Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Duchess of Cambridge And I Have Something In Common...

Aside from good looks and lovely husbands, Kate Middleton and I have something in common... we both suffered from BAD morning sickness, or Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
Here is an old blog I wrote but have revisited given the news of an impending royal baby and a sick Princess this week.
I have spent at least 60 weeks of my adult life staring into the bowl of a toilet. And that's not even including the four years I drunk my way through, whilst attempting to complete my teaching degree.

That's 60 weeks of riding the porcelain bus, doing the liquid laugh, calling Ralph on the porcelain phone and bowing before the porcelain God. Whatever you want to call it, I had the most severe morning sickness in all three of my pregnancies. The phrase 'morning sickness' causes me to roll my eyes in the most over exaggerated manner. Clearly it was a phrase invented by a man. Because any woman who has experienced this debilitating illness would testify to the fact that it is not only something you will experience in the morning.
The worst part about Hyperemesis is not being able to keep your pregnancy a secret for as long as you would like to, because it is obvious to everyone that something is wrong. I feel for Kate Middleton at the moment, who has to share her news to the world probably sooner than she would like. Alternatively, I am happy she is bringing this condition to the media. It's about time people knew the truth.
Below I have recounted the first 20 weeks of each of my pregnancies.

Baby 1:

I learned I was pregnant (officially) at 5 weeks. I was up in St George with my friend Kym a day or so later and we stopped for lunch. I couldn't eat it. I should have realised something was 'out of whack' then. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my food. But I have really only been in tune with my body since having been pregnant 3 times. That afternoon I arrived home and felt nauseous. This lasted into the early hours of the morning. The actual vomiting started the following day. And then it continued for 20 weeks. But let me get you into the head space of a woman who vomits every day for 20 weeks.

Take the worst hangover you have EVER had. Remember that feeling of not being able to move or think straight. The feel of every movement you make causing the room to spin and your stomach to lurch. And then the actual experience of emptying the contents of your tummy into your little toilet friend. Then multiply that feeling by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 20 weeks. And I was lucky. Some women have it even worse.

I lost 6 kg in two weeks. And on my frame, that is really something. My face was gaunt and I looked like death warmed up. Sleep is your only respite. Your waking hours are spent counting minutes between your visits to the bathroom. If you can even make it that far. I became very well acquainted with a bucket.

One morning I woke up and just cried and cried. I wondered how much my body (and more specifically my baby) could take? You get dehydrated (I couldn't hold down water, let alone food of any description), and that starts to do funny things to your mind. I was starting to wonder if any baby could possibly be worth all the 'pain'. Of course, having had 3 babies, I know it is completely worth it. But in that time and head space, you really do wonder. It does become a mental thing. You become more and more dpressed. You wish it would all end, and you you hate yourself for not being stronger. I have an aunt who sent me a book on 'morning sickness' and potential remedies. People suggested tea, and crackers and ginger, but nothing was working for me. I couldn't even hold down water. But the book did help, in that it made me feel like I wasn't alone. It even spoke of some women who cannot complete the pregnancy for the reasons I described above. I truly sympathise with those women. You can't imagine how horrible things can be for them. ANYWAY... On the morning I woke up crying, I decided enough was enough. I checked myself into the local hospital. I needed to be hydrated, or something! Several hours later I sat alone in my own room, hooked up to a drip, dosed up on Maxalon (an anti nausea tablet), and crying. CP had gone home and I was to stay here for at least one or two nights to be monitored. It was a low point.

I took time off work and spent the next few days learning to eat food again. Potatoes seemed a safe place to start. Twice a day, I would heat up a small potato in the microwave, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. And that became my staple diet.

I remember being curled upon the lounge in the foetal position during that period, staring at the television. Too weak to move, too sick to do anything. Penny Wong starred in an ad on calcium at that time, and to this day, even seeing that ad (or Penny Wong for that matter) takes me back into a dark space. I don't like it. Even writing it now is kind of giving me a headache!

This behaviour dragged on. Eventually I returned to work. I borrowed a bean bag from the library at school and used to have little naps in my lunch breaks. I was too weak to make it through a full day on 2 upright legs. I took my 'Sheila Kitzinger Pregnancy and Childbirth' textbook into my classroom and was fully prepared to answer any and all questions my high school students would throw at me. To my pleasant surprise, even the worst students were sympathetic to my condition. It was lovely. I took a 'spew bucket' into my classroom and kept it behind my desk 'just in case.' I used to threated my students with threats like 'If you so much as put a foot out of line, you will have to come and sit up here behind me with the spew bucket.' It seemed to work.

Gradually I was sucking on ice blocks and then biscuits and eventually things were back to 'normal'. The remainder of my pregnancy was incident free, and I would even go so far as to say I glowed. Nice.

Baby 2 and Baby 3:

We had weddings we were attending in the early stages of both pregnancies. We had hoped to keep the pregnancies a secret until the magic 12 weeks, however morning sickness set in for these pregnancies as well, and since we didn't want to disrupt either wedding by having people speculate about my frequent visits to the bathroom, failure to consume litres of free alcohol and inability to eat, we told people very early on.

I didn't require hospitalisation with Baby 2, however I checked myself in for 'rehydration' with Baby 3. Maxalon became my best friend. And there is something really strange about having a toddler hold your hair back from your face and rub your back when you are lurched over a toilet. Goodness knows what my two eldest ever thought I was doing!

We renovated our house during my pregnancy with Baby 2. My morning sickness factored into our designs. I insisted on an ensuite close to my side of the bed, so that my midnight and early morning dashes wouldn't be too far from my bed.

Being in public is also traumatic if you are suffering from this infliction. You can never trust a public toilet. (Having to place your head anywhere near where people defacate is enough to make you vomit even if you aren't already feeling nauseous.) I could only do my grocery shop immediately after I had vomited, so that I knew I would have the time to finish it in one go. And given that we live an hour from the supermarket, my drives to town were fraught with frequent stops on the side of the road. I can still point out all the places I have ralphed. Charming.

On the upside, the last half of all of my pregnancies were perfect. Perhaps that was my good karma for the first 20 weeks. I feel desperately sorry for those people who suffer from this illness until the moment they give birth! I also have some of the best, fastest and easiest labours and births of everyone I know. I walk out of hospital weighing exactly the same as what I weigh when I learn I am pregnant. (Except that it maybe hangs off my frame a little differently). So everything equals out. The good with the bad.

And all you have to do is look at that tiny baby once to realise that it was all completely worth it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Behind Every Good Farmer...

Several years ago our little family was holidaying in Maleny. We were enjoying the lovely weather from the verandah of our hotel room, when Miss (then) Four struck up a conversation with the man next door, who was also outside enjoying the weather with his wife.

"How old are you?" Miss Four asked him innocently.
"I'm 35." He replied. "What about you?"
"I'm 4. And how old is your mother?" She continued, to peals of laughter from him and not that much laughter from his wife.

Or the time that Miss Five asked her ninety-something year old great granny if she was 'nearly dead', to which great granny replied 'one foot in the door my dear!', before bursting into a giggle.

I write things like this down all the time. I blog about them and I share these little anecdotes online for my friends and family. I want people to remember them, and I want to look back and laugh at all the funny little things my children said and did, so that I don't look back in years to come and wish that I had.

