30 September 2015

School Holiday Mothering

School holidays require a different kind of juggling in our home. It's always a challenge keeping the MissyMoos entertained, while also trying to give them a rest, all while arranging who will look after them on our common work days. And it seems like one set of holidays have only just finished when we're already having to think about arrangements for the next set.

Don't get me wrong. I love school holidays. I love that the MissyMoos can just have down time without being rushed around so much. Even when I still work my normal days, it feels like I have more time with them simply because we're all a bit more relaxed. And I love not having to pack lunch boxes every morning.

A desperate attempt to make the contents of a lunch box more interesting. Tell me I'm not the only one who's done this!

Over the past couple of holidays, the MissyMoos have had a one night sleepover at their Nonna and Par's house. It gives them a change of scene, they get spoiled by their grandparents and it gives Hubby and I a bit of quiet (oh, so much quiet...). Even though we're working our normal days/times when this happens, it feels like we have so much more time because we're not getting kids ready in the morning, or doing the bath/bed routine at night. We didn't know how good we had it back when we used to trot off to work with only ourselves to look after.

Still, I missed the MissyMoos. And even without children in the house, I still couldn't quite stop the mothering...

What? She was cold...

03 September 2015

Yes, I'm Still Here!

Contact from a reader yesterday prompted me to write today's post. And now I realise that the whole of August went by without a blog post. Although there was coffee...

Yes, I am still here ☺

Despite its abrupt end on the blog, my non-travel diary actually went quite well in my notebook. But at the end of each day of my holiday, dare I say it ...  I didn't want to blog.

As has happened to me a few times now, blogging got un-fun. It became a chore. So I stopped doing it.

Now, after 5 weeks or so off, I finally feel like blogging again. But I know myself better now. I will only blog in dribs and drabs. Life is too full to do any more than that!

What's life full of?

  • A husband I love and with whom want to spend lots of time
  • Three gorgeous daughters, aged 8, 6 & 3 - all with their own personalities, lives and needs
  • Work - 4 days per week of it
  • Volunteering - coordinating MissyMoo3's playgroup and helping out at big school are things I love to do, but there goes my day off work!
  • Groceries, vacuuming, meal planning, washing ironing - you know the drill
  • Reading - I am loving reading right now, more than I have in a long time
  • Writing - I'm not writing on the blog, but I am writing elsewhere ... yes, the sequel to Returning is well underway!

29 July 2015

Non-Travel Holiday Diary - Day 3

  • 13,765 steps
  • MissyMoo1 (8) and MissyMoo2 (6) went to their usual before school care and Hubby had a rostered day off work, so he, MissyMoo3 (3) and I went out for breakfast.
  • Then it was off to Bunnings, as we're starting to work on the yard.
  • House pottering (washing, general tidying up)
  • Out for lunch with a good friend and MissyMoo3, which lasted until school pick-up time!
  • MissyMoo1 had a friend over to play (her turn!)
  • Blogging
  • Ironing (there is no holiday from ironing!)

28 July 2015

Non-Travel Holiday Diary - Day 2

  • 14,274 steps
  • Had MissyMoo3 (3) at home with me
  • Did reading with MissyMoo2's (6) kindy class = beautiful. I love getting to know the kids and I love how happy it makes my kids when I can help out at school.
  • Visited my grandmother - she's had a rough couple of months with her health. She was in great spirits, telling me stories about her siblings growing up. So nice to just sit and listen to her.
  • Took MissyMoo3 to the library and borrowed books for all the kids (and me too!)
  • Home for lunch and a play
  • A friend came over for coffee.
  • Picked the big kids up from school
  • MissyMoo2 had a friend over to play (something we can't usually do, as I walk through the door at dinner time on a Tuesday when I'm working)
  • Out for dinner with friends = lots of laughs.

27 July 2015

Non-Travel Holiday Diary - Day 1

Monday - "official" day 1 of holiday:

  • 14,426 steps.
  • KIDDY FREE! MissyMoos 1 (8) and 2 (6) at school; MissyMoo3 (3) at pre-school.
  • No rushed drop-off = a win for me and for the kids
  • Mopped the floors - this might not sound like fun but doing it uninterrupted was as close to fun as it could get. There were no little feet running through, slipping over. And the floors were clean for more than just a few minutes.
  • 2 cups of coffee completely consumed.
  • Menu planning followed through with grocery shopping ... alone. I finally feel like home life won't be a scramble this week.
  • Reading
  • Picked MissyMoo3 up early from pre-school and had time to talk to her teachers about her day.
  • Picked MissyMoos1&2 up from school (they usually come home on the bus) and took all three kiddies out for afternoon tea at the bakery.
  • Made bolognese and even had sufficient reserves of patience to allow MissyMoo1 to help.
  • Blogged.

