27 June 2011

Determining your child's relationship with money.

IMAGINE this. A child walks up to the counter of a toy store, mum in tow, to ask the price of his chosen item. The shop attendant replies $24.95. The child's face drops, he swings around to his mum and says, "But I've only got $20." Never fear, supermum to the rescue, she contributes the extra and tells her son, "You can pay me back." What is the lesson this child is learning about money?

This scene happens daily in stores across Australia, and no doubt the rest of the Western world also. While it seems simple and harmless enough, it may be setting your child up for a bad relationship with money.

Another similar scene in stores that cater for children goes like this: child wants to buy item they like.  The parent suggests the child to resist the purchase and instead save their money so they can afford a better, more expensive item. Child declines. Parent pleads with child to not buy item/s but to save up for bigger, better item. Child declines. Parent then tells child they are not spending their money today, they will instead save it for a bigger, better item. Whinging, whining, crying, screaming ensues. Then either:
a) parent buys item/s for child so child can save their money or 
b) child leaves with parent only to return and purchase original item/s or 
c) child buys item  but parent continues to tell child they  made the wrong choice and should have saved for a bigger, better item. 
What do  these scenarios teaches a child about money? 

When I was a child we were broke. So broke we couldn't afford a car. Instead my dad would ride a bike to the supermarket and complete multiple trips to get all the goods home. His carrying capacity was limited to  filling a  basket on the front of the bike and milk carton on the back. 

As a child I remember mum would get incredibly excited on pay day. Dad would get home with a little yellow envelope and hand it to mum, who would then pull out her "bills" book. She would put aside whatever money needed to go towards due (or overdue) bills, put aside some money for the groceries, and the either: 
1. Do a little dance and sing a song because there were leftovers to spend (waste)
2. Yell at dad for not earning enough (if the bills amounted to more than dad's pay). Then cry.
Option 2 was the most common. Option 1 only happened around tax return time.

What did this teach me about money? Until just a few years ago, on pay day I would pay any bills due immediately and then go to an ATM and withdraw the rest. I would then put aside my share of the shopping budget and then spend the rest. If I didn't have enough money to cover bills AND waste on luxuries, I would get angry at myself for not earning enough. Sound familiar?

So if you "chip in the rest" for a purchase your child can't afford, stop to consider what you may be setting yourself and your child up for: your child lending money from you (frequently) or your child racking up debts by buying things he/she cannot afford. 

As for making your child save for something bigger and better? There is definitely merit in this, but pre-planning will ensure success. Throwing the idea at them on the day they have chosen something else (especially if they are in the store holding it) is not great planning. Also, if your children see you saving for bigger, better things then they may be more likely to copy. Don't preach to them a "do as I say not as I do." 

Four quick tips for teaching your child about money (adapted from a money-savvy eight year old):
1. Buy only when they have enough money.
Don't chip in on the spot - make them save for it. 
2. To help them save for the fun things they really want, make sure they can see the money.
Let them save the money in cash or write their balance on a whiteboard or piece of paper on the fridge. Make sure it is something THEY want or else they will have no real desire to save.
3. If they need more money, find a way for them to earn it.
Of course it is age dependant what they can do for more money but naturally they should not receive money for things they should do, like "brushing their teeth" or "eating their greens." If you pay them for doing these sorts of things, what motivation do they have to do them without pay?
4. Find ways to have fun without spending money.
Yes money is great and brings convenience but it is not everything.

What lessons about money are your children learning from you?

24 June 2011

My next fancy dress party theme: Hipster

WHEN something is said to have jumped the shark, it means it has declined in quality beyond recovery - something (or someone) has reached their peak and are now heading downhill. Just because we love using the phrase so much, each week Word Chic will detail a situation/object/tv show/idea/etc that we believe has jumped the shark (JTS). Introducing week one's JTS topic: Hipsters.

hipster, n. (slang)

1. A person who markets a facade of originality for social standing, when in fact they are not original; attention seeking and fake.

2. People who, despite following the hipster style trends, music, and culture, deny being a hipster.

Synonym: pretentious

Once upon a time you could count on one hand the amount of hipsters you knew (or would see one out and about). Except, they weren't always called hipsters. In fact, I can't for the life of me put my finger on a past name for hipsters.

Once upon a time a "hipster" was someone who dressed eclectically - fashioned from finds at Vinnies, Salvos and the like. They listened to music you had never heard of and kept to their own little crew because that is who understood them.  Now, hipsters are a farce.

Once upon a time I envied hipsters. I tried to find similar clothes in op-shops, to no avail. I never "got" their music. I wasn't "ironic" in the right sort of way. I was a hipster wannabe - the people hipsters hate. 

