Because things are never as they first seem…………………

 

 

Our neighbours having been driving us insane. By neighbours, I mean their dog. It has howled and cried like an old sick, dying man being prodded up the bum with a hot iron for the past 6 months. With probably only a handful of nights that we haven’t been woken up; the tiredness is taking its toll. We are beyond exhaustion. Between the dying dog and our daughter who is still waking up at all hours, going to bed is no longer exciting; we dread it! It is like preparing for battle. We roll over every night and hope for the best.

Every day we wake up after another ‘midnight audience with stinky old dog’ and wish terrible, evil things upon the neighbours and every day we become cowards and say nothing to them. We were certain someone else would have to complain soon enough, so not being whingers; we left it.

Today after a year and a half of living in our ‘new’ house. I decided to pay a visit to the neighbours. No, it wasn’t to be brave and complain about the dog, but to chat about the trees we would be removing from our boundary fence.

I charged up to the door, tension building like you wouldn’t believe. In my head I had constructed a picture of an evil couple who were showing disregard for the human race by allowing their 99 year old mutt to howl at the moon every night. ‘Disrespectful @#$%^&’ my husband and I had called them for months. How can’t they hear this *&%$ dog barking at all hours? Surely if they had no respect for anyone, then taking the trees down was sure to start an argument. I slung my 1 year old on my hip and marched up the driveway.

I didn’t get a chance to knock on the door, sitting outside on the porch, lighting a cigarette was a frail, broken woman. After a year and a half of living next door, this lady had no idea who I was, did not even recognize me. She was talking to and feeding the Magpies. I had to introduce myself, still on the defensive and preparing for an argument. It was then a few moments in that my anger slipped away and was replaced with sadness and guilt. After a just a minute or two my neighbour (who as it turns out is named Chrissy not   ‘ *&%$head)  had spilled her heart out to a stranger. It seems her husband had left her after 30 years of marriage; she was a broken woman and clearly struggling. She confided to a not so close neighbour, though I suspect she would’ve told anyone who would listen that she had been in and out of the mental health hospital; that she felt she had lost her life. Clearly sedated at 3:30 in the afternoon, it became clear why she could not hear her dog barking. She was so highly medicated to escape her pain that a dog barking would have faded into the backround.

Suddenly my anger was gone. There was now a face to the evil person from next door, and more than that there was now a sad, lonely woman trying to claw her way back to life.  Chrissy even mentioned how excited she was that the trees were being removed and how her summer would now be much brighter from her side of the fence. What a shame that it had taken a year and a half to make contact with someone living a few metres away from us.

The guy chopping our trees down came to interrupt our conversation and I must admit I was a little embarrassed when he asked and realised it was the first time we had met. From the outside, their house looked the same as it had a year ago when things were good for them. But behind the fence things had fallen apart.

After being shocked to recently hear of another friend separating from her husband after being together from the age of 15, I was reminded that nothing can be judged from the outside. We certainly know nothing about what goes on behind closed doors.

Recent topics of conversation have also turned to the insecurities we are all feeling as a result of following particular identities on Instagram or Facebook. Each picture, each hashtag and each story just seems to be so perfect. The houses are perfect, the children are perfect. Every second mum is an ‘entrepreneur’. Hey, if you have kids and you’re not running a business then it seems you’re a lazy ass. The one thing I know for sure, is that not once have I posted a photo of the shit things in my life. Never do we see a post of the bills on the fridge that couldn’t be paid. Never do we see a post about how shit peoples’ marriages are, never do we see a post about what they are scared of or what their child ‘can’t do’ this week, or the fat, sugar laden takeaway that we ate for dinner this week.

It’s probably time we got real and at least once a week started posting the shit things. Or better still, that we logged off the social media accounts and instead of liking someone’s posts, wonder about what they aren’t saying or having the guts to post. My bet is they’re probably sitting behind their own fence, with their own barking dog.

In keeping with the ‘keeping it real’ posting I’d like to share a picture of my grotesque front door from my not so renovated house. Because after nearly 2 years here and a year off work, we just had other shit to pay for!

