July 30, 2012

Music for Monday

For the next two weeks we'll be glued to our TV screens watching sporting teams do battle at the London Olympics. And if you're like me, probably cringing at the standard of the television commentary, haphazard as it is (Eddie McGuire, I'm looking at YOU). But for the athletes, four years of hard slog and sacrifice have all led up to this moment. Can you imagine what they're feeling right now?

Just making the Olympic team is a feat in itself! I'm impressed by their dedication and endurance to get that far, the early mornings, the lack of social life, the continual hard graft against the clock. Anyone who does that willingly has my respect, let me tell you.

So today's musical selection is dedicated to the world's athletes who are giving their all in pursuit of Olympic glory. This song was featured briefly in the opening ceremony which I thought very appropriate. Unlike some of the other choices, but there you go!

"We can be heroes just for one day"

An all-time classic from 1977 - David Bowie and Heroes. Happy Monday, everyone!

July 27, 2012

The National Disability Insurance Scheme

I wanted to share this powerful post with you all today. It's written by Kim from All Consuming and it sums up everything, from the importance of implementing the NDIS to the political posturing that's been going on by various political leaders this week.

Take the time to read it - and spread the word. We need to send a message to our politicians that we can't and won't accept their inaction over this.

  "NDIS - A time to lead" by Kim at All Consuming 

July 25, 2012

Where do bus passes go to die?

Rise and shine!

So, we're up for another school day and I'm gently trying to hurry Mr 14 along. Like me, he is NOT a morning person. Especially today. He is mono-syllabic and moves with the urgency of a turtle.

"Come on, mate. Don't want to miss the bus."

He gives me a look that says he couldn't care less about the bus. I ignore it and keep packing his lunch into his bag. He continues to put his shoes and socks on. Slowly.

I glance at the clock on the wall, the one we use religiously for Bus Arrival Mean Time and it says he has only 4 minutes left to get out of the house. If he misses it, then I'll have to take him. I don't want to take him; that means poor H loses 45 mins from his morning before-school routine, something he really doesn't appreciate, not to mention that I'd have to wait til I returned home to eat breakfast.

Finally, Mr 14 grabs his bag.

"I don't know where your wallet is," I say, as he strolls to the door. His bus pass is in it, among other things.

"I think I lost it," he mumbles.

Oh, FFS!

He looks at me and I realise I just said those words out loud.

"When was the last time you had it?" I ask.

He shrugs. "Dunno. I haven't had it for two weeks but I didn't tell you because I knew you'd say that."

Oh. Right. Because this isn't the FIRST bus pass he's ever lost, is it? Uh, no. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to replace it over the past 3 years. I swear they should just tattoo a bar code on his arm. Even HE would find it hard to lose that.

I shake my head. We don't have time for this discussion now so I open the front door. "Just make sure you catch the bus, okay? Have a good day. See ya."

He acknowledges me with a sheepish tip of his head and jogs down the front steps and out of the driveway. Meanwhile, I'm already adding another job on my list for today.


What is it with teenage boys and their stuff? Bus passes. School jumpers. Socks. Sports shirts. Lost, drifting in the wind to who knows where. It's like he has a 2 foot memory. FFS!!

And yes, I just said it out loud again but no-one's here to listen so it doesn't count!

Do your kids lose things? How do you deal with it? Or not, as the case may be? Please tell me I'm not the only one dealing with this!

July 23, 2012

Music for Monday

Monday is always a tough day to get going, isn't it? I'm usually wishing it was still Sunday, that I could simply ignore that early morning alarm and snuggle deeper under the covers. But then the knowledge crowds my brain that unless I get up, I will have children at home all day and NOT at school. That's all the impetus I need!

A short time later, I arrive back home after the school run and the first thing I do is turn some music on. My inner rock chick loves nothing better, in fact she demands it. Whether it's doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, making beds, reconciling a bank statement or entering invoices into the computer, having music as the soundtrack of my day soothes my mind and helps me get through it all. I need all the help I can get on a Monday.

