Thursday, 23 December 2010

Some things I learned about myself in 2010

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1. In a life like mine, you have got to find time for the little things and bring joy into the chaos in small ways.

2. Even busy people can find time to read. I got stuck into reading this year and loved every minute of it. The best book I read in 2010 was probably 'The Slap' by Christos Tsiolkas, although 'Whitethorn' by Bryce Courtney, The Millenium series by Stieg Larsson and 'The Life of Pi' by Yann Martel are notable mentions.

3. I watch too much TV whilst eating M&Ms. Mad Men is without a doubt the best show on TV. Love, love, love it.

4. There is a reason people have those 'films I have seen' widgets in their sidebars. It is actually really hard to remember! I reckon Toy Story 3 was the best film I saw in 2010 (disclaimer: I am yet to see The Social Network, Animal Kingdom or the King's Speech, which I know I will love). Was the Hurt Locker out this year? That was a great film. I also really liked the Green Zone, Inception and Up.

5. It is good to have your email address on your blog. You never know who might want to contact you. CSaM if you are reading this, I cannot comment on your blog (there is a permanent error there) so I haven't been able to say 'hi'. So "Hi" and "Welcome".

6. I have gone beyond 'surviving'.

7. Being unkind to people is unforgivable.

8. You are never too old to be made feel like a 'naughty school girl'.

9. 37 year old women with 4 children can still dance the night away into the wee hours of the morn after too many bevvies with friends. I've still got it!

10. I am a crappy correspondent.

11. Salt-reduced foods also contain a lot less sugar than their salted counterparts.

I am leaving on a jet plane tomorrow morning for Fiji to spend Christmas and New Year there with my family. Squeee!!

I will be back in early January 2011 with more of And then there were four. Until then, you take care and find the joy :)

What did you learn about yourself this year?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Can't get enough of...

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As usual there has been an absolute glut of celebrity gossip in 2010. I have gotten to the stage where I am so out of it that I don't even know who most of the people in those girly mags are referring to anymore.

Like Kim Kardashian. Where did she come from? I mean she (and her family) are everywhere? But why? What makes her so special?

And that Bieber kid? Who is he? Why do we have to see so much of him about the place?

But what happened to the delightful Justin Timberland? Off the red carpet and out of the collective consciousness.

So in 2010, instead of trying to catch up on the past 6 years of goss (note the coincidence of timing? I have been gradually losing my grip on celebrity-dom since the kids made their arrival in my life. Funny that?), I fixated on a couple of people.

My first female favourite in 2010 is Nicole Ritchie (I know. I am surprised too!). From super scrag to super Mum, Nicole has really transformed her image. If she could just ditch the slightly loser-ish (now) husband, I reckon she would be on fire. She is cute. A little bit naughty. But seems to be 'keeping it real' in her designer-way. I dig her.

My other female favourite for the year is Christina Hendricks. What's not to like about that sassy red-head? She's sexy, shapely and terribly stylish. She's bringing back the curve in a major way and seems to have an effortless glamour about her. I like her voice, love her TV show and reckon she is rocking the celebrity world hard.

In the male world, I am love, love, loving Neil Patrick Harris. I always loved him as Doogie Howser and his character, Barney in How I met your mother, is one of the best on TV. The fact that he and his partner are having twins together this year has just brought us closer. A sweet gay Dad. Top NPH!

And my other male celebrity favourite this year is Leonardo Dicaprio. I feel like Leo and I have grown up together. Well he was in Growing Pains like, one of my favourite shows when I was growing up. Does that count? He lost me a bit with his "I'm the king of the world" stage, but this year I have seen maturity in his performances (Shutter Island, Inception) and because he doesn't look 12 any more I am totally loving him. His penchant for dating models is a bit meh, but otherwise I think Leo is sporting the goods these days.

And what about you? Who can't you get enough of in 2010?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Phoenix of the year... K-Rudd

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Poor old Kevin Rudd had himself a pretty crappy 2010. After his election in 2007 (who could forget the Kevin '07 campaign?), it seemed he would be unstoppable.

He started out the year as Australia's Prime Minister (PM), but the polls were beginning to reveal a slump in popularity. Maybe it was the 80 hour weeks he expected his staff to do? Maybe it was his reneging on the Emissions Trading Scheme? or the proposed Mining Tax? Maybe it was his smugness? Maybe it was because he spent more time out of the country than he did in it? Whatever it was, K-Rudd had done his dash.

