27 January 2014

Gold Coast = SUMMER!

Recently, Francesca and famiglia locked up the rented house and went for a family holiday up to the Gold Coast. Hubby booked it waaaay back last June. He must be psychic or something, to have known how much we were in need of a family getaway. With all of our stresses in recent months - selling our house, moving, preparing to build - on top of the usual day-to-day pressures of juggling family and work life, this holiday was exactly what we needed to put a wet blanket on our stress levels and spend some uninterrupted quality time together as a family.

We stayed at an amazingly kid-friendly resort. Funnily enough, Lara from This Charming Mum recently stayed there too and she published a post about the place while we were there! Small world! We spent most of our time hanging out in the resort.

I began the holiday slightly nervously, wondering how the MissyMoos would be in the pool and around lots of other people. I was also slightly nervous about wearing my bikini out at the resort pool. I needn't have been. Never before have I seen such a collection of cellulite and stretch marks in all their glory!

We had fantastic weather all week and spent most of our time here...


...and I managed a few visits here...


Hubby took MissyMoo1 (7) here a few times...



As you can see, the water play areas were awesome and the MissyMoos were great. The previous week's daily swimming lessons had helped greatly with their confidence in the water, particularly for the younger two. MissyMoo1 could swim, touch the bottom, duck dive, do the wiggle work - all the fun stuff I used to watch other kids do when I was young (because I'm a rubbish swimmer). MissyMoo2 (4) and MissyMoo3 (2) had their floaties on and had a fun time splashing around. It was a joy to see all of them grow in confidence and have more fun from their water play every day.

We hadn't been to the Gold Coast since having kids and I'd never been to any of the theme parks before. So we spend two days theme-parking it at Dreamworld and SeaWorld, and taking in the sights.

The beach at Surfer's Paradise

Admiring the boating view from the side of the road

Sea Lion show at SeaWorld - MissyMoo1's favourite

Penguins - "they look like they're flying in the water!" (MissyMoo2)

Dolphin Show at SeaWorld - my favourite

This is where they did the JetSki show at SeaWorld

We did a lot of walking on those days, but it was wonderful to surround those big days out as a family with down time as a family. And sit in this funky chair at the end of a long day of doing nothing ;-)


It was brilliant to have some time away but, equally, coming home was comforting. After swearing we would never again buy another bottle of water or allow the children to eat chicken nuggets and chips (oops, already done both since), it felt great to be back in our own beds, eating home-cooked meals. Being away for over a week even made the rented house feel a bit like "home".

11 January 2014

World Domination or Dribs and Drabs?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware that I have written a novel. It is called Returning.

I plan to self-publish Returning. Soon. I have pretty much chosen who I will use to facilitate the publishing process, I've obtained quotes and I'm almost ready to sign on the dotted line.

The thing is, there are so many things I could do and include in the package I buy. But should I? How much am I really comfortable spending? These questions are swirling around in my mind and, to be honest, it's kind of stressing me out - when I'm on holidays from work too, which is completely unhelpful!

So, in order to turn chaos into order and pull my wandering thoughts into line, I am currently trying to work out my goals for Returning.

No matter what, as a self-publisher, it's up to me to promote Returning. This does not change no matter how many you beaut distribution channels I have set up, how many e-reader conversion types are done, how much dosh I splash out on printing books. It's my responsibility to sell the book. I plan to set up a webpage, do some social media stuff, maybe even have a book launch. It's all very exciting. But first things first.

If I pay for distribution and e-book conversion, it's over twice the cost of just publishing and printing 50 copies of the book. There's also an annual listing fee for the distribution channel. Whether I make my money on the listing fee alone depends on selling quite a few books. But if I get all the bells and whistles, the books are available worldwide - people could search for Returning through Amazon or another online bookseller and buy it, with no extra expense or effort for me.

But finding Returning without actually searching for it specifically would be a needle-in-a-haystack situation. I don't expect people to stumble on it and buy it. To search for it specifically, people need to know it exists. So it comes back to my promotion of it.  No matter how much I spend on a self-publishing package, I will still be doing the same things to promote it. So, the people most likely to buy Returning will be people I know, either personally or online, people who have heard about it through people I know, or people who stumble on it through an online search engine (another needle-in-a-haystack scenario though). So is it worth paying for Amazon and other listings and print on demand? ...

If I just plain publish it, without paying for print on demand or other distribution channels, my upfront expenditure is reduced, but it is also up to me alone to distribute it. This means taking orders myself and posting books to people who have bought them. So while I pay less upfront in this scenario, it arguably involves more effort on my part, as well as paying for postage to people.

Do I pay a mozza for distribution channels and ebook conversion to "put it out there" so it's more accessible for people to buy, or do I just plain publish it and save my pennies for our building loan?

Those of you who have some experience in this area, do you have any advice? Have I missed anything? Am I over-thinking??

10 January 2014

Francesca's Festa of Favourites: January 2014

Welcome to another year of the Festa!

I started this linky a year ago, BB (i.e. before Bloglovin) as a way of bookmarking my favourite posts in a given month and to allow others to share their favourites too.

I love being able to share posts from other bloggers and I feel like we have the beginnings of a little Festa community coming together here.

To celebrate the first anniversary of the Festa, I have created a bloggy button for this linky:

Francesca Writes Here

It also appears on my sidebar. Feel free to add it if you link posts to this link-up or if one of your posts has been added by someone else.

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 til I get dimples 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 December bunch (in my humble opinion)

Each month I like to choose a post from the previous month's linky party to showcase. I think it's a great way of showing off other bloggers in my own little corner of blogland. To check out all the posts linked up in December, click here.

