Sunday, January 18, 2015

NGV Summer Children's Festival 2015


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | NGV Summer Children's Festival

* NOT SPONSORED, JUST SHARING THE SCHOOL HOLIDAY LOVE. 

Last week was one of those annoying groundhog day weeks where every day kinda imitates the one before. Wake at the same time, shower, have in depth discussions about who's having what for breakfast, nag about fresh air and sunshine and basically enjoy the finer points of parenting all day until it all starts again the following day. By Saturday, I was ready to quietly climb out a window and run far, far away. (Instead, after hearing "Mum, I'm bored" for the 112th time, I screamed into a pillow for five seconds and felt much better).

By Sunday, it was more than time to get out of the house, have a 'Minecraft' RDO (rostered day off), and to see Melbourne in its usual finery. As part of that plan, we dropped in to the National Gallery Of Victoria Summer Children's Festival.

The Festival is great and it's all about art, craft, storytelling and fashion activities for kids of all ages. I thought Miss 11 might feel too old or too cool. She loved it. I thought Miss 6 might be too young. It was perfect for her. We helped iconic fashion designer Linda Jackson create a large scale opal-inspired billabong and we made wearable creatures with Cat Rabbit using cut-outs, colour and embroidery. We also managed a saunter around the iconic areas of the gallery and surprisingly Miss 6 kept enough composure NOT to get asked to leave. Bonus! (Aww...she's growing up. So proud).

We then ate Yum Cha from a hipster food truck out the front and that was the only bit we paid for. We felt totally smug about that.

So if you're madly trying to schedule entertaining and inexpensive activities to prevent the kids from burying their heads in devices (or each other) all day, get along to the National Gallery of Victoria Summer Children's Festival. It's ace. They'll love it, and it's free. Mum - 1 Minecraft - 0. Win!

The Festival runs until 26th January 2015 and program details can be found here. NGV Summer Children's Festival.





Friday, January 16, 2015

The Wasted Energy Of Envy


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | The Wasted Energy Of Envy
Envy - noun, plural envies.

1.a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.

Envy. It's perceived to be a pretty ugly trait isn't it? I've always thought that people who waste their time and energy on such an emotion are by definition ungrateful for their lot and have very much a 'glass is half empty' attitude. It's a black and white view which may be partly accurate, but now that I'm in my forties and have experienced a bit of what we call 'life's rich tapestry' (a nice way of saying the crappier bits of life) I'd say it's often a bit more complicated than that for some. Circumstances are usually to blame for a person's envy of another, and although it comes down to their perception of these circumstances, sometimes it's damn hard to see the majestic sunset through the dark forest, even for the most optimistic of us. And I get that.

To be even a little envious of others is hard to admit, and I'm not even sure that it's the correct name for the emotion I've been grappling with lately, but I now know that envy is sometimes more challenging to avoid that I used to think. I'll be quick to add that personally, I'm not a jealous person - I believe there's a difference and it's not to say I'm not truly happy for others who have their health, their friends, a home and financial security, but here's the thing. Lately, I've become a little less accepting of the grievances of others who on paper, have very little to complain about. I've become less understanding of those who spout off about this teacher, or that parent, this or that friend, or the tear in their favourite designer outfit. So I guess envy is a part of these emotions, but it's also perhaps more about a change in perspective on what the definition of a real problem is. Truthfully, the surface stuff doesn't matter long term and more recently I've been better at throwing out the little things that were once considered 'problems'. For several reasons (thanks 2014 - you were an unforgiving minx!) I've been forced to gain perspective on the issues that do not impact in a life or death kind of way. You know the expression -  don't sweat the small stuff. I guess that's one of the many secret lessons we learn as we become responsible adults, experiencing life's rich tapestry and heading into middle age.

While I still feel 28 years old, the fact is that in these grown up adult years, life can indeed be a roller coaster and I've come to realise that the sooner we accept that fact and adopt an attitude to match, the happier we'll be. No one is immune to ups and downs so it really comes down to how we approach and overcome our own challenges and also how we feel about those heading skyward as we plummet downwards at certain times in our life. Mostly, I'm more than happy for you if you're heading skywards but probably not so much if you're complaining on the way up. I guess that the definition of where I'm at.