On June 24th, K-Rudd stepped down from his role of party leader and PM after a leadership challenge. His nemesis deputy PM, Julia Gillard who is now Australia's PM, became the first Australian female PM (small yay!). Beaten by a rude-red. That must have hurt? K-Rudd was shuffled out of the cabinet and appeared to disappear for a little while. Yesterday's news. Sore ego. Sore loser. Over and out.

And then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, K-Rudd hit the news again during Labour's Federal Election campaign. He was articulate. All of a sudden he was front-runner for the Foreign Affairs Minister role (a role some say he was coverting the whole time). All of a sudden he was back in the Labour gang.

The boy from Nambour is now soaring. Zipping all over the world in his Foreign Ministerial portfolio. Having his way with the big players on the world stage (although the Wikileaks debacle may have taken the shine off his strong Chinese relationships). Representing Australia like a real pro.

We may not like him. But you have got to hand it to him. K-Rudd has done a full U-turn in 2010 and is king of the pops. He gets my phoenix of the year award.

Who would you nominate for Phoenix of the Year?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Newcomer of the year... Chile

Andes, Chile
Prior to 2010, my only memories of Chile hitting the news were 2001, when it banned asbestos importing/exporting and 2008, when Miss Chile took out the Miss World pageant!

But it has been a different story in 2010.

First there was the earthquake off the coast of the Maule Region on February 27th. It measured 8.8 on the MMS (the successor to the Richtor scale for those no in the know), lasted 90 seconds and killed 486 people.

Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed, 50% of the country was declared a 'disaster zone' and at least one prison riot ensued.

It is estimated to have cost the insurance industry 4-7 billion dollars. Humanitarian aid was plentiful from around the world, even though the Chilean government originally thought they didn't need it and, somehow, Chile survived (even the resultant Tsunamis).

And then, on August 5th, there was an accident at the San-Jose copper-gold mine near Copiapo bringing Chile into the limelight again.

A cave-in left 33 miners 700 metres underground for 69 days. While the accident may have highlighted some safety issues for the mining industry in Chile (and the rest of the world), the amazing rescue on October 13th left Chile the world leaders in mine rescue.

No-one could believe that all miners had survived. No-one could believe they managed to get the men out before their Christmas deadline. It was all smiles in Chile.

Here's hoping for a little less 'drama' in Chile in 2011.

What is your nomination for the most talked about country in 2010?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Happy birthday Doo Dah

The Doo Dah is 4 years old today.

From this...

To this...

With four years of laughter, frustration, sweetness, cleverness and pure cheekiness in between.

Happy days little mate.

I love you xx

Christmas tree in progress

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I wasn't really one for Christmas trees until we had our children. But the Geege and I agreed that we really can't be a "family" without a Christmas tree. So we got one, and have been putting it up diligently for the past 5 years now.

If I'd have had my way, we'd be using a living gum tree as our Christmas tree. We had one in a pot, ready to go, but my black thumbs resulted in a premature death before its first big gig in 2005, and that put a stop to that dream. We ended up with a faux-pine one that we can pack away in a box year after year. It goes alright.

We decorate our tree fairly sparcely (compared to others we know). I am not one for tinsel, so it has mostly been about the bauble. I did buy a little string of beads this year to wrap around the tree this year because it always looked so bare with just baubles. Something was missing, some would say, the tinsel!

After getting the general red and silver 'starter baubles' we have been buying one or two lovely ornaments a year to celebrate the milestones of the year. Mostly these have had a baby tone to them - "Baby's first Christmas" or a stork bringing a baby (usually blue)- but there have been other exciting events to celebrate in these years too (e.g. opening businesses, finishing Master's degrees).

Last year I splashed out and got "The twelve days of Christmas" ornaments, just 'cause, and we now have lords a- leaping, calling birds, french hens and of course a partridge in a pear tree all over the tree. They are cute and they help me remember the words to the song!

But my favourite ornaments are the ones that the children diligently made (at daycare) - a few of which feature their mug shots. Nugget is horrified that we don't have a 'real star' at the top, just a paper one that he made which is tied in place. It was the first thing he ever really cut out himself. How can I replace it?

Looking at it this year, it is starting to look like a 'real' tree I think. Slow and steady.

How do you go about your tree? Are you into tinsel? Who dresses the tree each year? Do you have a theme or does it just get slapped together?

