29 September 2012

Lucky Liebster number 5!

In early September, Jay nominated me for a Liebster award.

Thank you so much Jay!

Yes, I have taken a while to accept this lovely award, but as you'll see from my archive list, September has been a slow-ish month for me on the blog - silly real life getting in the way of a good story.

I love these awards. I get very excited when I receive one, because a) it means someone other than Mr O is actually reading my blog and b) someone likes it enough to think of me when the opportunity to pass on the award comes their way.

The rules are the same as before. But, as in my previous Liebster acceptance post, this award will hit a dead-end with me and not be passed on, as I'd be passing it to the same people over and over again.

11 facts about me

Fact 1. I have hair which can get quite frizzy. As a teenager, I wanted it to be super-curly which never happened. Now I own a GHD.
Fact 2. I love post-it notes.
Fact 3. As a child, I was super proud of myself when I figured out how to skip like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz movie when she skips along the yellow brick road.
Fact 4. My clothes currently reside in a bookshelf in my bedroom. I wish I could say it had something to do with my love of books, but it's more about the "home organisation" of my wardrobe currently being in a state of flux.
Fact 5. I load my groceries straight from the shopping trolley into empty washing baskets in the boot of my car. Two friends of mine got me onto it and I haven't looked back. One of those friends is Gina. You should check out her blog. She's all kinds of awesome :-)
Fact 6. I recently did my first guest blog post on someone else's blog. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Fact 7. I'm starting to like fast food less. Could I be growing up?
Fact 8. I sneak chocolate snacks in the kitchen. My kids know about it. Turns out I'm not as sneaky as I thought.
Fact 9. I loathe and detest cleaning the oven.
Fact 10. Mosquitos stalk me. I do not invite their attentions.
Fact 11. I think I might finally be sick of the Wiggles. But I still have a one-year-old. How will I get through the next few years? Maybe it's just a passing phase...

Jay's questions for me

Q1: Did you expect to get a Liebster award?
A1: No. I've received a few, but I've never expected one.

Q2: What is your favourite toy?
A2: Neddy. My teddy :-)

Q3: Made toys or purchased toys?
A3: Purchased. Made toys in our house are those made out of paper which last up to 10 seconds before they're destroyed by brute child force.

Q4: What is your favourite form of social media?
A4: Facebook.

Q5: What was your favourite book as a child?
A5: I can't narrow it down to one. I loved Roald Dahl books and the Anne of Green Gables series of books.

Q6: What is your favourite book now?
A6: This is tricky. Favourite book I've read recently would be 31 Dream Street. Favourite book of all time? I haven't a clue...

Q7: Where would you go if you won the lotto.
A7: Sicily

Q8: Dryer or line?
A8: Line in good weather. Dryer only when necessary.

Q9: Do you have a pet and what is it?
A9: Yes, we have a fat cat.

Q10: What browser do you use?
A10: Internet explorer, but it's a pain in the backside sometimes.

Q11: Coke or pepsi?
A11: Coke

Thanks again for the award, Jay

26 September 2012

Hump Day Hobbies: Songwriting

Lara over at This Charming Mum has a guest blogger spot called "Hump Day Hobbies" and this is my contribution to the theme. To read it on her site, click here. She has written a fantastic intro.

As a guitar-playing, music-studying teenager, songwriting was a natural channelling of my hormone-led rollercoaster ride of emotions. I would come up with a theme (usually something about a boy I liked or didn't like, something catty a girl at school had said, or dreams of my glamorous adult future .. ahem). A line or two of lyrics would form in my mind, which would be the embryo of the chorus or verse. I experimented with chord progressions, song structures and tunes. I would spend hours procrastinating making music in my last two years of school and through my uni years. I kept it up for years, writing countless songs, just me and my guitar.

