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 Mummy Mayhem is no longer updated.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. :)


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Write on Wednesdays - The Fight

This week's Write on Wednesdays with InkPaperPen is a Masterclass with none other than Kerri Sackville. 

Regular readers here will have met Kerri on my blog before. Kerri has suggested this week we write a story from our life - giving it the title The Fight.

I did wonder at first how I could incorporate this in to my weekly story, and then it came to me. Years and years ago, a friend of mine was seeing a guy who was also seeing another girl at the same time. My friend knew about the other girl (he told me, and I told her - long story!) but was so smitten with him, she was willing to allow it to happen.

As you can imagine, as her friend, I found this incredibly frustrating. And one night - after seeing her boyfriend out with the 'other woman' - a couple of other girlfriends and I confronted her, and the conversation between Cassie and Kate you're about to read is based on that conversation. I obviously had to change some stuff to reflect my own story line, but it's pretty much there. (Oh, and not long after that abovementioned night, my friend dumped the guy. Woot!)

Anyway, let's see how we go. I totally abandoned the five minute thing again. Sorry. And again, I'm open to any advice!

If you're interested in reading the story so far, you can find the links here.

*     *     *     *     *

After her breakfast with Kate, Cassie walked slowly to work. She didn’t start until nine, and in fact, most days she was lucky to be at her desk at all by a quarter after. Friday was the only day she managed to arrive on time, thanks to Kate.

Cassie’s thoughts now turned to her best friend. She hoped Kate would finally snap out of her obsession with Nick. They hadn’t been together for a number of months now, and Cassie liked it that way. Nick had been the only person who had ever come between them. In the time that Kate had been with him (just over eighteen months, Cassie reasoned), she and Kate had constantly been at loggerheads, and their friendship had almost ended for good.

Cassie recalled the night she and Kate had headed to The Oaks in Neutral Bay with friends for a few drinks – the first Christmas after Kate had met Nick at the snow. It was the day after Boxing Day. As far as Cassie knew, Kate hadn’t seen Nick since a couple of days prior to the Christmas break - not that Kate would have told her otherwise, though. It had gotten to the point where Cassie had to pry any information out of Kate about her meetings with Nick. She knew that Kate's resistance to share anything about Nick was partly her own fault. She couldn't help but express, at any given opportunity, her dislike for him, and for their relationship.   

After noticing Kate’s sudden absence from the impromptu party that had started upstairs in one of the private rooms, Cassie had searched for her friend. She eventually found her huddled in a corner of the hotel’s courtyard. Texting on her mobile.

Cassie didn’t need to guess who the recipient was.

Kate didn't notice Cassie walk towards her and look over her shoulder only to see the words, Miss u…want u…wish I could see u… lit up on Kate’s mobile phone screen.

Cassie, frustrated by what she saw, moved in front of Kate. “What are you doing, Kate?” she  asked her friend accusingly.

Kate looked up, startled. “I was just…I had to text someone." She hastily shoved her phone in to her handbag. "It was too noisy up there,” she said, motioning with her head towards the hotel's upstairs rooms. There was silence between them for some time. They looked at each other, both waiting for the inevitable war of words they knew would eventually spill from their lips, yet hoping at the same time they wouldn’t be spoken.

“Why are you doing this, Kate?” Cassie eventually asked, a feeling of frustration washing over her. “Where do you think Nick is right now?” Kate didn’t answer; instead she looked down towards her feet, before picking imaginary lint from her skirt. “Who do you think he’s with? With her? His wife? For God’s sake, Kate, it’s Christmas. He’s probably with her right now.” Kate moved to turn away, but Cassie quickly positioned herself in front of her friend. “No. Don’t walk away from me. It's time you faced this. Don’t you get it? He’s with her. They could be in bed together right now. He’s probably lying there naked next to her, Kate. Telling her he loves her.” Cassie’s voice rose. “He has both of you. When he’s not with you, he’s with her!”

Kate had then looked up, tears in her eyes. When she spoke, her voice shook, “It’s not like that, Cassie. It isn’t. I know he wants to be with me. He just…he can’t. Not yet.” She then looked pleadingly at Cassie who rolled her eyes, and placed her hands on her hips. “I know this hurts you, Cass. But Nick isn’t Paul. He’s not.” Her voice trembled again. “He's not.”

Cassie looked angrily at her friend. She wanted to slap Kate. Slap her full across the cheek and knock some sense in to her. Instead, she threw up her hands in defeat. “That's it. I can’t help you anymore, Kate. You’re so blind." She turned to walk away, but then suddenly turned back to Kate. "You know, I thought you were supposed to be the smart one. But this... You’re acting like an idiot. A fucking idiot.” Cassie turned and walked away.

Later that night, as Cassie had lay in bed listening to the constant whirring of the ceiling fan, the vision of Kate standing in the courtyard at The Oaks under the fairy lights in the trees played over and over in her mind. She tried to shut out the memory of Kate burying her face in her hands at hearing Cassie's words; her shoulders shaking with each sob. Cassie's heart ached for her friend, and her own tears fell as she thought of what she had just lost.

It would be three, long, difficult months before Cassie would speak to Kate again.

