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Calling all wearers of Clever Crafty Clogs

You know how I admire you. You know how you inspire me. You know how much I want to find out more, more, more.

So, if you have some type of art or craft or creative gig going on (via a Blog, a Shop, a Market, a Nything) and you would like me to interview you via email for Maxabella loves... let me know!  Leave a comment below or email me via
The interviews will be short, sweet and packed with meaning (ie, nothing like myself).

Can't wait to hear from you! x


Is it easier to be nice in blogland?

On Friday night an exchange occurred that made me realise that it's easier to be a nice person in blogland.

We were at the school 'Icebreaker' function, where the grown-ups hang out without their cling-ons and have an uninterrupted conversation for longer than 30 seconds. It was fun. I mean, it was held under the covered area in the school playground with a couple of candles for 'atmosphere' and there was a lot of standing up involved and I couldn't shake the P+C President who insisted on being her own version of a cling-on, but, hey, a night out is a night out, right?

But I was complimenting a woman on how beautifully she was dressed and half-way through realised: Too Much. She was staring at me like I was a perverted stalker (and I wasn't even looking at her boobs!). This is what I said:

"You look so gorgeous tonight. I love how you've put that necklace with that dress... such a stylish touch. Really unique and special."

Weird IRL, huh? But a comment like that on, say, Kymmie's 'Fancy Pants' link would be just the warm-up, right? We'd go on to discuss the cute shoe, the hair, the studied pose. IRL, a casual 'you look nice tonight' is about the maximum expected or appreciated.

How often do you randomly go around complimenting people? Noticing the details? How often do you go out of your way to let someone know that they've made your day? That they're unique and special and talented and kind? That they are insightful, clever and fun? 

No wonder we are all addicted to this special blogging community. It's probably not that we're all more caring and thoughtful - just that blogging allows us to be!

[Image via weheartit... I gotta get off weheartit because I hate not being able to find the correct source! Those darn tumblrs...]


This week I'm grateful for... coincidences

Don't you just love a coincidence? I've had three happen this week.  One of the girls who is interested in our newly vacant nanny position used to live in our house.  One of my fave bloggers lives in the same suburb as me. The new boyfriend of a work friend is an old school mate of mine.

Amaaaaazing every time.

So this week I'm grateful for...

1. Coincidences - there's a touch of the fairy dust about them. They let you form bonds you never expected for reasons that spark your imagination.

2. Knowledge - learning new stuff is a must for me. I never want to stop learning and growing and knowing. Right now it's how gardens grow. Later, who knows?

3. Movies - any spare time that I can gather I want to spend at the movie theatre. I have always loved it there.

So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm grateful for... button from my sidebar if you like, add your I'm Grateful For post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. Happy day to you!

Make some new friends by linking up with our British friend, Mummy From the Heart's Reasons To Be Cheerful too!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy From the Heart

[Image via weheartit... please let me know if it is yours.]


Dealing with Difficult People #10: Rude Bastards

Some people are just not very nice. They don’t seem to have learned the golden life rule about treating others the way you would like to be treated yourself.

That bloke in accounts who lets the door shut in your face every single time. The kid who thinks 'merge' means 'push in immediately'. That guy on the train with his legs spread across three seats (his balls are apparently that big). That mother at the school gate who turns slightly away every time you approach. There are so very, very many of them.

They just don’t get the fact that life runs on little everyday niceties; they are Life Rude. Would it kill them to be kind?

So, how do we handle this unnecessary business without being rude right back?

1. Don’t reach for the PowerPoint
Tempting though it is to launch into a Modern Manners lecture complete with Venn diagrams, I wouldn’t go there. I remember cringing as a woman on the train once tried this with a big-ball-leg-spreader and she just sounded so whiny. The trouble with rudeness is that it is actually quite a trivial matter on its own. The more you sound off about it, the more inconsequential their rudeness seems.

2. The boxer approach
Depending on the type of day you’ve had, you could always just get physical. I’m pretty sure that squeezing yourself in next to that big-ball-leg-spreader and giving him a whacking-hard shove out of the way would make you feel a whole lot better. And imagine just walking up and decking that imperceptibly-snobby mum at the school gate. Oh, the blessed relief!

3. Cue your Look of Utter Contempt
Of course, I could never condone violence of any kind*, so instead I’ll recommend the non-verbal equivalent of a slap to the face. The Look of Utter Contempt.

This is the look you would give if you were the Queen of the World and they were some simple little serf prone on the floor in front of you beseeching you for their life. Your foot would ease out from your bejewelled gown to give them a smart kick to the face… oh, sorry, back on the violence again.

4. Cue your Look of Utter Distaste
If you get no luck with the Look of Utter Contempt, try the Look of Utter Distaste. This look is similar to what you might find on a face that has just discovered its attached foot has stepped in slightly-sticky dog poo, walked it through the newly-carpeted house, up the 27 stairs and into bed.

“What are you looking at?” says the loud-mouthed buffoon.** Cue your Distaste aimed directly at their eyeballs and say “oh, I’m looking at absolutely nothing”.

5. Beat them with niceness
When the looks and the brawling fail, it’s time to resort to being nice. Rudeness is always louder when surrounded by impeccable manners. Up your own nice factor, smile sweetly and bring them to their knees.

