Tag Archives: australia

The label “autism” ? Yes, please.

In my son’s school, ‘anti-bullying policies are broadly advertised and in his class; Nemo sits close to a wall full of coloured-in versions of the “do the HIGH FIVE” hand.

hifive

Now after their first ‘bullying awareness’ lessons at in prep, I have spent a lot of time explaining to Nemo that not every grimace, every funny voice, every joke made by the boys is meant to tease him. Nemo often pushed children away that were trying to make friends, in a silly kid kind of way.

But this has now changed. In the last 2 weeks, some boys in his class have taken to “test and trigger” his sensitivities – on purpose. The result is that my son, usually inclined to yell and flee from stress has now repeatedly tried to smack them to stop it, including to the head – and he was suspended for a day this week (no one was hurt, they were still laughing).

Now there are a couple of reasons why the dynamics in his class has changed (teacher changes, new students, a long term)  and I understand it is beyond the control of the school. I accept the disciplinary action, sort of.. (I have not grown up in Australia – suspension for a 7 yo?! ) Until recently, I was quite happy with the support by teachers and special ed’ dept. We had great results.  Nemo was less anxious about school, confident and stable in class.

But the school’s response to this acute problem, let’s call it “budding bullying”, is flawed by the fact that they have a policy that does not allow them to “single out the children with special needs” – to avoid bullying. It is obvious, Nemo is different, he has some special arrangements in class, gets one-on-one time and so forth.. Still, they believe saying ‘this child has autism’ will lead to more bullying. I have come to think that I totally disagree.

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I believe children, especially young ones, have a natural need to be ‘like the others’ and belong. But they also have a much greater flexibility to accept differences, when they get help to understand them.

My son doesn’t look different. But his social behaviour is a wild mix of toddleresque outbreaks of love or anger (this can change fast!), and an odd übercool teenage attitude that is a lack of understanding of polite, friendly gestures or clumsy copying of others in the wrong social context. He has autism.

I am not spruiking his autism to my son as a special gift but he knows it’s nothing to be ashamed of either. It’s not “a label”. It’s our reality.

By teaching only generally about “everyone’s different weaknesses and strengths”  – “yay, we are all different!” – the school is maybe respecting the wish of other parents, but certainly not mine. My son’s “difference” obviously does not appeal greatly to the kids (he has no real friends) but also, they do not understand him at all. They are not educated about autism. If they were, of course, some kids – the present and future bullies –  will still tease him. But the OTHER children, those that say nothing, those that I still think could be his friends, would they not be able to support, even defend him better ?

I do not care about the bullies. They will come and go. I am certainly not naive, this is just the start. But I do care about education. Acceptance ALWAYS comes via education. We instinctively fear what we do not know or understand. Ableism is just a form of Xenophobia if you will.  We fear what is strange.

I am still pondering how to tackle this, but something needs to happen. I want to work WITH the school, not go full frontal. But I think that long-term, the outcome of an initiative with information about autism is in the interest of all the children. It’s the same with the continuous calls for “autism awareness” vs actual integration and acceptance. Most of us are quite aware of autism. For real acceptance though, society has to learn about it too.

Perspectives. we are NOT one big “autism family”. Still…

Two days ago, I blogged about Isabelle Stapleton.

Incidentally, there were elections in Australia with the (expected) outcome of a new government that, to be honest, has me worry A LOT about the future where health, education and the general welfare of my family are concerned. While following the events of election day, I also followed the reaction of “the autism community” (parents with autistic children, autistic adults, advocates) to the attempted murder-suicide in the Stapleton family. The ‘community’ is “reeling”. It is also divided.

In brief, some focus on the act committed by the mother (as I did in my post) others have sympathy with her and blame “the system”, ie lack of support. And now the different blocks leash out at each other.

I am writing this as a reminder for myself of what I have already previously observed : we are all different. There is no such thing as ‘the autism community’. Let’s stop pretending there is.

With the stats being what they are (let’s say 1:100 to have an international, not gender specific value), there is no way I have much in common with ALL of the autism parents out there. Other than being a parent to a child with autism, that is.
You don’t know me. We are not “in it together”.

And although I honestly appreciate the insightful blogs of adult autistics, they are not only extremely different than me, but also most probably are very different than my autistic son will ever be when he is their age.

