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January 2013

Starting school guide . Growing up gay . Kids on the coast. Dads in isolation

Pioneer parenting . Blog at the coalface . Recipes . Technology . Competitions Y O U R N E W F R E E PA R E N T I N G M A G A Z I N E F O R T H E G E E L O N G R E G I O N

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CONTENTS Page 6 - A look at the year ahead Page 7 - Bed parenting at it’s best Page 8 - FEATURE - Growing up gay Page 10 - Blogging from the coalface Page 12 - Dads in isolation Page 13 - Staying connected to kids Page 14 - Starting school guide Page 16 - FEATURE - The pioneer parent Page 19 - The child’s brain Page 20 - Coastal kids Page 22 - Cooking creations Page 27 - WHAT’S ON - events and activities

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Kids’ Voice is a monthly publication for parents with children of all ages. Each month the magazine will be jam-packed with news, views, reader stories, feature articles, advice columns as well as product, book and website reviews. There will be somethng for everyone. Experts have joined our team and will provide regular columns to ensure you’re in the know about all sorts of issues in the areas of health, education and alternative therapies. EDITOR



Rob Angus Phone: 0457 007 463 STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Alan Barber GRAPHICS

Elise Blach

PO Box 54, Ocean Grove Victoria, 3226 Phone; 03 5255 3233 Fax: 03 5255 3255 Find us on Facebook Voice Geelong COVER MODEL

Ashley Fiorillo

No part of this magazine, incudling the advertisements, may be reproduced without permission of the editor. The opinions expressed within Kids’ Voice magazine are not necessarily the views of the publisher, but those of individual writers.

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Have a think about it I have to admit I am a Christmas grinch of a pretty high calibre. I do it well and I do it consistently. My favourite Christmases since becoming a grinch were the ones when I was overseas and didn’t really have to participate at all except to lob up at someone’s lunch on the day. Christmas is a time for me to get all high and mighty about consumerism because, to quote the film Fight Club, “we all buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like”. Now don’t get me wrong – I love to shop. I love spending money and I get great pleasure from even buying small things – retail therapy works for me. But a line has to be drawn somewhere, especially when people send skip-loads of perfectly decent goods to landfill because they can’t be bothered getting rid of them through second-hand outlets. Believe me, this happens all the time. It’s the waste that bothers me and it’s the desire to have more than we need that I find concerning as well. It’s in this vein I can tell you I was recently heartened by the actions of a dear friend at Christmas. She is a new mum and her son is only six months old. This woman is also amazingly good with money and knows the value of a dollar. She is financially stable enough to have bought her baby boy a million toys, especially since it’s her and her husband’s first child. But they didn’t. They bought just one. A toy truck. This is a child who can’t quite sit up yet. He can play with mobiles and loves listening to stories. But he can’t do much else yet. He can only watch his parents play with the truck. Of course friends and family bought him plenty of other stuff. This child did not miss out on anything. But it was my friend who was worried by her

actions. And it was Facebook that made her feel she’d done something wrong. The photo post of her boy and his truck was soon surpassed by photo after photo of children under one years old surrounded by their loot (which they would barely have been able to open themselves). What exactly are those children going to do with all those toys? Too soon it will be their birthday and then next Christmas? My friend was mortified. She asked me if she had been a bad parent. Naturally I was the perfect person to ask!! I easily mollified her with gripes about setting an example and our desperate need to overwhelm with kindness. She did the right thing. Her child will never know he only got one present for his first Christmas. And if he does discover that his parents are sensible, he will probably love them all the more. I do wonder this. How does this level of spoiling a child, who is COMPLETELY unaware of the length and breadth of his riches, bring any satisfaction to the parents? Obviously it must somehow though. They’re definitely patting themselves on their backs and gleefully posing the child among its loot. To me it does nothing to encourage youngsters to see the value of money and the importance of moderation. From year one they will be expecting a bigger and bigger prize pool. This is me being a grinch. This is me begging you to show your love in other ways. Life is all about the experience, not the possessions. We need to show our children the way.


Illustration - Annalise Mayer

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A LOOK AHEAD We are off and running with 2013 now underway. With each year I am amazed at the rate that technology is advancing. While no one can accurately predict the future, we can use facts to make estimates on what is to come. Information technology is advancing so fast that during the past 30 years, we have seen the cost and size of technology going from $3million building-sized institutional computers to being as cheap as a few dollars a month for a smart phone which can easily fit in the palm of your hand. Where to next? Perhaps things like the ability for gesture recognition, smell sensing and more automatic responses. Most advances are there to make our lives easier, and sometimes it isn’t until something is invented that you realise how much you needed it. I am sure there are many people out there that still don’t realise the capability of their computer or their mobile phone and simply use it for typing letters or making phone calls. This year I think we will find an even greater push for wireless connections. There are still some restrictions in place that will delay this for some, but everyone should be guaranteed a faster connection. There is nothing like capturing the moment of your child’s first step. Most mobiles and tablets have the ability to take reasonable photos and videos, and in some cases they can take a better image than a regular camera. With only about 2 per cent of digital photos actually being printed, this means that we need a mass amount of storage space for the other 98 per cent. There are already some websites such as Flickr, Photobucket and Snapfish, that are dedicated for storing images, but the volume of data is increasing at a rapid rate. In fact there are around 3500 images uploaded to Flickr every second, and it currently stores around five billion images. The need for preserving the growing volume of data needs to keep up and new standards for storing online need to evolve with those needs. Quick Response Codes (commonly known as QR Codes) were originally designed for industrial use, but are now

being used for consumer advertising. People are able to download the App for their smart phone, scan the code and instantly be directed to a website where they can purchase online. Marketers have found that the use of QR Codes are great for conversion rates, whereby the chances that a consumer will make a purchase after seeing an advertisement are greater. This is why the use of QR codes has increased more than 5000 per cent since early 2010 and is expected to increase even further. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are expected to snowball even further. By looking at current figures, it is predicted that by the end of 2013 1.5billion people will be using Facebook. That is nearly one in every four people. Who would have thought?

One prediction that I came across was that an expert Disney Imagineer predicted that people will be able to have a microchip implant that is basically an Internet connector. This implant would allow people to understand any written language, calculate any equation, and keep in touch with the latest news and weather.

There will also be some more development in the use of 3D technology. Since the release of Avatar in 3D at the cinemas in 2009, three dimensional movies are becoming more and more popular. Moving forward I think we will see 3D compatibility to be incorporated into games consoles and personal computers.

SHELLEY GROSS is the director at

I am all for advances in technology, but I personally think this is taking things a little too far. It has been fun exploring where we are heading in the next twelve months. But I can’t even begin to imagine how far things will advance in our children’s lifetime.

Wonderful Websites. Phone 0447 353 033,

email or visit

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READER VOICE Some mothers know how to take time when they need to and Mary Card has made sure to perfect the art of parenting from her bed. Look. I’ve only been mothering for less than a decade (seven years and counting) but if you combine the ages of my children, I have 15 years of experience. But only with my own kids. And only with kids aged seven and under. Still with me? No, me neither. I failed a lot of maths at school. Anyway, in the day-to-day business of mothering, you get to see lots of other people in their day-to-day business of mothering (or fathering, but facts are, I mostly see mothers) But first, a little background on my “parenting style”. There are styles now, which is good for me, because I lack style. I am a self-confessed lazy mother. I have small children, so I’m walking around half asleep much of the time. This is why I created my (patent-pending) Parenting From Bed System. Some days, I try hard to stay in bed as long as possible. Mostly I am prevented from doing this by the pesky education system requiring children to be at school five days a week and my fear of going to the shops in my pyjamas, but every now and then I am so very tired I need to lie in bed and read my book or look at Facebook on the laptop. So I invented Parenting From Bed. It involves lots of shouted instructions, plenty of bribery and some preparation. If I can feel a Parenting From Bed morning coming on, I start preparing the night before. I get the cereal down from the high shelf so they can pour (read: fling) their own cereal. I clear away dangerous stuff (my handbag, chainsaws, Underbelly DVDs, Herald Sun newspaper) and I find my book and put it next to my bed in readiness. The kids are awake. First, wait until they come to your room. It’s critical to stay in bed and hide your potential

mobility. Then, bribe the one with the best fine-motor skills to pour the milk on the cereal for the other kids. Some people like to use the father for this. It’s up to you. Next, open your book and start reading. Soon enough you will hear a thump/conflict/copious weeping or, worst of all, nothing. If you hear a thump, wait for the crying. If the crying is bad, sorry, you may have to get out of bed, but probability is they’ll come running for a warming cuddle with mum. If you hear conflict, wait again. They’ll probably come to your bedside and you can make a ruling from your bed, sort of like Judge Judy in Jim Jams. For copious weeping, see thump. Now, if you hear NOTHING AT ALL, abort mission!

