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♥ Loving Halloween

I used to scoff at Halloween and dismiss it as an American Hallmark tradition. What's it all about anyway? Kids dressing up and wandering about scaring each other, laughing madly, meeting their neighbours and getting lots of hyperactivity-inducing sweeties... hang on a minute... what have I been missing out on all these years?

Where we live now, Halloween is getting bigger and bigger. Maxi-Taxi participated last year when he was at his first ever sleepover at a mate's place. The mate's mum slapped a sheet on their backs, drew on teeth, called them vampires and took them out. Maxi-Taxi got scared out of his wits, loved it enormously at the time and then called us at around 10pm saying (and I quote) "I don't think this sleepover thing is working for me".

First ever sleepover + Halloween = not very good timing.

This year, the Tsunamis were kitted out in '$2 Shop With Mum Modifications' outfits. The 'buy and modify' approach to homemade is what it's all about here in Maxabellaland. Cappers was a Warty Witch, Maxi-Taxi a Debonair Vampire and The Badoo was a Scary Dummy-Sucking Bat.

After much preening we made it out the door and had the best time harassing the neighbours (well, those with a gold ribbon on their mailboxes* anyway), racing around like mad things with 15 other kids from the neighbourhood. 

"Just because we're scary vampires and witches and bats and goblins and skeltetons and zombies and dead pirates, doesn't mean we should forget our manners... say thank you!" I called over the general din.  The pumpkin buckets filled with sweets and then... buckets and buckets of rain. We got drenched in a massive thunderstorm and, of course, Maxi-Taxi went nuts with anxiety when the thunder came. Talk about a Halloween fright night!

All in all, my first Halloween experience was the best kind of fun. Wherever the 'tradition' came from or what the actual point of the whole exercise was, I cannot tell you. And don't ask me what I'm going to do with three pumpkin buckets full of lollies. But I do know that family togetherness is the key and I'll take that where ever I find it.

What was Halloween like at your place?

* Some clever mum sent out a note with a piece of gold-curling ribbon attached earlier in the week. If you wanted to participate, put the ribbon on your mailbox. It worked so well!


My ♥ Loving posts are always linked to ♥Much Love♥ Mondays... thanks Anna.

And if I manage to post something that's happening 'At My House' on Mondays, I always link up with my lovely friend Lou over at Buttons By Lou Lou.

Happy day to you all!


This Saturday I'm grateful for... rest

So, my blark isn't quite back, but my everyday spark is bigger and brighter than ever right now. I feel grateful and greatful.  Enjoy your Saturday!

This Saturday I'm grateful for...

1. Rest - taking time to be easy is so important to me.

2. Change - it shakes things up and reminds you of all the possibilities of life.

3. Space - I spent many years living in an inner-city tunnel and now I relish the joy of wide, open spaces surrounding my home.

Thank you to all the lovely blogs that link up for yummy bloggy visits each Grateful Saturday. 

[Image by Kitty Gallannaugh]


Is blogging a winter sport?

Not sure about you, but now that the weather is heating up around here (well sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't! What a weird Spring we're having!) I find myself with less and less time to blog.

Is it that I'd rather be outside?
Is it that work is busier this time of year?
Is it that I'm tired as we gear up for the silly season?

It's a little bit of all of that.  To be honest, I think I've just lost my blogging spark (my blark) a little bit. Then, this week, someone dear to me has had what can only be called a blogging disaster and I just feel like taking a mini-blogcation out of support for her.

It's very mini. I'll be back for Grateful Saturday ('cos, let's face it, I can't miss my gratefuls - won't you join me?)... enjoy yourself until then. x



Ms Nosybella: How do you...?

Hello my lovelies

Summer's coming, it's just down the hill parading its beaches and pools and flimsy, floaty garments. I see oodles of orange, dimpled flesh about to spill forth like a wishful offering to the sun. Shudder.

I don't do the fake tan business. I'd rather be ghost-like than splotchy brown with that strange orange glow radiating just under the surface. The stinky goop and unctions necessary to prep the skin, the time commitment involved to maintain it all. One of my most freaky beauty therapist moments was the nude fake tan, up against a white wall while she brandished the air gun like an AK-47. Meet the Firing Squad Moment there.

So, all in all, my summer preps are reasonably modest. I shave my legs more often than once a winter. After 20 years of waxing, I shaved when preggers with Maxi-Taxi as the waxing was waaaaay too painful and... it was so easy, so convenient, so exactly the same result as waxing but without the pain factor that I never went back. I go back to regular pedicures for sweet toes. I exfoliate more than once every month. That's it.

You'll note that the word Brazillian did not come up, not even once. I have never and will never go there. I'm not interested in looking like a pre-pubescent (and really, the idea that LOML would like such a thing turns me right off instantly) or a strange little barbie doll*. I do a bikini line tidy up whenever things begin to get ursine, but no landing strips for this herbal diva. No freaking way.

What about you? Do you fake tan it? Do you wax or shave? 
Do you take it aaaaaall off?

