Thursday, September 29, 2011

Puss ... and pets

It was a scary situation at Chez MIA yesterday, when Zsa Zsa the Toy Poodle alerted me, by barking frantically, that Russy the big gentle pussy cat, was unwell.

Russy is a gentle giant of a kitty, who came with the house we're renting.

He's been ours for almost a year now, and just like Zsa Zsa, we love him like he's one of our own furry babies.

Lucky the kids were with their Dad, because when I saw Russy's shaking face, and darting unfocussed eyes, I knew instantly he was not okay. His back legs were down, and when he tried to walk towards me he collapsed.

It was terrifying enough for me to see Russ like this, that I knew the kids would be really traumatised had they been here.

All I could think of was that the cat had been poisoned or bitten by a spider or a snake. We live near a forest, and we'd had no less than five skinks in the house in a couple of days so it was a distinct possibility.

I dropped everything, popped Russy in his cage, and took him straight to the vet.

The vet was great, and took Russy ahead of the queue instantly. No one in the waiting room minded.

Russy was fast deteriorating and was kind of fitting in my arms. I thought he might bite or scratch in his distress, as the vet drew urine and took temperatures, and shaved bits where Russ thought he might be injured or bitten. But Russy just kind of moved into me, as if for protection. I had never loved him more.

Russy spent last night at the vet's hospital on a drip and on valium to calm his nerves, while more tests were done, and this morning the vet revealed the results: Snake bite.

He'd suspected as much the day before when shaving had revealed a suspicious puncture wound near Russ's face. But clearly the snake hadn't gotten a good grip of Russ, and it looks like our big pussy will be okay.

I hope so.

His real owners had warned us that Russy was an outside cat, who probably wouldn't spend much time with us once we moved in.

Indeed, he spent most of the first week or two staring at us balefully from his favourite spot near the outside pond.

He'd come in at night through the cat door, and eat his special, expensive cat biscuits, then disappear again, like a thief in the night.

But gradually, he'd come when called for a cuddle, or his favourite, a combing and brushing session.

Then he started letting Harmonie pick him up and lug him upstairs and into the house at meal times. And he'd stay here, joining us on the couch for petting and purring.

One night, he terrified me - and Zsa Zsa - by jumping on me in the middle of the night. He only meant to join me in bed! He still occasionally sleeps with me, usually only on a really cold night when the kids aren't here. They are his preferred sleeping partners of choice.

And then he started bonding with Mr 10. I'd often find the pair curled up in bed together, Russy sprawled on his back in ecstasy as Chase patiently rubbed his belly. Or sleeping side by side, Russy sharing Chase's pillow.

Even when C. was staying with his Dad, Russy would go to his room looking for him, and then settling down on his favourite spot to sleep.

When I came home last night, it felt strange not to have Russy waiting at the top of the driveway and then walking down to greet me as he always does. And when I leave today, it will be weird not to have him walk to the car with me, to see me off.

I knew I'd have to say goodbye to Russy - and to Zsa Zsa eventually - but I never thought it would be quite so soon.

So I really hope that the furry angels are looking down on Russ and will bring him home safe to us.

Our sweet Russy...
In the meantime, here's an ad that reminds me of how Russ would be if he was human. Erm, a cartoon. Well, you know what I mean. He's a big ginger kitty, and he's charming, just like Puss In Boots.

It's a parady of the infamous Old Spice ad, and I could really use a laugh right now!

Readers, has a pet ever touched your heart?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hump Day Holiday: Rotorua (Where No One Can Smell Your Farts!)

This week, I thought we'd revisit Rotorua, which was the destination of our first weekend away after moving to New Zealand a few years ago.

Yes, that was back in the day when I was still married to the father of my children, who had thoughtfully banned eating and drinking in the car, so I'd commited the unforgiveable sin of not packing snacks.

Even though we'd been up and had fed the kids early, they were starving an hour into the trip, so we had to stop at a service station for supplies.

And so we found ourselves queuing for nearly 25 minutes at the service station cafĂ©, for what was possibly the worst coffee I have ever tasted in my life (and that’s from someone who has spent a lot of time in country Australia).

The kids were happy with their haul though – juice and brownies – especially as we broke the rules to allow them to snack as we drove to save time.

Cambridge was the next stop, where we literally spent a penny (actually it was 50 cents each) to use the loos. A farmer’s market was on nearby, so the kids picked up a bag of organic apples and juice for the journey.

I had never seen them so excited to buy fruit before, but hey, New Zealand apples are delicious!

Finally, after a very scenic 4 hour drive, we made it to Rotorua, where the first sights of steam rising from cracks in the ground prompted cries of excitement (from the adults as well as the kids).

We stopped at a local park, where the kids excitedly checked out a few hot springs, whilst complaining about the smell.

Yes, we’d been warned about ‘stinky’ Rotorua, but were still overwhelmed by “The Stench” as C. called it.

Still, there was a bright side. “Now we can fart and you won’t know if it’s us or the hot springs”, he announced excitedly. H. wickedly lost no time in testing out the theory! "It's true!" she announced happily.

We snacked on yummy roti and samosas made by local Maoris for lunch, before checking out our hotel.

I’d booked an internet special online, and after reading a few trip advisor reviews (after instead of before the booking), I was a bit worried about what we’d find.

But the Hotel Sudima was fine. Sure they lost our booking, but they found it again; and our room wasn’t ready on arrival, but they gave us a key to the pool and loads of towels so we could go for a swim in their thermatically heated pool.

It was divine! Even warmer than the hydrotherapy pool I used in Brisbane for my arthritis exercises.

There were even private spa rooms where you could lounge in peace. The spas were only partly covered, so you could sit back and watch the stars at night or enjoy the sensation of a cool rainshower while your nether regions were toasty and warm. These had to be booked, but there was no extra charge, which I thought was awesome.

For NZ $129 a night for all of us, including a full buffet breakfast, you couldn’t really ask for more … even though the Rotorua smell somehow followed us everywhere.

We walked around the lake, napped, and enjoyed hot spas in the afternoon, before heading to a Maori show and hangi that evening. It was touristy, but fun, and the kids were spellbound.

We all enjoyed the hangi, and later, the Princess joined me on stage for a poi dance, while the big and little men got to do the Haka.

The kids with two of the performers. Weren't they tiny back then?

