Thursday, March 27, 2014

Maid In Australia Goes Blue


I dye my hair blue for World Autism Awareness Day each year, in line with the idea of ‘lighting it up blue’ for autism.

The idea is that major landmarks around the world light up in blue for raise awareness about autism, for example in New York, Rio De Janeiro, Niagara Falls, the Sydney Opera House, and Brisbane's Sir Leo Hielscher (Gateway) Bridges.

Wearing my hair with blue splashes in it for a month or so gets noticed, and then I can explain why I’ve done it. Thereby raising awareness.

Usually I do it for World Autism Awareness Day, which is on April 2. But then people ask why my hair is blue and I tell them about it, but it’s almost as if it’s too late.

So this year I did it early. So that I could actually promote World Autism Awareness Day before it happened, rather than after.  

And sure enough, there have been comments. All have been positive (although my parents haven’t seen it!) A few people thought I was just being radical! (Yes, totally me).

We have a lovely local hairdresser, Brooke Stead, who suggested that instead of dying my hair, I try a few blue hair extensions.  The benefit is that my hair won’t end up blue for weeks, and I can take them out when I’m ready.

Do you like?

Mr 13, who is on the spectrum, has taken up the challenge to turn his hair and fingernails blue for the cause.

We’ve registered with Autism Spectrum Australia’s fundraising campaign, Go Blue ForAutism, and he’s looking for sponsors to donate if he goes ahead with the hair dare.

We’ve even got our own fundraising page, and it would be awesome if you could donate to this cause which is so close to our hearts.

Here are the facts: One in 100 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in Australia – around four times more likely to be boys than girls.  On Wednesday, April 2, communities around the world celebrate World Autism Awareness Day, acknowledging the achievements of people with autism, recognising their experiences and that of their families and caregivers, and helping others to understand what it means to live with autism.

That’s a cause worth going blue for, don’t you think?

Would you pay to see this boy's hair go blue?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Do you cheat?

