Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The most magical time of the year...

Each year when November rolls around and shopping centres begin adorning the ceilings with Christmas decorations, I often hear people complain.

"The decorations are up too early," they say.

"I don't even want to think about Christmas," say others.

"Not another Christmas Carol!" also a commonly heard gripe.

Yet when I see the glitter of that first piece of tinsel - I feel a surge of excitement.

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas comes to mind and my mood instantly lifts.

I look forward to hearing the repetitive sounds of Little Drummer Boy and White Christmas.

And, come December (if I can wait that long) as I decorate the Christmas tree, I play my own Christmas Carols.

This year I even downloaded some to my iPhone.

I truly am a Christmas tragic and it's been that way since I was a little girl.

Christmas was always a big deal for my family. My brothers and I would wake at the break of dawn, ensuring my parents did the same, so we could open the pile of presents placed under the tree.

Of course this came after we emptied our stockings filled with gifts from Santa.

A tradition we couldn't bring ourselves to let go of until we moved out of home.

I continued to love Christmas all through my teens and beyond, almost skipping through the crowded malls as I chose presents for my friends and family.

Not much has changed.

I still enjoy watching corny Christmas movies and even admit to wearing Christmas earrings and/or colours on the big day.

There's something about Christmas that just fills me with happiness.

It's about family and togetherness and celebration.

And everyone - despite their complaints about busy malls and last minute shopping - seems that little bit more joyful, with a ready smile and a Merry Christmas wish.

In 2009, for me, Christmas is particularly special.

After a spate of family health scares in the past few years, I feel blessed to have my entire family happy and healthy for Christmas.

And this year I have already been given an amazing gift - my baby son, who will be experiencing the magic of Christmas for the first time.

He has his Santa's hat, his Christmas stocking and a pile of presents he won't yet understand he's receiving.

And with Christmas just two days away, I wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas filled with the love and companionship of family and friends.

Because, in my opinion, Christmas really is the most magical day of the year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

MILFs, Nags and Silver Foxes...

Last weekend, my husband called me a MILF.

It wasn't the first time either. He's used that term on several occasions since the birth of our son, seven months ago.

Now for those of you who don't know - a MILF is an acronym for "Mum I'd Like to (insert four letter F word here)", made popular by the 1999 comedy American Pie.

Some definitions (yes there are several) describe MILF's as women with grown children.

Others imply promiscuity.

Others again say the term can be applied to any mum you'd like to .... well, you get the picture.

So, was it a compliment, or should I have been offended by another sexually charged label for women?

Coming from hubby, I can't say I had a problem with it - it was all in good fun after all.

A light-hearted way of saying "No honey, you're bum doesn't look big in that skirt."

But I suspect it's all relative.

When my brother's friends labeled my mum a MILF, I'm sure he was less than impressed.

How my mum felt? Well I can only speculate, but I'm sure I detected a small grin as he told the story.

Former supermodel and still-gorgeous Cindy Crawford says she's more than happy to be a MILF.

"MILF is a word I absolutely adore!” she told GQ magazine.

Jim Carey's wife, 37 year old Jenny McCarthy says she is hoping to be dubbed a GILF (Grandma I'd Like to ....) when Carey's 22-year-old daughter gives birth in 2010.

For Crawford though, while she's a proud MILF, she says she finds the common Cougar term not so appealing.

"I hate that word cougar and what it represents."

That being a woman over 40 who sexually pursues younger men, typically more than eight years her junior, according to Wikipedia.

Some women are offended by the term, while others celebrate it, deeming it liberating and powerful.

But these are just two of a stack of labels applied to describe women, their actions or the male view of them.

Along with MILF and Cougar, there's Girl-Next-Door, Gold-Digger, Feminist, Tart, Yummy Mummy, High- Maintenance, Low-Maintenance, Nag... and of course several others too rude to spell out.

And the blokes don't escape the labels either - there's Sugar Daddy, Player, Silver Fox, Toy Boy, Under-The-Thumb - to name a few... and again, there are others I'll refrain from writing here.

Most of these colloquial terms are so common, they're now permanent fixtures in our every day language and a solid part of popular culture.

Some consider this type of label-giving offensive, and on some occasions they can be.

Often though it's all just a bit of fun.

But I guess it depends on the particular label and who's applying it.

Who would want to be called a Gold Digger or Under-The-Thumb in all seriousness?

On the other hand, Yummy Mummy and Silver Fox*, aren't so offensive.

And if we're all being honest, I wonder how many mums out there wouldn't take a bit of secret pleasure from being dubbed a MILF.

