Category Archives: Family

PM provides inspiration to help US, HELP our kids thru 2020

This morning, PM Morrison provided Australian parents an early Christmas present with the announcement of the NSW/NT/NZ travel bubble.

While the PM was doing this, I was engaged in a deep conversation with medical professionals about the mental health crisis affecting our school kids in Sydney and the increased number of suicides of our northern sydney teens in 2020.

Any suicide is one too many, but frankly it shocked me into a frenzy of hypotheses, which sort to understand the impact of previous school and social shutdowns.

While it is unprecedented in our lifetime, the experience of ‘shutdown’ is ripe in Australia’s national memory.

You see, 2020 is not the first time Australian school children have lost the privilege of an education in a school environment.

In World War II, students 1-6 only attended schools in the mornings. Kindergarten students not at all and this was only in those regions who could open due to a teacher shortage.

Heading to the archives to see how government, schools and families approached the closure of schools during World World II, I stumbled across this:

Imagine if our current world leaders – both near and far – took a leaf out of PM Curtain’s book…

Why I’m Walking for Lifehouse

A healthy life not utilised, is wasted. 

Unhealthy is much more fun…

Until you’ve heard the words ‘It’s cancer’ from the mouths of family or friends.

Then healthy becomes the only thing you care about.

Three out of the five members of my immediate family have survived The Big C.

Selfishly, I’m doing the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse 28km Walk with Lifehouse Coastal Trek later this month because I’m an inaugural member of an amazing group of humans called Lyndal’s Pink Gems who also share a tenuous relationship with Cancer.

We’ve been ‘in training’ now for a couple of months (in between life’s many distractions).

We’re hoping to complete the course in about 5 hours or so, but we’re not as interested in time taken, as we are in time spent. Together.

My team: Lyndal’s Pink Gems

Captains extraordinaire Christie and JA will ensure everyone is together and supported as needs arise.

Jodie’s handbag will contain the essentials, and while a few will be orienting themselves with a camelbak for the first time, all will be focused on propelling each other towards successful conquering of an unknown terrain with a smile and a strong sense of purpose.

Much like everyone’s journey with The Big C.

We won’t have our wonderful support crew by our side on this particular venture, but we will have each other and that means more wonderful and memorable moments made and shared.

We do have 28 kilometres of Royal National Park to cover afterall!

Warning: This is where I ask you for your loose change

So….if you are able to support an amazing group of humans at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse treat people, not just cancer, please help us raise funds by DONATING HERE 

Every dollar makes sense.

What’s the true cost of Marriage Equality?

magda-and-ahnThis is one of the best interviews I’ve ever seen.

Great depth in storytelling, empathy with subject and not surprisingly, it got me thinking…

What does it cost to enable people who love each other to marry?

Rightly or Wrongly: Judgement is a human and societal default 

Modern western society judges a woman’s worth by two things:

  1. her ability to get married
  2. her production of offspring.

I’d like to say this isn’t the case, but as a woman who lived her first 40 years as single and baron, this has been my experience.

However, from the moment I was carried across the proverbial threshold and married, people treated me differently.

It was somehow like I’d finally hit my straps and was now ‘a success’.

Even my family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances seemed to breathe a subconscious sigh of relief . A 20 year career was nice, but irrelevant. What about kids?

It is for this reason I don’t participate in public declarations of wedded and family bliss.

If I get anything that asks me to publicly promote the perfect happiness of married life (what I use to call smug married couples) or life as a perfectly happy parent, I ignore it.

When declarations of love are that important, I like to keep them private, because I know what a privilege they truly are.

As a sign of respect for my friends and the other members of our society who are denied the life changing, socially liberating institutions of marriage and parenthood, I refrain.

While Mother Nature plays her part in determining the path to parenthood, marriage is freely available for all … men who love women and vice versa.

So why do we as a progressive society flatly deny same sex couples, the same privilege?.

Gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer (GLBTQ*) members of our society can have a commitment ceremony. Which as luck would have it, is also available for heterosexual couples as well and increasingly the preference for couples.

But why do we value men who sleep with women, over people who identify with other sexual orientations?

And what is the cost to society if we were to open the option of choice to GLBTQ members in our society?

This is probably where we learn from historical debates on the value of social inclusion:

  • What’s the cost of giving women the vote?
  • What’s the cost of including indigenous Australians on the census?
  • What’s the cost of giving indigenous Australians the vote?

Magda.png

She doesn’t say it, but Magda was psychologically victimised as a child by both legislators and society by not being exposed to ‘her normal’.

Keep in mind, being gay in Australia in the 70’s was considered a mental illness, conflated with paedophelia and downright illegal.

Ironically, the same public who proudly lauded her brilliance and celebrated her public successes include the legislators who continue to restrict her freedoms.

