Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"How often a good meal is ruined by 'inadequate' vegetables! The French hold vegetables in such high esteem they frequently serve them as a separate course."

This is the second post to do with cooking healthy foods using ingredients which people often see as unusual or difficult.
As I said in "I'm Confused" What is Healthy Eating?" Week 51 Quote 51, I like to eat all the varieties of fruit and vegetables that are on offer each month, and moving around different protein foods.


Aubergines (also called Eggplant) have a useful amount of Vitamin A,B,C and fibre. It's low in salt and calories and is cholesterol and fat free. It has a unique deep purple glossy skin which needs to be smooth and firm when bought. Traditionally aubergines were used in cooking throughout Asia, the Middle East and the Balkan area. Today they are appreciated by a much wider world audience. Many people have never eaten aubergine, so here's a simple but deliciously tasty recipe you can start with.
We eat these as a part of a meal and also as an appetiser - waiting for the meat on the BBQ ..... Always addictive - you can't stop at one!

Wash and thin slice the whole aubergine. Put a lavish slurp of olive oil on a large baking tray and coat both sides of each slice. Lay out the slices on the baking tray and grate parmesan cheese over and scatter dehydrated garlic (or spoon fresh crushed garlic)on the top.
Put into a preheated oven at 190*c (I use oven fan), for 15mins or till browned and a little crispy.

>> DHAL <<

Lentils originate in The Middle East. They say the nutty flavour of lentils is what makes them appealing. My family absolutely LOVE eating dhal. To them lentils are soul food. It's a great meal when camping - nutritious, easy to cook and fills big empty tummies!
Lentils need to be eaten with other grains, such as rice or whole grain bread, then they become a complete protein.
The protein content of half a cup of cooked lentils eaten in this way, is equivalent to the protein in one egg.
Lentils are a good source of Vitamin B, they have no fats but do have lecithin which helps to deal with fat.

Olive oil
1 sliced onion
1 large garlic clove
1 cm slice fresh ginger
1  1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds or
1 teaspoon cummin seeds or 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper corns or
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
2  1/2 cups red lentils (these are 
      quick to cook)
                                                                   5 cups water
                                                                   1 tin coconut cream 

Slurp olive oil into t medium sized pot. Add onion and cook for 5 mins on a low heat. Put garlic, ginger, coriander, cummin, pepper, salt, and garam masala into a mortar and pestle - crush and grind. Spoon into the onion pot and keep cooking 5 more minutes.
Add red lentils stir through then add water, stir. Turn up the heat and cook on medium-high for 10 mins, then turn back down to low for 15mins. Stir every few minutes. Add the decadent coconut cream, stir and cook for another 5 mins. Serve with steamed rice

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Be BOLD and cook using a main ingredient that is 'new' to you. If you're stumped for ideas have a look at recipes from a different culture to your own - you could get the kids to choose, then help make it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


"Not long ago I was travelling through Dallas-Fort Worth airport, sitting at a food court, when a three-year-old girl let everyone within two blocks radius know that she wanted a Happy Meal. Mom said no, and the daughter brazenly slapped her mother in the face.
Grandma, who was seated with the mother and her daughter, looked on in horror. She was clearly mortified by her grand daughter's behaviour, but seeming more so with the mom's actions! You could see the words she so wanted to say: 'Are  you going to take that?' Not only did the mom take it, to make things worse she actually got up and bought her daughter a Happy Meal! I had to fight every impulse within me to get up and explain to this weak-willed parent what she was getting herself into."
"TEMPER TANTRUMS - Don't Let Your Child Call the Shots" by Clivechung on HubPages.

