2013-10-17

Why older Mums don't need to be reminded by personalised Ads that we're getting older


“Lose weight now! Secret formula dieticians love to hate!”

The personalised advert said one morning on the right hand side of my personal Facebook profile wall. It appeared just after my 49th birthday earlier this year. And then, the blizzard of personalised advertising targeted at the almost 50 something woman started to come thick and fast.

Well thanks so much for reminding me about my middle aged spread.  I know I’ve put on weight, and I’m actually doing something about it for the sake of my health, not because you guys tell me that I’m getting fat now I’m going through the post-reproductive stage.

“Single dating for mature adults only over 49s need apply”

Yes I know I am a divorced sole parent still raising my last two children at home, but no thanks I don’t need another complicated problem called a relationship. After my marriage? Not a chance!

“The new wrinkle treatment perfected by a solo mother plastic surgeons hate her for it”

Okay, I’m not as young as I used to be. My back aches, I probably need to take care of my skin a bit better now I’m soon to turn 50 years old, but oh please do I really need to be reminded by that darned ad?

I am ‘sure’ the Plastic surgeons hate the made up solo mother figure for supposedly coming up with a non-surgical face treatment. So what horrendous price were you guys charging for this get rid of wrinkles fast again? Just $150 for a tiny pot of some strange mixture of chemicals and weeds you tossed in a blender, put in a 50c bottle than claimed it was ‘worth’ $300 ,but hey you’re selling it for a song at $150.

Not surprisingly, I’m not the only one that feels that targeted advertising on Facebook isn’t the done thing to do. Many of my friends have made their own comments about those personalised adverts blighting their walls with lose weight now, anti-wrinkle secrets, and dating ads for mature people.

The Pew Survey on targeted advertising published last year (9 March 2012)  68% of respondents said they were “Not OKAY” with having their on line behaviour tracked and analysed. 28% said they were okay.

68% said they were “not OK” with targeted ads since, as the response continued, “I don’t like having my online behavior tracked and analyzed”
28% said they were “OK” because “I see ads and get information about things I’m really interested in”  – Pew Survey

The demographic for age didn’t bring any surprise that the majority not liking the targeted ads were in the older age groups

In general, the older someone was, the less likely they were to agree with targeted ads. The exception was that those 65 and over dipped a little less on the negative scale compared to 50-64 year-olds. The percentage of those who said it wasn’t OK, by age group:
18-29: 59%
30-49: 65%
50-64: 78%
65+: 72%

Source: The Pew Survey 9 March 2012 (Pew Internet & American Life Project)
Pew Survey: 68% View Targeted Ads Negatively; 59% Have Noticed TargetingMar 9, 2012 at 10:00am ET by Danny Sullivan
I used to write real estate adverts for the company I formerly worked for as a property manager. Some of them were used as examples of good use of text, when marketing a property in the corporate marketing seminars for real estate agents. I don’t have a degree in marketing, so I won’t pretend that I do. But going on experience from how people responded to an advertising text tailored for that particular market and a straight out boring, uninteresting use of text to sell a property the use of words and images makes or breaks the product you’re trying to sell.

So please Facebook advertisers, don’t insult my intelligence by trying to tell me I’m fat, wrinkled and in need of a date (or a shag for that matter), because I’m a desperate, bored and lonely sole parent.

I’m just the opposite of that. I’m a happy, well adjusted, losing through a significant change in diet (on the advice of my specialist) my middle aged spread, soon to turn 50 single parent with two teenage girls and a daughter in her late 20s with a PhD in Psychology.

I’m slightly crazy, definitely unconventional and I don’t fit into the box quite right, and quite frankly I don’t care if I don’t fit into that box.

 My advice to all you women, who can’t stand those targeted ads coming your way. Use the Ad Block app extension. You’ll find it on google, just type in Ad Block and the type of browser you are using. Then you can enjoy your Facebook wall free of ads that tell you – you are getting old, fat, desperate and you eat too much chocolate.



2013-10-16

My favourite little people moments

My youngest children are just over a year apart. They're both teenagers with very different personalities. If they saw this photo, I have no doubts I will end up with an ear bashing. Finding it again made me smile - a lot. Because it's funny and shows just what little people can get up to when your back is turned. Little people get up to no good because that's how they explore the world which includes mummy's drawers, the fridge, dirt, worms, flies and other things we would never dream of going near. I've had some great moments with my girls. One rule I have. Let kids be kids.The grubbier they get during playtime the better. It means they have had fun! So here are my favourite moments in no particular order.


