Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Blog Day!

My friends at Nuffnang have decreed that August 31 be named International Blog Day, where bloggers can celebrate all things bloggie.

As part of the celebrations, I've been asked to share six blogs that I love.

Now, it's really hard to pick just six, because there are so many people who write so brilliantly in the blogosphere.

And while I would love to give everyone a guernsey, here are six of my favourite blogs:

Honey The Great Dane: Drooling, dancing and a few adventures in-between. Honey, funnily enough, is a Great Dane, and I met her when I interviewed her owner Hsin-Yi for the New Zealand Women's Weekly, when we all lived in Auckland. Hsin-Yi is probably the first blogger I ever met in 'real' life, and we got on famously. She's not only an awesome person, with an amazing talent for animal handling, but she's a clever writer and blogger as well. Funnily enough, we all live in Australia now - Honey too - though Hsin-Yi and her lovely hubby Paul are now living in Newcastle. Hsin-Yi gave me loads of blogging tips when I first started out, and I'm a big fan of her work.

So Know What? Bern Morley is an accountant who happens to be an extremely talented writer and blogger. Her blog frequently makes me laugh out loud and spill coffee all over the keyboard. (Thank Goodness I have a trusty Toshiba now, unlike the Dell that apparently died after a mystery invisible spill just a few weeks into it's life at Chez MIA).
I'm proud to say we're friends (either that, or I'm a stalker who admires her greatly and she is just very polite to me!).

Not Quite Nigella Written by the lovely Lorraine Elliott, this cooking, eating and travel blog never fails to make me hungry, envious, and/or give me itchy feet. NQN was the first blog I ever subscribed to, and I read it pretty much every day. I also love that Lorraine is a very giving blogger, and always responds to comments and returns the love.

Magnetoboldtoo - She's rude, foul-mouthed, and irreverent, and that's exactly why I love her! Kelley, is another blogger who makes me laugh out loud when I read about her life. Her words have also made me cry and/or nod my head, and she gives awesome advice. She is also the only blogger I've allowed to fondle my boobs. Whilst she was branding me as one of her 'biatches'. (I wonder why people think bloggers are weird?)

Denyse Whelan - A teacher, principal, wife, mum, grandmother, and all-round totally wise woman, I love the way Denyse blogs from the heart and also tries to give back to her followers and the community in general. Got a question about dealing with your child's teacher, or helping with homework? Chances are Denyse has already written about it, and if not, ask her, and she'll answer.

Styling You - The blog of fashion stylist and journalist Nikki Parkinson-Hubbard is not new, but it is awesome and is Australia's Blog Of The Year. Like the other bloggers I've listed here, Nikki is a really cool person, who actually gets back to people who take the time to comment on her blogs, or ask her questions on twitter. She's very generous about sharing her knowledge, and she runs great giveaways. Nikki also knows how to adapt the latest fashions to suit ages, figures, and budgets, and isn't afraid to use herself as a guinea pig on our behalf.

So there they are: Six blogs that I absolutely love.

There are so many more I wish I could list, and I hope, perhaps, that someone might think Maid In Australia is worthy too.

Anyway, Happy Blog Day. That's got to be a reason for cake, right?

Movie review: Zookeeper

Hump Day Holiday is currently on hold, because Monday's movie review came late.

I'm sorry, MIA is my hobby, and sometimes life gets in the way.

But I need to announce the winner of my Friends With Benefits competition, so the lucky winners can get their prizes. And I wanted to review the latest family-friendly flick Zookeeper, which the kids and I saw on the weekend.

So Hump Day Holiday got shoved aside. It will be back next week. (Fingers crossed).
We'd already been impressed by The Zookeeper ads, and the kids were keen to see the movie. (You can check out the trailer here.)

And I have to say, that as a Mum, it is the Best Darn Kid's Movie I've Seen For A Long Time.

For starters, I did not fall asleep once.

Secondly, neither Mr 10 or Miss 8 felt the urgent need to wee/poo/be sick throughout the movie. Nor did Mr 10 spill his popcorn.

Instead, we settled down, ate some unspilled popcorn, and laughed. A lot.

Zookeeper is a really lovely family movie. There's a distinct lack of swearing and sexual overtones, a suggestion of romance, a statement about core values, and lots of cute animals acting like humans. And I know that's kinda wrong, but they manage to do it really nicely here.

