Thursday, June 25, 2015

Do yourself a favour... The Devil in the Marshalsea

cover of book The Devil in the Marshalsea

When you read a great book you just have to share it with everyone. My latest read I was reluctant to even start.

The Devil in the Marshalsea is my current book club book. I totally judge a book by its cover, I know I shouldn't but I do. This book is black and dark and falls in the crime/thriller section, these are the areas I usually avoid.

However it also hangs out in the historical section and that is an area that rarely fails me.

I started The Devil in the Marshalsea with little expectation. I hoped it wouldn't be too 'thriller', not to gory.

Lucky we had a lazy weekend because once I got started I barely stopped. On Sunday morning I kept reading until midday, forcing myself to stop. You know those people who are early to school pick up and sit in the car park for an hour? I now know what they are doing, they are reading great books, well, that is what I planned into my day.

Tom is the main character who is very down on his luck. He ends up in the debtors prison, and prison of any kind in 1725 wasn't a place you wanted to be. You can trust no one and believe nothing.

Tom can earn his freedom from the prison by finding out who murdered an inmate recently, but every time you think you might know where it's about to go the next twist and turn springs on you. You now how you think of those people that are not obvious and think you are clever enough to have the book sorted...and each time you are wrong!

I am not going to say too much more as you just don't want spoilers in this book.

I really was on edge as I read it, I felt anxious reading as I worried for Tom and how he'd cope with each new day. Yet, I couldn't stop reading, desperate to know which character would be next to help him out of his latest troubles.

Do yourself a favour and have a read of this one.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It’s ok to play on social media with your kids.

I get lots of questions from parents about using social media. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know anything about having a teenager and social media, but I know that giving your kid a device and deciding they are now old enough to just do what all the other kids are doing these days isn’t the best choice for most kids.

Lots of parents will say to me, “I don’t really do that social media thing”, which is fine, but guess what, you need to figure it out.

If the oldies are getting on facebook, you can check out a few apps, you can take a look at what the cool kids are playing with.

You could even have a family account on an app that your kids want to play with.

We have one on Instagram.  Mr H controls it, but the kids are allowed to put what they want on it. It’s a private account and they have six followers, but they follow a few interesting accounts. They can see their cousins photos and write comments on them. They can see beautiful photos from travel photographers and toursim accounts or nature photographers. Via our family instagram account our kids can see images from all over the world.

We talk about what kind of things you can put on instagram, like how it’s important to ask people first before you put them on. We make a big deal of not caring about who liked a photo or not, because they are sharing an image they like and want to keep for later, it’s not about everyone else. Sometimes we look at a hashtag and see what’s there.

Basically it’s a safe place for the kids to play, for us to show them how social can work and for them to make mistakes where no one will get upset.

Of course the nine year old has begged for her own account, but the answer here is no, she can do what she likes on the family account for a while yet.

The girls also get to use my little used Skype account. It’s been wonderful for Miss 6 to use. Her bestie has moved to America and she really misses her. The time differences are so great that they mainly only get to send messages, but she loves it so much. One weekend when they got to chat, she sat in her room and they talked about their new classes, their toys and silly stories. It was wonderful.

Kids don’t need their own social media accounts, but they can certainly benefit from the joys of social apps, and opening up an account that you all use together can be a safe place for little people to learn quite a lot, or, you might even learn a few things yourself.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Great marketing can protect our health. But...

If I started to sing Slip Slop Slap in the voice of a seagull with a lisp you would all probably sing along with me. That campaign started way back in 1981. I was 6 years old.

Back then,  I was sunburnt every time it was warm. At school there wasn’t a hat policy. No one had that expensive suncream stuff. We wore bikinis in the back yard, with maybe a singlet over the top. There wasn’t any SPF 50+ clothing or rashies or swimsuits.

Ten years later and my Dad, would often tell my sister and I we were foolish for sunbaking. He’d ask if we thought we would look good with big holes in our faces where the doctors might have to cut skin cancers out.

We responded by spraying more Sun In or squirting lemon juice on our hair.

Throw in another twenty years and my nine year old has never ever been sunburnt like I was as a kid. It starts in crèche with sun smart policies where three year olds have little ‘suncream’ stations where they learn to apply it before they go out to play in the morning and afternoon. Because no teacher has time to reapply 25 kids three times a day.

