Friday, July 24, 2015

The Eye of The Sheep

The silver lining after any surgery is the time when you are forced to sit around and do nothing more than read books, watch movies and be waited upon. It's actually hard to do nothing when you are used to doing everything in your house.

But get yourself a good book and it is much much easier.

I started off with The Eye of The Sheep.





It's just won a Miles Franklin Award, which is the award for "presented each year to a novel which is of the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases" 

So, it's an Australian book of the year.

It's based in the industrial part of Melbourne during the 80s, think car plants and smelters and factory workers, and told through the eyes of Jimmy. A child who sees the world through eyes that are just different. The book doesn't give him a label of any specific type.

Jimmy's family is his world, but his Dad is a wife beater and drinker and not all that understanding of Jimmy's uniqueness.

The story rolls through domestic violence, family dynamics, school systems that can't accommodate all kids and emergency service organisations that often just have no decent alternative for kids who fall into their care.

At first, I wasn't sure I felt like reading a book with such depressing subjects. But with the story told in the voice of Jimmy, who is six when we first meet, it isn't so harsh.

It's a good read, it's not a happy one, but the story captures you as you see the pieces of the family laying about. Side characters, Jimmy's uncle and his brother are welcome stories in the book, I always wanted more of them than we got, but I think that's the whole point. Jimmy did too, but you can't have all your family members some times.

If you asked me the question about whether you will like this book or not, I am not sure of the answer. If you asked if I think you should read it, the answer would be yes.

Have you read it? What did you think? 

Have I turned you away from reading it? 





P.S. My blog eats comments very regularly and I miss too many of them. I have now turned them off. Join me over on your favourite social site of choice FacebookTwitter or Instagram to chat more. Thanks for reading.
xx

Thursday, July 23, 2015

You are a crap parent.




Sorry, but it’s highly likely you are a crap parent.

It’s true. It most likely started during your pregnancy but in the interests of time let’s just start at the birth of your child. I hear you didn’t do it right, that is unless you went out behind a tree and birthed by yourself in a forest devoid of any pollution so that your baby entered a world of peace and cleanliness without INTERVENTION from anyone who THINKS they know what is best for you. You see, women have been birthing babies forever and they never needed any help before, shame on you. Let us not be swayed by those other facts, you know, the ones that indicate women forced to birth without assistance or invention actually die way too often. The WHO report gives a 15 year old female in sub-Saharan Africa a 1 in 40 chance of dying during childbirth in her lifetime, but still, you could have probably done better at the birth of your baby.

After birth, you probably did any number of the following awful things risking your baby’s future. Co-slept, fed to sleep, used a dummy, used a bottle, drove around in the car to get your baby to sleep, had a glass of wine and then breastfed, had a glass of wine and then bottle fed. Allowed your child under 2 to watch TV, had a Grandma who put food on a dummy, swaddled for too long, swaddled the hips too tight. Used a cot bumper (actually that is crap parenting), used a baby bath seat, turned your car seat too early, used a bassinet for too long.

Perhaps at some stage, you also decided to go back to work. OMFG!

If you didn’t go back to work, well, bigger fool you because your children are now stuffed, the research says the children of mothers in the paid work force are all better off.  

But maybe you stayed home and made home made lunches and cakes and protein balls and your child’s lunch box never ever saw a piece of processed food. Plus, the rest of society kind of relies on your unpaid hours to keep the rest of us afloat. Imagine our community with no parents at home at all, that would be rather shite.

Everyone knows that one in five children are now obese and this is a really bad state of affairs, one that really, can probably be blamed on mums who are low on time and using processed foods, hang your head in shame you working mothers, who cares that your kid might be better off with you working, you have still failed! I bet you even allowed LCM bars and tiny teddies in the house, probably even blamed the kids, saying that somedays that is all they will eat!

