Read the Paper with EssentiallyJess. (The one where I turn into my dad)

Memory Cove Adventures

It started innocently enough.

My unit lecturer suggested that we read more newspapers and magazines so we could have better knowledge of publications to pitch ideas to. I’ll admit that was a stretch for me. My reading consists of my Bible, whatever novel I have on the go at the time (currently Looking for Alaska on the recommendation of Bec), my course workbook, IBOT links and whatever Facebook throws in my news feed on a particular day. Adding in magazines and newspapers feels like too many words (although, can you ever have too many words?).

But I’m a diligent student, and so I headed to the newsagent, determined to find some kind of publication to interest me.

It was a bit disappointing. I’m not a magazine girl. At all. It’s not that I don’t like the content, I just don’t like the ads. I don’t really care what’s on trend in clothing or homewares which is pretty much what women’s mags consist of. I take the same amount of interest in looking at a perfectly decorated room as I do when I flick through one of Boatman’s fishing mags and I come across a new type of outboard motor; in other words very little.

Confession:  I did actually buy these mags for me. But that's a blog post for another day.

Confession: I did actually buy these mags for me. But that’s a blog post for another day.

I’m sure there are magazines without lots of advertising, and if perusing the newsagent for an extended period didn’t get me weird looks from the staff, or see me distracted by the book section, I’m sure I would find them. But I haven’t and so I decided that sticking to the newspapers was the safest way to go.

It was this that earned me a dubious comment and look of consternation from Boatman one day. It was a few weeks ago, and one of the most perfect days that winter has thrown at us all year. The sun was shining, the temperature was slightly warmer, and it was the perfect day for getting out and doing stuff. So we coordinated with friends and decided to head out to Memory Cove, a wilderness sanctuary in the Port Lincoln national park.

Now this post isn’t about Memory Cove, but there probably should be one, because it is beautiful. Incredibly beautiful, and the drive out there reveals so many wonders of the Australian outback, that you could almost argue visiting the rest of Australia is pointless. (Well that’s a slight exaggeration, but it is amazing how the scenery encompasses such vastly different sites.)

Memory Cove Adventures

Anyway, I digress. Because Memory Cove is a Wilderness Protection Area, you need to obtain a key to enter it (easy enough to do). So we packed up the car with food, fishing stuff, the footy and the Webber Q, (almost had a run of pure F’s there), and headed into town to get the key, which is when I said it.

 The terrible thing that earnt me the look.

‘Can we stop at the newsagent on the way? I just want to get the Weekend Australian.’

I heard it at the same time Boatman did; my dad’s voice. Last year when Dad visited us, he would always make sure we got to the newsagent to get a copy of the WA. In fact one weekend, we took him to one of the most amazing beaches around (although they area all pretty great), and he spent the entire time in the car reading the paper.  My Dad loves the paper; has always loved the paper, and now, I fear, I’m following in his paper-loving footsteps.

You see that week, it was ok. Because the moment Boatman looked at me with ‘you sound like your dad’ eyes, I could justify myself. ‘It’s ok! It’s for TAFE! I don’t read the paper!’

But as the weeks have gone on, and I’ve picked up several copies of the latest news, something has changed in me; I’m starting to enjoy it.

Not so much the big papers; I feel like most of their really interesting stuff ends up on FB anyway, but our local rag is slowly worming its way into my life with heartwarming stories of canola. And wheat exportation. And water treatment plants. Never once in my life have I been excited by water treatment plants, and now I’m all ‘oh yay! Good for them! That’s wonderful news!’

iPhone photogrpahy is also worth adding into my skills repertoire. Aren't the canola fields pretty?

Awesome sideways shot I took of the canola fields a few weeks ago.

I put it down to living in a small town, where everyone knows everyone or knows someone who knows everyone. Where the abundance or lack of rain is actually treated with concern for the farmers. ‘Oh the farmers will be happy,’ is not a weird thing to think when it starts raining after you’ve hung your washing out. Reading the paper has become so much more than just catching up on the news, it’s more about finding out what matters to people; in fact I’ve become so enamoured with it, I briefly considered taking to Periscope to do my own ‘read the news with EssentiallyJess’ (A La Sandy Rivers from HIMYM), but that might be taking it too far. A blog post written on the excitement of booming canola crops and water treatment plants will have to do instead.

Even if it does make me sound like my dad.

And so I confess, while it started innocently enough, it’s not forced anymore. My name is Jess, and I like to read the paper. Just like my dad.

Do you read the paper?

Have you ever heard yourself sound like one of your parents?

Anyone want me to read the news on Periscope?

Linking for the first time in ages with Grace.

A Visit From the Inspiration Fairy. (And her somewhat violent demise.) #IBOT

She looks innocent and all inspirational, but really she just wants to hold you victim to her own crazy ideas

She flitters around wreaking havoc at the most unfortunate times. As I’m driving the car, or making dinner, or engaged is some deep, important conversation with a child that needs my undivided attention, there she is. Sitting on my shoulder shouting ‘look at me!’

