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I predicted two things about the recent Aussie Blogger’s Conference in Sydney.

The first was that, during my blog post reading, I would – like so many Hollywood movie protagonists before me – stop mid-sentence and run off the stage to be where I truly belonged. And no, that’s not back at home with my husband and children but rather at the pub across the road.

The second was that, with the entire room being hooked up to WiFi, I would end up on Twitter offering insightful remarks such as “Why does anyone think lemon slices in water is a good thing?” and “It’s 11AM. Is it too early to start drinking??” and perhaps even “My name badge just accidentally fell into the toilet but I’m still going to wear it. Wrong?”

(For the record, the fact it fell into the toilet pre-flush or post-flush makes no difference to me. I’d still wear it.)

As it turned out, I managed to read out my blog post (“Morning Is Broken“) without ‘epiphanating’ (that should totally be a word) and my twitter offerings were even more inane than anyone could ever imagine but it didn’t matter. There were so many people tweeting about the conference that my occasional interjections such as “The only thing I ever giveaway on my blog is my dignity. Fact.” and “@Woogsworld Stop posting pictures of my breasts on the internet!” were lost in the mêlée.

I mean, that is one of the best things about being at a blogger’s conference. Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – is tweeting. When you pick up your iPhone, nobody – and I mean NOBODY – is saying in an accusatory tone “Are you tweeting?” as if they think they’ve just said something really amusing and you are stealing their fox spirit by broadcasting it on the interwebs. And in case you are wondering, my standard response when someone says that to me is “No, I’m checking my stocks” even though I don’t actually own any stocks and have probably just posted a remark on twitter about having just found half a donut down my bra.

So, yes, at a blogging conference, you are among kindred spirits – people with the same level of cyber-addiction as you and it feels… goooooood.

Other things I discovered that also felt goooooood:

Cyber-friends are for life and not just for Christmas… and that’s a great thing.

For example, I ended up liking cyber-friend Squiggly Rick’s so much that I became his Hot Cougar Wife for a whole evening. When I took off my tiara during the dinner-slash-dance, he asked me to put it back on. That’s when I knew it was true love. Oh, plus we developed the ‘chair line dance’ which is when you do a line dance in a chair. Admittedly, it all gets a bit Sharon Stone when you’ve rotated yourself around to the back of the chair but that’s half the fun, right?

(In the end, we had our marriage annulled because of our failure to consummate it. Turns out he’s gay. Who knew? Okay, so I did. I like a challenge, me… You can read Rick’s own account of our Britney-in-Vegas-style marriage by clicking here.)

Mark Pollard is hot!

Many of you may remember Mark from previous Not Drowning, Mothering adventures such as “An Open Letter To McCann Australia” and “Making My Own Fun. Turns out he’s as hot as Squiggly Rick is gay. So hot that I had to have my photo taken with him to serve as a reminder never to cyber-hassle advertising executives without checking out what they looked like first.

So thanks to my ill-researched efforts, he and his family are now on a witness relocation program and moving to the States, like, forever. I now have to live with the guilt about that for the rest of my life.

Nobody seemed unduly disappointed that ‘The NDM’ was, in fact, just l’il ol’ me.

Despite all my misgivings about ‘outing myself’ (see “Great Expectations“), nobody threw their drink in my face shouting “Imposter!”. Although, admittedly, someone did say “I never ever thought in a million billion years that you’d be wearing a floral dress.”

For the record, I make the floral look my bitch.

Bloggers rock!

If I thought that this statement was true before the conference, I now know it to be extra-true-with-sugar-on-top-and-a-vodka-chaser.

Oh, and look…  if anyone’s wondering, my name tag didn’t fall into the toilet in the end. It came close once or twice. And yes, I was almost tempted to throw it in myself just to have something to blog about (so dedicated to my craft as I am) but ultimately I wanted it as a keepsake of one of the Best Times Ever.

AusBlogCon 2012? In my heart, I’m already there…

Big thanks to the organisers, who tirelessly worked to put this thing together. I’m still waiting for someone to explain the ‘B-string cleavage concealer’ in the goodies bag, though. I mean, why would anyone ever want to cover up their cleavage???

EDITED TO MENTION @AnIdleDad because he’s a bit upset I didn’t marry him for the evening. Maybe next year?

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In just over a month, I’m attending a blogging conference in Sydney where a group of about two hundred people will get to see what I really look like. Well, not what I really look like, because I’ll probably brush my hair or something, especially for the occasion.

