Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Selections

I am linking up with the lovely Kim from Frogpondsrock for her weekly Sunday Selections blog.

And because I love her so, I'm also joining the gorgeous Thea from Do I Really Wanna Blog? in her Sunday Session.

What, a girl can't have her bloggie cake and eat it too?

Here we go ...

As always, favourite memories from my week involve kids and animals. (I'm sorry, I'm horribly predictable. One day I will surprise you!)

Zsa Zsa, the toy poodle we love as our own, even though we will eventually have to give her back to her rightful humans.

Russy the cat, who is also ours temporarily. He likes hanging out in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet.

Polly Pig, our adoptive guinea pig, and Miss 8's own guinea pig, Star.

Our own gentle kitteh Hannah, who puts up with all kinds of things, including a cuddle from Star!

Russy Cat has taken a liking to one of my handbags!

Hannah Kitteh, who loves to stretch out on a comfy bed. She's lying on my side!

 Zsa Zsa gets a play date with my brother and sister-in-law's dogs, Pippa (the poodle with the purple tale), and Wilbur, the ageing mini-daschund.
After the obligatory bum-sniffing, they all had a ball ...No literally. They played with a ball.

As for Sunday Session songs, I think I'll follow Thea's lead and pick a song from the 80s, Expo-88-ish.

It's Great Southern Land by Icehouse, one of my all-time favourite Aussie bands back then. And their music still stands the test of time.

Back in the Expo 88 days, they regularly performed at the free concerts by the river. But I loved them even before that.

(Confession: A friend and I once threw our bras at Iva Davies during a concert in Toowoomba. But they were nice new ones, so had second thoughts and went back later to get them. I still remember a roadie fondling my bra and saying: 'Oooh, lacy' before reluctantly handing it back. Note: We didn't do this because we were overcome with lust. Or drunk. We did it because it was funny. Just as we once gave bananas to Mental As Anything, blown-up wine bladders to Madness, or left desserts in bowls on the cars of strangers. I called it 'being profound'. Hey, I was an Arts student, I was supposed to be weird! )

And for something newer, I thought I'd share a song by Lily Allen that I thought was totes Safe For Kids.

 Yeah, I thought it was called 'Thank You', and was playing it quite happily in the car one day. When Miss then-7 piped up: 'Mum, why is she singing Fuck You?'

'Don't say that word,' I began, before realising: 'Oops, she's right.' Total Mother FAIL.

So if my kids say 'Fuck You', don't blame me, blame Lily Allen. Cough.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Awkward moments ... and more winners!

We all have them.

Moments when something makes us feel uncomfortable and/or a wee bit embarassed. (Pun intended!)

For Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie, it was probably the moment she peed herself on stage.

Though she initially claimed it was sweat (good try Hon), Fergie later admitted she'd had a few pre-concert drinks but forgotten to go to the loo. (I've said it before and I'll say again: Always Go Before You Go. I rest my case.)

Anyway, while I can't claim to have peed in front of thousands of people, there was a time in Thailand when I was forced to use a stranger's loo.

Yes, a combination of Bangkok Belly (actually it was Phuket, but you get the idea), and a tour where few toilet stops were included mingled horribly.

We were at a rubber plantation, when I desperately needed to erm, relieve myself.

Turned out there weren't any public loos, so I was invited to go inside one of the worker's homes to use the facilities. Which as anyone who has been to Thailand know, are really different to ours.

Anyway, I eventually worked out what went where, did what came naturally, and came out feeling better but a little embarassed, particularly as I'm pretty sure I was tapdancing as I waited to go inside.

 Oh the relief! A few tummy bug tablets and a lot of self-control later, I managed to complete the trip without embarrassing myself further. And it was awkward, because I was still in the honeymoon stage of my relationship at the time - you know, the stage where you don't wee, poo or heaven forbid, fart, in front of each other. God forbid if I was to show my partner I was Human.