I also take photos. My middle child once drew all over our new cream bed sheets with a black marker pen. I was furious, but still managed to stay level headed enough to take photos, before dragging her in to our room and hauling her over hot coals for it! I knew that one day I would laugh about it. Definitely not on that day, but one day nonetheless.

"Am I going to be in trouble for this?"

"Well... this one over here is..."

"And this one over here is..."
Oh wait... number three has done this before as well...
Yes... I mean you...

Because I take the photos, I am rarely in any myself. Unless I beg someone to take a new facebook profile pic for me, I will always be the mysterious photo taker behind the lens. Thankfully I have a group of social networkers around me who ensure I have the occasional photo taken too.

It seems to be (more often than not) the women who are set on making and recording memories of their family. The Farmer could tell you how much rainfall we've had over the last three years, and what the price of wool is doing this year compared to five years ago, but will struggle to remember birthdays, anniversaries and other important family information. He's not being slack, it's just that his brain prioritises things differently to mine.

In rural communities, it is the women who do the lion's share of the fundraising too. The school P and C, the Kindy parent group, the CWA, the show society; whilst all have men who will help out (and who do a fantastic job I might add), it is the women who seem to keep things flowing, and who ensure that the organisation stays on track. The men are more hands on when it comes to getting things done, whereas the women seem to stick to deadlines and offer gentle reminders, and tend to the minor details; the essential details.

I never cease to be amazed by women who manage to keep their house and families running, and then they either go to work or join a bunch of committees to pour any remaining time and energy into! One minute these women are out playing with children and making lunches and washing clothes, and the next they are cooking sausages on a BBQ for a school fete, and baking scones and cakes for the Christmas in the park.

I have been the driving force behind many of The Farmer's ventures, and find that it often ends with me in a crying heap on the floor. I often wonder if it's easier to hide from committees if you live in a city? And then in the next breath I remember that without women like me to offer some community spirit, energy and effort, small communities become a very quiet place indeed. And so it is that we keep going with our baking, catering, quiz nights, tuckshop duties, show committee roles, and stalls. And really, if it means we all get to hang out and bask in the glory of female company with like-minded women, how bad can it really be?

I once read that 'behind every good farmer, is a wife who works in town.'

But I also believe that behind every good farmer is an even better wife, regardless of where she is.

PS. Pop over to my Promotional Offers and Giveaways Page to see if you can score yourself some stocking fillers for Christmas! x

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do You Have A Story You Want To Share?

Are you married to a farmer?
Or a man who is on the land?
Do you have a story you'd like to share?
Next year I am going to do a series of guest blogs on my page, where people will be sharing their stories of love!
How did you meet?
And how did you end up getting married?
If you think you'd like to contribute - or you know someone who might - please send an email to:  thefarmerhasawife@hotmail.com

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Lucky One - And A Giveaway!

Having just spent almost three weeks away from my hubby and 2/3 of my children (I took one to Brisbane to have her tonsills and adenoids removed), I had a fair bit of time to think about how much I actually missed my little family, and how lucky I was to have them in my lives. (Being away from all the noise, fighting, tears and tantrums helps with perspective).

I also put a call out on my facebook page for 'girly' movies to watch to help pass the time. I ended up watching 'The Lucky One' (starring Zac Efron - *sigh*), from the author of 'The Notebook'. It ticked all the right boxes: sad, romantic, girly.

And it's awesome. But I am biased, because I love Zac Efron. Does that make me a wannabe cradle snatcher? Or is her older than that now? Essentially it's the story of a US Marine who goes in search of the unknown woman whose photo he believes was his good luck charm during his 3 tours of duty in Iraq. Wahhh!

I am, in conjunction with Roadshow Entertainment, giving away copies of 'The Lucky One' DVD to 3 lucky entrants! (One for every week I was away from my loved ones!)

All you need to do is pop over to my facebook page and leave me a comment stating your favourite 'girly movie' - I'll file it away for the next rainy day! It's that easy!

PS. I had this blog post written up a while ago, and coincidentally today is now Melbourne Cup Day (a big horse race in Australia). I put a few bets on and as it turns out, I am not so 'lucky' after all. Blessed maybe, but not lucky, to still have all those special people in my life!!!

Conditions of Entry:

1. Competition closes 5pm 10th November 2012.
2. One entry per person. Winners will be selected randomly.
3. Judges (me) decision is final. No correspondence will be entered in to.
4. Competition only open to residents of Australia and New Zealand.
5. Winners will be announced on the blog on 10th November 2012.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Facts About Skin Cancer - And My Story

The thing about blogging is that sometimes we need to be brutally honest with ourselves to be true to our writing. This blog is a warts and all account of my experience with sunspots and skin cancers. There will be photos of me looking God-awful like how I look without makeup and all my other paraphernalia. I am a little scared to put them up here, but know that the story isn't true without them.

The message is to be sun safe. Love yourself, protect your skin and be careful with how you look after yourself.

My skin isn't great at the best of times. Genetically speaking, I am destined to be the not-so-proud owner of multiple skin cancers towards this end of my life (actually, I am still really young - I think - but as my skin has already been so damaged, I am already experiencing what others might not experience until much later in their lives, if at all). I am fair and freckly. I have already had 1 sunspot burned off, and another cut out, so when I spotted a new lesion on my face, I was saddened, but not surprised. I have my father's skin. I know what can happen. I hope I have been kinder to my own body, and that it won't be as bad for me.

The facts about cancer in Australia are (and I have taken this information directly from The Cancer Council Australia):

Every year, in Australia:
  • skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
  • between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
  • GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
  • the incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
*Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma skin cancer.

Incidence and mortality:
  • Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.
  • Over the past decades, the incidence of skin cancer has risen in Australia. From 1982 to 2007 melanoma diagnoses increased by around 50%. From 1998 to 2007, GP consultations to treat non-melanoma skin cancer increased by 14%, to reach 950,000 visits each year.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer. This type of skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women. Over 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year. In 2007, 448 Australians died of the disease.
  • Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, melanoma is the third most common cancer in both Australian women and men, and the most common cancer in Australians aged 15-44 years. More than 10,000 people are treated for melanoma in Australia each year. The five-year relative survival rate for melanoma is 90% for Australian men and 94% for Australian women. In 2007, melanoma caused 1279 deaths in Australia.

About two years ago I noticed a small lesion forming on my inner cheek (next to my nose). I consulted three separate doctors who ALL told me that it was nothing to be worried about, however my gut instinct told me to persevere. The 'lesion' was developing a crusty exterior, which is typical of a skin cancer. So two years later I finally made an appointment to see a Dermatologist, who told me that it was a concern and that it would have to go. It was still an epidermis level carcinoma, which meant that it had not yet grown 'legs'. The good news was that it wasn't a bad one at this stage, and should be fairly easy to remove.

We discussed removal options. I could have it cut out. This is by far the most effective way of removing a skin cancer, with an almost certain guarantee that the entire area of 'bad cell area' will be removed. It also has the greatest chance of leaving a scar. I wasn't keen on leaving a scar - call me vain - but given its prominent location on my face, I was interested in my other options. Most interesting to me was the use of a technique called PDT, or 'Photodynamic Therapy'. Using this technique, permanent scarring is rare, and results are excellent.