There are plenty of laughs for kiddies and adults, and as for Kevin James (the actual zookeeper), well he can stop my car on the Brooklyn Bridge any time. (Am sure most of the Dads felt the same way about Rosario Dawson, the romantic interest in the flick).

The animals are voiced by actors like Cher, Sly Stallone and Adam Sandler. So it's just FUN!

And of course, it's very predictable. But the voices, the special effects, and the writing means that, in the end, it's still a great kids movie for an adult to attend.

Disclosure: The kids and I got to see Zookeeper for free, for the purpose of this review. But I would have paid to see it anyway. In fact, the cost of popcorn and drinks was obscene, so even though it's not technically allowed, I'd suggest packing a goodie bag.

Now, here's what we thought:
Miss 8: It's wonderful, funny, and cute. I liked the end bit the most. (The animals sing through the end credits). I give it two thumbs up!


Mr 10: I loved it all. The best movie I've ever seen. I think they need a sequel because when it was over, I felt it wasn't really over.


Me: I just thought it was fun. It was harmless, with a nice message, and plenty of jokes for the adults too. I wonder if TGIF sponsored the movie though? Product placement to the max! It's the best kids move I've seen for a long time.

Unfortunately, I don't have tickets to Zookeeper to give away, but I can announce the winners of the Friends With Benefits movie packs.

They are:
Nereda,
Leanne,
Amber;
and
Ames.

Please message or email me with your details so I can send your prize.

Readers, do you smuggle in your own snacks when you go to the movies?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Breakfast of champions

One of my earliest memories is sitting at the kitchen table and positioning the Kelloggs Rice Bubbles and Cornflakes boxes just so, so that I didn't have to look at my brothers.

Next minute, one of them would swipe a box, and we'd be at it.

"Muuuum, D's looking at me," I'd wail, before he replied that I was looking at him! Cue arguments, yelling, and tears. And that was just Mum!

Ah breakfast, the most important meal of the day.

The memories came flooding back this week, when a team of really cool peeps from Kelloggs flew to Brisbane to talk to a bunch of Bris Vegas Mummy Bloggers. I assume they chose us because they thought we were Terribly Important And Influential.

MIA was one of them. Ahem.

And it's not just me who thinks Mummy Bloggers are influential. Just ask my kids. Or George Negus. Or A Current Affair who featured a babble of Mummy Bloggers on last night's show.

Kelloggs didn't ask us to post or tweet for them. They didn't offer money or advertising. I make this point, because some bloggers have been criticised for attending the brunches with claims they are 'selling out'. WTF?

A few representatives of the company simply sat down with us, and talked about our lives and kids, and what we looked for in a cereal. We also had the chance to ask them questions. (The answers were really interesting, and I'll be posting a few Q. and A.'s later.)

Yes, they treated us to breakfast, and samples of their products to take home, and that was in recognition of the time and effort to get there. (None of us receive an income from our blogs, and many of us had to leave work and/or kids and other responsibilities to get there).

For Kelloggs, it was a chance for them to get in touch directly with the main buyers of breakfast cereals: Mums.

It was a perfect example of a brand meeting blogs in the best way possible.

And did I mention: I got my face on a box of Cornflakes?

See MIA, right at the bottom there ...
 And on the back! (Miss 8 took the photo of me that she used. She is demanding a photography fee Cornelius...)
Kelloggs cracked out some vintage cereal boxes for the occasion. I remember this one, because I actually entered the Magnetic Island holiday competition. Complete with massive $100 cash spending money!
Oh how I wanted that holiday. And the cash. I wonder how far $100 went back then?
(Note: We weren't regularly allowed Coco Pops. They were usually a school holiday treat).

Flash forward ... a table set for breakfast. And a frank discussion!

 Okay, you got me. Will blog for coffee.

 Mmm...Mum's don't usually get to enjoy cut-up fruit.

Breakfast was not cereal! I chose the haloumi, poached eggs and crumbed mushrooms with toast. Divine!

Me and my cornflakes. Photo courtesy of Kelly, BeAFunMum

Kelly and I ...
It wasn't all socialising. Tweeting and taking notes.
(Photo courtesy of Hannah Millerick)

The blogging bunch at brunch

All in all, a great time was had by all. I learned a lot about nutrition, cereal, and marketing from the folk at Kelloggs, and I loved the chance to catch up with some of my favourite bloggers.

