Being Safe Online – thinking long term!

I joined Facebook a few years ago. I was newly single and did a fair share of partying. Back then social medial was pretty new, we didn’t think much of the long term impact of what we were doing so we shared a lot more (well I did anyway). There were a large number of pictures of me at parties, having a good time, drink in hand. No big deal right? I mean we all did and we all wanted to share the good time.

I have removed most of those photos, not because I am embarrassed or have regrets but because my children are getting older now and I don’t really want them seeing some of those pictures.

Recently I was scrolling through one of my twitter feed and noticed drunk photos being posted by teenagers. It was done innocently, they weren’t shaming friends, it was nothing sinister BUT there are now drunk pictures with that persons name attached on the world wide web. These kids haven’t started looking for jobs yet or applying to university but they now have drunk pictures as part of their online footprint. Should a potential employer google them, these are the things they will find. Should they one day find themselves in a custody battle, these photos can be used against them.

I check what Cameron shares on his Facebook feed, he s 12, he doesn’t always make smart choices and often doesn’t even fully understand cartoons or jokes and I don’t want one click of a share button to label him something he isn’t. We all know how unforgiving the internet can be, especially when we mess up.

When I was young we had to have our photos developed and you could only make copies if you had the negatives. So one photo couldn’t really travel too far, too fast and you could cut it up and it was gone. Now a photo is on the web forever and always, even when you delete it.

As parents, we need to make sure our children understand that what they post today will effect them later in life. Every day they are online they are adding to their online CV, they need to make sure that they are proud of everything associated with their name.

We can’t stop our children from being online, it is the way the world is going, but we can make sure they are smart about it!

Perspective

I have been pretty negative recently. Things have been tough. We have been too busy, there’s been too much going on. The kids have been under pressure, David and I have both been under pressure. Honestly I haven’t been able to see the silver lining.

After a really positive lunch with friends last week things started to turn around. I got my head out of my own backside and started to look around me. I very quickly gained perspective.

It was raining one morning on the way to school, a young girl who attends Kiara’s school was walking with her mom who had a baby on her back. It was raining. I stopped and took her to school. We have a car, with petrol so my kids do not have to walk to school in the rain!

Emma’s nanny has a disabled adult daughter. Once a month they go to the clinic for her check up. The daughter always sends me a message on the day they go to thank me for letting her mom come with her.

We experienced load shedding on Saturday and Sunday. It wasn’t pleasant and we all had a big moan about it. We had electricity that could be turned off, that’s more than a lot of people have.

I had a Santa Shoebox Celebration Day. These children were so grateful for the contents of their boxes.For most of them, that box is the only gift they will receive. Even though its a lean Christmas for us this year, I know my children will receive many gifts under the Christmas tree.

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There is a little down syndrome child in Jack’s class. This morning she walked in as I was walking out. She opened her arms wide towards and ran into my arms for the hugest hug. Her mom looked tired, she always looks tired. I have 4 healthy children whose issues do not compare to the challenges that that mom has to deal with.

There is a terrible video doing the rounds at the moment about a little girl. It is once again a reminder of just how much our society thrives on drama and ugliness. We have a wonderful nanny who loves Emma, who sits with her and plays all day. My heart breaks for that little girl and her parents.

None of these moments make my issues go away. They don’t pay the bills or buy the Christmas presents or sort out stationery packs. What they do though, is remind me how much I have to be grateful for and even when I have a little my family and I have much more than so many people.

These moments are reminders to stop wallowing, to stop feeling sorry for myself, to stop getting so caught up in our problems and remember that what we have.

What moments have you experienced recently that have given you perspective?

Shameless plug – South African Blog Awards

Last year we were left off the South African Blog Awards. There was no parenting category. It was a little annoying.

But we are back on! And voting has opened.I personally hate the whole “vote for me” stuff but it is what it is and despite what I would like to say, awards are important.

So please vote for me.

