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My online identity – part two of two

Yesterday I posted (well, re-posted, actually!) an entry from my first-ever (and now inactive) blog. It outlined three questions that I return to again and again, when considering my online identity.

1. What do my images say about me?

2. What am I saying about me? and

3. What am I not saying about me?

Well, that was a little over 18 months ago. So what has changed? How do I now view ‘success’ in creating and maintaining my online identity?

Source: Uploaded by user via Megan on Pinterest

18 months ago, I was just starting out with online tools. Sure, GoodOldTalk.com had been up and running for a little over a year, and I had an inactive twitter account, and I had been on Facebook for a while, but that was about it. No flickr, no YouTube, and so on – and I didn’t even know that tools such as TweetDeck, HootSuite existed – let alone EverNote, Instagram, DropBox, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, etc etc etc.

Now however, I’ve been self-employed for a year. I’ve been running my own Marketing business, and not only have I seen the need to be in social media for Bloxham Marketing, but creating and maintaining social media accounts for my clients is an integral part of my business. Which has meant that I’m a lot more ‘out there’ than I ever have been.

This blog has also played a major part in the evolution of my opinion regarding my online identity. I started it Christmas 2010, using @fionawb‘s #blog12daysChristmas as an impetus. My PLN, formed for the most part by Librarians on twitter, was integral in maintaining this blog throughout its development, to what it is today. Through the relationships I now have with online friends, I have come to see that it’s probably okay to relax a little from that hard-liner stance I had, 18 months ago.

1. What do my images say about me? That’s been a toughy. I like to add an image to each of my blog entries, however when I want to write about my kids, and I don’t want to upload their images to the net, that’s a little problematic. So a few weeks back now, I dedicated a post to each, and included their photo (albeit, not a particularly identifiable one!) Plus, in my recent exploration of Pinterest, and its ability to easily embed (and attribute, of sorts!) into WordPress, that’s made my life a little easier. Now I feel as though I can show a little of who I am / what I like through the images I display – even though these images don’t necessarily have me in the frame or behind the camera.

2. What do I say about myself? Again, I’ve probably been more vulnerable than I had ever thought I would be. From entries about my gambling addiction (coming up to 20 years not being at a BlackJack table – as much as I still think about it more regularly than I’d like!) to my miscarriage, from my employment problems to my time in a cult, I’ve exposed quite a lot about myself… but then again, “my friends IRL know this stuff about me, and I’m comfortable sharing with them, so why not others?” is how I see it. Obviously, I keep my personal stuff on this blog, and my Bloxham Marketing blog is all about the work side of my life, however when I think of my online identity, I’m trying to reflect who I am as a person. As much as I’d like to cover up the yuk stuff, and pretend to be something I’m not, I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up for too long, and then you, my dear readers, would see right through it – and then, where would I be?!

3. What do I NOT say about me? Again, this has changed, in the light of my being far more open online than I had expected I would be. I’m still wary of PII, however as a self-employed business owner, I need to be contactable by potential clients, so my contact details are accessible in what I feel are the appropriate places. And as for embarrassing myself with inappropriate photos / videos / stories? Yup – pretty much all of them are in the “not sayin’!! basket”!

So – this is me. What do you think? Agree? Or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

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Of op shops and cherubs

Yesterday we visited my favourite Op Shop, Neighbour’s Aide Community Stores at Caloundra. My daughters also love visiting, as the prices are always within their limited budgets.
Yesterday, Miss 4 bought herself a glossy pink duck ornament, and Miss 7 a flower paper holder.
Miss 4 was possibly the more excited of the two with her purchase however. Since it has become her most treasured possession, she has been busy carrying it around, cuddling it, and showing it to everyone. Including the dogs, the grandparents, and of course the passing butterfly that decided to flit past the window this morning at breakfast.
Aren’t kids great!

