A life of health and wellness…with kids!


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Holiday Hapennings

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Now that the christmas period is over and we are getting back into the swing of the daily happenings of life I thought that I should come back to giving this space more attention. The garden is overflowing with produce, not completely providing us with everything we need but doing a fine job of supplementing our fresh (organic!) vegetable intake. There is art and craft happening on a daily basis and we are enjoying the outdoors during this not too hot high summer.

I haven’t made any formal resolutions for 2015 but over the past few weeks I have definitely had some goals beginning to formulate in my mind about the direction I want 2015 to take for our family. Rhythm and health need to be the main focus as we have one boy heading into grade one and one boy heading into preschool. Healthy living with less (less than we already do) reliance on processed and packaged foods in our diets. Fortifying our mental health with more crafting and time spent doing introspective artistic pursuits. Reading…novels and more intellectual tomes, and Rhythm, instilling that daily ebb and flow that helps us all to be more calm and get everything done that we need to do.

So in light of that the goals that I have set for myself include the following:

  • Read 12 books in 2015 – one per month
  • Sew (or knit) – 12 garments in 2015 – one per month
  • Try one new whole foods based recipe each week – and share it in this space!
  • Take a weekend getaway – or two – this year (We already have one planned for March!!!)
  • Learn form our work in the garden over the past year and implement these learnings so our organic produce is even better in 2015 – I’ll write about this more over the next week or so.
  • Focus on the sentiment that we have everything we need to live this life – we do not need to spend money on unnecessary wants and desires – just the things we need. (This is a hard one for me but something I need to work on!)

And thats it!! If I achieve all of these things then 2015 will have been an awesome year!

These too are the things that I will be focused on writing about this year, I really hope that anyone who does read my blog continues to do so and that I might even see some new readers hop on bard this year!!

Happy 2015!

xxAndj


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School Canteens and the Food Giants

evil food giants

Many of you may recall the recent *ahem* disagreement between certain high profile chefs and nutrition experts over the marketing of ‘liquid breakfast supplements’ as a healthy alternative for kids who don’t like eating breakfast.

It could certainly be easy to think that these food products have been created with the best interests of those who consume them in mind – especially considering that  Kelloggs is marketing their products in particular, directly at parents who are short on time and need a fast solution. Kelloggs marketing director John Broom is quoted in FoodMagazine saying “The new breakfast drinks are made with 90 percent low fat milk are low GI and contain around 10 percent sugar. They also score green on the Schools Canteens approval rating system, which indicates the drinks are among the best commercial products available for young children”. Sounds good right?

It’s true – they are BUT – and there is a big but – does this mean they are healthy and that it is perfectly OK for your child to consume these on a daily basis?

My question is How does a highly refined product such as this, without a skerrik of whole food (other than sugar) as an ingredient – even get onto the Green rating in the school canteens approval rating system?

Lets take a look at the ingredients?

cocopops ingredients

The reason it is allowed under the green category is because it is a low fat milk product – and low fat milk products under 375ml are considered to be in the green category. See below:

Canteen guidelines

However, what is alarming is that plain old full fat milk – the type that was forced upon our parents and grandparents at primary school on a daily basis – falls into the Amber category – Why is this so? Because of the FAT content.

Yes I understand that our current Australian Dietary Guidelines place an emphasis on the consumption of low fat food but in doing this, the green light has been given to food companies to change the composition (read increase the amount of added sugar) of their foods to ensure that the flavours, taste and textures remain unchanged. What alarms me most is that the same serving of full fat milk contains less calories than the example given above.  Remembering that it is consuming more calories than our bodies expend that causes excess weight gain – when food companies are telling us that it is OK too feed this manufactured ‘food’ to our children on a daily basis – it is not surprising that we have an obesity epidemic.  I haven’t even mentioned how the conversion of unnecessary (added) sugar in our diet actually contributes to fat gain metabolically – because others have done it far more eloquently than I. While I am not generally an advocate of Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar tirade I do agree with her on the topic of ‘quitting  added sugar. If you are feeling scientific and would like to watch a video on the topic go and have a look at this talk by Dr Kieron Rooney from the University of Sydney speaking on the topic – it is truly fascinating.