Of course, there have been loads of other embarrassing moments in my life:
  • My first 'real' kiss. Oh the excruciating embarrassment, as teeth and tongues got in the way, and I wondered what all the fuss was about.
  • Giving birth for the first time - although it go to the stage where I didn't care about my dignity any more!
  • The time post-giving birth when a gorgeous surfie-dude medical student with long blonde hair and tanned skin, stitched me up and people kept coming in to look because they hadn't seen a third grade tear AND an episiotomy in one go before. And probably a cool surfie dude in the same room. Yeah, go on, knock yourself out. After all, it seemed like everyone else in the hospital had taken a look at my lady parts, so what were a few more!
  • The time a uni lecturer told me I looked like a French actress, in front of the class. What was with that?
  • The time I went out shopping in a new summery dress and wondered why everyone was looking and smiling at me. When I got home my partner at the time told me the dress was see-through! D'oh! (And Mum always told me to wear a petticoat!)
  • The time when I was giving an author's speech to promote my book and because I hadn't had much time to prepare, I suffered an attack of the nerves and began shaking visibly. Even my voice was shaky, and the facilitator eventually put me out of my misery by taking over ahead of my finishing time.
I got to thinking about awkward moments the other day, when I was enjoying a fabulous massage by a lady at one of the Asian massage places you see at shopping centres these days.

She was getting into the knots in my shoulders with gusto when I suddenly realised, she was resting on my arse. Not only that, she had one hand on one side of my arse and was Pulling The Cheeks Apart as she worked on my back with her other hand.

I'm used to having masseuses get into tight spots in my butt before - hey, it's amazing how much tension we hold in there! But leaning on it and pulling the cheeks apart was just a little too awkward for me.

Readers, what makes you feel awkward?

In the meantime, I am pleased to announce the winners of my recent giveaways.
The prize: An Aden + Anais Dream Blanket.
As worn by the celebrity babies of people like Jamie and Jools Oliver, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Gardner, and our own Isla Fisher,  the Aden + Anais Dream blanket is made of natural, gentle muslin, and feature colourful, modern prints. Used by mothers around the world to help create sweet dreams.
The blankets retail for AUD $44.95, and Aden + Anais are also throwing in a copy of founder Raegan Moya Jones's beauitful book Swaddle Love, valued at $24.95.
The lucky winner of this gorgeous prize is @babycakequeen, who deserves to have something lovely to bring her third baby home in a few months.
Good luck Amanda! I hope this pregnancy and the arrival of your little boy or girl goes a lot more smoothly than your previous births, and I really hope the special blankie helps your baby get some sweet dreams.
As you know, Australian publishing house Finch Publishing have given us a wonderful pack of four books, that will be perfect for a new parent or one hoping to become one.
The books are:
•When the Bough Breaks, by Joanne Jones - a memoir about one women's journey to self acceptance after IVF failed and she was unable to have children. RRP $29.95.
•Helping Your Baby to Sleep, 2nd edition, by Anni Gethin and Beth Macgregor. RRP $29.95. Everything a parent needs to know to help their baby to sleep.
•Cocktails at Naptime, by Gillian Martina and Emma Kaufmann - A light hearted look at the joys and tribulations of early motherhood. RRP $29.95
•Diary of a First Time Mum, by Nicole Hall - An amusing record of the unpredictable life of a new mum, complete with doubts, delights and sleep deprivation. RRP $26.95.

The lucky winner is @vegiemumma. Hope you enjoy the books darling.
Please email or DM me so that I can organise to send your prizes to you.

Finally, Sony Pictures Australia, who are one of my favourite sponsors, have give MIA a wonderful prize pack. 

There's a double pass to Battle: Los Angeles, a fabulous new movie which hits our screen on March 17, plus a handy compass tool and compass base plate.

To win, simply comment below with your most awkward or embarrassing moment. Winners announced on Friday March 4. Sorry Aussie, prize is valid for Australian residents only. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And the winners are ...

After a wonderful week celebrating my daughter's 8th birthday; ( helping out at tuckshop, removing nits, baking patty cakes, and pretty much rocking the Mummy Stuff); I've finally found time to catch up on blogging.

And in particular, my lovely giveaways for the victims of the natural disasters which have hit Australia this summer.

Floods, cyclones, fires ... Was there an end to the general suckiness of this summer?  I doubt it.

I've done what I can to help out those affected, and thanks to some wonderful companies, was able to do a giveaway for the survivors. (Please note: There will be more giveaways to come, so stay tuned).

In the meantime, here are the winners:

The prize: No Chopsticks Required (My Family's Unexpected Year In Shanghai), a memoir by Katrina Beikoff, Finch Publishing RRP $29.95.
The winner: Toni, who entered on behalf of her sister, whose house was totalled by Cylone Yasi.
Toni, email, DM or comment with your details so I can send you your prize.

