Monday, August 30, 2010

Booksneeze Book Review

Saint Francis by Robert West

Francis was a wild young man, and lived in times of warring city states in Italy. He was very taken with the idea of being a knight and was the ringleader of a group of local playboys nicknamed the "Sons of Babylon". He had a natural charisma and charm which attracted others to join in his lifestyle. He lived for pleasure, partied hard, and used much of his father's ample income on the most luxurious clothes, food and entertainment. After being taken prisoner for a year and treated terribly, he began to question the true meaning of life. During this process he opened the door of his heart to God, began to immerse himself in the reading of the Bible, and to turn aside from all that had kept him distracted from being a truly loving person. The change came slowly, but for Francis he knew this call meant a radical poverty which seems odd today: sleeping on the ground, begging for food, not having warm clothes etc. This, however, was never an end in itself but more an opportunity to make space in his heart for God.

As the book comments: "It is a concept that few people can understand, because living for most of us has always been driven by the desire to acquire whatever might satisfy, not just our needs, but our desires... He saw what most people see only in brief flashes... that such a preoccupation can be a form of slavery... he believed that our headlong pursuit of "things" tragically deprives us of the most precious possession of all- the presence of God! That presence had become the source of the greatest joy Francis had ever known... "Lady Poverty" may have been adorned in rags, but she was the lady of the palace of God." In the materialistic and hedonistic world in which we live today, Francis has a timeless tale to tell of what will truly bring us happiness and peace.

The book provides context for Francis' life and goes into detail about historical events which impacted upon him at the time. It also sketches a picture of the difficulties he faced from his own father in seeking to follow God before everything else. The flourishing of his Christian life and growth of the friars is another remarkable proof of God's power during this historical period. At the time of his death there were over 3,000 friars following the life Francis was living.

Francis died on October 3rd, 1226 and was canonized(declared a saint) only 2 years later. This is also remarkable, as the process usually takes decades and sometimes centuries for a thorough investigation of a persons life to ensure they were consistent in their holiness and a true example to others of a life worthy of imitation.

This book is part of Thomas Nelson Publishers 'Christian Encounters' series, which aims to make it seem that "we are now living in the world that they created and understand both it and ourselves better in the light of their lives." Robert West certainly achieves this purpose, and it would complement some of the other more well-known biographies of St Francis such as "The Little Flowers of St Francis" and those written by Thomas of Celano and Bonaventure.

Saint Francis was born a person. This is a fact sometimes overlooked when reading other biographies as his life is so extraordinary it seems his humanity is unlikely, but it was in the truth of his humanity as brought out in this book that makes his holiness and the miracles associated with his life an even greater testament to the power of God in all of our lives, and the way anyone can have the same power when they love God more than anything else, especially more than themselves.

Disclaimer~ This review was written by Lucy (commonly referred to on my blog as Grown Up Lucy). Homeschooling mum to 2 little people and my homeschooling mentor. Lucy loves Booksneeze so I'm happy to share my blog with her, and this being her first review. You can absolutely tell I didn't write it! Thanks Lucy.
Lucy received a complimentary copy of this book through the Booksneeze program for the purpose of reviewing.

Peterson Directed Handwriting Review

Over the past month with TOS, we have been reviewing Peterson Directed Handwriting. I choose to only trial this on Lucy as she's not had any formal training in handwriting. The states in Australia have their own style of handwriting that is commonly used in schools. I've used Queensland Cursive in the past, as I was most familiar with it after having taught it to the older 3 children. I used it loosely with Jessica and Maddie I have used another method. So Lucy was still really a blank slate as far as formal handwriting was concerned.

I have to say that I have found the Peterson Directed Handwriting a little difficult to understand at first.Purhaps me more then them. You know I have had wedding brain for a while. However, once I sorted my end out Lucy found it simple and more 'normal' for her to use. We're using the We Write to Read Series in Kindergarten Print. They have products available for both classroom situations or the homeschooling families which you can see here.

