Friday, 30 September 2011

Dealing with Disappointment

disappointment, such a big emotion, image sourced here
Do you remember the first time you felt really disappointed as child? Your stomach feels sick, pain in your chest and that heavy feeling of injustice...NOT FAIR playing around and around in your thoughts. I don't remember the exact first time, but I do remember many moments as a child when a play date was cancelled, or the weather suddenly turned bad. As horrible as these moments felt at the time, they are an important part of growing up and learning to cope.

My heart sank today as my big boy got into the car and burst into tears after school. He hadn't been invited to his best mates 8th birthday party today after school. And unfortunately for us, the friend was parked two cars down and we heard the laughter and fun as the children all piled into the BF mum's car. The big heavy sobs said it all. Junior was bitterly disappointed. He couldn't understand why he was not invited, considering his friend lives a hop, step and a jump over the fence on the street behind. I didn't know the answer why. All I knew was that his friend was only allowed to invite three friends, and I'd only learnt that 5 minutes earlier in the play ground.

The tears got heavier, the sobs louder and Junior's face redder. He wondered if he had done something wrong. I started to feel yuck in the stomach too, an old feeling of disappointment rearing it's ugly head. 

We got out of the car and I hugged my son and told him that I loved him. And that we would pack for his holiday to Grandma's tonight. I decided to give him some treats of a lollipop and icecream, hoping that the sugar might make him feel a bit better. We fashed his face, and the red disappeared. Hoges came home and took both boys out for a bike ride.

It's tough watching your child experience real disappointment for the first time, this I Know,  and not having any answers for it is hard too...how do you deal with this experience?

Joining in with Yay for Homes, Things I know linky




Be Happy,  
Nicola 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

the mother of all chocolate cakes

Yummo! Katie's chocolate cake so easy and delicious!
Yesterday when I was doing my usual blog roll scan, I came across a fantastic guest post by Katie at Planning with Kids. Katie is a mother of eight children, and her guest post Our Big Family Story was so inspiring and uplifting to me. At the end of her post, Katie shared a recipe for her chocolate cake that she often bakes to feed the tribe when they come home from school. As an avid baker, and a working mother, I am always looking for an easy recipe for something delicious. And well after reading this post and recipe, I just HAD to bake it!


Katie's really easy chocolate cake recipe (as it appeared on Planning with Kids). 

Katie says she uses a large square cake tin or two loaf tins, how ever I used a large round spring base cake tin, and it worked a treat!

Ingredients:
  • 125 grams unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups SR flour
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • Dash vanilla in 1 cup full cream milk
Method:
  1. Mix dry ingredients (I don’t sift – ever!)
  2. Add wet ingredients
  3. Beat together with electric/hand mixer for approx 5 mins
  4. Bake in moderate oven (160 C) for 40-45 mins.
Ice with chocolate icing. Approx two cups icing sugar, 1/3 cup of cocoa, one tablespoon softened butter and water to mix.

Do you have a favourite cake recipe that is really really easy?

Be Happy,
Nicola 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Playing Pirates

pirate posing!
How much fun is it to play dress ups? There is nothing like a make believe play session to get the children exploring their creativity. We had a pirate play day after school on Monday in preparation of Juniors class presentation on water for Tuesday. Mini Hoges and I went on a shopping trip to find pirate patches and found the last two pirate sets for $1 each at Sam's Warehouse. Each set contained pirate patch, sword, telescope and pirate pouch. Love a Bargain. Aaarrgh!

What do your kids love to dress up as and imagine?

Be Happy, 
Nicola

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Author in Focus - Richard Scarry

Richard Scarry has been popular in our family for years. I adored his busy world as a child and had a fantastic giant colouring in book that I spent hours carefully colouring in between the lines. Hubby loved his stories and has fond memories of searching for Gold Bug and reading about Dingo Dog. And we all love Mr Frumble and his pickle car and the trouble he is always getting himself into.