There is no fear of abuse from hipsters about arguing they have jumped the shark because no hipsters read this blog. This blog isn't cool enough for hipsters. This blog is not ironic. Most of the postings are mainstream. Photos uploaded are not taken on old school Polaroids or the like.

So why have hipsters jumped the shark?
- Hipsters are meant to be dressed originally, in their own unique fashion. Instead, hipsters are carbon copies of each other.Their clothes are now mainly purchased through chain stores (like the rest of us!) not vintage stores.

- Hipsters want to convey the perception that they  put absolutely zero effort into their respective scenes, that they are just naturally quirky like that. And everybody already fucking knows that all hipsters do is obsess over how to pull their scene. They fail at everything else — like working — because they spend all their time hunting for mustache wax and authentic leg warmers.

- When people hold a theme party in your style, you have jumped the shark (hipster themed parties are all the rage on the States I have been told)

- Children think dressing like hipsters is cool (I gathered this information from a very reliable source - my nieces), especially the glasses

- Comedians LOVE to mock hipsters. My favourite is the Bedroom Philosopher's song Northcote (So  Hungover) below.

- Hipsters will hate something just because you like it. Hipsters are the type of people who immediately hate Triple J's Hottest 100 because it's "so commercialised and mainstream."Popular things are popular for a reason. Trying to be "progressive" but really just being a anti- establishment tool is not cool.

If you are not convinced that hipsters have jumped the shark then I leave you with this Honda Jazz ad.

Just like hippies, emos and goths before them, hipsters have jumped the shark - they have declined in quality (are no longer original, quirky, enviable and cool), and are heading downhill.

Do you agree hipsters have jumped the shark?

23 June 2011

Your Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak,
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone,

from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth,
and spoke the following date with tears.
But he said what mattered most of all,

was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth;
and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we won; the cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard, 
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, 

that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more;
and love the people in our lives like we've never done before.

If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile.
Remembering that this special dash might only last a while.

So, when your eulogy's being read,
with your life's actions to rehash;
would you be proud of the things they said,

about how you spent your dash? 

By Linda Ellis

20 June 2011

Your choice or already chosen?

LATELY I’ve been doubting the existence of “destiny” or “fate.” While I’m not religious (much to my parents dismay) I still always felt there has to be more to life than just plodding along for the sake of it and hoping for the best. So the idea that my destiny/fate was pre-ordained gave me great solace, and has left me without any real life regrets.
Crappy day at work – must be for a reason.
Flat tyre on the highway – valuable lesson learnt.
Overspending on  outfit then starving the rest of the week – not my fault, it was destiny!
Lately though I’ve have some obstacles smash me in the face, with no resolution or lesson to be found or learnt. Just smash after crash after bump. Then I found out some news that, although upsetting, made me smile a little (more about this later).
Destiny is defined as a predetermined, inevitable and unchangeable course of events. Destiny is the path paved for you through life whereas fate is the end result, the finality of the destiny path. The problem many people have with destiny (and fate) is that it seems you must accept the notion that freewill is an illusion. This never worried me. As far as I was concerned, it felt like my decisions were based on freewill, so who cares if the answer was predetermined anyway?  
So how much do people believe in or rely on destiny in their lives? 

Does a belief in destiny and fate also require a belief in karma or the notion of soul mates?

Believers in destiny/fate are those most likely to have had the Reason, Season, Lifetime poem strike a chord with them (which I wrote about here). Are they also the same people who go to see psychics? 
When a psychic tells you whats in the future, it must be because it is already set, surely? Otherwise how would they know? Or is it that psychics tell you about a path and you then ensure you pave and follow that path, therefore making the psychics observations accurate and real? Anyone who has been to a good psychic knows the answer to this.  But is seeing a psychic cheating on destiny? Or is it just that psychics are the new psychologists?

While I've been struggling with the mountain of s&%^ life has thrown at me, my first instinct was to go and see a psychic. Why? So they could speak their wisdom and shed some light (and hope) on the current situations and the future. I didn't (only because the best psychic I know of has a six week waiting list). I imagine many people go to see psychics for the same reason, when they are in similar predicaments.
Whatever your belief, as mentioned above something happened recently that refreshed my belief a little.  Just as I was giving up hope, hating the world and wanting to hide under my doona forever, I received the news that made me express a little smile.  Earlier this year I applied for a writing position within a major media outlet. It was for a new project they thought would be revolutionary and highly profitable. I didn't get the job,, but more importantly after just a few months the project was exposed to be neither revolutionary nor profitable so it was cancelled.  Seems it was not within my destiny to be stuffed around in a position that would not last. Faith renewed, at least enough so I can focus my energy on dealing with life;s s%$# a little more clearer and easier. If I am just living out my destiny, then I will come out the other side stronger. 

