Monday, January 31, 2011

Mor til fire - A swedish Experience in Australia

Our former exchange student years later when we visited her in Denmark.
Many years ago we hosted an exchange student from Denmark, a wonderful girl who became an integral part of our family. She stayed with us for 11 months and attended the local high school. In those days, my boys were quite small and prone to making noise in the early morning, such as banging on our old piano...which probably annoyed the hell out of our student,  but despite those and other minor issues, the year she spent with us, was such a wonderful experience that I hoped to welcome other students in to our family someday.....

For many years, not having space due to having another child, was really the only thing stopping us. We did have a short term Canadian student, but 2 weeks is not really enough to get to know someone and their culture well. So an opportunity arose recently, when a student needed to transfer from the country to the city rather quickly, and would be here for another 5 months... and this is where we put our hand up. Now I am a mother to four children again.

Loving Scandinavia, and having a little swedish in my background, for me to welcome a student from Sverige into our home, seemed just perfect. She has been here a week already and has superbly fitted in to out family nest. We like her a lot and I think she likes our home and family....

Having some one from another culture living in your home gives you many opportunities to experience another way of life and learn so many things, both tangible and intangible.  My own son was so taken with stories and pictures of Denmark and danish life that he always planned to travel and be an exchange student himself in either Denmark or Norway. And so it has come full circle.  A little of our family and culture has influenced a Norwegian family where my son's exchange was spent, and now we in turn, are hosting  another student... perhaps in time, my youngest child may also be tempted to spend time overseas in another family.

I am sure it is not all plain sailing, though. There can be many challenges for the student and the family. If conflict arises, it has to be resolved otherwise a student may need to change families ( as many of them do) and this in itself, is disruptive and a setback in their process of integration in the community.

It is a shame that there are only student exchanges... I myself would love to go on an adult exchange program... wouldn't that be fun?  Not having the confidence or inclination or exposure to do this as a student, where the only overseas destination was America... ( and I was not interested in going there) it seems that it is too late for me. But not for my children.

I can thoroughly recommend an exchange experience for anyone or is open minded and likes to learn from other cultures.... you can literally have the world in your living room!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Calcium - Nutrition and your child

It is important to maintain good nutrition for adequate growth and development according to Dr Peter Rhodes, nutritionalist.To achieve this the child's intake needs to be high in calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals he said.

Calcium in particular has been shown to be important in the development of strong bones and teeth. We all know that I guess. But low levels of calcium during the younger half of life, and continued through adolescence may contribute to the development of osteoporosis in later years ( significant for females). Calcium is also important for other bodily functions according to

Calcium Use

Vitamin D helps to absorb and properly consume calcium.

How much Calcium do children need?

Calcium Consumption recommendations for Australian children:

1- 7 years and boys 8 - 11 years at 800 mg per day

Boys  12-15 years    - 1200 mg
          16 - 18 years  - 1000 mg

Girls  8 - 11 years     -   900 mg

         12- 15 years     - 1000mg

         16 -18 years      - 800 mg

Adult women  700 - 1200 mg
Adult men       300-  500 mg

Previous Australian surveys have insisted that the average children's intake is much lower than this. Many years ago children were given free milk to drink at morning tea. Whilst this was good for most, it made others more sensitive to this, feel quite sick..

We can not store calcium in later life, we have to continually replenish it. The best time for calcium intake is youth..... 

Sources of Calcium
The most common source of Calcium comes from dairy foods, particularly  milk cheese and yoghurt.

Milk and yoghurt contain significant levels of lactose which tends to enhance calcium absorption. Most cheese also supply significant calcium although they do lack lactose.
the fat content of milk does not affect the level of Calcium.
See Calcium rich foods below:

Does Soy milk a substitute as a calcium source?

It is also worth remembering that not all soy  milk contains calcium. Always check the label for added calcium. Calcium in soy milk is added inorganic calcium.Generally it will have poorer absorption qualities. This is not to scare consumers away from these products, but make them aware that the Calcium is not the same as that found in cows milk.

How can I determine how much calcium a child is getting?

Construct a food diary for a week containing all the foods consumed and present this to your local dietician who will be able to do a complete analysis of the chlid's diet.

Calcium is a mineral that can be easily neglected.... Toddlers generally should consume aobut 3 serves of dairy foods per day to reach the daily recommendations for calcium consumption.

