Monday, August 26, 2013

An open letter to Kevin McCloud

Dear Kevin,

It came to my attention recently that you will be visiting Australia for a little jaunt in the very near future. In fact I found out that you were coming only one day after exclaiming that I will likely have a breakdown while we do a house extension unless you came and visited. Some people would call that simply serendipitous or a mere coincidence, and some would call it an automated email from the ticketing partner. I would like to call it fate.

Kevin, I'd like to extend an invitation to you to visit my home during our building project which will be in full swing when you are in Perth. Yes, Perth! It is the city left off every tour but yet you have chosen to grace us, the most remote capital city in the world, with your presence. You have no idea how many brownie points this just got you. If you come to my house it will earn you actual brownies, too!

Whilst this is just an ordinary suburban house (a bungalow to you UK folk), and not a falling down barn, a repurposed water tank or even a skinny block with zero access other than giant cranes, we are doing some things in keeping with the overarching themes of Grand Designs such as:
  • fancy wall insulation
  • eco glass and flooring
  • solar tubing
  • a vegetable garden and chooks (I will name one Kevin if you like)
  • living on site while it happens  
  • having a baby right in the middle of it all
We respectfully decline to fall pregnant again mid-build though. Is that actually part of the contract the TV station gets people to sign? It is rumoured to be.

If it would help seal the deal I can arrange for:
  • the insulation to be delivered from Belgium
  • the windows to come in the wrong size
  • the budget to blow out to the point where I refuse to actually say the final amount
  • Aussie stereotypes aplenty - I can organize with the local zoo for a Kangaroo and/or Koala to be on site at all times
Know that I am so committed to this that I would also arrange for unseasonal downpours that put us months behind schedule if I could, but alas, my talents do not stretch that far.

So how about it, Kevin? I'll pop the kettle on and whip up those brownies, or if you'd like to come straight after your show I'll open a bottle of plonk and throw some sausages on the barbie.

Yours in anticipation,


Saturday, August 24, 2013

A bump to remember: a preggo photoshoot

A few weeks back, at 37 weeks pregnant, I decided I wanted to have a maternity photoshoot. Nothing quite like deciding at the last minute, right? Considering I was actually "full term" I was super lucky that the photographer recommended to me by a friend was happy to squeeze me in within a few days of my "DO YOU HAVE ANY SPOTS LEFT I'M JUST ABOUT TO POP" email.

OH! If only we knew then what we know now. Hello 40+6 and still a-cookin'.

The photographer, Michelle at Dainty Stills, asked what type of shoot I would like.

"Nothing too cutesie. I don't want to be holding booties. Nothing too butch though, either. I don't want to be holding a rifle or anything." So basically my brief to her was nothing that could land me on the pages of Something plain and simple. 

I just wanted a record of what I looked like pregnant because I don't plan on being up the duff ever again.  But if that record could have nice lighting and a backdrop that doesn't include my wardrobe or the edge of a toilet seat like my selfies do, then that would be tops. 

Aunty Penny was meant to bring her white shirt for me to wear but she forgot. I told her not to worry about it, that I had one of Map Guy's and I would just do my best to rock the whole mens shirt look instead. But that wasn't good enough for Aunty Penny so she dropped in to the shops on the way there and bought me a shirt! We pretended she was my stylist and I was the model which of course meant we left the tags on and returned the shirt after the shoot. I think that means I'm going to fashion hell.

I spent half the time pushing my belly forward to look rounder because it was morning and my bump was one of those small in the morning, massive in the afternoon ones. My core muscles and posture would give out by around lunch time and all of a sudden I'd look a hell of a lot more pregnant than I did a few hours earlier. I certainly don't have to do that now. Now it is just ALL BELLEH, ALL THE TIME. With a waddle to match. Like a big ol' pregnant duck. Quack.
Note the pristine white shirt, worn for 4 minutes then returned.
Tricks was being entertained by Aunty Penny and refused to be part of the shoot. The closest he got was playing cars in the same room, but the second Michelle would turn the camera toward him, he would go shy and run off. To the point where he decided he'd like to play in Michelle's bathroom. As you do.