Do you believe in destiny and/or fate?

14 June 2011

Do you have a bucket list?

NOT so long ago, bucket lists were all the rage with people of all ages. By "all the rage" I mean topic of conversation. Circa 2007 who wasn't discussing bucket lists with their nearest and dearest? 

I know of one girl who spent relentless hours researching must dos, must sees and bucket lists in order to compile her own. She researched at home, at work, and by speaking to family, friends and strangers. She even dusted off her primary school diaries to see if there were any ideas of substance hidden within. She complied 26 things and decided she would complete them all by the end of the year. By December, she had completed half, but was happy enough with the outcome. That was three years ago and as you may have guessed, that girl was me.

For those who are unawares, a bucket list is traditionally a list of things you wish to do or see before you kick the bucket (die). However people often tweak the concept to suit their needs eg. travel bucket list or my one year bucket list. 

Compiling a bucket list is very inspiring. Completing some of the activities on the list unfortunately are not. The problem with bucket lists is that sometimes the items on the list just aren't as feasible as hoped, or aren't anywhere near as empowering, special, awe inspiring, or fun as expected. For example, gambling in Vegas is sadly no better than gambling in Brisbane - it still hurts to lose it all on red. Learning another language is fruitless when foreign locals reply to your question in English, not the language you painstakingly studied. And I'm told visiting the Eiffel Tower is sadly unromantic for many, due to being harassed by beggars, waiting hours for entry (because you didn't prebook) and being surrounded by hoards of other tourists when you FINALLY get to the upper levels. 

The worst possible outcome of writing a bucket list is the possibility that you may become upset about all the things you have wanted to do since forever and sadly still have not. 

So what if you haven't traveled yet, or written that novel, or rode a horse, or volunteered? You are not dead yet. And therein lies one of the greatest joys of the bucket list - realizing it is not too late and giving your life some (or some more) direction.

The best thing about a bucket list though is that even if you complete just one item on the list, haven't you won? If you hadn't done the list in the first place there is the chance you may not have finally got your butt into gear and given it a go. Or, while compiling your list, you might uncover a deep seated dream or desire you didn't even realize you had, which may in turn push your life into a whole new direction.

Worst case scenario, in writing a bucket list you get to dream, and who doesn't love to dream? I think it's time I try to compile a new one so I'm off to start thinking. Dreaming. Wishing. Hoping. Praying, even. 

What are your thoughts on compiling a "bucket list"?

28 May 2011

The silent competition of the children's birthday cake

YOU don’t have to speak to many mothers to realise that motherhood is a competitive sport. Whether it be whose munchkin walks first, says the cutest phrase, gets the best grades at school or scores the most goals in their chosen sport, war is waged from birth. Never has the extremities of the competition been more obvious than children’s birthdays.   
I was thrown some pretty spectacular birthdays as a kid. I also endured some very lame chicken dinners and Woolies sponge cake birthdays too. But there were presents, and a token friend or two either way so I loved each celebration. I know of kids who are yet to experience a lame birthday and that’s fine – I’m not judging – I’m just pondering the stress parents go through in the competition, mainly the birthday cake.
Arguably the most competitive part of the birthday party is the cake. While I am sure there are still Woolies sponges with mock cream making appearances at birthday parties, fancy schmancy designer cakes or cupcakes are gaining popularity.
The following picture was bought into the child’s kindergarten for all to share. Normally parents take simple cakes or cupcakes into kindy/prep/school and reserve the best cake for the real party or birthday (so I am told). If this is true for this kid, imagine the cake on the big day!   
I read a story recently about how in one family, a month before each child's birthday, the birthday child got to flick through The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book and choose the birthday cake they wanted their mum to bake. Little did they know but their mum had glued some pages together, leaving only the cakes she believed she could have success with. While the mother recalls how some cakes she attempted were embarrassing to produce as they just did not work out, all the children remember is how every year they had an awesome cake thanks to their loving mum. Awww...
Some people just don't have the baking prowess to successfully produce an awesome themed cake. I wonder how the mum felt who produced the "shark" cake below? A decent effort I think, and I'm sure the child loved it but... well...And herein lies the truth behind the competition. We can't help but judge!