And did I mention the coffee?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hump Day Holidays: Melbourne

I never really got Melbourne.

Sure the shopping and the food is great, but what about the crazy weather? Not to mention the weird-arse turning rules when driving?

But on my recent stay in Melbourne for Nuffnang's Blogopolis, the city worked her magic.

My trip from start to finish was fab.

I started it by falling into the embrace of a warm cab, whose friendly driver made getting me to the conference venue in the shortest time possible a personal endeavour.

Then after a fab day talking blogs and meeting some of my favourite people, I walked back to my hotel whilst admiring a double rainbow over the Yarra.

My room, a last-minute Wotif mystery deal was the Melbourne Citigate Hotel, where the staff were friendly and the rooms were quiet, despite the fabulous location.

There was a small hiccup where a bunch of us jumped into a stinky cab, and the driver abandoned us at what appeared to be the middle of nowhere for the after-conference party.

Finally, after a few emergency calls and with the help of strangers we found our way to the venue on the banks of the Yarra.

Next morning, I had a few hours to wander the beguiling alleyways surrounding my hotel.

I was entranced by the food, the shops, the smells, the buzz and of course, the coffee.

And I cursed the fact that I had booked one night instead of two, and reluctantly made me way back to the airport. This time with a suicidal mini-bus driver who almost knocked down an old lady in his haste to get us to the airport in double-quick time.

Next time, I'll be staying longer.

Readers, when did a destination surprise you?


At Blogopolis, I once again became one of Kelley's biatches.  

Afternoon tea at blogopolis. Chocolate mousse to die for.


Rainbow ...

My room at the Citigate. With a big bed just for me. Sigh.


My room AFTER I'd been in it for a few hours!

Room with a view ...

Sunday morning. How I would have loved more time to explore ...

On your bike!

Street art 

Says it all really!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You have got to be joking ...

Spotted in the aisle of my local Woolworths today:

Christmas lollies. On special.

Next to other Christmassy treats like chocolate-covered nuts.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Ho. Bloody. Ho.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stuff my kids say

So we were driving to school this morning, and talk turned to dinner.

Mr 10 was adamant he wanted to cook sausages tonight: Two kinds, pork, and chicken.

"And you're going to have to eat some Mum," he said. "You need more iron in your diet."

(WTF? He is 10 and would eat lollies all day if I'd let him...)

And then Miss 8 chimed in. "Yeah Mum. If you don't eat your meat, I'm going to tell Pa-Pa, and he'll go mad at you then. He'll be all: 'You've got to eat your meat, or you can't have anything else to eat'." (Said in her best impersonation of my Dad).

Hee hee.

This has all stemmed from the fact that because I love animals, I'm trying to abstain from eating animal products.

I won't say I've turned veggie, because my kids are carnivores, and it's not always possible or healthy for me stay completely meat-free, especially if I'm in a rush. But I've certainly cut down and I feel better - physically and emotionally - since I've done so.

But the kids don't like it. They love meat, even though they also love animals, and they can't get their heads around the fact that someone would choose to eat veggies instead. Whether or not they are pornographically-shaped or boringly normal.

I'm lucky that they eat veggies and salad too, and will try anything once, so we kind of compromise when it comes to meals, so that there is something for everyone.

And I love that Miss 8 thought of telling on me to my country-living Dad. Yes, Pa-Pa certainly loves his meat and three veg for dinner, and his German heritage always come out at meal times because he's constantly trying to feed us up.

Gosh, my kids are funny.

Recently, I was wondering aloud if I should go ahead with plans to attend Nuffnang Australia's blogopolis in Melbourne. You know because of the expense, and the fact that it would involve a night away from them.

"Is it for blogging?" asked Mr 10. "Yes," I replied.

"Then you have to go," he said earnestly. "It's your career. You HAVE to go, if it's going to benefit your career and your blog."

Aww, so wise and such a big heart.

Then there's the funny stuff.

During the nightly goodnight call whilst they were at their Dad's one evening, Miss 8 started telling me about their dinner. "It was yummy," she said happily. "We had those rolls we had the other night with you. You know, the casseroles."

Oh how I laughed.

Readers, what do your kids say that make make you laugh, cry or just think WTF? And have you ever been told on?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blogging bonuses

Confession: I love blogging.

Wait you probably knew that already, right?

