We all like different things

Everybody likes different things 001
When the student is ready the teacher appears right? With startling frequency, the kind and clever women at Slow Family Living (SFL) throw a quietly ticking inspiration bomb my way.

This week they snuck a new and deceptively simple phrase into my mind : “We all like different things”.

I’ve been turning it over in my head like a pebble, this one phrase crash course in acceptance. Of course we do all like different things. This often leads to conflict, but it’s the differences which make things interesting. And because we all like different things, we also all need different degrees of space, time, engagement and support.

It’s well worth reading Bernadette Noll’s article here to see how this might plays out amongst the competing forces in your own household. I was inspired to make a quick mock-up for my fridge. If you like it, let me know and I’ll send you one you can print out for yours.

Overheard: Adventures of a junior videographer

Tin cansMr 9 came home early from his first gig as school videographer.  He was full of the noise and drama of it.

“They had to cut the production short!  One of the juniors threw up right in the middle of the stage!  It was chaos!

Do you want to know the worst thing?  He threw up on a little girl’s shoes!

One of the teachers said ‘sh*t’… I guess she forgot she was miked up.

But don’t worry – I got an excellent slow motion shot.”

Not for the first time did I feel l live in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip.

Appliance love

Rice CookerNo, not that sort of appliance.  This is a G rated post!

Ever had the experience where you encounter an item you had never considered buying, and then discovered that you can’t live without it?

Recently our 15 year old washing machine gave up the ghost. Along with the best price on the market for a Panasonic front loader, and very speedy service, the lovely folks at Magness Benrow sent us a complimentary Panasonic rice cooker (RRP$179).

Now, I’m not an appliance geek.  As far as I’m concerned, most things in the kitchen can be accomplished with a pot and a good knife.  I know how to cook rice. I’ve never considered a rice cooker.  And really, who wants another device cluttering up those valuable clear sufaces? So the unopened box sat on the table for two weeks as we considered flogging it on Trademe, before we were curious enough to try it.

And it was OK, it was rice, it was cooked, probably needed a little more water next time.  I did appreciate the lack of a big pot to clean and the absence of boiled over rice water on the stove.  Also the quantity was sufficient that we were able to save some for fried rice the next evening, always handy with three hungry boys.

The breakthough came when we noticed the ‘porridge’ setting and the very simple timer.  Our kids love porridge.  Often the first creaky words they utter in the morning re “is there porridge?”.  It’s warm, it’s satisfying, it’s low GI. It’s love in a bowl really.  The kids add their own milk and too much brown sugar (a large part of the appeal I’m sure). Sometimes we get a bit fancy and add sultanas, grated apple or a shake of cinnamon.

But who has time to stand there patiently stirring rolled oats when you need to be flapping about in your dressing gown, shrieking “you’re late, you’re late, have you brushed your teeth, what school trip? where’s your homework book?  You forgot your lunch, what is this sticky thing in your bag? Aaaaaaaarggghhhh!!!”.  And the pot, oh that pot full of cold stuck porridge which sits sullen and sticky in the sink all day because the porridge caught while you were flapping about.  Why is there never time to scrape the burned offering off the bottom?

Even assuming you’re more organised and less shouty than I am, you could still enjoy the feeling of gliding in to your kitchen to meet warm hearty porridge, perfectly timed and kept warm for you each morning.

The non-stick bowl just takes a wipe and replace.  Although convincing the family they shouldn’t be digging into it with metal spoons is something of an ongoing issue.  With the five cup model, there’s plenty for the four of us who like porridge and sufficient left over for our frequent visitors.  It’s easy enough for the seven year old to set it up with no drama.

An unexpected bonus is that Mr 12 likes to reheat porridge for a warm snack when he gets back from school.  It’s healthier, cheaper and more filling than the awful salty yellow two minute noodles he otherwise favours.  Win/Win.

Families are busy and chaotic places at the best of times (I’m reliably informed it’s not just ours). All those swirling pressures and agendas can add such a lot of tension, especially in the morning.  I’m always looking for ways to bring a little peace and ease to the fraught times, so I’m fully in favour of anything which helps us feel warm, cared for and happy in an efficient, low pressure way.  The Panasonic porridgemaker does just this. It has a permanent place on my bench. LOVE.

