Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yvette's Favourite Things 2009

Like Oprah, I like to share the good stuff I discover.

Unlike Oprah, I can't give them to a few hundred people, so you will have to make do with this list of links instead :) If I own these things, I have bought them as a consumer and recieve nothing for posting them here, it is a genuine recommendation.

Eco Silk bags - I own six of these in different colours and when I pull them out of my bag, checkout and other sales staff ooh and ah, as do other customers! I am seriously thinking of asking them for some business cards to hand out! I LOVE these bags - I can squish up six shopping bags in my handbag and they take up no room; the colours make me happy; I use them for stuff other than shopping too and think they would be great for travellers.

Squiz cards - Oh how I love these! I have them hanging from my keys, attached to my mobile phone and in my wallet and when I want to give someone my details, I never need a pen! I am going to order a set with my work details too.

Louenhide bags - I bought this great bag in April and it is still going strong after being my daily bag ever since! I love the colours they come in but am also impressed by the materials and craftsmanship. I look forward to getting another :)

Belkin Pocket Top laptop case - My lovely orange friend has done a great job as my work horse this year, helping my laptop as it ventures between home and work and between desk and bed! I love it!

Book Niche - I wanted to show you the sleep shirt I bought, which is now out of stock, but now I have seen they have jammies, so guess what I am getting?

I hope you enjoyed my favourite things too :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O’Dowd Family Christmas Letter

Although none of believe it can be, it seems another year has slipped through our fingers and the festive season is here once more. It has been the usual hectic pace for us all and, reflecting back, amazing just what was squeezed into twelve months.

The members of our household each became a year older – Rodney 45 and Yvette 46, Melissa 25, Kaitlyn 22 and Kieran 18, while Frodo and Merry the cats are now ten and our lovely dog Molly is a mature one year old!

For Kieran – and the whole family – it was a final year at school. Year 12, the infamous VCE and all the ‘lasts’: last school photos, last school uniform, last parent-teacher interviews!! As he puts school behind him and looks forward to studying computers at TAFE in 2010, it is a bitter-sweet end to a school-focused household since 1987, when Melissa began kinder!

Melissa may have grown up a lot since those days, however it seems she has spent most of this year in the dress up box! Her love of designing and sewing costumes continues to grow and she has created amazing outfits for herself and Kieran as they explore the world of Anime fans (a type of Japanese cartoon, if you are as bewildered as I!) She is enjoying her job at Savers Frankston, has recently moved to full time and is training to take on a more senior role. These past weeks she has had a few shifts as store supervisor. Melissa finally got her driver’s licence early this year and bought her first car. She continues to enjoy Salsa and Swing dancing and this year learned to Tango for a performance! And she still goes juggling when she can fit it in!

Kaitlyn has had a most eventful year, moving out of home in late July, into a share house with her boyfriend and several friends. Having bought her first car a few weeks before, you would think she couldn’t top that, however she and boyfriend Ashley Greig became engaged just prior to her birthday in October and are planning a wedding on November 14th 2010! Plans for that and an engagement party in January have everyone entering a whole new world!

Kaitlyn’s bedroom was briefly empty after she moved out, but only as long as it took the paint to dry in Yvette and Melissa’s new scrap and sew room! This motivated Yvette back into the scrapbooking which had stalled in previous months – most probably explained by her unnoticed need for reading glasses, rectified at her birthday check up!

Yvette’s health has been mostly good this year, the MS not causing any major dramas. Just as well, for between working 3 days per week at the new Breastfeeding Centre in Dandenong, continuing yoga classes and taking up swimming lessons and water aerobics, there wasn’t much room for downtime. Plus the steady scrapbooking that has resulted in 40+ albums (so far!)She celebrated her 25th year as a member of NMAA/ABA, clocked up 17 years as a breastfeeding counsellor and continues to have her finger in many ABA pies!

Rodney continues to work hard and play harder, fitting in two work trips to Japan amongst other more local travels. His racing bike goes nearly everywhere with him and he continues to ride/race most Saturdays and Sundays.

One of our greatest pleasures has been our dog Molly, a cavalier King Charles Spaniel who was born in April 2008. Her wonderful personality brightens everyone’s day – except for Frodo and Merry, who tolerate her antics up to a point and then thump her! Molly walks Yvette regularly on Frankston beach and has developed quite a local fan club.

Kieran is now the only one not to be a member of Facebook, everyone else enjoys regular connection with friends and family – including catching up with long-lost cousins, school friends and other faces from the past. We all embrace the internet technology and the way it keeps us together, even though our lives take us in different directions.

2010 will be a busy and exciting year for us all and we look forward to having our family and friends along for the ride!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An announcement

In older times, it was all engraved stationery and announcements in the newspaper, however those days are gone, so forgive the use of technology, however ...

Kaitlyn O'Dowd and Ashley Grieg wish to announce their engagement!

Yes, it is true - Yvette is to be a mother-in-law! But first, she gets to be mother-of-the-bride! EEK!! They always seemed so much ... more mature?

Everyone is thrilled - except Frodo the cat, who declined his consent (if anyone is listening?) and would like his mum to come back home and bring his bed!

No dates set, however the ring is GORGEOUS!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Nestle Factor

I am reading with interest discussion across the blogosphere about #nestlefamily.

And feeling very uncomfortable.

You see, I have been a Nestle boycotter for many years. I truly believe their marketing of artificial baby milk in some parts of the world leads to infant deaths. My kids have grown up (or perhaps, groan up!) being ear-bashed about Nestle. I am not a coffee drinker, but have inflicted those who are with non-Nescafe products. I will not buy any product with the Nestle brand and I do my best to avoid supporting companies owned by them. After many years of loyalty to The Body Shop and a moisturiser I was not sensitive too, I wave goodbye sadly when they were sold to Loreal, who are owned by Nestle. Or more correctly, when Anita Roddick sold out to the very type of company she had set up against :(. Hoping she is not RIP over that one.

