Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy Christmas to All and to All a Goodnight.




I love Christmas.  Seriously love it.   


I'm not mad about the consumerism and the fact that the pace of life seems to speed up in the lead up to it.  And I'm not Christian so for me it's not a religious celebration.  But I just love our own little rituals around it.  Putting up the tree, making Christmas decorations with the kids, planning home made gifts that I never quite get around to making (maybe next year).  



Sunday, December 1, 2013

Internet Addicted?

Power Down
So there is no formal classification for internet addiction, since the psychological jury is still out on whether it is an actual disorder or not.  


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Not In The Mood




I am so not in the mood today.


Not in the mood for writing.  Not in the mood for anything really.  


I'm fed up, frustrated and grumpy.  



Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Luxurious Complaints


So my daughter is earning pocket money now.  She's five, starting school next year so I thought it was time.  Time for her to learn about money, it's worth and the effort it takes to earn it.  Also the pleasure in working hard and saving for something you want and buying it with your own money.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Great Kids Digger Costume Project


We had book week at my daughters kinder a while ago.  


And we had just been going through a mad Pippy Longstocking phase.  Lucky for us.  Super easy.  


My daughter was really keen to go as Pippy, and I planned to dress her little brother as Mr Nilsson, the monkey.  For those of you who don't recall he wears shorts and a hat.  Did I mention super easy?  



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Not My Best Week



Not my best week this week.  Nope.  Not my best.

Lots of yelling.  Lots of anger and frustration.  It's really hard to write that down. 


Because it's kind of shaming.  Very humbling.  To admit how horrible I am.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pleasure Vs Happiness - Is Discomfort The Key?


So a while ago at meditation we discussed happiness on a few different levels.  Like, what is happiness?  How does it differ from pleasure and enjoyment?  What makes us happy?  Should we pursue happiness and if so, how do we do that?



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Four Days, Six Revelations, One Heart

The stunning meditation room at Maitripa Contemplation Centre

  
As you know I've been on retreat.

It was a couple of weeks ago now and with a new kinder term and a couple of colds under my belt I'm well and truly back in the "real world".  



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Going Back

The gorgeous grounds at Maitripa Contemplative Centre
This week I've returned from my second silent meditation retreat.

I am still processing everything that I got out of the retreat but for now let me share with you the details of the retreat, where it is, how it works.  Because if you can, you must.  



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Practicing Gratitude Part 2


Last week I wrote about cultivating gratitude.

The idea of cultivation being that it takes work, it takes energy, it seems sometimes counter to instinct.


But I fear I wasn't frank enough.  I was clear that it's an effort, right?



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Practicing Gratitude


Sometimes gratitude does not come easily.  There's a lot to be grateful for and yet sometimes the complaints come way more readliy.


Sometimes it's an effort to shake off the negative perspective and seek out the positive.


And sometimes that effort seems mammoth.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wheel of Life





So reincarnation has always been a bit of a sticking point between me and Buddhism.

Not that I know that much about it, but whenever it comes up I've always felt a bit...skeptical?


So mostly I've just kind of ignored it.



Sunday, September 15, 2013

To Three Or Not To Three




I have two kids.  Two incredible, bright, funny, healthy, gorgeous kids.


And I love being their Mum.  Being their Mum is the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done.  And sometimes I think I'm doing a pretty good job.  Then there are other days when I think I'm doing a totally crap job and I'm raising two little brats.



Sunday, September 8, 2013

Australian Election 2013



So by now we have a newly elected Government.  Is it Rudd or Abbott?  I am happy to say that I am disconnected from the internet and deliberately disinterested in the telly.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hand's On


Happy Father's Day Gen X Dad's!

I hope you are all being told today what an amazing job you are doing by your grateful and devoted partners and children.


Because seriously?  Do we all know how lucky we are to have these partners?  To be parenting in these times?



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Own Two Feet

It Isn't About The Shoes

I have a fundamental fear of raising overindulged little brats.  So being witness to tantrums that escalate from the totally mundane really gets me going.  It doesn't take much for my internal dialogue to start running a loop about how spoilt and entitled my children are becoming.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Memory Bank





So I've just had a lovely dinner with some beautiful girlfriends.  Great and genuine women all.  Good food, good wine and good conversation - what's not to like, right?


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Desperately Seeking Clarity

This is me.

What the hell is going on in this country when it comes to Asylum Seekers?  