My inspiration has always been emotional; usually some kind of sadness, pain, angst. I wrote songs when I was happy too, but they never quite seemed as good - with the exception of a couple which Hubby loves to this day. He's my biggest fan :-)

I almost feel like a bit of a fraud though, writing about this in the present tense as if it is still a hobby of mine. It was a big part of my life for a long time. I still consider it a part of me and a hobby of mine. Until I think back to how long it has been since I wrote a complete song, or a couple of complete songs in a row. I can't be sure, but I think it may have been about 6 years ago. What happened, you ask? Motherhood happened. No longer was a guitar-playing session spontaneously at my disposal, and when I did get the opportunity, I felt ... uninspired. It wasn't that I had nothing to write about, far from it. But when I wrote about what was happening in my life at the time - a new kind of hormone-led rollercoaster ride of emotions - the songs I was hashing together just didn't seem to do the subject-matter justice. And so I left a string of half-done choruses and forgotten chord progressions behind me...

Never fear, the hobby is still there somewhere, aching for its chance to shine. Occasionally, I am inspired and put a few bits and pieces together. MissyMoo1 (5) has even encouraged me a couple of times recently (what a sweetheart). I'm sure that with time will come more opportunities to create, and more practising will improve the quality, not to mention the enjoyment I will get out of it. This hobby's heart's not broken yet (ooh, that could be a good name for a song...)!

This Charming Mum

22 September 2012

31 Dream Street - Lisa Jewell

After the disaster that was Vinegar Hill, when the Old Ducks put it out there for suggestions for our next book club book, I jumped at the chance to suggest 31 Dream Street by Lisa Jewell.

I read this back in 2010 and absolutely loved it. It was easy to read but not in a dumbed-down kind of way and I grew so attached to the characters that I didn't want the book to end. It was no different reading it second time around. It had been sufficiently long between reads for me to forget some of the story - at least at the start - so it was interesting as well as familiar.

I read it a couple of months ago, but as I'm starting to find with Old Ducks, we quack a lot, but not much about the book. So in two meetings, with people being unable to attend due to other commitments and just general gas-bagging, we haven't yet talked about the book. October it will be! I had wanted to hold off on this post until our discussion, to get the other ducks' perspectives, but I couldn't wait any longer.

So, if you want to read an ultimately uplifting (did I give away the ending?!) book with a great story, well-woven, with lovely characters, give this one a go!

Book: Paperback. I own it.
Rating: I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads.
One-liner: I loved this one just as much second time around :-)

21 September 2012

Road Trip With a Car Full - Are We Crazy?

So, the school holidays are upon us.

A holiday has been in the pipeline for months. We've had it planned, subject to MissyMoo2 (3) not needing hip surgery (which she doesn't - happy dance) since early in the year. When I say "planned", I mean that the dates have been set and accommodation booked. That was really the extent of it.

Fast forward to this week and I realise that I have given next to no thought to packing, or amusing three MissyMoos during a long car trip in a sedan with nowhere to escape. Work was insanely crazy busy, as unbeknownst to me at the time of booking the trip, deadlines are looming the week I return from annual leave. So now, here I am, having a well-earned blogging break after writing my lists (after all, I do have superior list-making skills) while the big MissyMoos are doing their chores and I'm having a cuppa. That sounds really bad actually. I have done more than write lists today - we're blitzing the housework in an attempt to have a vaguely welcoming home to return to. Packing can wait until we're organised.

Anyway, I digress.

This is the longest distance car trip we've made since having kids.

And we're doing it with three of them.

So ... are we crazy?

We're looking forward to family time, without school, activities, or promptness requirements of any kind. We've set our own itinerary, breaking up the trip with many stops entailing different amusements. We're telling the MissyMoos about all the games they can make up in the car to pass the time. We're staying in an apartment with a washing machine - very important. We're only scheduling one activity per day so we have some down time.

I know it's do-able. Once a year in the heat of summer, in the days before air-conditioned cars, my parents, my sister and I would embark on a 10 hour plus drive interstate to visit my nonni. This'll be a walk in the park in comparison - hmmm. Slight difference - this time I'm the parent...