And because I am making dinner or driving a vehicle or marvelling in the wonder that is my offspring, I politely tell her ‘I’ll be back soon,’ which she takes to mean ‘sod off I have no desire to speak to you ever again,’ and then disappears into the abyss. It’s just rude I tell you.

She looks innocent and all inspirational, but really she just wants to hold you victim to her own crazy ideas

She looks innocent and all inspirational, but really she just wants to hold you victim to her own crazy ideas

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And so yesterday, when she breezed in, all nonchalant ways, and I was reheating spaghetti sauce, I played it all cool, until I ran her down and tackled her when she least expected it. Just grabbed her right there in the kitchen, that psycho little, techno dancing Inspiration Fairy, and in an uncharacteristic violent rage, induced by a supreme lack of mojo, I pulled her wings off so she couldn’t leave ever again, and decided to blog. About what I had no idea even as I did it, but I was determined. It’s been three weeks of just one lonely little post a week as that fairy hip hops her way in and out of my imagination, and I’m beginning to think that all those Pro-blogger posts about the death of personal blogging were referring to me. ‘Have you been to Essentially Jess’ page lately? Apart from IBOT it’s like tumbleweeds just blowing through the street. Soon there will be nothing but a page with a tombstone reading, “Here lie the last words EssentiallyJess will ever write. Please contact admin if you find a spelling/grammatical error.”‘ Although there will be no admin because the fairy did away with that, so the only thing to my name will be all the errors I searched for and never found.

Kind of like an anticlimactic pirate movie with fewer peg legs and talking parrots.

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The bizarre thing is, that prior to that silly little fairy tip-toeing her way in and out of my subconscious, I was all, ‘do I really want to blog?’ I was feeling a little flat. A little subdued. A little, ‘what’s the point?’

When people I barely know would mention my little ‘space’ here, I wanted to climb up on my supremely high horse and say with all manner of condescension, ‘I’m more than just a blogger you know?’ Which in hindsight is very true, but the rest of me isn’t labelled quite as neatly or nicely, and let’s face it, those people were just being super nice and kind and they don’t deserve that kind of haughtiness. That’s reserved for me by that intolerable Inspiration Fairy who thinks she rules the world.

But the lack of words, and time, and inspiration that seems to delight in abandoning me at the times when I could use it the most, have meant that when I did blog the other day (a delightful draft just waiting for approval from the lovely people who asked me to write it), I was so very happy to do it. I was bouncing around on the balls of my feet like a supercharged energiser bunny, or that somewhat subdued Inspiration Fairy who’s since had a wing removal.

Like Baby Bear in Old Hat New Hat, one happily completed blog-post written at a convenient time, has inspired me to don that old brown hat, pull up the rusty shutters and declare that EssentiallyJess is not dead and buried just yet. I am convinced I shall live to blog another day, but more than that, I actually want to. (I mean, besides here for IBOT. I couldn’t give that up.  IBOT is more techno and happening than the Inspiration Fairy, and more energising that fruitloops with red cordial. Which I promise I didn’t eat before writing this post, although I would forgive you for thinking so. )

In other news... Did anyone else love this book as a child?

In other news… Did anyone else love this book as a child?

So to answer all the deep thoughts that have been pushing that fairy to the corners of the room since Pro-Blogger posts infiltrated the net waves, I don’t think personal blogging is dead and my why is simply, at this point, because I want to do it. And that’s good enough for me.

Anyone else had limited visits from the Inspiration Fairy lately?

Do you know why you blog?

How good does it feel to just write cause you can? :)

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Don’t Over Think It – A (somewhat) Interesting Tale About Finding Interesting Things #IBOT

Don't overthink simple questions

So TAFE went back officially last week. I was all excited by one of my units, and significantly less excited by the other. I’m sure the excitement will come, but for now, I’m just reminding myself that learning new skills is usually good. I decided it would be easier to remember if I made a special graphic — it’s good to procrastinate with Word Swag.

learning new skills is usually good

Which brings me to today (learning, not procrastination).

wordswag is great for procratinaion

My less-than-exciting first assignment for the semester involves deciding an area of interest which I could write about for the purpose of publication. (In a magazine or newspaper.) For someone who has managed to write at least one ‘article’ a week on this here blog for the last four and a half years, you would think that would be an easy task. I certainly did.

However it turns out that asking me what I’m interested in, is akin to asking me how my week has been; I’m going to look at you blankly and then say something pointless like, ‘I got lots of washing done.’ #truestory I don’t do well with simple questions. They stump me.

Unfortunately, I don’t think an article on my abilities to put clothes in a machine and then hang them out, is quite what my lecturer is looking for.

Of course, the more I thought about it, the more I overthought about it, until I was almost hyperventilating with the anxiety of not having any interests at all, or writing talent, or possibility of a future that was not defined by, ‘well, I got lots of washing done…’ It was all very midday TV movie like.

