Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A boy and his LEGO {giveaway}

This is a C1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

It is no secret that we are huge LEGO fans in this house. It started with the Duplo but whilst Tricky still enjoys it he doesn't find it challenging any more and is definitely out growing it. Meaning the last few presents he's got have all been actual, small, step-on-in-the-middle-of-the-night-at-your-own-peril, LEGO.

The Trickster was lucky enough to receive some LEGO in the mail the other day for review purposes. When he saw the box he was, well, see for yourself:

Doesn't everyone lay on the floor and hug their LEGO?
What I hadn't actually thought about was that I would have to put those suckers together before any such child-review could take place, and do it whilst a super impatient toddler looked on wondering why they didn't come out of the box ready to play with.

Oh crap, what have I gotten myself in to?
I've never actually put a LEGO design together before. I used to play with it a heap when I was little and build all sorts of things, but it was more freestyle and I didn't have any fancy sets that actually became something specific. But it was easier than I thought and required much less swearing under my breath than anticipated while Tricky pointed and said "What's this piece? Where does that one go? Is it ready yet?" over and over and over again.

Tricky was over the moon when it was all put together and the nee-naw nee-naw of police sirens have been heard here ever since. I was kinda chuffed with my LEGO assembling abilities though I was less thrilled when MapGuy came home and pointed out I'd put the steering wheel in the wrong spot - I was following instructions! I don't care if it was left hand drive!!

Chase McCain on the job

The set was so detailed and unfortunately I think a lot of that detail will just end up being sucked up the vacuum cleaner because a walkie-talkie just looks like fluff when I'm standing up. The one thing I didn't like about the set was the spike strip - although it was hilarious in it's attention to detail, it doesn't do anything else and Tricky just pulled it apart immediately and it's already lost (I'll vacuum tomorrow and it will be gone for ever). But I can't blame that on LEGO, he is under the official age range of the product.

I'm all for free play so I think a few sets of just blocks that aren't shaped to make something specific will be on the cards next, but since Tricky is car mad he has no complaints and has the cops chasing the bank robber constantly (I'll spare you the dialogue from when he catches them and sends the robber to his room - it's a cute-to-the-mother-only kinda thing).

Handcuffed and read his rights

I've got three awesome sets of the High Speed Chase (RRP $39.99) from the LEGO City range, featuring the daring and oh-so-suave, hero cop, Chase McCain. I bet all the LEGO girls swoon over his plastic hair and drawn on chin dimple. I'm kinda taken with the bad guy's mo' to be honest.

To enter click here to go to the Facebook entry page. If you're not on the 'Book (and I really can't blame you), enter via comment below telling me your favourite LEGO memory. 

For full terms and conditions see here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pregnancy, Pain and Pilates

This is a C2 post
For full details see my disclosure policy

Exercise and I do not mix. Unless you count walking on a completely flat surface at a leisurely pace, my body does not like to move and I end up in so much pain that I can't get out of bed for a few days. The only vigorous activity you will see me doing is dancing with much help from alcohol and shed load of pain killers to numb me to my eyeballs. Because sometimes even I need to let my hair down. Healthy, huh?

I've struggled with chronic pain since I was little. I was shipped around to all sorts of doctors and specialists, my favourite of which said it was all in my head and I need a psychiatrist immediately. To which I replied, of COURSE I need a fucking psychiatrist, but that is actually a separate matter to the whole can't move my legs thing. The two are related (I get sore, it's depressing, duh) but they are not mutually exclusive.

So for donkey's years I've been through all sorts of treatments including major opioids, mindfulness training, orthotics, you name it, and nothing has helped. Well, OK, the drugs definitely helped, but they screwed with me a lot and I quite like the ability to digest food so I had to stop taking them. I had given up. This was just how I was.
Then Jacqui Gilmour from Queens Road Physiotherapy offered me a rehabilitative physio pilates session. Other than it being a mouthful I thought "well it can't hurt to try" and then laughed my ass off because yes, yes it can hurt to try if you're me. But I went along anyway.

Jacqui offers pilates for chronic pain, lower back pain and the like, but also specifically for women's health: think pilates for pelvic floor, pregnancy, incontinence, prolapse and all those fabulous things that sometimes come after carrying a watermelon in your uterus for nine months. 

