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The Selfie, Self Hosted That Is

21 Jun

For just under a year and a half I have been happily plying my blogging trade on my humble free WordPress.com site. I would often glance at other fancy pants blogs and wish my pants were a bit fancier. My pants were functional and practical, like a good supportive pair of briefs. But I no longer want functional and practical underwear; I want something a little racier, something to get you in the mood, to read. Go self hosted said the little voice inside my head and then I realised it wasn’t a little voice inside my head it was actually my wife.

I can’t emphasise enough just how much I struggle with technology and change and so to make a technological change filled me with dread. I would need someone with extreme levels of skill, patience and yet more patience. Finding the right web designer is a little like finding the right partner, you need to search around and try a few out before you commit to the one.

Web designers can be an elusive bunch, every time you think you’ve found the right one they move to Montreal, or break the news that there is a 1 year wait list for their services or hit you with a quote that makes your wallet sting. After a few weeks of searching I found the one for me, her name is “Tabitha Emma” and she ticked the boxes that I needed to be ticked. To say that Tabitha has been patient during this process would be like saying that I have been a tad indecisive, both are enormous understatements.

The process of designing a new blog is by no means straight forward and my original brief changed every time a pretty blog fluttered their eyelashes at me. Colour schemes, font styles, font sizes, headings, logo’s, social media icons and the all important question to truncate or not to truncate are all things that I chopped and changed like my wife does when she is deciding what to wear for a night out. If Tabitha has a little voodoo doll of me that she has been stabbing with needles for the past few weeks then I could hardly blame her.

But we got there and today I have a site that feels like it fits just like a nice Cashmere jumper, a fitted one not a baggy one. I no longer have feelings of blog inadequacy, I feel like I can now stand up in a crowded room wearing nothing but my fancy pants and shout “come and read me”, metaphorically speaking.

I have a very small favour to ask all of you and don’t worry it’s not money. Could everyone who subscribes to the blog or has enjoyed the misadventures of this particular Dad Down Under please subscribe to the new blog through the heading that says “Subscribe” funnily enough. At the risk of having you roll your eyes I would not be writing if it was not for the readers so I hope I can tempt lots of you to follow me over to the new site, it wouldn’t be the same without you.

Check out my fancy new pants – http://daddownunder.com.au/

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What it’s Like to Be Married to a Blogger – Mrs Under

29 Apr

“Would you write a post for my blog?” he said.

“No” I said.

Then he tried using some male smarts, cooked me dinner and fed me wine and who could resist that? I had two conditions (1) I write the post entirely in my own words and press publish without any creative interference (2) I choose the topic. He seemed reluctant and I quite enjoyed watching him squirm but he agreed to my terms and conditions.

I had never read a blog when he announced he was going to start writing one a little over a year ago, in fact I don’t think he had. He had just taken over the primary carer reigns for Max and I thought it might be good for him to have something to occupy his mind. He had always enjoyed writing and is the only person I know who still writes letters to people, real handwritten letters. It can’t do any harm, can it? In all honesty I suspected his initial enthusiasm might fizzle out.

He wrote and he wrote and he wrote. He would share the posts with friends and family in an attempt to bridge the considerable gap we had put between them and us. It made him happy and that in turn made me happy. He started to get some recognition for his writing and it was hard not to love the complete and natural shock he displayed when he received his first paid piece. The thing about Matt is that he has never really known what he wanted to do with his life, he used to hate going to parties and being asked what he did for a living. He was a creative trapped in an office with no release.
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Matt has always had an addictive personality and blogging became his fix and he has quite the appetite. Outside of Max it became the dominant topic of conversation in our house. It also began to dominate his free time and his not so free time. I would come home from a long day at work to discover a fairly derelict looking home, it’s fair to say he is a more passionate writer than doer of housework. He sometimes sneaks off to the bedroom and before long I would hear the noise that I am now so accustomed to, the tap tap tapping of the keyboard. I am still trying to get my head around how all that time on Facebook constitutes work but he assures me it is and if it is then he works very, very hard indeed!