Despite Michelle being awesome with him and really used to working with kids, no amount of sweet talking was working. He was having a shy day and didn't want anything to do with it.

"You can bring the truck with you. I'm sure a truck would look OK in the photo." -No.

"You can sit on Mum's lap." -No.

"You don't have to smile. You could just give Mum a cuddle." -No.

"You don't have to even look at the camera. Maybe just give Bobbin a kiss?" -No.

I decided to pull out the big guns.

"I'll take you to McDonald's after for a burger!" -Still no. Shit. We resigned ourselves to the fact that this would be a solo photoshoot.

It wasn't until right at the end, after Michelle had put down the camera (of course!) that he ran in, without any warning, and started kissing my belly. Frantically Michelle is lunging for the camera, I'm trying to get him to do it again, Aunty Penny is calling out encouragement, saying what a good boy he is, and he is moving around constantly like a fart in a bottle while Michelle is snapping away hoping for the best.

I am so, so pleased that we got a few that were usable. And I even really like that I'm cracking up laughing in the one on the right - where it kinda looks like I won't let him go because, err, I wouldn't let him go. True to form, after about thirty seconds he ran off and refused to come back. Then started asking for his burger.

I feel incredibly vain for having these done but at the same time I know I would regret it if I didn't do it. I'm couldn't be happier with how they turned out. Proper photos of me and my almost two kids.

Next stop, our first family of four shoot... when Bobbin finally decides to arrive!

Did you get maternity photos taken?

Friday, August 23, 2013

And then I nearly got run over. By my own car.

I'd like you to picture this as you read it. Try really hard. It makes it so much better if you remember the convex nature of my belly.

The other day I was trying to enrol Tricky in kindy for next year (wait, what? He can't be old enough for that yet?) but the school we wanted him to go to, because he's been attending the pre-kindy program there since the beginning of the year, let us know via a lovely "too bad, so sad, ask again next year" letter that they didn't have a spot for him. Damn you, catchment areas. I shake my fist at you.

Being a waddling 40+1 weeks pregnant I thought I better get off my ass and find somewhere else before Bobbin arrives and takes up so much of my days that I only remember to call the school after everyone has left for the day.

I got all the way to the school and got Tricks out of the car before realizing I'd left his birth certificate at home. I didn't think a blog post saying when he had been born would count and I wanted it done yesterday so I clipped the boy back in and headed home again. Confused the kid a bit but no big deal.

There is a reason I'm telling you this boring back story. I need you to realize just how poorly my synapses are firing right now. Let's continue.

At home I got out of the car and decided that since I was only going to be two seconds (his birth certificate was just inside the front door in the don't-forget-to-take-this-spot) that I'd leave Tricky in the car in the driveway. I turned the car off and took the keys with me, blipping them to lock the doors as I stepped away.

In my post-dates preggo brain I forgot to put the handbrake on. And to put it in park. Clever, huh?

I got to the front of the passenger side, a whole six steps away, when the car started to roll backwards towards the road. Shit. With Tricky strapped in the back. FUCK.

I ran. As everybody knows, running is a skill I do not normally possess. But I ran. Do you know how quickly cars can roll? Bloody quick. It was going faster than I usually back out of the driveway.

I fumbled the keys out my pocket as the car gained momentum, desperately trying to unlock the door. The locks popped up and I swung the door open.

Now I was running backwards. The car was picking up speed and was forcing me back faster than I could go. I couldn't keep up and I kept slipping, grazing the tops of my feet on the concrete and banging against the open door as I stumbled. 2.1 tonnes of steel pushing me relentlessly.

If I fell, the car would have run over my arm and shoulder. Because of the angle I was at, maybe my head. Though brain activity wise, I'm not sure if anyone would have noticed the difference.

But all I could think about was how scared Tricky would be if the car smashed in to the car and house across the street.