The full process (and I should stress that this is only MY experience using PDT, and is not indicative of all patients) went as follows.

Day 1

1. I was taken into a small room where a cream called 'Metvix' is applied to an area covering and slightly larger than the lesion. Before they apply the cream, the specialist will slightly scratch the 'affected area' with an instrument that resembles the thing dentists use to clean plaque off your teeth.

Metvix cream used in PDT

2. Then they put a covering on it (so that you resemble a mini-mummy) and send you on your way for three hours so that the cream does it's job before the next stage. I pay for the entire procedure at this stage so that when I return for the second (and worse/painful) part of the procedure I can fly out of the surgery like a bat out of hell, rather than endure the stares from everyone in the waiting room later.

Covering Stage 2
3. At least three hours later you return to the surgery for Stage 2. I had been told that this was going to be painful, and I won't lie, it was REALLY PAINFUL. I have had three babies without pain killers, and this was still worse. To be fair,  I was given a local anaesthetic below the area that was going to be treated. And yes, a needle in your face isn't fun. Maybe it wouldn't be so painful anywhere else on your body? I'll still take that over doing this without pain killers. Hopefully the next time I have a needle shoved into my face it will be full of Botox, and not anaesthetic... If you ever have to endure this whole process, I'd just about beg for the anaesthetic if they didn't offer it to you first!

Putting my light proof goggles on in anticipation of 'the light'
4. Once the local anaesthetic has worked its magic, the 'light' is switched on. That light is so bright that it even shines through the goggles and through your lids when they are closed. The reaction with the cream is immediate. Over the area where cream has been, you feel an instant needle-like pain. I can only describe it as like a thousand needles being jabbed repeatedly over the area, or as someone holding a flame-thrower over your face and blasting you at close proximity! The first treatment is always the worst because you don't know what to expect. The nurse will ask you to tell her if you want the light switched off at all for a break, and it only took me 30 seconds before I asked her to stop. In my defence, it was really burning on the finer skin of my nose, but once the anaesthetic spread, it seemed to help a little. Whilst it blows a cool breeze onto the area being treated, it also feels like it's blowing a thousand sharp needles. I managed the next 6 minutes and 30 seconds with no interruptions! It is 7 minutes of hell (at least it was for me).

Under the 'light'
Apparently the light doesn't affect skin that hasn't had cream on it. in fact, if anything, it stimulates the collagen in your skin, giving you a healthier glow. (Might have to remember this down the track).

I look all relaxed here - but trust me when I say that I was trying not to bite off my tongue.
5. They then cover the treated area with a cover to protect it from light/exposure, which you need to keep in place for at least 24 hours. Underneath, you feel like your skin is falling off your face. You want to crawl out from underneath your skin. Panadol helps. In fact, it helps so much I'd recommend taking a few before the whole process. The trip home was awful. You have to keep the treated area out of the sun until it heals. Thankfully I had my mum with me the first time to drive me back to her house. I did laugh a lot, if only to stop myself from crying.

The reason I look like such a sad and cranky mole here, is because a) I am a sad and cranky mole. b) I am taking my photo without makeup on, and with a bandage on my face, with all intents on putting it on the Internet. This is a scary thing.
And then the 'healing' takes place. I am going to show every warts and all photo, so that you can see the process. Before I had this done, I found loads of before/after photos, but not a lot about the process. This will hopefully fill that gap!

I slept really poorly the first night. I was constantly changing the ice packs for my face, hoping for any relief at all. I was also trying to stop any swelling from occurring, but this also proved futile, as you can see below!

Day 2

I look like I have just done 3 rounds with Mike Tyson - which is also how I felt!
I removed the bandage 24 hours later and this was what I saw. I was horrified. This officially meant that I was on 'inside only' duties until the swelling went down. Having never been in a real fight before, I wasn't sure how long the swelling would take to go down. Incidentally, it takes about 3 days... just in case you ever need to know! The swollen eyelid was the worst! I could even feel it in my sleep. The good news is that by this stage, the stinging has stopped. So you can just focus on the visible side effects.

Day 3

One of the possible side effects listed on the take home pamphlet is 'the development of small pustules that look like pimples filled with pus'. Nice huh?

Small pustules developing around my nose - so gross I can't even begin to explain
The pamphlet says that if these develop you need to contact your Doctor. So I did. And he said "Oh, so how many would you say have developed?" And I answered, "I have no idea! A few..." And he asked, "Would you say 6? 12? 24?" And I said "It's hard to tell, as they're kind of joining together.(I know, gross hey?) But maybe like, 12? But they don't look too bad, really..." So his advice was, "See if you can bust them carefully, and put an antiseptic cream like Betadine on them, and see what happens. Call me if it gets worse." So off I went, and did as the doctor ordered. And things looked better!

See?! I don't look like a complete freak of nature! Just a little red...

And a close up... you can see it's still a bit weepy. The Betadine helped dry it out, but what I didn't know is that the Betadine also sticks to the peeling skin, giving you a Frankenstein look about you on Day 4...
Day 4

On Day 4 I had to take my eldest daughter to the hospital to have her tonsils out. I was afraid that I would arrive at the hospital looking like my husband bashes me (which, incidentally, he doesn't!), but thankfully the swelling had gone, and I tried (mostly in vain) to cover the redness with some makeup. Over sized glasses also helped hide my face, and if anyone stared, I quickly jumped in to tell them that I had just had skin treatment for a cancer thing done on my face! (FYI - when you are in a hospital, no one really bothers to ask what's wrong with you anyway. They already figure that if you're there, it must be something...). At this stage I started applying Cetaphil moisturising lotion (it's a really gentle moisturiser). It helps with the drying out of your skin. I continued this every day from this point onward.

IT'S ALIVE!!!! Bits of skin actually do continue to peel and fall from your face. So when it all dries out, you are left without as much redness, but loads of skin that starts flaking off.

Day 5-10

Over the next 5 days, the peeling continues. Several layers will come off, but it is a slow and gradual process. I was fine to go out and about (making sure I didn't go into direct sunlight) without feeling uncomfortable. There is some redness that remains at the treatment site, but the skin continues to heal nicely. Towards day 10 I started to feel some very slight tenderness around the actual lesion site, but nothing that caused me any discomfort.

Almost nothing left. Some slight redness at treatment site. But otherwise fine
Day 10

We decided to go to Dreamworld for the day. I lathered myself in sunscreen, moisturiser, and slip, slop, slapped! As we were readying ourselves to head out, I couldn't help but marvel at how nice my skin was looking. As a regular wearer of makeup (concealer, foundation, etc.. etc. to cover bags under eyes and whatever other crazies I have lurking on my face), even I was surprised at how healthy my skin was looking and feeling. So maybe there really is something to the whole 'stimulated collagen' thing. I'm going to do more investigating! Here is my evidence anyway... I was wearing only sunscreen on my face on this day - and mascara... but I would never dream of leaving home without mascara.

Looking all glowing and happy not to have skin peeling on my face!
Day 11 (up to 3 weeks later)

I had my return appointment booked for 11 days later. Most people return within 2 weeks for a follow up treatment (if required), but no later than 3 weeks later. I was feeling physically ill at the thought of having to go through it all again. I returned to the clinic with much trepidation. This time nothing hurt as much. The needle, the scratching of the lesion surface, the PDT. It all seemed milder. The nurse explained that as the cells in the area had already been damaged, there would naturally be less pain this time around. I was instantly relieved!