The December Festa Favourite is:
 
 For the Girls from Blonde Ambition.

In this post, Brooke shares her story of some amazing friendships born from tragedy which have stood the test of time. Go and read it!
 
Now, let's see what goodies you bring along to Francesca's Festa of Favourites in January 2014. Happy linking!





09 January 2014

Lyrics: Posso Avere Un Gelato

I've written about this before, but one way I like to teach Italian to the MissyMoos is through song. Play School and The Wiggles have contributed to my knowledge of simple songs for kids using the Italian language and I thank them for their contribution to this cause  ;-)

Original image sources here and here


One such song appeared on an episode of Play School a couple of years ago. I memorised it and taught it to the MissyMoos

Posso avere un gelato
Un gelato grande grande
Posso avere un gelato
Un gelato tutto per me.
 
 
A week or two ago, this song was on Play School again - the MissyMoos were so excited to hear it and they joined in! Their young brains are sponges soaking up linguistic and musical goodness :-)

08 January 2014

Frozen

A strange title for a blogger sweltering in an Aussie summer, but I'm not writing about the weather. Well, not my weather.

We launched the new year with a milestone: MissyMoo3's (2) first time at the cinema and, consequently, the first time the five of us have been to the movies all together as a family.

We saw, you guessed it
Image source
For a great rundown of the messages in this movie, check out this post from Where the Wild Things Were. 

My post isn't a review - it's just a post.

MissyMoo1 (7), Hubby and I all liked it. I loved the music. I got a bit teary during some of the "sister" themed scenes - having a little sister of my own as well as having three daughters, it was bound to happen. MissyMoo1 wants us to buy the movie on DVD (as with every other movie ever made...)

MissyMoo2 (4) was a little scared during the stormy scenes but when we spoke about it afterwards, we focused on what she liked about the movie, like the snowman. She's a sensitive one, but no nightmares yet, thankfully.

MissyMoo3 (2) sat still for a lot longer than I thought she would, I'll give her that. Then she stood on the edge of her seat and held onto the top of the seat in front (much like she does at church). At least we were sitting in the back row. Actually, the back row was the best place for us and the cinema had these cool booster seats for the kids so they were sitting up just as high as us (yes, it's been a while since I've been to the movies with the kids ... or maybe this was my first time ... not sure...). I started off holding onto her by the back of her dress, but Miss Independent wouldn't have a bar of that. It was all good until she fell into the abyss onto the dark floor. It was pitch black down there and I couldn't see a thing, so I just had to reach down and scoop her up. I got at least half an hour of cuddles on my lap from then, so it wasn't all bad.

It had been so long since I had been to the movies, that I had forgotten how much I like it - the huge screen in front of your eyes, the darkness blocking out all other distractions, the surround sound pulling you into the movie. It was the first time we all ventured to the movies together, but it certainly won't be the last.

02 January 2014

A Thankful Thursday


I think this is the first Thankful Thursday I have participated in since Rhianna took over the reins from me. I didn't mean for it to be so many weeks between thankful posts, but blogging time hasn't exactly been at a premium for me recently.

The other day, I saw this photo on my computer:


I took it a couple of months ago with blogging in mind, but never got around to including it in a post. It sums up so much of what I have to be thankful for in my life right now.

  • My three gorgeous MissyMoos - the family Hubby and I have created together, three gorgeous individuals growing and transforming before our eyes, loving us, trusting us and fulfilling us.

  • Our lifestyle - our local playground by the water, untouched by high-rises, where we can chase errant seagulls, potter in the tinny and happen upon people we know. This is why we left city life all those years ago. This is what we wanted for our family.


There are times when the costs and stresses of building can get us down (yes, already, even before a brick has been laid!), there are times when balancing work and family feels like a continual struggle. But maybe if I look at this picture it will help me to remember that we're almost there. This is it. This is why we do what we do. This is what matters. This is the reason. This makes me so thankful.

01 January 2014

Here's to 2014 - Happy New Year

With the coming of the new year, I expect to see (and have already seen) an abundance of "resolutions" blog posts out there in the blogosphere. Some people choose one word to be their word for the year.

This isn't really one of those.

This year ...


... I just want to keep doing what I do, but better. (Hang on, that still sounds a bit like a resolution).

I think that the way I can do this can be summed up in one word: LOVE. (There's the one word - okay, okay, it is one of those posts)

If I cook a meal with love, rather than grouching about how tired I am, the meal tastes better. If I look upon my children with love instead of a critical eye, their mood lifts and they feel better. If I do something nice for Hubby instead of nagging him about stuff, he feels more positive.

There's a lot of stuff written out there about putting yourself first. This is not what I believe or want to live in my life. Don't get me wrong, we can't forget ourselves. We need to care for ourselves - it's very important to make time to do what fulfils us. But not to the point of being selfish. Not at the expense of those we love.

When we love unconditionally, we put others first. I put Hubby and the MissyMoos first because I want to, because I love them. And because they love me, they don't take advantage of that. It's mutual caring, loving, pieces of a puzzle fitting snugly together. It's not a perfect world, and sometimes the pieces don't fit, but this is what I strive for.

Similarly, if I strive to do what I do in my everyday life (e.g. working, blogging, volunteering at playgroup, self-publishing my book) with love in my heart, I will be more motivated, feel more positive and hopefully dispel the feeling of that thing becoming a chore before it takes hold and weighs me down.

So, this turned out to be a new year's resolution post after all. On the first of January. Who would have thought? ;-)

Happy new year everyone!
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