Friday, August 28, 2015

I love Book Week.

Yes, I do.

I know lots of parents find it a pain to organise costumes and some just pull out something they already have, like an Elsa dress, when we all know that's a movie, not really a book. But I enjoy it for lots of reasons.

It really makes my kids think about what books they like. They think about it for weeks, they talk about it with their friends at school, they hear about other books that they might not have read. The kids actually talk about books without even thinking they are talking about reading, they discuss likes and dislikes of characters and story lines.

This year our school organised a few guest visits too. Miss 9 walked to the car holding a heap of drawings, drawn after a presentation from Leigh Hobbs, I am not sure what he spoke about, but the drawings were great. Books are not just words, they are illustrations and art, be it the cover only or a full picture book. You should never really leave picture books behind, if you do, you will miss out on so many gorgeous stories, told simply and often with great artwork.

Immy was more than excited to learn that the author of her favourite book ever, 'All Through the Year', Jane Godwin, was coming to school to speak to them.

After school, I asked her what Jane Godwin was like. At first, she said, well, she is really different than I expected, because she has brown hair. I didn't think she was a brown hair lady. I have no idea why she had an image of what Jane Godwin's hair should look like in her mind! With the hair issue quickly behind her, Immy went on to tell me all about Jane's new book about a bear and a cave and the way it's written and how it's going to take a VERY long time to get the book here from China, but can we please please get it as soon as it arrives.

I checked out Jane Godwin on instagram and said hello, and Jane showed me the cover of the new book, then I noticed that she has a new book for Christmas this year too, so I am going to grab that for Immy's birthday in December.

Immy had been dressed as Mr Huff from a book that she only selected a few weeks ago because she thought it was a Jane Godwin book, it's actually an Anna Walker book, but Anna was the illustrator for All Through the was a great way to remind Immy that books often have someone who writes them and someone who draws the pictures, but not always.

Still, it was a good day when she had met Jane Godwin, and then Anna Walker commented on her Instagram image.

The teachers at school were all dressed as the Crayons from The Day the Crayons Quit, so that has been added to the book wish list this week too.

I am restraining myself from running to the book shop - yes, I still go to the book shop and hardly ever buy books online, I am not sure if it is because I despise paying postage or I just need things instantly, or I don't have time to get to the post office when they are not left at the door, or that I just love going and checking out all the new books.

This is only our second book week, and one of the benefits of changing schools was Miss 9 could wear the same outfit as last year, because Hermione is still the greatest character she has ever met.

Book week 2015 has certainly not been difficult, or expensive and didn't take too much effort at all, especially when I think of how it just encourages kids to think about books. And as the school captains reminded the kids at assembly, remember the words of Dr Suess:

"You can find magic, wherever you look, sit back and relax, all you need is a book"

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Excursion Tales

Last week I did something for the first time.

I was the parent helper on a school excursion with around 80 or so six year olds. We were headed to one of Melbourne's most delightful buildings which contains the Immigration Museum. I really love that place, but I am only ever there for events. Cocktail partys, talks and now with the six year olds. I have once again promised myself to go back there and actually read all the fascinating exhibits.

That photo above is not mine, because a responsible parent obeys the rules and does not use their phone when they in charge of six year olds - those kids can disappear faster than an iphone swipe!

When you go with a school, the kids sit in a room where they are told more about immigration and a case study about a couple from Vietnam. It was here that Immy was desperate to join in with the other kids and answer a question.

"Put your hand up, if one of your parents was born in another country" asked the instructor.

Little hands shot up everywhere, stretched as high as they could be, fingers wiggling.

We soon got reminders that Sydney and Adelaide were actually still in Australia, so those kids should put their hands down.

But Immy was still sitting there arm up, back straight, with her best, pick me, pick me face on.

"And you" she points at Immy. "In which country were your parents born?"

To which she answers. "My Dad, he was born in Benalla".

And guess what, it might actually be in Australia, but no one else had a parent with that claim to fame.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Do you ever get ideas of what would make a good business?

I get them about 720 times a day.

But I am not really the type of person who would start their own business. I'd like to think I am, but reality is I get so many ideas in a day I wouldn't be able to stay focussed on the one business. Well, I probably could, but it also takes a brave character, ready to deal with the business not succeeding, and I have to admit, I love my regular pay arriving in my bank.

It's all about the old risk reward ratio isn't. I first learnt about it at uni when I did my economics degree, but mainly we talked about risk reward when I worked at the Stock Exchange. You take a big risk, you should get a big reward, it might be monetary but it might also be flexibility, enjoyment and the hours you want.

If you think of 720 business ideas a day, nothing makes you more excited when someone you know starts up their own business. It's kind of like when friends announce having a baby, I just feel so excited for them and everything the future will bring them. It's not all going to be champagne and meredith cheese on crackers, but there are going to be some marvellous days ahead.

I have some friends who say that they would love a business but they just can't think of an idea for one. But, they are everywhere, I bet you have them all the time too.

A couple of years ago I hosted some market research at my house and one of the ladies attending said, why do paper towels have to come in a roll, why can't they be in a box like tissues. Guess what the brand (and it's a big brand) now has available?