Back to the milk.

milknutr

You will see that a 250ml serving of Full Cream milk contains 703kj, 12.3g Carbohydrate (which is all Lactose – no added sugar) and 9.5g Fat. In comparison, the product above contains 740kj, 24.3g of Sugar (of which 13.8g is Lactose) and 3.3g of Fat. Yes the full cream milk has more fat, however it also has approximately half the sugar – and none of it is added sugar – assuming you are not lactose intolerant – our bodies can metabolise Lactose very well. So in the flavoured liquid breakfast you get extra sugar  AND extra calories – not to mention extra chemicals in all those stabiliser and enhancer numbers.

I know that I would much rather my children to have plain old full cream milk with half the sugar (and I don’t know about your children but mine go a bit cray cray when they have extra sugar) and a little bit extra fat than the chemical laden liquid breakfast substitute.

We as parent have to wise up to the evil marketing that the big food giants use to appeal to parents and children if we are to win the battle against childhood obesity. If you think – who am I to be able to do something about this? Actually, you can!

Sarah Wilson has teamed up with Kieron Rooney to lobby the NSW government to make changes to the NSW School Canteen guidelines – and they need 10 000 in person signatures to make it happen. If you live in NSW and the food your children have access to in school is something that you feel passionate about then do your best to try and sign this petition. Every little bit of effort from an individual helps.

What else could you do? If you see a food item in your school canteen that you are unhappy with – let your P&C know, have a look at the healthy school canteen strategy (Other states have similar guidelines/strategies) – to back up your lobbying efforts. Many small efforts add up to results and your opinion can make a difference!

As a disclaimer to this post – I am not in any way affiliated with Sarah Wilson or her petition – it is simply a topic that I feel passionate about. Real food is more important than processed food and it is only though people power that we will get any government to take on multinational corporations. Additionally, I attended the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society 2014 conference last week and saw Dr Kieron Rooney’s key note presentation on this very topic – but it is the type on information that all parents should know – so if it enrages you too – please share!!

Andjxx


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How does my Garden Grow? October 13th – 19th

homegrown peas

The Garden is making me so Happy right now!

I know that the beginning of spring is usually a time when people feel a bit despondent about the produce (or lack there of) that is coming from the garden but as this is the first time in 3 years that I have had a productive vegetable garden, it is making my heart sing.

homegrown produce

 

I brought in the last of the Broccolli this week – a crop which I planted with no expectations of actually eating anything from the planting – purely just to fill a gap in the garden over winter. The peas are being extra abundant this year – and the chickens are still warming up to the fact that it is spring. We getting 3 – 4 eggs every two days at the moment.

The greens garden is now empty of Kale – which all went to seed at the first hint of heat – and was fed to the chickens, but the spinach is still going very well and I am enjoying it in my green smoothies.

spinach

I planted Calendula all through the veggie garden – both for a touch of colour and to attract some beneficial insects to the garden. They are just starting to flower now and while I should be collecting the flowers to save the petals for Calendula Salve (For Little B’s eczema) – I am just enjoying the flowers right now.

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I have been very organised this year and have created a fenced area for the veggie garden – just in case those pesky chickens escape – at least they won’t be able to get in to the main veggie beds. I am planting my pumpkin plants into compost at the far end of the picture also. The cabbages at the top of the picture have been totally eaten by cabbage moth caterpillars and have also gone to seed – so they will be being pulled out soon and replaced with something else – not 100% sure what yet.

seedlings

Last but not least are the babies – waiting patiently to be put into the garden one the chances of frost have passed. I planted a few tomato plants into big pots to allow them to grow big prior to planting out this year and it has been a successful strategy so far. The plants are doing really well. In there I also have some Chilli, Capsicums, and eggplant. I may end up keeping one or two eggplant in a pot – just to see how they go. I have a few varieties of Tomato planned this year. I will save that for a future post.