To his credit he does not let it interfere with his Max time and when he is on duty he is just Daddy without the Down Under bit. He and Max have an incredible relationship and he is an amazing father. He assures me that all the hard work will pay off and that he is doing something he loves that will ultimately benefit all of us. I’m very proud of what he is achieving and he no longer shies away from being asked what he does for a living, in fact he tells everybody.

We have recently agreed on a few ground rules and time restraints so that I get to enjoy a bit of him too. I do feel a little neglected at times but he makes up for it when we do spend time together. If you do happen to notice he is spending a little too much time in the virtual world, you have my full permission to give him a stern telling off and send him packing back to me.

Yours sincerely,

Anna – the artist formerly known as Mrs Under.

As always linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess

The Remarkable Post

8 Apr

It started off as any other day, nothing remotely remarkable about it; my sleep was unceremoniously interrupted by the cries of an angry toddler, I then wrestle a mish-mash of ill fitting clothes onto said toddler, present him with a fairly unremarkable looking breakfast which he dismisses with a glare. I work him into a frenzy with the promise of a park, the same park we visit most days, remarkably he still gets excited.

The Boy takes up his position on the swing and waits for me to oblige with a well rehearsed shove. A Mum next to me makes a remark about my sleep deprived appearance, I want to make a remark about hers but I’m distracted by my ringtone. Then the day took a remarkable turn. “We like you, we like your blog and we at The Remarkable’s would like you to join us”.
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I was remarkably lucky to meet Lorraine Murphy, founder of The Remarkables Group, a few months back at a blogger gathering. I had my sidekick in tow and was struggling to mingle and harness my son. Without me asking, Lorraine glided over and took Max by the hand giving me five minutes to do what I had to do. I didn’t need to know anymore about her, I liked her. I NEED a Lorraine, not in a creepy restraining order kind of a way, but when your response to “What is your fee?” is “whatever you think it’s worth” you do need a Lorraine. I like to surround myself with remarkable people and in my book she is one.

I have a remarkable wife who said “sure take 2 days off a week to write, I believe in you”. I have benefitted from the advice and generosity of numerous remarkable bloggers along the way. I now get to call a very talented bunch of bloggers my colleagues, even if they do ask me to stop doing it because it’s remarkably annoying, I’ll just keep doing it. And on those rare days when I ask myself “why?” I receive remarkable comments from remarkable readers who keep coming back for more; I hope your appetites are insatiable. Best of all I have a remarkable little boy who calls me Daddy.
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The most remarkable thing about me used to be my left nipple which is perfectly dissected into 3 pieces like the Mercedes car badge only less shiny and sexy. Now I have a remarkable opportunity to make an income as a blogger and continue to hang out with my little plus one. Remarkably I had never read a blog until a little over a year ago. If someone had have informed me that I would be writing this post a year on I would have called them a big fat liar and ignored their pinky swear. I love to write, not the love you declare when you’re fifteen, in a park and drunk on cider, real true love.

When Lorraine asked if I had any doubts the only one I had was whether I can still be the Dad I want to be. That is and will always be my priority. I will always post about being a Dad but like a good Burlesque dancer I will slowly reveal a bit more of myself. Prior to wearing the Stay at Home Dad label I proudly wore a snazzy Modern Man label; food, fitness, fashion, design and travel all score big points with me so expect posts to have a little more of that flavour. There will be more work with brands but brands that are relevant to you and me.
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When I was an impossibly moody teenager my very dear Nan picked up on my love for writing. She bought me a book titled something along the lines of “How to Write” and told me it might come it useful one day. I dismissed it out of hand but took it bed each night and read it front to back over and over. Thanks Nan.

Ambassador Down Under – Dettol Mission for Health

10 Jan

There’s something very exciting as a Blogger about getting an email from a PR company, it’s like a present full of promise and wander – is it going to be another pair of navy socks from your nan or it could be that iPad you’ve been holding out for. A while back I got one such email asking if I would be interested in being an Ambassador for Dettol’s Mission For Health. Me? Really? I love Dettol, where do I sign?

