Thanks for stopping by. Mummy Mayhem is no longer updated. I now have a new, albeit smaller blog over at www.jodieansted.blogspot.com.au.

Drop by anytime. :)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So, What's REALLY on Your Takeaway Pizza?

When it comes to takeaway pizza, are you getting what you paid for?

Many years ago, a guy I knew who worked in a pizza restaurant told me how he and other employees used to sometimes place a tiny piece of meat in the middle of a vegetarian pizza. Just for kicks. Tsk tsk. (Be warned, vegetarians.)

Interestingly, one night I was telling this story to a couple of friends as we sat over a vegetarian pizza (they were both vegetarians themselves) and suddenly one of the girls picked up a piece and there it was: a small piece of meat - right in the middle of the pizza!

Hence, I've always been a bit suspicious of takeaway pizzas. Am I getting what I asked/paid for?

A few weeks ago, Hubby gave me some new information that has put me off the takeaway pizza. Probably for good. If you don't want to be put off, you might want to click away now, but I think you'll find this interesting...

Hubby had a meeting recently with someone who knows the pizza business. This was not a meeting between two foodies (Hubby can cook, but you won't find him on an episode of Masterchef anytime soon), it was just a business meeting.

The guy that Hubby met was telling him about the pizza business, and how at least one major takeaway pizza business here in Australia is not quite serving up what you think you're getting.

Get this: turns out, the cheese on your takeaway pizza (from the particular outlet I'm referring to) is not just cheese. Nuh-uh. Cheese is in there...yes...but less than half of the cheese on your pizza is actual cheese.

The rest, my dear readers is...potato starch.

Potato starch is, of course, the starch that is extracted from potatoes. The starch is used as a filler to make your pizza seem like it's topped with luscious, gooey, copius amounts of stringy, yummy, wholesome cheese. But nope, it isn't.

It's much cheaper, you see, to use a filler rather than 100% good-for-you cheese that pizza stores not only promise you is on your pizza, but should be on your pizza. Hell, you pay for that 'cheese'. Don't you deserve to get real cheese on your pizza?

This information has now ruined the takeaway pizza for me. Just like when I met a girl who was a Manager for a major takeaway chicken outlet, and although she wouldn't allaborate as to why she wouldn't eat it, she said that working there had ruined all chances of her ever eating potato and gravy packs served at such establishments again. Her story put me off too, and I've never touched the stuff since.

Seems the mantra we constantly hear is correct...if you want good, wholesome food - you'll have to make it yourself.

If you want a really easy pizza dough recipe, I posted one on here aaaages ago, and also on my recipe blog. Seriously, once you start making your own dough, you won't want to go back anyway. We make it pretty much every Friday night.

What takeaway food do you avoid? Ever found anything in your takeaway food that shouldn't actually be there? 

Image: We Heart It

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Unwanted Parenting Advice & How to Deal With It

Whether you like it or not, as soon as your first child is born you will receive truckloads of advice from family, friends and even strangers. Some of it will be useful. Some of it won't. Rarely, will it be asked for.

It starts in hospital. After the birth of my first son, one midwife walked in after another giving me advice. Although obviously part of their job, unfortunately the advice usually conflicted from one midwife to another. By the end of my hospital stay, I didn’t feel confident and ready to start my new life with my child. Rather, I felt confused and anxious. Did the clicking sound my new son made during breastfeeding mean he was not attached properly (as one midwife suggested) or did it mean he was drinking my breast milk (as another had)?

About five months later, I was standing outside a supermarket – my son happily chewing on a cloth book whilst propped up in his pram – when a little old lady wandered over and observed him chewing at the book. She said, “Oh, look. He’s teething.” She then went on to explain to me how to use a lemon and some other items I can’t recall to help relieve his ‘discomfort’. Um…see that smile there on my son’s face, dear lady? That’s because he’s happy to be chewing a book, not because he’s trying to show you his sore and throbbing gums!

Seven months after that – with my son now 12 months of age – I was sitting in a cafĂ© feeding him a jar of baby food I had purchased. An older woman approached me and basically chided me for doing so. She went on to tell me how her daughter never gives her baby ‘manufactured food’. Well, good for her. She must be an absolute LEGEND of a parent. Now why don’t you mind your own business? I wanted to say. Instead, I replied, “Sounds like she’s doing really well,” smiled, and went back to spooning food in to my son’s hungry mouth.

Of course, unwanted advice is not restricted to new babies. Throughout your child’s life - no matter what new challenge their facing - there will be people around you offering their advice whether you asked for it or not. However, unwanted advice is especially dished out to new parents.

Almost always, the advice relates to parenting principles that have evolved over time. A lot of what we do now with our babies (feeding, sleep etc) is very different, say, to when our own parents had their kids. Things that have changed considerably since our own parents had you and I:

* When to start solid food - 6 weeks vs 6 months
* The temperature of a baby’s bath - The recommended temp is higher these days.
* Sleep routines - Babies on their tummies vs babies on their backs.
* Breastfeeding - Set feeding times vs feeding on demand.

In the beginning, I used to get very defensive about the advice I was given about the above and more, and probably didn’t hide very well my frustration and annoyance. Let’s face it: it’s difficult when you already feel like a mediocre parent (as many parents do) to then have someone tell you – sometimes time and time again – what you’re doing wrong.

However, over the years I have learnt to deal with it a different way.

