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When will I ever learn?

I'm too personal.

I shouldn't write about others the way I do.

I say stuff lightly that others can't lift.

I wish I didn't link to Beth in my post last week. I've regretted it ever since. I was being light (and I felt light  - I loved Beth's post, which is why I linked to it) but some people didn't see it that way and I regret that.

Some of the comments on my Follows Back post also made me realise that I can be too harsh and judgemental.

I try not to be judgey. But I just am. Maybe I'm a bit of a nasty bully after all. The thought of that makes my heart soggy.*

So, apologies to my dear friend Beth. She knows I love her, but now you do too.

And apologies to the Follows Back people. I shouldn't have judged.

I'm not going to be posting for a while. I'm a bit tired of myself, to be honest.

Happy days to you!


* Thank you, Maxi-Taxi, for describing so well a feeling that is mostly indescribable.

[Image found (rather randomly!) here]



Myrtle and Eunice described them as 'scratchy' days. The ones where from the minute you wake up, life is difficult. Everything is noisy. Nothing goes to plan. You bump and claw and drag yourself though the entire day.

The children don't help.

On scratchy days the children are diabolical. The whinging alone is like fingers down a blackboard and then you can add the squabbling. They're like cats in a barn fighting for territory. You spend most of the morning sorting out a rumble over a doll that is tossed to the side within minutes. Everyone is crying because so and so touched them on the leg or walked near their room or used the purple texta. No one can sit still for more than five minutes so the house wriggles like a bag of maggots.

The walls close in.

You throw them outside to play. They stand on the back deck smearing at the glass doors begging to be taken away from this sunshiney, fresh-air prison. "We just want to draaaaaaaaw," they whinge. You open a window and toss out a box of crayons.

A quick lie down on the couch does nothing. You can hear them bleating outside through the glass and, let's face it, it's been a car crash of a morning and you're all scratchy too. A small tear escapes.

You drag yourself off the couch. It's an effort to stand.

You know what you have to do.

You throw a bottle of water and some apples into a bag. "Get your shoes on," you screech. Everyone gets bundled into the car and off you go. They fight like Tysons the entire way there and your head almost explodes from the effort of concentrating on the road. Fuck, you think, fucking fuckety fuck.

Once there, you all spill out of the car like curdled milk. There is a silent pause as you survey the grumpiness of each other. It's the first time they've stopped talking since sunrise. "Well, go on," you urge. "Let's go and have some fun".

You explore the fire trails, ride the flying fox, push the swing 127 times, slide down a slippery dip and play noughts and crosses. They climb a tree and laugh and play and delight in each others' company once more. There is only one scuffle over whose turn it is on the slippery dip (the bruises will heal). A slight breeze carries the scent of Spring and the sound of your laughter. Life is suddenly do-able.

Scratchiness. Only fresh air can cure it.

What do you do with scratchy days?

[Image found here]


This week I'm grateful for... play dates

Unsurprisingly, a couple of people unfollowed me after yesterday's post. I'm not supposed to know that, am I? I'm not even supposed to care, right? Okay... moving right along...

This week I'm grateful for...

169. Play dates - I do love shuffling mine off to someone else, but I especially love having the players at our place. The privilege of watching what my Tsunamis get up to with their friends is one I relish. So, yes, I am a Spy Mum (but apparently not very good at it according to Cappers who caught me lurking!)

170. Takeaways - We like a trip to Maccas as a treat (mandatory when we are on the road to Gran and Pops, apparently) and LOML and I enjoy a home delivery from a favourite restaurant most weeks, but that's pretty much it for us and takeaways. But tonight we're off to a mate's place for takeaway pizza and it's just such an easy, welcoming way to entertain that I can only say 'more please!'.

171. Childhood - for the reasons above and all the rest of the reasons that make my heart swell. Watching our children find their place in the world is magic. I recall being considerably less concerned about my own childhood than I am about my children's... there's something in that...

So, what's making you smile today? Add your Grateful post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is one about being grateful, not just a random), add the button (grab the code from my sidebar and paste it into your post) and pretty-please add a link back to the list. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine.

[Image by Anna Moller and found on Momfilter]



I don't know about you, but seeing **FOLLOWS BACK** just makes me wince.

If you're a faithful oldie around Maxabella loves... (and by that I mean you've been visiting me long enough to have become bored with my sidebar long ago) you probably didn't notice that a little while ago I took the 'Google Friend' count off the side of my blog. I didn't remove the actual button because I love being able to 'follow' a blog myself, but I didn't want to have to worry about the numbers anymore.

I'm so tired of the numbers.

When I first started blogging, Flog Yo Blog Friday (at the time hosted by Mummytime and then by RRSAH and now by her Glowness) was a godsend. It's a lovely linky that really helps a newbie (and an oldie) to get to know other blogs they might like. There is none of that *FOLLOWS BACK* nonsense, although I did just notice that there is a pretty long list of participation rules going on lately, most of which involve needing to follow one person or another. But, regardless, it's just a really nice linky.

