30 May 2013

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for
Francesca Writes Here

I'm thankful to Leigh from Six by the Bay for passing the hosting of Thankful Thursday onto me when she was unable to continue.

I've been a fan of Thankful Thursday for a while now. I started linking up about a year ago over at Kate Says Stuff, but when she stopped hosting, I stopped being (publicly) thankful for a while. Then when I heard it was up and running at Six by the Bay, I eagerly joined in Thankful Thursday linking when I could.

I love the idea of Thankful Thursday. It means that at least once each week, I make myself stop and think about the things in life I am thankful for. Even if my mood or circumstances don't lend me to feeling particularly thankful on a given day, consciously seeking out the positive in things helps to lift my mood and improve my attitude.

I am also thankful for all the lovely bloggers out there who link up their Thankful Thursday posts. I hope you enjoy Thankful Thursday's new home.

What are you thankful for?

(Housekeeping: to link up your posts, just add the name of your post, your email address and post url below. Your post url cannot be more than 100 characters for this linky thing to work. Your email address won't be published, but it will help me get in touch with you if the link isn't working)

27 May 2013

Hopes and Dreams of a Writer

I don't call myself a writer or an author. I don't even call myself a blogger. I call myself a mum, a wife and sometimes a lawyer.

Yes, I've written a book. But I haven't published it yet. To that end, I don't feel completely comfortable calling myself an author, although my friends do not agree. They say that I've written a novel, therefore I am an author. I'd like to say that too, but self-doubt prevents it.

My publishing plan is in its embryonic stage, currently in the state of limbo which I planned for this phase, to test out various opportunities before taking matters into my own hands. But I didn't anticipate it would be quite so difficult emotionally.

Today I was walking through Kmart with the younger MissyMoos on a quest to resupply the craft cupboard. My wandering inevitably led me past the book section. I found myself attracted to it. Seeing so many old favourites and new releases sitting on the shelf, seeing so many different authors' names - I wondered if I would ever see my name up there, I wondered what my book might look like one day.

One day.

The emotional side of me cannot reconcile this "one day". The novel is done. It is in PDF on my computer. Some of my friends have read and critiqued it.

But my head softly attempts to calm my nerves, calling for "patience".

I can't help hoping. I can't help dreaming. But I don't quite yet feel like celebrating. I feel like I'm simultaneously protecting myself from disappointment and doing myself a disservice. My mind, though, is generally cleverer than my heart, so I will listen to it. I just hope my heart can be rewarded in the end and satisfied in the meantime.

23 May 2013

Thankful for Thursdays

Almost a year ago when I was joining in Thankful Thursday with Kate Says Stuff, I wrote a post about being thankful for Thursdays.

Looking back at that, I realise how different my Thursdays are now that Thursday has become an additional work day.

Thursdays are a mad rush in the morning.

After getting the three MissyMoos ready and three bags packed, we're out of the door by 8am. First stop is MissyMoo2's (3) preschool five minutes' drive down the road. Once she's signed in and settled, it's ten minutes in the opposite direction to MissyMoo3's (19 months) daycare. Once she's signed in and settled, I drop MissyMoo1 (6) off to school. I'm usually back home by 9am, completing the circle of chaos.

Although the start of the day is busy and can become stressful when things are not going smoothly, I am thankful for Thursdays, just for different reasons than I used to be.

I arrive home to quiet. The only noise I hear is the noise I make. I can choose to play soft music ... or not.

I have about half an hour to get housework done before I start my work from home day - a precious window of opportunity to make a difference to the state of the house without one or more little people promptly undoing all the work I just did.

Time for an uninterrupted coffee.

Then when my work day begins, I can concentrate. Thursdays allow me to think more deeply about what I am doing, to concentrate on bigger pieces of work, to plan. After two days in the office talking to people, attending meetings, doing ad hoc pieces as they arise, Thursday is my day to enjoy solitude.

And oooh I enjoy it!

Linking up for Thankful Thursday with Six by the Bay:

Six By The Bay


I'm also very thankful to Leigh for entrusting Thankful Thursday to me from next week. I hope you'll join me :-)

Francesca Writes Here

21 May 2013

Oh Spam, How I've Missed You!