I do consider the Three Es when I shop - Economy, Environment and Ethics and I believe I do it well. But there is no doubt I haven't maintained the rage on Nestle as well as I should. As my children got older and began making their own choices, products found their way into my home independently. My daughter likes their coffee. My son likes their sweets. They own the brand Maggi, whose 2 minute noodles are one of the few things my son will eat! I haven't kept pace with who they have bought out in recent years and they probably profit by some of my purchases.

Most shamefully of all, my son and I had an all expenses paid trip to Sydney when he won a Wonka bar contest several years ago - I agonised about going and allowing him to go, but I went for the easy option in the end.

This new controversy has me thinking again and renewing my vows. My children are all adults now and can make their own decisions. One has left home, another lives independently at home and the youngest is about to leave high school. If they wish to have products tied to Nestle, so be it, however I will no longer purchase them on their behalf. I will review once again the list of companies and brands to avoid and will do so. I will continue to make my workplace a Nestle-free zone, but will also make proper effort to keep them from my home.

We cannot be complacent. While the boycott may not prevent their marketing tactics, at least I am not endorsing them with my shopping dollars.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What a difference a year makes!

Here we are, the end of September and I feel like all my ducks are in a row. At home and at work there is peace and order.

Flashback to this week 2008 - not so much!

Hard as it is to believe, it is a year since we opened our ABA Victorian Branch Office in Dandenong - to be known as The Breastfeeding Centre. This time last year, I was in the midst of packing the office from its temporary location in my lounge room, whilst coordinating removalists, utitilies, connections etc and wondering if our grand plan would actually work.

So far, so good!

The empty space I received the keys for last year is now a cosy community space and also an efficient administrative base. Throught the wonder of, generous donations and karma, my wish list is pretty well ticked off and the BF Centre is the hub for breastfeeding
that we envisaged.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A new season!

I am so glad another Winter is over. I really don't "do" Winter - I much prefer Autumn and Spring - and Summer when it isn't being extreme!

So the season of new life is upon us, what better time to bring my blog up to speed and make the usual resolution to post more regularly?

There have been many changes here in our home (which always reminds me of the top of the Faraway Tree - you never know where you will be when you poke your head through the cloud!) A few weeks ago, Kaitlyn moved out of home - the first of our chicks to officially leave the nest. (Melissa backpacking for two years doesn't count - leaving the nest involves taking your stuff elsewhere to live!). So we are now down to a household of only four, after often being one of six, with Ashley around most of the time. They have set up house together, just them, three adult friends and a four year old girl :) - they may not be feeling the same level of change as we are!

Of course, Kaitlyn barely took the last item from her room (leaving only a sad, unwanted poster of Eminem) when I had the paintbrush in hand and began decorating my new scrapbooking room! What else do mothers do to compensate for losing a fledged child? I followed the fine example my MIL set all those years ago, when Rod moved in with me - she actually tore down a wall and made his room into a second living area!!!

I am sharing my creative space with Melissa. It is a Scrap and Sew room. So far this is working really well, as we have different peak times for creativeness, which tend not to overlap too much. As I vacate for bed at 8.30pm, she is just getting around to thinking about starting :) So we can each get a good couple of hours work in without stepping on any toes (virtual or actual!)

And the new space has been just the prod I needed to get my scrapbooking mojo back. After most of twelve months only scrapping what I "needed to do", I am now back on track. I have finished off some projects, caught up to date with others and begun new ones. I am not sure what led to the down time - perhaps I just needed it - but am now enjoying creating once more.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


My first thought when I hear that word is some sort of factory conveyor belt!

However, in my quest this year to LIVE (my word for the year), I have learned this word now refers to making the very best use of my time and Getting Things Done. Sounds like just the thing to reduce stress about stuff that is behind and increase time to do the stuff you want, rather than be a slave to stuff you have to do.

My other goal along these lines is to become as paperless as possible. Paper equals clutter and clutter equals stress and I don't need that!

So - here I am, mid way through the year. What is working?

Time management:
Remember The Milk RTM - working really well. I have it installed just about everywhere, which makes it really hard to ignore! I have gadgets on my Google desktop and iGoogle page, it is synced with Outlook and Google Calendar and I have the app on my Blackberry. I mainly use it for personal tasks that are done away from the computer, like getting prescriptions filled before I run out, remembering to get cash out to pay my wonderful cleaning angel and stuff to buy at various retailers.

I have moved away from using it to manage my work/volunteer To Do list, as I have now discovered Toodledo, I find Toodledo's options allow me to categorise projects/tasks in a more useable way, it also has an iGoogle gadget :) but not a Google Desktop gadget :( and an app for the Blackberry.

Information management: I am now a firm fan of Evernote, Delicious and Google Reader, who between them keep my information up to date and accessible.

Evernote replaces filing and notebooks, with searchable files and notes being synced automatically between my desktop and online notebooks AND the ability to read handwritten notes which I can scan or photograph and send to the pool. New rule - scan, save, shred.

Delicious - which I thought was "just" an online bookmarking service, has been much more, as it offers the ability to subscribe to tags of interest and brings up sites that other people bookmark under those tags!

And Google Reader allows me to subscribe to as many blogs as I wish, with a gadget on my iGoogle and a couple of great add-ons: a subscribe button on my toolbar and a next button, which lets me power through my reading by taking me straight to the unread blog post!