The prize: Aden + Anais Dream Blanket.
The winner: Though this post attracted several comments, no one actually entered the competition because they weren't natural disaster survivors. So this wonderful prize will be recycled in the next block of giveaways.

The prize: Stubbies SunSmart school range. Two polo shirts, sizes 12 and 6.
The winner: Michelle, who knows a family who will appreciate these. Michelle, please email or DM your details so I can send you your prize.

The prize: A pack of four fantastic books published by Finch:
  • When the Bough Breaks, by Joanne Jones - a memoir about one women's journey to self acceptance after IVF failed and she was unable to have children. RRP $29.95.
  • Helping Your Baby to Sleep, 2nd edition, by Anni Gethin and Beth Macgregor. RRP $29.95. Everything a parent needs to know to help their baby to sleep.
  • Cocktails at Naptime, by Gillian Martina and Emma Kaufmann - A light hearted look at the joys and tribulations of early motherhood. RRP $29.95
  • Diary of a First Time Mum, by Nicole Hall - An amusing record of the unpredictable life of a new mum, complete with doubts, delights and sleep deprivation. RRP $26.95.
Again, despite some lovely comments, no one actually entered for the prize. (My readers are selfless like this).  So I'm opening up the Finch Publishing prize, plus the Aden + Anais dream blanket prize, again.
Finally, in the wash-up after Valentine's Day, I tweeted shamelessly on behalf of those who are either single, dumped, and/or lonely on the supposedly most romantic day of the year.

Into the fray came @LindtAustralia, who put forward a fantastic mouth-watering hamper of chocolately goodness for someone who was snubbed this V. Day.

(Can I mention that Lindt is my favourite chocolate? It's so delicious, we even practise eating a square Mindfully in my Mindfullness Training. You have no idea how delicious and lasting a tiny square can be over say, five minutes. You can't do that with a cheaper chocolate, I promise you!)

The winner of the Lindt Australia hamper of chocolates is: Simone Franssen.
Let's face it, anyone who spends much of Valentine's Day at the GP surgery, covered in vomit, is in need of some serious chocolate.

Simone, email or DM so I can organise for your prize to be sent to you.

As for the redraw prizes; the dream blanket and the Finch book giveaway, this time, you don't have to be a natural disaster survivor. You just have to want the prize/s and comment below. Make sure you're following my blog to qualify for an entry.
Next week, there will be more giveaways, so stay tuned.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy birthday baby...

It was Miss 7's turn to have a birthday this week, and she celebrated turning 8 with great enthusiasm.

Our family tradition is that the birthday girl or boy always gets to choose dinner on the night of their big day.

Last year, H. chose to have Peking Duck at our favourite little Chinese restaurant near school. (Though, that had to be for lunch, because I was still in hospital, and someone refused to bring her to see me. I managed to get a few hours' leave from hospital, and got permission from school to see my daughter and her brother on her birthday. Thankfully, the staff saw the benefit of spending lunch with the Mum they were missing desperately and were more than happy to let them come out at lunch time.)

This year, H. opted for Sizzler, much to her duck-loving brother's disgust. (And last year, C. chose Sizzler! You can't please them both at the same time...).

Anyway, this year I got to spend quality time with both my kids, and we were all a lot happier as a result.

The night before H's birthday, C. came up with a new family tradition: The 'Saying Goodbye' Night.

His idea was that we should also have a night to farewell the old year, kind of like New Year's Eve I guess. (Without the staying-up-until-midnight lark!)

So on the night before the big day, we enjoyed a candelit dinner (a birthday treat), and H. got to open one of her presents.

I was baking cupcakes for her class at school anyway, so with the oven on, I baked a few other family favourites, like chocolate-chip cornflake biscuits, which the kids devoured fresh from the oven for dessert. 

The inaugural 'Saying Goodbye Night' was a huge success!

The next morning, she woke early to open her presents, before going to school to celebrate with patty cakes and ice-blocks.

After school, her Dad picked her up for presents with Nana, and then dropped her off so we could go to Sizzler with a favourite aunt and uncle.

Miss Now-8 declared it the Best Birthday Ever. And there's more to come, with her Dad throwing her an AMF bowling party tomorrow afternoon.