She watched me walk, asked me a few questions, prodded me (gently) then proceeded to tell me where I hurt... and WHY. How many bloody years have I been asking these questions and in a matter of minutes she had answered them.

Turns out I don't activate my muscles correctly - I use the wrong ones to do certain movements so they're having a serious marathon workout every time I take a step and other muscles just aren't working and are wasting away, getting weaker and weaker (meaning the other muscles have to do even more work to make up for it). It's a vicious cycle... but it can be corrected.

I got on "The Reformer" and after singing Reformer to the tune of Informer a few times I started figuring out how to use the muscles that don't want to move... and... I DIDN'T DIE!! Although I nearly wet myself laughing when Jacqui kept telling me to "Spread your butt! Relax it! Relaxed bum!" - so maybe I should see her for some pelvic floor work too. 

I left feeling elated and then promptly burst in to tears. Could this be the answer that has eluded me for over half of my life? Could this lead to a reduction in pain? And if so, why the fuck hadn't any of these specialists over the years told me to do it? They just repeated their stock standard response of "try water aerobics" despite me letting them know that anything in water hurts twice as much. There was only one way to find out: keep going back.

I've been back weekly for sessions (that I pay for) and do a lot of "homework" on a giant rolling pin thing and what looks suspiciously like a dog toy (I'm assured they're actually pilates equipment) and I have had LESS PAIN! HALLE-FREKAIN'-LUJAH!

Because I have private health cover that pays for some of it, the sessions are costing me less than $30. I will keep going back in the hope that the pain reduction continues and that it stops my hip separating like it did when I was preggers with Tricky so I don't have to have my ass taped again.
Have you tried pilates for an injury or pain condition? Did you cry like me?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shakin' My Beauty Booty

Did you notice my new side bar bling? That little image over there that says "I write at The Shake"?

I know, I'm as shocked as you are that I'm over there with all those absolutely fabulous women, and to be honest, more than a little intimidated. But you know what? I'm so freakin' excited about it. My first article, The Top 5 Lies Your Beauty Therapist Tells You, went up the other day and I think a few beauty therapists might be a bit pissed at me for it.

{I might also write non-beauty stuff for The Shake when I'm a bit ranty. Case in point: Other Peoples' Kids}

I'll be writing over there once a fortnight or so about all things beauty and make up. Yeah, slightly different to my normal shits and giggles. So what gives me the "authority" to write about all the fancy beauty shiz? Well, lemme tell you a story... fair warning, it involves me showing off a bit:

In 2005 I was sitting on my mentally ill, obese, disability pension-receiving arse with Map Guy by my side wondering what the fuck I was doing with my life. Despite loving it, I didn't feel like going back to uni to complete my degree that I had put on hold a few years earlier - I wanted to do something completely different and having always been interested in beauty therapy and seeing that there was an open day at the campus down the road I decided to go and have a look.

Map Guy came with me, we got the official tour and were told about the course. The facilitator mentioned a student of the year award and I decided, on the spot, that I would put all my efforts in to this. I turned to Map Guy and said "I'm going to win that award". He smiled at me, squeezed my hand and replied with full confidence, "I know".

Fast forward twelve months and I was being presented with the 2006 Student of the Year award, receiving a scholarship to attend the International Dermal Institute, being nominated for WA Vocational Student of the Year and being head hunted and employed by a top salon (who would approach the top student every year from our campus).

And I have to say, I was so, SO freakin' proud of myself to go from relying on a disability pension to student of the year to sought after employee in the space of twelve months. I went on to complete my diploma and in the following years worked as a beauty therapist and makeup artist for thousands of clients (read: saw a hell of a lot of labias).

So there you have it. I know what the big words on the back of a bottle of moisturizer mean though I can't always pronounce them. I know what effect they have on the skin. I know a few tips and tricks to either achieve or fake your own Glow and that the absolute best thing you can do for your skin is to wear an SPF 30 sunscreen when the UV Index hits 3 or higher (and reapply it!).

Now that I've successfully shown off, tell me, whaddya wanna know? Any questions I can answer for you over at The Shake?

