Thursday, 30 June 2011

All class

We have really lucked out in the preschool department. I feel really blessed to have one part of this parenting malarkey fall into place. Lil-lil started preschool earlier this year at a local community preschool. She goes three days a week, from 9am -3pm. There are18 other four-years-olds, two young teachers and a teacher's aide.

Little Lil-lil bounds off to preschool with excitement, each and every time. Not one tear has fallen about a drop-off, the only she gets upset is if I'm early to pick her up. We're now on school holidays and she's asked if we can go and visit preschool "just for a couple of hours".

I recently accompanied the class on an excursion to the local fire station and it was a lovely insight to how the kids interact. Most of all, it was reassuring to see how much the teachers enjoy what they do, how enthusiastic they are about teaching the kids, how proud they are of their charges and how they genuinely care for them. Yesterday, being the last day of term there were big cuddles and promises of bringing in lots of holidays tales.

I hated preschool, dreaded going each morning. Cried, performed and generally watched the door until home time. So, it's a huge relief that Lil-lil is having such a positive, happy experience and one that she'll carry with her.

Her dad and I are just amazed at what's she's learning too. The little nuggets of information she brings home, the incredible drawings she's doing and seeing the whole world open up for her is just fantastic.

The pinnacle for me was last week she was sitting at her little table at home, drawing away. She came up with a picture of mum, dad and herself. Everyone looked as they should and our names were written underneath, I didn't even know she would write mum and dad unassisted. My heart filled with a pride I never knew existed.

I just hope her schooling life continues in the same way!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

It's all in the jeans

I'm not one for buying maternity-specific clothing. It's always a bit naff and expensive. I've tended to get by wearing clothes a few sizes bigger, longer or stretchier.

At the moment, I'm still wearing my normal jeans, despite my enormous belly. I just do the button up below my gut and away we go. It's starting to get a little uncomfortable though and after a wash it does take a bit of an effort to do up, with Skip laughing at me as I struggle. Being a stay-at-home mum and being winter, jeans are pretty much my uniform. So, I've decided to bite the bullet and buy a decent pair of maternity jeans (yeah, yeah I should have done this a couple of pregnancies ago). I realised that I'm completely clueless and going into a shop or online and just buying a pair of jeans is not that easy.

After doing some research, I found some fab information on the Queen Bee online store. I'm going to share it with you as you might be as clueless as me.... (This post was not sponsored, just me doing some research and asking the experts)

First things first, you must pick your pre-pregnancy size or else you'll be hitching your jeans up all day.
There are three main types of maternity jeans and the difference is how they accommodate your growing belly.

Underbelly waistband: These jeans either have a front-only supportive stretch waistband OR an all round elastic waistband. the waistband sits underbelly as you get bigger. These type of jeans are super comfy and good for post-partum wear too.

Stretch side panels: As the name suggests, these jeans have side stretch panels that expand with your tummy – from the back they look just like your regular jeans.  This type of jeans is the most 'normal' style of jeans and can be worn when you're not pregnant.

No panel styling: These jeans have no panels but sit underbelly with plenty of stretch in the denim to support you to nine months.

Now this information is good, but is it going to make me look like the style kitten I really am? (ha, ha, ha) I asked the owner of Queen Bee, Sharon Chim, what she recommended for this winter.

Her top pick was: James Jean Twiggy. Apparently this is a fave with all the celebs. "They are designed by a woman so they are cut to make your legs look longer, leaner and thinner and your bottom sexier than ever," Sharon tells me. Awesome! They come in black and blue (Black Cat or China Doll)
James Jean Twiggy

Her second pick was: Maternal America Skinny Jeans. Sharon told me they are a great everyday, everywhere jeans. "The quality of the denim is superior and they will last you many pregnancies – Im still wearing mine as the tummy band gives shape underneath my clothes!" Sharon revealed. They come in classic wash, dark vintage wash, stone wash or black.

Maternal America Skinny

So, I now feel like I'm a little more informed, now I have to pick a pair! Which pair do you think??
To make things easier, the nice people Queen Bee have offered myself and my readers $15 off any full-priced pair of jeans from their online store. Just enter the promotion code: blogDENIM15 to receive the discount at the check out. 

1. Excludes delivery charges.
2. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.
3. Applies only to all full priced denim, excludes accessories
4. Offer valid to midnight 31.7.11
5. Returns/exchanges welcome within 14 days
6. You must enter the correct promo code at checkout to receive your discount - sorry, no exceptions. we cannot manually adjust orders

Disclosure: This post was not sponsored. Queen Bee made the discount offer after I requested permission to use information from their site.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

My place in the blogging world

The blogging world is a funny place at the moment. There is much talk of 'branding', 'PR relationships', 'sponsorships', 'functions', etc. It's fast-moving and intense.