We are all different. We see things different.
We have been through different things in our very different lives. One may feel the pressure of raising a special needs kid getting to them, others might have known the mother from the blog or IRL, so they might think “This could be me one day” (in this case GET HELP). But the other side might feel the grip of fear that eugenics is still a spectre on the horizon and the understanding that parents worldwide kill their own children with special needs is unsupportable for them – because they could be the  victims themselves.

Now as it happened, I too felt some sort of lose connection to it, and the need to comment, to reflect on it, to appeal to parents to stop seek justification for what is an act of crazy non-explainable attempted murder. Psychosis is the only explanation and for anyone who has come close to this, it has nothing to do with the reasons, but all with psyche, trust me.
And I am now over it. I can’t help the Stapleton family. Of course not. I could not then, and I cannot now. Out of respect to Issy, this should not become a political case. Her life has been too public for too long already. Think of her and her family, or pray if you do, her life is still in danger from what i know.

So we are not one big “autism family”. And that’s ok.
Let’s stop judging each other for reactions to what has happened. Look out for those who are close to you, right there and now, and maybe just ask them, are you ok? Be attentive, truly listen, find out how others really feel. Also be honest about it yourself. It is ok to say “I can’t go on no more”. Please keep talking.

ruok-day

That the best we can all do.

Autism : “language matters”–yes indeed.

I have a particular pet peeve and I know I am not alone :  Nazi analogies. Upset me. Every time.

Now I have been told before that my personal sensitivity to people “playing the Nazi card” for emphasis – or as a playful hyperbole! – comes from the fact that it was indeed ‘my country’ that caused the 13+Mio death (non counting war casualties) during the 3rd Reich. The idea being that some kind of inherited, collective guilt-shame makes me cringe or irritated when I am reminded of it.  Not so.
I am quite aware of my country’s history, thank you, and I even know how my own family was involved and victimized by the Nazis. I have grown up to “never again” and “fight the early signs”. And also : “language matters”.

As history moves on, new genocides and war crimes happen, still it is generally agreed that the Nazi terror is the ultimate superlative of horror and calling someone a “Nazi” is the non plus ultra insult. Or is it? Because by the end 90s, I started to dive into the Anglophone internet – and came across the word ‘breastfeeding Nazi’. Hang on, what!? Wow. And then, people would literally say about themselves : “I am a bit of a grammar Nazi” to express how much they cared for proper use of language. Is that so?
Well, let me be the Thundering Goddess of Linguistics and tell you – there is no semantic shift for “Nazi”. You need to shut up!

“Nazi” is the colloquial expression for members of the NSDAP during the 3rd Reich. Out of respect for the tens of millions of victims of persecution and war, the survivors and descendants – you cannot use the word for emphasis or comparison. NOTHING compares and will ever compare.

nazicard-150x109And this also goes for the use of nazi-isms for the politically or socially outraged. Yes. Unless there is a real connection to 3rd Reich persecution, your argument will not be more convincing by adding shock value with holocaust comparisons, “reductio ad hitlerum” or using Nazi as a prefix. As a matter of fact you will certainly lose credibility and support.

I have expressed my thoughts before on the division in what some call the ‘autism community’, especially when it comes to different approaches of parents. Here is what happened:

Yesterday, in a tweet, someone compared the “autism epidemic” (sic)  to the holocaust.

Look. I see the pain of parents and autists alike.  I know we are lucky. Lucky to manage ‘so so’ with a child that has good (not perfect) support in Australia – and ‘only’ high-functioning autism. I do not compare myself to the parents that are lost and confused and feel abandoned by their governments (in the example: the US).
But while the use of shock talk might get you some attention, I doubt it will get you more support or understanding. Autism is and will never be an “epidemic” (=outbreak of infectious disease). And comparing a government that you judge too inactive in the face of exploding numbers of diagnosis to those responsible of actively murdering millions and millions of people in death camps? Just – no.

Thoughts?

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Read : “Godwin’s Law” and “reductio ad hitlerum
and “fallacy” in wiki

About fairness, ENTITLEMENT AND EQUITY

There are elections around the corner here in Australia, and one popular (somewhat populist) term we frequently hear is that ‘everybody should have a fair go’. When you are the parent of a child with special needs in a mainstream school, chances are you often wonder about what is fair when it comes to the conditions and outcomes of the education of your child.

