30 June 2014

Re-think, Re-assess, Re-align

I often go through periods of reflection on this blog, when I think about why on earth I'm doing any of this ... which inevitably leads me to blog about blogging. Seeing the relative size of the "blogging" tag on my topics list to the right here is testament to that.

So here I go again. If you've read my "Time of Her Life" post, you'd be aware of my mindset in doing what I do in life. You'd also know, that when it gets too much, I cut back.

I'm glad I submitted the "Time of Her Life" article when I did, because had it been a couple of weeks later, I may not have been able to write the article that way. For various reasons, which I won't go into here (for various reasons) I've been feeling quite stressed out recently. I am stretched for time and it won't be a situation which improves any time soon, in fact, I see it being more of an issue in future.

With my recent navel-gazing has also come the realisation that I don't enjoy all aspects of blogginess as I used to. I still enjoy blogging, I still enjoy reading blogs and I still enjoy interacting with other bloggers. What I don't enjoy is the pressure I put on myself to read and comment everywhere I can. I don't enjoy the headspace it fills which could be filled with more meaningful things in my life.

One of the sources of that pressure is link-ups. I get that bloggers have rules for their link-ups and much of the time, a rule (or sometimes a guideline) is to read and comment on other blogs. I understand the reasoning behind this rule and I agree that it's a great way to create a supportive and interactive blogging community. So I support the concept. In a practical sense, though, I simply don't have the time. And I don't need something else to feel guilty about - I'm a Catholic mother for crying out loud, I have enough guilt in my life!

So I've decided to limit my participation in link-ups to only one per week. I've probably been doing that recently anyway, but now that it's a conscious decision, I do it without guilt. The one I have chosen to retain is the one which I feel fits in best with my lack of a blogging schedule. With work and home life so busy, I blog when I can and when I'm in the mood. This, I'm finding, doesn't fit in too well with a particular day in the week type of blog linky. I am thankful for all the bloggers out there who host weekly linkies - you do a wonderful job and I have discovered many great blogs to follow because of you - but I just can't be a part of it all for now.

I will continue hosting Francesca's Festa of Favourites. As a monthly link-up, it's easy to run and I like to recap people's pick of the month reading.

I acknowledge that I may lose readers from being a less "active" blogger. But I'd rather lose readers than lose out on time with my family or lose some of the "fun me" due to stress. This is a little way I can improve my mindset by removing unnecessary clutter in my mind.

I will still blog. I enjoy it. But more of my writing time in the near future will be devoted to creating the sequel to Returning, so I won't be attempting blog posts of amazing merit, nor will I fall into the trap of comparing myself to this or that blogger and feeling I'm coming up short. It's not about that for me. It's about getting back to what this blog is all about - and the tag-line says it all. I don't think the blog itself has strayed from that, but my thoughts have. So now, I just need to remember that in this blogging caper, I'm my own boss. I can't control book sales, I can't control the laundry pile, I can't control the day-job work that falls on my lap - but I am in charge of my blog and where I take it.

*Funny thing, as I was writing about being in charge of my blog, my 5-year-old grabbed the mouse and started moving the cursor all over the place - maybe I should relinquish control of that too! (A topic for another blog post perhaps)*

Why do you blog? Do you sometimes put pressure on yourself to be a particular type of blogger?

28 June 2014

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

Image source
This was the Paulo Coelho book I had heard great things about. This was the Paulo Coelho book I have had in the back of my mind to read for years. This was the Paulo Coelho book I enjoyed.

I'll start off by saying it wasn't quite as profound as a lot of reviews had me believing and looking forward to. But that is the only un-positive thing I'll say in this short reflection.

I loved that this book was about the journey. All the little signs along the way led Santiago to the next point and it was the lessons he learned which got him there, which made him the person he turned out to be, which helped him to finally see what he had been searching for. It really was a metaphor for life, even a life not so obviously touched by divine intervention.

Book: Paperback. Borrowed from my local library.
Rating: I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.
One-liner: I got a lot more out of this than Aleph. A great read.

22 June 2014

MissyMoo2 Turns 5

Another week, another birthday week here in Casa di Francesca.

Last week we celebrated a very special birthday:

Yes, our MissyMoo2 turned 5!
Excitement abounded in our home. Seeing the excitement build in our little girl day by day as she counted down the "sleeps" was such a joy. The night before, I was so excited wrapping her presents, I may have even giggled with glee (just a little).