I'm looking forward to being a "tourist" again. Seeing sights with Hubby and the MissyMoos. I've been so "busy", I haven't really had a chance to get excited until now. Now I'm excited!

Where will we be going? Well, you know I'm a fan of mystery. You'll just have to wait until I get back and I'll tell you all about it :-)

16 September 2012

Where is my time going? Getting organised...

Although I'm only back at work two days per week, I have been finding that the two days away from the house leave me a lot less incidental time to get housework done.

I'm not a huge fan of housework. I wouldn't say that it comes naturally to me. And with little ones messing up things as soon as they're cleaned, the seeming futility of it all can sap any motivation which may have miraculously entered my psyche. Sometimes, there are things which I'll only notice need to be done because they've not been done for long enough that it is ridiculously obvious (even to me).

I realised that, during phases in my life when time-management has been of the essence, such as studying for the HSC and uni exams, I always came up with a super-dooper schedule to allocate my time adequately to all of the things needing my attention.

So, I recently dusted off my scheduling cobwebs (I am much better at metaphorical cobweb dusting) and put together a schedule to help me see where my time is actually spent.

I've only done weekdays; weekends can be for fun and any catching up (like today, I caught up on washing the kitchen floor).

I've only had this for a couple of weeks. I found that when I first put the table together, it really made me look at how many hours there are in the day to split between all of my responsibilities (and how many of those hours I'm willing or able to dedicate to being a domestic goddess). I think it's making a difference, but I haven't really been following it all that closely, as things have been a bit out of whack with MissyMoo1's (5) activities for the past couple of weeks (I'll save that post for another day). School holidays in a week will throw another spanner in the works but I'm hopeful that this little beauty will get me through Term 4.

What little tricks do you have to organise yourself?

14 September 2012

Try-Hard Italian - Roasted Peppers

My friend B once asked me if I identify as Italian. Her father was Irish and she identifies with her Irish heritage. My response is that I think of myself as a try-hard Italian. I try to speak the language, I try to cook Italian food. I want it to be natural, but I still feel like I need to try at it. Growing up away from all the other Italian family we had in this country and not being constantly surrounded by the culture has meant that I always feel like I'm just touching it with my fingertips - but not properly grasping or feeling entirely comfortable with what I'm trying to achieve.

The other day I had some capsicum in the fridge, which I had bought for a stir-fry, but never gotten around to using. So I decided to roast them. This was a big step for me. I'm not one to see ingredients in the fridge and just come up with a way of using them which wasn't already planned out at the point of purchase.

So I got out my Italian Food Safari cookbook and roasted them. Here's the result:

I realised that if I'd put them in the jar in reverse, I'd have had traffic light peppers!

After this, at Nonna's advice, I put some oil & garlic in there, mixed it around for eating. It was my delicious lunch yesterday with Brie and crackers - mmmm, buono...

13 September 2012

Thankful Thursday: Babies!

A few weeks ago, we welcomed a new baby into our (extended) family. Aunty J had her third child, a beautiful little baby girl to join her big brother and sister in their family.

We travelled to visit them soon afterwards and I was lucky enough to have cuddles with my sleeping four day old niece. I'm not good with other people's babies;  I never have been - not even since having my own children - but this baby girl didn't cry or even wake while I was holding her. Maybe, finally, after having three of my own I have some skills in this area!

The MissyMoos are very happy to have a new cousin (well, those of them who can talk have expressed their excitement) and they loved looking at her. MissyMoo1 (5) and MissyMoo2 (3) got their baby cuddle fixes while we were there too - now that MissyMoo3 (11 months) is a big baby, there are less of those going around in our house these days, as their baby sister thinks it's much more fun to wriggle away and play than to lie still and be cuddled!

Welcome to the world, little one. We're thankful that you're here :-)

Thankful Thursday

10 September 2012

Verbal Snapshot: Francesca

I've done verbal snapshots for all the kids, but what about me? I might be interested in looking back in years to come to see how I was doing in September 2012...