Please.  Can somebody explain it to me?  Because I have lost the thread of coherence.



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Public Gaze




I can't imagine being famous.  Even in my most wild fantasies of an idealised life fame does not figure.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

40




I'm turning forty at the end of the year.  


And I'm really looking forward to it.



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Party Political




It's been party central around our place this week.  My children's birthdays fall within a week of each other.

When I was pregnant with my second child I was adamant that it would be desperately unfair to condemn them to a lifetime of shared birthday parties.  But now that the hormones have subsided and the practicalities have emerged it is blatantly obvious that having two parties in a week is completely unrealistic.  


Besides which it's good to teach them to share.


My kids are so very privileged.  They have so much - so many toys, so many people who love them, so many opportunities, so many friends.


Showing them that they don't need to be precious about a party is a good thing.  


Of course the ease with which this goes down may change over the years.  They are still just preschoolers with many of the same friends and interests.  I can envisage a day when my 12 year old girl is not going to want her stinky 10 year old brother and his friends at her disco-model-makeover party, or whatever other dire, gender-specific theme she thinks she'll be having.  


And like he'd want to go anyway, gross.


I've decided that when they get to this stage that they can just alternate years.  One year can be my daughters party and my son can just have a couple of mates to hang out with, the next year reverse.  Simple.  In theory.


I don't actually think kids need to have parties every year.  I mean I love a good birthday (especially my own).  But at the risk of making myself sound older than I am we never had parties every year back in my day.


Still I wonder if this is just another good-in-theory notion that will be thrown out like so much left over cake when we actually get there.


I mean sometimes you have your own notions about what you want to do as a parent then you rethink and realise they just aren't such a great idea after all.


Or sometimes the force of the majority just beats you down.  Princess fairy dolls are a case in point.


This year my daughter asked for pass the parcel at the party.  It was the first time she'd made a request for any sort of party game.  Oh, well last year she wanted to do the Hokey Pokey, but that's more of a dance than a game really isn't it?


I have really fond memories of pass the parcel from my own childhood.  I'm not sure if I ever had it at my own parties (probably) but I certainly remember it from friend's parties and it was an exquisite mix of excitement, anticipation and envy.


But to invoke the phrase back in my day once more, the notion of everyone's a winner (baby) had not yet been realised back then.  Nor had it made the Top Ten.


No, back in may day there were like four prizes and a whole lot of paper.  And as we sat crossed legged in a circle, the present being passed gingerly like some sort of unexploded grenade, it was almost unbearable to think that the music might stop on the person before you.  Or (worse!) the person after.  Holding on to that squishy, over-stuffed, newspapery mass just one beat longer than you should, but one beat less than would have the other kids groaning "Come ON."  And then.  If you got a chance to unwrap a layer....would it hold a prize?....would it hold the prize.  


Oh, the delicious tension of it.


No, it's become de rigueur that every child must get not only a turn, but also a prize.


This is just another thing that I swore I would not cave to.  Ridiculous, I huffed.  Not at our parties, I assured myself.


But, as my kids prepared lolly bags and the general crazy of birthday week took it's grip my resolve weakened and I found myself seeking assurance.  It's okay if not everybody gets a prize isn't it?  Do you think the kids expect it?  What if they don't get a prize and lose their shit?  Oh bugger it.  One prize for every child so I don't have to think about pass the parcel any more.


But as I stood at the dining table up to my elbows in wrapping paper trying to calculate how many layers I had done, how many children were coming and if there would be any random siblings I should allow for, I realised the parents of the 70's had the right idea.


Just grab some newspaper and wrap up a few bits and bobs with one half decent something in the middle.  Then at the party grab a drink, and most probably a cigarette, close your eyes and jab at the stereo.  


When it's over it's over.  


Too bad if little Johnny missed out.  No one cares because little Timmy, Tommy and Suzie missed out too.  A privileged few made off with some loot and as I recall no one cried.  We all just thought those kids were lucky as hell, and perhaps somehow especially charmed.


Our parents didn't soothe us or try and make things even next time.  They were too busy drinking boxed chardonnay and eating deviled eggs at the adult table.


Not only are we making life harder for ourselves by being so attentive to our children's whims and desires, but we're making life harder for them by not teaching them to just get on with it in life.


And not only that but we are ruining a perfectly good party game along with it.  Pass the parcel just isn't the same without the suspense.


Yes, the politics of pass the parcel has a powerful affinity with modern parenting.