*     *     *     *     *

As you can see, I change the viewpoint from Kate's to Cassie's. I had thought about doing that earlier in the piece (a bit inspired by Kylie Ladd!), but had abandoned that for some reason. The decision to move to Cassie's viewpoint was partly prompted by Gill's comment on my last post, because I was feeling the same way about liking Cassie more than Kate!

If you'd like to join in with WoW, or simply read some other entries this week, head on over to InkPaperPen

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's a Mad World

When I was in high school - Year 11 or 12...I can't remember which. It was loooong ago, okay? - I had to read a book for English class called The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. 

Originally published in 1957, the book exposed the (then) secret world of advertising and brands. A bit like what the Gruen Transfer (a show I love to catch when I can) does today.

As one example, Packard wrote about the use of jingles in advertising to 'hypnotise' purchasers. Think about it: who can hear the song Nobody Does it Better these days without thinking of LJ Hooker? Huh? Can you?

I found the book really fascinating, which was quite a big thing for me back then, because I really wasn't in to reading anything other than Sweet Valley High and Danielle Steele books at the time. In fact, the essay I wrote summarising the book was the first (and probably the last) A+ I received for essay writing. It certainly wasn't my strong point back then, but having a fascinating subject to work with (coupled with the fact that a bunch of us got together and allocated chapters to summarise so we could switch papers and reduce the workload) meant that I got by.

Recently, I started watching Mad Men - my latest 'iron to' tv show. For those of you living under a rock, that's a tv series about the advertising industry - and the people in it - set in the 1960s. I've wanted to watch it for so long now. I love shows set in that era.

Not only do I find the advertising agency aspect of the show fascinating, it's realising how far we've come as a society that really interests me. The show begins with ad execs trying to find a way to divert people's attention from the latest research (which many of them don't believe) that seems to show that smoking is bad for you. Ha! Really? In another scene, a daughter walks in with a see-through plastic dry cleaning bag over her head and body. Her mother says something like, "Honey, don't mess up Daddy's shirts." She completely misses the fact that her daughter has A PLASTIC BAG OVER HER HEAD! Funny. And I haven't even touched on how the show depicts women in the workforce and the home. Even though we still have a way to go yet on the workforce front, it's also interesting to see just how differently women were treated back then.

I'm only a few episodes in, and have to catch up to Hubby who is currently on episode 9 (it's his current 'work out to' tv show) so we can start watching it together.

I'm totally doing some ironing today. Hooked.

How about you? What tv show has you currently hooked? Are there any advertising jingles that have totally ruined a good song for you, or has stuck in your head and DRIVES YOU INSANE?!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Musical Interlude

Lately, I've posted something here on a Sunday, but this week it didn't happen. Let me explain...

We've discovered something over the last year about the 9yr old. The boy has an ear for music.

Awww. Just like his Mum, hey?

He started guitar lessons last year, and took to it instantly. However, we've also found that he can sit at a keyboard and just pick out a song on it. Just like that. *clicks fingers*

In fact, on Saturday - using the same toy piano I used to write BLOGGING! The Musical (ahem) - he completely put me to shame (some may argue that's not a particularly difficult thing to do) by working out how to play Dynamite by Taio Cruz on the darn thing. Can you believe it? I mean, mostly single notes, but there's a section he actually worked out the chords for. And even with my piano 'skills' I couldn't have worked that out. (I did actually play piano for a couple of years in primary school, people - but then, you probably guessed that already when you saw my musical writing, huh?)

So yesterday, we drove in to the city and decided to invest in this:

Oh, people, let me tell you...I've been rediscovering my youth the last couple of days by picking out the same songs that used to stump me as a child: The Blue Danube (my mother's favourite), Fur Elise (I can only play the first bit) and English Country Garden (I can only remember the right hand so far). I even managed to work out how to change the sound to a harpsichord and picked out Greensleeves by ear (you know...the ice cream truck song that apparently King Henry VIII wrote). When I'm in one of my devilish moods, I'm going to mess with the kids' heads with that one. ;)

Anyway, the plan is to get some lessons happening for the boys. Then, my kids will no doubt form the better-looking although, I might be slightly biased version of this just with keyboards, obviously:

~image credit~


Do you play an instrument, or did you as a child? (Recorders don't count, readers. They're not instruments - just parent torturing devices, aka 'PTDs'.) Do, or will, your kids play an instrument do you think? If so, which one?


~top image~

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Week That Was... Bloggers & Jersey Shore Wannabes, Learning to Laugh at Yourself and Daffodils

From left: Lisa, Brenda & Moi 
Time to wrap up my week.

I had a huge weekend. I went out Friday night with Hubby (date night!), then on Saturday, after finally getting my hair cut and coloured after FIVE MONTHS, I headed to Tank Stream Bar in the city with my good blogging buddy, Lisa Lintern. We joined some other lovely bloggers to officially welcome home Brenda (MummyTime), Eden (Edenland) and Mrs Woog (Woogsworld) from BlogHer in the US. (For you non-bloggers, that's a rooley big annual blogging conference in the US. It's being held in New York next year, and I have to say...tempted...)

'Twas a night of frivolity and fun...and lots of champagne. As seems to be the case when bloggers - especially those that are parents and whooping it up being child-free for the night - get together.

Ribena and Macleans* hosted the event - so the theme was obviously purple and blue (hence my frilly purple top).

