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Ms Nosybella: Do you really...?

Lovely ladies and gents (LOML, Dad, Glen... you know who you are, fellas*)

I'll cut to the chase this week. I just want to know your answers to two personal hygiene questions and then I'll be on my way. Don't fret, not tooooo personal.

1. Do you really put sunscreen on yourself / your children every single day?

Because I don't. I kid myself that I have issues with the chemical content on young skin (and possibly I do) but the real reason is that I hate the greasy, sticky, smelly feeling it gives you all day. It's like walking around with a latex glove plastered to your face.

Plus I'm desperately lazy.

I just tell the tsunamis to stay out of the sun as much as possible, to cover up and to wear their hats. I do the same for me.  I confess I may have smirked just a little bit when I read about Aussie kids with Vitamin D deficiency. There'll be none of that around here, thank you very much.**

2. Do you really moisturise top to toe every day?

Because I don't. See 'desperately lazy' above. I do my face, neck and d├ęcolletage (see, gone all fancy pants on you there...) every night, but I just couldn't be arsed (don't worry, it didn't last) to do the full body thing. Every week or so I feel guilty and slather myself in the stuff for days in a row and then I slacken off again. Skin seems okay.

So, I guess I really want to know if you take better care of yourself than I do of me...

'Til next time

* If there are any other fellas that read my blog, please let me know.
** DO NOT under any circumstances remind me of this post when I write about my melanomas.

[Image: ouch, I've forgotten where I collected this one from. Badness]


Lost in imagination

I'm endlessly fascinated by children's ability to create worlds full of amazing nooks and crannies. Mine can be lost for days roaming with dinosaurs or taking high-tea at parties or trekking in jungles or visiting with fairies or saving endangered species... on and on and on goes their childhood voyage.

I've written before about how important I think creativity is in life, so we do everything we can to nurture childhood imagination. Hoping against hope that we find a way to solidify these magical worlds so that they may remain with the tsunamis for life. Their rooms are havens for creating and all inventions are proudly displayed. Paints and pencils and glitter are always within easy reach (my carpets do not agree with this tactic). Within reason, the tsunamis are free to wander and explore their hearts' desire. We talk about night dreams and day dreams and in-between dreams. We break up our routine and let our hair fly in the wind as often as we can.

Will this be enough? Will the expectations of schooling and society mean the tsunamis' unique take on the world will be stifled and lost? What more can we do to help them stay in the vast, endless worlds they create for themselves?

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for helping children hang onto their wondrous creativity? How do you nurture creativity in your own children, or even in yourself?



Clutter bygod begone

I don't like clutter. Ignore the fact that I seem to have developed a rampant bird ornament collection. I don't like clutter.

Contrary to appearances (frizzy, bit rough around the edges), I'm a very organised individual (super smooth, no edges). Having too much mess around me just makes me feel a bit psycho. Order = peace. Order = easy. Order = good.

That said, I can't stand a 'minimalist' approach to life either. I like lived in, I like things around me that make me feel happy. I'm a little bit messy and a tad suspicious of those that aren't.  And I'm nowhere near as neat as I'd like to be.

But in Maxabellaland everything has a container to return home to at night. I can't wax lyrical enough about good storage space and good storage containers. Not that you need to fill every available storage surface. My favourite place in my house is an empty drawer. A drawer. Empty. Makes me feel at peace with the world every time I look at it.*

You see, I try very hard not to buy clutter in the first place, but it's difficult to keep it totally at bay and allow the tsunamis to have a life at the same time. You know what I'm talking about: the stuff. So many artworks you could paper your house both inside and out. Lots and lots and lots of little bits that are supposed to go with other little bits but have been orphaned. A zoo of stuffed animals that you're pretty sure are breeding like they're all rabbits. You just know you will be picking up that same stuffed pink fluffy bear and green giraffe with the smug smile on its face** when you're child is doing their final exams.

Every now and then*** I have a total clear-out. I get rid of all the bits and the pieces and the stuff and the nonsense. I put it either back in its rightful place or in the bin if its past its useful date or in the bag for children who will love it more than you do by packing it away after they've played with it instead of leaving it in the middle of the hallway for your mother to trip over when she comes in the door with five bags of groceries in each hand.

 I love my clear outs. That wonderful sensation you get when everything is in its spot, where everything just works. Lasts about five minutes at my place (and god knows I've never successfully found a solution to the 'third drawer down' problem or the 'random basket of stuff on the bench' problem) but I live (and plan!) in hope.

* I know this makes me borderline weird, but you have no idea how relaxing an empty drawer can be.
** I hate that giraffe.
*** Ok, practically weekly but I'm not, like, obsessive or anything.

[Image from Run with Scissors - a really fab blog of a gal who judging by this pic is presumably living the life I so desire.]


The September Chronicles: What's on your fridge?

I started the Fridge Chronicles waaaaay back in July (is it just me or are months getting longer?). I have actually been amazed at how much my fridge changes month on month. I'm a regular de-clutterer (a post on this tomorrow) and conversely also a bit of a gatherer... so I guess this adds up to a surprisingly active fridge.

Two things of note here:

1. Love The Kids Are Alright about 3 weeks ago so why the postcard is still on the fridge is a bit of a mystery. Could it be because I have a bit of a girl crush on both Julianne Moore and Annette Benning?

2. Behind the postie is an invite for Cappers to a party. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!* She has another friend! Of sorts. I quote: "I suppose I could play with her since she's invited me to her party and everything." You can kind of see why invites have been thin on the ground for my friendly, charming and welcoming daughter (!).

Speaking of events... check out LOML in the back row 3rd from the left.  Year 10, before significant weight loss of 1989. There was definitely more of my Italian to love back in those days. We unearthed this gem last week, buried in the historical artefacts of his  father's garage.

The Cappers starts school next year and orientation starts in mid-October.  I can't believe my baby girl starts Big School. Sob! Of course, she is absolutely raring to go. It's a totally different vibe to what we faced with Maxi-Taxi shuddering every time school was mentioned. They are very different little people indeed.