Is there an appliance you can’t live without?


8 ways to look after yourself

Broccoli upright

100 Days Project: #19 Broccoli

Sometimes the nurturers have to do a little self nurturing, right?  Because if we don’t do it, nobody else will, and everything just tends to fall apart.

Self nurture is not self indulgence.  It’s a simple case of ‘put on your own oxygen mask first’.  And it’s your one way ticket out of martyrdom, possibly the least attractive state known to man or woman.

These eight ways don’t work for everybody but they are tried and tested and they do work for me.  I’d love to know what you to to shake the glums and re-energise.

  1. Eat something fresh and colourful:  Even a minor setback often has me ratting around in the cupboard for something, anything, sweet.  You know where this goes don’t you?  Sugar-based mood swings, a fatigued kind of energy drop and general self loathing.  But grab a beetroot salad, an orange, some nuts or even a boiled egg and be rewarded with an energy boost, extended satiation and a disgustingly virtuous sense of self satisfaction.
  2. Stop, breathe and feel: Check in with yourself.  Take a second away from your desk, your trolley or your two year old. Take five even breaths and identify what emotion you are feeling.  Observe your feelings accurately without judging.  Things shift.  I don’t know how it works but somehow it does.
  3. Get your hands in the ground: It’s not everybody’s idea of fun, especially in this appallingly wet winter but it’s called ‘grounding’ for a reason. My cuticles don’t like it either, but after half and hour of getting up to my elbows in the dirt, the grey clouds lift a little and I can see the sun peeking through.  What’s that feeling? Oh, it’s ‘happy’!
  4. Make something:  Anything.  A painting, a poem, a story, a gift, a meal, a promise, a commitment.  Express yourself and know you’re alive.
  5. Clear one small ‘hotspot': Don’t try and declutter your whole house (take it from me, that’s a recipe for disaster)  But we’ve all got a ‘hotspot’ or two where the keys, mail, permission slips, pins, odd shaped pieces of plastic and the dog’s lead all tend to collect.  Usually there are 15+ items on my kitchen bench which belong somewhere else.  I feel better when it’s clear.
  6. Help someone, anyone:  Lift a pram on to a bus or a walker down the stairs, help with change for the parking meter, distract the fractious toddler in the supermarket queue or ask someone ‘Are you OK?’.
  7. Walk: Just put on your coat and go.  In five minutes you’re getting light, oxygen, fresh air, movement, incidental exercise, nature, peoplewatching opportunities, community and a whole new perspective.  Just walking with a friend is lovely too.
  8. Hug someone for more than a minute: OK now I sound weird, but bear with me. Ask permission or just grab and hold!  Sons may need to be bribed, husbands, not so much.  It might sound a bit odd but sometimes it’s just what everybody needs.  Some are quietly breathing, heartbeaty hugs, sometimes they are giggly, wriggly ones.  What’s not to like?

Even in the first world, and even when we are grateful for what we have, daily life does present its share of challenges.  Facing your own reality sometimes requires identifying and calling on your own personal mood lifters to fuel up and go forth.

How do you look after yourself?

What’s your mini superpower?

Superman logoMr Nine recently introduced me to the intriguing concept of the ‘mini-superpower’.  In case you are not familiar with this, it’s an ability you’d like to have which would make life just that bit more fun.

His new powers would allow him to:

  • Run long distances without getting the stitch
  • Go for long car journeys without feeling ill
  • Swim in cold water just that bit longer
  • To to eat vegetables and have them taste like lollies

Always curious about others, he wanted to know what my chosen mini superpower would be.

I said I thought it would be handy to have the power to switch on my computer and just do what I intended to do on it, instead of being sucked into the rabbit hole only to emerge days later and none the wiser.

He agreed emphatically that would be really good for me and added kindly: ‘Yeah, and to read your email without getting grumpy’.

Hmmm. I think that would be an actual superpower.

What would your mini-superpower be?