Then there are other mothers that could make even the most complex cake look easy, telling only their nearest and dearest friends or family of the ordeal they faced to be able to produce ANYTHING in time. Note: I say mothers because I am yet to meet (or hear about) a father who baked an extravagant birthday cake for there child. I am sure there are dads  out there that have and/or will but again, I do not personally know of any. But just to prove there are men who do the cake baking, check out this Angry Birds cake - it is epic!

Having no children myself, I have never had the stress of attempting to bake the perfect themed birthday cake. However, I have a niece in love with Paris (and all things Parisienne) so I am contemplating baking her the following. It will be easy, right? Fun maybe? Bring on the stress!

Have you fallen victim to the birthday cake competition?

Unsupervised children - coming of age or crime?

JUST a few months ago a friend posted a status on Facebook asking if it was appropriate for an 11 year old to be unsupervised at a shopping centre. The answer, from both parents and childless people alike was a resounding no.
The friend posted the question looking for support after she said no to her daughters request to go to the shops with a classmate (the classmate is regularly allowed to go out unsupervised). What no one commented however was that leaving a child under the age of 12 unsupervised is a crime in Queensland. Perhaps no one knew (I sure didn’t).
Yesterday a Sunshine Coast mother was given 12 months probation for leaving her daughter and her daughter’s friend unsupervised at the Ekka (Royal Queensland Show) while she got drunk at the Cattleman’s bar. The children were left unsupervised for just under an hour before the Ekka Police Beat became aware of the situation.
The mother argued that the girls were equipped with a mobile phone and therefore not in harm’s way.
The mother’s barrister James Benjamin, argued, "My client has no criminal history whatsoever (and this behaviour) is totally out of character.''
Really? Who would decide to leave their child unsupervised for the very first time at the Ekka of all places?
It did come to light, however, that had the daughter’s friend been 12 at the time of the incident, no charges would have been laid. It seems a 12 year old can supervise younger children?
Now of course everyone, at every age, has a different maturity level to others their same age. Surely though any child of primary school age is too young to wander the streets, the shops, or any public arena alone? Or was the Ekka women’s actions only prosecuted because she left the children unattended while she drank?
What is the youngest suitable age to leave children unsupervised?

27 May 2011

When fashion gets freaky...or does it?

YOU know that feeling where something you look at and believe to be ridiculous starts to grow on you? Suddenly you find yourself wanting said item, and either:
1.  Regretting having previously announced your disdain for said item or
2. Extremely glad your negative thoughts were only in your head so you can now buy said item without anyone questioning you.

I'm wondering if that will happen to fashionistas the world over in regard to these round, red, Where's Waldo/Wally inspired glasses I will from here on refer to as Waldo glasses.

First Mischa Barton was sporting them at Nice and Heathrow airports on her way home from Cannes Film Festival. Then actress Elle Fanning (Dakota Fanning's little sister) was snapped sporting a pair days later. The important thing here is that they are clearly NOT the same pair...so there is more than one designer releasing these comically designed glasses.

Is this all a big joke or the next big thing in eyewear?

Before passing your judgement, let's have a moment of honesty here. Who doesn't know someone who owned a pair of shutter shades? They might claim to have bought them as a joke but, really, maybe they just fell in love with them and couldn't admit it because they had previously joked about them? Come on now people, fess up - did you indulge in shutter shades?
For those of you who are starting to fall for the Waldo glasses, you can buy many similar types on eBay. The Wordchic pick of the bunch - these Lady Gag inspired set (you could snap the shades off to channel your inner Waldo):
See, they really are a red version of Gaga's!

So what are your thoughts on Waldo glasses?
(For the record, I think they are ridiculous. Wait, did I say that out loud? Because I'm kind of starting to maybe wonder if anyone knows where I might be able to get a pair...)

25 May 2011

Origin, geeks and plankers? What a day!

THERE sure are a lot of things to celebrate or get into today. Not only is today the first State of Origin match for 2011, it is also International Geek Pride Day. Ooh and allegedly International Planking Day too.
State of Origin

While tempted to simply write QUEENSLANDER repeatedly for this part of the story, I will refrain, as there are far more interesting things to discuss (first).
If there was a prize for State of Origin supporter of the Year, the Queensland Police Service would win hands down. Not only have they changed their logo today so that it is maroon, but they have unveiled a special maroon vehicle, complete with the infamous cane toad on the bonnet. The car will be at public events in the weeks between the first and last State of Origin games before the bonnet is signed by all Q origin players then removed and sold at a charity auction by the Royal Children's Hospital Foundation.
The vehicle is collaboration between the Queensland Police and the Queensland Rugby League to celebrate the spirit of Queensland, and lend a helping hand to young Queenslanders affected by serious illness.
And what have the New South Wales Police done? Nothing. Ahh the fighting spirit of Queenslanders, impacting our Government departments. Love it! God help Queensland though if we don’t win. We don’t know how to deal with failure.
Whatever the outcome tonight, one thing is for certain – there will be some sore, sore losers, licking their wounds while scoffing “Wait ‘til Game Two” and “It’s not over yet!”
QUEENSLANDER!!!! (Couldn’t help myself).