When I started blogging just a little under two years ago, my blog was just somewhere for me to jot down my thoughts, practice my writing, stop my brain from dissolving. I didn't expect anyone to read it, I didn't really expect to read anyone else's blog. Instead, what I discovered was a world of wonderful blogs. Everyday people writing about their lives. There were fantastic writers and storytellers. There were people who took  beautiful photographs. There were people who just shared their everyday mundane moments in their own unique way. I fell in love. I loved reading these wonderful spots on the internet. Little places that people made their own. It was almost like being invited into someone's home, someone's world. I loved sharing snippets from my world and sharing my take on the world.

About six months ago (maybe a little longer) the blogging world seem to take a big dose of steroids or something. These little worlds started taking different shapes. There were now websites and seminars and meetings about blogging. How to blog. How to make the most of blogging. Realising the potential of your blog. At the other end of the scale people wonder if working with PR and making money from your blog is selling out.

I haven't been immune to this ride. I have been swept up in the excitement. I have wondered if I could take my blog further. I've wondered if I have a 'brand'. Am I overselling myself? Underselling myself?

I've been approached by PR companies. I've had ads on here. And that's all good. It's been fun to have products land on my doorstep. It's been fun to be invited to things. It's been fun to meet other bloggers. It's been eye-opening to see how far some people are going. It was a great experience to be involved in the Top 50 bloggers (as well as a huge honour).

There has also been a lot of soul searching done (by myself and others) about where they fit in all this. For me, it's complicated, yet simple at the same time.

I have to admit being saddened when I hear people wondering if they should write about XYZ in fear of putting of potential PR experiences. I've been saddened when people changed their blogs to fit a certain mould. I've also been saddened when I hear about people trying to learn how to 'blog effectively'.

I don't have a problem with people trying to make a living out of their blogs or trying to create something big, if they do that's wonderful. I just hope that we don't lose the unique blogs. The everyday storytellers who weave their own certain magic. The bloggers who blog for love of blogging. I hope we don't see lots of cookie-cutter blogs, blogging a certain way because that's how they've been told they 'should' blog.

Most of all, I just hope we don't overthink the whole thing. Blog the way you want to. Write about what you want to write about. Take photos. Don't take photos. Write five times a day or write five times a year. Whatever. Just be you. Just enjoy it. That, to me, is successful blogging.

This little blog doesn't mark a huge mark on the blogging world and that's OK. It's my little place. It's a hobby which I adore and which brings happiness to my friends and family and, most of all, to me. I'm fortunate that I do get paid to write in other formats, so this blog can be just for me. From time to time if I get sent a product that I really like then I'll share it with you, in my own special way. If I get invited to something that sounds great I'll go. If there are experiences that my kids, husband and I can enjoy out of blogging, then you can be damn sure I'm going to jump on them. I may or may not have ads, I don't know.

Mostly, I'm just going to keep writing about the stuff that pops into my head. It won't be everyone's cup of tea. Some day I'll be drinking solo, I'm sure. Other days I may be rounding the whole bar. Whatever.

Welcome to my little place on the internet. For better or worse, this is what it is.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Ocean calm

This morning, after a lazy 7.45am sleep-in, Skip and I went to pick up our girls who were at a sleepover with their Grandma. We had a couple of 'dos' on last night, so they were happy to spend a Saturday with Grandma. After picking up some sustenance in the form of divine croissants from La Banette and some coffee we headed for the northern beaches.

The sky was a magnificent shade of blue and the sun was absolutely gleaming. Despite being June it was actually kind of warm. There was only one thing for this weather – the beach. I've said it here many times before, but our family is always at its happiest next to the ocean. Lil-lil runs around digging, splashing, Goosey follows her. Skip chases them. I soak in the sunshine and feel the sand between my toes. I don't know what it is about the sea but it completely energises me, washes away the cranks, makes me feel alive.

I love the bush, I love the countryside but I love the ocean oh so much more. I just can't be too far away from it for too long.

Do you have a place that makes you feel happy and content?

Friday, 24 June 2011

Sydney soother

I was cranky yesterday. In fact the past few days. Everything just seemed to push my buttons. I've been impatient. It feels like there's constantly someone (generally a little person) asking something of me. Every time I try and sit down, just for a moment, there's an "I want...." I just wanted to pull the doona over my head and shut out the noise of the world for a little while.

There's been lots of niggly, stupid things to deal with that I just don't want to deal with. You know those days when it feels like they're idiots everywhere (though the biggest idiot around was probably me).

Anyhoo, with a loooooong afternoon stretching out ahead of me and Skip due to take a work colleague out for dinner, I decided I needed to wear the kids out. Prevent the squabbles, keep moving and get through the rest of the day as quickly as possible. I decided to take them to the aquarium.

It's just five minutes from home, but we drove around and couldn't find a car park. We then drove past a park I haven't taken the kids to for ages, the sun was shining down upon it like a little sign from heaven. It just seemed to glow.