Good start, says I.

Holiday at Home

Guess who has three weeks off work?!

Jealous much?

When my parents gave me the dates for a holiday they were planning (which means we need to find alternative childcare arrangements for MissyMoo3 instead of Nonna two days per week) and those dates fell during the school term, I wasn't terribly excited about having to take annual leave while the kids were at school and not be able to do cool stuff with them. But my thinking has shifted.

As you would have noticed from my sporadic blogging activity and some recent posts (here, for example) touching on the subject, I haven't been feeling terribly relaxed in recent months.

I now have three weeks just to be "mum" and "Francesca".

Three weeks which include a few completely child-free days!

I have decided to attempt a "holiday diary" of sorts on the blog. Think travel diary but without the travel part. I want to look back on this period with a smile when I'm back into the swing of things at work. I want to make sure that I do something for "Francesca" every day as well as enjoying my cameo appearance as a stay-at-home mum.

The break started off with a bang - the night following my last day at work, we had a playgroup mum night in at my place where the wine and laughter flowed. This began a weekend of family time and socialising.

So buckle up, readers. This blog just got busy again.

26 July 2015

Francesca's Festa of Favourites: July 2015

Francesca Writes Here

Hello and welcome to the second half 2015 - eek! How did that happen?!

Before we go hurtling towards Christmas, lets look back to the month that was. We had some great June reading. Here's what was linked up:

My favourite favourite for June was written by Kelly at A Life Less Frantic.

She wrote about the semi-colon as a symbol to pause and then keep going. There are times when a full stop might seem like a solution; but a semi-colon allows you to take the time you need, breathe, collect yourself, and then move forward to the next ph(r)ase.

Powerful stuff.

Moving on now to now. How has July been going for you? Can you believe we're in the second half of the year?!  Wanna join in a festa to celebrate/commiserate?


"Festa" in Italian means "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 July 2015, but here's the difference: they don't have to be posts you've written (but they can be). You can link to any blog post from July 2015. 

Have you read or written something moving, funny, informative or otherwise awesome? Link it ☺

There are no rules here - it's pretty laid back. There is no obligation to read and comment on all the posts if you link up, but of course you can if you want to.

If you've linked a post or had one of your blog posts linked by someone else, you're welcome to add the Festa button to your blog. The hashtag is #frafesta for social media sharing.

Time to get linking. I'm looking forward to reading your July jewels.

24 July 2015

So ... How About the Weather?

Thanks Facebook. You showed me an endless stream of photos of people in my hometown building these:

Hey, how's it going?

When I was growing up there, we generally got the cold without the snow. Now in my current home, oh yes, we got the cold without the snow. Ice on the windscreen did happen, though. That was pretty cool.

In an attempt to embrace winter instead of complain about it, we recently had a "Winter  Wonderland" day at playgroup. The kids arrived dressed in their beanies, scarves mittens etc ready for a winter-themed play morning.

We started off making paper snowflakes (don't ask me how, I've forgotten. Google it!)

Then the kids went outside to gather some sticks. We made a "fire" (orange crepe paper) and sat around it reading stories. It was just beautiful.

16 July 2015

A Cat's Life

In the recent cold weather, The Fat Cat has made herself comfortable ...

... extremely comfortable ...

15 July 2015

2015 Reading Challenge: Goals and Greatness

Back in February, I wrote a bit of a wrap-up of my 2014 reading adventures. I had hoped to follow this up with a bit about my reading plans for this year ... and it's now July.

The good news is that I have been reading a lot more than I have been blogging!

This year on Goodreads, I set myself a challenge of reading 50 books in 2015 and I'm pleased to say that I'm on track so far. Now before you fall off your seats at the realisation that this year's goal is almost twice the number of books I read last year, allow me to explain.

I've been quite interested in reading some of the books MissyMoo1 (8) likes to read - I'd like to get to know her tastes and talk to her about reading. So I set the goal at 50 with the intention that a decent number of them would be children's novels. So when I say 50, it will probably be more like the equivalent of 30 adult books by the time the year is out!