A lot of American blogs (and apologies if I'm generalising here but they do seem to mostly be American) seem to only do giveaways and 'linky party' posts. Both the giveaways and 'linky parties' have lots and lots of rules about following the blog and then following this person and then skipping two extra people and following the third and then the sixth and then... Sheesh, what are those 'linky parties' all about anyway? It's like there are blogs out there that exist just to link up to other blogs.

I kinda got into trouble with a blogger recently because I didn't bow down when she added my Grateful linky to her 'list of linky parties' page on her blog. I was kind of annoyed, actually, because there were all these **FOLLOWS BACK** bloggers coming over from her page and I had to keep removing them. They didn't bother to write an actual 'grateful' post, they just linked up their latest psalm post and I was supposed to be happy about that. So not happy.

It's hard to get your blog out there, I know that.* But do they really just want people to 'follow' them for the sake of saying they have more followers? What's the bloody point? Is it because of all the sponsorship business? Can't PR / Advertising companies see straight through all that marlarky anyway? I'd much rather have a magazine blog than a billboard blog. And by that I mean 'readers' rather than 'traffic'.

I dunno. I just know I'm so tired of the freaking numbers.

Do you worry about your 'stats'?
Is it because of a PR angle or is it something else?
How many blogs do you follow? Do you 'follow back'?


* But if after all of that if you're still interested in the numbers, here's a little tip for bumping your name up the list that I only just realised. I used to have an ♥ symbol next to my blog name Maxabella loves... which was fiddly so I removed it about a month ago. Then I realised that I couldn't tell the difference between my newly installed Instagram page (also Maxabella loves) and my blog page in my browser, so I put a non-fiddly asterix before my blog name. Guess whose blog is number one in most people's lists of blogs they follow... that's right, it's * me!

[Image of the Pied Piper by Eugenio Recuenco]


Making me laugh

It is a truth universally believed by me that the ability to laugh at yourself is the best ability there is. Life is funny and we are the funniest things in it. I get a right good crack up out of my own stupidity, gaffes or seeming inability to spell SpHinx on a daily basis. It seems science is finally cottoning onto my universal truth - if you can laugh at yourself you're apparently more cheerful and less serious (Really! The things they learn through research! It's amazing! Exclamation!).

Toushka wrote a post last Friday that perfectly showcased why laughing at yourself is the best medicine there is. Caz had a great laugh at her "mummy brain" on Saturday. Mrs Woog does it daily.

I think my mother would be breathing a sigh of relief as she reads this post (hi Mum!). When I was a youngster, I took myself very, very seriously. Very serious. I used to actually cry when my Mum encouraged me to laugh at myself, I think I thought that admitting my failures was the biggest failure of all and heaven forbid you expect me to actually draw attention to them. I was just so embarrassed to admit any kind of weakness or failing.  Like some kind of weird android.

These days I've grown up and my own humiliation is something I think is ridiculously funny. Making myself laugh is one of my favourite past times. I'm glad I grew up. I grew up, had a bloody good laugh and now spend my days encouraging a (crying) Cappers to laugh at herself. She is very, very serious... Very serious.

Can you laugh at yourself?

[Image by *Cinnamon]


Mysterious bullies

Like most parents, I spend a good deal of time worrying about bullying. Worried that my Tsunamis may one day fall victim to a group of bullies, yes. But perhaps even more concerned that one day they might take it on themselves to become one.

I know in my heart of hearts that my sweet little cherubs would never intentionally hurt someone else. They know it's wrong to tease and judge others and from a young age we've shown them how important it is to stand up for the little guy. But there is a little argy-bargy happening amongst the Cappers' friends and I do think from time to time "Heaven help me, I don't want to be raising a Mean Girl."

How will I know? How does anyone know?

I've never met an adult who admits to being a bully.

I know lots of people who were bullied, but I don't know anyone who says they bullied them.

Why is that?

I look back on my own childhood and teenagedom and I don't think I was ever a Mean Girl. If I did, it's not something I remember. Is that what happens? Bullies just forget? Is the act of bullying only significant to the victim? Is it 'just another day' to the bully? That's a right worry, that is.

I was fortunately enough to escape the cruelty of bullying, but people close to me weren't so lucky. I often used to wonder if their bullies ever felt sorry for what they had done.

Nowadays I just wonder if their bullies even acknowledge it.

Are they adults who admit to being bullies, or do they also express disbelief and deny they could ever do such a thing? Do they feel the burden of responsibility for the way they changed a life?

Where do bullies go?

Did you ever bully anyone? How do you feel about that today?
Were you the victim of a bully and did they ever apologise?
Anonymous comments welcome.