Whether you receive unwanted advice from family, friends or strangers, the way to handle it is the same:

1. Smile and say thank you. As difficult as it is to do sometimes, it’s often the best way to get the person giving you the advice the chance to move on. If they think you’re probably going to use their advice, they’ll feel satisfied and leave you alone!

2. Give soon-to-be grandparents a parenting book. As I mentioned above, by the time you have your own children, your own parent’s advice is sometimes thirty years plus old. See it from their point of view: they have raised you and all has worked out okay, so why wouldn’t they think the way they parented was best?

If you give grandparents-to-be a parenting book like, for example, Robin Barker’s Baby Love or the classic, What to Expect The First Year they can read all the new techniques and routines for themselves, which, although not guaranteed to do so, may stop the unwanted advice and any arguments over the best way to do things once the baby is born. 

3. Ask for advice occasionally yourself. Your parents want to feel a part of their grandchild’s life, and really just want to help you. So, help them to feel a part of it by occasionally asking them for advice. You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, but they’ll feel included just by being asked - and who knows...you might actually learn something!

4. Ignore mean-spirited advice. Occasionally, some people want to tell you what you’re doing wrong, and not in a very helpful or tactful way (little old ladies are notorious for this)! Try to just ignore their advice, or if they persist, don’t be afraid to tell them to mind their own business, in as tactful a way possible! ;)

5. Remember that people generally mean well. People really do generally mean well, and just want to help when they offer advice. They’re not thinking about the fact that ten people before them have probably given similar or conflicting advice, and more advice will follow theirs. 

Just breathe…

How do you deal with unwanted advice? What’s the worst piece advice someone gave you regarding raising your child? What's the best piece of advice (wanted or otherwise) you got when your first child was born? 

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Week That Was... The Kindness of 'Strangers', Gelato & Old Friends

The week that was...

With a ski trip planned this year, I took to Twitter recently to ask my lovely tweeps for advice on what online store to use for ski clothes for the 4yr old. (Twitter is really handy for that stuff!) I received a number of helpful replies, but one in particular knocked my socks off.

The lovely Kirsty of 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle (on Twitter as @shamozal) was in Oz by chance when I sent out the message (she currently resides in Qatar) and happened to have a size 5 ski suit which she no longer needed (not a lot of snow in Qatar, apparently) and offered to send it to me. Just like that. It arrived this week and FITS PERFECTLY.

Kirsty's generosity is proof, once again, about the kindness of (almost, sorta, kinda, but not really) strangers. Kirsty has never met me - she only knows me through my blog and Twitter - and yet, she was kind enough to do me a HUGE favour, and go out of her way to do it. (Thanks again, Kirsty. You're a lifesaver!)

Kirsty's not actually the first blogger/Twitter pal to help me out. Bern of So Now What (@Bern_Morley) has single-handedly ensured that I do some ironing on occasion by sending me tv series on DVD to watch. My husband should personally thank her for that. (Thanks, Bern!)

*     *     *     *     *

When Hubby and I took our two eldest boys to Italy in 2005, Hubby became obsessed with gelato. Every day we'd have to get at least one serve of the stuff. He almost always went for chocolate. I loved banana with fresh whipped cream (hmmmm).

Anyway, he decided then and there he wanted a gelato-maker. We searched the streets of Rome for one. Lots of fake Louis Vuitton handbags, but no shops with gelato machines. (I'm certain we were looking in the wrong places.)

However, later that year I bought Hubby one on sale at David Jones for his birthday, and he's made gelato ever since.

His signature flavour is dark chocolate. It's the best chocolate gelato I've EVER had. Served with fresh whipped cream to soften the flavour, it's delicious!

Last week, over three nights, he made pistachio, coffee and choc chip gelato to take to friends for dinner on Saturday night. They were all yummo.

What a clever Hubby I have.

*     *     *     *     *

Friends of ours from Perth arrived last week with their two boys. They are staying not too far from us, so we've enjoyed their company on a number of occasions. It's always lovely to catch up with people that we've known for a long time. There's a familiarity and ease that goes with that kind of friendship. Our boys have loved having their sons to play with. They've also enjoyed the odd late night over the past week (tsk, tsk). They'll survive. It's been worth it. Safe travels home today, K & L. xxx

*     *     *     *     *

This week on the blog, I had an overwhelming, wonderful response to my post Some Days, Life is like a Bag of Lemons. Thanks everyone. xxx It was time for a rant about Supermarkets this week. Thanks to those who joined in! I continued my fiction writing (SO much fun) for Write on Wednesdays. And I shared a list of stuff I think you should look out for. Including my two giveaways! Check them out and enter...winners will be drawn next week.

I even managed to post my scone recipe on my recipe blog, as well as my latest fab food find.

Have a lovely weekend, ya'll.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stuff to Look Out For - and TWO GIVEAWAYS!

I've found some more great stuff for you to look out for! 

Some of it has been sent to me, but some of it I discovered myself (because I'm clever like that). ;)

The first item I found myself, and I LOVE that by purchasing it, I'm also helping to raise money for breast cancer research.

I love drinking tea from fine bone china. It just tastes all the better (she says as she lifts her pinky finger and sips her tea).

To be honest though, when I first thought of fine bone china, I instantly thought of expensive Royal Doulton tea cups, and figured I wouldn't be purchasing such cups for myself in the near future. However, it doesn't have to be expensive. The finer the china the better, but I found some mugs that I LOVE to drink out of, as does Hubby and my friend, Jen. (I bought her one too.)

I bought Hubby the blue mug at the back on the right at Christmas.
Cos' he kept stealing mine! 

