29 August 2013

Cinque Anni Fa...

Cinque anni fa abbiamo scoperto qual'cosa meravigliosa.
Cinque anni fa ho osato sognare del futuro con te.
 
Cinque anni fa la mia euforia è diventata il dolore.
Cinque anni fa ti ho perso prima di vederti.
 
Durante questi cinque anni la tua famiglia è cresciuta ... senza te.
Ma sei sempre nel mio cuore, amore mio.
 
Non ti dimenticherò mai, perche sono la tua mamma.

A Little List of Thankful

Francesca Writes Here

Just a quick one from me today.

I am writing this on Wednesday night. I'm generally tired on Wednesday nights after the work and MissyMoo routine, but I look forward to writing my Thankful Thursday post.

Not tonight.

Tonight I'm looking forward to my head touching down on my pillow. I've had a super sore throat for the past two days. It hasn't developed into anything else and I hope it won't, but it seriously feels like my throat is taking up half of my mouth when I swallow. And all I want to do is get some rest.

So, in the interests of brevity leading to the land of nod, I'll bore you with a list of thankful today instead of witty prose:

  • I am thankful that I have almost finished the "scribble edit" of my manuscript. What, another edit? Yes. I promise to blog about this soon ;-)

  • I am thankful for our getaway last weekend.

  • I am thankful for Hubby. When I looked at my desk calendar at work today, I realised it is nine years to the day since he proposed to me (and the desk calendar is next to our framed wedding photo - perfect setting really)

  • I am thankful that hosting Thankful Thursday makes me stop and consciously think about things I can be thankful for, even if I'm wearing my grumpy pants (or sucking on eucalyptus drops, as the case may be).

  • I am thankful I have some of these in my fridge to keep me going:






    26 August 2013

    Winter, be gone!

    It's funny how the end of summer brings welcome relief from the heat, but by the end of winter, the heat is very welcome.

    This winter has been tough. The MissyMoos seem to have suffered through sickness after sickness. Three kids at three different places, has meant the pool from which germs can be contracted is that much larger. And contract them they have. Particularly MissyMoo3 (23 months), who has coughed and spewed her way through her first winter in day care.

    So with netball season at an end (almost - my ladies team has made the play-offs, so we're still going) and Saturday mornings now free, we grabbed the opportunity for a weekend away with both hands.

    The weather forecast was not overly promising, but boy were we pleasantly surprised! We enjoyed sunshine, food and NO SCHEDULES. It was just what we needed to recharge the batteries, for our little family of five to delight in one another, to make some memories.

    It's pretty special when you can say you went to the beach ...


     ... and the pool ...


     ... on the same day in August.

    22 August 2013

    Thankful Thursday: Surprise Appreciation

    Saturday was MissyMoo1's (6) last netball game for the year. Towards the end of the game, one of the girls' mums (a friend of mine), asked Hubby and I if we'd watch her kids while she went to the car. She came back carrying some flowers, which I assumed were for B, the coach. I was about to offer her money to contribute to the flowers when it turns out one of the bunches was for me!
     

     
    I helped out a bit when B couldn't be there or needed a hand, but I didn't think it deserved this! I'm not complaining, though, in fact, I'm very thankful and gave her a big hug.
     
    Aren't they beautiful?!
     
     
    Francesca Writes Here

     





    20 August 2013

    Book Week Costume: The BFG

    Book week is BIG at MissyMoo1's (6) school.

    Last year, as a kinder parent who had recently returned to work from maternity leave, I had no idea what to expect and no time to prepare, so I just dressed her in a Cinderella dress-up and left it at that. Many other parents had similar ideas. It was great to see how much the school got into it, though. Kids dressed up, teachers dressed up, there were class photos, story time and a lot of other activities.

    Today is book week "day" at my big girl's school. Deciding to be more "bookish" this year, I asked MissyMoo1 to think of a book character she'd like to dress up as. She swayed between Pearlie and The BFG, and ultimately went for the latter.

    The BFG by Roald Dahl is one of those books parents and children can enjoy together. I loved reading it (and a lot of other Roald Dahl books) as a child and now my kids enjoy having chapters read to them at night (especially when their talented mum puts on some funny voices!). MissyMoo1 and I are reading it (again) at the moment (at a snail's pace as is to be expected when there are two younger sisters vying for attention at the same time), so I wasn't surprised when she chose it.

