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