Maxwell & Williams are committed to donating over $100,000 per annum to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and if you purchase one of their pink ribbon mugs, you're ensuring this happens.

I used to have this one before the 4yo knocked it off the arm rest of the couch:

So then I bought myself this one:

I just really missed my mug, and besides...purchasing a new one is for a good cause!

I bought Jen the same mug, just in green. I noticed the other day there are even more designs on offer. Yippee! The mugs retail for RRP $9.95 each. I bought mine from my local House store. But you can also buy one directly from Maxwell & Williams HERE. There are a bunch of gorgeous designs.

*     *     *

The next product was sent to me by TOYGURU.COM.AU - an online toy store in Australia.

The 9yr old LOVED constructing with this. He literally went off to his room, laid out all the pieces he needed and then put together the vehicle you see on the front of the box above. However - there are a further 12 pieces you can build - and it comes with a 40 page manual!

Having said that, the 9yr old has just enjoyed using his imagination with the set and building his own 'inventions'. RRP $79.95. Keeping it away from his brothers has been rather challenging. ;)

Order the Venture View - Water Vehicles online.

*     *     *


Because I grew up with a very handy mother who liked to sew, I love homemade stuff. Can't do it myself, because I'm about as handy with a sewing needle and thread as I am with a flute and a cobra (ouch)...hence, I like to leave it up to those who have the talent. I shall just stand back and admire!

Now, the very lovely Christie, whom I 'met' through the blogging world has opened her own Made It store called Joyful Creations. You should see her stuff. GORGEOUS! Bags, dresses, hats and the cutest baby boots you've ever seen. She also has a blog by the same name. You can keep up with her latest projects there.

(BTW - it is her talented sister from Flufflepot who designed my blog banner! What a clever family.)

VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR products from The World of Eric Carle
Occasionally I receive emails about products and I saw these and just had to tell you about them. Check out the Very Hungry Caterpillar products you can now buy!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Backpack from the World of Eric Carle  RRP $26.95

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Dome Umbrella from the World of Eric Carle  RRP $24.95
(This is my favourite!)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Jack in the Box from the World of Eric Carle  RRP $39.95

Stockist info: 1300 881 940 or visit www.jasnor.com.au

*     *     *

ALWAYS JACK - Susanne Gervay, Illustrated by Cathy Wilcox
A little while back now, Susanne - the author of Always Jack - was kind enough to send me a copy of her book, Always Jack (at my request - thanks Susanne!) about a boy who deals with the diagnosis of his mother's breast cancer.

Susanne is a multiple breast cancer survivor herself, so knows only too well how children can be affected themselves by such a diagnosis, as her own children were six and nine years old, and then teenagers when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Jack and his family deal with the diagnosis, treatment and aftermath of his mother's cancer. Conversations between family members help to explain what Jack's mum is going through, and this would obviously be beneficial for kids whose own parent or family member may be going through something similar - or for kids who know a friend whose parent is unwell.

However, even though the topic is obviously a heavy one, the book is peppered with humour and fun. The book even has a great recipe for Banana Cake in it! (Jack's notes next to the ingredients are so funny.)

The best bit? A percentage of royalties from the sale of Always Jack will be donated to the Cancer Council of NSW and the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre.

Always Jack - RRP $14.99
Purchase from Booktopia HERE.

*     *     *

Hubby got sent this fun pack from Gillette:

The products include:
Gillette Series Thermal Face Scrub RRP $12.99
Gillette Series Intense Cooling Balm RRP $11.99
Gillette Fusion ProGlide Power RRP $16.99
Gillette Fusion HydraGel Pure & Sensitive RRP $6.99

Hubby really liked the shaving gel, scrub and balm. The ProGlide Power razor is battery operated and has a MicroComb (5 blades, from memory). Hubby thought it worked well, although he thinks the battery operation probably isn't necessary. He couldn't see the added value in it.

But maybe you have a special guy in your life (partner, husband, father, friend) that you think might like to try it for themselves? I have two of the above packs valued at nearly $50 to give away!

HOW TO ENTER*: Just leave a comment below with Giveaway 1 somewhere in your comment. Make sure I can get you via an email address or on Twitter to let you know you've won. Giveaway will end Wednesday 27 July @ 6pm Aus EST. The winners will be announced up on my noticeboard the following day. Good luck!

Towards the end of 2009, Kylie - a mother of two young girls - started a blog called Aspiring Millionaire. Her husband was working long hours, and she wanted to find a way to make some extra cash. Kylie sat down and listed 1001 ways to make money, which became the basis of her blog.

Not long after she started it, she was contacted by a publisher who asked if she'd like to turn those ideas in to a book. Hence, 365 Ways to Make Money was born! (How cool is that?)

Kylie was kind enough to send me a copy of her book. The book is fabulous. The ideas are listed under different sections ('themes' if you like) (eg making money from home etc), so you can head straight to a section that interests you. (Although, I loved going through the whole book - it was interesting to see all the ways you can make money)! It also notes if the idea will cost you an initial outlay, or cost you nothing; whether the jobs are something suitable for your kids to do (my 9yo was completely taken with that!). Reading through Kylie's book, I was amazed at how many ways you could make money just from home, so it's particularly relevant for - although definitely not exclusive to - the stay-at-home-parent.

If you think you'd like to make some cash on the side, I would highly recommend you get yourself a copy of Kylie's book. You can order a signed copy directly from www.kylieofiu.com. HERE for $20 (which includes postage if you're in Australia). The retail price is RRP $19.95, so great value if you make some cash after buying it! 