Thankfully (or perhaps not), it appears I am not the first person to have a dilemma defining where my interests lie, and so the lovely TAFE people put some prompts in the course workbook, to help all the panicking students out. Being nothing but a diligent student, I took to the questions with great enthusiasm, jotting down my answers  on a very official looking piece of scrap paper, with a light blue pen, determined to discover what it is I actually like enough, to write about well enough, for someone to want to publish it.

It was an enlightening process.

It began innocently, with: What are your qualifications?

Hmmm… well I have a driver’s license,  a police clearance check –although I’m not sure that’s ‘technically’ a qualification — and an RSA. (Responsible Service of Alcohol.) So basically I’m qualified to look after kids (kind-of), drive a car, and know that alcohol should not be mixed with those two activities.

There’s an article right there. 😉

Next: do you have any skills?

See above comment about washing. Also, I am able to write arguably interesting, though somewhat passive-aggressive blog posts about my skills or lack thereof, update Facebook on a semi-regular basis, and watch TV while ironing. (I am also skilled enough to know I cannot write ‘whilst’ ironing.) I should also add that I have been growing an avocado plant from seed, and my husband and children think I make the best garlic bread in the world.

baby avocado

A recipe article maybe? Garlic and Avocado bread?

iPhone photogrpahy is also worth adding into my skills repertoire. Aren't the canola fields pretty?

iPhone photogrpahy is also worth adding into my skills repertoire. Aren’t the canola fields pretty?

What are your present and past occupations?

Well, I’m a mum, and we’ve already established I can feed and look after the kids, as well as drive them around.

I did the bottle shop thing; hence the RSA.

I occasionally dabble in some freelance copywriting (thankfully I get given the ‘interest’ in that situation), and let’s not forget my past vocation as a pizza delivery driver.

Cars, kids, wine and food- I’m sensing a theme here.

What are your hobbies?

Writing, blogging, and lamenting the need to introduce myself on internet forums.

I like Greys Anatomy, and have newly discovered Rookie Blue. I have a totally self-indulgent blog post comparing the two, drafted in my head. I could happily write an article on that?

Do you have family and friends and what do they do?

Yes, I do have them. Boatman would like me to write for fishing magazines.

Sadly, that’s been the most inspiration for articles I’ve had all week. No seriously; I have so many ideas I’m not entirely sure who I am any more.

'How to wear a beanie while fishing.'  An article inspired by Boatman himself.

‘How to wear a beanie while fishing.’ An article inspired by Boatman himself.

What are your ambitions? Where is your life going?

Right now I think I would just like to find a topic of interest that I can adequately pitch to some actual publication. And after that, I think I’ve got some washing to do…

The funny thing is, I’m actually quite a purposeful person. I can talk quite easily and freely about the things I’m passionate about, and I can (and do) write about them too. If the mood strikes me, and I  see a valid reason in doing so. For some reason though, simple questions are my kryptonite, which leave me staring into a black abyss full or uncertainty and self-flagellation.

I’m over it now. Taking the pressure off myself, I was able to come up with several ideas, and even begin drafting that interesting article that is not about driving cars, how to grow an avocado from seed by ignoring it, or the best pasta to eat with your wine. (Although there’s an idea!)

The moral of the story, for me at least is clear: when it comes to simple questions, you just have to not overthink it.

Don't overthink simple questions

So what about you?

Do you ever get stuck on simple, questions?

How’s your week been? 😉

 

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Cops, Robbers and Perfect Skin

optiva range

This is a product review. All opinions are my own.

Are you a patient person?

I like to think I am, but then I like to think a lot of positive things about myself that possibly aren’t as true as I would hope. :)

I do try to be patient. I know that I miss the mark on a very regular basis, particularly when there is a need to get out the door at a certain time, or food is going cold (HATE that), or long meandering sentences are spoken to me when I’m right in the middle of doing something.

So yeah… maybe I’m not that patient after all.

I have discovered recently too, that my patience is pretty much non-existent when it comes to TV. Or particular programmes on TV as the case may be. You see I recently found a new show on Presto, and I am hooked. Not that I actually watch a lot of TV really, and when Renee wrote recently about her Netflix addiction I thought, “that wouldn’t’ happen to me.” However, it appears I’ve found my kryptonite. What started as just a simple and innocent desire to watch something new when on my elliptical trainer (because there’s only so many times you can watch every season of Grey’s Anatomy on DVD back to back- even for me), has become an unprecedented addiction, that’s threatening to consume all my waking hours.

I have found the cop show version of Greys.

Yes seriously.

Rookie_Blue

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Wikipedia even said so.

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We are talking rookie cops thrown into dramatic situations, with complicated love interests and a slightly neurotic female lead. It doesn’t have quite the same devotion to story detail that Greys has, and its soundtrack isn’t as fabulous, but because it’s a cop show, people getting shot or blown up is a little bit more believable than it is on its medical counterpart. Also, the main male character hasn’t been killed yet, so that’s a definite positive. :)

The only thing is, I’m still waiting for the ‘it couple’ to be ‘it.’ It’s taking a long time — Dr Quinn Medicine woman long– and it’s driving me nuts. And because there’s four seasons available on my T-Box, the desire to binge watch all of them right now in the futile attempt for closure, is seriously tempting. Gone are the days when I was content to wait till next week to see what happened (although I still do that with regular TV): instead I have become an impatient woman who is seriously considering ironing all day so I have a valid excuse to commandeer control of the controls.

