Today Its My Birthday

I am celebrating the end of my thirty seventh year on this here planet. And what a year it has been!!

I got married to the man of my dreams!!

I had a fun and loved-filled wedding that exceeded my wildest imaginings!!

I had a honeymoon of fabulousness in Cape Town!!

I quit my job and became “The Cupcake Lady” full time!!

My precious knucklehead found himself full time, gainful employment!!

I got to spend some quality time with my bestest best friend Down Under!!

I got to meet some long-term online friends and I got to spend time with some really special people in a whole BUNDLE of social get togethers!!

We added 3 cats and 2 dogs to our furry family!!

Glorious!!

Blessed!!

Wonderful!!

I tell you oh ever loyal bunnies of mine- I am the luckiest, happiest woman alive!!

I Can’t Help But Compare…

I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies, and read a lot of vampire stories, but I don’t want to talk about the movies today.

I want to talk about the books.

The first vampire story I read was Dracula by Bram Stoker. It was fascinating and very entertaining, if a bit of a laborious read being as old as it is… and I loved it. The next one I read was Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, the book on which the movie is based. It was fantastic!! Anne Rice had a whole new take on how vampires were created, how they aged, how they survived and how they could be killed. For lack of a better phrase, her approach was realistic! It made sense! It made them far more believable than the magical, mythical vampires of ancient stories and folk-lore. I was completely hooked and I read all the vampire stories she wrote.

The movie didn’t have a patch on the book… but does a movie ever do a book justice?

Then, with many years passing since my reading of the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, I read Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. I was curious since there was such a hype about it, but the sickly-sweet, teenage-angst-riddled and completely ridiculous story about sparkly vampires completely paled in comparison to Anne Rice. By the time I got the the fourth chapter I was so pissed off with the main character and her constant “…oh but why me…?” whining that I almost tossed it! But I can’t not finish a book once I’ve started reading it. Call it what you will, I had to finish it. Thereafter I gave it to my sister’s teenage step-daughter who fell in love with Edward, as I expected she would since the story was aimed at her age group. Then I ordered the second one meaning to give it to her for her birthday, but she bought them herself so I was stuck with it.

Then about a month ago, I needed some reading material and found the book in my bookshelf. I thought maybe I’d exaggerated the level of irritation with the first book, so I started reading it. I realised very quickly that it was a mistake… but I had to finish it.

I’ve watched Vampire Diaries on TV, and it was bearable but still a little cliche. 😀 And I rather enjoy True Blood, though I do occasionally wish someone would put that bloody Sookie out of my misery… 😛

I think the next time I feel like a vampire read I’ll re-read Anne Rice. Unless someone can recommend something…?

Learning to Cook!!

Stack your steak!

Stack your tart!

So much fun!!

My Glugs and I were invited by Pick n Pay, along with a few other Twits, to attend an “Easy Entertaining” cooking class at their Good Food Studio at the brand new PnP on Nicol.

The Good Food Studio was like something out of a TV show! It is fabulously laid out and all done up in chrome with gas stoves and HUGE ovens… I was in love. We were sitting eating towards the end of the evening and my hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said “This…” and showed him the whole room! 😛

So there were eight of us Twitter folk in the class, and when it started Nicky who was presenting showed us how to make the dessert! My kind of cooking- dessert first!! We weren’t going to be making our own dessert as this was an almond tart, so a big one was made that we would be sharing. I learnt a lot from watching Nicky, inlcuding how you can keep your pastry tart base from puffing up in the centre using rice!!

We were then showed to our respective cooking stations, and when we were told that whoever had the roll of puff pastry would not be cooking the steak my hubby very quickly switched places with me! 😀

I did miniature upside down tarts with a divine glazed mushroom stuffing which we topped with goats cheese and broadleaf parsley for a starter. Whilst I was busy preparing them, one of the veggie dishes was in the oven- sweet potato wedges with sesame oil and sea salt! Once the mushroom tarte tatin came out of the oven Glugs and some of the other learner-chefs had to put their Fillet Tagliata in the oven- fillet steaks, along with cherry tomatoes which were tossed in olive oil, garlic and rosemary and roasted whole next to the steaks!

We had our muchroom starters, and then the steaks were done and Nicky showed us how they had to be plated (presented) which we then each had to attempt… with varying degrees of success. 😛 The Steak was served on top of the sweet potatoe wedges, topped with the cherry tomatoes, garnised with rocket and accompanied by steamed fresh asparagus! Divine! It didn’t look like a lot of food but I was really full and I couldn’t finish it all!