The ever gorgeous blogging/travel buddies, Mrs Woog and Eden.
You can tell I don't get out much. I TOTALLY lost my way to the ladies' room. Which wasn't actually a ladies room in the end...but a shared area with cubicles hidden behind mirrors that had unacceptably wide gaps where the door met the cubicle wall. I've never peed so quickly in all my life. I was just waiting for the click of a mobile phone and my unsightly self plastered all over Twitter. Scary stuff.

There was a little, 'are we going to go out or not?' afterwards, with the original plan to head to Jackson's on George. Which, to be honest, I've never been to, but have heard stories about. As in, not-so-nice-the-place-is-a-sleaze-joint kind of stories, so I was immediately unsure. As we all walked off, and people started climbing in to taxi vans, Lisa and I made an executive decision to direct some bloggers off to the Establishment. I've never been there either, and I'd always been equally as wary of the place, because I'd heard it was a bit fancy-pants, and I don't do fancy-pants well. I guess, on reflection, I sit somewhere in between sleazy and fancy pants when it comes to drinking destinations.

When we arrived, we were shocked (WHAT THE?!) to find a cover charge! We were all like, "Twenty bucks?!" so the doorman let us in for half price. Obviously DESPERATE to get a bunch of mums in to the establishment to balance out what Bianca from Bigwords Blog referred to as 'Jersey Shore Wannabes'. Oh yes...she was SPOT ON. I think we managed to fit in even though everyone was probably about twenty years younger than we were. That is, until some old song from our youth came on (a new mix of it, actually) and Bianca, Lisa and I started putting our hands up in the air and singing, "Woo, woo!" As you do. Or did, in the 80s, anyway.

Not long after, we left, and headed to Jackson's on George where we found some other bloggers and you know what? It was MUCH better. We danced around Lisa's handbag for a while before retiring for the night.

Just goes to show, doesn't it, that keepin' it real often works best in such situations.

*     *     *     *     *


Some of you may have seen my vlog this week, which I'll link to in a mo.

I had a few people come back and say, "I wish I was brave like you," or "You're so brave to put yourself out there." I think that means they wish they could just let go and do crazy stuff themselves, rather than...are you cr-a-zy, woman?!

Here's the thing: I love to entertain (always have - some, I guess, might say that's being a show-off. What-e-va), and I also love my life. I figure...why spend all my life trying to be what society deems I should be - a sensible, mature mother/woman? Pffft. Life is a one-off thing, people. Live it! Don't worry about what other's think. If you can't have fun, what's the point? I certainly hope I can show my boys that it's ok to have fun and they don't have to be Mr Serious all of the time. Like me, they can be serious and focussed when it matters, but it's also more than okay to just let go if they want/need to.

I really, honestly think that too many people take life waaaay too seriously, and the world can only be a better place if we can learn to laugh at ourselves more. :)

*     *     *     *     *

Did you know that today is Daffodil Day? If you're out and about, buy a Daffodil Day product and help support the Cancer Council who do a great job. Or you can make an online donation. :)

*     *     *     *     *
On the blog this week:

Read the story behind why my friend Kellie is running a half-marathon this September. It's such a moving story.

My latest vlog: Calling All Bloggers! - BLOGGING! The Musical

This week's contribution for Write On Wednesdays: The Walk

Date Night at MAMAK - includes a review for the restaurant. And a rare pic of Hubby. ;)

What did you get up to this week?

* Both Ribena and Macleans have some fab comps going on at the moment. If you head to Ribena's Facebook page, you can enter to win one of 3 family trips to New Zealand, and if you have a little ambitious bright spark at home you should head to Macleans' website where you can check out how to enter your child for a Bright Sparks Academy scholarship worth $5k! I wonder if a 4yo who can talk non-stop from 5.30am to 6.30am whilst wriggling around in his parent's bed is considered a bright spark? Hmmm.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Date Night at MAMAK

This is the first of four restaurant reviews I'll be doing for Malaysia Kitchen Australia.

Simply through circumstance, Hubby and I very rarely get to go out – just the two of us, that is. There are plenty of occasions in which we wine and dine with a cast of thousands (at least it sometimes feels like there are that many) or the kids. And whilst those outings are most enjoyable (except for the odd dinner out with the kids, actually – they can sometimes be nothing short of disastrous!), it is nice on occasion to just sit with Hubby and chat about all the stuff we just can’t talk about when the kids are around. Or life’s other distractions (ie computers, trashy tv) simply get in the way. 

I guess we never really think about just going out by ourselves. Without family around, we rely on our very valued and gorgeous babysitter, Maree, and it simply seems indulgent to splurge on babysitter fees just for Hubby and I to go grab a quick bite to eat.

Wrong. SO wrong.

Why shouldn’t Hubby and I invest in our relationship? On the very rare occasion we do go out on our own, we both really enjoy it. And last Friday was no exception.

When Malaysia Kitchen Australia (‘MKA’) asked me to be a Blogger Ambassador for them, I was immediately excited about it. They wanted to give me a budget to use to go and eat out and then write about it? Hello? Are you serious? Hand over that Eftpos card…stat!

Malaysia actually has a significant place in the hearts of Hubby and I – we had our belated honeymoon there in 2000 (and ate some amazing meals there - especially a spicy tofu dish in Penang), so it was only apt that my first dining experience for MKA be shared with Hubby.