 Not only do I get to call myself an Ambassador, which I love and now insist on, but I also got to fly to Sydney to break bread with the rest of the team and met some brilliant people that I now pester, sorry network with, on a fairly regular basis. My eating of yummy food and chatting to lovely people was rudely interrupted by a man wielding a video camera asking if I was ready to do my piece. Come again? Your piece to camera. So without further delay here is my acting debut. pparently I’m up for 2 Golden Globes and an Oscar and Max is up for Best Supporting Actor, I am in the same category as Ryan Gosling and apparently he’s all that and a bag of chips, so I am an underdog but I’ll go for the free canapes.

Said brilliant people; Nikki from Styling You, Beth From Baby Mac Christie from Childhood 101, Sarah from Dear Baby G and Katrina from The Organised Housewife.

 If I look a little flustered, okay a lot flustered,  it is because I am grappling an underslept toddler who does not want to “smile for the camera”. In my infinite wisdom I thought it would be great to bring a toddler along to break the ice and show everyone what a brilliant parent I am, turned out he broke 2 wine glasses, 1 vass and 1 dad’s spirit. The day was not for the fainthearted and went something like; taxi, aeroplane, taxi, fancy eatery, taxi, plane, taxi, bottle shop, bed. It is fair to say that any functions I might be fortunate enough to attend in the future will be done without a plus one.

Dettol keep sending me big packages full of cleaning products that much to Mrs Under’s delight I am putting to good use, the house has never had it so good, I feel very much at home in an apron and a pair of rubber gloves………..and other clothes of course. Not only do I get to go to fancy eateries, hang out with brilliant people and get freebies but I get to write! So far I’ve written 4 articles about parenting from a Dad’s eye view and I look forward to writing lots more. Watch this space.

http://missionforhealth.com.au/a-modern-day-christmas/

http://missionforhealth.com.au/folding-prams-daddys-way-and-other-practical-tips/

http://missionforhealth.com.au/happier-changing-relationships-why-men-are-stepping-up-to-the-challenge-of-stay-at-home-dads/

http://missionforhealth.com.au/groundhog-day-avoiding-the-same-same-blues-when-at-home/

Blogging The New Therapy?

6 Dec

My Blog has become a barometer for my feelings and emotions, a Blog-o-meter if you will. I wrote a post the other day that I probably wouldn’t write today because I feel differently today. Stay at home parenting can be an incredibly fickle business, some days it’s the best thing since disposable nappies and on others my enthusiasm is on a par with changing said disposable nappy. Blogging is cathartic in that regard, rather than hold onto any of the emotions that I might have that day, good or bad, I throw them out there and see what happens.

I imagine most bloggers could look back at some older posts and wonder if it was a guest post because they no longer subscribe to that way of thinking. That’s one of the beauties of Blogging you have a permanent reminder of the journey you’ve been on.  With that in mind I thought I would take a nostalgic journey back in time and pick out some of my previous posts and try and work out what on earth I was thinking. Some make me cringe, some make me smile a knowing smile and some make me want to press delete.IMG_3259

“Excuse me, our one appears to have come without a manual” reflects on the fear of having a little person to have to care for and not feeling prepared. It also captures the memory of feeling a little redundant in those early days, a sentiment I’m sure many other Dads out there relate to https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/excuse-me-our-one-appears-to-have-come-without-a-manual/

When I wrote Gender Bending I had recently taken over the reigns as Max’s stay at home parent of choice. I think beneath the attempted wit and bravado I was scared and lonely. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to live up to the high standards set by Mrs Under and I was lonely, I had no family to call on, I was not part of a parents group and having not been in Australia long I had no real social network. I think in those early days I probably got fairly close to being depressed https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/88/