Next morning, we visited the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Billed as New Zealand’s most diverse area of geothermal activity, it’s a bit like visiting the Land That Time Forgot.

Steam rises from eerily coloured pools and vents, mud gurgles and plops, steam vents hiss, and cavernous craters dot the land.

It is seriously one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to in the world. Right up there with unforgettable must-sees like the Grand Canyon and Victoria Falls.

Even the Princess forgot to ask to be ‘luppied’ (carried), so entranced was she by the sights and sounds (and even the offensive smells).

The Little Dude was taken by the names of some of the attractions: the Devi’s Home, Devil’s Bath, and the Infernal Crater, to name a few.

And they both loved the eruption (induced by soapflakes) of the Lady Knox Geyser, which soaked them both as it erupted about 20 metres up into the air.

We would have loved to have stayed longer at Rotorua (and I for one, would love to return to try the world-famous Polynesian Spa – girls’ weekend anyone?), but reality and work in Auckland beckoned.

One day I hope we'll return.

And "It smells like Rotorua" has become a favourite family saying, usually spoken when one of the kids has let one rip. (I, of course, never fart. And if I did, it would smell like roses. Not Rotorua!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Styling me ...

Isn't it lovely to get an invitation?

An unexpected invite via snail or email, a friendly tweet, a party?

Invitations are always welcome at Chez MIA, so I was immediately tempted when fashion stylist, blogger, social media expert, and keynote speaker Nikki Parkinson-Hubbard of Styling You, invited me to join her in a styling session at Westfield Chermside.

I thought long and hard about the prospect  took about two seconds to say 'Yes!' Just like a lovesick young woman being proposed to by a gallant young prince.

Except that on this occasion it was my turn to be treated like royalty, as I rocked up to Westfield Chermside in my daggy school-run outfit.

(Yes, I had intended to wear something nicer, but of course, it had been one of THOSE mornings, and I only got to throw something on as I ran out the door. I wasn't even wearing lippie. Gasp!)

Neither Nikki nor our gorgeous Westfield stylist Christie Nicholaides made me feel daggy or self-conscious. (I was quite capable of doing that myself!).

Anyway, first up for my quickie styling session - described as perfect for a first-time fashionista, or someone looking for a special outfit for a particular occasion (snap!) - was a chat with Christie about me, my lifestyle, and the outfit I was after.

Christie's first question was: What shops usually catch my eye?

I resisted the urge to reply: The cheap ones!

For it is true, Dear Reader.

Whilst once, in the heady days Before Children, I could afford to be fashionable and adorn myself with the latest trends, I now find myself shopping at charity shops and/or K-Mart/Big W/cheap shops. Or even Target, if I'm feeling fancy.

And like Fran Drescher, I never pay full price.

This is possibly why Nikki and Chrissie are stylists and fashionistas, and I am a Mum, who feels daggy pretty much most of the time. I leave the house with chipped fingernails, no make-up, pet hair on my clothes, and quite possibly, a raging case of nits. You can see why my self-esteem may need a wee boost.

And I got it during my styling session.

I silently thanked the Universe that there was no Trinny and Susannah-style sniggering at undies, or clutching of boobs and belly fat.

However, Christie did stand me before a mirror, and worked out my body shape and which parts to highlight and downplay.

(Turns out I'm a hybrid. Who knew? And my usual style wasn't too bad for my shape and lifestyle).

And then she asked about the event I was hoping to find an outfit for.

I explained I wanted something comfortable and practical enough that I'd be able to wear it all day at Problogger's upcoming workshop in Melbourne.

But I also wanted it to be professional enough so that I could wear it to interviews and at meetings in my career as a writer and social media consulant. But it also needed to be casual enough that I could wear it on the school run and not feel overdressed.

Oh, and it had to suit my age and shape.

See? No wonder I'm fashion-challenged!

With that brief, Christie took me to Sussan, where she says she finds loads of affordable outfits for busy working Mums like me, because the fashion is on trend and good quality without being outrageously expensive.

I liked the first outfit I tried on, but I felt a little uncomfortable and as if I'd need to wear heels and be 'done up' to pull the outfit off.

The second outfit I tried on was the one I loved. It was a maxi-skirt, singlet top, short-sleeved jacket and jewellery that would take me from the school run, to work, and even out after work if necessary.

While I was trying it on, Christie ran a few stores down to Joanne Mercer for a pair of wedge heels that fit perfectly. And not only that, were comfortable!

What I loved was that there was no pressure to actually buy what Christie had suggested.

It was her own idea to put the outfits on hold while we looked for a few other accessories and also styled Nikki.

Nikki, who had a different brief entirely, due to her being all kinds of awesome and stuff, writes about our experiences here. And seriously, pop across there and comment, because you could win a Westfield styling session plus $1000 to spend on your own new look.

Christie also gave me a few hints on what to look for when I'm shopping on my own:

- Add more not less when it comes to bling. Two, not one necklaces! Three, not one bracelets.

- Have a signature ring on one hand.

- You can buy good basics, like a maxi-skirt from Sussan but team it with cheaper items like a singlet or shirt from somewhere like Target or K-Mart.

- It's worth spending more on shoes if you can actually wear them all day. Or night.

So would I pay for a styling session?

Before this invitation, I would have said no.

But after? Yes!

I would have thought a personal styling session was a waste of time and money for someone like me.

Someone like me being a woman who no longer has a big budget for fashion, nor the body or fashion sense to know what suits me!

But then I thought back to the hours of time and frustration I've spent searching for an outfit for a special event. An outfit that suits me, that I can afford, that is there, and ready to wear.

And in less than 30 minutes with Christie, I found what may have taken me days of searching and tears to achieve.

In an ideal world, I would have liked more time to try on and compare a few different outfits. Just because I'm a girl, and that's how I'm used to shopping.

But I was certainly happy with the outfit I took home, and I am always being complimented when I wear it.

I must add, that I've certainly never spent the amount I spent at Westfield on what I consider an everyday outfit. But they very kindly gave me a $500 Westfield gift card to spend on the clothes and I figured I may as well use it. (Note: I didn't even spend it all! For The Win!)

The clothes were comfy and on trend, as were the shoes and jewellery. And Christie gave me tips for how to make the outfit pop, say with a cheap red singlet to go with the red bag I already owned, rather than an expensive designer alternative.