1 serve = 200 ml milk or 1 cup yoghurt or 35 g cheese
has this info:

During periods of growth the demand for calcium is greater than usual, although some calcium is incorporated into bone at certain other stages of life. Thus children, adolescents and pregnant and lactating women need additional calcium. Adults continually need to replace calcium that is lost from the body in urine and faeces and to a lesser extent in sweat.


Dairy foods are very high in calcium, see the values given in the following table.
Calcium in Dairy Products
Skim Milk 1 cup301
Whole Milk 1 cup290
Plain Low fat Yogurt 1 cup415
Cow Milk Cottage Cheese (Paneer) 1 cup208
Baffalo Milk Cottage Cheese (Paneer) 1 cup480
Feta cheese 40 g144
Whipped Cream, 15 g 13
Calcium in Beans & Grains
White beans 3/4 cup120
Navy beans 3/4 cup94
Black Turtle beans 3/4 cup75
Chickpeas (Chhole) 3/4 cup58
Tofu 150g350
Soy bean curd slab 150g310
Cooked Soy bean 1 cup130
Instant oats, 1 pkt165
Calcium in Nuts
Almonds roasted 1/4 cup93
Brazil Nuts 20 g34
Hazlenuts 20 g28
Walnuts 20 g19
Almonds butter 2 Tbsp88
Sesame seeds 12 g80
Rice, plain, boiled 180 g32
Calcium in Vegetables & Fruits
Cabbage/bok choy 1/2 cup190
Turnip greens 1/2 cup104
Broccoli 1/2 cup33
Okra 1/2 cup65
Orange 1/2 cup52
Orange juice fortified with calcium 1/2 cup165
Calcium in Fish
Sardines in oil, tinned, 100 g500
Salmon, tinned, 100 g91
Fish paste, 35 g98
Calcium in Breads, Pizza
White bread, 1 slice 30 g53
Wholemeal bread, 1 slice 30 g32
Muesli, Swiss style, 50 g55
Lasagne, 400 g400
Pizza, cheese & tomato, 410 g873
Pasta, plain, cooked, 230 g85

From the above list you can chose foods high in Calcium.
Following is a list of foods that give you more than 300 mg of calcium per 100 gm of that food.
  1. Milk and milk products
  2. Cereals and Grains
  3. Vegetables: Green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of calcium. Beetroot greens, Drumstick leaves, Fenugreek leaves, Turnip greens, Lotus stems, Curry leaves
  4. Spices:Cumin, Coriander, Cloves, Asafoetida (Hing), Oregano (Ajwain), Mustard seeds
  5. Fish

Well I think I will go and have a drink of milk... skim milk of course, in up my daily intake. As someone who has always had a protein intolerance to dairy products, I am at risk for developing the aforementioned diseases, particularly osteoporosis... so I continue weight bearing exercise as an adjunct to calcium supplements.
The daily requirements are something for me to ponder about, particularly at mealtimes....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Extreme weather events - Floods

Extreme weather event are becoming more common, global climate is changing very fast.....what can we do?

Whilst Europe is covered in a blanket of snow, more than ever before, so much rain has fallen on South East Queensland. It has been raining on and off since October and almost constantly since xmas.

It is completely unprecedented to have this much rain in summer.

For the past ten years we have had drought... dry.. water rationing, and now too much has fallen and is continuing to fall

The weather bureau says it is a one off extreme weather event, a 1 in 100 year event, but we had a major flood 30 years ago, and we are experiencing a La Nina, the opposite of EL Nino..

El Nino is hot dry air over the Pacific Ocean causing excessive temperatures and little rain, now we have the
opposite. Cool air over the Pacific and much much rain, more than we can handle.

Yesterday I attempted to get some food from the supermarket. The shopping centre car park was going under water and there was no bread, eggs, meat or bottled water on the shelves, people were panic buying food stocking up in case flooding was long lived...

Yesterday there was an inland tsunami, a massive rain cloud with over 100 mm of rain moved up the range to Toowoomba, a place renowned for extreme water shortages. (They had just established a water recycling plant.) Being on top of the mountain, you would never expect a flash flood, but when the low level cloud hit the escarpment, it caused massive uplift. When you have uplift in the clouds, you get precipitation. Massive amounts of water fell, in 30 minutes causing a flash flood.