Walk the Walk tries to be funny, emphasis very much on tries folks, but deep down it’s actually about the competitive nature of parenting, something we all seem to get dragged into https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/walk-the-walk/

I Love must have been born on one of those perfect parenting days where everything goes well and you feel compelled to shout about how lucky you are to be a parent. Reading it back brings back some memories that would otherwise be forgotten – https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/i-love/IMG_2683

Forgive Me Fathers For I Am About to Sin was one of those brutally honest posts that probably saw me go down in some peoples estimations, I lost a few followers and received one or two heated replies. It wasn’t meant to be offensive, it was simply how I felt that day and I’m sure how lots of others have felt before and since https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/forgive-me-fathers-for-i-have-sinned/

Operation Preparation is me struggling to come to terms with how to raise my son, how I want to raise him in an ideal world or how I feel I have to raise him in this world?  https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/operation-preparation/

Man Enough for the Boy raises more self-doubt, a common theme it seems, anyone know a good shrink? Behind the one liners I am essentially questioning whether I have what it takes to be a good Dad https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/man-enough-for-the-boy/

9/10 was a rare moment of self congratulation. Rather than brazenly give myself 9/10 I cunningly use Max as a foil and seem to just about get away with it https://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/910/

And there you have it, a little bit of therapy in the shape of a blog. To put your feelings out there for others to judge and comment on is an act of bravery (or stupidity depending on how you look at it). You are open to criticism, judgment and on occasion compliments and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank you to everyone who has felt compelled to read, comment, relate, criticise, laugh, cry, tut, lol and even bahahaha on occasion. I write for me but without you it just wouldn’t be the same.IMG_1378

Blogger Children

17 Nov

Blogger children have evolved from regular children and are a relatively new breed. The first Blogger Children were sighted in the late 80’s, they are now globally rampant and threatening to displace regular children.

Blogger children are more independent than regular children, they have to be, they are forced to fend for themselves for large periods of the day whilst their parent fannies around with Instagram and Pinterest. They are largely starved of attention and are forced to delve into their vivid imaginations, often inventing games that last for hours on end armed with nothing more than an i-Pad. Mimicking behaviour sees blogger children show unhealthy levels of fascination in phones, laptops and computers, in fact anything with lights and buttons.

Their habitat is usually a little dishevelled and there is a good reason for this, whilst regular parents spend their days ensuring that their nests are kept clean and tidy, the Blogger Parent is too busy ‘networking’ to give a damn about the hoovering or emptying the dishwasher.

Whilst regular children enjoy a healthy and nutritious diet lovingly prepared by their regular parents, the Blogger Parent is known for their habit of making half arsed sandwiches or special toast sandwiches. Having frittered away three hours of Blogger Child sleep time in a flurry of Facebook Status Updates, the Blogger Parent is left in a state of panic and putting something between two slices of bread is usually the best they do.

Blogger Children grow up with a sense of self importance and often see themselves as Alpha children, they habitually mock Regular Children pointing out that they are not worthy of a website entirely in their honour.

Blogger Children are social creatures, this is a survival technique, unlike regular children who spend their days at parks and the beach, Blogger Children spend an exorbitant amount of their time at ‘events’. Blogger Children can show signs of anger at said events, doing their best to accommodate PR interns who have been promoted to Blogger Child minders for the day. Their mood lifts a little as they forage for items of interest in the ubiquitous goodie bag.

The vocabulary of a Blogger Child also separates them from their regular peers. Whilst mumma and dadda seems to be high up on the regular child’s speaking agenda, Blogger Children are more likely to say widget or gone viral.

It is uncertain whether Blogger Children will continue to thrive, but it seems the global thirst for cupcake recipes and tips on toilet training will see them reach endemic proportions. If you want to see one in the wild head to your nearest cafe that offers free wi-fi. Do not pet them, feed them or even have eye contact with them, they are wild animals.

Bloggers Block – What Would Zoo Do?