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family anecdotes momentous events More about me

The pros and cons of labels

On the one hand, I have always liked to simplify my life as much as possible. On the other hand, I have a dislike for the concept of labelling people, especially when these labels have been applied to me or to those who are close to me. I know, I’m a hypocrite. I use labels myself but then I don’t like it when they are applied to me. Funny, hey! I wonder if everyone is like that?
Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about labels over the last few days. I blogged a couple of days ago about facing my fears and googling “autism”. You see, Hubby and I have suspected for a little while now, that Master 2 may have this condition. Not to a huge extent, but I’m pretty positive that he is showing several of the symptoms. And this scares the hell out of me. You see, I know how impatient a person I am. And I know, that were I to have an autistic child, I would need boundless reserves of patience. I worry how others would treat him if he were labelled with the word ‘Autistic’ or ‘Aspergers’. I worry if I have enough strength to cope. Truth be told, I’m scared. Really scared. I’m scared of taking him to get an official diagnosis. I’m scared in case I find out that I was right. I’m scared of what may be involved in the management of an autistic child. And yet, when I look at him, I see the same little boy I’ve loved for almost 3 years. He hasn’t changed. But to suddenly apply a label to him and to his life will change that life drastically, for ever. Is this something I could really do? Is this something I should do? Which is best for him? Is this also what is best for me? For my family? Should we even come into this equation?
As a teacher, I know full well how the system is changed for the ascertained child. Again, is this something I want for my little boy? Will it help him more than it will harm him? Or won’t it be worth it, because it could just make it all worse? It certainly will make it all harder!
I guess, what it comes down to, is this: Are his symptoms severe enough, am I worried enough, to change his life so drastically? Or, would it be just best to let his life continue as it has been? What do I do? Where do I go from here? My mind is full of turmoil. And I’m not sure what my next move should be.
Maybe it would just be best to get the wheels in motion. To work out whether or not he does fit on the spectrum. What I really want – is to equip myself with strategies to manage his behaviour so that he understands how to fit in, socially. So that he learns to control his own behaviour, and understand what is, and what is not, appropriate. They say that early intervention is the best move. I wonder if they are right.
I guess, whichever course of action I choose to take, I’ve changed my opinion forever, on this whole idea of ‘labelling’.

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Making ripples

Little ripples go a long way. Little decisions can have consequences we would never even have dreamed of.

Source: creaturecomfortsblog.com via JJ @ So Many Little Things on Pinterest

Take yesterday afternoon. Or was it the day before? Anyway, Misses 7 and 4 wanted to use their pocket money to hire the local Video 2000’s copy of the PS2 game “Up” (based on the kids’ movie) and I needed to return an overdue CD from the local library, so we all piled in the car for a quick drive to our local town. Got there and a huge sign outside Video 2000 said ‘Closing Down sale’. What a shock!
They weren’t hiring, just selling. Everything, at $10ish each.
$100 later, and the kids have PS2 games of “Up”, “Wall-E” and “Madagascar”. Hubby has 5 war flicks he’s wanted for ages. And me? Well, I’d been thinking about seeing ‘Miss Potter’ again for a while – I really liked Renee Zellweger’s portrayal of Beatrix Potter – and at just $10 I thought – why not? And, although I searched for Oscar Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband‘, (the Jeremy Northam version, of course! Did I mention that I REALLY liked him in ‘Emma’?!) they didn’t have it. So instead, I ended up with ‘The Jane Austen Book Club‘, which I’d never watched before on account of the probability of teasing from Hubby. Quite a decent film, now I’ve seen it!
But a simple decision, to drive into town, has now meant that not only are we considerably out of pocket for the next week-and-a-half, but time-wise, there have been a lot fewer entries on my blog as I would like… hmmm…
Oh well. Never mind. There’s always tomorrow!

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family anecdotes momentous events More about me Random thoughts

*My* chair

A couple of years ago, I was having trouble coping. It felt as though my life was one big pile of pressure, and there was no relief in sight. I felt that there wasn’t even any place in my own house that I could escape from the demands of others, or of my own (sometimes unreasonable) expectations of myself as a new mother, happy wife, and indifferent yet not-TOO-slack housekeeper.
So I snapped, and demanded Hubby buy me a chair. One of my own choosing, for my personal use ONLY.
(Plus, baby number three was unexpectedly on his way, and we’d given away my feeding chair with all the other baby stuff, after our second daughter had arrived.)
So I threw a right royal tantrum, and got *my* chair. Rule number one: it’s Mummy’s chair. No-one puts toys or books on it, and no one sits on it without asking first. Grown-ups included. Rule number two: never forget Rule number one.
I love my chair. I use it, and no one else does. It is wholly and solely, irrevocably, MINE and everyone knows it.
And I love it! My ‘special place’. Just for me.
My chair.

