Friday, 9 February 2018

Lamingtongate...is it a sign of the times..Are 'Schools’ the new public health and social media police force?...



Are 'Schools’ the new public health and social media police force…and now Lamingtongate?



Lamintongate 


Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week you would've heard about the great lamington debacle where a kindergarten teacher decided to reprimand the parents for providing a ‘deadly’ lamington in a kindy lunchbox.  As we know lamingtons are deadly, oh hang on no they're not….they're actually a nice little treat and occasionally it's a lovely surprise for your child to find something in their lunchbox that maybe they don't have everyday.


As a parent that's one of your joyful rights to give your child little treats occasionally. I do it as frequently as I choose to, and good luck to anyone who tries to police it. I cook my son organic vegetarian, he eats extremely well,  he can even have meat if he chooses. So school lunches, well his are quite boring, I reserve the bulk of his nutritional intake for breakfast and dinner, so his lunches are simple, but occasionally I might sneak a chocolate into his lunchbox (insert shock horror face)… because  like most parents I know that kids get bored with  lunchboxes and sometimes you need to mix it up a little bit and give them a little surprise and make them happy. I'd rather put my time into creating a great dinner than try create some sort of bento box of culinary art work every lunchtime. 


Education on any topic including nutrition (and for anyone especially kids) is about providing examples and scenarios for learning so in fact putting a small treat in your child's lunch box can instil a sense of balance and an acceptance that treats are ‘small’ and occasional. To outright ban them is not conducive to teaching responsibility and good lifestyle choices. It's removing the learning experience. 


I worked in education for nearly 20 years and I've taught in classrooms with young people and adults so don't get me wrong this is not in any way a teacher bashing exercise, quite the opposite, as a teacher and the manger of a teaching department  I experienced and witnessed the enormous amount of responsibility that shifted to teacher from parents, right up to the TAFE and even Uni level. Where teachers often step in and provide guidance and support on issues that often left me wondering "Isn't this the parents job?" As the mother of primary school child I've seen my son's teachers demonstrate incredible capability but also struggle under the volume of administrative and 'miscellaneous ' responsibilities vying for their time. I've seen the ever growing number of schools and teachers policing parents, with the government using schools as their police force and consequently some teachers and schools now thinking they have the right to police parents.  Isn't it a parents job to parent appropriately? When did it become a teachers job? It's no news to most that the government have over regulated, administered and imbedded social issues into school curriculum to the point that now government, schools and parents think it's the schools job to police many  aspects of parenting. Yes teach kids nutrition in the schools but maybe schools need to keep their nose out of parents  jobs. If the government want to address parental nutrition education, they need to stop using schools as the police for everything. Teachers are over burdened enough. Instead teach parents directly, provide workshops, give guidance, provide them resources, address the rubbish packaged food available in shops but stop giving schools the authority and disempowering  parents, thus giving schools a perceived superiority over parents. Yes kids have a lot of rubbish in their lunch boxes but this is a systemic problem that the government need to address directly with retailers and manufacturers and directly with parents not a job for sticky nose schools and teachers on a power trip. Teachers and schools need to  focus on doing their job, to teach kids not police parents.  So let's stop  confusing the need for  a public awareness campaign with the academic education system.



Are Schools the new social media police rather than an education SERVICE provider?


This  leads me to the next issue....the new police force also known as your ‘local school’. Now no doubt I'll get into trouble with some local parents for daring to broach this subject… but let's talk ‘social media policy’. I'm not talking about the policy on teaching kids kind and meaningful communications and anti bullying strategies for the use of online technology… I'm talking schools policing freedom of speech of ‘parents’ (their customers). 


For starters as an educator and university business department manager I look at education as a service that people pay good money for. It's not a hand out, we pay for it through very high taxes and private fees. So keep that in mind as you read on.