Thankfully I have somewhat enough self-control to stop myself from becoming totally engrossed in a show, that, let’s face it, will do nothing to make my life better, but it has got me wondering about my complete lack of patience in this regard. Why is it so important to me to find out of McNally and Swarek ever actually get together?

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Of course a few years of watching complicated romantic comedies suggests to me that while it ‘won’t happen over-night, it will happen,’ and it’s with that line in which I segue into the review portion of the post. (Like how I did that? :) ) Because it’s not just dramas of the television variety that have me wanting to see instant results, but also skin care products. And just like I blame Presto for causing me to lose patience with Rookie Blue, I’m blaming this on those little pore cleaning strips that you can attach to your nose. You stick them on, pull them, and wa-lah! Instant change. They are very cool.

Thankfully when I received a range of skin care products recently from Optiva, they came with a ‘you’ll see results in two weeks’ disclaimer so I was content with waiting, and I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. My skin gets quite dry in winter, and pigment discolouration more visible, but using these products I’ve found that I’m not only moisturised sufficiently, but my skin tone is more even.

optiva range

It’s no happily ever after on a new addictive cop show, but my skin feels a lot better than it has for a long while, a fact which is actually a lot more satisfying than a frustrating love triangle. You can check out the Optiva range here. (No patience required :) )

So there you have it. Skin care products, Presto and the Greys Anatomy of cop shows; three things bound to teach you patience and give you somewhat flawless skin. (And if you have kids you’ll get a bonus refresher lesson every three minutes.)

Are you a patient person?

Do you find television occasionally too addictive?

How’s your skin?

Happy Social Media Day #IBOT

You too, can look as happy as this lady on Umbrella Cover Day

Did you know that yesterday was International Mud Day?

I did. Only because kindy decided to celebrate it with a barbecue and mud painting, and it coincided with my older kids being off school (they finish a week early) so we could celebrate all things mud together. Miss Ava was  very  excited. (Mostly about the celebrating; less about the mud.)

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It got me thinking how these days there is literally a day for just about everything. As a kid I remember we had Jump Rope for heart Day, Red Nose Day, Mothers and Fathers Day, and Christmas Day. That was pretty much it. (Easter is technically a weekend.) Then I got older and more days started appearing. There was International Women’s Day (also my birthday for those playing along at home), Daffodil Day, and Autism Awareness Day to name a few.

Now there’s nothing wrong with having a ‘day’ to celebrate certain things, or raise much-needed community awareness, but there are also some pretty random ‘important days’ thrown into the mix.

For instance, according to daysoftheyear.com, Sunday was Insurance Awareness Day. I assume that means we are all supposed to sit down and analyse any and all forms of insurance and how they are working for us?

Yesterday, apart from being International Mud Day, it was also Camera Day (snap happy everyone), Please Take My Children To Work Day (a day for the SAHM’s it seems), Almond Buttercrunch Day (because why not?),  and Waffle Iron Day (let’s all take a moment to be thankful for the machines that bring us square shaped pancakes).

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I’m sorry, because I like waffles and mud as much as the next person, but do these things really need a day? It just seems a little extreme to me.

If however, you like celebrating random days, and are disappointed you missed any of these, never fear, because the rest of the week brings you plenty of opportunity for celebration.

Wednesday is Meteor Watch Day, as well as Second Half of the Year Day. Woo hoo.

Thursday sees us celebrating ‘I forgot Day.’ I personally can get well behind that one if it excuses a lack of milk or barbecue sauce in the house.

On Friday it’s Disobedience Day; for the sake of your sanity and the good of society, don’t tell your children. Also, WHY IS THIS AN ACTUAL DAY?!

Saturday you can choose to hop a park, build a scarecrow or have ‘independence from meat’ as part of your day celebrations, and Sunday it’s all about Bikini Day. (Followed, oddly enough by Umbrella Cover Day.)

You too, can look as happy as this lady on Umbrella Cover Day

You too, can look as happy as this lady on Umbrella Cover Day

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Honorable mentions also have to go to Monday the 6th of July for ‘Take your Web Master to lunch day.’ Bloggers, take note. 😉

It’s got me thinking, can we just make up days now? What is the required procedure to get a ‘day’ commemorated? If I put it on the internet is it enough? Because there are a few days I think need to be introduced. Such as:

National Find a Sock Day. I’m over odd socks that never have pairs. It drives me nuts! And I’m starting to believe the washing machine doesn’t eat them, because last week, the odd sock of one of Bridie’s friends, ended up in Bailey’s school bag (along with half an eaten apple). HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!

International No Barking Day. I’m pretty keen for my dog to take part in this. This may also coincide with international ‘no walking other dogs near my property’ day, ‘no delivery of mail’ day, and ‘no whipper snippers in a 5km radius’ day.