Rudeness: The hidden societal stress factor.
How do you show people that rudeness is not okay on your watch?
What’s the rudest thing you’ve ever randomly had done to you?

* Please ignore my 'blessed relief' comment in the point above. As a complete pacifist, I should never have written that. I don't know what happened.

** I’m not entirely sure what a buffoon is but I’m pretty sure I would know if I was Queen of the World and writing this with my quill.

[Image by the delightful Suse at  Revoluzza as always. Thank you for your marvellousness, Suse.]

Those wretched little moments

The Badoo was really sick last night. It started at around 11pm and went on until just after 3am. Vomiting every ten minutes until she was feebily retching and heaving every ten instead. "I don't want to do this anymore, mummy," said my weak little trouper at one point. My heart coiled.

How helpless and worried and pained I felt. And at the back of my mind, just for that one moment, but there: how am I going to manage work tomorrow? What if I need to stay home with her? How inconvenient.

Oh, how I hate it. How I hate myself in those wretched little moments. Fleeting, but slow enough to scar.

[Image via weheartit, please let me know if it's yours.]


Loving JLW Photography

The creative way this father is capturing his beautiful daughters' childhoods is very special. Look out Tsunamis, I'm totally inspired!

I found Jason's work through flickr. Check it out.


There's a frog in my pants

Last weekend I was feeling too lazy to walk up the flight of stairs to my bedroom (this happens quite regularly) so I ducked out to the clothesline to grab a fresh pair of knickers. I collected them, brought them inside, started to put them on and... out jumped a real-live frog. Ta da!

Now, I take great pride in telling people that I'm 'from the country'. It's my little differentiator amongst my city-posh friends and city-suited colleagues. I like to think it gives me a wholesome, scrubbed-faced demeanor when I'm going about my ordinary grey city life. A touch of pink about the cheeks. Me? Oh, I'm a country girl.

The truth is that while I did indeed grow up in a large country town, we lived on the decidedly un-rural main street. There was a horse over the back fence once upon a time and we found a dead chicken in our yard one year, but that was about it for us and country living. Gran and Pops still live in the same house I grew up in and the Tsunamis even refer to our visits as 'going to see Gran and Pops in the city'. So, no, not really a country girl at all.

So the frog in the pants thing was more of a problem than you might think.

It just did the one jump. More of a startled leap, really, as if he was saying 'sure, take me off the clothesline, drag me inside the house, but I am not going anywhere near that bottom'.

After the jump, he sat on the floor, looking contentedly around. A little croak saying: New digs; roomier. I've got a roof over my head, there's an ensuite. I kinda like it.

I wasn't so sure. It's one thing to have a house in the bush (in the city), quite another to share it with bonefide country-type wildlife. LOML was called for and the frog was smartly despatched out back. What on earth was he doing in a backyard that didn't have a pond? The creek is easily about 100 metres from the house, down a cliff, around a little bend, leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Oh gosh... Did somebody's prince take a wrong turn?

I'm so glad he made the detour. Unlike, say, the time a massive huntsman got caught in my hair (shudder) or the time a snake slithered its way across my verandah (eek), a frog is really quite manageable for a 'country girl' like me. I'm just glad he leaped to safety before the knickers went on!

Did you grow up the the country or the city? Do you remain true to your roots? 
And have you ever had a frog in your knickers?

[Image by Darkrose42]


Cappers Kazoo will not brush her hair

Do you know Ella Kazoo? She of the untamed tresses and testing 'tude? Well, that's my Cappers right there. Red hair and everything.

The only way I can get the dreaded School Hair done is to give her the choice of either the brush or the scissors. Her main ambition in life is to grow her hair down to her feet (?) so she chooses the brush every time. And then ouches and yelps and moans and squeals her way through the School Hairdo until it's done. Honestly, child, can't you just suck it up and get the job done stoically?

With The Badoo's hair even curlier and more unkempt, I see years and years and years of hair wrangling ahead of me and I just sigh. It feels like torture for both me and the child, yet... I kinda like her beautiful, thick long hair, even when it's unruly and Kazoo-like. I can't bring myself to choose the scissors either.

And so we endure.

Do you hair wrangle? Does it drive you bonkers too?

A little wish

I'm a big talker; love, love, love a chat. It's one of the reasons why I'm such a big commenter on your blog. Chatterbox = Commenter = true. Some days I visit and don't have time for comments... but there is something that I think would help me out greatly.

On Blogger blogs, you can change the way your comment box works. Instead of having the comments 'embedded below post', you can have a pop-up box appear.

Why is this helpful?

Well, it simply means that when we comment, the word verification is right there. We leave a comment, do the word veri and hit 'Publish Your Comment' and we're done. If you haven't got a separate pop-up box, we comment, we hit Publish, we wait for your whole blog site to reload and then we do the word veri and then we hit Publish again... hmmmm... takes a lot more time and it's lots of extra page loads to be dealing with. You can still view the comments embedded after your post anytime you click on the actual post.

So, in my dream blogland, we would all go to 'Settings' and then 'Comments' and then change our 'Comment form placement' setting to 'Pop-up window'.

That is my wish.*

* Of course I have much more important wishes to wish than just this little wish. Like, I also wish that world hunger did not exist, that wars were only part of history books and that I had Sienna Miller's wardrobe, but I thought I would start small and build up from there...