Here's one of her presents which I just had to show you. A while back, we went into Daiso for a look around at all the cute stuff there (not a sponsored post) and each of the MissyMoos chose a ball of wool to buy from there. MissyMoo2 chose the yellow and asked me to knit her a scarf for her birthday. I had been going pretty well in the lead up to her birthday. The day before I took my knitting to work in the hope I could get a the last few rows done in my lunch break. Well, I had such a busy day that, unfortunately, there wasn't time for any knitting, so I busily knitted away after the MissyMoos went to bed, finished it off and then snuck away to wrap the presents. Talk about cutting it close!
It was worth it though, MissyMoo2 loves her knew scarf :-)

I can't quite believe that our beautiful little girl has turned five. It really is blowing my mind. When I started this blog, I wrote about feeding her solids and now, she's FIVE!!! These next 12 months are going to be filled with amazing milestones for her and I'm so excited about what is ahead for her.

But for now, right now, I am already excited for my gorgeous girl. I am so proud of the beautiful person she is. MissyMoo2 is sunshine - gentle, lovely and incredibly cute. She flies under the radar a bit, being the middle child, and sometimes I take so many of her great qualities for granted. She is a fun little sister and a caring big sister. She is great company, helpful and interested in so many things around her.

MissyMoo2, you are a delight and being your mother is a blessing. Thank you for coming into our family five years ago. We adore you.

13 June 2014

House Build: The Foundations of the Next Stage in Our Lives

It amazes me how quickly things are moving at this stage of the building process.

A couple of weeks ago, the earthworks all happened and I was getting excited about things finally moving visibly.

Since then, things have been zooming along at warp speed!

First it was preparations for the slab:

Then, you guessed it, the slab was poured. This was the scene in the morning as the work was beginning. Yes, I was the crazy lady driving up a road in which nobody lives to take photos as the workmen were going about their jobs - they'd be used to that kind of thing, right?

Here's the after shot that afternoon:

A couple of days later, there was a new delivery!!

Our strong, gorgeous steel frame :-)

The frame should be going up soon. I can't wait. Stay tuned for more photos!

12 June 2014

Birthday Week 2014: Recap

How was my birthday week? I thought you'd never ask!

There was dinner out with a friend (and for which another friend availed us of her private taxi service!)

There were cupcakes at playgroup brought in by a friend. These aren't all for me - we had a few birthdays to celebrate at once.

I love the little cake toppers she made. Do they look familiar? My talented friend made something similar for another occasion a couple of months back :-)

I had a beautiful lazy day on my birthday. Nowhere to be, nothing to do except to enjoy my loved ones. Dinner out on the night wrapped it up beautifully.

I got some lovely prezzies too - some I chose for myself and others were a surprise. MissyMoo1(7) made me a loom band necklace and MissyMoo2(4) picked out a blingy pink ring just for me!

10 June 2014

The Time of Her Life

This is amazing, but I have been published in a magazine!

My article appeared here on 3 June: http://www.mn.catholic.org.au/news-events/aurora/20140603-136/the-time-of-her-life

I have reproduced it below for your viewing pleasure :-)

I hear my young child calling out in the middle of the night. She must have kicked her blankets off again. She must be cold. I am cosy and warm. My blankets envelope me, tempting me to remain where I am, but I know what I must do. I get up and make my way to my daughter’s room. I pull the blankets up over her small, curled up body and rub her back to warm her. While I am up, I check on her two older sisters, then finally make my way to my own blankets which have lost a bit of their warmth, as I chase the sleep which has abandoned me.

Why leave the comfort of a warm bed to tend to another? For love.

I hug and kiss my beautiful daughter, then wave goodbye, leaving her in the care of another as I commence the day’s paid employment. My heart is torn on a regular basis, but this is a choice we have made as a family, this is my attempt at contributing to our financial security, so my husband and I can both provide for our children’s futures.

Why would I forgo time spent with my children? Funnily enough, for love.

In the evenings after my children are asleep, the lure of an unread book, a movie waiting in its dvd cover or an early night to sleep can be incredibly tempting. Sometimes, though, I make comfort wait. Instead I sit at the computer and tap away, creating.

Why work into the night on an unpaid piece of writing? For love.