And so the process begins all over again; the cream, the light (PDT), the bandage, the burning feeling, the flaking skin. The good news is that second time around isn't anywhere near as bad - or as painful. And the healing seems to be much faster. I didn't swell up as much either.

Ten days after my second treatment, my face is back to 'normal'.

Now I have to wait three months to go back and make sure it's all gone. Fingers crossed! x

Monday, October 29, 2012

Exercise... And Me

I've never been good at a fan of exercise. I know, I know, before you all go jumping up and down and telling me how I need to get on top of that, and how it's good for me etc etc... just keep reading.

As a teenager, I only ever played sport if it meant that I could hang around the guy I had a crush on at the time. I forced myself to endure the sweat, the uncoordinated jumble of limbs, and inevitable headache that I would get at the end of the day.

For most of my life (I said MOST - not all - cue photos of me in Belgium and travelling Europe - and thank goodness I had to ride a bike everywhere I went in Belgium, or goodness knows what could have happened!) I have been genetically blessed enough to not need to do REAL exercise to stay relatively in shape. And I know, this will come back to haunt me!

As a teenager I once joined a gym briefly. I had delusions about wanting to stay fit and get healthy, but ultimately spent more time in the sauna than actually doing cardio. My brother and I started playing tennis as children, and Jackson ultimately became much better at it than I did. I got sick of losing pretty quickly, and the novelty soon wore off.

In my early 20s I was a regular in clubs around Brisbane. The constant dancing and lack of sensible eating did wonders for my waistline. This, however, was unsustainable. One can only live this way until they have children.

When I eventually had my own children, I was so sick during all of the pregnancies, that I came out of hospital each time weighing less than I had weighed when I first discovered I was pregnant. Of course the weight sat differently on me, but I was still not unhappy with how I looked. I had had children, and my body reflected that in many ways, but I was still comfortable with my body. (Perhaps that comes with age).

Over the next few years, I felt that I needed to do something to start 'getting fit'. This wasn't about losing weight. It was about looking and feeling good, and taking control of my lifestyle again. I couldn't bring myself to walk though. Because of where we live, I felt that it was either too hot, or too cold, or that maybe there would be a brown snake on the road, or a bull, who would possibly try to run me down! In any event, I never really did go walking. You could count on one hand the number of times I did. And then I used my kids as an excuse.
"Oh, I can't go walking. Who will look after my kids? I can't leave them at home...etc etc."

I conned my next door neighbour into driving over so that we could walk together, but again, the children got in the way, slowed us down or just made it plain unbearable. It was fun, exercising with another adult, but short lived. My neighbour and I often talked about starting bike riding. The roads out here are rough, but we had theorised that a brisk cycle on a bike, where we would rendezvous half way between her place and mine, would be great. But alas, that never happened either.

More recently, I did start riding a bike. I decided to talk hubby into buying me a good mountain bike so that it could handle the roads. He decided that I should borrow his mother's old reliable one, and see if I would use that as a means to gauge how much use it would actually get, before he went and spent money on a new one. His lack of faith in me was unsettling, but legitimate. I did that a few times before I gave up that idea too. I had decided that I was more of an 'inside exercise' sort of person.

I have amassed quite a collection of free Yoga and Zumba DVDs (mostly taken from Courier Mail Newspaper Giveaways). Maybe these were the exercises I needed to start considering? But after a month or so of mostly looking at their covers, I put them back in a safe place as well. Perhaps time was the problem with me? Or lack thereof... I have even tried Wii Fit and Wii Dance - both of which I love. The kids can also join in on this too, and we have had quite a bit of fun with this on and off over the years (Admittedly more off than on though). Our Wii now sits mostly unused in a container under the television now too. See a pattern here?

Exercise bikes, treadmills and whatever else you can buy off morning television shows were not for me. Our house isn't particularly huge, and storage is a problem. I learned this after buying an Ab King Pro (which I thought was the answer to all my problems), which now sits unused out in our shed.

We even put in a pool to give me an excuse to exercise. It has totally paid for itself, in that all three of my children have learned to swim in it, but my pool use is mostly limited to kicking back on an inflatable with a cool beverage in hand.

Yes, I look at pictures of Sonia Kruger and have leg and arm envy.In fact, I blame Sonia Kruger for my new found obsession with wanting to like, nay LOVE, exercise. I want to be almost 50 and looking hot to trot. I mean, look at those arms and legs?!

Actually, I know this will never be me, but she has still inspired me... almost 50 and HOT!

My mother and sister are both exercise fanatics. They sacrifice sleep for exercise, and that is how I know I am still not ready to fully commit to a new regime of exercise in my life.

Mum even has a special app on her phone that plots her track, times her and helps her challenge herself to improve on times etc with every future run/walk. I also downloaded a Nike Training app for my phone. It's AMAZING. I thought I would start with the beginners half hour cardio session. 10 minutes in I had to stop for a break. Don't worry, I feel bad enough about it myself. I'm not going to give up entirely. This whole 'me exercising' thing will happen. I just need to stop making excuses, and start making time. The benefits will speak for themselves. I am not unhappy with how I look. I have just reached an age where I need to start getting serious about how I treat my body. Things aren't springing back the way they used to, and I'm not getting any younger. And I will never achieve results like those above, by just sitting here and writing about it...

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Bad 'Farmer's Wife'

I love my husband. We have (finally) struck a happy balance in our life. It's only taken ten years.

I actually don't know how he puts up with me. I am a bad 'farmer's wife'. A good wife, but a bad farmer's wife!

I still wear synthetic clothing, all these years later. As a sheep farmer's wife, I should wear more wool. Ironically, as a sheep farmer's wife, I probably can't afford to wear more wool. I should wear more cotton then. And I certainly wear more cotton now than I ever have before... but I am still only warming up to collars and buttons. And everything I wear is far tighter than a good farmer's wife would normally wear. And I'm not a fan of linen. It looks awesome on some people - but it's an ironing nightmare! I don't like ironing. Period. And ironing linen is the pits.

I struggle to cook meals every night and am not any better than average in the kitchen. I do try hard though! I'm still mastering the art of making a perfect gravy, suitable enough to go with a roast dinner. I forget to double all my baking ingredients to leave some to freeze as reserves. I've never attempted to make jam. I can count on one hand the number of times I've made fresh bread. I think scones taste bland, and will only eat them if they are slathered in jam and cream. I burn things. I am, however, excellent on the barbeque! I am an excellent hostess - and thoroughly enjoy socialising. CP thinks I am too social at times!

I don't keep an immaculate house. I have 5 piles of washing and folding that are taking over our spare bedroom. I leave my washing on the line for over a 24 hour period occassionally; in spite of warnings about what will happen to my 'stuff' if I keep doing that. I am a compulsive binge cleaner. Most of our cleaning gets done in the hours leading up to a social event.

I don't own boots or an Akubra. All my boots have heels. I do, however, own a pair of RM Williams 'boots', but they hardly ever get worn as I struggle to deal with my calves in ankle high boots.