[Image via weheartit... please let me know if it is yours.]


Can't help myself

Ahem. I would just like to publicly point out that I was not actually in the meeting where the lady cried all the way through (please go here first if you have no idea what I'm talking about). No, no, no. That would not happen on my watch.

In fact, the entire Bystander Effect doesn't happen on my watch.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a helper. I've helped my mum (pet), I've helped my teachers (pet), I've helped the homeless, the downtrodden, the random crying people, the drunks and on one memorable occasion the police with their inquiries. It's pathological helping; I can't help myself.

Aside from the obvious volunteering outlet for us helpers, I've never understood how people can keep walking when there is an injured bird in our flock. I certainly cannot. One time I stood up to an irate 6' tall giant who was threatening his girlfriend's face with a bottle. It helps that I'm an irate 6' tall giant myself, but then I still thought it was very brave and foolish thing to do. But she needed help, so help arrived. Mind you, there was a group of at least 10 other people around us (including one 6'4" giant who I could really have used) and they did absolutely nothing to help that girl. Or me for that matter. Amazing.

Speaking of the Bystander Effect, I learned about Kitty Genovese when I was studying Psych at Uni and while everyone else was nodding along in recognition, I remember very boldly thinking "I would not have done nothing." I would not have been able to live with myself if I heard that girl cry for help and did nothing. I would not.

Is there a Superman Effect? I honestly think I have that Effect because who do I think I am with all this helping? All I know is that it doesn't feel right to ignore someone's plea or cry for help, or even their random appeal. Hence, I'm always volunteering to do this, that and thisthatthisthatthisthat when I really don't have the time. It's not that I can't say No (I am actually very good at saying No), it's just that I can't do nothing... like I said, it's pathological.

Are you a helper? 
Have you ever not helped someone in need and regretted it? What kinds of things make you keep walking?

[Image from here]


This week I'm grateful for... thunderstorms

I'm still not over the gratitude I feel towards LOML, my personal chef. He's gone from rarely cooking to cooking up a gorgeous fat-free meal every single night. He follows his recipe and produces the goods. I am so impressed (and would it be condescending to say 'proud'? But I am). My body is thanking him for it (and I suspect there's his motivation right there!).

This week I'm also grateful for...

1. Thunderstorms* - the frizzing, crashing, radiating variety that claps you awake and makes you notice. Hey there, I'm the boring old weather and I'm roaring.

2. Emails - such a quick and simple way to keep in touch, extend a blog conversation, have a yarn. Email is entirely responsible for the resurgence of the art of letter writing and I like it very much.

3. Forgiveness - thoughtlessness, mistakes, differences of opinion, the overlooked and the ignored. All can be forgiven. All can be returned to easy.

* With respect to those doing it tough due to too many of the darn things!

So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm grateful for... button from my sidebar if you like, add your I'm Grateful For post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. Happy day to you!

[Image by Chantal Baggley]


Link up with Mummy From The Heart's cheeriness too.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy From the Heart

Maxabella does Childhood 101

I love Childhood 101 for practical, no-nonsense advice about keeping the fun in childhood. I'm very excited to be a contributor for Christie today, especially as I never have imagined I would have something to offer such a fab parenting blog (see here, here and here). But she was keen for me to talk about morning time management and that I can most certainly do! Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of Childhood 101, Christie!

Come check out my routine for making it out the door on time...

[Image found on tumblr - please let me know if this image is yours]


Dealing with Difficult People #9: The Desperate Newcomer

It's true I have a love-hate relationship with People. I love to meet new ones and make friends; but at the same time I loathe the general public and am wary of newcomers. I know: another complete contradiction in my life. Just call me Ms Hyjekell.

I think one of the reasons that I am wary is because I have been bitten many times by the Desperate Newcomer (DN). That friendly person you meet at playgroup / the park / the pub whose company you find pleasant enough such that you casually swap phone numbers and a ‘we must meet again'.

Only there’s nothing casual about it.

We must meet again.

You catch up for coffee with the kids in tow. You go to the pub for a quiet glass of whine. After that they are stapled to your sleeve at every social engagement you find yourself at and before you know it, they've invited themselves to your family BBQ.  People soon refer to you as Besties and thus you bewilderingly find yourself ensonced with someone whom you barely know and are fast starting to loathe on sight. Don’t they have any other friends?

So, just how do you edge out the DN before the claustrophobia sets in?

1. Be wary of anyone who talks incessantly about how many friends they have
They haven’t got any.

2. Be alert around the Pinnerdownerer
The Pinnerdownerer is that person who when you vaguely say ‘we should get the gang together soon' says ‘how about tomorrow at 7, my place, you bring dessert, Mary's on nibbles?’ Every group of friends needs a Pinnerdownerer or no one would ever actually meet up. We would all just stay home cosy and comfy in our little nests watching How I Met Your Mother A Thousand Shows From Now re-runs. So, while we acknowledge that the Pinnerdownerer is an important organising role it is very easy for them to tip into DN territory. Try not to be pinned down too regularly.

3. Time the first contact
Both the timing of and the duration. If someone you’ve recently met calls you within a matter of days and spends at least 10 minutes getting to the ‘come over on Saturday point, you will not want to be available on Saturday.

