31 March 2011

Blog Dilemmas and Follower Envy

This is a post only bloggers will "get". But those of you curious non bloggers, read on for a glimpse inside the twisted mind of an addicted blogger...

I had a shock realisation the other day. Not everybody in the world uses Internet Explorer. And Internet Explorer has its limitations and issues. But its the only browser that shows fonts up nicely.

Internet Explorer made my Book Club Page malfunction.
Google Chrome and Firefox work perfectly... but oh the ugliness of the display!
Oh the jaggy-edged fonts!
My pretty pretty screen font that I loved. Looked Awful. Awful.
So now I have reverted to plain old Georgia, which is the best of a bad bunch in all the browsers.

Have I lost you yet?
Or do you feel my pain?
Is this my screen's inadequacy, is it just me, or does Google Chrome show fonts up badly for all of you?

That's my first dilemma, with a question:
What browser do you use? And how do the fonts show up for you?

My next dilemma, Mrs Readalot's Book Club.
Mrs Readalot is perplexed. And mortified. Not one comment on her last post! (see how I remove myself from Mrs Readalot's pain?)
Mrs Readalot may just be a bookworm, but she has blog addictions too.
Can you hear her insecurities screaming, "Love me! love me! Leave a comment!"

And no replies to any Book Club Discussions. Shame, Mrs Readalot. You have failed to move your audience. Even those pictures of the Bound Feet did not evoke a single murmur.

Mrs Readalot thought at first it was a broken page. Nobody could post. In a panic she contacted BlogFrog. They told her, try it in another browser, and oh boy, it was 100% fine and dandy in Ugly Google Chrome.
Which mean *gulp* that nobody had even tried to vist her.

Now Mrs Readalot is lost. She asks meekly: Did people really want a bloggy bookclub? Does anyone know how to run one of these things? How do you do it? What do you do? (what do you people want????) Help!

OK, so now that Mrs Readalot has got her issues embarrassingly out on the table, its time to reveal my own secret obsession.


There I said it. I admit it. I want Followers.
Yeah, I know that Followers aren't everything. I know that the number in the Follower box is but a small percentage of actual readers.
I also know that many people click "follow" and never visit again.
So why do I get so excited when I log on and see that I have a new follower?
Or so embarrassingly bummed when I spot... one less.
All my insecurities shout, "They don't like you!! You p***d someone off!" or "Your blog is boring... they're sick of you and your endless issues..."

See what I mean? Shamefully woefully insecure about things that really don't matter.
I can tell myself that somebody who once clicked "follow" and never visited again was having a cull and couldn't remember me and my lovely blog... Yeah Right. As if I listen to such logic! I'm far too obsessed for such platitudes.

And then. I go blog visiting. And I see Follower Numbers that have me drooling.
500+ Followers! 800+ Followers!! 1000+ Followers!!

Its a case of the more you get the more you want.
I remember when I was a brand new blogger, and a member of the MBC Under 100 Followers Club. Reaching 100 Followers was the Promised Land.

And now look. I reached 200. Still not satisfied.
300. Still want more.

{is enough followers ever enough?}

So there it is, lovely readers, precious followers and silent lurkers.
I will post this in a few moments, putting myself out there to be mocked and scorned.
Those of you secure in yourselves will shake your heads and think, "There goes another victim of the Information Age..."

Will you judge me for my insecurity? Will you turn away from my shameful neediness? Or do you share my affliction?

Speak to me. Reassure me. Pat me down.
Be my friend, Like me. Follow me!

Visit Poor Mrs Readalot's Bookclub and tell her what you want.

And please please tell me which browser you use and whether I can safely return to my lovely Webfont or if I must stay here forever... in Georgia.
30 March 2011

Wordless Wednesday (Sort of)

Just an average Tuesday evening after dinner. Or so it would seem.

Somebody starts bouncing a ball and a small crowd gathers.

It's a feel-good moment so somebody grabs a camera.

The toddler hears the laughter from his bed and emerges, begging to play too.