I did the Triple P (not 4P as false advertised in the August Chronicles) and I've got the certificate to prove it... Weird, huh? What on earth am I supposed to do with such a thing? Put it in my CV in case I'm ever looking for another gig as a parent?

To the right, a letter to Maxi-Taxi from his Gran. Received a month ago, as yet unanswered. Getting Maxi-Taxi to do writing outside of the classroom is nigh on impossible. We live in hope.

To the left, another Cappers party invite! Yes, two in one month. The second invitation is from our lovely neighbours up the road who we rarely see but like a lot. They have a daughter starting school with Cappers next year and their clever mumma has obviously decided that it's time the girls got together a bit more. It's addressed to "Abbie" (not my daughter's name, but hey, we'll take it!). We really like the family, but Cappers has been a reluctant participant in any family gatherings. The reason?

"Emma's bossy, I don't like her," she announced after one playdate. 

"Maybe you should let her know that you wish you could sometimes be the one to decide what to do," I suggested helpfully (secretly thinking, well if Cappers think she's bossy Emma must be like the Rupert Murdoch of the playground set).

She thought about this for a while and then said, "Nah, she's not worth it". 

Like I said, friendly, charming and welcoming. That's my girl.

* With sincere apologies to Mr Caroll's Jabberwocky.

Come join in the Fridge Chronicles. It's a great monthly record of the little bits and pieces that are happening over at your place. The linky stays open until 21October, so link up any time.


♥ Loving paper cranes


I've long admired the art of origami and I guess the purest form of that to me is the paper crane. A sweet little package of perfection and hope.


[Image via weheartit]

Sandy and the 1000 paper cranes is a sweet little blog and adventure. Sandy plans to make 1000 paper cranes and leave them wherever she goes for others to delight in. The cranes each carry an inspirational word to give a delightful pause in the finder's day. My favourite word so far (she is up to 160 cranes as I write) is 'Giddy'. But I also like Radiant, Quaint, Thankful and good old Joy, Happy and Thankful.

What's your favourite word of inspiration?

PS - The September Fridge Chronicles linky starts tomorrow! Go on, you know you're dying to join in the fun. Post your noticeboard if your fridge isn't magnetised... anything that chronicles your daily life...

PPS - The post is part of Anna's ♥ Much Love ♥ Mondays. Click over to Anna's to post your own loves.


This Saturday I'm grateful for... MILs

Here in Maxabellaland, Saturday is traditionally a sport, shop, sort the clothes, sweep the floors, strangle the Tsunamis (insert other 's' words here - no pun intended) kinda day. But it's nice to pause to appreciate the things in your life that are positive and affirming, whatever they may be. I thought it might be nice for us all to do a Saturday Grateful post and link up for lovely bloggy visits.

This Saturday I'm grateful for...

1. Maria's cannelloni. One of the great benefits of being married to an Italian is his mama's home cooking. LOML's mama makes the best ricotta and spinach canelloni and guess who's going there for dinner tonight?

2. My drip irrigation system. I am watering the garden right now. Look at me watering.

3. Tuckshops. There is a place on earth where you can still buy something for 20c.

What's making you smile today? Sign up to the linky and enjoy visiting other grateful bloggers today.

[Image via weheartit, is, of course, scrummy, loveable gelato which sums up my Italian MIL to a t.]


Things I learned this week including that I do go on and on and on

Happy Friyay to you you! Last day of Term 3 for all the NSW public school kiddlets, so two weeks of freeeeedom awaits them. During the second week of hols (4 - 10 October), we're off on a family holiday to the beach. I've got a delicious holiday planned for Maxabella loves... too. A week of outstanding writers blogging about "What my children have taught me about myself", all culminating in a fab giveaway on Friday... so stay tuned, I'll remind you throughout next week!!

I've learned a lot this week... but check out number one before you settle in.

1. So hard to find the time to read my massively long posts when there are so many other blogs to visit in the frenzy that is Friday. So in future I'm going to try not to learn so much.

2. Amazingly, it is possible to be funny and stylish at the same time. Who knew? Check out Woogy's abode featured by Louise at Table Tonic. Love your style, Woogy. Love Louise's blog too!

3. And then there were four reminded me that it makes no difference what your carb / protein / fat ratio is, just so long as you keep that kilojoules input less than your output, you'll lose weight. I think the reason people think high-protein diets work is that you're just cutting out an entire food group so you're actually eating less.

4. A good way to help children deal with teasing is to let them know that they can't choose what other people are going to say about them, but they can choose how they are going to let others' make them feel. I actually think this is the sentiment behind the schoolyard chant "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me". I'm not going to let your silly words hurt me, say them all you like.

5. Whether you work outside the home full-time, part-time or no-time, it's important to remember that this is your life and no-one can tell you how to live it best for you. So if you're stressed out and not coping, have a big think about what you can do to make things better. Ask for help, just say no, switch things up, live on less and make your life the best fit for you and your family it can possibly be.

I hope you had a great week. Did you learn anything to share?

PS - I've started a Saturday Grateful linky, so swing by tomorrow if you'd like to join in.

PPS - Head on over to Lori's for your weekly floggers with other fabulous bloggers.



Ms Nosybella: what's your best...?

Dear Earthlings

Lovely to be back...s t r e t c h. I've been inspired by Pink Patent Mary Janes (easy to be) and I'm asking for handy household hints today. I gave her my best laundry tip yesterday (fill up the fabric softener with half vinegar and half water and add 8 drops of lavender essential oil... soft, fluffy, clothes and beautifully fragrant!).

Do you do things a bit different to the 'norm'... a couple of short cuts or earth-friendly cleaning solutions that smell nice? I get the bicarb and vinegar one-stop solution for all cleaning needs. I do. But it just doesn't smell good and I've had no joy tackling a mouldy bathroom with this solution...

So, tell me, what are your top tips for keeping things fresh around the home?

'Til next time.


Should more women be working full-time?