* With respect to those who indulge. It's a personal thing, you understand. x

'Til next time,


Everything's just so uncomfortable

I'm often uncomfortable. Not in pain exactly, but annoying, niggling, buzzing, don't forget I'm here uncomfortableness. And sometimes pain.

We all have our Achilles and my back has never been particularly good. I was diagnosed with a mild scoliosis in my teens which was bizarrely taken back and claimed to be 'one leg shorter than the other'. Yes, that was the medical diagnosis. Regardless, I'm crooked.

After having babies, well, things went rapidly downhill. Some mornings I feel like I'm pushing eighty and Eighty's heavy. Most days, though, I just get on with things and ignore the tension, the tightness, the soreness. Like a tightening noose, it gets more frantic as the day goes on. My shoulders ache, my lower back stiffens, my whole body tenses. Particularly busy days will make even my eyelashes feel tight.

As I stood at my kitchen counter at 3am last Sunday night preparing Mermaid cakes, I started thinking about how lovely it would be to be pain free and 'straight' for just a day or two. How nice it would be to not have to consider my back every time I picked up my children. To be able to skip out of bed rather than creak. To just be in the moment.

Pain makes everything just a little bit less enjoyable. I can't imagine what it would be like to live with 'real' pain 24/7. My heart goes out to people in that situation.

Have you experienced chronic pain or know someone who does? How do you cope with something that constantly makes you feel bad? How do you manage?

[Image by Hilde]


Busting out of the Comfort Zone

The V8 Supercars. Surprise. I had a fantastic time in the pits during practice, talking to the drivers and crew and learning all sorts of interesting facts about cars, cars, cars. The smells, the sounds, the sights, I kind of 'got it'. I can't say I'm car racing's newest fan, but I will say that I'm not knocking anything I don't know about in future.

It's good to break this habit. I have a bad tendency to turn my nose up at things I consider... 'not me'. It really switches you off from experiencing things that are a bit out of your usual comfort zone but are great fun nonetheless. It's good to hang out with people you ordinarily wouldn't meet and talk about things you ordinarily wouldn't consider. Good for sparking creative inspiration and good for the soul.

I'm challenging myself to embrace new experiences from now on. I'm going to drag my little family along to something new whenever I can. You just never know what the Tsunamis are going to be into so it's up to LOML and I to introduce them to as many different things as we can. And you never know, I just might find a new passion of my own along the way.

Do you shake things up regularly? What do you to do get yourself out of your comfort zone?


♥ Loving Snippet and Ink

We went to Roger and Duana's wedding yesterday and it was a beooooutiful affair. I don't know how Duana would feel about me publishing images of her wedding before she's even back from honeymoon, so instead I've decided to share highlights of a few of the inspirational weddings featured on Snippet and Ink. If you adore romance, photography, details, styling, design, stationery, creativity, festivities and love, love so much love, pop over to Kathryn's amazing blog dedicated to all things wedding.

Liz and Chris

Hannah and Ian

Stef and Johnnie

Kristin and Mark

Crystal and Robert

Lauren and Adam

Don't you just lovey-dove a wedding?

As ever, my ♥ Loving post is part of Anna's Much Love Mondays...


This Saturday I'm grateful for... new experiences.

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. Thank you to all the lovely blogs that link up for yummy bloggy visits each Grateful Saturday.

This Saturday, I'm grateful for...

1. New experiences - it is so easy to become a creature of habit and routine when you are raising young children. I appreciate a break from my real life every time, even if I happen to find myself in the middle of the boganvillea V8 Supercars with my eyes hurting from sponsored shirts and my ears hurting from Dire Straits.

2. Cushions - they make the decor so easy to change, but when you just need a little extra softness there, there or there, cushions really come into their own. It may interest you to know that we somehow manage to house over 40 cushions in Maxabellaland...

3. The kindness of strangers - thank you for asking me whether I was in pain and needed help today. That's just my face, but thank you anyway. 

What's making you smile today? Join the linky and then tour the list to find a new blog to love...

[Image via weheartit.Source unknown.]


Things I learned this week including that I'm happiest when I'm being creative

Happy Friyay!

As I write this I am looking out my hotel window at the sweep that is Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland. Am I on holidays again, you ask? No I am not.

I am sporting a media pass and covering the V8 Supercars race for my work. Oh, the glamour.

As I race about (pun!) dodging grid girls (fun!), I had ample time to reflect on what I learned during the week that was...

1. A friend asked me on Monday, "Besides your family, what makes you happiest?" and without hesitation I responded that time stands still for me when I'm writing, making and generally being creative. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I would much rather be making something.

2. A 'flimsy' is a quilt top before the batting and backing have been added (thank you Sue at Charlotte's Cottage!)

3. Whenever you see a large group of idle teenagers, one will be plucking away at a guitar. It's best to vacate before they launch into a rendition of Stairway to Heaven because, believe me, it will happen and it will not be pretty.

4. Geocaching is a high-tech version of a scavenger hunt using GPS. There are hunts already preset that you can download here -  it really adds that extra something to a bushwalk. Check out the fabulous Geocache bag and goodies that Emily made over at her fabulous Saltwater Kids site.