For our dinner last Friday night, we headed to Chatswood to a restaurant called MAMAK (which also has a second location in Chinatown in Sydney) and the restaurant seems to have developed a reputation for its satays. Rightly so.

First things first though…MAMAK do not take reservations. It's open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, with dinner held between 7.30pm and 9.30pm. This immediately told me that dinner would be quick (it was). If you’re looking for a long, lazy dinner together…forget it. The food comes out thick and fast. 

In addition to this, if you want peace and quiet, you can forget that too. MAMAK isn’t the place for you. It’s quick, noisy (but not in an irritating way at all – it’s rather fun and vibrant!) and bustling with activity. (If the kids like spicy food, and are noisy things, it’ll be perfect for them too!)

This is only one half of the restaurant. We ended up on the other side!

However, if, like Hubby and I, you want some food before heading out elsewhere (we ended up heading to the movies afterwards - something we haven’t done in almost five years!) – then MAMAK is perfect.

Oh, look! It's Hubby...

When we arrived, we didn’t have to wait very long for a table. (Undoubtedly, if you were heading with a group, you’d wait a bit longer, but with the quick turnover, it shouldn't take too long.) As MAMAK is BYO, we took along a bottle of champers (ok, 'sparkling white' - I call it champagne, ok?) and a beer for Hubby (who maintains that beer is the best alcoholic beverage with spicy food). We probably waited close to ten minutes before I gave up and asked the waiting staff to please open our drinks. The waiter dashed off and returned less than a minute later with a corkscrew, which he placed on the table, together with a bottle of water and two hard plastic cups. Okaaay. I guessed (correctly) we were to open our own alcohol here. No biggy. I'm not precious!

With only two glasses, I flagged down another waiter and asked for glasses for the champagne. He returned with two long drinking glasses this time, and I finally got it. There would be no fancy glassware or ice buckets at MAMAK!

Champers is champers, no matter what you drink it out of. 

This wasn't a bad thing though. Obviously at MAMAK, the focus is on the food, not the alcohol. 

We ordered a selection of food. Here’s what we ate:

Roti canai - $5.50
This was absolutely, sensationally delicious. We were tempted to order a second one. Easily, one person can consume this. The roti was light, fluffy and flavorsome. The sauces, especially one (although I’m not sure what it was called) was fabulous. A really great start to the meal. *Hubby’s fave dish of the night.

Satay - $9 for half dozen, $16 for a dozen
Hubby’s not really a big fan of satay, but I really wanted to try the house specialty. We chose the chicken satays and they were AMAZING. So delicious, and Hubby even loved them too. *My fave dish of the night.

Kari ikan (Fish curry) - $17
A little bit of spice in this dish was perfect. Cooked with fresh tomatoes, okra and eggplant - yummm. The fish was a little on the dry side, but it is difficult to keep fish moist in a curry. However, the taste certainly cancelled out the slight dryness.

Sambal udang (Spicy Prawns) - $19
Woo! If you like your food hot, hot, hot…this is the dish for you. Flavorsome, but very spicy. I could only eat two, Hubby ate a few more than that. We thought they were tasty, but probably almost too hot to enjoy. (And Hubby grew up with Indian food, so he’s very used to hot food.) Not as bad though as some spicy prawns I had in a Thai restaurant once years ago though. They were so hot, I couldn’t even taste the flavours! At least with this prawn dish, the delicious flavours still came through.

Where's Jen - my official photographer - when I need her?
TERRIBLE shot. Sorry. 

I was tempted to try some of the sweet roti for dessert (served with ice cream), but we decided we were too full! It should also be noted that MAMAK has a great selection of non-alcoholic and milky drinks (including a Milo one) to enjoy with your meal. A lot of the patrons were drinking those. (As you probably know, milk counteracts the spicy component of such dishes.)

So, what’s my rating for MAMAK out of 5?

I give it: 3 1/2 out of 5
Hubby gives it: 3 out of 5

If you 'like' the Malaysia Kitchen Insiders Facebook page, you can keep up with all the latest news about great Malaysian food and restaurants.  

Do you and your partner have 'date night'? How often? Ever had Malaysian food before? Got a favourite Malaysian restaurant you would recommend?

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Write on Wednesdays - The Walk

It's time for some fiction writing for Write on Wednesdays with InkPaperPen.

This week, the prompt behind WoW is to 'take a walk', ie go for a walk and write about it.

To be honest, I was struggling with the prompt this week.

As my story is a continuing one (you can read the story so far from HERE if you wish), I wanted to continue on from last week when we left Kate heading to work after her coffee with Cassie.

Anyway, I started writing about the buildings she observed on the way to work, that sort of thing. And you know what? It was shite. Terrible!

So, I chose to view this prompt a slightly different way.

Walking, for me, is not always about observing what's around me. Walking is the perfect way for me to clear my mind and think about the stuff I can't think about when I'm surrounded by three noisy boys, a barking dog and a husband asking me where his black socks are.

And so, I chose to use my walk for this week's prompt as a way for Kate - my main character - to do some thinking of her own.

Fortunately, we were encouraged this week to forgo the five minute time limit, so I didn't feel guilty for breaking the rules. Bonus!

Here's this week's contribution. (Oh, and I'm very open to suggestions and constructive criticism - go for it! I'm here to learn, people. Thank you!)