But first let's go back to the kids experience for a minute, I see a learning opportunity in everything so yes I allow my young (8yr old) to have an Instagram account. It's completely supervised and provides an incredible learning experience on expressing and exploring his interest in animals and nature, photography, editing, technology, written communication and even social interaction, including showing support for his friends, family and peers who also use this media for their interests and businesses. He gets to see his cousins dog on walks and learn about his aunties therapy business and follow his cousins amazing University experience in environmental biology. In addition he occasionally sees something that doesn't fit with his ethics, maybe about animal treatment. So that too is a great learning experience. So I say to him “What can you do or say that might make a difference?”. He might write a little comment expressing that animals and pets have feelings or get upset and we need to protect them. That in itself is an enormous learning opportunity, to express his social conscience, to be a voice for those that don't have one and to use social media to possibly communicate about important issues. 


So when the schools get on the  bandwagon of  ‘Facebook policy’ or the ‘social media policy’ ….. let's just think about it …are they policing parents opportunity to express and defend their opinions, freedom of speech and rights? Imagine if any other service providers be they  fully privately funded or partially government funded like a hospital, doctors, dentist, housing, hairdresser, personal trainer, cleaner, gardener, plumber presented you with a social media policy and requested that you sign or agree to it, effectively deeming your right to speak  openly about an experience with their service is removed. Imagine if a shop somewhere that you regularly bought your food or your clothes or your household items or your furniture decided that they had the right to tell you what you were allowed to talk about in your social media. So it's a little bit baffling as to why this one particular 'service' provider that we pay for through our taxes and through private fees have decided that they have the right to tell us that we are no longer allowed to communicate openly about our child's experience in education, about what we think could be improved and  about what we think they have done well, or what we enjoyed, and what we didn't enjoy in relation to our child's school experience.


No other service provider could get away with this but somehow we have been conditioned that schools have this power, the authority and they are now policing parents  in a country which is thought to value freedom of speech. Like every other service provider, including my own businesses I have to make sure my customer service and the quality of my products and services are at a standard to make sure my customers do not complain about it and if they do complain about it on my social media or I become aware of it I need to make sure I fix it. I won't be sending out a noticed for my customers  to sign saying that you are not allowed to openly speak about anything they feel about  my products or services. That is positively ludicrous.


To put it in context one of my past experiences in my teaching and education management  career was to Project Manage the RMIT University customer service training strategy. It was an enormous roll out of training at multiple levels of staff from teachers, administration  to senior management. I don't remember at any point our training consisting of slapping a gagging order on parents of students in the form of a social media policy directed at parents rights to freedom of speech. Just food for thought….


Social media provides a platform for the general public to now have a voice and to demand better quality service and standards to communicate with their peers about what is potentially good or poor quality, to get  ideas, to try new things to share experiences… for any organisation or institution to feel that they have the right to police that is a form of corruption and abuse of the system. 


Many of us have had at least one experience where the line between schooling and parenting has been uncomfortably close. 

Never one to hold back my opinions, I was once notified by my son’s school to advise that I had breached the school social media policy by talking about my dissatisfaction with the homework experience that he had. (So imagine what they'll think of this article). My conversation was set to private friends only and was primarily  with my 40+ past colleagues and professionals in education who I was seeking advice and guidance from and asking whether they had had similar experiences or felt that it was appropriate whilst I vented.  Unfortunately one of my ‘friends’ and I use the term loosely decided it was their right to share my private conversations with the school. Obviously I informed the school that their involvement and any access to this conversation is an incredibly infringement of my privacy and freedom of speech. The only real lesson there for me was to not accept online  friendships from bored mothers with nothing better to do with their time than cause problems for others. However I know I'm not alone in experiencing the wrath of the "Big Little Lies" type soccer mums for daring to go against the grain and be honest.


So before you sign or accept your child's school policing your diet or freedom of speech stop and think, is this really their place in society or should they focus on the academic support and development of children and leave the parenting to us? You might be surprised that teachers and schools might  be happy to push back some of the responsibility to parents and remove themselves from the equation. It might be time for parents to start questioning the status quo and draw the line in the sand between home and school... parent and teacher... 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Organic Mulled Wine



Organic Mulled Wine is a great treat, especially on a cool night. So with some mild weather forecaster for Melbourne this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day why don't you warm up a batch of this to share while you wait for Santa! 