[Image by Mi Zhang found here]


Too hot, too cold

I was out at the pub the other night and they had the heater inside cranked up to 40 degrees and a fire going. Man, it was stifling in there. A couple of us elected to take our chances in the garden.

Outside it was freezing, despite the outdoor heaters and the warmth from a hundred lit-ciggies. But I was much happier there than being closeted inside a too-warm room.

I much prefer to be too cold than too hot.*

How about you?

* I assure you this post is not related to yesterday's post.

[Image from here]


Everybody's doing it

Everybody's writing about the sex they are not having thanks to this young(enough) lady. Suddenly the blogs are alive with the sound of women lamenting their inability to have sex with their husbands after children.


That SO didn't come out right. I meant 'have sex with their husbands since having children'... oh, you know what I mean.

This is one of those topics that fall into the 'letting it all hang out' category. Kerrie is the queen of this particular blogging category. She often posts on the ups and going-downs of her sex life. She's really funny, especially when she talks about her husbie wanting it A LOT more than she does, but I'm actually amazed at the number of women who have commented on some of these posts saying how grateful they are that someone is finally talking about this issue.


Is it really an 'issue' we need to 'discuss'? Because as far as I'm concerned the only person you really need to talk to about your lack of sex is your partner. Although I was extremely happy to read this post over at Peta-Jo's dealing with the fact that some guy who Peta-Jo's husband works with (yeah, yeah, I know) actually pays his wife to have sex with him. He gets two freebies a month and then it's $50 a go, apparently, so she's a lot cheaper than a hooker.

Anyway, as I said on Baby Mac's post, if you're not having enough sex then forgodsake just have sex already. Stop over-analysing it or fretting about it or avoiding it or feeling guilty about it. It's definitely one of those things in life where less talk, more action is required. Just get naked and get close up.  Amazing things happen, sometimes two amazing things in one night.*

Just don't tell me about it afterwards, okay?

Do you want to hear about other people's sex lives?
Do you think it's an issue that needs discussing?
And do you think you'd put out more if your partner paid you?

* And thank you so much for sharing that, Beth.

[Image found here]


This week I'm grateful for... ribbons

Cappers Kazoo finally consented to a hair cut a week or so ago. About half her hair got lopped off and it's changed my life. Time in the morning that I used to spend hair wrangling I now spend making intricate works of art out of clay and wire. Well, not really, but I no longer feel quite so guilty for spending an extra 10 minutes in bed. A couple of brushes, a ponytail and out she goes.

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

166. Ribbons - I've come to realise that there isn't a knot in existence that a sweet little ribbon can't deflect. A little girl with a ribbon looks cared for.

167. Two Minute Noodles - they might actually take more like four minutes in the microwave on high, but they're just really yummy, especially if you melt some cheese on them to really amp up the fattyboomsticks pleasure. Maybe it's 'two minutes to finish eating them' noodles?

168. Fattyboomsticks - it's just a really great, almost onomatopoeic word.

So, what's making you smile today? Add your Grateful post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is one about being grateful, not just a random), add the button (grab the code from my sidebar and paste it into your post) and pretty-please add a link back to me. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine.

[Image found here]


What would Karl Pilkington do?

Writing about travel and the Spinx Effect the other night put Karl Pilkington back in my head. And now I can't get him out.

Every now and then you watch a show on television that stays with you. LOML and I nearly choked laughing at An Idiot Abroad on SBS a little while back. For the sake of the children, it got to the point where, like plane travel, we considered whether it might be best if we watched the show separately.

We got sucked into what was really a very long, very involved, rather absurd practical joke disguised as a travel show. Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant sent their morose, 'everyman' mate, Karl Pilkington, well out of his comfort zone and around the Seven Wonders of the World. He's the sort of guy who you could imagine living his whole life within a 2 block radius of where he grew up. It's nice there, why would you go any further?

Clearly, he was never meant to travel. He is obviously intelligent, but he's funny because he is so utterly unadabtable to the situations he finds himself in. He's a lot like the Blues Point Tower on Sydney Harbour, actually.

I think his honesty is what makes him such an unlikely star. We're not used to seeing someone on the tele who calls a spade a spade. Doesn't want to talk it into being a shovel. Doesn't want to dress it up with a bow. It's just a spade - what's wrong with that?  He is keenly observant and responds to the world without any trace of irony or filter. The world comes to Karl, he doesn't go to the world. Of the Great Wall of China he said "not that great, to be honest – if I named it, it’d be the All right Wall" and "Just goes for miles and miles....but so does the M6." You can find many other classic 'Karls' here. He's such a phenomenon that he even has his own 'Pilkipedia'.

He is indeed an unlikely poet. Karl is basically what would happen if you stripped away every trace of political correctness or cultural understanding in the world and then made the world about five years old. While most of us are adaptable chameleons, Karl is a dugong.