 

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Why I wouldn’t mind being an 80’s mum…

 

Hey 2016 mums, hold on to your almond milk lattes and cacao protein balls…this will really freak you out.

Here is a picture of my 80’s mum.  It was taken with an actual camera. To see this photo she had to first finish the film, take it to the shops to be developed, wait up to a week and then go back to see that 20 of the 24 pictures had a dirty finger blocking the lens and that her children weren’t even looking at the camera.

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You also won’t believe it but she didn’t take this photo of herself. Long, long ago mums didn’t need to take photos of themselves being mums and doing mum things. Apparently it was very possible to look after your kids and not tell every Sue, Sharon and Tracy about it. Kind visitors would offer to take pictures for you if they believed what you were doing was worthy of taking a photo. Unbelievable…..I know. How did she know she was doing a good job as a mum if there was no one there to ‘like’ and comment on her post workout photo? Taken whilst balancing her kids on her size 6 hip and removing gluten free, dairy free, vegan friendly, sugar free, organic substitute muffins from the oven? How did she keep going without reading ego stroking comments like ‘wow…you really are a supermom!’ or ‘You look amazing’.

And OMG what is mum wearing? Where is her ‘active wear’? No Lorna Jane here. Good mums don’t sit down during the day to play with their own kids? They go to the gym. Good mums also drop the older kids off at school, then take the remaining children to as many activities as they can in 5 hours. Apparently children very much enjoy going to places where other adults play with your kids for you. No, don’t be fooled – the 2 year old’s you see being dragged into Kindygym and gymnastics kicking and screaming actually really love it and they’ll be photos on Instagram later to prove it.

Hang on….Is that a disposable nappy I can see peaking over the top of my non-branded kids clothing? Why aren’t I wearing a 100% hemp/bamboo blend recyclable and reusable nappy? This must be the reason I have issues as an adult. And check out the daggy surrounds. Where is the abstract art? Designer rug? And on trend colour palette?

You get my point right. This week I could literally vomit at what I have seen and heard coming from the mouths and social media accounts of 2016 mums. Admittedly I can log off. I know being on social media has inadvertently overexposed me to a whole group of what can only be described as ‘asshole mums, but let’s face it they are everywhere. I guess I’ve just been trying hard to hide from them since 2010.

Don’t get me wrong – I have also had my crack at making  ‘clean muffins’ and I also take my kids to activities and post on social media, but please stop me when I begin think that I am the most amazing mum in the world because of it. Truth be told- some days I take my kids to activities because I can’t cope at home all day. I make muffins because I know it will waste an hour of the day and keep the boys from hitting each other over the head. I don’t do things for ‘likes’. This morning I got caught at school drop off dragging my screaming son from our car and allowing him to fall on to the grass in a heap to teach him a lesson. Yep….great mum! Will I be posting photos of myself and screaming son on Instagram with captions such as ‘love of my life’ while we gaze into each other’s eyes today? No, no and more no! Of course he is the love of my life, but today he was a little poo.

This week one of my ‘mum activities’ after school drop off was taking our broken laptop in for repairs in with 3 year old in tow. I handed the crumpled, used Aldi bag containing my laptop over the counter proudly exclaiming ‘all the cords are in there’ (secretly thinking how organized I was). After spending a second looking through the bag the repair guy replies ‘yeah I think there’s even some underwear in there too’. Shock, horror – sitting in the bag peering up at me were a pair of my dirty knickers that must have fallen inside in the weeks that the bag has been sitting in my wardrobe. Yep great mum……

Life is not perfect despite some people’s attempts to fool everyone on Facebook.

I guess my angry little point is, when did we become so needy and reliant on gaining other peoples approval in order to measure and compare our worth as a mum? Why are some going to absolute extremes to portray a ‘perfect mum’ profile? Or casting the net further – why do some people make up completely false online lives for themselves, and then you’re face to face and don’t recognize them?  The sane amongst us are not buying it…we should be reading between the lines. Get real. It is often those who spend the most time talking about how great life is….who are trying hardest to convince themselves.

