I did it!

Yesterday, I took my last photo for the Grateful 2016 book ๐Ÿ™‚

The book is so full it won’t close. And it’s representative of the year which hasย been full to overflowing too! And as I flick through it’s pages, with dodgy polaroids, crossed out words and often indecipherable hand writing, I truly am grateful for 2016. It hasn’t been the easiest one, by far. It has challenged me, caused me to look at myself with stark honesty and it has shown me that, aside from God, I really am capable of nothing. He has sustained, comforted and been by my side through the adventure of this year.

And as I look down the barrel of 2017, there are things on the horizon that scare me, things that I know will bring me joy and plenty of ‘normal’ life in-between. Perfect ๐Ÿ™‚


Fun, fun, fun, give me more fun!




Yesterday, we went to the beach. You see, I made a fuss the other day about us not having much fun anymore. So my husband put into action a proposal I made a few months ago to have a jar that held pieces of paper with fun things to do when we have a free weekend.

Friday afternoon, we put them in the jar and the youngest member had first honours in pulling a piece of paper out. Ironically, it was one she had written, so she was super chuffed that we got to do it the next day.

We went to the beach, had fish and chips, fed the left overs to the seagulls, played catch and bocce, walked, built sandcastles and had…fun!

Fun is underrated these days. We seem to be so busy, busy, busy that fun gets left out of the equation. We need to be intentional about fun. We need to plan and actually schedule it in, otherwise, it most likely won’t happen.

Having fun is like hitting the pause button on the day to day stresses we all have in our lives. It’s a re-set mechanism that gives our minds and spirits a chance to regroup.

Fun makes us remember all the things our problems make us forget. Like how good sand feels between our toes, like how liberating it is to all sing together in the car, like how funny seagulls are when trying to get a chip thrown in the air. It’s our bodies remembering that sweet, pleasant tiredness that comes from a day of enjoyment, rather than the stressful, fitful dog-tired sleep that is more an escape than a rest.

And we remember how to smile and laugh. And we remember just how much there is to smile and laugh about.

We remember who we are, and who we are with.

And we remember that that’s what life is all about after all.

Having fun in our life doesn’t take all the problems away but it does take us away from our problems, even if only for awhile.

And it’s amazing how good it feels and how absolutely, undoubtedly, positively essential it is, not only to us but to those around us.

The family that plays together, stays together ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you intentionally have fun? If not, why not?

The reason why my husband does the shopping

I’m not sure what my problem is with boys who work in supermarkets. Some of you may remember this postย about an encounter last year.

Years ago, I embarrassed myself, my husband and a poor unsuspecting Woolies boy. You see, my husband said to me, just as we walked passed the fresh fruit and veggie section, “Would you like some peaches?” And I threw over my shoulder, saucily with a wink, “I like your peaches.” Only to discover that without waiting for a reply, my husband had taken off for the peaches in question, leaving the actual recipient of my innuendo red faced and stunned.

Yes, that’s right. My husband had somehow been replaced in that milli second by a sixteen year old Woolies boy.

Upon realising this, I dissolved into loud, nose-snorting laughter, which reddened the boy’s face even more, as he stuttered about for something to say.

I put an end to his misery and moved my trolley to another aisle. I had regained my composure by aisle four but lost it again when my husband finally caught up with me and I told him what had happened. Now both of us couldn’t stop laughing. The Woolies boy had apparently taken an early tea break because we saw neither hide nor hair of him for the rest of our shop.

We still laugh about it whenever we are in the ‘peach’ section ๐Ÿ™‚

And just the other day, I did it again.

I was trying to squeeze past two trolleys and a Woolies boy standing on a big ladder on wheels. One of the trolleys was manned by a small girl as her mother deliberated over which brand of pickles to buy. I didn’t want to run the girl over, so I said, quite loudly I guess, “Excuse me, darling.” Now, not only did the little girl turn around but so did the boy standing on the trolley, and yes, he reddened as I hastily assured him he was not who I was speaking to.

Once again, overcome by laughter, my daughter and I quickly exited to the silence that now filled aisle number seven.

I really just should not be allowed in supermarkets.

And now you know why my husband does all the shopping. It’s just better that way.


The trip in pictures.

I am still trying to collect my thoughts (could take awhile! ๐Ÿ™‚ ) but I thought I would share some photos with you to give a general outline of some of the things we got up to during the two weeks. There will be posts on certain aspects and specific experiences coming up over the next few weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

So, we got on a plane,

Landed in Thailand,


Street in Chiang Rai.

Ate these,


Crickets! They were actually not too bad ๐Ÿ™‚

Which made Charli do this,

Charli crickets

She didn’t agree with me.

We went here,

White temple

The White Temple. Amazing architecture.

Saw this,

White buddha

The White Buddha.

Rode a big grey animal,

Charli elephant

She was allowed to ride on the front where the handler normally sits. He then sat with me and, gesturing to Charli, said the Thai word for beautiful. I learnt that one pretty quickly as it was said so often in reference to her ๐Ÿ™‚ No-one else in our group was invited to sit up front….