The actual Peterson Direct Handwriting website is rather comprehensive. With video's there that help you to not only understand their product but also the rational behind the method. They link a direct correlation between the ability to be fluent with your handwriting and your ability to read and offer many studies to back up their claims. They also offer reasons why a child should not trace over letters as a way of learning to write. Click here. The course is more personalised with your ability to be able to 'speak' with Rand Peterson via a weblink. Something that not many homeschooling curriculum offer.

I loved it in the end and have found Lucy really getting the hang of it quite quickly. She enjoyed writing practice and I wasn't met with the "oh no not handwriting again!" Something that I have heard many a time in the past. You can check out more of the sample Ebooks here. Really worth a look.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I've Got The Hang Of It!!

It's so easy!! Grown up Lucy (homeschooling mum around the corner who lives with 0 clutter)has been telling me it's that easy but I didn't believe her!! It's really rather athletic.

Step 1:
pick up the rubbish bin.

Step 2:
Stretch out arm straight in front of you.

Step 3:
(Now this is the important step)
With one arm you raise the bin to the required level. Following that with one large sweeping action you just sweep across the offending area eg: microwave and just sweep it straight into the bin.

Step 4:

Husband arrives home and say's "my you have been busy!" You bask in the glory and feel rather satisfied because you know the secret and when the family says "mum where is my ..." I will reply with a very sympathetic look "honey, I just don't know?"

Step 5:

Go to bed feeling very happy. Oh wait that LAUNDRY IS STILL IN MY ROOM!!!!!

It's All Too Much!!!

I feel totally overwhelmed since the wedding. The girls are absolutely feeling it too. I feel overwhelmed by STUFF! Boxed in by things everywhere! I finally got all the wedding 'stuff' out of my room. Oh, don't look under my bed as you will find a wedding dress, breadmaker, hamper of groceries... the wedding presents. My husband in his wonderful helpful way decided after I finally reclaimed our bedroom to move his desk out and make room for the LAUNDRY!!! THE LAUNDRY!!! He decided that the laundry can no longer be taken off the line and dumped just inside the back door,but instead my/our room!!! Now, whoever is on laundry will say "laundry, what laundry? I didn't see any laundry!" I will be awakened in a cold sweat by the laundry monster. I know it. I can feel the anxiety building already. One basket will become two, then three. Next my son will up load the lot onto my bed because he needs his work uniform. Oh, and forget he might be on laundry that week. He pays one of his sisters to do it. I love my husband but what was he thinking!!!

I went to the library and stumbled across that book by Peter Walsh It's All Too Much, started reading the first chapter and through it down. No I'm pushing the trailer over to the garage tomorrow and loading all the .... stuff up and driving it to the dump myself. I have no emotional attachment to it. Any I did have was gone long ago. It's just going.

In order to fit her husband in to her room downstairs Cait had to move her 'stuff' into the main area which was already over loaded with .... there's that word again. He came with one suitcase, a few pairs of Army Fatigues and a "I won't get in your way, and as soon as we get a house I'm out of here smile." Bless his little green Australian Government issued socks.

I was diagnosed with MS a couple of weeks ago and have been on so many mind altering drugs, that if they haven't pacified the 'overloaded' demon in me nothing but a mini skip will!!! Now I'm not going to pass the blame on to other family members, as I have my fair share of 'stuff' downstairs as well. But I'm done. I have a date with the dump and it's NOW!!! So good bye, farewell you know the rest of the song, I have a clutter dragon to slay. Oh wait, I had best just take a few more of those little blue tablets and maybe one or two of the yellow ones that making walking possible. Good Bye dear friends I am off to slay the dragon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Booksneeze Book Review.

As part of the Christian Encounters book series Anne Bradstreet written by D.B. Kellogg was an interesting read. While I expected it to be a little more focused on her actual poetry I did enjoy the the fascinating walk through the life of the early pioneers of what was once known as New England.