*     *     *     *     *

Kate headed north along Pitt Street. She knew she should hurry along – it was already after eighty-thirty – but her shoes wouldn’t allow it. With each step, they seemed to squeeze her toes even tighter together, and she momentarily wondered if she could get away with wearing her runners in the office for the rest of the day? She sighed. Probably not.

Besides, she wanted some time to herself to think before reaching the office (where she would have no time to think about anything other than work), and walking had always allowed her to clear her mind and focus on anything that concerned her.

Her thoughts turned to Cassie and Dan as she walked slowly along the busy street, carefully tracing her steps around the damaged pathway. Kate knew Cassie well, and she wasn’t someone who normally made a lot of space in her life for relationships with men. Dan had no doubt struck a chord with her (six dates already!) and Kate could only assume she was particularly serious about him. How serious, though? Kate hastily shook the image out of her mind of Cassie and Dan walking down the aisle of a church - Cassie dressed in head-to-toe ivory lace - mentally chiding herself for getting carried away.

Kate had known Cassie since high school. Kate smiled recalling the day they had met at The Lower North Shore School for Girls, both just fifteen-year-olds at the time.

It was mid-year, 1988. Cassie had just arrived from Melbourne – her father’s work the reason for their move to Sydney – and she’d walked in to class on her first day with her hair bleached blonder and cut shorter than she wore it today, and bright red lipstick covering her pouty lips. Even dressed in her school uniform, Cassie looked the epitome of eighties chic, and Kate couldn’t help but instantly liken her to Madonna. (Who was, not surprisingly, Cassie’s favourite singer at the time.)

Kate had self-consciously smoothed down her own long, low, untouched pigtails her mother had tied for her that morning. She watched Cassie walk confidently down the middle aisle of the classroom – seemingly unaware of all the eyes upon her - before taking the seat next to Kate’s.

“Kate,” Mrs Wilkinson, her science teacher had directed at her, “seeing that Cassie is obviously unfamiliar with our school grounds, perhaps you wouldn’t mind showing her around at recess?” Cassie had looked at Kate and smiled warmly at her.

“Yes, miss,” Kate had replied, returning a quick, shy smile to Cassie before returning to her work.

Later, as she left science class, she had felt someone gently grab her arm. She’d looked down to find short, delicate fingers with red, brightly painted fingernails wrapped around her upper arm. And then suddenly, Cassie’s smiling face had appeared before her. “Kate, isn’t it?” she’d asked, but without waiting for an answer had continued with, “So, where do we eat? I’m starving!” She had talked non-stop the whole way to the school canteen and throughout recess, only pausing occasionally to take large, hungry bites of the Mars Bar she had purchased, which she had downed eagerly with a can of Coke. Kate had munched slowly on her Granny Smith apple (brought from home), completely awestruck as she listened to her new found, glamorous, interstate friend.

From that day on – although obvious to all they were chalk and cheese – she and Cassie were inseparable, and their friendship had barely faltered since. It remained strong even after spending two years apart on opposite sides of the world whilst Cassie traveled through Europe, then lived in London. Even when Cassie had returned and wanted to go out during the week to nightclubs, pubs or the movies - and Kate wanted to stay home and study - their friendship hadn’t suffered. They’d simply made more time for each other on weekends. Later, when Kate started her first job out of uni, and was equally as focused, they began their Friday early morning breakfast ritual before work to see more of each other.

When Cassie met Paul, Kate was convinced it would be the catalyst for change in their relationship. It wasn’t. Cassie still included Kate in her weekends plans, and they remained as close as ever.

Until, that is, Kate started seeing Nick.

Kate pushed the memory of that time aside. She didn’t want to think about that right now. Instead, she assured herself that she wouldn’t lose Cassie to Dan, just as she hadn’t to Paul. She was being silly and insecure.

As Kate rounded the corner and entered Bond Street – across the road from her office building – a text message sounded on her phone. It was from David. Where r you? Need to talk to you first thing this morn. Come see me asap. D.

Even though her feet pained her to do so, Kate quickened her step as she crossed the road and headed towards the revolving doors of the building. I wonder what that’s about? she thought to herself, but dismissed it as David's usual last minute stress before leaving the country on business. 

After entering the lift and punching the button for level twenty-nine, she replied to her boss' text message. On my way.

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If you'd like to join in on WoW, or read some other great entries, head over to InkPaperPen.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Calling All Bloggers: BLOGGING! The Musical

The vlog is back by popular demand.

Okay, not quite.

However, a few people have asked me recently about my vlogs. "When are you gonna do another one?" But when Mrs Woog and Eden both BEGGED me to do one when I saw them last Saturday night (okay, I may have exaggerated the begging part), I just knew I HAD to do one. Stat. 'Cos when those two speak, people listen, you know.

So here it is. This little project has been in the back of my mind a while now...since I saw Mary Poppins, The Musical in fact.

I feel like, by launching this project, I'm giving back to the blogging community. ;)

You're welcome.

As the video will advise, I'm looking for bloggers who can see themselves on the world stage...cos that's where this idea is going, people. I tell you. It's up and up!

Without further ado, please enjoy my latest video offering.

Thank you to all those who have asked after another vlog of mine. (And thank YOU, God, for blessing me with the voice of an angel, and a musical talent beyond what the world has seen to date. *cough*)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meet My Friend: Kellie - The Inspiration Behind Her Decision to Run a Half Marathon

Meet my friend, Kellie.