4. Observe during the Uncomfortable Absence
Sometimes you meet a family and you all just get along so fabulously that before you know it you’ve spent the past three weekends together, are planning to share a holiday house over Easter and your children are wearing each others’ clothes. Regardless of how much you like the family, how similar you are and how great your time together is, you will wake up on the Monday after the third consecutive Sunday BBQ and think ‘Oooh. Awkward’. Whereby you will avoid them like the plague for at least two weeks before happily resuming your friendship. This is normal, they feel the exact same way and they will be avoiding you right back.

If you receive any type of contact from the other family during the two week Uncomfortable Absence period, you can be sure they are Desperate Newcomers and no further contact should be made.

5. Sadly, you can’t just avoid them
If you fail to spot a DN and soon find yourself the object of their affection, it’s tempting to use our favourite Difficult People technique: ignore them until they go away. Unfortunately our old stand-by just doesn’t work with the DN. Ignoring them makes them perkier and more time-consuming than ever as they try to win their way back into your heart. You have to remember that you are new forever best friends with this person.

No, the only way to successfully eradicate a DN is to find them a new best friend. Have a chat to your social team and find out if anyone else has a DN they are trying to palm. Introducing DNs to each other is not just a community service, it’s a match made in everlasting heaven.

I’ve lost full years of my life trying to avoid DNs. Have you experienced one and lived to tell the tale? Do you have some other techniques to share with the group?

[As always, Difficult People image by Suse Bauer via Revoluzzza... note that Desperate Newcomers often look like butter wouldn't melt but there are always big sharp teeth involved. Don't let that innocent face (and rather scrumptious fabric choice) deceive you!]

Those top toppers in action

Well, the Kindy parents have all been welcomed in style. I worked from home today and ducked out to attend to last minute decorating hassles and the actual lunch. We did most of the (cough) styling the night before so it was an easy job just before the lunch began.

Keen Maxabella lovelies will note that the garlands were recycled from my Australia Day bash. And they have already been snapped up by one of the mums to feature at an 11th birthday party next Saturday. There is satisfaction in my efforts getting more than one outing, I can assure you!

I made the bunting out of oil cloth (the very same oil cloth that I photocopied to make the garlands!). I made the flags a little smaller than usual so the scale looks grander. I like.

Look at those ugly napkins scattered everywhere, wrecking my photograph. Really, I'm sure one pile would have been sufficient, no? And, seriously, who bought the red plates!? *

It seemed that 150 circles was not enough for me in the end. At the last minute I pulled together some little 'food identifiers' that tied in with the cake toppers.

So, project complete. Now... what's next!?

* This is the control-freak in me coming out. I am so not a team player.


Papercrafting is tops

As much as I love making decoratey things, after a while the repetition of making lots and lots of the same thing really starts to grate. Like the 150 cake-toppers I made for the upcoming Kindy Welcome Lunch. I could never be an industry.

Perhaps part of my hohummedness (newly minted adjective there!) is the fact that while I do have a child in Year One and am therefore rightfully welcoming the new Kinder parents to school life  (as is our school's tradition), I am also a Kinder Mum myself so I am technically going to all this trouble to welcome myself.

The things we do.

Do you get involved in this sort of stuff at the school? Do you enjoy it or do you do it because you feel obligated? Would you make 150 kite-themed cake toppers just for fun?

Joining in with the inspirational Kootoyoo's My Creative Space today... one of my favourite things to do in the whole blogiverse. Thanks Kirsty.


Patting the elephant in the room

We all know I'm not exactly a 'subtle' sort of person. I find it extremely difficult to ignore the bleeding obvious. In fact, I am more likely to give the elephant in the room one great big cuddle rather than ignore him.

How do other people do it?

Like, the other night at the pre-school Parent Committee meeting there was a new dad there. Whilst it was lovely to see a new dad getting involved with the pre-school, when asked if he had anything to add he just went on and on and on. That's the Boring bit. The Elephant bit is that he had his eyes closed the entire time that he was waffling on. So he was speaking to about ten people in the room with his eyes closed.

I thought it was just hysterically funny and had to hide behind the Tonka Truck shelf to stop myself from laughing. Worse than that though is that no-one else in the room appeared to either notice or be phased by this bizarre public speaker.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time. Not the Sleeping-Dad-Waffling part, but the wondering why no-one else looks like they just want to leap up and say "oh for gods sake, open your eyes when you're talking, you look deranged!'.

Other recent elephants have included:

A room full of business people ignoring the fact that one of their own was crying quietly throughout the entire meeting.

- and -

A mother at school waxing lyrical about how sweet her boy is when everybody knows he is the boy who took a knife into Kindergarten last week.

I had to walk away, wide-eyed on each occasion.

So help me, please. How does everyone else seem to be able to ignore the elephant in these scenarios? How do they keep from mentioning the bizarre? How do they keep a straight face because it's all just really a bit too funny?

[Image by DecalHappy via etsy]


I used to think I could, but now I'm sure I can't!

I'm saying it... it's gotta come out sometime... here I go... I am mad for So You Think You Can Dance.

The minute I hear that boofy, doofy music start, it's my happy time. I get a drink ready. I get a project ready (currently making 150 'cake toppers' for the 2011 Kinder Welcome Lunch... how's my life?) and there I sit, contented as a firmly wrapped newborn.