So my own lessons for 2015 are as follows.  Don't sweat the small stuff and certainly avoid looking at others in comparison. Envy is wasted energy. It will probably turn you into a person you don't want to be, nothing is ever personally gained by the emotion, and we never really know what kind of roller coaster others are on anyway.



Sunday, January 4, 2015

Best Chewy Choc Chip Cookies EVER


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Best Chewy Choc Chip Cookie EVER
                            
You know that feeling when you excitedly reach for a perfect-looking choc chip cookie and upon first bite it feels as though you've just bitten down on a piece of granite? Yeah - I know. The very definition of a first world problem.

Allow me to introduce you to the easiest, chewiest choc chip cookie you'll ever eat. It's fine. You can thank me later when we're both at the gym working these little beauties the hell off our expanding rear ends cos they're filled with gooey, fatty evilness. Nonetheless, rest assured that every bite is worth it. (And yeah, we call them cookies thanks largely to the generational influence of Sesame Street). 

Mother Load Choc Chip Chewies

Ingredients
2 cups plain flour
170g butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups dark choc chips

Method
Preheat the oven to 165C.
Sift flour and baking soda into a bowl, set aside.
Cream butter and sugars, then beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla. 
Mix in flour and add choc chips.
Roll the mixture into balls, place on tray and flatten slightly.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until very slightly golden. 
Allow to cool before removing from tray. (Actually no - shove one straight in your mouth five mins out of the oven. Best thing ever and the third degree burns are totally worth it).

Get them into your belly, eat several, then hit the treadmill for two hours and pretend it never happened.

Enjoy! 




Friday, January 2, 2015

There's No Place Like Home


If you could live absolutely anywhere, where would it be? I mean even if you're completely happy with your current roots, where would you love to call home if you had to relocate without limitations? 

I'm a total homebody. I'm not at all adventurous and I have never strayed too far from the security of the place I've always called home. Some people are restless - they live for journeys, new experiences and exploration but that's not really me. I love to be surrounded by the familiar and predictable. I know - I'm the very definition of boring. Look up boring in the Oxford and there's a boring, nondescript photo of me in a knitted jumper stroking a boring cat. At times I regret not having the urge to experience new horizons but my comfort zone is where I live best and on most days, I happily accept that. 

Lately however, we've had to give thought to expanding our horizons due to a quest for new job opportunities. The tides are shifting around us like tectonic plates and although change is not something I choose to suddenly embrace and celebrate, sometimes it's not about choice but about surviving, evolving, thriving and succeeding. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas, Muckers!!!!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD AUSTRALIA
                     
Wishing each and every gorgeous one of you a wonderful Christmas break with friends and family. 

Thank you for all of your support, encouragement and enthusiasm this year - my humble 'lil blog has kicked some awesome personal goals in 2014 and I certainly couldn't have done any of it without all of you feeding my love of writing and gently shoving me forwards. 

Here's to a healthy, happy, ass-kicking 2015! There's good stuff just around the corner for all of us - I can feel it.

Now carve up that ham before I eat the legs off your chair..!



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My 2014 Summer Reading Wishlist...



IMAGE: THE MOTHER LOAD | 2014 Summer Reading
* THIS POST IS IN COLLABORATION WITH BOOKWORLD, AN AUSTRALIAN OWNED ONLINE BOOK STORE.

So - Christmas, eh? I can't quite believe it. Wasn't it February like five minutes ago?? Surely!

The way I see it, there are two distinct ways of looking at the festive season. For me, the first involves general panic, a multitude of lists and a tendency to overspend as we prepare for the big day while madly trying to juggle the end of school activities, work, and the stuff that doesn't end just because Christmas is coming. That's where I'm at right now and it's where I've resigned myself to be until 24th December at 5.00pm (as per last year, and all previous years).