As with my post about Mr 10's birthday, I feel completely in adequate in describing how much I love the wonderfully wild/sweet/tomboy/girlie contradictions that make up my Missy Moo.

Instead, I'll share some of our favourite moments from the year Miss 8 was 7!

 Happy birthday Harmonie. You're the best little girl in the world!

H. loves animals as much as I do. Here she is waking up next to Zsa Zsa, our foster toy poodle. The kids are lucky in that they both get to sleep with a pet, and they share them quite well.

Losing a tooth at a local food court. No tears, she was ecstatic. Because of the Tooth Fairy Money, obviously!

Feeding and fussing over her spoilt guinea pig, Star.

I'll have that one please ... as a pet though, not to eat! (She wishes! I've got to draw the line somewhere...)
In a rare pensive moment...

Cuddling our Kitteh Hannah

H. is an Aquarius and a true water baby!

Please forgive my tardiness in announcing the latest winners of my giveaways ... that will be done before the weekend is out, I promise.
In the meantime, there's a little more celebrating to do!

Readers, how do you celebrate special birthdays?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Careful What You Wish For ...

I haven't forgotton about the natural disaster giveaways ... winners will be announced very soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share a review by my first ever Guest Poster.

I ran my first-ever book giveaway a few months ago, after Allen  & Unwin kindly sent me a review copy of Careful What You Wish For by Maureen McCarthy (RRP $15.99).

Regular readers know I love to read, and review, books, but on this occasion, I thought: Why not let someone the book is aimed for, the chance to review the book instead?

Basically the book is aimed at girls aged between about 9 and 12, although it would appear to boys as well.
(One of the main characters is a rather mysterious boy).

After putting out the call for interested reviewers, the lucky winner was a delightful 10-year-old called Lily.

Here is her review:

Careful What You Wish For

Careful What You Wish For is the greatest book I have ever read!

This book will take you on fantastic journey with Ruth who is a young girl that doesn't appreciate her life.

Strange events occur around a magic rat named Rodney. Now I wont give too much away about Rodney, but Ruth goes on quite a journey and even goes back in time!!

This book makes me realise that sometimes the best things are right in front of you and even in your own home! And to appreciate what you have.

This book, honestly, I could never ever put down !

I could even talk about how good it was for hours and hours!

I can't wait to read more of Maureen McCarthy books!

I give this book 10 out of 10. Trust me you will love it!

by Lily.

Thanks Lily, for your awesome review!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unhappy Valentine's Day

How did you go with Valentine’s Day?

Chocolates, flowers and champagne?

A night out at a trendy, horrifically expensive restaurant run by shouty chefs?

Perhaps your lover whisked you off via helicopter to a private beach, where he (or she), dramatically proposed as fireworks lit up the sky.

If so, and I won’t mince words here, you are Bloody Lucky Truly Blessed. Make the most of it Baby, because not all Valentine’s Days are gold.

Yes, if you’re single, Valentine’s Day can suck. Big Time.

No one likes to be the odd one out as gift hampers and balloons get delivered to every girl (or guy) in the office. No one wants to be ignored or feel unloved on the one day of the year when we’re supposed to feel wanted and admired.

But hey, it could be worse. You could have been dumped on Valentine’s Day, which apparently happens to almost 50 per cent of people in the teen/young adult age group.

Experts say, there is something about V.D. that makes people re-evaluate their relationships. The same with Valentine's Day. (Boom tish!)

Is that chick you've been seeing worth splashing out on imported roses from a florist, or should she be happy with a cheap bunch of wilted service station blooms? That kind of thing.

Think it can’t happen to you?

Don’t be so sure.

My first Valentine’s Day break-up was during my first year of college, where I was studying for my Bachelor of Arts.

The boy, I’ll call him W., was pretty special. He was the first one I ever ... Exchanged Christmas gifts with. (What? What did you think I was going to say?)

But on Valentine’s Day, he turned up with a bunch of his mates, pissed out of his head, and bearing a bunch of flowers. Stolen flowers. From some innocent person’s lovingly cared-for garden.

After a few rather enthusiastic expressions of love, he asked me to join him at Valentine's Day concert that was on nearby. I was studying for a politics exam which I had to take the next day, and being a bit of a swot, I was not impressed.

I told him so. He told me I needed to lighten up.