National Obedience Day. I’m still bemused that the opposite actually exists. I think I speak for the general population when I say a day of complete compliance with no backchat, questions or rolling of eyes, would be bliss.

Let a writer write Day. And all the writers in the crowd nodded their head and agreed wholeheartedly.

Let the writers write. Then they can all be as happy as this guy.

Let the writers write.
Then they can all be as happy as this guy.

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International Catch a Squid Day. This was a request from Boatman. Obviously it can’t coincide with ‘let a writer write day’ otherwise one of us is going to be very frustrated with looking after kids – unless it also coincides with National Obedience Day and International No Barking Day. Then we might all be happy.

What about ‘International Create a Whole New Day, Day.’ A day solely devoted to creating new days to satisfy any and all needs of humanity, no matter how random or supposedly insignificant.  (Zip Code Day? Why does that even exist?) Because, let’s face it, as much as there as some really important days out there, there are some completely inconsequential ones as well.

Thankfully though, for the sake of bloggers and IBOT, today is pretty good one. Not only is it my Bridie’s Ninth Birthday, (Happy Birthday Brides), but it’s also Social Media Day. The one day of the year where arguably no one can resent you spending all day on Facebook, Twitter, or even better: reading IBOT posts.

Because seriously, what else would you rather be doing anyway? 😉

Did you celebrate International Mud Day?

What day would you create?

How will you celebrate Social Media Day?

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So You Think You Can Dance? #IBOT

Essentially Jess Photographer

If you’ve ever seen me attempt to dance, you would know that it’s not the most graceful event to witness. Picture a drunk giraffe wearing heels, and you will have some idea of the level of coordination and sophistication I display when it’s time to ‘shake my groove thang.’ (Boatman said it’s not that bad. Bless his heart. :) )

Sadly, dancing is one of those things I’ve always wished I could do; in my head I’m one of those movie stars who spontaneously joins a dance off in a bar, and busts so many cool moves that everyone stops to stare and cheer me on. In reality… well see example above. So it’s fair to say that Dance Camp is not the most logical place to find me. In the game of ‘Where in the world is EssentiallyJess?’ the odds on me being anywhere near an organised dance event as anything other than a spectator are slim to none.

The chances of finding me at that event in the capacity of ‘cook’ or ‘photographer’ is even more insane.

So guess where I was last weekend?

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It started out as me sending Taylah to dance camp because she, thankfully, has a style all of her own and is able to dance better than a disproportionate flamingo with the coordination of a land-based walrus. (How’s that for a descriptive sentence?) It then became a request for me to attend the event for a few hours in the evening, in  the capacity of chaperone to fill a need for legally endorsed adultness.

That then morphed into me being required to arrive at the start of camp, and possibly help out in the kitchen if help was needed.

From there I became officer in charge of photo booth shenanigans.

Essentially Jess Photographer

Let’s just take a moment to back up here; as a cook I do ok. I feed my family and thus far no one has died or suffered poisoning on my behalf. I can bake a mean cake, and last week I cooked a very attractive cannelloni dish.

I am NOT a caterer though. Not even close. I can follow directions and look very intently at a dishwasher to see if it’s working (two things I did very well, if I do say so myself), but that’s about the extent of my camp kitchen abilities.

I joked to more than one person that the only thing more random than finding me at Dance Camp, was finding me in the kitchen at dance camp.

And then came my other ‘career,’ innocently started with the question ‘do you know how to take photos?’ Sure I can. In fact I liken my photo taking ability to that of my dance ability; in my mind I am a professional. I just point and snap and produce works of art that adorn my walls. In reality, my photos are good enough for  just us, and occasionally Instagram, and my living room wall mirrors a Taylor Swift song. (Blank Space. Things I learnt because of Dance Camp.*)

Regardless of skill or level of coordination, I am nothing if not a woman up for one very random challenge, and so I figured if I was already wearing the label of ‘dancing cook photographer’ I might us well live up to it. Donning one fabulous neon green hat, I joined in Rock and Roll classes, and can now proudly proclaim that I know sufficiently enough moves to be an extra on a Grease remake.** And I think I kind of rocked it (excuse the pun). Of course I was partnered with an eleven-year-old girl who was very forgiving of my two left feet and more concerned with whether or not I could do a cartwheel, which I’m proud to say I achieved with possibly more grace and success than anything else that weekend.

EssentiallyJess

The success of the weekend  (in particular the cartwheel and the ability to move my feet whilst saying aloud ‘step, step, rock, rock’), briefly had me considering a change in career. Why blog when you can be a superstar rock and roll dancer, acting as your own photographer, cooking your own masterpieces, and cartwheeling like the best of them? It seemed only natural that I take  The Next Step (boom tish) in creative endeavours, and sign myself up as a Dance Camp captain.

Waking up the next morning and feeling like I had been hit by a truck, with sore arms, feet and a desperate desire to understand how anyone is able to function on less than a full night’s sleep quickly squashed those dreams. Some people are made for music and late nights; I’ll quite happily take being curled up on my couch with my lap top.