Monday, February 18, 2013

An interview (and *ahem* art critique) with illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger

Last week I had the honour of meeting, for the second time, one of the world’s most acclaimed artists, Lisbeth Zwerger. I don’t have much of a memory of our first meeting as I was about five and only really interested in the fact that she gave me a present – a copy of The Nutcracker… that she had illustrated! The perks of having an illustrator as a friend of the family!

Lisbeth has been illustrating the Classics, like Grimm & Andersen fairy tales, for over 30 years and has won multiple awards including the coveted Hans Christian Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award and is currently nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lingren Award - it’s like the Oscar of the childrens’ literature scene.

She’s in Perth on a whirlwind holiday after attending the opening of her latest exhibition in Taiwan where she shook hands with hundreds of devoted fans and signed all their books, no doubt getting a serious case of “autograph-signers-cramp”. And if you’re going to suffer from that, best you do it in a Louis Vuitton store, no? Makes the pain go away much quicker.

I had the opportunity for a tongue-in-cheek interview with Lisbeth, and considering she’s famous and used to actual reporters interviewing her, I was most impressed that she agreed… particularly since it actually just turned in to a bit of a chat since my interview skills are null and void.

Clockwise from top: Image from The Little Mermaid, Lisbeth trying not to laugh at my art, signing the giveaway book,
a selection of Lisbeth's books, the giveaway book, the Louis Vuitton store signing, signature inside the book,
We laughed about how her favourite thing to draw when she was little was princesses so it was only fitting she go on to illustrate books with princesses, goblins and giants and whatnot. Shows extreme dedication to all things magical, I think!

I asked her advice about keeping Tricky’s “works of art” since I will have them coming out of my ears soon. With a sage nod she suggested relying heavily on the grandparents and their fridge. Clever woman indeed! Sadly not many of her early drawings survived, I suppose because every parent thinks their child is super talented but you don’t actually envision them becoming an uber famous artist! Plus eBay didn’t exist then.

On words of wisdom for up and coming illustrators, she had this recommendation: “Believe in yourself but stay self critical”.

But it was time to get on to the serious business of getting my own “illustration” (and I use that term really loosely) critiqued, after a suggestion from Blundermum. I handed my art work over and, bless her, she tried her hardest not to laugh.

I'm gonna put this on eBay "as critiqued by Lisbeth Zwerger"!
Lisbeth described my work as bold and purposeful, with no hesitation in the strokes, and abstract, yet understandable. I think I’m going to use that as my new tag line, it’s the best thing anyone has ever said about me!

Lisbeth is currently working on “Leonce and Lena” to help celebrate author Georg Buechner’s 200th birthday (happy birthday, dude), and her works are available for purchase at www.minedition.com, www.amazon.com or childscapes.com/bookpages/zwerger.html or through your favourite book shop. Signed prints are available through www.minedition.com and www.illustrationcupboard.com.

Lisbeth has kindly donated a signed copy of her award winning book “Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales” for one lucky reader to win.

To enter, use the form below to tell me your favourite story when you were growing up or the one you love reading to your children now.

*For full terms and conditions please see here
*This is not sponsored in any way, Lisbeth is a friend of the family and on hearing from my aunty that I had a blog, decided that it might be fun to be on it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to survive the first day of day care

Your sweet child is starting day care. None of this half day, play date, introduction bullshit. The actual real deal where you leave. For hours. What do you do? How do you cope?

Well, luckily for you I've put together this handy step by step guide on how to get through the day. You're welcome.