One lucky reader though won't have to buy one, because I have a signed copy of Kylie's book to GIVEAWAY!

HOW TO ENTER*: Just leave a comment below with Giveaway 2 somewhere in your comment. Make sure I can get you via an email address or on Twitter to let you know you've won. Giveaway will end Wednesday 27 July @ 6pm Aus EST. The winner will be announced up on my noticeboard the following day. Good luck!

* You are very welcome to enter BOTH giveaways if you wish! Both giveaways are open to all Australian residents. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Write on Wednesdays - The Facebook Status

It's Wednesday, so it's time for Write on Wednesdays ("WoW") with InkPaperPen!

I'm really enjoying the process of trying my hand at fiction again. Thanks for all the lovely comments the last couple of weeks, ya'll! xxx

This week, a suggestion was made by a couple of WoW participants to use a Facebook status update as this week's writing prompt. We had to login to Facebook and use the first status update we came across. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be mine or someone else's. I chose the first one I saw - from Kerri Sackville - and then emailed her to ask if I could use it!

There were also some discussions this week about the five minute time limit. Did we think it enough? I'm quite happy with five minutes, however, I'll admit I could easily sit down and write at least 10 minutes...if not more! I need a time limit, otherwise my posts would go on and on... ;)

One of the commenters suggested that she may write five minutes and then write some additional stuff, and I decided to do this myself this week. I have a story in my head, and when my five minutes was over this week - I didn't get to finish what I wanted to write! So, I gave myself another five minutes. I hope no one minds that. (Admittedly, I added on another couple of paragraphs to finish my piece off this week too. Cheeky, I know.)

As you know, I'm continuing my story from the first WoW I joined in with. (I'll be posting each week's entries on a page you can find under the tab that says Write on Wednesdays. You know, in case you want to catch up with the story so far.) I don't usually swear here on my blog, but Cassie's character demanded it. Both Kate and Cassie are taking on a life of their own in my head!

Ok, here's the writing prompt (thanks to Kerri Sackville's FB update I found on Monday night - thanks, Kerri!) and what I wrote in the first five minutes:

“Starting to pack for New York. I find this extremely stressful, as I am an exceedingly stressful person. And do not tell me that I don't need to pack much, as I will shop when I get there. I still need to work out what to wear on the plane!”

Kate couldn’t help but smile at the group email from her friend, Rebecca. New York. Now there's a place she'd like to visit. 

Another email popped up in her inbox. The subject read: Rebecca’s Email. It was from Cassie. She opened it. It simply read, Boo-fucking-hoo.

Kate let a small laugh escape from her lips, then immediately looked up to see if any of the other passengers on the bus had noticed. They hadn’t. It was seven-thirty in the morning. Like her, many had their heads bent over their iPhones, checking their emails, Tweeting or updating their Facebook page. Some were looking out the window, no doubt mentally planning the day ahead. Perhaps some were even nursing a hangover like she was. Thank God it’s Friday, she thought.

Kate punched in the response to Cassie: Jealous, huh?

The night before, she and Cassie had met up with their friend, Leslee, at some trendy bar in the eastern suburbs; they had consumed copious amounts of champagne and dined on over-priced gourmet pizza. They had spent the night gossiping about mutual friends, laughing, lamenting over their demanding jobs and bitching about their exes.

*     *     *     *     *

See? Story only beginning there...! Here's the additional writing...I hope you don't mind reading a little more.

As always, the subject of Nick had eventually come up. At one point, Leslee - a no nonsense, straight to the point kind of girl - had put down her glass of champagne, turned to Kate and with as much focus she could muster had said, “You know what, Kate? I don’t think you were ever in love with Nick. I think you were in love with the idea of him.” Cassie had whooped with delight at their friend’s comment and she and Leslee had shared a high-five, followed by a celebratory sip of champagne.

Kate now looked out the window of the bus just as the harbour came in to view. The summer sun was shimmering on the water and she smiled watching the ferries chugging slowly in to Circular Quay. She had lived on the lower north shore of Sydney all her life, but had never bored of the scene now before her.

What if Leslee was right? Had she just been in love with the idea of a relationship with Nick? After all, he was never really hers to begin with. Just like Cassie had reminded her yesterday: he wasn’t her future.

In the distance, she saw a boat rolling over the backwash of a ferry and she thought back to the day she and Nick had sailed on the harbour together. Just the two of them. As they lay out on the deck on their backs, their faces to the sun allowing the heat of the late afternoon to envelop them like a warm blanket, she had never felt happier.

She had felt Nick roll towards her and move up on to his side, watching her. Then his hand had traced the length of her arm, from her hand up to her shoulder and then across her chest, before resting on her neck. He had then gently turned her head towards him, leaned down and kissed her. “I wish…” he had started in between kisses, but never finished his thought.

Kate shook her head as if to release the memory. She looked down at the goose bumps now covering her arms. The thought of Nick touching her…

Cassie was right. She had to forget Nick. 

*     *     *     *     *

To read other contributions to this week's Write on Wednesdays - or to join in yourself - pop on over to InkPaperPen.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stuff Supermarkets REALLY Need to Work On

The weekly shop is the bane of my life. (Apart from the ironing, that is.)

I usually go on Mondays, straight after the 4yr old's swimming lesson in the morning. I could go on my own on Tuesdays when the 4yr old is at daycare - iPod headphones in, the music from Glee keeping me company (my current fave listening) - but I don't like to give up my 'day off' (note the inverted commas) to food shop. I know. I'm a top parent like that.

