Father’s Day…what if they don’t deserve to be a dad?

I think Father’s Day is a great time to reflect on the impact of a father on a child’s life. Today the media will tell us about lots of dads who do a terrific job, but I think it’s also a time to think about those who don’t.

What about the abusers…the ones who tear down their child’s self esteem, for whom nothing will ever be good enough, who are constantly trying to discredit their child’s mother, to hurt her, to make her & by extension her child’s life hell. Do these men stop and think about the effect this has on their children and most importantly their sons? I think not.

SO I have chosen this weekend to stop my son’s access weekends with his father and end the abuse. In my opinion he had 10 years to get his act together and work at being a good father, but he wasted that chance. So I say enough is enough and I am taking a stand so that MY son has a chance to BE a GOOD father to his kids.
Please share this post if you agree with me or if you know other mothers who need to take a stand for their kids xx
Resources in Western Australia

World Breastfeeding Week – 5 things I love about breastfeeding and 5 I hate!

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BREASTFEEDING! Seems like we either love it or hate it or anything in between given the day, hour or temperaments of our children. For me..today…breastfeeding is great…but it is not always as easy as people make it seem. We wonder….how do I know if my baby is getting enough breastmilk? And what about attachment? And breastfeeding positions? And how often do I feed my breastfed baby? Is my baby gaining enough weight? Is my baby too fat? What do I do about cracked nipples?These can be issues we all struggle with…

English: Breastfeeding the baby.

I have breastfed three children with varying degrees of success & am still feeding my daughter.  My first son had huge difficulties with attachment, dropping below his birth weight at 7 weeks…I then expressed milk for him until 5 months. With my other two I have breastfed exclusively with few problems and mostly find it fairly convenient…but not at 3 in the morning lol!  Although it is a lot easier than bottle feeding at that hour. 🙂

One mother I read about said….

At 10 months with my third I’m rapidly getting to the stage of not enjoying feeding very much at all. he has 11 teeth (including 3 molars), chews me like I’m a teething toy, refuses to feed for more than a couple of minutes at a time unless it’s after midnight, in which case he refuses to feed for less than half an hour.

We’re at the all-kinds-of-messed-up stage, and I’m very close to done. I’ll persist until 12 months (something of a personal milestone) but I’m very much over it. Dangle” on Kidspot Social Forum

And I would have to agree that sometimes I also feel that I am VERY MUCH over it, but other times I love the connectedness of it all and the convenience.  So I have decided to post my top 5 faves and hates about breastfeeding.


1. It is totally convenient, portable and ready whenever baby is…a plus in the wee hours of the morning.

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Our no fruit sugar challenge Week #5 – Nothing sweet about life without sugar

Well here we are on Week #5 of quitting our sugar addiction FOREVER.   And for me there is nothing SWEET about life without sugar!   It seemed easy to start with…clean out pantry, stop eating processed foods wherever possible and substitute fructose for dextrose when desperate!English: Macro photograph of a pile of sugar (...

OMG – if I had known it would be so hard I might not have done it, although this in itself is confronting as I feel it is evidence of just how addicted to sugar I am.

The physical side is easy…gradually my tastes are changing and when I have actually broken down and had food that contains sugar it has seemed overly sweet and not enjoyable. Energy-wise I feel great, and my 12-year-old has noticed he is full quicker, so not overeating. Also on the plus side I have lost 6 kilos since I started.

The psychological part is not so easy…everywhere I turn it feels like food is calling to me and that everything has sugar in it.  Going out for coffee is no longer so much fun…no more chai latte…no more mud cake.  No more will I take the kids out for an ice-cream as a reward.  I am finding out ALL about the amount of comfort eating I am doing and that like any ADDICTION you must break the habits (coffee etc) associated with the addiction.

I have, however been strong and keep thinking of the health benefits long-term.  It is difficult but worth it I think. I will be forever grateful to David Gillespie for writing his book – Sweet Poison.

If you are considering giving up sugar – you should check out this radio interview…it’s well worth listening to.


And….if you like us have been brave enough to take on this HUGE lifestyle change please share your comments below, I would love to hear what is working (or not working) for you.