If you're not a blogger, it's difficult to understand the appeal. For me, it's a mixture of writing, therapy, and mixing it up with some really cool people from all corners of the world whom I would never have had the pleasure to meet if it wasn't for the power of the internetz.

And then there are the moments when I get sent goodies to giveaway to my readers.

I love that some social media-savvy brands give me the chance to make someone else's day a little bit brighter.

It happens like this:

Either I contact the brand cheekily asking for a giveaway, or their PR people seek me out.

And if we're all happy, a few days later a courier - usually a man - turns up on my doorstep bearing a parcel. Hopefully it's on a day when I'm actually wearing clothes. Joking. Kinda.
The parcel may look something like this:

It's from Sony Pictures Australia. I love that they recycle their movie posters, by using them as packaging.

Oh look, they sent me Reese Witherspoon! 

Oh wait, it's just her photo ...


And inside, are the prizes for my Friends With Benefits movie giveaway. An in-season double pass, little black book, and mini pillow. (The pillow says Tonight on one side, and Not Tonight on the other.)
So that's how I get my giveaways, and I'm very grateful to brands who support MIA for spreading a little sunshine into my followers' lives.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mile High Blub

Hands up: Who gets weepy at the movies?

It's not too bad when you're sitting in a darkened movie theatre, and have time to mop up the tears before the lights come back on. But if you're in public, blubbing away whilst frantically searching for tissues is not a good look.

That's why I was thrilled to read that Virgin Atlantic has introduced Emotional Health Warnings for inflight movies.

Yes, apparently the airline management are so concerned at the number of Tired And Emotional passengers on board, they've decided to flash a warning sign before the start of tearjerker movies. The warning will advise passengers to have tissues at the ready, and to press the call button for a shoulder to cry on if necessary.

That would have come in handy when I watched Marley And Me on a flight to Samoa with the family a few years ago. I bawled my eyes out, even though I'd read the book and knew what was coming.

Oh yes, the kids thought it was HILARIOUS.

"Hey look, Mum's crying," they shouted happily, just in case anyone in our vicinity had not already noticed.

So it's good to know I'm not alone.
A recent Virgin Atlantic survey found that 55% of passengers agreed their emotions become heightened when on a flight. A staggering 41% of men surveyed said they hid under blankets to hide their tears. Bless.

Meanwhile, women said they were most likely to hide their tears by pretending they had something in their eye. Yeah, like anyone is going to believe that old chestnut.

Psychologist Corinne Sweet says our emotions are heightened when we're in the air.

“High flyers feel emotional at altitude as their defences are lower than usual, as they put themselves in someone else’s safe hands.  The space created by long-haul flying can allow for deep-seated feelings to surface, especially when triggered by tear-jerking films."

Members of Virgin Atlantic’s Facebook site, were asked which movies have made them cry whilst on board aircraft.  The top 10 movies?
1) Toy Story 3
2) The Blind Side
3) Eat Pray Love
4) My Sister’s Keeper
5) Seven Pounds
6) Brokeback Mountain
7) The Notebook
8) Gran Torino
9) Invictus
10) Billy Elliott

Virgin Atlantic’s Film Critic Jason Solomons says films inspire strong emotions.

“On a flight, we're isolated, leaving loved ones or aching to be reunited with them. We're nervous, we're tired, we might have had a drink at a time we usually wouldn't. If we see an image, a scene that reflects our emotional state, frankly we're suckers.

"Flying and films is a heady cocktail, the images and feelings so close to your eyeballs, so intimate. It's the modern-day drive-in and they always seemed to me the most romantic of dates.

“You don't really want to land with mascara running down your cheeks or bloodshot eyes but you can't help it. And if you're tempted to hug the stranger next to you, just point to the screen blubbing and I'm sure they'll understand."

Yeah, either that or ask the flight staff if they can change seats!

So readers, have you joined the Mile High Blub? Leave a comment below, and you'll be in the running to win one of four Friends With Benefits packs.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Australia, the packs include a double in-season pass to Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis;  a Friends With Benefits Little Black Book, and a mini-pillow.

Winners will be announced on Friday August 26, 2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Win a getaway at the Australis Diamond Beach Resort & Spa

My post about Samoa got me dreaming about getaways.

