Monday, May 24, 2010

A hot family car

With our fourth baby due at the end of August, we're in the market for a seven-seater car and found this one online, Toyota calls it the Swagger Wagon.

I don't think it's available in Australia, but the ad is worth watching - catchy tune and absolutely hilarious!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bella Magazine - a glossy mag to inspire young women

I recently heard about this new Australian magazine for teenage girls which aims to provide an alternative to "the sexed-up modern magazines like Cosmo and Dolly".

Bella - beautiful girl - is the latest girls’ magazine for 13 to 19 year olds and was launched earlier this year.

I haven't seen a copy yet, but I hear that it's good. A high-quality glossy mag similar to its mainstream counterparts. But since it's not-for-profit the content isn't driven by advertisers, which means it can maintain its editorial integrity.

The magazine, independently published in Queensland, covers music, fashion, relationships and other issues interesting to young women.

It wants to be a catalyst to help "reverse the tide of self-damaging attitudes and trends imposed upon our young women". And it wants to inspire young women to make a difference in their communities and in the world.

That means you won't find headlines like this in Bella Magazine:

From Dolly

Like hot guys more than hot dinners?
10 steps to getting a boyfriend

From Cosmo

Taking the morning after pill
The bikini bootcamp

From Girlfriend

Take our sealed section survey

The emphasis on sex, image, and celebrities in these mainstream magazines aimed at teens and young women is really full-on. I challenge anyone who tries to kid themselves that 12 year old girls, or younger, are reading and absorbing this stuff.

I'm not against the Cosmos and Girlfriends per se. I'm just so sick of there not being alternatives, especially for girls and young women who are well past the Barbie magazine stage.

I'll be subscribing to Bella and testing it out on a few teenager girls to see if it actually engages their interest, because I think to be effective it can't be boring.

Then if it's as good as it seems I'll be helping it out as much as I can.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pregnancy complication

Image by Zoutedrop

Male readers: If you're squeamish about mention of my reproductive parts, pregnancy woes, sex stuff etc., then click away now. The upshot is that the baby and I are okay anyway.

My obstetrician told me this week at my regular appointment that the baby's head is butting against my cervix, and that the cervix is a bit short at 3cms (according to Google - yeah I know - the normal length is 3-5cms).When she asked if I had any pain or pressure in the pelvis or lower back my initial response was "no".

But then I realised that of course I do, often by the evening when I've been on my feet for hours or even just sitting at the computer.

I've just been ignoring it, thinking it was on account of being pregnant and entering the third trimester. And often I suppose I'm too occupied to notice, until the very end of the day when I finally collapse on the sofa feeling like an 80-year-old.

I was dismayed at what she said next.

"You need to take pressure off the cervix. Sleep for 10 hours at night. Rest for two hours every afternoon, lying down with your legs elevated, and lie down any time you feel pressure or lower back pain. Avoid intercourse. And no lifting at all."

She may as well have told me to go straight to hospital and stay there for the next three months! In fact, that might be easier than what she's asked me to do.

My first thoughts were that it's going to be very hard to even manage the early bedtime and lying down during the day part when I have three young children to look after.

My husband does a lot at home, but he also works full time and I can't expect him to take up all my slack.

Our parents are willing, but not really able, to help very much. Although I'm sure they'll do what they can to make things a bit easier.

And "avoid intercourse"? I was too shy to ask for details. (Later, a friend who's a mother of five told me, "It means it should be ok sometimes so long as you're not swinging from the chandeliers".)

After asking the doctor a few questions, I then got scared about going into pre-term labour. How much is the baby at risk?

There is a risk, but no need to be scared, just cautious, she said.

But they seem drastic precautionary measures to me, if there's nothing to be too worried about. I'm taking them anyway, because I would hate to have ignored the warning and then have something go wrong.

I'm also grateful to have an early warning sign, a little alert that I can't just go around doing my thing as if I wasn't pregnant at all.. A lot of women have far worse to deal with during their pregnancies. I'm just being told to take it easy.

This turn of events could also be a God-given opportunity for me to reflect on and re-order my priorities and the way I spend my time. I simply can't do everything I would normally do in a day if I'm to spend so much time lying down.