The second way to approach the festive season (and indeed my preferred way) is to think about the break that will be our reward after the mayhem, allowing us to finally stop at the end of a relentless year, catch up with friends and family and eat way too much leftover pudding. After a somewhat challenging 2014 for our family, I'm looking forward to taking some serious time out, have some chilled out conversations that don't revolve around a schedule, and to read a book or two from my long and neglected reading wishlist.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Squishy Marshmallow Me.......


IMAGE : PINTEREST.COM | Squishy Marshmallow Me
Since having kids, and particularly as they've reached school age, I've become such a big squishy sentimental marshmallow.

A wide variety of incidental parenting moments can set me off but nothing does it quite like a school event. It seems that whatever the occasion, as soon as I step into our school theatre to attend an assembly, presentation or production, I habitually get the lumpy throat, the stiff jaw and the teary vision before anyone has even uttered a word. It could be as simple as someone getting their music certificate or a science award; whatever is on the day's agenda, my lip always begins its uncontrollable quiver.

I'm at my worst when they run a video to music. Oh God - the power of an audio visual soundtrack! Why can't they just use the Benny Hill Theme or something? I'm pretty sure I have missed many key moments of my kids' participation in the video montages, thanks firstly to the 'Wind Beneath My Wings'-esque music and secondly as I always find myself fumbling around in my bag desperately seeking an old lipstick-smeared tissue instead of actually watching.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A One Child Week


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | A One Child Week
Felt a bit weird sending my sensitive and slightly teary ten year old gal off to school camp this morning. 

Funny how, although your kids can be completely different to you in so many ways, sometimes quite suddenly they display a characteristic that is exactly you, through and through. Like me as a child, these days Miss O is a bit prone to an affliction I refer to as 'pre-conceived homesickness' (feeling homesick before you've actually been anywhere) and also the 'long, sad goodbye' (a dread and sadness about saying goodbye well before departure and a feeling that the impending separation is absolutely FOREVER). That's me all over. Still is a bit and I guess as she's getting older, it's her too.

Monday, November 10, 2014

November. Let's Do This.


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | November. Let's Do This
                         
Meet my new friends above. I'm so needy and they're always there for me, no questions asked. Especially the brandy.

So! Bronchitis is a barrel of laughs isn't it? For the last two weeks I've lived somewhere between sounding like Carlotta Of Les Girls, and a pack a day emphysemic. It's not been all that fun - just ask the innocent bystanders who live with me and who have ears in good working order. I'm fairly sure I heard my six year old mutter something like, "...for the love of God." under her breath the other day after one of my thoroughly well put together coughing episodes. Can't say I blame her. I'm totally sick of me too. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Born To Run, At Any Cost....


IMAGE : HERALDSUN.COM.AU | Born To Run, At Any Cost
Anyone else feeling sad and generally uncomfortable about the outcome of this year's Melbourne Cup? I am.

It's going to sound weird and as though I've just discovered my conscience, but I'm harbouring these sudden feelings of unease given the fact that I've never really given a lot of heartfelt consideration to the ugly side of a sport which can at times, be fully (or at least partly) responsible for the untimely death of defenceless animals. My sense of unease is about both my own lack of objection prior to now and also about my own realisation of what potentially takes place behind the scenes in the racing industry; in the darker shadows of the sport. I would never attend a rodeo, a dog fight and I even detest fishing so I wonder why that one day in November has always simply passed me by as an ordinary event and even at times as a welcome part of the social calendar? 

Before anyone jumps on me about one-off freak incidents, about an objection to banning the sport outright and that one should be a vegetarian to be truly pro animal rights, let it be said that this is just about my own new found feelings of unease towards the 'sport' we call horse racing, not a self-righteous rant about what the world should do and not do. I'm not standing up loudly calling for a ban (although it would be nice in a perfect world, but as we know the world ain't perfect). I'm simply feeling sad about the death of two horses after a race which is well known to be one of the most gruelling, even for the fittest, most enthusiastic thoroughbred. I'm annoyed at my own prior ambivalence and general naivety and I guess I'm now against putting these animals through something that once may have suited their "born to run" nature, but at times maybe not.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Little BUPA Blog Award Stuff.....