    So, in my not-much-better-than-a-primary-school-kid way, I've been crafting up a storm.

    The BFG's humungous ears:

    Ears made out of cardboard
    Attached
    The ears were actually too big and heavy this way and made the headband fall off. We've trimmed them and reinforced the attachments to the headband, so hopefully they'll stay on. I haven't been conscientious enough to take more photos. MissyMoo1 drew the ears herself.

    The suitcase which holds the BFG's dream collection in transit:



    For this, we covered a cereal box in black crepe paper and tied some string into the side as a handle. B has lent us a proper kids' "port" suitcase type thingy which MissyMoo1 will probably take instead, as she thinks it's great - but it was fun making this and I'm sure MissyMoo2 (4) will be happy to take it off her big sister's hands for the dress-up box.

    Dream blower trumpet:


    The easiest, coolest prop ever - rolled up cardboard.


    Unfortunately, I'm working today so I can't join in the story-time reading or morning tea at school, but I can get a quick look at the great book characters showing up at school when I drop MissyMoo1 off at school. I can't wait!


    Do your kids dress up for book week?


    Linking up with Essentially Jess today:

    19 August 2013

    Pearlie Books, MissyMoo1 and Twitter

    As today is the first day of Book Week, I thought I would blog about a series of books which MissyMoo1 (6) loves to read.

    
    
    Image source

    Pearlie is a fairy and she lives in Jubilee Park. There is a whole series of these books written by Wendy Harmer. They are filled with lovely Pearlie adventures, fun illustrations and eye-catching colours. It's unashamedly Australian and lots of fun for young readers.

    MissyMoo1 is in Year 1. She first borrowed this book early this year from her school library and I read it to her one night before she went to sleep. A couple of months ago, she borrowed a different one and read it all by herself. It was hard slog the first time, but she persevered and asked me when she got stuck on some of the more difficult words. After that experience, she has been borrowing a different one each week and has been able to read them unaided.

    So today, in Book Week, I wanted to say how excited I am that MissyMoo1 has found books she enjoys reading. The love of reading which these books have helped to cultivate and the consequent improvement in MissyMoo1's abilities makes me want to do a little jig (but I'll spare you seeing that).

    Being blogriffic and twittertastic, I tweeted Wendy Harmer thanking her for these books and for contributing to my daughter's love of reading. I wasn't expecting a response, as she has in excess of 21,000 followers - I just wanted to put my positive opinion out there. Anyway, much to my surprise, Wendy responded to my tweet! That night, I told MissyMoo1 that I wrote to the Pearlie books' author to tell her that MissyMoo1 liked them so much. I then told her that the author had written back and, well, you couldn't have wiped the smile off MissyMoo1's face if you had tried that night. She was so excited she had trouble getting to sleep. So thank you twice, Wendy Harmer: for the joy your books bring to little girls and for appreciating your fans.

    For more information you can check out the website here: http://www.wendyharmer.com/childrensbooks.html

    Disclaimer: There is nothing to disclaim. I haven't received anything in exchange for my opinion, just the joy of a parent watching their child find something they love to do.

    15 August 2013

    Thankful Thursday: Smiles

    Francesca Writes Here


    As I was driving home very late on Tuesday night, the large, glowing half-moon smiled at me. The already stretched smile on my face grew broader and I just knew what I would be blogging about for Thankful Thursday this week.


     
    This past week has been full of celebrations. There have been a few birthdays and a few separate opportunities to spend time with people dear to me.
     
    Today I am thankful for amazing friendships, in many different parts of my life. Some which have stood the test of time since childhood, some which are much more recent than that, but still just as special.
     
    I am thankful for the family I was born into, the family I have made and the friends I call family.
     
    I am thankful for wonderful people putting so much love, kindness and effort into making other wonderful people feel great (you know who you are!).
     
    I am thankful for laughter.
     
    I am thankful for conversation.
     
    I am thankful for the privilege of seeing a dear friend's reaction to a special gift and then her reaction to her surprise birthday gathering (all in the space of 15 minutes - it was full-on!)
     
     






    12 August 2013

    What to do with a bumper yield of lemons


    Even more so than last year, this year our lovely lemon tree just keeps on giving.



    I almost wish we'd planted an orange tree - then we could have eaten them (I'm not a fan of eating lemons).