Mums have been raising kids for thousands of years. You are not a super mum, superwoman or mum because you made your child hand rolled sushi for lunch and took a photo of them eating a coconut today. Nothing at all wrong with doing any of the above, but the ‘mummy –bragging’ has to stop. Stop speaking ‘out loud’ or ‘online’ about things that we don’t need to hear about. Keep it to yourself. Be humble, be helpful. Be real and be a friend to other mums who are also dealing with ‘little poos’ today. Take and post photos because you love them not because you need to be validated by strangers…because people who really know you, know that it’s all bullshit.

Our 80’s mums did it……..and they did it well. Guess what, they didn’t even need the photos prove it.

Online safety: Your children are STILL not listening!

 

 

If you are the parent of school aged children then you need to keep reading. It is time to be honest with yourselves and take notice before your child becomes the next victim. Am I being an ‘over the top’ teacher? Probably yes, but the reality and consequence for not taking action is frightening. Read On……………………….

This week I have intervened in several situations involving students compromising their safety by sharing personal information online. In each situation the child believed they were innocently posting photos for friends when they had in fact given online predators a map and a green light to track them down.

Student 1 (Sibling of a student at our school): Using her Instagram account posted a screen shot of her online banking balance page in an attempt to show friends how much she had saved for an upcoming holiday. In doing so she had shared her account numbers, branch BSB numbers and full identification details to her closest 500 followers.  To her credit she had try to use a fading out application, but the numbers could still easily be identified. On closer investigation I was horrified to realise her account was not set to private….so she had actually shared this with every Tom, Dick  and weirdo whose favourite pastime is to troll social media sites looking at pictures of teenage girls.

Student 2: Year 12 student excitedly posted a screen shot of her newly attained drivers licence. Address, birthdate, eye colour, signature and licence number clearly visible. Whilst this account was set to private, I was still able to gain access to this picture through other ‘open’ accounts.

These girls are capable, friendly and intelligent students, imagine what the silly ones are getting up to?

I know for certain that the schools are doing their part.  As early as Year One, students are engaged in Online Safety Curriculum and conversation. Students using computers as part of a 1 to 1 program at every year level must attain a a ‘Net-passport’ That is only issued on completion of  a Net-Tiquette Program, based solely on cyber safety, bullying and privacy issues. Many schools also arrange visits from detectives working in ‘Online Crime to speak with their Year Sevens about protecting online identities. The students are always shocked when the detective arrives with a book full of personal information on our students, retrieved after only minutes of searching the names on our class lists. How easy would it be for the professional perverts who have hours a day to spend on this type of sinister research?

But are the parents also keeping up their end of the Education? Seriously ask yourself Do you really know what your children are posting online? When was the last time you looked at what they were posting? When was the last time you sat down with them and had a good chat about web safety and Net-Tiquette? Or do you believe it is solely the school’s job to sort this out for you?

After seeing some truly stupid posts placed online by parents themselves, I wonder is ‘Adult –Education’ the problem? Many adults do not seem to realize that anything posted online forms part of your digital footprint or online identity, and once published is there for all to see. Most employers will now run an online search for perspective employees, so you better hope you are setting your children up for success. A prominent Queensland netballer, 25 years old, has even been through the courts recently after being blackmailed by an online stalker to whom she posted private photos to. You would imagine that by 25 years old you would have gotten the message loud and clear.

Whilst it doesn’t surprise me, it does anger me that Child Safety continues to be compromised due to a lack of education. So if you have no idea about how to get the ball rolling have a quick look at the following guidelines which apply to adults and students and are endorsed by most local authorities on the matter.

–          Never post a photo of your child wearing their school uniform. Whilst the first day of school pics are adorable this is an easy way to hand feed information to strangers. Uniforms give a lot of information away. For starters- The address and exact whereabouts of your child between 8:30am -3pm. It all amazes me when parents post these pictures and you can even read the name of the school on the shirt.

–          Do not use (or use sparingly) the ‘check in’ feature on Facebook. I have seen so many people checking into their own house, a feature which not just gives strangers your rough address but is also so helpful it provides them with map in case the weirdo can’t find you already!