Is it the dancing? Is it the athleticism? Is it the hot bods? Is it the amazing moves? The reaching?

I don't know.

I just know I love it about as much as I like dancing like nobody's watching (even when I'm pretty sure they are ALL looking at the crazy dancer going flat out doing Solid Gold moves under the disco ball - yep, that's me!).

Do you?

[Image by julia_prokhorova]

Speaking of Dancing with Cameras (well, we were, weren't we?), my friend at Faith, Hope and a whole lotta Love needs your support in a photography competition. Click and if you love her image (as pictured above) please vote!


Bling on love on the big day

It's Vaaaaaaaalentine's Day! Cue intimate candlelit dinner for two (plus 48 other restaurant goers). Cue a dozen red roses (I guess it's the thought that counts). Cue those little 'love teddy bears' that sit at the bottom of florist tubes (weird). Cue... meh.

Couldn't really care less, actually. I adore my husband every day, he adores me right back. Happily ever after.


Oh, do I love jewellery and I'm fascinated to see what sort of 'special' pieces you have that your beloved (or yourself!) acquired for you. So Felicity at Gifts of Serendipity (who started it all with this post) and I are hosting a linky today. All you have to do is take a pic and write a post about your favourite piece of bling and link up!

So snap, snap, snap away (sunshine is good for sparkle) and come back over here or head to Felicity's to sign up your link. Can't wait to see!

[Image from here... source is written on the image but I can't read it. Don't you hate it how people don't honour their sources! As always, if you know the owner of this image, please let me know. Would you believe this request actually worked one day and I was emailed by a woman whose husband had taken the shot? I dutifully changed the caption. A global village moment.] [9.28PM EDIT - Image by alephunky - thanks Jane, fast work!]


This week I'm grateful for... Laughter

I'm merrily getting on with 'healtheaven' and making a few changes here and there. The biggest change is that as of this week LOML has completely taken over my diet. He packs me a lunchbox in the morning with breakfast, lunch and snacks and then makes me my dinner in the evening. It's been fantastic as it completely takes me away from thinking about food at all (as well as completely taking me away from cooking... result!). My only question is: why didn't we think of this sooner!?  Previously I would 'go on a diet' and all I would think about was what I could eat, what I couldn't eat, what was 'good', what was 'bad'. I just bored myself into overeating.

So, this week I'm expecially grateful for my sensible, caring husband and also grateful for...

1. Laughter - in all of it's forms. Life is too short to take seriously and I try to have a giggle whenever I can. I find myself especially funny.

2. Posts like this one from Keep Cate Busy. I had a bit of an 'a-ha moment' (hate that expression, sorry Oprah) reading this. I can't even say why as I've read the same sort of thing many times before, but Cate just seemed to write it in a way that sank in for me this time. So, thank you Cate.

3. My bright orange, yellow and green insulated lunchbox with a lion on the front (!) - It's actually Cappers pre-school lunchbox, but she's got a new one for school so there it was, waiting for a new assignment. I just know I'm going to be sick to death of it within weeks, but right now it's my new best friend.

So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm grateful for... button from my sidebar if you like, add your I'm Grateful For post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. Happy day to you!

[Image via Silly Girls Like]


Link up with our British mates via Michelle at Mummy From The Heart too!

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy From the Heart


Dealing with Difficult People #8: Aggressive Drivers

As we all reel from the controversy surrounding the Yummy Mummy post last week, do you ever stop to think how bizarre cars are? How we zip around suspended above the ground in our little metal boxes. Lost in our own little world with one eye on the traffic and the other on what’s for dinner? How cars allow us to go further and do more in a day than we are actually biologically capable of?

No wonder the roads are a heaving pit of heat and aggression.

But there is no excuse for the way some drivers behave. They cut you off, they tailgate, they slam in and out of traffic, they go 90 in a 60 zone. I just can’t stand the injustice of these imbeciles getting away with causing havoc. Argh, they make me so angry I could... drive aggressively myself?

No wonder the road are a heaving pit of accidents and casualties.

So just how do you let a driver know that their driving is unacceptable without becoming a screaming maniac yourself? What do you do to make sure they understand that good drivers rule the roads, not bad? Try these tips for starters.

1. Do not use hand gestures
Once I was so annoyed at being cut off that I immediately fired off the bird. I was instantly ashamed and so attempted to make it seem like I was merely adjusting my rear vision mirror. With my middle finger. So, instead of a brief middle finger salute, what they got was an ongoing insult that seemed to go on for kilometres.

My advice is that unless you’re giving a ‘heya, thanks’ hand raise to nice people, please just keep both hands on the wheel.

2. Do not tailgate back
The ‘eye for an eye’ approach to life does not work on the road. As tempting as it is to speed up and tailgate the tailgater – yeah, you like that cowboy? You still feel like Schumacher, do ya? – resist that powerful urge. Besides being dangerous and juvenille, you won’t be able to keep up and then you will just look really very small and foolish.

3. Slow down
So, in your trusty rear vision mirror, you’ve spotted a crazy gaining from behind. This is where I suddenly remember that the speed limit is the fastest possible limit, not the slowest. I slow right down to 40, maybe even 30. It’s never for long – that driver is past you and roaring away within seconds – but just knowing that I’ve provided a small hurdle of frustration in their day is often enough.