It's all about being prepared.
  1. In the week leading up to day care, make sure to mention how much of an awesome time the child had the previous week. Try a sing-song voice, use jazz hands and interpretive dance to convey just how amazing it really is.
  2. Run around like a man/woman possessed at 11:48pm the night before because you have only just remembered you need to label the thirty pairs of shorts and jocks you're sending along with your newly toilet trained toddler.
  3. Act like a clown on crack on the morning of the big day. Happy, happy, joy, joy and all that shit. This is going to be The Best Day Ever!
  4. When you arrive and the kid starts whingeing that they no longer want to go, despite having jumped for joy at the prospect mere moments ago, forge on in. Skip if you must.
  5. Take the obligatory "first day photo". Wonder when your kid got so freakin' big.
  6. Promise you'll be back, promise extra big cuddles, a trip to Disneyland, whatever it takes to make your spawn put away his quivering bottom lip. No matter what, KEEP IT TOGETHER!
  7. Follow the lead of the carer who suggests your child wave over the fence as you drive off. Bolt to the car and burst in to floods of tears. Drive off tooting and waving like a maniac.
  8. Come home and lay on the couch feeling like the worst parent ever despite the fact that this is going to be really good for the boy.
  9. Do ALL THE HOUSEWORK. Make a mess preparing a massive casserole, drop some on the floor and pick it up and eat it - the floor is cleaner than an operating room right now so might as well.
  10. Watch the clock. Wonder how soon is too soon to call and check.
  11. Have a cup of tea. Marvel at how it tastes so different when consumed hot.
  12. Call the day care centre. Fret when it goes to message bank four times. Finally get through and hear that your spawn has been whingeing a little bit for mum but not crying and easily distracted with ALL THE TOYS. On hearing that he is asleep at noon, feel sure that they must have drugged him.
  13. Watch the clock some more. Clean some more. Put music on with swear words just because you can.
  14. Cave in and pick up the kid half an hour earlier than you said you would. Find him sitting with his peers eating afternoon tea.
  15. When he sees you and his lip quivers and he flops in to your arms with an "oh you DID come back" sigh, burst in to tears in front of the staff. They've seen it all before and will just ignore it but the other toddlers might think you're weird though... it's best they learn now anyway.
  16. When your child hands you their first piece of "day care art" feel immensely proud despite the fact that it is just a box with red paint slopped all over it. Proceed to get teary again like the giant sap you are. Then feel a bit weird and wonder how long you actually have to keep it for.
  17. Listen to him describe how he called "Mum! Mum!" as you drove off tooting the horn. Die a little bit inside.
  18. Go home and give your kid an icecream and ask him if he wants to go back to day care next week. When he asks "Will you come back?" cry floods of tears again and promise that you will always, always come back for him no matter what.
I'm promised it gets easier. It better.

Were you a wreck on the first day of day care? Exactly how long do I have to keep the art work for?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Can morning sickness be glamorous?

It's no secret that I have been insanely sick this pregnancy. I've complained about it enough that I think most of the developed world has heard my whingeing. I had mild morning sickness when I was with child last time and managed to throw up three times, all whilst driving because I'm classy like that.

This time around though I've been heaving my guts up all freakin' day long. And all bloody night, too - I have a weird internal clock that has me waking up to spew at midnight at least three times a week.

My old tag line when I created this blog used to be "unbrushed hair, bags under the eyes and the faint scent of baby spew". If you remove the word baby, I'm right fucking back where I started! The result of all this, other than my long lost collar bones making an appearance, is that I look haggard.

So, because the whole Glow thing is quite obviously avoiding me yet again, I thought I'd ask the question... can constant puking  be made a little more, well, glamorous? And I figured for my experiment that accessorizing was the way to go:

I covered my spew bag with stick on diamontes because you can never have enough bling. I found this perfect for a night out, particularly when I matched the diamontes specifically to to my earrings and necklace. No need to keep this little baby tucked away in your handbag, when it looks this good, spew bags on the table at all times!

Considering that standing up in a shower makes me feel like I'm about the faint, the ol' hair is looking a tad neglected. In the morning it's scraped up in to a bun and by afternoon half of it's fallen out and I can't be arsed putting it back. So I whipped out a headband - but not just any headband, one with a giant flower on it. I took my cue for this from the massive range of maternity wear that has frills and shit on it - because apparently a preggo belly isn't feminine enough without prissy bows and bloody flowers.

If you have to suck back on Maxolon or some other anti-nausea tablet every five hours then you have to have them with you at all times. Now a blister pack just isn't on trend, is it? I have chucked mine (pun intended) in to my faux leather purse and Wonder Woman tin which may or may not still smell slightly of tobacco leaves from when I was a smoker. If your tin still smells of tobacco, I suggest you wash it thoroughly less you vomit every time you open it from the arsey scent of stale five year old leaves.