I stopped the car and we all jumped out. It was sheltered and warm, so despite being a chilly winter's day the kids kicked off their shoes off and dug their toes in the sand pit. For almost two hours they played happily, they were queens and super kids. They were builders and shopkeepers. I sat soaking in the sun and their contentment.

As the sun began to set and the air began to chill, we jumped back in the car. It was decided that we'd have beans and eggs for dinner, as dad was going to be out. We got home and Skip arrived shortly after, his work dinner cancelled. So we strolled up the road to a Japanese restaurant, sure beats beans and eggs.

It's amazing that this city, my little patch in the world that often drives me to distraction can soothe the soul. If we do move the burbs, I will miss parks like this, strolls to dinner and cranky days that are made better by this place.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Home sweet what?

Life is pretty sweet at the moment. I have a great husband, who loves me and the kids and whom I adore. I have two wonderful daughters who really are the best. I have a son growing healthily inside me. I'm doing some freelance work which I'm really enjoying and finding rewarding. I have a bunch of really good friends. You know I really don't have anything to bitch about.

The only thing weighing me down is this bloody house. And even that swings. We put our beloved home on the market almost two months ago. We were full of confidence. Our agent was full of confidence. And then.... nothing. From the time we planned on selling until the time the sign went up the market quiet.

I haven't been overwhelmed with disappointment as I thought I might. We didn't have to sell. It is a mixture of feelings though. Why doesn't someone want our house? Our agent assures us it's not the house. Our friends and neighbours keep saying 'I can't believe you can't sell.' Then there's the two months of open houses, with two young kids. I'll say no more on that subject.

The whole thing is frustrating as I just want to know what we're going to do. Where we're going to live.
I mean it's not the end of the world. We still own a nice house in great part of Sydney, so it's not like we're in a bad situation. In reality, we'd love to stay where we are, but a family of five in a two bedroom semi? It's just not going to work, well not for long anyway.

So, what to do now? These are the decisions we're going to have to make in the coming weeks. As babies are born and kids go off to school. The old 'burbs versus inner-suburban life rears it's head again. All the decisions you thought you'd made go out the window. I think my main problem is the pregnancy nesting feelings start bubbling to the surface. Just wanting to be settled when the new bub is born, which doesn't make for great decision making. Biology is strong, no matter how you try and rationalise it.

At least there is blogging to let me vent and keep me sane.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Day trippin'

Poor little Goosey doesn't get a huge amount of one-on-one time doing fun stuff. Lil-lil got 20 months of dedicated time from mum and dad. Poor Goosey just gets visits to Coles or hanging out the washing while her sister's at preschool. Fun stuff. Skip and I recently worked out that Goose has only had her mum and dad together all to herself just the once, for a lovely picnic while her big sis went to the movies with her godmother.

On Wednesdays, my mum used to take Goose to a playgroup kindy thing, which she absolutely adored. Unfortunately it just closed down, so we're at a loose end on a Wednesday morning now. Today I decided that she deserved some fun time with mum, so we forgot about washing and cleaning and chores and headed for the train station. Filled with excitement we headed into town and watched the streets as we went in, pointing out other trains and billboards and buildings. We got off at Town Hall and Goose decided she was starving, we headed to Westfield and when she saw a pile of macarons decided that's what she must have. Pink, of course.

We then went up Sydney Tower. Thankfully I had an annual pass for the aquarium as it's costs $25 just to go up! What a rip-off, I'm sure it was just a buck or two when I was a kid. Up the top, the sun shone done across the city. Goose was bored of the view in about 1.5 minutes and was more amused by the koalas in the gift shop (thank god we didn't pay to go up). 

Unimpressed with Sydney Tower. 'There's no princess!'

She then decided she was starving again, so we stopped for lunch at the Westfield food court, which is more gourmet than your average suburban food court. We toyed with the idea of having a Charlie & Co burger, we watched them make dumplings at Din Tai Fung and we drooled over enchiladas at Guzman Y Gomez. Goose decided that we must have pies (healthy, I know). I had lasagna pie (imagine a slice of lasagna encased in pastry) which was amazing. We wandered around the shiny, black shopping shrine and then headed to the station. On the train home we discussed all the things important to an almost three year old. "Why was the person sleeping at the train station?" "Why does this train go fast and then go slow again?" "Why is that man reading a book?"
Lasagna pie. As good as it sounds.

Cuddles on the train home.

Home again, tired but happy. It's so nice to just spend time doing something fun, I really have to make the time to do it more often.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A bumpy ride

Third time lucky, third time's a charm. Doesn't seem to be the case with this pregnancy. I'm finding this pregnancy to be quite hard. Ever since the very beginning it's been, well, a bit of a chore.

This has come as a big surprise as I'm usually the person who revels in being pregnant. With the two girls, I really adored being pregnant and being big and all that came with it. I not only breezed through it, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. Once the baby arrived, I almost mourned not being pregnant.

