30 September 2013

8 : The Legend of the Tooth Fairy - Something Old

Who Exactly is the Tooth Fairy?
Well I'm not quite sure who she is, but I wish she would at least remind me during the night that I'm supposed to act in her honour and give my son a gold coin to replace his missing tooth.  Unfortunately she didn't bother to do that and my poor little fella woke up this morning with his tooth still by his bed and no money exchanged.  I challenge any tired parent woken up from sleep to be able to explain that to a 7 year old!
Once my sludgy brain started computing properly I quickly surmised that sometimes the Tooth Fairy is particularly busy and may take a few nights to appear. This explanation has worked in the past I am ashamed to admit.  My cluey son had already been concerned the previous night as he didn't have any special tooth fairy boxes to place his tooth in, so we just popped it into a sealed plastic sandwich bag.  How glamorous!  My son was very concerned that the Tooth Fairy wouldn't be able to open the bag to get to his tooth.  Silly Mummy assured him that a magical Tooth Fairy could do anything.  This is the problem when you don't have little girls any more.  Boys are rarely interested in fairies until it comes time to start earning an income from teeth.  I caught one of my sons, several years ago, trying to pull his teeth out as he wanted to earn some money!
I have ignored the tradition of placing the grotty old tooth under the child's pillow for many years now.  It is way too hard to search, ever so secretly, in the middle of the night for the ridiculously tiny little tooth and replace it with the promised gold coin.  I've taken to placing the tooth in 'something' next to their bed.  That way it's much easier for the busy and very tired 'Tooth Fairy' to manage the exchange without being discovered.  Trust me it's more upsetting to have struggled through the night with the exchange and headed off to bed pleased with your efforts, only to be woken in the morning by a teary eyed child who claims the Tooth Fairy stole their tooth but didn't leave any money.  That's when you need to conjure up a slight of hand exchange, after a quick check in the purse, and help them 'find' it after all.
Thankfully on this occasion my son accepted this mornings explanation that we hadn't put the tooth in the 'right' container after all.  We briefly recalled that last time we used an egg cup and that must be the right thing to do.  With egg cup and tooth already waiting by his bed, it seems the explanation was a valid one to a 7 year old.  Fingers crossed that damn tooth fairy remembers her job tonight!
I did a google search to discover more about the legend of the tooth fairy and came across some interesting information.  Seems there are many different traditions around the world: 
  • The tooth fairy dates back to European folklore; it was thought that burying a child's tooth would help a new tooth grow in it's place.  As people began to move into cities and had less gardens to bury their tooth, the tradition changed to 'bury' the tooth under the child's pillow
  • In England, Canada, Australia and America the fairy responsible for exchanging the tooth for a gold coin or treasure is the 'Tooth Fairy'
  • In Denmark the fairy is known as 'Tandfeen' and leaves money in exchange for the tooth
  • In France the tooth is thought to be collected by a mouse known as 'La Petite Souris' who may either leave a treasure or some candy
  • In Spain the mouse is known as 'Ratoncito Perez' and takes the tooth and leaves a treasure
  • In Argentina the tooth is placed in a glass of water and 'El Ratoncito' drinks the water and leaves a treasure behind in the glass
  • In Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia and Venezuela the magic mouse known as 'El Raton' has the job
  • In South Africa the tooth is placed in a slipper for the mouse and a gift is left in its place
  • In some areas of Greece a mouse takes the tooth, in other areas the tooth is thrown up on a roof for a pig to take
  • In India the baby tooth is also thrown on the roof in the hopes that a sparrow will bring a new one
  • In some parts of Africa an upper tooth is thrown on the roof but a lower tooth is buried in the ground
  • Sir Lankan children throw their tooth up on the roof hoping a squirrel will come and get it
  • In East Asia children throw a lower tooth on the roof and an upper one is buried, thrown on the ground or hidden under the bed
  • Brazilian children throw their tooth outside and hope that a bird will come and take it, it is thought the bird only takes a clean tooth and they get a treasure, if it is dirty there is no treasure
  • Children of El Salvador believe a rabbit comes to take their tooth
  • Some Alaskan tribes feed the tooth to an animal, such as a dog, and ask for it to be replaced
  • Many Central American countries make their children's baby teeth into jewellery.  This tradition is thought to date back to Viking times, the treasured jewellery items were used by Vikings in battle to bring luck and the child was paid a 'tooth fee' for the use of their jewellery.

29 September 2013

7 : Stunted Discus - Something Blue

My Tiny Cobalt Discus
 Stunted Cobalt Discus
Indication of size difference between Marlboro Red
and Cobalt Discus who are the same age...

It seems that my little cobalt blue discus is officially stunted.  I've read up on all the descriptions and he falls into this category.  He has a larger eye in proportion to his body, his body is more football shaped than round and his colour is dull.  I purchased him at the same time as the majority of my discus, he has fallen behind in growth despite appearing to be feisty at meal times.
I have noticed he will ignore a lot of the variety of food supplied and prefers to only eat dried black worms.  It is such a pity as he is duller in colour than the other discus and hides the majority of the time, however, is front and centre of the tank at meal times.  There are some aquarist that are keen on breeding that may decide to cull a fish like this, however, I could never do that.  He may be more prone to disease should he be exposed to it but so far his health, despite remaining small, has been good.
Discus like to live in schools and there is a natural pecking order amongst the fish, I'm guessing my little cobalt is the runt of the school and will always hold this position.  As long as he keeps fighting amongst the bigger guys for his food, and manages to eat a little of something every day, I don't see any reason to cull him.  There are many reports of stunted discus living long healthy lives, despite their size, and even breeding and producing normal size fry. 
Sometimes I just want to remove him from the tank and beef him up all on his own in another tank, however, I know that he will stress about being alone and is likely to deteriorate.  Either way as long as he remains healthy I must admit I really like him, he is very endearing with his larger eyes and will probably permanently look like a juvenile discus.  Now what's wrong with that?  After all we can't all be the same, it's sometimes nice to be different than the rest.