Click the badge on the right or this link and vote for me PLEASE.

Remember you need to click the confirmation link on the email you get otherwise the vote doesn’t count.

4 Christmas Gifts for Baby Girls

My mom asked me the other day what she can buy Emma for Christmas. I had no idea. She is at that age where she is happy with a toothbrush and box of macaroni but those aren’t exactly nice gifts, especially from a granny for your first Christmas.

So I did what any self respecting person does  – I googled it and obviously found some outrageous things but also found a few really great ideas for babies 0-1 year old.

Sea Stack and Learn  Blocks  – these are always a win and these blocks have letters, shapes and pictures on so they learn more than just stacking.

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Colour Flap Mirror – Emma loves a mirror. She will spend hours playing at the mirror in our lounge. So anything with a mirror is a huge win for her.  This one includes colours so can be used for checking yourself out and learning colours.

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Tea Time Shape Sorter – I had a shape sorted growing up and all the older kids had one. They are such fun ways to learn a host of things – shapes, colours, motor skills. I thought this one was a very cute one for girls.

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Peekaboo Book – We are huge Dorling Kindersley fans and these books are stunning. Both of these are really cute and you can never go wrong with books as gifts, for any age.

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Sensational Kids are having a sale on from the 5 – 7 December! – EVERYTHING on the site will be less 20% and all delivery is free within SA. Book mark it, set reminders because you do not want to miss it!!!!

The day we lost the keys inside the car.

Our lives at the moment work well because we have a routine. Everyone knows what they need to do, when and how. When that gets messed with it really does throw the world off kilter a little.

My car is currently having the clutch replaced (today is day 4) so I have been driving Davids car (change 1). David usually takes Cameron to school but this morning I had to take him because David needed to be at work early. (change 2).

Kiara was the last one out the house so she had to lock and bring the key. She also then opened the complex security gate. I drop Cameron, drop Jack and Kiara and head home. Get home and can not find the keys anywhere. I turn the car upside down but its not my car, not my space. No keys. I assume Kiara must have them so off I go back to her school. She doesn’t have the keys but says she gave them to Cameron. So off I go to Cameron’s school. En route Emma falls asleep and I swear a little under my breathe because it wasn’t nap time. Cameron doesn’t have the keys BUT he knows where they are. INSIDE the car in this hidden compartment behind the cup holders. Now he knows this because he drives with David daily. I forgot about it when I was searching the car.

SO the keys were inside the car the WHOLE TIME! I just spent an hour driving up and down and they were in the car the WHOLE TIME!

Emma woke up when we stopped at Cam’s school so was very unhappy about life in general.

Get home. Get the washing and as I step into the kids bathroom I am ankle deep in water. SAY WHAT! One of the kids left the tap on in the basin so the bathroom was flooded!

All I could do was laugh because what else was there to do?

Oh and I may have bought a chocolate for breakfast!

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Smartbox with owl backpack

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5 reasons why I don’t think 4th place needs a medal!

I have decided to keep with the “controversy theme” this week since my Coca Cola post got some heated responses. Possibly the most heated I have ever received.

We are all about competition in our house at the moment. Kiara has had her dance exams, Cameron qualified to swim Champs next month, it is his interhouse gala on Friday so we are literally all about competing at the moment.

When I was at Primary School we used to have a Victor Ludorum and Vixtrix Ludorum trophies for our interhouse galas. They were for the best over all swimmer. They were a big deal. We worked hard for them (ok not so much ME but I know my brother won one or two), they were something to aim towards. I don’t remember anyone asking me what I wanted to swim, we were told “you are swimming A,B,C – bring your costume”. This wasn’t just with swimming, athletics was the same. There was no choice.

Things don’t work like this anymore.

At Cameron’s school they only get to swim two races of THEIR choice (???) THEY, as the children, get to chose what they want to do (??). Also every child who wins a race gets a trophy. There is nothing really for them to work towards. For Cameron, it is a big deal to be the best swimmer at his school, not the best in two races but the best over all.