Some of you may have cried when you ‘had’ to leave your kids at crèche. The guilt was the sign that you are clearly a crap parent, totally unworthy of such fabulous children. Then again, research shows that kids in crèche have more books read to them and get exposed to more social interactions than those at home having babycino’s with Mum, supposedly doing all the craft activities on Pinterest to help with fine motor skills, but really just playing iPad.

Perhaps you didn’t take your child to swimming lessons and now they will only be average at school, because kids who do swim lessons before age five are better at language, numeracy and literacy skills (apparently).  It could be you missed music and mummy classes so now your kid is never going to be able to be good at maths.

I have listened to people sighing and ohhing over the desperately sad idea of children going out for dinner and using iDevices at the table. Boo hoo, what will become of the children? Clearly those kids have crap parents.  The same sighing people will then rave about a new educational app that your child just must have, it will save them from falling below average.  You see, the trick is to never let anyone see your child using the iDevice, only crap parents allow that to happen. Again, that’s probably you, failing at this parenting gig again.

And how are your school lunch box skills? Have you mastered the piece of art that your child deserves to receive each day? Are your wholegrain organic spelt sandwiches cut into dinosaurs? You do know that the option of triangles or squares is just not enough mental stimulation for young growing minds. No wonder your child isn’t eating their lunch if you are providing them a piece of fruit, it’s your job to get out those cookie cutters and be original. Excite your child at every opportunity. Anything less is just another sticker on your crap parenting chart.

Raise your hand if your child has never ever tasted fairy bread. Now, those of you with a raised hand, you are a crap parent. Every child has the right to experience the joy of fairy bread. 

Now let’s get serious. Schools. If you are at a private primary school, well that is a total waste of money that you could be spending on your child in better ways, just proving again you are likely a crap parent. (Don't read too far into the research as you my find it slightly skewed).

As for high school, well if you didn’t enrol young Bernie on to the waiting list before they were six weeks old, you get another crap parent sticker. What hope does Bernie have if you can’t even get the forms in on time? If you have a flicker of hope it will be that you are living in the postage stamp sized boundary of the select entry school.

There are other ways to confirm your crap parenting levels too. Have you ever:
  • Raised your voice in anger at your child?
  • Sighed loudly when they needed to go to the toilet just as you and your weeks worth of groceries got to the check out?
  • Been too lazy to cook dinner and used the Macca’s drive through?
  • Used a babysitter who did not have a police check and CPR certificates?
  • Sent the kids to bed in the clothes they fell asleep in, without cleaning their teeth?
  • Missed going to the dentist?
  • Thought a runny nose was a virus, which became an ear infection in the middle of the night?
  • Missed library day at school (two weeks in a row)
  • Missed an assembly when your kid got student of the week?
  • Have failed to take your children for a cultural diversity trip overseas? (Bali does not count)
  • Have failed to take your children camping, outside of a caravan park?
  • Don’t have a pet?


You don’t have to admit it out loud, and I am sorry to be the one to highlight your failings to you, but as you can see, chances are you are a crap parent.

There is a way to fully redeem yourself and protect your child from your parenting fails.

Just love your child with all your might and protect them from harm at all times. 

Hug them, cuddle them, laugh with them, talk to them, listen to them. Keep them warm and snug, and feed them the best you can. Read books together, take selfies together. Sing badly in the car and share TicTacs when you get petrol.

In ten years your baby won’t care that you had an epidural or you missed music classes. 

Just love your kids.

Don’t hit them.
Don’t let anyone else hit them.
Do stuff together.

The rest is all gonna be ok.








P.S. My blog eats comments very regularly and I hardly ever see them, so I have now turned them off. Join me over on your favourite social site of choice Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to chat more. Thanks for reading.
xx


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Talk Back Radio Topics: Teenagers and jobs.



I am a big fan of talk back radio and there are times I have sat in the car to hear the end of a discussion. Usually, I want to talk about it some more and write blog posts in my head, but then I get busy and don't type them up.

This was a conversation from a couple of weeks ago that still runs around my mind.


Did you have a job as a teenager? I had a few random jobs. Washing dishes at the local pubs, waitressing, admin stuff, babysitting.