I don't really like country and western music. I have warmed up to some country and western artists (read my post about Big and Rich here). But the songs I DO enjoy are few and far between. I am more of a 'top 40', or retro kind of girl.

I don't help with mustering and sheep work. I always remind hubby that when the kids are all at school and I have more 'time' up my sleeve, I am actually excited about getting more involved. As it stands, I don't get hubby to help me in the classroom, and so I leave him to do his stuff without me getting in the way.

I can't drive a tractor (at least I don't think I can - I've never even tried), or a motorbike (all the ones on our farm are too big for me to ride on my own) and I can only barely tell the difference between a Merino sheep, and a cross bred sheep.

I don't have a green finger in my body. I love our garden, and owe all of it to CP. I struggle to remember names of plants and types of grass. CP just 'gets it'. I love fresh fruit and veges, and would love our own little home grown plot at home (which we have had on occassion), but until I can ensure the survival of anything we plant, I have to be content with having our neighbour supply us with an abundance of home grown veges.

But I love him. I make our home a happy and healthy environment filled with love. I am interested in our farm, and in what hubby does to fill in his day. I try hard. One day I aspire to be the better version of myself. But for now, I'm happy just being a bad farmer's wife, but a happy spouse, home maker and mother.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rodeo Queen

Ten years ago I didn't even know how to pronounce the word 'rodeo'. (I mean, was it like Rodeo Drive, in Hollywood, which is more 'Roh-day-oh'; or was it more 'Roh-dee-oh.') In any event, I didn't really care. Mostly because I had never been to one - nor had any intention of going - and they didn't interest me in the slightest. And yet rodeos have been growing on me; slowly. I didn't even notice at first.

I remember visiting my sister (who lived in the Queensland city of Rockhampton at the time) who took me to 'The Great Western' pub/bar in the middle of town.

The bar happened to have a rodeo ring built into the middle of it. You could have floored me. I had never felt more uncomfortable and out of place in my life!

In my first year of teaching in St George, I helped co-ordinate an end of year dance presentation. The girls involved all desperately wanted to do the dance from '8 Seconds'. I didn't know then that '8 Seconds' is a movie about champion bull rider, Laine Frost. My eyes glazed over at the mention of dancing to a country and western song. And so it was decided that the main dance presentation would be to the song 'I Like It, I Love It' by Tim McGraw. Several weeks in I realised that this song would be forever and ever eteched in to my brain. Amen. It's still there! Even more tragic, whenever I hear that song I STILL remember many of the dance moves the girls did all those moons ago.

Flash forward seven or so years. SOMEHOW (and actually I know how, but let's just say that CP can be too nice sometimes), CP got roped into the local Show Society, as the Rodeo Section organiser. This meant that I was also roped into organising the rodeo. I was mortified. There was no way I could possibly organise an event that I couldn't even pronounce!

I had a crash course in 'rodeos' with the outgoing rodeo organiser. It didn't look too difficult, but I still found it disconcerting keeping up with phrases like 'bucking stock', 'saddle bronc' and '2nd division bull ride'. Not to mention the phrases 'poddy ride' and 'mutton busters', which I have blogged about previously here.

It didn't take long for me to really start enjoying myself! Bull Riding, Saddle Bronc Riding and the kid sections are ALL very interesting. Yes, they can be dangerous, and yes, it's not for everyone, but over the last few years I've become quite fond of the old Rodeo Circuit. There is a certain excitement level at a rodeo. The anticipation, the noise, the crowd.

At Mingenew Rodeo, WA - pic by Roz Bryce - Rozbys Gear.

If someone had told me ten years ago that I would have even been capable of doing this, I would have openly laughed in their face. But now I consider myself something of a Rodeo Queen (not to be confused with a Buckle Bunny)!

Who would have guessed?

And I really need to stop saying 'never'...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New To My Blog? Read My Book!

Long time readers of my blog will be familiar with the 'book' I wrote about how I met (and married) my farmer.
If you are new to my blog, make sure you click on the tab above that says 'The Book' and follow the links.
Grab a coffee, get comfortable and enjoy!

PS. I am currently in a competition for Mummy Bloggers. If you could be ever so lovely and click on the link below, and then vote for me, it would be much appreciated! x


Sunday, September 16, 2012

7 Tips On How To Make People Think You Are A Domestic Goddess

It's 8am on a Sunday morning, and a friend calls you on the phone to say "Hey! I'm in the area and was hoping to stop in for a quick coffee and a chat in the next hour." You sweep your eyes over the frightful mess surrounding you and wipe away the thin film of sweat that has just formed on your brow.

Ever been in a position like this before? Here are some tips to get you through the next hour. One hour is more than enough time to make people think you have total control over the chaos that is your life.

1. Always have a nominated room to be your 'storage area'. In our house it's the office/spare bedroom. I do a quick run around and through all bulky objects, clothes, toys etc. straight in onto the bed. Then I shut the door tightly behind me as I leave it. No self-respecting guest will ask to do an inspection of your house, so this will buy you some time until you can get in and do a real clean. If it's a real clean that you were hoping to achieve in the hour before your guests arrive, then you need to go see The Organised Housewife. As I am not an organised housewife, I am giving you the bandaid solution, as opposed to something more permanent.

2. Once you have removed all the loose objects, head quickly back to the entry that your guest will enter through. Start here. In our house the entry is across a verandah, so I remove all loose objects, tuck in the chairs around the table and dust off all tables and chairs. I make sure any odd shoes are thrown into the allocated baskets and do a quick tidy. If I have an extra set of hands around (like my kids), I bribe them into sweeping the verandah for me while I continue on my binge clean.

3. Now clean the room you will do the bulk of your entertaining in. In our house it is the lounge room and kitchen equally. I Dust off all flat surfaces (assuming I have already removed random items left lying around). I always straighten photos and tuck in books lying haphazardly in the bookcase. The kitchen is more time consuming. I unload and repack the dishwasher, put all food back in the fridge or pantry, and wipe down and surfaces. Depending on the time of the day, this job will vary in intensity.

4. Next I throw together a batch of quick and easy muffins, slice, cake or biscuits (or defrost any that I may have already done in the freezer). Whilst this in the oven, I give the lounge and kitchen a 'visitor vacuum' - that is a vacuum that doesn't require me moving the couch or cushions. Then I reload the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen again.

5. Depending on how much time I have left, I then rush through the house making beds, collecting dirty laundry to put in the machine, and throwing toys etc back in cupboards. Otherwise (if I am time short) I just shut all bedroom doors.

6. Never forget to clean any toilets and or bathrooms that guests may ask to use. I also clean the 'path' (in our case, the hallway) to these rooms, to give the illusion that your entire house is immaculate. I give the surfaces a quick spray down, and the toilets a fresh clean. I also change any toilet rolls, or top up low supplies, make sure soaps and hand towels are all in place etc. I also give these rooms a quick sweep or vacuum.

7. Ensure you give your hair a quick brush, and make sure you reapply lipstick or gloss. Give yourself a general tidy up, and change your shirt if necessary. No one will buy your domestic goddess act if you look like a train wreck.


1. Always clean surfaces with a highly potent smelling spray etc. as this gives the illusion that you always keep your house this clean.