For a while I contemplated going in disguise as someone called Stephanie who had a blog called “RAINBOWS! AND! LOLLIPOPS!” (Please note the creative use of exclamation marks). Either that, or hiring a body double with more shapely ankles and a better dress sense than me to attend in my place.

I also thought about wearing a KISS mask, which I could take off to reveal full KISS makeup. Which would be totally cool…  if about 30 years out of date.

See, the truth is I have some anxiety about not meeting the expectations people have of me – especially since I don’t know what those expectations are. I mean, what do those precious few people who read my blog who aren’t blood relations or currently involved in a lengthy court dispute with me think I look like? You know, other than extremely drunk.

I’ve been thinking about this even more since an incident on a weekend visit to Sydney,  where I randomly ran into fellow-blogger, twitter personality and all-round hottie Kerri Sackville on a train platform.

Kerri, to her full credit, recognised me immediately because she has the privilege of being my Facebook friend and thus having access to the trillion photos I post there and my deepest, most intimate thoughts about what I’m cooking for dinner and the price of bananas (“Bananas… WTF?”).

However, while I was initially sure it was her, I quickly became filled with doubt.

For one thing, the Kerri-in-my-mind was at least six feet tall, perhaps even seven. I’ve based this assumption on the few head shots I’ve seen of hers and the way she writes. There’s something about the lack of exclamation marks in her copy suggests stature. I’m sure there’s a scientific study somewhere to support this.

But the Kerri-on-the-platform, however, was positively elfin. Why, I wanted to pick her up and tuck her in my front pocket she was so petite.

So to cut a long story short, I ended up dissing this apparent Kerri-alike and continuing my train journey by myself.

Turns out, via the magic of twitter, it really was her (and, it should be noted, it really was me, too) and so we ended up meeting up for a power breakfast the next morning, where we fell in love over the course of a two hour power conversation.  I won her heart by telling  her she had spinach in her teeth and she won mine by spitting poached egg all over me.

Who said that romance was dead?

Anyway, the point of all this is to say the following to any bloggers attending the conference next month: please go all zen and empty your mind of any expectations you have of me and, in turn, I promise not to vomit on your shoes and/or drag you up during the dinner-dance to do The Macarena, okay? That way, I think we’ll all be happy…

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The first rule of Walking Club is that there’s supposed to be a President, apparently.

You see, when I recently agreed to go for an hour long power walk with my friend Mistress M, my husband got pretty excited.

“Why, you’ve got yourself a Walking Club!” he enthused. “Who’s President?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, somewhat bewildered. “How can there be a club and how can that club have a President? There’s only two of us.”

“Well, I formed a wine club with [MGK] at that barbeque the other day and I’m President,” he said, somewhat cockily.

“MGK let you be President??” I was a bit incredulous. After all, that didn’t sound like our friend MGK at all.

“No, not really,” he replied. “I voted myself in as President while she was getting more salad.”

“Have you actually told her that you’re the President??” I asked.

“Uh, no…” he said.

“Are you planning on telling her?”

“Probably not,” he said, wandering off to no doubt attend to some Important Wine Club Business, such as open another bottle of wine.

So much for the democratic process.

Anyhoo, the inaugural meeting of our Walking Club was some weeks ago and, to be quite frank, not a lot of walking has taken place since.

“How is your Walking Club going?” my husband asked me the other day.

“Good. Very good,” I replied. “In fact, the other day we walked into the backyard with a bottle of wine and then we walked back into the kitchen to get ourselves another bottle.”

[Mistress M and I had been celebrating the start of FebFast. Without actually talking about, we had both independently decided that the ‘fast’ part of ‘FebFast’ just meant that we had to drink our wine more quickly.]

“Anyway,” I continued  – and, let’s face it, ‘anyway’ is a good word to continue with. “KT has asked me to go for a walk tonight!”

“Ah! A rival Walking Club!” my husband exclaimed.

“How can it be a rival Walking Club when I’m a member of both? That kinda means I’m my own enemy…” I trailed off because I realised I really was my own worst enemy. Just recently, I’d decided that I was going to take up potato printing as a hobby and, indeed, carve out the shape of a potato into a potato half so that I ended up making potato prints OF potatoes. Now, if that’s not a cry for help, I don’t know what is.

“So, who’s President?” my husband asked. We were back to that old presidential chestnut.

For the record,  KT was more than happy for me to be President, while she took on the all-important role of Treasurer. Which was just as well, really, as I probably would just spend the club funds on wine and not whatever Walking Clubs are supposed to spend money on and then I’d just be playing straight into the hands of my so-called-husband and his so-called Wine Club. Shuh!