Access all areas:
I made the move fom Internet Explorer to Google Chrome several months ago. I mostly love it, resent it lacks some of my preferred tools (auto-fill, which is in the Google toolbar for other broswers, but not their own? And compatibilty with my beloved Robo Form password manager :( ) However, I love the functionaility of Chrome and am willing to wait til these tools come to it, rather than battle with IE. I tried Firefox, but didn't really like it that much.

iGoogle however, changed my life!! Alright, just my online life! Now my home page, it has gadgets that bring all the stuff I use to one place! My current set up includes Facebook, Twitter, Toodled, RTM, Gmail, Google Calendar, bookmarks, Google Reader, News Alerts, ABC news headlines, weather radar, Evernote and Delicious! All on the one page. I have a complete overview and can easily move to the full sites of any of these or just use the scaled down access right there. LOVE IT!!!

Google Desktop is a new addition to my tools but I couldn't be without it already. Permanently stuck on the side of my screen, all my normal stuff (browser, programs etc) open up in the slightly smaller than usual space, so the desktop is always in sight. As are the gadgets I choose for it to display - currently my RTM list, Twitter (how I found out MJ died etc), a battery monitor, analogue clock, current weather and a small note pad I can dump my brain into as needed!

Over at the central control centre AKA Microsoft Outlook, my world has changes as I embraced Inbox Zero as normal expectation instead of mission impossible.

Orla made the difference, an add-on that introduced for essential buttons to my life: Ditch, Deal, Delegate, Decide. Instead of emails building up in the inbox, I handle each one in turn with one of these buttons. Ditch is the most used button: 90% of what I read I don't need to keep just in case, so I don't! Deal means I either reply/forward immediately or it is moved to my To Do, Follow Up, Waiting On or Send to Evernote folders! Delegate I don't use so much - probably because I have no staff LOL! Decide means I need to add it to the calendar, create a task in Toodled or file it in the corresponding folder for future access. Three times a day, I work my email back to zero - in the morning (two shifts @home over breakfast and @work after I arrive), before I leave work and before I go to bed.

And because all work etc, I love my Xobni add-on, because while I process these emails, the senders profile pops up to the side - including their Facebook profile if we are friends! So a little bit of water cooler action without leaving what I am doing! Bliss!

So, that's some of the tools that will be migrated to my new laptop nect week :) Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A human barometer

At risk of sounding like Goldilocks, when it comes to temperature, I really need it to be just right.

In the middle of Summer, endless extreme heat cranks up the MS fatigue, leaving me with little energy for anything more than the bare basics. I revel in Autumn and its flip-side Spring, both being my most productive times of year. But here I am once more, creaking towards the shortest day of the year, with Winter aggravating my fibromyalgia.

I ache all over - every joint and muscle. Even my fingernails hurt! It takes me most of the day to warm up enough to make moving more comfortable - and then the sun slips over the bloody yard arm and it all winds back down again, so by bed time I am once again stiff and sore.

I remind myself of Pa in the old Ma and Pa Kettle movies - his rheumatism kept him grumpy and unable to do any work (offering him the perfect excuse to leave it all to Ma!) and I cringe to think that is how I might come across at this time, but it really is quite debiltating. Nothing much seems to help and I just have to suck it in and wait for warmer weather - studies may not be conclusive about cold weather increasing the condition, but they obviously haven't studied MY body! I am definitely a human barometer!

(and if you think some of the Fibro symptoms sound a lot like my MS sysmptoms, there is a lot of similarity, however tests have shown I am affected by BOTH conditions - a lottery prize I would prefer not to have won!)

The term "rheumatism" is still used in colloquial speech and historical contexts, but is no longer frequently used in medical or technical literature; there is no longer any recognized disorder simply called "rheumatism." Some countries use the word Rheumatism to describe fibromyalgia syndrome. The traditional term covers such a range of different problems that to ascribe symptoms to "rheumatism" is not to say very much. Nevertheless, sources dealing with rheumatism tend to focus on arthritis. However, "non-articular rheumatism", also known as "regional pain syndrome" or "soft tissue rheumatism" can cause significant discomfort and difficulty.[2] Furthermore, arthritis and rheumatism between them cover at least 200 different conditions.

There has long been said to be a link between "rheumatic" pain and the weather. There appears to be no firm evidence in favour or against; a 1995 questionnaire given to 557 people by A. Naser and others at the Brigham and Women's Hospital's Pain Management Center concludes that "changes in barometric pressure are the main link between weather and pain. Low pressure is generally associated with cold, wet weather and an increase in pain. Clear, dry conditions signal high pressure and a decrease in pain".[5]

The defining symptoms of fibromyalgia are chronic, widespread pain and painful response to touch (allodynia). Other symptoms can include moderate to severe fatigue, needle-like tingling of the skin, muscle aches, prolonged muscle spasms, weakness in the limbs, nerve pain, functional bowel disturbances,[14] and chronic sleep disturbances.[15] Sleep disturbances may be related to a phenomenon called alpha-delta sleep, a condition in which deep sleep (associated with delta waves) is frequently interrupted by bursts of alpha waves, which normally occur during wakefulness. Slow-wave sleep is often dramatically reduced.[citation needed]

Many patients experience cognitive dysfunction[16] (known as "brain fog" or "fibrofog"), which may be characterized by impaired concentration,[17] problems with short[17][18] and long-term memory, short-term memory consolidation,[18] impaired speed of performance,[17][18] inability to multi-task, cognitive overload,[17][18] diminished attention span, anxiety, and depressivesymptoms.[18] "Brain fog" may be directly related to the sleep disturbances experienced by sufferers of fibromyalgia.[citation needed]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mothers Meeting

Last Thursday, a group of mums and their babies met at our centre. They chatted, drank tea and coffee, played, breastfed and generally had a good time all round.

This is not terribly remarkable in the day to day experience of life in the Australian Breastfeeding Association and is generally the norm most days here at the Breastfeeding Centre in Dandenong.