To be honest, I've already worn the hell out of my Styling Session outfit. I keep it clean and ready to go, and can just pop it on when I have something I need to look decent for.

And that's another bonus. It travels well too, and no ironing is required.

I think the speed service would be particularly wonderful for women searching for a perfect outfit for a one-off occasion, like mother of the bride, prom night, wedding/five-star gown, or similar.

The only problem, is that like after an upgrade to business class and being forced back to economy, I've been spoiled.

After my speed styling session, I tried to buy the elbow-length top Christie said would take my tribal trend outfit into a possibly chilly Melbourne.

I spent at least a couple of hours looking, and nothing came close to what I'd been told I should look for.

And when I found it, I thought: Where's my stylist? How do I know this will suit me and is it worth spending my money on?

I think another visit to Christie is in order.

And next time, I may be brave enough to try colour blocking!

Disclosure: Westfield Chermside gave me a $500 gift card to spend whilst participating in the speed styling session.

Also? I did take photos, but as I've said before, I am IT challenged, and I cannot find them anywhere! Best go across to Nikki's blog if you want proof of my new look.

Yes, I know. New look, same sucky internetz skills.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mmm ..... chocolate!

Today I'm hooking up (wait, that sounds wrong ...); Linking up (!) with the lovely Veronica from Someday We Will Sleep.

Veronica is hosting Kim's weekly Sunday Selections, where she encourages bloggers to post photos that are just sitting on their computers, waiting to be shared.

My photos aren't gorgeous arty ones like theirs are, but they are snapshops in time  from my life with my kids. And so to me, they are precious.

Like this one. We were out shopping the other day when Mr 10 asked me to turn my back while he spent some of his pocket money. He didn't have enough for whatever it was he was buying, so his sister offered him some of hers. 

Together, they made me close my eyes when they christened me with this:
It was a very classy chocolate foil medallion, which said: 'Best Mum!'
Altogether now: Awww ....

Aren't they gorgeous kids!?

I know, one minute they are sending my blood pressure skyrocketing with their bickering and sniping, and the next they are melting my heart with their love. Parenting is like that. Isn't it? (Please say it is!)

Of course, I had help to eat the love token ...

"Chocolate? What chocolate?"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline

Aspie Mr 10* reluctantly poured himself into the car, and sat looking sullenly out the window.

"You know I hate concerts and shows," he said. "I don't want to go."

"You saw the ad on TV," I said patiently. "You said it looked awesome."

"Well I don't want to go now," he pouted. "I hate crowds and noise. It sounds stupid."

"But I want to go," piped up Miss 8. "Mumma, it's not fair if we don't go."

Before she burst into frustrated tears, I repeated the mantra that I am often forced to speak whenever we go on family outings.

"Well, we're going to go, but if you really hate it C., we'll leave. But you have to give it a try. Okay?"

It wasn't really okay with Mr 10, but he grudgingly agreed. *

It was school holidays, and for a treat (I thought), I'd arranged for us to attend the matinee for Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline.

I'd done this because when we'd seen the advertisement for the show, billed as one of the most dangerous and death-defying on earth, both kids had been enthralled.

"I want to go there!" said H. "That looks awesome!" said C.

And yet, C. was still sulking as we found our seats, which were fabulous, just a few rows back from the stage, and right in the middle.

"Why can't we sit up there?" he complained, pointing at the seats right up in the back of the theatre.

"Because we have seats here," I replied. "And these are better seats because we're going to be really close to the action."

"I don't want to be close," he said. "Someone might fall on me."

"No one is going to fall on you," I replied. "And is there anything else you want to complain about?"

"Yes, actually," he said. "This is the most boring show I've ever seen."

"That's because it hasn't started yet," I said, through gritted teeth, instantly regretting my decision not to purchase alcohol at the bar.

But it was okay because at that point, the clown/mime who opens the show and co-ordinates the whole event - with audience participation and humiliation at the max - began interacting with the crowd.

From that moment, both Mr 10 and Miss 8 were mesmorised. Mr 10 did not stop talking and exclaiming (luckily the music and ooh and ahhs of other audience members meant that wasn't a problem to others), and Miss 8's eyes shone. I didn't know who to look at more - the expression on my happy kids' little faces, or the action on stage. Okay, most of the time the performers won.

(Note to Mummas: Most of the artists/athletes were men. Muscled, handsome, toned men. Most of whom seemed to be spectacularly well-endowed. I had no idea I would enjoy the show quite so much. Ahem.)

Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline was awesome! And the testosterone levels - and the adrenalin - were to the max!

Of course, there are probably bigger and better shows, but as an introduction to the Cirque kind of performance, I don't think you could go past the value for money. And this one was clearly aimed at families.

Prices are reasonable for the talent on display, and I was pleasantly surprised to see there wasn't a load of highly-priced crap for parents to feel guilted into buying for their kids.
Even programs were $10, and the Lyric Theatre sold bottled water for $3, which was a refreshing change.

Of course, as a lucky adult, I've seen a lot of the tricks and stunts before, but at the same time, appreciate how incredible and difficult they must be, and the dedication, strength, and talent required to pull them off. And admire it/be gobsmacked by it, all over again.

As for the kids, it was the first time my children had ever seen anything like this in real life, and they were absolutely blown away. No complaints, requests for food, or need to go to the toilet. They were too busy being entertained.

At times, I swear, I exclaimed even more than they did!

"OMG," I kept hearing myself saying. "Far. Out!"

"The man's pants are pink!" exclaimed Miss 8.

"Why are the men wearing make-up?" asked Mr 10.

At intermission, I asked C. if he wanted to leave. "No, we can stay, I know H. likes it," he said. (See how how he martyrs himself right there? He's staying for his sister's sake, not because he likes the show. Yeah right.)

"I want to see the motorbikes in the cage. There will be motorbikes in the cage you know Mum."

This was the finale of the event, where three daredevil stuntmen ride at high speed around a giant metal cage while a brave woman (one of the mens' wives I believe) stands in the middle. That one is officially called the Wheel of Destiny and is described as the most death-defying circus act of all.

"That was awesome!" said Mr 10, all thoughts of sulking clearly forgotten. "I told you it would be a cool show Mum."

MIss 8 said the entire show was: 'Bloody brilliant!' (And I didn't tick her off for using the word 'bloody', because is it even a swear word any more?)

Either way it was. Bloody Brilliant.