–          If you must use the ‘check in’ feature do not check in at after school activities such as footy practice, ballet etc. For obvious reasons. Not only does this let everyone know where your child is, it also tells them that you are not at home, leaving you vulnerable to a whole host of other nasties.

–          Use an online alias. There is absolutely no need for you to sign up for a Social Media Account using your own name. Change it slightly or use a middle name as a surname.

–          Make sure your child’s profiles are set to PRIVATE!!!!! Obviously as a teacher I am approached by many students on social media. I am shocked by how many students still have their accounts open. Unbelievable.

–          Do not use your own photo or image for your profile picture. Even with a private setting, a google search using your name will still yield results including the photo you use as a profile picture. Choose a cartoon character, object or symbol rather than your own face. Avoid using a drunk photo from last year’s Christmas Party. Not a good look.

–          Make sure you are ‘friends’ or a ‘Follower’ of your child. If they don’t want that, then there is something wrong. This is also a great way to keep an eye on bullying and also what other children are posting of your children. Eg; your child may not post ‘wrong’ photos on their own sites, but are others doing it for them? To those that say this is an invasion of privacy, go and google ‘Carly Ryan, Adelaide’. I bet her mum only wishes she had invaded her daughter’s privacy a lot sooner, a heartbreaking story, but sadly it doesn’t stand alone.

–          Make sure you know what the following Social Media Sites are and do a search; Kick, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Askfm, Twitter. These change every day, it is our job to keep up with them.

 I know many of you are thinking, ‘I don’t even have enough time to check my own Facebook ! How will I get around to all that?’ Well the answer must be Make the time. If you have given them the device to be online, then you need to educate them on how to ‘be online’.

  It is the same as giving them a car and allowing them to drive without a licence.

 I shall now hop down from my high horse, I think he is tired.

 

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Selfie Taker or Selfie Hater?

Selfie Taker or Selfie Hater?

Maybe it is my age letting me down here, or perhaps that I have always tried my best to avoid a camera, but I am in a total state of confusion when it comes to this narcistic ‘Selfie’ trend.

For those who are blissfully unaware, or have managed to avoid this new breed of ‘duck faced’ amateur modelling contestants, according to the ‘Urban Dictionary’, which we all know is 100 percent accurate and completely scientific, A Selfie is:

‘A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.’

 

For some freaky reason it has become social vogue to take a photo (or even ten photos) of your own head, usually looking nothing like your own ‘every day’ head but a slippery, lip glossed version of yourself, and then publishing it as many times as humanly possible on the internet. The ‘Selfie’ person then acts really overwhelmed and surprised when they receive comments from acquaintances telling them how ‘wonderful’ they look, by responding with utter stupidity.

For example:

‘You look so hot’

‘I do not, you do’

‘No, you do’

‘No you do…..’

‘Thanks babe, I love you’

‘ I love you more’

(Yes as sad as it is I actually copied this from Instagram)

Sometimes the Selfie Addict will repeat the same stupid looking face the next day, but with a different comment that will usually have nothing to do with the picture. Think big lips, stupid pouting face, enough cleavage to house a small family from Cambodia and a caption reading #myfeetaresore. Err I’m sorry, have I missed something? I can’t even see your feet?

 

Okay, so after speaking with some little people who know nothing of life before the internet, I am beginning to understand that this is the tool teenagers now use to gain an instant self-esteem boost. Apparently there is an acceptable number of ‘likes’ that you must receive in order to avoid being a ‘loser’ or god forbid the subject of an ‘ugly’ photo. It’s almost like an instant popularity poll. As troubling as it is, I can at least see the motive here. But can someone please explain why the hell grown adults jumping on board with this?

There is usually a ‘type’ that fits the ‘Selfie’ taking profile.