Anne Bradstreet was a young Puritan women who traveled to New England in 1630 with her beloved husband and family. Her father had fostered a strong love of education and God in all his children from an early age. This love of learning and love of God was what sustained her during those difficult years as a pioneer of not one township but several. On the opening page Kellogg stated Bradstreets feeling of "in Truth, it is the absence or presence of God that makes Heaven or Hell." There seemed to be times when she most certainly would have found it difficult to distinguish between the two. Kellogg made note several times of the relationship Bradstreet had with God and her faith was firmly affixed to belief's as a Puritan women, mother, wife and poet.

While I found the history enjoyable it was the personal glimpse into the life of Anne Bradstreet that I most enjoyed. In the final chapter it refers to how, while on her deathbed, she addressed her "Dear Children" who had all grown and scattered in the world. She wanted to transcribe "the truth and set forth Gods glory, not hers." Bradstreet kept close to God and whenever a trial or affliction beset her she would look at her life and evaluated what was a miss in her fellowship with God and would recognise "Gods hand in all things" within her life.

The examples of poetry included in this book, while limited, were beautiful. As a women of her time it was highly improper for her to be anything other than a wife and mother. It was remarkable that her brother-in-law with or without Anne Bradstreet's knowledge, saw to it that these works were published. He did go to great pains while getting them published to preserve her Godly honor and pointed out that she wrote this poetry while never neglecting her God given duties as wife and mother. Today Anne Bradstreet is recognized as being the first American poet.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have to a agree with the purpose of the Christian Encounters Collection in that "We learn through the lives of others. Their experiences, their trials, their adventures become our schools, our chapels, our playgrounds."

Disclaimer~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers through the Booksneeze Program

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Story Has Been Featured On...

Or So She Says... They featured our story of living with a Bipolar Child.

My Favorite Multi Purpose Cleaning Recipe

I discovered this book a while back "How to Clean Practically Anything" By Sydney Pemberton on the Choice Magazines website. I was so sick of spending tons of money on cleaning products that we literally "flush away". This is my favorite household spray & wipe cleaner - you can halve the recipe if needed because these quantities are a little excessive.

4L hot water
2 tbsp cloudy ammonia
125ml white vinegar
2 tbsp bicarbonate soda
2-3 drops lavendar or lemon (optional)
2 tbsp basic household soap cleaner (I use dishwashing liquid)

Method- Pour 4 litres of hot water into a bucket & mix in all the ingredients. Let cool and pour into spray bottles. Use as an all-purpose cleaner for kitchens & bathrooms surfaces.

This book is available at the library but I bought my own copy cheap from ebay.

Also when we moved house a while back I used this on our walls and the results were amazing.
4 tablespoons of baking soda , 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 litre of water. This is a great general cleaner and saves money and fuss.

If you do venture over to the Choice website this is the best recipe for muesli. It is a must try.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thank-you Ladies

This week I received 2 blog awards which was a nice surprised after having a quick break with all the wedding happenings.

The first one was from my favorite and most life saving blog Our Busy Homeschool. Tristan runs the most amazingly normal and real life homeschooling blog. I don't know how she does so much with a large family while pregnant. She keeps it real and isn't all razzle dazzle like a find at times, because if some mums are doing all that they blog about then not much homeschooling is getting done. So Thanks Tristan.

The second was from Dana over at Noggins and Nonsense. Dana's blog is always jammed packed with amazing insight and fantastic posts on life and homeschooling. I love it!

So thank-you both, that was really great. So here is the 7 random things about myself.

1: I hate shopping, not for grocery's but everything else. Like clothes, shoes and 'stuff'.
2: I keep a box of National Geographics under my bed which I love to read at night when I hop into bed.
3: I'm still in love with my 2 Pressure Cooker's.
4: I can't dance, won't dance, and have no rhythm. When my husband and I got married that was one of the things that we had to have a solid understanding on. It was not, will not change over time. You know that phrase "Dance like no one is looking" that was written specifically for me. More as a pledge really "Do not dance regardless of whether anyone is looking or not!"
5: I love the sound of rain and I always let my children play in it no matter what the time of day.
6: I love to draw and paint. I'm not so good these days.
7: Apart from wearing ugg boots everywhere I like my flannelet pajamas. I mean I really like them!