So why was this gathering notable? 

These mothers were all Afghani migrants, with little English and no previous experience of the culture taken for granted by most Australian-born mums. As Muslims, their head scarves single them out in the community as *different* and cultural traditions tend to limit integration into our western society.

Now, I have heard for years, from various doom-sayers, that "these women" are not interested in groups like ABA, that they "won't go" to our coffee mornings and discussion meetings and anyway, they "don't have trouble breastfeeding". All possibly true, but not spouted by those who had tried and failed, but by those never brave enough to try and possibly fail.

My experience was, apart from my complete inability to speak any of their language and their limited abilities to speak some of mine, that this meeting was just the same as those I have attended during the past 25 years in ABA. There were a couple of mums worried about breastfeeding - one low supply that wasn't and one sore nipples that were! - and the others were just taking it in their stride. All were keen to participate in our limited discussion and indicated they would like to return another day.

It is time everyone threw out preconcieved notions of what migrant - and other - groups of mothers will or will not do. My theroy is, invite them and see what happens!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Professional photo shoot for ABA - Friday May 29 during school hours :)

Mothers of babies and toddlers in Melbourne are invited to a photo shoot with to contribute images to the photo library of the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Where: Susan D'Arcy Photography 81 Poath Rd, Murrumbeena, 3163 p:  9568 1441

Who: mums to pose with their children in individual and group shots in the studio and in surrounding neighbourhood for images depicting the social aspects of ABA membership as well as general mothering and breastfeeding images for our library. Also photos of ABA slings in use for Mothers Direct.

When: Friday May 29 between 9.30 and 3pm, times by arrangement.

You will give full consent for the use of all images by the photographer and ABA and associates and will receive images on CD for personal use.

For more details, please contact Susan or Yvette

Expressions of interest for a second session based in and around the Breastfeeding Centre in Dandenong are also sought.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

About the Breastfeeding Centre

Wow, did you hear that - Jane asked about the Breastfeeding Centre on my Facebook wall: someone fresh to rave about our centre to! The Breastfeeding Centre is at 3/71 Robinson St Dandenong and is the ABA Victorian Branch office and also a public facility for the mothers of Victoria. We are open three days per week and I am privledged to be the entire staff! While I work away in the background doing the admin work required to keep 420+ volunteers functioning and happy (!) I also facilitate the use of the Centre by the community and ABA. On Tuesdays, between 11.30 and 1pm, pregnant women can drop in for some information and resources over lunch. On Wednesday, it is Drop-in Day between 10.30 and 3.30 and everyone is welcome - pregnant women, new mums, women with toddlers and older children, health professionals and anyone interested in learning more about breastfeeding and ABA. We provide electric breast pump hire, a small range of breast pumps and other lactation aids and ABA booklets for sale, handout materials (both English and in other languages), a library of books, videos and DVDs related to breastfeeding and parenting and plenty of toys for the babies and small children we welcome. While the phone rings constantly with bookings for the Breastfeeding Education Classes held across the State, enquiries for breast pump hire and volunteers and the wider public seeking information and resources, the front door opens frequently as mothers, volunteers and health professionals pop in for a cuppa or three, a chat on the comfy couches or a browse of the artworks, posters and photos of volunteers. Some days you might find us in the midst of training peer support volunteers from the widely diverse communities that make up the Dandenong population or you might find a group of trainees practicing role plays of counselling scenarios. On a Saturday there might be a breastfeeding class, during the week it could be an ABA group meeting. Some volunteers are borrowing banners or other resources, while others are returning a DVD they showed at their group meeting. The photos in my Facebook album include the signs that went up today and some photos taken several months ago of the centre in action. Since then, we have made improvements of furniture and decor, but the same atmosphere is there and commented on by every visitor, as they linger wondering if they really need to go or is there time for another cuppa. Come and see us soon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Throwing the baby out with the bath water

Groan: a mum who believes formula feeding mums get a bad deal has posted on a forum - entitled to her opinion, but why is the post titled MY LETTER TO THE ABA? 

And criticizing our wording in seeking lovely breastfeeding photos for a breastfeeding calendar to fund raise for a breastfeeding organisation!

I've said before: our support network was started by six women to promote and support breastfeeding. Want your own support group - then follow their example! Put in the 45 years of solid volunteer effort that took them from a group of six to a membership base of many thousands.

Now, if you are in a group of women who spend all their time criticising and judging each other's actions as mothers - can I suggest you seek new friends? Seriously, what are you gaining from interacting with such people?

All mothers of young children have the impression strangers are judging their actions in public places - when in fact, they are frowning because they cannot remember if they need to buy toilet paper or not! While you think they disapprove of you bottle feeding your baby, on the other side of the food court, another mum thinks they are disapproving of her breastfeeding in public, while another mother thinks they disapprove of how she is handling a toddler tantrum! It is your own self-doubt and uncertainty that you are picking up, not the thoughts of others.

I don't judge people for turning to formula when breastfeeding doesn't work out. I get angry - but not with the mother. I get angry at a society that still thinks breastfeeding women should do so discreetly, limiting women's birthright of learning how breastfeeding works by watching it happen as they grow up. I get angry with a health system that does not permit new mums to stay in the sanctuary of a hospital bed while they work through initial breastfeeding problems.  I get angry that postnatal services are disjointed and reliant of mothers needing to visit multiple facilities for ongoing help, instead of having a single, skilled caregiver guiding them from the first breastfeed minutes after birth to the point where they are enjoying a successful, satisfying breastfeeding relationship.