  1. Recently separated, back on the prowl.
  2. Just bought a new lipstick.
  3. Just lost 40kg and need to show everyone my new skinniness and receive many shocked comments about how much weight I have lost. Preferably from people I use to go to school with when I was fat.
  4. New haircut recipient
  5. Idiot
  6. Drunk Idiot
  7. Person over 60 trying to take a photo of something else but accidentally snaps their own head.
  8. Teenager
  9. 3 year old on rampage with mums Iphone, mum has not yet realised phone is missing.
  10. People without mirrors?

Some questions to ponder about the Selfie:

Why are there no ugly Selfies? Did anyone ever take a Selfie of their newly ripened pimple?

Why don’t truly hideous looking humans take Selfies?

Is a Selfie only a Selfie if someone else sees it?

Why don’t men take Selfies?

Is it a fear of being forgotten? Is the Selfie a reminder for everyone, or a cry for help? ‘I’m still here everyone, just letting you know….again, and again, and again’

So what are your thoughts? Are you a Selfie taker or a Selfie hater?

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Ten days in… Time to whinge

Ten days into our month away from home and I am already about to have a big fat whinge!!!
 
Firstly there is no Internet access at the house we are in..I’m sorry but have we returned to 1990’s? If this is the case you won’t mind me listening to a wet wet wet album, watch four weddings and a funeral and wear a hair scrunchie. I am forced to post a blog from my phone and my fingers are too fat for the keys… I started writing this 4 years ago and am still going! Apparently the tapping noise that the keys make when I’m typing is also very annoying to my husband. Really sorry about that… I would hate to interrupt your viewing of tonight’s episode of ‘Great Australian Bakeoff’. 
 
Life without the Internet is tough, how will I confirm that I am still in electronic existence? #firstworldproblem
 
Yesterday we noticed a sign on a pub window saying $9 schnitzels. My Husband showed more delight towards this deal than was exhibited on our wedding day. How could I deny him of this culinary treat. So off we went to cash in on our super schnitzel special. Expectations were high. After ordering it turned out that to get the special you had to sit in the front bar…(1 metre to our right) I had already sat back in my seat like a coward after paying full price . A quick discussion was had ( through gritted teeth, tutting and aggressive whispering ) and it was decided that I would have to do the walk of Shame back to the counter to ask for a refund… Yes me!!! It was also agreed that we should move the metre to get the discount. Was so embarrassed, and then spent the next half hour avoiding eye contact with all staff members. My husband said this was the best schnitzel he’d ever eaten. What a pity, as we won’t be going back!
 P.s – why do they put the schnitzel on top of the chips!Image
 
Would whinge some more… But my thumb is sore. Will be back when we have acquired some wifi… If all else fails I guess there is McDonalds.
 
 
 
 

Dear Auto-correct

To my dearest Auto Correct,

I’m just writing you this little letter to show my appreciation for all the fabulous work you do. I know I don’t often tell you, but you are a real star. Some days you are so efficient that I can get a whole text message finished while not even looking at the screen. Which I guess is why so many people can drive so beautifully while they are texting (or not?)

You have come in handy on numerous occasions (like when I’m waiting in the toilet for 20 minutes with my 2 year old while he decides if ‘his poo is finished’ or not, or when trying to reply to the silly person who thinks 6pm is a good time to communicate with a mum. Which  of course is the ‘very’ best time to call. I’m not busy at all during this time except for making dinner while breastfeeding, running baths, doing dishes and probably going back to check if the 2 year old’s poo has in fact ‘come out yet’.)

So, we both know that sometimes it doesn’t turn out the best, but that’s okay. I’m no fair weather friend. Like the time I messaged Christine to let her know we were in town, to which she replied ‘ I don’t know who the Arab men are, but It sounds like a good night’. Bless her for being so ‘up’ for a good night with unknown Arab men, but I was only inviting her to my brothers place for a drink. Also who could forget the time that I was sending a message of love and instead of professing my love to the recipient….you made me ‘loathe’ them instead. It’s okay. No damage done. I guess the message here is…don’t be so over eager to help out. Hang back a bit sometimes…see if it just comes naturally!

Anyway…keep up the great work! It doesn’t go unnoticed.

Lots of Loathe (oops… love)

See you again spoon. *soon.