28 September 2013

7 : My Favourite Poem - Something Borrowed...

Look Well To This Day

Look to this day
for it is life
the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
the realities and truths of existence
the joy of growth
the splendor of action

the glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived
makes every yesterday a memory of happiness

and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day.
This has always been my favourite poem, I have carried a copy in my purse to inspire me ever since I was young.  However, the version I have carried with me all these years is only a variation of the second verse.  I came across it when I was a teenager and perhaps didn't ever see it in its entirety.  I am glad that I recently did a Google search to find it again and found the missing verse.
In my search I also came across some controversy over where it actually originated from.  It is often quoted as a Sanskrit poem attributed to Kalidasa, an Indian Sanskrit playwright and poet of the 4th-5th Century AD whose work was based on Hindu philosophy.  However, the original poem has not been found and some believe it to be an English author.  Either way, it is a genuine reminder to live life well each day and remind us that if we do so, our memories will be of happiness and our future will be filled with visions of hope.  Truly inspirational words to live by,  I hope you can learn to enjoy this lovely poem too. 

25 September 2013

7 : Don't Blink Or You May Miss Them - Something New

Don't Miss The Little Moments
I have been taking my kids to kindergym now on/off for nearly 24 years.  It is a fantastic place where your pre-school children can romp about at full speed playing to their hearts content with bigger and better pieces of equipment than they could have access to anywhere else.  They can climb and swing, bounce on trampolines and ride bikes around and around the huge space in safety.  They can create with building blocks, even build forts and enjoy clambering all over them.  Learn to balance on equipment that is safe and built just for their size, bounce off trampolines and practice tumbling on the softest matts you ever saw.  Kindergym is held in either a huge hall or gym full of colour, life and buzzing little people.
You can jig along with the kids to all the latest toddler tunes whilst you enjoy watching them learn to throw mini basketballs in baskets.  They learn to jump on trampolines and wait their turn, they learn about sharing and playing alongside other children.  There is the ball pit where they can slide in to at full speed launching themselves in to a sea of coloured balls.  It is a place where you and your child can enjoy these experiences together, you are there to supervise and encourage your child.  The tinkling bell signalling the close of the session is always a treat, watching your child shaking their sillies out never gets old.
After all these years I find I can no longer enjoy kindergym, I still go each week because my son just loves it and I do enjoy spending the time with him.  However, I find it too hard watching many of the other children being ignored by their parents.  Watching a little girl successfully learning to twirl the hula hoop for the first time, calling out to her mother with no response. Watching that same mother never stop to look, not even a glance at the insistent little girl, just continuing on her more important conversation.  Watching a little boy strapped safely in the coolest swing known to man suspended from the ceiling, legs dangling, head down and clearly bored.  His mother distracted talking to her mobile phone, not noticing that he stopped swinging 5 minutes ago. 
Children running about wildly, forming mini gangs and playing dangerously with no one noticing.  Watching as gaggles of women are deep in conversation, barely pausing for breath, eyes never leaving their group. Parents sitting along the sidelines in seats, refusing to participate, with zombie like stares aimlessly scrolling through their mobile phones, missing their child whizzing by on their bike and their hopeful glances from across the room.  Witnessing a child's crestfallen face as they look up to see that Mum or Dad didn't notice their latest trick is truly heart breaking.
Kids are little for such a short time, we are all guilty of being too busy to notice.  We try and fit so much into our lives that we forget to stop and enjoy the journey along the way.  I know I am certainly guilty of it, yet for the 45 minutes of kindergym once a week you should be able to shut out the rest of the world for just a little while.  Shut them out and keep your eyes open and enjoy watching those special little people.  Don't blink or you may miss them ...

24 September 2013

7 : Domino - Something Old

An Old Friend
I often think fondly of my old friend, someone that was a pivotal part of our family, its hard to recall a time he wasn't there.  Someone that was always patiently waiting nearby, who would listen to your stories without judgement, a loyal friend.  Someone that was there each day when I got home from school, from when I first began kindergarten right through to high school.  Someone who was always watching after us as we walked along the street.  No matter whether it was walking to school, heading off for the day to play or even walking to the local shops, he was there.  Someone that slept in my bed so often that there was a permanent indent on my bed spread.  I grew up learning not to sleep straight, with legs shaped around my warm mate or curled up in a ball so there was room for us both.  
Yes, my old friend was by my side through many of those precious moments of childhood, through all the hard times and the good times.  Always there, in the background, happy with any sort of attention that went his way.  Every home we lived in during childhood, every state that we moved to and there were many, he was there.  He never left us, always loyal, one of the few consistencies of my childhood.  He grew old as we grew up, and then one day he was gone...
He was quietly put to sleep one day when we were at school.  It was for his own good as he was deteriorating rapidly with a terrible lesion/skin cancer on his nose.  I had always dreaded his demise, I only wish I was given the opportunity to say goodbye to my loyal old friend.  He slipped away quietly yet made such a big impact on my entire childhood.  I've never had another... my old friend Domino the cat.