I lunged my feet toward the peddle and missed, twisting my leg around in the hip socket (the hip that had been giving me grief but was getting so much better in the last few weeks). Another two blind backsteps being pushed by the weight of the car and I lunged again. I hit the brake peddle enough to jolt the car and wipe some of the momentum off just as it was heading up the driveway across the street, heading for the neighbour's car and house.

I jumped in and slammed my foot on the brake. We stopped. In the neighbours driveway. A metre or so away from their car. We hadn't hit anything. If a car had been coming up the street I don't know what would have happened. The whole thing had taken less than ten seconds. 

My body was shaking and I turned to Tricks who looked wide eyed in his car seat, "Are you OK?!". His lip quivered slightly then he said "I was only a little bit scared".

Tears pricked at my eyes, "Mum was too, mate. But we're OK now."

"I could give you a hug if you want, Mum?"

Yep. That started the tears.

Thanks to this adventure I have had a mean limp for two days, a couple of gnarly purple bruises on my arms and legs (a massive one on my ego), some grazes on my feet and one broken fingernail. Could have been worse.

Bet I'll never, ever, ever leave it off again. Ever. 

Ever left the handbrake off? Felt as much of a dick as I do right now?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Onesie: Woesie or Winsie?

This is a S1 post
For full details please see my disclosure policy

It is no secret that I am staunchly anti-onesie.

In fact earlier this month after seeing no less than six different people in my feed in twenty minutes bang on about onesies and cat ears I may have snapped.

I would go so far as to propose laws that prohibit adults from wearing clothes designed for infants. It is entirely too creepy for me in the same way as an adult rocking up to a party wearing only a nappy, just because some people on Twitter said they were “in”, would.

Every second person tells me they are so comfortable, that I'm missing out. They say that about CROCS too, people! I will not be fooled!

Now, I’m no fashionista, and I most certainly have committed many a fashion crime in my day (hello fluoro overalls over hypercolour t-shirt circa 1992). I’ve also been known to completely eat my own words before – I went from being against wearing skinny jeans for fear I’d look like a whale to being a devotee because OMG MY ANKLES LOOK AMAZING. Did I really just say that? Kill me.

So is there something that could get me to wear a onesie? Maybe for charity? Or to win a prize? I once sang a retail store jingle in the middle of a crowded movie theatre to win a vacuum cleaner, so it is pretty obvious I’m willing to stoop to a somewhat low level to win something cool.

Winning $250 to spend at IGA would totally count as something cool. I would buy $250 of Brie and Camembert cheese and have it on standby. Now I don’t know if I could bring myself to wear a onesie but I could go and stick my head through a cardboard cutout that made it look like I was wearing one which is what the folk at IGA are asking. So technically no fashion crime would occur. HUZZAH for loopholes! I'm totally gonna do it.

Perth Peeps, head down to your local IGA, find the onesie and have your photo taken with it and upload it to either Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #IGAonesie. If you wear a onesie while you do it, you may create an infinite loop, so BE CAREFUL! You may also make me roll my eyes... or if you look awesome, I may just eat my own words. Again. Skinny jean onesie, anyone?

Are you for or against the onesie?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oh, Facebook, you shit me to tears

I'm all for rules, terms, conditions, guidelines, what have you, but if you pick and choose when they apply rather than have a blanket approach, well that is when I get a bit picky.

Once again, Facebook is doing my head in.

Now before you go screaming that it is a free service and I should just shut up, I'm talking about a paid section of the 'book. Boosting and advertising.

Recently I was asked to promote a Facebook competition for the online maternity and breastfeeding store, Milk and Love. Coincidentally only a week or two earlier I had been looking at their store and drooling over the waterfall cardigan, so I was all "YA HUH! I LOVE YOUR CARDIGANS! I'LL DO IT!".