To learn more about the history of the Christmas tree, check out this site. I found it really interesting!

I am linking into Twin Trials and Triumphs Ornament linky. Those American's do Christmas trees in a big way (hence no pictures of mine!)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Cough, splutter, choke

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I assessed swallowing for a living for about 10 years. I was a speech pathologist who worked in the hospital system and my specialty was dysphagia (swallowing problems).

When it comes to eating problems, I have seen it all. Chewing problems. Food that comes out the nose. Food that sits in the back of the mouth, unable to be cleared. Food that falls out the front of the mouth. Choking. Coughing. Swallows that are initiated so late that the food has already fallen into the lungs before the swallow is triggered.

I have palpated swallows, 'listened' to swallows through a stethoscope, x-rayed swallows and done endoscopic evaluations of swallows.

I have treated people who have tracheostomies, those who have had their larynxes removed, babies learning to breastfeed, dying patients and people with no tongues (glossectomies from cancer, usually).

I have fed people pureed food, minced food, soft food, hard foods, and chewy foods.

I have prescribed thickened fluids, water only or no fluids, depending on the needs of the patient.

I have withheld food because the person's swallow was not present and the only 'safe' way to feed them was through a tube.

One man died whilst I was present in his room before I even got to assess him. I always wondered about the person who referred this man to me. What were they thinking? But I was happy to be with the man when he died. The alternative was he die alone.

One woman choked when one of my rogue student's did not follow procedure and we had to perform the heimlich maneouvre.

All of this experience has meant that feeding my children has never raised a sweat for me. I don't mean the nutritional side of things (that has always been difficult), but the actual teaching them to eat bit. I have never feared when my toddler's have coughed or spluttered a bit whilst tackling their first lumps. I have never panicked when my children have gagged on their meat.

Last night whilst Dew Drop was munching on a corn chip (nachos) he managed to lodge the chip in the back of his throat. He went silent and then tried to cough it out but it was stuck. The Geege freaked out a bit but I crossed the room and calmly poked my finger to the back of his mouth in a sweeping action, dislodged the chip and gently bend Dew Drop forward so he could cough it out. No drama. No worries.

It is times like this that I am thankful for all those dysphagics I have treated, for they taught me a lot about the human swallow mechanism. There are few situations that would make me panic when it comes to choking. Experience breeds quick, sensible reactions that might just save a little person's life.

I am sure grateful for that.

Have you experienced any choking incidents with your kids? How did you manage?

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Wedding Bliss

The bride was stunning, wearing a flowing Lisa Ho and a simple hair style. A classic beauty, her arrival brought a collective inhalation from the crowd. Could anyone really be that effortlessly gorgeous?

The location was amazing. A park wedding followed by the reception at Icebergs Restaurant, Bondi (for those of you who are not from around here). A perfect Summer's day, made all the more so by a simply sensational backdrop. The setting sun. The lights of Bondi and stars in the sky reflected on the glistening water. It is the place of romance, and romance it did see.

Photo by GG

Our friend, the freakishly talented Jodi Martin played a brand new song (with Rusty on bass and GG as the human microphone stand). As always, she brought tears to my eyes with the clarity, texture and perfect tone of her voice. 
Photo by Paparazzi Pete

 We found ourselves unexpectedly in the orange corner...the ladies were colour co-ordinated. It is hard to pass the dominance of the orange shades at the shops at the moment and it seems we were all drawn to similar hues (that is me in the middle in case you don't recognise me in my finery with two of my favourite people).
Photo by GG

The men just looked tall and devilishly handsome (some matching going on there too). The gorgeous groom is on the far left (captured in an anxious movement before the bride arrived).

Fun and frivolity were had by all (to an '80s soundtrack) as we wittled away the night on the dancefloor, happily drunk and full of excitement and expressing our love for each other nearly as often as our happiness for the newly weds. You can't beat a slurred "I love yous" with your mates!  

A night to remember.

Joy and happiness always gorgeous people.

* Official wedding photos are 'borrowed' from Florent Vidal Photographe without permission but I am hoping I am not breaching copyright because I am not claiming they are mine?

** Paparazzi Pete is a dear friend of mine who loves to capture all of our events on film. We love her for it because, not only does she snap great photos, she is great at sharing them so that I can steal them from her Facebook account.