So after all this *ahem* highly scientific research, I can safely tell you that no amount of bling, flowers or funky pill holders will make morning sickness glamorous... but fuck me, a blingin' spew bag gets so much attention!

Gimme your morning sickness cures. Anyone who says give birth gets a high five in the face with a chair.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Oh gawd not another fucking blog post about monetization and disclosure?! Yes, yes it is.

I choose to monetize this blog. Whether you choose to do it to yours or not, or read sponsored posts is as of much concern to me as which footy team you support. Each to their own, and all that shebang, unless it's the West Coast Eagles in which case EWW (aaand I just lost half my WA readers).

There has been a lot of discussion on disclosure lately and I had thought I'd always been up front about it. Turns out, not everyone thought so. I would always put right at the top of a post if it was sponsored, and for me sponsored meant money had changed hands and usually, but not always, the client had requested copy for review before publishing, normally to make sure delicate little me hadn't said fuck too many times.

I have always put a disclosure down the bottom when I'd received something for free and it always meant that there no money was paid, there was no copy sent for approval and sometimes even no obligation to blog. It might seem weird but sometimes companies will send you fabulous things or to amazing events just hoping you'll love it enough to write about it. I pinch myself when I think I've been sent interstate twice (once to Sydney and once to Radelaide) by companies who included a "no obligation to blog" in their invites.

It was "the way" to do it, recommended to me by other Bloggers and at conferences. So I did it and thought nothing more of it.

I find it annoying when I read all the way through a post only to find out at the bottom that the writer was paid cold hard cash... what I hadn't realized was that some people find it equally annoying getting to the bottom and finding out that there was a freebie involved. I've never found it an issue, but I can understand that some would so I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to change.

So where do we draw the line? Does a packet of $3.50 bandaids require a disclosure? Is it only on posts that have to be approved by a PR consultant before pressing the giant publish button? Are the rules different for blogs with a few hundred readers a month versus a few hundred thousand readers a month? Is it OK to not disclose if you don't monetize but take on unpaid reviews? What are the rules?

Well, there are no rules. Not yet, anyway. I will sing a long and grateful tune, complete with interpretive dance and spirit fingers when disclosure laws for new media are passed and we are all on the same page. But for now, I will disclose everything up the top. EVERYTHING. Which is more than magazines do, more than TV shows do - and they're getting a shed load more cash, I don't earn enough money from this blog for it to be considered anything more than a hobby by the ATO (yep, I've had long chats with them - they kinda laughed at me for wanting to declare the pocket money I make on here).

Short of writing a freakin' novel on top of every post, I've come up with my own blog disclosure policy and after sharing it around for opinions and having a few Bloggers come back to me asking I'd mind if they do something similar (I don't mind, go for it), I think I'm on to a good thing... but it could always be improved.

What hasn't changed, and will never change, is that it is always my honest opinion. These "post codes" (geddit?) will appear on all posts where I received anything at all: a product, a launch invite, money or vouchers - even product I don't actually get to keep. There are times when I receive nothing... so looks like I need to update it already.

So tell me, whaddya think? What have I missed? 

Monday, February 4, 2013

We came, we shopped, we conquered!

This is a “Compensated (C1) Post”
for full details see my disclosure statement.

I’m quite partial to four letter words, my favourite of which is SALE. I’m sorry, were you expecting profanities? When in the John Hurt Way, throw another four letter word in the mix and you’ll have me frothing at the mouth. BABY SALE. Sadly, not a place where you can just pick up a bargain baby Angelina Jolie style, but where you can grab some specials and, in my case, show your second born that they are worthy enough to have at least one or two new things.

Now it’s not unusual for a company to offer vouchers to spend at a sale, but what is unusual is when they ask you to invite along some friends so that you can all become ooh-la-la-ladies who lunch and then give you all vouchers so you can shop til you drop! Which is exactly what Big W offered us… it was a tough assignment, but somebody had to do it and I’m quite obviously not above buying the affections of my friends.