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Every night, I lie next to The Pixie in her bed and read her a few pages from this dreadful book she chose from the library involving fairies, princesses, wishes, magic spells and unicorns. The only thing missing from that heady line-up, as far as I can see, are the pony mermaids. But we’re only half way through the book so there’s hope yet.

It took me about a fortnight of reading this book before I realised that she wasn’t actually listening to a single thing I was reading.

“Uh, Pixie,” I said to her as I put the book away one night. “Did you actually listen to what I just read?”

“Yes, Mama,” she nodded, her grey-blue eyes all wide.

“Oh, okay. So who is going to help Sebastian and Maddie get to Mountain of Clouds?” I asked.

“Lelolala!” she said, brightly.

For the record, there wasn’t a character called ‘Lelolala’ in the book. There wasn’t even a character whose name even vaguely resembled ‘Lelolala’. In fact, I think it’s fair to say, there isn’t a single character in all of literary history called ‘Lelolala’.

And yet, knowing she’s not really listening, I keep reading the book to her each night. I’ve worked out that she’s just using the book as an excuse to snuggle up to me in her bed and listen to the sound of my voice. And now I’m just using the book as an excuse to have her snuggle up to me – oh, and to listen to the sound of my own voice.

You see, my little girl is growing up and these are the things you cling to.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of going to the school disco with her. Mr Justice had come with us, too, but he had scuttled off into the shadows at the first opportunity, reemerging only to beg for more money to buy glow-in-the-dark sticks so he could make the longest-ever-chain-of-glow-in-the-dark-sticks and whack his friends with it.

The Pixie, in stark contrast, wanted me to dance with her.

Have you ever danced with a bunch of six year olds? It’s hard not to feel incredibly conspicuous, like Gulliver pop’n’lockin’ at the Lilliput Senior Prom. Especially when you’re completely sober, wearing glow-in-the-dark bracelets and holding two bottles of water, two jumpers and a large handbag.

But after a few songs, I found that I no longer cared.

In fact, before I knew it, I found myself leading a bunch of kids in ‘The Marcarena’ and cutting loose to ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ and then, when Mr Justice came up to me in the middle of ‘Cha Cha Slide‘ asking for money to buy a ZooperDooper, I felt legitimately annoyed because I couldn’t hear what Mr C the Slide Man’s next instructions were. And then my friend Mistress M turned up out of nowhere and she began dancing with me and the kids, too, and she was holding a half-eaten hot dog but it didn’t stop her from joining in the actions to ‘YMCA’, which the school principal was leading us all in from a stage which he was sharing with a DJ wearing a Warwick Capper wig. And amidst all this, I looked down to see my little girl looking up at me with the disco lights dancing on her face and I saw such love and happiness in her eyes and I realised that this was one of the best times I’d ever had – not least because I knew that this time next year, my daughter would want me to drop her off at the door of the school disco and would, most likely, ask me to pretend to be the Nanny.

Indeed, when I asked her a few days later what her favourite part of the school disco was, she was quick to answer “Dancing to [Justin Bieber’s] ‘Baby’!”.

And with that, she wandered off to her room, singing “Baby, baby, baby, oh!”.

“Ah…” I thought to myself. “It begins.”

It begins.

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I’ll make no secret of it: I love voting. It makes me feel unspeakably happy to be in the bosom of my local community at the local school with the smell of burnt sausages wafting gently on the breeze. This is democracy at work, I think to myself, as I gaze affectionately at the long queue of locals exercising their democratic right – albeit under threat of heavy fines and possible jail sentences if they don’t.

Each time, I walk home, as if on air – “high on democracy”, if you will. And then a few hours later, the polling booths shut and the count begins and I begin to feel anxious. It’s like the nation has gone into labour and I’m waiting to hear news of the birth.  And it’s at this point, I start to drink.

I started last Saturday’s Election Night by mixing myself a cocktail. It was one part vodka, two parts champagne, two parts cloudy apple juice with a sprinkling of fresh mint. I called it ‘Cloudy Outcome’ – you know, on account of all the ‘too close to call’ predictions and the inclusion of cloudy apple juice and that. And not, as my husband later suggested, because it had resembled a ‘cloudy discharge’. My husband, ladies and gentlemen. My husband.