Licensed Kindermusik Educator – finally – Woohoo!

Great news – this week I completed the teaching section of my Kindermusik course and I am now officially a Licensed Kindermusik Educator!  I will commencing teaching the Family Time curriculum next week for a local business owner.  I find I am really excited, even though I have been a Kindergarten teacher for over 15 years.

So what is Kindermusik I hear you ask?

Kindermusik is an interactive, adult-participatory, “whole child” development program that uses music and body movement classes and a carefully crafted At-Home Materials Kit to build a strong foundation in the six core areas of early learning: cognitive, language, social, emotional, physical, and musical.

In Kindermusik classes, licensed educators lead parents or caregivers and their children through joyful, carefully designed, one-on-one activities, using music and movement tailored to each child’s developmental level. Through weekly class activities you can see your child progress in music learning, problem solving, self-esteem, imagination, socialization, language, and the delight of learning.

Each class involves parent-child interaction while singing, dancing, playing instruments, listening attentively, and reading literature at the appropriate level.

It is quite exciting to begin teaching it as each course is research based to provide really great educational outcomes for both parents and children. The best part for me is that it is just FUN! Check out my Facebook page – Kindermusik with Larissa for great links about children’s music.

I hope you had a great week….



You can also find classes near you @ www.kindermusik.com

5 things I find hard about quitting my sugar addiction

Mostly we are going ok with giving up sugar, but as we enter Week #3 there are some things i just miss!

  1. Using dried fruit in cooking – I had got used to adding to the kids’ school snacks for added fibre
  2. Giving up Chai Lattes – In an effort to avoid caffeine I tend to drink Chai when I am out and about, and quite like the sachet ones you get from shops…but these are now off the menu 😦  And the worst part is I ordered one the other day at Yahava Koffee in the Swan Valley the other day and it tasted horrible because it was too sweet!
  3. Sugar on porridge – guess I am just waiting for taste buds to adjust there.
  4. Bought ice cream – we have made some great homemade ice cream (and the chocolate one I adapted from the Thermomix Every Day Cookbook was to die for) but it’s not quite the same as buying from ice cream shop.
  5. Juice – I don’t even drink juice often, but find myself craving it as I go past that section in supermarket.

What do you miss & how have you changed your habits…please add your comments below.



Kicking the Sugar habit Week #2 or how to get your kids to eat vegetables

Do you worry about the amount of vegetables your kids are eating or not eating ? I do…especially my toddler, Conor, who will quite happily eat the meat but leave everything else.  We all know we should include 2 fruit and 5 vegetables in our diet every day, but in practice this is really much harder to do and we are left wondering how to get the kids to eat vegetables.  Read on for some tips on getting the kids to eat vegetables.

We are at the end of Week 2 of our family’s withdrawal from fructose. Last week was all about selling the idea to the kids and so in a lot of my cooking I just replaced the fructose (cane sugar) with dextrose or plain glucose with good results, in that none of us felt too sugar deprived. Some things that worked were chocolate custard, sorbet (adapted from EDC Thermomix book) and jaffa cookies (from the Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie)

What was difficult was that we did some school holiday stuff and of course sugar was everywhere…ice cream at Hillarys Boat Harbour, chocolate at the Margaret River Chocolate Factory and nougat at Mondo Nougat.  We decided to go with a little rather than none and the interesting thing was the food tasted TOO sweet…already our bodies are changing and adapting.  This was really positive for us as it validates what we are doing.

So, this week we have had a closer look at the food we are putting on the table, with a view to increasing the quantity of vegetables we are all eating. The kids are great at eating fruit, but vegetables are not so popular. After some surfing on the net I have found there are several different ideas including:

  1. Rewarding your kids for eating their veges New research has shown that rewarding through either praise or a tangible reward like a sticker can help develop a lifetime habit of eating vegetables.
  2. Avoid forcing your children to eat vegetables – or any other food for that matter. Encourage children to try a spoonful, but don’t get upset if they refuse it. Eventually, they will try it, so keep reintroducing various foods from time to time. When I was growing up we never had to finish anything if we didn’t like it, but had to have mouthful or two and then we could leave it, provided we didn’t make comments about it like “Yukky carrots!”
  3. Involving your kids in food preparation.  When my son Kieran was little, he used to stand at the counter (on a stool) while I prepared dinner.  He would often eat carrots, cucumber and tomatoes while I prepared a salad, but not if they were on his plate! I figured at least he was eating them. As he grew older he continues to eat those foods.
  4. Over the years  I  have also become really great at hiding vegetables in food. Some ideas for this include :
  • Add grated carrot to mince and anything else you can sneak past the kids.  Zucchini is also a good one for this. I have even got my kids to eat Zucchini Brownies in the past (I will add recipe once I convert it.)
  • Add vegetables to mashed potato. Often the kids will eat vegetables mashed that they would not eat otherwise.  A food processor or Thermomix makes this really easy…just process cooked veges for about 30 seconds and mix through mashed potato.
  • The Raising Children network also recommend the following ideas fo kids who regularly reject veges…

If your child rejects a lot of vegetables, try slipping them into food by:

  • making muffins with your child and adding pumpkin, zucchini or shredded carrots to the muffin mix
  • tucking in a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice or carrot curls into sandwiches
  • adding chopped spinach or a handful of frozen vegetables to soups, ramen noodles, spaghetti sauce or lasagna
  • adding chopped tomato or grated carrots to tuna, chicken or pasta salads
  • cooking frozen mixed vegetables according to the directions and then adding them to store-bought potato salad
  • making pizza with your child and adding chopped broccoli or spinach to frozen pizza or frozen bread dough topped with tomato sauce
  • adding chopped broccoli or extra carrots to canned or dried chicken soup.

Our favourite idea for this week (and one which has always been popular with my kids) is making

Vege Pikelets

vege pancakes


2 cups S.R. flour (I often use wholemeal or Spelt flour)

4-5 cups cooked mashed vegetables…frozen veges work fine but cook first

1 egg

Salt, pepper, herbs to season

1/4 cup milk


  1. Cook vegetables and mash (either by hand or using a food processor).
  2. Stir in flour and seasoning
  3. Whisk milk and egg together, then add to vegetable mixture, whisking until smooth.
  4. Heat a non-stick frypan over medium heat and brush with a little melted butter. Drop level tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and cook for half a minute or until bubbles appear on the surface.
  5. Turn over and cook other side for 1 minute until golden.

Serve with tomato salsa (if store-bought check sugar content as can be quite high), sour cream, natural yoghurt or even plain. These make a great lunch box snack, but also freeze well and easily reheat to be added to a little ones meal as a serve of vegetables…..shhh they’ll never know!

Please share your great vegetable rich recipes in the comment section below or email to me – raisingmy4kids@gmail.com and I will include in Recipe section of this blog.



Kicking the sugar habit!…or stopping with the “Sweet Poison” Week #1

Wow! What a full on week we’ve had. If you follow my post you’d know that my little kids have been sick, well that theme has continued this week and sleep is becoming a distant memory! However, on the plus side, Johan and I made the decision to make a major life style change for our family – namely, STOPPING our consumption of sugar! I am amazed at the increase in my energy levels and overall feeling of well-being (although possibly I am just hyperactive from lack of sleep)

“What!” I hear you say, “that’s a little radical.” and yes a month ago I thought the same, but then we got our hands on a copy of Sweet Poison by David Gillespie, and everything changed.  His premise is that sugar (most specifically fructose or fruit sugar) is killing us. Our bodies just don’t handle it.  According to David…

“Sugar makes you fat. It is converted directly to fat by your liver and it destroys your appetite control so that you want to eat more of everything.” from The Sweet Poison Quit Plan  by David Gillespie

Furthermore, he says, it has a whole host of side effects including Type II diabetes, clogging your arteries, and Alzheimer’s disease. For more information check out his website.

That was enough for me, I decided right then that we were going to change our lives, but I didn’t really know how to. Last week Johan brought home the second book – The Sweet Poison Quit Plan  by David Gillespie and so here we are a week into our lives without sugar.