Nobody can resist that smile. Bedtime is forgotten.

This day has been full of feel-good moments. Some photographed. Some merely observed.

At the centre of it all is a Big Brother who has stepped up to the plate.
A Big Brother going in to bat for his Little Sister.
This is how it went...

Big Brother {on the phone}: Hey Ed can I have a play date with you on Monday...? OK cool. See you then.
Little Sister {listening in}: Ohhhh not fair! How come he gets a playdate and not me?
Mummy: Because he picked up the phone and invited someone over. You can too, you know.

LATER {Mummy is around the corner out of sight as this conversation takes place}... SOUND OF a Phone Ringing {Dash likes to have phone conversations on Speaker phone}

Big Brother: {Ring ring! Ring ring!} Hello its Dash here... um, Dash G.? My little sister Miss Fab was wondering if Ruby was free for a playdate? Tomorrow? Friday? Ohhh not til next week... OK. Thanks anyway.

Dash {walking into the room while talking on the phone}: Hi its Dash here. Miss Fab was wondering would you like to have a playdate with her tomorrow? OK, can you ask your mum?... {pause}... oh you already have a friend coming over? OK. Thanks anyway. Bye.
Miss Fab: Is she busy?
Mummy {calling out}: Who was that Dash?
Dash: It was Yaz. She is busy until next week too.
Miss Fab: Oooohhhhhh!! Who am I going to play with?
Dash: Would you like to play with Miss Marvellous?
Miss Fab: Miss Marvellous! YES!! Yes a play with Miss Marvellous! Can you ring her Dash?
Dash: Sure.

{Ring ring. Ring ring.}

Miss Marvellous: Hello?
Dash: Hi Miss Marvellous its Dash here. Miss Fab was wondering if you would like a playdate?
Miss Marvellous: Yes. A playdate would be good.
Dash: OK, can you ask your mum what day...?
{a pause}
Miss Marvellous: My mum said Monday would be good.
Dash: OK, Monday then. Our house or your house?
Miss Marvellous: Your house?
Dash: Right see you on Monday then. Do you want to talk to Miss Fab...?

As Miss Fab eagerly grabs the phone and exits the room chattering excitedly to her friend, I felt a warm fuzzy glow steal over me. It has been a while since this Big Brother has shown such love and caring towards his sister, unprompted.

So later when that game of basketball broke out at bedtime, who was I to growl and chase people off to their beds? No, I ran to get my camera. And was pleasantly surprised that the warm fuzzies still lingers enough to make Dash willing to pose for a photo, cuddling his sister.

Times have been tough around here for a while. But things are looking up. ♥
28 March 2011

Mrs Readalot and the Books About China


Mrs Readalot has been doing a lot of reading lately, in between adopting cats, toilet training toddlers and trying to keep some big kids from braining each other.

Since Mrs Readalot got rid of Sky TV there is much less crap to watch so the rainy evenings are perfect for curling up with a good book.

Nothing worse than curling up with a bad book aye?

This week Mrs R turns her attention to Red Lotus, by Pai Kit Fai.
This book was recommended to her by Amy, in the Bookclub Discussion: Recommended Reading...?
Mrs Readalot was intrigued to read another story about China, especially one recommended by the lovely Amy who has great taste. Mrs Readalot's lovely friend (and BookClub Pal) Gail is heading off to live in China very soon *sniff* so it is good to be familiar with what lies in store for her dear friend.

Here are Mrs Readalot's thoughts on Red Lotus:

I opened this book and was drawn in very quickly. The writing style was beautifully matter-of-fact, and gave me an immediate sense that I was reading about exotic things, people and places, but that to the people living this story, this was all commonplace.

PhotobucketI loved the character of Li Xia, the young girl who evaded the custom of foot binding. I found her brave and believable.
I was fascinated with the customs and practises of China in the early 20th century.
Foot binding repels me. When I looked it up on Wikipedia, I was horrified. Horrified.