Geek Pride Day
The idea behind Geek Pride Day is that geeks can publicly boast about their geekiness today without being labelled as weird. The day started in 2006 in Spain when 300 geeks showed their pride by creating a human "Pac-Man" game. May 25th also happens to be  the release date of the first Star Wars movie (in 1977).
But the day could not be without some controversy – not all geeks are happy about the date, especially the book loving type. Seems some geeks celebrate Towel Day on May 25th each year and want Geek Pride Day moved to another date.
And what is Towel Day, I hear you ask? The day was created by fans of Douglas Adams in 2001 as a tribute after his death. Adams wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the idea for towel day is for people to carry a towel to demonstrate their love for the books (and Adams).
So carry a towel AND get ya’ geek on – win win!

International Planking Day
Personally I think the planking community rushed this and therefore ruined it. Where was the build up? The plan? Seriously plankers, you could have rocked this day, if only someone gave a damn about event planning and management. Will there be media coverage about it being International Planking Day? Not unless someone hurts themselves again. You let me down, plankers. You let me down.

Are you celebrating anything else today?

23 May 2011

Noosa now a bogan playground?

ACCORDING to locals, unless you drive an Audi, BMW, Mercedes or something as equally luxurious and expensive, stay out of Noosa.  Apparently boutique shop owners and restaurateurs along Hastings Street, and equally snobbish locals of the region, are fed up with the influx of budget travellers turning Noosa into bogansville. Only in Noosa could retailers be picky about who walks their streets and may (or may not) bring money into the local economy.
These “bogan” visitors are outraging the retail and restaurant owners by bringing a packed lunch and shopping in the chain stores and surf stores that are apparently opening up in droves. How dare they refuse to pay $8 for a small coffee or $25 for a club sandwich? Why are they buying $60 Billabong boardies and not $200 slacks?

One shop owner told the Courier Mail she was "sick to the eye teeth" [sic] of the cheap chain stores lowering the precinct's status. Has Noosa forgotten that society in general is struggling to afford their day to day bills let alone a holiday? And that the Sunshine Coast is struggling for tourists? Should they not be glad that people are gracing their area, contributing to the local economy through their accommodation payments at the very least?

Is Noosa not supposed to be a family friendly holiday destination? Sorry Hastings Street but you happen to be situated on one of the nicest family friendly beaches around. Just because someone is not rich and/or famous does not mean they should not be allowed to grace the shores of this wonderful area.
The problem with Noosa is (and has always been) the snobbery. No one should feel like they have to wear makeup to the beach but when the prospect of a day trip to Noosa comes up, this is how one normally feels.

Just because someone is not lax with their money does not a bogan make. Just because someone is wearing boardies and thongs does not mean they are bogans – they may very well be wealthy but dressed in suitable attire for the beach. Who goes to Noosa to shop anyway?
So what can we do about this? While some would argue that Noosa should hereby be boycotted, there may be an even better alternative. If Noosa snobs think they are being invaded by bogans, let’s make sure they are. This weekend grab your thongs, your esky, a packed lunch and drinks and let’s go take over Hastings Street for real, “bogan” style.

Would you be classed as a bogan if you visited Noosa?

20 May 2011

Walk to School Day 2011 - success or farce?

In case it is not 100% clear, the blue 4WD is parked next to parked cars illegally, with the champagne car deciding to do the same.
This is on a Friday afternoon school run at a local primary school.

TODAY is national Walk to School Day and, as the name suggests, the idea is for parents to get their primary school aged children outside to get some fresh air, get some exercise and walk to school. Did your kids walk to school today? Or for those childless folk like me, did you encounter a flood of walkers this morning in your travels?
The Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) started Walk to School Day twelve years ago to help promotes the message "active kids are healthy kids" and asks parents to walk all or part of the way to school with their children to start healthy habits from a young age. Some of the functions the PCA is concerned with are the continual improvement of pedestrian safety, amenity and access, and the promotion of walking as a legitimate transport mode and an important, healthy, social activity.
In the later years of primary school I rode my bike to school and in high school I walked so the idea that there needs to be an advertised “walk to school” day seems sad to me – but also a sign of the times (we are all so time poor and reliant on our cars now). Then again my family didn’t own a car so really there was no alternative for me.  
There are of course many different circumstances preventing children from walking or riding to school regularly. However Deakin University found that less than half of all primary school children who live within 15 minutes of their school actually walk to school. They also found that 75% of those kids who are driven to school WANT to walk to school. Hmmm...
Walk to school day makes me ponder two things. One – the dire parking situation at schools. Two – why are teenagers exempt from this day?