ABORT MISSION! Leap out of bed and sprint from room to room until you find the source of the silence, which can be anything from raiding your handbag, (I knew I forgot something) mixing flour with olive oil to see what happens, giving the dog a haircut or watching Channel Nine. If any of these things happen, don’t be disheartened. Sort out the problem, get back on the horse (bed) and lie straight down. After all, you’re Parenting From Bed because you’re tired.


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Feeling the difference I wasn’t raised by wolves. Nor was I neglected or unloved. In fact, as a young kid, I felt secure, happy and hopeful. I also barely encountered the type one might deem a social outcast, misfit or undesirable. Rather, I had an exceptionally ordinary, uncomplicated home life.

was, sadly, not a place I could open up about the turmoil’s and confusion I was experiencing. As far as I was aware, Mum and Dad had similar feelings about gays as the kids at school. The difference being, however, they weren’t associating me with those opinions. Not outwardly, at any rate.

My older brother and I swayed between playing and arguing, and my parents worked hard to keep a humble home. There were times we had extra money for holidaying, and there were times we didn’t.

As time went on, and I began to realise the school bullies might actually be right about who I was, my fear intensified. The fear that, not only am I truly this person they feel so adamantly against, but that my family would also disapprove of the real me, should they ever find out.

Starting high school, however, marked the realisation that, as ordinary as I felt – most others considered me anything but. I knew I wasn’t the clichéd geek - I simply wasn’t smart enough. And with my lack of sporting experience, I was a far cry from the jock category. So I suppose, if I had to classify myself - I felt I was somewhere in between the two. Though, one never knows until faced with the frightening reality of peer dynamics and segregation. And there was certainly no time wasted having my place designated within the pecking order. Instantly, most other kids saw me differently, and thus, treated me as such. I didn’t need to say or do anything to provoke such a response. In fact, I was reasonably shy, and tried my best to avoid standing out at all. As if by default, I became one of those so-called social outcasts and undesirables. For what reason, however, I couldn’t at first decipher. I’d done nothing to warrant this persecution, other than sit back, be myself and mind my own business. Yet, it eventually dawned on me. Being myself was the problem. Being myself was what the others were repelled by. Being myself was ruining my adolescence. These young boys and girls had quickly and correctly assumed, long before it had crossed my own mind, that I was gay. I simply

wasn’t one of the guys. Typical name-calling and bullying were rife - and whether or not I was in the dark about my sexuality or not, such verbal bashing was severely damaging. Being subjected to this treatment when so young and impressionable, and faced with serious personal inner conflict meant my home was a place to escape to. School certainly was not. And looking back - although I felt loved at home, and certainly wasn’t bullied or ostracised; I was, unfortunately, fully aware that my parents did not condone homosexuality. They didn’t shout their disapproval from any great heights, but the occasional comment here and there were enough for a young person to interpret that being gay was not okay. So while home was a safe haven from the hell of school – it

I became self-conscious to the extreme. Acutely aware that the sound of my voice or any given mannerism may be indicative of the person I knew needed to be hidden. My self-consciousness turned to paranoia. What if something I wear isn’t masculine enough? Does my taste in music give something away? Should I change the things I talk about? I was prepared to do anything to suppress myself. I couldn’t let the bullies know they were right and add ammunition to their attack. And I certainly couldn’t risk losing the only love and security I had – my family. I discovered that keeping oneself hidden, and posing as something you’re not – is not only exhausting, but soul destroying. After some time, I had literally altered the way I walked, the sound and expression of my voice and my personality generally. I feigned an interest in girls and repressed my interest in the same sex. And I did so, not for weeks or months – but years and years. After learning to push my real self virtually into oblivion, quite soon I was unable to access those parts any longer, leaving my forced behaviour to become ingrained. The devastating fact about doing that to myself, is that when I finally came out to my family after finishing high school – not

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FEATURE think you could have done differently will have the slightest relevance. You need to understand from the get go that sexual identity can be an intensely difficult and potentially damaging prospect – one which must be approached with sensitivity, an open mind and unconditional love. Your child may or may not wish to discuss their sexuality at length, but let them know they have the option to, with a nonjudgmental ear at the ready. They will do so in their own time. Be sure to avoid suggesting it might be a ‘phase’. If it is – they will work that out themselves. Clutching to the ‘phase’ notion implies a lack of approval, and that you are obviously hoping your child isn’t gay. Truthfully, many parents don’t want their children to go through the difficulties of a gay life. But trust me, denial in any form will only add to potential difficulties. Acceptance is key. Changing ones sexuality is not even a remote possibility. All of my hiding and fear, repression and altered personality could have been avoided had I only felt my parents held a different stance on homosexuality. Particularly as, my learned behaviours stayed with me. In fact, twenty years later they continue to persist, while my authentic self remains suffocated underneath, struggling as to how to normalise. This has lead to depression and anxiety, which I continue to battle with.

one of them had anything but love, support and admiration for me. They acknowledged my bravery, and iterated their acceptance with gusto. Yet, for me – telling them was such a mammoth risk. I honestly felt that rejection and intense disapproval were probable options. My advice to loving parents is this. Try to consider that any child on earth could be gay, including your own, whether there are indicators or not. Sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with ones parenting and everything to do with each individual’s genetic makeup. My brother’s upbringing was almost identical to mine, and you couldn’t find a more heterosexual guy. Make it clear to your children as they develop that hetero and

homosexuals are equal, and that gays exist in all cultures across every region of the world. Make it especially clear you have nothing against those who are different, and you love your family unconditionally. Even if your child isn’t gay, you will be teaching them to extend the same respect and equality to their fellow peers (at least one of who is statistically likely to be gay), which may result in a happier childhood for somebody else. Where’s the harm in that? If your child confides in you, whether it be questioning their sexuality, or actually coming out – immediately discard all notions of blame. Nobody is to blame. Not you, not your child’s peers and certainly not your child themselves. Nothing you

But of course, I’m one of the lucky ones. My family embraced me with open arms when I came out. I’m only too aware that many gay youngsters have not been as fortunate to encounter the same reaction. As an adult and especially as a parent, you know you have a responsibility to nurture and listen to your offspring. But remain open to challenging your beliefs, your past, your hang-ups. When you can truly accept, you can then learn to celebrate your child for the unique, special creation they truly are. And there lies the path to a happy life for them, and a real relationship with you.