So that's it! So thank-you again for thinking of me. So it's mid afternoon on a rainy day and the girls won't be home for another 45 minutes. Time enough for me to get into my flannelet pj's and ugg boots on and read my book!

Now to pass it on? I would give the Sunshine Award to ~

1: All Saddled Up This sweet girl has only just started blogging and she has just become a teenager last week. She just looks like sunshine.

The Journey at Our House Award has to go to:

1: My friend Melodious Sonnet. We actual have meet at the park after have meet blogging. We have ton's of girls each and both now have exactly the same calling church. I love her blog and she has been homeschooling her girls since birth (10years)so she can teach me a lot.

2: Light, Liberty, and Learning This is always a great read.

And then I would give At Home both awards because any women who is single, homeschool's four children, and is a relatively new convert to the church and is happy to share her life with us and is inspirational gets both awards.

TOS Expo is Here Again

Schoolhouse Expo

Registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool speakers, sharing with one another, and fun door prizes.

Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free E-Books.

The line up of speakers includes: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. Also planned is a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing. Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your LIVE event ticket.

Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr.
Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register started 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.

The theme for this conference is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" They are going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.

If you can't make the Live event,and that is difficult for us Aussies. I tried last conference to stay up until 11pm, get up at 11pm or sleep through and get up early by day 3,(Australia is in a totally different time zone, by 1am it felt like a different planet. Clearly I'm not as young as I used to be) then the October Expo To Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!

Having attended the last conference I can can tell you that it is amazing value. I learnt so much from all of the speakers and many of them had a great special offer for those who attend that really was the icing on the cake.

One of the things I loved about actually getting up to participate in the Expo live was you had the opportunity to interact with women (and a small amount of men) all over the world. It was incredible. And for some of the women participating it was illegal to homeschool in their country but they were still there learning how best to teach their children along with the rest of us. To me that was one of the highlights.

You can visit either of these links to get more information.

Disclaimer~ I am receiving a free Expo-To-Go ticket in exchange for this post

The 2010 School house Planner

I just received a free copy of the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner to check out and I have to say right off the bat this looks fantastic! I currently use an exercise book as my learning journal for the girls but find this extremely limiting. This planner on the other hand has everything you need. Not only does the Planner help organise your homeschooling life but it helps you organise that other life. You know the one we have when we are not homeschooling. I can still hear you asking which life is that and where can I get one.

I have to say I love the "Car Maintenance Schedule" & the "Car Information to Remember". HAH, all I want to remember is where I left the keys. My husband was a mechanic in a former life so maybe I should stick this up on his cupboard as he has gone a little deaf and can't hear the slight rattle in the front bush's. This is an Australian kind of deafness from driving around in his ute with the window down all the time which actually does damage your ear. I think its a conspiracy between the male ear specialist and any husband that comes through his door?

But wait there's more!!Weight-Loss Journal & TV Show Reminders. I love it!!
Now on to other important points. It includes so many hyperlinks that will help you with planning, organising and curriculum. The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner can be used as an online planner. The included forms are editable. You just fill it out on the computer and hit save, and or, you can printout the required pages which are in pdf format. With over 600 pages you certainly get a lot for your US$39.00.

I will put this together over the weekend and post the end result next week (you know when I get organised)In the mean time have a look at the sample pages.

Click here to preview 59 pages for yourself

(disclaimer: I received this product free. This post is my entry into an ad contest with The Old Schoolhouse as part of TOS Crew. The opinion I expressed is my own)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just a Few More Happy Snaps

Just a few more of the wedding photos. I know you would think it was my only daughter, but instead I have another 4! I am glad that they are spread out in age because 10 minutes after I payed for the reception, the fraud department from our bank was on the phone to my husband to say that there had been some large and unusual activity from our bank account. "Yes he said, just my wife paying for our daughters wedding". I'm surprised they haven't sprung me for using The Book Depository!!!

Their Bridal Waltz was to Mindy Gledhills All About Your Heart which was a perfect choice for them.

Science Fun

This week Jessica has been working on a science project. What else would a child rather do than a science experiment with chocolate as the main ingredient.
She is making...