I've gotta stop reading the Sydney Morning Herald... or at, the very least, LOML has to stop sending me such thought-provoking articles. Monday it was the redhead thing, yesterday it was the women working part-time thing. Goodbye 'light hearted, easy on the eye' post, heeeeellllo 'WTF?' post.

The article proposes that because more Australian women work part-time, we lag behind the rest of the world in terms of equality on the domestic front. In Denmark (darn those pesky Scandanavian cousins that seem to get everything right!) the women mainly work full-time and both partners share the bulk of domestic responsibility. Here in Australia, with many of us working part-time, we're left picking up the domestic slack as well as beavering away at our working responsibilities. So, they conclude that the less a woman is at work in her job, the more likely she is to be scrubbing the floors or looking after children at home.

Cough. I'm just not sure how working full-time is going to help mothers improve this work-life balance. What did I miss?  I work part-time (4 days per week, Wednesdays at home) so I can spend more time with my children. So, if working part-time means I'm 'working harder' at that, then I'm very happy indeed. And hats off to mothers who take the 'no-time' approach and focus on their home and raising their children. I think the researchers who made some of these conclusions seem to have forgotten that 'childcare' is actually what's involved when you have children. Caring for children is kinda why we had them!! How can going out to work full-time possibly give you more of that sort of quality of life?

Contrary to popular opinion, the self-cleaning house is still a few years away. So doing the chores is part of the 'life' in work / life  balance whether we like it or not. It's the same amount of work involved whether we work full, part or no-time.  And (just quietly as I may get shot for saying this) at my place the reason the woman does the bulk of the housework is because the woman demands the bulk of the standards.

So, how can women working full-time give us more time to spend with our children and enhance our lives exactly? Comparing Australia with other countries and then assuming that work sits outside of cultural differences doesn't help anyone. Why not suggest that everyone starts working part-time instead? Because it there's one thing I agree with the research findings about, it's that both the men and women of Australia could do with a bit of a re-think on the hours they devote to their bosses!

What are your thoughts about all of this? How do you manage work and home - part-time or full-time? Or have you chosen to stop working to focus on home? Did your partner ever consider doing the same? Are you happy with your work /life balance? Will I ever stop asking questions?



The world is a dangerous place for those wearing fanta pants

An article has come out fighting in the Sydney Morning Herald claiming that teasing a redhead isn't racist or prejudice.. You'll note from a previous post I wrote about reds, that I can take the ginger nut biscuit jabs on the chin. You kind of have to. Years of experience have taught me that people generally don't have any issues with redheads... they just tease us, er, because they're jealous? Because they have unresolved childhood parental issues? Because... um.

The reason I'm writing this post isn't really to do with redheads. It's to do with teasing and bullying in general. Did being teased as a child / adolescent 'toughen me up' and 'make me a stronger person'? Probably. But it also made me feel ugly, humiliated, ashamed, outcast, bewildered and angry. You only become tougher and stronger and funnier because you end up having to fight the demons inside as well as outside. Bullying torments kids, it always has. It cuts them deep where people can't always see and sometimes where they can.

Does something have to be racist or prejudicing a minority group for it to be wrong? I think not.

To this day I still get 'good natured' teasing... How oh how can we ever teach our children that bullying is wrong if their adult role models are doing it themselves? Can a child tell the difference between calling a redhead a ranga or calling a black person a darkie? See, it's really plain how hurtful comments can be when you put them into context like that.

My hair colour doesn't define me any more than the colour of a person's skin defines them.

I wish supposedly mature adults would stop making blonde jokes, redhead jokes, fat jokes, female jokes... it's endless the way we carry on. And I wish supposedly mature adults would stop defending hurtful remarks as being 'harmless',  'a bit of fun', 'can't you take a joke?' It really. isn't. funny. I wish we could all just grow up and be the people we want our kids to be.

Maybe then our children will learn that teasing and bullying hurts people in ways they can't imagine. Oh, please, maybe then.



Hanging out with my inner teen

True confession: I adore teenage movies. It seems I just never grew out of my John Hughes phase. Forget the fact that I'm a 39 year old mother of three. Actually, I think that's the main reason I still like these films - they let me forget that I'm a 39 year old mother of three.

Yesterday I settled in for Easy A. It's one of the best teen movies I've ever seen (and we're talking over 20 years of dedicated watching here, folks). I laughed, I cried, I winced, I cowered, I guffawed. It's that good. Emma Stone is a modern day Molly Ringwald, but fortunately wittier, prettier and much less pathetic. Her parents are to-die-for (I can't say I ever even noticed Molly's parents in any of her flicks... teen flick parents are clearly aimed at, well, parents).

Of course, the real charm of teen movies these days is getting to hang out with the real-life teens who go to see them. As I sat in the cinema surrounded by over 120 teenage girls yesterday, I couldn't help but get sucked into the effervescent fizz and pop of teen-girl life. The energy level in that cinema was of football stadium standard. Everywhere I looked there was a colourful display of hand flapping, lip smacking, hip-waggling, oh-mi-godding motion.

Do mums of teen girls feel the way I felt all the time? Alive with the spirit of what if. The rush of perfect dramas, the excitement of anything can happen, the raw possibilities of living. Being with those girls made me want to tap dance on a moon lit by dazzling stars. Forget the inner child, the inner teen, like, totally rocks.

So, do go see Easy A. It's a top little film and the teenage girl inside you will thank you for it. Then again... she probably won't!


♥ Loving pom poms

I go through phases, it's true. Some stay (garlands), some go (gingham) but generally when I love something, I really, really love it.

I wonder how long my new tissue pom pom affair will last? I just can't get enough of them lately. I am making some for the Cappers' mermaid party in October and generally just looking at pictures of them because they make me feel good. Weirdness.

You can find instructions on how to make them via Martha Stewart Weddings (where else!).

This post is part of Anna's ♥ Much Love ♥ Monday. Visit her blog on Monday to find more lovable things.



This Saturday I'm grateful for... warm hugs

Here in Maxabellaland, Saturday is traditionally a sport, shop, sort the clothes, sweep the floors, strangle the Tsunamis (insert other 's' words here - no pun intended) kinda day. But on Maxabella loves... I've been making Saturday my 'grateful day'.