Parking at schools

I have done the school run (drop off and pick up) a few times recently with my sister for my two nieces. While the mornings are busy, the afternoons are absolutely ridiculous. “Wow” and a head shake in disbelief, is really the only way to describe the influx of cars, parking or stopping illegally, causing a litany of various traffic hazards. No doubt some of these parents who drive their kids to school and pick them up would claim to do so for the child’s safety – then park 3 cars deep over a two laned road.
Recently an article in the Sunshine Coast Daily argued that schools need more parking as the current situation is dangerous.
The parking problems listed are no doubt apparent at most schools (especially primary schools) around Australia:
-      limited parking spaces for parents dropping off or picking up their kids
-      drivers stopping in no-parking areas
-      drivers staying too long in the drop-off zone

Naturally, debate raged amongst readers, although most comments seemed to be in favour of parents not driving their children (a feat easier said than done perhaps). However one reader argued that it is not safe to let your kids walk or ride to school because of the “amount of paedophiles” around, and quoted the Daniel Morcombe case as an example. The reader also quoted “crazy drivers” as a risk to their child’s safety (ironic perhaps, my opinion is above). One thing is for certain here – a life lived in fear is not a life lived. Statistically a child is more likely to be in a car accident, with a family member driving then have an encounter with stranger danger.


As mentioned above, Walk to School ay is directed at children to encourage a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits at a young age. Still, shouldn’t it be open to all school age children including teenagers? Is it ever to late to foster healthy habits? Or are teenagers left out under the assumption that they are more likely to walk to school?
On my morning walk I have been privy to some interesting behaviour. I witness cars banked up at the bus stop for both pick up and drop off. Now I don’t know how far these cars are travelling to and from said bus stop – they may in fact be too far away for the child to walk.  However I have even witnessed one parent drive their two children up their street (which is a steep incline), drop the kids at the top, then do a U-turn and head back home. While I acknowledge the street is steep, and would be a pain to walk up every day, what lesson is this teaching these children? The street would not be 100 metres in total, so even though it is steep, it is not a mammoth walk.

What are your thoughts on Walk to School Day?

11 May 2011

What legacy will my 20s leave behind?

What was that Madge? I needn't worry about ageing, as long as I can afford plastic surgery? Cool! 
NOT sure whether to be filled with great fear or great solace, it seems women find their stride in their thirties. No matter who the female, or what profession they undertake, I keep reading this notion. It is normally accompanied with some sort of description of how their (the female in question) life in their twenties was wild and fun, or tumultuous and scary, or out of control or lazy. This helps, to some degree – the idea that your twenties don’t really bare all that much importance to your future. It seems the twenties are just a stepping stone (albeit long). Are your twenties the period that allows you to make your way to the path you are destined for? If so, I’ll be glad to put this boring, stressful, seemingly pointless era behind me.
Women always seem to mention “beauty” as an important aspect of their twenties also – which also causes me great reservations about the future.  If this is me at my most beautiful, God help me. But I guess I can take comfort in the fact that beauty won’t matter too much in the future (unless you believe thirties are the new twenties and forties are the news thirties, etc, etc). Or, to be more accurate, I will have a lot more to offer than just appearance, and take price in the fact.
I wonder if, when my twenties are long passed,  I will still feel like they were the years where the weight of the world sat on my shoulders; and no matter how much time or effort I put into lifting said weight, I simply could not? Ah, as the adage goes, only time will tell.
(I might need to have words with my worry doll tonight)