The Cat Family, values respect, love and togetherness
A popular American author, Richard Scarry's books and illustrations have been delighting children since 1949 when his first works were published with Little Golden Books. Scarry uses animal characters like the Cat Family to reflect values such as love and respect and family togetherness throughout his stories. And it is said that he was raised in a family that adhered to these virtues providing a nurturing family atmosphere.
What more could a boy want in a book
My boys love the action and busyness of the illustrations of Richard Scarry's stories. Some of our books are Trains, Busy, Busy World (this was hubby's copy and well loved!), and Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. The range of imaginative vehicles in this book is amazing! A pencil car, an alligator car, banana car, pumpkin car...you name it, there is a car made out of it! We have also enjoyed recent releases of sticker books and posters that have provided hours of entertainment and conversation.
a favourite character, Goldbug appears everywhere!
Richard Scarry created children's books for a good fifty years before he passed in 1994 at the age of 75. His illustrations and characters continue to bring much love to children everywhere. We have read many of his books and watched the animated cartoon of his Busy World, however, just when I think we've read them all, I discover another Richard Scarry treasure.

Do you have a Richard Scarry favourite?

Be Happy,
Nicola 


Monday, 26 September 2011

Good Manners on Monday # 7 Gift giving and Party Etiquette

generous gifts...open now or open later?
The second half of the year always seems to be filled with birthdays and celebrations. We have five children's parties to attend over the next month of varying styles, themes and sizes. Yesterday we attended an eight year old's pool party at our local aquatic center. It was a pretty straight forward party and easy for the parents. The dads swam in the pool, supervising the children and the mums sat or stood around drinking coffee for an hour before party food and cake was served to dripping wet children. Then it was back to the pool for a series of games and prizes.

What impressed me about this party was the casual nature of it. You turn up, give gift and swim and eat and go home two hours later. There was no pressure or expectations on the parents. The pool provided the entertainment on a rainy Sunday. And the children were all well behaved and used their manners appropriately. There was no need to prompt for please and thank you's.


However, there is an opportunity to explore Gift Giving and Party Etiquette here. Each family has there own take on presents. I have always been one to open the presents when all the children are gathered together, or when the friend gives the gift. This way the birthday child has the opportunity to express thanks and gratitude to their friend, who may be waiting anxiously to see if the gift is liked.

At this particular party, and others we have been to, the gifts are given to the parents who stack them up on a table or in a basket and....that's it. You assume the child opens them later when all the other children have gone. And you may or may not receive a thank you verbally later or a thank you card or letter. 

For me, I want to see the paper being unwrapped and the surprise of not knowing what is in that package. 


Another trend I have noticed on the birthday party scene is the "please don't bring a gift" line on the birthday invite. I love this idea. I think it eliminates over consumerism and excessive gift giving. Think about a party where 15 children are invited. That's 15 gifts. Plus all the ones that the child receives from their family. And think about the storage for all of those new toys. We tend to give people books for birthdays. 

What's your take on gift giving and party etiquette? Do you encourage opening straight away or do you save the gifts up till later?

Be happy, 
Nicola 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Rewarding good behaviour

it's always nice to receive a positive affirmation in the mail
It really is so important to acknowledge and reward good behaviour. All too often it is far too easy to get caught up in what your child is doing wrong, or how they are misbehaving. The days become a tired energy struggle of reinforcing negative behaviours.

Recently, my eldest child had been getting his name on the board at school. It had been going on for a good four weeks or so. He just wasn't listening at school or at home. We tried to find his currency. It started to work. No name on the board at all last week, and we had a great weekend with a boy who seems to have grown up all of a sudden. That magic age of eight has kicked in.


Then yesterday, Junior received a postcard, from his teacher. The postcard told Junior how proud she was of him in class and that she knows he has been making a real effort to be the best boy he can be. This beats any merit certificate at a school assembly any day. And is the best positive affirmation for good behaviour.

We are proud of Junior too, and have been made even more aware of the power of rewarding good behaviour.

Be Happy,
Nicola

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Everyone's got a bottom review

I wrote about the value of this book a year or so ago when I was writing a blog called Our Park Life. I thought I would take another look at it with my youngest child (who has a habit of stripping off anywhere) and write a review.