Karl would definitely understand the Sphinx Effect. I think Karl's whole life is probably best described by the Sphinx Effect. This is the man who decided not to walk the last 100 metres to stand at Machu Picchu because "the view is better from here". He is both refreshing and depressing in equal parts. Refreshing because it's just so grand to see someone so blatantly honest and unbound by societal convention (and he's funny, whether intentional or not). Depressing because, well, he really, really is.

Have you met Karl?
Do you find him oddly refreshing?
Do you know anyone like Karl? Can I meet them?

[Image can be found here]


The Sphinx Effect

All this talk on my blog about what's 'real'. I remember when LOML and I first saw The Sphinx in Egypt and it was beyond disappointing. You know how you see all those Egyptian photos like this...

... and the Sphinx looks really enormous?

Well, it's not.

It's only about the size of a truck - a bit bigger than dump truck, a bit smaller than a Pajero. Having associated this gigantic Sphinx with the majesty of Egypt for so long it was... disappointing to find that one could walk around it in about 15 seconds. The pyramids were at least 100 times bigger.

From that moment on when something on our travels did not live up to its reputation, we decided it was suffering from "The Sphinx Effect".

The Sphinx Effect was in operation across the world.

Big Ben was... just a clock and not a particularly big one at that. Having viewed it for herself and finding it afflicted by The Sphinx Effect, my mother continues to call it 'Little Ben' to this day.

Have you ever been to the Pantheon in Rome?

It looks like a building worthy of some space and landscaping, right? Sadly it's actually cramped into the busiest piazza imaginable and the stunning view above is achieved through the doors of the Maccas 5 metres across the road.

While there are many, many other examples of the Sphinx Effect in operation, we'll stay in Italy and visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Again, looks huge. Reality is that it is just a rather small marble bell tower that was lucky enough to be built on sinking land. Due to the Sphinx Effect and the fact that the attraction is plagued with health and safety issues, I am worried that its days as a popular tourist destination may be numbered.

The Manneken Pis, Den Lille Havfrue, Stonehenge, the Spanish Steps, Venus de Milo... and The Sphinx Effect is not even exclusive to the not-so-wonders of the world. So much of life is afflicted by it. A longed for party that turns out to be excruciatingly dull? Sphinx Effect. A 'you've got to meet her, you'll really, really like her' person* who you 'really, really don't'? Sphinx Effect.

I could go on. Let's face it, life is disappointing and the Sphinx Effect is rampant. 
Have you had any memorable encounters?

* It is my experience that whenever someone says this to you about someone, you really must go out of your way not to meet them. It never ends well.


Edited at 9.45pm: I originally published this post with Sphinx spelt incorrectly as Spinx no less than THIRTEEN times.  I don't think I need to explain why I changed it...

[Den Lille Havfrue image from here; Sphinx image by Jerry Burns; Little Ben found here; View of the Pantheon from Maccas found here; Pisa leaning from here]  


Defining 'real'

My post yesterday had an amazingly positive reaction from everyone... but oddly enough reading back over what I said has left me feeling a bit hollow. I think there is more to this.

Because what does 'letting it all hang out' even mean exactly?

A blog I newly discovered yesterday was kind enough to tag me in her post. In it she questioned the normality of people like Rachel Zoe and her newly minted baby Skyler (seemingly brought to the world sponsored by Gucci, Louis Vuitton et al). Or whether Jennifer Hawkins was 'keeping it real' as the Marie Claire cover girl left untouched to show body flaws and body acceptance. Another blogger I love wondered why SJP had staged a photo shoot to imply that she was a 'hands on' mum. And many who commented on my post yesterday defined 'real' as being brave enough to reveal a messy house or even a messy soul. To put it all out there into the blogisphere and wait to see what comes back.

But what is real?

Rachel Zoe and SJP's reality is certainly different to mine. But are they any less real because they have loads of cash and live in a world of designer clothes and accessories? Just because they have a nanny, are they really 'pretending to be real' when they talk about being a mother?

I'm sure Jennifer Hawkins flaws are very real to her. Was she any less brave to do what she did because we think her face and body are flawless? Surely you're allowed to be beautiful and real at the same time.

As much as I know that they are not 'reality', would I really want to look at 'Home Reals' instead of 'Home Beautifuls'? Just look at the pictures I choose for my blog!

In reality, are the 'over-styled' blogs and lives that I enjoy banging on about so much any less real to the people who created them?

I guess I don't know their reality. They don't reveal it. But maybe that's the point.

Some bloggers are amazingly candid and their lives are open for all. I admire that, but I don't think that's necessarily the only way to 'keep it real' on the blogs. When I get stuck into a great blog, all I really ask is for honesty, self-expression and ownership. I just want that blogger to be proud to be themselves.