How many other children have been (and continue to be) victimised by our ‘societal norms’? What is normal anyway?

What is the real cost of enabling people who love each other to enjoy the priviledge of the institution of marriage?

Being respectful of others doesn’t cost us a thing. Judgement costs both sides.

Why are we legislating who someone can officially marry based on sex? Shall we try doing it on eye colour too? It’s just as ridiculous.

Same sex marriage doesn’t ruin the moral fibre of a society, it enables it.

Who are we not to support ALL our children by providing them with the range of norms to truly represent the diversity of persons and persuasions in our community?

The Anglican church doesn’t have a problem with same sex marriage.

The Catholic church I’m not sure about, but how can they? The whole premise of a priest’s commitment to God, sees him married to a man.

Governments should not legislate love. They should nurture generation now and next, by acknowledging diversity and not regurgitating the stereotypes of yesteryear.

Nothing founded in ignorance and constructed to promote an ideal rather than reality enables anything but judgement.

Thank you Magda for being so eloquent in both your observations and intent.

To any rationally thinking legislator, marriage equality is a no brainer.

To those who feel the need to debate the pros and cons, to research and formally report findings: your process driven approach while well intentioned, is still robbing fellow Australian’s of their civil rights.

Why are you better, more moral or normal than anyone else?

I look forward to the day that every Australian has the option to be married.

#DontLegislateNature #NurtureRespect

 

*I hope I have used the correct terminology. If I haven’t, please let me know via Twitter @TiffannyJunee or in the comments section below

Embarrassing Bodies

My husband is head chef in our house.

During my pregnancy, I ate like the Wallaby tight five during the off season.

The first three months after our daughter was born, I was breastfeeding (or expressing) every couple of hours. Not surprisingly, my appetite was nothing short of voracious.

Somewhere between three and four months, we organically reverted to a ‘working day’ routine, which meant I began to breastfeed in the morning and then again in the evening, introducing Mother Formula for the other feeds.

Neither my husband nor I have ever bothered engaging in any of the stress-filled ‘to formula or not to formula’ debates that can put the most confident of new parents into a state of flux.

Our approach has served us (or at least our new parent sanity) well, but we’ve also developed a team of trusted advisors along the way.

So true to form, we followed the recommendations of our midwife re: best baby formula to use and haven’t looked back.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’d looked ‘back’ at any time prior to our annual trip to the skin cancer clinic.

As we’re both in our 40’s and we’ve always been ‘outdoorsy’ types, an annual skin check is a must. Thankfully, neither one of us has ever had any cause for concern during these visits…until this week.

However, it wasn’t the ‘flaking paint’ the doctor froze off my forehead and nose in six different spots that concerned me.

It was disrobing.

You see, on my last visit, I’d been fit and fabulous.

And while after having bub, I was actually the trimmest I’d ever been – thanks to the physics of breastfeeding, over the last month or so, I have not only developed ‘the mummy (leg) wobble’, but also a post natal paunch to rival the sturdiest of marsupials.

So there I was, topless and in my best granny undies, when I felt compelled to reflect (and correct myself) on when my thighs had turned into unstable tree trunks, and my tummy had developed a certain ‘dough’ quality to it.

While there’s nothing quite like pregnancy to suck the elasticity out of your skin, the reality was a lot less exciting.

Irrespective of whether you’ve just given birth, or never given birth, you are what you eat.

And never was that truer than now when I had to admit to myself, that despite dropping to only 3 or 4 feeds a day, I was still eating like I had been when I was feeding bub 10 – 12 times a day.

I don’t eat junk food or drink soft drinks. I am gluten and dairy free and since falling pregnant (and while breastfeeding) now caffeine free (which is a lot harder for a chocoholic than it should be).

What I have been doing however, is eating a plate full of food at each meal and going back for seconds or thirds.

While it is a testament to my husband’s amazing culinary efforts, inspite of the home cooked, low-fat meals prepared for my dining pleasure, overeating I had to admit, had become the norm, rather than the exception to my daily behaviour.

I really hate thinking, let alone talking about not being happy with my body.

I’ve seen too many young women struggle with body image and the physical, emotional and psychological effects of eating disorders.

However, there comes a time in every woman’s life when you have to stop, reflect (honestly) and decide to reprogram bad habits into a positive move towards being the best possible version of yourself.

So this weekend, I took control. I had to.

I’m blessed with great genes, but they’re of the athletic variety and unless you’re moving and eating lean, they’re of little benefit when you’re carb loading for the fun of it.

So far, so good.

Although, consciously monitoring my number of portions has been proving a little harder than it should have been. I’ve already learnt how to ignore my tummy as it grumbles in disgust.