Ingredients: 


10 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup caster sugar

1 roughly grated nutmeg
2 cups water
Rind of 1 orange roughly grated
1 apple, roughly chopped (skin on)
750ml fruity red wine (such as a merlot)

Orange slices to garnish 

You can garnish with cinnamon stick or anything you like to make it look pretty 




Directions:

1. Heat cloves, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, water, orange rind and apple in a large saucepan over medium heat.

2. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain and serve immediately.


Enjoy!!! 

Friday, 8 December 2017

4 Looks you'll Love these Summer Holidays




Find some great denim options online here https://bit.ly/2B0l58b
White tops are an absolute essential and we've found the best here https://bit.ly/2B3LO3K



Stripes can add a touch of sophistication to a simple ensemble. Find  some of my favourites here https://bit.ly/2B2gh21





Tie tops add a feminine look by highlighting shape in a flattering way. I've found an option for every shape here https://bit.ly/2B3ooeU



The Boho look is one of my all time favourites. It's a throwback to my childhood and has a relaxed whimsical feminine look. You'll find my favourites here https://bit.ly/2B3xurG

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Garden Inspired Christmas Table Setting


This Christmas bring a bit of the garden inside with some of these simple table settings using plants from garden and local parks. Take the kids on a walk and let them be creative. 



I found some great ways to add a little character by using little hessian bags. Depending on the type of flowers or folage you add it can create a very different look. 




The addition of little paper Christmas messages mean you can personalise them. You can also recycle the bags and messages for another year. 

Any left over folage just pop in Maison jars and decorate the table.




Some common plants around your neighbourhood are geraniums, conifers, Liquid Amber and Acer tree leaves, you can even try agapathus.



Agapanthus are very common. Just make sure you take them from your own garden rather than snip the tops off someone else's. 




Geraniums are commonly found in Australian gardens. 




Acres have magnificent leaves that turn vibrant reds, orange and yellow in Autumn, however their bright summer green leaves are stunning and make a truly joyful display. Here I've added a Liquidambar seed pod.



 You might also have Japanese Maples or be lucky enough to have an Oak tree. 





You'll find a conifer in most Melbourne streets. 


Oak leaves line many Melbourne suburban streets. Tee are quite a variet with many different leaves. 



Japanese Maples have stunning leaves coming in a variety of colours and shapes. This one adds a vibrant lime pop of colour to the table. 




If you have rosemary in your garden try making a little wreath out of it.








Above some of the native plants like Queensland Silky Oak, Bottle Bush flowers and seed pods, Banksia leaves and seed pods and Grevillea make gorgeous Australian themed place settings. You can use ribbon to make it look a bit more festive and you can even use wooden clothes pages as little name cards.

Grevillea

Above: Grevillea



Above: Queensland Silky Oak



Above: Bottle Brush flower (after petals have fallen, prior to seed pods forming). You could use the seed pod or the flowering plant too.



Above: The Banksia seed pod provides a truly Australian asthetic and is reminiscent of Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie. You. Oiled also try Gumnuts and Gum Leaves. 




The Bouganvillea flowering in Australia's Summer gardens is a great bright cheering addition. 




 You'll find many white flowing native shrubs at your local park. Get the kids to pick a few little pieces very carefully to fill a little bag. It's a great way to engage them with decorating and appreciating the local flora. Look out for the Australian Native Christmas Bush, the Spirea, or Diosma. 



Some final tips. Prepare your place settings preferably on the morning of your function. You can always collect the folage the day before and store in a cool spot in water. Dab them try so they don't wet your napkins, any folage you suspect have sap coming out you can wrap with green florists tape. Plus always be careful with little ones around any plants, even the most unsuspecting plants can have adverse effects if eaten so make sure babies and toddlers don't handle the folage.

I've enjoyed experimenting with these so much I've decided to do a completely random table setting with a mix of whatever my son and I find on a walk on Christmas Eve. 

Enjoy your decorating and have a fabulous Christmas. ❤️




Sunday, 5 November 2017

Objectification and exploitation isn't it time we demanded a better future for girls and women.