Then it was time for dessert… Oh my word!! It was a gawjissly beautiful golden brown almond tart served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and a fresh strawberry… it tasted as mouth watering as it sounds let me tell you something!!

My Glugs and I definitely want to head back to the school sometime, they have sushi classes too and we had an absolute blast!

Ooh, and looking down into the store from the cooking school made for a different view indeed, and whilst its huge- the size of a Hypermarket- they only sell groceries! I’ve been back to the store since and I love it! All kinds of things that my recipe books call for that I couldn’t get my grubby paws on before are now available at this store!

PS You can read Justin McCall’s post here

Sibling Supper 2010

This year’s annual sibling supper was back at my house. I brought my outside table into my living room to set it for dinner, and I spent most of my preparation time shooing the cats off it!

For dinner, I made a roast beef with mashed potatoes and roast onions, and I made the mushroom dish I was taught to make at the Pick n Pay School Of Cooking… Okay, half of it… I only made half because the only puff pastry I could find was frozen! But the mushrooms went very well with the potato bites that sister C brought with her for our starter. Sister B brought roast veggies, and da Bruvva brought mini koeksisters and a malva pudding for dessert. Unfortunately, as happens every year, we never made it to dessert!

😀

As we do every year, we laughed a lot, we argued over who had won previous years’ gift giving competitions, we reminisced, we decided on which one of us won the annual competition to buy slash find the worst gift (Sister C won that title this year) and we ate and drank and were merry. And we exchanged gifts after pulling names out of a hat. I got Sister C’s gift, Sister B got da Bruvva’s gift, Sister C got my gift and da Bruvva got Sister B’s gift.

And again- as I do every year- a disclaimer. What we see as horrendous and kitsch and crappy gifts is not meant as an attack on anyone’s taste. If you like something we dislike then bully for you!

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Here’s a glimpse of my table set for dinner.

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This is moi, opening my gift from Sister C. It gave me a headache! Its a horrendous 3D picture of a bouquet of flowers that kind of follows you around the room…

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Here’s Sister B opening her gift, a teapot with a mustard yellow and brown striped crocheted cover that da Bruvva found in my Granny’s kitchen cupboard!

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Sister C opening my gift! Doesn’t she look ecstatic! Its a faux-wood turtle body thats had its faux-wood shell replaced with some moulded plasticine that was covered with seashells!!

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And da Bruvva opening his gift from Sister B. She re-gifted a previous sibling supper gift that she got from- wait for it- da Bruvva!!

An ADHD FAQ

I was immensely flattered when I was invited by Julia from Everyday Health to offer my opinions on several of the most commonly asked questions about ADD and ADHD!

These questions have already been answered on the website by several experts, and I was a wee bit intimidated by these people’s credentials. But having lived with and dealt with ADHD for so long, I do have my own opinions on each question, so here goes.

Everyday Health: Why are so many more children being diagnosed with ADHD now than in the past?

I personally believe that there really are not too many more children with ADD and ADHD now than there were 20 or 30 years ago, but there is a lot more awareness of the symptoms of the disorder. The diagnosis has been broadened to include different forms of the disorder as well, so it’s not only the hyperactive children who are now diagnosed and treated. There is also a much greater knowledge of the long term results of not treating children who present with symptoms of the disorder. There is also much greater understanding of the medications, as well as different types of medications available to treat the various forms of the disorder, should a child require or benefit from meds.

At the same time, I do believe that the huge changes in lifestyle over the last 30 years also has an impact on children being diagnosed with a disorder they may have coped with in an earlier era.

Years ago, a child who was mildly hyperactive would be allowed to spend time outside, running, bicycling, climbing trees, etcetera, where now we keep our children close for fear of their safety. His or her hyperactivity would be less noticeable. Back then, our schools had fewer children in the classrooms, and children who needed it would get a little more attention because teachers could afford to do so without thinking twice about it. And we ate better back then. Our diets included a lot more vitamin rich, home cooked, organic produce than the mass produced quickly harvested food we shop for now. We ate breakfast as a norm, whereas now it often falls by the wayside, and back then we ate far less fast food.

Everyday Health: Why are there so many theories about the causes of ADHD? What are the most common?

Genetics and brain injury are the two I hear about the most, but no one seems sure and it remains a contentious issue because there are so many theories.

I have also heard people try to blame the diagnosis on parenting, diet, blood group and schooling, and whilst I believe these factors contribute to symptom management, I don’t believe they are causes.

