28 April 2013

The Life of Pi - Yann Martel

This is an amazing tale.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but when my mother offered to lend me this book, I decided to give it a go. Because I knew it had been made into a movie, I had high expectations of the book.

The story itself was intriguing. The descriptions were detailed and drew me into his world. There were interesting philosophical points to digest, which kept me reading. I can only imagine that writing a story like this would have been incredibly difficult and I think the author did a good job of it. For me though, it wasn't a not-put-down-able book. It was a little slow in parts, but then again, I imagine that over 200 days in a life boat with a Bengal tiger would be...

Book: Paperback. Borrowed from Nonna.
Rating: I've given this 3 stars on Goodreads.
One-liner: an amazing tale. It was a bit slow in some parts, but then again, over 200 days in a life boat with a Bengal tiger would be...

27 April 2013

Virtual Vodka Night - Aah, the Memories

I was recently tidying the computer desk when I came across some notes I'd made during the Virtual Vodka Night Twitter Party back in February. I took a few notes at the time, thinking that I might write a "de-brief" post. Well, two months down the track, I finally got my act together!

It was a mother of a party,  and by that, I mean an ideal party for mothers. Scheduled to begin shortly after the MissyMoos' bedtime, there were no babysitters required and I could party in my pjs.

We had 13 people, including myself, drop in at one time or another and use the hashtag. Someone invited Bondi Vet, but he was a no show. We were inclusive, too. We didn't discriminate. Non-vodka drinkers, and in fact non-alcohol drinkers, joined in to help us celebrate.

My drink of choice was vodka (of course):

Anyone heard of whipped cream vodka? Neither had I. Virtual Vodka Night was an educational experience.

Not only did we learn about whipped cream vodka, we also learned many fun facts about vodka. Yes, it was a scientific party.

I also learned a bit about Twitter. I discovered that there is a maximum number of daily tweets. In fact, I got booted out of my own party when I reached it and could tweet no longer. I direct-messaged the stayers to explain why I was giving them the silent treatment. Luckily, it was late anyway, so it wasn't too disappointing.

Another thing I learned was to be clever about the hashtag. A few of us (not the host, surely!) got confused and started using the wrong hashtag part of the way through. How are you going to get #virtualvodkanight to trend when you're typing #virtualvodkaparty? Also, while we're learning about Twitter, another lesson is to be efficient with characters in your hashtag - it leaves more room for actual tweeting. Maybe we should have had #vvn - short and mysterious...

It was great fun and I'd do it again. Care to join me?

25 April 2013

Breathing Easy

My fingertips lightly brush a wisp of hair from her closed eyelid. She stirs slightly; her mouth's brief comfortable movement barely noticeable. Her chest rises and falls peacefully. She is calm. She is serene. She is sleeping.


This Thursday, I am thankful for the health of my children. Over the past couple of weeks each of them has had their own illnesses to deal with and mend from. Some have needed treatment, others haven't. Tonight I am thankful that my MissyMoos are breathing easily in their sleep. I am thankful that they are resting, hopefully to feel stronger again tomorrow. I am thankful that no matter how miserable they may feel, a nice cuddle can make things a little better.

Linking up for Thankful Thursday with Six by the Bay:

Six By The Bay

23 April 2013

My Writing Journey: The Bookclub Meeting

Last week, was my monthly book club meeting. But this was not any old book club meeting. This time we actually talked about the book!

I had been feeling nervous about this meeting, as the book up for discussion was the one I have written. I blogged about my jitters here. As I wrote a few weeks ago, after finishing my draft manuscript, I emailed it to the old ducks for them to have a read as our April book.

I felt nervous at what their opinions of the book would be. I also felt slightly worried that perhaps, in asking them to read the book, I was putting them in an awkward position of feeling that they had to be positive to protect my feelings, even if it was no good.