In this time in my life, I am many things to many people. I am a wife to my incredible husband. I am a mother to three wonderful daughters aged seven, four and two. I am a professional who works 20 hours per week, a hobby-blogger and a debut novelist. I also co-ordinate my daughters’ weekly playgroup and my husband and I are in the thick of building a house. I am a daughter, a friend and a parishioner.

This time in my life is full and demanding as I attempt to meet the needs of many with the finite resources of time and energy. However, the infinite resource of love grows more bountiful the more it is used. Love is such a powerful motivation to do so many things. Love for my family. Love for and through my faith. Love for my interests.

Fitting everything in can sometimes seem like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle with one too many pieces. Sometimes a piece of the jigsaw puzzle needs to be put to one side for a while to manage things. An after-school activity might need to be dropped, the blogging might slow down, or we might not socialise for a while. Although love is an infinite resource, it is not a superpower which makes everything possible all the time. Sometimes compromises must be made. Sometimes help must be asked of others. In making decisions about compromise, we prioritise. And in this, I am guided by love.

“Having it all” is a fantasy we are constantly being sold. “Wanting it all” is an aspiration I admit to having. I can wear myself out trying to do so much and fit it “all” in, trying to be the best of everything, when everything encompasses so much. And then I inevitably stop. I slow down. I reflect. I realise, again, that the “all” we are told to have and for which I strive is a subjective thing. My “all” is not what I am sold in magazines. My “all” is the sum of my loves. So I have no reservations in wanting my “all”, in working for it, in living it. For my “all”, I strive every day.

Although it can be draining, testing and demanding, it is absolutely worth it. In this time in my life, I am having the time of my life.

09 June 2014

Birthday Party Invitation

There has been a birthday feel around Casa di Francesca lately, but actually, this post is not about me.

A couple of weeks ago, MissyMoo3 (2) attended a birthday party. It was quite special because it was the first time she had been invited to a party. The party was for a little girl in her day care room who was turning three. It wasn't an invitation to a family friend's child's party or a friend of one of her sisters allowing siblings to tag along. It was an invitation to MissyMoo3 from her friend - a friend she had made all by herself through her interactions at day care.

When MissyMoo3 received this invitation, it was yet another indication (there have been a few lately!) that my baby girl is growing up. She plays independently, interacts with other children and she is choosing her friends. It is great to see.

I took her to the party and it was lovely to watch all the little kids playing together (and around one another - let's face it, two and three-year-olds don't always play together), beginning to find their way socially. And I'll get to see it all again in a week - she has been invited to another party!

07 June 2014

Francesca's Festa of Favourites: June 2014

 Let's have a Festa!! 

Welcome to the June 2014 edition of
Francesca Writes Here

Festeggiamo! (Let's party)

"Festa" in Italian means a celebration, a party (and, if you look around this blog long enough, you'll see that I'm a fan of throwing Italian words around). This is a place where you can add links to your favourite posts for a given month (this time, it's June 2014), 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 entertaining, written by you or anybody else.

I add some of the posts, from blogs I read regularly, so you might see the same bloggers cropping up over the months. I love being able to use this space to bookmark my favourite blog posts for the month. But, more importantly, I love seeing what everyone else likes reading - it helps me discover new blogs I might not otherwise have seen and it's a great way of sharing the bloggy love. So feel free to link up as many of your favourite posts as you like during the course of the month.

If you've linked a post or had one of your blog posts linked by someone else, why not add the button to your blog and help spread the word :-)

Also, each month I like to choose a post from the previous month's linky party to showcase. I think it's a great way of showing off other bloggers in my own little corner of blogland. This month, at the risk of creating work for myself, I'm going to write a little summary of last month's linked posts before highlighting one post in particular. Here goes:

May 2014 Festa Recap

Drumroll for the .... Pick of the May bunch (in my humble opinion)

The May Festa Favourite is:

Your Body Talks....Sometimes It Screams - Are You Listening? by Your Body Kinesiology.

This lovely lady is a friend of mine in real life - she is B's sister but has now become a friend in her own right in the past year or so. I had known she had been ill shortly before moving back to this area 12 months ago, but I had no idea of the severity of it or of the inspirational progress she has made since. I was moved to tears not once, but twice, reading her blog post.

Now, let's get this festa started for Francesca's Festa of Favourites in June 2014. Happy linking!