For me, my blog is as real as me (I've written about this before). I don't share anything on here that I wouldn't share in person. I like my world to look good and smell good and I guess my blog looks good and smells good too. I'm an honest writer, I write exactly how I talk (minus the swearing!).  Sometimes I write things that I choose not to share but it's no more or less than I share in any other aspect of my life.

My house is not particularly messy. My life is not particularly messy. If 'messy' is what's real, then I don't really have a lot to say. Unlike more personal 'day in the life' sort of blogs, I don't really write about my everyday life, so you don't really know what my 'every day' is like. But I'm authentic, I'm me, I don't hold me back one little bit.

I don't cover up the cracks.

I don't 'theme' my life.

I don't pretend to be something I'm not.

I don't shy away from the hard bits.*

I don't back up the truck.

I think you can always tell when a blogger isn't being true to themselves but I guess what I'm trying to say is that it takes all kinds of people to make a world and it takes all those kinds of to make a blogging world too.

If you live a little bit in your dreams, then of course you're dreamy in blogland and I'm delighted to dream alongside you.

If you 'blog light' and share only what you want to, then I'm just honoured that you shared at all.

And if you 'blog heavy' and reveal more of yourself on your blog than anywhere else, I guess part of me is wondering why, but the bigger part is very, very glad.

So, if it's okay by you, I'll repeat what I said yesterday, but with a very important qualifier.

So, keep letting it all hang out there, bloggers of the world. I embrace you and the wind you threw your caution to.... Because the very act of blogging is brave. No matter how you choose to express yourself. No matter how deep you choose to go. 

Blogging is brave. But living is even braver. Why should blogging be 'more real' than life?

What does 'real' mean to you?

* Most of the time.

[Image found here]


Not just for losers

I understand that many bloggers like to keep their blogs as their 'happy place'. They feel that the good memories are the ones worth recording and their blogs reflect that. I get it, sort of.

But in a lot of ways, I can get a big slap of 'happy place' from women's magazines, where newborns are all 'angels' and celebpretties wax lyrical about their tiny thighs and enormous meals. The same women's magazines that made me feel like a fat loser all through teenagedom and an even fatter loser after that.

A loser because I didn't have a boyfriend. A loser because I didn't have straight hair. A loser because I couldn't afford designer clothes, a personal trainer, a salon wax, frosted tips or, during the early nineties, Hammer pants. A loser because... well, I was me.

Easy solution: I stopped buying those stupid mags in my late twenties and never really looked back. Oh, okay, I swapped my addiction to women's mags for my addiction to house porn, but you've gotta start somewhere right? See, now I'm just a loser because of my house. It's not really about me any more.

Intellectually I'm aware that those house porn mags 'fake it' (loving the connotations attached to that sentence!). Intellectually I know that they back the truck up full of the latest and greatest and practically shove the featured family out of the way to create their 'styled casual' home for them. But emotionally, I'm attached to that idea of 'the perfect family home' that looks like that all the time. Emotionally I believe that there are families out there that live with all-white furnishings that stay white; that their children's toys are only made of wooden and recycled tyres. Families that exist in colour-coordinated clothes that don't clash with their smearless red Smeg fridge and matching crumbless toaster.

So, intellectually, we get it; emotionally we just plain want it. Marketing geeks (of which I am one) call it 'aspirational marketing' and, I'm telling you, they go out of their way to make you feel like what you've got right now isn't good enough. There's great stuff in the world and you're not it.

Fortunately my new 'happy place' is the land of the smoodgy, smudgy, smidgy world of beautiful blogs that are real and honest and true. The happy and the WTFHT*? As much as I love a styled 'occasion', I love even more the flaws, the mishaps, the madness and the muddy mess of life. I often wonder why I visit the over-styled blogs when I've got my house porn to keep me feeling sufficiently loserish (there is a book out there called 'The Perfectly Imperfect Home' - I kid you not! Get a life!). I just don't need the blog world to turn on me as well. So, keep letting it all hang out there, bloggers of the world. I embrace you and the wind you threw your caution to.

Do you let it all hang out? Or do you hang back a little? 
Is your blog your happy place?

* What The Fuck Happened There?

[Image by schorlem├Ądchen]


I said to my Tsunamis this morning, "We are each wearing something red today to honour a little boy called Daniel."

"Daniel from school?" Cappers asked.

"No, this is a Daniel we never met, but his family need our support today and they like the colour red."

"Will Daniel know we're wearing red?"

"No, Daniel won't know. No one will really know, except for us and maybe for other people wearing red. But it matters anyway."

"Why does it matter? Who is Daniel?" Maxi asked.

I thought for a while. I wasn't sure how I was going to manage this one. "Daniel is a little boy who died when he shouldn't have died," I finally said.

"How did he die?" Maxi wanted to know.