Now as a grown up my daily moisturiser has SPF 15+ in it, so does my hand cream, I can even get shampoos and hair care with sun protection in them.

I have lightweight summer scarves to protect me from the sun.

Our babies have sunshades over the already tinted car windows and even their prams have sun protection covers.

The Slip Slop Slap marketing campaign has changed the thinking of millions of people and saved thousands of lives, crazy amounts of people really.

But, we are so sun smart that a new condition has started to occur for those of us in the Southern States. 

We are lacking Vitamin D. 

We don’t get enough sun in the winter time.

I couldn’t believe it. Mr H is always getting as much sun as he can and he came back with test results saying he is lacking in Vitamin D.

It’s pretty easy to happen. Work in an office, wear a hat, wear clothes, keep under cover when it’s raining, exercise in a gym,

But what happens without the BIG D anyway?

Well, Quite a lot.  We are more like plants than you think and we really need a stack of water and a hit of sun to make us grow strong bones. No sun is linked to a whole range of stuff best avoided, MS and diabetes among them! That's serious illness. Then there is your mental health too, sun = happy.

The kids also need it to make sure they have strong bones and teeth. All that brushing won’t help if their teeth are not even strong enough to hang around.

In the summer time you probably get the Vitamin D you need, but if you are in a colder climate, from May to September your body is probably not. If you have SPF in your facecream and hand cream, and wearing your winter woollies covering the rest of your body, then you are not getting a scrap of Vitamin D for over four months. Remember your body can’t store Vitamin D, so it doesn’t matter how much you got back on your January beach holiday, your bones need more.

I tell you ladies, we don’t want to be falling over on the dance floor of life and cracking bones just because we didn’t get enough sun shine.

So what to do?
Well, you could eat more fish but hardly anyone gets enough Vit D from food.
Instead, try a winter skin care regime, that simply means your make up or moisturiser has no SPF in it. (Unless you are going to the snow, then use your summer stuff, that glare will burn you like a marshmallow in a fire).

Get outside in the daytime, or sit by a big sunny window with your arms getting some sunshine. Walk your baby in the middle of the day and let them get some sun on them too.

I am in NO WAY suggesting you try and get enough sun to burn your skin. You don’t need to go that far, just 15 minutes of sun on your hands during the middle of the day is what you need. It might be just hanging out the washing.

If you live in a sunny place like Queensland, you don’t really need to read this so much, you probably get enough and sun protection is still your reality.

Lastly and importantly, remember I AM NOT A DOCTOR. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. You should always take the advice of your doctor. But next time you have to take a routine blood test, consider asking if they can check your Vitamin D (if they are not already) and make sure you are giving your body the sunshine it needs.

Better Health also tells you all the facts, and they are real doctor types.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The one thing I'd tell you if you are about to have surgery.

Last week I was walking from my car to the office. My office being an overcrowded box overflowing with marketing stuff that I seem to always accumulate, in the offices of a hospital. Around my hospital there are three other big hospitals and countless rooms of the best doctors you can hope to find.

Waiting at the lights, after just missing the green man, the lady beside me was walking two steps ahead of her husband before stopping right next to me. This couple were around 60 something years old. He was carrying the bigger bags, she had her handbag and her 'Important Things' bag. I call it this because I picture her at home that morning, after being awake most of the night, putting all those last little important things in it. The things she really had to have with her. Her medications. Her referral. Copies of her scans. It was a clear bag and I could see them all.

I noticed her short, slow and deliberate breathing, the kind that usually suggests an anxious or upset mind. I could feel the self defence prickles growing from her as her husband suggested he carry the Important Things bag. He had no idea how she needed to be in control of that bag. It was like the bags gave her her calmness, her balance. His kindness was making her cranky. The kind of cranky you can only be with the people you love the most.

I don't know which of the hospitals she was going to, nor what medical needs she had. Those two things are irrelevant. I know she was going to have some kind of health need met and it was likely surgery of some kind that required a few nights in hospital.

I wanted to give her a hug and tell her I know how it feels to be walking into the hospital not knowing the answers yet. But I really wanted to say to her, "the nursing team are going to look after you". The staff are really really really going to look after you. Where you are going right now, the people there, they want to look after you and make you better.

Nurses are special types and they do understand how you feel. They are going to look after you. They are going to help you with the pain and they are going to be happy to answer your questions. They know you don't want to be there and they want to do what they can to get you home as soon as they can.

I know this, because they told me.