04 June 2014

Play Dough at Playgroup

You've read about playgroup before. You've seen my play dough recipe before. Well I recently combined the two into a play-play-dough-group extravaganza!

You may think I'm exaggerating by calling it an extravaganza, but I most certainly am not. It was all kinds of awesome.

After dropping MissyMoo1 (7) off at school in the morning, MissyMoo2 (4), MissyMoo3 (2) and I headed back home for some serious play dough making. They, perched up on the kitchen bench stools, asked for all the colours of the rainbow while I got the ingredients out. I decided to be a clever clogs and, whenever a new colour was suggested, I would ask the little MissyMoos to tell me how we might make that colour using different combinations of the food colouring we had on hand.

I silently congratulated myself on turning it into an educational experience - usually I don't think of that stuff until later. Maybe I'm getting better at this parenting gig after all.

We ended up making orange, green, yellow, red and purple. Yeah, there was a lot of play dough.

It was a hit!

Being a sunny, still, warm autumn morning, I set up the craft tables outside our meeting hall on the grass. The kids were able to enjoy the sunshine and their play dough at the same time.

For the first time in a long time (notice I didn't say "forever" so as to not get the "Frozen" song in my head ... doh!), all of the children were sitting up doing craft all the same time for around 10 to 15 minutes. They were just so into it. It was remarkable. Jackpot! We'll be doing that again!

02 June 2014

La Prima Indagine di Montalbano - Andrea Camilleri

Image source

In questo libro ci sono tre storie (casi) di Montalbano. Come ho scritto dopo leggere Gli Arancini di Montalbano, ho piaciuto leggere questo libro nella lingua originale del autore. C'è qual'cosa di speciale del dialetto siciliano che tengo nel mio cuore. Anche che non ho capace di parlarlo, leggere in questo dialetto mi fa ricordare come parlavano i miei nonni.

There are three Montalbano stories (cases) in this book. As I wrote after reading Gli Arancini di Montalbano, I enjoyed reading this book in the author's original language. There's something special about the Sicilian dialect that I hold dear in my heart. Even though I can't really speak it, reading in this dialect reminds me of how my grandparents spoke.

A Gli Arancini di Montalbano ho date 4 stelle. Ma a La Prima Indagine di Montalbano, ho deciso che si merita di più. Quindi l'ho dato 5 stelle. Perchè?

I gave 4 stars to Gli Arancini di Montalbano.  But I decided that La Prima Indagine di Montalbano deserved more. So I gave it 5 stars. Why?

Forse la prima ragione è perchè l'ho capito meglio.

Maybe the first reason is because I understood it better.

Ma c'è anche un'altra ragione: una storia era "la prima indagine". Quindi, ho visto un po' di Montalbano prima del suo arrivo a Vigàta. Camilleri ha fatto l'introduzione a Montalbano in questo racconto e anche, quando Montalbano è arrivato a Vigàta, incontriamo per la prima volta gli altri personaggi nella vita di Montalbano: Fazio, Augello, Catarella. E questo incontro e l'introduzione che mi ho piaciuto molto.

But there's also another reason: one of the stories is "the first case". Because of this, I saw a bit of Montalbano before he arrived in Vigàta. Camilleri introduced Montalbano in this story and also, when Montalbano arrived in Vigàta, we meet for the first time the other characters in Montalbano's life: Fazio, Augello, Catarella. It's this meeting and introduction which I really liked.

Book: Paperback. Borrowed from Nonna.
Rating: I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads.
One-liner: My favourite so far of the Montalbano collections I've read.

01 June 2014

Birthday Week 2014

You may know that we are fans of the birthday week here in Casa di Francesca. And now a birthday week is commencing and I'm happy to say that it's mine!

(If you have no idea what I'm on about click here to read my explanation of the birthday week.)

I've been feeling fairly flat over the last week or so - nothing to worry about, just a combination of a few of life's "quirks" as well as generally being worn out. And when I'm tired, I succumb to the grumps more easily. But it's birthday week now, so I have decided to go easy on the grumping. I have a few nice things planned towards the end of the week, so I have a lot to look forward to. When I'm feeling overwhelmed or snappy, I'll remind myself of the time of year - perhaps I'll sing "birthday week, birthday week" in my mind (or even out loud - hey, whatever works) - and that will snap me right out of snappiness and into happiness!

Do you drag the birthday on for a while in your household? Or are you a firmly birthday kind of family?

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