In a week where I managed to fall over whilst putting out the garbage, continued to cough and sneeze for Australia, ran Mum's Taxi service, and worst of all, found out my dentist has moved on (WAH!), I really wanted someone to take me away from all this.

And chatting to my peeps on twitter, Facebook, and in real life (yes, I do have some!), it seems everyone feels pretty much the same this time of year.

It seems our getaway dreams all have a few things in common.

Things like...

this...

or these!

An in-room spa bath

A comfy room

A lot of this! Oh yes please ...

And for the parents among us, sitting back and relaxing while someone entertains the kids at a fabulous kid's club! Oh my ...

A pool with a view ...

Paradise!

Wouldn't a resort that offers all this and more be a fabulous spot to escape to?

I thought so too.

And luckily for us, so did the people at the Australis Diamond Beach Resort And Spa.

Perched on the beachfront at Diamond Beach, on the NSW mid north coast, the architecturally-designed resort offers an award-winning restaurant, two pools, tennis court, gym, endota spa, kid's club and more.

The Tallwoods Golf Course is nearby, and all the attractions of the Great Lakes are within easy reach. That's if you want to leave the resort. Quite frankly, I think I'd never want to leave!
Thanks to the team at Australis Diamond Beach Resort And Spa, MIA is offering the ultimate getaway giveaway!

The winner will receive: 
Two nights accommodation at the Australis Diamond Beach Resort And Spa
Free upgrate to a two-bedroom resort spa villa
Dinner both nights
Late checkout at midday

*Subject to availability. Voucher cannot be redeemed during school holidays or long weekends. The Voucher will expire after 12 months from time of issue.

To enter, make sure you're following Maid In Australia, then leave a comment below on what you look for in a mini-getaway.
If you tweet or share the giveaway and link to my blog on Facebook, you'll get an extra entry. (But please leave a comment telling me you did this).
The people at the Australis Diamond Beach Resort And Spa would like to offer all commenters a special deal, which would involve me sharing your details with them. Please let me know if you don't want that to happen.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Australis Diamond Beach Resort And Spa are donating the prize.

Winner will be drawn and announced on September 9.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hump Day Holidays: Samoa


Today I'm starting what I hope will become a regular thing at Chez MIA: Hump Day Holidays.

It's where I revisit and/or review destinations that have wormed their way into my heart and family memory album.

Because let's face it, Wednesday is still the middle of the week, and a little daydreaming is often needed to escape the daily grind.

I couldn't go past Samoa for my first Hump Day Holiday post.

It was the destination of our last holiday as an 'intact' family, and it was awesome.

For a family holiday, it ticked all the boxes:

* Not too far away from home (which was then Auckland, New Zealand, but Samoa is close to Australia too).

* Loads of people spoke English

* Gorgeous beaches and warm waters

* A different culture to immerse ourselves in

* Our resort had a kids' club, which the kids loved! 

* Really affordable

* Food and drinks were reasonably similar to what the kids would eat at home, and there were no upset tummies

* Samoans love children, and our kids were treated like royalty!

The kids often reminisce about our Samoan holiday, and one of my goals is to take them there again. Sooner rather than later.

And we'd definitely stay at the same resort: Aggie Greys Lagoon Resort and Spa.  

In short, it was paradise.

Transport, Samoan style

Shopping.

A local pub
The snacks were novelties for the kids

You could eat Mr Bean!

The kids' favourite local soft drink: Shasta. It sent them slightly loopy; think it was the artificial colours and flavouring
Snacktime, after a swim in the lagoon

One of the beaches.

By the way, I have loads more photos to share, but they will be for another post!
Readers, do you have a favourite holiday memory?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Red for Daniel

I wasn't going to write about the latest in the Daniel Morcombe case.

It makes me teary whenever I read about it or see the photos of his angelic smile, sparkling eyes full of youth and adventure.

It's everywhere.

All I want to say is that I am so sorry for Daniel.

For his brothers.

His parents.

His loved ones.

The future that was taken away from them all.

When the call went out to wear red for Daniel today, I did it. The only red clothing items I own are a jacket and a bag.

So I wore those, and was pleased to see loads of others wearing them pretty much wherever I went.

In a few places, people apologised when they noted my outfit. "I only heard about Red For Daniel on the way to work/school" was the common lament.

And that was okay.

Because something tells me we will have plenty of opportunities to wear Red For Daniel.