23 September 2013

6. Pool Scare - Something Blue

Missing Child
There is nothing more frightening than losing your child, even for a moment, add that to losing them at a pool equates to sheer terror.  At our regular Saturday morning swimming classes we were watching our young sons doing their swimming lessons.  We like to watch them swimming and improving each week and thought we kept a pretty close eye on them.
I am always a little nervous around water and young children so never tune out completely and remain alert.  The lessons were going well and our youngest child had spent most of his lesson in the big pool, which was unusual.  We were definitely distracted by watching our 4 year old jumping in to the big pool and even diving for items from the bottom of the pool.  Somehow we both lost track of watching our 7 year old boy doing his regular short laps of modified freestyle and backstroke.
The classes ended and it was time to get out.  Our 7 year old, who is normally out first shivering and shaking his skinny little body ready to be warmed up, didn't come.  I went to help our 4 year old out of the water, scooping him up in his fluffy warm towel.  I had thought that our 7 year old must have already gone to his father to be dressed, but he did not.  I started to search the faces of the children still getting out and heading to their parents.  Nothing.
I began to dry my young son and nervously waited whilst my husband quickly checked the toilets.  Nothing.  Time to move.  The nervous fear rising within me, heart thudding.  Enough,  I marched toward the pool side beginning to quickly scan the bottom of the pool.  Nothing.  Growing more desperate as the clock continued to tick.  Minutes passed.  Nothing.  Everyone was out and the next classes were under way. Nothing.
I scanned the pool bottom again, desperate to not find anything suspicious, I searched all the little faces near me.  Nothing.  I sent my husband back to the toilet.  He had to be there.  Nothing.
It was time to voice my fears, a shaky high pitch sound was all I could manage when I demanded to know where my son was.  The looks on the faces of the young swimming instructors said it all.  They didn't see anyone.  They didn't know.  Again, I scanned the pool and began to move quickly.  Too late now, fear had taken its grip and full internal panic ensued.  I externally tried to remain calm but internally I was losing the battle.  Just looking at my husband's face, a reflection of how I was feeling, said it all.  Nothing.
Pace quickens, where is he?  Where could he be?  Could he have been taken?  Could he have wandered somewhere else?  You don't want to face your worst fear.  That he didn't get out of the pool.  That he is still in there...
I know these moments in time seem to go slowly but in reality they go quickly.  Still, minutes ticked by.  My son always got himself out of the pool by himself, he would even start to dress himself before his younger brother finished.  It has never been an issue.  We tried to remember when we saw him last.  We both realised, in dismay, that it had been quite a while.  Too long.
We had both been distracted by our 4 year old in the big pool and hadn't noticed.  We hadn't noticed his class moving to the deep end of the pool.  We hadn't noticed our 7 year old son learning to jump in to the deep end.  We hadn't noticed that his class had run late, for the first time ever.  We hadn't noticed he was missing, until he was.
Then, out of nowhere, we saw him.  He was walking along the poolside, heading down from the deep end, nervously shivering.  I'm sure wondering why his parents were frantically pacing the pool and yelling at everyone.  The relief is palpable.  You just hug and don't care why.  All you care is they are safe and its all ok.
The teacher sheepishly swam down and apologised profusely for scaring us, everyone was able to breath a sigh of relief.  We weren't the only ones at this point beginning to imagine the worst.  It's times like this you realise that, even though you think you are vigilant and alert, it is so easy to lose track and miss the little things ...our precious kids.

20 September 2013

6 : Grandma Angel - Something Borrowed

Inspirational Story about a Retired Grandma Helping China's Orphans
On Sunday I watched a very inspirational story on the Sunday Night programme about Linda Shum, an Australian retired grandmother, who is helping China's orphans.  Linda and her husband Greg, both retired school teachers, decided to go on a trip to China as a retirement gift to themselves.  Whilst on holidays their lives were forever changed when they visited China's derelict state run orphanages.  They were horrified to discover the unwanted girls and disabled boys crammed into overcrowded homes, living in poverty and degradation; the unfortunate reality of China's one-child policy.  
Linda and her husband were so moved that they felt a calling to help.  Since that first visit they have dedicated their lives to helping these orphans.  Unfortunately Greg passed away six years ago from a stroke.  Despite this, and recovering from a bilateral mastectomy, Linda has remained dedicated to her calling  and has successfully opened and continues to run eight new homes in China, dedicated to providing disabled and unwanted children a life of dignity and happiness.  She is a true inspiration, her full story can be read at this link : http://au.news.yahoo.com/sunday-night/features/article/-/18880439/grandma-angel/
How wonderful to be able to look back on your own life and know that you have helped those that could not help themselves, just like Linda and Greg have done.  It is a truly inspirational story that deserves recognition.  You can help by visiting Linda's website and making any donations that you feel you can afford http://www.eagleswingschina.org/index.php I am now a regular contributor myself.