To say the kids were not impressed would be an understatement! They were in shock…no more cakes, no more lollies, no more chocolate…how would they survive? Were we serious?  Not ever?  Yes, we explained, we no longer wanted to expose them to the poison known as sugar.  That was fine, said Kieran (my son from first marriage), “I’ll just ask Dad to buy it for me!” No, we said,  it’s a toxic chemical just like the ones in some shampoos (the kids understand this as we have a small business producing non toxic personal care products)

So the first step was to get rid of all the high sugar breakfast cereals. As each box was finished, we didn’t replace it, same with the sugar, until we had just Weet Bix and rolled oats left.

Step Two was to sell the idea to the kids. I knew that if Caelan (12) was all for it, Kieran would come on board pretty quick because he hero worships Caelan. And as for Conor and Selene, at their age it’s my responsibility and if they aren’t exposed to it, they don’t miss it.  We explained to Caelan (while Kieran was at his Dad’s) why we were making this choice and that we didn’t hate him, want to starve him etc but rather that because we love him we need to make the right food choices for him and help him choose for himself when he is old enough.  I encouraged him to read the intro to the book.

Then, and most importantly I think, I tried to make the no sugar choice as attractive as I could by revamping our breakfast menu.  “Breakfast cereal is not the only choice,” I said, and so this week the kids have had…

  • Monday – amnesty day….last opportunity to eat foods with lots of sugar
  • Tuesday – Scrambled eggs on toast (made by Caelan)
  • Wednesday – French toast
  • Thursday –  Pikelets (using dextrose instead of cane sugar)
  • Friday – Fried egg and toast

The kids have been heard to comment that “the standard of breakfasts has really improved around here” (Mr 12)  With difficulty I restrained myself from clocking him one – lol.

I have also made a huge effort to make the school snacks appealing, exploring the range of savoury options including home-made sausage rolls, vegetable scones and home-made crackers. We also tried the jaffa cookies from the recipe section of The Sweet Poison Quit Plan.

This afternoon Caelan and I cleared the pantry and fridge of all items containing too much sugar. Things we got rid of included tomato sauce, jams, peanut butter (but not before I made a sugar-free version in the Thermomix), golden syrup, honey, dried fruit and imitation vanilla essence).  We had a whole garbage bag full in the end…because that’s the problem, EVERYTHING contains sugar and our bodies can only cope with a small amount, like maybe in 1 or 2 pieces of fruit a day, but with all of our processed foods the cumulative effect of ALL that sugar means we are eating masses of it. AND it is addictive so we just want more.

So far we seem not to have too many withdrawal symptoms and are coping OK, although I did glance longingly at the fruit juices in Coles today, and I know the kids have been cheating…but that’s ok,  it takes time to kick a habit.  Have you tried it?  Please share your comments if you have.



Conor is two today!

It continues to amaze me how quickly children grow up.  I can hardly believe… that the little baby who spent his first days in a humidicrib being monitored for breathing and heart rate is now two years old and into everything, that I spent three weeks in hospital after my waters broke waiting for it to be safe to induce him! Looking at him now, you’d never know he had a bilateral hernia operation at just 5 weeks old, although he has two tiny scars to prove it.  Just goes to show how resilient children are.

It was hard to know what to do for his birthday.  Of course his big brothers wanted a party, so we arranged for Grandma and Grandad, Auntie Karen and cousins,Sofia and Genevieve to come over for a birthday tea. I even did some very swift negotiations with Kieran’s dad to pick him up late for access weekend. And then we were going to go to the zoo yesterday…but we are all sick and little kids are contagious, so now we are back to birthday tea with mama, papa and big brothers.  I will be making birthday cake in shape of castle – Johan’s idea, of course now that time is upon us to actually make it, Johan is sleeping off his night shift – lol! We will also have fairy bread and homemade sausage rolls.

Quiet book from “Elisa Loves” blog

Presents were a tricky one for us…I wanted to go home-made, having been inspired by some great things I’d seen online.  I also feel that we are becoming very driven by material possessions and am looking at ways to change our family’s attitudes in this respect…and the toy box is already overflowing! Johan, however was inspired by the toy sales.  In the end we have compromised by buying only three presents – a toy broom/dust pan set, cash register, and a box of play food; instead of the ten Johan wanted to get. I have put off the home-made ideas until a week when we actually have time to make them and we are all healthy!  We will try for our zoo trip in another few weeks.