Setting myself goals for reading can sometimes mean for me the difference between picking up a book and not. And I have read some amazing stuff already this year, so I am grateful for the greatness the challenge has led me to.


Do you set yourself a reading challenge each year?

Are you on Goodreads? Look me up if you are

14 July 2015

A Pink Craft Explosion!

This is probably how you could describe my house much of the time with three daughters all keen on getting creative in their own ways.

But today I blog about a particular occasion ... which actually happened in November last year, but it's better late than never to write about it, while I retrieve my blogging mojo from the swamp of apathy.

MissyMoo1 (8) had a birthday sleepover to celebrate turning eight. She was allowed three friends to stay the night (any more and things could have been scary for her poor mother i.e. me!). We hadn't been in the house long and didn't have any grass in the yard, so having more friends over at that point really wasn't an option.

It was a busy 18 hours. With six kids in the house (and the fact that it was a "party"), there was constant preparing of food, eating, clearing up, getting the next activity ready. But you know, I really enjoyed the lead-up to the weekend and the party itself. Cruising the shops for craft and party supplies, setting it all up and seeing happy kids' faces was very special.

It's a privilege to see the girls' friendships develop as they're growing. It's also wonderful to see them do different things together and get to know them all and their interests. But basically, with a bunch of 8-year-old girls, if there's food, music and craft, you can't go wrong!

A picture says a thousand words

I would do it again ... but maybe I'm just saying that because eight months have passed!

04 July 2015

The Glass is Half Full ... of Rain!

I could whine about the sudden torrential downpour which occurred in my lunch break when I had just been to the shops (without my umbrella)...


I could focus on my good fortune at having parked the car halfway between the shops and the office so I was able to bunker down in the white bus until the worst of it passed.

What would you do?


Things have been really bloody hard lately. And so much of what is troubling me aren't my stories to tell, or they're not things I feel comfortable with sharing here.

So on the blog, I've preferred to remain silent rather than unauthentic.

Now, this changes.

No I'm not going to spill about the shitty stuff. But there is still so much good in life. There are still so many great stories to tell. Birthdays, laughter, gorgeousness of people and surroundings. I choose to tell them. No more silence. I choose to reclaim the time I have sacrificed on this blog.

You might not get the full picture, but does anybody get the full picture about another human being? Do we ever truly know anybody else completely? We can get close in the most intimate of relationships, but on a blog? No, this blog doesn't make you know me. But you get to know a bit about me. You get to find camaraderie in the similarity of our experiences, or you get to juxtapose your completely different path in life against mine. You get from this blog whatever you take. And I give only what I can give.

Thanks for sticking by, friends.

25 June 2015

Francesca's Festa of Favourites: June 2015

Francesca Writes Here

I made it! I had you wondering, didn't I? I had me wondering too ☺

I know it was a long time ago, but there were 23 posts linked up to the May festa. Let's recap.

My favourite favourite for May was written by Jess at Essentially Jess.

As she says, kindness is cool. Jess suggests 30 ways to be kind in her blog post. Oh and if you happen to blog on Tuesdays, check out her brilliant #ibot link-up from which I have been absent for an eternity (sorry Jess).

So that was May. What have you all been up to in June? Tell me all about it ☺


"Festa" in Italian means "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 May 2015, but here's the difference: they don't have to be posts you've written (but they can be). You can link to any post from June 2015, written by you or anybody else. 

Have you read or written something moving, funny, informative or otherwise awesome? Link it ☺

There are no rules here - it's pretty laid back. There is no obligation to read and comment on all the posts if you link up, but of course you can if you want to.

If you've linked a post or had one of your blog posts linked by someone else, you're welcome to add the Festa button to your blog. Hashtag is #frafesta for social media sharing.

Time to get linking. I'm looking forward to reading your June jewels.

13 June 2015

Just a Few Photos to Get You Through Winter

If the cold weather is getting you down, just remember, this was only a few months ago and in a few months' time, it'll be back.

12 June 2015

Book Club Twins

Okay so this post is waaaay overdue, but I would like to tell you a story.

There once was a book club called the Old Ducks Book Club. Its name was slightly misleading, as the members were not old, nor were they really ducks. Also, they quite often did not read the month's allocated book and rarely spoke about it (but if their husbands ask, it's a highly intellectual literary gathering!).