*Silver Fox refers to an attractive older male

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cancer just isn't trendy enough...

A new Bowel Cancer awareness advertisement is using a fictional terrorist scene to highlight the prevalence of the cancer in Australia.

The advertisement depicts scenes reminiscent to those of the 911 terrorist attacks, taking place over Sydney's Circular Quay, complete with smokey buildings, wailing sirens and body bags.

The voice over says: If 12 Australians were killed by terrorists it would be front page news. Yet 12 Australian men and women die from bowel cancer every single day. That’s more than breast cancer but no-one wants to talk about it, even though it’s curable if detected early.

(see full story: http://mumbrella.com.au/cancer-ad-features-terror-attack-on-sydney-14368#more-14368)

While this advertisement is set to be highly controversial - and clearly risks offending, distressing and angering anyone who has survived or lost loved ones to a terrorist attack - it has got people talking.

As a result, it's highlighted the fact that, as a nation, we seem to have become immune to the devastation that is cancer.

The figures are so astronomical, we barely give them a second thought.

They don't warrant much mention in the media, despite the fact that cancer is Australia's biggest killer.

Here are a few facts:

*More than 35,000 Australians die from cancer each year, in spite of a 30 percent improvement in survival over the last two decades.

*1 in 3 Australian men and 1 in 4 Australian women will be directly affected by cancer.

*Most people in Australia will be affected by cancer, either personally or through family and friends.

*This year alone, more than 82,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia.

If you stop and think about it, these figures are incredible.

I am one of those people who have been affected by cancer - I haven't been diagnosed with it myself - but people I know and love have.

Some have survived, others have not.

Those of you who have experienced the impact of cancer will know, it's one of the most terrifying and traumatic events you will ever endure.

But it seems we are no longer outraged by such tragedies.

When natural disasters occur, we rally together, have telethons and fundraising concerts - we all unite to raise millions of dollars for these far more trendy causes.

Indeed terrorism also provokes a similar response.

And so it should, this support provides much needed help to thousands of devastated families dealing with tragic events.

But cancer is also tragic, effecting everyone from babies and children to parents and friends.

It was not so long ago, our wish-giving foundations were forced to reduce the quality of the wishes granted, due to a lack of funding.

I have seen first hand the impact these wishes give and these charities are simply amazing, run mostly by volunteers.

We also know the survival rate for many common cancers has increased by more than 30 per cent in the past two decades, due to treatment improvements and new interventions brought about by research.

Research which is often funded by donations.

But the most important point is many of these cancers are curable if detected early enough. Yet few of us take the risk so seriously as to have regular checkups, deeming them too unpleasant.

The Bowel Cancer advertisement is certainly shocking, and I don't know that I support it, given the impact it must have on terrorism survivors and witnesses.

But perhaps the controversy will at least attract some much needed attention to one of Australia's biggest killers.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Skinny jeans and Shower Power - trespass magazine column

Twelve months ago, I was working full-time as a television reporter. I was into fashion, read books, loved music, discussed current affairs. I coloured my hair, wore a bikini, watched the news and looked forward to a good party.

I’ve since left my full-time gig in favour of freelance, to be home with my baby boy. Other than that, not much has changed… except maybe my comfort level in a bikini, and the frequency in which I attend said parties.

I have, of course, entered a new demographic. I’m now a mum, who happens to spend a lot more time at home. I still dress the same, think the same, crack the same jokes … yet when I flick on the telly I’m left wondering if I missed the part where new mums are required to enter a phone booth to be transformed into Mrs Brady.

Now I know most chick-flicks and TV dramas are full of yummy-mummies and ultra-cool mamas, but when it comes to commercials aimed at us real mums, it’s a different story. Clearly, mums are the target market for a lot of consumer goods, so there’s no shortage of ads, all aimed at the likes of me. Apparently.

Now I need Shower Power as much as the next mum, but when I watch these ads, it’s not me I see. I see a mumsy bunch, with matching pony tails, three quarter jeans and collared shirts.

Does giving birth and taking on a few home duties mean the end of skinny jeans, summer dresses and high heels?

But it’s not just the daggy dress code that leaves me cringing. I don't know about you other mums out there, but I don't use a magnifying glass to clean my toilet, and I don’t inwardly gloat when my friends use the bright white bowl.

I don’t use phrases like “not in my house” when I see finger prints on the stainless steel. And I do not feel smug about the mess my chicken stock meal has made (Tess and her REAL family I find particularly annoying!)