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BLOG Some days I wonder why I leave the house It’s true. Some mornings are shockers. Breakfast has ended up on the floor, while you haven’t managed to have any yet. The baby has become target practice for the three year old, you’ve had three lots of tears already, some yours, and when you look at the clock you realise it is only 8 o’clock in the morning. Let’s get out of the house you think, as though fresh air and a change of scenery will somehow imbue your toddler with the serenity of a Buddhist monk. So you pack the pram, dress the kids, get out of your pyjamas, grab a banana and some money for an urgent, life saving coffee, get the dog, forget your phone, run back in, forget water, run back in, answer phone, put the toddler back in the pram, ask for fifth time whether he wants you to carry his bike, smell poo on the baby, run back in to change him. Start over. So eventually you get out of the front gate. By now the neighbours are rolling their eyes at each other over the fence and exclaiming that “children these days….” as their teenagers wander out the front gate and up to catch the school bus. You feel your cheeks flush as you walk down the road, mad at yourself for losing your temper again, and a bit guilty that you have given in and let the three year old play a game on your phone, just so you can berate yourself silently in your head for five minutes about being a terrible mother. And then you finally get wherever you are going. Dog runs off, eventually returns covered in a thick black substance that seems to glow with some radioactive vengeance. Baby squirms around in the pram, no longer happy to be at the whim of his older brother’s attention span, and the toddler finds some fascinating tree that he has to work on and you cannot possibly go anywhere else. Some strangers arrive to your delight, as there is another adult to distract you from the

boredom of returning the toys that come flying out of the pram and searching through the reeds for the missing dog. Cue angry, selfish, rude three year old. “I don’t want that girl to be here. She has a mean face”. Oh fantastic. So now instead of having a five-minute conversation, I am wrestling the octopus back into the pram and the unsociable child on his bike away from the offended strangers. Dog still hasn’t returned. Baby is now fully cracking it. Toddler is bawling. It’s only 9am. I ask myself again, why do I bother leaving the house at all. I could have enjoyed this foul mood, grizzly baby and hyperactive dog at home. And then I remember why I left the house, because it’s only 9am.

You just hope they fit in I spied on my three-year-old son today. He was at occasional care for the afternoon and they had gone outside to play. You can see the yard from where we park the car so I crept up to the fence and peeked through. He was just sitting on one of those cool old tyre swings by himself. He wasn’t talking to the other kids or playing with anyone else. It made me a bit sad. I have asked the ladies who run it if he has friends and they vaguely answer something about they all play together. He is a very social kid, some might say a bit too social.

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BLOG He loves to be in the company of others and I know in other situations he plays happily with other kids. So maybe it is just this place. Maybe he was just a bit tired today after all our mechanic playing in the yard and exploring down the creek. Maybe he just likes his own company.

are? My second baby is cuddly and clingy and cries as soon as someone else cuddles him. In this house, that won’t last too long. It’s lovely that he loves his Mumma, but it’s important that he has the courage and tenacity to explore and push boundaries just like his brother. And hopefully in time he will.

I think it’s great that he can play on his own. When the weather is nice, he is a very happy vegemite playing outside all day, with or without me around. I hope he has a strong enough sense of self and a wild enough imagination that he can make the world interesting, even when it isn’t. But I also want him to fit in.

Boys have a license to get dirty, wrestle, and be unable to sit still for too long. They are expected to love sport, play outdoors, build, create, laugh and go silly. I want my boys to have this. But I also want them to love books all their lives. I want them to be able to listen to other people. I want them to dance and sing and dress up. And eventually I want them to be able to cook for themselves and enjoy sharing it with others, and then clean up afterwards.

I know what happens to kids who are a little bit different. Or who try too hard to fit in with others. As a teacher, I’ve spent lots of time with annoying kids who just don’t get why the others don’t want to hang out with them. And it breaks your heart when you see kids that are lonely. It’s a horrible feeling for an adult, and I wouldn’t wish it on any kids, no matter the pitch of their voice.

As their mum, it’s my responsibility to teach them all of these skills, to nurture the talents they have and expose them to new ideas and experiences. I look after them most of the time so I get the gig of showing them what to value, how to behave around others, how to practice manners, all while trying to make sure they are having a fair bit of fun. And I’m the talker in the house, so I hope something they do learn from me is how important it is to communicate, to express themselves, to be heard. In my family it’s a girl thing, but I’d like to break that mold a little.

I hadn’t ever really thought about it before. Usually I am just hoping he won’t offend anyone. But today I just wanted him to be happy, to see him have fun, to play with the others. He is very articulate so I’m sure he will tell me later when I pick him up whether he had fun and whom he played with.

Their dad’s job is to teach them to pee standing up and how to treat women; he’s a bit of an expert in those areas. Then maybe when the boys grow up, they can teach their dad a few tricks of their own.

And then I can give him a big cuddle and happily be the mechanic in our backyard again.

The House of penis Yes that’s right, I am officially living in the House of Penis. Two sons, a husband, and a male golden retriever means that I am surrounded by four of them. It’s not the turkey necks that are the problem, it’s all of the testosterone and the boy stuff that goes along with them. I love boys. I teach boys. I married one and I gave birth to two. And I grew up with two younger brothers that I still adore. Boys are funny and wild and energetic and active. They do rather than say. They run rather than walk. They open it to figure out how it

works and smash it on the ground to see what will happen. They jump and run and climb and throw. They are naughty, repentant and forgetful. They love their mums and want to be like their dads. But sometimes they are uncommunicative, rough and insensitive. Not all of them, not all of the time, but they can be. Even though my two boys are so little, they are already so different. Is it because of how they are being raised? Is it because of the order they fit into the family? Or is it just because that is who they

As for the dog, well he still can’t cock his leg and we can’t seem to shut him up. But then again he has been spayed, so he’s probably a bit confused about which path to follow. So if there ever is another baby that happens to be a boy I would be absolutely rapt. But the next pet we get will definitely not have a willy.

LAURA GORDON is a mother who loves to blog. Visit

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READER VOICE The idea of dads as primary

carers isn’t revolutionary, but Jamie Duncan found women’s reactions a strangely confronting experience.

There were times when doing daddy day care duty made me so self-conscious, I avoided leaving the house. When my wife returned to work after the birth of our second child a few years ago, I switched to evening shifts and cared for our two girls, Sophie and Eloise, during the day. I kept on top of the household chores, cooked the evening meal and ensured the girls were bathed, clothed, fed and entertained, but strange reactions from women put me off venturing out with the girls on weekdays. I wasn’t embarrassed by my non-traditional role. I would do it again. I was embarrassed by the attention it seemed to focus on me. A simple trip down to the supermarket was a lesson in gender politics. Younger women, often with their own kids in tow, gawked approvingly. I could almost hear them thinking, “I wish I could get my partner to do that”. I was no hero, mind you. Caring for the girls by day and working by night so Caroline could return to work was a financial reality. Just as confronting was the reaction that generally came from older women. They would smile at the girls, tell me how lovely they were and then say something like, “I’ll bet mum is glad you have given her a few hours off ”. I felt as though my role as a parent was devalued completely in a single remark. They probably meant well but, after a while, I became indignant and felt the need to explain that, no, mum works and I’m it, baby. This led many to tell me I was “brave” I was to take on

Picture: that role, and this reaction made me even more selfconscious. Looking after Sophie and Eloise was never something I had to brave. They were a joy. It happened so often that I began to isolate myself. I found a 24-hour supermarket a few minutes from the office so that I could shop on my way home in the dead of night. I did all the banking and bill-paying online. Our maternal and child health nurse sent me several invitations to daytime parenting groups but I made excuses. Fatigue was always my co-pilot given the hours I kept. Compounding my sense of isolation, I worked my evening shift alone and only spent time with my wife on weekends. These factors possibly heightened my

sensitivity. In the end, I spent more than three years as a social fringe-dweller, and that was a big mistake. It didn’t affect my girls. We had a great time at home having tea parties, making porridge and playing games. I would do it all differently next time. I should have joined a parenting group. I should have been less anxious about outings alone with my girls. I should have talked to someone about the way I felt.

JAMIE DUNCAN is a freelance writer and a father of five.

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READER VOICE At my daughter’s primary school graduation, I replayed some treasured moments on my mental screen. These moments had become the past. She had changed.