4. Try The Box
If you’re really lucky, other like-minded drivers will have spotted the hooligan as well. Working together you can then form a box around the culprit, trapping him inside as if he’s being followed by a traffic jam all of his own making. It’s great fun and, since you’re all only driving at 40km per hour, unlikely to end in tears.

5. Give a little wave
Of course, who could really be bothered constructing The Box? Just let the maniac glide on past and give him a little wave as he goes. ‘Yep, there you go, zipping in and out of traffic. You must be so ace at Mario Kart.’

Really, in any driving situation, the ‘heya thanks’ wave just works. On long journeys I’m often in danger of getting RSI my left hand is bobbing up and down so much. And don’t even get me started on the barely-perceptible finger-salute… love them country drivers.

So, how do you handle fight-ready drivers on the road? Do you get cranky like me or are you able to ignore them and concentrate on your own driving like a mature adult?

[Image by Susie Bauer of Revoluzzza who appears very happy to be a part of the Difficult People series after all]


Do you have a look?

I was surprised to learn last Friday (at an impromptu 'yay we survived the first week back at school' pool party) that apparently I have 'a look'.

Me. A look.

I've never considered that this could be the case, but I was assured by a very stylish  (all the School Mums I hang with are very stylish) friend that she "liked my look".

"Really?" I said, rather shocked. "What look is that?"

Apparently I have a "smart neutrals with a bit of a quirky boho" thing going on. Who knew?

I've improved a lot over the years, but I'm definitely more of an 'Avoider' shopper than a 'Selector'. When forced away from the shoes, handbags and jewllery (ie. fun) part of shopping, every garment I purchase answers 'no' to the following questions:

Is it fattening?
Is it restricting?
Does it highlight the fact that I have a footballers' neck?
Does it require ironing?
Is it faddish?
Do I look like mutton?
Does it look like mutton?
Do I already own 5 just like it?

Who would have thought that an Avoider Shopper could develop a unique and admired (oh, okay admired that one time) look? I'm joyous! So joyous, in fact, that I just went right ahead and created the above outfit using Polyvore. How very Fashion(ish) forward(ish) of me!

Are you a Selector or an Avoider dresser? How would you describe your own 'look'?


Edit 11.17 am 10/2

I've been reading through the comments (fab!) and I just had to pop back here to emphasise that this combo is skinny pants and a DRESS. There is no way I would ever, could ever wear skinny pants without a dress! Just so we're clear. The only problem with my new best friend Polydore is that all the clothes are skinny people sizes and the bodies are skinny people bodies. I am not a skinny person, a fact you can read about on my weight-loss blog 40 Skinny Street if you felt the urge to torture yourself through boredom.

The extra-curricular child

Mrs Woog wrote a great post today about the cost of raising children and the extra-cost of raising extra-curricular children. Hear hear, Woogsy!

The pressure on children and ourselves to be all singing, all dancing, all languages, all sporty, all musical, ‘all rounded’ uber-people is just incredible these days. I have always been very good at bypassing the kindergyming, jumping jacking, bee bop a wop bop todder classes. I just turned a blind eye to those sweet little ballerinas and the cute little boys with footy socks up to their armpits. But when the Tsunamis started school this year I found myself planning the following timetable:

Breathe in.

Mondays – (Maxi) Italian, 3.30pm at school.
Wednesdays – (The Badoo) Kinder dance, 10am / (Maxi) soceer training, 3.30pm at school
Thursdays – (Cappers) Jazz Ballet, 3.30pm at school
Fridays – (Cappers and Maxi) Brightsparks drama and dance, 3.30pm at school
Saturdays – (All) Swimming, 10 am at home / (Maxi and Cappers) Karate, 12 noon up the road / Soccer match, whenever, wherever

I kid you not, I'd even filled out the necessary 28 pages of enrolment forms I was that serious! I quickly came to my senses and talked to the children about what they really, really wanted to do. This eliminated soccer for Maxi before I even finished my sentence. Okay, so we won’t worry about pushing him into the ‘team sports’ thing for the third year in a row. Then I red penned the rest indiscriminately, arriving at the actual Term 1 2011 timetable.

Fridays – (Cappers and Maxi) Brightsparks drama and dance, 3.30pm at school.
Saturdays – (All) Swimming, 10 am at home / (Maxi and Cappers) Karate, 12 noon up the road

Breathe out!

How do you feel about all the extra-curricular activities available these days? Do you put a limit on your children’s activities? How's our taxi driving job working for you?

[Image via weheartit, please let me know if you know the original source.]


Edit: I wrote this post this morning to publish later in the week; read Woogsy's post in the arvo; edited my post to include a link to her; and then hit 'Publish' instead of 'Draft'.  Have you ever done that? So here we are with two posts in a day! And you will note from the date at the top that Blogger thinks it's 9/2 so what's that all about anyway! Ah well, enjoy! x


The only child

It's awful to admit... but I've always had a bit of a prejudice against only children.

Argh, don't kill me! I've worked hard to rid myself of this evilness but I will admit to still being a little suspicious of onlies. Isn't that just so nuts? It's actually hard to admit because I know it's probably going to (unintentionally) offend some parents of an only child. But I can't shy away from it and just know that I have never knowingly been actively prejudice towards an individual about anything in my entire life.

