Why, hello world…

I am so happy to be back in the land of the living I could jump up and down!

On second thoughts, given my newly reconstructed mammaries (that’s something I never thought I’d type) I’m pretty sure dancing around might hurt a bit, so I’ll refrain. I’ll just grin a little instead.

Before I share with you what I’ve got planned for this month, I want to give the biggest shout-out possible to the staff at Casey Hospital.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this stage of my medical adventure; the hospital was a fair stint from home, I’d never been there before and I was quite nervous about going under the knife again. Right from the outset, the staff at Casey were without exception wonderful, and put my mind at ease.

The nursing staff of Ward A took such amazing care, knew their job so well, and were more than happy to have a little chuckle with me to lighten the mood. No one likes to spend time laid up, but these guys make it more than bearable. So, thanks Casey peoples, you’re super.

And now I’m pleased to say that I’m home sweet home. Moving a little slower than usual, but very happy to have a clear head and a little bit of time to do some reading and writing.

Because I’m not quite up to form and wont be able to go out much for the next couple of weeks, I’ve decided to make this month BE MY GUEST AUGUST. I am so excited to be able to include some really interesting new voices on TBYL! I’ve asked a few friends and fellow bloggers to share their thoughts on something that they’re loving at the moment – and I think it should make for a really colourful and fun-filled month of reviews.

I’ll start off Be My Guest August tomorrow with a book review from the wonderful Fiona of My Mummy Daze fame. She’ll share her thoughts on some fun chick lit.

I hope you’ll join me in hearing from my new friends, I’m very excited.

Pst…a big announcement coming in a couple of days too. Stay tuned (wink, wink).

Join us:   Facebook  and  Twitter

Brainwashing al la Elmo

Oscar loves chocolate.  If we could have chocolate for dinner, we’d have a happy three year old and a very peaceful house.

But alas, apparently chocolate isn’t good for main meals, and so we must battle. Sometimes we reach a compromise and settle on vegemite toast, yoghurt or bananas for dinner but most often I stick to my guns and Oscar sits sullenly in front of a plate of untouched food, next to a nagging Mum who’s not only driving him nutty, but also the rest of the family.

I’ve tried negotiation.  I’ve tried flat-out bribery.  I’ve tried threats.  I’ve played good cop.  I’ve played bad cop.  All to little or no avail.

Oscar is a healthy, happy kid. He’s growing well and he never stops running, so my concerns are not nutritional.  Nonetheless, I do worry about the habits that are being learnt as he grows up…he is so quickly becoming a big boy and I know only too well how deeply ingrained eating habits can become. So I was getting desperate, I really needed to win this argument.

Last week I used a different approach in the hope of convincing Oscar that new food wasn’t enemy number one.  At the risk of being shown up as a not so perfect mother, I’d like to run this strategy past you as I’m interested to hear what people think about it…

I used the power of television. More specifically, the influence of one little red monster named Elmo.

Last week at the video shop, instead of Ben 10 or Toy Story, I convinced Oscar to choose Sesame Street’s Happy Healthy Monsters. After this, the ‘brainwashing’ commenced – happy monsters love to jump, happy monsters love to drink milk, happy monsters love to eat healthy, fresh food. And they do all these things with a great big smile ontheir face.

And guess what?  So did Oscar…

The process was helped no end by the play-along game Oscar found in the Extras section where Oscar was able to help Cookie Monster make salads, spaghetti and meatballs, fruit salad. I reinforced this by asking Oscar to help me cook dinner that night. I know it’s not a new idea, but I really did find that Oscar was much more interested in eating what he’d had a part in cooking.

We’ve had a much better go of it since then. It’s not perfect, but we’re certainly getting there. Oscar will now eat rice and vegetables, he’s loving fish and even though we have to call it ‘fish’, he quite likes chicken too.

So my question is this – does TV have a legitimate place in helping to teach children?  I know many people would say a big no, while others would say that it’s a means to an end and you do what you have to do to teach your kids the best of lessons.

What do you think?

Tickled pink by not so cross buns…

Today saw hot crossed buns replaced by pink buns at Bakers Delight.

Between the 28 April and 18 May 2011 Bakers Delight is participating in The Pink Bun Campaign and will be selling pink buns and pink lady cut-outs with 100% of proceeds going to Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).

BCNA do amazing work supporting women and their families throughout their diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, with practical and emotion advice and support.  I can personally vouch for the incredible assistance this support offers, for a start I would have been absolutely lost without their My Journey Personal Record.

So if you like sweet buns (giggle…) and worthy causes as much as I do, I’d suggest a quick visit to your local Bakers Delight and enjoy a yummy treat without the guilt.