Everyone's got a bottom is a book written by Tess Rowley and illustrated by Jodi Edwards. It was published by Family Planning Queensland in 2007, and has got to be one of the best books of it's kind. And has been described as "the little book that is badly needed for helping parents, carers, teachers and child care personnel to keep children safe" (Professor Fredda Briggs)

Everyone's got a bottom is aimed at younger children up to about the age of 8. The key message of this book is to teach children about keeping their body's safe. This book is a great tool for parents, carers and teachers as it allows us to open up conversations about sensitive issues such as our bodies and 'private parts', the differences between boys and girls, sexuality, appropriate touch, trust and open communication and secrets.

The book tells the story of Ben, a boy of around the age of eight, his two siblings and family. The language in the book is simple and straight forward and together with the illustrations, the story presents some clear and important messages like; we own our own bodies and no one else has the right to touch them, it is important to care for our bodies, the appropriate and correct words for genitalia, it is okay to be nude at home - but not out in public, and importantly, the book talks about what is rude, or uncomfortable and what to do if someone wants to do something rude to you, even if it is someone you know, it is not okay. 


What I like about this story, is that the author uses simple language, rhyme and verse to help explain the message, which in turn is empowering for young children and will help them to understand about touch, bodies and stranger danger without being frightening for them.


This book is available online from Family Planning Queensland.


Be Happy, 
Nicola

Monday, 19 September 2011

Good Manners on Monday # 6 Table Manners

table manners rhyme sourced here
This week at Nurture the Little People headquarters we've been tackling the issue of table manners and dining etiquette. We are not overly strict in our house when it comes to dining. I don't mind if we eat lunch in the living area, but you have to be sitting down and using a plate. I do insist that we all sit at the table together for dinner and that the tv or radio is off.

As the children get older, I have found it more important to enforce dining etiquette like;
  • setting the table with both a knife and fork, 
  • waiting until everyone is sat before starting your meal, 
  • taking your time to eat and chew, 
  • not talking with your mouth full of food, 
  • saying excuse me or pardon me where necessary 
  • and the BIG one at the moment is staying at the table until everyone has finished, even if you are not going to eat your dinner. 
This has been particularly challenging of late with our nearly four year old. He is going through one of those phases where he is quick to decide that he doesn't like his dinner, pushing his plate away in disgust and promptly leaving the table. I know he will grow out of it, just as his older brother did, but gee it does urk me. 

Sometimes we insist he rejoins the table until we are all finished. And often he will dig in his heels and refuse. Other times we will just let it go and continue enjoying our meal together as a three, whilst the fourth member of the family plays at our feet, occasionally sneaking a carrot or pea off his plate.

So, what do you do? How do you enforce table manners and staying at the table in your family? 

Be Happy,
Nicola

Friday, 16 September 2011

Things I Know - Pregnancy and Birth

image courtesy of guerrillanerd.blogspot.com
Today Mini Hoges and I caught up with a dear friend who is 7 months pregnant. It is her first pregnancy, so naturally, she is excited and anxious all at the same time, depending on which directions her hormones are taking her. We talked about how she was feeling physically and emotionally and about the exciting stuff, like how much baby bonus you get these days, how many grow suits is too many and painting baby's room. 

Two comments that did get me thinking though was how this amazing woman said that she was going to feel quite anxious at the time of the birth, and that she doesn't like not being in control. Her mother is a midwife and supports her so well. Her husband is loving and wants the best for her and their baby. The second comment was that her doctor has told her to slow down on the eating because she is gaining a bit too much weight. This clearly is not true. My friend looks healthy, and is by no means one of those HUGE pregnant women that everyone gawks at and is worried that they are about to have the baby at their feet. No, she is healthy, with a moderate baby bump. It got me thinking. 

What could I say, as a friend and a fellow mother who has had two healthy and normal pregnancies and births? What positive encouragement could I offer?