The CBD of Toowoomba was like a torrent of rapids. Cars were swept away like matchboxes, shipping containers became boats floating down the torrent.

Up to 90 people are missing, presumed drowned and 10 confirmed dead. A national disaster. What is more the deluge of rain then flowed down the mountain, an entry on Facebook page read:

7 metre high wall of water heading for Lockyer creek. Evacuate immediately, get out now....

The town of Grantham was flattened, it was like a battle zone, within minutes the water level rose to 8 metres, people scrambled on top of cars, houses, anything. Some drowned trying to escape in their cars. Some were rescued by choppers. And the water has to go somewhere, so it flows down in to the Brisbane river system, swelling the river. Add to this the Dam is now at 200 % capacity and has to be released, otherwise a 3.5 metre earth levee will be breached and the amount of water that is contained in Sydney Harbour will flow down on to Ipswich and Brisbane. So dam releases into an already swollen river system means the Brisbane river and Bremer river will now flood, and are breaching their banks... Ipswich says the flood level will read 21 metres, higher perhaps than the 1974 floods.

My own relatives have farms along the river and were last night, tying ladders to the roof so that they could climb up there when necessary. My elderly Aunt can't manage a ladder so they will use the tractor to lift her up onto the roof with the scoop!!! They sit on their verandah and watch the water level rise..... they are completely isolated. Roads in and out are flooded and impassable.

The Emergency services Department advised that they could not rescue them as there were people in more dire situations that needed help... Climb on the roof they said....

Rockhampton and Gympie have been in flood for past two weeks and now it is Brisbane's turn. Flood waters in Rockhampton are now going stagnant and mosquitoes are breeding Dengue fever, and other water borne illnesses.

It is "Queensland darkest day" and will most probably bankrupt an already cash strapped state...

Will people consider changes to lifestyle as a result of the obvious extreme weather event caused by climate change phenomenon??? Or are there still sceptics out there?

Something for govenments and individuals to ponder very seriously about....
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Floods and rain.... are they a pain?

Yes it is raining. We have had a lot of rain since October, more than in my living memory. We are well used to droughts and flooding, but this has gone on for so long, people have forgotten how hot the sun is, or even what it looks like!! When the sun eventually returns, it will be a big shock to us all. Still people are getting sunburnt.... the UV index is sometimes high, and they forget their sunscreen....

Minor flooding prevents the dogs from venting their frustrations at the local off leash area, so they have to be content with a walk on leash in the rain.

 At least the video shops and indoor play centres are doing a good trade these days... whilst, eco friendly car washes, water parks and outdoor attractions near the beach are doing it tough.

As are the people of CQ... Rockhampton and environs, but it is times like this that the community comes to the fore, and neighbours help out neighbours, people call in to check on others, and there is talk and chatting as people venture out to inspect the floods and meet up.
So good things can emerge from the depths of despair...

Meanwhile, we wonder if we should build an ark... the ants have been hoping so for several months, as they have been inundating my modest establishment for months. They knew the long range weather forecast before the metereologists....
How.??? That is something to ponder about...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Painting bonanza

Holidays are great for giving me spare time in the mornings... NO school lunches to prepare, no school drop offs, so what is my morning routine? Exercises firstly, of course, some simple Yogic stretches and then while the cool weather holds rip in to the piles of prepped and bare wood projects just begging for some decoration. 

It is surprising what can be achieved in 2 hours, items that have been sitting in my storage cupboards for years... shame shame, shame...
Some garden signs that made great xmas presents for friends and family

Traditionally Hallingdal Rosemaling is a symmetrical painting with the scrolls being the  main feature, rather bold and heavy with little shading. Perhaps it reflects the culture of the people, hardy and bold???  Often painted on warm orange red backgrounds, it is also found on "Farmers Blue" but I choose basic black and this appeared to work well. The design I painted this morning is a design by Gayle Oram and took me just over three hours to complete. A nice decorative door for my wine carrier.. Surely a talking point amongst my painting friends....

This is a German bridal box design that I painted last week. I thought it might look nice on this handy cheeseboard / paddle.
Using Glossies I painted a plate in Scandinavian xmas colours... simple but elegant.

This just goes to prove that you can make time to do things that you want to achieve, just keep the focus and determination, which is something for me to ponder about....