The ever growing access to media images via the internet has brought with it a barrage of objectification issues for young  girls and women. The media and popular culture has always pushed the envelope but now days pre teens can be exposed to and frighteningly contribute to social media  sexual imagery far beyond previous generations.  Gone are the days when  exposure may have been limited to a sneak peek at  mums fashion magazines or even a peek at a Playboy. Enter the age of uploading a half naked or sexually provocative image or participating in explicit and often degrading public sexual conversations with strangers via Snapchat, Instagram, WeChat, Vine, YouTube, Skype, Facebook, Four Square, Twitter, the list goes on.   Today's magazines, movies, music videos and  social media  create ever increasing confusing for young girls trying to develop self esteem and a sense of identity when messages seem to be constantly telling them their identity and value is exclusively tied to their appearance, beauty, body and sexual attractiveness. Exploitation of girls and women is rife, when once mums had to protect their daughters from the Hugh Hefners of the world charming their daughters into getting naked in front of the lenses, nowadays it's the lure of ‘LIKES’ by a new breed of perpetrators sitting online ready to exploit the insecurities of women prepared to emulate porn stars and music video icons to become amateurs social media porn stars for instant gratification with little or no comprehension of the future impacts on their family, reputation or career. Add to this the ever growing evidence of the damage and impact pornography (including amateur social media porn) is having on connected respectful relationships, is it time we as women started to claim back our rightful place as respected and dignified pillars of the community and protectors of this sacred identity. 


In this article written by Izabella Siodmak, Author and Facilitator of Mental and Emotional Wellness Retreats at www.naturalattitudes.com, Izabella explores the impact of sexual objectification and pornography on girls and women and how they  identify their worth, and how men might improve their relationships with the women in their lives through shifting their attitudes toward pornography be it on film, internet or social media. 




I want to provoke you. Not with my body scantily clad, chest pushed out and lips pouting. This would be forgotten as quickly as a page in a magazine is turned or internet button clicked. I would like my expression to have a more enduring impact upon you and to perhaps have a ripple effect that benefit those whom you love.

 



It’s obvious we are in trouble. From prepubescent girls dressing up emulating adults posing in sexual positions that are beyond their comprehension to men ignorantly blind to the damaging impact of pornography, the subliminal messages are fast eroding respectful treatment of women. We have desecrated something so sacred and turned it into something so cheap. What can we do to turn this around?

 

For risk of sounding like a prude, which I don’t care if I do, I’d like to turn your attention to our rightful roles as protectors and guardians of each other. What I’m inviting each individual to do is to put aside your vested interests and payoffs, connect to the bigger picture of humanity and simply stop with the excuses that justify personal habits that are unwholesome. Let’s consider some new perspectives and options that can make a difference and dissolve the conditioning that has made us fall out of sync with our true essence.

 

Reconnect to your Instincts and Act on Them - If the thought of seeing a barrage of your daughter’s provocative poses and bikini shots on social media makes you feel sick then there’s something to your gut instinct. As a parent it’s your duty to discipline and enforce healthy boundaries. Don’t be fooled into feeling guilty as though you are a  ‘bad parent’ for doing so or for restricting your child’s independence. There are many other ways to healthily allow your child’s independent expression and exposing them to predation and potential exploitation is not one of them.


 

Speak Up, Say No and Be Protective - The more you speak up and acknowledge the moral inappropriateness and unnaturalness of these behaviours the more permission you give others to see this for themselves too. Say it with clarity, not blame. Set an example that inspires. Boycott products, services and companies that play on sexual image and seduction to hook people in. If a product or service can’t stand alone in its true quality and needs to use sex to sell, it’s not a product worth having. 




Watch touching movies and have the kinds of experiences that foster a reminder of the true values of humanity such as kindness, care and authentic connection. When you, or your children, notice how good this feels it becomes easier to steer clear of degrading experiences that, by contrast, don’t really feel good. When any unnatural and disrespectful acts and behaviours are normalised and people become slowly desensitised to them, it can be easy to miss the truth. However the more you act upon the impulses of your instincts, the stronger they will become and the distracting noise and cheap images fade away.