The lovely Corryn, who had just given birth about two seconds earlier and is trying to run a business with a newborn permanently attached to her, kindly sent me my drooled-after cardi along with the image to promote with her target demographic for me to "boost" to. There was never going to be a blog post, or Instagram, orTweet, just one Facebook post with a paid boost (paid to Facebook).

Within minutes of putting it up, we hit a snag. I got notification that my boost had been rejected because:

"it violates Facebook's Ad Guidelines by using profanity or addressing the age, gender, physical condition, or sexual orientation of users on Facebook."

I am a potty mouth from way back. So what horrid profanity had I used? Boobs. BOOBS! 

In the context that I said I was about to re-learn breastfeeding which sometimes means boobs everywhere and that I liked the idea of a stylish way to cover up until I got the hang of it again. 

Seriously, it is nipples akimbo in those first few weeks for me! 

Are you kidding me?! How is the word "boobs" a profanity when there are 1000+ pages on Facebook with boobs in the title? The counter stops at 1000, so for all I know there are hundreds of thousands. You can have a so-called profanity as your page name but not in the text of an ad?! What?!

Let's also see that the cover picture for all of the pages that come up on the front page of the search have more boob than you'll ever see breastfeeding, and the top result shows areola and a few show nipple through a sheer/wet top. But let's call the cops because I said boob and had three fully dressed women in a picture.

I resubmitted the ad, with the wording slightly changed (sans boobs) and the boost was rejected AGAIN, this time for having more than 20% of the space as text. They measure 20% VERY differently to any other company I've ever met, but that is a different story.

For the record, when I queried both rejections Facebook would only talk to me about the 20% and ignored my request for information on the rejection of the word "boobs". Thanks for that.

So I find myself in the awkward position of not being able to promote the post in the way I agreed I would for a company that I like, run by a woman who right now can't just drop everything to change a graphic. The more pressing issue of changing newborn nappies and feeding and trying to get a wink of sleep trumps all that.

Instead, I'll promote it here:

If you're in the market for some awesome maternity and breastfeeding threads from an Australian online store, head over to Milk and Love (and enter the competition through their Facebook page). When you're there you can also ask questions of Katie, a midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or check out the blog posts and breastfeeding FAQs. Much more than just an online shop.

You go do that while I rage away at the way "boobs" are allowed on Facebook when they are for perving at, but when I try to even use the word in a breastfeeding sense and PAY for it, I get in trouble.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Five Minute Fudge

two ingredient fudge

Just when you didn't think fudge could get any easier than taking five minutes to make, I'm going to tell you it is two ingredient fudge. Commence drooling now.

This fudge comes firmly under the "I was being really healthy and then all of a sudden OMG GIVE ME FUDGE I'M PREGNANT" category. It is in no way healthy and should not be consumed in a single sitting (as I would quite like to do right now) lest you lapse in to a diabetic coma.

I don't eat too much sugar these days so any more than one piece of this gives me a major headache. But when you're the size of a house, ready to pop and so over being pregnant, well, part of me thinks that headache is worth it. I know, a health advocate I will never be.

  • 1 x 395g can of condensed milk
  • 2 x blocks of chocolate (between 180-200g per block is fine)
  • Anything you want to add to it to make it pretty or yummy
  • Grease and line a lamington tray - you absolutely have to do this first
  • Break up the chocolate and melt it using a double boiler - or a microwave if you just can't be bothered
  • Add the condensed milk and stir quickly until well combined - it will be thick and start setting immediately so use a strong spoon 
  • If you're adding any extras, do it now, lickety split
  • Quickly pour the fudge in to your tray and spread it out evenly - if you've been quick enough the clock should be ticking over to five minutes right now
  • Chuck it in the fridge for about two hours
  • Do something to take your mind off the delicious melty fudge that is teasing you
  • When chilled, cut in to squares and try not to eat it all
I used white chocolate this time but it works just as well with milk or dark. Mini M&Ms make awesome extras but so do any small candy type things and nuts, especially macadamias. If you're feeling fancy reserve a small bit of the fudge, tint it another colour and swirl it over the top - if you want supermum status then tint some white fudge green and add some peppermint essence and drizzle it over milk/dark chocolate fudge. Mmmmmmmm choc minty fabulousness!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

You know you're full term when...