I can’t remember what happened after that, but I think it involved about two hours in my room where we argued, cried, and yelled at each other. All while his mates, locked out of the room, banged on my windows and door asking us to hurry up!

The result was his flowers ended up in the bin, he left with his mates, and our 'relationship' was over.

It broke my heart for, oh, all of about five minutes. Okay, a couple of weeks. The worst part was when unsuspecting friends asked me what I’d received for Valentine’s Day – and I had the ‘fess up the horrible truth. I Was Not Worthy.

Since then, I’ve both endured and enjoyed countless Valentine’s Days. Some have been spent alone, and some of them have ended in tears.

On one memorable occasion a partner had lunch with me, and dinner with his mistress. (As I found out later).

Occasionally, I’ve been well spoiled, with expensive gift hampers, lingerie, jewellery, dinners out,  and the rest.

I’ve even had happy Valentine's Days as a single; enjoying rowdy, fun-filled meals and gossip with single girlfriends.

But the dreamy Valentine’s Days have been in the minority.

Even in the years I was happily married, we generally didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, due to the cost and the hype. And besides, every day was Valentine’s Day, right?

This year, I got Sweet Fanny All for Valentine’s Day.

Oh wait, that’s wrong. My kids came home to me on the night before with a couple of decent headfulls of nits.

I spent the night helping them fine tooth-comb out their hair till their scalps bled, but the next morning, Miss 7’s hair was still full of the nasty little feckers and their eggs.

Mr 10’s hair was fine, so we dropped him off at school, but not before he rubbed his head against Miss 7’s in a vain attempt to get a day off school.

Turned out not to be in vain after all.

Because I got a call about half an hour later to say C. was itching and complaining, and they thought he better come home too.

So Valentine’s Day afternoon was spent de-lousing my family, and washing all our clothes and bed-clothes.

I might have felt lonely except for my followers and friends on twitter, many of whom were spending Valentine’s Day alone, or in sensible ‘we’re-not-buying-into-the-hype’ and ‘who-can-afford-it-anyway?’ relationships.

Some had tummy bugs, others were laid low with sick kids. Some were saving money, and a couple of people found themselves, sadly, saying their goodbyes. (Or yelling. As the case might be).

Luckily for all of us, the wonderful team at Lindt Australia have come up with the ultimate in comfort food for someone who missed out on love (and chocolates) on Valentine’s Day. The hamper is valued at $100 in gorgeous Lindt treats, and is perfect to enjoy in bed. All by yourself. Non-sharing of chocolates is one of the benefits of being snubbed on V. Day. It's the law.

To win, simply check that you’re following my blog, then leave a comment as to why you deserve the hamper of Swiss chocolatey goodness!

Winners drawn on Friday, February 18.

And if you are one of the lucky ones to have been loved up on Valentine's Day, Lindt Australia has some fantastic suggestions on how to make special days romantic here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Selections

It's Sunday, and the lovely Kim from is hosting her regular Sunday Selections blog hop.

With the recent natural disasters we've been experiencing I thought I'd blog about things that make me happy.

Oddly enough (NOT), they mainly involve my kids and pets.

The lovely Russy, who came with the house we are renting. He's ours for a year. It took him a couple of weeks to get used to us, but now he's so affectionate. He loves to nap on my desk as I write.

The kids (who had been playing in the rain minutes earlier) working together to catch our guinea pigs. Look how mischievous their little faces are!

Zsa Zsa the toy poodle. She also came with the house, and OMG, how I'm going to miss her when it's time to hand her back. She's so light and cute and loving. I've never had a poodle before, but she's also smart and very trainable. She loves to sleep in my bed, and she is always super-excited to see us.

Mr 10 loves to go to sleep with our kitty Hannah, who gets along really well with our houseful of pets. Oh and his well-loved stuffed panda toy called Teddy, who he's had since he was a few months old.

Miss 7 feeding Polly Pig, while Zsa Zsa looks on. The hand belongs to Mr 10 and he's offering Polly a Pokemon toy. As you do.
And something just for me. A good coffee. Oh how I love thee.

So readers, what makes you happy?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Follow the reader

Yes, I know I've missed a day or two of giveaways. That's because, well, sometimes life happens and gets in the way of my blogging.

But I haven't forgotten about you peeps, and neither have the wonderful people at Finch Publishing, who have given me a cracker of a prize.