I first met Kellie in late 1992. I flew from my hometown of Perth to Sydney to spend some time with my sister, Valda's, old friend, Diana, from her school days.

Kellie was working for Diana at the time, and we instantly clicked. We had a hoot hanging out in Sydney together, and Kellie even visited me in Perth the following year.

In late 1995, Hubby and I moved to Sydney, and it was Kellie who collected us from the airport and then helped me go apartment hunting. On one such expedition, a real estate agent picked us up on Oxford Street in Paddington to drive us to an apartment in Woolloomooloo. He played the rap song Gangsta's Paradise really loud and drove like an absolute maniac! Kellster (as I like to call her) and I got out, and both felt ill. We politely refused his offer to drive us back to Oxford Street.

Then Kellie moved overseas for a while. She came to my wedding in January 2000, and we promptly lost contact for ten whole years!

I finally tracked her down in Melbourne, and when I visited there last year, we caught up for brunch. Apart from sharing stories of where our own lives had taken us during those ten long years, Kellie told me a story about a friend's terrible loss that really stuck with me. That same story would become the inspiration and driving force behind Kellie's decision to run a Marathon in September. For Kellie, a 'non-runner' like me, this has been a great challenge.

Here's Kellie story about why she was inspired to run a marathon, and how her training has been going:

Kellie writes:

In September 2009, my dear friend Emma married her partner Noel Shearing, affectionately known to all - including Emma - as Shez.

Emma invited me to be her bridesmaid, which was an absolute thrill. Their wedding was in Sri Lanka. Emma and Shez lived in Hong Kong at the time although they have family and close friends living in Australia, Dubai, and the United Kingdom (Shez was English, from Durham and Emma is from Belfast, Ireland) as well as Hong Kong. They decided to choose a location for their wedding that was unique, beautiful and kind of almost central for everybody, hence Sri Lanka being their choice.

The wedding was held on the 19 September at the Fortress Hotel in Galle. It was stunning, wonderful, and a very special gathering of almost 50 guests who travelled to Sri Lanka for the big event. We had a crazy fun four days together celebrating Emma and Shez's union. Emma was the most relaxed bride I’ve ever met, and Shez was equally a very chilled out groom. Having many of their nearest and dearest in the one place at the one time was a rare occasion and they made the most of it.

Shez and Emma on their wedding day
As I was travelling to Sri Lanka on my own, I decided to spend some time volunteering after the wedding, so I spent a week at St Anthony’s which is a home for abused and neglected children. After the wedding weekend I travelled by tuk-tuk and then train to Hewidawela, a very small village very different to Galle.

I had an amazing week with the kids of St Anthony’s – many of whom had been forced to live on the streets and fend for themselves despite their age – but you’d never know it to meet them. They were warm, happy kids who got up to the usual kid stuff. I’m sure those of you who are mothers will understand!

My time in Sri Lanka filled my heart – the time with Emma and Shez and their families and friends, then the time at St Anthony’s gave me so much! I felt so out of my comfort zone when I was leaving Melbourne for Sri Lanka, and so happy and fulfilled when I returned. It was a wonderful experience.

Then, just seven weeks after the wedding I got the worst phone call I’ve ever known in my life. 

Emma had just landed in London from Hong Kong. There’d been an accident and Shez had passed away.

Shez had spent the weekend in London after flying over from Hong Kong for a job interview late the previous week. He took advantage of the chance to catch up with his close-knit group of mates – the boys went to school and played rugby together and were still a team. Sadly, the accident took place on a boys' night out.

After Shez died in November, a number of people wanted to make a donation to St Anthony’s in his memory. It seemed to happen naturally and everybody knew this was what both Shez and Emma would want.

The charity that raises money for St Anthony’s is Australian based – called the Kathleen Keegel Children’s Fund (KKCF). The couple who run the children’s home are Olivia and Fred Bartholomeusz, a Sri Lankan couple who raised their own family in Australia before deciding to return to Sri Lanka to ‘give back’. This move was inspired by Olivia’s mother, Kathleen Keegel, who was very charitable - hence the name.

The board of KKCF is very family oriented – Fred and Olivia’s son Damian, two of Olivia’s sisters, and some others. On 1 December, Olivia’s sister Georgie came around to my house to invite me to join the board of directors, which I accepted.

As the money raised in memory of Shez continued to increase, coming from  all over the world, Emma wanted to do more for the kids at St Anthony’s. She organised an event in Shez’s home town of Durham last November, a charity rugby match with his old school team playing the competition. They held a fundraising event afterwards and raised a lot of money for KKCF and another local charity.

Emma also invited people to run a half marathon (to be held on the 18 September this year) in memory of Shez, as a fundraiser for KKCF. This was unexpected – none of us are runners (except Emma’s brother). But we all thought, if it’s in memory of Shez, we’ll do it!

So the fun began. Last October I started with a ‘couch to 5km’ program, having never run in my life, even as a kid. I started with 1 minute walk, 1 minute run, as you do. Slowly, slowly increasing. By May, I was running 5km, then in July 10km, and now I’m doing 14-15kms. We are all working very hard with our training and have 5 weeks to go. It is undeniably the most challenging physical thing I’ve done, but we are so much fitter than we were a year ago.