An interesting answer

Well, I’m still laid up in hospital.  I am at least feeling quite a bit better, and I can see straight again, now that the meds are little less frequent and at a much lower dose.

As I mentioned in my last post, I don’t think I would survive hospital nights with my sanity if it weren’t for my podcasts.  I wanted to share one with you that I have listened to a couple of times this week.  It’s by Kate Grenville, and it’s quite insightful.

As an Arts student, I was asked many times – why? What are you going to use Arts for?  I have in fact asked myself that question numerous times, about art, reading, and writing. I’ve never had any doubt as to their value, but I was keen to try and quantify just why they were important.

Kate’s lecture on Artists, Writers and Climate Change for ABC’s Big Ideas goes some way to respond to the question, and I think she really nicely highlights (somewhat scientifically) why art and the like is so important to our well-being and to our future.

I’ve popped a link to the vid and the podcast above, and I’d really recommend that you give it a listen.  Feel free to share your thoughts.

And now for a little lie down…

In da joint again…

No, not that kind of joint (hehehe) the hospital kind, green curtains, nurses and adjustable beds (Homer says bed goes up, bed goes down).

So just a quick little note to let you know that That Book You Like will have to take some a little bit of convalescent leave while they fix me up (and the old Mandi J needs plenty of fixing). Stay tuned though, can’t keep me down for long.

I’ll just mention while I’m here, one of the main things that is keeping me sane at the moment is my ipod, and in particular podcasts…ABC’s Big Ideas, BBC World Book Club, The Penguin Podcasts.  God-sent.

Has anyone got any suggestion of good, easy-listening podcasts?  If you do, maybe pop them up on That Book You Like’s Facebook page.

The beat of my heart

Romance stories can be about love, about imagination, and about washed-up rock stars.

I had an echocardiogram a couple of days ago, just to make sure that my heart was still beating…rest assured it is, a relief to be sure.

The scan, along with the fact that Valentines Day is being flogged a bit at the moment, got me thinking about the more romantic titles I’ve read over the years.

It’s actually been a while since I’ve read anything very concerned with matters of the heart, but here are a couple of favourites that found their way off my bookshelf most recently.

Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby

Hornby is really good at this kind of story.  He’s stories are essentially about relationships, but the contexts that he sets them in are unique and engaging, making his novels about much more than just romance.  I’m thinking particularly of High Fidelity and About a Boy…it’s really easy to engage with the characters and identify with the situations (particularly for us X-Gens) and the search for romance is only part of the appeal.  Hunting for love tends to link closely to hunting for a better understanding of themselves. Juliet Naked is no exception, and I found it even easier to get hooked into this story, thanks to its female protagonist – Annie.  It’s a story of a romance, but it’s so very innocent and conservative, very much like Annie herself.

This novel seems to me to be more about imagined relationships than actual ones. Duncan’s obsession with Tucker, Tuckers’ fabled love-triangle with Julie Beatty, and finally Annie’s crush on Tucker.  It’s when these relationships become real that they loose some of their appeal.  A very nice ditty, this one.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
Oo-ah, bit naughty!  A little snobby I know, but I really have to admit to this being one of my favourites.  It’s an absolute classic, and a blueprint for so many romances hereafter.  And it’s more than a little bit naughty as far as classic literature goes.

The most obvious observations would be around the themes of discontent, passion, so on and so forth.  I think though the element that I like the most is the fact that Connie is so inclined to throw caution to the wind.

It is perhaps a little bit of a shame that the tale itself has been a little over simplified in screen adaptations (just Google-search images for Lady Chatterley’s Lover and you’ll see what I mean).  Nonetheless, it’s a beautifully written novel, and a compelling tale from start to end.

Nice Work
, by David Lodge
Now,  some might argue that it’s not really a romance, but at the end of the day that’s the part of the story that stood out for me so I’m going to list it.

At first I didn’t want to read this book.  I had to read it for Uni and I found the description not at all tempting.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story of academic Robyn Penrose, and engineer Vic Wilcox was quite fascinating.  Even now, I’m surprised by how often this book comes to mind.  Perhaps it’s because the unlikely affair between Robyn and Vic is somewhat synonymous with the unlikely balance we all have to find day-to-day…often we work outside our interests, we do chores well outside our passions, and we have to get along with people who are well and truly of a different ilk to us.  As unfamiliar as Robyn and Vic’s worlds are to each other, I’d think that this type of scenario is familiar to many readers.  At the end of the day this unsettled, unsettling and short-lived union between two different worlds works very nicely as a romance story.  Lovely.

If you’re interested, David Lodge spoke to BBC World Service about his novel – quite interesting actually.  Check it out here if you’re keen… David Lodge Podcast

Read any lovely love stories?