Magic Chocolate

You will need

• Cooking chocolate
• Coconut butter (available from health food shops)
• Large saucepan
• Small metal mixing bowl
• Plastic container
• Kitchen scales
• Water
• Wooden spoon
• Tea towel
• Ice cream
• Spoons
• Bowls
• Stove

What to do

1. Weigh 100 grams of cooking chocolate using a set of kitchen scales.
2. Weigh 100 grams of coconut butter using a set of kitchen scales.
3. Half fill the saucepan with water and set it to boil on the stove.
4. Sit the metal mixing bowl on top of the saucepan of boiling water and add the chocolate,allowing it to melt.
5. Add the coconut butter.
6. As the ingredients melt, stir them together using the wooden spoon. Use the tea towel or an oven mitt to hold the bowl, as it will be hot.
7. Optional: Add other ingredients such as mint flavouring, cinnamon or nutmeg to flavour your chocolate topping.
8. Once it has all melted, pour the mixture into a small plastic container.
9. Scoop some ice cream into a bowl.
10. Pour the chocolate over the ice cream and watch it harden.

What's happening?

Coconut butter is essentially little more than the oil from the coconut seed. It is extracted either by washing the kernel's white meat in a pool of water and then skimming the oil from the surface; or by directly squeezing the oil from the dried coconut.
The oil is a specific mix of different types of molecules called 'fatty acids', which are long chains of hydrocarbon (carbon with hydrogen atoms attached) ending in a 'carboxylic acid' group.
Depending on how the carbons are linked to each other, some of them can be linked to two, one or no hydrogen atoms. If there are any carbons holding less than two hydrogen atoms, the fatty acid is said to be 'unsaturated'. These chains can also be short (caproic acid has only 8 carbon atoms) or long (arachidic acid has 20 carbon atoms). The lengths of the chains and their saturation will affect the temperature at which the mixture will turn to a liquid.
At colder temperatures, the mix of fatty acid chains in coconut butter clumps together as a solid, which is why it hardens on your ice cream. Once the temperature reaches about 24oC, the solid butter melts into liquid oil, which allows it to flow freely.


Fatty acids play an important part in your health. For the most part, your body can produce them from other nutrients. However two types of fatty acid (called 'essential' fatty acids) need to be taken in through the food we eat, especially plants like linseeds and soybeans. One is a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. The other is a type of omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid.
They are both unsaturated and are important in allowing our body's cells to communicate with one another.
Too much fat in your diet – especially saturated fats – can lead to health problems. For example, some fatty acids can easily stick to damaged blood vessels to create rough plaques, slowing the blood flow or creating a blockage. However, removing all of the fat from your diet can make it difficult for your body to perform all of its important functions.
So enjoying a bowl of ice cream with some coconut-oil chocolate topping every now and then is fine. Eating it every night, however, might be creating some problems for your body. A healthy, balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables with frequent light exercise is the best way to ensure your body has all of the important nutrients it needs to keep you fighting fit well into the future.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Electioneering We Shall Go

This Saturday in Australia we are about to have one the most critical elections so we thought we should get a little more involved. So tonight we pickup our sandwich board and how to vote cards and will be camped outside the Newmarket State School on Saturday. I just mentioned to another friend on her blog if I start to wear the candidates shirt over mine and start waving from the side walk at passing cars you know I have gone to far.

Really, this is such an important time and as I have been doing my research on each of the candidates it has made me so sad to see how many of our female politicians are funded by EMILY'S List. Babette Francis wrote a great article detailing the insidious power of this group and is well worth the read.
The women in our current election who are funded by Emily's List can be found on this page. Take a look if you are an Australian so you can see where the funding is coming from for your local candidate and also for Julia Gillard, Penny Wong and many more candidates. Also and more importantly what they have to do in return for this money. It is not a no-strings-attached funding. They have to fully support activities that are nothing short of criminal.