It's nice to pause to appreciate the things in your life that are positive and affirming, whatever they may be. I thought it might be nice for us all to do a Saturday Grateful post and link up for lovely bloggy visits.

This Saturday I'm grateful for...

1. Warm hugs. I had a bit of a rough time this week. Thank goodness for warm hugs and kind words from the lovely LOML.

2. Big tries. That extra effort that I know the tsunamis are making at something they don't really like, just to please their mumma.

3. Schools. I love the fact that while technology changes and lessons are learned differently, the contented ebb and flow of today's school is just as I remember it.

What's making you smile today? Sign up to the linky and enjoy visiting other grateful bloggers today.



Things I learned this week including that you have to follow the rules

Happy Friyay! How was your week? It's such a cliche but time and time again I find myself wondering how we got to the end so quickly. Apart from the year I spent in a one hour meeting on Monday, this week has flown.

1. So, you may recall that I didn't refrigerate my Hyacinth bulbs and back in May I smugly just stuck them in the ground anyway? Well, they came up and I was very excited (and smug) but then they didn't flower. So, I've learnt my lesson, you have to follow the rules.

2. Mel from From Little Things has come up with a way to make a mundane household chore like hanging out the clothes just a little tiny bit more inspirational. On the subject of inspirational cleaning, am I also the only one who buys top-of-the-range organically birthed cleaning products just to make myself feel better about scrubbing those floors?

3. My "reply" post this week taught me that it's very easy to appear harsher in print than if you said the same things in person. I apologise to Kahli if I upset her in any way, that was certainly not my intention. On reflection, I'm not proud of the personal tone that my argument took. I embrace all honest versions of motherhood and I never wish to be disrespectful or hurtful. I would rather hurt myself. I intend to be gentler with my criticisms in future. You have been warmed. (Sorry about the stupid pun, I can't help myself - I always make stupid jokes when I'm upset.)

4. A helmet-cam video of a transmission tower repair technician enlightened me to the fact that they free-climb a 1,768 foot tower in order to repair its light beacon (to give you an indication of how far up these guys work, the light beacon is there so airplanes won't fly into the tower...). Warning, the video is actually mind numbingly boring, in an interesting kind of way.

5. To write the number '5' correctly we say 'draw his body and his tummy and don't forget his hat'.

6. I really, really like that Dita von Teese.

7. I found a mummy crafty blog out there called Sean the Prawn. Aside from me telling you that it's a really great little blog, you have to check it out on the name alone, right? I just love it!

8. If I'm Still Here is an elaborate practical joke, I've been laughing along with it all for months. Can't wait to see it.

9. I found this article on oh dee doh Incorporating Children Into the Decor hi.larious. I pictured children hung neatly on the walls besides the Jackson Pollocks. I don't even recall thinking that an odd thing. Let's face it, these 'showroom' houses must hang their kids up on the walls in order to be so styled and clean. (For the purpose of remaining critical and scathing, we'll just ignore the fact that my home has already 'incorporated' most of these ideas, okay?)

10. The 'bag tag' I bought from Loved (Little Ted Canvas's gorgeous brand) makes a fabulous over sized pendant. I gathered compliments all day when I wore my sweet Alice in Wonderland version (it has Alice and the squirrel on the front and the white rabbit checking his fob on the back). Of course, there was one smarty pants who asked me if I was wearing a handy coaster around my neck, but there's always a comedienne, huh?

How was your week? Did you learn anything new to share?

* PS - Of course I'm flogging over at Lori's. Just a note on this, I have actually tried a few other 'Follows' and while I have met some really wonderful bloggers this way, for the most part I've found they really are just about getting 'follows' which I find a bit meaningless really. Why follow a blog just to get a follower on your own blog? Am I missing something? In contrast, Flog Your Blog Friday has really interesting, thoughtful blogs that I love visiting and being a part of their community. After months of being 'part of the gang' I really feel like we are a little club of Friday (and other day) friends. New company is always welcome and you don't have to **FOLLOW BACK!** unless you really want to. Just saying.

[Image by danger_bird]


The best bits are the little bits: part 1

When Maxi-Taxi was born he was the worst sleeping newborn in the history of the world (really, the entire history, I swear). I'd had a 40 hour labour (that's a whole working week right there!), was recovering from a couple of complications from the resulting CS and about 2 winks of sleep in as many weeks. 

Ah, welcome to motherhood, you'll like it here.

When LOML went back to work after 2 weeks, my mum stepped in to help me out.  She was the best.

One night she was sitting with him curled on her chest (you know, the standard newborn position) and sent me off to bed at 8pm. She said she would wake me when he was due a feed at eleven. Well, at 4am she came and woke me from the longest, most replenishing sleep I'd had in weeks. Mum had sat there with that child in her arms for 8 hours through the dead of night. Patting him back to sleep when he woke hungry, shooshing him back to dreamland.

When I said to her "Mum, you don't have to do that, really!" she simply said "Bronny, you take care of your baby, and I'll take care of mine." 

Still brings a tear to this day.

It's true that the little bits make up the best bits of memories! ♥

[Image by cassia ]


Mixing mamahood and work: a reply

Yesterday Kahli from little. lovely guest posted her 'Top 5 tips for working mums" over at Fat Mum Slim's. I started to write a comment in reply and then realised that my comment was growing and growing and, really, I should just write my own post and link on back.

So, what made my comment grow and grow?

Well, I had issues. As much as I appreciated where Kahli was coming from (and indeed, on investigation of her site, she seems more than a little lovely herself), I felt that many of her "top five tips" missed the mark for over-stretched, over-committed, over-it mummas. Here are Kahli's tips and my thoughts in reply:

1. Get organised. I’ve found the most important key to success has been organisation. The more organised I am, the less stressed I feel. Plan your weekly meals in advance, order groceries online and always organise as much as you can the night before to avoid a mad rush out the door.