Thankfully, the reaction was positive, and genuinely so (unless they're great actresses!). Our conversations still went off on tangents, but they were tangents inspired by themes in the book. There were a few points of constructive criticism, which I've taken on board. A couple of those aspects I have since been able to address in my edit (which is now FINISHED!). A couple of points which we discussed are inherent in the storyline - they're part of the tension in the book, which doesn't mend all heartache, but I am comfortable with that. I don't think it can be all rosy - that's life.

One comment from the old ducks was that they wanted more - they were disappointed when it ended. I know what they mean. I was a bit too. But I really feel that the story needed to end where it did. I could have written on and on, but it would have ended up as an epic and it would have lost momentum. They asked if there would be a "next book". A few weeks ago, I would have said": "No way!" I felt drained and as if I didn't have another novel in me. Now, well, let's just say I have a few ideas ... In all seriousness, there are a lot of possibilities for a next book - different angles, different characters, following through on possibilities created in the first book. I have ideas of storylines, but I also have ideas about what I would do differently in the writing process. For now, I will note the ideas as they come, but I need to concentrate my efforts on getting the completed book out there. To that end, bit by bit, I'm putting my plan in place (ooh, that sounds a little sinister...).

Something which was said by one old duck, which I cherish, was that whether the book ends up being accepted by a publishing house or not, I just have to publish it. Yes, one way or another, I will :-)

21 April 2013

My Week in Bullet Points

Here is my weekly summary of what we've been up to.

For those of you who haven't seen this series of posts from me before, it's a way of helping me keep up with milestones, what we've been up to as a family and general bits and pieces, and is particularly useful for those weeks that fly by without me having a chance to post much on the blog. It can also serve as a reminder to me to write a longer post on one of the bullet points here and there down the track when time permits.

  • This week started badly, with some health issues for the little ones.

  • The same day, our computer stopped working, froze, died. However you describe it, we couldn't use it any more. Thankfully, I was able to copy over the last of the non-backed-up photos and documents to the external hard-drive while the computer was on in safe mode. If I can give any advice to any of you, it's BACK UP YOUR WORK EVERY TIME!

  • Hubby was home with the girls for the week, but I was still at work. I went into the office on Thursday, as I couldn't work from home due to the computer situation. (If Hubby hadn't been home or if it hadn't been school holidays, I probably would have needed to take the day off, but it worked out this way)

  • Thursday night was the much-anticipated Old Ducks Book Club meeting!!! This event really deserves its own blog post. I'll try to get to that this week :-)

  • We got a new computer and Hubby set it up while I was out at book club. We're back online and now I feel like I have all my limbs again.

  • We did some school holiday out- and-about type stuff, even in the pouring rain. We're awesome like that.

  • I finished my read-through and edit of my book and have started the synopsis. This girl is on fire!

Although it was a crappy start to the week, all's well that ends well. Let's hope the second week of school holidays has less drama and more excitement!

20 April 2013

Unwanted Visitors

Have you ever had unwanted visitors? They show up unannounced, throwing everything out of whack. You put up with them, but don't make them feel welcome. When they leave, you breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the thought that at least at this point, it will be a long time between visits.

That's how I feel about Leopold and Felicity. It has only been about six months since they last imposed upon us so I wasn't really expecting them. Last week they came over to visit MissyMoo3 (18 months). Poor thing. She kicked them to the kerb pretty quickly, though, and they were away within a couple of hours, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Unfortunately, it appears that our visitors had unfinished business. Exactly one week later, they came back, this time turning their attention to MissyMoo2 (3). This time they got a little more comfortable; stayed a little longer. All I'll say about that is that it was not the start to the school holidays I was anticipating. I hope the pattern isn't repeated and they don't come back for MissyMoo1 (6) next week.

You're not welcome, spew fairies. The tooth fairy is our favourite!