I have to change my mindset to a much simpler one. Do the absolute essentials for our physical needs - food, clean clothing, not too filthy house - don't get distracted (that means a lot less blog reading) and attempt ONE other thing I'd like to achieve that day.

Only one. This is huge for me.

So this morning I went to the shops with my two littlies to replace my broken mobile phone and get my glasses fixed, and now we're at home, resting.

Normally I would have tried to take the kids to the park for a little while, done a load of laundry and maybe run the vacuum over the place before leaving for the afternoon school run.

But not now, now I'm going slow.

I've got 12 weeks to go. Twelve hours in the day. And counting...

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bump to Baby guide

Image from

I was recently sent the Bump to Baby Guide to review for Connect2Mums. The in-depth review should be up on the website soon, but in the meantime I just wanted to say what a great resource it is for expectant mothers.

It's a practical resource using a series of note cards, one for each week from around the middle of your pregnancy.

The first week has this great reflection and a mind-training exercise:

Many studies have shown that a mother's mood has a corresponding effect on the activity levels of her baby. Your emotional state is triggered by your thoughts.

Try to feed your baby only positive emotions and chemicals by focusing on thoughts that increase happiness and wellbeing. Catch yourself when negativity of stress creeps in. Direct your thoughts away from all negative behavious including complaining, worrying or judging.

I tried to do this for a week.

The first time I got to put it into practice was when I got up extra early in an effort to have a nice, quiet, leisurely breakfast before the kids awoke. I heard my youngest call for me as soon as I tiptoed past his bedroom on creaky floorboards, and started to think, "I need a bigger or newer house".

That thought is not new to me, and often leads to a whole lot of other, increasingly negative thoughts!

But I caught myself. I thought instead, "At least I made the effort to get up early, and it wasn't so hard."

Old habits die hard though, and I couldn't keep up all that constant positive thinking for more than a week!

But I think that more practice on that first step alone would make me a more positive, contended mum - and that can only be good for all my kids as well.

Check it out (I'm not getting sponsored for this by the way).

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, May 14, 2010

Me - in my toddler's eyes

first thing in the morning. When he's woken me from across the other side of the house with his cheeky, sing-song, "Muuuummmmy! Mummmmmy!"

I took my camera in recently to get a photo of his usual dawntime bright-eyed exuberance, (I think he's at his most gorgeous when he's just woken) but he wanted to take one of me instead, in all my dawntime puffy-eyed weariness!

He was so pleased with his photo. I'm sure he thinks it's beautiful. That's why I'm keeping it for him.

Yeah, I've got unplucked eyebrows, major puffiness around the eyes, flat hair etc, but I think you can see something in my eyes as I look at my little boy trying to act 'big' with my camera. Pride maybe, amusement, and definitely love.

I'm posting this as part of Bloggers Without Makeup. It's a fun idea of Jodie's. But the more serious aspect behind it is to show our daughters, nieces, all our young friends who are girls, that there is nothing wrong with natural, unmade, female faces. They are often even really beautiful.

Better than an image with the humanity airbrushed, botoxed or literally cut out of it.

How strange that it's even necessary to make that point. But it is necessary these days.


Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is it ever ok to give up on a dream?

Yesterday I looked at my work goals for this month and I finally had to face up to something hard.

I'm not going to write a book this year. It's possible I may never write one.

It's the one enduring dream I've had since I was a child and I've always assumed that I would do it. It's all I remember really wanting. To write a book that people would read, that would maybe contribute something good to the world, or at least a corner of it.

Now, the thinking everywhere seems to be that we should strive for our goals and never give up on our dreams, right? 

As a mother with young children I have felt especially obliged to keep my dreams alive, to keep nurturing my own personal fulfilment so as to not lose sight of myself as a person distinct from my family.

But what I'm asking myself now is: Is it sometimes ok, even necessary, to give up on a lifelong dream? Is it even possible to grow out of a cherished dream? Can it be a good thing?

It hit me yesterday that maybe I've outgrown this particular dream - to have my name on the cover of a book. To see it in the bookshops. To do the publicity round and sign copies for readers (not hordes necessarily, any number of fans would do!).

Maybe this dream is actually misguided, based on some faulty assumptions, or is at the very least an unrealistic possibility for the time being.