How is your garden growing this spring? Trying your hand at something new?

Andjxx

 


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and so I bought a Dehydrator…

Aldi Dehydrator

I have been waiting and waiting for Aldi to stock these Lumina Dehydrators again so that I could justify buying one – just to have a go and see if I like the result. So last week when I saw these in the Aldi catalogue, I put it in my diary so that I didn’t forget to go and grab one.

So far I have only used it a couple of times and having absolutely no experience whatsoever with food dehydrating – I had no expectations of what it should perform like.

My low expectations aside – I think that if you want a basic dehydrator for dried fruit and nuts that you make yourself – then this is  probably a very good option – at least until you out grow it and need something bigger and more comprehensive – by which time, I dare say you could probably justify spending more money on an expensive dehydrator.

On  the first day I bought a punnet of Cherry Tomatos and I had some strawberries in the fridge and I thought that I would just give it a go. I put them in at 70 degrees and the strawberries were done at about the 7 hour point and the tomato’s ‘semi-dried’ by the 10 hour point. The strawberries were great – like tasty little lolly treats. The tomatos were a bit tart – and I have since discovered that certain varieties of tomato make for a better ‘sun-dried’ affect than others.

On Saturday I put in some pineapple, banana, apple and kiwi fruit. The apple, kiwi and banana were all dried enough for our liking at the 10 hour point, the pineapple had an extra 4 hours the next day and probably needed longer – however, the little ones wanted to eat it so it didn’t really matter.

Dehydrated pineapple

The key is to choose good tasting fruit to start with – as if the fruit is sour then this is only intensified. The kiwi fruit tasted a little bit like sour lollies. The pineapple and banana were divine and the apple tasted like – well – dried apple.

I look forward to doing some more experimenting with it and to being able to use it to preserve any excess that we might have rather than it going to waste or simply to have another preservation option available. It is definitely a good feeling to be able to put these things into the school lunch box knowing that it is just fruit and nothing else.

On the downside, I had to say goodbye to my bread machine as a trade off to getting the dehydrator. It went to a good home though and will see many more loaves yet I am sure.

Andjxx

 

 


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A Day at the Beach

On a gloomy day a couple of weeks ago we planned a day trip to the coast – we set off in the morning and hoped like crazy that there would be sunshine on the other side of the mountain – it wasn’t to be sadly. But the kids didn’t mind one bit!    Gloomy Beach

They happily threw themselves into the freezing water, digging and collecting along the way.

 

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Sand Drawing

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We had fish and chips on the beach for lunch and everyone except the driver had a snooze in the car on the way home.

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To Blog or Not to blog

sculpture garden Canberra

Family

sculpture garden Canberra

Family

It has been quite some time since I have felt like blogging at all….it has all just felt like one extra thing to place a demand on my time. I have had plenty of ideas of things to blog about but actually sitting down to write felt like too much.

 

So I didn’t.

 

Instead I have been spending my time out in the world with the three men in my life and in my garden with my plants and my chickens…being all meditative about life.

The urge to blog has been there and in fact just last week I started to get all reminiscent about how great blogging has been for keeping a timeline of our family life..chronicling where we are at in a certain place and time.

So last night when I came across a few local Canberra region bloggers who blog about Urban Homesteading, Permaculture and living a simple more purposeful life something clicked…That is where I want to be also. My family and my crafts and my garden and the cooking are all the things I love doing and love blogging about.

And so I am back….I can’t promise searing regularity of posting but there will definitely be posts…and pictures…

 

xxAndj


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HappyMamaMade – my Etsy store

shop sign

About a month ago I created a small Etsy store to sell a few small Waldorf inspired items. Some lovely wooden Buses and Tractors (yet to be added).

