and probably kept mum sane in the process! Saturday mornings were a frenzy of activity as each child threw themselves into their allotted task, scrubbing, sweeping and dusting the house to gleaming perfection.

The second champion of the chores was my 22-year-old niece. During a recent four-week stay she turned out to be the dream house guest, leaping to assist each time anyone washed a dish or peeled a potato. Twice I came home from work to find she had conquered the four mountainous baskets of ironing which had been growing out of control in the laundry. My sister must have taught her well.

Now, I’m not a slave driver and I want our home to be a haven not a workhouse, but I do expect the kids to do their bit. Bedrooms need to be kept clean and tidy not decorated with discarded clothes, and when weeds are threatening to engulf the garden, I do need some help in taming the wilderness.

So we’ve rung the changes recently. Everyone’s getting cheerfully stuck into the chores and long faces are not allowed. When we’re done, there’s more time for everyone to have fun. And, fingers crossed, it’s working. The other day, my youngest set the table without being asked and when I started the dishes, she was right there by my side. Just this morning, I heard my eldest son ask everyone to clear their breakfast stuff away before rushing out of the room.

I hope it lasts!

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