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Waking

I love waking up. It’s something that happens very rarely, maybe once or twice a year. Okay, maybe three. Or four. But not more than half-a-dozen, I’m sure of it.
Right now you’re thinking “This chic is crazy”. And yes, I probably am a little, but not over this. So I guess I’d better explain myself.
I rarely ‘wake up’ because I’m always being ‘woken up’. Yes, there is a distinction. No, I never understood the distinction until I became a parent.
I absolutely LOOOOOOOOOVE waking up. The sensation of realising that you’re awake, and that you’ve slept, and that now that you’re awake you can tell that you’ve achieved this state of wakefulness all by yourself, and that you don’t have to immediately rush out of bed to attend a child, a pet, or other miscellaneous disturbance, but that you have the leisure to lie there for a minute, or two, or three, (or even maybe to go back to sleep again!) with noone demanding your time, your attention, your energy… Yes, I love waking up.
I have never owned an alarm clock. I have always been a ‘morning person’. I have always woken at 6, or before if I was anxious about anything. Those days are gone now. A pity, in a way, but I’d NEVER give up my kids just to get a few hours more sleep. The benefits far outweigh, and all that sort of stuff.
Take my mornings, now.
Most of them, say around 17 or 18 out of 20, I wake up when the door to my bedroom opens. It’s generally around 5.45am, and the house is dark and quiet. Mr 2 walks quietly past Hubby and around to my side of the bed. He then stands there with his hand on my shoulder or arm, until I put an arm around him. Or he climbs up next to me and lies down. He doesn’t make a sound. He’ll stay quiet, not moving. He won’t fall asleep. He’s just happy being hugged. And he stays with me ’til I take him out of the room.
My daughters never did that. Sure, they came in on the odd occasion, or they tried to, but it was always a ‘middle of the night’ thing, not a ‘I’ve woken up now and I know it’s morning but instead of playing with my toys in my room (which is what he used to do) I want to give you a hug until you’re ready to get up and play with me’.
I love that about my mornings. I know it’s a phase, and he’ll grow out of it quicker than I want him too, but right at the moment, his early morning cuddle trumps even ‘my waking up’.
And I love that.

Photo: Mr 2. Taken by the exceptional Greg Parsons.

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Hand in hand

Miss 4 is my ‘Wha?Huh?’ child. Not because she asks questions constantly, but because that’s what everyone always says when they see us together.
I’m Eurasian. My hair is thick, straight, and very dark brown. I also have dark brown eyes, and olive skin that can get VERY olive when I’ve been in the sun. Miss 4, on the other hand, has wispy thin blonde hair, very blue eyes, and fair skin.
Exactly. My ‘Wha?Huh?!’ child.
Yes, she’s mine. Yes, she’s my husband’s. (It’s both amusing and disconcerting, just how many people – from strangers through to close friends – have insinuated that I’m a tramp, since she’s been born. The strangers, I admit, wouldn’t know me from a bar of soap. But acquaintances, friends, and close friends? Surely they’d know that Hubby and I’ve been happily married for over 16 years now…?!!) I don’t remember such insinuations ever happening beforehand. Plus, when you think about it, even alleged promiscuity doesn’t make sense. I gave birth to her but it’s ME that she DOESN’T look like!!?)
She also doesn’t have an ounce of my ‘perfectionist, cranky, must be done my way’ nature. She’s a cruisy kid who loves to laugh. She’s a beautiful dancer, but hopeless at singing in tune. A big fruit eater, she’s the healthiest of all my kids, and will probably be the largest, if the first few years of her life are anything to go by.
The other day, I was sitting in *my* chair (topic for another blog post, dear readers) and she was standing next to me, hand in my hand, while I was trimming her fingernails. I finished, then, as she does at least a dozen times a day, she said, “Hug and kiss, Mummy?” then proceeded to give me one of each.
I looked at her, looking up at me and smiling her gorgeous smile, those big blue eyes wide open and full of trust and innocence, and counted myself blessed. So blessed to have such a loving child. So blessed to have three loving children, who are happy and healthy and who enrich my life so completely.
How lucky am I to be hand in hand with such treasures. Thank you, Lord!

Photo: Greg Parsons. Great guy, brilliant photographer.