                       
IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | A Little BUPA Blog Award Stuff
So in case you missed me spouting off on Facebook last night and as the above title suggests, it appears that The Mother Load has been named as a finalist in the 2014 BUPA Blog Awards! I'm just a little bit excited (but clearly not as excited as Honey here). I don't expect to go all the way given the competition, but recognition is good for the soul, no? Yes! I say yes!

As an aside, it's worth noting that I never win anything. No really. In high school I won a squash racquet and didn't even know about it until I found it in the back of Dad's car two weeks later. When I asked my PE teacher what I'd won it for, he simply threw his head back and laughed riotously at the obvious irony. Yeah, sport wasn't really my thing. Stuff him, though. I may yet take up squash, become a world champ, and smack some fast balls into his windows. Maybe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Happiest Of Happy Days...


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | The Happiest Of Happy Days

I'm giving a bit of thought to happiness today.

Happiness is pretty damn important isn't it? I reckon it's a bit like oxygen for our soul.  You realise this a) when you are happy and therefore in a blissful state of gratitude for that particular state of mind, and b) when you're not happy and you find yourself out there on a desperate quest, searching for something that will make you feel happy again. As it turns out, life can so often get in the way of happiness and it can be really tough to maintain, especially when you're an adult. Sometimes being an adult really sucks. 

With that in mind, do you remember the happiest day of your life so far? I do. I don't have a wedding day to speak of so that's out and sure, the birth of my kids goes down in history as momentous and brilliant but truthfully, there was a shitload of pain and a whole lot of panicking health professionals present - yes it was happy but it was also BLOODY TERRIFYING. Thankfully there was a great result both times and I was indeed very happy about that, but I'm talking about a memory; a day or a time that is defined solely by true, carefree happiness.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

School's Back! Witness Protection Complete!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | School's Back! Witness Protection Complete!

Hooray! School's back!! 

While I'm a fan of hols and the absence of such things like school lunches and early morning threats about going to school in pyjamas, I love coming home after the first day of term drop off. Bliss! First, coffee. Then worship the silence. Then housework.

Miss A went back this morning with her usual amount of tummy nerves, mostly revolving around people's reaction to her new short haircut. A paranoid fourteen year old in a six year old's body is she. God help me when she is ACTUALLY fourteen. Miss O went back filled with happiness; that girl fades like a wilting flower if she doesn't have copious amounts of social interaction with her friends. Her Dad is the same.  He's always the last to leave every party and God forbid, she'll undoubtedly be the same when her time comes. (The sounds of clinking glasses and extreme house music is already ringing in my silence-loving ears).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ten Things I've Learned This Week...


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Ten Things I've Learned This Week
Like many others, we're on school holidays.

I usually equate the holidays to that age old expression, "it was the best of times, it the worst of times" but so far there's been more best than worst thankfully. Having said that, there's still a week and a half to go so I won't be making too many rash holiday statements at this stage. Damn it feels good to sleep in and not have to do school lunches every day though, doesn't it? Almost worth home-schooling just for that. (Clearly I'm throwing my head back and laughing madly into the air right about now. As if). 

Quite randomly, here are ten things I have learned this week:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today Is A Bit Shit...


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Today Is A Bit Shit..
Despite the gorgeous sunshine that is warming my ghostly white skin and the excellent coffee that is resting in the palm of my hand, today is a bit shit. 

In relative terms the world is not ending, but our Honey dog (affectionately known here as the geriatric) has cancer. 

She recently had a lump removed and it's a secondary melanoma. It's kinda funny isn't it? Too much sunning herself by the pool in her hey day, one might think? Her doggy bikinis were too skimpy for proper coverage? I knew that backyard pool was a bad idea - I always suspected that as soon as we left the house she'd be out there, reclining on a banana lounge. I guess my suspicions were true.

Given that she's about fifteen years old, it feels okay. I don't feel angry or ripped off. It's not a waste and yes, the overused expression "she's had a good innings.." rings true but it kinda makes me sad to know what it is that will eventually take her because after all, she's Honey The Wonder Dog and pretty much nothing was going to take her as far as I was concerned. I guess I was wrong. 