In the beginning, I felt often somewhat guilty for my disruptive, distressed child and his autism amongst all the other ‘neurotypical’ kids. I wondered if their parents who said “oh you’re Nemo’s mum? Yeah, Clara talks about him..” were maybe secretly wishing he was not in their kid’s class, bringing disturbance to their own child’s learning progress.
Admittedly, in the beginning of Year 1, Nemo’s presence in school was chaotic, loud and confusing. Even for me.

So I wondered if it was fair on the other kids having to “put up” with my son who got an over-proportionate share of the attention of their teacher and got allowances for behaviour due to his autism that would have brought on disciplining for them. And while my personal premise was ‘as little intervention as possible’, he still had regular assistance from the SEP team, in class and in one-on-one sessions.

A friend of mine, also with a child that has Asperger’s and part of the education system herself, then said to me “He has a right to all that. Integration is an entitlement, you know. “  – An entitlement? Ok… but if that is so, you as a parent are still quite challenged to stay behind it all so that the help your child has a right to, does happen, when it’s needed and how it’s needed. “You are your child’s advocate! “ I learned.

Recently, in the context of studies in age care, I read a paragraph on equity : Equity, different to equality seeks to equal the outcome of a process, rather than the simply giving the same amount of service to everybody. Equity takes into account the actual needs of the individual, and the outcome provides a fairer, more equal outcome for all.

liberte-egalite-fraternite

“Equality for All” was a virtuous demand at the times of, say, the French revolution, we accept today that actually, we are not all equal. While it’s still a work in progress, we have come a long way with the support of people who are disadvantaged for by ethnicity, gender and disability. Disadvantaged not always because of their actual capacities, but because they are not getting ‘their fair go’ to actually show what they can do.

Like the first cavemen that decided to provide food for a limping former hunter whose idle play with some rocks might then have led to the discovery of flint stones, our society – in theory – recognises the value and potential of those who at first view seemed simply ‘weak’ or incapable.
My son, although he may not be destined to bring the world a similarly ground-breaking discovery as fire, now needs support to cope with the environment in class, certain learning processes, handwriting. He gets more and different help than the others but he is, I am happy to say, now socially and academically stabilized. In return, the children in his class may have learned about difference and acceptance. Integration, I believe, is a two-sided process.

So from guilt over entitlement, from advocacy to equity, I have learnt to see that the outcome is all that matters. Our learning never ends, and I know there is more challenges ahead for both him and me as a parent, but my son will get his “fair go”.  I’ll  make sure of that.

I believe in science. And vaccination.

Yesterday, in Australia, people who are against government scheduled immunisation programs of children woke up to some news:

The Australian government announced that it will actively penalize parents who do not vaccinate their children by cutting the Family Tax Benefits . These are usually paid – if you qualify by income threshold – to families here, instead of direct tax reductions or classes (as done in other countries). This policy announced by the Australian Labour Party – whose re-election in September is currently less than certain – sends a strong message that, I believe, is meant to make people understand that it is indeed NOT an individual decision whether or not you vaccinate your children.  Also, according to the article, payment restrictions are already in place since last year, but left room for the so-called conscientious objectors.  Labour plans to only allow medical and religious reasons for non-immunisation.  Interesting.

Now, I have yet to blog about my personal experience with both, the Australian Vaccination Schedule (which is different of European ones and therefore registered my son in default at the age of 4) and payment cuts (of the Child Care benefit in my case) . All this indeed happened about a year before the first clear signs of autism showed in my son,  after he actually ended up having one more MMR vaccination packet than your regular Australian child.  And no, I was not comfortable with this.  I would have had to live under a rock – or at least without internet and other media – to not have ever heard about the forever discussed, but completely disproven “link between autism and MMR vaccinations”. So yes, I read a lot about it.