*** GG is another fantastic photography talent who I proudly call my friend. She is also unaware of my use of her photos but I am sure she will forgive me?

Monday, 13 December 2010

Parenting in risk averse times

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I have been thinking a lot about the Free Range Kid movement since Lenore Skenazy spruiked about it on her Australia tour earlier this year. While I am not really supportive of the name (way too 21st Century for me I think), I am definitely supportive of the concept. We have become over-protective and it can't be doing our children any good.

I agree that as parents we need to put safe risks back into our children's lives. If we don't our children's first exposure to risk will be in their adolescence and they will face these risks without any experience.

In my mind, it is better to expose our kids to risks whilst they are still under our protection and we are able to ensure the risks are 'safer'.

Controlling our children does not teach them to do the 'right' things. It teaches them to obey adults. When you guide children, they develop learned behaviour based on knowledge.

It seems to be about building resilience in children. Letting them solve their own problems. Teaching them to 'have a go'. Letting them learn to deal with disappointment. Giving them time. Encouraging them to practise. Giving them space. Giving them materials. And letting them be.

The five key concepts that come up in the literature about this are:

1. Set limits - these protect their health and safety e.g. We eat at the table (allowing for 'special occasion' variations) or couches are for sitting on, not jumping on.

2. Logical consequences - If they knock over the drink, it is an accident and should be treated as such. Try to use "when" statements e.g. When x is done we will go to the park rather than if x is done we will go to the park.

3. Provide choices - but make sure both of the choices are acceptable e.g. either put on your hat or stay in the shade. Acknowledge their feelings ("I understand that your hat makes your head hot"). Listen and validate their feelings.

4. Use positive communication - Always reinforce positive behaviour. The key ones in our household are:
  • Be gentle to your siblings
  • Stay close to me (instead of Don't run off)
  • Stop at the road
  • Walk around the puddle (instead of Don't walk through the puddle)
  • Walk inside (instead of Don't run)
  • Sit down while you are eating
Rehearse the rules children may forget like what do you have to do when Mum is on the telephone and tell me the shopping rules before we go inside the shops

5. Give acknowledgement instead of over-praising. Say thank you for specific behaviour (instead of 'you are such a good boy') as they may not know why they are good. Young children can get confused about sugary praise.

If you are interested in knowing more about this style of parenting, you can download a free e-book called "No Fear- Growing up in a risk averse society" by Tim Gill or visit the free-range kids website.

So. How free-range are you?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Grateful for... babysitters x2

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I am extremely grateful for the lovely Maxabella for babysitting the twins today so that the Geege and I can kick our heels up at our dear friend's wedding.
Grateful vibes also to my mother-in-law who has kindly taken Nugget and Doo Dah under her wing.

Can you guess who drew the short straw?

I hope you all get a little sleep. Smooch xx

Friday, 10 December 2010

The eyes have it

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I got contacted by an old friend to be "friends" on Facebook.

He was my boyfriend at the end of school. I use the world 'boyfriend' quite liberally here because it was only a couple of months between the HSC and my trip to Germany, but it was a really fun time. I was completely enamoured with him and thought he was the most attractive guy ever.

We played. Watched sunsets at the beach. Drank lots of alcohol. Laughed. And listened to music.

So after nearly 20 years, there has been contact.

I frantically languidly clicked over to the profile page to check out any available photos. What can I say? I was curious. Sadly, all of his pictures are private. So I only had his profile photo to look at.

I was surprised to discover that he is still a very handsome man. He has these gorgeous eyes, you see, and no matter how much older his face has become (not really that much it seems), his eyes are still the same. Blue. Clear. I used to get lost in those eyes.

I am not accepting his friend request. He is probably a boring old office worker with four kids just like me. I prefer the memories of us as young and foolish and learning about love and other stuff.

So I took one last look at those amazing eyes of his and passed up the opportunity to re-enter his life.

Some things are best left in the past methinks.

Are you friends with any of your ex-es on Facebook? How does that go for you?

Mummy from the Heart is hosting the Multiples Mayhem carnival, so if you are into the world of multiples, click over and check it out. You might find a familiar face in the crowd :)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Oprah does The Sound of Music

This is a picture of the glorious Mondsee
Did you catch Oprah's interview with The Sound of Music cast?

God I love that movie. So many great songs, the voice of Julie Andrews and the countryside... sensational. 45 years on, I think it would still make a lot of people's favourite movie lists.