Image: Stock Photo

It's official: I'm a cheat.
On Week 2 of my Isagenix Health Cleanse, I deliberately gave myself three days off from the program - which you're not supposed to do - because in a long weekend of celebratory events, I knew I would stuff it up. And I didn't want to feel guilty about it.
I was pleased with my first week's effort, so I felt okay about taking a few days off. I didn't go crazy, but I didn't want to feel bad about eating and drinking and taking part in normal life. And I didn't want to feel deprived either.
So I had a fab few days, and on Monday morning I felt my eyes and skin weren't as clear as the week before, and as if I'd put on weight. I was beating myself up about it, when I realised I had lost another half a kilo and a few more centimetres. For the win!
So with renewed enthusiasm, it was back onto the shakes.
That week though, I found myself cheating. A lot. It wasn't that I wanted anything bad. Far from it. I was dreaming of salad sandwiches. Nourishing Vietnamese soup. Rice paper rolls.
I looked forward to my shakes in the morning - they made me feel good and filled me up, and seemed to give me more energy for exercise. (Far better than just coffee or the dregs of the kids' breakfast.)
I usually had my 'knife and fork' meal in the middle of the day, because I was starving by then, but didn't feel like another shake at night. So I wasn't quite following the diet the way I was supposed to.
Plus there was dinner out here, a coffee there.
I'm only pointing it out, because I have to be fair and admit that I wasn't following the cleanse properly. But I refused to feel bad because life is for living, right?
For my second cleanse, I failed miserably. I felt weak, sick, and deprived. (Later I found out that as well as pneumonia, I had whooping cough. Once I was on the right antibiotics, I improved quite a bit).
I managed the whole day until dinner, when Miss 11 had a chicken salad sandwich before Taekwondo, and I crumbled and had one too.
And I thought: How ridiculous to feel guilty about a chicken salad sandwich?
(And yes, it tasted divine).
So that was the cleanse broken.
Even so, I lost a further kilo that week, which made 3.5 kg in two weeks, and several more centimetres.
The fact was I was continuing to slowly lose weight without really trying, and without being able to work out quite as much as I would have liked to. It's hard to know how I would have gone if I was healthy and not recovering from pneumonia and whooping cough! Maybe I wouldn't have given in on cleanse day? Maybe I would have had enough of an appetite to have a second shake on shake days? (You're supposed to follow the program, so having the second shake is important if you're wanting the weight loss).
In any case, there has been more going on than cheating on diets at Chez MIA. Currently, Miss 11 is on day three of a suspected grumbling appendix or mesenteric lympadenitis, which is an inflammation of the lymph nodes.
She gave me a fright when niggling tummy pains in the morning - which we had thought were muscular - had turned into stabbing pains in her right hand side by school pick up time.
She looked terrible too, and was cold and wearing a jumper, even though it was a hot Queensland day.
Straight to the GP we went - and we've returned since - but the jury was out. She's lost her appetitie and been pretty nauseous, but it's the pain that's bothering her the most.
So the doctor is adopting a wait and see approach for now, and hopefully it will all settle down on its on. The lymph nodes around her kidneys and tummy are up and sore, so they could be causing the pain or be as a result of an infection in her body.
Meanwhile, Mummy is playing nurse and dosing her up with TLC. She's set up a day bed on the couch with Lucy dog and has watched Turbo on rotation. The joys of single parenting.
As for my breast lump scare, I was recalled for an examination, which I'd been warned was on the cards.
We did find a lump on my other side as well, and I'll be having an ultrasound the next time I'm in Brisbane, Toowoomba or on the Sunshine Coast.
We're pretty sure everything is fine, but it's just a reminder to stay in tune with your body and get anything checked out. Especially if you live in the country and have to travel to get tests done!
I've been entertained by a string of tradies coming and going - everything in this house seems to break down at once - and of course, Wine And Food In The Park, which I'll blog about another time. (oops, another cheat day!)
Stay tuned for the next update on my health cleanse. Readers, have you ever been on a health and fitness program and been tempted to cheat?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Not Another Valentine's Day ...

So apparently, March 14 is Steak And Blowjob Day.
I know this because a few men around me have thought it prudent that women be aware of this information. Because, you know, they are thoughtful like that.
The idea is that men are so wonderful, extravagant, and amazing at spoiling their partners on Valentine's Day, that exactly one month later it's time for their other halves to reciprocate.
With Steak. And a Blowjob. (I wonder if there is a vegetarian alternative).
There's an official web page and everything, including Facebook and twitter games, instructions on how to cook steak, and tuition on how to erm, get down with this special day of the year.
Not convinced that men deserve a day of their own, a woman called Ms Naughty has come up with her own idea for Cake and Cunnilingus Day.
That's a day devoted to female pleasure and it's set for April 14.
Look out!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wine in half the time ...

Whenever I ask people how parenthood has changed them, there seems to be a common theme: alcohol.
"We drink a lot more alcohol these days," one Dad joked. "I spend half the day wondering if it's wine o'clock yet," said a Mum. "We get a lot less sleep and drink a lot more wine," was the general consensus from others.
I'm not sure how parenthood and wine goes hand in hand (cough), but perhaps that was the reason
the nice people at Wine Selectors sent me a mixed case of six wines to taste and review.
I'm always health conscious and unfortunately it arrived in the middle of an Isagenix health and cleanse program. 
But it was exciting to receive my parcel of goodies all the same time, and I wasted no time in checking out what was included.

Inside the box, were three tempting bottles of red wine and another three of white

The all looked delicious and were labels I wouldn't usually choose. In fact, if they are available in the country town where I live, they certainly hadn't jumped out at me. 

I waited until a friend came over one night and we cracked one open. 

I'm usually a white wine girl, so I knew I wouldn't be tempted to break the diet with this one. My friend loves a good red though, and this Rhone-style blend from McLaren Vale got the thumbs-up. I loved that it's from Mc'Laren Vales' Paxton's vineyards which are certified biodynamic. So it's organic and has been made with sustainability in mind. Wine that's good for the environment and the body!