100% agree with you, Kahli so, ah... moving right along.

2. Leave guilt behind. Guilt is often a working mother’s nosy neighbour, popping in when you’re busy, tired or simply feeling low. Try to leave guilt at the door. More often than not, it’s a sign you’re trying to be the best mother you can be and that’s all you – or anyone else – can ask for.

Seriously? A neighbour? Guilt is more like my permanent lodger, popping in all day, every day. I can't leave it at the door because it lives inside me. If I'm going to be a happy mumma and worker, I need to embrace the guilt and make it work hard for its keep. So if I'm feeling guilty about a particular thing, I don't ignore it, I investigate it and try to find ways to change things enough to keep guilt a happy camper.

3. Define work and play. If you’ve found yourself rocking a baby with one arm and responding to emails with another, try separating the two. When you’re working, work and when you’re mothering, mother. Otherwise you may feel you don’t either well. This might mean getting up early or working after your babies are in bed, but you’ll probably find you’re far more productive (and happier) when you do.

This one doesn't come up much for me as I mainly work away from home and when I do work from home my children are in their regular daytime places (school, preschool, with grandparents, daycare). BUT... in general I think the boundaries of 'work time is work time' and 'home time is home time' end up creating more stress than they hope to prevent. Of course they are going to blur - it's not work/life balance, it's just life. Mine changed for the better when I got a BlackBerry that meant that I can do after hours work where ever I am, if that's what I choose to do.

My advice to mums who do work from home and are stressed to the max is to question whether you really can be committed to two full-time jobs that require your attention at the same time. Look for loving childcare alternatives to help you make it work. Or ensure your work knows that you will be working from the hours of 7pm until 1am or whatever works for you. Otherwise, you're really not doing either your babies or your work a favour and it's not fair on anyone. Especially your little ones because if you're anything like me you really like the work you do and can get totally absorbed in it such that a little voice saying "Mummy can I" becomes like nails down a blackboard and it takes everything you've got not to snap bile at your little needy dearheart for interrupting your fun... Yes, I believe in the maxim "you can have it all, just not all at the same time."

As for getting up early to fit yet more stuff into your already over-burdened day, you must be joking, right?

4. Cherish your time off. We all know quality isn’t married to quantity so make your evenings and weekends sacred. Happy memories aren’t based on a catalogue of hours spent together, but rather what you did in the hours you had. The emails, washing and housework can wait.

Unfortunately, the emails, washing and housework really can't wait. If they wait they have a tendency to interbreed and create a giant overflowing inboxing, clothes wrecking, filthy mess loving beast who sucks the very life out of every household it encounters.

I don't know about Kahli, but there is no way I can just down tools and have a sacred evening or weekend as a family knowing that the beast is hungrily eating my house. So my advice here is to get the lot done as quickly as possible (cut any reasonable corner and speed a little - there are no traffic cops here) and then get out of the house for family time so that those little urchins of ours don't start feeding the monster again the second you've finished.

5. Be kind to yourself. Juggling work and the responsibilities of a family can be tough, so be kind to yourself. Take an extra long bath or buy a new magazine. And remember, it really doesn’t matter if your floors aren’t clean enough to serve dinner off. That’s what tables are for.

Be kind to yourself. Let the kids skip a bath or buy a new babysitter. And always remember that this is your actual life, not some weird dream you've found yourself in. So have a laugh whenever you can (laughing at the people with young children who are still trying to keep their floors clean would be a good place to start). That's what life is for.

Did you find Kahli's tips useful? Do you have other tips that might be helpful for over-burdened mothers?
[Image by Charles Gullung]


The drip, drip, drip of routine

I've always hated routine. Before the Tsunamis I was the kind of person who would mix up the route to work so I didn't have to do the same thing day in day out. The thought of already knowing today what I was going to do tomorrow was enough to make me feel a bit panicky.

Perfectly suited to young children then!

It's something I've struggled with all my babying years. When I became a mum, I knew I'd need to embrace a routine and in the early days I went so far as to 'Gina Ford' Maxi-Taxi under the assumption that my lack of routine was causing his sleeplessness. Turns out Maxi-Taxi doesn't really like routines either. It was a total, unmitigated disaster and the month we spent with meany Gina was easily the worst month of my parenting career to date.

After Maxi-Taxi refused to be Ginaed we moved into a more loose routine where as long as a pattern of feed, hang out, try to sleep prevailed, we were satisfied. I managed to handle the drip, drip, drip of a routine provided I got out of the house every day and did something completely new as often as possible.

Three Tsunamis in and these days I actually enjoy the rituals of every day living. I still need to break things up every now and then, but I'm much happier in the pocket of routine.  I'm lucky that most days are different in Maxabellaland (the Tsunamis go to different places in the morning or I'm home or I have class in the evening or... something!). It all helps. I still think I would go nuts if every day was exactly the same. In fact, I'm certain that I would.

Do you get regular breaks from your routine? Or, even better, are you lucky enough to thrive on routine?

[Image from My Sweet Prints]


My assignment

Soundtrack throughout: ‘Child of the Troubles’ by Roy Todd ©

Open on close up of Israeli woman –Aaron’s mother ‐ in labour. She is cared for by a midwife and her husband. There is much panting and puffing as she does Lamaze‐ style breathing and clutches her husband’s hand.

SFX: General hum of a hospital

Aaron’s mother (Lamaze breathing)
Hee hee hooooo, hee hee hooooo

Israeli midwife (in Hebrew):
Not too long now. Baby is coming.

Subtitles in English: Not too long now. Baby is coming.

Cut to close up of a Palestinian woman – Abdul‐Haqq’s mother ‐ in labour. She is cared for by a midwife and her husband. There is much panting and puffing as she does Lamaze‐style breathing and clutches her husband’s hand.

SFX: General hum of a hospital

Abdul‐Haqq’s mother (Lamaze breathing):
Hee hee hooooo, hee hee hooooo

Palestinian midwife (in Arabic):
Not too long now. Baby is coming.

Subtitles in English: Not too long now. Baby is coming.