On first read this may simply look like a little child having a temper tantrum - which it is. But as well as a child choosing to misbehave in a public place, a parent is choosing to be manipulated and controlled by her preschooler. The child has called the shots. A mother has fallen into line under her command. The gratification of the insistence of a child for a particular food, has been given a higher priority by the mother, than securing that her own decision was carried out. She is putting her child centre-stage in life.
A child is put centre-stage if there is too much attention directed towards them. It can be the baby-sitter, an auntie, grandparents, a family friend, one or both parents. They worship the child and allow them to have their own way in areas which are not theirs to hold any authority in at all.
Some families centre-stage one child, for reasons including the following ~
   ~ they are a physically beautiful child
   ~ they are academically smart
   ~ they are gifted musically or artistically
   ~ they are competent in sport
   ~ they are the only girl in a family of boys
   ~ they remind the parent of themselves as a child......
Some families centre-stage all their children. It could be that they believe their method is an example of love and freedom, of giving opportunities of choice, thereby helping the children in future life. But if a child no longer sees them self as a child in the family, but thinks of them self as having authority over others in the family, or, they think their wants, preferences and choices have higher priority than the rest of the family, then this child is being allowed to live centre-stage in the family.
My hero Charlotte Mason, describes a child who is put centre-stage as being "out of orbit and not of use to society". She goes on to say that all children "....come to us with two inherent forces, centripetal (=moving or tending towards a centre, towards oneself) and centrifugal (=moving or tending to move away from a centre, away from self), which secure to them freedom, ie, self authority, on the one hand and proud subjection on the other." page 70 "A Philosophy of Education":Charlotte Mason.
The child who is put centre-stage is barely developing the "centrifugal" force in their character at all, hence Charlotte's description of them being "out of orbit". This is entirely true. A centre-stage child thinks on life from the perspective of them self - only. They don't think outside themselves because they have been trained that the focus is on them. Consequently they are numb to other's needs, feelings, rights of choice... Even more alarming, if allowed to develop to maturity, they are unable to put themselves into the experience of an opposing position to themselves - no empathy, they have sympathy, but of a type that is motivated by their self preoccupation, so it suits them, makes them feel good... Another result is that they are not team players. If circumstances demand they work in a team, the centre-stage person only participates on their terms. The democracy of the team set-up is re-configured into more of a 'do it my way' or the person simply leaves the team because it won't cooperate with them. 
Why is this? Because in the main, their experience is that parents have always stepped out of their way for them. If they want something it has been granted. The expectation that everyone fits-in with them escalates.
For a parent in this situation there is only one solution. The behaviour of the child must change, and this only happens if the behaviour of the parent first changes.
   1. It begins with saying "No" to the child, not just one time and then giving way to the child, but sticking to the "No", carrying out the full consequences of that situation's "No". If this pattern is consistently lived by, a parent's relationship with their child will radically change, and a centre-stage child's behaviour will improve. The dominance the child has over the parent and entire family, will in time disappear. Consistency however is essential because you are changing a habit both in yourself and your child. Any wavering nullifies all the territory already gained. Think of how important it is to keep on target with the rehabilitation plan for the alcoholic and drug addict, to get to full restoration. 
When we say "No" to our children we are setting boundaries and limits for them. This way they learn their appropriate place in our family, not as Boss, but as a child who is part of the family, community, society and country..... A correct perspective on self for the future.
   2.  Parents need to identify situations when they regularly put their child centre-stage, allowing them to call the shots. If parents plan how things are going to operate before getting into these situations, and communicate this to the child, then life starts to move along lines where the child has to fit-in. For example, the mum in the above quote could have prepared her three-year-old before leaving for the airport, by explaining that when Grandma arrived they would go to a cafe and have a drink. Just a drink, nothing to eat, just a drink. By telling the little girl what they were going to do, how they were going to operate while at the airport, mum would have felt organized, leading the way into the occasion.
   3.  A third area where children can develop a mindset of dominance or deference is through attitudes portrayed in movies, games, TV and the books they read. From these pursuits, do they 'see' people who are out for themselves, annihilating others for their own dominance? Or do they find people who think of others, are brave, but for the benefit of others? Media such as movies, video games and TV for children, give clear and full descriptions of what both these styles of character look like. Parents need to decide which style they want to feed to their children.
   4.  Once the parent establishes these new patterns, the child may react badly. This is where a parent's best ally is to stay relaxed. "Don't buy into the dramas or feed them to make them worse." from Karyn Van Der Zwet : "Parents : Some Kids NEVER Get Bored" Kloppenmum blog. Don't shout over the child's performance and screams. Don't negotiate or debate. Don't get involved in the "soap opera, replete with yelling and tears and general gnashing of braces. Like I said you need to deal with this with a sense of humor." says John Rosemond, family psychologist : "Parents Can Give Children Too Much Attention". His point is not to give our attention to the ridiculous behaviour while the child continues in it. But instead forcing them to give up the big fuss, control themselves and get used to how the real world operates - for everyone, not just for them.
You may like to read Karyn Van Der Zwet's post "For Parents : Emotional Support V Emotional Indulgence".


THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ If you find that you are the parent described above, hopefully there are points in the HELP AND CURES section you are eager to get working with.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


"An 11-year-old boy has permanent eye damage from the beam of a green laser pointer that was bought as a toy.
It burned his retina - the light-sensitive back of the eye - leaving a 1.5mm scar and increasing his risk of developing central-vision blindness.
His eye specialist, Dr Diane Sharp, and his mother want the Government to follow other countries and restrict access to high-powered laser pointers.
Regulations are being developed, but laser sales are still unrestricted.
Their call follows a demand from the Airline Pilot's Association for regulatory action.
The association is concerned at the number of cases of laser pointers being shone at planes in the air - at least 17 this year - which could distract or dazzle a pilot at night, leading to a crash.
The devices have also been used against police, sports stars and car drivers.
They are intended for use as lecture pointers or for pointing out the direction of stars, but often they are sold as toys or gimmicks and are dangerously and unnecessarily powerful.
The 11-year-old, whose family requested anonymity, bought his 200milliwatt laser pointer for $15 during a family holiday in Thailand in January.
His mother said that in June, he played with the pen-shaped device in his bedroom with a friend on a sleep-over.
Afterwards, he had a "fuzzy blob" in his vision.
His mother later learned he had lasered his eye when he shone the pointer in a mirror and was momentarily hit by the reflection.
She said the family knew not to shine the light directly into the eyes, but did not know of the risk in reflecting the beam.
The boy has lost some visual sharpness in his right eye, reducing its reading level on the eye-testing chart by three print sizes, but his overall vision is not greatly affected because his left eye was not lasered.
"We are going to be extra protective of his vision because he is slightly compromised," his mother said.
"I feel bad because (the pointer) just seemed like a fun, groovy thing to buy. It did have this warning on it, but we had to get the magnifying glass out subsequently to see it : 'Danger, radiation, avoid direct eye exposure.'"
"There needs to be raised public awareness about the easy availability of them and the potential damage that can happen so quickly."
Dr Sharp said: "The voluntary standards are not adequate for this device. Consumers do not understand the classification system. A class-three 200mW green laser is extremely dangerous."

Laser pointers can be used for :
* Lecture and presentations. The National Radiation Laboratory says 1 milliwatt is powerful enough.
* Amateur astronomy, for pointing towards stars and aiming telescopes. Laboratory says 50mW is maximum needed.

Unsafe uses :
* Don't give any laser pointer to a child as a toy.
* Don't aim one at a person, especially the eyes, or at a mirror."