 

Examine the Payoffs and Find Healthier Ways of Meeting your Needs - If you watch porn, acknowledge what this is compensating for and vow to address the gap in a more healthy way. Face any relationship challenges bravely. Look beyond yourself and be honest about the impact of this on damaging trust and potentially destroying relationships. Relieve stress through prevention or counselling to gain lifelong coping strategies. Enjoy your life more so this does not become the only way of pleasure seeking. Find wholesome ways of experiencing pleasure that enriches others lives rather than exploits them for your own gain.

 

Men, try to operate from being aware of what you are contributing to in a woman’s life rather than simply using her body for your own pleasure. Relate to real women regularly so your fantasies don’t become disconnected and unrealistic expectations you place upon your reality. Remember that pornography is a commercial industry and you are a pawn being played. It is a manipulative industry that is deliberately scripted and skewed to make money, yet the unhealthy imprints of the messages you receive when you partake can have various long term detrimental impacts upon your life.



 

When you consider that everything is based on intentions and the energy behind your actions there is very little difference between the fantasy of pornography and rape. Both are about you gaining energy at the expense and exploitation of a woman. As you learn to love yourself and embrace all your emotions you reclaim your own wholeness so then you see her wholeness too, rather than only a body to objectify, conquer or possess. Woman does not exist for a man’s gratification. She is a real person with depth and reflections of truth to offer you. Listen and create a safe space to hear her experience and how she feels about these subjects. Be willing to receive her feedback rather than defend your stance. The equal give and take of energy is important to maintain healthy and robust relationships.



It's worth noting that often pornography performers and prostitutes defend their position publicly emphasising that they have chosen this career because they love sex and pride themselves on being free. The reality is that the women in these industries are often very unhappy and desperate but feel they need to validate their choice to avoid thinking of themselves as victims. 68% of prostitutes were identified as meeting the psychological criteria for a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, while 88% stated that they wanted to leave the industry and described what they needed in order to escape


 

If you are a woman who uses your body image to gain attention, or gives her body away indiscriminately, you might like to consider if you truly feel completely empowered by your choices or are you kidding yourself. Chances are, you're doing it to boost your self-esteem, your wallet, or both. Self-worth and finances are important, however it's important not to compromise things you cannot get back like self-respect, in the process.


Consider how else can you make an living without exposing yourself to real risks? Risks that are not worth any price. How can you be more honest with yourself and what can you choose now that symbolises the ending of you selling out on yourself?



 

If your self-esteem is low, regardless of what mask you may present to the world, consider how else you may feel good about yourself in ways that make you smile and are satisfying to your heart. Does selling your body truly build you up or does it give you a momentary hit of ego gratification whilst it gradually tears your morale down?

 

Bear in mind that men who are exploiting you may be reflecting to you the places where you are willing to be exploited. You do have the option of changing your behaviours and therefore changing your reality. This requires awareness, honesty and maturity. By not settling for anything less than what you truly want, and how you know you deserve to be treated, eventually you will experience it.

 


By getting in touch with what you really want and allowing this to be present in your life,  it becomes easier to say "No" to anything that's far from it. If you want to be loved and cherished you also need to take responsibility for loving and cherishing yourself.  Others will mirror this to you. Contemplate your gifts. Celebrate what you bring to this world. Find healthy ways to express yourself, so that unconsciously you are not so starved of love that you resort to anything or anyone’s attention just to make you feel a little better.

 

Unresolved trauma can make it confusing for you to uphold healthy boundaries, which means you may not know how to say "no" or to speak up appropriately when you have been/are being violated. Consider getting counselling, especially if you have unresolved trauma or have been sexually abused in the past. No incident is too little or too small to be held with compassion, understood and healed with the right, loving support. True instincts may be buried underneath the layers of protection that you can no longer act upon them. A good psychotherapist can help you understand, emote and integrate the trauma so that you heal, function and make more loving choices for yourself.


 

Speaking up (rising above self-imposed or perpetrator-imposed shame) to loved ones or discussions with other victims can also be helpful  in preventing the kind of low self-esteem that can make you susceptible to exploitation or being drawn to prostituting yourself and kidding yourself into thinking it's all okay.