2. Throw around phrases that demonstrate false confidence. eg. "Oh that old smell? No... I hardly had time to do anything before you got here. Thank goodness I have such well trained children/husband to make sure our house is always this clean." That way if people suspect you just did a quick tidy up, you will then throw them off the scent so to speak.

3. Over emphasise the jobs you want your guests to think you DID do before you got there, to take the focus off what they think you did. eg: "Oh no, I just loaded the dishwasher quickly after you called, but thankfully I had already put on a chocolate slice, which is quite a difficult recipe really, but that's just the kind of thing I like to do on a Sunday morning..." Never mention the vacuuming or mess in your spare room.

4. If you have a slice that requires icing, make sure you save that for just as your guests are arriving. It helps your case to be busy in a kitchen in order to convince your guests of your status as a bona fide domestic goddess.

This list is not an exhausted list. This is just what I do to trick the world into believing that I am not domestically challenged (which is in fact the reality). I do find that I can get more done in one crazy hour than in a whole day of general cleaning however, and am a big fan of spontaneous visits to aid the 'temporary clean' that sees me through my cleaning dry spells.

What are your tips to feigning an immaculate house?

PS. Thanks Leesa for the inspiration!
PPS. I'm back in the running for 'Circle of Mums - Top 25 Aussie Mum Blogs' - Please click here and vote for me! It increases my blog exposure and helps potential sponsors find their way to me! xxx Or go to my facebook page for more info on how to vote!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

QRRRWN - River Of Life

This week St George has played host to the annual 'QRRRWN Conference', the theme of this year being 'River Of Life'.

It's only two days into the three day event and I am already having a blast!

So far the absolute highlight has been listening to Sally Sara talk about her time as a foriegn correspondent in Afghanistan. She spoke of how different life was for women in the middle east. She spoke of war and of hope. She is incredible down to earth, and very likeable. What an amazing woman! Sally also said that 'she would rather be on the front line in Afghanistan, than be on a first date!' Ahhh, you need to read my book Sally...

Another highlight was meeting the author of 'The Bark Cutters Wife" Nicole Alexander (and participating in a writing workshop run by her). Maybe now I am more inspired to put some serious time aside to try and get some quality writing done!

This is Nicole, Georgie Somerset and I.

And finally, I got to finally meet some amazing other women; women I have known in the 'social networking world' for some time, but have only just put a face to. I like it when my worlds cross over like that.

Georgie, Kylie, Bess and I
These women can all be found on twitter and on facebook, and are all advocates for rural, remote and regional women, areas and industries in various capacities. I urge you all to look them up (or their pages or blogs).

Georgie: #GeorgieSomerset

Kylie: Ask An Aussie Farmer , #4FarmersFutures

Bess: Tales Of A Cotton Wife , #AusCottonGirl

QRRWN: #Queensland_Rural_Women

I'm having a ball! Nothing like mixing it with strong, enthusistic women (and 3 men), who have a passion for people and agriculture.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's Raining, It's Pouring

This week we had some rain. I know this because CP woke up and announced loudly that it was raining. And then I was annoyed. Not at the rain, only at CP, for waking me up. He then proceded to tell me every 5 minutes that it was still raining, or (if it was no longer raining) then he would speculate on how much rain we had already had, or how much he was still expecting. As it turns out, the storm was all bark and no bite, and sadly, we only ended up with about 1/8th of an inch.
If you live on the east coast of Australia (or in the tropics, or in fact any place where rain is common place) this means bugger all. Firstly, you probably don't even know what an inch is (especially if you are under 50 years of age), or you don't care what an inch is. But essentially, an inch means you hear the gentle pitter patter of rain on your roof for a period of minutes.
If you live where I live, an inch means something else entirely. An inch (or 100 points, or 25 ml) means our tanks and dams get a little fuller, our stock get a little more feed, and our crops get a little much needed watering. An inch also means that if the dirt road into town (all 20km of it to the bitumen) has been recently graded, there is every chance I will need to put the car into 4WD. And compacting this, is the unwritten rule of the bush that you can't complain about rain under any circumstances. Rain is good. Even when it's flooding. And an inch is perfect. Despite any inconvenience that it has caused me personally.
I'm not really complaining. (Oh, who am I kidding? Yes I am.) Friends of mine can't even leave their property with an inch of rain. So I consider myself lucky. But I am a city girl at heart, and the mere thought of engaging in any 4WD activity is enough to put a thin layer of sweat on my brow.
When I was a kid, my Dad was a member of a 4WD club. This seems to give my husband endless hours of pleasure, imagining me and my siblings strapped into the back of a 4WD, high tailing it to some private property; unwilling recipients in my father's quest for excitement. It was actually fun, I think. But now that I am all grown up, it's very different.

Hubby would be rolling his eyes and snickering at my apparent ineptness in the world of driving in the wet. And I consider myself a good driver too. (I should be, my father is a driving instructor. But as it has been pointed out to me before, if my father is a doctor, it doesn't automatically make me a good doctor too.) In fact, hubby probably could have handled the road today without the use of 4WD. But not me. My legs start that uncontrollable "knock knocking", my knuckles turn white,and my brow creases for the duration of the trip. I don't breathe properly, and the mere whisper from a passenger is enough to send me off the deep end. I know some of you reading this actually might even get off on 4WD-ing, but it's not my thing. Not with three children in the back. And not even on my own. And even though I am very grateful for the rain, I prefer it on days when I am staying home.

In the last three years we have been blessed with 'good seasons' (read; lots of rain). Three floods in three years in fact. On nights when it rains, hubby can barely contain his excitement. He's like a little kid at Christmas, and he wants to share it with the world.

And although I am always happy for good seasons, as a mother of three small children, I am just as grateful for a good night sleep.

Monday, August 20, 2012

An Explanation of Size In The Bush...

Let's be clear about something. Size doesn't matter.

When you live out here, things are always bigger. (We're just like Texas). I often have people ask me about 'size related' things when I tell them I live out west. By writing this blog, I hope to better explain 'size' from a country perspective.

Our farm spans 32 000 acres. Or approximately 15 000 hectares. Or if you are from anywhere else in Australia, it's 130 square kilometres. Just to put this in perspective for you, the average property size in Australia (much like those in a city or town) is 0.000325 square kilometres. So basically, we could fit in approximately 250 000-300 000 average 'properties' into our 'block'. And our place is very average in regards to its size for this part of the world. Some properties in rural Australia are much larger. Some are over a million acres. One is even bigger than Belgium.

* I'm not fantastic at maths... if you can actually correct my maths there, please feel free to do so...

I once spoke to an Australia Post employee in Sydney (over the phone), about trying to change my residential address to the town from A to B (as we live smack between the two, and have two separate entries to our property, all I needed to do was place a mailbox out one side to receive mail from the OTHER closest town).  The poor girl could NOT get her head around how it was at all possible to do that. In the end I gave up trying to explain and left our postal address as it was.

I recently blogged about how and why cars are bigger. It's not just that we all like to drive 'luxury' vehicles. You can read about it here.