So why am I venting here and not replying to her post? Because I just don't have the energy to explain once again, that promoting breastfeeding is NOT criticising formula feeding.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saying goodbye to a friend because she changed

A few years ago, my friend Pinky mentioned a new magazine that she loved. Of course, I went straight out and bought it and loved it for many of the same reasons: gorgeous images, interesting articles and NO CELEBRITIES!!!!!

notebook:magazine has been a friend ever since - I even snapped up the back issues I didn't own when they were offered on I have the full set on a shelf in my bedroom, my go-to for boring Bed Days. They have motivated and inspired me and been eye-candy for my visual self.

Until some time last year, when they changed their image. Literally. Gone were the cover images of gorgeous flower arrangements, replaced with (ugh!) impossibly gorgeous models. The real life stories of extraordinary people not normally in the public eye were replaced with (groan) the opinions of television and print "personalities".

I wrote the the Editor, expressing my dismay and she replied. 

Thankyou for your feedback and I'm sorry you're so disappointed in the new
look. We really haven't gone down a celebrity road at all; we've really just
incorporated some well-known and well-respected authors and women to join
our discussion in Notebook: on subjects that I believe are close to all our
hearts and subjects that will change from month to month.

Real women are and will continue to be well represented in this magazine
because we truly believe we need to applaud the unsung heroes in our

On the subject of the cover I have to tell you this was a difficult decision
to make. We really needed to change the picture to represent better what was
in the magazine. So many women didn't even pick it up because they thought
it was just a gardening or craft magazine and therefore not relevant to

I hope you persist with the magazine and give it a read. There are so many
honest and engaging stories in this issue.

Again, thankyou for your email
Kind regards

Caroline Roessler

You can read about that in an earlier post. I decided our relationship was on notice and regretted recently renewing my subscription.

Over the following months, things did not improve. Myriad professional writers and editors, comedians and more gave their voice on that months topic, which was hashed and rehashed through the first section. Thank goodness for the fold out index tabs, which allowed me skip past all that (and endless advertising for skincare and make up - blah) and head straight for the food and other more interesting sections.

Then last month, they excitedly announced the end of the section tabs! ARGH!! I added that edition to the increasing pile of half-read back issues and started ignoring the invitations to renew my subscription. Yesterday, my last issue arrived and earned only  a quick flip-through. I knew we now had little in common (why is each new season's fashion style divided up into recommended wearing for each age group? Hello - we don't need to be told about lamb and mutton thanks - and who says there is a standard *40 something* body anyway? Rubbish!).

As our relationship began to falter, I began seeing someone else. Not serious to begin with, a chance meeting after hearing about her from friends-in-common in the US had me absolutely in love. As I tried to track down further issues, it became evident she was playing hard to get. In the end I was left with no alternative but to get the local newsagent to trace her for me and put in a standing order for her arrival.

Real Simple magazine is so much like a younger notebook:magazine that I suspect a heavy influence was had! All those lovely graphic design elements were there and no bloody people who get enough air time! She has bits I want to take out and keep, just like my former love and, like then, I can't bear to deface her doing so! The Real Simple web site is the cherry on the cake.

There is a lesson here for magazine publishers: in attempting to attract another audience, don't risk the one you already have. My readership, my recommendation and my money have all now moved off-shore. Sad for the Australian industry and not ideal for our own economy (although hopefully keeping some US jobs afloat.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Being Bookish

Having had a wonderful time at Back to Booktown 2009 yesterday, I have spent part of today indulging my inner bibloholic online.

I took readily to tracking my readership/ownership on the internet as soon as I came across the opportunity, as it was not unknown for me to um, ... lose track of what I did or didn't have by an author (which leads to the soul-destroying experience of doubling up). At first, it was really only Bookcrossing that allowed you to catalogue your books online and that served me well for some time. Then I stumbled across Shelfari in a Good Reading magazine article. Then (probably as a result of another article!) I found LibraryThing and it was good - but different again.

Recently I got set up with Visual Bookshelf on Facebook and it had features I liked too. then Good Reads got mentioned one too many times, so I had to check it out too! My serial book cataloguing was made easy by the ability to export/import lists from one site to another and so  it was no time at all before I had active shelves and profiles on them all.

But like the addict I am, they still aren't enough. Google supports my habit by enticing me with even more possibilities -  I signed up with Book Blogs and I don't even know why! Where is it all to end? aNobii ? Bookpedia? Delicious Library ?

Of course, now I proudly own a Blackberry, the quest has one vital feature: can I access the list when I am standing in the second-hand book shop with a title in hand that may - or may not - be the very one missing from my collection?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Breakky Heaven

I don’t cook so much these days, however breakfast has become the one meal I do make an effort - just for me! 

I kept hearing about steel cut oats online - Oprah is a big fan, therefore the word is out! I finally tracked them down in the health food shop. Instead of rolled oats, these are whole oats chopped up by steel cutters and they taste so great! 

I now have a daily ritual before bed of deciding how my brekky oats will be. I load all the ingredients into the rice cooker and then in the morning I turn it on and go back to bed while it cooks for 30 mins. I know when it is ready because it smells so good. 

I now have a cupboard of ingredients just for my oats. The base is one measure of oats and one of water, plus a generous scoop of brown sugar. Then I add dried/fresh/frozen fruits, nuts and spices as I fancy. Here are some of my faves: 

Dried apple and frozen berries 

Dried apple and walnuts 

Fresh banana and walnuts 

Dried apricot and slivered almonds 

Dried strawberries and hazelnuts 

Prunes and almonds 

Dried apple and dates with walnuts 

Fresh apple instead of dried apple 

Sometimes I serve with a dollop of yoghurt but mostly I just spoon it all into a bowl and eat it while I check my emails/FB/Twitter/Google Reader/news alerts!!!! 

Did I mention they are cheap and good for me? And stop me wanting to snack because they are so satisfying? And addictive? 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another "last"

Motherhood is a lifetime of Firsts - from the First knowing of the First pregancy, on through a series of endless milestones. As a scrapbooker, I dilegently record these Firsts for each of my children.