At the end of last year I began telling people close to me that I intended to make a start on 'my book', thinking that would spur me to action. Then, emboldened, I put it out there on this blog.  I broke the task down into doable chunks - market research, write a business plan, start canvassing for contributors, draft a proposal - and included these in my monthly goals.

But it's five months already and I haven't got very far. One problem is that I still have fuzzy ideas of the book I want to write and the audience I want to write it for. And they keep changing. When Zoey at Good Goog asked me about it, I intended to tell her, but then realised I wasn't too sure myself.

So I'm not exactly burning with passion over a story I have to tell. And I don't want to write on a topic I'm not passionate about. I think that would make for a pretty crap book. So why do I still want to do this?

If I'm honest, deep down my belief is that if I write a book then I would have 'arrived'. But this is a ridiculous belief when I examine it.

Does it mean that my life's work of raising a family will amount to nothing if I get to my death having never written a book? What a stupid way to measure my worth. But deep down, I know it's how I see myself. Not really amounting to much yet because I've seen myself as a 'writer' ever since I was six years old and I don't have much to show for it. Even though I now have all this wonderful life's experience I could write about!

Also, I'm aware that people simply do not buy books, or read them, these days as much as they used to 30 years ago when I first wanted to be an author.

Social media is where people are now, so maybe I should put the effort I would have put into a book, into a blog (this or another one) instead?

Compounding the issue, my baby's due date is fast approaching. I need to consider how much time, realistically, am I going to be able to put into writing, publishing and marketing a book with four children under seven and a small business to run? A small business which is actually bringing in much-needed income (while the book may not).

So what I'm interested in hearing from my lovely and loyal band of readers, is this:

Have you ever reconciled yourself that a long-held dream may never come to fruition?

Have you ever realised that you were measuring your self-worth with wild inaccuracy?

How do I know if I'm making the right decision in cutting my losses and moving on from this book thing?

Is this a goal which is actually holding me back from seeing other opportunites before me?

Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 10, 2010

The secret to having the best of everything

It's true, I can tell you the secret to having the best of everything. Actually, there are two parts to this secret:

Lower your expectations. Be happy with what you have.

Easy huh? Bet you already knew this.

Me too. But actually it's taken me a while to really get the knack of it, and I'm not sure I'm there yet.

But I can tell you I've had the best Mother's Day this year and a big reason is because I did just this.

In the lead-up I was already mentally preparing myself to see the day as an opportunity to hang out with my own mum, and mother-in-law, and make them happy by taking the kids over. The kids would have fun too, as they love visiting their grandparents.

In the past I've seen it as a pain having to drag the kids from place to place in order to make our mothers happy and all I would get at the end of it were three overtired, screaming, bratty children. Happy Mothers' Day, yeah.

Well, I was going to see the positive side this time. Because as Brenda at MummyTime quipped recently, being negative "is just too damn depressing".

I had no expectations for anything for myself, apart from a small gift coming from my eldest daughter's school Mothers' Day stall (which I had paid for), and a painting from my 4-year-old that she had done at preschool.

I just reminded my husband that the girls would be wanting to make breakfast for me as that's what the teachers at school had been telling them to do. I wouldn't be getting a lie-in, as my two-year-old always wants me up at the crack of dawn. I imagined he'd let them butter my toast and make my tea.

So I thought Mothers' Day would be pretty much like most of our Sundays, and I love those so I was going to be happy either way.

Well, in the end I got quite pampered with lovely lie-in, breakfast in bed, flowers, drawings, cards, and a number of gifts (including make-up, jewellery and a nice tablecloth).

I still don't know how my husband kept three excited children under seven quiet while they helped him heat my croissant, mix berries into yoghurt and museli, make my coffee, pour my juice, write a card and arrange flowers on my plate. While I was waiting, I fell back to sleep. Unexpected bliss.

I didn't have to prepare any meals for anyone, bath the kids, or do any of my regular daily tasks. I drank half a glass of wine in the autumn sunshine while watching the girls learn to play cricket from their uncle, and they were so tired by days' end that they all fell asleep early.

It was a total day off, and much more than I was expecting. It was the best!

This is a much better way of being, for me at least. I didn't even want to read about what other mums were doing on Sunday (sorry bloggy mother friends).

I have to be careful of falling back into the temptation of comparing myself to others, comparing what I've got generally to what the people in my suburb, or among my friends have, etc.