Iphone Abuser *user

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If you have anything to do with teens then read on………………..

This past month I have had a disturbing re-introduction to Social Networking, in particular, Askfm. If you have Tweenage (9-14yrs) or teenage children and are thinking this post is about a new radio station, then read on.

As a past year 7 teacher, I used to pride myself on ‘being in touch‘ with my students and being able to relate to what was happening in their worlds. Being in my early twenties when I graduated, it was not that long before that I too had been an insecure teen trying to iron out my identity in the back row of  a Business Maths lesson (yeah I know…Business Maths, I was never going to be an accountant with that under my belt).

Well it seems the generation gap has reared its ugly head, because I have crossed over from being a  hip, happening twenty something, into a daggy, thirty something teacher trying to keep up with a generation who are fast slipping away from us.Times have changed and it is now not what we do see happening that we should be worried about…it is what we are not seeing  that is the cause for concern.

Askfm is a relatively new social networking site that operates in an anonymous Q & A format. Users sign up for an account and are then open to receiving questions from anonymous users. The questions and answers are then publicly published on the page for all to see. After a chat with my 16 year old sister in law, I thought I’d go and have a look at what the hype was about.

After browsing through several ‘open’ accounts I had to get off. I was left with a sick feeling in my stomach. I felt sad, I felt angry and I felt helpless. Page after page of comments intentionally posted by so called  ‘friends’ who in the safety of anonymity were able to strip away at the insecurities of their most vulnerable school mates. The questions would begin quite innocently, What is your favourite food? Do you prefer coffee or tea? Dogs or cats? and then dip to take a seedy undertone, with personal attacks on sexual status, weight and appearance. The insults, the attacks, the bullying is published publicly for the world to see. I wanted to find the children, shake them for being so silly and then hug them. Why would they sign up and subject themselves to this? What was it that kept them answering these humiliating questions? Why didn’t they block these users? The answer lies deep within their impressionable teen minds.  I once asked a group of my Year Seven’s why they stayed on Facebook or MSN if they had been picked on. One group told me ‘If we aren’t on there, it’s like we don’t exist’. This broke my heart.

Earlier this year British teen Joshua Unsworth took his own life after becoming the centre of a bullying campaign played out publicly on the social networking site.This is not a new phenomenon. Facebook is now in its seventh public year and has also been blamed for inciting violence, hatred and facilitating bullies.

But Is social networking to blame for these deaths or for the relentless bullying? Or would these events have occurred without a computer? There are some that will say that bullying has always been a large part of our society, it is after all as old as the hills. Take our friend Jesus for example…I’m sure many more would have attended the Crucifixion if Pontius Pilate had been able to take advantage of the ‘Create an event’ feature on Facebook. Some suggest it is only now being taken seriously because we have the published manuscripts as proof of what is being played out in our playgrounds. Surely we as a society should be taking accountability for the huge slip in moral education that is making it ‘okay’ for us to pick others to pieces, to hound others until they crack.

When faced with cyber bullying, Many parents ask ‘What can I do?’ Firstly you’ve got to find a window into their worlds. This window is now open for all of the world to see…the internet. Get online and sign yourself up for every social networking site you can find. Despite many  having security features where profiles can be private,  they are still kids, which means you can bet they didn’t listen to the constant warnings about concealing their personal details.  Many pages are still ‘open’. You’d be surprised at what you can find out, if not from your own child’s pages, then at least those of their friends. The predators are having a field day!

Secondly, try to stay at least one step behind them. Lets face it, we will never get ahead of them when it comes to technology. Lets at least try to stay within reach, not fall ten steps behind. It is a parents responsibility to find out what’s going on. Snoop away! You’ll be hated for a while, but you’re not trying to make a friend. You are trying to keep your children safe. You may just find that piece of information that saves their life.

Don’t become ‘that’ parent who didn’t know what was happening.

Here is the Link to the Daily Mail Article, a real eye opener.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2308395/Ask-fm-This-week-15-year-old-boy-killed-hounded-No-wonder-mothers-want-banned.html

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