"He died near a road," I answered.

"Did he forget to look before he crossed the road?"

"Yes," I answered simply. "He must have forgotten to look."

And some things we will never see, no matter how hard we look. They strike out of nowhere for no reason, for no good and we cannot see them coming.

Yes, we are each wearing something red today to honour a little boy called Daniel.

[Image via weheartit]


The alternative of... me

I've just finished reading In My Skin by Kate Holden. It's a searingly honest book and so beautifully written that at times it felt like a volume of poetry. I could go on for a bit about the insights gained into the prostitute / junkie world, but weirdly enough the biggest take-out I had from the book was a throwaway paragraph early on where Kate mentioned that her family started their own school with a couple of other families.

Isn't that amazing?

I'm so admiring of people who manage to do extraordinarily unique things. Those who carve out a new way to live their life their way. Who don't care what 'everyone' thinks of them, they are too busy just getting on with this business of living truthfully and creatively. Kids aren't coping at the school up the road? Getting bullied, judged as odd? No matter, we'll just make our own school with our own idea of cool and they'll totally fit in. Will we care that they are still 'odd' sorts of kids to everyone else? Hell no! We'll just ignore everyone else and it won't matter a bit!

Sick of everyone judging your child on their gender alone? Let's just not let anyone know whether Storm* is a boy or a girl.

I do wonder sometimes how I got to be so utterly mainstream. For as long as I can remember I've always embraced difference in others and I'm fascinated by anyone who plays by their own rules. It's why I chose that great Ralph Waldo Emerson quote as number seven and Oscar Wilde as number four. As a youth I always thought of myself as a bit of a reckless, poet-type, but of course it was all in my head. I have never been anything even remotely resembling alternative. Creative, yes. Alternative, not so much. In fact, when I said to LOML the other night 'let's throw it all in and live off the grid' we both just laughed and laughed.


In my dreams I am always exactly that type of person. Artistic, creative, hippie, bohemian, earthed. Ah, who am I kidding? Is it even possible to call yourself a bohemian when you're working for the man and, really, it's not too bad? Is it possible to call yourself artistic when lately the most you've creatively stretched yourself was icing cupcakes for the kinder class? Is it possible to be alternative when you're addicted to your dryer and consider vintage shopping somewhat painful? If you decorate your home in what you think is an eclectic, me sort of style but everyone comments on how successfully you've merged 'French Provincial' and 'Hamptons'**? If you secretly think that gender or none, Storm is a really a rather awful name for a person?

Is it possible?

* Boy or girl, something tells me Storm is going to need s/he's own school someday...
** Seriously. How's my life?


PS - My family will be wearing red tomorrow for Daniel's family. A red cardigan for me. Red socks for my husbie. A red shirt for little one. Red undies for my big one and a red ribbon slashed against a blue school uniform for my middle one. For all sorts of reasons, Daniel will always be remembered.

[Image flogged off Dottie Angel - for she is a true artistic spirit, living an individual life; red shirt image found here]


This week I'm grateful for... near misses

It was a week of near misses for me. Some minor (I did that 'leaping through the closing doors of the train thing' on Thursday); some major (hellllooo Cappers, the Trampoline and the Ankle).

Gets you thinking, that does.

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

163. Near misses - 'what could have been' is always a moment that makes me question the role of fate in our life. It's a shame I get a bit queasy whenever I see Gwynnie these days as I have a sudden urge to watch Sliding Doors again!

164. Being spoiled - such a lovely birthday week for me. That LOML of mine, he sure knows how to treat a girl. A little pile of Tiffany boxes, pictures he framed himself and a surprise afternoon tea. I love that husbie of mine all the way to Mars and back to Venus. I cannot get enough of him. 

165. Riding the gravy train - can you believe there is another restructure at my work right now? This is number four in nine months. Madness! Luckily I am a very adept corporate passenger these days and I'm just looking out the window, enjoying the changing viewpoints.

So, what's making you smile today? Add your Grateful post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is one about being grateful, not just a random), add the button (grab the code from my sidebar and paste it into your post) and pretty-please add a link back to me. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine.

[Image found here]


Things I filter (just)

I think it's fairy obvious that I suffer from a condition known as Speakbeforeuthinkitis. I never quite caught onto the idea of applying a filter between my every thought and my mouth. So, if it's in the head, it's as good as said.

Ever wondered why I schedule my posts? Well, now you know. Scheduling allows me a little buffer between writing and actually publishing. It's a buffer that I have indeed relied on from time to time.

I thought I'd share a list of topics that I've written about, but have decided not to publish. Some are too controversial, some I was writing ahead of really knowing what I wanted to say, others are merely boring even beyond my usual dullness.

I think the subjects alone make you realise how important that filter is and what a dehabilitating condition Speakbeforeuthinkitis can be.