Blowing out his candles!….covered in spots head to toe…a birthday to remember!

Coughs, sniffles and ‘orrible snotty noses (and my thoughts on the Immunisation schedule!)

That’s the name of the game in our house this week…my two little ones have come down with  really AWFUL colds!  So once again it is no sleep for mummy – don’t you love it!  I foolishly said to Johan last week that I was getting really tired and starting to feel seriously sleep deprived.  Well that gave the Universe the go ahead to just make it worse…hence the sick children!

I usually don’t worry too much when the kids are sick and try to get by with LOTS of sleep, LOTS of fluids and Panadol or Nurofen combined with sponge baths for high temperatures (as a last resort) as I really don’t like putting extra drugs/chemicals into their little bodies.  You hear of all these wonderful treatments in the media only to be told six months later that the particular chemical combination is cancer causing.

However this morning we noticed that Conor (2 tomorrow) had a a rash of small red dots on his stomach, so we dutifully rang the local doctor’s surgery, only to be told that they had no appointments as there were only two doctors on duty…in flu season!!  After some discussion I was put through to the nurse, who started out by asking after his immunisations (we only did to 6 months and now that we know more have not immunised our daughter – 4mths) and then given a stern lecture about the dangers of not immunizing which brings me to my rant…our immunisation schedule.

In Australia we have a daunting array of immunisations that we are expected to give to our children before they turn two.  These include

BirthHepatitus B

2 months – Rotavirus (a live virus!!! so contagious they tell you to be really careful when changing your child’s dirty nappies after they’ve had it!), Tetanus,Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib), Polio, Diptheria, Hepatitus B again, Whooping cough and Pneumococchal disease.

4 months – as above

6 months and again

12 monthsMeasles, Rubella, Pneumococchal disease, Mumps, Hib, and Meningococchal disease

18 months – chicken pox

Our children are given all these while they are at  their smallest and most vulnerable, most of them given by 6 months of age!  I question whether my children need ALL of these.  Especially since many are given in combination which has been shown to cause adverse effects and in some cases linked to autism.

And then there is mercury…

“A new study found that primates that received just ONE vaccination containing thimerosal, the mercury-preservative found in many vaccines including the new swine flu shot, had significant neurological impairment when compared with those who received a saline solution injection or no injection at all” from an article by Dr Mercola

Thimerosal is used in many Hepatitis B, DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis-whooping cough), diphtheria and tetanus toxoids (DT and Td), tetanus toxoid (TT), influenza, and other vaccines.  Mercury is the second most toxic metal besides plutonium.

Another concern is the use of Formaldehyde in vaccines to kill live viruses. Formaldehyde is a known cancer causing agent.  It is also used in embalming fluid…and yet we inject it into ourselves and our children.

The hard thing for me as a mother is that I want the best for my children. I don’t want them to contract fatal diseases, but neither do I want to poison them unnecessarily.  There is a lot of information around and it can be hard to make decisions, especially when government payments are linked to immunisation and there are comprehensive media campaigns on its benefits (funded by the pharmaceutical companies, who also offer kick backs to our legislators, which is a concern).

I think the only thing we can do as parents is find out information for ourselves before we blindly do something because the hospital, doctor,  government etc recommends it.  But the choice is ultimately a personal one.

In our family, my husband and I were both immunised as children, as were our older two children….BUT the schedule was different.  There was no Measles, Mumps, Rubella, rotovirus, Hepatitus B or chickenpox.  Flu vaccines were not part of the prescribed schedule.  We have decided to immunise our younger two children from two years, and then only one vaccine per six months, no combination vaccines.

We believe that catching childhood diseases such as measles and chicken pox rounds out your immune system and I personally had measles, mumps, Rubella (also known as German measles) and chicken pox as a child.  My children are also breastfed which I believe boosts their immunity.

This has not been an easy choice for us. In fact it has been downright scary…we have worried that our children may die because of our choice…but then the other arguments are also compelling.