Another great site is Australia Votes. This site asks the questions that many of us would ask and gives the answers from each party. (Thanks grown -up Lucy for a heads up on the sites)

Apart from that, I sure do fear for the future of Homeschooling if Julia Gillard is elected Prime Minister. I'm not sure she will see a future for it in her Education Revolution!

All we can is vote and pray and then do all we can raise our children up the Lords way. Elder L. Tom Perry said in "Mothers Teaching Children in the Home" Ensign, May 2010,

"Teaching in the home is becoming increasingly important in today's world, where the influence of the adversary is so widespread and he is attacking, attempting to erode and destroy the very foundation of our society, even the family. Parents must resolve that teaching in the home is a most sacred and important responsibility."

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Weddings All Over

Well it's all over and I can finally catch my breath. The day was absolutely perfect with not even one hiccup. The little ones & Bridesmaids walked down the aisle to the String Quartet playing Your Guardian Angel and the Bride walked down the aisle with her Dad to Dare to Move by Switchfoot. Shall we say I shed more than a few tears at that moment. It was absolutely perfect. After the weather cleared up with one of the heaviest rainfalls in one August day in Brisbane's history, we were left with clear blue skies and little wind. I was a little worried about the wind as Caitlin had a rose petal aisle, but I am please to report that all petals stayed where they should have. Topiaries at Beaumont was the perfect venue for the day, not to mention 10 minutes from home.
Bishop quoted from the Proclamation of the Family and a scripture in Paul which was just perfect.
Well, the last of the extended family has flown out and I'm just looking forward to life getting back to normal. We sure have a lot of house work & school work to catch up on but it was worth every minute!!
I can't wait for the professional photos to arrive. This is a photo of us on the day. Thanks Karen for the photo.
ps it's still winter over here. I know we have absolutely nothing to complain about here in Australia do we.

Roy, Tale of a Singing Zebra

I was looking for some new worksheets to put in the girls workbox's and came across this fun site. Roy, Tale of the Singing Zebra. It's a free site and looks like a bit of fun. Not difficult to navigate although not all that comprehensive either. Really just a bit of computer fun for the kids. I think I like it because the zebra is just so cute.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is it Wrong Take Summer Vaction Time For Both Hemisphere's

Well I could really get the hang of this!! If I do it right I could get the Summer break in America and the Summer break in Australia (December-January). In fact that is how I have been running it lately. I just wander around a few US blogs and see all the summer fun they are having on their break and make myself feel better about the fact that very little schooling is getting done at our place.

Well, our daughters wedding is 3 more sleeps away then life can get back to normal. I have had to make a deal with both girls if they keep their wiggly teeth in the mouths until after the wedding I will match whatever the Tooth Fairy brings. I know the whole lost tooth thing is cute but...

Anyway for today I will continue looking at a couple of blogs to remind myself that we are just getting into the 'back to school mode, not halfway through Term 3 mode like we actually are. This is the longest I have had on the computer lately because everyone has time off work for the wedding so it's always occupied. Well I checked out this blog hop peeking in on everyone's home school rooms. I love it. I'm 159 on the list so there are a few there to look at. I will have to get back to that later because I have a teenage son breathing down my neck to get off the computer.

Not Back to School Blog Hop
Check out some of these set ups!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This Is Not My Mind ~ Living With a Bipolar Child.

As many of you know we have two daughters that suffer with Epilepsy. It’s our journey together as a family with a bipolar child that I'm going to share with you today.

To understand what Bipolar looks like for us watch an episode of Winnie the Pooh. Firstly you have Eeyore the donkey always on a chronic downer, feels worthless and dejected, that there is nothing in this world for him. Unable to cope even with the goings on in the 100 acre woods. Then you have Tigger who is always bouncing off the walls. Talking very fast all the time. He is initially when you meet him charismatic, charming and funny. Willing to do all and everything for everyone and is the ONLY one who can do it. He demonstrates an inflated self-esteem or grandiosity as we call it in bipolar land and that he's so wonderful that he is 'the king of the world'. Tigger is reckless, intrusive and without regard for consequence or other's personal space or needs. He also shows agitation and is hyper 'wired' and constantly bouncing. Because of this he always has racing thoughts and is distracted, moving from one thing to the next, never actually finishing anything. Now mesh this into one body and you have Caitlin's world.