17 September 2013

6 : Embracing Twitter - Something New

Twitter! You Have Got To Be Kidding!
I am a proud member of the X generation, born pretty much smack bang in the middle.  Not too old, not too young, pretty much perfect I guess you could say. Despite my generation basically inventing what we all call PCs and Macs today, there are many in my generation still struggling with the complexity of it all.  We played games on the Commodore Vic 20 like the best of them in the 80's, then moved on to Apple Mac and thought we were geniuses.  We outlived Beta and embraced VCR, believing for sure that the era of movie cinema's were over.  We may have seen the demise of the Drive Ins, but the movie cinema industry has gone full steam ahead.  Going to the cinema now is a true experience in how far technology has come, with amazing computer graphics and 3D viewing it's just like you are there.
We survived the change from the clunky, I guess you could call them 'mobile' phones of the 90's to the new slicker 'Smart' phones of the 21st century with, well, relative ease.  Now we are all holding computers in the palms of our hands.  Despite our generation creating this computer revolution not all of us have quite kept up with the fast paced new technology.  Some of us were put off after learning how to master floppy disks only to find them obsolete a few years later, embracing new technology was exhausting.  Learning that these new expensive difficult to manage machines also caught 'computer viruses' was all a bit much. 
We began to hand over the reigns to the newer generation, of course under the ever watchful eyes of the original X generation computer geeks.  However, the majority of the X generation had stopped still for a while, head in the sand, not coping with the new pace of technology. I can still remember when the 'internet' first began and we all wondered what would be the point of it.  We had no concept of what this could mean for the future.
My generation have had to cope with so much change, I can't even imagine being a Baby Boomer coping with all of this.  So many of them have embraced technology, yet many others don't even know how to turn their mobile phones on.  I can say that as an approaching 40 year old (never you mind which side) X generation person, I feel I have recently learned to embrace this new 'social media' technology quite well.  I was definitely a latecomer to Facebook but now find myself checking for updates on my smart phone regularly throughout the day.  Who knew that I would feel that way.   I originally felt quite certain that Facebook wouldn't interest me at all.  Instead, I have made so many more contacts with long lost friends, and kept up with newer ones, more than I ever could possibly have without it.  It certainly has its pitfalls and negative aspects, however, its all about how you use it and for me its perfectly suits my busy lifestyle.
I have just finished reading a book called 'Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World' by Michael Hyatt.  It was recommended reading from my Writers Workshop I recently attended with Hay House in Melbourne.  Its all about how to 'launch' yourself through social media.  Fortunately for me I was keen to get started right away, before I received the book, and began this blog.  After reading Michael's book and reading his blog http://michaelhyatt.com/ I have certainly picked up on a lot more tips. 
Michael spent many chapters discussing how I should be embracing Twitter, oh great not another new thing I thought.  I already felt that Facebook was quite enough for me thank you very much.  Twitter, what a ridiculous word, how could that possibly be helpful?  As Michael discusses in his book I was definitely one of those people who was negative about something I hadn't even tried myself.  He recommended giving it a go for at least two weeks before really deciding whether or not it is right for you. 
I took the plunge and signed up, I am still taking baby steps but I am starting to slowly see the point.  Although there are thousands of small sentences being churned out second after second, I was very surprised to discover that a lot of this was actually useful information.  I received breaking news via twitter for the first time before I saw it on television.  Although there most certainly is a lot of pointless chatter on there, there are also a lot of interesting businesses and positive inspirational quotes by people I respect and can learn from.  Just like Facebook, I have started to find a point for Twitter too, especially for promotion and getting noticed in such a busy world.  Having the technology now available to connect to the world in a way in which was previously not possible is a good thing.
At the risk of sounding old/er than I actually am, I find myself beginning to wonder if the Y generation actually are getting something right.  I know that everyone worries about there being a lack of face to face communication now in favour of social media, however, what a lot of these same people don't realise is that through social media there is actually more communication than we ever had before.
I'll keep you posted on my technology social media progress.  Perhaps I will learn to master this after all, I certainly have a lot of catching up to do and can't afford to fall so far behind again.  My advice to everyone else out there, particularly the X generation that are yet to embrace this technology, is to open up yourself to the possibilities.  After all, technology isn't going away any time soon, who knows what is around the corner...
ps. my twitter account is https://twitter.com/theAJMaaa I think!

16 September 2013

6 : Intuition - Something Old...

  • The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning
  • A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.
I'm sure I'm not the only one that thinks I know better than to listen to that little whisper in my ear, that thing we call intuition.  We all know it's there, it's been there since before we were born.  We can choose to listen to it or just plough full steam ahead into life with little thought.  What we forget is that intuition is ourselves, it is our very inner core that we are blocking out.
It doesn't even have to be those 'big' moments where we should listen to our intuition, its often all those little every day decisions where we could use that little bit of help.  If only we could learn to trust ourselves and go with that inner feeling when it starts tapping away inside our head.  Often we are just too busy to stop and listen and instead push it aside.  We are often left wondering why things didn't work out or go our way.  All the while there is this little voice just waiting to be heard deep inside ourselves.
If we could learn to be patient enough and quiet our own minds to hear that little voice as it whispers what to do, we could be so much more focused than ever before.  I get caught on all the time for not listening to mine, sometimes my world is too loud to allow myself to hear such a soft sound within my busy mind.
When I do, when I have that control and focus enough to hear myself think, that's when I am at my best.  When my conscious becomes the unconscious and we work together as one powerful force.  If only I would have listened to it this morning when I was going out for my morning walk things may have turned out better.  It was a cool morning but I thought it would be ok, I hesitated for a moment at the front door, hand on door knob suddenly thinking I should really go back inside and get my beanie, I know what I'm like with the wind.  But no, I shrugged off that inner voice thinking "I'll be alright, I can't be bothered". 
Metres from home the wind started swirling around my head, I instantly regretted my decision, or rather lack of it, and soldiered on.  Half way through the walk I thought I had gotten away with it, then with a change of direction the wind suddenly picked up speed.  My very sensitive ears were bombarded with that whistling cold wind pummelling deep inside to bring on that awful ache that I so dread.  I soldiered on holding up my hands to try and shield myself from the wind, at this point looking quite ridiculous.  It started with a few droplets, then at least 1km from home the droplets became splashes and the splashes changed to what felt like shards of ice barrelling down on my head.  It was only at this time I remembered I was wearing a hoodie.  Idiot!  Pulled that up and headed home, cold, wet and annoyed.
If only I had listened to that whisper in my ear I wouldn't now have an ache in it!