So, I've decided that Monday will be our weekly Music Day here. Every week I'll post a clip of a song that I'm enjoying a lot and hopefully, it will help your day be a little less Monday-itis filled and a little more fun! 

To start us off this week, here's an Aussie band I've loved for a while:

It's the John Butler Trio and their latest single,  'Close To You'. Just the right amount of energy I need to get things done today. Enjoy!

Who're you listening to at the moment? What's the one song that you cannot live without in your life?

July 20, 2012

Who's gonna drive you home tonight?

Like most parents, I wear many different hats on a daily basis. One of the most regularly worn is the one of Taxi Driver. A huge part of my weekly routine involves driving someone somewhere. Living in a large metropolitan city, that can easily translate to A LOT of driving before you know it.

One of the perks of living beside a business district. NOT.

In this house, there's always someone who needs to be somewhere.

First there's the getting them to school. My 14 year old catches the bus to and from but I need to drive H every day. On the map it looks quite close but unfortunately it's a bit too far to walk. On a good day, we can get from home to school in just over 11 minutes. But on a bad one (which more often than not has been the case lately) it can be closer to 25 or 30, the last 15 minutes moving at a CRAWL. I can walk faster. It's not uncommon for the whole round trip to add up to over an hour by the time I get back. And then you've got to go back at 3.00pm to pick them up! As I mentioned a while back, this won't be for long - next year H starts high school and we can walk. Bliss!

Then there's the after school stuff. Rugby training, karate, gym visits, dental appointments. Add to that Son #1 not having a drivers licence at present (long story for another time!) and you can understand why I get a little weary of negotiating the constant traffic jams that make up life here in the big smoke. I envy you girls in the country, I tell you!

Will someone hurry up & invent teleporting, please?

I get one night a week where I can luxuriate in the fact that I don't need to go anywhere - and that night, my dear readers, is tonight. I have absolutely nothing planned. Other than slipping on my comfortable slippers, grabbing a spot on the lounge in our back room and enjoying a movie or downloaded TV on my laptop. The Blokes Wot Live Here will be in the other room watching either reality TV or Friday Night Footy. There's only so many episodes of Operation Repo/Lock Up/Hardcore Pawn I can stomach in a week, you know what I mean?

I should remind them all more often that I'm allowed to have a life beyond driving them somewhere in the car. But not tonight. Tonight, I am all about enjoying a relaxing night IN. Bring that shit ON.

Do you drive your kids everywhere like I do? Or do they just drive you crazy in other ways?

July 15, 2012

Boy, interrupted...

As a parent, the headline in todays Sun-Herald is the personification of every nightmare I've ever had:

'I promise that we're going to have a really good time' Tom Kelly's soothing words to his anxious girlfriend

For those who are unaware of this story, Tom Kelly was an 18 year old boy who was killed in a senseless, unprovoked attack in our city last weekend. He suffered fatal injuries after being kinghit by a person as yet unknown while walking down the street with his girlfriend in Sydney's Kings Cross. It's a part of the city that is a hot spot for clubs, late-night entertainment and all the trouble that goes along with it, alcohol, drugs, prostitutes, you name it. A real magnet for the young and trying-to-be-young.

His father says he'd asked Tom not to go into the Cross "but you can't tell an 18 year old what to do." And he's right. You can't. And even if you do, invariably they won't listen because they can't or won't entertain the possibility of something going wrong.

I've had similar conversations with my eldest son over the years. Asking those kinds of questions. Ignoring the rolling of the eyes, humouring smiles and imploring requests for me to 'Relax, Mum'. Because I can't. When you love them, you have to keep on asking, don't you? Where are you going? How are you getting home? Do you want me to pick you up? Please be careful. Let me know if you're staying at your mate's house so I don't worry. My eldest is now 23 and I still ask. The only difference now is he finally understands why.