19 April 2013

Back from bloggy bedrest

It does not feel like less than a week since my computer called it a day. It's amazing how much we rely on them, well, how much I rely on them. Not having an operational home computer during the week was a huge disruption for me - not only for my blogging, but also in "real life", as I work from home one day per week. I couldn't do that this week. Luckily for me, as we're in school holidays there was no afternoon bus stop pick up and Hubby is on leave so I was able to go into the office.

Yesterday afternoon we bought a new computer. Last night, Hubby set it all up. I'm still getting used to navigating my way around Windows 8, but so far so good. So good. In the words of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, as paraphrased by MissyMoo1 (6), "this is king awesome!"

We got a good deal, it all seems to be working (fingers crossed) and now I can get back to blogging and editing my manuscript.

There's so much I could say, but earlier in the week, I got all keen and hand-wrote a blog post, so I'll let earlier-in-the-week-Francesca tell you all about it:

My blog is having an enforced period of rest, as my computer is not working at the moment. Therefore, until a new computer is purchased and set up, blogging ceases.

As far as timing goes, it's not all bad. I've been noticing a pattern with my blogging in that following a flurry of activity and inspiration, there generally comes a rut. Lately, the blog hasn't been receiving the attention I'd like to give it in order to produce some quality writing. Granted, I've been directing my efforts elsewhere, getting my book finished and edited, and there's only so much of me to go around. But I find that the less time and effort I spend on the blog, the fewer ideas I have regarding what to write on it.

It's a vicious cycle.

Lately, my blogging has felt stagnant. Monday is my only weekday at home with the little Missy Moos without any major time commitments, so I generally spend my Mondays doing housework and playing with the MissyMoos. Occasionally (it feels), I'll prepare a blog post for ibot (although, the last two Mondays', I've been cleaning up vomit). Tuesday = occasional ibot link-up in the mad rush before heading off to work for the day; Wednesday = link up with Wordless Wednesday before work if I can find a decent photo; Thursday = finding something to be thankful for; Friday, I flog and flash - something I've already posted earlier in the week if I'm lazy busy; Sunday, it's "My week in bullet points".


At the beginning of the week, I thought I would be facing the same routine.

But then the computer died. So I have no opportunity to blog. Yes, I have my smartphone and I've blogged on it before, but I'm not doing that again - give me a keyboard any day. Yes, I have access to a computer at work, but I have (so much) work to do there and a good work ethic, so blogging at work does not and will not happen.

What does the word "blog" mean? It is an abbreviation of "web log". So what do I do without the web? I simply log. I am writing this "post" in my little notebook.

It sounds like a contradiction, but not having access to a computer is rejuvenating my blogging. Having distance from the shackles of my blogging routine has been inspiring. Being blocked from the ability to publish blog posts has unblocked my mind and allowed the free-flowing of ideas. I had ideas for four blog posts just today!

So there you have it people, my voice from the past. It's good to be back :-)

14 April 2013

My week in bullet points

Here is my weekly summary of what we've been up to. For those of you who haven't seen this series of posts from me before, it's a way of helping me keep up with milestones, what we've been up to as a family and general bits and pieces, and is particularly for those weeks that fly by without me having a chance to post much on the blog. It can also serve as a reminder to me to write a longer post on one of the bullet points here and there down the track when time permits.

  • The week did not start off well. Miss yMoo3 (18 months) vomited twice first thing Monday morning. Thankfully, that was it for the day and nobody else got sick. Monday was a day of cuddles, washing and staying at home.
  • This week I had my parent/teacher interview with MissyMoo1's (6) teacher. All good :-) She's settled and comfortable, and learning really well. I'm so proud of how big she's getting, how much she enjoys learning and all she can do. 
  • IT'S SCHOOL HOLIDAYS! Hubby has some time off, so it's going to be AWESOME! (Except for the slight inconvenience that I'm still working). We've already started the weekend off well and I'll post about it later on once I've been bothered to upload my photos to the computer.
  • My blog reached 40,000 pageviews! To celebrate, I changed its look ... and then changed it again ... I daresay I will change it again at least one more time in the near future :-)

13 April 2013

40,000 Pageviews

The blog's all-time pageviews have ticked over the 40,000 mark!