And if I ever feel the urge to dance again; well at least I have proof that someone else things I’m not that bad. 😉

great dancer

Have you ever been to dance camp?

How’s your coordination?

*I did know about Taylor Swift before Dance Camp.

** That may be a gross overestimation of my skills.

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The Mystery of Fishermans Paradise. A Choose Your Destiny Story

rock

Some of this story is based on real events. The rest is absolute rubbish. 

On the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula, just outside of the picture perfect town of Streaky Bay, there is a small community of shacks in a place aptly named Fishermans Paradise.
Paradise because it clearly is; views of white sandy beaches, and perfect waves breaking on hidden reefs abound.

smooth pools
Fishermans‘ because in this part of the country, fishing bag limits can be reached in minutes. (Forty of them, but still).

It is here that you find yourself on a June long weekend, with winter on its best behaviour. You’ve had cool, refreshing nights, followed by breezy sunny days that mean fishing, kayaking and watching the kids play in the ocean, where friendly seals come to visit.

looking out to sea

Come evening, you sit outside with three of your friends, watching the flames of your bush fire dance over long planks of wood. A thousand stars twinkle in the clear night, casting their light as they wait for the moon to rise. The night is black and you can’t even see the ocean a few hundred meters from the front yard, although the sound of the swell occasionally breaks through your chatter.

There’s lots to talk about around the campfire. The absence of satellites in the night sky is a key discussion topic.

‘Probably why we have no phone reception,’ someone (who fails to see the interest of this topic),remarks.

Someone else brings up their discovery of a bong on the beach today, and you are all relieved none of the kids found it.

Wine is poured, and cups of tea, and the fire is continually provoked, keeping the chill of the night at bay.

At some point, you all become distracted by the headlights of a car slowly winding down the road; this part of the world is sufficiently isolated enough that this is an event. Especially at 9:30 at night.
‘I wonder where they have been?’ someone says.
‘Probably the pub,’ someone else replies.
‘You never know, they could have been at church,’ the optimist of the group says.
‘Long church service,’ you respond.

‘Maybe they are out here to bury a body.’
Everyone giggles at the ridiculousness of the statement, until…

The car, already driving slow, stops and lets someone out.

‘Well I guess they didn’t like him.’

The car moves on, slower still, then stops again. The driver and another passenger get out, and together with the first passenger, do something on the far side of the car, hidden in the blackness of the night. You all watch with some curious trepidation; the body comment seems less funny now.

‘Maybe it was them that lost the bong?’ one of your friends suggests.

‘Maybe they are releasing Bilbies into the wild,’ comes another, extremely random pondering.

‘Or they actually are burying a body.’

Moments later, the three climb back into the car, and it slowly begins to wind its way back up the quiet streets, going to who-knows-where, its purpose as hidden as the ocean on this moonless night.

The next morning, you go exploring and find the following:

  • Car trackstyre tracks
  • Animal excrement
  • A large rock loosely placed back into a hole in the dirt
  • Two scattered sticksrock

From this you  conclude that one of four things happened.

You must choose your own adventure. What do you think was happening?

The occupants of the car were burying a body.
The occupants of the car were releasing bilbies into the wild.
The occupants of the car were collecting firewood.
The occupants of the car were looking for their missing bong.

Which adventure did you choose?

In all truth, we have no idea what happened. Or why anyone thought Bilbies were being released into the wild.

This will forever remain, The Mystery of Fishermans Paradise.

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Kimmy, the Panda who Loves #IBOT

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So it’s ‘write a human interest piece week’ for TAFE this week, which also happened to coincide with Kimmy the pet panda from BJ’s class coming home.

As a result, this blog post just wrote itself. 

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She might look happy, but Kimmy’s smile hides her secret pain. This is a bear without a home; a teddy with no one to love her.

When I sat down to talk to Kimmy on the weekend, she didn’t say a lot. But then she didn’t really need to. The haphazard way in which she had been abandoned on the couch said more than her sewn on mouth ever could. It was there that I heard her story.

Kimmy, like most stuffed animals, has always dreamed of being loved. She hoped to have a child take her home and make her their ‘special teddy.’ Her dreams included snuggling in bed on cold winter’s mornings, being dragged to parks and cafes and the houses of friends. She longed to feel the euphoria of being pushed around in a doll’s stroller,  the fear of thinking she was left in a shopping centre trolley, and the satisfaction of being the only one able to calm a tearful kindy kid. Kimmy never wanted much in life; only  to be loved, the way she knows she can love others.

And she is. In a way that some toys never are; children fight over her and beg to take her home. They write stories about their activities with her, and draw pictures of their times together.  She’s gone to sleep overs and church, and football games. She’s played with other  toys, been to Subway, and visited the beach more times than any other stuffed animal ever has.  But none of that can make up for the feelings of displacement and confusion that Kimmy battles with on a daily basis. The constant wondering about her identity, and where in the world, she actually belongs.