    So what do you do with so many lemons? I've given bags away to people who do eat them, or who cook with them.

    I've cooked with them - I made a lemon and poppyseed cake, but we ate it before I thought to take a photo (bad blogger!).

    I tried my hand at lemonade, and after lamenting my lack of photography with the abovementioned cake, I went a little overboard photographing the lemonade making process:

    Juicing

    Caster sugar, lemon juice and water

    Bubble bubble, toil and trouble

    The finished product
    Despite all my photographing efforts, it actually didn't taste that good. Two children out of three grimaced at the first sip. The other child and I enjoyed the first few sips, but it was just too sweet after that. It was super sweet, even though I put in less sugar than the recipe said - so I won't be adding the recipe here.

    Now I'm getting myself into the habit of squeezing the juice of half a lemon into a big glass of water in the morning and drinking that before I have my veggie juice or my morning coffee. That way I'm hydrating and cleansing my body first thing in the morning. Unfortunately the MissyMoos are yet to be convinced to give it a go.

    Another bonus of having such a fruitful fruit tree is that it has added an extra element to the MissyMoos' outdoor play time. Now when they play cafés with flower petals, grass and dirt, they can add lemon juice to make their (pretend) culinary creations a little more interesting. They just pick a lemon from the tree, drive a stick into it to break through the skin and then squeeze out the juice.

    Lemons after their encounters with sticks

    One of the MissyMoos' "kitchen benches" in their "café".


    Who needs expensive outdoor toys when you have lemons, chalk, flower petals and a bit of imagination?

    08 August 2013

    Thankful for Progress - A Writing Tale

    Francesca Writes Here
     
    Hi people! Welcome to another week where we stop and find something to be thankful for in our lives.
      
    Although my week has been busy and tiring, I have found it quite easy to reflect on bits and pieces of thankful along the way.
     
    The one thankful thing in particular which I'd like to share with you this week, is that I have made further progress on my novel (yes, this phantom novel you keep hearing so much about but have not yet seen!).
     
    After I submitted it to a publisher back in May, I gave myself a couple of months off looking at it further. I needed a break from it and I wanted to approach reading / editing it with fresh eyes after some time away. The time-frame for the publisher's response has not yet passed, so I am kind of in limbo, but I am not sitting idly by! I have now finished my next edit and I'm am completely happy with the manuscript as it now is. Whatever happens with the big-wigs, I am ready to progress this book to the next stage! I have so many ideas around how I'd like my novel to look (because most of us do judge a book by its cover) and how to distribute it to people who might like to read it. I won't spit out my jumbled thoughts here, only to tell you that now that I am happy with the content, I am even more motivated to get it to a finished product.
     
    So this Thursday, I am thankful for seeing progress with my book.
     
    I'll leave you with a feel-good quote - I think consciously being thankful is a great way to do this:
     
     
     
     





    06 August 2013

    Francesca's Festa of Favourites - August 2013



    Welcome another edition of 




    My blogging has been a little slower of late, which is why it has taken until the 6th of the month to get this post out there - but there's still plenty of time to write amazingness, to read amazingness and to link up said amazingness!

    Background
     
    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 entertaining.

    I add some of the posts, from blogs I read regularly, so you might see the same bloggers cropping up over the months. I make no apology for that - 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 and it makes me smile till my cheeks hurt when other people add their favourites to this festa. So feel free to link up as many of your favourite posts as you like during the course of the month.

    (Let me know in the comments if you have trouble with the link and I'll try to fix it.)


    Pick of the July bunch (in my humble opinion)

    As has been my most recent "tradition", I have chosen one post from the previous month's linked posts to showcase here and I'm continuing this month as I think it's a great way of showing off other bloggers in my own little corner of blogland. As always, as all the linked posts from July were great, and you should check them all out here.

    Francesca's July Festa Favourite is:
     
     Finally Here! from A Study in Contradictions


     
    Kylie had a beeeeaaauuuuuuudiful baby girl. What more is there to say? Congratulations Kylie!


    Now, let's see what August awesomeness we can bring to Francesca's Festa of Favourites. Happy linking!







    (Speaking of linking, today I'm linking up with Jess for ibot)


    04 August 2013

    Raising Girls: Steve Biddulph

    Image source


    It's a rare occasion that I find myself roaming around the non-fiction section of my local library - I'm definitely more of a fiction reader. But a few weeks back, I was looking for something a bit different to read - something which would expand my knowledge of ... something.