This time I've been sick, I've been sore, I've been exhausted. It's like the body is getting old. If truth be told, the body is getting old and I guess being pregnant twice before has taken its toll.

I'm only just over the halfway mark and I'm dragging myself around like a wounded whale. I haven't even got close to the pointy end of the pregnancy yet. I'm afraid of the next 16 or so weeks!

At the park over the weekend, a friend who had her fourth bub just a few weeks ago said to me: "I wouldn't be you for all the money in the world. Being up all night is better than dragging a pregnant body around." I kind of get what she means.

I find if I have a late night, the next morning I feel like I've been out drinking vodka all night. And just the average day brings joints that are achy, flaring heartburn and generally feeling like I'm 100 years old.

I'm missing waltzing around feeling fabulously pregnant. I think being pregnant is a young woman's game. Or maybe it's just nature's way of saying "Enough babies for you!"

Did you love being pregnant or was the experience a hard one?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Alice in Wonderland Winner

Morning all, I hope you had a lovely weekend!

The winner of the Alice in Wonderland DVD/Blu-ray pack was Good Mum Hunting.

Congratulations! Send me your address and I'll get Disney to post out your prize.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Pregnancy and stranger danger

Being pregnant is weird. Besides the fact that it feels like you have an alien inside you, ready to burst out any minute, the whole experience is just plain weird.

I'd forgotten how much you become public property when you're pregnant. Not the touching the belly thing, as that's rarely happened to me, but the way that people think they can suddenly talk about you in ways that aren't normally appropriate. I'm not talking about close friends and family, but strangers who don't even know your name. You have the most unimaginable conversations with people who previously would just walk by with a nod or a smile.

Things that are normally not discussed suddenly become general banter or chit chat. I remember being about to pop with Lil-lil when a stranger came up to Skip and I at funeral and started talking about his wife's labour and her cervix dilating. I remember thinking: "Is his wife OK with him talking about her cervix with strangers? Do I even want to hear this?"

At the same funeral people (again, strangers) came up and mentioned how they'd noticed my swollen ankles from the back of the chapel. Ace, thanks for telling me, I noticed your swollen head from the front.

There's also the fact that people feel they can say things like: "Oh my god! You're huge!" or "Look how enormous you are!" Believe me, there is never a time that either of these sentences are appropriate when you're talking to woman. Yes, it's true she may be the size of a house but she doesn't need you to tell her, especially with the added emphasis of the blasphemy. Seriously, not needed.

When I was pregnant with Lil-lil, I was introduced to a woman who told me her name and then went straight on to ask me what I was rubbing on my belly to prevent stretch marks. No, 'How are you?' or even 'When are you due?', just straight into the stretch marks. We didn't become lifelong friends.

When I was pregnant with Goosey, I was at a wedding when a well-known Twitterer (who I'd never met before) came up to me and said: "Every man here thinks you're the sexiest. Men just love pregnant women, they just can't help it." Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay, thanks. Bring on the awkward pause before I wandered off looking for a sane person.

With my first pregnancy, I never managed to stop being astounded by the number of people who would tell me how hard having a baby was. How I could never imagine how consuming having a newborn was and how my life was going to change forever. This happened while waiting for a takeaway coffee or in a lift. Thanks for the tips.

What was the most outrageous thing someone said to you when pregnant?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Missing mad

Boardwalk Empire

Mad Men

I watch telly most nights, but I don't really watch anything, if you know what I mean. Last night, we watched the last episode of Boardwalk Empire, which is the only show I've been watching religiously. Usually I just catch a glimpse of whatever is on in between reading or falling asleep on the couch.

As the credits to Boardwalk Empire began to roll I realised that I missed having a show to hang out for each week. Last year, it was Mad Men. I'm completely and utterly in love with that show, now it seems it won't be on in Australia until next year.

I need to a good drama to watch every week. I'm not one for getting a whole series on DVD or downloading it and watching it in one go. I like doing it the old fashioned way – getting to the end of an episode, seeing the ad for next time and looking forward to it all week.

I can't stand shows like Masterchef (I know, I know I'm probably alone here) or any of the talent shows. I just like watching a good drama I can get swept up in.

What do you like watching?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

How to survive a road trip plus win a DVD

Skip and I have always loved a road trip, be it a Sunday drive or a year-long circumnavigation of Australia.  When both girls were little a five minute trip to the shops with them in the car was a nightmare. Lil-lil especially was not a fan. So we basically stayed close to home for quite a while.

Even now the thought of a long drive brings terror to my heart. The thing is, though, the girls tend to surprise me with how well they cope. This was proven again on the long weekend with our trip to the zoo. There was very little crying and whinging and they really did very well.

My techniques for surviving a long drive is this. Prepare a bag full of activities - toys, pads and crayons, books, snacks. First step is to see how long you can go without needing to open the bag. The girls usually surprise me and last a fair distance before they get antsy. I also had some CDs to help entertain them, The Mary Poppins soundtrack was a BIG winner. They wanted to listen to it until Skip went mad. They actually sat quietly and listened for quite a while.