Personally, I love a themed cocktail night almost as much as I love voting. One of my favourite birthdays ever was spent with my husband and just three friends making 9/11-themed cocktails. My dear friend Mr B ended the night with a blue curacao-based concoction so vile that we had to name it ‘An Attack On Civilisation’.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), I didn’t quite get to the ‘Attack on Civilisation’ point on Election Night. This was partly because I was alone, save the company of my seven year old son who was looking at the ABC predictions like they were football scores. (“Aw, Mum! The Liberal party scored another goal and are now only nine points behind!”). But the main reason was there are only so many different cocktails you can make with a rather limited liquor cabinet before you start experimenting with “Port’n’Lemonade Spritzers”. Also, the fresh mint may or may not have been infused with cat piss and tasted fucking rank. Fact.

Here’s how my Election Night drinking went: After the rather desperately named ‘Electini’ (pineapple juice, vodka, champagne), I moved onto drinking straight champagne with the occasional vodka chaser. I called it ‘Election Night Anxiety Disorder’. And then, when I ran out of vodka, it was just plain champagne. I called that ‘The Demise Of Champagne Socialism’. And then I just drank water. I called that ‘Hung(over) Government Avoidance Strategy Drink Thingy’. You have to understand that I was quite drunk by this stage.

All the while, I was thinking of my friend AnnieG, who, according to her Facebook status, was planning to either make a ‘Big-Eared Bastard’ (“with strategically placed lime slices”) or a ‘Ginger Kick’, depending on the outcome. Since neither party managed to form a government, my guess is she had to settle for a ‘Well-Hung Ginger Bastard’ in the end.

Which I might have settled for myself if my (red-headed) husband hadn’t been at work. So instead, I took two Panadeine and went to bed in the hope that when I woke in the morning everything would be allllllllll righhhhhhhht.

For the record, it wasn’t.

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The other day I had the following online conversation with my friend LSK:

NDM: I’m watching the Twilight film for the first time. I’ve been watching it for days and days and there’s still another hour to go.

LSK: Wow. I really had no interest in watching that movie and now I have even less interest. Thanks for saving me some time!

NDM: I’ve taken a bullet for you, LSK.

LSK: How can I ever repay you? I recorded the (first) Sex and the City movie last night. Would that do it or have you suffered that too?

NDM: You recorded it? You RECORDED it???

LSK: Yeah, I have no excuse. Except I was weak and I thought I’d save it for a rainy day. A really, really, really rainy day.

NDM: I think we’re talking a rainy day of The Great Flood proportions. In which case, I suggest you build an ark, not watch SATC The Film.

LSK: Look, shouldn’t you be in bed?

NDM:  Just because you taped ‘Sex And The City: THE MOVIE’ doesn’t mean you can tell me what to do.

LSK: God, I thought I could get you to stop mentioning it. What will it take?!

NDM: Cash. Cold hard cash. And lots of it. (You’re ignoring the fact that I rented ‘Twilight’ from Video Easy of my own free will)

LSK: I assumed you were watching it under sufferance or at least for free, because WHO WOULD PAY TO WATCH THAT RUBBISH?! SATC was free.

She raised a fair point. In my defence, though, I didn’t technically pay to see ‘Twilight’. It was part of a three titles for the price of two deal at the local Video Easy and ‘Twilight’ was obviously the free one. Obviously. Shuh!

And yes, I watched it. All 131 minutes of it. Mostly, it was a desperate attempt to understand why the hell there’s all this hysteria about ‘Ro-Patts’ and ‘K-Stew’s on-screen and off-screen relationship.  Of course, people are always wondering if my husband and I are actually together in real life and (indeed) whether our three looky-likey children are my husband’s (my husband always says “They’re either all mine or none of them are mine.”). But nobody gets hysterical about it. Confused and litigatious, perhaps, but not hysterical.

Having seen the film now, I can kind of understand the Bella and Edward thing  – I mean, you could grate the sexual tension between them like so much parmesan. But one compelling relationship does not a great film make.

In case you have been living under the same rock that I’ve been living under for the last two years, let me take the bullet for you, too. Here is a brief summary of the plot of ‘Twilight’, the movie:

On her first day in a new school, Bella meets Edward Cullen, a surly-as-all-fuck boy who looks like he’s been lightly dipped in flour and who tries to eat his own hand the first time she sits next to him in chemistry class. Luckily, most of his strange behaviour can be easily explained by the fact he is a vampire. (*slaps head*) Of course! He’s a vampire! He can read minds! And he glitters like a plastic disco ball in full sunlight! And he runs like he’s in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! Although, having said all that, nothing explains why – if he were condemned to walk the earth for eternity – he would willingly sit through a chemistry class.

Bella, for her part, is totally hip to the idea of him being a vampire. I mean, he’s cantankerous and rude, he creeps uninvited into her room at night just to watch her sleep and is a hair’s breath away from killing her at any given moment. What’s not to like?