Things I Know - Pregnancy and Birth

  • Trust that your body can do this. Women have been birthing for centuries. It is only in the past 50 years that we have medicalised a natural process. (that is not to say that I think intervention is wrong...thank goodness for medicine, and choice)
  • Having an emotional release each day is good for you (even if it is prompted by drama tv, like Grey's Anatomy). It allows you to let go and release unnecessary worries.
  • Doctors should not tell pregnant women to slow down on their eating, unless there is a genuine concern about the health of the mother or baby. A woman who has gained 10kg during pregnancy is totally healthy and within the norm. I gained 26kg in my first pregnancy.
  • First labour can be scarry, but it is also exciting, energising and empowering, provided you have the right positive support people with you.
  • It is ok to change your mind about what you want during labour. Whilst it is nice for you to prepare a birth plan, chances are, you might leave it at home or abandon it altogether in the throes of labour.
  • Life will never be the same after baby arrives
 What friendly and positive advice have you given to first time mothers to be? 

Don't forget to check in and see what everyone else knows this week at Yay for Homes' Things I know linky.



Be Happy, 
Nicola
 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

It's Green, it's Pesto, it's Good!


Pesto is a staple in our family, along with vegimite, yoghurt and weetbix. It serves as an easy Sunday pasta dinner or a base for pizza's. Many friends and family have even received a jar of our Pesto for Christmas or a welcoming home baby gift. We love to make our own Pesto using ingredients fresh from the garden, where possible. And the rest sourced from local producers in the Margaret River Wine Region.



On a rainy Saturday just gone, when the heavens had opened up, the kids were climbing the walls. I'd had enough of football on the telly. I rounded up the boys for a good old fashioned Pesto making session. Junior went out to pick the remainder of the leaves and stems from the basil plants. And Mini Hoges enjoyed the task of picking the leaves off and putting them into the blender.


Add a good parmesan cheese, nuts, garlic and olive oil, and the pesto was processed to a chunky paste of green goodness.

      

Pesto

Large Bunch of basil leaves
1/2 cup of pinenuts, lightly toasted
2 large garlic cloves
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Olive Oil, anywhere between 3/4 cup to 1 cup, depending on your tastes.

Place basil, garlic and pinenuts into processor and blend. Add parmesan cheese and process. Add lemon zest. While machine is still going, pour in olive oil to combine it all together, achieving your desired taste and texture. Don't forget to season with salt and pepper.

Five Ways With Pesto

1. Pesto Pasta, serve it with spaghetti or penne. Sneak in some more veggies like grated zucchini and finely shredded spinach, add bacon or prosciuto, sun dried tomatoes....yum!

2. Green Eggs, and Ham. Add a good dollop of Pesto to your scrambled eggs the nest time your have eggs and bacon for breakfast...delicious!

3. Lamb lollipops with Pesto. French lamb cutlets, grilled and served with a spreading of Pesto on the outside, mash potato and green beans, cherry tomatoes....mmmmm!

4. Pesto tart. Puff pastry with a thick spread of Pesto on the base and topped with tomatoes, feta, roast pumpkin and spinach leaves, bake in the oven....lovely light lunch!

5. Savoury cheese and pesto muffins. Add a tablespoon or two of Pesto to your favourite cheese muffin recipe.

Have fun on your Pesto Adventures!

Be Happy, 
Nicola

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Tantrums, tornedos and the first born child

perhaps we need one of these in our backyard to resolve squabbling?
I'd like to share something with you that I am sure (hope) many of you experience too, and can perhaps shed some light. Often in this parenting journey you can feel so alone. You wonder about your child/children and whether their behaviour is "normal". 

I try to think back to when I was a kid. My brother was five years older than me, and sure we fought a bit. But mostly we got along ok. Mum says we were always perfectly well behaved when we were out and squabbled occassionally. I have some vague memories of being sent to out respective bedrooms for some reason or the other, and me sneaking out and sending little notes under my big bro's door. Maybe we got on ok because we were a "pigeon" pair. I have two sons...and they fight. 

Sometimes I feel like there is a tornedo roaring through our house. 

It doesn't take much. The 8 year old is so quick to roar and tantrum at his brother. And there I was a few weeks back sharing my thoughts about magical ages. It seems that the bigger brother just wants to be in charge...always. Perhaps it's just the eldest child syndrome. But then the 4 year old has now learned how to wind his big brother up. He knows what buttons to push and will do so in order to get his brother to play with him. This inevitably results in squabbling, shouting and tears. And ultimately both boys ending up at opposite ends of the house on their thinking chairs.