Increasingly these days, I am also noticing all the Lasts.

It comes with the Last baby, who not only marks their own Firsts in their journey through life, but also draw lines beneath each life-stage. The Last-born is the Last to start school and the Last to leave childhood behind.

Today, I have just scrapbooked my Last child's Last school photos and have drawn a line in red ink beneath this chapter of my life. There will be other school photos for me to record, as future grandchildren wend their own paths through the school years, but as a mother, this is a Last.

The First term of the Last year ended two weeks ago and on Monday, the Last term of the Last First semester will commence...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Yvette's Favourite Things

Like Oprah, I enjoy discovering lovely new things.

Unlike Oprah, I can't suprise you all with " you are all taking these home!" but I can at least share the secrets!

So here are some of my new treasures and where you can get your own!

Pouchee - tracked down and finally found someone who would ship to Australia, I am so thrilled with my new Pouchee, I want to shout it to the world! It does what it says it will do and has simplified my compulsive bag swapping!

Yogitoes Skidless - tackling downward facing dog and other standing poses in yoga class can be a bit tricky in a hot, Aussie summer as it is, but I get sweaty palms and feet just thinking about it sometimes! So this is going to make life a lot safer for me and those yogis around me! And thankfully, there is an Aussie distributor :) (Mine is orange, of course!)

Home delivery of fresh foods - meat, fruit/veg and bread & milk - has freed up our time and improved our menu and food intake! I am glad we took the step of giving Aussie Farmers Direct a go as they are excellent!!!

Blackberry Bold - I am 100% sold that this was the right choice for me - I LOVE it! And so far it has done all the things I wanted of it: email access wherever I go is great and having Facebook and Twitter at my fingertips is a bonus! And it fits perfectly into my Pouchee!!!!

That's it for now!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

1980s - The Golden Era for Stay-at-Home-Mums?

I am feeling quite dinosaur-ish as I write this, but I remember when mothers  were under no pressure to return to the paid workforce. Yes, hard as may be to believe in this current climate, but those of us who raised Generation Y in the post-feminist era took for granted the right to step out of the income-generating role to focus on the people-generating one.

When I ran head-long into motherhood in 1984, aged 20 and ready to embrace my new career, I was officially unemployed:a product of the "recession we had to have". Motherhood became my Occupation and I proudly stated thus on every form I filled in. Having started this journey, any thoughts of "paid work" for a proper salary were shelved until some time in the future. Paying hobbies were acceptable and some women might take on part-time jobs as their children entered pre-school or school, but the focus was very much on "Mothering: a job worth doing".

Sometime after my third child was born in 1991, I must have taken my eye off the ball because the change happened without me noticing. All I know is, within a few short years, maternity leave became a description of a finite time away from the workforce, usually commencing six weeks before the baby's due date and ending weeks, months or years after the birth, depending on some sort of occupation lottery. What began as a trickle became a flood within the next ten years and suddenly all choice in the matter seemed removed from the individual and the transition was complete.

Mothers were filling the workforce in numbers too large to ignore. Corporate carerose up and consumed much of the community child care services unable to meet the demand for extended hours. With grandmothers likely themselves to be in paid work, family care became endangered.

Whoa! There a minute!! hey - who said this is what we want? What the hell is this, some sort of social experiment?

The glowing vision of a women in the prime of her fertility, nesting at home in the weeks before the big day has been replaced with a frantic pace of childbirth classes, baby showers, sandwiched in among the meetings, sales trips and other corporate  requirements that need completion before the worker takes her token maternity leave.

After the amazing experience of birthing your living child, surmounting the challenges and achieving moderately successful breastfeeding, a mother is finally at a point where she can begin to enjoy inter-acting with her child as he learns about life outside the womb.

Then the crunch hits. A date is looming. Mortgage payments rear their ugly heads. Play time is over and Mother needs to go back to the real world and earn her keep as she aids the struggling Australian economy by feeding the bulk of her pay into the childcare coffers.

Time to rejoin the real world, where people have real jobs and some of those jobs are caring for the children of caring mothers who have real jobs in the real world.

(Whisper to any of these mothers the question "would you rather be a stay-at-home-mum" and tears may fill their eyes: of course, but the mortgage, the lifestyle are beyond the means of a one income family)

Now we are seeing the detrimental impact of this experiment as it strikes directly at the health of mothers and babies by hostile support of breastfeeding-friendly workplaces and practices. We are seeing paid maternity leave slide off the agenda again, along with the hopes of our daughters and their babies yet to be.

Where will it all end?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Results just in ...

Remember the neuropsychological assessment I had last week? I have just been given the results and (sort of) reassuringly they confirm my own observations.

Having been blessed my whole life with a wonderful memory, it is a relief to know my storage of information is rock solid :) But as I have noted, learning/acquiring new information/skills/processes is not as easy as I am used to and has become a complex task I have to give my full attention to. Once I get it in, it will stick like glue, but I can't do it as automatically as I am used to. Egad, I shall have to start taking notes!

Retrieval is also altered - I am not imagining the poor little librarian in charge of my mind sometimes has trouble finding where she has filed things. Those of you who work with me face to face have probably encountered the new vague look I get while the librarian races from shelf to shelf looking. Bear with us - she gets there in the end, especially if I have left really good clues for her!!!

So, on a day to day working basis, this all confirms that if you have only told me, then you haven't told me and you are best to put it in writing, even if I try to assure you it is fine! If I am in an environment where there is lots going on, I am least efficient at processing the information, so if it can wait til a quieter time, you have more hope I will retain it!