Seeing that I'm quite the seasoned visitor at such establishments, I've come to realise there are a few things that really bug me about supermarkets that I think requires IMMEDIATE attention. I've put together a list. (I'm helpful like that.)

I think supermarkets should:

1. Service their trollies. Why is it, that I always end up with the trolley that wants to go right, and I spend the whole shop trying to correct it. Why?

2. Install 'facilities' in supermarkets. Why can't supermarkets have their own toilet? Just one is all I'm asking for - a Family toilet, say - so that when I get mid-way through my shopping and my 4yr old announces he NEEDS to go wee-wee and he JUST CAN'T WAIT, I don't have to abandon my trolley and make the mad dash one floor down, all the time praying he doesn't wee all over the floor. Seriously, they can fit in a gazillion freezers stacked with crap, preservative-filled food but can't fit in a measly toilet? It's just not right.

3. Stock the full range of one brand. Why is it that, for example, I can purchase Bickford's Diet Lemon and it's Lemon & Lime cordial in Coles, but I can NEVER get it's plain old (and rather traditional) Lemon? Diet Lemon, yes. Normal Lemon? Nope. I can get Lemon in Woolworths - just not in Coles. Why is that? It's very inconvenient. I end up buying another brand, because I'm not going to do the rounds of all the supermarkets within my vicinity to get what I want. Who has time for that?!

4. Provide an explanation chart for milk. Why are there SO many different types of milk? Seriously, do we really need that many? I remember when lite milk was exotic. These days? Bah! If we do need all this milk, a chart detailing all the milks' details would be handy. I'm just sayin'.

5. Use their modern technology if they have it. Every. Single. Week. I head to the deli counter to pick up my 300 grams of double-smoked ham, and the counter has one of those electronic boards where you take a ticket and wait until your number comes up on it. Except, that the shops I frequent, they NEVER use it. First, I waste time taking a ticket at all, only to realise they're not calling numbers. Five minutes later. Then I end up stressing myself out trying to work out who was there before me, and who came after. She was definitely here before me. So was he. Oh, wait...was that lady here already, or did she just arrive? I can't remember. No. She DEFINITELY came after me. Hey! She's inching her way closer to the front and trying to push in! Hmph. The cheek of it all.

6. Educate its employees that time is of the essence. Some check-out staff are great. They whip my shopping through so fast, I can barely get it on the check-out counter fast enough. Others, however, act as though, Oh, I can't be bothered and geez...this is SO bo-ring (*studies her nails*), I can barely make myself pick up these products and put them in the bag. Yawn. It literally takes all the strength I can muster to not: a) roll my eyes in frustration; and b) ask them to HURRY UP, DAMMIT, before my 4yr old requires another toilet stop!

7. Explain to their check-out staff that recycled bags are not necessarily easier to lift. Most of the time (except when I have a ditzy moment on occasion and forget), I take my recycled shopping bags with me when I do the food shop. I love that they don't fall apart - overflowing with groceries - when I lift them in to the car. I love that they are environmentally friendly. HOWEVER...why do check out staff think they should be able to load them up so much? I mean, have they ever tried to lift a recycled shopping bag packed with two 3 litre milk bottles, a 2 litre bottle of orange juice and a 2 litre bottle of apple juice. Huh? Have they?! Perhaps they've figured I've already done my back in birthing three boys, so what the hell. Let's finish her off, I can almost hear them thinking.

8. Get rid of the self-service check-outs. I've tried them. Multiple times. Every time I do, SOMETHING happens and I need assistance. And then I wait. And wait. And wait. And I'm starting to see that the line I was going to join has moved much faster than I have, and the lady I would have been in front of - had I not left my spot for the self-service option - is now collecting her bags and leaving. GONE! All because the 4yr old thought it would be FUN to scan the shopping and I thought it would be FUN to let him do it. But it's not fun, because he scans the item, then puts it in the wrong place, or scans it twice and it soon becomes apparent that WE'RE NEVER GONNA GET OUT OF HERE because we need assistance. Again. Oh and now the 4yr old needs to pee. Again. Just brilliant.

How about you? What annoys you about the food shopping? Got any ideas how supermarkets could improve? Don't hold back. They're definitely reading this. *cough*


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Some Days, Life is Like a Bag of Lemons...

I remember what I thought of motherhood before I became a mother myself. 

I used to envy the mother pushing her pram down the street, dressed in her tracksuit. 'How comfy and easy life must be,' I thought.

Seeing a family, sitting at a cafe - the toddler strapped in to a highchair devouring a piece of cake - I'd think, 'Family time together. How precious.'

Then I had my own children, and the reality of those scenarios hit me.

The mum pushing the pram? Well, the tracksuit she was wearing was probably the only thing left in her wardrobe - apart from her maternity clothes - that she could fit in to after giving birth to her son. Three months before. And whilst elasticised pants sounded like heaven to her during early pregnancy, by the time her baby was born she was over them. Her baby probably hadn't slept for the past eight hours, and having been up all night trying to settle him, feed him and walk him up and down the hallway rubbing his back, the 'stroll' was a last ditch attempt to stop him from screaming his head off - and to keep her from losing her mind.