"Lotus Feet"

You would not believe the suffering of women in those days. the way they had no rights, no protection, no standing. The horror of little girl babies being drowned in the rice fields, or buried alive. Yes, really. Girls had no value. They weren't even counted as part of the family. Only sons mattered.

So hard to believe.

So this story gripped me... but I lost my way after the half way mark when the story focused on Li Xia's daughter Siu Sing. Sing did not resonate with me.

The last few chapters dragged and I stumbled through the ending, always uncaring about what happened.
I felt the author had lost his way, and wished he had focused the book completely on Li Xia.

But Still. A fascinating look at the lives of women in China before World War II. I would have given it four but for the dragged-out ending.


Mrs Readalot gives Red Lotus: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

 Other Books about China that Mrs Readalot has enjoyed are:
  • Wild Swans - by Jung Chang. A true story of three generations of Chinese women from the early 20th century through the cultural revolution (shudder) and up til today. Heartbreaking. Unbelievable the strength of the human spirit, the toughness of women and the love of mothers for their daughters.
  • Mao's Last Dancer - by Li Cunxin. Another fascinating book, and also a true story about a Chinese ballet dancer and his life through the upheaval of the cultural revolution also. How these people survived and succeeded through the hardest of trials I don't know. I doubt I would have survived.
  • PhotobucketThe Good Women of China - By Xinran. This book was the most impacting of all. A collection of true stories about women by one of China's earliest talk-back hosts, these stories left me reeling. I lay in bed at night thinking, how could anyone live through those times? And yet, they did. This book is small but perfectly formed.

Totally recommend all the above. ♥


Mrs Readalot would love to hear your thoughts on all or any of the books mentioned here on the Book Club Discussion...

Mrs Readalot is currently eagerly awaiting her turn to read Water for Elephants (she is 47/109 on the library request list) What are you reading right now?

Why not come by and share about it on our Book Club??

{Book Club Tip: When replying to somebody's post, highlight and copy the text using the "quote" marks on the right of the post and they will get a message that somebody has replied. Alternatively you can "Subscribe to the discussion by email" and you will get messages each time somebody replies}
27 March 2011

A Wet Weekend in Pictures


Wet sticky and muggy. A grotty start to the weekend.

The kids arrive home with raincoats dripping...


I dish them up lukewarm hot chocolate with cream and sprinkles on top. That puts a smile on their dials.


On Saturday the rain still drips. Daddy puts up the tent... inside.
Three noisy kids spread out their blankets and fight for space to lie down.
Was this such a great idea?
Sounded good.
An indoor tent, a DVD and a sleepover.


We leave the mess behind and head to the movies after some investigating.
Did you know that a family pass to St Lukes cinemas costs $55 whereas at Westgate they only charge $40?
It's true. So we went to Westgate. And got in for $35 for all of us, with our Entertainment voucher. Scrag is under three so he's still free. Bonus!

Dash had a go at "The Claw". He loosened a stuffed toy Rexy. He had it and then the cheating claw dropped Rexy right back on top of the pile.
"Please Dad! One more go!" he begged, confident in his skills.
"Sorry son, that machine is rigged..." daddy shook his head sadly, confident in The Claw's Rigged-ness.
Only we all watched in horror as a lady fed in her $1 and snagged Dash's Rexy, just like that. Gutted.

We watched Rango. It's pretty funny. At least the bits I saw. Yep. That's right.
You take a 2-year-old to a movie with a scary outlaw rattlesnake and don't expect to sit through the movie.
I guess there's a reason under 3's are free.


Its Sunday and still rainy. A misty muggy drizzle of moisture. I drag Miss Fab to the Library and we pick out some books. Look at that fascination on Scrag's little face. Priceless.

The big kids gather and listen too...

...and then the fun begins... Someone shouts, "Let's play hide and go seek!"

Amazing how much fun you can have with this classic game. How many funny places you can find to hide. How your kids squeal with laughter after they've walked past your hiding place five times and at last they spot you...