Some days are better than others, and it's fair to say, that this morning, they were great. They cooperated with tidying each others bedrooms, but again, the 8 year old started to get bossy and it resulted in a near tantrum that I was able to squash before it raged out of control.

So, what do you do in your family? Do your children fight? Is your first born bossy, and how do you resolve it?

Be Happy, 
Nicola  

image source here

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley


Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley is the first picture book by author Aaron Blabey. Cleverly written and illustrated, the story tells the delightful tale of friendship between individuals with many differences. This book won the 2008 Children’s Book Council Awards — Book of the Year, for Early Childhood books and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier Literacy Awards and the Crighton Award for New Illustrators. Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley was also listed on the 2008 Smithsonian Institutes' Notable Book list. And you can clearly see why.


Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley has fast become a favourite in our home. Not only do we love the names of the two characters, the book provokes lots of laughter and conversation from my children, and we like to talk about the differences between the two friends. Apart from the obvious gender difference, we learn that Pearl Barley is out going and adventurous. She is loud and flamboyant and full of energy. Where as Charlie Parsley is quieter. He is a bit shy and insular and likes quiet activities. However, despite their differences, Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley are the best of friends.


What we love about this book is that the images are very engaging. You can really feel and see the differences between the two characters. I like the message of tolerance, courage, independence and friendship throughout the book. These virtues are easily understood by both of my children and they have been able to apply them in their own lives, demonstrating  acceptance of each others' differences as siblings and also the differences of their friends.

If you haven't seen Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley before, buy, borrow or beg your library to get it in and support a talented Australian author. It is great reading for children aged 4 - 8, and adults will enjoy the message too. 

Be Happy, 
Nicola 

image sourced, Penguin Books Australia 

Friday, 9 September 2011

Things I know - time flies and busy bees

busy bees. makes time fly

It's been one of those weeks where time has felt like it's escaped me. In fact, it's been a busy fortnight with visitors all weekend, and extra work and activity for the kids. So busy, that I haven't managed to log on and post for three days. And it's not for want of trying, I've had the ideas, just not the time to post. Although, I do know, that time is just an illusion, a perception, but this week, it seems to have disappeared.


This week I know:


1. As lovely as it is having visitors, it can be disruptive to the family routine, especially for the children who get over excited and show-offy

2. Being out (mostly for work) every night this week has been tiring and made me less tolerant of the boys (especially in the morning)

3. The reality of being a busy parent, life and time can sometimes be overwhelming in a not so positive way.

4, Eight year old boys still have melt downs (even though 8 is a magic number) and tantrums, mostly over their younger siblings.

5. As much as I like spontaneity there is definitely something useful and positive about planning. So I will use this post as a SPARK to kick off my weekend of no working, and dedicate some time to thinking and planning out the month of September.

6. The bees are getting really busy!

What do you know about this week? Join Shae over at YAY for Home for the Things I Know linky. 



Be Happy

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Anthony Browne - 5 a Day Books

This week we are having a treasured author week at home. We love Anthony Browne books. From his illustrations to his tales, he is one talented children's author. Our favourite books are those that have the chimpanzee and gorilla's in them. Like the Willy stories. Willy is a Gorilla, but not your usual kind. He is a bit different. He is not great at sports and he is not Big like other Gorilla's. But he has a big heart and always tries his best. Sometimes he gets picked on by the bigger Gorilla's.



All of Anthony Brownes' stories have messages and meaning for children. Books like Silly Billy, help children to find ways of coping and combat fear. Billy is a worrier. He often worries at night when he tries to go sleep. One day he discovers Worry Dolls.  

And Through the Magic Mirror shows children how to use their imagination. Toby was bored at home. His parents were being boring, he was fed up with all of his toys. Then he looked into the hallway mirror and saw some things that changed his view.