So I'll press on.

When I was small enough to not think badly of myself for thinking this way, but big enough to actually give it some thought... let's say I was ten... I remember thinking that the only children in my class were really needy. They just didn't seem to know how to be an easy friend. I distinctly remember being pressured to be friends with a girl because she told me she didn't have any sisters like I did. I felt sorry for her, we hung out, I was rigid in her company.

Later I decided that only children were really hard to get on with because they didn't seem to know how to share like other kids did. A lesson that I was taught from dot had to be told again and again and again to the onlies. Yes, the stereotypes surrounding 'lonely onlies' seemed present at an early age.

Then, when I grew up a bit, I realised that a lot of my childhood feelings towards onlies boiled down to jealousy. I wished I didn't have to share either. I wished that I had all of my parents' attention like they had theirs. I wished it was just me, me, me. Me. Me.

I think we've all wished that at some stage.

Later, I dated an only child. The pressure. I know it wasn't intentional, but his parents were both just so into him and being his girlfriend was such hard work. I realised then that only children have pressures that I would most likely never understand and certainly would never know.

Now that I'm a grown up I still have my prejudices. They're hard to get rid of. I boast that I can pick an only child adult on sight (which is bollocks, but then prejudice is always bollocks). Deep down I still think only children are a little bit grabbier than the rest of us. I still think they learn a lot of lessons that the rest of us learn quickly and simply through our siblings much harder and sometimes later: sharing, humility, conditional love, managing anger... stuff. But I also note that only children are often better at stuff than the rest of us too. They seem more creative, worldly, independent, starry. Of course, many times they are also far more generous and humble than those of us with hordes of siblings too. I've definitely learned that!

These days I also know that the majority of people don't set out to have just one child. (Even the woman who told me years ago that they had decided to only have one child so they could 'focus' went on to have another some eight years after the first... which I think we can all admit was as very good thing indeed.) Some do, of course, and I am always interested to hear their reasoning (and I promise that I will listen without judgement!). But most don't. Most have a heartbreaking story or two that goes with having just one child and I'll bet that story is part of the reason why only children grow up to be so darn amazing.

These days, despite my suspicions, I realise that it takes all kinds of families to make up a wonderful society. And I'm quite certain that 'lonely onlies' aren't really so lonely after all.

What made you decide to have more than one child or just the one? Are you an only child yourself? Do you think it even matters?

I rewound this post at Weekend Rewind on 6.8.2011

[Image via weheartit]

Bling on love

My simply scrummy friend Felicity of Gifts of Serendipity and I are linking up to bring you a fun and fabulous Valentine's Day linky.

Now, we know that love is not all about the bling. But it kind of is.

So, during this week in the lead up to Valentine's Day, we'd love you to do a post on your favourite bit of 'luuuuuuurve bling'. Your jewel might be an Engagement or Wedding ring, but it might also be a special little bauble that your man has lovingly bestowed during your love journey.* If you like, you can share 'your story' in the post as well.

So, write your post anytime before or on 14 February and on Valentine's Day Felicity and I will have the Blog Hop linky up on our blogs. Link up and hop along to oooooh and aaaaahhhh over each others' goodies. Add our Blingy Button as well if you can.
Maxabella loves...
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Maxabella loves..." target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Maxabella loves..." style="border:none;" /></a></div>

My picture above is of my wedding and engagement rings (remind me to at least slap on a bit of hand cream before my next EXTREME HAND CLOSE UP! I look eighty!). They are actually a 'step up' wedding and engagement ring because when we actually got engaged we were in London, mid-travel and rather penniless. So I had a simple Cartier ring (obviously not penniless penniless!) as my 'substitute' engagement ring until we decided we could afford something more... solitaire. I designed my rings myself and I adore, no wait, ADORE them. When I first wore them I could hardly drive as I kept getting distracted by the 'dancing lights'. Couldn't take my eyes of them.

So, join in the Vali Day fun and share your wares! Post sometime this week and link your post on 14 Feb.

* Note my 'Love Doctor' language. All for the smoozy smoochy smoonchiness that is Valentine's Day.

Disclaimer: With apologies to my darling co-host, Felicity, I must reveal that Valentine's Day and I are generally not lovers. Greedy, vacuous, try-hard Valentine's Day... I would kick it out of bed in a heartbeat.

But, hey, any excuse to fling the bling, right?!!


Loving the alphabet, revitalised

Here's a little something I fell in love with via Shanon's weekend links last week. 

n9ve's gorgeous Alphabet for typography lovers!

The Alphabet from n9ve on Vimeo.

The Tsunamis love this one!


This week I'm grateful for... confidence

Three long years of swimming lessons.

By December 2010 he was still clinging to the steps, floaties on, bubble on; fearful, reluctant, stubborn, his hair dry. By January 2011 he is leaping unaided into the deep end to fetch rings at the bottom of the pool. Amazing stuff.

One thing changed: he was visited by our dear friend Confidence.

I think I can do it.

I know I can do it.

I'm going to do it.

This time I'm really going to do it.

Look, Mum! I'm doing it! I'm really doing it!

So, this week, I'm grateful for...