It's started already with my 14 year old. If I had a dollar for every time he's said 'OMG, relax, Mum, nothing's going to happen', I reckon I'd be rich. He wants more freedom like his older brother did and I'm trying to put the brakes on. Slow him down. Give him a chance to grow up first. It doesn't help that he looks older than his years would indicate. His 14-year-old athlete's body has no business looking as ripped as it does but when you consider how much sport and physical activity he does, it's not surprising.

Credit:  Radius Image/Alchemy

The Tom Kelly story before he was killed is similar to the path many young boys have travelled. A few difficult years at high school. Problems with drugs/alcohol/gambling. Then turning it all around with a new job/another chance/fresh start. Maybe a new set of friends, a first girlfriend or mentor in their lives and suddenly they can see a future with buckets of potential. Because often that's how it pans out. Boys are a 'life-by-the-seat-of-your-pants' kind of  ride. Natural risk-takers. Drawn to the danger and the thrill of the chase. It's an instinct built into their DNA. Show a boy a physical challenge and I'll show you a kid who dreams of being the fastest or the best. Pushing his limits to the extreme. Seeing how far he can go. Taking a chance to make it big.

And I want that for my boys. I want them to live life unafraid. To feel secure enough in their own minds to give it their best shot. To acknowledge they'll make mistakes as they learn but realise it's still okay. To be confident enough to take a chance when others won't. To be strong and independent yet considerate of all others.

But here's the grey area - all those things are at odds with what a parent thinks when they go out at night. You want all that 'guts and glory' stuff to stay hidden in the background. You don't want them to take unnecessary risks. Stand out in a crowd. You just want them to get home safe.

I wish there was a simple answer to all this but I don't think there is one. All I know is that the story of Tom Kelly has hit a real nerve in our community. We are shocked and appalled that such an horrific thing could happen. When I first read about it, my immediate thoughts were 'There but for the grace of God, go I'. My heart just broke for his devastated parents who must feel like they're living through a nightmare with no end. What happened to Tom Kelly could have easily happened to any one of our young men, through no fault of their own, simply by being in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The fact that it happened at all is something we, as a society, should be very concerned about.

Do you have sons? How do you deal with them wanting to go out into areas that aren't considered safe?

July 10, 2012

Pressure... Pain... and Pajamas.

Don't try this at home, people. Definitely not the way I'd recommend starting your day.

Image credit: Deborah Leigh

I'm talking a Mega Migraine, as in 'OMG morning sun, could you NOT shine so bloody brightly?' It frikking hurts.

I woke up with an absolute shocker of a headache yesterday. My bladder is generally the organ that wakes me most mornings but yesterday it was my eyes, or more accurately, the ever increasing pressure behind and around them. Jaysus. My head was throbbing something fierce.

I staggered out of bed heading directly downstairs for pain killers and almost immediately regretted it. A huge wave of nausea nearly felled me before I got to the safety of the couch and a more horizontal position. It was another 5 minutes later before I felt ready to risk being upright again.

It was in this state about twenty minutes later - and still in my pajamas - when the doorbell rang and I belatedly realised in horror that this would be the bloke I'd booked to fix our garage roller door. Fark. It was 9.00am and I felt about as glamorous as a day old tea bag.

To his absolute credit, Kev was the perfect workman and didn't seem at all fazed by my pajama-ed appearance when I answered the door. Instead he was the perfect gentleman, unfailingly polite, spoke quietly (thank god) and got straight to work. Meanwhile, I raced upstairs and in five minutes was showered and dressed, still feeling mortified about being caught in my jammies. I SO hate that.

By the time Kev was done the pain killers were mercifully starting to kick in, so I was able to manage the paperwork and see out of my red-rimmed eyes the demo of the now-working roller door. A quick zip-zap with the plastic card followed by a firm handshake and Kev was gone.

I spent the rest of the day at home (apart from one quick trip for groceries) horizontal on the lounge. And made a mental note to ring the optometrist, thinking my glasses prescription might need to be changed. Or it could be my sinus giving me hell. Either way, I want to fix it!