Cut to split screen showing two crying newborn babies, mouths wide.
SFX: Crying babies

Abdul‐Haqq VO in Arabic:
We are born the same.

SUPER 1 (Appears at Abdul‐Haqq VO, stays on screen): We are born the same.

Aaron VO in Hebrew:
We are born the same.

SUPER 2 (Appears at Aaron VO, directly beneath Super 1): We are born the same.

Cut to split screen with parallel shots of Abdul‐ Haqq, a Palestinian solider and Aaron, an Israeli solider, being gunned down during the Israeli‐Palestine conflict.

SFX: Distant sounds of gunfire. Someone cries out. Silence except for lingering notes of music.

Abdul‐Haqq in Arabic:
We will die the same

SUPER 1 (Appears at Abdul‐Haqq VO, stays on screen): We will die the same.

Aaron in Hebrew:
We will die the same.

SUPER 2 (Appears at Aaron VO, directly beneath Super 1): We will die the same.

Cut to shot of Abdul‐Haqq’s grieving mother embracing grieving Aaron’s mother. They cling to each other and weep throughout take.

SFX: Sounds of women weeping.

Abdul‐Haqq VO in English:
We started it.

Aaron VO in English:
We started it

Both Abdul‐Haqq and Aaron VO in unison:
We will end it.

SUPER [fade in at “we will end it”]: We have more in common than you think.

Screen cuts to black.

SUPER [fade out]: We have more in common than you think.

SFX: Final note of song fades away.


If you have absolutely no idea what's going on here, see My very own Gruen Transfer Moment for background... x


♥ Loving Simply Hue

I'm addicted to Etsy. I scroll through new stores almost every day, dreaming away about what I'd be buying if it was a 'buying day'. I'm finding Vicky at Simply Hue Designs almost irresistable.  She captures daydreamy, lollipop Summers and creates a little yearning in my heart.

I know it's probably a bit of a fad for some, but I love the vintage look for images (you might have noticed that!) An image has to be more than just photoshopped for me to like it, though. You can't hide bad photography with a bit of saturation and a vignette.

Do you have a favourite Etsy shop to share?

Even though it's Sunday, this post is part of ♥Much Love♥ Monday over at Anna's lovely part of the bloggerspace...


This Saturday I'm grateful for... solitude

Here in Maxabellaland, Saturday is traditionally a sport, shop, sort the clothes, sweep the floors, strangle the Tsunamis (insert other 's' words here - no pun intended) kinda day. But on Maxabella loves... I thought it would be grounding to make Saturday my 'grateful' day.

This Saturday I'm grateful for...

Solitude. Time spent alone to just listen is a precious gift.
Freesias. The many bulbs in my front garden are scenting the air with Spring and promise and grandmothers.
Music. The food of love.
What's brightening your world today?

BTW, I'm thinking of making Saturday Grateful a linky so we can all do our own grateful posts on our own blogs and link them together. I have a sad history with my lonely fridge linky, so before I hang myself out there I just want to suss out if anyone would join up if I started next week ... x



Things I learned this week including that you should at least know what you're procrastinating about

My head is spinning from new stuff this week. I've had to cull lots of things too keep it short(ish). Hope you stick with me...

1. The wedding photo booth created by Sasha Souza Events and featured above is easily the cleverest, cutest, covetest thing I've seen all week. Guests could pose in vintage frames surrounded by the wedding photos of the bride and groom's families. Unique and special.

2. “The more you have; the more you have to worry about what you have.” I learned this food for thought on Eastlyn's thoughtful site Wilburn-White News.

3. A fantabulous site for anyone into party planning (me! me!). I could get lost here for days... and did. Please send aesthetically pleasing nibbles immediately.

4. While combating a virus, your white cells create mucus in the lining of your nose; the more active the white cells, the more likely you are to get green snot. So green snot is actually a sign of good health (in a weird, roundabout kind of way). It doesn't mean that a child is more contagious or has an infection. {Ref}

5. You should plant herbs according to whether they are 'Wet and Hungry' (basil, dill, coriander, parsley and chives) or 'Dry and Miserly' (marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage and French tarragon). Keep mint on its own in a pot (poor old invasive mint). Feed and water the 'Hungries' regularly and very occasionally for the 'Miserlies'.

6. Some parents are just determined to wallow in their child's lack of discipline. "We tried everything to get X to do Y, but he's too independent / challenging / stubborn / amazing," they say somewhat smugly.  Smug away, people. Feel free to continue to boast that your child is too clever for discipline that works on just about every other child all you like. But don't complain about your child's unruly behaviour when really it's your own inability to set the boundaries and really follow through, okay?*

7. It's not okay to use the 'f' word, but apparently it seems to be okay to be a gloating, smug winner. A poor example of sportsmanship from a top sportswoman, whatever you call it.

8. If you read my post last night, you'll know that I found myself in quite a pickle for not knowing exactly what it was that I was putting off until the last minute. While I'd be kidding myself if I told you I'd learnt not to procrastinate, I can definitely assure you that I've learnt to find out all I can about something before I decide to put it off until the last minute. Thanks for all your support... I managed to pull something out of my ample arse and emailed it off with a laugh last night.

9. Clearly I am very late to this one, but Yarn bombing caught my eye. I'd heard whispers of people decorating the landscape with their crafty stuff, but I didn't know it was a full-on movement called a cute thing like 'yarn bombing' until this week. Go clever clogs!

10. Sourcebottle is the go-to place if you're a journo or researcher and you want to find sources for articles. Life in a Pink Fibro who is actually a journalist who could use such a thing taught me this.

That's it for the week for me. How about you - did you learn anything new this week?

*  My first class of the Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P) going well then. The only thing more irritating than OPC (Other People's Chidlren) are OCP (Other Children's People)...

PS - I'm flogging, yeah flogging, with Lori,  I'm flogging, come join in, for flogging....


My very own Gruen Transfer moment

I've mentioned before that I'm doing an AdSchool copywriting course for work. My final assignment, worth 50% of my mark, is due tomorrow. I left it until today, of course.