  1. Inaya raiding my art supplies and painting herself, her two year old sister and their bedroom a lovely messy shade of purple. 
  2. Michelle at five years old coming home from Leigh Primary School all excited about a human body lesson. As with all five year olds, she sat up all straight and serious and announced with pride that "Skeletons need little kids to stay alive" I mean how can anyone keep a straight face in front of a five year old that has said something as funny as that.
  3. My sister Michelle telling me Inaya (all of 18 months old) had eaten the dog's food, sand and had a couple of flies as well during her time at Aunty Shell's place. My response was Oh well it will improve her immune system won't it!
  4. Inaya with the great bathroom remodel which included Michelle wrapped up entirely in toilet paper. Shampoo dripping all over the walls. Lipstick painted on the mirror, Inaya, Michelle and the cat. And Inaya's high pitched little voice announcing she was the nurse and Michelle had a broken arm, so it had to be fixed!!! And fix Michelle she did. By almost mummifying her  in toilet paper. 
  5. The horrifed look on Inaya's face when I joked that we were going to go and live in a stinky old bus with mousie cheese farts and spiders.
  6. Hearing Michelle at four say her first word. "Dada" and hearing her first sentence six months later. Hello Mummy!

2013-10-14

"Your Mum is a wierdo." ASD Mum says Too right I am!


Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. - Steve Jobs


Hidden amongst the world's population of go get it mums, socialite mums, busy mums, do it yourself mums, sports moms, and my kids are everything mums, there is another kind of mum. She is known as the unconventional mum, the one that doesn't really quite fit in at your local playcentre or school committee meeting. She's the mum that seems to hide away, never dress quite right and not fit into the right kind of box society dictates a mum should fit into. She's the stand out mum, that other mums are quick to judge, and in some cases ridicule because she doesn't live up to expectations. In our fast busy society being an unconventional parent isn't considered acceptable. There are the coffee circles who twitter away in whispers about how that strangely dressed parent in their playgroup isn't quite all up there, or isn't wearing the right clothes or has the wrong hair style.

 I'm so sorry to tell you but here I am! Unconventional me! Diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in my 30s, my kids friends at Primary school used to say "Your Mum is a wierdo!" Well yes, mum is a wierdo. I even have the bit of paper that officially says I am. My kids are wierdos too. The youngest also has the ASD diagnosis. Wierdos R Us Inc! Perhaps I should start a brand or simply just smile a lot when I hear people talking about Autism as some kind of terrible disease that should be treated with kid gloves. The references to 'they' when the subject is talked about. At times there are people I've talked to about ASD that have no idea that the very person they are talking too about that subject has it herself. Yes I just have to smile, nod and carry on as if nothing had happened. The world is a hard place for people with ASD adults and children both alike to fit into a society that has set in concrete expectations, but like it or not we have to fit in the best we can. Make the best of the difficulties of being judged as 'strange', 'unconventional', 'wierd and otherwise, to shine a little, and be as much ourselves as possible while still fitting in. I've managed to do that, thanks to being brought up in a large loving family, who at the time, had no idea the second to youngest child had a developmental disorder of the brain which has the label Autistic Spectrum Disorder. My mother is a wonderful person. Because of her I learned how to dress, talk and adapt to an at times difficult situation. It's not easy to slide into the groove of society expectation, but I do it because I can.

When I was first diagnosed, dealing with the truth was like facing a hail of bullets in a fire fight. A long list of traits that came with that diagnosis that I poured over for weeks, examining, recognising and crying over sometimes. It was a hard and bitter pill to swallow at first. Me! The wierdo with a brain that didn't think like most people, got depressed easily and felt less than worthy of being much more than a hopeless waste of space. But I was also a mother who had her last two children late in her thirties, one of which was diagnosed two months short of her third birthday with you guessed it ASD.



My husband left me when my youngest children were 18 months and 4 months old respectively. With the security of my marriage gone, I went what many would call 'completely gaga!'. Left alone to raise three girls one a vunerable teenager, and other two still babies I walked a hellish path almost to suicide. If it wasn't for my family and close friends I would not be here today. And my Christian faith also gave me the solace I needed to get through each difficult day.

I had to let my eldest daughter go when she was 15 years old. It was a terrible time for us both. She went to live with her father. By seventeen she had tried to take her life. I can say this now. Facing the loss of a child to suicide is one of the worst kind of feelings any mother can experience. The feelings of grief, pain and fear of that loss becoming reality cuts down to the core of the soul. Had I not had my family there, and the sense enough to go and get counselling and support then I would have fallen completely apart. My daughter lived, moved on and has grown into a beautiful, well educated young woman about to complete her PHD in Psychology. I've moved on too, faced a few crisis along the way, and come out stronger on the other side of it.