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Kimmy is the victim of a nation wide epidemic, sweeping through Australian primary schools. A terrifying situation, the tales of which haunt the sales rack of department stores, and the conveyor belt of toy production lines.

Kimmy, is a class teddy.

Like many other dogs, bears and even the occasional crocodile before her, Kimmy was hand selected by a teacher to be a fun learning tool for a classroom. She spends her weeks trapped inside a special plastic bag waiting for the weekend, when she is farmed out to a pre-selected child; a decision which she has no say in. She is then subjected to a weekend full of ‘interesting’ activities, forced to have her photo taken repeatedly, and occasionally thrown through the washing machine when landing in the home of a germaphobic parent.

Kimmy is often read to and snuggled, and played with for an entire weekend, which, she admits, is great. But she spends all week wondering where Friday will take her – and how well she will be received.  Kimmy has seen the looks that pass over the faces of mothers, when she comes home; the barely concealed frustration of a woman who is trying to be gracious about now having an extra toy to supervise,  and weekend homework to complete. If she could somehow make them see that she doesn’t mean to be a pain, and that all she really needs is someone to love her for a few days, she is sure they wouldn’t be so upset.

Of course sometimes she acknowledges that she loves too much, and there is a hole left in the family when she goes back to school. She tries to be brave, but seeing the tears of heartbroken children is a painful reality of her lot in life, and she’s gradually learning to shut herself off from it.

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For Kimmy, life is not like it is for other teddy bears. It’s unpredictable, unfulfilling, and more than occasionally,  uncomfortable. But despite the fear of the unknown, and her own resultant identity issues, Kimmy is determined to continue do what she knows how to do best: love small children, in any way that they need it.

And she’s doing it well.  :)

Kimmy 2

Have you had a ‘Kimmy’ come to stay at your place?

Are you a fan of class teddys?

Does anyone else feel the need to bathe them in hand sanitiser? 😉

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I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing (Except I don’t mind missing a few things) #IBOT

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This post brought to you from the inspiration of the coolest 90’s play list on Spotify.

Remember when you were like, seventeen, and you saw the Animal Cracker love scene on Armageddon for the first time? And it wasn’t even that the scene was all that great, but the sound track swelled and Liv Tyler was all, ‘baby do you think it’s possible that anyone is doing this very same thing at this very same moment?’ And Ben Affleck was all, ‘I hope so, because otherwise what the hell are we trying to save?’ And your seventeen year old heart almost burst along with Aerosmith’s lyrics, because you knew, in that very moment, exactly what true love was.

No?

Maybe it was just me.

Man, I was sure that song was it. That was love. Because when love (or perhaps infatuation) is new, you can actually stay up all  night, and every little thing is huge. The thought of losing any one moment is just too terrible to bear, and you actually don’t want to miss a thing. (As a teen I was also incredibly swept up by the notion of saving the world, and that particular line delivery, but that’s a blog post for another day 😉 )

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image credit

Love is different when you’re grown up isn’t it? More realistic mostly, allowing for more sleep occasionally, and less questionable a good portion of the time.

I have distant memories of being obsessed with one particular boy as a teen, and my mother one day telling me that a boy had called, but she didn’t know who. First up, I was like ‘why didn’t you ask?’ Not just for courtesy’s sake, but I am a little concerned she didn’t rain down the equivalent of the Spanish inquisition upon whoever it was. Rest assured that when it comes to my own girls, I shall!

Secondly, I then rang my best friend to discuss who it could possibly be. After discounting any and all logical assumptions, we both decided it must be my crush. There was no other option, and it was only reasonable that I call him back. (Of course I had memorised his number from the phone book.)

Thankfully, for the sake of my dignity, (and ability to be seen anywhere in his vicinity ever again), he wasn’t home. And no one there asked who I was either – parents seemed much more relaxed back then.

It never occurred to either of us (my friend or myself), that perhaps my existence was a little less important to him, than his was to me.  He might as well have been the only male in the universe with a phone connection for all the conclusions we were drawing. It’s for this very reason that sometime in the not too distant future, I’ll be locking my eldest daughter up for the next decade. It’s the safest option. (I’m obviously joking.)

Oh how I am so glad I’m not that age any more.

Thankfully for Boatman and I, it didn’t take too long for ‘I don’t wanna miss a thing,’ to become ‘Don’t Speak,’ which probably inspired some clichéd eating of chocolate or ice-cream, but I can’t remember.

What I am aware of though, is that while I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing is up there as one of my all time favourite love songs, I’m quite happy for it to be metaphorical.

I actually do want to close my eyes.

I’m happy to miss some things.

I desperately want to fall asleep and stay asleep until I’m ready to wake up, and not because someone needs something, or chooses to hit their sister outside my bedroom door.

And I don’t want anyone to play with animal biscuits on my tummy; crumbs just aren’t cool people.

I will quite happily trade the hype and rush and emotion of good long songs and new romance, for sleep, sanity, and the comfort of my marriage.  And the swell of inspiring music or not, I  think that world is just as worth saving. :)

Do you have a favourite 90’s love song?