We drive further distances for things the rest of Australia takes for granted. I have been known to do an 80km round trip for milk. And I'm lucky. Some people could NEVER do a round trip of any discription because of their geographic isolation. Our children's bus stop is 20km away. The school is 40km away. Our mailbox is 3km away. My nearest neighbour is 10km away. And all of this is very 'average' in rural Australian terms. I regularly travel 100km in each direction for groceries, access to a chiropracter and other medical facilities. Our dentist is 250km away. I travel (at least 3 or 4 times a year) for 600km in each direction to visit family and take my children to see specialists in 'the city'.

Thank goodness for social networking!

The cost of living is far greater than anywhere on the east coast of Australia. Everything has to be freighted in and out; fuel, groceries, goods and services. Pretty much, the further west you get, the more you pay. We still need to eat and breathe like everyone else, it just costs us more to do it. I'm not complaining. Not really. Not seriously. Without people like us living out here, food and produce that everyone else takes for granted, would cost even more than it already does. All your fruit, veges, cotton, wool, meat, dairy etc etc. all comes from somewhere. Somewhere like out here.

The only thing that is smaller out here is the population! But thankfully, I get to immerse myself in that when I go about all my other jobs in the city.

It really is the best of both worlds out here. It's only as good as you make it. And size really doesn't matter at all.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Baby Emu

Last week I was driving home after picking the kids up off the bus. We were about half way when I saw something on the middle of the road ahead. As we approached, I could see that it was a family of emus, hit by a car or truck. They were all dead, with the exception of one little emu chick, who stood, possibly in shock, amidst the bodies of its dead family.

I slowed the car to a standstill and told the kids to sit still while I thought about what to do. CP was going to be VERY angry if I took the emu chick home. After three good seasons in a row, emus seem to be in semi-plague proportions out here at the moment. They compete with livestock for food and water, and can be aggressive at times. I wasn't even sure if I could actually pick it up, let alone put it, somewhere, in our car. On the other hand, I couldn't leave it where it was. I just couldn't. There is something about seeing such a tiny creature so vulnerable that really pulled on my heart strings. My heart broke for this tiny bird, and so I made a decision to take it home.

I approached it slowly. It stood very still. It would have been up to my knee in size, but seemed so small, and so precious. I edged closer and closer until eventually it was within my grasp, and then I reached out quickly, grabbing it around its body. I held it out so that its claws couldn't scratch me, and I hoped and prayed it wouldn't bite me.

When I reached the car, the kids (my kids) were in a panic. They were emotional about the family of birds that lay dead on the road, and nervous about what would happen to the baby emu. I opened the back door of our Toyota Prado (our NEW car), and placed the chick on the floor of the vehicle. By now my own children were FREAKING OUT. I didn't have a towel or anything to put him on, so I just made an effort to concentrate on getting home with as little dramas as possible. The baby emu had pooed on my shirt and jeans, and there was a mix of blood on there as well. I asked the kids to check on the bird, and Olivia started yelling that there was a cut on its foot, and that it was 'bleeding everywhere'! I didn't say anything, but remember thinking that I hoped the blood wouldn't permanently stain the carpet in the back of the car.

I tried to think of what on earth I was going to do with the emu chick once we were home.

When we did eventually make it home, I tried to find CP. Once he heard what it was I needed help with, he disappeared quickly, muttering something about me being crazy and stupid and irresponsible. I found a large esky and placed an old towel inside it. I placed the baby emu gently inside and then held the lid open a fraction with books. The emu didn't want to go anywhere. It was still clearly in shock. We found water, and placed it in with the bird, but it didn't drink.

Meanwhile, I was on the phone to Australia Zoo. I had reached the Wildlife Rescue department and was trying to explain what had happened, as well as emphasise that I couldn't possibly keep the emu for a multitude of reasons, but was happy to do whatever I could to ensure it would survive. I also called our local vet, who gave me the number of a woman in a nearby town who might possibly be able to care for it. I called her whilst Australia Zoo went looking for someone who could help me. The lady in the nearby town, Mary, said that as it so happened, she was headed to Miles the following day, where she was meeting an Australia Zoo rep, and she would be happy to take the emu chick if I could meet her in her town early the next morning. Australia Zoo then called back to certify that Mary was legitimate, and that she would indeed help get the emu (eventually) to Australia Zoo.

So now I just had to keep the emu alive until the next morning. I wrapped a bandage around his sore leg, and hoped that it wouldn't get infected. At least then I could monitor the amount of bleeding (which I didn't think was as bad as I had initially thought). When CP came home he brought chicken pellets with him for the emu chick. We talked about all the reasons why this emu couldn't be our new pet. As much as its cuteness was winning us all over.

Before we went to bed, I placed a hot water bottle inside the esky with the baby emu. It snuggled up next to it, and I hoped for the best.

The next morning, I prepared a new box to carry the emu in. It seemed in much better spirits than the night before.

I drove the baby emu to Mary, and she took charge of him after that. I said goodbye to the chick, and was a little sad that I might not ever hear anything about it ever again.

I needn't have worried.

A week later, Australia Zoo contacted me via a picture I'd uploaded (and tagged) on Instagram, stating that "the baby emu was alive and well in the animal hospital, learning to peck and eat with a chicken. There will be a story on him/her on either the Australia Zoo or Wildlife Warriors page in a few days!"

I could have done a little dance.

So here is the link to the story.... (They have called him/her Elmo).


I am one very proud person at the moment!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Addiction - And (Finally) 'The Hunger Games' Giveaway

I have always been a reader. More specifically, I have always been a big reader of 'sets'.

First it was Babysitters Club books, and then it was Sweet Valley High books. By the time I'd reached highschool, I was reading (albeit sneakily) Virginia Andrews books (Flowers in The Attic etc.) - and in all honesty, that probably cemented me in my deep seated love for trashy novels. I still like actual REAL, honest to goodness literature too, but I will always have a soft spot for 'easy reading'. Like many books, a television of film version often finds its way to our screens. I also enjoyed the TV series and movies of each of those sets. When I'd made my way through all of the Virginia Andrews books, I spent a few years trying to find something that fit the mould. Bryce Courtney saw me through a few of those years.

I wasn't reading for pleasure as much in my University years, and it was only when 'Twilight' was released that I found my way back to my old trust 'book sets' again. Throw stones all you want. Twilight got me reading again. (Twilight and some other GENUINE books). I resisted at first, because I just didn't think the whole 'vampire thing' would be for me... but it turns out I was wrong. I was addicted. I also am addicted to the movie versions of the books. Go on and laugh. Sometime sI shake my head at myself, but it's a fact. They are my favourite 'sick day' and 'rainy day' movies. (And lets face it, I AM the target audience of desperate housewife). After Twilight I then lunged straight into the True Blood series (mostly because I love the television series, and needed a 'fix' in order to see what might happen in future storylines), and truth be known, I want those hours of my life back. The books are NOTHING like the show. If anyone thinks Twilight is terrible reading, I don't recommend getting your claws anywhere near True Blood (The Sookie Stackhouse books). After Twilight I got into more serious reading; no 'sets' as such, just good, solid novels. 

CP is also a reader. Early in our marriage I discovered his extensive stash of Wilbor Smith, Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham books. They kept me busy for quite some time too, but left me hungry for something a little more 'feminine'.

I started a book club in our little town and once a month a group of awesome ladies would get together to discuss books. I was deeply ingrained in my passion for reading.  I found my way into Dan Brown, Kate Morton, Jodi Picoult, and Ken Follett, Harry Potter and the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series.