Yes, I am still pregnant, thanks for asking.

No, it's not the longest gestation ever, and you implying that it is really starting to get on my nerves. It lost it's comedic charm about two weeks of sleepless nights ago.

The person who has asked me the most is, I believe, rather surprising. My Dad.

"Any movement at the station?" he says. Every. Fucking. Day.

Err, considering you're the one who is going to be looking after Tricky, you're the first person who is going to know when said movement occurs, trust me!

But rather than just whinge all day (whoops, too late), I've decided to just write down a list of ways you know you're full term. And for the uninitiated, full term is anywhere between 37 and 42 weeks. A massive 5 week window of "any time in here" with the official due date smack bang in the middle. Which, for a control freak who hates surprises, is really annoying.

So you know you're full term when:
  • You are getting so little sleep that you're sure you'll get more with a newborn
  • You pee at least five times a night, and during the day you need to go every seven and a half minutes
  • On the way back from the toilet you seriously consider turning back and going again already, just to save time
  • Rolling over in bed requires a system of levers and pulleys
  • You can tell people how pregnant you are not just by week and day, but by countdown to your due date... in nanoseconds
  • You spend half your dedicated online time researching how effective nipple stimulation is as an induction technique
  • You comment on each of your husband's lovingly prepared dinners with "It's nice, but you could have put more chili in it..."
  • Bouncing on a fit ball is your natural state
  • The only thing you drink is raspberry leaf tea
  • One Born Every Minute is on repeat on your TV
  • Rubbing clary sage massage oil in to your belly and whispering "Come on, baby" becomes common place
  • With every twinge you stop and wonder if this is it
  • You need to restock your birth bag because you ate all the mini Mars Bars already
  • You use every single piece of mapping software ever developed to compare routes to the Birth Centre at different times of day
  • You feel like slapping everyone who asks if you've had the baby yet
How did you know you're "full term"?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Because that's a clever thing to do with a newborn in the house!

From what I learned the last time around and from what the powers that be say, when you have a newborn there are certain things you should probably avoid. Dangerous things like rabid animals, hard drugs, death metal concerts, and being around certain relatives.

Then there are the less dangerous but really annoying things you should avoid doing with a newborn. Like moving house, organizing a wedding, and being around certain relatives.

I'd like to add to that list. Renovate and/or extend your house.

So, hey, guess what we're doing?

Yeah. We're renovating and extending the house! Because that is SO clever. And I'm not stressed AT ALL. Unless of course almost bursting in to tears every time you look at the plans is a sign of stress?

This has been on the cards for a long time. The plans were drawn up months ago, the quotes submitted and the builder chosen. We signed on the dotted line (three hundred times, getting writers cramp) and it is now official.

I'm having trouble picturing the finished product in all it's glory. Instead I can hear jackhammers on the other side of the wall just after getting Bobbin to sleep, see myself cleaning up dust only to turn around and find a fresh new layer and envisioning sand being traipsed around from asshole to breakfast every day of the build.

If Kevin McCloud isn't going to drop around and ask about our budget and council approval timeline then I just don't know if I can do it without a few minor breakdowns and really whiney blog posts.

But then I think of the awesome things and all of a sudden there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Things like decorating Tricky and Bobbin's new bedrooms. Choosing a lounge suite to replace to the two broken ones we are currently using. Finding the perfect dining table that doesn't have wonky legs. Having a house bigger than a shoebox where we don't trip over each other. Planting a kitchen garden to replace the weeds of doom, and even getting chooks. I just have to remember to focus on that... and the outside chance of a visit from Kevin, and I'll get through it.

Failing that I'm packing a bag and moving in with my parents for a while.

Have you renovated? With little kids? Gimme ALL TEH ADVICE!

P.S. Kevin if you're reading this, let's talk.


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