The second stage is frequent stopping. The weekend was a six-hour drive so we stopped every two hours. On the way up we had pretty long stops, we ate and went to a park to get rid of some excess energy. The last two hour stretch is usually the hardest. This is when every activity has been exhausted and they really sick of the car. This is when my secret weapon comes out – something I haven't even mentioned to them – my laptop and a new DVD.

A few weeks ago, Disney sent me a copy of Alice in Wonderland, I had secretly kept it for this occasion. It's a special release for 60th anniversary of the movie and had a Blu-ray and DVD copy inside [according to the cover the Blu-ray is for the lounge room while the DVD is for the car or family room], we have neither a family room, a car DVD player nor a Blu-ray, so we watched the DVD on my laptop.

The Lewis Carroll tale and Disney are a match made in heaven. The girls were captivated by the whimsical story and the wonderful animation. It also didn't take long before they were singing 'How do you do and shake hands' and 'Happy Un-birthday to you'. Sixty years on the movie is just as magical today or at least my girls think so.

Alice in Wonderland kept the girls entranced until we pulled into the caravan park in Dubbo, which meant everyone's sanity was saved.

I have a Alice in Wonderland package to giveaway (which includes both Blu-ray and DVD), to win tell me in 25 words or less your secret to surviving a road trip. Entries close midnight Saturday 18 June, 2011.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of the DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment via Digital Parents. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A long bloody way to go to visit the zoo

The past weekend, in my part of the world, was a long weekend to celebrate the Queen's birthday. Apparently it wasn't even her birthday, but hey? Who am I to question a public holiday?

We decided to take the opportunity (and make the most of our Zoo Friends membership) to head to the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo. We packed our car full of our winter woolies and headed west on Saturday morning.

We hit Katoomba by 9am and decided it was time for coffee and hot chocolate. Completely necessary as the Blue Mountains was bloody cold. Warmed by our drinks, nourished by croissants and the legs stretched with a quick amble of the main street we headed on our way.

"It's a long bloody drive to go and see a zoo," I started to think.

We arrived in Orange in time for lunch, via a quick lap of the circuit at Mount Panorama in Bathurst. We'd left the grey, drizzly skies behind for sparkling sunshine. We even managed to eat lunch outside soaking in the sun at Wine Bank Union. I've always wanted to go to Orange and this quick visit has certainly whetted my appetite. After a quick play at the park and some scooting on the scooters, we jumped back in the car for the last leg to Dubbo.

"It's a long bloody drive to go and see a zoo," Skip muttered as we took off.

"Where's the holiday house?,"cried the kids from the back seat.

We finally pulled into the caravan park in Dubbo just before 4pm. We arrived at our cabin and what looked like a prison cell. Grey lino floors, grey vinyl chairs, grey walls, ceilings. Grey. Oh well.

"It was a long drive to see the zoo," said Lil-lil.

Tired and grumpy we ate and fell into bed. Only to be woken in the middle of the night completely freezing. It seems our cell wasn't built for the cold, though I have my doubts it was built for the heat either.

The next morning we jumped up, got dressed, packed our picnic and headed for the zoo. We saw rhinos and giraffes and hippos and zebras. "Look! A black rhino," I cried. Goosey was searching the ground intently for rocks and Lil-lil happily drawing on the ground with a stick. "Look! A tiger," I cried. Goosey poked some bird poo with her finger and Lil-lil whined that she was hungry.

"We've come all this way to look at the animals, look at some animals will you!"

We drove past bison and appax and spotted deer. Then tortoises and llamas. Then kangaroos and wallabies (plenty of which we'd seen squashed on the side of the road on the way there).

We then drove past a playground. "A playground!" the girls cried. "Puhlease, can we go and play?"

"It's a long bloody way to come to watch them play at a playground," Skip and I sighed.

We went back to our cell and fell into bed. Awoke early the next morning to get on the road and beat the traffic home. We drove on some dodgy, bumpy roads so we could stop in Mudgee to have breakfast at one of our favourite cafes. It had closed down. So, we stopped at the girls' favourite place for hotcakes – McDonalds.

As we drove back over the mountains Goosey snored away and I asked Lil-lil what her favourite animal at the zoo was. "The pink hippo," she answered. "Pink hippo? I didn't see a pink hippo," I responded.
"I saw it at the gift shop at the end. I really want it for my birthday," she replied.

Sigh. It was a long bloody way to go for a visit to the zoo.

Despite it all, it was a great adventure.

*All photos were taken by Lil-lil in the back of the car on my iPhone.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Looking for my husband

Marriage, relationships, families – funny, strange things. You meet someone, fall in love, get to know each other and build a relationship. You get married and the world is just the two of you. Your life revolves around each other. Then you decide to have a family. A spanner is thrown into the relationship works.