I know what I am about to say is one of those contentious topics that has people greatly divided but in my opinion I don’t really like this new “everyone is a winner” attitude where children get chocolates/sweets/rewards merely for competing and here’s why!

Winners deserve to be celebrated! Winners work really hard to get there. They train, they sacrifice, they put in a lot of effort to win and they deserve to be singled out and receive special treatment. They deserve that gold medal or trophy. Their achievement deserves to be celebrated.

There needs to be a carrot. If children are going to compete they need a reason to compete. They status, the medal, the trophy – there has to be a reward. If I know that just by running  will get a fizzer, what is the motivation to run faster? Or do better?

Real life is all about winning. When your child starts applying for a job (even a menial student job) they will be up against a lot of applicants, they will all be competing for the same position. Your child needs to understand that if they are looking for 2 people and he comes 3rd there is no consolation prize, there is no job. That’s life.

It creates gracious losers. Losing, as much as winning, is a part of life. Children need to learn how to lose with grace. It is not always easy but no one likes a sore loser. If you are always validated regardless of your performance you don’t learn that it’s ok to lose.

It pushes us to achieve. Imagine there was no competition, if everyone won. You always go what you wanted. How would anything ever be achieved? It wouldn’t! This isn’t unique to sports but is in every area of life – technology, beauty, science – we have achieved what we have not because we gave everyone a lollipop for trying but because we didn’t!!

Having said all of this, I do understand the role of parents as nurturers and encourages and supporters of our children. I tell my children I am proud of them wherever they came or whatever mark they got (provided they actually made an effort and didn’t spend afternoons playing hopscotch instead of studying). I also think we have a more important role – to prepare them for life and life isn’t always fair!

What do you think? Am I too strict? 

Coca Cola promoting a healthy lifestyle? Say what?

Gareth Cliff often says that we are living in the best time. We have opportunities, we are connected more than ever before, we have access to more information than we can process, we have freedom of speech, we have more choice than we have ever had.

You can google ways to live a healthy life and pages and pages of results will come up. Some will say cut carbs, some say balance your foods, some suggest a soup detox for 3 days, some advocate a vegan lifestyle, some say eat all the meat, some say no sugar, some suggest drinking a revolting looking pill, some say drink a shake or two. I could go on and on. The internet has provided a platform for everyone to be experts about everything. Everyone wants to promote and encourage what has worked for them, because it has worked for them.

I think though, it is rare to find a diet worth anything that does not promote movement of some sort. Most diets come with the disclaimer “this diet works in conjunction with an exercise programme.” Exercise is all the rage today. People are being encouraged more and more to get up, get outside and get active.

I was recently invited to be part of a really great, very interactive session with a panel from Coca Cola and I discovered the Coca Cola are doing just that – promoting movement and a healthy lifestyle. I can see you all raising your eyebrows and rolling your eyes. I did initially too.

Coca Cola doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to being a healthy and nutritional product, in fact many of the diets you will find suggest cutting out fizzy drinks. I know in our house we do try to limit these drinks and when we do have them we do try to chose the diet ones but  I am not going to be hypocritical and say my children never drink Creme Soda or Fanta because they do. Kiara would drink creme soda all day every day if she could and she probably will one day. Coke Zero and  I have a very close bond.

During this discussion group Coca Cola never said that their products promote weight loss nor was it a sales pitch to get us to all add coke to our daily lives. It was more about raising awareness for the positive things Coca Cola are doing to promote movement and a healthy lifestyle and they are actually doing a fair amount in terms of raising awareness for exercise.

One of the presentations was by a representative from the Exercise is Medicine Initiative. It was a very informative presentation not only about why exercise is good for you but why sitting is bad. Basically what they found was that even if you do the recommended amount of exercise daily, it won’t necessarily help health wise because we are sitting too much. The act of sitting and being sedentary is actually not good for us at all and is even worse for our children. I am not going to go into detail about the studies down around this but the point is that we not only need to be active but also that we need to sit less which is not always easy in today’s world.

