Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sweet Eye-Relief at Long Last

Ahhhh the serenity....

It has been about 3 weeks, and so far no irritating eye-puffing flare-up's.  It has been such a long, frustrating experience, as my eyes did their own thing.  At times, it seemed, without any provocation. I have a couple of instances this week of very low-grade itchiness in my left eye, but some hot water on a cotton square over that eye, thankfully did the trick.  No antihistamine drops required.  Sweet relief!

I stripped absolutely everything back until there is nothing left to do, and that has left my eyes totally normal again.

  • No make-up
  • No moisturiser on my face
  • Coconut oil, sparingly applied, until irritation cleared up
  • New pillow
  • Change pillow case every 5-7 days (this seems to make a difference)
It's been an interesting experience, in reflection.  I use a shampoo and conditioner without sulphates or parabens or nasty things like that because they make my scalp itchy.  Like, "I think I might have lice" kind of itchy, that drives you completely bonkers.  I can't use liquid hand soap, because it gives me contact dermatitis, which often ends up requiring an anti fungal cortisone cream to clear it up.  I am so sensitive to synthetic chemicals, yet I was slathering them on my face.  Then I was surprised when, one day, that wasn't working anymore.

So...my next step?  Now that everything has settled and feels normal again, I have begun to investigate make-up that has very little in the way of all those synthetic chemicals that upset my skin so much.  I'm investigating and researching and watching/reading reviews and finding good Aussie companies that care about what's in the products we use.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Happy Heart of the Tropical Kind

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This made my heart so happy, this morning.

I am too scared to eat guavas here, in Australia, because I know I'll be disappointed.  Topical fruit just always is.  But I found this in Aldi yesterday when I was puddling around the spots where the 'limited time' products are found.

Welcome back, childhood.

Friday, 14 April 2017

At the Cross

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This never gets old.  It happened over 2000 years ago, but it can still bring me to a sobbing mess of tears.  The cross is harsh, confronting, painful, full of grief, brokenness.  I am so grateful for the cross.  But today is always full of emotion.  I, among many, am responsible for this and it grieves my heart so sharply.

And yet.

This had to happen.  It was always God's Plan A to bring us to a place where we are without sin in His eyes.  This wasn't Plan B because mankind made a mess of what was created perfect.  In the darkness of Friday I am grateful that Sunday is coming.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Stop What You're Doing and Make This For Dinner

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Last night I had my kids rolling their eyes at me.  Probably because I said "Oh, this is soooo good," about 300 times too many.  You know how young adults get.

But this recipe was absolutely that good.

I tripped over it, only because I was reading Jen Hatmaker's Facebook page (no, I am still a staunched  hold-out, but I can read the public stuff, right?), and she's on a Whole30 journey.  Me?  I'm just looking for food that tastes good and provides us some positive nutrition.  Quick, simple, non-processed, delicious.  Lofty ideals in a fast-paced, Masterchef kind of world with all its extremes of take out to fuss and bother.

This recipe fits my profile for good, yummy food.  I give you Rosemary Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken with Bacon and Apples.  OK, so the name is longer than the drive from Melbourne to Sydney, but if you can overlook that you've got a winner.

Of course there is always the requisite little tweaks a person makes for one reason or another.  The recipe calls for chicken breast.  I had drumsticks, so that's what I used.  The recipe calls for apples.  You will want more apples than that.  Just trust me.  Double the apples.  I used 3, because 2 looked like a piddly little amount in the pan.  I wish I'd done more.  And you can use apples that are starting to feel like you wouldn't want to eat them.  Winner!  Also, I grew up in the 70s when people boiled their cabbages to death.  I don't love Brussels sprouts.  When I say I don't love, I mean I have not touched one since I left home.  Plus Aldi doesn't sell them right now.  Bummer, right?  Instead, I served this with our favourite cabbage dish, alongside which is just shredded cabbage sautéed with spring onion and bacon.  Talk about perfect!

Now obviously, this meal fits a set of nutritional criteria that doesn't include starch.  So if you don't need to worry about that you could add potato cubes to your pan as well.  Miss Mischief seemed to think that would make it perfect.  I was pretty happy without.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Fear-Less Parenting

"You can't tell me what to do!"  These were the terribly misinformed words uttered by my first child, barely three years old at the time.  By the time she embarked on the "Terrible Three's" I already had a second child and a third on the way.  It was far too late to back out or rethink how many of these little people we were going to have in our house.  There was certainly no way a three year old was going to dictate how I was or was not going to raise her!  I think I responded with something along the lines of "Well, you're going to be fairly miserable, because I can and I will tell you what to do....."

Thus began my journey of fear-less parenting.

I hear it more and more though....the questions about whether or not parents are getting it right.  Am I feeding them the right food?  Are they in the right school?  Have they had enough experiences?  Are they in the right sport?  Should we change to another sport?  Should we add music lessons?  Maybe they should have art lessons?  Are they getting enough sleep?  Will they get a good job?

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Are you feeling dizzy?  Feeling Inadequate?  Frightened?

To be perfectly honest, these are not questions I spent my time asking.  From the moment Miss Sunshine challenged my authority as her parent I was far more interested in what kind of children I was raising, not whether they had everything the world could offer them.  Besides which, for most of our children's lives, we weren't in a financial position to give them all their little hearts desired.  And we have led a quieter, much more sane life because of it....I don't think that's a bad trade-off!

How did I parent fearlessly?  It was instinctive at the time, and as I've gotten older I've realised not all parents have been parented well, and instincts may be harder to find.