What I love about Anthony Browne is that many of his stories are based on his own childhood experiences and imaginations. He is also the creator of the My Mum/Dad/Brother book series. We gave Junior the My Brother book when Mini Hoges was born. It helped him to gain a positive perspective on having a brother and being a big brother.


Do you have a favourite Anthony Browne book? 

Nurture the Little People is joining up with The Imagination Tree's 5 a Day Books Linky. Check it out to see what other books people are reading to their children.

Be Happy, 

 

Images sourced from Walker Books and Macmillan

Good Manners on Monday (on Tuesday) # 5

The Manners Relapse.

earn coin or loose coin with your manners
As a parent, I work hard on ensuring that my children use good manners, not only at home, but most importantly out in public too. It brings me great joy to hear from a teacher/parent/friend/stranger that my children use good manners. It means we are doing our job well. However, there has been a bit of a Manners Relapse in the home.

It seems that Junior is forgetting to use his "P's and Q's". All I ask is for a simple please when asking for something and a thank you in return. Oh, and no whining. That's not too much to ask of an eight year old...is it? Mini Hoges (4 years younger) is doing really well on the Manners front, we only occassionally have to prompt him.

So my solution is to start a Manners Jar. A bit like a swear jar. Except that with this jar, you EARN money for using manners. 10 cents each time, without prompting. The jar also encourages children being compliant when asked to do something. Eg: "Sure mum, I'd be happy to take the recycling out", as opposed to whinging and whining about contributing to the household chores. 

Last week I wrote about finding your currency in my post about Discipline. And the use of money is definitely a form of currency that my kids understand. And so, failure to use manners (please and thankyou) will result in a 10 cent fine. A first reminder at the start of the day is ok, but if you have to keep reminding them to use manners, especially the older kids, then the fining begins.


Do you have a creative solution for reinforcing good manners?

Be Happy, 
Nicola

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Grateful for Ranger John and Hoges and Junior

Yesterday Junior discovered two baby ducklings stuck in our drain. They were at least two meters down, shivering and crying out. It really tugged at the heart strings. We didn't know how to get them out. A few phone calls to the Shire Ranger, the Wildlife and Animal Rescue Shelter and finally the local CALM officer (Ranger John), meant we knew the ducklings would be rescued, just in time as more storms and rain were headed our way....the ducklings would not survive the night.

two little ducklings, trapped, two meters down our storm water drain
it took ages to remove the grill cover, but Hoges and Ranger John got the cover up and the ladder down
Rescued! The two little ducklings, shivering, placed in a box and taken to the Wildlife Animal Shelter for nurturing
So this week, I am grateful for Ranger John for coming to the rescue, for Hoges for helping him out and for Junior for discovering the little ducklings.


What are your grateful for this week? The Beetle Shack is hosting Maxabella Loves Grateful Linky this week, so pop on over and spread the Grateful Love!


Be Happy, 
Nicola

Friday, 2 September 2011

Things I know - Change the Dance: fresh air is good for you

I am so pleased that Spring has arrived. We enjoyed our last weekend of Winter as a family in the great outdoors. It was one of those weekends, where, everyone was getting on each others nerves. We were all squabbling, squawking and tanting. I decided to change the dance and get us all out of the house. Sure we all had snotty noses and mild coughs, but it was good to get out into the fresh air. 

This week I know that fresh air is good for you:
playing in the bush is fun
picnics on flat rocks at the beach are yum
ice cream keeps everyone happy
We got out of the house, went for a bike ride along the Rails to Trails track to the pine tree forest and played in the bush, took a picnic out to Yallingup Beach and finished the weekend off with ice cream at Simmos.

We changed the dance and got some fresh air. It was a welcome fix to the mood at home. Fresh air is good for you, this I know.

What do you know this week? Joining in the fun with Shae from Yay for Home.

  
Be Happy, 
Nicola 

Just Jack - a book review

essential reading for all pre kindy kids!

We have a great love of books in our house, I've posted about it here and here. One of our favourites is a book by Jane Tanner, Just Jack.