13 September 2013

5 : Something Blue .... Ten house Firefighters

Ten House Fire Fighters
I just watched a documentary about the September 11 attacks on Foxtel last night, which was all about the Ten House NYC Fire Fighters http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-shows/911-firehouse/bios/bios.htm
It was a very interesting portrayal of what it was like for the first fire fighters arriving at the Trade Centre site.  Ten House is located on Liberty street closest to the Trade Centre site and remains there today, it has crews from Ladder 10 and Engine 10.  Their stories are worth watching, including all the harrowing tales of bravery and survival they have to tell.
Recently on a trip to New York my daughter and I visited the Memorial site which is still under construction and under extremely tight security.  We had booked our free tickets online and were very keen to get to the site on time for our allotted time slot.  It was a very hot New York summers day and we were very rushed to get there, crowds were thick surrounding the site.  In the process we rushed past the Ten House Fire Station and saw all the crowds of people and brass memorial sculptures, but didn't get a good chance to take a look.  I now wish we had made the time, especially after seeing the documentary on the Ten House fire fighters, it would have been good to have visited properly.
We were able to spend considerable time at the Memorial where we reflected upon the 2,977 deaths that happened that day, with more than 400 of those being first responders.  The two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers were an impressive sight, and I thought a very fitting memorial, with all the names of the victims inscribed in bronze parapets surrounding the pools.  The newly built and almost complete 1 World Trade Centre (previously affectionately known as the Freedom Tower) just beyond the north pool was very impressive, which at 1,776 feet is now the tallest building in the United States.
I was at University studying to be a Paramedic in 2001, and already a volunteer Ambulance Officer, when 911 happened.  The disaster has affected the way I have approached my job and it is a day that no one in the emergency services field will ever forget.   Many lessons were learnt that day.
After we had finished our visit we left the Memorial site and only a few streets away we heard a barrage of sirens echoing through the city.  Not an unusual sound for New York City, however, we realised they were heading our way.  Right in front of us a fire truck with lights flashing and sirens blaring pulled up to a stop, the crew got out and started evacuating a building opposite us.  Crowds were gathering in the street, including the workmen that had been working on the building that was being renovated and now evacuated.  There were reports of smoke, although we didn't see any at the time.  As other fire trucks and emergency vehicles continued to arrive we, like others in the gathering crowd, began to sheepishly take photo's of events unfolding.  Even the construction workmen were pulling out their mobile phones, so I didn't feel such a tourist in doing the same.
The whole time we stayed and watched them work, we had a strong feeling that these guys would have had something to do with September 11 as we were so close to the Memorial site.  I have just looked back at my photo's and discovered that without even knowing it at the time, we actually saw Ladder 10 in action, one of the very first fire trucks that had arrived on that fateful day.  I knew that the photo I took of the side of the fire truck listing names 'In Memory Of' would probably have had something to do with 911 losses.  It was a privilege to see these guys in action in their newly painted fire truck that had to be specially made post 9/11, as both their fire trucks were destroyed in the aftermath of the destruction of the towers, as was their fire house...

12 September 2013

5 : Something Borrowed - Remembering September 11

12 September in Australia was America's September 11
On this day in Australia 12 years ago we all woke up to the devastating news that America was under attack.  Some watched it live during the night and then didn't go to sleep, everyone will remember where they were when they found out that day.  Today is a day to reflect and remember all those that lost their lives, as well as the brave and selfless emergency services personnel that died just trying to do their jobs.  Acts of terrorism is something I will never understand, I will never understand how murdering innocent people can ever prove anything except for how sad humanity has become... 
On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m. on a clear Tuesday morning, an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The impact left a gaping, burning hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper, instantly killing hundreds of people and trapping hundreds more in higher floors. As the evacuation of the tower and its twin got underway, television cameras broadcasted live images of what initially appeared to be a freak accident. Then, 18 minutes after the first plane hit, a second Boeing 767–United Airlines Flight 175–appeared out of the sky, turned sharply toward the World Trade Center and sliced into the south tower near the 60th floor. The collision caused a massive explosion that showered burning debris over surrounding buildings and the streets below. America was under attack.
As millions watched the events unfolding in New York, American Airlines Flight 77 circled over downtown Washington, D.C., and slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. Jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a devastating inferno that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the giant concrete building. All told, 125 military personnel and civilians were killed in the Pentagon, along with all 64 people aboard the airliner.
Less than 15 minutes after the terrorists struck the nerve center of the U.S. military, the horror in New York took a catastrophic turn for the worse when the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. The structural steel of the skyscraper, built to withstand winds in excess of 200 miles per hour and a large conventional fire, could not withstand the tremendous heat generated by the burning jet fuel. At 10:30 a.m., the other Trade Center tower collapsed. Close to 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including a staggering 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority police officers who were struggling to complete an evacuation of the buildings and save the office workers trapped on higher floors. Only six people in the World Trade Center towers at the time of their collapse survived. Almost 10,000 others were treated for injuries, many severe.
Meanwhile, a fourth California-bound plane–United Flight 93–was hijacked about 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey. Because the plane had been delayed in taking off, passengers on board learned of events in New York and Washington via cell phone and Airfone calls to the ground. Knowing that the aircraft was not returning to an airport as the hijackers claimed, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned an insurrection. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett Jr., told his wife over the phone that "I know we're all going to die. There's three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey." Another passenger–Todd Beamer–was heard saying "Are you guys ready? Let's roll" over an open line. Sandy Bradshaw, a flight attendant, called her husband and explained that she had slipped into a galley and was filling pitchers with boiling water. Her last words to him were "Everyone's running to first class. I've got to go. Bye."
The passengers fought the four hijackers and are suspected to have attacked the cockpit with a fire extinguisher. The plane then flipped over and sped toward the ground at upwards of 500 miles per hour, crashing in a rural field in western Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed. Its intended target is not known, but theories include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard.