My symptoms of what is formally referred to as cognitive deficient are related to the MS, are mild and will not necessarily progress beyond the irritating. I have been encouraged to keep using the systems I have in place to help - basically, doctor's orders to keep exploring organisation tools!!! Maybe I will need to work out the voice recorder on the BlackBerry - um, message for Yvette: "you parked in the third level carpark, not the second!"

Better finish my scrapbooking backlog... just in case I .... um... give me a moment ... I know this! grr!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Under the Doona

Having a Bed Day today, to catch up from another frantic fews weeks and let the body have some R & R. So I thought I should do a bit of a blog catch up, seeing I have absolutely no excuse!

I am a little alarmed that it is the end of March, which should take a lot longer to arrive at than it has this year. This means were are at least at the end of our of birthday season here, which starts at the end of October and rolls steadily to March - with my own day nicely isolated away in July! 

I cannot believe my "puppy" will have a birthday of her own in around 3 weeks! She is such a gorgeous dog - she was at the front of the queue for cute genes and stops people everywhere she goes. I really must take some new photos of her (let alone scrap some!) but time just slips through my fingers. Scrapbooking has altogether taken a back seat, despite my best wishes: my mojo has just fluttered away and even when I make time with myself, it isn't the creative flow I am used to, which makes me sad. I still immerse myself in scrapping culture online and in magazines etc and just hope it will return soon. There is obviously a reason and I must be content knowing that, even if I have no inkling what it could be!

My paid-work life continues to give me such satisfaction, I pinch myself to make sure it is really, truly real! The opening of our Breastfeeding Centre in October seems to have been a catalyst for all sorts of karma falling in to place and the feeling you get from being there is tangible. It is a place I love to be and it seems others do too, which has me stoked. We are achieving so much already off our list of dreams and more opportunities just keep opening up. We are very blessed.

On the home front, I have it on good authority that I no longer have any "children", as they are now all officially adults. Nice to know that when I trip over their stuff LOL! Our crowded nest continues to function far more effectively than you would imagine and even the addition of a new (Melissa's) car has not proven too challenging to accomodate. We have resolved one of our household dilemmas by resuming having our meat/Fruit & veg delivered, with the addition of bread and milk, and that means the masses are eating better despite the revolving front door. You know, I have heard that our house is actually "unpeopled" at times, however it is so rare and random, a burglar could never count on it!!!

My latest obession is my new Blackberry Bold, which I LURVE already! My poor old PDA was dragging me down having to haul it and my Motorola phone everywhere I went and I decided to just bite the bullet and streamline. With the added benefits of a real keyboard (so I can SMS back now!) and the ability to email, access Facebook and all else that assists my abilities to function, I am very happy. I did compare the iPhone with the BB Bold and all I really discovered is they each have pros and cons and neither camp will recommend the enemy! I went for the BB because I like a real keyboard, not a touch screen. And once the "little " hiccup with Telstra's set up is resolved, I will be online-on-the-road, which will make my chiropractor happy as I won't need to haul my faithful laptop quite so much.

Speaking of Facebook - I did say it was dangerous and boy - is it ever! With over 700 Friends, it is a communication dream for someone like me and I am having so much fun catching up with old friends and making new ones. And now I am on Twitter as well - there is no hope! I am doomed to be attached to the internet forever!

Oh, and lest you think I spend every moment online, I am really enjoying my two yoga classes each week and can feel the improvement in my body. AND I have been taking swimming lessons once a week for two months and am making progress on my non-existant Freestyle technique, which stalled with a primary school hissy fit almost 40  years ago! My ego is boosted discovering I am a very good and very fast backstroker and once I get this Freestyle thing conquered, I hope to be able to swim regularly for exercise.

And this is the last week of restricted dog access on the beach for "summer" so Molly and I will be walking there even more! All this combined with better eating and I feel a new wardrobe coming on to fit the new, lean me :) who has been swaddled in a rounder me in recent years!

So there is me, in a nutshell - which is a good place for a nut, really :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Quarter Century

Twenty five years ago right now, my life changed forever.

In a moment, I moved into the role of mother.

Today Melissa is celebrating her 25th birthday and I am reflecting on that life-changing moment. Up until then, like most pregnant women, I had focussed on Having a Baby!!! I was "fully prepared", which meant I had read all the pregnancy, child birth and parenting books on the library shelves (twice), I had all the "necessities" as proscribed in those texts, I had completed my antenatal classes and packed my hospital bag. I had even gotten my head around the last-minute (37 weeks)shift from natual birth to elective caeserean.

I really believed we were all set!

Isn't it the biggest joke of all - letting expectant first-time mothers lull themseleves into a state of preparedness? As if anything could prepare you for the cataclismic shift about to occur in your life. A change which has absolutely nothing to do with 3 dozen whiter-than-white cloth nappies!

You see, I am still recovering from that shock that hits with more power than any earthquake, cyclone or bushfire and leaves such long-lasting after effects. The laughable suggestion that the umbilical cord is severed soon after birth, when all mothers know it is a magical connection that lasts for eternity, stretching but never breaking as your infant becomes toddler, child becomes teenager and hurtles into life as an adult - all while you were briefly blinking the tears of joy from your eyes.

Mothering really is a career of a lifetime.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Blackest Week

This time last week, I was about to set off to our ABA conference, full of hope and anticipation.

What a long seven days it has been.

The conference was not one of my favourite weekends, as fate conspired to turn everything I touched to mud! But that quickly paled into insignificance.

The worst bushfires ever seen in Australia touched volunteers and their families who were right there with us in Ballarat. One family learned they had lost everything but each other. Other volunteers were aware their homes were  under threat and others were unable to get home due to road blocks across the state.

The Association rallied alongside the rest of the country and there were positive moments over the following days as we arranged a donation drive for the ABA volunteer and her family to start again.