And the family at the cafe? More than likely, five minutes after I left - my stomach full and the newspaper read from front to back - the toddler would start smearing the cake she was eating in to her hair and would then throw it on the floor - maybe even at other patrons in the cafe. When scolded by her mother not to (because her Daddy was too busy reading the newspaper to notice), she would then proceed to throw a tantrum, attracting lots of tsk-tsking from the little old ladies on the adjacent table. The mother would then express her frustration that she can't, "even sit for five minutes and enjoy a meal anymore without drama!" And she'd be right.

Why is it, before I had children myself, I didn't really know just how challenging parenting could be? Always a blessing, but also...difficult at times. (And I'm not just talking about the physical daily stuff we do for our children, but the emotions experienced when raising a child. When my children are upset, it pulls at my heart strings like nothing else can.)

Did I refuse to see it? Was I brainwashed by advertising campaigns featuring smiling, happy children (and parents) giving me a false sense of what lie ahead? Were parents I knew not 'fessing up to just how hard being a parent could be at times? I never thought parenthood would be 'easy' per se, but I did think it would be a lot less challenging than what it actually is at times.

When Jacinta Tynan wrote her honest, yet rather (in my opinion) irresponsible article about how mothers complain too much and motherhood isn't hard at all, I took offence to it. My main concern when Jacinta described motherhood as "a breeze" was that such an article could push some poor mother - especially one experiencing postnatal depression - over the edge. Can you imagine? Just when you think you couldn't be more of a failure as a mother, someone comes along telling you that from where she stood, "...motherhood is a cinch."

When she wrote, "It's not as if we didn't know what we were signing up for," and how it, "...has become de rigueur to complain about how arduous the whole thing is...," I couldn't disagree more.

No one told me that some days with my kids would feel like Groundhog Day. The same arguments, the same frustrations, the same drive to and from after school activities, the same preparation of my child's school lunch box. Some days, the whole predictability of it all is almost too much to handle.

Many mothers are keeping, well, mum about how they really feel. Can you blame them? Hell, we're living in the 'we can have it all' period. To admit that actually, you're letting the team down because just negotiating with your toddler what they'll wear each day is doing your head in, and the thought of trying to hold down a career as well sends you in to a tailspin, seems just plain silly. Because, you know, what's-her-name is raising three kids, running her own business, studying, knitting jumpers in her spare time, keeping the perfect home and making time to exercise and she never complains, so why should you?

As mothers, we're not supposed to complain, and when we do, we often immediately feel guilty for doing so. (And let me say for the record, that I would never wish my life any different. Any difficult day with my kids is better than any day I had in the past before they were born.) We're just supposed to feel "blessed" that we are mothers at all! And that's true - we should feel blessed, and (most of us - I'm one of them) do. However, isn't it just bollocks to expect us to never complain about the inevitable monotony that life presents to us? Should we just keep our true feelings inside, and drown in guilt instead when we don't feel like doing a happy dance every day in celebration of motherhood? 

You see, the mothers who supposedly have it all? They don't. No matter how many happy, smiley pictures they have on their Facebook page of themselves with their kids, or blog posts they write about their wonderful life, they have crap days just like you and me. Guaranteed, there's always something that's falling through the cracks in their life - and hey, there's also the cleaner, the gardener and babysitter they probably aren't telling you about, because they are (wrongly) embarrassed to do so.

In a magazine article recently, Mummy Mayhem, and another blog, were referred to as blogs, "whose owners all place great store on how normal and imperfect their mothering is." (Madison Magazine, July 2011). I can't tell you how proud I am of that quote. It has always been my hope that other mothers could relate to my posts on parenting issues. I want mothers and fathers to feel they can express they're at times confused, frustrated and disillusioned. I personally refuse to feel guilt about occasionally complaining about my life. I do that because a) I want to help others know they are not alone; and b) I need reassurance that everything will be okay, and that I'm not a failure and I'm just human. Okay?

In the movie, Forrest Gump, Forrest says, "My momma always said, 'Life was like a box chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'" And that's partly true. Life is filled with shiny, multi-coloured moments of pure joy when you open up the wrappers of life and discover what's inside.

Some days, though, life is like a bag of lemons. You know exactly what you're gonna get, and it's probably going to leave a sour taste in your mouth. That's just life.

It's how you choose to use those lemons that makes all the difference.

What about you? Did you find being a parent was a lot more challenging than you thought it would be? Do you think mothers should feel free to complain if they want to? If you're not a parent yourself, do you find it difficult when you read parents expressing their honest opinions about how tough parenting can be?


Friday, July 15, 2011

The Week That Was... Tea & Scones, an Ant Invasion, Ben 10 and a New Friend

I can't believe how quickly the school holidays have flown. 

They are ending at the right time. The kids are starting to get antsy with each other. I'm starting to get antsy with them. It's time for routine again - as much as I've enjoyed the odd sleep-in, no lunch box preparation or school tie, er, tying.

Last Friday, I made my first batch of scones in a while. I used to be really, really good at making scones. (That sounds very egotistical...but it's true! My Mum said so and she's the Baking Queen.) Anyway, for years and years - after being taught in Home Economics class in high school - I could recall the original scone recipe my teacher gave the class. Years. Then one day...poof!....it was gone. Just like that. I couldn't recall the exact amounts of the ingredients. I got myself confused and I eventually had to Google a recipe! *shakes head in dismay* The last time I baked them, they were nothing short of disastrous (but were still eaten. Food is food in this family).

However, when my friend, Fiona, came over with her two boys for a play last Friday, I decided to brave them again. Even though I knew for sure I had never used it in my original recipe, I tried some baking powder this time, and finally I got an okay scone (pictured above).