On the way to school, we chatted about why I was wearing red, and Mr 10 announced - as he often does - 'I'd be right, I'd just kick 'em in the nuts and run away.'

And I had to explain, with obvious limitations, that evil people are mostly able to withstand a kick in the nuts, and may even have help. That when taken by surprise, doing something you do everyday, you may not be able to fight back. That the evil person/s are often stronger/more organised.

"But why didn't anyone notice?" said Mr 10. And again, I answered that it took only minutes for Daniel to go missing. And that a lot of people noticed something, but it wasn't enough to save Daniel.

There's nothing I can do to find Daniel, or make life easier for his family. But I can wear red to raise awareness, I can talk to my kids, and I can support the work of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.

And ... I'm just sorry.

Here's my photo - and I'm having a bad day/no make-up/chest infection day, so be kind.


A bad hair day is the least of my problems.

Did you wear red for Daniel?

Linking up with Nikki from StylingYou.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Love Bank ...

Last night, I came out of the shower to find a note propped up on my laptop.

And inside was this:

It was the best medicine a Sick Mumma could have asked for.

It had been one of those nights.

I'd had a crappy week, in and out of the doctors' surgery, pouring medication into the kids, mopping brows, and cleaning out sick bowls.

I then caught the lurgy myself (kids are so sharing, right?) and was feeling awful myself.

A little feverish, I was longing for a shower, but had been kept busy supervising Mr 10's shower, rubbing in cream for sore eczema, and getting snacks and drinks.

Miss 8, meanwhile, was feeling better but needed help to wrap a birthday present and write in a card for her friends' party today. (Of course they are better today: It's a weekend!) Cue: A frantic search for sticky tape, scizzors, novelty rubbers erasers, and lollies, because it seems you can't just do a present and card anymore; it has to be a card filled with lollies and novelty items and a present decorated with them.

I was just at that: 'Why doesn't anyone look after ME stage'. when the kids finally gave me five minutes to shower in peace.

And when I came out I found the note. And felt bad for feeling like such an ogre only minutes earlier.

Later, we were all tucked up in bed, when C. came into my room.

I was about to tell him off - after all he was supposed to be asleep - when he said: 'I'm just having trouble sleeping and I need an extra hug'.

And we hugged, and he said: 'Mumma's hugs always make me feel better'. And he toddled off to bed.

This from a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, who doesn't love to be touched. Bless.

And I was so glad I hadn't grumped at him, and had enjoyed a hug and a special moment instead.

I did eventually fall asleep, and while I'm still feeling physically awful, I feel like my emotional love bank got a substantial top-up last night.

Readers, how do you handle being sick, in a household of sick people?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Glee!

I was lucky enough to get free tickets to the Queensland premiere of Glee.

My daughter, 8, who lives and breathes Glee, totally wanted to go. But Mr 10, who also loves Glee but is too cool to admit it, wasn't as enthusiastic.

"It's a girl movie," he said dismissively. "Do you think I could sneak into Green Lantern instead?"

Erm, no.

We compromised, as we usually have to.

I said, we'd go for Miss 8, but if Mr 10 really hated it, we'd leave early.

As it happened, there were cheerleaders in the BCC foyer,  and singers in the actual theatre as pre-show entertainment.

We settled into our seats, where as usual, Mr 10 promptly spilt his popcorn. It's kind of a movie tradition these days.

To be honest, it was a bit of a let-down for a premiere. Call us spoilt, but if it's a premiere that usually means Free Stuff! We didn't even have to hand over the mobile phone or other recording devices, which always makes us feel very secret squirrel.

Instantly, Mr 10 began to complain about the 3D glasses.  C. has Aspergers Syndrome,
and apart from the sensory feel of the glasses on his face, he hates having images coming out at him as they do in 3D movies.

So the combination of the glasses, music, and concert noises had him moaning before we even made the half-way mark.

Luckily, Miss 8 is extremely loving towards her brother, and offered to leave as soon as he felt sick.

She still wanted to watch the end of the movie - and to be honest, so did I - but we couldn't sit there and let Mr 10 suffer.

So we came home.

We were lucky we didn't have to fork over money for the tickets, but even so, were a bit disappointed in the movie overall.

Miss 8: I loved it. But the glasses hurt my eyes and gave me a headache. I was embarassed when Britney acted all sexy and stuff. That was yuck.
I liked it when the little woman who was older was named Prom Queen. (H. was talking about a beautiful dwarf who had overcome obstacles to live her dreams).