9 Oct

I‘ve spent this week in a state of panic, a panic that only other Bloggers can truly understand, the panic of having nothing to Blog about. Now I know that some of my less forgiving readers are probably thinking “that doesn’t usually stop you from cobbling together a couple of paragraphs, prettying it up with some cute photos of the boy and expecting us to read it” but I couldn’t even manage that. Max is usually very obliging when it comes to supplying me with Blog-worthy material but this week he simply hasn’t complied. Don’t get me wrong he has gone through his full repertoire of cute, thrown some almighty McEnroe-esque tantrums and generally been Max, but nothing that I feel is worth inflicting bestowing upon you.

There was nothing else for it, I would have to go and dig for some engineered Blog gold. Bereft of other ideas I decide that a trip to the zoo would surely throw up something of note; perhaps a gorilla would gently pluck Max from his pram and cradle him like one of her own? In recent times the word “car” which has been Max’s mantra for a while now and has become somewhat stale, has been usurped by the word “ella”. Ella, Max’s mantra du jour, is in reference to elephants rather than Rhianna’s catchy ditty featuring the immortal line “ella, ella, ella”. In a pleasing change of heart Max has decided that Ella’s are in fact far more impressive than cars, don’t get me wrong he still loses his shit every time he sees a car, but ella’s are more betterer. So the plan was, drive to the zoo, put the boy in front of an elephant and write about it, perfect!

Throughout the entire drive I had worked the boy into a frenzy, initiating ella chanting and screaming ella trumpet noises at the top of my voice. Armed with an idiot proof map complete with large arrows and pictures of each of the animals I set about getting lost and we end up walking past the monkey enclosure about five times. We did pass one monkey that pressed itself up against the glass, peed and then much to my everyone’s amusement dabbed up the wet bits with a finger and then sucked said finger. The viewing gallery was full of other parents and low and behold a quite majestical Dad joke popped into my head; just loud enough for everyone else to hear I mutter to Max “don’t you do that will you?”, sure enough it brought the house down and built up enough false confidence for me to offer up a second helping “let’s be honest we all do it don’t we?”, this comment was met with looks of horror and revulsion, we plodded on.

It seems that I was doing my best to dodge the elephant enclosure, we saw the lions, gorillas, tigers, giraffes, zebras, this was all well and good but were the f’ing f where the f’ing ella’s. By this point I cut a fairly pathetic figure, racing around like an angry Formula 1 driver (they are all fairly angry no?) getting increasingly annoyed by the camera that kept bouncing itself rhythmically off my hip bone. Eventually I smelt the unmistakable smell of elephant dung, a smell that must have travelled with me from my own childhood trips to the zoo, discarding my map I rely on my keen sense of smell to lead me to the ella’s.

Like a bloodhound on a trail we start to hear the ella’s trumpeting, it was as if they are calling us over. Max’s frenzy had reached fever pitch, “ELLA, ELLA, ELLA, ELLA, ELLA, ELLA!!!” is the chant. I pick the boy up so he is afforded a good view of the object of his desire and wham, right in front us charges the biggest bull elephant you will ever see, this thing was the size of eight regular elephants stacked on top of one another, if you could imagine such a thing and had tusks like spears, really, really, big, sharp spears. “Look Max Ella!” I shout with too much enthusiasm for a grown man, the reaction is not what I was hoping for, Max’s smile begins to turn downwards, his bottom lip starts to quiver, his eyes well up and he delivers an impressive rendition of Dustin Hoffman losing the plot in Rain Man.

The last place you want to be with a toddler who has acquired a sudden phobia for elephants is the zoo, the place is littered with sculptors, pictures, park rides and drawings of ella’s, all of which bring on another ‘Hoffman’ from the boy. We make a dash for the car bypassing the many stuffed elephant toys in the gift shop (result) as we go. The boy was still in a state of shock when we got home so I decide to settle him with an episode of Peppa Pig, I click on the only episode that we haven’t seen and we both sit down to enjoy “Edmond’s Birthday Party”. Low and behold Edmond turns out to b a sodding ella!

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