To understand a little about how light from a laser works, I found an excellent article on line from Scientific American, "Can a Pocket Laser Damage the Eye?" It compared a laser light with the light from a light bulb.
A light bulb sends light out in all directions and we see only a small amount of that light at one time. A laser however, sends out light in one small beam, so if the laser is aimed at an eye, the eye is receiving all the laser's energy.
The light of a light bulb is of different or varied wavelengths, but the laser is "a pure tone, only one wavelength. The coherent light will be more damaging."
"Because of the unique features of laser light, it is magnified by 100,000 times as it passes through the eye. The light passes to the back part of the eye, the retina, which is where we perceive vision."
Scientific American made similar recommendations to the article above, with the addition of "DO NOT look at a beam from a laser through a microscope or binoculars."
In the streets of Auckland city at the Rugby World Cup celebrations, one of my sons saw children with laser 'toys', shining them into people's faces. The danger when laser pointers are mishandled, definitely needs to be more prominently known!
Another source of damage to eyesight, can come from the more readily used, digital camera flash.
Recently the 18-year-old daughter of a friend, suffered damage to her eye after photographing herself at arms length in the dark, with her digital camera. As she took the shot, she held the camera to the side. The camera possibly focused on the wall behind her, the flash therefore giving a more generous quantity of flash to light the distant wall, in comparison to if it had focused on the girl herself.
Dr Diane Sharp, who is a part of this case, along with fellow collegues, found the degree of damage to the girl's retina, surprising. The camera flash was tested to check if it had malfunctioned and was found to have an acceptable intensity.
Online I researched camera companies to see if they carried any warnings in their information section about dangers with camera flash ~
Kodak's warning was detailed and clear especially in relation to photographing children, recommending no closer than 1.5 metres.
Nikon and Olympus likewise expressed caution when photographing infants, recommending no closer than 1 metre.
Pentax said, "Do not use flash near anyone's eyes ..... be particularly careful with flash around infants."
However online "Peano's forum article "About Eye Damage from Flash" in February 2007, said " produce .... permanent damage, a focused intense light must be held in one location on the retina for a time several magnitudes greater than the duration of a camera flash .... flash as a main light in dim light conditions may produce a temporary reduction in vision but no permanent damage. Flash on nocturnal subjects during nighttime should be used sparingly due to brief impairment of vision. ..... Hypothetically, if scientific information indicated that flash photography under normal use, produced permanent retinal damage, it would trigger additional rules and regulations."
Tim Solley in "Will Flash Damage Babies' Sensitive Young Eyes?", came to the same conclusion as Peano's forum. Having done a thorough Google search on material up to September 2007, Solley said that camera flash cannot permanently harm the eyesight of babies.
These two comments and others like them on Google, are probably completely accurate when photography is practiced within the norms of the pre-'bebo' years.
Digital cameras became more common around 2003-2004. But it was probably in July 2005 when the website 'bebo' was launched, that the phenomenon of photographing oneself at such close range, actually began.
Searching through Google from 2011, 2010, 2008 and 2006, the number of handheld self photographed images diminishes sharply with each year, until in 2004 I could only find one recorded image taken in this method.
A handheld self photographed shot, is CERTAINLY less than 1 metre distance from camera to subject face, and in some cases would barely be 50cm in distance. This is well below camera makers recommendations, putting this style of photography out of the category Peano's forum described as "flash photography under normal use".
With increasing numbers of people using cameras in this manner, POSSIBLY the effects and dangers thought previously not to be possible, need to be researched and reassessed. Eye specialists are alert and have begun research, and professionals in the camera industry should follow, re evaluating their warning information with flash usage.
If an eye is damaged by a camera flash, the other eye works toward compensating for it, over the following days. This can give an injured person, a false idea that healing has occurred. This is why it could be hard for parents to determine if a small child has eye damage or not.

How does all this affect someone using flash on their camera?
  *  Do you really need a flash? If not, turn it off. I recently watched a mum photographing her
      preschooler in doors. She took dozens of shots all on flash, at a distance of less than a metre.
  *  When you do need to use flash, get children to look to the side of the camera before the shot, NOT
      at the flash. (my friend suggested this and the next 2 suggestions - thanks C)
  *  Restrict photographing in the dark. Eyes fully dilate in the dark and so are fully open to allow the
      maximum amount of flash in - this is dangerous.
  *  If photographing in dark conditions, be aware and careful of where you aim the camera. A camera
      flash senses how much light is needed to illuminate the object in focus. If it is directed at a distant
      wall, you over flash yourself.
My friend's daughter has been recovering well since her accident two months ago.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ If your kids take flash photographs, maybe you need to share this information with them. 
The dangerous risks with laser pointers, needs to be circulated and made public to parents and children alike.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


We parked the car at Devonport.

As we walked to the ferry we passed a crew of gardeners planting parsley and silverbeet in the public gardens along the street.

We hopped on the ferry and headed for Auckland city.

Gliding passed the lately erected pavilion called "The Cloud".........

we docked in front of the old Customs House in Auckland city.

Immediately, THE IMAGE, bathed in brilliance, welcomed us.

We entered the Wynyard Quarter and crossed the team colours striped walkway heading to the Wynyard Crossing - the bridge perfectly opened for the shot!

The huge two-people sized wooden lounges, waited on the other side for any who were tired and needed a rest.

A coffee and cake at Rush Worths (son-in-law works here).....

then a stroll along the kilometre of low wooden bench seats that perimeter the harbour.

We arrive at stage one of Silo Park in the Wynyard Quarter.

After climbing the 12 metre high, 110 metre long steel gantry, we stand by the swamp grass ponds looking back along the kilometre bench seat walkway.

Wish I could  have played on the beautiful shell themed playground.

Into the fish market which is right in the Wynyard Quarter.

A stop for ice cream.

Into "The Cloud" , under the clouds - at the other end of the Wynyard Quarter.

After a free bus trip out of the Wynyard Quarter up Queens Street, we walked up Wellersley Street towards the art gallery and found the Keruru sculpture. The Auckland Art Gallery reopened last weekend after a revamp.