The worst mother in the school*
Why I don't do sponsored posts
What religion means to me
The most boring job in the world**
The mean side of blogging
Committed to social media
The falseness of make-up

There you have it. A trip through the less-than-delightful unpublished drafts folder of Maxabella loves...  All posts I spent a little time on that will most likely never see the light of day. Hmmmm... most likely.

Do you have 'unpublished' posts?
What sort of topics did you shy away from?

* A perfectly fine topic if you are writing about yourself, of course.
** Darn, just realised I published this one on Monday. Sorry about that - the filter is obviously a little rosy from time to time...

[Image created by Carol Rivello and found here]


Ten on Ten: August

I've been talking about my appalling photography skills for as long as I've been blogging. In January I also promised myself that I would try to get better at it this year.

So, it's August now, which means it must be time to do something about my new year's resolutions. I'm joining in with A Bit of Sunshine's 'Ten on Ten' for the first time this month. Once a month on the tenth taking a photo an hour for ten consecutive hours. Finding much life and beauty among the ordinary things of our day!

I confess I cheated a little. I kept forgetting to take a pic each hour. I supplemented two missing photos with ones I'd taken at about that time on another day. Whoops. Plus, I used my iPhone with Instagram for most of the pics. Which I think is cheating even more... Will do better once I get into the 10/10 groove, I promise!

10 AM
Staring at the kitchen bench again.

11 AM
Gardening on the front verandah in the sunshine.

"Badoo bring your shoes inside, Badoo bring your shoes inside, Badoo bring..."

1 PM
My girl, shining.

2 PM
A mother and... a head.

3 PM
After-school cake high.

4 PM
Hanging out on the verandah with Lianne.

Dancing shoes.

Jurassic Bath.

Bedtime Bedjump. (Although she is actually not jumping on the bed, the patient* has obviously improved immensely.)

I loved Ten on Ten this month. I'll be back for sure! Pop over to A Little Bit of Sunshine to check out other Ten on Ten action.

* Cappers 'landed funny' on her ankle on the trampoline on Sunday. Thank god I didn't make her 'hop' into school on Monday and instead kept her home to rest. We watched her ankle grow larger by the hour and by Monday night we were getting a cast put on in Emergency. She's doing just fine, don't worry! But I tell you, it's been a hell of a week... there is something much worse than 'routine' after all!!!


Pucker up

I need to know if I've been embarrassing myself totally for years and years and years.

I'm a bit of a kisser. I like to do the hello-kissy-kiss-kiss thing when it's someone I know reasonably well. It's nice. See, that's me in the picture above saying 'oh, hello, nice to make your acquaintance.' Ha! Not really, we're talking a little peck at most. Occasionally it's a double-job as I'm influenced by the Italians, but generally it's a fleeting peck.

But when I do the kiss, I do make actual lip to cheek contact.

Someone has mentioned that this is majorly embarrassing and you're supposed to kiss the air next to the cheek, not the cheek itself.

Who knew?

Anyway, I tried out  the air-kiss and I felt like a total air-head kissing into space like that with the little 'mwah' sound. Man, what an idiot. So I went back to making actual cheek contact.

Now, what I need to know is: is this social suicide?

Am I turning what is meant to be a warm, welcoming thing into a horrifying
experience for all I make overly-intimate contact with?

Does anyone else out there make contact?

[Image found here]


The most boring job in the world

Driving 10 hours straight down to Daylesford recently was immensely enjoyable, but the thought did cross my mind that I would go absolutely bonkers if I had to do the drive up and down the Hume day in day out. Being a truckie must be one of the more boring jobs in the world.

It got me thinking: what is the world's most boring job?

It's all subjective, of course. What I might find intensely boring might be nirvana for another. For example, I did fleetingly think to add 'mother' to the list because you can't tell me that singing 'Easy Silence' every night for 1356 nights isn't boring... but there are good bits too, so it didn't qualify.

For me, the short list is basically composed of any job where you're not required to think a lot, the work you do is monotonous and you're essentially on your own all day:

truck driver
car park security guard
tennis umpire
crane lifter
data entry

I might also add 'personal trainer' because I find exercise so intensely dull and imagine it must be mind-numbing having to watch someone else do it. There's also that guy on the Colourbond ad whose main job appears to be watching metal rust... the equivalent of being paid to watch paint dry?

What do you think the most boring job in the world might be?

[Cute guard peg dolls by Abbey of Aesthetic Outburst]


The trifecta

Thanks everyone for your lovely hurrahs on my birthday yesterday. I had a fab day and was spoiled suitably rotten. The best bit is that with my party months away, this birthday feeling can last for ages! I highly recommend this approach.

Well, I'm forty now, and it ain't no different to 39, which wasn't all that different to 38, which seemed remarkably similar to 37... well, you get the idea. All the way down to about 18, I think. Which means we're all just adolescents at heart. But still, forty seems... milestoney. Like I'm crossing over a line.