To celebrate, I've given the blog a new look. I was looking for a change and I thought this would be a good opportunity.

When the blog reached 30,000 pageviews a couple of months ago, I wrote a statistics party post. I also did one at 20,000 pageviews. So I'm going to make a tradition of it :-)

Here's a list of the top 10 all-time page-viewing countries, with a little message in their native tongue.

  1. Australia: G'day Aussies. Thanks for readin' me yarns. I reckon it's bloody beautiful.
  2. United States: Hi ya'll. Thanks for reading my stories. It's been legen ... wait for it ... dary.
  3. Russia: Здравствуйте. Спасибо за чтение моих рассказов.
  4. Germany: Hallo. Vielen Dank dafür, meine Geschichten zu lesen.
  5. United Kingdom: Hello chaps. I'm much obliged for your kind attention to my tales.
  6. France: Bonjour. Merci de lire mes histoires.
  7. Philippines: Hello.Salamat sa iyo para sa pagbabasa ng aking mga kuwento.
  8. AustriaHallo. Vielen Dank dafür, meine Geschichten zu lesen.
  9. Czech Republic: Dobrý den. Děkuji za přečtení mé povídky.
  10. Sweden: Hej. Tack för att du läser mina historier.

Here are my observations in comparison to the last statistics summary:
  • Australia, the US and Russia are firmly entrenched in their respective top three places;
  • Germany and the UK have swapped places;
  • France and The Philippines have swapped places;
  • 8th, 9th and 10th places have been claimed by newbies to the top 10.
  • China, Spain and India have dropped out of the top 10.
  • Thanks again to Google translate  :-)
Happy page viewing!

12 April 2013

So much to see

Last night, after putting the kids to bed, a mild panic came over me when I realised that the next day would be Friday - playgroup day - and we had not given any thought to craft.

As I've said before, for me craft is the difficult thing about coordinating playgroup. I'm not a natural crafter, so to get anything vaguely interesting and age-appropriate can be a challenge. Before allowing panic to set in last night, I decided to be blazé about it - it was the last day of term after all, the kids could just colour in if they were desperate to do something crafty.

This morning B sent a me a text with a craft idea. Phew!

We made binoculars:

Not only did we make binoculars; the children used them.

After craft (and a cuppa for the mums), the kidlets went for a walk. Our playgroup is set on expansive grounds, with open grassy areas as well as big gum trees. The kids used their binoculars to look at their surroundings in a new way. MissyMoo2 (3) told me she saw a kookaburra and five butterflies.

Even after we got home, she wore her binoculars around her neck for most of the afternoon :-)

11 April 2013


I'm feeling jittery tonight.

In one week, the Old Ducks Book Club will gather to discuss my manuscript. My synopsis is currently on hold, until I gain valuable insight from these ladies. In the meantime, I edit. From the time of April's bookclub chat, I have set myself a tight deadline for my manuscript's first submission.

I follow a lot of authors on Twitter and I see them talking about excitedly anticipating the publication of their latest books, while I am excitedly anticipating clicking "send email" once I get it all together.

I have daydreams of how I might one day be a published author. But I'm not deluding myself that it's going to be plain sailing. I have a Plan B ... and a Plan C.

This is why I fidget. I know that finishing a book is an achievement unto itself, particularly with everything else I have going on in my life, but now the future is unknown. I'm impatient.

I could just not write this and wait to write a big triumphant blog post if my book becomes a huge success (I'm a dreamer!), or keep nice and quiet if nothing comes of it. But, this is my journey and if writing a book isn't blog fodder, then I don't know what is!

Thanks for reading my ramblings. You may go and do something more interesting now :-)

09 April 2013

Ten "F" Words

Inspired by Rita at The Crafty Expat with her post on The 10 Rs of her life (aaaaages ago), I have come up with ten words beginning with F (for Francesca) which resonate in my life.