* C. wasn't just being petulant. As a child with Aspergers Syndrome, he is particularly sensitive to sounds, smells, and crowds. He'll often have a minor melt-down before attending something like this, and sometimes, I won't even take him. In this case, I knew he would love the Cirque once it started, so it was worth the effort. It's all part of getting him used to the challenges the world poses for Aspie kids. I was worried about aspects of the show, in particular the loud music, motorbikes, fumes, and lighting effects on C. And although, he did find some of it a little confronting, he was too engrossed to mind. Yes, he did talk, repeat words, and 'flap' a lot on the way home, but it was all very positive.

I also loved that most of the performers/artists were male. For obvious reasons. But I also thought it was a great role-modelling thing, that men can do these amazing art forms and displays of strength and balance and be paid for and admired for doing so. Usually it's girls in skimpy costumes to admire - not that there's anything wrong with that - but it was a nice change.

Disclosure: Maid In Australia received three complementary tickets to Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline for the purposes of this review. But it's definitely worth the price of admission, with tickets started from $39 and special deals for families. Really, compared to most school holiday events, Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline is a bargain.


- Probably best for kids from about the age of 7. There were many kids in the audience but not too many really young ones, who may have been scared by the noise and theatrics. My children, 10 and 8, were right in the demographic and experienced not one moment of boredom. Best of all, I loved it too.

- Don't pick seats near the front and at the sides, unless you enjoy being picked out of the crowd and forced to participate on stage. The mime/clown picked several members of the audience - mainly men - to do silly things on stage. All in good fun, but if you're a shy, retiring type, you may not enjoy it!

- Take water and snacks, both to save money and time queueing. The facilities were way under-catered for the numbers attending.

- Arrive in plenty of time if you have to pick up tickets from the box office. Apparently there are two! We eventually found the second.

Le Grande Cirque: Adrenaline is currently playing at QPAC's Lyric Theatre. Parking is $15 per entry, or tickets include the price of free public transport. For details, go here.

Waiting for the show to start with her $3 water. There are signs saying drinks and snacks are prohibited but the lady at the gate said water was fine.

"I'm bored," says Mr 10. Hmm, the show hasn't even started yet!

Yes, she is wearing mis-matched thongs. It's a fashion choice, believe it or not. Maybe it will catch on? Mr 10 refused to be photographed.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It was more than okay

So, Thursday was RUOK? day in Australia.

I've already blogged about RUOK here. And here. And here.

Basically the idea is to get people talking about little problems before they become big ones. To prevent suicide attempts by making it easy for those who are struggling to ask for help. And sharing the knowledge that often, just asking the question: Are you okay? gives a person the chance to admit, that no, they are not.

We all know how easy it is to connect over a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Okay or a fizzy drink. Whatever is your poison.

I guess it was only fitting that the lovely people at Gloria Jeans sponsored RUOK day.

 In Brisbane, the Gloria Jeans franchise at Indooroopilly Junction, 100 Coonan Street, Indooroopilly, opened their doors to bloggers and twitterers so we could meet to talk about our posts, check that we were all okay, and tweet and FB live throughout the morning.

They were truly wonderful.

Not only did they offer us way-too-comfy lounge chairs, wi fi, and unlimited tea and coffee (with babycinos and/or hot chocolates for the kids), they fed us and made us feel completely at home.  (Actually, better than home. Because at home I have to make my own coffee and snacks!)

During that time we were able to tweet and reply to tweets. Some of those were questions from people in crisis. At least a few people needed to know what to do for their loved ones who were not okay. Or where to get help for themselves.

(I must add here that RUOK day was confronting to many. Myself included. Often it involved going back in time to  periods when we were at our lowest, or struggling. That was emotional at times, and confronting to think about let alone write about. Luckily, there were also times when people in our lives had asked the question, and followed through and offered help. And it was healing to talk about those times too.)

On RUOK day, it was perfectly okay NOT to be okay. Many were not. That is where the blogosphere can be so helpful, because although an internet hug is not the same as a real-life one, a show of genuine sympathy, a link to helpful advice, or just understanding and support is just a click of a mouse away.

 With that in mind, I hope that RUOK? will become a question we will all ask year-round, not just on one day of the year.

The girls who attended the Brisbane meet-up - because we were all female, although men were welcome - have all had periods in our lives when we were not okay.

All of us found it stressful to throw on decent clothes, and get to an unfamiliar destination, to talk about a slightly uncomfortable subject.

And I thank everyone so much for making that effort and joining in. I especially thank @Tutu_Ames for being there at the start when a film crew arrived, and stopping me from feeling like a total loser!

A huge thank-you goes to the staff at Gloria Jeans Indooroopilly Junction for providing the venue and the refreshments.

Thanks to all of you, RUOK? in Brisbane was a success. I am pretty sure we all went home feeling better than okay.

As for those who couldn't make it and had to cancel at the last minute: It was totally okay that you couldn't come. Life happens. People get sick, kids get hurt, work gets busy. You didn't let anyone down.

Here are a few of the highlights from Brisbane's RUOK day even at Gloria Jeans, Indooroopilly Junction.
The largest lamington I think I've ever seen!

Hmmm, what to order? In true Mummy Mode, in our morning dash to drop off kids and get to the event, we all missed breakfast and were starving!

Our friendly barista tried to write RUOK on my coffeee ... bless
The pumpkin and ricotta roll was seriously moreish

Some seriously delicious snacks ...

Sustenance you understand?
Siphon coffee, the latest thing for coffee connoisseurs
You've got to love a gathering where tweeting, texting and emailing is encouraged!
And a little bit of real life chatting too...

So dear readers, are you okay?

 I hope so!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

RUOK? The Brisbane Event

There have been many times in my life when I have not been okay.

Depressed, anxious, lost, confused ... There have been times when I didn't know who I was anymore, and didn't know who to trust. When my faith in human nature, the Universe, God and life was lost. Where I felt hopeless and unable to continue one more minute, let alone one more day.

There were so many dark periods in my life that I was too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help. When I didn't know how to ask. Or who to ask.

There were people in my life who would have cared if they had known, but I didn't want to worry them. I didn't want them to have to take on my problems as well as their own. So I struggled along in silence, bravely putting on a happy face and pretending I was okay when I really felt lost and alone.

Yes, I have been suicidal. Yes I have wanted to crawl into the foetal position and stay in my bed and never come out again.