Be the parent
Once challenged by that deluded three year old, I understood I needed to lead my children.  I cannot tell you how often I see parents whose children walk all over them.  We need to be the authority in our children's lives.  Not authoritarian, ruling with an iron fist.  Authoritative.  Unafraid to set reasonable limits and things that are not-negotiable in our homes, and then keep those limits.  Children need to know  where their boundaries lie and that they won't move.  Believe me, they will try to push them!  If you have spent any time with any child you know this to be true.  Be prepared with consequences that match the age and act, and be consistent in applying them.  I have learnt that when these lessons are learned early, the rest of being a parent is much easier.  I only have to count back from 5 and my son still moves very fast!  Our kids all know it is unwise and useless to test our boundaries.

Have high expectations
Part of being a parent is knowing how you want your kids to behave and then expect it of them, rather than excuse them.  Whether it be using manners, eating all their dinner, requiring obedience...whatever it is that hits your radar as important.  All of the things above were on my radar for high expectations, and so these things were constantly being addressed in my parenting.  I wouldn't hand over something without receiving a thank you.  I didn't begin fulfilling a request without a please.  Our kids were required to have at least one bite of everything on their plate.  I knew what they did and did not like, and I would still give them a bite or two of things they didn't like, so they would learn to eat dinner without being offensive to a potential host.  The other side of that coin is that our kids eat a very varied diet and enjoy lots of different cuisines.  If they kicked up a stink they were offered their meal or their bed.  No alternative meals.  Only one ever chose bed.  That only happened twice, and then realised tomato sauce covers all sins and makes food edible.

As teenagers I had many conversations with my children about my expectations for them not to become sullen, moody, hateful people who do the wrong thing.  I challenged and expected them to be above the stereotype of their age.  I don't believe that just because "everyone" says kids are like a, b or c means they have to be like that.

Be comfortable saying no
Our kids need us to say no, as much as they need us to say yes.  Sure, small people will throw a tantrum.  Indeed bigger ones will also try.  Don't let their tactics scare you off from being the parent.  It's not our job to keep them happy, in the sense that we should feel obliged to give in to everything they desire.  It is our job to stick by our word.  If our word is 'no' then let it be no.  When I have had my children beg and plead because they didn't like my no, I was more inclined to stick with that no than ever.  It's the stubborn streak that runs through the females of my mother's family.  This kind of goes with "be the parent".  It is not our job to be popular with our kids, or be their best friend.  It is important that we be able to make good decisions for our kids and stick with them, despite their best efforts to persuade us otherwise.  Whenever my children accused me of being the meanest mother I countered by insisting I was being the best mother.  Actually I probably just agreed!  "Yes, I am the meanest mother...that means I'm doing a good job".  The poor babies had nowhere to go with that one!  Be confident with your no and let your kids learn that disappointment is a part of life.  Most of our "no's" are not spirit crushing, and they shouldn't be.  But it is a normal part of life.

Are you paralysed by parenting fear, or do you parent confidently and fearlessly?  What's your best tip for raising amazing kids?

Friday, 7 April 2017

Stingray Surprise

A few days ago DH, Mr Busy and I were watching pelicans and seagulls feed on some fish heads and guts that were dumped into the water, off the little jetty at Rhyll on Phillip Island.

Suddenly my husband wondered what that thing was, moving just beneath the water behind the pelican.  Imagine our surprise to discover an enormous stingray languidly moving through the water, in search of fish.  We watched it stop over a spot where there was a dead fish.  It hovered and flapped again, and then moved off.  And then another stingray joined in.  They moved about so gracefully and we took some video.

They were just so enormous and so smooth.  They were remarkably close to the shoreline.  I'm not a fan of swimming in Victorian beaches, they're too cold for my topical upbringing.  I'm even less inclined now that I know these enormous animals lurk so close by!  The picture above doesn't give any reference point for it's size, but it was at least a metre across.

It was a truly remarkable sight to watch these two rays stay close and wave their "wings" so beautifully.  Just amazing.

My boss came back from summer holidays with video of an octopus his family found in some rock pools.  You can be sure I'll be sharing my video of stingrays with him!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

And the Eye Issues Continue

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I'm sad to say, breaking up my friendship with micellar water did not cure my eyelid issues.  They did finally stop itching, but the puffing up has been coming and going with totally unpredictable abandon.  It hasn't been distressing so much, as completely frustrating.  Even the most non-reactive moisturiser I possess, which I have never reacted to before, is causing my eyes to flare up.  I can use it anywhere else, just not my eyes.  So I'm on a mission to deal with this issue and get rid of it, yet wary of what I put on my eyelids, because they. will. swell.

Last week I was watching a vlog by Jennifer over at The Daily Connoisseur (one of my most favourite new-to-me bloggers), where she talked about her current skincare favourites.  One little gem she shared was regarding frankincense.  It seems, upon further investigation, that this essential oil is quite the miracle worker for repairing skin and reducing scarring.  Since my local pharmacy carries it, I dropped in there yesterday and picked up a little (expensive!) bottle.  I've mixed a handful of drops into some extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil.  I had to use a warm teaspoon to mix it, since the oil is now quite solid, due to the cooler days we've had.  But now it sits in a teensy little pot, looking quite cute.

Last night I had it on my eyes for about an hour and then had to get it off.  My eyes were tearing up terribly, but the coconut oil feels so smooth and silky!!  Interestingly, my eyes are a little puffy this morning, not as much as I would have expected.  The skin on my eyelids has settled right down.  It's not red and irritated, like it has been. So half a win.

I'm going to try using the coconut oil/frankincense mixture for short amounts of time and see if I can't build up some resilience for my eyelids.  Maybe if I take it off after 15 or so minutes it'll help my lids to resist puffing up, and the skin will continue to heal?

The saga continues....