I was bemoaning being moaning... sorry, start again... so I was bemoaning turning forty this weekend to my mate the other day and she said, "At least you've got the Trifecta."

"The Trifecta?"

"Yeah, career, husband, babies - the Trifecta. It's what women everywhere want to achieve by forty."

Really? What an odd thing to even think about let alone see as an 'achievement'. I suppose mainly because the career thing happens through sheer hard work and a bit of luck, the husband thing happens through sheer hard luck and a bit of work and the babies are just plain work.

But then, I happen to know that my friend (who I know from work, so tick one box) didn't meet her man until she was about 42 and has been trying unsuccessfully to have a bambino with him ever since. So, I can see how the trifecta is something that she might be a bit wistful about. Forty does seem to be a fairly solid cut-off point for the baby bit.

And there are lots of mummas I know who had to give up a pretty sterling career in order to raise their bubbas in a way they were happy with. So, they're forty and wondering if they'll ever get back into the workforce when it's time for them.

Still others whose husbie's are useless, absent or long gone. They're forty and wondering when their husband is going to join them in growing up...

So, I'm going to shut up about what I may or may not think about this 'trifecta' business and the ridiculous expectations placed on women of today and just be grateful. Grateful that I reached this milestoney age and things seem pretty much on the up for me.

I'm going to be grateful that my work offers me the kind of trust and flexibility that I wish was available to all working mothers.

I'm going to be grateful that my husband offers me the kind of help and support that I wish was available to all wives.

And I'm going to be grateful that I have three cheeky, healthy and loving children that I wish were available to all women (we could raise them together, Big Love style?) My three beautiful Tsunamis are the only trifecta I really care about winning.

See, all that and it's not even Saturday...

Had you heard of the 'trifecta' before?

[Image by Natalie Haywood]


This week I'm grateful for... birthdays!

It's my birthday today.* I'm older than yesterday. All my friends are coming over to play and they'll all sing happy birthday.

And then give me 40 freakin' claps with one clap for 'good luck with that'.

Yep, the big 40-0MG.

I've been growing up for 40 years and I still don't feel like a grown-up. I am beginning to suspect that there is no such thing. Mind you, was it my mother who said "It's only your generation that thinks 40 is still young" (yep, that sounds like Mum). She has a point... only a generation ago you were basically given permission to let it all hang out past forty. No need to maintain an illusion of youthful trendiness because basically you're older and wiser and you know comfort should really be the priority. Wouldn't that be nice? Slippers. Terry toweling dresses. Pottering. Bedtime at 8pm.

Yikes. That all sounds so tempting I'm scaring myself a little bit. And I will spare a thought today for my dear Mum who must seriously be feeling every one of my 40 years right about now. If it's freakish being a 40 year old, imagine being the mother of a 40 year old. That's a right mutha, that is.

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

160. Birthdays - I like to make a whole year out of my birthday.

161. Parties - oh, how I love to plan and play at a party. To make up for the fact that I didn't have a 21st or a 30th, I'm having a BIG party at home in November instead of August. Weather and all...

162. Balloons - they're not seen as cool enough to decorate many parties these days, but a balloon still makes a gal feel very happy on my birthday.

So, what's making you smile today? Add your Grateful post to the list below (and please, we love you, but it really does matter that your post is one about being grateful, not just a random), add the button (grab the code from my sidebar and paste it into your post) and pretty-please add a link back to me. Then pop over to visit other bloggers who are spreading a little sunshine.

* Well, technically tomorrow - 6 Augie.

[Image from here]


Black and yellow and... map

I'm back wearing my interior-design cap (as we do from time to time, no?). I showed you my inspiration for the girls' new upstairs bedroom a little while ago.

Here's what I'm thinking for my boy. I find boys much harder to decorate - both home and body...

A giant wallpaper map on one wall...

... with blackboard walls everywhere else (will the chalk dust drive me nuts?) with white trim. Of course I plan to artistically write inspiring messages every other day in my spare time.

With hits of yellow for some sunshine. I'm thinking of painting the bed bright yellow and along with a pillow slip or two, that will do the trick.

No, I'm not planning to put a hot babe in his room, but see how great yellow looks with black and white. Just ask the bees!

Yes, I can recreate this on the blackboard...

I think it will be a room that takes him through the rest of this childhood and into his teens, when no doubt the wall map and bed will also be painted black and that will be the last we see of him!

Do you think boys are harder to decorate for? 
What sort of theme would you recommend?

[All image credits can be found here. Image of boy drawing on blackboard wall is by Laura Frantz. Thank you for your note, Laura. It can be hard to attribute original sources when images are found via sites like Pinterest. I have updated my Pinterest board to reflect your credit also.]