06 May 2011

Wearing a bra but still playing with Barbie

THE adultisation* or sexualisation of children is not a new talking point in the media. Sexy ads, raunchy video clips, children’s beauty products and clothing have all copped flack in the past.  The one that always riles me up, however, is children’s padded bras. Yes, padded. Yes, I am serious!
A friend of the family, aged 12, was sporting a padded bra recently. Feeling uncomfortable asking her myself, I asked a family member if my suspicions were correct and they confirmed yes. Apparently she always wears them now. It wasn’t half obvious – I didn’t even need to look hard. No 12 year old has perfectly round and pert breasts.
I had breasts at 12, but they were more like a stack of fried eggs than breasts. Still, I was wearing bras but normally just sports bras. I remember padding my bra once with scrunchies, walking around sticking my chest out and feeling attractive and mature. I also remember my mum seeing me do so, going berserk, and confiscating the scrunchies (oh the horror!). I don’t think this was the start of my body confidence issues but, despite always being well-endowed I have never loved my body. Maybe this was the start of my issues here?
I also don’t remember bras being cool or interesting – they were seen as adult. Even training bras were something I kept private and thought were secret. Training bras now are revered amongst girls as young as 8 as being a cool fashion accessory. I know kids who can’t get through Kmart or Target without drooling over the bonds training bra and matching sets, much like me walking past a shoe store.
 Children’s bras have great rewards lingerie and underwear makers and retailers. The concept is to obtain brand awareness and loyalty young to ensure more profits from each consumer over a longer period of time.  Is this necessary? For retailers and underwear makers – yes. Are the bras necessary? Training bras....um...maybe??? But padded bras – surely not!
By allowing children to have padded bras are we starting body confidence issues early? Also, why would you provide your child with an item of clothing that draw attention away from their face? THEY ARE A CHILD! I’m not going to go down the path of writing about how padded bras (sexualisation of a minor) may encourage paedophilia besides suggesting you think about the possibility.
The potential positives about training bras and padded bras are twofold:
1.       Girls who do develop early won’t feel as awkward and isolated as they may have in the past (and may not incur as much bullying) if all girls their age are wearing bras also.

2.       Girls who develop late may not feel as upset, stressed or anxious as others will not know they are late bloomers if they are wearing training or padded bras.  
Despite the positive I still find a young girl wearing a padded bra highly disturbing and wrong.

What do you think about bras for young girls?

*not a real word but widely used when discussing this issue

27 April 2011

Getting from A to B risk free

THERE are few things more sobering than seeing blood being hosed off the road. Or white sheets covering an unspeakable but undeniably recognizable entity. Or the sight of someone being consoled by emergency services, near a metal wreck that could not possibly have been a car..could it? It is one thing to see these images on TV shows, advertising, newspapers or the Internet. It is another thing to see them first hand. 

My partner and I were first on the scene to a single vehicle crash on the Bruce Highway, Christmas Eve a few years ago. We were travelling southbound, just before Brisbane, and a car drove up an embankment and flipped over onto its roof a few hundred metres in front of us. 

While my partner was on the phone to 000, desperately  trying to fit his arm in the wrecked window to turn off the engine, fuel was spilling out of the car and the passengers were screaming. I was trying to put my recently acquired first aid training to use by asking questions to keep the passengers calm and conscious. The smell of alcohol was overpowering. The car was so crumpled that, laying on the road, looking through the window, I could not make out where the bodies started and where the ended. Or how many people were in the car. So when a female starting screaming about her “babies” I thought there were children in the car. It took every ounce of self control not to just walk away and cry. 

It felt like time had stopped and the police were never going to arrive. Other cars stopped both to try help, and to gawk. One man was ripping the front of the car and turning the engine off manually somehow while debate started to rage about trying to get the passengers out of the car. Then emergency services started to arrive. Police took our statements and said we could leave. The passengers were still in the car when we drove away – firemen were using the Jaws of Life. Disturbing. Heartbreaking. Sobering. We never heard anything about it on the news so I pray it wasn’t a fatality. But who knows? Only their family.

Easter Sunday, on the Bruce Highway heading from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast traffic was at a standstill. I rang Queensland Government Transport and Traffic Hotline (131940) to find out what was happening. It was a multi-vehicle crash over 1km ahead. Thirty-five minutes later, being diverted off the now closed highway,  I saw the eight crumbled up vehicles sitting across all three lanes, facing every direction, smashed together like a puzzle. The Queensland Police Service reported there were no fatalities but after seeing the mess I don’t know how that is possible. 

What disturbed me the most was not the sight of the wreckage. Or the six ambulances called to the sight. Or the four police cars, or the two fire trucks. It was the cars speeding past me when we were back on the highway. I became paranoid that I was driving well under the speed limit as car after car zipped past me. I wasn’t. Everyone else was speeding, making up for lost time I suppose? It was a 100km zone and cars would have easily been pushing 120km. These weren’t single occupant cars either. Or P platers. These were predominantly cars full of families. I was, and still am gob-smacked. Flabbergasted. Bewildered. Disturbed. Frustrated. 

The problem with drivers today is arrogance and ignorance. Simple. Everyone knows that speed kills, drink driving makes you a bloody idiot, red lights mean stop and seat belts save lives. Yet every day we are surrounded by people who flaunt a blatant disregard for the rules. Why?