But you know what? I'm so glad I did not. Because as much as life can suck sometimes, it's not all shit. And with help, you can get through it. And when you get through it, you open up your life to good experiences, not just the bad ones. And with time, the good experiences help get you through the crappy times.

That's what RUOK? Day is all about. The idea is that sometimes life is so overwhelming for people already struggling to cope with their lot, that little things seem insurmountable. So insurmountable that it appears there is no way out.

But that's not true. Trust me.

Often, it just takes a kindly friend, stranger, health professional, colleague, ANYONE, willing to stop for a minute and ask: 'Are You Okay?' And then listen, really listen, and try to help. (There are all sorts of ideas on how to do that, here. Plus Hugh Jackman is there. Hugh Jackman. Sigh.)


Let me share just one occasion where the RUOK question stopped me from falling into the abyss.

My first-born was about four months old, and I'd taken him along to the GP. Poor C. was a sickly kid from a young age, and had bronchiolitis.

We talked about his treatment, and then the GP - who knew me pretty well by now, because I'd been seeing her for some time - stopped for a minute, put her hand on my arm, and looked me right in the eyes.

"And what about you?" she asked. "Are YOU okay?"

It was the first time anyone had asked me that in, well, a long time. Suddenly, my lips trembled, and then the tears fell, uncontrollably. For I was not okay. But until my GP took the time to ask me, I wasn't even aware of it.

I was depressed and was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well. I got help with a psychiatrist, medication and counselling. And I got better.

Of course, being better doesn't always last forever. Sometimes shit happens and you're knocked back down into a well of darkness again. Or sometimes you just fall and you have no idea why.
I've done loads of counselling, Mindfulness training and all sorts of therapy which means I now recognise when I'm not okay, and I know how to go about getting help.

But not everyone has that opportunity. Not everyone has the life experience. (I'm thinking in particular, of kids, teens and young adults, who like me when I was their age, think that not being okay is embarrassing or a 'failure'. (It is not: But it is the way you feel at the time.)

Just asking: Are You Okay? can make a world of difference. Because it gives someone who is struggling the chance to answer with something like: 'Well, no, I'm actually not okay.'

And on Thursday, September 15, Brisbane and South East Queensland RUOK supporters will gather at Gloria Jeans at Indooroopilly Junction to make the occasion.
Gloria Jeans are putting on coffee, tea and snacks - because often the perfect time to ask 'RUOK' is over a coffee or tea. Kids are welcome, and there will be babycinos all round.

There are door prizes as well:
A signed copy of my book Happily Ever Parted (Surviving Separation and Divorce)
A copy each of The Bark Cutters and The Changing Land by Queensland author Nicole Alexander
One of two family (admit 4) passes to The Smurfs Movie courtesy of Sony Pictures Australia
and last, but definitely not least,
A basket of goodies from Lindt Australia valued at $50!!

Here is where it's at:
Gloria Jeans, Shop 8, Indooroopilly Junction. 100 Coonan Street, Indooroopilly. 

It's free, but please do RSVP below for catering purposes.

And let's all work towards feeling okay!

Monday, September 12, 2011

This I Know: The RUOK edition

I've struggled to get my head around writing another RUOK day post.

It's okay... RUOK day is not until September 15. But it's been on my mind, particularly with recent events which have made the news.

It's not my place to comment on those things. They are not my stories.

I am happy (weird choice of word intended), to write about my own experiences with mental health issues, depression, anxiety and suicide.

There was the one where I wrote about being hospitalised for a 'major depressive disorder'.

There have been several posts where I've written about anxiety and depression. Those feelings of not ever being good enough. Times when I was too crippled with nerves and lack of confidence to leave a freaking hotel room. And other times, when I met my fears head on and ended up finding that delightful, illusive feeling of happiness.

And I guess, that rather than writing a deeply insightful post, I'd share some of the things I've learned about being okay. Or not.

This I Know: The RUOK edition

* It is harder to put your hand up and ask for help than to continue aimlessly and sometimes harmfully on the same path.

* When someone asks if you are okay, it is fine to tell them the truth. So often we automatically reply: 'I'm fine,'  'it's okay,' when it clearly is not. What are some responses that won't freak people out? "Actually, I'm not okay.", "I've been better', "I'm this close to falling off the edge and topping myself." Truly. Just say it. It is what it is.

* Even if you think you are alone, you are probably not. There are people in your life who want to help. Maybe they don't know how to. It's okay to open yourself up to them and let them try to get you through this.

* If you really are alone, there are people and organisations who will help. A good GP for starters, and there are plenty who will bulk bill. Otherwise, contacting the organisations I list at the end of the post.

* You're not crazy. There are medications, professional care, counselling;  a multitude of treatments to help you. Often we react in very normal ways to appalling events in our lives. We would not be normal if these events didn't affect us, or make us angry or sad.

* Always go on to live another day. No matter how bad today is, tomorrow is another day. Give it a try.

* No problem or deed is so bad, or so big, that it cannot be overcome.

* Some of the people in this world who have been majorly depressed, or attempted suicide are the sanest, cleverest people I know. Many of them are high achievers. It is not a failure or a crime to have suffered severe depression. It is a condition that can be managed and treated. You can go on to live a happy life.

* If one day people use your depression or suicidal thoughts against you, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. It doesn't have to define your life. The truth is that real darkness is likely to envelop all of us at some stages in our lives. It's part of being human.

The important thing to remember is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And you can make it there!

* Think of those who you would leave behind if you died. You might think they will be okay, or better off, but they won't be. They will never get over losing you. They will need you every day. Don't leave them behind. 

There have been a few sayings and mantras that help me whenever I'm feeling low.

"Just keep swimming." I think it's from Finding Nemo of all places. But it encapsulates beautifully that we can get to our happy place if we just keep our head above water.

"When you're going through hell, keep on going." A Winston Churchill one. Churchill famously battled the 'black dog'.

"Always get up for another day." One I made up for myself. Because you never know what tomorrow will bring. And a good nights' sleep or at least rest will work wonders.

"Show yourself the same loving kindness you would show a family member or friend'. From my teachers in the Mindfulness courses I've done, that have made a world of difference to how I see and cope with the world. Often we are own harshest critics. The idea is that we should treat ourselves as we would others, with caring and compassion. It's okay to put ourselves first sometimes! 