We're resolved that treatment and further invasion is pointless and unfair so we'll let nature take its course and hopefully it will be a long and pain free journey for her. She's fifteen for God's sake - I could shout too close to her and she could drop dead at anytime (if she wasn't completely deaf). As I see it, she'll simply live out her days with us spending lots of time at the beach where she is happiest and when the time comes, she'll be farewelled as only a dog of her calibre should be. 

Anyway, whatever grievances I have with the universe currently (and I certainly have a few!), I'm keenly aware that there is always someone dealing with worse shit than you and today is no exception. So I'm sucking up this news, giving Honey a firm and tender pat on her grey head and we're off to the beach in some well put together, healing sunshine. And that's not so bad by comparison.



Saturday, September 20, 2014

To Be Or Not To Be? Don't Ask Me.....


IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | To Be Or Not To Be Don't Ask Me
Decisions are so not my thing. 

My Mum says I've always been bad at making decisions - even the battle between a vegemite or peanut butter sandwich used to throw my head into a spin when I was a kid and I've been that way ever since. (Remember when we used to be allowed to take peanut butter to school? I know - those were the days).

Some decisions are small (aka peanut butter or vegemite) and some are life-altering. I tend to give equal amounts of attention to either size which means that a huge amount of my head space is wrapped up in a virtual two column scenario of pros and cons. I stand in line at the supermarket checkout silently pondering the big questions - if I go down this path, will this happen? What if I take the alternative route? Will I regret not taking the other?? Etc etc. I continuously recreate my own alternative scenes in my head like the plot from 'Sliding Doors' (minus the cute Scotsman, the Gwyneth P makeover and her cool late 90s hair cut).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Home Is Where The Bath Is....


IMAGE : PINTEREST | Home Is Where The Bath Is
 * MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

We only have one bathroom. 

We moved from a house with a bathroom for every member of the family a few years ago and now, in the name of moving to a more desirable suburb close to school we live in a little "cottage". Calling it a cottage is my way of defining our ridiculously small abode while making it sound worthy of a House and Garden spread. In reality, it's a nice house but should be twice the size given how many family members we have. No really - I'm not being a massive sook, it's genuinely small. 

(Okay, well maybe I'm being a bit of a sook. First world problems and all that. Anyway, stay with me).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2014 - I'm Not A Fan!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | 2014 - I'm Not A Fan

So I'm interested to hear - how would you rate your 2014 so far?

We're now three quarters of the way through and I'm wondering if you would say this year has been one of your best, one of your worst or one like any other? 

I've been pretty lucky from year to year - largely they've peeled past at a rapid rate, leaving our family relatively unscathed and allowing each of us to take the relevant steps onward and upward with ease and a generous dose of happiness. This year however, will probably go down in our history as one my family might rather put behind us. More accurately, I'd describe it as large bucket of steaming dog turd if such a comparison is called for. For various reasons, we've all found ourselves furiously spinning plates in the air just trying to tackle one life-altering issue to the next; you name it, my relatively small (but thankfully robust) family has tackled it in 2014.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Let's Go Play! A #GenBetter Initiative


IMAGE: THE MOTHER LOAD | Medibank #GenBetter
Let it be said that this is not a sponsored post. I just thought it was worth a share in the name of getting kids active and as much into good old fashioned play as my generation was when I was young (granted, that makes me sound really old).  Regardless, spring is here and we're finally getting a bit of sun so it may be time to wrestle those devices out of the hands of kids and force them out into the Vitamin D. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Fathers Day, Dad


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Happy Father's Day, Dad

Happy Father's Day to this guy.

He's my Dad. He's pretty cool, as you can see. And he plays the sax like a boss which automatically makes him even cooler.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Exercise - Meh


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | Exercise - Meh
Exercise.

It's just not my thing.

I do it but only when I've exhausted all of my excuses. I have this ridiculous conversation with myself on gym days that goes something like,

"MUST get to the gym today."

"I'm too tired - my thyroid is sluggish and I just need coffee and good conversation. Exercise - meh." 

"What? Don't be ridiculous. You had coffee and good conversation yesterday!"