10 September 2013

5: Something Old, Something New - New Laws for Stillborn Babies under 20 Weeks Gestation in SA

Commemorative Certificate for Stillborn Babies Under 20 Weeks Gestation
New laws in South Australia are currently being considered as part of new legislation.  The debate is far from over with different groups lobbying against the bill.  It was all brought about by a courageous mother who suffered a terrible loss when her baby was born stillborn nearly 2 years ago at 19 weeks gestation.  She has been trying to change the current laws from only recognising life at 20 weeks gestation, in order to recognize the birth and, therefore, death of her son.  If he had been stillborn a week later he would have been legally considered a 'person' and had a birth and death certificate issued.  Although this may sound unimportant to some, to a mother and family who have just lost their precious baby it is extremely important.
Although the new laws are not yet passed, it has been recommended that in the interim parents of children who were stillborn between 12 and 19 weeks gestation can now apply for a 'commemorative' certificate to recognise their child.  It is a certificate only and not to be used for any official purposes, however, it does feature the date and location of the birth, the baby's weight if known, gestation and any names of parents and other siblings.
For some parents having this official acknowledgement that their child did indeed exist, means a lot.  There are other groups debating that if this was to become law it would affect women's rights to abortions.  Although women should have the right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, that is their choice and this law should not interfere with that process.  However, this legislation is not designed to hinder the right to choose abortion, it is about women and families who have lost a baby and are suffering from an overwhelming loss and grief.  About acknowledging that their child was indeed 'alive' and was a real person. 
When you lose a child through miscarriage there are no avenues available for formal grief.  There is nothing to bury, no official death certificate to show your baby even existed.  Although there are some women that may not become attached to their babies until they are born, a large majority of women fall in love with their babies and are connected to them in ways that can not be explained.  They and their family look to the future and imagine a full life for them well before they step foot on the earth.  The news of a baby coming means many plans need to be made, expectations for that life have already commenced.  Any siblings are excited, names are picked, clothes bought and a room is set aside in the home.  When those plans all of a sudden drastically change, forever, there are no words for the grief that follows.
Other people don't know what to say, or how to act.  Kind well wishers may attempt to try and say 'never mind you can try again' or 'it was obviously not meant to be'.  Even though these are empty words no mother really wants to hear, at least the people that say these words are trying to be kind and are acknowledging there was a loss.  However, these comments are only very fleeting, most people move on quicker than the parents themselves are able to.  No one wants to speak of the 'loss' in fear of upsetting the parents, but in not doing so the 'child' does not become acknowledged and the parents grief is brushed aside. 
No matter how small their baby was, or the fact that they could never have survived outside the womb, for the parents their 'foetus' was a baby.  Sometimes the parents have already felt their baby move, or seen their moving image on an ultrasound monitor.  When they see this moving child, complete with all the organs necessary to sustain life, heart beating strongly, they are reassured their child is real, a baby.   If someone has a heart beat and then it stops, then they must have died.  If they died, then they must have lived!
The word miscarriage doesn't do justice to the process of losing a tiny perfectly formed human being, the word foetus is an insult to those who know they had a baby.  When a mother loses a baby, no matter what the gestation, it will always be a 'baby' to her and therefore a 'life' that has died.  She and her family suffer a loss.  A loss that should be acknowledged, a life that should be cherished.
At the very least, if the commemorative certificate is the only thing that is given to parents in the future, at least this is an acknowledgement that a human being existed, that they were loved and given a name by parents who wanted them.  In that process they lost, they can grieve and they can hopefully move on and always remember how special that little person was to them, no matter how short a time they were in their parents lives...
 "There is no foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world"
Author Unknown
... forever in our hearts Amelie Minnie Martin
11/2/08 - 25/4/08

07 September 2013

4 : Something Blue ... Bed Wetting!