And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. I focused on reports on what scientist have found in peer reviewed tests and studies, and I tried to leave the unscientific, the alarming and the anecdotal accounts and websites out of my process of judgement. That is not easy. I am a mother first, and instinctively, I listen to what other mothers have to say. And the internet, as we all know, is full of mothers giving their opinion on just about anything child related – and beyond. (The internet is also full of mothers telling other mothers that they are fed up with their unwanted advice and thoroughly over all the so called ‘mommy wars’. I certainly am.)

plague doctor

Luckily, we have seen immense progress in medicine.

In the end,  I have come to the conclusion to trust modern science over what we will just call ‘people on the internet’ with an obsession over governmental conspiracy, ‘Big Pharma’ and the belief that ‘all things natural’ are automatically good and wholesome for you. Now, bacteria, viruses – they are indeed natural occurrences. But even if overpopulation has become a serious problem on this planet, I have yet to see calls for the reintroduction of , say, the bubonic plague to somehow regulate the problem ‘naturally’.

I am as ‘bio’ as any odd person, I believe in healthy food and recycling, and I certainly don’t run for the medical cabinet at the least sign of a headache.
But if my son had a spiral fracture in his leg, I would not simply straighten it with a stick and hope for the best.  If he had a fever or an infection, I would not set leeches on his body to pull illness out if it. I am, indeed, thankful to live in this time and in a country, where we have access to modern medicine, anaesthetics, medication and surgery.  And free (!) immunisation programs.
Yes, there is an inherent risk of side-effects, allergic reactions or human failure on administration in modern medicine, but on the whole, we are SO MUCH better off than many on this planet and certainly better than our ancestors who battled with high child mortality rates and incurable illnesses throughout history.

For me, on vaccination, my personal research is long done : I have formed my opinion and will follow through (with the vaccination schedule that is).
But I still follow the discussion and events. Here is an excellent write-up on what’s going on in the US I read only this weekend.
Even if some have moved on from the ‘link to autism’ debate, there is now a whole and very vehement anti-vaccination movement, based on the rejection of ‘toxins’, a preference for immunisation through ‘natural antibodies’ and the before mentioned suspicion of ‘BigPharma’. And this movement is indeed also growing in Australia.

In this context, the planned policies deserve a bit of consideration.
I wonder is if  these people will even be concerned by the cut in government funding, when – other than complacency due to ignorance on the severity of these illnesses – the most fervent immunisation rejecters are often part of the upper middle-class to wealthier parts of the population ? If you do not get or need the Family Tax Benefit in question, you will not feel any cut at all.
I have also read in the past, that the perspective of future stricter laws to protect herd immunity in Australia has lead some “anti-vaxxers “, as they are also called, to already start some sort of pseudo-religious movement to be able to put forth the required religious reasons.  Homeschooling rates might increase further, but I could also imagine the set-up of ‘immunisation free’ child care centres. Members of the movement have shown to be fierce in the defence of what they consider their right to individual choice as it is, and I can already imagine how people who otherwise have had no objection to immunisation will now question the ‘real reasons’ of a government and sympathise with the movement just out of principle.

It’s a dilemma, because the immunisation rates according to the NCIRS , are still relatively high and are ensuring herd immunity in this country – on average. But there are pockets in certain areas with far lower coverage, and larger outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases  in other parts of the western world in similar settings (in several European countries) have been registered. Sadly, for some people, the new, stricter policy (if it comes into place) will just increase their suspicions, drive them onto the internet for ‘information’ and into the arms of what I believe is fear-mongering, 1st world problem creating propaganda (anti-vaccination sites are increasingly donning a more ‘news&science’ design, in look as much as in their articles).

But other than the never-ending mommy wars about breastfeeding, working, homeschooling or disciplining your child, this is actually a VERY serious problem and it does NOT only concern your own child : One sick non-vaccinated child can easily introduce infectious diseases into any group of vaccinated children who can still carry the infection home to their family. This has the potential to kill children. Babies, who are too young to be immune yet. Children with actual medical deficiencies that cannot be vaccinated.

“Chicken pox parties” or the celebration of measles in a book ?  I can’t see how any thoughtful human being would want to be part of that. Personal choices and decisions do ALWAYS end where they interfere with other peoples well-being.