Keep calm ... and carry coffee With a bit of careful planning, a trip to a cafe with your child can be a fun new experience. As parents or care-givers, it’s a natural and necessary need to get out of the house and socialise with other parents and the local coffee shop is usually the first stop.

The occasion confirmed how fast she was growing up. Although, it had already dawned on me earlier when sitting in the audience at GPAC with the whole family, when, unexpectedly, a lot of adult material was flying through the auditorium. Our son, then nine, just sat in his seat, mesmerised by the glitz and glamour of the show, but oblivious to the finer layers of meaning that were wafting through the room. Our daughter, on the other hand, rolled her eyes and shook her head at us, feeling a little bit disturbed but pleasantly naughty at the same time, and certainly did not want to talk about it. It — whatever that is.

A cafe can be a noisy place that can be very stimulating to a child. There are lots of new smells, sounds and tastes to experience. It’s a great idea to get your child used to eating out from a young age but you must be prepared for what their attention spans can handle. A child of 2-3 will only be able to sit still for a few minutes without running off or slinking under the table, whereas an older child may stay still for 20 minutes or so. To increase your chance of a longer lunch, plan ahead of your trip. Either feed your child beforehand of take a few familiar snacks to begin with before trying new foods. Take some toys or books to prevent them getting restless.

She had grown to keep many experiences, thoughts and feelings to herself, only communicating by moving a component of her face, or sometimes several at the same time. Where had I gone wrong? I had worked so hard on keeping the family close and talking. Suddenly her excitement only showed at the prospect of meeting with friends at the cinema, the pool or a sleepover. Somehow, during the winter, a thin layer of ice had formed, and we had to keep chipping away at it so it would not grow thicker. “How can we break it?” my husband asked. “By sharing. Gently,” I said. I started singing around the house, no matter how much I struggle with the very high and the very low notes. I just sing. And now she also sings to, and even with, me. We now discuss music, the mesmerising sound of the cello in popular music, breathing, Regina Spektor … And suddenly also writing. We discuss characters, names, setting and plot, and bounce ideas off each other. She implores me to read her stories, asks me to be ruthless, and handles my comments as they are intended. We pick holes into each other’s stories. We are on the same page. We write. I think I have

found an icebreaker or two. So for now we are talking. A lot. But I know I have to remain firmly in her world. Without being intrusive, just be there and hang on for the ride. Dad will have to find his own angle. Looking at the new calves in the paddock the other day was a good start. And with our son all will be different again. We will have to find a different icebreaker so he will not slip through our fingers. I am sure that, if we stay in touch, it will reveal itself. KERSTIN LINDROS

Cafes can be dangerous places with lots of hot drinks and sharp objects and hazards in the kitchen. Always supervise your children and walk with them to the bathrooms. Let them know it is unacceptable to run in a cafe and encourage ‘indoor voices’. If they are misbehaving speak to them calmly and quietly and reinforce the other customers good behaviour. If their behaviour gets out of hand take them outside and let them know that you will have to leave if they carry on. Teaching your child manners at the dinner table at home should be good practice for eating out. Remind them to eat with their mouth closed, keep elbows off the table, sit up properly and have a conversation without shouting over each other. Have conversations with them and involve them with choices of food or drinks and let them know that this is a special time just for you to share and have a treat. HELEN EVANS

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STARTING SCHOOL GUIDE Oral language skills (speaking and listening) • Understand and make the sounds of the English language • Express themselves clearly and make themselves understood • Understand what is being said to them • Follow instructions • Know that they need to take turns during conversation • Have acquired a well developed vocabulary How you can help develop these skills: • Sing/read nursery rhymes • Play a fun game in which your child must follow verbal instructions • Make up stories and encourage your child to do the same • Start a story and ask your child to complete it • Make up sentences that don’t make sense and ask your child to correct you. (eg. Mummy sat on the pie and went swimming). • Provide plenty of opportunities for your child to speak with other adults as well as other children • Use rich vocabulary and support them to gain an understanding of these words with multiple examples. As parents we’re not alone in wanting to provide our children with a positive and successful start to school. There are numerous teachers and psychologists that share our interest, possibly due to the fact that a significant amount of research has been performed that shows children who have a positive start to their school life are more likely to succeed throughout their school years than those who have a negative experience during the first year of school. To assist children with the transition to school, many schools and kindergartens have implemented programs that include orientation days, buddy programs

and introductory picnics at the beginning of the year. Although these initiatives are extremely effective (and viewed by many educators as essential) in aiding school transition, they can also potentially be somewhat redundant if children are simply not school ready when the time to go to school actually arrives. So what does it mean to be school ready? Well, a child needs to have reached certain intellectual, emotional, social and physical milestones. As parents and carers, we can greatly assist in developing our children in these areas.

• Read to your child for vocabulary development and an opportunity for shared conversation Pre-reading skills • Demonstrate an interest in books • Demonstrate print awareness (i.e. knows which way to hold a book and that we read from left to right) • Recognise his or her own name • Know the names and sounds of the letters in the alphabet • Be able to hear sounds that make up words (phonemic awareness)

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STARTING SCHOOL GUIDE How you can help develop these skills: • Point out the title of a book and ask them to guess what they think it will be about • Write his/her name using a variety of mediums eg. in sand, using paint, play-dough, on paper, cutting out sandpaper letters etc • Visit the library regularly • Read to your child regularly, let your child turn the pages • Read books on subjects that interest your child • While reading point to the words so that your child understands which way text flows • Ask your child questions about the stories to check comprehension • Ask your child to predict endings of books • Teach the letter sounds and names of the alphabet • Show your child the same letter can look different • Using craft, write words that your children will be interested in eg. truck, fairy etc • Label your home environment – eg. TV, cupboard, door, plant Pre-numeracy skills • Count and recognise numbers from 1 to 10 • Sort according to size or other groupings • Recognise different times of the day • Identify shapes and colours • Identify and continue simple patterns • Observe and compare objects

• Running, jumping, hopping skipping

• Play appropriately with other children

How you can help develop these skills:

• Balancing on beams

• Relate to adults

• Play counting games with your child – eg. count pips in an apple, cars driving past, birds that fly over

• Walking on stilts

• Show empathy for others

• Ask your child to sort/arrange objects – eg. size in order from largest to smallest or colour or animal groups

Fine motor skills

• Assert oneself when required

• Play colour games - eg. ask your child to collect 5 things from the garden that are green

• Colouring, painting and drawing - assist with preparation of holding a pencil correctly

• Ask for belongings as opposed to helping themselves

• Play with different shapes – eg. - make collages, make sandpaper shapes and run fingers around outline, paint different shapes

• Using play-dough and scissors for manipulating – strengthen muscles

• Be able to separate from caregiver

Emotional skills: • Be able to express and control emotional states such as anger, frustration, happiness, sadness, excitement & anxiety

• Demonstrate a sense of humour

• Writing, cutting, threading, doing up buttons, tearing paper - assist with hand – eye coordination • Playing with miniature cars, blocks, action figures

• Ask to join into games rather than ‘barging’ in • Be able to play in groups and on their own. How you can help develop these skills: • Model all behaviours eg. being polite and having positive interactions with people – let your children observe you socialising - they absorb and copy what you do

• Have the ability to cope with criticism and failure

Social skills

• Can postpone their need for immediate gratification

• Be able to share, take turns & follow rules

• Role play examples of how to take it in turns while playing with toys or speaking

• Realise that he or she cannot always get her own way

• Sit still for periods of time

• Set up a co-operative activity in which children have to share a limited set of resources to teach sharing