RUOK Day on September 15 is designed to get people talking about suicide, and helping stop small problems becoming big ones.

Here's the official information:

More than 2200 Australians die from suicide every year and for every person who dies in this way, it is estimated there are at least another 30 people who attempt suicide.
It's the biggest killer of men between the ages of 15 and 35.
R U OK? Day aims to reduce the number of suicides each year by encouraging everyone to reach out to someone who might need help. Research shows that talking about suicide with someone at risk reduces the chance of them taking their own life.

There are launch events for Sydney, Melbourne and Perth; and I'm trying to organise a similar event in Brisbane. It will be a morning coffee/tea break on Thursday, September 15, at a Gloria Jeans cafe. The idea will be for participating bloggers to talk about their posts, and tweet live from the event, to raise awareness. Probably, traditional media will attend to learn more about our bloggie causes.

If you're interested in attending, leave a comment below, or DM or email me. 

And if you're feeling desperate right now, or know someone who does, here are some places to get help:
24/7 telephone counselling service
13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service
24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved
1300 659 467

MensLine National
24/7 support for men dealing with relationship and family issues
1300 78 99 78

Kids Help Line
24/7 telephone and online counselling for young people 5–25 years
1800 55 1800

Reach Out!
Online crisis and mental health information for young people

SuicideLine Victoria
24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved
1300 651 251

Telephone Interpreter Service
If English is not your first language please call the Telephone Interpreter Service for assistance contacting a helpline
131 450

Helplines and Information

SANE Australia Helpline
Mental health information, weekdays 9am–5pm
1800 187 263

Mental health services and support for young people 12–25 years

beyondblue Info Line
Information about depression, anxiety and related disorders
1300 224 636

Black Dog Institute
Information about depression and bipolar disorder

Or ask a friend to take you to see a good GP, who can get you pointed in the right direction.

Don't feel embarassed, don't worry if you cry. Trust me, they've seen it all before.

And they will help you get back to feeling okay.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Giveaways, good times and generosity

It's been fab to see the rise in support from the lovely social media-aware companies who support MIA.

There is Sony Pictures Australia, who regularly send preview invitations for me, and movie passes and packs as prizes for MIA followers.

There's the PR company Kath Rose And Associates, whose clients often include me in opportunities for traditional media, and also have been known to offer up prizes.

There is Virgin Airways, who, while unable to help when I was begging for professionally pitching for event sponsorship recently, uploaded a couple of lounge passes to my account so I can check the new-look lounges out and review them for you when I next fly Virgin. (Which will probably be soon!).

There is Nuffnang Australia, who not only get me the occasional paid advertisement here at MIA, but include me on their panel of product reviewers.

Generally, they send out a general email detailing the product available, and asking for interested participants. Then they work out which blogger/family is best suited to the product on offer, and send the product to that address.

So, I had mixed feelings when this arrived in the mail this morning:

Unfortunately, it wasn't a cute labrador puppy.

It was a family pack of Kleenex Cottenelle Toilet Paper.

Yes, obviously the people at Nuffnang and Kleenex worked out that my family go through a shitload/crapload large amount of toilet paper every week. I am sure we also possess the perfect bottoms with which to test and review their toilet paper.

Either that, or they think my blog content is shit/crap gentle-on-the-bottom, disposable, flushable and kind to wildlife.

Speaking of wildlife, a huge thank you to the Australis Diamond Beach Resort And Spa, whose team offered up a two night family getaway for an MIA follower.

I'm not saying the resort people think my readers are wildlife, I'm referring to the rich flora, fauna and marine life in and around the resort which are just waiting to be explored.

 Have you entered? For your last chance, go here, check you're following MIA and leave a comment. Entries are drawn at 5 pm today and announced tonight, or possibly on the weekend, depending on the co-operation of small humans and animals.

And I'll get back to you on the toilet paper!

Monday, September 5, 2011

If you hate her then you better put a ring on it!

I thought it was April Fool's Day this morning.

There I was, innocently sipping coffee and catching up on twitter  Very Important Emails, when this came to my attention:
It's a gold diamond ring. But not any ring, oh no! It's a Divorce Ring. (Now that I mention it do you notice the heart has been ripped in two by a diamond-studded dagger? Classy).

And for a mere US$3200, it can be yours. Plus postage from New York City. Where else?

The idea is that a girl's soon-to-be-ex will get down on bended knee and De-Propose. I can see it now. Romantic restaurants around the country, erupting in applause, as a weeping woman is asked: 'Will you divorce me?' Or as women tell their estranged partner: 'With this ring, I thee shed.'

I thought the concept might have been a quirky, one-off internet stunt. But upon further investigation, I discovered that there are Divorce Rings for men and women, with all sorts of budgets considered. You can even have a chunk cut out of your wedding ring to indicate you're divorced or in the process of getting there.

See? And the little lines can represent the number of children you have!

As the author of Happily Ever Parted (Surviving Separation and Divorce) published by New Holland Australia, I talked to several people who had celebrated their divorce with parties or even civil ceremonies where they maked this rite of passage in their lives.

And I kind of get that. After all, engagement and marriage is a huge occasion in our lives and we mark it by taking vows in front of our family and friends. It's always been a bit weird to me, that divorcees or the separated are expected to suddenly morph into their single lives without making some kind of formal statement, or setting new goals, surrounded by the people who care for them.

But a ring? Granted, a nice piece of jewellery would probably help the taste of divorce turn that little bit sweeter, but I don't think I'd be happy wearing a constant reminder of a marriage-turned-bad.

However, some newly-divorced fans say there's an argument that wannabe daters can see clearly if they're engaged or married, but not if they are Single But Fragile. Or even that 'I'm marriage material, but I'm single and available now.'

Perhaps there's even a market for a ring that says: 'I'm divorced/separated and not ready for a relationship, but I'm looking for a Friend With Benefits.'

I wonder if you'd wear your Divorce Ring on the engagement/wedding finger, or choose a whole new finger to show off your bling. Talk about giving divorce the finger!

And I think that Beyonce song totally needs a remake: If you hate it then you should have put a ring on it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dad's The Word

It's Father's Day this weekend, a time when small humans wake their fathers with squeals, burnt toast and weak tea; and when older kids bond with Dad over a barbie and beer, later in the day.