Mr 10: I hated it. I would have watched it if it was in 2D. Why does everything have to be 3D?

Me: I would have liked to stay until the end.
The parts we saw were a bit disjointed and seemed to have been hastily cobbled together.
There were some aspects that were a bit adult for an audience that includes kids/teens. In particular, the character of Britney doing Britney Spears at her scantily clad, raunchy best, were a bit much I thought.
The movie would have benefited from more story-telling, and dare I say it, less music.
The story of the young girl with dwarfism in particular, stuck with my kids, and has been a talking point for days.

In particular the movie lacked one important character - the fantastic Sue Sylvester, who featured in the viral marketing of Glee, The 3D movie.



Readers, are you Gleeks?

Monday, August 8, 2011

What happens at the hotel, stays at the hotel

During the recent Nuffnang Australia Blogopolis, a group of naughty delightfully well-behaved bloggers made a pact: What happens at blogopolis, stays at blogopolis.

Because, although quite a few men attended the conference, the majority of delegates were women. And a large percentage of those women, were mothers.

 Mothers who were off the leash and away from partners and/or kids, some of them for the very first time. Many of whom had not drunk alcohol or gone out dancing since they began producing small humans.

Several ended up in each other's rooms and beds. (Steady on! It was as roomies to cut costs! At least, that's what I was told...))

Blogopolis buzzed with gossip about who snored, who left their spanx on the floor, and who felt the urge to raid the mini-bar in the middle of the night.

Many drank far too much champagne and/or mojitos, and partied on until the wee hours.

Several lost their way in the city, before the party even began.

And at least one person almost missed her flight home, and needed chocolate in the form of a Mars Bar From Strangers to calm her anxiety. (Please note: In this case, it was not me.)
 
But we all agreed: We would never speak of such events again.

Which is why I thought it was timely, when this news from Zuji came to my attention.

According to the travel giant, a survey of some 5,000 well-travelled Australians revealed Aussies go wild when they're on holiday.

Here are the stats:
  • 40% of Australians confessed to enjoying adult channels on holiday;
  • 23% fibbed about swiping items from the minibar (12% got caught red handed);
  • 20% of Australians admitted to taking bathrobes, pillows and towels from their hotel room;
  •  More than 65% nabbed toiletries as souvenirs;
  •  One in three hide something at a hotel if they break it.
Really?

Someone should get Noni Hazlehurst onto them and tell them it's polite to share, naughty to steal, and really, when in a hotel at bedtime, you should just Go The Fuck To Sleep. Not start stuffing your bag with pillows, bathrobes and anything that's not nailed to the walls.  

Readers, have you ever been guilty of being naughty at a hotel? Or worse, being caught out?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grateful for ...

Today I'm linking up with the lovely Maxibella Loves, who each Saturday blogs about things which make her grateful.

Taking time to stop weekly, even better daily, to think about the things in your life that are going right, rather than concentrating on everything that's gone to shit, makes a person realise that actually, life's not so bad after all!

My 'grateful for' lists usually include the obvious things like my kids, pets, a roof over my head, friends and family. And while that's still the case, this weekend I'm trying to think outside the box.

So here's what made me feel grateful this weekend:

My single life
Contrary to popular belief, being single and/or being a single parent does not have to suck. Of course there are moments when I miss, ahem, the intimacy of having a partner. And there are the times when I physically would love to have a big strong man around. Like when the gas bottle for the stove needs to be changed, there are dead vermin to be disposed of, or there are lightbulbs to be changed.
But there are so many awesome things that come with being single too. Less washing and ironing. If I don't have the kids, I don't have to cook.  I don't have to slave away to make money for someone else's lifestyle choices. And there are no wandering hands in the middle of the night when all I want to do is 'Go the Fuck To Sleep'.
(And please don't take that to mean I'm anti-men. I love men; some of my best friends are male. It's just that, at this stage in my life, I'm enjoying putting my energies into my relationship with myself and my kids.)

Good food and drink
Even though I'm a card-carrying member of the Boombah Club, I watch what I eat. But that doesn't mean I have to starve myself as I might have when I was younger. Lately I've realised that a healthy diet doesn't have to mean deprivation. I can still enjoy every bite I put into my mouth. Eating mindfully, quality over quantity, and organic wherever possible. Just perhaps smaller portions than usual. Or skipping dinner when I have a big lunch. (See above). Weight loss is just one goal, but putting good nutrients into my body and enjoying the taste and textures of food and drink is a pleasure of life, and another essential part of staying healthy.