Fell in love with these two,


Crossed this border,

Untitled 2

Felt sad at this state of living,

Untitled 3

On the Thailand side of the Burma border. It looked like it would collapse if a butterfly landed on it. The beggars on the bridge made it even sadder to me.

Helped create this,


Took this amazing shot ๐Ÿ™‚


Bought a kilo of these,


Mangosteins – yummy! Wish we had them here.

Ate this,


Met the man who changed my life who lives here,


Twenty year old Andy lives here with his mother. He will get a whole post, or maybe two, just to himself and you will hear all about him ๐Ÿ™‚

Were very happy to find this,


I wanted the bottle as a souvenir but they were the ones that get handed back and refilled at the factory…had to settle for bringing the bottle top home.

Ate here,


And here,

Green restaurant

And ate this,


Declined to eat this,


Due to my allergies and the language barrier, I erred on the side of caution and didn’t try it. Found out later that it was just some sort of sweet made from a certain palm tree. I was so annoyed as I had vowed to eat everything presented to me!

Met these crazy cats,

Lila and David and Jeff

And finally, came home to this,

Welcome home

And much more of course but you’ll have to wait for the rest ๐Ÿ™‚

14 things I love about Christmas – Day eight


Games. I grew up playing all sorts of crazy English games, as well as a few of the normal ones.

There was one called ‘squeak piggy squeak’. Everyone sat on chairs in a circle and someone was blindfolded; that person then had to sit on each persons lap and say ‘squeak piggy squeak’ and see if they could guess whose lap they were sitting on. If they guess correctly, then that person has to be blindfolded and we go again. Sounds riveting, doesn’t it?

Or how about ‘newspaper’? This is when somebody thinks of an activity and then everyone else asks them questions, such as “Do you newspaperย in the morning?” and so on, until someone guesses the activity and then it’s their turn. I used to love that game (and I stress used to!).

I’m sure some of you would know the game ‘How green you are’. It, too, is terribly exciting. Someone goes out of the room. Someone who is still in the room chooses an item in the room. Person then comes back into the room and everyone sings “how green you are” either loudly or softly, depending on how close the person is to the item as they wander the room.Once the item is guessed, another person exits the room, and repeat the whole thing over again. See? I told you it was exciting.

I can’t say I would enjoy these games now, but they typified a perfect Christmas to me as a kid. And usually, we would still be wearing our silly paper hats from the crackers, just to add some flair to the evenings events.

Nowadays, my family and I stick to the more traditional games like Articulate, Balderdash and various card games such as Billionaire and Quiddler. We still have just as much fun and it’s definitely a highlight of the Christmas season for me.

Did you, or do you still, play any crazy games or do you go for the more mainstream ones?



What’s in a name?

Some of you may have noticed that when I post on blogs etc I go by the name Fandina.

I use it in my email address and for anything else when I don’t want to use my real name. I have had questions in the past, like “What’s a fandina?” And I am constantly confused when people’s emails bounce back to them because they have typed in ‘sandina’ and I think to myself, “How silly! What’s a sandina???” ๐Ÿ™‚

So here is the story.

Once upon a time, there was a teacher aide who worked with children aged 3-5 with special needs. She loved it and longed to take them all home with her but after one failed attempt in which neither the police, the parents, or her husband were happy, she contented herself with just spending time with the children through the day at her workplace.

There came to be a little girl named Krystal who had messy hair, an impish grin and sweetness in spades. The lovely teacher aide enjoyed spending time with her and they would sing and dance and play all day (or at least until the big mean nasty teachers told them to do some ‘work’).

One day, the teacher aide noticed that Krystal didn’t call her by her real name. She called her Fandina. The teacher aide knew this was because they had their own secret faery language and felt privileged to have a new name bestowed on her. Fandina then casually mentioned how sweet this was to one of the teachers over a cup of tea and a biscuit.

“Mmmmmmm, very interesting,” replied the teacher. “Maybe we should get her hearing checked.” The teacher aide wasn’t sure if the teacher was referring to her or Krystal, so she waited quietly to see what would happen next.

The next time Fandina went to work, she was told that it had been discovered that Krystal had significant hearing loss and that was why she was calling her Fandina – not, as the teacher aide had thought, because they had a special, magical bond.

Fandina felt disappointed until the teachers threw her a big party with cake and candles and balloons to celebrate how wonderful she was in alerting them to the fact of Krystal’s hearing loss. The teachers and parents were all so grateful that they had a monument erected in her name and the Prime Minister came to shake Fandina’s hand and give her an overseas holiday as a reward.

Fandina, who goes by that name to this day, and Krystal lived happily ever after (even though Fandina has no idea where she is now or if she would even remember her).

The end.

Disclaimer: certain parts of this story may have been changed to make it more interesting.

FOMO schmomo

Hands up if you have heard of this latest psychological label?

No, I hadn’t heard of it either until recently.

FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out.

Apparently, most of our teenage and early 20-something population are running around infected, oblivious to the fact that they have this alarming syndrome. And of course, it’s being blamed on the dangerous and mental health enemies – smart phones and facebook, or other such social media.

It is said that due to facebook, and the like, being so easily accessible, the 14-25 demographic are constantly checking their friends statuses to see if anything interesting is happening that might possibly be better than what they are currently doing ie most probably working, or trying to give a fair impression of working to their boss.

I’m not saying this phenomenon doesn’t exist. Merely that ‘they’ are very, very late in labelling it.

Now, this is where I say “Back in my day….”

We didn’t have mobile phones and the internet was only accessed by those few lucky enough to have that new fangled thing called a ‘personal computer’.

Despite those seriously technological disadvantages, I was still obsessed with wanting to know what was going on in everyone’s lives. At 16, I definitely would have dropped whatever I was doing to move onto the more exciting thing I had just heard about.

You could almost say I pioneered the label ‘FOMO’ much in the same way Al Gore discovered the internet.

I am a FOMO from way back, peeps. And I have no intention of stopping now, try as I might. I have worked out that one of the reasons I don’t get my writing done is that I fear I may miss out on whatever excitement is going on elsewhere in the house and I will periodically check that, yep, husband is still watching sport or something else totally boring and go back to writing. It all stops though if anything even remotely interesting is on TV and heaven forbid I should hear laughter in the house. You are having fun?? Without me??

Yep. I have a serious case of FOMO. Do I need help? Probably.

Now, in the time it has taken me to write this blog post, I wonder what has been happening on facebook. Someone could have, you know, posted a picture of their lunch or updated their status to say they had a flat tyre on the way to work, or simply said ‘sigh. sad face’.

I best go check.

Phuket and 8 year old phonetic pronunciation

The f-word has been the beginning of some really great conversations in our family.

For instance, travel back in time with me to when our 21 year old was a sweet six year old.

First day of grade 1 –

Him: Mum, the teacher told us today that we aren’t allowed to say the f-word.

Me: Is that so? And what word is that, exactly?

Him (in a very low whisper): Fat.

Travel back with me to about eight months ago and join me in the luggage department of Myer.

Eight year old daughter: F*** it.


Eight year old daughter, pointing to sign over luggage stating possible holiday destinations: F*** it.

Me: (too hysterically laughing to respond, walks away to leave husband to deal with it)

Fast forward again to yesterday.

Same eight year old now famous for all the wrong reasons in Myer: Someone got a detention today for saying a bad swear word.

Me: Oh really? Who and what word?

Her: [name of child has been withheld in the name of I-need-to-still-be-accepted-in-the-school-carpark] _________and for the word that ends in ‘k’.

Me: Ooooooh, that IS a bad swear word.

Her: Ah uh! (thoughtful pause) Does it start with ph or f?

Me: F. Why? You don’t need to know how to spell it!

Her: No, but I do need to know whether I should say the f-word or the ph-word and not call it ‘the word that ends in ‘k”.

Like I said, the f-word has sure started some really great conversations in our family ๐Ÿ™‚

Family or friend…and never the two shall meet!

I consider myself fairly blessed in the friends and family department, plus or minus a few rogue people in each group.

And what I love most is when the two groups not only cross paths but go off, hands joined skipping into the horizon.

On my husband’s side, there is a particular case where this has happened. Where ‘family’ has met ‘friends’ in the most spectacular fashion.

Let’s call them Stibby and Looby Lou. I have known Stibby and Looby Lou almost as long as I have known my husband as they were the first family members I was introduced to.

We hit it off straight away, despite my severe lack of maturity, being just 18 as I was, and have remained in close contact ever since.

We recently spent a weekend with Stibby and Looby Lou, at their house in the beautiful Northern New South Wales. We left the chicklets with the grandparents and basically did grown up fun stuff ie pondering the particular notes of the many bottles of red, pondered the particular virtues and merits of The Voice contestants, swapped favourite book titles, and had copious chats and ‘very serious’ conversations about our various technology devices ie phones and ipads.

I love spending time with these people. There is not a laugh-free half an hour when with them, usually because one of the four of us is the friendly butt of a joke or two, or three…or four. We laugh long and hard when playing games like Cranium and Articulate (a little tiny….quark, quark!) and competition gets serious when playing games like Quiddler and
Rage (I won both, by the way ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

I love the easy way of being when we are together; I love the water bottles and chocolate by the bed; the ahmaaahzing food; the contented silences; the way we all laugh at the same things yet are more than happy to disagree and have a hearty debate when necessary. I love all these things but more than that, I just love who they are. Plain and simple.

And I’m so glad I can call them both family and friends. Double bonus ๐Ÿ™‚

So, thank you, Stibby and Looby Lou, for the weekend, for the fun, and for the friendship. We love you heaps and are looking forward to growing old with you – esp as you’ll both get ย there first and be able to give us tips ๐Ÿ˜‰