Welcome to our 100 Acre Woods

When Ashleigh the oldest was born she made mothering look easy. She read the front of the baby books. Then came Caitlin, she clearly only read the back of the book where all the thing that could go wrong with your child did.
She started, amongst a long list of other things, having seizures at 3 months. By 5 she was formally diagnosed with Epilepsy. That's when things really started to go south with her ( not that they weren't already). She developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Caitlin would scrub herself red raw in the shower then get out and need to wash her hands again. The house had to be kept perfect and should she chance upon an ad for a new cleaning product we'd need to purchase it immediately so she could scrub the walls. Still keep in mind that she is only 5.

While the Epilepsy was consistent throughout the years her moods where as clear cut as the seasons. Summer & Autumn she was manic and winter & spring she was depressed. Not the curl up in a ball with a blanket over her head it was different, more dangerous. Deadly in fact. We would get about 2 weeks a year in June when she was Caitlin. When she was little, she would pack her bicycle and runaway. Then as she got older she would just walkout the door. We had friends and family that she could runaway too but sometimes she was just wandering the streets. Keeping her safe has always been the main objective of living with a Bipolar child. You learn very early to throw away the parenting books because they don't help, but you still needed to have clear cut boundaries. I never did anything spontaneously or change plans or routine as this would cause a rage you could not control or contain. And for those on lookers who think time out or a naughty chair would do the trick "if that was MY child", you're wrong!

During High school it worsened. Suicide attempts were frequent and we lived with the constant fear of coming home to find her hanging or overdosed. You would see an emptiness in her eyes. It was like the lights were off and nobody was home. With a lot of work we managed to get her to graduate year 12. She was easily overwhelmed with day to day expectations that most school kids would just take in their stride. I had to dance this constant fine, stressful dance of protecting her and managing her life so that when she was 'normal' the consequences of her actions where as minimal as possible. It's at this time when they are between the 2 'polars' that they are at greatest risk of suicide because they can run their lives off the road so badly making the end result too much for them to cope with . Everyone has to deal with the consequences of their actions even the mentally ill. My main job was running around behind her quietly cleaning up the mess in her wake.

June was fast approaching and I was ready for that 'well' moment to appear. For that beautiful butterfly that she really is, to appear out of her hellish cocoon once again. However, like a butterfly she was fragile and time was short. I had a Psychiatrist and GP lined up ready for that moment. Always praying that this would be the year that she would 'see' and get help. That time finally came. As the real Caitlin was emerging she was looking back at her facebook and said "Is that really me?". She wanted help and together as a family we got it. She has been well for some time now but always acutely aware that a relapse is possible so she takes her medication and good care of her mental & physical health. She's learnt that This Is Not My Mind. While she has had to face the reality that Bipolar is not cured just managed, she's doing all she can to take control of 'it' not it of her. She now has the opportunity to live her mind and life. She is to marry a wonderful man who loves her as we do and is willing to learn the dance that we as parents have danced with her over her life and create their little house within our 100 acre wood.

Black Dog Institute
Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens
Epilepsy Action Australia

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mars Bar Slice Recipe

Ok, the wedding is just 1 week away now. Groom is still away on Army exercise up along the Queensland coast and will return any day now. The bride is starting to crack a little under the strain but I have the perfect medicine for her. It's ok,she works out at the gym and is still able to fit her wedding dress. But this recipe is heavenly.

This recipe uses 270g of Mars Bars.

Makes 18 pieces (each about 4.5cm by 6cm).

Use a 20ml tablespoon and 250ml measuring cup

120g butter
270g Mars Bars
1 1/2 tablespoons (30ml) golden syrup
3 3/4 cups (120g) rice bubbles

Line an 18cm by 28cm baking tray/dish.

Place butter, Mars Bars and golden syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly, using the spoon to break up the Mars Bars and squash any bits of nougat that are slow to melt.