Remember: I’m not doing this to be skinny. I’m doing this to feel healthy again, after consciously changing my eating habits from nurturing two back to one.

It’s not a quick fix. It’s a conscious effort over time.

Wish me luck! 🙂

 

Let your effort speak louder than your mouth

NFL star DeAngelo Williams has over 9 million views and 150,000 shares of a video he posted on his official Facebook page this week.

The video explains why he returned his daughters participation ribbon at her recent sports carnival.
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Participation is fun in the moment, but the rewards are limited to the effort required to achieve.

Who wants their child to strive towards participation, when they can win?

Admittedly there is a real chance they’ll fail – but it’s a fundamental life lesson that develops the person – not an entitled product of parental management.

What kind of child do you have?

A participant or a kid that strives to do their best…?

I know which one I’ll be encouraging my kids to be.

 

 

Even going to the footy has changed.

Today I took my daughter to her first rugby match.

The annual local ANZAC day derby between Easts and Randwick down at Coogee Oval – the home of the best known Australian club in the rugby world.

I grew up on the sidelines of football fields all over New South Wales, but until today had never realised how dangerous the rugby pitch and surrounds truly is.

  • Kids honing their skills in between the grandstands
  • Smokers puffing away on the hill
  • Swinging shoulder bags; and
  • Snow storms.

Today, I went as a new mum, with my precious bundle of new bub  – well 4 month old).

Determined to maintain some level of fitness, we walked down to Coogee and enjoyed the warmth of the winter sun.

It was only while standing on the sidelines, that we watched the black clouds start rolling in.

Making the conscious decision to get moving before the skies opened, as we started up the hill my husband and I debated whether we had enough time to make it before the rain set in.

We only managed a few 100 metres when the largest drops of rain foretold the story of saturation for all if we continued with our folly.

Needless to say, we made a beeline for our favourite trusty cafe – Tropicana to sit this one out.

Having settled us in, DH (Darling Husband) set off for home to get the car – our only real option unless we wanted to stay overnight at the cafe – in the now blackened skies (despite it being before 5pm) and torrential rain.

An hour and a half later, my husband pulled the car up in front of the cafe with ‘snow’ blanketing the roof.

This was Coogee, not Cortina!

Admittedly, this wasn’t your typical day out to the rugby, but it did highlight some keys ‘must haves’ for going out, for no matter how long.

  1. Things change, so be prepared – we didn’t have an all weather protector for the pram with us. Rendering it useless for all intents and purposes once the weather set in.
  2. Have a plan B and plan C – always. It’s easier in the long run.
  3. Always have $20 for an emergency in the bottom of your pram – you’ll thank yourself for it one day
  4. Surrender to the fact – your schedule is now fluid. It just takes the stress out of everything.
  5. Always have spare formula/food on hand – I was lucky because I was breastfeeding, so that essentially made bub the easiest part of the scenario.
  6. When you go to the local footy game – keep bub in the pram, with the cover up and you’ll reduce your stress by about 1000%! 🙂

 

 

 

Self aware celebrity #NeverTooLate

Posting a photo of yourself four weeks post partum carrying the comment ‘I’m finally getting my stomach back’ is a new mum’s post of excitement.

After playing host for 9 months then fulfilling the roles of: dedicated milk bar, cleaner, general slave to any and every need of your newborn, a mum is entitled to get excited about getting a little of her ‘sexy’ self back.

As someone who had completely underestimated the joy of merely seeing my bikini line post bub’s arrival, I think it imperative – in light of Instagram and Facebook posts from former beauty pageant contestant, Erin McNaught and other ‘celebrities’ – that both men and women remember there’s a line that differentiates us all…called genetics.

It is these inherited genes that play a significant role in post partum body types.

Additionally, it’s also important for ALL to remember that social media technologies enable a private peek into the lives of the genetically blessed leaving those of us without washboard abs to wonder what we’re doing wrong.

Only if we let it…

Personally, I think Erin looks great and I’m happy (if not slightly hopeful my 40 year old skin will jump back with half of the  elastic glory) her 32 year old frame has done!

I’m sure she has been working out, watching what she eats and generally looking after herself.

If she’s breast feeding even better – as no doubt those uterine contractions are going to contribute positively to her postpartum recovery.

But what about the other new mums who follow Erin on Instagram?

Those women who may have suffered bloat and are struggling not only with the demands of being a new mum but with trying to be a desirable woman…?

Celebrity used to mean you were famous for being good at something.

Sadly that hasn’t been the case for the past decade or two, so much so that anyone willing to have a opinion, access to a camera phone and a willingness to share private pictures and stories is considered newsworthy for others.

In an era where you can be worshipped for wearing an attitude as ferocious as the price of the designer clothes your parents pay for, I encourage all new mums to stop and contemplate for a moment.