And while it is true that one section of the movement has widened their argumentation beyond the false claims that vaccinations cause autism, I can’t help but feel that there is still a lot of time, energy and money spent that does nothing to help people and children with autism live better with the condition.  Rather, autism is still painted as the “ultimate evil” that can come into your life if you do not distrust, delay or refuse vaccination. Now while this is not only false in regards to what scientific research says on possible causes of autism (at the risk of sounding like a broken record: NOT vaccination), it furtherly contributes to the negative attitude the public will have towards autism and other people with visible or invisible disabilities, mental illnesses and generally anyone who is different, weak or disadvantaged in any other way.  I am not one of the parents that will tell you how ‘the gift of autism’ is what makes their child so unique, so beautiful or deep. But I am living with it on a daily basis and I am accepting it as part of who my child is.  Yes, he is a great kid, unique and beautiful.  But every unscientific blogpost, every media appearance of an anti-vaxxer merely on the basis of ‘balance’ when reporting about immunity issues, raising doubt and fears in parents, keeps feeding into the unscientific, dangerous debate about the ‘epidemic’ of autism and makes his life, along with that of all other autists in our society, that much harder.  And that has to stop. In the light of all this, as a parent and as a thinking person, the policy announcement is a step in the right direction.

Any actual thoughts on this are very welcome in comments. The usual Anti-vaccination propaganda is not. Comments are moderated.

Remember the Easter Bilby ?

250030-980293c9-bea5-4cb3-8362-91727d81648elAfter 2 years in Australia (the first 2 were a bit of a blur to be honest) Tornado was just the age to enjoy a little bit of Easter fun and magic. As for Christmas, I will always mention the beliefs and traditions practised by people all over the world during these festivities, but we are not religious in our family. With many of the traditions having their roots in pagan beliefs and originating (well, yes) in Germany for both, there is still lots to talk about heaps of fun to have in both seasons.

images (1) I still struggle to think of a bunny or rabbit for Easter, having grown up with the idea of an Easter Hare. Hares are rarer, bigger and far less often seen as roadkill in Europe. They are incredibly fast (Their bodies are capable of absorbing the g-force produced while running at extreme speeds! whoa!) and have sophisticated stealth methods, so you kind of see why they first got the job.

Bunnies on the other side, while certainly qualifying by their explosive reproduction rate to be a symbol for fertility (that’s what Easter was all about originally, right, see also the eggs.. ), yeah, I don’t know…

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It appears to me they are far to busy posing for internet macros, invading Australia’s plains or living as live plush toys at people’s home to be up for the task to go hiding all those eggs once a year ? (but yeah, they sure are cute..)

Always interested (and very alarmed) by the origins and occurrence of invasive species in Australia, and the unique, sometimes bizarre fauna of my new home country, I was pleased to hear about the ‘Easter Bilby’ campaign.
6a00e39820d169883301156f0df6e8970c-320wi

So here is the Bilby.
Yes, one could argue that it isn’t just as cute as the rabbit… Or as fast as the hare.
But they do have long ears too and it’s menaced by extinction and it needs some support.

Bilbies are slowly becoming endangered because of habitat loss and change as well as food competition with invasive species. Feral cats pose a major threat to the bilby’s survival, and it competes with rabbits for food.
Over the last 20 years, Australian conversationalists and some chocolate companies have picked up the problem and come up with a campaign to promote the ‘Easter Bilby’. I think it’s a great idea !  Sort of.warning

So while I do not totally reject the Easter Bunnies (aww, who could they are just too cute!!) and it appears that not all companies who have been involved in selling chocolate bilbies in the past were actually contributing to any wildlife fund, but why not talk to your kids about the bilby this year or make a direct contribution to known wildlife organisations.

Because they clearly need some help :

“Bilbies try to frighten their attackers by wiggling bilby 2their bottoms, and waving their black tipped tail. Let’s just say it’s been unsuccessful against foxes and cats.” (Dr Tony Peacock,
of the
invasive animals Cooperative Research Centre)

Figs..and a little bit of Italy in Oz

On Australia Day this year (I posted about what it means to me here), we went out to different family events in the Bay. We spent a few hours in the sun trying to find somewhere where the Tornado and a little friend could have fun and we would not all end up with a melted brain.