Izabella Siodmak is an author, facilitator of 1 on 1 mental and emotional wellness retreats and emotional healing sessions. She loves to support you to love yourself more and to deepen your relationships. Visit www.lovingrealwomen.com focussed on raising awareness and providing education and resources on the issues of objectification and sexualisation of women.   www.izabellasiodmak.com & www.naturalattitudes.com to make contact, purchase her books or to schedule a session or private retreat.  

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

ORGANIC Date and Chocolate Chip Scones



Did you know dates are a good source of vitamins and minerals, energy and fibre and contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and zinc plus thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and K?




INGREDIENTS


2 cups of plain organic flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

60g organic butter

1 organic egg

1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips

5 diced organic dates


METHOD


1. Sift the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt into a mixing bowl

2. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. 

3. Stir in the sugar, add the milk and whisked egg and mix into a soft dough.




4. Turn onto a floured surface, knead lightly.

5. Knead in chocolate chips and dates gently.

6. Roll out to a 1.8 cm  thickness dough. Cut into 5 cm (2 inch) rounds with a fluted cutter.

7. Place on a baking tray covered in spray oil.

8. Brush with milk.

9. Bake in a preheated hot oven, 220°C (425°F), (slightly lower if fan forced) for 12 to

15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

10. Serve with a little butter.


Friday, 8 September 2017

Spring Organic Vegetarian Family Meal

Organic Thai Tofu Patties and Organic Fattoush


Try this simple meal for the family. It's something the kids can make with you and they can try lots of different flavours. You can adapt the recipe right there and then with your little taste testers. 




ORGANIC THAI TOFU PATTIES


INGREDIENTS

350g (drained weight)  firm organic tofu, coarsely grated

1 lemon grass stalk remove outer layer chop finely

2 organic garlic cloves, chopped

2.5cm/l inch piece organic ginger, grated

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped

2 organic shallots, finely chopped

1 fresh organic red chilli, deseeded chop finely

4 tbsp chopped fresh organic coriander

90g plain organic  flour, plus extra for flouring

Pinch of salt

Olive oil for cooking 


Chilli Dip

3 tbsp white distilled vinegar

2 organic spring onions, finely sliced

1 tbsp organic caster sugar

1 fresh organic chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh organic coriander

Pinch of salt






INSTRUCTIONS


1. To make the chilli dip, mix all the ingredients together in a small serving bowl and set aside.


2. Mix the tofu with the lemon grass, garlic, ginger, lime leaves, shallots, chilli and coriander in a mixing bowl. Stir in the flour and salt to make a coarse sticky paste. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1/2 an hour to let the mixture firm up a bit.


3. Remove mixture from refrigerator and form into 8 golf ball size balls, with floured hands, flatten into circles. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large, heavy based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the cakes in 2 batches, turning halfway through, for 4-6 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve warm with the chilli dip in side dish. 


These can be used as Vegeterian burgers. Pop them in a fresh roll with salad cheese and tomato sauce for the kids or add some mango chutney. 




ORGANIC FATTOUSH 


INGREDIENTS

2-3 pocket pitta bread or Turkish bread

Organic olive oil, for shallow frying

3 organic tomatoes chopped coarsely 

1 organic green capsicum diced coursley

2 organic Lebanese cucumbers sliced 

6 organic red radishes sliced thinly 

4 organic spring onions, sliced thinly

1/2 cup organic chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup coarsely chopped organic mint


Lemon Garlic Dressing

2 cloves organic garlic, crushed

1/4 cup (60ml) organic olive oil

1/4 cup (60ml) organic lemon juice



INSTRUCTIONS

Halve pitta or Turkish bread horizontally; cut into 2.5cm pieces. Heat oil in wok; shallow-fry, in batches, until browned lightly and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.


Make lemon garlic dressing.


Just before serving, place about three-quarters of the pitta/Turkish bread in large bowl with dressing and remaining ingredients; toss gently to combine.


Sprinkle remaining pitta/Turkish bread over fattoush. Mix salad and serve.