At one of the monthly gatherings in 2014 (I told you the post was overdue), the youngest *duck announced that she was pregnant. All the *old *ducks jumped for joy (some literally) with tears in their eyes. When the youngest *duck continued that she was pregnant with twins, the *old *ducks jumped for joy again (more literally), squealed and cried some more.

The young pregnant duck was new in town and lived very far away from her family. The *old *ducks decided that a surprise baby shower was very necessary. Not too soon, so that there was time to get organised, but not too late such that the surprise ... ahem ... started something.

The male/female identity was to remain a mystery until the birth, so we hedged our bets.

Needless to say, the young *duck was very surprised and very happy.

The twins (both girls) are now 6 months old and endearing us all to their lovely individual personalities.

Isn't life amazing?!!

10 June 2015

Having a Local Shop Stock My Book is Extremely Awesome

Having a few copies of Returning lying around, I thought I'd approach a local newsagency to see if they'd be interested in stocking the book.

Now this might seem simple enough, but I can be quite shy (no, really). The idea of putting myself out there in person and saying to a business owner not only: "Hey I wrote a book", but also: "You should totally stock it" seemed very daunting.

But after a few weeks of thinking about it, I motivated myself by telling me that if I didn't do it that day I'd be a chickeny chicken pants and could never whinge about not selling books again. I also made myself understand that the worst that could happen would be that they said no. And that's not so bad. (Some really interesting stuff goes on in my head, hey ?!)

So I asked. And guess what? They said YES! Not only did they say yes, but they said: "Yes and can you give us some promotional material so we can have a display for you. We love supporting local authors."


Since then, other things have naturally had to take pride of place at the very front of the store, but the lovely people there have kept it at the front section of the shop for me.

If you're in the Lake Macquarie area, be sure to check out Warners Bay Newsagency. Tell them Francesca sent you!

On a related note, the Facebook post for this one went off the chart as far as reach is concerned, relatively speaking. Goes to show that sharing is caring!

06 June 2015

Birthdays are a Great TimeTo Evaluate Things

I've been a big ball of stress lately. I can feel it. In my chest. A big ball of stress, clenching, pulling at me, stretching me.

Right now, it feels as if every single facet of my life is putting pressure on me in some way. Some of these are only small and others seem quite substantial. There are so many things impacting upon me, but most of them aren't my story to tell.

I want to enjoy my life. I want to spend some time with my family. But I'm so grumpy. More than grumpy. Sometimes, left alone with my thoughts, I feel quite angry. And/or sulky. I love nothing more than to dance around the living room with the MissyMoos and when, we do this, it's great. But it doesn't happen often enough for my liking. Instead of appreciating all the awesomeness in life, I find myself rolling around in the sh!t life is throwing our way.

I want to hang out with friends, but I sometimes feel a little on the outer. I know this has nothing to do with my friends and everything to do with my inability to relax right now.

I'm trying to get rid of the word "should" from my self-talk. But eliminating the word " should" is hard to do when so many things in life feel like obligations. I think eliminating "should" is unrealistic as a working parent. But reducing "shoulds" is achievable and something I'm aiming for.

The trouble is, I know what I need to do for stress management. I've read all about it, I've got people talking at me about it, and those things are all beginning to sound like "shoulds" too. 

I'm sick of being told what to do.

I'm about to turn 34, why am I still "obedient" ... to my "should" thoughts, to other people, to life?

I appreciate kindness from others, I appreciate consideration and caring people give and share. I am sometimes (pleasantly) surprised by people's warmth, although I needn't be surprised, because there is so much good in so many people, particularly those in my life and community.

I know what brings me joy and what reduces my stress. Funnily enough, I know me. It's a great thing about getting older. I don't need suggestions. I don't need "advice". I need time and space to choose what's right for me. And recognition from would-be advice givers that what relaxes you might actually stress me out ... and vice versa! Like I said, one great thing about getting older is that I know me.

I don't like to be pushed out of my comfort zone all the time - sometimes is fine to help me "grow" but a barrage of challenges is just bloody hard work. I'm not fussed about going to the hairdresser or getting my nails done. Spending heaps of money on "stuff" makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't like being disorganised.

I like to stay at home and dance with the MissyMoos, or cuddle up with a story, or tell funny jokes. A bit of time away from calls of "mum" is nice, but I genuinely enjoy spending time with them. They're cool little people. I like to go to the shops to buy pretty house stuff (but not the try-hard Sydney-imitation shopping centres a 40 minute drive away - local is more my thing). I like to turn the volume up and belt out a few tunes on the drive home from work. I like going for walks. I like playing guitar. I like reading. I like knitting. I like writing. Praying works for me.