If you would like to sponsor Kellie, please head to her sponsor page HERE. I know she'd really appreciate your support, as would Emma and Shez.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Week That Was... The Posts I'd Like to Write But Can't, Conversations with the 4yr Old & Something for the Kids

It's time to wrap up my week. 

There are days - many of them, actually - during which I wish I was an anonymous blogger. Imagine the freedom to write whatever you wanted without consequence?

Some of you may say, 'You can do that now, if you want to,' but I'd disagree. There are always boundaries as far as I'm concerned when it comes to blogging.

All bloggers have boundaries, and they chooses those boundaries for themselves. Some will cross lines others won't, and it's all about personal choice. My boundary forms a perfect circle around the people I love, which includes family and friends. I don't want to write anything that will make someone else feel uncomfortable. I've unintentionally written stuff in the past that has upset people, and that's not fun! These days, and with more experience behind me, I'm more careful. In fact, I'm probably overly paranoid at times! I even deleted a post I wrote about one of my kids last year, because once I re-read it, I realised that someone I know might read it, and mention it in front of their kids, and next thing you know... my son is a target for teasing.

This week, there has been some good stuff and bad stuff happen that I'd LOVE to write about, but really feel I shouldn't. I know that sounds cryptic - especially about the good stuff - but it comes down to what I consider to be too personal to share.

With the bad stuff, I know that a lot of you could relate (I'm ok, it's more about what's affecting a family member), and I'm sure I'd get a ton of great advice, but it's not worth the ripple effect my post may create.

Anyway, please don't worry...I'm fine! It's just frustrating, you know?

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Something I can tell you about though, is about the conversations I've been enjoying with the 4yr old as of late. The other day, he said, "Mum, when I get bigger I can get married and have kiddies of my own." I said, "Yes, you can. How many do you think you'll have?" He replied, "Three." No surprises there. I asked, "What will you name them?" He thought about it a minute, then replied, "I might call one Michael." Michael is a buddy of his.

Last night, he mentioned this again at dinner. The 7yr old said, "You can either get married, or you can do Holy Orders." Now there's a Catholic education in progress.

The other day, he was playing play dough. I was in the kitchen, and he said, "When I have kiddies, I'm going to let them play play dough too." I said, "Oh, well that's nice." He then said, "Yeah, then I can do stuff on my blog."

Now, in my defence, when the 4yo was playing play dough that day, I was on the computer, but I was paying bills and answering emails. Seriously. Ahem. 

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Something I meant to mention last week - and something great for the kids - is that Mathletics is hosting the Commonwealth Bank Australian Maths Challenge from the 30th - 31st August. It's Australia's largest online maths competition. It's a free event for school students aged 4 - 18 years of age. Registration is open now.

We love Mathletics around here. We are very fortunate that the fundraising our school carries out each year enables all its students to have a free Mathletics membership. It's a fun way to learn maths, and for those who have kids who are competitive, your child can compete online against other kids from all over the world. The 7yr old especially loves doing that!

If you sign up with Deals for Mum, look out for their special offers on Mathletics subscriptions. :)

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This week on the blog:

The Lump - the mini health scare I had recently!

The Proposal - Read some great marriage proposal stories from commenters.

Write on Wednesdays - This week, we used the word 'piqued' as inspiration! I'm loving and very humbled by all the positive responses to my writing. Oh, and Anon's comment is not by my mother. Pinky swear. :)

Usually I do a Thursday post, but couldn't be bothered this week. That's the way the cookie crumbles, people.

Have a great Friday, all!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Write on Wednesdays - Word of the Week

This week for Write on Wednesdays with InkPaperPen, we're using a single word for inspiration.

First up, can I admit I stuffed up this week? I set the timer on my iPhone ready to write and write away I did. It was all coming out pretty well, and then suddenly I thought, 'Gee, I wonder how much time I have left?' I glanced down and....I hadn't started the timer after all. *sigh*

By that stage, I'd probably written about a third of what follows, so I decided to finish up my train of thought and just write until I got out what I wanted to. I hope no one minds. I'm not a rule breaker by nature (promise!), but then Gill always says there are no rules and to just write - that's the idea behind WoW!

As my story is continued each week, if you're new here and wanna catch up first, you can do so here.

The word we're using is 'piqued'.

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A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded pride.tr.v. piqued, piqu·ing, piques
1. To cause to feel resentment or indignation.
2. To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity.
3. To pride (oneself): He piqued himself on his stylish attire.

“So,” Kate began, looking at Cassie over the froth of her skinny cappuccino. “How about you come over tonight after work and we’ll head to Military Road for some dinner?”

Cassie didn’t answer. She was stirring her long black coffee, staring intently in to it with a small smile on her face.

“Hello?” Kate asked, putting her coffee cup down and leaning towards Cassie. “Earth to Cassie. Come in, Cassie.”

Cassie looked up, startled. “Sorry,” she replied, smiling at Kate. “I was miles away.”

“No kidding,” Kate replied sarcastically, but returned Cassie’s smile. “What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing,” Cassie replied, distractedly. She looked at Kate quizzically. “What did you just ask me?”

Kate rolled her eyes in exasperation. “About dinner. Do you want to come over and head up to Military Road for some dinner tonight? Maybe to that Thai restaurant you like. Or we could order pizza, I guess.”