How you can help develop these skills: • Ask your children to name how they are feeling as this is the first step to being able to manage it • Ask your child what they think THEY can do to solve their problems • Explain that all emotions are acceptable but not all behaviours are • Role play how to ask for help, praise them when they ask for help • Ask children to identify what is happening in their bodies during a particular emotional state. Eg. shaking angry • Provide plenty of opportunities for children to play/work by themselves and praise them when they do so • Give them strategies on how to deal with anger and frustration –eg. - take yourself away from situation for some quiet time, draw an angry picture and then throw it away, deep breathing • Praise children for being brave when facing a fear • Encourage positive self -talk – “I can do it, I will keep trying” •Teach children to seek out adults to talk about their feelings Physical skills • Gross motor skills • Catching a ball • Jumping on the trampoline

• Provide plenty of opportunity for children to socialise with other children of varying age groups • Teach your children to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to people as these are the first steps in developing friendships • Teach your children to smile when approaching another child to ask if you can join their game. • Role play examples of how to ask adults or other children if you can join into their games/activities • Encourage your child’s ability to stay focussed on one task • Teach how to be a good sport – win and lose graciously Every child has the right to a positive start to school. Parents and carers can do much to ensure that this occurs. By spending quality time with their children and playing games that have a developmental objective in mind a child can develop rapidly. Remember that all children develop differently and at a different rate, some children will be stronger in some areas than others. Pick the areas in which you think your child needs further assistance and focus on engaging them in activities from that area. MINDY HODGES is an educator and owner of Crackerjack Kids, specialising in school

readiness. Visit

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The pioneer parent Many parents are opening up to new ideas and practices in their relationships with their children. Conscious parenting is one label that is getting a lot of attention in the parenting world. The meaning of conscious parenting is not always easy to define, because as a concept it has many varied meanings. So in integrating the practice of conscious parenting we often need instruction on how we may begin to parent with more conscious awareness. One metaphor that may assist you in this endeavour is that of the pioneer. Parenting is one of the most powerful opportunities for us to pioneer a new way of being. As a new generation, more parents actively seek to understand the terrain of their children’s lives with the intention of 1) learning from them and 2) joining them in a conscious process of bringing out the best. Pioneering parents appreciate the spiritual significance of why we became parents in the first place, and more importantly, why our children came to us. The spiritual purpose behind parenting is to grow and transform, and it is in this transformation that we are able to get in touch with those aspects of ourselves that we have forgotten so we can discover where we need to heal. Our children also offer us an opportunity to pioneer a new way of being that is different to the maps and instructions that we have been using to navigate our lives prior to becoming parents. If, for a moment, you recall your own childhood you may remember that you felt things that you could not communicate or were never given the space to express. If you did communicate your feelings you may have been told they were not appropriate. You may remember the innate sense of integrity you had and couldn’t understand why the adults around you did not always re-

flect this. You may recall the confusion and disappointment you felt when people did not tell the truth. You may have had questions, insights, worries, and concerns that were not acknowledged or understood by those around you. Like all parents, your childhood experiences have shaped you and by the time you become a parent you have adopted many unconscious patterns of relating that do not always honour, support, or recognise that you are in fact here to be the best that you can be. Many of the patterns that you developed in your childhood are a result of not knowing how to, or feeling that you could not, follow your own inner direction. Instead you learned to act mostly according to others expectations, and these patterns, then, surface in your parenting. However, if you allow it, the parent-child interaction can foster more awareness of all that you and your child can learn together, and this a blessing that is easy to take for granted. In fact, our children are able to mirror our soul in a way few others can. They reflect back our darkness or unhealed wounds (bringing out our worst sometimes) as well as our light in a manner that is unique. When we as parents can recognise that our children are our teachers, the ways a child acts and reacts can be seen from a much broader perspective—one that offers us, as parents, a way to 1) get in touch with the parts of ourselves that we have forgotten, 2) discover where we have been wounded, and 3) commit to new ways of being and living with our children. Once we see our parenting role as a pioneering endeavour then the relationship between parent and child shifts drastically. Although it is necessary at certain times to take on the role of the ‘one in charge,’ due to the many responsibilities

in regard to the physical care of our children, as a pioneering parent our relationship now transcends the physical needs of our children to include the spiritual and emotional needs as well. And it is this key step that empowers both our children and ourselves to not only grow, but to thrive. The landscape of childhood is a sensitive one. Our children need to be taken care of, but they also need to be supported to use their own inner compass as much as they can. All of the cues and competencies needed to chart their own destinies reside within them and so we need to allow children to honour their own inner navigation system, rather than just dominating or controlling them, while we try to impose beliefs and ways of life that are no longer adequate for the new terrain that our children are encountering. Both parent and child are actually pioneering new territory everyday, a type of unknown land that no one has ever travelled before. Your relationship with your child is unique and like no other parent-child relationship before. It holds great undeveloped potential, new possibilities, and hidden riches for you both. Pioneers are discoverers, always looking for new or uncharted lands where they can flourish and so they push the boundaries of where they are now to go beyond— in search of the new possibilities awaiting. On the pioneering path both parent and child will come across challenges and obstacles that are sometimes difficult to navigate, like a rocky territory. Obstacles such as when our child’s inner direction and will are at odds with our own. As parents we can sometimes presume to know the correct way forward for our children without asking them what is occurring for them or what they feel might be the best direction to take so they may flourish.

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FEATURE For example, when we are experiencing issues with our children in the form of behavioural challenges, we are in fact offered an opportunity to see the reflection in our own lives and become more aware of our own feelings, emotions and thoughts in relation to what is occurring. We are offered an opportunity to see that our children’s behaviours are in fact communicating important information to us that not only tells us how our children feel about themselves and their place in the family, society and culture, but which is also reflect back to us our own need for personal growth and self-awareness as well. If a child pushes the boundaries and has difficulty conforming to the set rules in the home, at school, or wider community, they may be labelled as having an aversion to authority. The child may resist being told what to do and as a result forever seems to be getting in trouble. However, as a pioneering parent, it is important to consider what this behaviour is expressing. You might consider firstly how you, yourself, are with boundaries and structures. For instance, do you have difficulty standing up for yourself or do you feel dominated, often repressing your feelings, thoughts and actions so that you fit in and are accepted? Or do you refuse to accept the feelings, thoughts and actions of others and try to impose control over them? In almost every case, your child’s symptoms and behaviours will mirror the unhealed wounds of the family as well as the society, but too often we’re not willing to look at ourselves and thus we (as well as most of the education systems) overlook our child’s underlying issue. As a pioneer you are given an opportunity to explore ways of relating with your child that are aligned with the idea of best possible growth. Rather than directing and controlling our children, shaping them according to our own idea of what they should be, or how they should act, we can listen to our children’s important needs and support them to truly be well. It is not always easy to fix the issues that your child is confronted with, but by valuing that children have heir own inner compass that is always guiding them in the best

direction for them, we can begin to trust that they are learning the lessons they need to learn in life and at the same time learn our own vital lessons too. There is no greater-than or less-than in the parent-child relationship and when you see from this pioneering perspective you realise that you can parent from your own highest potential and support your child’s full potential as well. Like all pioneers you are paving the way so that others can enjoy

the social progress you’ve co-created by having the courage to live and parent more consciously.

MAXINE THERESE is a childhood well-being specialist and founder of the Cosmos Child system. Visit

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Summer is here & kids will be kids...

Keep this list of dental Care Tips handy incase your child has a dental emergency.

Dr. Alastair McCallum - Dental Surgeon

Trak Arcade, 73 The Terrace, Ocean Grove Ph: 5255 2584 Dr. Samantha Ho has recently joined us from Wales and has moved to Australia for a new adventure with her husband. She is enjoying the coastal lifestyle and has settled well into the practice.

Dr. Samantha Ho

She has very high standards and enjoys improving people’s smiles. She is a gentle dentist and enjoys treating children as well as adults. Before her move Samantha worked in a dental practice in Wales and also worked in a dental hospital in the children’s clinic.

Dental Emergency Reference Guide TOOTHACHE - Painful tooth with throbbing ache or excessive sensitivity.