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What I’m *hoping* digital babysitters are teaching my kids…

I bought Miss 7 an iPod Touch for Christmas. (For regular readers of my blog – yes, this was a recent addition to my ‘list’. It now includes “Get an iPod” next to the age “When you can read”. Yes, I am aware that this is out-and-out bribery. Hey, it works!)
So anyway, she loves it, and in her limited time in between sleeping, eating, school and the long drive there and back, she gets time to play on it. That is, when she’s not doing homework, playing on the computer or on the PS2.
Yes, I’m a bad mum. Maybe. You see, even though many parents, and even many, many more educators, would say that all that time in front of a screen is ‘bad’, I wonder if it is. Really.
What are the main arguments against kids in front of the screen? 1. Lack of physical activity. 2. Slow speech / language development. 3. Less socialisation; 4. addictive tendencies. Okay, so here are my answers to these:
1. My kids’ all-time-favourite place is the beach, closely followed by the playground or my neighbour’s pool. Given the choice, all three would hands-down go for the outside activity.
2. Hubby was worried about the effects of TV on our middle child. When she was 2, her favourite activity was watching TV (it was just a phase) and he pestered me with questions like ‘they say TV is bad for young kids, why are you letting her watch it all he time?’ (Not that I was, but he didn’t see that). When I explained that ‘their’ reason TV was so bad was because kids who watched TV learned fewer words than kids who didn’t watch so much,(apparently it’s a loss of approximately six new words per hour,) he stopped worrying. Although she was only two, she spoke like a four year old.
3. My kids socialize around the PS2 just the same way that other children socialize around their favourite family toy or object. Lessons in sharing, taking turns, winning and losing gracefully, not being bossy with each other, encouraging each other, coping with jealousy and the odd tantrum, helping each other, teaching each other, all come into play.
4. Addictive tendencies – this is a biggie for me, seeing as I’m a gambling addict myself. Miss 7 knows the words ‘addict’ and ‘addicted’ and understands the harm an addiction can cause. We were given the PS2 when she was 4 1/2 and she quickly got hooked playing ‘Nemo‘. At first she didn’t understand why I limited her playtime, but then one Saturday I let her play for as long as she wanted too. Five hours later, she was complaining of sore eyes and sore thumbs. It was a lesson she learned very quickly, that excess, even in the things that you love, can be bad. she also saw how her desire to play Playstation non-stop had cost her fishing time with Daddy, and that it was better to control her desire, rather than have her desire controlling her. (One smart cookie, that kid! And the best bit is… she teaches her siblings what she’s learned!)
So having thwarted – or at least, annulled in part – the objections, these are my hopes:
1. My children are learning to problem solve, by having to rely on themselves to work out how new games work. Hopefully, these problem solving skills will be transferrable to problems that they encounter IRL. They’re also problem solving in digital media that will undoubtedly be a huge part if their lives. And the strategies of dealing with disappointments and triumphs, will hopefully also be transferred.
2. Not so much on the PS2, but firstly with computer games and now with Apps, I am continually amazed at how quickly kids can learn the numbers, letters, sight words and sums. Yes, I have ‘game’ apps too, but most of my apps are maths based, word and alphabet based, and kids books. And they’re all free.
Miss 4 left the nurses at Nambour Hospital flabbergasted a couple of months ago. She was being wheeled in for surgery to remove the wires in her elbow, and she was correctly completing two digit sums on ‘Addition & Subtraction for kids‘. And she was only three. (Check out this App if you haven’t come across it yet – the fish that looks like Nemo works quite well at attracting the kids!)
I’d say, the way they’re going, both she and Mr 2 will be quite ahead-of-the-game when they start school. Well, maybe not ahead of the classmates who also have had similar exposure to such learning opportunities, but ahead-of-the-curriculum, at any rate!
3. My children are learning the value of ‘rewards for work’. Yes, Miss 7 and Miss 4 have spent a large chunk of the past few weeks (since the rain set in) on the PS2. But they’ve only had one hour ‘free’. The rest of the time, they’ve had to ‘earn’ it. Write a ‘story’, get half-an-hour. Complete a page in an activity book, get 20 minutes. Complete two hard pages, get an hour. And Miss 7’s iPod timer keeps us all accurate – and reinforces the mathematical ‘time’ concepts, too!
So, that’s it. My three ‘hopes’ for my digital babysitter’s teaching abilities. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have any more arguments for or against to add? I’d love to hear them!

Oh – and today’s photo is Miss 7 down at Caloundra. Taken by the incomparable Greg Parsons, photographer extraordinaire and all around great guy.