Bed Wetting
The sight of a soaked mattress which has just been hosed clean, again, out front of our house is not particularly unusual.  It's not something you see in front of everyone's house, but I guarantee you it's a problem in many homes.  Bed wetting is one of the big issues in many people's homes at least at some stages in their lives, but it is generally NOT talked about.  There are probably many mattresses drying out back of people's homes, after all you don't want your neighbours talking!
Well I couldn't care less what the neighbour's thought, and if someone was brave enough to steal it then go right ahead I say.  It's all an unfortunate part of growing up, one of those taboo topics that many parents don't want to discuss when their friends are bragging their children are dry in the night and 'never' have an accident.  I recently looked up on the internet information about bed wetting and was surprised at what I discovered.
There are three main causes of bedwetting:
  • the inability to waken to a full bladder
  • the bladder becomes overactive at night and cannot store urine, or
  • the kidneys make a large amount of urine at night and the bladder has difficulty holding this. 
Bedwetting is NOT caused by:
  • being young for your age
  • laziness
  • bad behaviour
  • rebelliousness, or
  • drinking after dinner.
Some illnesses are linked with bedwetting, however most children who wet the bed do not have major health problems. http://www.continence.org.au/pages/bedwetting.html
Waking in the middle of the night to change your child's sheets after a bedwetting episode is practically a rite of passage for parents. And it's more common than you think.
"I call it the hidden problem of childhood," says Howard Bennett, MD, a pediatrician and author of Waking Up Dry: A Guide to Help Children Overcome Bedwetting. "Unlike asthma or allergies, it's just not talked about outside the house."

Bedwetting: The Secret Problem

That secrecy about bedwetting makes the situation tougher for kids and parents alike. "Ninety percent of kids think they're the only ones who wet the bed, which makes them feel even worse," says Bennett.
Yet bed-wetting children are far from alone. Though children naturally gain bladder control at night, they do so at different ages. From 5 to 7 million kids wet the bed some or most nights -- with twice as many boys wetting their bed as girls. After age 5, about 15% of children continue to wet the bed, and by age 10, 95% of children are dry at night.
Wet beds leave bad feelings all around. Frustrated parents sometimes conclude a child is wetting the bed out of laziness. Kids worry there's something wrong with them -- especially when teasing siblings chime in. Fear of wetting the bed at a friend's sleepover can create social awkwardness.
For some, bedwetting may be an inevitable part of growing up, but it doesn't have to be traumatic. Understanding bed-wetting's causes is the first step to dealing with this common childhood problem.

The Bedwetting Gene

There's no one single cause of bed-wetting, but if you want an easy target, look no farther than your own DNA.
"The majority of bedwetting is inherited," says Bennett. "For three out of four kids, either a parent or a first-degree relative also wet the bed in childhood."
Scientists have even located some of the specific genes that lead to delayed nighttime bladder control. (For the record, they're on chromosome 13, 12, and 8.)
"Most parents who had the same problem communicate it to their kids, which is good," suggests Bennett. "It helps a kid understand, I'm not alone, it's not my fault."

The Usual Bedwetting Suspects

Yet genetics only tells part of the story. Researchers have identified a number of factors that likely contribute to bedwetting. "All of these are debated, but each probably plays a role in some children," says Bennett, including:
  • Delayed bladder maturation. "Simply put, the brain and bladder gradually learn to communicate with each other during sleep, and this takes longer to happen in some kids," Bennett tells WebMD.
  • Low anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). This hormone tells the kidneys to make less urine. Studies show that some kids who wet the bed release less of this hormone while asleep. More urine can mean more bedwetting.
  • Deep sleepers. "Families have been telling us for years that their children who wet the bed sleep more deeply than their kids that don't," says Bennett. Research confirms the link. "Some of these children sleep so deeply, their brain doesn't get the signal that their bladder is full."
  • Smaller "functional" bladder. Although a child's true bladder size may be normal, "during sleep, it sends the signal earlier that it's full," says Bennett. 
  • Constipation. Full bowels press on the bladder, and can cause uncontrolled bladder contractions, during waking or sleep. "This is the one that's hiding in the background," says Bennett. "Once kids are toilet trained, parents often don't know how often a child is going ... [they're] out of the 'poop loop.''


06 September 2013

4 : Something Borrowed ... Dr Wayne Dyer

Dr Wayne Dyer
I had the pleasure of listening to Dr Wayne Dyer at a Writer's Workshop in Melbourne last month, he was very inspiring, even though we only got to watch a previous recording played out on a huge screen.  He couldn't be there in person as the day before he got sick on stage and had to be hospitalised.  He is a speaker regarding self development and an author of many books on the subject, he is a very interesting guy to listen to.  When Dr Dyer took ill the day before, a medical doctor happened to be in the audience and volunteered to go back stage to help out.
For my session the story of what happened was relayed to us all.  The medical doctor that had come to listen to Dr Dyer had actually only decided to become a doctor after being inspired by Dr Dyer when he heard him speak as a youth.  He was so inspired that he followed his dreams and had always wanted to have the opportunity to listen to Dr Dyer again, he never forgot what motivated him to become the doctor he now was.  Amazingly Dr Dyer was treated years later by someone he had himself inspired!

"WAYNE W. DYER, PH.D., is an internationally renowned author and speaker in the field of self-development. He's the author of over 30 books, has created many audio programs and videos, and has appeared on thousands of television and radio shows.

Dyer holds a Doctorate in Educational Counseling from Wayne State University and was an associate professor at St. John's University in New York.

Dr. Wayne Dyer is affectionately called the “father of motivation” by his fans. Despite his childhood spent in orphanages and foster homes, Dr. Dyer has overcome many obstacles to make his dreams come true. Today he spends much of his time showing others how to do the same.
When he's not traveling the globe delivering his uplifting message, Wayne is writing from his home in Maui." http://www.drwaynedyer.com/about/


04 September 2013

4 : Something Old becomes Something New ...