We could have gone out to a fancy restaurant for lunch but the idea of four adults (one of which *coughmecough* is constantly vomiting) and seven children aged two and under going to a restaurant put the fear of the Google Gods in to me. Instead we had an awesome catered lunch at home where the kids could run riot (under the watchful eyes of my parents and Aunty Penny) and the mamas could whip out the iPads and start our bargain hunting using the Big W app. Plus it meant we could have chips without other people going “you came to a restaurant and you ordered CHIPS?!”.

Chips go really well with research
Our shopping exhibition was broken up in to manageable chunks thanks to the afore mentioned seven children and queasy woman, too. So we didn’t really stick to the plan (you try sticking to a plan with four toddlers and three babies), but we did all go out to our local store in the next few days and nab our goodies from the overflowing shelves. That stuck out to all of us more than anything, that there was actually stock! I’m so tired of giant fortnight long sales where a store seems to have only three items left on day one. There was stock galore that was, shock horror, actually being refilled as items were taken. Praise grilled cheesus, someone gets it!!
We make some totally cute kids
Being ever practical, Louise grabbed nappies, formula, wipes and a portacot; Trish snapped up a new pram, nappies and a toilet step; Kath grabbed some clothes, nappies, wipes and sippy cups; and I got my hands on a toilet step, some jumpsuits and toys for 2.0, a Belly Belt for me - which I'm totally claiming is actually for 2.0 now and therefore still counts as "for baby" - and Tricky’s entire winter wardrobe. When you’re not buying nappies it means a hell of a lot more cute clothes – The Trickster is gonna be lookin’ super funky. Between us we had enough goodies to melt our plastic gift cards, lemme tell you!

In store shenanigans
The only real complaint about the experience was from Trish… who needed two trolleys and an extra pair of hands to grab everything. It’s a bit of a first world problem, so I think we’ll let that one slide.

We had a great meal, no children were lost or injured (though Tricky did bolt out the front door at one stage – of course it was my child, of COURSE!), no one threw up in public, we got our hands on some fabulous bargains and my friends now think the life of a Blogger is very glam (she types at 1:00am).

If you want to get your hands on some discounted goodies, head to the Big W Baby and Toddler event which runs from January 31 – February 13.

Do you want some moolah to the tune of $100 to spend while you’re there? There are two ways to enter, by filling out the entry form below and/or head over to the 'book.

Alternatively head on over to www.bigw.com.au and use the promo code BABY10 to receive a $10 eVoucher for your online purchases (valid to 31st of March 2013, no minimum spend, but doesn't count towards postage).

EDIT 11th Feb 1:00pm AWST:  The eVoucher has been suspended due to improper use by a third party website. Big W extends it apologies to you all and thanks you for your understanding.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Facebook Friend Conundrum

Over the years I've been on Facebook I've had my fair share of profile pictures.

When Tricks was born I put a photo of him up for the first two weeks so people could see that the little dude had arrived. Then I did it again during his first Christmas for a couple of days and again for a week when I photoshopped a microphone in to his hand and made him a rock star baby. Because, hello, everyone needs to see my mad photoshopping skills and our true blue, bogan roots.

I love youse all!

I have a little bit of an issue with people just putting their kids as their profile picture all the damn time. I want to scream at them "YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR CHILDREN! DON'T LOSE YOUR IDENTITY" but getting all capslock cranky on someone's picture is deemed inappropriate and sure as shit will lead to an instant defriending.

I know, I know, your kid is adorable but c'mon, you are still a person ya know? Your definition is more than just mother/father.

Now despite this, honestly I couldn't really care less if you use your kid as your pic, do whatever floats your boat... unless of course you send me a friend invite and I have no freaking clue who you are, we have no mutual friends and any time we've had anything to do with each other you only referred to yourself by your relatively common first name. Who the hell are you? Help me out here!

And just so we're clear I'm not a child-hating "get your baby off Facebook" person, I think the same thing if your picture is a pet. Or a motorbike. Or an *insert other inanimate object here*.

So Christina Smith*, if you're reading this... I have no idea who you are. I'm sure you're lovely, but from your closed profile all I can tell is that you are a rather cute two year old boy with dimples that will break hearts one day. If by chance you're reading this, gimme a heads up, OK?

*Not her real name. Which totally doesn't help if she is reading this. Also, I'm very good at making up false names - Smith! Original!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...