Edward takes Bella to meet the rest of his vant-to-suck-your-blarrrrd family  – who, it should be noted, all have great hair. This is where never needing to sleep really comes into its own: you never get bed hair and you instantly free up at least eight hours in a 24 hour period to experiment with pro-duct. Because if you were condemned to walk the earth for eternity, you’d definitely want to have great hair.

The Cullen family take Bella to the middle of nowhere to play baseball during a lightning storm. As you do. There, they encounter bad boy vampire James who decides on the spot that he will follow Bella to the ends of the earth to kill her because, well, that’s how he rolls. I suspect it’s got something to do with the fact he’s having a bad hair day and has had to opt for the ‘emergency pony tail’.

Even though James is supposed to be an “unusually gifted vampire” with super-preter-uber-natural powers, his fight with Edward lasts less than two minutes before Edward’s brothers step in and toast him on a stick like a marshmallow. James quite possibly rates as the biggest wet fart of a screen villain since Darth Maul and his stupid double-ended light sabre. I mean, what was with that double-ended shit? You’re only doubling your chances of grabbing the wrong end in a battle.

Anyway, the Twilight film ends with a prom scene in the tradition of 1980s teen movies such as ‘Pretty in Pink’, ‘Back To The Future’ and ‘Rocky IV’. Yes, a prom scene. Of course, if I were condemned to walk the earth for eternity, I’d at least try to have some fun with it. You know, something more in the tradition of “Zapped” or “Carrie”, where I let my super-dooper-preter-uber-mega-extra-super-sized psychic vampire powers go awry so that everyone’s clothes fall off and they all get covered in pigs’ blood.

Now that, Stephanie Meyer, is how to end a story. Oh, and a post.

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Eight years ago, I was waddling around with the air of someone who believed she was the only person who’d ever truly been pregnant. Sure, people might have pregnant in the past, but no-one had ever been as pregnant as me. No one. After all, I was incubating my child.

I was the kind of pregnant lady that regularly sent back meat at restaurants if it had even the slightest touch of pink, who couldn’t sleep in a hotel room where someone may have once briefly lit a cigarette, and who once asked a colleague to change the printer toner because I didn’t want to expose the baby to noxious chemicals. Yes, that kind of pregnant lady.

You would have loved me. No, really! After you’d slapped me around a bit, that is. Although I should add here that it is morally reprehensible to slap a pregnant lady. After all, I was pregnant, people. Get a grip!

Anyway, it naturally followed that my husband and I went on to be First-Time Parents (note the capitalisation). We hovered anxiously over Baby Justice, agonising over every sneeze or sniffle. I even remember my husband carefully cupping his hands around Baby Justice’s ears while the vacuum was running in the next room. Yes, we were those kind of parents.

Of course, three kids and over seven years later, our standards have slipped somewhat…

Anyway, I guess I’ve been thinking back on those times because it was a time in parenting where I thought I could have absolute control over my child’s life and could protect them from anything and everything.

Turns out parenting is not quite like that. Indeed, I’m starting to discover that much of it is like coaching your children from the sidelines and knowing when to call Time Out or to stage a pitch-invasion (with clothes on, thank you very much).

You see, I’ve recently watched – with no small amount of pride (or anxiety) –  my five-year-old daughter tackle her fear of the school playground. When I say ‘watched’, I of course mean ‘watched and talked’. I talked a lot about it – with her, with my husband, with her teacher. We called meetings, talked strategies, put plans in place. I also did a lot of fruitful middle-of-the-night worrying (you know, the most productive kind of all, at three o’clock in the morning, when you can do nothing about anything except lose sleep. Brilliant.).

In the end, I found I had to step back a little and let her find her own way, in her own time. And on Friday, a report came from the teacher that The Pixie had spent the whole of lunch time in the playground having a whale of a time.

In the middle of all this, The Pixie wrote a ‘book’, which is the kind of thing a five-year-old with two Aspiring Writers for parents does.

Since she wrote it mostly in the phonetic vernacular of the five year old  (where words like ‘little’ become the delightful ‘lttl’), I asked her to translate it for me. This is what it said:

When you are somewhere, there are lots of things around you.

But you are safe.

Mummy, you make me safe.

This Mother’s Day, I’m making some wishes:  I’m wishing my embrace will always be large  enough to reach my children wherever they may be in this world and that it will always provide  a safe harbour for them whenever they may need it.

And I’m hoping that I can give them the skills and the love to feel safe in themselves.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

According to the artist: "The picture shows mummy holding me as a cute litte baby".

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