Next time, we tried a white, again from the Paxton fold. The name The Guesser comes from David Paxton's days working in shearing sheds in country Australia, where it's The Guesser's job to sort, clean and class the fleece of each short sheep.
It was a light, slightly fruity drop that went down well on a warm Autumn's evening. And yes, It's organic too!
I love wine with a story, because it means I can act like I'm knowledgeable whilst pouring and tasting. Yeah, I'm a bit of a tosser like that. 
I'm still being 'good' with my diet, so have yet to work my way through the case of six delicious wines. They are being saved for special occasions and/or gifts.
I love that each wine has a special story or meaning and each label is something I wouldn't normally treat myself to.
Because you're buying from Wine Selectors too, you get a massive discount. So you're getting a quality bottle of wine, for a fraction of the cost. And it's delivered straight to your door.  
My box of six (which I was gifted for this review) would normally cost $108 including delivery, but retail for a lot more.
You're not flying blind either - Wine Selectors offer a free Customer Callback service if you'd like advice on any wines or tips on what to buy. 
Even better, you're not locked in to receiving deliveries for months on end once you make an order.
You can order as often or as little as you like, without financial penalties. 
And, as I am finding, every wine is excellent quality. That's because Wine Selectors have a tasting panel of "perceptive personalities and palates' comprising winemakers, international wine show judges, and wine educators." They use Australian Wine Show judging criteria, but more importantly love wine as well, so are in tune with the palates of Aussie wine lovers. 
The other thing I love is that this company works with more than 400 producers throughout Australia, and the products are packed by Endeavour Industries Limited, an organisation which provides employment to people living with disabilities in the community.
So you can feel good about your purchases as well.
There are loads more positives - and hey it's wine - but you can read more about it here.
In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy slowly enjoy sampling my wines from this delightful Australian company. 
I love home delivery, don't you?  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wine And Food In The Park!

When we moved to Kingaroy, a lot of people asked: Why?
As if we were moving to the ends of the earth, to somewhere really horrible.
And it's true, that when I was growing up in the South Burnett, I spent a lot of my time dreaming about living and working in places far, far away. But that's what kids do, right?
The thing is that since we moved here, our lives have been so much better.
Yes, we miss our family and friends in Brisbane. But we see them regularly, at least every school holidays. And there are skype and phone calls in the meantime.
Since moving to the country, we've added to our circle of family and friends. Our lives have become richer, bigger.
At Kingaroy, the same life struggles come at us. But the clear skies, the wide streets, the proximity of family, the growing friendships, make all of that easier.
We still laugh when we get in the car five minutes before an appointment and make it with minutes to spare - pulling up at a parking spot right outside. Or even better, walk there. We just can't believe how easy it all is - and so less stressful.
We're getting used to "the country way" - where people always go that little bit further to make a difference. People are just so nice here!
Yesterday morning, the nice lady at Kingaroy Photo Lab tried to charge my camera for free! I'd gone in asking for a charger, because I've misplaced mine, and don't have time to turn the place upside down looking for it. But she kindly offered to try to charge it for me before selling me anything. I just think that's lovely. In the end, it didn't work, but it's the thought that counts.
Another day, I'd been rushing around doing errands and perhaps forgetting to drink enough water, and I was a bit shaky. (I have a dodgy thyroid which can do that). The kind lady in the shop was most concerned and wanted to get me a glass of water and let me sit down. No one would have ever noticed in the city. (Trust me: This is a regular occurrence, and yes, I am trying to look after myself better).
From not knowing my neighbours, or worse, having 'unusual' ones, I now have the best neighbours in the world. Neighbours who have become friends. They keep an eye on the place when we are away, help rescue naughty Lucy when she escapes, and are there to let the tradies in when they arrive earlier than planned. Kayla even made my daughter's birthday cheesecake when I came over all queasy at the thought of it!