Today I'm feeling rather under the weather and this morning I commented to LOML that the downside to leaving things until the last minute is you risk having to perform when you're not at your best. I'm not at my best.

There's another risk. Whether you do your best work under pressure (like me) or whether you just like to procrastinate (also like me), you really need to read the assignment topic earlier than the last minute. Because, if I'd have done that I wouldn't have been faced with this the day before due date:

Brief for major copywriting assignment (taken from “The Impossible Brief”)
Due Friday 10th September 2010

Peace between Israel and Palestine

What’s required:

60” tvc, 30” radio, double page spread, magazine and press, outdoor billboard, any other support items/media you feel will add to your campaign.

So excuse me while I just go to the nearest ledge and jump.

Have you ever left something major until the last minute only to wish you hadn't? And, more importantly, what do you know about achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestine conflict?


An absolutely ordinary rainbow

I've been inspired by MultipleMum's Tuesday John Donne moment to share one of my favourite ever poets.

I've chosen a contemporary poet, mainly because while most of us love many of the old school poets, many of us forget to keep finding new ones to cherish. I've chosen Les Murray because if you love the secret hiding places of language, as I do, then you will love art of Les Murray.

An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow

The word goes round Repins,
the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
There's a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can't stop him.

The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile
and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk
and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets
which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing:
There's a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.

The man we surround, the man no one approaches
simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps
not like a child, not like the wind, like a man
and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even
sob very loudly—yet the dignity of his weeping

holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him
in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,
and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him
stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds
longing for tears as children for a rainbow.

Some will say, in the years to come, a halo
or force stood around him. There is no such thing.
Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him
but they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,
the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us

trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected
judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream
who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest children
and such as look out of Paradise come near him
and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.

Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops
his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit—
and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand
and shake as she receives the gift of weeping;
as many as follow her also receive it

and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more
refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,
but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,
the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out
of his writhen face and ordinary body

not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,
hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea—
and when he stops, he simply walks between us
mopping his face with the dignity of one
man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.

The Weatherboard Cathedral, 1969


I starred that night, I shone:
I was footwork and firework in one,

a rocket that wriggled up and shot
darkness with a parasol of brilliants
and a peewee descant on a flung bit;
I was busters of glitter-bombs expanding
to mantle and aurora from a crown,
I was fou├ęttes, falls of blazing paint,
para-flares spot-welding cloudy heaven,
loose gold off fierce toeholds of white,
a finale red-tongued as a haka leap:
that too was a butt of all right!

As usual after any triumph, I was
of course, inconsolable.

Subhuman Redneck Poems, 1996

Sharing a treasured piece or two is a great way to share a bit more of myself, I think.  I would love to know your own favourite poem or poet.


Excavating the romantic in me...

Isn't this image by Sabino Aguad just the best fun? It makes my heart soar a little to think that someone was that original and romantic. It's got me thinking about romance and all the yummy things that go with it.

I am not a lover of traditional romance. I can't do contrived. I groan when I see a fella heading home with 12 red roses on Valentine's Day. I'm sure he's made his girl very happy, but it wouldn't be my scene at all.  For this reason, we didn't do a marriage proposal. I would have cringed at the awkward formality of it all. We simply decided to get married one day as we chatted on a long walk through the olive groves at LOML's Zia Archangela's farm in Italy. The romance of the setting was enough and our deciding to do it together was so us. It was perfect.

But the unexpected, the uniquely tailored, the just so uttterly you and no one else, is very welcome in my book. When LOML brings me Daphne just because it's my all time favourite fragrance. Or roses when I'm feeling blue, but never red because he knows I don't like them. Or the fact that he got down on bended knee and proposed  when we were on a cliff overlooking Monte Carlo, just because in his mind it was the perfect setting for a proposal and even though we're already engaged look, here we are, my love.

Romance for me is the fact that the last thing LOML does every single night is gives me a kiss, even if I'm sleeping (but obviously not quite asleep!). Romance is when he checks that all the doors are locked tight before heading up at night. It's when he gives me the last piece of chocolate, even when it's his favourite. Romance is when he tells me I look gorgeous every single day when clearly I do not.

Is it important to you that your fella is romantic? Where you proposed to? What kinds of things keep romance in your life?



Ms Nosybella: what would you...?

Greetings friends.

As you know, my curiosity and general nosiness will get me into trouble one day (again), but not today. Today it merely fosters an intimate exchange between consenting parties that won't be getting any of us into trouble. A thrilling ride on the Compulsion to Share train, if you will.

Today, I'm asking what would you... my woulds below.

... do if you saw a major car accident and you were the first one there?

I race out of my car very purposefully, speed dialling 000 on the BlackBerry as I leap towards the needy and then flap around a lot looking for pale people as I simultaneously curse my inability to remember anything other than 'if the head is pale, raise the tail' from my 2004 St John's Ambulance course. I would be all flap, no trousers, unfortunately.

... change about yourself physically?

I used to list the standard bums, tums, thighs here, but getting older has made me realise that there are worse things in life than an ample lower half. I wouldn't even ask for scaffolding to jack up the boobs. I would ask for sweet-smelling feet and no psoriasis. Man, what am I, eighty? That's beyond sad.

... change about yourself generally?

I'd always think before speaking and then think some more and then probably not speak at all. Ever.

... do all over again?

Travel through Africa with LOML on the back of an overland truck but this time with an air mattress.

... do-over if you could?

I'd embrace my inner quirkiness far more at a younger age. I wouldn't try so hard to fit in when clearly I didn't. Hard to do that as a youngster, I know. It's the benefit of hindsight that tells me I'd be accepted without issue for just being me.

... give up tomorrow if it was easy?

Chocolate and cleaning

... start doing tomorrow if you could?

Sewing and making 'stuff' more regularly.

How about you? What would you... share?

'Til next time



The amazing self-raising baby

I'm thinking of getting rid of my 'word cloud' taggy thingy. It's making me feel guilty because Maxi-Taxi is easily the biggest thing on it which leads me to believe that I write about him way more than Cappers and The Badoo. Cue Mother Guilt (no Working required).