Daddy initiates a spontaneous geography quiz with the inflatable globe... where is... China? England? Africa? America? Our well-travelled offspring have a pretty good grasp of what is where...


And of course a bit of obligatory Wrestling. A few tears, banged elbows and elbowed noses but mostly laughter.


That was our wet weekend. How was yours?
25 March 2011

Loving... Around Here

Loving This Cute Cowgirl. And her homemade outfit that cost me $3.90 *smile*

Loving the way she poses for the camera. The way she turns things from her wardrobe into a cowgirl outfit. The way she puts all the bits'n'pieces in a bag ready for her little brother's party in three weeks. Love that she plans ahead.

Loving My Action Hero

A word of warning: before you play this clip, turn your volume down.

This guy is LOUD. But very cute.
He has Grandma in stitches on the webcam as he stands on the chair and sings at the top of his lungs, "YOU and ME! we can BE action heroes... woah! woah!" Just had to share it with you-all. Cos he makes me smile with his enthusiastic singing, this little super guy.

Loving Dash's Blog
He has blog-posted three times this week! Wahoo, I have a disciple!
Love his latest story, about how he loves Captain Underpants books.
{Love Captain Underpants. Way to get boys reading!!}

Love that he wanted to put this picture on his blog post...

Love that he has no shame...
and that he also has the makings of a true blogger.

He clicks "POST" and then races to see if there are any comments.
He turns on the computer and clicks to his blog to see if he has any new followers.

{ahhh go on and visit him and make him his day...}

Loving the Skills of This Guy...
He's not even a born and bred kiwi ya know. No.8 wire is not in his blood. But he has embraced the Kiwi DIY mentality, strapped on a tool belt and built our kids a phenomenal structure that will not blow down in a storm (or fall down under the weight of young pirates).

Love that it's nearly finished. Just a few finishing touches. Already the monkeys among us have found a way to climb up to the top level and play lego. Or launch feijoas at innocent passersby.

Loving that I just scored a cool-as slide off TradeMe for $120. It's solid-as. One of those heavy-duty moulded plastic ones... that also becomes a waterslide when you clip a hose on.
Isn't it cool??
It's a present for Scrag's birthday.
I think he'll love it, don't you?

And look. Here's his birthday invitation.
I finally finished it yesterday and sent it off to get printed onto magnets.

Scrag loves it.
He is absolutely tickled that he is Buzz Lightyear - he's desperate to dress up as Buzz. Lucky I have a cool-as Buzz/Woody reversible costume hidden away for his birthday aye?

So there's lots I'm loving.
But. I'm not loving that it's 9.30pm as I write this and my eldest two are still awake. Not loving that we're all missing Dave the cat. Not loving that I'm doing the Walk for Christchurch and I have done no prep, I have no shoes and I have no sponsors.
Apart from that, I'm smiling.

{and linking up with PaisleyJade here}
24 March 2011

Dirt is Good

On Friday afternoon the phone rang and who was calling? Ivan Vicelich, the All White, that's who.

Dash was offered the chance to Interview an All White footballer through Kiwi Mummy Blogs and the Persil "Dirt is Good" campaign. Persil are now sponsors of the Small Whites, encouraging kids soccer here in New Zealand. I'm all for that, with an up-and-coming future All White in our family. And you know me, I totally believe that Dirt is Good. Ask anyone!

So we were all ready for our interview when the phone rang, with questions that Dash had come up with by himself (with just a few suggestions from his mummy of course).

Here's a shortened version of the interview...

{for the whole thing visit Dash's Blog My Sporty Life}


DASH: How long have you been playing soccer?
IVAN: I started when I was around 6 or 7 years old for Massey AFC.

MUMMY: *whispers* But how long is that? We don't know how old he is...

IVAN: I'm 21! Hahahahaha... No really I'm 34 so I've been playing for a long long time.

