A post sponsored by Nuffnang


Do you remember the first movie you ever saw at the cinema? Mine was Star Wars, not bad eh. I was five, Dad was taking my brother and I BEGGED to go too. My main memories from it was how big the cinema was, how dark and cold it was as the lights went down and how LOUD it was. I imagine this was not George Lucas’s intent as far as memory goes but there you have it.

As time went on and I saw more movies – always a very special experience as a child – there was always that sense of wonder and awe at what I saw. Of being transported. A very early viewing was Dot and the Kangaroo  and then  Little Boy Lost. I cried in Little Boy Lost and I remember my aunt turning to me and chastising me for doing so. I choose to focus on the power of film to make a six-year-old cry rather than the surly aunt.

For fear of coming over all ‘back in my day’ there is something to be said about movies from my childhood versus movies from my children’s childhood. My recollection is that there was always an element of fantasy. That even if it was based in reality there was still an element of magic, of stretching the truth, of fantasy.

Which brings me to Hugo. OH man, I ADORED this movie. A.DORED. It is the story of a boy, Hugo, who lives in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. I KNOW. His life is precarious, fragile and solitary until a connection is made and a mystery unravelled. It is intoxicating. In the clip I’ve embedded below, Martin Scorsese – let’s call him Marty –  talks about film being magical but based in reality. That pretty much sums it up.

There’s a lot of film geek guff going on about it being in 3D and apparently James Cameron (you know, Titanic) said it was a masterpiece and the best use of 3D he’s ever seen. Who am I to argue and I’ve really been quite dismissive of the whole 3D experience (as @AnIdleDad once said, while you still have to wear glasses to see it 3D is dead to him) and I am totally talking through my arse to comment upon it, I do think the 3D component of it adds something to the depth of the film, the richness of the cinematography. It’s less about things jumping out at you and more about drawing you in to the world it portrays.

As it’s directed by Marty let’s be frank, it was destined by become an instant classic. The Golden Globes are on in a week and its nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Score.



Hugo is played by Asa Butterfield, the actor who played Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I can not express adequately how incredible he is.

Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G, Bruno, Borat) plays the Station Inspector. I’m not sure if his appalling attempt at a French accent is meant to be ironic or for comedic effect but man, it’s b.a.d.

Below is Marty talking about the movie, Part 1 is more about the role of 3D and the decision process he underwent to use it (his 12-year-old daughter and her friends asked if it would be), this part is more about the story itself:


But enough about me, did Chef enjoy it? Did the BOYS enjoy it? Is ‘yes’ with a shoulder shrug an answer?

This really is about storytelling of old with the modern wonders of 3D. It unravels a mystery through telling the history of cinema. It’s a film about a boy but does that necessarily make it a film for children? Yes and no. All four of mine watched it WITHOUT the aid of popcorn, chips, drinks, chocolate or any other bribe. Grover (4) was the only one who got obviously restless. So yes, I would say that the cinematography is that visually intoxicating it will capture a child – be it an older (as in school age) or at least a thoughtful one.

I think it now stands as the movie to show children that all cinema is not action! and drama! and more action! That they can slow down and think in a movie. That there is more to be transfixed in a movie. Surely that is a wonderful thing.


I’ve got three double passes to give away. Leave a comment on one of the first movies you ever saw and how it affected you to be in the running.

It’s in cinemas from 12 January 2012.


Give Ability wrap up

Sponsored by Nuffnang – well, the Westfield part, not the guinea pig part. Or the public displays of human torment at the hands of your siblings.

Saturday saw me and the boys head off to Westfield Hornsby to support the inaugural GiveAbility day.

I was travelling so well in terms of getting the children fully clothed and shod in a timely manner and we were about to set off when Mum called to me from the backyard that the pigeons* had escaped again.

You see, the day before the girls had discovered that while the grass is not necessarily greener** on the other side of the small-fence-remaining-from-a-pre-existing-garden-bed there is a definite sense of more space and freedom.***

This, in and of itself, is not that bigger deal, except for the fact our beautiful neighbours on the southern side have actually been getting a bit sick of three guinea pigs appearing in their backyard and mowing their lawn and pruning their plants.****

So instead of herding my own children out the the car to go and experience and then report back on a day of helping raise funds for children with disability, I was out in the chook pen digging up heavy cement pavers I had very very firmly embedded along the fence***** to give them a tunnel to come back through because what guinea pigs have in cuteness they lack in intellect as clearly displayed by their complete inability to come back the way they went in.

Tunnel dug it was a waiting game for their return, featuring some finely tuned prancing on my part to rush fill the hole once they were back through. Then I had to catch each of them and relocate back into their cell prison cage.

By now the boys had their shoes off and were engaged in some round of wrestling warfare that was less wrestling and warfare and more torment and torture through a sustained attack of name calling and taunts as is their current favoured form of attack.

And I was sweaty.

