Happy kids

The secret to daily happiness

Last week was a very happy week.  For what feels like the first time in a long time (I'm thinking 2 years), I had 2 happy children, happy on the same day, at the same time, the same minutes, they were pee-your-pants-laughing-happy, day after day.

"We are only as happy as our unhappiest child" 

is a phrase that has run over and over in my head for the past 2 years.  They are so good at tagging in and out of happiness.  It's as if there is an unspoken agreement between them that both can't be peaking in joy simultaneously.   Ok maybe I'm exaggerating, of course they have been happy on weekends and in the summer holidays, but during the daily course of life (school), until they started at Lemania International School, it was a day to day struggle for them to see any positives in their wee existence.    
I am, naturally, a very happy person.  I love a challenge, and can usually see positivity in a tricky situation.  But when you become a parent you are no longer in control of many areas of your life, including your emotions.  Every cell in your body is programmed to be in line with theirs.  Well at least that's how mine operates.    And this is life, isn't it.   

I said to my daughter last week, the reason we have these very challenging periods in our life is so we can be happy with mediocrity.  We can be happy with what is not in our life. We can be happy that we wake up without a headache, nausea or stomach pain.   We can be happy our legs aren't aching so much we can't sleep.  Then we can be happy with what we do have. We can be happy that we have the energy to walk in fresh air to school.  We can be happy we have teachers who encourage us to think differently and ask questions.  We can be happy we have peers who find it easier to speak kindly than cruelly. 

Feeling gratitude is, like mindfulness, everywhere you turn these days.  And rightly so.  When we feel gratitude, actually take the time to visualise something we are very grateful for, we lower our heart rate, our blood pressure, decrease cortisol production, increase serotonin, feel present, and, as it says on the tin, feel grateful.   The more we practice it the less we live in a state of 'I'll be happy when....."  Instead we can be happy all the time because we are eternally grateful for small things.  We eliminate fear and unhappiness during those moments of appreciation. It’s impossible to feel fear and gratitude at the same time.

So, without any further ado, I gift you an additional tool to feeling happiness when it is illusive.  Music.  Here is  'Sian's Happy playlist".  I put this on when I am walking to collect the kids from school, walking to work, vacuuming, cleaning the loo, sometimes I bust it out in the middle of a vinyasa flow class. 

I don't expect you to love it as much as I do, because these are songs that trigger endorphins in me.   I associate them with people, occasions, places, smells, happiness.   Make your own happy playlist,  fill it with cheese, it doesn't have to be 'cool' it just has to make your soul sing. 

In the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 
 

https://open.spotify.com/user/12154526561/playlist/2BNnZB1rmp0EuH0Ws3kjFz

 

 

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Best ever healthy GF pacman flapjack recipe

I've always felt children are like small drunk adults.   They close-talk loudly about themselves, spit food as they talk, knock things over, dance whenever music comes on, fall over often, and frequently wet themselves.  Mine don't wet themselves any more, unless they are in full winter kit and can't get it off in time.  And even I'm guilty of that.  Oscar (9) is all skin and bone, so much so that when the Parisian neighbour (age 8) punched him this summer he bruised his knuckles and screamed loudly (in French) for an hour.  It was the first time I've heard Oscar talk in rapid French. I think he was explaining how it wasn't his fault his ribcage was so strong. Or he may have been telling him ribs were his favourite food.  Either way, there's no padding on that wee frame.    I digress, he is ALWAYS hungry.  His feet are almost the same size as mine (40) and his legs are as long as his sisters.  He eats as much as his dad, but moves more, I calculated this summer he needs at least 6 hours of full activity a day - 4 hours mountain biking, 2 hours in the pool.  Then I have an angel on my hands.   So without further ado I present to you my number one filler for him, flapjack.  He isn't totally Gluten Free but I used GF oats for this so the whole family can pick at it.  You can use normal oats though.  And as I always say, I'm a rubbish baker, so rest assured this recipe is 100% failsafe, if you muck up the quantities or change things around to suit you it will still work and you'll be the Queen (or King) of the house for at least 3 minutes. 

Ingredients

  • 150g ready-to-eat stoned dates
  • 100g organic butter
  • 3 generous tbsp honey
  • 50g ready-to-eat stoned dried apricot, finely chopped
  • 50g chopped toasted almonds or walnuts or both or any nuts you fancy
  • 3 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 50g raisins
  • 150g GF porridge oats

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Line an 18cm square tin with baking paper. Melt the butter & add to dates into a food processor and process until they are finely chopped and sticking together in clumps.

  2. Put the butter & honey & dates into a saucepan and heat gently. Stir until the everything is blended together. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and stir until well mixed. Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread level.

  3. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Remove and cut into 12 pieces. Leave in the tin until cold. Store in an airtight container (although I never have enough left over as you can see from this pick my monsters got to it before I could)

Pacman Flapjack

Bananarama Bread

I am a rubbish baker.  I like to blame it on the fact I lost my glasses toboggoning home drunk on my birthday last season.  Well not blame it on that, but because it's too expensive for me to buy new ones here in Swiss,  I can't see the ingredients properly.  But if I'm 100% honest with you it's because I hate following recipes.  When I'm cooking it's a meditative process for me, I like imagining a taste in my head and then thinking what ingredients will make it taste like that.   I usually win on the cooking front, but very rarely when baking.    That is why this GF DF Banana Bread is a winner every time. (That said not even this filter can hide the fact I may have left it in slightly too long.)  It is SO resilient, last time I substituted one of the cups of almond meal with coconut flour AND  dropped it as I took it out of the oven, and still managed to get those little folk in the house to eat it.  How rad is that!    Another reason I love it is because Oscar has a mad sweet tooth and this helps satiate that, if I can get a piece of this into him he forgets he asked me for an ice cream (every day) when he gets off the school bus.   I also really love it because my best friend Senka gave it to me, my Nana always made me banana loaf (old school styles) and I gave this recipe to my mum (she uses half carrots, half bananas) so I think of them when I bake.  Which makes me feel good.  

So here you go, here is the worlds easiest banana bread recipe stolen from Senka, god knows where she stole if from so sorry if it's yours and we stole it.  But we love it so you should be stoked! 

Mix in one bowl

4 eggs

3 ripe bananas

1/4 cup honey 

1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk 

1 T vanilla (I just hurl a pile in)

Mix in other bowl

2 1/4 cup Almond Flour

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 t cinnamon 

2 t baking soda

Combine and bake for 35 - 50min on whatever heat you normally bake for (about 175 maybe? Don't ask me I burned it last time...maybe you could let me know.) 

 

Best ever easiest ever banana bread

Best ever easiest ever banana bread