I am also a fan of (and am almost ashamed to admit I like) '50 Shades of Grey' (again, I am the target demographic).  I am currently making my way through the 'Game of Thrones' (A Song of Ice and Fire) box set. I am a fan of the series, and wanted to get myself engrossed in the books. It's heavy reading, but I am sure it will be worth it.

More recently I finished reading one of the latest literary phenomenom making its way around the world.

I'm talking about The Hunger Games. It took me a whole three days to go from go to whoa. There are three books in the series. 1. The Hunger Games 2. Catching Fire and 3. The Mockingjay. They are really written for a teenage audience, but I really loved them. The 'Hunger Games' movie was released in cinemas the week I started reading them, but I have always been a fan of reading the book first whenever I can. And so when Roadshow Entertainment contacted me about running a giveaway for 'The Hunger Games' DVD, I jumped at the chance! The movie is every bit as good as the book.

For your chance to win one of 3 copies of the DVD, all you need to do is pop over to my facebook page (or at the bottom of this page if it is more convenient) and leave a comment stating what your favourite book/movie combo is, and why. No word limit.

Winners will be selected randomly. The judges decision is final. Competition closes 21st August at 5pm EST. Australian and New Zealand entrants only please. Winners will be contacted by me directly.

The Hunger Games is available to own on DVD and Blu-Ray 17th August 2012.

* Amended 3 hours after posting. COMPETITION CLOSED!

Things I Said I'd Never Do As A Parent... But Do.

In my life before parenting there were loads of things I said I'd never do. I was a text book expert, who had ideas about everything from birthing to raising a child. Plus I was a teacher, so with my 'wealth of experience' in education, I knew exactly the sort of child I was and was not going to raise.

1. I said I'd never swear in front of my kids.

 Did I really say that? Because I have sworn on many occasions in front of them. Mostly if I am just REALLY PISSED OFF about something, or if I feel like I am the only person in our house who ever listens to me. But also sometimes if I have hurt myself, or if I am in a wildly animated telephone exchange. I do TRY not to swear in front of the kids, and actually, they have become fairly proficient at pulling me up when I do let an f-bomb go. In our house, my kids think that 'stupid', 'fart', 'bum' and 'dumb' are also swear words, and as we refer to all swear words as 'f-words', I sure as heckfire hope that my kids don't run around saying "Mum said the f-word last night!", because chances are I didn't...

2. I said I'd never bribe my kids.

Little did I know that bribing appears to have the greatest success rate in me, as the parent, having a win! I will bribe for silence when I am on the phone. "Yes! Just take a packet of chips/piece of chocolate/popper but take it away from me while I am on the phone!" I will also bribe for good behaviour in public. "If you kids can try not to fight while I am doing the shopping today, and if you don't run a trolley up my ankles, or the ankles of any other person, you can have an ice-cream when we get to the car." I have also been known to bribe in regards to education. "If you can pull 20/20 on every spelling test for the next month, you can get something nice from the newsagent." To which Miss 7 replied, "MUM! Miss Betts would NEVER ask me to get 20/20 in my test! She would just tell me to do my best, and that's all that matters! I wish SHE was my Mum!" To which I speedily rushed into the school to justify my actions before poor Miss Betts thought I was running some sort of sweat factory at home for kids and spelling tests. I now bribe for any result between 18-20/20...

FYI - 'ass whooping' can also mean, 'time out', no toys/games/tv, silent treatment etc...

3. I said I'd never let my kid have a dummy.

Actually, none of my kids have ever had a dummy. However, I do have one thumb sucker (and if anyone has tips on how to get him to stop they would be greatly appreciated). But there was this one time during a long haul car trip where my baby was SCREAMING, so I stopped and tried desperately to shove a dummy in her mouth. We were so close to our destination, and after 6 hours in a car I just wanted to get there. I would have sold my soul to the devil if my baby had taken the dummy for me at that moment, but it lasted only a minute before it was out of her mouth and on the floor. I was not anti-dummies after that.

4. I said I'd never formula feed my babies.

I breast fed all three of my children for varying lengths of time, however there were the odd occasions where I resorted to formula feeds when my poor organisation left me with no expressed milk (or not enough expressed milk) to last while I was away. I once attended a wedding when my first baby was only a few months old. She was strictly breast fed and I had expressed enough milk for what I thought would last for the duration of the wedding. My mother was babysitting her for me. In the first hour all the milk was gone, and after screaming for however long, my poor mother was left with no other option than to go to a pharmacy and buy bottles, formula and the whole kit and caboodle to feed my poor, starving baby. While she dealt with that, I was stuck at the wedding, forced to go and 'hand express' milk into the toilets at regular intervals as my engorged breasts started turning to stone. I'm pretty sure I would have vowed I would never hand express into a toilet at a wedding too, had I known that was a possibility, but it's one of those things we find ourselves doing as first time mothers.

5. I said I'd never let a room full of people see me naked.

The only time I would ever allow that was if I was in labour. That's how you know you're in REAL labour... when a room full of strangers enters the room and you couldn't care less. This happened to me with my first baby. Since then I have had my boobs out on show during breastfeeding,  (pretty much for the whole world to see at times), and now going to the doctors for any number of 'female tests' doesn't bother me at all.

6. I said my kids would never eat a whole bunch of foods.

Mostly my kids are pretty good eaters. They love fruit. One even loves all veges! They will eat almost anything put in front of them (almost...), but here I am, all these years later, and I could tell you what my kids will order from McDonalds when we are there (we lives 250km from the nearest fast food outlet thank goodness), and that they love (ewwww) Nutella. I do draw the line at a large number of foods, but the point I am making is that my kids have tried it all. Thy might not eat it regularly, but they still know what it all is.

7. I said they'd never be able to watch certain movies at certain ages.

I'm still fairly strict about it, but I have probably let them watch more than I said they would at their ages. They love girly movies, so sometimes we have 'rainy day movie days' where we watch soppy love stories like 'Ever After' and 'Mamma Mia'. Recently my 7 year old came into the lounge room while 'Jurassic Park' was on, and looked up just in time to see a man get eaten by a dinosaur. After a quick explanation about how that could NEVER happen in real life and the whole 'it's just a movie' speech, I have endeavoured to be more careful about this now...

8. I said I'd never have an uneven number of kids - specifically 3 - because someone is always left out.

WHY GOD WHY???!!! Here I am with 3 kids... and yes, they fight. Yes... they pick sides against each other and YES, I think constantly that surely 4 must be better than 3. But that boat has long sailed now...

I suppose the point I'm making is that EVERY DAY I break another of my 'I said I'd never do that' rules.

And to be fair, I think I've still done okay as far as parenting goes. These kids have their moments, but mostly they are pretty cool, friendly and likeable street angels. Yes, street angels. You know the ones... they do everything right in public and then the minute you get behind closed doors they spiral down into a mutated version of their former selves. This meltdown usually lasts until they are asleep. But I digress, these kids are almost exactly how I wanted my kids to be. They are happy, healthy, clever little people. We have a lot of love in our house, and eve though I manage to screw up daily, somehow these kids are resilient enough to wear it.

And I love them for it.

Is there anything you said you'd never do, that you do?