Because even if I could count my blessings comparatively one day, on the very next I'd see that someone else has it much easier, better, or more exciting, than me. And then I'd be dissatisfied with my lot. And then guilty because I felt ungrateful for what I have, and mean for not being happy for others.

And that angsty, guilty, jealousy, disappointy feeling - well, I've just had enough of it thank you. No more for me. While I have the option of choosing happiness you bet that's what I'm going to take.

Image: Flowers from my lovely ones, picked from the garden. And an extra treat I claimed for myself!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Maternity clothes shopping in a hurry

This is me a month ago, five months pregnant, wearing a dress my mother-in-law gave me around Christmas time. Yeah, pregnancy has a way of creeping up on me from behind. Anyway, I've been getting away with wearing my regular clothes until this week.

On Monday, getting ready for the school run on a chilly autumn morning I realised I literally had nothing suitable to wear that fit me and was warm. I'd popped out so suddenly!

This is me this week, in my trying-to-make-do clothes. Please excuse the less-than-glamourous hair etc. this is for baby-illustrating purposes only! I'm happy that the baby's showing in the front now :)

For my other pregnancies I wore my usual clothes well into six months of pregancy. By then it was spring or summer and I could get away with a few sleeveless or short-sleeved maternity tops and a couple of elasticised skirts. I wore my jeans with the belly belts and that was it.

So on Monday I did something I can't remember doing before - I drove straight from school to the shops and bought almost a season's worth of clothes without a second thought. I've never bought so much clothing for myself at once before.

I think I might do it again, post-baby. It's a great way to get a co-ordinated lot of clothes, rather than my usual hit-and-miss, buy something on sale and hope it will go with what I have at home style.

So here's what I got. I went to Pumpkin Patch (they had a sale on) and Target, and it's all mix 'n match 'cause I didn't want to splurge on maternity clothes.

Two long-sleeved tops
A hoodie
A pair of cargo pants
A dress and matching cardigan
A skirt
Two scarves in different colours to help mix it up a bit

Total spent, $200. (Would love some new boots as well, but hey, can't have everything!)

I already had a black maternity skirt, my trusty belly belts for my jeans, a couple of pairs of trackies for around the house, and one long-sleeved top. I have a big jacket that I think I can still wear up to nine months, so I think I'm set now. Probably only need some leggings or tights to go with the skirts and dress when it's colder.

It felt so good to get a job like that out of the way in one hit. I'm not a big clothes shopping fan. Especially hate the fluorescent lighting in those change rooms. I'll have to post a picture of me in the new clothes soon.

So what do you think? Will it be enough? Have I forgotten something?

And what was the most you ever splurged on clothes for yourself in one trip or online?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, May 3, 2010

Freelance goals for May (and slacking off at the beach)

Well, April wasn't as productive for me work-wise, compared with March.

But we did manage a few days' family getaway to the beach, ended up spending a bit more than we expected to (as you do), and I didn't feel guilty at all. We enjoyed what was probably among the last of a run of gloriously warm and sunny autumn days before winter's chill sets in.

But today it was back to work and my unfinished list of jobs. I probably had unrealistic expectations about what I could achieve last month, working part time and with school holidays and a public holiday in the mix.

So, here's how April looked:

  • One article deadline before Easter. Done
  • List article ideas for newspaper series. Write the first two. Not Done
  • Join two online networking forums for freelancers. Done
  • Complete book proposal. Not Done
  • Create flyers for proofreading and editing and a list for distribution. Not Done
I can also add a couple of book reviews I wrote, which wasn't on my list, so all up my month wasn't a total disaster. Also, I had second thoughts about the flyers. I'd be better off getting my website up first.
So for May I plan to:

  • Write the first column for the new series
  • Write a book review
  • Write a pregnancy resource review
  • Get the website finalised
  • Draft book proposal
This is all in addition to my regular weekly newspaper column and any proofreading or editing work that arises.

My freelance business is ticking along nicely. Over the next three to four months I'll be putting in a few more hours a week than usual, so that I can take it a lot easier once the baby is here.

I want to fully appreciate those first precious weeks and months with my newborn. This flexibility is what I love about freelancing!

Stumble Upon Toolbar
Blog Widget by LinkWithin