Homemade birthday cheesecake

Yesterday, a local woman I've never met messaged me to say she was in Toowoomba, and found something on special that I'd mentioned on Facebook that I wanted for my kids (Not sharing here, because the kids don't know they are getting them yet). She said if I still wanted them, she would pick a couple up for me and bring them back. Isn't that kind? So I'll be meeting her today and paying her back.
And although I had imagined life would be quieter in the country, there are always loads of events on in the South Burnett.
This weekend, it's Wine and Food in the park. The region's soil and climate is conducive to wine production - in fact students can even study wine-making at Kingaroy High School. There are many excellent wineries in the South Burnett, and they will be on show tomorrow at Memorial Park.

Dusty Hill Vineyard 

It's generally an annual event, but last year had to be cancelled because of floods. And hey, this year we are in the middle of another drought.

But food, wine, entertainment lovers and kids are expected to be out in force for this laid-back event held at one of the town's main parks. (Kids because there are rides, yummy food, and roving entertainment.)

I love that on the official website, planners advise punters that when they buy a bottle of wine, they will be given plastic glasses to drink it with. And that drinking straight from the bottle is not a good look (my words), and security guards will be on hand to escort people from the venue if they get up to any of those shenanigans. Only in Kingaroy? (Kidding).

So at Wine And Food In The Park you get to meet the winemakers, try the wine, and buy it of course. But there is also other food and drink on tap, plus rides for the kids, roving entertainers, and nine hours of entertainment.

Entry is $15 for over-18s and free for everyone else. 

Image: Wine And Food In The Park

Image: Wine And Food In The Park

The Kingaroy State High School Band will be among the many attractions  

What do you love about your town or city?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Camping it up

So the Man Child underwent a right of passage last week, as he experienced the infamous Archookoora

A camp that has been known to put the fear of God into Kingaroy High School pupils, this rather rustic experience is known for long hikes, cold showers and student-cooked food.

When I mentioned it on Facebook, quite a few of my former high school friends sympathised with my son.

"Bog duty" recalled one, citing she and a girlfriend were made to do it as punishment!

Another female remembered the embarrassment of being shown how to dig holes for amenities by a male teacher. 

"I am still traumatised by that camping experience," she admits.

"That camping trip holds no fond memories for me," said another. "Only the traumatic."

Several friends recall a hellish hike with huge backpacks twice their size, though Chase says that wasn't on the agenda on this camp.

Indeed, these days Archookoora has septic toilets (though Chase hastened to add that they were dirty and smelly), and hot and cold showers. (And he said these were always cold by the time the boys got to use them). I still think they sound spoiled compared to when we had to rough it!

Usually the campers sleep in basic dorms, but spend one night camping in tents overnight. On this camp, sleeping out was optional. Chase slept in his dorm. "What? It was cold outside," he said.

Mind you, my cousin Pam Marquardt recalls that the original campers had to carry everything they needed for the overnight camp out - tents, food and water, and personal gear. 

"Then the tents etc started being taken by ute, so only personal gear was carried," Pam shared. 0 "Eventually even that was seen as too hard, so in the end all the walkers had to carry was their water bottle. The original campers had to light fires and cook all their food from scratch. If they stuffed it up, then they didn't eat. Simple. I seem to recall the more 'modern' campers even had their food prepared back at camp and 'delivered' to them by vehicle. Ah, hardship." 

Indeed, Chase confirmed that last week's tent campers slept nearby and ate the food cooked in the communal kitchen. 

Chase became a 'fruitarian' for the week, claiming his chicken was raw the first night and he didn't trust his fellow students' cooking after that. 

I'm taking all that with a grain of salt. (It may have improved the taste of the chicken too ...)

I'm proud he stuck it out, and got a taste of the hell life I endured experienced as a teenager.

Arrival at Archookoora

The camp

And surrounds

Harmonie enjoyed having Lucy all to herself during 'Chasely-free time'.

Thanks to the teachers for all the hard work keeping our students safe!

Readers did you enjoy school camps?