Waldorf inspired wooden bus

My good friend Kelly over at Happy Whimsical Hearts has one of our lovely wooden buses to give away this week on her blog. Click on over there if you would like a chance to win  one. If you have no luck in winning one – just pop over to Etsy and buy one for $15 Australian dollars. It would be a perfect gift for a small boy in your life!


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Why I’ve stopped ‘Liking’ on Facebook

Facebook is a minefield.

So much information passing through our heads every time we log in – its no wonder that more and more people appear to be having issues with focusing on everyday life!

But once you take care of all of the ‘friend’s that you didn’t have in highschool’, and the ‘friends that you met at a wedding’, and the ‘friend’s of friends’ – the list could go on – you are left with the constant feed of all those blogs, businesses, charities and causes that you have ‘liked’ at some stage.

I have recently started making an effort to go in an ‘unlike’ any of these ‘like’s’ that aren’t contributing to my clear headspace. Seriously, it is like a constant stream of advertising, of bloggers trying to desperately sell their latest get rich quick scheme, of fitness models pasting their perfection to make you feel guilty about the gym session you skipped today because there are only 24 hours in the day and the organisation guru ‘mom’s’ who make you feel sick to the stomach with their perfect Tiffany Blue and crisp white kitchens with perfectly pinterest worthy tupperware and linen closets with labels.

Well I am sick of it.

Isn’t there enough in this world to make us feel guilty as working mums?

It’s not enough anymore to just make it through the working week and managing to feed the kids and make sure they have enough clothes, apparently we have to check of the list in  our carefully preened ‘Home management binder’ while we work on creating a perfectly laminated menu board where we can plan our meals in advance for the next 30 days, have prepared our children a dairy free, wheat free, fruit free, nut free, sugar free…fun free…. weeks worth of stimulating lunches with cute “I love you lunchbox notelets in the shape of a heart” included

I am over the guilt that these apparently perfect people seep into our not so perfect lives. For those of us who fall into the perfectly OK category of ‘normal’, who do not feel the need to be organised to the n’th degree, who know that umm…towels and sheets…go in the linen closet. I salute you – especially if you can manage to get the said towels and sheets back into the linen closet before they are required for use again.

So the only things I am going to ‘like’ from now on are things that build up my self worth as a working parent, things that encourage my spirit, things that nourish my soul. No guilt, no shame, no sales pitches. I’m done.

I feel a little better now…..thanks!


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Technology and the Healthy Kids

HealthyKids on a Walk

HealthyKids on a Walk

A whole week Screen Free… Would You? Could You?

This past week it was Screen Free Week in America.

There is much written these days about the recommendations for young children and screen time. The official stance in Australia from the department of Health and Ageing  states the following:

“For children 2 to 5 years of age, sitting and watching television and the use of other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games) should be limited to less than one hour per day

Children younger than 2 years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media            (DVDs,  computer and other electronic games)”

In the Steiner school system (the educational philosophy we follow in  the HealthyKids home), it is strongly encouraged that children (especially in the preschool years) are extremely limited in the use of screens in the home. This has nothing to do with the recommendations of the Australian Government and much more to do with the principles of child development applied in Steiner philosophy.

This follows that children need to develop their physical body completely and gain a strong basis in their physical body before they are ready to begin developing their academic functions. Thus the emphasis on outside play and indoor imaginative play, using items found in nature that stimulate the imagination and allow the child to become wholly present in their physical body.

If you consider most small children, you can see that for most, sitting still is challenging – even when you do allow them to watch a show on TV for a short time, they jump all over the lounges and just cannot sit still.

The other element of the abstinence from screens is the aspect of how they might limit the imaginative process. A child whose head if full of Ninja turtles or Dora the explorer is likely to be strongly influenced in their choices of imaginative play. The magical world that is created in the Steiner inspired preschool environment is geared towards  the gentle development of a wide-eyed wonder and a strong active imagination. Crucial elements in the further encouragement of the gross and fine motor skill that go along with play that involves being physical in some way (rather than sitting in front of a screen).