Don’t get me wrong, I wear trackies with the best of them. I cook, clean, compare nappy brands, even bake the odd batch of muffins - but I do it in my denim cutoffs listening to Groove Armada dammit.

And once it’s done I’m off to play with my son, or read a book, or call a friend, or go shopping. These ads would have you believe the sparkle of the shower floor is a daily highlight. And if a neighbour stops by and happens to witness the sparkle, well, even better!

Am I alone in my frustration, I wonder? Are my shiny bathroom taps really enough to make my friends green with envy? Do they watch these TV mums with an understanding nod, or find the stereotype as irritating as I do?

Do most mums spend their day worrying about that stain they saw on hubby’s shirt as he walked out the door? Or do they see the stain, deal with it and move onto more important things.

More likely, there’s no such thing as an average mum. At the end of the day, we’re all human.

Now - time to try that new stain remover.

(NB: This rant does not apply to nappy commercials to which I can easily relate and to which I have been know to shed the occasional tear)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Soundtrack to my life...

In movies, everyone has the perfect sound track to go along with their lives.

And I often find myself wishing that were the case in real life.

There have been many special, sad and frustrating moments when I could have chosen just the right song to be playing.

Sometimes this would have required me to move in slow motion however, but you get the picture.

But after going to a couple of concerts recently, I realised that I do, in fact, have a soundtrack to my life.

Songs may not coincide with those epic moments of life (apart from my wedding song of course and, sadly, funerals); but there are certain songs, bands and styles of music, that take me right back to a period of time, even a moment, in my life.

So, after seeing a couple of old favourite bands, I took the time to think about my soundtrack.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Pearl Jam.

And when Jeremy and Daughter blasted from the speakers, I was immediately taken back to my high school years.

And suddenly I was hanging out with my two best friends, having sleep-overs and looking forward to school discos and music festivals.

On Wednesday I saw Greenday, and I was taken back to a different time - my university days when I first went to see them play, and when I met my husband.

He was a massive Greenday fan at the time – and suddenly we were dating again.

But the sound track began back when I was a little girl.

Blueberry Hill and the Beach Boy’s Barbara Anne play over my earliest childhood memories; a little girl dancing in the living room with my mum and dad looking on.

When I hear The House of the Rising Sun, I’m watching my dad strum his guitar and when Fergal Sharky’s A Good Heart plays, I’m in the car with my mum as she drives me to swimming lessons.

I’m watching Rage with my big brother to the sound of Cheap Trick’s The Flame and 1927’s If I Could.

Anything Nirvana and Silverchair’s Tomorrow prompts memories of my friend and I as we dreamed of our futures, we were going to start a band.

And I’m doing laps around the Gold Coast in another friend’s first car to the soundtrack from Romeo and Juliette. It was the only cassette we had at the time.

I’m watching Channel V in the middle of the night with my little brother to the sounds of The Verve’s Freshman and Foo Fighter’s Everlong.

And enjoying decades of family get-togethers to Leo Sayer classics.

But this is just a small sample of the soundtrack of my life. The soundtrack wouldn’t fit on one CD, and it’s still being recorded.

And while the tracks don’t always coincide with particularly momentous occasions, they all remind me of special people, family and friends, and represent the special relationships that I share with all of them.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Miracle babies even further out of reach...

The day my son was born, was the most magical, beautiful day of my life.

It was also a day I thought may never come.

Like around 10 per cent of Australian couples, my husband and I were faced with the prospect of perhaps never having children.

IVF was our best, and possibly only, chance at achieving a dream we’d had all our lives. And it gave us our beautiful baby boy.

But soon, many couples in a similar situation may not be so lucky.

Laws to cap the Medicare rebate for IVF are due to commence in January 2010, making the possibility of a life with children even more remote for thousands of middle class couples.

Currently, thanks to the Medicare Safety Net, couples are reimbursed 80 per cent of the actual cost of IVF treatment, leaving out of pocket expenses at around $2000 – give or take a few hundred.

And while this cost is often the only one referred to when the issue is discussed in the media, there are many other associated costs, such as on-going specialist fees, hospital fees and anesthetist fees. In my experience, out of pocket expenses were close to $5000.

As it is, this is not a small cost. And when you take into consideration that IVF can take several cycles, costs can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

With the introduction of these new laws, the rebates would be capped and this potential extra cost could determine whether or not some couples can continue or begin treatment.

IVF is an emotionally and physically draining experience and, for many couples, their only chance to have children of their own.

The feelings of women experiencing IVF have been compared to those suffering from a terminal illness.

Additional costs would place a significant financial strain on families who simply can not afford to pay thousands of dollars multiple times.