So here are my ten F-words (not that F-word, which I said earlier tonight when I got my toes caught in one of those toys with bendy wires on a block of wood with the wooden shapes threaded in for kids to push along the loops, which was lying in the middle of Miss A's bedroom floor...):

1. Family: it is so important to me - the nuclear family Hubby & I have created, the one I came from and all the branches of extended family here, there and everywhere. Sometimes family relationships are not easy. Sometimes they break down. But they're special and I hold them dear.

2. Friendship: Sometimes friends come and go and sometimes, when you're lucky, they stay. I feel blessed knowing I have close friends and for the important part friends have played in different times of my life.

3. Forgiveness: This is something I have struggled with in recent years - trying to forgive when I have been hurt deeply. I think I'm there now and am at peace in the knowledge that forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean forgetting or picking up the relationship again - although it can and it has in some circumstances :-)

4. Faith: My faith is important to me, but at times, a struggle. I do my best.

5. Frugal: I'm not frugal in a make-your-own-soap-and-baby-wipes kind of way, but I don't see the point of spending money for the sake of spending money. We have financial goals and we save for them.

6. Fragile: I'm an overthinker and quite sensitive, so please be nice to me :-)

7. Fun: I try to be fun and have fun. For example, I like putting on silly accents for the kids. The other day, I danced with MissyMoo2 (3) to "The Fairies" ballet dvd (I felt that the next morning, what a workout!)

8. Fiery: I have a Sicilian's temper (but the Aussie in me manages to hold it in ... sometimes).

9. Future: I think about it a lot (not just my dream of flying cars in 2015 à la "Back to the Future"...) and plan for it. I have many hopes for the future and a lot of what I do today is aimed towards tomorrow.

10. Fitness: I'm not all that fit at the moment. I jog very occasionally, as finding the opportunity is tricky. But I value fitness and I want it to be part of my life. In the meantime, I chase my little kids and go up and down the stairs several times a day.

07 April 2013

My week in bullet points

Here is my weekly summary of what we've been up to. For those of you who haven't seen this series of posts from me before, it's a way of helping me keep up with milestones, what we've been up to as a family and general bits and pieces, and is particularly for those weeks that fly by without me having a chance to post much on the blog. It can also serve as a reminder to me to write a longer post on one of the bullet points here and there down the track when time permits.

I seem to say this every week, but the past week has been a busy one.
  • We celebrated Hubby's birthday and our wedding anniversary and even managed dinner together to celebrate. We got married on Hubby's birthday all those years ago - clever fellow, he always remembers our anniversary!
  • We said goodbye to Zio N from his visit. He and Par came and met me for lunch in my lunch break at work the day before his drive home. It was great to see him so much after such a long time. I love it how so many "essential" things in life can be pushed around to make room for visitors. But now, it's back to reality.
  • Uncle J came by after work one evening and took us all out for dinner at one of our local clubs, for Hubby's birthday.
  • I'm getting some good feedback on my book in dribs and drabs. I'm about halfway through my detailed edit of the manuscript, which I have been doing since sending the first draft off to a few people for their input. I'm nervous, but excited about our next book club meeting in a couple of weeks.
Hope you've had a good week :-)

06 April 2013

Glamour and guilt

Thanks for all the lovely bloggy, twitty and facebooky messages about mine and Hubby's wedding anniversary - there's a lot of love on these internets :-)

Hubby and I managed to get away for a dinner for two last night at a local restaurant - one that isn't of the "family friendly" variety and has therefore not been frequented by us for a number of years. We had a lovely night out. In getting ready, I didn't have any dress or hair issues (you know the ones which inevitably surface when you're trying to look your best and threaten to darken the mood) and our departure from the house was hassle-free. The food wasn't fantastic, but it wasn't too bad. The atmosphere and the company were faultless :-)

It felt a little glamourous: dressing up, uninterrupted conversation of our choosing, a glass of wine (or two!).