My bed
I have a clunky old TV in my bedroom, which only gets three channels. But on the nights when I don't have the kids, I love nothing more than climbing into bed early, propping myself up with pillows and my laptop, the poodle and cats gathered around me. And then I tweet, sometimes with my snark on, while I indulge in reality shows like The Block and Masterchef.
On the weekends, sans kids, it's the same, but with the addition of the weekend newspaper and/or a good book. Bliss.

Blogging
Blogging has not only given me an outlet for my writing (which is kind of my therapy too). It's also opened up a world of opportunities. Just last weekend, the fabulous media-savvy companies, Continental, Kia, Zuji and Hyundai, gave me enough sponsorship to allow me to attend Nuffnang Australia's blogopolis conference in Melbourne. I could never have afforded the airfares, flights, car-parking, transport and accommodation had it not been for their generosity. Not only did I learn more about social media in one day than I had in years of being a part of it; I got to catch-up with and meet the bloggers I admired.

Alternative health
I know traditional medicine has its place, and I use it whenever necessary. But Oh My Goodness, a session with a good alternative and/or wholistic health specialist can be amazing. I'm talking an honest-to-goodness, true-blue one. Lately, I've received a lot of no-drugs, no-surgery relief thanks to really amazing natural health specialists. It's made a world of difference.

So there you have just a few things that make me happy and/or grateful.

Readers, what are yours?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mediation, Melbourne, and Mummy and Male Bloggers

It was a fair dinkum, kick-arse, weird week at MIA.

First up, the Ex and I had our mediation.

For those outside of Australia, mediation is something you go through as a last ditch attempt to avoid going to the expense and emotional upheaval of court whilst divorcing a former love.

I'm not allowed to say much about our mediation, but I can tell you it sucked. Hugely.

Ironically enough, the mediation venue was in walking distance of the mental health hospital I was once a guest of, thanks to the major depressive disorder which was diagnosed during the end of my marriage in January 2009.

 That period was the roughest, most gut-wrenching time of my life; and yet it was life-changing, in a good way, as well. I'm not the broken, shell of a woman who walked through those hospital doors anymore, and I never will be again. And for that, I am truly grateful.

In an even more unusual juxtoposition of services, the law office where the mediation occured was right next to two wedding/bridal shops. Lovely.



So that just really put the icing on the cake of a really crappy day.

For a couple of days following mediation, I could barely talk to anyone. I felt so let down by the legal system. I can only liken the experience to having my insides pulled out and trampled over by a thug, while a thief rifled through my wallet and took everything.

I felt like pulling the doona over my head and staying in bed for a week.

But then I remembered, that I'd secured partial sponsorship to Nuffnang Australia's inaugural blogopolis, and that perhaps it might be timely to attend.

Besides, it seemed like kismet that blogopolis was occuring on what would have been my 11th wedding anniversary. And we had spent some of our honeymoon in Melbourne. It  felt right, to go, despite or perhaps in spite of, how crap I felt.  

Somehow, the planets aligned and I was able to get fairly affordable flights (thanks Virgin Australia). My accommodation (wotif's mystery hotel deal, which was at the Melbourne Citigate, and within walking distance of the blogopolis venue, was also a bargain).

On arrival at Melbourne, the flight was on time, and I jumped into a cab because the Airport Bus chick told me I'd have to go to a station, then walk to another one and take another train). I just wanted to get to the conference, and didn't want to miss any more of it than I had to.

Instead, thanks to a fab taxi driver, I made it there only about 15 minutes late, and that was only because it took so long to find the freaking conference venue once I'd arrived at the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets.

And then, despite my 3 am start, despite my stress and anxiety, I felt at home as I was warmly welcomed by the best of Australia's bloggers. And my fatigue and stress disappeared.

We squeed, we hugged, and we learned. 

It was awesome.  

Leaving the conference, this stunning double rainbow crossed the Yarra River. I tried and failed to capture its beauty, but it was wonderful. And meaningful too, you know? Like the symbol of a new beginning.

The other side.

Walking to my hotel. Taste of Paris anyone?

To be continued ...