Finch, an independent Australian publishing house based in Sydney, is committed to publishing books that change lives - family, health, memoir, social ecology, relationships, and society. So it seems only fitting that they have sponsored my giveaway in aid of the victims of Australia's natural disasters this summer.

Finch is also behind the giveaway of Katrina Beikoff's memoir, No Chopsticks Required (My Family's Unexpected Year In Shainghai), which is a super read and is valued at $29.95.

Today, I have a pack of four fantastic books published by Finch.

They are:
When the Bough Breaks, by Joanne Jones  - a memoir about one women's journey to self acceptance after IVF failed and she was unable to have children. RRP $29.95.
Helping Your Baby to Sleep, 2nd edition, by Anni Gethin and Beth Macgregor.  RRP $29.95. Everything a parent needs to know to help their baby to sleep.

Cocktails at Naptime, by Gillian Martina and Emma Kaufmann - A light hearted look at the joys and tribulations of early motherhood. RRP $29.95

Diary of a First Time Mum, by Nicole Hall - An amusing record of the unpredictable life of a new mum, complete with doubts, delights and sleep deprivation. RRP $26.95.

Each of these books are awesome and would be a fab prize on their own.
But because they are all relevant to Mums, I thought I'd package them into one big prize. Wouldn't these books be perfect for a new mum, mum-to-be, or someone who is trying to conceive?
To enter, simply follow my blog if you're not already doing so, (just click on 'followers'), and then leave a comment below. Entrants must be survivors of the Australian natural disasters or be entering on their behalf. Prize drawn on Friday February 18.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Get smart

Just in time for back to school, the crew at the iconic Stubbies brand have come up with a world-first: School wear for kids, that blocks 97.5% of the sun's damaging UV rays.

Overseas followers may not realise this, but Australia is one of the skin capitals of the world. UV levels,  which cause sunburn, skin and eye damage, and skin cancer,  are at their highest in summer between 10 am and 3 pm. That's the time when most school kids are outside taking lunch breaks and/or playing sports! And the rays are there even on cloudy days or in the shade.

CEO of the Cancer Council of Australia, Professor Ian Olver, says that childhood sun explosure increases the lifetime risk of skin cancer.

"Melanoma can occur at a young age and is the most diagnosed cancer in 15-44-year-olds," he says.
"Cancer Council's SunSmart program has approved the Stubbies SunSmart range, and found that this uniform option will provide school age children with the hightest level of protection in clothing."

As an added bonus, the shirts come with cooling vents in the underarm area, an adjustable waist,  and a scratch-free neck label so kids don't get itchy there.

That's really important for kids like Mr 10, who gets eczema, and finds his usual school sports shirt irritates the hell out of him! "Try not fidgeting when you're itchy all day," he says. "I wish my school had these shirts."

The SunSmart range also features reversible shorts, to save parents money!

Stubbies has become part of Australian culture. It has even entered Australasian slang vocabulary, and is referred to in the Australian Macquarie Dictionary as "short shorts of tough material for informal wear".

Stubbies have given me two shirts to give away: One roy-coloured (kind of like a dark blue) size 12 SunSmart Polo, and one sky-coloured (pale blue) size 6 Polo.

To enter, simply follow MIA, if you're not already doing so, and comment below, letting me know if you would like one or both shirts.

Entrants must be survivors of the summer natural disasters which have hit Australia, or someone who is entering on their behalf.

Winner/s announced next Tuesday, February 15.

If you can't wait, you can check out the products online at Stubbies currently are offering free delivery for orders of $50 or more.

The Roy-coloured SunSmart polo

Monday, February 7, 2011

In your dreams...

Day two of the Giveaway-A-Day and I have a gorgeous present for a parent who has survived the Aussie natural disasters.

Courtesy of the lovely people at aden + anais, I have an aptly-named Dream Blanket which would be perfect for a baby who has lost favourite blankies and/or silkies in the floods, cyclones or fires that have ruined our summer.

The blanket, like all the aden + anais products, is made from natural, gentle muslin, which is so soft and dreamy I wish they made adult versions! They are valued at AUD$ 44.95.

Perfect for snuggling, and unlike so many baby products, the more you wash the dream blankets, the softer they get.

The aden + anais range also includes swaddles, sleeping bags, burpy bibs, towels and other baby goodies.