When the butter has melted and only small unmelted bits of nougat remain, increase the heat to medium, stirring constantly. The mixture may appear separated at first. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens slightly, and is fairly smooth and amalgamated. Remove from heat.

Place rice bubbles in a large bowl. Add Mars Bar mixture and stir to combine, trying not to crush the rice bubbles. Press mixture into prepared pan and refrigerate while preparing the chocolate icing.

Spread slice with icing and refrigerate until set. Cut into pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Rich Chocolate Icing

225g milk chocolate

45g butter

Melt the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently. Alternatively, melt in a double boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave.

(we use Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate but I realize that they are not totally Fair Trade Chocolate as yet so use the chocolate of your choice. We used their 350g block which had the fair trade logo on it.)

Foot Note: Cadbury® 'Spread the Joy'.

Cadbury® has introduced its first Fairtrade Certified products into Australia and New Zealand. This means that Fairtrade Cocoa Farmers and communities can look forward to a better and brighter future as Fairtrade cocoa sales increase in Ghana. This move will increase sales of Fairtrade certified chocolate sold in Australia and New Zealand and is part of Cadbury's® ongoing global commitment to Fairtrade. You can help us 'Spread the Joy' by joining in with us to promote community awareness of Fairtrade.

This clip was put together by Cadbury's so I has it a guess it is tilted their way, but I thought I would just mention it just to raise some more awareness of the plight of the farmers and their villages and the price been paid by them each time we snack on a chocolate bar.

For the Love of Books

This year our Church Ward has focus has been on something different every month. For example 100% Family Prayer or 100% Family Scripture Study. For the month of July it was 100% Temple attendance or to prepare a name to submit. Well of course Saturday the 31st July I managed to make it in. Better late then never and it was so what I needed.

Well on the way home I stopped at a yard sale. I haven't been to one in a very long time because I have more than enough to deal with here. But the big signs and balloons got the better of me. I had no children on board who would always want toys which is out of the question. So I stop, I knew i wouldn't be long as i only had $6 in coins. Well, sitting in a lovely cane basket over in the corner was a box of old books. So while everyone else was looking at the dvd's and computer games I dived into this little basket. The woman must have been mad. She had 5 books from the little house in the prairie series from 1970's. Heidi from 1950. 5 books from the Anna of Green Gables series from the 70's and a Anne's House of Dreams from 1938. Seven Little Australian's and the Diary of Anne Frank, Black Beauty, and several other classic books. I took them all to the lady and asked how much for the lot. She said $1, not each for the lot and $1 for the basket!. I nearly passed out. When I got home my girls were just crazy with excitement. Even though the have read or are reading them at the moment, to hold these old beautiful books in their hands was just amazing to them. Like me they couldn't understand how anyone could part with them.

While my find was such a blessing, the best part was to see my girls reactions. Not of 'yuck' those books are old and worn but the opposite. They saw the beauty and value (not monetary) but the literary value and appreciation of the books for what they were.

They have all their special books on a shelf, and they treasure them and each girl has a box set of books like Little House on the Prairie because they want to read them again and read them to their children. To treasure them. I love that. My girls aren't natural learners and reading has been a great challenge to them but I have never pushed only lead them into loving books. That is a great gift and I'm so glad to watch them curled up in the beanbags reading and reading. They are also blessed to have a Dad who every single night spends over an hour each night reading aloud three separate stories (chapter books) to the girls. This time for them is incredibly special. Night after night he reads, but you always hear "oh dad you can't stop now, what happens in the next chapter". he then sings them to sleep night after night. Sometimes the stories get the better of him and I will find the children long asleep but him still reading away to himself because the story has got the better of him.
"What a splendid day... I pity people who aren't born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one". Anne of Green Gables

You just can't beat reasoning like her's can you!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Forgiveness: My Burden Was Made Light

As I have written before about the value of using Mormon Messages in your home to build not only our faith but that of our children and this inspirational story will do just that. I have never been in such a situation but I would pray that my heart could be made whole like this families was. That forgiveness could transcend the pain and loss. Regardless of your faith or belief this clip is sure worth watching.