"I know but I really like coffee. And I like my friends. And I need more work/ life balance."

"You're being pathetic. Squeeze your saggy ass into those skins, get that ill-fitting sports bra on and pull yourself together!" 

 Sometimes the active me wins, sometimes coffee wins. (Yay for coffee!).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Bad Case Of OPG (Overstated Party Guilt)


THE MOTHER LOAD | Party Guilt
I have a small favour to ask. (I know - I'm needy, but stay with me).

Can we all please just take a large, deep breath and chill out about kid's birthday parties? Please?! Recently, I was wracked by a condition I'm referring to as OPG or 'Overstated Party Guilt', caused by over-thinking the ins and outs of the final invitee list. I had a bad case of OPG but at the same time, there was also a large part of me that was annoyed that I allowed myself to suffer through this silly condition because I made some well considered choices and I didn't particularly wish to invite the entire free world to our little party. Is that unreasonable? No really, tell me because maybe it is. Dunno. I figure I've either lost my radar on what is perfectly acceptable when it comes to kid's party guest lists or the world has gone a little bit mad when it comes to the importance of who's invited and who's not. Nonetheless, instead of feeling the joy of planning a get together for a little person who doesn't especially like big group activities, I found myself guilt-ridden and annoyed.  And that was pretty annoying in itself.
 
Still here? Bravo.

Monday, September 1, 2014

ProBlogger 2014 - You Were Awesome!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD  | ProBlogger 2014 - You Were Awesome


This past weekend, I attended ProBlogger - Australia's largest blogger conference on the Gold Coast. What a fantastic community of passionate, talented and dedicated people I am lucky enough to be part of.  I'm so pleased I forced myself to attend even though the idea of staying home and remaining curled up under a blanket of bloggy anonymity appealed to me so much more than getting in the taxi to the airport. Now on the other side of the experience, I'm happy to report that I'm changed! ProBlogger has changed me! Not in an "I've found God" kinda way or even in an "I'm going to give up sugar" kinda way but in an "I know where I want to go on my blogging journey" kinda way! Zing! (Yep - waaay too many exclamation marks here I know, but there's no other way to provide you with the full version of my excitement and post-conference energy so bear with me, OK?).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ProBlogger 2014 - Here Goes....!


IMAGE : THE MOTHER LOAD | ProBlogger
Eeek! I'm going on a blogger's conference. In nine days. By myself. Eeek!

I don't go anywhere on my own. I'm lucky to get a trip to the beautician without someone accompanying me, asking all kinds of questions about hot wax and pain levels. I get followed to the bathroom with such predictable regularity that even the dog manages to get the door open most of the time. Nonetheless, I'm packing a bag and heading for the Gold Coast and I'm going simply as me the "writer" (note, I put that in quotation marks because I don't really feel worthy of that title yet - maybe the conference will help me change that?).

I'm a bit nervy though. I'm not very good at walking into a crowded room without having someone to make a bee-line towards. It reminds me of starting at a new school when I was a kid. Just gotta open that door and dive right in, eh? Nothing to it. Character building, one would argue. That's what I keep telling myself.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Parenting Teen Girls - An Evening With Michael Carr-Gregg


IMAGE:THE MOTHER LOAD | Michael Carr-Gregg
The further along I travel on my journey as a parent, the more I suspect that firstly the learning curve is getting steeper as the years rush by and secondly that I may well be monumentally screwing things up and no one is coming out and telling me honestly. I often balance precariously on the verge of feeling as though each parenting strategy I adopt might be the right one, and probably feels appropriate but then again I half-expect any possible dire consequences of my strategy to hit me suddenly, teach me that well-needed lesson and remind me of just how badly I'm doing. So mostly for me, it's a confidence game coupled with my somewhat unrealistic desire for parenting perfection. Oh what a fun mum I must be! With these various insecurities in mind, I have always found the advice and wisdom of others vitally important on this parenting journey. This seems especially true now as we head into the challenging adolescent years, aiming to raise well-balanced people who at the end of their teen journey still have some level of respect for you as their trusted parent and indeed for themselves.