Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An inconvenient truth


Chemicals are all around us, so how can we prevent them from harming our children?


Ever wondered why more children are diagnosed with autism or ADHD or asthma?
It is “no coincidence that with the increase in toxic chemicals in the world, there is also an increase in health problems that are affecting our children, or have their origins in childhood“.
The above statement was written by Dr Sarah Lantz – a writer, researcher and mother – who is visiting Cairns next week.
In her book Chemical Free Kids – Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World, she shows how chemicals in the environment play a critical role in our health and wellbeing.
Dr Lantz says her goal in writing the book is to better understand chemicals and their impact on the body, particularly those of young children.
What makes a chemical toxic? How are children exposed to chemicals? How can we implement health changes and reduce their harmful effects?

Dollars and sense



The cost of sending children to school is increasing, but there are ways to recoup some of that money

Every morning when my daughter gets ready for school, I can’t help but notice how worn her school shoes have become - and it’s still the first term!
Part of me is pleased she is keeping them on her feet, not complaining of blisters, and is making great use of the playgrounds and sandpit at Prep.
While the other part of me wonders why I bought an expensive pair of black leather shoes (because I thought it was the right thing to do to support her growing feet) and how much it will cost to buy another pair.
I recently read an article by finance writer and mum Justine Davies about the cost of sending children to school, and it is surprising just how much we spend.
Without taking into consideration school fees which obviously vary from one school to another, there are all the other expenses such as uniforms, books, shoes, bag, lunchbox, hat, stationery and so on.
Some schools charge a classroom contribution fee to include the books and stationery requirements, while others have a book list.
Research by Clarks found that on average parents are forking out around $600 to get their kids to school (that’s before school fees, lunches and other ongoing costs).

Monday, March 14, 2011

The power of gratitude


Feeling down in the dumps? Look around, inspiration and happiness is right in front of you


As I sat down at my computer to write this week’s column, I looked around and noticed behind a growing pile of paperwork, photo frames, calendars, CDs and other shrapnel, there is a cork board which I had turned into a “vision board”.
And to my amazement almost everything on it has come true.
Vision boards are a tool used to activate the law of attraction which aims to manifest your dreams into reality.
The board is simply a collection of drawings, cut-out pictures, writing or lists of things that you want in your life or the things that you want to become.
I first made one out of sheer desperation about 18 months ago when my husband and I were on struggle street
A few months later, things started to change for the better, and whether the board helped or not, it did keep me thinking positively when our situation seemed dire.
Like most people my family has goals and dreams, and every day we talk about how we’re going to get there.
Looking at our vision board, one of the really big goals which seemed impossible to reach 18 months ago, came true on Saturday.
As I ticked off all the things that had come into our lives that we had dreamed of, I realised I did not have the really, REALLY important stuff on there.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Young linguists

Learning another language is an important part of our children’s schooling

HANDS up if someone in your household can speak a second language – my hand is held high because my husband speaks Afrikaans.
Statistics gathered in 2006 show that 11.9 per cent of Far Northerners (around 45,850 people) speak a language other than English at home.
This might not seem like a great number, but it’s actually the highest in the state and evidence that languages are one of the ways we define ourselves, our culture and our country.
Among some of the languages spoken in this part of the world are Japanese, Italian, Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin), Dutch, Australian Indigenous languages, Torres Strait Island languages, German, French, Tagalog, Croatian, Greek, Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, Filipino and Spanish.
Now when I was growing up, my school didn’t have a language teacher, so I was never taught, nor had the opportunity, to learn a second language.
But I’m very glad my daughters will have that opportunity in their future schooling.
Recently, the Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Languages draft paper was released, proposing that students from year 3 learn a language. The paper, released by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, provides a broad conceptualisation of the languages learning area that, once finalised, will be used to guide development of the languages curriculum from Prep to year 12.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What's that smell?


You know there’s trouble when you can smell it before you see it


The bad smell started about a week ago.
After a lot of rain, I thought that perhaps my car had a leak and water had got into the interior.
Every time I got in to go somewhere, I was hit with this strange stench that was gradually getting worse.
I looked for a leak, but found none.
I looked for a dirty nappy that perhaps had been left in the car, but found none.
What I did find was a week-old cheerio.
You know those cute little red sausages kids love to eat at birthday parties?
One of those (thankfully still wrapped in a plastic bag) was shoved down the side of my daughter’s car seat.
I had bought some for her while on a shopping trip and she had been snacking on them when we drove home.
It didn’t occur to me that she hadn’t finished them all.
It’s another milestone of motherhood because funny smells are part and parcel of raising children.