{Mummy is thinking, awww, Ivan is nice. And funny too.}

DASH: What's the best thing about being an All White?
IVAN: Knowing that you're playing for your country. It's a great honour for me to play for my country and knowing that when I put the shirt on, I have all of New Zealand supporting us. It's a special feeling which is really unique.

{Mummy is thinking, yeah one day that could be you Dash. What a proud moment that will be...}

DASH: What do kids have to do if they want to be an All White?
IVAN: It starts with what you're doing now. Play hard, listen to your parents, listen to your coaches. Enjoy football and also put a lot of work in, and sacrifice along the way. But always enjoy football. And keep progressing and working hard cos its a long and difficult road, but a very enjoyable road and if you make it to be a professional footballer or an All White.

{Mummy is thinking, great advice Ivan! Yeah work hard, but enjoy it. It's all about having fun, really...}

DASH: What's your best advice about football?
IVAN: Work hard and always have a dream and work towards that dream. And always believe in yourself. You can reach your goals, there's no reason why you can't be an All White or play professionally. It's hard work but it's worth it.

{Mummy is thinking, wow, how cool that Dash gets to hear this from a guy who has done it. How cool that he gets to be encouraged by somebody who is living his dream...}

DASH: Cool. Well I think that's the end of my questions. Do you want to talk to my mum now?

IVAN: Sure. But first I have a question for you. What position do you play?

DASH: I started off as attacking midfield, but now I play striker. 

IVAN: Cool. Do you score lots of goals?

DASH: We've just started training for this season but in all the other games I have scored heaps of goals.

MUMMY: Yeah, Dash is a great goal scorer. In his first season his Team scored 62 goals and Dash scored 35 of them!

IVAN: Wow, that's impressive! Do you get dirty when you play?

DASH: Yeah it gets really rainy and muddy...

{Mummy is thinking, you have no idea!}

IVAN: Well, Dash, it's been nice talking to you. I have to go now but get in touch with me if there's anything I can help you with OK?

DASH: OK. Bye.

MUMMY: *whispering* Say thanks to Ivan...

DASH: Oh, yeah, um, thanks Ivan for letting me interview you!

IVAN: no worries :)

Before he hung up the phone Ivan told me that he wouldn't have been able to get where he has in football without the support of his parents. He said his mum was always sitting in the car with a book or her knitting, waiting for him to finish training.
"Support from the parents is so important," he said.

Totally. Totally agree with you, Ivan.
And why wouldn't we want to support our kid doing something he loves - and is so good at?

There are so many reasons why team sport is such a great thing for boys, in particular.

  • They get to learn that there are rules to be played by and consequences when you break those rules
  • They learn about winning and losing. You can't always win. But you can lose without being a loser.
  • They get to feel the joy of winning, scoring, achieving
  • They get to learn how to get up and try again after a defeat
  • They have another voice speaking into their lives, encouraging them, coaching them
  • They get to belong somewhere and contribute to the success of the team
  • They discover you can achieve more as part of a team than as an individual
  • They get to shine at something they are skilled at
  • They get to be part of something bigger than themselves
  • They learn and develop great skills, which gives them confidence and helps boost their self esteem
  • They get to expend energy, run, breathe fresh air, get muddy knees and dirty clothes - all the things that are an integral part of being a boy

Last year Mr G was Dash's football coach. This year we decided that having another voice coaching and encouraging him is what Dash needs right now.

He needs Daddy just to be daddy, on the sidelines cheering Dash on, being his Number One Fan and practise buddy, rather than his coach.

Training has begun. A new team, a new uniform, a new club right around the corner.
As always we are looking forward to the early misty mornings, the cheering and jubilation of goals scored, the celebration over pancakes, the burst of pride watching our star race down the field, cutting through the opposition and slotting the ball in the net.

We anticipate the encouragement we'll need to give when things don't go his way. When goals aren't scored. When games aren't won. The valuable lessons to be learnt in those moments.

Ah yes. We love the Football Season. Bring it On. Dirt is Good.

{PS Here's the All Whites Behind the Scenes of the Persil Small Whites commercial}