I haven't made much headway into making my house a home because I've been trying to keep my head above water. But that's a vicious cycle. Doing the little things each day which will reduce my stress levels are also, in part, going to make our house feel more like home. It's all about feeling comfortable.

So, for the age of 34, I am going to try to own my knowledge of me. To do what I know to be best for me and for my family. To enjoy and increase the comforts of home. To have some time out (but not so much that I feel disconnected from my loved ones). To spend time with friends. To pray. To write lists that help me, but not overwhelm me. To take charge of my wellbeing.

01 June 2015

Two Green Thumbs Up!

Did I tell you about the time I single-handedly turfed our yard?

No? Oh good, because it didn't happen.

What I actually did was, with Hubby, turf our front and side yards. It was a while ago - December 2014 - but every day I look outside and love that we did it. I appreciate it all the more knowing the time and energy that we put into it ourselves.

It made an instant difference to the place, crossing the line from a building site look to that of a lived-in house. It gave the MissyMoos somewhere to play outside and reduced the amount of dirt and dust making its way into the house.

Also, doing it was FUN! Often, when we're not used to physical work, doing some can seem like a big deal. But I actually really like it. It's great getting outside, moving around and having something to show for it at the end. I love being able to point at something tangible and say: "I did that".

It was also heaps of fun being sprayed by the hose afterwards, even if it caught me by surprise! Nice one, honey xx

Never in this universe can I say that I have a green thumb. But I'm hoping to change that as we slowly get our yard and garden started. Hopefully having two thumbs covered in green grass was a sign of things to come!

Just as an aside, looking at this photo, I am amazed at how quickly our surroundings have changed. Six months ago, when this was taken, we were the only people living in the street, with a couple of new houses nearing completion. Now, there are four houses occupied, another about to be this week, on the vacant block pictured next to us is now a house a few weeks away from handover, and two more blocks are starting their cut & fill. The good thing about all this progress is that, as we'll soon have neighbours all around us, we can get the fencing completed and shift our focus inward - to getting our yard the way we want it and enjoying the whole block as well as the house.

18 May 2015

Eurovision 2015!

Yes, it's that time of year again.

Image source

As you may, know, I'm into Eurovision.

This year, it's even better than ever because, as part of the 60th anniversary of Eurovision, Australia has been invited to participate as a reward for our devotion to this musical institution! And as an added bonus, we get to vote!

Given the increased importance of this year's event for Australians, I decided to do something I have never done before to prepare myself. I watched the preview videos. Yes, every single one. So you are now reading my most researched blog post ever.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality this year. Last year's contest was a little disappointing to me, so much so that I did not purchase the 2014 CD to add to my collection of 2013, 2012 and 2002 competition songs. This year, my faith in Eurovision has been restored and the 2015 CD will be on order soon!

As well as most of the songs being ones I would happily listen to again, there are still a few non-English speaking countries singing songs in their country's native language! Thank you! Part of Europe's beauty is its rich cultural diversity and it has so many beautiful languages which are not showcased because they'd rather try to grab votes by singing in English. I get it, more people understand and connect with the lyrics if it's in English. But in my opinion, a huge cultural and linguistic opportunity is lost every year in doing so. Rant over.

Before I rank the entrants according to my preference, let me just say that Guy Sebastian was a fantastic choice to represent Australia at Eurovision. I intended to rank his song highly even if it was crappy, but I did not need to artificially rank him - he'll do us proud.

I preface the following ranking with the comment that I only watched each preview video once and over a few nights, so some of the middle order could be moved around. I could also change my mind after watching the performances. But without further ado, here are my preview rankings of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest entrants!