The Transport Accident Commission Victoria (TAC) surveyed Victorian drivers in January this year about their perceived socially acceptable driving behaviours. Speeding was deemed the most “socially acceptable” of all illegal driving behaviours. Of those surveyed up to sixty percent believe driving ten percent over the speed limit is acceptable.  Many drivers across the country (and even the world) would no doubt agree. To put this in perspective, consider the following:

To drive from my house to my parent’s house is 81km, and involves driving on roads with speed limits ranging from 50km suburban streets right up to 110km zones on the Bruce Highway. If I drive ten percent over the speed limit the entire journey, I will get to my destination six minutes earlier. SIX MINUTES!!! 

Government departments can introduce as many different rules, regulations, advertising campaigns, fines, incentives or educational initiatives as they want but realistically, the problem comes down to the individual. How do you change the mentality of the driver who is willing to disobey the law, despite knowing all the risks associated? 

Next time you considering ignoring the rules or regulations of driving consider this:

Can you afford the fine?
Can you afford to lose your license?
Can you afford to repair your car?
Can you afford to lose your car?
Can you afford to destroy your life as you know it?
Can you afford to cause grief to all who love you?
Can you afford the guilt of knowing you destroyed someone else’s life?

Are you an arrogant and/or ignorant driver?

20 April 2011

Dead alien or elaborate hoax?

WEBSITES across the world today have been reporting on footage allegedly showing  a "dead alien" found in Russia on April 17. Whether you believe the footage is true or a hoax, one thing is for sure - debate is raging again about alien existence.

Rather than write a long winded article on alien visitations, the Roswell conspiracy, ancient alien theory and UFOs (this is coming, just not yet) I thought I'd post some interesting videos that have been shared around the office today.

Firstly, the dead alien sensation:

Secondly, a compilation of "UFO sightings" from the past few years, and a freaky phone call):

Okay so the phone call was proven to be a fake. The man allegedly rang in days later and confused to the hoax. But what was with the eerily timed outage?

Thirdly, if you are in any way interested in the universe and the possibility that "something" is out there, then the below documentary is sure to entertain. The documentary covers everything from the big bang theory to dark matter, from black holes to other galaxies. It is truly fascinating (but is 45mins long).

Is it completely ignorant and arrogant to believe that we are the only life forms in the whole of the universe? Whatever your argument, possible the most sensible opinion is that anything is possible, so never say never.

Do you believe in aliens and UFOs? 

19 April 2011

Pre-mix spirits drinkers rejoice

Media coverage of the AERF report on Channel 7's The Morning Show

WAR has again been waged, but the question this time is who will really benefit?

Woolworths and Coles are slashing alcohol prices on pre-mix spirits, such as Bundaberg Rum and cola and Jim Beam and cola cans. The major supermarkets have been at war with their prices for bread, milk, eggs, chicken and even laundry detergent, using slogans along the lines of "because everyone needs milk./bread/eggs/etc." Does everyone need alcohol? What next - cigarette prices slashed?

According to media reports, the alcohol price war started a week ago, right around the time a report, commissioned by the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AERF) found that more than four million Australian's drink to get drunk. About half of those surveyed said they get drunk at least once a week. Thanks to the supermarket giants, these people will now have more money to fund their efforts providing their indulgence is pre-mixed spirits.

Why would the supermarkets choose alcohol as their next price war?

AERF chief executive Michael Thorn said that over the past decade Australia's problem with alcohol had got worse.

"There's been an increase in violence, an increase in hospitalisations. There's an ongoing indigenous despair and rising community costs conservatively put at $36 billion a year," he said in Canberra, April 14.
Lowering prices on alcohol cannot possibly help the situation. Thorn said aggressive marketing of alcohol by both producers and retailers tells a sorry tale for Australians. He called for a minimum price on alcohol because there is clear evidence that price influences consumption.
Won’t anyone think of the children? The alcohol war is also likely to raise concerns regarding the fact that pre-mixed “alcopop” drinks are a source of major concern in relation to young and under age binge drinking by health campaigners.
It is easy to point the finger at who is responsible for alcohol issues in society Government? Retailers? Individuals? The real issue is that Woolworths' and Coles' actions cannot possibly help. One thing is for sure, discounting pre-mixes just in time for the Easter/Anzac Day long weekend is sure to boost profits - not that they needed the help considering the extra grocery expenditure that will take place also.

For the record, Woolworths own and operate Woolworths Liquor, BWS, Dan Murphy's and Langton bottle shops. Coles own and operate 1st Choice, Liquorland and Vintage Cellars bottle shops.  
Is discounting pre-mixed spirits a good thing or a bad thing?