When Lil-lil was born, I remember feeling very lonely. I missed Skip terribly, even though we were in the same house. The closeness and the quantity and quality of time we spent together was sapped away by this little being. So much time was spent trying to settle her. We barely even had a moment to have a meal or just sit and watch TV together. Things plod along, kids take up so much time and quality time is replaced with nods and a quick hug as you pass in the hallway. You think: "Once we get through this, we'll spend lots of time together. Once we get through these early days, we'll be romantic again."

Unfortunately, when life gets busy with a new family, often quality time and attention for your partner gets put to the bottom of the list. You've got such a solid relationship that you often take your partner for granted. Sleep and child rearing takes precedence over everything else. This is hard for new mums, I think sometimes it's even harder for new dads. I often feel that people who have kids to save their relationship are mad, the pressure is far too great. I think even the most solid relationships get rocked by the arrival of new baby.

Before you know it another bub has arrived, there's even less time and even more pressure. Then there's the juggle of making sure you spend time together as family, one-on-one time with each kid, spend time with friends and somewhere fit time in as a couple. Trying to be parent and friend as well as a spouse can take up a lot of time. It's so important though, that relationship with your partner is the bedrock of the whole catastrophe. Sometimes it's necessary to push the tiredness to side, the daily aggravations to the back and just be together and laugh. Not let that person become a stranger. Remember why you did all this crazy family stuff in the first place. The reasons often get lost in the chaos of the grind.

Tonight, Skip and I are going out for a fancy meal. I can't wait. It's so nice to spend time together and chat. Not get interrupted by "muuuuuuuuum" or "daaaaaaaaad". Bring a touch of the 'before' back. Laugh, reflect and just enjoy being together. Fall in love all over again. Discover you actually love them even more than you did before. Bliss.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

It's a jolly holiday with Mary

Mary, Bert, the kids and Lil-lil's favourite talking statues.
Last night was one of those pinch-yourself-I-can't-believe-I'm-doing-this-because-of-blogging moments. Lil-lil and I braved a chilly Sydney night to turn up at The Captiol Theatre and see Mary Poppins.

The story actually begun weeks ago... Lil-lil had seen the original Julie Andrews movie and fallen in love. She was mesmerised by the songs and the dancing. She began to see billboards advertising the upcoming musical stage version and yelled out each and every time and I thought: "Hmmm maybe..." then I discovered that the tickets were $100+. As much as I thought she would like it, it was just a little too much moola to risk her getting bored after 15 minutes. So I forgot all about it.

Then one Friday afternoon, I received a lovely email from Disney inviting me and a guest to an evening performance and post-show drinks with the cast! Excellent! Though an 8pm showing on a Wednesday night was going to be a stretch for my 4-year-old. I ummed and ahhed about it. I remembered seeing The Sound of Music when I was slightly older than Lil-lil and it's a fond memory. Skip said: "Just take her, she'll love it."

So with an afternoon rest under our belts, we said goodbye to Goosey and Skip, rugged up and hit the town. From the minute we walked into the theatre foyer and saw the roof lined with hundreds of umbrellas, Lil-lil was amazed. We took our seats and she wriggled in anticipation. My little gal oohed at the orchestra warming up. She marvelled at the overhead lights twinkling like stars. Finally the curtain rose and we were drawn into Mary's London. Lil-lil gasped in amazement more times than I could count. She squealed with delight when her favourite songs came on. She laughed and giggled and tapped her toe.

She was blown away when the grey London park was transformed into a colourful wonderland by Mary. The talking, dancing statues were her absolute favourite part. By the time Supercalifragilisticexpialidociousl came on near the end of the first half, her eyelids began to droop. Not because she was bored, just because she was dog-tired. As the curtain closed for intermission she was snoring. It was time to go home. No hob-knobbing with the cast for us.

I was sad not to see the second half, but we had more than a spoonful of magic. As we drove home my sleepy girl recounted all her favourite parts, the dancing statues mentioned more than once. "Mum, maybe we can see it again in the daytime, nightimes make me sad and cranky,"she wisely said. I know it's something she's going to remember fondly for a long time to come.

Mary Poppins really is a magical show, the sets, costumes and the singing are fabulous. Yes, the tickets are on the pricey side and there are no child discounts, but it is the opportunity to see a world-class show. Apparently, there are some seats available for $45 and also discounted family of four tickets. If you have young children, I would highly recommend seeing a matinee, as the show does go for over two hours.  Despite all this, Mary Poppins is really worth it and your kids will be entranced. We will be humming the tunes for days to come.

Mary Poppins is on at The Capitol Theatre in Sydney for the next few months. Tickets are available form the box office and Ticketmaster.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Busy busy busy

Apologies for the interruption to normal programming but today has slipped away from. After spending most of it making numerous cups of tea to keep warm, the day is suddenly over and I haven't blogged.
Sick children, washing, writing, tidying, cooking have all got in my way.