"Red" by Choi Jeong Hwe, greets us at the entrance to the art gallery

I love the soft reflections in the water pool underneath.

We slipped back past "The Cloud" on the ferry, ready to go home.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ I guess most Kiwis and visitors to NZ will be heavily involved in rugby and enjoying our beautiful cities in Aotearoa ~ The Land of the Long White Cloud.


Friday, September 2, 2011


             COUNTING  DOWN  -  2 DAYS TO FATHERS DAY!!!!
                        Here in New Zealand this Sunday is Fathers Day

                                   The 'venue' of our Fathers day celebration

We actually celebrated Fathers Day last Sunday at home, over a late, long lunch. Unfortunately we had two sons missing, one living in London and the other stuck at work, but this coming Sunday even more couldn't make it. The group of eight happy faces did the trick for my husband, who felt loved by his kids.
                                       Some of our kids making lunch for Dad

I put the question "What do you love about being a Dad?" to six fathers.

James will be a 'dad' by this coming Christmas ~
"It was two weeks ago, and my wife and I were having dinner with some friends. I was asked out of the blue, 'What are you looking forward to in becoming a dad?' Had I had time to collect my thoughts, I think I would have said: 'Amidst all the upcoming challenges, I'm looking forward to taking pleasure in the small things, the little things my child does. I'm expecting to enjoy how my wife and I grow a new admiration for each other as we see our limits stretched.'
Instead I blurted out, 'Hmmm.... not sure. I'll have to think about that!' "

In the Mothers Day post WEEK 37 QUOTE 37 , Joy wrote about what she was looking forward to when she became a mum. Her husband, Rhys, writes below - they are still waiting for their baby's birth - soon now??
"For me, the thing I am most looking forward to in becoming a dad is enjoying the wonder of what it means to be a father. Having the privilege of caring for a child that is mine, teaching and raising them to know God and love life. It's a daunting and exciting place to be at the same time!"

Another writer who was a mum-to-be in the Mothers Day post WEEK 37 QUOTE 37 was Kelly. Now as parents, her husband, Andrew writes ~
"The birth of our newborn has been such a joy to our lives. Being a new dad has brought reflections on the past and the blessings I've received. Now the journey of dispersing them to my son has begun with a great hope in my heart for what is to come from his life. I used to talk to him in the womb, 'hurry up baby, it's better out here than in there!' Watching him smile and laugh, (after being out of the womb three months now), has persuaded me he's starting to agree."

Nancy also wrote about being a mum back in May WEEK 37 QUOTE 37 , and her husband, Aaron, father of a bunch of kids, says ~
"I am surprised at the reoccurring realization that I am a father of four wonderful God-given children. A privilege and responsibility I think is probably the biggest task I could ever undertake. I still find myself completely unqualified, unready, and unsure on how to be a good and conscientious parent in this huge task - but would not trade the opportunity for the world. My love and joy of them and for them, is a beautiful empowering thing. I love the way my eldest is already striving to be the best he can, always asking, always discovering. I love the way my next son is so sharing and thoughtful toward his siblings, and how he can be so intuitive and quick at summarizing the matter at hand. I love how my youngest boy is pushy and stubborn while trying to be a 'big boy' - yet still able to be quiet, thoughtful and solitary in his own company. I love the cheeky squint and smile of my baby daughter as she deliberately woos her daddy - successfully I might add... I love the way all the boys rush to me as I walk in the door, ready for a wrestle, full of knights, dragons and all sorts of imaginative adventure. I love in particular the way all of my children look up to me as if I am the best dad in the world, no matter how many times I fail them... I am proud of my children - despite all the rough edges they all possess - and I find myself wondering at the delightful and ever advancing characteristics of these little souls. I love being a dad!"

Here's the thoughts of a dad with children, teenagers and beyond ~
"What I like about being a father now is the joy I have in knowing that I can continue to love and encourage my children despite their growing up and moving out and on to other places and ventures. Far from these opportunities fading out as I feared, I feel I now recognize them and use them better than I did before."

Finally a father of four children, with eleven grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren, said ~
"It's the fact that our children have produced beautiful grandchildren for us and are giving us a lot of pleasure."
And his wife added ~
"You see what great people your children have grown into and they all support us."

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ If you are a father - stop, watch and listen to your children a little more than normal. Don't hanker for the future when they are grown and gone. Enjoy what they are now. That way you will have great memories of them in the future.