These are vital elements in our children becoming future adults who are chronic disease free and able to self regulate exercise AND screen time.

The key word here is self-regulate.

Children who grow up with the expectation that a screen/technology based form of entertainment come to see that as the norm. Some people might say ‘but my child does play sport – I take them to soccer,ballet,gymnastics,swimming…insert organised sporting activity here’ – that’s great and organsied physical activity definitely plays an important role. But what I am talking about is the everyday normality of simply going outside to play, or choosing a game inside that involves dressing up, making a cubby or having a tea party with their soft animals. All of these activities involve using muscles and hands in was that develop fine and gross motor skills. They also develop a psychology in the child of that being active and running around is normal and fun in an everyday sense – that you don’t need to go to a football field or a swimming pool or a gym in order to be active.

In our home we do own a television, however the children’s watching of the television is highly regulated and they would be lucky to watch more than 2 hours of television across the entire week. The television is not in the main living area and neither is the computer. The children are allowed to use the computer under supervision only and once again it is very limited. My husband and I both own smart phones and I have an Ipad – which the eldest child is allowed to use as a treat only – he plays a game that encourages him to draw letters of the alphabet.

I am by no means anti-technology. This is something that as a parent who believes in Steiner education, I often get questioned on. It often goes a little something like this:

Q: “Isn’t that one of those schools where they don’t use any computers”

A:”Yes – the junior school has no computers and they are quite limited in the senior school”

Q: “In this day and age don’t you think you are setting them up for failure by not allowing them to learn about these new technologies”

A: “Not, not at all, they don’t need a computer in the classroom in order to learn to be interested and aware of the world around them.”

Q: ” Um…Ok then, Well good luck with that then…”

The unspoken context of the discussion is always that the child who is not exposed to these technologies is going to be a poor student and clearly not going to do well in life. However, the point is that they do get exposure to these technologies, in a supervised and regulated manner. Something I noticed very quickly when H boy first started using the Ipad to play the alphabet game was that he could very confidently draw the letters using his fingertip, he had excellent letter recognition and he appeared to know what he was doing when it came to drawing the letter in white space on the screen. However, when I asked him to draw the same letter on a piece of paper with a marker or a crayon – he could not do it. Even when I laid out some dots on the page for him to follow – like in the game- he couldn’t do it. I didn’t really understand this at first so I  thought about it for some time. Then it hit me that the reason wasn’t because he didn’t know the letter or what he needed to do to draw it – but that he could not control the marker or crayon with his hand well enough to write the letter. This is basic fine motor skill development – and learning to write letters on screen with your fingertip just doesn’t require the development of the same muscles as it would if he needed to hold a pen and control it across the page.

Imagine my surprise to see on the front page of the Daily Telegraph today an article pointing to the fact that teachers are finding that children are struggling with the capacity to write due to the fact that their fine motor development is impaired as a result of under-use – allegedly due to the increased impact of screens on their physical development.  They are having to set classroom tasks that are aimed at developing these muscles such as playing with pegs and plasticine to develop the pincer grip required to hold a pencil as a suggested measure to improve this potentially weakened area of development.

SO it seems the couch potato age may have more of an impact on future generations than anyone may have ever considered. As parents we have some degree of impact on how the next generation will emerge. We worry so much about the rising costs of health care and the rising incidence of chronic illness – prevention is key and through the choices we make and the examples we set now – there is a chance that our children can grow up learning how to be adults who value their health more than their technology. I really hope so.

xxAndj

(Ironically, while I was writing this post MrHKHM came in and told me I should get off the computer and stop ignoring the boys…he is right of course…LOL)

What are your thoughts on screen time and kids?

How do you approach it in your home?