Were you a tragic romantic as a teen?

How do you feel about animal crackers?

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Am I Really A Mum?

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So it’s Mothers Day this week.

The day when mothers everywhere are either celebrated or forgotten; possibly a combination of both.

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I’m not quite as down on the day as I was last year, which is good. I’m sure the kids will do lovely things and it will all be as wonderful as it can be. I know that my children do love me. Or at least tolerate me from time to time 😉

There is something that has come to my attention though: Mothers Day sales. Now I don’t get a lot of catalogues in my mail box (to be honest I don’t have a lot of shops in my town), but I have seen a few online, and they have left me shaking my head. At first I thought it was because shops don’t understand (or like) mums, so they try to market all this really mundane stuff at us. But the more I looked at them the more it became clear, that based on the information supplied to me about what mums want, it’s entirely possible that I’m not actually a mother. (Four children who have come out of my body not withstanding.) The catalogues with their market driven ‘proof’ have shown me that I am not the person that this special day is aimed at.

This seemed the place to insert a random monkey image

This seemed the place to insert a random monkey image

For starters: I don’t want a dressing gown.

My mum bought me a dressing gown for Christmas one year when I was a kid and I cried. I’ve never understood dressing gowns. Get out of bed and get dressed is pretty much how I roll. If it’s four degrees in the morning then I just run to the bathroom. Problem solved. I have no desire to own a bulky piece of clothing that I put on to take off again. I don’t get it.

Also slippers. Just… No. All the major stores want mums to have slippers for Mothers Day and I don’t understand why. Is there some kind of slipper over-abundance, that they need to deal with? Is Mothers Day really ‘International Buy New Slippers Day?’ I got slippers once and they drove me nuts because I couldn’t wear them outside. If it’s cold and my feet need warming, I want ugg boots that I can wear out. And no, not down to the shops, (I’m not a complete bogan) but just to the washing line. You know, that place women hang out at for fun? I’ve got no time to change from slippers to shoes to get washing off the line. That’s insane.

On a similar vein to dressing gowns and slippers, let’s talk about pyjamas. Now I’m not opposed to the idea of pyjamas, but since when did Mothers Day become the ‘holiday’ to recognise the thing mothers never get? ‘Here, have new pyjamas, slippers and a dressing gown. You haven’t had uninterrupted sleep for the past 12 years, but at least you’re prepared, just in case it should happen.’ I think it’s a little mean.

I don’t want pyjamas for Mothers Day.

If mothers were an animal, they could be owls. Up all night, and wishing they could sleep all day

The tired eyes, the look of patient frustration… this owl is clearly a mum

More proof that I’m not a mum, is that I don’t like knick knacky things. I’m probably in the minority here, but I don’t like them. I hate having those things in my house. They collect dust and then I have to clean them. Or the kids want to touch them and they get moved, and then they never look like they are supposed to. So no, I don’t want a new vase or a pot or a bowl that you can put things in. I don’t want a candle that needs its own special display case. I don’t desire a statue of a woman and her child, or something similar. I don’t want them. That’s not me. I mustn’t be a mum.

I do not want this

I do not want this

I would tolerate candles presented to me in this fashion.

I would tolerate candles presented to me in this fashion.

 

This may come as a surprise to some department stores, but I already have shampoo, moisturiser, and, ‘shock-horror,’ deodorant. I’m a woman who visits the grocery story and buys these items when I need them. I wash my hair regularly, and maintain a healthy level of hygiene. I do not need to receive a bottle of Pantene for Mothers Day. If I was presented with one, I would be quite happy actually, as I would assume that someone else had done the entire grocery shop for me, and saved  a couple of hours of my time.

Apparently though, mothers don’t buy these things, so the second Sunday in May is the day to bestow them as gifts. It makes me kind of glad I’m not a mum.

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And the final proof that I’m not a mum?

This infographic. The other day when asked what I wanted for Mothers Day I said, ‘sparkling wine and a foot rub.’ That’s all. That would make me happy. Although it’s apparently in the minority of answers, apart from the lumberjack. Which fair enough – I never found one of those in the catalogues.

Lumberjacks for Mothers Day? Maybe not, but the kids would have fun playing with these guys. (And the fact I thought that is proof I'm a mum more than anything else.)

Lumberjacks for Mothers Day?
Maybe not, but the kids would have fun playing with these guys. (And the fact I thought that is proof I’m a mum more than anything else.)

So there you have it. Proof from the powers that be (i.e. major department stores), that I’m not a mum, and will not be celebrating this special day on Sunday with all the other ‘actual’ mums out there. Instead I’ll be commandeering a foot rub, a glass of bubbly, and a couple of hours reading Game of Thrones.

Happy non-Mothers day. :)

Are you a ‘mum?’

What are your plans for Sunday?

No disrespect to those of you who are greatly hoping for a dressing gown, clean hair and something pretty on your mantle. I hope you get just what your asking for :) xxx

Linking with Grace