  1. Italy:  "Il Grande Amore" sung by Il Volo - I'm sorry Guy, I really wanted to put you first and Italy second according to my personal allegiances, but here's the thing(s): three Italian men singing in Italian in operatic voices, with an obvious sense of humour in their filmclip which re-enacts love scenes in "Ghost", "Spider-Man" and "Back to the Future"!!! It's like they know me.
  2. Australia: "Tonight Again" sung by Guy Sebastian - bloody brilliant! Catchy, awesome, all the good things about Guy. Lots of fun, great filmclip too. It will be a party onstage on the night.
  3. Hungary: "Wars for Nothing" sung by Boggie - beautiful voice, beautiful song, beautiful harmonies, beautiful message.
  4. Spain: "Amanecer" sung by Edurne - powerful, moving and sung in Spanish - yay!
  5. Lithuania: "This Time" sung by Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila - so catchy, fun, full of laughter and niceness.
  6. Albania: "I'm Alive" sung by Elhaida Dani - catchy song, great acoustic guitar intro, powerful pleasant voice. 
  7. Azerbaijan: "Hour of the Wolf" sung by Elnur Huseynov - powerful ballad, great voice, my kind of song.
  8. Iceland: "Unbroken" sung by Maria Olafs - beautiful song, catchy, great voice. A hit!
  9. Russia: "A Million Voices" sung by Polina Gagarina - anthem alright!
  10. Norway: "A Monster Like Me" sung by Mørland and Debrah Scarlett - yes, great duet!
  11. Greece: "One Last Breath" sung by Maria Elena Kyriakou. - great powerful song, key change , love ballads.
  12. Denmark: "The Way You Are " sung by Anti Social Media- so catchy, just great.
  13. Romania: "De La Capat / All Over Again" sung by Voltaj - just wow, I may have wiped away a tear.
  14. Estonia: "Goodbye to Yesterday " sung by Elina Born and Stig Rästa - really good duet. Clever, not overpowering. 
  15. Austria: "I Am Yours" sung by The Makemakes - good slow rock sound, love the piano.
  16. Poland: "In the Name of Love " sung by Monika Kuszyńska - moving, beautiful, especially when you read the back-story.
  17. Ireland: "Playing with Numbers" sung by Molly Sterling - I really liked this song, it shouldn't be this low on the list except that I like the ones above it too. I'd like to hear more of Molly in future.
  18. Malta: "Warrior" sung by Amber - great voice, powerful song.
  19. Israel: "Golden Boy" sung by Nadav Guedj - EUROVISION! Not just another pop song, but one with a bit of flavour from the country it represents, YES!
  20. France: "N'oubliez pas" sung by Lisa Angell - very nice, great voice and you can count on the French not to sing in English!
  21. Slovenia: "Here for You" sung by Maraaya - catchy, cool indie pop.
  22. San Marino: "Chain of Lights" sung by Anita Simoncini and Michele Perniola - sweet, like high school musical with Italian accents.
  23. Portugal: "Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa" sung by Leonor Andrade - I liked the chorus, the language, but as a package it seemed to lack something.
  24. Montenegro: "Adio" sung by Knez - yay, another song sung in the country's language!
  25. FYR Macedonia: "Autumn Leaves " sung by Daniel Kajmakoski - I liked this.
  26. The Netherlands: "Walk Along" sung by Trijntje Oosterhuis - catchy, love the guitar, I think this will grow on me the more I listen to it.
  27. UK: "Still In Love With You" sung by Electro Velvet - catchy, loved the sound and scat.
  28. Belarus: "Time" sung by Uzuri and Maimuna - I didn't like it much at first but the violin was incredible and by the end, I was humming the catchy chorus.
  29. Germany: "Black Smoke" sung by Ann Sophie - confident performance but the song didn't really stand out in my opinion.
  30. Georgia: "Warrior" sung by Nina Sublatti - not bad, ok.
  31. Czech Republic: "Hope Never Dies" sung by Marta Jandová and Václav Noid - good duet, doesn't stand out though.
  32. Armenia: "Face the Shadow" sung by Geneology - different. I like the idea of a person in the group from each continent all linked by their Armenian heritage. The song may grow on me.
  33. Sweden: "Heroes" sung by Måns Zelmerlöw - cross between Mumford and Sons and Crash Test Dummies.
  34. Cyprus: "The One Thing I Should Have Done" sung by John Karayiannis - nice, but boring.
  35. Switzerland: "Time to Shine" sung by Mélanie René - cliché, uninteresting. Credit, though, that the singer wrote her own song.
  36. Serbia: "Beauty Never Lies" sung by Bojana Stamenov - I wanted to like it, but it was boring.
  37. Moldova: "I Want Your Love " sung by Eduard Romanyuta - b grade pop song. Boring.
  38. Latvia: "Love Injected" sung by Aminata - tried too hard, disjointed, not my thing.
  39. Belgium: "Rhythm Inside" sung by Loïc Nottet - boring.
  40. Finland: "Aina Min Pitää" sung by Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät- I'm just not into Finnish punk. At. All.
So there you go, some food for thought. Now I'm looking forward to watching the performances in the contest. Not sure if I'm hard core enough to get up at 5am on a work day to watch the first semi-final though...