“Eww, pizza? No way,” Cassie replied, patting her stomach. “I'll bloat up like a puffer fish.”

Kate raised her eyebrows at Cassie, looking towards her flat stomach. “Are you serious?” she asked, half joking.

“Besides,” Cassie replied. “I can’t tonight.” She suddenly looked uncomfortable, busying herself with the paper serviettes on the table. “I’m, er, already doing something.”

“Really?” Kate asked, her curiosity piqued. “You didn’t mention it last night. What are you up to?”

Cassie sat back in her chair, sighing, and finally looked up at Kate. She smiled shyly. “I’m…” She hesitated.

“What?” Kate asked curiously. “Moonlighting at the Cross on weekends? Working secretly as a drug runner at night? Come on, what is it?”

Cassie smiled again. “You’re a dag.” She paused, put down the serviette she’d shredded to pieces and announced, “I’m going out with Dan tonight.” She shrugged her shoulders.

Kate smiled widely at her friend. “Oh, wow, Cass. Isn’t this something like your third date with this guy?”

“Sixth, actually,” Cassie replied, obviously embarrassed by her admission.

What?” Kate asked, incredulously. “Have you been dating this guy and not telling me?” 

“Don’t be mad at me. I just… I didn’t want to jinx it or anything. I haven’t told anyone.” She lowered her eyes, fiddling with the serviette again. “It probably won't last anyway. I don’t have the best of luck when it comes to relationships. As you know,” she added, looking up again at her friend.

Cassie was referring to her ex-fiancĂ©, Paul. Nearly five years earlier, they had been set to marry and were just weeks away from the wedding when Paul had come home one night and told Cassie he’d been having an affair. For over a month, he’d been seeing an Irish girl he’d met on a Contiki Tour through Europe years before he and Cassie had met. The girl had contacted him on her arrival in Sydney two months prior.

Cassie had been devastated. And angry. She’d immediately called off the wedding. “I was the one who thought we were too young to settle down, and he convinced me it was the right thing to do. That fucking bastard!” she’d cried on Kate’s shoulder afterwards. Last they’d heard, Paul and the Irish girl had relocated to London and were now (by all accounts) happily married with two kids.

Cassie hadn’t been able to commit to anyone since, and her experience with Paul had made her very wary of Nick, for obvious reasons. 

Kate now reached over the table and took Cassie’s hand. “I'm not made at you. Not at all. Go for it. This doesn’t have to be forever, you know. Just see where it takes you.”

Cassie smiled appreciatively at her friend. “Thanks, babe.”

“And now,” Kate announced, releasing her hand from Cassie’s and getting up from the table, “I have to go to work. If I’m late, David will stress out. He flies out to London this afternoon, and no doubt he’ll have me running around the office before he leaves, chasing information for his big presentation over there.”

“David’s an arsehole,” Cassie replied casually.

“True,” Kate answered, smiling at her friend. “But he’s also my boss, and the person whose arse I have to kiss if I want that promotion in September.” She winked at her friend before heading towards the door. She turned back and called out, “Have fun with your boyfriend tonight!”

Cassie fired back, “He’s not my boyfriend!” But she had a wide smile on her face just the same.

After Kate left the cafĂ©, weaving her way past others as they made their way to work, she thought about Cassie and Dan. Paul had broken Cassie’s confidence – which was no easy task – and it had taken her years, together with Kate’s encouragement, to get it back. She’d flat out refused to get serious again with anyone after Paul had left, and Kate had always wished that her friend would find someone who could restore her faith in love. The realisation that Dan could be that guy suddenly hit Kate, and she was truly happy for her friend.

So why did she have an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach telling her that her long friendship with Cassie was set to change, and that she was about to be left behind? 

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If you'd like to take part in WoW, or read some other posts, head over to InkPaperPen. You won't regret it.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Proposal

A post about the rules of engagement. ;)

I was watching a news report last night about a man in China who proposed to his girlfriend dressed as a dancing carrot, along with 48 others dressed the same way accompanying him with his dance moves.


The good news is, he got out of the carrot outfit before getting down on bended knee. And she said yes. (Brave woman, no?)

When Hubby and I became engaged, it was pretty low key. We were at home. There was no bended knee, no candlelight and certainly no dancing vegetables were involved.

And it was perfect.

I'm not in to the big, grand gesture when it comes to marriage proposals. I'm not saying no one should have them - they're just not for me.

I've known people who have proposed on bended knee in the middle of a busy restaurant. Some have proposed, or been to proposed to, on the beach of a tropical island. One guy I worked with years ago proposed to his girlfriend via a banner dragged behind a small aeroplane.

None of which would be my style. (Well, except perhaps for the tropical beach. So long as there was no bended knee and no crowd of people to witness it!)

It's not that I'm not romantic. I think I am. But perhaps I'm too much of a realist (the cost of some of these proposals? BIG waste of money in my mind), and I'm a definite fan of not planning too much. To me, the impromptu proposal done on a whim late at night in your own home is as equally, if not more, romantic to me as a well planned one.

But we're all different. Much blessings to the carrot man and his bride-to-be.

If you're married, what was the proposal for your own marriage like? Did it live up to your expectations? Exceed them? If you're not married or engaged yet, what kind of proposal would you like to receive or carry out?