According to the experts, teenagers who work 8-10 hours a week are pretty much the winners of future job interviews.

Research confirmed that students working 8-10 hours a week were:
- Getting better academic results
- Getting into the courses they wanted to do after school
- Having great success at securing future employment
- Earning more cash (clearly)

It was a big conversation with people saying that senior school students have a lot of pressure these days and no time for work. The 'Get a Job' Man, suggested that year 12 has always been stressful, and previously we didn't have google to help us, AND we had to handwrite everything. He also suggested if you counted up the amount of time these "stressed and busy' teens were using on social media each week it would probably be well over 8 hours.

PLUS - research proved that those who worked a few hours actually got better marks then those who didn't. So if you want to improve your marks, get a job.

The calls kept coming in from parents and employers. Employers were adamant, that if a kid had been at the till of the local chicken and chips shop or mopping floors somewhere every Saturday morning that these kids were in front of others. The teenagers who had babysitting gigs or got paid to mow the lawn for the neighbours regularly also showed skills of understanding 'how' to work and were equally better off.

Some parents still defended the no-work side, arguing about sport and music lessons and the whole no time thing. But Mr "Get a Job" responded with a controversial stance of a job being more important than sports training. No future employer will ever ever ask "How many goals did you get in netball?", he said. "They just will not care. They will care if you had a little job and you turned up on time, however junior and basic that job might have been."

The general idea was, whatever school you go to, whatever marks you get, whatever skills your kid has or sporting award received, the kids with a job a few hours a week are the winners.

It was all so interesting.

As usual, every parent was wanting to defend the choice they have made on behalf of their own teen.

Have you got teenagers? Do they work? Do you have a teenaged baby sitter? What's the going rate in your area?



Monday, July 13, 2015

How to capture the best photos on your weekend away




You know I love to capture photos for my #MyFamilyAndMe Project. Every single week I like to make the effort to get a photo which includes me WITH the kids or Mr H because if I don't make a significant effort to get one, they just never ever happen.

Even though I managed to do that every week last year, and half of this year, there hasn't been that really special image that I loved so much I wanted it printed out and up on the wall.

It's also been a couple of years since I had professional photos taken of the girls, so last weekend when we went away for my 40th I decided I'd see if we could get some images.

I went straight to google and searched for photographers in the beach side town of Ocean Grove where we were going. I followed all four of those that came up on Facebook and had a good sticky beak at their style of images.

I really liked Narelle Niksic Photography so I sent a quick email to see if we could book in a time while we were at the beach house. Narelle replied instantly and we bonded over being late night workers, sending emails at midnight and how you never usually expect a reply.

On the Saturday morning I made the girls brush their hair, like really brush their hair, not just tie it back and hide the knots. I had told Narelle how I kept putting off having these photos taken, I was waiting for a time when I had lost some weight, had clearer skin, had better hair and a gorgeous outfit that looked amazing on me. Really, that day is never ever going to arrive.

Narelle sent me a little questionnaire before the day asking about each of us and what I was hoping the photos would be like. I told her I wanted us to be the focus, I wanted old style portrait photos, not magazine style where the background is the hero. She totally got what I wanted.



I have to wait three weeks until I see our gallery and then I am going to get my favourite images printed, framed and ON THE WALL, but until then, I have these little sneaky peak images and I am just so glad that I decided to get them taken.

I am definitely going to consider having professional photos done on some of our future weekends away.


Have you got a nice family portrait of you and your family? If not, what are you waiting for? 





This is not a sponsored post, but if you would like to see more of Narelle's images, check out her facebook page.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I celebrated 40



It's happened.

I have left my thirties behind and entered a whole new decade and if the last week has been a token of what is to come than I am really looking forward to the future.


I went without a giant party but I certainly feel as though I celebrated with lots of friends and family. From some it was as simple as a phone call, a facebook message or a text, but altogether it meant my phone was buzzing all day long with people who had me in their thoughts for a moment. It's actually pretty special to know that so many people from my last four decades took the time to send me wishes.