1. Confidence - thank you for showing my boy that he can conquer his fears and learn new loves.

2. My children's school - our second year in a row that you have taken a anxious Kinder child gently by the hand and embraced them with the joy of school life. You are a wonderful bunch of teachers, staff and families and we are lucky to have you.

3. Zooper Doopers - without you I would have exploded in the heat.

So, what's making you smile today? Grab my I'm grateful for... button from my sidebar if you like, add your I'm Grateful For post below and please add a link back to me in your post. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine. Happy day to you!


P.S. Michelle from Mummy From the Heart runs a 'Reasons to be Cheerful' linky on Fridays. 
It's like the British version of 'I'm grateful for...' (and 'cheerful' seems such a very British word all of a sudden, doesn't it?). Pop over and link up to say hi.*
Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy From the Heart

* Phew. Managed to nicely resist the urge to write 'g'day' there. I'm inflicted with a terrible urge to say 'g'day' whenever I encounter foreigners. It is not an expression I would ever dream of using in my day to day life. Embarrassing.


Dealing with Difficult People #7: Yummy Mummies

Now, settle. I'm not talking about a mother who takes care of herself and pride in her appearance. I think we all like to think that we keep ourselves nice. I'm talking about capital Y Yummies who care about nothing except the way they and their offspring look. They half-sneer (all they can manage due to their recent 'bowie') at anyone who doesn't wear heels on the school run and throw scorn at those who are less genetically and artifically blessed.

I think I've mentioned previously that whenever I see a Yummy Mummy I just want to stuff her into her Prada nappy bag and run over her with a Bugaboo pram.  It's not because they have coiffed nails and manicured hair. It's not because they have prams that need regular servicing. It's not even because their bums are so rock hard they don't even sway when they're running behind said pram.

No, it's not even that.

It's because they are so busy being Yummy that they often forget to be Mummy. Hence, at the playgroup you find yourself in charge of twenty kids while the Yummies sip herbal tea and compare spray tans. Hence, at the park you find yourself with extra kids to push on the swing, catch on the slippery dip and nose-wipe every two minutes. Hence, at the school gate you find yourself waiting patiently with extra children while Yummy is late yet again doing whatever it is that she does.

I yelp at the sight of one of them coming my way, furiously pushing her screaming baby while her iPod shuts out the world. Oh, what to do with those Yummy Mummies?

1. Don't become the Dummy Mummy
If you find yourself idly wondering how your new friend Yummy keeps her nails and clothes looking so groomed when she has 3 kids under 4, remember this: the reason she looks so good is because other people take care of the messiness of her children. Trust me, you don't want to become her other people so resist the urge to parent her children for her. Yes, you will feel bad that Axel has desperately been trying to get his mother to notice him for the past fifteen minutes, but not as bad as you will feel when you say 'Yes, Axel?' on her behalf that one time and suddenly find yourself with a new child called Axel.

2. Don't reveal shared interests
There's no denying that we are all a little jealous of how perfumed and pretty Yummy is. But never reveal your  weakness. Even though I have been known to visit beautydressers and hairtherapists myself, I make a point of loudly proclaiming what a waste of money I think regular salon visits are. I feel no shame in being such a hypocrite, in fact I use my most booming voice. If I'm feeling particularly mean I might go on to whine that it is money that could be used to fund programs like Bear Cottage at Westmead Children's Hospital. Those poor, underfunded children, suffering because Yummy needs french nails.

3. Dress down, baby down, down, down
A bit like our strategy for dealing with those Competitive types, you want to downplay any semblance of your own yumminess. This way you take the importance of looking photo-ready at every opportunity just right out of the equation. If you simply don't care one jot about appearances, Yummy has nothing on you. NOTHING.

4. The 'you have time for that?' defense
"Oh, hi Yummy Mummy. So nice that you've got time to get your nails done and a weekly 'blow out', but some of us are too busy editing our memoirs, portrait painting for the Archibald and teaching your child to read on Friday mornings for such fripperies. Would love to stay and natter, but I'm just off to collect my OAM for services to volunteering after I stop by the Chemist for some Ural... been very busy, you know?"

5. The ultimate 'since becoming a mummy' defense
This is where you confess that you were the yummiest thing in town before becoming a mummy. Oh scoff, this is no lie. We were all technically yummier before the stretch-marks and jelly bellies hunted us down. Maybe not the best thing going, but in our heads we were, right?

So, Once Was Yummy, but now you are so enamored with your cherished children that trivial things like yumminess have been thrown aside like last season's Gucci handbag. Back then you were concerned with the materialistic and the superficial, but now you've embraced the concept of role modelling and you don't want your daughter or son to grow up with, shhhhh, body image issues. Now you have seen the light and are a much better and happier person for it. In fact, you are quite convinced you have found heaven on earth you are so darn happy since becoming a mummy. Just look at your beaming smile and contented eye twitch.

They're hardly on the endangered list, so I know you know some Yummies. 
Would you confess to being one yourself? How do you handle yourself/ other Yummies?

[Image by Suse Bauer and her fabulous Revoluzzza creations]


PSSSSSST... Today is the last chance to enter the writing course giveaway at the Fibro. Click on the image. Don't miss this fantastic opportunity to express yourself with educational feedback!!