I'm not visiting my own father, because I'm still laid up with the Dreaded Lurgy. No long drives and celebrations for Dad and I. Instead, I'm in bed, resting and taking loads of pills, and hopefully kicking pneumonia to the curb.

However, the kids and I have scheduled a trip to catch up with Dad and Mum in the upcoming school holidays instead.

The kids love a visit with Pa-Pa. Depending on the time of year, he always has fruit and veggies to plant and/or pick. It's particularly exciting if there are things like potatoes to be dug. Oh how C. and H. fight over who gets to dig and who gets to 'spot' the potatoes. And they they love to fight over how we're going to cook them.

Family traditions hey?

Dad and Mum have a fridge full of forbidden delights like fizzy drink and cordial, and a cupboard full of biscuits and chocolates.

Except that my kids don't really eat a lot of that kind of thing, and it puzzles my parents, who grew up when lollies and sweet drinks were a treat only for the very rich.

Why would C. and H. say no to cake, and ask for a piece of fruit from the garden instead? Am I passing my weird city veggie-rich, garlicky rabbit food ideas onto my children? Unforgiveable!

Dad was born and bred in Australia, but as he gets older, his German heritage is coming into play.

It's as if it's his life's mission to feed us up. Even me, who I can tell you, does not need feeding up in the slightest.

Hence, Miss 8's latest blackmail threat if I don't let her do something she wants, like adopt yet another small animal.

"I'll tell Pa-Pa you don't eat your meat," she says smugly. "And then he'll go all mad at you!"

That has me shivering in my boots, I tell you. Not. (Dad was never the disciplinarian when we were kids. It was Mum you had to watch out for!)

The kids themselves are with their own Dad this Father's Day. It's our second since my marriage broke-up, and it still seems a little strange to me.

Though I'm quite happily single, and I'm glad to be out of that relationship, I have to be honest: There's a part of me that misses playing happy families.

In the early days of our marriage, when things were magical, I remember spending hours painstakingly putting together photo collages of daddy-kiddy moments for their Dad for Father's Day. And when my Ex lost his own father, a few years later, I went through hundreds of photos putting together a photo frame featuring happy memories with his own Dad, himself, and the kids, so that he could look at the photos at any time he was feeling down.

That's all over now, but I know my Ex still has those photo frames, and the last time I was at his place, they were even on the wall.

It's these kinds of days that are weird when you're separated or divorced. It's days like these, that I wonder how we went from being caring and in love, to living in different homes and not being able to stand being in the same room together. But I'm sure, (fingers crossed), it will get better in time.

I want the kids to have a good relationship with their Dad, so when I last had them, we went shopping together and they chose a gift they both agreed on, which I paid for.  I'm no saint; It's just that my Ex is still the childrens' Dad, and they don't have much money of their own, and I wanted them to be able to give him a gift that was just from them.

We would have gotten cards too, but they made their own at school, which they were quite proud of.

On Father's and Mother's Day, my kids, okay 'our' kids, are proof that the relationship was not a waste, because how else could two wonderful small humans have come into this world? And that's a comfort I did not have when my first marriage ended.

But by the same token, I could move on completely and quickly after marriage number one hit the skids. Once property was divided, there was no reason to see each other again, so it was relatively painless.

However, divorce, whichever way you slice it, sucks.
It's even harder for single parents who do most or all of the parenting, or  those whose children have been abused or hurt by a parent or step-parent.

It's a time when they realise they're practically a father AND a mother, and they're not getting the recognition or help they deserve.

The whole depressing nightmare can feel even rougher for parents who feel their kids have been taken off them, and who have been prevented by law or by distance to be with their offspring on Father's/Mother's Day. Or to have them just for a few hours.

And that can be depressing. For some people, the pain is overwhelming.

So if you know a single parent, and or a child - big or small - that struggles with 'special days', make sure you reach out to them. Not just on Father's or Mother's Day, but whenever there's an anniversary or special time, or you just think they might be struggling.

It could be as simple as asking them over for dinner, or checking to ask: Are you Okay?  Or: RUOK? as the cool kids say it.

Maid In Australia is part of RUOK Day.

It's a day on Thursday, September 15, 2011, when Australians are encouraged to ask the people around them if they are okay.

And to listen, really listen, to the response.

The idea is that by sharing problems, we can stop little problems from becoming big ones.

I'd like to think that we would ask this question of anyone who seems down or depressed, whatever the date, but in the meantime, RUOK Day raises awareness that it's a simple question to ask, and it could save a life.

Click here to see Australian's own Hugh Jackman speak about RUOK Day.

I'm okay. Are you?
If you're feeling depressed, anxious, alone and/or suicidal or even just need to talk go to:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Un-happy Father's Day

It's Father's Day. But is it a happy one?

While countless Dads across Australia wake up to breakfast in bed, and offerings of handmade presents and painstakingly-written cards, spare a thought for the other fathers.

They are the fathers who aren't treated to burnt toast and lukewarm coffee, and who, for a variety of reasons, dread Father's Day.

Like Mother's Day, Father's Day is supposed to be a special day to celebrate the bond between men and their fathers, and their children. A day when kids say thanks to their Dads for everything they do for them throughout the rest of the year.

But for many men, Father's Day sucks.

That could be for a variety of reasons: Death, divorce, separation, difficult relationships, abuse, or all sorts of crap that life deals out so unfairly.

As the author of Happily Ever Parted, (Surviving Separation and Divorce), published by New Holland Australia, the issue I'm comfortable talking about is Dads and Divorce. (I'm including separated fathers and/or dads who have kids from de-facto relationships here. But to avoid loads of really long sentences I'm bundling it all under the word 'divorce').

Now, in an ideal world, Dads would have access to their children for Father's Day, whether they are happily married to the kids' mother or not. And the same for the mums, on Mother's Day.

Certainly, in our separated family, that's the case. And our separated family is in no way perfect.

But I'm pretty sure my Ex and I both recognise that we both love the kids and they love us. So, on these special days, it's in the kids' best interests to spend it with the parent who is being honoured.

Do you see what I'm saying here? It's about the kids. It's not about us.

But some parents are estranged from their children - either by court, circumstances, distance, or choice - and that makes these 'special days' particularly difficult.

Sometimes, especially if it's early days after the relationship breakdown, it can feel like the grief of breaking up smacks you down all over again.