It was hot though even at the fabulous shadowy playground at Wellington Point, so when finally we had enough of the heat and the crowd, and I had dropped off our friends, I sat with a buzzing head in the car driving back. Tornado said – remarkably – “we go home and we have quiet games now, ok Mami?” Oh, yes buddy, we will.

Then I passed by a handwritten sign on a fence where someone was selling the produce of their garden to people via their driveway. “FIGS NOW OPEN”
Hmmm, I thought. Fresh figs! I turned around and parked the car.
As I only have discovered fresh figs (as opposed to dry ones, or sugar soaked ones) in my 20s (moving south in Europe), I still consider them somewhat a special treat. I don’t need to say what an incredibly healthy treat figs are.

figs11-540x341So I rang the old and battered hand bell that was attached to a table with a string. After what seemed an eternity – I was really about to go – a man who was easily in his late 70s if not more, came to the door. He was carrying little cardboard crates of figs by the dozen. And a big smile. The figs  looked gorgeous!

After a few words, I kind of already knew but I wanted confirmation : the old man’s Italian accent was so thick he could have been off the boat yesterday. Out of curiosity, I asked him how long he was living in Australia for.
He told me to take a guess.

Now I have met Italian and Greek immigrants of this generation in Australia before so I dared a cheeky “40 years!” and that made him laugh.
“55! ” he said. I told him where I was from. And : “About 4 years here now.”

He smiled and nodded.  “Issa grat-uh plaice, heh? Australee-ya!”

You’re sayin’ it, mate.  Great for all of the above and so many reasons more.
Ps: Figs tasted awesome!

Link: more about the common fig, on wiki HERE
mummytime

Suburp’s Sunday Seven–2nd edition

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I quite enjoyed this last week, so I decided to give it another go. Not so easy with 3 very attention-seeking boys in the house (my son, my husband, the dogthing – the lady dog and the fish are much more self-sufficient I must say).  But I got through the list. So here are the seven things of the week :

The PHOTOimage
This photo captures so many things for me.

My boy with his school hat.
So ‘grown up’ now.
So Aussie.
So beautiful too.

(With pizza in the park Smile)

 

The THOUGHT
For Queensland, after the Floods came Cyclone Yasi and while it seems that surprisingly few people have lost their lives, many have still lost so much! I think it can’t be said enough that while some of the things we gather in our houses during a lifetime are replaceable and futile clutter, many have lost everyday items, furniture and electronics of immense value. But the truly irreplaceable things are the objects we are holding on to because they come from a dear (maybe disappeared) person or remind us of times that were very precious to us. It’s incredibly hard to part with a few bags and since I have been there, sort of, and you NEVER know what happens, I really thought this is yet another excellent reason to continue to declutter my home.
Just in case one day we will have to grab a few things and run.

The WORDevil
In the context of some incidents on and offline, the word ‘evil’ either appeared or popped up in my mind. I have been called evil in the past and felt it was one of the most insulting, yet vague accusations of all.
But what does it really mean? What is the origin of the word and is it appropriate that we still use it today ? Are we using it right ? I looked up the usual definitions via dictionaries and thought about when and why I am using this word.  One site listed no less than 44 articles with people’s definitions of what is evil. Different religions have different approaches to the understanding of the existence of evil in the world, in the human society. Then I found a paragraph in Wikipedia about how useful the term evil is extremely interesting. Read here. 

The LINKfood for victory 1942
Things Your Grandmother Knew
and you wish you did too.” A blog.

More than living simply, more than living ‘green’, thrifty grandmas knew the importance of the ‘economics’ in Home Economics.
 
I have seen similar blogs before (also in different languages). They are often a mix of interesting trivia and useful tips with sometimes hilarious illustrations and sidenotes.  While our grandmas might not all be on the internet, some of their knowledge has fortunately made it there. Worth checking out.

The PROJECT(s)
Always to many projects, oh my! My project – since the beginning of the year ! – is to actually keep track of projects a little bit better. It’s.. in process. Obviously, you can write down every thought and idea that flashes through your brain, but I have taken to actually use one (and only ONE) of the many journals and notebooks I have to write down things that seem noteworthy, am finally using Evernote on my phone and pc and I think I see a bit more clearer as to what really needs to be done. (Or would be fun and interesting to do..! ) Update on last week’s project : fail.