Then the boys expressed hunger and came at me with packets of coke****** for me to cook up for them.

I rang my contact at Westfield to let her know that we were running late and would be there at around 1.15pm, which was actually only 15 minutes late but I was trying to be professional ‘n that. I got the stomp on with the boys while noticing quite the headache simultaneously forming behind my eyeballs and at the base of my skull.*******

Remarkably we did actually arrive at 1.15pm and met the local manager of Northcott Disability Services, the local charity receiving all the money raised at Westfield Hornsby throughout the day. It was pretty awesome seeing many staff from Westfield Hornsby donating their time to the event by donning the yellow shirt and carrying around the tins to collect funds. Staff from the corporate office had also volunteered to help out at their local centre including the head of HR who was helping out at Hornsby.

The boys were sedated inhabited by some other life force remarkably well behaved and endearing before we headed out to check out the activities and meet some of the fundraisers. Students from a local high school were involved as were many staff from Westfield head office, who had nominated which centre they’d like to help out at. Decked out in bright shirts and carrying donation cans many reported the day as being ‘awesome’.

The boys, previously a cohort of eye-rolling conscientious objectors were now well and truly on board due to the presence of what to a child is the promised land:

the fairy floss stand.

With sugar coma on a stick in hand Jasper was in face painting heaven while Oscar satisfied himself by asking anyone in a yellow shirt ‘what now?’ and Grover just getting more and more outrageous due to a brand new audience finding him hilarious and adorable (warning warning!).

I can’t tell you how much I get off on this sort of thing when the money is going to a cause. Northcott has been around for more than 80 years and provides services and support from diagnosis through to job placement. These organisations have to waste far too much time securing funding and so as far as I’m concerned any way we can help lighten their load is a win win.

I think this event will only get bigger – I mean, a national juggernaut of the size of Westfield running an event in every single centre supporting local services? It promotes awareness and fosters a sense of community AND raises money. There’s a reason I agreed to do this sponsored post and that is that supporting services for kids with disability is something I am incredibly passionate about. As you know.

I’m busting to know how much was raised nationally to help children with disabilities – I mean 100% of all money raised is going to the local charity of each centre, in our case, Northcott.  These guys support 10,000 people with disabilities, from diagnosis at birth through to work placement.

We headed back to the office where the boys devoured some cupcakes I could tell it was time for us to make a break for it for no other reason than I could see the time of day combined with a sudden massive sugar ingestion along with some stunning sibling bating was seeing my boys move from delightful to demonic in a matter of minutes.

We bid our farewells and not a moment too soon as Jasper and Felix embarked on duet of torment and taunt and screamy outrage over, wait for it, Felix not making a paper plane for Jasper exactly the same as one he had made for himself. Good times.

By the time we were at the car both were getting a complete dressing down by yours truly and then there was a debacle about a missing carpark ticket and the return of that headache, but hey, money was raised and fairy floss inhaled.

A good deed indeed.




* more commonly referred to by the general population as guinea pigs. Sometimes she calls them gerbils. Just to mix it up.

** aka there being no grass whatsoever.

*** aka finding a gap where the horizontal wood beam on the boundary fence with our eastern neighbour meets the boundary fence of our southern neighbour.

**** I really wish that was a euphemism for something far more sordid but alas, no.

***** to foil any further digging tunnels under the fence because these girls were by no means getting rice custard, chocolate custard or strawberry shortcake or going roly-poly, pell-mell, tumble-bumble into anything except the next Argentinian BBQ such was my feelings toward their regular escapes.

****** aka Maggi 2 minute noodles.

******* probably a tumour.

Give Ability

Sponsored by Nuffnang


You know how I often get my stomp on about disability services and how poorly they are funded while we spend gagillions on helping a handful of people run faster and jump higher and pedal quicker for a medallion they get to keep along with the bagillion they’ll make in product endorsements? Yeah that.

Well this is different! Today we’re shining a light on one of the big end of town players that is doing something to benefit many! Yay! Jog it in guys, jog it in.

You see, Westfield (you can find your nearest one here) are holding a major national fundraising event across ALL of its shopping centres in Australia. ALL of them.

GiveAbility Day will be held on Saturday, 21 May and 100% (ONE HUNDRED PER CENT DUDES) of all donations will provide much needed funds for local children’s disability service providers in the community.

You know this is ticking all the boxes for me don’t you – local community supporting those services working in the local community.

Despite feeling intense isolation and difference when you have a child with special needs, 1 in 14 children are diagnosed as living with a disability. For the last four years the Westfield Community Program has supported children with disabilities and their families and with Give Ability Day it’s taking it one step further.

You see, most of us have ‘give ability’ – the ability to donate what we can to help give:

  • the ability for kids to take part in fun activities,
  • respite care so parents and carers can take a break too
  • new programs and facilities to be set up.

So wherever you live, on Saturday 21 May head to your local Westfield and use your give ability, however big or small that may be. There will be volunteers on hand to collect donations as well as raffles and other special events to mark the day.