I'm still not convinced they're as good as the original ones I used to bake, but the fact Fiona and I devoured pretty much a whole plateful between us says something, don't you think?

*     *     *     *     * 

Ants have invaded our home. Again. They drive me insane. We have ants nests around the garden, my pest control guys tells me, so we need to sort those to stop the ants marching on my kitchen bench. I opened up the water tank of the coffee machines this morning, and there were HUNDREDS of the damn things in there! Ugh! So disgusting. I spent ages cleaning it out, but who knows if they'll be back there tomorrow when I go to make coffee? Messing with the crumbs in my kitchen is one thing, but taking up camp in the coffee machine is really pushing the envelope.

*     *     *     *     *

A friend of mine called up on Wednesday wanting to know if I would like some free VIP tickets to the Ben 10 Live show at the Enmore Theatre. Woot! And so yesterday, the boys and I headed in to Newtown (I had NO IDEA where I was going) and took in the show. They were given goody bags, and after the show, we went on stage and had our photo taken with Gwen, Ben and Grandpa Max.

The 4yr old as a Ben 10 Alien
Don't ask me which one. Clueless!

To be honest, I it was the longest hour and a half of my life (let's just say it wasn't quite Mary Poppins), but the kids had a ball. The 9yo wasn't that impressed with the show (he's too cool for school, I guess) but loved the show bag and going up on stage. Thanks, Jo! xxx

*     *     *     *     *

As a bit of change of pace (not to mention more my style), I went out last night to meet fellow blogger, and now new friend, Lisa Lintern, who has a fabulous blog. My, the girl can write.

I've met Lisa twice before. Once at a makeup/wine demo thingy, and then again at Kerri Sackville's book launch. Without her, I wouldn't have found the book shop in which Kerri's launch was held and afterwards, we drank lots and lots and lots of champagne together (along with the also gorgeous, Aussiewaffler).

Part of the tapas menu. We had dusted calamari with lime aioli,
char-grilled chorizo and twice cooked chicken wings.
Followed by chocolate mousse cake and a catalan tart thingy.

Last night, we drank champagne again (although, we were both a lot more sensible this time around), indulged in some delicious tapas, and even shared some yummo desserts. And we chatted. And chatted. And chatted. You know how you sometimes meet someone and instantly feel comfy with them and feel as though you've known them forever? Well, that's Lisa. She's funny, witty and incredibly intelligent. (She told me to tell you that...but it also happens to be true.) ;) I have me a new friend, people, and it proves, yet again, that people you meet online can become real friends. Oh, yes siree.

*      *      *      *      *

The blog has been a bit light on over the last few weeks due to illness and school holidays, but I hope to be up and running again with more posts next week. I have another vlog planned to do for you soon. I've told Lisa and my friend, Jen, my idea - but they are TOTALLY sworn to secrecy. All will be revealed soon...

Until then, check out my Recent Posts on the RHS of my homepage to see what I've been writing this week.

Have a great weekend, ya'll!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Write on Wednesdays - Musically Inspired

So here I go - giving my fiction writing another whirl for InkPaperPen's Write on Wednesdays.

I am really enjoying this. I couldn't wait for this week!

I decided pretty much straight after writing last week's piece that I would try to continue the story I started. I just want to see where I can go with it. Where it's actually going, or whether it's possible at all to continue, I'm not sure yet. But hey - isn't that the fun part?

So, if you haven't already, check out last week's post.

(Sorry, that sounds a bit bossy. Only if you want to, of course. ;) )

This week's writing prompt was suggested by Janelle at Me and Mia, and I've gotta say I like it!

The idea is to choose either the first line from your favourite song OR turn on the radio and use the first line of the song you hear. Then write it at the top of the page, set your timer for five minutes and write away.

I'm not sure what my ultimate favourite song is, but I chose a song I play frequently on my iPod: Already Gone by Kelly Clarkson. If I could sing like anyone, it'd be Kelly. And believe me, in my kitchen with only the dog around, I believe for a moment I can. ;)

So here goes...

Remember all the things we wanted...
“Well, do you?” Cassie asked her. “We imagined fabulous careers and someone who would love us no matter what. A guy who could find the humour in a bit of spilt popcorn, for goodness sake!" She shook her head and sighed. "Forget last night. Move on already. You’re thirty-two. Time is a-ticking, my friend!”

Kate winced, then laughed. Cassie always found a way to cheer her up. A disastrous date was not the end of the world.

“Nick would have found it funny,” Kate said wistfully. Cassie frowned.

“Kate, don’t go there. Nick would have found it funny because he was the ‘fun’ kind of guy, remember? He didn’t take anything seriously. Especially not your feelings.”

“That’s not true,” Kate protested. It wasn’t. She felt Nick had loved her. It was just…complicated.

“Ok, I know. I’m sorry. It’s just that...” Cassie didn't finish. She didn't have to. Kate knew what she was going to say. 

Cassie took her hand. “I want what’s best for you. You know that. You need to put Nick behind you, once and for all. He’s not your future.” Kate lowered her head, nodding in agreement. “And neither is The Popcorn Guy – as he shall forever be known,” Cassie added, slapping Kate's leg playfully. “Now let’s go to that party, darlin’. It's getting way too serious around here!”

Kate laughed. Cassie was right. It was time to move on. 

*     *     *     *     *

Is it cheating that I added the last line in after the timer went off? *slaps own hand*

I'm not sure my sudden choice of names was a good thing. Too many 'C' or 'K' sounds going on? Ah, well. I just panicked...I didn't want to waste precious time coming up with an alternative name for Cassie. I wanted Kate for some reason and couldn't part with her name. ;) Five minutes flies!