I'll be back tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The winter of my discontent

I'm not a winter person. Dragging myself from under the doona on a cold morning. Not my thing. Getting up to my children on a cold winter's night. Not my thing. The sun setting by 5pm. Not my thing. Dry, flaky skin. Not my thing. Cold fingers and toes. Not my thing. Winter. Not my thing.

During the summer months, I fool myself into believing I'm a winter person. I dream of casseroles and nights tucked up on the lounge next to the heater. I dream about boots, coats and layers. I dream about frosty mornings and bowls of hot porridge and brown sugar. The thing is the moment the mercury dips below 20 (68 F, for my American friends), I'm not happy. I start to remember that I hate putting on layers and layers of clothes. I remember that I hate wearing boots. I remember that I hate the way my nose runs when a cold wind whips up. I remember that I like being warm.

In fact, I love balmy evenings and frosty drinks. I love a warm summer breeze. I love throwing on a sun dress and a pair of sandals and running out the door. I love cooling off under a sprinkler. I love late summer nights where the sun stays up until 8pm. I even like humidity.

So, while my toes are thawing next to the heater, I'm dreaming of crisp salads and plates of cold seafood. Frosty glasses of semillon. Long, lazy days. Early mornings at the beach before the heat of the midday sun. Washing drying before 10am. Sweet smelling flowers.

I guess I'm lucky I live somewhere where the winters are short and the summers warm and long. Where the colder months are mild, just a few weeks where there's a blip on the forecast. Where even on a cold winter's day the sun shines and the sky is blue.

Bring on summer, I say!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Food for the soul

Image by Tamara Barns.

Saturday afternoon, we stepped through the gates of a local football oval and felt like we'd stepped back in time. People were rugged up in royal blue, sitting on the hill, sipping from cans of KB. Kids were running around having the time of their life, chasing the blue clad man on the bike. The Newton Jets hit the field up against a tough opponent. "The $10 million team versus the 10 bob team," the old school announcer said.

A group of old mates sat on the damp ground of the hill scoffing sausage rolls and friands. And laughing. And laughing. Kicking a ball at half time. Cheering as the final hooter rang out and the local team, the underdogs, clinched the game.

We moved on to the pub and there was more laughter.

We moved on to the restaurant and there was even more laughter. The kind of laughter where your stomach hurts, your cheeks are tear-stained and you throw your hands up in surrender saying "No more!". The laughter kept on until the busy restaurant had cleared and the staff sat at another table watching us.

The type of laughter that you only have when a bunch of old friends get together. The type of laughter that feeds your soul.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Grateful for... unexpected open houses

Yesterday morning I looked around the bombsite that was my house and thought: "Meh, I'll tidy up later. There's no open house this weekend, so we'll fit it in some time."

About an hour later, I was at Lil-lil's ballet lesson, chatting away to my friend when the phone rang. It was the real estate agent. He had someone who wanted to see the house. That afternoon. Eeek!

I dashed home and did my best impression of Paula Duncan in the Spray'n'Wipe ad and the house was spick and span in no time. Well not no time, but in time for the agent at least.

This morning, I woke to a tidy (ish) home. So despite cursing the agent while I was cleaning, it's nice to start out the weekend with a clean home. Now I can focus on other things like going to see the Newtown Jets play, maybe squeeze in a shopping trip (my normal clothes are starting to get a little stretched) and just hang out. Oh, there will be laughter, lots of laughter.

What are you up to this weekend?

Join in with Maxabella Loves... Grateful Saturday.

Friday, 3 June 2011


Over the past week, something has washed over me. A sense of peace. A feeling of calm. Contentment.

Which is odd, because in a lot of ways I should be stressed. The kids have been sick; washing has been piling up like Mount Everest; we have no idea where, when or even if we're moving; in a few short months we'll have a newborn that'll need round-the-clock attention. These are all things that would normally have me a quivering, stressed-out mess, yet I'm not.

I think I've realised that, come what may, this is my life. I have a husband who I love to the stars and back, someone who I can laugh until I cry with, vent to, cuddle with. I have two (generally) healthy girls who make my heart burst with pride. I'm doing some things for me which make me worthwhile and fulfilled. I have good friends and family who make me smile. All the rest is just stuff. Stuff that will come and go, or in the case of the washing will always be there.

Most of all, I'm happy in my skin. Just to be me. Not looking over my shoulder or ahead at what others are doing.

This lot in life is pretty damn good. Contentment.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

We don't know how good we've got it

Every time you open a paper, turn on the news or talk to someone on the street, it seems to me to be a whole lot of doom and gloom. People whinging about the state of the country, how bad they feel things are and how worried they are for the future. But really, are things that bad? Australia has one of the most prosperous economies in the world, unemployment is low, interest rates are low. War, famine and suppression of free thought and speech are things that are foreign to our shores. What are we complaining about?