So while I'm not yet robust enough to take on the expectations of a dozen other kids, not quite tough enough to rock pass the parcel old school, I reckon next year we might give it a miss because I'm just not down with the everyone's a winner mentality.


(Totally Delicious Egg and Dairy Free) Chocolate Cake


Serves 24

What:
3 cups self-raising flour
2/3 cup cocoa
2 cups caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup canola oil

2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla essence
How:
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Sift flour, cocoa, caster sugar and salt into a large bowl.
Add remaining ingredients and combine well.

Pour mixture into a greased cake tin.
Bake until cooked through.

I baked this cake with the kids for the party.  It's a great recipe to cook with kids because no creaming or beating is required - just a whole lot of stirring in a giant bowl.  This seems to make up for the lack of egg cracking.  Plus the batter is delicious for licking.  

There is no baking time on the original recipe (sourced at Best Recipes) but my cupcakes cooked in 15 minutes and the large cake took about 55 minutes - you'll just need to keep checking.  
It's a beautifully moist and dense cake that doesn't suffer from the lack of eggs and butter at all.  

Enjoy.

Kids parties. Discuss.


Listen to: Hot Chocolate Every 1's a Winner


Image Licensed Under Creative Commons

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Australia, You Weren't Ready For A Female Prime Minister

Image by Sophie Deane Sourced at Taylor Marsh

Now that Gillard's term is done and dusted in duly spectacular fashion, I think it's fair to say it was a term dominated by her gender.  Up until this point I have been reluctant to admit that.  Ever hopeful that the commentary on her Prime Ministership would turn the corner and be about something other than her femaleness.  Had she been allowed to stick it out maybe her legacy might even have gone beyond that of being Australia's first female Prime Minister.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet




This week I was at the Melbourne Convention Centre to hear the Dalai Lama speak on Compassion The Foundation of Well Being.



Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Way the Cookie Crumbles

My Biscuits Don't Look Like This.
My kids are great little chefs.  

They love cracking eggs, mixing, stirring, pouring, sifting, licking - definitely the licking.  



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Race to the Bottom



There's nothing more likely to put racism front and centre as an issue than a well respected and senior footballer being referred to as an "ape" not once but twice in a week.  


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Paper Bag Owls


This crafty project is super easy, super cute and super good at keeping pre schoolers happily entertained for ages.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Look into my Eyes





I never thought of myself as a yeller.

In my adult relationships shouting is not part of what I do.  I like to avoid conflict.  And if it arises I usually resolve it in a mature, adult and intellectual way.  By talking.  


Or by getting sulky and passive-aggressive.  You know, whatever.


But there is nothing like parenthood to bring out the shout.  Man alive, can my kids make me yell.


They don't of course.  It is only and always me that makes me yell.  Or that allows myself to yell.  


It's not their fault and they don't deserve it.  And if there is anything worse than the awful feelings I have when I'm shouty, it's the terrible, horrible feeling of guilt I have after the anger subsides.  


I never, ever have felt good about yelling.  Even when it has yielded the desired behavioral result.


And I always resolve not to do it again, but then I find myself in a situation where the kids are running rings around me and NOT LISTENING and I feel my blood pressure rise, my jaw tense and I can feel the yell build up inside me seconds before it erupts.


(And this is precisely when I need to stop.  To be mindful and to stop.)


The stupid thing is that it doesn't scare anyone.  The kids don't care.  Only on the rarest of occasion when I have really lost my shit have I shouted the kids into spontaneous simultaneous submission.


Normally though they just get angrier and more defiant than they were in the first place.


It really is futile, the shouting.  Only worse than futile because it does have a negative impact.  It makes me feel horrible and it teaches the kids not only that their mother is a shouty nightmare, but that it's ok to shout.  That yelling is an appropriate response to frustration, or to not getting what we want.


So I resolve again not to yell.  And this time I have a tactic to help me do it - eye contact.  It is so hard to stay angry at my babies when I am looking into their eyes.  It's so easy to see how little they are, how vulnerable, how beautiful.  


And it's interesting that often I am not looking at them when I'm angry, not really looking.  Anger is such an intense emotion that it can be very consuming and can make it difficult to focus on anything other than my own feelings in that moment.  


But if I can be present enough to remember to stop and look into the eyes of my children, this act alone can be enough to diffuse the situation.  To slow things down, to break the circuit.


It can remind me that I do not want to yell, that they do not need me to yell and that often the situation really, just isn't as bad as I am making it in my head.