5. I knew this already, but bloggers really do seem to be the nicest bunch of people on the planet. What is it about blogging that brings out the best in people? The delicious comments I received on the mermaid party post made the party even better. Generous, warm, inviting and supportive... I don't think the critics know what they're talking about!!

How about you? Did you learn anything new to share this week?

[Image by Kristine May]


Trampolining into life

The Tsunamis have a gigantic trampoline parked right next to my favourite spot in the world.  I sit on my front verandah with a view over the valley and listen to their squeals of joy as they bounce and leap and "look at me, mummy" for hours on end.

There is something so right about children playing so joyously, wearing themselves ragged with the sheer hard work of having fun. The pleasure of watching them is supremely addictive.

Last night I went on the trampoline myself.

In my head I was leaping with merry abandon, at one with the air. I jumped, I bounced, I cavorted. The odd backflip was performed.

The reality was... different. I didn't cavort much at all. Unable to leap even small buildings in a single, half-hearted push, my spring had definitely sprung. It was the equivalent of a Boeing 747 trying to take off in a wind tunnel.

I've lost my bounce.

Is this what happens as we get older (and fatter... let's not forget the fatter!)? Sheesh.

Do you still bounce or do you feel grounded these days too?

[Image via weheartit]


The best bits are the little bits: part 2

It's true that the little bits make up the best bits of memories! Not always postitive, but imprinted forever! ♥

I’m standing in line at the check-out wailing to my friend about having been up two, three times a night for about five years FIVE YEARS and that sleep deprivation has become just plain DEPRIVATION and I’m really going nuts because I’m just so bloody tired and just so bloody over the agonising nights when I felt a tap on my arm.

I turn around.

“Have you tried hot milk?” the biddy behind me asked.

I only stabbed her 37 times. My friend stopped me then.

Tell me, what's the most useless piece of parenting advice you've ever been given?

[Image by farmgirl in flipflops]


The Zanorexic

Since my How to Look Good Naked post, I've been thinking more about body image. You see, even though I've worked out the key to strutting your stuff naked in the bedroom in the presence of your loving partner, I've yet to discover how to strut same stuff in the public space. Hence, I won't be taking part in Carly's admirable, you-go-girls, love-your-attitude I Heart My Body campaign over at We Heart Life. Me doing that would be WTMI for sure. The world is not ready.


Weirdly, with clothes on, I have always thought I look way skinnier than I actually am. Back in my mid-twenties a girlfriend and I dubbed ourselves Zanorexics. No disrespect meant to suffers of anorexia nervosa, of course. It's just that rather than being unable to see our thinness, we were unable to see our fatness.

Fiona put our Zanorexia down to the fact that we were corporate workers who spent an inordinate amount of time at our computers... and we have skinny wrists. Looking down at our hands as we typed away made us think 'look at those bony wrists, I'm just so skinny'.

I put it down to the fact that I have always been unbelievably optimistic to the point where I am able to block out anything negative in my life. A sort of lah, lah, lah I'm blocking my ears so it doesn't exist type of thing. I've always found that flat out denial works really well for most things, up to a point.

I've since realised that Zanorexia has a genetic link. My Dad (hi Dad, I know you're reading this!) is also overweight and - up to a point - oblivious to the effect on his appearance. Many men are, of course.

Now, my frequent use of 'up to a point' is deliberate. Even a seasoned Zanorexic like me realised a while ago that things weren't looking good after years of chocolate abuse. But I'm talking over 20 kegs overweight before it dawned on me that 'secret' snacking isn't so secret after all. That's the power of denial, right there.

So, while I'm not exactly ready to bare my self-inflicted elephantitis to the blogosphere, I have recently made the enormous step of taking off my rose-coloured glasses long enough to give myself a hard look in a full length mirror naked.

Let's just say that I am miraculously cured of my long-term Zanorexia and will be taking steps to get back on track immediately. If you like, you can follow my track at 40 Skinny Street where I post most Thursdays on how I'm going.

I'm guessing most of my female friends will find Zanorexia rather alien, but how are you with denial in general? Does it help or hinder in your life?

[Image by Frollein.M]


Ms Nosybella: Do you watch...?

Good day to you all

Last week, my sister publicly outed me as a Wife Swap fan. This was during the same week that I publicly outed myself as a Bust A Move fan. I'm all class, me.

The Wife Swap thing began when LOML and I lived in London. Wife Swap started in the UK and then the Americans got a hold of the format and took it to a whole new level (of course they did). So now we have Wife Swap USA where we have hippies swapping houses with rednecks and exercise junkies swapping houses with committed slobs. There are pirates, there are burlesque dancers, there are lumberjills, there are goths, there are devil worshippers (always fun when they swap with a devout Christian).  I don't even care if it's not 'real', it's an amazing insight into the different ways that people live.

It's seriously the most fascinating, addictive show on television. I can't stop watching.

So, my nosy question this time is... What TV shows can you simply not miss? Any embarrassing moments in there? And will you still be my friend now that you know I'm a Wife Swap fan?

'Til next time,

[Image source unknown]