Just Jack, beautiful illustrations
Jack is a young boy who is about to embark on his early childhood education journey. His first day of kindy he is Super Jack, wearing his super hero costume. The costume gives Jack the confidence to go to kindy, make friends and be funny, but when Mum says Jack has to wash it, Jack refuses. Jack wears the costume all week. It gets filthier and filthier until Mum has had enough and washes it. Jack is sad when he can't wear the costume the next day. But he goes to school anyway and is loved by his friends.

This story is fantastic for those about to enter the schooling world. Not only does it have beautiful illustrations that make you feel the book, it drives home the message that you are ok just being you, you don't need to be anything else, just be true to yourself.

We had this book for my first born just before he started kinder and it really helped him transition from home to school. He is now eight and enjoys sharing this book with his younger brother who will start kindy next year.

Be Happy, 
Nicola

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Sneaky Vegetables - Chocolate zucchini cake

chocolate zucchini cake...sneaky sneaky
Sometimes I just love to be sneaky! Especially when it comes to vegetables! There is nothing more satisfying than sneaking vegetables into food, hiding it here and there.

This recipe is definitely one of those more pleasurable sneaky ones. It's a Chocolate Zucchini Cake from the Country Classics cookbook, by the CWA.

Here's the easy recipe:

1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of cocoa
1/4 cup of butter
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
1 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup choc bits


Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a ring tin. Sift bicarb soda, flour, salt, cinnamon and cocoa together and set aside. Place butter, oil, sugar, orange rind and vanilla together and mix well. Add egg, then mix in zucchini until combined, add dry ingredients and milk. Pour into tin, sprinkle with choc bits and cook for 30 minutes.

Allow to cool and serve with cream or ice cream or on it's own. It is very moist and holds well in kid lunch boxes.


Be Happy, 
Nicola



Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wellbeing Wednesday - Lovely Lavender

lavender, so calming and lovely
Spring arrives tomorrow. I am looking forward to watching the flowers burst and bloom. In particular, I am looking forward to picking some fresh lavender.Lavender is one of the most versatile herbaceous plants in this world. Not only does it look and smell amazing, it has wonderful healing properties that anyone can use safely, and without needing to be a hippy!

As a flower, lavender can be cut fresh and dried to be used as clothes and linen fresheners, as a tea with slices of lemon, in muffins and cakes, in a herbal pillow, or loving displayed in vases around the home. 
lavender sachets to keep your knicker drawer fresh!
I love lavender so much that I designed my wedding around the flowers. In fact it is my ninth wedding anniversary today, and so we are blessed to have lots of beautiful lavender around the region to pick. The lavender bouquets and decorations were so lovely to look at, the calming properties made for a somewhat relaxed atmosphere in the church and were romantic and spiritual in nature. I had a huge bouquet of lavender and made lavender pins for the gents.
romantic and lovely
As an essential oil, lavender has many applications. Using an oil burner, you can create a calming and relaxing aroma that permeates through the air. Drops can be added to your bath or even on a handkerchief to place under your pillow for restful sleeps. Lavender can be added to a base oil for massage to ease and relax tired and aching muscles. Blend lavender with eucalyptus oil and you have a powerful concoction that will assist in healing colds and flu, infections, and ease depression.
lavender essential oil is versatile
One of my favourite applications is to assist with menstrual pain. I heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add 5 drops of lavender essential oil to this and massage all over my abdomen, and lower back and breasts. 

Lavender is a suitable calming agent for children too. You just need to halve the amount of essential oils used. 

Do you like lavender? Would you use it regularly? What is your favourite flower or essential oil?

Be Happy, 
Nicola 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Discipline - what do you do?

skate park currency
Discipline is one of those 'not so fun' moments of parenting. As your children get older, so do your expectations of their behaviours. Therefore the need to discipline becomes more apparent. I have two sons, aged 8 and nearly 4. We are good parents and tolerate lots, within reason. We use a 'thinking chair' as opposed to 'time out' or 'naughty spot'. The boys have tasks or jobs to give them a sense of responsiblity and contribution to the family unit.