Mid-week, another shock: baby Jordan Trigger, son of counsellor Jo in my region, was delivered prematurely at only 27 weeks gestation. Amazingly, this little fighter is doing well and breathing for himself, but there is a long journey ahead with no certainties.

Worst of all, there was more devasting news to come. Yesterday, Thursday February 12 2009, my lovely ABA friend Querida David, lost her son Rhys to a car accident. Rhys would have been 20 on Saturday and was the most lovely young man who I was honoured to have known. Querida is the newly-appointed ABA National President and spent last weekend attending our conference as an esteemed guest. She was at the forefront of supporting everyone during that anxious time and that despite her own home facing fire threat in NSW.

Today is supposed to be a celebration in our family: Kieran was born 18 years ago. My youngest child is now an adult. Yesterday, his sister Melissa went for her driving test and passed after failing just a few weeks ago. We should be celebrating her independence to drive alone after 7 years on her learner's permit, yet it is bittersweet.

As we move through difficult times in the coming weeks, supporting friends who are always there when we need them, it is a blessing to be a part of the large ABA family who have rallied support. My suggestion to post the above Mother's Love rose on Facebook profiles has bloomed into an amazing tribute.

If you would like to contribute, the Victorian Branch of the Australian Breastfeeding Association is collecting donations for one of our volunteer breastfeeding counsellors, whose family of two adults and four children have lost everything. Donations of major store gift cards can be delivered or mailed to the Breastfeeding Centre, Australian Breastfeeding Association, Suite 3/71 Robinson St, Dandenong VIC 3175.

I will arrange a condolence book for Querida at our Victorian office and invite all my ABA family to visit and sign over the coming weeks. 

Please keep little Jordan in your thoughts as he continues to fight for life.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

There is a little old lady inside me, trying to break out!

This week I found a white hair on my forearm!

It is her again, the old woman I will be one day, struggling to break through to the surface. I know she is in there, she makes an assault now and then. 

I have no issue with aging, in fact I embrace every age I am and look forward to those I have  yet to reach. I find people older than I inspiring (I also find those younger than I inspiring - and those my age!) I don't run around trying products that fight the signs of aging - whatever that means - I just look after this 45 year old body with the presumption it is about half-way through its life and needs to stay healthy and strong for the second half.

I have good genes when it comes to aging - my family history contains many octa- and nona-generains. Although my father passed away in 2003 aged 74, his poor health was all due to lifestyle issues (smoking, drinking, poor diet, sedentary life and no medical care!). On the other hand, his older sister enjoyed her 81st birthday last year and is a bundle of energy in mind, body and spirit! And their cousins are alive - one as fit as a Mallee bull, the other Strong in health and body, but struck down by dementia in her late 80s :(. My mother is alive, aged 74 and all her older siblings are too - aged up to the 80s. But my prognosis is good for another 40 odd years or more!

So I don't want to look like a 20yo or even a 30yo: I want to look like a healthy, active 40 something. I might have MS and a few other health issues I cannot control, but I can still do my best to prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other illness caused by poor lifestyle. It is more important what you put on the inside of your body than what you slather on the outside (with the exception of sunscreen!).

My older goddess within can stay inside for a while longer. She can keep sending through her grey hairs and her creases in my skin, the aches and pains in my feet and the other signs our body is changing. On the outside, I still colour my hair, but a lighter colour now, in recognition of the changes she makes. I put water into my body and I seal it in with regular moisturising and I do my best to keep the damaging sun of my face. I might wear more comfortable shoes, but I still paint my toenails outrageous colours!!!

I hope I am aging disgracefully - I try very hard to!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Getting it all together

Okay, so like most people, the new year motivates me to have a good clean out and make organising improvements.

This year, my focus seems to be electronic and I thought I would share some tools that I currently swear by:

iGoogle - I began using this as my home page a few months ago and am loving it. It is free and you can add gadgets that suit what you want from your page. I have a Facebook gadget, a bookmark box, the weather, news updates, my Google Reader and Google news alerts, a Mark Twain quote of the day, an Oprah update gadget, the weather radar and my Remember The Milk box (see below).

Google Chrome - I am still in trial mode with this, but have made the change because I was having more and more crashes with Internet Explorer. It doesn't work with Robo Form (see below) which has me grumpy, so we will see how it goes. And I cannot work out why I can't have my Google toolbar on a Google product! I miss my auto fill!!

Remember The Milk - not the first task manager/to do list I have tried, but I like that this one can have gadgets on the places you do stuff and can sync with my PDA. It is easy to use and free for the basic model.

Robo Form - I have been using this for ages now, after a friend shared her "Robocop" secret! It looks after all my logins and passwords, which drive me mad! I love it, love it! A toolbar on your web browser - unless you are using Google Chrome - and it can sync with your PDA, which means you can still access the data if your computer is elsewhere.

Carbonite Back Up - You MUST get this!!! It backs up all your stuff, all the time, online and automatically! You can sleep at night. 

Good Sync - Only just got this, normally I use the Windows sync tool, but so far this looks like a good option. Remember The Milk wanted this to run Milk Sync.

Media Monkey - for when iTunes is driving me batty, this gives me full control over where my music is. 

Media Master - because my music files are not all in my laptop, this online site lets me upload ALL of my music and then I can just listen online!!

Pedometer - hah, just in case you thought I spend ALL my time on the keyboard, I got myself a pedometer and am racking up at least my 10 000 steps a day, often up to 15 000 and on Sunday (when Melissa and I were in the City) 24 000!!!!!!!

TiVo - what can I say? I have waited patiently for several years for this to arrive in Australia. Now I watch the TV shows I want, when I want and I lurve it! One less barrier to walking the dog :)

Will I be more organised? At least I FEEL more organised right now :)