I often read of bloggers complaining about spam. I see their point - I mean, it can be irritating to manage if the volume of spam comments is high and it can detract from comments made by people who actually read the blog post and comment in response to it.

I have always moderated comments on my blog, which means I receive an email when a comment has been made and I choose whether it is published, deleted or marked as spam. The first time my blog was in receipt of a spam comment about a year ago, I was a little confused. The comment was asking me which blog platform I used. Considering Blogger's logo appears on the blog and "blogspot" is in the web address, I didn't think it was a question a supposed fellow blogger would need to ask. It took me a moment to realise that my humble blog was being introduced to the world of spam.

And what a glorious world it is!

In a twisted way, receiving my first spam comment made me feel like I'd made it as a blogger. Once that first comment broke in, the floodgates opened. (Please note, in the comments I have reproduced below, I have remained true to their spelling and punctuation for the full effect!)

Most comments are funny - general in nature, they attempt to flatter the blogger into clicking on their website's link:
  • Hello, yes this piece of writing is truly good and I have learned a lot of things from it regarding blogging. thanks. Have a look at my site. Oh, thanks ... hang on...
  • Hello, this weekend is nice for me, as this point in time I am reading this great informative post here at my residence. Good for you.
  • If someone desires expert view on the topic of blogging then I propose him/her to go see this website. Keep up the pleasant job. I know you didn't read it, but thank you, I will.
Then there are the comments which try to trick you into thinking they aren't spam ... but then they give themselves away:
  • I hardly leave comments, but I did a few searching and wound up here "Product Review: Personal Planner". And I do have 2 questions for you if it's allright. Could it be only me or does it appear like a few of the responses look like they are written by brain dead people? Right, I followed you in the first sentence, but I had to read that last bit twice. WTF? (And no Phil Dunphy, I don't mean "Why the face?")
  • Wow that was odd. I just wrote a really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrr...well I'm not writing that all over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog! My web page - make money online. This was so realistic ... until the last bit.
Some are just plain weird:
  • Yes! Finally something about antalya property. Also visit my blog. Can't say I've ever blogged about that...
  • You cannot ascendance what your assigned the Part full of life Records to keep full of life records, one cannot in reality call for certifiable copies of sequestration Rule. Yeah, what he said.
  • The application of this cream comes with no side effects whatsoever. Okaaay. I'll take your word for it.
  • What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience about unpredicted feelings. Feel free to surf my web page. Or not.
Recently the spam has slowed right down. Perhaps I've been blogging less, linking up less with other blogs, putting less popular terms in my headings, who knows? But a couple of days ago I had my first "Anonymous" comment in weeks, quickly followed by another, then another. And it brought a smile to my face. The blog's still got it, baby :-)

    20 May 2013

    Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella

    This is the first book I've read by Sophie Kinsella. It is the sixth book in the Confessions of a Shopaholic series of books. I saw the movie of "Confessions of a Shopaholic" starring Isla Fisher a couple of years ago, so I was familiar with some of the characters from that. Had I realised when I borrowed it that it was the sixth book, the ordered side of my personality would have much preferred to have read the previous five novels before embarking on the sixth. Having said that, I don't think I lost too much from reading the book in isolation.

    I was irritated by the main character in parts. She came across as annoying and unbelievable - a caricature rather than a character - more so in print than I had felt when I watched the movie (a different story though, obviously). There were times when I became exasperated with her to the point of not even wanting to pick the book up again for a day or two. Having said that, I think this such a strength of Sophie Kinsella's writing (what little I've read of it anyway!). Her characters - the protagonist in particular - got under my skin. Even though some of the story line and some of the characters seemed too much almost to the point of being ridiculous, I could almost anticipate the types of things they would do and say because of how their traits and actions were so well described. The fact that they got under my skin is a tribute to the writing.

    I really liked the twists and turns the story took and how so many little bits and pieces were tied in together towards the end of the book.

    On reflection, it was a good read and I'd like to read more by Sophie Kinsella - but maybe something other than the shopaholic series!