And like any grieving process, there's a tsunami of emotions - despair, grief, helplessness, blame, and even a sense of failure.

Watching other parents play happy families with their kids can be like a kick in the guts when you're already down.

So, how do we make Fathers and Mothers Days a little more bearable?

If you're on your own
Try to talk to your ex-partner, before the day comes around. (Ideally, have it written into your consent orders, that each parent gets access to the kids on their special day). If you can't spend the whole day, night, or weekend with your kids, even negotiating a few hours for lunch or dinner is better than nothing.

If you can't see your own kids on Father's Day, perhaps you could visit your own Dad. Or organise an 'orphans party' with others who are on their own, regardless of if they have kids. There are loads of singles out there, who would love to have had kids, but have never found the right partner, had the right biology, and enough money to make it happen. Or who are happily single, but wouldn't mind kicking back with a friend for a while anyway.

If you're without kids, but in a new relationship, turn it into a couples day - go to lunch, have a picnic, watch a movie. Do something for the new you.

And if you're completely on your own, as in single, that's fine too. Catch up with friends and family, or organise a trip away, so that you're not pining alone at home.

If you're the custodial parent
Have a heart. Your Ex may not be perfect, but presumably he or she loves the kids you made together. You know what, it might be nice for your kids to see the other parent on this special days.

(NB: This is unless the ex is or has been abusive, and in that case I recommend getting legal and psychological advice, and keeping the child/kids well away from harm. I would never recommend sending a child to a parent if you have any reason at all to suspect they would be harmed and/or abused).

But if you just hate each other, or can't stand to be in the same room together, that's not a good enough reason to keep your kids apart from their other parent. Perhaps you can do a changeover at a neutral place, like a friends house, or even a McDonalds, so that the adults are forced to act like adults.

It the kids are with you in the lead-up to Dad/Mums' day, help them buy something for the kids to give them. From them, not from you. Don't make it too personal - jocks or aftershave probably aren't a good idea, particularly if they've re-partnered. In our case, the kids chose stuff for their Dad's car, but books or vouchers might have worked just as well.

Help the kids make a card if it's not been done at school.

Give the kids spending money for the school Mother's/Father's Day stall if the school has them.  Believe me, the kids who turn up without spending money really stand out, and the last thing your children need is to feel guilty that they're again, not like all the other families.

Talk to your Ex ahead of time and perhaps arrange for him/her to spend at least enough time with the kids for gifts and hugs to be given. And maybe have a civil cup of tea or coffee together, even if you have to grit your teeth!

If you're the child
It doesn't matter how old you are, if you've had a screwed up relationship with your Mum or Dad; or you just can't stand them; take time to make peace with it.
As an adult, you no longer have to spend time with the person who helped create you.
But it's okay to be sad and/or angry about the cards you've been dealt.
In this case, I recommend talking to a sibling, trusted friend, or professional ahead of times, to help you come to terms with your grief.
It's pretty tough to watch your peers fawn over their parents if you secretly wish yours weren't even around.

If you're estranged from your child but still love them:
Make an effort to let them know they are loved.
Phone them, text them, send them a parcel to know you are thinking of them.
If your Ex is blocking the contact, consider buying a cheap, prepaid phone so they can phone you - and vice-versa - whenever you or they need to.
Let them know you are there for them, whenever they are ready.

Finally, remember this:

Kids are smart. It doesn't take them to work out who is really who, and what is really what. And even if they can't sort it out now, as long as you remain a constant, loving presence in their lives, you can expect to be a part of their lives in the future.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Get Smurfed!

Confession: I never really liked The Smurfs.

Growing up, most of my school friends seemed to collect them, and it was considered pretty cool to have a Smurf T-shirt.

But I was probably too busy reading my stash of Enid Blyton books to watch the Smurfs. Yep, I was nerdy even back then.

However, when the kids and I saw the preview of long-awaited Smurfs movie at the cinemas recently, I have to admit it looked really quite good.

This time around, the little blue characters seem much cuter, and the trailer looked funny. And it stars Neil Patrick Harris and Sophie Vergara among others, so the acting should be good.

So I was thrilled when Sony Pictures Australia sent me two double passes to the preview of The Smurfs for this weekend, so I could review it with the kids.

Except that the screening is at 2.30 pm on Father's Day (September 4), and my wee ones will, understandably, be with their Dad.

So I asked Sony Pictures if I could share the love, and give the passes to one of my lovely followers so they can enjoy a family movie on Father's Day. And they said yes!

Now, the screening is at the Event Cinemas Chermside, at the Westfield Shopping Centre. Sunday September 4 at 2.30 pm.

The catch is you must live in Brisbane - or be able to get here - so I can give you the tickets, and you can attend the movie.

If you'd like to win, just leave a comment below. Good luck!

And if you'd like to watch the trailer and check out the official website, you can do it here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Live your life like a honey badger

It started with a tweet from @alanagray about honey badgers.

Honey badgers have been a web sensation for a long time now, but Alana reminded me how much Randall's commentary makes me laugh.

And then I thought of making Live Your Life Like A Honey Badger my own personal motto.

Look at some of the things I've learned from Randall and his crazy badass honey badgers.

Honey badger lesson: Is a King Cobra attacking you? Honey Badger don't care. Honey Badger smacks the shit out of it.
Bronnie's translation: Someone being nasty to you? Don't give a shit. It's their problem not yours.

Honey badger lesson: It's okay to run in slow motion
Bronnie's translation: Take time to smell the roses.

Honey badger lesson: Hungry? Just take what you want. Don't give a shit.
Bronnie's translation: Eat whatever you want in moderation.

Honey badger lesson: Being stung by bees? Keep going.
Bronnie's translation: Don't let anything stop you from getting what you want.

Honey badger lesson: Been bitten by a King Cobra: Don't give a fuck. Take the time to have a lie down. Then get back up and finish the snake.
Bronnie's translation: Don't let the bastards get you down. And always get up again if they do.

Honey badger lesson: Lion or tiger taking your food? Grab it right out from it's mouth
Bronnie's translation: It's okay to put yourself first sometimes.

Honey badger lesson: The honey badger does all the work, and the other animals just wait around and eat all the food.
Bronnie's translation: The honey badger is clearly a mother.

Take a look at Randall's hilarious videos here. Warning there's loads of swearing.

And I have probably scared off all my advertisers ...