    When I saw this book on the shelf, it jumped out at me (well not literally - books don't just jump off shelves, you know that, right?). As you know, it's called Raising Girls and seeing as I have three of them, I thought it might be worth a read.

    Unfortunately, I found its tone at the start off-putting. It was overly familiar - like when a person you hardly know assumes you have the same opinions and attempts to create an in-joke. And perhaps my first impression clouded my opinion from then on, but I felt like it started from quite a negative standpoint (all the things which can go wrong, or which parents do wrong), with positive spins (this is how you can get it right). Instead of making me reflect on what I've done right so far and looking forward to developing relationships with my daughters as they grow, I started making myself feel guilty about little bits and pieces I had done "wrong" and became terrified of what my daughters will face as teenagers.

    There were some pieces of advice which were great, noble ideas but completely impractical. At one place in the book, it was suggested that mother and daughter have a weekend away once per year, just the two of them. At another point in the book, it was suggested that father and daughter have a weekend away once per year, just the two of them. By my calculations, with three daughters and two parents, my family would be up for six weekends away without us getting a chance to all spend the weekend away together - I don't think so.

    Negatives out of the way - overall the book contained good insight into raising daughters, particularly for me, as a window to the future regarding the stages we haven't reached yet. The book splits girlhood into five stages of development. Each stage asks a "big" question and works towards an outcome. Some things are intuitive; others aren't. It was a good book to open my eyes to what's out there and make me think about what each of my girls is going through at their unique stage in life right now, as well as into the future.


    Book: Paperback. Borrowed from my local library.
    Rating: I have given this 3 stars on Goodreads.
    One-liner: A bit patronising in parts and some throw-away comments made it sound like the author was on his high horse, but the book contained good insight into raising daughters

    01 August 2013

    Letting My Hair Down

    Francesca Writes Here
     
    Saturday started out much like any other day, only smoother. Grocery shopping was drama-free. MissyMoo1 (6) had a bye in netball, which meant a little less rushing around. MissyMoo2 (4) had a great time at a friend's birthday party, which was walking distance from our house and I had a lovely catch-up with a friend there too. My ladies team won netball that afternoon. With the day-time happenings alone, it would have been a great day.
     
    But there was icing on Saturday's cake: a night out with my netball team!
     
    What started out as an idea to have a drink after the game ended up turning into everyone going home, freshening up and making a night of it.  I rushed home, showered, prepared and ate dinner with my lovely family and before I knew it, I was back out the door. My awesome Hubby took care of the night routine with the MissyMoos while I found myself on a girls' night out.
     
    Not only was the timing changed from an afternoon chat to a night out, the venue was also changed, to accommodate ...
     
    KARAOKE!
     
    Now, a looooong time ago, I blogged about karaoke dreaming.
     
    Karaoke was not my idea but I happily went along with it. At the time, I thought I hadn't done karaoke since before I was pregnant with MissyMoo1. I now realise that I actually did do a bit at Hubby's work Christmas party last year, but I was sober and amongst my husband's work colleagues so it was a nervous and self-conscious experience rather than a truly enjoyable experience.
     
    Saturday night was a truly enjoyable experience.
     
    B and I rocked up at the pub together. Others arrived, stories were exchanged, laughs aplenty were had. And then the lights dimmed. The karaoke person called my name (well, a shortened version of it because I didn't think she'd be able to pronounce my name properly so I didn't bother writing the whole thing out on the slip of paper). I grabbed the microphone and faced the screen nervously, realising that being one of the first cabs off the rank was a tall order, as the crowd hadn't been warmed up yet. Thankfully, there's no "I" in team, so my team mates all got up and danced to the song, putting a smile on my face and in my voice, and allowing me to look away from the screen to a sea of friendly faces.
     
    It had been so long since I let my hair down and had fun like that without having to think about my responsibilities, with the freeing effect on my spirit which singing gives me, and has always given me.
     
    So, this week I am thankful for last Saturday - for friends, fitness and fun.
     
    A friend of mind recently put this picture up on Facebook and I thought it would be a great thing to put up in a Thankful Thursday post. It comes from an article called "How Gratitude Can Help You Through Hard Times" by Robert Emmons.
     

    Image Source
     
    So, be thankful and add years to your life!
     






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