However, of late, we are needing to resort to a firmer form of discipline with our 8 year old. You see, he is getting his name on the board at school, regularly. Not for being naughty as such, but for being distracted or distracting others on the way back to his desk after sharpening his pencil. Or for talking when his teacher is talking. Or for talking too loudly in class. Or accessing restricted library computer files from his class room computer during free class time. He is a clever kid. And these are minor behaviour slips, most of which I think he will grow out of with awareness and maturity.

But it does raise the issue of discipline. What to do to show our son that his teacher is the boss when he is at school? At first we took away the Star Wars Lego for a week. Didn't work. A friend suggested grounding for a week, as this works well for her son, who is also Juniors' bestie. Kind of worked. But the message still wasn't sinking in. We needed a currency, and my brilliant husband found it in the Skate Park.


If Junior got his name on the board this week, he would not be able to go the Skate Park on the weekend with Dad for a skate. The threat of this alone last Friday night was enough to reduce Junior to tears. The message had finally sunk in. 

So, it seems that the Skate Park is Junior's currency at the moment. He has had a great week at school, with no name on the board and so got to go to the Skate Park on the weekend.

What types of disciplinary methods do you use in your family? What is your kids' currency?

Be Happy
Nicola 

Monday, 29 August 2011

Good Manners on Monday # 4

Last week ago, I received a Gift from a bloggy friend, the lovely Felicity at Gifts of Serendipity. Felicity gave me the gift of a link to "Life Matters", the radio program on Radio National. Danny Katz was the guest on this show, and he was talking about his latest book on Manners and Ettiquette, "No thanks Hank".
No thanks Hank, by Danny Katz

Now, at Nurture the Little People, we are all about Manners and we love books too, so when I saw this book, I rushed out to get it straight away, and it's a Classic!

"No thanks Hank" is a hilarious book of rhymes, verse and nonsense poems based on the use of manners and etiquette in everyday situations. The book is based on two characters, Hank and Hank, two boys who refuse to say "thanks" for anything, and their folks have had enough!

There is some great humour in this book and it will amuse parents and kids alike. One of my favourite tales in the book is Stephie said the "S" word and there is also a really funny take on the modern day version of Pass the Parcel.

I love how Danny Katz and Mitch Vane have written and illustrated a book about manners so cleverly, it's bound to get the kids (and their parents) thinking.


Have you read "No thanks Hank?" Do you have any other books on manners to recommend or any other favourite Danny Katz stories?

Be Happy 
Nicola

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Grateful for One Pan Wonders

I love you one pan wonder dishes! This ones' from Donna Hay
This week I am grateful for the humblest of dishes, the One Pan Wonder. I love a good tasting dish that you can easily throw together and cook in the oven or slow cooker. It saves time, due to the minimal prep and is always tasty and nutritious. And it generally satisfies all the family.

This week I have made three One Pan Wonders. A chicken, chorizo, cherry tomato, potato roast thingy (inspired by Donna Hay's roast chicken chorizo dish), A vegetable pilaf with lamb cutlets and a big fritatta. I love the simplicity of using one pan. I love the fact that I often use up left over roast vegies or those veg that are starting to turn in the fridge. I love that there are less dishes and I love that it gives more time for other things, like family or getting ready for work in the evening.


What are you feeling grateful for this week? Check out other Grateful Goodness at Maxabella Loves for a Grateful Fix!

Be Happy, 
Nicola

Friday, 26 August 2011

Things I know - it's great to meet you!

there is nothing as refreshing as new friends
I've been blogging around the traps for about eighteen months now in various forms here and here and here. I love the connections and bloggy friendships I have made on the journey. Nurture the Little People is my newest blog, being only 6 (ish) weeks old and I have met even more fabulous people that I would not have met had I not started this latest creation.

This week I know, it's great to meet you!

1. Lizeylou from shhh...it's lizeylou. She's also having a great giveaway too!
2. Emily at The Beetle Shack
3. Anna Ranson at The Imagination Tree
4. Courtney from Nobashake
5. Lee from, Mummy Issues: Part 2


These are just a small handful of the blogs I've discovered and connected with over the past few weeks. And of course another favourite is Yay for Home! Why don't you stop on by and see what other people know this week.


Be Happy, 
Nicola