It was cute to hear a few of the stories from behind the scenes.

I always doubted that Leisel was "16 going on 17" (she said she was 21 at the time of filming) but I think that was probably my favourite song from the movie.

Christopher Plummer was so busily drinking in Austria that he had to have his costumes taken out! And one of the boys grew 6 inches during the 6 months of filming so they had to put Liesel on a box in lots of the scenes so that she remained taller than him. And two of the girls lost their front teeth. And Gretel couldn't swim so was scared senseless during the falling out of the boat scene.

Apparently "Favourite things" was the first scene that they shot.
Apparently the seven von Trapp kids are putting out a book next year.

I spent a couple of weeks in The Sound of Music territory whilst an Exchange Student in Germany. One of my host families took me on holidays to Mondsee (where the church Maria and The Captain married is) and when I wasn't busily lazing around the gorgeous lake, going to the Salzbuger Festspiele (where I had the pleasure of seeing The Magic Flute opera) I was exploring the countryside looking for Eidelweiss (not realising that it is a protected plant).

And yes, I did my own version of "The Hills are Alive". It is an incredibly beautiful part of the world. Breathtaking. Lush.

Oprah is a pretty cool chick (welcome to Australia!) and I loved the skip down memory lane I had on Tuesday night whilst watching her show.

Are you into The Sound of Music? What is your favourite scene?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

100 books to read before you die?

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This is bound to bore the pants off some of you, but because I love books and because Tat from Mum in Search put up her list and I wanted to be able to keep a copy and work my way through some of the books on it (it is my NYR after all), here is a list of the BBC top 100 books.

The instructions are to bold all books you have read and italicise the ones you’ve started but haven’t finished.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I have sure read a few of his works, but all of it? Has anyone?)

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (double points because I read it in German?)

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez (In spanish!)

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (Not 100% sure I have read them all but have definitely covered a few)

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

32 down, 68 to go (although some of the Sci-Fi's I won't be rushing to read).

I must confess that I read some of them at school and I can’t remember a thing other than the title. Hence, the scarce commentary along the way. But a few I am still re-reading today (e.g Memoirs of a Geisha as we speak).

How many have you read? What would you recommend I tackle next?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Plans for 2011

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I am starting to plan my New Year's Resolutions (NYR) a bit early this year. Most of the time I have these grand plans to crank out 3 NSRs on the gong of midnight on Jan 1 but invariably this never happens. And then I feel a bit like I have missed the start of the race, so no NYRs come to fruition.

There's nothing amazing on my list. And nothing to do with being a parent. It is all about me as a person.

In 2011, I am going to learn to touch-type properly. I am a bit of a hack at the moment (not a two finger typist or anything) and my hands get tired when I have been typing all day long. Which I seem to do a lot in my current job role. So that is my number one hope for 2011.

I am also going to run the Mother's Day Classic (10km).

And I will have at least one full weekend to myself.

I will also read my way through 2 books per month.

Other than that I am anyone's.

Do you have goals for 2011?

Monday, 6 December 2010

The bombsite

This is not my place!
I am not much of a housewife. I confess that I am rather appalling. When I mentioned the word 'clean' yesterday, my daughter piped up "K" (the name of our over-worked fortnightly, life-saving cleaner). Like she's never seen me do it or something. It was a sobering moment in parenting.

I claim that it is the repetitiveness of it that kills me. I claim that it is the relentlessness that puts me off. I claim that it is the thanklessness of it that prevents me from learning to love it.

I do the bare essentials; as infrequently as possible.

When I am out of the house for the day and get home and there are literally toys strewn everywhere, dishes piled up, washing folded the night before still in neat little piles waiting to be put away, children's pyjamas still sitting in the pile they were discarded in when they got dressed in the morning, it makes me realise that I do actually have an impact on the daily life around here.

I am bad at it, but I still make a difference.

That is reassuring in its own way.

What are you like as a housewife? Any kindred spirits out there?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Theory of anxiety disorders

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Have you noticed the incidence of anxiety disorders seems to have increased? Is it that more people are anxious? Or are more people getting help with their anxiety?

A friend of mine has had trouble with anxiety for a little over a year. It comes and goes a bit but she takes medication and struggles with that. It seems she would like to be drug-free, but when she tries to reduce the dose, the anxiety creeps back in.