    Book: Paperback. Borrowed from my local library.
    Rating: I've given this 3 stars on Goodreads.
    One-liner: Becky is so annoying! But it is so well written - the characters got under my skin (for better or worse!) and there were some great twists.

    16 May 2013

    Mind Ahead of Mouth

    A shy and quiet 11-year-old decided to try out for the Year 7 debating team. She did not know it then, but one of the lessons she would learn through that experience would remain with her for the next twenty years and beyond.

    Mind ahead of mouth.

    Evolving from memorising speeches to just plain speaking, guided by a few dot points on a card, all within a few short years.

    Mind ahead of mouth.

    Constructing sentences in a foreign language exam, or in a long distance telephone call with a loved one, knowing delay meant only detriment and confusion. What gender is this noun? Where do I place the adjective?

    Mind ahead of mouth.

    Trembling voice, sweaty palms, mock court appearances in front of a lawyer pretending to be a judge and living out his own fantasy of a position of power in a court room, holding the power of pass or fail.

    Mind ahead of mouth.

    A difficult conversation with a loved one.

    Mind ahead of mouth.

    Presenting a training seminar to peers in a corporate setting.

    Mind ahead of mouth.

    Today I am thankful to my Year 7 debating coach, whose advice has benefited me on countless occasions.

    Linking up for Thankful Thursday with Six by the Bay:

    Six By The Bay

    15 May 2013

    Wordless Wednesday: Flowers

    Playing with my awesome camera and the flowers Hubby and the MissyMoos gave me recently.

    14 May 2013

    Virtual Vodka or Whatever / Eurovision Party

    What do you get when you cross a silly twitter conversation with the will to drink vodka? You guessed it: a virtual vodka Twitter party.

    What do you get when you cross nostalgia for said Virtual Vodka Twitter Party with Eurovision weekend?

    The Virtual Vodka Returns / Eurovision Twitter Party!!
    When: Friday 17 May 2013 at 8pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
    Where: Twitter. #vvow
    Party Info:
    The Twitter hash tag for the night is #vvow. This stands for "Virtual Vodka or Whatever".  Some people like to drink vodka, some do not. We don't discriminate. We're inclusive. Drink whatever you like, alcoholic or otherwise. 
    Eurovision is screening on SBS this weekend. Friday night, at the time of the party, the first semi-final will be on TV. As some of you may know from last year, I'm a Eurovision tragic. (Note: This post is not sponsored by SBS, nor is it sponsored by Eurovision, but if either wanted to provide me with glitter or sequins for the occasion, I'm happy to receive - just sayin'.) Not all of us are, though - I acknowledge that there may be some puzzling characters out there who do not have an interest in watching Europe's annual pop extravaganza - and whilst I don't understand you, that's okay. You can still join in. You may wish to watch football, or concentrate solely on your Twitter feed. It's entirely up to you.
    Warning: I will definitely be watching Eurovision. It's #vvow, but I won't promise not to include #SBSEurovision from time to time - I won't be able to help myself.
    The party organisers are @FrancescaBlogs @kal20m and @enay_teekay. Thanks @kal20m for reviving the idea :-)
    Practical Info:
    If there are a few people involved in conversations, it could get very hard to say anything within the character limit if we're including everyone's Twitter handles (i.e. @FrancescaBlogs etc). I think the easiest way to keep up with the conversations would be to search #vvow. Then you'll have a list of tweets which include #vvow (just remember to include the hash tag in your tweets).
    I'm going to try to slow my tweeting pace this time so I don't run out of tweets on the night. Even if I don't reply to everyone individually, I will be reading the #vvow feed and compiling a funny list of notes to write a debrief post on (hopefully less than two months after the event, unlike last time - sorry).
    So, if you're willing and able on Friday night, please drop in with a #vvow tweet.
    Can't wait to tweet ya!

    08 May 2013

    Wordless Wednesday Winter Woollies

    So much potential!
    If only I could find the time...

    05 May 2013

    Shifting up a Gear - Back to Routine

    You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven't done a "My Week in Bullet Points" post for a while. The truth is, I couldn't be bothered. I know, couldn't be bothered to write a list, how sad...