Affairs of the Heart Affect the Heart
"Affairs of the heart affect the heart" is what my Cardiologist told me this week!  What does this mean?  Well, it means that our emotional heart affects our biological heart.  Therefore, if we are going through an emotionally tough time, so does our heart.  Stress has many effects on the human body, in more ways than we usually care to acknowledge.  Often if something is physically wrong with us it is actually a symptom that can run much deeper...
I usually pride myself on being matter of fact and up with what is going on in my own body, and yet this time it snuck up on me without warning.  As I was approaching 40 it was probably time to get a service and tune at the docs, especially as I was noticing disturbing palpations occurring more regularly than even I could ignore.  Not known for worrying about such things, my usual plan of ignorance hadn't seemed to work, so I relented and scheduled my half century check up :)
Happy to report that all along there was never any reason to have avoided getting my cholesterol checked as mine is all perfect.  As is my blood pressure, my hearts capacity to cope with an increase in rate and all my other blood results.  Turns out I'm not fit, but I already knew that.  I don't care if they reckon 'Global Warming' gave us a warmer winter.  It certainly wasn't warm here at 6am for a my frosty morning walk, it was basically still the middle of the night!  It seemed much more appropriate that I stay in bed during those mornings than go for my walk, so yeah I already knew I wasn't fit.  So then why would my heart have these episodes of 'missing a beat' followed by a huge rush of blood, which felt like being punched from the inside out?
I decided one night at work, when I was particularly disturbed by the irregular banging going on in my chest, to do my own 12 lead ECG.  The ECG revealed that I was having a high number of PVC's, an interruption to the normal electrical activity of the heart and, therefore, also to the blood flow.  A lot of people can have these benign episodes from time to time, so not usually a big deal.  However, I was getting them more regularly than ever and, as I was watching my own ECG, I was not liking what I was seeing.  There was only one solution.  To remove the ECG so I didn't have to see it as well as feel it and make a cuppa to de-stress me!
For those of you that know anything about such things, you will know that caffeine certainly will not help and more than likely is the causal factor!  In addition, sleep deprivation, dehydration and having a very busy life all contribute, but that was just everyday life for me.  So why now? Oddly enough after I had the results from wearing the halter monitor, which monitors your every heart beat for 24 hours, I stopped stressing about it.  They eased, significantly.
By the time my appointment finally arrived to see a very popular Cardiologist they were virtually non existent.  I can say that the five month  and two hour wait to see her was well worth it.  She lived up to her reputation of being both eccentric and exceptional.  I mean any doctor that brings their two pet dogs in to their professional office with them has to be pretty cool!  One of them just lies on her desk as she is able to fluently describe your exact condition and the other diligently follows her every move, including going out into the waiting room and accompany you for all your tests.  Yeah she was well worth the wait and a very funny and practical lady.  I had already dealt with her in a professional manner and knew she was the one to see if you ever had anything wrong with your ticker.
Now when she mentioned all the age old things that lead to these problems, I thought yeah, yeah I know all that.  But really, all that stuff is just everyday for me.  Then she mentioned stress and after momentarily brushing it off, I actually stopped and thought about the timing of it all, it hit me like a tonne of bricks.   Bam!  Like a stunned mullet I sat there staring blankly out the window, barely noticing the dog shifting position on her desk, and then I knew, I knew why. 
I recalled how it had begun to be a noticeable problem at the beginning of the year, although I had noticed it for many years it had never troubled me before.  However, during those first few months of 2013 it had become so bad that even I couldn't ignore it.  Thinking back I recalled how the start of this year had been one of the worst and most stressful times in my life, and that is really saying something!  A time that all the issues of the past caught up with me in the most unexpected way and from the most unexpected people.  It hit me for a six and left me wondering where I stood in my own life and what it all meant.
So there you go, those "Affairs of the Heart" did indeed "Affect my Heart", the emotional turmoil and stress that I had been suppressing had surfaced right where it started, in my heart!  It is a lot better now, because I am a lot better now.  I have learnt, this year, to channel my feelings elsewhere and not have to bottle them up.  To 'let go' of the past and the ever present 'painful stressors' that will never go away unless I let them.  I have learnt to be finally at peace with myself and realise that I cannot change anyone else, I can only find my own path to follow and be happy with that.  To try and be thankful for all that I have that is wonderful in my life.  For there is so much to be thankful for. 
After all I am the luckiest girl in the World!  I am loved by my wonderful husband and six children; they are all happy and successful and I am so proud of the people they are becoming.  I have a great job and I am good at it, I have my fish to care for and my new Zen Den to unleash my writing.  I have a beautiful home in a wonderfully safe and picturesque valley and we have enough money to put food on the table and pay our bills.  I am at peace with all of that now, and every day I am getter a little bit closer to accepting that that is enough... I can only be responsible for how I feel and how I see the world, if others don't want to do that, that is not my problem. 
I am free, and my heart is beating regularly...
My original ECG ...

01 September 2013

3 : Something Blue - Blue Skies of Spring!

Blue Skies - First Day of Spring!
What a beautiful day to celebrate the first day of Spring for 2013!  Gorgeous sunshine, blue skies and Spring blossoms bursting in full bloom.  What a brilliant start to Spring and a perfect Fathers Day to all the Aussie Dad's out there ....

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