It's all in the eyes.



Are you a yeller?



Image Licensed Under Creative Commons

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day





This Mother's Day I'd like to turn the tables.

I know it's a day for being thankful to our Mother's.  But I'd like to give thanks to my children today, especially my eldest, for teaching me how to be a Mother.



Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Tethered Elephant



Tuesday nights I go to a local Buddhist Institute for meditation and teachings.  Well, that is I try to when life is on the straight and narrow.  



Sunday, April 28, 2013

Basque Fish Stew



Last week we had another of our gorgeous girls dinners and this time it was my turn to host.


I have to admit to mild entertaining anxiety, but I managed to contain it by keeping everything pretty simple.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Post Secret

Image Sourced at Capstone Seminar

This week I went to the Post Secret Event at Hamer Hall.


I love the Post Secret website and I was really looking forward to getting to experience the live version that I have read about at the site.


The evening did not disappoint.



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Inside




I love the Spiegeltent.  And if I'm honest, the main reason I booked tickets to see Inside was because of this beautiful venue.



Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reverse Racism




So Waleed Aly wrote this great article about passive racism this week.


And it got me thinking, as Waleed Aly often does (curse him).  Because I find racism so abhorrent I am acutely aware of it.  And so when thinking about less obvious examples of racism I wondered whether I might be a reverse racist.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wisdom on the Ward


My little boy has been sick.  Really sick.  Okay, not terminally, devastatingly, life altering-ly sick.  But sick enough that for a while there we thought he might have been all of those things.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Retreat into Silence


Towards the end of last year I went on retreat.  A silent meditation retreat.


Now I have friends who find the very thought of this abhorrent.  Who would rather stick pins in their eyes than embark on something like this.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gratitude Revolution


For not the first time in my exploration of Buddhist philosophy I was presented with the phrase "This does not mean being a doormat".


I'm not really sure what this means.


Buddhism calls for compassion and gratitude above all else.  This seems a worthy goal.  


But sometimes in practice it can lead to a feeling of self deprecation.


Can we cultivate compassion for a person or situation in which we are being treated badly?  Is that even appropriate?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Blue Skies




Life is suffering.


And sometimes it feels like there's a lot to complain about.  


And it's wonderful how much support there is out there now if you're going through a rough patch.  


With parenting especially.  There's no shortage of places to vent.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Be a Ninja Cardio-thoracic Surgeon Poet.

Image: Cameron Russell Speaking at TED
Or be my boss.  This is the truly awesome advice model Cameron Russell gives young girls in her recent TEDx talk.

Don't be a model.  Models "are not in charge of anything...Saying you want to be a model...is akin to saying you want to win the Powerball...it's out of your control, it's awesome and it's not a career path" she says.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Shift Control



I am such a brat.

My life is amazing and I am blessed in so many ways.  And yet lately I find myself feeling irritated and getting frustrated over small stuff.


Thinking this over I realise that it most often occurs when I am not getting my own way.  See?  Brat.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Summer Pudding


Last week I had dinner at a girlfriends house.  Gorgeous.  We have this little rotation going on in which one of us hosts, one brings dessert, the others wine.  It's pretty much perfection.

So last week was my night on dessert and I decided to make this little gem.  I kinda couldn't believe it was as easy as it was, but the flavour combinations just worked and it was a nice little finisher to a wonderful meal.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Golden Slumbers


I remember trying to teach my son to sleep.  What suffering this caused as desires clashed.  Unhappy baby, unhappy mother and pretty soon the whole family is topsy turvy in a swirl of ill temper and negativity.


It's hard to rise above it when you're tired.  Not just tired but tired upon tired and ground down until your very spirit feels like dust.


Getting in the moment feels like a task beyond reach, but of course this is exactly when you need to most.  And so I tried to use this process as an exercise in presence.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Boat People


My kids are such little Aussies.  I am reminded of this every time my daughter refers to her “bah-ay-bee” brother or asks to lick the vegemite off my toast.

Yet they have ten pound poms on both sides of their family tree as well as Irish, Italian and American immigrants.  All of them arrived by boat.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Diving In


One Small Life.  A space in which I hope to start doing what I love.
Thoughts into words.  Words into actions.  
Small steps, starting here.

Have you ever taken a leap of faith?

Listen to Norah Jones Don't Know Why Live 


Image Licensed Under Creative Commons via Morguefile