Please add your comments and let me know what choices you have made for your children.Immunisation Baby : Vaccination: doctor injecting baby Stock Photo



Useful Links

Children and chores…

There’s no two ways about it,  kids = lots of mess…and when you have FOUR kids the mess multiplies! Now I am generally fairly laid back when it comes to cleaning, I mean I’d rather cuddle the baby or play with the kids any time, but there’s only so much even I can deal with.  Add to that a South African husband who grew up with maids his whole life and you can have a VERY untidy living space very quickly.  The husband I can’t do much about, but the kids need to know there are NO maids here and I am certainly not she. So my kids have jobs that they have to do to help everything run smoothly, because that’s part of being in the family team, right?

I have tried a number of different things, since Kieran, now 10, was quite small (around 5 or so) and one thing I found was to keep the kids helping out, flexibility is key.  Being a teacher, I like the formality of job rosters and have tried a few over the years.  In the past I have linked them to star charts & rewards like stickers, pocket money and even tried to encourage them to do it for love (we’re still working on that one!!).

So here are my top 5 tips:

  1. Start them young. When kids are small, like my two year old Conor, they want to help you, so find something they can do and let them.  Conor is kid jobcurrently fascinated with the cupboard where we keep our plates and up until recently would focus a large portion of his day on getting into it – he even took out a few plates and threw them on the floor to see what would happen! Then I had the idea of letting him “help” me unpack the dishwasher, by putting the plates away (under supervision).  This has worked beyond anything I could have imagined.  Now that he knows what is in the cupboard he leaves it alone – an added bonus.  He also helps out with the washing – handing me things and telling me who they belong to; and is keen for any opportunity to wipe things with a cloth :
  2. Set a standard and be prepared to stick to it. As my boys have got older, they have tried doing a job badly, in the hope that I will get sick of them doing it – this is great for them if it works!  Sadly, I am not that sort of parent.  When the kids take on a new job I show them how to do it e.g. sweeping the floor and call them back again if it’s not done properly.  I am hoping that they will eventually realise it’s easier to just do it properly the first time.
  3. Be flexible.  In my experience most rosters, charts etc. have about a six month life span before they stop being effective and we need to change to something else.  Click here for some of the different ones I have used – feel free to copy and adapt as needed.
  4. Negotiate jobs with the kids.  As my boys have got older I have tried to give them a little more control over how they will contribute to our family life.  We have talked about how having a tidy house benefits everyone, and how helping out means I have more time to share with them. But the key thing that has worked is allowing them to decide what chores they will do.  I have some such as keeping room tidy, which are non-negotiable, but the others they can change but have to stick with for at least two weeks.  Originally I suggested all the jobs (maximum 5 daily jobs including room), but one day Caelan was wanting to swap unpacking the dishwasher – funny how older kids hate it and Conor loves it!! I couldn’t think of anything for him to do, so allowed him to make suggestions until we both settled on something that was truly helpful AND he was prepared to do – he chose sweeping a wheelbarrow of leaves a day. Since that time the boys have really enjoyed thinking up different tasks to do to help out and of course if anyone is stuck for idea I always offer them the dishwasher!  I have been really surprised by their creative ideas, which have included clearing our (Johan’s and mine) dirty clothes from our bathroom to clothes hamper; collecting Papa’s dirty socks (he leaves them in the strangest places!); taking the little kids  dirty nappies to outside bin; and helping Conor to pack away his toys at the end of the day…which just goes to show how different we all are, as I would much prefer the dishwasher option!

I have also tried linking a variety of rewards to jobs, but the most successful to date has been screen time.  My kids can have 30 minutes screen time on a week night, and 2hrs on a weekend day.  Screen time includes tv, Nintendo DS, XBox, Wii.  On week nights they can also watch one hour of tv with the family.  Currently they must complete jobs, homework & instrumental practice prior to having any screen time.  So far it’s working…and they have the option to negotiate an extra 10 minutes by doing an extra job of Mum’s choice.

Extra jobs was something that came about over the Christmas holidays, when the boys decided that as they had more time they should help out more.  So we agreed that each day they would complete a job of my choice!  Maybe the working for love is working out after all!!!



Links for Kids and Chores

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