The short answer is that I'm well. I'm in a great place in my life right now. Specifically:
  • I sleep through the night most nights now and have done so for a while, so I'm functioning much better on decent sleep;
  • Having decent sleeps also means I can stay up a bit later at night, so I have more time to spend with Hubby, doing housework or interneting;
  • Every day, whether I'm at home or at work, is super busy. On home days I barely sit down as I try to get as much done around the house as I can, as well as spend time with the MissyMoos. I try to make time for an afternoon coffee before school pick-up;
  • I've learned that regardless of what I thought as a child, the school day is short;
  • I'm getting better at flicking between work mindset and home mindset, but it's something I definitely always need to be conscious of to keep on top of things;
  • My heart skips a beat when I hear one of the MissyMoos coughing at night;
  • I still have my "linea negra" even though MissyMoo3 is 11 months old. It's faint, but it's there;
  • My moods are definitely more stable now. It's probably a function both of my pregnancy/new-baby-stage hormones settling down and getting more sleep. I still have ups and downs, of course, but it's not a crazy roller-coaster any more as it was in the first few months after MissyMoo3 came along;
  • I'm learning to rest when I'm tired ... a bit. I'm not very good at it yet, but I'm trying ;-)
  • I like where we live and I feel settled;
  • I'm starting to socialise more now that I'm no longer breastfeeding and can leave MissyMoo3 more - dinner out with friends every few weeks, book club once a month;
  • Sometimes I struggle with having so little time to myself, but I just take what I can get.

06 September 2012

Thankful Thursday: My Children's Father

On Father's Day last Sunday, Hubby woke up to this:

I'm so thankful I married him. He's a great husband and father.

I'm thankful we could give him a tower of presents to make him feel super special on Father's Day.

I'm thankful he let me have a ride of his scooter - it was SO much fun (yes, I was the crazy mummy at the park on a scooter going "Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"!).

Thankful Thursday

05 September 2012

Verbal Snapshot: MissyMoo1

Here is a verbal snapshot for my biggest MissyMoo, MissyMoo1 (5).

MissyMoo1, you are 5 and 3/4 :-)

  • You're so tall and grown up. Sure, at school you still look tiny with all the bigger kids around, but at home, you're HUGE! You're already up to my chest in height - I'm hoping you make it to eight before you're taller than me, just for my own ego.
  • You're not a baby any more. You're growing into a big girl and I'm so proud of you.
  • You're learning so much - your reading is great, counting, just general knowledge too - you're clever!
  • You get upset and frustrated sometimes, particularly when you're tired, so we're working on how you should behave at those times.
  • But generally, nobody outside the home sees that, because you're a really good girl most of the time. You've set the bar so high, being considerate, kind and happy.
  • You like dancing around the place, singing songs and putting on silly voices.
  • You're very sensitive. Sometimes it's a good thing, because you empathise with others and show kindness towards them. Other times, it's hard for you because when kids are mean, you really take it to heart.
  • You've found some lovely friends at school.
  • You're enjoying the outdoors more and more. You seem to be happiest when you're running around playing in the backyard with MissyMoo2. You're going to enjoy this Spring and Summer.
  • You can do your own pony-tails.
  • You love prawns and ask for some of mine if I've ordered some at a restaurant.
  • You can do up your own shoelaces and often help other kids with theirs as well.
  • The novelty of catching the bus to school has worn off, but you know you still have to catch it on my work days. You love it when I drive you to school.
  • Piano is going well. You enjoy playing it, and love to experiment with the keyboard.
  • I can't believe my eyes when I see you swim. You're so long and slender through the water. You definitely don't take after me - being good in the water is your Daddy's gift to you.
  • Sometimes I think about how much I love you and your sisters and my heart just aches.

01 September 2012

Kidspeak Gems: MissyMoo2

Packing the swimming bag: "Don't forget your undie-pants!"
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