I reckon anti-anxiety meds are just like meds for any other physical ailment. If you need them to titrate your body back to 'normal', you need them. Mental health conditions just seem to have a stigma attached (even to the sufferer) and when you say you are taking anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-whatever-the-condition-you-suffer, there is a perceived 'weakness'. It doesn't come from me, but it is there I think.

My friend's theory about why anxiety is on the increase is that with the rapid change that we have to deal with day-to-day now and over the past century, evolution is struggling to keep up. People whose hereditary lines have already hit overload, tend to cope better now. Thanks to their gene-pool their brains have adjusted their chemical balance.

In other cases, their ancestors haven't handed on the essential skills in coping and as such, they lack the appropriate amounts of serotonin and other happy hormones. These people are showing the cracks in today's crazy world.

I like her thinking (I am calling it the Nachbaren Theory of Anxiety). I'd like to explore it more because it seems like it could explain the increased prevalence of anxiety disorders better than the "Keeping up with the Jones'' theory you often hear bandied about the place. Whether you agree with the Nachbaren Theory or not, it is an interesting way at looking at things don't you think?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

It is beginning to feel a bit like Christmas

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Usually I am all about Scrooge at this time of year. Bah Humbug and all that.

But I am actually a little bit excited already.

Maybe it is the planned trip to Fiji with the fam, my in-laws and s-i-l and kids? (It has to help I know).

Maybe it is the fact that Nugget and Doo Dah are getting older and more into the Christmas spirit?

Maybe it is because I took my own advice and have barred all things "Christmas catch-up" this year and have deferred seeing some people until the new year? What's a few weeks?

Whatever it is, I am liking it.

We kicked off December with the unveiling of the Advent calendars yesterday morning. This year I just bought some from Aldi but I usually do a home made one for each of the kids. The kids are loving the hit of chocolate circa 7am.

Last night we broke open the money-box we have been saving change in for the year, counted the loot and Doo Dah and I are heading off to the shops tonight to get a present for Nugget and the Minx. Next week, Nugget and I will buy for Doo Dah and Dew Drop. They are so excited and have been glued to the toy catalogues for weeks in preparation. Maybe that is why Nugget still can't sleep?

Doo Dah, the twins and I went to the shops this morning (brave I know) to get some final decorations for the Christmas tree as well as some essential groceries. We are tackling the tree erection tomorrow night once the Geege is home from work.

There's a whole lot of Chrismassy goodness going on at our place. What have you been up to?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I didn't mean to eavesdrop but they were talking about paedophiles

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I overheard a conversation today. I didn't *mean* to eavesdrop but the topic was so interesting that I couldn't help myself.

The women were discussing their habits in relation to leaving their children in the care of others.

They were all very particular about who could look after their kids (fair enough), but the conversation was very much centred on the gender of the carer.

They were debating the 'safety issues' of allowing their children to be babysat by men. And leaving their children in the care of men who work in childcare centres. Each had examples of their children being left alone with men. Each reported feeling incredibly uncomfortable with the situations they found their children in.

I can honestly say I have never considered this. That male babysitters or childcare workers *could* pose a greater threat to my children. I mean, I have certainly gently warned my children about talking to strangers and keeping their clothes on in public, but I haven't ever been concerned if my friend's husbands have taken on the 'minding' duties if their wife had to step out. Should I be more concerned or is it reasonable to assume that my friend's are married to 'good men'?

The conversation took another turn when they discussed overseas childcare centres. One woman reported that she had read an article about children who had contracted STIs whilst in the care of a 'Kid's Club' in a resort overseas. My ears pricked up. The very thought of that makes me feel sick to the stomach. Those poor children.

I hadn't even considered that these facilities are not governed by the same rules and regulations that ours are in Australia. Will my kids be at risk on our trip to Fiji if we use the Kids Club?

I am of two minds (surprise, surprise!). Half of me thinks I am very happy that my first thoughts about humanity are good. All men are not paedophiles. Why should they all be tarred with the same brush?

But my other half thinks that I would absolutely hate to put my children in a situation that turns out to be less than ideal. I can only imagine how horrendous the parents of those children with their STIs feel, both for themselves and their precious children.

So what are your thoughts? Do you treat all men as 'paedophiles' unless proven innocent*? If you are a man (I know there are a couple of you who read this blog), what are your thoughts on this kind of thinking?

* I am quoting one of the women from the conversation (that particular remark made me gag a little).
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