A major factor in trying to work out what causes it is that there is no hard and fast criteria with which to diagnose it and no child fits exactly the same set of criteria for diagnosis.

Everyday Health: How do you explain the value of treatment to resistant parents? For example, a parent might say, “I survived my childhood with ADHD — and I was never diagnosed or treated. Why does my child need ADHD treatment?”

I was that parent. I took the suggestion that my son may have a problem as a personal attack on my being a single parent and I refused to even try to take it further. My son missed out on so much learning in his first couple of years of school that his entire school career was a battle, because I refused to acknowledge that he needed more than he was getting. I was convinced that the teachers were inattentive and lazy, and simply didn’t want to engage with my intelligent and spirited son.

For me- hindsight being 20/20- the child’s quality of life, or lack thereof, should be the biggest contributing factor in deciding whether to treat or medicate a child diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. As parents, we want the best for our children, and no one faced with a new ADD or ADHD diagnosis wants to medicate their child.

By all means, try everything to find what works for your child, but don’t wait too long to decide something isn’t working. If other treatment options don’t make a difference and your child continues to battle at school, at home, and with interpersonal relations, then perhaps meds is worth a try.

 

 

Everyday Health: What role does a child’s school play in helping him or her with ADHD?

Teachers and schools play a vital role in our ADD and ADHD children’s treatment!

We parents are often afraid to tell our child’s teacher about the diagnosis and treatment for fear of labeling and stigmatising our child. I have also heard of parents who deliberately don’t tell the school to “see if the teacher notices a difference” once they start treatment! This seems to happen most often when those parents had the school draw their attention to a possible problem with their child.

The truth is that our children’s teachers spend so much time with our children they are often the first to pick up a problem. And an ADD or ADHD child whose teacher knows about the diagnosis and treatment can make allowances in class that the child is entitled to if he or she is included in the treatment process.

Everyday Health: Which nondrug strategies work best for children with ADHD?

For my son, it turned out that medication was a necessary part of his treatment… but with or without meds the following will make a difference in your child’s life:

·         structure and routine- clearly defining the rules and expectations at home and at school and stick to a schedule to ensure your child gets enough sleep

·         dietary changes- include more protein, eat regularly, make sure you have breakfast

·         multivitamins- this can’t hurt, provided you use something reputable and don’t rely purely on the added supplements to change or manage your child’s behaviour

·         one-on-one attention- at home and at school, playing games and helping with homework

·         therapy- with a psychologist or a psychiatrist, for parents and children

·         positive reinforcement- reward your ADHD child for any and all real achievements

Everyday Health: Can too little discipline or lax parenting cause ADHD? Why or why not?

An ADD or ADHD diagnosis causes conflict with doctors and lay-people alike because it covers such a broad collection of symptoms, and because each child and each diagnosis is different. My belief is that whilst lax parenting and little or no discipline certainly exacerbates the behaviours and symptoms, it can’t cause ADD or ADHD.

I’ll give you a very simple example- if it was caused by parenting styles, then all the siblings of every child diagnosed with ADD or ADHD would have to be diagnosed with the same thing. There are many families with two or more children, where only one child battles the disorder. I also know of twin siblings where one child is ADHD and the other is not. Were it due to bad parenting, then all the children in a family would have the same problems almost by default.

Everyday Health: Does watching too much television or playing video games cause ADHD symptoms?

In all honesty, too much TV, internet, gaming or social media is unhealthy for any child.

We all know that.

I don’t believe that it can cause ADHD symptoms as a “typically” hyperactive ADHD child will very likely be able to watch TV or play PC and TV games for hours without showing signs of hyperactivity.

Everyday Health: What role does diet play in ADHD behavior?

A well balanced healthy diet is essential for anyone. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a diet of too much junk food is unhealthy.

It does seem however, that a child or adult with ADD or ADHD is more affected by the lack of nutrients in their diet than others may be, and I have seen how some children’s symptoms can be reduced or become more manageable simply by adjusting their diet.

But, not all children can manage the symptoms of ADD or ADHD with just a balanced diet, and this is a mistake made by too many parents.

Eating whole or organic foods and supplementing with added fatty acids and multi-vitamins is also hellishingly expensive and very difficult to maintain. And if you do decide that managing your diet is what works best for your ADD or ADHD child, then you have got to stick to it 100%, with no compromise for “special occasions”. You can’t do it for a week and then take a week “off”.

And please, for the sake of your child, don’t take dietary changes as the be-all and end-all. If your child is still battling at home and at school, consider additional treatment options.

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So what do you think?