1) Is my baby safe?

2) Is my baby feeding well?

3) Is my baby fulfilling all the ‘output’ requirements as identified in pictures and print on a laminated A4 card that was dutifully handed around the new parenting class (and memorised by my husband!)

4) Am I managing to get a little rest in between feeds?

5) Am I eating well?

6) Am I drinking lots of water?

7) Am I managing to have a shower each day?

If you answered yes to most of the above, then I think you’re doing pretty well.

At the end of the day, if bub’s happy,you’re already half way to ecstatically chuffed that you’re bluffing your way through this new parent caper exceptionally well! 🙂

One of the most profound discoveries for me, on falling pregnant was the impact on social discourse with other women.

When you fall pregnant the way you interact with other women changes. From female relatives, life long friends, colleagues, students, acquaintances and even pseudo friends, the learnings are key.

As an older mum, I think you’re also acutely aware of how privileged you are to:

a) have fallen pregnant,

b) carried to term

c) be blessed with a healthy bub.

Which in turn, (I’d like to think) enables you to be more cogniscant of other women’s struggles around procreation and building upon little families in your 40’s.

Personally, I’d like to see a slightly more measured approach from our so called ‘celebrities’ in support of new mums around parenting expectations (you’re going to be flying blind, so ask as many questions as you need to build confidence, because this new parenting roller coaster is 50% knowledge acquisition in the flash of a brief hospital stay and 50% confidence). #Seriously.

No book can prepare you for where your first hurdle will lay.

For me, when my obstetrician, placed my baby on my belly after birth, I was a crying dribbling mess.

I couldn’t believe how clever my husband and I were – and how insanely awesome Mother Nature truly is.

I was also petrified.

Seeing my hesitation, my obstetrician gently encouraged me to take the baby. Instantly, I seemed to have grown eight arms of which I had absolutely no control over.

“I don’t know how” I admitted.

“She’s your baby Tiff, work it out. You won’t hurt her.”

It was the best thing he could have said to me.

I’d carried her for the better part of 9 months (well 8 and a bit to be specific) and it was on her father and I who she would now be reliant, so I didn’t have the luxury of hiding behind my fears.

I had to jump in and step up.

Which is all any of us can endeavour to do to the best of our ability as novices on the new parent treadmill.

…and if we see our friends or celebrity types with washboard abs four months after a visit to the delivery suite, rather than bemoan the jelly belly you still wear like a badge of honour, embrace the fact genetics, diet and lifestyle play a huge part in our ability to recover expeditiously from the inordinate stress carrying a baby puts on your body.

After all, one gassy smile or cross-eyed eye roll is all it takes to remind us, this journey isn’t so much about us, as it is inherently about them! 🙂

Blood Sports From The Sidelines

In football, as in war, blood is a call sign.

However, more often than not, the worst of injuries show no signs of crimson at all.

This morning while checking in for my morning news fix, I went cold.

My response physical to a still image of a young man being tackled by three men, his neck position all wrong.

An image, that as a spectator with kin on the professional football field I dreaded and hoped I’d never see.

Not surprisingly, today my heart (and healing prayers) go out to Newcastle Knights back rower, Alex McKinnon and his friends and family.

For sadly, they’re living every sporting family’s nightmare.

I’m not going to repost the news story, nor its imagery here. I saw it once and to be honest, it still haunts me.

When Alex walks out of the hospital I might have a change of heart, and here’s hoping that’s one day soon…

My thoughts are also with Coach Bennett, who is no doubt fighting his own demons this week having taken the rookie with him to the industrial heartland, The Chief famously claimed as ‘My Newcastle’, back in 2013.

I didn’t watch the Newcastle/ Storm game, but I knew something went sadly awry when a friend of mine, John, was vehemently chastising a Storm player for questioning a penalty after ‘the incident’.

You see, my friend John, who I have spoken about here before (and his family) have lived the blood sports nightmare.

He is also the one who pointed out to me that we should also be supporting those members of the Storm involved in the tackle.

Those guys will also no doubt be experiencing moments of guilt around the incident, wondering what they could have done differently…

Sadly, sometimes these ‘incidents’ are simply tragic accidents where ‘fault’ lines are blurred and lives of those involved changed irrevocably because a ‘sorry’ won’t fix a spinal cord.

While we are all more than a little aware of the dangers of the codes of football we treat with religious fervour in this country, none of us ever want to see a young athlete halted in his prime.

My thoughts and prayers are with the McKinnon family and their support network. I hope only good news for all of you throughout the coming weeks and months.

They are now also, thanks to John Tassone, with the Storm players who were involved especially the young McLean.

Fingers crossed for only good news for Alex from hereon in.