I dined for lunch and dinner multiple times through the week and ate lots of cake, because there are no calories in cake during your birthday week. There were little things in the mail and flowers that smelt like what beautiful smells like.

But most of all there was my family and a weekend away. We spent lots of quiet/busy time together. There was a pool. And a pool table. There was Foxtel and movies and scooters and skateboards. Plus the beach.

A few close friends joined us for some of the time and there was more talking than you think could ever occur in 24 hours.

I feel very lucky in so many ways. Turning 40 has been a lovely reminder to me of all the good in my life. Not everyone gets to turn 40, and those that do don't always get to have all the people they want there to celebrate with them, my Dad couldn't be here to have a drink with, but he left me surrounded by the best of people in all areas of my life.

He also left me a few good bottles of wine in the cellar. I like to think it was deliberate, his way of being there at all my future celebrations.

So, here's to 40 and all the good times ahead.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Do yourself a favour... The Devil in the Marshalsea


cover of book The Devil in the Marshalsea



When you read a great book you just have to share it with everyone. My latest read I was reluctant to even start.

The Devil in the Marshalsea is my current book club book. I totally judge a book by its cover, I know I shouldn't but I do. This book is black and dark and falls in the crime/thriller section, these are the areas I usually avoid.

However it also hangs out in the historical section and that is an area that rarely fails me.

I started The Devil in the Marshalsea with little expectation. I hoped it wouldn't be too 'thriller', not to gory.

Lucky we had a lazy weekend because once I got started I barely stopped. On Sunday morning I kept reading until midday, forcing myself to stop. You know those people who are early to school pick up and sit in the car park for an hour? I now know what they are doing, they are reading great books, well, that is what I planned into my day.

Tom is the main character who is very down on his luck. He ends up in the debtors prison, and prison of any kind in 1725 wasn't a place you wanted to be. You can trust no one and believe nothing.

Tom can earn his freedom from the prison by finding out who murdered an inmate recently, but every time you think you might know where it's about to go the next twist and turn springs on you. You now how you think of those people that are not obvious and think you are clever enough to have the book sorted...and each time you are wrong!

I am not going to say too much more as you just don't want spoilers in this book.

I really was on edge as I read it, I felt anxious reading as I worried for Tom and how he'd cope with each new day. Yet, I couldn't stop reading, desperate to know which character would be next to help him out of his latest troubles.

Do yourself a favour and have a read of this one.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It’s ok to play on social media with your kids.




I get lots of questions from parents about using social media. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know anything about having a teenager and social media, but I know that giving your kid a device and deciding they are now old enough to just do what all the other kids are doing these days isn’t the best choice for most kids.

Lots of parents will say to me, “I don’t really do that social media thing”, which is fine, but guess what, you need to figure it out.

If the oldies are getting on facebook, you can check out a few apps, you can take a look at what the cool kids are playing with.

You could even have a family account on an app that your kids want to play with.

We have one on Instagram.  Mr H controls it, but the kids are allowed to put what they want on it. It’s a private account and they have six followers, but they follow a few interesting accounts. They can see their cousins photos and write comments on them. They can see beautiful photos from travel photographers and toursim accounts or nature photographers. Via our family instagram account our kids can see images from all over the world.

We talk about what kind of things you can put on instagram, like how it’s important to ask people first before you put them on. We make a big deal of not caring about who liked a photo or not, because they are sharing an image they like and want to keep for later, it’s not about everyone else. Sometimes we look at a hashtag and see what’s there.

Basically it’s a safe place for the kids to play, for us to show them how social can work and for them to make mistakes where no one will get upset.

Of course the nine year old has begged for her own account, but the answer here is no, she can do what she likes on the family account for a while yet.

The girls also get to use my little used Skype account. It’s been wonderful for Miss 6 to use. Her bestie has moved to America and she really misses her. The time differences are so great that they mainly only get to send messages, but she loves it so much. One weekend when they got to chat, she sat in her room and they talked about their new classes, their toys and silly stories. It was wonderful.