    We've had school holidays and now the first week back at school is complete. During the holidays, Hubby took the two weeks off and did some fun stuff with the MissyMoos. I still worked on my work days but on the days I was off work, I was in a kind of hybrid holiday mode, doing day trips and holiday things with the family, but not completely relaxing.

    The holidays felt different in a good way - no morning school routine, less rushing around - but they also left me feeling a bit spaced out. I let myself relax a little, but the result was murky: I let things go around the place but didn't feel rested.

    After a few days this week, I finally shifted up a gear. I finally got back into the swing of things. I finally started feeling I was getting back on top of the juggling act. I've realised that I need to either be completely in the throws of work / school / life to be in the right mindset, or completely on a break in order to relax. The in-between stuff is more stressful in a way, because I'm just all over the place.

    It was great to have Hubby home from work for two weeks. We did some cool stuff. And on the days I joined in, it did feel like a holiday. Now that MissyMoo3 (19 months) is older, we're trying to do a bit more in the way of outings. We had lots of family fun, and went out in all weather.

    We started off at the beach:

    A week later, we were out and about in the pouring rain:

    There were play dates, a play centre visit, playground fun (notice the play theme?) and a first for all of us: a trip to the museum. MissyMoo1 (6) was impressed with the room that was "full of sciencey stuff".

    I love this photo I took at the museum
    Now that I've shifted back up a gear, it's time to go and write some lists!

    See ya later!

    02 May 2013

    Francesca's Festa of Favourites - May 2013

    Hey, hey, hey, it's the month of May!

    For me, the beginning of May means it's time for the May 2013 instalment of (drum-roll)...

    For anyone who's new to the link-up, here's some background: "Festa" in Italian means a celebration, a party.  

    This link-up is a place where you can place links to your favourite posts in a given month, but here's the difference: they don't have to be posts you've written (although they can be). You can link to any post for the month that, for you, has been a must-read, that you're proud of, or that you think is funny.

    I love being able to use this space to bookmark my favourite blog posts for the month, but more importantly, I love seeing what everyone else likes reading. So feel free to link up as many of your favourite posts as you like during the course of the month. There are no thumbnails on this linky thingo, so you'll need to be creative with your words to get people to want to click on the link!

    (Let me know in the comments if you have trouble with the link and I'll try to fix it at my end. As long as you remember to have ".html" at the end of the URL, it usually works.).

    Also, in a new development, I'm choosing one post from last month to showcase here.

    Francesca's April Festa Favourite is:
     Today I Left My Husband from Two Point Five Kids.
    I must admit, when I first read the title, a lump formed in  my throat, and I tentatively clicked the link thinking I would be reading a tear-jerking, emotionally taxing post. It was a heartfelt post, but for different reasons than my first impression. No spoilers here, go ahead and read it for yourself!
    Thanks to Bree from Twinkle in the Eye for adding this link.

    Now, let's see what literary delights Francesca's Festa of Favourites can bring us this month :-)

    Sitting Higher

    MissyMoo3 (19 months) is getting big. No longer a baby, she has all the energy of a 19-month-old coupled with the expectation that she is just as big as her older sisters and can do anything they can do.

    Overall, the result is a playful, engaged, comfortable and happy toddler, and for this I am thankful. Being the third child has, I think, made her generally more capable earlier: she pretty much feeds herself, tell us when she's done a poo and plays with her sisters rather than alongside them.

    One of the more annoying difficult developments was that a few weeks ago, MissyMoo3 began refusing to sit in her highchair.

    She wanted to sit up at the table with everyone else. There's a slight problem with this fixation, though. You see, she thinks she's bigger than she actually is. Not being able to see over the table when sitting on a chair can impair the ability to eat one's dinner. She ended up on my lap half the time - which impaired my ability to eat my dinner.

    Something had to be done. Cue the highchair which isn't a high chair. THIS is what I'm thankful for today!

    MissyMoo3 thinks she's sitting up just like everyone else, she can actually see her food, and I retain my personal space when I'm eating. Winning!

    Linking up for Thankful Thursday with Six by the Bay:

    Six By The Bay

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