Do you suffer from migraines? How do you deal with them? And who else's been caught in their jammies by a tradie? *facepalm*

July 5, 2012

What Sarah Ate Next: Pumpkin Soup

Something new for my readers today - good food that simply put, I love to eat. For me to share it here, it's got to taste good, look good and be easy to make.

There's something about this cold wintery weather we've had lately that makes me want to eat food that warms my soul and gives comfort right down to my toes. Homemade soup seems to tick that box in a most satisfyingly emphatic way. I made a big pot of pumpkin soup the other night for the Blokes Wot Live Here and as luck would have it, there was enough left over for me to eat for lunch today. 

This is the Donna Hay recipe I've used for years, with one exception. In her version, she takes the skins off the cooked pumpkin before blending but I personally prefer to leave them on. I think they add to the overall rustic flavour but it's up to you. I've made this soup loads of times for family and friends and have always received a thumbs up on the result!

Roast Pumpkin Soup:

2kg sweet pumpkin (I usually use a Kent)
7 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Sea salt & cracked pepper

Firstly chop up your pumpkin into wedges with the skin on.

Place on an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt
and cracked black pepper. 

Roast at 180 degrees Celsius until cooked and all that delicious
golden brown caramelisation is happening...

Transfer to a large pot and add the Dijon mustard, honey
and about half of the chicken stock.

With your trusty hand held blender, blend all ingredients
until smooth. Add more or less stock until it reaches your
preferred consistency. Stir on the heat for another 5 minutes.

Serve in bowls with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of
chives and a side of crusty buttered bread. Enjoy!

What's your favourite winter soup? Or for those of you in warmer climes, do you have a favourite soup for the summer months?

July 3, 2012

My first time.... at Blogopolis!

Last Saturday I went to my very first bloggers conference. I'd read with great interest about some of the others held before and promised myself I'd go to the next thing ever held in Sydney.

I'm so glad I did.

The venue for Nuffnang Blogopolis was the very swanky Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel. After an obscenely early start and long drive down the dogs-breakfast of the M2, I was all kinds of nervous and excited. The one piece of toast I'd eaten before I left wasn't helping much. Walking through the entrance doors, I had the good fortune to see the one person I actually knew - the irrepressable Kim from All Consuming - standing in the foyer. Thanks, Kim. You were the best way to start my day!

Once upstairs, cue the slightly intimidating sight of a few hundred bloggers, en masse. Holy crap. It was a little overwhelming, to be honest. But I walked in, found a seat and introduced myself to the lady next to me. Hello Kim from Design Hunter!

So many bloggers... not enough time to meet them all!

I learned STACKS of stuff from all the speakers, some of whom I'd never heard of before, but all were very acomplished people in their particular blog niche. People like Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids, Imogen Lamport from Inside Outside Style, Jeff Tan who talked about SEO & Analytics (I knew next to nothing about that so I'm so glad I went to his session), Nikki Parkinson from Styling You, Caz Makepeace from yTravelblog, Mrs Woog from Woogs World and Eden Riley from Edenland.

Looking up - thanks for the tip, Mrs Woog...

And there were other delights to be had during the day. The very large goodie bag. A top notch lunch. But I especially loved the morning and afternoon teas. I mean, look at this:

Don't mind if I do...

Twinings were one of the sponsors of the day and they really nailed it. Beautiful cups and saucers and cake stands. Plus the tea was delicious.

Milk and none, thanks

I relished the chance to listen to some of my favourite bloggers share their ideas and advice about blogging. You can't get enough of that kind of feedback. Plus I loved the overall feeling of community that prevailed throughout the room, the generosity and continual 'giving back' from the big names of the Australian blogging landscape. All so very appreciated by people like me.

My favorite panel of the day would probably have been this one:

Panellists Jeroxie, Edenland, Good Googs & Lady Melbourne

Moderated brilliantly by Kim from All Consuming (seriously she needs to do more of that kind of thing. Hilarious! And she sings as well!) it was all about 'Finding Your Voice' and in my opinion, was worth the price of the ticket to Blogopolis alone.