Rinse the mouth vigorously with warm water to clean out debris. Use dental floss to remove any food that might be trapped between the teeth. If swelling is present, place cold compresses on the outside of the cheek. (Do not use heat or place aspirin on the aching tooth or gum tissues.) See your dentist as soon as possible.

ORTHODONTIC PROBLEMS - (Braces & Retainers) Painful or loose wires, brackets, or bands.

If a wire is causing irritation, cover the end of the wire with a small cotton ball, beeswax or a piece of gauze. See your dentist as soon as possible. If a wire is embedded in the cheek, tongue, or gum tissue, do not attempt to remove it. Go to your dentist immediately. If an appliance becomes loose or a piece of it breaks off, take the appliance and the broken piece, and go to the dentist.

DISPLACED TOOTH - Tooth out of position with bleeding of the gums. Try to reposition the tooth. Go immediately to the dentist.

KNOCKED-OUT TOOTH - (Permanent teeth only; do not replant baby teeth) Tooth completely out of its socket.

If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently in running water. Do not scrub it. Gently insert and hold tooth in its socket. If it is not possible, place the tooth in a container of milk or cool water. Go immediately to your dentist (within 30 minutes, if possible) Don’t forget to bring the tooth.

BROKEN TOOTH - Fracture of tooth with severe pain or sensitivity.

Gently clean dirt or debris from the injured area with warm water. Place cold compress on the face, in the area of the injured tooth, to minimize swelling. Go to the dentist immediately.

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READER VOICE From the very beginning a child’s brain is processing an amazing amount of information and parents have a role to play. From conception onwards, your child’s biology becomes biography – a lifelong self-sculpting process that blends external events with internal meaning-making. Knowing a little about how brains work can help you support your little one’s growth into an empathetic, high-integrity grownup. Keeping our thoughts and behaviours consistent isn’t always easy, because the two ancient primitive parts of our three-layered brain often competes with newer, smarter, regulating part – but all parts work to make sure we survive! Our rapid-response reptile brain works just as it did when it first evolved millions of years ago. Its three jobs are: avoiding harm, finding food and reproducing. When it doesn’t get what it needs, we’re anxious, nervous or fearful. Our mammalian mid brain is the family, group, socialising, feeling and reacting brain. It supports emotions, behaviour, long-term memory and sensory body awareness and it’s where we form habits. With the mid brain came a sense of belonging, and wanting to be understood, valued, loved, and cared for. It has a long memory for what it’s missed out on in empathy, acceptance, and nurturing, and is wounded by abandonment, rejection, abuse, or shaming. So it’s possible for negative childhood experiences to trigger the mid brain into those wounded feelings throughout life. For an undeveloped baby brain, crying’s the main survival messaging system to attract attention from the people in power – you – ¬for food, safety and comfort. Remember – baby brains want safety more than anything. Their instinctive brain parts know nothing

about controlled crying or scheduled feeding or sleeping. Until a baby makes sense of its world, its tiny reptile and mammalian brain parts are afraid of lots of things. We can set up a lifelong sense of belonging, and help babies develop a sense of self, by picking them up, cuddling and relating to them when they cry so they learn about love and trust. More rational toddler and child behaviour develops along with the neo-cortex, the new brain. It’s not pre-loaded with instinctive software – its capacities grow through experiences. In the right half we experience patterns, intuition, conceptual awareness, creativity and register experiential learning. The left half thinks about consequences, organises thoughts, plans, sets goals, practises critical thinking and it’s where we make choices and try to control lower brain impulses – when it works! A child brain’s imprinting phase is up to about age six. Everything’s new – they don’t know the world’s rules. What they experience through us and other people, TV,

movies and reading is laid down in their undeveloped brain as a personal, unique worldview of values, beliefs and truths, depending on how their brain interprets the experiences that affect their safety and belonging. It creates a kind of lens of patterns, a filter of expectations through which they later interpret their adult experiences. So, remember, our kids are always watching and imitating us. It’s up to us to supply a safe, loving environment and model behaviour that helps them mature and integrate their three-layer brain so we all have smooth times as they grow.

SUSIE SURTEES runs a business to help

enrich people’s lives. Email susiesurtees@, phone 0428 724 277 or visit

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A summer holiday children’s activity booklet, Kids @the Coast, is a joint initiative of Barwon Coast and Bellarine Bayside Committees of Management. The booklet was produced in response to a number of common concerns challenging our coastal environments. A joint approach to educate campers about our coastal environments made this project possible. “After much brainstorming of which issues to deal with and how to convey them in a fun, interactive way, we have the end product you see today. The booklet contains a variety of activities that will further inform visitors to our shores about the delicate coastal and marine environment with learning outcomes

on simple actions they can implement to protect what we come here to love”, Maddie Glynn from Barwon Coast said. The activity booklet deals with issues such as litter impacts and prevention, dune erosion and personal safety, wildlife protection and habitat protection; and how to recycle right. “Kids @ the Coast is about engaging children at a young age to understand what is out there and then hopefully they in turn will educate others around them,” said Vin McKay from Bellarine Bayside. The activity booklet is available to those children camping

within the Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads, Portarlington and St Leonards coastal reserves. The activity booklet has been designed with generic messages enabling the booklet to be expanded across the state. “Many people don’t understand just how many different animals call our sand dunes home, so therefore are not aware that from their actions there are consequences; many negative to these fragile systems. The dunes protect the townships, but are also home to the many reptiles, birds, and mammals such as possums and bats that we do not see during the day. These animals in turn help protect us by working together to keep the

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Year-round lesson are vital In years gone by learning to swim was a summer pursuit. With only outdoor pools available, lessons were an intensive effort in the warmer months. Learners had to practically begin again each summer. Little wonder that many children reached adulthood without ever having learned to swim. With the advent of indoor heated pools and specialist learn to swim schools, those days have thankfully passed for the majority of Australian communities. ecosystem healthy and functional; in turn protecting the dunes that provide us access to the beach,” Ms Glynn said. The beach zone itself is a different ecosystem that is very much connected to the sand dunes. Within the beach zone we see different animals and different interactions between land and sea. Many of the animals that we see on the beach over summer are just trying to get on with their daily lives and should be left alone. Simple messages like “Take only photos - leave only footprints” encourages children to observe the environment they are in and draw what they see, instead of collecting shells which are valuable habitat for other animals, which in turn these animals become a food source for larger animals. An angler can only be responsible if they are informed. This activity creates understanding that toadfish should be set free as they are not only a food source for other animals but help to clean the sea. “We hope that this booklet will be the start of many in a series as we have so many amazing plants and animals out there helping us all live a healthy life. Everything in the environment is connected and has a job to do, including us and we hope this activity booklet will create greater understanding of this and ensure our natural environment is protected for future generations,” Ms Glynn said.