My brother, who has lived in Vietnam for the past 10 years, has often commented that when he comes home all he hears is whinging about how bad we've got it, the fear-mongering and the worry. This week he posted this article from The Economist on his Facebook page, it's an interesting read and made me think: 'Yes, we do have it good. This is the time to be brave and forward thinking. Let's not lose this opportunity to fear.'

Go and read the whole article, or read this excerpt below.

"Many Australians do not seem to appreciate that they live in an unusually successful country. Accustomed to unbroken economic expansion—many are too young to remember recession—they are inclined to complain about house prices, 5% unemployment or the problems that a high exchange rate causes manufacturing and several other industries. Some Australians talk big but actually think small, and politicians may be the worst offenders. They are often reluctant to get out in front in policymaking—on climate change, for instance—preferring to follow what bigger countries do. In the quest for a carbon policy, both the main parties have chopped and changed their minds, and their leaders, leaving voters divided and bemused. There can be little doubt that if America could come to a decision on the topic, Australia would soon follow suit.
Its current political leaders, with notable exceptions, are perhaps the least impressive feature of today’s Australia. Just when their country has the chance to become influential in the world, they appear introverted and unable to see the big picture. Little legislation of consequence has been passed since 2003. A labour-market reform introduced by the Liberals was partly repealed by Labor. A proposed tax on the mining companies was badly mishandled (also by Labor), leading to a much feebler one. All attempts at a climate-change bill have failed. The prime minister, Labor’s Julia Gillard, admits she is unmoved by foreign policy. The leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, takes his cue from America’s tea-party movement, by fighting a carbon tax with a “people’s revolt” in which little is heard apart from personal insults. Instead of pointing to the great benefits of immigration—population growth is responsible for about two-fifths of the increase in real GDP in the past 40 years—the two parties pander shamelessly to xenophobic fears about asylum-seekers washing up in boats.
…or a golden future?
None of this will get Australians to take pride in their achievements and build on them. Better themes for politicians would be their plans to develop first-class universities, nourish the arts, promote urban design and stimulate new industries in anything from alternative energy to desalinating water. All these are under way, but few are surging ahead. Though the country’s best-known building is an opera house, for example, the arts have yet to receive as much official patronage as they deserve. However, the most useful policy to pursue would be education, especially tertiary education. Australia’s universities, like its wine, are decent and dependable, but seldom excellent. Yet educated workers are essential for an economy competitive in services as well as minerals. First, however, Aussies need a bit more self-belief. After that perhaps will come the zest and confidence of an Antipodean California."
I don't agree with everything in this article, but I think there is some truth to it. We need to step up and look at the big picture more, take the lead rather than follow. Realise that we could be a world leader.
What do you think? Is it time for us to realise what we've got, grow some self-belief, be brave and step out of the shadows? Or do we need to conserve and worry about the future?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Monday morning glory

Our baby's best foot forward

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is what happens to you,
While you're busy making other plans.

Monday was a big day for our family. It was Skip's birthday. It was the first day of a really big project that Skip is involved in. It was also the day of our 20 week scan.

The clan was up early, as we always are, dressed, breakfasted, lunches made, preschool bag packed and out the door before 7am. We arrived the ultrasound place right on time and still dry despite the rain that was absolutely bucketing down.

The girls ran amok in the waiting room until my name was finally called. Before long, the little bub appeared on the screen. Skip and I ooohed and ahhhed. The girls were suitably unimpressed. Goosey was rather taken with the stacks of paper towel rolls in the corner. The scanner took a lot of time getting measurements. Then I was told I had to go and empty my bladder. More poking and proding. Then I was told I had to wriggle around a little. More poking and prodding. Then I had to get up and walk around the room a little.

By this stage, Lil-lil was in tears and whining. I thought she was over the whole thing, it had been almost an hour by that stage. Goosey was practically hanging off the scanning equipment. The scanner then said: "All looks OK, but I'm going to have to get you to come back a little later to do some final measurements."

We sighed and dragged the kids out the door. Lil-lil in full tears by this stage and Goosey wondering where we were going now. Skip bolted off to work. I was wondering what to do next, the kids were buckled in the car when Lil-lil announced that she was going to throw up and promptly fell asleep. I took my sick little one home and called my mum to come watch them.

Lil-lil slept and slept and yakked and slept. She was fine when she woke up that morning and now seemed awfully ill. I felt guilty for being cranky with her at the ultrasound scan.

Mum finally arrived through the pelting rain and I head off to the ultrasound place again. This time the bub behaved perfectly and let the radiologist get all her measurements. I left with a spring in my step knowing bub was growing and healthy. We were even able to find what if our little bub was pink or blue. I left a little clue with some of my favourite John Lennon lyrics above.

Without further ado, our little number 3 is a.....


As I tucked the girls into bed that night, Goosey said to me: "Mum you were really brave at the doctors. It's not a boy, you know, it's a girl."

For those wondering, the above lyrics come from Beautiful Boy
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