Kids don’t need their own social media accounts, but they can certainly benefit from the joys of social apps, and opening up an account that you all use together can be a safe place for little people to learn quite a lot, or, you might even learn a few things yourself.






Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Great marketing can protect our health. But...

If I started to sing Slip Slop Slap in the voice of a seagull with a lisp you would all probably sing along with me. That campaign started way back in 1981. I was 6 years old.



Back then,  I was sunburnt every time it was warm. At school there wasn’t a hat policy. No one had that expensive suncream stuff. We wore bikinis in the back yard, with maybe a singlet over the top. There wasn’t any SPF 50+ clothing or rashies or swimsuits.

Ten years later and my Dad, would often tell my sister and I we were foolish for sunbaking. He’d ask if we thought we would look good with big holes in our faces where the doctors might have to cut skin cancers out.

We responded by spraying more Sun In or squirting lemon juice on our hair.

Throw in another twenty years and my nine year old has never ever been sunburnt like I was as a kid. It starts in crèche with sun smart policies where three year olds have little ‘suncream’ stations where they learn to apply it before they go out to play in the morning and afternoon. Because no teacher has time to reapply 25 kids three times a day.

Now as a grown up my daily moisturiser has SPF 15+ in it, so does my hand cream, I can even get shampoos and hair care with sun protection in them.

I have lightweight summer scarves to protect me from the sun.

Our babies have sunshades over the already tinted car windows and even their prams have sun protection covers.

The Slip Slop Slap marketing campaign has changed the thinking of millions of people and saved thousands of lives, crazy amounts of people really.

But, we are so sun smart that a new condition has started to occur for those of us in the Southern States. 

We are lacking Vitamin D. 

We don’t get enough sun in the winter time.

I couldn’t believe it. Mr H is always getting as much sun as he can and he came back with test results saying he is lacking in Vitamin D.

It’s pretty easy to happen. Work in an office, wear a hat, wear clothes, keep under cover when it’s raining, exercise in a gym,

But what happens without the BIG D anyway?

Well, Quite a lot.  We are more like plants than you think and we really need a stack of water and a hit of sun to make us grow strong bones. No sun is linked to a whole range of stuff best avoided, MS and diabetes among them! That's serious illness. Then there is your mental health too, sun = happy.

The kids also need it to make sure they have strong bones and teeth. All that brushing won’t help if their teeth are not even strong enough to hang around.

In the summer time you probably get the Vitamin D you need, but if you are in a colder climate, from May to September your body is probably not. If you have SPF in your facecream and hand cream, and wearing your winter woollies covering the rest of your body, then you are not getting a scrap of Vitamin D for over four months. Remember your body can’t store Vitamin D, so it doesn’t matter how much you got back on your January beach holiday, your bones need more.

I tell you ladies, we don’t want to be falling over on the dance floor of life and cracking bones just because we didn’t get enough sun shine.

So what to do?
Well, you could eat more fish but hardly anyone gets enough Vit D from food.
Instead, try a winter skin care regime, that simply means your make up or moisturiser has no SPF in it. (Unless you are going to the snow, then use your summer stuff, that glare will burn you like a marshmallow in a fire).

Get outside in the daytime, or sit by a big sunny window with your arms getting some sunshine. Walk your baby in the middle of the day and let them get some sun on them too.

I am in NO WAY suggesting you try and get enough sun to burn your skin. You don’t need to go that far, just 15 minutes of sun on your hands during the middle of the day is what you need. It might be just hanging out the washing.

If you live in a sunny place like Queensland, you don’t really need to read this so much, you probably get enough and sun protection is still your reality.





Lastly and importantly, remember I AM NOT A DOCTOR. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. You should always take the advice of your doctor. But next time you have to take a routine blood test, consider asking if they can check your Vitamin D (if they are not already) and make sure you are giving your body the sunshine it needs.

Better Health also tells you all the facts, and they are real doctor types.




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