To learn and master a skill in any sport, it must be done regularly. The same is true of swimming, however learning to swim is not a sport. It is an education in a valuable life skill that will be the basis for recreation, fitness and most importantly, survival. Once the swimmer is a strong, they will decide whether to pursue swimming related sports. Until they reach that point, our responsibility is to ensure learning is continuous and progressive. Studies have shown that children who do continue their lessons year round, achieve better results. They are also fitter, stronger and better able to resist colds and flus over the winter months. The ideal winter fitness pursuit, swimming in a warm, indoor pool protects children from the harsh weather they often encounter on the football field or netball court. Year-round swimming is actually recommended for asthmatics, and many of our famous swimmers took up swimming as a treatment for asthma. A warm hat and shoes will ensure that they are protected from the elements when they leave the centre. As an educational pursuit, like learning to play the piano, children need regular and on-going swimming lessons until they reach the desired level of skill. Chil-

dren have relatively poor attention spans and a short memory. They need frequent exposure and repetition when learning new skills. Many areas of your child’s development, including academic performance, maths, language, fine motor skills, confidence and co-ordination, will improve with consistent swimming. By continuing lessons throughout the year, we enable them to retain skills and build technique. Breaks in learning to swim have the same effect as a break in learning the piano. Valuable time is lost and when lessons resume, skills must be revised and often re learned. Unlike playing the piano however, being a competent swimmer is far more than a skill for recreation and enjoyment. It is a skill that may save a child’s life. Not all children need to learn to play the piano, but every child must learn to swim. DEBBIE GILL, Geelong Aquatic Centre

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ICE-CREAM In our yard we have a beautiful nectarine tree and have used the original version of this recipe many times to make nectarine ice-cream. After a recent visit to a farmers’ market, we had a stack of fresh apricots and decided to try our hand at apricot icecream instead. It is best served fresh, as it doesn’t re-freeze well as ice cream. Any leftover ice-cream put into icy-pole moulds for later does work. While making this one, the kids put in all the bits for me and then ran away when I switched the on the food-processor. They have put in the request for strawberry or mango next time. This makes enough for four generous serves. INGREDIENTS 500g ripe apricots (cut into 1cm wedges)

While the processor is running, add the vanilla and the cream, scraping down the sides when necessary. Process until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. ALTERNATIVE For a healthier snack, you can substitute the cream with vanilla yoghurt, and skip adding the vanilla.


This is another well-worn family favourite. When I was a teenager I was given this recipe by a friend’s mum. It was originally created by a missionary, Beryl Spence, who needed to create food that was cheap, easy and put out a good quantity. She succeeded. I average between 48-60 biscuits per batch (it has been more) and they also freeze well. VERY more-ish, I haven’t met anyone who can stop at one. A good thing the batches are so big.

1/3 cup sugar ½ tsp vanilla ¾ cup thickened cream HOW TO ... Arrange the apricot wedges onto a baking sheet on a tray and put into the freezer until frozen solid. (May be a few hours, or overnight) Put the frozen apricot pieces into the food-processor with the sugar and process until the mix looks a bit ‘snowy’.

INGREDIENTS 200g butter 1 ½ cups sugar 3 cups SR flour 2 eggs Cinnamon sugar HOW TO ... Mix the butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs. Then add flour one cup at a time. (I find it harder

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COOKING CREATIONS to mix the third cup in and usually resort to using my hands. One child loves it, the other won’t touch the dough) Shape the dough into 3cm balls, roll in cinnamon sugar and place 5cm apart on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 mins in a moderate oven. **Note – make sure when you roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar that they are completely covered in the cinnamon sugar. Be generous – it makes all the difference. **Note #2 – when the biscuits come out of the oven they are very soft. Instead of trying to pick them up individually to put on the cooling rack, slide the sheet of baking paper off the tray and onto the cooling rack. It only takes a few minutes for them to harden up. If you’re not sure if they’re cooked, just lift a biscuit with a spatula and check the colour of the base. Golden brown is perfect. ALTERNATIVE These are also amazing rolled in vanilla sugar instead of cinnamon sugar

CHEESE MUFFINS My daughter loves these! When we have a batch hanging around, she loves to swap the sandwich in her lunchbox for two of these. They never last long, and can be frozen for a month or two if wrapped in glad wrap. So easy and very flexible.

INGREDIENTS 2 cups SR flour 2 cups grated tasty cheese 1 3/4 cups milk HOW TO ... Mix the ingredients together. Scoop the mix into the holes of a muffin pan. (I usually get 12 muffins out of this mix). Its up to you if you prefer to use patty pans or to put the dough into greased muffin pan holes. Bake in a moderate oven for 30 mins. Done! And yummy served hot. ALTERNATIVE This is such a good little muffin base, you can add almost anything you can think of. Herbs go well, as does bacon/ham or various vegies. Use your imagination! I know I’ve been wanting to add ham and pineapple for Hawaiian muffins, or to add some chilli and serve with sour cream. Also, if you prefer bigger muffins you can use this recipe to make 6 Texas-sized muffins, just cook for a bit longer.

MEGAN BROOKS is an awardwinning cook who runs a home-based food business specialising in handmade fudge. Visit

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Sponsor a pet by advertising on this page. Phone Rob on 0457 007 463 or email

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By Mick Br y an t & Rowan Summers The Spot What range of books have been great fun to review, with their great attention to details and lovely illustrations. They appeal to children of all ages – and the adults as well! There are challenges and learning opportunities to be had on every page. A fantastic alternative to I spy and one that can be done alone or with a companion.


Each book has its own theme and the Metropolis book covered all aspects of living in the city, from shopping through to traffic and apartments. The kids enjoyed searching for things in the Spot To win this book LIKE our What Challenge as well as pointing Facebook page out interesting items they found on the KidsVoiceGeelong and send us pages. These books will certainly keep a message telling us why you’d the young, enquiring mind engrossed. like to win. Published by Hinkler.

The Tick Tribe is a must read book that is hard to put down. It will get your kids reading and engrossed in a great adventure. After the world’s worst natural disaster, a tribe of children set out on an epic adventure to try to find a sustainable way to survive.

To win this book LIKE our Facebook page KidsVoiceGeelong and send us a message telling us why you’d


T HE TICK TRIB E B y E ri k a Loga n

like to win.

The story is based around the adventures of main character Lowky Tick, who finds himself in the rubble of the world’s most catastrophic natural disaster. Alone and forced to fend for himself, he goes in search of his best friend, Matilda. Together, the pair set out on an epic adventure. Their intelligence and creativity is noticed by others and a diverse and courageous tribe begins to form. This book will encourage kids to want to problem solve and learn new skills. The book also encourages co-operation, teamwork and positive thinking. The Tick Tribe is an exciting, funny adventure story for teenagers and advanced junior readers. Published by Balboa Press.


By The Gamer (age 15) Nat Geo – The game is based around the National Geographic Channel which has interactive all-new hour-long episodes and are basically nature documentaries for kids. At three points throughout each episode, large and easily noticeable animal prints appear on screen. That’s the cue for players to yell out “Tracks!” to the Kinect and embark on a separate track from the main episode. Every side track asks players a couple of questions to keep them involved and aware.


To win this book LIKE our Facebook page KidsVoiceGeelong and send us a message telling us why you’d like to win.

Every episode also has breaks for three mini-games themed around that episode’s subject. For example, in the Bears episode you’ll dig through rocks for moths to eat or swat at attacking hornets. A second player can even join in, making a more fun experience for the whole family. Interaction is friendly and easy and the mini-games are fun to play.

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Available in spelling, grammar and punctuation


Each year, every Year 3 and 5 student in Australia sits NAPLAN tests in Reading; Writing; Language Conventions (Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation); and Numeracy. This exciting new range of independently produced School Zone titles meets the NAPLAN standards and is specifically created to help children prepare for NAPLAN testing. Each workbook is packed with exercises and practice tests that make learning fun and easy! The layout is clear, easy to work with and is full of activities for children. The range covers the Year 3 and Year 5 NAPLAN tests in To win this book LIKE our Numeracy, Language Facebook page facebook. Conventions, Reading com/KidsVoiceGeelong and and Writing and its send us a message telling us why you’d like to win. We colourful appearance will encourage children to learn. The have a full pack of Grade 3 books also provide detailed answers to each test question and and Grade 5 to give away! notes for parents. Published by Hinkler


Swap cards for girls? YES. Forever Clover collectible swap cards are pretty, pastel coloured swap cards celebrating friendship and different female personalities from girly, ballet loving characters through to tomboys. The cards are solid, high quality and are printed on 100% waste recycled paper. In addition To win a set of cards, an to the cards, there are collector albums and album and a collection tin, LIKE our Facebook tins for storing your cards, both carrying page through the Forever Clover theme. These KidsVoiceGeelong and products are available through selected send us a message telling us why you’d like to win. stockists or online at


These little “aprons“ are a really clever idea. They are made from washable canvas with an adjustable, double D ring fastening at the hip. Great for kids from 3 – 10 years old, they are a good storage solution for books, crayons and other favourite toys. Perfect for taking along that toy car or drawing book, these wraps eliminate the need for a backpack or separate bag. Available from selected retailers or online at



To win this utility apron LIKE our Facebook page facebook. com/KidsVoiceGeelong and send us a message telling us why you’d like to win.