Some couples may simply have to forgo the treatment, taking away their only chance of experiencing the magic of children.

IVF is responsible for the birth of more than 10,000 babies in Australia every year - my son being just one of those babies.

He is our little miracle and the prospect of not having had the chance to have him does not bear thinking.

And like many families, IVF will most likely be our only chance to give him a little brother or sister.

But it’s not because I put my career first, left it too late and think the government should pay for the convenience of having children how and when I would like.

I had just turned 27 when I started my first cycle.

Infertility is a medical condition – 40 per cent relates to female issues, 40 per cent male factor and 20 per cent is unexplained.

Fortunately for us, our first cycle was also the only one, but many couples go through up to ten IVF cycles, sometimes more, before achieving a pregnancy.

The government says those whose treatment costs are $6000 or less per cycle should not be affected by these changes.

But in reality, many clinics charge closer to $8000 per cycle, meaning couples could be up to $2000 dollars worse off.

It’s a tough blow to families already dealing with one of the most difficult challenges of their life.

And sad to think this amazing gift will only be available to the wealthy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

(news alert) Unit Clothing lands in the USA

Australia’s fastest growing action sports brand, Unit, has arrived in the USA, after being snapped up by Pac Sun.

The edgy and conceptual clothing and accessories brand landed on the shelves of the retail giant in November.

The range will be sold in 85 Pac Sun stores as well as through the online store.

Unit was founded by motocross racing brothers, Paul and Ian Everest, who turned their $600 investment into a multi-million dollar empire in less than five years.

During a time when many businesses are struggling, Unit continues to experience exponential growth, both in Australia and internationally.

Unit now has the highest sell through of all other motocross and street wear labels in Australia, outselling brands such as Fox, Skin and Metal Mulisha.

The brand has become a dominating force in the industry with serious design and industry credibility.

Creative Director Paul Everest says the brand expects the same success in the United States, with designs already flying off the shelves.

“We knew we would do well here in the US,” said Mr Everest.

“PacSun sold out of our ‘Frootloop’ tee in just 10 days.

“Australia is renowned for producing some of the worlds best surf brands and Unit is following in the same footsteps, doing for motocross what Billabong did for surf.”

Unit has a reputation for creative and sometimes controversial designs, for both its clothing range and its advertising.

“Our designs are edgy and our concepts resonate with core riders.

“Mediocrity used to work, with corporate boardrooms dictating youth culture.

“Brands like Unit are proof those days are now over.”

For more information visit www.unitriders.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

There's something about Grandpas...

When I was a little girl, my Grandpa used to tell me he could punch down trees.

I believed him of course. And thought he was the toughest man in the world.

He could even punch out the monsters hiding in the forest, he said - definitely the toughest.

As I grew up I realised Grandpa used to tell me a few tall tails, mostly relating to his toughness.

But my opinion didn't change...I still thought he was the toughest man in the world.

I used to punch his tummy, you see. And it was as hard as a rock - he was the toughest.

There's something about Grandpas and every little girl looks up to theirs...

I got to thinking about mine, after the Green V Jones boxing match - my Grandpa used to be a boxing trainer. See, tough.

Grandpas have the best stories too. Mine has told me many over the years, most of them true, all of them interesting.

Many have a bunch of fascinating photos or a newspaper clipping to go with them. I could have listened for hours.

I still could.

He lives interstate, but my Grandpa's stories are something I look forward to before every visit.

I had another Grandpa too. He passed away when I was little. He was a war hero, distinguished and handsome.

Yes there's something about Grandpas - and it's not reserved for their little grand-daughters.

We grow up - but in our eyes, our Grandpa stays the same.

I still think mine is the toughest man in the world - and I'm sure he could punch down a tree... if he had to.

My Dad is a grandpa now too - to my son and my niece and nephew.

The boys are still babies - but already I see the way his three-year-old grand-daughter looks up at him, with admiration and love - because there's something about grandpas.

My Dad is turning out to be a pretty special one...and he should be - he learnt from the best.

About Me

My photo
Nicole is an Australian journalist, presenter and communications consultant. She spent several years as a News Limited journalist, writing for a variety of local newspapers and magazines. Following this, Nicole was a reporter and presenter with the Nine Network, filing stories for Brisbane magazine program Extra, lifestyle show Weekend Extra and National Nine News. She is now a freelance journalist, writing for a variety of publications. Her special interests are features, lifestyle, current affairs, women, parenting/family and health. Nicole is also a public relations and communications consultant. www.nicolemadigan.webs.com
Related Posts with Thumbnails