13 May 2015

A Cuppa Curve-Ball

We've started a new Wednesday morning routine whereby the two big MissyMoos go to morning OOSH at school. It's my attempt at a staged approach to when they'll have to be in morning OOSH twice per week next year when my office relocates further from home.

The perk this year is that I get to work early one day per week. Instead of heading straight to the office to start my day, though, I'm claiming that extra half hour for myself. It means that one morning each week, I sit at a café with a cup of coffee, something to eat and some writing time before I set foot in the office.

This new routine has only just started - last week was the first week. It was glorious! I had a small amount of time, but I made it worthwhile, gathering my thoughts and making some progress on the chapter I'm currently writing for the sequel to Returning.

So this morning, I was pumped for more. You can probably imagine my dismay when I was informed that the coffee machine was broken.

Feeling hungry and a little lazy, I didn't really want to go out to a different café. If I'm honest, I also felt a little sorry for the girl who was having to break the news to the steady stream of patrons in need of caffeination.

So I opted for English Breakfast tea.

As you know, tea is not often my hot drink of choice. But I thought about the wonderful wise words a friend of mine often speaks (check out her awesomeness here) about relinquishing control and just going with things. So I didn't order my tea begrudgingly; I ordered it with a smile. And when it arrived, it was so cute, with a little teapot, gorgeous cup and cute little milk pourer.

I found myself quite pleased that I hadn't moved along elsewhere in search of a coffee. In the end, I rather enjoyed it. As an added surprise to myself, when I got to the office, I didn't automatically go to the kitchen to make a cuppa. I rather enjoyed the tea taste and didn't want a coffee taste in my mouth (I know, who am I?)

Funny how a cuppa curve ball positively affected my morning ... because I let it. Maybe I'll order teas by choice at cafés now from time to time.

11 May 2015

10th Wedding Anniversary

A few weeks ago, Hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.

We had two nights away together - the first time in a long time we have had two consecutive nights MissyMoo-free when we weren't juggling work commitments.

To add to the romance, we stay at the same place, in the same room which we were in when Hubby proposed to me.

Fireplace in sitting area

We didn't actually put the fire on though, just admired it.

Courtyard at the back of the room

And it was called the "Library Suite" - be still my beating booklover's heart!

Had to take a photo of the cheese plate (or what was left of it when I remembered to take a photo)

We had a wonderful time together, reconnecting without the MissyMoos, as a couple, rather than as parents. Doing fun things, having laughs and eating great meals.

The dessert from our degustation menu meal with matched wine - very fancy!

It was so nice to be running on our own time, not having to do anything or be anywhere, just relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

It won't be another 10 years before we do something like that again :-)

I had to leave them a little souvenir - it is the "Library Suite" after all!

09 May 2015

Happy Mother's Day Eve

I'm getting in early, because if I don't say it now on the blog, it won't be said. (Tomorrow, blogging won't be on the brain).

I hope all mums, grandmothers and carers of all descriptions have a wonderful day tomorrow and I especially wish a happy day to my own Mamma who (still) does so much for me and loves us with all her heart.

I have no plans whatsoever, except to have a little lie-in including cuddles with the MissyMoos when they give me their creative delights first thing in the morning.

Grocery shopping was done today so it doesn't have to be done tomorrow. So now my slightly sniffly children are being sent to bed and I am enjoying a glass of pink bubbles on Mother's Day Eve!

07 May 2015

Francesca's Festa of Favourites: May 2015

Francesca Writes Here

Surprised? Yes, this post is up rather early in the month if you're judging by the past few months' efforts. Although, if you delve a little deeper into history (for example August 2013), you'll see that I used to post at the start of the month. The reason for that is, of course, to give all you lovely blog readers and writers plenty of time to link up. I mean, too bad if you stumbled upon an incredible piece of writing on the 2nd of the month and I didn't open the linky up until the 24th. Incredible as the post was, it's unlikely you would remember to add it with the whole nuisance of life getting in the way.

Thanks to those of you out there who are supporting this linky. The numbers of people other than myself linking posts is trending up! This is great for so many reasons, one being that it is introducing me to new blogs ☺

Here are the April favourites for your reminiscing pleasure.