By the time my youngest girls were aged six and five, I had had enough of being trapped in a go nowhere situation, stuck in a house I hated living in and with no prospect of going much further than single parent with ASD and two kids at home. The catalyst came when my now ex-husband told me his father had said it was time the house got sold and that they could kick me out of it. Excuse me???? That was what I had roared down the phone that day when that was told. I knew otherwise. And I knew it was time I stood up and said No. You. DON'T! So I got a divorce and I don't regret that decision. We had nothing further to say to each other. Later the house did get sold, with a mutual and amicable agreement. He got his share and I got mine. He's since remarried, we've had our issues with a dictatorial second wife sticking her beak into business not hers to be sticking her beak into. She was told in no uncertain terms about the rules regarding whose children are whose. Mother Bear is not kind when others try to interfere where they should not interfere.

Almost a decade ago now, I brought the farm I live upon now in a rural area nobody thought was much good for anything. I'm glad I did make that move. Two years on I ended up with a full time job with a local real estate agents office, two years after that I took on the editorship of the local community publication and fell somehow into writing and journalism with a lot of fun in between. I've raised two kids into two wonderful teenagers. Ended up with an insane host of animals with wierd names and personalities and I'm the happiest I've been in a long time. So to all you unconventional mums out there I say to you. Be yourselves and never worry about what other people think of you. Because you are doing a great job no matter how much you may never seem to fit in. ASD mums are just as cool as those other mums out there so keep that in mind next time you get down because some kid or mum tries to run you down.

And yes I am Happy!

2013-10-13

Zoo Talk, Old Libraries and a visit to old friends



Six months ago or so, my lifetime friend of over thirty years Lisa told me she was going to be giving a talk on the early history of Auckland Zoo. Last Thursday it all came together, with a sizeable crowd gathering around at the Pt Chevalier Community Library, Lisa gave her talk with me her resident heckler parked in the front row with a big grin on my face. What I didn't expect was that I ended up taking part in that talk. Auckland Zoo history is one of my interests. Slowly but surely I''ve been working on a time line based on the records Lisa so kindly obtained for me from Auckland Council Archives. We went from the subject of the  Polar Bears, when one of the people attending asked how many had died at the zoo (that's where I got nabbed and a microphone shoved in front of me), that got answered, and Lisa carried on with her talk. Then we got to the subject of Rajah Auckland Zoo's first, and only bull elephant who arrived in 1930 then subsequently shot in 1936. Rajah is another one of my bugbears. For three years I nagged at Auckland Zoo to please change the story about a boy putting a cigarette in his trunk at Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart which made him bad tempered. It was a load of rubbish, and all based on a letter written by a Devonport socialite. At last Auckland Zoo have taken the reference to that down off their history. Lisa read the entire letter as part of her talk. When she brought up about how Auckland Zoo had been the main breeder of Siamese Cats during the breed's early years in New Zealand the surprised looks were everywhere! Escaped monkeys in wardrobes, escaped leopards found floating in the Auckland Habour, coloured mice and iconic animals. It was a brilliant talk . You can read the text of Lisa's speech notes here


After the speech was over, Lisa and I headed down to Onehunga for lunch at the former Carnegie Library. All I can say about this building is wow! The building was one of eighteen free libraries built throughout New Zealand from a grant given by US Industrialist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was one of the men who they say built America. There's a brilliant documentary series titled "The Men who built America" that has been showing now and then, on the History Channel. Carnegie is covered in that series. The Carnegie Library was build in 1912 and is a listed building with the NZ Historic Places Trust. After lunch we headed down to Archives New Zealand to do a bit of research. Boring it wasn't! I got what I needed which made me happy. We had a great day together.

On the way home I stopped in at my good friends Jack and Ngaere Hannam. It was great to catch up with them both after a very long time. The horse in the photo is their Arabian stallion Waimeha Detonator. I rode him for just on six years. If I had more time that day I would have been sorely tempted to take him out for a ride. He's 26 years old now, and I think he's aged gracefully in his twilight years after siring some top horses. He's had champion stallion a few times at the shows. I'll have to see Jack and Ngaere more often, you forget sometimes how long you haven't seen your friends until you do see them!

Oh look at that yawn! It had been a long day but a brilliant one and fun with it. And of course when I got home certain troublesome (but much loved) jersey Terrorist was there just to let me know how much she 'loved' her surrogate parent. Everywhere I went she followed! She almost followed me inside, the little toad. I had to shut the ranchslider fast! I think she stood stubbornly outside most of the night, before finally deciding the attempt to make me feel guilty wasn't working. There's more to come somewhere along the way, trouble is never far at Mad Bush Farm. And as something to think about. A lesson many people in our society need to learn. Don't judge people by how they look or act. This is from a video I found on Youtube from Britian's got talen. Listen it will blow you away. Jonathan and Charlotte