Mini Inkoos are the perfect gift for a young child between 3 and 7 years. These soft toys are great as a cuddly item, but more fun when doodled on and come complete with a washable marker that is clipped on to the plush toy. They are perfect to take out on trips and To win this toy LIKE our can double as a pillow for toddlers. There are seven styles to Facebook page choose from and each creature has ample room for loads of KidsVoiceGeelong and send us doodling. When the canvas is full of scribble – or art – simple a message telling us why you’d like throw it in the washing machine and the toy is ready for use to win. again. Distributed by big balloon.

By The Gamette (age 12)

To win this book LIKE our Facebook page KidsVoiceGeelong and send us a message telling us why you’d like to win.



Kinect Sesame Street TV is not only a game, but also an interactive experience. The Kinect technology enables the youngsters participating to wave and dance, as well as allowing for them to yell out the answers. You get around 8 episodes of Sesame Street that have been modified to allow for interaction via tasks or challenges that are set. For the really young kids, they enjoy watching the episode while the older siblings get to interact. A good way to keep all the kids quiet while you need to prepare tea, or have a break!

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READER VOICE Maternity wards are a hive of activity and a home to some great tales. The emotion and experience is something that needs to be captured. I have a particular interest in birth stories as I am a trained midwife. For the past 29 years I have worked in large metropolitan hospitals in Melbourne, both public and private. I have specialised in special care nursery and neonatal intensive care nursing, so I look after mums, dads and babies in all sorts of stressful circumstances, usually with happy endings. I studied my midwifery course at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne in 1987. I am fortunate to have seen so many changes in practice since that time, such as giving artificial surfactant to babies with premature lung disease, changes in modes of ventilation for babies that minimise chronic lung damage, and using early CPAP when babies have respiratory distress. I was a midwife when I was expecting my first child, and I was optimistic enough about the birth process to book myself into a birth centre in Melbourne to deliver. Birth centres in those days were designed to deliver midwife care in a hospital setting. You saw an obstetrician twice during the pregnancy; otherwise you were cared for by midwives. However there was the back up of being transferred out of the birth centre to the public delivery wards if something was not quite right. I had a very healthy pregnancy, my blood pressure was great, everything was sort of text book normal, which is not often the case for midwives. I just didn’t go into labour. My husband and I went to my 41 week check up (I was a week overdue by that time), and we saw an obstetrician who performed an internal examination.

She said that I was 4cms dilated, which for a first time mum meant that I had already gone into labour. My husband rang up his work and started his paternity leave, and told them I had started to labour. I was confused as I hadn’t felt any contractions; I thought I must have been incredibly tough. Anyway my husband and I spent the next week looking at each other and getting rather niggly with each other I must say, waiting for the rest of labour to happen. And it didn’t happen, so at 42 weeks I was induced. It took 15 hours to get to the fully dilated stage. I ended up with a terrible forceps delivery, with a stuck baby, and it was a dreadful. Being a midwife didn’t really help the outcome. I learned that having a birth plan with your first delivery was extremely futile. When I had my second daughter four years later I insisted on having an elective caesarean at 38 weeks as there was no way known that I was going to put another baby through what my first daughter endured. I wasn’t worried about me; I just wanted my baby to come into the world in a controlled and peaceful and gentle manner. It took me the whole pregnancy to convince the obstetrician that I was going to have a caesarean, I just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I did engage the services of a private obstetrician during my second pregnancy, and he was wonderful. I was an older mum when I had my second daughter, and because of this I had a 12-week scan to determine the Nuchal Fold thickness of the babies neck, (if the nuchal fold looks thick there is a higher instance of Down’s Syndrome). I told the obstetrician that I didn’t want to have the scan, as if the baby was going to have Down’s Syndrome I wouldn’t want anything done anyway. However he was highly insistent that the

scan was necessary as it could have picked up other abnormalities as well, so in the end I had the scan. The result came back that considering my age there was a on in four chance of Down’s Syndrome, which is a very high probability. Well then I was told that I should certainly have a Chorionic Villis sampling test, which is a big needle forced through into the placenta under ultrasound vision, so that a sample of placental tissue can be collected to look at the chromosomes. Once again I was told this should happen, I was reluctant, but I suppose in the end every mother wants to do the right thing for their child, whatever that may be. There are many current issues in midwifery practice, including - The increase in birth rate in Australia; - Increasing numbers of older mums having babies; - Increased obesity rates and the rising instance of gestational diabetes; - The high caesarean section rate in Australia (31 per cent of births in 2009); - What are the advantages and disadvantages of private versus public delivery? We are fortunate in Australia to have access to some of the best medical care available. It will be great to hear the experiences of other mums and dads from the region. I am going to interview local families about their birth and parenting experiences, so if you have a story you might want to share please email me at jencarr@ JENNIFER CARR

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WHAT’S ON EDUCATION Every Monday: Road to Reading, agegroup sessions between 9am and 3pm, Uniting Church, Anderson Street, Torquay. Every Tuesday Road to Reading, agegroup sessions between 9am and 1pm, Western Heights Uniting Church, Douglass Street, Herne Hill. Creative writing workshop, Portarlington Neighbourhood House, each Saturday in January. Phone 5259 2290.

HEALTH & FITNESS Every Monday: Parent & Toddler Group Fitness, 9-10am, Barwon Heads Community Hall, corner of Hitchcock Avenue and Ozone Street. January 10-13: Surf Groms, Ocean Grove. Phone 1800 787 353 to book. Every Wednesday: Yoga and Dance, 9.3010.30am, Barwon Heads Community Hall, Corner Hitchcock Avenue and Ozone Street. Kids Dance Classes, Tuesday to Friday evenings, 4/22-26 Essington Street, Grovedale. Phone 0420 998 596.

Rainbow Riders holday program runs until January 26. Other farm activities also available. Phone 5264 1175, visit Koombahla Park Equestrian Centre school holiday program. Phone 5256 2742.

PERSONAL February 6: PFLAG Geelong, 6pm, support group for parents, carers, family and friends of same sex attracted and gender diverse people. Phone 5272 4688.

YOUNG MUMS Every Wednesday: Pregnant Young Mums Club, 2-4pm, Newcomb Community Health Centre, 104-108 Bellarine Highway. Phone 0423603633 or 5260 3333.

YOUTH Bellarine Youth Action free holiday program January 10 - Melbourne Zoo January 15 - Learn to surf, Ocean Grove January 16 - Free basketball clinic, Geelong January 22 - Adventure Park

Art workshops (10am to 3.30pm Janury 11 - Barwon Head Community Hall January 18 - St Leonards Community Space January 25 - Portarlington Community House To book any of the events visit http:// Summer Daze free activities for people of all ages, including t’shirt designing, animation workshops, gardening, photography and cooking, January 21-25, Cloverdale Community Centre, Corio. Phone 5275 4415. The fOrT Drop In youth centre, St Georges Rd, Corio (Old Tourist Information Centre - Stead Park), open Monday, Thursday and Friday, from 4pm, for anyone aged 12 to 25. Mondays: Food for fOrT, 4-6pm. Thursdays: Movie Night, 4-7pm. Music lessons – guitar and drums – bookings 0488 443 778. January 31: Artery at Lara Library, 4-6pm. Take part in international postal art projects and see your art travel overseas. Book online at or visit your local library. Submit your listings for What’s On at

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Kids' Voice January 2013  

Free parenting publication covering ages 0 - 18, for the Geelong, Bellarine, Surf Coast and Lara regions.