My favourite favourite for April was written by Robin at Robin Kramer Writes. Robin wisely wrote about how so much of our lives are measured and that sometimes we can feed this measurement into our self-worth, when it should not dictate that at all. Check out Robin's post: "The Benefit of Not Measuring".

So that was April. Now let's look to May.


"Festa" in Italian means "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 May 2015, but here's the difference: they don't have to be posts you've written (but they can be). You can link to any post from May 2015, written by you or anybody else. 

Have you read or written something moving, funny, informative or otherwise awesome? Link it ☺

There are no rules here - it's pretty laid back. There is no obligation to read and comment on all the posts if you link up, but of course you can if you want to.

If you've linked a post or had one of your blog posts linked by someone else, you're welcome to add the Festa button to your blog. Hashtag is #frafesta for social media sharing.

Time to get linking. It's open all month. I'm looking forward to reading your May marvels.

04 May 2015

A Little Bloggy List...

She's got a little list,
She's got a little list, 
And they'll none of them be missed,
The'll none of them be missed.

Every time someone mentions having a little list, that ditty pops back into my head - a song from a musical I was in back in high school. It's funny what stays with you...

Anyway, I have digressed before even beginning.

Somewhere in this collection of piles of mess which is my house at the moment, there is a little notebook containing a list of blog post ideas. I have a feeling it may have been borrowed by a MissyMoo given it also holds a list of Premier's Reading Challenge books which we own and can be read without prior preparation (i.e. organising a trip to the library in my now extremely precious spare time). The fact that I need this list of blog post ideas at all demonstrates the shift that blogging has taken, from "integral to the adult interaction part of my life" as it was a few years ago, to "that thing I have online which nobody reads any more because I post on average only once per week" (that statement probably hasn't done my Kidspot chances any favours...).

The fact that I remember that I still have a blog is a positive thing. So is the occasional thought which enters my mind of "that could go on the blog" when I'm doing something interesting.

Trouble is, when I sit down to the computer, my mind goes completely blank.

Time to find that notebook.

30 April 2015

A Cyclone? Here? Who'd'a Thunk It?

So, there was sort of a cyclone around these parts last week.

And I'm actually not exaggerating that much, because according to www.bom.gov.au (my new favourite website) and various news articles, winds gusted up to 120km/h and the Category 2 bracket starts at 125km/h ... so, not exaggerating much.

I woke up to a massive crashing noise at 5am last Tuesday.

It turns out this had happened to our back fence:

The culprit?

Turn's out our neighbour's trampoline decided to go for a little fly, but it didn't quite get enough air and took out the fence instead! Luckily the trampoline's netting got caught on house next door's construction fence. It was a little scary seeing it flapping in the dark as the wind gusted around it. It was quickly secured, though, and everyone was fine. Hubby also took care of securing the loose colourbond sheeting safely - he's a clever one.

The biggest impact of the storm was lack of electricity. We were out for a total of 110 hours!!!

Speaking of my huband being clever, he bought a generator the day we lost power, which enabled us to keep the fridge going during the day, operate our wifi modem (our only method of communication, as our mobile signal disappeared and our landline was out for about 3 days too) and cook on our portable griller. Hot water ran out after a day, but we were able to boil jugs to warm the MissyMoos' baths. We still had to throw food away in the end, but we were able to keep the food a little longer and cook most of it up.

The newest member of our family

We decided the near-cyclonic conditions warranted letting The Fat Cat inside. Unfortunately, she took over my chair...

The most comfortable member of our family

Lanterns and torches were our light sources.

The MissyMoos got along great for the most part and rediscovered toys they hadn't played with in ages. There were dress-ups, babies, and lego cities being built around the place. An extension of their school holidays by a couple of days didn't hurt.

I learned a few things too: how to fuel and start the generator, for instance. If you'd asked me to fill a jerry can with petrol a couple of weeks ago, I'd have raised an eyebrow at you. Now, yeah, been there, done that!

By the time Saturday rolled around, we were ready for hot showers, so we went around to my parents' place to take advantage of their hospitality and were preparing to stay the night. After dinner, though, when our neighbour sent a message saying power was back on, we decided to go home and get settled in our home again. It was so wonderful to get comfortable and get a sense of normality again about the place.

It's amazing how much we rely on electricity and telecommunication for our modern way of life. It's also amazing to know that with a bit of ingenuity and enthusiasm, we can manage quite alright without it (for a few days).

Last night I went out for dinner with some friends and we toasted to electricity!!

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