Not only will baby be warm and snuggly, he or she will be following in the footsteps of celebrity babies like those of Sandra Bullock, Kourtney Kardashian, Jennifer Garner, Jamie and Jools Oliver, and our own Isla Fisher.

Australian Mum Raegan Moya-Jones is chief exectuive officer of aden + anais, and says babies love to be swaddled and will sleep better if they are. Check out her book Swaddle Love for more information.

To enter, you must be a survivor of the floods, cyclone, fires or other natural disasters that have ripped through Australia this summer. Or be entering on behalf of someone who has.

To enter, just follow MIA, if you're not already doing so, and leave a comment below. Winners announced Monday, February 14.

Jamie Oliver and family love the aden + anais range
One of the dream blankets from the aden + anais range. Wouldn't your baby look good in this?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Session

So my mates @TheaTweets and @Motorbikes_Lady often invite me to join the weekly Sunday Session.

This is a post where we share a song/DVD that we loved from the past, and one from now. (And sometimes a few in-between).

Here's one of my all-time favourites. Oh the nights spent dancing around handbags with my friends in Toowoomba on Free Ladies Nights.

(Pre-PC-ness and anti-binging laws, that mean entry and basic drinks were free for 'The Ladies'. In an attempt to attract, loads of men!)

We quickly learned to give false names to the boys who liked us, as they could always track us down otherwise (as most of us lived on campus. Let me tell you, I was the only Bronwyn in F. Block. Anyway, I digress ...)

I loved this song!

And for a newbie ... I love Pink. She's a bit of a Girl Crush of mine.

This is one of my current faves.

No Chopsticks Required

It’s Chinese New Year, so what better time to review award-winning journalist Katrina Beikoff’s debut book?

No Chopsticks Required – My Family’s Unexpected Year in Shanghai, (Finch Publishing, RRP $29.95) is Katrina’s entertaining tale of her young family’s exploits at work and at play in China.

Katrina and her partner Gary Smart moved to Shanghai with their daughter Milly, then 3, and son, Nelson, then 1, after accepting one-year contracts to work as foreign experts at The Shanghai Daily.

As Katrina struggles to cope with natural disasters, smog, uprisings, and the battle to find ‘real’ bread, milk and eggs, No Chopsticks Required also tackles the controversial subject of the Chinese education system.

I’m guest-posting about the so-called ‘Tiger Mummy’ phenomenon over at SuperParents tomorrow (Monday April 7), so I won’t go into that here.

Suffice to say that Katrina is well-placed to comment on the subject, given her experiences in China, where Milly was expected to attend kindy from 9 am – 4 pm five days a week – longer than school in Australia! Even one-year-old Nelson was expected to attend classes, though babies were allowed to do half-days.

Somehow, she manages to find a middle-ground, in a country where she was frequently scolded for not dressing her children warmly enough, or for feeding them cereal for breakfast.

Personally, as a former journalist, I was particularly intrigued by Katrina’s often frustrating experiences whilst working at The Shanghai Daily, the city’s only English language paper. Politics, corruption, censorship and a blind faith in the authorities were often rife, and stories were often changed or even ignored completely.

And, as a Mum who once lived overseas with my family, I can also relate to Katrina’s experiences settling in to a new country. I can only imagine how much harder it must have been to come up against a different culture, language and food as well. (Actually, I don’t have to imagine much, because Katrina describes it beautifully).

Katrina and her family lived in China during the Beijing Olympics, the melamine milk contamination scandal, the Tibetan uprising, and the earthquake which killed more than 80,000 people. And quite possibly, for the first time ever, there was Vegemite on the Great Wall Of China. (Literally, thanks to Katrina’s Vegemite-loving tot!)

Thanks to Finch Publishing, I have one copy of No Chopsticks Required – My Family’s Unexpected Year in Shanghai, by Katrina Beikoff, to giveaway.

As the first in my Natural Disaster Giveaway-A-Day, the competition is open to people living in Australia who have been affected by the devastating floods, fires, and cyclones this summer. Or to people who are entering on their behalf.

To enter, follow my blog (if you’re not already doing so), and leave a comment.

And happy Chinese New Year!

Note:  I have tried and tried to upload an image of the lovely Katrina and her book. Blogger isn't letting me. So if you'd like to see more, pop along here. Thanks. xo