It doesn't help that Cappers has always been a self-raising child. Even as a baby she self-weaned, got rid of her own dummy and toilet trained herself. We're really just here to be a rapt audience.

She's an extremely independent, pleasing child. Rather smug, a bit bossy, a total dobber, but very much a sweetheart. "Look mumma," she will coo. "I gave The Badoo one of my dollies to play with." Actually, she has a voice on her that could cut glass, so it's actually more like "LOOK MUMMA," she will screech. And if she's standing too close, you can't help but wince. But it's a small price to pay for all the charm that is the Cappers.

She's a Kid Who Can. Cappers just gets it and gets on with it. Imagine my delight after struggling through a season of rugby with Maxi-Taxi (what is he doing down there, gardening? You kick the ball, Maxi, the ball. Oh, that's lovely, honey, you're a blue tongue lizard looking for insects in the grass, now go and listen to the ref, sweetie) to find myself at gymnastics with Cappers dazzling everyone with her co-ordination, interest and prowess.

I was beaming, brimming with pride. I'm the mum of a Kid Who Can, I congratulated myself. I was leaning back basking in my child's amazing canness when all of a sudden a stricken look came over her face. I heard a caw of what sounded like 'toilet' and then, the unthinkable. All over the super-absorbent gymnastics mats went that puddle, that river, that Amazon of wee. Dear god, how much had the Kid Who Can had to drink this morning? Was the humiliation ever going to end?

"She's really never done anything like this before," I called to the wincing audience as I raced a still weeing Kid Who Can't Hold On through to the bathrooms. "Really, not even when she was TOILET TRAINING HERSELF AT 2... DID YOU HEAR ME? AT TWO! HERSELF!"

Now look at me. Here's the lovely, capable Cappers and I've chosen to tell you the only story I know of when she was the kid who couldn't. It just proves that when things are good, there isn't really a whole lot to say. Have you noticed that?


♥ Loving lapping up those Sunshiney Cherrybomby awards

Have you had the privellege of visiting Felicity over at Gifts of Serendipity? She has the above picture of a lighthouse on her latest post and I think that perfectly sums up how I feel about her blog. It's a beacon of light and security and guidance in the midst of the chaos that is the etherspace. Her blog is calm, thoughtful and, oh, so rational. I just love it there.

Another blog that I enjoy reading is Becky and James. Becky frequently writes about having no readers, but sneakily I haven't missed a post. She's just such a very lovely, very pregnant, very off the cuff writer and photographer. Her two children (soon to be three) are gorgeous.

So it really means a lot that Felicity has passed on two awards to me and Becky has passed on a Cherry on Top Award.
 and  and 

The Kreativ Blogger award was also passed on to me by Ashleigh at mm is for me. You really need to get yourself over to Ashleigh's blog for a taste of good old Aussie country. Ashleigh lives on a farm in Queensland and the very first 'seven things' she mentions is that she loves Brahman Cattle. It's another world, but full of great ideas for activities with your children (she recently had a 'mini Science week' that was fabulous) and she's an extremely talented 'clever clogs crafter'.

Now, together you and I are just going to completely ignore the naff spelling on the Kreativ Blogger award.  I know it's making you just want to get your permanent marker and rub all over it, but instead we're just going to ignore it and move along to the Awards Sunshine and Cherry...

To quote Felicity "the Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity  and creativity (kreativ-ity?) inspire others in Blogland". And then you get to pass the award on to other bloggers who are positive and creative and inspirational. And then you get to do that 'seven things you don't know about me' thing that seems to be attached to all blog awards, wherever they may be. Why seven? We just don't know.

For the Cherry on Top award I need to answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?

It may surprise you to know that this ain't my first rodeo*. I've passed on the Versatile Blog award and the Mindblowing Blog award to other lovely blogs (stop over here and here and check them out for sure!) In the interests of sharing the love around, I'm not going to pick these gals again, even though they are still some of my favourite blogs of all time (and sisters And then there were four and Life in a Pink Fibro need a special mention to keep online nepotism alive and strong).

To me, being a creative blogger is about more than just having a great blog. Blogging is a two way street so I'm selecting blogs that I feel I have a meaningful, inspiring conversation with.  So, I'd like to pass the Sunshine Award onto the following lovely lasses who bring a little Sunshine into my blog world.

Buttons by Lou Lou

And the Cherry on Top award to these fine gals.

Man, that was really hard. I'm such a blog addict that I just couldn't choose. I love them all!

Anyway, I've rambled on enough so I'm going to do seven really quick things that you may or may not know about me living the life in Maxabellaland.

1. A snake was on my front verandah and I got a huntsman spider stuck in my hair on the same day. Quite a day.

2. I fold clothes but I hate putting them away so I use my dining table like a wardrobe.

3. If I could change one thing in my life I would have continued doing theatre.

4. Sometimes I can't get into my own house because all of the door handles are stuffed and they get stuck.

5. I painted my bookshelves white and got bits of white paint all over my 'half-strength hogs bristle' walls and I didn't repaint them and they look really bad and I don't even care.

6. I put so much sugar on the Tsunamis' Weetbix that even Coco Pops is probably a healthier breakfast choice.

7. If I have to kill a cockroach or an ant I will do it, but I worry about it for days and days and secretly believe that all the other cockroaches and ants will come and get me for murdering their friend.

Have a Sundayshiney Father's Day, everyone! (We loooooooove you to bits and pieces and we're going to eat you up for breakfast you're so yummy, dear LOML!)

PS - OMG, sorry for the long post! You'd think it was Emmys I was giving away with all that verbose gushing going on.... and one last thing... please have a quick read of the post I did yesterday (below this one) for thoughts on another beautiful blogger out there. x

PPS - This post is part of ♥Much Love♥ Monday over at Anna's...

* With humble apologies to Dr Phil. I've been dying to get a Phil 'rodeo' into a post for ages and ages.