Another panel with David from Nuffnang (out of view to the left),
A Beach Cottage, Mrs Woog & Trevor Young

Suffice to say, this will not be the last blogging conference I will go to. After this, I want more!

I managed to meet so many people but there were others I didn't get the chance to say hello to. Good manners stopped me from interrupting them mid-conversation! But here are the few I was thrilled to get the chance to meet:

Kim from Design Hunter
Yvette from Ellas List
Karen from Miscellaneous Mum
Rachel from The Kids Are All Right
Janine from Shambolic Living
Zoey from Good Googs
Nicole from Planning With Kids
Jules from One Pink Chair
Tina from Tina Gray Dot Me
Nikki from Styling You
Sarah from A Beach Cottage
Kimba from Kimba Likes
Trevor Young from PR Warrior
Valerie Khoo from Sydney Writing Centre

Check them out - there are some amazing writers on that list!

I'd love to hear what anyone else thought about the conference... add your thoughts or link to them in the comments!

July 1, 2012

Crash and burn, baby...

Okay, I'll bite.

So it's another week, another celebrity break up. And this week's contestants are Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes!

"Smile, darling! I've got a surprise for you!"

Surely everyone saw this coming? (Unlike Tom, however. So-called 'sources' report that he has been 'blindsided' by the news.)

The jokes are flying about thick and fast, before the ink is barely even dry on Katie's just-filed papers. Comedians must be having a field day. How about this little gem I saw tweeted by Al Yankovic:

"Sorry to hear that Tom Cruise's marriage has jumped the couch."

LOL. I wish I'd thought of that.

Like many friends my age, I used to LOVE Tom Cruise. He first popped up on my radar as part of a stellar cast (Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon) in the classic 80's film, "The Outsiders". Male angst never looked so good.

Later that year he did "Risky Business" and after watching him grin that grin, wear raybans like no other and dance around without his pants, I was a dead set fan.

Old time rock and roll never looked like this with Bob Seger...

Seriously, who HASN'T watched someone try to do that floor slide in your socks on a timber floor? Or had a crack at it themselves? I can think of various occasions. Liquor may or may not have been involved, ahem. Just sayin'.

But the deal was well and truly done when THIS hit the screens in 1986:

"I feel the need... the need for *insert your own desired activity*

Oh yeah. Sure. You betcha, baby.

I am, of course, talking about Top Gun. After it was released every boy wanted to be a fighter pilot and every girl was thinking about how good that jumpsuit would look lying on the floor of her bedroom. Come on, admit it. I know I did. 

And the fangirling relationship continued over time, apart from a few lean years around the early 90's (Far and Away, anyone?) and the bad taste in our mouths in 2001 after he dumped 'our' Nicole (and his status as Australia's Most Favourite Son-in-Law). I was willing to forgive that and extend the olive branch - I'm not one to hold a grudge - and so I continued to watch him on the silver screen.

But it wasn't to last. And Tom was the one who killed it.

"Watch me jump all over my carefully controlled image, Oprah!"

My inner fangirl simply couldn't get over the Couch Jumping Spectacle. Watching him gush all over Oprah about his love for Katie Holmes was fine in itself but with added CJS, it catapulted him into the Freak Show category. And no amount of brain bleach could make me go there again. I managed to watch a couple of Mission Impossible movies since then but frankly, not much else. I had to be honest. The love affair was over. *sigh*

I have yet to see "Rock of Ages" but the 80's music fan living in my heart is desperately pushing me to try. I'm not sure if I can deal with the sight of Tom in tight leather pants with snake-headed cod piece though. It's possibly 'too little, too late' or more likely, kind of embarrassing. For HIM.

So tell me: are YOU a Tom Cruise fan? Who's surprised by the news of TomKat's split? Does Nicole feel secretly vindicated now? Oh, to be a fly on the wall of the Kidman/Urban household...
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