The SONG

ninaThis song, written originally in the 1930s and recorded by Nina Simone in 1958 for her debut album, became a big hit after it was featured in a Channel No.5 commercial. People of my generation ( x ) will remember the odd Aardman Animations (Wallace&Gromit, Chicken Run..) Play-Doo video. It made me discover, at an early age, a great jazz/blues artist who was also a civil rights activists. There are plans to make a movie about her life, with Mary J.Bligh in the title role. Can’t wait!

The IDEA30122009274
I found an awesome European website, that makes quality surface stickers to customize Ikea furniture with great designs. “Say NO to naked furniture” they say.  Artists can also submit their own designs. Now if they even do shipping to Oz, it might be a bit expensive, but it gave me the idea to do something creative with the screaming yellow monster buffet in our family room bought 1/3 of the price! in their bargains section – love it!!).  A suivre!

Pancake Time Machine – Part 3 Australia

I am finally coming back to my (moderately ambitious) mini series with posts about pancakes. The post was ready for a while, but the floods in Queensland, Cyclone Yasi and last but not least a certain lack of focus and organisation caused this delay, well never mind.

World2What better day than to post about pancakes on World Nutella Day ?

Yes, indeed. As already announced on my sidebar for a while, today is the day we celebrate the big brown jar of plenty!

(Thanks for the reminder, too, through a post on wordpress’ Freshly Pressed)

After my childhood in Germany, with my mother’s pancakes right out of a cement mixer (or so it seemed, but they were still yummy) and after studying crepe-making for many years in France, what kind of pancakes do I make now, for my own family, here in Australia..?

Well, today, my pancakes are based on a very simple recipe, with basic ingredients,  easy to remember, easy to make,  it’s really a bit like
pancakes for dummies :
2 cups of milk, 2 eggs,
2 cups of self-raising flour,
brown sugar – probably half a cup
, maybe more.
I use butter to grease the pan, and may add cream if I have any. Yeah, now I believe that if you count calories when you are preparing a treat, you might as well let it be. (Obviously, that’s why they are ‘Sometimes Food’ only !)
I always add some ‘All Spice’ or Cinnamon and/or vanilla essence.
I like ’em small, thick and rich !000pancakes :

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pancakes can go in the toaster the next morning (or for a snack at night..) with no risk to slip away and cause a fuse to blow (there has been some research into this..). I mostly just sprinkle powder sugar on top since there is already spices inside, but obviously, if you’re into acorn syrup, knock yourself out (but invest in the real, pure syrups).

Now to close the loop, my pancakes also taste awesome with Nutella.
I make a point of NOT always having a jar at home…
because otherwise I’d pretty much just do what this squirrel does :Nutella-squirrel

So, have some pancakes soon and Happy Nutella Day to all of you !  In love

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PS : And for the LOLZ, here a link to an article about a US mum who is sueing the makers of Nutella, because it is not – shock, terror – actually as ‘healthy and nutritious’ as the advertising led her to believe. Oh dear !

The Pancake Time Machine :
Part 1 – Eierkuchen : my childhood’s pancakes in Germany
Part 2 – Young and chic with crepes in France

Cyclone Yasi – I’m so scared for them…

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It’ all over the news I am quite overwhelmed by this new,  announced spectacle of nature’s fury *.
I know, it does not mean anything. There is no one to blame. At least there are warnings and evacuations nowadays… But it’s just so damn scary and upsetting to watch, even if we are, again, in a safe zone. (Awesome is up in Rocky, but for the time being it seems to be just out of reach there. )

*)Tropical cyclone Yasi is currently approaching the coasts of Northern Queensland, now classed as a force 5, translating to winds up to almost 300 km/h. It’s a forecasted second natural disaster of gigantic proportions  in the space of only a few weeks. Queensland, still battered by the impact of the January floods (covering  a region as big as Texas) is, again, waiting to see how an unstoppable force of nature will bring destruction, more flooding and, most likely, death.  Just like in 1974, a flood and a tropical cyclone, are hitting this part of Australia, only  at the time, the land and the people had  11 months to recover between the two events. Let’s keep our hopes up that Yasi will end up having much less impact than the predictions, evacuations and warnings announce.. Queensland is brave but it does not need to prove it yet again!