The boys and I will be descending on Westfield Hornsby to lend our support, which is code for ‘Food Court: assume the crash position’. If you are there and see a maelstrom then please, come and say hi. But wherever you are, get thee along to support your local community and your local Westfield.

Tetra Pak Kids

Sponsored by Nuffnang*

I believe we’re all well versed on how challenging I find weekends with all the boys all on my own. This weekend was starting out the same way with Death By 1000 Questions from Oscar and a.l.l. of the boys playing wargames in the back room. At 5.30am.

By 10am I was reading the riot act, thinking to myself, AWESOME barely 18 hours into the school holidays and I’m already putting new rules and job lists on the fridge and yelling at the offspring. Way to go, Idaho.


BUT! I had an out. Saturday afternoon we had been invited to an event put on Tetra Pak to encourage healthy eating and exercise called Tetra Pak Kids (there is even a page on Facebook you can become a fan of here). It was at Marrickville which, for those out-of-towners or equally geographically challenged as myself, is here:

From our place, on the other side of the city, it is actually quite straightforward to get there, albeit a bit of a hike. I’d allocated just under an hour to get there. Which would of been fine, if I hadn’t have thought Marrickville was in the vicinity of Balmain, which is here:

Now, to get from where I was to where I should be doesn’t look that bad. Factor in a dodgy GPS, trying to use GoogleMaps on my iPhone and Saturday afternoon traffic and well, hello 1hour and 45minutes. With.four.boys.

Needlesss to say, by the time we arrived Oscar was, naturally, the only one feeling a glimmer of excitement and enthusiasm. I think Grover captured our collective state of mind:

It was not looking good.

And then, well, then I’m not sure what happened. Well, yes I am, these guys were well versed in how to engage disengaged kids. Oh sure, Oscar was in amongst it from the get-go becoming best buddies with the Tetra Pak Kids Ambassador, Wendll Sailor (who is an absolute legend and did.not.stop for the entire FOUR hours) but the others were not so sure.

The games were put on hold for a brief cooking demonstration by celebrity chef Darren Simpson and suddenly my boys were in. FOOD! The program is about giving parents tips and tricks for healthy diets and exercise for their kids. Darren whipped up a penne with meatballs, sneakily made using good-quality sausages:

and a might tasty looking quesadilla:

Later on in the day he made some rice paper rolls (which we’re having for dinner tonight as the boys have been asking for them ever since Saturday’s adventure) and got some of the kids up to help make them. There’s a handful of recipes on the website – I’m definitely giving the granola a whirl as it’s got zero fat in it. Meanwhile, Felix had sat himself front and centre thus ensuring his involvement:

Afterwards, when Jasper cracked it for not getting a go, Darren found an extra wrap and let him make one up. Instantly on the good list Mr Simpson, a gold star even.

But it was after that first cooking session that things started to turn around. For starters there was this:

An enclosed jumping castle come blow-up climbing/sliding thingy that they had the kids running through finding rubber chickens and racing each other and so on and so forth. They were all suddenly laughing and running and hot and sweaty and – gasp – having fun.

At some stage the Tetra Pak Kids crew had siphoned the bigger kids off for some indoor basketball and soccer while the younger ones kept on going with the races and games through the jumping castle.

I tell you, Wendll is the absolute star. There were some diehard NRL families there, picking his brain for tips on this weekend’s games and who he truly barracks for, but for us it was about seeing someone engage with kids and have some fun. He’s endorsed a whole heap of exercises and activities for kids, primarily aged between 6-10 but really adaptable to anyone, that are also on the website.

I had envisioned us being there for about an hour or so. We were infact one of the last families to leave. It was a great afternoon of fun and activity but the main thing it did was provide me with a salient reminder that the best way to shift a fug, be it mine or the kids, is to get moving. Even just a game of footy out the back or a scooter ride up and down the street can shift the foulest of moods AND be good for you! Who knew!

There are two more events coming in Sydney:

Saturday, 16 April – Penrith

Saturday, 23 April – Campbelltown

Visit the website for details on venues and also for more information about the program.


* with apologies to you all for the oversight of forgetting to badge this as a sponsored post when I originally posted it.

Love me tender

Sponsored by Nuffnang

Spring Valley are giving you the chance to download Elvis’s song Spring Fever for free – just visit and LIKE them on Facebook, and voila, it’ll be available to you under the Elvis tab. Easy!

So what’s your favourite Elvis tune? I’m a sucker for Love me Tender:

But then You Were Always On My Mind is a fave (and I find it really heart-breaking seeing him in this video clip compared to the one above):

I’m often heard humming In the Ghetto as I attempt to clean this house:

But when I was prowling around YouTube I found this, Corrie, this is for you:

OK, it appears I’m a total Elvis fan. Who knew! Do you have a favourite Elvis hit?