This week, after my LumpyBeGone surgery I have been bra shopping for bras that are suitable for people who have had chest surgery. Went to Myer, the most unhelpful woman in the history of shopping, said "There is one post surgery bra, it's here" then she walked off. It was of course the most ugly thing you have ever seen. I went to another shop, lovely 22 year old shop assistant said sorry, there is only one option unless you have larger breasts, the second option is for larger breasts only. Really?? Let's be open, I am not exactly missing out in this department.  So if you can sew up a boulder holder that is wire free without an elastic band that is 2 inches wide, get sewing, there are patients out there in need of your garments.

I also thought maybe I could buy an Australia Post office business and actually provide really good service and see how that worked. I have a nasty mark where I had to bite my tongue while watching the way a woman (the owner of the business) so rudely spoke to a very very elderly man who got his PIN wrong a few times. He was getting stressed and apologising and she was using her cranky voice, saying, 'I have customers waiting, you know it or not?'  I was the next customer and I walked very very slowly to her counter, a little steam billowing from my ears. I really don't like it when morons are rude to people like that. I also hate that post office and it's pathetic lack of service, but I have to go there because there is no other post office.

I also want someone to start a business where they are like a travelling salesman, but instead of wanting me to change my power company, they ring the doorbell, and say "I am a window washer, for $100 I will wash all of your windows right now". I will say YES every time they knock.

You see the trick is always about finding something that people don't want to do and being the person who does it for them.

I would like to see a blow wave bar on every street corner. Oh, to be able to whip in and 20 minutes later just have my hair done, I can't make an appointment like the old days, I am not that organised, I just want to walk in and voila, good hair day!

There should also be a Mum who does school lunches, not like the canteen, but you text her and say, "Can I please have two school lunch boxes tomorrow, slip some cash in her paypal and the next day your kids get homemade school lunches, you don't even have to worry about play lunch snacks, it's all sorted.

I could go on and on.

Have you got any weird and wonderful business ideas that you might take on, or want someone else to take up?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Don't share your poo germs around

This is a sponsored post

I read too many parenting posts, I actually try not to because so many of them just annoy me, which was kind of the inspiration I had for the the 'You're a crap parent' post last week.

One of the things I didn't mention in that post was when people go on about how dirt is good for your kids, let them get grubby, don't ruin their immune systems by not letting them play, be at one with slugs and snails and nature. Just get them into nature, it won't hurt them... 

I actually don't know too many kids that don't get grubby. Isn't that why we are stuck in the laundry washing clothes so much? Kids have their hands in everything. The dirt, the monkey bars, their food, their hair, sand pits, chewing gum on the footpath. Kids are constantly playing with grime and hardly ever complain about being outside even when it's freezing. It's fantastic. They should keep doing that, and I doubt you could stop them, kids and filth are peas and corn.

The thing that everyone needs to do more of is just wash their hands. PLEASE. Use some soap and wash your hands. Then wash the kids' hands too and get the germs off them. Chances are they have wiped their bums, picked their noses, used their hands to eat, god knows what other sorts of stuff and all everyone has to do is wash their hands more. 

Or use some alcohol rub if you are out and about. Change a nappy - clean your hands. 

Because dirt and grime are fine, but sharing your poo germs around are not. SO MANY BUGS are simply spread because people don't clean their hands properly.  It's even got a name - Fecal-Oral  or Orofecal! Your kid gets some poo germs on their hand, then they put their hands to their face or they touch something, then you touch that thing, then another kid touches it, then they bite their nails and BAM, the kid just swallowed poo germs. Vomitness. 

With so many people not washing their hands, I find a regular spray of disinfectant never hurt.

When we have any type of cold/flu/virus I harp on and on to everyone about more handwashing and I also get out my trusty disinfectant sprays too. Glen 20 is my spray of choice. Sometimes I feel like I need to spray it in my eyes to cleanse them of the things I read in the newspapers...of course if says on the tin NOT to spray in eyes, so I don't spray in eyes...instead, I use it on as many surfaces as I can and even clothes don't miss out. In winter when the whole class seems to be sick, a little extra Glen 20 spray on the girls blazers has not hurt them (I spray it in the laundry, not while they are wearing them, just in case you were wondering).

So go outside and play, let everyone get filthy, your dirt germs don't bother me, just use some soap in the bathroom and feel free to use a little disinfectant spray on your door handles. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Creep is back.

I hate the Creep.

The Creep is sneaky and fast.

The Creep makes me feel awful and it makes me feel sad.

He attacks my self esteem and disrupts my days.

The Creep is boredom with a capital B.

The Creep visits me more often as the years roll on.

This time all was going so well. The Creep was under control.

Then I injured my back and found I couldn't do much at all for quite a few months, it's been a slow process to get moving slowly and I still need to be really careful with what I do.

Then I grew an egg and while the nerves and stress do keep the Creep at bay a little, comfort was found in great supply with lovely treats. Because life is too short not to indulge. And Indulge I did.

Then Mr H turned 40 and life MUST be celebrated, or what's the point of anything?

This was all followed by The Creep's biggest weapon, Winter.

With Winter the slow cooker comes out, the lovely casseroles and pies and lasagna and snuggling inside. Walks are shorter and fewer and getting out to pilates classes takes major effort. You turn around, look in the mirror and The Creep is out of control.

You put out your work clothes to be all organised in the morning, yet when the morning comes along, you can't even do up the zip on the work wear you had last winter. Frantically you grab another pair of old favourites and even those won't do up.

You have to admit to yourself, in a very little whisper, that The Creep is winning.

Two weeks post surgery recovery is like a gift to The Creep. But we all know evil prospers when good people do nothing, so I guess it's time to be a good person.

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.

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.

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?

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