The talk from the dietitian was also pretty interesting. The short of what they are advocating is everything in moderation. So if you rode the 94.7 on Sunday, then you can most certainly have the coke they were handing out but if you sat at home watching the updates via twitter then probably a coke zero will work better for you.

We know this though! This is not new, ground breaking research.

Whatever eating plan you use, we all know that moderation is the key. Even good old Dr Noakes doesn’t say eat a block of butter for breakfast! A slab of chocolate a day is the same as having a can of coke a day. (Also did you know there is a very prominent brand of chocolate that has genetically modified soya in its chocolate? Just saying).

Drink it or not, I do think Coca Cola do need some sort of positive acknowledgement for what they are trying to do in terms of raising awareness about healthy living. They have an entire website dedicated to just this. You can read up about all of the ingredients they use, research around those ingredients, there is information about physical activity, nutrition and hydration. It really is a pretty great site.

*I was not paid for this post nor was I asked to write it. I attended the event with Coca Cola and these are my thoughts around what we discussed and the information given.*

Currently

This morning I was busy with a few things and had “blog post” on my list. I did everything to avoid it, not because I have nothing to say but because I have so much to say but no time to organise it all.

So I am joining Cindy and Sharon and doing a “currently” post!

Currently…..

I am feeling very overwhelmed with how much needs to get done before we leave for Cape Town in less than a month.

Money is a huge stress. HUGE.

I was very freaked out by the fact that the big kids father is “watching them” via Facebook.

I am loving the rain.

I am really enjoying the new season of Scandal – anyone watching it? And the new season of Homeland s also pretty good.

I am completing a Sensory Profile for the OT at Jack’s school. (My head popped out the sand just long enough to discuss his issues with the teacher).

I am having to mark too many blogs as read because I just don’t have the time to read and leaving them unread stresses me out.

I am avoiding thinking about Christmas presents.

Kiara and Jack are chasing each other so they can basically just beat each other up.

I have discovered brussel sprouts and am in love.

My laptop is dying. It’s not even doing it gracefully or subtly.

My phones charger has broken – I don’t even know how. A new one is nearly R300. I don’t even know what to say about that.

I want to smash all the chocolate in the world in my face and wash it down with all the wine in the world!

How are things currently in your world?

Have you ever googled your child?

One of our guest speakers on Saturday at the #jozimeetup was Hayley Owen from Actorvate and she was talking about keeping our kids safe online. There is a whole blog post in what she spoke about but one of the things she suggested was that we google our children’s names.

I finally go around to doing it today.

I started with Cameron. His Facebook profile came out and I realised his security settings had changed. So basically his profile was now public! We will be discussing this later. Luckily nothing else came up. There weren’t even any pictures of him.

Then I googled Kiara. Her Facebook page came up and same story with the security settings! I suspect this was my fault because she is never really online which I am very grateful for because I then discovered her father (the same father who hasn’t spoken to her in over 5 years) had sent her a request. I am actually very tempted to delete the whole profile to be honest. The only reason I set it up for her was to talk to my mom but we can do that in other ways. I checked Cameron’s and there doesn’t appear to have been a request from his father but I suspect even if they were was he would have deleted it.

Anyway the point of this exercise is to see what your child’s online foot print is. I know a lot of you have small children but many of you do have children online – have you ever thought about what can be searched about them? Have you ever thought about why it is important?

By the time Cameron starts applying for Varisties he will have been online for 8/9 years. That is a lot of status updates, possible tweets, photos etc all done during a time when we have all done stupid things – our teenage years. What he says and does online will affect whatever he chooses to do because one search and everything he has said and done online will come up.

It is something I think I am going to do regularly to make sure that for now whatever footprint they are leaving is as private as I can make it….for now!

Have you googled your children?