A few days before our night out, we received an email notifying us that MissyMoo1's (6) Little Athletics presentation night would be on the Friday night. THE Friday night of our planned anniversary dinner. By that stage, dinner had been booked, Nonna and Par had agreed to come over to look after the MissyMoos for us - everything was set. So, thinking MissyMoo1 wouldn't know or care, we did what any parent with an interest in self-preservation would do: we didn't tell her about it. We didn't tell her about it and we decided to carry on with our plan of going out for dinner, just the two of us.

This might sound selfish. But when you consider that the last time Hubby and I were able to socialise alone together was at our work Christmas functions (not the most comfortable or intimate of surroundings), the idea of sitting on soggy grass, chasing a bored one-year-old and three-year-old whilst waiting for the six-year-old to be given a participation medal, was less attractive to me than an evening out with my husband.

During an incidental conversation on Friday morning, B offered to take MissyMoo1 along to the presentation night, as she was going anyway with her kids. I never would have thought to ask her, as it didn't occur to me that MissyMoo1 would care too much about it. But with the offer made, we sent MissyMoo1 off with her "almost cousins" (as she calls them). Aren't I glad we did?! Not only did she get the participation medal, but she also got a certificate for 10 PBs in the season and a trophy with her name on it for "Most Improved". Also, her "almost cousin" got age champion! B took photos and emailed them to me :-)

So my glamour was tinged with some guilt. But it was nothing compared to the guilt I would have felt if MissyMoo1 hadn't gone and we'd later found out that she would have received a trophy. Thanks B. Wonder Woman at it again!

04 April 2013

Wedding anniversary - eight years

Eight years ago, Mr O and I were married. 

I'm thankful for the beautiful day we had eight years ago.
I'm thankful for the family and friends who shared in it with us.
I'm thankful for the memories we have.

But most of all, I'm thankful for what we've had since that day; the life we have made together. When we were married, we started our own family. Since then, we have nourished and grown it - first just the two of us, then over time adding MissyMoo1 (6), MissyMoo2 (3), MissyMoo3 (18 months) and, of course, The Fat Cat. We have, in a way, grown up together. And I'm looking forward to us growing old together.

Happy anniversary, Hubby.

Linking up for Thankful Thursday with Six by the Bay:

Six By The Bay

03 April 2013

Laziness doesn't pay

MissyMoo1's drink bottle - the "after" photo

Some things just shouldn't go in the dishwasher.

Wordless Wednesday link up at:

01 April 2013

Francesca's Festa of Favourites - April 2013


Another month, another set of exciting possibilities for Francesca's Festa of Favourites.

Thanks so much to all who have linked up over the past three months. I have enjoyed using the link up to bookmark my favourite posts from other bloggers, as well as being introduced to new blogs and posts from others joining in. I encourage you to go and check out all the lovely posts from January, February and March.

So come and join in with

Francesca's Festa of Favourites for April

Anyone who's new to the link-up, here's some background: "Festa" in Italian means a celebration, a party. This link-up is a place where you can place links to your favourite posts in a given month, but here's the difference: they don't have to be posts you've written (although they can be). You can link to any post for the month that, for you, has been a must-read, that you're proud of, or that you think is funny.

What's the benefit? I'm lazy, so I hope that by the end of the month, it provides me with a summary of cool posts to read. If you're lazy, you can sponge off the list too :-)

Now as well as being lazy, I'm also not into spending money on my blog, so I haven't used one of those super-dooper paid linky party tools, so this is a free one. A few people had trouble with it last at the start, but I've found that as long as you remember to have ".html" at the end of the URL, it usually works. (Let me know in the comments if you have trouble and I'll try to fix it). The disadvantage of the free one is that there are no thumbnails, so you'll need to be creative with your words to get people to want to click on the link!

So, here you are, any time through April, feel free to link up posts you love.

Welcome to Francesca's Festa of Favourites!!

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