If you feel like joining in with a little bit of weekly fiction writing - and want to read some others - make sure you visit...

Write On Wednesdays

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jen & Jode's Big Adventures: The Mini Road Trip

In our latest BIG adventure, Jen and I get all Thelma & Louise and take a road trip - albeit a short one. Minus the guns, convertible and - unfortunately - Brad Pitt.

I was one lucky duck recently to be given a brand new Toyota Kluger to play with for two weeks! My pal Jen (friend and official Mummy Mayhem photographer) and I decided that during that two week period, we'd head up to Palm Beach, aka Home & Away territory, on my 'day off' (all kids in school and daycare) for a bit of fun and lunch. Natch.

It turned out to be a pretty cold and slightly wet day, so the first thing we did when we got in the car was turn on the seat warmers. Niiiiice. You just can't underestimate a good seat warmer. When your arse is warm...so is the rest of you. (Just sayin'.) (Of course, as I mentioned to Jen, if you owned a car with a seat warmer and you were trying for a baby, your husband couldn't use it. Can't go heating up 'the boys' when conception is on the cards, huh?)

After waving the kids hurriedly goodbye to school, we dropped the 4yr old to daycare, then headed straight up the coast. Ah, yes...where the 'other half' live.

On our way, we stopped off in Mona Vale to visit a gorgeous stationery store that Jen had heard about. As regular readers here know: I LOVE stationery. We spent a good amount of time just perusing all the cute and lovely stationery items. I was tempted to buy half the store, but just managed to restrain myself. Just.

Image from Little Paper Plane

We wandered around looking for a cafe to curb our coffee cravings. On our wander, we stumbled across a fab book store - Berkelouw Books. It offered not only books, but a bunch of gorgeous stationery (yippee!) and nick knacks galore. Jen and I could have spent aaaaages there, but coffee - as well as lunch in Palm Beach - awaited. 

We ended up in a small, busy and cosy cafe called 2kf Espresso. We had a feeling it served good coffee and we were right. It was a weak cappuccino for me, and piccalo latte for Jen. Yum. 

Look at me - stirring my coffee before Jen got a shot of my fab milk froth pattern.
I'm impatient like that when it comes to food & beverages. ;)

 Then we were on our way to Palm Beach. Shortly after our arrival we found the perfect house for sale, including a pool with magnificent water views (at least, that's what the For Sale sign pics alluded to). We imagined going halvies and heading up to Palmy on weekends and drinking margaritas poolside. (I can't recall where we figured our husbands and children would be during this scenario - probably back in Sydney doing the weekend sports etc. Perfect.) 

Of course, this was complete fantasy stuff, but hey - I was also imagining I was the owner of brand new Toyota Kluger, so why not have the beach house to go with it?

Speaking of the Kluger, we took it off-road at the beach (well, by 'off-road' I mean the dirt verge I drove on when I took a U-turn near the beach) and it fared well. ;) I couldn't resist stopping off for a bit of Home & Away-like acting - looking wistfully out to sea - just near the surf kiosk. Classic stuff. 

Oh, Alf....where are yoooooou?

We decided - seeing that we had the cool car - we had to dine at a cool restaurant, and ended up at Barrenjoey House for an absolutely delicious lunch. 

The Kluger is parked. We had to buy a ticket for 4hr parking - which Jen so graciously did.
At least we were secure in the knowledge that we could take our sweet time. 

We actually dined in the section on the LHS of this photo.

The interior was so beautifully designed. It was enjoyable sitting there. 


 We had a couple of different menus to choose from, including this one...


I had an amazing goats cheese tartlet (my mouth is watering just thinking about it again), and Jen had a fab steak sandwich. Nom.  

Our lunch was SO delicious!

Then we couldn't help but go for dessert. I had a delicious apple & rhubarb crumble, and Jen went for a chocolate sensation ('The Chocolate Nemesis') - which tasted like a cross between chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream and cheesecake. (Yes, of course I tried it!) Delightful!

Once again...I've tucked in to mine before the photo has been taken. Geez. 

Completely stuffed, we managed to drag ourselves back in to the Kluger and bid Palmy farewell. 

We had one more stop before heading home: a gift shop in Avalon - the name of which has absolutely escaped me. It was tucked away in a small arcade. They had some great stuff there, but very expensive. There was a cool yellow typewriter there which reminded me of my old typewriter days in high school. The yellow one was actually far more interesting than the old grey one I used to have, but good memories nonetheless. ;) 

On our way home, Jen decided to take an action shot of me driving the Kluger. It almost became a shot of me demonstrating the Kluger's airbag, because just moments after this was taken, I suddenly realised, 'Oi! I better watch the road!' and managed to stop in time before driving in to another car. (Wouldn't Toyota have been pleased?)

Ha ha ha....there's no way I'm gonna crash this car.....oh WAIT!

Our trip was more than comfy in the old Kluger. Before we knew it, school pick-up was upon us, and we had no option other than to head home...

The wet weather didn't bother us...we were cosy & comfy in the Kluger!

Thanks Toyota for the Kluger. Thanks Jen for the company...and for your great pics. Looking forward to more BIG adventures with you. ;)

Hubby and I will be giving our little review on the Kluger next week, so keep an eye out for that. If you're looking for your next family car, you might find that interesting. ;)

Until then....happy travels all...