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Family photos

Yesterday I wrote a post about my insanely busy week last week – and included a photo of my gorgeous three cherubs. This was the first time I have ever posted a photo of them – any of them – online, as I am paranoid when it comes to their security. I have asked all my family and friends to do likewise (to not post photos of my children, if they have them) and even emailing is something I am wary of.

To some, I know this sounds absolutely crazy, and I must be certifiably insane. To others, that I’m taking my role as their protector a little too far. To a few, such precautions are prudent. The world wide web is simply NOT a safe place, and although I hate to admit it, I know that there are some very poor children who have simply horrendous things done to them, and I want to keep my children as safe (and as innocent) as possible, for as long as possible. It would break my heart if I inadvertently was the cause of anything remotely close to their being in danger.

Reason being: I have cute kids. Yes, I know that every parent probably thinks that about their children, but in my opinion, they are really quite good-looking. I am Eurasian, which gives them slightly olive skin, high cheekbones, and cute button noses. Miss 7 has light brown hair and brown eyes. Miss 4 is blonde with blue eyes. Mr 2 has almost black hair, and eyes so dark brown they’re almost black. And I’d prefer for them to be in their late teens before they start posting identifiable photos of themselves online. They’re all listed with Faye Rolph models, and the girls have both had modeling jobs in the last 6 months (Miss 7 was in the Christmas Amart All Sports TV ad) but any identifiable photos which can be traced back to our address – or even any specific location – are a plain scary thought.

That being said, the photo of them yesterday was cute without revealing too much. And I liked that. They’re a huge part of my life, and I like writing about them. So I’ve decided to post more, similar, photos of them here. (They DO take a good photo, I must admit!) Today’s is the whole family, taken early last year. It’s probably my favourite photo ever.

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Exhaustion plus.

Source: flickr.com via Jessica on Pinterest

Ever had one of those weekends when you finally get there and just ‘stop’?! Where your week has been just SOOOOOO busy that you haven’t had time to just sit? And you haven’t really noticed if you’ve eaten, or slept? Well, that’s been my week this week.

Starting last Saturday, I woke up sick. As in, the non-stop dry cough kind. Sunday, this became a back-ache so bad I could hardly move, and spent the day flat on my back. This is extremely unusual for me, a person who is often told that she ‘never stops’. I was actually really quite worried, because I knew how huge the coming week was, and I just didn’t know how I’d survive it all if I couldn’t even walk! But God is good, and I was able to stand by Sunday night, and walk again by Monday morning. Thankfully! But the upshot of a day in bed was that I read ‘People of Heaven’ by Beverly Harper, which was rather reminiscent of Bryce Courtenay’s writings about Peekay and Tandia. An interesting story, but I’m not sure whether the author should have included so much history ‘tacked on’ in places, without being directly relevant to the plot. Nevertheless, a good way to spend a day in which you can hardly move.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were a blur of work, podiatry appointments, childcare, swimming lessons, driving, and non-stop rain. On Wednesday afternoon, I pulled Miss 7 out of school early, planning to buy school shoes at Athlete’s Foot, Morayfield… only to discover that their store had closed, and the closest was at Caloundra. So the kids played with my iPhone camera while we waited in line at BUPA, to get some of the huge amounts of money back from the Podiatry appointment. And be yet more disappointed, because our Health Cover didn’t do much covering. And yet again, it was a day of poor health choices food-wise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday was Australia Day. A day of not ‘having’ to go anywhere. When asked that morning, I had told Hubby that I wanted to spend the day hanging pictures, now that I had finally bought myself a Wall Stud Finder. Instead, seeing as the rain had stopped, we took the kids to a crowded Kings Beach Pool, ate a fish-and-chips lunch, then took a lovely long drive. Mr 2 immediately fell asleep, and the girls played with home-made ‘helicopters’ made out of sandals and sunnies. Quite cute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rain returned that night, so on Friday morning I changed my plans and spent the day at home. It was splendiferous. Hubby and Miss 7 eventually made it to school, but not before being caught in the parking lot that was the Bruce Highway southbound, at Caboolture. And I caught up on work. Housework. Laundry. Dishes. Hanging those pictures. Filing. Blogging for Bloxham Marketing. Oh – and playing with iBooks Author, now that I’d upgraded to the Lion OS and lamented my touchpad now going backwards.

So. That was my week. Huge. And now I get to stop. Hooray!!!!!